Blake was hunched over, panting heavily, his arm against another tree, keeping him stable as he struggled to breathe. It's not that he was particularly out of shape. To the contrary, he believed that he built a bit of muscle working in the lab. However, he didn't do much running in the lab. At all.
"I think we... Lost it..."
"Well, I sure hope so," Kendra said. She wiped her forehead on her sleeve. "Ew. I'm all sweaty. I cannot wait to get to a Pokemon center. Olive needs healing, and I need a shower." She pulled a water bottle from her pack and took a huge swig. "Man... Let's take a breather and then get back on the road. We shouldn't be far from Pewter City now."
A breather sounded great. Granted, Blake wouldn't be doing much breathing with his lips pressed to his water-bottle. He poured the life-giving liquid down his throat, coming up for air when necessary, repeating as necessary until he ran out of water. His canteen ran out. He'd been sipping on it on and off, and guzzled the remainder.
"All out," he said. "Ah, well. We can restock in the Pokecenter."
Their impromptu break over, the two continued down the road. Right before the fatigue started to set in again, they stumbled across Pewter. They made for the Pokecenter as quickly as they could.
Trainers milled about, talking about this, that and the other. Nurse Joy stood behind the counter, and various assistants moved around, doing what they could.
"I'm going to refill the canteen and put some clothes through the wash," Blake said.
"I'm willing to eat pretty much anywhere," Blake replied. "So, yes. It looks fine. It looks heavenly, even. But I'm biased. Let's go anyway."
So Blake lead the march towards the diner. The walk was short. Hunger helped with that.
The diner itself was fairly nice. There were a couple of cooks dressed in aprons and hats behind a bar-type counter. Blake motioned for Kendra to take a seat as he looked over the place.
There were a few Geodudes here and there, moving things without being too much of an obstacle given the smaller size of the diner. One of the cooks turned to his potential customers.
"What can I do you for, Sir and Missus?"
Kendra glanced over one of the menus that lay on the polished wood counter. It was typical fare. That was good, as it made choosing easy. "Double bacon cheeseburger with the works, side of cheese fries, and a chocolate milkshake, please," Kendra said, grinning. She could smell burgers cooking, and the scent almost drove her crazy.
"Very good," the cook said. He turned to Blake. "And you, sir?"
"Fries and a burger would be fine. Chocolate milkshake would be good, too." The cook nodded and turned to his work, flipping patties on the grill, and stirring potato bits into boiling grease.
The sight of all of the fat and oil made Blake tear up. It was so beautiful.
"I've not been this happy to see a burger in a long time," he let slip.
More or less her tab. Blake threw on a bit more than five, and added a tip. He was planning on picking up the whole tab, but wasn't about to object to someone helping foot the bill.
"So, wanna hit up the gym?"
"Sure thing," Kendra said. She once again took the lead, and they headed northwest upon leaving the diner. The gym loomed before them, a brick building with a nondescript facade. Upon entering, however, Blake and Kendra saw that the interior of the gym was not so commonplace. It was like being inside a cave. The whole building seemed to be roughly hewn from rock. Visibility was low, and what light there was came from oil lamps of the type that hung in mines. Rocky columns littered the area, and farther into the gym, Kendra thought she could make out a set of steps leading up to a dais.
"Talk about atmosphere," Kendra said to Blake in a low voice; this seemed the sort of place where you talked softly without quite knowing why. "Bet the gym leader's at the back. Shall we?"
"I'd bet you're right," Blake responded in the same low voice. "Let's take this place."
"Oh no you don't!" came an obnoxious, slightly whiny though clearly male voice. A form emerged from deeper in the cave-like gym. His hair was about as obnoxious as his voice, and his shirt was as loud as his tone. Bright neon flowers did not work for him. Neither did his blonde mohawk-afro combo. Worst of all, he wore sunglasses.
"If you want to get to our leader, you have to get through me," he declared in a very nasal matter-of-fact tone. He sized the two of them up. "Two on one, eh? Shouldn't be too hard. I'm the third seat in the gym. My name is Eugene."
"We're not..." Blake gave up. The guy was spinning a Pokeball on his finger. There'd be a battle.
Blake, in turn, turned to Sai. Though the question was aimed at him, the only one that could really answer it would be his Psyduck.
Sai gave a pleasant, "Duck" in response.
Blake arched an eyebrow. "Don't overexert yourself. Are you sure you're fine?"
Sai nodded sternly. Blake shrugged. He didn't want to hurt Sai's pride through underestimation.
Blake turned back to face Kendra. "We should be ready to go." He smiled at Eugene. "Lead the way, good buddy."
Whining under his breath, Eugene lead Kendra and Blake through the dim maze of columns. After one instance of tripping over Olive and nearly landing on her face, Kendra scooped up the Oddish and carried her. Eugene led them mostly straight towards the gym leader's dais, but a couple of times he directed them around nearly invisible holes in the ground.
"This place is dangerous," Kendra muttered as they skirted one such pit. Finally they reached the stairs that led to the gym leader.
"I hope you can find your way up the stairs," Eugene sneered. "I'm going to take Rocky to the Pokemon center. He slouched off, leaving Kendra and Blake to make the ascent on their own.
"All right, ready to take this guy?" Kendra asked Blake, grinning. She held Olive at arm's length and said, "I know you're ready!" The Oddish burbled cheerfully.
"I'd say we're ready," Blake said, glancing to his Psyduck. Sai was making its way up the stairs already, apparently eager to get the party started. "I'd say Sai's extra ready."
"Mind the steps, though. We wouldn't want you falling into any more pits or things like that."
"Don't worry," came the reply from the top of the stairs. "So long as it's not over-excited, it shouldn't have anything to worry about. No traps or anything. Just stairs."
The voice was deep and friendly. There was a certain element of warmth from it.
"Sounds like a nice enough guy," Blake said absently. "Let's go, shall we?"
That attack was enough. The Geodude was dropped, out for the count, courtesy of Sai's Water Gun.
Olive also looked KO'd when the Onix's Bide attack hit her. The Oddish was toppled, and for a moment, it's little dot eyes turned into spirals. Kendra let out a howl of defeat. The little Oddish quivered and slowly rolled back onto her feet.
"Uh, I always believed in you, Olive!" Kendra called to her Pokemon. "That's it! Hang in there and show that punk Onix what you're made of! Use Absorb!"
"Tackle it!" Brock shouted. The Onix lunged.
"Ack! Dodge it, dodge it, dodge it!" Kendra chanted. As they watched, the Onix threw itself at Olive, who only barely made it out of the way. While the Onix was regaining its balance, Olive let loose with an Absorb attack. Energy flowed from the Onix, and it collapsed, defeated.
"Whoo!" Kendra threw her arms in the air, grabbed Blake in a hug, and then let him go before jumping up and down with a grin plastered across her face. "We won!"
Blake pulled on his shirt, adjusting it, not quite knowing what to do with himself after having defeated his first gym leader.
"Return, you two..." A very defeated voice said, admitting defeat. The two Pokemon returned to their respective Pokeballs. "That was some impressive teamwork, but even more impressive strategy. I'm surprised."
He fished around in one of the many pockets on his pants, retrieving two identical badges. "Boulder badges. One for each of you. I owe you this much after getting rocked like that."
Kendra slipped her badge into her own pocket. "That was a super awesome battle, Brock. What's the next gym we should head to now?"
"Most trainers usually head to Cerulean City," said Brock. "There's a gym there that specializes in Water-type Pokemon. It's just past Mt. Moon, to the east."
"Thanks," Kendra said. She turned to Blake. "What do you think? We can grab some sleep and then head that way tomorrow unless you have another idea."