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Thread: Roots // PG-13

  1. #76
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    I've read the first two Chapters and absoloutely love the concept of the fic. An amazing idea to look at the 'roots' of a really well known professor and make them somewhat disturbed and wrecked and rather unstable too. So I love that idea in fullness. When you added in what they had done to that Stunky and the sort of plans they had for the Pokemon really worried me beyond belief, I hated him for what he had done and for his neglect of Pokemon life and I love that. It means you have your work cut out to bring Rowan back to the way he is in the games but from your talent that I've seen I can't wait to see how you do it.

    For plot, an avid description and a burning passion to write something different and in a unique and unseen style placing your characters in a different time period without the technology we're use to is such a big feat and thus from what I've seen it's definitely an 8/10. Can't wait to catch up and read more!

    Most Recent Chapter - Chapter 31: Don't Forget Me - Posted 26/01/13
    Credits to Sweet May and DanChimchar

    I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence

  2. #77
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    Haha, you got it. Professor Rowan is Professor Tree, so his history would be the tree's 'roots', literally. His foundation is his childhood, and from there he grew into the professor he is today. Finally someone got the title :P And yeah, it will be a big job to get Michael Rowan to transform, but that's what's so fun about writing this.

    So, thanks for the review harryheart! (As everyone probably saw by my update in the last post, school will be interfering with the whole writing/posting schedule. I don't want to be redundant, so just read that for more info.)

    Hopefully, I'll see you all next week!


    The story of Professor Rowan - Chapter 42 is up!

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  3. #78
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    Hey, what ever happened to this? I hope Chapter 8 is up soon!
    LudicoloGuy



    ~I have claimed the almighty Lotad~

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  4. #79
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    *Crickets chirping*


    ... Anyone still here?


    Yes?


    Good.


    Grr. Yeah, it's been a while. I'll cut to the chase this time; I guess I owe you at least that much: Schoolwork. No time. etc. Onto the good stuff!



    All right, before we begin Chapter 8, there are two things I want to get straight.

    First off, here I feature some 60's music, mostly songs by the Beatles. (Tell me you didn't see this coming.) Of course, not all of their songs were released before 1963, but they had too many awesome hits after that date for me to leave them out. Therefore, the years won't really correspond, and the story won't be completely historically accurate. (But hey, the record players are accurate, right? Right?)

    Second, (if any of you remember lololol) this is the chapter after Michael and Henry decide to take the League challenge together. This chapter will be full of battle scenes (snippets, actually). I hate writing battle scenes, so I wrote a bunch of them.

    Anyways, I hope my awful late-ness won't suddenly plunge Roots into an unfathomable abyss or anything and you'll still enjoy the chapter.

    Read on.

    0.8

    The Oreburgh Trainer's Hotel was one of the town's newer buildings, built to commemorate the Pokémon League's third successful year of operation. When it was created in 1948, the League was meant to be a small, exclusive competition aimed towards giving gifted trainers opportunities for prolonged careers. Budget cuts forced it to reform, however, and in 1950, the challenge was expanded to include trainers from any part of the region. They would roam about the continent, challenging Gyms and each other, all looking up towards the final destination of the Elite Four. The challenge grew in popularity over the years; the 1956 season was met with an unprecedented level of entries, to the point where Sinnoh was stirred into a mass-migration, and cities were at a loss for what to do to accommodate all the new trainers flooding in.

    Government officials created the eight-hotel chain in 1957, going beyond normal codes to built a sleek, silver structure that would stick out of the landscape like a sore thumb. They would be accompanied by a Pokémon Center, a customer-friendly facility designed especially to meet trainers' needs, and a Gym nearby. The goal was to make the structures memorable, to unify the diverse cities of Sinnoh under one logo - the pokéball. Eight buildings standing in eight cities, each exactly the same in design and furnishing, to give trainers from all over a sense of unity and pride.

    But to Michael, it was just another thing to squint at.

    From a distance, the hotel’s ten-floor glory shone with the sun’s painful light. Its windows were lined up in perfect rows, and the shades overhanging them did not sag the least bit. A vast lawn stood in place of the parking lot, housing shrubs and trees all trimmed to an eerie perfection. A tall sign stood by its entrance, an array of tubes spelling the phrase "WELCOME TRAINERS!" in traffic-stopping letters. When he and Henry crossed over into its walkway, Michael had to cup his hands over his eyes to shield them from the glare.

    "Something smells like big business.” Michael said, looking up. “This is practically the tallest building in the town.”

    "Yeah they’re pretty rich,” Henry said, nodding his emphasis. “And it's obvious why, I mean, so many people sign up for it and they get profits from selling merchandise.”

    “Then the room better be the best damn thing I’ve ever slept in.”

    Henry beamed. “It is! It’s amazing. Wait till you see."

    He led them up to the lobby, which was dotted with people, much like the Pokémon Center was. The front desk took up most of the space; the rest was an elevator, a few framed advertisements, a magazine rack, and a candy machine. The woman behind the front desk tilted her head to see the new arrivals, and smiled.

    "Good morning, Henry!" she called over the general noise.

    The other kids turned at the disturbance, some snickering, though Henry paid them no mind. "Good morning Miss Katie!" he replied sunnily. "Guess what? I decided to challenge Byron again. And my friend Michael's taking the challenge too! We're gonna go drop off our stuff and battle out in the courtyard." Henry jostled Michael’s arm, proving that he was there. The clerk smiled.

    "I'm glad to hear that. Good luck to the both of you!" She waved, and they got inside the elevator.

    Henry's room was on the second floor, a little way down a wide hallway. It was smaller than Michael expected, but cozy to make up for it. Two beds dominated the center, with a nightstand in between and a vanity desk off to the side. Sunlight sifted through cracks in the closed blinds, casting sleepy shadows on the carpet. There was a rotary phone and a TV too, which made him smile. Upon entering the boys went their separate ways - Michael to the TV and Henry to the desk, where he took out a planner and scribbled down the date of the battle.

    "There!" he said, and closed it with a satisfied smile. "Now all we gotta do is be ready. And look, I know just the place to battle. There's this courtyard out back. They're all trainers, of course, and they have matches there all the time. And since we’re gonna challenge the League together, I figured we should battle together too. We’ll be the unstoppable team of Henry and Michael!"

    "Mhmm," Michael replied, though his mind had trailed off. He was kneeling down beside the TV set, staring expectantly at the screen as he pressed the power button. For a few seconds, the screen remained blank.

    "... but you gotta be careful when we’re out there. Some of these kids are really tough. They've lost to Byron loads of times so they have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. But now that you’re here, we can show ‘em who’s boss! Right?”

    "Uh-huh." Michael pressed the button harder, but still to no effect. Meanwhile, Henry found a magazine within the rubble on the desk and held it up. “Look, this is Pokémon League Weekly. It’s a magazine that’s especially for the competition. They have weekly tips from the Champion, official merchandise catalogues, and other really cool stuff that helped me loads when I just started out. Even experienced trainers read it, and I think it’s really helpful. You’ll like it too. The hotels keep them up to the last five issues I think, so when we have time, I’ll take you down to the lobby and we’ll pick out a few. You can read them till the newest one comes.”

    “Cool.” Michael gritted his teeth. His finger was sore from where the button had wedged into his skin, and when he pulled it away, he saw a small square indentation. A groan escaped him, and he shook the television box with both hands. The antennae rattled noisily. "What the hell? Why won’t this TV work?"

    Henry looked over the side of the bed. "Oh. Yeah, that's broken. The staff told us that they're gonna repair all the bad TVs next week, but-"

    "Next week?" Michael rose, mouth agape. "You can't be serious, man! Do you know how much stuff you're missing? They update on the Space Race ten times in a week, and twice that for the news! Ugh. This is perfect. My one chance of catching up with things and it's blown!" Michael plopped down onto the bed, and the mattress creaked.

    "Hey, it's not all bad,” Henry said, sliding over onto the other bed. “You can still read the Weekly.” He proffered the magazine, and Michael took it grudgingly.

    The first thing he saw was a picture of a tanned, smiling boy posing next to a pair of girls against a background of steel arches. The heading read ‘Ricky Sheldon - Two Years Later’ and Michael guessed that he was the current Champion. A pokéball belt hung loosely from the boy’s waist and he wore a black pokéball-logo cap, though Michael had a hunch Ricky cared more for the girls than the pokémon.

    When he opened the magazine, Michael saw large pictures and columns of print. The text was airy and friendly, though as he read, he noticed that it placed more emphasis on the League’s glamour and excitement than its actual mechanics. At the top of every page was an image of Ricky Sheldon’s head, next to the words “I did it - so can you!” in bold print. With every page he turned Michael felt more and more awkward in this uncharted territory, yet more and more immersed as the world of pokémon trainers wrapped itself around him. For a full two minutes, he was able to forget entirely of the Space Race, and let his mind be filled with pokéball maintenance tips, badge cleaning, and even color coordination.

    He was about halfway through an absurd column about pokémon fashion - dark shades are in, apparently - when a sudden low-key music filled the room. At first, Michael thought he was hallucinating, but when he sat up, it became louder. The sound was tired and drawn-out, like a countryman hauling a heavy sack of potatoes, or old people dancing. The images made Michael cringe. He dropped the magazine onto the bed and looked over to see Henry standing by the vanity, a record player open beside him.

    Michael’s grimace must have been disgusting, for he pushed the player’s arm away and cut off the song at once. “What?”

    “What the hell did you do that for?” Michael said.

    Henry shrugged. “I like to play music while I read. It’s relaxing.”

    Michael crossed his arms and sighed. “Okay. First of all, you don’t randomly blare out music when someone else is reading. It’s not cool, and on top of that, it’s rude. I didn’t ask you to play me anything. And second of all... dude. Your mom must have dropped you on your head when you were little, because your taste is terrible. Forget relaxing; that song’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard!”

    His words met Henry full in the face, and within seconds, the boy’s shoulders had drooped. “Sorry. I was just trying to make things a bit more fun. You know, since the TV wasn’t working. It’s just that this record is the only one I have. But I like it.”

    Michael peered into the record player, but all he saw was a shiny black record with no label. "So whose is it?"

    "My mom's," Henry replied.

    "No, I mean the band. Who's the band?"

    “Huh?” Henry’s eyebrows perked, then lowered. “Oh. No band, sorry. It’s an individual artist. I forget her name, but she’s really good.”

    Michael snorted. “And how old is she, ninety?”

    “What’s that supposed to mean? I think the song’s really cool. It reminds me of the country.”

    "More like retirement community. You need to really reconsider your tastes."

    Henry bit his lip. "But there's nothing wrong with the song! My mom says-"

    "I'm not asking you what your mom says. Seriously, you’re way younger than she is, and no teen would listen to that album. And yes, this even applies to you. You can’t like this stuff. You just can’t. End of story.”

    Henry sat down in the chair and began to twist himself back and forth. “Yeah, I guess...”

    “You ‘guess’ what? Isn’t there any other music you listen to?”

    No answer.

    “Do you listen to Pink Floyd?"

    Henry shook his head. "Nope."

    Michael stifled a laugh. "Pathetic. All right, let's try again. Do you listen to Jimi Hendrix?"

    "No."

    "How about the Beach Boys? The Rolling Stones?"

    Henry shook his head for both, and repeated the motion for every single big name Michael called out, his eyes blank like a child's. When Michael had recited every single band in his collection, and had each one of them rejected by Henry, all he could do was stare in amazement.

    "What rock do you live under? Seriously! You can't tell me you've never heard of any of them! And the Beatles, dude. How can you not know who the Beatles are?"

    "I never said I didn't know who they were..." Henry said, his voice dropping to its familiar whisper. "I just don't listen to them."

    "What, do you not like them or something?"

    "No, I do. Their songs are really carefree and happy. You know, they make you feel good. And at the same time, some of them are really deep too. But my mom doesn't let me to listen to them. She thinks they're a bad influence."

    "How?"

    "She thinks that if I'll listen to them, I'll want to do drugs and wear my hair long and stuff."

    "What's wrong with long hair?" Instinctively, Michael reached up to brush back his bangs. He hadn't cut his hair in over a month, so the ends nearly touched his shoulders. As a result of evenings cutting it with school scissors in front of a bathroom mirror, his layers were uneven and his hair formed a sort of messy black helmet. Yet, it was a style he had always liked, and one that any trip to the barber would ruin. Henry backpedaled instantly.

    "Oh, I didn't mean you!" he said. "I don't think that all kids with long hair are bad. That would be unfair to, you know, the kids that aren't. It's just that some of them are. Like in my neighborhood, there's a group of kids who like to pick on people." Henry shifted. "They idolize rock bands, and they try to look like them by wearing their hair long. They get wasted after school too. One of them got into a car crash last month. I think it's because of the drugs, but my mom said it's because his hair was too long and he couldn't see what was in front of him. And she doesn't want me to be like them. My school, even. They suspend any boy with hair longer than the tips of his ears and they don't let him come back until he gets it cut."

    "That's messed up," Michael said, shaking his head with true pity for the little kid. "What dump of a school do you go to?"

    "It's a private school."

    "Then it's no wonder you're such a sissy. The kids at private schools are too sheltered. You never learned to face the real side of life. You know, if you spend your entire childhood doing what your mommy says, you're never gonna learn to be yourself. You wanna listen to the Beatles? Let's listen to the Beatles." Michael went over to his backpack and opened it to its largest pocket, where he had packed his records. He had browsed rather hastily through his music collection that night, so of the Beatles he only had Abbey Road and The Beatles. Michael took out both albums and set them down on the table.

    "Wow, you have Abbey Road!" Henry said. "That's their best!"

    "I know. And from now on, we only listen to this.” Michael quickly replaced Henry's record with his and slid the player's arm over to start the song.

    Immediately, a smooth, snappy beat shook the room, followed by the voice of John Lennon.

    Here come old flat-top he come... groovin' up slowly he got...

    The song went on, the notes weaving into strands of memories that entangled Michael's mind. The song made him think of summer, of his last days of school, sitting on a desk and throwing paper airplanes. He was walking through the halls with Cory and Brendan again, his footsteps in tune with the beat of drums. Music had always had that effect on him - it made his thoughts soar, and if he played it loud enough, he'd enter another world. Brian would always be complaining how he couldn't study with all the ruckus.

    Beside him, Henry was also enjoying the tune. He was strumming his fingers against the wood and humming along to the words.

    "This is amazing!" he said, smiling. "I haven't heard this song in such a long time. It reminds me of... well, me!"

    "That's what music does," Michael said. "It puts you in a different state of mind."

    "Yeah... and I don't want to stop listening to it!" Henry said. "Let's stay in a little longer, okay?"

    "We'll be sitting here for hours. Let's just bring it with us."

    "Out to the courtyard?" Henry looked to the door uncertainly.

    "What? Is it not allowed or something?"

    "No, but don't you think it'll be a bit weird if we just play music out in the open? People will stare and stuff."

    "So what?" Michael switched off the record player, which had only begun to blare the chorus, and lifted the box into his arms. "Let's go. It'll attract attention and we'll get more challenges." With his free hand, he hoisted his backpack onto his shoulder and motioned for Henry to follow.

    They did not have to go far; the courtyard’s entrance was also on the first floor, at the end of an adjacent hallway. It was a simple, square field enclosed by a brick wall and centered by a flagpole. There were more than a few kids here, some hanging back in the corners and some running with their pokémon and flying kites. But what dominated the scene, and what Michael noticed first, was a large rectangular boundary marked by white paint. A mass of kids stood on the sides, cheering and pumping their fists around some sort of event. As he drew closer, Michael realized that in the center were two pokémon - a Poochyena and a Linoone - beating the crap out of each other.

