I think we might have been near Lime City; Kerra had a better sense of direction than us - not that this said much - and seemed to know where we were going. It wasn't too far away. As we came closer to civilisation, we saw groups of trainers having battles.
We paused to watch one. A pretty teenager with a Weepinbell was battling an old man with a Marowak.
"Weepinbell, vine whip!"
Marowak was caught by the vines and struggled, but its bone had been thrown and hit the Weepinbell twice. Both of them gritted their teeth - does a Weepinbell have teeth? - in pain. I cringed also. Pokemon battles were kind of barbaric.
"Wrap attack, Weepinbell!"
The two paused in mid-battle as Kerra ran out.
"Are you STUPID or something? Wrap attack? That's a bad technique, especially against your opponent!"
"Butt out, kid," snapped the girl.
"Yeah," agreed the man, "if she has bad training techniques, she deserves to lose."
"But that Weepinbell doesn't deserve to lose," argued Kerra, "use a grass attack!"
"This is our match! If you don't like it, find someone to fight yourself!"
"Alright, I will!"
He stood in the middle of the clearing and used the best attention getter I've seen to date.
"HOT, ELIGIBLE MALE WAITING OVER HERE FOR COMPETITION!"
Terri started laughing, and I buried my head in my hands. Kerra couldn't have been any older than 14.
But it had the right effect. Three girls, all clutching Pokeballs, came bulldozing through the bushes. And the youngest of THEM was about 16.
"Where's the cute guy?"
"Kerra here," snickered Terri, "responsible for false advertising."
He smacked her and then said "who cares about the method. All I want is a Pokemon battle. To show this loser Weepinbell trainer how to fight."
The poor Weepinbell trainer was looking quite annoyed by now. Kerra could be amazingly rude. Her opponent had marched off angrily to find another challenger.
"I, Christy, accept your challenge," snapped one of the girls.
"This should be interesting," grinned Terri, and the five of us - Terri and I, the two other girls, and the Weepinbell trainer - sat down to watch the match.
Christy tossed her Pokeball into the air. "I open with - Growlithe!"
"Go, Weepinbell!" returned Kerra.
"This ain't good," said Terri. The Weepinbell trainer smirked.
Kerra just smiled. "Weepinbell, wrap attack."
"You told ME off for using that! You're no better than I am!"
He ignored her, and everyone stared as the Weepinbell brushed off the flames and started squezzing Growlithe hard.
"Growlithe! Come back with your bite!"
"Weepinbell, let go, get away and go for an acid attack!"
Growlithe ran towards Weepinbell, which slid backwards before leaning out and squirting acid in its face. The puppy howled and pawed at its face in pain.
"Weepinbell! Finish it with slam!"
Again, Weepinbell seemed to scarcely notice the flames licking at it, as it leapt and crushed its opponent hard. Growlithe didn't have a chance. We all stared in shock. I didn't think grass Pokemon could beat fire.
Christy stared in amazement. "Wow. Growlithe, return. Well, you lucked out. See how well you do against - Pidgeot!"
Kerra rolled his eyes. "Ooh, I'm scared. Weepinbell, return! Go, Exeggutor!"
"Can't you do better than grass types? Anyway... Pidgeot! Sky attack!"
Pidgeot began to glow a brilliant blue. The Weepinbell trainer laughed. "No grass type could ever withstand a sky attack!"
"Mine could," smiled Kerra, "confusion, Exeggutor!"
The Pidgeot glowed brighter and began to fly at Exeggutor. As it was halfway there, it met the confusion and screeched to a dead halt, before falling to the ground.
"That quickly? Impossible!"
"Your Pidgeot has a low special," lectured Kerra. "That can't compare to the special of Exeggutor, which is conveniently also part-psychic." I nodded and pretended to know what he was talking about.
"Fine," growled Christy, "you won't defeat this last one. I'll beat you at your own game! Go, Gyarados!"
A horrible, fierce-looking dragon that I remembered seeing at Gary's, appeared. I was glad *I* wasn't fighting.
"Hmm. Okay, Parasect!"
The Parasect set its children on the ground and leapt forward, eager to fight.
"He hasn't got a prayer," said one of Christy's friends, "that Gyarados is pretty strong."
"Technique, technique," muttered Kerra, "use your super spore attack!"
"Gyarados! Hyper beam!"
Parasect's spores flew at its opponent, who shook its head, irritated, before glowing bright gold.
"Again, Parasect! Keep sparring and keep spore-ing!"
