No words can describe this... TCQ Chapter 43~2
*continued from last post*
The flat rock exploded into shrapnel and dust as Poliwrath collided with it, the Pokémon growling deeply as the beam returned to its source, taking a sleeping Vapor with it. The moment Haley’s pokéball managed to succeed, the Coreian girl dropped to her knees and groaned in exhaustion “That... was.... way
“Will the challenger please select another Pokémon, please?” The referee announced. “If one is not chosen in fifteen seconds, Vaporeon will be announced as unable to battle.”
“Sheesh, keep your hair on!” Haley scolded, dragging herself to her feet and drawing out a second pokéball. This one white, with a blue tear drop and centre line, gleamed in the early afternoon sun as Haley reared it back and threw it forward yelling, “Go, Bubbles!”
Bubbles’s traction beam seemed to take an age to form after playfully bounding among the boulders around Poliwrath, who had started to pant as Bubbles formed fully before the Tadpole Pokémon, flexing her short yet powerful arms across her sky blue chest.
<Like, it’s been a while, Haley!> Bubbles said cheerfully. <How’s the battle going?>
Giving a terse shrug of her shoulders, Haley said “In a nutshell, Vapor’s poisoned her Poliwrath, and got put to sleep with Hypnosis. No knockouts yet.”
<Well, then,> Bubbles said, turning her right arm in a windmill as she crouched down. <How about we, like, score a first?>
The referee raised both arms and announced the matchup: “Second match: Poliwrath versus Aquala! Begin the battle!”
“Unlikely,” Florence breathed quietly. “Poliwrath, Submission!”
Stretching her hand out, Haley countered, “Dodge it, Bubbles!”
Poliwrath leapt from his rock towards Bubbles, his fists alight once more with power. Bubbles eyes narrowed as she followed the Poliwrath’s more or less straight path from rock to rock towards her. One rock away, Bubbles took off to her left drawing the angered Poliwrath after her and away from Haley.
Sweat joined the mucus surrounding Poliwrath as he let loose with a storm of powerful strikes, each one determined to lay Bubbles out flat. Due to her smaller size and daintier physique, Bubbles put up an awesome display of dancing around her charging opponent, switching directions after every other rock. Poliwrath’s reactions were dulling tremendously as it went on, Bubbles’s tinkling laughter trailing her along with the maddened Poliwrath as the chase wore on.
“This is going nowhere,” Florence scowled to herself. “Gotta stop her movements... Poliwrath, go underwater and use Hypnosis again!”
“Not gonna happen, Florence! Bubbles, follow them in and use Double Edge!”
Both Pokémon followed orders and leaped into the foaming waves as the last of the ice dissolved.
“Thanks for playing my way, Haley,” Florence said with a smirk. “Now you’re right where I want you. Poliwrath, switch to Ice Punch!”
Oh, nuts! A feint!
Haley thought in a worried voice as the golden glow of the Water/Fighting Pokémon’s normally white belly faded out and an Ice Punch began to form on its fist instead. “Bubbles, get out of there now!”
A loud slamming noise, however, resounded with the sound of the tide and the rocks on which both Haley and Florence stood on shook horribly as a fearsome blow was struck underwater. The white spot died away and two dark shapes seemed to rise up the side of the rocky ‘platform’ to the surface accompanied with a rough grating sound.
A few seconds later, Bubbles and Poliwrath both burst from the water and flew up a short distance into the air. A nasty shade of green highlighting Poliwrath’s dark blue; his fatigue due to the poisoning now obvious. Bubbles, on top of her opponent, shoved her shoulder as hard as she could into Poliwrath’s belly as gravity overtook their ascent and their combined weight and Bubbles’s effort caused them to slam heavily into the rock in question, causing it to split from the point of impact in all directions across its surface.
Bubbles rose to her delicate white feet and stepped backwards off and away from Poliwrath, the swirls in its eyes telling the story as Haley let loose a quick exhale and smiled a small smile.
She asked with a bit of swagger as the referee raised his hand towards her end of the bay towards the Aquala who’d just stop shaking and announced, “Poliwrath is unable to battle! Aquala wins the second round!”
Next time we meet, it’ll be at the League finals... I’ll find out the truth and expose you for the man you truly are then. Don’t wimp out... Manson.
Back at the market place, Kamren Kent opened his goose grey eyes, raised a half eaten rice ball to his mouth and took another meditative bite. The noise never seemed to abate as shoppers haggled and store owners peddled their customers out of a decent price all around him.
The volume of the activity around him did nothing to distract his thought process as he exhaled and leaned backwards further under the bright red parasol that matched his long reddish blond hair. A lock here and there made his normally well-groomed mane slightly unkempt as he closed his eyes once again and chewed.
His last meeting with his Johton rival felt somewhat... odd. Sapph had always been up for a challenge, even if he wasn’t quite as aggressive as he himself...
EverWood Town Pokémon Centre, four months ago
Kamren had just come in from a hard day’s training in the forest, Carla, Calvin and Dex in tow. As if it had been agreed amongst the friends before they had set off from Olville Town, Kamren had trained apart from the only other Trainer in the group at the time. What seemed like a blur of green flew across their field of vision and, turning towards its source, saw a boy with slightly messed up hair sitting at a table while a red insect of sorts tried to appease an obviously-aggravated Chansey. Recognizing his rival, Kamren felt a need to aimlessly aggravate his rival.
“Awww, if it isn’t widdle Sapphire
,” cooed a mocking baby voice.
Sapph became rigid as he turned around. He knew who was there, but the knowledge of this didn’t make Sapph relieved in the slightest to see Kamren standing there with Calvin, Carla and Dex.
