This is another one-shot I was working on in my spare time. It was inspired by my Platinum game Hope you like it!
The Catch Behind Contests
“Welcome to the Contest Hall. I can help you with registering with a Super Contest. Would you like to enter a Pokémon in a Contest?”
“Which rank would you like to challenge?”
“Which Contest would you like to challenge?”
“Which Pokémon would you like to enter? Please choose a Pokémon.”
“Okay! Your Pokémon has been accepted for entry! Your entry is number four. You've barely made it in time, so I suggest you hurry. This way, please!”
“Everybody, may I please have your attention? The Annual Hearthome City Free-for-all Contest will begin shortly. Audience members, you have five minutes to purchase your snacks and find your seats. And to the person who thought it would be funny to spray paint the men's bathroom, you left your backpack behind. Samuel Maxx, please report to the front lobby to receive your belongings and monthly ban from the Contest Hall. Thank you.”
The audience laughed and groaned at the news, their eyes following a red-faced boy sheepishly exiting the auditorium. But as the house lights began to dim, all eyes focused on the rising red curtain. It revealed a brightly-lit stage, on which a balding man stood holding a microphone. The screaming crowd fell silent at the sound of his booming voice.
“Good morning, Hearthome! Once again, it is time for our annual Free-for-all Pokémon Contest, where young, undiscovered coordinators get a shot to prove their talent! First, I will introduce our judges!” The announcer pointed to an cheap, folding table where two women sat, smiling and waving to the crowd. They were complete opposites of each other – one with casual attire and a boy cut. The woman on the left wore a frilly pink dress and frequently paused to fluff her brown hair.
“We have Jordan and Kiera joining us tonight!” he pointed to each of the women in turn. “Now, without any further ado, let's introduce our first contestant! Cristin Parmer!” A deafening round of applause followed, and a tall blonde girl skipped out of the wings and into center stage, her red dress rippling behind her. She stood confidently, hands on her hips, happily basking in the attention.
“Hello Sinnoh! I’m Cristin Parmer, and I'm gonna show you why mine is the only performance you’ll need to see!” With a final wave, Cristin skipped off to the wings.
“Our next contestant is a Johto Gym leader! Jasmine takes the stage!” The screams reached their peak as a brown-haired girl walked to center stage. Her voice was soft, but expressed confidence and pride.
“Hello Sinnoh! I can't wait to participate in this Pokémon contest! The competition looks pretty tough, but we'll give it the best we've got! Thanks everyone!” With a final wave, Jasmine disappeared into the wings.
“All right! Our next contestant is one of our own! The Hearthome City Gym leader, Fantina!” The audience heard Fantina before they saw her – the rustling of her dress and clang of her platforms was hard to ignore. Finally she appeared, her smile beaming as bright as the spotlights. The audience stood to scream and cheer, lighting the dark auditorium with their camera flashes.
“Hello my wonderful audience! Thank you for joining me here today in one of Sinnoh's most sacred art forms. Remember that it's never about who wins or loses, but whether you leave this Contest Hall as a better person, and choose inner beauty over money and glory. I'm sure it will be a pleasure performing in front of you tonight! Thank you!” she waved goodbye to the roaring crowd, and the folds and frills of her dress finally disappeared behind the curtains. The man's voice sounded over the speakers once more.
“And last but not least, entry number four... Rachael!” The chorus of applause continued as the audience awaited the arrival of the fourth unknown contestant...
But apparently, the confident, bouncing performer they were expecting was not present in the girl who now stood in the spotlight. The camera flashes stopped at the sight of her cheap, sparkling dress and 'typical' hairstyle. Murmurs turned to laughter when she refused to lift her gaze from the floor, insisting on twiddling her thumbs in frustration at her own cowardice. The microphone was handed to her, and she began to speak in shaky tones.
“G-good evening, Hearthome... uh, my name is Rachael and I'm really looking forward to this contest. Thanks.” She thrust the microphone back into the announcer's hands, clearly in a hurry to get off the stage.
The announcer seemed unaffected by her nervousness, and simply turned back to face the crowd.
“All right! Let's begin by having everyone get in proper attire for evaluations! Contestants, dress up your Pokémon for the Visual Competition! You have 60 seconds to dress up your Pokémon with accessories. Match the theme and earn higher scores! Our theme today is... rap music!”
The audience's screams and cheers were drowned out by a sudden burst of music. The very walls of the stage trembled with the heavy bass, and several people stood to dance and sing along. The curtains slid closed.
The area backstage was filled with sounds of frantic footsteps, flashes of red from opening pokéballs, and the rustle of fabric and zippers. Contestants rushed to and fro, applying glitter to their pokémon's cheeks and their own. Four large mirrors stood on the far side of the room, trough which pokémon were curiously surveying their appearance. Over all the commotion, one girl's voice stood out above the rest.
