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Chapter 1 - Read Us a Story, Gramps!
There once was an old man, sitting in his small home in a little city called Cherrygrove. His name was Ethan. On this particular day, Ethan woke up to find a group of teenagers sitting on his doorstep. It wasn't an unusual thing to see; in fact, these teenagers thought of him as their grandfather, though he'd never had children of his own. Today, the group was after one of his stories about his days as a Pokémon Trainer. He'd known those kids since they actually were kids, and known their parents when they were kids too. He usually kept his stories short and sweet, but the kids were insisting on a long story. It began to irritate Ethan. Finally, he blurted out to them "Now what is this about? You're pestering me for a long story, and I'm not in the story-telling mood. What's gotten into you all?"
The group got quiet, as if unsure of how to proceed, when a girl spoke up. She said to him "Well, Gramps, we were doing some research on Cherrygrove for a project to make the town really come alive again, and we came across this..."
She reluctantly held out a yellowed scrap of newspaper, whose picture was all too familiar to Ethan. The caption screamed out to him "YOUNG HERO SAVES KANTO, DESTROYS TEAM ROCKET." He groaned, not so much from being discovered, but because he knew these kids would never let it go now that they knew a little bit. "It's no use fighting it, I suppose. I'll tell you the whole story, but you'd better be ready for the long haul, because once I get going, I'm not stopping. That means no whining, no complaining, no interrupting, no nothing. IF we have to stop, it'll be because I can't or don't want to do any more today. Alright?"
The teens nodded their agreement, and Ethan reluctantly began his story.
"I'm seventy-six years old, and I moved to Johto with my family some sixty years ago, back when Kanto went downhill. I was seven when a boy named Red, from Pallet Town, tore up Team Rocket, and things were pretty nice for a while. Some kid from Johto, Gold, came over and toured around, with his new-fangled Pokedex and well-trained Pokémon. Team Rocket was, for the most part, gone. A little activity up by the Power Plant that the Region Champion (that Gold kid) solved in less than a week was the most recent bit of activity the Rockets did.
But... Something happened. See, that Gold kid, the Champion... He went into Mount Silver, and never came back. That was when I was twelve. Cops went in, searched the whole mountain... Even the Elite Four, and some really tough trainers from other region's conferences showed up to help. They only found one person there... A reclusive young man, that same Red. He didn't say much, but I guess he told them that after a close battle between the two of them, Red lost, and went off to his makeshift home up at the peak to nurse his Pokémon back to health. Gold, he set off back down the mountain, apparently. Only one of his Pokémon was in any condition to fight, his oldest and most trusted partner, Typhlosion. Typhlosion got pretty roughed up taking on Red's Charizard, but they were determined to walk out together, as the best in the world.
And then they vanished. Nobody knows what happened to them. They just disappeared, into thin air. While the police were busy searching the area in and around the mountain, Team Rocket slipped back into Kanto in droves, with the help of some unsavory immigrants from other regions, mostly Orre, which doesn't exist anymore. Good riddance. Now, back to Team Rocket. It started small, a Pokémon stolen here, a store robbed there, nothing too major, and certainly nothing that would give away the involvement of Team Rocket. Then it happened... It was my thirteenth birthday. We lived in Saffron City, and we were going to have a block party to celebrate the day I was going to set out on my own, with my partner, Sneasel. Everyone showed up, and the party began.
Then, his voice came over the city's airwaves. Giovanni. He claimed that he had all the power he would ever need now, and that any resistance to the rebirth of Team Rocket would be put down without mercy. Over the next few weeks, Rocket thugs began to terrorize the smaller towns. Pallet got burned down, I heard. The Gym Leaders gathered up all the adults who were competent enough to battle, and formed a blockade of sorts with the help of the Indigo Plateau. They received hundreds upon hundreds of the people of Kanto, before the crackdowns started. We evacuated Saffron the same day the Rockets stormed in. We were on the last Magnet Train ever to go between Goldenrod and Saffron. My father moved us into Cherrygrove City, a quaint little seaside village filled mostly with old timers, which I guess I am now. It was so laidback, see, that it took a while to get used to. After that, he went off to help the League hold the blockade against the Rockets, while Kanto was just given up.
To take my mind off of all the horrors the Rockets were reported to be doing, I would take walks with my Sneasel. I had been given his egg for my tenth birthday, by an old man called Mr. Pokémon. He had since moved away to Hoenn, but the old timers knew him well from when he lived up on Route 30. They took a bit of a liking to me, and one of them said that the professor in the next town to the west of us, New Bark, might be interested to see my Sneasel. So, on one of my walks, I decided to head down Route 29 to New Bark Town to see this professor.
His name was Elm. Professor Elm, the foremost authority on Pokémon evolution, though these days he was busy trying to find ways to help Pokémon become stronger than their species normally could be, so as to help stop the Rockets. I came to him with Sneasel, offering to let Professor Elm research Sneasel. I thought I was so convincing, so smooth. In the end though, Professor Elm stopped me, saying 'I appreciate the effort, but what makes your Sneasel any different than another Sneasel? There are a few Pokémon crooked by nature that have been raised into the polar opposite of their reputation, so what makes yours different than any of them? Furthermore, why do I need to stop my research to help stop the Rockets to examine your Sneasel? I'm up to my eyeballs in theories and speculation, and sifting through it is going to take me years, if I ever get through it all. I really don't have the time.'
His response didn't deter me, though. I pressed on 'Well, if you won't take Sneasel as a research subject, why not let me be your assistant? I'm good with taking in information, I type fast, and I figure, if it's going to take you ten years or so alone, with my help, we could cut it down to five!'
Professor Elm cracked a smile, but quickly hid it. However, I could tell he was hooked. 'Hmm... Tell you what... I could use someone like you. If I let you be my assistant, you'll need to be willing to travel a little bit for me on occasion. Not far, of course, but I really can't leave the lab right now, so having someone to run deliveries when they need to be made would be a lifesaver. Not to mention if you help me with my research. Oh, but, you'll have to okay it with your mother first.'
I used Elm's phone to call home, and my mother was delighted at the prospect of having me help with the Professor's research. Back then, as a dense little snot, I didn't really get why she was so happy, but I guess now it's because it delayed my journey for nearly a year.
Anyway, after my first few visits, I started noticing a girl hanging around the lab. Every time I saw her, and she saw that I saw her, she would duck behind something and disappear. Still, she was very pretty, so I didn't mind being spied on when I visited Professor Elm, which I'm sure you kids understand quite well. That summer, I decided I wanted to know her name, at least, so I sat down with Sneasel to plot and plan, though it was mainly me telling Sneasel what I thought could work, and him either nodding in agreement or shaking his head no. He did laugh at one idea, but it was a dumb one, in hindsight.
Here's how my harebrained plan unfolded. I had Sneasel go to the woods bordering New Bark Town, and wait while I was with Professor Elm helping on some research project of another. I borrowed a set of walkie-talkies from some neighborhood kids before coming to the lab, and gave one to Sneasel. Professor Elm, if he noticed, didn't comment, and I didn't bring it up. I waited until I saw her come up the road, and I managed to spot her from quite a ways off. I quickly looked away and acted busy, and told Sneasel to go in. I don't really know quite how he managed to herd her up to the lab and in, and I would imagine that it wasn't particularly kind, but I never pressed the issue.
