I have this image in my head now of an older Kuiora sitting at a campfire telling young Pokemon her stories now.I could have come up with many of my own myths once upon a time, but after what I had seen, the idea was doubtful. What would be my myth to explain the differences among human language and pokémon language? What would be my myth to explain the origin of the gym challenge? …What would be my myth to explain the entirety of Sai’s life? What if I tried to explain it in a single sentence? Would I ever be able to tell his story with a straight face? I imagine that following the story would come an indeterminable wince because I was a part of it. I was real. I was there. I was there when he jumped. I was there when he survived and tried to get better.
Wow, this is pretty depressing. I wonder if it was meant to be that way, but the obvious loss of innocence on Kuiora's part just gets to me.I look at my body sometimes and connect with Sai’s feelings the most when I wonder if my life has been real. I remember how much smaller I used to be. My fangs used to be much less powerful, less pronounced. I couldn’t release as much water, then, either. As a totodile, I was young and silly. My goals had nothing to do with the team or with my trainer; I only thought of myself. Not anymore. I look at Gracie, too, the newest friend on the team. Gracie reminds me of the cyndaquil I used to know, the cyndaquil Sai could have picked. What if he hadn’t picked me? Would I have ever come this far? If only Professor Elm could see me now…
I know, now, that death is real. It was right in front of me the entire time and I didn’t even know it. I’m sorry, Ezrem, for having told you otherwise. I’m also sorry to the gods above. This was my punishment that I deserved. Most of all, I’m sorry to Sai, because I stopped believing in him when he needed it most. I overcompensated wholeheartedly on the roof of the building, but to this day I don’t know if it was enough.
What myth could I use to explain the phenomenon that is death? What about death among the living? That’s what Sai thought he was. He thought he was dead. In the cells, he wasn’t living at all. He was patiently waiting for something better. He was patiently waiting… for me. I wasn’t trying to please the legendaries anymore. I was trying to please him. How am I doing, Sai? How am I doing? I look at my strong body sometimes and wonder.
Leaves me wondering if Sai could have been helped more had they known earlier...Love is a fairly funny thing. The way that it can tear apart and repair itself so seamlessly is astounding. When Sai was falling, his name flowed through my mouth like water, because he had been waiting for someone to acknowledge his true self for a long, long time. And I could easily give away my love in carefully wrapped pouches, filled with songs and food and bits of life too precious to abandon. I am not saying that I do not love you now, Sai, my team—but if I had known about your sorrow all this time, I would have loved you hard enough to take your heart and make it start anew.
So it goes, I suppose.
Somehow it doesn't shock me Ezrem would say this.The gym gave off an air of invincible determination. On both sides of our team lay clusters of shining crystals. When we first opened the door to the gym (which took some effort, given that it was made of steel), the crystals glimmered in the sunlight and temporarily blinded us. Sai mentioned briefly about how there could be a trap, but his paranoia was soon settled when we saw the interior of the building. There was no one and nothing around besides us, the crystals, and statues of a long snake pokémon protruding from the top of the walls. The statues hung above us, connecting in such a way that it made us feel as if we were walking under an arch.
“All the pairs of steelix statues look like they’re kissing,” Ezrem commented, flying up to them to get a closer look.
It's such a relief to see a Gym that doesn't have horrible tension attached to it for a change. Maybe Sai can begin turning things around here.“Are they touching?” Senori asked.
“How adorable,” Gracie said. “This looks like a steel-type gym, then.”
“And I bet you anything that the gym leader is a girl,” I commented, nudging the only other female on the team.
It turned out that I was right. We heard footsteps resounding through the room and we became quiet. A young woman approached, her hands clasped together and held over her heart. She was wearing a white dress that went down to her knees and two orange ball-shaped clips in her brown hair. Her smile was soft and her voice tender as she said, “Welcome to the Olivine City gym. Can I help you?”
“Oh… Well, we were just admiring the decorations… but I would like a gym battle, if that’s all right with you.” Sai added swiftly, “Or we can come back later if you want.”
She shook her head. “No, you’re fine. My name is Jasmine, and I would love to have a gym battle with you.”
