“Sorry about running off like that,” Erin apologized as she exited a tall building shaped like Mew, “I just had to talk to my grandfather.”


I smiled, “That’s okay, I understand. Now can we go, so I can get my first Pokémon, now?”


Erin laughed, showing all her teeth, “Of course! It’s this way!”


It never ceased to amaze me how well she knew the city, and she led me quickly down to a large building that looked to be made out of marble, and was crafted finely in the shape of a Chansey rising straight out of the ground. “This is it,” Erin said, and pointed me towards a door in one of the feet, which I entered. I shook my head, wondering how they found the time to carve everything just so.


As I entered, I noticed that I was in a chamber with a TON doors, each with a symbol of a different element on it. Ering turned to me, “So…which type do you want? The fighting type is over there,” she pointed at a door, “The Ground type is-“


But I was already moving towards the fighting type door. Throwing it open, I stepped through, “So what kinds of Pokemon do they-“ I stopped as I looked around, awestruck at the sheer number of Pokémon around me. Heracross, Mankeys, Tyrogues, and others all clamored for my attention. Everywhere I looked, Pokémon were pleading with me to take them with me. I turned slowly, taking my hands cautiously off my ears, where I had put them as soon as all the Pokemon spotted my and started screaming at me. I took everything in, then spotted one species that I really wanted-Machops.


There were ten of them in an enclosure, and I walked over to it and made my way inside, and man, even though they were really young, were they ever strong! I had to make a conscious effort to stay up, they were all pushing me every which way, and I made my way over to one that was sitting alone in a corner and picked it up. It was the runt of the litter, I could tell that, but as I picked it up, it seemed to enjoy being near me, and cuddled into my chest. I turned towards Erin, and said, "I want this one. It may not be strong now, but it will be later."


Erin grinned at me with a mischievous look on her face. She wasn't telling me something. I knew that. What she was hiding I couldn't tell, but still...that expression...there had to be something special about this one. I didn't have to wait long to find out what, because as we were walking out she couldn't hold it in any longer, "That one is actually the smallest and youngest of them all, but it's also the strongest." I looked at the Machop in surprise, the runt of the litter being the strongest? It was amazing. “You want to get a Cheeseburger?”


I glanced at her, “Anything that is digestible that resembles food sounds good right now…but I don’t have any money.”


Erin smiled, and I noticed then that she had very green eyes, “Oh, we don’t use money down here.” I heaved a sigh of relief, “We have to do hard labor to pay for whatever we get.”


I looked at her, “Please tell me you’re joking.”




“Actually, it isn’t that bad,” after I got three cheeseburgers, two containers of fries, and three cups of pop. “At least I get to eat first.”


Erin smiled, and looked down at her lone cheeseburger, pop, and fries, “So why are you so hungry? You were only lost for what, half a day?”


“Hey!” I said, “I didn’t have lunch! Plus I’m a growing boy!”


Erin looked up at me, “Well, you’re sure growing OUT!” I looked down at my plate, and noticed that a cheeseburger and a packet of French fries were missing. I looked up at her, but she looked like she was stifling a grin, “Wasn’t me!” she blurted out, trying not to laugh, I could tell.


I turned around to ask someone, I don’t know who, if they had taken it, and I saw a French fry escaping into Machop’s mouth, even as he froze in place. “Well,” Erin said, “He DOES have to eat.”


I shook my head, “So, where am I gonna stay tonight? Is there a hotel or something?”


“Nah, we’ve got a spare apartment for you.” Erin said, and I turned around.


“As in TV, kitchen, laundry room…” I asked, not sure what if I would be getting some flea-ridden apartment.


“The works.” Erin replied, grinning.


“Wow.” I said, stunned, and leaned back in my chair. But because I was turned in my chair, I fell backwards between the table and the back of my chair. The last thing I saw was Machop laughing before I blacked out. “Stupid idiot,” I remember thinking.




When I opened my eyes next, I was lying on a soft bed, though I wasn’t under the covers, and had plenty of pillows under me. I was home. Then I saw the canopy over me, and then the girl that came into my vision.


“AAAAAAUUUUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!” I screamed as I sat up, and our heads connected, so I went back down to the pillows. “Ow! You have a hard head!”


“Yours is harder!” the girl informed me. What was her name? “You were out for a while there!”


I rubbed my forehead, “What, from hitting your head, or from hitting the ground in the…burger place. Where is that anyway? At least I got out of that hard labor.”


“Wanna bet?” The girl asked, grinning, “you’ve got a week to pay off the burger place. It’s called Rocket-Bane’s Burger Joint. Not much of a name, though.” Erin. Her name was Erin. I’m an idiot!


