To Be The Very Best

Chapter Four

I have no idea why, but people seem to delight in putting themselves down or actively prevent themselves from reaching greater heights. When complimented, the false humility immediately comes out and they try to act humble by playing down their achievements. 'Oh no it doesn't compare to what you did' or 'It was a team effort' and numerous false platitudes are spewed out.

Then, when an equal tries to convince others that one can strive for greater heights than just what they are doing right now, the immediate retort is something along the lines of 'What do you know? You're just like us.'

On the other hand, when someone that has 'achieved greatness' tells them the same thing, they reply with 'Oh what do you know? You're great now so you can say such things.'

Do people derive some kind of masochistic joy from such actions?

All it takes is for one to step out of the establish norms and create one's own path. Why do so little people have the courage to do that? Is the fear of failure truly so daunting compared to the prospects of living your life exactly the way you want to?

I have not, do not and probably will never understand the thinking of people like this and, truth be told, I am glad that I do not.

-Champion by Red

Red woke up to the sound of regular beeping and the sight of a white ceiling. There were no cracks and the paint was perfectly fine. Had Professor Oak called someone to paint his room while he was away? Wait, away? He had gone somewhere?

Red frowned as the beeping continued. God darn that beeping. Was it his new alarm clock? His was far more raucous and, amazingly, less annoying. Perhaps that was why he had bought this new alarm clock; to annoy himself until he got up to turn it off. Well, perhaps he should get up to turn it off then. It was really getting on his nerves now.

Red rolled over and stretched his arm- or at least he attempted to. His arm felt like lead and there was a strange dragging sensation, as though something was attached to it. Curious, he looked down to see a clear plastic tube injected into his arm and held in place with a tape.

It looked a lot like an IV tube that was used in hospitals...Red's lidded eyes snapped open as his mind processed the information that he had been subconsciously obtaining and came to a conclusion. The reason why the ceiling looked different was because he was not in his room, and was somewhere else. The beeping sound had to be that of the heart monitor and he was apparently unconscious for so long that they had put him on an IV drip.

Why was he in a hospital though? Red groaned and kneaded his forward as memories rushed into his mind. The shock of discovering the hive, the desperate struggle against the Beedrills, the fight against the Scyther and more was remembered.

The teenager patted himself down and confirmed that he was wearing a hospital gown and nothing else. The belt that had held his Pokeballs was also naturally gone. Red hurriedly looked around but found no sight of his Pokemons' Pokeballs. Where were his Pokémon?!

Frantic now, Red quickly located the buzzer that would call the nurse and spammed it. He only had to wait for a few seconds before a nurse burst into the ward that he was in and zoomed over to Red's bed. Red idly noted that the nurse did not have to look at any other beds because his was the only bed in the ward, and then turned his attention back to the nurse.

He opened his mouth to speak but, hoarse from who knows how long of disuse, all that came out was some guttural croaking. The nurse wordlessly passed a cup of water that she had already prepared to the teenager who gulped it down greedily.

"Where are my Pokémon?" Red blurted out the moment he was able to speak again.

"Don't worry, Sir. Your Pokémon are being held safely in the Pokémon Centre below. Do you need anything else?" The nurse said as she smiled kindly, touched by the teenager's deep concern for his Pokémon.

Hearing that made Red feel relieved. His Pokémon were safe. All of them had somehow made it out alive from the nightmare. Looking back on the numerous struggles that they had gone through, Red could scarcely believe that his team had done all of that in the span of two days.

"How long has it been since I came out from Viridian Forest? Oh and where am I at the moment? Is this Pewter or Viridian? Also, can I go now?"

The nurse tapped her chin lightly, likely running through the rapid questions fired at her in her before answering them in order.

"It's been five days since the Pewter Rangers brought you in and yes, you're in Pewter right now. Unfortunately, you cannot go now. We still need you to stay for several check-ups and diagnoses to make sure you are in good health before we can release you."

Red took the answers in stride. Five days was an acceptable time for him to be out. In fact, wasn't five days a little too short? Considering how hard he had pushed his body and how close he was to dying, Red would not be surprised if he had been comatose for a month or longer. Contrary to his expectations, however, he felt fine.

"I feel fine though." Red said and proved it by moving his limbs and twisting his torso, feeling only a slight twinge of pain from his abdomen when he twisted his torso.

"Whoever healed me is really good!" Red exclaimed, delighted by the lack of pain or even discomfort.

"I don't think I need these now." Red said as he casually plucked the IV drips out of his arm and leapt out of the hospital in one smooth motion. The nurse was so stunned by the sudden turn of events that when she recovered from her shock, Red was already rummaging in the cabinet.

"Wh-what do you think you're doing?!" the nurse practically shrieked as Red pulled out a set of clothing in triumph. They might be even more tattered now after his little adventure in the Viridian Forest but his old clothes was definitely better than this hospital gown that he was wearing.

"Getting out of here." Red replied simply as he stripped himself, eliciting a strangled choke from the nurse. Oh, right. People tended to be irrational when it came to nudity or even some slight overexposure of skin. Red had never understood the whole squeamishness about nudity. After all, flesh was flesh, no? People were perfectly fine with Pokémon walking around naked but humans walking around naked were such a big taboo.

Oh well. Red shrugged as he finished dressing himself and grabbed the backpack that was in the closet as well and then waved cheerily to the frozen nurse as he exited the ward, smirking mischievously as he left. It might have been a little too mean of a prank to play on the nurse considering how nice she was but Red really did not appreciate people telling him what he could or could not do.

"Ah! Master Red, you're up?" The nurse manning the Pokémon Centre greeted Red the moment he approached the counter.

He had to blink for a moment as he tried to process the fact that a nurse who doubtlessly saw countless people every day was somehow able to know his name, and then associate his name with his face. Some people that he saw every day in Pallet could not even do that! And then, there was the fact that she had addressed him as 'Master' which threw Red for a loop. That was...a respectful term, right? So why in the world was she using it on him?

