I went into the gym with little idea what to expect. I'd never been to one before, since I'd never even left Pallet Town, and Pallet had no gyms.
Inside, I was rather suprised; the place was full of aquariums and when I peeked into side rooms, I saw some swimming pools.
"Is this a battling gym?" I asked Terri, suddenly uncertain.
"Well, if it's not, they sure were idiots writing 'Cerulean Gym' on the outside!"
She started laughing again, and I grinned. There was something to be said for someone who laughed every ten seconds. Certainly better company than an unconscious Clefairy.
"No, don't worry," she said, going a little more serious, "I know this place like the back of my hand."
Five minutes later:
"Didn't we just pass this room?" I asked.
Terri sweatdropped. "Okay, so I don't know the back of my hand at all. Sue me."
"What are all these swimming pools, anyway?"
"Some of them are for swimming."
"You don't say."
"Others are for training. Water Pokemon fight best in water."
"But what about non water Pokemon? What do they do? Just drown?"
"They stand on those floating platforms."
"That's not very fair. Then water Pokemon have an advantage."
I'd almost forgotten that Terri's Vulpix had been following us. But it seemed to agree with me.
"Well, this *is* a water Pokemon gym, Aurora."
I poke my head around the door and look at one of the training rooms.
"What about Pokemon weak against water. Not only are you putting them up against a water Pokemon, you're surrounding them with the element they hate."
"Yeah, but -"
"And what about heavy Pokemon? They'd sink!"
"Aurora, I'm not sure you -"
"This system's stupid! And nobody's even in these training rooms!"
Her eyes sparkled. "Well, why don't I show you how it's done, then?"
"Well, what do you think these rooms are used for? Warm ups, of course!"
I stared at her. "But... you'll thrash me!"
"What makes you think that?"
"You train dragon Pokemon. And you're an experienced trainer. I only have two, and I don't know even how strong they are."
She laughed, as usual. "I'm not that experienced. My Pokemon were weak when I caught them, but yours might be a bit stronger. That Clefairy was sure lively."
"One way of putting it," I groaned, and she giggled.
"C'mon, Aurora darling, I'll show you the technique of a trainer. You'll do fine. And if you can't beat me, you definitely won't beat the Cerulean gym leader!"
"Comforting. You are a real comforting presence, Terri."
But she was relaxing me, somehow. So she led me into an empty room, and showed me how to take a position during battle. Her Vulpix jumped onto her shouldes before curling up on her head. It seemed to be using her hair as balance. I couldn't help wondering how much hairspray she was using, that a Pokemon could actually sit on it.
"Okay, now we'll go two-on-two. Say what Pokemon you're calling out, then throw out your Pokeball. The Pokemon will land on the floating platform in front of you."
"What if it doesn't?"
I had a mental picture of a half-drowned Clefairy angrily slapping me and splashing water in my face.
Terri sighed. "Will you just try it?"
"Okay. I choose... um... does it matter if I don't know the name of my Pokemon?"
She facefaulted. "Okay, send it out and I'll tell you what it is."
I tossed my Pokeball out and my mysterious water Pokemon friend appeared.
"Ii!" it squeaked.
"Um, okay," she said sheepishly, "I have no idea what that is."
"It's a water Pokemon," I offered helpfully.
"Well, Misty - the gym leader - will know what it is then. She's just come back from a long journey, so I think she's probably seen every Pokemon there is."
"Well, send out your Pokemon."
She nodded. "I, Terri, select the hidden dragon power of..." - she twirled around quickly, Pokeball clutched tightly in one hand - "CHARMANDER!"
The ball flew from her fingers and a smallish lizard Pokemon appeared on the platform in front of her.
I looked from the Pokemon to her.
"Are you always so melodramatic?"
"All trainers are, Aurora. Get used to it. Heheh. Now, ready to battle?"
"I would be if I knew my Pokemon's attacks."
She pretended not to hear me. "Well, you have the advantage here, that's a good thing. But now, it's an all-out battle, okay?"
I nodded, uncertainly. "Right...."
"Charmander, go for that - whatever it is - with your scratch attack!"
"Chaaar!" chirps the fire Pokemon, before jumping through the air at my Pokemon. Stupid! Fire Pokemon jumping over a pool of water. If it missed the opposite platform, it wouldn't be too healthy. Not a bad idea, really.
"Okay, Pokemon, it'd be cool if you would intercept that Charmander and let it join you in the water."
My Pokemon jumped into the water, then hurtled out, hitting the Charmander in a sort of tackle. Both Pokemon fell in the water.
Charmander climbed out, sputtering. The flame on its tail was smouldering.
"Charmander, I know it's not the best strategy, but ember attack!"
Charmander threw back its head and heaved a burst of flames. My Pokemon just went under the water and felt nothing of them.
"Pokemon!" I called, "squirt water!"
It does so, and its blast knocks the poor Charmander back into the water.
"I think that's about it," sweatdropped Terri, "Charmander, return."
She held out the fire Pokemon's Pokeball, and a red light recalled it.
"Now, Aurora," she said, "you can leave that Pokemon in, or send out a different one."
"Pokemon - and I am sorry for not calling you by a name yet - return," I said, deciding I should try out my first Pokemon, "go, Cleffers! The mystical brat Pokemon!"
Clefairy appeared on the platform and whistled. It grinned at me, and I gave it a thumbs-up.
