Kandorus has been discovered and Gray is going off on his first adventure! Things will finally start to pick up in chapter three of this series, but only after you learn a little bit more about Gray. I hope you enjoy chapter three, and you can expect to see chapter four sometime soon. A New Adventure The brilliant green leaves of the tall trees whispered as a gentle breeze passed over the forest. Gray paused for a moment on the ship’s ramp to take in the scenery around him. The colors in this newfound land seemed brighter, more bold and natural. This place, undisturbed by human influence until yesterday, was perfectly calm. Gray thought of how he would describe such a beautiful place to another person but couldn't think of the words. The fresh air and tranquility of the forest before him was not something to be described, only experienced. Gray looked at the sand at the end of the ramp, one footstep away. This was the first time he would place his feet on solid ground in two weeks and it was not the same ground he had expected walk on. This was a new ground, a ground walked on by few. It was a land of adventure and mystery. It was a land that Gray had dreamed of finding one day. Gray remembered the days when he was younger, the days at home. He often spent his time looking at the ocean, wondering what laid beyond the horizon. The maps had it all. Hoenn was here. Kanto and Johto were there. There didn't seem to be a place left in the world that hadn't already been discovered. Most children Gray’s age dreamed of exploring the continent they lived on, catching Pokemon and becoming one the very best. Gray wasn't like the other kids. He dreamed that he lived in the past, in another time where all of the continents had not yet been found. He wanted to find places, to be one of the first people there. But he couldn’t. He was born too late. All the places were found and the only adventures Gray could have were in areas people already explored. Gray realized that his childhood dreams would never come true and so he decided that he wanted to be the best Pokemon trainer there was, just like all the other kids wanted. He studied Pokemon in old books his mother had around the house. He learned all about the different types of Pokemon and where to find them. When he was just about to turn ten, he knew it all and was ready to become a trainer. Gray knew that he could get his first Pokemon by talking to a Pokemon professor or buying Pokeballs from a Pokemart, but his town had neither a professor nor a Pokemart and the journey to the nearest town that did was too dangerous to make alone. Gray expected nothing from his tenth birthday, like all the other kids in the town. No kid ever left the town to become a trainer, it was all just childish dreams. Late in the evening, Gray took a walk with his mother and their family Absol on the beach. When the water began to turn a brilliant orange and yellow from the reflection of the sun, the trio sat on the beach where they were to watch the sunset. That is when Gray’s mother told him to take Absol as his first Pokemon. Before that night, Gray never thought of Absol as a Pokemon that he would use to battle. Absol was a companion, not a Pokemon. The two had been together ever since Gray’s father rescued Absol when he was just a small, abandoned pup that was left to freeze in the snow. That was the same day Gray was born. They were together since birth and had an inseparable bond, but Gray never thought of Absol as his Pokemon. If anything, Gray thought that Absol was his father’s Pokemon that was left behind to protect the family during his absence. Even on his birthday, when his mom told him to take Absol, it didn't feel real to Gray. That moment of realization that Absol was his companion that would accompany him wherever he went did not come until the day after when his mom asked him what name he would give Absol. Gray struggled finding a name for his Pokemon for longer than he had expected. For his whole life he had referred to the Pokemon by its common name and that felt right. Absol. That had been its name and Gray thought it always would be, but deep down he could not help but feel as though there was something better. He spent weeks trying to think of a good nickname for his Pokemon. He had to find something, all the best trainers nicknamed their Pokemon. Still, nothing came. Gray smiled as he remembered the moment he found the perfect name for his companion. He remembered the… “Gray!” a voice shouted out. Gray flinched as he was suddenly pulled back into the present from his memories. He looked down the beach where the person who called out his name stood. It was Dr. Vis. The scientist waved his arms frantically and again called out to Gray, “Come on! The Captain said you would be coming with us! We are about to leave!” Gray took a moment to remember what he was doing on the ramp that lead to the beach; a part of him was still lost in the past. He shook his head as it all came back to him. The ship. Nash. Kandorus. Captain Jack. Helping the scientists. Gray’s excitement returned to him once more as he realized that today was finally the day that he would fulfill his childhood dream. He was now an explorer, everyone in Kandorus was, whether they liked it or not. He smiled and placed his hand on his Absol beside him. Together they hopped off of the ramp and took the first steps in their new adventure. The full moon hung quietly in its place amongst the stars for the first time since the SS Adventure made landfall in Kandorus. Gray laid peaceful outside of his tent next to the campfire with his Absol nestled at his side. The twinkling light of the stars was breathtaking, but Gray did not think it compared to the beauty of the landscape around him. He was on the Crystal Isle. The small island off the coast of Kandorus was an astonishing sight. The