Preparing for the Strike - (J.E.6)
Target Pokemon: Bronzor, Gastly
Difficulty: Medium, Hard
Target Length: 30k - 50k
Actual Length: 50k
Author Note: As you can probably tell by the title, this is the sixth part of my ongoing Jathan Einherjar series. If you're going to read/grade this, you should probably at least glance through the previous ones first, which can be found here. Also, this story, like my last one, is more episodic that usual, simply because it's setting up for the next part. If I wrote it all in one fell swoop, it'd be close to 200k, and no one wants to read/grade that. So yeah, please take into account the episodic nature of the story when reading/grading. If you have any comments/criticisms, I'd love to hear them.
The ground felt uncomfortably warm through the seat of my pants. The shade provided by the dead tree I was sitting under had moved since I had sat down. I wiped a bead of sweat away from my forehead, and then mentally berated myself for doing so. My concentration had slipped, and I couldn’t afford to let that happen. I was sitting cross-legged just outside the safe, radiation-free zone of the Camp. My master, Bradley, had taught me how to protect myself from radiation by shielding myself with Aura, which is essentially life-force. He had told me that the best way to master this ability was to practice it in the Razerlands that surrounded the Camp. The Razerlands were harsh, radioactive areas that made up most of the continent of Girardot. I had been taught in the Zone 19 Military School that there were other continents, but all sea expeditions had vanished, and aircraft didn’t have enough fuel to fly over the vast oceans.
I started to shake, and more beats of sweat trailed down from my mop of brown hair, but I actively resisted the urge to move. Instead, I concentrated on maintaining the shield. In my mind, I could visualize the blue shield surrounding myself. The radiation of the Razerlands appeared as swirling motes of orange light that collided with the shield and partially melted it away. When that happened, I had to split off more Aura from my internal reservoirs and reinforce the melted section. It was tiring work, although Bradley assured me it got easier with practise. I cracked open an eye to look at the Geiger counter I had placed on the ground in front of me. The needle was wobbling around the 4 milligray mark. I was getting better, I grudgingly admitted to myself. The first time I had tried this, I had taken in 26 milligray under ninety seconds. Himoka had spent three weeks nursing me back to health from a bad case of acute radiation syndrome.
The thought of Himoka made me smile, and I began to lose control of my shield. Instead of concentrating on the mental picture, I began to think of her auburn hair, her stunning green eyes, and the cheeky smile she wore when she was beating me at a video game. As I did so, the needle on the Geiger counter began to move upwards. Once it passed 5 milligrays, a small beeper started going off. My eyes shot open, and I realised I’d lost control of my shield. I tried to re-establish it, but my Aura had run dry. To try and force more Aura out would be dangerous, like trying to run when you’d run out of energy.
I pulled out a packet of radiation-resistance pills and swallowed a couple. They wouldn’t purge my body, but they’d slow down my intake so I could get back safely. I stood up, dusted my pants off, and began jogging back towards civilization. My legs wobbled a bit, but I managed to keep a respectable speed. After five minutes, I began to come across sparse vegetation, and after ten I was moving across grass as opposed to rocks. The land began to slope downwards, and I could just barely hear the calls of wild animals and Pokemon. I slowed to a walk just as my PDA buzzed. I pulled it out of my pocket and took a quick look – the message had been sent about an hour ago, but I’d only just got back into the coverage area. The message was from George. I didn’t know much about him. He was the leader of the group of Trainers that fled from Zone 29 when it assimilated into the heavily-anti-Pokemon nation of Giravia. I had fallen in with them by chance, and we had stolen a super-freighter in order to escape.
I shook my head, dispelling these memories. I’d been living in the Camp for close to two years now, developing my Aura abilities, training my Pokemon allies, and just generally living happily. I opened up the message. George wanted to see me after lunch today. I took a quick look at the timestamp on the top of my PDA – it was 11:08. I had plenty of time to get back, eat, and then go see what he wanted. I slipped my PDA back into my pocket and started jogging again – it was a half an hour’s walk to my house from here. If I wanted to have enough time to shower before lunch I needed to move my rear end. I snapped my fingers twice and my PDA picked up on the sound. It started blaring my music collection, and I jogged towards camp amid the rhythmic cacophony of sounds that was my playlist.
I sat on my couch, eating some strange food Himoka had bought for me. Apparently it was called a ‘taco’. I was watching one of the television shows that had become a staple in my life – it was about a hopefully fictional Pokemon Trainer named Soot who wandered around a much healthier world with a Pikachu who was so overpowered that it was funny. In fact, that was the only reason I watched the show. It was so bad that it was hilarious. Apparently young children enjoyed it, but surely it was distorting reality. I was willing to bet that there were scores of young Trainers who asked for a Pikachu for their first Pokemon who then promptly got their asses handed to them by the first Geodude they came across.
I glanced around my living room, looking at all the Pokemon I had amassed so far. My Mudkip Smash was sleeping soundly on the couch next to me. Gallade was sitting at my computer, continually watching and re-watching a video clip of a medium-sized blue otter creating and then wielding a blade made out of water. I had recently introduced him to the wonders of a wireless network, and he was always researching new moves to learn. I strictly forbade him from attempting to emulate the moves he saw inside, though – last time he had tried this, my carpet caught alight and my old computer had taken in too much smoke to ever boot up again. Crusher (my Rhyhorn) was quietly eating out of his food bowl outside, and I couldn’t see my Gyarados anywhere. That wasn’t anything out of the usual, though. She’d taken to spending most of the day in a river that was about ten minutes away. This didn’t bother me, though – Slip was very prideful, and she was still only just learning how to fly. For that reason, she didn’t like people watching her while she tried to figure it out.