“Really?” Sai said, rubbing the back of his head. “I guess we’re lucky… I didn’t make an appointment or anything…”
Well then, that was a surprise. Ezrem, is there something you aren't telling us?“No need. Follow me,” she said, motioning for us to come. We listened, and as we walked, I noticed that the girl was walking barefoot on the cold ground below. Were her feet used to the slick ground beneath us? Such was the toughness of a steel-type gym leader, though otherwise, she didn’t look the part.
When we reached the back wall of the gym, we stopped seeing steelix statues and crystals. The emptiness of this part indicated that it was battlefield. The rest of us quit walking, but Ezrem kept flying right past us and almost ended up crashing into Jasmine.
“Sorry. I was busy thinking,” Ezrem said, though I could tell he was lying. He just had that sarcastic edge in his voice that I was accustomed to. Who knew if even gym leaders could understand pokémon, anyway?
Jasmine only giggled, and he flew back toward us. More specifically, he flew back to me and passed by me. As he passed by me, I could feel his face turn toward me and I could feel his beak brush against my cheek.
“W-What was that?” I said, rubbing my cheek in case he had left a mark. I looked at my claws, however, and saw nothing.
“A good luck kiss… tap… thing,” Ezrem stammered. “Yes, I stole a kiss from you. For good luck. I know he’ll ask you to battle.”
And yet there's still plenty of innocence to be had. I love her.“What…?” I mumbled as he flew behind the rest of us. I turned and wondered at that phrase he had given me. Why was it called stealing a kiss when he had freely given it to me? Was he stealing anything from me? Was he stealing my concentration on the battle? What a jerk. But I hadn’t retreated from the move, so it didn’t seem like thievery. It seemed like he was only cheating the world from time itself—we could be battling but instead he was doing weird antics, as usual. This was the kiss we didn’t have time for, yet indulged in anyway.
I like this. Sai is showing Atis a new level of respect by speaking to him as an equal and asking him for advice, and that's something that's refreshing to see.“Stupid bird,” I said, stepping forward. “I will battle and not be distracted by your stupidity.”
“You want to battle, then, Kuiora?” Sai asked, apparently not having noticed Ezrem’s actions.
“Yes, I will.”
“Wait,” Sai interrupted. “Atis, I have a question for you.”
“Y-Yes…?” the shy pokémon asked, fiddling with his fingers.
“Is Kuiora a good type match up for Jasmine? I mean, I sent Senori out against some ghost-type pokémon while you were gone, and that was pretty awful, so, yeah… I’m asking you.”
...can I just say how much credit I think you deserve for this? You're actually giving every Pokemon its own distinct personality and leaving time open for them to shine. I wish I could do that.“Oh. Is that all? Well, if Jasmine uses her steelix, Kuiora should be just fine. Steelix is part ground-type, which is perfect for her water-type moves,” Atis explained, nodding.
“Sounds good. Otherwise I would’ve tried Gracie, so she could show off her skills if she wanted,” Sai said.
“Gracie would be a good choice, too, but she has a disadvantage…”
“Ground-types are just as scary as water-types,” Gracie said. “I can let Kuiora fight.”
“I totally agree,” Rennio said, appearing behind the fire-type. “Though I think all pokémon are scary, so I’m not sure how much my opinion counts…”
Well, that got serious fast. It's good to have a little introspection, too.Ezrem scoffed, Gracie glared at him, and I knew that she felt she belonged on this team already. We all belonged on this team for some reason or another. Senori was obviously the leader who guided us all. Atis was as human as any of us would ever be, and therefore he could relate best to Sai’s odd ways and help him out when needed. Rennio was the baby we all needed to protect; he gave us purpose. Ezrem was a gentle reminder of how cruel and sweet the world could be at the same time. And Gracie could now be the pokémon who saw right through everyone, through their flaws and strengths, and she could accept them anyway and be our friend.
Again, I wondered. Where was my place? Was I the strongest? No, that was probably Atis, even if he didn’t show any of his power. I was the baby, once, but I had been replaced. It’s not like I would have enjoyed that title, anyway. So where was I? Perhaps I was an extreme member of the group. I was always extremely eager, extremely angry, extremely worried, but rarely somewhere in between. Perhaps it wasn’t about where I was in the team, but rather it was about how the others complemented me. They kept me balanced. And that’s why I wanted to fight for them still, even now. I wanted to make it up to them and make them proud. Not to mention how Ezrem apparently had high expectations for me so suddenly.
Did Jasmine understand Atis, or did she merely pick up on what he meant?I stepped forward onto the battlefield to do what I had to do.
