"Cubone," I called, "I choose you!"
I was just pressing the button when a red beam appeared, and from it materialised Farfetch'd.
"Far far," it said firmly.
"Oops," I said, "did I choose the wrong one? Well, you were my other choice..."
"Fetch'd far far," it agreed, flapping its wings and perching on my shoulder.
"Very well," returned Hannah, "I'll choose Primeape!"
Farfetch'd flew into the air, circling its opponent, who eyed it warily. Primeape, I had read about but never seen. It was an odd looking thing, but what I noticed primarily (haha, get it) was that it looked semi-psychotic. It just had this LOOK in its eyes.
"Primeape, thrash," said Hannah.
I got the impression it liked that attack. As soon as it received command, it launched itself at its opponent, beating its arms fiercely and seeming to lose control of sense.
Suddenly remembered that its opponent was me.
Farfetch'd zipped out of Primeape's reach, but soon slammed back in, divebombing the pig monkey.
"Okori," it spat out, and continued thrashing, hitting Farfetch'd quite hard several times. But Farfetch'd was strong, and more importantly, it was a fighter. I'd seen that against the Fearow.
"Farfetch'd, sword's dance!"
It swung its leek, calmly ignoring the raging Primeape, who was spinning around madly, occsionally hitting it. It flipped its leek, caught it, and looked psyched.
"Fly again, I think."
Hannah bit her lip. Primeape chose that moment to stop thrashing, and stood still, looking to her for an order.
"Good, the attack wore off," she said, "Primeape, leer!"
Farfetch'd came soaring down, made the mistake of looking into Primeape's fury-filled eyes, and came to a screeching halt in mid-air.
"Far far," it said, shaking its head, and then tried again. But it was a little rattled. While Farfetch'd was in the air, Hannah ordered Primeape to dodge and karate chop.
The next couple of minutes mostly consisted of Farfetch'd diving at Primeape, who would dodge, then return a blow. I began to realise that gym leaders did know what they were doing.
"Primeape, seismic toss!"
Both Pokemon looked tired, but both Pokemon carried out their attacks with energy. Farfetch'd charged at Primeape, who caught its beak, spun the bird around and flung it into the bleachers. Terri managed to duck to avoid getting knocked unconscious by the duck, but Farfetch'd had no such good fortune. By the time I retrieved it, it was out.
"Wow," I said, "that doesn't look good. Okay, let's give Cubone a shot!"
Cubone appeared, and twirled its bone happily.
"Primeape, return," said Hannah, seeing how it looked wearied, "okay, Poliwrath!"
I cringed. "That REALLY doesn't look good."
"You can't change a Pokemon after you've sent it," said Hannah, with a little smile.
"Fine," I sighed, "Cubone, bone club!"
Cubone jumped up, ready to bring its bone down on Poliwrath's head.
"Poliwrath, hydro pump!"
Cubone didn't even get a hit in. I couldn't quite see where it came from, but within seconds, the gym was full of water. It disappeared as suddenly as it came, but left all of us drenched, and Cubone well and truly fainted.
"Return," I said glumly, recalling it.
"Not bad," said Hannah, "but not what I'd expect of a student of the great Gary!"
"I'm not his student..." I muttered, slightly offended.
"And not that!"
"Of course not," she said, smiling sweetly - patronisingly - "I wish you better luck next time, although I daresay luck would not bring you victory against me in the next millenium!"
"Must you rub it in?!"
"Of course not, such a thing is so unladylike. Gary, dear, if you are passing through Celadon City, would you be able to deliver something for me?"
"Uhh, what?" he said, guardedly.
"It's a special Pokemon for my sister, Erika. She's the leader of Celadon Gym," she added, for my benefit. "I didn't want to send it through the postal service, as this Pokemon is too special, and I think Team Rocket has wind of it already. I wouldn't want it to be intercepted."
