[Vol. I] 32. Another Gym
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On this lovely, warm day, Joe and Sabrina headed for the first stop on the map since they’d teamed up, Celadon City. As always, on the way through the wilderness there were many species of wild Pokemon roaming around. Joe occasionally stopped to battle said wild Pokemon, but he didn’t want to slow down his companion too much, so he restrained himself. With a constantly growing roster of Pokemon, he needed to try and keep them even in terms of power. Joe didn’t think it was fair to leave some out of future battles because he hadn’t trained them enough.

Towards the end of the day, just a mile away from the home of the grass-type Gym, they stumbled across a battle. A Bulbasaur was surrounded by a flock of flying Spearow, led by a mean looking Fearow.

At first Joe wanted to intervene and help the Bulbasaur as it was clearly being ganged up on, but to his surprise it beat back the dozen or so birds without much issue. Using Vine Whip, it grabbed the leg of a Spearow, swung it around and into another Spearow, knocking them to the ground. It unleashed well aimed Razor Leaf attacks, hitting a number of birds in the face with critical strikes.

This was unlike the usual Razor Leaf Joe was familiar with. His Fomantis would create a stream of around 30 sharp leaves behind its back, send them around its small body and at its opponent. It almost always hit due to overwhelming the opponent with numbers. However, Bulbasaur was only sending out one leaf per target, and from what Joe had seen it was accurate enough to hit every time.

The grass-type dodged to the side as a Spearow flew at it with wings covered in some sort of white energy, skid to a halt and aimed the top of its bulb at a row of flying enemies. Streams of purple poison burst forth and hit 4 Spearow, followed by another vine grabbing the enemy that had tried to use Wing Attack against Bulbasaur. With some effort it too was thrown at another bird.

Now all that was left was the Fearow. The two Pokemon locked eyes, measuring the other’s strength until Fearow made the first move. It rushed in and landed so it could use Fury Attack, thrusting its drill-like beak at Bulbasaur. The grass-type was clearly used to battle as it dodged 2 strikes and used a strong Vine Whip to repel a third. This not only stopped Fury Attack, but also knocked the opponent off balance and allowed Bulbasaur to spit more poison, pushing Fearow away.

The grass-type hopped back to put some space between itself and its opponent and started readying something big. A bright pink light poured out of the top of its bulb, and Fearow could tell it was something to end the battle. It sorted itself, flew up into the air and charged forward using Drill Peck.

But something went wrong for one of them. That bright pink light faded as a few pink petals exited the bulb and were simply carried off by the breeze. Stunned by this, Bulbasaur stood there trying to get its attack to happen as Fearow flew right into it, sending the grass-type flying. Bulbasaur hit the ground and rolled over a few times before stopping itself by pushing a vine into the ground. 

Before it completely stopped, it also sent a vine at Fearow, wrapping the green whip around its opponent. Bulbasaur angrily slammed the big bird into the ground, swung the Pokemon around and threw it into the air, firing multiple razor sharp leaves at Fearow while it was in midair.

This was enough to scare off Fearow, and the Spearow followed their leader. Bulbasaur, while panting heavily, seemed to be more annoyed than hurt. Regardless, Joe approached it, placed his walking stick down, took his bag off and grabbed the Potion in his bag. 

He only meant well, but Bulbasaur retaliated, using Vine Whip to knock the Potion out of Joe’s hand. Clearly it was decent, as Bulbasaur seemed to make sure it didn’t harm the human in any way.

“You did pretty good there.” He praised the Pokemon while picking the Potion up. “This is just some medicine to help you a bit. It’ll make you feel better.”

Wearily, Bulbasaur retracted the vine and allowed Joe to help it. Once he’d sprayed some of the medicine on the wild Pokemon, he got up. “Look after yourself, all right? You’re obviously strong, but you can still be hurt. Know when to run away.”

“Yeah, you should know when to run away, shouldn’t you?” Sabrina said with a grin on her face, leaning over slightly to make sure she was within Joe’s line of sight.

“I know, I know. But seriously, look after yourself Bulbasaur.” He said, beginning to walk to the city.

