A Fun Time At the Circus
#1
Summary: Gaius happens upon a traveling circus and seeks to learn their ways, but what will he find when he looks deeper?


Gaius Vi Britannia looked up at the sky and smiled, his pale-grey eyes gently catching the light of the bright blue sky. The young trainer was fresh off capturing a new Pokemon, an Oddish, less than an hour ago. It had been barely more than a month since Gaius left his home in Pendragon following the death of his father, the capture of his Gengar, and the acquisition of several powerful Pokemon including a Tyranitar and a Dragonite. The young man left most of his Pokemon at Professor Oak’s for them to be studied, leaving only five Pokemon in his possession. He then set off on Route One, hoping to continue his adventure.
 
 
As the young man continued walking down Route One, he looked down towards his belt and examined the five Pokeballs that hung there. ‘I’m actually back to a full party again since I caught that Oddish half an hour ago. I wonder how long it will be for me to reach Viridian City.’ Several minutes later, the trainer began to hear mechanical humming, as well as a large commotion of voices, human and Pokémon alike. ‘I wonder what's going on up ahead,’ Gaius pondered, as the noises grew louder with each step he took. “I don't think it would take too long to find out what's going on," Gaius spoke aloud, "Pikachu, want to go with me and check that out?" He asked his newly received Pokémon, unsure if Pikachu would want to keep on walking instead.
 
 
"Pika," the Pokémon replied, seemingly shrugging its shoulders as he began to walk towards the collection of noises.
 
 
"I guess that's a yes," Gaius replied, laughing, and, for once, following Pikachu as he let his Pokémon take the lead. After a few minutes of walking, the duo came across a wide-open field where a large gathering of people had congregated. Gaius noticed that there were some individuals who were in various forms of eccentric looking clothing and attire. Each person Gaius passed seemed completely engrossed in whatever activity they were performing. Some people were pitching tents or setting up booths, while others were assembling various amusement park rides, all seemingly for some sort of fair or social gathering. Not wanting to bother those who seemed quite busy with their various tasks, the Pokemon trainer decided to keep walking through the field, attempting to find someone whom he could talk to, to figure out what was going on.
 
 
"Hey, you," a deep, but joyful voice yelled behind Gaius, "are you lost, guy?"
 
 
Gaius quickly turned around to face the direction that the voice emanated from. He saw a large, tall, man with extremely large and muscly arms. The man was at least 6"2, and was wearing a tight, red, body-building leotard that purposefully showed off his extensive muscles. "Yeah, I'm sorry," Gaius muttered to the bodybuilder, unsure if he was in trouble.
 
 
"Oh, no, you're fine," the large man joyfully replied, sensing Gaius's unease and wariness, "this is where we're setting up a yearly circus. We travel all around Kanto all-year round and provide shows to the various towns and cities in the region. During the winter months we use indoor stadiums or convention centers, so even massive snowstorms can't stop us." The man then raised his arms and stretched them to his sides, as if to tell Gaius to explore the circus grounds. "Each Pokemon specializes in a specific act or attraction, trying to find new ways to entice crowds into coming. All the acts here took months if not years to train, and perfect. As their trainers, we take pride in our Pokemon's ability to perform their acts, while making sure they adhere to a rigorous training schedule. My Machop is so powerful he can lift me in one hand, and then throw me up into the air and catch me like it's no problem. Trust me, that's no easy feat, even for a Pokemon as strong as Machop."
 
 
"Wow," Gaius exclaimed. He was surprised by the complexity of the performers' training routine, and at the extent of acts they teach their Pokemon to perform. "So, do all of the Pokemon acts involve strength training, or what else do you guys do?" Gaius was eager to learn techniques from trainers that had such dedication. He knew he would need similar dedication if he was to succeed in the Kanto Pokemon League. "Do you think some of you could show me your acts? I'd love to learn how you guys were able to perfect such complex moves and acts. I'm a Pokemon trainer myself and would love to get tips from people as skilled as you and your fellow circus performers."
 
 
The strongman smiled wide and looked towards Gaius. He was glad a fellow trainer was interested in his routine. "If you want to get a behind the scenes tour of the circus, I'll see what I can do. Normally we don't get too many people who are curious about how the acts and stunts are performed. Most people just come when we're open and watch from the stands. To be honest, I'm surprised that you are so interested in what a bunch of circus performers do. I'll go see who's not busy and if they can spare a few minutes to talk with you about their routine. Oh, by the way, I forgot to introduce myself. The name's Arnold" The man then turned and sauntered off, looking around for anyone who was available.
 
 
As Gaius waited for Arnold to return, he walked a bit up and down the main stretch of tents and booths, seeing if he could find anyone else that he could talk to. He quickly spotted a young man who was standing in front of a large cannon. The young man began to load a large cannon full of gunpowder and other materials. When Gaius approached him, he could see a small, brown figure rolling around on the ground, in front of the cannon. Gaius was unsure what this figure was, but assumed it was some kind of Pokemon. He quickly looked at its body, trying to see if he could pick out any unique characteristics to search for in his cell phone.
 
The Pokemon had four round, grey bands on top of what seemed to be its forehead. At the top of those bands, a small, circular, grey tip was present, giving it the appearance of a handle found on a spinning top, or a miniature grey top hat. The Pokemon's body was dark brown and seemed to have two tan or cream-colored circles on its front. In the middle of both circles, a large black eye with tan pupils was present, almost appearing as if the black outer eye was a bandit's mask of some sort. At the bottom of its face, or body, Gaius was unsure which the figure would qualify as, two light-colored, toe-less feet stuck out, which Gaius assumed meant that the Pokemon was able to walk around, even though it seemed to enjoy rolling at the present time.
 
 
Gaius quickly searched his phone for the list of all Kanto region Pokemon, but he was unable to find any listing that matched what creature was in front of him. He glanced upward, as the young man who was prepping the cannon turned to face Gaius, as if he could sense that someone was staring at the Pokemon on the ground. This was the first time that Gaius had been able to properly look at the young man, given that all his attention up to that point had been focused on the new Pokemon in front of him.
 
 
The young man seemed to be in his mid to late teens, a few years younger than Gaius was at the time. He wore a tight-fitting orange leotard, and looked extremely thin and in-shape, almost to the point of sickness. The performer also had brown eyes and dark brown hair, with extremely pale skin. Gaius surmised that this individual must be the Pokemon's trainer, and approached the young man, hoping to find out information about the mystery Pokemon. As Gaius approached, he found himself looking downward to meet the stranger's eyes, as Gaius was at least one foot taller than the trainer, and it seemed as if that would be as tall as the young man would ever be.
 
 
"Hi, my name's Gaius, what's yours?" Gaius smiled and warmly stuck out his hand, trying to put the stranger at ease. In reality, he did not really care about the person's name. He only wanted to find out as much as possible about the diminutive Pokemon in front of him. While he was awaiting a response, Gaius's eyes shifted back to the brown Pokemon, who seemed unfazed by his arrival, as it continued to roll mere inches from his feet.
 
 
The young man smiled back towards Gaius, politely shook his hand, and introduced himself. "I'm Richard. My last name's Bach, if you were wondering." Richard slowly followed Gaius's eye-line and looked down at the Pokemon rolling in front of him. "Are you interested in Seedot? That's what this Pokemon is, by the way. Normally Seedot are only in Hoenn, but I caught this guy on a family trip to see my grandparents last year. He isn't my first Pokemon, but he sure is the most fun to have with me." Seedot's trainer smiled and smiled warmly towards his Pokemon.
 
 
"That's a Seedot, and you can only get one in the Hoenn region?" Gaius questioned, repeating the young man's answer. He was trying to squeeze as much information as he could out of Richard and figured the best way would be to ask as many questions as possible. Gaius craved information and new experiences, and if this Seedot became anything useful, he would be sure to try and add one to his team. "Does it evolve into anything, or does it just stay like that? What type is it? What other Pokemon do you have?"
 
 
"Woah, woah woah." Richard exclaimed, slowly taking a step back from Gaius. "Ask your questions one at a time next time. It'll make them a lot easier to answer. First off, yes, as I said, its name is Seedot, and it's from Hoenn. I hope you don't have short-term memory loss or something, that would totally suck." The young trainer laughed, trying to pass of a possibly offensive and rude comment as a joke. "After some battling, Seedot will evolve into a 'Nuzzleleaf', and if you give some sort of stone to it, it becomes a 'Shiftingtree'. At least, that's what my grandfather told me. He's not a Pokemon trainer or expert, so I'm not sure if he was right or not. Seedot is a Grass type, but I think he gains another type when he evolves. He could possibly end up being steel, or rock, or maybe dark. I honestly have no idea." Richard looked down towards the ground, seemingly ashamed by his lack of knowledge.
 
 
"Hey, it's ok." Gaius replied, pretending that he was trying comfort the young man. ‘So that’s why my search of the Kanto database turned up no results. Better I learn at least some information, which I could then follow up with later by checking the Hoenn database,’ he thought to himself. While he had no actual interest in how Richard was feeling, he knew that pressing someone too hard could lead to less information overall. Gaius was perfectly content with pacing his questions, as well as adding in useless personal information to make the young man feel at ease with him. ‘If he thinks I'm interested in being his friend, he could prove to be useful if he can direct me to any rare Pokemon in the area,’ Gaius pondered, and sought to make Richard a new friend. 
 
 
"Yeah, I know it's ok," Richard replied, looking up from the ground, "I just wish I knew more about Pokemon. I only have a Charmeleon and a Pidgey at home. I got the Charmeleon from Professor Oak, in Pallet Town. Even though it was only a baby Charmander when I got it, I was able to train it a lot on Route 1 and in the Veridian Forest. I found out that bug and grass types can't handle fire, so I searched every day for Weedle and Caterpie to battle and was able to make it evolve in under a month. Its fire attacks were one of the only ways I was able to catch Seedot. I used Ember on it, and it weakened it a ton in one hit. I was so proud of my Charmeleon." Richard looked off into the distance and smiled, seemingly remembering his capture of Seedot. "I only have Seedot with me right now, none of my other Pokemon are needed for events at the moment. I decided that just leaving them at home would be best. Charmeleon can charbroil a steak in, like, twenty seconds." Richard laughed, and awaited Gaius's next question.
"So," Gaius asked, not really caring about the answer, "how did you even get into this circus anyway? Did you apply or something?"
 
 
"Well, about a year ago, the circus was traveling through my town, and they were looking for new members. I've always dreamed of being in a circus, since I first saw one when I was little, so I jumped at the chance to join. I brought my Seedot with me, and although he was my newest Pokemon, we were able to put a routine together. I would load him up into a cannon and shoot him out of it. He was sent flying into the air, and he would spin as he got shot along with confetti and streamers, so it would be a really cool show. The circus ringleader loved my idea, so he let me test it out with one of their cannons. Seedot performed so amazingly, that they hired me on the spot. Since then, I travel around with the circus, putting on shows with them. Although some would say it's not as fun as a normal trainer's journey for badges and stuff, I think this is the perfect fit for me."
 
