As Camelia approached the park that afternoon, she could see Goh's familiar form stretched out on the grass ahead of her, a small brownish-yellow lump coiled on his chest. Any time she wasn't around, it seemed he never really got any motivation of his own to do anything, even as excited she could notice him get during battles. It was like he only ever got motivation from reacting to other people that approach him.

She stopped walking, peering over his steadily-breathing body as she did when she first met him. He was definitely a hard one for her to figure out. "Goh? I'm here. Didn't you want to show me something today?" Camelia tapped his arm lightly with her shoe, taking note of how tightly the boy held the egg in his arm next to him.

"Hey, it's the rookie Trainer again?" The girl heard a familiar voice approach from behind, distracting her from Goh.

It was Bellamy, his Meowth sitting on his shoulders in a way that made him look like he had two sets of ears poking out from his hair.

"Camelia, right? What're you doing?" He greeted her with a brief wave, barely taking notice of the body lying at her feet, as if forcing himself not to.

"Goh said he wanted to show me something today, but he's sleeping… again," Camelia's gaze drifted to the lazy lump next to her pointedly. She looked back up. "Would you have any idea what it is?"

The red head pondered for a moment, a hand resting in the pocket of his pants. "Well… since you're a new Trainer, that Yellow Ruffian might be wanting to show you how Gyms work. Do you know about them yet?"

Camelia looked puzzled for a moment, but remembered the towering structure at the end of the street where she lived. "Gyms? You mean, like, those tower things, right?"

Bellamy nodded affirmatively. "That's it. Those things are Pokémon Gyms. If you're a Trainer, you can go there and test the strength of your Pokémon against type experts. That's also where you join a Team at, which you'll need to do sometime before you want to enter the Pokémon League tournament."

The girl seemed a little confused by what he was saying, but was too nervous to ask. She was already poked at for not knowing the basics of a Trainer by both boys; she didn't want to fuel the fire any more than she had to.

Right at that moment, a quiet groaning alerted the two Trainers to the ground next to Camelia. Goh was sitting upright with a groggy look in his eyes, both the egg and Spike in his lap. He was so tall, that just by sitting, his head came up just below Camelia's chest.

"Morning, Sleeping Ugly," Bellamy chirped with a sarcastic roll of his eyes.

Camelia took a step back to avoid the death glare that Goh fired at the Red Teamer before he even finished what he was saying. An uneasy feeling prickled the back of Camelia's neck. She took a deep, calming breath and then shoved a hand in Goh's face, "Cool it, Scruffy," pushing him back a little, and then turned her head to Bellamy. "You guys settled this whole thing the other day, remember? No fighting, unless it's with a battle."

The groggy-eyed teen knocked the girl's hand from his face, not particularly forcefully, but not exactly with the politeness of a gentleman. He pushed himself up, still silently leering at Bellamy, but directing his words to Camelia. "Shall we get going, Shorty?"

The girl blinked, lost for a moment. In the few seconds it took for her mind to get back on topic, she had to dash to catch up to the bizarrely-fast boy. "Uh, right!"

Before the two of them completely left Bellamy there, ignored, Camelia turned her head back while walking and called back to him, "Bellamy, are you coming?"

If for no other reason than to annoy Goh by his very presence being around him, the red head found himself tagging along behind them. It took him no time at all to fully catch up. When Camelia was facing forward again, she quickly noticed the long hair on the black-haired boy's head stand on end stiffly. She realized he was trying very hard not to turn around and tell Bellamy not to follow.

A few tense, but breathable moments later, Bellamy was the first to speak. "Hey… if we really are headed to the Gym, why haven't you brought it up yet? If I was Camelia, I certainly wouldn't want to keep tagging along with you for very long if you don't elaborate on anything," he spoke mostly to the air than to anyone in particular, with a matter-of-fact tone. "I guess you should be lucky for that."

Goh stopped walking and turned around, showing the other boy a big frown. "Just because Shorty was the one that invited you along, doesn't mean you can tagalong," he barked his words ambiguously.

