Derak frowned, remembering the Eevee that Elliot had caught in Celadon Mansion. The evolved Espeon tilted its head to the side, awaiting its opponent’s first choice of Pokemon.
“All right, then,” Derak said as he enlarged a Pokeball. “Echo, let’s go!”
“I see,” Sabrina said quietly as Echo appeared on the field, spreading its wings wide and sticking out its tongue. “There is more to this Golbat than basic types would suggest. Espeon, use Future Sight.”
Espeon’s eyes began to glow a bright blue as it stood up, tail quivering as it straightened like a rod. The Sun Pokemon began to hum as the glow in its eyes became brighter, and as the glow grew, so did the volume of Espeon’s hum. Finally, the hum reached maximum volume and the glow in Espeon’s eyes became blinding…
…and then both the hum and the glow disappeared. Nothing happened.
“…uh, what?” Derak blinked. “You’re kidding, right? There can’t be an attack that does nothing. There has to be a catch.”
“There is,” Sabrina nodded. “Some time from now, perhaps even after Espeon has fainted, that attack will return and strike whatever Pokemon you have out at the time.”
“Oh, great. Guess there’s no avoiding it,” Derak sighed. “Let’s try to make this quick, Echo. Shadow Ball!”
Echo quickly spat a wad of darkness out of its enormous mouth, but Espeon tensed its muscles and projected a yellow cube of light around itself. The Shadow Ball struck the cube, and while Espeon was knocked back by the force of the impact, the Psychic-type got up seconds later as the cube vanished.
“That Light Screen will not last forever,” Sabrina pointed out, “but as long as it is in play, all damage from ranged attacks is weakened.”
Which means the one move Echo has that works well against Psychic-types isn’t as effective as it should be,
Derak thought with a grimace. And we can’t stall it out with Double Team because Future Sight will come back and hit Echo.
Echo glanced worriedly at Derak, evidently recognizing the situation as well.
“Well…it’s risky, but we’ll have to go up close and personal,” Derak said. “Zen Headbutt!”
Echo complied, generating a dome of blue light from its ears as it shot towards Espeon. The feline dodged with a nimble leap, however, and quickly retaliated by firing a bolt of rainbow lightning from the gem on its forehead.
“Double Team, quick!”
Following Derak’s order, Echo multiplied itself once more, causing Espeon’s Psybeam to pierce one of the illusion duplicates. Sabrina only frowned slightly at this development.
“Swift,” she said flatly.
Espeon’s gem was once again the source of an attack, this time releasing a storm of golden stars that tore through most of the duplicate Golbats. As the last of the visible copies of Echo vanished, however, the real one was nowhere to be seen. Sabrina’s Haunter looked confused, putting a hand above its eyes as it looked around for the Bat Pokemon, but the Gym Leader herself maintained a neutral expression.
“Psybeam again,” Sabrina ordered, closing her eyes. “Straight up.”
“Crap,” Derak grimaced. “Echo, fight back with Sludge Bomb!”
As Espeon’s rainbow lightning shot towards the ceiling, Echo—having been hanging upside-down, wings wrapped around its body, in the spot to which the Psybeam was now headed—unfolded its wings and spat a large sphere of slime directly at the incoming Psybeam. The two attacks collided, causing an explosion that blew smoke throughout the arena.
“Now!” Derak cried. “Hit it with your best Shadow Ball!”
Sabrina narrowed her eyes, as did her Espeon. As the smoke began to clear, both saw Echo standing close to Derak as a rather large Shadow Ball formed in front of its colossal mouth, the attack growing rather close to the Golbat’s actual size. The Gym Leader’s eyes widened as she realized the futility in destroying this Shadow Ball, a realization that—as evidenced by the Sun Pokemon’s widening eyes—also struck her Espeon.
Eventually, the Shadow Ball fired. Espeon planted its feet and stood its ground, its Light Screen returning to shield it. Unfortunately, this massive Shadow Ball proved too much for the Light Screen, and the barrier eventually faded away. With no more protection, Espeon was helplessly tossed aside by the impact of the Shadow Ball, rendering it unconscious within moments.