 
Gaius sighed. He wished he could have avoided wasting him time with idle small talk, but he knew it was necessary in order to garner more information. "Do you know if any local Pokemarts carry a Seedot?" Gaius asked, wanting to turn the conversation back towards his own interest. "I know you said you got it from Hoenn, but I was able to buy a Tyranitar, a Pokemon from the Johto region, in the mart over in Pendragon. So, it's possible a nearby mart has a Seedot as well."
 
 
"Hmm I can't think of any Pokemarts that sell Seedot nearby, I don't exactly look for them, though, since, ya know, I already have one. You can try in Vermillion City, though. There's a port there, so it's possible that they have a lot of foreign and unusual Pokemon for you to buy."
 
 
"Thanks, so much for your help," Gaius replied dryly, wanting the conversation to be over with. Gaius began to hear footsteps behind him, so he turned to face whatever was approaching him. When he turned, he could see Arnold bounding towards him joyfully, with several other individuals behind him. Gaius smiled and nodded to acknowledge Arnold's presence, and waited for the strong man to introduce the newcomers.
 
 
Gaius looked past the large man and examined the new arrivals. Behind Arnold on the right, was a man who was slightly taller than Gaius and had a somewhat large stomach. The man had bright blue eyes and jet-black hair, and from what Gaius could see, the hair was short and neatly kept. He wore a blue over-shirt with blue dress pants and a white dress-shirt. The outfit was completed with a blue top-hat on his head, and a large monocle on his left eye. He held a cane with a large Pokeball on top, which served as the handle. The cane appeared to be for show, as the man did not need the cane to stand upright and had not relied on it while he approached Gaius. The well-dressed man carried himself with a sense of authority, as if all those around should look up to him.
 
 
The figure on the left seemed to be some sort of clown. The man wore a black and red full bodysuit, matching cone hat, similarly colored pants, and a pair of sunglasses on his face. There seemed to be large buttons on the front of the bodysuit, however they did not seem to secure any of the outfit in place. On top of the man's hat, a small sphere that seemed to be a Pokeball was attached. The clown had very large body proportions, suggesting extreme obesity. His stomach alone was twice as large as the first man's, and his head and extremities seemed abnormally large as well.
 
 
"Hello Gaius," the large man bellowed loudly, acting as if he thought Gaius was deaf. "These are some of the other circus people here. Johnny can breathe fire and works with his Growlithe so he can perform amazing fire feats. The other one is Taylor, he's the ringleader of the circus. That means he's my boss and runs the whole thing!" Arnold exclaimed, seemingly proud that he remembered who the two individuals were. The strongman then turned to the one in a blue suit. "Taylor, do you think Gaius here can have some special passes for the show? He's on a Pokemon journey and is interested in US! Don't you think that's so awesome?"
 
 
Taylor smiled, and put his hand to his clean-shaven chin, as if he was trying to think of a response. "So, you're interested in the circus here? You know, we aren't just an ordinary circus, either. We run one of the top circuses in the region and have gotten better reviews than even Bulbasaur and Beedrill circus, which, if you know circuses, is not an easy thing to do. Ya know what? I can give you ringside seats for our first performance tomorrow. Also, if you want, I'll give you a special visitors badge for today so you can go and check out a lot of the other acts behind the scenes. It'll be a rare and special opportunity. A chance to see stuff like this doesn't come around every day, kid. You’d be wise to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity." The chubby man smiled while he awaited Gaius's response.
 
 
Gaius sighed, wishing he were elsewhere. The bodybuilder's lack of intelligence was starting to annoy the young trainer, but the ringleader's offer left him intrigued. Even with the offer of free ring-side ticket and behind-the-scenes badge, Gaius began to wonder if there was anything, he could actually learn from any of the circus performers. He hesitated a moment, and then began to speak. "Sure, I would love to be able to see you guys perform, I bet all of your stunts and routines take tons of time to learn. Arnold was telling me how much you guys train and how you travel around from city to city, setting up the tents and putting on a show. I don't know if I'd be able to do the same."
 
 
"Excellent," Taylor replied, offering his hand for Gaius to shake it, which Gaius did. "I'm so glad you decided to accept this rare once in a lifetime offer. Be sure to tell all your friends back home how generous we can be. I'll go and get the ticket and pass. In the meantime, you can talk more with Arnold and Johnny here, and then walk around at your leisure after I return." The ringleader then turned and began to walk in the direction from which he came, at a pace so brisk Gaius wondered why be bothered with a cane for show.
 
 
Gaius could feel an odd sense of worry when Taylor walked away. He ran through the conversation in his head quickly but could discern no reason to feel at ease. The more Gaius thought about the man, the more he could feel that there was something hidden underneath his normal slimy and businessman-like exterior. As he struggled to think of what that could be, the obese fire breather approached him and began to speak.
 
 
"Hey there. Gaius, is it? I'm Johnny, as Arnold already pointed out. I’ve probably been with the circus the longest besides Arnold. I use my Growlithe in a variety of fun tricks and fire stunts. Here, want to see one?" Johnny playfully asked Gaius.
 
 
"Sure, show me what you can do?" Gaius replied, wondering what the man had up his sleeve.
 
 
"Come here and smell my breath." Johnny motioned for Gaius to move close to him. "I'll tell you the secret of being a fire-breather."
 
 
Gaius, thoroughly curious, decided to come close to the fat clown. ‘I wonder if this won't be a total waste,’ Gaius thought. As Gaius moved mere inches from Johnny, the fire-breather began to open his mouth.
 
 
Once Johnny's mouth was fully open, flames surged out of it and dangerously close to Gaius. The flames nearly singed the young trainer's black jacket as he leapt back, away from the flames.
 
 
"The secret of being a fire-breather is to have no fear, especially no fear of flames!" Johnny shouted, laughing as he closed his mouth, extinguishing the flames.
 
 
"How the hell did you do that?" Gaius exclaimed. While he was impressed by Johnny's antics, he would have preferred to avoid almost having his clothes set on fire. He quickly brushed himself off and waited for Johnny's response.
 
 
"While you were focusing on waiting for me to speak and watching my mouth, I pressed this button in my hand." Johnny opened his left hand to reveal a small, skin colored button. The button could easily by missed by anyone if they did not know it was there. "When I hit this button, a small mechanism under my tongue makes a tiny spark. I place a bit of gasoline on my tongue before a performance, and, when I hit the button, the spark creates a plume of fire that I need to quickly blow out of my mouth, or I'll get burned. I also put safe to swallow fire-resistant gel on the sides of my mouth, so if I can't blow it all out, I would only get hurt a little bit." Johnny began to laugh while looking at a stunned Gaius.
 
 
"You shouldn't shoot flames like that so close to people," Gaius yelled, fuming at Johnny. "I could have been seriously hurt, and of course you would have been fine no matter what happened. Next time let me know before you do something like that!" Gaius glared at the fire-breather. He felt cheated, both by the fire trick, and that he allowed himself to show such a cowardly reaction to the flames. ‘I should have been expecting some pathetic parlor trick from that talentless hack, and now he’s gone and made me look like a fool in front of the others. Although, not like their opinions actually matter anyway. Kings do not pay heed to the opinions of ants after all, or however the saying goes.’
 
 
"Chill out, you wouldn't have been hurt. I made sure of it. You freaked out over nothing." Johnny continued to laugh in Gaius's face for a few more seconds, and then continued speaking. "Anyway, it honestly is more dangerous to me than it was to you. I had to train for months to learn how to breathe fire, and I suffered quite a few burns along the way. I wouldn't be performing in the circus if I wasn't an expert though, so don't worry about it." The fire-breather took his hat off and detached a Pokeball from the tip. He then pressed the button in the center of the ball, causing it to expand in his hand. "You might as well see my Pokemon while we are waiting for Taylor." Johnny threw the Pokeball into the air, and a flash of white light appeared as the ball opened. The white light burst onto the ground, and a small form began to take shape.
 
 
When the light dissipated, Gaius could see a small, dog-like Pokemon at Johnny's feet. The Pokemon had four legs, a small, round mouth, and a small, tan, furry tail. The Pokemon's orange coat was broken up with streaks of black, and the Pokemon had a color-matching black nose on its face. At the end of its front legs, it had two small white claws, and, while they looked harmless, Gaius figured the Pokemon could also use them in battle. Overall, if it wasn't for the Pokemon's dog-like characteristics, its coloring would cause Gaius to believe it was related to a tiger, or other cat breed.
 
 
"So, this is Growlithe, right?" Gaius had investigated some of the Pokemon found in the Kanto region before starting his journey, however, he had not memorized all of them. The Pokemon looked strong, and even slightly intimidating, despite its small size. "Aren't you a bit worried that your Pokemon will scare away your audience? It looks pretty fierce."
 
 
"Not at all, Growlithe can also be a sweet and loyal Pokemon, as well as strong," Johnny replied. The fire-breather knelt and began to stroke the tuft of fur on Growlithe's head. "I use my Growlithe to jump through rings of fire that he lights himself using his Flamethrower attack. People love to see the spectacle of him performing, they always come back for a second showing." Johnny proudly picked up his Growlithe and held it in his arms. He then began to rub its head as he continued to speak. "My Growlithe trains, like, four hours a day. I train with him as well to perfect my fire breathing, and to make sure he can learn new tricks and abilities every day. I also have another Pokemon that I use at an even more advanced show in B tent."
 
 
Gaius patiently waited for Johnny to finish speaking, and then quickly cut, hoping to end the conversation. "How fascinating," Gaius said, not really caring to hear the blow by blow of Johnny's training routine. "I'm sure you two work very hard." He paused, and then looked at Arnold. "I assume you want to show me your Pokemon as well? You have a Machop, right? What kind of tricks can it do again?" Gaius was sure Arnold mentioned his Pokemon's abilities in their first conversation, but at the time Gaius was not paying enough attention to remember them now. ‘The more information I glean, the more I could use it to my advantage,’ he thought as he continued to press for answers.
 
 
"Yeah, yeah, you'll love my Machop!" Arnold yelled gleefully, "My Machop is the best Machop ever, he can lift so much weight without ever breaking a sweat. We're currently trying to have him lift an Electrode, but he's only been able to lift to a Scyther so far. I'm sure if he keeps training, though, he can lift even two Electrodes! Here, you can see for yourself," Arnold exclaimed, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a Pokeball. "Come out Machop, time to join the party!" Arnold threw the Pokeball against the ground, and a white light shot out.
 
 
A small Pokemon with blueish-grey skin emerged from the white light. The Pokemon had a human-like appearance and was about the size of a small human child. Its body, however, showed that it was anything but human. Three sets of rib-like lines were present on the Pokemon's stomach, and its entire body was covered with rippling muscles. In terms of athletics, this Pokemon seemed to perfectly mirror its trainer, or, at least, as far as Gaius could see on Arnold. The Pokemon's face had a large mouth, as well as two small slits, where nostrils would normally be. A pair of large white red eyes above the slits, and on top of its forehead there were three brown ridges, which went towards the back of its skull.
 
