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Chapter 14: Saffron Tournament Part 4Edit

“Prepare for trouble!” This motto was starting to lose its originality to Ash, but it never lost its ability to instill terror.

“Make it double!” said the man, glaring at the woman in the team.

“To protect the world from devastation,”

“To unite all peoples within our nation,”

“To announce the goods of truth and love,” This is getting weird, thought Ash --

“To look and wish upon the stars above,”

“Jessie!” The two looked really mad at each other--

“James!”

“Saffron psychics blast off at the speed of light!”

“Surrender now or prepare to fight!”

The two leered at each other, and were joined by a Machamp, a three-meter-tall, four-armed fighting pokemon “THAT’S RIGHT!!”.

From the far side of the arena, Sabrina, who had been presiding over the tournament, stood up the moment they were finished. “How dare the lot of you intrude in the Saffron City Gym like it is your back yard? Now get out!” she pointed her hand to the side exit.

“Exactly, what’s with this stupid idea of bringing in a Machamp here!?” demanded James.

“Why are you blaming me for your idiotic idea? I don’t know why we’re here!?” replied Jessie.

“This calls for a battle,” declared James, taking his gun out of his holster. Jessie had done likewise. “I dare you to shoot, if you have a death-wish,” he added.

“I double-dare you!”

“That’s it!” They both flipped off the safeties, and the next moment the Machamp had snatched their guns out of their hands. With its remaining two hands the Machamp grabbed a terrified Jessie and James by their collars. “Waa!! Let me go!” they each protested.

“Surrender now or prepare to fight,” said Machamp, bashing their heads together. James immediately fell limp.

“Ugh… I… feel so winded…” sputtered Jessie, helpless as the Machamp carried them off like two sacks of rice.

"I think I'm gonna faint..." whispered James before doing so.

"That's right!" added the Machamp, flexing its muscles. By now quite a few members of the audience had shaken off the initial rude surprise and were laughing at the trio of newcomers.

“Well… that was comic relief,” stated Misty as she entered the arena. “With Sabrina watching our backs, I think we can have a nice match, don’t you think?” Meanwhile, the thunderstorm had ceased, replaced with bland cloud cover.

Lily muttered to Ash, “What I’m wondering is how even Gary stands a chance against Sabrina.” Exactly, thought Ash. She’ll just make all the pokemon turn on Gary, if not make him do something foolish like change his underwear in front of everybody…

“Well then, it’s back to business! Go Starmie!” shouted Misty as she threw the pokeball with a backspin.

“I choose you, Yanma!” Gary’s damselfly pokemon materialized near the center of the arena and immediately took to the air. As was nearly the norm for Gary, it was un-metamorphosed. “Go for Misty!”

Misty’s teeth started chattering when she saw what she was up against. It came straight at her.

“Slow it down with Bubblebeam!” A wide, bluish beam struck home on the Yanma, coating its clear wings with a foamy coat of bubbles that generated tremendous air resistance.

“Sonic boom!” The Yanma turned mid-flight to emit a shockwave of sound that shattered the glass wall in front of the first row of the audience. Misty screamed in terror as the sudden noise rippled across her eardrums, and the Yanma had blown the foam residue off itself. The Starmie flinched as well, right before it was able to use an electric attack. By the time it recovered, it couldn’t use it anymore because the Yanma was already hovering right in front of Misty’s terrified face.

“Get it off of me!” she screamed, flailing her arms helplessly as her phobia of bugs caused her to run about the platform in a futile attempt to evade the Yanma. The Starmie shot out a burst of water, but it did little to scare away the Yanma. “I don’t care about the contest any more, I’m getting out of here!” screamed Misty as she ran off the platform, her arms in the air as she fled.

The referee held up the green flag. “And this match goes to Gary of Pallet Town!”

Gary smiled as the crowd cheered. Moments later the Yanma had begun metamorphosing as well. At this, the crowd went totally wild in amazement. Ash looked on, unbelieving. This was the fourth metamorphosis in one day. Did Gary have nothing but an arsenal of pokemon ripe to metamorphose? On the sidelines, a terrified Misty was still hyperventilating from her close encounter with a bug, however harmless it may actually be.

Ash looked on with suspicion as amidst the jubilation the ever-stoic Sabrina was called by an attendant to attend to some matters outside the gym.

