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Prelude to Adventure

by Psycho Monkey

Psycho Monkey This story is a midqual of sorts bridging the gap between "A New Beginning" and the upcoming PRP "The Great Unova Treasure Hunt". Even if you aren't in the RP, this is still a good read that stands on its own with only a little hint of foreshadowing. :p
Prelude to Adventure

Where do I go from here?

That question had been nagging at Shiro Yukimura all morning. He was now ready to leave his home town of Castelia City to begin his journey as a Pokémon Trainer with his Oshawott, Mizuki. He originally wanted to leave the day he got Mizuki, his first Pokémon, and start his journey right away, however after hitting a few snags that fateful first day Shiro decided to stay home for a week to properly get to know his new Pokémon.

Shiro sat on his bed in his room dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans, a purple T-shirt, and black and white checkered wrist warmers. Sitting next to him was Mizuki, a small otter with light blue fur covering most of her body, a furry white face, darker blue ears, feet, and tail, and a tan seashell on her chest called a Scalchop.

“Well Mizuki, the time has finally come. Are you as ready as I am to finally get this journey started?” he asked the Oshawott. She blushed slightly but responded with a big smile showing off her small fangs. She was just as excited as her Trainer to see the outside world. After he finished tying his white running shoes, Shiro got up and looked at himself in the mirror. His brown hair was a mess as always but he decided to not even try to comb it because for once it was covering his ears which he personally thought were too big and should never be seen by anyone.

He gave himself and Mizuki a confident smile before grabbing his black backpack and slinging it over his shoulders. The backpack contained all of the necessities for being a Trainer: extra Pokéballs, compliments of Prof. Juniper, various medicines like Potions and Antidotes, several changes of clothes including a dark green windbreaker for cold weather, a map of the Unova Region, his Pokédex, again a gift from the Professor, his Xtranceiver for calling people when needed, and most importantly food. Shiro took one final deep breath before going downstairs where his family was waiting.

After saying his goodbyes, Shiro had to finally decide which direction he wanted to head first. One option was to stay in the city and either do some training in the Castelia Sewers, the park, or by challenging other Trainers. That would help make Mizuki stronger, sure, but at the same time it would feel like too much of a delay. Shiro was itching to leave the city and begin travelling. There was always taking the ferry to Virbank City, but then where was the fun in that? It would just be one city after another. Sure the place would be new and he was pretty sure there was a Gym there, but that did nothing to help toughen up Mizuki. If he couldn’t even beat a damn clown, what change did he have in a different Gym? Go north to Route 4 then? Shiro had heard that the Route 4 desert was home to an abundant number of Ground and Fire-type Pokémon which Mizuki had an advantage over. But the desert was also known for harsh sandstorms that would burn the eyes and choke the lungs. He wasn’t sure if he and Mizuki had the fortitude for such an endeavor. They would have to travel through the desert one day to get to Northern Unova, but that time would have to wait until Shiro had more Pokémon who were strong enough to endure the harsh climate.

“That just leaves Skyarrow Bridge.” the boy said to himself. The longest bridge in the Unova region connected Castelia City to Pinwheel Forest and the eastern peninsula of Unova. Pinwheel Forest seemed like the best place to go. It was the change of scenery Shiro was looking for and he could train his Oshawott there. He also couldn’t imagine a forest being as treacherous as a desert. It was settled then.

As Shiro walked to the southeastern most part of the city where the bridge was located, he kept Mizuki’s Pokéball clutched tightly in his hand. The city was too big and too busy and she was too small to walk beside him. It would be a nightmare if she got lost. Once Shiro had gotten to the gate that led to the Skyarrow Bridge he sent her back out.

“Are you ready Mizuki? I want you to be standing with me as we take our first steps out of the city. Our journey begins now!” he proclaimed. The Oshawott gave a silent nod. She was too shy to show as much enthusiasm as Shiro even though she shared his spirit. Both Trainer and Pokémon stepped through the gate onto the most awe inspiring architectural wonder in Unova.

Skyarrow Bridge was a mile long suspension bridge with a pedestrian walkway elevated above a double lane highway for people to drive to and from Castelia and Nacrene without needing to go through Pinwheel Forest. Every third of a mile two pristine white towers stood on either side of the bridge with long steel cables hanging down to keep the roads below secure. Situated every one hundred feet or so were street lamps to keep the bridge well lit at night. Shiro could only imagine how beautiful the bridge would look at night, especially with the view of Castelia City lit up as well. Whatever happened, he would have to make sure that he returned to Castelia at night.