“Your hitmontop is very smart,” Jasmine said, revealing a red and white pokeball in her hand. “I will be using my steelix. Did the statues give it away?” She giggled, and I thought she was going to thrust the pokéball forward, but she only pressed the button in the middle to enlarge it. She moved her hand forward slightly and the ball burst open, blinding me with the bright light that followed.
Good move showing Kuiora observing her surroundings.True to her word, a live figure of a steelix emerged from the light. The long, silvery, shining snake-like figure definitely was beating me in terms of height and weight already. Its head was massive though the head mostly consisted of its jaw alone, and its long rock body trailed behind it, only interrupted by steel spikes protruding occasionally from its sides. I thought that the pokémon was going to tower through the roof of the building, but I supposed Jasmine had the large gym built this way for a reason. Upon further inspection, I could see that the steelix’s tail had a sharp point; I made a note to watch out for it.
Yeah, I really think Jasmine can understand Atis. Either that, or she's very, very good at reading him.I stood there, waiting for the battle to begin and vaguely wondering if Sai was going to try to give commands for once. I looked back at him and saw him looking at Atis in anticipation.
“I’ll help you,” Atis said, “but we’ve got to be quick.”
“I won’t wait just for you to come up with strategies to beat me,” Jasmine said, pointing at us with one of her hands. “I will make the first move. Steelix, headbutt!”
Well this turned bad fast. I guess Sai has a lot to learn about fully working with his Pokemon yet.Before any of us could even react, the steelix let out a ferocious, low battle growl as it brought the front half of its body backward. It lunged forward and time seemed to stop. For as long as the rock snake was, it shouldn’t have taken long at all for it to crash into me. Nevertheless, it seemed to be moving in slow motion, and even I was moving in slow motion as I tried to turn to Sai for a command. The pokémon and the trainer, however, were busy discussing other tactics.
“You should have Kuiora use her water-type moves, yes. Physical attacks won’t do much, no matter how powerful she is…” Atis blathered on, making sure the boy was listening.
Sai seems pretty out of it. I wonder what's going on...“Tch,” I said, moving my head back. “So much for counting on my trainer.” I didn’t want to count on just myself. I wanted to count on the entire team, mostly Sai. I wanted him to feel reliable and valid as a human being for once. He wasn’t, however, doing a good job right now.
The steelix was still rushing toward me. It was a simple attack, and simple attacks called for simple countermeasures. I pushed off the ground with my feet and flew out of the way from the steelix’s fearful jaws.
“Sai, pay attention!” I cried when I landed, my hands automatically showing attitude by placing themselves at my hips.
“Sorry,” Sai mumbled. I could barely hear him. “I thought it was just common sense to dodge.”
I almost wonder if Kuiora may end up resenting Atis should this keep happening. I mean, Sai is her trainer, not Atis.“A little support could never hurt…” Atis said, defending me.
Something feels off about Sai in this chapter, though I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I suppose it's understandable, though, considering this is his first Gym battle liberated from the constraints of Team Rocket's experiment.“Hmm. If you command me even for dodging, you’ll really feel like you’re in control of the whole battle. And that’s what you want, right?”
“If that would make me more of a proper trainer, then yes.”
“Better do it, then,” I said, shaking my head.
Sai sighed, probably thinking about how he still had so much to learn. He was lucky, at least, that I knew what to do in case he was having trouble. Still, I got what I was looking for: a command. “Use water gun!” he shouted.
I figured Kuiora was being a bit overconfident. Now the question that remains is how she will overcome this.I snickered at the poor steelix in front of me. Surely it would succumb rather quickly to my water gun attack. I held my breath, feeling the water swish and accumulate inside of me and up toward my mouth. The steelix stood there, looking unfazed. I frowned. I would show him that he couldn’t just underestimate me and get away with it. I drew my head back and then thrust it forward, releasing my water gun attack at the same time. A hefty stream of water shot out directly at the steelix. I grinned, thinking he couldn’t avoid it. There simply just wasn’t enough room on the battlefield. At the last minute, much like how I had moved at the last minute, the steelix raised its tail in front of its face and slammed it down through the water, dispersing it in all directions. The pokémon’s face still looked unfazed.
“My steelix may not be able to move around a lot,” Jasmine said confidently, “but his tail can absorb any damage you throw at it. You won’t be able to beat him so easily.”
