TEEN: Crossover Battles (Cynthia Carter v. Steven Stone)

Fantastic Fairy Fox
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Re: Crossover Battles [Boreas v. Jolteon]

Hey look, it's Boreas! Well that's, uh, surprising.

I've never actually reviewed anything here before, but I figured as someone who's currently nearing the end of their seventh or eighth read through The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova, I'd give it a go this once for Boreas' sake.

So yeah, I thought Boreas came across very well, and he felt like much the same great glaceon he is in Surprising Adventures. The fact that basically everything that happens is entirely his fault seemed hilariously apt to me, though I did think randomly sending Aqua away so Boreas could do something stupid did seem a little like a plot convenience more than anything else. But otherwise, I loved how he immediately jumped to the conclusion he was supposed to help her get out of the clip, without considering it might not be a good idea. And then went from trying to restrain her to trying to beat her, just because his ego couldn't take being beaten by a child. Yep, definitely the Boreas we know and love!

I've not read A Sine of Things to Come so I can't really comment so much on Jolteon and whether she's appropriately portrayed or not, but judging from everyone else's reaction, I think it's probably fair to say she is. So yeah, I did find her a very interesting character. The thing of not being able to control her powers and really wanting to hurt anyone made quite an interesting twist for someone who doesn't know her from the source material, and definitely made this stand out from the other battles since, at least at first, neither of the combatants meant the other any harm. I presume Jolteon ran from Boreas in the first place because he was scaring her or something, though not knowing her character better, I'm not sure if this is the right way to interpret that or not. Either way, she, as well as probably everyone else, seems very much like a victim more than anything else, which I also very much like. I spent the 'fight' hoping no-one would really get hurt, rather than rooting for either side, which was definitely one of my favourite things about this one.

So yeah, not sure if Crossover 'Battle' is really the right term for it, but anyway it was a great, very entertaining read. Don't really have any complaints, other than the aforementioned plot convenience of getting Aqua out of the way, and the minor nitpick that at the start you say Boreas and Aqua's boat has an engine, then call it a 'sailboat' a couple of lines after (I believe Surprising Adventures specified a sailboat as well, though I may be mistaken). But yeah, as I said, that's just a nitpick. Otherwise, I don't know, it's kind of a shame you didn't get Boreas' 'Frost Concussion' move in, but I can't think of a situation it would really have helped him, so it's not really a problem. I guess I would've liked to see a little more of Aqua, but then again, if Boreas had seen sense sooner, it might have detracted from the action and drama. Plus she more or less makes up for her absence when she knocks him off the pier at the end anyway. So, um, yeah, not sure I have much more to say. Pity I don't have more to say about Jolteon, really, but I guess I'll just have to read A Sine of Things to Come sometime.

Note to self: when lacking experience reviewing, just start rambling, and people will assume you know what you're saying, like maybe even with this sentence tagged on the end.

Edit: Actually, turns out Surprising Adventures specifies the boat has both a sail and an engine, as you wrote. And also is blue, for all that counts. I stand corrected.
 
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The Vulture Queen
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Re: Crossover Battles

Jal'Tai v. Mewtwo (M)


Human history is filled with examples of men who twist the masses behind their own vision to reshape the world through destruction. But when the demagogue has god-like power behind them things can get even more dangerous. Such is the case with Jal'tai (Communication) and Mewtwo (Striking Back: Memoirs of a Clone).

Jal'tai

Long ago, a lone Latios was exiled from the society of the Latii. In order to redeem himself, he set about on an extremely ambitious task: changing the very nature of human-Pokémon interactions in the world. To do this he set about creating a new city in Hoenn named Convergence. In it humans and Pokémon lived in harmony through the provision of human education, social norms, and technology to Pokémon. In order to lead the city, Jal'tai created a new persona for himself: a human named Rolf Whitley. While the city thrived and the Pokémon League prepared to introduce it to the public, Jal'tai grew ever older and more desperate for a successor. When he finally found a potential one he slipped further and further into nefarious means to secure the future of his city before finally slipping away to have his works judged. But, in the end, the nobility of his vision was outstripped by the horrors needed to bring it to fruition.

While Jal’tai prefers not to fight—or even present himself as a human at all—he can bring a savage dragon claw attack out if necessary, capable of knocking out trained Pokémon in one shot. But tapping in to his draconic energy prevents him from accessing his far more potent and dangerous psychic powers.

Jal’tai can teleport across continents in less than a second, suffocate enemies with his telekinesis, and create illusions strong enough to cloak him from psychic-types and his city from the outside world. Furthermore, he possesses The Speech, a gift which allows him to understand and speak any language he desires. The gift is incredibly rare, with only two known living bearers on the planet. But, more applicable to combat, are his ultimate two powers.

Jal’tai can use his mind to twist matter in to different elements. At the far extreme, he can change a creature's species and their connection to the elements. And it's possible he can even use it to create life. However, the process requires a fair bit of forethought and takes several minutes (and excruciating pain) to complete. It also requires a psychic bond to be maintained. Still, it allows him to completely disarm opponents and render them in to whatever state he needs them to be in for his plans.

Equally formidable is his ability to cast opponents in to liasa andielenne. Or, in English, The Walking Dead. Err, the waking death. Sorry.

In this state opponents are paralyzed with their mind locked outside of their brain. Permanent psychic damage can be easily inflicted, but with more effort opponent's memories can be rewritten or banished away. In effect, between the waking death and transformation abilities Jal’tai can change the mind and body of potential enemies in to something harmless and friendly. Between that, teleportation, and illusions he tends to win battles by never having to fight at all.

Still, he has drawbacks. While seldom having to fight is a sign of success in its own right, it means that he's probably rusty in actual combat. Additionally most of his most dangerous moves require psychic domination or some time to complete, which on the battlefield might not always be available. Jal’tai is also old and showing his age in deteriorating psychic and physical abilities. He is also, emphatically, not a god himself. Just a very powerful Pokémon. But when it comes down to it, Jal’tai has an unwavering devotion to his vision and the dubious morals and power to do whatever it takes to see it fulfilled.

Mewtwo

Mewtwo came in to the world awake and thinking, desperately trying to understand the world around him. His first impressions were more or less as follows: he was Mewtwo, he was the clone of one of the most powerful beings in the world and might one day destroy it, and humans were moronic creatures who dared to confine him. In anger he lashed out and destroyed the lab in which he was born, killing dozens and holding up a building in midair in the process.

Afterwards he was taken in and manipulated by Giovanni to become his ultimate slave and killing machine. Mewtwo single-handedly won him dozens of gym battles and even defeated an entire army while wearing armor that limited his power by a factor of around two thousand. As his infamy and power grew, Mewtwo became an ever more useful servant capable of warping the minds of an entire city, stealing hordes of Pokémon, serving as a one-person construction crew, or toppling anyone who dared confront Team Rocket with force. But in time as his curiosity and distrust of Giovanni grew, Mewtwo realized the nature of his situation and escaped in rage.

Furious with Giovanni, and humanity by extension, Mewtwo began the process of exterminating humanity. Learning everything there was to know about modern science in a matter of weeks, Mewtwo became a master of genetics and set about building an army of clone Pokémon to aid him in cleansing the world of Homo sapiens, while he would do the bulk of the work with an apocalyptic storm capable of annihilating every major city on the planet one by one. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for a group of meddling kids and their pesky pink friend.

After battling Mew to a point near death and witnessing the results of his cruelty, Mewtwo had a change of heart and dismantled his would-be empire while trying to repair the damage. In time he set out with his clones to wander the Earth, searching for a place that would take them in.

Mewtwo's powers are many, but they all stem from his mind. He can use precise telekinesis to suspend buildings, create storms, and control elements. He's learned to use his mind to control water, fire, electricity, ice, wind, and earth. Mewtwo can also use the energy of life and death itself to create projectile death spheres and a powerful orb surrounding him that can both provide him with perfect physical protection and cause severe damage to even Mew. Beyond that he can twist the minds of lesser creatures easily, even completely rewriting memories and compelling servitude for months on end. Mewtwo also boasts a handful of other psychic powers—levitation, invisibility, extrasensory, flight, the ability to heal himself and others, and teleportation among them.

But perhaps his most defining trait is his genius. Mewtwo could learn everything he wanted to know about a given discipline during a single night at a library. He's perhaps the foremost expert on genetics on the planet and only slightly less adept at philosophy and military science. He figured out how to defeat new Pokémon species in ridiculously short periods of time, such as learning what a Blastoise was and how to beat it in less than the time it took for a Hydro Pump to cross the battlefield.

Mewtwo's weaknesses are few and difficult to abuse. His primary one is that, while highly intelligent, he is still quite young. Despite having less power Mew nearly beat him simply because it had more experience fighting and knew more tricks. He can also be exceptionally arrogant and prefer to beat opponents in inefficient ways simply to show off. And, after his change of heart, he has all but sworn off lethal violence for good and has pledged to hold back in battle except when absolutely necessary.

Even with that said, Mewtwo is the most dangerous creation of mankind and a potential single-handed apocalypse. Perhaps the most terrifying thing about him is that, if Mew's visions are to be believed, he would have succeeded in wiping out humanity had he not chosen otherwise.


* The Mind's Eye *


Restlessly, the Latios Jal'tai soared, his weary eyes sweeping across the heavily wooded landscape below. He’d done next to nothing else but soar like this for months now, stopping only to tend to his physical needs, never staying in any one place for long. Sometimes it was over sweeping plains, towering mountains, vast oceans or rolling hills. Today though, it was a dense forest, so thick with spruce and pine trees that one could scarcely see the forest for the trees.

As he flew ever onward, Jal'tai allowed his restless mind wander, and in doing so felt for the mental presences of all that inhabited the area. There were several Pokémon present, as would be expected in such a lush arboreal habitat. Birds were perched on the high branches, mainly Pidgey and Spearow from what he could sense, with the occasional sleeping Hoothoot as well. A myriad of bug types clung everywhere, from beneath the soil to the very top of the canopy. Ground and tree-dwelling mammalian species likewise dotted the ecosystem. Naturally there were a few outliers among the inhabitants, but nothing that wouldn't be normal for–

He felt something odd.

Among the great many minds across this forest, even with a usual distribution of outliers, Jal'tai felt a peculiar surge, a distant yet exceptionally bright spark, of psychic energy. It was not entirely unlike his own, or that of another powerful psychic type, such as an Alakazam. His interest piqued, he descended closer to the source to investigate.

It is far from unheard of for certain psychic type Pokémon to travel to isolated locales, to escape the many crammed-in minds of a city and have a place to stop and contemplate. Jal'tai himself had done so on many occasions, such as right now. There have been many times in Jal'tai's past similar to this where he would happen across a lone Kadabra, or Gardevoir, or Medicham, who had taken to the wilderness to meditate in quiet peace. Many of these encounters had also provided the Latios with intriguing conversation, and a few had even joined Jal'tai in the city of Convergence.

Perhaps today would provide another insightful encounter: another diamond of wisdom pulled from the roughness of the world.

As the Latios approached closer to the source of such potent psychic power, he began to notice a few key aspects that made this encounter even more unique than he'd suspected. Even at this distance, he could tell that this mind and its potential capabilities were far beyond anything he'd encountered before, possibly beyond Jal'tai himself–

Like a curious tendril, a mental presence was felt, and the Latios stopped immediately in midair. Just as Jal'tai had been psychically probing the area, this mystery psychic had apparently done the same. Had he been noticed? It was barely a touch, a graze, a mere check to see what might have been out there, but it was a psychic presence nonetheless.

Immediately, the cautious Latios took action and prepared himself. He had no way of knowing if this mystery was hostile or benign, so Jal'tai took every precaution, especially so with a powerful psychic like this one.

With great care and concentration, Jal'tai simultaneously masked his own presence –psychic and conventional sensory alike– and cast an illusion of himself. It was a perfect duplicate of the Latios, complete with an appropriate forged 'psychic image', which he'd used before to conceal his true thoughts from other powerful psychics. Better than most, Jal'tai knew the suspicious, skeptical and inquisitive nature of psychic types, which are so often inclined to probe the minds of others to ascertain the true nature of their conversation partner–

<Hello,> Jal'tai felt the mysterious psychic presence ask, through the illusionary duplicate thank goodness, <Who are you?>

<I was just about to ask you exactly the same question, my friend!> Jal'tai replied jovially through his duplicate puppet.

The Latios could feel the psychic energies from the stranger probing and prodding at the image of the duplicate. All the time, Jal'tai made sure to adjust the image the other received: that of an inquisitive self, who had taken caution to put up a barrier.

<I would guess in most of your encounters you would not need to ask such a question 'who are you?' since you would know well in advance from so far away using such a method.> Jal'tai observed in a matter-of-fact tone that he projected through his puppet.

Cautiously, Jal'tai extended his own mind outward, to get a feel for this inquisitive stranger. Immediately on the surface, he could sense an immense curiosity: it was clear this mysterious stranger had not met one quite like Jal'tai before. At the Latios’ comment, the stranger also betrayed a small twang of embarrassment, that he may have overstepped his bounds.

<I am sorry. I did not mean to pry,> the stranger apologized, <I was simply curious.>

<It is quite alright, as I am just as curious about you.> Jal'tai assured.

As a courtesy, Jal'tai did not delve straight into the mind of this stranger, but continued to observe from outside. Apparently, upon realizing the Latios had put up a psychic disruption to mask his thoughts, and was actively observing, the stranger's curiosity swiftly became suspicion, and took measures to guard its thoughts while simultaneously scrutinizing Jal'tai's projected presence form a distance: like a mind's telescope rather than microscope.

<This mutual psychic scrutiny is well and good, but I believe it would be courteous of one another that we should meet face-to-face, and properly know each other,> Jal'tai suggested.

For a few moments, the other psychic presence seemed to consider the options, weighing them in its fascinatingly complex and swift mind, at least insofar as Jal'tai could tell from his mental vantage point.

<Agreed.>

Satisfied, the Latios was just about to descend into the forest below, when he beheld something unexpected, but not necessarily unprecedented.

The psychic presence of the stranger began to rise off the ground, levitating freely, and soon the presence was joined by the visual image of the stranger itself as it ascended above the forest canopy. It was distant at first, but with his eyes Jal'tai could make out a vaguely bipedal form with a distinct, prominent whip-like tail. As it approached closer, could see that was covered in fine lavender and violet fur, and bore a vaguely feline-like face atop its shoulders, with piercing scrutinizing eyes. It didn't match up with any species Jal'tai knew, which he found astonishing given his vast knowledge on such matters. Truly, in all his long time, the aged Latios had never seen anything quite like the stranger that now hovered before him.

A baritone voice rumbled forth, though the creature did not move its mouth. “You must be one of the Latii, the psychic dragons.” the stranger observed, looking over Jal'tai's form, “I have read about your kind, but haven't yet met a representative in the flesh.”

“Until now, that is!” the Latios' duplicate now said aloud rather than through psychic signal, as his illusion performed a happy loop in midair, “I am Jal'tai, at your service, and to whom do I have the utmost pleasure of speaking with?”

“I am Mewtwo,” the stranger answered.

“As in: Mew, the second?”

“In a manner of speaking.”

“Astounding!”

Now that Mewtwo, as the stranger declared, mentioned it, there were some similarities between itself and the images Jal'tai knew of Mew: the whip-like tail, the vague feline-like features. There were, however, obvious differences between what Jal'tai knew of Mew, and this Mewtwo.

"If it is alright to ask,” Mewtwo began, “why do you guard your mind so closely?”

A strange question, Jal'tai mused, but one he politely answered nonetheless, “It is a usual precaution amongst psychics; I am surprised you don't know of it. Every clever psychic makes sure their guard is always up, especially in the presence of another with such great power” the Latios explained, “It is our way of showing one another that we are a cut above others, that we are mutually prepared not to be taken advantage of by the other.”

“And thus we approach each other as equals...” Mewtwo said, with emotions Jal'tai could vaguely sense as regret and suspicion.

“Precisely!” Jal'tai agreed with a smile and a nod, “and if it is alright for me to ask, what brings such a one as yourself out to these wilds, or into the world at all, if I dare wonder? I'm sure your story is a fascinating one.”

For a long while, Mewtwo considered the question, until it answered, “Very well...”

Over the next several minutes, Mewtwo spoke at length about how it was brought into the world: how it was created in a laboratory by humans who had intended to use the genetically modified Pokémon as a weapon. Later Mewtwo divulged how, disgusted by the purpose humans had thrust upon it, it violently rebelled, and sought revenge. Then Mewtwo mentioned the change-of-heart, brought on in no small part by the intervention of Mew itself. Now Mewtwo wandered the world. Or rather, Mewtwo's purpose was to care for the remnants of what he had created. A noble outlook, Jal'tai supposed, but lacking of vision, of certainty.

Mewtwo never spoke of specifics in the retelling of its life, partly to truncate the life-story for the benefit of time and partly, as Jal'tai suspected at least, because Mewtwo did not entirely trust the Latios floating before it. That was fair enough, Jal'tai supposed, given how he had been so guarded in their encounter.

In turn, Jal'tai spoke of his own ideas to address the Pokémon servitude dilemma that had spurred a young and confused Mewtwo to revenge and violence. He spoke to Mewtwo of cooperation between Pokémon-kind and humanity, and of as his own answer: the city of Convergence that he had founded, where Pokémon are given equal social footing as humans. It was a long, arduous, incredibly long-term method, but ultimately, Jal'tai knew it was more effective than seeking revenge the way Mewtwo had.

Indeed, their methods were nothing if not polar opposites of one another.

And that's when Jal'tai made his pitch: to invite Mewtwo to Convergence, “If it is a purpose you seek, or at least a means to make peace with your mistakes, I know of a way how, if you will let me show you–”

“I thank you for the offer, and the kind consideration, but I believe I will decline.” Mewtwo said suddenly, holding up one of his slender three-fingered hands, “I am content to find my own way”

“Why?” Jal'tai asked, taken aback by the abruptness of the other's answer, “Whatever is the matter?”

“I have met those who speak eloquently of ideals, of fantastic plans, and who fiercely guard their minds as you do.” there again was the same combination of regret and suspicion bubbling past Mewtwo's psyche, but now directed at Jal'tai, “They were... troublesome.”

“I don't understand. I offer you no such deception–”

The speech of Jal'tai's illusionary duplicate was cut short, as Mewtwo had swiftly and easily dispelled it. “No such deception... really? What exactly are you hiding, Jal'tai?”

There was a sudden moment of panic with the aged Latios. In the wake of his shattered illusion, Mewtwo had traced the connection back –following the psychic strings of that puppet, in a sense– and found where Jal'tai truly was! At once, the visible and psychic cloak was stripped away, and the psychic dragon was left with a sudden embarrassed terror, like many humans feel when they've been caught naked.

At once, Mewtwo drove his psychic presence headlong into Jal'tai's own. The sensation was akin to a psychic battering ram, crashing through the defenses Jal'tai had hastily put up, and for a time Mewtwo had free reign of the dragon's mind. Mewtwo's presence in the Jal'tai's consciousness mind was alarmingly swift and single-minded, like that a of a thief after one specific set of thoughts. Jal'Tai, acting quickly, did his best to conceal them. But Mewtwo still found some things, unsavory episodes he would have preferred left unknown.

With a sudden burst of outrage and indignity, Jal'tai summoned up the will to expel the intrusion from his mind. Mewtwo hardly resisted though, as the damage had been done: Mewtwo knew enough.

“How dare you!” Jal'tai shouted, “That was absolutely uncalled for!”