“Hi, widdle Kammy
,” Sapph retorted, “Who’re the widdle losers, who’re the widdle losers?” he added, looking around the group.
Carla opened her mouth and Chaz started towards Sapph, but Kamren stopped them both.
“Never you two mind, I’ll take him on, unless he’s chicken!” Kamren taunted, rolling Burner’s shrunken pokéball between his fingers.
“I’m no chicken…” Sapph began.
“Besides,” a younger Nurse Joy said, joining them at the table and keeping Chansey from further injuring Mongle (who had just picked himself off the wall and let off a rude comment about Chansey’s girth), “Ledyba and Mongle have just eaten, they can’t fight you now, no matter how much…”
“…I’d love to whup you and Burner’s…” Sapph protested.
“Yeah, right, chicken boy
! That rat can’t even fight off a wussy Chansey!” Kamren taunted.
Chansey couldn’t take the night’s rudeness anymore, and stalked off once more to look for the senior Nurse-on-Duty to hand in a request for transferral to another Pokémon Centre away from spitting Mongles and egotistical redheaded blonds in the cause of protecting her over wounded feelings.
”Leave it, Sapph!” Nurse Joy Jr. pleaded.
<Yeah! We’ll settle them later!> Mongle growled, rearranging his face and glaring at the foursome.
<Who’re ‘they’, Mongle?> Ledyba queried.
<Dirt.> Mongle answered, his eyes still fixed on the source of his trainer’s anger.
“Like I said, ‘Yeah, right!’” Kamren laughed, turning to leave.
Things weren’t much more different between us at the time
, Kamren thought to himself as he continued to lounge and munch on his lunch. Man, Carla’s taking her time
, he went on, opening his eyes lazily and watching his childhood friend argue with the sales clerk of the costumier’s store across the street. What is she doing, buying the whole store?
Then, barely three days later, the two boys met again and had their first actual match-up... and something was slightly different. At least, to Kamren it seemed that way...
Nightspark City Battle Ring, four months ago
Kamren was pretty much on a roll, decimating every opponent who had come across his path. He had earned two badges in vicious fashion and was making the most of shaking down his victims for some extra cash when he had appeared again from the Pokémon Centre...
“If it ain’t Sappy Sapphire!” Kamren crowed, looking around to see who’d spoken. The kids on either side of him backed away as though he had the plague.
“Sapph!” Haley cried out, running towards the dark-haired boy. “Boy, am I ever glad to see you!”
“Oh… hey, Haley,” Sapph said, turning to smile at a speeding fist which looked for and found Sapph’s nose. The resulting dull thumping sound that followed caused the bullies to wince in empathy, though not much. Haley rubbed her knuckles, which had left a red fist mark right in the middle of Sapph’s face.
“OW! Not again, Haley! What was THAT one for?”
“Letting me lose Bubbles in that terrible forest,” Haley said calmly, now blowing air onto her knuckles, not looking perturbed by the fact that she may have just shattered Sapph’s nose.
“I’m frankly surprised you made it this far with a Mongle, Sappy
,” Kamren taunted.
“Yeah?” Sapph snarled, flaring up. “Well, let’s see how cool you are after me and Mongle whup your guys stupid in a two on two, right here, right now.”
“Pfft…as if. Anywho, let’s get it on. I was getting bored with the local zeroes… not that you’ll do any better.” Kamren snorted.
“We’ll see who’s a loser after I whip your butt raw,” Sapph retorted, readying a pokéball for battle.
Back at the beginning of their journey in Olville Town, Kamren had just been poking fun at the new arrival. This had led to the two arguing over who would get the Fire-type Fryger from Professor Yew the next day. Kamren had won that round and Sapph had seemed angry at everyone and nobody over it. A week later, Sapph seemed to have grown past the rage and forged a bond with the Leaf Squirrel Pokémon. Getting even with him for his sneaky trick was behind him as he threw down the gauntlet then.
He must have felt like being something out of a hero comic then
, Kamren snorted in his mind. Pathetic...
Yet, it could not be denied that owning Burner was a thing of the past to Manson then. Even when he reached Appleburn City, he heard all the talk about how he had bested the gym leader in a dramatic battle with his Growlithe.
Yes, Manson had grown stronger. And it wasn’t like he had been avoiding another confrontation with him. Their last encounter was under considerable stress from forces neither could control. And yet his promise remained... and somehow, somehow
... he knew it had been accepted.
Olville Town... Nightspark City... Pampa City... the Dragon Cove... every time they had met, he’d been the superior, the one looking down. But this was a facade. By the time both had left Utopia Island, Kamren had become the challenger, the one looking for the fight...
... and, whether he knew this fact or not, Manson had accepted. The dark-haired boy hadn’t said a word he heard as he escaped the AGENTs, but Kamren Kent knew that he had...
“Earth to Kamren Kent, do you hear me?”
“Hunh?” Kamren blinked twice as he rubbed the daze from his eyes. Looking up, he saw a very blonde girl look down at where he sat, her green eyes twinkling with fun as she placed her hands on her hips and begin to pout. “Hey, Carla,” he said, jumping to his boot-shod feet and stretching himself out fully. “All done?”
“You know, you could have come in with me,” The girl continued to pout; her companion knowing all too well it was only an act, and that there was no way he would accompany her into such a store. Jabbing a long finger at the boy’s chest, clad in a black tee and red highlights, she added, “I’m sure we’d have found something perfect for you.”
Stepping into the sunlight and straightening his khaki coloured jacket and cargo pants, Kamren sighed and said, “Pass. You know I hate dress up.”
