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Thread: The Will to Go On

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    Default The Will to Go On

    A story already published by me on the NSM forums; it's not that great but I would like to hear some Pokefans' opinions. xD

    It's not so much a fanfic as just telling my own kind of view on what the young lives were like of Will, Karen, and Aaron, of the Johto and SInnoh elite fours respectively.

    I tried to keep perfect grammar, at the very least. Please read and comment. (But allow me a few posts so I can get the whole story in one place)

    [hr]
    Prologue

    Will woke with a start. Glancing around frantically, he leapt out of bed and ran as fast as he could down the hall, stumbling as he went. He paused outside his parents’ bedroom, panting heavily. Without hesitating, he knocked on their door and threw it open. He ran inside and shook his heavily snoring father.

    “Dad!” he whimpered. “Daddy…wake up…”

    His father’s eyelids fluttered slightly.

    “W-Will?” he said sleepily. He looked at his bedside clock. “It’s three o’clock in the morning,” he yawned. Will’s father turned on the light and sat up, rubbing his eyes.

    “Daddy,” whispered six-year-old Will, “I had a nightmare again.”

    “Again?” said his father wearily.

    Will nodded shakily.

    “All right,” said his father resignedly. “Tell me about it.”

    Will recounted the dream.

    “…and then the phone rang… it was the hospital… and they said that Mommy had…Mommy had…died.”

    His father sat up quickly.

    “WHAT?” his father shouted, causing poor Will to jump horribly. “They said… she had…? Are you ABSOLUTELY SURE that’s what they said, Will?”

    Will simply stood there, his lip trembling.

    “ARE YOU SURE THAT YOU DIDN’T MISHEAR?” roared his father, almost angrily.

    Will began sobbing, softly at first, then giving off violent, shuddering wails, tears simply pouring down his face.

    “Y-YES!” howled Will, then buried his face in his hands, still crying miserably. Will’s father felt a lump form in his throat. His eyes welled up. Within a moment they were both weeping, but Will’s father silently.

    After a while, Will’s father lifted his son onto the bed and hugged him. He wiped his eyes before speaking.

    “I apologize, Will,” said his father gently. “I know it’s – it’s not your fault.”

    Will hiccupped and gradually stopped bawling.

    “I’m sorry, Daddy,” whispered Will miserably.

    “Don’t be,” insisted his father comfortingly. “It’s really not your fault.”

    His son flashed a brief, weak, watery smile.

    They sat there side by side for some time, Will’s father looking at the ceiling, Will himself huddled up, hugging his knees.

    Just as the clock struck seven-thirty, the telephone rang.

    Tearing up again, Will’s father took a deep breath and picked up the phone.
    [hr]
    Chapter One – Will

    Will had always had the gift – or, possibly, curse - of Sight. On a hot summer day, one-year-old Will looked up at the cloudless, sunny sky and spoke his first word – “rain”.

    His parents looked quizzically at each other, but shrugged it off to congratulate Will on talking. Before ten minutes were over, gray clouds began to move in. In under fifteen, thunder could be heard in rumbling in the distance. Within twenty, buckets of water were being dumped unceremoniously on their heads, and they had hurried inside. Listening to the steady pounding of the rain, Will’s parents had gazed upon the odd little wonder they had been given, and Will slept on…

    If his parents had thought that a coincidence, all skepticism was wiped clean from their minds in the next few years. Will seemed to know things others didn’t. He was particularly fond of knowing the weather – that was one area he never failed in. His parents always asked him the weather before they planned anything, and he always came through for them. He was extremely happy in his home in Eterna City.

    Around the age of three, Will began to have strange dreams often, at least once a week, none of which failed to come true. He dreamt that their neighbor’s Skitty was run over. It happened the next day. One year he dreamt all of his Christmas presents accidentally – but he still acted surprised, so as not to make his parents upset. The strange thing was that no one could really figure out whether the dreams caused the future or simply saw what would happen. Will didn’t know himself.

    Either way, around Will’s fifth birthday, he had a nightmare that his mother had fallen deathly sick.

    She did.

    She would spend the next year and a half in a hospital.

    At the end of that year and a half, the other members of her family would receive a phone call.

    Will took this loss extremely hard. He was very close to his mother, being an only child. His nightmares came far more frequently after that, sometimes on a nightly basis.

    Soon after his mother’s death, Will’s father decided to move with his son to a small town in the Johto called New Bark. Perhaps he was thinking that some fresh air, maybe some friends would get Will out of his slump. I really don’t know. If that is what he was thinking, though, he was absolutely right – Will quickly became far healthier than he ever had been. He also made two friends, who would become the best friends he ever had…for some time, at least… His best friends were named Karen and Aaron, both of whom lived in New Bark Town.

    Will and his father lived peacefully in New Bark Town for seven years. Will was anxiously awaiting his fourteenth birthday so he could start his Pokémon journey.

    For those of you wondering, rules were quite different back when Will was starting out. Pokémon were considered highly dangerous creatures, and it was the law that one needed to be at least fourteen to handle them. This was utter nonsense, of course, and Professor Birch of Hoenn led a campaign to change the rules during Will’s sixteenth year. He succeeded, as you probably have figured out, and while Professor Birch was not exactly the most…orthodox…of professors, he is remembered and respected for this even today.

    Will would have the happiest, and also saddest, time of his life when he set out to train his own Pokémon.

    And our story begins there…



    “Will!”

    “Can’t hear you…” mumbled Will.

    “WILL!”

    “Five more minutes…” muttered Will.

    “WILL! GET UP!”

    Will jerked awake.

    “Coming, Dad!” he yelled, leaping out of his bed and making it hastily. He threw some clothes on and collected his backpack. This was it…Today was the day…

    “WILL!” shouted his father. “YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO BE AT THE LAB!”

    Will bolted down the steps in a frenzy.

    “I know, Dad!” he yelled. “I have time!”

    “FOUR minutes!” corrected his father urgently.

    Will smiled and met his father at the door. They hugged awkwardly.

    “Stay safe,” said his father gruffly. He was smiling, but his eyes told Will that he was serious.

    Will nodded.

    “Three minutes!” said his father, glancing at the clock.

    “Right!” said Will, and ran out the door toward Professor Elm’s Laboratory. He rushed inside just as the clock struck eight.

    Will grinned sheepishly at the sight that awaited him. Aaron, his green mess of hair shining loudly, was sitting in an armchair, bent forward in an anxious position. He looked up, saw Will, and smiled in a friendly way. Karen was standing up. Her arms were folded and she did not look happy.

    “Well, Professor Elm,” she said sardonically, “I think that everyone’s here now.”

    “I wasn’t late!” said Will defensively. “I was just… on time.”

    “Yes, well, the other group has already picked their Pokémon, and we said we’d wait for you,” snarled Karen. “So we don’t get the starter Pokémon we were counting on.”

    Will stared guiltily at Aaron, his heart sinking.

    “We don’t get Pokémon?” he asked, dreading the answer.

    “Of course you get Pokémon!” said Professor Elm scornfully. “Do you really think I would call you here without a backup plan?”

    Will looked at Professor Elm. Actually, that was exactly the type of thing absentminded Professor Elm would do.

    “Well, I do have a backup plan. I’ve received three Pokémon recently whose evolutions are currently unknown. We need you three to train each to train one on a Pokémon journey, and immediately notify us of their evolutions.”

    “So… we only get to train one?” said Karen, horrified.

    “Of course not!” laughed Professor Elm. “You can train as many as you like. But I do have a suggestion.”

    “A…suggestion?” said Will cautiously.

    “Yes,” said Elm, looking serious. “Now, as you know, the Pokémon regions are setting up something called the Pokémon Gym Challenge.”

    The trio nodded, puzzled.

    “Gym leaders train one specific type of Pokémon,” said Elm, pacing back and forth. “And we have all the applicants. But the regions are…shall we say, taking it a step further. They’re forming something called the Pokémon League, where one fights four strong trainers and then, should they succeed, the regional Champion.” Elm turned to face the teenagers. “As of now, our region has no applicants for the Elite Four. I suggest that you each train a separate type of Pokémon…”

    “…And register to be in the Elite Four?!” said Will incredulously.

    Elm’s face fell.

    “Yes, I’d assumed you wouldn’t want…” he began, but Aaron cut him off.

    “That would be frickin’ SWEET!” said Aaron enthusiastically.

    Elm blinked.

    “That would be really cool,” said Karen, forgetting her anger in the excitement of the moment. “Wouldn’t it, Will?”

    Will looked over at Karen. Her eyes were shining excitedly and she was looking at him apprehensively.

    “That would be amazingly cool,” agreed Will.

    “I’m glad you’re so eager,” said Elm happily. “Alright, let’s get you three your first Pokémon!”
    [hr]
    Chapter Two – Will He Choose the Right One?

    “Wow…” whispered Will, looking at the choices. There were three PokéBalls sitting in a large display case. He suddenly frowned. A nasty thought had just occurred to him. He turned to Professor Elm. “What if I pick the wrong one?” he said uneasily.

    Elm laughed.

    “You’re supposed to be psychic, Will! I think you know which one you should take.”

    “You mean that there’s a Psychic-type Pokémon in here?” said Will, astonished.

    “Of course!” said Elm impatiently. “I know about your…background. How could I ask you to collect a certain type and not expect it to be Psychic?”

    Will smiled, closed his eyes, and put his hand over the PokéBall farthest to the right. He didn’t need to think about it. He knew it would be the right choice.

    “Well, send it out!” said Elm encouragingly.

    “Here goes,” said Will, suddenly so excited that it hurt. “Go!” he shouted, throwing the PokéBall into the air. A small, humanlike Pokémon came out. It had a cute, pink little face with big, round eyes and a pair of pink lips. It had what appeared to be a small mop of blonde hair.

    “It’s so cute!” said Will enthusiastically. He frowned again and turned to Elm. “Uh…what is it?”

    “Oh, right!” said Elm, smacking himself. “I almost forgot – I haven’t given you three your PokéDexes yet!” He ran from the room and returned a second later with three large electronic Pokémon encyclopedias – to the average Pokémon Trainer, a PokéDex.

    Will, Karen, and Aaron accepted their PokéDex one by one. Will started his up and flipped to his Pokémon’s picture. The PokéDex entry read:

    “Smoochum, the Kiss Pokémon. Its lips are the most sensitive parts on its body. It always uses its lips first to examine things.”

    “Smoochum is an Ice- and Psychic-type Pokémon, Will,” said Elm.

    “Awesome!” said Will happily. “I did pick the right one! Hey! What’s so funny?” he demanded; Karen was stifling a fit of the giggles and Aaron was actually rolling around on the floor chortling.

    “Kiss Pokémon?” choked Karen, eyes watering from laughter.

    Will went very red.

    “Let’s see yours, then!” he demanded.

    “Alright,” said Karen, managing to stop laughing. She walked over to the display case and picked up her own PokéBall. She sent out a black dog-esque Pokémon with a bit of armor on its back. She fired up her own PokéDex and checked the entry.

    “Houndour, the Dark Pokémon. It uses different kinds of cries for communicating with others of its kind and for pursuing its prey.”

    “Houndour is a Dark- and Fire-type Pokémon,” explained Elm.

    “Wait…” said Karen slowly. “Dark and Fire? So… which type do I train?”

    Elm shrugged. “That’s completely up to you, my dear.”

    Karen growled rather like a Houndour and stepped out of the way of Aaron as he came up to the display case. She sat quite huffily down on an armchair and Houndour immediately attempted to jump on her lap. She shoved Houndour off in disgust and went to stand next to Will. Houdour followed her loyally.

    “Guess that leaves me with this Pokémon,” said Aaron brightly. He picked it up and sent out a large dragonfly with large green eyes that somehow covered its whole head.

    Karen and Will both took an involuntary step back.

    “I – don’t – like – insects…” said Will disgustedly.

    “Me neither,” said Karen, shuddering.

    “I do!” said Aaron happily. Aaron whipped out his PokéDex in a cool way that Will somehow knew he wouldn’t be able to pull off. He flipped to the page of his Pokémon, which was now buzzing around the room at lightning speed.

    “Yanma, the Clear Wing Pokémon. Its large eyes can scan 360 degrees. It looks in all directions to seek out insects as its prey.”

    “I LOVE Bug Pokémon!” said Aaron, extremely psyched.

    “Did I SAY it was a Bug Pokémon?” said Professor Elm, rather offended.

    “Umm… no,” Aaron said sheepishly. “Is it?”

    “Well…yes,” admitted Elm. “A Bug- and Flying-type. But…” he said, and his face got very spooky, “…DON’T interrupt me again,” he hissed.

    “G-got it,” said Aaron. “Uh…sir, yes, sir!”

    “Well,” said Elm, looking at all of them, “you should head west, toward Cherrygrove City. From there, you can easily get to Violet, where the first gym is.

    “Keep in mind that you can keep one Pokémon out walking with you,” he advised. “It will have its benefits, believe me.”

    He smiled good-naturedly at them all. “See you later.”

    Karen’s Houndour led the way out towards Route 29, followed by Will, then Aaron last of all, who was talking to Will.

    “So…Kiss Pokémon? Really?” Aaron taunted.

    Unfortunately, Smoochum heard him. Smoochum blasted him with an icy cold Powder Snow, knocking him to the ground. She stuck her tongue out as she passed him.
    [hr]
    Chapter Three
    Will He Catch a Pokémon First?

    So that’s how Will, Karen, and Aaron (wow, accidental rhyme!) set out on their epic journey across…Route 29.

    “How much longer do we have?” groaned Aaron, still bringing up the rear.

    “Oh, is the little baby tired?” Karen said sarcastically. Smoochum let out a distinctive giggle. Karen smiled at her. She looked at her own Pokémon and grimaced. Why couldn’t she have gotten something cute?

    “Come on, Smoochum,” called Will. Smoochum toddled ahead to catch up.

    Karen sighed. Her Houndour was now walking a tad in front of her. She glared at it.

    “No,” snapped Karen. “I’m in front. Me. Not you.”

    Houndour gave her an adoring look and let her pass, which somehow made Karen even angrier.

    “Oh, come on, Karen, lighten up!” said Will pleadingly.

    Karen turned her head away.

    Will looked at Smoochum and shrugged in an “I tried” sort of way.

    “So, who’s going to catch their first Pokémon?” said Aaron, breaking the silence.

    “Me,” said Karen without hesitation.

    “Oh, really?” said Will skeptically. “And what type are you going to train?”

    “Fire,” said Karen. “I think they match my fiery passion.”

    “Or fiery temper,” suggested Aaron, earning a glare.

    Suddenly, out of the bush in front of them came a small scorpion-like Pokémon.

    “That is so cool!” said Aaron. “I bet it’s a Bug-type!”

    “Aren’t you going to check?” said Karen suspiciously.

    “Nah, I can go with my natural instinct,” said Aaron, nonchalantly reading the PokéDex protruding from his pocket.

    “Skorupi, the Scorpion Pokémon. It burrows under the sand to lie in wait for prey. Its tail claws can inject its prey with a savage poison. Type: Poison/Bug.”

    “Sweet, it IS a Bug-type!” said Aaron. “Go, Yanma!” Yanma flew towards the frightened Skorupi. “Use Tackle!”

    Yanma flew towards Skorupi in a weak Tackle. Skorupi nevertheless took some damage.

    Skorupi let out a freaky, hissing cry and shot out a poison barb at Yanma.

    Aaron gasped. “Why, you little -”

    “Freak?” suggested Karen.

    “Danger to society?” said Will worriedly.

    “- beauty!” gushed Aaron.

    “And he’s making fun of me for having a Kiss Pokémon,” Will muttered to Karen. She smiled reluctantly.

    Aaron shouted, “Here…I…GO!”

    At the word “GO”, he threw a PokéBall at the Skorupi… well, it was meant for Skorupi. It ended up cracking Karen’s skull.

    “EEEEEEYAAH!” shouted Karen in pain, massaging her head. “That… really… HUUUUUURT!” She turned toward Aaron with a look that would have frightened the Grim Reaper. “The PokéBall is supposed to go towards the POKÉMON, you frickin’ IDIOT!”

    Aaron recoiled slightly.

    “Umm… yeah. S-sorry about that, Kare. Won’t happen again.”

    “QUIT CALLING ME KARE!” shrieked Karen. She flopped down on the ground to sit cross-legged frustratedly. Houndour bounded up to her happily and jumped onto her lap.

    “THIS IS NOT THE TIME!” she screamed. Houndour recognized the signs and climbed carefully off her.

    “I caught it!” cried Aaron joyously. “Look, Kare! I caught a Pokémon first!”

    This did not improve Karen’s mood.

    “I wanna catch a Psychic Pokémon,” announced Will.

    “EEEK!” shouted Karen.

    “Will you please stop screaming?” said Will irritably, pointing to his ears.

    Karen opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She pointed behind him.

    Will turned around to find himself looking straight into the eyes of a Pokémon. He leapt back, caught off guard. “Whoa… what is that?” He pulled out his PokéDex (We’re going to like these things, he thought) and looked up a yellow Pokémon with a white ring of fur around its neck and a pendulum in hand.

    “Hypno, the Hypnosis Pokémon. Always holding a pendulum that it swings at a steady rhythm, it causes drowsiness in anyone nearby. Type: Psychic.”

    “Don’t look at it!” commanded Karen. She looked at Hypno’s seductively swaying pendulum as if it were dangerous. “You’ll get hypno…” She blinked, her eyes following the subtle movements of the pendulum. “You’ll get hyp -” she began again, but was cut off by a large yawn. “You’ll get…hypn…” her eyelids drooped, but from what Will could see of her pupils, she was still watching the pendulum. “You’ll…get…” she mumbled, and her knees began to buckle. Aaron caught her in his arms triumphantly just as she fell and laid her down on the ground, where she fell asleep.

    Will rolled his eyes.

    “Dude, you have to catch that thing now!” said Aaron happily.

    “And…why?” Will inquired suspiciously.

    “Now we can get her to sleep whenever we want!” said Aaron enthusiastically.

    Will’s eyebrows met his hairline.

    “We can WHAT?!” he cried.

    Aaron went bright red and covered his mouth.

    “Oh, God… not like that, dude…” he said quickly. “I meant it would be useful if she keeps screaming like she has been doing… to shut her up…”

    Will nodded, his eyebrows still way up.

    “Sure, Aaron…” he said. “Oooookay, then.”

    He turned back to the Hypno, while keeping his eyes distinctly off the pendulum. “Go, Smoochum!” he shouted. Smoochum toddled forward importantly. “Use Sweet Kiss!” (He heard Aaron s****** in the background.)

    The Hypno staggered around, confused and unable to attack.

    “Now, Smoochum!” shouted Will. “Powder Snow!”

    Smoochum, having practiced this on Aaron, was excellent in freezing the Hypno solid. Will wasted no time in using a PokéBall. It was more than successful, and Will caught his first Pokémon.

    “Okay, it’s…seven o’clock,” said Will, checking his watch, “and it’s starting to get dark… We need to get to Cherrygrove City.” He looked at Houndour, who was sniffing at Karen. She was still slumbering. He sighed. “What should we do about her?”

    “I can carry her,” said Aaron all-too-innocently.

    Will looked at him suspiciously.

    “I don’t think so,” he said. “Just wake her up.”

    “Karen,” said Aaron, prodding her arm. “Kaaaaren…” He sighed. “Kare, get up!”

    Karen’s eyelids fluttered weakly.

    “Don’t call me Kare…” she mumbled.

    “Wake up, Karen,” said Will. “We need to reach Cherrygrove City.”

    “All right,” she grumped. She stretched hugely and yawned, but obliged in getting up and trudging alongside Aaron and Will towards Cherrygrove City.

    “Hey, Kare!” said Aaron happily (Karen growled). “Guess what – Will caught that Hypno!”

    Karen groaned.

    “Do you two hate me or something?” she moaned miserably.

    “’Course not,” insisted Aaron seriously. “If we did, we wouldn’t be nearly so mean.”

    Will laughed and even Karen gave a grudging smile, and they continued toward the bright lights of Cherrygrove.
    [hr]
    Chapter Four
    Karen Loses Her Will

    They arrived in the city, yawning and slumping. High above them, a black bird Pokémon watched Karen closely. They walked a few blocks to the Pokémon Center and entered happily. They noticed that there was a bit of a line to heal their Pokémon, so they decided to sit down for a moment.

    They each took a chair and sat in silence for a while.

    “So,” said Aaron. “What should our next move be?”

    “Definitely head towards Violet City,” said Karen. “The first gym is there.”

    “Yeah,” agreed Will. “But we should probably wait till morning.”

    “But then the other group might beat us there,” pointed out Aaron anxiously. “Hey, does anyone know who the other group is?”

    “The other group of what?” inquired a voice behind them. They turned their heads to see three people listening in on their conversation.

    The one who had spoken was a guy with shoulder-length purple hair, rather the color of Will’s own. Next to him was another guy, this one with plain, black hair. And next to him was a beautiful tall blonde girl clad entirely in black.

    Will watched Aaron size up the first guy, and scrutinize the second. Will rolled his eyes – he knew what was coming next. Aaron took one look at the blonde girl and his mouth fell open. Aaron took in her appearance and Will could practically see any thoughts of Karen pop out of existence.

    Aaron sidled past the guys rather like an insect and approached the girl. “Hello,” he said, working his mouth into what he clearly thought was a winning smile. “I’m Aaron.”

    The girl looked at him in disgust.

    “Fantastic,” she said sarcastically, and pushed him away.

    Aaron looked shocked. Will sighed, got up, and dragged Aaron back to his chair.

    “The other group of what?” asked the purple-haired boy again.

    “The other group of trainers aspiring to join the Elite Four,” explained Aaron, his eyes still on the blonde girl’s flawless body.

    The purple-haired boy laughed rudely.

    “I don’t think that we’re the other group,” he said, rolling his eyes. “I was told our rivals had potential.”

    Aaron went bright red.

    “Do you really want to say that?” he growled.

    The boy shrugged.

    “It doesn’t matter, really. You’ll be horrible whether I say it or not.”

    “Lucian, stop,” said the plain-looking kid, frowning.

    Aaron s******ed.

    “You’re name’s Lucian?” he laughed.

    Lucian didn’t look fazed in the least.

    “Yes,” he answered. He looked at the rest of Aaron’s group. “This is Norman,” he said, gesturing to the plain boy, “and this is Cynthia.”

    Aaron smiled at Cynthia again.

    “Wow,” he said hopefully. “That’s a nice name.”

    Karen rolled her eyes.