"Oh, well, I have to stay in Saffron until the Pokemon fashion shows are over," Gary said, "but I see Aurora doesn't have a badge from Celadon. Maybe you three would like to go and deliver the package?"
"I'm not sure-" I began, but Kerra interrupted.
"Celadon? Did you say your sister is the lovely Erika of Celadon City? Hehhehh, of course, we'd be perfectly happy to deliver the Pokemon! It'll be safe with us, for sure."
Hannah looked dubious, and I said, "Kerra, wanting to help someone out? Is this the end of the world?"
"Celadon Gym trains grass types," explained Terri, "and Kerra probably has a big crush on the gym leader. She's supposed to be pretty."
Kerra blushed and said "don't be stupid."
"I don't know if I can trust you," said Hannah, "and are you capable of fighting off Team Rocket? You couldn't beat me."
"I think it'll be fine," reassured Gary, "Kerra almost beat me in a Pokemon battle."
"Impossible," said Hannah, which produced a kind of growling sound from Kerra. So Kerra decided to prove it, beating her Poliwrath with Tangela and very little effort.
So, I guessed we were going to Celadon next.
"Can't we stay in Saffron a few days first?" said Terri, entering the conversation, "we've been travelling a while and we only just got here. I'd like to relax and see the sights a bit. All fabulous trainers need some R and R!"
"Fabulous trainers with Magikarp," snickered Kerra, and she stuck her tongue out.
"Come and see me by Thursday," said Hannah, "and I think we'd better leave it at that, more trainers are waiting to battle me. Heehee. Bye Gary, nice to see you again! Oh, and good luck, what was your name again?"
"Aurora," I muttered. This girl got on my nerves. I hoped her sister wasn't like her.
"This works out great," said Gary, as we left the gym. "Anita, my chaffeur, lives in Celadon. All the girls are on holidays, so she'll be taking a break now that I made it to Saffron."
"Small world," said Kerra.
"And we got four days to spend here," chirped Terri, picking up her Vulpix.
"I finally have to ask," said Gary, "why does your Vulpix have a pierced nose?"
"It makes a statement," she said proudly.
"And not a good one at that," cackled Kerra. She kicked him in the shins, dropping Vulpix in the process. The fire fox yelped angrily and let out a stream of flames which torched all of us and some passers-by.
"What's the big idea?" snapped a boy, well, late teens anyway. He looked mad. "Why'd you sic your stupid Vulpix on me?"
"It was an accident," said Terri, "Kerra was asking for it."
"I'm not Kerra, whoever that is. And I don't appreciate the gesture! The $*@% is wrong with that thing anyway? Its nose looks like it got some horrible infection."
"Shut up," said Terri, "there's nothing wrong with Vulpix's nose."
"It's got a @#*$ing stud in it, and it's about the size of the Grandpa Canyon."
"Look, that ember attack was an accident," she snapped, becoming angry, "it's no reason for you to insult Vulpix like that. What's wrong with you?!"
"I'd never train such a freak Pokemon," he said, "although it looks like you haven't trained it very well either."
"That's a challenge!" snapped Terri, and he took out a Pokeball.
"Is it okay for you guys to have a battle in the middle of a crowded street?" I asked, dubiously.
"Yeah, cool it guys," said Gary, "Pokemon shouldn't be used in streetfights."
"This isn't a streetfight! This is a matter of honour!"
"You're fighting in the street. Isn't that a streetfight?"
"Who cares?!" snapped the guy, sending out a Venomoth.
"Venomoth," smirked Terri, "the allergy-inducing Pokemon. Fine. Go, Charmander!"
Venomoth was fast, and stayed mostly out of Charmander's range, but fire had the advantage. After the Venomoth fainted, the guy called out a Vaporeon.
"I'd like to see you beat this," he said.
Charmander covered its tail flame and howled as it was pelted with bubbles. It charged at its opponent, dealing a hit and taking another.
"You'll never beat that," said Kerra, "not with a Charmander."
Charmander turned to look at Kerra, and its eyes glowed.
