Chapter 11: Saffron Tournament Part 1Edit
Dawn had already recalled her Hitmonchan. She threw out an ultra-ball, which split open far above Charmeleon’s head. The light emanating from it took on a massive shape. I mean really massive – larger even than an entire room. Before Ash could finish his sentence, the Snorlax materialized midair, bringing all ten-some tons of blubber crashing onto Charmeleon, snapping multiple bones in the process. The colossal pokemon then anticlimactically kept on dozing. Ash gasped. His Charmeleon was pretty much dead! If he didn’t get it to the poke-Center in under a minute, his guardian pokemon would be no more! Images of Officer Jenny’s Steelix struck back into his mind. The battle and winning wasn’t as important as the life of a pokemon…
“Return!” he shouted, and aimed below the Snorlax. However, the red recalling beam struck the Snorlax and ended there, unable to go past anything solid. He couldn’t recall his pokemon, and if he couldn’t do that immediately, he would soon lose a traveling partner…
Frantic, Ash ran out onto the field. “I forfeit! Now get this Snorlax off my pokemon!” he shouted, waving his hands in the air in surrender.
The referee raised the green flag the second time that match. “Ash forfeits, and this match goes to the green trainer, Dawn!”
Dawn coolly recalled her Snorlax. Ash recalled his Charmeleon, and dashed off as fast as he could to the poke-Center amidst excited shouts by the crowd. Ash ignored it all, knowing after all that none of them were cheering for him, the expected-to-lose red trainer. Although Lily had already prepared a barrage of possible phrases and sentences she could use to humiliate Ash after the match in the name of poking fun, she didn’t find this to be an occasion to use any of them; instead, she looked on, startled and terribly frightened of her own matches.
Since the poke-Center was right next door and already prepared to handle the emergency medical conditions that the competition was bound to cause, it took mere seconds to run over there and hand over the pokeball holding the broken remains of his Charmeleon to Nurse Joy. She opened a large machine and put the pokeball inside. A string of lights on a dashboard began to light up as the treatment process was underway.
Ash felt someone touch his shoulder and turned around to see who. It was Gary, with a downtrodden facial expression. He didn’t say anything regarding the match that had just ended, for he knew that it must have dealt Ash a terrible blow and he knew something about tact. Neither said anything for a long while. He just stayed there, lightly squeezing Ash’s shoulder in an attempt to comfort him. And Ash appreciated his friend for that.
The last of the lights had lit up green about a minute into the regenerative process. Ash sighed with relief as Nurse Joy handed over his two battered and recuperated pokemon back to him in their pokeballs. He didn’t have to summon his pokemon out to know that they were definitely back to normal. The modern medicine, created by hundreds of pokemon’s secretions, didn’t know failure.
Why did we lose!? How could a psychic pokemon lose to one it should have a type advantage against? Isn’t telekinesis supposed to be able to stop a fighting pokemon cold? And Charmeleon – I’m going to have to prepare it for similar situations in the future from other falling large pokemon. That ‘squash’ tactic is really unfair and unexpected, but it worked, and if I’m to rescue Kay I’ll have to master these tactics and prepare counters against them.
Silently, Ash and Gary returned to the Saffron City Gym. Their one-minute excursion meant that they had already missed a match. Gary returned to his seat, surrounded by six charmingly beautiful girls, while Ash took a seat beside Lily. Opposite sat a black-haired teenager much older than him who watched the third match solemnly, without any hint of the jovial atmosphere.
“Daniel’s Electabuzz shockingly wins the day! And the match goes to the green trainer, Daniel! And now for our next match,--“
Ash had decided to find out who the stranger sitting next to him was, and opened a psychic channel. In her mind he ran up against the proverbial hundred-story-tall castle wall. This person must be a good psychic, thought Ash as he continued to probe around her conscious for weaknesses in the mental defense. There were none. Desperate, he bashed against that barrier – and cried out, as if a knife had suddenly jabbed into his soft brain flesh. He tottered, for a moment almost falling off his seat as he groped his head in a terrible pain.
He had to fight this! Otherwise, there seemed to be little respite from such agony. He attempted to will his mind to become null, to ignore the side effects of this unsuccessful attempt. But then something pro-active entered his mind, something he had never experienced before. Without even being able to resist, Ash’s mind was, figuratively, sucked into a spiral and locked down. He kept repeating his last movements unconsciously, as his mind was unable to even comprehend the basics of logic and sentience. He was as smart as a vegetable, and he didn’t even know it, nor anything else for that matter. It seemed as if he had just gone terribly insane or retarded.