I groaned at the pun. Parasect was hit by the hyper beam just after releasing thousands more spores into the air.
There was a huge explosion as the beam struck, and Parasect was sent tumbling backwards, slamming into a tree.
The spores were flying all around. Christy sneezed heavily, breaking her concentration. Gyarados flew to the ground, breathing heavily as it recovered from the intense hyper beam. Breathing heavily... I suddenly realised Kerra's technique, and was impressed. The Gyarados breathed in a lot of spores, and after blinking a couple of times, fell soundly asleep.
"Parasect! Leech life!" ordered Kerra.
Parasect could barely move, but it must have been strong to begin with. It stood, shakily, and scuttled over to the sleeping Gyarados. It pressed its mushroom up against the dragon and both glowed briefly. After it was finished, it looked somewhat healthier, but the Gyarados grimaced in its sleep.
"Keep leeching life until you feel better," said Kerra. Parasect was happy to obey.
"Gyarados, wake up! A-achoo! WAKE UP!"
"It won't wake up."
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? IT'S NOT *DEAD*!"
Kerra sweatdropped. "Bad phrasing. But only when spore wears off can it wake up."
"Parasect!" clicked the Pokemon happily, scuttling around, no longer weak. My own Paras squeaked in praise. Gyarados looked exhausted.
"Fine, you won," sulked Christy, "come back, Gyarados!"
The two looked at each other.
"I just... can't believe that," she said. "Beating a Gyarados with a PARASECT? It's just not possible!"
"Anything's possible," argued Kerra, "I knew what I was doing!"
Touchy kid. The Weepinbell trainer stood up, holding her grass-type in her arms.
"Well, kid," she said, "maybe you do know what you're doing. But let other people learn things for themselves."
"I just don't like seeing good grass Pokemon's being beaten because they have an awful trainer."
"I'm not THAT awful! You're acting like I was sending out a Weepinbell against an Arcanine or something!"
"If it was better trained, the Weepinbell could win," he said.
"Gaah," she snapped, "that's a stupid thing to say, everyone knows that! If a MAGIKARP was well trained enough, it could beat a Raichu!"
"Um, I wouldn't go that far. See, its attack is -"
"Shut up, shut up! I'll prove to you we can be great!"
"I don't doubt that you CAN, anyone can," said Kerra, smugly. If I had been her, I would have slapped him. "Whether you WILL is a different matter."
"I'll show you..." she growled. "Some day, I'll beat you."
"I don't know who you are," he said airily, "I don't even know your name. Should I be worried about a nobody trainer?"
"I am Amanda from the city of Saffron," she said. "I'm no nobody. I will beat you. I will!"
She jumped up and ran off, her Weepinbell slinking after her at top speed.
"What a loser," snickered Kerra.
Christy, Terri and I simultaneously jumped up and beat him over the head.
"WHADDA JERK!" we screeched in unison. He looked a bit bewildered.
"What's your problem?"
"She uses ONE ATTACK a bit foolishly, and you go off at her like that!"
"Not to mention," added Terri, "her Weepinbell may not have even known much more beyond wrap."
"It knew vine whip," he said darkly. "Stupid trainers shouldn't have grass Pokemon."
"Well, sometimes 'stupid' trainers go up against other stupid trainers. That's how anybody learns," said one of Christy's friends.
"Okay," grinned Kerra, "you fight Aurora. She's the stupidest trainer you could ever met."
"I ONLY STARTED ABOUT A WEEK AGO!" I shouted at him. I wasn't really hurt, I knew he was just rude.
"Would you fight?" asked the girl. "I've been looking for an opponent for a while... I've fought Margo -" she gestured to her friend "- and Christy kind of often but my Pokemon need new opponents. I'm a fairly new trainer too."
"Okay," I said. Not much more that needed to be said, really.
Kerra smiled and sat back against a tree, holding his Parasect on his lap.
"This battle will be MOST entertaining," he said.
"Oh shut up. Terri, why on earth did you get him to come anyway?"
"Well, I'll fight you. I'm Aurora. But be warned, I'm not very experienced."
"It's okay. I'm Janelle. Let's go. I choose Poliwag!"
"And I choose Paras! Come on, let's go."
Paras looked a little bewildered, but obeyed me. Its first fight, apparently, but all Pokemon had to start somewhere, right?
"Hey, Aurora!" protested Kerra, "that Paras isn't yours to fight with!"