Giggling slightly, Carla passed her shopping over to him without preamble (Kamren had to think fast and catch them before their contents hit the dirty street) and said, “I know, but imagine how cute you would look...”
“Definitely never doing it, then,” Kamren replied, stony-faced. “Let’s go, the ferry to Southern Island leaves the northern pier in about an hour.”
Carla looped her stoic companion as he went on “Say, why are we taking so long in the Trigello Islands anyways? You should be able to easily win the Southern Isle ribbon. You’re not afraid of anyone, are you?”
Stopping abruptly, Carla turned on Kamren and stuttered, “I-I-I’m not afraid o-of R-Ru-Rubin Manson!”
“Who mentioned Rubin?” Kamren asked, a bit surprised at this revelation; Carla slapping a hand over her mouth, ashamed she had given herself away.
Noticing her shame, Kamren actually decided to apply a kinder tact, which (knowing Kamren) is totally uncharacteristic. Lowering his voice, he said in a totally nonchalant voice, “Look, Rubin Manson is a nobody. All he’s got are a pretty face and a title no one here really cares abou...”
“He has got skills too, Kamren,” Carla whispered dejectedly. “I noticed that when we travelled together through the north of the continent. In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, again,” she added in a smaller voice than ever. “He scares me. Or, at least he did...”
Remembering how scary the boy and his Wooper were in one-shotting Burner back in Nightspark City, Kamren felt the same. However, betraying this weakness would not help Carla’s confidence. Her latest words, however, sparked a distinct curiousity in him.
Looking at Carla, he enquired, “’He did’? Doesn’t he still?”
Shaking her long, blonde-haired head from side to side, she said, “Not as much as I did before White Cliffs. I dunno if I told you this, but it was winning the contest in front of him that pretty much made him decide he needed to knock me out of the race. Pity I only need one ribbon,” she added, cutting Kamren off. “He’ll get his at the Grand Festival. We’ve never competed together in the same contest, you know? By the time it’s over, though,” she ended; a manic glint in her eyes as she raised her hands and clenched them into fists. “We’ll make him wish never to even think of doing it again.”
Kamren could only stare at her. Had he said the same thing to her, he would only be bragging or trying to raise her spirits in the name of their recently repaired friendship. But as he heard Carla Witkins make this declaration, he felt no fear come from her. There was only confidence. Sure confidence in herself and her Pokémon that they could not only take the Ribbon Cup, but beat Rubin along the way.
“What?” Carla asked defensively, giving Kamren a fishy stare. “Why are you smirking?”
Quickly rearranging his face into what he hoped was a smoothly blank face, Kamren retorted, “I’m not smirking. Come on,” he said turning around, a businesslike look hitched on his visage. “We have a ferry to catch. No to mention training to do, right?”
And walking towards the northern pier, his mind on his promise...
...and, thanks to Carla, his heart set on victory.
Back at the cove, things had suddenly shifted from giving Haley momentum to her opponent gaining second wind. Following her Poliwrath’s defeat, Florence had calmly switched it out, muttering something about fortifying its defences more and sending out her second Pokémon, a Lanturn. Haley and Bubbles lost no time in attacking with another Double Edge and actually scored a clean and easy hit, pinning the poor fish to the rocks.
Florence, however, had other plans.
Haley and Bubbles weren’t the only ones who had apparently thought ahead and as the blue and yellow fish gasped and struggled to escape, Haley called their next attack hoping to end it early.
“Lanturn, calm down and use Confuse Ray!” Florence had commanded as the Water Hare’s fist had begun charging with Megacite energy for a Mega Punch attack.
The Lanturn’s wild eyes behind its saffron ‘mask’ markings instantly mellowed out and one of the two beacons its species are popular for began to glow with a sinister glow, firing off a winking point of light that caught Bubbles full in the face as it looked down at her mark.
Eyes glazing over, the Aquala’s attack came short and hit the rock between them causing it to shatter into many tiny pieces of shrapnel and propelling the combatants apart, Lanturn flopping into the water with a splash and Bubbles back into a nearby rock behind her.
Haley blanched as the Aquala rose shakily to her feet turned and gave her a loopy smile and wave not even Blitzkrieg could managed as the Lanturn peeked out of the water, its giggle tinkling like little chimes. A slight blue aura took over the yellow parts of her body and shone brightly even beneath the waves and Florence’s smiled widened, their training paying off.
Realizing her mistake and subsequent disadvantage, Haley did the only thing she could and called Bubbles back before she did any more damage to herself.
On the sidelines, Roni noticed the Lanturn’s giggles and renewed vigour and muttered, “So, Florence has had her Lanturn trained to use Aqua Ring from the outset of the battle without a single command. And with Vapor asleep and Bubbles just cured of confusion, Haley has to choose a fresh Pokémon to gain back the momentum. That lady is smart... although I’ve seen guys like Herbert do better.”
Conrad heard the spectator and sighed to himself as he watched Haley select her third Pokémon. Raising his flags he announced “Fourth match: Lanturn versus Urchane! Begin!”
Florence’s voice boomed out, “Confuse Ray, again, Lanturn!”
“Don’t look at it, Mace!” Haley bawled in retaliation. “Wait for my mark and dodge!”
What looked like a large angler fish of sorts, complete with two ‘beacons’ that sat atop its head on stalks flitted in between the outcroppings of rocks as a large green ball of spines sat atop one near the ring’s centre, turning on its stumpy legs in an effort to keep his wily adversary out of sight.
“Closing your eyes won’t help you here, Haley,” Florence called out as one of the beacons on the Lanturn’s head, which resembled a mini-strobe light began to flash ominously as the Urchane did everything he could to look away.
