Chapter Four – The Pain Of Victory
“Poisoned, frozen, paralysed, burned and sleeping,” Erik informed the class full of children, the teacher nodding along to each answer he gave. “You can use items to heal all of these status conditions however. For example, I bought an antidote from the Pokemart earlier today, it heals any poisoned Pokemon,” Erik said as he pulled the item out of his bag to show the students.
“And what effect,” the professor asked Erik, “does each status condition have on your Pokemon?”
Erik looked around the room before answering, he was inside Hoenn’s trainer school, where a bunch of schoolchildren were eager to learn from a fully qualified trainer. In truth, he had entered the building looking for May, thinking she might have come to Rustboro in order to take a class, but instead ended up being asked by the teacher to lend a hand.
“A poisoned Pokemon will slowly lose it’s health over time, becoming physically weaker too as the venom saps it’s strength,” Erik finally answered, before continuing with the other status effects a Pokemon can pick up in battle.
“A frozen Pokemon is unable to move until it thaws itself out of the block of ice it is encased in. A Pokemon which has been paralysed will become physically slower and sometimes not be able to move. One that has been burned will slowly lose health whilst also lowering the damage they can inflict on their opponent.” Erik paused for breath before carrying on with the final effect, “sometimes a Pokemon can be forced to sleep by their opponent in battle. If this happens then you will have to wait for them to wake up before they can do anything else.”
The professor began clapping to which the entire classroom joined in, Erik allowed himself a smile.
“Thank you so much Erik,” the professor spoke as he shook the trainer’s hand, he was an aging man with balding grey hair and a finely trimmed beard. “As a thank you, I can teach your Pokemon how to cut down large trees that bar your way. Also, showing you how to teach your Pokemon the same technique if you ever need to in the future?”
“That would be great, professor,” Erik allowed himself another smile as he thought back to how useful the ability to cut down large trees would have been back in Petalburg Woods, as he handed over Ziggy’s Pokeball in order for the professor to teach his Zigzagoon to cut down trees.
Route 116 connected Rustboro city to a half-finished tunnel, built by the residents to connect the city to nearby Verdanturf town. However, the tunnel wasn’t completed due to the Pokemon living in the cave causing constant cave-ins with their booming shouts.
Erik had decided to use the route instead to train his Pokemon for the Rustboro gym, knowing he would find other trainers with the same idea along the way. He also hoped to add a new member to his team. Before leaving Rustboro City to the east, he had healed his team at the Pokemon centre, being told he only had three more uses of it for the rest of the month.
Erik sighed as he remembered he hadn’t seen May since the night before. As the grassy terrain of Route 116 shot out in front of him, he saw Rusturf Tunnel in the distance.
Ziggy immediately ran off and started cutting through shrubbery, using her newly learned ability. She cut right through some long strands of grass with her razor sharp claws, before moving onto a slightly larger target, a dense thicket of bushes. As she slashed at them Erik saw a blur of speed, a claw slashed out at Ziggy, knocked her backwards. Ice charged in to save her, but the attacker was gone.
“What was that?” Erik questioned Ziggy as he checked if she was okay, Pokeball in his hand ready if the wild Pokemon assaulted them again.
“Hey you,” a man with a backwards baseball cap called over to the group, “that Nincada that attacked you is mine. I’ve been chasing it all morning.”
Before Erik had time to reply, the man reached into the pocket of his blue shorts and pulled out a Pokeball, the red ball blending in with his same coloured t-shirt.
“I’m Joey, and I challenge you to battle!” He declared throwing the ball, his own Zigzagoon coming out.
“String, let’s carry on your winning form,” Erik spoke softly to his Pokemon, as String trotted confidently out onto the field of battle, full of self-belief. The Zigzagoon moved instantly and slammed into String. The Cascoon responded by attempting to poison the aggressor, failing.
String tried and failed once more, his confidence clearly dropping before Speedy purred at him, giving him some encouragement. String tried again, and succeeded. The Zigzagoon fell to the floor as the poison flowed through it, String using the opportunity to finish it off.