unnatural, purple rock that formed the foundation of the island was a nice complement to the tall, blue trees that seemed to be made of pure crystal. Now, beneath the light of the moon, the pale white crystal leaves that hung on the tallest tree in the central part of the island refracted the light in such a way that they glistened with all colors of the rainbow. Though Gray had been on the island for almost a whole month now, he still thought that the beauty of the night colors still seemed to be a sight that one would only hope to find in their dreams. Gray was happy where he was. The nights were beautiful and the days were full of adventure. Dr. Vis and Dr. Aliture had kept Gray busy since they first arrived on the island. Often times they sent Gray off to search for Pokemon on the island. They asked him to record everything he saw, and so he did. Gray enjoyed finding species of Pokemon that he had only read about in books and had never seen with his own eyes. He would sit for hours with his Absol by his side recording every detail about the Pokemon around him. He found his data fascinating, although he wasn't sure exactly what the scientists would do with his journal full of information. Some days, Dr. Vis would ask Gray to stay by him to keep a watch over his and Dr. Aliture’s research. The Pokemon on the Crystal Isle, they found, had an unnatural aggression to them. Dr. Vis and Dr. Aliture were mostly able to defend themselves with their Pokemon while doing experiments around the camp, but any ventures beyond the tents required the special protection that only Gray and his Absol could provide. Gray found his outings with the scientists very interesting. Any time Gray had outside of battle, he spent observing the scientists and their methods of asking questions and conducting their research. They, Gray found, were two very different men with very different ways of conducting science. Dr. Peter Aliture was a proud man. He had supposedly made breakthrough discoveries in science in the past and rambled on and on about them to Gray whenever the situation allowed for it. Gray was not very interested in what Dr. Aliture had accomplished in the past, for he was more concerned about what Dr. Aliture was doing now, for the people in Kandorus. Gray noticed that Dr. Aliture excelled at discovering new things and thinking of all the different ways that those new things could be used. The eccentric scientist seemed to be most interested in the crystals that could be found across the island. He told Gray some stuff about his theorized science of the crystal and how that science stuff related to the science of electricity and how the relationship between science A and science B would make science C possible. Gray found the subject matter very interesting, but he understood little of it and could hardly tolerate listening the Dr. Aliture rambling on about his great finds for more than a few minutes at a time. Dr. Alexander Vis was a much more modest man, at least in Gray’s opinion. The scientist was much more reserved and seldom partook in Gray’s talks with Dr. Aliture unless he found that he had something significant to contribute to a discussion. Gray didn't learn much about Dr. Vis’ background by talking to him. From what Gray could gather, Dr. Vis had only recently taken an interest in science and the trip to the Crystal Isle was his first real opportunity to explore his newfound passion. Still, Gray could not help but feel more drawn to Dr. Vis. Dr. Vis was more pleasant to talk to and explained to Gray why things were the way they were instead of just speaking in the same science jargon that Dr. Aliture did. Early on in their exploration, Dr. Vis told Gray that he thought that the Crystal Isle was more of a mystery than Dr. Aliture made it out to be, and that theory kept Gray’s imagination alive throughout the expedition. Thinking about the past month he spent on the island suddenly made Gray upset. Dr. Vis told him earlier in the day that their research was almost done and they would be heading back to the mainland soon. Gray would have to go back with them, there wasn't any other option. It was impossible to swim to the shore and they had only brought one small rowboat with them on their journey. Despite his disappointment, Gray took solace in the prospect of exploring even more parts of Kandorus. The Crystal Isle was beautiful, but what if there was somewhere better that Gray had not yet discovered? Gray imagined other places like the Crystal Isle, full of life and natural beauty, and he drifted off into the land of dreams. The sunshine shone brightly through the crystal leaves overhead onto Gray’s face. The sudden presence of light that accompanied the sun’s rise above the distant trees across the bay caused Gray to awaken. He immediately threw his hands up to cover his face, making small cracks between his fingers to limit the amount of light that his eyes would be subjected to as he adjusted to the morning radiance. Once he was comfortable with the light, Gray inspected his surroundings. The land around him was alive with the light of the morning sun. The colors of the rainbow were sprinkled on the tents and ground around the camp as if somebody had thrown tiny pieces of stained glass all around. Gray turned to his companion and noticed that his Absol was still asleep despite the intense light. Gray smiled as he watched his closest friend sleep beside him. The quiet, familiar sound of Absol’s snores relaxed Gray. Lethargically, as he was still waking up, Gray rolled over and crawled into his tent behind him. He found his backpack and dug through it to find his bottle of water. He opened it up and took a few large gulps before heading back outside. With his bottle of water still in hand, Gray stood up and stretched. The fresh air filled his lungs as he went through several positions to