Lastly, my gaze fell upon my most recent capture, my Bronzor. It sat quietly in the corner of the room, occasionally absorbing stray darts of electricity from a nearby power socket. Out of all my Pokemon, Bronzor bothered me the most. I had caught him about eleven months previously. There was a small situation in which Bronzor had overloaded a hydroelectric plant by accident while training itself, and I had caught the small Pokemon to make sure it didn’t cause such widespread chaos again. However, it didn’t have much to do with me, and whenever I tried to get it to open up to me it would simply stare blankly at me until I moved away. I had even taken it on a few training excursions, but it would simply ignore me and try to summon electricity on its own. I knew that if I wanted to truly establish a repartee, I would probably have to help it control electricity, but I didn’t really want to do that. The last time it had tried, almost every Electric and Steel type Pokemon within a two kilometer radius became dangerously sick. I knew for a fact that Bronzor as a species could learn an electrical attack known as Charge Beam, but it was a hard attack to master, and I didn’t want anything to go wrong. As I watched the little gray disc-like creature float apathetically in the corner, I resolved to do what I could to help it. I could hardly call myself a Pokemon Trainer if I did anything less.
I took my half-eaten meal over to the sink, and turned off the television using the remote. I took one last look at the life-less Bronzor before sighing and leaving. Smash looked up at me as I left, but decided against coming with me. I scratched Crusher’s horn on the way past. He rumbled appreciatively, but he seemed more interested in food than carrying me to headquarters. That was fine, though. I felt like walking.
I passed Himoka’s house on the way, but she wasn’t out the front. She had a small collection of potted flowers on the front porch that she spent a great deal of time with, and she enjoyed messing around with various pieces of machinery out there as well. The porch was high enough off the ground that it was easy to keep clean, which suited Himoka perfectly. I smiled, and moved on.
About half an hour later I arrived at headquarters. The building was a large wooden structure with an exterior sheathed in concrete. It wasn’t the prettiest building ever, but the blocky columns and sheer size lent an air of permanence and authority to the area. I entered through the main doors, which were of the sliding variety and completely made of glass. The assistant behind the public relations desk waved me past – George usually met with me once a week or so and as a consequence most of the staff knew me by sight, if not by name. I once asked George why he met with me so often. After all, I wasn’t really that special, aside from being an Aura Guardian. Bradley had told me that about one in one hundred people had Aura abilities ranging in level from epic to negligible. When I asked George what he saw in me, he’d merely laughed and said that I seemed special.
I took a left and entered the second door on the right. It was a small cubic room, very similar to an interrogation room except there was no one-way mirror on the wall. The only furnishings were two simple wooden chairs and a square wooden table in the middle of the room. The light was provided by one gently swinging fluorescent light bulb. I looked around the room – the light bulb must be controlled by a remote switch as there was none in here.
I took a seat at the table and waited for George. This was actually the first time I ever had to do so. He was always waiting for me when I entered this room. I assumed people watching the entrance sent him a message or something. The only other possibility I could think of was he had people watching me, or he planted a bug on me or something, and I really didn’t want to consider that. I had met a few people that were higher-ups in whatever organization governed the Camp, and George was the only one I liked and trusted. If he turned out to be sour, I might have to move away, and I didn’t want to even think about that.
Five minutes passed, and I was starting to get impatient. I put my feet up on the table because they were aching from the jogging this morning. Finally, George entered the room. He was talking to someone on his cell phone. About half the people I saw used earpieces instead of handsets, but I had been taught not to. Earpieces were the easiest device to hack into remotely besides miniature motorized toy cars.
“Look, I’ll come speak to them later,” George said in a frustrated tone of voice. He ended the call and dropped into the other seat, sighing heavily as he did so. George had brown eyes, short brown hair, and the kind of face you’d expect to see on any random military grunt. Despite this, his eyes usually twinkled, and he had a great sense of humour. He also seemed like the kind of person who would bend rules to help people in need, but I had only seen him do so once. He was dressed in his usual green t-shirt and jeans, except his t-shirt had some coffee stains and his jeans looked like they hadn’t been washed in a while.
“What was that all about?” I asked, knowing it was none of my business. If George wanted to tell me, he would. If he didn’t, he’d wink and changed the subject.
Luckily for my curiosity, he chose the former. “Ahhh, it’s always a pain dealing with the Giravians,” George said bitterly.
“Giravians?” I asked in a confused tone of voice. Giravia was the name of the empire who had decided that Pokemon were unnatural beasts in need of eradication. It was the reason we were living out in the middle of the Razerlands as opposed to inside a nice safe Zone.
“The Giravian stowaways?” George tried to remind me. When my face didn’t change, he shrugged. “This must be the first you’ve heard of them,” he said. “Well, when we took the freighter out here from Zone 29, there was a group of Giravians on-board. The pilot, some guards, and so forth. We only discovered them on arrival.”
“So what did you do?” I asked. I knew that the ideals of the standard Giravian citizen were wrong, but the people weren’t evil, just misguided.
