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A New Challenger

Discussion in 'Creative Archive' started by Nirvash, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. Two figures darted around the Pokémon Center lobby, tinted light blue by the dim early morning light, like a skittish pair of Yanma gathering supplies and tools. Quietly so as not to awaken the sleeping Trainers and Pokémon taking up residence in the Center, the taller of the two came out from the clinic behind the counter and met up with the shorter feminine figure at a table in the adjacent food court.

    "Which is the only type with a resistance to the Dragon-type?" the woman quizzed just above a whisper as she filled a square shoulder pack with berries and food.

    "Steel," the boy answered. He took the pack from the woman and placed a handful of assorted medicines in another pocket.

    "Fastest priority move?"

    "Extreme Speed."

    "In the event you find yourself in Beedrill territory, what should be your first course of action?"

    "Either with a Fire-type or a flint and tinder, create a smoke source to pacify them then immediately leave their territory," the boy answered from memory. "Beedrill venom is fatally toxic to the human body after three stings, and toxic to most Pokémon barring Steel and Poison-types after seven so one should always carry antidotes when moving through wooded areas."

    "What should you do after eating on the road?"

    "Put out the fire and return all food stores to item balls or string the cooler up in a tree if an item ball isn't available."

    "And if –" she began.

    "Ma, chill," said the boy with a laugh. His voice was low and scratchy, only halfway through puberty. "I'll be fine. I didn't go through six years of Ranger training to not use it when I need to."

    "Okay, said the woman. She zipped up the black and gray shoulder pack and handed it off to the boy, her son, and stepped back to get a good look at him. He was tall and wiry and olive-skinned with a head of thick messy black hair that reached down to the nape of his neck. Behind a pair of square-framed glasses were the bright hazel eyes he shared with his mother shining with energy and anticipation, and he wore a form-fitting red jacket with white bands on the upper arms zipped up to his collarbone to display the black shirt underneath. The emblem of the Pokémon League was proudly displayed on the back in black. The boy put on the shoulder pack and tightened the Velcro strap across his chest before straightening out his hood.

    "Oh, Grey, I cannot believe we're doing this," his mother breathed. "If your father found out about this…"

    "He'd kill us. But he has to find out one way or another, Ma," Grey said in a harsh tone. "You shouldn't make promises you can't keep. I have to do this myself." His mother sniffled and wiped a tear away in the dark. Grey frowned.

    "I'm sorry."

    "No, no." His mother, Sara, stepped into the light revealing herself as a middle-aged Nurse Joy, a handful of gray streaks in her vibrant pink hair. She squeezed her son's shoulders and took a deep breath, then fixed him with a caring look and whispered, "I understand. Really, I do. Completely."

    Grey threw his arms around his mother in a tight embrace. The pair stood in silence for a while before breaking apart. Grey flashed his mother a thumbs up and a wide, reassuring grin. "Don't worry," he said confidently. "I know what I'm doing. I'll be safe; I promise."

    Sara sniffled and drew away from her son, a sad but proud smile on her face. She led him back into the main area of the Center and ducked under the counter, resurfacing with two essentials for her son's impending journey: a red Trainer Card with Grey's face, ID number and country of origin and something rarely seen in the region of Almia, a shiny new pokéball. Grey placed the card in his wallet and clipped the translucent red and white sphere to one of the six magnets on the strap of his bag.

    "Something's missing," he said. "Oh!" Grey ran into his mother's office in the clinic and came back with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows and a pair of black padded fingerless gauntlets with steel plates on the backs of the hand and forearms. A square blue and black board was tucked safely between his back and shoulder bag.

    "Can't forget these," he said grinning. "Considering who's coming with me, I'll need 'em. Right, boy?" A blue snout poked out from behind Grey's leg and sunk sharp fangs into metal and padding. Grey lifted his hand up to his face and brought the totodile hanging off it to eyelevel. The little one hissed and grinned through its mouthful.

    "Richter still doesn't seem to understand that biting isn't a sign of affection between humans," said a chuckling Sara. The totodile was lifted over its Trainer's head and dropped down to snuggle into his hair.

    "Yeah but with these, I can handle anything this little monster throws at me," Grey said with confidence and a flex of his fingers.

    "Are you sure you'll need the sky-board?" asked Sara.

    Grey nodded. "Yep. It's a quick and easy way to travel and it's much faster than my Running Shoes."

    The first rays of dull gold sunlight crawled through the Center's glass sliding doors and cast itself on the walls mixing with the pale blue. Grey held his gaze on the outside beyond the door then looked back at his tearfully smiling mother. Richter jumped down from Grey's head and nudged Sara's leg comfortingly.

    "We'll see you later, Ma," he said starting out the door. Richter gurgled and waved goodbye then hurriedly trotted after his Trainer and jumping onto his shoulder.

    "If you ever get in trouble…!" Sara called.

    "I know what to do!" her son called back. "I've been practicing." Sara allowed herself a smile as she watched her youngest child's back walk into town, retreating into the light of the rising sun. He wasn't leaving his home behind, she told herself firmly. Home will always be here in Puel Town waiting for him. Grey was going on a journey to find himself and to grow, just as the tradition of the world says. Sara laughed. It was ironic she thought, that tradition was what had made him want to leave and yet, was the very thing he was following away from home.

    A New Challenger
    Chapter 001: New Game

    Wingull cried overhead as the pursued the high speed ocean liner and the other passengers chatted amiably amongst themselves. A sailor challenged a little girl's father to a battle while another drew a crowd and started taking bets. Grey was aware of none of this. He leaned forward against the railing of the ship immersed in thought.

    "So this is it, partner." The boy took a deep breath and fought down his nerves by thinking about Puel Town and what it was like to watch his hometown wake up and start its day. Albert, the man who ran the small Poké Mart down the street from his mother's Pokémon Center, flipping the "Closed" sign to "Open" and going off to sweep the floor; the same flock of pidgey that had taken up residence in the park a few years ago flying overhead chirping stridently; Randy, the Pokémon Ranger on town watch duty walking by and waving to the pokémon/trainer pair with a tired smile. It'd be the last time he'd see that chain of events unfold the same way every time he got up in the morning and that thought only made him miss his home.

    "Can't have that," he muttered so he pushed the memories down and focused on the sea beneath the ferry he had boarded only a half hour earlier.

    You're scared. The childlike voice rang out in Grey's mind and made him acknowledge its owner. Richter mimicked his owner's pose and leaned against the lower bar of the railing

    "I am not, Richter," the boy denied vehemently. "Just a lot to take in, y'know?"

    I guess but it's not that big a deal, fraidy cat. The crocodilian grinned and put his tiny hand over his snout to muffle his snickering.

    "Shut up." The boy laughed and lightly nudged his partner with the tip of his shoe. "Okay, fine, I'm a little scared. But who wouldn't be?"

    You were taught how to survive in the wild and you're psychic! What've you got to be araid of? Richter hissed and jumped up to nip at Grey's finger. He missed but nonetheless puffed up emanating pride.

    "I know that and I know I've got you with me but let's be honest here; who's gonna be afraid of a two-foot tall blue crocodile?" Richter nipped at him again and bit into the gauntlet.

    "Hah! Knew these were a good investment!" The totodile laughed and crawled up Grey's leg up to his head to nestle himself into the boy's hair and enjoy the sea breeze.

    "Once we get off, we gotta meet up with our starting group and go to the Hawthorne Pokémon Research Lab, Richter. Remember that."

    You're asking me to keep track of stuff?

    "Probably a bad idea, I know," laughed Grey. "I've got the pamphlet here but just try, okay?"

    No promises.

    The pair remained in their spot the entire ferry ride thinking about their destination: the Silver Ring Archipelago, a new frontier for the Pokémon League. Relatively unsettled and therefore unprotected from wild Pokémon, the archipelago's government petitioned the League to set up a branch in the region. The League quickly acquiesced and dispatched officials to oversee the Gym Leader selection process. Fifteen years later, a Gym Circuit followed attracting aspiring Trainers from the world over. Sure, an underdeveloped region was far more dangerous than settled areas like Sinnoh and Unova but the thrill of the wilds was part of what made the area so attractive. That and, supposedly, the area had been lacking in its Pokémon population which made the League take action by relocating handfuls of the appropriate species of Pokémon from their original homes to the appropriate biomes in the Silver Ring. The population then skyrocketed and balanced out the fragile island ecosystems and rumor had it that the League had sent in a fair amount of rare Pokémon to the island to increase the influx of migrating Trainers. Several questions buzzed around in Grey's mind. What kind of Gym Leaders resided in the archipelago? What were the towns and cities like? What should he expect? What kinds of Pokémon would he see? Just thinking about it made his pulse quicken in anticipation.

