Tim looked down at the Poké Ball in his hand. Following Keith’s advice, he had finally made use of the leaf stone that Mr. Fuji had given him. He was now the proud owner of a Victreebel. At this point, it was the only Pokémon on his team that could stand any chance against a Gyarados.
Tim looked at the beach around him. No one else was there. Why would they be? It was a cold, gray morning and the water was choppy and freezing. He slowly started to walk down the sandbar. About a half mile away was the jetty, where he would meet up with Criss so that they could begin their search for the day.
Two weeks ago, the trio had entered Fuschia City so that Keith could train with Koga and Tim could get the Soul Badge and catch a Gyarados. Although Keith seemed to be getting along well, Tim’s quest had only earned him and Criss the reputation of being “those crazy Gyarados hunters.” The townsfolk had taken interest in his plight, some negatively and some positively, but very few believed he could do it.
As Tim neared the jetty, he saw many faces that he recognized. Mostly smiled warmly and wished him good luck, others just laughed and rolled their eyes in his direction. Tim’s grip tightened on Victreebel’s Poké Ball whenever this happened. He was going to prove them wrong.
He walked to the very end of the pier, where Criss sat on her Tentacruel. Flareon sat loyally by her side, although it kept glancing nervously at the water. She wore some kind of tight fitting drysuit and was fishing, with the pole nestled between her legs.
“That’s kinky.” Tim said, gesturing to the positioning of her fishing rod.
“You’re a dumbass,” said Criss, shaking her head.
“I try.” Tim slowly climbed aboard the giant water-type. He had worked long and hard these past couple weeks in order to frustrate Criss past the point of hitting him every time he said something like that. It was just too much fun to needle her.
“What’s with the wetsuit?” he asked.
“Drysuit,” she corrected.
“Whatever, you actually planning to get wet today?”
“I am.” Criss poked Tentacruel hard on the head, nudging him into motion. “We need a new approach, so I’m going to act as bait.”
“What?!” Tim exclaimed. “There’s no way I’m letting you do that. It’s my Gyarados. If anyone is going to act as bait, it’s going to be me.”
“Let me? Please, Tim, don’t act macho. It doesn’t befit you.”
Ouch, that hurt. Tim looked down.
“Besides,” Criss said, “of the two of us, I won’t get eaten.”
“I knew it.” Tim pointed at her. “You are an Olympic swimmer. That’s why you have a drysuit with you.”
Criss laughed, “not exactly.”
“Fine,” said Tim. “Who’d you steal it from, then?”
The glare that Criss gave him for that remark could have pushed him into the sea. “I have it from a past… job,” she said.
Shaking off the look that she had given him, Tim said “What were you? Obviously not a fisherman.” He looked at the bobber floating in the water next to them as they moved farther and farther away from the shore. “You’re terrible, I could have caught something by now. Although maybe that’s why you don’t have the job any more…”
That actually did make Criss push him in.
“Alright, now what’s the plan?” Tim asked. They were now far out away from the beach, Tentacruel bobbing slowly in the waves. Both trainers were significantly wet from the wrestling match that had ensued as they left shore. Criss had won indisputably.
“I swim around, see what I can see. You follow on Tentacruel with Flareon, keeping Victreebel at the ready. You did evolve it, right?”
Tim nodded and held up the ball in his hand. “What will make one come up?”
“Tentacruel will. They’re the biggest Gyarados prey, that’s why we’ve been using it.”
Tim’s jaw dropped, “You mean it’s going to eat our only way back to shore?”
“Don’t be stupid.” Criss rolled her eyes. “I should be able to see it coming and warn you. Once I’m back on board, we book it for that island.” She pointed to a conveniently located island that Tim had not noticed. It was only a sandbar with some rocks; it lacked even the stereotypical palm tree.
Tim nodded again. “And then?”
“Then it’s all you, buddy.”
Tim gulped, but Criss put a reaffirming hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry, you’ve got this.” It was the nicest thing that he had ever heard her say, and warmed him considerably. With a surge of adrenaline, he stood tall.
“Good, I’ll be back soon, then… hopefully.” Criss turned to dive into the water.
“Wait, how will you be able to breath?”
“I’ll come up for air, Gyarados don’t actually live too deep. All of their prey is up here and if they go too far down they meet things that even they fall prey to.”