Camelia observed, thinking about what the red head had said. It was easy and didn't take her long to see that Goh was rough around the edges, but he was a good mentor. He did help her catch Bulbasaur after all and he was going out of his way to help her the past few days, so she couldn't really complain about anything. She just shrugged to herself and let it be.

As Goh was turning around to continue walking, Bellamy abruptly stopped him again. "By the way, I haven't seen it yet. With as much as I've heard about you're fighting with the Red Team, all I've seen is that Weedle of yours." He directed to the Weedle sitting cozily around Goh's neck. "Didn't you have another Pokémon when you challenged the Gym before?"

Goh's skin visibly prickled with uneasy. "No."

Camelia was hit with an array of questions after hearing this new bit of information about Goh. She looked at him, but the boy said nothing. He shook his head rigidly. "Leave it alone, Shorty. It's none of your business." He said simply, before turning back to the lanky red head. "As for you, that especially doesn't concern you."

He resumed walking, not making another comment on the subject. Their queue continued.

There was another stretch of silence between the three of them with not much more than the sound of footsteps overlapping each other.

Camelia could no longer contain her questions. She looked up at Goh leading their party of three. "Goh, where exactly are we going? Can you please tell me?" She grabbed his arm insistently, trying to stop him.

The boy, knowing that he didn't complete ignore her, paused, turned to face her for all of five seconds, glanced briefly to Bellamy and then turned back around with a huff. Camelia was about to say something again, but finally Goh broke the silence, his back turned to the red head coldly. "That brute of a Red Teamer already told you where we were going. The Pokémon Gym."

In the distance now, a tower loomed over everything on the ground. It felt both intimidating and oddly majestic in a way. As Camelia glanced forward in awe, she partly found it astonishing that Goh had been listening to her and Bellamy when they were still in the park.

Camelia suddenly felt a faint sense of nausea as her face paled. "Are you… planning on having me challenge a Gym?" She spoke slowly, nearly shaking as she clutched her shoulders to steady herself. "I-I don't think I'm quite ready for that…"

Goh stole a glance, weirdly comforting, to the girl. He had one of his brief genuine smiles again, as if having forgotten that the fox-eared boy was there. "Gyms are hard, true, but the Trainer's there adjust their strength accordingly depending on how many ranks your badge has." For emphasis, he unpinned the circular yellow badge from his shirt and handed it to her so she could inspect it. The metal felt cool in her hand. "When you first go to a Gym, you have the option of picking your Team right there, and you get a badge of the same color. If you can't decide immediately, you'll get a silver one instead until you upgrade it. Regardless of whichever one you choose, there is a small microchip inside it that is scanned every time you want challenge a Gym. If you manage to win, the data gets recorded in the microchip and your Badge Level goes up one. You need to have both chosen a Team and your Badge Level to be 18 before you qualify to enter the Pokémon League tournament."

Camelia returned the small pin back to Goh after looking it over. He reattached it to his shirt.

"That's good then."

"You also need –" Bellamy started up again, but was quickly cutoff when Goh covered Camelia's ears with both of his hands and glared at him. The fox ears seemed to twitch with irritation – the wind? – but he backed up with his arms up defensively.

After a moment, Camelia sighed heavily and peeled the boy's hands away from her ears. "What were you saying, Goh?" She pushed him to continue.

"Every time you want to challenge a Gym, you have to register a week beforehand, so there is plenty of extra training time before you battle anyways."

Camelia was slightly in disbelief. "There's a waiting period?"

Goh shrugged. "Other than the Gym Leader, all of the Trainers you face are from around the area and are of the same Badge Level. It's so no one has to get unfairly overpowered by stronger Trainers. When someone registers for a Gym challenge, anyone that visits the Gym throughout that week can sign up to be a Gym Trainer for that event, as long as their Badge Level is the same. The higher the Badge Rank, the more Gym Trainers you'll have to face before the Gym Leader. Gym Trainers are also limited to using Pokémon of the same type the Gym Leader specializes in."

