The fighting was fierce. Victreebel opened by blasting an orange stun spore forward, and then lashing out with a vine whip. A single ember attack made the spore burst into a violent fireball, immediately followed by Growlithe dodging the vine with agility and dashing forward through the flames. Its powerful take down attack was the first hit of the battle.
Good, I thought, nervously cracking my knuckles. So far, this was no problem, I just had to keep it up.
As my new fire-type rebounded off of its opponent and jumped back into position in front of me, I looked up at the gym leader. It was very odd to watch Erika command her Pokémon. She, like I, had learned from Sabrina the error in calling out your Pokémon’s techniques. Both of us knew that the other would easily take advantage of a verbal cue by the opponent so we were almost completely silent. But Erika didn’t have any psychic abilities. She looked instead almost like she was dancing, or maybe more like she was part of the battle. She took hand signals to a whole new level; she would jump, dodge, and lash out just like her Pokémon. Of course, this required Victreebel to maneuver to the side of the field where it could see its trainer and interpret her flamboyant signals.
I, of course, prodded Growlithe psychically with my instructions and commands, on top of some minor hand signals. As the battle raged on, our Pokémon leapt around each other, striking here and there. In a surprise attack, a vine whip snapped out at Growlithe’s legs. I had him grab onto the appendage with his powerful teeth and toss the plant Pokémon across the field. Before it even landed, razor leaves flashed out at the puppy Pokémon, who blocked them with a flamethrower.
Once again, Erika’s first Pokémon sent out a blast of stun spore. Once again, a small ember caused it to erupt in flame. But something was different this time. Immediately before the flames blocked the line of sight to my opponent, I noticed Victreebel preparing another stun spore. Erika clearly expected me to use the same strategy as last time, and then use the flames as cover for a take down. I smirked. I would gladly oblige, at least partially. My strategy would not work if Growlithe forgot what I had told it during our training: What was in his mind, my psychic communications, was all he was to listen to, with the exception of hand signals. And so, I cried out “take down!” while clearly sending as strong as I could, “flame wheel”. Erika appeared to realize something was wrong at my apparently accidental verbal command.
Growlithe gave a loud bark and leapt into the flames, using them to fuel its own fire. Victreebel let out a puff of stun spore meant to stop the fire-type in its tracks, but the attack was consumed by the powerful flame wheel. The hit blasted Victreebel across the field, where it crumpled at the edge of the garden. A second later, when the smoke had cleared, I could see Growlithe crouched in front of me. It was still ready to battle, but was panting heavily. I let out a long breath of my own. That was intense, but I had won. Advantage, me, I thought.
“I am impressed,” Erika said plainly. “You fight a lot like Sabrina. Subtle commands. Apparently there was something I didn’t pick up in my time training with her. Vileplume, help me out!”
You have no idea, I thought to myself.
This time Erika was more patient. Her next Pokémon was short and dark blue in color. A massive blooming flower graced its small head. The flower Pokémon immediately maneuvered into position on the side of the field where it could see both its trainer and the battle. Growlithe strafed as well, continuing to stay in front of it. Then, Erika finally tested my defenses with a poison powder. A brief ember sent it the same way as the stun spores. Silently, I watched Vileplume continue to pace. It walked rather oddly, almost with a waddle. The flower on its head was clearly very heavy.
There, weakness identified. Now I just have to exploit it.
All of a sudden, Vileplume began thrashing around wildly. I groaned. Petal dance, it was like an even more violent razor leaf attack.
Dodge with agility. I commanded my Pokémon.
Growlithe leapt left and right with blinding speed. But the fire-type’s previous battle had taken its toll. It was clipped by a petal, then two, then three. The fourth one hit it in the leg. My Pokémon stumbled and Erika jumped at the opportunity for a mega drain (and I mean literally jumped, those were some aggressive “hand signs”).
I didn’t have much of an opportunity to react, but I did what I could. Fire fang.
It was another one of the new moves I had noticed the previous night and in all honesty, I wasn’t even sure that Growlithe could do it. But I shouldn’t have feared, as flames soon appeared at Growlithe’s mouth as it latched onto Vileplume’s leg. The mega drain had connected though, and fire fang’s ultimate damage was minimal.
Growlithe crumpled with a whimper, finally beaten. I withdrew it, rather pleased with the small fire-type. Its first battle had been a definite success.