“Most of the Committee wanted them killed,” George replied bitterly, “but I threw my weight around and instead got them house arrest. They’ve got a fair-sized block of land that they stay in. They’re always demanding to be released, but we can’t do that. They’d be able to bring the Giravian armies back.”
I nodded. It was sad for the Giravian prisoners, but there wasn’t anything else we could do. Besides, they weren’t being mistreated or anything.
Liam looked at my belt, which was about chest height to him considering my feet were still on the table. “What happened to the Magnemite?” he asked me.
I had captured a Magnemite shortly before Bronzor. However, I had done so because the poor Pokemon had been dangerously sick. Once it was healed, I let it go because I hadn’t been battling to capture it. I’d been battling to save it and stop it from accidentally destroying the nearby area. I explained this to George, and he smiled.
“So, why am I here?” I asked.
George’s smile turned into a worried frown. “Our long-range scanners picked up radio waves emanating from the desert,” he said. “This wouldn’t be a huge deal, except they were being emitted from a moving platform. Furthermore, the emitter is moving towards us.”
I shot out of my chair. “Is it Giravia? Do they know we’re here?” I asked urgently.
George shook his head. “No, I don’t think so,” he murmured. “Every now and then the nearby Giravian Zones send out some patrols, but they can’t go too far out because the condition generators don’t work when they’re mobile.”
I knew all about condition generators. They were the large machines that kept the radiation and other ill effects of the Razerlands out of the Zones where most people lived. The technology behind them was top-secret, and the reason we know very little about our planet is because the condition generators don’t work unless they’re stationary. The only reason the Camp wasn’t irradiated is because it is situated inside a canyon.
“So, what’s the problem? If it’s happened before, why are you so worried now?” I asked, sitting back down in my chair.
“By triangulating the position of the broadcasts, and determining an approximate travel route, the patrol is going to discover us,” George said quietly. “Furthermore, this is the furthest a patrol has ever gone before, which makes me think that Giravia might have created a mobile condition generator.”
I swallowed reflexively. If Giravia has indeed perfected mobile condition generator technology, we wouldn’t be safe in the Camp for much longer. This was one of the worst possible things to happen.
“I might be wrong,” George hastened to add. “They might just be using a whole load of concrete transports. But it’d be rather pointless to patrol an area so far out with concrete vehicles – those things eat up a load of fuel.”
“So, what do we do? Evacuate?”
“No, that wouldn’t solve anything. Even if running was an option, we wouldn’t have anywhere to go. We have to stay here – the Camp is fairly easily defended. I think the best thing to do is attack the patrol – a preemptive strike.”
“But won’t that reveal to them where we are?”
“Sure, they’ll know something is going down in the area,” George admitted, “but that’s why I want to hit it before it even gets near us. That way, they’ll spend time searching for us in a place where we aren’t. They’ll find us eventually, so this way we at least get some time.”
“Hmmm, seems like a good plan,” I said thoughtfully.
“There is one problem, though,” George added. “If we’re to hit them far out, we need Aura Guardians who can repel radiation. We only have like three concrete transports, which is perhaps twenty people, which isn’t enough. We have no idea how big this patrol is, but Military Ops won’t green-light this strike unless there’s at least fifty people.”
And with that, I knew what was coming. I was pretty sure that Bradley kept George informed on my development as a budding Aura Guardian. With his next sentence, George confirmed my suspicions.
“Would you be willing to take part in this strike?” he inquired, watching my face closely.
I knew George was watching me and waiting for an answer. I felt conflicted. The right thing to do was to go on the raid – the Camp and everyone who lived here deserved protecting. Furthermore, they’d given me a home and asked for practically nothing. Then again, I had helped in the now-famous Zone 29 freighter raid, and I had brought all my Giravian studies with me, which George assured me was in invaluable for our own research and in understanding how Giravian education systems worked. I felt like I had done enough.
My hand absentmindedly drifted down to my belt, where my five Poke Balls were fastened, and I knew what I had to do. Despite not particularly wanting to, I had to go help on this strike.
“When exactly would we have to leave?” I asked George, trying to sound reluctant.
George saw through my ruse, though. I knew because a small smile was visible on his face before he hid it with his hand. “A couple days from now,” he said, keeping his hand moving so he could pretend there was an itch on his scalp. “We’ll outfit you with everything you need, and of course there’ll be a pay bonus if you participate.”
“Oh no, I couldn’t accept that,” I blurted out without thinking. Upon realizing that I had been tricked into admitting I would go, I clamped my hand on my mouth. George knew this, so he grinned cockily and put his own pair of feet up on the table.
“So, you’ll go then?” he asked me, knowing the answer.
“Yeah,” I replied, “but there’s a slight problem. My radiation-repelling technique isn’t perfect yet. It takes a lot of concentration – there’s no way I’d be able to drive anything at the same time.”
George frowned for a few seconds, but then the smile returned to his face. “It’s not a huge deal,” he assured me. “You can ride in an LATV and provide the shielding. Actually, this way we’ll be able to fit a few more people on the strike. That’ll make Military Ops happy,” he mused. He seemed to drift off into his own thoughts, until I yanked him back by coughing.
“Anyway, just report outside this building at 0500 on Wednesday,” George finished. “I’ll have everything organized. Ask around for Lieutenant Pedro.”
