Standard disclaimer. I don't own Arcanine, Pokemon, Saffron City, etc. I sorta own the race, but it was heavily inspired by "The Flame Pokemon-A-Thon". I do own Kayla, Taralon, Jaer, and Jimen Tournament. Frosteon is used with permission from Karana. Oh, and about the last part - the Scyther idea was adapted from a suggestion by DreeElle1@aol.com, and the standard disclaimer goes for that too.
Part 9 - A Day at the Races
When you travel in close proximity with people for any length of time, you quickly realize who are the morning people and who aren't.
Kayla was obviously a morning person, with the built-in Ketchum hyperness and 'can't-keep-me-down' spirit. Meowth woke up when he needed to, and if he didn't need to, whenever he felt like it, which put him somewhere in the middle. Cubone was a morning person, but had good survival instincts and didn't pester non-morning people. Taralon was the anti-morning person.
Peaceful... content... safe...
Taralon was having a very nice dream. He saw himself eight years old, at home... with a mother who gave a damn about him... James was fully sane and a great father... the world was wonderful...warm, safe, happy...
This soft, secure pastel world was shattered by the call of a harsh reality.
"Waaaaake up, sleepyhead!" Kayla chirruped at Taralon. Taralon mumbled something incoherent. A hand reached out of his sleeping bag and dug its fingers into the ground, and a very P.O.ed Taralon drug himself out of the bag, shooting Kayla a look of pure death from under his mess of green hair.
Kayla, being a morning person, was immune.
"You don't do mornings, do ya?" she grinned.
"Well, c'mon! It's 10:00 already and we should be getting to Saffron!" She dragged Taralon out of his sleeping bag and started brushing his matted hair out ruthlessly. A few veins stood out on Taralon's forehead.
Cubone and Meowth were sitting against a tree, conversing.
"Cubone bone bone cubone cubone?" Cubone asked worriedly. Translated: You think she'll figure out it's a bad idea to do that to Taralon in the mornings?
"Yep," Meowth said, watching Kayla fly across the clearing courtesy of Taralon Airlines. "The hard way."
Kayla wobbled back to the campsite, watching Taralon crawl back into the safety of his sleeping bag. She quickly joined Cubone and Meowth in the exact farthest place from Taralon.
At 11:00, Taralon woke up and calmly brushed his hair, ate a few rations, and packed up, cheerfully informing Kayla he was ready to go.
At 11:40, they reached Saffron.
"We're here!!" Kayla shrieked, dancing around. "Wahahaha! Taralon-kun, should I go to the dojo first or the Gym? Or the Center? Or the store? Or--"
"Do I look like an automatic decision-making machine?" Taralon said, sweatdropping.
"You're no fun," Kayla moped, then saw a banner. "WAAAII! They're having a race!" She ran to the banner. "Free for all, any Pokemon can be chosen to race with, last chance for registration is 12:00.... AAAAHHH!! It's only 20 minutes to twelve!!"
She began frantically searching through Pokeballs.
"Frosteon, Lapras, Dugtrio, Raichu, Abra.... I can't use any of those!" she whined. "And Krabby and Caterpie are completely out of the question..."
"Come on, Kayla. Let's get some rest and lunch at the Center. At least we can watch the race."
Taralon and Meowth led Kayla and the cloud of gloom that accompanied her to the Pokemon Center. Fidgeting as she ate a candy bar, Kayla was deep in thought.
"I figure I could catch a Growlithe around here just in time for the race," she said between mouthfuls, "but I'd need to evolve it into an Arcanine before I could race on it." She sighed.
"Hey! Did you say you wanted an Arcanine?" a kid of about 11 asked, coming up to Kayla. He was cute, she noticed, with blue hair and green eyes. (Author's note: NO! This is NOT my James obsession speaking! COMPLETELY different person here!)
"Yeah," Kayla said. "Why?"
The kid held up a Pokeball, grinning eagerly. "I've got one I've been wanting to trade!"
That translated in Kayla's mind as "I've got a good racing Pokemon I want to give you just in time for the race you want to enter."
"WAI!" Kayla snatched the Pokeball and whipped out Pokedex, pushing buttons to bring the exchange system online. "What do you want in exchange for it?"
"Well... I've been looking for a Caterpie to keep as a pet when I get back home..."
"Perfect!" A Pokeball on Kayla's belt disappeared, to be replaced with a new one. She handed it to the kid. "Here, here's the Caterpie I caught in Viridian Forest! Take good care of him, kays?"
The kid nodded. "Okay. That Arcanine doesn't like to battle, I should say. He'd be great for the race, though."
Kayla nodded loudly and grabbed Arcanine's Pokeball, leaving the Center at warp speed to sign up.
The race started at 12:15. Seats were packed. At least, by the stupid people who wanted to be out in the sun. Most people hung around in the lobby of the racecourse, watching the events on a bigscreen TV. Taralon, Meowth, Cubone, and the kid who'd traded the Arcanine were among those wise people.
