Pewter City

"You have an awesome family." Said Micah. "It's cool that everyone helps out."

Brock smiled and reached out a hand to open the large wooden gym doors. "Yep, I do love my family. It's why I decided to take a job here in Pewter. Now," said Brock, a glint appearing in his eyes, "it's time to battle. Forrest will be the referee. This will be a three on three battle; you can exchange Pokémon at anytime, but I cannot. You ready?"

"Ah," muttered Micah, "one problem. I only have two Pokémon?"

Brock raised an eyebrow. "Really? Well then I guess this will be a two on two battle, that work?"

"Yep." Micah walked over to the starting box, taking in his surroundings with an intense vigor. Boulders riddled the gym floor, and stood to such tall heights they almost clipped the ceiling. A metal catwalk hung suspended on the right side of the battlefield. As Micah looked, all of Brocks siblings came running down the catwalk, their steps reverberating loudly in the wide gym.

"Your move!" called Brock from the other side of the gym.

Micah swallowed. This was his moment. This was it. He looked up at Brock and a big smile spread across his face; he couldn't imagine being anywhere else. He reached in his pocket and pulled out his pokeball. "Go Nidoran!"

Brock smiled, a smile that could only be so bright because of a love for Pokémon, and a love for battling. He took out his pokeball and called, "Geodude, go!"

Micah eyed the Geodude skeptically. It wasn't that he expected an amazing Pokémon, but a Geodude? Couldn't a gym leader find a better Pokémon? Oh well, he thought, it's not my problem. "Nidoran, use poison sting."

Nidoran's purple darts shot through the air, rippling with acid. They hit Geodude right in the face, but did not even force the Pokémon to flinch. Micah stared at his adversary, wondering how he managed to absorb the attack with such ease. Fine he thought, let's try a physical attack. "Nidoran, use horn attack!"

Nidoran clicked its tiny heels and barreled towards its target. Still, Geodude made no attempt to dodge as Brock called out, "Geodude, use defense curl!"

Nidoran's horn met Geodude's wrapped arms with a bang, but Geodude remained resolute as Nidoran fell back on its haunches. "Now's our chance Geodude. Pick him up and slam him into the ground!"

Geodude grabbed the little Nidoran by the foot, hoisted him in the air, and slammed him into the ground. Micah watched as the dust from the fall cleared, and Nidoran was left on the ground.

"Nidoran is unable to battle. Geodude is the winner." Proclaimed Forrest.

"Come on Micah," called Brock, "you're better than that. Let's see what you've got with your next Pokémon!"

Micah called back and thanked Nidoran, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a pokeball. "Okay," he muttered to himself, "we may have lost the first battle, but this is our first battle together." Micah sighed, "Let's show them what grass types are made of Bulbasaur."

Micah released Bulbasaur from his pokeball, and prepared to call an attack, but he realized something important at the last moment. "Crap," he whispered, "None of Bulbasaur's four attacks are grass type moves. I have no idea if he can do any other moves, especially since he was bred by Professor Oak." He looked and stared at Brock, "I guess it's up to pure strategy now."

"Bulbasaur use power whip!" Bulbasaur's vine's shot out but Brock just smiled and called, "Geodude, grab them both!"

Before either vine could connect with Bulbasaur, Geodude had both in a stranglehold, but Micah saw that coming. "Reel him in Bulbasaur, and hold on tight!"

For once Micah had caught Brock off guard. "Geodude, break free, you can do it!" But Geodude's attempts were futile. Bulbasaur continued to pull in the rock type and Micah said, "Good, now use sleep powder."

White powder fell from the air onto Geodude as he was forced slowly in a deep sleep. Micah smiled. "Awesome Bulbasaur, now use swords dance!" Bulbasaur's feet stamped against the ground as the rock around him began to crack. "Now finish him up with Earthquake!"

Brock could only watch, as Bulbasaur ripped the ground apart, throwing Geodude through the air to hit the catwalk above the gym. The Pokémon fell down to ground with a dull thud.

Forrest smiled, despite his brother's loss. "Geodude is unable to battle. Bulbasaur wins!"

