Seeking Common Ground
“Gary, you should save Primeape for if you encounter her Sneasel, or that Tyranitar,” June was telling me. “Fighting moves are super effective against Ice types and Dark types, and Sneasel is both. So that’s twice as much damage than if it were just one of the two types. And Fighting moves are great against Rock types, too. Tyranitar is Rock and Da-”
“I’m not an idiot, June!” I frowned at her. “I know what I’m doing!”
June glared back. “Oh, really? It sure didn’t look like you knew what you were doing out there when you lost to her Tyranitar with your Charmeleon in the exact same way that you did the first time you fought her!”
I ignored her comment and looked away.
“Gary, won’t you please think about this?” She grabbed my shoulder and stopped walking. “Gary!” I tried to brush her hand off of me, but she grabbed me with both hands and forced me to stop, turning me around. She had a mournful look on her face. “I see it, too,” June spoke sadly.
My face softened just a bit. “Huh?”
“I see that look on Charmeleon’s face,” she explained. “Every time he battles that brute, he puts his entire heart into those matches, and comes up short. The pain, the shock, the disappointment. The frustration. I see it all. You see it, too, Gary. I know you want Charmeleon to win, but you can’t let pride blind you. Charmeleon doesn’t deserve to go through this! You love Charmeleon! Show it! Please!”
Our eyes never left each other’s as we stood outside, a gentle breeze blowing just strands of June’s hair into her face. It wasn’t as cold out today as it had been before.
“June, trust in me,” I told her. “The Obfuscous Badge is mine this time.” I gently removed her hands from my shoulders and continued towards the Gym.
“Gary, did you at least get Butterfree? You really shouldn’t risk anything!” June called after me. “You should be prepared!”
My body came to a stop at the Gym door.
June walked up next to me as I knocked.
A minute later, the door opened and Cleopatra stood there, towering over me, very close.
I backed up a couple of steps, embarrassed, and looked up in her eyes.
She wore black shoes and black stretch pants with a lightweight, white jacket zipped up. Without a word, she turned around and walked into her Gym.
June and I followed quickly.
The scene was the same as always, for the most part.
The referee, wearing the familiar clothes she always had, was in the middle of the battlefield, throwing kicks at Bisharp, as Bisharp dodged and returned its own set of dangerous kicks and punches.
June gasped as she watched the referee just barely dodge the blade covered arms and legs the vicious Pokemon was throwing her way.
The two stopped fighting as Cleopatra walked past them and entered her side of the field.
Bisharp and the referee bowed, and then they took their places, Bisharp next to Cleopatra, the referee outside of the battlefield.
June and I walked forward and took our places, too. June sat in a chair outside of the field on the opposite side from the referee, and I stood on my side of the field.
“Today will be a three-on-three Pokemon battle between Dark City Gym Leader Cleopatra, and Gary from Pallet Town!” the referee announced. “The Trainer to defeat all of the opponent’s Pokemon is declared the winner! There will be no time limit! Let the battle start, now!”
“Drapion, GO!” Cleopatra threw the Ultra Ball.
With a roar, Drapion entered.
“Porygon-Z, it’s time!” I debuted my Pokemon.
With a loud, sharp, electronic whine, Porygon-Z made its presence known.
“Well, isn’t that different?” Cleopatra remarked, surprised.
I nodded with a smile. “Okay, let’s use…” I stopped as Porygon-Z floated right past Drapion and over to Cleopatra!
Cleopatra’s eyes widened as Porygon-Z circled her body from head to toe and back up, and then stopped in front of her face. Porygon-Z spun in place and started crackling with electricity.
The Gym Leader backed up, her mouth hung open, confusion on her face.
With a sharp cry, Porygon-Z suddenly let loose a thin spark of electricity and hit Cleopatra with it!
Cleopatra gasped and hit the floor, laughing!
Porygon-Z was tickling Cleopatra using electricity!
Cleopatra rolled around on the floor, holding her body, laughing hysterically as everyone else in the room stared in shock.
“BISHARP!” Bisharp shouted, swinging at Porygon-Z.
Porygon-Z ducked the swipe just in time, and then began circling Bisharp!
Bisharp let out an angry yell and swiped at Porygon-Z furiously, but Porygon-Z dodged every move with ease.
Cleopatra stood up and glared at Porygon-Z, and then turned her eyes to me. The infuriated Trainer’s hair was sticking up straight in the air. “WHAT IS THIS?” she raged, red in the face. “DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A DAMN GAME TO YOU?!?”
“N-n-n-n-n-n-n-no!!” I stammered in terror, backing up a couple of feet, my heart a completely nervous wreck, slamming into my chest. I was terrified of Cleopatra right now.
Even her funny new hairdo wasn’t enough to melt the ice coating her body and words.
“Porygon-Z, CUT IT OUT AND GET BACK HERE!” I demanded.
Porygon-Z tumbled through the air in place in front of Bisharp for a few seconds, and then finally glided back over to its position. It let out a loud yell that made everyone cover their ears and scream.
“STOP IIIIIIIIT!!” My ears were blaring!
Prof. Oak was right. This thing was really a headache. No wonder he wanted to get rid of it!
When the loud screeching was finally over, I opened my eyes, but closed then again from the sharp pain now stabbing my head. Slowly, I opened them again, trying to see through my teary eyes.
Cleopatra was shaking her head, trying to clear it after Porygon-Z’s cry.
Bisharp stood at attention, leering threateningly at my Pokemon.
The referee had her hands covering her face.
June had her head in her hands, in her lap.
Drapion was glaring at Porygon-Z, awaiting orders.
I wiped my eyes. “Porygon-Z, use Thunder!”
Cleopatra watched as Porygon-Z started to spark and shiver hard in place, hovering, and a huge beam of electricity fired out at Drapion.
Drapion roared with pain as it was hit. It stumbled back several steps and shook its head.
“Swords Dance!” Cleopatra told her Pokemon.