Tim tried to imagine some Pokémon that could kill a Gyarados. It was impossible. “What could possibly be down there? Nothing’s big enough to do a Gyarados any harm.”
“How much do you wanna bet? Imagine a Kingler the size of a house.”
“Yeah, ‘oh’.” She turned once more and dove gracefully into the water. Tentacruel moaned slightly as the weight left it, and Flareon whimpered, but didn’t follow. After Criss surfaced once and gave a wave, Tim sat to wait, trying to calm Flareon by stroking its mane. Every time Criss came up, Tim would direct Tentacruel to head in her direction. The jellyfish Pokémon’s large eyes didn’t have much range of motion, so it could only see its trainer from time to time.
Tim sighed as his unnecessary adrenaline faded away. As far as he could tell, there was no reason that this day should be different from the last many.
Tim had begun to doze off when he suddenly felt Tentacruel jerk under him. It groaned and spun in place. He hurriedly grabbed onto Flareon and their supplies to prevent them from falling off and looked around for Criss. What was going on?
Out of nowhere, a tentacle came out of the water and threw Criss unceremoniously next to Tim., covered his face to protect it from the salty spray. Flareon cried with joy and leaped into its trainer’s lap.
“Did you see anything?” he asked.
“YES I SAW SOMETHING! GO!” she yelled, slapping Tentacruel hard on its rubbery skin with a loud smack. The Pokémon gave a jerk and then began rushing towards the sandbar.
Tim’s adrenaline shot back into him like a wildfire. He fumbled with Victreebel’s Poké Ball as he shook nervously. Criss’ shocked expression and gasps for breath didn’t help his nerves at all. “Was it big?” he asked.
“It’s a Gyarados! It’s FUCKING HUGE!” she screamed. Seconds later, Tentacruel grinded to a halt as the water got too shallow for swimming. Swinging on her backpack and grabbing Flareon, Criss leaped into the water. “Let’s go!”
Not anxious to be caught like a sitting Psyduck, Tim jumped into the waist deep waves. Criss recalled Tentacruel and they slowly began making their way to shore. Criss got their first, and let Flareon down. Tim stopped when the waves were still around his knees and turned to face the open ocean. Adrenaline still pumped through him, but the sea was quiet.
“Well?” he said, looking at Criss.
“Just give it a second. Tentacruel’s disappearance is sure to make it-“
A wave as tall as he was pushed Tim into the surf. Spluttering as he tried to regain his footing, the trainer looked up.
It was, as Criss had said, fucking huge. Even for a Gyarados. It was the biggest Pokémon Tim had ever seen in real life. The giant serpent’s body was segmented, with blue scales on its back and a slightly softer beige underbelly. White spike-like fins sprouted out of its back. Most frightening of all was its head, with ferocious eyes and a large fanged mouth that gaped open as it roared again.
“-angry.” Criss finished. “Quick! Use Victreebel!”
Oh shit. Tim looked around frantically. He had dropped the ball when the wave had knocked him over! He flailed around in the water about his feet, but to no avail.
“Look out!” Criss yelled. Tim looked up to see a giant ball of energy forming in the monster’s huge mouth.
Oh shit shit. Hyper beam. Tim struggled against the water to run towards shore, where he would be able to dodge properly, he didn’t quite make it.
Fortunately for Tim, however, the light from a charging hyper beam temporarily blinds the Pokémon, making it incredibly difficult to aim. The blast hit right where Tim had been standing, vaporizing the water into steam. The waves Tim was wading through boiled instantly, causing him to cry out in pain before the shockwave lifted him off his feet and sent him flying through the air.
He landed with a splash in the shallow water right before shore. The water did little to stop his fall, though, causing him to grind through the abrasive sand and smack his head on a smooth rock embedded in the beach.
Everything went quiet and dark for a moment. “Am I dead?” Tim thought. “No,” he decided, “I’m in pain. There wouldn’t be pain if I was dead.”
Sure enough, his senses slowly came back to him. First was touch. The water, heated by the hyper beam was much warmer than the cold breeze that blew over the top half of his body. He was face down in the water, but he couldn’t tell much more than that. His incredibly sore forehead rested on a hard object, the rock that he had hit.
A second later, his vision returned, albeit blurry. He looked up as his movement returned as well. Criss was sprinting towards him, shouting something.