He knew Mewtwo had seen enough of his memories to know some of the methods Jal'tai had to use to keep order. He couldn't know how many Mewtwo was aware of, but it was clearly enough to send Mewtwo in to his own fit of outrage.

“I believe it was perfectly acceptable behavior, considering what you've done...”

At this, Mewtwo called up images, as well as thoughts and emotions, of the several Pokémon and humans that Jal'tai was forced to manipulate: who's minds had to be tweaked, memories rewritten. He felt their anger again when they refused, felt their fear when confined, and felt their utter terror as they were subject to the 'walking death' state.

Mewtwo fumed, his mind swirling with righteous anger, and his physical form hovering threateningly closer to Jal'tai now, <They trusted you!>

The psychic link Mewtwo had forced sent information both ways, however. For all of Mewtwo's immense power and sharp intellect, the mind itself was that of a child, complete with a juvenile sense of right and wrong.

“It is far more complex than you make it out to be, Mewtwo.” Jal'tai began to explain “Try to understand–”

Mewtwo dispelled the horrible memories from their psyches <Very well. I will see this place you call Convergence and make my judgment there.>

A sudden fear engulfed Jal'tai, accompanied by an equally sudden rage. Not only was this Mewtwo a petty child at heart, but possessed more than enough power and resolve to do exactly as he declared, if left to do so...

“You will do no such thing!” Jal'tai bellowed, drawing on all the psychic energy he could muster, “I won't allow it!”

At once the dragon began charging a powerful packet of psychic energy in his mouth. Seeing an attack was being prepared, Mewtwo immediately counterattacked, firing a projectile of concentrated ghost energy at Jal'tai. The instant the shadow ball connected, several dozen duplicate images of Jal'tai appeared all around Mewtwo, and the projectile passed harmlessly through the false image.

The dragon could easily sense Mewtwo as it furiously sought out the true Jal'tai, and every time it did, a shadow ball was fired, and it passed through. In truth, Mewtwo did in-fact sense Jal'tai's true presence every single time, but every time it happened, the dragon would simply teleport himself to replace one of the other images, leaving only an illusionary duplicate behind.

This had bought enough time for Jal'tai to finish charging this powerful attack, and subsequently unleash it. With a savage scream, a brilliant beam of pure radiating white sprung from the dragon's mouth aimed squarely at Mewtwo.

Unable to discern which Jal'tai was the real one in time to counterattack, Mewtwo placed a defensive barrier around itself: a sphere of protection to catch and deflect the brunt of the incoming attack. At this, Jal'tai quietly smirked to himself, because a defense like this is precisely what he was trying to bait out of Mewtwo.

The dragon's blazing white beam struck the spherical shroud of protection surrounding Mewtwo, and for a moment held up normally. Then the barrier began to flicker, and Jal'tai sensed a flash of worry from Mewtwo. It prompted a further strengthening of the barrier from Mewtwo

The attack was a technique unique to the Latii known to some as 'Luster Purge': a mighty torrent of psychic energy specifically attuned to break apart barriers like Mewtwo was using now, as well as other defenses, including defenses of the mind.

Under the assault of Luster Purge, Mewtwo's mental defenses faltered, and the opposing psychic was concentrating hard enough on maintaining the barrier that the mind was now left open.

The dragon would not dare attack Mewtwo's mind directly though, since that would be a completely foolhardy endeavor given just how powerful of a mind this one had. A direct psychic assault would just wind up turning the tables on Jal'tai and leave him at Mewtwo's mercy. No, another method was required. Rather than attacking the mind directly, Jal'tai would instead target the physical place where the mind resided: the brain.

This all happened in but a fraction of a moment.

Reaching out with his precise telekinesis, Jal'tai concentrated on the blood flowing through Mewtwo's brain: on the liquid plasma, and platelets and blood cells that coursed through the powerful psychic's veins and arteries, carrying that precious cargo of oxygen to such mighty neurons. Once he had the blood –the blood plasma fluid medium specifically– in his psychic grasp, Jal'tai simply made a few key alterations to the molecular structure, and at once all of the blood in Mewtwo's brain became solid, swiftly forming impassible crystalline roadblocks that spread all throughout the psychic's cranium–

A blast of energy struck Jal'tai, which sent him careening away as he clutched himself in pain.

<Enough!> Mewtwo fumed as he neared the dragon, gathering another mass of deadly energy between those stubby hands, <This ends now–>

The psychic speech Mewtwo favored suddenly winked off Jal'tai's mind, the sphere of energy in the psychic's hands snuffed out, and the light behind those angry piecing eyes started to flicker wildly. A sense of urgent, uncertain panic sprang from Mewtwo's mind: a mind that was now swiftly deteriorating. Not a moment later, the powerful but now crippled psychic plummeted from from the sky into the forest below, having lost the capacity to levitate and fly.

Ah yes, it's working, Jal'tai thought smugly to himself as he followed Mewtwo down through the forest canopy to the ground, a 'stroke' of luck, one might say.

Starved of oxygen, the neurons in one's brain will quickly cease to function properly, causing a stroke. In the case of a powerful psychic like Mewtwo, a simple stroke would cause a few problems with their psychic abilities, which could one could easily treat by oneself. When the entire oxygen supply to the brain has been cut off however, as was the case with Mewtwo now, a mass stroke across the entire central nervous system would arise, completely sabotaging all functions controlled by the brain, from simple motor control, up to and including powerful psychic abilities. This condition would rapidly deteriorate as more and more neurons malfunctioned, and ultimately kill the victim when vital neural functions ceased, such as the heart pumping blood.

As Jal'tai descended further down, retracing Mewtwo's ungraceful drop to the forest floor, he sensed the psychic was still alive, and more-or-less stable, if in a precarious position. When he finally did see Mewtwo, the creature was battered and bruised, and had knelt down, using a tree for support. Breath came for the psychic in shuddering uneven breaths, and the angry piercing eyes now betrayed a true sense of fear.

As Jal'tai suspected, Mewtwo had an exceptionally hardy nervous and cardiovascular system, which still functioned, even in such a dangerously oxygen-deprived and obstructed state. In truth, Mewtwo was now in a balancing act for its own life. On the one hand, Mewtwo contended with fluctuating, unreliable psychic abilities, yet was required to use these same fickle abilities to try desperately to diagnose itself, while forcing other vital neurons to continue operating despite the lack of a normal oxygen source.

The dragon was quite impressed how Mewtwo could hang on, still fight back, and even speak in this state. Truly, this was a marvelous creature, and in many ways Jal'tai was relieved it had not succumbed so easily.

“What...” Mewtwo uttered in its true, astonishingly weak sounding voice, unable to send psychic signals as it was used to, “What have you done?”

<You impetuous child!> Jal'tai scolded, bombarding Mewtwo's crippled psyche with his rage, <Do not ever mock my vision, and do not ever threaten my city! Shame on you, Mewtwo, who knows absolutely nothing of my vision, to have the audacity to claim to know better!>

To Jal'tai's surprise, Mewtwo stood up on its own power. He could still sense the distressed psychic grappling with the mass stroke, still fighting it despite how much trouble it was clearly causing. That was fine: Jal'tai didn't need Mewtwo dead, or even maimed, he just needed this child-run-amok to listen, and understand.

“I had to make difficult choices, yes,” the dragon explained, “for the good of Convergence, for the good of all who live their happy lives there. I'm not proud that I was forced to, but they were necessary, and I am proud that my city endures because of it.”

“You have made... unacceptable choices... with your power..."

“A good-natured, but ultimately naive sentiment, my friend.” Jal'tai replied with a weary sigh, “Rather than barge into my city and unravel it at the seams –as you want to– let me take you there, and show you just what I'm trying to accomplish. Then, maybe, you will understand.”

With little more than a thought, Jal'tai teleported them both to his city.

*

After a rush of light and a violent separation from the world, Mewtwo fell into a listless state of sleepy darkness. The lobby of the underworld, perhaps, a step away from Charon’s dreary embarkation point. Yet things slowly came in to focus once more as the pain faded and everything came back together. But a vague fog remained, obscuring his path into the darkness. How had he become hurt? In time, vague memories surfaced—a blue dragon was tied to the pain—and after a minute of reflection he recalled all but the final few seconds of how he came to be here… here.

The new location was a marked contrast from the forest where Mewtwo’s body had previously resided. A quick psychic glance revealed that it was a windswept concrete slab suspended high above the earth by a system of concrete and metal. The humans called it a skyscraper, a type of building. Surrounding the building was more evidence of human activity, including several more buildings and streets paved over so that the human vehicles could move over them. It was not a particularly unusual scene for a human settlement, but it made little sense that a Pokémon would take him there. Unless, of course, the Pokémon was under the employ of humans.

Yet another mental scan revealed no sign of Giovanni or Team Rocket, or even much evidence that the residents had heard of them. Perhaps it was another of Mewtwo’s competitors from somewhere far away? That was still plausible. And, with time to prepare their strategies and weapons, they could perhaps prove dangerous. For the first time since his battle with Mew, Mewtwo realized that his situation could potentially be threatening. It was a disturbing and thrilling thought, igniting some ruthless passion deep inside that he had almost convinced himself had never been there. Indeed, perhaps they had already badly wounded him.

After the second of analysis, Mewtwo turned around to find the blue dragon—Jal’tai, his name was Jal’tai—slowly revealing himself to the clone. He balanced himself almost effortlessly despite the cold winds around them. His expression was difficult to read, but Mewtwo sensed that it might be excited, nervous.

<Perhaps we have started off on the wrong foot,> the dragon mused. <I could give you a tour of this fine city, if you would like—show you a better way for humans and Pokémon to interact.>

Initially confused by the remark—this was, after all, a human city—Mewtwo reached out and felt the city once more. There were far more Pokémon roaming than he would have initially expected, easily exceeding the number of humans. And, strangest of all, they appeared to have abandoned their own instincts and customs and tried to live as humans did. He watched them use human machinery, saw a room full of young Pokémon learning as human children typically did, dine in the way humans did…

One part was becoming clearer. The dragon had a vision, and he had disliked the vision and it had led to blows. But how had he gotten knocked out? And had the dragon healed him? Why?

“So this is your vision?” Mewtwo asked at last, deciding to set his questions aside until he had a more reliable person to question. “A world where Pokémon are ‘liberated’ so that they may become humans in all but appearance? Are you aware of what this would cost the world in resources, much less potential cultural decline from wiping out the customs of hundreds of species? This is what you expected me to forfeit my beliefs in awe of?”

“Entrance in to the city is entirely optional, of course. And the vision extends past the city itself. Once humans become accustomed to the idea that Pokémon are their intellectual equals, the current system of gladiatorial slavery shall collapse. Now, it might take an extra push here or there in the meantime, but the mere existence of a city such as this will eventually bring about change.”

“And that is precisely what concerns me,” Mewtwo stated as he finished visually surveying the city and made eye contact with Jal’tai. “The push. Are creatures such as you or I really fit to impose our will upon the world? Power, knowledge, and morality do not necessarily come together, yet those with power routinely ignore this reality. While this city itself does no harm so long as residence is voluntary, the scope of the vision underlying it and the power devoted to its fulfillment is disturbing.”

After a long pause, Jal’tai spoke.

“Very well, then. I am truly sorry for this, but you must be persuaded.”

The world was abruptly plunged in to near total darkness, with the only distinct shape being the dragon, now brightly illuminated in gold, with all-consuming, ever-dark eyes. Physical reality began to fade as the only thing that remained were thoughts and the golden, eyeless dragon. Within seconds Mewtwo was left with only his mind, entirely separated from his body, including the brain.

He reached out through the darkness and observed his own brain for the first time and watched as it was attacked in the same way he had manipulated others. And then he realized his way out.

Mewtwo struck back in to his own brain and almost instantly felt the dragon’s mental presence begin to falter. He slowly undid the changes, bringing his mind back in to its natural home, however odd it felt. With every strike he made Jal’tai attempted to fight back, but the dragon’s mental grasp was far less powerful than the onslaught of the clone’s mind. After a minute of mental combat, Jal’tai withdrew entirely. Mewtwo quickly regained control of his mind and body, only to immediately witness the dragon rushing towards him and tearing them both away from the rooftop in another flash of light.

*

“Residence of Convergence!”

The amplified voice thundered across the town square with a volume that suggested either some sort of psychic or elemental manipulation or very large mechanical speakers. Mewtwo almost lost focus as he rose to his full height and analyzed his surroundings with his eyes and mind. He was in the heart of the dragon’s urban dream, surrounded by throngs of all species gathered to gawk at the newcomers and assess the unfolding events.

On one side of the black river of pavement: An elderly human male holding a microphone and shouting through it to the crowds. On the other: a large, bipedal humanoid with pink skin and a bulbous tail. Both had arrived abruptly and unexpectedly, and their twin presence left the crowd confused and desperately rushing for answers to shoo away the darkness of ignorance.

“Today a dire threat to our way of life has appeared in our city. We must act now! Attack this creature before he can destroy us all!”

There was a wave of uneasiness and hesitation in the crowd at first, and a few particularly hot-headed Pokémon almost instantly tried to fire off attacks at Mewtwo, but they collided harmlessly against a quickly formed shield of death. Enraged, the clone tried desperately to calm himself but increasingly found that he could not in the face of such a callous and foolhardy opponent. Perhaps the dragon could stand against his wrath, but no one else in this town could survive his true power. Claiming to care about their well-being only to do something like this! It negated any claims that Jal’tai put his city above his vision. In one simple stroke, any reservation of judgment was lost.

Yet Mewtwo did his best to project out calm and questioning over the crowd despite his rage and certainty. And they responded. Almost as soon as Jal’tai had riled up the masses they were sedated and left to question their leader and his intentions.

“Go.” Mewtwo intoned. Almost instantly a Breloom bolted, followed by the fastest of Pokemon and then the humans and slower species until eventually the once-bustling street was a barren desert of activity surrounded by an iron-shelled oasis of moving bodies.

“I—look, I can explain—“

The human, or illusion of a human as Mewtwo suspected, indeed tried to explain. But the clone wasn’t listening. Instead his mind jumped in and out of the retreating creatures, looking for certain memories. He started with a simple one: a golden dragon with black eyes. The memory was uncommon and often suppressed, somewhat impressively even, but ultimately existent and accessible. It had been repeated on various creatures that Mayor Whitley, Jal’tai—whatever he referred to himself as—had deemed vital to his vision and unlikely to be reformed.

Poking further revealed a more complex portrait, as Mewtwo would later find himself admitting at points late at night. The power was seldom used—perhaps three times in far more years—and in the end the dragon always seemed to regret it. But then he came across a sealed portion of his own memories and tore away the fog, reconstructing the sensation in the same perfect detail he had first experienced it. And that image, of the dragon standing over him victorious and smug, that sealed his approach. He saw a world cast in the same black-and-white lens he had used for so long. The lens that made violence not only possible but attractive.

He was, for the first time since he last met Giovanni, staring down a truly evil man. One with power and resources and ambition that could change the world for the worse, whatever anyone else thought, and the intention of using them all to bring about his dream.

Mewtwo looked back at the mayor with his eyes, but simultaneously sensed something rushing straight at the cords on the back of his neck. In one swift telekinetic motion he thrust out the air around him, creating a blast powerful enough to take down the building behind him and blast debris for miles. He turned to see the dragon crash in to the collapsing spire of iron and concrete before instantly warping away. Mewtwo simply raised his hand and froze the falling rubble in place before teleporting it to the outskirts of the city where it could collapse with minimal disruption.

“You have nothing to explain, Jal’tai. You have bullied the weak in to your own designs, stealing away freedom and memory to fulfill your personal ambitions. And now, now you have come across a being powerful enough to punish you and you, in arrogance or ignorance, provoked it. No, I understand this situation perfectly now. But I think you need things put in to perspective.”

Mewtwo flicked his tail and a violet sphere surrounded both psychics. It would prevent escape, leaving the bird at the mercy of the ruthless predator before it. He felt Jal’tai shiver in the air behind him and a sadistic smirk crept on to his face, however much his more rational side loathed its presence. It meant that, for all of his progress and meditation and attempts to move on, the spectre of Giovanni still underpinned his existence. But in that moment he was still too swept up in his own quest for stopping the embodiment of all he had come to loathe about himself to back down.

Spears of asphalt and earth shot out of the ground and in to the sky, dashing towards Jal’tai wherever he went in an unending wave of the earth’s wrath. The dragon flew higher and higher in to the sky to avoid them, occasionally warping somewhere else in increasingly desperate and pathetic flashes of light but ultimately he was struck. The earth only ground against his wing for a second before it collapsed back to its source. But the dragon found no rest as he was promptly pierced by a crossbow bolt of lightning followed by a dozen arrows of fire. Yet as soon as the fire impacted against his skin the air around him condensed in to water. Water met fire and birthed steam in an explosion of heat and air. And as soon as the heat dissipated, a burst of frost rushed in to fill the vacuum, at last dragging the dragon to the broken remains of the earth.

It took far too much effort for him to raise his head and see the clone towering before him, staring in to a spiraling sphere of death with singular focus.

And Mewtwo was, indeed, as focused as he had ever been, albeit not upon the death sphere itself. He picked his words carefully and projected them aloud through the vibrating air.

“You may now pledge to undo the harm you have caused and live without imposing your will on creatures helpless to resist it. Or you may now find yourself obliterated now and save me the trouble of doing it later.”

It was a threat, and hopefully an empty one. With Jal’tai humiliated and battered, he had no intention of inserting his own power further to destroy him. He should have learned his lesson, and the simple fear of a being he could not hope to match in power should force him in to compliance and atonement. The stroke had been a lucky shot while he was holding back. Jal’tai would get no such mercy again.

After a moment of quiet contemplation, the dragon collapsed further on to the ground. You win, he responded. I will leave this city.

“A wise decision,” Mewtwo affirmed. As he dropped the shield and prepared to leave the city for good, there was an odd tugging sensation around his eyelid. Curious and cautious, he turned his gaze inside of himself and observed that—while most things were functioning as they did perpetually, and would until such time as he was in no condition to observe them, some were slowly changing as cells warped in to other cells and his biology, the ultimate core of identity, was changed in to something else. After another moment of observation, his suspicions were confirmed: his enemy’s psychic energy was causing the changes.

In a burst of irritation and fear Mewtwo lashed out and knocked Jal’tai unconscious, causing him to slump more fully on to the ground as rest brutally overwhelmed him and dragged him in to its healing shadows. And above the sleeping giant Mewtwo stood, gazing at his closed eyes and relaxed and battered wings and wondering whether the eyes should remain closed and the wings relaxed and battered. Who was he to play executioner? He who had done unspeakable things and ultimately come out for the better? How could he accept mercy each day without bestowing the same to one who had done so much less?

But, no, that creature would never learn. He had seen the innermost workings of dozens of species and led them for years without faltering. In the end, he would keep lashing out against whomever he needed to—be they men, Pokémon, or physical gods—in order to secure his vision. There was no stopping him, no reasoning. Perhaps a better person could have shown him the truth and changed his ways, but Mewtwo knew he was not that person. Evil existed in the world and, when confronted with it so directly, he had an obligation to stop it in the only means he knew how.

With one final flutter, the heart of Jal’tai bid the world adieu.

*

And that's game.

Mewtwo's powers are fairly clear, since they are clearly explained in-story and most operate under the standard rules of physics. As such we can calculate Mewtwo's force. Early on in the story, Giovanni mentions that Mewtwo lifted (with ease) "megatons." Then he puts on a suit of psychic-dampening armor and lifts, barely, a three ton bulldozer. By the time he finishes training he has reached his pre-armor strength while encumbered. If we assume that the building Mewtwo lifts at the start of the story is fairly low on the "megatons" spectrum—around three—we can conclude that the armor limits his power a thousand-fold. If he can then have that applied to his initial power, he ends up being able to exert a psychic force of billions of tons with precision. And this is a very conservative estimate.

