Chapter Two – Reunion

“Your father will be so proud when he sees you setting off on your own journey.” Erik’s mother spoke through a veil of tears, as Erik stood on the verge of Route 101. She grabbed him, giving him a hug farewell.

“I’ll be back before you know it,” Erik smiled. Leaving Littleroot town and his mother behind him. He entered Route 101 this time with Pokeballs and therefore the ability to catch the first Pokemon that springs out at him.

The long grass bristled at Erik’s knees as he slowly moved through the route, not wanting to be caught unaware by any wild Pokemon leaping out at him like Birch was the previous day.

“Erik!” a sudden high-pitched shout reached his ears, startling him.

His eyes darted up from the tall grass to find May.

“Come here, I want to show you something,” she exclaimed, as Erik made his way over. She grabbed Erik’s Pokedex and fiddled around with it. When she handed it back the screen was now showing a map of the Hoenn region.

“That’s the Pokenav feature,” she continued, “another cool feature of the Pokedex is If you see a Pokemon in the tall grass, the device will scan it and tell you what the Pokemon is!”

A sudden rustle in the grass near to them caught their attention, with a furry grey Pokemon tail poking out from the thicket. Immediately Erik pointed the Pokedex at it, which changed the screen in the middle from a map of the region to a picture of a grey hound with razor sharp fangs and deep red pupils. The Pokedex identified the Pokemon as a Poochyena.
“Come on, make that your first capture in Hoenn Erik. Sneak up on the Poochyena and capture it!” May said giving Erik a gentle shove forward, Blaze in close proximity.

The closely-knit pair began slowly edging towards the tail poking out of the tall grass, creeping ever closer as quietly as they could manage.

They reached a point where Erik felt he could extend his hand and grab the tail, but as he reached into his pocket for a Pokeball, the Poochyena jumped out baring fangs coated with cold ice.

Blaze reacted instantly, saving his trainer by quickly blasting the wild Pokemon away with a ball of fire. Erik followed up his Torchic’s actions by throwing a Pokeball at the Poochyena, successfully capturing the wild Pokemon.

“Wow!” May shouted, sounding surprised. “I’ve never been able to sneak up on a Pokemon like that before, and you managed it first time.”

“I couldn’t have done it without Blaze.” Erik replied before stroking his Torchic’s feathered head.

“I forgot you name your Pokemon, what are you going to call your Poochyena?”

“Ice,” Erik replied instantly, remembering the fear that filled him at seeing the Pokemon’s fangs encased with glistening cold.

“Suits him perfectly!” May exclaimed. “Well Erik I’m going back to my dad’s lab for now, I will see you soon, I hope,” she said with a smile that looked almost sad.

“Goodbye for now, May,” Erik’s smiled, his heart pounding.

Erik went back to the Route 103, where he had battled May the day before, looking to capture another Pokemon to add to his team.

As soon as he stepped foot onto the route he was suddenly set upon by a gull-like creature who swooped down on him. Immediately, he dived out of the way, realising the aggressor was a wild Wingull.

Blaze again leapt to his rescue, scratching at the creature with his claws. Erik knew what to do from last time, throwing a Pokeball and capturing the Wingull.

“I’m going to call you Gully,” Erik spoke to the red and white Pokeball in which his new Pokemon now lived.

A quick return to the Pokemon centre in Oldale town saw the nurse there tell him he only has one more use of the healing facilities this month, due to them being a small town on very limited finances.

Erik left Oldale with Blaze, Ice and Gully in tow, all fully patched up and healed, he entered Route 102. A flock of Wingulls flying overhead as he did so.

“Did you want to join them, Gully?” He spoke softly to his own new Wingull, who in turn hopped onto his shoulder and nipped at Erik’s hair.

“A captured Pokemon respects their new trainer as they managed to defeat and capture them in battle,” Norman’s old words rang in Erik’s ears.

As he rested by a pool of water, realising the truth in his father’s words, a red and white bug shot string directly at him, or so he thought.

“A Wurmple,” Erik said to himself, as he saw Gully getting entangled in the string the bug was shooting.

Ice charged at the Wurmple, knocking him into the lake.

Seeing the Pokemon drowning, Erik threw a Pokeball at it, capturing and adding another member to his team.

