1. We have moved to a new forum system. All your posts and data should have transferred over. Welcome, to the new Serebii Forums. Details here
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Be sure to join the discussion on our discord at: Discord.gg/serebii
    Dismiss Notice
  3. If you're still waiting for the e-mail, be sure to check your junk/spam e-mail folders
    Dismiss Notice

Gym Rat [PG-13]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Smunkie, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    A/N: Hello, dear readers, and welcome to my first fanfic. This is just an idea that I've had in my head for awhile and finally got motivated enough to write down. Be harsh - I need the criticism. Also, in case anyone cares, I'm using my FireRed game as reference for most description of towns, buildings, items, etc. And I don't own Pokemon in any way, shape, or form, although I sure as heck wish I did. The guy must be frickin rich.

    Rated PG-13 for language, violence, "dark themes," and to be on the safe side. There's nothing major.

    WARNING - This fic does indeed contain many "cliches," including but not necessarily limited to: Eevee, Team Rocket, and (a bit later on) The Magical Traveling Trio(c). If you decide to continue on despite this, I do hope that you enjoy it.

    a person
    Viva La Revolution

    And so, without much further ado about nothing, I present to you:

    Gym Rat

    Chapter One

    Sebastian McDuff was not having a good day.

    Or, more precisely, he was not having a good couple of days, because yesterday hadn't been so hot either. That was using hot in the slang sense, of course, because it had most certainly been hot in the temperature sense. And, of course, he had been wearing a suit. His best suit, in fact, that was now not really his best suit seeing as the slog through Viridian Forest hadn't agreed with it at all.

    He wouldn't have had to slog through Viridian Forest, however, if the Viridian Gym Leader had bothered to do his job, but no, the little b*stard had been gone. Perhaps out on a Sunday stroll, who knew? He sure didn't! So he had had to go on a Sunday stroll of his own through a Weedle-infested, Butterfree-possessed hellhole of a wilderness, getting lost of course, because that just put the icing on top of the proverbial cupcake, didn't it? And getting lost meant that he had had to spend the night in the Mew-forsaken cesspool, sleeping on the ground in what had so recently been his best suit because he, of course, hadn't packed a sleeping bag, because he hadn't planned on needing one. That was what Pokémon Centers were for, right? Well, not if you couldn't reach one before dark! Ha ha, joke's on you! the forest chuckled as it sent every single one of its Caterpie to invade his personal bubble during the night. That was what he had woken up to on this fine Monday morning - a living, squirming coat of Caterpie.

    And there was no coffee.

    But wait, there was more misery! Because now that he had finally found the exit, the wonderful light at the end of this very leafy tunnel, guess what?

    His Pokémon was refusing to follow the plan, that was what!

    "We've been over this, Nana!" he cried, waving his arms in exasperation. This waving was actually quite dangerous, because he was wielding an evil-looking spike with a poison sack at its base. "But hey, I'll spell it out for you again. I've got plenty of time! My reservation at the Center expired, mmkay, and some Pidgey-toting newbie has taken it by now. That means that even though I finally got to the end of this forest I don't have a place to stay. Following me so far? Well, here's the catch: if you let me poison you with this, I'll get the sick-Pokémon priority rooms I know for a fact every Center has. Got it? I know you want to stay in a nice clean room tonight just as much as I do, which means you want to go along with this plan just as much as I do. Right?"

    He glared at the beast, daring her to contradict him. She did nothing of the sort, simply sat in front of him with her bushy, black, yellow-ringed tail curled primly around her neat little paws. Her large red eyes stared up at him innocently and her bushy ringed ears lay flat against her head, the very picture of a poor pathetic victim. He wasn't fooled. He had taught her that trick himself (and teaching puppy-dog eyes to an Umbreon was no mean feat).

    "Look, the only way we're going to get a decent bed and a decent meal tonight is if you do this. It'll hurt less than a Poison Sting, I swear!"

    He reached towards her slowly with the Poison Barb, carefully edging closer to her leg -

    She scooted back smoothly, then resumed her puppy-dog stare.

    He ground his teeth in frustration, scowling hard enough to give himself a few new wrinkles. He squatted down and looked the creature straight in the eyes. "Alright, let's just have it be known that I am NOT spending another night in this thrice-damned forest," he hissed. "You ARE going to let me poison you, whether you like it or not. So are you going to make this easy, or are you going to make this hard?"

    She stuck her little pink tongue out at him.

    He pounced.

    She yelped and tried to evade him, but he had caught her by surprise. He wrapped an arm around her firmly and attempted to poke her with the Poison Barb in his free hand. She wriggled and snapped, making herself a hard target.

    "You just hold still you ungrateful little - OW!"

    He fell back on his rump and let the Umbreon go in his surprise, and she skittered a safe distance away. He paid no attention to her, having eyes only for the hole in his hand where the Poison Barb had pierced his skin.

    "Aw, sh*t," he said.

    He leaped to his feet, sending leaves flying, and danced around aimlessly with his hand around his injured wrist, wondering what the hell he was going to do. What the hell was he supposed to do? Of course he couldn't remember a damn thing from that mandatory Pokémon Appreciation class now that it would actually come in handy.

    Antidotes. Those cured poison, right? Would they even work on humans? Worth a shot.

    He dove for his near-by gym bag and rummaged through it, the fingers on his left hand already beginning to go numb. Spare suit (now his best suit), other clothes, bags of food, bottles of water, a Potion or two, toiletries...

    No Antidote. How could he not have an Antidote? Was he stupid? He must be, Mew dammit!

    He closed the gym bag in disgust and slung its strap over his shoulder. He would just have to hope that he could reach a Pokémon Center in time. He fumbled under his jacket at his belt, the clumsy poisoned hand making the simple task of grabbing a Pokeball a major chore.

    "Of course it was my left hand, of course, I'm left-handed, how many people are left-handed in this world? I just had to be one of them. And why was I holding the thing in my right hand anyway?" he growled to himself.

    Pokémon poison was the fastest acting in the world. He didn't have much time.

    He finally got the Pokeball he wanted off his belt and threw it to the forest floor with a cry of triumph. The creature that emerged could only be described as a fuzz ball; a fuzz ball with three sharp beaks on three heads that dangled from the ends of three long necks like dandelion stalks, the whole thing held up by a pair of ostrich legs that could kick you into last week. Dodrio, in all its feathery glory. He slammed the empty Pokeball back onto his belt, then scrambled onto the bird and held onto the middle neck for dear life.

    His arm was beginning to throb, his head was beginning to whirl. Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.

    "Get to the Pokémon Center, you puffball. It's that way," he ordered, wincing as he accidentally pointed with his bad hand. "Go as fast as you can." He turned to Umbreon, who was watching solemnly nearby, and glared daggers at her. "I hope you're happy. Follow this birdbrain and make sure he goes in the right direction. If the heads start fighting, bite him. And make sure I don't fall off!"

    He spurred the Dodrio into action with his heel. The bird squawked and began running, the Umbreon following along behind. He made sure that they were heading in the right direction - which they were for now, thank Mew - and then slumped down on the bird's back, closing his eyes and fighting back a wave of nausea. He grimaced, feeling the shudders coming, his legs beginning to twitch.

    Then the poison hit in full force and, in true Pokémon tradition, he fainted.


    It was his first mission, and he was equal parts excited and bundle of nerves.

    He watched as the van full of illegally-obtained (i.e. stolen) Pokémon backed into the alley, its tail-lights washing the brick of the buildings a bloody red. This light was like-wise reflected eerily off the black outfits he and his companions wore as they moved quickly to secure the shipment, rolling the truck's back open as noiselessly as possible. His suit was new and felt foreign against his skin as he worked. Oh, but it filled him with a sense of power, that suit, made the thrill of belonging to this group more concrete, more complete.

    But then came shouting from the front of the alley - cops! Everything became a whirl, a confusion of fleeing bodies and advancing figures, black and faceless. Cops! Where had
    they come from? How had they known? This wasn't supposed to happen! he thought as the yellow headlights of the van glinted off drawn guns. I don't understand, we were never caught! he pleaded soundlessly as the pop! of firing bullets filled his ears. He turned to run, to escape with the rest of his team, but he was too slow, too slow! He was struck again and again and again and...

    He started awake, attempting to sit up. He wasn't happy to find that he could only manage a pathetic little flop; he felt weaker than a day-old Magikarp. Guh, what a dream, he thought hazily.

    He surveyed his surroundings from his reclined position, and discovered with relief that he had made it to the Pokémon Center. The whole place gleamed with the pure white of total sanitation. Hospital beds stretched as far as the eye could see, some hidden by concealing curtains. As far as he could tell, he was the only human stupid enough to wind up here; all the occupied beds were so occupied by Pokémon, mostly the newbie kind like Rattata and Spearow. He was in Pewter, after all - Newbie City. The only mobile Pokémon back here were the Chansey, who bustled about busily, checking in on their patients and doing whatever nursely things they did. A few Nurse Joy milled around as well, making sure the Chansey were doing their job. Most of the Nurse Joys, however, would be up front, consoling the grieving trainers of the infirm Pokémon and manning the front desk. Thank Mew for that; he didn't know if his poor poison-addled brain could handle that much pink in one place.

    He gave sitting up another shot, and was pleased to find that he actually could. He gave himself a quick once-over, making a face at the IV in his right arm. His left arm he wasn't quite ready to see, and avoided it. A quick glance underneath the thin bed sheets revealed that he was naked from the waist up. He was not very pleased about that; who knew what they had done with his jacket and dress shirt? Even though the suit they belonged to was no longer his best, he could have still cleaned it up and made it almost as good as new. He needed two suits, that was the thing, and he didn't have the money to buy a new one. Well, at least he still had his pants and by extension his dignity, a small blessing in a world where blessings seemed to be scarce. His belt, complete with Pokeballs, was on the bedside table, and his battered, travel-worn gym bag was on the floor next to the same. His shoes rested on top of the bag, not nearly as shiny as they had been when he had first put them on.