 
Gaius examined the Pokemon for a moment, and it appeared to be as strong as Arnold had claimed. He had read online that Machop were extremely powerful, and that they could throw over 100 men without rest. "I've read about Machop in the past, yours looks quite powerful. I'm sure it is well trained. Would you mind telling me what kind of training techniques you use? I want to learn how to make my own Pokemon as good as your Machop." Gaius paused, awaiting Arnold's response. This past statement was one of the only true things he had said to the circus troupe all day. Finally, his time spent here would finally be worthwhile.
 
 
"Um, Gaius," Arnold said sheepishly, "I wish I could tell you, but Taylor told me we're not allowed to tell anyone the details of how we train. It's super-secret special training, and we just have to keep up the training no matter what. Well," Arnold paused, "that's what Taylor keeps telling me anyway, and I have to listen to him cuz he's the boss!" Arnold looked disappointed at the inability to give information, and just as his mouth began to open again, another voice was heard, coming from behind him.
 
 
"Yes, Arnold is right," Taylor replied, suddenly coming into view a few dozen feet behind the group, walking towards the group with his cane in hand, not touching the tip to the ground. "We keep our training methods very close, and only disclose them to members of our own circus. We don't want people like the ‘Bulbasaur and Beedrill’ circus to steal out special methods. Once you see the show tomorrow, you'll understand why we don't want people stealing our training regimen. I was able to get your ticket, and your backstage pass. Since we don't have any specialized training today, you can check in with any performers you want. However, remember the pass is only good for today, and the tickets are only good for tomorrow's A show, so you won’t be able to see any of the secondary performances." Taylor handed Gaius a bright red ticket and a badge on a red lanyard. "Feel free to ask any questions you want; just remember we keep our training secrets to ourselves. I hope you enjoy your stay checking out the circus and be sure to come back tomorrow for the actual show. Bye now." Taylor turned around and began to walk away. However, Gaius still had a question for the ringleader.
 
 
"Hey, Taylor, wait a second," Gaius yelled as the obese man began to waddle away, "I have a quick question for you."
 
 
Taylor turned back towards the group and looked at Gaius. "Yes, what is it? Remember, I can't tell you anything about the types of training we do here." He playfully waved his finger in disapproval at Gaius, waiting for the young trainer to ask his question. The man looked incredibly pompous as he stood, his garish clothes and demeanor giving off an elitist and ostentatious vibe.
 
 
Gaius could tell from one look what kind of man Taylor was, the kind who would do anything in order to appear successful in the eyes of others. In that, Gaius could relate slightly. While Gaius too pursued attaining acceptance in other’s eyes for his achievements, he strived to do so with actual strength and accomplishments. Taylor, however, was nothing but a flash flim-flam man. Undeterred by his antics, Gaius spoke.
 
 
"No, that's not my question at all," Gaius responded. This was probably the second true thing he had said since meeting the group. "I was wondering, what kind of Pokemon is inside the Pokeball on your cane? I notice you walk around with it, but seemingly can hold your own weight up, so it must be for show, right? Do you think you look better using it or something?"
 
 
"Oh," Taylor replied, as if thoroughly pleased Gaius had asked, "I was wondering if you'd notice. I don't really need the cane, no. However, the pretense it gives off does wonders for instilling my authority in the workers and makes me look better when I take center ring." Taylor quickly cocked a playful half-smile at Arnold, Johnny, and Richard. "Wouldn't you say it works, boys?" The three performers cautiously smiled and slowly nodded, hoping they answered correctly. Taylor laughed, and after a few moments he composed himself. "Ahem, anyway, to the question you asked, Gaius. I might as well just show you, instead of telling you." Taylor gripped the shaft of his cane in one hand, and the Pokeball in the other. He then turned the Pokeball ninety degrees, and pulled upward on the Pokeball, causing it to unlock from his cane. He held the Pokeball firmly in his hand and pressed the button in the center of the ball. A white light shown from the ball, and a Pokemon appeared on the dirt road.
 
 
The Pokemon had thick, light brown fur that covered its entire body. Among the sea of light brown, there were several stripes of dark brown fur that were horizontal across its back. The Pokemon had four legs, with two claws at the end of each paw, and a face located at the front or top of the Pokemon's body. On its face, it had two eyes that were outlined in brown circles, and bright pink nose, that was reminiscent of a rounded pig's nose. Below the nose, the Pokemon had a wide mouth, which seemed to be fixed in a permanent content smile, as if the Pokemon could just lie there on its stomach forever and be happy.
 
 
Gaius looked at the Pokemon, trying to figure out what it was. Since he had investigated all the Pokemon of the Kanto region, Gaius deduced that this Pokemon must be from a different region just like Richard’s Seedot. He figured he might as well wait a few minutes to see if Taylor explained his foreign monster. Gaius was eager to learn all about this new Pokemon, and if the Pokemon seemed powerful enough, he would definitely try to pick one up on his own, either by going to its native region, or by checking local Pokemarts to see if they had any in stock.
 
 
Currently, though, the Pokemon did not seem too appealing. From the moment Gaius had watched it appear from its Pokeball, it seemingly had not moved one inch. This reminded Gaius of Snorlax in the Kanto region, as that Pokemon, too, barely moves at all except to consume food. Perhaps this Pokemon was a psychic type, and it was using its psychic powers to plan its move or to observe the world around him. Gaius continued to watch the motionless Pokemon for a few moments, until he finally spoke up.
 
 
"So, Taylor, what kind of Pokemon is this?" Gaius asked the ringleader, unsure of the Pokemon's purpose. "Does the Pokemon ever move, or attack, or do anything? Or is it some sort of pet that you keep just for personal enjoyment? I've read up on a few Pokemon that barely move like Snorlax, but even then, they show some signs of life. I haven't seen this one breathe or do anything except blankly stare. Its eyelids haven't even moved yet." Gaius thought for a moment and then considered the worst possible scenario. "Is your Pokemon even alive? Or is it some sort of stuffed carcass of a dead Pokemon that you captured and had until it passed on?" Gaius paused, glancing at Taylor, waiting for him to answer the barrage of questions.
 
 
"Well, first off, my Pokemon is called a Slakoth, and it is most definitely alive." Taylor said, matter-of-factually, his eyes almost rolling at Gaius's perceived ignorance. "Slakoth are native to the Hoenn region, just like Richard's Seedot is. They barely move at all for their entire lives, and usually their trainers are the only ones to witness them move, since they spend so much time around their Pokemon. A Slakoth can sustain itself on only a few leaves every day, and that supply can be extended up to a week, if needed, to adapt to a scarce amount of food. The secret to its extremely small diet is its lack of movement. With it moving only a few feet, or less, each day, it only needs to consume a few calories to maintain its body processes. While they do appear to loaf around all day, they are quite interesting to train. One of the only ways you can battle with a Slakoth is to use its lack of mobility to your advantage. You can use status inducing moves such as Yawn to place the opposing Pokemon in the same motionless state as your Pokemon, and use attack moves like Counter to deal twice the amount of physical damage that a Pokemon deals to Slakoth. So, if you allow your Slakoth to take a big hit, which it is guaranteed to do since it is motionless, you can then strike back with double the power and sometimes knock out the opposing trainer's Pokemon in one hit.”
 
 
"So, the Pokemon pretty much just sits there all day, waiting to be attacked or barely moving, if at all, so it can eat a few leaves?" Gaius wanted to make sure this Pokemon was completely useless before he decided that he shouldn't try to get one on his own. "Does Slakoth even evolve into anything useful or is it just the Pokemon world's easiest punching bag, besides Magikarp of course." Gaius thought for a moment. "At least Magikarp can evolve into Gyarados," he muttered to himself. Slakoth seemed absolutely useless, or at best it was a good physical move counter, assuming it ever survived the first hit.
 
 
"Well now, you should learn that Slakoth does evolve into a large and powerful Pokemon." Taylor retorted, trying to defend his Pokemon's pride. "Slakoth first evolves into Vigaroth, and in that stage it speeds up immensely, and its attack also gets a boost as well. Vigaroth can swing from tree to tree in forests at an incredibly fast rate, and their claws are extremely powerful. Vigaroth itself can evolve into a large Pokemon named Slaking. Slaking reverts to Slakoth's lack of speed, allowing it to only move once for every two moves your opponent makes. However, Slaking's attack power is one of the highest of any known Pokemon. This means that even though Slaking can only attack every other round, when he does get to attack, you can devastate your opponent. Although I like my Slakoth too much to let it evolve, I'm sure he could end up being a powerful Slaking one day, if I ever felt the need to have one.”
 
 
‘So, these Slaking are actually powerful, huh,’ he thought to himself. Gaius hoped that everything Taylor had told him was honest and accurate. If Slakoth could evolve into one of the most powerful, although very slow, Pokemon, he knew that he had to try and add one to his collection. "So, Taylor, you said that these Slakoth and Slaking are from Hoenn, right? Do you know if there are any places to catch one around here? Is there possibly some kind of Pokemart that sells that kind of Pokemon in Kanto? I already know that Vermillion City might have rare and exotic Pokemon and items in stock, but I was hoping for something a bit closer. Got any ideas?" Hopefully finding a Slakoth, or one of its forms, would be easier than finding a Seedot.
 
 
 "No, kid, I'm sorry. As far as I know, I have the only Slakoth in this whole area of Kanto. I've seen several other kinds of exotic Pokemon from both Johto, Hoenn, and the other regions, but haven't seen any Slakoth, or its evolutions, for some time now. I wish I could be of more help, but, as you said, Vermillion City is your best bet." Taylor cupped his hand around his large chin for a moment, seemingly trying about something. After a moment or so, he spoke again. "Hey, if you have a ton of money, you could buy my Slakoth for $500,000. I'm sure it will be worth it, since you can evolve it into a powerful Slaking. Even though Slakoth was my first, and favorite, Pokemon, I can always catch another one in Hoenn, and be $500,000 richer. What do ya say?"
 
 
"Wow," Gaius responded. He wasn't expecting such an offer from Taylor, especially since he was offering his favorite Pokemon just to try and get money. After a few seconds of thinking, Gaius responded. "I'm not sure whether to be honored that you'd sell me your prize Pokemon or disgusted that you'd trade your supposedly favorite Pokemon's loyalty for a ton of cash. Even though I could pay you the amount you ask, I'd much rather spend it on something besides feeding an obese man's need for greed. You're pathetic Taylor, and honestly your attitude sends a bad message to your entire hard-working circus. I may still come to the show tomorrow, only in the hope that your performers can prove they still believe in their Pokemon, unlike you."
 
 
"Why you little, I’ve never heard of anything so rude in my entire life," Taylor huffed, letting a large breath exit his mouth. Taylor was unaccustomed to being on the receiving end of such insults. Normally, the ringleader would dish out that kind of language for when his performers were refusing to do what they were told, or when their Pokemon were not performing as well as they should be. After a moment, he composed himself and began to speak. "I'm sorry you feel that way, Gaius. I was only hoping to be able to give you what you wanted, in a manner that I could also get something in return. I would hope this misunderstanding does not affect your reviews of the circus tomorrow. Please, feel free to still come. Hopefully, if we see each other then, we can start fresh." Taylor grabbed his Pokeball, pressed the button, and Slakoth was sucked inside. He slowly turned away from the group and began to walk away, leaving the circus performers reeling from Gaius's words.
 