“Well obviously I’m going to call you String,” he laughed to his new friend as he released the bug from it’s Pokeball.

“Hey you!” a shout came at Erik from across the road, “I’m Calvin and I challenge you to a battle!”

Erik’s youthful rashness overcame him. Even though he couldn’t refuse a direct challenge from another trainer, he didn’t want to anyway. This would be his first official battle since obtaining his licence.

“I accept your challenge!” Erik exclaimed, noticing the trainer challenging him was a couple of years younger than him and must’ve only just passed his test. He also made note of Calvin only having one Pokeball attached his belt.

“Go Zigzagoon!” the youngster shouted, throwing the Pokeball, which released a brown and white striped cat-like creature.

In reply, Erik nodded to Ice. His Pokemon confidently plodding out to accept the challenge.

Ice charged in, enclosing icy fangs around the foe. The Zigzagoon tried to wriggle and squirm it’s way out of Ice’s grasp but failed to do so. Ice had won his first fight with relative ease.

“No, my career is over.” the boy said in a voice barely above a whisper, as he fell to his knees.

“That was my only Pokemon, and I don’t have any in my storage either. I have to retake my test and everything…”

“You challenged me,” Erik replied bluntly, before walking on without a further thought for Calvin.

“Hey you! I’m up next,” another boy the same age as Calvin said running up to Erik. Again the challenger had only one Pokeball on his person. “My names Rick, by the way.”

“Erik,” came the reply, before he turned to Ice, “again?”

Ice barked happily before again strutting out to meet the challenge. Rick sent out a Wurmple.

The fight was again over before it had barely started. Ice’s frozen fangs proved too much for the bug, ending another rookie trainer’s career..

“This is too easy,” Erik thought to himself, “Two battles, two wins, and barely a scratch on any of my Pokemon.”

Gully flew up to the tree and picked the berries off with his beak, flying back down then placing the small crimson food into Erik’s palm.

Erik pocketed most of the berries to make sure his Pokemon would have food later on, but allowed the four members of his team to share a couple between them. String especially enjoyed the small round foodstuff, named an Oran berry, seemingly smiling as he gulped it down.

“Ram into it!” came a cry from behind the group, moments before String was sent flying into the berry tree after being rammed by a Poochyena.

“I’m Allen and I will be your opponent,” came a voice from a trainer around Erik’s age, wearing a yellow jumper and blue shorts. “Again Poochyena!” he commanded his Pokemon to attack String again, who was struggling to stand.

As Allen’s Poochyena neared the kill, charging into the stunned Wurmple, it barred it’s fangs. Not encased with ice like Erik’s own Poochyena, but razor sharp all the same. A blast of water sent Allen’s Pokemon flying back, before the Poochyena chose to ram Gully next, the Wingull retaliating with another blast of water from it’s mouth.

Poochyena wasn’t finished. It again charged at Gully, but Erik’s Pokemon flew up high to avoid it and a final blast of foamy water erupted from Gully’s mouth to finish off Allen’s creature.

“I’m not finished yet!” Allen shouted, before throwing a Pokeball.

A Tailow emerged, the small blue and white bird able to match Gully’s flight. “Ram his Wingull into the tree!” Allen screamed, with his Tailow duly obliging. Gully was slammed into the tree trunk, pinned up against it by Tailow’s claws. Allen’s Pokemon began furiously pecking at Gully’s face.

Erik saw Gully struggling for life, peck after peck after peck from the opposing Tailow. It was all happening too fast for Erik to grab Gully’s Pokeball and recall him. Tailow stopped for a split second and Gully slouched down, Erik gulped.

Gully weakly lifted his head up to throw the Tailow off with a powerful blast of water, leaving Allen’s bird lifeless on the floor.

“I thought I could beat you,” Allen remarked solemnly

“Why did you use those underhanded tactics and ambush me whilst we were eating?” Erik snapped.

“Because Hoenn is the only region left allowing Pokemon trainers, and even then they plan to ban the use of Pokemon if the trainer doesn’t have a gym badge very soon. I have to get that badge quickly, through any means necessary.”

Erik walked on without saying anything more, Allen’s words reverberating around his brain, shocking him.

