B1 — 42. Please, Don’t Choke!
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PoV:

1:  Jayline (The Alolan girl Rhea picked up =P)

2:  Poppy (Jay's Bounsweet)

3:  Jayline

Pokemon Map: 

Spoiler

I loosely follow this map as a visual guide; the creator made it in paint?!?!  It's insane!  Some errors here and there, but I follow its design for the most part.  Areas can be further apart, some cities are in the wrong places or not listed, and the regions aren't nearly so close.  The best map I've found, though!

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Recap:  

Spoiler

Mya was able to get through the worst of her losing trauma with Rhea, Nova, and her friend Tera's help.  Rhea had some much-needed support from her friends and family, too.

Now, let's see how Jayline and Poppy do!  How will our Alolan girl do?

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I'd like to thank my patrons for continuing to support me:

Howldawg, David, AchroniaXenia, Greatestsin, Thea Nyx Petersen, Stuart Dye, Endo, and my other Patrons!

Family Tree / Characters

Spoiler

Rhea Everhart (Swablu) - Main Character.  Long blonde hair, coral blue eyes.

Maya (Mya most of the time) - Mawile, female.  Hyper-aggressive competative personality.

Nova - Eevee, female.  Very impressionable and seems to have taken a rather attention seeking personality from Rhea showing her off.  Can turn into all Eeveelutions.

Mother - Christie Everhart (Very Low Master-tier Trainer, renowned Breeder, and Scientist; a daughter to Drake and Glacia; younger sister of Cynthia)

No Pokemon Listed

Father - Keith Everhart (Grandmaster Trainer; family not mentioned yet)

Franky - (Main Team) Gengar, male,  Keith's Starter.

Jeffery - (Main Team) Fearow, male.  Keith caught him when starting the Hidden Master Village.

Vilora - (Main Team) 5”11 Butterfree, female.  Knows Teleport.

Frisky  -  (Main Team) Medicham, female.  Very shy about meeting new Pokemon.

Sabin - Rhea's older brother by 3 years, a Platinum-tier Trainer.

Atreyu - (Main Team) Houndoom, male.  Sabin's Starter that he caught with his father, Keith, near Mt. Silver.

Luna - (Possibly Main Team) 4”11 Mismagius, female.  Sabin recently caught her in a secret cave near the edges of Mt. Silver.  Knows Imprision.

Unnamed - Kangaskhan that beat Katelin’s Roserade

Cynthia (Cindy) - Rhea's aunt and one of the Top-Tier Legendary Trainers of the world.  She's the Active Champion of Sinnoh, tutoring Dawn to take over the position in time.  Age - Late 40's.

Lila - (Back-up Main Team) Spiritomb that is on the average level of her main team.
Esfforia - (Main Team) Her 14”7 Garchomp, female.
Melina - (Main Team) 50”11 Milotic, female.
Unnamed Togekiss - (Main Team) 8”11 
Unnamed Lucario -  (Main Team)
Unnamed Roserade - (Main Team)
Unnamed Eelektross - (Main Team)
Unnamed Gastrodon - (Back-up Main Team)
Unnamed Braviary - (Back-up Main Team)
Unnamed Glaceon - (Back-up Main Team)
Polic - Unknown Pokemon.  Weaker Pokemon that Cynthia brings on visits to help push Sabin.

Bianca - Rhea's cousin, Master-tier Trainer, and Cynthia's daughter.  Age 26.  Having a difficult time living away from a major city with making exotic and new dishes.  Rhea's pretty close to her.

Unnamed Stoutland - 4"6 at shoulders.

Hilbert - Bianca's husband, Former Champion of the Unova League (replaced by Iris).  Rhea believes he's kind of clumsy. 

Grandpa Drake - Rhea's Grandfather, Cynthia and Christie's father, and Glacia's husband.  Apparently, he's a Former Legendary-tier Trainer.  He's lost a lot of his former strength over the years but is still a terror if he's serious.  Owns a boat that he built himself as a young man.  Married to Glacia; Active Hoenn E4, Rank-1, but Glacia is trying to get him to retire.  He won't until someone worthy can take his spot.

Grandma Glacia - Rhea's grandmother on her mother's side.  She is a match for Drake, although, the type advantage might play a role in that.  She's still easily Champion-tier in her youth and holds an E4 position.


Amira Rocket (Mew) - A part of  Rhea's Team.  She is the granddaughter of Giovanni and Ariana Rocket, and the daughter of Lyra and Silver Rocket.  She's really reserved about friends, very responsible, and shy.  She has a habit of putting on her sunglasses to adopt a persona to protect herself from criticism and rude behavior.  She loves her family dearly.

Lyra Rocket - Amira's Mom.  Her daughter classifies her as a stalker that went after her dad.  She's very hyper-active and doesn't know when to not push boundaries.  A High Champion-tier Trainer, she traveled with Legends like Ethan and Kris.