He also manages to create a hurricane and sustain it with his mind while fighting in intense psychic combat. Since Mewtwo's powers are based in physics, death spheres aside, we can use the energy in a hurricane to calculate his heat/electrical powers limits. Even if it was a standard hurricane, which is a very low estimate because this is a storm meant to annihilate humanity, Mewtwo would still be capable of manipulating more than five times the energy humankind used in 1990... while he's distracted.

His psychic limits and intelligence are a bit less clear, but he is fully capable of learning everything human science has to offer in a matter of weeks. He also easily overpowered an Alakazam's mind in a matter of seconds while wearing his power-limiting armor. So it's safe to say that his mental abilities are more or less unmeasurable by human standards.

His opponent’s limits are much less clear since Jal’tai prefers not to fight. So we had to approach this fight by looking at his strengths and seeing if Mewtwo could overcome them. In physical combat the answer is almost certainly yes, particularly since using Dragon Claw and similar attacks would leave Jal’tai wide open for psychic counter-attacks given how elements work in Communication. Mewtwo is absurdly fast, capable of figuring out what a Blastoise is and how to beat it by the time a Hydro Pump crosses a battlefield while his powers are encumbered. He easily dodges or deflects strikes from the fastest Pokémon in Kanto while encumbered and there is no evidence that Jal’tai is so astoundingly fast that he could make up for the enormous power that Mewtwo has. So if Jal’tai won, it would be through the waking death or physical manipulation.

The waking death has a very big vulnerability, though, in that it works by sequestering the victim's mind from their body. While ordinarily great, Mewtwo's powers work by attacking the opponent's brain as Striking Back: Memoirs of a Clone takes a very physics and biology based approach to explaining the Pokémon world. If his mind were somehow removed from his body, while still remaining in existence, Mewtwo could presumably just attack his own brain and fix the problem. The only reason he can't observe and change his brain in-story is that his mind is there. Remove that and, well...

Even if we don't use that argument as to why he could shut down the waking death, psychic power differences do. Jal’tai has his manipulation noticed and undone by the casual gaze of an Alakazam with a few minutes work. Mewtwo is far, far more powerful than an Alakazam (by at least a factor of two thousand) so even if Jal’tai succeeded in subjecting him to mental manipulation, it would likely be almost instantly undone. And the chances of getting Mewtwo's mental defenses down to a point where they can be altered in the first place are low. Even Mew, a creature with a power level equivalent to Mewtwo, couldn't break his defenses down to a point where it could do anything but taunt him.

However, Mewtwo does not have a good answer to physical manipulation. But that might not even matter. The reverse process takes several minutes, and we have no real evidence that the forward process takes much shorter since it is stated to be painful (meaning it has time to be felt) and is normally done when the victim is under. Maybe Jal’tai could try to do it once since Mewtwo would not expect something so physically impossible, but after that he would notice any change well before it could complete and have a chance to respond. And since it takes a mental link to uphold, that response would likely reverse the process.

In short, Jal’tai is clever and a skilled illusionist. And from what we can tell, he is very powerful. But he just can't hold a candle to the walking apocalypse that is Mewtwo.


Jal’tai v. Mewtwo

Project Manager: Melissa et al.
Assistant Writer: @chaos_Leader
Consultant: @Arkadelphiak

Based on characters created by @Sike Saner and @Dai.


Next time:

SS v. TS
 
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Equally formidable is his ability to cast opponents in to liasa andielenne. Or, in English, The Walking Dead. Err, the waking death. Sorry.
I snorfled so hard it propelled me backward a few good inches.

I should probably mention I'm in an office chair on a hard floor.

A baritone voice rumbled forth, though the creature did not move its mouth. “You must be one of the Latii, the psychic dragons.” the stranger observed, looking over Jal'tai's form, “I have read about your kind, but haven't yet met a representative in the flesh.”

“Until now, that is!” the Latios' duplicate now said aloud rather than through psychic signal, as his illusion performed a happy loop in midair
Jal'tai, that is adorable. You know that's adorable and that's precisely why you're doing it, isn't it, you overgrown featherduster you.

And that's when Jal'tai made his pitch: to invite Mewtwo to Convergence, “If it is a purpose you seek, or at least a means to make peace with your mistakes, I know of a way how, if you will let me show you–”

“I thank you for the offer, and the kind consideration, but I believe I will decline.”
Despite his best efforts, Jal'tai had left a small but fatal crack in his mental armor:

Mewtwo had learned how horrible the schoolchildren were.

“I have met those who speak eloquently of ideals, of fantastic plans, and who fiercely guard their minds as you do.”
"Also, I have read the Well-Intentioned Extremist page on TvTropes."

“I don't understand. I offer you no such deception–”

The speech of Jal'tai's illusionary duplicate was cut short, as Mewtwo had swiftly and easily dispelled it. “No such deception... really? What exactly are you hiding, Jal'tai?”
LOL OWNED

This had bought enough time for Jal'tai to finish charging this powerful attack, and subsequently unleash it. With a savage scream, a brilliant beam of pure radiating white sprung from the dragon's mouth aimed squarely at Mewtwo.
Jal'tai used Hyper Chuckle!

Reaching out with his precise telekinesis, Jal'tai concentrated on the blood flowing through Mewtwo's brain: on the liquid plasma, and platelets and blood cells that coursed through the powerful psychic's veins and arteries, carrying that precious cargo of oxygen to such mighty neurons. Once he had the blood –the blood plasma fluid medium specifically– in his psychic grasp, Jal'tai simply made a few key alterations to the molecular structure, and at once all of the blood in Mewtwo's brain became solid, swiftly forming impassible crystalline roadblocks that spread all throughout the psychic's cranium–
+arbitrarylargenumber points for really fuckin' cool application of transfiguration. :D

Truly, this was a marvelous creature, and in many ways Jal'tai was relieved it had not succumbed so easily.
That's right, Fluffystuff. Go ahead and admire your opponent. That has absolutely never backfired on anyone in the history of ever.

“So this is your vision?” Mewtwo asked at last, deciding to set his questions aside until he had a more reliable person to question. “A world where Pokémon are ‘liberated’ so that they may become humans in all but appearance? Are you aware of what this would cost the world in resources, much less potential cultural decline from wiping out the customs of hundreds of species? This is what you expected me to forfeit my beliefs in awe of?”
Mewtwo, I could hug you right now.

On one side of the black river of pavement
"Black river of pavement". I like that.

Yet Mewtwo did his best to project out calm and questioning over the crowd despite his rage and certainty. And they responded. Almost as soon as Jal’tai had riled up the masses they were sedated and left to question their leader and his intentions.

“Go.” Mewtwo intoned, and almost instantly the fastest of Pokémon began to run away, followed by the humans and slower species until eventually the once-bustling street was a barren desert of activity surrounded by an iron shelled oasis of moving bodies.
Yeah I'd be inclined to obey Psychic Death Cat over Colonel Fucking Sanders, too.

Mewtwo flicked his tail and a violet sphere surrounded both psychics. It would prevent escape, leaving the bird at the mercy of the ruthless predator before it.
I am now helplessly imagining Jal'tai as a huge budgie and it is glorious.


Sorry, Featherbag, but I was rooting against you the entire time. 8D It's nothing personal--I'd just have had to call bullshit if Mewfreakingtwo COULDN'T handle a geriatric birdplanething.


This was gorgeously thought out--I enjoyed the post-fight breakdown as much as the actual confrontation itself. Loved it. :D
 
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@Sike Saner
Glad you liked it.

A question I never asked but bothered me throughout this entire process: what are the character's possessive pronouns? Jal'Tai's? Jal'Tais? Jal'Tai'? I never could figure that out, although I might have missed an instance of it (or many—I kind of read the story, then realized it was getting used in a battle I was working on so I wasn't taking my usual absurd notes).
 
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@Sike Saner
Glad you liked it.

A question I never asked but bothered me throughout this entire process: what are the character's possessive pronouns? Jal'Tai's? Jal'Tais? Jal'Tai'? I never could figure that out, although I might have missed an instance of it (or many—I kind of read the story, then realized it was getting used in a battle I was working on so I wasn't taking my usual absurd notes).
For the record: Jal'tai's. Two apostrophes. E.g. "Jal'tai's big dumb airplane wings keep knocking shit over."
 
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A baritone voice rumbled forth, though the creature did not move its mouth. “You must be one of the Latii, the psychic dragons.” the stranger observed, looking over Jal'tai's form, “I have read about your kind, but haven't yet met a representative in the flesh.”

“Until now, that is!” the Latios' duplicate now said aloud rather than through psychic signal, as his illusion performed a happy loop in midair
Jal'tai, that is adorable. You know that's adorable and that's precisely why you're doing it, isn't it, you overgrown featherduster you.
I can't help it. Every time I write for Pokemon they end up being adorable: first an Eevee/Jolteon, now a lying manipulative Latios (as opposed Latias, which normally gets the adorableness treatment. If I keep this up, pretty soon I'll be writing an adorable Aggron! XD

This had bought enough time for Jal'tai to finish charging this powerful attack, and subsequently unleash it. With a savage scream, a brilliant beam of pure radiating white sprung from the dragon's mouth aimed squarely at Mewtwo.
Jal'tai used Hyper Chuckle!
Heh, Heh, Heh!

Reaching out with his precise telekinesis, Jal'tai concentrated on the blood flowing through Mewtwo's brain: on the liquid plasma, and platelets and blood cells that coursed through the powerful psychic's veins and arteries, carrying that precious cargo of oxygen to such mighty neurons. Once he had the blood –the blood plasma fluid medium specifically– in his psychic grasp, Jal'tai simply made a few key alterations to the molecular structure, and at once all of the blood in Mewtwo's brain became solid, swiftly forming impassible crystalline roadblocks that spread all throughout the psychic's cranium–
+arbitrarylargenumber points for really fuckin' cool application of transfiguration. :D
Pulled that play from the classic Superhero/Villain handbook: If you can't take down your opponent in a head-to-head fight, don't. You kick out the powers/other unfair advantages the other guy has first, then take 'em down. Given what Jal'tai was capable of, and tat Mewtwo hasn't dealt with something quite like it yet, it made perfect sense: a stroke of genius. I'm glad you approve!

Sorry, Featherbag, but I was rooting against you the entire time. 8D It's nothing personal--I'd just have had to call bullshit if Mewfreakingtwo COULDN'T handle a geriatric birdplanething.


This was gorgeously thought out--I enjoyed the post-fight breakdown as much as the actual confrontation itself. Loved it. :D
I'm glad you like it! Melissa et al was pretty convinced from the start that it would be a landslide victory. I cold see the potential however to shake things up a bit, to at least give a fleeting hope of a victory for the other guy, albeit through an artificial blood-clot of doom.

Hope everybody's ready for the next battle, Coming soon!
 
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Sandy Samson vs. Timothy Skeevich (T)

Every action packed journey story has its motivated, powerful protagonists that defeat Gym Leaders one by one and fight the villains tooth and nail. But what about their friends? These people stick by their side through thick and thin, facing many of the same horrors in the background. Today, Sandy Samson (How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps) and Tim Skeevich (Unpredictable) get their own story.

Sandy Samson

Sandy’s story began when she ran away from her abusive father alongside her Butterfree. After falling out of a tree on top of good ol’ Alaska Acevedo, the two became fast friends. Since she ran away from home, she couldn’t legally register for gym battles, so she thought she wasn't going to have anything to do. Then she ran into Alaska and was inspired to keep traveling in order to see what the world had to offer.

After she started traveling officially with Alaska, Sandy mostly wanted to please her, having grown up in an abusive relationship and not wanting to be abandoned or lonely again. She was originally in awe of Alaska but was also partly afraid of her, as she never knew how she would react. However, Sandy stayed with her largely because she enjoyed traveling, she didn't want to end up alone, and, eventually, valued Alaska's friendship. That meant that she didn't want to keep being a sidekick, and became more resentful and annoyed after Alaska kept sidelining or excluding her. After several ill-timed arguments, Sandy and Alaska are now on even ground and their relationship is its strongest yet.

After all the hell they have been through, Sandy is not as cheerful as she once was, but still holds onto a bit of optimism that the future will eventually get better and that Alaska will be able to win against their threats. Her biggest concern now is that, now that she has forced Alaska to accept her as an equal, that she will end up being a liability. Sandy's concern is that she hasn't trained her Pokémon enough and won't be able to help, and her goal is to strengthen her Pokémon and create her own super team. In addition to her Butterfree, her team includes the giant Onix, the timid Weepinbell, the junior Pichu and the recently evolved Sylveon.

Sandy is an optimistic, excitable battler, but has been known to frequently battle self-doubt on and off the battlefield.

Timothy Skeevich

Tim is a promising young trainer from Pallet Town. Alongside his best friend Keith, he’s taken down six of Kanto’s gyms at the time of this story and earned eight badges, in addition to fighting Team Rocket on multiple occasions. But, for the sake of balance, we're using a version of him taken from his time in Fuschia City, when he only had five badges and a few Rocket battles under his belt.

He fights with excitement and dedication, motivated by his sense of right and wrong and his childhood dream to be the very best trainer, like no one ever was. Despite all of this, his friends tend to be stronger and more experienced than him. He just doesn’t have the angst to keep up with their vengeful crusade. Instead, he gets by on being optimistic and lighthearted, but never goes easy on himself.

Tim’s team is typical for a journey fic trainer. He has his starter, Charmeleon, the reliable fallback Beedrill, a Victreebel, a Haunter, a young Cubone, along with his newest acquisition: a Gyarados.

Despite the fact that his friends often outshine him, his strength comes from the fact that he is always training to keep up with them. His battling style plays to the strengths of his Pokémon as best as possible. He often makes use of premeditated strategies, but prefers letting his Pokémon do what they do best.

Similar to Sandy, his weaknesses come simultaneously from tendencies to doubt himself and overestimate himself. He tries very hard to be the ideal hero, but it’s just not who he is. That said, he is a worthy trainer.

* Conquering Predictability *


The smell of fish hung in the air everywhere you went in Fuchsia City. It seemed to be the only viable business in the area. As she walked towards the beach, Sandy could see the boats bobbing on the surface of the grey-tinged ocean, vessels in varying sizes but nearly equal states of decay.

“This poor city,” Sandy mumbled, watching a pair of silver haired men loading supplies into a boat that clearly had been white one day, but was now largely just rust. “I don’t know how they survive.”

“Free Free.” Her Butterfree was floating carefree in her wake, staring at the boats with her large red eyes.

They would be leaving the city today. Sandy had enjoyed her time in Fuchsia, even though it was a visit tinged with sadness. She had arrived in doubt about her abilities as a trainer and her role in this mission she and Alaska were stuck with. While they hadn’t fully left her, Sandy was in a much better place.

“Excuse me, but is that your Butterfree?

The voice interrupted her thoughts. Sandy came to a stop and wheeled around, her heart pounding. Her happy thoughts disappeared as she entered survival mode, hands reaching for the PokéBall bouncing inside her pockets. She had thought the pier deserted, and to have someone appear out of nowhere threatened to push her over the edge.

However, the figure standing behind her did not make for an intimidating image. A teenager, possibly a few years older, with a leanness that exacerbated his average height and shaggy brown hair; Sandy did not look at him with the same fear some of her past encounters with strangers had caused.

“I was just wondering, is all,” the boy replied sheepishly, and Sandy realized the quizzical look he shot her was probably in retaliation for her own judging glare. She straightened up and softened her face, trying not to look like she was about to jump off the pier in fear. “I thought I had encountered every trainer around here.”

“I thought we were the only trainers here as well,” Sandy replied. “Well, we saw a few around the Pokémon Centre, but none of them seemed to be at the gym.”

“Ah!” The boy’s face lit up, and he reached into his pocket. “That’s where you are wrong.” He whipped his hand out, revealing a pink, heart shaped chunk of metal.

“The Soul Badge! So you defeated Janine as well?”

“Yes, I certainly – wait, what?” The boy froze, looking confused, but shook his head as though it didn’t matter. “One more badge for my collection, making me one of the top trainers in the land. You must not have heard of me, otherwise you wouldn’t be walking around so brazenly with that Pokémon!”

Startled, Sandy raised an eyebrow and exchanged a glance with Butterfree.

“Erm… no, I haven’t heard of you,” she replied after a moment. The boy’s cocky smile faded, and he quickly began to look sheepish.

“I was just joking… you know, trying to break the ice and… all that…” His face turning red, he shoved a hand forward, nearly hitting Sandy in the breast. “My name’s Tim, Tim Skeevich.”

“Sandy Samson,” Sandy replied, and took part in what was probably the most awkward handshake to have ever occurred. She could feel herself blushing now, not sure how to react. Despite her initial shock, this Tim was growing on her quickly. His boyish good looks, his bad sense of humour: Sandy found herself thinking of Lachy and smiled despite the thought. She so rarely encountered other trainers it made a nice change to meet someone new.

“The reason I asked about your Butterfree is that I’m itching for another battle,” Tim explained as they broke their handshake. “I thought I had fought everyone, but since I’ve found you, what do you say?”

“Battle me? If you want to challenge yourself, my friend Alaska would be the –” Sandy paused mid-sentence. She looked at Butterfree, who was silently fluttering around them, watching them both.

Don’t turn him over to Alaska – why can’t I fight him? She thought. I have to test myself somehow. And he doesn’t seem like he’s going to try and murder me, which is a plus. If he’s won so many badges, he would probably wipe the floor with me. But still… Sandy looked at Butterfree, who stopped floating and moved to her side. The Butterfly Pokémon wore an encouraging smile, clearly knowing what was going through her trainers head.

“Do you think you can handle someone on his level?”

“Free Free!” Her Pokémon chirped. Sandy beamed and turned back to Tim.

“You’re on!”

***​

The beach was deserted. Sandy couldn’t tell why though: it was a fairly small stretch of sand, but it was clean and soft to touch, a brighter sight than anything else in the city. In fact, it felt like she had stumbled into some alternate Fuchsia, a brighter, more pleasant view. The sea was a pearly blue, the sun shone gloriously down on them, and even the smell of fish seemed to have faded.

“So, shall we make this a three on three?” The sound of Tim’s voice drew Sandy out of her thoughts and back to the situation at hand. He looked so much more serious than her: his dark shirt and shorts were much more practical for fighting, unlike her lavender dress that fluttered around her legs in the breeze.

“Yes, yes, sure!” She said, trying to seem enthusiastic. She looked to her side and saw Butterfree giving her a motherly look and nodded. “Three on three sounds perfect. First trainer to defeat the other trainer's Pokémon wins.”

“Agreed. And shall we allow substitutions?”

“Sure.” Tim smiled at that and drew out his first PokéBall. Sandy hadn’t realised they were starting already. She had barely thought of a strategy.

All this time watching Alaska fight, you’d think I’d pick up a few pointers. Though all the gym leaders hate her strategy, so maybe that’s a good thing. I need to use the environment though—that’s how I defeated Barney. If I can somehow use the beach to my advantage, I might stand a chance.

“Are you ready, Butterfree?” The Bug type nodded and soared confidently forwards.

“I was hoping you’d send her out first. I had just the perfect match up in mind.” With a throw he obviously thought he was masculine but seemed more camp, Tim threw his first ball forwards.

Sandy hadn’t seen a Beedrill for a long time, not since the large, robotic version had nearly killed her the first day she had met Alaska. This one was more normal sized, though it did have a vicious look, its stingers pointed and ready to go.