This problem only let up half an hour later. In that time, though he wasn’t paralyzed or asleep, he hadn’t been able to do a thing. He turned around quizzically as his reality suddenly shifted into the reality of crowds cheering as another match was about to begin. It was already the third to last match, and from the residual smile on her face, Ash guessed that Lily had already won her first round. These thoughts were broken by a cheerleading troupe that Ash remembered quite clearly.
“Gary, Gary, he’s our man,
“if he can’t do it no one can!”
Indeed, up next was the green trainer Gary. He looked diminutive out there on the arena. “And now, let’s give it up for the red trainer, P.J. of New Bark Town!” The competitor was a man slightly over twenty years of age. “…What pokemon will they use to begin the match?” blared the announcer.
Both competitors were standing on their own raised platform, resembling a small tower encircled by hand-bars. They waved to the crowd, before looking at each other intently. Gary smiled before shouting, “After this match my pokemon will be mature enough to metamorphose!”
“All right, let’s begin!” The referee lowered both flags simultaneously, and two pokeballs whirled out from opposite sides of the arena.
On Gary’s side of the field, an Abra. On the red trainer’s side, an Ursaring. The large, brown-furred bear pokemon stood much taller than the little yellow-skinned rodent, but Ash knew better than to think it a decided match already. Gary using Abra meant that he knew what was going on… even if the only ability it could possibly use before metamorphosing (or getting transformed) was Teleport.
“All right Ursaring, this should be easy after all the moves I taught you,” encouraged P.J., shouting with fist upraised from the platform-tower he was standing on. “Fury swipes!” Gary muttered something so soft for anyone else to hear, but evidently his Abra did. The next moment it had teleported, reappearing with a velocity as it slammed into P.J.’s face and knocking him backward over the handrail. At the last moment the contestant grabbed hold of the handrail from the outside, dangling. His feet found no solid ground to hold onto, and he couldn’t pull himself up, but at least he wasn’t immediately disqualified.
And because trainers themselves were part of the match, Gary’s move with the Abra would have been legitimate.
Whoa, now that’s what I call really unconventional moves, thought Ash.
P.J. was visibly straining. “Hurry up, Ursaring! Get that Abra!” The bear pokemon chased the Abra halfway around the arena as everyone in the crowd burst into laughter at the pathetic Ursaring. Several minutes passed, and the running Ursaring still hadn't caught up with the teleporting Abra, but the determined opponent was still grabbing on.
Finally Gary called out, “All right, enough playing. Finish it off, Abra!” The Abra teleported right on top of P.J., the added weight making him slip even more. Ash put out his psychic feelers and experienced just how panicked and exhausted the man had become. The Abra then proceeded to tickle the man’s slipping hand with its tail. The trainer bit his lip, drawing blood, as he tried to continue holding on, but the tickling sensation weakened him even further.
P.J. fell onto the ground, dead tired. The referee raised the green flag. “The red trainer has exited the arena and is disqualified. And this match goes to Gary of Pallet Town!” The crowd roared in approval and happiness, and Ash joined in at seeing his friend (albeit rival) winning this round. Gary’s personal cheerleading squad burst out into a chant.
“All right Abra, you think you’re ready?” asked Gary. Suddenly his pokemon glowed totally white, before re-shaping into Kadabra. A win and an immediate metamorphosis. At that, the crowd went wild.
After that another match began, and only then did Ash recall that there was a powerful psychic sitting next to him. He turned around and saw her staring at him with a cold expression. “You’re the one who did that unspeakable horror to me, didn’t you?” he accused her. “You’re a psychic. Who are you anyway?”
“You mean you don’t recognize the gym leader of these parts?” quizzed Lily.
“Sabrina!? Well, pleased to meet you,” said Ash humbly, though he doubted that those words were true. Who knew what she already knew about him, just by psychically sensing his mind all that time without him even noticing?
“Prepare for trouble!” said a high-pitched voice. Uh-oh, thought Ash.
“And make it double!” The rest of the gym-turned-stadium fell silent.
“To—“ it turned out that the two were both what appeared to be eight-year-olds, and their mother was hurriedly rushing up to drag them away screaming.
“Ha-ha!” laughed Ash a bit nervously as the mother began trading them over their bad behavior and about how that was one joke that shouldn’t ever be told.
“What happened to you earlier anyway?” asked Lily. “You looked like you were zoned out the entire time.”
“I… eh,” said Ash as he sweatdropped. “Don’t worry, I’m okay. How did your match go? Never mind, I’ll find out for myself…”
“Huh?” Lily’s eyes narrowed. “It’s kind of obvious you’re psychic and using it when you say something like that, you know,” she announced her disapproval.
“Well then, err…” Ash decided not to mention it anymore, and instead decided to watch the next match. Before he knew it all the 32 matchs of the first round had finished (it had only been slightly over an hour).
