Argh! So sorry for taking so long to post this. I got delayed by finals and stuff. Well, here's my contest entry, and I hope you like it.
”Rules of the Game”
A One-shot for Serebii’s Tall Tales contest
Part One: The Story
A large, white cruise ship sailed smoothly across the calm blue ocean, a fairly large flock of Wingull circling ahead. In the distance stood a large green continent, which contained a bustling city at its sea level. Although it was January, the weather was fair, the sun bright and the sky blue with a few wispy clouds here and there.
As the ship drew closer to the land, two boys approached the front of its deck. One of them, who was about ten years old, wore a blue-and-white T-shirt, light blue jeans, and a red-and-white cap – the same outfit he had worn when he received his partner Pikachu, who was perched happily on his shoulder. The second boy appeared to be older, around fifteen years old. His outfit looked quite formal compared with the ten-year-old boy’s: if it weren’t for his slightly crooked light orange tie, he would have looked flawlessly professional thanks to his completely unwrinkled white collared shirt and formal blue pants.
“Pika Pika! Pikachu!” the little yellow Electric-type Pokémon exclaimed from his trainer’s shoulder, excitedly pointing at the lush green land ahead, which was growing bigger by the second.
“That’s right, Pikachu,” Ash Ketchum, the ten-year-old boy, said happily as he petted his longtime friend on the head. “After about two weeks of cruising, we’re finally here – the Ubulou Region.”
“I still can’t believe that there was a whole new region on the opposite side of the Pokémon World – and we never knew about it!” Cheren Li, the older boy, murmured. He put his hand on his chin, like he always did whenever he felt like thinking out loud. “I’m definitely looking forward to training some new Pokémon and experimenting with their moves. I don’t know what kinds of Pokémon live here, but I hope I can catch some strong ones for my team. Maybe some physical and special sweepers, or a bulky tank, or something to set up Spikes or Stealth Rock…”
“Cheren, I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but I’m glad you’re looking forward to traveling in the Ubulou Region,” Ash said, laughing. “All I want to do is catch some Pokémon, get some badges, and just have a good time. Who knows, if I’m lucky I might even win the Pokémon League. I got second place in the Unova League, so my chances of placing first are pretty high.”
“Very true,” Cheren said, nodding. He turned to Ash, whom he had met at the aforementioned competition. “To be honest, Ash, you really impressed me back at the league. At first I wasn’t sure if your battle style was effective, but you proved me wrong. Second place is no small feat, considering that you’re almost five years younger than me.” He adjusted his tie, feeling quite proud. “I still won, but it was a very close and intense battle. Great job.”
“Ha-ha, thanks,” Ash said good-naturedly. “I had a shot at winning, but I guess I just came up short. We’ll try harder next time. Right, Pikachu?”
“Pika Pika!” Pikachu exclaimed happily.
Ash turned to Cheren again. “How did you win, anyways?” he asked. “You were pretty good back there. How did you get so strong?”
Cheren made one of his rare smiles. “I had planned out my team and trained them so hard just for that one moment,” he answered. “It took a lot of trial and error and experimenting, but it was definitely worth it. After spending so much time and effort getting my Pokémon’s’ movesets exactly right, I achieved my lifelong dream of becoming a skilled Trainer and winning a league. Thanks for such an awesome final battle, Ash.”
“No problem,” Ash said, smiling. “But after you became so skilled, why didn’t you challenge Champion Alder?”
“Well, I heard of this new region, and I simply had to explore it,” Cheren stated. “Think of all the amazing battle strategies I can learn here. I’m going to learn as much about Pokémon in the Ubulou Region as I possibly can, and then I’ll go back to Unova to challenge Alder.”
“That sounds like a good plan,” Ash said, smiling. He petted Pikachu on the head. “Pikachu, let’s make the most of our Ubulou Region travels, okay? We’ll catch new Pokémon, meet new people, and learn a lot of things. This is going to be so fun!”
“Pika!” Pikachu exclaimed happily, jumping up and down.
