The Tamer

Chapter Eighteen – The Tamer

Dawn was announced not by a pale sky as the sun shifted darkness from the world, but the Kanto National News’s morning show reporting their breaking announcement. Ty the cameraman filmed an ill-looking Gabby who reported the death of Courtney to a populace who had already believe Giovanni to be deceased.

“The rebel group known only as the ‘Resistance’ have now killed our two most prestigious heads of state,” Gabby reported. She stood before a scene of serenity as the news attempted to express a calm and united nation. A smiling Archer shook hands behind her with Kanto’s citizens and smiles painted faces all around. “But wherever darkness threatens to ensnare Kanto, the light always prevails and so it has proved. In sacrificing their own lives against the Resistance, our beloved Giovanni and Courtney have dissolved Team Rocket in their heroic last stands,” Gabby said, which made no sense to Leaf as she watched the news.

“How?” Leaf asked and Gabby appeared to answer her question.

“Courtney tricked both Team Rocket and the Resistance to meet in the Test Centre where she more than held her own once both sides clashed with herself trapped in the middle. She sacrificed her own life as Giovanni had before her to ensure our region became a better place. Our Archer has told me this himself.”

Leaf snorted at the false words.

“Many of us believed that the Resistance and Team Rocket were as one but that has now been revealed to not be the case. Whilst Team Rocket were destroyed and forever banished from our region, the Resistance is still at large.”

Leaf gulped as she prepared for Gabby to announce her, Okaido and Samuel Oak as their members, as had been clearly planned. She noticed that Archer now turned away from the citizens and looked towards the camera as he awaited the revelation to the region.

“But our glorious mayor will continue in his post and strive to work together with the newly crowned winner of the Champion’s tournament, which is due to finish either today or tomorrow, to restabilize Kanto and crush the terrorist group known as the Resistance.”

“So he expects Lance or Silver to win it, I suppose,” Leaf muttered.

“Gabby,” Archer bellowed. “Don’t forget the big news.”

“Ah yes,” Gabby stuttered and appeared nervous. “I have been instructed to reveal to you, the people of Kanto, as to the identities of the Resistance.”

“A group of three,” Archer shouted as he walked towards the camera, wanting to be the singular face of this new regime now that Giovanni, Courtney and Team Rocket had all fallen. “A dastardly trio that have killed two esteemed members of government and tried to tear down our beloved region.”

“Would you like to do the announcement?” Gabby asked sweetly. There was a barb in her words but the mayor failed to notice it.

“No, my friend,” he replied and stepped to her side. “You are the face of the news team and many people in Kanto respect your reporting,” he said dutifully. “You reveal the identities of these awful people.

“Then I shall,” Gabby said and smiled fiendishly. “I shall now unveil to you the menace which plagues our region. Team Rocket weren’t the only barbaric villains of our lands.”

“Here we go,” Leaf said nervously and gulped.

“And many of us still wonder who lead the failed organisation of Team Rocket,” she continued and Leaf gulped once more. Then, in a move that must have shocked the nation and stunned the viewing audience into a confused rage. Gabby shoved Archer over. The mayor’s bodyguards looked as puzzled as the citizens around them and hesitated before making their way over to the grounded Archer. And this allowed Gabby to make her own announcement.

“Giovanni and Courtney led Team Rocket in secret,” she screeched and Ty backed slowly away so it would take longer for the bodyguards to reach him. “The Resistance are our only hope!” she screamed as the bodyguards grabbed her and wrestled the reported to the ground and Archer clambered to his feet. “Archer is too, he’s a member of-” she tried but her mouth was covered by a bodyguard’s hand.

“Lies!” Archer protested to the camera and Ty then turned the screen on himself.

“It’s true!” the cameraman shouted. “We are told what to report to you by them! It’s all lies!” he managed before a bodyguard grabbed him but not before the cameraman managed to smash his own piece of equipment. And the screen went black.

“I knew you hadn’t betrayed us,” Leaf said happily. Gabby and Ty had been working undercover for the Resistance for as long as they had been able to. Deflecting interest on the identities to its members and garnering information for themselves, ready to strike when the time was right. And now both Courtney and Giovanni were gone, the government’s grasp on the region’s main news outlet had weakened.

Archer would have a difficult time convincing the population that the reporters had lied, a job he would succeed in but it would take time. Enough time for Leaf and Okaido to finish the Champion’s tournament in time for Lyra’s release of Mewtwo, Leaf hoped.

