“Are we there yet?”
Cece rolled her eyes, kicking Kent lightly in the shin. “Kent, we literally just started. We’re walking to Olivine. It’s going to be a while.”
Kent sighed. They had been walking for a few hours now, moving at a speed Kent considered to be a slow crawl. Both Seth and Cece insisted that this was the ideal speed - just fast enough to make progress, but not fast enough to wear you out. They had a rhythm to their walk, using as little energy as possible. Kent on the other hand, blew through energy like some kind of guided missile. But he had a lot more to spare.
Cece cut him off. “How about this. Instead of you continuing meaningless small talk, I drill you on battle techniques.”
“Uh, ok. Yeah! Just try me. I’ve been watching the League on TV for years!”
“Alright,” Cece said, grinning. She reached back and undid her hair as she did so, binding it up into a coal black pony tail for the hundredth time since their journey had started. “How do you win a League match?”
“By forcing a trainer to surrender, knocking out all his pokemon, or knocking the trainer himself unconscious.”
“Fair enough. Suppose Victor has one of his pokemon go underground during your fight. What do you do?”
“I have Snickers attack him directly,” Kent said. “Take him out before his pokemon resurfaces.”
“But then you leave yourself wide open to attack,” Cece said. “What if his pokemon is faster than Snickers?”
Kent shrugged. “We’ll work on speed. The best defense is a good offense.”
“Never deal in absolutes,” Seth cut in, shaking his head. “You’ll never win battles that way. Never bet your entire strategy on one move, or else you’ll lose.”
Seth held up a hand. “I know, you’ve seen it happen sometimes. And that’s because it’s spectacular when they do succeed. But whenever you see a trainer lose, you can bet it’s because they relied too heavily on a single attack.”
“Yeah but if you have a really good idea...”
“Really good ideas are really just a series of pretty good ideas,” Seth said. “Good strategies rely on planning, training, and set up.”
“That’s why Seth never uses Hyper Beam,” Cece said, smiling slightly to herself. “He hates it when all trainers do is spam their strongest moves.”
“Last year,” Seth said, “at Cessily’s gym, I saw all these trainers lose. They weren’t thinking. They were all trying for that one hit that would win them the match.”
Cece rolled her eyes and groaned good-naturedly.
“But I was smart,” Seth said, ignoring Cece. “I planned ahead.”
“And it only cost the gym a few thousand dollars to fix, right?” Cece asked.
“What did you do?” Kent asked, looking up at Seth with a new found respect.
“Actually, don’t tell him. I’d rather not give him any ideas,” Cece said, looking at Kent worriedly.
“There’s a rule against it now,” Seth said, shrugging. “I almost got expelled from the League, but Cessily vouched for me.”
“What did you do?!
A few hours later, they had still refused to tell him. And on top of that, it was raining.
Kent practically flew across the path, breathing heavily. Cece and Seth followed not far behind, working hard to keep up with the younger, more energetic trainer. But Kent was slowing. Getting tired. They had to find shelter soon, before this storm got any worse...
A bolt of lightning struck a tree not twenty feet away from him, and the subsequent thunder nearly threw Kent off his feet. As it was, he stumbled, hitting his knee against the dirt path and diving face first into a puddle of mud.
“Kent, are you ok? God, please be ok, please be ok...” Cece shouted, running up to Kent and turning him over.
“I’m fine, dammit. I just swallowed some mud. Give me a second.”
“We might not have a second,” Seth said quickly, yanking Kent to his feet. “I see a house up ahead. That will give us a little shelter.”
“What if nobody’s home?” Keith asked, gritting his teeth as he stood,
“Then we’ll just sit on the porch. At least it will be dry.”
With a lot of help from Cece, Kent managed to make it up to the porch. Seth was looking at a plaque, smiling.
“We got really lucky,” He said, pointing towards the plaque. “Foreclosure. The League turned it into a rest house until somebody picks it up.”
Cece pumped her fist, and pushed open the door. It swung open with a single creak, and Kent was surprised to see that the house was actually in decent repair. There was no furniture or light, but it was clean, and a welcome relief from standing around in the rain. He lowered himself to the floor and looked around. “What is this place?”