“All right everyone, welcome back to the second day of the tournament deciding this year’s individual who may challenge Sabrina for the coveted role of Saffron City’s Psychic Gym Leader!” the announcer blared through the loudspeaker. Most people had already taken a seat, and this time Ash, Lily, and Gary were sitting together, the cheering squad not too far away from the latter, whom they doted on.
The skies had become overly cloudy, and seemed likely to rain at any moment.
Ash, despite having lost yesterday, knew that it was important for him to see all the tricks that trainers had so that he could copy off of them and develop counter-tactics with his own team of pokemon. This stuff could come in handy one day when he fought Team Rocket. So here he was, eyes wide open and alert.
“In the second round each trainer may use a total of three pokemon, one at a time. And now, let us welcome Dawn of Twinleaf Town, the green trainer who in the first match beat Ash of Pallet Town—“ Ash winced “—and Violet of Lavender Town, the red trainer who in the first round beat…” The two trainers took to their platforms and waved to the enthusiastic crowd. “And now, let us begin the match!” The referee lowered both flags, and two pokeballs were tossed into the air.
On Dawn’s side, her Hitmonchan again. On Violet’s side, a Dodrio. The three-headed bird pokemon immediately soared to the air. “Well, it looks like the red trainer has got the advantage in this one, for as we know flying pokemon can easily avoid fighting types—“ Before he had finished, Dodrio had shown its swift agility, flying hither and thither, constantly pecking at the fighting pokemon while easily avoiding counterattacks. Dawn, knowing that this was a lost battle, attempted to switch to a different pokemon, but the rapid Dodrio kept blocking the recalling beam of the pokeball. “Oh no! It looks like Hitmonchan is down from all the tri attacks! And now it’s taking a consecutive beating! Will Dawn withdraw from the match?” Finally, however, the red beam came through an opening, and the battered Hitmonchan vanished, though not in critical condition.
“Time for a comeback,” said Dawn with a smile. “Go, pokeball!”
“Get out of there!” screamed Violet. The Dodrio flew out of the way just as a slumbering Snorlax slammed into the ground where it had been perching a moment before. “Whew! That was close! Now get’em with your drill peck!” Dawn looked on with a smile, knowing that even a drill peck would do little to harm a pokemon with as much blubber as a Snorlax. But instead, the moment before the Dodrio would have struck, it vanished inside Violet’s pokeball. No pokemon was released in its place.
“Huh?” exclaimed Lily in confusion; Ash was of the same opinion. Right now it seemed everyone was waiting for something to happen: the two trainers stared at each other as if sure that the other side would lose; Dawn had a sleeping Snorlax out; and Violet didn’t have any pokemon out at all. Both had a pokeball out and ready to use, but neither did anything; they just waited. And waited.
“Hey, are you going to do anything!?” people from the audience began to cry out in anger. Five minutes passed. Ten…
“It seems as if these two trainers are going to spend the entire day out-waiting each other,” said the announcer, “so I’ll just go to sleep…”
Ash looked from one trainer to the other, wondering what was going on, until he realized that Violet seemed to be making furtive glances at the ground. So she’s up to something! Immediately he began opening up a psychic channel to probe what was going on in her mind, and realized that—
The next moment everyone was jolted wide awake by a sudden collapse of the ground right underneath the Snorlax. It had fallen in entirely, and tons of debris had then covered it up, smothering it in its deep sleep and preventing a shocked Dawn from recalling it inside her ultra-ball.
“Oh my goodness someone help dig out my Snorlax!” screamed Dawn in dismay as she forgot all about the match and ran out to look for a spade.
“Do you forfeit?” asked Violet with a smile.
“Yes, yes, now get that pokemon out of there!”
“All right then, Baltoy, get the Snorlax out of the rock tomb!” commanded Violet as Dawn sagged to her knees in defeat. So that was the pokemon that Violet had been secretly using that whole time! Within moments the Baltoy and moved aside the mounds of rock and dirt that were covering up the Snorlax, which had by then already fainted.
“Thank you,” whispered Dawn before rushing to get the Snorlax (in the pokeball) to the poke-Center.
The referee raised the red flag. “And the match goes to the red trainer in a startling turn-around that proves that the ten minutes of wait wasn’t for nothing!” announced the commentator.
“Wow, that was just startlingly swift after a long period of dullness,” said Ash, which Gary agreed to wholeheartedly. “So many tactics… No wonder it’s near impossible to get to a point at which you’re unbeatable.”
Several more matches had passed, all of which ended when a pokemon was so mortally wounded that its trainer had to forfeit to save its life. Not that the competition was risky business – it wasn’t as if there were no medications available immediately. Before Ash knew it, the announcer was heralding “Misty from Cerulean City”. That startled him. The Misty? Gym leader and water-dancer extraordinaire?