“Man, what kind of theme is this? Really, rap music?” said Cristin Parmer as she struggled to fit a too-small T-shirt over her Roselia's head. The pokémon was squealing in protest, and whacking its trainer repeatedly with the oversized petals growing on its hands.
“Stop it, Roselia! Do you want to win or not? DO YOU HEAR ME?” Cristin's teeth were bared in a snarl as she finally forced the shirt onto the Roselia's thin body. But instead of looking relieved, the pokémon turned away from its trainer, crossing its arms.
“Cristin, I don't think you should be yelling at your pokémon like that,” Jasmine said. Cristin looked up from her own pokémon to scrutinize Jasmine's.
Her Steelix was doused in glitter and temporary tattoos shaped into the form of a Pokédollar sign. Black shades covered its eyes. It smiled menacingly, exposing rows of false-gold teeth. In all, it was the perfect interpretation of a rap theme. Cristin returned the helpful remark with a sneer.
“How'd you get your Pokemon done so fast? I bet you cheated your way into the competition.”
Jasmine crinkled her nose. “You better watch who you're calling 'cheater'. I'll kick your ass in the competition just like last time.”
“You seem pretty sure of yourself. What makes you think that you can beat me? I went to a special class for coordinators.”
“If you guys stop bickering and listen up, I'll tell you something that might come in handy,” a third voice said. The speaker was Fantina, who was adding finishing touches to her Drifblim's costume. Jasmine and Cristin were momentarily distracted from their bickering, and turned to the Gym leader.
“Well, what is it?” Cristin demanded.
“In the second round, the dancing competition, they're gonna do it a little differently. You know how they usually just play random music to dance to? This time, the trainer will have to sing their own rap, and the pokémon will have do an improvised dance to it. The more rhyming words you use, the better your score.”
“How do you know that?” Jasmine looked at Fantina through squinting eyes. “I don't believe you.”
“Me neither! Liar!” Cristin joined in with a twisted smile.
“Wait, I believe you Fantina,” a soft voice said. All three contestants turned to the fourth occupant of the room who, until that moment, had dressed her pokémon in silence. Her Buneary now stood at her side, wearing a pair of sunglasses and a false diamond necklace.
“And where do you think you're going with that disaster?” Cristin mocked. The contempt in her voice made Buneary flinch behind her trainer's leg.
“My pokémon is not a disaster!” Rachael said, her face red.
“Did you honestly think you were going to win with those accessories! Look at my Roselia! It's gorgeous!” Cristin continued.
Rachael was preparing for a reply, but then a loud buzzer cut her off.
“Tiiiiime's up! All contestants report to the wings immediately for the first round!”
“But that was barely enough time!” Rachael protested, though nobody replied. The contestants gathered their things and rushed to the stage as fast as their heels would allow them.
The velvet curtain rose once more, revealing the smiling face of the announcer. “All right thanks for your patience! The first round, is about to get under way! I present to you now the first contestant! Cristin Parmer enters with her pokémon - Roselia!”
The announcer hurried off stage just as Cristin entered, waving and blowing kisses. Her Roselia walked lazily by her side, having left its fake smile backstage. Cristin shoved the pokémon with her ankle, and the Roselia immediately began to skip in place, wearing a grin as big as the stage itself. The gesture was missed by the audience, who continued to scream in admiration. The judges sat at their table, writing furiously and tallying scores.
“And now, Cristin will give her performance for round two!”
Cristin nodded once to the speakers, her eyes gleaming. She stepped over to the single microphone and began to rap. Her lyrics were poor, and were clearly thrown together at the last minute.
“Hello Hearthome, my name's Cristin! I'm the only winner in this competition, cuz I've raised all my pokémon to their max condition! Yeah! I'm funny, outgoing, and capable of blowing away the competition! My dress is beautiful and my hair is amazing! My pokémon's got style, and you'll be staring at us for a long while! Cuz we're the best and the others just can't make it! The rest! In tomorrow's newspaper you'll see my face in an article! I won the contest, just cuz I'm smar...ticle! I'm the girl that's gonna rock your world!” The beat from the speakers continued even when Cristin paused. Her Roselia danced its best, waving its rose petals like pom-poms. The audience clapped along to her rap. Finally, after exactly one minute, she was called off the stage.
“Thank you Cristin, for the cleverly invented words... but you get fifteen points minus for rhyming 'girl' with 'world', like fifty thousand others have done. And now for our next contestant! Jasmine enters with Rusty!” the cheering continued as Jasmine took the stage with confident strides. The same beat came on the speakers, and her Steelix began to rock back and forth.