    “Can you spell desperate?” she muttered.

    “Now we’re at a disadvantage,” said Lucian. He looked at Smoochum, who was in the chair and cuddling up to Will. “Er… so to speak.”

    “In what way?” asked Karen.

    “You know our names, but we don’t know yours, of course,” said Lucian.

    “Sucks to be you, doesn’t it?” grouched Aaron, still angry.

    “No, not at all,” said Lucian, smiling at the very idea. “I would like to know, though. What’s your name, green-hair?”

    “Aaron,” muttered Aaron.

    Lucian gave a loud chortle.

    “The freaky bug-obsessed weirdo Aaron?” he snorted. “Wow. Elm is lowering his standards. And you would be…?” he asked, pointing to Karen.

    “Karen,” she said, an intense look of dislike on her face.

    “I’ve heard of you as well,” said Lucian, smiling. “You can’t be much of a threat. Maybe you’ll whine at me, but that’s the worst you can do.”

    Karen went bright red and stared at Lucian with a look of hatred.

    “And you would be…?” he asked, coming to Will at last.

    “Will,” he said reluctantly.

    “The only person on your team with a shred of potential,” snorted Lucian. “If that. But we must be going. We can’t afford to sit here and talk with losers all day. Norman! Cynthia! Come on.”

    Smoochum stuck her tongue out at him as he passed. Compared to that kid, she seemed to be saying, Aaron’s a treasure.

    “What a jerk,” Aaron said angrily. He sat down and folded his arms, clearly in a bad mood.

    “It’s okay,” Karen said. “He’s just another idiot amateur. We’ll get him.” Karen reached into her bag and pulled out an apple. “Here,” she said, handing one to Will and pulling out another for Aaron. “God,” she snapped at Aaron. “No need to look so angry.”

    “Who said I was angry?” said Aaron darkly as he squeezed his apple into a pulp.

    “No one did,” said Will cautiously. “But I think you should heal your Pokémon.”

    Will got up, took all of their PokéBalls to the counter, and handed them to the nurse. Shortly after getting them back, he dished out the PokéBalls to his friends.

    Will rubbed his forehead.

    “It’s already ten o’clock, guys,” he sighed. “We’d better stay here.”

    Aaron went up to the nurse and booked three rooms in the Pokémon Center. He bade Karen and Will an annoyed goodnight and walked off to his room.

    “Goodnight,” yawned Will, and shuffled to his own room.

    Karen went to her room shortly afterward, exhausted. She made to put her PokéBalls away – Huh? PokéBalls? With an s? Karen frowned. She only had one Pokémon. One of the boys must have given her his by mistake. She bit her lip, wondering which one it was. She threw the PokéBall in the air and out came…

    “Oh, crap,” she whispered. “No… no…”

    Will’s Hypno loomed over her and swung its pendulum right in front of her face. She gathered up the PokéBall and attempted to call it back, but she was too afraid to try.

    “No…” she whispered again, looking on with fear. The pendulum made a sound as it swung back and forth… Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Karen’s pulse seemed to slow down to align perfectly with it. Her eyes were pulled to the irresistible sway of the pendulum. Her eyelids drooped as the alluring Pokémon began to do its job. Her mind was suddenly filled with tempting ideas of sleep and relaxation. Suddenly, something snapped inside her, and she could resist no longer. Her eyes took on a glazed look and closed halfway; a small, dreamy half-smile formed on her face; and, completely hypnotized, she pocketed the PokéBall and followed the Hypno gradually out of the room.

    She followed it out of the Pokémon Center and entered into the silent night. The pendulum sparkled slightly as it swung, enticing Karen a few steps at a time. They went on like this for some time, and she finally followed it all the way to Cherrygrove’s beach. Hypno walked backwards into the lake and Karen pursued. High above them, the black bird Pokémon that was keeping tabs on Karen was panicking – if she continued to follow, she would drown.

    The bird Pokémon was struck by an idea, and it flew off to the city.



    Meanwhile, Will was having a nightmare. Karen was following something into a body of water, completely unaware of what she was doing… How could they help? She was going to drown! He was startled awake by a TAP-TAP-TAPping on his window. A small black bird Pokémon was trying to get his attention.

    He let it in, and it zoomed straight for the door, trying to get it open.

    “Do you know where Karen is?” Will yelped. “Is it too late?”

    The bird didn’t answer, but Will got the message. He woke Aaron up frantically and they set off down the streets, chasing the bird Pokémon. They arrived at the beach, and they saw Karen following Will’s Hypno into deep waters. She was already in up to her neck and she was approaching the middle of the lake, where there was a huge drop-off.

    Will wasted no time in diving into the waters and swimming a bit further in.

    “Come on!” he yelled to Aaron, who was panicking.

    “No!” said Aaron anxiously. “I could drown!”

    “YOU’RE helpful!” snarled Will, and swam as fast as he could toward the middle of the lake. Karen was completely oblivious as to where she was. Hypno was not in the water, but somehow standing on top of it. “KAREN!” he shouted as he got nearer to her. She didn’t hear him, or appeared not to. She took another step towards Hypno. Will finally reached them and seized Karen around the waist. He tried to drag her back towards him, but she fought to keep her eyes on Hypno. She took another step, pulling Will with her. Will started to panic as well. He couldn’t pull her; this was more suited for Aaron. He wasn’t strong enough.

    Karen tried to shake Will off, and his hands slid farther down. Hold on – there was something bulging in her pocket… the PokéBall! He thrust his hand into her pocket and extracted the PokéBall, calling Hypno back just in time.

    Karen looked extremely dazed and exhausted. She mumbled something incoherently and immediately fell asleep. Feeling triumphant, Will lifted her up – with much difficulty – and carried her back to shore. He reached the beach and Aaron – who had calmed down – looked extremely relieved.

    “I can take her from here,” he offered.

    Will glared at him, but reluctantly handed her over. They walked in silence for some time. The bird insisted on following. Just outside the Pokémon Center, Karen woke up. She looked around, puzzled, then looked up and saw Aaron’s face.

    “Good morning, sunshine,” said Aaron pleasantly.

    “EEW!” she shrieked. “Put me down, you perv! Put me DOWN!”

    Aaron shrugged, but dropped her. She got up, folded her arms, and glared at him.

    “And what was that all about?” she demanded.

    “You don’t remember any of it?” said Will incredulously.

    “Just tell me what this is all about. Now,” she said angrily.

    They entered the Pokémon center and sat around a table while Will explained what had happened.

    “And then, we saw you in the water and, uh…” he said, trailing off. He had just glanced at Aaron, who was behind Karen and pointing at himself frantically. “…and we saved you.”

    “We?” inquired Karen.

    “Well,” began Will, but Aaron cut him off.

    “And by that, he means that I dived heroically in the lake, reached you, and carried you back to shore,” said Aaron importantly.

    Karen raised one of her eyebrows as she looked from one boy to the next.

    “Really,” she said, clearly disbelieving. “Please explain why your clothes are completely dry, and Will and I are soaked from the neck down.”

    Aaron faltered.

    “And I’m supposed to believe you called Hypno back, too?” snorted Karen. “Nice. Real nice.”

    She looked over at Will, who was smiling weakly.

    She smiled wryly, leaned over the table, and kissed him – SMAK – on the cheek.

    A small grin broke out on Will’s face.

    “What, none for me?” said Aaron indignantly. “I carried you here!”

    “Whatever,” she said, shrugging, and leaned over to his cheek. However, he held up his hand.

    “Nope,” he refused. “None of that cheek crap. Right here,” he said, pointing to his mouth, clearly hoping to get Karen furious. Surprisingly, she shrugged again.

    “If that’s what you want,” she said. Aaron looked pleased as she leaned forward… he closed his eyes… and Karen grabbed Smoochum from the ground and shoved it against his face.

    Aaron opened his eyes and saw with disgust what was pressed to his lips.

    He tried to wrench Smoochum off, but it was stuck fast. A series of screaming noises from Aaron followed before Will stopped laughing long enough to call Smoochum back.

    Aaron glared at Karen, who was laughing behind her hand. Will suddenly noticed that the sun was rising and hurried them out to Route 30.

    “Do you think Smoochum needs some mouthwash?” he asked Karen just loud enough for Aaron to hear.

    “SHUT UP!” roared Aaron as his friends laughed.

    “Oh, come on, Aaron,” said Karen, putting her arm around his neck. “We’re only joking! Why can’t we just be one big happy family? Look, Will’s up for it!” she said, pulling Will over and putting her other arm around his neck.

    “We are a family,” said Aaron. “Big, happy…and dysfunctional.”

    Karen sighed.

    “Hey, Kare,” said Aaron suddenly. “It’s that bird Pokémon!”

    “The one who led you guys to me?” said Karen in surprise.

    “Yeah! Let’s find out what it is,” said Aaron, pulling out his PokéDex.

    “Murkrow, the Darkness Pokémon. Feared and loathed by many, it is believed to bring misfortune to all those who see it at night. Type: Dark/Flying.”

    “Didn’t bring misfortune to us,” said Will.

    “Hey, Kare!” said Aaron, struck by a sudden idea. “Why don’t you catch this and train Dark-types instead of Fire!”

    “Do Dark-types suit me?” asked Karen skeptically, looking at the Murkrow.

    “Oh, believe me, they suit you,” said Aaron.

    “Okay, then!” said Karen agreeably. “Go… PokéBall!”

    She threw a PokéBall at it, and Murkrow all-too-willingly hopped inside.

    “This Pokémon is just as useless as Houndour,” she muttered, reading its PokéDex. But Will wasn’t fooled; her eyes were shining and he knew she was really happy with her new catch.

    Will took out a PokéBall.

    “What are you doing?” Karen said suspiciously.

    “I’m releasing Hypno,” said Will firmly.

    “What?” gasped Aaron. “Why would you do that?”

    Will and Karen both turned to look at him.

    “Umm, it put Karen to sleep, made her walk all over the town, and tried to drown her.”

    “Why wouldn’t he release it?” Karen said.

    Aaron shrugged.

    Will threw the PokéBall far into a forest on the edge of the road, where he heard it open. When he ran to retrieve the PokéBall, Hypno was gone. He slammed the PokéBall shut, finalizing the release. He looked down at the empty PokéBall and sighed.

    When he came back, Aaron was shaking his head.

    “Can’t believe you did that,” he sighed. “Your first Pokémon.”

    “It was insane!” said Karen heatedly. “It tried to kill me!”

    Aaron shrugged as if it were no big deal.

    “So what? Good riddance, in my opinion,” he said.

    She glared at him, then turned back to Will and talked to him instead.

    “I’m really glad I caught this little guy,” she said, looking up at Murkrow.

    “It suits you,” said Aaron seriously. “I mean, look at that PokéDex entry: ‘feared and loathed by many…believed to bring misfortune…’” He looked up. “If I didn’t know better, Kare, I’d say that was written about you.”

    He stared at Karen’s face, slowly turning red, and bolted down the path as quickly as he could. She was in hot pursuit, screaming “WHY, YOU LITTLE –”

    Will rolled his eyes, smiling, and followed them.
    [hr]
    Chapter Five
    Will We Ever Reach Violet City?

    They continued on Route 30 for some time. Will and Karen were especially bad off, because they had just gone for an unplanned swim and their clothes were still damp.

    “So, Will,” said Aaron, breaking the silence. “Are you still training Psychic-types?”

    “Of course he is,” snorted Karen. “The guy’s psychic, isn’t he?”

    “Yeah, but what if all his Psychic-types try to hypnotize you?” demanded Aaron. “There are plenty of Psychic Pokémon that learn Hypnosis.”

    “His choice,” Karen sniffed, but she did look a little pale.

    “I’m not going to catch my Pokémon based on their moveset,” scoffed Will.

    Karen looked extremely relieved.

    “That’s good, then,” she said comfortably.

    “What do you mean?” s******ed Aaron. “He never said that they wouldn’t know Hypnosis. He just said that wouldn’t be a contributing factor.”

    Karen gave him a nasty look and went to walk on Will’s other side.

    “I wonder what those other people are training,” she said thoughtfully. “Lucian…Cynthia…and that forgettable kid.”

    “I don’t care,” said Aaron angrily. “I just want to see him get paid back. Lucian is the biggest –” (here he called Lucian something that made Karen glare at him) “– that I’ve ever seen.”

    “Yeah, but you…” began Karen angrily.

    “Guys, look!” said Will suddenly. A small Pokémon had just crept nervously out of the forest and was approaching Will gingerly.

    “What is it?” said Aaron excitedly, but was immediately “SSSSSHHHHH!”ed by Karen and Will. Will carefully took out his PokéDex, not wanting to startle the Pokémon. He looked up a small, white Pokémon with a round green head of hair covering its face.

    “Ralts, the Feeling Pokémon. The horns on its head provide a strong power that enables it to sense people’s emotions. Type: Psychic.”

    Will looked up.

    “I think I’m going to catch it!” he whispered. He picked up a PokéBall and gently tossed it at the Ralts (something told him he wouldn’t have to weaken this one).

    Jerk. Jerk. Jerk. DING.

    “Great for you,” said Karen happily, shooting a smug look at Aaron.

    “Why don’t you check its moves, Will?” suggested Aaron slyly.

    “Let’s see…” mumbled Will. “It knows Psychic, Magical Leaf, Double Team, and…” his voice trailed off. “Oh…” he gulped. “Um…Hypnosis.”

    Aaron broke into derisive laughter.

    Karen turned her head away from Aaron to talk to Will.

    “I really don’t mind,” she said honestly. “I don’t think this one will try anything.”

    Will smiled and nodded.

    Walking on, Will noticed that the trail became less and less pronounced. Soon they left Route 30 and came to Route 31. Right in front of them, there was a cave entrance. Will looked at his friends, who were looking back at him.

    “I don’t think we should enter,” voiced Karen. “We’re not supposed to take any detours. Let’s just keep heading west to Violet City.”

    By saying that they shouldn’t, she sealed Aaron’s vote that they definitely should.

    “Come on, Kare, where’s your spirit of adventure?” asked Aaron, grabbing her wrists and tugging her towards the little entrance.

    “Right here,” she said nervously. “But my spirit of common sense is overpowering it.”

    “It’ll be fine,” he said coaxingly, pulling her closer to the cave. “Besides, we really couldn’t do it without you,” he added sweetly.

    “Shut up,” she snapped, but she looked slightly flustered as she reluctantly followed Aaron into the cave.

    They all missed the sign next to the entrance – “DARK CAVE – AVOID UNLESS POKÉMON KNOWS FLASH. DARK AND DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE.”

    They figured out the consequences shortly after stepping in.

    “Aaron!” shrieked Karen, terrified. She was unable to see anything, not even the light of the entrance. It was pitch-black. “AARON! WHERE DID YOU GO? THIS ISN’T FUNNY!”

    “Boo,” whispered Aaron right into her ear.

    “EEEEEYAAAH!” she screamed.

    “Relax, it’s only me,” said Aaron soothingly. “You’re fine. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

    “How can you mean anything otherwise when saying the word ‘boo’?” she snapped, and Aaron knew exactly the way she was glaring at him. “Besides, I was NOT scared.”

    “Why’d you scream, then?” he asked, and Karen could tell he had that annoying superior smirk.

    “Uh…” she said, at a loss. “Uh… I was humoring you,” she said lamely.

    “You were humoring me?” repeated Aaron, the smug smile more pronounced than ever in his voice. “Okay, then. Consider me humored.”

    “Good,” she snapped, and walked in what she thought was the opposite direction. It wasn’t.

    “OWWCH!” said Aaron in pain. “What, are you trying to run me over?”

    “No, but that’s an excellent idea,” she snarled. “The best one you’ve had all –”

    “Will you two PLEASE SHUT UP!” Will shouted, from somewhere to their left.

    “Will?” Karen gasped.

    “No, it’s Professor Elm, coming to tell you there’s been a mistake, and you OOOOF!” Aaron started to say sarcastically, but ended in a cry of pain; Karen had finally had enough and had slugged him in the stomach with all her might.

    “We need to find the exit,” bellowed Will.

    “Thanks for the update!” shouted Karen sarcastically. “Oh, there seems to be a problem. WE CAN’T SEE IT!”

    “Don’t mind her, Will!” yelled Aaron. “She’s just in a bad mood because I scared her! Maybe we should leave her here and –” he suddenly stopped speaking, clearly in pain. Karen had kicked him harder than she knew she could, in the last spot he would have chosen to be kicked. “– owwwwwwww…” he groaned slowly.

    “Ooohh…” said Karen, feeling a little bad. “Umm…sorry, Aaron. I didn’t mean to, uh… hurt you.”

    “I wasn’t hurt,” muttered Aaron through clenched teeth, trying to stop himself from screaming.

    “Okay, then,” said Karen with that annoying wry smile of hers. “Come on, let’s find the exit.”

    “Got it,” muttered Aaron. He stood up and walked straight into the wall. Karen and Will winced at the nasty crack they heard and could tell his face was contorting with pain. “That hurt,” he whimpered.

    “Uh, are you…okay?” Karen asked uncertainly.

    “Fine,” he said shortly. “Come…on…” he insisted bravely, taking another step and tripping over a small rock. “Oh my God,” he groaned. “I think…my ankle’s…broken.”

    Will and Karen groaned. This was all they needed in a pitch-black cave where they couldn’t even see their hands in front of their faces.

    “Can you walk on it?” said Karen worriedly.

    “Don’t know,” he grunted. He tried to stand up, but he couldn’t quite manage and he fell down hard on his knees. He was overcome with pain and he passed out.

    “Aaron?” said Karen frantically. “…AARON?”

    “I think he’s fainted,” said Will, grimacing.

    Karen walked over to where they had last heard Aaron and nearly tripped over him. She groaned and lifted him off the floor of the cave. Meanwhile, Will felt along the sides of the wall and found the small hole they had crawled through.

    “Yessss,” he murmured. “Karen!” he shouted. “Come here! I found the exit!”

    “Thank God,” moaned Karen. “I’m done with caves… forever.”

    Will nodded grimly. Then he realized she couldn’t see him and said “Yeah.”

    Karen and Aaron went through first, Will pushing Aaron’s head through. Will crawled through after that, and they were in much dismay to find that it was already dusk on Route 31.

    Will’s PokeGear suddenly rang. He checked the caller ID – Professor Elm. Puzzled, he answered.

    “Hello?” he said.

    “Will? KRZ…that…KRPZT…you…?”

    “Is this Professor Elm?” he said loudly. Karen gave him a puzzled look. “Elm… you’re breaking up!”

    “I…forgot…KRST…tell…BZZT…something…”

    Will groaned. Absentminded Professor Elm… he turned around and tried it from a different angle. It worked slightly better.

    “Only one of…can take the gym challenge…must decide…yourselves…that one person will…other…

    This was followed by a series of buzzing noises, then a dial tone.

    Will turned around frustratedly.

    “What did Professor Elm want?” asked Karen curiously.

    “He said only one of us could take the gym challenge…that we would have to decide who… and he started to say what that one person will do at the end… then our connection broke.”

    Karen gaped.

    “I know he’s absentminded, but how could he forget to tell us THAT?” she said incredulously. Will shrugged resignedly. Karen bit her lip and voiced a serious question. “Who’s going to take the challenge?”

    “We’ll figure it out when we get there,” said Will miserably, and led the way for Karen, who was still carrying Aaron. They trudged dejectedly through a gatehouse and into Violet City.
    The Will to Go On--you should read it.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Northern Georgia [/oxymoron]
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    Chapter Six
    Will Anyone Take the Gym Challenge?

    “Ahh…” murmured Karen, breathing in. Violet City was full of nostalgic and wonderful smells and neither Will nor Karen could stop themselves from stopping a moment and taking several long breaths. They shook themselves after a minute and walked on to the somberly-painted Pokémon Center. They hurried inside and Karen set Aaron down carefully on a couch. Will walked up to the elderly nurse.

    “Hello, I’m sorry to bother you, but…” he said, and then glanced over his shoulder at Karen, who was brushing Aaron’s neon green hair out of his eyes. “…we have a situation.”

    “A…situation?” the nurse asked. “Er… what kind of situation, exactly?”

    “Umm, we kind of walked into Dark Cave by accident,” Will said, and the nurse clicked her tongue irritably.

    “Say no more,” she muttered, and rushed over to Aaron’s side. “Have more accidents in Dark Cave then any other place in Johto, you lot do… Nobody reads signs anymore, that’s what it is… Half of you can’t even read… Ridiculous, that’s what it is…” she mumbled under her breath.

    “Er – sorry?” Will said.

    The old woman looked up, appearing surprised to see him there.

    “Nothing, dearie. Nothing. Of course,” she began mumbling again, “you all do eavesdrop on old people… Nosy things, teenagers are… You should be wiped out… all of you… All of you wiped out as early as possible…” Her voice trailed off and Will heard her mutter something that sounded distinctly like “nasty little buggers”.

    Will gave a questioning look to Karen, who rolled her eyes and shrugged.

    Aaron stirred slightly and murmured something under his breath. The nurse suddenly stood up.

    “What is it?” said Will, startled.

    “Nothing,” she snapped. “He has a broken ankle, that’s all. He’s going to have to stay here for a couple months.”

    “What?” Karen gasped. “No!”

    The nurse chortled loudly.

    “FWAHAHAHA!” she said, wiping a tear of laughter from her eye. “Gets ‘em every time!”

    Will smirked at Karen, who was blushing.

    “You there!” said the nurse suddenly, pointing at Karen. “Come here. Help me carry some tools out here.”

    Karen grimaced at Will but followed the nurse to a back room.

    Aaron mumbled something that Will couldn’t understand again; he was lying face-down. Curious, Will turned him over and Aaron murmured something again.

    “Kar…en…”

    Will froze. Aaron sighed deeply in his sleep and again muttered “Karen…”

    “Come on, Blissey, we haven’t got all day!” snapped the nurse. Evidently she was returning. She was carrying nothing. Next to her waddled a fat, pink Pokémon with an egg growing out of a little pouch on its stomach. Karen was carrying three large and apparently heavy boxes.

    Karen groaned and dumped the boxes onto the table. Rubbing her back, she collapsed onto the couch… except she collapsed on the, er…wrong couch.

    “Hello,” came Aaron’s muffled voice from underneath Karen. “Just a thought, but do you think you could get off of me? Because I hurt enough without you adding to things.”

    Karen gulped and stood up quickly. Aaron sat up, rubbing his eyes and wincing with pain.

    “Okay, Kare,” said Aaron. “I know I’m amazing, but sitting on my head isn’t the right way to go about telling me.”