“You never know until you try, Florence!” Haley retorted, annoyed that this woman’s silly-looking fish was giving her this much trouble and making it look like a game.
“Well, then... let’s find out!” Florence commanded as Haley saw what seemed to be the Lanturn’s red eyes just beneath the surface of the water at her Pokémon’s twelve and said, “It’s right in front of you! Jump back and use Pin Missile!”
A tiny sun burst out of the water winking sinisterly as Mace, trusting his Trainer’s instinct, used the tiny balls he had for feet and sprang backwards off the rock, his innumerable spines glowing white. A second later, multiple projectiles exploded from his body and flew towards the startled Beacon Pokémon, its Confuse Ray just missing its mark.
“Lanturn! Dive down just as we practiced!” Florence commanded. Lanturn chirped once in understanding and with a flick of its yellow fin dived deeper into the water as the surface churned and frothed with the force of many impacts.
There’s no way we missed her then,
Haley thought. Mace’s Pin Missile spray is too wide-spread. But just to make sure...
Raising her voice to a command, she yelled out, “Don’t let up, Mace!” Blow up the rocks around the area with Water Gun and bury it!”
The Urchin Pokémon’s eyes narrowed maliciously and it fired round after round of pressurized water jets at the black semi-submerged monoliths, breaking off large jagged portions and actually destroying a couple entirely. The stones splashed into the water and Haley shot her foe a triumphant smile, stunned to see the older lady still smiling beneath her wide-brimmed straw hat.
Mace’s feet finally touched down on another rock just in front of Haley and the tinkling sound of the Lanturn’s laughter rang out again. Mace whirled about awkwardly as well as angrily as the sound not only felt magnified, but was multiplied into a positive chorus of giggles.
<Oi, what gives?> Mace yelled to his Trainer as Haley seemed to struggle with comprehending Florence’s strategy.
“Surely you can figure this out, Haley?” Florence grinned. “Lanturn is already an expert at using light as a distraction and sonar when hunting prey...”
Haley took a step back and murmured, “So that means...”
Nodding, Florence took over, “Between the water and the rocks, Lanturn’s voice is not only distorted, but magnified and, well, multiplied by the rebounding echoes.”
Roni turned his shocked look into one of indifference and said to the referee “So that’s why she relocated the battle to this cove, hunh?”
Conrad smiled at the battlefield as he answered “Smart, hunh?”
“More like duplicitous,” Roni drawled. “I’d never resort to using tricks like this. Battle’s all about facing forward and slugging it out ‘til one person falls.”
Conrad gave Roni a sad stare and shook his head in disbelief as he turned back to the field to watch Haley command her Urchane to hop from rock to rock, “Haley’s a Water type user too, right? She’s perfectly capable of using the same strategy if she just trained towards it. But she probably follows your philosophy for battle too, I reckon,” he ended as the foaming spray of the waves upon the rocks caused the Water and Grass type to lose his footing and take a tumble into the waves.
“Oh, and one more thing...” Florence said to Haley as they both watched Mace rise to the surface and bob along like a cork, his smallish green leaves waving atop his head in the wind as the Lanturn’s giggling finally subsided into eerie silence.
“What?” Haley replied tersely, the quiet all but unnerving her.
“Thanks for waiting long enough for Lanturn to recover. Signal Beam!”
Haley blanched mentally as a stream of psychedelically-coloured blocks burst from the water and struck the floundering Mace square in the face, blowing his out of the water and back onto a rock painfully, bouncing on his ‘back’ and landing on its feet again, clearly winded from the effective attack.
“Confused as well? Quite the lucky break,” Roni muttered to Conrad as Lanturn reappeared at the water’s surface, its giggles finally no longer a cacophony of sound as it glowed once again.
“Will anything any of them do not be ‘lucky' to you?” Conrad hissed, his patience obviously wearing thin.
“Should be on its last legs now,” Florence uttered as she watched the Urchane slump over. “Time to end this.” Aloud she commanded “Lanturn! Rise from the water and end this with a final Signal Beam!”
The laughter rose in volume as a great splashing noise announced Lanturn’s arrival, its beacon alight with energy flashing in many hues as it prepared its last attack.
“We were waiting for this,” a low voice muttered. It took Florence a second too long to realise Haley was grinning from beneath her cowboy hat and the leaves atop the Urchin Pokémon’s head begin to spin rapidly. “MACE, USE RAZOR LEAF!”
Mace looked up with a sinisterly identical grin and plastered the stunned opposition with as many leaves as it could muster. Florence simply gaped at her childish mistake as she watched her Pokémon squeal in hysterics as the bombardment continued.
Conrad in similar fashion just stared as the punishment Lanturn received finally began to subside and a weary Mace ended his attack. Lanturn belly flopped feebly back into the water and after a few seconds rose again, lying on its side and definitely out cold. Without even waiting for the count, Conrad raised his flag towards Haley and announced, “Lanturn is unable to battle! Urchane wins the fourth battle!”
Returning her defeated Beacon Pokémon with a murmured word of thanks, she also selected her third Pokémon thinking to herself, “This challenger isn’t too bad, and although mixing things up on the battlefield did throw her game for a while. Time to build some momentum...”
Wordlessly, she threw her third pokéball out, which split open along the seam, releasing onto one of the still-standing rocks an odd sort of creature, even by Pokémon standards. It was certainly large, and once you got past the duck bill and large, serrated lily pad atop its head like a sombrero, it looked like it could be a threat. The goofy being, however, let out a low bellow and began to shake its shaggy yellow body from side to side in a slightly rhythmic sway.