Before String has time to celebrate, Joey threw another Pokeball with a Machop popping out this time. Ice went to trot onto the field of battle but Gully got there first, his flying abilities being strong against the fighting power of Machop, leading to Gully winning the battle quickly.
Gully flew down and began nibbling at Erik’s hair as always, with String and Speedy bumping into each other in celebration. Blaze, as always, remained at Erik’s side as they traveled further down the route, before they heard rustling in the bushes. Blaze pre-emptively blasted fire, striking the Nincada as it leaped out of the bushes with Erik reacting quickly to his Torchic’s intuition by flinging a Pokeball, successfully managing to capture his new Nincada, which he named “Ninja.” Erik put the newly captured Ninja into storage, as his party was already at the maximum capacity of six Pokemon.
“Name’s Clark,” The hiker said in a strong accent, his words punching through a thick black beard.
“Erik,” Ziggy’s trainer replied as she strode out to meet Clark’s Geodude in battle.
Erik had already beaten Joey, and more recently, Jose today. The latter fight had ended quickly with Ziggy defeating a Wurmple, Speedy beating a fellow Silcoon and Ice making short work of a Nincada. Leading to Erik feeling confident about facing yet another trainer.
Clark was using a rock type Pokemon, the same type they used in Rustboro gym, so this battle would be a good test for Erik before he challenged for the gym badge.
Rusturf Tunnel lay in front of them, Erik had tried passing through to find the way blocked, but did manage to capture himself one of the hundreds of Whismur which inhabited the tunnel, naming it “Bunny” for it’s large ears. After heading back out of the tunnel he was jumped by both Clark and his girlfriend, both looking for a battle. The burly rock trainer challenging Erik first.
Ziggy scratched at the Geodude with her sharp claws, but found her strike slamming hard off the rocky surface.
Erik withdrew his Zigzagoon and sent out Gully instead knowing that water attacks were strong against rock types, although rock attacks were strong against flying Pokemon so Erik would have to be wary.
Geodude slammed into Gully, pinning him up against the solid tunnel exterior. This wasn’t the first time Gully had been in this situation though, so was able to use his experience to blast his attacker away with water.
Clark remained remorseless after seeing his Pokemon fall, immediately sending out another Geodude. This time Clark’s rock Pokemon was larger, and looking a lot tougher than the last.
Erik withdrew the weakened Gully and gave Ice a quick nod, his Poochyena strutting out to meet the Geodude.
Ice’s fangs closed around Geodude’s solid body, but even the added ice to the bite could not penetrate the rock. Geodude grabbed a nearby rock and slammed it into Ice who had left himself exposed, the attack nearly killing Erik’s Pokemon.
Erik felt sweat pouring down his face, this is the toughest battle he had ever faced, his Pokemon struggling against the rock types.
“If we struggle against an average rock type trainer, how are we ever going to defeat a gym leader’s rock Pokemon,” Erik worried, before exclaiming out loud, “I know! Speedy, poison it!”
String bumped against his friend to wish him luck. Speedy returned the bump and hopped out to face Clark’s Geodude, who had grabbed another rock ready to throw. Speedy charged in with his poisonous points levelled at the Geodude, the largest point aimed straight into his opponent’s left eye. Erik smiled as he saw the plan being put into action before seeing Speedy thrown back, the thrown rock hitting him.
Erik froze, staring straight at his Silcoon, who lay unmoving. String bounced out over to his friend, furiously bumping against him trying to wake him up. Erik felt as if time had stopped as he stared at his Cascoon checking for signs of life and after a few moments, realised there was no hope. Speedy was gone.
“NO!” Erik shouted at String, as his Pokemon angrily charged at the Geodude in a state of rage. Erik ran, trying to stop his Pokemon making the same mistake as Speedy, but it was too late. String had been hit square in the face by another rock that had been hurled by the Geodude.