Zelri - 4"11 Porygon-Z, female.

Silver Rocket - Amira's Dad.  Not much known other than him being a caring father that works for his father.  High Master-tier.

Ariana Rocket - Amira's grandmother on her dad's side.  She's the highest-ranking Administrator in the Rocket conglomerate.  Possibly between Master and High Master-tier.

Giovanni Rocket - Amira's infamous grandfather on her dad's side.  He's gone through a lot since his criminal days and now has a legitimate business that has built up the Viridian, Pallet, and Pewter City-States to their current glory.  Grandmaster-tier Trainer and the Gym Leader of Viridian.  No one has been able to beat him since Chase, the current Champion.


Mallory (Lori) Medina - Rhea's final teammate.  Not much is known about Lori so far, except that her parents died when she was young and Grimsley took her and her sister in.  She takes after the bright, devious side of her step-dad.  Seems to have some subtle attention needs from her sister since she was always too busy to hang out.

Shauntal Medina - Mallory's older sister, and Unova E4, Rank-4 Member.  She's an author, too.  Grandmaster-tier.

Grimsley Brooks - Mallory and Shauntal's step-dad and Unova E4, Rank-2 Member; High Grandmaster-tier.  He's in many underground circles.  Married to Karen Brooks, but they don't live with each other.

Karen Brooks - Wife of Grimsley Brooks, notorious party-girl, and Kanto's Active E4, Rank-1 Member.  She's Mallory and Shauntal's step-mom and Casey Brooks' mother.  High Grandmaster-tier.

Casey Brooks - Mallory and Shauntal's step-sister.  She's in the Starter Award Program with Rhea's team.  Casey is a notorious national party-girl mess that streams herself doing stupid and ridiculous stuff, taking after her mother. 


Jason - Rhea's best friend growing up in the Hidden Master's Village.  He's pretty outgoing and cheery.

Katelin (Kate) - Jason's older sister by 3 years and Sabin's girlfriend.  Rhea used to really dislike her for taking her brother's attention away but started to warm up to her recently.  Platinum-tier Trainer with an Encrusted Platinum Soul Badge to her name.

Jace - (Main Team) Noctowl
Fabio - (Main Team; Lead Pokemon) 6”10 Ampharos
Noral - Male Roserade that was beaten by Sabin’s Kangaskhan

Annila - Jason and Katelin's mother.  She's a picture fanatic and obsessed with Gym Leader Viola.  Master-tier Trainer.

Unnamed - (Main Team) Yanmega
Reon - (Main Team) 6”8 Poliwrath

 Kent - Jason and Katelin's dad.  Not much known, but assumed within Master-tier.


Lucian Allard - On a team with Jason and Lenard (Len/Lenster).  He's a very cocky boy that has something to prove to his parents.  He's rude and insufferable to most.

Diantha Allard - Lucian's mother, Siebold's wife, and Active Champion of Kalos.  She's supposed to be a decent Trainer within the Champion-tier bracket.  She doesn't have a lot of time to spend with her family between being Champion and an actress.  She's not on good terms with Rhea's family right now.

Siebold Allard - Lucian's father, Diantha's husband, and Kalos Active E4 Rank-3 Member.  Grandmaster-tier.  Owns a 5-star restaurant.

Ludovic Malet - Siebold's nephew and Lucian's cousin.  Seems to somewhat look up to Lucian and follow his mannerisms ... just not as insufferable.


Lenard (Len/Lenster) Hart - Best friends with Mallory and on the same team as Jason.  He enjoys creating music and partying, just not in the same way as Casey.

Elesa Hart - Len's mother, Gym Leader in Unova, and cross-regional musical superstar.


Blue - Legendary-tier Trainer that appears to have a deep hate for Giovanni.  He had some unknown tragedies that happened during the Ultra War that caused him to turn to alcohol to cope.  He's married to Leaf, and they had some ups and downs with their relationship, but seem on the recovery.  Rhea dislikes him for ruining her 8th birthday and the special card her mother made.  He works with Red in Alola at the Battle Tree.

As much time as I have at the moment to make this; I'll continue to increase the data in time.

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6:25 A.M. June 24, Thursday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)

Events:  The Preliminaries for the Joint Kanto and Johto Indigo Summer League have concluded; 105 Trainers and their Pokemon have advanced from Bronze to Silver.  A week of celebration is to follow, marked with events put on by the Indigo League, after which the Summer Round Robin Cup will begin, to crown the best of each Tier among those that advanced.  The battles begin on the 27th.  Rhea started her journey on the 9th of June—she’s been a Trainer for 16 Days (15 Officially; 16 since getting Mya and Nova).