Drapion’s arms started to glow purple and it waved them in seemingly no special pattern in front of it. The move ended, Drapion’s Attack now raised even higher.
“Use Thunder once more!”
Drapion took another blast of Thunder, but it didn’t go down, shaking its head and then roaring furiously at Porygon-Z.
We’re hurting it, I was sure. That thing isn’t that tough, no matter how strong of a front it wants to put up.
“Swords Dance once again!”
Drapion swung its glowing arms around again, raising its Attack even further.
She’s trying to take us out in one shot, I realized, and pulled out my Pokedex to remind myself what other moves Porygon-Z knew. “Tri Attack!”
Three dots, one red, one blue, and one yellow, landed the points of an invisible triangle in front of Porygon-Z’s head, and between them, they were connected by a transparent, white triangle. With a loud shout, the triangle flew at Drapion.
Drapion was shoved backwards and lost its balance, dropping to the floor.
“Yeah!” I cheered excitedly.
“Get up!” Cleopatra commanded Drapion.
With a grunt, Drapion pushed itself up to its feet.
I bared my teeth in frustration.
“Swords Dance!” Cleopatra said again.
Drapion raised its Attack even further.
We can’t let Drapion touch us, I told myself. One hit and we’ll be finished! “Use Zap Cannon! Quick!”
Porygon-Z’s body shivered harder than ever as it tumbled in place through the air and crackled with electricity. A ball formed in front of it, sparking as if with dark electricity. The object then flew Drapion.
“Send it back! Use Knock Off!” Cleopatra was trying to rub her hair back down into place. Her hair refused to stay down from the shock Porygon-Z gave her earlier.
Drapion’s claw was covered in dark sparks and spirals as it raised it high and smacked away the Zap Cannon!
The move came back at Porygon-Z, who started twitching sporadically in place. With a loud cry, it was hit and dropped down hard. My Pokemon was convulsing, now Paralyzed.
Drapion lifted a foot again, but when it came down, Drapion instead bent over and started to spark, roaring in pain.
“Huh?” I let out in confusion.
“Drapion, get up!” Cleopatra spat out in shock. She had now grabbed her hair in her hands and was trying to hold it down, tugging on it. “Attack it!”
“Gary, it’s Paralyzed! Do something!” June informed me.
Porygon-Z let out a kind of electronic chime noise as it ascended into the air, swaying like a buoy in water.
Porygon-Z used Zap Cannon again and hit Drapion this time, toppling it once more.
“YES!” I shouted joyously.
Porygon-Z and I waited, staring at Drapion. Waiting for the call of its defeat.
“Drapion, shake it off, now! Get up and attack!”
Drapion twitched and began to push itself up.
“Zap Cannon! Keep it down this time, Porygon-Z! GO!”
Porygon-Z tumbled in place rapidly, finally firing another blast at Drapion.
“Iron Tail!” Cleopatra spoke sharply.
Drapion’s tail turned to pure iron as it stood up and swung at Porygon-Z’s attack. Its tail collided with the ball of electricity... and they stuck together!
June and I gasped, Porygon-Z releasing some kind of noise that I felt may have also been of surprise, but the referee and Cleopatra seemed to expect this.
Drapion’s Iron Tail, now sticking to the electric ball, continued to fly at Porygon-Z. The attack collided with my Pokemon and a dark cloud of smoke covered the field in an explosion.
I covered my eyes against the wind and waited for the smoke to fade. Finally, I looked up to see Porygon-Z on the ground, defeated, whining just a little bit.
“Porygon-Z is unable to battle. Drapion wins!” the referee ruled.
I stared in shock, breathing hard. “Oh, man...” I breathed lightly. With a nod, I returned my Pokemon and stared at its Poke Ball. “You were excellent, Porygon-Z. Thanks for a great battle!”
Drapion was heaving heavily, exhausted, which gave me confidence.
I grabbed my next Poke Ball with determination. “Let’s do it then, Ivysaur!”
Ivysaur came out of her Poke Ball in a beam of light. “Ivy! IVYSAUR!”
“Okay, Ivysaur! I want you to use Sweet Scent!”
Ivysaur didn’t move, but growled at Drapion.
Drapion stared back, breathing hard.
“Ivysaur, I said to use Sweet Scent! Now!” I said loudly.
Ivysaur sprayed a pink mist from the tip of her bulb into the air at Drapion.
The opposing Pokemon started to sway in place, hypnotized by the aroma.
“An Earthquake will end this! Do it now!” Cleopatra spoke out.
Drapion didn’t move and continued swaying in place.
“Now use Sleep Powder!”
“IVY!” Instead, Ivysaur ran forward towards Drapion!
“Ivysaur, what are you doing?”
Ivysaur’s body was surrounded by a golden force field and her body was coated in silver as she continued to charge! She collided with it, knocking it out of its trance and to the ground.
Drapion snarled ferociously as it got back up.
“It’s close! Use Fire Fang, now!” Cleopatra instructed.
Drapion roared and leaned forward quickly, its fangs covered in fire.
“Ivysaur, stay still and use Sleep Powder at close range!”
Ivysaur leaped out of the way and used her vines to wrap around Drapion’s throat, holding it back!
It was a power struggle as Drapion tried to push back against Ivysaur as she struggled to hold back Drapion with her vines.
“Then a Pin Missle should take care of that thing!” Cleopatra insisted.
Drapion’s claws glowed white and it pointed them at Ivysaur.
“Saur?” Ivysaur said in shock.
“Ivysaur, watch out!”
“SAAAAAUR!” Ivysaur challenged Drapion, and stood her ground.
White pins fired at Ivysaur from Drapion’s claws.
“SAUR! SAUR! SAUR!!!” Ivysaur used Razor Leaf to collide with the white pins and block the attack!
“Ivysaur!” Is she nuts??
She wasn’t listening to me, but she knew what she was doing, too.
“Ivysaur, this isn’t the way to battle with a Trainer!” I called out angrily. “I believe in your power! I know you’re strong, but we’re a team! You have to listen to your Trainer! Now I’m telling you to use Sleep Powder, so listen to me and do it! Trust me!”
