A New Leaf

Chapter Three – A New Leaf

“Save him,” Caroline said to Leaf. Her auburn hair flowed down to the shoulders of her yellow dress whilst a tearful mist clouded her blue eyes. “I miss him.”

“We all want to rescue your son,” Leaf replied cautiously, treading carefully on each word in fear of upsetting Erik’s distraught mother even further. “Wally, Blue, Oak and I will scour the region for any sign of Erik.”

“And look out for my brother please,” Daisy Oak said with a smile. She shared her brother’s chestnut coloured hair and eyes, but in contrast to the petulant expression engraved on Blue’s face, his sister frequently appeared sweet and smiling.

“Of course,” Leaf replied, noting that Daisy bore a lab coat. Professor Oak’s granddaughter frequently aided him in his studies, she was locally famous for having a calming effect on even the wildest Pokemon.

“Thank you, and good luck,” Daisy said before Caroline echoed her well wishes.

 Leaf departed the quaint abode of Pallet Town with a heavy feeling of apprehension like a weight in her stomach. Route One beckoned her now with its lush rolling grasslands connecting the hamlet she was departing to Viridian City. She strolled briskly through the freshly cut lawns of the route, flanked by beautiful flowerbeds which featured a plethora of bright colours. She hoped that none within Viridian would recognise her after the raid. Instead of the green clothes and mask she had worn during the assault on the Test Centre, she now bore an aqua-blue top with a rose-red skirt. A yellow bag was slung over her shoulder, containing supplies and equipment for her journey. She also had a belt strapped around her waist containing six slots for Pokeballs, one of which had Dino’s capsule attached.

 A device clipped to the right side of her belt vibrated violently. Leaf grabbed the PokeNav, a device which acted as part mobile phone, part Pokemon encyclopedia and part mobile television, and flipped open the yellow gadget to see that Archie was calling her from Hoenn.

“Hello,” she answered, pressing the PokeNav to her ear. The devices originated from Hoenn, which is why the Resistance members kept in touch with them, Team Rocket struggled to track their frequencies.

“Cecilia,” Archie growled, his gruff voice sounding as if he had gravel trapped in his throat. “Or Leaf, or whatever you call yourself these days.”

“Call me Leaf,” she said then giggled. “What’s up?”

“Just wanna keep you updated. Rocket destroyed our army and now we fear a counterattack so we must prepare our defenses here in Hoenn.”

“So you’re saying we’re on our own?” Leaf interrupted.

“Nah. Well yeah. Sorta,” Archie said. “We can’t actively assist you. But we are here if you need us. If you find out where Erik is then don’t go alone, give me a call and I can get an elite team there to you quick. I’ve gotten my boys Mylos and Grant to sort out a small strike team just in case.”

“Archie,” she replied softly. “We need you.”

“Nah you don’t. You and Wally are two of the best trainers I know. You have that old man professor and his grandkid helping too. Just stay out of plain sight and you’ll do fine.”

“We’ll try. Speak soon,” Leaf said as she hung up the phone. She understood Archie’s predicament, but still hoped for reinforcements from Hoenn, they needed them badly, Especially if Rocket caught on to their identities.

Suddenly her wrist device lit up. The black electronic watch strapped to her arm usually just showed the time. If a nearby trainer pointed their own device at her and pressed the touch screen, a red light would appear on Leaf’s own watch, meaning she was challenged to a battle she cannot refuse. But now her watch displayed a message, “Announcement”. Leaf moved her finger to the screen and tapped it once, two new words flashed up on the small watch-face “Round One”. Another tap bought up the two final words of the message: “Sammy Anthony”, who Leaf assumed was to be her opponent. The light at the top of the device lit a dim red after the screen resumed displaying the time.

“I guess that’s how I find my opponent,” Leaf thought aloud. “The light gets brighter the closer I am to this ‘Sammy Anthony’.” She stopped for a moment to consider her next course of action, she hadn’t heard of her opponent, but assumed he had been training relentlessly over these past two years, gathering a team of Pokemon primed for battle, and all she had was Dino.