Well, there was no better way than to just ask upfront, right?

"How do you know my name and why did you address me as Master?" Red asked curiously.

"Ah, the Pewter Rangers found some documents on you stating your name and they told it to the hospital and as for why I addressed you as master," here, the young blushed. Actually blushed.

"All of us that are affiliated to the League in one way or another have heard of what you achieved in the Viridian Forest and it was amazing." The nurse gushed as she looked at Red with eyes filled with awe.

"Oh...uh...thanks, I suppose." Red said weakly as he fiddled with his cap. Far too used to antagonistic behaviour, Red did not know how to deal with this near hero worship and, surprisingly, he found himself far more uncomfortable with this than the sneers and taunts that he received.

"You're welcome." the nurse beamed before she lit up as she remembered something.

"Oh, you must have come for your Pokémon, right? Please hold on for a moment." the nurse as she bustled into a room behind the counter. She emerged a moment with a tray that held three Pokeballs, and a sack that was practically bursting with Pokeballs.

"Here you go. The Pokémon that were fighting with you are on the tray and have been restored to full health. The sack contains all the captured Beedrills that the Rangers managed to recover. They decided to let you keep them considering it was your mission and your hard work that netted this. Thank you for your hard work!" the nurse chirped as she handed the tray and sack to Red thought not before staring incredulously at the large sack and then at the Trainer who captured them.

"I suppose you'll want to see the girl now then? I can lead you to her room now if you wish." the nurse said as she looked at Red expectantly.

Red, on the other hand, was confused for a moment. Girl? What girl? Why would he want to see some random girl that he had no idea about? No, there had to be a reason behind this. Although people in general were rather illogical, there was still some semblance of sense in some of them. If he was expected to see a girl, most likely in the hospital as well, then the girl was likely to be an acquaintance of his that had been injured.

Did he know any girl that had been injured? Perhaps Daisy but if she was injured she would be taken care of in Daisy, no? He highly doubted Professor Oak would let his granddaughter travel to Pewter to be healed when there was an excellent facility in Pallet.

So it could not have been Daisy. Perhaps someone that he was travelling with? That was a common assumption that people made after all. If two people were travelling together, they had to be close. But he did not travel with anyone! In fact, he had not seen anyone since he entered Viridian He did see one person.

The nurse had to be talking about the girl that he had rescued! It all made sense now! Unfortunately, Red did not feel like visiting a girl that he did not know just to engage in awkward conversation. As far as he was concerned, his job was done the moment the girl was saved. Social norms, however, dictated that he should be interested in the welfare of someone that he had rescued. How annoying.

"Oh no it would be better to leave her to her rest. I'm sure she has better things to do than see someone like me." Red said with false humility as he shuffled backwards inconspicuously, intending to flee as quickly as possible the moment an opening presented itself. There was no shame in a tactical retreat.

Unfortunately for Red, he was not fast enough to escape the ensuing hurricane.

"Oh nonsense! I'm sure she'll be delighted to see you!" The nurse beamed as she suddenly tore around the counter and grabbed hold of his hand before dragging him bodily to her intended destination.

Red flinched at the sudden contact and tried to retract his hand from the girl's grasp but she had too firm a grip on it. Forcefully yanking his hand away would be considered 'rude' and would definitely limit him sometime in the future. Red sighed as he let himself be led away. He did not have much of a choice, after all.

The human hurricane stopped just before a door which Red assumed to be the door of the girl's ward. Instead of opening the door and letting him in, however, the nurse bit her lip nervously as she looked at the male Trainer.

"Before we go in there is something that I have to tell you about the girl. She is perfectly fine physically but she seems to have been affected heavily by her experience in the Viridian Forest. Do you know what PTSD is?"

Red nodded solemnly. PTSD; the abbreviation for Posttraumatic stress disorder is a severe condition that may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, serious injury or the threat of death. The cause in this case would be the latter two.

"The girl is now unable to speak because of a mental block. We don't even know her name because it seems like aside from mute, she has also been inflicted with amnesia. Aside from that, her behaviour has become a little feral and she shows huge distrust to any of the staff that treats her. We were actually hoping that since you were her rescuer, she would have a more positive reaction to you." the nurse confessed.

Well that explained why the nurse was so insistent on dragging him here. The medical staff was probably at their wits' end and were counting on him as a last resort.

"I'll handle it." Red said curtly as he slipped into the room and closed it firmly behind him. If he was actually going to do this, which Red doubted at the moment, then he would prefer to do it in privacy where no one would be able to see his fumbling attempts at helping the girl. Him, of all people, helping someone with a mental issue! Oh the irony!

The sound of rustling sheets caused him to look and he saw the blonde girl that he had rescued crouched on the bed, looking like a Pokémon that was going through the flight/fight phase. Well Pokémon he could handle. Unless they were Pokémon like Mjollnir, of course.

He held his hands up, showing that there were no weapons in it. Then, as a gesture of faith, he extended his hands in a handshake. If it was an actual Pokémon that he was facing at the moment, he would have held his hands out with their palms out so that the Pokémon could sniff at it but since the girl, no matter how feral she was acting, was still a human, Red decided to go with a handshake instead.

To his utter surprise, the girl crawled forward and actually sniffed at his hand. It was only long experience that kept him from jerking his hand back. Instead, he held himself still as the girl sniffed at his palm and then crawled closer to sniff at his chest.

Suddenly, the girl flung herself at him and enveloped him in a tight hug as she began nuzzling his neck happily while making some sort of odd purring sound.

Red, once again, froze. He was doing this too much. People were touching him too much. This was too much! Why was she hugging him? Red eventually came to his senses enough to begin struggling to break free from the girl's grip. He honestly did not care at the moment if he enraged her with his behaviour. He could just sic Mjollnir on her. All that he cared about at the moment was getting out.