“Espeon!” Sabrina gasped. She then closed her eyes as a Pokeball levitated beside her and recalled her fallen Psychic-type. “That was…an impressive Shadow Ball. Fortune must certainly have been on your side, as well, given how Espeon’s Light Screen wore off seconds before the attack struck.”
“Had to get lucky sometime, I guess,” Derak shrugged. Echo snickered, remembering some of their rather unlucky moments.
“Yes,” Sabrina nodded. “But fortune is not everything in a Pokemon battle…as you should know if you reached my Gym to begin with.”
Another Pokeball levitated beside her, this time releasing her second Pokemon. A rather strange looking Pokemon took Sabrina’s side of the field, resembling a small human-like creature with a round pink-and-white body and two patches of blue hair protruding from the sides of its head. Its hands appeared to be white gloves, each bearing a pink circle on its fingertips, and its feet appeared to be pointed blue shoes.
“Mr. Mime,” said Derak’s Pokedex, “the Barrier Pokemon. Type is Psychic and Fairy. Evolved form of Mime Jr. Mr. Mime is a master of pantomime. Its gestures and motions convince watchers that something invisible actually exists. Once the watchers are convinced, the invisible object becomes real.”
“Fairy?” Derak repeated, trying to ignore the rather disturbing implications of Mr. Mime’s unique ability. “Never heard of that one.”
“Nor had I, until recently,” Sabrina said. “Fairy-types are a new type of Pokemon discovered in the distant Kalos region. That discovery seemed to awaken Fairy-type properties in Pokemon that had once been only a single type…such as my Mr. Mime.”
“Mime!” the Fairy-type nodded, opening its hands and aiming its palms in front of it as if pressing them against something.
“Okay…I think we can manage,” Derak said. “Right, Echo?”
Echo nodded, spreading its wings wide, but its body was suddenly covered in a blue aura. The aura soon intensified, and before a confused Echo could react, an explosion of blue energy blasted it off of the battlefield and into the wall beside Derak.
“Echo!” Derak cried as he rushed to his Golbat’s aid, only to find it fainted. Sabrina’s Haunter, floating at the sidelines, covered its wide mouth with both hands in an attempt to hide a snicker.
“That,” Sabrina said, “would be Espeon’s Future Sight.”
“Great,” Derak sighed as he recalled Echo. “Figures that good luck wouldn’t last very long. All right…Wildfire, let’s go!”
“So…you have returned to the field, little Chimchar,” Sabrina remarked upon seeing Wildfire again. “And with an Everstone, as well. Let us see if that aids you.”
She looked to Mr. Mime for a moment, and the Fairy-type nodded as it put its hands together. Its eyes began to glow blue before it spread its arms wide, releasing a wave of psychic energy towards Wildfire.
“Quick, use Protect!” Derak cried.
Wildfire’s green bubble shielded it from the Psywave, the energy coursing over the bubble and dissipating. Sabrina narrowed her eyes.
“I see,” she said. “Mr. Mime.”
The human-like Pokemon nodded again, then formed a ball of bright purple energy between its hands. Mr. Mime then thrust its palms forward, casting the ball towards Wildfire. Once the sphere made contact with the fire monkey, Wildfire’s eyes glazed over and it began to stumble aimlessly about the arena.
“Uh…what’s going on?!” Derak asked, failing to keep a tinge of panic out of his voice. “What did you do to him?!”
“That move was Confuse Ray,” Sabrina answered. “It causes the target Pokemon to enter a confused state. When confused, a Pokemon’s moves may strike itself rather than its opponent.”
Derak grimaced, eyes glancing over to Wildfire. The Chimchar had prepared a Thunderpunch of its own accord, and swung its electrified fist around wildly. Its trainer’s grimace grew.
“Can’t do much of anything right now,” Derak sighed, holding up his starter’s orange Pokeball. “Come on back, Wildfire.”
“Your Chimchar will recover,” Sabrina pointed out. “The next time it will be sent out, the confusion will have worn off. But first…you must choose another Pokemon.”