Finally, sound rushed back into his ears, a practical cacophony compared to the silence he had just been experiencing. Criss was yelling at him to get up, the waves were crashing in the background, and he could hear the loud breathing of Gyarados recovering from a hyper beam.
Tim looked down again. There, smeared slightly with blood from his head, was not a rock, but a Poké Ball. His Poké Ball. Tim grinned and pulled it from the sand.
He didn’t even try to stand up, knowing that he would be too dizzy to balance properly, instead staying on his knees. “Victreebel! Let’s do this!”
With an inhuman shriek, the flycatcher Pokémon materialized in the waves in front of him. He looked up at Gyarados just in time to see it fire off another hyper beam. This time, though, it was targeted at Criss. Still too delirious to shout a warning, Tim looked over to see Criss and Flareon barely dodge the attack, fly through the air and lie crumpled in the sand, much like he had just been.
“Quick Victreebel! Leaf tornado!”
His Pokémon threw a leaves into the air as fast as it could, then summoned a tornado that carried them, with some water, across the waves and into Gyarados’ face. It roared in pain and frustration.
That had bought him some time. It was no use continuing the battle like this, though. Victreebel’s attacks, unlike Gyarados’, were weakened by range. Tim needed a way to get Victreebel maneuverable. “Use your vines!” he commanded, “get on his level!”
Obediently, the grass-type sent out three vines from under its leaves. Using them like stilts, it raised itself out of the water and into the air until it was almost as tall as the monstrous water-type. Testing its “footing,” the Victreebel-sentinel approached its opponent.
“Razor leaf!” Tim shouted as loud as he could. It made his head spin, but it was the only way he could command his Pokémon from that distance, especially over the sound of the waves.
Even the razor sharp leaves managed to hit before Gyarados was fully recovered. It faltered, but clearly realized the error in using such a demanding attack as hyper beam. It fired off a powerful hydro pump at Victreebel.
The attack didn’t do much damage, but toppled Tim’s Pokémon off of its vines and into the ocean. A follow up aqua tail sent the grass-type flying back to its trainer.
Tim struggled to his feet. Lights flashed in his eyes, but he forced himself to stay conscious. “Alright Victreebel, if I can do it then so can you. Get back up there!”
Invigorated by its trainer, Victreebel sprouted three more vines and stood tall once again.
“Hey Tim,” came a voice from behind him. “Need a little help?”
Tim looked around to see Criss, limping up the sandbar, Flareon at her side.
“Flareon!” she said, “Sunny day!”
With a cry, Flareon shot a tremendously bright ball of fire straight up into the air. Although it didn’t clear the clouds completely, they dispersed somewhat. The ball hovered high in the sky, like a surrogate sun.
Tim grinned. “Victreebel, solar beam, let’s do this!” he shouted and pointed at their opponent.
The blast of light was tremendous. The recoil was even too much for Victreebel, again knocking it back down into the waves. Both Tim and Criss threw up arms to cover their eyes, but the blazing beam still burned in their retinas.
Two sounds reached Tim’s ears. First was an explosion and a roar, Gyarados had been hit. The second was a loud splash, Gyarados was down!
His eyes still adjusting, Tim tried looking around.
“Tim,” Criss called from behind him, “catch!”
He looked around as she tossed him a blue Poké Ball with beige squares on the top. It was the Dive Ball that he had purchased the week before in the Fuchsia City PokéMart.
He caught it and held it in his hand. As his eyes finally adjusted, Tim could make out the shape of a giant fallen serpent lying in the surf. It had fallen towards him, luckily, but was still a fair distance away. Gripping the ball tightly, Tim hopped, just like his old baseball coach had taught him, and heaved it with all his might at the Gyarados. The effort, however, proved too much, and the stars in his eyes blanketed his vision entirely. He fell over into the waves, but the last thing he heard was the satisfying snap-click of a Pokémon entering a Poké Ball.
Tim awoke lying face up in sand some time later. Stiff and sore, he opened his eyes. Flareon’s sunny day fireball still hung in the sky, though its vibrant glow had diminished somewhat. Slowly sitting up, he looked around to see Criss sitting nearby, staring out at the sea. She noticed him.
“ Good, you’re awake. It hasn’t quite been an hour yet,” she said in response to his unasked question.