Ludicolo, the Carefree Pokémon
, Haley’s Pokédex beeped in recognition. Ludicolo are said to become empowered when festive music is played. Ludicolo is a Watera and Grass Pokémon, and the final form of Lotad.
‘Carefree’ is right
, Haley thought as it looked into its happy go lucky eyes and watched its long green arms sway with its motions. Conrad announced the fifth battle as her mind went on: It doesn’t look much brighter than Blitzkrieg...
Raising her voice to a shout, she called out, “We’re not here to samba, Florence!”
<We’re here to win, you blob!> Mace jeered at the swaying Pokémon who ignored the jibe magnificently.
“But if you want to dance, allow us to let you feel the ‘beat’! Mace, use Pin Missile and end this!”
Florence simply looked on as the Urchane’s spines began to charge up again and smiled to herself. “Nature Power, Ludicolo.”
Ludicolo gave a single bellow of assent and raising his hands in the air, waved them around for a second and slammed them into the rock, hard. On the other side of the field, Mace stumbled a bit due to the shockwave that the attack had created. Before he could right himself fully, several large explosions erupted around the rock he was standing on.
Shielding her eyes from the spray kicked up, Haley saw several shadows above her battler and looking up; saw something that made her heart leap to her throat. Mace, ready to fire, was too focused on the job at hand to notice the incoming threat...
Several things happened in such rapid succession then that they seemed instantaneous: Mace unleashed the first salvo of needles which all found their mark and blew the Carefree Pokémon off the rock. Haley’s throat finally unstuck and let out a warning shout to her Pokémon, who suddenly felt a boulder slam into its way, barring the second salvo from following the first. Ludicolo hit the water with a splash as several more boulders seemed to fall magically from the sky and bury Mace in a Rock Slide attack Haley was too late to stop.
Florence’s grin widened as the last boulder landed atop the rock pile smothering Mace with a thud. Ludicolo also surfaced with absolutely no change to its look, a few cuts and bruises highlighting its brown-striped body but otherwise not bothering it at all.
“She shouldn’t be able to work her way out of that,” Florence said more to herself than to Conrad. “You going call it, Conrad?”
“Didn’t we tell you,” Haley murmured as Ludicolo clambered out onto a rock in front of its last attack’s aftermath, “that we’re giving you a ‘beat’? Mace, use Water Gun, dead ahead!”
“On your guard, Ludicolo! Make sure they stay put with Ice Beam!” Florence commanded sharply.
Sweat trickled down the Trainers’ cheeks as Ludicolo readied a ball of frozen power between its palms. All eyes were on the pile of rubble which stayed as ominously still as a grave.
“Come on, Mace! You can do it!”
“You really are a sore loser, aren’t...?” Florence began as a small sprig of water began to gush out of and trickle down the side of the small mound without her notice. “Let it rip, Ludicolo.”
Ludicolo released his attack with a third bellow as a tremendous deluge of water blew the rock apart, sending one careening towards the Ice Beam attack like a missile. Florence gasped as the two attacks collided and detonated the boulder into shrapnel which flew everywhere and knocked Ludicolo off his stumpy green legs once again and back into the churning waves.
“Ludicolo!” Florence called out in worry.
“We gotta keep our advantage, but it’s gonna be risky...” Haley muttered to herself as her Urchane took a gasp of air after nearly drowning itself.
Looking back at Haley’s pensive face, Mace read his next command clearly and said, <Booyah! Time to make this party go ‘Boom’!>
With a second gasp of air, the worn-out Urchin Pokémon dived into the water and began to sink towards the floundering Ludicolo.
“Ludicolo!” Florence called out again. “Brace yourself, it’s coming!”
“Too late,” Haley murmured. “Explosion.”
“She’s joking, right?” Conrad gasped. “If she used that here...”
“Urchane would be out of the running,” Roni completed. “Seeing that Mace has little health left, she’s decided to take Ludicolo out with them. Kinda brash... not bad, but brash.”
Under the water, Ludicolo finally righted himself as he saw a ball of light shaped like his opponent come closer. Ever the curious one, Ludicolo swam towards it, barely registering his Trainer’s yell and the ball shine brighter and brighter.
<Let’s see you dance now, Pineapple Face,> Mace’s voice said from the light as they drew nearer to each other.
<What-?> Ludicolo began before the light reached a crescendo of brightness and a voluminous explosion rocked the entire cove. Back above the surface a tremendous blast of water rocketed into the sky obliterating all the ‘platforms’ and knocking Haley and Florence off their feet.
The two ladies, Conrad and Roni all got drenched as the fragments of stone from the platforms (now all destroyed) created a seemingly endless cacophony of splashes. A severely burnt-looking one fell into the water as well as Mace’s natural buoyancy raised him back to the surface, swirls for eyes and chuckling with a slightly deranged sense of glee.
“Guess that’s a double knockout, Florence,” Haley said as calmly as she could, returning Mace without a word. “Call Ludicolo back and let’s finish this fight.”
Florence looked at the burned-out Pokémon, saw something that made her smile and caused Haley to face fault as she said, “Who do you think you’re talking to? Ludicolo, Rest.”
“I want a word with you, Sapph Manson!”
Sapph and his five Pokémon looked up to see the harried ship medic storm out of the gangway and stomp over towards them. Noticing Diamond’s startled expression at his hailing turn into menacing growls, Sapph quickly returned the pacifist Mystic Pokémon before things got too out of hand.
Looking up at the medic who’d reached them in a towering huff, Sapph hitched up a breezy smile and said, “Anything the matter?”