I nodded as I got up to leave. It was Sunday, so I had a couple days before I had to leave. Bronzor drifted back into my mind. Perhaps I should spend these last couple of days helping it to master electricity. I pressed my pointer and middle finger to the middle of my forehead, which was the informal respectful salute here in the Camp, and left for home.
When I arrived at Bachelor Way, I was greeted by a sight that made me smile. Himoka was on the bench under porch of her house, tinkering with some obscure pieces of machinery. I leaned on the gate as she deftly twisted a screwdriver with one hand. The roughly circular gadget she was prying apart made a high-pitched scraping sound, and suddenly the centre fell out. Himoka was left holding a tube-like piece of metal with a few wires hanging off it. She blew on it and raised it to the sky to look through it. When she brought it back down, she saw me watching her from the footpath. She smiled, and waved for me to come through. I opened the gate and walked through the small front garden. A small gravel path lead to the porch steps, which was lined with flowers. That was another of Himoka’s hobbies – gardening. Personally, I hated it. My front garden had been covered with small stones that required little-to-no maintenance the first chance I got.
I moved up the steps and took a seat next to Himoka, who had returned to her tinkering. She had taken the tube and wired it into a small knuckle-duster-like pair of rings. She then took a second pair of rings and began using a point welder to make what looked like a finger brace.
“You’re going somewhere, aren’t you?” she asked me abruptly, without even looking up. Instinctively, I looked away from here, even though she wasn’t looking at me.
“Yeah,” I replied, without going into further details. I wasn’t sure how classified the strike was, so I didn’t elaborate further. We sat in silence for a few minutes, and I watched as the sun sank lower in the sky. If I wanted to head off towards the Power Plant and help Bronzor train, I’d have to leave soon. I stood up, and walked down off the raised patio.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” I said over my shoulder as I left. Himoka didn’t reply, but I was sure she was watching me leave through the auburn hair covering her eyes. I didn’t know why she was acting so distant, but I had a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with her brother being away so often. In fact, I hadn’t seen him for at least five months. I mean, he wasn’t exactly a fan of mine so it didn’t bother me much, but still, I was a little worried about Himoka being by herself.
I pushed my worries aside, and left Himoka to her gadgets. I walked briskly back to my house, where I was surprised to find Slip dozing out front. I patted her on her side as I passed and she grumbled happily. Crusher was also out front, except he was making feints at a target I had set up for him to use. The target was a stereotypical red bulls-eye target which was cut and gashed in many places. Crusher glanced at me, nodded slightly in acknowledgment, and returned to his exercise. Crusher had changed a lot since I captured him. He used to terrorize the woods and was a recognized menace of the outskirts. Through patience and constructive training skills taught to me in the Zone 19 Military School, I had helped him lessen his destructive impulses, and now he was a quiet and kind member of my team. Personally, I believed that something used to set him off when he was wild, but I seeing as he couldn’t talk I couldn’t find out if my suspicion was true.
I entered through the front door. Smash yapped a greeting from the couch, but apparently couldn’t be bothered getting up. Gallade was also sitting on the couch, eating an apple. He briefly flicked me through our mind-link, which was his standard greeting. Finally, I looked around for Bronzor. It was hovering slightly in the exact same place I left it. It was drawing small electrical sparks out of a socket in the wall and making them dance in the air. Unfortunately, it could only manage this for a few seconds before the spark could fizzle and die. I smiled at it, but as ever, it just ignored me. I shrugged, and climbed the stairs to my room to pack.
Thirty minutes later I was lugging along a camping kit, with all five of my Pokemon inside their respective Poke Ball which was clipped onto my belt. The camping kit wasn’t really that heavy, but it was an awkward cylindrical shape and it chafed my sides when I wore it on my back. Despite the annoying package, I was enjoying the walk through the forest. The sun was just going down, and I usually felt the most peaceful during the twilight hours. Something about how once darkness began to fall, the world wasn’t easily visible.
As I continued to walk, I remembered the last time I had been in this part of the forest. A dangerously overcharged Magnemite had come into town looking for help, and I’d come looking for the source of the problem. As it turned out, it was all because of Bronzor trying to control electricity. A Luxray had helped it break open the safeties on a major cable in the nearby hydroelectric plant and the resulting power surges were negatively affecting Pokemon in the region. I figured that since Bronzor had trained here before, training here again was probably the best bet.
I cleared the forest, and the power plant was right in front of me. It was a multi-story building, designed to run with minimum human interaction. The plant was the unappetizing gray colour of concrete, with stripes of different coloured paint being used for direction, not aesthetics. It was also blocky and felt unrefined, definitely an industrial building. All in all, it was a perfect place to train.
I circled the plant, staying just inside the forest until the plant lay between me and the Camp. By the time I had set up the tent in a small clearing night had fallen, so I decided to just go to bed so I’d be fresh for the morning. I decided against letting my Pokemon out of their Poke Balls – God knows what mischief they’d get up to in these new surroundings. I got into the tent and zipped the flap shut – previous experiences had taught me that insects found me delicious. The night was pleasantly warm, so I didn’t get into the sleeping bag. Instead, I laid on top of it, enjoying the extra ten centimeters between the hard ground and myself. Sleep came easier than I expected it would.
