Vermillion City, “the Port of Exquisite Sunsets,” or so proclaimed the sign on the wall of the first building we passed. It was certainly a smaller town than Saffron, but much more active. Currently, however, the sun was high in the sky.
The salty smell of sea air and the cool breeze in my face reminded me of Pallet Town. I closed my eyes and smiled at the nostalgia as we walked down the cobblestone streets.
I followed Tim to where the gym was apparently located, in the marina. We walked through a crowded marketplace full of fish vendors and people trying to pawn off bits of sea-polished glass and odd looking pieces of driftwood. This was definitely a lot like home, but bigger.
In all honesty, I expected Tim to stop to get something to eat at one of the stalls but he plowed on ahead. I guess he was just eager to get a move on.
I was lost in thought as we maneuvered through the crowd when I bumped into a very tall man.
“Sorry,” I said, not looking at him. I kept walking; Tim had stopped to let me catch up.
“Hey!” yelled the man in a loud, gruff voice. “Well, look at that. The pussy has a boyfriend.”
“Great,” Tim muttered to me, “you found Surge.”
I turned to look at the intimidating figure which had approached us. The lieutenant was tall, very tall. He was probably about a foot and a half taller than me, and that’s saying something. And he wasn’t skinny either. Massive muscles bulged out of each arm; veins even showed in his thick neck. He was wearing a sleeveless green shirt and grey cargo pants. His hair was a short, blond, crew cut.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing back here?” the gym leader yelled at my friend, “did you want to get your little ass beat around by me? Or maybe you brought your little fag friend here for a romantic getaway!”
His loud insults were beginning to attract attention. “I thought you beat him,” I whispered to Tim.
“I did,” my friend replied, swallowing.
“Beat me?” said Surge, as loud as ever, “It was a fluke! Just because I lost doesn’t mean you beat me. HA! As if!”
This guy was really starting to piss me off. I stood up straight and looked him in the eye as best as I could.
“Actually,” I said, angrily, “yeah, that’s exactly what it means. Don’t be a bitch.”
The last sentence just slipped out. It proved to be a mistake. Surge raised one large hand and planted it on my chest. He pushed me backwards, hard, into Tim, causing both of us to fall over.
Untangling our limbs, I stood up and glared at Surge. He was just standing there with his arms crossed, laughing. Rage and hatred flowed through my body. I clenched my fists so hard that my fingernails cut into my palm. I was about to jump at the gym leader and plant a fist in his pompous, laughing face when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Tim.
“It’s not worth it, dude. Don’t stoop to his level. Stay classy.” He grinned at me.
Stay classy. It had been our graduating class’ motto. Tim’s reference to our life in Pallet Town helped me control my anger. I turned back to the lieutenant, who had stopped laughing. Now he just stood with a big, stupid grin on his wide face. People all around had stopped to watch the confrontation.
This time, I stood at a safe distance when I insulted him.
“All right you ass-licking cunt,” I said. “I’m challenging you to a gym battle. Three on three, right?”
The military man ignored my remark, “Yeah, but I doubt I’ll need that many to wipe the floor with you.”
“I’ll beat you with one,” I replied, “and I won’t say a single command. See you at the marina, asshole. Come on, Tim.” Without waiting for a response, I grabbed Tim’s arm and turned away to push through the crowds of people now surrounding us. They parted to let me and my friend by.
Before we turned the corner at the end of the street, I looked back over my shoulder. Lt. Surge was still standing there, the grin wiped from his face. My confidence had clearly put him off somewhat. I had no doubt that I was the one who would be doing the floor wiping. No one insults my friend and gets away with it.
(BGM: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk)
About an hour later, Tim and I stood at the docks. The “gym” consisted of only a battlefield.
The battlefield was a part of the docks, a rectangular, wooden raft. About three feet of open water separated it from the pier on all sides. It was the smallest field I had been on, but left enough room in the middle for battling. A tall, mustached League referee stood on one of the long sides of the raft.
Surge stood on the short end of the raft opposite us.
“Hahaha! Let’s get this over with you little fag!” he yelled at me.
I didn’t respond, instead handing my backpack to Tim and jumping on to my end of the raft. I drew a single Poké Ball from my belt.
The gym leader seemed to have recovered from his shock earlier. Confidently, he cried out, “Voltorb! Kick some ass!” and threw his first Poké Ball forward.
Again, I didn’t say anything. Casually, I tossed out my own Poké Ball.
Sailors, dockworkers, and tourists walking by on the pier began to stop to watch. Some of them cheered for Surge, some of them for “the Kadabra kid.”
I took a deep breath. My Pokémon’s large tail twitched ever so slightly as I made psychic contact with it.
“Tackle!” called out my opponent.
This was going to be very easy. Barrier
, I told Psyke.
The red and white ball rolled forward quickly, only to roll straight into our invisible barrier. It pushed through, but was slowed down to an entirely non-threatening pace. Psyke coolly stopped the ball with its foot before blasting it backwards with a psybeam. I don’t think the poor electric-type even realized what was going on.
It spun around to slow itself to a halt at the feet of its furious trainer.
“That’s it. Get in close and use self-destruct!” Surge yelled.
Had this guy really been in the army? He knew nothing about keeping strategy a secret.
Voltorb once again rolled forward, but this time it began to glow in a similar fashion to evolution.
, I told my Pokémon.
The ball was glowing brighter as Psyke’s telekinetic powers lifted it into the air. Nonchalantly, the psy Pokémon tossed it over the heads of the spectators into the water on the far side of the pier.
“No!” shouted my opponent in dismay, but it was too late.
From behind the crowd a muffled explosion was heard, and a large column of water shot up into the air. Surge, red with anger, jumped off our raft onto the main pier in pursuit of his Pokémon. Shoving people out of the way, he cleared a path. I could see his Voltorb floating bottom up in the water, bobbing in the waves like a fishing lure.