About thirty minutes later, Ash and Cheren stood inside the giant Pokémon Center of the port city. The ship had just docked, and just a few minutes earlier, Ash and Cheren had set their feet in Ubulou. Now, the two companions stood in a hallway swarming with people, each with his or her own reason for coming to this new region.
“Now what?” Ash asked, as Pikachu perched on his shoulder.
“According to that sign up there, new trainers go down that hallway,” Cheren murmured, pointing down the hallway on his left. At the end of the hallway was a pair of double doors with windows in them. The two windows looked completely dark.
“Uh, are you sure?” Ash asked. “Doesn’t look like anyone’s there.”
Cheren shrugged. “Maybe there’s a gym leader or other skilled trainer behind those doors,” he suggested. “It’s a habit of some gym leaders to appear more intimidating by darkening all the lights of their gyms. Let’s go check it out.”
Ash nodded as he and Cheren walked down the hallway and pushed open the doors. As soon as they entered the room, the lights suddenly turned on. Ash blinked in the sudden brightness, rubbing his eyes.
“Are you a wizard, Cheren?” he asked, laughing as he surveyed the room.
They were inside what appeared to be a large Pokémon stadium. The cold, gray bleachers were empty, but in front of the two trainers stretched a long, sandy battlefield. A large, computer-like machine stood in the corner, while a sleek gray robot floated at the sidelines. At the other end of the battlefield stood a man and a woman. The man wore a light gray tuxedo and had spiky black hair, while the woman wore an elegant light pink dress and had wavy dark pink hair.
“Hello there!” the woman exclaimed cheerfully. Despite her distance, Ash and Cheren could hear her very clearly. “Are you two new to the Ubulou Region?”
“That’s right,” Ash answered. “I’m Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town in Kanto.”
“And I’m Cheren Li from Nuvema Town in Unova,” Cheren stated, introducing himself.
“I’ve heard about you, Cheren,” the man declared, smiling. “Didn’t you win the Unova League a few months ago?”
“That’s right,” Cheren said, adjusting his tie. “I came in first, and Ash came in second. It was a pretty intense match, because Ash’s willpower turned out to be quite powerful.”
“Pleased to meet both of you,” the man said happily. “I’m Skarm, and my partner here is Bliss. Welcome to Sunyville City, the port city of the Ubulou Region.”
“Awesome,” Ash declared. “All right, where do I get my first badge?”
“Patience, young trainer,” Bliss said in a calm, melodious voice. “The Ubulou Region is very, very different from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Unova. Skarm and I are here to teach you all you need to know before beginning your journey.”
“Oh… okay,” Ash murmured, slightly disappointed that he couldn’t immediately begin his travels. “So, what do we need to learn?”
“First off, I need you two to answer this simple question,” Skarm answered. “Are you a Pokémon Trainer or a Pokémon Coordinator?”
“I’m a Trainer,” Cheren answered.
“So am I,” Ash declared.
“Ash, are you sure about that?” Bliss asked gently.
“Wait, what?” Ash exclaimed, confused. “Of course I’m a trainer. My buddy Pikachu and I have been through six regions and six leagues, plus I’ve earned plenty of Frontier Symbols as well.”
Bliss sighed. “I’m not sure how to say this without hurting your feelings,” she said softly. “Ash, Cheren, can you come here for a second?”
Ash and Cheren nodded as they walked across the battlefield and stood before Skarm and Bliss.
Bliss examined Pikachu and shook her head. “Listen, Ash,” she said, gently but firmly. “As I said before, the Ubulou Region is very different from the rest of the Pokémon World. In short, Trainers here are very… competitive. They spend a lot of time choosing the right Pokémon for their team. A lot of factors are considered, including power, defense, speed, abilities, and how well they synchronize with the rest of the Pokémon in the team. And, to be honest, Ash… Pikachu is in the Never Used tier.”
“What do you mean?” Ash asked defensively. “What are tiers? You don’t mean that I can’t use Pikachu in battles, right?”