 
Gaius then turned to the group of circus performers and calmly smiled. "I'm sorry I yelled at your boss, guys, but his attitude towards his own Pokemon is completely unacceptable. If he cared at all for his Pokemon he wouldn't have just offered it away the instant someone asked about it. I at least value my Pokemon's strength, but I wouldn't go just trading or selling them to someone else, unless I caught a duplicate Pokemon, or something." Gaius then paused and waited for the performers to speak.
 
 
"Well, I sure hope you come to see me and my Machop do tricks tomorrow," Arnold pleaded, as if he was longing for his new friend and admirer to come witness his act.
 
 
"Yeah, you should come see my Growlithe light it up," Johnny chimed in. He then cautiously added, "you won't get burnt clothes, I promise."
 
 
"My Seedot does give an amazing performance," Richard added, while finally gaining the courage to speak after Gaius's tirade. "You can see him fly out of a cannon so high he'll look like a flying Pokemon.
 
 
Gaius sighed and laughed, looking at each of the circus performers. "Sure, I'd love to come and see all of your shows tomorrow. Probably get some unhealthy circus food too." Although Gaius was not ready to call any of these trainers his friends, they each certainly had different expertise he could learn from and use to become a better trainer. Despite their training regimen being a secret, Gaius still hoped he could glean some information from watching their acts. He thought to himself, 'the best way to learn is by watching it yourself, right?' Gaius turned away from the group and looked down at his own Pokemon, Pikachu, who was standing attentively at his feet. “What do you think, Pikachu?” He asked as he bent down and spoke to the mouse. “Are you having a good time so far? We can come tomorrow and watch all of their performances.”
 
 
“Pika Pi,” the creature replied as it seemed to smile.
 
 
The trainer looked up at the sky, and noticed it beginning to darken. "Oh yeah," Gaius remarked, "I totally forgot, I don't exactly have anywhere to stay tonight, and it's already getting dark. I'd hate to have to walk all the way back to Pallet Town just to rest for the night. Is there any chance I could sleep somewhere here?" Gaius smiled and hoped that his new acquaintances could be of help. The trainer then looked down at Pikachu and patted his Pokemon on the head, awaiting the performers' response.
 
 
"Um, sure, Gaius. I'm sure it would be fine if you roomed with me for the night." Richard replied, meekly. "I happen to have an extra sleeping bag in case mine ever rips or gets damaged, so you can definitely use that. Although you'll have to promise not to follow me if I go train at all from now til the performance tomorrow. If you can abide by that, there shouldn't be any problem with you staying here." Richard smiled and nodded to Gaius, hoping to convey a sense of friendship.
 
 
Gaius quickly followed Richard back towards a medium-sized, green pitched tent. The interior had enough space for two or three people to sleep in, as well as a small, black suitcase that rested at the end of the sleeping bag that was already rolled out. “I take it that this is your tent, then? It’s not very big, but I guess you wouldn’t need it to be that big since it’s just you staying here.” The young trainer then looked around, trying to see if he could locate the extra sleeping bag.
 
 
Richard then reached inside the suitcase and pulled out a rolled up sleeping bag. He then turned to Gaius and began to speak. “Yeah, for just me, I don’t mind it at all. It’s spacious if you ask me, and about the size of a normal small bedroom. I can’t complain, considering Taylor helped me get all this stuff set up. I owe a lot to him; I wouldn’t be any kind of decent performer at all if not for his guidance and faith in me.” He then opened the second sleeping bag and laid it at the opposite side of the tent from where the first one was located. “Feel free to make yourself at home and sleep whenever you get tired. I actually am going to sleep as soon as possible, though. If you decide to stay up for a while, try not to make too much noise.” The young boy went over to the first sleeping bag and laid inside it, putting a sleeping mask over his eyes as soon as the bag was zipped up.
 
 
Gaius looked down at the empty sleeping bag that had been laid out for him and sighed. ‘I guess I might as well sleep, considering there’s nothing for me to do here until the show tomorrow. With all the secrecy around with their training, I can’t exactly go walking around here.’ The young trainer opened the sleeping bag and laid down, hoping to fall asleep. Within twenty minutes, both trainers were asleep in their respective sleeping bags, waiting for the new day.
 
 
When Gaius awoke, the sun was shining through the entrance to the tent. He looked towards the other sleeping bag and found it empty. ‘I guess Richard already woke up to go train or something. I don’t think it’s too much of a problem for me to go out and try and look for him. If I do happen upon him training, I can always try to feign ignorance and still record or memorize any information I can.’ The young trainer picked up his backpack, placed it on his back, and exited the tent.
 
 
He looked around the area and saw a variety of people milling about, most of which were in various circus attire. Gaius continued to walk around the area and saw several large tents that, from the outside, looked to be able to hold over one-hundred people. After a few more minutes of walking, Gaius noticed Arnold, who was walking around with his Machop. The young trainer started to walk towards the bodybuilder, hoping that he could provide some information of where to go. “Hey Arnold,” Gaius yelled, when he was twenty feet away, “how are you?” He then paused and thought of another question. “Do you know where the circus presentations are going on today? I’ve seen several circus tents but there doesn’t seem to be any signs or anything on them.”
 
 
The strongman smiled as he saw Gaius and rushed over to see the young trainer. As soon as Gaius finished speaking, Arnold opened his mouth to do so. “Hey little Gaius, did you sleep well? I’m doing pretty good so far. Getting ready for my awesome show.” Arnold stopped speaking for a moment and scratched his head, then he continued speaking. “I think most of the shows are going to be taking place in the ‘A’ tent, where some other minor attractions are going on in the ‘B’ tent. If the signs haven’t gone up yet at each tent, I think they should soon. Taylor is usually pretty good with maps and signs and stuff, which is good for me because I always get lost. I think Taylor only gave you an A pass ticket, so don’t mix them up like me. I don’t want to have to throw you out of here.” The tall man laughed heartily and spoke again. “Speaking of shows, I think Richard is going on in ‘A’ tent in about half an hour. You should probably go there now so you can get a good front row seat. There’s usually a few open that aren’t reserved for advance ticket holders.” He smiled, and then continued to speak. “By the way, ‘A’ tent is an orange color, where B tent is yellow. That’s the way you tell which tent is which.”
 
 
Gaius nodded and quickly replied, “ah, ok. Thanks Arnold, I’ll be sure to head there now, then. Thanks for all the information about the tents and stuff. I would have no idea where to go if I didn’t run into you.” The trainer turned and rushed back towards the two large tents, hoping to reach Tent A before Richard’s show began. ‘Hopefully I can finally see some interesting techniques out of these guys. After all, that’s my only reason for being here.’ The young trainer smiled as he found himself back at the two large tents, and entered the orange colored one that now had a white sign marked A in front of it.
 
 
As the trainer entered the large tent, he could see a large arrangement of bleachers that had been set up in a square-like formation facing towards the center of the tent. The interior was quite large, like one would expect a circus big-top to be, with overhanging lights arranged similarly to the bleachers, and a circular wall five feet high that presumably ensured that the acts could did not spill over into the stands, or visa-versa. There was a small section of the five-foot wall that led out towards a separate entrance that was apparently used for performers or circus staff. The stands were beginning to fill up with people, and Gaius was unsure if he could find a seat in the front row. After a minute or so of scanning the bleachers, he found that all the front row seats had already been occupied but he found a nice open space to sit in the second row.
 
 
Gaius rushed over to take the seat that he had seen and was able to sit down and claim the spot before anyone else saw the open space. Pikachu was able to squeeze into the space right next to his trainer, the Pokemon had been lackadaisically following Gaius since he left the tent, but now seemed awake and eager to enjoy the show. Once sitting, the young trainer gazed out towards the center of the circus tent and waited for the first act to begin. ‘I guess it’s only a waiting game now,’ Gaius pondered as the minutes ticked by, ‘I only hope that my trip out here is worth it. I’d hate to have wasted a whole two days of my Pokemon journey for some meager parlor tricks.’
 
 
After approximately twenty minutes, Taylor entered the big-top from the entrance that was connected to the center and moved to the center of the big-top. Taylor was dressed in a black and white tuxedo, complete with a matching top-hat. He had plain white gloves on his hands and held in his right hand the usual cane that included his Slakoth’s Pokeball. Taylor slowly turned, looking into the stands. This concluded when he had looked through the entire circus tent.
 
 
When he was done observing the crowd, he began to speak. “Welcome, one and all, to Taylor’s Spectacular Circus!” He paused as the crowd erupted into cheers and began to clap, then Taylor continued to speak as the noise died down. “I’m glad to see so many of you out here today. Whether this is your first time coming to our shows, or if you’ve been here dozens of times before, I can assure you, you’re in for quite a show! Starting off today’s performance, we have Richard and his amazing flying Seedot! ‘What, Seedot can’t fly’, you say? Well, this one can! After Richard, you’ll be treated to the strongman Arnold, who, along with his Machop, can lift and pull more than you ever thought possible! Then, after Arnold has wowed you with his feats of strength, you’ll have an hour break in performances for food and any other needs that you may have. After lunch, the amazing Johnny will take the stage. His performance, along with his Growlithe, is so hot and daring, it’ll leave you on the edge of your seat. Finally, to cool you down after that red-hot performance, you’ll be able to chill out with Frost and her ice-cold Snorunt!
 
 
“If any of these shows don’t appeal to you, there’s also another big-top nearby with other acts for you to check out that occur throughout the day, even during the break, including some special advanced acts from some of those that you’ll see here today. Check out both, as the performance is completely different!” Taylor smiled wide as the crowd once again cheered. After a few moments they quieted down and the ringleader finished his remarks. “Once again, I thank all of you for coming out here and supporting my dream. I hope you enjoy the show!” Taylor smiled once more and then turned, slowly walking out of the tent from the employee’s entrance.
 
 
The crowd began to murmur and talk amongst themselves as the middle of the big-top remained empty. Gaius looked around the circus tent, hoping to catch a glimpse of Richard or his Seedot. ‘I hope the show starts soon, it would be silly if Taylor came out here and made all of those announcements so long before the actual show started.’ The trainer sighed and began to look down towards the ground, feeling slightly annoyed by the wait. As the young man was about to get up and leave the tent, a hole in the middle of the big top opened, as if there was a flap that was pulled off. A circular ray of light shone from the top down onto the center of the tent.
 
 
Gaius looked up towards the hole in the roof of the tent, waiting for whatever may appear there. Within a few moments, two simultaneous loud blasts were heard. The crowd once again looked around the stadium, hoping to figure out where the sounds came from. Several seconds passed by without any movement, until a figure was seen floating down from the top of the tent, where the hole had been made. Gaius looked closely at the figure, and immediately saw that it was Richard who was clad in the same outfit that he wore the day before. ‘I wonder how many different copies of that same outfit he has,’ Gaius mused. Richard had a small pack back on, and there was a white parachute that hung above the performers head. ‘I guess Taylor wants him to make a dramatic entrance. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly impressed.’
 