Ivysaur turned her head to me and growled, but she did use Sleep Powder on Drapion.
“Fire Fang!” Cleopatra smirked.
Drapion’s fangs were set on fire and it leaned into the Sleep Powder! The blue powder met with Drapion’s fire coated jaws and were immediately burned to ashes.
“SAAAAAAAAUURRR!” Ivysaur called helplessly as Drapion set down upon her and sunk its fangs into her. Her voice rose in pain.
“NOOOOO!” I also let out in disbelief.
Cleopatra smiled, having let go of her hair, which stuck back up, reaching for the ceiling again.
Drapion let go of Ivysaur and Ivysaur went tumbling.
“Ivysaur, get up!” I pleaded.
Ivysaur growled and immediately hopped back onto her feet, growling.
Cleopatra inhaled a sharp gasp that could have led to a horror movie girl’s scream. “IMPOSSIBLE!” she accused.
A laugh escaped my throat to show my joy at her reaction, but secretly, even I was astonished by Ivysaur’s survival.
“There is NO WAY! How can that Ivysaur have survived? Drapion’s Attack is just too high! Ivysaur are weak to Fire moves!” Cleopatra was flat out whining at this point!
“You’re underestimating the wrong Pokemon,” I winked.
Ivysaur turned to me suddenly and to my surprise, began to yell at me angrily!
“Huh?” My joy suddenly sunk.
“Saur! Ivy Ivy Ivy! Saur Saur Saur! Ivysaur Ivysaur Ivy Ivy!!” She stopped and growled at me.
“Wha…?” I asked, not understanding what was wrong.
“She’s mad at you!” June called.
I turned to June. “I think I knew that, but thanks,” I said sarcastically.
June frowned. “Fine. Never mind, then.”
“Okay, June. I’m sorry. What did she say?”
“She’s mad because she was doing just fine before you gave her any orders. Now, you made her take a really powerful attack for nothing. She thinks you’re just getting in her way.”
I turned to Ivysaur and stared into her angry eyes.
Ivysaur growled at me even louder, and then turned back to Drapion.
My eyes tightened as my temper started picking up. My lips flattened against each other. “HEY!”
Everyone’s eyes went to me.
Ivysaur ignored me.
“You listen to me, now! I may not be the perfect Trainer, but you and I are a team! I know you’re a pretty difficult Pokemon to get along with. I understand that you expect and demand, and do deserve, respect. But, damn it, Ivysaur, so do I! If I make a mistake, we go through it together! If you make a mistake, we go through it together! We’re a team and together, we’ll learn how to sync and battle as one! But by getting mad over an error I make, you’re not making this any easier! We have to learn together and... and... grow together! You and I are gonna beat Cleopatra and her Pokemon as a team, and the Obfucsous Badge will be ours. Now mine, not yours, but ours! We’ll win it! Together!”
Ivysaur didn’t react to my attempt to reach out to her.
There was now only silence in the Gym.
I took a few deep breaths, aggravated at her lack of response, but hoping maybe I got through. “So shape up the attitude! I don’t demand anything different than what you demand of me. I acknowledge your incredible power and worth. Give me the chance to show you my worth and power and battle alongside me!”
Ivysaur turned her head ever so slightly towards me, and soon after, she looked back at Drapion.
“Enough!! If you can’t control your own Pokemon, this match is already won! Use Earthquake!” Cleopatra broke into the silence.
“Ivysaur, Sweet Scent!”
Drapion lifted its foot.
“SAAAURRR!” Ivysaur used Vine Whip instead, wrapping the vines around Drapion’s other foot that was still on the ground, and flipping it up, dropping Drapion on its back.
“IVYSAUR!!” I exploded.
Ivysaur looked back at me and just stared.
To my complete surprise, she solemnly nodded.
I didn’t quite understand, but I nodded back. “Okay… Um...” Focus, Gary! I scolded myself. “Right!” I stared strongly at Ivysaur. I have to be strong, I figured. Ivysaur is a very headstrong Pokemon, so I must have to give my orders to her with confidence, as she expects me to be strong, just as she is. This is what she expects of me. Not to timidly ask her to do a move. This isn’t a choice! She has to listen to me! “Use Sweet Scent!”
Ivysaur’s Sweet Scent filled the room as Drapion got up to its feet.
Drapion was overtaken and ignored Cleopatra as she demanded an Earthquake from it.
Ivysaur’s bulb glowed white and her entire body sparkled yellow as she healed herself. The glowing faded and she cried out triumphantly.
“Drapion, focus yourself!” Cleopatra’s hands were balling into fists now.
“Now, Double-Edge attack!”
Ivysaur rapidly ran at Drapion as it shook its head and gazed in shock at her, roaring as it was taken down. She stood on top of Drapion, not moving, and finally flinched, feeling the pain of the recoil damage from using the powerful move.
“Drapion is unable to battle. Ivysaur is the winner!” the referee declared.
“IVY IVY!” Ivysaur shouted at Drapion, hopping off of its beaten body.
Drapion didn’t move.
“SAAAAAUR!” Ivysaur charged at Drapion and using Double-Edge again against the defeated Pokemon!
“Ivysaur! What do you think you’re doing?” I couldn’t believe what I had just seen.
Drapion was tossed like a dummy, groaning on the floor, barely moving.
Ivysaur growled and charged at Drapion again.
“Ivysaur! STOP IT!” What the hell is she doing?
“Return!” Cleopatra returned Drapion.
Ivysaur skid to a stop right where Drapion was before being retreated and glared at Cleopatra. “IVY! Ivysaur!”
Cleopatra stared back. “Very interesting…” she remarked. “That language will get you nowhere, little one. GO!”
Bisharp flew at Ivysaur and stopped but a few inches from her face.
“Whoa! Use Leech Seed!” I said.
The tip of Ivysaur’s bulb produced a seed that shot out at Bisharp.
“Sharp!” In the blink of an eye, Bisharp swiped at the seed.