Leaf made haste through Victory Road. The ancient tunnel was a maze of rocks and uneven surfaces which used to act as a trainer’s final challenge before meeting with the Elite Four. Previously, other expert trainers who wished to compete against the Champion would first test their might against each other in the unforgiving cave. But now Victory Road was a lonely place due to Team Rocket’s Champion Tournament. A place where Leaf was left to her own thoughts.

Her pokemon walked the lonely road alongside her as they trekked the treacherous path towards the exit where sunlight poured in to light the tunnel. Saur the Aerodactyl and Venom the Venomoth had been withdrawn from Storage to complete a team of six alongside Dino, Loch, Belly and Club. These six were to be her Pokemon for the final two rounds of the tournament.

This was another issue daunting her mind. There was a rule for this semi-final match against Lance and it would be the same in the other matchup of Okaido and Silver. The final battle would take place directly after the semi-final with all surviving Pokemon being quickly healed then sent on their way into the Champion’s Arena for the last fight. The problem however, was that both finalists would be unable to withdraw any Pokemon to replace the ones which had fallen in the semi-final. So her current six Pokemon would have to see her through both the semi-final and the final.

“Erik,” Leaf said solemnly to herself, suddenly changing the subject to another which plagued her. “What did they do to you. How could they have turned you?” she thought, then shook her head. “No, they didn’t turn you.”. “You truly believe that what you’re doing is right. That what you’re doing by leading Team Rocket and uniting the world under their visage will bring peace and harmony. A world without people losing their Pokemon in simple trainer battles and a land of united regions where there is no war. Where there is peace.” She nodded in understanding of her friend’s motives. “But first you would destroy the world in order to achieve that great dream. So I’m sorry, I cannot stand with you.” She then remembered her deal with Erik. If she left him alone then Kanto would be spared. She struggled to believe that he would truly leave Kanto untouched but did trust Erik to first focus on Johto and Hoenn.

Leaf and her Pokemon had reached the exit and strided out into the mid-morning sun which poured onto them in a wash of heat. They had exited Victory Road and were now met by a hugely impressive sight.

Rows of trees lined a stone road where flowerbeds sat to either side. Seventeen arches followed the road up the hill and each of these impressive structures was a different colour to match a type of Pokemon and each was ornamented by a statue of a Pokemon’s head at the centre of the arch. The statue matched the type of Pokemon that the arch represented.

“It’s so pretty,” Leaf gasped then looked to the well-decorated building at the end of the road. Indigo Plateau.

There seemed to be five floors of the tower-like structure. One for each member of the Elite Four and another for the Champion. Each floor seemed to get slightly smaller which allowed every rising level to have a small roof where statues of legendary Pokemon such as Moltres, Articuno, Zapdos sat alongside rare Pokemon like Dragonite, Charizard and Alakazam.

“So if I can remember correctly,” Leaf said to her team of Pokemon. “The Champion battle arena was always on the bottom level so anyone who enters can see. But to enter the arena, the trainer must first battle their way up the tower.” She stopped and thought for a second. “But Lance moved the Champion arena when he was the Champion,” she remembered. “To suit his dragon types, he moved it to the roof. But the Champion Tournament final will be held on the lowest level.” She gulped and looked to where the tower rose high into the sky and thought of Lance waiting for her at the top. She would have to defeat the former Champion in his own arena.

Dino moved over to his trainer and nuzzled her softly with his enormous head. He had always been the leader of the team as well as her most valued friend and now the Venasaur comforted his trainer when she needed him most. Like he always had done.

“Are you ready?” she asked him nervously and received a nod in response. Lance was one of the best trainers in the world, and the greatest Dragon Tamer. Dragon-type Pokemon could not be captured by conventional means, they had to submit to a trainer that they respected enough to surrender to.

“Lance,” she spoke through gritted teeth. “I’m coming for you.”

Leaf entered Indigo Plateau and was met by a stairwell to her right and an open doorway in front of her where through she saw a glass screen which overlooked the Champion battle arena. The huge stadium remained impressive despite being eerily empty.

Previously, when a battle to decide the Pokemon Champion had begun every seat in the stadium would be full of fans and the boisterous noise of an expectant audience filled the arena. Each supporter would pick either the side of the holding Champion or the challenger and cheered and jeered until a result was decided.

The centre of the arena was a simple plain of grass with a screen at either end featuring a countdown timer stuck at 5:00 minutes underneath a grey symbol centred with a six-pointed star. The arena would change type every five minutes and was currently favouring normal-typed Pokemon. Leaf had seen the arena change on television so many times. From a deep bowl of water with two miniature islands to suit water types to change to a sheet of ice five minutes later then an electrically charged grid after another five minutes. The type changes were all done in a random order. This was where the final battle of the tournament would be held but first she needed to ascend the stairwell and face Lance. And win.