    Around midafternoon, the ocean liner docked amongst a row of fishing and motor boats at the first stop in Grey and Richter's journey, a quaint seaside village a good deal from the edge of a balmy forest known as Breeze Town. Careful to avoid the golduck and floatzel pair dragging a loaded fishing net out of the water and onto the docks, the pair disembarked and dislodged themselves from the group of other passengers to take in the sights on their way to Breeze Town's marketplace.

    "Hey, check it out," Grey heard a tall muscly dock workers say to his sandy-blonde haired friend. "Another new one."

    "That makes four today alone. We've been gettin' a lot of Trainers comin' our way lately."

    "Mostly kids," the blonde one added. "Man…"

    Grey mulled over what he heard and reasoned the other three Trainers before him must be those in his starting group. From the way the blonde one spoke, it seemed like Trainers his age were a rarity in the archipelago. But he spoke with an odd tone of voice like a cross between pity and disappointment.

    "Now what could that mean?" He felt Richter shrug and did the same as he continued into town thinking that things will sort themselves out.

    The houses in their immediate area were located fairly close to the boat docks and market and rarely bigger than two stories. They shared the same white-house-blue-roof color scheme as the larger houses scattered further from the sea near the great meadow overlooking the beach. The cries of wingull were still audible among the ocean waves and busy sounds of a marketplace inundated with the smell of cool sea air. The marketplace itself, a sprawling network of stalls and stands on the beach organized to allow space for wide sandy streets, was flooded with people and Pokémon doing business.

    Richter stretched and let himself go limp atop Grey's head sighing contentedly and basking in the sun. Aaaah, sun! A venusaur basking near a fruit stand sounded off its agreement with the little one.

    "I know, it's so warm here," Grey agreed. "Just how I like it!"

    "In that heavy jacket? How're you not on fire right now, mister?" Grey turned to the commenter, a suntanned boy around eleven years old wearing a dusty white headband, white Bermuda shorts and an open blue vest with no shirt underneath.

    "I'm heat proof," joked Grey.

    The boy's eyes widened in wonderment. "Really? Hey, are you a Fire-type or somethin'?"

    "Son, don't pester him," said the boy's father, the man working the fruit stand dressed similarly to his son.

    "Sorry, dad!" He then focused his gaze on Richter and found himself locked in a staring match with the Pokémon. "Sorry; we don't get many Trainers passing through here so he's been a little hyper what with you being the fourth today alone."

    "Yeah, I heard that down at the docks." Grey awkwardly approached the stand almost bumping into a stout woman hauling a heavy barrel of fish.

    "Sorry!" he shouted after the angrily muttering woman. The fruit stand man gave a booming laugh and Grey's ears and cheeks tinged pink. "This is a nice place," he said sheepishly trying to change the subject.

    "Heh, yeah. Welcome to Breeze Town, the premier agricultural spot on Pacific Island." The man gave the boy and his totodile a quick once over and put a hand to his chin in thought. Then his eyes rested on the pokéball proudly displayed on the strap of Grey's bag and he smirked.

    "Guess we're easy to spot. Trainers, I mean," he corrected when the man gave him a puzzled look. He took a quick look around and said, "Looks like most everyone that lives here's dressed in light colors like blue or yellow and white so when someone like me comes along…"

    "You stick out like a sore thumb," the man finished with a laugh. A moment of silence passed between the two strangers as Grey looked around some more at the town.

    "H-Has the League's involvement been bad or good for the place?" he finally asked. The man shrugged.

    "Nothing's really changed much. Though, with the addition of some Grass and Water-type Pokémon that didn't live here before, agriculture's taken a huge upturn. Good for guys like me who make their livin' farming." The venusaur behind the man growled softly when three children climbed on top of it to play. "And I met Venusaur back there so he helps guard my crops."

    "Nice," said Grey. "Richter here and I've been together since I was ten when I picked up his egg. We've been through a lot together, right partner?" The crocodile squawked and rubbed his snout into Grey's hair.

    "Probably stating the obvious," the man began, "but I'm guessing you came out here to start a journey."

    "Yeah. Got this pamphlet here," Grey pulled a folded up blue pamphlet from his back pocket with his face, name, and ID number printed on the front, "that says to meet up with my starting group at the local professor's place."

    "You'll want the Hawthorne research lab. It's on the outskirts of town in the meadow."

    "There's this biiiiiig enclosure behind it where the Professor does her work. Just keep heading straight out of town; you can't miss it," his son finished.

    Grey was already running in that direction before the man finished. "Thanks!" he shouted.

    "You're welcome!"

    He ran until beach sands became sparse dry grass and then open prairie and the edge of the forest came into full view. A handful of houses each with their own farm were scattered across the grassland but none of them looked to be the one he and Richter were looking for. Grey stopped as he crested a hill. He blocked the sun from his eyes with a hand and scanned around.

    There! Richter pointed towards the distance from his post atop Grey's head.

    "Where?" Then he saw it; a large four-story house with a tall fence enclosing a substantial area of the prairie behind it. The glittering manmade lake in the center of the enclosure had caught Richter's attention.

    Grinning, Grey pulled the sky-board out from its pouch on his bag, unfolded it and twisted it so the bottom half's air jets were facing downward. There was a click click that meant the circuits were connected and Grey dropped the board and stood on the discs in the face of the sky-board before pressing the activation button on his Running Shoes.

    You sure we should be doing this?

    "Probably not but the ride here was kinda boring and I need a rush!" The mechanisms in the board and the shoes synced up and the board's air jets started up lifting Grey a half foot off the ground.

    Grey leaned forward and the board propelled itself forward gaining speed until its rider and his Pokémon were flying down the hill and through the prairie. He slowed to a cruising speed and weaved in between a close pair of apple trees on one of the farms, accelerated toward the lab's fence and prepared to jump. Crouching low, Grey ollied over the fence spurred higher by a burst of air from the board, and made a wide turn over the edge of the lake scaring a few poliwag and wooper just coming out of the water. As he neared the back door, a nidoking reared up from within the tall grass and glared at the pair of intruders. The beast snarled and swiped at them with its tail; Grey jumped off the board over it only to be caught within the Drill Pokémon's grasp and brought to eyelevel.

    "Hi there," said Grey, wholly unafraid. "We're looking for Professor Hawthorne." The nidoking snorted in Grey's face and picked up the sky-board. Richter yipped a hello and poked at the behemoth's nose. Nidoking thumped over to the back door and dropped the pair there before handing Grey his board and going back into the enclosure. Grey smiled and thanked him before knocking on the door, announcing himself and entering the lab.

    The sight that greeted him was not was he was expecting. The shiny floors were littered with discarded papers scrawled on by someone with chickenscratch handwriting and a seemingly equal number were taped to the white walls. Various small Pokémon such as meowth, nidoran, kricketot, and sewaddle were scurrying around cooing and meowing and chirping while four researchers in long lab coats, two men and two women, ran around either trying to return them to their balls or taking notes on how two species interacted. A meowth tried to pounce on a pidgey and grey was about to say something but stopped when he saw that the two were merely play-fighting instead of the cat eating the bird like he expected.

    "Okay… This place is kind of a mess," he said aloud catching the attention of one of the researchers, a tall brunette in thick glasses with a pink butterfree pin holding her hair back.

    "The professor is upstairs in her study," she said. She stopped herself and asked, "You are one of the Trainers in the starting group, right?"

    "Yeah, that's me." Grey flashed the pamphlet and his Trainer Card and she smiled.

    "Good; we've been waiting for you. Head on upstairs. Sorry about the mess."

    "It's cool, I've seen worse."

    She laughed. "Worse than this?" Then she became confused as a thought struck her. "Wait, you came in from the back, right?"

    "Yeah, why?"

    "The professor's nidoking is back there." Grey tilted his head sincerely not getting the point.