I woke up later than usual – the thick fabric of the tent kept light out very well. I unzipped the flap and immediately flinched away from the light. Grumbling under my breath, I emerged into the forest clearing. To my surprise, Gallade was stretching his arms and legs, preparing for his morning exercises. The fact that he had left his Poke Ball on his own terms wasn’t the surprise – the surprise was that he’d managed to leave the tent without waking me up. We nodded at each other in greeting, and then Gallade returned to his stretches. I gently squeezed each of the other four spheres on my belt, and my other four Pokemon appeared in flashes of white light. I realized a little too late that perhaps releasing Slip was a stupid idea. Upon materialization, she completely obliterated two trees and smashed down a third. She roared happily – ever since her evolution from a weak Magikarp, she delighted in destroying things with her large, powerful body.
“Yeah, yeah, quiet down,” I joked. She roared once more then quieted down and lowered her head, signaling that she was paying attention. I turned and looked at all of my Pokemon. They weren’t dumb like animals. They might appear beastlike and have animalistic qualities, but they all had the spark of true intelligence, just like people.
“All right, gang, we’re gunna be staying here for two days. I don’t mind what you do, but don’t stray too far and don’t cause any trouble. There’s a river over that way,” I pointed as I spoke, “but Bronzor and I will be in the nearby power plant.”
Gallade, Smash, Crusher and Slip all shot Bronzor a quick look. I knew that they didn’t feel any particular kinship with the small disc-like Pokemon, but I hoped that Bronzor would soon loosen up. Crusher had really rubbed Slip the wrong way to begin with, but now they were quite happy with each other.
“Well, feel free to come with us, but otherwise I’ll catch you at dinner-time,” I finished. Slip grunted and began slithering through the trees like a snake towards the river. Smash yapped happily and ran after Slip. Gallade nodded to me and followed them. I had no doubt he was going to try and learn the water-sword technique. I looked over to Crusher. He had evidently decided that it was too early to move around because he had settled down and for all intents and purposes was sleeping. I began walking towards the plant, and Bronzor followed me quietly. I never knew what it was thinking – I didn’t even know if it knew what was happening.
I took Bronzor to one of the large turbine rooms. These rooms were situated low down in the plant, where the river turned large shafts to generate electricity. The room in general was clean, but near the pools where water rushed there were small patches of fungus. There was only one door in the room, and it was large enough to fit a troop hovercraft easily. I walked over to the opposite side of the room, where large cables carried the generated electricity to processing stations. I approached the control panel, and lowered the intake on one of the cables. I was careful to make sure it wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things – I could get in serious trouble if I was found tampering with this equipment.
Once I had lowered the intake level, I located the corresponding cable. I formed a mental image of a sword, and reached for the place deep inside me where my Aura powers lay silently. I grabbed a spark, and one materialized in the outside world. I grabbed it with my right hand, and used my left hand to stretch the spark out into the shape of a blade. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that Bronzor was watching me closely. Once the blade was created, I made the hand-guard long and arc-shaped, so that it looked like an over-sized sai knife. With one quick movement, I stabbed the cable with the Aura Blade. The sword sheared the cable in half, but before the two halves could snap away from each other the two points of the hand-guard pierced them too, keeping them from separating too far. Electricity crackled and sparked between the two halves – they were close enough to maintain the circuit, so hopefully no one would notice the slight drop until we were far gone. I stepped away the sparks, and I noticed Bronzor moving closer. Before it could get within two metres, however, I blocked it.
“Look, I’m here to help you learn,” I said to the disk-shaped Pokemon. It was hard to gauge its emotions – no part of its face moved except its eyes. “You need to trust me, and do as I say, okay?”
Bronzor didn’t reply, but it didn’t try to push past me either. I took that as a good sign, and lowered my arm. It floated towards the sparking cables, and it lowered itself until electricity was passing through itself easily. Its eyes half-closed in an expression that was either pleasure or pain. I quickly pulled out my PDA and opened the file I had saved earlier. The wireless network of the Camp didn’t reach this far, but I had made sure to save all the files and pages I might need.
“Okay, it says here you can learn a move called ‘Charge Beam’,” I said as I consulted the Bronzor statistic page. I opened the Charge Beam file, and was greeted with information on the attack in question, from power and reliability to history and theory. I quickly scanned the theory section, and then squatted in front of Bronzor.
“What you want to do is imagine yourself being inside a lake of electricity,” I said, paraphrasing the information I had just read. “The external electricity is just to help you get started – once you get the feel, you should be able to create the sparks, not just control them. Anyway, once you’re inside the lake, you draw the lake inside yourself. Lastly, you spring a tiny leak and force as much of the lake out as possible. If you don’t get all the electricity out, that doesn’t matter. It just means you’ll be able to reach for the electricity easier next time.”
Bronzor didn’t make a sound, but I thought it bobbed a little in midair, kind of like it was emulating a nod. I walked over to the wall, and again reached for the spark inside me. A small, glowing-blue cone of energy winked into existence over my left pointer finger, and I used it to trace a rough bulls-eye in the cement wall.
“First, you need to perfect firing the Charge Beam, and then you need to work on accuracy,” I told my newest Pokemon. “If you can get inside of the outer ring by the end of the day, you’ll be doing great.”
Bronzor bobbed once more, and then closed its eyes in concentration. I sat down to watch it. After five minutes, I got bored, and started playing games on my PDA. After another five minutes, I heard a large zap. I looked up, and saw a large black scorch mark on the wall, five meters from the target.