She eagerly bolted up a set of stairs, then another, and another. She passed through each of the old Elite Four’s floors from Lorelei’s room of ice to Bruno’s fighting dojo then Agatha’s ghost arena until she emerged out onto the roof where a man awaited her. His red cape flapped through the wind as a chill took to the sunny day from how high up they stood. He had scornful dark eyes and a tight, thin face with spiked crimson hair.

“You should’ve stayed at home,” Lance said, his voice controlled and confident.

Leaf remained silent and studied the reigning Champion’s own battle arena. She felt so high up that she could feel a slight hint of vertigo and the clouds seemed to almost reach down and touch her. The roof itself was unremarkable, just a large and flat battleground of metal but there was a large pool in the centre where water-type Pokemon could flourish.

“Impressive, isn’t it?” Lance said.

“Why don’t we fight downstairs, in the Champion’s arena?” Leaf said in an attempt to goad her opponent. “You are the current Champion after all?”

“And stifle my dragon types?” he asked and spoke to Leaf as if she was a fool. “No. They prefer the open sky.

“I’m going to beat you,” Leaf said angrily. “So much depends on this battle. I’m not going to let you win. No matter what.”

“So confident,” Lance said and brushed off her comments with a disinterested shrug. “I have to admit that you impress me. That is a difficult feat to achieve.”

“I don’t care,” Leaf snapped.

“I came up with the idea for this Champion’s tournament with Giovanni,” Lance revealed. “As Champion I could change the structure of the region and I decided to use my power for my own good.”

“Why are you telling me?” Leaf snapped once again. “I don’t care.”

“It was fixed,” Lance said, ignoring her. “So that I would face Courtney and Giovanni’s two sons would face off against one another in the other match. The best trainer of the four of us would then become Champion.”

“And Giovanni thought he could control each and every one of the four of you?” Leaf said. “Well that didn’t work did it.”

“No,” Lance admitted. “And that is why you impress me. You alone disrupted our plans for this tournament.”

“So did Okaido,” Leaf said proudly. “He refused to join his father.

“Believe it or not,” he said, ignoring her again. “My biggest problem was the former Elite Four. They were obviously not happy about losing their places at the top table,” he said and laughed.

“Get to the point,” Leaf snapped.

“The point is,” Lance said. “To stop them rebelling against us I took all their best Pokemon.”


“I have all the best Pokemon in the region. The Champions and the Elite Four’s Pokemon combined.”

“Oh,” Leaf said and gulped. She felt suddenly anxious once more but again, Dino softly nuzzled her. And again, the Venusaur’s gentle encouragement filled her with hope. They had been through so much together, her and her entire team. The Resistance together had been through more than most go through in a lifetime. She couldn’t falter now, not when the end was in sight.

“And by the way,” Lance began to say words that would pour ice into Leaf’s veins and caused her to almost seize up. “The stadium downstairs is already filling of people ready for the final. That means as soon as our fight is finished we must proceed downstairs to the Champion’s arena.”

“I know,” Leaf said, trying to appear calm and collected but anxiety tore through her at the thought of two simultaneous high-stake battles.

“And remember,” Lance said. “Any of the victor’s Pokemon who fall in our battle will be unable to be replaced for the final.”

“I know,” she said again.

 “Are you ready to begin?” he asked her and pulled the first Pokeball from his belt. Leaf nodded to Venom to be her first Pokemon in battle.

“I’m more than ready,” Leaf growled. “This is for Wally, this is for Erik, this is for Archie and the rest of the people we have lost along the way!”

“Then let us fight! Lance declared and released his first Pokemon. An Aerodactyl.

“Woah,” Leaf murmured as the ancient beast took to the skies above and screeched loudly. Lance must have used the same resurrection laboratory as she had on Cinnabar Island because now there were two of these majestic flying creatures reborn into the world, one in her possession and the other now hovering above Indigo Plateau ready to fight Leaf’s Venomoth.

Venom had two bulging round eyes and small fangs which protruded from his mouth and to Leaf’s surprise was almost as tall as she was. Her bug-type Pokemon buzzed towards his foe and moved his lilac-coloured frame with grace and agility. He had an array of poison and psychic attacks in his arsenal which could be used against his prehistoric foe who snapped its large jaws at Leaf’s Pokemon.

“Go my dragon,” Lance shouted to his fighter. “Bring me victory. It is my right to retain my crown as Pokemon Champion of Kanto!