    "So…?"

    "That thing can snap your spine like a twig and he would if he were wild. Most people that visit think he is. How did I not hear you screaming bloody murder when you must have seen him?"

    "I could tell he was friendly." Grey shrugged. "He didn't seem all that scary to me. If he were wild, maybe." The intern gave him a dumbstruck look but when Meowth yowled in pain when Pidgey's talons accidentally scratched its side, she decided there were more important things to tend to.

    "Okay, then. Just head upstairs and go to the left. And keep your totodile in his ball, please!" she added. But Grey was already heading up the stairs.

    Professor Hawthorne's study was at the west end of a long, dim, pink-walled hallway. Grey opened the door and the first two things he noticed were that the air was saturated with the smell of hazelnut coffee and that the room was large but still managed to feel cramped and crowded. The pink walls had shadows thrown on them by the closed blinds on the windows and the large desk at the front was stained by brown rings and strewn with pens, pencils and scattered papers. A coffee maker sat in a corner of the desk housing a half-full coffee pot and next to that was a red mug that read "Foxy Mama" in black script. Grey stifled a laugh.

    An open mini-fridge was tucked in the corner to the left of the desk and a lamp stood to its right. In the center of the room was a large cylindrical container with a red domed top which four people were seated around: a two young men around Grey's age chatting amiably, one a straight-haired blonde wearing sunglasses on his head and the other handsome brunette; a short girl in a white wavy off-the-shoulder top who kept her hair in a long blonde ponytail; and a pale, thin-faced willowy redhead with silver streaks in her hair. Her dingy labcoat was stained with coffee like the desk that was presumably hers and she kept her hair straight down to the small of her back. She wore a simple blue dress and flats, and was eyeing the newcomer with some interest in her narrow brown eyes.

    "You're late," she said. Her voice was deep and rich. Grey was then aware of the fact that the coffee smell was coming mostly from her. "We've been waiting twenty minutes and it's rude to keep a lady waiting." She flipped her hair and frowned.

    Grey scowled turning his gaze away from her and pouting. "Punctuality's never really been a strong point of mine. Sorry." All eyes were now on the two of them and the hissing totodile atop Grey's head. The other children were silent. The boy and the woman locked eyes and glared at one another until the woman allowed herself a smirk and stood up.

    "Good; someone with moxie," she said clapping the boy's shoulder. "I like that. Kids these days are too polite." Grey and Richter visibly eased up and smiled. "But if it were anyone else but me, they'd have kicked your scrawny ass."

    "And adults these days are too serious," the boy retorted, "and I think that was a challenge, old lady." The professor shook her head and chuckled.

    "My name's Amelia Hawthorne. Don't call me 'professor'. I guess you're…" Amelia retrieved a clipboard from her messy desk and flipped through to the last page. "Greyson Thomas?"

    "Just Grey."

    "Good to meet you, Grey." Amelia sat back down and gestured to the empty folding chair between her and the blonde girl. "Have a seat, kid. I'll have to ask you to keep your totodile in its ball, though."

    Richter went without complaint, miniaturizing and disappearing into it in a flash of white light. Grey smiled at the totodile in the ball who flashed him a thumbs up before being clipped to Grey's bag's strap again.

    "Now, everyone go around and introduce themselves," Amelia said. The blonde girl was the first to do so, shooting up from her seat and pointing skyward.

    "Amber Dane! Azalea Town, Johto!" she said loudly for all to hear. She giggled and swept an arm across the people before her, shouting, "Let's get one thing clear: I'm gonna be a strong Trainer; stronger than anyone here!"

    "Yeah, yeah, nice sentiment," drawled the blonde boy. "Now siddown, sweetie, and calm your tits." Amber scowled at him and plopped down in her seat with a huff muttering curses. The blonde young man stood up and undid the buttons on his crimson vest to smooth out the bright yellow shirt underneath. Stuffing his hands in the pockets of his baggy camouflage pants, he said,

    "I'm Derek Quinn. This here's my bud, Jimmy. I'm from Three Island in the Sevii Archipelago." He extended a friendly hand to Grey who shook it without hesitation. "Look forward to bein' trainin' buddies and whatnot."

    "That's not exactly how this whole starting group thing works, Derek," laughed the brunette as he stood up. He was of average height and handsome with strong blue eyes, a deep voice and a decent build under his open blue fleece jacket and white t-shirt. Grey spotted two pokéballs at his belt whereas he and the other two had only one.

    "And my name's not Jimmy. It's Jameson. Jameson Rhodes from Fuchsia City in Kanto, but I go by plain old James." Amber waved flirtatiously at him and Amelia bit back what would have been roaring laughter. Then he and Grey's gazes met and a short burst of tension passed between them. Jameson frowned at Grey and opened his mouth to speak before thinking better of it and sitting back down.

    "Uhm…" Grey looked around and shifted uneasily. "Grey. Puel Town, Almia. This is Richter." Richter grunted a hello.

    "Well, now that we're all acquainted," said Amelia, "let's begin your briefing… Or whatever the hell it's called."

    William was bored. There was no other word for it; he was truly, completely, unequivocally, totally bored. There was no sport or pleasure in winning like this, he thought glumly as the wild torterra before him struggled to move kicking dust up from the balmy forest floor. The uniformed grunts under his command surrounded and closed in on the beast with their Pokémon out to defend them in the unlikely event the torterra broke free. No challenge at all. A victory is only a victory when one side has dominated the other and established themselves as king of the mountain. Total abject defeat must befall the losing party if one would wish to derive true satisfaction from winning. With the device in his hands, there was none of that. The fight would end as soon as it started. He sighed.

    "No fun at all," he groaned. "Either way, test 22 complete. Can we go home now?"

    "Sorry, sir, but until the scientists meet their testing quota, we can't leave the area yet," one of the grunts not handling the torterra said with a salute.

    "Fine!" William approached the team of three scientists at their portable console and looked at the screens. None of the information made sense to him so he just asked them outright, "How much longer?"

    "Ten more tests should do it," said the head scientist, a balding brown-skinned man. "I'm sorry, Sir William," he said when the admin huffed in annoyance, "but we want to ensure the device works completely before he do anything else. You know how integral the Frequency Net is to the organization's plans."

    William gave the device in his hands a piercing glare as if it were its fault he was stuck here and not off somewhere battling or causing chaos. It was unassuming enough; a dull gray box with a speaker connected to a megaphone via a spiraling chord. Emperor Otto had told them before they set out to test that the Frequency Net was probably the most important thing to the organization at this point. If it worked, it would make their secondary objective of collecting resources and recruiting new members that much simpler. But William didn't want simple. He wanted a challenge and this vile thing made it too easy for him.

    "We're ready for the next test," said one of the scientists. "Grunts, hold it still!" A chatter rose into the air punctuated by the Continent Pokémon's grunts of protest as it tried to free itself from the psychic stranglehold of two hypno and a gothitelle. The grunts not controlling the Psychic-types backed off but dropped into ready stances with their hands over their belts.

    "I guess I can't ignore an order from the top," William said resignedly. He turned back to the torterra and recalibrated the device from the set of dials on the back of the speaker. "Let's just make this quick. Test 23 commen—"

    One of the hypno got too close to the torterra's head and the massive tortoise took the chance to lash out with a vicious Crunch attack. Torterra clamped its jaws around the Hypnosis Pokémon's right arm, pulled and bit down as hard as it could. There was a loud SNAP! and a sickening pop and the hypno fell to its knees clutching its bloody dislocated limb. The display of violence shocked the other two psychics causing them to lose concentration and, consequently, their hold on the tortoise. Indignant and enraged, Torterra roared, reared up and brought its front limbs down on the ground tearing the ground asunder with Earthquake. The grunts and their pokémon scattered in fear and the scientists ducked down behind their consoles for safety. One of them yelled at William to take cover but the man seemed not to hear him over the din.

    William produced a pokéball from the inside pocket of his pristine brown military uniform and wordlessly tossed into the air. A scizor emerged from it and hovered overhead, steely eyed and ready for combat.

    "Bullet Punch."