Strings body flew through the air, landing and rolling a few times before he lay resting side by side with Speedy. Erik grabbed String, desperately shaking his Cascoon, hoping he hadn’t lost two Pokemon in a matter of seconds, but it was in vain.
String and Speedy remained side by side in death as they had done in life.
Blaze saw Erik distraught, clutching his two deceased friends in tears, and shot a blast of fire so powerful it could rival the sun, finishing off Clark’s exhausted Geodude.
Clark’s girlfriend threw out a Pokeball containing a Marill next. Ziggy charged down the Pokemon, clawing at it, again and again.
Gully landed on Erik’s shoulder, rubbing his beak against his beloved trainer.
For once there was no swagger to Ice’s step, no pride. The Poochyena simply limped over to Erik and rested his head on his master’s lap, his trainer sat with tears streaming down his face, holding both String and Speedy in his arms.
“Maybe this is what my dad meant,” Erik thought to himself as he looked over his two Wurmples’ graves, “if he hadn’t tested me so much, pushed me so far.. Would I have been able to handle this?..” Erik shook the thought from his head. His two newly caught Pokemon, Bunny and Ninja, joining Ice, Ziggy, Gully and Blaze to complete his team of six.
He returned to the front of the Pokemon gym, the building looking similar to every other in Hoenn with a plain white brick surface, only one floor and glass windows but this time with an orange roof and sliding double doors.
He knew the gym to be home to rock type users. The only rock trainer he had faced before had killed off two of his team, he wasn’t confident.
Rock types had the advantage over bug, flying and fire types meaning that Gully, Ninja and Blaze were at risk here. Normal type attacks were also weak against rock, meaning Ziggy and Bunny would be ineffective as well. The only real chance Erik had was Ice. Gully’s water attacks were strong against the rock types too but using his Wingull here would be a big risk. He only had two uses left of the Pokemon Centre as well.
As Erik entered the gym, the first thing that caught his eye was a huge fossil on the back wall. There was a mini museum at the front, with old fossils filling up glass cases, the biggest of which was sat right in front of the entrance, containing four rows of ash grey badges that were sat on red velvet. Erik assumed that Roxanne would award one of these badges to each trainer that defeated her in battle. The rest of the building’s interior was made entirely with stone walls, rocks jutting out of them, some large, some small. In fact, the gym almost looked like the inside of a cave, suiting the Pokemon used here.
“Hello trainer, my name is Roxanne. I am the leader here,” a deep stern voice echoed around the room, a woman with jet black hair which was tied up in pigtails approached him, wearing a pink and black school uniform.
“Why are you dressed like that?” Erik blurted out, but Roxanne just laughed it off.
“I just graduated from trainer’s school,” she informed Erik much to his surprise, he had thought she was in her thirties, but upon closer inspection noted she was only a couple of years older than he was. “I was right at the top of my class and studied for longer than usual to make sure I became a Gym leader.”
“I’m Erik, let’s fight,” he said bluntly, not in the mood for courtesies after the loss of String and Speedy.
“Hasty, but not yet. First you must prove yourself worthy of challenging me by defeating my friends here.” Roxanne pointed to three trainers who were watching the conversation with interest. Erik remembered that anyone wishing to become a Gym Leader would train in the Gyms themselves, battling any potential challengers. Once the current leader stepped down, one of the trainers within the Gym would be chosen to replace them.
“I’m Josh, I’ll go first,” spoke a young boy who looked to still be in trainer’s school announced, also wearing a black and pink uniform.
“Ice, we are relying on you here,” Erik said in a hushed tone to his Poochyena, who responded to his trainer by marching out, swagger returned. A Geodude was to be his opponent.
This time Ice didn’t give his opponent a chance, quickly wrapping icy teeth around the foe. Backing off then returning to do the same thing again, finishing the fight.
Josh sent out a second Geodude, this one looking bigger and tougher, and so it proved.
Ice tried the same technique again but Josh’s Pokemon threw him off, into the rocky wall. Erik ran over and applied the potion given to him in Oldale town to Ice’s wounds, healing him up and sending him off again. Josh’s Geodude has managed to grab a rock off the wall and launched it at Poochyena, Erik’s mind flashing back to String and Speedy being defeated the same way.