The seed split down the middle and hit the floor, dead.
“Whoa!” I cried out as Ivysaur also cried out and took a step back. She then growled, taking two steps forward, showing no fear.
“Iron Head!” Cleopatra gave the next orders.
Bisharp’s blade on its head sharpened and it charged at Ivysaur.
“Razor Leaf!” I wasn’t able to think up a more helpful move in the moment.
“SAAAUR!” Ivysaur used Razor Leaf, but Bisharp swung its blade at the leaves and wasn’t slowed down in the slightest. “IVYSAUUUUR!” Ivysaur was hit with Iron Head and flew into the air, coming down hard.
“Ivysaur! You okay?”
Ivysaur shook her head and leered back at me. “Ivysaur!”
I toughened up, both on the inside and the visible outside, knowing that’s what she wanted. Knowing I had to be strong for her. Knowing she was just fine! “Sweet Scent!”
Bisharp’s blade covered arms crossed over its chest as Ivysaur used Sweet Scent. Cleopatra’s Pokemon spun in place rapidly and a strong wind blew the Sweet Scent away.
“Guillotine, now!” Cleopatra was looking to end the fight right here with a one-hit KO move like that!
The blades on Bisharp’s elbows glowed light blue and it went after Ivysaur.
“Ivysaur, watch out!” I panicked. “Sleep Powder!”
“IVYSAUR!” Ivysaur didn’t move.
“Ivysaur!” I freaked out impatiently. “I said to move it! Don’t just stand there doing nothing! You can’t survive that kind of move!”
Ivysaur kept her eyes on Bisharp and crouched down lower, waiting.
“IVYSAAAAAUUURR!!” I bellowed.
Ivysaur suddenly started to glow red.
Bisharp raised its claws, ready to strike down and finish off Ivysaur. Suddenly, it froze! Bisharp’s eyes started to glow red.
“Hey!” I exclaimed. “Is that…?”
Swagger. The opponent becomes Confused, but its Attack is also increased.
Bisharp shouted out, glaring at Ivysaur, and raised a blade at her. Its blades were no longer glowing, so it wasn’t using Guillotine, but they still looked dangerous.
“Saur!” Ivysaur challenged Bisharp, not budging, not glowing red anymore.
The red in Bisharp’s eyes remained as the blade swung down and landed right next to Ivysaur. It swung at the ground repeatedly as Ivysaur slowly backed away. It then started to bash its head into the floor over and over again, swinging its blades, completely Confused.
“BISHARP! FOCUS!” Cleopatra was swinging her own fists in front of her, towards Bisharp, completely enraged. “Get the Ivysaur! Not the ground!”
Bisharp, its eyes still red, looked up at Ivysaur.
“Now we can do Leech Seed!”
“IvySAUR!” Ivysaur tried to use Leech Seed once more.
This time, it hit Bisharp, and the seed opened up, vines coming from the seed and surrounding Bisharp, draining its health as Bisharp called out in pain.
“Another Synthesis, Ivysaur!” My heart was pounding at the way this match was turning out.
“Bisharp, get to using Metal Sound!”
Bisharp stood up, still Confused, but raised its arms and rubbed the blades together, creating a terribly high pitched SCHHREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!
My fingers dug as deep into my ears as they could while I glared at Bisharp, groaning through the sound.
Ivysaur couldn’t use Synthesis. She crouched down and screamed out desperately.
Cleopatra and the referee didn’t seem bothered by the noise at all as they stood still, watching the battle.
June was in her chair, her hands over her ears, yelling out angrily.
Metal Sound would lower Ivysaur’s Special Defense.
Cleopatra said something, but I couldn’t quite hear her since my ears were still ringing.
But I recognized the attack Bisharp did.
Bisharp’s blade shined like freshly polished metal as it ran at Ivysaur.
By the time Ivysaur looked up, Bisharp collided with her and tossed her across the field. She rolled and ended up on her back.
I immediately noticed the constant drips of blood. “Ivysaur!” I gasped, grabbing her Poke Ball.
Ivysaur growled as she rolled over and got to her feet. She looked down at the blood on the floor that continued to leak from her forehead.
I need to return her, I knew. But what good will that do? She’s still gonna be bleeding. I can’t use her like this. I should call her out altogether and not use her anymore in this match, even if she can still fight.
Ivysaur’s legs began to quiver underneath her. Her head fell into the small puddle of blood. She struggled to push herself back up. She screamed out at Bisharp, and then collapsed, her whole body sitting atop her own blood.
“Ivysaur is unable to battle! Bisharp is the winner!” the referee announced.
“Ivysaur!” I ran to her side and knelt down by her, placing my hand on her gently. “I won’t let them get away with this. That Badge is ours, Ivysaur! You helped us to win this battle. I promise. We’ve already won. This isn’t over!”
Ivysaur groaned and looked up at me, her eyes opening slowly. They closed again and she didn’t move.
I returned her to her Poke ball and looked up at Bisharp.
Its eyes were no longer red. It wasn’t Confused anymore.
“One moment!” The referee ran to a black bag that I hadn’t really noticed before, far away on the other side of the Gym floor, and pulled out a spray bottle and a rag. Cleopatra watched expectantly, still trying to keep her hair down, as the referee ran back and sprayed the blood on the floor and wiped it up with the rag before returning back to the bag, placing the bottle and rag beside it, and ran back to her spot. “You may now proceed with the battle!”
Returning to my place, I grabbed my last Poke Ball. “Charmeleon, go!”
“GARY! YOU KNOW WHAT HER LAST POKÉMON WILL BE!!” June’s voice was instant, interrupting Charmeleon from firing his flames into the air as he typically does and making him look back at June. “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?? WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID, DAMNIT!!!”
There’s a switch somewhere inside of me I try to forget exists.
June had forcefully just flipped it.
My entire body turned to June on command and my legs marched towards her as if on autopilot. That tiny voice in the back of my head, my good sense that usually tries to be the forefront of my daily considerations, begged me to stop, warning me of future regrets to come if I didn’t, like it always does when my switch is flipped. And as always, it meant nothing to me in this moment.