However, the girl was far stronger than her waifish look suggested. No matter how hard Red tried, he could not escape her hug at all. He supposed that this was proof that he was not as recovered as he thought he was. Red was beginning to get desperate when the door clicked open.

"Is everything alright in here? It sounded really quiet and-oh." the nurse that had popped her head in giggled at the sight before her.

"Get her away from me." Red hissed through gritted teeth, throwing notions like courtesies away.

When Red was finally extricated from the she-demon's grasp, matters proceeded at a breakneck pace. The girl simply refused to go anywhere without Red at her side and, at the same time, refused to let Red leave alone. The staff could not on good conscience let a girl leave the hospital with a stranger, no matter how much of a hero he was.

Red settled it by dropping Professor Oak's name. He was not proud of it but he had to admit that dropping Professor Oak's name was the easiest way to settle any red tape. Everyone was afraid of incurring the Professor's wrath.

Moments later and he was in a private phone booth; or it would have been private if the girl had not insisted on tagging along with him. At least she had agreed to not touch and instead stood quietly at one side. Why did such things happen to him? He bet it was retribution for laughing at Blue about his Eevee. Now he had his own set of problems to deal with.

Red sighed as he dialled the number to the Professor's phone that only a handful of select people knew. Red was immensely proud to be one of them.

"Red! You have no idea how glad I am to see you up and well. Are you feeling alright? I wanted to rush over but the hospital assured me that you were in safe hands and I did not want them to feel as though I did not have faith in them."

Red smiled at the sight of the genial old man and the Professor's grandfatherly concern.

"I'm fine, Professor. I'm a little tired but that is to be expected considering what I went through. I actually called you to give you a report as well as transfer the Beedrills that I caught to you."

Red then spent the next few minutes narrating the harrowing trials that he had been through in the Viridian Forest, with the Professor's face growing darker and more concerned with every word that came from Red's mouth.

Finally, when the teenager was done, he transferred all the Beedrills to the Professor, although he did not transfer the Scyther. Despite the animosity that the Bug had displayed towards Red, the mantis had still fought together with his team in the end and Red felt that that counted for something. There was also the fact that the Scyther was incredibly strong and would be a worthwhile addition to his team. From the Professor's silence on him not transferring the Scyther, Red guessed that it was tacit approval for the teenager to keep the Scyther.

"Honestly, Red, I never expected the problem to be so serious. I was expecting a population that, while large, would be small enough that taking thirty of the Beedrills would be enough of a dent to drop the hives down to their regular size after the other Pokémon began preying on them again.

This should not have happened and for that, I apologise." the Professor said as he bowed deeply on the screen, causing Red to panic.

"It's alright, Professor! You don't have to apologise or bow like that! Please, get up!" Red practically shouted. The sight of the revered Professor bowing to him of all people was just so wrong and Red could not bear to see it.

"No one could have predicted that the hives would grow to such a large scale and besides, I'm fine, am I not?"

"Yes, you did emerge fine, after having accomplished something that no one, not me, nor Lance, could have accomplished at your age with only two barely trained Pokémon at his side. The reward you received is more than justified. No, I would say that it is not sufficient for what you have accomplished." the Professor smiled after he got up from his bow.

Reward? What reward? Was the Professor going to give him a reward now?

Professor Oak seemed to catch sight of the teenager's confusion as he pointed to Red's backpack.

"Why don't you check your backpack? I believe they placed it in your backpack after the rewards were delivered."

Bemused, Red obediently opened his backpack only to gasp at what was right on top; a red device that Red would be able to recognise even in his sleep, and a laminated piece of paper with his name on it.

"Congratulations, Trainer Red."

Red could not help it. A few tears escaped from his eyes as he picked the Pokedex and the Trainer certificate up reverently. This was the perfect reward; to be acknowledged as a Trainer for his actions. To be told by the stuck-up and elitist League that his actions in the Forest were worthy for traditions to be cast aside in favour of acknowledging that his actions were those of a Trainer.

It was...Red gripped the Pokedex tightly as pride blossomed in his chest. It was wonderful.

The Professor stayed silent as he let the teenager have a moment to collect himself, with his own eyes misting over at Red's reaction. He was probably the only one other than Red himself who knew how hard the orphan had struggled to get to where he was now. The surge of pride that he felt when he heard that his protégé had been acknowledged by the League itself remained to this day.

The world would finally get to see what Red was capable of and he was certain that the teenager would blow any and all expectations away.

"Now, why don't you take a look inside the Pokedex? The monetary reward for your mission has been deposited into the bank and your Pokedex should be able to access your bank." the Professor said after Red had collected himself.

The newly anointed Trainer nodded and placed his thumb on the thumb pad while he held the retina scanner up to his eyes. The Pokedex whirled and clicked for a moment before it opened up and Red was able to navigate through it with ease to reach his bank account. The number that he saw there stunned him so much that he actually dropped the Pokedex. It was only thanks to the girl's quick reactions that the brand-new Pokedex was saved from a hard knock.

Red barely registered this, his mind still going over the number that he had seen. So. Many. Zeroes. He shook his head to clear his head and accepted the Pokedex from the girl, thanking her in the process.

"I can't take this from you, Professor. It's too much!" Red protested. While he was not going to shy away from receiving rewards for a mission accomplished, Red did not like receiving charity and this large of an amount stank too much of charity to him.

"Oh but not all of this is from me." the Professor said as he smirked mischievously.

"In fact, I only contributed about a tenth of this. The rest was from the league for 'going above and beyond the duties of a Trainer and impeccable performance that exceeded any expectations'."

"Oh." Red said as he stared at the Pokedex. Wow. The League truly thought so much of what he had done? He didn't think it was that impressive but who was he to reject their compensation for his troubles, hmm?