    "Wow! Let's watch!" Henry beamed. He tugged him forward by the sleeve, and Michael pressed the record player closer to his chest.

    "Watch the player, watch the player!" But before he could pull away, he was already in the middle of the action, jostled by countless elbows and hands, his head filled with the noise. Through the constantly moving gaps, he could glimpse a boy in a black jacket squatting down on the Linoone’s end of the battlefield. His teeth were bared in a snarl that made him look strikingly similar to his pokémon.

    "Go! Go! Use Slash!" he shouted, while the crowd of kids continued to cheer. Michael couldn't tell if the Linoone had obeyed or not; it continued to claw ravenously at the Poochyena's body as it had before, like a boxer whose adrenaline had gone off the edge.

    The unfortunate opponent stood on the other side of the battlefield - a young girl, visibly younger than her opponent, watching the combatants twist over and around each other, with blue eyes so large they looked ready to burst. Michael strained to follow the pokémons’ moments, but just when he pinpointed their location, the blur of color had moved to another, taking a trail of dirt and whipping tails with it. Then, without warning, their dance snapped. The Linoone, apparently, was the one that had struck the final blow. The only thing Michael had time to see was a set of sharp, glinting talons raised up to the light, then brought down onto a wriggling grey body, drawing blood. The smaller pokémon collapsed, and the Linoone bellowed its victory. The girl's mouth fell open in what might have been a scream, but the sound was swallowed in an outbreak of applause. The boy in the black jacket stood and raised his arms like a champion boxer, before a posse of boys surrounded him, frantically exchanging strips of money. It all happened so fast that Michael barely had time to assess the situation.

    Henry, however, seemed to process it perfectly. He was standing on his toes, pointing and shouting just like the others. His frantic gaze jumped from Michael, to the battlefield, then back again. “Wow, that was so amazing! Michael, did you see that last one? Huh? Did you see it? That kick, then the Slash, then the Poochyena just fell! It was so awesome! That kid’s good!”

    Michael could only nod in reply.

    It became quiet in waves, and the party surrounding the winner gradually receded, allowing him to pace the arena in all his arrogance.

    "Anyone else wanna battle?" the boy shouted. "Come on, anyone?"

    Several kids turned heads, but for a while, no one stepped up to take the challenge. The boy’s grin grew wider, as if this was what he had been expecting. Suddenly, Michael felt someone nudge his shoulder. He turned, and saw Henry wink.

    "Come on, you so got this!"

    "No!" Michael hissed. "Don't you get it? We can't rush into a battle that quickly! We have to watch to see what strategy this kid has so we can counter him."

    “You sure? Well, fine then,” Henry said.

    They watched in silence as another boy, a taller blond, rose up for the challenge. The two met, exchanged some verbal abuse, then went off in separate directions. The blond boy pulled a pokéball from his pocket and twisted it open. A bright flash lit his hands, then a small pokémon landed at his feet. A Turtwig. Michael's eyebrows perked. Quickly, he threw his backpack onto the ground and sat down next to it. Henry looked over, and bent down next to him.

    "What are you doing?" he whispered.

    "I'm making a chart." Michael took out his notebook and a pencil, and began to sketch a table. He divided it into several rows and columns, labeling the first row as 'Grass', and the first column as 'Normal' to stand for the Linoone. "See? This is perfect! That guy has a Turtwig, so by watching him, I can get a few good pointers on what to do with mine." Once he finished, Michael put his pencil down and watched.

    The boy's Turtwig, meanwhile, had launched into a slow jog, its eyes narrowed. It made a clunky, labored pace, its leaf flopping awkwardly. Then, a gust of brown wind swept it off its feet, nearly too fast for the eye to see, and rolled with it onto the asphalt. The kids roared. Two bodies tumbled over, and the circle wobbled and widened as people rushed to step out of their way. Linoone was on top of its opponent now, lashing out with claws and tail, knocking the Turtwig forward and backward while the cheers drowned out its cries. It was a pitiful sight, and Michael tore his gaze away from it just in time to jot down a note: 'Linoone is very fast. Turtwig is slow. Linoone will knock out Turtwig before it can throw a single leaf.'

    As he predicted, the boy with the Turtwig lost, and in a matter of minutes. The Linoone boy was once again surrounded by applauding fans, his white grin visible for only a few fleeting moments between the jumping bodies. His group of friends immediately broke off from the main crowd, headed away towards the flagpole. Michael caught glimpse of the blond boy somewhere behind, departing off to the sidelines, his eyes sunken.

    "Wow, that boy was really good!" Henry said, watching the group go. "You should have battled him though. You could have so taken him.”

    “Dude, did you see what he did to that kid’s Turtwig? The same thing would have happened to mine.”

    Henry shook his head. “But you’re a better trainer than he was. You could’ve just done the leaf thing and knocked the Linoone out!”

    Michael folded the chart and placed the notebook into his backpack. “What makes you think that if that kid’s Turtwig lost, mine would win? Same species of pokémon are the same. I mean, yeah, some can have genetic differences that would make them stronger or faster or weirdly-colored, but a Turtwig’s never gonna beat a Linoone in a race.”

    “I guess,” Henry said. “So are we gonna go find some people to battle? I’ve got my team ready.” He tapped his knapsack.

    Michael took a look around. A good portion of the crowd had left, though the kids that had stuck by were beginning to converge. They were all still on speaking terms, however, their voices mellow and hushed. When he and Henry approached, the circle opened a little. A boy with glasses immediately distanced himself to meet them, smiling, apparently recognizing them. He was a bit taller than Henry, and had a mound of red curls flopping over his ears.

    “Henry! Hey!”

    “Hi Sebastian!” Henry said, and skipped forward to meet him. “I didn’t see you there. Long time no see!”

    “Yeah, where have you been all week?” the boy asked. “You’ve missed so much! Maria went on to Eterna and this one kid, Eric I think, got so frustrated he went home!”

    Henry’s jaw dropped open. “Wow! Well, you know what they say. First Gym’s the hardest.” The two shared a laugh. Henry promptly turned to Michael and tugged him forward. “This is Michael. He’s my friend. I met him over by Route 203. We’re gonna take the Gym challenge together!” Then, to Michael, he repeated the introduction. “Mike, this is Sebastian. He’s one of the kids I met here. He’s really nice, and he’s a good trainer too.”

    Henry stepped back, and the two boys looked each other over. Sebastian wasn’t much - he wore a simple T-shirt and jeans, and stood with a neutral posture pretty relaxed for his age. As his eyes traced Michael’s face, it was obvious that he sensed the age difference. “How old are you?” the boy asked.

    “Thirteen,” Michael said, figuring there was no use hiding it. He watched, unsurprised, as Sebastian’s eyebrows climbed.

    “Wow. That’s kinda late. When did you get your starter?”

    “Few days ago.”

    Sebastian nodded, but didn’t press it further. “Okay. So yeah, we were just about to get a battle started. Can you believe it? We had to wait for an hour so that Dennis kid and his group could finish.” He shook his head slowly. “He’s so annoying.”

    “You mean that kid who just won?” Michael said. He looked over towards the flagpole, where the group of boys was gathered. They were kicking around something now - a soccer ball, it seemed - and laughing maniacally. When the ball hit the flagpole, it wobbled noisily, and the laughter increased. The kids around them were either watching in annoyance, or trying to ignore them.

    “Yeah,” Sebastian said.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kid here before, though,” Henry said. “When did he check in?”

    “About a day after you left. He’s been walking around like he owns the place from the start, and he hasn’t even battled the Gym yet.”

    “Well, has anyone here beaten him before?”

    “Oh yeah. But he never lets it get to him.” Sebastian’s face darkened. “He’s a friggin’ cheapskate, that kid. If he loses the bet, he says he’ll pay you tomorrow, but he never does. And if you ask about it, he pretends he doesn’t know what you’re talking about. So don’t battle him. Ever. It’s a loss either way.” He took a deep breath, and the redness in his cheeks subsided a little. “Anyway. We’re all waiting for him to take the Gym and move on outta here. His match is tomorrow, I think, and for our sake, I hope he wins. That way the decent ones will be able to practice too.”

    “Okay. So who’s battling who now?”

    “We were thinking of doing it in a sort of tournament style, only everyone gets to battle everyone. So one person gets to be it for the round, and the others in the group take turns battling him or her. If they win, then the next person in line goes, but if they lose, then the challenger takes their spot and the next person comes in, and so on.”

    “Sounds cool,” Henry said. “Who’s it?”

    Sebastian pointed to himself. “Me. Kyle already called first, but the rest we’ll just choose as we go along. You guys in?”

    “Sure,” Michael said.

    “All right,” Henry said, pumping his fist. “Let’s do this!”


    From there, the group arranged itself pretty quickly. Michael got in line after Cindy, and Henry went behind him. Sebastian took his place at the head of the battlefield, and removed one pokéball from his belt.

    “Go!” he shouted, releasing a jet of white light, which gathered itself into a ball and took the shape of a Geodude. The pokémon rolled around on the terrain, its two arms flexing, then finally settled in front of its trainer.

    The second boy, Kyle stepped forward to take the second side. He released a Machop. Suddenly, the box in Michael’s arms began to feel very, very heavy. Grinning, he set it down and opened it. Henry noticed, and bent down at once.

    “What are you doing?” he said.

    “I thought this could make things more interesting.” Michael slid the arm over the record and turned up the volume. Within seconds, ‘Come Together’ was blasting out through the courtyard, so loud that the ground seemed to shake.

    HERE COME OLD FLAT-TOP HE COME... GROOVIN' UP SLOWLY HE GOT -
    JU JU EYEBALL HE ONE... HO-LY ROLLER HE GOT -
    HAIR - DOWN - TO HIS KNEE.
    GOT TO BE A JOKER HE JUST DO WHAT HE PLEASE...


    The sound spread, awakening curious eyes from all over their section of the courtyard. Michael waved to them nonchalantly, and placed the record player into his lap. Henry covered his ears, but Sebastian and the others didn’t seem to mind. The line began snapping, and over the sound he heard -

    “Geodude, use Rollout!”

    At the command, Geodude tucked its arms over its eyes and rolled forward. The brown ball gained speed, until the cracks on its body seemed to smooth out and its arms vanished in the blur. It zigzagged across the field, throwing up a cloud of dirt, advancing towards the Machop to knock it down like a bowling pin.

    On the other side of the field, Machop stood quite still, with a single reedy arm raised in front of it. It appeared rather silly at first, and for a moment, Michael was certain that Geodude would strike first. The pokémon was rolling forward with ferocious speed, its arms flattened, while the Machop stood, its eyes narrowed and focused.

    And then, the tiny reedy green arm became a veined, muscular fist.

    The song was split by the sickening crack of bone against rock, and the Geodude flew out backwards across the ground it had covered only seconds ago. The pokémon bounced, its arms flailing, and finally rolled over near the white boundary line. Michael leaned forward, unable to believe his eyes. Machop had just whacked a fifty mile-per-hour Geodude like a baseball, and wasn’t the least bit tired. In contrast, the pokémon looked more pumped than ever, huffing as it bounced on the balls of its feet. For a while, the music faded to his ears.

    “Wow, Machop’s awesome!” he heard a girl from the line exclaim. “I’m telling ‘ya, that kid can’t fail.”

    Michael continued to watched Geodude. There was a lapse in attacks for a moment; the Machop was pumping his energy and the Geodude was clawing weakly at the ground, trying to pull itself up. Before it could succeed, however, the Machop was on top of it again, pelting it with kicks and bullet punches that must have knocked the air out of its cold, hard body. When the Machop bounded back to its trainer, the Geodude was rolling around idly, its eyes closed.

    He felt the question coming. Quickly, Michael reached into his backpack and pulled out the chart, adding in a new row labeled ‘Fighting’, then a new column, ‘Rock’. When he finished, he turned to the kids in the line.

    “You guys have seen that Machop battle before, right?”

    The blonde-haired girl who had spoken before looked down. “Yeah. We battle a lot. Why?”

    “Have you seen it battle other rock-like pokémon like Geodude?”

    The girl shrugged. “Yeah.”

    “What would you say happens in those battles? Does the Machop lose, or does it usually knock them all out?”

    She thought for a moment. “It’s hard to say... actually, yeah, I guess he does win a lot against rock pokémon. When he battled Martha’s Graveler, he practically had it in the bag from the start.” She looked over to the girl next to her, who smiled sheepishly.

    “He’s a good trainer,” Martha said.

    Michael smiled to himself. “Interesting. Very interesting.” He bent back over his chart and placed an ‘E’ in the intersecting square.

    In less than a few minutes, Sebastian had lost. His next pokémon - a Shinx - had managed to defeat the Machop, but had given way to Kyle’s Glameow. By then, Abbey Road was more than halfway through. The surrounding kids had either gotten used to the music and were ignoring it, or were watching from the sidelines and singing along. From there, the battle concluded quickly. Kyle sent out a Skorupi, and Sebastian a Piplup. Piplup held out for a little while, using a combination of Bubblebeam and Peck, but eventually lost, leaving Skorupi the winner. When Sebastian came back to the sidelines, loosening his pokéball belt and wiping the sweat from his brow, Michael’s arm was sore from writing.

    “All right, who’s next?”

    The girls quickly exchanged glances. “Uh...”

    “Wait, wait! I wanna go!” Henry scrambled to his feet. “I wanna go next.”

    “Okay,” Sebastian said. “Go Henry.”

    Henry beamed. “All right! Now you’ll finally see me battle, Michael!”

    Still sitting with his legs crossed, Michael nodded. “Yup.”

    “Wish me luck, guys!” Henry waved, and skipped onto the battlefield. He searched through his knapsack, pulling out a pokéball, then putting it back for another. The Skorupi, meanwhile, was clicking its jaw impatiently.

    “Come on, Henry!” Kyle called. “Just pick one!”

    “All right, all right!” Henry finally settled on one - though they all looked the same to Michael - and put the other two away. He twisted the pokéball open, squinting as the light burst around him. At first, Michael thought he was hallucinating. What appeared to be a pile of leaves had landed at Henry’s feet, shifting and squirming as if there was something ugly hiding inside.

    “Oh, there he goes again.” Martha sighed.

    “He always uses him,” Cindy said, crossing her arms. “Poor kid. He’s probably just trying to show off.”

    “Wait, what?” Michael turned to the girls. “What are you talking about? What is that?”

    Cindy shrugged. “A Burmy.”

    “A what?”

    “A Burmy,” she repeated. “And none of us have any idea how he got one. They’re supposed to live in this exotic, faraway island, so it’s practically impossible.”

    “And what’s so special about it? Is it super powerful or something?” Michael turned back to the battlefield. The pile of leaves had sprouted a tiny head. The leaves covered all but two yellow eyes, and a twisted horn protruding from the top.

    “No one knows. We’ve seen him battle with it and stuff, but it’s no different than any other pokémon. The only thing is...” Cindy’s voice trailed off, and she bit her lip.

    “Yes?” Michael said. “What is it?”

    “Well, it’s sort of hard to explain. Once, when we all went out for a walk outside the hotel, Henry took Burmy. And you see how he has those leaves covering him up?” She pointed to the pokémon. He was dodging an array of slices from the Skorupi, hopping from one toothpick foot to another. When he jumped, instead of falling as it should have, the cloak of leaves remained attached to his torso as if glued there.

    “Yeah,” Michael said. “What about it?”

    “It changed. And it was totally sudden, like the minute he came out of the pokéball. It went from green to, like, a shade of pink. And it was all fluffy, like it wasn’t made of leaves anymore.”

    Michael nodded slowly. “And does that happen every time he goes outside?”

    “I can’t say I watch it a lot, but the leaves stay on mostly when he’s here, like in the courtyard with all the grass. But the minute we go out into the city, the leaves go away. It’s the weirdest thing.”