Gary stayed on the arena but moved to the opposite side, and its demolished platform, as he recalled the Yanmega back into his pokeball. The commentator’s voice could barely be heard above the crowd. “And now, for the final round, and the match you’ve all been waiting for, we pit green trainer Daisy of Pewter City and her unbelievable Machoke and company, against our new darling contestant, the metamorphose-every-match red trainer Gary of Pallet Town!” Moments later Daisy entered the arena, stopping on the still standing platform.

“Let the match begin!”

Suddenly two familiar strangers ran into the arena. It was the same pair as the blundering blokes who had been carted off by the Machamp in ignominy. But Sabrina wasn’t here this time, and Ash surmised that she was the one who had been confounding the trio last time. “Prepare for trouble!” said one.

“Go Raichu!” shouted Daisy, disregarding what was happening.

“Make that double!” What a bunch of idiots, do they intend to fight against the hundred trainers in this arena?! Wondered Ash, incredulous.

“Pidgey, I choose you!” said Gary in like fashion. The bird pokemon appeared and immediately soared into the sky.

“To denounce the evils of truth and love!” The crowd gasped in terror as Team Rocket pulled out one gun each. Unlike the matches, an intrusion by Team Rocket called for a battle -- one that spelled life and death for real.

“Raichu, electrocute that Pidgey!”

“Pidgey, use Sand-attack!” Before Raichu could unleash its attack, it had been blinded, while the Pidgey soared out of the way.

“To extend our reach to the stars above!”

“Go Jirachi!” shouted someone from the crowd, tossing the pokeball into the ring. A doll-like, white-steel pokemon emerged. Many others were trying to flee the arena, but were making a big noise out of it.

“Agility, now!” shouted Gary as Raichu began shooting charged bolts into the bird pokemon’s general vicinity.

“Jessie!” the female Rocket said, releasing a trio of pokeballs into the air. They materialized into a Victreebel, an Absol, and a Graveler, which immediately took up protective places around the trainers.

“Go Magnemite!” shouted Gary, using his second pokemon in a tournament where only one was allowed. Not that anyone cared at this point – getting rid of Team Rocket was important. The large magnet pokemon materialized in front of Gary and caught a mischievous bullet headed his way. It was sent spinning onto the ground, but the bullet made only a minor scratch on the metallic surface. Gary was terrified, but continued.

“James!” said the other member of the pair, throwing a trio of pokeballs into the air. They released a – instead of releasing, however, they were suddenly attracted to the tips of the Magnemite, and there they remained.

“Go Gastly! Use Destiny Bond to protect the trainers out on the field!” Dark stars suddenly streaked into the cloaks of the Team Rocket pair.

Pidgey had soared high into the air. “Pidgey, use Whirlwind!” It immediately began blowing up a massive dust devil which spun directly at the opposing Raichu. What the? Wondered Ash. Is Gary going to try challenging both his opponent and Team Rocket simultaneously?

“Team rocket blast off at the speed of light!” shouted Jessie, shooting her gun blindly into the air as the crowd screamed in terror. Several additional trainers had let loose their pokeballs.

“Manectric, take down those intruders!” shouted Daniel from the sidelines.

“Ditto, transform into Machamp right now!” ordered Duplica.

Manectric powered up for another lightning bolt attack, but it instead struck the Graveler, doing next to nothing against the electric-immune pokemon. The two Machamps in the middle of the arena began a wrestling match, ignoring the several bullets they soon each sustained.

Bullets began whizzing. “Go Misdreavus!” shouted another Officer Jenny, and the ghost pokemon materialized, casting Payback on Jessie, whose side suddenly sported a gunshot round absent a bullet.

“Surrender now or prepare to fight!” James finished the motto, tossing three more pokeballs into the air. They opened up on the ground, the Magnemite having been saturated with holding the first three.

“Break their pokeballs!” shouted Officer Jenny to the grunts who were arrayed alongside her. They suddenly ducked as bullets struck the empty seats right in front of them. Those members of the audience who couldn’t flee to the exit cuddled between rows of seats, neatly hidden out of view and protected by the rows of seats before them.

“Absol, future sight, now!” ordered Jessie. The dark-type wolf-like pokemon immediately tapped into its dark-energy reserves and countered Jirachi’s Psybeam attack.

“THAT’S RIGHT!!” roared Machamp in victory, toppling the bullet-ridden fake.

“Raichu, clean out your eyes and get that Pidgey!” shouted Daisy, cuddling behind the platform, which was now riddled with holes. She released another pokeball which materalized into Machoke. The fighting pokemon joined Dawn’s Hitmonchan to fight three-on-one against the enemy Machamp, gradually taking it down.