 

Jay stretched out on the bed next to Hannah, being careful not to wake her; ever since she first started traveling with Rhea and Sam’s groups, she discovered that they both had very different ideas of what was a good time to wake up.  7 A.M. was normal for these girls, but she got up a bit earlier than that.

Poppy gave her a cheery greeting as she got up, and Jay returned it, sliding out of the bed; Sam had offered her the option to save credits by joining them, which she couldn’t be picky about, and Hannah insisted she not sleep on the ground in her sleeping bag.

Her little Bounsweet hopped off the chair she was using to sleep, joining her as Jay released a soft groan; she stretched to ease her stiff muscles, the exercise was natural after years of a good morning routine.

Hmm … Well, Poppy, it’s our first Gym Battle…

Poppy’s concerned eyes lifted to look at her.

I know.  Jay sighed, getting on the floor to stretch; it was still very dim in the room because of the drawn curtains, but the bit of light shining through the edges helped to illuminate her surroundings enough to see.  Rhea and the others’ matches yesterday were insane.  It’s supposed to be catered to our combined ability, though.

The Fruit Pokemon smiled a little, telling her that she hoped they wouldn’t be embarrassed.

You and me both, Poppy … You and me both.  We don’t have a Grass-Type Move, and Rapid Spin … yeah, not great against physical defense, but we’ll do what we can!

Once finished, Jay checked her phone to see Rhea and the others were up, which wasn’t surprising.  Amira got up insanely early.

 

6:04 A.M. Rhea:  Hey!  So, I’m going to go check out some stuff with my brother this morning.  Jason’s spending time with his sister, and Mallory’s dragging Amira around town to look at stuff.  We’ll be there for your guys’ matches before hanging out for the rest of the day.  We’re going to head off to Mt. Moon tomorrow; Jason already left with his team.

6:05 A.M. Rhea:  I just want to be there for you guys, too!  Let me know if anything comes up!  We’re rooting for you!

6:07 A.M. Rhea:  Oh, and Mya’s doing better now.  She’s down a bit, but overall happy we’re not giving up.  Forrest is going to be our last Encrusted Badge, and we’ll get it!

6:11 A.M. Rhea:  I almost forgot!  Yeah, like Amira was saying yesterday; it won’t be nearly as hard for you guys!  I’m … kind of a special case … heh, yeah, not as glamorous as people make it sound.  You guys will kill it!

 

Rhea’s enthusiasm helped to calm her queasy stomach.  Maybe it is good to not be so advanced in Bronze-Tier … We get to stretch a little and figure things out.  What do you think, Poppy?

The Bounsweet hopped up and down, confidence filling Jay’s bond with her.  Great.  Well!  Let’s do this!

Drafting a text back, Jay stuck her tongue out a bit while going over it a few times; she sucked in her upper lip a little in frustration.  Is it too long?  Maybe I should cut back a little … Wait, you think it’s fine?

Poppy’s leaves went up and down in a nod, a bright expression on her cheery face.

Alright, and … send!

 

6:41 A.M. Jay:  Thanks, Rhea!  Poppy and I are nervous, but excited, too.  I’m happy Mya’s doing better; let her know that we think she’s super strong!  We’ll be kind of getting ready for our battles today, so don’t worry about us.  I look forward to seeing you after the match, win or lose.  It’s just kind of crazy battling in front of that many people; it’s so much different than Alola!  In a good way, I guess.  Have fun with your brother, and I won’t say a word!  Thank you for trusting me.

 

Okay, let’s get ready and go over strategies; if Rhea’s battle taught me anything, it’s that we need to really know our Moves and what we’re going up against.  Luckily, we’re like fourth or fifth … behind some other people—we’re before Hannah and the others, though.

The Bounsweet tapped her leg with assurance passing through Jay’s spirit.  Yeah … maybe I’m worrying too much!  Let’s just have fun!

After she was finished agonising over her message, and the tough battle ahead, she got in the shower, letting the hot water help her forget any worries, if only for a brief time.

Smiling, she put on a soft song in the shower to not wake the others; Hannah taught her how to use her phone over the last few days—it wasn’t a Rotom Phone, but it did the job.

The trio got up between 7 A.M. and 8, dragging themselves out of bed to brush their teeth, hair, and do all their other morning activities.  It was 8:30 when they left the hotel to get breakfast, going for a light meal since they weren’t that hungry, bodies too jittery to want much sustenance.

They looked up the Master Aide they’d be going up against today, and according to Hannah, she was a woman in the middle of the road when it came to her Battle Record for the Gym scoreboard.

Sitting down at the yogurt cafe they stopped off at, the four of them sat around a table with their phones out, browsing her battle record.

“Hmm … Master Amara.”  Jade slumped back in her chair, glaring at the information.  “She uses the Geodude line pretty often…”

“She’s pretty,” Hannah mumbled between sipping her morning coffee.  “Purple hair and eyes like Lori.  Although, I don’t know about that fashion … She seems to like green and yellow a lot.”