Anyway, she comes running up with Sneasel on her heels, and I go into a convincing mock-scolding routine on Sneasel. He looks passably contrite, and I ask him to apologize to the girl. 'Only, I don't know your name...?'
Stupid way to get a name, I know, but hey, I was a real blockhead back then.
'Um, it's Lyra. And it's okay. I'm just glad he BELONGS to someone. Nothing's more scary than having a wild Pokémon run up at you from the woods.'
'Well, good. Uh, I'm Ethan, by the way.'
At this point, Professor Elm looked up from the papers he was absorbed in and noticed Lyra and I standing at the front door. He stood up, and said 'Oh? Hello there Lyra, I didn't know you were feeling better! Please, come on in.'
At this point, the girl, Lyra, flushed red a bit, but she didn't argue. I stepped aside and let her go in first, and gave Sneasel a quick high five while she wasn't looking. 'Ethan, this is Lyra. Her father was my assistant before he went off to the blockade, but Lyra here's been sick for a while, so her mother had her stay home.'
He turned his attention to her now, and said 'It's certainly good to see you again, I was beginning to miss you around the lab. Have you heard anything from your father?'
Now, the thing you have to understand about Lyra is that she was not a good liar, or even a good actress. She couldn't be anything or anyone but herself, exactly how she was feeling at that moment. Which is good, considering a blockhead like myself was her friend, and I could easily pick up on what she was thinking, but in this case, it really gave her away before she even started talking. She looked Professor Elm straight in the eye, something I would learn was a habit of hers, and said to him 'I... Well... That's why I came to see you today, Professor. Uh, you see, we heard that Father's section of the blockade got hit pretty hard, and...'
She broke off, her voice shaking, and a tear rolled down her face. She sat down, and the dam burst. Inferring the rest of her story, Professor Elm moved and shut the front door to the lab, and switched off the radio that we'd had in the background for most of the day. 'Lyra... I'm truly sorry. I feel your pain, I really do. Look, I'll try to be here as much as I can if you need to work through any of this, okay? And uh, for the times when I'm not available, I'm sure Ethan here would be willing to talk, or just sit and let you vent. His family moved here from Saffron City the day the Rockets took over, and his dad's currently stationed on the Route 28 sector, so I'm sure you two have a lot of shared experiences.'
I was a bit surprised at the last part. 'Shared experiences? What do you mean?'
Lyra answered, 'He means the whole refugee thing... We moved here from Celadon.'
Understanding, comradery, sympathy, and a bit of something else flooded me. 'Oh...' I remember sitting in that chair, positively screaming in my head think, you numbskull, think! Say something that will make this better, come on! I'm sure you kids know the feeling.
To make a short time out of a long silence, things were quiet save for the occasional small sob from Lyra. That is, they were quiet until I blurted out 'You know, I'm going to go on a journey to get strong, and one day, I'm going to turn things back to the way they were!'
I really don't know what possessed me to say that. I honestly and truly do not understand how my brain made the leap from 'Trying to Comfort Someone' to 'I'm going to be a Pokémon Master!' Anyway, as soon as I realized what I'd said, you don't want to know what I would have paid to just disappear. To make my embarrassment worse, Professor Elm looked at me like I had just slapped the ruler of a nation.
Lyra, however, reacted far differently than what I was expecting. She locked eyes with me and said 'I... I think I understand what you mean, Ethan... You want to be strong, so that... this... can't happen anymore. You want to stop the Rockets from hurting anyone else ever again...'
Now it was my turn to look dumbfounded. I slowly nodded, not sure if this was really happening.
Lyra's voice got a little less shaky. 'I understand that because, that's what I want too. I want so much to make them pay for all the evil they've done. I want to make them pay for what they've done to my family. And you get that, Ethan. I'm really, really glad you get that, because it's really getting me passionate enough to finally stand up and do something about it, and to prove everyone wrong about me.' She turned her piercing gaze to Professor Elm again. He looked a bit uncomfortable.
'Professor Elm, I haven't been honest with you, and neither has my mother. I haven't been sick. I'm fine. We got the news about Father a month ago. I was meaning to tell you, honest. But every time I worked up the courage to come over and tell you, I saw Ethan in your lab, helping you... It reminded me of what my father used to do, and I... I just couldn't bring myself to do it.'
She stood up suddenly, nearly knocking over her chair, and startling Sneasel. 'But now I can, and I have.' She gulped nervously.
'Professor, I know it was you who gave Gold his Cyndaquil five years ago. I know you also ended up letting your Totodile go to another Trainer. I... I want to ask you for the last of those starter Pokémon. I want to train your Chikorita, and become more than anything anyone back home ever expected of me. I know this is really sudden, but I really, really need to do this. Please, Professor?'
Professor Elm, leaned forward in his chair, and put his hands up to support his chin, and sighed. He looked much older than he was, and his chipper demeanor vanished, replaced by one of resignation and sadness. He stayed like that for a good minute or two, they got up, and walked to the far side of his lab, where a large machine with multiple drawers sat, alone and apparently forgotten. He opened one of the drawers, and grabbed a Poke Ball out of it. He stared at the ball in his hand for a moment, then walked back to Lyra and I.
'I can't refuse a Trainer a starter Pokémon if they're over the age limit of League participation, but to ask for this Pokémon specifically... Well, it brings up a lot of bad memories, Lyra.' He paused, as if trying to find the right words. 'Lyra... In memory and honor of your father, I'll give you this Chikorita, but you have to promise me two things.'
He adjusted his glasses, and plowed ahead. 'Number One. You have to let your mother know. She has to know, and agree to let you go. Knowing her, the last part of that will be really difficult, or rather, it would be were you on your own. That's where Number Two comes in. Number Two, I want you to train that Chikorita up well, until it's strong enough to take down the Violet City Gym Leader, Falkner. Considering he is a Flying-type user, that is no easy task, which is where the training comes in.'
He turned to me. 'Ethan, if you're willing, I want you and your Sneasel to spar with Lyra and her Chikorita, to get the both of them strong enough to do this. This will also help you, because this training will let the two of you take the Johto League challenge as well. Not only that, but it will give me fresh data to study on real, living, breathing Pokémon rather than dusty theories from coots who've never been Trainers before. Though, of course, that certainly takes backseat to your training... So, er... What do you think?'
I sat there for a minute or two, or maybe it was an hour or two, or perhaps a second, when Sneasel tapped my arm. I looked at him, he looked at me, and that one look was all I needed to know what to do. 'We'll do it.'
So from then on, Lyra and I started working together. We spent a year and a half training and sparring against one another, until the point where Sneasel and Chikorita were so evenly matched that a battle between them could last over three hours and still be nail-bitingly close all the way through. In the fall, I gathered up enough money from doing odd jobs around Cherrygrove to buy a brand new Pokegear, and Lyra and I were connected almost all the time we weren't training, or talking. In the beginning, it was just awkward, all training with stiff conversation, if any. As that year progressed, we ended up becoming more comfortable, and sometimes we would meet up just to talk. It was around this time I think we switched from sparring partners to friends, and perhaps even rivals. Her mother and Professor Elm scrutinized our training every now and then, and I could tell that her mother was impressed by how far her daughter had come. As for my mother, and my sister... Well, they had accepted that I was going to take the League challenge almost immediately after I told them about the situation with Lyra. Mom seemed a bit reluctant, but in the end she resigned herself to the fact that I was following in my father's footsteps, and gave me all her support.