“We haven’t really fought a Butterfree before. This was a match up I couldn’t refuse,” Tim called out. Sandy laughed, knowing she probably would have done the same thing. A Beedrill made things harder though; both Pokémon being airborne, it would be harder to use the environment to her advantage. She had an idea though of how to kick this off.

“Psychic!”

“Hit her with Pin Missile!”

Why is he ordering that? Sandy thought. Butterfree’s Bug and Flying – it won’t do much damage. She smiled as Butterfree’s Psychic hit Beedrill like a wall, pushing him down and making him buzz irritably. Ignoring the pain, the Pokémon got back up and pointed his stingers, unleashing a barrage of lime missiles. Butterfree swooped down to avoid as they came in high, but she couldn’t get away and they exploded into her body. Sandy was stunned by the ferocity of the explosions, and she watched as Butterfree came tumbling down.

“Keep her down with Fury Attack!” Beedrill launched himself across the field, wings turning to a blur as he raced towards his opponent. Butterfree tried to push herself up, but sand had covered her wings and was holding her down, preventing her from getting away in time.

“FREEE!” She squealed, as Beedrill pounded her with glowing stingers. Sandy realised quickly how much she underestimated this match and her opponent. However, she saw one way she could use the field to her advantage.

“Use Acrobatics, throw some sand at him!”

“No fair!” Tim huffed from the other end, but Sandy just winked. Butterfree stopped trying to lift with her wings and instead began to roll forwards head-first, heaving herself up as she channeled energy into the right muscles. She had only learned the move recently, so it was a clumsy tumble rather than the powerful somersault Sandy would have liked, but Butterfree pulled it off: rolling forwards, she threw sand into Beedrill’s face before slamming into him, striking with enough force to end his attack and get her back in the air.

“Interesting tactic. A bit unconventional, I must say,” Tim said, pouting slightly.

“You should see my friend battle,” Sandy retorted.

Tim simply smirked. “Well, if you’re going to be so troublesome, then perhaps I should use… Giga Impact!”

Sandy’s jaw dropped. Giga Impact? Already??? That’s a flipping finishing move, not your first round strategy. For the love of…

“Hold him off with Psychic – keep firing that energy!” It was not much, but Sandy hoped it would at least soften the blow. Beedrill was already readying himself, purple and orange energy swirling around him as he prepared to attack. Butterfree, fearing the power, floated higher in the air and began firing waves of Psychic energy. Beedrill winced, but suddenly exploded with energy, shooting forwards like a rocket. Sandy gasped and looked away, but that didn’t dull the blast of light and energy as the two Pokémon collided above her.

“Yeah, go Beedrill!” Tim’s whoops only made Sandy fear for her starter more. She slowly turned back, watching as Beedrill landed wearily on the sand, needing to regain his energy. Butterfree lay before him on the beach, looking like a toy that had been discarded by its owner. Sandy was stunned but pleased to see she was still moving, not quite defeated yet.

She’s weak though, she needs to rest. And I need someone else to bring this thing down…

“Come back Butterfree, I may need you later!” The Bug type turned into red energy and disappeared. “You fight well,” Sandy said, nodding at Tim.

“Thank you, m’lady.” Her current rival bowed and tipped an imaginary hat before looking up with a cheeky grin. It was hard to feel like they were really facing off with him joking around, but Sandy appreciated the light mood.

“You won’t be smiling for long though.” She knew which Pokémon to send out next: in fact, she probably should have started with him. Sandy doubted the beach would be big enough to hold him, but she threw the Great Ball forwards anyway, hoping for the best.

She knew instantly she had made the right choice. Energy poured out of the capsule and began to rise metres into the air. Tim’s jaw dropped as his head looked upwards, and Sandy’s smile widened as Onix formed and let out a roar. He towered over everything, a skyscraper made of rock appearing in the middle of nothing. As he looked down to glower at his opponent, Sandy noticed his weight had sunk considerably into the sand. Something to worry about, but something to worry about later.

“SMACK DOWN!” She roared with furious delight, and her Pokémon bellowed back. She was sure Alaska would be able to hear his cry back in the Pokémon Centre. Onix moved quickly despite his weight, bringing his tail around and using it to squash the recharging Beedrill. It was swift and probably painful, but Onix seemed not to register it, retreating back into his tall guardian position almost as quickly.

A yellow and black smear in the sand was all that remained. For a second, Sandy was worried he might have actually crushed Beedrill. However, she realised, with a sigh of relief, that Beedrill had simply been pushed a metre or two into the beach by the force of the attack.

“Well played… well played that…” Tim looked both annoyed and impressed at the same time, and Sandy couldn’t help but feel proud as she gave Onix a congratulatory stroke. “It was a good move… but this one’s better!” Tim turned and threw a dark blue PokéBall towards the ocean. Confused, Sandy watched as it hit the surface and burst open: with a roar to rival Onix’s, a furious blue serpent rose up from the waves, its scaly body rivaling the Rock Snake in length.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! The last time Sandy had seen a Gyarados, it too had attacked her. Unfortunately, that one had been real, and worse, it had nearly succeeded. The feeling of nearly drowning was not one Sandy happily recalled, and while she knew this one was likely not to try and kill her, she could feel the confidence she had gained from taking down Beedrill slip away in an instant.

“Pretty frightening, eh?” Tim seemed to be reading her stunned expression as one of admiration. Given this was a friendly battle, Sandy didn’t want to bring the mood down by recalling her near-death experience. Though it still took a lot of will power to turn her back on the ferocious Gyarados.

“Maybe, but I doubt she will last long,” Sandy said. The Gyarados let out a roar that made her white whiskers shake, and Onix responded with his own angry bellow, the two serpentine Pokémon facing off from the safety of their fields. “Smack Down!”

“Aqua Tail!” Still shouting at each other, both Pokémon lunged. Gyarados moved faster, and she soared up and swung her blue tail before Onix could react. It hit him in the middle, making the Rock Snake double over in clear pain, but he wasn’t letting it slide. Instead of fighting with his tail, Onix used his pain against Gyarados, hitting her with his jagged head and pushing her down in to the beach.

“She won’t be able to fly anymore,” Sandy said triumphantly, “which means she can’t do much to stop – BIND!” His head already near hers, Onix was able to move faster than before, whipping his tail around and preparing to snake it around her body.

“Protect, then use Hydro Pump!” A glowing barrier formed around Gyarados, a wall of energy that froze Onix in his path. Suddenly unbalanced, the Rock type tried to steady himself, but Gyarados was too quick: she reared her head and fired a powerful jet of water, so strong it hit Onix in his face.

“ONNNNN!” He groaned, toppling over onto his back with an earth shattering thud. Sandy knew her Pokémon was doubly weak to Water attacks, and if he got hit with even one more it could mean the end. Which meant she had to make things harder…

“Sandstorm!”

“Hydro Pump, quickly!” Tim shouted. Gyarados lifted her head and fired another blast of water, but this time Onix dodged, dipping his already low-to-the-ground head so the water simply soared past. His body was now coated with brown light, and with a soft roar, sand exploded from it.

Sandy had not fully tested the strengths of this move out yet. Particles hit her like tiny knives, and she had to cover her face as the sun, beach, ocean, everything was masked by the swirling storm. If I can’t see though, there’s no way Gyarados can!

“Smack Down!” There was no sound from Tim’s side of the pitch. Clearly the use of Sandstorm was making him rethink his strategy. As they waited, Onix swung his tail around and smacked Gyarados on the face, causing her to grunt.

“Twister!” Having seen Alaska’s Pidgeotto use that move multiple times, Sandy wondered how a grounded Gyarados would be able to pull it off. There was a sudden roar of wind and a splashing of the waves, and she realised that Gyarados had conjured it up by spinning her tail. The attack danced across the water and onto the field, a swirling mass of draconic energy, and it managed to find and hit Onix. He was too large to be sent spinning, but it clearly caused him discomfort.

“Aim for the Twister and use Hydro Pump!” Tim shouted. Sandy gasped, realising her plan had failed. The Sandstorm was meant to disguise Onix, but now a spinning blue mass stood out firmly against the sandy brown backdrop.

“Dig!” She cried desperately. The move had not seemed useful before, given how little space they had to work with, but now it stood as her only hope. Tired and weakened, Onix reared up and prepared to dive down.

“GYARAAAA!” The roar cut through Sandy’s hopes for the battle, and she watched as the powerful jet was launched across the field, hitting Onix squarely in the middle. With a final weary cry, Onix fell to the ground a second time, though this time Sandy knew he would not be getting up.

“That’s the first time anyone has ever taken him out,” she called out as her strongest fighter was withdrawn. It was disheartening to lose Onix already, but she should have known this going in. All she could do now was suck it up and keep on trying. And she had one way to bring Gyarados down.

“I need you again, Butterfree!” Though the Butterfly Pokémon still looked tired as she reformed, she had one move that would help bring Gyarados down, and Sandy needed her third choice around as back up. “Toxic, go!”

“Aqua Tail!”

***​

With a savage roar, Gyarados swung her powerful serpentine body like a massive whip at the weakened Butterfree, but not before the Butterfly Pokémon released a purple glob of poison. Struck by Gyarados’ Aqua Tail, Butterfree plummeted out of the air with a painful squeal, and hit the beach in a burst of sand. It wasn't getting back up for another round.

“I'm sorry you didn't last long this time Butterfee, but you did good! Return,” Sandy called out as she withdrew the Pokémon.

At once Tim understood his opponent's tactic: Sandy used the last of her Butterfree's strength to poison Gyarados. Sure enough, the great water serpent let out a great sneeze, and had a sickly look to her usually fierce visage.

“Hang in there Gyarados!” Tim called out. “I know you've still got some fight left in you!”

In response, Gyarados reared back and gave a triumphant roar in agreement, but Tim could hear the weary state of her voice, and see the weakened slouch in her stance. It would only be a matter of time before the poison took her out, so he'd have to make the most out of these next few moments. It all hinged on the Pokémon Sandy would choose as her last.

“For our final act, I've got us a little surprise,” Sandy said with a smirk as she plucked a PokéBall off her belt, and tossed out in front of her. What emerged was an evolution of Eevee, one that wasn't an especially common choice either: Sylveon. Once materialized, the Intertwining Pokémon stood in an elegant yet proud stance, or vain and self-important if one were feeling cynical.

“Sylveon, eh? Interesting choice m'lady.” Tim commented, then added, “she has a grace and beauty to match your own, if you don't mind me saying.”

“Oh we got more than grace and beauty going for us, right Sylveon?” Sandy retorted with a heap of sass. Then she froze with a blush-reddened face and asked, “you think I'm beautiful?”

In the middle of all this, the pale Sylveon let out an indignant little huff and twirled its ribbon-like feelers, as if the Pokémon had been insulted. Sandy seemed to immediately know the issue though, as she snapped out of her stupor and snapped back at Tim, “Oh, and Sylveon is a boy, not a girl!”

“Oops, my apologies” Tim said with a sheepish grin as he scratched the back of his neck. “Sometimes it's kind of hard to tell, you know?”

A great rumbling growl from Gyarados butted into the moment. She looked down at the new battle opponent with an angry scowl, and gave a thundering snort. “Easy girl,” Tim reassured, and turned back to Sandy. “See what I mean?”

“Right, point taken,” Sandy agreed.

“Anyways, Gyarados is getting a little impatient over here, so shall we begin?” Tim asked.

“Then we'll kick things off! Sylveon, use Fairy Wind!” Sandy ordered.

With a confident howl, Sandy's Sylveon dropped into an active stance and swirled his feelers in a furious circle all around himself. It was so quick that the area all around Sylveon became blurred, out of focus. Then a blast of wind launched from Sylveon toward Gyarados, kicking up a blast of sand along with it.

The blast of Fairy Wind struck Gyarados, and she uttered a grumble of discomfort as the wind pushed at her large serpentine form. This wind was different from the mere sandstorm the Onix had conjured before; a Twister from Gyarados wouldn't be able to dispel it. Using protect would simply delay things, and allow the poison to take its toll. Sandy's Sylveon had Gyarados in a tough spot, Tim had to admit, but it shouldn't be too much for the tough water snake to deal with.

“Fight through it Gyarados!” Tim shouted through the howling wind. “Aqua Tail!”

“Swift!” Sandy's voice cut through the blowing wind and swirling sand.

Rearing against the Fairy Wind and uttering a fierce bellow, Gyarados swung her great serpentine body into the wind where Sylveon ought to be. Out of the swirling sand however, a flurry of shining golden projectiles darted through the wind toward Gyarados.

“Oh no!” Tim gasped as he realised there wasn't anything Gyarados could do now to evade the incoming attack.

The star-shaped missiles hit Gyarados squarely, and the great water serpent gave a grunt of discomfort as she flinched from the attack. The attack by itself didn't seem like it did much damage, but with Toxic in play, every missed opportunity and every extra bit of damage was a hazard.

After a moment, the Fairy Wind died down and the sand settled with it, revealing Sylveon's exact location. No time to lose, “Alright Gyarados, Hydro Pump now, before Sylveon can react!”

The serpent reared her head back as she gathered a blast of water, but suddenly stopped. Rather than the mighty water stream of a Hydro Pump, Gyarados instead lurched violently and vomited onto the sand in front of her. Once she was done, the water serpent slumped onto the beach, unable to carry on any longer.

“And so the beast falls!” Sandy whooped, pumping her fist in the air. “Nice work Sylveon!”

Sylveon twirled his feelers and struck an elegant pose, staring down his nose at the fallen Gyarados as Tim returned her to her Poké Ball.

“Your Sylveon seems quite proud of himself, but he shouldn't celebrate just yet, and neither should you,” Tim advised as he prepared his last Poké Ball. “I still have one more to go!”

He tossed the ball in front of him, and his Haunter emerged. The ghost type cackled madly at its opponent as it drifted over the sand.

“Hypnosis!” Tim ordered quickly, before Sandy could get her bearings.

With a delighted giggle, Haunter gathered energy in its hands, and fired a ring-shaped projectile at Sylveon.

“Fairy wind! Blow away the hypnosis, and counter with Swift!” Sandy ordered in kind, not losing a beat.

Just as before, Sylveon kicked up a fierce gust of wind and directed it toward Haunter. The Hypnosis became lost in the torrent, rendering it ineffective for the moment.

“That's not gonna work this time!” Time declared. “Into the ground Haunter, become invisible!”

At once, Haunter dove down and phased into the ground. That should keep the ghost safe from the Fairy Wind, and Swift won't affect Haunter anyway. Strange though, that she'd have Sylveon use Swift again, when Sandy ought to know better...

The shining missiles came again, and that's when Tim noticed something odd about the Swift projectiles: they couldn't be normal type, which meant–

“Haunter! Watch out!” Tim called out.

It was too late though. The Swift projectiles shot straight into the patch of ground Haunter was hiding in. At once Haunter bounced out of the ground and materialized, more out of surprise than pain, as Swift didn't seem to do a whole lot of damage. Still, the maneuver had caught both Tim and Haunter off-guard.

“Now, Sylveon! Bite!” Sandy called out while the shock of the moment was still thick.

Sylveon had already closed the distance, and lunged up from the beach at the startled Haunter. The Intertwining Pokémon bit down hard and clung onto the ghost, causing no shortage of distress for Haunter. Yet no matter how hard Haunter tried to shake Sylveon off, he would not let go.

“Stay focused Haunter!” Tim called out. “Shadow Punch through yourself! Get Sylveon off!”

Though still upset that Sylveon had a vice-like grip on it, Haunter swung one of its floating hands into itself and formed a fist. From inside itself, Haunter's Shadow Punch hit Sylveon squarely on the nose and knocked him away. With a yelp of pain, Sylveon landed on the beach in a puff of sand. He got up again though; a little scuffed and bruised, and with an indignant scowl on his pale face, but still active.

“You hurt a little?” Sandy asked. “Not to worry: use Draining Kiss!”

“I don't think so. Hypnosis now!” Tim ordered.

Once again, Sylveon rushed toward Haunter, but the ghost had already launched the humming blueish ring. Sylveon ran headlong into the oncoming Hypnosis, and staggered a few more steps forward before slumping down in the sand, fast asleep.

“Oh no!” Sandy gasped. “Wake up Sylveon!” but no matter how she pleaded, Sylveon would not awaken.

“Okay Haunter, let's finish it with Shadow Ball!”

With a menacing chuckle, Haunter charged a sphere of ghost energy in its hands, and–

“Stop it!” Sandy shouted as she stepped in front of the slumbering Sylveon.

“Holy sh–”

There was no time.

Without a moment of hesitation, Tim dove straight through his Haunter just as the Shadow Ball was being fired. In doing so, Tim took the full force of Haunter's Shadow Ball at point-blank range, and tumbled down in a heap in front of sandy on the sand.

“Oh my God!” Sandy gasped, kneeling down next to Tim's sprawled form, “Are you okay?”

“Ugh, I'll be fine... I just think my soul hurts inside,” Tim groaned as he sat himself up and brushed some of the sand off. “What were you thinking, stepping into the line of fire like that?”

“I... I'm sorry,” Sandy apologized, with her eyes downcast, “I forfeit the match: you win Tim.”

“It doesn't have to end this way: this is a really close match,” Tim reassured her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “You're a great trainer Sandy, and I mean that.”

“Thanks, that means a lot coming from you,” Sandy said as she wihtdrew her Pokemon. "And thanks for battling me... I needed this. I don't get a chance to battle much, my friend normally does all the fighting for us.

"Any time," Tim replied. The two stood there for a moment, nothing but the wind to interrupt their battle. Tim wondered what Sandy's story was: she was unlike anyone he had encountered, so unsure about her abilities. He knew what it was like to have friends better than yourself.

"You're a great trainer, you shouldn't doubt yourself at all."

"Thanks," Sandy said, blushing. "You're excellent as well. Good luck with the rest of your gym battles."

"Good luck with... wandering around?" Sandy chuckled at them, and Tim smiled as he watched her walk back into town. He was pleased he had won, and couldn't wait to tell Keith and Criss about his latest victory, but for once, he'd wished his opponent had stayed around longer.

***​

And that’s the battle.

It was fairly clear from the start that this battle would go to Tim. He is shown within the world of Unpredictable to be a very competent trainer. He has defeated multiple gym leaders, stood his own against Criss, one of the most capable trainers in that story’s world, and tamed a Gyarados, also a daunting feat in-universe. While a bit goofy, Tim is clearly shown to be a strong trainer.

Sandy, on the other hand, usually leaves the battling to Alaska. She has been shown to battle on occasion, and is usually capable of holding her own, but it is clear in the story she is not as strong or qualified as her friend. Typically, Sandy will simply send out Onix to fend off opponents or create a distraction. Her Butterfree has the most experience of her Pokémon simply through age, but that is not much of an edge.

Keen readers of Eight Easy Steps will notice that Sandy fights with a Sylveon as opposed to the Eevee she was seen with two chapters ago. In order to balance the fight out, we decided to set it after both Tim and Alaska’s respective gym battles. This allowed us to evolve Eevee and give Sandy a more even team to take on Tim. It did mean turning back Tim’s team a bit, but given the fact he is leagues ahead of Sandy, with five badges at this point of his story, it was always going to go to him.

While other battles involving GalacticVerse characters have been fairly explosive or tense, we knew these two characters together would not have the same level of intensity that Alaska or Vanessa would bring to a fight. That’s why we went for a softer approach. It seems to have paid off – hopefully you all feel the same. Anyone ready to ship Team Tandy yet?