    Nana was sleeping on his feet, a comforting, curled-up ball of warmth. He reached with his good arm and scratched behind her ears the way she liked; she stirred, woke, and stretched thoroughly with a massive yawn. Then she realized who was currently within strangling distance - the man that she had put in the hospital. He grinned at the deer-in-the-headlights expression on her face. The Umbreon, perhaps misjudging his grin as maniacal, jumped down from the bed and retreated a good distance away, watching him warily for any signs of murderous rage.

    "Don't worry, I'm not going to kill you," he reassured her, still smiling. "The whole thing was my own stupid fault. And a bed is a bed, right? Not what I had in mind, of course, but still a good night's sleep."

    She stayed firmly put, clearly not trusting him with her life. He didn't blame her.

    "By the way," he added, glancing at the Umbreon sidelong, "did you by any chance bring that Poison Barb with you?"

    She shook her head slowly.

    "Yeah, silly question," he sighed. He sure as hell wasn't going back into that forest, so it was gone for good. The Poison Barb trick had been one of his better ideas, too. It meant a guaranteed stay at any Pokémon Center, as long as the stupid Pokémon let itself be poisoned! Oh well. At least he wouldn't put himself in the hospital again - or at least, not for the same reason. Never put yourself in the hospital for the same reason twice, that's what he always said. That's what he would say if the topic ever happened to come up, anyway.

    "Ah, Mr. McDuff. Good to see you awake," said a beaming female voice. He could tell that she was beaming, too; the smile was perfectly audible.

    He turned to the Nurse Joy and slapped a smile of his own on his face. "Good to be awake, Miss Joy."

    "Wonderful!" she said, then took a chart out of the foot of his bed and began scribbling on it. As she did so, she started the conversation in a different direction. "You made quite a spectacle of yourself, Mr. McDuff. People didn't know WHAT to think when that Dodrio of yours raced through town!"

    He put on his shamefaced face; it was one of the best shamefaced faces around, if he did say so himself. "Yeaaah, about him. Did you get him back in the Pokeball alright? He can be a little...feisty."

    "Yes, he is a bit snappish, isn't he? You do know that there are laws against letting an aggressive Pokémon loose on the world at large?" she asked, pausing in her scribbling to give him A Look.

    Wow, the nice Nurse Joy sure disappeared fast. He was reminded eerily of his mother, who had always acted her nicest when he was in the most trouble. She would smile and say, 'Hello dear, how are you?' and feed him cookies and then - BAM! Nice Mom was gone and Mean Mom took her place, b*tching and moaning about how she knew for a fact that he had broken her vase yesterday, yes she did dust under the couches every once in awhile and just imagine her surprise when she found the pieces of her very best vase, the one her grandmother had given her, and he was grounded for a month!

    "Is that a trick question?" he countered, grinning his most winning grin.

    "Look, Mr. McDuff," she said, placing the chart on the bedside table with a snap. She was dropping the nice act. Uh-oh. "The Chansey are over excitable as it is, and when a vicious three-headed bird comes knocking on our door we don't take kindly to it." She held up a hand to stop his protests, continuing, "I'm sure that he probably saved your life by carrying you here, and I'm also sure that he listens to you and wouldn't hurt a fly if you were conscious, but please have more courtesy towards the Center staff in the future, alright?"

    He nodded humbly at this thorough scolding. Arguing was NOT what you did in a situation like this.

    "Good. Now, as for your poisoning, I'm not going to ask how that happened," she said, giving him another Look. "The Antidotes were able to flush it from your system, whatever it was from, and partially reverse the effects."

    "Partially?" he squeaked. Partially? What the heck were Centers even for if they could only heal you partially?! 'Oh, sorry Mr. Doe, but we could only sew your ear back on partially.' 'We could only partially treat your illness, Mrs. Peabody, sorry about that.' 'Oh, no, we only partially removed your appendix, kid, and as for that broken bone...well, who needs two arms anyway?'

    "...not as effective in humans, but nothing should be permanent, I assure you," he heard the nurse finish as he snapped out of his half-treatment nightmare.

    "So...I'm going to be fine," he hazarded.

    She nodded. "You're going to be fine."

    "Well!" he exhaled. "That's a relief!"

    "Hmm," she replied. "Let's get a look at that hand, shall we?"

    "Oh, uh," he stammered, for once not having to feign his reaction, which was right now one of extreme reluctance. "It's not rotting off or anything is it? I'm a bit squeamish, you see."

    "No, it's not rotting off," she assured him, seeming faintly amused. "Just a little swollen."

    "Hmm," it was his turn to say. Her definition of 'a little swollen' and his definition of 'a little swollen' were probably two entirely different things.

    They were, it turned out.

    His hand looked about twice its normal size, and oozed yellow stuff out of the puncture wound. It was also a nasty reddish-purple discoloration that looked seriously wrong. He felt his stomach turn a few sympathetic somersaults. The destruction ended just past his wrist, however - thankfully enough, his arm seemed fine.

    "Not as bad as I thought it would be," he managed breathlessly.

    "No," Nurse Joy agreed. "In fact, it's looking very good. That swelling will go down by the end of the day. You'll feel a few side-effects, but you could leave right now if you wanted. I certainly wouldn't stop you."

    "Side-effects such as...?"

    "Weakness, nausea, dizziness, mild pain, and a craving for carrots," she ticked off on her fingers, sounding as if she was reading off the back of a medicine bottle.


    She shrugged. "We haven't figured that one out."

    "Well," he said, swinging his legs out of the bed, "thank you for your expert care, Miss Joy, but I think I will be leaving at that."

    "Hold on..."

    "Ow!" said Sebastian as she yanked the IV out of his arm. He rubbed the resulting hole sourly, thinking nasty thoughts. It was time to get out of here.

    He stood up. A little shaky, sure, but otherwise peachy keen. Slow and steady, just one step -

    "Whoops," he said to the Rattata that he was now sprawled across. Luckily that next bed over had been there to catch his fall, yeah?

    The Rattata gave him a glare that said, 'If I wasn't loaded up on enough drugs to make me immobile, I would Hyper Fang you right now.' He scrambled off of the bed as quickly as he was able, leaning on the wall for much-needed support.

    Perhaps leaving wasn't in order, after all. No need to be hasty.

    He turned to the Nurse Joy, who was scribbling on the chart again, ignoring him completely. "Uh, I was going to rent a room here anyway. Could you help me take my stuff upstairs? And help me get upstairs while you're at it?"

    "We're currently booked, actually," she said coldly. "But," she continued, looking up from the chart, "given your condition, I'm obligated to offer you a room usually reserved for the trainers of sick Pokémon. That means" - she stabbed the air with her pencil and glared to drive the point home - "that I'm doing you a favor, Mr. McDuff. You better not make me regret it."

    "No, ma'am. Of course not," he said meekly. He would be a good little boy, to be sure.

    "I'll get a Chansey to give you the key and help you with your things. Have a nice day, Mr. McDuff."

    She left with a flick of her bright pink curls. Sebastian was not sad in the least to see her go.

    "What a piece of work, eh?" he said to Nana.

    The Umbreon didn't respond, opting instead to shrink further into the corner she had squished herself into and shoot mistrustful looks in his general direction. Oh, boy. He needed to make this right before it became a problem.

    He kneeled down to the Pokémon’s level and said earnestly, "I'm sorry, okay? I mean it. I was an a**hole, I admit it. I was wrong to force you into anything. That's not what we're about. So don't be mad, alright? If I ever do it again, feel free to bite me. Hard."

    She thought that over for a moment.

    "As many treats as you can eat for a week?" he offered, holding out his good hand.

    Nana grinned a lopsided Umbreon grin and butted his outstretched hand with her head, all forgiven. He scratched her behind the ears again and grinned a grin of his own. Good ol' Nana. He could always rely on her.

    "Chan sey, chan?"

    He stood up carefully and turned around to face the round, pink, smiling thing that now confronted him. The Chansey handed him an envelope that contained a card key to his room.

    "Thank you," he said, pocketing it. In the process he realized that he still had no shirt on. "Oh, uh, would you happen to know where my shirt and jacket got to?"

    The Pokémon shrugged, or at least he thought that's what she was trying to do. "Sey. Chansey."

    "Um...right." He picked up his gym bag and set it on the bed, then got a T-shirt out of it and pulled it on. That done, he asked the Chansey, "You're here to help me get to my room, right?"

    The Chansey nodded rapidly, her smile growing to epic proportions. She took his gym bag, shoes and belt and stuffed them into her egg pouch for easy transport.

    "Wonderful. Hope you don't mind if I lean a little."

    He took an experimental step and almost crashed to the nice clean floor, the Chansey catching him just in time.

    "Make that a lot," he amended as he straightened himself, relying on the pink ball of happy to keep him upright. "To the room!" he cried, gesturing grandly. "Come on, Nana."

    And so they went.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  2. Duckie

    Duckie The Humanoid

    Great job on character personalities. You can already separate characters from personalities. And while you didn't give us a physical description of the main character, you did give us a great snapshot into what kind of person he is.

    You also had great physical description on the pokemon, and movements. But you lacked description in setting.

    I really didn't find problems with your grammar and punctuation, except for a few letters you forgot to capitalize. But at the same time, I'm not sure it was done on purpose or not.

    Either way, I'm more of a reader than a rater. And I "rated" this to let you know that I read this, enjoyed it, and will follow the story. ;3

    Keep at it.

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  3. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    Yeah, setting description is definitely a weak point with me, I tend to overlook it. I'll try to work on that.
    Thanks a ton! :D
  4. Kim62

    Kim62 The avatars suck.

    Wow, really good story. I really didn't want to stop reading it.
    I can't wait to see where this leads up to!
  5. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    Aw, shucks, you're making me blush. Thanks!

    Oh, and I almost forgot: the PM List! Just ask if you want to be on it.
  6. Duckie

    Duckie The Humanoid

    Please add me to the PM list.
  7. Inconspicuosaurus

    Inconspicuosaurus Bone-ified dinosaur

    Hey, this is looking really good so far, like was previously said, you're really good at describing personalities.