Shiro and Mizuki eventually arrived at a viewing area on the other side of the bridge where one could see Castelia City on a clear day like today. Even from a mile away, the city still looked as large and imposing as it did from the inside. The Trainer chuckled to himself as he thought about people who entered the city for the first time from here unprepared. After a few moments of enjoying the view of his home, Shiro turned towards the gate that led into Pinwheel Forest with Mizuki following close behind.

It was now late afternoon. Shiro was taking his time going through the forest because he was really in no rush to get to Nacrene City. And why would he be? The air was fresh and clean compared to musty city air and the green grass and trees were more pleasing to look at than steel and concrete. The sky was obscured by the forest canopy, but warm rays of sunlight still penetrated to the ground. A warm June breeze blew by carrying the crisp scent of nature with it. It was a pleasing aroma that was rarely found in Castelia City. Only the park came close but that was still a long shot.

Still, this was no vacation and Shiro knew that. The second reason he was taking his time was so that he could give Mizuki what he considered to be much needed training. How could he make his dream of becoming the Champion come true if he couldn’t even beat a single Trainer? However the training wasn’t easy. Most of the Pokémon Shiro encountered were either Bug or Grass-type. Grass-type in particular being Mizuki’s natural weakness made battling them incredibly difficult.

“At least it’s good practice for countering that weakness.” Shiro thought to himself deciding to take a positive outlook on the situation. He also thought of battling the Bug-types as good practice for when he challenged Castelia Gym next. Even so, they were still troublesome. Sewaddle was duel-typed Bug/Grass and Venipede was also a Poison-type. In the case of the latter, Mizuki could get poisoned and Shiro only had a few Antidotes. Luckily, she only got poisoned once today. One thing was becoming more and more certain, even after resting in her Pokéball, Mizuki couldn’t do this alone. It was time for Shiro to catch another Pokémon.

As he searched, Shiro decided that the Flying-type Pidove would probably be his best option as it was strong against the other types in Pinwheel Forest. The sound of rustling grass alerted him to the presence of a Wild Pokémon.

“This is it!” He pulled out his otter’s Pokéball. “Go get ‘em Mizuki! Blast whatever is hiding in the grass with Water Gun!” he called throwing the sphere. Once the Oshawott fully materialized she opened her mouth and sprayed a stream of water at the bush. To Shiro’s surprise the yell he heard from the grass was unlike any Pokémon cry he had heard today. To confirm his suspicion, the monster that jumped out of the bush was a small monkey which had mostly red fur save for the tan fur on it chest, arms, and mouth. It had large ears with orange inner ears and a long tail with the fur in the end shaped like a flame. The fur on its head was also shaped like a flame.

“What is that thing?” Shiro inquired pulling out his Pokédex.

‘Pansear, the High Temp Pokémon. When it is angered, the temperature of its head tuft reaches 600° F. It uses its tuft to roast berries.’ the Pokédex read. From the steam rising from Pansear’s head, Shiro knew it wasn’t too happy about that bath it received. The monkey spat a small flame at Mizuki doing little harm to the Water-type.

“We have to catch this one Mizuki! Use Tail Whip and Tackle!” called Shiro. The fact that this was the first Pansear he had seen all day meant it was a rare find and that this might be his only chance at getting one. The Otter Pokémon slapped Pansear with her paddle-like tail to knock it off balance and then slammed her shoulder into the monkey. Pansear responded by Scratching her with its small claws.

“Get it with another Tackle!” the young Trainer commanded. Mizuki slammed her body into Pansear again knocking it back a few feet. The High Temp Pokémon growled at the duo as a bright red glow surrounded its body whisping around like a flame.

“Woah.” Shiro whispered to himself at the display. Pansear inhaled deeply before blasting a larger flame than before at Mizuki. The Oshawott crossed her arms to block but still sustained a lot of damage. A blue glow then surrounded her body flowing around her like a current of water. Shiro knew this to be her Torrent Ability which meant that Pansear had the Fire-type counterpart Blaze.

“Alright Mizuki! It seems to be weakening down. Use another Tackle!” Shiro called. He knew that if he used Water Gun than there was a risk Pansear would flee back into the forest never to be found again. The Oshawott rammed her opponent again knocking it to one knee.