“I’ll give you ‘Anything the matter?’!” The medic raged. “At the rate you’re going, no one on this ship is going to be fit enough to battle!”
Sapph raised an eyebrow in surprise. “How do you mean?”
“YOU’RE KNOCKING THE CREW’S POKÉMON OUT FASTER THAN I CAN TREAT THEM!” The medic bellowed. “GEEZ, HAVE YOU NEVER HEARD OF ‘RESTRAINT’?!”
Sapph looked nonplussed. Turning to Lavender he murmured, “Isn’t that kind of his job?”
“Don’t get smart with me, kid!” The medic bawled, getting (if it were possible) angrier by the second. “Can’t you take it easy or something? What if we were under attack? I had to send the surplus to the Pokémon Center in town for more supplies because of you and your Pokémon!”
Sapph looked up at the medic and saw the man was ready to burst. Turning to the others he adopted a stern gaze and said, “Now look what you all have done! Giving the poor man more work than he could handle... you should be ashamed!” The playful twinkle in his eye, however, betrayed the humour he felt at the situation.
<Don’t look at the glorious Hunter,> the Icoeti sniffed dispassionately. <It’s not my fault they’re that weak...>
<Indicators suggest an increased state of agitation in subject Harold Wessons, occupation: Head Ship Medic aboard the UAS Hydro
. Might he be interested in sampling an infusion of herbal refreshment? Studies have shown...> Mighty droned in his ever-impressive display of lifelessness.
Lavender couldn’t be trusted to speak, as she rolled about the deck already breathless with laughter.
<Hey, man... your aura is, like, totally murky,> Cloude said in his slow and purposeful voice, his beady blue eyes twinkling with concern. <Should you be making fun of the situation, Sapph, dude?>
<...as well countering the bowel cramp disorder that may result from one of his occupational field from not obtaining enough roughages in the diet. Might I suggest...>
<Defend the Hydro
? Ha! The magnanimous Hunter would not deign to consider those urchins up to the challenge of keeping such a resplendent craft safe from such forces...>
Tears of mirth were now streaming from Lavender’s unseeing eyes as she choked and gasped for air, her legs kicking about like crazy.
“Ahoy there! Is there a ‘Sapph Manson’ aboard?” A loud voice called from over the side of the Hydro
Holding up a finger to the spluttering medic, Sapph rose to his feet and said “Hold that rant.” Leaving Wessons in a blubbering state and moving towards the port rail, he looked down at the ocean and saw two boys standing in a boat that rocked gently with the waves. “That depends,” he called back. “Who’s asking?”
The one nearest to the ship raised a hand to his grey eyes and hollered back, “Just a couple of trainers looking for a battle. Permission to come aboard?”
Sapph gave the deck a sweeping glance with his sapphire blue eyes and noticed very few people left on deck to actually stop them. Turning to the medic who still looked gobsmacked, Sapph turned back to the pier and said, “Don’t see why not.”
“Excellent! Hmm,” the other boy called out, pumping his fist in excitement. The two boys made their way up the ladder Sapph had lowered for them and onto the deck.
“So what brings you both out here?” Sapph said slowly, looking the boy who’d spoken second’s dark brown hair, grey jacket and black trousers over. “I kinda have a bad rep with the local Battle Ring circuit around here...”
“Rep, schmep,” the first boy said, waving the words away with a pale hand dismissively. “You’ve caused quite a stir at the island’s Pokémon Centre with all the sailors that have been showing up...”
“And since we didn’t want any trouble for you showing up to the Battle Ring, we decided to come here to see just what you got,” the other lad said, who was now bobbing up and down, his dark brown hair shaking hither and thither as he began to do squats.
“Look, I’m sorry the sailors are getting in the way at the Centre,” Sapph said apologetically. “I’ve just been spoken to about restraint. We’ll be... why is he doing squats?” Sapph asked, distracted as the boy continued pumping his legs up and down as he intoned, “Eight... Nine... Ten... Eleven...”
Looking him over as well, the other boy pushed his wavy black hair away from his freckled face and answering Sapph’s quizzical look, said, “Don’t ask me. He does that before every battle at the ring. Andrew Howard, by the way,” he added, proffering his hand. “Rustboro City, Hoenn.”
“And... I’m... Daniel... Sector... twenty! Hup!” The other boy said, completing his squats and fixing Sapph with a challenging glare. “We’re not fussed about the sailors, mate! They mentioned your name and we want to go a couple of rounds with you!”
Sapph raised his eyebrows in surprise as Lavender managed to hiccough herself back into seriousness and walk over to the small group, Hunter alongside her. “I dunno...” Sapph said uncertainly. There isn’t really an official judge aboard...”
“I can suffice,” a familiar voice said. Turning towards the ship’s navigational cockpit, everyone on deck saw Tony Parito come down the stairs onto the deck his brown, bespectacled eyes surveying the nearly deserted ship around him. “So that’s why this place looks so deserted...”
Scratching the back of his head, Sapph apologised “Sorry, Tony. Guess I overdid it...”
“As usual,” Tony replied knowingly. “Well, if it keeps you out of trouble, I suppose I can fill in. We don’t ship out until Roni and Ms Kent are back at least.”
“All right! I’m going first!” Daniel said, his green eyes alight with a fire to battle. “Let’s do it! Yeah!”
“Slow down, hot head,” Andrew said calmly. “I think I’m going first.”
“No you’re not! No you’re not!”
“Yes, I am.”
“No you’re not, no you’re not, no you’re not, no you’re not, no, you’re not!”
“Guys, guys!” Sapph yelled, raising his voice for attention. “I’m fine with a double battle! Really!”