June looked like she was regretting her own choice of words, her eyes widening as she gripped the sides of her chair, and her mouth opened to speak. “Ga-”
“Are you the one out here battling?!” I barked, stopping just a couple of inches from her. “Are you even a Gym Leader anymore?? Who exactly are you trying to learn from, huh? Me? Right! ME! I KNOW what I’m doing! And if I don’t, I will learn! I don’t care about any damn, stupid type advantage, or whatever other inexperienced opinions you have to give me! You quit being a Trainer, so I don’t need to hear a peep out of you! So how about shutting your mouth and letting me trust in my Pokemon? We win with skill and spirit and, and our raw strength combined with the trust we have for each other!” I Inhaled a big, shaky breath, digging for more things to flare out at her. “And you know what? We don’t appreciate someone like you not believing in that trust! You battle your way, and we’ll battle our way! Unlike you and your Pokemon, we actually have trust and work as a team! So how about you butt out until you actually know something about battling with your own damn Pokemon?!”
June was shaking before me, an unwanted reaction that made my heart beat with the horror of realization of what I had caused.
Silence filled the entire Gym.
June’s eyes watered as she silently stood up and walked away, leaving the Gym.
Slowly, I turned back to Cleopatra.
She glared at me, shaking her head. “Just like a male,” she commented. “That is no way to treat your girlfriend.”
“GAAAAHHH!!!” I screamed to the ceiling. “SHE ISN’T MY GIRLFRIEND!!”
“Well, after what you just did, I believe she certainly never will be,” Cleopatra replied.
“This is a Gym battle, not counseling,” I snapped, returning to my spot for the battle. “Charmeleon, let’s go! Flamethrower!”
“Char!” Charmeleon nodded and used Flamethrower to attack.
“Slice through the fire!”
“Bisharp!” Bisharp, still being drained all this time by Ivysaur’s Leech Seed, ran to the flames healthily and used Iron Head, the fire separating as it came into contact with its blade!
“Don’t back down!” I encouraged Charmeleon.
Bisharp got closer to Charmeleon as Charmeleon continued to use Flamethrower.
“SHAAAARP!” Bisharp came to a stop and bent over in pain, unable to go on any further, the fire too intense, the Leech Seed still sapping away at its health, and was engulfed in flames. When the fire ceased, the Leech Seed was burned away and Bisharp was down.
“Bisharp is unable to battle! Charmeleon is the winner!” the referee determined.
Charmeleon victoriously blasted the air with streams of fire.
“Come back,” Cleopatra said in a low voice, returning Bisharp. She looked at me, shaking her head. “Once again, we are here.”
“There is no once again!” I warned her, balling my hands. “This isn’t gonna be anything like the last time!”
“Meleon!” Charmeleon agreed and fired into the air again.
She snickered. “Right,” she said nonchalantly. She threw the last Ultra Ball.
With a roar, the enormous monster appeared. The strong wind and blinding sand covered the battlefield.
Charmeleon was smacked repeatedly in the face by the sand, but kept his eyes on Tyranitar.
Tyranitar looked down at Charmeleon with a smirk.
“Rock Smash!” I gave the order.
Charmeleon’s claws glowed white as he charged at Tyranitar and swung repeatedly at it.
Tyranitar cried out with each hit, staying in place.
“DON’T STOP!” I pushed on. “It has to be taking damage! It just has to be! Don’t stop! Do not give in!”
Charmeleon stopped punching and let out a roar at Tyranitar, and then swung rapidly, continuously, constantly, at Tyranitar.
“Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!” I encouraged him. Rock Smash can lower the opponent’s Defense as well, I convinced myself. A Fighting move on a Tyranitar is major damage due to its Dark and Rock typing. We just have to show that we can break through that tough hide of Tyranitar’s. I won’t let Charmeleon down. I won’t let this battle go to just anyone. Charmeleon deserves this victory! We’ve come too far to let any opponent get the best of us! “Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!”
“Char! Meel! Char! Meel! Char! Meel! Char! Meel!” Charmeleon grunted.
“Charmeleon,” I growled, keeping my eyes Tyranitar. I couldn’t believe how strong it was. How easily it was able to endure these hits.
Finally, Charmeleon cried out from exhaustion and placed both his claws on the ground, gasping for air.
“And now, it ends.” Cleopatra’s eyes focused on mine. She didn’t speak for a long moment, just filling my body with raining ice cubes telepathically.
The only sound to be heard was the wind whipping sand throughout the Gym, Charmeleon grunting through the storm.
The Dark Leader’s eyes moves suddenly to Charmeleon, and she sneered at him. “Earthquake.”
Tyranitar stomped the ground and knocked Charmeleon onto his back.
I managed to keep my balance and watched as Charmeleon groaned from the floor. “That’s right, Charmeleon! You can do it!” I raised my fists, willing my Pokemon to keep going. “Get up! You have to! You’re the one to win this match! You want this just as much as I do, right, man?”
“Char...” Charmeleon didn’t even try to get up. He laid still, shaking his head... Unwilling to get back up?
No… I thought, my heart dropping, eyes watering. Has Charmeleon had enough? Maybe June was right… Maybe we just can’t win by just willpower. Maybe I was stupid to continue letting Charmeleon go through this. No. I was stupid! I was blind. Prideful. Like June said all along. Worst of all... selfish! Charmeleon went through all of this for me. I took advantage of a friend. Used his life for my stupidity... My pathetic desires and... just childish idiocy!
Charmeleon was still down and not moving.
Tyranitar roared to the ceiling, raising its claws high.
“You’re pathetic,” Cleopatra said unforgivingly.
I didn’t look up at her, ashamed, embarrassed, knowing she was right. Hot tears squeezed through my closed eyelids as I listened to her harsh words.