I'm not sure I'd call that "trying" entirely, but it is admittedly better than how Sai was acting earlier in the battle. Although I wonder how Kuiora plans to get through the defenses of a defensively-oriented Pokemon.“We’ll see about that,” Sai said. “Kuiora, figure out a way to use your water gun attack effectively!”
“That’s not a command…” Atis said, exasperated.
I laughed out of sheer happiness over the fact that he was at least trying. If simply trying was going to make Sai feel better, then it was going to make me feel better too. And besides, it seemed relatively simple to obey him. I had to get the steelix’s defense out of the picture, and then I should be fine.
Oh, that was a great move. Kuoira really earned that confidence here.Atis had said not to use physical attacks, but… what if I tried to use a physical and a special attack at the same time?
I'm kind of surprised Kuiora was able to swat away Steelix's tail with her own, considering how much bigger and heavier Steelix's tail is.I prepared another water gun attack. When I thrust my head backward, I also prepared to leap from the ground, hoping that the steelix didn’t notice. I had to prepare now, though, or I’d never make it. I had to be fast or I wouldn’t make it.
As expected, the steelix lifted up its tail when I released my water gun attack again. What the steelix wasn’t ready for was how I propelled myself off the ground to dive straight at his tail. I hid myself underneath my water gun so it would take longer for him to see. And as I hoped for, I was faster than the water gun attack itself. When the steelix saw me, he looked surprised, but he had nowhere to go. I reached the long steely snake and swat his tail away with my own, and then fell down to the floor to make way for the real attack.
I have to admit, I'm a little surprised at just how formidable Steelix's defense is. I expected strong physical defense, but that Water Gun did far less than I had ever thought.The steelix was hit by the full force of the water gun, and it struggled not to topple over. By the time the water dissipated, it finally looked like I had made a dent, but not enough damage had been dealt. I scowled.
“Didn’t you say this thing was a ground-type?”
“Y-Yes, I did… It must have high defense skills…” Atis stuttered.
“As the sixth gym leader in the gym circuit, I will not go easy on you or ask my steelix to be weaker than it actually is. Will you be able to overcome his defense?” Jasmine said. Even though I had pointed out how she didn’t look like a steel-type gym leader, she was certainly starting to act like one. Her previously shy demeanor must have been a façade.
You're depicting Jasmine quite well, by the way.
This isn't a problem in your narrative, because the circumstance of Sai doing the Gyms out of order makes sense for your story, but I feel I should point out that this is why having a set order of Gym Leaders like in the games isn't always the best idea for most fics. You're using it correctly because it fits into your context.And suddenly, it made sense for me to be having so much trouble. We only had three badges. Well, we only really had one if you considered how Senori lost two of them. If Jasmine was the sixth gym leader, then that meant we had messed up in our route and we weren’t meant to be here. There was so many other things on our minds that we never really considered that we were doing the gym challenge, of all things, wrong.
Tail Whip is an attack that always confounds me when it comes to description, because it actually does no damage. Realistically, of course, it would. Iron Tail might have been a better choice for this scene if only because it provides easier clarity.We had also taken on stronger opponents—Marty and Sai’s mother—but those battles had taken place in desperate situations. This was not life or death, loss or gain… If we lost, then it would temporarily break Sai’s pride, but it wouldn’t break our team. If we won, then at most we’d have something to look fondly back on. Was this a slightly more important loss or gain situation, after all? Surely, there had to be something to gain from all of this… Of course, I was aiming to win, but the outcome looked bleak now.
“Steelix, use tail whip,” Jasmine said harshly.
One hit from that rock hard tail and I would’ve been done for. I simply wasn’t strong enough. Despite all of my efforts, my training had only done so much for me. My current body could only do so much for me. Was it time to evolve? I had felt the urge to change for some time now, but I never found the right time to do so. The situation called for attention on Sai, not me. But I was the center of this show, now, and I could do whatever I wanted. Could I evolve right here, right now? If only Sai could see me then…
The steelix stood as tall as it possibly could in this crowded gym, and then it lunged at me yet again, this time with full force. The steel-type was eager to get this over with, it seemed, or he wanted to prove that his trainer’s words were true. Either way, he was coming at me, and he was coming at me fast. I knew that this time, at the last minute, he would fling his tail at me and wipe me out.