“I know,” Derak said. He held up Strike’s Safari Ball and remembered the last time the Scyther was used in a Gym battle, where it behaved without regard for either its surroundings or the opposing Pokemon’s life. Derak knew, however, what his only other option was. “Strike…let’s go!”
The Scyther appeared on the field, immediately scowling at its opponent. Mr. Mime recoiled a bit, already disturbed by its opponent’s demeanor. Sabrina, however, only raised an eyebrow.
“Your Scyther is…not in the best of health,” she said. Strike rolled its eyes. “Are you certain that you wish for it to battle?”
“Well…he’s about the only other Pokemon I’ve got that can fight right now,” Derak shrugged.
“I see,” Sabrina said. Her gaze became more intense. “Tell me…how would you fare if you were pushed into battle despite having broken legs?”
One of Strike’s eyes twitched. It knew what direction she was heading in, and it growled at the thought.
“Look, I think I can guess what you’re thinking—”
“Can you really?” the Gym Leader interrupted. “My Pokemon and I share a psychic connection. What one feels, the other feels as well. If one of us laughs, so will the other. If one of us suffers…so will the other. By forcing your Scyther to fight, you inflict pain to both of you.”
“Hey, you can ask him yourself if he wants to fight or not,” Derak protested. “You’re the one who can read minds.”
“It is the trainer’s responsibility to see to the safety of the Pokemon under his or her ownership, regardless of their feelings on the matter,” Sabrina scowled. She then finally rose from her throne. “Until further notice, I will be postponing this battle—”
With fury in its eyes, Strike charged past Mr. Mime and towards Sabrina. Though she initially gasped at the sight, the Gym Leader quickly composed herself and held out her arms.
“Strike, no!” Derak yelled, fumbling for his Scyther’s Safari Ball.
Strike’s blade swung for Sabrina, but stopped in mid-air, becoming surrounded by an aura similar to that of a Psychic attack. Despite the Scyther’s best efforts, Sabrina’s telekinesis brought its blade back down to its side.
“Hmm…I will say one thing for your Scyther,” Sabrina said. “It is quite determined.”
Strike snarled at the condescension in her tone, and glanced behind itself at its bandaged wings. The Bug-type spat at the ground and clenched its jaw. It turned its gaze upon Sabrina, and with as much hate in its eyes as it could muster, Strike made its choice.
One of its wings twitched.
“Strike, was that…are you nuts?!” Derak cried. “Your wings are still hurt!”
Strike ignored him as it continued twitching its wings. Sabrina looked on, her face radiating almost as much shock as Derak’s. That was what the Scyther wanted. No one was going to pity it, or underestimate it, and get away with it. Strike gritted its teeth as it began to sweat, pouring as much effort as it could into the movement of its wings.
Finally, the casts began to rip. Strike smirked at the sound, then made one final push. The casts continued to tear and tumble as two gossamer wings emerged from within.
“Scy…THER!” Strike yelled, and silver energy enveloped its wings as they burst free, forcing away what little was left of its casts. Its metallic wings glowed brightly for a moment, then faded away as normal insect wings took their place.
“I…wow,” Derak breathed. “That’s…I don’t know how you did that, Strike, but I...that’s really cool.”
“Haun-ter,” Sabrina’s Haunter nodded.
Strike flitted its wings a bit, giving them a test after their period of inactivity. It smirked; its wings seemed to be just fine now.
“Well…if you are so determined,” Sabrina said as she returned to her throne, “then the battle shall continue. Are you both ready?”
Derak looked to Strike as the Scyther came back to his side of the field.
“You’re definitely ready to go all out?” he asked.
“Scyyy,” Strike nodded. It flitted its wings again. It had waited a long time for this.
“Okay…let’s do this,” Derak said. “Strike, use X-Scissor!”
Strike crossed its blades and crouched for a moment, and in a sudden surge of speed, it was right in front of Sabrina’s Mr. Mime. Pausing only to give the startled Fairy-type a sneer, Strike slashed the opposing Pokemon’s chest in an X-shaped pattern. Mr. Mime tumbled back, but quickly flipped back to its feet.