 
While he was still twenty feet off the ground, Richard slid off his parachute. The performer fell forward into a somersault until he gracefully landed on one knee. He then smiled towards the crowd and waved, causing the mass of people to erupt in applause. “Hello one and all, I’m Richard,” the performer yelled triumphantly. “Seedot should be dropping in any moment,” he smiled and looked up towards the hole in the top of the tent. The gaze of the crowd slowly shifted up there as well, as all were wondering when Seedot would appear.
 
 
Soon a small rotating object was seen coming in from the hole at the top of the tent, its descent being slowed by a bright-green parachute. Gaius smiled as he recognized Seedot spinning fancifully as it descended towards the ground. When the Pokemon landed, Richard picked up the Pokemon in his arms and brought it to a small nearby cannon. He loaded the Pokemon into the cannon, lit a fuse at the end of the cannon, and aimed it at a 45-degree angle. Within twenty seconds, the fuse at the cannon had been spent and Seedot was sent blasting off out of the opening. As it soared through the air, the Grass-type Pokemon continued to flip, summersault and spin in rapid succession until it landed in a nigh-invisible net suspended high in the air.
 
 
Richard then bowed to the crowd and waited for his Seedot, who rolled off the net and fell right into his arms. The young man bowed again and Seedot rolled around on the ground as a bow of its own. The crowd erupted in applause that continued for several minutes until the Pokemon and performer exited the tent.
 
 
Gaius next watched as a large partially demolished four-door car was pulled into the center of the ring by an old pick-up truck.  Arnold climbed out of the pick-up, still wearing his red performance attire, and waved towards the crowd. With a Pokeball in his left hand, he threw it towards the ground, and it opened, revealing his Machop in a flash of white light. His right hand held a wireless microphone and he began speaking. "My Machop and I will now dazzle you our strength. Let's start with the easy stuff, right Machop?" He nodded towards his Pokemon who started to hold out his grey hands palm-side up, as if he was waiting for something to be placed there. Arnold then walked towards his Pokemon and placed his feet in the Fighting-type Pokemon's hands.
 
 
The small, grey Pokemon slowly lifted Arnold up into the air with both hands, raising the hulking man above the Pokemon's head. Machop seemed perfectly able to hold Arnold's weight at first, but after a minute or so he began to falter, and the stress and strain of holding up his trainer's large body. 'Does Arnold's body weigh more than a Graveller,' Gaius thought. 'I remember reading how Machop use Graveller to train themselves, but if Arnold's muscular body weighs more I can see how it could be hard on his Pokemon.' The young trainer continued to look on from the stands as the Superpower Pokemon continued to hold his trainer.
 
 
After several minutes of being held, Arnold looked down towards his Pokemon and spoke, "now, time for the next part of our amazing act." The Pokemon nodded and lowered his hands, causing Arnold to step down and face his Pokemon. The Fighting-type Pokemon walked over to the old car and put his hands under middle of the driver's side of the car. He slowly lifted the car up in the air and began to hold it over his head. The crowd cheered as it witnessed this feat, causing Machop and Arnold to smile. The Pokemon lowered the car and walked over to his trainer, and the pair began to wave as the crowd started to applaud. The performers then slowly walked out of the tent as a circus worker entered the tent and drove the truck and re-attached car out of the big top.
 
 
'That was really impressive,' Gaius thought as he slowly rose from his seat and began to work his way towards the exit. 'Those two really must train a lot for Machop to be able to lift that car. When he neared the exit, he could see Arnold talking to a young woman that seemed about Gaius' age. She was wearing a bright blue blouse with long draping sleeves from her elbow to her hand.  The lower half of her body was covered in a deep blue long skirt that reached the floor. Gaius overheard the two of them seemingly argue but could not make out what they were saying to one another. As soon as the pair noticed the young trainer walking towards them, they stopped talking and Arnold sauntered off away from the tent looking depressed.
 
 
Gaius approached the young woman and began to speak. "Mind telling me all that was about. I don't know who you are, but Arnold seemed kind of upset. I've only known him for a bit, but he always seemed happy whenever I talked to him. Something big must be up for him to be that bothered." 
The young woman flipped her bright blonde hair out of her face and replied, "it's official circus busy, so don't get involved since you're not on the payroll. Would you mind telling me your name? It's not often that we have people interested in internal circus affairs. My boss doesn't exactly like it when the press snoops around here."
 
 
The young trainer chortled and tried to suppress a laugh. "I'm not a member of the press. My name's Gaius, I'm currently rooming with Richard for a day or two until the circus moves on. Taylor ok'd my presence here so I don't think he has a problem with me; although the same can't be said of my feelings towards him. What's your name, by the way?"
 
 
The girl looked skeptical at Gaius, and slowly replied. "The name's Annika, but you can call me Frost; most people around here do. If you were paying attention to Taylor's opening, I'm on right after Johnny. Speaking of Taylor, do you have some sort of problem with him? That's ungrateful since you said he's letting you stay here with us. Besides, I wouldn't want you to get on the boss man's bad side anyway." She trailed off, glaring at the young man.
 
 
"Well," Gaius stated matter-of-factly, "your boss offered to trade me his supposedly beloved Pokemon for one of mine just because it was rare. That kind of lack of respect for a Pokemon is just pitiful in my books. Taylor seems two-faced to me, and I wouldn't ever work for a guy like him if my life depended on it. Bye Annika, or should I say Frosty, I'm kind of hungry and don't want to waste the intermission time talking to you." With that, the young man walked past Annika and headed towards the concession area, his Pikachu in tow.
 
 
He quickly bought a cheeseburger and fries and headed back towards the main tent. As he neared the tent, he saw Richard out of the corner of his eye looking scared, so the young trainer moved closer to investigate. When he neared Richard, he saw Arnold in front of the young man, talking to him and handing the acrobat a small box. The only words Gaius could make out in the exchange were Arnold saying, "it's Taylor's orders, you don't get a say." After the box exchanged hands Arnold walked away and Gaius crept close to Richard to investigate.
 
 
"Hey buddy," he asked the young man, "I saw you and Arnold talking a few minutes ago, is something up?" 'All of this seems incredibly suspicious,' Gaius thought. 'First that girl Annika was arguing with Arnold, and now Arnold seems to be strong-arming Richard for Taylor. Something must be going on here, but I just don't know what.'
 
 
Richard nervously looked towards the trainer and quickly replied. "No, nothing's up," he said as he tried to hide the small box behind him. "Just going over some procedural stuff for the next time my act comes up, nothing important for you to worry about."
 
 
Gaius' eyes traveled past the acrobat as he looked at the box that the boy was hiding. "Say, what's in that box. Is that something cool related to your new performance or something?" 'If that box wasn't important,’ Gaius thought, ‘Richard wouldn't be hiding it.’
 
 
“Oh, this box,” Richard said sheepishly as he continued to try to hide it, “it’s something related to training. I’m sorry, I’ve got to get going and find Taylor about tomorrow’s show.” He quickly sped off, away from the young trainer and Gaius re-entered the large tent with his Pikachu in tow. Gaius found another seat, this time in the front-row, and began to eat his lunch. After thirty minutes, Gaius had finished his meal and a blaring voice was heard on a loudspeaker.
 
 
“The second round of performances will be starting in 10 minutes for Tent A,” Taylor’s loud voice boomed throughout the area. “I hope you enjoyed the performances of Tent B during the intermission. Again, please return to Tent A for the main attractions.”
 
 
Gaius watched as circusgoers began to filter back into the tent and soon, he was surrounded by other patrons as they all crowded the bleachers trying to find the optimal seating location. As the seating quickly filled, the young trainer noticed a group of plainly clothed extras pushing a large tub full of what seemed to be black liquid into the middle of the showground as well as several metallic rings of varying heights. ‘Those must be for Johnny’s show,’ he thought as he curiously awaited the performance. Moments later, Johnny entered the big top and walked to the middle of the floor.
 
 
“Hello and welcome,” Johnny shouted enthusiastically, “I thank you all for coming back after intermission to see me get all fired up! First, a warning; this entire act is incredibly dangerous, and I’ve spent my life honing my skills. Please, do not attempt this at home. My name is Johnny Phoenix, and like the mythical bird I live in fire.” He paused for a second for the crowd to cheer. “If you don’t believe me, let me show you. Come out, partner.” He grabbed his Pokeball and pressed the button, causing the ball to open and a flash of bright light to appear from the ball.
 
 
Growlithe appeared, its fur was bright under the big top lights. On top of the Pokemon's head, there was a small patch of tan fur, and there was a pair of round ears on the sides of its head. Its body was covered in bright orange fur, with a tan colored stomach and a large patch of tan hair under its chin. The small dog looking Pokemon ran around its trainer and flames shot out of its mouth up in the air as it ran in circles.
 
 
The firebreather then tilted his head backwards and joined his Pokemon, as fire shot out of his mouth towards the sky. After several seconds, he closed his mouth and the fire dissipated and his Pokemon did the same. “Now, after that fiery intro, how about we start the real show,” he boomed as the crowd erupted in applause. “Growlithe,” he commanded, “let’s get fired up!” He then looked to his Pokemon and nodded.
 
 
The small fire-type Pokemon then readied itself near the first of the hoops and it jumped up and began to spin sideways as he flew in the air. While passing through the ring, flames emerged from its mouth which caused the ring to become engulfed in flame. The creature did the same for the other rings as it twirled through them. Once all three rings were lit, the Pokemon proceeded to do aerial flips back and forth through each ring of varying heights until Johnny called to his Pokemon.
 
 
“Now everyone,” Johnny yelled to the crowd, “want to see my finale?” The man waited as the crowd cheered and hollered for his act. “Good,” he continued, “now, I’m going to say this again. My final act is incredibly dangerous, and you should never even think of trying this at home under any circumstances. The outfit that I wear, and years of training makes this possible, but even so I am putting myself at risk. We have assistants here on standby even to ensure that everything goes well.”
 
At this, Gaius could see the same assistants from earlier walk into the circus tent, each holding a small Pokeball. Each of them pressed the device and Gaius saw three turtle looking Pokemon of various sizes and shades of blue appear in front of their trainers. ‘I wonder what Johnny is going to try,’ the young man thought as he took stock of the performance arena, ‘that small metallic pool of liquid is still unused, maybe he’s going to do something with that?’
 
 
Johnny then walked towards the large circular pool and looked towards the crowd. “I am now going to set this pool of gasoline on fire with my mouth,” he shouted enthusiastically, “but, that’s not all. I will then walk across the pool, while it is burning and continue to use my mouth to light the pool as I walk. Yes, you heard me right ladies and gentlemen, I will be walking through burning gasoline. One final time, I will say, do not try this at home.” With that final warning, the firebreather stood at the edge of the pool and opened his mouth. Flames spewed forth and the pool quickly caught light. Johnny then stepped in and began walking forward.
 