“Now!” Shiro yelled as he threw an empty Pokéball at Pansear. The red and white orb opened engulfing the monkey in a red light and drawing it in. The Pokéball shook violently as Pansear struggled to break free but in the end the shaking stopped followed by a click as the ball locked.

“YES!” cried the Trainer jumping for joy, unable to contain his excitement. Mizuki was also looking content at both her accomplishment and the chance of getting to know her new teammate. Shiro walked over to the Pokéball, picked it up, and stared at it with a proud look on his face at having caught his first wild Pokémon.

He looked up Pansear in the Pokédex to learn that it was a male and the Fire move he was using is called Incinerate. Shiro then sent out the monkey hoping to get to know him better. Pansear stared up at Shiro then shifted his gaze to Mizuki who in turn bashfully averted her eyes.

“I think I’ll call you Kisaru.” said Shiro officially naming his Pansear after thinking it over a few seconds. “Welcome to the team.” he added with a smile. Kisaru gave his new Trainer a confused look before putting his hand up to his ear.

“Kisaru? What are you doing?” the young Trainer questioned. The Pansear paused for a second then stood on his tippy toes and pushed his ear closer to Shiro. At first he was still confused as to what the new Pokémon was trying to say, but then it started to dawn on him. Could this Pokémon be deaf? Shiro began feeling horrified and guilty. There was no way he could raise a Pokémon that couldn’t hear his commands. Maybe if he were a more experienced Trainer, but at this point in time that was too much responsibility. At the same time what was the morality of releasing the Pansear back into the wild? Would he feel rejected because of his disability? Would it be for the best since Shiro knew he couldn’t take care of it? He could always just keep it until he got to the Pokémon Center in Nacrene City and give it up there.

Shiro felt something tugging at his pants leg breaking him from his depressing thoughts. He looked down to see Mizuki and Kisaru looking up at him with hungry looks on their faces.

“I guess you two are ready for dinner.” he stated. Both Pokémon nodded excitedly. Shiro raised an eyebrow at Kisaru’s response. It was almost as if the monkey understood what he said that time. “Kisaru? Do you want food?” he asked. Kisaru rapidly nodded practically salivating. Little did Shiro know, the Pansear had been foraging his meal prior to his capture. The young Trainer took a step back from shock. “You really can hear what I said! You’re not deaf at all!” he shouted in surprise. Kisaru put his hand up to his ear again, this time with a big grin. All Shiro could do was laugh as all of his worries about what to do with Kisaru faded away.

“Alright! Let’s eat!” he said taking off his backpack. He had stocked up enough food to last himself, Mizuki, and two potential new Pokémon a week. He opened three Item Balls, which were grey spheres that superficially resembled Pokéballs, and evenly distributed the food inside. Dinner was nothing fancy, just some fruits, vegetables, and bread. Meat would be a lot harder to keep on a long journey if not eaten right away. Plus Shiro was somewhat of a lousy cook. Kisaru took several berries and placed them against his head which began glowing a warm shade of red. Mizuki smashed her food with her Scalchop to make it easier to chew and swallow.

After eating, Shiro and his Pokémon cleaned up and went on their way until nightfall when they set up camp for the night.

“Kisaru! Finish it with Incinerate!” commanded Shiro. The High Temp Pokémon took a deep breath then spat out a small flame at a yellow worm Pokémon wrapped in a green leaf. The Sewaddle screamed in agony as it fell unconscious.

“Aw man!” sighed the Pokémon’s Trainer as he returned it to its Pokéball. It was now the following day. While continuing to train his Pokémon, Shiro ran into another Trainer who bragged about how his shorts were comfy and easy to wear before challenging Shiro to a battle. Unfortunately for the Youngster, he was the one who lost. The two parted ways with Shiro in high spirits from his recent victory. He could tell his Pokémon were getting stronger.

A few hours later he had reached the gate that led out of the densest part of Pinwheel Forest into a meadow that bled into Nacrene City. This part of Pinwheel Forest was a mostly open field with some areas of dense tree cover and a cliff to the southeast that Trainers could climb. ‘I’ll come back this way and check all of that out later’ Shiro thought to himself. Right now his first impulse was to get to Nacrene City as fast as possible, heal his Pokémon at the Pokémon Center, and win himself a Badge.