    The Pincer Pokémon sped downwards at Torterra with an arm outstretched, pincers glowing a rusty red and slugged the Continent Pokémon will all its considerable might. William then ordered his pokémon to flip the beast over; Scizor latched onto the sides of the dazed torterra's shell and turned the monster over onto its left side. Torterra flailed its stubby limbs around in a vain attempt to right itself while William approached grinning like a madman. The man in the brown uniform reared his right arm back, the knight's armor covering it glinting in the sparse forest light and punched Torterra himself.

    "Silence, beast!" he commanded. Torterra would not oblige. Frowning, he picked up the Frequency Net and turned it to full blast. It sounded off with a tone the humans almost could not hear and the Continent Pokémon went stock still. Scizor gently pushed Torterra back onto its feet and returned to its master's side to kneel.

    "Now then." His grin grew wider and more menacing. "Seed Bomb." Against its will, Torterra opened its maw and a glowing green orb took form inside it. It turned around like a tank taking aim at a target and launched the attack at a tree. The blast stripped the bark away and destroyed a good third of the trunk sending splinters flying everywhere.

    "Well," said one whimpering grunt as he tended to his injured hypno, "we know it works now."

    "Yes," drawled William, "I believe we do. Still a boring way to win."
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    !Grey obtained a new item!

    Item Ball x3 - Works by the same principle as a pokéball only it works on items and not pokémon. One holds a large food cooler; one holds a pot, pan, some bowls, plates, and utensils in a container; the last one is empty.

    Running Shoes - Tech by Silph Co., designed by Soul Engine Ltd. Uses compressed air bursts to propel a runner forward at high speeds. Difficult to learn to use.

    Sky-board - A recent new development from Silph Co. to be used with Running Shoes. Utilizes compressed air jets in the shoes as well as those already in the board for lift, while an intake fan in the nose pulls air into a compressor and shoots it out the tail for propulsion. Collapsible. Controlled by rider's shifting weight. Quick, clean and effective mode of transport.

    Gauntlets - Fingerless gloves extending to the elbow. Thick padding and steel plates on the backs of the hand and forearm provide ample protection from low-to-mid-level attacks from wild pokémon. Great for blocking Richter's teeth.

    Thermal Jacket - Stylish and functional; fits to body and holds heat to the wearer during those cold nights on the road and keeps one cool during the day. Emblazoned with the League Emblem. Tech by Silph Co., designed by Soul Engine Ltd., sponsored by the Pokemon League.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Forgot to put these here first time around. Better to let you know he has them then to mention them later and have you go "wait, what?". Let me know if this is superfluous and I'll take 'em down.
     
  2. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Greyson, AMAZING!

    I like how in depth this first chapter was. You are very descriptive of your characters' appearances and the scenery. I can clearly picture every moment of the story in my mind. I also like the fact how you set up the beginning to be like a typical journey fic but then add a hidden dark depth at the end with Sir William and his men. I guess it was only right for your fan region to have its own villainous team as well.

    I look forward to seeing how your story progresses and exploring the Silver Ring Archipelago with Grey.
     
  3. Woot! Positive review! Thanks; I always try to be as descriptive as possible with landscapes and characters (but not too descriptive). All those creative writing classes telling me to "paint a picture" really paid off. Second, yeah, I didn't want this to be a typical utesy-cutesy OT fics where nothing bad ever happens. There needs to be SOME kind of antagonizing force or else that's just boring for everyone, including the author.

    Trust me; gets a lot darker from here on in... But not super dark. Just srsfaces all around.
     
  4. Ahhh, the smell of a delicious new fic!

    You got a positive review from Brian and you're about get another one from me. I loved what you've written so far. Engaging plot, awesome description, everything. I even like how your main character is psychic without being omg Mary Sue. I stink at writing stuff that's too dark, so I have to get my fix elsewhere.

    One thing though, when Richter grunted the hello, I'm guessing only Grey could hear it from inside the Pokeball?
     
  5. Oh, good, I was afraid the psychic thing was crossing the line into Mary Sue territory. That's a place I don't want to end up... And yeah, Grey was pretty much the only one who could hear him because of his proximity to Richter. The Pokeballs are like those used in the mangaverse and I always assumed the monster inside could hear what was going on just like they can see outside it.
     
  6. Summary: June is a professor-in-training, Kestrel's a drifter who loves his freedom, Estelle is a Gym Leader, and James has something to prove. They all have separate goals and paths but when you're traveling alone and wild pokémon could kill you at any time, allies are invaluable. The funny thing? None of them would ever have met if they hadn't first met the runaway named Grey.

    Rating: M

    Disclaimer: I do not own the Pokémon franchise in any way, shape, or form. I’m just a poor student. Dun sue me, Gamefreak ;A;

    --
    A New Challenger
    Chapter 002:
    Welcome to the World of Pokémon!
    --

    To say the atmosphere was thick would be a gross understatement. Professor Hawthorne’s crossed her arms and the uncharacteristically serious gaze she swept across her young charges weighed down on them practically forcing them to pay close attention to her every word. The four of them had to give Amelia some credit; for a Pokémon Professor as laid back as she was, she knew how to set the mood.

    Amelia hardened her eyes and her voice and spoke as clearly as possible. “I’ll say this once and only once,” she intoned. “Training and owning pokémon is a privilege and if you fail to follow the rules, to keep yourselves and your team in line, that privilege can and will be revoked. No exceptions.”

    She paused to make sure they were all paying attention. Sure enough, they were.

    “The Pokémon League enforces a strict set of rules and regulations on trainers and they’re especially hard on you newbies just starting out. I have rulebooks here for each of you to study on your own time – which I highly advise you to do,” she said swiftly, “but these are three you better commit to memory.” Amelia put up her fist and stuck her thumb out first.

    “New trainers are limited to six pokémon until the time you earn your seventh badge. Not a moment sooner and no more than six; this is to lessen the burden on both you and the officials. Failure to comply will be met with swift punishment.” Derek lazily threw up two fingers to get Amelia’s attention.

    “Question?”

    “Yeah. How come they’re so strict about that? I mean, I knew the rule was in place ‘nd all but I never really knew why.”

    “They enforce that rule because the majority of new trainers only have
    enough money and skill to care for a maximum of six fully-evolved pokémon. Anything over that is deemed too much for you to handle. You might run out of money for food because seven is too many to feed or you might lose track of one of them. Generally, the one that you can’t keep track of is the newest capture and the one with the least amount of training.”

    “In other words,” James followed up, “the one most likely to cause trouble.”

    “And get you into trouble, yes.” Amelia threw a small smile and a nod in James’ direction. The boy in the blue fleece accepted the praise with a sheepish smile.

    “But wait!” Amber said suddenly. “What if you’re good enough to take care of more than six before the seven badge level?”

    “Trust me, you’re not,” the professor said immediately. “Nobody ever is.”

    “But I think I could!” insisted Amber. She stood from her seat, pride obviously showing like a. “Like I said, I’m gonna be the strongest one here so the strongest should move faster with their skills than the others, right?” The reactions were mixed: Derek and Grey glared daggers at the girl but held their tongues and James gave a nervous laugh. They would have opened their mouths but found they didn’t need to say a thing for Amelia’s harsh icy stare both silenced and cowed her.

    “Nobody ever is,” she repeated. Her tone was deadly and her expression deadlier still. “Ever. So don’t think you are or you’re just asking to have your pokémon taken, your license revoked, and your ass sent back home. Or to prison,” she added stonily. Oppressive silence returned and hung in the air as Amelia collected herself and Amber silently apologized returning to her seat. Amelia’s index finger joined her thumb.

    “That leads me to rule number two: your pokémon are your responsibility!” She yelled causing the teens jolted in their seats. “I’m serious here! This is probably the most important rule and the most overlooked by cocky newcomers.” Amber flinched. It was more than apparent that that comment was directed at her.

    “You will be your team’s trainer, friend, and most importantly, their babysitter. You need to make sure that they’re fed and that you have enough money to buy food or you have the skill to hunt and forage when money is hard to come by. You have to see to it that they have enough water; that they’re properly trained and socialized so as not to attack every conceived threat to you or themselves. A trainer has to treat their pokémon well and make sure they know the difference between right and wrong and that you’re their partner, not their owner; there is a HUGE difference! If your pokémon is too big for conventional dry mix or cooked food and needs to be let out to hunt, you must maintain a minimum five mile distance from the nearest town so as to be sure they don’t kill and eat someone else’s pokémon. That is one of the biggest mistakes a trainer can make and the one most likely to lose them their license.