Leaf flipped open her PokeNav, fiddling through the different menus to bring up a specific tab, ‘Kanto Trainer Rules’. She studied the rules of the region thoroughly, ensuring she didn’t miss a word. Kanto had kept the standard trainer ruleset with laws such as battles are to be fought one on one, to the death with only six Pokemon maximum to be carried by each trainer at any time, but they had also adopted Hoenn’s rules. Only one Pokemon may be caught per route, that Pokemon being the first that appears to a trainer on that route and trainers may not train their Pokemon by battling against wild Pokemon, only engaging in conflict either to catch using a Pokeball, or in self-defence. Browsing the list she spotted a new rule fixed in place, one that hadn’t been present in the region of Hoenn. “Once a trainer’s Pokemon enters the zone of battle in any official trainer fight, that Pokemon cannot be recalled into its Pokeball unless it retreats to its trainer.” This meant that she wouldn’t be able to recall her Pokemon if they were weak or about to fall, they would have to leave the ‘zone of battle’, which was the fighting area marked between where the trainers stood.

“I bet Team Rocket members won’t follow these rules, and they’ve only been implemented to help Giovanni control trainers even easier,” Leaf said grimly. “But I guess if I’m to become Champion, I’ll have to stay within the limits and not draw unwanted attention. Now, I need a team of Pokemon to challenge Sammy Anthony.”

Wally gulped in the salty sea air as he stepped off the small boat into the hustle and bustle of Vermillion City’s docks. He had arrived into the heart of Kanto, taking a small vessel from Pallet Town towards the great port city. Once the ship had neared the harbour his wrist device flashed with the name of his opponent.

“Oh here it is,” a sarcastic voice bleated in Wally’s ear, causing him to remember he had a PokeNav pressed to his ear with Blue on the other end. “Our first match, how exciting.”

“I got Jasper Braxton,” Wally read aloud.

“Shane Cale here,” Blue said. “This should be easy.”

“You know him?” Wally asked as he strolled across the docks, the afternoon sun struggling to peek through the clouds as a flock of Spearow soared overhead.

“Nope, nor your guy either, that’s why it’ll be easy. I’d know of anyone worth knowing about.”

“Don’t be too cocky, Blue.” Wally stopped mid-sentence as his wrist device glared a bright red, he had barely set foot in the city and his opponent was already close by. “I think he’s close.”

“Yeah mine too,” Blue said. “In fact, there he is, he’s already challenged me the idiot. My Pidgey, Rattata and Charmander should have an easy time here!”

“How’d you get there so quick?” Wally asked as he upped his pace towards a nearby cave, hoping for a brief respite and chance to capture another Pokemon or two before his opening battle of the tournament.

“When there’s a will there’s a way. I gotta go. Smell ya later!” A clicking sound resounded from Wally’s PokeNav, signalling that Blue had hung up the call.

“Hey you!” a voice called from behind Wally. “You Wally Heiko?”

In shock Wally slowly turned, his wrist device catching the corner of his eye as it rapidly flashed a deep red.

“Jasper?” Wally squeaked. The only Pokemon in his possession was his barely trained Pikachu, he was nowhere near ready for a battle.

“That’s me,” the elderly gentleman said. His white hair was tied up in a bun above a well-worn face, his thin mouth enshrouded by a full goatee. “Been waiting two years for this. Let’s fight”

“In the city?” Wally asked, desperately seeking any sort of stalling tactic.

“Well, on the outskirts,” the man said, his hoarse voice trailing away at the end of each sentence. “We’re only just in the city limits, should be out of the way. As long as we stay within a certain distance of each other we will still be in ‘battle mode’.”

Wally slowly reached towards Pikachu’s Pokeball, a sinking feeling plummeting towards his stomach. If he walked far enough away from Jaspar his wrist device would declare that he had lost the battle. He had to fight.