“Kuiora, dodge it!” Sai said. “It’ll hurt you!”
I like that Kuiora is evaluating for herself whether or not she wants to evolve. That's effectively showing her development.
This character development is just excellent, no other way to describe it. You're showing Kuiora literally going over a large number of important points in her time with Sai and using that knowledge to develop her own decision. This is amazingly well handled even by the standards of a human character, let alone a Pokemon, who rarely receive such extensive development.Ah, there it was, the command I wanted earlier. Thank you, Sai. You never cease to amaze me… but this time, I don’t want to move. I want to show you how strong I really am and I want to show you that I do indeed belong on this team. If I have to do evolve to do that, then I will. But what was this hesitation I was feeling? If I was going to evolve, I had to do it now to give me enough time to react.
I remembered the time I had evolved from a totodile. I had been in the middle of punching Sai as punishment for not acknowledging me. I had been frustrated and desperate and sad and wanting too much attention for my own good. I didn’t want much of that anymore. I wanted to be stronger not for myself, but for him. If it would always be a fault of mine, then so be it. Needless to say, though, evolving didn’t leave many good memories for me. At the time, Sai punching me had been a grand moment, but now it was just a reminder of how naďve I used to be. Similarly, I didn’t want to evolve now, then lose, and have that failure hanging over my head, too…
Besides, being a croconaw had offered me some of the best moments in my life. I remembered the look on Sai’s face when the whole team decided to stay with him after the battle with Marty. I remembered meeting Ezrem and Rennio and worshipping the former as a legendary pokémon. I remembered traipsing around Goldenrod City thanks to Atis. I remembered gym battles and regular battles and times of silence during traveling.
I remembered some of the worst times, too, like Ezrem getting hurt, Rennio crying, Sai jumping… but those situations had made me stronger. They made me realize my mistakes. As a croconaw, I was as mentally strong as I perhaps would ever be. Even if I wasn’t physically strong now, I could work on that to become as fit as I could possibly be. Did I want to ruin that? Did I want to ruin the form that permanently made me into who I am today? I didn’t want to if I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to. I just had to fend off the steelix’s attack and find a way to defeat him. And again, if I lost, the loss could be fixed…
Very intense, even if I don't fully understand Kuiora's logic yet...I stayed in my position, ignoring the pleas from my trainer, Atis, eventually the rest of the team. Even Ezrem seemed worried. Don’t you know me by now, Ezrem? Then again, I thought I knew you, but I didn’t. Perhaps we can get to know each other better a bit more after this, because I’m not going to get wiped out here.
The steelix raised its tail, getting ever so closer now. There was no time to move even if I wanted to. I tried digging my feet into the ground below me, but it was metallic and made it difficult to do so. I put my arms in front of me, indicating that I would be protecting myself.
But nothing could have prepared me for the impact that hit me. It literally swept me off the ground by several inches, making it impossible to stop the move with force. The only thing I could do was grab the steelix’s cold, cold tail and hold onto it for dear life, which was what I wanted from the beginning anyway. I closed my eyes and waited for the next inevitable impact.
It took my breath away.
The only consolation was that the tip of the tail was not as sharp as I originally thought. It was rather blunt, but it still packed a punch. It threw me back into the wall and searing pain soared through my back and then, slowly, throughout the rest of my body. The wall, though it appeared to made of strong material, had been largely dented. The red scales lined on my back had also been embedded into the metal. It took all of my strength to keep holding on to the steelix’s tail as he pulled it forward to be kind and let me drop to the floor in agony.
The whole steelix species must have monotone faces, because this steelix’s face still hadn’t budged an inch from when I first saw it. Even when he noticed my tight grasp, his face didn’t change. I could tell he had noticed and was angry, however, when he started flailing his tail in various directions to get me to let go. I wasn’t going to let go, not with the cold metal emanating on my skin and into my blood…
“Kuiora, what are you doing? Just let go!” Sai yelled.
“Keep going, Steelix,” I heard Jasmine add.
...wow, I never saw a tactic using Ice Fang like that coming. That was well planned out both by Kuiora in-universe and you as the writer.I tried looking at him out of the corner of my eye. He seemed nervous, as he was pacing back and forth. Was he crying? His voice sounded like he might be, but I was never sure with that boy. At the very least, he was worried. Any good trainer would be in this situation. I would have to make him forgive me later…
Crash into the floor, crash into the ceiling, another crash into the floor and I was starting to feel the effects. Sooner or later I would have to give in and let go. I was waiting for my chance, but I was starting to think it would never come. I decided to act now.