Sam chuckled.  “Better than me … I don’t know what to wear half the time; I’ve heard purple hair’s kind of hard to match stuff with.”

Jay was more interested in the Gym format itself.  “So … I’ve had a question,” she whispered, drawing the other three’s attention.

“Mhm?”  Hannah asked.  “Oh, wait, I didn’t ask, but … I didn’t wake you up during the night.  Did I?”

She shook her head.  “Nope.  Not at all.”

Jade giggled.  “You sure?  Hannah’s a pretty restless sleeper.”

“No, really; I didn’t wake up at all.”

“Good,” Hannah sighed, scratching her neck.  “I was pretty nervous when I woke up, and you weren’t there … I felt like I’d kicked you off or something.”

Sam shifted a little in her chair to face her, glancing back at the crowds of people passing across the Pewter streets as they sat in the 2nd-story outside dining area of the cafe; it was surprisingly tempered compared to the previous day’s wind.  “You wanted to ask something?”

“Yeah,” Jay reached down to grab Poppy and set her on the table as she finished her food.  “So … Gyms go through a ton of Pokemon in order to keep things balanced between Trainers.  Right?”

“Mhm?”  Hannah mumbled between bites of her yogurt.

“I was just wondering … Where do they get all their Pokemon from?  Also, at some point, are there just too many Pokemon in the Gym’s archives that get way too strong for normal use … You know, creating a big group of higher-tier Pokemon that don’t get to see much action?”

“Oh!  Heh,” Jade sat up a bit.  “Yeah, I know that one!  The Masters each gather their own specific Pokemon for the Tiers, and they’re usually found in the wild.  They make a bond with them with the expectation that the Pokemon will return to its habitat after a time, stronger and able to defend their territory.”

“Isn’t that … like pretty rough on them, though?”  Jade asked.  “The whole harming the Pokemon if it’s separated from their Trainer thing?”

Hannah shrugged.  “I mean, it probably isn’t easy, but if the expectation is to leave at the start, then I guess it’s not that huge of a deal since all the Gyms do it.”

“Wait,” Jade’s blue locks shifted at her shoulder as she shook her head, “I think there’s an Unova Gym that does it without bonding.”

“What?  No way,” Sam scoffed.  “Who?”

“B … It starts with a B, I’m sure,” Jade whispered.  “My parents … bah, never mind.  Eh, yeah, so that’s how Gyms do it in Kanto.”

“Huh … I guess it must work then,” Jay shrugged.  “Thanks, I was just a bit confused how they could have like … Pokemon for every single person.”

Hannah’s grin became forced.  “You guys ready?”

Sam instantly nodded, her eyes sparkling.  “Yeah!  Tera’s hyped!  She can’t wait to have Mya watch her; aww … I’m not trying to embarrass you,” she soothed, looking down to pet her Phanpy as she gave her a light glare.  “I think it’s sweet you want to impress Mya.”

Jay thought back on yesterday’s Sandstorm match, gut tightening.  Nova had shown some pretty cool moves while fighting Trainers along their way to Pewter, including the ability to transform into Glaceon whenever she wanted.  However, when Mya got into that ring, she was actually putting up a fight against that monstrous Onix.

Jade scratched her left arm with a groan, picking up her happy Pichu.  “Mimi and I aren’t ready … Mimi’s still pretty young.”

Sam reached over to rub Mimi’s head, making her cheeks spark with pleasure.  “Hasn’t Tera and Nova been helping her get used to battle?”

“Yeah, but … It’s a Rock-Type Gym,” she mumbled, scratching under the little mouse’s chin.  “She just learned Play Nice yesterday, when Orin was helping her—he’s kind of taken on the big brother role for her—always trying to teach her something.”

Hannah sat forward, pushing her dishes up to lean against the table.  “Hmm … Lori helped you figure out all her Moves and stuff, right?  You kind of skipped out on the details the last few days.  Anything out of the blue?”

Jade smiled a little, playing with Mimi’s heart tail.  “Yeah … Timid Natured, but she has a spunk to her.  She’s got Electric Terrain, which is pretty insane, but it takes forever to charge it at our level … It also drains us … bad.”

Jay’s eyes lit up.  “Oh!  Electric Terrain is so pretty; I’ve seen a few Trainers use it at festivals in Alola.  You can do some really cool things with it.”

“I mean, yeah, it’s awesome … Just, heh, not where we are.  Still, I have faith in her, and she’s been getting so much support from everyone … She doesn’t want to let everyone down.”

Sam reached over to pet her.  “Aww, c’mon, Mimi, you’re not going to let anyone down.  Just do your best, and that’s all there is to it.”