Children played at the edge of Viridian City, the cobbled streets lit limply by a dim sunlight which protruded through thick clouds.The dull stone city caused wisps of memories to flicker through Leaf’s mind, replaying partial scenes from their assault on Rocket’s Test Centre and Erik’s eventual capture. She recalled the look of sheer defiance plastered across his face until the end and the enviable willpower Erik constantly summoned in every testing moment he fought. He wasn’t just her friend, but someone she inspired to be.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a male Rattata skulking across the pathway towards a female, yet again attempting to charm the stubborn creature as trees loomed to their right and cast shade upon them. She spotted his approach, where she immediately thrusted her head into the sky to show disinterest and trotted off back to her trainer, Leaf.

“Sorry Fang,” Leaf called out to the male Rattata, knowing that from the first instance her newly captured Pokemon had sighted Rex, he was caught in her allure. “She’s just not interested,” Leaf followed with a giggle.

 Fang limped feebly back to a Mankey and Weedle who lay at the edge of the treeline, the two Pokemon commiserating with their friend. Whilst Rex preferred the company of Leaf, Fang rapidly bonded with Fury the Mankey and Jab the Weedle, the trio becoming good friends in an instant. She had caught four new Pokemon along four fresh Kanto routes, assembling a team in the few hours she had before the inevitable arrival of Sammy, her first round opponent.

Leaf chuckled again as Fang playfully tackled Fury, the two rolling across the pavement as Jab slithered behind them and failing in his attempts to keep pace. Rex gave her a knowing look, as they both realised that the Mankey had been lightheartedly teasing Fang on his failure. Fury had been known to be mischievous but good natured but it was Jab that Leaf felt pity for; The poor Weedle was weak and struggled to match up to his two friends but that had never stopped him trying.

A shrill beeping suddenly resounded from Leaf’s wrist device, the red light flashing on and off as the words “Battle Locked” appeared on screen. The words disappeared to be replaced by a picture of a man with bulging brown eyes, almost like a bugs. He must’ve been only just into adulthood with a clean shaven face and thick greasy hair as if he hadn’t washed in weeks. The image was captioned with a name, “Sammy Anthony”.

“Leaf Fuguri,” a high-pitched scratchy voice called out from a few metres across her, “you look prettier in your picture.” He stood dressed in blue shorts with a plain white sleeveless top. His face matched his picture but in person he bore a yellow bowl hat and carried a net with him used for catching small Pokemon.

“Excuse me?” she snapped irritably, then stopped. “What would Erik do?” she asked herself. Would he have been offended by a small jibe, or would he have fought fire with fire?

“I said,” he screeched louder, “you have a face like the Rattata in your arms.”

Rex growled beside her, channelling her trainer’s anger at the comment. Leaf refused to let her fury show, instead choosing to calm her Rattata by stroking its soft fur head.

“Listen, bug boy,” she retorted, but stopped as she saw him take pride in her response. She had meant to insult in reference to his bulging eyes which seemed to pop out of his head, but her opponent had taken it as a compliment to his obvious hobby of gathering bug-type Pokemon.

“I’m listening.” His voice almost came across as a hiss, despite him taking a more friendly tone than before. “And not hearing.”

“I…” Leaf was lost for words as Fury, Fang and Jab returned to her side. She had kept Dino in his Pokeball in order to spend more time with her new captures, but considered releasing him now. “Let’s just fight!” she finally followed.

 “Not here,” Sammy said whilst looking around the streets and seeing children playing nearby. “In there,” he said, pointing towards the trees that flanked Viridian City and suited his bug Pokemon.

“Fine,” Leaf replied. She knew she was gifting him the terrain advantage but all she cared about was humiliating the boy in battle after his insults. She let him lead her and her Pokemon into the trees, Dino remaining in his Pokeball for now and Rex in her arms. The trio of friends following in close proximity behind her.