    “It was an accident!” snapped Karen.

    “Okay. If you insist,” Aaron said knowingly, winking at Will.

    “Blissey, get over here,” ordered the nurse irritably. The Pokémon – evidently Blissey – bounded forward happily. “Blissey, use Softboiled so I don’t have to look at these…” She looked at the three teens, searching for the right word. “…things any longer.”

    “Umm, hello?” said Aaron indignantly. “We’re not things. We’re teenagers.”

    “It’s all the same thing if you really think about it,” said the old woman nastily.

    Blissey saved Aaron a retort by removing the egg from her pouch (a new one immediately replaced it) and carefully breaking it over Aaron’s ankle. They heard a CRUNCH as his bone mended itself. He stood up without wincing and was able to walk around.

    “I think my ankle’s better than it was before,” he said, frowning.

    “Of course,” said Karen. “But can you hurry up? We really need to get to the Gym. You’re holding us back, like usual.” Will knew she was being nasty with him to hide the fact that she was secretly relieved. She turned to the nurse. “Hold on… what did you have me carry the tools for?”

    The nurse broke into hysterical laughter.

    “To make you miserable,” she choked with glee. She walked away, cackling maniacally.

    “That lady has serious issues,” said Aaron, frowning. “How does it feel to know there’s another of your kind, Kare?”

    Karen gave a weak smile.

    “This really isn’t the time for jokes, Aaron. We have something serious to tell you,” she said.

    “Who said I was joking?” muttered Aaron, but he went quiet.

    They explained their Gym situation.

    Aaron frowned at nothing for a while after that, and finally spoke.

    “I think I should do it,” he proposed.

    “Why?” asked Karen.

    “Well,” he said slowly, “Bug-types are the least liked Pokémon there are. If I beat eight Gyms with only Bug-types… maybe they would finally get some credit.”

    Karen looked at Will.

    “Sounds okay to me,” said Will, shrugging.

    “Okay, then,” Aaron said as they walked out of the Pokémon Center. “So where’s the Gym?”

    “Right there,” said Karen, pointing. They started to walk in, but she pulled them out. “Not so fast. Remember what happened last time we didn’t read a sign?”

    “Umm…vaguely,” said Aaron.

    “Look at this sign,” said Karen musingly. “No Gym Badges will be handed out unless the competitor has received a token from Sprout Tower.” She looked up, perplexed. “Where’s Sprout Tower?”

    “I’m guessing it’s that really tall tower with a sign in front reading ‘SPROUT TOWER’,” said Will.

    “No, that’s crazy talk,” said Aaron distractedly.

    Karen shook her head in disbelief. She grabbed Aaron’s wrists and hauled him to the Sprout Tower, Will behind them as always.
    [hr]
    Chapter Seven
    You Must Have the Will

    The threesome stopped in front of Sprout Tower. The stared up at the alarmingly tall and narrow structure. If one looked closely, one could actually see it swaying slightly.

    “Well,” said Will finally, “There’s not a whole lot of sense staying out here.” He walked inside, leading for once, with the other two following apprehensively.

    Inside, fierce Pokémon battles were being waged on either side of them. In front of them was the reason the building was shaking: Sprout Tower was supported only by a very tall wooden beam that went straight up the middle of the structure. It creaked as they walked past, seeming to warn of impending dangers. They climbed three flights of stairs to the top.

    Their path was blocked by an elderly Sage who stood deep in thought. His eyes flashed open when the trio approached him.

    “So…” he said very slowly and quietly, though the children had no problem hearing him. “…which of you has come to challenge our training grounds?”

    Karen and Will stepped back willingly.

    “Nice support,” muttered Aaron.”

    “You,” said the Sage, gesturing to Aaron slowly. “What is your name?”

    “Aaron,” said their green-haired friend defiantly.

    “Aaron…” said the Sage thoughtfully. “‘Enlightened. To sing’. Well, enlightened one. Are you ready for your lesson?”

    “Lesson?” said Aaron, puzzled.

    “Here at Sprout Tower, you are taught a lesson,” said the Sage calmly. “And although your name means ‘enlightened’, I daresay you need to be taught…”

    “Teach me, then,” said Aaron defiantly.

    “Gladly,” replied the Sage coolly. “Let us battle.” The Sage retrieved a PokéBall from his pocket and threw it in the air. “Another lesson, Bellsprout,” he announced.

    An ordinary Bellsprout popped out of the PokéBall. None of the trainers bothered to look it up in their PokéDex; that Grass- and Poison-type Pokémon was one of the easiest opponents a Trainer could hope to battle.

    “Umm…” said Aaron uncertainly, looking down at his own PokéBall. “…Do you want to swap yours out? It’s going to be at a big disadvantage.”

    The Sage stared at him firmly.

    “You know… because Bellsprout only uses Vine Whip…” Aaron said, trailing off.

    The Sage didn’t reply, but looked intently at him.

    Aaron gulped and said, “Uh…right. Okay, then. Go…Yanma!”

    Aaron’s Yanma soared out of its PokéBall and flitted around frantically.

    “Come on, Yanma!’ said Aaron a little more confidently. “Let’s show this guy we don’t have anything to learn!”

    The old man’s mouth turned up its corners a bit. Then he bowed to Aaron and said “It is an honor.”

    “Yanma!” said Aaron, “use Wing Attack!”

    The Bellsprout simply swayed back and forth. The effect was disarming; Yanma’s vision seemed to be malfunctioning. It aimed in the wrong direction and missed.

    “Bellsprout,” said the Sage fiercely, “use Double Team!”

    The Bellsprout continued to wave its body, but another one appeared next to it suddenly.

    Karen looked at Will questioningly. He shrugged and turned to watch the battle.

    “Yanma!” said Aaron a little less confidently. “Use Wing Attack!”

    The Yanma, confused by the now-doubled Pokémon, went for the space between them instead and missed again.

    “Bellsprout,” called the Sage. “Double Team!”

    A second later, there were four Bellsprout silently swaying.

    “Yanma! Wing Attack!” said Aaron, and they could all hear the panic in his voice now.

    Yanma missed again.

    “Bellsprout!” shouted the old man. “Double Team!”

    Karen and Will watched on in horror as the four Bellsprout became eight.

    “That’s what he’s doing!” gasped Karen. “He’s making his Pokémon multiply so that Aaron’s Pokémon that has the upper hand won’t get a hit in!”

    Will nodded grimly.

    When there were thirty-two Bellsprout standing in front of the Sage, he switched tactics.

    “Bellsprout! PoisonPowder!” shouted the Sage.

    Will groaned.

    “He’s siphoning its HP out… it’s all over now,” he said resignedly.

    Yanma kept trying to attack, but failing, and at the end of every attack, a small amount of health was sapped from it.

    Finally, Yanma’s tired wings stopped beating, and it fell to the floor in a faint.

    Aaron glared at the old man.

    “Your first lesson,” said the man quietly and seriously, “is that things are not always as they appear. Return when you are ready to make me accept defeat. Only then will you receive the token of Sprout Tower.”

    Aaron walked off, leading the way for his friends. It was dusk in Violet City. Aaron was biting his lip and looked deep in thought.

    “What did I do wrong…?” he murmured. “I don’t get it… It’s so disconcerting… so confusing…” He stopped suddenly, and Karen walked into him.

    “Oh, sorry, Kare,” he said distractedly, and instead of walking with them to the Pokémon Center, he ran off to Route 31, muttering, “Confusing… confusing…”

    Will and Karen turned in for the night after a quick supper, and they found Aaron the next morning. He was dozing on a couch in the Pokémon Center’s lobby, looking exhausted. They shook him awake. He yawned and stood up.

    “Me and Yanma were out all night training,” he said, still tired, but smiling confidently. “Come on. Let’s go to Sprout Tower for that rematch…”

    Karen looked worriedly at Will, but followed him nonetheless.

    They walked in and up to find the Sage in the same spot as yesterday.

    “Let’s get started,” said Aaron bravely.

    “Bellsprout, go!” shouted the old man. The familiar writhing plant zapped out of its PokéBall.

    “Yanma, you’re up!” said Aaron determinedly. “Yanma! Use…”

    “I can’t watch,” muttered Karen, covering her face.

    “…Hypnosis!”

    “Huh?” Karen said incredulously.

    The Bellsprout fell onto the floor, fast asleep. The Sage smiled and nodded.

    “Wing Attack!” commanded Aaron. Yanma zoomed toward the sleeping Pokémon. One hard smack of the wings did it in, and Bellsprout fainted.

    Karen and Will cheered for their friend, but Aaron was listening to something else: the Sage was smiling and clapping slowly.

    “Well done, enlightened one,” said the Sage. “Take this.”

    The Sage handed Aaron a small badge-like item, on which a picture of a Bellsprout was embossed.

    “There is your token of Sprout Tower,” said the Sage. “Yes, you have learned much… You cannot defeat an opponent just by having an advantage… No, to have the true advantage, you must have the will to defeat it the way you would if you had no advantage. Now, go do me a favor… and kick that gym leader’s butt.”

    Aaron smiled slightly and accepted the item, then nodded. He left the Sage to his musings and approached his friends. Before he could get a word out, though, Karen flung her arms around him.

    “Aaron!” she squealed. “That was amazing! How did you figure that strategy out?”

    “Well,” said Aaron, frowning slightly at the way she had said “you”, “It got the upper hand on my Yanma last time by confusing it… I figured if I trained Yanma so that it was faster than his Bellsprout… I could confuse it first.”

    Will nodded.

    “So,” said Aaron, grinning, “let’s go carry out that favor!” He raced down the tower. Will went down after him, and Karen, still looking slightly impressed, followed suit.
    [hr]
    Chapter Eight
    I Will Not Stand For This

    Karen and Will were waiting outside the Violet Gym. Aaron had gone in without them – only challengers were allowed. He returned less than thirty minutes later, bearing a shiny Zephyr Badge on his jacket.

    “Come on, Karen,” said Aaron smugly. “Give me a compliment.”

    “No way,” scoffed Karen. “Once a day is enough.”

    Aaron smirked and shrugged. “If you say so,” was all he said.

    “So, what’s our next move?” Will asked Aaron.

    “The Gym Leader in there told me the closest Pokémon Gym is in Azalea Town, due south from here,” said Aaron. “We have two choices – take Route 32, or cut through the Ruins of Alph, southwest of here.”

    “More caves?” said Karen skeptically. “I think we better take the safe route.”

    “The long route,” corrected Aaron. “I disagree…”

    “Big surprise,” muttered Will.

    “…because although the Ruins of Alph are creepy, old, and dangerous, not to mention they contain the freaky Psychic-type Pokémon called Unown, and no one really knows why they’re there, and scientists are still trying to figure out what was there a long time ago, and it’s creepy, and old, and dangerous, and they house the Unown, and it’s dark, and…” his voice trailed off. “What was my point again?” he said, confused. He thought for a second and said, “Oh, yeah. But it’s the shorter route.”

    “I don’t want to go,” said Karen nervously.

    “Scared, are you?” said Aaron in a falsely pitying voice. “Okay, then. I guess we could…”

    “I’m not scared,” said Karen defensively. “I just don’t feel like seeing you break another arm today.”

    “It’ll be fine,” said Aaron, subtly leading her to the western exit of Violet City. “I’ll be right there to hold your hand.”

    “Try anything in the dark and you’re dead,” said Karen darkly, but reluctantly followed Aaron and Will.

    They walked through the entrance to the Ruins. It was startlingly quiet.. There were a few rotting buildings standing here and there, looking lonely and forlorn.

    “Why don’t we look in the ruins?” said Aaron enthusiastically.

    “No,” said Karen sharply. “I just want to get out of here.”

    “Why can’t you ever just be okay with doing something fun?” said Aaron exasperatedly.

    “What you call fun I call life-threatening,” said Karen furiously. She suddenly had a mental image of Aaron standing in the Ruins, and the floor crumbling beneath him. He was screaming and falling into the white-hot core of the Earth… Karen suddenly perked up a little bit. “You know, maybe this could be fun,” she said, smiling malevolently. “Why don’t we go in?”

    “That’s the ticket!” said Aaron, looking pleased. Will lagged behind them a bit, and Karen all but shoved him into the building. Inside, there was a young attendant standing by a small slate. She had black circles under her eyes and was yawning.

    “Hello,” she said glumly. “Visitors. Hooray. Though why you would want to be here, I have no idea.”

    “Why do you work here, then?” said Will, frowning.

    The attendant looked at him with dislike.

    “Why do you think?” she snapped. “No one wants to accept a résumé without a college degree on it. So I have to work at this stupid old historical place…”

    “You didn’t go to college?” laughed Will.

    The attendant lost it and grabbed him by his shirt collar. She pulled him right up to her face and shrieked, “IT’S HARDER THAN IT LOOKS, YOU LITTLE LIMA BEAN!”

    “‘Lima bean’?” said Aaron questioningly.

    “DON’T JUDGE ME!” she screamed, and ran crying from the room. They stared after her incredulously.

    “What was that about?” said Aaron in disbelief.

    “Some people have feelings,” said Karen nastily.

    “How would you know?” snorted Aaron.

    Karen turned her head. Will was examining the slate that the attendant had been standing near. It was a slider puzzle. Above, letters read, “TRY YOUR LUCK AT THE SLIDING PUZZLE! REWARD FOR COMPLETION!”

    I wanna try!” said Aaron enthusiastically. Karen shoved him aside and leaned over the puzzle herself.

    “No thanks,” she said. “We don’t want this place to come down on our heads. Will and I will do it, thank you very much.”

    “Whatever,” said Aaron, looking a bit crestfallen. “Okay, then… yeah… you guys do it… that’s cool…”

    Will and Karen worked on the puzzle for a full half hour before giving up.

    “This is impossible!” cried Karen in frustration.

    “Can I try?” said Aaron hopefully.

    “Whatever,” snapped Karen. She and Will stepped aside. Aaron had been there about two minutes when he cried out, “I got it!”

    “What?” said Karen in amazement.

    “It’s not that hard,” said Aaron, shrugging. “You just AAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHH!”

    “Aaron!” shouted Will and Karen together. The floor below him had opened up.

    “Where did he go?” said Karen frantically.

    “The floor below him opened up!” said Will in horror. “Who would have guessed that would happen?”

    Karen suddenly turned fiercely red and became very interested in the top of her shoes.

    “Look!” said Will in a hushed voice. The letters that read, “TRY YOUR LUCK AT THE SLIDING PUZZLE! REWARD FOR COMPLETION!” were peeling off the wall. They floated through the air and out the door. “I think we should follow them,” hissed Will.

    “You mean you see them too?” said Karen lightly.

    “Yes, of course,” whispered Will.

    They followed the letters out into a different building, and down a ladder into the ruins themselves. Karen drew closer to Will; it was very eerie. Crumbling Pokémon statues could be seen everywhere, and thousands of faintly glowing, pulsating letters were stuck to the walls.

    “Where’s Aaron?” murmured Karen to Will (this was the sort of place where you felt you needed to speak quietly).

    Will pointed, and they saw Aaron, getting up and dusting himself off.

    “Aaron!” hissed Karen. “Get over here!”

    Aaron groaned; he had a few bruises.

    “I’m on it, princess,” he said resentfully. “Give me a second.”

    “We don’t have a second,” said Karen urgently. “Those letter things are going to attack us…”

    “What, the Unown?” said Aaron, puzzled. “They’re not very dangerous.”

    “Those are the Unown?” said Will incredulously. He pulled out his always-helpful PokéDex.

    “Unown, the Symbol Pokémon. Its flat, thin body is always stuck on walls. Its shape appears to have some meaning.”

    “Hmm,” said Karen. “They may not be dangerous… but they are creepy.” She shuddered. “Let’s get out of here.”

    They climbed the ladder noiselessly.

    “Well, Kare,” said Aaron sourly. “Nice job, convincing us to get in the ruins. We just wasted a whole afternoon.”

    With the look she gave him, if he had looked her directly in the eyes, it’s possible he would have been turned into stone.
    [hr]
    Chapter Nine
    Will the Slowpoke Come Out to Play?

    They headed out to Route 32, and were dismayed to find that they were right next to the southern entrance to Violet City.

    “Nice shortcut,” muttered Karen. She still seemed bitter.

    “Calm down, Kare, we still have quite a bit of time,” said Will, frowning. “And could you please not be so spiteful to him?”

    “Yeah, Kare,” said Aaron, looking offended. “Stop being so spiteful.”

    “Drop dead,” suggested Karen.

    “Drop the conversation,” said Will sharply. “You too, Aaron,” he added, as Aaron opened his mouth again. “One can only take so much of Karen and Aaron arguments. I’m going to go insane, and it won’t be because of my Psychic-type Pokémon.”

    They continued for some time in silence. It was nearing three o’clock when they saw a Pokémon Center in the distance. And just behind that was…

    “Another cave?” said Karen in horror.

    “Another cave?” said Aaron enthusiastically.

    “Union Cave,” said Will, reading the sign. He sighed as he looked up at the monstrosity of a cavern. “Is there a way around it?” he said hopefully.

    “Doesn’t look like it,” said Karen dejectedly. “The sooner we get through this place, the better. Why don’t we stop at the Pokémon Center first?”

    No one agreed, but no one objected either, so she led the way to the Pokémon Center. Before they reached the door, however, three people walked out.

    “Oh, crap,” Karen muttered. “Not these guys.”

    Lucian, Cynthia, and Norman gazed critically at Will, Karen, and Aaron.

    “Good afternoon,” said Lucian in a polite tone. “…Or, it was until we caught sight of you three.”

    “Just shut up,” snapped Karen, shoving past him.

    Lucian glared at her, all traces of amusement gone.

    “Make me, you –” snarled Lucian, but was cut off by a rather satisfying scene. Aaron, already about to explode at this foul creature that was Lucian, was not about to watch him insult Karen. He raised his fist and punched Lucian as hard as he could in the face. They saw a tooth fly out of Lucian’s mouth, which was bleeding.

    “You nasty, spiteful, vicious, vulgar, atrocious, brutal little –” Aaron was screaming, and here he called Lucian something rather offensive. “No WAY you’re going to think you can push HER around! Leave Kare alone and GET OUT OF MY LIFE!”

    Lucian, Cynthia, and Norman were staring at Aaron in stupefied disbelief, and Will was looking at him with something that almost seemed like awe. Lucian picked himself off the ground, glared at all three of them, and muttered, “Come on” to his friends. They walked hurriedly toward the cave and disappeared through the entrance. Aaron stared after them for some time, breathing heavily.

    “Wow,” said Will finally. “I’ve never seen you this angry before, Aaron.”

    “That guy seriously irks me,” muttered Aaron, a bit pink in the face.

    “We noticed,” Karen said, smiling slightly.

    “Come on, I’ll take those,” he insisted, taking each of their PokéBalls inside and returning a moment later, their Pokémon fully healed.

    They entered Union Cave, prepared for the worst… and then some. They were pleasantly surprised. It was dark in this cave, but not pitch-black. A few fire breathers lit up the darkness briefly. They could see that this cave probably connected to the ocean; there was running water all over the place. It was completely silent, but not in an eerie way—it was just peaceful.

    “Thank God I can see in here,” sighed Karen.

    “You’re not the one who has to look at your face,” said Aaron, but Karen merely looked at him, no glare involved.

    It wasn’t long before they could see the exit. It was nice to be able to relax for a little and enjoy themselves.

    Karen was looking at Aaron strangely, Will noted—though Aaron appeared not to notice. The reason he thought it was strange was that she didn’t have a murderous look in her eyes, nor did she seem to want to hit him over the head with the nearest heavy object. She simply stared at him as though she were puzzled, as though she were trying to figure something out.

    What was wrong with her?

    Will left that fascinating issue for another day and headed out to Route 33. It was pouring rain now and they all ran as fast as they could towards Azalea Town—but of course they still got soaked. Their feet splashed in mud puddles and they put their arms over their heads.

    They ran through the town, past a water well, past a house with a smoking chimney, past the PokéMart, past the Pokémon Gym, until they at last arrived in the Pokémon Center, completely drenched. Karen’s hair was sopping wet; it hung in front of her face and Aaron had to bite his tongue to keep from calling her Cousin It. Her t-shirt stuck uncomfortably to her body. Aaron and Will were dripping all over the floor, but luckily there was a young and friendly nurse at the Pokémon Center here and she was not visibly angry.

    They looked up at the clock and saw it was already 6 o’clock.

    “Ugh,” shivered Karen. “I hate being wet… Hold the phone! I have an idea!” She began to rummage in her pocket. “I knew you would come in handy somehow,” she said, triumphantly holding out a PokéBall and sending out her Houndour. “Houndour, dry us off!” she commanded.

    Houndour yelped happily at being released and blew flames at Karen. She yelped as well, but out of fear, and dodged the fire narrowly. The minimal exposure she had dried her immediately and effectively. Will and Aaron reluctantly did the same.

    They glanced outside and saw that the rain was letting up a bit, and so walked out of the Pokémon Center to look around. Karen, still not quite in a murderous mood, allowed her Houndour to trot proudly alongside her… seeing, of course, as it stayed behind her. Will’s Smoochum toddled happily alongside him, and Aaron (wisely deciding against bringing Skorupi out) sent his own Yanma out to soar above them. They took the time to examine the features of the rather pleasant town, and they stopped outside the well they had passed earlier. The sign in front read, “Slowpoke Well. When a Slowpoke yawns, it is believed to be a sign of coming rain. Records show that a Slowpoke’s yawn ended a drought four hundred years ago.”

    “Slowpoke…” said Will musingly. He suddenly realized something. “Slowpoke is a Psychic-type Pokémon… I can catch one!”

    “Goody for you,” said Aaron sarcastically. “Look at Will, about to catch his fourth Pokémon, while the rest of us only have two. How thoughtful.”

    “If you remember correctly, I released one of mine,” said Will, frowning. “I’d only be one ahead.”

    “Aaron doesn’t care anyway,” said Karen, with a warning look at her green-haired friend. “We’ll all end up with tons of Pokémon in the end.”

    “Whatever,” sighed Aaron melodramatically.

    They climbed warily down the Slowpoke Well. A flurry of Zubat greeted them on their way in. They reached the bottom and looked around. Zubat and Golbat were hanging everywhere from the ceiling, but there wasn’t a single Slowpoke to be found.

    “That’s strange,” said Will thoughtfully. “I wonder where they went.”

    “Look behind you,” said Aaron.

    Behind him was a Slowpoke with its tail in the well water. It had an extremely dopey and happy look on its face.

    “I’m going to catch it,” said Will.