“Yeah,” Jade grinned, lifting Mimi up in the air to look at her.  “Remember what Lori said?  Once you get Magnet Rise, you’re gonna be a monster!”

“Hmm?”  Jay leaned back with a small smile.  “What if she’s an Alolan Pichu?”

The three girls gave her a questioning look.

“Huh?  Why does that matter?”  Jade asked.

Eyebrow lifting, Jay glanced between them.  “Umm …  you really don’t know?  Alola has a unique type of Raichu that has this surfing ability that’s basically … never mind,” she mumbled, sitting back while running her fingers through her blonde hair.  “What are the chances she’s from Alola in Kanto?”

Jade turned a smirk to Hannah.  “Well … pretty high in the area, we found Mimi, right?”

“Mhm!  Isn’t Tera from Alola?”

Sam nodded.  “Yup!  Rhea found out that her dad had to be a Mudsdale or Mudbray.”

“That’s cool,” Jay grinned, glad they were talking about Pokemon she actually knew about.  “Mudsdale is actually Poni Island’s Kahuna’s main Pokemon; Kahuna Hapu is awesome!  They’re such … eh-heh, you have no idea who Kahuna Hapu is, do you?”  she asked at their blank stares.

“Sorry,” Hannah shook her head.  “I’ve never really heard much about Alola; most of the stuff we learn about has to do with the Orange and Sevii Islands.”

Jay sighed, sitting back.  “No, it’s fine … I’m just a little stunned at the size of Kanto … and you have a whole different region on the west side.  It’s just … so big.”

Sam got to her feet, stretching out.  “Well, why don’t we slowly learn about Alola from you as we show you a bunch of cool places in Kanto!  First, we gotta get this badge, though.  Ready to go and study a bit more and come up with some good strategies?”

“Yo, we totally got this, though!”  Hannah cheered, picking up Star as he finished dancing with Tera.  “Star’s got this big plan he’s been cooking up!  Let’s win!”

Jay was a bit more nervous, but if anyone had the right to it, it was Jade, and if Mimi could soldier through, then she and Poppy had to give it a shot.

The rest of the morning was filled with the four of them strategizing, and in no time at all, she found herself in the arena.

Amira, Rhea, and Lori met them in the hall to cheer them on before taking their seats.  Sabin went with Katelin to some remote place to spend time together while Jason, according to his post on Rhea’s page and her earlier text, had moved onto the next area—Mt. Moon.  To be honest, she was a little spooked by the stories she’d heard from Hannah about ghostly Clefairy.

It was strange getting updates from world-famous people via Rhea’s connection to her account; they were so open and crazy.  Some conversations between Cynthia and Rhea’s mother were straight-up forgotten languages that even her browser didn’t know how to translate, and the scientific gibberish was dizzying when Bianca joined in about Dream Formulas or something like that.

The strange part was how little it seemed Rhea got onto the application; she was always online, but her family went hard on the app.

Hannah got daily messages from home; her father sent most of them in the evening when he woke up for work.  For how often Sam complained about her sister, she sent periodic messages over the past few days, although her sister mainly complained about her boyfriend; her parents kept tabs, too.  Jade was constantly talking up her older sister and sending her pictures of their progress.

Jay looked at her own messages from home … empty.  Lips tightening, she put away her phone and returned her attention to the Gym battles happening before her—she was next.

W-We can do this, Poppy … This trip was just what we needed.  Who would have thought that we’d make Kanto friends in the first two weeks … Crazy, right?  Everyone seems to be fun and friendly here.  I’m kind of glad Aulii, and Maleia flaked out.

 

* * *

 

Poppy hummed in her pokeball at her Trainer’s comment.  I mean, yeah, Aulii and Maleia aren’t the greatest girls, but they’re still better than those Contest girls … Mika’ele and Iasepa are WAY better Pokemon, too.

“Eh … true, true,” Jay chuckled, but Poppy could feel her discomfort.

Jayline, if you don’t tell me we have this, then…

“We have it!  We have it!”  Jay instantly replied.  “No, you’re right, but weren’t those Johto girls and not Kanto girls?”

True … how many Kanto girls have we really gotten close to, though?

“Point taken … I think.  Umm … Let’s have fun.”

Heh, how many times have you told me that today?

“I’m trying to convince myself … geez, c’mon, Poppy!”

I know!  Let’s go!  Star’s been hyping me up all day.  He’s nothing but a hype boat!  I feel like I can take on Kahuna Olivia right now!

“Well … It’s our turn.  Man, that last guy…”

Yeah, he got smoked, but he basically just let himself get ping-ponged off the rocks.  I’m not gonna let that happen.

“Deep breaths … You know the promise; if we can do this League business, then we’re going to do the Island Challenges.”

And who’s the one that got you to make that promise?