Micah couldn't help himself, as he let lose a scream of joy. He couldn't believe it was his first win. Finally. After weeks, he had beaten a Pokémon commanded by a trainer. Brock laughed at his joy. "Congratulations Micah, but I still have one Pokémon left."

Brock called back Geodude, and threw out another pokeball, releasing a stout rock type—Rhyhorn. Okay, thought Micah, one more rock/ground type left to beat and I get my first gym badge.

"You've proven yourself a worthy trainer, Micah. But how will you do against my Rhyhorn, which has much more offensive power."

Micah swallowed and yelled, "Bulbasaur, start this off with earthquake." Once again the ground shook, and was torn up, but Brock's Rhyhorn managed to dodge the worst of it. "My turn," he whispered, "Rhyhorn, use blizzard!"

Snow ripped across the battlefield, causing Brock's siblings to flee further down the catwalk, but the brunt of the blizzard swirled towards Bulbasaur. Micah stared on in horror, unsure of what to do. There was nowhere to run. Within seconds the white barrage had ended but Micah knew it was over. There was no way Bulbasaur could withstand such a powerful attack, especially since there was a type advantage.

And he was right. As the snow cleared Bulbasaur lay half frozen against the ground.

"Bulbasaur is unable to battle. Rhyhorn and gym leader Brock win."

Brock's siblings cheered, but Micah had already begun to drown out all the noise as he ran to Bulbasaur's side. He had failed him once again, when it mattered most. Bulbasaur shivered as Micah lifted him off the frozen ground, but he seemed okay enough, so Micah returned him to his pokeball and thanked him for battling so hard.

Micah wanted to cry. He was already years behind, and the Master's Tourney was coming so soon. Yet at this rate he wouldn't even be able to qualify for the Indigo League.

"You did well." Said a voice next to him. It was Brock, of course. He grabbed Micah by the arm and lifted him up. "We all lose battles Micah, it's just a question if we lose ourselves along the way. Go on and train for a few weeks, then come back here and battle me again. You're strategy against my Bulbasaur was quite bold." Brock smiled, "You remind me of Ash, except you could use some of his confidence." Brock patted him on the shoulder. "I'll be ready when you come again, okay?"

Micah nodded. "Thanks, Brock, I'll do my best to get better and beat you."

Brock smiled again. "Good, in the meantime I have to go clean, as my siblings all decided to come watch instead of help out."

Micah followed Brock as they left the gym, as his siblings filed out across the catwalk. Just as he was about to close the doors, he turned and said to himself, "Where's Forrest now?"

He shrugged, locked the door, and turned back around to see Micah standing with Forrest and a girl. "My name is Sera. I would like to challenge you to a battle."

Brock looked from Micah—who seemed as taken aback as he—and Forrest who was leaning awkwardly from left to right. "I…I can't tonight," he said, still confused as to where the girl came from, "I just used my Pokémon against Micah here, and they need to rest."

Sera smiled, her bright eyes lighting up the boys' faces. "Yes, I know. I saw." When Brock remained confused she sighed and said, "I watched from the open door."

Brock nodded, "Well, I'm sorry, but if you're free tomorrow I'd be happy to battle you."

Sera sighed, her fair hair falling over her shoulders. "I'm not. Well, I am free, but I'd be happier battling you tonight." She pointed at Forrest, "You're brother here, says you have many more Pokémon. Don't tell me Geodude and Rhyhorn are your best, I know very well that gym leaders are supposed to test, not win for the sake of winning. But this time I want you to use everything you've got. I want your three best Pokémon, against my three best Pokémon." Sera smiled at Brock's dumbfounded face, and skipped past him, back into the gym, leaving the boy's behind her. She turned the last moment and hollered back, "My name's Sera by the way."

"What was that?" Asked Brock.

"You're next opponent." Replied Forrest who was already following swiftly behind Sera.

"Is it me," said Brock, "or did she just appear out of nowhere?"

Micah shrugged. "I don't know. She kinda just disappears and reappears. Anyhow, I've wanted to battle her for sometime, and she wouldn't placate me. Sooo, it would be nice if you accepted her battle. I'm curious what kind of Pokémon she has."