wake up every part of his tired body. As Gray raised his hands up above his head, the water bottle he held in his hand tilted and spilled its contents right onto the face of the snoring Pokemon beside Gray. Absol awoke with a start, shaking his face frantically to try to get the water out of his fur. Gray laughed as Absol shot him an angry glance and tackled him to the ground to lick his face. “Stop it!” Gray shouted as he twisted to try to get out from under Absol, but the Pokemon would not stop until he had his revenge. Absol licked Gray’s face until it was soaking wet before finally releasing him. “Now that wasn't fair,” said Gray, “At least what I did was an accident!” Gray rose from the ground and brushed the dirt off of the back of his pants. Absol sat beside him, wagging his tail happily. A gentle breeze swept over the encampment, causing the openings of the tents to flap open. Gray noticed that the scientist’s tents on the other side of the camp were empty. Gray was confused. Normally Dr. Vis or Dr. Aliture or both would be there in the morning to give Gray his daily assignment. It was uncharacteristic of both of them to run off without telling him about it. Maybe they just wanted to let Gray sleep in since he had been working hard all month? Still, Gray felt that he needed to find the scientists before he went exploring for the day. He turned to Absol and asked calmly, “Can you get a scent on Dr. Vis while I change into my clothes?” At his request, Absol walked to the other side of the camp and began sniffing while Gray went back into his tent to get changed. “Are you sure they went this way?” asked Gray as he wiped the sweat off his brow. It was beginning to get hot outside and Absol had been leading Gray all over the island for several hours. “Who am I kidding?” said Gray, “You’ve never tracked before! How can I expect you to be any good at it?” Absol glared at Gray, noticeably frustrated by how its trainer’s comment. “I’m sorry. You can keep going,” apologized Gray. Absol again stuck his nose to the ground and began to meander forward. Gray looked at the area around them. The giant crystal tree that stood proudly in the center of the island was very close and the smaller trees that typically stood around it seemed to be thinning out. Gray could not remember ever exploring this part of the island. Maybe Absol’s lack of tracking skills would let the duo have some new adventures on an unexplored part of the island. Gray was starting to drift off in thoughts of what could lie ahead in the new part of the island when Absol lifted his head from the ground and began to run forward. “Wait!” cried Gray as he started to chase after his Pokemon. “Where are you going?” Gray sprinted as fast as he could as he jumped over crystal tree roots and dodged low hanging branches, all in an attempt to keep Absol within his sight. The giant crystal tree in the center of the island grew larger and larger as Gray continued to move closer to it. Gray’s lungs screamed inside his chest as he gasped for air. It seemed like he had been running forever and he was starting to lose hope that he would catch up with Absol. Just as Gray was about to give up and rest under a tree, he saw that Absol had stopped. Gray slowed down his pace and focused on catching his breath as he approached his companion. “What was that all about?” he asked as he dramatically plopped himself onto Absol’s back to rest. Absol twisted, throwing Gray off of his back. “Hey!” exclaimed Gray. “What was that for?” Absol motioned his head to a spot ahead of them. Gray lazily stood up and looked where Absol had motioned. Ahead of them was a large gash in the giant tree. The opening was over a dozen meters long and ran from the ground all the way up to the center of the tree, revealing the white stone interior. The center of the tree, which Gray could now see from this new part of the island, was shattered. Large fragments of blue crystal with white stone hung suspended in the air around the trunk. Gray realized that there was nothing supporting the upper half of the tree. It was… it was floating! No wonder Absol had led him here, the scientists must have come to investigate this phenomenon. Gray’s excitement was renewed at the sights before him. He could feel a new energy rushing through his body and, without thinking about the fatigue he just experienced, he raced forward to enter the crystal tree with his Absol following closely behind him. At the mouth of the gash, Gray could not help but slow down his pace. There was so much for him to see, so much for him to discover! He looked at the white stone beneath his feet and the large crystal roots that dug deep into the ground around him. In the distance, in the middle of the tree’s trunk, Gray could see the two scientists he was looking for standing in a brilliant blue light. Green light? Where was it coming from? Gray continued to move forward, slowly advancing into the area where the sun’s light ended and the mysterious green radiance began. Gray stopped and so too did his Absol. Anyone else in Gray’s shoes would have done the same. It was a lot to take in. Far above where Dr. Vis and Dr. Aliture stood, at the heart of the tree, floating, suspended in mid air by some strange force was the source of the blue light: a giant, translucent crystal that shared the same color with the light it produced. Gray could not help but stand and appreciate what was before him. The crystal was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, more precious than any diamond he had ever laid his eyes upon. Gray could not help but feel as though he was looking at the essence of beauty itself. Though, in the presence of what must have been nature’s most precious creation, Gray did not feel the way he thought one should feel. Despite his appreciation and awe of the crystal, it filled Gray with fear.