It has been four days since Kayla left home to begin her own Pokemon journey. After buying some supplies at Viridian, she has entered Viridian Forest. Here, her next challenge awaits.
"I don't like this place, Meowth."
"Well, we gotta pass through it to get to Pewter City."
"I know. But it's full of bugs! I hate bugs!"
"Meeowth, you're as bad as your mom. Gonna recoil at the first Caterpie you see?"
That earned the cat Pokemon a whap on the head. "A Pokemon's a Pokemon. I just don't like bugs."
Meowth couldn't think up a properly snide response to that, so he remained silent. Trainer and Pokemon continued through the forest until Kayla tripped on something, falling flat on her face.
"Watch where you walk, will ya?" an unfamiliar voice said. Recovering from her fall, Kayla saw an angry boy standing behind her.
He seemed rather handsome, actually. His hair was a bright aqua, and his eyes a deep blue. He was dressed in old but comfortable-looking clothes.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"First tell me who you are."
"Ketchum?" The boy seemed to almost be tasting the name, trying to recall a distant memory. "As in Ash Ketchum?"
"Yeah! He's my father!"
"Oh." The boy seemed unimpressed. "Well. It's one thing to be the daughter of a great trainer, but another thing to actually *be* a great trainer, even a beginner!" He removed the single Pokeball from his belt.
"A challenge?" Kayla sked.
"A challenge. Do you accept?"
"I accept." Kayla's face became a hard mask of determination...the same look that her father had worn in so many of his battles. "I choose Meowth!"
On cue, Meowth stepped into the space between Kayla and the strange boy. The boy smirked.
"I call Cubone!" he yelled, throwing the Pokeball to the ground. Cubone was released.
"Cubone bone bone. Cubone!" The Cubone seemed to be taunting Meowth.
"We'll see about that!" Meowth growled at the Cubone.
"Meowth, Pay Day now!"
Coins scattered everywhere as Meowth's attack hit.
"Cubone, Bone Club!"
"Bite it, Meowth!"
"Give it a Leer, Cubone!"
The battle raged on. Both Pokemon were growing visibly weaker.
"Meowth, finish it off. Give it your best Bite!"
Summoning his remaining attack strength, Meowth lunged at the weakened Cubone. It had no time to react, and so could not avoid the attack. As the Bite hit, the Cubone's remaining strength gave out and it lost consciousness. Meowth fell to his knees, exhausted, and Kayla picked him up, not even bothering to celebrate her victory. The boy stared in shock.
"Cubone return!" he said, holding out the Pokeball. "How did you do that? You're just beginning!"
"I knew... some... of my attacks... before... we started," Meowth gasped from Kayla's arms.
"Well, you'd better build up your stamina, cat." Kayla wasn't sure if she liked the way the boy was staring at Meowth - it was a look that could only be described as 'wistful loathing'. As if Meowth reminded him of someone he didn't want to remember...
"Now tell me who you are," she demanded.
He snapped out of it. "My name's Taralon," he said.
"Hi. Now can I pass through? I'd like to challenge the Pewter City Gym Leader sometime this week."
"I'm not stopping you," Taralon said, putting the Pokeball back in his belt. "Go on. Shoo."
"Thank you," Kayla muttered, hurrying on along the path.
'Ash Ketchum's daughter,' Taralon thought.
"Weedle, poison sting!"
"You gonna let that little worm beat you? Dodge it and give it a Bite!"
Meowth leapt out of the way of the charging Weedle and then tried to bite it. However, the Weedle was a bit too small for him to get his teeth on, so he missed.
"Sting it again, Weedle!"
The sting came in contact with Meowth. He yelped and cringed, shivering slightly as he was poisoned.
"MEOWTH!" Kayla cried.
"I'll be okay," Meowth managed.
"Okay.... scratch it!"
Meowth obeyed, and the weaker Weedle was damaged almost to fainting point. Meowth shivered again as the poison began to take its toll.
"Weedle, poison sting again!"
"Dodge it and finish it off with another scratch!"
Meowth only barely pulled it off, but the Weedle fainted. Meowth curled up into a little ball, shivering violently from the poison. Kayla picked him up and dashed in what she hoped was the way to Pewter City.
"Hey, wait!" the bug trainer called after returning his Weedle to the Pokeball. "I didn't even give you any money yet!"
"Keep it!" Kayla called back. "I'm more worried about Meowth right now!"
Unfortunately for Kayla and Meowth, she was going the wrong way. She should have headed back to Viridian City, as it was actually closer at the moment than Pewter. The cat Pokemon shivered in her arms from the poison, and Kayla ran faster. She had to get Meowth healed.
She was not aware of the figure that watched her from the trees, running silently, never seeming to tire even as her breath grew ragged from exertion. Finally, she slumped to the ground, able to run no further. Her heart thudded in her chest.
"Sorry, Meowth," she panted. "I can't run any more."
Meowth was nearly unconscious now, and obviously didn't have the energy to speak. A tear rolled down Kayla's cheek and made a tiny wet spot on Meowth's fur.
"Don't you ever carry antidotes?" a voice said. Kayla turned around. It was Taralon.
"What do you want?"
"I saw your last battle. Here, this might help," he said, kneeling next to her and opening a small vial. He forced Meowth's mouth open and poured a tiny drop from the vial into it. He then put the cap on the vial and stood. Meowth's shivering stopped, and he regained some of his energy.
"MEOWTH!" Kayla said happily.
"That was antidote I gave it," Taralon said. "It cures any poisoning."
"Thanks," Kayla said gratefully, as Meowth fell asleep.