“My name's Jasmine and I'm taking Hearthome by storm! Sit back, relax, and watch your world transform... as I perform! We're a team and we're way above the norm because we're Jasmine and my homie Rust! You see us leave the others in the dust cuz they can't rap and rhyme in time! They sing like mimes, their dance is a crime! You see my Steelix donned in the accessories your mama would never let you buy! Yeah, we'll take home the trophy and win the ribbon, maybe just maybe. Winning is something you've gotta be born to do, baby!” Her Steelix was doing twists and spins on the ground, amazing the audience with its perfect balance. Another minute passed, and Jasmine left the stage with a final “Yeah!”.
“And now for our third contestant! Fantina!”
The Gym leader arrived with her Drifblim floating beside her. She smiled quickly, then lifted the microphone off of the stand and into her hands. The audience clapped along to the beat, their eyes watching Drifblim's airborne dance.
“My name's Fantina and I'm telling you to turn up the beat. Listen up and don't leave your seat! My pokémon is elite and incomplete without the beat and the will to compete. We won't be facing defeat cuz we're number one and our style's impossible to repeat! We'll turn up the heat! My dress is purple, but it'll make you enviously green. Who else to win but your home Gym team? We rule the world, money galore. We fly like the Elite Four. J'adore! Fantina!” Fantina blew a kiss, then left the stage. Her voluminous hair bounced with the rhythm of her footsteps.
“Finally our fourth contestant!” The audience quieted down. “Rachael takes the stage with Buneary!”
Rachael came out of the wings and into a silent room. Her Buneary trailed behind the skirt of her dress, its head lowered just like its trainer's. For a moment, Rachael stood silently in front of the microphone. The clock over her head ticked down the time remaining, but no one seemed to be paying any attention to it. When Rachael finally lifted her head, she looked directly at the audience with hateful eyes.
“Contests... oh how I loathe. Backstage you hustle, running after the pokémon you are to clothe. The others don't help. 'I want to win too!' they yelp. They enter the stage with fake smiles and forced laughs, scoring points they don't deserve. All they want is to receive that stupid, shallow ribbon... and be loved by all those who observe. Those who lose slip on their own tears. I know how it feels to just disappear... into the wings. Why do I persevere? My goals are nowhere near... 'Keep trying', says Mom. But she doesn't know the hate I feel for this place. The sacred Contest Hall is a house of empty promises, home to all those who want to receive that stupid, shallow ribbon... It tells me 'have a go at it'. I wonder how long it will be before I finally say... 'I quit'?”
Without another word, Rachael left the stage. The audience remained dead silent, whispering and murmuring. A few people made “Awwww” noises and even stood to clap. The judges, Jordan and Kiera, both put a hand on their hearts, and slowly wrote down their scores.
“And finally, let's move on to the acting competition! Contestants will each perform one move for the judges! Let's see some enthusiasm! Let's appeal!”
The audience, broken out of the silent trance, stood to scream as Cristin Parmer once again basked in the light of the spotlight.
“This one's for you, Hearthome! Roselia, use Petal Dance!” Cristin raised a fist into the air with a noble authority. But her pokémon remained where it was.
“Uh... Roselia? Hellooo? Are you listening to me?” Cristin hissed, keeping her voice as low as she could. Her Roselia did not respond, but crossed its thin arms and walked offstage, in full view of the audience. Cristin's jaw was hanging open.
“Roselia... you – little – freak! GET BACK HERE!” Cristin's words came out slow and forced, as if the girl didn't believe her own words. The audience began to boo, which only added to her humiliation. Before long, she was stomping around the stage, scratching the shiny floor with her heels.
“This is SO not cool!” she groaned, and ran off into the wings. A very confused announcer entered the stage, holding the microphone with both hands.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen... I'm not quite sure what to make of this. It appears that a pokémon has voluntarily left the stage. I'm afraid I'll have to disqualify Cristin Parmer.”
A loud “NOOOOOOOOO!” sounded from the wings, but the announcer did his best to ignore it. “Our next performance will be from Jasmine. Give it up for Rusty!” The audience clapped uncertainly as Jasmine entered the stage.
“All right Rusty, use Metal Sound!” At once, the enormous Steelix let out a hair-raising cry. It was a combination of nails against blackboard and groaning metal. Kiera and Jordan covered their ears with their palms, faces contorted. The audience screamed and booed, some people rising to leave. Jasmine's smile fell; obviously this was not the effect she had desired.
“Enough!” she cried over her pokémon, her hands flailing in the air. Finally, Rusty stopped. It looked around, confused at everyone's reaction.
“...I give it a zero.” Jordan said weakly.
“Agreed,” Kiera managed through gritted teeth. “Next.”
Jasmine was in shock. “B-but I never got disqualified before! I...”
When Fantina arrived, the audience exploded with relieved applause. Finally, a performer worth seeing. As they reached center stage, Fantina nodded to her Drifblim.