“Go, Starmie!” shouted Misty in a high-pitched voice as she threw out her pokeball.
“What’s Misty doing in this competition? Isn’t this going to embarrass her?” asked Ash. The only outcomes were that either Misty lost or that Sabrina lost, and after going through Sabrina's mental attack Ash could not imagine Misty coming out of this victorious.
Gary replied, “Not really. After all, Misty didn’t become a gym leader because she knows pokemon tactics. That’s why she’s the red trainer in this match. No, Misty’s gym is all about agility and perfection of movement – you’ll find out in due time when you challenge her for the Cascade Badge. This match is all just fun for her; everyone knows that.”
Within a minute Starmie had used some strange psychic attack to knock out the opponent’s Ferret, followed by a Quilava the next minute. Before three minutes were up the trainer’s final pokemon had been defeated as well. “And this round goes to the red trainer!” And the crowd goes wild.
“Well, she obviously knows how to handle her Starmie,” Ash said at last.
“We’ll find out, won’t we?” replied Gary with a smile. Soon enough, ere ten minutes were over, the announcer had called Lily. “And now, let us welcome Lily of Pallet Town…”
Ash cheered harder than most people in the audience did. “Go win this one!” he shouted. Lily smiled to him, then walked up to the raised platform.
“And let us not forget Daniel from Ecruteak City!...” The two trainers looked at each other intently as if trying to stare the other down. “Let us begin!” Both sides threw out their pokeballs, materializing into Lily’s flitting Butterfree and Daniel’s Manectric. The latter, a blue-skinned dog-like pokemon with a lightning-yellow mane, didn’t hesitate for the trainer’s orders before discharging a brutal lightning bolt attack in the blink of an eye. In an instant, before the announcer could get a word out of his mouth, the Butterfree had crumpled onto the ground, in serious injury.
“Oh no!” Lily abandoned the platform – and hence any hope of staying in the tournament – and rushed over to the poke-Center with the Butterfree in her pokeball.
Oh my goodness, that was lightning fast, thought Ash (pun intended). He had not often seen lightning types in action before; to see one was to realize another level of pokemon combat. How can psychic pokemon ever compete against a type that operates with swift speed?
“I sure hope my Butterfree is okay,” muttered Gary a bit despondently. Ash knew what he was thinking: How could Lily treat the pokemon I gifted to her in such a manner? Of course, I couldn’t blame her for not knowing that Daniel was about to use an electric type, but as the only pokemon Daniel had used in the first round were electric…
Ash wanted to rush out of his seat and go comfort Lily, whom he knew must be incredibly forlorn or worried, if not both. But he knew that staying behind would be far more useful in the long run, for it would offer him the opportunity to see other tactics that trainers could use. And he already had seen that many matches were decided with good tactics by trainers who knew what they were doing and played to their strengths. Now that both he and Lily were out of the tournament, all that was left was to see how long Gary could last.
A few minutes later, it was his turn. “And now, an ovation for the green trainer, Gary of Pallet Town, who had beat P.J. of New Bark Town previously…”
“All right Gary, go and beat ‘em,” cheered on Ash as Gary stood up. “I’ll be rooting for you! You can’t let our town down!”
“Gary, Gary, he’s our man,
“if he can’t do it no one can!”
“Thank you, thank you,” Gary said to the crowd before bowing once. “Today I’ll be using another young pokemon. If I win, it’ll probably evolve after the match.” Remembering what had happened last time, the crowd went wild.
“And now, let’s give it up for the red trainer, Kite of Goldenrod City! He has traveled a long distance just for this tournament, and yesterday he had beaten…” The crowd went wild for the young man too. “Let the match begin!”
“Go Eevee!” shouted Gary, throwing the pokeball as far as he could. Simultaneously the crowd gasped as a male Golem materialized on the other side of the field. Eevee cringed in fear as the gigantic boulder of a pokemon, some two meters tall, loomed several times taller than it was. Ash felt terror creeping up his spine just by imagining that he was in such a position. This was worse than a one-hit knock-out; this was a one-hit turn-into-fine-dust match.
“My, but isn’t wee little Eevee out of its league in this one! But I wonder why the green trainer isn’t recalling his pokemon? Does he really have winning plan for such a lopsided battle?” rhetorically asked the commentator.
Kite bade to his Golem, “All right, Rolling Tackle, now!”
The commentator continued, “That Golem is an unstoppable juggernaut once it uses Rolling Tackle! Gary would be advised to recall his pokemon—“
The Golem obediently used its massive, impervious arms to begin rolling in Eevee’s direction, accelerating very quickly and preparing for a collision.
“All right Eevee, do your thing,” said Gary, not leaving a hint as to what the ‘thing’ was.