“He-he-he.  You.  I’m…”

Hyping yourself up.  I know!  Now, let’s blow this rock head away!

Jay put her ball in the sensor, swallowing as the reading came up … Rank 2.

“Well … that’s not Rank 1, which means you’re something special, but I already knew that.”

It’s not one of those Encrusted Matches, though, Poppy pointed out, trying to decipher the announcer and Gym Aide’s words; human speech wasn’t complicated at this point for her, but it was still somewhat hard if they talked fast.

“Jayline Alana, from Alola, I see.  Well, this should be fun.  You’ve got a stronger Pokemon than I expected; it’s bordering on the lower Rank 3 spectrum if pushed a little more.  I hope you have fun with this experience; I know it’s tough-going to a new region and starting your journey—shoot, I don’t know if I could have done it when I was a girl,” she laughed.

He-he-he.  She’s calling you out, Jay; loosen up!

Jay cleared her throat as the crowd’s noise lowered.  “Thanks, umm … yeah, you could say it’s a bit rough, but I’ve found some … some good friends that are helping me through it.”

Aww … you can’t make me soft before we go into battle!  You’re going to make me cry with those emotions.

“... We’re lucky … Okay, let’s do this!  Don’t hold back, Poppy!  We’re full-sending it!”

Just tell me who I need to stomp on!

The counter started.  “Three … Two … One … Start!”

Poppy drew away from Jay’s spirit as she was thrown into combat.

The field had much fewer pillars and obstacles than the Encrusted Match, and it allowed both opponents to see each other at the start, unlike the maze-like structure there the day before.

Her eyes widened in shock as Poppy’s opponent stretched out his firm hands.  A Geodude … from Alola, which they’d seen plenty of around town.

“A-An Alolan Geodude?”  Jay mumbled.

Amara chuckled.  “I thought it would be appropriate, and Manu doesn’t get much use, but he’s sweet.”

Manu cupped his chin, giving her an appraising look.  “Are you ready?  Ya better get movin’, honey, cause this is gonna get pumped up!”

“Hide behind the rocks, Poppy!  He’s got ranged attacks…”

On it!  On it!

Poppy was already jumping through the air, small leaves wiggling to keep her airborne a bit longer while using her energy to glide through the air to the right side of the ring.

“We’ve gotta be faster than him!”

Taking a deep breath, she gathered enough energy from Jay with what she was able to build herself and sent a few lovely colorful notes at the stationary Pokemon; at the same time, Manu’s body sparkled with yellow light, gathering energy since the moment he left the ball, and electricity crackled across his form.

Her eyes widened in wonder as she watched Manu reach down and grip a stone, ripping it out of the dirt with the sparks illuminating his frame; he threw the rock at her notes, causing them to shatter.  “Best be usin’ your environment, honey; it’s about to speed up—you want this Badge, come and get it.”

The rock smashed the pillar Poppy darted behind, shattering the projectile and sending shards scattering through the air.

“He’s charging you for a Tackle!”

Outlined by white energy, a green radiance pressed against her head, and her Special Defense was increased; it was better than nothing, and that’s what you got when rolling the dice.

Jumping back, she watched the pillar crumble as the electrified Geodude broke through the stone white aura charging at her.  Still in the air, Poppy spun in a circle, whipping up a storm and; dust gathered from the vortex.

Manu powered through it and struck her mid-Move, but it didn’t have as big of an impact had she not used Rapid Spin.

His sparks exploded across his body, and Poppy recovered quickly, touching down and spinning again; the electricity erupted in a large bolt, enhanced by his earlier charge.

Poppy jumped at the nearby pillar, barely able to float to the top before using it as a platform to leap high into the air over the Geodude; those last two hits were dampened, but still took roughly 15% of her defensive shell out, and she’d likely only nicked his shield with her attacks.

“You’re in the open!”

I know, it’s not looking good, Jay … I’ve got an idea, though.

“Lovin’ the shock?”  Manu asked.  “If ya … oh?”

Spinning overhead, Poppy drew the Pokemon off the ground and around her miniature cyclone, but he was too heavy to throw far; it still gave her room to duck into the maze.

We expected a Geodude, not an Alolan!  He’s got the range on me.  Poppy mumbled, hopping between rocky mounds and pillars.

“We still gotta use the plan—he might be able to break out of it.  We can do it at least four times if we build up enough energy.”

Working on it.

Poppy could hear Manu climbing up the pillars to jump between them while looking for her on the ground.  “Hey!  Where are you, honey?  Tryin’ to buff up?”

Nope!  That’s a gamble and won’t help much with what I’ve got.

“Over here!”  she called.

She dashed away, dragging him deeper into the area she’d memorized for their strategy; Rapid Spin was her only damaging Move, and against Defense like this Geodude had, it was a rough matchup.