Lyra and I would talk about our lives before Team Rocket, which was difficult for her at first because of losing her father, but became easier as I shared more about my life, and even my family, which was a subject she, understandably, avoided. Over the earliest part of the winter, we got really close... And, I think that's as far as I'm going in this part of the story. Suffice it to say that something changed between us in the last few weeks before we were to leave, though I'm not sure either of us really knew what it was back then. At least I didn't. Lyra may have. She was always the smarter of the two of us.
The night I turned fourteen was when this change happened. The next day, we set off on our journeys. But it wasn't going to be an easy road, for sure."
Chapter 2 - Rough Start
Ethan shifted a bit in his rocking chair, and reached for his pipe. The group of teenagers didn't mind the smoke, mostly because it smelled a hundred times better than what they were used to. After packing it full, lighting it, and taking a few puffs, Ethan sighed contentedly.
"Okay... I'm ready to continue now. Next, I'll tell you about the League challenge. Since this is mostly my story, and Gym Leaders in my day wouldn't let spectators who were going to battle them later watch the fights, I can't tell you about Lyra's battles, except that she one against every Gym Leader she went up against. Honestly, she was probably the stronger of the two of us. Deep down, Sneasel was a lover, not a fighter. We'd never fought other Pokémon, or had any desire to. We coasted by in peace, or at least the illusion of peace. Not Lyra though... She was a natural battler, and was fueled by her desire for vengeance. I was as well, to a lesser degree, but in an all-out battle at her peak, I couldn't pull out the victory.
He chuckled, puffed on his pipe again, and continued.
We left the day after I turned fourteen. She met me at the gate to Cherrygrove, accompanied by her mother, and Professor Elm. They met me, my mother, and my sister, and we walked through the city, to the path that leads north to Route 30. Once there, our families said goodbye, and Professor Elm approached us both. He gave us two little devices, called Databases. He then said, 'In days past, I would have given you both a Pokedex to help catalog the Pokémon of Johto, but since this journey isn't about that, and since we have a complete Database for Johto already, there's no need. These portable Databases feed directly into the mainframe in my lab, and I can update it with any new information you want or need. I figure having a Database at your fingertips will help you train up well.'
He then had us enter his number into our Pokegears, then said his goodbyes. It was about one in the afternoon when we finally hit Route 30. Now, I don't know if you kids have been up to Violet City, but there's a fair bit of tall grass, and a generally upward-sloping terrain. It's grassy and green for the most part as well, but there are a few craggy spots and slopes, which makes sense considering Route 30, 31, 45, and 46 are all coming down from Mount Silver. Anyway, we walked for a few hours straight, taking in the sights and talking. I had heard that Route 30 used to be a hotspot for young Trainers to see how their Pokémon handled in battle, but it was deserted now. The main path was blocked off by some fallen trees from a storm that had kicked up in that springtime weather, so we had to detour and take a more northeasterly path. This led through the small patch of woods where Bug Pokémon abounded. Sneasel's eyes were shifting every which way all at once, and he was growing more and more agitated at the Pokémon he could see but we couldn't.
We got to a small clearing where the forest led back onto the main road again, but by this time, we were hungry. We spotted a nice flat rock underneath a huge oak tree, and laid a blanket down on it; mine, if I remember right. We had a nice picnic lunch, and for Chikorita and Sneasel, we found some Oran Berries growing on a tree nearby. We were just finishing up, when something happened.
Lyra said to me 'Hey, be quiet for a second... Do you hear something?'
I stopped, and listened to the sounds of the wildlife around us. All seemed normal until I heard it... Buzzing. A whole lot of angry buzzing. 'Huh... Yeah, I do. It's a buzzing sound. Maybe we should get out of here...'
But I had spoken too late. See, we were making so much noise, we must have disturbed a Beedrill hive, because out came two pissed off Beedrill. Naturally, the sight of two very large bees with huge stinging spikes aimed at us scared the daylights out of us, and we ran. Lyra scooped up Chikorita, and Sneasel jumped on my back, and we bolted. We didn't even grab my blanket, which I missed something awful later on. We just kept on running, but it was no use. The Beedrill were right behind us, and they weren't letting us get an inch of distance on them. We made for the main road when Lyra tripped.
I saw it in slow motion, and I skidded to a stop. The Beedril zoomed straight at her, and the only thought in my mind was protecting her. I guess Sneasel thought of that too, because he jumped off and ran towards the two much larger Pokémon, growling and baring his diminutive, but still very sharp fangs. To this day, I don't know how he pulled it off, but as I'm running, I'm yelling like an idiot 'Sneasel, stop them!'
I had no idea what Sneasel could do to stop them, and frankly, I wasn't too concerned about it. But Sneasel did something amazing. He inhaled a deep breath, then exhaled a heavy mist. The Beedril moved straight into it, unconcerned, when all of a sudden they dropped to the ground. They were confused, naturally, and I saw that their wings were shining, and also not moving. Sneasel then ran up, dodging their stinger spikes, and gave them a good dose of Fury Swipes each. As that mist dissipated, the Beedrill awkwardly hopped away, and Sneasel crowed with pride.
I helped Lyra up, and thankfully, both she and Chikorita were unhurt. 'What was that that Sneasel did? I've never seen him do that in our battles...'
I paused to consider her question, then remember my Database. Turns out, Sneasel had just used a technique called Icy Wind, which chills the air temporarily to cause indirect damage to the Pokémon you're fighting. And apparently, it iced wings as well. I relayed this to Lyra, and she smiled her wonderful smile, and thanked Sneasel for saving us.
After resting a bit from that unexpected encounter, we looked up, and saw the road. We set out again for Violet City, and about half an hour later, our Pokegears confirmed we'd reached Route 31. We walked for about four hours up the craggy area up by the Violet Gate, and entered in, feeling confident and secure.
Now, as I understand it, Violet's Sprout Tower has been rebuilt since it burned, but when we arrived, it had been burned down. The monks were temporarily being housed in the Inn there, but were in deep mourning due to the loss of the Elder in the blaze. The day was closing fast when we got in, so we went to the Pokémon Center and stayed the night. The next morning, Lyra and Chikorita met us looking refreshed, and ready to take on the Gym Leader of Violet, Falkner. We were in for a bit of a surprise once we got there though.
We walked in to find Falkner talking with a Gym Trainer. When he saw us, he excused himself, and came over to us. 'Hey there, you two. You guys interested in challenging the Gym?'
We nodded, and he continued 'Alright, so I guess we'll do two battles... Hmm... I can work you in in three days, cause we're pretty busy as of late. You,' he said, pointing to Lyra, 'will go first. After our battle, you,' pointing to me, 'and I will battle. Of course, that's not including time between healing up my Pokémon. So, where are you guys from?'
I answered first. 'Saffron, originally. My family moved to Cherrygrove back when things got bad.'
Lyra spoke up next. 'I'm from Celadon, but my family moved to New Bark.'
Falkner stopped here, and looked thoughtfully at a databoard he had in his hands. 'Okay, I think I know just the Pokémon to take your challenges with.'
'Whoa whoa whoa,' I interjected. 'Pokémon? Plural? I thought Gym Battles were knockout battles.'