 
Gaius cringed as he saw the man walk slowly across the pool. Even though the distance was no more than 10 feet, the young trainer remembered how it felt in his own home when it began to burn. He could feel the flames licking his feet and wondered how anyone could decide to feel that voluntarily, even with protective equipment.
 
 
The circus performer continued walking step by step, his mouth pointed downwards and to the front as he went, fire continuously seeping from his mouth as the flames rose higher and higher on his body until his entire midsection was covered in flames. By the time he reached the far edge and stepped over the side, the fire was up to his neck. The performer gave a quick two thumbs-up to the crowd, and then the three assistants and their Pokemon raced over and ordered both Johnny and the pool sprayed with water. Thoroughly soaked and his clothes singed, the performer appeared relatively unharmed and he took a bow for the crowd while his Growlithe ran around him with its head held high. Johnny then turned to his Growlithe and recalled the Pokemon before exiting the tent while the assistants put out the rings and then removed both the rings and the pool from the floor.
 
 
With that, Taylor re-entered and began to speak. “So, how did you guys like Johnny Phoenix? Did he make you feel a bit hot under the collar?” He laughed, his large stomach shaking as he did so and his top hat nearly toppling from his head at the motion. “Well now, let’s get you cooled down with the one, the only, Frost. This ice queen will make your blood turn cold and will freeze you to your seats. Give it up for Frost!” He motioned towards the performers entrance and the crowd rose to their feet in applause.
 
 
Suddenly, an ice flow shot out from the tent entrance and the young woman that Gaius had seen earlier quickly skated in on ice skates. In her arms was a small orange and yellow triangle shaped Pokemon with black in the middle and ice was shooting out of its mouth. The young female performer skated higher as her small Pokemon created a spiral ice pathway in the middle of the arena. She then began to jump and twirl as she set down her partner to skate on the ice itself.
 
 
Her Pokemon then would momentarily stop creating ice and leave gaps in the path, causing Frost to jump the gaps and to continue skating up and up until they reached the top of the tent, at that point she rested for a few seconds at the top of a small ice platform at the top of her Pokemon’s ice ramp. Snorunt then shot a beam of almost directly downward and began to slide down towards the ground. Frost skated down after it as the Ice-type Pokemon began to make designs made from ice in the shapes of various Pokemon, including Pikachu, Charmander, and others that Gaius didn’t recognize as the pair traveled quickly down towards the ground.
 
 
Frost reached the bottom of the arena and then flew into the air several feet off an ice ramp that her Pokemon made seconds before. She then spun around three times before coming to rest and posing as her Pokemon covered the entire performance area in a row of ice. She smiled towards the crowd, albeit a slightly forced-looking expression, and she raised her arms into the air. “I hope you all enjoyed my performance,” she shouted as the crowd cheered and clapped, “however, the best trick is still to come.” She then snapped her fingers, and all the ice pathways, icy designs and ramps instantly vanished in a bright and sparkly ice powder that sparkled in the air for a few seconds before falling to the ground and evaporating. She then bent down and tapped her ice skates, seemingly retracting the blades and she quickly bowed before walking out of the tent, her Snorunt in her hand.
 
 
With the act over, Taylor once again walked into the tent, his wide smile beaming and looking around at the audience. “Now, I hope Frost’s icy performance didn’t give you frostbite,” he shouted to the crowd. “As ringleader for this circus, I thank you once again for coming out here today. We’ll have a few more smaller acts in tent B soon, but if you’re heading home then thank you for spending your time with us and seeing all the talents and abilities of our performers and their highly trained Pokemon. We have a small gift stall out front if you’d like to commemorate your time here today, and we hope you come see us the next time we stop by, as we will have even more stunning displays for you to enjoy!”
 
Taylor bowed and removed his hat as he did so as the crowd gave one more round of applause before they started to depart. Gaius soon joined the throng and when he walked outside, he noticed that darkness had fallen over the area. ‘Wow, I guess the show went on longer than I thought,’ he thought as he slowly made his way back to Richard’s tent. ‘I may as well offer my praise for his performance,’ he thought as he walked towards the empty back area of the circus, ‘Richard was really skilled, and perhaps he can help me with some application of his acrobatics in flying battles.’ As he neared the young man’s tent, he heard what he thought was yelling, but the sound certainly wasn’t human.
 
 
The noise seemed to be coming from Richard’s tent. Gaius rushed in, curious to see what the matter was, and he saw Richard’s small Pokemon writhing in pain on the ground, its body coursing with electricity and its trainer standing over it with tears in his eyes.
 
 
“Taylor said you forgot to do one of the maneuvers Seedot, and that you need to be punished to make up for your mistake,” Richard scolded through tears as he held a small control pad in his hand as he pressed down a button. “I don’t want to do to this, but Arnold and Taylor will know if I don’t punish you, and then they’ll punish me too and then throw me out of the circus. I don’t have anywhere to stay if they just throw me out in this part of Kanto.” He continually held down and released the button in spurts as his Pokemon cried and shook from electricity with each press.
 
 
Gaius, in horror about what he was witnessing, ran to Richard and knocked the controlling device out of his hand and then smashed it with his foot. “Richard,” he boomed while exchanging glances between Seedot and its trainer, “what is going on here? What are you doing to your Pokemon? It’s one thing to scold Pokemon or to train them hard to get them to do better the next time, but this is pure torture plain and simple.” He grabbed the young man by his shirt collar and started to shake him violently for a moment before letting him go. “You are torturing your Pokemon,” he angrily shouted, “this isn’t right.”
 
 
Richard continued to break down and sobbed as he looked down towards his Pokemon that was still twitching from the shocks. The young trainer cradled the Pokemon in his arms for a few seconds before he recalled the Pokemon to its ball. He then looked towards Gaius while still hunched over near the ground and wailed through his tears. “It’s not like I want to do it, Gaius,” he protested, “but Taylor has his intense training regimens, and if our Pokemon don’t perform, they get forced incentive to comply the next time. Taylor has Arnold monitor the other performers, and Arnold has permission to rough us up if we don’t do what Taylor says.” He looked down towards the ground, forlorn about what had just transpired.
 
 
Undeterred, Gaius shook his head and placed a hand on Richard’s shoulder. “Ok,” he began slightly sympathetically, yet still terse, “bring me to Taylor. I’ll make sure this stops once and for all. You can either do that, or I’ll take Seedot away from you. I have no qualms about taking an abused Pokemon from its trainer to ensure it gets a better life. I may be tough, but I’d never do anything even close to this.” He then forcefully pulled Richard to his feet and looked him in the eyes. “Your choice, you can either help me fix the situation, or you can watch as I take Seedot away. Choose, now.”
 
 
The acrobat slowly nodded his head and looked at Gaius. “Yes, ok. I can take you to Taylor. I think he’s watching the others train now that all the performances are over. Hopefully you can talk some sense into him. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost Seedot.” He slightly shuddered, seemingly at the thought of losing his Pokemon and he led Gaius out of the tent and towards another group of tents off in the distance. “It’s been like this ever since last year,” the performer explained, “Taylor used to be kind, but his stupid circus rivalry drew out this demand for perfection that I had never seen before.” As the pair walked closer to the group of tents, Gaius could hear a commotion.
 
 
The tents were grouped close together, most two or three times as large as Richard’s and Gaius saw a small grouping of five or so people along with various Pokemon standing around and training or talking. Gaius first spotted the tall Arnold, and soon saw Johnny, Frost, and another tall woman with black hair that he had not yet met. His eyes finally caught sight of Taylor who was gesturing angrily and raising his voice.
 
 
“You pitiful ingrates need to work your Pokemon harder,” he bellowed as he shook his fists, “our ticket sales for this area are down 10% over last year’s earnings, and customer feedback overall indicated a need for longer and more varied attractions with more intense shows. Starting tomorrow we’re going to double the training and increase the negative reinforcement.” He then turned to the tall Arnold and began berating the strongman. “I saw your Machop almost drop that car earlier. If it had failed during a live demonstration our reputation would be in the gutter. Tomorrow he’s going to lift too at once, and if he drops then even for a second, he’s going to have to see what It feels like to lift three while being poisoned by Medusa’s Seviper.” He then turned back towards the crowd and continued speaking. “Richard’s Seedot failed at half of its in-air maundering today, so I’m making sure he instills a good work ethic in his Pokemon, or else. I can’t allow any failing acts if we have a hope of beating the Bulbasaur and Beedrill Circus, even if that means we have to resort to drastic measures.”
 
 
At was at this comment when Gaius walked closer to the group, stepping out of the dark night and announcing his presence. “Taylor, you’re a pathetic swine, and I don’t just mean your looks. I saw what you forced Richard to do to his Seedot and its completely disgusting. Working Pokemon hard and training them through intense methods does have benefit, but any benefit stops when the Pokemon are injured if they don’t obey. You need to stop this ‘training’ now, or they’ll be consequences.” He stood defiantly and looked at Taylor with eyes full of contempt.
 
 
 
“Hey now,” Taylor yelled quickly, “you don’t understand the kind of pressure I’m under. In order to make money and support ourselves, we need to be the best. Being the best means doing whatever it takes, any means necessary.” He paused for a second and then continued to speak. “Besides, who would believe a random 16-year-old boy anyway? I’ll just sue you for slander and you won’t be able to prove anything.”
 
 
Gaius chuckled to himself for a second and then shook his head. “Fine, you want to be that way? I’m going to go to the nearest station tomorrow and inform Officer Jenny what you people are doing. Even if you try to leave, I can easily look up your touring schedule and alert the local police there as well. You all disgust me, and I hope that each and every one of you rot for your actions here. If you try to sue me, I can bury you and your attorneys in fees and experts so that by the time we even step into a courtroom you’ll be on the street from the legal fees.” Gaius shook his head in disgust began to walk away from the group.
 
 
With the young trainer walking away, Taylor began to shout once again. “Well in that case, maybe we can just take care of you, then. I’m sure that my workers wouldn’t mind getting their hands dirty to protect their livelihood. Arnold, Annika, take care of him.”
 
 
The pair of circus performers quickly cut Gaius off and moved in front of him, the pair both holding Pokeballs in their hand. “I like you Gaius, but if you hurt Taylor, I have to hurt you,” Arnold looked down at the young trainer and opened his Pokeball. “Machop, come out. It’s time to save the circus!” The weightlifter’s small grey Fighting-type Pokemon emerged from the ball and flexed its muscles.
 
 
Frost then shrugged her shoulders and opened her Pokeball as she retorted, “I don’t battle much, but I’m sure both of us are more than a match for someone like you. Snorunt, it’s your time to shine. Let’s put this kid on ice!” Her black and yellow triangular Ice-type Pokemon appeared and looked towards Gaius, standing on stubby legs and a look of determination in its two blue eyes.
 
 
Gaius sighed and grabbed a Pokeball from his black belt. “You want to battle with me? You’re more than welcome. I tried to talk some sense into you fools, but I’m more than happy to crush the entire circus underneath my boot. Poliwag, time to come out.” He threw the Pokeball and a small blue circular Water-type Pokemon appeared. He then turned to Pikachu who was several feet behind him. “Pikachu let’s see if you’ve gotten any stronger. Use Thunder Shock on Snorunt. Poliwag, use Bubble on Machop.”
 