Before he got overwhelmed though, he had something that he needed to request from Professor Oak. The girl's actions in saving his Pokedex had reminded him of her existence and a possible solution to his current headache.

"Professor, could you send me the full list of missing people, whether from Pewter or from Viridian?"

The Professor furrowed his eyebrows at the strange request before he eventually shrugged, deciding that Red was trustworthy enough to trust some information to and was not going to abuse the information for his personal benefit.

"Alright. I'll send it over now." The Professor typed for a moment on the keyboard and sheets of paper came out from the slit at the bottom of the paper.

"Thank you Professor. That's all from me now."

"No problem, Red. Stay safe and good luck."

With the farewells over, the screen flickered to its usual black when dormant.

Red looked down at the sheaf of papers that he held in his hands. The girl had to be one of the missing people. Therefore, all that he needed to do was go through the list until he found the girl, locate her family, and then pass her off to them and his job would finally be done. No more sudden strangle-hugs of death.

It took Red ten minutes to go through the entire list. It took him another half an hour to double check the list twice. The results were the same; the girl was nowhere to be found on the list.

That was, however, only one more odd thing. He had not realised it when he was in the Forest, preoccupied as he was with other matters. For the girl to have been utterly naked, she would have to be in the cocoon long enough for the acids to melt her clothes away. However, there were no burns on her skin at all. Additionally, the doctors said that the girl was perfectly fine but a long time in the cocoon would have cut off her oxygen supply, thus killing her. She should not have been alive. Or she was in the cocoon for only a short amount of time.

Red stared at the girl sitting quietly in one corner.

'Who are you?' He wondered.

Before he did anything else, there was a pressing matter that Red needed to settle. He released his Pokémon from their Pokeballs, not missing the slight flinch from the girl when she laid eyes on the Scyther.

The Scyther immediately blurred into motion, leaping backwards from the two Pokémon that had gathered protectively around Red as it sought to take in the situation.

"We are in Pewter City at the moment; a human settlement." Red exclaimed calmly as he patted his Pokémon, urging his Pokémon to relax from his touch. The Bug was already antsy enough and extra aggression would not serve his case well.

"You can relax. I do not mean any harm to you. Note, however, that you are no longer in an advantageous territory. I might not mean you any harm but this is the land of humans. Any hostile actions that you take might result in suppressive actions taken that I cannot prevent. I would recommend for you to relax."

The Scyther looked around and noted that he was indeed drawing attention from his movements and lowered his scythes so that he no longer looked like he was going to attack at a moment's notice. His wary gaze, however, never stop flickering between the human and the two Pokémon.

Red nodded in approval.

"Good. You can reason. That will make this easier. The reason for me releasing you from the Pokeball is simple; I wish for you to join my team."

The Scyther snorted at this and turned its head away as it crossed its arms, obviously snubbing the Trainer. Red remained undaunted and continued talking.

"I do not know your specific reasons behind the massacre of Flying-Types but from your mannerisms thus far, I guess that you're trying to become much stronger than you would be from your normal life. I can help you with that. Our brief fight together has already proved that we have teamwork, no?"

Red could see that the Scyther was considering the offer in its head although its position did not change at all. He decided to make one last push.

"I will be honest with you though. I cannot make you the offer of 'I will let you free' if you do not accept my offer. The fact is that you have already proved to be a viable threat to any habitat that you are introduced into. I cannot let you out into the wilds. The only options that you have at the moment are to accept my terms and join my team or I will send you to the Professor where you will be a research specimen. Such is the fate of one who has drawn his sword and chosen to fight, no?

The choice, limited as it is, is yours though."

The Scyther's opinion of the human rose greatly at the end of the speech. This was not some weak little tree hugger who was talking down to him as though he was one of those other pathetic Pokémon. To expect or appreciate offers of kindness was a sign of weakness if he had ever seen one. The truly strong and independent would never accept charity and it seemed like this human understood that very well. More than, the Scyther appreciated the human's candour. He knew that few would be as upfront and blunt as the human when seeking to obtain what they wanted.

Then there was the fact that the Pokémon by his side were indeed strong ones, from what he had seen of their fight and from personal experience. The commands that the human issued in battle had helped them to escape from that death trap as well. Yes, he would do.

The Scyther unfolded his arms in a swift gesture, causing his blades to scrape loudly as the Bug stood stock still with his arms at his side; a position where he voluntarily locked his weapons and exposed himself to possible threats. In other words, he accepted the human as his leader.

Red smiled. This was truly an interesting Pokémon that he had found.

"I look forward to working with you. I truly do."

Since he could think of a way to get rid of his girl problem at the moment, at least not without doing something that would deemed as morally reprehensible like simply abandoning her and then running off as quickly as he could, Red was stuck with the girl tagging along like some kind of puppy.

Well, if he was going to have the girl following him while he was in Pewter, which would be quite some time, then he was not going to just keep addressing or thinking of her as 'the girl'. To that end, he decided to give the girl a nickname.

He liked giving nicknames and he believed that he pretty good at giving them too. Since he was nicknamed Red because of his eye colour and cap and Blue was nicknamed Blue because of his face colour and shirt at the time, Red decided to name the girl Yellow because of her bright yellow hair.

Yellow seemed pretty pleased with her new name which, to Red, validated his opinion that he was pretty darn good at giving nicknames. Just wait. Soon, people would be naming their children or themselves after colours.

The duo stepped out of the Pokémon Centre and was greeted with the sight of the citizens of Pewter City going about their daily lives; all of which were armed to the teeth and looked to be in the middle of a war.

Yellow's eyes boggled and she moved a little closer to the male teenager, slightly intimidated by all the swarthy people carrying weapons openly like that. Red, however, was unfazed. He knew from his reading that Pewter City was the most militant city in Kanto and the only city where every citizen was armed and knew how to defend themselves, both with ranged and melee weapons.