“If you two can stand working together long enough,” Tony added slyly.
Andrew and Daniel sized each other up, grey and green eyes softening despite themselves.
“Don’t slow me down, slick,” Andrew said reaching out for a handshake.
“Only if you don’t get in the way, Sparky... Hmm,” Daniel retorted, taking the handshake firmly.
Turning to Tony, Sapph muttered, “Aren’t they meant to be saving their aggression for me? This is Dopeak City all over again.”
Tony shrugged with a chuckle and indicated a spot about twelve feet away for him to get ready while he sorted the others out.
It wasn’t long before both sides were ready to battle, Daniel and Andrew facing Sapph off, who already had his choices made. The sun Pokémon’s forked tails swished from side to side as she turned her lilac head towards her partner and said, <Ready to go, Wolfie?>
<Don’t I seem ready to you?> Hunter replied stoically.
<That’s strange,> Lavender said, a sly look arresting her elven face. Batting her blue eyes she said, <No third person?>
The Icoeti blushed faintly as he responded, <You’re an exce- no comment,> going even redder as he stopped himself brusquely.
<Riiight...> Lavender replied snarkily, a slight tinge decorating her cheeks herself as Wessons, Mighty and Cloude sat (or hovered) on the sidelines to watch and their opponents discussed strategy.
“This is a double battle between Sapph Manson and Andrew Howard and Daniel Sector. Both sides may use two Pokémon only! Will the challengers please select their Pokémon?” Tony announced.
The challengers, hunh?
Sapph thought to himself as he saw the boys unclip a single pokéball each and lob them into the air. That’d make me the challenged. There’d be a first...guess I’m too used to doing the challenging to be challenged...
Two flashes of white light formed on the field before them and solidified into beings on the battlefield, neither one a problem to identify.
The taller one was definitely more familiar; it stood as a hulking tower of blue and yellow fur, ignited. Easily the tallest Pokémon on the field, the creature’s hands were rubbed together, creating sparks that danced in the air before its face.
Andrew’s Pokémon was much less impressive-looking, looking little more than an inverted pokéball with mean little eyes and a naughty grin plastered across the lower half of its face. Sapph had been told from his parents’ experience that that smile meant nothing but grief if the spherical creature was given its way, and it had the speed to take it.
For a hurriedly thrown together combination, they sure work well together,
Sapph thought to himself. Aloud he said, “Think you two can take them?”
Lavender turned to Hunter and cooed, <No worried, Sapph! I’ll keep our widdle Wolfie cub out of danger.>
Hunter groaned and said, <You just had to get the last word in, didn’t you, Lavender?>
<Yup!> She replied brightly.
“Oh, boy,” Wessons groaned.
<What's wrong, dude?> Cloude asked laconically, his twin bangs wafting in the wind as he turned to look at the medic.
Mighty however answered, again out of turn, <Sensors indicate several bio-organic life forms approaching the vessel UAS Hydroooo
... several Pokémon detainment devices detected alongside them...>
“I can’t heal this many people,” Wessons moaned as the babble of several more trainers came closer. “Where are those supplies?”
“Cool, an audience!” Daniel declared, watching a few more trainers undeniably from the Pokémon Centre coming aboard and noticing the impending battle. “How did they all know I was here?”
“We followed Andrew
here, not you.” One of the trainers said, a girl with vibrant purple hair. Turning to Sapph, she added, “You don’t mind if we watch and wait our turn, do you?”
Sapph smirked back as Tony raised his hands and announce “Begin!” and said, “No problem. This won’t take long...”
“That’s... not fair,” Haley said in a faraway voice as Ludicolo let out a rasping snore and its wilting lily seemed to rejuvenate before her eyes.
“Eight seconds, Haley,” Conrad reminded her, snapping out of the shock the Explosion attack had wrought to remind her of the fifteen second switch-in rule.
“Oi,” Roni said shakily. “What the hell was that?!”
“Haley tried to blow Ludicolo up and it didn’t work,” Conrad muttered without looking at him. “It thought it was obvious...”
“But... it got hit with an attack akin to a depth charge,” Roni blurted out. “How did it survive?! There has to be a trick here... no way is she... no way can a woman...”
Conrad wheeled on Roni and snapped, “Shut up, you little chauvinist. Do you know ANYTHING about Florence, you little turd?”
“What do I need to know?” Roni retorted as Haley sent her Vaporeon back into the fray. “She has to be cheating, right?”
“For your information, you mewling wimp, Florence is actually here to stand in for the real final member of the Trigello Crew who’s taking her place back in Ruova,” Conrad hissed in venomous tones. “She’s actually a gym leader, one of the top three of the region, and has only lost eleven out of the hundred gym battles she’d had last season!”
“Conrad!” Florence called the referee to attention, as she watched her Ludicolo regain the last vestiges of perfect health and Vaporeon snooze on, the Hypnosis still under effect.
Snapping out of his battle, he turned towards the field and called out, “Sixth battle: Ludicolo versus Vaporeon! Begin!” as Roni stuttered, “eleven out of a hundred? That’s not possible...”
“Break time’s over, Vapor!” Haley commanded firmly. “Wake up and use Toxic!”
However, Vapor snoozed on atop the floating debris, completely oblivious to the going-ons around him.
“Our turn, Haley,” Florence said, sweeping her silvering hair out of her eyes. “Ludicolo, time for Energy Ball.”
Haley relaxed a bit and laughed, “You’re wasting your breath, Florence! Look at the situ- what the hell?!” She screamed like a banshee as Ludicolo was up on its feet and a growing ball of green energy swelled into being between its hands, aimed at the defenceless Vaporeon.