"Yes it is. It follows my orders. And you do not have it in a Pokeball. And it likes me. Come on, can't you afford to let me have ONE of so many?"
He grumbled. "I guess you need all the help you can get."
"Alright! Um... what are its attacks?"
"I'm not helping you!"
"Scratch, stun spore," said Terri, hitting him.
The small Pokemon both attacked. Paras was only small, but its claws were sharp, while Poliwag's bubbles were forceful.
"Now! Stun spore!"
Paras looked up at me blankly.
"What are you waiting for! Do your STUN SPORE attack!"
It shook its head, confused.
"I guess it doesn't know it yet. Okay, keep scratching."
Poliwag was stronger, but I guess its move wasn't very effective. Type advantage or something? I hadn't memorised the strategies yet. So I suppose our Pokemon were fairly evenly matched.
"This battle is REAL exciting," drawled Kerra. I was just about sick of his biting comments.
"WILL YOU SHUT UP!"
Paras scratched. Poliwag blew bubbles. Paras scratched. Poliwag blew bubbles. I almost had to agree with him. But finally, it was Poliwag who fainted.
"How did that happen?" choked Janelle.
"Simple," said Kerra, "Paras has a slightly higher special so it could withstand your bubble - which wasn't very effective in the first place. Its attack is also better than Poliwag's defense. Even though Paras was at a lower level, it wasn't enough."
"I didn't mean it literally," she bit out. "Okay. Now for a stronger challenge! Go, Graveler!"
"Rock Pokemon are weak against water," I mused, "okay. Go, Omanyte!"
Everyone stared at Omanyte in disbelief, except for Terri. Even Kerra looked surprised, which pleased me. Mr know-it-all had finally found a Pokemon he didn't know everything about.
"Omanyte? That's - that's..."
"That's my Pokemon of choice. Water gun!"
"Umm, Graveler, tackle!"
The battle only lasted about a minute before Graveler was soundly beaten. I guess I had an advantage with Omanyte. If nobody knew what it was, nobody knew what strategy to use against it.
"I have one more Pokemon," I said. "Go, Clefairy!"
"Wow, not bad," said Terri. I wasn't sure why... it looked like a weird sort of Pokemon to me. Almost a human shape.
"Hitmonlee, jump kick!"
Clefairy rammed Hitmonlee, but as it fell back, it was met firmly by a strong foot, which sent it flying. I wanted to win. I'd never really cared about competing before, but now I found I wanted to win. My fighter's spirit had begun.
"Sing a lullaby and whatever you do, keep away from Hitmonlee's feet!"
"Rolling kick, Hitmonlee! And block your ears!"
Clefairy couldn't possibly dodge, Hitmonlee was everywhere at once. Its whistling gave way to a frightened squeak as it was pummelled hard. It flew back and landed weakly on its feet.
"Hang in there and double slap! We can win!"
"Double slap? Fine, Hitmonlee! Double kick!"
This time, Clefairy couldn't even try to land on its feet. It was knocked out.
"Clefairy, return," I sighed. "Good fight, Janelle."
"You too," she said, and shook my hand. "You don't have to pay me, since I started the fight anyway."
"That's not in the rules," said Kerra, "a trainer has to -"
Kerra, Terri and I reached Lime City, Paras clan in tow. Janelle, Margo and Christy stayed in the nearby forest to keep training.
"Kerra," said Terri, "I thought you were gonna leave before Lime. That's what you said! I wanted you to come, but I see now that I was wrong, soooo.... how about heading off now?"
For a split second, I thought I saw a sad expression come into his eyes, but then he grinned flippantly.
"Nah, I might tag along a little longer, just to annoy you."
"Besides," he added seriously, "Aurora needs all the help she can get!"
He said it in a nasty tone, but I took it as a compliment. He was a strange person, that's probably what he meant by it.
"Aurora, there's supposed to be a gym in Lime City," said Terri, "you can challenge the leader and get the next badge! Only 7 more to go, right right? You'll do super great and be a famous Pokemon Master and then when you get such popularity and have thousands of cute guys chasing you, I'm sure there'll be one or two left over who will say "oh, who is that cool girl travelling with Aurora" and I'll be able to snag -"
"I don't think they'll say any such thing," said Kerra, and the two began fighting again as we head to the Pokemon Center.
I sighed, a little tired from everything - the constant fights, having to be with these two so often, and walking so far. But I was happy because - even if my friends seemed to be making excuses for travelling with me - I still thought they were friends.