Ice rolled, dodging the rock, before leaping onto the Geodude, finishing the fight.
“I’m next, name’s Tommy,” another boy in school uniform informed Erik, sending out his own Geodude.
Ice went in with his fangs again, this time encasing his foe in an ice prison. He had managed to freeze his opponent. The frozen Geodude was unable to resist Ice’s next moves, the Poochyena winning Erik his second battle.
“You are good, but I’m the number one trainer in trainer school!” a girl shouted, throwing out her own Geodude.
“Yeah get him Georgia!” the defeated Tommy encouraged.
Ice tiredly went in again. His weariness showed as Geodude took little damage from Erik’s Pokemon’s fangs, the rock Pokemon grabbing Ice by the throat and slamming him against a rock wall.
Erik again ran over to heal with Pokemon with a potion he had purchased earlier, and the tired Ice set off again. Ice bared his fangs, icy whiteness glistening off them, but the Geodude easily dodged him and slammed a rock he had picked up down on Erik’s Poochyena.
Ice barely survived the blow, Erik calling him back and sending in Bunny for his first try at combat.
The Whismur matched Ice’s swagger, confidently trotting out onto the field of battle. Bunny opened his mouth, letting out a booming sound. His voice ricocheted off the walls, causing the entire room to shake.
Georgia’s Geodude was unmoved, the floating boulder flying over to Bunny and began pummelling Erik’s Pokemon.
Erik reached for a potion before realising he had none left, remembering he had given one to the boy on Route 104.
Bunny stood strong, throwing the Geodude off into a nearby rock wall. Bunny boldly followed that up with her fists, but the Geodude was too quick, he had grabbed a rock off the wall and had hurled it at the oncoming Whismur.
Bunny fell to the floor, bereft of life.
Ice charged in, angry at another one of his partners dying because of his failures. The Poochyena finished off the Geodude then slouched to the floor, distraught.
“Well done Erik,” Roxanne clapped him, “I recommend you visit the Pokemon Centre then come back for our battle.”
Before she realised that Erik was already on his way out.
“Berries..” Erik whispered to himself as he lay awake in the hotel bed, he had been up all night wondering how he would defeat Roxanne. Gym leaders were supposedly twice as strong as the other trainers in their gyms, and Erik had struggled against them.
As a child his dad always gave him advice. One such piece now reverberated around his mind, “if you allow a Pokemon to hold a berry during battle, they can use it to heal themselves without your help.”
Erik reached into his bag and found some Oran berries he had saved from earlier.
“I knew you would get this far, you are after all, Norman’s son,” Roxanne declared as she faced Erik down, her grey eyes matching the colour of the rock wall behind her.
“Ice, it’s time,” Erik said coolly to his Poochyena, who’s strut had disappeared. Ice now seemed to nervously plod onto the rocky arena, head hanging low.
Erik felt himself shaking, matching Ice’s doubts, they had both come into Rustboro on a string of victories without losing one partner. Now, they faced a Gym leader for the first time, after losing three Pokemon the previous day.
Roxanne sent out her own Geodude, who immediately glided over to a wall and ripped off a chunk of rock.
Erik had to force himself to watch, now vigorously shaking, sweat dripping down his face. He looked at Ice, seeing his Pokemon also shaking. Ice turned his head to face Erik.
Ice stared at Erik, seeing the fear in his trainer’s deep blue eyes, he composed himself. Ice knew he had to do this for Erik, his trainer had lost too much in such a short space of time.
Ice leapt at the Geodude, crunching down on his enemy’s rocky surface with fangs filled with cold, causing great damage. Ice leapt off and thought about going in for another blow, but his doubt had return, making him hesitate.
Roxanne’s Geodude took advantage of the pause and threw the rock he had held towards the roof, causing an avalanche of rocks tumbling down to land on Ice, caging him in a pile of stones.