    And above all, know your limits. If you think you can’t handle a pokémon, release it or give it a Ranger and they’ll take it back to where you found it and send it off for you. And if you think you’ve actually got the stones to seek out and catch a species on the danger list, you better train it right and make sure it follows orders no matter how big or scary a motherfucker it is. Train it so well, you can leave a newborn right next to it and they’ll lick its face like that baby’s their own. You are the boss. Do not let them intimidate you but don’t become a taskmaster either. Be their friend and find balance.” Amelia let the message sink in for a moment before continuing. Finally, she put up her middle finger.

    “Last rule is a bit of a twofer. Unless you know for sure you can walk right by with impunity, do NOT approach a fully-evolved wild pokémon or go into any situation you don’t think you can handle. If you encounter something stronger than you and your team, run. Do not stick around, do not try to catch it, and do not try to fight back because it will most likely kill or seriously injure you or one of your pokémon. You RUN. Fast!” she barked, stressing her words to make sure they carried the intended effect.

    “Am I clear?”

    The apprehension radiating from the new trainers was almost palpable at this point. Amber fidgeted in her seat, James’ expression turned solemn, Derek sighed deeply and Grey clenched his fist around the strap of his backpack rigid in his seat. They forced their nerves down and collectively steeled themselves. They were all four well aware the risks that came with being a Pokémon Trainer; they wouldn’t be present receiving this lecture if they didn’t accept them.

    “You’re clear,” chorused the four.

    Amelia nodded and like that, the tension cleared considerably. “Good. Amber, reach into the top drawer of my desk and take out the gray case and pokéball canisters under the coffee packets. And be careful with the coffee because it’s imported and costs more money than you’ll make in a week,” she added snappishly.

    “Someone hasn’t had her coffee yet,” Grey snickered. Amelia scowled.

    “And your first clue was?” she muttered bitingly. She punched in an access code and its doors slid open to reveal five shelves housing three pokéballs each. Amber then handed off a rectangular gray case and several cases of assorted pokéballs to the professor. Amelia opened the case and inside were four rectangular devices of four different colors, red blue, black and purple, set into the black foam interior

    “Before I give you anything else, these are your Pokédexes.” She took the red one out of the case and opened it. The Pokédex had two screens, two speakers and three cameras; two outward and one above the top screen. The left side had a wheel pad for selection with an OK button in the center and the power switch just under it. The left side had four buttons arranged in a diamond.

    “They’re basically portable electronic encyclopedias. They’ll tell you anything and everything you need to know about a pokémon and then some; just turn it on and snap a picture or use the search function. Damn near indestructible by a human but for the love of Arceus, try not to lose it. Normal books are impractical to carry when traveling and these things are damn expensive.” She offered the case to the new trainers.

    “Take your pick.”

    Amber immediately took the purple one for herself while Derek accepted the crimson one from the professor. Grey picked the black one leaving James to choose the blue.

    “Now then.” Amelia got to work handing each trainer a canister of six standard pokéballs and opening the others. They each received one premier ball, fast ball, and lure ball, two great balls, and one ultra ball for a total of twelve in all.

    “I don’t think I need to tell you how to use those and if I do, then you have a problem. Lastly, you each have a choice.” She gestured to the machine in the center of their circle. “In those pokéballs are fifteen pokémon that’ve been specially trained to guard and obey a new trainer. You may know them colloquially as Starter Pokémon. They all have different personalities and temperaments determined by species and individuality, so choose wisely and choose one.”

    The four of them leaned in closer to the machine at once. James backed off and with a polite smile and gesture towards the container said to Amber,

    “Ladies first.” Amber smiled back and started perusing the selection and peering at the pokémon inside. She turned the shelves around rejecting each possible choice until reaching the bottom shelf and picking a ball off its tray.

    “What’s this one called?” She held the ball out and Amelia took it to see the creature inside. She smirked and tossed it back to Amber.

    “Scan it,” she commanded. “Press the topmost button on the Pokédex’s right side and hold the ball under the cameras.” Amber did as instructed and the cameras shot out red scanning lasers crisscrossing over the pokéball before giving a read-out and responding a computerized male voice:

    “Tepig, the Fire Pig Pokémon. Characterized by distinctive curly tails and marked intelligence, tepig do not possess an internal flame sac. Fuel for fire comes from flammable slurry created as a side product from digestion set alight by electrochemical cells. Must eat frequently and regularly to keep a decent supply. Primarily herbivorous. Adept foragers and scavengers and typically roast their food before eating. Tepig breathe flames through their snouts and one is able to gauge their health via how much flame it is able to produce. Only breathes smoke if sick or tired. Friendly disposition; socializes well.”

    “Cool,” said Derek. He then took his turn looking for a new pokémon and stopped at the bottom shelf like Amber. He picked one, looked at the pokémon inside and silently smiled at it before clipping it to his belt.

    “You’re not scanning it?” James asked.

    Derek shrugged. “Nah, I pretty much know what one of these guys can do already. Your turn.” He patted his friend on the back and James went straight to the third row.

    “You sure you need a third at this point?” asked Amelia. “You’ve already got two more pokémon than most newbies.” James grunted an affirmative.

    “Mhm. Can’t hurt.” He spent a minute deliberating between the three pokéballs on the shelf before making his choice and putting it in his pocket. Everyone looked to Grey to make his choice. He diverted his gaze to the floor and tapped Soul's pokéball on his chest.

    “I’d rather catch my own,” he mumbled, “and Soul and me have been together long enough.” Amelia shrugged and closed the container pushing it into the closet behind her.

    “Suit yourself.” She brushed her hair behind her ear and cocked her head towards the door. “Head downstairs and go bug my aides for your rulebooks. They shouldn’t be too busy.”

    “They were chasing a bunch of small pokémon around when I got here,” Grey said. “Meowth and Pidgey were about to get into it.”

    “They’ll be fine,” replied Amelia with a flippant wave of her hand. With that James, Derek and Amber filed out the door politely thanking Amelia before heading down the stairs. Grey waited for them to go before setting off himself but Amelia grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around.

    “Hey?!” Amelia already had the cup of undoubtedly stale hazelnut coffee from her desk in her hands and was chugging it, so she didn’t bother to answer right away. Grey gave her a dirty look as she replaced her mug with the coffee pot and drew in its scent. She gave a shuddering sigh of content and smiled, agitation cleared from her face.

    “Dear lord, did I need that.” She looked at Grey scowling at her and gave him a light push. “Oh, don’t look so cross, kid. You’ll get wrinkles.”

    “What was that about?” Grey demanded hotly. Amelia took a long drought from the pot taking in three quarters of its contents and sighed again.

    “Hazelnut. How I love thee so…”

    Grey raised an eyebrow and cracked a smile in spite of himself. “You’ve got an addiction, dude,” he laughed. The woman shrugged.

    “Could be worse,” she said airily as she took a seat and crossed one leg over the other. “I could be a smoker. Anyway, I stopped you cuz I need a favor.”

    “What kind of favor?” Grey leaned against the desk, visibly relaxing.

    “See,” she said after gulping down the last of the coffee, “my daughter’s out doing field work – her name’s June, by the way,” she put the pot back in the maker and stood up to crack her back, “but she’s late coming home. I’m getting a little worried; maternal instinct and all that. I’d appreciate it if you could go and bring her back to me?” Amelia flashed Grey a surprisingly white smile and batted her eyelashes at him. The boy failed to suppress a snicker and doubled over laughing.

    “Oh, piss off! I know I’m still hot for my age!”

    “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” he said between peals of laughter. “But I k-kinda wanna get going as soon as I can. Maybe she got l-lost?” Amelia huffed and threw a crumpled paper ball at his head to stop his laughing.

    “That’s what I’m worried about, dumbass!” she said.

    “Doesn’t she have pokémon with her?” he asked, finally done laughing.

    “Yeah; three of them, I think.” Finger to her chin in thought, she added, “Well, maybe four. I’m not too sure if she took her mantine with her or not. Either way, if you go straight from here into the forest and angle northwest, there’s a cave nearby where she studies. Right now, it’s about how the paras and parasect there are somehow heavily adapted to light and live near the cave mouth instead of deeper in. She said they’ve started some sort of symbiotic rivalry with the sceptile there. Interesting stuff; paras populations have skyrocketed.”