“Great.” I groaned, and closed my eyes, then my eyes shot open, “Wait! This is my apartment?”


Erin laughed, “No, it is NOT. This is my bedroom.”


Immediately I got off the bed. “Uh…I have this thing about being in girl’s rooms. I don’t go in them. The frilly stuff kinds of scares me. Can I see my place?”


Erin grinned, trying, I think, not to laugh at me. “All right, let’s go. You should probably pay off the burger joint soon too.”


I groaned, “I better do that now. Want to help?”


Erin grinned. “I already paid mine off.” I groaned again. “But I could always get some extra food there afterwards.”




Okay, I don’t see why she said a LITTLE extra food! She had as much as I had! True, she did feed her Pokemon too, but still! Anyways, she showed me my place, and went home. I dropped right into bed. Okay, so Machop kicked me out and I had to sleep on the couch.


The next day, I went to the Pokemon Exercise Center, and then looked around. My Machop knew where to go, and strode across the entry lounge to a door, opened, it, took a left, then the first right, then into a gym. There was only one person in the gym, but there were many Mankeys, Primeapes, Mahops, Machokes, Machamps, Hitmonlees, Tyrogues, Hitmontops, and Hitmonchans.


The Machop waited patiently by my side as I looked around, and, after taking it all in, I strode towards the Trainer that was obviously in charge like I had done this my entire life. He turned and saw me walking towards him and said, "Ah, I see that you have brought the little master back. He is actually one of the most powerful Machops that I have ever seen though he is the smallest. Now, if he will just take his place..."


I suddenly had an idea, and said, "No." He had already half turned away from me, and I saw him stiffen. His muscles bulged from the cut-off T-shirt and I could see that he was just a little peeved. Obviously, he was used to getting his own way most of the time.


He walked closer to me and asked, "What do you mean, 'no?' Do you wish to battle me? If so, then bring it on. He is hopelessly outclassed by the various Machamps that you can see training here." He was standing at his full height and glared down at me down his nose.


I smiled easily, knowing that he could easily beat me to a pulp. "What I mean is, Choppy here won't join in the training until you agree to train me as well." I fixed him with a cool gaze. I’m not sure if I wanted to get in shape, wanted to be a pain in the neck, or was simply stupid now, because I sure wouldn’t say that now…I know better. I vote on the latter, though.


Well, I didn't know that a grown man could whine and complain that much. He kept going on about the differences in Pokémon and human anatomy, how this had never been done before, how it was different for him since he had started when he was younger than me, and finally back to the good old, "it's not fair," and "I don't want to." I simply responded that if he didn't train me, I would spread the word that his brother was in jail, I knew this from gossip that I had heard from people around Rocket-Bane. "My brother is a warden!" he shouted at me. I told him that I wouldn't tell that part.


That got him, since he had had a sterling reputation and didn't want that botched. "All right," he growled, "But I don't have to like it. Your Machop will have to help you catch up with the class. Get over there, in the corner, and there's a book over there and you'll have to learn from it. I'll be over in a bit, just let me get the Pokemon going again."


Walking over to the corner, I found a pedestal much like what the Code of Rocket-bane Book had been on, and began reading. It was fascinating, the history of martial arts, but I made a mental note to come back sometime just to read it, then I quickly flipped to the pages that the trainer must have been referring to...the pages telling a person how to use martial arts.


The Trainer came over to me after an hour and growled, "All right, Sanders, My name is Lieutenant Colonel Thompson, but most people call me Muscles. You can call me Colonel Thompson. Now, I trust that you read that book carefully?" I nodded, and he grinned maliciously. I began regretting my choice, "All right then, let's get going!" Whenever he trained me, he pushed me to my limit, and I think sometimes just bit over it.



"It's awful!" I complained to Erin that night, since we had agreed to meet at a burger place, "He pushed me harder than he has any right to! You'd think I was in boot camp or something!"


Erin giggled, "Well, you are, in a way. He was in the army, besting Lieutenant Surge many times over during World War Twelve, and he had to go through a grueling boot camp, so he's probably taking you through a rough version of it. Though from what you said you rubbed him the wrong way, and he will probably hold a grudge against you for a while, which means he will push you HARD!"


Groaning, I remembered some of the humiliating comments he had shouted at me, and the crowd that had gathered at the door, laughing at me, the dumb trainer that wanted to be strong as a Pokémon. "No?" I muttered, holding my aching sides where Thompson had punched me in a practice fight, "Ya think? I better get home and rest...so I can get some practice with Machop in later before I go to practice tomorrow."


Erin smiled softly, and said, "All right then, but I assume that you won't want that hamburger because of its high fat content then?"