"Right." She began her pose. "I, Terri, select the hidden dragon power of... MAGIKARP!"
Clefairy stared at the fish Pokemon which appeared, and started laughing hysterically.
"Clefairy," I scolded, "it's not nice to laugh at a fellow Pokemon."
"I don't know what you just said, but apologise!"
Clefairy turned to Magikarp and said something. I somehow suspected it wasn't an apology, as Magikarp's gormless expression turned to anger.
"Magikarp," called Terri, "tackle attack!"
The Magikarp swam clumsily towards Clefairy, who watched it with bright eyes, shining with great amusement. Finally, the carp Pokemon leapt out the water and landed on Clefairy's head.
"Splash," added Terri, and the Pokemon started flapping its tail in a stupid looking fashion. Clefairy laughed harder as it was tickled by the tail.
"Clefairy, pound!" I ordered, and my Pokemon eagerly jumped on its opponent.
"Magikarp, tackle again, from under the platform."
The fish this time dove into the water and swam under the podium. Its tackle attack was easy to see, as it sent Clefairy's platform overturning, and my fairy Pokemon into the water.
The Magikarp seemed to laugh.
I tried not to laugh myself, as my Pokemon squeaked in outrage. "Come on Cleffers, don't stand for that."
It clearly wasn't going to. It swam awkwardly to the fish and began to doubleslap it with some viciousness. Apparently it didn't like being laughed at by a Pokemon it considered its inferior.
"Magikarp, tackle again."
"Clefairy, sing us a lullaby."
It ignored that particular order, instead opting to continue smacking Magikarp hard. The fish Pokemon tried to swim away, but didn't have a hope.
I couldn't help grinning, as her Pokemon was recalled. Clefairy swam back to its platform and shook its body, trying to rid itself of wet fur.
Then, all three of us turned towards the door to the training room. Someone was clapping.
I blinked. "Oh, sorRY," I said, thinking she was being sarcastic, "did you want this room? Well, there are plenty of others, so go away. Don't make fun of me, it's my first time."
"Aurora," grinned Terri, "that's the gym leader!"
"Gleep," I said, embarassed, "well, um -"
"Don't worry," said Misty, "I just saw the end of your battle and you're not too bad for a beginner. Then again, a Magikarp isn't the most powerful of opponents. Terri, it still hasn't evolved?"
Terri shrugged. "Not strong enough yet." She jumped from her platform back onto the ground, and I followed suit. Unfortunately, just as I was jumping, Clefairy jumped from behind me, landing on my back and caused me to lose my balance.
I faced Misty, trying to wring the water out of my hair still. Clefairy was back inside its Pokeball, needless to say. Misty turned away to try not to start laughing again.
"Okay, okay, I'm hilarious," I muttered, irritable at having another outfit ruined.
"Oh, Mist, outta curiousity there's this funky-cool new Pokemon that Aurora somehow managed to get. Don't ask me how, 'cos I get the impression she didn't even know what a Pokemon was until last week."
"Hey," I protested weakly, although it was half true. Terri grinned.
"Anyway, it's a water type, and I didn't know what it is, so I thought you could tell her."
Misty grinned. "Ooh, a water Pokemon! May I see it? I just love water Pokemon!"
"Wouldn't have guessed," I grinned back, and handed her the Pokemon's ball. Misty opened it and looked at who appeared in surprise.
"Ii!" it squealed happily, and squirted water in her face.
"You know, that Pokemon looks awfully familiar," mused Misty, "I'll be back in a second."
She ran out of the room and returned a few minutes later with an absolutely huge book. The spine of the book read "The water element and how to master it" Personally, I was surprised she was even able to carry the book, she had a small frame.
"Let's see, let's see... right! Super rare Pokemon," she muttered, flipping pages. She seemed to know her way through the book pretty well.
Meanwhile, my Pokemon was getting bored and jumped back into the pool. It whistled - hmm, Clefairy deja vu - and started to swim laps.
"It's cute," said Terri, following it with her eyes. Vulpix ran back and forth along the side of the pool, trying to keep up with the water Pokemon.
"Oh! Got it!" exclaimed Misty, and we both ran to look over her shoulders.
"Omanyte," read Terri, as if I were incapable of doing so myself, "presumed water/rock, long extinct... hey, that's cool!"
Misty looked at me. "How did you get an Omanyte?"
"Uh, it was in the forest back there, in a lake. I think it was lonely."
"Well, there shouldn't be any Omanyte at all."
"Nii!" protested my Omanyte, pausing in its swimming to squirt water in Misty's face. She sputtered and shook her head to shake the water off. I grinned, and continued to read the page. I became increasingly amazed as I found out just how little was really known about my Pokemon.
"The people who wrote this book don't know anything," I said, "they're obviously not masters of the water element themselves. They don't even know Omanyte's attacks beyond a vague idea, didn't they try raising one first? If I, a total newbie, managed to find one, why couldn't they?"
"You don't get it," said Misty, "there ARE no Omanyte."
"Besides that one. And a couple we found sleeping at a place called Grandpa Canyon, but nobody knows about them but a few. You are the only Omanyte trainer in the world."
So, by a complete chance, I'd managed to effortlessly capture one of the world's rarest Pokemon? Not bad luck, Aurora, I thought. I was doing pretty well for myself. At this rate, I would never have to go home again.