    “Could be bad, couldn’t it? Paras’ species are on the list of pests since they can seriously wreck a forest if there’s enough of ‘em.”

    “That’s where the predators come in,” Amelia said with a devilish grin. “Predator-prey relationships, kid. More food equals more eaters. You should see how many taillow, zubat and ariados live in those woods and you haven’t lived until you’ve watched a weepinbell turn one of those things to mush.”

    Grey made a face and a sound of disgust. “No thanks!” A shiver of revulsion ran down his spine. “Never wanna make contact with one of those bastards again.”

    “I take it you don’t like Bug-types,” Amelia said as he left the room.

    He shook his head. “Not them. The bellsprout line,” he corrected. Amelia raised an eyebrow but he was already out of the door “Long story!” he called over his shoulder.

    Puzzled and curious, the professor pushed the thought out of her mind and sat at her desk to reorganize her notes. Halfway through perusing a document detailing the discrepancies between wooper born from two quagsire parents and those in the enclosure born from a mother quagsire and father corsola, she stopped and regarded her empty doorway with trepidation. She sighed, the lines in her face becoming more pronounced, and rubbed her temples.

    “Damn kids are gonna be the death of me. Hope they know what they’re doing.” Deciding that to dwell on the subject was to invite more gray hairs, she got up and set off for her enclosure to throw herself into her research.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Grey decided that the people of Breeze Town were lucky to live in such a beautiful town. Rolling green hills, warm winds, the beach was just a short walk away. The thought of leaving this place for the next city almost made him sad for he could easily see staying and living there for at least a little while. He placed the rulebook in his backpack and released Soul from his ball who then stretched and shook himself like a dog. As he readied the sky-board, Grey breathed a lungful of prairie air took another look around. The wildflowers were blooming. Yeah, he knew he would would miss this place once he was somewhere up in the barren mountains about ready to beg for the sight of water or anything green.

    Grey stepped onto the board pausing to let Soul climb up to the usual spot on his shoulder when he heard Derek, James and Amber coming. His fellow trainers exited the enclosure through a tall gate in the fence and rounded a corner towards the front of the house and stopped a few feet from the stoop, unmindful of him.

    “…nearest town to this one is a few miles northeast,” James said as he read from a map in his rulebook.

    “Yeah, just follow the Cloud River after exiting the forest and you can’t miss it,” Derek said. He put his hands behind his head and led the group to a stop a few feet from Grey. “It’s one of those waypoint towns where we can restock, right?”

    James nodded and put the book in his back pocket. “Yeah, it’s called Riverton.” Derek snickered.

    “Real original name for a town right next to the main river in this region,” he drawled.

    “They can’t all be winners,” James countered smiling. “We can grab some medicine and food there and maybe catch a pokémon or two, though we probably shouldn’t move past Riverton until we’ve trained up our parties and gotten the new captures acclimated.”

    “Alright, sounds good!” Amber said in her bubbly way. “So should we leave now?” Derek and James exchanged a look and as one raised their eyebrows at the girl.

    “We?” they chorused.

    “It was just gonna be me and Derek,” James said nodding his head at his friend. “Y’know, keep the party small and all that so we don’t end up a walking target for wild pokémon.”

    “Or thieves,” Derek supplied.

    James nodded. “Or bandits.”

    “I said ‘thieves’.”

    “Bandit is a cooler word.”

    “Fair enough.” Amber stomped her foot and impishly puffed out her cheeks.

    “Come on, you guys!” she insisted. “There’s strength in numbers and all that, right? Plus, we can exchange training tips and info. A dodrio’s better than a doduo!” She flashed them a winning smile in an attempt to sell the idea better. The boys exchanged another look.

    “Well, first,” Derek began,

    “The expression is ‘better a doduo than a farfetch’d’,” James finished.

    “Well, there’s three of us,” Amber pointed to the three of them in turn, “so I changed it to fit.”

    “And second… Well, I actually don’t have a second. Jimmy, your thoughts?”

    “Can’t hurt. At least for a little while.” James retrieved a pokéball from his pocket and smiled at the monster inside. “We’ll stick together until we’ve each got three sufficiently trained pokémon and move our separate ways at the first city with a Gym.”

    Derek shook his head. “You mean us bros’ll stick together while blondie hits the road.” Amber glared at him.

    “You’re blonde, too!” she yelled. James gave a nervous titter of a laugh.

    “You might be missing the point of that insult,” he said good-naturedly.

    “Hmph,” Amber scoffed but regained her smile nonetheless. “Well, whatever. Despite his rudeness, it’ll be nice to travel with you!”

    “Same here.”

    “Yeah, yeah.” It was then that Derek noticed Grey standing alone by the front steps of the lab floating in place on the sky-board with Soul on his shoulder. “Hey, guys, we got an eavesdropper,” Derek said dryly.

    “Hm?” James turned around. “So we do.” Feeling friendly, he smiled and called over to him.

    “Hey! It’s Grey, right?” Startled, Grey nodded and spurred the sky-board slowly towards them.

    “Uhm, hi,” he mumbled awkwardly.

    “So, hey, Greyson,” began Derek.

    “Just Grey.”

    “Right, Grey. Sorry. Anyway, Amber wormed her way into my and James’ little traveling party. We could always use a third. You up for it?” Immediately looking towards the ground and his shoes, Grey stuttered,

    “I, uh… Well, thanks for the offer but, uhm... Well…”

    “Well…?” Amber pressed getting in his personal space. The boy yelped nearly falling back off his board.

    “Sorry, but I promised Amelia I’d do her a favor first!” He sped off towards the forest calling back, “I’ll think about it!” and left them in his wake.

    Bemused, Amber blinked and waved dust out of her face and scrutinized his rapidly fleeing back. “What was that about?” she asked, genuinely confused. “You’d think he doesn’t like us.”

    “He’s shy,” Derek said simply. “’S all there is to it.”

    Grey reached the threshold where prairie became forest in record time before slowing down and heaving a great sigh, berating himself for his conduct. “Stupid,” he muttered. “Could’ve just said yes or no; instead you act like an idiot…”

    You’re not good in situations like that, said Soul consolingly. Don’t get so down about it.

    “Yeah, guess you’re right…” he answered glumly. “I really need to work on that…” The pair continued in silence. Grey decelerated to a slow cruising speed and took in the sights trying to focus on the task at hand. Balmy heat coupled with a colorful assortment of large plants and draping vines made the forest more of a jungle in the boy’s eyes. A symphony of pokémon and animal sounds drifted lazily into the air from the droning of combee wings to the chirping of young bird pokémon and the loud sniffing of a trio of hyperactive zigzagoon. Grey moved into a cooler patch under a large tree and stopped to survey his surroundings.

    “She said angle northwest and there should be a cave,” he remembered aloud.

    What’re you thinking?

    “Maybe catch a new pokémon here. Something that counters your weakness to Ground, Water and Rock-types. Maybe something that flies.” Soul grunted angrily.

    Don’t remind me, he said bitterly. Can’t wait until you teach me grass attacks…

    “Good a time as any to use this thing.” He took the Pokédex out of his jacket pocket and turned it on. Switching to the search function, he input the search criteria for Flying-type pokémon and let the device do the work. "Immunity to Ground-type attacks would be a huge help so let's start easy with one of these guys. Birds are kind of straightforward and predictable, though, so..."

    One pokémon immediately caught his eye. Despite its status worldwide as a pest, he knew that with enough training and care, it could become a strong flier and a powerful fighter able to rival most fully-evolved bird pokémon.

    Zubat, the Bat Pokémon. A pokémon possessing the Poison and Flying-types, zubat are literally blind as they have no eyes and so navigate using ultrasonic cries and echolocation. Hypersensitive to sunlight, they roost in dark caves in groups of hundreds at a time for warmth. Can overcome this limitation with enough exposure. Nocturnal; primarily insectivorous but will readily parasitize livestock and other pokémon for blood. Zubat are regarded as pests nearly all over the world due to their exponential birthrate and low infant mortality due to near limitless supplies of creatures from which to feed. Population control is exercised when numbers get too high but they are docile and skittish and will not attack humans. Surprisingly smart; easily trained and captured.