Cece spoke up from where she was wringing her hair out over the sink. The kitchen was visible from the room where Kent was sitting, and she was soaking wet, not to mention muddy. “It’s a rest house,” she said. “When people can’t afford to pay for their house, the government takes it back. If it’s located on trails that trainers walk a lot, they lend it to the League to be used as a rest home for trainers. There’s no furniture, electricity, or even running water, but it’s a good place to sleep.”
“There are some cots upstairs,” Seth said, poking his head out from around the corner of the stairway. “Somebody must’ve left them here for anyone coming by.”
“Oh, somebody did.”
Kent turned around.
There was a creepy man standing in the doorway to what Kent presumed to be the bathroom, a huge smile on his face. He was unshaven, gaunt, and most of all, incredibly bad smelling.
“Hello?” Kent asked. “I thought there was no running water. How come you’re in the bathroom?”
“Kent...” Seth said from where he was frozen on the stairs. “Kent, get outside. Right now.”
“Get outside!” Seth snapped, his eyes wild. “Right now!”
Kent stared at the older boy. “I...what’s going on...”
He grunted as Cece grabbed his arm from behind and roughly hauled him to his feet. “Kent, we need to get out-”
“Uh-uh-uh...” The man said, still smiling. His teeth were yellow, some of them falling out. “Nobody’s going anywhere...especially not the pretty girly.”
Kent’s eyes widened.
You mean people who want to steal my pokemon?
Oh, they’ll steal a lot more than that...
“Kent, move...” Cece whispered, trying to shove him towards the front door.
“What did I say?!” The man snarled, reaching into one of his coat’s pockets. “Nobody. Is going. Anywhere.” He pulled a gun, an old style, six shot revolver, out of his pocket and trained it on Kent.
Kent felt something warm trickle down his leg. “Ar-Aren’t you supposed t-to use p-p-pokemon or something?”
The man pulled the hammer back with his thumb. “Grow up kid. Pokemon are for trainers. Now throw your packs over towards me and get out,” he said, eyes narrowing. “Leave the pretty girly.”
Behind him, Kent felt Cece shiver. Seth was still frozen on the stairs, his face white.
“Three...two...one...” The man’s finger tightened on the trigger.
Something big burst through the wall behind the man and knocked him across the room. His gun went off, flying harmlessly into the ceiling, and Kent let out a shout as he fell backwards onto Cece.
A fully grown Tyranitar, nearly seven feet tall, slammed the man against a wall, pinning him by the throat. Two figures walked through the new hole in the doorway, soaking wet and looking incredibly smug.
One of them was a guy, much older and taller than Kent. He was about six feet, with dark hair that had been pressed against his face due to the rain and obscured his eyes. Kent wondered idly how he was able to see. He wore a dark jacket and sweat pants, and held an ultra ball in his hand. He was smirking, and Kent had the sudden desire to beat his face in, despite the fact his life had just been saved.
The second one was a girl, noticeably shorter and younger than the boy. She wore a light green shirt that clung tightly to her frame, and jeans a few sizes too small. Long blonde hair hung from under a large floppy sunhat, and a Ralts gripped the back of her leg, peeking out shyly from behind it’s master.
“I suppose that would be zero,” the guy said, walking up next to the Tyranitar. “I’m Noah.”
“Now that,” Seth said, still staring, "is an entrance.”
“I took classes,” Noah said, brushing his hair out his eyes and looking back at Seth. “Sorry we took so long. It wasn’t just so I could look awesome.”
“I suppose that would be zero...” the girl muttered, looking off into space. “I’m so going to use that...”
“How did you know we were in trouble?” Seth asked, walking over towards Kent and Cece and helping them up. “I didn’t think anyone would be able to hear us over the storm.”
“Jasmine. She’s Faith’s Ralts,” Noah said, waving his hand in the girls direction. Faith refuses to put her in a pokeball, even during a thunderstorm. Good thing, I guess. It was able to sense this guy here and warn us. Rots here did the rest.”
“Uh, excuse me for butting in,” Kent said over a clap of thunder, “but who the hell is that guy?”