Sandy Samson v. Timothy Skeevich

Project Manager: chaos_Leader
Contributing Writer: AceTrainer14
Consultant: AetherX

Based on characters created by AceTrainer14 and AetherX


Next time...

RD v. FW
 
Thesaurus rex
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I forgot just how long it had been since I last read a Crossover Battle

Technical Accuracy/Style
The stylistic choices in actually writing the battle left a little something to be desired. I get the impression that the authors weren't sure how to actually describe the effects of several attacks and so fell back on the same couple of lines to denote damage. But overall I think the lighthearted approach was entirely appropriate. It was quite smart to puncture the intimidating nature of Gyarados with - of all things - sneezing and vomiting.

Aptness
I'm not surprised that an earlier version of Tim was chosen for this. It had to be, for the battle to be interesting to read. In any case, Sandy was always going to lose this since she just isn't a trainer in the conventional sense - more a pet owner with a decent amateur idea of her own pokémon's capabilities

Story/Characters
It was a good length for the battle at hand. The way it ended was a bit odd, I think, what with Tim doing the dive into the way thing

Totally Reggie Damon vs Fritz Westmyn next
 
The Vulture Queen
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Project didn't die. Everyone involved had personal issues at about the same time. It happens.



Reggie Damon v. Fritz Westymn (M)

For many trainers, quests begin at a young age when they get thrown out into a world of gods, mobs and master trainers with a new Pokemon and a companion or two. But others prefer to seek a more formal education while their peers are rushing around and forcing their slaves to fight for pieces of metal.

And sometimes staying in school ends up leading to greater adventures than they could otherwise have dreamed of. Today Reggie Damon, third-year student at Elemental Academy, will face Fritz Westmyn, former student at Rukh’s University, in a battle to the finish.

Fritz Westmyn

In the nation of Japan, Pokemon are viewed and respected as equals. They are integrated into almost every part of life and society, and traditionalists praise this order as humane and correct.

There are rumors that things are different overseas, in the land of North America. Prejudice against the continent’s people is ingrained into Japanese culture, and all North Americans are presumed guilty of abusive treatment towards Pokemon.

Against this backdrop of cultural conflict, Fritz Westmyn arrived at Rukh’s university.

Fritz’s prestige quickly rose at the school as he began his time there clashing with the strongest trainer on campus and knocking out a rampaging Gyarados. From there he almost instantly got promoted into high level battling classes, held his own against the strongest students at the university and ultimately killed a monster that had ended the lives of many explorers.

But that was all tossed out the window when a racist assistant principal got him expelled due to Fritz’s birth and upbringing in Mexico. Discouraged, but not defeated, Fritz joined a gang of traveling hobos and became a part time detective.

It’s very debateable how good he is at that job, since his go-to strategy seems to be bursting out with Pokemon at the ready and loudly announcing he’s a private investigator, but what can’t be disputed is his mastery of Pokemon battling.

Fritz has a dozen Pokemon and most of them can routinely compete at the highest levels. He’s knocked out a Machamp with a Lairon, tied with a legendary coordinator during his first contest foray and held his own against a presumed future champion.

Still, he has weaknesses. Training so many Pokemon means he can only keep half of his team on him at a time, and some of his strongest team members are banned in the country and as such excluded from this battle.

While Fritz does have a Pokedex-like device, he dislikes using it in public due to its American manufacturing. The gadget also has limited or no information on species that have not been extensively researched.

But when all is said and done, Fritz Westmyn almost always ends up victorious, however impossible the odds.


Reggie Damon

Reggie Damon may not be a chosen one spoken of in dozens of prophecies since the beginning of time, but destiny likes to heap challenges on him anyway.

Hailing from Celadon City in the Kanto Region, Reggie attends school at Elemental Academy. During his first year, a sudden meteorite introduced him to Chigon, a small dragon Pokémon with a mysterious past and a well of untapped potential. Over the course of that first year he would discover the truth about Chigon and with the help of his friends, stop an evil plot set in motion by none other than the principal of the academy

Since then, Reggie and Chigon have gone on all sorts of adventures while attending the academy, some mundane, others fantastical. He’s had plenty of ups and downs, and has grown considerably as a person since the beginning of his story, making friends with old rivals, getting the girl, and saving multitudes of lives.

When it comes to battling, Reggie is generally overshadowed by his very adept friends. But with their help, he has grown into a plenty respectable battler on his own. He has fended for himself in life or death situations and held his own against frighteningly powerful individuals bent on his destruction.

His full team of Pokémon is fairly varied and of middling level. With the exception of Chigon, who often hangs out outside of his Poké Ball, Reggie shows no particular preference for any one Pokémon over another. He simply chooses whichever best suits the situation at hand.

None of his Pokémon are especially powerful, with the exception of Chigon. In his normal form Chigon is on par with the rest of Reggie’s team, but he grows vastly stronger through a process similar to Mega Evolution, which is induced by mysterious crystals. There are multiple forms that Chigon can take once the process is begun. The exact means that Chigon’s evolution is selected is shrouded in ambiguity, unreliable sources and outright retcon, but everything from chance to Reggie’s emotional state to the typing of Chigon’s opponent might factor into it.

Reggie’s biggest weaknesses come from his relative inexperience and lack of incredibly powerful Pokémon beyond Chigon. He can get down on himself sometimes and lose battles because of it. As such his performance is really inconsistent. Some days he’ll lose to random students. But when he’s at his best, more disciplined trainers and even gods can get swept aside.


* Pokémon Academy: Turning World *​

It was a warm clear day in Celadon City in the region of Kanto, and in Celadon City’s own Pokémon gym things couldn’t be livelier. Summer brought a lot of traveling trainers with it, all willing and eager to have a battle against the leader Erika.

Reggie Damon was no such trainer. Instead the teenager was on the gym’s outside garden, making sure to pay extra care to the flowers and plants that decorated the entrance of the large greenhouse-like facility. He panted a bit due to the summer heat, running his hand through his long brown hair that fell over his forehead. “Looks like another hot day huh buddy?” he commented as he turned towards the grassy field surrounding the gym.

A small dragon-like Pokémon was running and rolling around alongside an Eevee, its white fur swishing as it moved and tried to tackle the Eevee, only for its target to elude it over and over. It had a red triangle in the center of its snout and a pair of blue eyes that were currently glaring at its playmate.

“Figures you wouldn’t pay attention to me,” Reggie sighed to himself, deciding instead to go back to watering the plants now that he knew he was being ignored by his Pokémon.

Summer was a time for him to come back home, considering he spend the whole of the school year abroad in an academy on an island, it was good to be back in his home town for a while, even if it was to do chores. He could hear the sound of battling coming from inside the gym as Erika defended against her current challenger, something that caused Reggie to stare at it in curiosity.

“Excuse me, is the gym open today?” He heard a voice from behind him and turned toward the source of it.

In front of him stood a young man around his own age, with shaggy unkempt black hair and clothes that seemed like they hadn’t been washed in a while. It looked like it had been a few days since he had gotten to take proper care of himself. “Um, what?” Reggie asked, trying to regather his thoughts.

The young man simply frowned at this before sighing. “You know, we’re in front of a Pokémon Gym. I’m asking if it’s open,” the young man replied before glancing at the plants and then back at Reggie. “Though I guess I shouldn’t have interrupted your gardening duties, I apologize.”

“Oh, it’s okay, I was just distracted,” Reggie answered cordially, staring at the young man in thought for a moment before turning to the gym. “Yeah, the gym’s open right now. In fact, Erika’s having a battle at the moment. Did you come to challenge her?”

“You could say that, yeah. I was in town doing a job, so I figured since there was a gym here I could stretch my bones a little bit,” the young man replied, stretching his limbs out as if to emphasize his point. “It’s been some time since I’ve battled a gym leader. Name’s Fritz by the way, Fritz Westmyn.”

“Nice to meet you, Fritz,” Reggie smiled, stretching his hand out for Fritz to shake. “Reggie Damon,” he replied, before turning towards the gym. “Anyway, let’s go so that Erika can see you’re here. Hey guys, come back over!”

At that Fritz turned towards the two Pokémon that quickly approached them, finally noticing their presence. He was a bit startled to see another Eevee, as it reminded him of his own, though seeing an Eevee that could actually control itself around others was something he had forgotten existed.

However, the thing that grabbed his attention the most was the small puppy-like Pokémon, with its white fur, red triangle and small fairy-like wings, it was something Fritz hadn’t seen or heard of before. As if on instinct he immediately took out his Pokédex only to suddenly realize what he was doing and glancing quickly at Reggie.

“Oh, I doubt your Pokédex will be able to give you any info,” Reggie replied with an almost smug grin, though the fact he didn’t seem to notice Fritz’s Pokédex’s design was odd. Nevertheless, he continued with what he was doing and pointed the device towards the Pokémon.

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“Huh,” was all that escaped Fritz’s mouth, his eyes still fixed on the strange creature.

“His name’s Chigon,” Reggie added. “Let’s just say he’s a...special kind of Pokémon.”

“And how did you chance upon such a special Pokémon?” Fritz asked with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s a very long story.” Reggie laughed nervously, not really wanting to explain his and Chigon’s history to a complete stranger. “Anyway, let’s get going,” he said before walking toward the gym.

*​

Fritz and Reggie had made it into the gym just as Erika’s battle had ended and after Erika said goodbye to the challenger, who had ended up losing at the last minute. Fritz immediately took his chance to request his own battle.

“Ummm, I’m kind of tired to be honest,” Erika replied with a slight sigh. “My Pokémon are too. I can put them on the healing machine we have in the back, but I don’t want to make them battle too much.”

“Oh,” Fritz said, though really he seemed to be a bit annoyed by Erika’s answer. “Well I guess that makes sense. I hear this is a busy time of the year for Gym Leaders.”

Erika stared at Fritz for a moment though, a smile on her face. “Why don’t you battle some of the gym trainers though? They’re just as qualify to test a trainer’s skills, especially if you just want to spar.”

“No it’s okay, I’m sure they must be tired as well,” he replied, holding his hand up in rebuttal.

“Then…” Erika continued, her eye quickly falling on Reggie, who practically felt a chill go down his spine as his eyes met hers. “How about Reggie?” this statement was quick to make Fritz turn to the teenager, who tried his best to keep his composure.

“That’s...not a bad suggestion, though I can’t say he seems like the battling type,” he pointed out while scratching his chin. He was interested in Chigon and what a Pokémon like it could do, but he felt like it would just result in it getting badly hurt, plus Reggie didn’t give out any vibes of having some kind of hidden talent or the sort.

“I don’t know, Erika, I mean he came here to fight you and well, I’m not a gym trainer or anything,” Reggie replied quickly, trying his best to get out of the situation.

“Now I know for a fact you’re just scared Reggie,” Erika commented with a gleam in her face, she knew him too well. “You train here on your spare time and you’ve gotten better. Give it a go,” she insisted, enough to make Reggie give into her request.

“All right, I’ll do it,” he answered hesitantly before looking at Fritz. “If you’re still willing at least.”

Fritz smiled at this, crossing his arms as he began walking into the field. “You bet, show me what you’ve got. What you’ve both got.”

“All right then.” Erika clapped her hands together and called over her referee. “It’ll be a 3 on 3 battle. The winner is the one that can knock out the other’s Pokemon successfully.”

Once they were in position, Fritz didn’t hesitate to send out his first Pokémon, a noodley ball of vines.

A Tangela. Not as impressive of a start as Reggie was expecting, but he wasn’t going to complain. If he could act fast, this match would be no problem.

“Monferno, let’s go! Flame Wheel!” Reggie called, not wanting to give Fritz any chance to respond.

Monferno barely landed on the ground before he covered himself in flames and leaped into a roll towards Tangela, leaving scorched grass in his wake.

If Fritz was at all put off by the type matchup or the sudden attack, he didn’t show it. Rather than calling out a counter attack or a dodge, he simply raised Tangela’s Poké Ball and recalled his Pokémon.

“Hey, what was that?” Reggie said in confusion as Monferno tumbled to a halt. The Playful Pokémon seemed a little upset that Tangela had fled so early.

“What?” Fritz responded. “We never said no switching out.”

“Umm… sure. I guess we didn’t.”

Monferno slowly retreated back to Reggie’s side of the field. Reggie watched Fritz carefully, half ready to switch out Monferno if he sent out a water-type or something. If this guy wanted to play games, they could play games.

But no games were to be played. Fritz’s next Pokémon was a simple Nidorina.

This time it was Fritz who struck quickly. “Poison Sting!”

“Flame Wheel!” Reggie ordered.

As Reggie had hoped, the poisonous barbs that Nidorina launched at Monferno were burnt to ash before they could do any real damage.

But that wasn’t the only trick Nidorina had. On Fritz’s order, she dove out of the way of the Flame Wheel at the last second, leaving a once again frustrated Monferno to tumble to a halt.

“Iron Tail!” Reggie called out.

“Poison Fang!” Fritz responded.

With a screech of anger, Monferno whipped his tail around as it began to glow silver.Nidorina caught the attack in her mouth. The impact of it drove her head straight into the ground and forced a strained snort of pain. But the strength of the Iron Tail also helped drive Nidorina’s venomous teeth into the flesh of Monferno’s tail.

Monferno cried in pain and jerked his tail out of Nidorina’s mouth, quickly disengaging and retreating back to Reggie’s half of the field.

Reggie gave Monferno a quick once over as he stood in front of him, leaning forward on his knuckles and panting heavily through gritted teeth. Besides the bite marks on his tail, he was not visibly injured, but something was off. Reggie looked more closely at his tail wound. The little gashes from Nidorina’s teeth were slightly swollen and tinged purple. Monferno had been poisoned.

“Monferno, how you feeling, buddy?”

Monferno just snorted, full of prideful anger. He’d never admit any kind of weakness, but Reggie knew they were working on a timer now.

“Might as well go all in. Flare Blitz!”

Fritz and Nidorina stood motionless at the far end of the field, undoubtedly waiting to see what Reggie would do and pull off another quick counterattack. That was just what Reggie wanted. Now that Monferno was poisoned, Poison Sting would be a mostly meaningless attack. Everything else Nidorina had done so far was a close quarters move, which Monferno had just the thing for.

Monferno once again covered himself in flames, but didn’t tumble forward, instead charging straight at Nidorina. Nidorina crouched slightly, eyeing the oncoming flaming monkey with an almost professional level of patience.

“Now!” Fritz called. Nidorina rolled out of the way just like she did against the Flame Wheel. “Poison Jab.”

Monferno skidded to a halt only a few feet past Nidorina, who was already moving forward to attack.

“Yes! Close Combat!” Reggie commanded.

Monferno gleefully turned and engaged Nidorina at close range. He whaled on her with a barrage of punches, kicks, slaps with his tail, and even a headbutt. Nidorina could barely keep up under the onslaught, barely landing a single Poison Jab. But after a few seconds, poison and general exhaustion slowed Monferno’s blows.

“Fury Swipes, then escape,” Fritz said.

Nidorina ducked a punch that was ever so slightly slower than the last and rapidly slashed Monferno’s stomach three times before leaping away from Monferno. Both Pokémon were panting heavily and covered with numerous wounds.

“Hmm…” Reggie had been hoping to knock out Nidorina with that tactic. He’d also assumed that Monferno wouldn’t’ be able to stand much longer, but he had apparently underestimated his Monferno’s fortitude. Maybe he shouldn’t have been so reckless. Maybe he could take out Nidorina without losing Monferno, poison or not.

“Monferno, Double Team!” Reggie said.

After a brief pause, copies of Monferno began to spring up around the battlefield, surrounding Nidorina.

“Easy. Poison Sting to dispel the clones. All at once.” Fritz said. Nidorina began tensing up, preparing for a shotgun burst in all directions.

Maybe this battle won’t last so much longer after all, Reggie thought. “Finish this! Flare Blitz!”

Flames lit up on every single clone, making it seem like the entire battlefield was spotted with campfires, all of which descended on Nidorina. They didn’t make it very far.

The burst of barbs exploded outwards, fizzling out copy after copy. One spine found the real Monferno, hitting him right in between the eyes. It wasn’t damaging on its own, but it made him blink and stumble. Injuries and tiredness brought him all the way down.

“Finish this. Poison Jab,” Fritz said with a wry smile.

The Poison Jab was easily enough to end the fight.

“Sorry Monferno, I messed up on that one,” Reggie said as he called his Pokémon back to his ball. “You did good.”

“Chigon!”

Reggie looked down at the little dragon puppy. “You want to go in, Chigon? Alright, let’s do this.”

“You sure you don’t want to tell me where you got that thing? I’ve never even heard of one before,” Fritz asked as Chigon plodded into position.

“Well there was this meteor and an ancient civilization and… well… like I said, it’s kind of a long story,” Reggie said with a laugh.

Fritz just stared at him skeptically. “Uh-huh. Nidorina, return!” Fritz called Nidorina back to her ball and replaced her with a squat metallic quadruped, Lairon.

It felt kind of rude to exploit this stranger’s lack of knowledge about Chigon, but Reggie wasn’t about to give up a perfectly good advantage. “Okay Chigon, Flamethrower!”

“Protect.” Fritz said it like he was going to order the block regardless of what kind of attack Chigon opened up with. The flames from Chigon’s mouth washed over Lairon’s summoned barrier, completely ineffective.

“Iron Tail,” Reggie said.

Chigon ran forward, his tail glowing silver.

“Iron Defense.”

Chigon’s tail slammed right between Lairon’s eyes, but the steel-type didn’t even flinch. It just sank slightly lower to the ground, taking a defensive stance.

“Chigon, back off!” Reggie commanded. Chigon flapped his wings and flew backwards almost as fast as it had charged forwards. “He’s stalling,” Reggie told Chigon, who nodded in response.

“Give him another Flamethrower.”

“Give him another Protect, Lairon,” Fritz responded.

Once again the fire was lamely dispersed by the shield. This was beginning to get frustrating to Reggie. He interrupted Fritz halfway through his own order.

“Iro-“

“Dragon Breath!”

This time Chigon spat green colored flames that Lairon had no time to block.

“Oh boy…” Fritz said with a slight smile. “You didn’t say that thing was a dragon.”

When the green flames disappeared, Lairon was hunched over, his eyes narrowed angrily at Chigon.

Reggie blinked. “What’s wrong with that?”

Fritz shrugged. “Everyone has their little quirks. I don’t like fighting psychics, Erika’s scared of type diversity, and Lairon despises dragons.” As if to accentuate his point, Lairon gave a shrieking roar and began charging at Chigon with murder in his eyes. The onlooking gym trainers grumbled indiscernibly.

“Chigon, return!”

With a little yip of fright, Chigon retreated from the Lairon as quickly as he could, back to Reggie’s side. Lairon didn’t like that. He jumped forward and clamped his jaws down on Chigon’s tail, making the little dragon cry out in pain. Chigon instinctively responded with a burst of fire from his mouth straight to Lairon’s face, which was enough to make the steel-type let go. Chigon immediately fled to the relative safety of behind Reggie’s legs.

“You can’t do that!” Reggie said indignantly as Lairon glared at Chigon.

“Do what?” Fritz asked.

“I recalled Chigon and Lairon still attacked him.” Reggie looked at the referee for support.

“Technically he was still in the battlefield, so he’s fair game,” the referee explained.

Fritz shrugged condescendingly. “Poké Balls are a pretty nifty invention, man.”

Reggie swore at him under his breath, but pulled out another Poké Ball.

“Go, Donphan!”

Donphan landed on the field almost nose to nose with Lairon. Lairon didn’t even wait for an order before ramming his head into Donphan’s face. Donphan gave a grunt and recoiled. Fritz chuckled softly to himself.

