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February 24th, 2011 (8:55 AM).
Oatmeal? Are you CRAZY?!
In the middle of nowhere.
The wind brushed Belle’s now almost shoulder-length hair back from her face and stung her cheeks as Charmy’s wings rose and fell on either side of her. Water glinted beneath her as they raced above it; she saw Water Pokémon leaping from the sea. For the first time in what felt like ages, Belle allowed herself to laugh.
Soon, Pallet Town was coming into view, and it was underneath them, Oak’s Pokémon Lab flowing away. Little Pokémon dotted the pastures, and Belle leaned over the side and squinted to see if she could make out Professor Oak or Tracy, or even Swifter, though she thought it less likely. She felt as though a lifetime had passed since she had walked into the lab as a Pokémon-less girl.
She had been a lot happier then.
Sadly, Belle turned her eyes away from the lab and watched as Route 1 passed beneath her. Soon, they were in Viridian City. Charmy touched down lightly in front of the PokéCenter. The glass doors slid open and she walked in, Charmy following behind her.
It was so familiar. A few beginning Trainers sat around the tables and on the plastic seats, talking and holding their only Poké Ball. Most of the Pokémon she saw were Squirtles, Bulbasaurs, and Charmanders, but a few people had Pidgeys, and one even had a Rattata. Everyone looked up in wonder as Belle passed by, her Charizard walking behind her. A girl with dark brown hair was sitting on the couch that Belle remembered sleeping on, a Charmander in her lap.
Nurse Joy looked up as she handed two Poké Balls back to a boy. A smile split her face immediately. “Belle! Oh, Belle, look at you! You look so…grown up!” She hurried out from behind the counter, wiping her hands on her apron. “It’s so nice when Trainers come back. And look at your Charmy…how’s Swifter?”
“Well, I sent Swifter to Professor Oak’s lab, so…”
“Oh. Well, I see why—you already have a Charizard, so the need for a flying Pokémon…”
Belle smiled. “I actually want to hurry up and get my final gym battle over with. Do you know anything about the gym leader?”
“Well, it’s a Ground-type gym,” Joy said as she went back behind the counter. Belle stepped forward and handed over her Poké Balls, returning Charmy to his. “They just hired a new leader about a week ago, actually…I don’t know much about him. Or her,” she added. “All I know is that he—she—it—won a Pokémon League Tournament in some other region. Was it Johto? Or Sinnoh?” Joy frowned as she pressed the button on the machine. “Maybe it was Kanto..it ended in o. At any rate, as soon as the Board of Directors got wind that they wanted to be the leader, they hurried to get them the job.”
“Hm…I should be fine, though,” Belle said thoughtfully. “It’s a Ground-type gym, right? I have a Poliwhirl and a Bellossum.”
“Oh, you do? Tell me your team! I’m so excited that you’re back…I love when the people I meet as young beginning Trainers come back as seasoned travelers!”
Belle nodded. What would an hour or so hurt?
The Viridian City Gym had a floor similar to Pewter City’s, but instead of the bold brown of rocks, it was a dull, dark brown, nothing more than carefully packed dirt. It appeared to be deserted—Belle looked around, wishing she had let Charmy out of his Ball to accompany her inside. “Hello?” she said, and her voice echoed back to her.
“Well, well…look who we have here.”
Belle’s heart stopped as she turned and looked across the gym, seeing a person standing in the Gym Leader’s raised box. They leaned forward, long, black ringlets swinging from their shoulders, and a smile lit up their plump red lips. Dark eyes framed by long eyelashes gazed down at Belle in a way with which she was very familiar. Soft hands with long fingers grasped the railing of the box, and feet in pantyhose but not in shoes tapped gently on the floor.
Terra Caldwell smiled brightly from her place. “You recognize me! I’m surprised…you seem to not know who I am anymore. I never get any emails from you.”
“Well, I just…” Belle wasn’t sure what to think. Was this a joke? What was her mother doing here? She couldn’t be the Gym Leader…but now that Belle thought about it, Terra had won the Johto Pokémon League Tournament twice, and she thought she remembered Terra saying something about wanting to become a Gym Leader one day.