As the three Trainers walked up to the front double doors, there was a small, waist-high statue of the Pokémon League's logo on one side. The words "Pokémon Gym" were in thick bold letters above the door. An energetic fanfare resounded from high above their heads, with a large flat-screen television screen showing off a double battle that two Trainers were currently in the middle of up in the stadium.

Camelia's jaw nearly dropped with sheer excitement. Her eyes became fixated on the screen, watching the Pokémon move so fluidly to their Trainer's commands.

"You can register your Gym challenge for either Single, Double, or Triple formats," Bellamy blurted quickly before Goh could even say anything. "Though, you don't actually get those options until your Badge Level is 6 and 12 for the latter two respectively."

While the three of them were standing in the middle of the lobby now, Camelia suddenly got an urge as she looked at both boys. "So, how strong are both of you, officially, then?"

Goh seemed surprised by the specific question and turned his face away. Bellamy was much more upbeat in his response. "I've already got one Badge Level," he stated proudly, Meowth suddenly puffing up his chest proudly.

Blinking, all Camelia could respond to that was a slightly amused "Oh?" before she turned to Goh for his input. There now seemed to be a faintest tinge of red covering his cheeks as he seemed embarrassed, if you squint really hard. Weedle lowered his head, copying his Trainer's behavior. "We lost the first time we took the challenge. I'm still technically a beginner." He shared an uncharacteristically sad look with his Weedle.

Camelia's eyes widened and she gasped loudly with astonishment. "You mean, your Level's still 0?" She was in a state of disbelief, she just couldn't believe it with how strong he already seemed.

Goh folded his arms, his eye twitching irritably, the stray sense of sadness and embarrassment have washed over him completely. "Yeah, well, things happened," he barked at her passively, sounding both aggressive and bored. "And I'm not in the mood to go into the gory details."

Camelia was off-put by his choice of words for some reason, as his voice sounded especially icy.

There was a pretty, young woman dressed in a simple uniform and a kind smile sitting behind the registration counter. She nodded, greeting the three Trainers as they walked up to her. "Hello. Are you all here to register for or compete in a Gym challenge today?"

"These two are," Bellamy pointed next to him, directing the clerk's attention to Camelia and Goh.

Goh unpinned his badge again, placing it on top of the counter. The clerk took a small device and scanned over the metallic item not unlike if it were the price tag on something in a grocery store. There was a short clicking sound and the clerk checked the screen of her computer. "Goh Fujita? Badge Level: 0, correct?"

The boy nodded simply, a slight shudder running down his spine when she said 'zero.' "Thank you," she returned his badge. "Your challenge should be set to go in about a week."

Then she looked down at Camelia in between the two boys. "And you are?"

Camelia didn't know how to respond. She began to fret internally. "Uh-uh-um…" She stuttered, sheepishly. "I'm new to this whole thing."

The clerk's eyes lit up happily, and then she shuffled around for something in the desk drawer. "Well then, welcome to a Pokémon Gym."

Camelia exhaled. "Thank you."

Just as the boys had explained, four small items were laid out on the counter in front of her, differing only by color. "First, please pick the Team you would like to join. In the case that you are not ready to choose a Team yet, you may pick the silver badge and come back to do so another time before you enter the Pokémon League tournament. However, you may not switch Teams once you choose, so choose confidently."

The girl eyed each of the medals one at a time, slowly looking back and forth amongst them. She honestly had no idea what was the best way to go. Goh, being the first person she met as a Trainer, and who had helped her out so much already, felt like he was influencing her pick for Team Instinct. Bellamy, however, also seemed like a pretty powerful Trainer, and he was on Team Valor.

Suddenly, a loud crash came from behind her, and Camelia was shaken from her thoughts. Neither of the boys were standing behind her any longer. Instead, they seemed to be causing quite a disturbance, bickering back and forth, now throwing things at each other. Camelia focused in on their argument.

"You Red Team brute, you'd only be a bad influence on her! Shorty doesn't need any of your toxic training methods filling her head!" Goh shouted from one side of the lobby.