“Pika, pika!” Pikachu shouted, just as angry as his trainer.
“She doesn’t mean that,” Skarm answered. “You are perfectly allowed to battle using your Pikachu. Only… most trainers choose Pokémon such as Bagon and Diglett, which evolve into powerful beasts like Salamence and Dugtrio.”
“That doesn’t bother me,” Ash declared. “Pikachu helped me win so many important battles before. He’s even won against Legendary Pokémon.”
“Pika!” Pikachu exclaimed proudly.
Bliss sighed. “That’s entirely possible in other regions,” she murmured, “but trainer battles in the Ubulou Region contain many restrictions.”
“Restrictions?” Ash asked.
“I think you will understand better through a battle,” Skarm declared. He gestured at the computer-like machine at the corner. “You can use that machine to summon any of your Pokémon, if you wish. Choose your most powerful Pokémon, and we’ll have a one-on-one battle to show you what Ubulou Region trainer battles are like.”
“Wait a minute,” Cheren suddenly spoke up. “Skarm, can we have a double battle, with Ash and I against you and Bliss, with each trainer using one Pokémon? I would also like to get an idea of what Ubulou Trainer battles are like. This will be an interesting, new experience.”
“It’s fine with me,” Skarm said, nodding. “How about you, Bliss?”
“Well, double battles are rather rare in Ubulou,” Bliss stated, “But for the purposes of training, of course it’s fine.” She gestured at the large machine. “Go to that machine and get your most powerful Pokémon. Ash, you go do the same if you want to. Skarm and I’s Pokémon’s’ levels will match your Pokémon’s levels.”
“Levels?” Ash asked, confused.
“Everything will be explained to you in good time,” Skarm said, winking.
“The introductory trainer double battle between Skarm and Bliss on one team and Ash and Cheren on the other team is about to begin,” the floating robot referee declared. “The Trainer Battle forcefield and standard clauses are all in place. Each trainer is allowed to use one Pokémon, and the battle is over when both Pokémon on one team have fainted. And, begin!”
“*BLEEP*, I choose you!” Ash exclaimed.
“*BLEEP*, come on out!” Cheren declared, throwing a Pokeball.
Ash frowned. Something wasn’t right here. Although he had called his Pikachu to battle, a loud beeping sound had resonated throughout the battlefield so that no one in the stadium had heard the word “Pikachu”. Due to the mysterious beeping noise, he couldn’t hear what Pokémon Cheren had called, either. Worse off, Pikachu was completely gone. Standing in front of Ash was not his partner Pokémon, but a motionless Pokeball marked with a yellow lightning bolt.
Cheren sensed something strange as well. Aside from the word “Haxorus” being beeped out, his black-and-yellow draconic Pokémon’s Pokeball hit the ground and became completely still, with no usual flash of white light.
“Hey, Skarm and Bliss, what’s the big deal?” Ash asked, angry and worried. “Why is Pikachu a Pokeball? And why isn’t Cheren’s Pokemon coming out?”
“Our Pokémon’s names were beeped out, as well,” Cheren stated. “Why is this necessary? Pokémon names aren’t even close to swear words.”
“There’s no need to be alarmed,” Bliss said, smiling. “Here in the Ubulou Region, we always make sure that both sides are equal in a battle. To make things fair, you never know what Pokémon your opponent has chosen until all the Pokémon pop out of their Pokeballs, which happens at exactly the same time. Also, you never know what action your opponent plans on taking until that action is executed. That’s why every official stadium in Ubulou is equipped with a clever automatic censor system that beeps out Pokémon names when trainers send their Pokemon out. It also beeps out attack names.”
“How is this supposed to help, though?”Ash asked. “Why is it necessary to keep Pokémon and attacks a secret until the turn starts? Back in Unova, I could hear what Pokémon a trainer is about to send out, or what attack a Pokémon is about to do. Then I could easily find a way to counter the Pokémon or attack.”