“Not while we still live,” Leaf growled and Dino roared in support towards Venom who, despite being smaller than his opponent, moved more slowly through the air.

Venom twisted agilely to avoid a vicious bite from the Aerodactyl who twisted himself in the air and was straight upon the Venomoth again. The prehistoric Pokemon tried using his wing to attack the bug-type but Leaf’s Pokemon ducked underneath and fired a strange beam of energy towards his foe. The beam flashed rapidly, causing Leaf a slight headache as she tried to keep her eyes fixed on the attack, but the Aerodactyl simply swerved aside the bizarre beam and crashed into the Venomoth using his wing.

 Venom tumbled from the sky towards the metal surface of Indigo Plateau’s roof where the impact would surely be his end but the Venomoth managed to recover and correct himself just before he smashed into the ground. He emitted a powerful wave of psychic energy which acted as a telekinetic force towards the onrushing Aerodactyl who was thrown backwards by the attack.

“Keep going,” Leaf shouted in encouragement towards her Venomoth who used the momentary respite to rise higher into the sky. Then remained stationary. “What are you doing?” Leaf gasped as the Aerodactyl shook its large head and had its senses return. Then charged.

“Do it!” Lance cheered on his Pokemon who stormed through the skies. Venom rushed downwards as the Aerodactyl charged through the area where the Venomoth had previously been, then dropped itself to follow Leaf’s Pokemon. “Here we go!” Lance cried excitedly as his Pokemon caught Venom at a rapid pace. The Venomoth had trapped himself. From here there was no escape, no sharp turn couldn’t be matched by the Aerodactyl and Lance’s Pokemon was closing in a frightening speed.

Leaf clenched her jaw and fists and awaited the impact as the Aerodactyl opened his huge mouth ready to almost swallow Venom whole before the Venomoth tried a despairing but ineffective last move, to dodge out of the way at the last second. But Leaf knew that even Venom wouldn’t be agile enough to avoid her apparent fate. The Venomoth rolled aside and Leaf waited tensely for the Aerodactyl to follow amidst Lance’s cheers at the predictable outcome.

A huge crash came in a crunch and the squeal of metal. Leaf gasped and Lance made a sound which was almost a scream. Venom landed on the metal surface of the roof and remained motionless. He watched his victim struggle and fall. The Aerodactyl had crashed straight into the roof.

“What?!” Lance shouted, slow to realise what had happened.

“Sleeping powder,” Leaf said triumphantly. Her Venomoth had released sleeping powder into the sky around her when the Aerodactyl first charged. Venom had then dropped and the prehistoric Pokemon had followed whilst the powder swept into his system and shut it down. If the impact of the crash into the roof had been too much from the Aerodactyl, then Venom now plunging fangs dripping with lethal poison into the creature was the finishing blow.

“Right,” Lance growled. “I’m going to kill that pathetic insect. Get him Kingdra!” he bellowed and released a Pokemon into the large pool in the middle of the roof. A Kingdra was the fully evolved version of Horsea and was the same size as Lance. It’s body was full of muscle and its snout was powerful enough to send water like shockwaves through the ocean. And now it readied its cannon-like mouth to fire at Venom who floated nervously in the sky.

Venom launched another flashing beam towards the Kingdra who simply ducked underwater and allowed the attack to splash harmlessly into the water’s surface and fizzle out. Then the Kingdra emerged and shot a stream of water like a volcano launched lava. The liquid shot through the sky and Venom only just managed to avoid the attack then rapidly rolled again to avoid another, then another. The onslaught remained relentless from Lance’s Pokemon and Venom was quickly becoming fatigued from the continued assaults.

Then the Kingdra stopped. Venom used the opportunity to send a telekinetic wave of psychic energy towards his foe but the dragon-type quickly ducked under the water once more and the attack simply splashed across the pool’s surface and caused a wave of water to reach over the side and splash down harmlessly across the metal roof. Lance’s Pokemon appeared and launched huge bubbles out of its snout towards Venom and, like Spurt’s beforehand, once the bubbles reached their opponent, they exploded. But unlike Spurt’s miniature eruptions, the Kingdra’s bubbles exploded with such force it was almost as if they contained large bombs inside.

Venom once again began the process of avoiding an attack then swiftly dodging another. But now tiredness had caught up with the Venomoth. And the attacks seemed to have upped their pace. He dodged bubble after bubble, explosion after explosion, but still the onslaught continued until Venom could dodge no more. A bubble floated close the Leaf’s Pokemon and exploded before he could roll out of its way. The Venomoth tumbled towards the metal surface where the Kingdra stopped its attacks and prepared to blast away the remnants of Venom’s life with an unstoppable wave of water.