I was slow in drawing the yellow and black Ultra Ball from my belt. Even I needed a rest. This was definitely the toughest battle I had ever fought in, and I felt out of breath. I took a second to inhale the moist, fresh smelling air of the greenhouse and let it clear my thoughts. Okay, let’s do this.
Now it was time to take advantage of Vileplume’s partial poison typing. “Go, Psyke!”
Almost the instant my Pokémon left its ball, a blast of poison powder hit it square in the face. That wasn’t good, by giving myself a break, I had also given Erika time to collect her own thoughts. If I wanted to keep my advantage, I would have to finish this battle before poisoning finished Psyke. A plan began formulating in my head. I was sure Erika had a defense against psychic attacks, she was too good not to, I just had to find out what it was. Cautiously, Psyke began a confusion attack. Almost instantaneously, a single vine leapt from the ground and wrapped itself around Psyke’s ankle, pulling his feet out from under him. The psychic-type lost concentration immediately and broke off the confusion attack. I had never seen that move before, but now was not the time to look it up. Without hesitation, Vileplume began another petal dance, thrashing about wildly as my plan finally came together in my mind. All I needed was careful timing.
Teleport, I told my Pokémon. Erika obviously detected another psychic attack and so another knot began to wrap up Psyke’s foot. But teleport works much faster than confusion. My Pokémon reappeared directly behind Vileplume and gave it a hard shove with its clawed hands before teleporting right back to its previous position. Psyke didn’t have much physical strength, but anything would have felled that top heavy Vileplume. The grass-type tumbled over onto its flowered head with a cry. My maneuver distracted both Erika and her Pokémon enough for Psyke to let loose a single psybeam before another root reached up to grab his ankle. With Psyke’s immense psychic power, one was more than enough. The Vileplume was blasted backwards into the garden, where it slammed into a tree with a sickening crunch.
I grimaced. “Oops, I probably should have toned that down a bit.”
“No worries,” replied Erika, withdrawing her beaten Pokémon and pulling another ball from her belt. “I would have done the same in your situation.”
Before she even threw out her third and final Pokémon, Psyke let out a small groan. I had almost forgotten about his poisoning. Stay with me buddy. Even a single hit will be enough to keep up the advantage. Come on, let’s do this. No regrets.
“Take a look at some real power, let’s go Tangela!”
I could tell right away that a single hit was all I would be getting. And that was only if I was lucky. Tangela was literally a ball of vines with a pair of beady eyes peering out of the mess, and two bright red shoes. Tim was right, immediately upon leaving its Poké Ball, the vine Pokémon sent out a barrage of vine whips and the grass knot things I had seen earlier. Fortunately, I had just poured as much psychic energy into Psyke from myself as I had dared to, so the psybeam that Psyke released was probably the most powerful we had ever pulled off. The psychic energy hit Tangela even as it was charging a solar beam (vine whip, grass knot, and solar beam? Three attacks at once? Now that takes skill). Our psybeam launched Tangela backwards, but its vines still managed to put the hurt on Psyke. After several vicious blows to my Pokémon, I capitulated.
“I’ll give you this one, that’s all he has left,” I said, withdrawing my Pokémon. “Now this is it,” I whispered to myself. “Time to finish it, Baron!”
“Pidgeot!” my bird Pokémon cried as it spread its massive wings and soared into the air. One on one, old buddy, that’s pretty good odds for us.
Tangela scrambled to its feet and jumped back to its position on the side of the field. It almost looked like the psybeam had no effect whatsoever. Any advantage I had gotten from winning the previous two rounds was completely negated.
It was strategy time; I reflected on the prior match-ups. This time I didn’t have a fire-type move to burn away powder attacks, nor did Tangela have the imbalance that was Vileplume’s downfall. If Erika did decide to use a powder attack, I could always whirlwind it right back, but that wouldn’t be much use as an offensive move. I needed a weakness to exploit, but first I needed time to find it.
It was Baron against a many tentacle beast. I exploited my Pokémon’s various speed techniques, such as agility and quick attack, to dodge the vines and slash at them from time to time. But wherever Baron cut off one vine, another appeared in its place. My Pokémon’s beak and talons flashed left and right, cutting off vine after vine. I would have no time to pull off anything more than what I was doing at the moment, and I was doing little more than stalling. At the far end of the field, I noticed a smug smile play across Erika’s face for a brief instant.