"I'm the bad influence? You Team Instinct guys are the ones that try to force your ideals into everyone else's faces!" Bellamy retorted, facing him from the other side of the room.

"I dare you to say that again!"

Camelia's jaw dropped. She couldn't believe it. Both boys were starting to give her a major headache with their constant fighting. After a moment, she sighed deeply and turned back to the counter. She reached her hand for the silver pin. "I don't think I'm quite ready to choose yet actually."

The clerk nodded, glancing at the two boys. "Fair point. Alright, I'll just need your name, and I can register that badge to you. And your Gym challenge should be ready in about a week."

Camelia nodded and thanked the clerk as she clipped the shiny new badge to her shirt, and turned away from the counter to be met with the faces of Goh and Bellamy. Goh narrowed his eyes at her. "Traitor, Shorty…" he whispered through his teeth.

Bellamy didn't get a chance to respond.

The girl pushed her hand in Goh's face, pushing him back a bit. "It's not like I'm never choosing. I'm just not choosing right now, Scruffy. I need a little more time."

The day had finally arrived for her Gym challenge. Up until that point, Camelia spent nearly every waking moment training hard with Goh and Bellamy. The fox-eared boy's Meowth was admittedly good practice against Normal Pokémon. She could also hardly contained herself when her Bulbasaur happened to learn a new move or two, completely astounded when Goh had offered to use himself as a target practice until the Grass Pokémon mastered it.

She still didn't think her Bulbasaur's mastery was perfect yet, but there was nothing she could do about it now.

Camelia took a deep breath as she and Goh sat in the waiting room a few floors above the Gym's lobby. Bellamy bought a ticket and went ahead to stake out a seat in the stadium since non-challengers weren't allowed where they were. She felt restless. She turned to Goh to see how he was doing, though he had already been there once before, so she doubted he was that rattled.

The black-haired boy was not beside her like when they first got there ten minutes earlier. She briefly fretted, not wanting to be left alone in the room. She could have sworn that neither of them had been called for yet.

Looking around, she pinpointed a few long strands of hair messily sticking up from a corner of the room, behind another bench. She got up to see what he was doing. When she was standing over him, enough so that her shadow draped over half of Goh's body, he was huddled in the corner with his legs pulled into his chest, arms wrapped his knees tightly. He was shaking so much there was no way he could possibly hide it.

She didn't know what to think about the sight of him like that. Sure, she was nervous, but Goh seemed outright terrified for his oncoming Gym battle.

"Are you okay, Goh?" She slowly asked quietly, taking a seat on the bench beside him and pulling her legs up to her.

Through all his shaking and chattering, the boy managed a small nod. Even falling witness to it, he was still trying to act confident. Goh's vibrating was starting to make the girl dizzy and was not helping her own anxiety, so she put a hand on his head to try and stifle it just a bit. "You definitely aren't," she shook her head, her words trying to sound as calming as she possibly could. She was a naturally emotional person, but under these circumstances it was hard for her to not get overwhelmed.

Goh looked up at her, his eyes peeking through the collection of hair and her fingers over his face. "The battles excite me," he said slowly and softly, the most timid she'd ever seen him. "It's the crowds of people and the publicity I don't like."

Well, that explained why she always found him by himself, and why he hadn't tried until then to re-challenge the Gym.

Camelia thought for a moment. "Don't think of being surrounded by so many people. Think about…" She got lost for words. "Think about the people being in their underwear!" She perked up.

Goh honestly looked at her as if she had two heads. "That's really all you can come up with?"

The girl felt like hitting him but knew he wasn't acting like his normal self. She smiled awkwardly. "I'm not exactly a therapist."

The boy cracked a faint smile, the grip on his knees loosening a bit, but he remained sat in the corner. Just then, before either of them could think of anything else, a voice spoke over the intercom. "Camelia Farley, please make your way to the stadium to start your Gym challenge."

"It looks like I'm first," Camelia reluctantly removed her hand from the boy's head and stood up.

