For Tyler, the world around him seemed to be shunting him out of the picture. Growing up in Pallet Town hadn't given him many opportunities to begin with, the small coastal town having a relatively small population for starters. The only real place to get work in such a town was with Professor Oak studying Pokemon, however that was a dream he had given up a long time ago.
When he had first come of age to receive his first Pokemon, he had rushed to the laboratory with hope in his eyes, only to find that the professor had already given out all the Pokemon available to Tyler's peers. While he could have screamed and shouted how unfair it was, Tyler remained silent on the topic and simply made his way home. Seven years later and the thought of ever being a Pokemon trainer had never really surfaced again. Choosing to continue his studies, Tyler had done the best he could and tried to be a solid, all-rounded student. While his physical education scores were well above average, the rest of his grades weren't so.
After graduating high school, he had made attempts to get into several different universities in the Kanto region, but he always fell short. Once more the world seemed to not want him in it. It didn't help that Tyler's parents seemingly had given up on him as well; the fact that they were out of town with his younger sister on an excursion to some of the most exclusive high schools may not have been a complete giveaway, but it did dishearten the teen. They were due to come back later this evening, and Tyler couldn't be less excited to hear about what a great time they had had without him.
Leaning back in his chair, Tyler looked out the window at the forest that encompassed the small town. Overhead he could see a swarm of Pidgeys flying off in the distance, looking for whatever food they could get their beaks into. With a sigh, Tyler turned his attention back to the books in front of him. He had six months before the next lot of potential graduates would be accepted at the Saffron City university, and while he knew that he couldn't get motivated to study, the words in front of him seemingly melding into one another.
A tired groan escaped his mouth as he tugged at his hair, his face falling gently onto the pages in front of him. At this rate he imagined that the only thing the future held for him was a part time position working in the Pokemart in Viridian City. What a great life that would be, selling over-priced potions to young teens whose Rattata got injured falling off a small ledge. What a life.
Pushing himself away from the desk, Tyler made his way to the kitchen. Or at least he was making his way to the kitchen until he heard a small whimpering outside the front door. Pausing in his step, Tyler looked at the wooden plank that separated the outside world from where he was as he listened intently. Barely a handful of seconds had passed before he heard the whimpering once more.
Running his fingers through his hair, Tyler walked towards the door and opened it, half expecting some kid to be pulling a prank on him. Finding an injured Sandshrew on his doorstep easily wasn't something that he had been expecting.
"Umm... hey there little fella," said Tyler a little uncertainly as he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly.
"Shrew shrew," the Pokemon replied. Even though Tyler couldn't really understand what it was saying, judging by the damage done to the hide on the Sandshrew's shell, alongside the timidness in its voice, it seemed to be injured pretty badly.
"Umm..." started Tyler, but he really had no idea what to do. While he'd like to treat the Pokemon, he really didn't have any equipment to do anything. Coming to a decision, he knelt down next to the Sandshrew. "Come here little guy, I'm going to take you somewhere to get you fixed up."
"Sandshrew?" questioned the Pokemon as Tyler's hands gently grasped at its sides. Tyler half expected the Pokemon to start tearing at his wrists, but strangely the Pokemon was relatively docile, whether it was due to it liking him or exhaustion he wasn't sure. Lifting it off the ground, Tyler cradled the Sandshrew in his arms and carried the Pokemon towards Professor Oak's laboratory. Hopefully, the professor would be able to help in some way.
"Strange that you found such a timid Pokemon this far away from where they're usually found," said Professor Oak as the scientist placed a small bowl of food down in front of the Sandshrew, who after giving it a cautious sniff quickly decided that the food was trustworthy enough to devour.
"By the marks on it's back I figured it got into a rather nasty fight with something, maybe over territory or something like that but I'm not sure," said Tyler as he gave the Sandshrew a light scratch behind the ear.
"Well we can't be too certain, but I can tell that it likes you," said Oak with a kind smile.
"What makes you say that?" asked Tyler.
"I doubt a wild Sandshrew like this one would just let anybody get so close to it," stated Oak. "You may have just made a good friend."
"So what, are you saying I should keep it?" questioned Tyler. "Somehow I don't think my parents would be very impressed when they come home to find a handful of burrows in the living room."