Falkner laughed. 'Well, most standard Gym Battles were knockout battles back a few years ago, but in the new League, we're allowed to pick our battle styles, so at my Gym, we do Double Battles. First to knock out both of the opponent's Pokémon wins. You... do... have other Pokémon besides these two, don't you?'
Lyra glanced at me, and I looked at my shoes. Finally, she answered 'Uh, no, we don't. We didn't even get any Pokeballs, since Cherrygrove's Pokemart is out of Pokeballs.'
Falkner reached into his pocket and pulled out a money clip. He peeled off twelve notes, and gave six each to us. 'This,' he said, 'will cover three Pokeballs apiece at the Violet City Pokemart. They don't normally sell to greenhorn Trainers, but tell them I sent you, and they'll sell to you. You have until your appointment times to find at least one other Pokémon to use in your challenge, and to train them up. If you catch more than that, more power to ya, but you need to catch at least one other Pokémon, or else you can't challenge my Gym. That clear?'
We agreed to that, and set out for the Pokemart just up the road. We each bought three Pokeballs, and left the store. 'That sure was nice of Falkner to give us the money to buy the Pokeballs,' Lyra said with her nose buried in her Pokegear's map. 'I think I'm going to go up to Route 36 and look around up there. You don't have to come if you don't want to.'
I thought about it for a moment, and then said 'That's a good idea, actually. I'm going to wander around a bit, maybe check out Route 31, or maybe Route 32. If you find something, call and let me know, okay?'
She smiled. 'Okay, deal. Good luck, Ethan!'
I bet you anything I blushed when I returned the sentiment. Thankfully though, Lyra and Chikorita ran off to Route 36, and I decided to go south to Route 32. Route 32 was a nice area at one point in time, but not when I visited. The old Magnet Train railway that passed over Route 32 was destroyed, and chunks of concrete and long steel girders poked out of the mucky water. I spied a few Grimer wandering around near the shoreline, and I decided not to go that way. Instead, I walked through the grass where the forest was nicer, and the air healthier. I startled a couple Caterpie, who promptly ran and hid, but no wild Pokémon jumped out to impede my progress through their home for a good thirty minutes. Then, out popped a Wooper. My mind flashed back to the Beedril, and I instantly had a battle plan.
I had Sneasel go against the Wooper, and they danced around for a bit. For a Pokémon with no arms, it was surprisingly agile. However, Sneasel landed a few key blows using his Quick Attack, and Wooper began to noticeably tire. Towards the end of Wooper's strength, I called Sneasel off, and approached Wooper. 'Hey there, little Wooper. You fought really well. But we won, and I want you to come with us.'
I took out a Pokeball, tapped it on Wooper's head, and threw it in the air. Wooper zoomed up into the ball, and it landed on the ground, shaking back and forth. Finally, Wooper stopped fighting the ball, and I caught it. I did quite a dance, if I recall. I called Sneasel back, and walked back up to Violet City to have Nurse Joy heal up my two little warriors, all the while lost in daydreams about how I would take down Falkner. I called Lyra and said something vague about having caught something, and that I was going to heal them up so they'd look good when I showed her my team later. She told me to get a move on, and hung up. I didn't really understand what she meant, but oh well.
So, imagine my surprise when I walk into the Pokémon Center and Lyra's waiting there, grinning sheepishly. She said 'I found a cute Pokémon that is also really strong. Chikorita and my new team member are in there getting healed up. Go ahead and put Sneasel and your new team member in there as well, and we can go grab dinner or something while we wait. I'm starving.'
So, we walked down to a nice little place off of the main street of Violet City, which would have been in the shadow of Sprout Tower had it not have been burned down. We ate a nice meal, and an hour later returned to the Pokémon Center. I called out Sneasel, Lyra called out Chikorita, and then we grinned. I let Lyra go first.
'Okay... Here's my new team member!' She threw her second Pokeball, and out came a Growlithe.
'Wow! That's awesome, Lyra! Was he tough to catch?'
'She was quite a handful catching, yes, but Chikorita pulled through in the end.'
I blushed at my mistake, but shook it off, and threw my second Pokeball. Wooper came out all smiles, but he saw Lyra's Chikorita and ran behind my leg. I guess he could tell a strong Pokémon when he saw one. 'This shy one is Wooper. He put up a really good fight, but we won, so he's with us now. What's more, I know just how to take Falkner down with Sneasel and Wooper.' I was ecstatic, and Lyra was happy too.
'Now,' she said with a smirk, 'we have two whole days to train up. You game?'
I smiled back. 'Definitely.'"
Last edited by dbcification; March 10th, 2012 at 07:08 PM. Reason: re-grammaring to match new style
Glad to see you finally wrote it! And glad to see myself finally review it, because I read this two days ago and I just got seriously lazy. Gah, I need to get into reviewing more...
Why are you bashing on OT fics? Show them some love man! Hell, a fic is a fic. It's not that OT fics in general are bad, it's that all fics in general aren't that great. You'll see that a lot in fanfiction, so yeah, your story is an OT fic and you'll call it accordingly. There are some brilliant ones and some terrible ones, but that's just how things are. Blah, blah, blah pointless ranting over.
You have two chapters in one post. I don't see the point of it since you can merge both those chapters into a single chapter. It's a lot less confusing if you do so. That reminds me, the point of view is seriously wacky. You've got third person at some points, old person reminiscent and talking, then to past first person. It gets really, really weird. I think you wanted to describe Ethan as an old man and telling a story, but that seems pointless. The only thing it accomplished was taking readers out of the viewpoint. Some of it is clear that it's flat out dialogue, though you are missing quotation marks. The beginning of chapter two starts with Ethan beginning his story up again, then to him talking, then later on, it's his perspective in the past. It's jumpy.
Stick with one point of view and stay with it. Now, the whole old person talking about his childhood/adventures hasn't been used too often in fanfiction, and I think it's really hard to pull off. It gets boring if the old man is just rambling on and on, quite evident with the obscure word or so showing his diction and mannerisms. These words take the readers out of the viewpoint, which I think I said already. Viewpoint is essential in winning the reader's interest and confidence. A reader's relationship with the viewpoint character is how reader's take the story. With the viewpoint disjointed, it screws up everything the readers think and they get angry and punch their computer screen. Don't make the readers punch their computer screens, or we could get a lawsuit. Okay, all kidding aside, the narrative is important. If your viewpoint character is boring, the story is boring. And boring can be used as a substitute on any mad lib or whatever. Don't screw up the viewpoint. Also, it's far more interesting to just see Ethan's view of how he did it without his grandpappy-ness. That's honestly my opinion, but when you start adding things like Ethan smoked his pipe, or anything pointless like that, I really get taken out of what was happening and what he was talking about. The tone seriously dies and I find Ethan to be dull. And some excerpts!
A weird thing is that you have Gold, Red, and all the other colors, but Ethan is Gold. Technically speaking, that is. Same sprites, same person, so it got confusing. I kept thinking that this was the same person and Ethan just went insane and talked in the third person like a douche. And that bit of history? I can't really complain about it, but I thought how much more interesting it would have been if you just dived into the story with Ethan starting out with a Sneasel as the Rocket regime began. Meh, I had to say it. Putting readers into the action is a lot more interesting than just telling them. Like a "You had to be there" moment.