“Pidgey, return!” shouted Gary, before releasing an until-this-point unknown pokemon from the pokeball a member of the audience had entrusted to him earlier. It looked very similar to a poke-ball, only it was the size of a beach ball. “Ah, a Voltorb! Light barrier!” shouted Gary to the Voltorb as a precaution. Immediately Gary was encompassed by a blinding light that prevented anyone from setting their sights on him.

“We want your pokemon, Gary!” shouted Jessie.

Meanwhile someone had systematically shot and broken the three ultra-balls that Magnemite had been holding, instantly releasing the pokemon. They looked around, confused and startled, but evidently had no interest in obeying their former masters.

“Starmie, ice beam on the Machamp!” screamed Misty, having just rushed back from the poke-Center. Simultaneously, Jessie had tossed out her remaining three pokemon.

“Yeah, we can earn a lot of money from selling them off again! Muk, smoke screen!” added James.

Victreebel screamed in agony as officers’ bullets went straight through its skin, causing the digestive juices within to spill out onto the arena.

Starmie’s beam struck home, freezing the Machamp in a prison of ice that steadily turned red from spilled blood.

“Disaster!” shouted Absol in ambiguous warning and projecting a dark aura over the court.

From the relative safety of the rows of seats, stranded members of the audience donated an Onix, a Kabutops, and a horde of other pokemon into the fray. Kite threw out a pokeball which released his now-healed Golem, and it immediately began a rolling tackle, ignoring bullets like they were mosquito stings.

Ash suddenly found the Absol looking directly at him. A pulse of darkness suddenly struck him head-on, and he reeled back, mind faltering. This was the most intense migraine he had ever experienced, and it wracked his head, torturing him helplessly.

“No, Raichu!” shouted Daisy, terrified.

Bullets aimed for Gary instead struck the illuminated barrier that Voltorb’s electricity had erected. The shots vanished harmlessly into the dazzling light, far away from where Gary really was. “Roll in Team Rocket’s direction!” shouted Gary.

A stray bullet caught Daisy in the throat. Eyes bulging out in shock, she toppled over without a sound, near dead. But it didn’t go unnoticed to one of the nurses, who tossed a pokeball into the stand. A Chansey appeared and, upon seeing the unconscious Daisy, immediately cracked one of its healing eggs over the wound. Immediately it began to reseal; the restorative powers of a Chansey were famous for working without the need for combination with other pokemons’ secretions.

A Snorlax suddenly flattened a Graveler, leisurely squatting on it and preventing it from continuing the fight.

The arena was reduced to a total mess as Golem, Graveler, and Onix tangled themselves in a rocky waste. Nearby, a Kabutops and a Scyther traded blades. A Jynx joined the fray, attempting unsuccessfully to seduce the Absol into defeat.

Someone’s Charizard suddenly lifted Jessie like a prey into the air and, ignoring the grievous wounds caused by a multitude of bullets from the terrified woman, slammed her head-first into the arena wall. She tumbled down to the ground, her skull cracked and oozing red.

Daisy’s Raichu, already dizzy from being buffeted by a whirlwind, was suddenly knocked backward by Gary’s Magnemite. It collapsed, unable to continue.

A beam of ice shot out of Aquamarine’s Dewgong, locking James in place. Meanwhile, Ash recovered at last, still in a state of sheer terror and trauma after the dark attack by the Absol.

The Voltorb had gotten to position. “All right, Explode!”

BOOOOMMMM!!

After the explosion had subsided, Team Rocket’s section of the arena was a total disaster. Broken bones and spilled entrails littered the place. The icy prison surrounding James was entirely melted off, and he had collapsed to the ground with an arm missing.

“That’ll teach you not to fight against us,” said Gary at the two fainted (or worse) Team Rocket members. Mere seconds later the dozens of pokemon fielded by the other trainers had mopped up the remaining opposition.

Aside from the three pokemon that were freed from their ultra-balls and the Graveler, the rest of Team Rocket’s pokemon had been slain in battle. Quite a few pokemon belonging to the trainers were likewise fallen. The nurses rushed to bring them all to the adjacent poke-Center, but it was obvious that those who had fallen early on were the so-called ‘beyond-dead’ who could no longer be revived. They were the permanent casualties of the battle.

As the noise subsided, people gradually came out of hiding from behind the seats.