    “What else would you do to it?” snapped Aaron. He was evidently still in a bad mood.

    Will called Smoochum forward to battle the Slowpoke. Smoochum glared at it and narrowed her eyes. The Slowpoke didn’t seem to realize it was entering battle; on the contrary, its pleasant smile only seemed to widen. This infuriated Smoochum.

    “Smoochum, use Pound!” said Will.

    Smoochum ran forward importantly and punched the Slowpoke as hard as she could. A nasty bruise appeared instantly and Will winced slightly, realizing how hard the Pokémon had been hit.

    The Slowpoke smiled at Smoochum, apparently unaware that it had been attacked. It yawned contentedly.

    Karen, Aaron, Will, and Smoochum looked at the Slowpoke incredulously. Was this Pokémon even fully alive?

    Suddenly, a full ten seconds later, Slowpoke gave a violent start as if it had been shot, startling Smoochum into falling over. Slowpoke moaned loudly and screwed up its face in pain. Its breathing was labored.

    “That’s what you called a delayed reaction,” said Karen, still a little dubious of the Pokémon.

    The Slowpoke took a step forward, pulling its tail out of the water. The trio saw that its tail had the tiniest little Shellder hanging from it. Suddenly, the Slowpoke began to glow brightly. It stood on its hind legs. It grew quite a bit. The Shellder was even affected, and it grew into a shell worthy for a giant hermit crab. As the Pokémon stopped glowing, however, the three were astonished to find that that was exactly what it had become. It had the same relaxed and uncaringly pleasant face, but it was on its hind legs and it had grown huge. Completely nonplussed, Will pulled out his PokéDex.

    “Slowbro, the Hermit Crab Pokémon. Naturally dull to begin with, it lost its ability to feel pain due to Shellder's seeping poison. Type: Water/Psychic.”

    Will looked at the vacant expression on the Pokémon’s face and pulled out a PokéBall. Smiling, he threw the PokéBall hard at the Slowbro. It bopped unpleasantly off its head (Slowbro didn’t notice) and drew it inside. The PokéBall shut and Will picked it up.

    “Now I have a Pokémon that can’t even feel pain,” he laughed. “How cool is that?”

    The three walked up out of the Slowpoke Well and back into Azalea Town. It was nearly dark, so Aaron decided to leave the gym challenge for tomorrow. They went to book rooms at the Pokémon Center, but…

    “Er, three rooms?” said the nurse. “I’m sorry… we only have two open. What will the arrangements be…?”

    Aaron’s eyes lit up with a greedy and excited flame.

    “Since I’m so nice, I’ll give Will a whole room to himself,” he said, unable to keep a broad grin off his face. “Kare and I will go in the other room (she won’t mind coed) and…”

    “I don’t think so,” said Karen, glaring at him, and Will was relieved to see her angry again. “I’ll take one room and they can have the other,” she said to the nurse sweetly. While the nurse booked the rooms on her computer, Karen turned around and made a face at Aaron.

    Will patted Aaron on the back as they headed towards their room.

    “Sorry,” he said, though he didn’t look it. “Better luck next time.”

    “With the way things are going, I’ll need it,” said Aaron, looking disgruntled.

    The three said their goodnights (Aaron rather moodily) and went to bed.
    [hr]
    Chapter Ten
    Of Forests and Strangers

    Karen and Will watched smilingly as Aaron paraded confidently out of the Azalea Gym, proudly flaunting his new Hive Badge on his jacket.

    “How did you beat him?” asked Karen.

    “He had Bug-type Pokémon,” said Aaron. “I know how they work.”

    And Karen, though that wasn’t really much of an answer, inquired no further.

    They left town via the west entrance and walked straight into the dark and silent Ilex Forest.

    “Pretty creepy here, huh?” said Aaron happily.

    “Very,” said Karen, looking around.

    “Very dark…” pointed out Aaron.

    “It is…” said Karen, a little nervously, drawing a bit closer to Aaron.

    “And quiet…” said Aaron helpfully. “No one would ever hear our screams if a tree fell on us and pressed us to death.”

    Karen turned white.

    “Why the heck would you say that?” she scoffed, but she stayed very near the center of the path, away from the trees, after that.

    “You know, we really should be getting through here as quick as possible,” said Will. “We don’t want to get bitten by some freaky Bug Pokémon.”

    Smoochum shivered at the thought.

    “Er…Will?” said Karen tentatively.

    “What?” said Will.

    “Umm…” she stammered.

    “What is it?” said Will, slightly impatient.

    She just pointed at his shoulder and said weakly, “Bug.”

    Will looked at his shoulder. A tiny Nincada was injecting its long proboscis into Will’s neck. Will blanched. He looked back towards his friends and mumbled something that they couldn’t understand, then his eyes rolled up into his head and he fainted.

    “Great job, Kare,” snapped Aaron. “You had to tell him.”

    “I wasn’t going to let him keep going!” said Karen indignantly.

    “Whatever,” said Aaron, clearly at a loss. He plucked the little Bug- and Ground-type Pokémon out of Will’s skin and threw it into the forest.

    “Er… you were pretty mad when Will caught a Slowbro because you only had two… then you pass up an opportunity to catch one of your own,” Karen pointed out.

    Aaron considered it, then sighed.

    “Too late now, I suppose,” he said.

    Will started awake and shook himself. Seeing how his neck was completely insect-free, he sighed in relief and continued on.

    Soon they started hearing strange noises—mainly, they kept hearing loud thuds. After a while it was apparent what the cause was: a young man was slamming his head into a thick and hard tree trunk, over and over.

    They watched him in bewilderment for some time before Aaron finally called, “What the heck are you doing?”

    The boy smashed his head once more, then shook himself and looked around to see the source of the voice.

    “What am I doing?” he repeated in a very southern accent. “I’m honing my Headbuttin’ skills.”

    “Your…Headbutting skills?” asked Will cautiously.

    “Yessirreebob,” said the boy proudly. “I can teach any Pokémon the Headbutt—practically any Pokémon at all. Seein’ as they have a head.”

    Karen’s eyes lit up.

    “Actually, I’m pretty good at teaching Headbutt myself… And I have a pretty worthy candidate,” she told the boy. “Aaron!” she called slyly, and Aaron jerked back to Earth. He had been zoning out for a minute. “Come here!”

    Aaron obliged.

    “Yes?” he said suspiciously.

    “I want to show you something,” she said, her eyes widening innocently. “Or…maybe we should say…teach you.”

    “What is it?” he said, still rather wary.

    “Just come here,” she said coaxingly. “That’s right…now, bend a little forward…Yep! Perfect…turn this way…and do this…Uh-huh…You’re a natural! Now…are you paying attention? Here goes…” she said gleefully, and, driving him from behind, pushed him with a running start and rammed his head at full power into the tree.

    Aaron realized what had happened for a split second. But now it was his turn to faint.

    Karen giggled maliciously behind her hand. She turned around and saw Will staring at her exasperatedly, arms folded.

    “Did you have to?” he said weakly.

    “No,” said Karen. “But I think you know as well as I do that he deserved it. He’s the one who suggested that we would be hurt by a tree, remember?”

    There was no point in arguing that logic, so Will dropped it and went to wake Aaron up. Thankfully, he didn’t seem to remember what had happened (Karen was actually far stronger than she looked) and they waved the boy off.

    Soon they came to the entrance to Route 34. They gratefully entered through it and it wasn’t long before Goldenrod City was within their sights. It wasn’t long after that that they passed through the town’s gate.

    “Wow,” said Aaron.

    Goldenrod was the New York City of the Johto region – the city that never sleeps. There were huge skyscrapers on every side of them. A bright casino flashed on their left while an enormous department store stood on their right. It was truly an amazing sight.

    They entered the Pokémon Center, and though they had been walking all day, none of them were the least bit tired. A boy their own age with dark brown hair stood in front of the PC. He didn’t appear to be anywhere near done.

    “Dang, I wanted to use that,” said Karen. “I haven’t checked my mailbox in a while.”

    “Same here,” said Aaron, looking crestfallen.
    “Go ask him for it,” suggested Will.

    Karen bit her lip.

    “You know, I think I will,” she said, and went to go talk to him. Aaron followed. Karen tapped the boy on the shoulder.

    “Excuse me?” she said politely. “Do you mind if I use this PC?”

    The boy turned around and looked at Karen. His eyes did a sweeping motion as he scrutinized her up and down, and a smile formed on his face. A slight frown formed on Aaron’s.

    “Of course you can use it,” said the boy. “Who would I be to turn down a beautiful lady?”

    Aaron’s frown was suddenly more pronounced, and his eyes had a dark look about them.

    Karen’s cheeks went a tiny bit pink.

    “Thank you,” she said breathlessly, looking flustered but pleased. “It’s not often that I get compliments from the people around me,” she continued, and that last bit was perhaps spoken a bit too pointedly for Aaron’s liking.

    “Then you are being robbed,” said the boy with a confident smile. “The name’s Bill, by the way. What do you go by?”

    “Karen,” she said, and her grin was a little bigger than before.

    “That’s a fantastic name,” said Bill. “You know,” he said conversationally, “I invented the Pokémon storage system.”

    Karen’s eyes widened. “No way! But you’re so…”

    “Unintelligent?” suggested Aaron hopefully.

    “Young,” finished Karen, ignoring her companion.

    “Yeah, well, I’m great with technology,” said Bill modestly. “Anyway… were you looking to use my storage system?”

    “No,” said Karen regretfully. “I don’t really have enough Pokémon to start using it yet.”

    “Well, I do have a Pokémon that I’ve been hoping to get off my hands here,” said Bill. “Would you like to take it?”

    “Of course!” said Karen, surprised but looking very pleased indeed.

    “It’s an Eevee,” said Bill, handing her a PokéBall. “And it’s at a pretty low level. But I already have all of Eevee’s evolutions… so I really have no reason to train it.”

    “Oh, no,” said Aaron quickly, “she only likes Dark OOOF,” he finished in pain as Karen stomped on his foot.

    “I love it,” she said, eyes sparkling. “Thank you.”

    “My pleasure,” said Bill. He leaned down and kissed her hand lightly. “Till we meet again,” he said, still smiling, and left the Pokémon Center. Karen smiled vaguely and walked back to Will without using the PC. Aaron followed her, crossing his arms and muttering under his breath.

    Will’s Smoochum was making Will laugh by pulling off crazy faces. He looked up and saw Aaron and Karen returning. He picked up his Smoochum and held it in his arms.

    “How’d it go?” he asked brightly.

    “It sucked,” Aaron snapped grumpily and flopped down on the couch.

    “It was great,” said Karen pleasantly.

    Will looked from one face to the next.

    “Erm… Okay, then,” he said awkwardly. “What took you so long?”

    “I met this amazing guy,” said Karen happily. “He was really nice and had nothing but compliments—” (here she glanced at Aaron meaningfully) “—for me, actually.”

    “Cool,” said Will.

    “I’m going to bed,” said Aaron darkly, and without even looking at Will or Karen, left for his room.

    “Why?” he asked disapprovingly, looking at Karen in an annoyed way.

    “He needs to know that he’s not the only one who’s noticed I’m a girl,” said Karen reproachfully. She got up, stretched and yawned, and went to bed, and Will followed not long afterwards.
    [hr]
    Chapter Eleven
    I Truly Kare For You

    “Good morning, Will,” said Aaron pleasantly as he walked in on Will and Karen eating breakfast.

    “Good morning,” said Will, sure that Aaron would be ignoring Karen.

    “Morning, Kare,” said Aaron brightly, surprising Will. “Good sleep?”

    “Um, yes,” she said, looking at him suspiciously. “Why are you so interested in how I sleep?”

    Aaron went bright red and quickly stammered something under his breath.

    “I’m only joking,” laughed Karen. “You should see your face.”

    “Nah, I can see everything I need to,” said Aaron casually, still looking at Karen. He blinked, realizing what he’d just said.

    Karen opened her mouth to say something, but Will cut her off quickly.

    “So, Aaron, when are you going to go and face the Pokémon Gym?” he asked.

    “Probably as soon as possible,” said Aaron. “I think we should head out right away.”

    They did just that, but found that the Gym didn’t open for a half hour.

    “I wonder what the Gym Leader’s like here?” said Aaron thoughtfully.

    “You don’t know who the Gym Leader is?” said an old man who happened to be passing by. He had a rather southern accent, even more so than the Headbutter; meanwhile, he rather looked at Aaron like he had gone mad.

    “Er, no. We’re not from around these parts,” said Will hastily.

    “Gotcha,” said the man, relieved. “All right. The Gym Leader here’s a pretty young girl. Goes by the name o’ Margaret. She’s just taken over for her mother—parents wouldn’t let her become leader till she was fifteen. She’s right steamed, too. She got saddled with a younger sister a few years back—when Whitney turns fifteen, it’s out with Margaret….”

    “Sounds cool!” said Aaron, who had truthfully heard only the words “pretty”, “girl”, and “fifteen”.

    “You know, I think that Will and I should come with you this time, Aaron,” said Karen. Seeing the look on Will’s face, she quickly added, “You know… because we haven’t seen him face a Gym Leader before…”

    Will didn’t need his psychic powers to know that that wasn’t the whole story, but he decided that it would be, on the whole, better if he didn’t fight this.

    “Okay,” he agreed.

    They walked around the city for a bit, waiting for the Gym to open. Finally, the clock struck nine, and they all headed for Goldenrod Gym, not wholly sure what to expect.

    The Gym was in the distinct shape of Clefairy, with a complete wall for the spiral on its head and others for its ears and arms. Flowers that smelled intoxicating were placed pleasantly about the room. But none of the trio really noticed, because they were more focused on the Gym Leader, who stood confidently right in the middle of Clefairy’s belly.

    Margaret, Goldenrod’s pride and joy, was the prettiest girl any of them had ever met. Her big brown eyes were complemented by long eyelashes. She had a flawless body. Her long hair (dyed bright pink) was tied into a ponytail behind her back. She was, all around, an extremely appealing person look-wise, and Aaron was ogling her with his mouth so wide open that a bee that had been hovering about the flowers flew into it and he didn’t even notice. It fluttered around a little in there, then floated lazily back out. His face wore a dazed expression.

    Will too was looking at Margaret, but he was not so captivated as to not be able to look away. He glanced at Karen, who was glaring not at Aaron, but at Margaret.

    “Aaron!” she snapped. “You’re here for the Gym Challenge, remember?”

    “Huh?” said Aaron, his face slack. He shook himself. “Uh… Oh. Right… I’m here to…to…” He was staring at Margaret, and he appeared to lose his train of thought. “to…” he trailed hopelessly.

    Karen had had enough.

    “He wants to challenge you!” she snarled at Margaret.

    “I’d surely take on any challenger who wants to fight,” Margaret said, smiling and winking at Aaron. Her accent was also southern, more so than the Headbutter and the old gentleman together. “When did you want to do battle, hon’?” she asked Aaron pleasantly.

    “Umm…” he said, completely fascinated with this striking new creature.

    “Right now!” Karen said angrily. “Why would he come in here right now if he didn’t want to battle you right now?”

    Margaret looked surprised.

    “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, looking honest. “There’s no need to be like that, is there? We’ll battle as soon as you like. I won’t hold you up none, promise.”

    Her sweet and agreeable reply left Karen more infuriated than ever.

    “I never got your names, now, did I?” asked Margaret. “As you know, I’m Margaret. Gym Leader of Goldenrod. You are?” she asked Karen, a look of polite interest on her face.

    “Impatient,” said Karen darkly.

    “How ‘bout you, hon’?” asked Margaret, looking at Will.

    “I’m Will,” said Will pleasantly.

    “And what’s your name, you lucky challenger?” Margaret inquired.

    “Aaron,” said Aaron eagerly.

    “Well, want to battle, Aaron?” asked Margaret, winking at him again.

    “Definitely,” said Aaron breathlessly.

    “One Pokémon each sound good?” she asked. “Great. Go, Clefable!”

    Clefable, the pink evolved form of Clefairy, was sent out.

    “I choose…Skorupi!” said Aaron decisively. “Skorupi, use Pin Missile!”

    A series of sharp and seemingly painful stinging barbs were shot at Clefable, who winced but shook off the hit.

    “Use Metronome!” said Margaret enthusiastically.

    Clefable waggled a finger back and forth, back and forth, back and forth… suddenly, an enormous Flamethrower was belched out of its mouth and Skorupi took the hit full-out.

    “Umm…What the heck was that?” said Aaron anxiously.

    “That was Metronome,” said Karen, who was smiling malevolently. “The user becomes capable of using any move in the book.”

    “Why are you only happy when someone else is miserable?” asked Will defeatedly.

    “No matter,” said Aaron, but he was growing pale. “Skorupi…use Crunch!”

    Skorupi darted quickly up to Clefable and bit down hard into it.

    “Doubleslap!” ordered Margaret, but Clefable suddenly started shaking violently and couldn’t budge.

    “It Flinched!” shouted Aaron with joy. “Skorupi, finish it off! Poison Sting!”

    One hit seemed to do the trick and, within a very short time, Aaron was presented with the Plain Badge.

    “Nice job!” said Margaret, eyes shining. “That was really good work! You must have trained that thing really well!”

    “Not really,” said Aaron with unconvincing modesty.

    “Don’t be modest,” she said. “You did a great job.” She hugged Aaron.

    Karen’s smile had vanished. She blurted out “See you later, Will!” in a choked voice, and rushed out of the Gym.

    Will sighed. He really hated this. Aaron walked over feeling very confident and together they walked to the Pokémon Center. They decided to head for Ecruteak City as soon as possible, and Will went to his room to prepare.

    Aaron gritted his teeth and knocked on Karen’s door.

    “Kare?” he said tentatively.

    The door flew open. Her eyes were bright, shiny daggers that pierced Aaron’s skull. He wouldn’t be surprised had his eyes started to bleed.

    “What do you want?” she said fiercely.

    “I just thought you should know…we’re going to go to Ecruteak really soon…” he said hopefully.

    “Fantastic,” she snarled. She slammed the door shut.

    Aaron sighed ruefully and knocked on the door again. It opened again.

    “Yes?” she said coldly.

    “Umm, this may be just my imagination,” he said, “but I’m getting this feeling you’re mad at me.”

    She gave him a disbelieving look and folded her arms.

    “Whatever gives you that idea?” she said sardonically.

    “Tell me why!” pleaded Aaron.

    “Why?” she said, her voice rising. She gave a frightening high-pitched laugh. “Why?”

    “Kare, please don’t be like this,” begged Aaron.

    The nurse walked over from the lobby and whispered that they’d either have to keep it down or take it in the room. Aaron gave her a “can’t-you-see-we’re-in-the-middle-of-something-right-now” look and turned back to Karen.

    “Why were you flirting with that cheerleader of a Gym Leader?” Karen hissed.

    “I wasn’t flirting!” Aaron said angrily.

    “Yeah, okay,” said Karen, clearly disbelieving.

    “Even if I was, it couldn’t have been as bad as you with that creepy Bill guy!” said Aaron accusingly.

    “Oh, please,” said Karen, rolling her eyes. “I was one hundred percent not doing anything.”

    “Neither was I with Margaret!” shouted Aaron.

    A crowd had gathered behind Aaron, and they were watching the shouting match with much interest.

    “Well, you weren’t exactly avoiding her!” said Karen loudly.

    “Why do you care?” demanded Aaron. “You’re ALWAYS bringing me down! Half the time it’s like you hate me!”

    “I don’t hate you!” cried Karen. “I actually sort of…”

    The crowd watched with bated breath.

    “…like you,” finished Karen.

    Aaron blinked.

    “…Like me?” he said, shocked.

    Karen nodded resignedly.

    “As a friend, you mean,” he said quickly.

    Karen shook her head.

    “You’re lying,” said Aaron with horrible realization.

    “No, I’m not,” said Karen. “I…really do like you.”

    Aaron cleared his throat and stood there awkwardly.

    “Umm, okay then,” he said nervously. “Umm…”

    “Wrap this up already!” yelled an angry voice from the crowd. Looking over Aaron’s shoulder, Karen saw it was the old man who had interrupted their conversation earlier. The old man stamped his cane on the ground angrily—except he accidentally bashed a woman’s foot. The woman subsequently hopped up and down on her uninjured foot, bumping into the man right behind Aaron. The man stumbled forward into Aaron, who was pushed into Karen. Their faces banged together, and they kissed—true, with more force than they would like; true, so hard that it actually hurt; true, their teeth clacked together painfully—but they kissed.

    The crowd cheered.
    The Will to Go On--you should read it.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Northern Georgia [/oxymoron]
    Posts
    13

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    Chapter Twelve
    Lucian Helps With Aaron Dirty Laundry

    Will, Karen and Aaron were out of Goldenrod City. Route 35 was a short but peaceful road with a few roadside fire breathers entertaining passerby. Will cleared his throat.

    “So, have you two made up now?” Will said cautiously.

    “Made up?” asked Aaron. “Yeah, we—OOF,” he finished as Karen elbowed him in the ribs. “—made up,” he finished lamely.

    “Good,” said Will happily. He knew nothing about what had happened while he had been packing his bags. He walked ahead, and Karen grabbed Aaron and stood him next to her behind Will.

    “What?” said Aaron loudly.

    “Shut up!” hissed Karen. “I don’t think we should tell Will about…what happened.”

    “Why not?” said Aaron blankly.

    “Well…” she said hesitantly. “I don’t want to let him know just yet—”

    “Guys?” called Will, who was at the gatehouse leading into the National Park. “Are you coming?”

    “Yep!” called Aaron, and, without waiting for Karen to finish, ran to Will.

    Karen sighed and followed suit.

    “The National Park…” said Aaron in a bored tone. “Hold on… look at this sign! Bug…Catching…Contest…held every day except Friday, Sunday, Monday, and…” he frowned. “Wed…nes…day… Wed Nes Day?” he said, bewildered.

    “That’s how you spell Wednesday,” snorted Karen.

    “Never mind arithmetic right now, Kare,” said Aaron impatiently. “What day is it?”

    “Tuesday,” said Will.

    “I’m gonna catch a Bug Pokémon!” said Aaron importantly. “Ticket for one, please,” he asked of the officer standing near the door.

    “I hate my life,” sighed the officer as he handed Aaron a ticket.

    Karen looked at the officer strangely, but made no comment. Aaron walked into the National Park (Karen and Will were asked to wait in the gatehouse).

    They heard a voice say, “On your marks…get set…GO!”

    Then they heard a lot of scrambling around. They sat there awkwardly for a few minutes. Will got up and left for the restroom. Then Karen heard a very familiar voice shouting, “NO WAY! THAT WEEDLE IS MINE, BUB!”