    “And he’s never taken it to a specialist or anything?”

    “Nope. No one knows about it. And he doesn’t seem to care either. He just likes it because it’s ‘special’.” She put air quotes around the word.

    Michael’s pencil made a clink clink sound as he tapped the notebook’s spiral. He watched Henry call out a command, and the Burmy’s entire three-pound bulk leaped upon the Skorupi. The Skorupi snarled, and tossed him off with its claws.

    “Do the types of moves Burmy uses change when his cloak changes?”

    Now Cindy’s eyebrow perked. “You ask a lot of questions. Honestly, I have no idea.”

    “Actually, Cindy, I think they do!” Martha snapped her fingers. “Remember the time when he used a grass attack? And then he never used it anywhere else?”

    “What are you talking about? No they don’t.” The girls both turned as Tony stepped forward. “You guys have got it all wrong. Burmy always uses the same moves in a battle no matter what.”

    “How do you know, you don’t even watch!” Martha said, hands on hips.

    “Yeah I do. Are you kidding me?”

    “No you don’t, and you know it!”

    “Guys, guys!” Michael threw up his hands, and they looked down at him. “It doesn’t matter if the moves change or not. I was just curious. I needed to figure out something.”

    “Fine.” Tony shrugged and backed away. “All I’m saying is that they don’t change.”

    “Do too,” Martha said.

    Michael rolled his eyes. He began watching the battle again, and from what he gathered, Henry was losing. Burmy was being whipped by the Skorupi’s tail, writhing under the gusty blows. When it could take no more, Burmy crumpled, and became once more a pile of leaves on the sidewalk.

    “Aww!” Henry shouted. “Darn. All right, return.” He called Burmy back inside and swapped its pokéball with a second.

    The pokémon it yielded was a Clefairy, giddy and bouncing. Henry gave the command almost immediately.

    “Clefairy, use Wake-up Slap!”

    Michael leaned forward.

    The Skorupi was charging, the thorn on the end of its tail brandished forward. It wasn’t as fast as the Geodude, though menacing to make up for it. Clefairy shied off to the side, its eyes trembling as they held its thorn in their focus.

    “Come on, Clefairy! You gotta get out of the way! Use Wake-up Slap!” Henry urged.

    The Skorupi was advancing, yet Clefairy remained still. Then, suddenly, it came to its senses. It turned its tail and scampered away, as fast as its two legs would allow. Michael exploded in laughter. He clutched his stomach and rolled onto his back, letting the pencil fall from his grasp. The battle had become a playground chase, with the Clefairy running and hopping while the Skorupi snapped at its heels.

    “Aww! Come on, Clefairy!” Henry slapped his forehead and groaned. “You can’t keep doing this! Don’t bail out on me now!”

    The Clefairy ignored him. Its eyes were as wide as golf balls. When the Skorupi’s tail snapped forward they would bulge, and the pokémon would let out a loud squeal.

    Kyle, however, remained serious. “Skorupi, finish it off! Use Poison Sting!”

    The Skorupi gained speed. Its tail whipped out to the side, the thorn jabbing into Clefairy’s skin. The pokémon let out a pained scream, then its kicks stopped. Its legs became limp, and its body tumbled over. Skorupi’s tail had left a large wound. Blood oozed, mixing with dirt, yet there was a third, purple substance trickling onto the sidewalk.

    “Yuck!” Martha gasped. “I’m never gonna raise a poison pokémon.”

    Henry’s face fell further. His voice was barely audible over the music as he said, “Okay, return.” He reached into his knapsack one final time and pulled out a third pokéball, his last. He looked at it thoughtfully, then twisted it open.

    The pokémon released was a Pachirisu, a face that was all too familiar. Michael’s neighborhood was crawling with them; he often saw them picking food out of trashcans and scampering up tree trunks, often throwing acorns down at people’s heads. This one looked exactly like the type - its eyes were round and mischievous, and its bushy tail twitched with excitement. Michael couldn’t help but feel an old loathing bubble up.

    “Pachirisu, use Quick Attack!”

    “Skorupi, use Poison Sting!”

    At first, it seemed like it would be a repeat of Clefairy’s struggle. The Skorupi charged forward, while the Pachirisu hung back, sparks gathering at its cheeks. But then it sprang forward as well, its tail bouncing off its heels. Skorupi raised its tail like a sledgehammer and brought it down, but the smaller pokémon leaped out of its way with surprising speed.

    “Wow!” Sebastian said. “That was quick! I think he’s getting the hang of it.”

    Henry was beginning to smile again. He clenched his fist. “All right! Now follow through, buddy!”

    The Pachirisu swiveled around back towards the Skorupi and leaped on top, pinning its tail to its back. The bolts on its cheeks flared up, and shot a current through the Skorupi’s body. The Skorupi’s muscles seized, trying desperately to shake the Pachirisu off in between violent spasms.

    Now, Kyle’s face began to show a trace of frustration. “Skorupi, hang in there! Crunch!”

    The Skorupi rolled over several times, until the Pachirisu’s arms slipped. Its lips spread open into a smile of silver razors. They opened and shut, closing on a chunk of Pachirisu’s tail and legs.

    “No!” Henry shouted. “Get out of it! Hurry!”

    The Pachirisu tried to wriggle free, but the Skorupi’s jaw was locked. Its teeth swished from side to side, in a sickening grinding of skin, while the Pachirisu’s eyes rolled up to their whites. The pokémon fell limp, and Skorupi spat it out.

    “Well done!” Kyle grinned. His Skorupi turned away from its victim and went back to its trainer. Michael felt a slight pity for the kid as Henry bent down beside his fallen pokémon.

    “All right... return.”

    Pachirisu’s twitching body faded into white, then vanished inside the capsule.

    The Henry that came back to them was sullen and sighing.

    The first one to speak was Martha. “It’s okay,” she said, giving him a pat. “Better luck next time.”

    “Yeah dude,” Sebastian said. “You’ll get better, don’t worry.”

    Henry nodded his thanks. He stopped beside Michael last. “Are you ready to go? I’m gonna go back inside now.” His tone revealed nothing.

    “Sure.” Michael stood up. He closed the record player and tucked it under his arm. “See you guys around.”

    “Bye everyone.” Henry waved, and they headed back towards the building. Once they were well out of earshot, he let out an exasperated sigh.

    “I hate this,” he mumbled. “It’s always the same thing over and over again, and I don’t know why. At the rate I’m going, I’ll probably flunk the Gym again... Man, I’m sick of losing.”

    “That’s great then.” Michael smiled. He folded his chart neatly and placed it back into his backpack. “Because I know exactly how we can beat it.”
    Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 18th February 2011 at 10:18 PM.

  5. #80
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    Yes! For a while I thought you forgot about this. *shrugs* Oh well, who hasn't been busy lately?

    Henry's party is... not what I expected. Though I can now understand how he lost the gym battle. But I'm kind of wondering how he got Pokemon that are supposed to be pretty rare if he's a nervous and kind of unconfident trainer. But I thought Michael's Pachirisu issues were pretty funny.

    I'm also impressed with the amount of detail you used to describe the time period and the trends and technologys in that time period. Fics with a lot of detail are always good.

    Well, not to bad a chapter considering the wait. All that's left to say is good work.

  6. #81
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    Woots, Roots is back. An interesting chapter I suppose, little bit different, and Michael's really starting to get into this whole researching stage. Nice to see another Turtwig. It just was. I was hoping for a Michael-Byron gym match, but that can wait. Keep it up.
    It appears I cannot think of a good signature.

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    Nice, Roots is back.

    The quality of this chapter makes up for the lateness, haha. I only saw a little bit of mistakes, such as I saw "things" where it should have been "thinks" somewhere...

    Anyway, glad to see you back Mrs. Lovett. Hope to see the next chapter soon.

  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Platinum~ View Post
    But I'm kind of wondering how he got Pokemon that are supposed to be pretty rare if he's a nervous and kind of unconfident trainer.
    I'm glad you asked this. I'll be developing Henry's character later on, but to generalize a lot, his parents gave it to him.

    ^^ And I fixed the typo, Piekid. Thanks!

    And another thank you to you all for stopping by to review! I'll try to get the next chapter up by next week-ish, but if there is a delay, I'll try not to make it as horrendously long as this one was.

    See you next chapter.


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  9. #84
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    *Closet reader alert*
    So I've been following this from the sidelines since pretty much the beginning, and I have to say I'm really enjoying it. You don't often see trainer fics that are set in a different time period than the present, so I'm really enjoying the whole 60's aspect of it. Also, the way you write the battle scenes is cool too, making them more 'real' or 'natural' or whatever you want to call it... realistic? Yeah, that sounds right.

    One thing I was confused about in the latest chapter though (and the prompt for this post) was where the Skorupi came from. It's obviously Kyle's, but it just seemed to suddenly appear on the field out of the blue. Maybe you meant it that way, but it just kinda caught me off guard and seemed a little odd.

    So yeah, that's all for now. Great fic and I look forward to future chapters! Keep it up!
    Cheers!
    -Yashe

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    I was writing the battle scenes from the observer's point of view, so when Michael zones out, we zone out, etc. I skip over a lot of the action, particularly here:

    In less than a few minutes, Sebastian had lost. His next pokémon - a Shinx - had managed to defeat the Machop, but had given way to Kyle’s Glameow. By then, Abbey Road was more than halfway through. The surrounding kids had either gotten used to the music and were ignoring it, or were watching from the sidelines and singing along. When Sebastian came back to the sidelines, loosening his pokéball belt, Michael’s arm was sore from writing.
    Apparently I didn't explain this that well, but the Skorupi was the last of Kyle's remaining pokemon, and the one that Sebastian had lost against. You're right though - I should have mentioned the Skorupi earlier. So I'll add something in for clarity.

    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 6th October 2010 at 11:20 PM.


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  11. #86
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    In case you've been wondering, the Byron battle will be next chapter. Sorry for the anticlimactic revelation, but I couldn't write the story any other way.

    But fear not, my readers, this chapter is still a pretty important one. It's about 20 pages in Word, possibly my longest one yet. It has a pokemon capture scene and - *audience gasp* - a fight scene! Who needs pokemon battles when you have good 'ol people beating up other people?


    So in summation, I hope you'll like this one.

    Read on!


    0.9

    Michael woke up early the next morning, which he hadn't done for as long as he could remember.

    The previous day had ended rather quickly. When he returned to the hotel room, Michael immediately sat behind the desk and began to scribble on a fresh sheet of paper. His thoughts were clicking by faster than his hand could write, so he frequently had to stop and erase where his pencil had tripped over the lines. He had devised a formula based on the types of Henry’s pokémon and what he had learned from the boy in the Pokémon Center. The formula for Byron’s Gym was:

    Geodude: Grass, water, fighting. (NOT electric.)
    Onix: Grass, water, fighting. (NOT electric.)
    Bronzor: Fighting. If all else fails, luck it out.

    Below that, Michael made a few notes on each of Byron’s pokémon’s appearances and how they moved, trying to remember what he had read on the boy’s PokéDex the previous day.

    When he told Henry what he had found, the boy responded with a mixture of gratitude and disappointment. “Why didn’t I think of that?” When Michael asked him where his head had been when he lost to Byron, Henry replied with, “I guess I just didn’t know what to do with my team.” Michael would make a more personalized battle plan for Henry later - he’d have to take care of his own first.

    Theoretically, Michael knew that if he were able to do a bit of research on the Gym and formulate a counterattack before a battle, he’d pretty much have it all in the bag before he stepped out onto the field. The thought excited him, but either way, he knew that he’d have to get more pokémon sooner or later. If his Turtwig lost, he’d be doomed.


    This was the thought Michael was turning over in his mind as he got out of bed, ran his fingers through his hair, and sat down at the table. Henry’s planner was wide open in front of him so he could read the date: Monday, May 30th. The battle was one day away. Henry himself was dead asleep in the second bed, with his arms thrown over his head and his mouth lolling open like a child’s. Usually, this was the type of face he and his friends would color on with markers, but right now, Michael didn’t feel in the mood. Without Cory and Brendan there, he felt a strange detachment from his old life, though deep inside, nothing really had changed.

    He went over to Henry’s side and shook his arm. “Wake up. We’re going outside to catch pokémon.”

    Henry’s lips moved soundlessly. He rolled over, letting his face sink into the pillow, so his voice came out as a mumble. “Urgh... What time is it?”

    “Nine-thirty-one. Get up.” Michael shook him again, and Henry rubbed his eyes. He began to kick off his blanket, and yawned deeply when he got to his feet. His eyes were watery and droopy, though the boy did his best to put on a smile.

    “Morning.” He blinked. “Wait. Is the battle today?”

    “No. It’s tomorrow.”

    Henry relaxed, breathing deeply. “Oh, good. For a minute there, I thought we missed it. We still have a day.”

    “Yeah and that’s the problem. We have to catch some pokémon before the battle.”

    Henry blinked, puzzled. “But I already have a team.”

    “For me, stupid. Do you honestly think I can beat the League with only a puny Turtwig?”

    “Oh... right. What kind?”

    Michael held up the formula sheet. “You have a good counter team, but I don’t. I need a water type or a fighting type. Can I find either of those here?”

    Henry rubbed his chin. “Well... yeah, I think you can find some fighting types in Route 207. I don’t know about water, though.”

    “That’s good enough.” Michael placed the paper back onto the desk. “I’ll also need to get some more pokéballs, and we need to battle at least once before tomorrow.”

    Henry yawned. “Then we have a big day ahead of us.”

    “Yes,” Michael said impatiently. “And every second you waste by standing there looking at me is a second away from our preparation time! Get dressed and let’s go.”

    This seemed to set Henry in motion. He rushed over to the closet and shut himself inside, and after a few minutes of rustling and clanging, came out in a T-shirt and shorts. The hat had magically appeared on his head, as had the knapsack on his waist.

    Michael hoisted his backpack over his shoulder and headed for the door. He turned, expecting to see Henry following along behind him, but instead saw the boy turn and walk into the bathroom.

    Michael let out a groan. “Come on, you can brush your teeth later!”

    The mirror lights came on, and water began pouring from the faucet. “No! You have to do it every morning!” Henry called. “Or your teeth will go all brown!”

    “They won’t go brown after one day. Trust me. Now get your ass over here.”

    “Fine,” Henry snapped. The water and lights went off, and his sulking shoulders appeared from behind the door. Just as Michael was about to turn the knob, Henry made another turn, this time for the shelves. He took down a can and sprinkled some chunky bits of meat into his palm.

    “Just let me feed your Stunky.” He tossed the meat into the cage, right over the Stunky’s sleeping body. He placed the can beside the cage, then finally joined Michael by the exit. “Okay, ready.”

    Outside, the city was warm and sunny, and filled with people. The early morning energy was beginning to wear off him, and Michael found himself fighting to keep his eyes open as he crossed the street. Their first destination was a hardware store two blocks down. The store had only one room, heavy racks lining the walls, displaying shiny metal goodies. As far as Michael could tell, he and Henry were the only people who shopped for hardware at nine in the morning. The only other person there was a cashier, who also looked quite tired. He acknowledged them with a nod, then went back to drinking his coffee.

    Michael perused the aisles, his eyes skimmed over the shelves. He didn’t find any pokéballs, however. He met Henry back at the center of the store, seeing that he was also empty-handed. The store clerk, still watching them, seemed to read his mind.

    “Looking for pokéballs?”

    “Yeah,” Michael said.

    The clerk nodded. “We got ‘em. Come around here. We don’t keep ‘em on shelves.”

    Michael approached the counter, and saw the clerk remove a basket from one of the invisible cabinets behind it. It was filled with them, all under a price label of $4.50. Each.