“Quick, Venom!” Leaf shouted hurriedly. “Move quick otherwise it’s over!”

The Venomoth responded to his trainer and feebly released another flashing beam towards its foe who swiftly ducked under the water to avoid the attack. Then the Kingdra reappeared again, ready to finish the fight. But this time Venom displayed a show of wit like he did against the Aerodactyl. The Venomoth had used the Kingdra’s time underwater to close in on his foe and now swooped down when the water dragon reappeared and plunged poisonous fangs into the creature. Toxins seeped from his teeth into Lance’s Pokemon and swarmed its veins. The panicked Kingdra thrashed and flailed around in an effort to release the Venomoth’s grip on itself, but its attempts were in vain. The poison gripped the Kingdra’s heart and tore the life from it. Venom had claimed his second victory and collapsed in an exhausted heap.

“You think you’re winning,” Lance said fiercely, clearly unused to losing a battle. “But I have in my possession the greatest Pokemon of each of the former Elite Four. And these Pokemon are the ones you’ll be facing next.”

“Bring it on,” Leaf said through gritted teeth and watched Lance release his next Pokemon into battle, a Lapras. Leaf responded with Loch and watched the two Lapra’s enclose upon the pool in the arena’s centre.

Loch raced towards the water where he’d find his advantage but the square-shaped hole in the roof would only be able to contain one of the two large creatures so each Lapras began firing shots of water and ice at the other in an effort to slow their opponent down. The creatures moved slowly across the metal and used their flippers to slither across. A beam of ice collided with Lance’s Lapras who responded with a spray of water which caused Loch to recoil. Then followed up with its own icy attack but instead of aiming for Leaf’s Pokemon, the Lapras covered the ground in front of itself with ice.

“Ingenious!” Lance called out as his Pokemon hopped onto the ice-covered metal and slid at speed towards the pool. His Lapras skated towards the water and narrowly beat Loch in the race to the roof’s centre, landing his a large splash.

“No!” Leaf called out as her Pokemon was unable to dart aside to avoid any of his opponent’s attacks. A wave of water rose up from the pool and knocked Loch off balance then a ray of ice crashed into Leaf’s Pokemon and pushed him over. He tried to retaliate but his foe simply ducked underneath the pool as the Kingdra had before and avoided the blast of water from Loch.

“Too easy,” Lance said casually whilst his Lapras emerged from the water and attacked again, using a combination of water and ice to pummel Loch relentlessly before Leaf’s Pokemon collapsed to the ground in a battered heap.

“I have a plan,” Leaf said to her Pokemon, her voice strained and weary. “But you must keep going,” she said and hoped her Lapras read her thoughts.

“No plan will work,” Lance spoke eagerly. “This round is won.”

Loch struggled to hold himself upright but managed to erupt a weak spray of water from his mouth which his opponent allowed to wash over its skin, soaking the Pokemon slightly but causing the water-type no damage. Lance laughed and Loch tried again, using a beam of ice this time. But his opponent simply ducked underneath the water. Just as Leaf and Loch had wanted him to.

“Now!” Leaf screeched and her Lapras obliged. Loch rained ice down like a blizzard on the water, causing the surface of the pool to freeze over and have a sheet of ice blanketed on top. Lance’s Lapras could surely survive underneath for a long period of time, being a water and ice dual type and the Pokemon would definitely have enough strength to break the thin sheet of ice that rested on top of the water. So it was time for part two of the plan, for Loch to shoot yet more ice on top of the sheet to strengthen it and trap his opponent underneath. But when it was time for him to act, Loch just collapsed through pain and exhaustion to yet more laughs of derision from Lance.

“That was your big plan?” the former Champion said. “But your Pokemon is too weak to finish what it started!” he taunted as a crack appeared within the sheet of ice from where his own Lapras bashed it from underneath. “I hope you don’t have a plan B,” he said sarcastically.

“I don’t,” Leaf admitted then looked to Loch. “But he does,” she said and watched a section of the sheet of ice shatter just as her Pokemon regained his composure and stood back upright, then leapt. A crash sounded as Lance’s Lapras attempted to emerge from underwater and her own Pokemon crashed into the ice and slammed his body into his foe who vanished back underneath the pool in complete surprise, swiftly followed by Loch.

