Author's notes: Don't own Pokemon, hence the posting to a fanfic archive. Original fiction set in a pokemon world but not another "my trainer journey" thing. Playing fast and loose with the canon; if something doesn't mesh with any of them, it's probably intentional.
"Pokemon not bad guys. Pokemon do bad things... because Master bad."
Surprisingly enough, there was once a time when the so-called "Pokemon world" of Japan was the closest thing to a utopia that humanity had ever known. Back then, it was an idyllic land; a country where day-to-day life was one of endless happiness, abundance, and entertainment, all based around the strange and wondrous creatures known as Pokemon. Diglett mined for minerals, countless electric-types powered the land, Oddish leaves and fast-breeding Rattata provided a food supply, and strong Machamp constructed all that needed building. Apart from the Jenny Corps and perhaps the Joy Nursing Order, government was absent, the state having withered away after a long-ago revolution which fulfilled all of Karl Marx's most ambitious and pleasant dreams. A century after the revolution, the fervor had declined and the wealth of Silph Corporation now drew envy all across the world, yet Pokemon made the world so prosperous that there were very few suffering beneath the boots of poverty. It was so trusting that few people locked their doors, so safe that parents let their ten-year-old children travel across the country with only their pokemon on their belt, so beautiful that people regularly took to the air to gaze upon the chattering, grassy landscape.
This is not to say that it was perfection, however, merely that it was closer than humanity had ever come. Absent of anyone to stop them, the pleasant anarchy lead to greater and greater criminal gangs with names that reached for the stars. Not content merely with extorting towns or making illicit profits, many of these groups quested for absolute power through Pokemon, spurring wild ones to madness and awakening creatures which should not have been awakened. Heroes named for gems and colors had always stepped forth to defeat every major gang in feats of awesome skill, seldom using more than six pokemon to go through their hideouts and wreck their entire forces, then following up on their victories by calming or capturing the creatures of legendary power. Everyone had been saved, and it had provided for great stories, but it was a foreboding sign. The fact that the Pokemon world was forced to rely on brave and determined children to keep the peace was a grave weakness in the system. True to ideology, the abolition of class had seen the Japanese state dissolved, but this abolition had made it far more difficult to join together to defeat those occasional local tyrants or criminals. Furthermore, so long after the revolution, there was very little to keep equality in place. When Silph Corporation took over Saffron, the Pokemon World watched, accepting all the evils of capitalism in exchange for a steady supply of max repels and ultra balls.
The Pokemon League did a small bit to police matters but they were a sports league, not a government, so as long as the gyms were open they seldom did anything to help. (After all, a worthy trainer wouldn't be stopped by lousy roads or petty thieves.) Furthermore, the Gym Leaders themselves were often the strongest in town and therefore the best in position to abuse their own power. There was camaraderie amongst the group and with the temptations of power, very few had clean hands. When Viridian City's Giovanni had been revealed as leader of Team Rocket, the first great group of criminals, the league had sat by and shrugged. When Saffron had fallen, they were furious, but stood by, afraid both of heavy casualties and the very real possibility that they might lose. And were the half-forgotten peoples across the sea to grow jealous of resources or seek Pokemon of their own, there would be very little to stop them.
And despite the name "Pokemon world," it was still ultimately ruled by humans. Pokemon trainers, but humans nonetheless, with all their human flaws and all the sorrows which not even the greatest outside world could purge. The dream of being a Pokemon Master was universal, yet not everyone could be a winner. The so-called "battle towers" where the tournaments took place and nearly all children aspired to were harsh places where pokemon met their physical limits and trainers were driven to madness by continued failure – and many, incompetent and below-average their whole lives, never even got that far. The competitive spirit did not always lead to camaraderie between Pokemon and trainer: weak and lazy Pokemon were often abandoned, while others turned towards drugs or physical abuse to give their creatures the lead. The pains of loneliness, unrequited love, and heartbreak did not go away because people could own Bulbasaur and Pikachu: greed, revenge, hatred, and megalomania remained in the human condition, boredom existed in the age of battles as easily as it did in the age of video games, and those with little love or aptitude for handling Pokemon often found themselves caught in an unwanted world with no way out except death. In spite of this, it was still thought by most a place of unparalleled happiness, a land where even those with dreams smashed upon the battle tower could still think of nothing more amazing than their journeys.
Of course, compared to what came afterwards, this was an absolute paradise.