    Michael did a double-take. “Four-fifty?”

    “I don’t price them, kid, I sell them. Those are the only models available, and they’ll probably be the only ones available ever. One choice, one price.”

    Michael thought hard, staring at the paper. “Do they ever miss?” he asked, looking over to the clerk. “Like, can the pokémon break out?”

    “Sometimes,” the man answered. “No refunds, though.”

    “Can they be reused?”

    “If you don’t throw too hard.”

    Michael looked back down at the pile of shiny metal orbs. He handed over the money solemnly, and removed one. The clerk placed the money into a separate box.

    “Anything else? We have premium pokémon food on sale, and new issues of Pokémon League Weekly for twenty cents.”

    “I’ll take the Weekly,” Michael said, reaching into his pocket for some coins. Against all odds, he had grown to like the magazine. Though it was corny at times, occasionally he’d find something in there that was worth reading. Plus, it gave his mind something to concentrate on that didn’t have to do with the Space Race. Having immersed himself in the trainer’s world as deep as two days would get him, the urge to turn on the television was beginning to dwindle. He took a look at the front cover when the clerk handed it to him: Elite Four get new Facility Decor. Boy oh boy.

    On their way out, Michael stopped by a bench and flipped through to the article. Henry looked on by his side.

    "... Pokémon League's Elite Four get renovated..." Michael recited, skimming across the rows of print. "Wow, they spent $15,000 on new decorations and sofas for their trainers? That's so stupid."

    "Told you they were rich," Henry murmured.

    Michael scanned down the page, but found nothing else. "You know what I don’t get? They never put up pictures of that place. All they do is tell us how awesome it is. Not even a map, for Pete’s sake. If we don’t know what it looks like, how are we supposed to know where it is?"

    "It's about fifty miles off the coast of Sunyshore," Henry said. "And that's all they want you to know. It's supposed to be a surprise, like sort of incentive to get people to compete harder."

    “Wow.” Michael turned the page. “I wonder if it’s actually as good as they say, or if it’s all just a bunch of hype.”

    “They’ve got trainers from all over the region wanting to beat it. It must be good then,” Henry said. “And at any rate, there’s only one way to find out, right?”

    “Unfortunately, yes.” Michael dog-eared the page before closing the magazine. “All right, now we have to catch a pokémon. You know where Route 207 is?”

    Henry rose to his feet. “Yeah, it’s past the northern exit. It’s a bit far, but we can make it.”

    “Let’s go then.”

    They stepped back out into the stream of foot-traffic, and started forward through it. As they walked, Michael recited his plan for the Gym. Henry kept his eyes mostly on the signs, though he nodded intermittently.

    “We know that Byron has two rock type pokémon and one steel type pokémon. Remember how that kid with the PokéDex said that his Buneary did a good job against the Bronzor?”

    “Uh-huh.”

    “Well, Buneary’s a fighting type. And if I’m right, fighting types have some influence over steel. So we have to find a fighting pokémon for me now.”

    “But what about me?”

    “You have a Clefairy. Does your Clefairy know any moves that involve some sort of punching or kicking?”

    “Yeah, she knows this move called Wake-Up-Slap, where she basically just slaps the other pokémon on the face. Would that count as fighting?”

    “Maybe. What about punches?”

    Henry shook his head. “No punches.”

    “Then just do what you can with Wake-Up-Slap. Oh, and another thing. Don’t use Pachirisu.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because it’s an electric type pokémon. Have you ever tried to use an electric move on a ground type?”

    “Yeah!” Henry exclaimed. “And it never works! The lightning bolt goes through, but it’s like it vanishes! The pokémon doesn’t even get hurt or anything!”

    “That’s because they negate electricity. Their type resists it. So don’t even bother trying. Stick with grass and water if you can. They both erode.”

    “What about wind? Wind erodes too.”

    “Okay, but would a tiny breeze move a boulder?”

    “I guess not... I’ll just use my Burmy then.”

    “Yeah, and you know the expression ‘kill two birds with one stone’? Guess what that means.”

    Henry smiled. “Rock types can hurt flying types! That makes so much sense! Did you-“

    “I already added that to the chart.” Michael winked. “Already two steps ahead of you.”

    They looped their way through the city gradually, and Michael began to see the beginnings of a strange white building. At first it was obscured by other, lesser structures, then over time, it became more pronounced. Michael realized it was made out of stone. There was no telling how many floors it had, for in place of windows there were intricate carvings and statues.

    They came closer, and Michael could read the ornate letters on its face:

    OREBURGH MINING MUSEUM - SINCE 1660

    Underneath that, a paper banner:

    REAL Fossils! Recent mine discoveries! Open from 8 to 9 every day!

    Michael’s eyes widened. He had never seen a real museum before, only pathetic symposiums his school sometimes took field trips to. Though it was wider than it was tall, the building still gave off the grand impression of height. Real pillars stood around its perimeter, parting to make room for a parking lot, a few trees, and a statue of some historical figure holding a shovel. People sat smoking on its benches, admiring the view.

    “Wow,” Michael said aloud. “That’s a really cool museum.”

    Henry looked up, squinting. “Yep. That’s the Oreburgh Mine Museum. This means we’re almost there.”

    “We should visit it sometime.”

    “Yeah.”

    They stood for a moment, just looking up at it, then continued walking.




    //////



    Route 207 was a tired, rugged landscape that felt more like a continuation of the city than a separate entity. Most of its plant life worn away from years of foot travel and landslides, leaving bare foothills disturbed occasionally by patches of dry grass. Here, the Coronet mountains were closer than ever. Michael could feel the land’s upward slope, from plains to hills to cliffsides. He had studied them in school for two painful weeks, and now knew almost everything about them. Their highest peak, Mt. Spear (the name always made him laugh), reached a staggering 37,648 feet. No one had ever reached the top.

    The route was sparsely peopled - Michael saw a group of trainers here and there, and a few hikers, sweaty and drinking greedily from water flasks. Pokémon were also abundant. Starlies sat in the trees, plucking their feathers, and families of Geodude snoozed in their burrows.

    “The Machops should be here,” Henry said. “They’re all over the place.”

    “Where should I look?”

    “In the bushes. That’s where Kyle found his.”

    Michael took a look around. Bushes were scarce, but they were full and large. He went up to one and ran his fingers through it, letting a few leaves fall to the ground. Nothing happened. He shook it harder, but all he heard was an empty rustle. He went over to the next one and repeated the process. Still nothing.

    “Check around it too!” Henry called to him. “Here, I’ll help.” He approached another bush and carefully pried apart the branches.

    They went for about twenty minutes without finding anything, twenty painful minutes of aimless wandering, while the heat got stronger and stronger. Michael was beginning to regret not taking a water bottle with him, let alone having breakfast. The boys decided to take a break under a tree, where the heat would not reach them yet, their heads tilted back against the trunk.

    When he closed his eyes, Michael could feel the heat throb inside of him. His head felt heavy.

    “Man... why does summer have to be so hot?” Henry complained.

    “Because the Earth tilts on its axis and the sun hits us,” Michael mumbled. “I don’t like it any more than you do. Deal with it.”

    “I guess...” A sigh. “I wish I was at home right now. We have a pool, and I used to swim all the time in the summer. The water was nice and cold and blue. Then my mom would make smoothies, and I’d drink it right by the water. Strawberry banana. With those little umbrella things.”

    “Well, you’re not at home right now. And your mommy’s not here to kiss your booboos.”

    “I didn’t say that,” Henry’s voice receded a little. “I just said she made really good smoothies. She’d buy fruit fresh from the store, right before anyone else. She always wanted to buy a plot of land and start a farm herself. Just for the family.”

    “What, is your family rich or something?”

    Henry nodded, and when he did, his cheeks grew slightly pink. “Yeah.”

    Michael opened his eyes halfway. “So your parents give you whatever you want?”

    “Yeah, but they’re not... like, they set limits. They tell me to shop smart and don’t buy me anything unless I can prove I need it. They got me my Burmy for my birthday, but the rest, you know, I caught myself.”

    Michael smiled a little at the irony of the moment, but for a while, he said nothing.

    “So?” Henry’s voice came, after a while.

    “So what?” Michael replied. “What am I supposed to say?”

    “I don’t know. It’s just that when I tell people I’m rich, they always look at me weird. Maybe because I don’t seem like it, or it’s a bad thing.”

    “Nah, you seem like the type. Rich boy, always gets everything he wants. Then you have me, the kid who gets nothing, has no one, who has to fend for himself. It’s not bad to be rich, you just can’t let it take over your life. See, it’s like what I said before. You can be nice and pampered when you’re a kid or you can live in a wooden shack and eat dirt all day; it still won’t matter. Because when you grow up, none of it applies. The minute you leave home and set off on your own, it’s just you. You against the world.”

    Henry nodded slowly.

    For a while, they sat in silence. Then, Michael heard a gasp.

    “Michael! Look!”

    He opened his eyes fully now, and saw Henry’s outstretched hand. He was pointing to the path, where a tiny green body had emerged. Michael leaned forward for a better look.

    It was a Machop, all right, wandering in the clearing. The pokémon was completely oblivious to the humans that lurked only a few yards away; it was walking amiably, alternating between swinging its arms and picking at the ground. The sun cast a fragile shine on its leathery skin, highlighting the obvious ripple of its muscles. It wasn’t as big as the one he had seen on the battlefield, but at this point, Michael didn’t care. Henry lowered himself into a crouch, and whispered into Michael's ear.

    “Okay, now’s your chance! You want to catch it completely off-guard. Like, not make a sound. Then you slowly creep up to it, and just throw the pokéball. It’ll stay in for a few moments, and when it’s caught, the red knob will lock itself. But if the pokémon’s strong enough, it could break free, and then you’ll have to try again.”

    Michael nodded. “Okay.” He took the newly-bought pokéball out of his backpack’s pocket and crawled forward, till he was almost out of the tree’s shade. The Machop’s big brown eyes found their hiding place, swept over their faces, then trailed off to the treetops.

    Michael turned back to Henry. “Here’s what we’re gonna do. You come in from the left, slowly, so it’ll see you. I’ll come in from the right, where it won’t see me. You’ll distract it. Do a dance or whatever, just get it to watch you. Then I’ll just throw the pokéball, and the sucker won’t even know what hit him. Got it?”

    “Sounds like a plan!” Henry gave him a thumbs-up.

    They started off simultaneously, Michael on his hands and knees, and Henry getting up onto his feet. He began to hop around and clap, and the Machop turned to the source of the noise. It blinked.

    “Heeey, look over here!” Henry called. “Yoo-hoo!” The Machop shifted its stance. Its hands curled into fists, then uncurled, until it realized that there was no danger. Just another stupid boy doing some stupid dance, it probably thought.

    Henry continued to clap, though now he switched from hopping to skipping. He skipped left, then right, then back, the Machop’s gaze followed his every move.

    Meanwhile, Michael was advancing behind it. The pokémon was still unsuspecting of him, as according to plan. He inched closer every few seconds, until he could see the tiny rise-and-fall of its chest. He could reach out and stroke the spines on its head if he wanted to.

    Come on little guy... He took the pokéball into both hands and began to twist it open. Stand nice and still...

    The pokéball fell open in his hands with a loud clank. The Machop’s body shuddered, and the pokémon spun around. Seeing him, and realizing it was tricked, the Machop let out a cry and darted off.

    “No! Get back here!” Michael scrambled to his feet. The Machop was aiming for the bushes again, running with its head ducked down like a football player. He started after it as fast as he could, but the Machop had gained too much ground already. Still, Michael kept running, running and shouting.

    “Henry! Get it!”

    Henry jerked his head to the side just in time to see the Machop pass by him. He dove forward, catching it around the middle. They fell to the ground, Henry grunting, the Machop squirming. It kicked and smacked at his shoulder.

    “Hurry!” Henry winced. His arms were wrapped around the pokémon’s body in a cruel hug. Michael held the open pokéball to Machop’s body with shaking hands.

    Almost instantly, all color from the pokémon’s body vanished, swallowed by a sudden light, blinding white. It blossomed and burst, taking the route along with it in a horrible, torrential sucking. Then the light shrank, disintegrating into a shapeless beam, fleeing into the pokéball’s interior like a lightning bolt. Stripes of pain erupted in his palms, and the metal gained a sudden weight. The light pooled into a tight clump around the pokéball, then the device closed with a loud slurp. It jerked out of his weakening grasp, bounced, and rolled into the dirt, leaving behind singeing flesh.

    The pokéball lay on the ground, twitching. The red knob was twisting back and forth of its own accord, making strange squeaking noises. It began to twist down, then it locked, and Michael heard a soft ping as it touched the metal.

    Henry smiled. “It’s over. You’ve caught it!”

    Michael looked down at his hands. They looked like they had been burned with rope. He picked up the pokéball using the tail of his shirt, though its dulled heat still prickled his fingers.

    “Damn, that hurts!” he winced.

    “That’s why most trainers wear gloves. We’ll get some when we go back into town.”

    “Uh-huh.” Michael staggered over to his backpack and dropped the pokéball inside. He waited for a few moments for the pain to subside, then slung it over his shoulder. “Come on, let’s go.”

    Michael started back towards the city. When Henry caught up with him, Michael said, “Man that was the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

    “What?”

    “The pokéball. I swear, my eyes still hurt from it. Are all captures that chaotic?”

    “Yeah. But you get used to it after a while. Gloves help too, for the heat. I always wear mine when I’m catching.”

    “Didn’t they ever think of making them out of something other than metal? Or at least covering them with an insulator?”

    “I don’t know, but I guess if they’re doing it, it’s probably for a good reason.”

    “Do you even know how they work?”

    “Nope,” Henry said simply. “No one does. For the most part anyway, unless you’re a scientist or something.”

    “Who invented them?”

    “Some guy. I forgot his name. But you gotta hand it to him, he’s really smart. Being able to fit a whole pokémon into a tiny space is really genius. It’s like condensing matter. Maybe that’s why they get so heavy while the pokémon are inside.”

    “Maybe.”

    The two boys continued down the path into the city. Up above, the sun was rising out of the clouds, bringing in the full heat of day.




    //////



    When they returned to the hotel, the courtyard was buzzing.

    The crowd was bigger than what Michael had seen the previous day, for some reason. The noise carried a sort of peppy excitement that one would find at a bazaar. Strangely, when he looked around, he saw that few kids were battling. They kept their pokéballs on their belts, talking animatedly.

    Somehow, Henry located his friends’ faces in the sea of bodies. The familiar faces of Martha, Cindy, and Kyle waved to them from the flagpole, where the population was thickest. Michael and Henry went over to them, pushing past the others.

    “Hey, what’s going on?” Henry said. “Did something happen?”

    “Yeah, something’s going on all right!” Kyle smiled. “Leroy’s set up a trading booth! He’s giving away his pokémon.”

    “Who’s Leroy?” Michael said.

    “He’s this kid who’s been here a while. He’s not a trainer, but he goes to the Gym to watch the battles. He carries around this doohickey he calls his PokéDex... I don’t know how he got all those pokémon, but he seems pretty cool about giving them away. He gave me a Starly.”

    “I got a Bidoof,” Martha said.

    “Wait... hey, that’s the kid we helped! Remember, Michael? In the Pokémon Center!” Henry said.

    “Yeah. So he stays here?”

    “I guess so. Let’s go talk to him.”

    They made their way to the front of the crowd. A line had assembled around the benches, and Leroy sat in one of them. His PokéDex was strapped to his trousers, and he had a bag of pokéballs sitting beside him.

    When he saw Michael and Henry, his smile brightened.

    “Hey, it’s you! How’ve you been?”

    “We’ve been great!” Henry said. “We were in Route 207 catching pokémon. Your pokémon data has helped us loads!”