    Karen sighed.

    “Your boyfriend doesn’t have a very good temper, does he?” sneered a voice behind Karen.

    She turned around to see Lucian folding his arms and looking so smug it ought to have been illegal. Cynthia and Norman weren’t with him.

    “What do you want?” she snapped.

    “I want to point out to you what an idiot your boyfriend is,” said Lucian, the smirk even more pronounced in his voice than on his face.

    “He’s not my boyfriend,” said Karen angrily.

    “I was there when he tackled you to the ground,” said Lucian knowingly. “You two are an item.”

    “We are not!” said Karen, more loudly than she had intended.

    “You are,” said Lucian, smiling superiorly.

    Karen stood up abruptly and glared threateningly at the purple-haired jerk in front of her. She was taller than him by a few inches.

    “What does it matter to you?” she seethed.

    “It doesn’t,” said Lucian, shrugging. “But I think it might matter to…Will.”

    Karen could have killed him. If only there were a weapon handy…and there weren’t so many people present…

    “You’re not going to tell Will,” said Karen dangerously.

    “Why?” said Lucian with a look of mock concern. “He’s your friend. He would WANT to know, wouldn’t he?”

    “Yes,” admitted Karen grudgingly. She sat down.

    “Then why aren’t you telling him?” inquired Lucian.

    “I think it would be really awkward for him to be…between us,” said Karen.

    “I don’t think it would,” lied Lucian, looking serious. “He wouldn’t care one bit.”

    “Really?” said Karen, looking doubtful.

    “Cross my heart,” said Lucian, looking honest.

    “More like cross your fingers,” said Karen darkly. “Why should I listen to you? Why should I even give your opinion a consideration?”

    “Because,” said Lucian, looking sincere. “I don’t want to see my rivals be torn apart. Then I would have absolutely no incentive to keep going.” Except power, fame, respect, and admiration, he thought to himself. No, he really wanted to see Will blow up at his friends, to make him (Lucian) look better by comparison.

    “Wow,” said Karen, looking surprised. “I’m surprised you actually care.” She frowned. “Really surprised. Wait a second…” she said with dawning realization. “You just want Will to blow up at us to make yourself look better!”

    “Look who’s caught on,” said Lucian, looking bad-tempered. He suddenly smiled horribly. “You know what? I think I should tell Will…for you.”

    “Why do you think that Will would care so much, anyway?” she inquired.

    “Well, he’s your guys’ best friend…” said Lucian. “He would feel awkward and it would be horrible for him if you guys broke up.”

    “You know what?” said Karen thoughtfully. “I don’t think it would.”

    “Huh?” said Lucian, shocked.

    “All of this seems…silly…when you look at it in the light of day…” she said. “I think that, if anything, he’d be happy.”

    “Yes, but what if Will likes you?” asked Lucian hopefully.

    “I don’t think he does,” said Karen, frowning. “In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that Will…”

    “No, no, no!” said Lucian, looking angry. “He’d be miserable! This isn’t how it’s supposed to go!”

    “You’ve just shown me that it will all be okay!” said Karen, beaming. “Thanks, Lucian!”

    She hugged him tightly and then went to meet Will as he walked out of the restrooms.

    “Stupid…completely missed…preposterous…” muttered Lucian. He was bright red. He stomped out the door, muttering, and a second later Aaron entered.

    “Hey, guys, check out my Bug Pokémon!” said Aaron happily. A small honeycomb-type Pokémon was flitting about his ear.

    “Is that a bee?” said Karen, looking cautious.

    “Yep!” said Aaron proudly. “Her name is Combee!”

    “Fantastic…” said Karen, but she looked a little disgusted. “You know I’m allergic to honey, right?”

    Aaron shrugged.

    “Anyway, Will, I have something to tell you,” said Karen, looking happy and apprehensive.

    “Yes?” said Will.

    “Aaron and I are a couple!” she said, smiling and taking Aaron’s hand.

    Will looked at the ceiling and sighed with relief.

    “Finally!” he sighed. “I was wondering when you were going to tell me!”

    Karen’s smile faltered.

    “You…knew?” she said uncomfortably.

    “Of course!” said Will. “The way you two acted…your strange stiff way of sitting next to me…it was completely obvious that you two made out in front of a crowd.”

    “We didn’t make out,” muttered Karen. Her ears were red. She shook herself. “But that doesn’t matter. How do you feel about this?”

    “I’m definitely cool with it!” said Will, looking very happy. “You two were made for each other!”

    “It took HER a little while to figure that out,” whispered Aaron loudly.

    “Don’t even get me started,” muttered Karen.

    With a large weight off her chest, Karen led the way out of the National Park and a few steps closer to Ecruteak and the fourth Gym.
    [hr]
    Chapter Thirteen
    Have Eusine Suicune?

    They walked into Ecruteak City, an old and historic city. Something about the place just left one feeling sad and maybe a little creeped out.

    A Pokémon Gym was standing within sight. There was a Pokémon Center, a shop, and two large towers. Something affected Will a little strangely, though. There was a sign that proclaimed “Ecruteak City” on a tiny corner of a huge patch of dirt. There was nothing on the spot of land, though it was surely big enough for a house. It saddened Will to wonder what had been there before. Was there a house there? If so, what had happened to it?

    He was pulled from these melancholy thoughts after a short period of time, however, as he was traveling with Karen and Aaron, the latter of which was only quiet when sleeping. And sometimes not even then. Will rolled his eyes to recall an incident in which Aaron had begun shouting in his sleep and—but that is an incident perhaps best left for later.

    Or never.

    “We should go check out the tower,” suggested Will.

    “Which one?” said Karen. “The intact one that’s said to be home to a horribly powerful creature or the rickety and burned down one?”

    Will frowned.

    “Never mind.”

    Aaron looked up at the Pokémon Center. A small Weedle, hanging from the doorframe, was wrapping itself in a thick shell of string. Aaron murmured, “Sweet, a cocoon.”

    “You there!” shouted a voice right behind Aaron. He turned around quickly, startled.

    “What?”

    Behind him was a very theatrically dressed boy about their own age, with a purple suit and a cape. He had three PokéBalls at his waist.

    “You’ve seen it, haven’t you?” said the boy excitedly. “You saw the Pokémon I’ve been looking for! Admit it!”

    “Umm, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Aaron.

    The boy groaned in frustration.

    “The Pokémon of the pure water! The life-giver! The canine beast so wickedly fast that no one in history has ever managed to catch it! Sightings are few and far…ever so far…between… But you, just now, said its name! You must have seen it! Where did it go?”

    Karen looked sideways at Aaron, who was looking at the boy with a bewildered expression.

    “Huh?” he said, perplexed. “Which Pokémon is that?”

    The boy glared at him.

    “SUICUNE!” the boy shouted dramatically. “THE POKÉMON OF PURE WATER! THE LIFE-GIVER! THE CANINE BEAST SO WICKEDLY—”

    “Yeah, yeah, we get it,” grumbled Aaron. “But I didn’t say ‘Suicune’. I said ‘sweet, a cocoon’.” He pointed up at the Weedle, now a Kakuna, hanging from the doorframe.

    The boy looked up at the Kakuna, then back at Aaron, then back at the Kakuna, then back at Aaron.

    “So you didn’t see…?” he said hopefully.

    “NO,” said Aaron firmly.

    The boy sighed and hung his head.

    “It’s the same everywhere I go,” he said mournfully. “Everywhere, I hear ‘Suicune was just here’ or ‘wow, did you see how fast it was?’ or ‘look at that freaky kid’. It is my ultimate life dream to find and capture Suicune. The day I accomplish that, my friends, will be my glory day!” he said, his eyes suddenly ablaze. “The day I accomplish that…I will have lived a full, complete, happy life!” His face darkened a bit. “That day, I fear, may never come, if you would like to know the truth…”

    The trio blinked a few times, staring with incredulity at this strange boy.

    “So…have you ever seen Suicune?” inquired Karen interestedly.

    “Ah,” said the boy, his eyes shining again. “Indeed I have, my good lady. That was the most rewarding and gratifying day of my entire life. It is because of that sighting that I will search all across Johto, and perhaps even beyond, to catch one more glimpse of that extraordinary, breathtaking creature. I will never be fully satisfied until the beautiful Suicune rests at my waist in a PokéBall.” He shook himself, and the fire in his eyes died down. “Well, my friends,” he continued. “I never did get your names. You are?” he said to Aaron.

    “Aaron,” said Aaron importantly.

    “Aaron…” murmured the boy. “You?” he inquired of Will.

    “Will,” said Will flatly.

    “Will…” said the boy. “What about…you?” he asked of Karen.

    “Karen,” said Karen, looking a bit wary of the boy, as if he was perhaps mentally deranged.

    “Fantastic!” said the boy, smiling. “Good-bye, then!” He began to walk away.

    “Wait!” called Will after him. The boy stopped.

    “What is it?” he said a bit impatiently. “I have to track down Suicune at top speed, my friend. Absolute top.”

    “Yes, but you can’t just get our names and walk away!” said Karen, a stupefied expression on her face. “At least give us yours or something!”

    “Ah, it is my name you wish to know?” said the boy, smiling wryly, as if he had been waiting for them to ask. “I am Eusine! Sworn tracker of the Pokémon Suicune!” said the boy with a faraway look in his eye. “I must be going now…you’ll have to excuse me. Good luck to you all, and may we meet again, Aaron, Will, and Karen!” he said mysteriously, and ran out of Ecruteak City to track the Pokémon pure water, the life-giver, the canine beast so wickedly fast that no one in history had ever managed to catch it.

    The trio stared after him in silence for a moment.

    “That guy,” said Aaron frankly, “was a COMPLETE whack job.”

    “He was a bit strange, wasn’t he?” said Will thoughtfully.

    “I think it’s neat that he’d travel alone all over Johto to find one Pokémon,” said Karen musingly. “But he seems a little obsessed.”

    They stood there in silence for a second longer, then they all shook themselves.

    “Aaron, Will and I are going to check out the town,” said Karen. “How long do you think it will take for you to win a Fog Badge?”

    “An hour, maybe,” said Aaron, shrugging.

    “Alright, then,” said Karen decisively. “We won’t book rooms, then. Maybe we can be in and out of this depressing town within the day.”

    “Got it,” said Aaron, and headed towards the Gym.

    Karen and Will looked around the town for a few minutes. Will left Karen to go to the PokeMart. Karen wandered about for a bit. A large crowd was gathering outside the Ecruteak Dance Theater. She walked inside and watched as five Kimono Girls danced and battled their Pokémon artfully and elegantly.

    The Kimono Girls danced unlike anything she had ever seen. It was quite entrancing.

    That’s amazing, thought Karen, her eyes wide.

    “Yes,” said a boy of their age who was standing near her. “They’re very beautiful, aren’t they?” he continued a little sadly. There was something bittersweet in his voice.

    Karen took a good look at this stranger. He had piercing blue eyes. He was rather strange to look at. He gave off a distinct aura of awkwardness, but in a likable sort of way. He was holding with one arm a notebook that had a pencil placed inside its spiral binding.

    “Who are you?” asked Karen curiously.

    “Me?” laughed the strange boy. “I’m no one. I really don’t belong here.”

    Karen looked at him, confused.

    “Okay, then,” she said, a little awkwardly. “I’m Karen, and I’m here with my friends, Aaron and—”

    “Will,” finished the strange boy. “Believe me, I know who you are. It’s strange to think that you don’t know me…” He sighed sadly, and then he walked out of the theater.

    “Wait!” said Karen, running after him. “Where are you going?” she said, confused again.

    The strange boy gave a sad sort of half-smile and replied, “Goldenrod. I need to meet with an old friend. And from there…” he said, and threw his hands up in the air. “…Anywhere. Who knows? Who can tell, really?” he said, and laughed a little bit. “It was nice to see you,” he said sincerely, “but I have to leave.”

    And with that, the strange boy walked away, leaving Karen with more questions than answers. She decided to forget about it and walked instead to the Gym. Will was already waiting there with Aaron. Aaron offered his hand and they walked out of Ecruteak together, Will at their side.
    [hr]
    Chapter Fourteen
    I Heard it Through the Olivine

    They continued on Route 38 for some time, then set up camp and stayed the night. When they rose, Aaron had a runny nose and was coughing loudly.

    “I think I might have a cold, you guys,” he said when he finished. “Did either of you give me some sort of bug?”

    “I certainly did not,” said Karen, rolling her eyes. “You don’t see me wheezing like a school bus, do you?”

    “I guess not,” said Aaron, wiping his nose.

    “Plus, Professor Elm’s the only one who’s ever given you a bug… but if I recall, you seemed to want that one,” said Will.

    “True,” concurred Aaron.

    They walked silently across the scenery and soon came upon a little farm. A small girl was waving her arms frantically at them. She called in a southern accent, “Y’all three! Over here!” Aaron, Will, and Karen looked at one another, shrugged, and walked over to the little girl.

    “You folks wouldn’t happen to have any Oran Berries, would you, now?” asked the little girl anxiously.

    The trio looked at one another, then dug into their bags and pulled out their Berry Pouches.

    “I have three,” said Karen.

    “I have two,” said Will.

    “I have two,” said Aaron.

    “That’s great!” said the little girl. “This is gonna sound awful rude, but y’all wouldn’t mind givin’ those Oran Berries to a needy soul, would you?”

    “What kind of needy soul?” said Will curiously.

    “Our Miltank’s been real sick lately,” said the girl, looking sad. “She stopped givin’ milk and everythin’. But,” she continued, and her face brightened, “we figure that Miltank’ll surely get better if we give it enough Oran Berries! Those are healthful to Pokémon, you know.”

    “So, you want us to give our Oran Berries to your Miltank?” said Karen. They all looked at each other a third time. Karen shrugged. “Why not? It’s going to a needy soul, after all.”

    “Just follow me right through here,” said the small girl, and led them to a barn at the side of the farmhouse. “But,” she added, “could you stay outside, green-hair? You seem pretty sick yourself, and I wouldn’t want Miltank to get any worse.”

    “I don’t mind,” said Aaron, and the others went inside to coax Miltank to eat.

    He wasn’t waiting long before he saw an odd pair. Margaret, the Goldenrod Gym Leader, was walking hand in hand with a strange-looking boy. He looked pretty awkward, but his bright blue eyes were noticeable from quite a distance. He carried a notebook that had a pencil stuck inside its spiral binding in his other hand. Aaron thought it was pretty strange that someone Margaret’s league would be walking with this odd person.

    “Hi, Margaret!” called Aaron loudly. Margaret glanced right, then left, then finally saw Aaron and her hand rushed out of the Strange Boy’s.

    “Howdy, Aaron!” said Margaret, looking radiant. “How’s the Gym challenge comin’ along?”

    “Great, actually,” said Aaron. He looked to her companion. “I don’t think we’ve met,” he said to the Strange Boy, frowning as he tried to remember. “I’m pretty sure I would remember you, and I don’t. Strange, though…it seems like I know you.”

    The Strange Boy scrutinized Aaron and smiled.

    “You’re exactly how I thought you’d be,” he said, looking pleased. “No, we haven’t met before. Well, not exactly.”

    “So, who are you?” said Aaron curiously.

    Margaret glanced at the Strange Boy briefly.

    “He’s…” she began, but the Strange Boy cut her off.

    “I’m still nobody,” said the Strange Boy, grinning broadly. “It doesn’t really matter. I don’t think that you’ll see me again, Aaron…” he continued, his smile faltering a bit.

    Aaron blinked. Who was this psycho?

    “Okay, then,” said Aaron, frowning. “So, what are you guys doing here?”

    “Just walking,” said Margaret, smiling.

    “Margaret’s an old friend of mine,” said the Strange Boy with a wry smile. “We were just…” (now it was his turn to glance at her) “…catching up.”

    “Okay,” said Aaron, though he really didn’t understand.

    “Hmm…” said the Strange Boy, who was still watching Aaron intently. “Is there something bothering you, Aaron?”

    “Not really, except this stupid cold,” said Aaron, wiping his nose irritably.

    “Cold,” repeated the Strange Boy, frowning. “Okay.” He opened his notebook to about one-quarter of the way in, and made a note of something. He then shut it and returned the pencil to the spiral binding. “Well, Aaron, it was nice to finally meet you,” said the Strange Boy with another dry smile. “But we’d better be getting back to Goldenrod.”

    “Bye, Aaron,” said Margaret in a friendly way. The two set off and within a few seconds were gone.

    As he waited for Will and Karen to exit the barn, Aaron took note that the air here smelled really fresh. It really gave one a sense of—hold on. He could smell.

    Aaron frowned again. His nose wasn’t stuffed up or runny. He swallowed once and his throat didn’t ache. Hs cold was gone.

    Before he had much time to wonder about this, though, Karen and Will came out. Karen said happily, “We cured the Miltank, Aaron!”

    “That’s great,” said Aaron, puzzled. He shook himself. “Cool. Well, Olivine City is just south of here. Let’s go, shall we?”

    “Of course!” said Will. “They have a huge lighthouse there! We could check it out after you battle the Gym Leader!”

    “Definitely,” said Aaron distractedly. He led the way to Olivine, and the ocean air cleared his head. He looked around at all the sights of the port city.

    “Hey!” he said suddenly. “They have a huge lighthouse here! We could check it out after I battle the Gym Leader!”

    Will looked at him strangely.

    “What?” said Aaron.

    “Umm…great idea, that’s all…” said Will.

    They all healed their Pokémon at the Pokémon Center, and Karen and Will again chose to wait outside the Gym. Aaron exited about thirty minutes later, an enormous bee Pokémon at his side.

    “What is…that?” asked Karen, repulsed.

    “My Combee evolved while it was facing an Aggron!” said Aaron happily. “Now it’s a Vespiquen!”

    “Great…” muttered Karen, but Will said, “That’s really cool!”

    “Let’s hit the Lighthouse, shall we?” said Aaron enthusiastically.

    They headed for the Lighthouse. Inside, it was very dark; the only sources of light were dim lamps hanging every six feet and the windows only reminded them of the late hour. They climbed for quite a while, the huge, winding stairs looking quite daunting (there was unfortunately no elevator installed at the time).

    At the top, they gasped. The view was breathtaking. Olivine City lay out before them like a map, with tiny cars flashing their tiny headlights and honking their tiny horns. On the east side, the trio could just make out the Bell Tower of Ecruteak, and a large bird Pokémon was flying around it, glowing brighter than the sun. To the south, they saw the Whirl Islands, and Will could have sworn he saw a gargantuan bird Pokémon diving into one of the whirlpools, but no Pokémon came back out. To the west, the enormous Battle Frontier and, a little to the south, they could make out Cianwood City.

    “This is amazing!” said Karen, stunned.

    “Wow,” snorted a voice behind them. “You could be out raising your Pokémon, and you decided to come up here and enjoy the view?”

    “Hello, Lucian,” said Will politely. “Care to join us? Cynthia and Norman would of course be free to as well.”

    “Cynthia and Norman…aren’t here right now,” said Lucian, looking a little put-out.

    “They’re not?” said Aaron, looking confused. “Where are they?”

    Lucian swallowed.

    “Probably halfway across the Hoenn region by now,” said Lucian with difficulty.

    “Weren’t you three traveling together?” said Will, bewildered.

    “They left you, huh,” said Karen pityingly. It wasn’t a question.

    Lucian nodded in a withdrawn sort of way.

    “Why did they leave?” said Aaron in shock.

    “Because I’m Lucian,” said Lucian bitterly. “The cruel jerk who doesn’t care about anyone but himself.” He looked over to the Bell Tower. The bird Pokémon was gone. “They got…fed up with me. Not many people can stand me for too long.” He smiled joylessly. “I was wondering how long it would take them.” He sank into a chair and put his head in his hands. “I have no friends again,” he said. “Story of my life.”

    There was a silence as Will, Aaron, and Karen processed this new knowledge, looking at each other with wide eyes.

    Finally, the three walked over to him. Aaron pulled him out of the chair.

    “You’ve got friends in us, Lucian,” said Karen.

    “Definitely,” said Will.

    “Anyone who’s put through that stuff deserves a better group,” agreed Aaron.

    “Why don’t you come with us?” suggested Karen.

    “No,” said Lucian before the words were out of her mouth. He laughed bitterly. “I couldn’t do that to you guys. I’d only hold you back.”

    “You don’t have a choice,” said Will. “You’re coming.”

    “I really can’t do that,” said Lucian.

    “You’re coming with us whether you like it or not,” said Aaron matter-of-factly. “So get used to it. We’re your new traveling companions. I’m Aaron, that’s Karen, and that’s Will.”

    A cry of objection came from Smoochum, who was out of its PokéBall to enjoy the view.

    “And that’s Smoochum,” added Aaron, rolling his eyes. He leaned over and whispered loudly, “AVOID HER AT ALL COSTS.” Then he glanced around. “So, Lucian, what do you say?” he said, offering his hand.

    Lucian considered the hand, then smiled at its owner and shook.
    The Will to Go On--you should read it.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Northern Georgia [/oxymoron]
    Posts
    13

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    Chapter Fifteen
    Lucian’s Big Mistake

    “So, where do we go next, Kare?” said Aaron, walking a little ahead of her.

    Karen was frowning at a map of Johto.

    “Cianwood City seems like a good choice. There’s a Pokémon Gym there.”

    “Great!” said Aaron happily. “How you coming, Lucian?”

    Lucian was walking behind everyone, sulking. He was not used to waking up as early as our trio did.

    “My feet are killing me,” he moaned. “It’s too hot out, and it’s still early in the day. It’ll get even hotter later.”

    Will glanced at Aaron, his eyebrows raised.

    Aaron looked angry for a second, but swallowed and said, “That’s nice. I’m sure it’ll get cooler later on.”

    “I doubt it,” said Lucian sulkily.

    Aaron swallowed again.

    “Okay,” said Karen, “we need to cross the ocean to reach Cianwood. Any ideas?”

    “We could get Slowbro to carry us there,” said Will.

    “Water?” whined Lucian. “I hate traveling over water. I get seasick.”

    Aaron swallowed again.

    “I’m sure you’ll be fine,” was all he said.

    Will released his Slowbro into the water and they all climbed atop it, Lucian in a reluctant manner.

    They rode on peacefully for some time, Lucian muttering all the while. Every once in a while they could make out words like “ridiculous” and “seasick” and “fools”.

    “And who wants to ride on a Slowbro, anyway?” complained Lucian. “It’s uncomfortable and not fast at all.”