Brock was clearly still lost. He shook his head, and said, "So, you know her? I…well, I guess I'll accept the battle." He headed into the gym, and turned around waving in Micah. "Come on Micah, let's see if this girl is as good as she acts." At the last moment he stopped and turned, "On second thought you head in, I'll be there in a moment."

"Okay," called Brock, "Welcome to the Pewter City gym. As per your request, Sera, I will use my three best Pokémon. I will hold nothing back. My brother Forrest will be the referee." Brock pulled out a pokeball, and said, "Oh, should we both be able to switch Pokémon, or just you?"

Sera looked at Brock, cocked her head and said, "Neither."

Brock shook his head, but smiled, "Okay, you can make first move."

Sera smiled, "Gladly. But first," she reached in her pocket, and pulled out large pink head phones, put them on, then pulled out a pokeball. "Let's go Milotic."

Brock laughed, "Looks like this is going to be a water-type battle. Ludicolo, I choose you!"

Brock's siblings had stayed inside to actually help clean this time so Micah watched from the catwalk himself. He had always thought Sera had some strong Pokémon, but he could never guess what they were, other than the Slowbro, which seemed kinda normal. He scratched his head at the new Pokémon that were now about to battle. Brock's looked like an overgrown pineapple and Sera's looked like a majestic snake-thing. Micah found her Pokémon somehow fitting. He pulled out his pokedex and aimed it at Sera's Pokémon, and it said, 'Milotic is said to be the most beautiful of all the Pokémon. It has the power to becalm such emotions as anger and hostility to quell bitter feuding.' Definitely fitting for Sera he thought.

Next he aimed the pokedex at Brock's Pokémon and it said, 'Ludicolo begins dancing as soon as it hears cheerful, festive music. This Pokémon is said to appear when it hears the singing of children on hiking outings.' Micah laughed to himself, thinking of Brock dancing at music festivals. But as odd as the Pokémon looked, Micah couldn't shake the feeling that it was powerful, and he worried a little bit for Sera. Could she really beat a gym leader who was using his most powerful Pokémon?

"Milotic—Dragon Pulse."

Sera knew she was at a slight disadvantage by typing, and she was afraid of Brock's move she knew was coming, so she hoped to end the battle as fast as possible. Milotic reared back its head and shot a bluish jet of energy at Ludicolo, but the Pokémon dodged it just in time.

"Nice one," called out Brock, "Now use rain dance."

Sera knew it was coming, but it still sucked. She readjusted her headphones and watched as Ludicolo began to sway back and forth, summoning rain from nowhere.

"Never mind that Milotic. Counter with toxic!" yelled Sera.

Once again Milotic reared back its neck, but this time it shot a poisonous purple gas at Ludicolo who was unable to dodge. Sera wiped her brow, knowing she was lucky to hit Ludicolo with the rain pouring down. Ludicolo doubled over in pain, but still stood strong enough.

"Hang in there Ludicolo. Use giga drain."

Ludicolo sent out streams of green light that latched onto Milotic and pulled out its energy, forcing it to shudder. The green light returned back to Ludicolo and gave it a brief reprieve from the onslaught of poison.

Even after the direct hit Sera knew she had a chance, but she would have to make it count. "Get in close Milotic and use hail."

The rain ceased and large hailstones began to plummet from the ceiling. Sera was willing to accept the damage it would do to her own Pokémon, knowing it would also help to shield Milotic and stop the rain.

Brock had trouble seeing across from the other side of the gym, but he could still see Ludicolo's back. "Okay Ludicolo," he whispered, "Milotic must be close by hiding in the hail. As soon as you see it, use grass knot and do your best to tie it down."

Sera waited for an attack from Brock, but it did not come, and that worried her. Still, she thought, there's no turning back now. "Now, Milotic use twister."

'Miilootic.' Is all Micah could hear, but he could still see most of the battle thanks to his birds eye view. Sera's Pokémon sent out a gust of wind that twisted, and pulled in the surrounding hail, forming a tornado ringed with ice. Micah looked on as Ludicolo countered by creating a knot of grass that tied down Milotic. As the twister hit its target, Milotic lay stuck under the thick strand of grass, struggling to break free.