She slowly made her way to the elevator. Before she disappeared, though, she turned back to examine Goh again. "You and Spike are great at battling! Try to focus on that so your training doesn't go to waste for the both of you."

She caught his bright-eyed with her own and nodded for emphasis as the elevator doors separated them.

As Camelia rode the elevator up to the top of the tower where the stadium was, she felt herself getting jittery again. Even though she knew Bellamy was waiting somewhere up in the audience sitting around the stadium, and Goh was behind her back in the waiting room, that moment she knew she had to do the rest all on her own. She pulled out her Bulbasaur's PokéBall. "It's just you and me now. Let's try and make this count, okay?"

She exhaled a deep breath, lowering the ball to her side, just as the elevator lurched to a stop and the doors slid open. The loud buzzing excitement of the thick crowd hit her all at once, and she suddenly felt like throwing up as at least some of Goh's behavior seemed justifiable now.

She walked out into the large circular arena, nearly tripping on her own feet several times as she watched the crowd. The girl couldn't believe how many people there actually were.

"Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the challenger – Camelia Farley – in the silver corner! A girl new to the Pokémon Gym challenge!" From somewhere amidst the buzzing air around her, an enthusiastic announcer welcomed the girl into the arena.

"Facing her in the first round, on the other side, we have Joey Foster – an equally new Trainer to the scene of the blue team!"

Camelia walked onto a small, rectangular, slightly-raised platform with a decorative silver trim. She briefly wondered if it was colored that way specifically because of her Team-affiliation, or lack thereof at the current time.

Across from her, on the other side of the field, a younger boy, but about the same height, dressed in a backwards baseball cap, hoodie, and shorts ran up to his platform with a blue trim. He waved to the crowd excitedly.

"Are the two Trainers ready?" The announcer roared over his microphone. "Due to the Levels of both of the Trainers, this will be a simple one-on-one battle! If the challenger manages to win, she will get to face the Gym Leader up next; however, if she loses, that marks the end of her trial for the day! Let this battle get underway!"

Just as the announcer finished and the referee waved a flag to signal for them to begin, both of the Trainers tossed out their PokéBall over the field. "I'm counting on you, Basarao!"

"Show them all your top percentage, Scratch!"

The crowd erupted as the Bulbasaur and a purple-and-cream-colored rodent appeared on the field simultaneously, both of them raring to go with fiery determination.

Camelia gulped as she stole a glance at the crowd around her one last time and then forced herself to focus on her Pokémon. "Basarao, let's start off with Tackle!"

The Grass-type dashed forward.

"Blind it with your speed!" Joey countered, "Use your Quick Attack, Scratch!"

The Rattata waited until the Grass Pokémon got closer and then leapt to the side in a blur, leaving an afterimage in its wake. Bulbasaur stopped short, confused at the rodent's sudden burst of speed. The Pokémon hastily tried to follow the Rattata's movement across the field, only catching a glimpse every now and then before it was in a completely opposite direction. Rattata slammed, head-first, into Bulbasaur, sending it tumbling in the referee's direction.

"Oh no!"

"Quick Attack again, and then follow it up with Iron Tail!" Joey rattled off a list of commands to his Pokémon.

Rattata dashed around the field again, slamming into Bulbasaur from the side, before the plant Pokémon could even shake off the previous hit. The rodent ricocheted upward with a somersault, gathered steely-colored energy in its tail, and then tried to come back down on top of Bulbasaur again.

Camelia bit her lip. She remembered how Goh and Spike often used String Shot. "Catch it quickly with Vine Whip, Basarao!"

The Grass Pokemon's vine-arms lashed out from underneath the seed on his back, ensnaring Rattata's tail. "Throw it away!" Camelia followed up.

Before Rattata could descend any closer, Bulbasaur's vines tightened around it, and slammed it into the ground a few feet away. The glow on Rattata's tail disappeared.

"Sleep Powder, now!" Camelia called for another attack for the Rattata could get back up.