"Then embark on a Pokemon adventure," Oak suggested. "It's never too late, you know."
"Shrew?" questioned the Pokemon as it raised its head, almost as if it were trying to figure out what was going on.
"I haven't thought about that for a long time," admitted Tyler as he stopped scratching the Sandshrew's ear.
"Consider it a gap year then. If you don't enjoy it after 12 months you can retry applying for further education afterwards - there's nothing wrong with that," said Oak.
"A gap year..." repeated Tyler as he looked at the Sandshrew, which looked back up at him with a positive demeanour after having eaten and being treated by Oak.
"It's your choice," said Oak as he rummaged through a nearby drawer before pulling out a box full of empty Pokeballs and a Pokedex. "These Pokeballs should be enough to get you started and this Pokedex should give you enough information to start your journey."
"I haven't even said that I'm going yet," declared Tyler.
"You haven't said that you're not either," rebutted Oak with a witty smile.
"Honey, we're home."
"Tyler, you here son?"
"Tyler, you missed out on like the best day ever."
"Maybe he's gone out to get groceries."
"Oh look, he left a note for us. He's probably just off playing with a friend next door."
"Well what does it say?"
"Gone travelling, talk soon. Love Ty."
"Is that all it says?"
"...Well, I'll be."
By the time Tyler's mother calmed down, her son was already halfway on his way towards Viridian City with a backpack slung over his shoulder and his Sandshrew in tow.
"Use Low Kick!" yelled Drake as he pointed a finger towards the growling Raticate. "You can take it. It's not even that big."
"Man-Mankey," chanted Mankey as it leapt into the air, its right foot glowing with white energy. With a loud cry, the Pokemon brought its foot down upon the slightly larger creature and knocked it back a few inches.
However, the monkey-like Pokemon's celebrations were short lived as the Raticate snarled with anger. Running forward on its hind legs, the normal-type lunged forward quickly as it left a silver streak in its wake. Making contact with Drake's Mankey, the overgrown rat sent it flying backwards as the fighting-type crumpled to the ground.
With a sigh, Drake fished around in his pocket for a Pokeball before raising it up into the air. "Return, Mankey," he said cooly as the Pokemon dispersed into red light and returned to the ball.
The Raticate, however, wasn't so willing to return to a restful state and stared intensely at Drake. Cursing, he glared back it just as venomously before stumbling backwards slightly and making a run for it. The rather strong Pokemon didn't give chase though; it merely growled at him before scuttling back into the bushes.
Taking that as his queue to get out of there quickly before any other Pokemon decided to come and mess with him, he increased his pace as he looked towards the ground, so as to not make eye-contact with anything. Nightfall was steadily approaching and he was not in a safe area.
Drake wasn't worried about getting mugged or anything of the sort since he could hold his own fairly well. Rather, it was the inhabitants of the grassy area that worried him. If strong Raticate weren't bad enough, the brown-haired boy had had the pleasure of running across a lone Arbok the other night. Wiping a trickle of sweat away, he breathed out in relief when Nugget Bridge came into sight. Though the bridge itself didn't provide much safety against wild Pokemon, it meant that the well-lit streets of Cerulean were, at most, five hundred metres away.
Allowing himself to drop from a sprint to a brisk walk, Drake continued along the eerily empty wooden bridge. Slowing down as he reached the end of it, he attempted to catch his breath. With an exasperated sigh of relief, he looked backwards cautiously to make sure that he wasn't being followed before turning to face the city before him.
It wasn't as well lit as he had thought, Drake realised. He needed to find shelter or at least some place to crash quick, but he wasn't sure where to start. If he wasn't mistaken some Pokemon Centres allowed trainers like him - who only had a few gym badges - to stay the night free of charge, but the problem was that the brown-haired boy could not make out the distinctive red roof of one in the night. The lighting was decent; he could see the pavement in front of him, but anything off in the distance was shrouded in dark haze that his eyes could not penetrate.
Shivering slightly as a cold wind blew by, Drake gripped Mankey's Pokeball tightly. The Raticate that they had faced had really done a number on him, and the teenager was sure that some medical assistance would likely help him out. Breathing out a frosty breath, he stared at the quiet city before dropping to the ground. It wasn't optimal, but it would have to do for the night.