String recovered his energy by eating some more of his favourite Oran berries. The ambush by Allen had knocked the wind of of him, but he looked to be recovering. He was fit enough to battle Tiana at any rate.

The female trainer had approached Erik as he reached the end of the Route, “time for a battle!” she had declared to Erik, marching up to him with her creamy blonde hair swaying in the wind, wearing a deep blue overcoat which was so long it partially covered her slightly lighter blue skirt.

“So you wait at the end of the Route, to engage trainers whilst their Pokemon are tired and weak?” Erik had said

“Whatever works best,” she countered, before telling her Zigzagoon to attack. Erik nodded at String who crawled forward. “Tiana, by the way,” the trainer continued.

The two Pokemon cautiously circled one another, waiting for the other to make the first attack.

“You can do this String!” Erik called out to his Wurmple, who’s big black eyes lit up at his trainer’s encouragement.

String charged into Tiana’s Pokemon, before her Zigzagoon retaliated by slamming it’s body back into String. Erik’s Wurmple recoiled but kept going, slamming into the Zigzagoon with all his might, but it was no use. He had barely weakened his opponent with the two blows.

Tiana nodded at her Pokemon, who charged into String, sending him flying backwards. As String struggled to his feet, Erik recalled him and shouted at Ice to finish off the battle.

The Poochyena enclosed his icy fangs around Tiana’s Zigzagoon, defeating it easily, then proudly strutted back to Erik. Tiana was left clutching the body of her defeated creature, devastated.

“Erik, wait!” a high pitched voice, almost a squeal, came from behind him as he neared the end of Route 103, with Petalburg city in sight. He spun on his heel to find himself staring at two beautiful pools of green. Her eyes always seemed to stare straight into his soul.

“I saw you walking along,” May’s smile lighting up the darkening evening.

“H-Hi,” Erik stumbled over his words, dismayed at her beauty.

“Don’t be shy Erik,” May said, grabbing his hand. Erik’s heart fluttered at her touch, but before he could fully enjoy it, she dragged him to the side of the pathway. “Sit down here, the Beautifly fly past at this time of night.”

She pulled him down to the edge of the dirt track that connected Oldale to Petalburg city, on some freshly trimmed grass. They both looked up at the dimly lit sky together, waiting for the winged insects to fly by.

“How did you find Route 103, Erik?” she asked with her eyes fixed above.

“We didn’t run into much trouble, I didn’t even have to use Blaze!” He started, “You saw me catch Ice, remember? My Poochyena?” He asked but continued before she could answer,   “Well he is a force to be reckoned with, Gully fought well for me too. String on the other hand, is still getting to grips with battling other Pokemon, but he will come around.” Erik stroked his Wurmple on the head as he spoke. All four of his Pokemon sat next to him.

“I’m glad you’re getting along with your Pokemon, are you going to see your dad whilst you’re here?”

“No,” Erik replied, firmly.

“I think you should, he is your father after all.”

“I said no,” Erik’s reply was firm once again.

“Okay, I didn’t mean to cause any offence.”

“I’m sorry, my relationship with my dad is a touchy subject.” Erik smiled at her, getting a slight grin back in return.

They sat in silence for a while, staring up at the sky where the first stars were coming out. True to May’s word, a flock of Beautiflys flew past, graceful in their movements as they glided above the two.

“It’s getting late, I must be going,” May said as she stood up, “I hope I see you soon.” She smiled at him then walked away. Back to Littleroot town, Erik presumed.

Erik walked out onto the streets of Petalburg, the door to the Pokemon Centre sliding shut behind him.

The city was a lot larger than Oldale or Littleroot, there were houses dotted all over the city. The centre of Petalburg contained a Pokemon Centre, a Pokemart and a few houses. Linking the city with the next route, Route 104, was a concrete pathway. A large wooden house with purple tiled roof at the edge of the city, with Norman’s Gym next to that.

Erik’s gaze snapped to two men having just finished a battle on the concrete path, outside the Gym.

“You battled well,” Erik overhead the victorious trainer say to his defeated opponent, playing with the collar of his green jumper.

“I always lose to you, I’ve only just got my trainers licence too,” His opponent said in reply as he slouched off, seemingly on the verge of tears.