“Voltorb is unable to battle, Kadabra wins,” stated the referee, bluntly.
The gym leader recalled his Pokémon and jumped back into his position on the far side of the raft.
“Your next Pokémon?” asked the referee. He seemed unfazed by Surge’s anger. I guess you got used to this kind of stuff.
“You’re dead, kid. Go Pikachu!” cried out my opponent.
I almost laughed out loud. The cute little electric mouse was definitely not one of the Pokémon I had imagined the tough-guy Lt. Surge to have. Cuteness aside, its power was not on par with the kind of Pokémon that were usually sent out in accompaniment with death threats.
My opponent focused on his Pokémon’s speed abilities, using agility and quick attack to get in close. It didn’t work very well, as Psyke teleported around the raft every second or so and put up barriers, but eventually a single quick attack made contact.
Surge laughed in victory but got arrogant. He ordered an iron tail, despite the fact that my Kadabra was now the whole length of the raft away from Pikachu. His Pokémon obeyed this folly and leaped into the air with what was actually an incredible amount of height for such a small Pokémon.
I knew iron tail would be a powerful attack, so I had Psyke take a step backwards and put up as many barriers in the way of Pikachu as possible.
As I had planned, the metallic glow in Pikachu’s tail died ever so slightly with each barrier it passed through. In a possibly risky attempt to humiliate Surge, I had Psyke reach out with a bare hand and grab the mouse’s tail in mid air.
I felt my Kadabra grimace as a painful shock wave shivered up and down its arm at the contact, but it held on. The pain traveled through our connection into my own arm, which I grasped with a sharp intake of breath. We were temporarily disconnected, but I dove right back in.
The crowd gasped collectively and Surge swore, but no one was more shocked than Pikachu, who didn’t even know to react while it dangled upside down from Psyke’s hand, dazed.
Psyke flicked it casually on the nose with its spoon, and blasted it away with a psybeam before it recovered its senses.
“Pikachu is unable to battle. Kadabra wins.”
Surge didn’t even say anything this time. I couldn’t tell what was going through his head, but the veins bulging in his neck made it clear that he was more furious than ever.
I only had to take out one more Pokémon. I was sure it would be the hardest of the three, but Psyke wasn’t even breathing hard yet. I sent it some reassuring support through our psychic connection.
In all honesty, taking out all three of his Pokémon with just Psyke wasn’t a complete necessity. But, for the sake of both my dignity and Tim’s, I had to do it.
My opponent’s third and final Pokémon came out attacking.
“Rai-CHUUU!” it cried, in a much more gravelly voice than its pre-evolution.
A powerful thunderbolt near instantaneously bridged the gap between our two Pokémon. I ordered a light screen, but it did little.
The electricity crackled through my Kadabra’s muscles, causing them to tense and spasm uncontrollably. Our connection blurred, and almost failed.
I sent hastily.
Psyke’s psychic nudge spun Raichu around, causing the electricity to break off.
“Body slam!” ordered Surge, before I could even recover.
That’s it! Teleport, then recover,
I told Psyke.
The electric mouse leaped at my Pokémon, seeking to flatten it beneath its mass. At the last second, Psyke disappeared and reappeared at the far side of the raft, near to Surge. It glowed, sparkling slightly as it recovered energy.
Now that we were back at square one, with both Pokémon at full health, the battle really began.
Raichu was strong, there was no doubt about that. I did have doubts, however, about its trainer. His constant calling out of techniques was so incredibly easy to manipulate that I almost felt sorry for his Pokémon. Raichu’s sheer power, though, made it difficult to turn my evasions and parries into genuinely powerful counterattacks. I only managed to land a couple confusions here and there.
Soon enough I found my chance. Raichu had just knocked Psyke’s feet out from under it with an iron tail. Expecting another teleport out of harm’s way, Raichu jumped backwards, rather than following up on its attack. I took the opportunity to grab hold of it with a psychic attack from my Kadabra. Before the electric type could wrestle free, like it had several times before, I had Psyke launch as powerful of a psybeam as it could manage.
The bright beam of energy struck Raichu square in the chest, eliciting cheers and groans from the crowd. The Pokémon flew backward at the impact, crashing into its trainer.
Surge took a step backward to steady himself, only to find that there was nowhere to step behind him. He lost his balanced and fell into the water between the raft and the pier, swearing loudly. A majority of the crowd burst out laughing at his spluttering in the water.
Raichu collapsed on the deck.
“Raichu is unable to battle, Kadabra wins. This battle goes to Keith!” cried the referee to a cheering of the small crowd. I guess Surge was not very well liked, even in his own town.
I recalled a spent Psyke and watched Surge attempt to climb back aboard the raft. The referee walked up to me and held out his hand. In it was the Thunder Badge.
“The League doesn’t trust him to actually hand these out, so this is for you,” said the man.
I took the pin from his hand and examined it. It was yellow, in the shape of an eight pointed star, with an orange octagon in the middle.
“You should probably get out of here,” suggested the referee, “Surge is known to strangle competitors who beat him.”
“Point taken,” I replied, pinning the badge to my fabric piece on my belt.
I turned and jumped back onto the pier. Tim handed me my backpack and gave me a high five.
“That was awesome, you kicked his ass! I guess Sabrina’s training really paid off,” said my friend.
I just nodded, adrenaline from the battle still in my veins. We started off down the pier, ignoring the shouts behind us of “where is that cheating little fuck?!”
I wanted to write a gym battle where Keith totally kicked ass, but without it getting boring because of the lack of suspense. I'm satisfied with the result. What do you think?
NEXT: To Lavender Town! Action scene time!