 
The yellow electric mouse Pokemon nodded “Pika,”as small ripples of electricity ran across its cheeks. A small bolt of electricity shot out towards the dark Ice-type Pokemon. Its partner Poliwag shot a stream of bubbles which struck the Fighting type.
 
 
“Machop, use Low Kick on Pikachu!” The hulking man ordered, and the small Superpower Pokemon ran up to the electric mouse and violently swept the Electric-type Pokemon off its feet.
“Now Snorunt, use Ice Fang on the weakened Pikachu. Take it out before it can get up!”
 
 
Her triangular Ice-type raced forward and used its large white teeth to bite harshly on Pikachu’s backside as it was starting to get up, a wave of ice flashed over the Electric-type as the Ice attack resonated throughout Pikachu’s body.
 
 
Now covered in mud from the first attack, Pikachu wiped off its face and looked at its opponents, ready to take them on in earnest.
 
 
‘They’re going after Pikachu because of how low-level the Poliwag is,’ Gaius thought as he watched the four Pokemon trade attacks, ‘I could always use my Gengar, but I want my newer Pokemon to get experience first. If I only rely on my starter Pokemon, I’ll never be able to have a fully balanced team. I need to think, and fast!’ He took a split second to ponder and he called out his next moves. “Pikachu use Thunder Wave on the Machop and then follow it up with a Quick Attack. Poliwag, keep using Bubble on the Machop.” Gaius knew that his Poliwag was greatly outmatched, but he knew his best bet was to wear them down. ‘Their Pokemon are all well-trained and much higher level than almost everything I have. I think they each only have one, so my six should prove about equal, Gengar aside.’
 
As Gaius’ Pokemon began to carry out their instructions, Frost quickly shouted.
 
 
“Snorunt use Ice Shard on Pikachu before it has a chance to attack.” The command proved effective, as small chunks of ice were hurled from Snorunt’s mouth. Each chunk hit Pikachu on its left side, and the Electric Pokemon winced in pain.
 
 
Arnold, a bit slower on the uptake, finally issued his order. “Machop, use Karate Chop on Pikachu.” This time, as the grey muscled Pokemon ran towards the already damaged electric mouse, its small blue partner Pokemon jumped in between them.
 
 
Poliwag was struck by the fierce attack and it fell backwards into Pikachu, the former seemingly severely weakened even from just one attack. It then shot bubbles once again towards Machop, however some missed their mark.
 
 
Pikachu then fired off a burst of electricity that traveled through Machop’s body. The Fighting-type Pokemon then fell to its knees as electricity surrounded it.
 
 
“Get up Machop,” Arnold commanded, “use Seismic Toss on Pikachu!” His Pokemon tried to move but once again fell on its knees as it was surrounded by electricity. The strongman let out a confused yell in anger as his Pokemon stayed motionless.
 
 
“Oh, you big oaf,” Frost chastised, “your Pokemon is Paralyzed. It’s a lot slower and may not be able to move. I’ll wrap this up from here. Use Crunch on Pikachu. Let’s take it out of commission for good.”
 
 
Gaius gritted his teeth and dug in his heels. ‘There’s no way I can lose this,’ he thought as he tried to formulate a plan, ‘I’m much better than these fools. I’m unbeatable, there’s no way I can lose.’ He quickly shouted, “Pikachu, use as much electricity as you can, try a Thunderbolt. Poliwag, I’m sorry, but you’re going to need to take the Crunch. Intercept it and give Pikachu a chance!”
 
 
The small blue Pokemon jumped in between the approaching Ice-type and its Electric-type partner, and the former sank its teeth into Poliwag’s white and black patterned stomach. The Water-type then fell to the ground and stopped moving. Pikachu took the opportunity to fire off a large electric bolt which struck both Machop and Snorunt. The mouse began to sweat and pant as the attack ended, and Gaius saw both of his foes fall from the electric barrage.
 
 
The young trainer quickly recalled his fallen Poliwag and then bent down to pick up his weakened Pikachu. As he reached out, a large fireball struck the Electric type in the side. Gaius then turned towards the group and saw Johnny step forward, his Growlithe already assuming a battle position.
 
 
“Ya know Gaius,” the firebreather began, “You might have defeated Arnold and Frost, but there’s no way you’ll get through the rest of us with just that Pikachu. It can barely stand as it is. Just admit defeat and we’ll end your suffering once and for all.”
 
 
Gaius once again chuckled and then reached for another Pokeball. ‘With Poliwag knocked out, my best answer to Growlithe is Munchlax.’ He quickly grabbed the Pokeball and the large and rotund blue and tan Pokemon appeared. “Munchlax, use Tackle on the Growlithe, Pikachu come back for now. Conserve your energy.” He then watched as his Electric type ran behind him and laid down, trying to conserve energy.
 
 
“Munchlax munch,” the Pokemon sounded its cry as it hurled its body towards the attacking orange and tan dog shaped Pokemon. The attack connected and Munchlax’s girth shoved the Fire-type back several feet as flames shot from its mouth and hitting the Normal-type, who mostly shrugged off the fire.
 
 
“So, you have more Pokemon after all,” Johnny chortled as he ordered another attack from his Pokemon. “Growlithe, use Take Down.” Small The reddish and tan Pokemon rushed forward and crashed its body against its opponent.
 
 
Gaius smiled as he saw his Munchlax absorb most of the hit. ‘I knew it had good defenses, but had no idea they were this good,’ he pondered as he strategized his next move. “Try Metronome.” He then watched as his Pokemon slowly waved its fingers.
 
 
Munchlax began to shine brightly as its wingers continued to wag, and after a few seconds a large explosion burst from its body. His opponent was caught in the blast and both fell, their bodies spent by the massive Explosion.
 
Gaius shook his head and looked for an exit. As he made a break to leave the crowd, a Seedot and Slakoth appeared in between him and the exit. He then turned around and saw Taylor and Richard holding their Pokeballs. The adventurer looked towards Richard, who now had a bruise forming on his face, presumably from Taylor. “Really Taylor, you’re resorting to harming your employees in order to get them to fight with you? To think that I thought you could sink no lower.” He then turned to Richard and sighed. “I know you don’t want to fight me,” he began, hoping to reassure the young acrobat, “but I’ll do what I must in order to get away. He grabbed two unused Pokeballs and threw them up in the air before catching them after they opened. A small blue Pokemon with grass coming out of its head and a small pink Pokemon emerged from their Pokeball. “Oddish, use Absorb on the Slakoth. Whismur, use Pound on the Seedot.”
 
 
Green orbs appeared from the Slakoth and the small tan Pokemon remained motionless as life was sucked out of it. The small pink Pokemon jumped forward slammed its body into the brown and tan seed-like Pokemon.
 
 
Richard shuddered, his voice breaking as he uttered a command. “Seedot, use Rollout on Whismur.” The young acrobat saw his small Pokemon fall on its side and spin faster and faster on the ground until it launched itself towards its target. The Grass-type Pokemon twirled its feet as he struck the small Normal-type, delivering multiple strikes with his body.
 
 
“Now Slakoth, your turn,” Taylor enthusiastically yelled, “use Counter.” The Pokemon stayed motionless except for moving one of its clawed feet. Puzzled, its trainer looked at the small sloth-like Pokemon. “I said Counter, use Counter on that Absorb attack.” He grew frustrated and began to stomp his feet on the dusty and dirt-covered ground. “I’m your trainer and I order you to attack!” He then reached in his pocket and pulled out a small controller-like device. He then pushed a button on the device and an electric current ran through the Pokemon’s body.
 
 
After several seconds of intense current, the small tan Pokemon began to glow in a white light and it begun to grow larger and stand on its back legs.
 
 
“No, no, this can’t be happening,” Taylor screeched as he grabbed for another device and rapidly pressed a button. “You can’t evolve, I won’t let you,” He screamed at his Pokemon as the creature continued to grow slowly despite his antics. “Why isn’t this working, oh stupid machine. You aren’t allowed to evolve!” His protests seemed in vain as the light and electricity faded and a medium-sized white monkey creature stood where Slakoth once was. The Pokemon had longer claws and a red tuft of fur on top of its head. Visibly enraged, Taylor shouted at his newly evolved Pokemon. “Fine, you wanted to evolve? Then do your job! Vigoroth, use Slash on that Oddish.”
 
 
The new creature jumped forward with a speed that Gaius had never seen before as its claws quickly tore into Oddish and damaged its skin and ripped a tuft of grass from the top of its head. The Grass-Type appeared battered from the attack and it began to breathe heavily.
 
 
“Oddish, try Poison Powder. See if you can wear that Vigoroth down,” the trainer yelled. ‘I know my new Pokemon aren’t as strong as theirs, but I can try to hold out as long as possible before I have to rely on Gengar. Even he may have trouble if the battle is two on one.’ He then looked towards his Whismur who seemed to have recovered from the Rollout. “Whismur, use Pound again on the Seedot.”
 
 
The Pink Pokemon once again jumped and pounded the Seedot hard with its body. Even with the attacks, the Normal-type Pokemon seemed raring to go.
 
 
The blue radish-looking Pokemon fired off a series of purple dust towards the wildly attacking Vigoroth, however in the Grass-type’s panic the dust missed its mark as the monkey closed in once again.
 
 
“Keep using Slash Vigoroth,” Taylor commanded. He smirked as he saw his Pokemon once again claw viciously at the small Grass Pokemon.
 
 
Oddish fell on its side with visible gashes and cuts along its body. Gaius could tell that the Pokemon was in no condition to battle. “Oddish, rest now!” He yelled as he recalled his Pokemon. He then looked towards Pikachu who was still resting behind him. “How are you feeling Pikachu? Think you can come back and try to finish this up?”
 
 
The small electric mouse got up off the ground and nodded slowly. It looked weakened but was still able to continue.
 
 
“It’s ok, hang in there Pikachu,” Gaius consoled, “use Quick Attack on the Vigoroth!”
Richard looked at his Seedot and as it continued to spin at its feet. “Use Rollout again, faster this time!” The brown and tan Pokemon increased in speed and it struck Whismur once again.
 
Pikachu then ran quickly and spun, slamming its head into Vigoroth’s chest. The large Pokemon stumbled backwards as it was struck by the blow, but Taylor quickly announced another order.
 
 
“Use Fury Swipes, claw that Pokemon down to nothing,” Taylor screamed at his newly evolved Pokemon. The white Pokemon quickly complies, rushing forward and clawing Pikachu.  
 
 
The yellow Pokemon fell back, almost unconscious, however as it fell a bolt of electricity shot out as an act of blind desperation. The bolt struck Vigoroth and Seedot and they both fell back, knocked out. Pikachu too, fell and was unconscious. Gaius quickly picked up Pikachu and put it into his backpack, then he recalled Whismur, hoping that the battle was finally done.
 