I felt cold. Cold enough to do what I wanted to do. I could normally perform this attack by myself, but it wasn’t an attack I had practiced often. It wasn’t as effective if I wasn’t cold enough, either. With the steelix’s cold, metallic body pressed against my skin, I felt like ice. I felt invincible.
I opened my jaws, charging my teeth with ice energy. My mouth felt like it would freeze, but I would just have to deal with it for now. When I felt that the attached had charged enough, I waited for the steelix to stop moving so quickly. He swung his tail downward one more time, and I dared myself not to look at the ground lest I should lose the energy in my teeth out of fear. The pain threatened to take my power away, too, but it was just a risk I had to take.
When the steelix was moving its tail slowly upward once more, I took advantage of this. I bit the steel-type’s tail as hard as I could. Finally, finally, the steelix showed some kind of emotion as it yelped out in pain and started flailing its tail yet again. This time, I was more than eager to let go. I dropped down to the ground, barely able to land on my two feet and stay standing.
Now all I could do was hope.
Like I said, I could’ve performed this attack without taking so much risk. But with my body being so much colder, it provided a much higher chance of the steelix’s tail freezing upon impact. And that’s exactly what happened. Icicles formed and hung from the entirety of the steelix’s tail, embracing it and holding the rock form in place. Even when the steelix tried to swish its tail around, he couldn’t quite do it as vigorously as he could before. The ice just wasn’t going to break—it had come from a croconaw’s mouth, after all.
Shouldn't Kuiora have activated her Torrent ability by being so weakened, as well? That should contribute to her being able to defeat Steelix.“Wow,” Sai said, gaping. “That was quite the plan. I wish I had thought of it. …Kuiora… your job isn’t done yet, though, is it?”
“Use water gun.”
“Steelix, try to defend yourself!” Jasmine cried, realizing the trouble she was in.
With the strength I had left, I shot out several streams of water, one after another, directly at the steelix’s face. The steelix had trouble lifting its tail, but eventually he was able to cover his face with it and dodge one of the streams, but by then he had taken a considerable amount of damage. I stopped the attack, surveying my work. The steelix was breathing heavily and was having trouble keeping its tail up. Even if I didn’t attack for the next several moments, he was having his own internal battle.
Ah, Ezrem, ever so innocent despite trying to seem otherwise.Jasmine seemed to realize this as she said, “Enough. My steelix is at a loss.”
“Really? I mean, it could keep going if it really wanted to…” Sai said, surprised.
“Sai… Gym leader’s call…” Atis said, tugging at his pants to get his attention.
“Your hitmontop is right. Any trainer should know when to call out their pokémon,” Jasmine said, recalling the hurt steelix to its pokéball. As the pokémon dematerialized in a red light, I saw it look at me one last time with the most emotion I’d ever seen from it, seemingly unaccustomed to losing as it silently thanked me for a worthy match.
“Oh… Do you think I should have pulled Kuiora out there?”
“No. She had a plan and you would have ruined it. I, on the other hand… did not have a plan. Steelix’s tail is its ultimate weapon. Without it, he’s in trouble. We’re still working on it.”
“A gym leader has a weakness? I never would have guessed,” Ezrem chimed in.
Wait, so Jasmine can understand the Pokemon when they speak?“Don’t we all? Sai’s is his inability to command his pokémon. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a pokémon try to lead a gym battle before…”
“…Nevertheless, your croconaw has impressed me greatly. You did something right. And that’s why you’ve earned this mineral badge,” Jasmine said, extending her hand and opening her palm to reveal a small, shining, octagonal-shaped object.
I'd love to dive into Sai's psyche here a bit. Did he decide to do this Gym to exercise his freedom or for some other reason? Will he ever reconsider not doing the others?“Thank you,” Sai said quietly as he took the badge and grasped it in his own palm.
“Anything for a worthy challenger. Will you be heading to the next gym, then?”
“No… This was meant to be our last gym challenge,” Sai admitted, looking down.
“Oh, is that so?” Jasmine said, suddenly frowning.
“Yes. We were thinking about staying in Olivine for a while.”