Sera waited. While this wasn't her plan, it could work nonetheless. "Wait," she whispered knowing full well Milotic couldn't hear her, "wait until Ludicolo gets in close."

Across the gym Ludicolo fell down from the twister but managed to gain control in the end, standing up and shaking off the attack. "Good," yelled Brock, "now use solar beam while Milotic is down, and make sure you don't miss. We can't afford the after effects of the attack, Ludicolo."

Ludicolo heeded its masters warning and got in closer to Milotic so that there was no chance of missing the target. Energy began to build between Ludicolo's raised hands as it started the attack, but it shuddered once again from the remnants of the toxic. Sera smiled, "Milotic, use hypnosis."

Rings of light shot from Milotic's mouth and struck Ludicolo forcing the Pokémon to fall asleep and stop its attack. "Now finish this battle up with another dragon pulse."

The battlefield lit up with blue energy, leaving Ludicolo laying flat on the ground.

"Ludicolo is unable to battle. Milotic wins."

Sera laughed as the hail subsided, and the grass knot holding down her Pokémon disappeared.

"That was impressive," admitted Brock, "but I still have two more to go." He returned Ludicolo with thanks and took out his next pokeball. "Let's see what you do against speed, Sera, pure speed. Crobat, I choose you."

"Ugh," muttered Micah to himself, "another Pokémon I don't know. How many bat types can there possibly be?"

He unclipped his pokedex and held it to Brock's new Pokémon. 'Crobat sneaks up on its intended prey using wings that barely make a sound. This Pokémon rests by hanging on a tree branch with its rear legs that serve as wings.'

He scratched his head. What odd Pokémon for a rock-type gym leader.

First we need to slow it down, thought Sera. "Milotic, use Hail again."

Hailstones fell once again and slammed down on Milotic, but Sera watched on in wonder as Crobat dodged the stones with relative ease.

"I told you Crobat was fast, Sera. Use cross poison."

Sera could only see a purple blur as Crobat flew from left to right. Next thing she knew, her Pokémon was hit by an attack, and lay on the ground, while Crobat was back high in the air, dodging the hailstones again.

"Milotic is unable to battle. Crobat wins."

Sera called back Milotic and thanked her for good battling. She knew Milotic did not have much left after the second hail. She was indeed surprised by Crobat's speed, but she also knew the Pokémon would tire eventually.

"Dragonair—let's go."

Micah hit his head on the rafter when he jumped up in surprise. You've got to be kidding, he thought. He guessed Milotic was Sera's best Pokémon, but here was a Dragonair, a Pokémon a step away from a Dragonite which was basically a legendary.

Down below Brock seemed surprised too, but he only let it show with a smile. "You really are very mysterious, Sera."

Sera nodded, but did not reply—Brock already had her full attention with this battle. She closed her eyes and took in the music from her headphones, which calmed her down. When she first started battling, she would get so flustered that she would yell and scream and walk away, but she found music calmed her down. She sighed, "Let's show them power Dragonair—use blizzard."

Micah ducked as soon as he heard that filthy word. Snow swirled around Sera's dragon type and with a magnificent cry it sent a barrage towards Crobat who was hit with ease. The Pokémon twirled down to the ground, but managed to remain in flight. "Wow," said Micah aloud to no one in particular, "Dragonair is powerful, but how can a flying type that small withstand an ice attack?"

"Alright Crobat," yelled Brock, "we may as use whatever you have left—brave bird."

Crobat fluttered to the ceiling then darted towards Dragonair; red fire, then blue energy warping around its body from the torrential speed.

Dragonair tried to dodge, but the speed was too much and was hit by the full force of the attack. The Pokémon shuddered but stood resolute.

Sera raised an eyebrow. "That was most impressive, Brock, but I'm afraid that is all Crobat has left. "Dragonair, finish this with twister!"