She reached out as if to grab the burger, but I slapped her hand away, "hands off!" I moaned, feeling my aching arm muscles start crying out again, even more tired out than I could have possibly thought them, "I've worked off too much unwanted flab already today, and I need to earn some back."


Erin laughed, “The best place for that is Tubbo World…the lard factory down the road a ways.”


I made a face at her, “You’re disgusting. By the way, do you have any tips on how I could sleep in my bed?”


Erin gave me a strange look, “What? Uh…lay down on it and go to sleep.”


“No, no…Choppy kicked me off last night,” I explained to her, “How can I get him onto the couch instead of me:?”


Erin grinned, “You’ll have to fight him.”


I froze in the middle of a bite, “rite bim?” I asked, trying to say fight him, but not really very successful since my mouth was full of food.


“Yes, fight him. Or just give him a straight command and drag him out of the bed.”


“Terrific.” I muttered to myself.


 and waved as I left, inhaling the hamburger as I jogged back home, trying to ignore the pain shooting through my legs. As soon as I got back to the small apartment carved out of the cave's outer limits that had been assigned to me, I went straight to the bed and fell asleep.


I was wakened early the next morning by Machop shaking me-well, that wasn’t true…I hadn't slept at all, in fact, I was so sore. Machop pointed to the table, where it had fixed breakfast already. Sliding out of bed, I thought how wonderful it was to have a humanoid Pokemon so that it could fix dinner easily with human appliances.


I started staggering towards the table, but Machop suddenly blocked my way. Glaring down at him, I moved to my left, but he blocked me. Annoyed, since I wanted my breakfast, I moved to my right, but he blocked me yet again! Looking at him, I saw that he had a smirk on his face, and knew that the only way I was getting past him was if I fought him. Groaning, I took a swipe at him, but he merely stepped back and gave me a good one in the stomach. That got me wide-awake, but also really mad. Machop barely knew what was going on when suddenly a hail of shouts and punches drove him backwards, and finally into the kitchen, where he started fighting back. I didn't care but just kept fighting and fighting, until I had reached the kitchen table, then we both stopped, and I could finally eat. I couldn't believe how sore I still was.


After a week of training, even old Lieutenant Colonel "Muscles" Thompson agreed, grudgingly that I was doing better than he had been at my age. "I don't understand it,” he complained to me one day, “How can you know a move that only a Pokémon knows? Well, except for me, of course, I know it too."


He must have been referring to my learning Mega Kick. Well, I just paid attention when he trained the Pokémon class. That, and my Machop showed me how to do it. Those practice battles with the Machop were really great! I was actually slowly getting better. But I knew that I would always be weaker than him. Oh, and another thing, the nickname "Choppy" stuck, even though I didn't mean it to be a nickname that first day in class.



“So, General Surge, then he started boasting about how he was being trained with the Pokemon, and how he was going to be so great beating up Team Rocket.” Erin finished a month later in her report to the council.


“A little, cocky bugger,” Surge muttered, “No matter, Thompson will put him in his place.”


“Oh do come on, Surge, please. For the last month we’ve all listened to you harangue on how dangerous this kid is, and yet Erin doesn’t find anything wrong with him!” Erika countered, stroking her Bulbasaur absent-mindedly.


Blaine cut in before an argument could blossom, “Well, then, since we are obviously divided, why don’t we put Surge’s original suggestion before him. We put him in a possible death situation.”


Sabrina stretched her lanky body and smiled at Blaine, “Blaine, do come, please! We all know the Rocket-Bane code by law, and you know that we cannot do this unless he has proven himself guilty.” She looked over at Blaine, then down at the Abra on her lap. “We are all that remains of Kanto’s once glorious gym hierarchy. And each of us sit here with a baby of our chosen type, so how can we simply snuff out this boy’s life? Erika wants no test, and Surge wants a possible death. So I propose this. We find the weakest litter-mate of Sander’s Machop, then send those two into battle against each other.”


Surge snorted, “I don’t see what good two Machops duking it out would do.”


Erika smiled playfully, “Surge, DO come on! She means that the weakest Machop and Tyco battle it out.”


“Since when are you on a first name basis with the Sanders kid?” Surge demanded, beginning an argument on Tyco Sanders once again.


Erin was sitting in the corner, her eyes filling with tears. Tyco wasn’t that kind of kid, and now he was going to be in Intensive Care for a while. And it was all her fault. She had brought him here. She had insisted on springing the trap that had brought him there.




A month later, my muscles were finally beginning to show, and I grinned as old “Muscles” Thompson came over to me, smirking. I thought that I was pretty much able to easily handle whatever Muscles threw at me. “Sanders!” he yelled, “I’ve got an assignment for you!”