I wish I could give more specific comments on specific lines here, but I just want to say how great I find the way they all interact. They truly go well together.“Is that so?” Jasmine said again. “Well, I hope to see you around sometime. For now, I need to go heal Steelix.”
“Of course. See you around…”
She smiled and with that, she turned and left, waving us goodbye as she walked in the direction of the door.
As soon as she left, Ezrem had something to say.
“You know, Kuiora, there are three levels of stupid,” Ezrem said to me as we left the gym. I had hardly been able to walk after the pain I had gone through so he was letting me fly on his back to the pokémon center. “There’s the kind of stupid you do without thinking; there’s the kind of stupid that bites you in hindsight; and there’s the kind of stupid where you know it’s stupid and you decide to do it anyway. That move right there? That was a little bit of each one.”
“What are you talking about?” Gracie intervened. “That was a smart and inventive attack.”
“Yeah, let’s see you beat that giant snake with just those wings and that annoying beak of yours,” Senori quipped.
“As Senori has implied… Ezrem is just jealous that he’s part normal-type,” Rennio said, shaking his head.
“Wait… What’s wrong with normal-types?” Senori asked.
“What? O-Oh… That’s not what I meant… I meant that they just wouldn’t be good against giant steel-types like that.”
“I guess that’s true… Fine, I’ll accept it,” Senori said, bumping the elekid on the shoulder playfully. “Ezrem won’t accept it, though.”
“Please, guys,” I said weakly. “Don’t fight over me, okay?”
“Don’t worry… I’m a humble pokémon, really. I’m actually much greater than I think I am.”
“Why don’t we talk about something worth talking about?” Rennio said. “Like what we’re going to do now.”
“We’re staying in Olivine City, obviously,” I said quickly.
“We are?” Sai said. He was walking alongside us, occasionally looking at me and asking me if I was all right. “We didn’t even have enough money to buy a shack for two nights.”
“If you didn’t spend money recklessly… we’d be just fine,” the furret commented. I swore I saw him wink at Sai.
“It’s not like we’d have to travel any longer, either,” Gracie added.
“Plus, I like the water. And we have a connection already.” I said.
“A connection?” Sai said.
“Oh… Maybe. Is that really what we all want?”
“It seems like it,” Rennio said.
“We just want you to be happy, Sai,” Senori said softly, almost to the point where we couldn’t hear him
“Come on. Water, no traveling, money from gym battle, the actual gym badge, Jasmine. We’ve got it all. I bet she’d help you out since you beat her.”
“Must you put it so bluntly, Kuiora?” Ezrem said.
“Be nice to me. I just won a gym battle for you.”
“Ezrem is always nice to you,” Sai pointed out. “Anyway, if that’s what everyone wants… then that’s what everyone gets.”
Hmm, I'm not sure if this as an ending affected me in the way you wanted it to, because I'm not really getting much of an impact from it. Although, maybe going for something understated was your intention.The conversation continued, but I stopped listening. I had gotten the answer I wanted, and now I couldn’t stop thinking about Sai’s words. He had already chosen a home, and so quickly too! Would he really be happy here? It would just be up to us to make his experience as easy and as pleasing as possible. This would be our last step in having him separate from his old home, his old memories… There was nothing better we could ask for. Yes, Senori, I want him to be happy too, and I think he will be.
And he had noticed how Ezrem was being nice. Had he also noticed that I was close to evolving? What would he have done if he was in my shoes? What would he say if he knew? This boy gave me endless questions, but I could deal with no answers.
Still, I had to ask. I broke into whatever conversation they were having and said, “Sai, what would you think of me as a feraligatr?”
“A feraligatr? I don’t even know what a feraligatr is.”
“Oh. Right,” I said dumbly.
Of course. Sai probably didn’t even know I could evolve one more time; he probably hadn’t been waiting for anything. He kept me on the team for being whatever I was, whether it be a totodile, a croconaw, or… He would probably accept me if I were any other species. Even a species that kept the team unbalanced and gave us more weaknesses… like another normal-type. He didn’t care. That was just the kind of trainer he was. His world lay within the unknown and he displayed that uncertainty through words, questions. My world simply lurked in between the spaces of his words, waiting to be discovered.
I really liked this chapter. While it was much less urgent than any previous one, it still had plenty of action. However, the real shining star here is the character development, which was just handled in such a perfect way that I wish I could do it the same way.