“Hide and seek, eh?”  A loud crack sounded, and he began throwing large stones around the area she’d last spoken.  “Hmm … I’ve been practicing my juggling lately; I saw this human do nine, and it’s so hard.”

Poppy jumped as one of the rocks landed six inches to her back.

“Still—heh—I’m getting good at throwing them in the air.”

Crumbling rocks continued to smash around her, shattering against the hard floor and sending fragments across the ground; it was becoming difficult to hear his words as they continued, and from what Poppy could see, he was somehow getting closer to her without her even saying a word, which hadn’t been a part of the plan.

How’s he know which direction I’m going?  He’s just throwing rocks everywhere?

“I don’t know, but we’re getting close.  It’s almost time.”

The announcer was now counting Manu’s ring record for rocks thrown in the air because he was managing to keep at least two at the moment.

“Here we go, folks … We have the Manu special, cornering his prey while tossing rocks around them and juggling at the same time … We’ve only seen two so far, but … is that a third?  He’s got a third, ladies and gentlemen!  How does he track his opponents when blind?  Have any of you figured out the trick?”

No…

It didn’t matter, though; Poppy hovered in short skips across the dusty and tiny rock-strewn floor to make it to her final destination, the arena corner.

Turning around, she saw the three rocks jumping up and down as they slowly came around a pillar and smashed to the floor around his grinning face.  “Well, well, well … I only got to three today, but, heh-he-he, I was losing a lot.  Ran out of places to go?”

Sparks flashed across his body, and Poppy jumped forward, trying to get in the correct position; eating the blast of electricity, she groaned as it stripped another 15% of her shell away.  He didn’t know what was about to happen, though.

Spinning to create a tornado around herself, Poppy angled the gust in a way to shoot him right into the point of the barrier, and once she had him against the ring, she wouldn’t let up.  All the energy she gathered from Jay over the chase with her own reserves was dumped into this attack.

“One Rapid Spin, two, three … four!”

Poppy’s small chest was huffing and puffing as she jumped away, trying to run back into the field, but Manu’s call stopped her.  “Hey!  Hey!  That was … wow!  I’m very impressed, Poppy.  Woah!  Hold up!  Don’t go … I’ve got a little challenge for you.”

“Poppy?  What’s going on?”

She slowed, hesitantly turning around to give him a dubious glare.  “I … What do you … I mean, what’s the challenge?”  It was a bit difficult finding her breath after such a rapid excess of attacks, pinning him in the corner from the rotations; part of the earth was ripped up and thrown across in clumps from her attack.

A gleam lit in his serious eyes.  “A run and chase match like this isn’t fun for people to watch, so … How about we spice it up.  I’ll stick in this corner, and let’s see if you can actually knock out my shield—I’ll even give you time to charge up your next barrage!”

“What ... You’re just going to take it?”  Poppy mumbled.  “What are…”

“Oh, no!  Heh, not at all!  I’m going to attack … we’ll just see who lasts longer in a slug-fest.  Sound game?  You’ll run out of time if you don’t,” he motioned to the big clock overhead, “and I can tell you, I’ll win on points, hands down.”

“Mmh…”

He’s making a deal … I think I have to take it.

“Okay … Just, be ready; I’m going to let you know when.  Okay?  Amira’s recount of her battle really made me think about it, but … yeah, you know.”

Send me the energy.  Poppy mumbled.  “You’re on.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have ourselves a Mid-Game Challenge on our hands; what has Manu cooked up for us tonight?”

The Geodude dug himself into the corner with a wide grin.  “Come at me, girl,” he motioned with his big rocky fingers; a silver polish flashed across his body from a dark brown illumination, making Poppy jump back.  “He-he-he, no need to be skittish—I’m all slicked up and ready to dance.”

“Don’t get too cocky,” Poppy huffed, keeping the maximum distance that her spin could get the most damage out; her chest was pounding, wondering what he was going to do, but a bit of excitement was filling it now.  “Let’s go!”

The crowd cheered as her Normal-Type energy laced gusts roared around her, and she pelted the Pokemon as a faint white aura flickered across his shimmering body, increasing with every rotation she made.

“That’s it … keep going!”  Manu laughed.  “That’s the stuff…”  His fingers dug into the ground as her spins became more wobbly—it was getting dizzying, keeping up the continual energy intake and twists.  Jay’s energy was being drained rapidly, too—Manu’s defenses were insane.

“Holy Miltank … He has to have Sturdy!  There’s just no way he’s this tanky … wait, that first attack, he used Rock Polish, which means he’s going to go in for a speed hit—it has to be like Hector’s Counter!”

Jay’s voice was getting harder to hear, white noise flashing across her vision from the spins, but one word instantly snapped her out of the world hazing together.  Protect!”