When he finally arrived in town, Shiro was awed by the scene before him. Nearly every building was refurnished or repurposed from old warehouses or century old buildings that no longer had any use in the modern era. Also, it seemed like the walls of every nonresidential building were covered in graffiti of some sort. Some ranged from random words or pictures drawn in spray paint like the kinds seen in the bad neighborhoods of Castelia to full on murals that were painted with the utmost care. He knew that this place was the art capital of Unova, if not the world, but to see it in person was impressive.

On his way to the Pokémon Center, Shiro noted that the city was anything but quiet. It wasn’t noisy with the sounds of traffic and yelling either. The streets were alive with the sound of music. People were on street corners playing guitars, violins, flutes, harmonicas, and many other instruments. They were also respectful enough of each other to be spaced out far enough so that one’s song did not interfere with another.

“Mizuki! Kisaru! You two have to see this!” Shiro called sending out his Pokémon. The two were looking pretty weary from their battles with Wild Pokémon and other Trainers in the forest but they perked up slightly upon seeing and hearing the wonders the city had to offer. Kisaru even ran off to dance with a couple of street performers wearing hoodies with odd facial markings on the hood who seemed to be doing their own interpretive dance to a song Shiro was unfamiliar with.

“Kisaru!” Shiro cried in a panic running after his monkey. The Pansear yelped in surprise as his Trainer bent down to pick him up. “Sorry about that!” he apologized to the dancers.

“Quite alright friend.” one of them said with an understanding nod and a friendly smile.

“Your Pokémon is a really good dancer. You should enter it in a Pokémon Musical in Nimbasa sometime.” said the other one.

“Maybe if he behaves I can reward him with that.” he said looking down at the Pansear in his arms. Kisaru looked up into his Trainer’s eyes, then with a big grin put his hand to his ear pretending he didn’t catch that. “Let’s go you crazy monkey.” said Shiro with a laugh.

The Pokémon Center was in the southern part of the city right across the street from a set of abandoned train tracks. Shiro could tell they were no longer used by how they were rusted and there was grass growing between the rails. Just like everything else in the town, the Pokémon Center had a rustic look to it implying that it wasn’t originally a place to rest and restore Pokémon. The fact that it had a porch that sat closer to the abandoned tracks than any other building gave the impression that the Pokémon Center may have once been the old train station.

While his Pokémon were being healed by the nurse, Shiro looked at his map to pinpoint where the Gym was in this town. Much to his intrigue, the Gym was inside the Nacrene Museum which was on the other side of the city.

“I guess it won’t hurt to have a look around after I win. It will be a nice treat for my Pokémon after a job well done.” the young Trainer said to himself. Once his Pokémon had been well rested and battle ready, Shiro took them straight to the museum to challenge the Gym Leader.

The museum wasn’t hard to find as it was the largest building in the entire city. The front was long and rectangular with pillars leading up to the roof which was flat at the front but curved up into a large domed top towards the back. Each wing of the museum had its own dome for three in total. Shiro walked up the stairs and through the double doors to enter the museum.

The first thing that greeted him when he entered was the sight of a giant skeleton of some kind of Dragon Pokémon. Even though he wanted to battle the Gym Leader right away, Shiro couldn’t help but find his legs walking him around. He sent out Mizuki and Kisaru so that they could see the exhibits with him. Aside from the dragon skeleton, there were skeletons and fossils of other Pokémon, both extinct and extant, unidentified bones, relics from an ancient era, meteorites, and other assorted artifacts from Unova’s past. In one part of the museum, there was a hallway that was roped off to prevent access. The words “Exhibit Coming Soon” were written on a sign hanging from the ropes.

“Well that’s disappointing.” Shiro lamented crossing his arms. He most likely wouldn’t be back to the museum after winning his Badge so he’d never get to see the new exhibit. That’s right! He was here for a Badge! Shiro shook his head. He couldn’t believe how easily he had forgotten his primary objective. But who could really blame him? This was a really cool place and he enjoyed learning more about his region’s history and seeing all of these neat things. Plus his Pokémon both had content looks on their faces meaning they had fun too.

“Alright, why don’t we find the Gym Leader now?” said Shiro as he returned his Pokémon to their Pokéballs. If he saw any more interesting exhibits between here and the Gym Leader, he’d have them walk out with him after getting the Badge.