“If you will go all out, then so will we,” Sabrina said. “Mr. Mime, Thunderbolt!”
“Crap!” Derak winced. “Strike, can you dodge it?”
Strike narrowed its eyes as Mr. Mime’s hands became charged with electricity. A bolt of lightning soon erupted from one of the psychic fairy’s palms, but in a blur of movement, Strike was no longer in the place where the attack was aimed.
“Since we can use your wings now…hit it with Steel Wing!” Derak cried.
Strike shot into the air, then quickly dive-bombed Mr. Mime, its wings glowing silver once again. The Barrier Pokemon ducked in fright as Strike’s attack grazed its back, looking up in time to see the Scyther coming back for another run. Mr. Mime prepared another Thunderbolt, but Strike was upon it before the electrical attack could be released. Mr. Mime tumbled across the ground again, this time with a rather wide bruise on its chest.
“Such speed and skill…and so soon after regaining the use of its wings,” Sabrina gasped. “I see now that I was wrong…this is no ordinary Scyther.”
“No kidding,” Derak smirked. “Ready to wrap this up, Strike?”
Strike landed back on Derak’s side of the field and gave him a nod.
“We have few options left,” Sabrina grimaced. “Mr. Mime!”
Sabrina’s Pokemon nodded, then formed another Confuse Ray between its hands.
“Oh, no, you don’t!” Derak cried. “Strike, nail him with Quick Attack before that goes off!”
In a rush of wind, Strike was barreling towards Mr. Mime at blinding speed. Sabrina’s eyes went wide.
“Barrier, quickly!” she cried.
Mr. Mime’s Confuse Ray dissipated as it held out its hands, forming what seemed to be a wall of glass in front of it. It expected Strike to slam head-first into the Barrier like a bird into a window, but instead, a bladed arm sliced through the shield. Strike smirked as it held its arms out, then delivered one last X-Scissor to Mr. Mime’s chest. With that, the Fairy-type fell to the ground, finally fainted.
“Whew,” Derak sighed. “Nice work, Strike.”
“Scy,” Strike replied, but kept its glare focused on Sabrina.
“Nice work indeed,” the Gym Leader admitted. “As I said before, Derak Kadir, you and your Pokemon have completely surpassed my expectations. But…I trust you know what is coming next.”
Derak tensed; he most certainly did know. Sabrina levitated one last Pokeball, and out came her Alakazam. The fox-like creature narrowed its eyes at Strike, its two spoons bending slightly already.
“There it is,” Derak remarked. He looked to his Scyther. “Want to keep going? I mean, this kind of is your show now.”
“Okay, go in for X-Scissor!” Derak cried.
“Hold it down, Alakazam!” Sabrina yelled.
Before Strike could move, the Psi Pokemon held out its spoons and radiated the familiar aura of its Psychic attack. An aura soon surrounded Strike, and the Scyther soon found its body becoming incredibly heavy. As much as the Bug-type growled and struggled, it could not move.
“Ugh…hang on, try a Silver Wind!” Derak cried.
Strike stopped focusing its effort on moving its limbs and instead tried only to move its wings. Alakazam’s mental grip on its wings was not as strong—likely due to its trainer’s attempt at mercy, Strike guessed—and as a result the Scyther was able to whip up a colorful wind that sprayed towards Alakazam. Sabrina’s chief Psychic-type winced as it was pushed back, releasing Strike from the Psychic attack.
“All right,” said Derak. “Now, go for Quick Attack before it can do that again!”
Strike blazed into the fray once again, but this time, Sabrina did not flinch. Alakazam simply put its spoons together, forming a small ball of electricity, and waited. Just when Strike came near, the electrical sphere exploded into a beam of lightning that rammed directly into Strike’s chest. The Scyther cried out in pain as the lightning rippled through its body, forcing it down to one knee.
“Strike, no!” Derak cried. Alakazam scowled at the Bug-type, electricity still crackling over the Psi Pokemon’s body.
“Finish this, Alakazam,” Sabrina ordered. “And quickly.”