    I'd love to be on the PM list :D.
  8. Ouch a really bad day lol. I look forward to reading more.
  9. Kim62

    Kim62 The avatars suck.

    add me to the pm list too
  10. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    You're all added! =D
    And glad you liked it, Shadow Master! Yeah, definitely not a good day for the poor guy.
  11. brit-angel

    brit-angel Dance Chimmy dance!

    Awesome story. Please add me to the PM list too. :)
  12. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    Thanks! And you're added =)
  13. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    A/N: Well, sorry for the double post but I figured I'd better post the next chapter. It's much longer, hope that's not a bad thing. You do meet the second main character, who will be getting much more air time later than she does here. And if Pokemon battles are your thing, the one in here is short, but don't worry - the next chapter has a pretty long one. Okay, that's about it. Oh wait, no, I forgot I wanted to explain quantum physics to you guys - !

    Nah, I kid. Here's the chap. As always, crits are more than welcome!

    Chapter Two

    Sebastian stood in front of the small bathroom mirror, giving himself a quick once-over. It was his first real day on the job, and he had to look his best. Suit – crisp, dapper baby-blue. His second-best, of course, but it would have to do; freshly ironed it wasn't half-bad. It had been a battle to get the stupid ironing board to stand up straight, too; the stuff that came with these rooms got cheaper by the day. Dress shirt – also ironed, white, free of all stains. Tie – straight, properly tied, bold ruby red. Belt - centered, complete with Pokeballs (just in case). Shoes – shined so well they could blind someone. Hair – slicked back, not a strand out of place. Teeth – very important, very clean. Very nice.

    Just one final touch. He crossed out of the bathroom and across his room, got his prescription sunglasses out of their case on the nightstand, and put them on back in front of the mirror. Perfect. He was normally more of a contacts kind of guy, but glasses made someone instantly more intelligent in the eyes of the people. Sunglasses, on the other hand, made someone instantly cooler. So prescription sunglasses, he reasoned, would make him both cooler AND more intelligent. It was foolproof.

    He grinned at himself, testing out his winning smile, and then nodded. He was as ready as he’d ever be without coffee. He'd been without for several days now due to the whole getting lost and poisoning himself thing, but hadn’t dared use the coffee-maker on the kitchenette's counter. The fact that it was old, broken-down, and likely to explode wasn't an issue; the issue was that it had been covered in what he was almost positive was mold. He wasn't COMPLETELY positive about the stuff's identity, but when the fuzz on the coffee-maker growls at you, you don’t use that coffee-maker unless you have a death wish. One of life's unwritten rules, that. Perhaps after this was all over he would make it his life's goal to write them all down. That would defeat the whole purpose of them being UNwritten, of course, but...

    Now he was just stalling. He shook his head, getting himself into the right mind-set. Mold-possessed coffee-makers were NOT what he needed to be thinking about right now.

    He walked to the door, took a deep breath, and left his room.

    As he made his way down the hall he smiled and returned the greetings of the other tenants he met. Always be polite; you never know who you might be waving at. Some were leaving, dragging their piles of luggage out of their rooms, scuffing the already worn-out carpet. Others were just poking their heads out, making sure the world hadn’t spontaneously combusted in their sleep. (It hadn't, although it had been a close call.)

    Wait, was that a Furret in that room?! It was, its long, ferrety, brown-and-white-striped body draped across the shoulders of its owner, as if it was practicing at being the fur stole it would one day become if he had anything to do with it. One of those would fetch enough cash to –

    But no, such thoughts led down dark roads. He was a straight man now, or at least as straight as a man such as himself could be. He continued on his way, not giving the (luxuriously furred, very profitable) Furret another moment's notice.

    He clomped down the stairs, emerging into a world quite different from the pseudo-hotel above.

    Even this early in the morning the Pokémon Center was bustling with activity. Chansey scurried here and there, apologizing profusely whenever they bumped into someone, which was often and, given their shape, inevitable. The Nurse Joys took it upon themselves to translate for the Chansey, turning "Chansey, chan chan chan! Sey!" into "Oh my, I'm really sorry! Sorry!" Then there were the Nurse Joys who were actually doing something, comforting grief-stricken trainers and rushing Pokémon in critical condition straight to the operating rooms in the back. Pink hair of both human and Pokémon origin flew. It was an organized chaos that was a sight to behold.

    He avoided the commotion deftly, straying from the relative safety of the wall only to skirt his way around benches that seated the waiting Pokémon trainers. Just from looking at them he could tell that most of these trainers were newbies, beginners covered in scratches from Viridian Forest, either waiting for their precious Rattata to be cured from a Weedle's poison or from the beating it had received from Brock. Silly little guys. They actually thought that they would be Pokémon Masters someday. It was almost cute, how much confidence they had before they got stomped flat by someone who was smart enough to realize that the Pokémon dream was nothing but a lie.

    He finally made his way to the translucent automatic door and escaped to the calm outside with relief.

    He took a moment to admire the niceness of the day. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and it was neither too hot nor too cold, perfect spring weather. Pidgey chirped cheerily in the trees, and a lone Butterfree fluttered across the sky. The scent from the flowers in the small garden nearby wafted on the breeze, and he breathed it in deeply.

    It was going to be a good day. He could feel it.

    The poison seemed to have left his system entirely, for one thing; a good night's sleep really had been all he needed. His hand was back to its normal size and coloration, and he once again had coordination better than a drunken Spinda's. All in all a lot to feel good about, as far as he was concerned. He was already going through the process of forgetting the whole stupid thing had ever happened. Also, he was finally back on track; Viridian hadn't panned out (he was going to give that Leader a piece of his mind when he finally caught up with the guy) but as far as he knew Brock wasn't prone to bouts of wander-lust. Unless the Gym had been trashed by irate newbies (a fate more likely than one might think), he was going to be able to do his job today.

    He walked down the neat cobblestone road through the town with a spring in his step, not minding the fact that it meandered a bit more than it needed to. He was in a meandering mood today, in no hurry.

    "Hello, sir," he called to the hefty man enjoying a Twinkie nearby, the poor soul’s gut threatening to rip the nice white tucked-in shirt he wore. The man didn’t reply, just gave him an unkind look and returned to his tasty Twinkie treat. Sebastian didn’t mind a bit; nothing could ruin his mood today, not even the scorn of a fat man.

    He should have done this long ago; make a fresh start, that was. Now that Viridian Forest was behind him, he could fully appreciate his decision for the first time, finally reap the rewards of his big change. His old life was just so much dust in the wind. He had wiped the slate clean, and it felt great. He felt free. Life hadn't held such promise since he had been a kid. In fact, he almost did feel like a kid again. No stress, no deadlines, no pressure, no problems.

    And there was the Gym, that fine old establishment that had made his start-over possible. It was a large, simply magnificent building, its expansive brown roof dominated only by the more showy pink roof of the museum close by. But really, who would choose knowledge over a good Pokémon battle? It was no contest; the white Pokeball outline alone, that symbol of the Indigo League, excited all like no decrepit fossil ever could. Just seeing the Gym sign widened the smile on his face. And what a lovely sign it was! “Pewter City Pokémon Gym” it proclaimed boldly, unafraid, Brock, “The Rock-Solid Pokémon Trainer!”, its brave steward.

    He made his way through the automatic glass double door, tipping an invisible hat towards a girl scrutinizing the paper posted near the door that gave Gym battle times. She paid him no mind, but he paid that no mind. He had a job to do.

    It was show time.

    The inside of the Gym wasn’t nearly as impressive as the outside, sadly enough. It was small and dirty, basically a glorified sandbox. The twin pillars at the front that declared both the Gym’s badge-giving League status and the names of all trainers who had won said badge had fallen into disrepair. Rocks were strewn here and there, added in an attempt at atmosphere that had failed miserably. The wooden boards that formed a path over the sand floor were splintery and hazardous. A lone trainer sat in a folding chair on this path, reading a comic book and looking very, very bored. Brock himself stood on a stone platform that was scratched and chipped and not awe-inspiring in the least. There was hardly room to move around, let alone battle Pokémon.

    Some changes would have to be made.

    He strode purposefully to the back of the Gym where Brock slouched with a sullen expression on his face. The trainer didn’t as much as look up from his comic; such an apathetic underling would be the first thing to go.

    “And who are you?” the Leader growled, eyeing him distrustfully. “You look a little old to be a trainer.”

    First impressions were everything; it was important to make a good one. Fortunately, he knew a lot about making impressions.

    “I, sir, am Sebastian H. McDuff, Gym Inspector,” he declared, putting on his most confident smile. He punctuated the statement with a flash of his League certification badge, procured from his jacket pocket. It was an impressive badge indeed, full of gold-washed splendor.

    “Humph,” snorted Brock, unimpressed. “I heard the League was going to do something like this. If you came here to tell me how to run my own Gym, you can go ahead and leave. This place has been in my family for years, and I know what I’m doing.”

    Sebastian begged to differ. Brock’s Gym was the lowest ranking Gym in the whole League at a very mediocre single star. He was widely considered the Leader that was the biggest joke (with Lt. Surge as the very close second, but that was an issue for another day). Even Falkner, his Johto equivalent, ranked at one-and-a-half due to the fact that his Gym type of choice wasn’t weak to 2/3 of the region’s starter Pokémon. Brock didn’t even have Falkner’s stylish good looks; his childishly spiky brown hair, squinty eyes, overlarge striped vest, and ugly green cargo pants weren’t imposing in the least. No, Brock certainly didn’t know what he was doing, and that was exactly where Sebastian came in. He could feel some sympathy for the man - anyone would grow surly if they got beaten again and again by new-comers - but as Leader of the Gym he should show some pride, stop moping and grow a pair.

    “I beg to differ,” he said. “Tell me, how many trainers have you beaten in the last month?”

    Brock’s expression immediately grew shifty, the face of a kid lying to his mom about a broken vase. “It’s hard to keep count, you know, so many come through…”

    “A rough estimate will suffice,” Sebastian assured him.

    “Twenty? At least twenty, yeah, probably thirty.”