    Aaron looked dangerously mad for a second, then swallowed again and said, “Well, at least you don’t have to walk and hurt your feet.”

    “Small comfort,” grumbled Lucian, and Aaron swallowed yet again and said, “But the sea breeze is so nice!”

    Lucian sniffed and said, “It’s too cold. I’ll get hypothermia and die.”

    Aaron just swallowed for the umpteenth time and remained silent.

    Finally, they reached Cianwood City. The day was beautiful. They climbed off of Slowbro, who followed them out of the water. It looked happy and dull as usual. They found several Carvanha with their teeth digging into Slowbro’s underside. It hadn’t noticed.

    Will smiled affectionately and called it back. The Carvanha fell to the ground, where they flopped about somewhat uselessly.

    “Are we finally there?” griped Lucian. “That trip was a nightmare. I hope we have a different way of getting back to Olivine.”

    Aaron swallowed again—Will figured his throat must have been getting sore by that time—and simply said, “Yes, we’re there.”

    “Oh my God,” breathed Will, and everyone turned to look.

    The legendary Pokémon Suicune stood before them, looking out over the ocean, and appearing elegant and superior. It actually shone with a bright light, and all three of them were mesmerized.

    “Is that…” murmured Karen, but she found that she couldn’t complete her sentence.

    “I think it is…” said Aaron, his eyes wide.

    “Suicune…” said Will softly.

    “Friends!” said a delighted voice behind them. They all broke free of their trances and saw Eusine running to them.

    “Eusine,” whispered Karen. “Look.”

    Eusine turned to see Suicune staring right at him. The noble Pokémon nodded its head before dashing away across the water at top speed. It was gone within a few seconds.

    “Suicune,” moaned Eusine with delight. “The Pokémon of pure water…the life-giver…the canine beast so wickedly fast…”

    “…that no man in history has ever been able to catch it,” finished Karen with a faraway look in her eye. “Yes… I can see why you want so much to capture it, Eusine,” she said with a slightly dreamy tone.

    “Ah,” said Eusine, grinning. “You now see that I am not crazy, miss. I am very justified in chasing that wonderful beast.”

    Karen shook herself and said, “Yes…well. So, what brings you here, Eusine?” she said, looking interested.

    “What else, miss, but the aforementioned Pokémon of pure water?” said Eusine brightly. “I am getting better at this! I meet you three, and I see Suicune for the second time in my life!”

    “You’ve devoted your life to chasing that thing?” snorted Lucian. “What a waste! I’d hardly call it a life! That was the most boring, plain-looking Pokémon I’ve ever seen! My Ralts has more class!”

    “Shut up,” advised Will quietly.

    Aaron swallowed.

    “Ah,” said Eusine, his grin fading. “Who is this friend of my friends?”

    “This is Lucian,” said Karen, glancing at Aaron; he didn’t open his mouth. Possibly he didn’t trust himself to speak.

    “Hello, Lucian,” said Eusine, taking his hand and shaking it. “What a pity it is that you don’t appreciate Suicune’s otherworldly beauty.”

    “Otherworldly beauty?” chortled Lucian. “You must have a screw loose, kid!”

    Eusine was definitely not smiling now; rather, he looked quite insulted.

    “I’m sorry if I offend you, your rudeness,” he said icily. “Either way, I must be going now.” He glanced at the trio behind him. “I do not understand why you travel with this lowlife, but you all deserve better than him—you especially, madam,” he said to Karen. He collected himself and walked away.

    “Are you out of your freakin’ mind?” shrieked Karen, grabbing Lucian by the shoulders and shaking him violently. “Why the heck are you so evil?! I can’t believe I ever felt sorry for YOU! You don’t deserve my pity!”

    “You’re the biggest idiot I’ve ever met,” said Lucian calmly, rather enjoying her anger.

    Aaron tried—he really and truly tried—to swallow his anger once more. But all of the day’s anger had piled up and up and up inside of him, and this last swallow was like the tenth piece of pizza that causes one to regurgitate the original nine. All of his rage and irritation came pouring out of his mouth.

    Karen and Will took a step back as Aaron let loose with a huge—and loud—string of curses and screams. They could catch a few words here and there:

    “—BIGGEST LOWLIFE I’VE EVER MET IN MY LIFE, YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE HERE, YOU SHOULDN’T EVEN BE CONSIDERED A HUMAN BEING—”

    The other two glanced at each other, eyebrows raised.

    “—WILL’S SLOWBRO HAS MORE SENSE THAN YOU, AND I BET IT TAKES HITS BETTER THAN YOU AS WELL, DOESN’T IT, OH I WOULD LOVE TO FIND OUT, AND YOU ARE PUSHING ME OVER THE EDGE, CALLING KARE AN IDIOT WAS A HUGE MISTAKE—”

    Lucian was cowering up against a wall; although he was a few inches taller than Aaron, he was shaking in his shoes.

    “—AND I’VE BEEN PUTTING UP WITH YOU ALL DAY, BUT I CAN’T PUT UP WITH THIS FOR ANY LONGER! THIS IS IT, YOU ARE OUT, WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE YOU JUST BECAUSE YOUR LITTLE FRIENDS WALKED OUT ON YOU! YOU’RE ON YOUR FREAKIN’ OWN!”

    Lucian’s mouth fell open. He stammered a bit, and backed away towards the water. Karen and Will joined him in slowly advancing on him.

    “…you can’t do this, guys, you really can’t…I was just joking, heh heh… Seriously! Joke’s over!” He looked over his shoulder nervously. “Guys, one more step and I’m in the water…” He gulped and entered the water. “What can I possibly do now?” he whimpered.

    “SWIM!” shouted the three together, and they watched him swim frantically until he was off the horizon.

    They stood there for some time, until Will finally said, “You had better get to the Gym, Aaron.”

    “Huh?” said Aaron, looking confused. “Oh. Right.” He looked around and located the Pokémon Gym. “Do you guys want to come?” he asked.

    “I’ll come,” said Karen.

    “I will too,” offered Will.

    “Oh, but I thought you said you wanted to get some fresh air,” said Karen a little pointedly.

    “Right,” said Will, cottoning on. “Umm, I’ll just stay out here, then,” he said a little helplessly.

    “Great!” said Karen happily, and she took Aaron’s arm and walked with him to the Pokémon Gym. Will had a strange feeling that wasn’t the only place they were going, but he brought his mind to other things as he sat down on a smooth rock and stared out at the sea. Any little kids that had been playing out on the beach were inside now as the sun was setting. The only other people out was a couple, holding hands and walking slowly.

    “So…” said the girl with a very southern accent. With a bit of a jolt, Will realized it was Margaret, the Gym Leader of Goldenrod.

    “So…” said the boy with her. Upon cautious inspection, Will noted that he looked very strange. He had a few pimples dotting his unassuming face. Underneath a small mop of hair, bright blue eyes gazed into the clear blue eyes of Margaret. He looked decidedly strange, but not unlikable.

    “Listen,” said Margaret to the Strange Boy. “This time we’ve spent together…it’s been great. But…” she continued, then hesitated. “…I can’t do this anymore.”

    “Can’t do what anymore?” said the Strange Boy, his smile faltering.

    “This,” said Margaret gently. “Look, I like you. I really do. But I can’t go out with you any longer.”

    “You’re…breaking up with me?” said the Strange Boy, looking shocked.

    “Yes,” said Margaret. “Look, don’t make this difficult. You’re just not the guy for me. I really hope you understand,” she said anxiously.

    “I understand,” said the Strange Boy dejectedly.

    “I’m sorry,” said Margaret softly. “But it’s over.” She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the cheek. For a moment, she looked as though she might say something, but in the end she simply walked away, leaving him.

    The Strange Boy stood there for a moment, then finally sat down on a rock near Will, and gazed over the crashing waters, appearing to be in deep thought.

    Will wondered whether he ought to say something, but decided that it was best not to. They sat in silence for a while, and the Strange Boy finally seemed to notice him. He broke into a wide grin and said, “Will!”

    “Umm…” said Will, looking startled, “do I know you?”

    “I suppose not,” said the Strange Boy. “I knew that the others didn’t… but I thought perhaps you…Well, never mind.”

    “So, horrible luck, huh?” said Will.

    “What, you mean Margaret?” sighed the Strange Boy. “I wouldn’t call that luck. It was inevitable… Pretty sad, really.”

    “Okay, then,” said Will, more than a little confused. “So, how did that happen in the first place?”

    “How did what happen?” asked the Strange Boy.

    “You know… you and Margaret,” said Will awkwardly.

    “Well, that’s a story far too long to tell,” said the Strange Boy with a sad sort of smile. “Although I suppose if anyone can tell a long story, I can. Margaret is an old friend of mine. We were never truly meant to be.”

    “I see,” said Will, but he really didn’t.

    “I must be off, my friend,” said the Strange Boy, getting up abruptly. “I have many places to be, and Karen and Aaron should be getting back to you soon. Good luck,” he said, his piercing blue eyes meeting Will’s as they shook hands. He began to go forth, but stopped suddenly and turned around. “Oh, and truthfully, Lucian isn’t all bad,” said the Strange Boy. “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”

    He walked off, and although Will knew they had never met prior to that, he couldn’t deny that there was something familiar about the boy.

    He had little time to ponder all of this, however, as the Strange Boy was correct in thinking that Aaron and Karen were coming. They didn’t say much as they went to book rooms at the Cianwood Pokémon Center, but it wasn’t a negative silence; rather, everyone seemed to have much on their mind.

    Will wondered what the boy had meant about Lucian, but very soon fell asleep.
    [hr]
    Chapter Sixteen
    The Will to The Show Must Go On

    A few days later, our three favorite heroes—no, I’m not talking about Harry, Ron, and Hermione—were walking out of Ecruteak. They arrived on Route 42 with high spirits. Upon walking a bit, they saw a large traveling circus. Rides were set up, from the small kiddy rides to the monstrous, rickety roller coasters. The ticket booth had a small line, but there were hundreds of people inside.

    “Come on, Aaron, let’s go!” said Karen excitedly.

    “Are you sure?” said Aaron skeptically.

    “Absolutely!” she said. “It’ll be fun!”

    “For who?” muttered Aaron, but he followed her to the ticket booth. “Three tickets,” he told the portly man behind the counter. He was huge; it was a wonder he could fit into the tiny booth.

    “Seventy-five dollars,” said the man promptly.

    Aaron’s jaw dropped.

    “Seventy-five…?” he sputtered. “That’s highway robbery! There are only three of us!”

    “Right!” said the large man. “Thank you for reminding me.” He typed something into his computer and printed the check again. “Eighty-five dollars,” he said smoothly.

    Aaron turned purple and said, “What’s that for?”

    The huge man pointed to a sign near the counter. It read, “Two is plenty—three’s a crowd! Additional $10.00 fee will be charged for every person after the first two.”

    Aaron looked at the man in disbelief.

    “Are you kidding me?” he said incredulously.

    “You are the kid here,” said the man seriously. “So pay me now, or you will be forced to leave the premises.”

    Aaron grumbled something under his breath—Will could hear a few not-so-nice words—but he paid the man eighty-five dollars.

    “Don’t worry,” said Karen briskly. “Like I said, it’ll be fun!”

    “For eighty-five freakin’ dollars, it better be,” muttered Aaron.

    And so they entered the fair. Karen pointed out something every few seconds: “Ooh, Aaron, look! –it’s a snack bar!” “Look, guys! –a roller coaster!” “Look at that! –guess your weight or win a prize!” “Look!” “Look!” “Look!”

    Finally Aaron just said, “We can see it, Kare. We’re right here. You don’t need to point out every little thing.”

    “I know!” said Karen. “I’m just happy to be here!”

    “What are you doing that’s so fun?” demanded Aaron.

    “Walking and seeing the sights!” she said defensively.

    Aaron looked at Will in a “she’s completely nuts” sort of way and said to Karen, “I paid eight-five dollars so you could walk around? You can do that for free anywhere else!”

    “It’s not the same, and you know it,” said Karen, no longer smiling.

    “Do I?” said Aaron in a stressed sort of way.

    “Well, why don’t we do something, then?” said Karen angrily. “If you want to so bad?”

    “Because you’re having too much fun enjoying the sights!” shouted Aaron.

    “Friends, let’s not argue!” said a voice quite near them. Will, Karen, and Aaron turned to see Eusine, grinning broadly.

    “Hi, Eusine!” said Karen, forgetting her argument and making a smile to match his.

    “Hello, miss!” said Eusine, bowing deeply. “And hello to my other friends as well! Are you having fun at this place?”

    “You’re looking for trouble,” said Aaron warningly, and Karen flashed daggers at him.

    “We absolutely are,” she said. “Are you here with anyone?” she asked.

    “No,” said Eusine. “Surely you jest—you know that I have no companions on my solitary journey! That’s what makes it solitary!”

    “How is your journey a card game?” said Aaron, very confused.

    Karen rolled her eyes.

    “So…” said Will, breaking the silence. “…Is there anything you wanted to do?”

    “That looks cool!” said Karen enthusiastically. She was pointing at a small tent with a sign in front that read “Want to know your future? Ready to be amazed? Come to the PSYCHIC tent, free of charge!”

    “Why do you need a psychic?” said Aaron curiously. “We already have Will.”

    “Those visions have been stopping lately,” said Will suddenly. “I haven’t had one since the night my Hypno went berserk.”

    “Let’s just go in!” said Karen, dragging her friends inside. Eusine waved them off and ran somewhere else.

    In the tent, there was a boy sitting at a small table. He was absentmindedly writing in a notebook. His blue eyes lit up the darkness.

    “You!” gasped all three of them.

    “Me,” said the Strange Boy. He smiled wryly. “So, come to have your fortunes told, have you?”

    They were all gaping at him.

    “I guess so,” laughed the Strange Boy. “Well, if you want to do that, I would like to see you all separately. Will first, please.”

    Karen and Aaron looked at him strangely as they walked out of the room.

    “Will,” said the Strange Boy, smiling. “Hmm. How ironic is it that you of all people are at a psychic’s tent.” He laughed. “That’s perfectly fine, though.” He took out a deck of tarot cards and spread them facedown on the table. “Pick three, please,” he said, still smiling.

    Will picked three of the cards and set them aside.

    “Excellent choices,” said the Strange Boy. He flipped over the first one. “Hmm…” he said, frowning. “Strength. You have a great destiny… But we both knew that.” He flipped over the second one. “Chariot—long journey. Again, obvious.” He flipped over the final one. “Justice. You shall get your dues in the end.”

    The Strange Boy sat awhile in thought, then finally announced, “Bring me Karen.”

    Karen entered the tent after Will had departed. She looked a little nervous.

    “Sit down,” said the Strange Boy. She obliged. “Pick three cards, Karen,” he said.

    She took three cards and handed them to the Strange Boy.

    He flipped over the first one. “The Lovers… there is someone very dear to your heart,” said the Strange Boy, smiling wryly again. “Judgment… Oh yes, you will have to choose… And finally, World. The sky is the limit with you, is it not?” said the Strange Boy, blue eyes shining brightly. “Bring me Aaron, please.”

    Will left to find that it was dusk outside, really almost completely dark. He delivered the message; Aaron walked through the door a moment later and sat down.

    “Pick three,” suggested the Strange Boy, and Aaron did as he was told. The Strange Boy flipped them over. “The Fool… of course, you can’t help being who you sometimes are… The Star… there is one big bright light in your life, I must say… and finally, Death.” Aaron looked up at the Boy, alarmed, but the Strange Boy merely said, “Comes to us all in time. Could mean…nothing at all… Aaron, could you bring me Will again?” Startled, Aaron left and sent Will back inside.

    “I apologize, Will…” said the Strange Boy apologetically, “but I can’t permit you to remember this meeting… You’ll understand…”

    “Wait, what?” said Will.

    The Strange Boy reached for a PokéBall and released a Hypno. It stood face to face with Will, waving its pendulum sideways. Will found himself unconscious within a few seconds. He was dimly aware of someone murmuring instructions in his ear, but soon those words were locked in his subconscious. The Strange Boy sat him in a chair behind the tent, then entered again and called outside, “Aaron, here, please!”

    Aaron entered to find the Strange Boy looking a bit pitifully at him. “Sit, Aaron.”

    “What are you doing now?” said Aaron curiously.

    “It’ll all be over soon,” was the Strange Boy’s reply. Aaron suddenly saw a shining, silvery thing, in motion back and forth, and suddenly everything grew fuzzy…



    “Karen!” called the Strange Boy, and she timidly walked back inside.

    “Where are the other two?” she asked hesitantly.

    “Sit, please,” said the Strange Boy firmly. She sat down.

    “What are you doing?” she asked, somewhat frightened but not about to show it.

    “Nothing,” said the Strange Boy soothingly. “Just relax, please…”

    “Relax?” said Karen suspiciously. “Why—?” Suddenly, Hypno loomed over her and she cowered into her chair. “Help,” she whimpered.

    “Just look at Hypno…” said the Strange Boy. He hated to do this, but it was absolutely necessary. “I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have to, Karen,” he said gently.

    “No…” she whispered.

    The Hypno locked eyes with her and swung its pendulum seductively in front of her eyes… she was slipping into unconsciousness… she had to fight it… she struggled to keep her eyes open…

    The next thing she knew, she was being carried down a long route by Aaron. It was early in the morning, she could see glimmers of a sunrise barely peeking over the horizon.

    “What happened…” she croaked groggily.

    “We don’t know,” admitted Aaron. “Will and I woke up in chairs behind the Psychic tent… funny, though, I don’t think we ended up going in there…”

    “Okay…” she mumbled. She slipped back into sleep once more as they approached Mahogany Town.
    [hr]
    Chapter Seventeen
    A Most Interesting Meeting

    Lucian was walking angrily down Route 39. Those idiots. Why had he ever thought that they were all right? They were just idiots, all of them. Just like everybody else.

    It was official. There was no one he could turn to. He could only depend on himself.

    Except…

    Not everyone was an idiot. Not everyone. Lucian’s heart shrank as he thought of his now-gone love. She would never love him in return.

    You can’t trust anyone, Lucian thought bitterly. He should have learned this lesson long ago.

    A small group of boys and girls were running around, chasing each other and screaming with laughter.

    “Tag!” shouted a little Asian boy, tapping a girl on her shoulder and running away at full speed. “You’re it!”

    Tag, thought Lucian wistfully. I remember…

    “Alex!” squealed the little girl. Her blue eyes shone in the almost-night air, her brown hair streaming behind her as she ran after the boy. “I’ll get you for that!”

    She laughed joyfully and ran right in to Lucian. He leered down at her.

    “Sorry, mister!” she giggled. She reached out and struck Lucian on his knee (that was about her face height). “Tag, you’re it!”

    Lucian clenched his teeth, reached out, and pushed the little girl. She fell down and looked up with frightened shock.

    “You’re it!” he shouted, and stormed away. Behind him, he heard the little girl begin to cry. He felt a twinge of guilt, which was quickly brushed away.

    It suddenly grew dark, and the full moon was his only source of light as he approached Ecruteak. Suddenly, walking towards him was a boy about his own age. Like the little girl, he had blue eyes, though his were a more solemn, sincere, bright color. He held at his side a spiral notebook. He was walking with an air of purpose—but it didn’t seem as though he were going anywhere in particular.

    The Strange Boy walked past Lucian, then suddenly stopped. He turned around and ran up to meet him.

    “Lucian…” said the Strange Boy, now walking at an even pace with him. “Lucian…”

    “Yes,” snapped Lucian irritatedly. “That would be me. Is there anything you wanted, or can you go away now?”

    “I shall go away soon enough, trust me,” said the Strange Boy somewhat grimly. “I had a feeling I would be seeing you soon.”

    “How do you know who I am?” demanded Lucian.

    “I just know,” said the Strange Boy simply, and Lucian somehow didn’t feel the need to question the matter any longer.

    “So why are you here?” said Lucian after a period of silence.

    “I don’t know,” said the Strange Boy, his blue eyes piercing Lucian. They gave Lucian an uncomfortable feeling of being put under a bright light, as if the Strange Boy was looking into his soul. “There must be a reason, or I wouldn’t have come.”

    “That doesn’t make sense,” said Lucian angrily. He already disliked the Strange Boy.

    “It may not to you,” said the Strange Boy matter-of-factly. “But it does.”

    “I haven’t the slightest idea what you are talking about,” said Lucian shortly.

    “There’s something bothering you,” said the Strange Boy. It wasn’t a question. “You don’t need to relive the experience. I already know. But I’m here to advise you in times when…you need it.”

    “I don’t need advice,” said Lucian. “Ever,” he added defiantly, realizing how childish this sounded.

    “Alright,” said the Strange Boy calmly. “I have some to offer—just for you to keep in mind, in case you ever do need some.”

    “What is it?” said Lucian impatiently.

    “Anyone and anything can be forgiven, Lucian,” said the Strange Boy gently. “The world is not as out to get you as you might think.”

    “How do you know?” cried Lucian suddenly, with despair. “You have no idea what I’ve been through—the things I’ve seen—you—you—I hate you!” he said with as much anger as he could muster. “You don’t know anything about me and I’m not about to let you tell me how to live my life! Get out of here!” he said, but he looked deeply troubled, as if the Strange Boy’s words had upset him.

    The Strange Boy only raised his eyebrows and continued to walk.

    “Why don’t you try being nice for a change?” he said finally. “Look at the glass as half-full. People will like you. It will do you good.”

    “How do you know?” whispered Lucian wretchedly. “How do you know things won’t go horribly wrong? They—they all still hate me, I’m sure of it. I know they do.”

    The Strange Boy stopped and pulled Lucian aside.

    “Lucian,” he said softly. “There’s only one way to find out, my friend.”

    With that, he nodded in acknowledgment and walked away abruptly.

    Tears of hatred and misery welled in Lucian’s eyes. My friend

    There was no way she would ever again think of him like that… No one would. He was sure of it. And yet…

    Something was nagging at the back of Lucian’s mind. She had thanked him…befriended him when no one else would…

    But how could someone…like her…ever, ever love a beast like him? he thought bitterly as he entered Ecruteak.

    If only… he thought wistfully.

    There was absolutely no chance of love from his one, his only…Karen.
    [hr]
    Chapter Eighteen
    Coffee Shop Conversations

    Karen shivered, inching closer to Aaron as they walked to Mahogany Gym. It was definitely getting colder; it was already December—and Christmas was quickly approaching.

    Christmas…

    Aaron walked into the Gym alone, relying on nothing but his friends’ “good lucks” for victory.