There was a sign in the back of the museum sitting in front of a staircase that read “Museum Library and Nacrene Gym This Way” with an arrow pointing up the stairs. At the top was a single door that led into a large room filled with bookshelves. At the entrance to the room were two marble pillars with a golden plaque on each. Both plaques had the same inscription:

“Nacrene City Pokémon Gym
Gym Leader: Lenora xxxxxx
An Archeologist with Backbone”

Well this was definitely the right place. Shiro looked around the room. A lot of people were sitting at desks or in chairs reading books. Anyone of them could be Lenora. Or rather any of the women could be.

“Yo!” greeted a young boy holding his arm up in greeting. The boy wore a pair of blue shorts, a yellow T-shirt, and a blue cap. “Are you a challenger for the Gym?” he asked.

“I am. Could you tell me where Lenora is?” Shiro answered. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was something about this situation that reminded him of his encounter with Sideways the Clown. The boy pounded his fist in his other hand. Yup. There it was. This boy was a Trainer. Couldn’t Shiro ever walk into a Gym and just fight the Gym Leader?

“Miss Lenora doesn’t accept challenges from just anyone. In order to earn the right to face her, you have to do some research in the library.” The boy then got a sly look in his eyes. “Then again, there are already a lot of people here. Maybe I should do my own research and find out if you are even worthy to challenge Miss Lenora!” he challenged pulling out a Pokéball.

“Fine then! I’ll battle you!” declared Shiro grabbing Mizuki’s Pokéball. This was NOT going to be like last time. “Let’s go Mizuki!” he called sending out his otter. The Oshawott gave a meek but determined expression. She refused to be beaten this time.

“My name is Joey! And this is my Rattata!” the boy introduced as he sent out a small rodent with purple fur on its back, tail, snout, and legs, tan fur on its face, belly, and feet, long whiskers under its nose, and large buck teeth coming from its mouth even with it closed. “My Rattata is in the top percentage of Rattata! You’ll never beat me!” Joey bragged. “Now my super Rattata! Focus Energy!” The Rat Pokémon gave a battle cry as it began charging up its power which created a pale white aura to appear around it.

“That won’t stop us! Mizuki! Rush in with Tackle!” Shiro commanded. Mizuki ran at her opponent and rammed her body into its left flank.

“That weak move won’t beat Rattata! Use Bite!” Joey called. Rattata lunged at Mizuki and sunk its fangs into her torso causing her to cry out in pain. The Sea Otter Pokémon removed her Scalchop and started beating Rattata’s head until it got fed up and released her. “Get rid of that seashell with Tail Whip!” countered Joey. Rattata swiped at Mizuki’s hand with its long tail knocking away her Scalchop. In a panic, the otter ran after it leaving herself wide open. “Gotcha now! Quick Attack!”

“Mizuki! Behind you!” Shiro shouted. But it was too late. Rattata slammed into Mizuki from behind knocking her on her face. The Oshawott wasn’t done though. A brilliant blue aura surrounded her body as she got up. She picked up her Scalchop and reattached it to her chest before turning towards her opponent. “Let’s see Rattata stand up to your Water Gun!” called Shiro triumphantly. Mizuki opened her mouth wide unleashing a powerful blast of water. The Rat Pokémon yelped as it was washed into a wall by the deluge.

“No way! How could my top percentage Rattata lose! Man, your Oshawott must be in the top percentage of Oshawott!” complemented Joey as he returned his fallen Pokémon.

“I’ll say!” said Shiro excitedly as he gave his Pokémon a high-five at her success. “So by your research, am I ready to battle the Gym Leader?” he asked cockily.

“You still have to follow Gym rules, but you might be able to win. Just remember that Miss Lenora is a lot stronger than me. She’s in the top percentage of Trainers!”

“Uh huh. So this research we have to do?” Shiro inquired.

“Oh yeah.” Joey pointed over to a table near the entrance of the Gym. “Grab one of those sheets of paper and answer the questions on it. The answers are in the books around the library but you have to find the right ones. And don’t think you can copy off of someone else. All of the questions are random and come from different books. You can ask other Trainers for help if you get stuck, but you have to battle them to get a hint.” he explained.

Shiro groaned. He finished school only to have to take more tests! It wasn’t fair! It was eighth grade year all over again. In order to be a Trainer he had to get straight A’s and this was no different. It would seem now that life was nothing but one test after another. So be it! Shiro would just have to pass them all! He used a Potion to heal Mizuki, grabbed a questionnaire, and went to work.