“He’s a sitter,” Noah said, turning towards Kent. “Less...savory people will hang out in Rest Homes and wait for trainers to come by. They’ll rob them, or kill them, the like.”
“Well what do they do about it?” Kent protested. “How many people die?”
Noah shrugged. “Not too many. And the League has cameras, but after you’ve sat at a couple houses you get a feel for how to avoid them. The League caught this guy here on camera a few days ago and sent me to investigate.”
“Why you?” Kent asked. “The League makes trainers do stuff like this?”
Noah shook his head. “I’m not a trainer.”
“He’s a gym leader in training,” Faith cut in, now holding her Ralts in her arms. She sniffed the air idly. “Does anyone else smell pee?”
“No,” Kent said quickly. “What do gym leaders in training do exactly?”
“We prove we’re ready for the responsibility of a gym,” Noah said. “Usually by travelling around and helping out trainers, or doing odd jobs for the League. Sometimes we sub for actual leaders if they’re sick.”
“Well, it’s a good thing you were here,” Cece said, rubbing her shoulders. “Can we go upstairs? It’s really cold down here now.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah...I guess I did kinda knock down a wall...” Noah said, frowning. “Whatever. The League will pay for it. You guys go on up. I’ll deal with this guy.”
Kent nodded, and began walking up the stairs, flanked by Seth, Cece, and Faith. They were all pretty wet by now, but Kent was just happy to be...alive.
It scared him, to think about it. If the man had pulled that trigger just a second sooner...or Noah and Faith hadn’t come to save them....
I never thought it would be like this,
Kent admitted to himself. Finding killers and rapists on abandon homes in the middle of a thunderstorm. I thought it would be...I dunno. More fun.
“So are you guys ok? He didn’t hurt you or anything right?” Faith asked when they reached the top of the stairs.
“No...no, he didn’t,” Cece said, sitting down against a wall. “It was just...stressful.”
“I can imagine,” Faith said, sitting down next to her. “I’m sure it would’ve happened to me by now, if it weren’t for Noah.”
“Right. Noah. So are you and him....” Cece asked, evidently looking for a return to a normal conversation.
Faith giggled. “Me and Noah? He’s sweet, but he’s a bit old for me. Dont’cha think?”
Cece smiled slightly. “Maybe. What’s the deal with you two then?”
“We met a few months ago,” Faith admitted. “I’m technically a trainer in the League...but that’s really only a cover.”
Seth arched an eyebrow. “What, are you a spy or something?”
“No, don’t be silly,” Faith said, laughing. “Nothing so exciting. I’m an author. Or at least, I want to be. I started training to get an insiders look at the League, and started travelling with Noah because he seems to attract adventure.”
“It isn’t every day you rescue a group of trainers with a Tyranitar,” Seth admitted, smiling.
While they were talking, Kent took out Snicker’s pokeball and turned it over in his hands. After a moment of debate, he opened the ball, and Snickers emerged with a burst of light.
“Sup Snickers?” Kent said, digging another Snickers bar out of his pack. He unwrapped it and broke it in two, offering one half to the pokemon. Snickers happily took the candy bar and began eating it.
“Oh, that is too cute!” Faith said, looking at Snickers. “A Buizel! Where’d you get it?”
“It’s my starter,” Kent said, looking up.
Faith paused, looking at him curiously. “Is...is he serious?”
Seth and Cece both nodded.
“You’re a trainer?” Faith asked in disbelief. “I thought you were her little brother or something!”
“Are you kidding? We don’t look anything alike,” Kent said. “We’ve got different hair colors and eye colors and everything.”
“Well, her eyes looked brown downstairs,” Faith said. “And just because you have different colored hair doesn’t mean you’re not siblings. I mean-”
She was interrupted by Noah coming up the stairs. “The guy’s taken care of,” he said nonchalantly, slumping down to the floor, “and I’m exhausted. We can catch up in the morning.”
Seth nodded. “We’re-”
“In. The. Morning.”
AN: Bah. Didn't like this chapter all that much. Maybe it's just the writers block talking, but it seemed so much harder to write.