"He-ey," stuttered Kerra, taking a step back, "don't look at me like that. Why're you leering?"
"I don't think it is..."
Its whole body glowed instead, and it evolved. It growled at Vaporeon who looked surprised, and then tackled it with a headbutt.
"Charmeleon," said Terri, eyes sparkling to see her new Pokemon, "use your slash attack!"
"Char... mel," it said, turning its head rebelliously. It breathed a small stream of fire at Vaporeon instead.
"Vaporeon, water gun!"
"Charmeleon, I said slash!"
"Char," said Charmeleon scornfully, and ignored her. She squawked in outraged disbelief.
"Charmander's evolved forms can be hard to tame," said Gary helpfully, "it can take trainers months to make them listen if they turn rebellious like that."
"MONTHS?!" screeched Terri, "I'm not putting up with that! Charmeleon, SLASH!"
Charmeleon examined its claws and yawned. Vaporeon sat and stared at it quizzically.
"Can't control your Pokemon," taunted the trainer, "what a sap! Vaporeon, hydro pump!"
Terri snarled something unrepeatable, before marching in between Vaporeon and Charmeleon to glare at her Pokemon. Vaporeon stopped in mid-pump to avoid killing her. I don't think Terri even realised she had gotten in the way.
"Hey, Charmeleon," snapped Terri, "I'm not putting up with this attitude! *I* determine the attitude around here! I'M the stubborn one. You were fine as a Charmander, don't give me this #*^$ now. GOT THAT?"
Charmeleon cringed, and Terri moved back out of the way.
"Now, without further ado," she said, very calm and quiet, "SLASH FOR YOUR LIFEEEE! YEAAAAAAAAH!"
Charmeleon, quite rattled, this time obeyed, and fought well against the Vaporeon. I heard Gary mutter "it's so great to see trainers who raise their Pokemon with warmth and kindness." Kerra was hissing with silent laughter. A lot of people walking past on the street were looking at us strangely.
"ALRIGGGGGGGHT," shouted Terri, pumping her fist in the air, "EAT THAT, VAPOREON!"
The opponent had fainted, and its trainer recalled it. "See? Toldya I could win! Vulpix woulda creamed you too, but it doesn't like fighting so much. And it won't be a dragon. No offense, pal."
The trainer, after sulkily slapping a few notes into her hand, launched into a lengthy speech, most of which was composed of obscenities, and after a few minutes, we just got tired and walked off, leaving him to fume. Vulpix made sure to char his bag as we left.
"You was great, Charmer," said Terri, patting it on the head. It gave her a claws-up and growled happily.
"You too, Vulpy. Heheh."
Gary left us to see someone about performance enchancers for ice Pokemon. This sounded pretty uninteresting to us, so we struck out on our own. Kerra had some idea of where we were going, but mostly we just wandered blindly and had a look at all the Pokemon goods.
"I got some cash from beating that loser," said Terri, "let's hit the shops!"
"What shops?" asked Kerra, warily.
"Clothes, naturally! Heehee! This is the perfect day out. Come on Aurora, I'll help you find some fashion sense."
"And Kerra, that black tee you're always wearing, quite faded and SO unflattering. One must investigate all potential styles. Don't worry, I'm perfectly qualified!"
"Whenever someone says, 'don't worry'," muttered Kerra, as Terri dragged us both off by the wrists, "it makes me worry more, especially when it's HER."
I nodded numbly.
"I don't know about this, Terri," I said dubiously, "I feel like an idiot. Is this top supposed to be so short?"
"Of course," she said primly, "to accentuate your figure."
"I don't think I'm really old enough to have much of a figure."
"That's why you need to accentuate it."
"And this skirt is giving me a wedgie."
"Oh, you look fine."
"I don't know about that. And who cares about looks when you spend half the time camping out in the forest? I'd freeze in this outfit."
"Of course you wouldn't. Kerra, what do YOU think?"