After half an hour Shiro had finished. The test wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be. All of the questions were straight and to the point. The hardest part was actually finding the answers. Either that or all of the studying he had done the past year both in school and his online classes with Prof. Juniper had warped his mind to find this stuff easy. After turning in his test and confirming that he got the right answers, Shiro was taken to a secret staircase that went directly to Lenora’s office.

“Hello?” he called when he got to the bottom of the stairs. The room he was in now was a large battlefield like the kind used in tournaments. At the far end of the field was a tall woman with dark skin and a large afro of black hair tied back with a red and pink striped bow. She wore red shoes, blue pants, and a pink apron overtop a white shirt. She sat at a desk covered in books and papers. Behind her were cabinets full of various items and more bookshelves. Shiro couldn’t help but wonder if she had read all of those books and the ones upstairs in the library. How much time would one need to actually accomplish that? Especially with being a Gym Leader.

“Ah, welcome challenger! I am Lenora, the Gym Leader of Nacrene Gym and Director of the Nacrene Museum!” the woman introduced getting up from the desk and walking over to the field. “And what is your name?”

“I am Shiro Yukimura!” he answered. “Before we battle, I have a question. What was the point of that test to get down here?” he asked. He really wanted to battle now, but he was also curious as to what the point was for all of that.

“That is a fair question. You see Shiro, I like researching the different kinds of Trainers who challenge me. Everyone is different with their own strengths and weaknesses. Those who are too impatient to take my test are probably also too impatient with raising their Pokémon. The Pokémon League’s rules say that a Gym Leader can give out Badges to any Trainer they find worthy. Patience is a quality that I think everyone needs to have, especially when raising Pokémon. If you are not patient with your Pokémon then you miss out on the beauty of being a Trainer.” Lenora explained.

Shiro never thought about it that way, but Lenora had a point. Because he rushed things on the first day, he got beaten easily by two Trainers he wasn’t ready to face.

“Well then Shiro, I would now like to research how you battle! How many Badges do you have?” the Gym Leader asked.

“None. This will be my first.” answered Shiro. He wondered why it mattered anyway.

“Zero Badge challenge it is then.” Lenora walked over to her desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out two Pokéballs. “Go! Patrat!” she called throwing one of the balls. Emerging was a small bipedal rodent with short brown fur, a stiff tail with a fluffy white tip, and crazy looking eyes. Shiro couldn’t tell if the sclera were supposed to be yellow or red.

“Right! Let’s win a Badge Kisaru!” Shiro called sending out his Pokémon. “Attack with Scratch!” Kisaru ran towards his opponent with his arm pulled back to swipe at his opponent.

“Not so fast! Use Sand-Attack Patrat!” Lenora commanded. The Scout Pokémon kicked at the dirt floor of the field sending a cloud of dust into Kisaru’s eyes momentarily blinding him. The monkey swiped at what he thought was Patrat but his depth perception was off causing him to fall short of his target. “Now Patrat! Bide your time!” Lenora followed up.

“Kisaru! Do nothing but Leer at Patrat until I tell you otherwise!” commanded Shiro. He remembered the last time an opponent used Bide and he wasn’t making the same mistake twice. While Patrat stood there motionlessly trying to store energy, Kisaru was glaring menacingly at it causing it to become nervous.

“Nevermind then! Patrat! Use Bite instead!” the Gym Leader countered. The chipmunk broke from its trance then jumped at its foe taking a bite out of Kisaru’s right arm causing the monkey to scream in pain.

“You’ve got it now! Use Scratch!” called Shiro. With his free arm, the High Temp Pokémon raked Patrat on the face and body until it let him go. “Now Kisaru! Use Incinerate!” he ordered realizing he had an opening. The Fire-type spat a ball of fire at Patrat.

“Detect!” shouted Lenora quickly. Patrat’s eyes got a weird gleam in them. It then ducked at the last second before Kisaru’s attack would have struck leaving the flames to extinguish harmlessly on the floor. “Put that Pansear to sleep with Hypnosis Patrat!” she called. The Scout Pokémon’s eyes started to swirl in a mesmerizing way as it looked directly into Kisaru’s eyes. The monkey started feeling dizzy at first then his eyelids started feeling heavy before he finally fell backwards in a deep slumber.

“No! Kisaru! Wake up! Open your eyes! You have to fight!” Shiro cried. There was no way he was going to lose the match because his Pokémon decided to take a nap!