It was not surprising, considering the fact that Pewter City lay right in between two Untouchables and impassable mountains behind them. They were quite literally trapped behind a very large rock and a hard place. The militant nature, while applicable to the present, actually had roots in the past which was also related to the Pokémon theme of choice in Pewter.

Way back in the past when Kanto was not fully united as a nation yet and each city acted as its own province, these provinces often went to war against each other either for the resources that they had or for extra territory. Cerulean often went to war against Pewter for the full mining rights in Mt. Moon.

Even though the Untouchable was extremely dangerous, people still frequently went in anyway due to the myriad treasures that could be found in it if one was lucky. Nuggets, Moon Stones and even Pokémon fossils that could be sold for millions to collectors could be found in the mountain.

Aside from that, Pewter also had Viridian to the south to contend with and, occasionally, other provinces from the Johto side of the region. For any aspiring Johtian Warlord that wanted to conquer the East side of the continent, after conquering Viridian one had the option of attempting to launch naval attacks or expand their territory by slowly gaining ground. Pewter City was naturally next in line for these would-be conquerors.

Despite the numerous provinces and later cities and even regions that wanted to invade Pewter, Pewter had never been conquered once in their entire history, earning the city the nickname of 'The Rock of Kanto'. The Untouchables acted as wonderful natural barriers, allowing the Pewter armies to easily finish off any weakened armies that made it through the Untouchables.

The citizens of Pewter took great pride in the nickname that they had obtained and so when the time came for them to decide on a theme for the Pewter Gym, the choice of Rock Pokémon that were readily available from Mt. Moon was unanimous. It also helped greatly that Rock Pokémon were super effective against the many Bugs that dwelt in the Viridian Forest.

Red explained all of this to Yellow and his Pokémon as they walked towards his destination, the party listening raptly to the male teenager, impressed with the depth of knowledge that he possessed.

They were soon in front of a building that had the word 'Gym' emblazoned across it. Pokémon Gyms were the only places that one could obtain the badges that were required to take part in the Pokémon League Competitions.

There were then two methods of obtaining the badges; one could register to be a Trainer under the Gym where the Trainer would learn all about the Pokémon that the Gym specialised in and, after the Gym Leader deemed the student acceptable, the Trainer would receive a badge from the Gym Leader.

This method naturally took a long time to accomplish which was why Red and Blue were gunning for the other method; challenge the Gym Leader to a battle and snatch the Gym Badge away by right of might. Naturally, even though the Gym Leaders scaled their Pokémon depending on how many badges the Trainer already had, these Gym Battles were arduous trials meant to push the Trainer beyond their limits. It was much faster and therefore, much harder. That was why most Trainers chose the safer route of studying under and serving the Gym that they had chosen.

Red had never done the easy thing though, which was why he was here. This building was the administration building for the Pewter Gym. The Pewter Gym was rather different from most cities.

Over time, rather than a Gym in a city, Pewter had turned into a city in a Gym. The entire city was the Pewter Gym, with many different branches scattered across the city. The building that Red was in front of was simply the administration building. There were other buildings like the training buildings, breeding buildings and the incredibly large battling stadium that was right in the middle of the city.

Once again, this tied in to Pewter's nature as a militant state. Pokémon were, after all, the ultimate military might. The number of Trainers that subscribed to the Pewter Gym to learn to be better Trainers had thus swelled so much over the years that the Gym was forced to expand to this stage in order to keep up with the demand. It was quite an amazing thing.

"I want to sign up for the Gym challenge." Red said simply the moment he was in speaking range of the receptionist.

The receptionist simply arched an eyebrow at the teenager's curt mannerisms and then held her hands out. Red silently placed his Pokedex in her hands before she nodded and keyed a few things into the computer in front of her.

"Alright. The preliminaries will be held tomorrow. The details have already been entered into your Pokedex. Good luck, Trainer Red. Hopefully you will win a Gym Badge too."

Preliminaries, commonly and 'affectionately' termed as Gauntlets by Trainers, were a series of tests or challenges that Gyms made aspiring challengers take before they were allowed to challenge the Gym Leader.

After all, while awarding badges to promising Trainers was part of their job scope, Gym Leaders were also generally in charge of many things; ranging from the military and security of the city that they were in to appearances on the media to the Gym. They could not afford to let any random upstart challenge the Gym Leaders and waste their time.

The Preliminaries were thus created to weed out the thrash from the good Trainers. Along the way, the Gyms also tried to impart the philosophy or methodology of the Gym in their challenges, resulting in different Gym having very different challenges. The ultimate aim was the same though.

Red knew all of this already which why he did not kick up a big fuss. There was, however, something that caught Red's attention.

"Someone has won a badge recently?"

"Oh yes." the receptionist said as she blushed slightly while she looked up dreamily.

"After he made that bold declaration on television, Professor Oak's grandson proved his mettle by beating Gym Leader Brock two days ago."

"I see. Thank you." Red said as he swiftly turned on his heels and exited the building. So, Blue already had the Boulder Badge huh. An unbidden smile tugged at his lips. It was to be expected of his rival, no?

"I'm sorry sir but you cannot enter unless you recall those things to their Pokeballs. Our restaurant has an image to maintain and it simply would not do for those beasts to go traipsing around in our establishment according to their whims. That would be so very unhygienic!"

"Other restaurants allow it so why doesn't yours allow it?"

"The practices of other establishments have no bearing on our practices. Please leave if you refuse to comply with our regulations. You are disturbing the peace of our patrons."

Red bristled at the waiter's snobby attitude. He knew that some of the 'high class' people viewed Trainers with much disdain because they were 'perpetually rolling in the mud and acting so barbaric'. Their opinion of Pokémon were not much better, viewing the creatures as mere trophies or pets; things to keep at home for one's amusement or to use for bragging but never to actually bring anywhere important.