“Step into the box, Challenger,” Terra said, gesturing to the challenger’s box. “I am Terra, the Viridian City Gym Leader. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten together an all-Ground team, so you’ll have to make do with the one I have now. Referee?”
The box for this gym was taller than the one for Sabrina’s, or even Erika’s. Belle numbly climbed the ladder, feeling as though she was in a dream. This couldn’t be real. She would have to earn the Earth Badge from her
A male referee stood at the side of the battlefield, the familiar-looking colored flags in each hand. “This will be a six-on-six match,” he said clearly. “Switching out is permitted for the Challenger, but only between battles for Terra.” He glanced up at Belle’s box. “Good luck,” he added. “Begin!”
“Caillech!” Terra cried, throwing a Poké Ball. A Donphan erupted from it, trumpeting loudly.
“When did you get that?” Belle asked.
“He’s the start of my new Ground team. Maybe after our battle is over, honey, you can suggest some other Ground Pokémon for me to train.” She smiled. “Oh, this is the perfect way to see how much you’ve learned.”
“Who did you send away to put this Donphan in your team?”
Terra’s smile turned sad. “Danny.” Danny was the Heracross she had named after Belle’s father for reasons unknown to Belle.
Belle bit her lip as she thought briefly through her mother’s team. Finally, she pulled Poliwhirl’s Poké Ball off her belt and threw it onto the field, yelling its name.
“Donphan versus Poliwhirl! Let the battle begin!”
“Caillech, use Earthquake!”
“Poliwhirl, use Protect!”
Caillech reared up on its hind legs and slammed itself down. Cracks erupted in the earth and the whole building shook. Poliwhirl, however, leapt into the air and formed a green protective shield around him. The quaking earth didn’t affect him. Belle felt her heart almost break as she saw the scar from the Cinnabar Gym burn on its back—while she had been able to treat the burn, the scar would never go away.
Out of nowhere, Poliwhirl formed a gigantic wave, which he crashed down onto Caillech. The Donphan bellowed as it was swept up and buffeted in the rushing water. When the water died down and soaked into the earth, Caillech laid on its side, completely unconscious.
“Donphan is unable to battle! Poliwhirl wins!”
“Very nice, dear,” Terra said, returning Caillech. “But this next one will be tougher. Amaterasu! It is your turn!” An Ampharos came onto the battlefield, rearing up, the red gem on its head glowing. “Use Thunderbolt!”
And before Belle had a chance to withdraw Poliwhirl or react, Amaterasu hit Poliwhirl with a Thunderbolt so powerful that it fainted right then and there. She sighed as she returned him, but she plucked her next Poké Ball with a smile.
“Dugtrio! Let’s do this!”
“Ah, a Ground Pokémon,” Terra said with a smile. “And none of my Electric attacks can hit it.”
“Dugtrio, show her your Earthquake!”
“Trio, trio, trio!” All three of Diglett’s heads narrowed their eyes as the earth began to crack and fissure; large mounds of dirt began to jut up and clods went flying. A large spike of dirt rushed up from right beneath Amaterasu, causing the Pokémon to fly up into the air with a cry. Dirt clods hit Amaterasu’s falling body and it spiraled to the ground, where it laid as the floor shook violently around it.
“Ampharos is unable to battle! Dugtrio wins!”
“Good job, Amaterasu…Nix! Let’s see your Surf!”
A Politoed burst from its Ball and did the same thing Poliwhirl had done earlier, only much better; Dugtrio disappeared down its hole, which the water filled in. These one-hit KOs were advancing the battle quickly—a little too quickly for Belle’s taste. She hated having to return her Pokémon just as soon as her mother sent one out. Nix the Politoed had been one of her companions as a youngster; he was so fun to hug. Now she was forced to pluck Jolteon’s Poké Ball off her belt to defeat it.
“Oh, you’ve already beaten my Ground Pokémon,” Terra said with a smile as her eyes landed on Jolteon.
“Jolteon! Use Thunderbolt!”
“Now really, you’re repeating me, honey,” Terra remarked as the Electric move hit her Politoed. “Nix, are you still up? Good. Try out Seismic Toss.”