Sammy and Leaf reached a small clearing in which to battle, thorn bushes and thick trees surrounding the insignificant patch of grass where both trainers now stood prepping their team for battle. Sammy released all his Pokemon from their Pokeballs and barked instructions to his Caterpie, two Weedles and Kakuna in turn.

“Right then,” Leaf said to her Pokemon. “Who’s first?” Fang stepped forward first, eager to impress Rex but Leaf held out a hand and nodded to Fury instead, the Mankey was to be her first fighter into the fray. “Sorry Fang,” she whispered to her Rattata. “But your head is in the wrong place right now, you won’t be focused on the battle, you’ll be focused on trying to impress Rex, and that could get you killed.” Fang responded by dropping his head. Leaf guessed by his solemn expression that he clearly understood why his trainer had made that choice but was still upset by the decision. Leaf guessed by his defeated expression that he was losing hope in the battle for Rex’s heart.

Fury made a screech-like noise as he waded onto the battlefield, a sort of war cry towards the Weedle who now crawled towards him. Leaf regarded her Pokemon as he flexed his muscles at his opponent, noticing that Fury looked like a small cream-coloured fur ball with legs, arms, ears and a tail which curled when her Pokemon was angry. From behind, her Mankey looked almost cute and innocent, but she knew the constant ferocious look in his blood-red eyes and the scowl permanently painted across his features, which is why she gifted him the name, “Fury”.

An indomitable rage swelled within Fury, fuelling his hunger for battle and destruction at the sight at of his opponent hurtling towards him. The berserk Mankey charged, becoming oblivious to the world outside of the minuscule battlefield. Fury lunged wildly with an enclosed fist, hoping to dominate his opponent with raw power, but the Weedle rolled rapidly and dodged the blow before swinging round. The bug Pokemon aimed the spike affixed to the top of its head back round at Fury, who had stumbled after failing with his charge, and was now regaining his composure.

“Look out!” Leaf screamed to her Pokemon, but Fury was too wrapped up in his frenzy to heed her calls of warning. The Mankey spun on his heel, swinging a fist back around and pummeling the Weedle who had implanted the spike into Fury’s leg, the toxins infused within began creeping into the Mankey’s body. Unperturbed, Fury began a relentless onslaught of strikes, striking the Weedle with one fist then the other, before slowing and collapsing to his knees as the poison took its full hold of the Pokemon.

“Finish it!” Sammy encouraged his Pokemon, seeing Leaf’s Mankey on its knees with his arms across his chest in agony. The Weedle stammered forward, it had been knocked back bruised and dazed by the constant blows but now began to slowly crawl towards his downed opponent.

“Don’t give up,” Leaf whispered to herself, trying to channel her energy and emotions into her Pokemon. She knew that if the bond between her and her creatures was strong enough, they could feed off each other’s strength, but she had only just met her Mankey. She attempted to catch her Pokemon’s eye, but saw only rage within, which was an advantage in itself.

Fury staggered back to his feet before aiming a wild kick at the Weedle. Sammy’s Pokemon was weakened by the earlier assault and rendered too feeble to dodge the blow as the Mankey’s foot collided, sending the Weedle sprawling across the ground. Fury became relentless once more, no longer hindered by the poison coursing through his veins as anger surged through him. Leaf’s Mankey leapt through the air towards his opponent, finishing him off with a series of ferocious strikes.

“Well done Fury!” Leaf sighed with relief, before recalling her Mankey to her side and applying an antidote to her Pokemon, eliminating the poison from within. She didn’t know what caused her Pokemon to be so full of hatred and anger, but it did seem to be a trait in many Mankey.

“Lucky,” Sammy declared, glancing at Leaf with his bug-like eyes. “My Caterpie will crush you.”

“Jab,” Leaf spoke to her own Weedle. “This is where you show everyone what you can do.” Jab looked sheepish at the thought of having to go out and fight, but reluctantly slithered into the centre of the the clearing to face the Caterpie in battle. Fang and Fury called out in support of their friend, the Mankey having now seemingly flicked an internal switch rendering himself calm.