    “Mmm-hmm…” Sebastian nodded, whipping out a notepad and pencil and scribbling something down. He was only doodling, of course, but a notepad always looked professional. “And what would you say - ”

    He was interrupted by the sound of the Gym doors opening. He looked back and saw the girl, who had finally quit her poster-inspecting and decided to enter. She sauntered across the Gym, the very picture of nonchalance. Sebastian couldn’t help but be impressed; Brock’s little trainer could only dream about being as uncaring as that girl.

    Said trainer attempted to waylay her, but she stopped him cold with a chilly look that said, ‘You don’t even want to battle me, pipsqueak.’ He let her continue on towards Brock without further hassle, quite mollified.

    Sebastian got his first good look at her as she did so. She wasn’t a girl at all, not really; she couldn’t be any younger than eighteen, and had the look of a seasoned Pokémon trainer. She was very pretty in a straight-forward kind of way – no make-up, practical clothes, but a high cheek-boned face that gave her an aristocratic look. Her brown hair was tied back in a messy pony-tail that was strangely attractive in a bed-head kind of way. That was where the attraction stopped, however. Her up-turned button nose, although cute, made her seem snobbish. Plus, her brown eyes were heavy-lidded and oozed a boredom that told you in no uncertain terms that any advances would be met with nothing but a cool indifference. You could chip away for years and still have no effect at all on the unfeeling wall she had built around herself.

    When she had ambled her way over to Brock and Sebastian, she said, “Hope I’m not interrupting anything,” in a tone of voice that clearly stated she didn’t care if she was interrupting a meeting with the League President.

    “Not at all,” Brock said firmly, giving Sebastian a stern look. “I take it you want a battle.”

    “Yeah,” she said, smacking some bubblegum. “I’m just picking up a few more badges before I challenge the Elite Four.”

    Brock looked cheerful for the first time since Sebastian had laid eyes on him. “Oh! You won’t mind if I use my stronger team, then?”

    “Nope,” she said, chomping away.

    "Normal rules?"

    "Yep." Smack, smack.

    “Now wait just a minute,” Sebastian spoke up. “As a one-star Gym, League rules state that you aren’t allowed to use any Pokémon considered stronger than level twenty.”

    It was his first enforcement as a League-certified Gym Inspector, how exciting! Brock didn't seem nearly as enthused; his gaze shot poison-covered daggers in Sebastian's general direction. The Leader didn't dare say a word, of course, because contradicting clear League law was not a good idea for man in his situation.

    "Well," said the girl, sounding bored even when talking mostly to herself. Smack, went her gum. "I guess I could still use the experience, and the badge. Go, Wellington."

    She tossed a Pokeball from her belt to the ground, and a ball of blue vines with large, startled eyes and round red feet materialized. Tangela, a good choice, if not often seen. Then it was Brock's move, and Sebastian kept his eyes on him to make sure the poor sneaky loser didn't slip a Steelix into the mix. The poor sneaky loser decided to play by the rules, however; the Pokeball he pulled from his belt with much grumbling revealed nothing but a weak-looking Onix. Satisfied, Sebastian stepped back and prepared to watch the fight.

    "Onix, Tackle it!" Brock yelled, attempting to make up for the level and type advantages with sheer bravado. You had to feel sorry for the guy.

    Well now, that was interesting. As soon as the Onix began to shift its snaky stone body, all pretense of boredom left the girl's face. Her eyes fully opened, and she watched the Onix like a hawk, fully immersing herself in the battle. Underneath her uncaring facade lay a talented trainer indeed. There was none of the wishy-washy, half-realized newbie dream in this girl.

    "Dodge to the left and Vine Whip," she called, watching closely.

    True to the girl's perception, the Onix crashed down too far to the right, and the Tangela moved easily out of the way. The giant rock-snake was simply too cumbersome to hit the spry little vine-ball. While the Onix was still recovering from its Tackle, vines from the Tangela's body wrapped around the prone beast, creeping into every crack and crevice in the Onix's stony surface. Then the vines squeezed, and the Onix bellowed in pain. Its cry made the whole Gym tremble. This battle was clearly over.

    "Stop, stop!" Brock cried as the vines tightened even further, the resulting roars from the Onix threatening to bring down the roof. "I forfeit the round, next Pokémon!"

    The girl nodded, recalling her Tangela. Brock did the same, both Pokémon returning to their Pokeballs in a flash of red light. The Leader looked grim, rummaging through the Pokeballs on his belt half-heartedly, obviously not finding a Pokémon that suited both the rules and his desire to win. The girl waited with a Pokeball already chosen and in hand, the bored expression back on her face.

    Brock finally sighed and tossed a Pokeball to the ground carelessly, resigned to a quick defeat. A Geodude revealed itself, a funny looking rock with a face and arms. There was no danger of that one being over the level limit, Sebastian thought with satisfaction. The girl then tossed her Pokeball to the ground. He gave her chosen Pokémon only the most cursory of glances; no matter what she sent out at this point, she was going to win.

    And then he did a double-take.

    It was a Ponyta, odd enough considering Brock's type specialty, but this particular Ponyta's flames were...blue.

    He stared, mouth agape. He didn't even notice the battle begin. His brain could barely handle processing the information the fantastic Ponyta was inputting; his mind had room for nothing else.

    Could it be? Could it really be?

    A shiny Pokémon. There, he had said it - or, more accurately, thought it. The admission didn't make the Ponyta disappear; on the contrary it seemed to sparkle even more brightly. He took off his glasses and polished them on his shirt. When he put them back on, the Ponyta was still there, still blue. So his bewildered brain was right. A shiny Pokémon.

    The Ponyta slammed into the Geodude, sending it skidding past the feet of the quite unresponsive Sebastian.

    A shiny Pokémon. The unobtainable dream, his one old goal in life, right here in front of him. The legendary Holy Grail of his old profession, the legend that had kept him going, kept them all going, that fabled jackpot, right here in front of him. The net worth of all of his endeavors as a whole so far was chump change compared to what a shiny would reel in.

    And yet...he had given that up. He had given all that up, and on the very day he started anew, here was this, this shiny practically falling into his lap! The girl had to be staying nearby, probably in the very Pokémon Center he had spent the night in! It would be a matter of minutes to sneak in and...

    But he had given that up! Oh, the dilemma. On one hand the freedom of this new life with no connections to the old, on the other hand the riches a shiny Pokémon would bring him. It would mean risking everything - his new, completely legit League job, his dignity, even his life. He had left his old job for more reasons than freedom; there were people from his old life who would be more than happy to kill him if he revealed his whereabouts just because of the stuff he knew and had the potential to make public.

    He hadn't joined that old job against his will, however! He was still a con-man at heart, the kind of grunt who had loved the thrill of the old life even as he had been confined by it. He had just been a kid back then, and had been sucked in by the promise of quick cash and easy living. He had enjoyed the old job because he had gotten paid steadily for practically nothing. And what was he doing now? Inspecting Gyms. A job that, while gratifying, didn't pay much. It would take years of hard-earned recognition to claw his way to more money. Oh, he was lucky that he had been given even the experimental job of Gym Inspector, and the fame and fortune would come, but it would take time.

    And to be known as the guy who had brought in a shiny! A shiny!

    Boy oh boy. He wasn't equipped to handle the lure of instant gratification, not he who had happily lived as a grunt for years and years because money had been dangled in front of his face like a donkey's carrot-on-a-stick. He had come because he was a silly kid with no other place to go, but he had stuck around because it had been the path of least resistance.

    And now he was faced with the same problem: he had to choose between easy and hard. The hard way of lying low as a Gym Inspector, or the easy way of risking discovery by stealing the Ponyta?

    To him, it wasn't much of a choice. But perhaps a compromise could be reached; some shiny owners were willing to sell, most sick of the hassle their coveted Pokémon produced. It was worth a shot just talking to her first, anyway.

    "Are you still here?" Brock asked crossly, interrupting his reverie. He grunted non-commitally, still not quite in the present.

    Then he realized with a start that the battle was over and girl was no longer there. The Gym was empty expect for Brock, himself, and the underling, who was once again absorbed in his comic.

    "Where did that girl go?" he asked frantically.

    "She just left with the badge," Brock shrugged, looking wary. But Sebastian was gone before Brock could glare another angry glare.

    He had real work to do.


    The girl hadn't gone far, luckily enough. He caught up with her half-way down the cobblestone road to the Center.

    "Hey, wait!" he called. She turned around and gave him a questioning look. "Yeah, you!" he assured her. "Nice battle in there. Ya didn't need my help at all. What's your name?"

    "Mary Hutto. Is this going somewhere?" she asked, not sounding curious in the least. Smack, smack, smack went her gum. Mew be damned but that gum-chewing could get on a person's nerves.

    "Actually yes, Ms. Hutto," he replied, pushing the sound of her gum to the back of his mind. "Part of my job is interviewing the trainers themselves and getting their viewpoint on the Gym experience. You all are the reason the Gyms exist, after all. Anything you tell me, any comments or complaints, go straight to the League and are addressed immediately." A nice little memorized spiel right from the Gym Inspector handbook, which he had studied thoroughly.

    "That's nice," she said tonelessly.

    "Umm...right. Well, first of all, are you staying in the Pokémon Center here? Just a standard question, I assure you; the League likes to know that their free facilities aren't going to waste."

    "Yeah, I'm staying there."

    "Allllright." He took out his handy-dandy notepad, doodled industriously. "On to the battle. So what was your reasoning behind using a Ponyta in a rock-based Gym?"

    She cocked an eyebrow. "You were the one who made him use low-level Pokémon. Arson needed the experience, so I used him. When you're up against freshies you don't need reasoning."

    Freshies? Oh, right, newly-caught Pokémon, or just weak Pokémon in general. The slang was so strange these days.

    He continued on. "And what a fine specimen Arson was. How did you happen to catch such a stunning Pokémon?"

    She grinned wryly. "Yeah, I noticed you staring. I don't like to use him much, gets too much attention. You wanna know how I got him?"

    He nodded, trying (and failing) to contain his excitement.