“Great job!” I said happily to Bronzor, but its eyes were narrowing in concentration, and it was too busy to acknowledge me. I heard another crack, and I saw a whip-like protrusion of electricity extend from the sparks and smack the wall next to the first scorch mark. The current problem seemed to be that Bronzor wasn’t able to control the flow of electricity once it was emitted. By nature, electricity was random and flowing. Bronzor needed to learn to keep it rigid. I was about to voice this aloud, but I decided not to. If he could perfect emitting the electricity, we could worry about aiming later.
As I watched Bronzor train, I realized that I should be doing the same thing, not sitting around playing video games. I put away my PDA and stood up to do some stretches. While I was stretching, I continued to hear the electrical cracks, but none of them went near the target, and they were all whip-like as opposed to beam-like. Once all my muscles were limber, I took a relaxed stance and decided to practice my Aura particle creation techniques, as opposed to radiation resistance. After all, it was rather hard to repel radiation when there was no radiation to repel. I held my hand out in front of me and drew on my Aura powers. Tiny little blue motes of light flew up from my palm and collected together into an orb, becoming more distinct as they did so. The orb was about the size of a marble, and it hovered about eight centimeters above my palm. I nodded. That was about as far as I had managed to get it and succeed every time. I dispelled the orb, and it turned to dust from the bottom down. The way the dust fanned out over my hand reminded me of low-lying fog around some mountains. I shook my head and began trying to create the orb higher above my hand.
More than six hours later, I looked up from my training over to Bronzor, for the fifth time in the last ten minutes. He’d managed to pull out three Charge Beams per minute for the last ten minutes, so I figured that was pretty much his limit. I stood up, and stretched, groaning as I did so. My forehead was layered with sweat, and I had massive armpit stains on my shirt. I took a sniff, and immediately recoiled. I’d managed to create an orb eighteen centimeters above my palm, which was a personal best. Bronzor’s eyes were closed and it was hovering much lower to the ground, which I took to be a sign of exhaustion. I also didn’t know how well Bronzor was taking the coursing electricity, so I decided to shut it off and see how he was doing. I walked over to the control panel and dropped the electricity to nothing. Sparks stopped jumping across the sword, and the sword itself slowly faded from existence. Apparently my stamina had increased, but perhaps electricity could be used as a supplement. It was something to investigate another time.
I crouched down in front of Bronzor’s and I noted that the bottom of his body was just touching the cement floor, which itself was severely scorched. I looked over at the wall where I had etched the target, and while Bronzor hadn’t managed to get inside the target, he certainly had got a lot closer. Three marks were right on the edge.
“Do you think you can try without the electricity?” I asked the tired little Pokemon. It opened its eyes and looked up at me. It bobbed in the air, which I was sure represented a nod. Its eyes closed in concentration, but nothing happened. As I watched silently, it began to shake, but no sparks emerged. I sighed.
“It doesn’t matter, there’s always tomorrow,” I said to it. I wasn’t actually surprised – it was very unlikely that Bronzor would be able to learn the move inside a week, let alone two days. As soon I had finished speaking, I felt Gallade reach for me through our telepathic link. He sent me a mental picture of Smash, Crusher, and Slip waiting around at the camp site. I noticed ruefully that it was much larger than it was this morning. I was fairly sure that Slip had made it bigger, and Crusher probably would have helped being the pathological person-pleaser that he was.
I took the picture as a hint that I should start making my way home. I stood up, stretching once more. While I was tensing my calves, I heard a large crack and felt some heat shoot past me. My head shot up, and I looked over at the target. A brand new scorch-mark was smoking on the wall, and it was just inside the outer circle. I turned to look at Bronzor, and I grinned. I wasn’t sure, but I felt that if it could, it would be smiling back.
By the time we both reached the camp site, night had begun to fall. I found a crackling fire outside my tent, no doubt Gallade’s work. I also found seven fish laid out in a row on a long flat rock – despite his intelligence, Gallade couldn’t cook at all. Apparently, he’d waited for me to do it. I smiled at him, and speared the fish onto long sticks before propping them up over the fire. Smash was gobbling a large fish raw – I’d tried teaching him to each cooked food, but he preferred it raw. Slip wasn’t interested in our food, knowing her she would have been snacking the entire day on whatever crossed her path. Lastly, Crusher was gnawing on a small pile of rocks next to the tent. I didn’t know how he converted them into sustenance, but he was a Rock type, so it made sense.
Bronzor moved over next to Smash, who was still eating his fish. Smash growled a little bit, but Bronzor just laid against the little blue Pokemon so it didn’t have to levitate any more. Smash looked a little surprised, but went back to eating his fish. I smiled. Hopefully Bronzor would start fitting into the team a little better now. I pulled out a battery and placed it in front of the little disk-shaped Pokemon. It looked up at me, and nodded. Small sparks hovered out of both ends of the battery, and they moved over to Bronzor, who absorbed them.
Gallade coughed loudly, and my attention returned to the fire. It’d be a little while before they were ready, but that was fine. I laid down on the ground, supporting my head with my arms. I could see all the stars in the sky, and I felt very much at peace. Perhaps I’d drag my sleeping bag outside and sleep next to the fire tonight.