And here come the concept things. Professor Elm is researching how to make Pokemon stronger? Training exists. That's how they get stronger, not from genetics. Every Pokemon is different depending on how they're trained, not because you gave a Snorlax some steroids and turned all its fat into muscles. A Pokemon can be as strong as it wants, the species doesn't matter. "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Determination, will, effort, training, those are what determine how strong a Pokemon is.
Ah, Ethan. You're such an idiot. You try to make it obvious that Ethan likes Lyra, or at least attracted to her or something. "I blushed", "She's pretty", etc. My main problem with that was it didn't really define much about Ethan as a character. I can imagine him as a redneck chewing dip. Anyway, I get that he's a real doofus. I don't see much else of his personality though. Probably cocky, maybe, and that's all I can really get. Then again, it's hard to characterize someone from your viewpoint(s), so yeah... Try to give him some more background.
Oh and Lyra's father died. Emotions? Not much. It's a big event. Big events deserve more word space and more description and emotions. These scenes are big parts in developing your characters. Saying she cried doesn't tell me much. Telling us how Ethan stood in the corner and hoped that one day, he wouldn't end up like that but he couldn't tell her that because he didn't want to make it worse. Or maybe Ethan went over and patted her on the back. Thoughts are key, and most of them are missing. We do get slices of opinion from the elderly, but it's still limited and the important parts are the ones lacking thoughts. And word choice in that crying paragraph is a bit of an issue. You say, "the dam burst". Whoop, a dam burst? Yeah, yeah, I know it's a metaphor but the description isn't adequate for a scene such as this. I'll repeat a bit of what I said, but try adding in more character as they perform actions. Maybe Lyra furiously wiped her tears away, but both the Professor and Ethan saw the way her lip quivered vigorously. Or she just broke down. They speak volumes about her personality and also the scene itself.
And "Databases" is a stupid substitute. Harsh words, ooo. If you remember watching the Pokemon anime, the PokeDex was always completed for Ash so they're fine. Remember to take into consideration of all canons, not just game canon.
Ah, Falkner. He has double battles, so why didn't he allow both the trainers to battle at the same time? That makes a lot more sense and he saves a lot more time doing that. Duh. The subsequent scene with Wooper is also a very big deal. It's Ethan's first catch. I see a lot of writers make this mistake and not put enough emphasis on their first catch. Describe it more. Put some emotion. We want to know what went through his mind. We want to know how his first catch went down to the exact detail to every little grain of sand. Okay, not literally but you get the point.
A few times, your dialogue is a bit wooden. It doesn't sound realistic. Of course, the remedy is easy. Read over your story and say it out loud. And don't imagine yourself saying it out loud, it doesn't work that way. Speak it and if the wording is awkward, like if you stumble on a sentence, there's a problem there. This applies to everything, not just dialogue. Actually, your whole story is a long piece of dialogue so read it out loud and make sure your prose isn't awkward.
And the ending is hanging. It doesn't end like a cliffhanger, it just didn't feel like an ending. Nothing was wrapped up and it stops right in the middle of something. I can't say anymore than that, but I'd highly suggest that you do something different with it.
I did enjoy some bits, mainly the concept of the Rocket invasion. However, the delivery could use some work. Narrative is mixed up and jumbled, some words just don't fit in with the whole flow of the story, and parts of it are wooden. I do know what happens at the end, so I think that the interactions between the characters need a lot more work. Ethan should be nostalgic, in my opinion. He's got all this stuff, adventure, youth, and that hangs in his memory and he should be happy about it. He saved the Pokemon World. The way you put it did not convey that kind of feeling. It was just... bland. What's even worse is that the narrative is in first person (I'm assuming you're gonna use that), so emotions are a really big thing. Everything your character does, we imagine. Everything he sees, we see. You have to put that stuff in, otherwise it gets boring quick.
And this review is getting really long and I'm starting to feel weird. Hopefully, it wasn't too harsh for you first review. Oh well. I feel like I shouldn't care too much about that; it's such a trivial manner. And that made me sound so heartless. Anyway, keep improving on the delivery of the story and I'll be sure to see how well you execute later on!
The thing on OT fics... I've read a lot of good OT fics, and a lot of bad OT fics. I just don't like calling anything like what I'm writing anything that's so polarized, if that makes sense.
The two chapters in one post thing is mainly because I was exhausted, and needed that natural breaking point between them when I was writing. I didn't correct it (though a few things you pointed out were corrected when I ran it through Word to nab spelling and grammar errors, don't understand how that version didn't end up being what I posted.
The point of view thing is staying, period. It frames the story, and every point of view has a story to tell. Promise. It isn't evident from the first two chapters, of course, but I'm going to tell several stories in this fic, one in the past, as being recalled by Ethan (which in and of itself is naturally wandering, since that's how my great grandfather used to tell his war stories (he especially liked the one about running from one of Hitler's generals in "Afriker" during WWII)), one in the present, which has yet to really do more than poke its head out, and another in the present and future, which hasn't been addressed yet at all.
I understand how the speech patterns and framing I've chosen makes the story slow to start, but I'm willing to bet that when I'm done it will pay off. I guess why you get a vibe that some parts are wooden and not exciting is that I'm emulating how my great-grandfather told his stories. The title of Chapter One actually is something I said a few times when I was a kid... There's a bit of nostalgia in it for me as well. I'd just want you to hold off on stylistic judgment until I'm done with the story, since it hasn't had time to really unfold. The narration is by Ethan, who is uncomfortable with telling his story, for reasons I'll tell later. It made sense to me for him to be a little stiff, and a bit uncomfortable. He's also trying to relate to the group he's telling the story to, even through it's been over half a century since he was their age, all while trying to keep his nostalgia, and the bad memories of back then, from overwhelming him.
Course, starting up has always been a problem of mine. Some of my best papers have been ones where I've gotten so fed up with the introduction that I've just scrapped it, and believe me, I considered that. But I'm sticking with this one, because I know it can work.
Thank you for the review though!
Last edited by dbcification; March 6th, 2012 at 06:35 PM.
Saying it will get better doesn't guarantee it will get better. Personally, I hate it when writers say that. "If it's not good yet, it will get better, I promise!" Yeah, it's a slow start, I guess. But accepting that it's like that and all your other works will have similar introductions is defeatist. As long as I can remember going in libraries to check out books, I've always been taught never to judge a book by its cover. Instead, I'm supposed to judge them by the first few pages or so. If I don't notice I've kept reading through the first chapter, then I'll check it out. On the other hand, if I find that I'm not interested or the story just isn't to my tastes, I'll put it back on the shelf. The first few pages have a big job: To captivate readers and force them to continue reading, even if they don't want to. But as long as they don't know that, the introduction did its job well. Stylistically, it has to be solid from the beginning. You know, first impressions. If I get this from the beginning, then I'd expect something similar later on, you get where this is going? If anything can be improved, take that opportunity to polish it. Don't sit around and think it'll get better later on. Readers are hard to keep.
There are a few sites where I surf for random anime shows, because I get that bored sometimes. It's funny because the most viewed episode is the first. Actually, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The first episode will start to give viewers about what this show is about and what kind it is, etc. It answers all the questions within 20-25 minutes. Every single minute is crucial. Not even a second can be wasted, otherwise you lose viewers. And sure enough, the second episodes usually have a big drop in views, and later on and so forth, the trend continues. This applies with stories too, in case you didn't notice. This story isn't an essay or a paper, it's a work of fiction. People don't have to read it and some won't want to. That's why introductions are so damn important. If the first chapter doesn't interest people, why would they bother following it? So keep that in mind whenever you start up something new or whatever.