“That’s exactly what we don’t want in Ubulou,” Skarm explained. “Say I’m about to send out Jolteon. Of course, I would exclaim, ‘Jolteon, I choose you!’. But as you find out my Pokémon choice, you may realize that you have a Dugtrio and send that Pokémon out to counter Jolteon, when you were originally going to start with, say, Gyarados. Same goes with moves – if you find out that my Pokémon is about to switch out, you may cancel your original move and use Pursuit to hit my Pokémon hard.”
“By beeping out all Pokémon and attack names, we make sure that the person who calls out moves first doesn’t have a disadvantage,” Bliss stated, summing everything up.
Ash sighed, “I’m not sure if I like it,” he said frankly. “It’s just that in the other regions I’ve been to, there was no beeping during battles at all.”
“It definitely is very different,” Cheren murmured, “but I can see why people in Ubulou would ensure that nobody knows what trainers plan on doing until the move is executed. I suppose it is a good idea to make sure that everyone in a battle has the same odds of winning.”
“Exactly,” Skarm said, pulling out a dark purple device from his pocket and pointing it at the two Pokeballs on Ash and Cheren’s side of the battlefield. Ash and Cheren watched, slightly confused, as a yellow beam of light emitted from the device and slowly passed over the Pokeballs.
“These two Pokémon are both Level 50,” Skarm declared as the beam of light disappeared, “so let’s use our Level 50 team.”
“Got it,” Bliss said, nodding. She pulled out a peculiar green-and-black Pokeball that Ash and Cheren had never seen before, and threw it. “*BLEEP*, go!”
“*BLEEP*,” Skarm exclaimed, throwing a yellow-and-black Pokeball, “you’re up!”
“I still don’t think I’m used to the beeping,” Ash muttered as the two Pokeballs landed on the ground. At that very moment, all four Pokeballs popped open, and four Pokémon materialized in flashes of white light. On Ash and Cheren’s side stood Haxorus, who looked calm and collected, and Pikachu, who was more than a little irritated of being forced into a Pokeball. A large red Pokémon with shiny red armor, two fierce-looking pincers, and four white wings stood menacingly in front of Skarm. In front of Bliss stood a cubical orange Pokémon that looked a lot like a washing machine.
“Ash sent out Pikachu! Cheren sent out Haxorus!” the floating robot exclaimed. “Skarm sent out Scizor! Bliss sent out Rotom!”
“What’s that big black lump doing on Pikachu’s back?” Ash asked in shock as he scrutinized his partner Pokemon.
“Oh, that’s just the Item Pocket,” Bliss answered, “used for storing items, such as Leftovers, that usually positively affect the Pokemon holding the item. It’s something that appears automatically on all Pokemon in the Ubulou Region. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly harmless.”
“Pokemon can hold items here? This is weird,” Ash groaned, still a little uneasy.
“I’ve never seen these Pokémon before,” Cheren murmured as he studied his opponents. He pulled out his Pokedex and frowned, putting it back into his pocket. “Pokedexes never tell you the best way to fight an opponent,” he muttered, shaking his head. He turned to Ash. “Ash, do you know what the types of Scizor and Rotom are?”
“Err, Scizor is a *BLEEP*-type,” Ash answered. “And Rotom is an *BLEEP*-type.” Ash turned to Skarm and Bliss. “Oh, come on! Why are types getting beeped out as well?”
“In battles, you aren’t supposed to get any hints from anyone,” Bliss explained. “It’s the responsibility of every competitive battler to know the types of all the common Pokémon in the metagame. In Ubulou, the more knowledge you have before a battle, the better.” She turned to her Rotom. “Rotom, attack *BLEEP* with *BLEEP*!”
“Scizor, *BLEEP* attack on *BLEEP*!” Skarm commanded.
Ash sighed. “Why is everything so weird here? I hate all the beeping” he groaned. “All right, Pikachu. Try your best and use *BLEEP* on *BLEEP*.”