“Why if it isn’t my son,” the winner shouted over, as he spotted Erik, “it’s cold and dark out here, come inside my Gym, let’s have a chat.”

Erik followed his father into the Gym. It seemed to contain a single, very plain room, with wooden flooring and brick walls. The only noticeable items of furniture within the place were the pink cushions located in the centre, where Norman now sat.

“Sit,” Norman extended his hand to the nearest cushion, but Erik waved it away.

“I won’t stay long,” he replied.

“Fair enough, I’m surprised you managed to get here by yourself. Trying to become a trainer like your old man I see.” Norman’s tone, words and half smile made Erik feel as if he was being patronised, causing him to feel a surge of anger rise through his body. Before he realised his dad was just toying with him.

Erik was about to reply, until a boy of around sixteen entered the Gym. The trainer had spiked hair with a green hue and matching lime coloured eyes. He wore an aqua blue long coat with grey jeans, a bag strung around his shoulder. Erik recognised him as the trainer who lost in battle to his dad moments before.

“Ahh, hello,” Norman said calmly, before turning to Erik, “this is Wally, he lives in the house next door. He recently has obtained his Pokemon licence and I am letting him borrow some of my Pokemon so I can help him to improve as a trainer.”

“That’s nice, but what’s in it for you?” Erik’s tone was dark.

“So Wally, what can we do for you?” Norman said, ignoring Erik’s question.

“Err.. I .. err,” Wally started, nervous, even shaking a little, “as you know sir, I have severe asthma and heart problems, and the air around Petalburg is.. erm.. thick.” He paused to collect his thoughts before continuing, “I am moving in with my aunt and uncle in Verdanturf town, but it’s quite a long journey and I would be lonely by myself.. so, I was, erm, wondering if I could borrow one of your Pokemon for the journey sir?”

At this point Wally looked close to a nervous breakdown, Erik felt sorry for him. He was only around three years younger than Erik, but looked so weak and frail.

Norman smiled at Wally, before replying, “I cannot loan you one of my Pokemon if you are leaving the city I am afraid.” To which Wally looked visibly upset, but Norman wasn’t finished, “I have an idea though. Erik, could you go into Route 102 and help Wally to capture his very own Pokemon?”

Erik was taken aback by the suggestion, how dare his dad get him to do this, treating him like a slave. A glance at Wally softened his stance though, he felt pity for him, and wanted to help.

“Okay. But for Wally, not for you.”

The wild Ralts tried teleporting away, but a quick fireball from Blaze knocked the wind out of the psychic Pokemon. Once the Ralts hit the floor, Wally launched a Pokeball at it. The weakened Ralts was captured.

“Wow, my own Pokemon,” Wally said excitedly turning to Erik, “thank you so much mister.”

The pair returned to Petalburg Gym, where Norman was waiting for them, a smile emerging on his face when he saw the Pokeball attached to Wally’s belt, which contained the captured Ralts.

“Congratulations Wally, I hope Erik proved useful,” Erik felt his father’s comment was a snide remark aimed at him, causing his anger to increase even more, but he kept quiet.

“He really did, he’s a very good trainer!” Wally said excitedly, clearly looking forward to travelling with his new Pokemon. “I have to go, my mum is waiting, thanks again Norman and Erik.”

“Sweet kid,” Norman remarked as the green haired teenager ran from the building, “that boy will be worth keeping an eye on,” Norman spoke to himself more than to Erik, he then turned to his son. “Anyway, back to you Erik, what’s your plan?”

“To beat you.”

“Ahh the gym challenge then,” Norman once again brushed Erik’s comment off, nonplussed. “You’ll want to go to Rustboro gym first, they use rock Pokemon there. You’ll need to pass through Petalburg woods to get there though, a challenge for any trainer.”

“You’re telling me nothing I don’t already know,” Erik felt as if he was about to burst, “I Challenge you now, or are you afraid to lose to your son again?”

“I’m saving you the embarrassment son, your Pokemon are nowhere near being strong enough to face mine.”

“You’re a coward!” Erik roared, “I beat you before and could easily again!” His voice echoing around the room, but Norman just chuckled.

Erik stormed out, slamming the door behind him.

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