A sharp, greenish-blue barrier enclosed her body as an enormous white force gathered around Manu, and he rocketed forward, sending sections of the dirt scattering in all directions with a scream.

“Yee-Haa!  Here we go!”

Poppy’s spinning world came into focus as her shield spider-webbed, and she was suddenly flying back, carried into pillar after pillar, Manu maintaining his charge, yet her barrier held.  Halfway through the third column, his energy faded with her protective shell.

“Rapid Spin!”

The tornado sent him flying into the air as he gave her a thumbs up.  “Nice … play, honey…”

His defensive matrix cracked, and she fell to the ground, utterly exhausted.

D-Did we do it … I can’t … I can’t really see much … A-am I spinning or the world?

Jay squealed.  “We did it!”

 

* * *

 

Jay threw her fist in the air before returning Poppy, taking two times to get the proper connection because of the distance, and releasing her to hug her precious little cherry.

Amara clapped with a bright smile, bringing Manu into his capsule.  “Excellent, Jay, and I have to apologize a little,” she giggled.

Turning Poppy around in-between her bosom to see the Master Aide, Jay cleared her throat, trying to calm her pounding heart that Poppy could no doubt physically feel.  “Umm … thanks, but, eh … why?”

She looked up at the screen to smile at poppy.  “You came up with a … he-he-he, a fascinating strategy that I can honestly say, I have not seen before, and that’s saying something, Jay.  It was a bit more challenging for you than I initially wanted to go, but you handled it brilliantly.

“I was hoping Poppy had Protect to give you a chance to counter the Bide.  It was a good test to see if you had the reaction time since you already had the mind to come up with a clever strategy, and am I correct in assuming you studied my previous Bronze-tier Battles?”

“Y-Yes, Ma’am, and … thank you for the praise; heh, we were, umm … pretty worried there for a minute—Manu was just so tanky.”

Amara nodded with a sad puff of air.  “Yes, I did not expect you to be using a Grass Pokemon without any Grass Moves, but you performed like a real champion.  Your parents should be proud because that was an excellent use of strategy—he-he-he, although it seems Poppy has checked out.”

“My parents … yeah … eh?”  Jay had been so flustered at her words she hadn’t noticed Poppy was practically cross-eyed, personal power utterly spent.  A simple Center visit wouldn’t cut it when it came to PP; she’d be there for at least an hour to recharge after getting this low, and she was feeling a bit sore herself.  “Ah … heh, yeah, she went pretty hard, and we were having fun at the end—thank you.”

The Master Aide made a few motions on the screen in front of her.  “No problem!  I hope you continue to use that brain of yours because it’s a gem.  Have a lovely day, Jay, Poppy, and enjoy your Boulder Badge; you’ve earned it.”

Jay left the stage with a big smile, and even better, her phone was blowing up with messages.  Adjusting a passed-out Poppy in her arms, she looked at them, nose burning a little.

 

1:53 P.M. Mallory:  Killed it, girl!  Muk, that corner strat had me floored!  Even Amira’s praising the Pincer out of that one!  Gables wants me to say ‘smooth win’ at the end, too.  Snap!  That Protect was on-point!

1:53 P.M. Rhea:  That was so awesome!  I had to keep my hands in my lap the entire time to not bite my fingers, but that big Rapid Spin combo attack was insane!  Where’d you learn it?  Did you just come up with it on your own?

1:54 P.M. Amira: I must say, the way you calculated the angle on Rapid Spin to get that Geodude into the corner was rather impressive.  Poppy has good talent and guidance.  Keep up the excellent work.

 

She sniffed back tears, looking up to see Jade nervously giving her a smile as the light changed to her, and moments later, Hannah’s arms wrapping around both Poppy and her.  “That.  Was.  Incredible!  Where’d you learn that?!”

Jay breathed out a hot breath.  “It’s just … I don’t know, something that seemed like it might work.  Thanks…”  She didn’t need her parents to message her; she had friends now.

“Should we get Poppy to the Center?”  Sam tentatively asked, studying her.  “And how are you feeling, ‘cause that was … How many attacks in succession?”

“Heh, I don’t even know,” Jay replied, whipping back a tear.  “I think we’re good, though; she’s just exhausted.  I’ll let her rest in her pokeball … Well, let’s see how Jade does.”

“Oof, yeah … after that match … If she got an Alolan Geodude…”  Hannah hissed.

Sam waved her hand.  “Naa, Mimi and her have got it, no problem!”

Jay drew in deeply, turned, and shouted with the crowd.  “You’ve got it, Jade!  We believe in you!”  She wanted this moment to last forever … She hadn’t felt so happy in years.

So … This is what Gyms are about … overcoming challenges with your friends and making new ones along the way.  In the Island Challenge, it’s all you and your Pokemon, but at least in these other regions, you get teammates to share it with, too … a big happy group of experiences.


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