“Haxorus, I know we don’t know anything about Scizor and Rotom, but I want you to try your best too,” Cheren said encouragingly. “Use *BLEEP*!”
At that moment, the turn started. Because he was using a priority move, Ash’s Pikachu moved first. “Pika, pika, pika!” he exclaimed, glowing with white energy and preparing to attack.
“Pikachu used Quick Attack!” the floating robot referee declared, revealing the move.
Immediately, Pikachu, cloaked in pure white energy, lunged forward with his legendary, astonishing speed. Before anyone could react, the small Electric-type Pokémon plowed into Bliss’s Rotom with all his might. Ash smiled, expecting the attack to deal a good amount of damage. However, as the Quick Attack stopped and the white light disappeared, Rotom still stood there resolutely, completely unscathed. Confused, Pikachu returned to his side of the battlefield.
“What the –” Ash began, but before he could finish his sentence, Bliss’s Rotom began its attack.
“Rotom,” it growled as a cold white orb of energy formed between its two arms and grew larger and larger.
“Rotom used Hidden Power!” the floating robot referee exclaimed.
“HP Ice,” Cheren murmured worriedly. “Haxorus is probably the target. Haxorus, dodge it, quick!”
Haxorus made a thrashing motion, attempting to get out of the way, but the Dragon-type Pokémon seemed to be glued to the spot.
“Haxxxxx!” Haxorus cried, looking up at its trainer with eyes full of panic.
“What’s the matter?” Cheren asked. “You can’t move?”
“Hax,” Haxorus whined, shaking its head.
“Don’t worry, Haxorus. Pikachu can save you,” Ash declared. “Pikachu, help Haxorus out! Use *BLEEP* on Rotom’s attack and prevent it from hitting Haxorus!”
“Pi,” Pikachu nodded, glowing with crackling yellow electricity. But then, the light quickly subsided, and he too looked up at his trainer with eyes full of panic.
“You can’t move either?” Ash asked, shocked. “But you were all right a few moments ago!”
Pikachu shook his head.
“Something’s not right here,” Cheren murmured. Then he gasped, for Rotom had fired off its attack. All he could do was watch as the glowing white orb collided forcefully into Haxorus and exploded.
“Hax!” the draconic Pokémon screamed as cold ice shards buffeted its body. When the attack subsided, Haxorus appeared to be badly hurt.
“It’s super effective!” the robot referee exclaimed.
“I know, I know,” Cheren muttered under his breath. With some difficulty, Haxorus hauled itself up and began to spin around rapidly, crackling with blue and white energy. When the energy disappeared, Haxorus looked faster and stronger.
“Haxorus used Dragon Dance!” the robot referee declared.
“Great job, Haxorus,” Cheren complimented. As soon as the words left his mouth, Skarm’s Scizor, who until this moment had been motionlessly standing in its place, suddenly sprung into action.
“Seeeee-zor!” Scizor bellowed as it launched into the air and charged towards Pikachu, wrapped in dark black energy.
“Scizor used Pursuit!” the robot exclaimed.
“Pikachu, you can do it! Counter with Quick Attack!” Ash commanded. “You should be able to move now!”
“Pika, pika, pika!” Pikachu exclaimed, momentarily glowing with a white light. But the light quickly subsided, and Pikachu looked up at his trainer, panic once again in his dark eyes.
“You still can’t move?” Ash asked in disbelief.
Pikachu shook his head. Ash could clearly see that Pikachu was desperately trying to dart out of Scizor’s path, but the little Electric-type Pokémon seemed to be frozen in place. Ash winced, not wanting to look, as Skarm’s Scizor forcefully plowed Pikachu into the hard, cold concrete walls of the stadium. The impact was so great that it caused a large dust cloud that obscured Pikachu for a few seconds. Almost as quickly as it had landed the attack, Skarm’s Scizor darted out of the dust cloud and zipped back to its side of the battlefield.