    She leaned in close, her tone now hard and her smile quite gone. Sebastian felt his excitement begin to turn into nervousness. "You wanna know what I did, you sleazy little man? I pitched a tent on Route Twenty-two and I lived in that tent for five years. Five years. Every morning I got up at six o'clock and I looked for Ponyta until ten at night. Oh, I trained too, so that the time wasn't completely wasted, but mainly it was Ponyta. I did that for five years and didn't find a single shiny. So I gave up. But then, two years later, I was walking down Route Twenty-two, just to relive the bad old days, you know? And guess who I happened to find?"

    Sebastian, now very nervous indeed, hoped that the question was rhetorical. Luckily, it was.

    "So to answer your real question, no. No, I will not give you my shiny, that I found by chance after five frickin years of hard searching. Not for all the frickin gold in Goldenrod. Have a nice day."

    She walked off. Sebastian didn't follow her; obviously she was a lost cause.

    He would have to steal it after all, it seemed.


    Little known fact: Pokémon Centers were actually some of the most unsafe places in the world, at least when it came to Pokémon theft. For one thing, if you broke into a Center's room you were practically guaranteed to find a Pokémon of some kind; only licensed trainers were given rooms for free, after all. Staying at a Center was all but setting out a neon sign saying: 'I have Pokémon, why not come take them?!' You were better off sleeping on the open road if you had Pokémon you were attached to and a thief was in town.

    That wasn't the only problem with the Centers, however. Take, for instance, how little effort it took to find out which room Ms. Mary Hutto was staying in. He simply approached the Nurse Joy at the front desk - luckily a different Nurse from the one who had chided him the other day - and said with a shy smile, "Excuse me, m'am? Sorry to bother you, but could you tell me which room Mary Hutto is staying in? I have something I want to give her."

    "Hold on, let me check," the Nurse said, turning to her computer and typing away. A few moments later she turned back and said, "It says Room 142."

    "Oh, thanks so much," he cried, allowing his smile to grow larger. "And if she asks, don't tell her, okay? It's a surprise."

    "Alright, hon," she said, returning his smile, and went back to her work. Ah, young love, right?

    Wrong. But hey, if it worked to your advantage, use it. It had gotten him the number of her room, and with that he only had to wait until dark.

    Another Center insecurity: there was no security. Not so much as a sleepy Growlithe or a single run-down camera prevented licensed trainers with rented rooms from sneaking around after dark. If your Pokémon were weak, then you were in trouble if trouble came knocking; the Chansey certainly weren't going to give a Pokémon thief any problems.

    As such, one o'clock in the morning found him in front of Room 142 feeling pretty confident.

    This confidence wasn't due entirely to the poor security of the Centers. It was also due to a little security measure of his own: The Suit. It was a tight fit after all these years, but a little discomfort was a small price to pay. The Suit was a powerful tool indeed, you see, the best disguise he had ever known. It was instantly recognizable - black pants, black long-sleeved shirt with the giant red 'R', stylish black hat, grey gloves, boots and belt.

    Instantly recognizable, and yet that was where its power lay. If anyone saw it, that was all that they saw; not his face, not his eye or hair color, nothing but The Suit. And what police force was going to respond to The Suit? A description of The Suit was all that they would get, and that would help them not at all. Thousands wore it; hundreds of thousands wore it. If they caught someone wearing it, how could they be sure he was the one they were after? They couldn't. They had even stopped responding to calls about sightings of The Suit, as far as Sebastian could tell. It was a wonderful thing. Others who wore The Suit might realize it was him and come after him if word of this little escapade got out, but the police probably wouldn't get involved, which was good enough. He didn't plan on being seen at all, anyway, but The Suit was the best precaution he had.

    He also had his partner in crime, who had never failed him yet. And so he was ready.

    "Alright, Nana, you know what to do," he whispered to the Umbreon standing near his feet. The rings on her body glowed softly golden in the dark, providing enough light to see by - he kind of wished he couldn't see that ugly floral wallpaper, however.

    The cat-like creature sat down in protest, her red eyes staring up at him accusingly.

    Well, she had never failed him until she had decided to grow a conscience. "Look, I know I said we weren't going to be doing stuff like this anymore, but this is different!"

    She flattened her bushy ringed ears against her head and turned away, clearly not buying it.

    He pulled her Pokeball from his belt and threatened her with it. 'Do it or you're stuck in the ball for a month!' his gesture said.

    She rolled her eyes, giving in for the moment, and got to her feet. Then she held out a paw, brandished her claws, and sliced the air. A swirling black vortex streaked with purple, silver, and yellow formed soundlessly where her paw had struck. She jumped through the vortex and disappeared.

    Sebastian stuck his head through after her to supervise, being mindful of his hat; the stupid thing had proved a hassle on numerous other occasions.

    It was always awkward going through a Faint Attack vortex only partially. He lost all sensation in the part of him that remained on the other side, making it feel as if his head had been cut off and was floating in mid-air. Very disconcerting. He had grown used to it over the years, however, and it provided him with a wonderful view of Mary's room. The room was very neat, bare except for the standard bed, nightstand, and TV, so neat that he at first feared she had already left. But no, there was her sleeping form in the bed, just a vague lump under layers of blankets; he could also hear faint snores. So she was here and asleep, but where were her Pokeballs?

    Nana, of course, knew where to look; she was expertly trained. The Umbreon padded on silent feet around the room, checking all the obvious spots. The owner of a shiny wasn't likely to leave her prized Pokémon out in the open, however.

    Or was she? Because here came Nana with Mary's belt held firmly in her mouth, Pokeballs dangling. Sebastian withdrew his head from the vortex quickly, shivering a bit as his body orientated itself. Nana followed soon after, the belt making the trip back through the portal a tight squeeze.

    Sebastian took the belt and stripped the Pokeballs from it deftly, replacing them with Pokeballs of his own that were quite empty. He didn't bother to ask if the belt was the right one; he trusted Nana more than that. He gave the belt full of empties back to the Umbreon without a word, and she went back through the portal to replace it. A few moments later she returned, and she and Sebastian retreated to his room.

    Once there he sat on the edge of his bed and lorded over his prize. One of these Pokeballs contained that shiny! He had a shiny in his hands right now! He chuckled softly out of pure delight.

    Now to see it with his own eyes. He would have to be careful, though; he knew from experience that stolen Pokémon did not take kindly to their captors. Before he passed the Ponyta off to someone who could handle it (and got some major cold hard cash in return), he would have to proceed with extreme caution.

    He picked a Pokeball from the belt at random and tossed it to the carpet, ready to recall the Pokémon that came out at the slightest sign of desire to mutilate. He waited with bated breath for the sparkle that meant he would be living the rest of his life in "lie"sure.

    He waited.

    And waited.

    And waited. He frowned and leaned over, searching for the Pokeball on the floor with his hand. The task was not an easy one in the dark; he finally had to resort to getting down on his hands and knees and groping under the bed, where it turned out the Pokeball had rolled.

    He got back up with a grunt and examined the ball. It was open, all right, but nothing had come out.

    It was empty? Why would she carry around empty Pokeballs on her belt? Unless...

    He tore a few more Pokeballs off the belt and threw them down with growing unease. Both were empty.

    Toss, toss.

    Empty, empty.

    He punched a pillow angrily, his good mood entirely evaporated. If all of these Pokeballs were empty, that meant she had known. Somehow, she had known. Either that or she was very paranoid, which was still a possibility, he reassured himself hastily. He would just have to go back to her room and find the real Pokeballs.

    He took the last ball from the belt and opened it, hoping against hope that it had something in it. A red light emerged - it did have a Pokémon! He held his breath as the light condensed into something tangible...

    And then couldn't help but laugh out loud.

    "Karp, karp, Magi? Karp?" glubbed the fish that was now flopping all over the room's floor.

    A Magikarp! The little b*tch had some nerve! He recalled the thing before it could attract any unwanted attention, still doubled over with laughter. He laughed until tears ran from his eyes.

    A Magikarp! Well, that proved it, she knew who he was. She did seem the type to hold a grudge, but that was still an awful long time to remember a face. Good Mew, but that was just rich! Even though he had been wearing contacts back then and had since dyed his hair, she had still remembered the Magikarp man!

    Okay, perhaps that was stretching it a bit far, he reasoned as he began to calm down, gasping and wiping lingering tears from his face. That had been a long time ago, and he certainly hadn't recognized her. Then again, he had conned a lot of people during that gig, but she had only met him once. She wouldn't be likely to forget the encounter, either. Not after being tricked out of $500, which to a beginner was big cash.

    But honestly, what were the chances? He had conned a lot of people, sure, but to meet one of them again? Not likely. And to run into one of the few who actually recalled what he looked like? Just about zero chances of that. She had probably just put that Magikarp in her belt as a final FU to anyone ballsy enough to steal her "Pokémon."

    Still, it wasn't entirely impossible...

    He took a deep breath, exhaled it, and got up. "Come on, Nana," he said to the Umbreon, who had watched the whole spectacle with a rather worried look on her furry face.

    A trip back to Mary's room would settle the whole matter.

    He opened his room's door carefully, wincing when it squeaked. Some night owl sticking his head into the hall to see what was up would ruin everything.

    He crept down the hall to Room 142, then turned to Nana expectantly. She let out a little huff, but opened a portal with a Faint Attack just like before. A small leap and she was through. He poked his head into the room to watch Nana's progress. This could take longer, since the search would have to be much more thorough. They might even have to look on Mary herself, which would be very risky.

    But wait, what was this? Nana wasn't doing a thing. She was just standing there.

    Not a good sign.

    He made a noise to attract her attention; she looked back at him and shook her head.

    Nope, not a good sign at all.

    He pulled his head back and thrust his arm in instead, finding the lock with the precision of much practice and opening the door. He entered the room prepared for devastation.

    Devastation was what he found. The room was completely empty. It had seemed neat before for a reason; she must have had her bags all packed. The girl had left. She had flown the coop, taking the shiny with her.

    The window was open, the curtains flapping in a draft. She had gone out the window. The window! Of the second floor! He ran to it, leaned out and looked around, but she was already long gone. Big surprise.

    He collapsed onto the bed. It was neatly made. Good Mew, she had even made the bed!