Daisy finally awoke. “Ugh… What happened?” she asked confusedly.

“Is everything all right?” shouted Gary to the platform on the other side, having barely moved a step since the Team Rocket debacle began. The Chansey there nodded. “Whew! That’s good.”

For a minute no one did much anything, while everyone breathed heavily. A nurse had administered a revive to the Voltorb, and it had rolled back to its trainer, who was incredibly scared both for himself and for his pokemon. Gary’s Pidgey metamorphosed on the spot into the much larger bird Pidgeotto, and his Magnemite evolved into Magneton as well. Twice in one match?! Unbelievable!

The referee finally came out of hiding. “Wow, this incredible!” he announced with fervor. “I watched the entire battle and saw the contestants’ performance – not only did they help defeat Team Rocket, but they kept up the battle against each other!” The crowd, still attempting to recover from such a near-death experience, looked at him blankly. “But of the two of them, Gary was by far the more capable, not fleeing, handling the situation excellently, simultaneously fighting on two fronts, and not the slightest bit injured. I think you would all agree that Gary handled the battle best out of all of you.”

The battle over, people who had fled the gym building earlier were now returning in droves to watch the finale.

Ash turned to look, and saw that Gary was still standing on his ruined platform. Daisy was as well, but she hadn’t avoided being shot at…

Moments later Sabrina rushed back into the room with a mad expression, and without asking what had happened, scanned peoples’ minds for a much more informative description of the battle that had transpired. She slapped her aide, whom she had unceremoniously dragged along back to the gym. “see, I told you it was a trick,” she said. “A lure-the-lion-off-the-mountain trick.” The aide turned all red at having been taken for a fool. Sabrina took something small out of her purse, and walked up to Gary.

“You won the tournament, Gary. And it was a showdown no one expected. You risked your life today, more so than perhaps everyone else. You did more than everyone else to defend this gym when I was gone and while everyone was in lethal danger. For that, you deserve this.” In the most silent of moments, she opened Gary’s hand and put the item in his palm. He gave one look at the item and gasped in astonishment. Sabrina cooed, “No one has earned a Soul Badge from me since Kadabra evolved into Alakazam two years ago. You deserve this. Take it.”

Well, that’s one way of earning a Soul Badge I would never want to experience personally, thought Ash. On the other hand, that’s some reward! With Sabrina being Saffron City Gym Leader and undefeated two years running, and with badges expiring every five years, the Soul Badge had become the most valuable of all sixteen, trading on the black market for around 1,200,000.00 Y.

Gary bowed gratefully, then looked back up at Sabrina. “I can’t thank you enough for this badge, but I think that if I received this I should at least try you out in a match, like the champion the tournament is meant to select, even if I don’t win.”

Sabrina smiled. “The tournament is for my amusement. I have analyzed your psychic potency. For all the courage and skill you have demonstrated today, you don’t stand a chance against me. Even if you became an adult. That’s why this badge is so rare.”

“Well, we shall see, won’t we?” Gary smiled. Sabrina smiled back. “Whoa!” exclaimed Gary in surprise as he was suddenly levitated off the ground and unnaturally stuck to the ceiling some thirty meters high. Ash looked around and saw that her vaunted Alakazam wasn’t even around to help, which meant that Sabrina was doing this all by herself.

"You sure you want to do the match?" asked Sabrina, expecting Gary to not be so confident now.

A split second after Gary had suddenly found himself helplessly stuck to the ceiling, Ash, his Kirlia, the Jynx, the Jirachi, Misty’s Starmie, and Violet’s Espeon all joined forces to bring Gary back to earth. It seemed as if everyone wanted the match to happen.

Sabrina’s eyes showed her surprise as it seemed as if Gary’s psychic resistance were somehow stronger than Sabrina’s. Then she smiled again and turned to the audience. “Hey, no cheating.” Turning back to Gary: “Fine, I’ll give you your match. I promise, it will be fast.”

“Well, I didn’t get this far in the tournament just to lose, nor to give up without a try,” responded Gary.

Sabrina turned to face the arena at the center of the gym, which was now cleared out.

Suddenly the entire arena began to rise, going from floor to ceiling in a short while. Along with the arena floor rose the walls, which obstructed the view to the interior. “I’ll be waiting for you at the center, Gary,” she said, before suddenly vanishing. Gary looked aghast at the disappearing girl, then at the door to the center of the arena, before walking in hesitantly.

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