“You believed that by losing, you could have enough heart to pull out some kind of miracle victory in a rematch!” Cleopatra scolded me. “In the process, you were being nothing but selfish and put your Pokemon through unnecessary pain. For nothing! When others give you advice, you turn them away so you can keep your pride and do things the way you want them to be. So in the end, you can claim victory all for yourself, without the help of anybody else. You’re amongst one of the worst kinds of Pokemon Trainers there are! The selfish kind. You don’t care about your Pokemon at all. You’re only concerned with winning. Only, you don’t even know how to do that well, either.”
“NOOOO!” My eyes shot open, Cleopatra a blur behind my tears. “NO! I love my Pokemon! I’d do anything for them! I am not that selfish! I made a mistake! A mistake is not a sign of not loving another!”
“You’ve made the same mistake three times!” Cleopatra argued.
“NO!” I said sharply. “NO!” I looked down at Charmeleon, and then looked up at Cleopatra. I let out a light breath. “So far,” I smirked, “it’s still only twice.”
Cleopatra swiftly turned to Charmeleon.
He was still on the ground, except that he had raised up one arm and was struggling to push himself up with it. While he struggled, his flame on his tail burst into an even brighter flame and his body was surrounded by a red aura. Blaze Ability had just kicked in.
Fire moves won’t help us much against a Rock type, I knew. But maybe, just maybe…
Charmeleon managed to his feet and fired a stream of fire at Tyranitar’s chest.
Tyranitar grunted in surprise and for the first time, its foot actually slid back!
“Rock Slide.” Cleopatra looked up to the ceiling.
Tyranitar raised its claws and let out a roar, white rings appearing and depositing large boulders to the ground.
Tyranitar stomped the ground hard.
“Charmeleon! MOOOOOVE!” I screamed, knowing there was nothing we could do.
Charmeleon crouched down, growling, and then leaped into the air in an attempt to dodge the Earthquake.
Cleopatra glared at me. “Just like old times, eh?” She shook her head pitifully at me.
My eyes, teeth, lips, fists, entire body! Tightened up and exploded in a deafening roar to anyone and anything that could hear. I couldn’t think of anything else I could do. I screamed everything within me, out. Fury. Depression. Desperation. Defeat. Shame. Self loathing. I covered my face with my hands as my wail ended, tears of hatred running down my cheeks.
But another scream rang where mine ended.
I lowered my hands and saw Charmeleon was still in the air, reaching up, bellowing loudly.
My eyes were forced closed as a bright light erupted from Charmeleon’s body, blinding me, filling the Gym. “AAAAAAHH!” I let out, forcing my eyes open. Squinting hard, I could just barely make out Charmeleon’s silhouette in the white light.
It increased tremendously in size, growing larger, larger, larger! The shape of huge wings sprouted from his back and extended.
I inhaled until my lungs were filled, my eyes open wide, my mouth wide enough to catch a whole Magikarp in it.
Charmeleon’s body kept on growing wider and longer.
The light finally faded and I collapsed in amazement as I stared at a new Pokemon.
With a tremendous roar, the dragon twisted his body and swung at the boulders that were inches away from colliding with him with one enormous wing and caught them all! With a hard spin, Charizard tossed them right at Tyranitar!
Tyranitar screamed out, stunned by what had happened and what was happening now, and the rocks slammed into it, knocking it to the floor!
Charizard flew into the air and turned, flying towards Tyranitar.
“CHARIZAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRD!!!” I cheered like a maniac, getting to my feet and bouncing like rubber.
Charizard. The Flame Pokemon. This is Charmander’s final stage. A properly raised Charizard can even survive living inside of a volcano. Charizard are very competitive and often spend time seeking opponents for battle.
Charizard roared ferociously and neared Tyranitar.
Cleopatra’s face was priceless. She looked like she was in need of a hospital. I’d never seen anybody so pale in my life!
Charizard used Flamethrower and Tyranitar roared in anguish, struggling to get up and out of the way.
“Tyranitar, that lizard is weaker to Rock moves than before! Rock Slide!”
She’s right, I thought. Charmeleon was weak to Rock moves just by being a Fire type. But now, as a Charizard, he’s also part Flying. Two types that are weak to Rock moves.
Tyranitar used Rock Slide again.
Charizard looked up at the boulders and smiled, grunting. It soared up into the air, right at the rocks nearing him, and did a beautiful air show, dodging the rocks with ease! It spun around some rocks and used Flamethrower on other rocks, melting them just enough that when they smashed through the floor, they cooled off quickly, became embedded permanently!
Tyranitar roared savagely at Charizard, who winked back.
“Then charge at it and use Crunch!” Cleopatra stomped one foot down impatiently. “Its Blaze Ability is on! IT DOESN’T HAVE MUCH ENERGY LEFT!!!”
Tyranitar’s fangs glowed brightly as it ran at Charizard.
I won’t lose, I believed. Not now! “Rock Smash!”
Charizard raised a claw in the air and it glowed white. He flew quickly to meet up with Tyranitar, who ran at him just as eagerly.
The two neared each other.
Charizard swung his Fighting type move into Tyranitar’s jaws.
Tyranitar was flung back and crashed through the Gym floor, shaking the place.
Me, Cleopatra, and the referee were all downed by the collision.
Charizard landed heavily near Tyranitar, growling.
Everyone’s eyes were on Tyranitar.
“Tyranitar is unable to battle!” the referee stated, getting up quickly. “Charizard is the winner! This match goes to Gary from Pallet Town!”
“YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!” I leapt into the air, overwhelmed and ready to pop!
The sandstorm faded away as I ran to Charizard and took a strong leap at the enormous lizard, wrapping my arms around his neck. I hugged him tightly, burying my head into his extremely warm chest, my eyes overflowing with tears. “I knew you could do it! And I knew you knew you could do it! I never gave up on you, Charizard! You did it!”
Charizard let out a loud roar and blasted the strongest flame I’d seen from him yet, into the air.
I clung to Charizard for the longest time, crying, so happy, so proud, before finally letting go of him and sliding to the floor.