"So, your name's Jaer?" Taralon asked the kid, who nodded.
"I'm planning to go home to Fuchsia soon and just raise bug Pokemon. They're my favorite kind, y'know. I'm thinking of taking breeding lessons from Brock and Suzie."
Taralon smiled. "More power to ya."
"Thanks. What do you plan on doing?"
"I'm gonna try to be the most powerful ground-type trainer. A couple years ago, I won third place in the Jimen Tournament. I'm probably gonna try again as soon as I have some free time."
"Really? What'd you win with?"
"My Cubone and my Nidoking. My first two Pokemon," he said proudly.
"Cool. Well, I wish ya luck."
Just then, the race started.
Kayla eyed the competition nervously. They were fast!! Arcanine would be hard-pressed to keep up.
The starter gun was shot. Everything but Arcanine took off. Kayla pikued and crashed back to planet Earth. "Yah, Arcanine!"
The huge tiger dog shot from the starting line. Kayla clung to his fur, desperately hoping she wouldn't fall.
The first obstacle was fairly simple - hurdles. The Kangaskhans couldn't jump them, though. They were out.
After that, a flat run to a rocky section cut into cubic pillars that required a lot of jumping. A couple Tauros and a Rapidash hurt themselves, and only one Nidoking made it through. Kayla forced herself to regulate her breathing as she navigated Arcanine carefully through the pillars. Finally, that trap was over. The Rapidashes were in the lead, followed by the Scythers, the remaining Nidoking, the Tauros, with Kayla on Arcanine trailing behind.
Taralon looked worried, wringing his shirttail. Cubone was all but gawing on his club. Meowth had taken his koban off and was nervously toying with it. Jaer was on the edge of his seat, silently urging his old Pokemon on. They watched as the race advanced, the obstacles getting tougher and tougher. All through the race, Kayla was in last place. Arcanine was obviously trying, but couldn't seem to keep up.
"Arcanine isn't doing so hot today," one of the announcers said. "It'd take a miracle to get this puppy in the lead!"
The race came to a huge hill. Some of the Scythers, despite their trainers' protests, tried to cheat and fly above the hill. They were disqualified. The last Scyther couldn't even make it up.
On the way down, all but one of the Rapidashes fell and hurt themselves. It was down to Rapidash, two Tauros, and Arcanine.
And by then, there was one obstacle left.
Kayla whimpered, eying the lake and its stepping stones. Rapidash and the Tauros had already made it across and were probably to the last stretch by now. Kayla could tell just by looking, that the stones were too heavy for Arcanine. And she somehow doubted that a fire Pokemon could swim.
"Arca..." Arcanine panted. "Nine..."
Kayla sighed. "How are we gonna get across that? It'd take a miracle."
Something clicked in Arcanine's head. He was FURIOUS. And he was not going to lose.
Growling low in his throat, Arcanine backed away from the lake.
"Wha-?! Arcanine, what are you doing? We can't--"
Arcanine glowed blue briefly and charged.
Kayla screamed as the fire dog ran. And I do mean RAN. It zipped across the stepping stones before any had a chance to sink. It hurtled over the hills and onto the flat stretch, still moving at a much faster speed.
"Agility," Pokedex chimed from Kayla's pocket. "A Psychic-type attack. When used, it increases a Pokemon's speed."
Kayla realized she had a chance. A look of determination spread over her face. She was a Ketchum. She was going to win.
"Arcanine, let's go! Faster!"
Arcanine growled in agreement and glowed again, moving even faster.
"And it seems a miracle has occurred! Arcanine is moving much, much faster! It's tied with Rapidash now!"
The surge of excitement was felt by all of Kayla's supporters.
"GO, KAYLA!" Taralon yelled.
"YOU CAN DO IT, KAYLA!" Meowth called.
"GO! GO! GO!" Jaer screamed.
The Tauros had given up. It was a dead heat between Rapidash and Arcanine. Kayla was NOT going to give up. The Ketchum fighting spirit had been ignited.
"Arcanine! Let's go! Full sprint!"
"ARCANIIIINE!" Arcanine roared, summoning all its speed and... pulling ahead of Rapidash! From there, the lead seesawed.
Arcanine regained the lead.
And it stayed that way until it bounded across the finish line.
A section of the lobby exploded in cheers.
Shaking and dazed, Kayla climbed off Arcanine. A cat leapt into her arms, congratulating her loudly. Taralon and the kid she'd gotten Arcanine from weren't far behind.
"YOU DID IT!" Meowth screeched.
"I knew you could!" Taralon grinned happily.
"You and Arcanine were great! I'm glad I traded him to you.
Kayla grinned happily. "Thanks!
Kayla went to bed early. But not before it was established that Jaer would travel with them until Fuchsia. Kayla fell asleep easily, with a new Pokemon, a trophy, and a new friend.
Well! I've introduced a new character and brought some more depth into Taralon's personality! I'm going to explore selfsame depth eventually... how? Sore wa himitsu desu!
Next: A Most Unusual Gym Match