Jennifer stared down her opponent. On the surface, this gym leader looked pretty nonthreatening. He was about six years younger than Jennifer, and quite a bit shorter. Despite the discrepancy, he was still a powerful trainer and a gym leader, and Jennifer knew she couldn’t take him lightly.
“Ordinarily I don’t take on challengers who have less than two Pokemon, but for you I’ll make an exception. Are you ready to face your first gym challenge, Jennifer?”
“I’m ready,” Jennifer responded, perhaps sounding a bit more confident than she actually was. After her escape from Team Rocket, she had spent most of the day training as per Forrest’s instructions. She did pretty well in her practice battles, winning about seventy percent against the Viridian Forest Trainer’s club, which put her close to the top trainer there. Still, only two of the trainers at this club had the Pewter gym badge, one of them claiming they got very lucky with their butterfree’s confusion in the battle, the other being an experienced trainer who was only dropping by to see a friend. To make matters worse, Jennifer lost to both of those trainers in practice matches, so she didn’t have the transitive property of battling to claim she could win. Her best chance it seemed was in her typing advantage, and never before had she been so happy she had picked Squirtle.
“Go for it, Onix!” Forrest shouted out, sending out his massive rock snake. She had heard tales of this Onix battling many of the trainers she had battled against the previous day. Almost none of them had managed to bring it down.
“Come on out, Squirtle!” Jennifer thought about the upcoming battle. Some battles required a decent amount of complicated strategy, but this one was pretty simple for her. Trying to tackle this onix would be pointless, but water attacks would be pretty effective.
Brock was acting as the official judge of this battle, and started talking to make the battle official. “The gym battle between challenger Jennifer and gym leader Forrest will start now! This will be a one on one battle, with no substitutions allowed. Begin!”
“Onix, rock throw!”
Onix moved first, and hit Squirtle with a powerful volley of rocks. The extra training from the previous day paid off though, as Squirtle managed to take the hit with ease and fired back a barrage of bubbles at the target. It hit the Onix with incredible force to leave it barely standing.
“Onix, slam! End this battle now!”
“Squirtle, follow up with a water gun!”
Onix tried to move and directly confront its opponent, but the water from bubble made it slow, allowing Squirtle to fire before it could reach the turtle. Squirtle then fired a water gun and hit the Onix directly in the face. The snake could not withstand the water, and collapsed on the battlefield.
Brock raised his flag and started to speak. “Onix is unable to battle. Squirtle is the winner, so Jennifer wins the match!”
“Onix, return!” Forrest started to speak. “Jennifer, you are now the proud owner of the bolderbadge, one of the eight badges you need to get to the Johto/Kanto league tournament. With your skill and determination, I am confident you can get there. Now, I asked you to have our battle this early for a reason. We’re now going to focus on getting you to Cereulan without incident, so listen carefully.”
“Hold on!” Jennifer exclaimed, “Did you go easy on me there to make sure I could escape this city? I was, well, expecting a more intense battle!”
“I was definitely trying to win,” Forrest explained. “I usually battle novice trainers with a Geodude and an Onix in a 2v2 battle. Since this was a 1v1 battle, I only used Onix, but my gym generally gives novice trainers a sense of the importance of typing in battle. I tend not to win against water or grass type Pokemon, but don’t worry, you’ll find other gyms to be tougher.”
Jennifer considered this argument. “All right, what’s your plan to get me out of here?”
Forrest tossed over an oran berry to Squirtle, who started eating it happily. “We don’t have time for the Pokemon center right now, so take this. Jennifer, if anyone asks, you lost this battle, all right?
“Um, sure, I can do that. Why?”
“Team Rocket has a pretty big base of operations hidden nearby,” Forrest explained, “but they aren’t strong enough to directly attack the city in an attempt to kidnap you, not with Brock and me here. If we wait in Pewter long enough, they might gather reinforcements and try this, but it would be pretty costly for them and not their first option, especially since I doubt capturing you is an incredibly high priority for them. It isn’t, right?”
“I… I doubt it,” Jennifer said, “They’re doing it for money. A fair bit of money, but I’m reasonably sure I’m not essential to any of their plans.”
“All right, good,” Forrest responded. “That means they will probably be constantly watching the city, waiting for you to go out on your own. Well, today, you are going to go out with Brock to Viridian Forest to catch a Pokemon, and then you will get lost. ”
“I don’t need to go to Viridian Forest though, I need to head to Mount Moon again to get to Cerulean City!”
Brock spoke up, “Pewter City has a network of underground tunnels with many secret entrances. I can lead you to one of these entrances in Viridian Forest, and then I will tell you where to go from there to get to the foot of Mount Moon. In the ensuing chaos, I will be racing Team Rocket to search for you in the vast forest, and they will spend a lot of time searching for you in the wrong place. This is more convincing if you need to train there anyway in preparation for a gym rematch. You can easily get lost in the Forest just running after a Pikachu. If we get lucky, Team Rocket won’t catch on until it’s too late.”
Jennifer spoke up, “Team Rocket isn’t that stupid! They’re bound to have someone watching the foot of Mount Moon. I might get lucky, but this sounds like an incredibly risky plan. I can’t fight off a Rocket Grunt on my own.”
“That’s why,” Brock stated, “I will be giving you my Steelix for the duration of your journey. When you get to Cerulean City, you can give it back to me through the PC system. Even if they do notice you, try not to reveal this Pokemon until you have no other option. Your Squirtle should be enough to run away from or defeat most of the wild Pokemon in Mount Moon, but avoid trainer battles while you’re there.”