Kerra, leaning against the wall with a perpetual bored expression, said, "I think I'm gonna go to the Saffron greenhouses. They're supposed to have some exotic specimens, and these Paras are sick of the city. Beats hanging around these stupid stores."
"You can look at dumb plants every day! Come on, what do you think of what Aurora's wearing?"
"She looks like a tart."
"HEY! She's wearing an outfit like mine!"
"My point exactly."
"Rrr, you are SO insulting!"
"It's just that every time you open your mouth, you give me so much great material to work with."
"I'll give YOU something to work with!"
"This should be interesting to say the least."
While the two argued, I snuck back into the changing room and changed back into my standard jeans and t-shirt.
Later, Terri and I were walking back to the Pokemon Center. Kerra had gone off without us, saying that if we dragged him into one more girl shop, he was going to lop off our heads.
Terri and Vulpix carried several bags between them, while all I bought were a couple of books, which my Paras carried between its mushrooms. Added weight as it was sitting on my head, but it kept my hands free.
"You bought Pokemon books," she said, "are you becoming more serious?"
"Well, I wanna become better. Kerra's teaching me a lot, but..."
"...but his style isn't exactly a fun way to learn," finished Terri with a grin. "But, you don't really want to be a Pokemon Master, do you?"
"I wouldn't say that," I said, "I'm starting to see why training is so popular. But I don't know if this is my dream."
She nodded wordlessly, and we entered the Pokemon Center.
"Chanseeey," chirruped a nurse Pokemon, running up to greet us.
"I don't like these things," I muttered.
"No Pokemon to heal today," said Terri, patting it on the head.
We walked through the waiting room and along the corridor to our room. There was a poster across from our door which I looked at while Terri wrestled with the door keys.
"Saffron Gym, open Tuesdays, come if you want a challenge."
"I HATE these keys," fumed Terri, pounding on our door and jerking the keys in the lock. I turned to look at her properly and sighed.
"Terri, that's not our room."
With a big sweatdrop, she pulled the keys out and we crept discreetly down the hall at impressive speed. After we were safely in our real room, Terri retreated into the bathroom to steal the complimentary soaps and shampoos, and I sat on the windowsill.
"Can we go to Saffron Gym day after tomorrow?"
"Saffron Gym?" she said absently, "what d'you wanna see down there?"
"I don't wanna 'see'. I wanna challenge."
"Challenge Sabrina? If you can't beat Hannah, you can't beat Sabrina."
It was a bad idea to mention him around her. She went starry-eyed easily.
The next day was fun and relaxed. We paid a visit to the fashion shows, a museum and a planetarium. The latter wasn't my choice, but I was outvoted. It did remind me of my father. I was getting the inklings of an idea.
When it was Tuesday, and we were walking towards Saffron Gym, I shared the idea with my friends. Mistake.
"You really think Sabrina would mind-read for you?!"
"Do you think she knows how?"
"Why would she anyway?"
"They said she was a psychic master."
"It's not fair to ask her that anyway."
"I doubt she's a real psychic. She's probably one of those phonies like those people on the psychic hot-line. I tried that once. They told me I was going to come into luck with love, and that great fortune was coming my way. Then my boyfriend dumped me and my second sister ran away from home."
That ended the conversation abruptly, but it didn't really matter because we were at the gym.
A man with long brown hair met us, a spoon hanging in mid-air in front of him.
"Uh, what's with the spoon?" asked Kerra.
"It is a manifestation of my powers," he said calmly.
"It's a SPOON," argued Kerra, "it looks stupid."
"It looks creepy," Terri said, "why can't you hold it like a normal person?"
"That defeats the purpose. If you go to challenge Sabrina, she is at the room at the end of the corridor. But you will not win. HAHAHAHAHA."
And suddenly, he was gone. Literally disappeared in front of us. We just stood there gaping for a moment, before Kerra grabbed my arm.
"If you're gonna lose, hurry up and lose," he said, "I don't like this place."