In the mountains of Sinnoh, conditions are as close to perfect for training as they can get. Trails seldom stray into the wilds, and there are plenty of different terrains for wild Pokémon to battle each other on. Many kinds of Pokémon call these areas their home, giving them a diverse group of opponents, and the air is thin and cold, which does even more to harden them as they battle. Rivers flow down the mountainsides, and rocks tumble from the tops of sheer bluffs as Pokémon test their mettle with each other, growing stronger every day.
Some of the Pokémon were far keener on battling than others, of course. Many constantly strolled through the forests looking for anyone that would give them a fight, while others preferred to keep to themselves and avoid conflict. However, there was one young Pokémon who never refused a challenge. A young Machop lived in a quiet grove in the mountains above Veilstone City. The grove was secluded from the rest of the forest, meaning he had as much privacy as he wanted, but he had no use for that. What he really wanted was to constantly be bettering himself, beating the strongest Pokémon he could find. He roamed the woods and fought whoever he came across, no matter how big or small they were.
As a result, Machop grew strong and calloused from his training. But in addition to becoming a seasoned battler, he also caused the rest of the Pokémon in his forest to resent him. When they saw him coming, they either fled or hid, not wanting to get beaten in battle like they had so many times before. Machop turned to meditation and training by himself, but he could feel his body weakening as the number of opponents dropped lower every day, eventually fading to nobody. He contemplated leaving his familiar home for a new region of woods, but knew that he had a perfect place to live where he was. There were plenty of berries for food, and overhanging rocks gave him shelter if he needed it. Leaving would be hard, but the only thing harder was having to abandon his training.
One morning as Machop rose, he decided that he had to leave if he wanted to continue getting stronger. He dipped his hands into the icy stream and drank from it for a final time before setting off. As he turned to walk away, he heard a splash behind him and quickly turned to see where it came from. A strange blue Pokémon with a swirly stomach had leapt out of the water and landed in the middle of Machop’s grove. It looked bewildered as it wandered around, trying to regain composure. It wagged its tail absentmindedly as it waddled around the clearing, but froze in place as soon as it spotted Machop.
The Pokémon was a Poliwag, a creature that Machop had never seen before. To him, the Pokémon looked silly and confused. Even with his spirited approach at finding new opponents, he questioned whether or not the Pokémon was even fit for battle. He looked it over for a long time, but couldn’t even find that the Pokémon had arms. Its legs were hardly better, just tiny protrusions under its round blob of a body. A black swirl moved around on the Pokémon’s white stomach, which mesmerized Machop if he looked at it long enough.
As the Poliwag shook off his surprise, he turned to Machop. He had seen them before, and had battled them several times in the past. Even though he looked completely incompetent, Poliwag was much like Machop. He had also set out on a similar journey only days before, having run out of Pokémon to challenge where he lived. The little Poliwag took an awkward stance and grunted at Machop, who gazed at the tadpole in confusion. He wasn’t sure if he was trying to communicate with him or not, but thought that he almost look as if he was picking a fight.
Machop took a nervous step forward, and Poliwag jumped back with a surprising amount of agility. Its little legs couldn’t have lifted him off the ground alone, but it used its tail as a springboard to jump several feet back. Machop realized now that the Pokémon wanted to fight and grinned, raising his fists. The two looked at each other for a few seconds, but Machop took the first move.
He lunged at Poliwag, reaching for it with both hands. He managed to grab onto the little Pokémon, but only found that it was covered in a slimy film that allowed him to slide out of his hands effortlessly. Poliwag was instantly on the move, waddling clumsily toward the stream. Machop grunted, finding the situation hilarious, and casually followed. Poliwag looked behind him as his opponent gained on him, but quickly leapt into the stream with his tail again.
Machop was thrown off a bit as he tried to trace the Pokémon’s location in the blue water. Poliwag blended in perfectly, and his oily skin allowed him to jet through the water like a bullet. His tail acted like a propeller as he quickly motored upstream. He quickly shot out of the water, giving Machop almost no time to react, and blasted the grey Pokémon with a torrent of bubbles from its mouth. Machop was sent flying into a nearby tree with surprising force as Poliwag disappeared back into the water.
He quickly recovered and abandoned trying to find Poliwag from outside of the water. He jumped into the freezing stream as well, and looked all around for the tadpole. Poliwag looked stunned as he spotted Machop underwater with him, but quickly bolted toward him. He was gaining intense speed as he neared Machop, but the Fighting-type was ready when he arrived. Using a perfectly executed Counter, he moved to the side just as Poliwag went to slam into him. As the surprised Pokémon flew past, Machop grabbed him by the tail and tossed him onto dry land once again.
Poliwag slowly used his tail to push himself up off of the ground as Machop climbed out of the water in pursuit. Without wasting a second, Machop sprang into the air and brought a rock hard hand down onto Poliwag’s back. The Pokémon screeched in pain as Machop continued delivering vicious chops and punches. Finally, Poliwag found an opening and rolled to the side. As Machop followed with a punch, the tadpole used his tail to savagely smack Machop in the face. This gave him just enough time to get back on his tiny feet as Machop recovered from the blow.