    “I’m glad to hear that.” Leroy tapped the bag. “Want one? I have a Machop, Buneary, Goldeen, Zubat, and a Shinx. I caught them for my Dex, but now I really don’t need them anymore.”

    Michael’s shoulders sagged. “Are you kidding me? I go out and spend my own money to catch a Machop, and it turns out I could have gotten an hour more of sleep and still have gotten one for free?”

    Henry giggled. “Sorry about that.”

    Leroy shrugged. “Well, next time you’ll know where to find me. Heh. So, you want anything?”

    “Yeah... we’ll get the Goldeen,” Michael said. “Water’s a good counter for rock.”

    Leroy took out a pokéball and handed it to Michael. A paper label was taped to it, displaying the pokémon’s name. “Anything else? Don’t be shy, I have a lot more.”

    Henry rubbed his chin. “Ummm, do you have any more water types?”

    “Let’s see...” He searched through the bag and came out with a pokéball labeled ‘Magikarp’. “You want him? He knows a few water moves.”

    “Sure.” Henry took the pokéball and placed it into his knapsack.

    “Well, it’s been nice doing business with you. What do you guys mean by counters, though? Are you planning for the battle or something?”

    “No, I came up with a formula on how to beat the Gym,” Michael said. “Basically I found the type weaknesses to each of Byron’s pokémon, so now I’m trying to make a team that will go perfectly against his. It’s foolproof! I keep a chart, so that way when I discover a new weakness, I’ll have a place to record it.”

    Leroy nodded. “Wow, that’s creative. I’ve never heard anyone do it that way before. Mostly, I see people come in and just do it all-out, hit him with whatever they’ve got. But you know what’s weird? People with some types of pokémon usually lose more often than others.”

    “Yep, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.”

    “You know, I think that this would be really useful for the PokéDex. If my machine had this, my life would be ten times easier!”

    “Then make a suggestion to the professor.”

    “Yeah, I think I will. When I get done with this, at least. I’m almost to forty entries.” Leroy tapped his PokéDex proudly. “Well, see you around.”

    “See ya,” Henry said.

    They stepped off to the side, and Leroy called “Next!”

    Sebastian stepped forward. He nodded to Leroy. “Hey dude.”

    “Hey Sebastian. How goes it?”

    “Pretty good. You must be proud of yourself; people are talking about you all over the courtyard!”

    “It’s nice to be famous.” Leroy grinned. “So, anything in particular you want?”

    “I overheard you and Michael talking about counters and stuff. I think that’s a pretty cool idea. You don’t mind if I try it out, do you?” He turned to Michael, who shook his head.

    “Not at all. Go for it, see if it works for you.”

    “Cool.” He turned back to Leroy. “Then I’ll get a grass type. Do you have anything like that?”

    Leroy fished into the bag. “Let’s see... I have a... Budew? That’s grass.”

    “Sure thing. What about water?”

    Leroy gave him another Goldeen.

    “Can I have a Shinx too? I’ve always wanted one.”

    Leroy took out a third pokéball and gave it to Sebastian. He cradled them in his arms.

    “Nice doing business with you.”

    “You too, Sebastian! Good luck with your battle.”

    “Thanks.” He stepped off to the side to meet Henry and Michael. Cindy, Martha, Tony, and Kyle came around to join them.

    “Hey Sebastian. What did you get?”

    “A Budew, Goldeen, and Shinx. Look out Byron!” He laughed, and the rest of the group joined in. However, a new voice, a new laugh, broke through them. Before Michael could match the voice with the face, he was shoved roughly aside to accommodate a new body into the circle. He stumbled, but regained his footing. Henry, who had been pushed as well, fell silent.

    Sebastian’s smile faded. His voice was flat and monotone. “Dennis.”

    The boy stepped forward and the circle widened, as if none of its members wanted to come in contact with him. Dennis was still wearing his black sweater, and a lollipop stick was dangling from his mouth like a cigarette. Michael wondered if he had meant it that way.

    Dennis waited. “So, none of you are gonna ask me how my battle was?”

    Silence. Then, Sebastian spoke. “What, did you lose?”

    “Nah, I won. See?” He held up what appeared to be a shiny coin. Before Michael could get a good look at it, it was back inside his pocket. “Byron was so easy. We crushed him flat. You’re planning to do the same, I see.”

    “We all are,” Sebastian said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

    “Yeah, but people have different ways of achieving their dreams. Some people, like me, work hard at it and keep going until they win. Others, for some strange reason I can’t understand, cheat.”

    Clearly, this was not the word he had been expecting. Sebastian eyed Dennis, on the line between uncertainty and hostility. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “I couldn’t help but overhear your little friends talk. You, him,” he pointed to Michael, “and Leroy. You do know that what you’re doing is illegal, right?”

    “What are you talking about? There’s nothing illegal about a pokémon trade.”

    “Do you even know what a legal trade is, smart one? A trade is when two trainers transfer their pokémon over to each other with a binding agreement, meaning that they sign actual papers and don’t just give them away. Or do you Southern folk really forget things so quickly?” He reached into the other pocket of his sweater and brought up a rumpled piece of paper. He unfolded it, and Michael immediately recognized the brochure he had received at Byron’s gym. He handed it to Sebastian. “Read it and weep.”

    Sebastian’s eyes were lost in the paper for a few minutes. If the pamphlet contained groundbreaking information, then he didn’t show it. His expression remained neutral as he looked back up at Dennis. “So? You can’t do anything about it.”

    “Wrong! Yes I can. As a matter of fact, I can go to the Gym right now and report you. I’ll get you disqualified before you can even battle. The both of you. And yes, I said both, so that includes you. Sitting and drawing.” He turned his gaze over to Michael. “I saw you watching my battle yesterday. You were just sitting there and drawing. You do know that this is a trainer’s hotel and not an art camp, right?”

    “He has a chart!” Henry piped up. “He’s a trainer and he's gonna use it to beat the Gym. He'll have a badge just like you.”

    The boy’s grin broadened. “Woooooooooow. You guys are such losers. Is that it right there?”

    Michael suddenly realized he was still holding the chart. But before he could grab it back, Dennis had snatched it from his fingers and opened it up. He read it over like a doctor would read a patient’s diagnosis. Michael felt strangely exposed.

    “Yep... yep. Wow. Yeah, I think I’ll have to keep this.” He folded the paper again, and began to fold it smaller, tucking it inside his fist. Michael’s arm seemed to act of its own accord. He wrapped his fingers around the boy’s wrist and held on firmly.

    "You better not."

    "Or what?" he sneered.

    "Or I'll kick your fat ass."

    The kids around him gasped, loud and deep. The boy stepped back, and Michael let his hand slip away. "Well, that sounds like a threat to me. And you know? I don't care. I'll eliminate some competition today. I'm gonna go straight to the Gym and tell them myself. You, Sebastian, and Leroy will all go home crying-"

    Michael took a step forward. "I said fuck off! Mind your own business!"

    Dennis didn't seem intimidated. He turned on his heel and began an exaggerated march towards the hotel building.

    "La-la-la! Let's see you try and stop me!"

    The crowd unquestioningly parted to make way. Hundreds of eyes darted from one boy to the other, waiting for some kind of reaction. At that moment, Michael's entire future flashed before his eyes. This one kid, whoever he was, could ruin everything he was about to work for.

    Without a second thought, he lunged forward. His hands curled into claws and latched onto the hood of Dennis’s jacket, pulling him back. The boy staggered, then grabbed Michael’s shoulders to balance himself, digging his fingernails into his skin. They felt like prickly needles. Michael swiveled, but their grip held.

    “You’re dead meat!” Dennis snarled.

    Several people rushed over to watch what was going on. In a matter of seconds a large crowd had formed around them, all pointing and exclaiming. Michael caught a glimpse of Henry among them. His face was chalk white. Then, out of the blue -

    “Fight! Fight!” A boy began to jump, pumping his fist. Others caught on to the chant, and the noise swelled.

    “Yeah! Fight! Fight!”

    Michael ignored the growing chorus. His eyes were on Dennis, and his arms were trying to pry off the fingers that gripped his shoulders. With surprising speed, Dennis pulled one arm back and swung it against his cheek. The punch was like an electric shock. Michael’s head was knocked sideways by an iron mallet, and he felt the world spin. His head might have swiveled around all the way around and come back, like a Noctowl’s.

    If they ever punch you in the head, buddy, just punch ‘em right back. You don’t take hits from anyone.

    “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

    The faces blurred, then cleared. He heard a grunt, then realized it was his own. He had fallen to the ground for some reason, and Dennis was kicking him in the shins, the stomach, the arms. The sneaker jabbed into his flesh then drew back, aiming for another. This time, he grabbed the leg blindly and held on, until he felt the boy’s knees buckle. Dennis fell like a great giant, his upper body bouncing off the concrete.

    Michael’s head was still spinning as he got on top of the boy and pinned down his arms, trying to remain steady against his flailing. It was a technique Richard had taught him before his first day of middle school, in case he ever needed it.

    "You're not going anywhere!" he shouted, drawing his face within inches of the boy's. His voice sounded ferocious and distant.

    "Yes I am!" Dennis rocked from side to side, but Michael didn’t budge. "I'll get you disqualified!"

    "No!" Michael swung his fist against the boy's clammy cheek, bringing as much force as he could to the blow. He felt something crack beneath his knuckles, and the boy recoiled, screaming. He punched him again on the other side, watching with sick pleasure as the boy's head gave, spinning from side to side, just like his own head must have spun. He punched him again and again, till the blood from the boy's nose had painted his knucklebones.

    "You're not saying anything to anyone," Michael said. "Or I'll find you and knock you out cold. You'll look like your opponent's Turtwig when I'm done with you. Got it?" Now, the boy's eyes trembled with fear. Michael could see a large red circle where his fists had struck, and the stream of blood from his nose had advanced down his cheek. He might have been crying blood. Michael jabbed his hand into the boy’s pocket and pulled out his chart.

    As a parting gesture, he gathered the last of his mouth’s saliva and spat it into the kid’s face. “You might want to wipe that.” Michael got up and dusted himself off. The ringing in his ears drowned out the sounds of the kids around him, turning them into a pool of warbled confusion.

    Michael! Michael!

    So they were calling his name now. What, would he be some sort of hero now? He felt a ripple of annoyance. But at the same time, he wanted to know what the pamphlet had said...

    Michael!

    Leaving the chaos behind him, he stormed off towards the building without another word.

    "Michael, wait! Wait!" came Henry's voice. He jogged up to Michael's side, his arms waving. Michael wheeled around to face him, grimacing.

    The white had still not left Henry’s face, though it didn’t look as ghastly as it did in the crowd. Henry struggled to form words.

    “That was amazing! You totally whooped him! I was really worried there for a second when he punched you, but you did it!”

    "You idiot!” Michael’s sudden anger caused Henry to step back. “You just had to open your big mouth and blab about the chart. This is all your fault!"

    Henry's smile became panicked as Michael backed towards the door. "I'm sorry! I really am!" he said. "I had no idea what was going to happen! I just thought that because you were prepared and everything you'd win and put him in his place because he really deserved it and we'd get him to stop bothering everyone! I didn't know, I mean why did he say that he'd get you disqualified? Is the chart not allowed or something?"

    For a minute, Michael stared at Henry's face. His eyes were pleading. Behind them, Dennis had gotten to his feet, and was now heading back to his friends. The crowd followed, pecking him with laughs. Somewhere among them stood Leroy and Sebastian, both talking rapidly.

    "No," Michael finally said, looking Henry in the eye. "It's not illegal. That kid was a dork. It was just an empty threat. People do it all the time to get you scared, but you can't fall for it. You have to stand up for yourself instead of hiding in the corner like a little baby."

    “Hey, Michael!” Leroy and the others approached him. “That was intense! My gosh, we thought for sure you’d be a goner! ”

    “Thanks for that,” Sebastian said. “I don’t think he’ll be bothering us anymore. And if he does, we know what to do, right?” He attempted a smile, but it faded quickly.

    “What did the pamphlet say?” Michael said.

    “Didn’t you get one?”

    “I never read it.”

    Sebastian looked at him. His eyes were heavy. “Here. You might want to know now.”

    Michael looked over the pamphlet in his hands. He opened it up, and through his half-stupor, began reading.


    Welcome, trainer, to the 1963 Sinnoh Pokémon League! This is a regionwide competition in which you are given the opportunity to prove your skills and mastery in the art of training pokémon. No matter your gender, no matter your age, you just might be the next big sensation to become one of Sinnoh's Best Top Fifty... and beyond! As a rising trainer, you will travel the region and visit many historic towns and cities, learn about their backgrounds, and have opportunities to take exclusive, informative tours not available to the general public. Not only that, but you will also partake in eight Gym battles, one for every town you visit. For every win, you will receive a silver badge. Keep them safe, because after you have collected all eight, you may advance to the Elite Four. This is a challenge for the qualified trainer only, operating in its own headquarters just off the coast of Sunyshore City. (For more information, see page 2.) The trainer who wins this season's League will receive an unforgettable prize, including a front-cover appearance on 'Trainers Today' magazine and an interview with Sinnoh News Net. Any trainer is eligible to participate, just register with your local Gym!

    Below that was a list of rules. Michael’s heart skipped, but he read on.

    BASIC RULES & GUIDELINES FOR APPLYING:
    - You must be a legal trainer to enter. (You must have received your trainer ID before January 1st of this year. Any trainer cards received after that date will not be accepted.) Birth certificates might be asked for to confirm the information.
    - You may not use any pokémon that are not yours, or that were trained by someone else at any point. (Breeders or basic obedience classes not counted.) Proof or certificate of ownership may be asked for.
    - Your pokémon must be in good health and have updated vaccinations. You may be asked to present documentation.
    - You may not give your pokémon any type of steroid or drug to enhance their performance. These are considered illegal in this competition, and trainers in possession of pokémon under their influence will be immediately disqualified.
    - Trainers are encouraged to operate alone, and without assistance from any outside source. This includes, but is not limited to: using another's pokémon before or after battling, 'reserving' or switching battle dates, and using guides of any sort.

    Any badges obtained under circumstances that break one or more of these rules are considered void and will not be counted. Offenders are subject to be banned from the next season’s League, and will be fined for up to $1,000. Please note that any non-trainer who might be involved in rule-breaking, which includes but is not limited to direct assistance, will also be penalized.

    These rules are subject to change at any time. For more information, call the hotline at (806) 661-9267 or visit your local Gym for more details.

    Good luck, trainers of 1963!!!


    As Michael closed the pamphlet, he felt a jolt run down his spine. He had broken three of the five rules listed, and he hadn't even battled yet. All it would take was an attentive eye and a quick search through his papers for him to be caught, and most likely banned. Michael blinked slowly, his ears still buzzing. He looked over to Henry, who had not moved an inch, then at the other sympathetic faces that surrounded him.

    “So, he was right.”

    “Yeah,” Sebastian said solemnly. “But it’s not all bad. We’ll just give back all our pokémon to Leroy, and that way if Dennis does go to the authorities, he won’t have anything to back himself up.”

    Michael remained still. He found himself stepping backwards, away from them. The trainers frowned. Michael was suddenly stricken by an urge to escape. To run away. To hide. Michael turned and ran off, hobbling to the building as fast as his backpack would allow.

    “Hey, wait!” Henry's footsteps pounded after him again. “Where are you going?”

    “Back inside.”

    “Why? Aren’t you gonna return your pokémon?”

    “No. Later,” Michael lied.

    He went back inside, found their room, and unlocked it, all with a strange desperation. He dropped his backpack by the door and went to the bathroom, eager to get the blood off his hands. Henry followed him in.

    “What did the brochure say, though? I didn’t get to see it. What are the rules?”