I woke up to the blaring of my PDA alarm. The word ‘Tuesday’ was flashing in big yellow letters on the screen. I groaned, and shut it off by clapping my hands once. Slip muttered something, but didn’t wake up. Gallade was nowhere to be seen, but that wasn’t unusual. He got up to exercise at the crack of dawn, but recently he had decided to stop dragging me along, a choice for which I was eternally thankful. Strangely, Crusher wasn’t here either, but again, I wasn’t worried. I was pretty sure he could handle pretty much anything found in this area. Smash was sleeping curled up next to my side, and Bronzor was leaning against him. I took a quick look at the Bronze Pokemon. It was awake, but not moving. I quietly slipped out of my sleeping bag, trying not to disturb Smash. Once I was out, I started eating a chocolate bar and I sent a message to Gallade, letting him know that I was heading off. When I finished the bar, Bronzor rose into the air, waiting patiently to go. I smiled at him, and together we headed off to the hydroelectric plant.
Six hour later, I was pleased with Bronzor’s progress. All of his Charge Beam attacks were landing within the outer circle now. The problem was that the form of the attack was still whip-like, not the straight beam it was supposed to be. Despite this, I was impressed with how far the little Pokemon had come, although I figured that the training Bronzor had done with the wild Luxray when I caught him was helping too. I was about to return to my training when I heard a ghostly chuckle. I turned around to look, but I couldn’t see anything. As soon as I began to concentrate, I heard the chuckle again. I whipped my head around faster, but couldn’t see anything. I began falling into a relaxation trance, but the giggling interrupted me again. I grunted in frustration.
“That’s not you, right?” I asked Bronzor, who had just fired off another lash of electricity.
It shot me a look that I clearly understood: You’re kidding, right?
I took out my PDA, and laid it carefully on the floor, with the camera lens pointing behind me. I then pretended to fall into a trance, but I was actually watching the screen of my PDA intently. After waiting for a minute, I saw a purple blob phase part-way through the cement wall behind me and giggle. It had huge triangular eyes, and I could see two small white fangs poking out of its mouth as it laughed. Not for the first time I marveled at the usefulness of my PDA.
“I know you’re there,” I said, loudly but calmly. The blob looked surprised, and hissed uncertainly at me. I slowly stood up and turned around. I finally recognized the Pokemon as a Gastly. They were very rare. I had no idea what one was doing here.
Carefully, avoiding sudden movements, I took out a chocolate bar and unpeeled the wrapper. I then placed the chocolate bar on the ground and backed away. I motioned for Bronzor to do the same as well, and it obeyed willingly.
The Gastly moved out of the wall. I could now see that while its spherical body was dark purple, the body was surrounded by light purple gas that swirled around hypnotically. It moved carefully forward, keeping an eye on both Bronzor and I. When it reached the chocolate bar, the bar suddenly floated up into the air. I rubbed my eyes, amazed. However, when I looked closer, I saw I was wrong. The Gastly was using the purple gases to hold and eat the chocolate bar.
When it was done, it burped loudly. I burped in response, and the Gastly laughed its spooky laugh again. It moved closer to me, and I stiffened my muscles unconsciously. It circled around me, being mindful of Bronzor. Bronzor was keeping an eye on the Gastly as well – when the Gastly got a little close, it let out a high-pitched warning. I was shocked – this was the first noise Bronzor had made since I captured it, and furthermore I was touched that it was defending me.
The Gastly finished inspecting me, and it raised itself to eye-height. We stared at each other for a couple seconds. Suddenly, it made a funny face by raising its eyes and sticking its tongue out, and I recoiled. As I recovered from the shock, the Gastly chuckled at length.
“What are you doing here?” I asked it.
The smile immediately disappeared from its face. It took on a more somber expression, but didn’t say anything. I figured that something might have happened to its parents, but I had no way to find out what. I felt uncomfortable, so I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
“Would you like to battle?” I offered.
The Gastly looked up at me, as if considering it. After a few heart-beats, it chuckled and nodded. As it moved backwards, I wondered what drove Pokemon to find a trainer. Perhaps it was hardwired into their minds, or maybe it was just the drive to find companionship that all sentient creatures felt. Whatever it was, I was more than happy to oblige the Gastly – I knew that it was a Ghost type, and Ghost types were famous for being hard to beat. Unfortunately for me, since I couldn’t access the wireless network, I’d have to battle off memory. Furthermore, I only had Bronzor with me – this was going to be a one versus one battle.
I noticed that Bronzor had floated up in front of me, automatically mirroring the Gastly. Perhaps the lack of my other Pokemon was a good thing, I reflected. Nothing seals a new bond better than a fight!
The Gastly giggled one last time, and began phasing out of view. Bronzor immediately lashed out at the Gastly using a Charge Beam. I noticed that the beam was still long and fluid as opposed to rigid. Just before the electricity made contact, the Gastly jinked to the right and completely faded from view.
“Bronzor, you can’t just use Charge Beam to fight,” I called out to it. “Your strongest moves are your Psychic ones, especially against this particular opponent! Try using Future Sight – you won’t need to see it to do that.”
Bronzor made a shrill chirp, and began looking all around the arena. It seemed to lock onto something, and then began spinning gently. It spun on all its axises, and I saw that its eyes were closed. Suddenly, the spinning stopped, and on the other side of the room the Gastly suddenly reappeared and flew backwards before smashing into the wall. It was almost as if it had the invisibility knocked off of it. I also noted that it didn’t phase through the wall – apparently there were limitations on that ability.
“Great job, Bronzor, now let’s go on the offensive! Use Confuse Ray!” I yelled.