    Will and Aaron entered the local coffee shop in hopes of finding something hot to drink. There was the typical café crowd—a couple chatted happily in one corner. Two businessmen talked earnestly, immersed in conversation. A man sitting by himself stared thoughtfully into a coffee that had been long gone. Another man, this one very young, sipped his favorite coffee—one that he got every day, in fact—while typing on a laptop. Will looked curiously at the screen, but could only make out a few phrases. The words “Aspirations of an Emperor” headed the page, but the rest was blocked and Will felt it would be rude to engage the young man in conversation. Minimized on the screen was a tab that read “NSM Forums – Index”. Karen touched Will on the shoulder lightly and asked him what he wanted, breaking him from his thoughts. He and Karen bought a coffee each and sat in a booth together, the pink on their noses the only color on their faces.

    “Hey…” said Will slowly. “Isn’t that…?”

    Eusine was buying himself a drink at the counter. He paid the barista and turned around.

    “Eusine!” said Karen, waving. “Over here!”

    Eusine grinned broadly and came to their booth.

    “Ah, hello, my friends!” he said happily. “Might I take a seat?”

    “We insist,” said Will, and Eusine sat down next to Karen.

    “So, friends,” said Eusine, “what brings you here?”

    “Aaron is taking the Pokémon Gym challenge,” said Will.

    “Oh, really?” said Eusine, looking mildly interested. “And you, madam, are all right with that?”

    “Of course,” said Karen, puzzled. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

    “Well…I only wondered…” said Eusine, looking as if he wished he had not spoken. “Anyway, all that matters is that we are here, no?”

    “I suppose,” said Karen. “How goes the search for Suicune?”

    “Ah, not so good, miss,” said Eusine, his smile fading a little. “A sighting here…a sighting there… but they do not connect, if you catch what I throw. I am hunting all over the region… and yet Suicune stays in the same place no longer than a minute—no longer, I say! It is all very confusing, but I feel that it will be worth it, miss…yes, indeed.”

    “That’s good,” said Will, wanting to take part in the conversation. “At least you’re really enthusiastic about what you’re doing.”

    “That I am, my friend, that I am,” said Eusine.

    Suddenly the PokeGear that was clipped onto Eusine’s pocket started beeping. He jumped and pressed a button on it.

    “Sorry, my friends, but I must go!” he said apologetically, racing out the door with Suicune-like speed. “Till next time, miss!”

    “Bye,” said Karen, but he was already gone.

    They sat drinking their coffees for a silent moment.

    “He’s always nice,” said Will. “Not a mean bone in his body.”

    “Not one,” agreed Karen.

    They sat in silence for a little longer, then the shop door’s bell broke them from their thoughts. A couple was walking in—Oh, no, thought Will in an annoyed way. Not him again…

    “What do you want, then?” asked the awkward boy with bright blue eyes and a spiral notebook at his side.

    “I’ll take just a hot chocolate, please,” said Margaret of Goldenrod, her teeth chattering.

    “Right…” said the Strange Boy. He walked up to the counter and said to the barista, “She’ll have a hot chocolate…and I’ll have…” He scanned the menu in a criticizing sort of way. “…I suppose I’ll have an iced cappuccino,” he said. Both the barista and Margaret looked at him incredulously.

    “What?” he asked self-consciously.

    “You’re having a frozen drink? In this weather?” said Margaret, looking at the Strange Boy as if he was crazy—which, Will decided, he already was.

    “You know where I’m from,” said the Strange Boy, rolling his eyes. “Besides, I could never turn down an icecap.” He paid the barista—he looked slightly confused while handling the money—and they started to head towards the seating area. The Strange Boy paused at the young man who was typing on the laptop, nodded in acknowledgement and said, “Grapefruit” while smiling in that annoyingly superior way of his.

    “Quick,” hissed Karen. “Put your head down and act like you don’t notice them.”

    Karen herself turned away to look out the window, becoming interested in a bird Pokémon flying overhead.

    “Hey, guys!” called Margaret happily. Karen groaned.

    “Hi!” said Will, forcing himself to smile.

    “Well, this has been nice, Will,” said Karen, a little pointedly, standing up quickly. “But Aaron’s probably finished with his Gym battle right now.”

    She dragged him out of the shop, the Strange Boy looking after her in a thoughtful way.

    “Ugh, that last thing I needed was to talk to him,” Karen said, rolling her eyes.

    Will privately agreed, but was too nice to say so.

    Aaron was just walking out of the Gym (Will marveled at the fact that he never got to see those battles) and smiled at them.

    “What do you say we head west from here?” he said, and the other two agreed to go into the Ice Path.

    “Soon I’ll be done with this Gym business,” said Aaron thoughtfully, “and we’ll be members of the Elite Four. Weird, huh?”

    “Yeah…” said Karen. “Weird…”

    Thoughts of an approaching Christmas put Karen in good spirits, and she soon forgot about the coffee shop.

    Which, of course, was exactly how the Strange Boy wanted it…
    [hr]
    Chapter Nineteen
    It’s All Ice Under the Bridge

    Not surprisingly, the Ice Path was cold. One really only had to look at its name to figure that out. However, none of our travelers thought that its name might actually describe exactly what it is—a path of ice.

    “I think that we should try to get through here as qui-quickly as possible,” said Karen, her teeth chattering together.

    “Why?” said Will. “I think that Ice Pokémon would be cool to catch.” He paused. “…Get it? Cool?”

    Karen gave him a reproachful look and turned to Aaron.

    “Wh-what did you do with my j-jacket?” she managed to stammer.

    “I think you’re too cool for a jacket,” said Aaron dismissively. He paused. “…Get it? Cool?”

    “It wasn’t funny the f-first time!” she seethed, hot with anger despite her freezing body. “Give me my jacket!”

    “You don’t have one,” said Will, reading a map absently.

    “Yes I do!” she screamed.

    “Wait,” said Aaron slowly. “Do you mean that ugly, bright green one? Oh, I gave that to a homeless man I saw on the streets in Goldenrod.”

    “WHY?” shrieked Karen.

    “He looked cold,” said Aaron blankly.

    “NO!” she shouted angrily. “WHY didn’t you tell ME about it, as it was MY freaking jacket!?”

    “Well…” he said, frowning. “I thought you would get angry.”

    “Why would I be angry!” she shouted, half laughing in a maniacal, highly frightening sort of way. “ME! Imagine that, Will! ME, angry! ME! Can you even SEE why he would think that?”

    “Yes,” said Will vaguely.

    Karen glared at him, then turned away to face Aaron. Remembering that she was mad at him too, she folded her arms in a way that was half to show her anger and half because she was freezing and needed to hug herself for warmth.

    “It’s alright, Kare!” said Aaron brightly. “Look on the bright side!”

    “There IS no bright side!” she said hotly. “We are in a freezing, dark, slimy, disgusting, CAVE! A CAVE, Aaron!”

    “A cave?” said Aaron.

    “YES, AARON!” she shouted, her voice echoing. “A CAVE! A large, naturally hollowed-out place in the ground, or in rock above the ground, that can be reached from the surface or from water!”

    “I know what a cave is!” said Aaron, looking hurt. “You take me for some sort of idiot!” She merely looked at him angrily, and he said indignantly, “She thinks I’m stupid! STUPID, Will! Me! Stupid! Can you even SEE why she would think that?” he asked in an offended way.

    “Yes,” said Will vaguely. They continued to walk…and walk…and walk… until finally…

    “I see a light!” yelped Karen.

    “No!” cried Aaron in despair. “No, Kare! Not now! You can’t leave me like this! DON’T GO TOWARDS THE LIGHT!”

    “WILL YOU SHUT UP!” she screamed, and raced out of the cave and into Blackthorn City.

    Once the other two caught up with her, she was in the middle of town. Unfortunately, it was freezing outside as well, and a small flurry of snow was showering down with great gusto.

    “Come…on…” said Karen, shielding her eyes from the gently falling snow. They all trudged against the howling wind, trying to keep the snow from their eyes, when they finally arrived at the Pokémon Center.

    They all went inside the Pokémon Center, and Karen collapsed on a couch. Aaron came over and sat next to her.

    “Well…” she murmured defeatedly. “At least there’s one good thing about going through that horrible, horrible, cave.”

    “What’s that?” said Aaron, looking down at her and smiling.

    “That super annoying, arrogant kid with the blue eyes will still be back in Mahogany, meaning that there’s no way he can just pop up and give us mysterious advice and try to seem like he’s all weird and solitary…” she said bitterly.

    “He is all weird and solitary,” Aaron pointed out.

    “I know,” sighed Karen. “I just hate the way that he smiles. You look at him, and he smiles like he knows something that you don’t. Like he’s soooo intelligent and the rest of us are all fools. No…” she continued thoughtfully. “Not like we’re fools. More like…we’re all puppets. And he’s controlling our strings. You know?”

    “I don’t know,” yawned Aaron. “Interesting theory.”

    Karen sighed and sat up.

    “Anyway,” she said, “we haven’t seen Lucian in a while.”

    “Oh, him,” said Aaron resentfully. “I hope we never do again.”

    “Mmm,” said Karen uninterestedly.

    Suddenly overcome with tiredness, she yawned, leaned onto Aaron and fell asleep.



    The next morning, she awoke in a bed, apparently placed there by someone. Today was the day, she realized grimly.

    Aaron was going to obtain his eighth and final badge.

    The three of them met in the lobby of the Pokémon Center and talked for a moment.

    “Good luck,” whispered Karen as she hugged him.

    Aaron didn’t say anything, but nodded importantly. He left for the Gym, isolating the other two.

    They sat in silence for a little time, when suddenly in the door ran…

    “Professor Elm?” said Will incredulously.

    Indeed it was.

    Elm was not looking good. His hair was uncombed, and he kept running his hand through it worriedly. He looked slightly out of breath.

    “Karen! Will! Where is Aaron?” he said urgently. “I need to tell you something about the Pokémon Gym challenge, immediately.”

    “Is this what you tried to tell me through my broken PokeGear that day?” said Karen disdainfully.

    “Yes!” he said, looking distraught. “I’ve been looking all across the region for you! It seems I was always in your shadow. Everywhere I went, people had seen three kids running around, one with bright green hair. And now, I find you… But I fear it may be too late,” he finished grimly.

    “What is it?” said Karen uneasily. She had a strange nauseous feeling in her stomach, like a rider on a roller coaster does just before he takes the plunge down the hill.

    Elm began to pace back and forth.

    “As you already know, only one of you can take the Gym challenge. This is because something happened with the Johto Elite Four.” He took a deep breath, stopped pacing with, it appeared, some effort, and turned to face them. “There are only two open spots in the Johto Elite Four. However, there is an opening. If the Gym challenge was taken, and completed successfully, that would prove strength beyond belief.” He swallowed painfully. “Anyone who completes the Gym challenge in Johto has no choice but to join the Elite Four in Sinnoh, which is far more powerful than ours here. I’m very, very sorry to have to tell you this, children.”

    Karen was in an alternate reality. Everything was moving in slow motion. She heard but she didn’t quite understand. Someone, somehow, must have made a mistake. Elm must have misspoken.

    “Not…Johto?” she managed to choke out.

    “Not Johto,” confirmed Elm sadly.

    “So Aaron will be…gone?” she said woodenly.

    “I’m afraid so,” said Elm ruefully.

    Karen’s vision was blurred for a second. She wasn’t crying. It was more like her eyes chose to fill with tears; she still didn’t—couldn’t—quite believe what was happening. She wiped them, ignoring the painful lump in her throat.

    Elm stood there awkwardly, and after a moment just sat down in an armchair uncomfortably.

    Will quietly placed Karen in an armchair of her own, where she sat blankly for a long three minutes until Aaron came back into the Pokémon Center.

    “Hey, guys!” he said, grinning broadly, waving his shiny Rising Badge in the air. “Look what I…Kare, what’s wrong?” he said, noticing her and Will.

    Karen’s eyes filled with the tears that weren’t tears again as she shook her head firmly. She wasn’t sure what she was saying no to, but she couldn’t quite do anything else.

    Elm explained the situation quietly to Aaron, getting up from his armchair. Aaron turned pale with shock as the realization dawned on him.

    He sat down on the couch near Karen’s armchair and asked Elm quietly, “How long do we have?”

    “You have about three weeks,” said Elm unhappily. “The last ship to Sinnoh for six months sets sail on the first day of the new year.”

    Elm must have felt slightly out of place there, because he said an awkward goodbye and left the Pokémon Center.

    Aaron and Karen both got up and embraced each other tightly.

    “These next three weeks,” whispered Aaron promisingly, “are going to be the best of our lives.”

    Karen could still say nothing, but nodded painfully.

    She didn’t have to see him to know he was telling the truth.

    And Will, feeling that it would be prudent to leave them on their own, went off to bed, wondering…
    [hr]
    Chapter Twenty

    Exactly two weeks later, December twenty-third, several people across the Johto region—and two in a different one—received a small piece of paper with the following words typed:

    “You are invited to come to a party tomorrow night, on Christmas Eve. It will take place in Ecruteak City, at my estate—26 Isolé Avenue. Come or do not come. It is your choice. ~SB”

    Among those who received an invitation were Karen, Aaron, and Will. Karen’s read slightly different than all the others—that is, exactly the same, except it was signed “The Puppetmaster”.

    Karen gritted her teeth when she saw that—partially in annoyance, and partially because she had to give him kudos for the irony.

    The three agreed to go to the party the following night.
    The Will to Go On--you should read it.


  5. #5
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    Chapter Twenty-one
    At 26 Isolé Avenue

    Karen, Aaron, and Will were walking around Ecruteak City, attempting to locate 26 Isolé Avenue, the address of the Strange Boy’s party. It was December 24, and gently snowing.

    They arrived at Isolé Avenue and Will gave a sharp intake of breath. There was only one house—and it was standing on the piece of land which on their previous visit had been barren.

    Neither Karen nor Aaron seemed to notice, but went to the front door and knocked on it twice. Almost immediately the door was opened and the Strange Boy greeted them.

    “Welcome, friends,” said the Strange Boy with a wry smile. “Glad you could make it.”

    “Well, that makes one of us,” said Karen with a very forced smile. “Thanks for inviting us…?” she said, and then paused. “I’m sorry, I don’t believe we ever got your name,” she pointed out.

    “That is correct,” he said gravely. He led them inside without another word.

    Karen glared after him.

    “…Of all the unsatisfactory people…” she muttered under her breath, but followed Aaron and Will.

    Inside, there was a very, large, old-fashioned room. Christmas music was playing and several people were dancing to it. Will was highly surprised to see several people that he knew. In fact… Will started to look at every person individually and found that he had met almost all of them, at some time or another, during their travels.

    Bill, the young inventor of the Pokémon storage system, was talking pompously to the young boy who had been practicing Headbutt in the Ilex Forest. Near them were the irritable nurse from the Violet Pokémon Center and the old man who had talked to them about the Goldenrod Gym Leader: they were dancing together slowly and were looking as if they had never been happier. Also among the crowd were the five Kimono Girls, dancing slowly in a circle around a thin boy who was looking very bewildered. He kept trying to squeeze past one of them, but the Kimono Girls were too close together and kept advancing. Finally a tall boy, a few years older, delved into the circle and helped the boy out. Will heard the first boy stammer “Thanks, Winter,” and the second one sigh, “Don’t mention it, Jub…” and they both went to sit down with the boy from the coffee shop (Grapefruit), who had been watching the scene with some amusement. The tall boy—Winter—asked of a mischievous-looking girl, “Would you get the cards out, ETF?” ETF grinned and stuck a pencil behind her ear as she pulled out a deck of cards—and they began to play.

    In the corner, the Strange Boy was joining Margaret at an old piano and they were presently playing a simple duet. Eusine was explaining about the Pokémon Suicune to Professor Elm, with much hand motion. Elm looked a little awkward; rather, he was looking at Eusine with something that was half intrigue, half caution. The small girl whom they had helped with Oran Berries to her Miltank was sitting at a small table with the attendant from the Ruins of Alph and Margaret’s five-year-old sister, Whitney. And the man from the ticket booth at the traveling circus was sitting in an armchair near the fire, gently snoring.

    “Hey, guys,” said a slightly timid voice near them. They turned to see Lucian, looking a little sheepish.

    “Umm, hey,” said Karen cautiously. “What are you doing here?”

    “I got an invitation,” said Lucian, looking a little surprised. “And I thought I’d come…could be fun, you know…”

    “I’ll bet you don’t get invited to many parties,” said Aaron flatly.

    Karen looked over at him angrily. “Honestly, Aaron. It’s Christmas. Can’t we just be nice to him? This one night?”

    Much to Will’s surprise, Aaron laughed loudly and grabbed Lucian in a hug.

    “Just kidding, man!” he said, grinning. “Glad you could make it.”

    Lucian turned bright red and stammered something, then carefully broke free. He nodded gratefully to all of them and went to sit at a small table with Cynthia and Norman. Norman looked a little more noticeable than normal, and Cynthia looked radiant in a long dress. Aaron stared at her while walking, and as a result banged his head into a pole that rose from the floor to the ceiling. Karen laughed.

    The night wore on. Some of the older people had more than a bit to drink. Suddenly the Strange Boy turned the station on the radio, so quickly that Will was fairly sure no one else had seen him do it. The radio emitted a very strange tune, but very catchy. Abruptly, and all at once, everyone felt the inexplicable urge to dance to the music. Everyone leapt up from their seat and quickly seized the nearest dance partner; and without saying a word, they all began.

    Aaron danced with Karen. The nurse danced with the older gentleman. Winter danced with ETF. Norman danced with Cynthia. And although there were more boys than girls at the party, everyone seemed to have a partner. At the center of everyone, the Strange Boy danced with Margaret, an elegant, complex dance, all the while looking piercingly into her eyes with a wry smile on his face.

    They continued in this manner for about eight minutes, then suddenly everyone swapped partners.

    Grapefruit danced with the attendant from the Ruins of Alph. Eusine danced elegantly and confidently with Karen. Bill danced with Margaret’s five-year-old sister. Elm danced with the young girl from the farm. Nobody cared.

    Suddenly everyone swapped partners again.

    Will danced with Karen. Aaron danced with the elderly nurse. Winter danced with each of the Kimono girls in turn. Norman danced with ETF. And the boy called Jub—although he was a good few inches shorter than her and his eye level was with her chest—was dancing rather vigorously with Cynthia, who was appearing a little flustered and kept having to push Jub back an inch or two—he kept getting closer and closer…

    Eventually several people stopped dancing and sat down as the song changed to a very slow one. Will sat down on a couch, deep in thought for some time, when the Strange Boy sat down next to him. There weren’t very many people left dancing: Karen and Lucian, Aaron and the girl called ETF, and Eusine and one of the Kimono girls were among those still present. Cynthia, who had apparently been unable to escape Jub, was waltzing slowly with him, Winter and Grapefruit looking on and rolling their eyes.

    “Pretty good turnout,” said the Strange Boy happily. He set down his spiral notebook on the coffee table in front of the couch.

    “What are you always writing in that?” said Will suddenly. He had abruptly realized that he wanted to know very badly.

    The Strange Boy hesitated. He put a hand on its cover protectively. “I don’t think I’m supposed to tell you, Will.”

    “You’re not supposed to?” said Will, puzzled.

    “Would you really like to know?” said the Strange Boy finally.

    Will paused, then nodded.

    The Strange Boy handed him the notebook resignedly and sat back. Will opened the cover. It was very full—in fact, there were only a few pages left in the notebook. He flipped to the first page. It read, “Will woke with a start. Glancing around frantically…

    Will gasped.

    “I knew it!” he said in awful realization. He turned to the Strange Boy and said in a hushed voice, “You’ve been writing this…the whole time?”

    The Strange Boy nodded slowly.

    “You’ve been controlling my whole life?” Will said in horror.

    “No,” said the Strange Boy quickly. “I can’t control anything.”

    “Then why?” said Will.

    “This is how the best stories are written, Will,” said the Strange Boy, his eyes lighting up. “How can I know what happened in my story perfectly unless I was there myself? So I came.”

    “You…came?” said Will, not fully understanding.

    “Yes…” said the Strange Boy quietly. “I came. It was not that difficult. I came and I gathered facts about your life. And then…to actually meet the people I was researching…it was too much temptation. I had to approach you all…to talk to you. And I watch you all the while, taking notes on events that are happening.”

    “So,” said Will slowly, “you’re going to go back to…your world…and pass this off as your own?”

    The Strange Boy sighed.

    “Well, I don’t know about that yet, Will… I don’t think I will. I’ll show it to others, of course—for what is an author without his audience! I really don’t know.”

    “So…” said Will. “When do you have to go back?”

    “I am leaving on New Years Day,” said the Strange Boy. “And, as I understand, I might run into you there.”

    Will nodded. He did not quite understand this highly weird boy, but he didn’t need to.

    “I think we’re going to leave now,” he told the Strange Boy.

    He nodded and waved goodbye to them—Karen and Aaron were coming to join, along with everyone else who had been at the party.

    “Goodbye, friends,” said the Strange Boy, seeing them out the door. “I’ll see you all next week.” He closed the door and they all walked off.

    “Wait…” Karen said, pulling Will and Aaron toward her, allowing everyone else to pass. Everyone walked past them, except ETF, Winter, and Grapefruit. They were trying to wrench Jub from Cynthia’s body, but it appeared he was stuck to her with all-purpose glue. It looked like Cynthia was having trouble breathing.

    Finally, they jerked him off and Cynthia took a huge breath.

    “Bye!” said Jub happily, waving to her. She looked very flustered but more than a little pleased, and bent down to kiss him on the cheek.

    “See you,” she said, and went to join Norman, who was folding his arms and glaring at Jub. The pair walked away, followed by the group of three who were dragging Jub, and all was silent.

    Karen turned around to look at the house. It was as she expected: the house was gone.

    “I thought so,” she said softly.

    The land was barren once more. She and Aaron turned back around and went to the Pokémon Center. Will stayed behind. He stood there for a moment and at last saw them: the Strange Boy and Margaret were waltzing slowly, revolving on the spot, dancing to a song that no one else could hear.
    [hr]
    Epilogue

    It was New Years Day. Our favorite heroes were in the Olivine City harbor.

    Will and Karen watched as Aaron set his bags down. He was leaving. It was official. Karen could procrastinate the thought no further, and she was working hard to fight back tears.

    Will, too, felt a little odd as he realized that one of his best friends would be leaving the entire region.

    A voice rang over the loudspeaker: “Attention, all passengers on the 1:30 ship. We will be departing for Sinnoh in approximately ten minutes. Please be on the ship in five. Thank you.”