Once again a twister tore through the air, pulling in the hail like an ice-cyclone. It crashed into Crobat with such force that the Pokémon was sent flying into the far wall of the gym. Brock ran over and picked his Pokémon up, and shook his head in amazement at his opponent. Brock was confident in his capabilities, but this girl Sera was amazing: so young, and determined. He thought Micah reminded him of Ash in some ways, and he did, but Sera was like Ash too in ways of her own. He returned Crobat and turned around to the battlefield, which was still swirling with the remnants of hail.

"Crobat is unable to battle. Dragonair wins"

Brock reached for his next Pokémon. "Blissey, I choose you."

Sera had never planned on Brock getting this far—he was definitely a formidable opponent. Although she knew she would not lose because of her final Pokémon, she also did not want to test that belief. Then again, battling Blissey was like fighting a brick wall, and she was going to have to summon every last bit of Dragonair's power to take it down.

"Dragonair—dragon rush."

A filament of energy surrounded Dragonair as it flew through the air towards Blissey like an organic torpedo. But just before it hit, Brock called out a command, "Blissey, use wish."

Micah watched as Dragonair hit Blissey without the faintest defense. What was wish, he wondered?

Apparently Sera knew. "Clever," she said, "defense without defending."

Micah still did not understand but he watched as a faint star appeared above Blissey and sprinkled yellow dust on the Pokémon's head. Within seconds Blissey appeared stronger and then Micah realized it was a healing move. While Dragonair took the final blows from the last bit of hail, Blissey looked refreshed and ready to battle. Once again he was amazed by the amount of strategy that went into a Pokémon battle. His parents had always made him believe it was just luck, and a vicious assault from two creatures. But they clearly were wrong.

"We still have more offense than your Blissey ever will." Sera raised a finger and pointed, "Dragonair—thunder wave."

Brock actually laughed as his Pokémon was paralyzed by a jolt of electricity. "Ironic," he mused, "that Dragonair has such powerful moves, yet you use a status move. Ironic, but smart."

Blissey shook with a fit, but Brock was not ready to give up. "Blissey use egg bomb."

Blissey had to fight through the shock, but it managed to throw a gigantic egg at Dragonair who was too surprised too dodge. The egg exploded and sent Dragonair flying back towards the other side of the gym. Dragonair righted itself, but Blissey continued to shake from the thunder wave.

"Dragonair—fire blast."

A five-pointed flame shot out of Dragonair's maw and galloped towards Blissey. Unable to move, the Pokémon took the attack head on. Sera watched as Blissey fell, but amazingly it managed to stand back up. A red flame spouted from Blissey's side and caused the Pokémon to double over in pain. But the normal-type managed to stand again, no longer paralyzed from the thunder wave.

"Well," said Brock, "it seems the burn cancelled the paralyze. Blissey, use aromatherapy."

Blissey lit up a bright shade of green and once again appeared completely healed.

"My Blissey won't go down easy, Sera."

Sera gnashed her teeth and muttered, "But it will go down."

Brock understood this was his last chance to attack, knowing full well what may come next.

Simultaneously both trainers yelled. "Dragonair—draco meteor" and "Blissey, use last resort"

Micah watched with awe as Dragonair lit up blue and released a fountain of yellow energy that soared and hit the gym floor like bombs. But at the same time Blissey crashed into Dragonair, stars wrapped around its pink body and there was a massive explosion of energy, causing the whole arena to shake.

When the smoke cleared both Pokémon lay motionless on the ground.

"Blissey and Dragonair are unable to battle. Victory goes to Sera."

Micah jumped and coughed from his sudden exhales of excitement. He knew in the past few days he had witnessed some of the most powerfully trained Pokémon in the world. Ash, Misty, Brock, and Sera were amazing. Sera who had travelled with him for weeks, a girl who he had known for years, was stronger than a gym leader with his best Pokémon.

He ran down the stairs from the catwalk and met Sera, and Brock who were shaking hands. Sera took off her headphones and turned to Micah smiling: he nearly fell over from her innate beauty. "Was I impressive Micah?"

"You were always im—I…I mean, yes." Replied Micah, his face now flushed red.