Piece by piece, the events of the morning began to float back into Tim’s mind.
“Wait! The dive ball! Where’s Gyarados?!” he exclaimed, jumping up. It was a bad idea, and his body punished him for it. Succumbing to the pain, he fell to his knees. “Did I get it?”
She smiled and picked up the blue ball at her feet. She tossed it to him. “I had Tentacruel go pick it up. You got it, Tim.”
He held the ball in his hands, staring in wonder. A Gyarados! And he had caught a wild one!
“Thank you. Thank you so much, Criss!” he said, smiling at his new friend.
She gave a harsh laugh. “Don’t mention it, that was the easy part.”
“You ever try to train an evolved Pokémon before?”
Once again, the water dragon crashed into the surf. Tim sighed, this was getting monotonous. He had promised himself that he wouldn’t leave the island until Gyarados did what he said, but it was almost sunset now and the beast wouldn’t even let Tim approach it. He had been forced to battle it over and over with Victreebel. It was getting tiring, but was much easier than the first KO. Gyarados was tired and injured, not fit to do much more than swim.
Tim raised a hand to stop his grass-type from firing another razor leaf.
“You going to try approaching it again?” asked Criss, who still sat in the sand with Flareon. At Tim’s insistence, she hadn’t offered much commentary. He wanted to do this by himself.
“Obviously,” Tim grunted. He was getting frustrated and had begun to absorb some of Criss’ trademark sarcasm.
After retrieving a hyper potion from their bag, Tim got closer to the fallen monster step by step. It twitched slightly as he approached, and opened one massive eye to look at him, but it didn’t seem to be able to move. Tim stopped not two feet away, and stared into its eye with his arms crossed.
Slowly, he reached out a hand and touched one of the three horns on its crest. The skin was scaly and hard, like armor. If his eyes had been closed, he never would have guessed that it was even organic. At his touch, the dragon let out a huff of air that sprayed water into Tim’s face. He wiped it off with his other hand.
“Look,” Tim said finally, “I don’t want to fight you anymore, and I’m sure you don’t want to get hurt anymore. There’s no reason for you to resist me, I just want to be your friend. I want you to travel with me, fight for me, and experience the world with me. Together, the two of us could become champions of the Indigo League. All you need to do is listen to what I say.” Tim wasn’t sure if the creature understood him, but many Pokémon were known to be able to catch on to human language rather quickly.
Bit by bit, Tim walked and swam around the huge Pokémon, healing its various lacerations and bruises with his hyper potion. By the time he was done, he had come all of the way back around to the water-type’s head. The sun had begun to set.
Strangely, Gyarados didn’t try to attack him even though it was now fully healed. It just stared at him, like it was thinking.
Back on the sandbar, Criss closed her eyes and tried to remember what Sabrina had taught her. Taking a deep breath, she reached out towards Gyarados with her mind; just enough to see what he was feeling. She smiled and broke contact.
“Hey Tim!” she called, “I think you’ve got it!”
You know what this means? Slight spoilers here (or rather, anti-spoilers, since I'm telling you what's not going to happen), but Tim's team is finalized! Well, stuff's going to evolve, but he's done catching for a while. For shits and giggles, let's recap and take a look at who has what.
Tim - Charmeleon, Beedrill, Victreebel, Haunter, Cubone, aaaaaaannnnnd GYARADOS!
Keith - Pidgeot (Baron), Butterfree (Locustod), Magneton (Tesla), Kadabra (Psyke), Growlithe (Flareth)
Criss - Flareon, Tentacruel, Arbok, Onix, Nidorina, Nidorino
As you can see, Keith's got room for one more. Which brings us too...
NEXT: ... I can't decide. I have an awesome action scene planned out where Keith goes after a Dratini, but I also kind of want to do a Gym battle for Tim. I'm either doing one or the other (not both, that'd take too long and I'm eager to move on). I'm leaning towards Keith, because you'd have to take a lot for granted if you skipped that scene, and there will be MORE than enough battling in, say... six chapters (estimate, you'll find out why in two or three). But if you guys really want to see Tim vs. Koga, I could do that instead. Let me know!
P.S. I stuck some more foreshadowing in that chapter, it's pretty obvious what it is, but I'm still waiting for someone to actually be able to interpret it.