‘Great,’ Gaius thought to himself sarcastically, ‘with Oddish, Poligwag, Pikachu and Munchlax down, and Whismur almost knocked out as well, I’m down to just him and Gengar. Depending on who else Taylor throws my way, this may be too much for me to handle.’ He started to try and run from the group, but his route was cut off by a young woman with long black hair clad in a purple jumpsuit.
 
 
“Where do you think you’re going, so s-s-oon,” she hissed as she opened her mouth revealing a forked tongue, her large hazel eyes set on the young trainer. “Seviper, attack. Poison this fool before he can escape.” She threw a Pokeball from her waist and a long black and purple snake appeared, its long fangs ready to strike. Before Gaius could grab another Pokeball, the new creature sunk its fangs into Gaius’ right arm.
 
 
Gaius screamed and clutched at his arm with his left hand. The pain coursing through his body radiated as if every blood vessel inside of him was on fire. ‘I, I can’t believe she attacked me,’ he thought as his vision began to blur. He reached down and managed to wildly grab at an a Pokeball and threw it, unsure of which creature it contained.
 
 
A small, pink creature with large, orange-tipped ears emerged and began to cry loudly. The Pokemon looked around and continued to wail as it saw that its trainer was injured.
 
 
“Whismur, use Uproar,” Gaius shouted weakly. He knew that he had to end the battle quickly if he had any hope of escape. He then watched as circles of blue sound waves emanated from its mouth and his opponent’s Pokemon recoiled from the attack.
 
 
“Seviper use Poison Tail,” Medusa commanded as she held her hands to her ears as the sound-based attack subsided.
 
 
The Yellow-spotted snake coiled up and sprang, plunging its red-tipped tail into the opposing Normal-type Pokemon.
 
 
Whismur howled in pain from the impact, its pink skin now taking on a purple hue. The Pokemon then lashed back and pounded on the snake Pokemon by using its large ears.
 
 
Gaius stumbled as his vision blurred and he saw the snake once again attack his newly acquired Pokemon as Whismur collapsed and was sucked back into its Pokeball. As he fell on his knees, suddenly an overpowering feeling rushed through his body as he could feel his body slowly shutting down from toxins.
 
 
The young trainer rose off his knees and faced his group of attackers, a dark aura now exuding from body and a look of unparalleled rage in his eyes. “You dared to attack me, you pitiful creatures,” Gaius’ body spoke in a voice that was not his own. “You not only abused your Pokemon, but you attacked me as well? You are pathetic, and you fools aren’t worthy of life.” Shadowy tendrils shot out from his hands and they wrapped around both Medusa and her Seviper. The tendrils wrapped tight and both Pokemon and human began to cough and sputter as they tried to breathe.
 
 
“Who, or what are you,” Taylor stammered in horror as he saw his performer slowly being strangled. “Please, we’re sorry for attacking you. We, we had no idea what you could do or what kind of power you have. Just leave us be, and we promise we won’t hurt our Pokemon anymore.” The ringleader took several steps back away from the group, trying to put distance between him and ensuing carnage. He then quickly glanced at Johnny and nodded his head.
 
 
The fire breather then reached into his pocket and pulled out a second Pokeball. He threw it in front of him, his hand shaking as he watched Medusa struggle for air. “Go-go uh, Magmar, use Fire Punch” he stuttered as the Pokeball opened. “Attack that trainer, that monster!”
 
 
A yellow and red creature with pointy fingers and toes emerged, its bright tail flame illuminating his red and yellow body. The Pokemon looked confused as he saw Gaius strangling the creature’s circus performer friends. The Pokemon ran forward and punched Gaius’ body with a fiery fist.
 
 
 The trainer’s body laughed, and another shadowy hand reached out and gripped Magmar by the throat. In one quick motion, Gaius threw both Seviper and Magmar high into their air. They seemed to fly back several hundred feet until they were almost out of sight. The trainer then turned on the remaining group as he bent Medusa’s neck with a flick of a shadow tentacle.
 
 
Taylor and the other performers cried and stammered as they saw their compatriot fall. The ringleader turned and began to run, but before he made it more than twenty feet, he felt himself being lifted in the air as a spectral hand wrapped around his neck. His hat fell from his head and crumpled on the ground as its owner was slowly being choked.
 
 
Johnny, Frost and Richard then turned began to run in different directions, each one trying simply to escape the circus with their lives. Shadowy tendrils emerged from Gaius and pierced Johnny and Frost’s stomach skewered them. The ice skater and firebreather both fell to the ground, bleeding and struggling to move. A third tendril emerged and pulled Richard to Gaius’ feet. The trainer looked down at the young acrobat and sneered. “You’re the worst of all of them Richard. You knew what you were doing were wrong, but you kept doing it anyway. You act like you care about your Pokemon, but you don’t care at all. You merely did whatever you were told without actually caring about the effects that it had on your Seedot.”
 
 
It was at this moment that Arnold came up from behind Gaius and smashed a large cage against Gaius’ back. The trainer seemed to feel no pain at the impact, and Gaius turned quickly to face Arnold. The young trainer used his left hand to lift the large man off the ground by his neck.
 
 
“You really think you could hurt me,” Gaius snorted in laughter as he started to squeeze the strongman’s throat. “You pitiful idiot, you should have run when you had the chance. I was busy dealing with your friends and I almost forgot you were still here.” He laughed again as he tightened his grip while the man’s fleet flailed as he was being held a foot off the ground. “Pity, if you had more than a pea-sized brain you may have actually had a chance here.” He tightened his grip even further and a faint pop was heard as Arnold’s windpipe and neck were broken. Gaius then threw the body into the cold mud and turned back towards Richard. “Do you have anything to say for yourself?” Is there any reason why I should spare you? You who were so naïve you listened to an abuser instead of seeking help from someone who could have put a stop to it in the first place or going to the authorities?”
 
 
The acrobat stammered and tried to speak. He slowly looked around and saw that the rest of his troupe was either dead or currently dying. “I, I know I shouldn’t have done that, but I didn’t really have a choice. I’m just a kid, I don’t have that kind of power to stand up to adults. Gaius knows that I was only doing what I had to do. With adults like Arnold and Taylor forcing me to train that way, I had no real chance of standing up for myself. What was I supposed to do? Just run home and somehow find a way back all on my own without any help from anyone? If I had spoken out against them, I would have my life ruined. I was in an impossible situation.”
 
 
Gaius sighed and used a shadowy tendril to wrap around Richard’s neck. “Really, that’s all you have to say. You use your age as a defense for your cruel actions? You know there were other ways to do it, that there were ways to stand up to Taylor and the others, but you were a pitiful coward. You could have called the police and reported the incidents, and then they could have helped you get home, but no. You were too stuck in the limelight of your act to think of that weren’t you? You had many options and opportunities along the way, but you placed your fame and your money ahead of your Pokemon’s welfare. You call yourself a trainer, but you don’t deserve that position, none of your friends did either.” Gaius then used tendrils to collect the nearby Pokeballs of Seedot, Snorunt, Growlithe and Vigoroth and placed them in his bag. “You don’t deserve excuses, and you don’t deserve your pitiful life either,” Gaius taunted as he tightened his grip on Richard’s neck. “I recommend you say your last words, although I doubt that I’ll even remember them.”
 
 
Richard slowly gasped for air and reached for his throat, unable to move the shadowy hand from around his throat. “Gaius…Gaius knows this is wrong. Whatever is happening, this isn’t you Gaius. You need to fight this. You need to gain control. You can’t allow this to happen. Fight Gaius, you need to fight.” He continued to gasp as his breath became labored. The young man could feel his life slowly fading from his body as each breath drew less and less air. Richard knew that he only had minutes or seconds left, and in that time, he wished only for home.
 
 
Gaius squeezed tighter and crushed Phillip’s spine and neck. “Control? Oh, you little boy you were delusional,” he chuckled as he talked to the corpse. “I am in complete control. You had no idea what I can do, and my power is unbeatable. No human or Pokemon can ever stop me, and they can and will literally die trying.” He laughed out loud, his maniacal laughter now piercing the silent night. “I guess there’s no need for this circus anymore, for after all, what is a stage without its performers.” Gaius walked through the tents and dark tentacles struck out from his body and ravaged the tents and big top.
 
 
Beds and cages were torn apart and ripped to shreds, supports were torn asunder, and posters were torn off wooden posts. In all the chaos, a fire broke out as one of Gaius’ claws struck a gasoline supply that was used by Johnny to store supplies for his act. As fire raged all around the fairground, Gaius laughed out loud as he continued his rampage of wanton destruction. “I could really get used to living in a world like this,” he laughed as he started to pull the entire large tent to the ground, “so much destruction and fire, I daresay it’s perfect.” He continued to walk back towards the exit, carving a path of absolute mayhem and carnage as he went with wagons and trailers ripped apart and debris strewn everywhere.
 
 
Fire continued to rip through the remaining convenience food stalls which had been abandoned by their workers earlier when the circus closed. “I guess they left or escaped when they saw me fileting Taylor and the others,” Gaius said as he chortled and neared the exit of the grounds. With each step, his pace slowed. As he exited the park, he continued walking in a straight line. “There must be some other poor soul for me to torture,” he gleefully yelled as he walked by a series of fields, “come out wherever you are, judgment day is here, and I’m the one to decide your fate.”
 
 
He walked along the road next to a large fence that seemed to block off a farm of some kind. Gaius formed a tentacle with which to rip open the fence, but he found himself unable to use his power. He then quickly stumbled against the fence and collapsed, his eyes closing as he grasped at the fence to stay upright.
 
 
After what could have been minutes or hours, Gaius’ eyes opened. ‘I wonder where I am,’ the young trainer thought, ‘the last thing I remember I was fighting Taylor and the others and then total darkness, another blackout just like before with Ash, and with my father.’ Suddenly Gaius felt a searing pain in his chest. He looked down, and a large hole had been burned through his shirt, and his stomach seemed to have burns on it as well. ‘Did Johnny or someone else attack me too?” Gaius was struggling for answers, and in his weakened state he kept trying to rack his brain for a sliver of the memory that he had lost. Suddenly, several flashes came back to him.
 
 
He could see through his eyes, him somehow choking Taylor and Medusa, and then stabbing and murdering Johnny and Frost. Finally, a hazy memory returned of what he had done to Richard. Gaius began to bawl as tears rolled down his face. ‘What have I done? What’s more, how did I even do this?” The snippets of memories replayed in Gaius’ head on repeat as he relived the murders again and again. ‘I can’t, I need to find a way, I can’t do that ever again.’ Gaius continued to grasp for answers, but his body finally gave out. He collapsed against the fence and fell unconscious. Unknown to Gaius, his collapse did not go unnoticed....


To Be Continued...

Current Team: Gengar, Munchlax, Oddish, Poliwag, Pikachu and Whismur


Pokemon I'm attempting:

Machop 5-10k
Seedot 10-20k
Slakoth 5-10k
Growlithe 10-20k
Snorunt 10-20k


CC: 101,634

Note: This is the culmination of a chapter I started I started 4-5 years ago. Going back on previous reviews, I tried to make the characters more realistic and be more descriptive where applicable.
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