"Just be sure to carry around lots of antidotes and other cures. Someone won't always be around to heal your Pokemon." He disappeared into the forest.
"Weird," Kayla muttered, and continued on to Pewter City.
The gym looked exactly the way her father described it. Looking around, she tried to see where the Gym Leader was.
"Anyone here?" Meowth asked boldly, his voice echoing in the rocky gym.
The lights suddenly came on, and Kayla saw the Gym Leader.
Dark-skinned, but with wide, dark eyes and long, sea-green hair, darker that Taralon's, she sat at the other end of the gym. Seeing Kayla, she stood.
"Your name, challenger?"
"Kayla Ketchum," Kayla said unsteadily.
"Ketchum? Ah, you must be Ash's daughter! I'm honored to battle the daughter of the greatest trainer ever known... and of one of my father's friends."
Kayla looked impatient. "I didn't come here to be praised, I came here to earn a badge! Let's battle!"
The leader smiled. "Very well, then. One-on-one?"
"Alright. For this battle, I select Quartzeon!"
She threw the Pokeball she had taken from her belt. A small but strong-looking creature was released. Its fur was mottled grey, and it had a long, coarse-looking mane of different shades of gray. The furry tail was the same. A rocky horn, rather like an Onix's, sprouted from its head.
"Quartzeon!" it said.
"What's *that?*" Kayla whipped out her Pokedex.
"Quartzeon. A rabbit Pokemon. This very strong Pokemon is an evolution of Eevee, and is of the rock type. It is the only Pokemon that can learn Crystal Shard."
"Tell me about Crystal Shard," Kayla said.
"Crystal Shard. A powerful rock-type attack. No more information."
"Well," Kayla said, putting her Pokedex away, "I'll just have to fight it. I choose Meowth!"
"No you don't!" Meowth whimpered. "Me against a Quartzeon?"
"I'm supposed to send out the Pikachu or Caterpie I caught in Viridian Forest?" Kayla quipped. "Go on, Meowth, you can do it."
Meowth gulped and entered the battlefield.
"I'll be gracious and give you the first move," the Gym Leader said."
"Alright. Meowth, Pay Day now!"
Meowth threw a tiny capsule at Quartzeon with all its might. Quartzeon attempted to dodge, but being a rock Pokemon, it wasn't exactly a speed demon. The capsule hit it and exploded, scattering coins everywhere.
"Quartzeon, tackle now!"
Quartzeon leapt towards Meowth, who had no time to dodge. The cat Pokemon went reeling backwards from the tackle.
"Meowth! Scratch it!"
Back on his feet quickly, Meowth ran around to the side of Quartzeon and scratched it. The Quartzeon cried out in pain and kicked at where it thought Meowth was, but the agile cat was already far out of the way.
"Quartzeon, headbutt now!"
The Quartzeon leapt towards Meowth again, head lowered for an attack. Meowth decided that getting hit by that horn would *really* hurt, and dashed to the side. Quartzeon ended up shattering a boulder. It turned around to face Meowth again, and Kayla noticed that it was breathing heavily. Likely running out of attack strength, or health.
"Meowth, give it your best Bite, now!"
Meowth jumped towards the Quartzeon. Before it could get away, it bit the rock Pokemon's foreleg with as much strength as he could summon. Quartzeon cried out, and curled the injured foreleg to its chest.
"Horn attack, Quartzeon!"
Quartzeon summoned its remaining attack strength and whacked its horn solidly against Meowth. The cat Pokemon was hurled across the gym, and lay still for a few moments.
"MEOWTH!!" Kayla screamed, concerned.
Meowth got up, rather unsteadily. The attack had not only caught him off-guard, but had been made stronger by the Quartzeon's desperation. "I... I can still fight..." He got to his feet.
"No, Meowth! I don't want to see you defeated! I'm going to use--"
"If you call Meowth back, you forfeit the match," the Gym Leader reminded. "It's one-on-one, remember?"
"Oh yeah..." Kayla said quietly, remembering. "Alright. Meowth, hang in there! Give it another bite, it's sure to be weak by now!"
Meowth summoned all his attack strength and ran towards the Quartzeon, biting its other foreleg. It screamed and slumped before finally fainting.
"Quartzeon!" the Gym Leader exclaimed in dismay.
"YEEAAAAHHHH!!!!!!" Kayla yelled, running into the battlefield and picking up Meowth. "We did it!"
"Quartzeon, return." The Gym Leader returned Quartzeon to its Pokeball and removed a badge from inside her coat. "Congratulations, Kayla. Take this." She held out the Boulderbadge.
Kayla accepted the badge. "Thanks!" The smile that had been plastered all over her face faded as joy gave way to curiosity. "You said something about your father before we started the match."
The Gym Leader nodded. "My father's Brock. I'm sure your father told you about him.
"Really? Brock's your father?? I gotta tell my dad. Who's your mother?"
"Did your father tell you about how my father got Vulpix?"
"My mother's Suzie."
"Really? Now I *really* gotta tell my dad."
The Gym Leader burst out laughing. "Knowing what my father was like, it *does* seem unlikely that he'd finally manage to settle down." She paused. "It's a bit uncomfortable to stand here and talk. We can talk more at the Pokemon Center."
"The Pokemon Center?"
"Of course." The leader was already heading towards the door. "I need to get Quartzeon healed, and your Meowth took damage as well."
"Yeah! Listen to her, Kayla!"
Kayla giggled. "Okay. The Pokemon Center it is, then." She followed Brock's daughter out of the gym.