Well, it was my New Year’s resolution to finally work up the nerve to post a fanfic. And look! I managed to do this well before December 31. Disclaimer: I don’t own Pokémon or the characters from it used here. Rated G since I don’t think this gets any darker than the games do in terms of content and battles.
She was easily defeated. Munna's attacks were useless against her opponent's sandile. She refused, of course, when the man before her demanded she forfeit her pokémon. Stunned from the speed of her loss, she attempted to recall her pokémon on autopilot. The poké ball did not work. In a sudden moment of clarity, she realized the sandile's embargo somehow worked on Munna's round home as well. She grasped the injured psychic-type in her arms but found herself surrounded. Her defiant glare morphed into an expression of quiet desperation as her munna was torn from her grasp. The figures dressed in medieval costumes smirked, victorious. She was weak. She had lost. This wasn’t just a gym match. In real life, weakness had consequences.
“Hey, pay attention!” The younger girl’s voice snapped Bianca out of her memory’s hold.
“S-sorry, Iris,” stuttered the blond girl. Bianca fumbled with her bag and pulled out a super potion to heal her musharna. Iris’s druddigon stretched her forelegs while she waited for her sparring partner to resume training.
“You have to stop hesitating when the battle starts to go badly,” Iris said, “and try using some good support moves instead of just attacks. Musharna’s a defensive pokémon, so she does better when she tries to outmatch her opponents’ endurance, not their power.”
“But, but you said I needed to become stronger,” Bianca protested.
“Right,” said Iris.
“So shouldn’t I focus on battle abilities like Cheren does?”
“Defensive abilities are battle abilities,” insisted Iris. “Now try again.”
"Do we really have time for this? I mean they're already –"
"Yes. If you'll actually start battling."
Bianca swallowed and clenched her fists. Impatient to get past the basics and onto real battling, she hoped to catch Iris off guard with a battle command.
“Musharna, use return!” The round purple and pink creature charged forward, floating across the arena toward Iris’s dragon. Iris slapped her palm against her forehead. The blue dragon glared at the approaching musharna, paralyzing her with her gaze. In one swift motion the druddigon’s claws glittered ominously and she struck the immobile psychic-type with her sharp talons. Musharna shook as she fell to the ground, purple smoke sputtering toward the ceiling as the creature coughed.
“Weak trainers like you are an insult to ‘your’ pokémon’s powers. We’ll liberate the poor thing for its own good,” said the triumphant Team Plasma grunt as he turned, walking away with the struggling munna in his arms. Bianca was totally helpless to stop him. She dared not risk putting her other pokémon in the same peril.
She ran, searching for a familiar, or at the very least friendly, face among the city’s cold, grey streets. She couldn't follow Munna as she was, not into the enemy's arms. She needed help. A passing man stepped aside without asking her what was wrong. A child younger than she was asked if she could help, but Bianca was too panicked to form coherent words and the young trainer left. The next street she entered was vacant. How could such a large city seem so empty? Every second she covered ground in her search for someone stronger was a second Munna was being taken farther in the other direction.
As she passed the docks, her heart jumped a few beats. Hope in human form awaited her. A boy her age with dark hair and glasses stood talking with a girl with a long brown ponytail. She darted over to her friends, gasping for breath.
“Do you see how glare stopped Musharna from moving so Druddigon could hone her claws and attack with more force?” Iris asked, patting Druddigon’s red snout. The dragon growled in satisfaction. “That’s what you need to try with Musharna’s hyp –”
“I can’t! I’m too weak. Everyone is stronger than me. Everyone.” Iris struggled to ignore the self-pity in the older girl’s voice.
“Try using Musharna’s hypnosis to stop your opponent before attacking. And maybe teach her calm mind to increase her focus,” suggested the black-haired girl.
“But attacking is –” Bianca started.
“Not Musharna’s style,” Iris finished. She rubbed her temple and looked over to Drayden for backup. The older man was talking into his Xtransceiver at the far end of the gym. His brow furrowed as he listened to the voice on the other end.