Both of them panted and breathed heavily. They were drenched and beaten down, shivering in the chilling mountain air. They looked into each other’s eyes steadily, knowing that they had met the closest thing they had ever known to their match. Machop’s muscles, which he had trained so long and hard to perfect, failed to move forward as he told them to. Poliwag’s tail fell limp behind him as he teetered back and forth in front of his opponent. Eventually, Machop fell to one knee and balanced himself with his hand. Poliwag collapsed to his side and rolled onto his back. Both were exhausted to the point where they couldn’t battle anymore, and simply laid there for several minutes.
Finally, Machop managed to gain enough energy to stand up and walk over to Poliwag. He helped the goofy Pokémon stand on its underdeveloped legs, and gave a respectful nod. Poliwag returned it, and they understood that they were equals in battle. As Poliwag tried waddling back to the water, setting back off on his journey, Machop lifted him up and tossed him in the water. He followed the ripples made by Poliwag’s tail until he couldn’t see them anymore, then walked out of his grove for the last time.
“Explosion!” cried a trainer as thousands of fans cheered him on. His Electrode nodded and quickly rolled over to his opponent, a Torterra. Before the sluggish turtle could react, Electrode was right beside it and burst into a tremendous explosion that shook the entire stadium. When the smoke faded and both trainers could see their Pokémon again, both had fallen to the dirt floor in exhaustion.
It was the final round of the Pokémon League Tournament, where the best trainers from Sinnoh and abroad would meet every year to decide who was the best. Both of these trainers were down to their final Pokémon, and tossed the Pokeballs onto the floor.
On one side a mighty, four-armed behemoth appeared and pounded its chest proudly. Its muscles were perfectly chiseled and it wore a belt around its waist. Its grey skin bore scars from the intense battles it had been in over the past years, getting ready for this very moment.
On the other side of the arena there came a slightly smaller, blue Pokémon. Its body wasn’t as impressive as Machamp’s, but it was still clearly toned. It flexed and performed agile leaps around the field as it eyed its opponent. Both of the Pokémon put everything else out of their minds as they awaited their trainers’ commands.
“Hydro Pump!” shouted Poliwrath’s trainer. The Pokémon’s white, spiraled belly began glowing blue as a huge pillar of water began to fire out of it. The jet slammed into Machamp, who took a single step back as he raised all four of his massive arms to defend himself. Eventually the water pushed him back, sending him flying through the air.
“Hurry, Machamp! Dynamicpunch!” said his trainer. The Pokémon recovered quickly and sprinted toward Poliwrath, its lower arms digging into the ground to propel him forward even faster. Before Poliwrath could react, the Pokémon was on top of him and pounding him with every arm.
The Pokémon stepped back, dazed by the ferocious punches. The two traded blows back and forth, using the entire field as they wore each other down. The trainers’ voices started to become hoarse as they yelled every command they could think of. The two Pokémon couldn’t beat each other, and seemed to weaken in unison.
“Waterfall, put this away!” shouted Poliwrath’s owner.
Water formed around the Pokémon as he lunged forward at Machamp. By the time he reached the Pokémon he was riding a raging torrent of water. Machamp had been waiting, though, and instead of falling back from the hit, he dove right through it. The rough water pushed him back, but using his raw strength and power he managed to go under Poliwrath through the Waterfall attack. He reached up with one arm and managed to hold onto the blue Pokémon’s leg, and without hesitation he jerked him from atop the Waterfall and flung him several yards across the battlefield.
Poliwrath collapsed in a cloud of dust, and Machamp fell as well, having been battered by the intense blast of water. Even though he had turned the attack around, he took the full brunt of it and was almost at his limit. Both Pokémon slowly rose to their feet, taking weak stances as they raised their fists again.
As they looked into each other’s eyes, Machamp remembered a battle from years before. It took him back to a place he once called home, and reminded him of one of the hardest battles he had ever been a part of. An air of familiarity surrounded Poliwrath as they slowly staggered toward each other, limping and breathing heavily. They were only five short feet away from each other when Machamp realized who he was battling. He grinned at his opponent, who looked back at him curiously. The two stared at each other for a while before Poliwrath came to the same realization.
Their trainers looked on, wondering how much more their Pokémon could take. They knew that neither of them had enough energy for another attack, and that this battle would be decided by who could hold out the longest. The two Pokémon swayed, both beaten down to almost nothing. Finally, both of them fell together to the hard floor of the arena. The ground shook as the titans collapsed, and their trainers lowered their heads.
“Draw!” exclaimed the referee. The crowd exploded, some of them thrilled and others angry. The most important battle of the year had ended with both trainers, and both Pokémon, being perfectly equal. The trainers produced their Pokeballs and returned the Pokémon to their homes so they could rest, once and for all.