Leaf and Lance both stood nervously as the water rippled and sloshed whilst the two beasts struggled in the contained space. Leaf closed her eyes and waited. She waited for either a severe tearing sensation within her to signal the loss of Loch, or for her Lapras to emerge victorious from the shallow depths. Time seemed to move so slowly it may aswell have stopped. A Fearow screeched in the skies above them and the bitterly cold wind howled. She shook suddenly, whether because of the cold or the apprehension she did not know, but still she waited.

Then a Lapras emerged victorious, the defeated foe left sunken at the bottom of the pool. It was Loch. Leaf’s Pokemon had won the battle having almost been defeated. He had surprised his opponent and that had gifted him the advantage. Now he simply collapsed and Leaf recalled her fighter and sent out Club in his place.

“How?” Lance said, flabbergasted. Club span the length of bone in her hand and awaited her opponent, whoever that may be.

“Get on with it,” Leaf snapped and Lance nodded. He launched a Pokeball into the air and watched as a Gengar emerged from within. The same Pokemon that Leaf had battled within Pokemon Tower in Lavender Town. The same Pokemon that had killed Club’s mother.

Club was both furious and devastated. She struggled to look at the Pokemon she had to face in battle as memories of what had caused her to leave her home and take up her quest of vengeance now filled her. She slouched down, looking defeated.

“Come on Club,” Leaf said softly. “We’ve gotten this far together. You’ve been through so much and made me so proud with how you handled all your pain.” Club looked despondent as the Gengar approached. Leaf knew that her Pokemon was vicious when they fought Team Rocket as her Marowak’s motivation stemmed from revenge. But when faced against a Gengar she was clearly struggling to maintain her resolve.

“Your Marowak’s given up!” Lance said and chuckled. His Gengar approached with a menacing look fixed upon its face, from its malicious grin to its foreboding crimson eyes. The ghost-type Pokemon summoned a lilac sphere of spiritual energy and launched it towards Club who made no attempt to dodge the attack. Instead, the shadowy ball smashed into the Marowak and sent her sprawling across the floor as bitter memories tortured her willpower. Leaf knew that her Pokemon craved a simple life. In reality, she was still just a child desiring to be with her family, yearning to settle down and live in peace. Now she had no purpose, no motivation and no spirit.

“Club,” Leaf said, trying again. She felt tempted to withdraw her sullen Pokemon but knew that her Marowak wouldn’t muster the energy to leave the field of battle. She also felt that she could still motivate Club to succeed. “You haven’t avenged your mother yet,” Leaf said harshly and the Marowak glanced back at her trainer with pained eyes. “You’ve got your revenge on Courtney and Team Rocket. But they didn’t kill your mother. A Gengar did.” Club realised what her trainer was saying just as another shadow ball crashed into her, sending her flying back towards her trainer and out of the zone of battle. Leaf could recall her if she so wished but had no desire to do so. Not now. “This is it,” Leaf said and lay a hand upon the Marowak. “It’s come full circle. Now you can finally finish your quest for revenge.” Club looked at her trainer and nodded. The Look in her eyes flicked from pain to anger. She charged.

Lance laughed at his opponents apparently futile attempts. In truth, the Marowak did look battered and bruised. But Leaf knew better. She knew how fiercely Club fought when her heart was set on revenge. The Marowak rolled just as another sphere crashed past her then launched herself at the Gengar and tried to smash the ghost-type with her club. Lance’s Pokemon smirked viciously and then faded slightly to make itself translucent. A trick used by ghost-types. Club fell through the Gengar as if the Pokemon wasn’t even there and his attack did no damage.

“No chance!” Lance laughed. Still fully confident of a victory despite only having three Pokemon left to Leaf’s six.

“You’re down to your last two,” Leaf said to Lance’s confusion. The former Champion tapped the two Pokeballs still affixed to his belt then pointed to Gengar and raised three fingers at her. “Because Club won’t give up until she’s won this now. You shouldn’t have used a Gengar.”

And Leaf was right. Despite being unable to hit the Gengar who simply phased out of the way each time Club attacked, the Marowak remained relentless. She tried different tactics, headbutting, swiping, clubbing and others to try and strike her foe. But none worked.

“How can your Pokemon win this?” Lance said amidst laughter. “It can’t even hit my Gengar.”

“She will,” Leaf said and watched as her Marowak tossed her bone club through the air, her attack once more phasing through the Gengar to more laughs. Lance’s Pokemon stood up straight to Club, clearly enjoying taunting the Marowak rather than attacking. That was its fatal mistake. Club had tossed her bone club like a boomerang, and whilst the Gengar’s back was turned he failed to see the attack coming and therefore was unable to phase out of its way. The club smashed into the Gengar’s back and sent it stumbling over where Club darted out of the way, picked up her club, and began to pummel the fallen ghost-type until she had achieved victory.