Several multicoloured orbs started growing in front of Bronzor, in front of each of the sphere around its oval-shaped body. When the orbs were complete, they started to move towards the Gastly, wavering and dancing around. The Gastly knew better than to look at them, though. It returned fire – two identical orbs launched from its eyes towards Bronzor, flying in the same erratic and yet entrancing way.
“Don’t look at them!” I cried out, and we both looked away. A couple seconds too late I realized that taking my eyes off the battle was a supremely stupid move. When I looked back, the Gastly was right in front of Bronzor. Some of the purple fog that made up the Gastly’s body formed into a fist, and the fist smacked into Bronzor, knocking him backwards. Bronzor immediately retaliated by launching another electrical whip at the Gastly, which was again dodged easily.
“Bronzor, you have to stop doing that!” I yelled. “I know I make mistakes, but you need to trust me!”
Bronzor turned to look at me. It scrutinized me for a couple seconds, and then bobbed gently before turning back to face the Gastly. I smiled.
“Now, attack it with Extrasensory!” I called. As Bronzor fired a multicoloured beam at the Gastly, I felt glad that I had taken the time to read up on Bronzor’s abilities.
The Gastly was cool under pressure. It opened its mouth wide, and a dark purple sphere began growing in front of its face. Pieces of the purple gas were sucked into it, but were quickly replaced. Just before the Extrasensory made contact, the Gastly shrieked and fired the attack. The purple ball cut straight through the rainbow-coloured beam, dispelling it to all sides. The ball was much faster than I anticipated, too – it travelled the distance between the two combatants in half the time the Extrasensory had.
The purple ball smashed into Bronzor, making it spin around. I had been tempted to ask it to dodge, but I felt that would have been a bad idea. There was no guarantee it would have been able to, and beside, that was Soot’s main battle plan – to just yell “dodge” all the time. It really pissed me off. And besides, now I could make full use of one of Bronzor’s more esoteric abilities.
“Bronzor, hit it with a Payback!” I called.
Bronzor regained control of his levitation, and began spinning towards the Gastly like a frisbee. The purple Ghost-typed Pokemon launched a small fireball at the incoming attack, but the size of the target had decreased. Bronzor was able to evade it by yawing to the left. It then turned sharply to the right and flew into the Gastly’s face. Both Pokemon hit the ground, but the Gastly was the first up. It opened its mouth wide, and purple fog began rolling out of its mouth. I hadn’t seen that move before, but I assumed it was a Poison-typed move. That was good, because it wouldn’t affect Bronzor, courtesy of his Steel-typing. However, the clouds were rapidly obscuring the battlefield. Soon, I wouldn’t be able to see anything.
“Alright Bronzor, here’s your chance,” I yelled. “If you can, dispel this fog! I don’t care how!”
I heard another shrill chirp, following by what I thought was the chirping of birds. After a couple seconds, I corrected my thought – the sound was the crackling of electricity. I sighed. I really needed to find out what was behind Bronzor’s love of electricity. I could just barely see a yellow glow inside the purple fog when it happened. A yellow tentacle emerged from the fog, and it began moving. It spun around in a circle, and the fog slowly began following it, until the fog looked like a typhoon contained in an invisible sphere. Finally, the electric whip exploded, and the fog began to fade. I wasn’t sure what just happened – according to the laws of physics as I knew them, it should have been impossible. Then again, ever since meeting Smash, I had slowly become accustomed to nature’s laws being flouted.
The Gastly was hidden in the last part of the fog to disperse, charging another purple ball. It fired the ball at Bronzor, but this time I was ready.
“Use Faint Attack!” I cried. “Show that Gastly it isn’t the only Pokemon that can fade from view!”
Bronzor began spinning towards the Gastly, just like it did when it had used Payback. It used a barrel roll to avoid the attack, and it used small remaining wisps of the fog to keep from being in view for too long. The Gastly began to get a bit nervous – because it was in the foggiest part of the room, it was in the most danger. It started moving away, into a clearer patch, when Bronzor smashed into it again. However, it appeared the Gastly was ready. A small part of the purple fog turned into a fist, and the fist punched Bronzor rapidly as both Pokemon fell to the floor.
They were both tired now. The Gastly was openly panting, and Bronzor couldn’t rise higher than half a metre off the floor. Suddenly, the Gastly’s eyes started glowing yellow. I recognized the move – it was Hypnosis, one of the many moves in Gallade’s repertoire. However, I knew Hypnosis’ weakness. It had to make eye contact, and that worked out perfectly for me.
“Bronzor, the Gastly is using Hypnosis. Let’s do the same thing! Hypnosis!” I yelled.
Bronzor’s little black eyes glowed yellow as well, and the two Pokemon made eye contact. Slowly, all four eyes closed, and finally both Pokemon fell asleep at the same time. The Gastly relaxed, and flowed onto the ground. Bronzor, on the other hand, hit the ground and rolled towards me. I picked it up and returned it to its Poke Ball.
“Great job, Bronzor,” I said to the Poke Ball as I clipped it onto my belt. I then approached the sleeping Gastly and dug out an empty Poke Ball. I threw it underarm at the sleeping Ghost Pokemon. The red and white sphere gently tapped the Gastly’s dark purple body, and a red flash enveloped it. The Poke Ball began shaking as the Gastly unconsciously fought with the capture mechanism.