“Use Bulldoze,” Reggie commanded.

“Protect.”

Donphan reared and stomped mightily on the ground, sending a powerful shockwave through the dirt towards Lairon. The attack should have been quite effective, but Lairon’s Protect negated the damage just as it had with Chigon’s Flamethrower.

Reggie paused, noticing something odd. Lairon was repositioning so that he was closer to the side of the field, rather than directly in front of Fritz. Donphan waited eagerly for a new order, but Reggie was distracted, watching Fritz and Lairon. Fritz made a strange jerky hand motion, and Lairon summoned a sphere of metallic energy in his mouth that he fired at Donphan. The first Metal Burst hit Donphan straight on.

“Rollout to dodge, then attack!” Reggie ordered. Fritz was using some kind of hand signals with Lairon. It was a lot harder to counter attacks that he didn’t see coming. At least hand signals only worked when Lairon had Fritz in his line of sight.

Donphan rolled up, tucking her trunk between her legs and essentially transforming into a living wheel with tusks. She pushed off with his back legs and barely dodged the second shot of Metal Burst.

“Towards me!” Reggie called.

Whether or not Donphan understood why Reggie had given that order, she obeyed. Donphan made a looping u-turn that whizzed past Reggie before heading straight towards Lairon, forcing Lairon to face away from his trainer.

“Iron Defense,” Fritz said quickly.

Reggie frowned. There wasn’t a lot they could do to counter that.

Lairon hunkered down into a defensive position once again. Donphan hit him hard, making the sturdy steel-type slide back a few inches, tearing up the grass. Donphan, on the other hand, was sent spinning straight up into the air about five feet.

“Iron Head when she comes back down,” Fritz said.

“Bulldoze his face, Donphan!” Reggie called, hoping that his Pokémon would be able to hear and react.

Whether it was through luck or skill, Donphan came out of her roll just in time to meet Lairon’s powerful Iron Head with her two front feet. The impact nearly drove Lairon’s head into the soft dirt, and Donphan tumbled off of him. The two Pokémon quickly regained their footing, but Lairon was noticeably dazed.

Reggie was about to order a Bulldoze that could finish the deed, but before he could, Lairon disappeared in a flash of red. In his place a second later appeared Nidorina once again.

Reggie smirked. Even simpler. “Rollout!”

“Poison Jab,” Fritz countered.

Donphan curled up and rolled forward, much faster than Monferno’s Flame Wheel. Nidorina had no chance for fancy “dodge, then quickly attack” shenanigans. The Poison Jab didn’t hit Donphan so much as Donphan hit the Poison Jab, and the rest of Nidorina with it. The poison-type was sent rolling away on the ground as Donphan turned around for another pass.

“Again!” Reggie encouraged.

The second Rollout was equally effective on Nidorina, but as Donphan skidded to a halt in front of Reggie, he noticed some familiar symptoms.

“Wonderful. Poison again,” Reggie sighed.

Donphan huffed and pawed at the ground. Nidorina was barely able to stand up, but Fritz didn’t seem to want to call her as knocked out.

“Bulldoze,” Reggie ordered.

The attack was more than enough to knock Nidorina out and tie up the match. For the moment, at least.

*​

“Return, Nidorina. You did well.”

A beam of light collided with the genetic mishmash and called her back into her Pokeball.

Fritz looked up at his opponent across the field and rubbed his chin. Lairon was still hurt and was best saved for the dragon puppy whenever it came back out. Donphan was both heavy and low to the ground, making it less than an ideal foe for Tangela. But it still had a type advantage and could stall long enough for Donphan to succumb to poison.

“Tangela, go.”

“Be careful, Donphan, that’s a grass type!” Reggie said with a nod.

Of course it was. Did the green color and vines give it away?

“Good observation. Now, Leaf Storm, Tangela.”

“Donphan, use Sandstorm!”

Tangela shook its body and kicked up a cloud of twigs and stems and leaves around it. Then the cloud shot forward and started racing across the field. But Donphan had already prepared a Sandstorm and with a mighty stomp the dirt on the ground began to rise up. Some of the leaves got caught up in the risen clods; others hit Donphan dead-on and visibly stung her.

Fritz grimaced. The sandstorm made Solar Beam less useful and was going to wear Tangela down. Leaf attacks would be harder to aim due to the inexplicable wind that was blowing particles around the gym. On top of that, he couldn’t really see across the field well. And he could’ve stopped it if he’d just had Tangela closer or moved second.

“Good move,” Fritz conceded. “But you’ll have to do better to win.”

“And we can. Donphan, use Double Edge!” Reggie shouted.

“Tangela, go over it and use Stun Spore.”

Donphan barreled into view right as Tangela pushed four vines down and in different directions and used them to pull itself up. Donphan went straight under the spidery noodle monster just in time to drift into a golden cloud Tangela dropped. The ground-type seized up and Fritz saw his chance.

“Slam.”

Tangela could take things from there.

Fritz turned to look at the onlooking gym trainers. They clearly weren’t happy with the sandstorm. Some were muttering appreciatively about Tangela as it tackled Donphan from free fall and rolled away. He heard the sound of vine whips and Donphan’s dull thud behind him.

He turned around just in time to see Donphan snag one out of the air with her trunk and grunt appreciatively. Shit.

Reggie beat Fritz to the order. “Defense Curl!”

“Vine Whip!”

Tangela lashed out with one more good strike on Donphan, but the elephant seemed to barely feel anything as she rolled up into a tight, durable ball.

“Now Rollout!”

“Uh, Double Edge?”

There wasn’t much sense in the order. But Tangela tried in vain to stagger ahead before getting pulled off of its feet as Donphan rolled forward, dragging the vine with her. Eventually the force was so great that the vine got yanked out and flailed around the rolling Donphan in vain.

“Now Power Whip!” Fritz yelled.

He anticipated that Tangela was in pain, even if he could only barely see it through the Sandstorm, but it still pulled its act together. Right before it got barreled over by Donphan, Tangela wove three vines together and swung them like a baseball bat at the ground-type.

The impact stopped Donphan cold and launched her back towards Fritz. But she pulled herself back up quickly, even if the damage and poison were visibly taking their toll.

“Rock Slide.”

Vine Whip!

Donphan lashed out at the arena floor and several boulders flew through the air at Tangela. It smacked most of them away with a barrage of quick vine strikes, but some smaller stones still got through. Nothing too terrible, though. Now Fritz just needed some way to finish off Donphan before he could do something like—

HYPER BEAM!

—Something like that.

“Shield yourself.”

Tangela reflexively formed a barrier of vines and leaves in front of itself in the brief moment that gathered energy. And then the beam came.

Truth be told, it did better than Fritz was expecting. The Hyper Beam provided decent illumination, even in the raging sandstorm, and the vines seemed to take the attack at first. But then, one by one, they began to snap or get burned through. Just as the attack started to die down the barrier broke and Tangela got launched back towards the greenhouse wall.

Vines shot out at the last moment and snagged one of the rafters towards the top of the gym. Tangela stopped just before it hit the glass.

Donphan, however, passed out a moment later with an indignant bellow, done in by poison and exhaustion. The ref called the obvious and both trainers congratulated their Pokemon for their effort.

“Well, guess it’s back on you,” Reggie mumbled. He looked drained by the loss. Fritz smirked. With his two strongest Pokemon in Japan left standing against one injured dragon, the match was in the bag. But for the sake of formalities it had to continue. So his opponent called, “Chigon, take the plate.”

As the puppy stepped forward, Fritz withdrew Tangela. It needed some time out of battle to rest and reform its shields. It probably wouldn’t be necessary, but there was no point leaving it in either. Not when Lairon was still conscious.

When Lairon saw Chigon again, his eyes narrowed and he pawed the ground irritably. “Go ahead,” Fritz told him.

Lairon bolted forward, yelling furiously as he pursued his prey. Chigon tried to stand bold for a solid five seconds before it, eventually, turned tail and fled. Lairon shouted out his displeasure but tried to keep pursuing for a good minute as Chigon ran circles around him. That was fine for Fritz. He just had to keep an eye on the situation and wait.

“Are you trying to hurt Chigon?” Reggie called out to him, his voice tinged with concern.

“Isn’t that the point?” Fritz scoffed.

“Well, I mean, yes, but it’s supposed to be less… brutal. You’re supposed to—”

“How about you lecture me when you’re ahead? Now, Metal Burst!”

Lairon stopped running and opened his jaw. Out flew a volley of silvery orbs. Chigon jumped over two but took a third. It stung him, but didn’t seem to do a lot more. Still, the opening let Lairon get ever closer.

“Good, now use Iron Head!”

Fritz looked up at his opponent—the field was much clearer due to the sandstorm beginning to die down—and saw him visibly… annoyed? Concerned? Angered? Whatever it was, he pulled a strange crystal out of his pocket and a burst of light spread across the field.

Chigon was now awash in white light and growing larger by the second. When the glow finally stopped, a new Pokemon stood in its place. It was larger, but the color was essentially the same. Now it had bigger wings and a longer tail, as well as a yellow jewel.

Fritz checked to see if the evolution had given his device any new information.

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Nope.

“Fire Blast, Alagon!” Reggie called out from across the field.

Alagon. Still a draconic sounding name. Probably still had fire skills. Most likely typing: Dragon/Fire.

“Protect, Lairon.”

A shield of mystical energy erupted around Lairon. The flames parted harmlessly around it.

“Flare Blitz, now!”

A streak of red rushed across the field and slammed into Lairon’s shield. For a moment a green bubble became visible around the steel-type before it finally began to crack and burst altogether in a fiery explosion.

Firtz clenched his fist. No. That wasn’t how this would end. “Metal Burst!”

Miraculously, an orb of light shot out of the flames and collided with Alagon, launching him back a few meters before he caught himself in the air. Lairon used the opportunity to pull himself to his feet and waddle after Alagon, slow and visibly injured, but dead set on finishing the dragon. After a moment’s focus, he burst into one final run and leaped into the air, above the head of any human in the room.

But Alagon flew just a little higher and with one swish of his tail he knocked the Lairon back down to Earth. The round was over.

Alagon circled back to his owner as Fritz withdrew Lairon and landed on the ground, staring menacingly at his opponent.

Only Tangela remained to take on a fire type. It wasn’t the best of circumstances, but Fritz was confident it could handle the pressure.

“Tangela, create a web on the ceiling.”

The noodle monster emerged from its pokeball and immediately shot at least a dozen vines up to the gym’s roof. Once there they spread out and latched on to anything they could find to grab on to. Tangela pulled itself up and continued to shoot out vines until it found itself suspended from the center of a leafy spider web.

“Fly up and hit it,” Reggie ordered.

“Just keep dodging.”

Alagon spread his wings and took to the skies, soaring after Tangela. The grass-type simply pulled itself along to some other part of the web, sometimes dropping down and lashing out a vine to the other side, always keeping one step ahead of the pursuing dragon. At least, until—

“Aerial Ace!”

“Shit, try to dodge,” Fritz countered. But he suspected it was useless.

It was. With a newfound burst of speed, Alagon raced in to Tangela and knocked it back half the length of the gym before it finally came to a stop and began to fall back towards Alagon on a vine pendulum. Fritz saw his chance.

“Now Double-Edge, Tangela.”

“Alagon, do the same.”

“Crap, pull up! Poison Powder!”

At the last moment, Tangela reeled itself up just enough that Alagon crashed down beneath it, right into a cloud of purple dust. Fritz sighed in relief. There was no way Tangela would’ve come out ahead against a larger, more physically imposing dragon’s Double Edge.

Now Alagon was poisoned. It didn’t matter if he resisted everything Tangela could throw at him except for dangerous up-close attacks. Eventually, inevitably, it would fall to a thousand cuts and poison. Now it was time to begin the cutting.

“Vine Whip,” Fritz shouted.

Tangela complied, freeing one appendage from the web and bringing it down to strike the still stunned Alagon. The dragon simply opened his mouth and exhaled a small stream of intense fire that slid up Tangela’s arm and burnt it to a crisp, earning a pained cry in response.

Fritz was less concerned with that than the look of realization that spread across Reggie’s face. If Alagon could Incinerate the entire web… no. He couldn’t let that happen. Everything would fall apart.

RAGE POWDER.”

Tangela forced its way through the pain and shot out a cloud of red powder. Just as Reggie was about to order the damning move, Alagon’s pupils narrowed and he howled in rage. A purple aura of draconic energy surrounded him and he rushed towards Tangela in a psychotic rampage.

Fritz had no idea what attack it was—Dragon Rush? Outrage? Maybe some new move?—but unless it was fast enough to catch Tangela, it wouldn’t be a problem. And from the looks of the situation, he was in luck.

Tangela rapidly moved along the spider’s web, ducking and weaving and turning his way around a chargingAlagon with an increasingly faint purple shroud around it. In time the dragon was exhausted, the Rage Powder had burned through his system and he was finally willing to listen to orders. But the poison and constant draining moves had worn it down. Now it was time to finish the match.

“Sleep Powder.”

The command was simple, crisp and elegant. Tangela swooped down from above and cast out a blue wave of pollen before pulling himself back up to the top. Reggie ordered the dragon to dodge. It was just a little too tired. Within seconds it was fast asleep, only moving with its heartbeat and the faint twitches that came from the poison taking hold.

“Now condense the web: Power Whip it with all you’ve got!”

“Alagon, no! Get up! Please…”

Fritz just laughed. “Oh, it’s too late for that. Better luck next time, kid.”

He looked up to see the web growing smaller by the second as the strands got pulled back and fused together into two giant ropes, each almost as thick as Tangela’s body, holding it up. It didn’t seem possible, but it was happening and it was glorious.

“And now… finish him, Tangela,” Fritz ordered with a short laugh and a flourish of the hand.

“ALAGON, ALAGON YOU NEED TO WAKE UP!!!” Reggie shouted so loud that Fritz almost covered his ears across the field. But it seemed to work. Alagon looked up, alert and awake just in time to see the noodle monster falling upon him, vines crossed to lash out with maximum fury in a second and then, just as it got two-thirds of the way to the floor… Tangela stopped.

The grass-type was simply held in place in mid-air, its vines getting pulled out to the side and unraveled for no apparent reason. Then it began to spin, its arms coming increasingly far apart as the rotation got faster and faster. Tangela was lifted even higher off the ground until he was just a meter or two from the top of the arena.

Next came the fire. The vortex became visible as a wall of flames shot from the ground to the full height of the gym.

“Alagon, are you ready?”

The beast growled affirmatively from somewhere in the middle of the rotating pillar of flames. Fritz barely heard, petrified by the sudden change in momentum and furiously thinking of some way, any way, to get out of it. But he heard Reggie’s next two words loud and clear.

DRAGON’S ROAR!

Alagon’s shadow shot up in the tornado until he was just above Tangela’s disheveled body. Fritz reached for his pokeball to withdraw his Pokemon, but stopped after a moment’s hesitation. Maybe Tangela could take the attack. It had been a lot and he wasn’t about to forfeit a match he could still pull off.

As Fritz slipped his hand away from Tangela’s pokeball, he heard the roar. It was deafening enough that everyone in the gym from the referee to the attendants at the back recoiled. Then a beam of pure light shot down through the pillar, illuminating it all for one terrifying second before the Fire Spin broke apart in an explosion of fire and light. Fritz shut his eyes and braced himself as the heat shot past.

When the roar was finally done he still kept his eyes clamped shut and his arms gripping his body until the ringing in his ears grew less thunderous. When he finally slipped open his eyelids and the light flowed on to his pupils, he saw the outcome.

It took him almost twenty seconds to process it. He had lost. He had lost to some random trainer he outclassed in every way because he had a dumb fire dragon and and… and…

...and he had lost a match and lost it badly. It had been a long time since that had happened.

“The winner is Reggie Damon!” Erika called out loudly, fully cementing Fritz’s defeat. He saw Reggie’s fire dragon quickly go back to being Chigon, something that confused Fritz even more, though he chose to not make mention of it.

He returned his Tangela, quickly reminding himself to get them healed as soon as possible. It was then that he saw Reggie walk towards him. “Hey sorry, I guess I got a little carried away,” the boy pointed out nervously, holding his hand in front of Fritz.

“No it’s okay, I might’ve lost my cool before too, I’m sorry about how I treated your Pokemon,” Fritz answered, stretching his hand out. “It was a good match, hopefully we can have one some other time.”

“You bet,” Reggie smiled brightly, quickly shaking Fritz’s hand in return.

*​


And that’s game.

Fritz Westmyn is undeniably a better trainer when it comes to knowledge, tactics and even the power of his average team member. He’s battled trainers on top of both his school and professional training circuits, although he’s never been able to get a decisive win against a pro. Some of what his Pokemon can accomplish in battle is frankly absurd.

However, he’s hardly consistent. Some days he’ll come within an inch of getting defeated by a trainer he should be able to crush. But one near-loss in particular was pivotal for this battle.

On their first encounter, Fritz could not defeat and barely escaped from The Beast of Abet, a powerful monster that lives near the university. On their second encounter he barely killed it after it knocked out five of his Pokemon and critically injured the sixth. It was so hard to defeat because it had unclear typing, his technology couldn’t get a read on it and it could just shrug off hits while knocking out Fritz’s Pokemon in a few strikes apiece.

Chigon’s most powerful evolutions put The Beast of Abet to shame. Within mere weeks of hatching, a newly evolved Alagon almost prevailed over a supernaturally enhanced Charizard commanded by a highly competent trainer. A few days later when it gained a different form, the Chigon evolution easily won against the same Charizard. It’s only gotten stronger with time.

Oh, and Alagon can evolve. In fact, Chigon’s final evolutions are wrapped up in myths about Arceus and the end of the world. At his maximum strength, Chigon’s power simply dwarfs anything that Fritz would ever realistically encounter.

It’s in part due to differences in their stories. Fritz might battle often and well, but he’s still just a trainer dealing with racism and finding his own place in the world. Reggie gets caught up in stopping demons, zombie hordes or legendary Pokemon every other week. Fritz’s superior knowledge and training might be enough to soundly defeat the rest of Reggie’s team, but once Alagon—or, heavens forbid, Pyrgon—comes out, there’s not a lot he could do.


Reggie Damon v. Fritz Westmyn


Project Manager: AetherX
Co-writer: Athena
Consultant: Flaze

Based on characters created by Flaze and @System Error

Next time…


CC v. SS
 
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The Vulture Queen
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Cynthia Carter v. Steven Stone (PG-13)

Becoming the Champion of the Pokémon League is the ultimate goal for any trainer, the reason they get up in the morning and train, battle and train again until they can’t anymore but keep on going. For Cynthia Carter and Steven Stone, greatness is destined for them both, but for now, they are just two awkward teens trying to make the best of the situations they are in.

CYNTHIA CARTER

Headstrong, arrogant, determined and unwavering, Cynthia was never going to be an easy child. Orphaned at a young age, rejected by her town, sidelined by her sister and ignored by her grandmother, Cynthia sought to know why her life had come to this. When she overheard her grandmother on the phone, she used what she heard to urge her onwards, and fled Celestic Town for Sunyshore in hopes of finding answers and glory.

There she met lonely Viktor Fischer, and things went downhill from there. What started out with Cynthia in control slowly, then rapidly, spiralled out of control, climaxing in Viktor nearly killing Cynthia as her manipulation and his own issues pushed him over the edge. Now recovering from her injuries, both physically and mentally, Cynthia is looking to both redeem herself and find a way to move on from the trouble she caused.