Although annoyed at the general stupid perceptions that these insipid fools had towards Trainers, Red was able to tolerate them. What had his blood boiling at the moment was this waiter's attitude towards him and his Pokémon. Red had not missed the slow and unimpressed examination of his Pokémon and himself by the waiter which was followed by a turn of his nose and a subtle sneer when the waiter spoke to Red in a patronising tone.

After receiving more money than he knew how to deal with, Red decided to reward himself and his team using the money that he had earned from his mission in the Viridian Forest. The choice of reward had not been hard to decide. Having been forced to live on wild game and the dried jerky that he made himself, the thought of actually easting on real good food had him and his team salivating. Since he was feeling generous, Red had extended the invitation to Yellow and the group had set off for what they had heard was the best restaurant in Pewter.

Red had to admit that he and yellow were far from the best-dressed people around, with him in his torn and shabby clothes and Yellow in an oversized dress that a nurse had kindly donated to the amnesiac girl. However, that was no grounds for such shitty treatment!

"Look, if my Pokémon will 'disturb' the other patrons as you claim, then just give me a private room or something. High-class restaurants have something like that, right?"

The waiter once again turned his nose up at Red.

"Our VIP rooms are, as their name suggests, for Very Important People only. If you could just show me your Platinum card I will show you to your room, sir."

The slight sneer that the waiter had on his face showed that he believed that there was no way that Red would have something like that, which was true. He was, however, getting extremely irritated at the waiter's behaviour.

"Call your manager out."

"He is an extremely busy person and-"

Red suddenly darted forward so that he was mere inches away from the waiter's face.

"I grow weary of your veiled insults and insolence, punk. Call your manager over now or I will show you what 'disturbing the peace' means."

The Pokémon that had previously been lounging about instantly became alert when their Trainer displayed such aggressive tendencies and focused their attention on the waiter as well. They might not have been paying attention to what was going on but they would have supported their Trainer anyway even if they knew that he was the one in the wrong at the moment. Loyalty to their Trainer came first before everything else.

The poor waiter froze instantly, unused to being threatened by someone that could actually back his words up. Thankfully, the manager who was making his rounds saw the slight commotion and instantly hurried to the man's rescue.

"Sir, please!" the portly manager called out as he ran over.

"Sir, I do not what the problem is but surely there is no need for such behaviour!"

Red's eyes darted over to the new participant in the conversation and caught sight of the Manager badge on the man's chest.

"Manager, your staff has been excessively rude to me and while I understand your customs of not allowing Pokémon in, I am aware of the existence of your VIP rooms."

"Well, yes but-"

Red cut the manager off at this point, tired of trying to argue his way through. Instead, he simply reached into his Pockets and flicked the Pokedex open, whereupon he promptly shoved the screen containing his bank records into the man's face.

"As you can see, money is no issue." Red said curtly.

The manager's eyes boggled at the sum of money that he saw there and ushered Red into the most prestigious room that he could find as quickly as possible.

The rest of the restaurant experience was absolutely pleasant. He was served dish after dish that exploded in his mouth with flavour. Even his Pokémon received the best possible service, being served food that was somehow catered to Pokémon. Red suspected that while even high class people could not bring their Pokémon in, Gym Leaders and the like were on an entirely different level; thus the creation of VIP rooms.

It was exorbitant but Red did not mind. He had money to spare now and for what was undoubtedly the best experience in his life, he did not regret it. The only downside to this was the thought of having to return to self-made dried jerky when he resumed his travels. Red could see now why people that had lived their entire lives in such luxury refused to venture into the wilderness.

When Red was done with his meal, the manager personally sent him off.

"Thank you for your patronage, sir. We hope to see you again!"

Red paused in his steps at that as he turned slightly to the side.

"Unfortunately, while the food was excellent, the service that I encountered at the beginning was terrible. I do not think it would be possible for me to return with such a large deterrent, if you know what I mean."

With his piece said, Red left the restaurant. He was likely never going to return to Pewter anytime soon anyway; definitely not in the next year but he was not going to let it go like that. Red knew that he was being petty, but nobody slighted him and got away with it if he anything to say about it. In his opinion, causing a person to lose his livelihood in exchange for insulting him was perfectly alright. After all, the world was not fair.

After a meal, Red decided to buy some new clothes for himself. While far from his favourite person at the moment, the teenager had to admit that the waiter was right in criticising the clothes that he was wearing at the moment. He plucked at them gingerly, wincing slightly when a slightly more forceful tug resulted in some of the thin fabric tearing. Yes, new clothes were in order.

And then, since he was such a generous and magnanimous person, he was not averse to paying for clothes for Yellow. He thought that, being a girl, Yellow would jump for joy at the thought of being able to get as many clothes as she wanted for free but she simply tilted her head to one side curiously before she shrugged and headed into the store docilely.

Red was getting used to the quiet girl. Once he made it clear that he did not appreciate physical contact and the girl back off a little, Red found that the blonde was actually quite tolerable. She simply trotted along at his side and his Pokémon did not seem to mind her either. In fact, they seemed strangely comfortable around her which was more than a little weird for his little group of psychopathic human-hating brutes.

Clothes shopping went surprisingly fast. Red was easy since he basically picked durable clothes that looked a lot like his old clothes. Aside from a few design changes, the colour scheme and theme of his clothes remained the same. Yellow was the surprising one.

Having grown up with Blue's horror stories of shopping with his sister, Red was expecting this shopping trip to take an abominably long time. To his amazement, Yellow simply picked several copies of a dress that Red had to nod approvingly at.

The dress that Yellow had picked was, naturally, a simply yellow dress with a flared bottom and a hem that was not too low; approximately mid-thigh length which meant that running and other physical activities would not be constrained by the numerous tight skirts and dresses that he had seen many other girls wear. Sensible brown boots complemented the outfit. Yellow was appearing more and more as a decent person to Red.