But as they set off, with one chuckling to themselves, Bulbasaur rushed ahead of them and turned to face Joe in particular. It wrapped one vine around his wrist and gently tugged as it used the other vine to point at Celadon City off in the distance. He asked what Bulbasaur wanted, but it simply let go of his wrist and led the way to town, slowing itself down a little when it realised Joe couldn’t go as fast as it could.

Once in town the grass-type Pokemon led the pair through some streets and up to a Pokemon Center. Joe took it to the nurse and got his team healed while Sabrina waited around outside. Apparently she didn’t want to miss a second of the good weather.

Healing Pokemon doesn’t take long anyway, so Joe was back outside a few minutes later and they continued following the Bulbasaur until they got to the Celadon Gym, where Erika resided.

And speak of the devil, Erika came running out of the building herself. Her long green and red kimono suited her well, it gave off the impression she was important. Like she was rich, or maybe even a princess.

“Bulbasaur!” She shouted. Despite being a shout, her voice was still quiet, soothing, compared to others. She scooped up the Kanto starter in her arms. “How many times have I told you to stop running away!”

Well that solved the mystery of why Bulbasaur was leading Joe and Sabrina around. It was clearly a fighter, but to the point where it snuck off in order to battle. But does that mean it wasn’t seeing enough action at the Gym? Surely it gets to face many challengers.

“But thank you for bringing my Poke-” She stopped, looking at her fellow Gym Leader. “Sabrina! So good to see you again.”

“And you, Erika. But I don’t remember you having a runaway last time we met.”

“Haha, of course. I recently took Bulbasaur in. Its previous Trainer was just a child who couldn’t keep up with all the battling her Pokemon wanted to partake in. Professor Oak said it might be better suited for working at a Gym, so here it is.”

“Doesn’t look like it’s working out too well.”

“You don’t have to tell me.” She gave a dry laugh, clearly fake. Then she realised someone was with Sabrina “Oh, sorry! Where are my manners. I’m Erika, the Gym Leader here in Celadon.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Joe. I’m here to challenge you, if that’s not a problem.”

“Of course, come on in!” 

She excitedly let them in, thinking Bulbasaur would finally be able to let off some steam. However, when she asked Joe how many badges he had, she was distraught. He had 2 badges. Bulbasaur was only cleared to battle challengers with either no badges or just 1 badge. The reason for this was, while Bulbasaur can do well in battle, it hasn't yet mastered its 4th move, Petal Dance. If it were to evolve or learn how to use Petal Dance properly then it would be cleared to battle stronger opponents in official matches.

“Well I can just battle Bulbasaur after.” Joe said.

The moment the Kanto starter heard that it shuffled around in Erika’s arms to look over her shoulder at Joe.

“You’d do that for me? Oh thank you. I was starting to worry I’d also have to find someone else to give Bulbasaur to.”

“I’m always looking to make my team stronger so it’ll be good training for us.”

They entered a large room and Joe could already tell it was going to be an interesting battle. Every centimeter of the floor and walls were covered in various flora. Trees rose up to the ceiling and thick vines hung from most of them.

“As you can see, we will be battling in a more natural environment. We have 3 versus 3 matches here. Oh, and I must warn you, it may be beneficial to not approach some of the more colourful flowers...”

While she was being cryptic, it wasn’t hard to figure out what she meant. In this room that almost felt like a jungle were a variety of flowers. The bright yellow marigold had tiny amounts of electricity buzzing around it. The red hibiscus had faint traces of steam coming rising from its petals. The blue hydrangea appeared to chill the air surrounding it. The lavender plants were leaking some kind of substance. Joe didn’t quite know how to word it, but it was like these plants were harbouring a status effect that, if touched, would be passed on. There were a few others too, green and white, but he couldn’t figure out what they might do. One would probably put a Pokemon to sleep, but the other? No clue.

“Well then, are you ready?” Erika asked as she put Bulbasaur down and reached for a Pokeball. Through all the foliage, and especially the trees, she was barely visible. This was going to be a tough battle with their vision so obscured.

“Of course. Pidgeotto, let's win this!”

“Bellossom, blend into your surroundings!”