“How do you?” Lance spat but was unable to finish his question.  

“Resolve. Strategy. Willpower. Strength,” Leaf answered him. “You like to taunt and humiliate your foes. That gives me the opportunity to overpower you with mental fortitude and wisdom.”

“Then no longer,” Lance declared. “My final two Pokemon shall show no restraint. I will show you true strength!” he shouted as Leaf recalled Club into her Pokeball and kissed the capsule with whispered appreciation to her Marowak.

“Come on Belly,” Leaf spoke to a Pokeball before releasing her Snorlax into the fray. Lance countered with a Machamp, the fighting type pounding his chest with four muscular arms in challenge to the Snorlax who would oppose it. The two robust Pokemon wasted no time in charging at the other and engaging in a perilous wrestling match on the metal surface.

Belly threw headbutts whilst Machamp landed punches with his free arms but both powerful Pokemon struggled to find the advantage over the other. Lance’s Pokemon disengaged in an effort to discern another strategy but Leaf’s Snorlax rapidly resumed the wrestling. Then Belly attempted to disengage but the Machamp refused to stop the bout.

“Wind it!” Lance commanded his Pokemon who tried using his hands in a chopping motion into the Snorlax’s stomach in an attempt to knock the wind from his belly. But Belly’s thick fat simply absorbed most of the damage and Leaf’s Pokemon replied with a tenacious headbutt which again the Machamp appeared to just simply endure.

Both trainers were at a loss as to how to turn the battle in their favour, until Lance’s Machamp found an opening. The fighting type had managed to very slightly push Belly back and whilst the Snorlax was temporarily off balance he had struck. The Machamp swept a low kick towards his opponent’s stumbling feet and Belly toppled over, falling with a crash into the metallic roof which withheld the hefty impact.

“Finish this!” Lance roared to his Pokemon, refusing to leave it to chance by first wanting to humiliate his foe. His Machamp responded by clambering on top of Leaf’s Pokemon and began to pummel Belly’s large stomach. Punch after punch rippled off the Snorlax’s hefty belly.

“No!” Leaf wailed as Belly’s head flopped to the side. Her Snorlax appeared lifeless with closed eyes and making no move to stop the seemingly victorious Machamp from pummelling the life from him. He had either given up or already had been defeated but Leaf failed to fell the soul-severing tear of losing a Pokemon. Then she realised that he hadn’t been defeated at all. He had fallen asleep by taking a rest mid-battle.

She knew that a Snorlax was one of a few rare Pokemon that could seemingly fall asleep at any time and by doing so remain defenseless to a foe but at the same moment it would recover its health and energy. Then he snored.

Such was the power of the snore the Machamp flew backwards, crashing into the metal as if an invisible force-field of sound had batted him down. Then Belly woke up and jumped to his feet. The Snorlax wobbled towards the stricken Machamp who seemed too perplexed by the unfolding events to respond. Belly dropped and used his considerable weight to slam into the prone Machamp.

“Only one more left!” Leaf declared her victory prematurely to Lance whilst his Machamp suffocated within a tomb of the Snorlax’s belly fat.

“Make no mistake, Leaf,” Lance spat. “My final Pokemon is my most powerful dragon. A Pokemon famed across the land for being near invulnerable.”

“You’ve lost this,” Leaf gloated and watched her Snorlax climb to his feet, victorious. “I have six Pokemon left to your one. As a former Champion, you have disappointed me.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Lance said confidently and clasped his last Pokeball within his hand. “My Dragonite has never failed me.” He released the dragon who remained standing on the metal floor and to Leaf looked almost friendly and cartoonish. It stood at least a full foot taller than its trainer and its muscular frame showed it weighed considerably more. But its teal-coloured wings seemed far too slight to carry the hefty creature and it’s face bore a permanent smile and welcoming appearance. Leaf doubted the creature could even fly at all and if it could, then it would be extremely laborious whilst aloft.  

Leaf chose to release Saur, her Aerodactyl, to face the humorous looking beast and use the aerial advantage her ancient Pokemon would offer to overwhelm the Dragonite.

Saur rose into the sky and glided through the air at impressive speeds in what was almost a taunt to the opposing Pokemon.

“Get him,” Lance said and placed a hand on his Dragonite’s back. “After everything, all I’ve ever been through, you have always been there for me. You have always saved me when I’ve needed it the most. Now once again I need you to win me this fight!” His Dragonite responded with a nod of its head then flapped its wings. It appeared to be a struggle to Leaf initially. The heavy Pokemon batted its small wings and slowly lifted itself skywards. Then dashed towards its foe.