    “You have your own,” he said.

    “Yeah, but I forgot! I didn’t really read it, just like you!”

    “Then read it now. It’s on the table.” Michael finished, turned the faucet off, and dried his hands. He went back into the room and lay down on his bed. Henry followed him there too, and stood in front of him.

    “Just tell me. I need to know. Is the chart allowed?”

    “Yes it is.”

    “But what do the rules say?”

    “Read them!”

    “But-“

    “I told you already, they’re on the table! Are you just so helpless without your mommy that you can't act for yourself? Use your own goddamn eyes!”

    “Fine! Just-“

    “What now?”

    Henry sighed. “You’ve had a hell of a day, I get it! And you’re angry, that’s fine too. At least let me get you some water!”

    Michael paused, looking at Henry’s face. The small kindness seemed to offset his annoyance. He nodded. Henry walked out of view, going to the other side of the room which he couldn't see. Michael heard a clink, and the pouring of water from somewhere - a water bottle? - and he was handed the glass. Michael took a few sips, letting the cool wash around his mouth, his throat, then handed it back. The buzzing subsided a little.

    “Good. If you want any more, it’s on the nightstand.”

    Michael nodded in thanks, and closed his eyes.
    Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 9th July 2013 at 2:11 AM.

  12. #87
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    Cool

    I was wondering when Michael would beat the **** out of that fat kid, hahaha nice!

    Anyway, I like how you really emphasize the time setting in your story, it's really great. I like how you explained why trainers used gloves too, I never really thought of it that way before.


    Keep writing, I really do enjoy reading your story!
    Last edited by Noheart; 1st November 2010 at 3:45 AM.

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    The glove thing was another one of my random moments of inspiration. What I'm doing is recalling the trends of today's trainers and finding their not-so-elegant sources. (See, since the old PokeDex overheated and crashed, the first pokeballs must have been even worse! Haha.)

    Anyways, glad you're liking the story! See you next week.


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  14. #89
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    Wow. People only make threats like that if they're afraid so Dennis clearly sees Michael as a threat. And he should even more after this. Michael certainly is your non-generic story hero, what with a fight scene like that.

    So I'm guessing the Pokeballs are similar to the one used by Prof. Oak in the Celebi movie? The Master Ball must have been quite a shock when it was first created.

    So next chapter is finally the gym battle. Well, you given us some good chacter developement up to this point, so lets see how that character developement works out between Michael and his Pokemon in a battle that really counts!

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    The threat was meant to be geared more towards the group in general rather than directly towards Michael, but I guess it doesn't matter now. The outcome would still have been the same, since what the pamphlet described ended up applying to Michael more than it did to the others.

    And yes, you're correct about the pokeballs. Early on I made them just the generic red-and-white, but after a reader corrected me, I changed it for accuracy. I added my own touch to them to make them fit in better with the story. Oak's hands didn't get burned when he released his Pokemon, for one thing. The weight-gain isn't specifically stated anywhere either, but it seemed logical to me.

    I'm gonna get a head-start on the next chapter in anticipation of a pretty busy week. I'll keep you guys posted, of course.

    Thanks for reading, ~Platinum~!


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  16. #91
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    Woo, only got around to reading this. At first, I was all like "Ah no, no Byron - Michael gym match? Tahts sukzy i h8 tis story"

    But then I read the chapter and the the Michael - Fat kid fight more than made up for it. I suppose that Goldeen will have to go back, but at least he'll have Machop. With regard to the broken rules of his, I suppose he'll just have to forge a Trainer ID, return thw Goldeen and never speak of it again and.. What was the last one he broke? Using guides and stuff? He can just not say anything. Or if it was keeping them in good health (Meaning Stunky), he can just release him.

    Looking forward to some more storyness.
    It appears I cannot think of a good signature.

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    Ha ha, that's okay. I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter at least. The Gym match will 100% be next chapter, but I will also have to make room for a little more things - you'll see later on - that Michael will have to take care of. Henry has to battle too, so I will be working on that as well.

    The last rule is a bit of a spoiler, so I won't explain its true significance just yet. (At any rate, you'll get it eventually as you read the coming chapters.) Basically, it says that a trainer is supposed to be a one-man team. They can't get other people to help them. And Michael's been doing that quite a bit, don't you think?


    So, thanks for the review! I'll be working on the chapter over the days, and I'll keep you guys posted on its progress.

    For my PM listers: As the margins between posts get longer, would you like me to send you little notifications on its completion, like if it's half-done, or if I get an estimated posting date? Or would that just flood your inbox and be annoying? XP


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    Hey, I started reading your fic today and I got hooked in immediately. I have a question. In the pokemon league pamphlet, would the rule about not using pokemon raised by other trainers apply to traded pokemon as well? Just curious. But anyway, please add me to your PM list and I'll be looking forward to chapter 1.0

    Alpha Sapphire --> Arceus is the Alpha pokemon --> Arceus is a generation 4 pokemon --> Sinnoh confirmed!!

    (Yeah, get used to it now, because this is what you're going to have to put up with for the next 5-7 years)

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    Remember how in the rules 'proof of ownership' is mentioned to prove that a pokemon is yours? Well in a legal pokemon trade, trainers exchange the rights to their pokemon, like people 'exchange' the rights to a property when they're buying or selling a house. The point of it being legal is so that you can use the other person's pokemon in a League competition and not be penalized for it. Of course you can give them away in a simple no-binding trade, but the League won't recognize it and would disqualify the trainer. That's why Michael and the others could have been in trouble.

    Anyways, I'm glad you're liking the story! I'll go ahead and add you to the PM list right now.

    Chapter 1.0 is on the way, but since I'm coping with school right now, I can't say for sure when the next chapter will be up. But don't worry, I won't forget about this fic :P
    Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 12th November 2010 at 10:24 PM.


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    All right, after thinking a bit on this one, I decided to include two battles, not one. You'll be seeing Michael battle, then Henry's, with a tiny little transition scene in between to tie everything together. I decided this would be best, instead of spreading the battles out across two chapters which would have taken forever. The result is lengthy, but I hope it'll be worth the reading.


    Enjoy 10 everyone!



    1.0

    In its article, “The Art of Pokémon Battles”, the Pokémon League Weekly magazine defines a pokémon battle as a competition between two trainers, in which their pokémon wrestle each other in an attempt to assert dominance. The practice dates back to prehistoric times, when early hominids let loose their herds on each other to compete for land with other tribes. A pokémon’s nature is to defend its territory, and humans learned to control this instinct and use it to their benefit. To help hunt non-elemental pokémon, they used the help of elemental pokémon, such as the notorious Poison type, to immobilize their prey and quickly kill them. When the first settled civilizations appeared, and hominids utilized the concept of farming, they tamed pokémon and trained them to help plant, plow, and harvest. Later on, each city kept a herd of elemental pokémon, as well as a human army, in preparation for attacks. Groups of pokémon would be paired with a single trainer, whose command they were trained to obey without question. It is this rigid system of discipline, as well as selective breeding, that paved the way for pokémon domestication. Moving closer to modern times, when technology and science rose to prominence, pokémon battles became more of a sporting activity than an act of war. Pokémon Rights movements have hindered its growth, but with the help of recent inventions such as the pokéball and the Automatic Heat Therapy System, battling is on the way to becoming a more humane and efficient practice. Modern trainers can use it for anything from resolving minor conflicts to self-defense. Some have devoted their entire lives to mapping strategies and mechanics of battling, and it is thanks to them that battling enjoys such a worldwide success.

    The magazine also lists six basic pointers trainers should consider when they are facing a battle:

    1) Speak firmly and concisely, making eye contact with your pokémon.
    2) If there are markings that define your battlefield, stand outside the white lines at all times. If there are none, maintain a distance of at least ten feet between you and the battlers. If battling indoors, make sure that there are no fragile or otherwise dangerous objects around you.
    3) If battling at night, keep the space illuminated.
    4) Trainers may not provide any physical assistance to their pokémon, aside from helping them up when they are seriously injured. Verbal assistance is encouraged.
    5) When your pokémon exhibits a sudden weakness and collapses, keeping still for more than five seconds, it is considered fainted and unable to battle. Trainers in this situation should immediately call them back inside their pokéballs and, if applicable, send out their next pokémon.
    6) The trainer who is the first to knock out all of their opponent’s pokémon, while having at least one able party member either on hand or on field, wins the battle. A tie is called when both trainers are battling with their last pokémon, and have both faint at the same time. In this case, the match has no winner. In an official Gym battle, the distribution of the badge will be at the leader’s own discretion.



    //////



    That Tuesday morning, at exactly 8:54 a.m., Michael stood in a large, rectangular room. It had a dirt floor and blank, heavy walls, the equivalent of some sort of dungeon. The early light peeked in through tiny windows lined up near the ceiling, and though they were too high up for anyone to look inside, Michael felt strangely exposed. Against the opposite wall stood Byron, now in what Michael guessed to be his battle attire. A white cape had been added to the back of his scruffy polo shirt, and he wore thick gloves on both hands. One of them held a pokéball.

    As for him, his backpack had been left with Henry, who was now giving him a silent thumbs-up from the sidelines. He had let Michael borrow his knapsack for the battle, as well as a pair of winter mittens (they didn’t have time to go to the store to get real gloves) to cushion his still-aching palms. Michael might have thanked him, but for some reason, wearing Henry’s things made him feel more like Henry himself. Which wasn’t good.


    Michael gritted his teeth. Not cool. Focus.


    Byron was rolling the pokéball between his palms now, like a master card dealer brandishing his deck. He spoke in a deep, tight voice, a phrase he had probably repeated to every trainer that stood before him.

    “Michael Rowan. Welcome to the Oreburgh Gym, and to the Pokémon League. Winning this match will earn you the Coal Badge and eligibility for the second Gym in Eterna City. The battle we will have today will be a single battle, no more than one pokémon per trainer on the field at once. The first trainer to defeat all of their opponent’s pokémon will be declared the winner. Do you understand these guidelines as I have dictated them to you?”

    God, he sounded like a test paper. “Yes,” Michael said.

    Byron flipped the cape back over his shoulder. “Well then, trainer! Send out your first pokémon!” In one fluid motion, he twisted the knob and tossed the pokéball up into the air. It split open, giving way to a small nova of white light. A Geodude, no bigger than a small boulder, landed on the floor while the rest of the light fled back into the capsule. Its face was chiseled with scars. It was bulkier than Kyle’s had been, but Michael figured that the bigger they were, the harder they fell.

    The Geodude began rolling back and forth in the dirt, holding its massive arms high above its body. Michael took out a pokéball of his own and twisted it open.

    Ever since he had made his first capture, he had developed an instinct to point the pokéball away from his face, even though the light wasn’t as bad and the heat had definitely lessened. The Machop he had caught appeared from the beam. It landed facing its opponent, flexing its arms in what might have been a yawn. It did not flinch at the sight of Michael now; clearly, something in the pokéball had caused it to recognize its new master.

    "Gooooooo Michael!" Henry wailed in the background. "You can do it!" Michael rolled his eyes.

    A cheerleader in the making, he thought. Meanwhile, Byron stepped forward into the boundary line. A smile was growing on his face.

    “The battlers are out, now let’s get this started!” He pointed to the Geodude. “All right little buddy, use Rollout!”

    The pokémon clapped its arms and launched itself forward into a rapid roll, kicking up dirt like a car tire. Michael curled his hands into fists, wincing at the dry rub of wool against his palms. “Machop, use Focus Punch.”

    The Machop seemed to understand. It shuffled back and forth, its fists raised against its face like a karate fighter’s. It threw a heavy punch at the oncoming Geodude, and hit it back like a baseball. The Geodude was thrust backwards several feet, but instead of spiraling off with cries of pain, it quickly regained its balance and kept right on rolling.

    What?! A second later, Michael slapped his forehead. Of course. He expected this.

    The Machop seemed just as surprised as the trainer. Apparently, in its own little world of green grass and bright flowers, it had been the big bad. Now, when it saw the Geodude retaliate, it jumped swiftly to the side to avoid it. The Machop’s feet breezed over the ground, then it thudded over by the white line, scattering tiny pebbles. The Geodude, still spinning, turned right around after it.

    “Come on!” Michael shouted. “Stop running and hit it! Yes, I’m talking to you!” Michael answered the Machop’s confused look with a snap. It rose to its feet, one side of its body smeared brown. It punched the Geodude again, and this time, the pokémon broke out of its ball form and landed back with both arms splayed.

    “All right, Geodude, use Rock Tomb!” came Byron’s next command.

    The Geodude clenched its fists, and for a second, Michael thought he could see a network of little tiny veins bulge out from its skin. Suddenly, the rock rippled in spikes, new growths bursting forth from underneath like horns. They thickened and sharpened, until Geodude resembled the head of a mace.

    “Launch!”

    In a split second, the spikes shot towards the Machop like bullets. They landed straight into the dirt, encircling the Machop in a sort of cage, then began to grow rapidly. The spears grew thicker and taller, until they encased it up to the neck.

    At that point, Michael realized that his mouth had been hanging open. He quickly shook himself awake, looking first to Byron. He wasn’t paying attention - he was too busy watching as the rocky cage constricted Machop’s body. The pokémon had craned its neck back against the strain, and its big eyes were shaking.

    “Get out of it!” Michael urged. “Come on!”

    Byron was smiling again. “Geodude, finish it off! Use Mach Punch!”

    Michael didn’t know the move, but it sure as hell didn’t sound good. He turned over to the Machop, but it didn’t seem to be fighting back. It was squirming against the rocky prison, eyes darting from Michael’s face to the Geodude’s nasty grimace. It looked ready to squeal.

    The Geodude was flexing its arms and rolling back-and-forth, clearly getting ready for something big. Michael let out a groan.

    He stepped forward and cupped his hands around his mouth. “Come on already! Don’t just stand there and let your ass be kicked! Get angry!”

    At this, the Machop looked up. Something glazed over its eyes for a moment, and a muscle in its neck twitched.

    “That’s right!” Michael continued. “You heard me! Wimp!”

    The Machop snarled, baring gleaming teeth. It shook harder, and this time, one of the spears cracked. It wriggled one arm free, then the other. With a snarl, it kicked away the rock, chipping the spears away one by one and letting the fragments fall to the ground.

    From his seat at the sidelines, Henry covered his mouth with his hand. Michael kept yelling.

    “Lazy! My gramma has more muscle than you ever will! Show me what you got already!”

    The Machop pushed the remainder of the rock away, and landed on all fours on free ground. The Geodude had begun to swing its fist. With a grunt, it shot forward towards the Machop.

    Michael took a deep breath. “All right, now use -” But before he could finish the command, he was cut off by a loud bellow.

    The Machop’s face had turned an ugly red, and its eyes danced with fire. It let out a bellow that shook the empty walls.


    “RAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”


    It grabbed one of the spears behind it and leaped forward. It swung the rock like a club, hammering it right into the path of the rolling ball.


    “CHOP!”


    The ground rippled like water. The vibrations threw Geodude into the air, then back down.

    “Geodude, hang in there!” Byron called. “Use -”

    The sentence was left unfinished. Machop swung the spear, hitting the Geodude off towards the wall, where it crashed just below the windows. Machop did not wait for it to fall. The pokémon raced after it and the club struck again, throwing the Geodude towards the sidelines. Henry dove out of the way just as it hit the benches.

    “Whoa!”

    The benches shook with Geodude’s bounce, then the pokémon landed on the ground. The Machop met it there, and ignoring Henry, brought the club down straight into the Geodude’s face. Rock gave beneath rock, eliciting a crack. Michael flinched as the club was brought away. The Geodude’s eyes were now closed, and its powerful arms hung limp.