To my immense surprise, Cleopatra was actually smiling at me! Her hair was still standing on end, and now that she was smiling, I wasn’t as intimidated and actually found her look very funny.
I managed to smile, trying not to laugh.
“That was one of the most surprising battles I’ve ever had,” she said, noticing my smile and patting at her hair before sighing and giving up on it. “I’d say, in the end, you proved me wrong. Your faith in your Pokemon brought out a new power within them. The love between you and your Pokemon is strong, if it isn’t still in need of a considerable amount of more work. You do have a lot to learn, but I admit, you did an amazing job in spite of that. Congratulations.” She held up an open box with a Badge in it. “I remember, in our last battle, I said your Weepinbell was the most impressive fighter in your team. Your Weepinbell is incredible without a doubt, but I must give credit where it is due. Your Charizard responded to you just in time, having the heart to win, and the love and connection with you to evolve and battle with all it had inside. Charizard is indeed the most impressive battler I’ve witnessed from your team of Pokemon. You are a most...” She looked up thoughtfully before returning back to me. “...dedicated Trainer. You deserve this. The Obfuscous Badge is now yours, Gary.”
I took her comments gratefully and picked up the Badge, holding it into the air. “WE DID IT!”
Charizard roared happily behind me.
I left the Pokemon Center, my six Pokemon with Nurse Joy, and looked around for June. She wasn’t in the building as I had hoped, and I was worried. Had I gone too far? I wondered. Yes. I had. Had I scared her off for good now? Would she hate me forever?
The sun was still out, beaming high overhead, keeping me just a little bit warmer on this chilly, though comfortable, day.
Having explored all of Dark City, the path left untrodden before me led out of it. Where’s June? My heart was racing now, my body tightening with anxiousness. Did she leave me? I lowered my head and shoved my hands in my coat pocket. I deserve it. I was completely out of line with her. My eyes continued to scan the city as I turned back to the Pokemon Center, looking into store windows, eyeing every person I saw outside, holding out some kind of hope of finding her.
I looked up sadly at the wooden awning of a small diner proclaiming in big wooden letters the name of the establishment. My now watery eyes lowered through one of the two windows at the front. I blinked repeatedly as, to my surprise, I saw June sitting there with a plate of food, gazing sadly out the window!
“June!” I said loudly, running into the diner.
A pretty waitress with her red hair in a bun greeted me with a smile. “Hi there, honey bun! Would-oh, my!” the lady said in surprise as I ran past her and up to June.
“June!” I exclaimed.
June turned to me in surprise. “Gary?” She scowled. “Check, please!” she called out.
I stared down at her plate full of potatoes and something smothered in gravy. “June, you haven’t even eaten!” I sat across from her in the booth she occupied.
“Get away from me, Gary!” She gazed out the window, wiping at her eyes with a napkin.
“June, I shouldn’t have said what I said,” I told her. “I’m not here to beg for your forgiveness or ask you to keep journeying with me. I’m here to acknowledge I was wrong and that I truly suck as a person for the disgusting things I said about you. I’m really sorry. You didn’t deserve that. I don’t deserve your company. And I appreciate all that you have done for me in the time we’ve known each other.” I stood up and left the booth we were in.
June made a noticeable movement towards me and grabbed my hand.
I turned to her.
She looked back at me with tearful eyes. “I’m sorry, too.”
I shook my head. “Me and Charizard won our Badge, but you had every right to think I was completely crazy and stupid.”
June gasped. “Charizard?” she repeated.
I nodded. “You were concerned about us. About him. I believed we could win, and we did, but you were right to judge me so harshly. We only barely won. And it was all thanks to him evolving. We may not have been able to win otherwise. I was being a selfish Trainer. A child. Win or not, I regret the way I went about it. We thank you for your concern, June. And I apologize for my rudeness. I had no right to say those things to you. Not at all.” I tried to walk away, but June didn’t let go of my hand. “Whoa!” I cried out as she yanked me down to sit next to her.
June pulled me into a hug and sobbed loudly against my shoulder. “Congratulations, Gary. And, thank you for saying that!”
I slowly, hesitantly, patted her back. “Yeah… Sure, June.” I sighed, uncomfortable knowing we were being stared at by the entire diner, but grateful in the moment, all the same.
“Thank you, Nurse Joy!”
“No problem, Gary! And congratulations on your new Badge!” Nurse Joy congratulated me.
I smiled even wider, gazing upon such a perfect, angelic face. “I saw this nice diner just a short walk away from here that I was just thinking might be a nice place for you and I to-AH!AH!AH!AAAHH!OW!NEVERMIND!”
June yanked me by my ear harshly towards the front door of the Pokemon Center.
“Hey, kids!” a voice called out to us.
June and I stopped and turned to see a man behind the counter of the Poke Mart, located right inside this Pokemon Center.
The man smiled. “We have some fresh supplies of Poke Balls! It’s limited in stock, so you don’t want to miss your chance!”
June let go of my ear and we walked together towards the man, me rubbing my sore earlobe.
“We have Poke Balls, Super Potions, Ultra Balls, and a few other items!” The man pointed to a large shelf in the back which had divided sections containing many different items, the prices written on a plate in front of them.
“I guess I can get some Poke Balls. What’s a Dusk Ball?” I squinted at the much darker Poke Ball.
The man walked over and picked it up, bringing it over to me.
I held it carefully, turning it in my hand.
“That kind of Poke Ball can almost guarantee the capture of a Pokemon if it’s dark in the area,” the man explained. “It could be nighttime, or you’re in a cave.”
“Hm…” I murmured. “I’ll take a couple of these, and a few more Poke Balls. And also some Super Potions, please.” I didn’t see any Full Heals, which may have come in handy later, but we’d just have to do without that for now.
The man stocked up my bag with the supplies I asked, including some food for myself, June, and our Pokemon.
We thanked him and left.
After having introduced June to Charizard, June and I went our separate ways for a little bit.
Me and Charizard were in Dark City where me and all my Pokemon had been training before our second match with Cleopatra.