As a young girl, she started training with Wilma, an elderly hermit on the edge of her town, who pushed Cynthia towards training Dragon Pokémon. As such, Cynthia fights with her starter and primary battle Gabite and is aided by Horsea and Swablu.

Cynthia is close with her Pokemon but is at her strongest when using Gabite compared to her other Pokémon, and her conflicted personality can get in the way.

STEVEN STONE

Inexperienced yet resolute, Steven dreams of the impossible: to escape his overbearing father and conquer the Pokemon League. Having lived a sheltered and secluded life, it isn't until Steven runs away from home with nothing more than his wits, his Beldum, and an enormous pile of bad luck that things begin for this champ-in-the-making.

While possessing a keen mind for strategy, Steven hasn't quite had the ideal opportunity to showcase his talents: his attempts at challenging gyms and thwarting Hoenn's resident baddies haven't always been smooth, either because he's been outclassed or outnumbered. However, through it all, Steven and his team have shared unwavering resolve that they've used to keep moving forward, facing gym leaders past and present and shady organizations alike. He hasn't been on the road for long, but he's learned a lot -- and his Beldum, now a Metang, has grown into a fearsome threat alongside its master. It'll be a long road to the League, but they're not giving up any time soon.


Man of Steel vs the Darkness Knight: Dawn of Stainless

All things considered, Cynthia was having a terrible day. This was nothing new.

She let her head drop onto her palms as she stared out into the tossing ocean. A hint of the sea breeze tickled her ears, filling her blonde hair with salty mist, and she threaded her fingers through it with a sigh.

Elbows propped against the railing of the cruiser, hoodie zipped up against the wind, Cynthia looked normal enough. Her baggy clothes hid the healing bruises from where Gabite had broken her three-story fall, she’d been able to trim off the places where the fire had singed her hair, and her clouded eyes did a passable job of hiding the rest.

Carolina had always said that one day she would create a problem big enough that she couldn’t run away from it, and for once the crazy bitch was right. Cynthia hated that, almost more than she hated the problem itself, which was why she’d promptly purchased the first ferry ticket she could find and shipped herself across the ocean for a change in pace. She’d hoped that the change in scenery would let her forget about the fire, licking at the walls, threatening to consume her; the orbs, humming in synergy as they released untold power; his eyes, empty and vacant as he watched her falling, falling, falling—

“Hello, there, this is your captain speaking!” A cheerful voice rang across the deck over the PA. “It’s a balmy seventy-two degrees without a cloud in the sky here in Littleroot and it’s looking like a spectacular day! We’ll be docking very shortly, so if you could gather up any loose belongings, make sure your party is together, and throw your trash in the provided wastebins instead of in the ocean like a lazy sack of shit, our crew would be more than happy to help you out! For our passengers who are staying on until Slateport…”

Cynthia mentally tuned out the rest of his too-happy speech and shouldered her backpack wearily, patting her side to make sure that her three Pokéballs were still attached to her belt. She gloomily walked to the line of people congregating around the exit and slouched against the wall next to a teenage trainer and what looked like a Breloom, which was engaged in the act of chasing its own tail. Cynthia couldn’t help but smile as the grassy dinosaur tripped on its overlarge feet, only to bound back up and continue the pursuit.

Maybe today would be better.

[/hr]

All things considered, Steven was having a wonderful day. This, too, was nothing new.

Sure, he’d broken his best friend’s heart a little, lost a battle to a bright blue beach ball, and probably witnessed the rise of a horrible cult, but he estimated that it was a balmy seventy-two degrees outside without a cloud in the sky, which meant that only good things were going to come of this.

All of those troubles were behind him. Emerald Cove was on the way, with all of the wonders that it promised. There would be new Pokémon to encounter, new experiences to be had, and—

Ooooh, shiny.

Steven wasn’t sure what it was about the girl that had drawn his attention. From the outside, she looked normal enough. Her hands were shoved deep into her pockets and she kept her hoodie zipped up despite the warm day. The three Pokéballs marked her as a trainer, and the way that she stood stock-still in a crowd milled around her marked her as a foreigner. But a trainer on the docks from afar who liked it hot wasn’t anything Steven hadn’t seen before, even from his limited experience.

Steven frowned, trying to see more without catching her attention. There was something odd about her. Something in the steely glint in her dark eyes made him pause. It felt like he would meet her again one day in much grander circumstances. Steven couldn’t explain why.

He blinked again. He’d lost her in the crowd while he was thinking, and he didn’t know where she was now.

“Is staring open-mouthed at girls you’ve never met a custom around these parts?” a voice muttered darkly behind him.

Steven closed his mouth. Maybe he hadn’t been as stealthy as he’d thought. “I didn’t mean to be staring.”

“You mean, you didn’t mean for me to notice,” the girl corrected him smugly. She strolled in front of him and folder her arms across her chest. “Nice try.”

“My name is Steven,” he tried instead, and extended one hand for her to shake.

She looked at it disdainfully for a moment before accepting. “I’m Cynthia,” she said. “So before you start with the niceties, why don’t you tell me why you thought staring at me like a lost Growlithe—”

“Let’s battle.”

That escalated quickly.

“Excuse me?” The girl raised one eyebrow and studied him appraisingly.

Steven didn’t know what had prompted him to say it. He doubted that he had enough experience to take this girl on yet. If she was already travelling to different regions for training purposes, then she could probably wipe the floor with him. His last two gym badges, his brush with Team Millenium, and everything Miss Carolyn had ever said also reinforced that unfortunate fact. “It’s a custom around these parts to always accept a trainer invitation. Let’s battle.”

Her stormy eyes narrowed. “What have you got on you, two Pokémon?” She tried to sound disdainful, but he could see the way she was shifting her weight to study the terrain of the docks around him, the same way he was. Scoping out the battlefield.

“Two on two, then,” Steven replied evenly. “First trainer without any conscious Pokémon loses.”

Her jaw locked. The Pokéball had appeared in her hands without him noticing. “You’re on.”

Steven mulled over his options. Prometheus was easily the strongest member of his team, but he didn’t know if that meant he should save the Metang for later or try to lead with an explosive start. Baltoy, well, hadn’t been exemplary in battle, but everyone had to start somewhere. It’d be a good Pokémon to scout Cynthia out with. “Baltoy, let’s go!” he shouted at the same time that Cynthia cried, “Gabite, you’re up!”

Both Pokéballs arced over the pier and exploded into flashes of white light simultaneously. Baltoy’s oblong, clay-colored body formed. Its tiny arms began orbiting around it as it hummed alertly, staring at its opponent.

Steven looked in with a mixture of horror and admiration as a dragon sprouted up before them, almost as tall as its owner. The creature had a squat blue face with two rounded horns, almost as if someone had crossed Princess Leia with the nose of an airplane. It raised is fin-like arms and snarled menacingly at them. He was reminded of the Sharpedo he’d seen battling on TV. It was definitely a dragon-type, but maybe it was part water as well?

Cynthia wasted no time. “Gabite, use Slash!” she commanded. She accentuated her words with a slashing motion using her right hand.

“Baltoy, dodge it! Get away from the pier and hover over the water!” The dragon was faster than he would’ve expected given its size, and Gabite lunched forward, its wickedly-sharp claws glowing white as it tried to hook them into Baltoy’s midsection.

Luckily, the clay doll Pokémon was fast enough to narrowly avoid the onslaught. It hummed nervously as the gust of wind from the Gabite’s fins sent it whooshing back, but it remained unharmed.

Steven allowed himself a small smile as the large dragon stumbled to regain its footing on the docks. It didn’t seem eager to join Baltoy in the water, so maybe it wasn’t a water-type after all. That had been a risk Steven was ready to take. At this rate, it didn’t seem like Gabite could do much to reach them from the boardwalk.

“Dragonbreath!”

Oh, crap. “Dodge it again!” Steven shouted. This time, the blue dragon had to pause for a moment, rearing back as its maw filled with glowing emerald flames before it spat them toward Baltoy. He needn’t have worried, though. The attack was too slow, and Baltoy had plenty of time to bob beneath it, allowing the flames to dissipate harmlessly in the ocean.

All right. Time to go on the offensive. “Baltoy, try—”

“Gabite, return,” Cynthia said curtly, recalling her Pokémon with a flash of red light. She must have noticed Steven’s confused expression because she added, “I know a stalemate when I see one. We’ll be back soon. For now, Horsea, it’s your turn!”

This time, Steven recognized the dragon-like Pokémon that appeared. This one lacked the sharp fangs and claws of its predecessor. In fact, it had cute, stubby wings and a little frilly tail, but he knew that didn’t mean it could be underestimated. Wallace had actually been wanting to add one of these to his team, hadn’t he?

“Bubblebeam!”

The seahorse Pokémon hit the water beneath the docks with a gentle splash and wasted no time in losing a torrent of froth from its jet-like mouth.

“Power through it! You have to get in close!” Baltoy obliged, using its orbiting arms to propel itself closer to its opponent, but the deluge of water proved to be too strong. It landed in the water with a splash and a surprised squeak, its waterlogged arms flailing wildly to keep itself afloat.

“Use Twister to finish it off,” Cynthia called out confidently, and her Horsea summoned a miniature cyclone that dunked Baltoy further into the water before Steven could say anything more. Steven strained his neck nervously to the bubbling patch of ocean where his Pokémon had gone down, but when Baltoy floated back up a few moments later, it was clearly unconscious.

This… wasn’t going quite as well as he’d been hoping.

[/hr]

“So where are you from?” the awkward, blue-haired boy called out to her as he fumbled for a Pokéball to recall his downed Pokémon. Cynthia hadn’t recognised the doll-like creature at all, but it had turned out to be incredibly underwhelming.

“Sinnoh,” Cynthia responded curtly. She was reminded uncomfortably of another time and another place where she’d run into a strange boy in a public area like this, and—

No. She couldn’t think of Viktor. Her fists clenched. Not now. This battle was stupid and inane, but it was at least letting her forget about all of the shit that had gone down.

“I’m from Rustboro,” Steven said.

“Never heard of it.” Cynthia tapped one foot impatiently. “Now, are you going to send out your last Pokémon or not?”

“All right, all right,” Steven grumbled, and pulled out his second Pokéball. Cynthia frowned, waiting for him to send out something as foreign and underwhelming as the last. “Prometheus, I’m counting on you!”

There was a musical sound that almost resembled a chime, and Cynthia watched as a huge, heavy-looking lump of steel unfolded before her, flexing two equally-sturdy arms. Both its appendages and strategic points around its body were studded with sharp spikes the size of Cynthia’s fist. She would’ve initially pegged it for a brutish type, but there was a deeper sort of intelligence in its mismatched, glowing red eyes that made her look twice.

No, the Baltoy had definitely been the easy half of this battle.

“This is my Metang,” Steven explained, and his voice didn’t sound nearly as reedy or afraid anymore. “Ready for round two?”

Cynthia nodded. She doubted that Horsea would be able to last very long against this behemoth, but they would learn what they could and make do. At the very least, she’d be able to gather some information about this thing before Gabite had to intervene. “Horsea, use Agility. If it attacks, take cover beneath the pier itself!” The automaton and its master looked intent on winning, but Cynthia doubted that either of them would intentionally cause property damage. At least she could use this against them.

Horsea trilled in response and began flipping in intricate somersaults in the water, performing a rigorous routine to increase her speed and dodging capabilities. “Metang, let’s see how fast they really are. Use Iron Head!”

With a low-pitched chime, the metal Pokémon dipped its head low and rocketed toward Horsea with an agility that Cynthia wouldn’t have expected from a Pokémon of its size. That thing can float! she thought in alarm, watching as the Metang easily zipped off the docks and hovered over the water, much like its predecessor had. The tip of its head glowered silver as it rocketed toward the seahorse, but Cynthia needn’t have worried – Horsea managed to dodge out of the way just in time, only narrowly being clipped by the attack and riding the wave back toward the docks.

Steven was smirking from that. Why?

“Use Twister,” Cynthia commanded. It might’ve been cheap to hold their distance and employ long-ranged attacks, but a victory was a victory nonetheless.

Steven paused. His eyes narrowed while he studied the way Horsea gathered up a surge of energy, releasing it in a gust of wind that quickly gathered salty air and a torrent of water around it. “Use Metal Claw at the base of the cyclone to cut off the water supply!”

The metal Pokémon hummed in affirmation and launched itself forward. This time, the deadly-looking claws on its arms glowed silver instead of its head, but it still had the same steely look of determination in its eyes, no pun intended. It crossed both of its arms in front of its body, either bracing itself or gathering up one last final push of energy, before it slashed powerfully at the base of the oncoming twister.

The resulting shockwave sent a blast of air through the docks, causing some people to turn their heads and notice the battle at last. However, neither of the combatants seemed fazed by it. A couple of drops of water landed on Horsea’s dampened scales, while Metang easily weathered the gentle breeze.

Cynthia couldn’t help but let out a low whistle. “That’s a powerful Pokémon you’ve got there,” she said, nodding approvingly at Metang.

“I wouldn’t ask for anything less from my starter,” Steven responded confidently. “Well, half of it is my starter, anyway, and the other half, well, it’s kind of a long story, and…”

The boy had strategy. She’d give him that. But there was something else about him that had made her stop and think. Something had drawn her eyes to him when she’d seen him staring in the docks. Something had made her think that he was more than just some random stalker. But she couldn’t… quite… place it.

No matter. There’d be time for that sentimental stuff later. For now, she was interested in the way that Metang hummed as it methodically hovered in the air. Even here, each of its talons flexed and unflexed as if they had a mind of its own, even though they attacked in tandem. Interesting. “Bubblebeam!” she commanded. “Try to focus on just one of the arms and slow it down.”

“Take it head-on and retaliate with Iron Head.”

Both Pokémon readied their attacks. Metang braced itself and began focusing its energy in hardening its helm, while Horsea gathered up a substantial amount of water in her snout and aerated it. Horsea reacted first, exhaling a steady stream of bubbles that raced toward Metang with surprising speed. Metang waited half a second longer, humming before folding its arms in front of its body and blocking as much of the beam as it could. The vibrations made dull, pinging echoes on its metal exoskeleton.

Then, it began racing toward Horsea again. For a short period of time, it was stalled by the onslaught of water, but it quickly gained momentum and broke through, smacking the seahorse Pokémon squarely in the chest and sending her flying.

Cynthia gave a sigh of relief as Horsea was able to slow most her its fall by hitting the water and diving down, easily avoiding Metang’s follow-up strike. She saw Steven smiling – the boy was probably pleased that he’d finally gotten a solid hit off. Well, that was good for him. In the meantime, she’d learned something very important.

The two halves of Metang looked like they were just that, two halves. They attacked in synch, defended in synch, and even took damage in synch, but they were two different entities that were communicating with one another somehow. The mismatched eyes had been the first suggestion of this, and the way that they’d tried to split damage when Horsea aimed for one of them had been the nail in the proverbial coffin. Now…

All that remained was to disrupt them. “Horsea, re-surface and use Signal Beam!”

The seahorse Pokémon complied and fired a powerful, rainbow beam tinged with green across the water, smacking Metang head-on. At first, the attack seemed wasted on the Pokémon’s steely exterior. However, after a few moments, the secondary effects became clear as Metang issued a horrifying screeching sound that was very unlike its usual melodic tones. Cynthia gritted her teeth as the ear-shattering screech tore through the air.

“Metang, what’s wrong?” Steven cried out frantically, but his Pokémon was flailing in the air and didn’t seem to hear him.

“Oi, what do you think you’re doing! Keep it down!” a small boy clutching on to the back of a much taller man shouted, covering his ears in a vain attempt to stop the noise.

“Sorry!” Cynthia shouted unapologetically, and then returned to the battle. “Send it flying with another Bubblebeam,” she commanded, allowing herself a small smile. One simple observation had tipped the scaled vastly in her favour, and now this day was looking much better already.

“HOOOORR!” Horsea shouted.

“HODOR?” shouted the tall man with the boy strapped to his back as he chivalrously held the door to a shop open before entering himself.

“SEEEEEE!” Horsea finished, ejecting a thick stream of bubbles from her snout. This time, the attack hit Metang head-on, pummelling the Pokémon’s steely exterior and leaving it rather bruised. It only managed one last disjointed chime before plummeting into the water. Whatever levitation systems it had must’ve been a product of its synched thinking as well, Cynthia thought.

“Great work, Horsea!” Cynthia called out encouragingly. Maybe this was what I needed after all, she thought to herself, watching Steven scanning the shore for his Pokémon. A little bit of an easy win to remind myself that I can still control some things in my life, I guess.

As if to disprove her point, Metang burst triumphantly out of the water again, its red eyes having regained their focus. Perhaps being dunked underwater had given the metal beast some time to clear its head. No matter. “Fall back using Agility, and then hit it with another Signal Beam! We can do this all day!”

“Oh no you don’t!” Steven shouted back. “Metang, use Confusion to pin it down!”

Damn, I hadn’t expected that one, was all Cynthia had time to think before Metang raised its arms into the air, summoning a pink cloud of energy that wrapped around Horsea and lifted her out of the water. The seahorse Pokémon floundered weakly, but outside of its natural element, there wasn’t much it could do.

“Finish it off with Metal Claw!”

Cynthia flinched back as Metang’s attack hit home once again, smashing Horsea’s frail body deep underwater with an enormous splash. She looked into the water, not expecting much, and she wasn’t surprised to see Horsea’s limp body float slowly to the surface. The poor Pokémon was completely unconscious from that final blow.

“You did great, Horsea,” she said encouragingly, recalling the seahorse back to her Pokéball. Truth be told, she’d been able to glean a lot about this Steven boy from the last few turns of their battle. It would be an uphill climb with Gabite, but she was sure that they could manage. Now, if only there was a way to capitalise on Metang’s weaknesses…

“So, are you gonna send out your last Pokémon or not?” Steven called out jauntily from his side of the pier.

Oh haha, repeating my own words back to me, Cynthia thought darkly to herself. She hefted the Pokéball. “We’ll see who’s laughing now. Gabite, it’s your turn!”

[/hr]


In the few minutes of battle, Steven had forgotten how ferocious the Gabite was. Perhaps the fact tiny Baltoy had forced Cynthia to switch out had distracted him, but as the PokeBall soared through the air, Steven felt confident Prometheus would be able to win.

Then he saw Gabite again, and his heart sank.

Oh right… Gabite was about the same height as Cynthia, possibly taller, and those fins that had failed to hit Baltoy looked a lot more threatening up close. The Dragon scowled as it eyed up his new opponent, and Prometheus chimed as he recalibrated from the last match-up, hovering emotionlessly before the beast.

Cynthia must have seen Steven’s confidence fall, as she smirked at him from across the pitch. “You did a good job in taking down Horsea, I will give you that, but it’ll take a lot to bring Gabite down. Tougher trainers than you have struggled.”

Steven didn’t want to admit it, but he knew this would be a struggle. He didn’t take any damage from Baltoy, just wore himself out a little. Prometheus might be able to hold his own, but who knows what tricks she has in –

No! I can’t think this way. I may have lost against Wallace, and Peter, and Christine… okay, I’ve lost a lot, and it sucks, but I am never going to win if I think this way. We both have only one Pokémon left, I have a real shot at winning this, and I am not going to lay down and take it!

“Well, I don’t know what weak trainers you’ve faced back in Sinnoh, but you’ve never fought a Pokémon like Prometheus before!”

“That’s true,” Cynthia said, managing a smile. “We don’t get many weird magnet Pokémon up in the foggy mountains. Frankly, I don’t even know how magnets work, so this will be a big learning experience for me.”

“Does anyone though?”