Despite having obtained all that she wanted, the girl still unsatisfied for some reason. After placing her choices carefully on the cash register, the blonde twisted her head from side to side, looking for something that only the girl knew of. She then let out a delighted gasp when she finally found the thing that she had been searching for. Without further ado, she plopped a large straw hat onto her head, beaming widely as she pointed at Red's cap and then her new hat, drawing the similarities between them.

Red arched an eyebrow before he shrugged, handing his Pokedex over to the cashier to finalise the purchases. It was a strange feeling to have someone wish to emulate him but he ignored it for the moment. Now was not the time to let his mind wander when it came to sentimental things.

Tomorrow would be his debut. He needed to be in perfect condition both physically and mentally. Unimportant things would be shelved in favour of getting a good night's sleep.

The dawning of the next day brought much pain and suffering upon the Pokémon in the northern part of Route 2 as Red woke up early with his Pokémon to get some training in. Rather than training though, Red would liken it to being more of a 'warm-up'. After all, having fought the hordes in Viridian Forest, any encounters in Route 2 were tame in comparison. It was more of a way to let his Pokémon warm-up while allowing him to gauge the Scyther's abilities in a non -life-or-death situation.

Red's initial impression of an assassin was truly spot on. The Scyther was like a reaper of lives; every slash that he made took the life of a wild Pokémon. Fast, brutal and precise were the adjectives that came to mind when one watch the Scyther in action.

Stories in the mythologies that Red had read about came to mind; namely Odin, the god of war and death. What was extremely vivid in Red's mind at the moment, however, was not the god itself but the weapon that the god had wielded; Gungnir, the spear that never missed.

Red felt that the nickname of Gungnir would fit the Scyther perfectly; after all, as a precise assassin that felt most at home in the battlefield and dealing death everywhere, what better nickname could there be?

The Scyther agreed readily to the nickname when Red brought it up as well. In fact, the Scyther had practically preened when it was made known that he was named after the weapon of a God. Of course, Mjollnir immediately rained on his parade by pointing that he was named after a god's weapon as well while Surtr interjected that they were named after mere weapons when he was named after an actual god.

That quarrel sparked a free-for-all scuffle amongst his Pokémon that Red was content to sit back and enjoy. It was not a serious conflict and it would be good exercise for his Pokémon anyway. The wild Pokémon in Route 2 were truly no match for his Pokémon. Besides, he knew from personal experience that sometimes, the best teamwork was built not by fighting with another person but rather against them.

A few hours later, Red stood in front of the building where the Preliminaries would be held. His body trembled with barely contained excitement as his eyes lit up with determination.

Finally, he was here; the first step towards realising his goal.

360 days to the Pokemon League Challenge

The train of thought that led me my Eevee's nickname was actually quite a convoluted one. It started from an incident after I had obtained the Boulder Badge.

Pleased with the performance of my Pokémon, I gave them slightly more liberties than I usually did and my Pokémon, especially Eevee, naturally took this opportunity to run amok during our downtimes (None of them would even dare to think of screwing around during training. I made sure of that.)

Eevee got a little hand one day and, frustrated, I think I scolded her with something along the lines of 'Stop it, fool!' which gave me inspiration.

The Fool is a major Arcana in a tarot deck, commonly representing infinite possibilities, which fit perfectly with what an Eevee was; a Pokémon that had infinite possibilities. However, no matter how tempted I was, naming a Pokémon Fool, no matter how fitting, was probably in bad taste and so I restrained myself from doing so.

I can tell you that it was pretty damn hard to do so.

But I wasn't going to give up on that brainwave so I tried to see if there was any way that I could work around it. For those that don't know, the cards in a tarot deck are numbered and each tarot has its individual number. The Fool was the starting card with the number zero.

That got me thinking. Zero, also known as nothing, or void. My mind wandered to Red's naming tendencies and the obsession that he had with mythologies and I was reminded of something from a different mythology.

Chaos, from the Greek word Khaos, which means "gaping void". There are many explanations as to who or what Chaos is, but most theories state that it was the void from which all things developed into a distinctive entity, or in which they existed in a confused and amorphous shape before they were separated into genera. In other words, Chaos is or was "nothingness.", also known as zero, which is thus linked to the Fool.

It also helped that Eevee's nature was chaotic in itself. The perfect nickname, if I do say so myself.

Rising to the Challenge by Gary Oak

Trainer Name: Red

Gym Badges: 0

Pokémon captured: 3

Pokémon Nickname: Mjollnir

Pokémon Species: Pikachu

Pokémon Ability: Lightningrod- Electric-type moves are drawn to this Pokémon. Electric-type moves will do no damage and the Pokémon's SP ATK is raised one stage

Type: Electric

Level: 17

Moves Learnt:



-Tail Whip

-Play Nice

-Quick Attack

-Thunder Wave

-Electro Ball

Trainer Notes:

Pikachu was the first Pokémon I fought and the meanest I had ever met up to date. Pikachu's body size is extremely small; probably half the size of a regular adult Pikachu but its tail, on the other is much longer than a Pikachu's tail. That tail might explain why Pikachu's electric attacks are much more powerful and focused than other Pikachus'.

It has displayed cunning as well in the way it sets up ambushes and has proven itself to be a quick learning, adapting quickly to new situations and then improving itself from each encounter.

Pikachu has accepted its nickname of Mjollnir, named after the hammer of the Thunder God because that is how Mjollnir appears to me; embodying the wrath of the Thunder God in one mighty smite. Mjollnir has also officially become the first Pokémon that I caught after it consented to join my team.

Personality wise, I believe there is a lot more to learn but I have found that Mjollnir has a strange fascination with television programmes and my cap.

Well, this 'adventure' in Viridian Forest proved my hypothesis. Mjollnir's abnormal capacity to absorb electricity was probably from being bullied by the other Pikachus in Viridian Forest. Due to his small nature, I think that Mjollnir was forced to defend himself with only his electric attacks and in order for that to be effective, he had to channel his electric attacks more effectively.