Battle commenced, both Pokemon firing string at the other in attempts to trip their opponent or slow them down between wild tackles, neither inflicting much damage on the other. Both the Weedle and the Caterpie appeared tentative, clearly neither had yet been tested in battle.

“Jab,” Leaf called to her Pokemon who turned his head to look at his trainer, she saw the trepidation scream in his eyes. “No!” she shrieked, as Sammy’s Pokemon took advantage of its opponent’s distraction and encasing Jab in a tomb of string.

“Yes!” Sammy screeched, jumping on the spot in triumph as his Caterpie rammed into the string coffin again and again. Leaf knew that her Weedle would be offered a slight protection from his casing, but with each blow the string would become weaker, allowing the Caterpie to damage him further.

Fury and Fang gasped in synchronisation as part of the string tore open at another ram from the Caterpie, leaving Jab’s head exposed and primed for a final attack from Sammy’s Pokemon. The Caterpie backtracked a few steps, ensuring it had a long run up in order to maximise the damage, then charged.

“No!” Leaf screamed then closed her eyes.

“No!” Sammy echoed a few moments later. Leaf opened her eyes to see the Caterpie prone on the ground as poison seeped through its system, then turned her vision back towards the cocoon of string to see Jab had lowered his head at the last moment, causing the Caterpie to ram straight into the spike affixed to the top of his head.

Fury and Fang jumped for joy on the sidelines before entering the battlefield and helping Jab escape his string prison, escorting him victoriously from the fray.

“Wanna go next?” Leaf asked Rex who still lay in her arms. The Rattata leapt from her trainer and strutted forward proudly to protests from Fang. “Don’t worry,” Leaf told the male Rattata. “You’ll get your chance, and Rex can handle herself.”

“You rodent!” Sammy screeched, not to Rex but to Leaf. “You insolent rodent! I’ve trained for months for this moment only to be stopped by some silly little girl.”

“Are we fighting or crying?” Leaf retorted, before smiling to herself, proud of the reply.

“Winning! I’ll be winning!” Sammy responded before hastily pushing his second Weedle towards Rex.

Leaf knew Rex’s battle style already, she had been her first capture and had aided her in recruiting Fury, Fang and Jab respectively. Her female Rattata wasn’t naturally the strongest, and despite being fast, she also wasn’t the quickest. But she fought using her wits, and fighting clever was just as respectable as any other style.

Her battle intelligence became evident instantly, Rex foresaw that the Weedle would attack its poisonous point so she skittered towards a thorn bush, then stopped and prepared for her opponent’s inevitable charge.

“Get it! It’s running from you,” Sammy bellowed to his Pokemon, causing Leaf to giggle. Rex had outthought both the trainer and the Pokemon.

The Weedle obeyed its trainer’s instruction and leapt towards Rex with its point gleaming in the thin sunlight which trickled through the trees. As Sammy’s Pokemon began its downward arc through the air, Rex sprang out the way, causing the Weedle to crash into the thorn bush and cry out in agony as the barbs pricked its skin. Rex raced towards her weakened foe, plunging her thick front teeth into the creature to receive a shrill cry of pain in return.

“How?” Sammy cried out. “How are you doing this?” he followed as his Weedle collapsed under the pressure, leaving him with just his Kakuna.

“Rex come back!” Leaf called, her Rattata trotting back to her trainer without a scratch. “It’s Fang’s turn now,” she smiled at her other Rattata, who eagerly walked forward, bouncing with each step at the joy of being able to show his talents towards Rex. Sammy’s Kakuna also came towards the centre of the clearing, appearing to roll towards her opponent.

“My Kakuna is soon to evolve,” he announced, causing a spike of fear to surge through Leaf. Her Pokemon weren’t even close to being battle hardened enough to face a Beedrill in battle.