Okay, point of view is explained, wonderful. You can tell me everything about it, but it won't mean a thing if it's implemented too late. By then, like I said before, you will confuse readers with all these jumps. Cool, every view has a story. That's fantastic. Show it to me then. Don't hold off stuff until later, tell readers everything at the beginning. Tell us how the story works, what it's all about, etc. Your introduction is the frame of your story. It's the building blocks on which you stack upon. If it's a weak foundation, your pile collapses and you get a mess. What's even worse is that you had two chapters written so far, yet I only see one story.
Some questions are good, like ones about the plot. "What's gonna happen next?" Other questions are bad. Though, I can pretty much guess why Ethan isn't comfortable. It made sense to you, but not to the readers. Then again, that could qualify as a "good question" so whatever. I didn't really see Ethan being uncomfortable though. Oh well.
Well, I'm writing Chapter 3 right now (taking a short breather because my writing sessions are rather intense), so hopefully you'll start to see my grand design for this fic poking through... Course, I can't give everything away too early. Chapter 3 would be far, far too soon to reveal some of the stuff we talked about in the Plot Bunny thread, for instance.
Edit - Chapter 3 is up! Let me know if you think I should edit the main post with each subsequent chapter, or have each chapter be its own post.
Last edited by dbcification; March 6th, 2012 at 08:51 PM.
Chapter 3 - You call that a battle?!
"So, let me just skip ahead a bit. I'm sure you're not interested to hear about Lyra and me sparring again. It's the day of the challenge. We meet up in front of the Gym about half an hour before Lyra's challenge time, and I wish her good luck. See, Falkner had this rule, where Trainers in a travelling group who were challenging the Gym before their group left had to come into it blind. That is to say, I couldn't watch Lyra's battle with Falkner, even though she came to cheer me on for mine.
I sat in the lobby, nervously waiting for both the results of Lyra's challenge, and my turn as well. Sneasel looked about the same as I felt, but he played it off better. Wooper... Well, Wooper never did care much about any sort of pressure. To say that Wooper was always happy would be like saying the moon is really big compared to a Spinarak. We waited around for about ten minutes, when Lyra came running out of the main battle area of the Gym, a Zephyr Badge in hand. Looking back, I never should have been worried. Lyra, from that point in Violet onward, was always a cut above me, like I said earlier. We congratulated her, but I got such a knot in my stomach that I felt like I was going to lose it right there. Fortunately, I didn't, and Lyra went up to the viewing section to cheer me on.
We walked into a very strange room. It was open to the sky, though there was some sort of mechanical roofing to keep the elements out. That day, though, it was sunny and cloudless, the perfect climate for a battle. Falkner officially explained his Gym's rules, and asked me if I agree. I said I did. He introduced the referee for our match, an old man who looked suspiciously like the monks displaced from Sprout Tower. I gulped nervously, and the battle began. Falkner chose a Spearow and a Pidgeotto to go against Wooper and Sneasel.
Now, I have to tell you, most people would try to make their first Gym battle into some sort of epic struggle that was down to the wire and lets them come off as a triumphant conqueror. I'm not doing any of that. This battle was cake, really. My strategy was for Wooper to use his Water Gun to soak Falkner's birds' wings, then have Sneasel use Icy Wind to bring them down to the ground, where they'd be easy pickings. The battle lasted all of fifteen minutes, mostly because I timed the Icy Wind too early and ended up showing my hand before I could ground Pidgeotto. Spearow went down quite easily, but Pidgeotto was clearly a good notch or two stronger. I think it was pure luck that Pidgeotto flew into Wooper's Water Gun, but as soon as I saw it, I had an Icy Wind blow, and the battle was over.
Falkner was obviously discouraged to be beaten twice in a row by novice Trainers, but I think the strategist in him appreciated my approach. I never did ask him about that. So, he handed me a Zephyr Badge, and we were on-"
"Hold up, Gramps!"
Ethan looked up at the oldest boy in the group, Lyle. He was agitated for some reason. "That was the lamest excuse for a battle I've ever heard of! You froze his birds so he gave you the badge? Seriously?!"
Ethan stared him down until he sat back down in his seat, the said, "If it sounds lame to you, too bad. That's how it happened. No Pokémon that has wings can fly when it's icy. If they try, their wings get coated in ice, and they fall out of the sky. So it was with Falkner. He didn't want his birds getting hurt, so he called them out as soon as their wings had been coated. Now, don't interrupt me from now on, or else you'll all have to wait a few days until I've forgotten why I was angry with you. Understand?"
Lyle was contrite, and they others followed suit, at least in appearance. Inside, they were furious. Lyle was certainly going to get a talking to when they left.
The youngest kid in the group spoke up. His name was Brandon. "Please go on with the story, Gramps! We really want to know more! But, uh... We know how the League works, you see. That's why Lyle got upset, right Lyle?"
Lyle nodded in affirmation.
"Yeah, so... I don't know, could you just get to the good parts, like where things we wouldn't know about are?"
Ethan sighed, and leaned back in his chair, puffing on his pipe. "I guess you would know about the League. However, you did sign up for my story the way I want to tell it. Personally, I'd like to talk about the League experiences, but I guess they have to be exciting to be worth anything. That'll rule out Azalea and Goldenrod's Gym challenges... But, there are important things along the way, so you'll just have to put up with it."
He puffed a little more, then continued with his story.
"Alright then... So, after the Violet Gym challenge, Lyra and I made our way to Azalea Town by way of Route 32 and Union Cave. Union Cave is something I'd like to talk about in particular. That's where I met two of my other Pokémon, Sandshrew and Zubat. I was actually looking for a Sandshrew because this kid down the street from us in Saffron had one, and it could do all sorts of neat things... But I'm getting carried away. After I caught Sandshrew, I stumbled around in the dark only to bump into a Zubat. Lyra's Growlithe lit up the area, and I saw the Zubat looked a bit weird. Zubats, as you know, are grey. But this one... It was almost green. Very dark green, mind you, like moss, but still definitely green. I decided I'd like to have a Pokémon that cool, so I caught her.
Union Cave also held something much more sinister than new friends. Ever since I moved to Cherrygrove, I'd heard the kids who came down to the coast from Violet talk about this strange Pokémon that lives deep in the cave, called Lapras. I thought they were bluffing, at least at first, but the day we went into Union Cave I had an encounter with one. We were really close to the end, guided by a very helpful Hiker we met as we stumbled around, when a haunting cry came up from the depths of the cave. It almost sounded like the cave was a Pokémon, and it was crying while we were inside of it. As it turns out, there's a river flowing through Union Cave and out to the north, and some bad people were trying to capture a baby Lapras. Its mother was making a huge uproar, and giving them quite the fight. I guess they were Team Rocket, or at least sympathizers, because there were a few of those in Johto at the time. Lyra and I stepped in to stop them, and they took us on with some Pokémon that I've since learned came from Sinnoh. One was called Stunky, and the other was Croagunk. It was an odd fight, really, because these two didn't really seem to know how to fight a Trainer, much less two.