Florence sighed and smirked, “Honestly, Haley... haven’t you heard of Chesto berries? Just because I can’t sub, doesn’t mean I can’t use held items.”
“She was actually too strong for the Ruova League, so they gave her an official holiday here away from her native Corablue City to work off some of her tension,” Conrad went on to a disbelieving Roni as Ludicolo fired the attack at the snoozing Vapor, still unaware that his Trainer was pleading with him to wake up. “Guess it was too much to ask a former champion body builder to relax... she’s been training her Poliwrath and Lanturn since she got here last month. They were just a Poliwhirl and a Chinchou then...”
The attack hit home with devastating accuracy and Vapor let out a subconscious scream of pain as the Grass type attack sapped the last of his strength, knocking him out in one shot.
Raising his flag towards Florence’s end of the field, Conrad announced, “Vaporeon is unable to battle! Ludicolo wins the sixth match!”
“Score’s level again, Haley,” Florence said nonchalantly as Haley returned Vapor bitterly. “What’s next? Round two for your Aquala?”
“Not quite,” Haley said coldly, switching pokéballs on her holster. “I’ve had enough of you, and this ends NOW! Let’s get them, Tempest!”
“Haven’t you heard of the word ‘surprise’?” Florence muttered in exasperation as she watched Haley’s Transport Pokémon take a corporeal form in the water. “Now I know what’s left. Has anyone told you how hot-headed you are?”
“I am not HOT-HEADED!” Haley screeched, steam literally blowing out her ears. “Ice Beam attack, Tempest!”
“Uh, yeah, you are,” Roni said in an undertone. Just how did I lose to that girl anyways?
He thought in a lost soliloquy.
Sighing once more, Florence commanded her Ludicolo, “Use Nature Power again, Ludicolo.”
Ludicolo gave another bellow as he raised his hands up above his head and waved them again, seemingly to give the Lapras a better target. He then brought his hands down once more as Tempest finished gathering energy to her single horn and fired off what seemed to be a bolt of blue lightning, creating a pair of splashes.
The very water churned as a giant wave rose out of the water in between the Ludicolo and the Ice Beam attack as well as above the latter’s caster threateningly. Tempest’s attack nearly faltered but before Tempest could cancel the attack and dive away, Ice Beam and Surf collided.
“Excellent block, Ludicolo,” Florence commended her Pokémon. “Now use Energy Ball.”
Ludicolo grinned and made to remove his hands from the water but found himself pulling up short. Looking down and letting loose a frightened quacking sound, Ludicolo and Florence saw that the ice from Tempest’s attack had actually overpowered the Surf attack, freezing it (and by extension half of the cove and Ludicolo) fast. The Carefree Pokémon worked its arms furiously as the ice trapped his legs and crept its way up his body.
Ludicolo let loose one final bellow as the ice completed its job and shut Ludicolo in a solid casing of ice.
“Such power...” Florence said in wonder as Haley declared one word: “Psychic.”
Ludicolo and Tempest’s coffee coloured eyes glowed with an ethereal blue light as the Lapras let loose a devastating attack which against the immobilised Water and Grass type worked as effectively as a Fire attack on a Scizor, despite the lack of type effectiveness. Ludicolo was shattered and thrown free from his icy confines across the ring and slamming the brown top of his hat on the rock on which Florence stood, not even noticing the swirls in her Pokémon’s eyes as she returned her valiant Ludicolo with Conrad’s “Ludicolo is unable to battle! Lapras wins the seventh match. Florence has one Pokémon remaining!”
Returning Ludicolo’s pokéball to her waist and letting her fingers run along the top of her pokéballs, Florence let a look of sudden concentration seize her middle-aged features. Smiling at Haley in a devious way, she muttered, “Yes, looks like Empoleon’s my best bet...”
Haley started at the revelation of her opponent’s last battler and turning to Conrad in worry, said, “Isn’t she out of time yet?”
Conrad looked back at her from his watch and said, “She still has seven seconds. And you could swap if you wanted...”
Not wasting a second, Haley raised the pokéball she had gotten from Rachel Savina back on Utopia Island and hastily recalled her Lapras. With a muttered, “At least she could weaken it,” she switched her Pokémon once more and after throwing a white pokéball forwards, Florence’s grin widened as she threw hers.
Haley’s choice was pretty much an obvious call. What wasn’t, however, was Florence’s.
Aquala took to the field once more, treading water as the white beam from Florence’s pokéball formed on the ice revealing what looked like a Lapras, save for a few differences.
For starters, the new Pokémon lacked the Transport Pokémon’s shell or horn. Its eyes were white and a yellow stripe ran through them, meeting on the crown of its head which it turned this way and that. Said stripe ran down its neck and back, stopping near what could be its bottom and dividing its body into brown and pink halves.
Haley’s mouth opened in rage as it squelched forwards on six pink appendages, its ‘ears’ flapping in the early afternoon sun. Giving Haley a cheeky smile, Florence muttered “I can’t believe I actually got you with that one...” and Conrad announced the eighth battle: “Eighth battle: Gastrodon versus Aquala! Begin!”
<Like, what’s wrong, Haley?> Bubbles asked curiously as she watched her Trainer seethe.
“That was just dirty. You knew I never had a choice...” Haley fumed angrily.
“What a cheap shot,” Roni said in distaste. “That shouldn’t be allowed.”
“Florence hasn’t broken any rules,” Conrad overruled them.
“And you did
have a choice,” Florence went on for her referee. “You could have shown some faith in Lapras and kept battling. Hasn’t Mekki taught you to be prepared for anything? Honestly!”
*continued next post*