“All right, Floony. Use Ominous Wind! That'll blow the judges away! No pun intended.”
Floony let out a soft grunt, indicating that it had understood. From nowhere at all, a sudden gust began to blow through the building. It started out soft at first, then intensified into such a strong wind that it was difficult to remain seated. The folding table where the judges were seated was slowly sliding towards the edge of the stage. Unable to stop it, the horror-stricken judges watched as the table flew off the stage, surrounded by a flurry of papers.
Fantina groaned. “No, Floony! You weren't supposed to literally blow the judges away! Oh, you're hopeless! Pathetic balloon!”
The judges gasped, as did the audience. “Well, we expected better from our own! Fantina, you get a zero from me,” said Jordan.
“Me too!” Kiera added. “That's no way to treat a hardworking pokémon!”
Fantina swore loudly, and exited the stage. “No good judges... wouldn't know talent if it hit them in the face...” she continued to murmur until she was well into the wings.
The announcer sighed, his voice drained of all excitement. “Well, that leaves one last contestant. Rachael.”
Rachael looked a little happier when she entered the stage. Buneary had lifted its gaze, and was now staring at everyone with wide brown eyes.
“Bunbun?” it looked nervously at its trainer.
“Buneary, use Thunderpunch!” Rachael ordered.
Immediately, Buneary sprang a few meters into the air, its tiny hand curled into a fist. As it was brought down, a current of electricity formed a few inches away from it. The sparks pulsed and twisted around Buneary's arm. Rachael's eyes widened with excitement, but immediately sank back into dismay when Buneary collided with the floor, sparks vanishing into thin air.
“What was that?” Kiera blurted. “I'm sorry, but that was pathetic. Zero. ” Jordan nodded in agreement.
“Zero from me too,” she said.
Buneary sprang back up on its two legs, eyeing the judges with a look that plainly stated: “Well, I had to punch something!”
The announcer sighed, and waved Rachael off the stage with a bony arm. “All right, now it's time to declare the winner! All contestants, please step onto stage. Except for those who are disqualified.”
Fantina, Rachael, and Jasmine all entered the stage at the same time, their expressions placid. Their pokémon stood solidly by their side, eyes focused on the two judges.
“We'll start with Fantina's evaluation,” said Jordan. “Since our reviews were blown offstage, I'll have to just state it plainly - that was the worst performance I've ever seen. Your rap was atrocious and some parts were impossible to understand. Stick to battling, because contests are definitely not your calling. Dresses and heels do not make the contestant. Goodbye.”
Fantina was visibly appalled. Completely speechless, she backed into the wings. The auditorium was silent.
“Now moving on to Jasmine's evaluation,” said Kiera. “Girl, you gotta stop it with the confidence. Everyone's sick of you winning and your crooked smile makes me want to strangle myself. Your rap was hideous and would give modern music a good name. You're a pompous brat, and so is your pokémon. Goodbye.”
Jasmine groaned, and was shooed off the stage.
“And now for Rachael's evaluation,” Jordan and Kiera said together. “You have shown tenacity, discipline, and a great taste in music! So we give your performance an eight. Your score was beaten by Cristin, but since she is disqualified, you win!”
Rachael sank to her knees in disbelief, tears rolling down her cheeks. Her face turned tomato red as she was handed a cheap-looking blue ribbon. The pin was rusty, and the fabric was worn. Yet, she held it like a bar of gold.
“YES!” she declared openly, and handed the ribbon to a giddy Buneary. Then, she skipped over to the microphone.
“YES! I WON!” her voice was ten times as loud over the speakers, and the stage shook with the force of the sound. “After so many months of trying I finally won! No more begging for me! Nope! I got a ribbon! I got a ribbon! Yes! YES! Haha! Rachael is no longer a loser! No longer a loser! Do you see this? Ribbon! Yes! That's right! All you suckers who made fun of me are in trouble now! DO YOU SEE THIS RIBBON? Haha! I got a ribbon, finally! All I want to say now is... Jasmine you are ugly, and your style sucks! I regret the first day I met you in a contest! I regret shaking hands with you and formally introducing myself! Fantina, I beat you in a Gym battle AND I beat you in a contest! How awesome is that? Haha! Ribbon! Mine! See? SEE? I am no longer the poor little regular girl, no, no, Rachael has blossomed into a truce champion! All of Sinnoh will quake with fear when they see me on stage! Do you see my ribbon? Do you really see it? Too bad! Cuz you can't have it! Ribbon... mine... lalala... I love contests! Woo!” Rachael screamed all of this into the microphone. Her eyes were closed, evidently in a daydream. When she opened them, she saw a silent building.
“Relax, it's just the Free-For-Alls,” someone said.
Another day at the Contest Hall ends.