They got destroyed, and under threat of bodily harm, they left. I'd never seen Lyra so angry before, but I guess they hit a raw nerve, what with her dad and all. Nothing else eventful happened, except the Lapras sang a little tune in thanks before we left. We made it to Azalea, and actually took on Bugsy in a double battle, earning us both the Hive Badge at the same time. Now for Ilex Forest.
There's a lot I could say about that place. There's some that isn't my story to tell, and some that I plain don't want to talk about, and you'll have to live with it.
We walked into the forest, and the trees were shaking really fiercely, as if a hurricane was blowing in. Only problem with that was that there was no wind. The trees were angry, and it freaked us out a bit. We had to push on to get to Goldenrod, so we did. We wandered through the forest for hours, until it was almost too dark to see. To make matters worse, all sorts of nocturnal Pokémon were stirring, and most of the time all we could see of them were glowing sets of eyes. Real unnerving. Then, we came up to a clearing. In this clearing was a man dressed in black, holding a black bag. He was standing in front of a small shrine, which, for anyone who's been to Ilex Forest before, you know that shrine is in honor of the protector of the forest.
The man had a Houndoom with him. He didn't seem to notice us, and we tried to keep it that way. He ordered his Houndoom to burn the shrine to the ground until they found something. Just before it happened, both Lyra and I got severe headaches, and the world went black for a second. The next second, the strangest thing I've ever seen was before my eyes. It was a ghost, of some kind. It looked like the legendary Keeper of Time and protector of the forest, Celebi, but it was clearly dead. It just floated there, and then beckoned us to approach the shrine. I looked away from it towards the shrine, and the man was gone. Lyra noticed a second before I did, and made note of that. We walked up to the shrine, and waited.
The ghostly Celebi just looked mournfully at the shrine, until the trees began to rustle and creak in that angry way again. Then, we saw a Celebi warp out of thin air in front of the Shrine. If it saw us, it paid us no mind. It was severely burned, and it was quite obvious movement was painful for it, let alone anything else. It set a medium sized egg, pure and green, in the center of the shrine, Before falling to the ground. We heard a harsh barking, and out sped a Houndoom, and the same man in black. My blood ran cold, because this sideways piece of garbage had a brazen, red R on his chest. Then, as soon as the headache came on, it came again, and we were standing at the edge of the clearing, as the Houndoom prepared its unquenchable fire.
I wasn't about to stand for it. 'Hey, you! Just what do you think you're doing?!'
The man and Houndoom stopped, and turned to face us. He was unshaven, his hair unkempt and dirty, but I'll never forget his face. In the years after my story, I looked through a mugshot book of former Team Rocket members given to me by the Kanto Police Force for this guy. He had no name. He was simply called Mr. Zero. He was a master Pokémon thief, and one of Giovanni's executives before Red defeated him. Mr. Zero must have been travelling for some time. I don't know why he was going to burn the shrine down, but I had a pretty good idea of what was in the sack.
He smiled a twisted smile that was more like someone spitting on you than someone smiling at you. 'Well, well, what have we here? Two little lovebirds lost in the forest? Too bad. I can't have anyone witness this. You're not going anywhere.' His voice had a slight drawl to it, but it was cold and cruel. With a snap, he set Houndoom after us. The fight was a tough one, and part of Lyra's Chikorita head leaf was burned away. It never grew back. In the end though, we won, considering how many of our Pokémon were out attacking this Houndoom. When it went down, Mr. Zero called it back to an old, worn Pokeball and began scolding it for being a failure. He then made a move toward the shrine, one he would regret, because in that moment, Sneasel leapt into action.
I'm telling you straight, I did not set Sneasel on this guy. Sneasel went after him himself. Scratched him up pretty good, and eventually, he ran away. I heard a rumor a few years later that he'd died some week after our encounter, but I... I don't think that Sneasel caused it."
Ethan stopped, his brow furrowed. "I think that's enough for today. If you want to hear more, come back tomorrow."
The group complained a bit, but finally, all of them left, except for Brandon. Ethan had begun to walk back to another room of his house when he noticed Brandon still sitting in his chair. "What is it, Brandon?"
Brandon fidgeted nervously, then said, "Well Gramps, everyone else is going to apply to get a starter Pokémon tomorrow, and I just know they're all going to get one. But I'm too young, and I'm afraid they're going to leave me behind when they go for the League Challenge. I know you were a really strong Trainer, so... Could you help me catch a Pokémon so I won't be left alone here?"
Ethan stopped, and rubbed his chin for a moment. "What's so bad about being alone? When I was your age, I was alone, and it gave me character. You're not going to have any opportunity to be alone once you become a Pokémon trainer, regardless of whether you're too young to become one right now. Why do you want to shorten the time where you truly are alone with your thoughts and dreams and goals? Why give it up?"
He sighed. "Look... I'm sorry. That was a bit harsh of me. Tell you what. On Friday night, we'll head up Route 30 to the pond. There are a lot of Pokémon that gather around that pond at night. I've even heard the Poliwag are back. What do you say?"
Brandon was ecstatic. "I say yes! This is awesome! Thank you so much, Gramps! You're the greatest!"
And with that, Brandon left, giddy and excited about Friday.
A medium-sized dark figure walked into the room where Ethan had sat down. It put a clawed hand on Ethan's arm, and smiled a smile worn by age, still bright and cheerful as it was years before.
Last edited by dbcification; March 10th, 2012 at 07:10 PM. Reason: re-grammaring to match new style
Chapter 4 - The Egg and the Forest
The night passed, and the next day, the group was waiting on Ethan's doorstep impatiently at nine o'clock. He, on the other hand, was determined to sleep till nine-thirty, a fact that exasperated his eager audience. They sat down in his living room about five minutes past nine-thirty, and Ethan was immediately besieged by questions about the egg.
He grumbled a bit, and said grumpily, "Alright, alright, I'll tell you what happened to the egg. But, I'm only telling a little of it, because the rest of the story isn't something that I'm willing to discuss. That's how it's going to work. No more questions after that, okay?"
The group agreed, and Ethan settled into a more comfortable position before diving back into his memories.
"We were really unsure of what to do after chasing the man in black off, so we called Professor Elm and explained the situation as best we could without the ghost of a Celebi appearing. We told him about the egg, and he mused over it for a while. Eventually, he decided one of us should take it for safe keeping. He recommended a couple places around Johto that specialized in Pokémon breeding. He suggested that one of them could better take care of the egg, and we agreed. Lyra took the egg and put it in her bag to keep it safe, and we booked it out of that forest. Ilex Forest is an unnerving place, especially when something of that magnitude happens in it. We had no idea what we were getting into at the time.
We emerged safely out on Route 34, and walked for the better part of the day towards Goldenrod. When we were about an hour out, a couple things happened. Lyra spotted an Abra, and caught it. During the battle, her Chikorita evolved into a Bayleef. We spotted a building on the side of the road advertising itself as a Pokémon Day-Care about five minutes later. However, when we got there, it was closed. The sign on the door said that the couple that ran it had passed away, and the Day-Care was going to be temporarily out of business.
Professor Elm had also told us about a Pokémon breeding ranch near Olivine City, so Lyra took off for it. I heard in later Gym battles that she thrashed Whitney and Morty along the way. She did all this in the span of me hanging around in Goldenrod until the next Bug Catching Contest, and beating Whitney. She'd call every night to give me an update, but for some reason she never told me about the Gym victories. I guess she was being nice to me since I was moving so slowly in comparison to her.
That reminds me... In that Bug Catching Contest I waited around for, I caught a Scyther. It wasn't really a fair fight, since it had a broken wing already, and because of that we didn't win first place, but that wasn't important. Scyther was one tough cookie, let me tell you... After training Scyther up with help from the rest of my Pokémon, we took on the Gym. Whitney was a very boring fight. It was all single battles. Her Miltank never stood a chance against Scyther's overwhelming speed. I think I saw a hint of tears, but I cleared out of there fast because I wanted to catch up to Lyra.
As I continued up Route 35 to get to the junction between Violet, Ecruteak, and Goldenrod on Route 36, my progress was blocked by a huge swarm of Yanma, led by a particularly nasty Yanmega. Now don't get me wrong, I was a very competent Trainer back in my day. I could take any opponent in a fair fight. But fifty to five is not a fair fight, so I decided we should all just run. Unfortunately, not being familiar with the lay of the land on Route 35 got me caught in a corner by the angry swarm. I thought for sure we were done for, but I wasn't going to go quietly. We fought off some twenty Yanma before all of my Pokémon were too injured to continue. It was then that a man ran up. He threw out two Bug Pokémon I'd never seen before outside of Elm's Database, a Vespiquen and a Volcarona. They were fearsomely well-trained, as the Yanma backed off. Their leader didn't, though, and it took the man's Vespiquen and Volcarona on by itself.
In the end, it couldn't hold them off, and it retreated to nurse its wounded pride. The man called his Pokémon back, then introduced himself as Burgh. You may have heard of him; he used to be in the World Conference Elite Four Challenge, a true master of Bug Pokémon, and not too shabby of an artist as well. At this time, he headed a Gym in the Unova region.
I asked him, 'Why are you here and not in Unova? It's a long trip to Johto, after all.'
He told me that Bugsy had called him up when Ilex Forest began to stir, and he was here to try to understand what was making the Bug Pokémon so agitated. He said his own Pokémon were acting a bit strangely. Apparently, he was passing down from Ecruteak after landing in Olivine, and luckily for me, he heard the swarm of Yanma and came to investigate.
He escorted me to the Ecruteak Pokémon Center, where I spent three days waiting for my Pokémon to fully recover. They were all so brave, but in the end, the outcome would have been death had Burgh not come along. I thanked him a million times over, and he went on his way to Ilex Forest. I knew what had stirred those Pokémon up, though. That was the first time I even thought about how huge our simple action of taking that egg was.
After resting up, we took on the Ecruteak Gym Leader, Morty. He wasn't all there when we fought, as he was trying to understand the rush of energies swirling around. His Pokémon were likewise distracted. It would have been a fairly easy battle either way, but it was cake here. During the battle with his Gengar, my Zubat evolved into a Golbat. The color remained odd, which confirmed that this Zubat (er, Golbat, excuse me) had been born different, somehow.
Now, I was up to my eyeballs in Pokémon already, but after fighting Morty, a man approached me and challenged me to a battle. My strongest Pokémon versus his strongest. He offered a prize if I won. I accepted, naturally, since I would never turn down a battle.
I sent out Sneasel, feeling supremely confident. He threw out a Hitmonchan. That sure wiped the smile off my face. I had already agreed to the battle, though, so we went with it. Hitmonchan was fast, so much so that Sneasel was nearly matched for speed. This translated to a couple light blows landing on Sneasel. I was playing a waiting game, see. I was looking for patterns in Hitmonchan's attacks, all the while ordering Sneasel to dodge and halfheartedly attack. Finally, I spotted one. Sneasel had been practicing a new move, and I had him try it out now. As I looked it up after the battle, the proper name for it is Aerial Ace.
Sneasel guarded when Hitmonchan threw a Mega Punch his way, then swayed out of the way. As the momentum carried Hitmonchan past where Sneasel was, Sneasel jumped up in the air, and onto Hitmonchan's outstretched fist. He bounced off of it, driving it, and Hitmonchan, downwards, then dove in. Aerial Ace hit square on, and Hitmonchan struggled off the ground. The battle lasted another two blows before the stranger conceded defeat.
Sneasel crowed triumphantly, then, to my surprise, helped the Hitmonchan up. The man was surprised as well, and complimented Sneasel for its kindness. He then presented me with a Poke ball. 'Inside,' he said, 'is a very rare Pokémon. It's a Pokémon called Tyrogue. It's tricky to raise, but a Trainer like you should have no trouble with it. Consider this a reward for a job well done.'
I took the Poke ball, pushed the button, and out came a very weak looking Pokémon. It looked like a child trying to emulate his father, a champion martial arts master. It was certainly ganglier than it looked like in the Database.
The man said he came from Kanto to train a few years back, and he'd now set up a Dojo in Mahogany Town, to the east of Ecruteak. I promised I'd stop in when I came to Mahogany to fight the Gym Leader, and went to the Pokémon Center to rest. And now, I need a rest too."
The time had flown by. It was already four in the afternoon, and Ethan was getting rather hungry. He saw this reflected in the faces of his audience, so he ended his story for that day. They all went their separate ways, all except for Brandon.
Brandon asked Ethan, "Where are your Pokémon? Have they passed away, or are they still around somewhere?"
Ethan paused, considering his options. He finally reached a decision, and called into the back room. Out came a wrinkled Weavile, who looked rather annoyed his nap had been disturbed. "Weavile's all I have left now... The others passed, many years ago."
Brandon frowned, muttering "I'm sorry." He then took Weavile's hand, and shook it. Weavile looked at him in confusion at first, then, after realizing the young human meant him no harm with the gesture, returned the shake. He then turned his attention back to Ethan. "I have a couple more questions, if you're willing."
Ethan smiled wryly. "I very much doubt you only have a couple more questions, but go ahead."
Brandon drove right on. "You've lived here a long time... What can you tell me about the Forest of Love? I heard Lyle talking to his brother about it after they got chased out by some cranky old woman."
Ethan stopped, unsure of how to handle the situation. He sat there in silence for a little bit, mulling it over. Then, he spoke up. "The Forest of Love is a forest that has seen much human emotion over its lifetime. I know when it was named, and I know why it was named, but that's a story for another day. Know this, though. That old woman is Lyra's mother. She is the caretaker of that forest, and she doesn't like kids playing in or around it. It isn't respectful."
Brandon started to object and form a question, but thought better of pushing the old man for answers. "Okay, Gramps... My other question is about you and Lyra. It sounds like you guys loved each other... If you don't mind me saying so... And uh... I was just wondering where she is, is all..."
Ice flowed through Ethan's veins. "Again, you're asking something I don't want to talk about. Maybe someday I'll tell you the story... But not today... Anyway, I'm tired. I'm going to take a stroll with Weavile, so, if you'll excuse me..."
With that, he ushered Brandon out of his house. He limped back to the back room with Weavile at his side, the pain evident on his face. They went for a walk, but it didn't help anything. He decided to turn in early that night, because the next day was going to be a busy one, what with helping Brandon catch his first Pokémon.
(Author's Note: This chapter is shorter than the previous, but it does a lot more work in less space. Also, I'm feeling a bit under the weather, so updates may be slower in coming than they usually are. Sorry.)