Bracing himself, Ash slowly turned back to Pikachu. He could see that the dust had cleared – and Pikachu, his lifelong partner and most powerful Pokémon, was buried deep inside the stadium wall, badly scarred and completely unconscious.
“Pikachu fainted!” the floating robot exclaimed.
“Pikachu!” Ash exclaimed in deep concern, hardly hearing the robot referee’s statement. Quickly, he ran over to his motionless Pokémon and gently removed him from the rough indentation in the wall. Cradling the electric rodent in his arms, Ash slowly walked back to the battlefield, struggling to hold back tears.
“Knocked out in one hit,” Cheren murmured. “This shouldn’t happen.”
“Exactly,” Ash growled, glaring at Skarm and Bliss. “What is the explanation of all this? Pikachu can usually take a lot more than just one attack.”
“There’s something fishy about this battle,” Cheren observed. “Why weren’t Pikachu and Haxorus able to dodge or counter attacks? It was like… they were frozen or something.” He put his hand on his chin. “And why weren’t any of the Pokémon able to move until other Pokémon landed their attacks?”
“I’ll explain everything to you,” Bliss stated. “You see, here in Ubulou, trainer battles are very regulated. First of all, the faster Pokémon usually moves first, unless something like Trick Room is in play. The other Pokemon are forbidden from moving until it is their turn to execute their moves. Second of all, unless a priority move like Quick Attack is used, slower Pokémon are always unable to move until after the faster Pokémon have landed their attacks.”
“But how did Pikachu’s Quick Attack do so little damage?” Ash asked. “And how did Pursuit get so powerful?”
“It’s a good thing you two have so many questions,” Skarm commented. “Well, let me just say this: Pikachu’s not fully evolved, so his stats – HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed – are very low compared to the stats of fully evolved Pokémon. Rotom’s high Defense easily absorbed the low-powered Quick Attack. And about Scizor: Scizor’s Attack is very high, while Pikachu’s Defense is very low. Naturally, Pursuit knocked out Pikachu in one hit. Plus, my Scizor is holding a Choice Band, which greatly increases its Attack.”
Ash paused for a while, trying to take all that in, and sighed. “There was no such thing as ‘stats’ back in Unova. Pikachu and I could win a battle with willpower alone. Why is everything so complicated here? I don’t think I get anything.”
“It’s just that in Ubulou, everyone likes to be very, very competitive,” Bliss said frankly. She shook her head. “Ash, let’s finish this battle first. Then, both you and Cheren can decide what to do next.”
“Um… all right,” Ash stammered. He gazed down at his badly wounded Pikachu. “But what about…”
“Here,” Skarm said, taking a small, yellow, diamond-shaped crystal out of his pocket. He walked over the Ash and placed the gem on Pikachu’s wounded forehead. Almost immediately, about half of the small Electric-type’s wounds disappeared. As the wounds disappeared, the crystal glowed with a white light and disappeared as well.
“Pika…” Pikachu murmured as he stirred in Ash’s arms and smiled, feeling a lot better.
“I used a Revive,” Skarm stated, “which has an out-of-battle effect of restoring half of a fainted Pokémon’s HP. It should be enough to keep Pikachu healthy until a proper Pokémon Center visit.”
“Uh, thanks,” Ash said as Skarm returned to his side of the battlefield. Ash wasn’t sure what “HP” meant, but he was glad that Pikachu was okay. He turned to Cheren.
“I guess it’s all up to you,” Ash sighed.
“I’ll do my best,” Cheren said determinedly. “After all, it’s not about win or lose.”
Ash nodded and walked over to the sidelines as the referee robot declared the start of the second turn.
“Haxorus,” Cheren said softly, “I know this is a very different kind of battle for you, but I want you to try your best no matter what happens. Your stats have been boosted, so maybe we can score a KO. Use *BLEEP* attack on *BLEEP*!”
“Rotom, use *BLEEP*!” Bliss exclaimed.
“Scizor, use… darn it, Choice Band,” Skarm muttered. “All right then, use *BLEEP*, again!”