    The Machop lifted the club to strike again, but Byron threw up his hands.

    “All right, all right, that’ll do. Return, Geodude.” The pokéball’s white light was reflected in Machop’s eyes. It watched the Geodude go almost sadly.

    Byron pocketed the pokéball and took a deep, steadying breath.

    “Well that’s something you don’t see every day! Good work, Geodude. Good work.” He swapped the pokéball for a second. “Go, Onix!”

    Out from the second pokéball came what looked like a giant caterpillar, only its body was made entirely from boulders. A horn protruded from its head, and underneath it were large, glaring eyes. The room could barely accommodate its height, and the pokémon had to crane its neck down to see them.

    “Go get ‘em, Michael!” Henry shouted. “Yeeeaah! Do it!”

    Byron was hidden behind the pokémon’s massive body, though Michael could still hear his voice, “Onix, use Iron Tail!”

    “Club him, Machop!”

    Machop was two steps ahead of him. It ran forward and hit the Onix’s tail, growling and muttering. The creature’s great eyes narrowed in pain, and it let out a drawling howl. The head turned towards the nuisance, and the Machop swung again, this time higher up. The Onix flinched, arching its body. The Machop began to climb the Onix’s back, using the gaps in the vertebrae as handholds. It brought the club down onto the back of the Onix’s head.

    “No, Onix! Shake him off with Screech!”

    The Machop kept clubbing, nearly too fast for Michael’s eyes to follow. Head, back, cheek, all with an endless rage. The Onix began to sway, its eyes spaced and unfocused. Machop hammered the club onto its head a final time, and the Onix drooped, falling limply to the ground.

    The Machop continued hammering, and Onix opened its mouth in a giant yawn. All of a sudden, a flat, hair-raising scrape emerged from its throat, wailing through the room with staggering magnitude. Michael doubled over, clamping his mittens against his ears to silence it. It was perhaps the most horrifying thing he had ever heard, and he never could have guessed that such a giant creature could make such a sound. Even Byron had gritted his teeth. The Machop’s body was quaking, and a drop of bubbling saliva oozed from its mouth. Its hands tight around the club, the pokémon launched into a crazy mess of blows, high and low, trying to find an off-button. Finally, Onix’s cries faltered, and the voice cracked and died. The pokémon’s eyes fell shut.

    “Well that’s something you don’t see every day!” Byron’s head poked out from behind. “I must say, you have a very unique Machop.” The giant body faded to white, then fled back into the pokéball.

    Michael heard his heart thump. Two down, one to go.

    “You have done well so far, trainer,” Byron said. “However, you haven’t gotten rid of me just yet. There is one more pokémon you have to beat.” He took out a third pokéball and took a moment to caress it lovingly. “My father gave him to me. And he’s not going down that easily! Go, Bronzor!”

    A strip of blue metal with eyes emerged from the pokéball. At first Michael thought it was going to fall to the floor and shatter, but then the pokémon floated up and began to hover above their heads, casting little diamonds of light onto the walls. It was so thin, it seemed to vanish as it twisted. The only thing that stayed the same were its eyes - tiny and yellow, they seemed to be staring right into him.

    A little gasp of wonder escaped Henry’s lips. “Whoa! It gets me every time! Isn’t it awesome, Michael?”

    At first, Michael didn’t see what the big deal was. But as he stared at the rotating slide, he suddenly remembered Leroy’s words. Uses a lot of non-physical attacks that can confuse the opponent. Whatever that meant.

    “Are you ready, Michael Rowan? Let’s finish this! Bronzor, use Confuse Ray!”

    Michael took a breath. “Club him, Machop!”

    The Machop looked up, seemed ready to leap, but all of a sudden it was seized by a convulsion that brought it down to its knees. The club clattered to the ground and it heaved over, muttering to itself incoherently.

    “What? What’s wrong with you?” Michael said. “Get up!”

    The Machop shook its head, eyes swimming. It probed around for the club, and took it back into its hands hesitantly.

    “That’s it. That’s it. Now see that metal thing up in the sky? Hit it!”

    The Machop stood for a moment, staring up at the Bronzor. It lifted the club, but instead of aiming it forward, it brought it down onto its own head. Machop let out a cry, teetered, and fell on its butt. Henry looked at Michael gravely, and shook his head.

    “Come on, Machop, you ditz! Hit the opponent, not you!”

    Machop lifted the club again and whacked itself furiously, squealing and snarling at the same time.

    “No! Not you, hit the - oh, just hit the stupid Bronzor already! The Bronzor! The thing up there!” Michael pointed up at the Bronzor, but every time he did, the Machop whacked itself atop the head once more, convinced that it was the enemy instead.

    Byron stood and watched.

    “Come on! Idiot!” Michael yanked at his hair as Machop continued to wrestle with itself. It dropped the club in a drunken daze, and began to punch the air. Michael slapped his forehead.

    The Machop managed a few more punches, three to its own face, then with a final sigh, collapsed in a heap. Michael looked at it grimly.

    “Fine.” He called it back inside without another word. He placed the pokéball into the knapsack and swapped it with the Turtwig’s.

    In another flash, the Turtwig materialized on the floor. It looked straight ahead at first, expectantly, then slowly lifted its eyes to where the Bronzor was.

    “Strike it down,” Michael said. “With the leaves. Then stomp on it. Got that?”

    The Turtwig looked back at him. Byron pointed up to his pokémon.

    “Bronzor, use Psychic!”

    “Now, Turtwig!”

    The Turtwig tossed its head back and sent a flurry of leaves up into the air. The Bronzor did not retaliate, but remained still with its eyes wandering as the leaves slid past its body and rained back down.

    No effect.

    Michael was speechless. Of course leaves wouldn’t affect metal. They were leaves.

    A pink glow lit up Bronzor’s eyes, and Michael looked up. He did not see the attack strike - all he saw was the flick of light as Bronzor descended, and the wince of his Turtwig as it collapsed. The Turtwig fought an invisible force for a while, shuddering and spitting, before going still.

    “That’s it?” Michael said. He went over to his Turtwig and nudged it with his foot. “Come on, get up!” He turned it over onto its back, but it didn’t move.

    “If it’s five seconds, it’s fainted,” Byron said. “Sorry.” He didn’t seem too sorry, though, as he watched Michael call the Turtwig back. He swapped the pokéball for his last one - the Goldeen. He had removed the label the previous day, against his better judgment, deciding that he would need every pokémon he could get.

    The Goldeen emerged from the white gracefully, and landed on its belly in the rock. Michael had read about them before (which was actually him leafing through the pages of his textbook when he was bored in class), and he knew one or two of their most basic moves. He had gone over his strategy the night before, and if things would go according to plan, he would only need two.

    “Goldeen, use Supersonic.”

    “Bronzor, Confuse Ray!”

    The two attacks hit silently, and simultaneously. Goldeen emitted invisible waves from its horn that penetrated Bronzor, working through millions of nerve cells and weakening their connections. In turn, Bronzor had taken control of Goldeen’s mind, causing the pokémon to lose awareness and stumble over its own fins.

    The Bronzor’s eyes grew blank, and it dipped dangerously near the ground. Goldeen began to flail, as its air-adjusting gills narrowed.

    “Hey fish, listen to me!” Michael said. He stepped closer to the Goldeen. “There’s an enemy inside you. Kill it. Use Horn Attack on yourself! You are the enemy! Got it?”

    The Goldeen struggled back onto its belly. The Bronzor had fallen to the ground as well, and was flipping over like a leaf.

    “Bronzor, don’t lose control! Use Psychic!”

    “Go!” Michael snapped, and the Goldeen brought the Bronzor into focus. The theory was that if confusion reversed the pokémon’s understanding of its trainer’s commands, if the trainer told it to attack itself, the pokémon would attack the other pokémon on the field with it - the opponent.

    Of course, it was only a theory.

    The Goldeen dragged itself over to the Bronzor and pointed its horn at the blue body.

    That’s it, Michael thought. He was down on his knees now, watching intently. Henry was sitting forward.

    The Goldeen thrust its horn into the Bronzor’s face, with a force that should have made the pokémon shatter. Bronzor let out a muffled squeal through a mouth that wasn’t there, and the Goldeen lunged forward again. It butted its head, tossing the Bronzor over and over like a piece of scrap metal.

    Finally, the yellow eyes closed. Michael’s hear skipped a beat.

    “Yeeeeeaaaaaaahh!” Henry stood to clap. “You won! Michael won!”

    Byron sent the Bronzor back into the pokéball, and dusted off his cape. He approached Michael and held out a gloved hand.

    “Well done, trainer. You truly deserve the Coal Badge.” They shook hands. When Michael drew back, it was in his palm. A round, coin-like object. It was bordered by silver, and the rest of it was a deep brown. When he held it up to the light, it shimmered like Bronzor’s skin.

    "Do you have a badge case?" Byron asked.

    Michael shook his head.

    "Well, you should get one. They're not too expensive, and they'll protect your badges from dust." He winked, then his expression took on a seriousness. "I'm afraid that it will only get harder from here, Michael. You’ve beaten the Oreburgh Gym, and the next challenge awaits you in Eterna City. It’s a small Gym, but the trainers there have even more skill and power than I do. I trust that in your future battles, you will maintain the honor, determination, and tactics that I saw today."

    Michael nodded. “Thanks. I will.”

    “My only advice to you would be to act quicker next time. Don’t stand there waiting for me to give my pokémon a command. You want to catch your opponent off-guard. You passed up a lot of good opportunities to take my team down, but thanks to your skill, you more than made up for it.”

    Henry came to his side and held up his hand for a high-five. Michael gave it to him, and Henry smiled.

    “Great battle! No, really, that was amazing!”

    “You have a unique team, Michael,” Byron said. “I hope you will take it to good places in the future. And you,” he turned to Henry, “I will see tomorrow for our battle.”

    “That’s right!” Henry said.

    Michael began to step back, but Byron held up a hand. “Wait. One more thing. For all your troubles.” Byron withdrew a fat wallet from his pocket and removed several crisp bills. He placed them into Michael's hands.

    Michael slowly pocketed the money, and instantly, he could feel its familiar weight against his side - light, but heavy at the same time. Truly the best feeling in the world.

    "T-thanks," he managed.

    Byron bowed his head. "Good luck."



    //////



    When they were outside, Henry immediately pulled Michael over to a bench and sat down next to him.

    "All right, let's see it! Show me the badge!"

    Michael opened his hand, and let the sunlight catch the Coal Badge. Henry's eyes reflected its glimmers.

    "Can... can I hold it?" He looked up, a bit uncertainly.

    "Sure."

    "Wow, thanks!" Henry carefully took the badge into his hands and held it up to the light. His hands were shaking. "I can't believe it... I've never actually held one before... Thanks." He handed it back to Michael, who instantly began laughing.

    "Man, this is amazing! I'm already off to a good start, and look, look how much money I got!" He lifted the money from his pocket and rushed to count it. The result made him sputter. "Fifteen dollars! I can't believe it! Fifteen whole dollars, right here, in my hand!" He looked over to Henry and sighed. "Life is good."

    Henry returned it, though at a lesser degree. He looked back down at the badge, his expression longing. "Yeah, I guess," he murmured absently.

    "What's wrong with you?" Michael said. "Did you stub your toe or something?"

    "No, I'm really happy for you. Honest."

    "You don't sound too happy."

    Henry sulked, and let out a sigh. "I don’t know...”

    "Spit it out."

    “It’s just that you did so amazing. And I can’t battle like that, you know? I'll probably lose again, just like last time. I told you, I'm a terrible trainer! I'm not good enough for the Coal badge, but for some reason, everyone else in my life is."

    "Don't be a candyass. Your rematch is tomorrow."

    "It won't be the same," Henry said quietly, with finality.

    Michael rolled his eyes. He looked over the badge in his hands, watching as the metal patterns appeared and disappeared with the light's tilt. "I get the fact that Gyms give money, but seriously, what’s the deal with the badge? Why are you so obsessed with it? Does it make you famous or something?"

    "No, it's just an honor. Money gets spent, but badges are a permanent memory of what you did. No one will take a trainer seriously if they don't have any badges. It's proof that you have skills and experience. This kid I know always used to get picked on, just like me. But then he got some badges, and now no one bothers him." Henry reached into his tote bag for what looked like a giant ring box, and flipped it over and over in his hands. "My mom bought me a case to hold them all. But I'll probably never get any."

    "Big deal," Michael said. "I didn't have any badges when I was in school, and no one ever picked on me. A lot of people I knew didn’t have any badges, but they were fine. It's all about how you carry yourself. If you need some stupid piece of metal to feel cool, then you'll always be a wimp."

    Henry sighed. "And that's what I like about you. You don't care what anyone thinks. I can't do that."

    "Stop whining. I didn’t just win on luck, you know. I prepared. And I’ll help you prepare too. Remember your battle the other day?”

    “Yeah,” Henry propped his chin on his hands.

    “I took notes on it. And I have exactly what you need to know to win the match. You have a pretty good team for him, now all you have to do is use it.”

    Henry looked over to Michael. “So you have a strategy for me?”

    “Yep.”

    And Michael told him.



    //////


    Day two.


    It was Michael’s turn to sit out this time, for Henry was on the field now, staring ahead at Byron with as much determination as he could feign to mask his nervousness.

    The Henry gang (that’s what Michael had now come to know them as) sat beside him - Sebastian, Kyle, Tony, Martha, and Cindy. They looked to Henry with encouraging smiles, but the boy wasn’t paying attention to any of them. His eyes were fixed directly on Byron, and behind them, Michael could see a raging battle of focus trying to win over fear. His fist curled and uncurled around the hem of his shirt.

    Byron himself stood in his usual spot, looking as if it were just another day at the office. Any fear that Michael might have had for Byron in the few seconds before they had battled were long gone now, and he was able to see the man as he was. Yet, by the way Henry looked at him, you’d have thought that he was the President.

    “Henry McPherson, are you ready for your rematch?” Byron said.

    Henry nodded stiffly. “Yes.” His eyes flicked over to the sidelines and briefly locked with Michael’s. Michael gave a single nod.


    He had told Henry the strategy the previous day. The plan was simple: Burmy would be the leader, since its grass moves could be used to overwhelm Geodude and bring down Onix. If it fainted early, then he could back it up with his Magikarp, proving that it wouldn’t be a useless flop on land. Clefairy was another good asset, due to its fighting moves, in case both Burmy and Magikarp fell.

    As for Bronzor, the kid would just have to fend for himself.

    Michael had told Henry to leave the Pachirisu at the hotel, since it was an electric type and probably wouldn’t last a single minute. But Henry had insisted on packing it anyway, just in case.

    Michael watched as Henry twisted open his first pokéball. The strange withered body of Burmy landed upon the sand, and immediately sucked up a small cloak of dirt to hide all but the yellow eyes. The cocoon stood upright, and Henry’s friends clapped.

    “Yeah, go Henry!” Cindy shouted.

    Byron uncapped his pokéball and released his Geodude. The pokémon was fully healed from the previous day, and looked even more battle-ready than before.

    “All right, Geodude, let’s get this started! Use Rock Throw!”

    Geodude lifted its arms, and at an invisible command, two boulders sprouted from the ground like plants. They grew from flat sand, spilling chunks around them, and landed into Geodude’s palms.

    Henry didn’t wait. “Burmy, use Razor Leaf!” For a second, the pokémon’s dirt cloak peeled back to expose a green underlayer of leaves. As the rocks were thrown, the leaves fell upwards and whipped through the air around Burmy’s head, shooting forward in an angry cluster.

    The leaves tore through the air like razors. The rocks shot through the cloud, but instead of coming out the other way, the leaves diced them into dust, letting the crumbs sprinkle down. The rest of the leaves clawed their way towards Geodude, who rolled swiftly to the side in time to evade them. The leaves hit the wall and slithered down.