    This proved that the girl knew what he was really all about. First she had called him sleazy - which had hurt! He worked very hard to keep his sleaziness from showing, thank you very much - and then she had predicted his theft attempt and one-upped him. That planted belt hadn't been simple paranoia, not if she had skedaddled right after he took it; she had packed her bags and been ready to leave, only feigning sleep. Whether she knew him as the Magikarp-man or as the sleazy Gym Inspector, she knew that he was bad news when it came to shinies. At the very least she could connect him to the "Rocket" who had showed up in her room. He could only hope that she would keep quiet about it. He thought that she would. After all, he didn't think she even knew his name. And she had more badges to get, others things to worry about than a sad little man trying his darndest to make his way in the world.

    Nana jumped into his lap and licked his face. He smiled and scratched her behind her fluffy ears.

    Well, he could learn a lesson when it was staring him in the face. He had tried to con the girl, and she had conned him right back. The old life was not going to work out. It was Gym inspecting for him from here on out, no question about it. At least he had gotten a Magikarp out of the experience. And hey, maybe this would help him be a bit more reliable in the future, help him resist any new temptations. Maybe the lesson he had learned would stick this time.

    Yeah, right.

    When he met that girl again, he would just have to be faster.
  14. Kim62

    Kim62 The avatars suck.

    This chapter made me lol a lot.
    Magikarp, that's really funny.
  15. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    Glad it amused you :D
    Oh and by the way, dear readers, if you can guess who Sebastian is based off of, you get a sneak peak at the next chapter!
  16. Inconspicuosaurus

    Inconspicuosaurus Bone-ified dinosaur

    Ooh, ooh, I know; he's the guy who gives you advice about type-matchups in every gym. :) Am I right? (Oh, and the Magikarp Guy aswell of course.)

    Yeah, it was really funny, I loved the thing ith the mould and... everything really!

    I acan't wait till the next chapter.
  17. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    Bingo! I always wondered just what that little guy was doing there.

    Alrighty, let me go scrounge up a flash drive...Fun Fact: I'm actually typing the story on my laptop, which has no Internet connection yet, so I have to transfer everything to the family PC when I want to post a chapter...sob sob :(
    He stormed through the cans and straight to Lt. Surge, ready to give him a piece of his mind.

    Lt. Surge had different ideas.

    "You!" the Leader yelled, pointing at Sebastian. "You got through my traps! Battle! Now!"

    Sebastian pointed back at himself. Who ME? the gesture said.

    "Yes! You!" Surge bellowed in answer.

    Was this guy's brain addled? Did he have a plate in his head from his Army days? Sebastian was definitely not here to fight.

    "Uh, no, you don't understand," Sebastian began, chuckling nervously. "I'm not -"

    "DID YOU NOT HEAR ME?" Surge roared. "You got through the traps! My dignity is at stake! BATTLE!"

    Before Sebastian could protest further, Surge took a Pokeball from his belt and slammed it to the ground. A Pikachu emerged, its lightning-bolt-shaped tail twitching.

    Well, there obviously wasn't going to be any arguing with this guy, especially considering if he argued he would be beaten to a pulp. Seriously, look at him! More muscles than a Machamp, blond hair still in a crew cut, he was even wearing the uniform! No, it was no use fighting with a trained Army man, at least not if Pokemon weren't involved - he would be squished under those giant combat boots. Besides, despite the clear insanity that raged in the meat-head's blue eyes, his Gym was just a measly two stars. That meant his levels would be low, and Nana would have little trouble with him.

    "Guess that means you're up," he said to her.

    And I'm glad you liked it! =D
  18. Duckie

    Duckie The Humanoid

    It kept me smiling the whole time.

    Again, great character/personality description.

    Your scenery description improved, if I say so myself. :]

    As for grammatical/punctual errors, I could not find any.

    You know, I got the exact same vibe from him, about being the advice guy. But I don't know why! I can't remember exactly where the sentence that hinted that is!
    Could someone point it out?

    I really enjoyed this, Smunkie.
    I'm looking forward to the next.

    And don't feel rushed into posting your chapters. Take the time you need. :]
  19. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    Really glad you liked it :D
    I'm also glad you saw improvement in my description, I tried, I really did!
    Weeell, the whole Gym Inspector thing may have been a tip-off - he hangs around Gyms a lot. Also, I got his clothes description straight from the in-game sprite =D
    Plus, the advice guy likes the slots. That just screams Sebastian.
    And sorry if it seems I'm rushing the chapters, but actually I'm about two-three chapters ahead of what I post - I'm finishing up chapter four right now (and it's a doozy, the plot really picks up in chapters four and five, I think you'll like them *evil author grin of doom*)
    The only reason I posted chapter two so soon was because the reviews had died down and I figured I better keep interest up :p

    PS: Check out the banner I threw together! Nifty, eh? About time, right, but I am a lazy person. Also, the Spriter's Resource is a godly place and is where I got the images. Kudos to them!
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2008
  20. Smunkie

    Smunkie Di immortales!

    Edit: Whoo page two! :D

    A/N: Well, sorry for another double post. If I just had more reviewers...*wink wink hint hint nudge nudge say no more is your wife a goer, eh?*

    (Been listening to Monty Python, my apologies. I never wanted to be an author! I wanted to be...a lumberjack!)

    Anyway, here's Chapter Tree! I mean...

    Chapter Three

    Sebastian did not like the ocean. He didn't like it one bit.

    This was mainly because whenever he so much as touched water he got violently sea-sick. The smell of salt alone was enough to make him queasy. He didn't even like to swim. So Vermilion City was the last place he wanted to be.

    And yet, here he was.

    He walked through the city with a grimace, noting all the docks with distaste. If only he could have gotten that shiny. If only! He would be as far away from this place as humanly possible. First Viridian Forest, and now the ocean? Would he do anything for this stupid job?

    They had had the nerve to chide him, too, saying that he needed to pick up the pace! Well excuse me, he had thought, you should take that up with the Viridian Leader, who hadn't even bothered to show up! And then get lost in the woods, and then get poisoned, while you're at it! And then catch that shiny for me, too!

    He hadn't actually said that, of course, but oooh he had wanted to. Welcome to the joys of normal employment, yeah?

    In any case, after that lovely phone call he had had no choice but to step it up. Forget Misty; she was small-time stuff. Forget Sabrina, too; too close to Celadon, plus messing with psychics led to nothing but trouble. Lt. Surge, now there was a nut-case. Traps to keep trainers from challenging him, an insane proximity to a tunnel-full of Pokémon that could defeat his whole team with their eyes closed, the whole works. The League wanted results, he would get them, and the good Lieutenant would help.

    He was on his way to see the man now.

    The town wasn't much to look at if you didn't dig the whole sea-side thing, either, he thought critically as he searched for the Gym. For the site of all major over-seas commerce in Kanto, it sure didn't take much pride in itself. Seriously, what was there to see besides the sea? Nothing but a dingy, debris-strewn construction site over on one end and a bunch of ramshackle old houses on the other, with plenty of bars scattered in-between - this was the haven of sailors, after all. He reminded himself to avoid staying out past dark; he didn't feel like getting caught up in some drunken brawl.

    Ah, there was the Gym, tucked away behind a harbor in the southwest side of town. His made his way towards the unmistakable brown roof, weaving deftly between buff men carrying boxes from the docked ships.

    Wait a minute, what was this? Well that was interesting. He slowed his pace as he walked past the sign that had caught his attention. "Pokémon Fan Club - All Pokémon fans welcome!" the sign read. The sign was in front of a largish, green-roofed building that at least looked like it wouldn't fall over if you breathed on it too hard. He wondered what kind of Pokémon could be found in this Pokémon Fan Club, and, more importantly, whether they may have heard of a certain shiny-toting Pokémon Fan.

    While he was distracted by the sign, however, he bumped into a dock men and the Machoke helping him carry his boxes.

    "Watch it, bub," growled the nasty piece of work. He had scars and tattoos in equal number, never a good sign. The Machoke growled as well in an eerie imitation of his master to drive the point home.

    "Sorry, sorry," Sebastian apologized hastily.

    He made himself scarce before the guy could sic the Machoke on him, retreating to the entrance of the Fan Club. He took a moment to scoff at the particularly ugly Pokeball motif above the door and the window-plants that were brown with neglect, then released Nana from her Pokeball. The Umbreon shook herself thoroughly, glad to be out.

    "Alright, Nana, here's the deal," he said to her when she was done. "You love me. You dote on my every word, kiss the ground my feet have walked on, are a fawning lap-Growlithe. For the next ten minutes I'm your favorite person in the world, got it?"

    Nana nodded, not seeming particularly interested.

    "I mean it now, make it convincing. Ham it up. This is important; it'll make these Pokemon Fan nuts like me."

    She nodded again, this time just looking exasperated.

    "Okay, here we go."

    He picked Nana up, hugging her close in what he hoped was a loving way, and entered the Fan Club.

    His first impression was of desperation. The Fan Club was a desperate place. A few half-dead plants hugged walls on which the faded orange wallpaper was badly peeling. Dusty bookshelves in the back were crammed with books that looked decades out of date and much the worse for wear. Posters hand-written on what looked suspiciously like notebook paper were taped near the bookshelves and proclaimed "Let's all listen politely to other trainers!" and "If someone brags, brag right back!" The depressing little room was dominated by a large table surrounded by three couches whose springs were beginning to poke through. On two of these couches sat a pimple-faced girl and a tubby boy who were arguing heatedly across the table. To their chests they hugged a Seel and a Pikachu respectably. The poor Pokémon had mirroring distant expressions of imminent suffocation.

    On the other couch at the head of the table sat a grandfatherly man in a threadbare brown suit and tacky brown hat. He had the blissful expression of a contended Slowpoke. The green-dressed woman sitting next to him just looked fed up with the whole situation.

    "Um, hello?" he cautioned. One false move was likely to set these crazies off; he would have to tread carefully. "I heard this was the Pokémon Fan Club?"

    The aged man came to life with a speed that was disturbing; he jumped to his feet, ran over to Sebastian, and began to wring the crap out of the hand that wasn't holding Nana.