Bulbasaur hopped backward a step or two and pointed his bulb to opponent like a cannon. It sprayed a powdery blue dust cloud falling over Normal Pokémon. The rodent's eyes drooped as its body began to sway, its feet stumbling.

"Ah, Scratch! Don't lose now!" Joey whined frantically, beginning to panic. "Use Tail Whip! Create a cyclone to blow it away!"

Rattata's feet stabilized and it shook its head to try and clear its mind of the slumber. It somersaulted, landing on its back and facing upward, wagging its tail in a circular motion, fast enough that it was managing to stop anymore of the dust from falling. It held it in place above it.

"It can't move right now, Basarao!" Camelia observed the Rattata's situation carefully. "Go ahead and use your Bullet Seed now!" She prayed that the move would work that time, as they had work hard to master it.

Bulbasaur roared skyward, starting to gather the sunlight's energy into its bulb. When it seemed ready enough, the Grass Pokémon opened his mouth, shooting a string of small, wispy-looking, white energy balls. However, they only travelled about halfway to Rattata before fizzling out.

"It doesn't even look like a Bullet Seed." Camelia remembered Bellamy's words from earlier that week, and it made her bury her face in her hand with embarrassment.

"That wasn't very impressive!" Joey called to her, over the roar of the crowd.

"Alright, use Tackle!" Camelia quickly recovered by giving another command.

After the failed Bullet Seed, Bulbasaur quickly charged forward, trying to work around his blunder. Fortunately, because of its position, the Grass Pokémon easily slammed into it, tossing it sprawling across the field. However, that also let the rest of the Sleep Powder fall over it. Being a Grass-type, he wasn't afflicted with sleep, but to Camelia's surprise and chagrin, he started sneezing from his own dust.

"Scratch, take it down! Quick Attack!" Joey ordered.

The Rattata leapt forward again, dashing across the field with its afterimage trying to keep up. It slammed into Bulbasaur head-on, continued onward, and then tackled into it from a different direction. The Grass Pokémon was tossed around all over the place, as he kept getting hit from one direction after the other. Just then, Bulbasaur sneezed again, this time managing to create a single, fully-solidified seed and firing it in Rattata's direction randomly.

"That attack's a joke!" Joey laughed. "Scratch, grab it with your tail and throw it back!"

Rattata landed, swung its tail around to wrap around the lone seed, and then twisted its body around and threw it in the direction it had come, hitting Bulbasaur with twice as much force as it had shot it from the power of the throw alone.

"Now, Iron Tail! Finish it!"

Without even landing, Rattata's tail began to glow again, and it gained force as it spun and somersaulted its body until slamming its tail down onto the Grass-type's head. Bulbasaur was knocked off of his feet, unable to fight.

Camelia looked at her Pokémon horrified, the moment being unable to sink in properly, as the referee's flag swiped through the air decisively. "Bulbasaur is unable to continue! And that's it! The challenger, Camelia Farley, has lost the match!"

The girl sunk to her knees in disbelief, her eyes unable to move from her fallen Pokémon. "That's it…" her voice trembled. "We lost?"

The crowd roared for the victor.

Goh stood up straight, his arm raised as his Weedle was perched on top. He was breathing heavily, admittedly feeling exhausted at trying his hardest to ignore the loud cheering of the crowd. Even if she had ended up losing in the first round of her own challenge, Goh had felt motivated from seeing how hard she tried. Before his name had even been called for his challenge to start, he had made a promise with Weedle that he'd win for her. It did little, but Goh believed he owed the girl that much since she had tried to comfort him earlier and worked hard.

The boy took a deep breath, again drowning out the cheering of the crowd as he waited for the Gym Leader to show up. He closed his eyes.

The elevator doors opened for Goh, revealing Camelia now in front of him, slumped on the floor with Bulbasaur's PokéBall clutched in her hands loosely. She was still in shock over the whole outcome.

"What's wrong?" Goh asked evenly, sounding for the most part, back to his usual self. He spoke as if he hadn't just watched the battle from the television in the waiting room.