The fox nodded, creating a Shadow Ball between its spoons. Strike was back on its feet, but before it could attack again, Alakazam’s Shadow Ball slammed into its stomach and knocked it to the floor. The Scyther had finally passed out, its rampage ended at last.
“Well…you did your best, Strike,” Derak said as he recalled his Scyther. He held up Wildfire’s orange Pokeball once more. This was it. “Here goes…come on back out, Wildfire!”
The Chimchar took the field once more, its confusion gone. It swallowed hard, however, upon realizing that its opponent was Sabrina’s Alakazam.
“Hey, we can do this, pal,” Derak said. “We can do it.”
Wildfire closed its eyes for a moment, then opened them. It nodded.
“If you are ready, we shall take the first move,” Sabrina said. “Charge Beam.”
“Dodge it and use Flame Wheel!”
Alakazam formed the electrical ball once more, but Wildfire leapt out of the attack’s reach before performing its trademark flaming somersault. Its target, however, simply sighed and held up one spoon. Another Psychic surrounded Wildfire, holding it in the air.
“Aw, crap…what do we…uh, try and shake it off with Protect!” Derak sputtered.
Rather than struggle outward against the Psychic, Wildfire folded its arms inward and allowed the green bubble to generate around it. The Protect promptly pushed the Psychic aura away, allowing Wildfire to fall back to the ground unharmed.
“Well done,” Sabrina nodded. “Still…I should warn you that every time Alakazam uses Charge Beam, it has a chance of increasing the power of all its ranged attacks by using leftover electricity.”
Derak grimaced, remembering what happened after the Psi Pokemon used Charge Beam on Strike. The electricity remaining on its body had given its future attacks a boost.
“With that in mind…go,” Sabrina said to her Pokemon. Alakazam put its spoons together for another Charge Beam.
It gets stronger every time it uses that? Great,
Derak thought bitterly. Hang on…if it uses that specific electricity to power itself up…oh boy.
“Okay…Wildfire?” Derak began. “This is probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever asked you to do…but I need you to go in for Thunder Punch!”
“Char!” Wildfire cried without a second’s hesitation as it rushed forth, one fist crackling with electricity. Sabrina narrowed her eyes.
“Even though I hear your thoughts…I have no idea what you are trying to do,” she said.
“Honestly? Me neither,” Derak pointed out.
“Then we shall see what comes of this,” Sabrina said. “Fire!”
Alakazam let its Charge Beam go, allowing the lightning to race towards Wildfire.
“Now!” Derak cried. “Use Thunder Punch to push through it!”
Wildfire did as it was told, putting its electrified fist forward and allowing it to take the brunt of the charge beam. The two sources of lightning collided at first, and Wildfire held one arm with the other to prevent giving in. Eventually, however, the Charge Beam and the Thunder Punch became one as the energies combined into one large electrical fist.
“That’s…incredible,” Sabrina gasped. Alakazam was similarly speechless, even as Wildfire came forward and slammed its newly-empowered fist into the Psi Pokemon’s body. The yellow fox was instantly floored, electricity crackling over its body.
“Is…that it?” Derak blinked.
Sabrina closed her eyes.
“No,” she said simply.
Alakazam suddenly vanished in a flash of light. Wildfire began looking around wildly in an attempt to find its missing foe, only for the Psychic-type to reappear behind it. A Psychic attack formed around Wildfire once more, lifting the Fire-type into the air again.
“Your blow was indeed powerful,” Sabrina said, “but Alakazam still has strength to spare.”
“Great,” Derak grimaced. “Wildfire, use Protect to get out again!”
Before Wildfire could form the shield, however, it was unceremoniously slammed into the ground. Immediately afterward, the Chimchar was rocketed up towards the ceiling, slamming into that as well. Sabrina’s normally-jovial Haunter gulped, no longer finding these events amusing.
“As a Gym Leader, it is my duty to test all trainers to the fullest,” Sabrina said as Alakazam continued to bounce Wildfire around the room. “You seem to care for your Chimchar very much…are you willing to forfeit this match to prevent it from being badly injured?”