    "Welcome, welcome, welcome good sir!" the man cried. "I am the Chairman of the Fan Club and let me say it is wonderful to see such a one as yourself taking interest!"

    "Er, yes..."

    "And is that your lovely Pokémon I see? What a beauty, stunning coat, just look at the fluff of her fur!" The man pinched and poked at her. She endured this grudgingly when she caught sight of Sebastian's 'Be good' glare.

    "Thank you, but -"

    "And just look at how much she adores you! A wonderful thing to see!"

    Nana was indeed following orders, staring into Sebastian's face adoring and generally looking as content as possible, purring like a motorboat. She was a great actor when she put her mind to it.

    "Thank you, but -"

    "I have a Pokemon who loves me like that," the man plowed on, "I could talk about her all day long. She's a Rapidash, so warm and soft and -"

    Sebastian couldn't believe his luck - a Rapidash fan! Perfect!

    "Speaking of Rapidash," Sebastian cut in, trying his best to be heard over the old man's rambling, "I'm quite fond of them myself."

    "Oh really?" the Chairman exclaimed, his face contorting in its attempt to properly express the man's excitement. Much more of this and Sebastian feared for the guy's heart. "Aren't they just the most amazing Pokemon in the whole -"

    "Yes, yes, yes," Sebastian agreed quickly. "Have you seen any particularly good ones lately? Maybe even a few Ponyta?"

    The man failed to take the bait, however. "Oh, yes, several. I visit Ponyta ranches every Wednesday afternoon. I saw several fine specimens that simply -"

    "But I actually had a certain one in mind, and was wondering if your expertise would lead me to him," Sebastian interrupted, ditching his gentle prompt for something a bit more straight-forward.

    "Certainly. I'm the leading authority on the Ponyta line. I know every one of merit," the man said proudly.

    Finally he was getting somewhere. "Would that include shiny ones?"

    "Yes, of course, those are the -"

    But then his beaming smile was wiped off of his face with a speed that was astounding to see.

    "Wait," he said, eyes narrowing, his mouth now a tight line of suspicion. "Wait, wait, wait. Are you talking about her?"

    "Um..." said Sebastian, sensing he was treading dangerous ground. "The Ponyta's trainer was a girl, yes..."

    "Her! Her! I refuse to talk to anyone that has to do with her!" he bellowed. He heaved and huffed and puffed and quickly turned bright red. His face screwed up in a rage that was almost comical. If Sebastian had feared for the guy's heart before, he sure as heck feared for it now.

    Nana scrambled out of his arms at the yelling and cowered behind his legs.

    The room hushed, the bickering Pokemon Fan Club members stopping their altercation at the wrath of their Chairman. Everything stood froze for a brief moment in time. The lady in the green dress was the first to take action. She got up and ran to the old man's side, attempting to calm him down before keeled over.

    "Now, now, Grandpa. Think happy thoughts, happy thoughts! Think of Rosanne. You're riding her through a field."

    "A field, yes..." the old man said dreamily, forgetting his anger at the mention of what Sebastian could only assume was his beloved Rapidash.

    "And there's a sunset, and the sound of ocean waves. Very peaceful."


    The lady led her mollified Grandpa back to the couch, helping him sit down with tenderness in her gaze that was touching. Once the man was settled, she returned to Sebastian with an apologetic look on her face.

    "Sorry about that. Grandpa gets very...passionate about things."

    "No harm done. But what did I say to set him off like that?" Sebastian, of course, knew exactly what had set the geezer off, but intended to hear the whole story from the granddaughter.

    Now that things had quieted down, Nana, possessing the innate ability to sense opportune times for a cat-nap, curled up at his feet and went promptly to sleep.

    The granddaughter sighed and ran a hand through her cropped, dish-water blonde hair. "That girl that came in here a while ago, I think her name started with an 'M'? Marie, maybe? Anyway, she had a shiny Ponyta that she showed to Granddad when he told her how much he liked Rapidash. Needless to say he was ecstatic. He would have done anything for her just because she let him touch the thing. She asked him for a good ground Pokemon; her starter was Squirtle and she was having trouble with the Lieutenant’s Gym. She hadn't had time to catch any herself because she had spent so much time on that Ponyta. He didn't have any ground types, though, so he gave her a Tangela we'd had for awhile. He would've gone out to Diglett Tunnel and caught one with his bare hands just to see that Ponyta again, but she convinced him the Tangela was better than nothing, thank Mew."

    "Something must've happened, huh?" he asked. He was intrigued despite himself. It was strange hearing about shiny-girl's past.

    "Oh yeah," the granddaughter agreed, nodding emphatically. "Turned out she dumped the turtle like it was yesterday's trash. When he found out, he was furious. He can't stand when Pokemon are treated badly, that's why he started this club in the first place, and abandoning a Pokemon is just about the worst thing you can do. He wouldn't stop ranting about how she was 'an insult to the Ponyta name,' and didn't deserve her shiny or her Trainer's License. He wanted to get her suspended, but by the time he talked to Surge about it she was long gone. Even then he tried to find her himself. Luckily I talked him out of it; he would have given himself a heart attack. That was a long time ago, but he still remembers her."

    Sebastian nodded understandingly, then said, "Sorry I brought it up again. I just wanted to find that girl, is all."

    "Oh, it wasn't your fault," she smiled sadly, brushing his apology away. "He's going to need a cause now that he won't have the Club."

    "Won't have the Club? Is he quitting?"

    "Oh, yeah, I guess you wouldn't have heard about that. Well, when Granddad went to talk to Surge, he reminded him about the Club. When he looked into it he realized that we haven't had a new member in years and were just taking up space. He told us we would have to disband within the year if we didn't get any new people. He forgot about it for a while, but just came in the other day and told us our time was up." She shrugged. "I just joined because Granddad wanted me to, but for him...It was his life. He was devastated."

    "Well Mew, I'm sorry," he said sympathetically. He was pretty good at sympathy. "I sure didn't know that."

    "Oh, it's alright, he -" A sudden thought dawned on her face. "Hey, you wanted to join, right? If we got a new member, Surge would have to change his mind! You are going to join, right?"

    Wait just a minute! No one had said anything about joining anything!

    "I, uh..."

    "Mew, that's great! You don't know how much this'll mean to him! Hey, Grampa! This guy is going to join!" she shouted to the old man excitedly. "We're off the hook!"

    "What? He is?!" the man exclaimed.

    Geez, this was getting out of hand.

    "Er, I wasn't exactly planning on -" he began, but was cut off.

    "Tell him, new member!" the girl urged, rounding back on Sebastian. "Say it out loud and proud!"

    "I, uh, am joining the Pokemon Fan Club?" he managed.

    "Wonderful!" crowed the Chairman. "And here I had given up on the old girl! The Club lives on, thanks to our savior!"

    Savior, huh? Well heck, if he was going to fill the role, he was going to fill it.

    "As a matter of fact," he said grandly, "I'll go talk to Surge about it myself!"

    "Oh Mew that's great! That's great! Isn't that great, Grampa?"

    "Yes, my dear, yes! The Club is saved!"

    The other two members joined in, and the whole bunch began dancing around and laughing like school-girls (which, he supposed, the granddaughter might actually be).

    As he watched the proceedings he couldn't help but feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. He supposed he needed some good deeds to counter all the not-so-good ones he had done.

    Nana lifted her head blearily, wondering what all the fuss was about.

    "We're the newest members of the Pokemon Fan Club," he explained to her.

    She snorted a disgusted snort and went back to sleep.


    As it turned out, Nana had had the right idea. Being a member of the Pokemon Fan Club was not just an empty title; there was lots of talking and lots and lots of forms involved.

    No wonder no one else joined, he grumbled inwardly as he finally escaped the place, the whole Club sending him off with tearful waves. They were all drowned in the paperwork before they could finish it!

    But hey, if it made an old man and his granddaughter happy. Plus, he had gotten some info on Mary and had also met a man dead-set on finding and punishing her - even if said man was edging on seventy, that had to count for something, right?

    Well, whatever the case, it was back to work for him. Time to give Surge a proper talking-to.

    "Now that was an experience, eh Nana?" he grinned down at her as they walked towards the Gym.

    In answer Nana returned herself to her Pokeball, stating quite clearly what she thought about the "experiences" of the day. Sebastian chuckled a bit at her indignation and continued on to the Gym.

    It looked just like the one in Pewter - no points for originality, at least on the outside. The only difference was the sign; it vaunted Lt. Surge, "The Lightning American!", as Leader.

    On the inside, however, it was very different. Nice yellow tile floors, a distinct improvement. More trainers scattered about, too, and they were a tough-looking bunch.

    Then there were the traps. The Gym was full of what looked like metal garbage cans in three neat rows of five. Surge himself was blocked by two streams of crackling electricity forming a wall. In order to get to him, you obviously had to do something with the garbage cans.

    He wasn't entirely sure what. If he couldn't figure it out, though, then no kid trainer would be able to, and that would be one big strike against the Lieutenant. So, here went nothing.

    He began to peer inside the garbage cans, looking for any clues as to what would shut the electric wall down. When one of the underlings tried to stop him for a battle, he flashed his badge impatiently and continued his search. Was he looking for a switch, or a key, or something else? Maybe this was just a trick, a distraction, and he was really supposed to go up to Surge and demand he shut down the wall and battle.

    Oh, wait, no - here was a switch. He pressed it eagerly. That was easy - just hide and seek!

    The top stream of electricity promptly fizzled out. The lower one, however, remained, still blocking the way.

    Sebastian frowned. Drats and curses. There must be another switch somewhere, then. Still, that didn't make it anything more than hide and seek - he could be missing something...

    He looked in a can near-by and found nothing, then jumped when the top stream of electricity started going again with a loud FZZT!

    What the hell?!

    He looked back inside the trash can the first switch had been in, thinking maybe it was timed to flip back or something - but it wasn't there! He checked all of the trash cans around it, thinking maybe he had been mistaken, but nope. No switch.

    He huffed an angry huff. Mew damn it, the man was playing tricks with him! He was probably standing behind his electric wall laughing his a*s off!