She tapped the PokéBall against her forehead discomfortingly. "We lost…" She squeezed her eyes shut.

A few seconds ticked by and Goh walked up, kneeled, and put a gentle hand on her head, not unlike what she had done for him earlier. "You did well, Camelia," the boy smiled confidently. He helped to pull her to her feet. "But when you lose, you have to get back up and try again. That's how you get stronger."

The two Trainers switched places, with Goh in the elevator and Camelia back in the waiting room. The girl wiped her face with her sleeve as she looked at him.

"Don't worry," Goh added after a comfortable moment of silence. He flashed her a thumbs-up. "I'll win for the both of us, got it?"

Camelia felt a small smile brighten up her face. She nodded as the elevator doors closed again. She couldn't believe he was acting so coolly again, with how she remembered him from that morning. She wished him 'good luck' before turning to watch the events from the television screen, sitting next to Goh's bag with the egg nestled inside it.

He felt a fire growing inside him. He had to win. Not just for him that time.

From the elevator across the arena, a tall woman walked out, her hair styled neatly in a bun on the top of her head and she wore thick red glasses.

"Now, we've reached round two of Goh Fujita's Gym challenge! He will be facing the Gym Leader herself, Norma, the expert on Normal-type Pokémon!" the announcer screamed enthusiastically, and the crowd followed suit.

"It's a pleasure to meet you," the woman walked up to her platform, greeting her challenger with a friendly smile, pushing her glasses back up on the bridge of her nose.

"Just like before, this match with be a one-on-one battle!" the announcer started up again, "If the challenger happens to win against Norma, his Badge Level will increase to Level 1! Ready?" The two Trainers prepared themselves, Norma taking out a PokéBall from a bag hanging from her shoulder. "Set? Go!"

Norma threw her PokéBall, releasing a large, majestic-looking cream-colored feline with a red jewel on its forehead. When Goh sent Weedle back into battle, the cat towered over the tiny bug intimidatingly.

"Are you sure your little Weedle is up for such a battle?" Norma inquired, "I saw how it battled in the first round. Wouldn't it be better to choose something else?"

Goh smirked confidently. "Spike's the only one I need to win. We promised a friend that we would."

Norma observed the combination with intrigue. "Alright then. We'll let you have the first move."

"Spike, start with String Shot!" Goh ordered, pointing forward.

Weedle reared up and launched a missile of sticky web at the feline Pokémon, not even deciding to move yet.

Norma adjusted her glasses. "So he's starting defensively, huh?" She muttered to herself before commanding simply, "Dodge out of the way, Persian!"

The large cat Pokémon dodged the string easily, landing a short distance off to the side without breaking much of a sweat. "Get close to it with Slash now, Persian!"

Persian unsheathed the claws on its forepaws and dashed toward the Weedle. Goh seemed unfazed. "Catch it!" was all he said, quickly.

As the Normal Pokémon leapt up and swiped one of its paws at the Bug, Weedle twisted his body around to face his opponent and shot another mouthful of sticky string at it. "Now, swing it around!" The boy followed up.

It was a little difficult for the Bug Pokémon to pull off due to the great difference in size and weight of the two monsters, but Weedle managed to yank on its chain just enough to unbalance the cat and topple it over.

"We'll see about that. Persian, use Power Gem, now!"

The red jewel on the feline Pokémon's head began to absorb energy, turning a solid white color due to how much was being condensed. Persian then jumped high and roared, aiming its jewel down at the Weedle like a laser. All of the pent up energy exploded outward from the jewel, shooting medium-sized rock-like projectiles over the arena.

"Climb it with String Shot, Spike!" Goh ordered as he watched the rocks rain down, instinctively shielding his face with an arm as if to protect himself.

Weedle again spit his thread at one of the slabs of rock, latching onto it securely, and them pulling himself up to ride the stone creation.

"Chase after it, Persian!" Norma ordered confidently.