“Don’t let it grab you!” Belle cried; she knew from experience that Nix had an iron grip. Once he got his hands on a Pokémon—or anything, for that matter—it was difficult to wrench it away from him. “Dodge and use Spark!”
Jolteon flashed with electricity as it leapt aside, narrowly escaping Nix’s outstretched fingers, and then wheeled around to barrel into the froglike Water Pokémon. Two Electric attacks in a row were too much for it to handle; it fainted promptly.
Belle’s eyes flicked up to Terra as she returned Nix and reached for another Ball. She would probably use her starter Pokémon…it seemed the most logical choice…
“Tsukiyomi! I wish for you to attend this party!”
“Tsukiyomi?” Belle muttered. Tsukiyomi was her mother’s Ninetales; it came bursting out of the Ball as she thought it, whipping its tails about, black as night—its father had been a Houndoom and had passed on the coloring. “But Ninetales doesn’t really have a type advantage,” Belle called.
Terra spread her hands, almost apologetically. “I like a challenge. Tsukiyomi! Fire Blast!”
Tsukiyomi opened its mouth and flames poured out of it, forming into the familiar person shape and rushing at Jolteon. Belle almost smiled. Her mother didn’t mess around. “Jolteon! Dodge it, quick! Counter with Thunderbolt!”
“Please don’t let that bolt hit you, Tsukiyomi,” Terra said. “But, if you would, use Earthquake, please.”
“What? Earth—Jolteon! Jump, do something!” Belle cursed herself inwardly as Tsukiyomi ruined the gym floor for the third time with Earthquake. She had forgotten that her mother’s Ninetales knew that move—what was wrong with her? She was slipping, that was for sure.
Now who could she use? Belle was at a loss as she returned Jolteon. Who did she have that wasn’t fainted that had a type advantage over Tsukiyomi? She grabbed Primape’s Ball and tossed it onto the field. “We can do this!” she yelled as her Pokémon burst onto the floor, but her voice shook. Could they?
“Tsukiyomi, Flame Wheel, please.”
“Primape! Use—um—” But her mind drew a blank. Confused, Primape turned to look at her; and got caught in the back with a powerful wheel of fire. He fell flat on his face, but he stumbled to his feet. “I’m sorry, Primape! Seismic Toss!”
“Tsukiyomi, use—my, that thing is fast,” Terra remarked almost conversationally as Primape eagerly seized Tsukiyomi by the neck and slung him up into the air, yelling what Belle was quite sure were curse words and stamping his feet. Tsukiyomi slammed to the ground in front of him.
Belle could almost hear Primape’s protest.
Karate Chop? Really? I know so much better moves now!
And she knew it, but for some reason, she couldn’t think of them. He performed the move she wanted, chopping across Tsukiyomi’s stomach.
“Now that it’s close, use Fire Blast.”
Tsukiyomi once again let loose the cross-shaped fire; it covered Primape completely, coating it with burns and fainting it thoroughly. Cursing, Belle withdrew her Pokémon. Only Charmy and Bellossum left. She couldn’t use Bellossum—that would be equivalent to suicide. She tried to calm herself as she pulled Charmy’s Ball off her belt. “Charmy! Let’s go!”
“Oh, good old Charmy,” Terra said happily, clapping her hands as the Charizard appeared on the field. “Look at how you’ve grown. Derek will be thrilled.”
“Derek?” Belle hadn’t thought about that—if her mother was here, where was her little brother?
Charmy launched into the air, spiraling upward and hovering for a few moments, waiting for the Earthquake to finish. When the ground stopped shaking, he rushed down and buffeted Tsukiyomi with his wings. The Ninetales cried out indignantly and, without being told, bit down on Charmy’s arm. Roaring in pain, Charmy grabbed Tsukiyomi by the neck and threw him clear across the gym, directly into Belle’s tall box, so hard that it shook and she fearfully grasped at the railing.
“Good job, Tsukiyomi—now, how about a planned move? Quick Attack!”
Tsukiyomi struggled to its feet. It had gone against three Pokémon now, and it was hurt, especially by that last throw. Nevertheless, he was a black blur as he shot forward, hitting Charmy directly in his middle and knocking him over. Charmy smacked his head into Terra’s podium.