Luckily, stalling was all I needed to do. Baron’s known techniques raced through my head alongside flashbacks to our two matches leading up to this one. Then, everything clicked.
It could hardly be considered an uncommon technique, but it was definitely unexpected. No one prepares a defense against mirror move, just like no one prepares a defense against transform, mimic, or metronome.
Vines sprouted from Baron’s wingtips and flew towards Tangela. It looked a little gruesome to have tentacles growing from Baron’s wings, but I didn’t let it faze me. The vines wrapped themselves around Tangela, and hurled the grass-type Pokémon towards its trainer.
Agility. Baron dove towards the recovering Pokémon, which jumped up to face its adversary. Game, set, and match, I thought.
Erika realized a second too late what I had done. Tangela no longer had any view of her, and so, she had no way of commanding it non-verbally. She still didn’t hesitate to give her Pokémon commands, but I simply had to take advantage of my edge.
“Vine whip!” Blocked with a quick attack.
“Stun spore!” Deflected with a gust.
Baron’s wing attack connected right as Tangela began charging a quick solar beam, clearly Erika’s last ditch effort at overpowering the flying-type. Tangela rolled, head over heels, closer towards its trainer. The vine Pokémon struggled to regain its footing, but promptly received a face full of dirt, dust, and another wing attack. This time, I ended up landing a third blow before Tangela even stopped tumbling. Erika never got a chance to use another technique, Baron was too fast.
“Enough,” Erika said loudly. Baron swooped over and landed next to me, head held high. “Tangela could probably take another couple hits, but I can tell I’m not getting anywhere.”
Sure enough, Tangela pushed itself to its feet, panting, but still ready to battle.
“I surrender,” continued Erika. “You get the Rainbow Badge, and you definitely deserve it.”
It wasn’t until then that I realized that I had been holding my breath since ordering the mirror move. I let go a long, satisfying sigh of relief and patted Baron on the chest, grinning widely. It cooed at me, obviously pleased with itself. I maintained my stupid grin as I approached Erika, meeting her near the center of the field. “Thank you,” I said, shaking her hand and accepting the badge, adrenaline still rushing through my veins. It had been one of the most intense battles I had ever been in.
“That was the toughest battle I’ve ever had. Tim only caught me on an off day.” said the gym leader, “I also normally give out a TM for mega drain, but he took my last one.”
“That’s okay,” I replied, “I don’t have any grass-types.”
She raised an eyebrow and smiled, “Oh, you’re probably too good for them, huh?”
I laughed, “Yeah, what’s the point in catching one if it’s just going to be beat by a measly Pidgeot? I caught this beauty on Route 1, home of the weakest Pokémon in Kanto.” Baron looked slightly offended by the remark, but then again I had yet to meet a Pokémon that actually understood sarcasm.
Erika glared at me good naturedly as we began walking back towards the lobby, “You better watch it; I can take that badge back if I want.”
I looked at my newest trophy glittering the seven colors of the rainbow in my palm. “Actually, I don’t think you can…”
We laughed and recalled our two Pokémon.
“So where are you planning on heading next?” Erika asked as we walked back into the entryway.
“I don’t know yet, probably Fuchsia City, but I need to talk to Tim.”
At that moment, the door slammed open, filling the room with light from the newly risen sun. Tim barged in. “Great, I didn’t miss it,” he said breathlessly.
“Speak of the moron…” I remarked, raising an eyebrow at my friend. Erika laughed.
“Wait,” stuttered my friend, ignoring my jibe, “I didn’t miss the battle did I?”
I showed him my new Rainbow Badge.
“Damn it. I really wanted to see you two battle, I bet it was one for the ages.”
“Oh it was,” Erika replied, “if you had gotten up earlier you probably could have learned a thing or two.”
“Or three, or four…” I added.
“Hey, I beat her too.”
“Yeah, on an ‘off day’”
That was a ton of fun to write, but looking back it seems a little rushed. Still my best battle yet in my own opinion. Comments appreciated.
NEXT: I'm going to do a complete rewrite of the next one so I don't know exactly what's going to happen yet besides this: the Celadon arc will start to come together and build up to a climax, and Criss comes back. For real this time, I swear.