“Try and do this quickly,” she ordered Fang, who saw it as another way to prove himself to Rex.

The two joined in battle, Fang attempted to tackle the Kakuna before avoiding the creature’s poisonous point. Sammy’s Pokemon had evolved from a Weedle, but still kept its predecessors spike on its lower half. Fang circled his opponent, ensuring he kept the venomous tail in his vision before attacking again, then rolling and narrowly avoiding the swipe from Kakuna.

“Evolve and win me this,” Sammy ordered his Pokemon. Leaf knew that a Pokemon would only evolve on two conditions. Firstly, it would need to have enough battle experience and confidence to reach the next stage of its life cycle and secondly the bond between Pokemon and trainer needed to be strong enough. Leaf had observed that Sammy’s Kakuna was obviously capable enough in itself to evolve, like it would in the wild, but she sensed a fragile bond between the two which stopped it from evolving when owned by the trainer.

Fang ducked under a venomous lunge then plunged his teeth into the Kakuna’s soft underbelly, lodging the fangs into his foe. Leaf’s Rattata saw his opponent swinging the poisonous point around for another blow and attempted to dodge but couldn’t move, his fangs were stuck. He tried again, fully aware of the forthcoming attack, this time managing to slide his teeth free but it was too late.

“Fang!” Leaf shrieked as both Fury and Jab gasped when the point penetrated Fang’s skin and pumped poison into the Rattata, even Rex sat up from where she had slumped to the ground lazily.

“Kakuna?” Sammy called. Both his Pokemon and Fang lay motionless on the ground, weakened by the traded blows. “You can’t fail, you can’t. I need this so much, please don’t fall like everyone else,” he pleaded towards his Pokemon. It was the first sign of true emotion that Leaf had seen from the trainer, and she could see the invisible bond between both Pokemon and trainer strengthen. Sammy’s Kakuna suddenly became swathed in a dazzling white light which engulfed its entire frame.

“Fang! Fang get back,” Leaf bellowed. Kakuna was evolving into Beedrill, and if Fang failed to retreat from the battle zone in time, he was doomed. The rules stated that she was unable to recall him using his Pokeball, and she couldn’t send another Pokemon into the field whilst she had one there already or else face possible disqualification from the tournament.

The light which had engulfed Kakuna morphed from the shape of Sammy’s Pokemon into an entirely different form; One which bore wings, two legs, and two arms with a poisonous point affixed at the end of each.

“Fang!” she called again, adding her voice to the despairing howls of Jab and Fury who were desperate for their friend to come back to them. But their calls were in vain as Fang’s eyes swelled. He accepted his own defeat, his own failure, until Rex climbed to her feet and cried out to him.

The sight of Rex wanting him to survive seemed to reinvigorate Fang, who slowly crawled back towards his trainer, slowly picking up pace until he was almost back to walking speed. The blinding light had vanished, to be replaced by a horrendous buzzing sound as the newly evolved Beedrill chased after Fang.

“Oh no,” Leaf gasped, clutching Dino’s Pokeball in her hand as she awaited Fang’s withdrawal. The Rattata slowly hobbled, poison slowing his advances as Rex awaited him at the edge of the battlefield, the Beedrill in close proximity. Sammy’s Pokemon was but inches away when he pulled back an arm ready to strike with a venomous assault, but Fang had safely retreated and collapsed beside Rex, who reluctantly soothed her fellow Rattata by stroking his head with her own.

Leaf launched Dino’s Pokeball into the fray, before applying an antidote to Fang and recalling the weakened Pokemon back into its own Pokeball to allow him to rest.

Sammy fidgeted uncontrollably as his body trembled with both excitement and anticipation, his arrogant demeanour returning with his Pokemon’s evolution. His Beedrill hovered in the air, darting hastily from side to side in an effort to discern a weakness in the Bulbasaur but Dino stood firm. Sammy’s Pokemon tested his foe’s resolve with a false charge, lunging with the sharp needle affixed to his arm, the tip dripping with a venomous substance, before rapidly pulling back. Dino again stood firm.