    Geodude continued to roll towards the Burmy, now having gained balance and speed. Henry gave his next command.

    “Burmy, use Protect!”

    The pokémon’s cloak began to thicken, drawing more sand from the ground, letting it seep over his eyes and nose and smooth the curves of his body. The Geodude didn’t seem deterred. It began to roll faster, hoping to knock Burmy down like a bowling pin.

    “Knock it down, Geodude!” came Byron’s shout.

    But the Geodude might as well have tried to move a wall.

    The Burmy’s coat had thickened to almost concrete, and when the soft rock of Geodude’s head-body collided with it, it bounced back like a ping pong ball. Geodude was thrown back through the dirt, arms flopping and flailing, and collapsed facedown.

    “Finish it off!” Henry cried. “Use Razor Leaf!”

    Burmy shed its cloak in a heartbeat. The leaves were back again, swirling through the air and raining down on the Geodude’s body. The pelts left deep indentations in the rock, crisscrossing around Geodude’s eyes and arms. The wind When the leaves had exhausted their purpose, Geodude lay still on the ground.

    “Yay! Go Henry! Woooooo!” the kids on the sidelines erupted in applause. Michael nodded again as Byron called the fainted pokémon back. Check one.

    “Very good, Henry. I’m glad you see you’ve improved on your strategy since our last battle. You used Razor Leaf instead of Tackle.” Byron took out his next pokéball. No one noticed Michael’s sudden smile.

    “Let’s hope you can keep it up! Go, Onix!”

    The towering beast unfurled from the light, landing in front of its trainer with a colossal thud. Henry stepped back as if to accommodate the giant. The Onix drew itself up to its fullest height, well over five meters, and peered down at Henry with bulbous white eyes. Standing in its shadow, the Burmy seemed tiny and insignificant.

    Henry sucked in a breath. “All right little buddy, Razor Leaf!”

    “Onix, Iron Tail!”

    The Onix lifted its tail like a giant club. Instantly, the rocks underwent a dramatic transformation, turning from pale gray to a lustrous, polished silver. They were raised the tail against the oncoming leaves. Instead of cutting through the rock, as Henry expected them to, the leaves slid off with no greater effect than if they had hit a windshield.

    The tail was brought down onto the ground, tossing Burmy to the side. Burmy flipped over and over, landing on his back.

    “No!” Henry said. “The face! Aim for the face, Burmy!”

    In the split second that he had said this, Onix’s tail swept the field again. Before his Burmy had time to get to his feet, he vanished behind a cloud of dirt. Henry saw the leaves tear through the cloud and hit Onix’s face. They scraped the naked rock, making the great beast stumble.

    “Yes! Keep going, keep going!” Henry smiled. More tufts of leaves spurted from Burmy’s cloak, slapping Onix’s face repeatedly from side to side.

    “Now finish it off!” he blurted. “Give it a really good one!”

    Onix was swaying to and fro, slowly sinking under the force of the gusts. The final leaves met the top of its head and pushed it down, finishing the job. Onix toppled, its mouth lolling -

    “Burmy, get out of the way!”

    - right onto the ground. Burmy was hidden behind the massive body in a giant roll of dust, and any cry it might have let out was instantly muffled by the crash. Henry bit his lip.

    “Burmy, are you there?”

    No answer. Byron stepped forward and held up Onix’s pokéball. “Good job, old friend. Return.”

    Onix vanished, and the light cleared to reveal Burmy, who had been caught underneath. The sand cloak had melted away in some spots, and its eyes were closed.

    Henry’s head drooped a little as he returned the pokémon and took out a second pokéball. Sebastian and the others shared confused looks, unsure as to whether to clap or not. Michael nodded again to himself, marking off the second mental check.

    The Bronzor was released, and for a moment Michael stared up at it, watching it turn and twist in dizzying patterns above him. Henry was looking up at it too now, some inaudible thought running through his mind.

    “Go, Clefairy!” His next pokémon sprang out from its container and landed onto the ground.

    Byron flexed his wrists. Before Henry even had time to move -

    “Bronzor, use Psychic!”

    Michael watched as the invisible attack took hold. The Clefairy dropped to its knees, pressing its hands against its head. It rocked back and forth for a while and Henry watched it, teeth bared in a slight grimace.

    “Clefairy! Use Wake-up-Slap!”

    Michael could see the Clefairy concentrating. It lifted its beady eyes up towards the Bronzor, who was spinning somberly above it.

    “Clefairy, go!” Henry urged again. Clefairy struggled to get up, its little neck bulging. It seemed to be pushing against a mental barrier, trying to break through a pane of glass to reach the proper muscles. At first, Michael thought it would give in, snapping like a twig under the pressure.

    But in the next moment, something broke behind the pokémon’s eyes. The Clefairy bent down in renewed strength and leaped up, picking the Bonzor out of the air and bringing it back down with it.

    The others began to clap. “Woo! Yeah! That’s it, do it Clefairy!”

    The Clefairy had the Bronzor pinned down beneath it, oddly reminding Michael of how he had pinned down Dennis, and was slapping the shit out of it. It threw the Bronzor back, but the pokémon lifted itself up into the air again before Clefairy could grab it. It climbed up almost to the ceiling and let out a metallic clanking noise from its no-mouth, one that made Michael’s arms pickle.

    The Bronzor’s eyes glowed a bright pink, and Clefairy was once again hammered down. It dropped down on its side and began to thrash, flipped around by an invisible hand. The kids let out drawling noises of pity, loud ooooohs and come ooons. Henry, for the first time that day, seemed completely unsure of what to do. He looked around for help, for anything, but no words came out of his mouth.

    The Clefairy wrestled with itself again, rising then falling then rising again. It was gritting its teeth as if its head was filled with an annoying buzzing. With one eye open, it dug its fingers into the dirt and flung a clump at Bronzor’s face.

    The dirt splattered, and Bronzor sank several feet. The invisible binds against Clefairy loosened, and the pokémon flung another chunk of dirt. The Bronzor was thrown back by the momentum, and sank even further, letting out more of its screeching noises.

    Dirt! The word rang between Michael’s ears. That’s it! Ground affects steel! He tightened his grip around the bench. Henry just might pull through.

    The Clefairy kept flinging, and Michael saw Henry’s eyes, wide with astonishment, following Bronzor as it fell, hovered back up, then fell again. Bronzor was clearly trying to regroup and counter, but it was hard to concentrate with a faceful of grime. When a small pile had amassed on its face, it collapsed from the sheer weight, and did not move.

    Henry clamped his hands around his mouth.

    Clefairy walked up to the Bronzor, now freed from Psychic’s effects. It gently wiped the dirt from the fallen pokémon’s face, to expose closed eyes. Fainted.

    And then Byron began to clap.

    “Well done! Well done, Henry!”

    “Yeah!” Sebastian joined in. “Henry!”

    The benches erupted in applause, louder than ever before. Michael nodded a third time, and brought his hands together to close the match, and their troubles. For a second, he thought he saw a tear slide down Henry’s cheek. Henry’s Clefairy jumped into his arms and he hugged it tightly. He whispered something in its ear, “Good job”, and called it back inside the pokéball.

    The two met at center field, Leader and trainer, and shook hands. Everyone rose to crowd around them, to watch as Henry McPherson received his first badge. The Coal Badge looked the same as ever, but in the nest of Henry’s palm it seemed to shine and sparkle.

    “You’ve grown, my boy, both as a trainer and as a person,” Byron said, and the roar died down. He placed a hand on Henry’s shoulder. “When I first saw you, you were unsure of yourself and your abilities. But I’m telling you, there’s a trainer somewhere inside there. You just have to make him come out. You got that?”

    Henry nodded.

    “You’ll try even harder in your upcoming battles?”

    Henry beamed. “Yeah.”

    Byron stepped back. “Then my job is done. Go, and good luck!” He indicated the exit, and Henry skipped along towards it, his friends dashing out after him.



    The troupe of cheering kids spilled out into the sunny day, grouped together in the tiny front lawn in a mess of cheers and jumps. Sebastian and Kyle stood on either side of Henry, and lifted his arms like a boxing champion’s.

    “Let’s hear it for Henry!”

    “Wooooooooooo!”

    The kids threw their arms up, then lowered them in a wave.

    “Good going!” Tony ruffled Henry’s hair. “Now you can go on to Eterna! Lucky!”

    “And then to Hearthome, Solaceon, and beyond, baby!”

    “Yeah!”

    Henry began laughing. His face was red, as the poor boy had nearly been driven to tears. “Thanks guys! Thanks so much!”

    “Are you kidding me? That battle was awesome!” Cindy gushed. “At first you seemed like you’d go down, but then you came right back up and did it! You beat Byron with only two pokémon!”

    “Yeah, that kid’s gonna make it big one day!” Martha said. “Mr. Henry, may I please have your autograph?”

    They laughed.

    “Don’t worry, I won’t let you guys down!” Henry said. He turned towards the sidewalk and beckoned to Michael. “Come on, we gotta go! We gotta get back to the hotel so we can pack for Eterna!”

    Michael was about to go, but he stopped and took one last look at the kids. They quieted down at his stare, and looked back at him. They shared a moment of mutual silence, and then Sebastian spoke.

    “So, you beat the Gym too?” he said.

    “Yeah.”

    The boy smiled. “Cool. Are you going for the League too? With Henry?”

    Michael nodded. “Yep.”

    “That’s great. It’s nice of you to travel with him. I think Henry needs a friend. And you’re a cool kid, Michael, even if you are thirteen.”

    Michael smiled. “Hmm. You’re not bad for eleven either.”

    Sebastian let out a laugh. “Thanks.”

    Leroy stepped forward now, and took Michael’s hand in a sloppy handshake. He went over to Henry and shook his hand as well. “It was nice meeting you two. Really, really awesome battle! Congrats on the wins.” He stopped in front of Michael. “Oh, and good luck with the type strategies. They’re a really unique idea, and I think you’ll go pretty far with them.”

    “Thanks. Good luck with your PokéDex,” Michael said with a wink.

    Leroy smiled slyly. “Yeah. I’ll be traveling as well, looking for new entries and whatnot, so I hope we’ll meet again sometime.”

    “I’m sure we will,” Henry said. “Thanks for coming to my battle.”

    “No problem.”

    Henry began to step away, but right then, he seemed to remember something. "Wait." He turned back to Leroy and dug a pokéball out of his tote bag. "Here." Turning away so that the others couldn't see, he handed the silver capsule to the boy.

    Leroy appeared confused. "What for?" He turned the pokéball around, and saw the label he had pasted on it: 'Magikarp'.

    "I'm giving it back to you," Henry said. "I appreciate it and everything, but... I just don't want to get in trouble for it."

    To the side, Michael rolled his eyes. Leroy kept his gaze fixed on Henry, and nodded slowly. "All right. I can respect that. You don't have to keep it if you don't want to."

    Henry smiled. "Thanks."

    He turned back around to his other friends, who were clustered in front of the Gym. Tony let out an exaggerated sigh. “Well?” he shouted. “What are you waiting for? Go!” He gave Henry a push from behind. “Go to Eterna already! Don’t hang around us, you’re too cool for that now!”

    “Yeah! Get outta here, champion!” Sebastian said. “Hurry up, before all the good reservations are taken!”

    Laughing, Henry stumbled towards the sidewalk, one hand clutching his badge and the other waving at them. “Come on, Michael! We gotta go!” He beckoned, and Michael went to join him.

    “Bye! Keep in touch!”

    “I will!” Henry called back. “I’ll write, I’ll send postcards! I’ll send photos!” He kept waving until they were well down the path, and their shouts had faded behind with the sounds of the city.

    Michael and Henry joined the flow of foot traffic, on their way back to the hotel. They stopped at a street crossing, and Michael turned.

    “All right, let’s see it. Show me the badge.”

    Henry held out the Coal Badge, smiling for the millionth time that day. He slanted it to the light, watching the patterns twist and turn like the skin of Bronzor.

    “It’s awesome! And he gave me money too!” Henry patted his pocket. “I think it’s the same that you got. Fifteen dollars!”

    Michael shrugged in a what-can-I-say sort of way. “I told you, didn’t I? All you need is strategy!”

    “Yeah! And it’s all thanks to you!” Henry pushed Michael’s shoulder.

    “Well, you did the battling,” he said. He was surprised by how sheepish it sounded.

    “Yeah, but you showed me how! I thought I’d never ever ever ever get the badge before. But then I met you, and you told me exactly what I needed! You helped!”

    Michael looked at the boy’s face, radiant with light and excitement. Though he had been happy at the accomplishment of attaining his own badge, Henry’s win was different. Michael had planned and shared a strategy that worked, and seeing it in action gave him a thrill. More so, the feeling of having helped someone other than himself for once seemed to lift something within him.


    Right then, Michael found himself smiling.
    Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 9th July 2013 at 2:12 AM.

  21. #96
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    Wow! I was honestly expecting Henry to lose that battle. But the way you made him handle it really came off nicely. Although I wonder about Michael, the way he encouraged Machop to be so vicious makes me wonder if he'll ever get in trouble because of it.

    Also I have a question about the article in the beginning, when it says trainers cannot physically assist pokemon, does that mean they cannot use items? Or that they cannot actually participate in the battle themselves?

    Anyways, great job! I can't wait for chapter 1.1

    Alpha Sapphire --> Arceus is the Alpha pokemon --> Arceus is a generation 4 pokemon --> Sinnoh confirmed!!

    (Yeah, get used to it now, because this is what you're going to have to put up with for the next 5-7 years)

  22. #97
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    What I was getting at with the Machop was that it has a very shy, innocent personality, but once it gets mad, it goes all out. This will show in future battles, and as Michael trains it to be a better battler. But for now, Michael decides to utilize its anger issues. It wasn't meant to be a pokemon-abuse sort of thing. We have enough of those already. xp

    And physical assistance would be categorized as literally helping your pokemon to its feet instead of letting it get up by itself, since that may avoid the five-second-faint rule. Potions and medication don't count.

    Glad you liked the chapter, rusaemfrlg


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  23. #98
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    I saw in your signature "The story of Professor Rowan" and decided to check it out.

    Rowan is a main character in the little fanfic I write (which looks bad compared to yours) so I thought it would be funny to see how our interpretations of him were different.

    And they are. Completely. I just read the whole thing at once, and it shocked me! I really love the friendship between Henry and Michael that you have going, and will definitely be sticking around for more!

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    Wow, you're writing a fic with Rowan too? Who would have guessed? xD I'll have to read it sometime, because, you know, I like contrasting ideas.

    Anyways, thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you liked the story, and I hope you'll find the upcoming chapters to be just as enjoyable. I always appreciate comments, but if you just want to follow along quietly, feel free to do that too.


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  25. #100
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    And so, it's the long awaited gym battle! :D

    I can say that no, I didn't mind you putting both Michael and Henry's gym battles into the same chapter as they were both a good length and enjoyable to read.

    That article at the beginning of the chapter explaining battle procedures and etiquette was an enjoyable read on it's own and a very good way to start out a gym battle chapter, and I can imagine it took a while to come up with.

    I liked how Michael's gym battle had a bit of comic relief in it, between Machop's outrage and Michael ordering Goldeen to hurt itself. It's funny, serious, and makes an alltogether good gym battle that seems like exactly the type of gym battle someone with Michael's personality would have.

    Henry's gym battle really was a good redemption match, in a way he did better than Michael, using only two Pokemon whereas Michael used three. It was also nice how everyone was there to cheer him one. Like Michael, Henry's gym battle fit his personality and it was fun to see how the two battles varied.

    Keep up the good work and happy holidays! (Hey, this is this fic's 100th post!)

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