“If you would rather switch Pokémon than let your Pansear get beaten you may.” offered the Gym Leader.

“Why? So you can put her to sleep too?” Shiro said accusingly.

“That would just be the risk you’ll have to take. Battling is all about research and analysis. You must analyze an opponent’s style and use that knowledge to win.” she informed. Shiro reluctantly returned Kisaru to his Pokéball and readied Mizuki’s.

“Fine! You want her, here she is! Let’s go Mizuki!” he called sending out the otter. She nervously shuffled her feet knowing how important this battle was.

“Use Leer Patrat!” called Lenora resuming the fight. The chipmunk glared at Mizuki threateningly causing her to lose focus.

“Don’t give up!” Shiro encouraged. “Use Tail Whip followed by Tackle!” The Oshawott got in close and smacked Patrat in the face with her tail. Patrat closed its eyes to protect them from the sudden attack then cried out from the sting of getting hit. Mizuki then slammed into the Scout Pokémon’s torso knocking the wind out of it. Lenora readied its Pokéball when it didn’t get back up.

“You did well Patrat. Take a rest.” she said calling it back. “Go! Lillipup!” Emerging from the Pokéball was a small canine with dark brown fur covering most of its body, thick bushy cream colored fur on its face, and a dark blue patch going down its back. To say the least it was very cute. Even Shiro wasn’t immune to its charm.

“Lillipup! Avenge Patrat with Retaliate!” commanded the Gym Leader. The Puppy Pokémon howled vengefully before running at Mizuki and slamming into her so hard the otter went flying into a wall.

“Mizuki!” yelled Shiro anxiously. That attack’s power was unreal! Shiro looked at Lenora and Lillipup with wide eyes and a panicked look on his face. So this was the power of a Gym Leader. No wonder they were in a league of their own. He turned back to his Oshawott who was already glowing with the power of Torrent. It was frightening that a single attack could do that much damage.

“Use Water Gun Mizuki!” the Trainer commanded hoping that the Torrent fueled attack would be enough to beat the Gym Leader’s last Pokémon. Mizuki sprayed Lillipup with a powerful blast of water leaving it soaked but not beaten.

“Lillipup! Finish Oshawott off with Take Down!” Lenora called. Lillipup rammed into Mizuki again dealing heavy damage to her and itself. Mizuki tried to get back up, but collapsed unable to continue fighting.

“Dammit!” yelled Shiro returning her to her Pokéball. “Come on Kisaru! I need you to wake up!” he begged sending out the still sleeping monkey.

“End this battle with Return Lillipup!” commanded Lenora. The Puppy Pokémon focused on its love for its Trainer and channeled that love into a powerful tackle. Not even the damage sustained from that attack was enough to wake up Kisaru. Shiro could do nothing but helplessly watch Lillipup beat Kisaru until the Pansear fainted. That was it. He had lost his first Gym Battle.

“Kisaru, return.” he said despondently. If only his Pokémon hadn’t fallen asleep he could have won! Shiro cursed himself for not having any Awakenings in his backpack. If he had at least one, then Kisaru could have at least put up a fight.

“Even though you didn’t win, you should reflect on this battle and learn from your mistakes. A little research can go a long way. I look forward to your next challenge.” Lenora said supportively. A Gym Leader’s job was to test Trainers after all. If she lost, that was fine. She loved learning about new battle styles. If she won, that was fine too. She was always curious to see how those Trainers would improve. Would they come back right away or would they collect more Badges before returning?

Shiro only nodded to Lenora’s sentiments before leaving the Gym. He was beyond disappointed that he had lost again, but he was already formulating ways to win next time. First, he would stock up on Awakenings at the shop in the Pokémon Center. The other thing he had realized was that he rushed things again. Since leaving Castelia City he only had two days of training in Pinwheel Forest. That was it. If he wanted to kick this losing streak, Shiro would need to stop jumping into battles so rashly. He needed to actually spend some proper time raising his Pokémon.

Even though the sky was in the darkest stage of twilight just before the sun disappeared below the horizon, the streets of Nacrene were bustling with activity. The city seemed more alive now than it was during the day. Shiro figured now that people were off of work they could go out and experience the night life.

“Why not.” he said to himself. He had decided that after healing his Pokémon, he’d explore the city and take in what it had to offer too. Starting bright and early the next day however, he was going to seriously buckle down and return to Pinwheel Forest to train his Pokémon.