    “So,” said Karen, looking at the ground. “I guess this is goodbye.”

    Aaron lifted her chin up to meet her eyes and said, “On that you’re wrong, Kare. This is ‘so long,’ not ‘goodbye.’”

    “What’s the difference?” said Karen bitterly, turning away from him.

    “A whole lot,” said Aaron. “It’s not like we’ll never see each other again.”

    Karen knew that his words were honest, but she didn’t want to hear it right then.

    “You might meet someone else,” said Karen accusingly.

    Aaron laughed.

    “Something tells me that no one else will have that same…spark that you do,” he said brightly.

    She suddenly hugged him tightly.

    “So long, then, Aaron,” she laughed miserably through her tears. “I hope you always miss my spark.”

    “I already am,” he said unhappily, and they stood there in silence, Will looking away awkwardly.

    “Is this really going to work out?” whispered Karen.

    “I don’t think so,” sighed Aaron. “I was afraid this would come up…”

    “I’m not saying I don’t want to be with you,” said Karen quickly.

    “Neither am I,” assured Aaron hastily. “It’s just…”

    “With you in another region…” said Karen, “…it’s not likely things are going to work very well.”

    “I know,” said Aaron quietly, and let go of her carefully.

    The loudspeaker voice spoke again: “Attention , all passengers on the 1:30 ship.
    We will be departing for Sinnoh in five minutes. Please board the ship.”

    There was a pause.

    “We are talking to you, green hair.”

    Aaron sighed and reluctantly picked up his bags, saluted his friends, and started toward the ship.

    “Bye Aaron,” whispered Karen to herself.

    “Guys!” shouted a voice behind them. “Wait up!”

    Karen and Will turned around and saw, to their surprise, none other than Lucian running towards them at his top speed.

    “Am I too late?” he gasped. “Is the ship gone?”

    “No,” said Will. “You have time.”

    “Good,” he said in relief. “Because…” he continued, drawing himself up, “…I’ve decided to join the Sinnoh Elite Four.”

    Karen raised her eyebrows and said, “That’s interesting.”

    “And…” he continued, hesitating, “there is something else that I want to confess.” He shut his eyes tightly, then said as quickly as he could: “Karen, I’m doing this for you. I’ve always loved you, from the first moment I laid eyes on you. And even if…if…if there’s no chance in the entire world I could ever be with you even if everyone else on the earth was dead…I have to tell you.” He opened his eyes and exhaled with relief.

    Karen looked at him momentarily with shock on her face, but in a second shook herself. She leaned forward, kissed him on the cheek, and said, “Well…there might be some chance.”

    Lucian broke into a wide grin, shouted, “HE WAS RIGHT!”, and bolted towards the ship just before the gates closed.

    “…if everyone else on the earth was dead,” Karen said.

    “Hello, friends!” called a voice once again from behind. This time it was Eusine coming to greet them.

    “Hey, Eusine,” said Karen. “Are you leaving, too?”

    “I could never!” laughed Eusine. “Suicune is found nowhere else in the world, you know, besides the Johto region. “I came because I heard one of my friends was leaving and I wanted to see him off.”

    Will bit his tongue to keep from asking if Eusine had actually come to see if the friend leaving was “Miss Karen.”

    “He’s gone,” said Karen, smiling sadly.

    “That is too bad, miss,” said Eusine, shaking his head mournfully.

    “Eusine,” said Will suddenly. “Look.”

    The elegant Pokémon Suicune stood right in front of them, looking out over the water. Eusine’s eyes widened as it turned around, leapt towards him effortlessly, and licked his face affectionately. It then winked one of its monstrous eyes and bounded away.

    Eusine stood frozen in shock for a moment, then whooped loudly and ran after it with amazing speed. Will and Karen heard him shout, “Till we meet again, my friends!”

    “Let’s see,” said Karen, counting on her fingers. “That’s Aaron, Lucian, and Eusine… I think there’s really only one more person we might see today…”

    And there he was.

    Getting ready to board his own ship, and saying goodbye to the pretty-faced Gym Leader of Goldenrod, was the awkwardly thin, bright blue-eyed boy, with a now-full spiral-bound notebook at his side. After Margaret turned away, the Puppetmaster, the Strange Boy, turned to Karen and Will and winked. Will knew what the wink said. The Strange Boy was moving on to bigger and better things. With this story’s end came a more intense, larger story’s beginning. The Strange Boy got onto the ship going who-knows-where and turned his back to the Johto region, looking only forward.

    Will watched the two ships’ retreat until they were gone, then Karen touched him lightly on the shoulder and said, “Will…let’s go home.”

    They were all part of a bigger story, Will realized. All of them. But then he lay those thoughts aside and followed Karen home. He was going to live the rest of his story to the fullest—sometime in the future. For now, New Bark Town was his obligation, where his father would be waiting…





    [size=26pt]FIN[/size]
    The Will to Go On--you should read it.


  6. #6
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    I wish someone would take a look at this. :P
    The Will to Go On--you should read it.


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowPokemon View Post
    I wish someone would take a look at this. :P
    I have, along with roughly 120 other people.


    Overall, it's pretty entertaining and funny; I've found no spelling or grammar errors. 8/10


    ... And since when does one find wild Skorupi or Hypno on the first route? XD
    ~Fact of the Whenever~
    Life gives you lemons because a large portion of humanity wasn't thankful for the grapes it already had. Please treat all fruit with respect.

  8. #8
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    I don't know... XD

    And yeah, I was pretty happy with this. I really rushed the ending because I was anxious to write the last couple chapters, but it was indescribably fun to incorporate myself into the story.
    The Will to Go On--you should read it.


  9. #9
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    First few chapters of the sequel:

    Prologue
    The End

    The boy apprehensively approached the dock. He could see her there. She was hugging him while her friend looked away awkwardly. He tightened the straps of his backpack, taking a deep breath and plunging through the crowd just as the other boy boarded the ship.

    She was talking to her friend now with a faraway look in her eye. The boy gritted his teeth. It was now or never.

    He ran up to her quickly. She stopped midsentence, looking at him in a surprised way.

    “Hi,” the boy said breathlessly, breathing hard.

    “Hi,” she said, startled.

    “Hi,” the boy repeated stupidly, staring at her and turning red. There was an awkward silence, she staring at him and he breathing hard. Finally as his cheeks returned to their normal color he continued. “I’ve decided to join the Sinnoh Elite Four.”

    She looked at him, her expression not changing much. “That’s…interesting,” she said dryly. There was another silence. “…Is that all?”

    The boy took a deep breath. “No,” he said with difficulty as he willed himself not to throw up. “I’m… doing this for you because I’m in love with you. I have been ever since I first laid eyes on you. You’re beautiful and kind and intelligent and…” the words were pouring out of his mouth now and there was no stopping them. “and…and…and if there’s no chance I could be with you even if everyone else on earth were dead…I…I…I…” he faltered, “…I just…wanted you to know.” He squeezed his eyes shut, turning painfully red. Why did he have to go red now? Why?

    She stared at him incredulously for a full thirty seconds. A full awkward, exceedingly uncomfortable thirty seconds. Finally, seemingly at a loss for words, she swallowed and he flinched as if expecting her to slap him. Instead, she uncertainly leaned forward and up and kissed him very softly on the cheek. He closed his eyes slowly. Then she leaned back and said with a small hint of a smile, “There might be some chance.”

    And with that, the boy gaped at her in shock, shouted gleefully, “HE WAS RIGHT!” and ran for the boat at top speed. He didn’t hear her finish her statement under her breath (more out of habit than anything), but I personally doubt even that could have dampened his spirits.

    And so it came about that Lucian, hungry for more fondness from Karen, the girl he loved, boarded the ship to Sinnoh, off to the next chapter of the story. Oh yes, this is still the same story. It’s just a bit of difference in…perspective, shall we say?

    [size=17pt]Chapter Two: a Spinoff[/size]

    Chapter One of Chapter Two Coming Soon


    Chapter ˝
    What?

    “Wait, what?” “Spinoff?” “What does he mean by that?” “Is this kid crazy?” “Is this guy serious?” “Why write a sequel?” “Can’t he just leave this alone?” “Why am I even reading this?” “Is there even a first one?” “Wait, this isn’t the Post Your Thoughts of the Moment Thread?” “Is this nonfiction?” “Who’s Lucian again?” “WHAT THE HELL?”

    These are some questions you may be asking yourself after reading the prologue of Chapter Two: A Spinoff. Now first I have a word of advice for you.

    [size=17pt]SIT DOWN, SHUT UP AND LET ME FINISH.[/size]

    Now, how many of you have read my epic masterpiece, The Will to Go On? Hmm? You? You, you, you? Good. You there. Yes, you. Staring down your monitor with half closed eyes, mouth hanging open slightly, a spot of drool hanging down dangerously close to your keyboard. You didn’t raise your hand. Why is that? Hmm? Ohhh! I see! You didn’t read my story! Ah. That makes sense.

    [size=17pt]GTFO.[/size]

    IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE WILL TO GO ON, THIS STORY WILL MEAN NOTHING TO YOU WHATSOEVER. SO GO READ IT NOW. AND THEN PUNCH YOURSELF IN THE FACE FOR BEING SO STUPID.

    …But I digress. So, are you back yet? Read the story? Yes? Good. Now go write at least ten paragraphs of feedback, first of all for disrupting the story, secondly because at this point I don’t like you.

    For those of you that need to have your “back cover” in order to truthfully get into a story (laaaame) then here is what the story will be in a nutshell:

    Since you have ALL read The Will to Go On at this point, you will recall all of the characters and how they are living at the end of the story. They did not just stop living there. That’s like writing an autobiography. It makes no sense. You cannot cover everything you have done simply because you haven’t done everything yet.

    Therefore, this will be a sort of mash-up of all the characters and what they’re doing with their lives. Rather than a measly four month’s worth, as in TWTGO, this story is set to cover a whole year, all the way up to the wrap up chapter in the Mahogany coffee shop, published a couple days ago.

    So KEEP READING! Stick with me, guys. I plan to make this better than The Will to Go On, keeping with the simplistic writing style but just stretching it out more.

    [size=17pt]CHAPTER ONE OF CHAPTER TWO STILL COMING SOON.[/size]



    Chapter One
    I Did Not Write This

    Lucian ran up to the boat just as the gates slammed shut. He groaned and then approached the man standing near the gates. It was getting late; the sun was turning pink.

    “Please!” he said. “I have to get on that ship!”

    The man pretended not to hear Lucian.

    “Sir,” said Lucian impatiently. The man didn’t say anything. “Sir!” said Lucian a little louder. The man turned his head away. [size=13pt]”SIR!”[/size] shouted Lucian.

    Finally the man sighed deeply and slowly turned his head.

    “Sir, I—” began Lucian.

    “No passengers on ze boat after ze gates are closed, no exceptions whatsoever,” said the man in one breath, examining his nails in a bored way.

    Lucian took a deep breath. Being mean had never helped him in the past. No—if he wanted to get on that boat, he had to use his greatest asset: his mind. Only tact would save him now. He thought quickly and spoke.

    “Sir,” said Lucian with a superior half-smile, “I know the real reason you won’t et me through.”

    “Oh really,” said the bored man sharply.

    “Oh, yes,” said Lucian. “It’s completely obvious.”

    “Zen why don’t you…enlighten me,” challenged the man.

    “It’s because you have neither the skill nor authority to open the gates,” laughed Lucian knowingly. It was a long shot; it was incredibly obvious what he was doing; but Lucian hoped the man’s massive ego would overpower his intellect and, by extension, his logic.

    The man’s nostrils flared. “Why, you leetle…” he exclaimed, then stopped and took a deep breath. “I’ll prove how wrong you are.” He inserted a key into a switch on the wall near him, then pressed a button underneath that. The gates creaked open.

    “How eez zat for authority?” said the man triumphantly.

    “Wow,” said Lucian, running through the gates, “you sure showed me!”

    *****

    Lucian made it on to the ship in time. He sank into a chair near the entrance, filled with relief. After a moment’s rest, he stood up and approached the receptionist nearby.

    “I’m here for my room number,” he told her.

    “You must be Lucian,” the lady sighed. There was always a late guy. Always. “Room 314. Enjoy your stay on the S.S. Aqua.”

    And so Lucian went in search of his room.

    The S.S. Aqua was a magnificent cruise ship, extravagant but somehow off color. There was something odd about the place, and Lucian soon discovered what it was. There were three levels on the ship, but only the bottom-most level had rooms on it. So how did he get the room number 314? All of the rooms were randomly numbered, making it impossibly difficult to find one’s room. Finally he located room 314, between 712 and 423, then dumped his belongings on the bed and left to explore the ship. It wasn’t long before he heard a familiar voice.

    An intimidating boy, ridiculously muscled and, it seemed, dangerously angry, was shouting at a gangly boy, furious.

    “KEEP THOSE FREAKY CRAWLY THINGS AWAY FROM MY ROOM!” bellowed the boy.

    “He was just lost,” said the other boy defensively. “Weren’t you, Spinarak…yes you were…”

    Lucian almost laughed as the muscular boy returned to his room, disgruntled. Only one person he knew could coo at a writhing spider.

    “Aaron!” he called. Aaron looked around, bewildered.

    “Hello?” said Aaron, looking around.

    “Aaron!” said Lucian, running up to him. “It’s me!”

    “Lucian!?” said Aaron, shocked. “What are you doing here?”

    “I’m going to Sinnoh!” said Lucian proudly. “I’m going to join the Elite Four!”

    Aaron stared at him.

    “Well…uhh…congrats, I guess.”

    “What’s the matter?” Lucian said curiously.

    “Oh…nothing,” Aaron said, grinning broadly to prove it. “Forget it. So what’s up?”

    Lucian stared at him oddly.

    “Oh. Nothing. Just on a ship.”

    “I knew that,” scoffed Aaron. “What room are you in?”

    “Oh…314,” said Lucian. Like that would help either of them know where he was staying. “What room are you in?”

    “1211,” responded Aaron. “I think that means I’m on the twelfth floor,” he continued, frowning, “but I haven’t found my room yet.”

    “Umm…” Lucian said, looking at him weirder still, “…where…where’s your luggage then?”

    Aaron frowned again. “Uhh…good question.”

    Lucian closed his eyes exasperatedly.

    “Well…uhh…good luck with that, Aaron,” he said carefully, walking on past him.

    “That kid,” he murmured to himself, “has some issues.”

    He consulted his map of the ship as he walked. “Let’s see…if I go this way …eventually I’ll end up…where?”

    He was so engrossed that he didn’t notice where he was walking, and slammed into a girl.

    “My god, why don’t you just watch where you’re—oh!” said the girl in surprise. “It’s you!”

    Lucian’s tongue was tied and his mind blank as he tried to think of something—anything—to say. Finally he managed to stammer, “C-Cynthia!”

    “Yeah!” said Cynthia, smiling. “What’s up?”

    “Oh…nothing,” said Lucian, trying to get his thoughts together.

    Cynthia was an inch or two shorter than the lanky Lucian. She had long blonde hair and a flawless body that could distract any male human for, um, an incredibly long time. She had broken off of her group that consisted of her, Lucian, and Norman—and Norman went along. Which was a real punch in the face for Lucian. Not to mention this made things way more awkward. Even more awkward, he could not for the life of him remember her looking so stunning. Something had changed. And now she was staring at him, waiting for him to speak. Why couldn’t he think? What was wrong with his brain? And why was he going red now? Why did that always happen?

    “Ahh…” Lucian began, “so…why are you going to Sinnoh?” he managed.

    “Oh, just sightseeing,” said Cynthia, still smiling. “I’ve been to a couple other regions now. My Pokémon are getting stronger. Sinnoh seems like a really neat place. Are you still going to join the Elite Four?”

    “Yeah!” said Lucian, relaxing a bit. If he just let her do most of the talking, it wasn’t so bad. “It’s always been kind of a dream of mine.”

    “Wow, that’s really cool!” said Cynthia, and she looked like she thought so. “I really admire that.”

    “Yeah,” said Lucian.

    There was an awkward silence.

    “Well,” said Cynthia at last, “I better find my room.”

    “Good luck with that,” laughed Lucian.

    “I know, right?” said Cynthia reproachfully. “I’ve been through like five hallways and haven’t found it yet.”

    “What’s your room number?” said Lucian.

    “Umm…712,” she said, squinting at a piece of paper.

    “712…” Lucian said, frowning. “Hey, that’s right next to my room!”

    “Wow!” Cynthia said. “Kind of odd that you remember that.”

    “Really?” said Lucian, going red again (damn his adolescent body).

    She laughed. “No, I’m just messing with you. You always were really easy to mess with.”

    “Yeah, I’m really gullible,” said Lucian resentfully, red as a tomato.

    “Yeah,” agreed Cynthia, “but I think it’s because you’re just really trusting and…kind of sweet. On the inside.”

    Lucian frowned. “I thought you thought I was a jerk.”

    “I did,” said Cynthia, scrutinizing him. “But you’ve…changed, I think. At least a little.”

    “So have you,” Lucian said without thinking, but luckily she didn’t hear him; she was still talking.

    “So yeah, let’s go to your room,” said Cynthia.

    “What?” said Lucian, going bright red again.

    “Isn’t it right next to mine?” she said, puzzled.

    “Oh…yeah,” said Lucian in relief.

    There was another silence.

    “Umm, don’t you want to lead?” Cynthia said pointedly.

    “Yes,” said Lucian. “I’m trying to figure out where my room is.”

    Cynthia burst out laughing, and he gave a shaky, nervous laugh too, and led the way to his room.

    “Thanks, Lucian,” said Cynthia, smiling again. “See you later, I suppose.”

    “Thanks,” said Lucian. “Uhh, I mean, you’re welcome. See—see you later.”

    “Oh, and Lucian?” she called as he turned around. He spun around again and said, “Yes?”

    She hesitated and then said, “No hard feelings about what happened, right?”

    He didn’t say anything for a second. Did she know how upset she had made him? Did she have an inkling of how miserable he was after she and Norman had left? Did she even have any idea at all about how horrible it was for him?

    “No hard feelings,” he lied finally, with a painful smile.

    “Good,” she said, relaxing. She made to hug him awkwardly as he started to walk away, then she pulled back as he held his arms out. Then they both laughed still more awkwardly and retreated to their rooms.

    Good thing he had patched things up with her, he thought as he got into bed—wait. Why did he care?

    What did it matter if they were okay now? He loved Karen, didn’t he?

    Well?

    Didn’t he?

    He just didn’t know anymore, but he really didn’t let him bother him too much as he drifted off into an exhausted sleep. It had been a long day.
    [hr]
    Sorry about the awkward fest. I really could not resist. Seriously, the last couple pages literally wrote themselves. My hands wouldn't stop typing the awkward.

    Even though it wasn't my idea, I must say I really like this chapter. :3 I'm so evil.

    If you read this please comment!
    The Will to Go On--you should read it.


  10. #10
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    A large amount of chapters in a few posts. I made little notes as I went along reading.

    Prologue: Rather mean of Will’s father to yell at him like that, especially if he suspects/knows that the boy is psychic. Would have been better if it hadn’t been in all-caps and ‘angrily’. ‘panicky’ would be better.

    Chapter 1: If you’re doing third person, avoid using ‘I’ and ‘you’ in narration unless there is an obvious narrator. Having someone’s ‘green hair shining loudly’ is an accidentally amusing image, I think. Also, short chapters (says the person who usually has five to eight thousand word chapters; if that’s how you write, it’s not a big deal).

    Chapter 2: I love when Aaron got his Yanma; it made me laugh. But really weird that Elm says ‘keep one Pokémon out’ as a certainty when in the game (several years later), he wants to test that out as a theory.

    Chapter 3: Weird again that Houndour adores Karen when she has yet to treat it well… surely it’s not an idiot? And if you’re having trouble using sniggering, use snickering. Same thing. Will had better be glad that he seems to have future sight, not mind reading (after that hypnotizing bit).

    Chapter 5: Awesome touch to have Will release Hypno for causing trouble. You don’t see that often.

    Chapter 6: The Ralts is rather powerful knowing Psychic already… but then following regular game procession makes the fic much longer, I know. Edit: And then he never ever has it out again, or uses it. What gives? There was no point to this capture and I even forgot about the Ralts.

    Chapter 9: I agree that arguing characters get old.

    Chapter 11: Didn’t you say at the Violet City Gym that only challengers could enter the Gym? Might want to explain that it was a local rule in order for this chapter to happen.

    Chapter 12: The Pokecenters must have thick walls if Will didn’t hear any of that argument, or the crowd cheer! And the Lucien-Karen conversation was weird. I can't put my finger on why exactly; it read unnaturally.

    Chapter 16: Again, don’t use ‘you’ in third-person narration unless it’s consistent. And finally mention of Will’s dreams. It was bizarre that they were introduced and then never again used. Tarot readings are usually much much longer than that. These ones didn’t seem to do all that much, especially since they couldn’t be remembered. So, it was kind of a waste of eighty-five dollars for them.

    Chapter 18: There’s a point where you say Will and Aaron went to a coffee shop, but Aaron had just gone to challenge the Gym. And Will saw Aaron battle Margret, so it’s not like he’s seen none of the Gym battles.

    Chapter 19: That is an utterly bizarre ruling about the Elite 4 qualifications. Especially since the two spots in Johto don’t require the Gym challenge. And that Elm didn’t try calling again, or that Karen didn’t get her Pokegear fixed, or that Elm didn’t try calling one of the other two. But it’s also weird that the region has the exact same Gyms and Badges all that time ago.

    Chapter 20: Much too short?

    Chapter 21: And I just thought, shouldn’t Cynthia be much older? And weird that Norman’s with her. You probably should have named her something else if she was meant to be Normal’s wife/the PC’s mom. Also, at the start of this chapter, you said that Will was the only one who noticed that the house was on the old empty lot, but then Karen sees that it’s gone and says that she thought so. Should have been Will.

    Nice and there is decent grammar, but lots of fridge logic going on. Also, it seemed really skimpy, with only occasional descriptions and lots of dialogue (I write dialogue-heavy too, so I can’t really complain too much). And why were Will’s psychic dreams never used again after the Hypno incident? There’s no good explanation for why, and it seems like a waste. This story was almost completely about Karen and Aaron, with Will just tagging along for the ride. It didn’t help that Aaron was the only one battling and that was only shown once. The protagonists’ Pokémon could have been used a lot more; they were only there as plot devices or minor bits of humor.

    I think this could be great, but it needs more work.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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