The Dragonite moved at incomprehensible speeds and took Saur by stunned surprise. The dragon-type used its lightning-speed to rush into the Aerodactyl and cause Leaf’s Pokemon to drop from the sky upon impact where the Dragonite simply roasted its falling foe with a blast of fire.

Lance celebrated as Leaf felt the tear in her heart upon losing her Pokemon and the fear of defeat beginning to well up inside of her. This Dragonite looked incredibly powerful, maybe even invincible, so it would take something different to defeat the dragon.

“Venom,” Leaf thought suddenly. “The little bug is a genius! I won’t defeat this Dragonite by might so the alternative is to beat it with wits!” She released the Venomoth into the skies to challenge Lance’s Pokemon and immediately realised her error. Venom remained vulnerable from earlier and still hadn’t fully recovered. And Lance’s Dragonite took full advantage.

“Two down, four to go!” Lance rejoiced before his Pokemon had even made its move. But Leaf knew he was right. The Dragonite exhaled a beam of nightmarish energy of pure crimson and obliterated Venom within.

Leaf heaved and almost collapsed as she lost her second Pokemon in quick succession but managed to remain upright. She forced herself to carry on as if she was unimpeded by the losses of two of her friends in quick succession because that’s what she had to do. She had to win this fight no matter what the cost. Lance had used the Pokemon he had always relied on. The friend that had always been there for him and the ally that always saved him in his time of need. Now Leaf would have to do the same.

She ushered Dino into the duel.

Leaf’s Venusaur attempted the first strike by laying a trap of sleeping powder above himself incase the Dragonite tried to swoop. But the dragon was prepared for this and simply incinerated the pollen with a blast of fire which Dino only narrowly avoided himself.

Dino whipped out vines in an effort to capture the foe and lowered it to his own level. The Dragonite simply dodged the whips and replied with a thunderbolt summoned from the skies which hammered downwards towards the metal roof. But instead of colliding with the Venasaur, the lightning struck the roof as sparks of electricity flicked back up off the metal and surrounded Dino, trapping him in place as if he was paralysed. The Venusaur was on an island of metal enclosed by an ocean of electricity and one false step would end in his demise.

He was trapped as the Dragonite unleashed a blast of flame. The fire roared through the skies towards Leaf’s Pokemon who spread his feet on the surface and aimed the plant above him to take the lethal flames. Leaf closed her welling eyes and waited for the pain to sear through her. The fires would consume her grass-type and her closest friend had no escape instead of attempting to walk through the death grid of electricity. Dino had simply stood his ground.

Leaf heard the howl of flames as they smothered her Pokemon then awaited the tearing feeling which never came. Until, with her eyes still closed, she listened to the same sound of powerful energy that annihilated Venom pierce the sky.

A loud cry of pain from both trainer and Pokemon filled the world. The closest friend, most trusted ally and greatest asset had been obliterated by a ray of powerful energy. A Pokemon who had seemed undefeatable until now had been defeated. Leaf opened her eyes and tears streamed down her face. She collapsed to her knees and exhaled her held breath. And watched the Dragonite fall from the sky.

Dino had absorbed the fires within the plant on his head and converted the flames into solar energy. Then blasted the attack in the form of a beam towards the Dragonite. The solar beam had decimated Lance’s Pokemon and had won Leaf the battle. The electricity dissipated and the sparking death grid faded. She ran to her Venusaur and embraced him, wrapping her arms around her closest ally and friend.  

“I thought I lost you,” she whimpered to Dino who nuzzled his head against hers. “Thank you, thank you. You never let me down. You’re always here for me and you always save me. Thank you,” she blubbed to her Venusaur. After a few seconds she turned her vision towards Lance and saw the former Champion stroking his defeated Dragonite’s head and sobbing as he held his fallen friend.

It was now mid-afternoon. Leaf had reached the final of the Pokemon tournament and the winner of the fight between Silver and Okaido would face her for the right to become Champion. She only had four Pokemon for that battle, and time was running out to stop her mother and save Kanto from Lyra and Mewtwo.

But she still had Belly, Club, Loch and Dino. Her and her four friends would try to both become Champion and save an entire region. Despite all the other friends they had lost, both human and Pokemon, they had never felt stronger. They had never felt more together than they did now.

Leaf squeezed Dino one last time then recalled her closest ally into his Pokeball. She descended the stairs to the Champion’s battle arena and there she would await her opponent.

The battle to become Kanto’s Champion was about to begin.