    Grey grinned. “Bingo.” Utilizing the “Nest” function on the Pokédex showed Grey that the nearest zubat colony was in the cave he was told to visit. It even had a GPS he could use to navigate. Soul scurried back up to his perch as Grey took off already forming a battle plan. Careful to swerve around larger trees and hop over any protruding rocks or vines, Grey sped forward scaring more than a few wild pokémon. He spurred the board up a hill and saw it ended in a ledge and the rocky tip of the cave peeking just above it to the left. Excitement rising, he jumped off the ledge and used the air jets to slow his fall and kicked up a dust cloud as he neared the ground. Clicking and hissing chittering and reached his ears when he hopped off the board.

    The ground was rockier here as the grass had begun to recede as one neared the cave entrance and the soil was littered with an abundance of small stones. The cave mouth was visible in a clearing just beyond a cluster of trees so Grey stowed the sky-board and walked down the small hill leading to it. What he and his charmander saw, they could only respond to with amazement and a wide grin. Six or eight paras and one giant parasect frantically scuttled around the clearing, ground littered with the pokémon’s signature mushrooms, latching onto tree roots while three imposing sceptile stood sentinel for the saplings. The paras nearest him dug its mandibles into the roots and started sucking. A few leaves rapidly dried and browned, dying and fluttering to the forest floor.

    The instant it did, one of the sceptile pounced onto the dying tree sticking fast as if glued to the bark and climbed down hissing at the paras and scaring it off. The sceptile would then take off and spit on a seed pod from its back and crush it into a paste that it would rub on the bitten root. The tree’s recovery was remarkably fast to say the least. The parasect, the shepherd to the paras’ flock, then released a cloud of yellow spores Grey knew to be a Stun Spore attack but the sceptile would leap high into the treetops to avoid it glaring at the parasites.

    “Cool,” he said as he walked.

    “I know, right?!” The voice came from up in the trees and Grey snapped his head up to search for the speaker. “Up here! No, to your left!” And there she was, smiling sitting on a thick branch as comfortably as an aipom.

    “She’s pretty,” was the boy’s first outward thought. And she was; petite and fair-skinned with strawberry blonde hair tied in a loose braid draped over her right shoulder. From her elevation, Grey could just make out the color of her wide eyes, steel gray, and the furret lazily napping across her shoulders like a scarf. The girl wore a green tank top and shorts, kept a white lab coat tied around her waist and wore thin spectacles on her thin nose no doubt used to read the clipboard on her lap.

    “You have really light footsteps!” she said snapping Grey out of his daze. “I almost did not hear you coming.”

    “Uh… Yeah. Thanks?” She giggled and waved at him.

    “My name is Juniper Hawthorne. Just call me June.” Grey’s cheeks heated up and Soul, sensing it through proximity to his trainer, gave a gurgling laugh.

    “I-I uh… I’m psychic!” he blurted out. Then he slapped both hands over his mouth as his eyes widened and his pupils shrank. Soul fell off Grey’s shoulder rolling around laughing as the paras avoided him.

    “Shit!” Grey thought. June’s eyes widened as well. She put her fingers in her mouth and whistled and a grovyle was at her side in an instant. The Wood Gecko Pokémon took June in its arms and leapt down from the tree, depositing the redhead and retreating back a few steps aware of what was coming next.

    Grey scrambled to correct himself. “No, what I meant to say was my name! It’s Purple – no, it’s Greyson! Grey! Grey’s my name!” he sputtered. “Well, Greyson’s my real name but I just go by Grey cuz it’s shorter and easier!” He bent down and grabbed Soul bringing him up to June’s eyelevel and noticed she was much shorter than him by about seven inches.

    “This is Richter! He’s a charmander which is kind of obvious. My first pokémon and all that!” He stopped himself and slapped himself in the forehead, groaning at his stupidity. “I’m sorry, I kind of went motormouth there. I do that when –“

    “Wow, a psychic! I’ve never met one before!” June’s face was suddenly inches from his own quickly blushing one, her eyes sparkling with curiosity and her pen to a fresh page on her clipboard. The furret on her shoulders started awake and scurried down her leg to avoid the impending chatter. “Were you born with it or did you learn? Can you even learn to be psychic? Which abilities do you have? Telepathy maybe? I bet you can talk to pokémon or something interesting like that! Hey, Sylva!” She called to her grovyle and it responded immediately scrutinizing Grey with a wary eye.

    “What is she thinking right now?!” June demanded.

    Grey blinked. He blinked again. And he opened his mouth to say something but closed it when words failed him. Soul ceased all laughter, amazed at the speed at which June spoke.

    “Well?!” she pressed eagerly.

    “I dunno her that well so I can’t hear thoughts yet,” Grey replied. Deflating, June pouted and lowered her pen and clipboard. “Sorry.”

    “Oh…” She sprang back up and asked, “Then what am I thinking?” The boy’s face scrunched in concentration as he reached out for the redhead’s thoughts. A moment of silence and then…

    “…Pancakes?” he announced confusedly. “It’s, like, five in the afternoon.”

    “Every time is a good time for pancakes!” June declared. She giggled again and Grey actually found himself able to laugh with her although a bit uneasily. Her furret scurried back over to her and retook her place while the grovyle stood by, stoic.

    “Sorry,” she apologized, “I get that way whenever I’ve found something cool and I want to learn more. Sorry if I scared you.” She gestured to her furret and grovyle. “These two are Rosewood and Sylva, by the way.”

    “’S fine. And, uh, it’s nice to meet you,” he said to the three.

    “So what brings you here?” asked June. “You are obviously a trainer. Come to catch one of the paras?” The Bug and Grass-types were still running around feeding and being shooed from trees while the parasect watched twitching erratically as it walked.

    “Well, your mom sent me to get you,” June rolled her eyes at this and muttered something under her breath, “but I did come to catch something. A zubat.”

    “Interesting choice,” she said quirking an eyebrow. “Most trainers avoid them because they tend to target other pokémon for their blood.”

    “I’m not most trainers,” he said with a hint of pride. “Only it’s getting dark and I don’t wanna be stuck out here when night falls.” June gave him a wide smile winked.

    “Oh, I can fix that,” she said slyly. Walking up to the mouth of the cave and nudging the parasect out of her way, June went in just past the entrance and put her fingers in her mouth. Grey saw Rosewood the furret cover her ears before June whistled loudly and sharply for a good ten seconds. The instant she finished, the Bug-types scattered devolving into a chaotic mess falling all over themselves and racing up tree trunks, growing ever more frantic as the sound of hundreds of wing beats drew closer. Sensing their job was over, the sceptile also retreated into the treetops.

    A swarm of zubat erupted out of the cave like magma from a volcano flying in all directions, blotting out the sparse light and screeching their high-pitched frantic cries. Several broke off from the flock and rushed the paras in groups of three to four to feed on the insects. Six of them attacked Parasect in a jumbled screeching mass of blue fur and flapping wings.

    “That was kinda unnecessary!” Grey shouted over the tempest of noise overhead.

    “Well, you’ve got your zubat!” replied June. “Pick one! Rosewood, scare the others back in with Hyper Voice!”

    Rosewood ran to the head of the cloud and screamed out a wall of sound that scared the zubat into returning to their cave. Only those feeding were left, leaving Grey with his pick of the litter.

    “The strongest will’ve gone for Parasect,” he deduced calling Soul to his side. He pointed to the giant mushroom cap left behind when the zubat finished feeding and narrowed his eyes.

    “Here we go. Richter! Ember!” The charmander was quick to aim and act, forcing a cloud of smoke and sparks out of his jaws and striking the first zubat to break off from Parasect’s dry corpse. The Bat Pokémon tumbled head over heels but managed to right itself before crashing into the cave wall. It flew back up only to get tossed around by its fleeing brethren.

    “While it’s dazed!” Soul dashed and jumped high into the air to meet his opponent with his claws raised. He raked them down across the dual type’s fragile frame and drew blood.