“And how exactly is this fair?” Derak growled.
“Make your decision,” Sabrina said. “Time is running out.”
Alakazam slammed Wildfire into the floor again to prove its trainer’s point. It prepared to lift the Chimchar once more, but stopped when it noticed something strange. A crimson aura began to burn around Wildfire’s body. In its confusion, Alakazam accidentally released the Psychic aura, allowing Wildfire to stand up.
“Blaze,” Sabrina identified, noticing Derak’s confused stare. “That ability only activates when a Fire-type starter Pokemon’s endurance is low. It boosts the strength of the user’s Fire-type attacks…but I doubt that moves such as Ember or Flame Wheel will do much good.”
Wildfire rose to its feet with a valiant shout, its Blaze aura burning brightly. It began to growl angrily at its opponent…and so did its trainer.
“You want to fight dirty, huh?” Derak sneered. Haunter recoiled slightly at the hatred in his voice. “Yeah, I’m sure ‘doing your job’ perfectly justifies hurting my friend. Let’s go, Wildfire!”
Wildfire clenched its fists and gritted its teeth. Alakazam held out its spoons and attempted to create another Psychic around its opponent, but the Chimchar’s mouth suddenly opened wide.
And a massive stream of flame shot out.
Alakazam’s eyes went wide as it redirected its Psychic, trying to divert the fire away from itself and its trainer. Haunter let out a panicked cry as it quickly floated towards the ceiling near Sabrina’s throne.
“It’s learned Flamethrower,” Sabrina gasped. “Because its evolution was held off for so long, that Chimchar was able to learn that attack earlier than its evolutions would have.”
“In case your ears have stopped working, ‘that Chimchar’ has a name,” Derak snarled. “Wildfire, use Flame Wheel!”
With a flame of greater intensity than before, Wildfire entered its burning somersault again and charged towards Alakazam. As with previous attempts of this kind, however, a Psychic quickly stopped the fire monkey.
“Is that it?” Sabrina asked.
“Not yet,” Derak said. “Flamethrower!”
With Alakazam’s focus already on holding Wildfire in place, it was unable to generate another means of protecting itself. Its body was quickly awash with flames, and in moments, the Psi Pokemon was lying on the ground. Its body was partially burnt, but most importantly, it was unconscious.
Derak breathed heavily for a moment, as did Wildfire. Haunter tentatively came back down.
“Okay?!” Derak yelled. “Are we done here?!”
“Yes…yes we are,” Sabrina said quietly. “In spite of every distasteful tactic I used…you have prevailed.”
Derak let out a long sigh as he sat down. Once Wildfire stopped panting, it looked worriedly at the Alakazam it once fought. Had it already become a brutal monster like Spire’s Infernape?
But Alakazam gave it a smile as Sabrina recalled it. And after a moment of consideration, Wildfire returned the smile.
“I must say, Derak Kadir…you are a very unusual trainer,” Sabrina said as she approached Derak, Haunter floating by her side. “That does seem to work in your favor, however. And…I apologize for pushing you as far as I did. My duty is to test trainers in every aspect, not just strength.”
“Whatever,” Derak grunted as he stood up. Sabrina frowned, but held out a small badge that seemed to be formed from two golden circles, one within the other.
“Here is your proof of my defeat,” she said. “The Marsh Badge.”
“Okay…first the Soul Badge for a Poison-type Gym, then the Marsh Badge for a Psychic-type Gym?” Derak blinked as he took the badge and placed it in his badge case. “Where do you people come up with these names?”
Haunter snickered somewhat. Even Sabrina smiled slightly.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to ask the makers of the Pokemon League that question,” she said. “You have two badges to go until you reach that point. The next of those is on the distant Cinnabar Island. I wish you the best of luck.”
Derak shrugged as he stuffed his badge case back into his pocket and left. Sabrina closed her eyes and smiled.
“A trainer with such a talent in battle…yet who believes that winning is not everything, even at so young an age,” she mused. “You may go farther than you believe, Derak Kadir, if you allow yourself.”