“Be strong Dino,” Leaf whispered, feeling her body shake nervously. Her Bulbasaur had not yet moved, preferring to wait and let his opponent make the first attack but now sensed that would not happen. The Beedrill continued to loiter before him, after failing to make Dino so much as flinch with his tests.

“Don’t just stay there,” Sammy impertinently commanded his Pokemon. “You can win me this battle, attack that little green creature.”

His fighter had no choice but to abandon the waiting game and instead began his assault, which was exactly what Dino had been waiting for. The Beedrill lunged once more with both poisonous lances pointed towards his foe, leaking death from their tips. A vine shot out like a whip from inside the bulb planted on Dino’s back and swatted his opponent from the air. Another vine shot out, joining the other in smashing against the Beedrill like a pair of canes.

“No!” Sammy cried. “Get up. Get up!”

Dino ceased his efforts in order to regain his strength, the assault seemingly sapping the energy from him. Beedrill grasped the opportunity to limply retake the aerial advantage, attempting to soar into the skies until Leaf noticed one of his wings was broken, snapped off by one of the whip-like vines and halting the Beedrill from becoming airborne. Dino charged.

“This is it!” Leaf exclaimed, adrenaline surging through her. Her Bulbasaur carved through the grassy terrain, galloping towards victory to looks of horror from Sammy, his face a picture of agony and foreboding. Dino smashed into the struggling Beedrill, causing the bug Pokemon to rocket through the air back towards his trainer and landing with a crash before Sammy.

“How did you defeat me!” Sammy uttered before collapsing to his knees, cradling his defeated Beedrill in his arms. “I’d trained my life for this and I’m out in the first round.”

Leaf moved to comfort the young trainer, before considering if he’d have done the same for her. She decided that he would have gloated had he been victorious so left him to wallow in his misery alone.

“Well done Dino,” she spoke to her Bulbasaur who now trotted merrily alongside her, a bounce to his step. “I thought that Beedrill would’ve ended us all.” Her Pokemon responded with a cheerful growl. “They’ll wait until all the first round fights are completed before announcing our next matchup,” she announced to her team who walked beside her now, with the exception of Fang who recuperated within his Pokeball. “So we will have a day or two to relax. I’ve heard of a museum full of ancient artifacts that I’d love to go and see in Pewter City to the north. We’ll have to cross through Viridian Forest, but that’s safe if you stick to the paths.”

So it was decided. Leaf smiled to herself. She had won the first round without losing a single Pokemon in battle, but she knew that the road ahead was only going to get more difficult. Much more difficult.

“Please,” Wally begged his opponent. “Please don’t kill my Pikachu.” His frail voice echoed around the cave they dwelled within, bouncing off the brown rocks encrusted on the walls.

“It’s alright kid,” Jaspar replied, toying with the thin wisp of white hair on his chin. “You’re young, you’ll recover. If you lose all your Pokemon in battle, you’ll lose your trainer’s licence. But that’s fine, you can apply for one again in a year, you’ll have to go to the Test Centre in Viridian and pass those tests though. Sorry I’m rambling,” the elderly gentleman decided, watching his Magnemite circle the kill, twirling its steel body through the air as electric charges sparked from the magnets it had for arms. Jasper repeatedly tapped at each of the three Pokeballs still attached to his belt, as if to remind Wally that even if his Pikachu managed to somehow miraculously defeat his Magnemite, he still had plenty of Pokemon left to fight.

“I’ve only just got here, I didn’t have time to catch any other Pokemon,” Wally pleaded against his inevitable defeat.

“Back in my day, Pokemon only fought until they fainted or were withdrawn from battle. And there was no such thing as a trainer licence, you could catch Pokemon anywhere and however many you wanted. But now Rocket are in charge, and now its to the death, and now you can only catch one Pokemon per route and if you are defeated in battle it’s over for you. It’s not my world anymore and certainly not my rules. But the law is the law. I’m sorry kid, I truly am.”