This time, because its speed had been boosted by Dragon Dance, Haxorus moved first. The large, black-and-yellow Pokemon bellowed loudly as its whole entire body glowed with a strong red light.
“Haxorus used Outrage!” the robot referee exclaimed.
Cheren smirked as Haxorus, cloaked in pure red energy, speedily charged towards Rotom. Bliss gasped as the attack was executed and Haxorus head-butted Rotom into the air.
“Rotom!” the machine-like Pokemon groaned as it flew through the air and smashed into the back wall. When the dust cleared, it was apparent that Rotom had fainted.
“Rotom fainted!” the floating robot declared.
“You did well,” Bliss said calmly, recalling her Pokemon. Before Cheren could congratulate his Haxorus, however, Scizor flew forward at a rapid pace, once again cloaked in dark black energy.
“Scizor used Pursuit!” the floating robot referee declared.
“Zooooooor!” Scizor bellowed, flying faster. Skarm smiled, and Haxorus thrashed around, trying desperately to get out of the way.
“Haxorus, I hate to tell you this, but that’s not going to work here,” Cheren sighed. “I think the best thing for you to do is to stand your ground. If you faint, at least you will have fainted after trying your hardest.”
The black-and-yellow Pokémon nodded in understanding and stood its ground resolutely. At that very moment, Scizor forcefully plowed Haxorus into the air. When the Dragon-type landed, it was clearly unconscious.
“Haxorus fainted!” the robot exclaimed. “The winners of this battle are Skarm and Bliss!”
“You did well, Haxorus,” Cheren sighed, holding out a Pokeball. “Now, take a good rest.”
“Well,” Bliss said as Haxorus disappeared into the capsule, “what do you two think? Are you going to travel around Ubulou as Pokémon Trainers?”
To this, Ash shook his head immediately. “No.”
“No?” Skarm echoed. “But Ash, you got second place in last year’s Unova League. I thought you had more willpower than that.”
“I do have willpower,” Ash stated firmly, “but what good is it in a place where every battle is rigged by some crazy restrictions? I give up. If Ubulou’s like this, I’m going back to Kanto. I’m not going to go on a journey in a place where I can’t even battle with my own style.”
“But you can, Ash,” Bliss said, smiling. “All you have to do is register as a Pokémon Coordinator.”
“Wait, what?” Ash asked. “Are you saying that Pokémon Coordinators here are allowed to battle the good old-fashioned way?”
“Of course,” Skarm declared. His voice became softer. “You see, not too long in Ubulou, both Trainers and Coordinators battled extremely competitively. They only used the most powerful Pokémon, leaving little room in their hearts for the weaker Pokémon. And worse yet, Pokémon weren’t treated as friends. They were treated as mere tools for becoming stronger.”
“But then came what we like to call The Power N.U.,” Bliss said, smiling. “A group of brave, pure-hearted, dedicated individuals who showed the Ubulou Region that Pokémon are our friends and that all Pokémon are special in their own way. They introduced the concept of casual battling to us. But best of all, they allowed us to keep competitive battling, as long as we recognized that Pokémon had feelings too.”
“That’s why now in Ubulou, there are two paths someone who loves Pokémon can take,” Skarm said. “He can become a Pokémon Trainer and battle competitively, the old-fashioned way, skillfully utilizing Pokémon to their full potential while treating them as friends. Or, he can become a Pokémon Coordinator, relying on free will, love, and creativity to make his Pokémon truly shine no matter how statistically strong they are.”
“We showed you a trainer battle,” Bliss concluded, “so that you two could decide whether or not trainer battles were your cup of tea. So, what do you think? Would you like to be a trainer, or a coordinator?”
“I... never thought Ubulou could be so much like home,” Ash murmured, smiling. “At first I thought trainer battles were the only battles, but now I know it’s not the case.” He turned his hat backwards and smiled. “I’m a Coordinator, then. As long as I can battle the way I’d like to battle, I’m happy.”