"That was a great battle Sera, and while I owe you this gym badge," Brock reached in his pocket and pulled out an octagonal silver badge, "I have a proposition."

Sera cocked her head. "Listen Brock, I'm here because I have to be here to enter the Master's Tourney."

"I don't follow," said Brock.

Sera sighed, "Don't you though? You are a great gym leader, but I've done this already in Hoenn. Sure, I could get more Pokémon and train them up from youth, but I don't have the time, and I already have the Pokémon I love." Sera smiled at the boy's confused looks. "I already competed in the Ever Grande Conference. And while I did not place high, I could still take a lower Standard seed in Hoenn and qualify for the Master's Tourney. However, I was born in Kanto, and I therefore have to qualify through the Indigo Plateau. Without receiving all 8 badges from Kanto I'd qualify as a Novice and then I'd have to battle the Elite Four right away—not something I relish. And don't get me wrong Brock, that was indeed a great battle, but I want something different then gym battles, something," she sighed, "I don't know new."

Micah was completely lost, but Brock laughed. "But my proposition will fix that, I promise." Brock turned and waved over to the far corner of the gym where a man in an ugly blue shirt and unnecessary sunglasses was standing. Both Sera and Micah jumped from the sudden random appearance but Brock looked completely content. Then the man walked over and stuck out his hand to Sera. "Hello there, I'm Scott and I'm an agent."

Sera shook his hand timidly. "Um…hi."

Scott laughed, "Brock called me before he battled you, and I've been watching from the corner." With Sera's disgusted look, he quickly added, "I didn't want to worry you at all about a new battle prospect. You see Brock knew there was something about you, so he called me up and asked me to drop by. Luckily, I was nearby and was able to make it, because it was worth coming." Sera looked at Brock who smiled. "I created the Battle Frontier so the best Pokémon trainers in the world could meet and battle. The Frontier is made up of seven different battle facilities spread out through Kanto. Each of the seven sites has its own Frontier Brain, which is sort of like a gym leader but very powerful. Challengers' then battle to earn each Frontier Site's symbol. You'll be given the location of six of the seven sites, but only if you beat all six will you be allowed to battle the seventh and final Frontier Brain."

"I…I don't know," said Sera, "I've never even heard of the Battle Frontier."

Scott smiled, "Don't worry about that. I made it that way, you know. I look for the best trainers, because I want the best battles. You are the best trainer I've seen since…well, a long time. Look, Sera, Brock can vouch for me. I am serious about this offer."

"He's right, Sera. It's a great chance, however, it's a big risk. Like you said before, without the eight badges of Kanto you'd qualify as a Novice trainer. Clearly you are not a novice trainer, but the bureaucracy of the matter is another topic. If you do not defeat all seven you will still qualify as a novice. However, if you do manage to defeat all the Frontier Brains—and that will not at all be easy—you will then qualify as a Master, making you the same level as the Elite Four and Champions."

Sera's eyes shot open at the mention of qualifying as a Master. "So, if I beat all seven I qualify as a Master…but if I don't, I'm right back at square one."

"Correct," said Scott, "I've been trying to prove to the Tourney Board that beating six of the Brains should at least qualify as Elite level, but it's not going well." Scott sighed and looked at Sera in the eyes, "Let me make this plain Sera, beating the first six Brains is hard enough, but beating the seventh has only been done a handful of times—literally."

"Oh come on, less than five times?" snorted Micah.

Scott nodded

"Well who the heck beat the seventh Brain—champion's only?" asked Micah, feeling completely flustered.

Scott sighed, "Listen, the seventh Brain has lost four times, and two of those loses have come to teenagers—both of whom I expect to see at the Master's Tourney representing their respective regions."

"I don't know," muttered Sera, "it's so risky. It's certainly got a high reward, but still…"

"I saw him lose you know," said Brock.

Micah's eye's opened wide with understanding. "Ash."

"What?" asked Sera, who now looked alarmed. "Do you mean Ash Ketchum? The boy with the Pikachu?"

Micah nodded slowly, unsure of the sudden venom in Sera's voice. "Ugh…do you know him?"

Sera ignored Micah, and instead turned to Scott. "I'm in."