“Charmy, Dragon Claw!”
Roaring angrily, Charmy slashed across Tsukiyomi’s chest, but not before the Ninetales let out a Flamethrower, completely covering Charmy’s head and neck in melting-hot flames. The Charizard roared in pain and pushed the Ninetales away, but the thing was fainted. Terra returned the Pokémon, but Belle eyed Charmy’s several burns; he would be considerably weakened for the next battle, presumably against—
—the very Skarmory she had ridden to Almia.
“Don’t let him use any Fire attacks on you! Use Metal Claw—aim for his neck!”
“Charmy, use—” But Belle’s mouth dropped open as she took in the ruthlessness of her mother. Skarmory opened up its talons and enclosed Charmy’s neck in their grasp, shrieking loudly. Terra ordered it to use Steel Wing, so it brought its wing down on Charmy’s face before letting him fall to the ground, fainted. “Oh…my…” The only one left was Bellossum. Just Bellossum—cute, tiny, Grass-type, weak-against-Flying Bellossum.
“Bellossum,” Belle said shakily.
Terra smiled confidently. She shifted in her box and brushed her hair off her shoulder, looking down at the battlefield. Her eyes narrowed. “Aerial Ace.”
And it was over. Bellossum—Belle’s last Pokémon—was fainted. She had lost. How many careless mistakes had she made? This was her mother—she should know her battling style. How could she be so stupid? What had made her this distracted, this absentminded, this—
“Mom!” Belle cried suddenly. She was halfway down the ladder; she dropped the rest of the way, landing painfully on her feet, but she didn’t care. Something was happening inside her; a strange feeling bubbled in her stomach and pushed up into her chest until it came bursting, exploding, from her mouth. “Mom, I’m so lost!” She sank to her knees as sobs racked her body, burying her face in her hands. “Mom, I’ve messed up. I don’t know what to do. Look at me! I’m so lost, Mom, I’m so lost!” She continued to sob uncontrollably.
Soon, Terra’s voice was in Belle’s ear, and her arms were wrapped around her. She pulled her daughter to her and stroked her hair gently, murmuring and rocking her back and forth. Belle was past shame. The pain from Lavender Tower had built inside her, strengthened by the guilt of leaving Derrick, and now it burst from her in the form of an emotional breakdown. She let her mother hold her tightly as she cried, loosing tears into Terra’s sweater.
“It’ll be okay,” Terra murmured softly. “Everything will be okay.”
How good it was to hear that. Belle cried harder; she needed this. She needed this cry, this relief, this comfort…and, above all else, her mother. It was so nice to feel the warmth of her mother’s embrace again.
Confused and awkward, the referee bobbed about nearby, the colored flags hanging limply from his hands. With a smile, Terra waved a hand. “No more battles today,” she said quietly. “Lock up the gym. Let it out, sweetie,” she added to Belle, patting her back and resting her cheek on the top of the girl’s head. “Everything will be okay.”
And right then, in that moment, Belle knew it was true.
Hey you guys,
I’ve been really withdrawn from you guys, and I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I’ll explain everything later…for now, I’ll just tell you what happened today.
I left Cinnabar Island and I’m at Viridian City, where it just so happens that my mom is the Gym Leader. She says that she became it recently, but she’s not telling me what happened until tomorrow. I’m staying with her at the Gym, because it’s also a living space, and it’s really cool. It’s so weird how you can go from a big room with a battlefield and bleachers to a house with four bedrooms (BIG ones) and a kitchen. Mom’s not finished decorating yet.
I’m not moving on for a while. I’ll stay here for a bit, and if Derrick happens to come in, then so be it. I won’t hide from him, but I won’t go looking for him either. And just so you know, he didn’t do anything wrong…it’s all me. And I’ll explain it later.
Speaking of Derrick or Derek, I get to spend a lot of time with Derek. He was really happy to see me, but he was worried about me. He’s out playing with Charmy right now.
I guess I’ll talk to you guys later. I’m REALLY sorry.
Love lots and lots and forever and ever,
P.S. Please forgive me?
Joined Aug 2009
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