"You look lost."
Drake immediately snapped his head towards the source of the voice, but fortunately he didn't need the lights to make out the cherry-pink strands of hair. "N-Nurse Joy?"
"The one and only," she grinned. "That is if you ignore my few hundred cousins."
"Shouldn't be you be at the Pokemon C-Centre?" he shuddered, wishing that he'd had the foresight to bring along a jacket.
"No silly, I'm just checking up on my younger sister," she explained. "I'm normally Viridian's Nurse Joy, but I'm on break for now."
"How did you find me?" he asked, grateful that he'd managed to find another human. It was very possible that with the exhaustion he was feeling that he could have passed out on the sidewalk.
"Ask questions later, for now let's get you under a roof and a cup of hot chocolate in your hands."
"There you go," said Cerulean City's Nurse Joy as she handed a Pokeball to Drake. "He just needed a little rest."
"Thanks," he said as he took a few sips of his warm drink. The two nursing sisters had draped a blanket across his back. "He's been working pretty hard lately, but we've just not had much luck."
"With what?" the one from Viridian asked. "You look as though you've not gotten much sleep over the past few days."
"I don't sleep much," he answered nonchalantly.
"Nonsense," scoffed the younger nurse. "A growing boy like yourself needs as much sleep as he can get."
"She's right, you know," her older sister said with a smile.
"I guess, but anyway, we've been trying to train a bit," said Drake.
"Train a bit?" repeated the nurse that had found him before realisation dawned upon her. "Ah, you must be taking the Pokemon League Challenge."
"Yeah," he said sourly. "Although I've not been having much luck with it."
"Nobody's perfect when they first start off. Say, have you perhaps considered challenging Misty? She gives good pointers to beginners from what I've heard," suggested Cerulean's nurse.
"Five times..." he muttered dejectedly. "She beat me each time without even trying."
"Ouch," giggled Cerulean's nurse, before smiling apologetically. "You know, battling isn't for everyone and that there are plenty of different things you can do with Pokemon?"
"I know," Drake refrained from spitting so as to not appear mannerless. "But it's got to be this way for me."
"Fair enough," said the Viridian nurse. She'd heard enough back stories to recognise a touchy subject when she came across one. "Have you considered going to Pokemon School or something?"
"I don't think Grandma has enough money to do that, and besides, they seem like a waste of time," answered Drake. "Why would I waste money stuck in a classroom while I can be out and about in the world learning hands on?"
"No offence, but you don't seem to know the first thing about battling Pokemon," said the other nurse. "Have you even heard of type advantages?"
"Or status effects?" the older one chipped in before Drake shook his head. "See, a Pokemon School could help you with things like that."
"I sorta know what they are and I know a couple of them. Who cares anyway? Mankey will be unstoppable with or without some lousy stuff in a book." Drake grinned as he brushed off the nurses' words.
"Hmm, you certainly seem to be the confident type," commented the local nurse. "Well, I suppose there is one thing you can do."
"And what's that?" asked the brown-haired teenager. "There no way in hell I'm going to school."
"No, no, nothing like that," Cerulean's nurse held up her hands in defence before her eyes narrowed as Drake looked on with an interested look etched upon his face. "Go to Pewter City. There, your Mankey will have a type-advantage since the gym is a rock-type one and Brock is notorious for taking it easy on beginners."
"Are type-advantages really that big a deal though? A Raticate just knocked out Mankey like he was nothing a while ago!" complained Drake, not wanting to go through the hassle of having to go to another town before he had finished his business in the current one.
"You've never heard of Professor Oak's research into the field, have you? According to him, they almost double the effectiveness of moves. And similarly, when a type is resistant to another, it almost halves the effectiveness of an attack," the Viridian nurse recited almost as though she had a textbook laid out in front of her.
"Ah okay, okay, I'll go," surrendered Drake as he lowered his head hesitantly. "It sounds like just the spot for me.
"It probably is, but since you're a rookie, I think it's our duty to warn you..." the Cerulean nurse's face grew oddly serious, a look that seemed amiss on the face of a Nurse Joy.
Her older sister finished the sentence for her. "To get to Brock... you'll have to go through Mount Moon."
This chapter was brought to you by Kakarot Son and Razamataz22.
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