Everything feeling as if it were in slow motion, the feline dove toward the rock where Weedle had found himself and slashed at him with a large paw. Weedle evaded easily enough by simply spitting his string and pulling himself to another slab. Persian followed, again trying to swipe at him with a paw to try and knock him down. Weedle swung to a different slab.

Goh narrowed his eyes.

Just as the slab of rock that the two Pokémon were currently occupying crashed into the ground, creating a decent-sized crater in the arena, Persian swung its paw – claws glowing – hard enough to break off a piece of the rock.

Goh's eyes widened. "Use Poison Sting, now, Spike!"

Right under Persian's gaze, a small horn was lodged into a small crevice in the rock. Weedle picked his head up, surprising the feline Pokémon, and then launching himself directly at Persian's chest, horn-first. Persian screeched in pain as it fell off the rock.

Goh seemed to ignore the condition the Normal Pokémon seemed to be in. "Use Strong Shot, once more!" he commanded eagerly, swinging his arm.

Weedle turned away from the Persian and spat its string in the completely opposite direction.

After a moment, Persian finally picked itself up, struggling to get to its feet because of the poison coursing its way into its body, as evidenced by the purple bruise. The cat Pokémon panted heavily.

"What is he trying to do?" Norma wondered in exasperation as she turned her eyes to follow the Bug. She gasped. "Oh no! Persian, get out of there! Hurry!"

The cat turned to her, confused, before dashing back to her, wearing out quickly with the poisoning. However, it had to maneuver around all of the rocks that had fallen onto the arena, and what made it hard was Weedle's string stretched from one rock to the next, blocking potential escape routes.

Persian stopped in its tracks, looking frantically left and right for a way to go.

"Persian, break through all that string with Slash!" Norma countered quickly, trying to keep her Pokémon calm.

However, as the cat Pokémon's claws began to glow and it leapt for a section of the string, Goh was already ahead of what it was going to do. "Spike, glue its feet down!"

The Weedle spit another thread, grabbing hold of the Normal Pokémon's hind leg, and slamming it back on the ground. "Before it can get up again, ride the string!" Goh called determinedly.

Weedle hopped on the nearest thread and scurried across it so fast he looked like he was sliding. When he got near the Persian, he jabbed his tail-horn into the crouching Pokémon's back, and then lifted himself back onto the string and hurried away. Then, he appeared from a different direction, stabbing Persian again with his horn when he got close and then running away. After what seemed like a barrage of Poison Stings, Persian collapsed from its own weight from all the poison it had taken. It panted heavily, unable to get back up.

The referee waved the flag.

"And, that's it! Persian is unable to battle – Goh Fujita has beaten the Gym Leader!" the announcer roared ecstatically.

It took a moment or two for everything to sink in. A slowly smile spread across Goh's face as he leapt off of the platform to celebrate with his Weedle.

After Goh and Camelia had checked back in with the clerk in the lobby about how things had went, and reunited with Bellamy, the three Trainers took a moment to breath in the lounge area. Weedle and Bulbasaur were out, gobbling up a big meal heartily.

Camelia turned to Goh. "That's great that you won."

The boy shook his head. "Thanks, Shorty. I probably wouldn't have if it wasn't for you, though. I just kept a promise."

Bellamy looked between them, blinking with confusion. "Did I miss something here?"

Camelia turned to the red head and chuckled innocently. "No," she shook her head. "Not at all."

All Bellamy could do was shrug and he turned to the black-haired boy, with a different kind of smile than usual. "You both did pretty well – even if one of you is Team Instinct –"

"What can I say, I have a natural talent," Goh shrugged, bragging proudly.

Everyone shared a laugh.

Bellamy extended his hand toward the other boy. "What say we call a truce for the time being? We can finish our fight when we get to the Pokémon League?"

Goh stared at him. Camelia was partly scared, for fear of what he could potentially say. However, she was met with relief when he stood up and took his hand. "It's a deal. Until the Pokémon League."

Next chapter: Setting Off

The real journey finally begins as Goh, Camelia, and Bellamy decide to travel together to look for more gyms to challenge, first stop: northwest!