“Just allow me to go out and catch a couple of Pokemon so it’s a fair fight.”

“I can’t leave or I surrender the battle. Same for you. If you don’t want me to kill your Pikachu then I won’t but you must surrender the fight.”

Wally paused and considered that for a moment, a quiet blanketed the cave, only interrupted by the Magnemites buzzing and swirling. He had zero chance of winning this battle, he had failed. He could travel back to Hoenn with his Pikachu and hope Leaf and Blue can rescue Erik, or he could stay as Professor Oak’s assistant which would allow him to both keep his Pikachu and help search for Erik, but he’d have no freedom and his dream of becoming Champion would be crushed until the next tournament.

“Come on kid, make a decision,” Jasper broke the silence, the pain of what he must do evident in his eyes.

“I can’t…” Wally replied, tears filling his eyes. “I can’t give up. I can’t do it.”

“I get that,” Jasper flicked his gaze from Wally to his Magnemite. “Finish this quickly my Pokemon.”

“Pikachu hold on,” Wally whispered, struggling to speak. The cave rumbled softly as the Magnemite began charging its final attack, volts of electricity surging through its steel frame. The cave rumbled again, more forcefully this time.

“What is that?” Jaspar asked, confused.

“I thought that was your Pokemon?” Wally replied, before a powerful rumble rocked the cave like an earthquake. Magnemite unleashed his attack, electricity surging through the air towards the stricken Pikachu, but the attack was halted by a falling rock. The cave had began collapsing in on itself.

Magnemite was struck by a falling boulder, the impact fracturing its metal shell and crushing the creature within. As Wally fumbled around for his Pikachu’s Pokeball, Jaspar fled the scene, sprinting from falling rocks as the cave shook and collapsed around them. Wally’s wristwatch vibrated, the buttons flashing green to show he was victorious in battle, his opponent having surrendered by leaving the battle zone. Wally withdrew his Pikachu into his Pokeball and began to run, but the rumbling had suddenly stopped.

Wally looked back down the cave and caught movement in the darkness. Three shapes emerged, shuffling towards him and he wanted to flee, but his legs had frozen in place. He had been halted by his own fear. The three shadowed figures took the form of humans as they grew ever closer, until Wally could get a clearer image. One stepped forward ahead of the others wearing a cloak of gold which shadowed his face. The two behind him wore cloaks of black, one featuring a blue trim and the other trimmed green. They stopped before him.

“We saved you, Wally Heiko,” the gold cloak spoke, his voice a hiss and gravely menacing.

“Who…What…” Wally stammered a reply.

“Servants,” the two in black spoke in unison.

“We are Servants,” the man in gold added. “But I have a name. I am Ethan. We have come to enlist the Rocket Resistance. We saved you and now you owe us.”

“Monster!” the first man screamed as he fled from the entrance to Viridian Forest, a huge iron gate which held back the overgrowth of trees behind it. The forest floor lay almost invisible beneath its shadowed canopy, the awaiting darkness dimly illuminated only by gas lanterns hoisted atop poles carving out an ominous pathway.

“Everyone run!” a woman followed, before Leaf grabbed her arm.

“What’s going on?” she asked, noting the look of terror in the woman’s eyes.

“A thing! A metal thing! A metal monster! In the forest.”

“A Pokemon? Big steel type Pokemon?” Leaf asked, puzzled.

“Not a Pokemon, not a Pokemon at all. Just a monster.”

Leaf released her grip on the lady, who sprinted towards the safety of Viridian City. She looked to her fully healed team as two more bug enthusiasts rushed passed. “What’s going on?” she questioned them, before deciding she would check out this ‘metal monster’ for herself. “I will take down the beast,” she declared to another young trainer who dashed by her. Her team roared in approval at the notion, they would enter the forest and destroy the terror within.