    Well, he would figure out this damn puzzle AND he would make the guy join the Pokemon Fan Club, just out of spite. If anyone deserved that strange torture, it was a Gym Leader who made stupid traps.

    Grumbling, he returned to the trash cans. At least there wasn't garbage in them.

    Ho-hum, la-de-dum. This was getting quite dull. All of the trash cans he poked into were empty; there was nary a switch in sight.

    Screw this. He pulled Nana's Pokeball from his belt and forced her out, cutting her rest short.

    "Nana, help me find a switch in one of these things," he commanded.

    She growled unhappily at him, but trotted off to help. With two looking this would go quicker.

    Sure enough, mere minutes later Nana barked sharply, indicating she had something.

    "Good job, girl," he praised, walking over to the garbage can she had stood on her hind legs to look into. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

    She plopped back onto all fours as he flipped the switch and made as if to lie down. Sebastian stopped her. "Wait, now. I don't think these things reset if a Pokemon checks. Tell me which can has the other switch."

    She sighed and did as he asked, finding the other switch with ease. Sebastian leapt at the can she indicated, pushing the switch before it could disappear on him. The whole electric gate powered down with a low hum.

    "Awesome!" he cried, punching the air. "Come on, Nana, let's show this loser what for. I'll give him an inspection he won't soon forget."

    He stormed through the cans and straight to Lt. Surge, ready to give him a piece of his mind.

    Lt. Surge had different ideas.

    "You!" the Leader yelled, pointing at Sebastian. "You got through my traps! Battle! Now!"

    Sebastian pointed back at himself. Who ME? the gesture said.

    "Yes! You!" Surge bellowed in answer.

    Was this guy's brain addled? Did he have a plate in his head from his Army days? Sebastian was definitely not here to fight.

    "Uh, no, you don't understand," Sebastian began, chuckling nervously. "I'm not -"

    "DID YOU NOT HEAR ME?" Surge roared. "You got through the traps! My dignity is at stake! BATTLE!"

    Before Sebastian could protest further, Surge took a Pokeball from his belt and slammed it to the ground. A Pikachu emerged, its lightning-bolt-shaped tail twitching.

    Well, there obviously wasn't going to be any arguing with this guy, especially considering if he argued he would be beaten to a pulp. Seriously, look at him! More muscles than a Machamp, blonde hair still in a crew cut, he was even wearing the uniform! No, it was no use fighting with a trained Army man, at least not if Pokemon weren't involved - he would be squished under those giant combat boots. Besides, despite the clear insanity that raged in the meat-head's blue eyes, his Gym was just a measly two stars. That meant his levels would be low, and Nana would have little trouble with him.

    "Guess that means you're up," he said to her.

    She looked at the Pikachu uneasily but stepped forward to accept Surge's challenge. As she stepped forward both Surge and Sebastian stepped back, giving the battling Pokemon some space.

    "GOOD!" the man hollered. "Pikachu, Quick Attack!"

    The Pikachu darted forward faster than the eye could follow, hitting Nana in the side and sending her tumbling. Although fast, it wasn't a hard hit, and Nana shook it off easily.

    Okay, so what moves did Nana know? Faint Attack, of course, but that was really the only one he had used on the job. It had been so long...better go with something vague for now. Nana could take care of herself.

    "Make him regret that, Nana," Sebastian called.

    Before the Pikachu could recover from its attack and put some more distance between them, the Umbreon pounced, latching onto its back to bite and scratch. The Pikachu shook Nana off eventually, but significant damage had been done. Blood spatters marked the ground as it retreated hastily. Sebastian noted this with satisfaction - that had been a wonderfully executed Pursuit attack; he recognized it now that he had seen it. Nana hadn't battled in a while, but she still had the skills.

    "Shock Wave!" yelled Surge.

    The yellow rat pressed its cute little paws to its cute red cheeks and sent a large jolt of painful electricity flying Nana's way. She tried to dodge but it followed her around, tracking her every twist and turn. Sebastian winced as it eventually hit her head-on. The smell of singed fur began to waft across the Gym.

    Yuck. Apparently that attack couldn't miss.

    It was starting to come back to him now, though, all those battles they had shared. Time to see if she still remembered their code language, developed over many late-night missions. "Give him some tail, Nana!"

    The Umbreon grinned and turned around. Then she stuck her rump in the air and waggled her bum. The Pikachu, visibly shocked, sat frozen for a moment, mouth agape. This brief moment of lowered defenses was all Nana needed; not only did she recall the term for Tail Whip, she also remembered what came next. She finished off the Pikachu with its own super-fast attack.

    Sebastian couldn't help but grin as the Umbreon's blazing tackle knocked the Pikachu over into a dead faint. Ah, the memories! They had been quite the battling team, back before he had been promoted from field work.

    Lt. Surge recalled the Pikachu wordlessly, then sent out his next Pokemon. Sebastian scoffed when he saw what it was: a Pokeball with a face. What was a Voltorb going to do, roll Nana over?

    Surge must have sensed his amusement, because he frowned and yelled, "What's so funny, little man? I'll show you FUNNY! Shock wave!"

    Oh boy.

    "Brace yourself!" he warned Nana.

    She gritted her sharp teeth and stood her ground as the ball hit her with the same tracking electricity Pikachu had used. Ouch. Better take this thing out fast.

    "Mach Five, then follow it up!" Sebastian called.

    Nana hit the Voltorb speedily with another Quick Attack, placing her in a prime position to smack it again before it could react. She did so, hitting it full-on with a nasty blast of dark energy that sent it spinning. It rolled to a stop at Surge's feet, quite fainted by the beautifully pulled-off Assurance.

    Surge ground his teeth angrily as he recalled yet another Pokemon, then blared, "CHEATER!"

    "What?" Sebastian called back, honestly perplexed. "Because I won?"

    "NO! Attack names!"

    "Oh. I don't say the attack names. Well, I'm sorry to say that isn't against that rules," he replied cheerfully. "I should know."

    "GAH! I'll grind your bones to dust, cheater!" Surge howled, his blunt square face contorting.

    That figured. The one complete sentence he strung together was a death threat.

    He threw his last Pokeball to the floor. Sebastian waited to see what would be revealed a bit worriedly. Who knew what this maniac had as his strongest Pokemon, his last resort?

    "CHUUU!" the Pokemon cried, its form hidden momentarily by a burst of electricity that crackled and popped.

    Sebastian shielded his eyes with an arm. Good Mew, was the man trying to blind him now? When the crackling had stopped he lowered his arm cautiously, blinking as after-images of the miniature lightning storm spotted his vision.

    Just a Raichu! After all that show he had expected something a bit more menacing. The evolution of Pikachu was bigger and stronger but more slow; Nana would run circles around it.

    "Double Team!" Surge ordered, perhaps predicting what Sebastian had thought.

    The Raichu immediately made copies of itself that spread out in a semi-circle. Nana glanced from one to the other, looking confused. Five fat bodies, five curly ears, five lightning bolts on the ends of five whip-like tails - which one to hit?

    Humph, thought Sebastian. Talk about cheating; Double Team was a move cheap enough for a con-artist like him. What a hypocrite. Well, Sand Attack wouldn't work to destroy the clones - the hard tile floor was sadly sand-less. He would have to go a different route.

    "Crack him like a safe, Nana."

    She sliced the air, creating a portal like the one she had used to break into the Center room. For some reason that no one had quite figured out, in battle the portal always opened behind the user's opponent, clones or no clones. Sebastian could care less about the why as long as it worked.

    And work it did. Nana emerged from the Faint Attack vortex and landed on a Raichu that was definitely solid. Both of them went tumbling to the ground.

    "Give him a light show while he's down!" he commanded, gesturing excitedly, really starting to enjoy himself now.

    Nana, springing to her feet more quickly than the rather tubby Raichu, made her rings glow on and off, appear to spin, flash rapidly, the whole works, distracting and bewildering the rodent.

    "Shock Wave!" Surge demanded. Was that a note of desperation in his voice? Sebastian thought it was.

    The Raichu tried to follow its trainer's command and created that stream of electricity Sebastian had come to loathe, but zapped itself instead of the Umbreon.

    "Ha! Confusion's a b*tch, eh?" Sebastian cried triumphantly.

    He sobered up a bit at Surge's murderous expression. Maybe he was getting a little too into this.

    "Er...finish him off with another Faint Attack." He refrained from using code, hoping that would keep Surge from killing him after this was over.

    Nana did as she was told. The Raichu collapsed.

    Surge recalled it with a blank face. Sebastian recalled Nana as well, very reluctantly. She was the only thing between him and what could be a very enraged, very muscular man - but common courtesy dictated it rude to keep the winning Pokemon out after a battle. So he waited for the man's reaction, anxious and alone.

    Surge was rummaging through his pockets. Looking for a gun? Hopefully not. Still, he took a step back when the Leader approached him. Who knew what the crazy was going to do?

    "Take it," Surge said, holding out a hand closed around something.

    "Take what?"

    "A knife!" bellowed Surge. "My dignity must be reclaimed! Duel to the death! NOW!"

    "THE THUNDERBADGE!" Surge thundered. Spittle rained on Sebastian's face.

    "Oh," said Sebastian, relieved, as he wiped his face with his sleeve. Not a weapon, then. "But I don't want it."


    "I don't want it! I didn't come here for the badge!"

    "Then what DO you want?" Surge asked, dropping his hand, a look of dumb perplexity on his face.

    Sebastian sighed. If the stupid man would have just listened...

    "First of all, do you recall the Pokemon Fan Club?"

    "THOSE whimpering cowards!" Surge spat. "Pampering Pokemon instead of toughening 'em up! I got rid of them!"

    "Nope!" Sebastian corrected. "That's my first term as victor: the Pokemon Fan Club stays."


    Sebastian paused, surprised. That had been easy. Well, he wasn't one to question good fortune.

    "Term number two," he continued. "You listen to some advice of mine. Capiche?"

    "Ca-WHAT?" Surge growled.

    "Uh, do you understand?"

    "Yes. What advice?"

    Sebastian grinned the sly grin of a Gym Inspector faced with a worthy challenge.

    "I'm glad you asked, my friend."

Share This Page