June went back towards the forested area where we had been before entering Dark City when Robin was with us, to be with her Pokemon privately again.
At this stage, I really wanted to meet her Pokemon. Or at least watch to see exactly what she was doing with them.
I had considered calling Prof. Oak and telling him about my new Badge, but after our last conversation, he wasn’t exactly who I wanted to be speaking to. Our last conversation was so intense and full of surprises. I figured I’d tell him about my victory over Cleopatra when I reached the next town with a Gym. I felt he’d understand.
“GO!” I sent out my other five Pokemon.
“Trio Trio Trio!”
Porygon-Z whined loudly.
Charizard roared with excitement.
Everyone turned to Charizard in shock.
Charizard let out another loud, happy roar.
“That’s right, guys!” I said happily. “Charmeleon is now evolved. Say hello to our old buddy, now a Charizard!”
Hoothoot flew up eagerly and landed on Charizard’s shoulder.
Primeape scrambled up Charizard’s stomach and embraced his neck in an eager hug.
Dugtrio sang happily at Charizard’s feet.
“Saur,” Ivysaur grunted, turning her head away, a large bandage on her forehead now, covering her cut from her attack from Bisharp.
Porygon-Z cried out loudly, causing Dugtrio to go underground, and everyone else, including me, to cry out from the ringing pain in our ears.
“Porygon-Z, STOP IT!”
The noise finally did end.
I pulled out my Badge case and held out the Obfuscous Badge.
My Pokemon all looked up at it in amazement, except for Ivysaur, who started to growl deeply.
“We did it, guys! Our sixth Badge! Just two more to go, now!”
Everyone cheered, but the celebration was interrupted by Ivysaur.
Ivysaur yelled at me, stepping up to me. She bared her teeth, threatening to attack.
“Ivysaur?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”
Ivysaur started snapping at me again.
I stared at her, trying to understand why she was so mad. “Ivysaur, aren’t you happy we won our sixth Badge?”
Ivysaur growled and ran at me, tackling me in my stomach and taking me down.
My breath was removed sharply. Groaning, I stared at her as she walked on top of me and stopped at my chest, growling in my face.
Charizard roared and my other Pokemon angrily cried out, getting closer to us.
“Ivysaur…” I whispered, breathing hard as I tried to ignore the pain in my stomach and talk. “We won this Badge. Together. Aren’t you happy about that?”
“Wait a minute.” I placed the Badge back in my case, gently placed Ivysaur down on the ground, and sat up on my knees, facing her. “Ivysaur, I don’t understand why you’re so upset.”
”IVY! SAUR IVYSAUR!”
“Ivysaur, are you telling me you aren’t happy with the battle?” I asked, desperate to solve her problem.
“SAUR! IVY!” Ivysaur nodded. “IVY IVY! IVY!” A vine came from her bulb and she tapped on her bandage. “IVY! Ivysaur!”
“Ivysaur, I’m sorry you got hurt in battle,” I told her. “But, it was a battle. Things like this happen. I told you, we will learn from our battle experiences and get better. Together. As a team. But we all won, right? We all did it! You all were just great!” I smiled at my other five Pokemon.
Porygon-Z, Hoothoot, Primeape, Dugtrio, and Charizard let out pleased grunts and calls.
“SAAAAAAAUR!” Ivysaur silenced everyone. She shook her head at me and growled.
“Ivysaur! Ivysaur! Ivysaur!” she said repeatedly. She proceeded to yell her name out at me, practically chanting it.
“Ivysaur... You do understand that this was a team effort, right? None of us did this alone. We couldn’t have made it without having each other’s backs. We all were involved. Even those who didn’t battle. We all support one another.”
“IVYSAUR! IVYSAUR!” Ivysaur screamed. “SAAAUUUUUUURRRRR!”
“Are you mad that I’m... giving everyone credit for our win??”
“SAUR!” Ivysaur nodded.
“Are you expecting credit for that entire battle?!”
“SAUR!” Ivysaur repeated.
Silence fell upon us all.
“Ivysaur, you helped us to win that battle,” I finally responded. “But so did Porygon-Z, and so did Charizard. And Dugtrio, Hoothoot, and Primeape were giving us support and ready to go at my call. All seven of us contributed to this win. All six of you, and I.”
Ivysaur pawed at the ground and growled at me.
“Ivysaur, this is how we operate here,” I told her sternly now, narrowing my eyebrows. “You can’t be mad just because you lost a battle. Your performance during the battle was excellent and contributed equally to our victory. Just like Porygon-Z and Charizard did excellently, too. You can’t just expect to take complete control over the entire match, Ivysaur! There’s nothing wrong with giving praise where it’s due. And there’s nothing wrong with losing when you tried your best. Being selfish and wanting all the praise for yourself is not something I’m going to allow.”
“When others give you advice, you turn them away so you can keep your pride and do things the way you want them to be. So in the end, you can claim victory all for yourself, without the help of anybody else,” were Cleopatra’s very words to me earlier. Now, they were being reiterated.
“IVY IVY SAUR!” Ivysaur went on.
I sighed. Smiling, I held out her Poke Ball. “I’m glad you’re on our team, Ivysaur. I know we’ll get along well enough. Thank you for everything you did today.”
Growling all the way, Ivysaur was returned to her Poke Ball.
After returning the others to their Poke Balls, I sat still, looking up into the starry night sky. Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, I wasn’t thinking about my Gym battle, or even Charmeleon’s evolution, but instead, I was thinking about my new Ivysaur.
She was going to be difficult to raise, but I could feel us connecting with each other. She was a strong Pokemon who demanded respect and was seeking a reason to respect whoever would raise her.
I was sure that, during the Gym battle, maybe, I had earned just a little bit of it from her. Just maybe.
As I waited for June to return, I pulled out my Town Map, trying to figure out where the closest Gym from Dark City was. After a few minutes, my eyes stopped on a location on the map not too far.
Putting the map away, I patiently awaited June, the name of the city we would be headed to, fresh on my mind.