And now that we are back from these commercial messages, it was finally time to challenge Brock.
I trained my team a bit more. I wanted to make sure Al could handle everything, but I also wanted to be sure that, if she couldn't, it wouldn't be a TPK (that's a total party kill, for all you non-rpg players out there).
I ended up being satisfied with everyone at level 12. I figured that JoHanna's speed could sweep up Geodude if problems arose and for Onix...if Al couldn't get that far, I'd have to hope my other four pokémon could cope. Of course, seeing that three of them would be weak and outsped, it would fall down to Derek, the laziest Rattata in the world.
I gave Al a pep talk before we went back in.
"You can do this. You are strong and powerful and can smash their rocky little faces in."
"Damn straight I can. You have no worries. I will beat them to a pulp. Mankeys have always supported those who pick Charmander that way."
"Yep. Since first gen."
"Wow. Okay then. Good to know."
"Yep. One good Low Kick and both those freaks will fall."
"Won't you need two if there are two," Ashley cut in. Al glared back.
We walked inside and waved to our champ-trainer. We walked down the center, straight to Brock.
"Finally, a competent trainer," he said. "Someone who might stand a chance."
"What you mean, might?" Great, Al was already getting pissed off. She didn't even know rage yet!
"I am a gym leader," he explained. "I am a different caliber of trainer. I may be the lowest, but that is because we test you to make sure that you grow, get stronger. Trust me...if you face me a few years from now when you've already earned the respect of the league, you'll then see what I can really do."
"Less talking, more battling," Al said, wanting to get going.
"Fine then," Brock said. "Have a go at my Geodude."
"FINALLY!" Al jumped straight at it and, with one swift Low Kick, sent the small, rocky face-with-arms smashing into the wall. Brock smiled.
"I see your Mankey is strong."
"Her name is Al. And yes, she is."
"But how does she fare against an Onix?"
Brock's Onix was the largest pokémon I had ever seen. It barely fit inside his gym - being a gigantic rock snake, with each body segment being made of a separate boulder, such a feat is believable.
Al, of course, only thought one thing. Being Al, she felt the need to shout it.
"The bigger they are, the harder they fall!"
Ben chuckled watching. "How cliché..." Al again took one Low Kick at her opponent, after dodging some chucked rocks. Her one kick made it wail in pain and it fell to the ground, defeated. "Still," he continued, "you cannot deny that it worked."
"Indeed," I said. I then looked at Ben. "When did you get so thoughtful?"
"When staring at a giant thing that could crush me with one breath."
I glared at him. "No one is getting crushed."
"Not while I'm around, at least," Al said, walking back toward us.
"Except my pokémon," Brock said. "You did well. Take this." He handed me the Boulder Badge. "You might just have what it takes to get to the league."
"If I want to. But at least now I can leave the city."
"Yep. I'd recommend visiting Misty in Cerulean City. She will be a nice test for your team, but may also be a fun trip too."
"Can we?" Ben was back to being juvenile again. "Please please please...?"
"Fine," I said, not really minding his enthusiasm.
"But first we have to get to and through Mt. Moon."