Jennifer became frightened at this new responsibility. “But… Brock! I can’t! If I lose or get caught, Team Rocket takes it away! I’m sorry, but… I can’t accept that possibility.”
“Jennifer, Steelix is a steel type Pokemon, and most Rocket Grunts are only allowed to use poison types or Rattatas. My Steelix is also tougher than any of Team Rocket’s Pokemon even before typing is put in to play, so long as you don’t go up against an executive or Giovanni himself. He will protect you, and I know that you are a good trainer for him.”
“Fine, lets just get this operation underway. When does the Viridian Forest Battle Club start?”
Forrest laughed. “Just about… well, now, in fact. It’s almost like I chose the gym battle for this time on purpose. Brock and Jennifer, good luck. If Team Rocket captures you, I will personally come to help you out.”
Brock and Jennifer left to the Viridian city battle club, where Sarah led the novice battlers in another day of training. Sarah was watching a match when she saw the two of them pass by, and ran up to Jennifer.
“Jennifer! Are you done with your gym battle? How did you do? Do you have a shiny new badge to show me?”
Jennifer glanced at Brock for a split second and then sighed. “I got crushed. Brock is taking me in to the forest today and I’m going to get another Pokemon. We decided afterwards that Forrest was being a little too hasty in letting me challenge him.”
“Oh, that’s too bad. Can I come with you? I’m not doing much else today, and I’d love to help you catch a Pokemon. With Team Rocket around, you need all the backup you can get.”
Jennifer sighed. Sarah was great, but if she realized what was going on, she would want to come with her. Jennifer couldn’t risk anyone else in the equation here.
“I’m sorry, but I think I’ll just go with Brock today. I’ll see you later, Sarah!”
Sarah smiled and didn’t press the point. “Ok, see you later, I can’t wait to see what you catch! We’ll have to have another battle once you get another Pokemon.”
Jennifer waved goodbye and looked down. She liked Sarah, and made a mental note to herself to make sure to revisit Pewter after a while. She didn’t really mind lying, but lying to a friend like this felt like a betrayal in a sense. She shook her head, keeping Sarah in her mind was going to get her unfocused and off the mission. She needed to be sharp today if she was going to get to Cerulean.
“Hey, Jennifer, are you feeling ok?”
Jennifer blinked a couple of times and looked at Brock, who was showing concern.
“Oh, yeah, I’m all right. Just a bit nervous. Lets move.”
Brock nodded and they soon lost sight of the viridian battle club. Jennifer got lost, and was relying on Brock to find the entrances to the tunnels that were supposedly beneath the city. With Brock as her guide, they got to where they needed to go without incident.
“Now, Jennifer, this tunnel should lead you straight in to Mount Moon. Here, let me give you a map of the mountain. Look at it, you see where you need to go once you get there?”
Jennifer studied the map. “All right, this shouldn’t be too difficult if I’m not spotted. Does Team Rocket know about these underground tunnels beneath Pewter?”
Brock sighed. “I don’t know. Not many people do, and I’ve never heard any reports about team rocket scouting these tunnels, but it’s not impossible they have learned about them. Be careful and don’t assume you’re safe at any moment. The tunnel provides a straight route to mount moon, just head east from here, and don’t head up to the surface or make any turns until the tunnel ends.”
Jennifer nodded. “Got it. I guess this is goodbye then. Thanks for your help, Brock, I couldn’t have gotten this far without you.”
“Goodbye. Before you go, here’s my Steelix. Give it back to me when you get to Cerulean. He will protect you on your way. I’ll check this place again in five minutes. If you run in to trouble or decide against leaving in this way, make sure to wait here for me before you come up.”
Jennifer smiled and took the poke-ball. “Thank you, I appreciate it. I’ll make sure to give this back to you later.”
Brock waved goodbye and finally left the room. Jennifer sighed. She appreciated what Brock was trying to do, but at the same time… She placed the Steelix poke-ball on the ground and started running. This was her journey. Nobody was going to get hurt other than her.
“Squirtle, come on out! We have a long journey ahead of us. Lets go!”
Squirtle exited the poke-ball, and the two started running off, getting away from Pewter. Brock shouted out her name in the distance, and the race was on. Five minutes later, she heard a Steelix roar, but that wasn’t her concern anymore. She continued racing on to freedom as fast as she could, and eventually reached the end of the tunnel. She saw the exit, which was disguised on the ground near an entrance to Mount Moon. Seeing nobody observing the tunnel exit, she climbed out of the tunnel only and entered the mountain.
“Huh, it’s a bit dark in here. Squirtle, we need to be careful we don’t trip on any Geodude arms.”
A voice on the other side of the room laughed. “Hah, I swear they intentionally get in the way to troll people. What’s your name?”
Jennifer sighed and glanced in that direction. “It’s Katie. What’s your name?”
The figure headed closer to her and she sees a uniform come in to focus a little more. The figure is smiling and polite until she looked a bit closer at Jennifer. Then she grinned evily.
“Are you sure your name is Katie? Lets go, Ekans. Glare!”
Jennifer felt in shock as the Ekans looked in to her eyes, and suddenly she couldn't move. “S… Squirtle! Run!”
The Rocket grunt laughed happily.
“Well then, you’re a nice surprise. I didn’t expect you to be here today. Ekans, deal with that Squirtle while I have a nice little chat with our new prisoner here. I guess sometimes the boring assignments are the most rewarding. It’s nothing personal Jennifer, but it’s time for you to go back home.”
End of Chapter 7
To be continued in Chapter 8: A New Friend