This also answers why he was found in Route 1. He probably fled Viridian Forest and then just kept going south as far away as his hated home before he met me.


Pokémon Nickname: Surtr

Pokémon Species: Charmander

Pokémon Ability: Solar Power- During sunshine, the Pokémon's Special Attack raises to 1.5 times but HP decreases every turn.

Type: Fire/Dragon

Level: 18

Moves Learnt:





-Dragon Rage

Trainer Notes:

While Mjollnir was the first Pokémon that I caught, Surtr was actually the first Pokémon that I befriended. The characteristic that stands out immediately is Surtr's black skin where a normal Charmander's is orange. It is because of this discolouration that Surtr was ostracised by the other Pokémon; an experience that I empathise with.

Because of the experience that he had growing up, Surtr tends to be surly and antagonistic except around people that he likes, of which I am thankful to be one of.

When around people that he likes, Surtr transforms into an extremely bright and cheerful Charmander and I dearly wish to see more of this side of him.

I know now the reason behind the sudden surge of aggressiveness; Surtr was close to his evolution and thus his draconic heritage. The draconic blood seems to run thick in Surtr though, judging by the power of the Dragon Rage that Surtr was in.

Did the genetic defect that caused his skin to turn colour result in these enhanced draconic traits? Or did the draconic traits result in Surtr's skin turning black? Are the two even related? Sometimes, I wish I was more like Professor Oak. I bet he would know the answer to these questions.


Pokémon Nickname:Gungnir

Pokémon Species: Scyther

Pokémon Ability: Technician- Moves with a base power of 60 or less raise to 1.5 times.

Type: Bug/Flying

Level: 18

Moves Learnt:

-Vacuum Wave

-Quick Attack


-Focus Energy


-False Swipe


Trainer Notes:

If one talks about capturing in the tradition sense where one battles a wild Pokémon with their Starter and then captures it, then Scyther is my true first captured Pokémon.

I seem to have a penchant for attracting misfits or deviants into my team. Out of three Pokémon that I have thus far, all three are weird or abnormal in some way or another. Birds of a feather flock together, huh.

Oh well, one thing cannot be denied though. Scyther is strong. Very strong. It'll be interesting to see how much stronger I can make it if it agrees to listen to me, huh.

Trainer Name: Blue

Gym Badges: 1

Pokémon captured: 4

Pokémon Nickname: Chaos

Pokémon Species: Eevee

Pokémon Ability: Adaptability- Increases the Same Type Attack Bonus from *1.5 to *2.

Type: Normal

Level: 16

Moves Learnt:

-Helping Hand



-Sand Attack

-Baby-Doll Eyes


-Quick Attack

Trainer Notes:

Grandpa sure knows how to pick them. Battle-wise, there is nothing to complain about Eevee. Its foundations are strong, which make it easy to train. It follows orders obediently too and has a work ethic that I can respect. The only possible flaw is its over-reliance on its Trainer's orders; it cannot work well unless orders have been issued. Of course, that is the Trainer's job so that will be fixed in due time.

The strengths of the individual Pokémon are starting to emerge. For such a frail looking Pokémon, Eevee hits surprisingly hard, no doubt due to its Adaptability ability. While a hard-hitter, I doubt that Eevee will be the main sweeper of the team unless it changes after it evolves.

Eevee's main forte is its agility and nimbleness. I dare say she will be more than a match for Red's Pikachu in this area. Our next battle will be drastically different. I can promise that.

Personality-wise, however, there is much to complain. For starters, the Eevee is annoyingly affectionate and incredibly adept at manipulating the emotions of people around it.

I am attempting to decrease the degree of its affection but it seems like a tough battle on that front.

May the Gods have mercy on me.


Pokémon Nickname: N/A

Pokémon Species: Wartortle

Pokémon Ability: Rain Dish- If Heavy Rain weather is in effect, recovers 1/16th max Hit Points at the end of the turn.

Type: Water

Level: 16

Moves Learnt:


-Tail Whip

-Water Gun




Trainer Notes:

As expected from a Pokémon from grandpa's lab, Squirtle is a solid Pokémon with a solid foundation. Training it will not be too difficult. The only thing that it is lacking is battle experience, which I will ensure that it gets in abundance soon enough.

Squirtle is, after all, my trump card against the Pewter and Cerulean Gyms.

As expected of one of its species, Squirtle is turning out to be a very tough Pokémon. Earlier today, I ran a test where I had a wild Pokémon attack Squirtle with Squirtle doing nothing but defending. The wild Pokémon collapsed out of exhaustion before taking Squirtle out.

Future plans are to work on the accuracy and power of its ranged attacks. This way, mobility will not be an issue.

Right now, I have not known it for long enough to make an accurate judgement of its personality. More will be added to these notes when I discover new facts


A/N: And the first milestone has been reached! Over 50k words! woohoo!

Now, there are several things for me to address.

1) I received several reviews telling me about scene breaks and I was wondering what the hell these people were talking about and then I went back and looked at the chapters. Apparently, saw fit to remove the scene breaks I had included in my word document when I uploaded and I did not know about it. Sorry about that _

2) As you guys (probably) know, TBTVB was done for NaNoWriMo. NaNo's over now but I will still continue this on this fic, just on a much slower pace. Also, since I seem to have gotten back into the groove of writing, I'll be alternating between updating this fic and Winds of Change. For those who follow TWOC, good news for you. For those that don't, what are you waiting for?! XD

3) I know I promised the Pewter Gym Challenge this chapter but things just got away from me. Yellow demanded screentime and I really wanted to do some character development in between battles, to flash out the personalities and traits the characters. (Red is quite an immature asshole, yes but he'll grow out of it. The immature part, at least XD)

4) Nothing much, just Review, please! It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside every time I receive a long and detailed review.