“He’s already there? Try to slow him down. Hilda just passed through here, so she should be there soon,” said the bearded man.
Hilda and Cheren. They were strong. They were the ones who went with Burgh to confront Team Plasma and return her munna to her. Bianca had tried to be strong, too. She had fought seven gym leaders, but she had only won by the skin of her teeth. Both of them already had the Legend Badge as well, while she was still here, prompted by Iris to train with her after she failed to win the badge. She would never catch up to them.
“Try again.” Iris’s voice indicated that her patience was wearing thin.
“Why? Why are you so insistent on helping me?” asked Bianca.
“Because I can’t let you stay weak.”
“But not everyone can be strong.” Bianca hugged her musharna tightly before applying a full restore to her wounds. Musharna snuggled closer to her trainer to comfort her. Iris thought through her next words.
“It is the truth that not everyone can be as strong as they want to be.” She bit her lip, considering the numerous ways her statement could be misconstrued. She decided to risk it and continued, “but it is also true that you cannot afford to be content with being weak. Even though sewaddle are generally weaker than unfezant, they will fight with all their strength to avoid being eaten because the situation demands it. This situation demands that you learn your strength as well. We will need you to be able to fight too if Alder and Hilda fail.”
“What about Cheren? He’s stronger than me,” Bianca reminded Iris. Surely the dark-haired boy would be a better person to turn to than she would be.
“Cheren . . . Cheren is struggling with understanding what strength is. He doesn’t get that it’s not about winning battles.”
Iris looked to Drayden again, hoping her mentor would know the right words to describe this to Bianca. Cheren did not understand what it would mean for N to win. Not really. He could imagine, but Bianca knew. She and her musharna knew what losing meant. Why couldn’t Bianca realize this? She didn’t want to lose her musharna again, did she? Iris tried to wrap her head around what Bianca was thinking. The blond girl had continued her journey after her Pokémon was taken. She kept going even though she lost battles and even when her father wanted her to return home to safety. That was strength. She earned all seven of her badges. Didn’t Bianca see how she was insulting the leaders by claiming any trainer could beat them? Didn’t she see that she had impressed the others?
“What? He’s already bested Grimsley and Shauntal?” Drayden swore under his breath. He lifted his voice and turned to Iris. “Two more and he faces Alder. How close is Hilda?”
“I’m not getting a signal on her Xtransceiver, so she must still be inside Victory Road,” Iris responded after checking. Drayden relayed this information to Alder and reluctantly cut off the connection.
“I’ll call the other Gym Leaders,” Bianca suggested. She dialed as she dashed to the side of the room. She had already reached Brycen’s number before Iris could reply.
Iris shook her head. Bianca needed to learn how to use her own strength in case future battles couldn’t be evaded as easily as training.
“Why are you so insistent on training her, Iris?” asked Drayden. He walked over to where Iris stood and watched the trainer in question punching in another number. “We were already planning on gathering the Gym Leaders.”
“Because she needs to learn,” said Iris.
“You can’t change another person’s nature. She isn’t a fighter. Her strength lies elsewhere.”
“I know, but . . . I can’t let her stay weak. Even with all of us gathered, we might lose.”
“Don’t be so pessimistic,” protested Drayden, chuckling softly. His expression darkened. “It’s not like adding one more trainer to our side will make a difference. If we go down, someone as inexperienced –”
“That’s not what I mean. This isn’t about winning and losing battles,” interrupted Iris. She gave an apologetic look to Drayden for cutting him off, then continued when he nodded. “I feel she needs to know how to defend herself, so she can fight to protect the friendship she has with her Pokémon on her own if we fail. This isn’t about making her a battler, it’s about – it’s about helping her defend her own bond with her Pokémon so she doesn’t lose them again.”
The two looked over to Bianca again and Iris shrugged.
“Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment,” said Iris, her voice tired. Drayden laughed.
“I think it’s that she just bugs you enough,” he said. He paused, and said more seriously, “I hope she finds her strength.”
Spoiler:- Author’s notes: