The first sound to reach his ears, telling of a nearby source of civilization, was the sound of a harmonica trying to overcome the sound of radio static, quickly blowing out exciting scales of notes to be carried on the breeze. It was a strong, southerly wind and he was being blown in that direction, whether he liked it or not, passing by waving green or dirt-brown fields. He could smell the spring dirt as he passed by, a sweet foreign scent, and could see what looked like snow floating around him as if the area couldn't decide which season it was in.
Soon enough, another smell struck him, but not at all a sweet one. It smelled far closer to the Grimer that often sneaked around his home city. Instantly cringing, he clutched his nose and retched. "Ugh, what is that stench!" With his hands still on his nose, he wobbled down the dirt road, not noticing the Pokemon giving him odd looks on either side. When he saw a large wooden building adjacent to the road, he quickened his pace to seek shelter there.
The building wasn't vacant, however. As he rushed into the building, leaned against the wall, and sucked in as much relatively scentless air as he could, he heard a giggle and jumped. Only a couple of yards away was a girl leaning against a long pitchfork. She had shortly cut, slightly wavy brown hair tied back into a bun and sparkling chocolate eyes. Her mouth was curled into a sort of knowing grin. Her clothes were dirty, as if she had spent the entire day outside at work, consisting of blue jeans and a pale T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her thin shoulders.
"Welcome to BearLake, stranger. First day here?" she said quickly, her accent noticable, but not nearly as pronounced as you might hear in a place like Texas.
The newcomer nodded, keeping a wary eye on the pitchfork. The girl noticed this and laughed again. "Relax, I've got no reason to use this thing on ya'. I'm Cobie, by the way, and you are...?"
He tore his eyes from the tool and glanced at Cobie with a quick nod. "Nathan. Nathan McKnight of Saffron."
Cobie grinned. "Ooooh, you're from the big city! That makes sense...The Tauros and Miltank always smell worse on Wednesdays, but don't tell anyone I said that."
"Sooo, what'cha here for?" the girl asked, leaning the pitchfork against a wall and moving closer, causing Nathan to inch towards the door.
"Um, I heard that there was a Pokemon gym here..." he started, but was nearly crushed when Cobie flung him against the wall.
"You're going to challenge Spencer?!" she squealed. "Oh! This is so exciting! We hardly ever get challengers way out here! Come on, let's go!" She turned around towards the other door on the opposite end of the building and yelled: "Dad! I'm takin' a break! We've got another challenger!" before grabbing Nathan's hand and starting to run for the door. Nathan, however, yanked his arm back.
"Hold on for a second, Miss. Could I at least go to the Pokemon Center first?"
Cobie stopped and chuckled nervously. "Oh, that's right. You and your Pokemon are probably exhausted by now...Here, I'll show you the way!" Nathan reached out to stop her again, but she was already out the door and halfway to the road, so all he could do was sigh and follow.
"See? This is where we keep smaller Pokemon like Torchic, Swinub, and a few wild Pokemon that wander in. Only small ones though. Once they evolve too much we turn them loose. Over there are the fields where we keep Mareep and Flaffy. See how short the grass is? That's why we have to keep them and the cows separate. On the other side are the Ponyta and a couple of Rapidash, with that tall wooden fence. Rapidash is the only fully-evolved Pokemon we really keep, unless you count those over there. That's the main Tauros and Miltank herd in that direction, but they generally scatter out all over the place, depending on the season."
Nathan had to admit, he was probably sleepwalking the entire time, ignoring the smells and the heat and the snow stuff flying up his nose. He only half-heard anything Cobie said as they walked along, slowly passing more houses as they reached the town center. Cobie seemed to realize this and suddenly stopped.
"So, Nathan, what sort of Pokemon do you think Spencer uses?" Nathan shrugged and grunted in reply. Cobie immediately spun around, an index finger pointed centimeters from his face and a frown on her own. "I knew it! You weren't listening! And here I am giving you a complete advantage!"
She turned around and began walking again. "Spencer isn't like other Gym Leaders. Other Gym Leaders will stick to one Pokemon type. That leads to an easy win for a Trainer with the right Pokemon, no matter how much the leader tries to cover their weaknesses." Nathan nodded slightly. That's exactly how he had won every badge before: Careful planning and using the opponents natural weaknesses.
"Spencer doesn't go by type, he uses Pokemon that you find being raised here, Pokemon that he and his family raise from birth. They're the strongest around."
Nathan shook his head. "I'm not worried. We can beat him."
"You sure?" Cobie asked over her shoulder, a smug grin on her face. Nathan nodded and Cobie walked faster. "Alright, if you're so sure, then I won't bug you anymore." She stopped in front of a building with the telltale PokeCenter sign, her hands on her hips. "Here it is. Make sure you get a good night's sleep, because you're gonna need it."
"Thank you, Miss Cobie." With that, he walked into the building without another thought except for want of sleep.
Author's Note: Holy cow, I'm writing a romance-ish sort of a thing! Yes, this is reason to either hide in a bomb shelter or run around in tight circles screaming at the tops of your lungs. Not too much romance, however. Ewwwwww...More like than love. Weee, I'm rambling.
Oh, and for those who haven't figured it out, click on the chapter title for an illustration of this chapter! Woo-hoo! And I'd better post this before I start critiquing the illustration to death and beyond. @_@