“And you, Cheren?” Skarm asked, noticing that he had not spoken for a while.
Cheren smiled as well and fixed his tie. “I think I would like to take a shot at becoming a Ubulou Pokémon Trainer,” he declared. “This style of battling… it’s so new and difficult to me, but at the same time, it’s so interesting. It won’t be a small feat, sure, but I know I can do it. I know I’m smart, and I know I’ll be able to figure out how to excel not only in Unova but also here.”
Skarm and Bliss smiled. “Then it’s settled,” Bliss said happily. “Ash, Cheren, the first place the two of you should go to, after the Pokémon Center, is the Trainers’ School here in Sunyville City. The staff there will get you ready for your new journey. They’re really helpful, too, so don’t be afraid to ask them any questions.”
“Got it,” Ash said, grinning broadly.
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Cheren asked, unusually excited. “Let’s go already! Skarm and Bliss, thank you for a very interesting introductory battle.”
“No problem,” Skarm said as Ash and Cheren walked back to the double doors. Before the two companions exited, however, Ash turned back to Skarm and Bliss.
“Skarm, Bliss, what were the names of the people in the group known as ‘The Power N.U.’?” he asked softly. “I’d really like to meet them.”
Bliss smiled. “Faith Redwood, a master Coordinator and talented pianist. Hope Reinhart, a spirited friend to humans and Pokémon alike. Gallant Black, a skilled competitive battler and an exceptional violinist.”
“Ernest Roberts, the fun-loving Prince of Shadowberg,” Skarm continued. “Whitlea Grayson, a kindly Normal-type specialist. And Karen Starr, a wise, elite trainer from the Johto Region who gave motivation to the aforementioned individuals.”
“Thanks,” Ash said, turning his hat back around. “I hope I’ll meet them during my travels in Ubulou.” He faced the double doors and smiled. “All right, Cheren, let’s go.”
“Goodbye, you two!” Bliss exclaimed cheerfully, waving. “Good luck on your journey!”
“Goodbye, Skarm. Goodbye, Bliss!” Ash and Cheren exclaimed, waving back at the two older trainers. And, with Pikachu on his shoulder and Cheren by his side, Ash pushed open the doors, walking into the bright hallway and taking the first steps of his Ubulou Region journey.
Part Two: The Explanation
Rules of the Game is based on the in-game battle system of every main series Pokemon game and how radically different it is from the Pokemon Anime battle system. For example, you never know which move your opponent is going to use until the move is actually executed. You can’t command your Pokemon to dodge attacks or use attacks in creative ways. Also, in the games, amount of damage done is highly regulated, Pokemon like Pikachu don’t stand a chance against fully evolved Pokemon like Scizor. Finally, winning a battle on willpower alone is impossible, as you must think and strategize. I wrote this one-shot to explore how trainers from the free Anime world would react to highly restricted in-game battles.
* This one-shot is an edited version of the one-shot I entered into the Tall Tales contest. The edits are minor – I just fixed up the whole Serperior/Haxorus confusion.
* In case any of you read The Power N.U., I’m sorry to say that I’ve decided to discontinue the fanfic. This one-shot was written to give you an idea of how the Ubulou Region changed after the events of The Power N.U.. The Power N.U. was a fanfic I wrote last year that starred the people Skarm and Bliss mentioned at the end.
* Many thanks to all my reviewers, and sorry for taking so long to get this fanfic up. Also, I would like to mention Missingno. Master, who inspired me to put the rather amusing beeping into this one-shot.
* Finally, this isn’t the end of Cheren’s adventures. I plan to write two or three more one-shots about what happened to Cheren after the events of BW, each one connected to the previous one-shot, so stay tuned. (Yeah, I know that it’s a lot of fanfic, but Cheren’s my favorite character. Let a girl have her fun. )
* Oh yeah… and there’s a reason why I made Cheren Chinese (hence the surname “Li”). The reason will be revealed in the final one-shot of the mentioned one-shot series.