Cynthia shrugged, smirking slightly, before her eyes narrowed and she stared back at the battlefield. Steven could tell she was in this to win, and he grinned determinedly, unwilling to back down now.

“Brick Break, aim for the middle!”

“Stop them with Confusion!” Steven tried hard to mask his worry, but the specific nature of the command was concerning.

Gabite leapt forward, raising his left fin and readying to bring it down on Prometheus’ head. Thankfully, at the last second as bone has about to strike metal, the Metang’s eyes glowed pink, a small cloud forming that froze Gabite in mid-air.

Steven was so pleased it had worked he wanted to jump for joy, but under Cynthia’s steely glare he froze and composed himself. “Hold him and use Metal Claw!”

Prometheus let out a cheery chime as it began slashing the opponent, swiping glowing silver claws repeatedly across the Dragon’s face. Steven smiled, feeling the tide of battle turning in his favour.

“Dragonbreath, go!” Cynthia barked, and Gabite instantly unleashed the purple-tinged flames, as though he had been holding them back all along. Prometheus sounded distraught as the attack struck, and Steven groaned as the effects of Confusion passed, letting Gabite land heavily on the pier.

“Brick Break again!”

“Confusion, throw him in the water!”

The purple flames danced across Prometheus for a few moments, causing it to squirm, desperately trying to shake them off. In the confusion, Gabite reared up and finally brought down his attack, slamming his fin forcefully in the joint between both halves. The power of the attack caused Prometheus to crash down to the ground with a metallic thud, and for a moment Steven was afraid he would break in half.

But, after several tense seconds, Steven was relieved to see his Pokémon’s eyes flash, and suddenly Gabite was hurtling through the air. Cynthia was slow to react, staring dazed at the Metang before realising at the last moment what was happening.

“Grab onto the edge, use your fins!” She screamed. Steven could see she was disoriented, her manicured confidence gone as her eyes continued to stare at Prometheus. There had been something mysterious about her that had drawn his eyes to her earlier, but he wasn’t quite sure what it was…

“GA!” Gabite’s fretful cry brought him back to attention: Steven could see the Dragon was barely holding on, balancing on just one fin with the water crashing against the pier beneath him. Getting him in there would be a huge advantage, and he couldn’t let this go.

“Iron Head!” Prometheus rose up into the air once more and swivelled towards the opponent. With a metallic ring, the Metang went racing forwards diving down towards its struggling foe.

“Grab hold and hit it with Dragonbreath!” Cynthia roared, and with a cry to rival hers, Gabite pushed himself off the pier and absorbed the blow of the Iron Head, wrapping his fins around Prometheus. The Metang cried out as it tried to throw Gabite off, but despite the slippery metal surface, Gabite had managed to hook his fins in behind Prometheus’ arms.

“BITEEEE!” He shouted, and doused Prometheus in another burst of fire. Despite the fact it was his Pokémon being attacked, Steven had to admire what a sight it was to behold, like a firework going off in broad daylight.

“You’ve raised an impressive Pokémon,” he called out.

“So have you, but that won’t be enough to save you,” Cynthia replied, her steely smile returning. “Sandstorm, let’s wrap this up!”

And just like that, the sunny day was gone. Steven had been enjoying the weather, the perfect antidote to all he had been through lately, and it was a tad crushing to watch it disappear in a sudden cloud of brown: sand engulfed their field, battering the nearby shops and boats and completely consuming the scene.

“I can’t see anything, Prometheus!” He yelled. “Can you try coming where I can see you?” From the other side of the cloud, Cynthia’s laugh rang out.

“I don’t normally try and help the other team out, but that is pretty poor advice. At any rate, there is little you can do now – Gabite, Brick Break!”

Steven was annoyed, but he wasn’t going to let a bit of sand stop them. “Counter with Iron Head!”

If he squinted hard enough, Steven could see movement through the sand: the sun was not completely obscured, so Prometheus’ metallic body shone as it tried to attack. Yet Gabite seemed to disappear: Steven could make out only the occasional cobalt blur, but the Dragon seemed to be hiding.

“BITE!” The scream was followed by a metal clang as Prometheus bounced off the pier, the echo making Steven wince on behalf of his Pokémon.

“He’s nearby, Iron Head!” A clank rang out in response, and Steven could just make out Prometheus floating back up and diving towards where the attack had come from. No sound of contact came out though, and instead the Metang came to a halt, floating in circles as it tried to find the target.

A familiar smug snicker sounded across the makeshift battlefield. “I know it isn’t conventional to help you out, but there’s no fun in an easy win. Gabite’s ability is Sand Veil – it activates in Sandstorm, making it nigh impossible to land an easy blow.”

Steven muttered under his breath: this is the sort of thing a true trainer should know, and Miss Carolyn had likely mentioned it at some point. “Why are you helping me?”

“I’m not sure really. I do have a thing for picking up stray boys by the sea… but I’m having fun, I wasn’t expecting that. Like I said, defeating you this quickly would just be dull.” Cynthia spoke airily, as though lost in her thoughts. Steven smirked at her confidence: it was just the inspiration he needed to beat her.

“Don’t you worry, we are not going down without a fight!” Steven looked at the Sandstorm, wondering what, if anything, there was he could do to remove this advantage. The swirling mass of dirt was only going to further aid Cynthia, even if his Metang would be unharmed directly by the storm.

Prometheus was able to score a few hits, and Confusion nearly forced Gabite under water. If we can just get rid of the sand, we can still do this – wait, that’s it!

“Use Confusion on the sand!” Steven yelled, nearly punching the air in his enthusiasm. A chime sounded in the middle of the storm, and Prometheus’ eyes turned pink, shining out like lights in a fog. The Metang began to whirr, its eyes quivering slightly, and for a moment Steven was worried his plan had failed.

Suddenly, the storm froze. It was as though someone had pressed pause, and now the moment was frozen in time. Steven’s jaw dropped as he stared at the scene: thousands, possibly millions, of sand particles were hanging in mid-air, the mass of brown now shining pink as the Psychic attack held things in place. It was beautiful, the type of masterpiece an artist could have created. And there was Prometheus right amongst it all, body shaking and eyes glowing, but he was still holding on.

“As much as I want to take a photograph of this for another time – though really, what kind of dickhead uses a camera during a battle? – I’m not here for the memories: Gabite, Brick Break!”

Steven barely noticed Cynthia’s command, too enamoured with the scene and Prometheus’ power to register anything else. It was only when Gabite leapt up, using his free fin to push the time-frozen sand aside, that Steven remembered the battle.

“Metal Claw, quickly!” He yelled, but it was no use: Gabite’s attack hit square on a second later, slamming into the right side of Prometheus. The Metang let out a horrible screech, right eye spinning wildly from the pain, and suddenly the sand was moving again: if Confusion had been the pause button, Brick Break had hit play and things were right as they were, lost in the tornado of dirt.

“Confusion, get rid of him!” Steven yelled desperately. We can’t lose, Prometheus: come on, fight back, I know you can do this!

“DragonBreath!” Cynthia commanded, and through the swirling sand, the violet flames exploded in the middle of the field. Prometheus’ left side was doused in the draconic fire, and the Metang unleashed a second barrage of metallic shrieks. Beneath the painful cries, an angry grunt sounded out, and Steven lit up: somehow, Prometheus had managed to use Confusion even with all that pain.

This isn’t lost yet, we can still do this. As Steven stared at the field, trying to concoct his next play, he realised things were clearing up: the sun was shining brighter and brighter, and Gabite and Prometheus were slowly being revealed.

“Confusion again; don’t let them hit us Sandstorm again!” Prometheus’ chimes were sounding more like groans, and its right side was sagging slightly, but the … Pokémon still unleashed its attack.

“Ga!” Gabite groaned as the pink cloud struck his face, no longer protected by his self-made storm. Cynthia looked irritable, though with a slight smile that showed she was impressed. Steven simply beamed back, fists clenched tightly with determination: the battle was coming to an end, he could sense it, and it was time to give it their all.

“Brick Break, finish this!”

“Iron Head, GO!”

Both Pokémon charged towards the other, moving like gladiators going in for the kill. Steven could not tell which Pokémon would come out triumphant, but as Gabite leapt through the air and Prometheus raced to meet him, he knew that they had tried their hardest: whether it was enough, he would soon find out.

In a single second, the two Pokémon met.

Gabite roared with savage ferocity as he brought his fin crashing down, aiming for Prometheus’ left side. The collision of Brick Break and Iron Head kept both Pokémon airborne for a moment, Steven and Cynthia watching in captivated silence; then, the force of impact sent both fighters bouncing backwards. Gabite landed on his tail, skidding back before coming to a stop; unfortunately, Steven had to watch through nervous eyes as Prometheus crashed to earth with metallic bangs that echoed everywhere.

“Prometheus, are you alright?” But even as Steven ran forwards and collapsed to his knees, he knew there would be no response. The Metang was upside down, eyes shut and arms limp, its defeat clear and obvious. There was nothing for Steven to do but sit there, stroking the cold metal surface, thinking on how it had come to this.

[/hr]

Well, that’s that then.

“Great job, you did well.” Breathing heavily, chest heaving, Gabite turned towards his trainer and nodded stoically, trying not to let the extent of his tiredness show. Cynthia nodded back as she withdrew him, masking her own emotions. She was taken aback by how much the fight had taken out of him, yet knew she had no reason to be surprised.

The last few weeks had gone by in a blur, each day slipping without fanfare into the next, and her training had suffered because of it. After what she had been through, Cynthia had had little desire to go out and watch her Pokémon fight each other. Gabite, Horsea and Swablu had been there to comfort and support, but the idea of training when Cynthia had no idea what she was doing next simply sapped the life from her.

I need to get back to training them properly. That was Gabite’s first fight since… Cynthia stopped herself there. It was a beautiful day, she had just won her first battle in weeks: she did not want to ruin it thinking back on that night, putting herself back amongst the flames, remember that laughing face again…

“That was a good match,” she called out, forcing herself to think of anything else. She smiled down at Steven as she walked forwards, stepping over cracked stone. “I haven’t had a fight like that for a while.”

“Yeah, well, I’m glad you enjoyed it.” Cynthia stopped a few feet from the Metang, taken aback by the sudden coldness in Steven’s voice. He did not look at her as he finally withdrew his Pokémon, and continued to look down as he stood up and turned. “Well, thanks for the battle. I should probably take my Pokémon to get healed, so… yeah, bye.”

“Goodbye.” Cynthia was not sure what had happened to the awkward, curious boy she had met half an hour ago, but as Steven and his blue hair disappeared down the promenade, she felt a tinge of annoyance.

Why bother battling someone if you can’t handle losing? Feeling confused and bothered, Cynthia turned away from the battlefield and gazed around the port town that surrounded her. The sun shone off the still, crystal blue water, small boats bobbing at their moorings. There were only a few stores around, one long line of small town capitalism that stretched from the ferry terminal right up to where Littleroot began properly. There was little to do here, and her only way onwards was east.

Yet, Cynthia had no idea what to do. She turned the way Steven had left, staring towards the multi-coloured trees and houses that were waiting for her, but she was without a goal. Cynthia had only come to Hoenn on a whim, hoping putting a giant ocean between herself and her grandmother would help clear her head and ease her guilt, but she had made no plans of what to do upon arrival: train, battle gyms, just look around avoiding mystical conspiracies and confused little boys in the process?

“Well fuck me,” she groaned, wishing now the battle had dragged on for just a little longer. It was that thought crossed her mind that she caught something out of the corner of her eye, and Cynthia turned towards a jetty at the end of the promenade: there was Steven, sitting on the very edge, blue hair being toussled by the sea breeze.

“Hey,” Cynthia said a minute later as she sank down next to Steven, legs dangling over the edge of the sea. How had she spent so long staying beside the ocean and never taken the time to truly appreciate its beauty, the mystery and majesty the sea had to offer?

She sat in silence for a while, simply appreciating the view, before Steven finally replied. “You don’t have to talk to me, I don’t need your pity. Battle’s over, you won, end of story.”

“If it was that simple, why did you run off?” Cynthia asked, staring knowingly at the boy. Steven looked at her briefly, his face distraught, before determinedly staring at his feet again. “You know, I literally have nothing to do and nowhere to go, I don’t even know why I came here really, so I am not going anywhere until you tell me what’s wrong.”

Steven didn’t reply at first. Cynthia had thought at first that he was simply upset, the way any child got when things weren’t going their way, but the longer the silence dragged on, the more she realised this was a crisis of confidence, an internal struggle built up over several weeks – the sort of emotional upheaval she knew all too well.

“I’m just sick of always losing. I’ve been travelling for what seems like ages now and I still haven’t won a single gym badge, and I always lose to my friends when I train with them. It just makes you wonder if this is the path you should be going down, you know? My father didn’t really want me to travel and become a trainer, and I’m starting to think he might be right.”

There was a sniff and then silence once again. Though he did not look directly at her, Steven gazed at Cynthia out of the corner of his eye, expecting her to say something having now dragged his issues out of him.

Yet how could Cynthia help him when she could not even help herself? Listening to his problems, she was shaken by how familiar they were: running away, fighting back against a relative, being made to regret it. The crueller part of her was tempted to point out how much worse off she had it, but Cynthia had seen where malice and manipulation could lead: what was there to gain from pointing out her own problems asides from making him feel bad?

“I’m sorry to hear about your losses, and I wish I had an easy answer to make you feel better, but I don’t. My life is pretty much in tatters itself at the moment, so I am really in no position to doling out advice.” Cynthia looked back to the ocean, staring out at the endless stretches of water before them.

“It was actually by the ocean when my life fell apart. This is the closest I’ve been to the sea since all that happened. Let’s just say I ran away from home as well, and things really didn’t go as I expected.”

Steven laughed sadly. “Yeah, I know how that feels. I thought running away would make everything better, but I’ve only run into problem after problem, and it really tires you out.”

“That’s the thing about life, though. It rolls in these phases of good and bad. You can be winning at life for ages: weeks, months, years, everything just goes your way and you think it’ll never end. Then it can take just one thing to come along and screw everything up.

“The only upside to that is that it works in reverse. When you are at your lowest, when you think things can’t get any worse, the only way for you to change things is to aim upwards, force yourself out of that streak.”

“That’s easier said than done.”

“I know,” Cynthia sighed. “I’ve spent weeks trying to forget about what happened to me, what I did, but it only kept following me around. There are times where I realise I haven’t thought about things for a few hours, and I become overjoyed, but then it all comes back to me and I just shut down.”

“I noticed you pause during the battle, when Prometheus was on fire.” Cynthia nodded, remembering: it only took a simple flame on a candle now to send her back to the library, and she was doubtful that would ever change.

“Some things you can’t move on from or forget, but you just have to learn to live with it, or focus on something else to help you through. Like I decided to come here to help clear my head, put some distance between myself and my problems.”

“So you think I should buy a ferry ticket and head halfway across the world to become a better trainer?” Steven asked, smiling, and Cynthia laughed.

“You don’t have to be as drastic as me – in fact, I wouldn’t base any of your decisions on me at all – but you can’t just carry on as normal and hope things get better. You need to do something, anything, differently, otherwise you will only keep going downhill.”

Steven nodded as she spoke but didn’t say anything, letting it all sink in. Cynthia was glad for the pause in conversation, needing the time herself to take in what she had said, suddenly realising the answers she had needed were there all along.

Suddenly, Steven leapt up, jumping so enthusiastically for a moment it looked like he might fall into the ocean. But he steadied himself and looked at Cynthia with the wide-eyed, child-like enthusiasm he had worn earlier that day.


“Thank you, Cynthia. I didn’t know how much I needed that. I think I’m going to go heal Baltoy and Prometheus and then get right into training. Your right: I can’t keep battling the same people over and over again who always win, I need to try something different.”

“I’m glad I could help,” Cynthia replied, still lost in her own thoughts but overwhelmed by his infectious enthusiasm. She got up and extended her hand. “Until we meet again.”

“Until we do,” Steven said, grasping her hand and shaking it joyfully. “You know, when I first saw you, for some reason I had this mental image of us battling again one day, but on a much bigger scale. I don’t know where it came from, but it felt real to me.”

Cynthia smiled as they broke apart. “Maybe it will happen, I’d like that.”

“Either way, once I get better, I’m going to find you and I will beat you next time!”

“You can try,” Cynthia replied, and laughed as Steven ran off down the jetty, waving at her as she headed out of sight. She was left alone, and turned back to the ocean: Wingull hovered overhead, a ferry skidded across the waves, and somewhere across the horizon, far, far away, Sinnoh was there, waiting for her return. Cynthia knew she would have to return someday, that she could not avoid her problems forever, but as she shut her eyes and turned away, smiling, she knew there was no point dwelling on the past.

For now, the only way to go was forwards.


OUTRO:

As even and open minded as we aim to be in planning these battles, it was fairly early in the discussions that we knew Cynthia would walk away from this victorious. While Steven is not incompetent or awful by any means, his lack of experience that is present in the most recent chapter of Stainless Steel made it clear he would not be able to conquer Cynthia. His multiple gym losses and small team of Pokémon were prevalent in the decision making.
Cynthia, meanwhile, has been shown as a thoughtful and strong trainer in Dawn of Darkness, mostly through her trusted Gabite who has taken on many foes, and her most significant loss in that story was due to the actions of someone else. Given the wider choice of Pokémon to choose between, which had clear type advantages and strategies to counter Steven’s Pokémon, added to that decision.

Both writers here tried to present the battle as evenly as possible, and included internal dialogue to highlight both trainers as keen strategists with strengths and weaknesses. As Steven will become Champion one day, we could not portray him as being entirely useless as that would be unrealistic and, let’s be honest, quite dull to read.

Either way, this matchup between two future Champions had to be something epic, exciting and thrilling, despite having unevolved Pokémon and a narrow battlefield to take into consideration. Hopefully when these two do fight again, they can do it on a truly grand scale.

Cynthia Carter v. Steven Stone

Project manager: @kintsugi
Contributing writer: @AceTrainer14

Based on characters created by AceTrainer14 and @Lugion

Next time...

JC v. KD
 
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Thesaurus rex
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“HODOR?” shouted the tall man with the boy strapped to his back as he chivalrously held the door to a shop open before entering himself.
That's got El's fingerprints all over it.

It occurs to me that this is a bit of a difficult one, given what stage Steven is in his story. He has the potential to be a good match up for Cynthia, but the source material doesn't give enough to for it to be an epic duel. I suppose it does at least allow for a nice parallel for the denouement, which in a way may well be better anyway - yeah, fine, this is called Crossover Battles, but that's no reason to abandon attempts at writing a story around them.

In any case, I think Metang does genuinely present a problem for Cynthia - it's not an easy species to deal with, Gabite or no Gabite. If Steven were a more experienced trainer Cynthia really would be in trouble. Imagine if Steven had decided to have Metang fling Gabite into the sea, par example

Jesus Christ (Naughty Bethany, you know Christ is a title, not a name) Joshua Cook vs Kamin Duskwillow. My own analysis would peg that as a tough match for Josh to deal with
 
The acest of trainers
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Drat, and I there I was hoping that having the Pokemon screaming their names at each other before attacking would sufficiently disguise my writing as Ace's.
I'm deeply offended
 
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Brock's Pikachu
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Post Awards feedback!

While this is one of those stories that doesn't need a plot, one thing I would suggest improving is adding more details to the world this is set in--as it is, there's a lot of telling and not enough showing. Showing more would work wonders in bringing this world (wherever it is) to life.

But this was my only qualm with the story, thankfully. You guys do great at keeping the characters in each match faithful to their in story counterparts, and the commentators are wonderful to read as well
 
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