I sighed, “The name is Tyco, okay? And you always have an assignment for me when you storm over here yelling my last name at me.”


Muscles grinned, and I began to feel uneasy. “Today, you battle a Machop. See how good you really are, since you obviously think you’re a Pokemon, learning Mega Kick. Don’t worry, it only knows Karate Chop and Low Kick.”


Groaning, I pulled myself to the training mat, and noticed that there was a hush around the room. Then a young Machop that had just come in began snickering, and I shot it a withering glance. Well, I’ve never seen a Pokemon shut up faster in my life. Settling into a fighting stance, I looked at my opponent. It looked, well, like a Machop.


Then the battle had begun, and I was dodging Karate Chops and Low Kicks left and right. I managed to get  a few Mega Kicks in, before Muscles called out, “Machop, Agility!”


I had just finished a Mega Kick, and ducked a Karate Chop, then, before I could react, a Low Kick sent me sprawling. I had a brief glimpse of the Machop coming for me, and I rolled to one side, and the Karate Chop missed me by inches. Then I rolled back over my head as a Low Kick that was intended for my stomach hit the ground where I had been an instant before. I was spinning around for a Mega Kick when a Low Kick hit me in my back, and I rolled forward, using the momentum to my advantage. I looked up and saw the Machop waiting for me to get up, and, as I reached the end of one of my rolls, I threw myself against its stomach, with both feet, trying to execute a double Mega Kick.


The Machop staggered back, its face twisted in pain. I jumped to my feet, fists at the ready. Growling to itself under its breath it came at me, and tried another Low Kick, but I grabbed its leg and flipped it over onto its back. The arena shuddered under the impact, and the Machop got up breathing hard. Come to think of it, I was breathing hard as well, and I was hurting too.


It was time to pull out my ace card. I spun around, just as if I were going to spin-kick the Machop, but instead I came down hard on my left leg, twisting my ankle, and Gave it a quick Mega Punch to the head. The Machop staggered back, and I limped forward and Gave it another Mega Punch, then performed a poorly executed Mega Kick with my left foot. It staggered back and I pushed myself forward and grabbed it bythe shoulders, but it banged its head against mine.


Stars exploded in front of my eyes, and I staggered back. The Machop smiled and came in with a Low Kick, but I grabbed the leg once more and flipped it over onto its back, giving it a Mega Punch on its way down. The shudder was even more pronounced this time, and my left leg gave way, sending me sprawling towards the floor, but Choppy caught me just before I hit the ground.


There was utter silence from the room, except for the occasional Pokemon muttering in amazement. Then, from the doorway, came a clap, then several, then I heard over the intercom, "Nice work, Mr. Sanders," I recognized it as the voice of Professor Shale.




Shale took his hand off the intercom switch, but did not turn around to face the council. Instead, he kept looking at the large screen that towered over the council. “Do I need to remind you, Surge, that you thought that Sanders would fail? When the Rockets breathe down our necks, you’ll rue all this testing.”


“Knock it off, Shale,” Surge growled, “We need to be sure that this boy is one hundred percent for us.”


Erika shook her head, “Surge, for pity’s sake, we have had enough proof. But we need a unanimous vote so that he can join the Rocket-Bane army. You and Blaine are the only two holding out on us.”


Blaine frowned, “We still need assurances, Erika. Let him complete these gyms. And I will consider changing my mind.”


Shale sighed and shook his head, “All right, Blaine, all right. But just remember what I said about the Rockets breathing down our backs.”




I looked over at the door and was amazed to see no less than two dozen people, some in the doorway, some in the gym itself, clapping at me and staring at me in awe. And there in the very front of them stood Erin, no, not standing, running towards me. I thought that she was crying. “This is all my fault, I’m sorry, Tyco, I didn’t do enough to stop them.” She said, crying into my hair, and I blushed.


“Erin, what are you talking about? That was the biggest adrenaline rush of my life! Of course, I’ll have to spend a few days in the hospital, but who cares?” I got up unsteadily to my feet, then collapsed into Erin’s arms.


She only smiled and said softly, “Someday, I’ll be able to tell you, but right now, I need to ask you to forgive me, for doing this to you.”


My vision began to blur, “Huh?” I asked to the three Erins, “You didn’t beat me up, but I forgive you for whatever you did to me.”


Erin heaved a sigh of relief, “Thank you, Tyco, this means more to me than you can possibly know.”


“Right,” I muttered, draping my arms around her neck, hoping that the loose grip I could keep on my hands would keep me from falling after I fainted from exhaustion…and the concussion.