Ice struggled free of his rocky prison, battered and bruised.
Erik went to call his Pokemon back but Ice had other ideas, and began to eat the Oran berry his trainer had given him before the battle. Enhancing him with a fresh boost of energy.
Ice charged in again with fangs bared, but this time missed his target, the Geodude once again imprisoning Ice within a tomb of rocks.
Again Ice broke free, but missed with another charge, his confidence shot to pieces. Geodude went in for the kill, but Ice managed to strike first with an icy bite.
Roxanne ran over to heal her Geodude with a potion, by the time she was finished Ice leapt in again. Erik could sense his Pokemon’s fury, the anger of his previous failures giving Ice strength.
Ice enclosed his fangs once again around Geodude, freezing Roxanne’s Pokemon. The frozen Pokemon unable to defend itself against Ice’s flurries.
“Your Poochyena must really like you, the passion it fights with,” Roxanne called over to Erik.
“He fights for String, Speedy and Bunny,” Erik corrected her, receiving a perplexed look in reply.
“I don’t know who they are, but I know that this battle is over now. You struggled against my weakest Pokemon, now prepare to face my strongest.”
Roxanne sent out a Pokemon that Erik had never seen before, his Pokedex informing him it was a Nosepass. It just looked like a big blue rock with a huge red nose.
Erik tried to call Ice back, but his Poochyena carried on, unable to hear his trainer’s calls in his fury.
“Nosepass, prepare yourself as we practised,” Roxanne ordered her Pokemon, who responded by kneeling and holding two blue rock hands against it’s head, hardening its surface.
Ice used the terrain against his foe, kicking up sand at the Nosepass, trying to blind his opponent. The Nosepass was unmoved. Ice went in again but ended up on the receiving end of Nosepass’s solid stone hand.
Ice flew through the air to land by Erik’s side, gasping for air, but alive.
Erik withdrew his Pokemon and sent out Gully, a risky move but necessary. Erik thought Gully’s water blasts would be effective against the rock Pokemon and was proven right. A burst of water from Gully’s mouth sent the Nosepass slamming backwards into the rock wall. Gully flew up into the air, then came flying down, blasting more water at the Nosepass who lay unmoving on the floor.
“Yes!” Erik shouted, as his Gully circled Nosepass triumphantly, the Wingull staring his trainer in the eyes, knowing he had made him proud.
Until Erik dropped to his knees.
Gully slammed hard into the rock wall, a huge rock had hit him. Thrown by the Nosepass.
Seconds passed and Gully still hadn’t moved. Erik felt tears fill his eyes once again, Gully was gone.
Blaze saw Erik frozen in time, not moving or speaking. The Torchic nudged Ziggy into battle, who timidly crept out. Blaze knew his trainer well, knowing that Erik would have chosen Ziggy next as both himself and Ninja were weak to rock attacks.
Ziggy was hit by a thrown rock, crashing into the ground. The Zigzagoon tried struggling back to his feet, but was too weak.
Blaze knew there was only one choice left, so marched into battle himself. With all his might he blasted fiery embers at the Nosepass, the flames engulfing his opponent. But the Nosepass remained strong.
Roxanne ordered her Pokemon to pick up a rock and cause another avalanche, knowing fire types were weak against rock attacks, the avalanche was guaranteed to defeat the Torchic.
Erik watched as the Nosepass hurled a rock at the roof, causing a barrage of boulders to fall from it’s surface. His Torchic turned it’s head to look at his trainer, the little black beads that were it’s own eyes filled with sorrow. Then anger.
Blaze bolted, dodging one rock then another, before breathing molten fire at the Nosepass, burning through the stone surface. Winning Erik his first Gym badge.
The Gym door slid closed behind them, Erik’s tired and battered team limping out.
“Don’t take those parts!” Came a scream from across the street, as a Team Magma member barged his way through the crowded street and bolted off onto Route 116, followed closely by the same Devon Corporation laboratory technician they had met in Petalburg Woods.