    He didn’t stop there; the Lizard Pokémon turned his head, chomped into the zubat’s shoulder and twisted his body around to throw it at the ground. The tenacious bat straightened out just before impact and searched around blindly for its assailant with its echolocation. Screeching and crying out, it found Soul and threw itself at him with surprising speed catching the fire lizard off guard in the gut and digging its own fangs into his shoulder to drink a few gulps of blood. It broke off before the charmander could swat at it then ran back in for another Astonish attack. Growling, Soul hopped out of the way and snapped his jaws, thoroughly enraged, while the zubat flew overhead dancing out of reach and dodging Embers with renewed vigor. Grey ordered his pokémon to keep the target distracted while he thought up a plan. June watched the battle with rapt interest silently cheering for Grey to win.

    “It used Leech Life,” he said in a quick hushed whisper, “not too much damage but it got some energy back. Obviously fast; Soul can’t keep up with normal attacks unless – Smokescreen!" he shouted suddenly.

    Soul reacted just as fast; his azure eyes narrowed and with a grunt of effort, he belched a cloud of blackish gray smoke into the sky. The cloud drifted towards and washed over the Zubat, who took in one or two breaths before beginning to cough uncontrollably and plummet to earth. Soul pounced upon it, clamping his jaws around its left wing and spitting up Ember attacks before throwing the bat to the ground and slashing wildly with Scratch. As the lizard backed off, Zubat struggled to get back up but with no lift and injured shoulders, it couldn’t take off and flee, only lie there and screech weakly.

    Grey saw his chance then; he swiftly dug into his bag for a pokéball and tossed it at the weakened zubat. The ball sucked into it with a flash of red light shaking violently as the creature tried to break free from it. Grey, June and their pokémon watched for a tense few seconds before the ball stopped moving completely. The capture was complete. Grey ran up to it and released the bat scooping it up into his arms where it thrashed and squealed and beat its wings furiously in an attempt to escape. Waves of pure, undiluted fear rolled off the shore of its mind and reached Grey’s at full force. The boy plopped down and reached into his backpack for a potion. He sprayed the medicine on Zubat’s wounds wincing as her shrieks grew louder and more pained tried to shush her into calmness. When that failed, he returned her to the pokéball and resolved to get her to a center as soon as possible.

    Grey let out a breath he never knew he held and moved to tend to Soul's bite wound. The charmander proudly and stubbornly refused treatment. Nevertheless, a grin slowly spread across Grey's face as one thought overtook all others.

    His first capture! And it was successful! Granted, he knew that most first catches would end in success but the fact of the matter was that he and Soul did it on their own.

    “Thanks, buddy,” he whispered. “You did great!” The fire lizard affectionately nipped his finger when his trainer finished treating the injury and happily returned to his pokéball for a rest.

    “Hey!” June slid to a stop and offered her hand to Grey to help him up. He took it without hesitating, still grinning from ear to ear. “You did great!”

    “Honestly thought I’d fail,” breathed Grey. “My heart was pounding.” Then he remembered why he came into the forest to begin with. “Oh, right! We should probably get you home and I should get her to a proper clinic.” June nodded and took the lead.

    “C’mon, I know a shortcut back.”

    The pair chatted as they walked; small talk like where the other was from and when their birthdays were. He told her he hailed from Puel Town, Almia but was born in Fiore and that he recently turned sixteen. June had been born in Sunyshore City and moved to Breeze Town a few months after. She was seventeen and turning eighteen next spring, so she was about a year older than Grey. When June announced they were almost out of the forest, they heard marching footsteps approaching them and the boy stopped short. She gave him a puzzled look and asked him what was wrong but Grey was high-alert and didn’t hear her. He had a bad feeling all of a sudden; ill intent inundated his senses.

    A party of men and women dressed in brown uniforms and combat boots slathered in mud from their long hike marched by in a perfectly organized line. All of them wore dark goggles and facemasks, hard leather-and-metal pauldrons on both shoulders and pokéball belts indicating their status as trainers. Most of them marched by without acknowledging the teenagers but a few nodded or waved in their direction.

    Bringing up the rear, curiously enough, were three scientists and a tall dark-haired man wearing a more ornate version of the brown uniform who kept his entire right arm encased in metal armor. Grey tried his best to keep his unease from showing but the man must have caught it, for he grinned at him and said,

    “You know, you shouldn’t look so hostile, kind,” in a low rumbling voice. “People might think you’re looking to start a fight.” Rosewood’s fur bristled and Grey could feel enmity coming from Sylva in the treetops.

    “No fights,” Grey answered evenly. “My pokémon are hurt and we’re just heading home.” June nodded to affirm his statement. William laughed once and continued on nonchalantly.

    “Alright. Just get home soon. The woods are dangerous at night. Never know what might jump out of the dark at you. Hehehehe…”

    June waited until they were out of earshot before whispering, “What was that about?” Grey’s eyes remained fixed on the contingent, not answering until he saw the last one disappear into the forest.

    “I dunno…” he muttered. “But I got weird vibes from him…” he trailed off into silence. Better to just ignore it, he decided. It wasn’t as if he’d ever see that man again. “Let’s just get back.”

    He took one step forward and let out a piercing yell stumbling back and falling over. A bellsprout strutted oddly by on the ground and two weepinbell followed it by swinging from the branches. Shaking like a leaf, Grey scampered away on all fours and kicked at the bellsprout in an attempt to shoo it. The sentient plant fixed the human with a confused expression, its flower head turned to one side. Sensing no threat, it continued on its way as if nothing had happened.

    “Yeah, you better run!” Grey said, his voice rising in pitch. “And don’t come back!” He shivered audibly and stood dusting off the seat of his pants. “I hate those things!”

    “Grey, is something wrong?” asked a concerned June. The boy heaved a sigh and vigorously shook his head.

    “I just don’t like bellsprout. I really don’t like bellsprout.”

    June cocked her head to the side, wide-eyed and curious. “Why?” Caution evident in his step, Grey tentatively moved forward only relaxing once he was sure it was safe.

    “Long story,” he called over his shoulder. He lowered his voice to a whisper sighing once more. “Very long story…”

    ---

    !Grey obtained a new item!

    Pokédex – An electronic encyclopedia housing data on all known species of pokémon. Can track vital signs, health and growth. Indispensable to a trainer.

    Assorted Pokéballs – Devices used to capture and store pokémon. Developed by Silph Co. and Devon Corp; specialty balls crafted and imported from Azaelea, Johto.
     
  7. Grey catches a Pokemon and mysterious people appear!

    Sorry it took so long to reply, but this chapter was great just like the last one--especially with the descriptions. I quite liked Hawthorne laying down the ground rules, and it was cute how Grey got awkward around Juniper.

    I may not reply to every post you make, but I'll always be reading. Keep up the good work~
     
  8. ...

    I love this story~

    You've made pokemon realistic, and for that: I applaud you.

    Your style of writing is brilliant, and I like how you've done the characters.

    Can't wait to see more~
     
  9. Thanks :D It's taken me a (very long) while to develop a writing style I'm comfortable with and I think I've nailed it with this. As for this story, it's actually a redux I've been thinking over in my head. The original draft was started when I was, like, 15 and a much worse writer than I am now. I could NOT move a plot forward to save my skinny ass.

    I took it apart and started thinking about what I could do to make it better; while I was doing that, I recalled a story that made Pokemon realistic and decided to try my hand at it while still keeping some of the magic and general what-the-fuckery of what we grew up with. If your review is any indication, I did a good job XD

    Characters, though, that's where I think I really shine. Characters and character interaction. Still have to be careful not to over-saturate a chapter with that, though. So far, we've gotten a handful of them introduced but there are a ton more coming in like the Gym Leaders, other traveling companions, evil team Admins and such. Can't wait for that part. So far, though, Grey, Amelia, June and a guy coming up later named Kestrel are my favorites for reasons you probably see now and will see later. James and Amber are OCs from friends of mine that I've basically adapted (coughcoughstolencough) to fit the story. I regret nothing <<
     
  10. It's Greyson again. Only I think my old account got poofed.

    Okay, wow. I have been gone 6 months. Thaaaat's... Not encouraging in the slightest. Excuses, excuses; been trying to adapt to basically life on my own and adulthood and college and all that, blah-de-blah. I'm really sorry, you guys ;-; Half of you who read this probably don't even remember me. Good news, though; I'll be posting the next chapter soon so... Bear with me?
     

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