In this era, a town called Wisteria had stood in the shade of Mount Moon. It was a rustic, idyllic village with lush grasses, frolicking Rattata and all the other charms of small-town Kanto. It was very much off the beaten path, along a side of the mountain some distance from the path to Cerulean. Travelers were rare, but every now and then a lost trainer emerged from the cave, his pokemon badly beaten up, and desperately asked every person he found the way to the nearest pokemon center. Surprisingly enough, the town actually did have a pokemon center but it was one so minor that neither a Joy nor a Chansey could be seen. It mainly served to heal those wounded in combat lessons at the local pokemon school. Also on the main road stood a small library of local folklore, which also served (in those rare times when it was needed) as a community center and town hall. To its left stood an elementary school for those yet to start their pokemon journey to learn the basics of literacy, arithemitic, basic type matchups, and other things everyone needs in life. Across the street, there was a police station staffed by only a couple officers; the town's unused prison sat in the back room, and as a whole it seemed more aimed to deter by its very existence than to actually catch criminals. Further down, there sat a blue-roofed shop which sold potions and pokeballs and called itself a Pokemart, but seemed too tiny for such a title to apply. The rest of the street consisted of houses and there was nothing apart from houses on any of the other roads.
The town's economy, insofar as it needed one, revolved mainly around mining; Mount Moon was home to a surprisingly large array of minerals and there were still plenty of raw materials which could not easily be created through pokemon attacks. A smaller segment of the populace, insofar as such grandiose words as 'populace' apply to a small town of a few hundred, made their living in agriculture - most of them growing strange berries which aid pokemon when eaten in combat and spring up anywhere a patch of dirt could be found. Most, however, lived their lives in luxury, spending their time playing games with their pokemon, reading and socializing, never even needing to work.
Kumiko, like many in Wisteria's younger generation, saw little appeal in either profession and little to do around town. Thinking it her only escape from boredom and as excited on her tenth birthday as any child of the Age of Pokemon, she had long ago departed her sleepy hometown with a Bulbasaur, dreaming of being the very best and journeying across Kanto to make that dream come true. She had done quite well in her day; outside the Pewter and Cerulean area, the introductions of "Kumiko from Wisteria Town!" were the only place where most people had heard of Wisteria. Her Venusaur and Dragonair had brought her past the round-robin segment with an undefeated record, and for a moment, she was a phenom: the talk of the Pokemon World, a person within striking distance of becoming the very best.
A couple days later, it all collapsed. In her first elimination match, she faced off against a now-forgotten trainer and his immensely powerful Machamp. She had lost badly, all her pokemon unable to even wound their four-armed foe in any noticable way. And like many other trainers, her pokemon-training spirit had been broken by defeat. Holding back the tears of broken dreams, she talked it over with her pokemon, found them new masters and gave sad goodbyes to old friends. With the three who remained, Kumiko returned sadly to her hometown, burnt out and tired of wandering, yet strangely still wishing for those following behind her to enjoy following in her footsteps. She wanted others to know what they were doing, to teach others and save them from her tiny mistakes, to trade tips and gain knowledge and have a tiny bit of fun in the process, yet never to dissuade anyone from the mistake (and she was sure it was a mistake) on which she had wasted the latter half of her life.
This was why, five years before this clear-skied day, Kumiko had founded the Wisteria Academy for Advanced Pokemon Study. It was a small school with a single teacher and a ramshackle dorm, the dorm attached for those few students from other parts of Kanto who had (for some unfathomable reason) concluded that a one-time Round-of-32 finisher would be a better teacher than a gym leader or a learned Pokemon professor. Therefore, the Wisteria Academy's student body mainly consisted of local trainers, mostly ones who had failed their journeys, returned home and simply needed something to do. A couple others had grown homesick and a few more enjoyed pokemon training as much as anyone but were content in acquiring knowledge, lacking in the desire to escape their small-town life and see the world. The school had sixteen students and they filled the single classroom with a mixture of curiosity, love, bitterness and broken dreams, bound mainly in that they all used pokemon for catharsis from the reality of the Pokemon World.
Or maybe she was just projecting. Quite a few of them had never wanted to leave home: the institute had a high school sort of atmosphere which simply wasn't available for those traveling around the world and not everyone necessarily took failure as hard as she did. Maybe it wasn't catharsis to her students, just a whole new place to be. Undeniably, there was hope. And fun. None of them were eager to quest for mastery again anytime soon, but they had each other and on a warm, sunny day like this one when their pokemon were fighting and they could almost hear a theme song on the wind, even she couldn't remember the sadness which had brought her there in the first place.
For a good, long moment, she gazed at her students, turning her head and reminiscing as she stood at the center of the four pokemon battlefields. But the trainers were complaining and the moment had gone on too long – she had a battle to run.
"Each trainer may use one pokemon each. Let the battle begin!"
"You sound like we're back in Indigo, but no referee was ever this enthusiastic." A gruff young man of about Kumiko's age by the name of Kenichi joked. He was an old friend of hers, one who had battled with her through Victory Road, lost in the Pokemon league, and had on one day a few months ago showed up at the Wisteria Institute, to see where life had taken her, and became her "student."
"Face it, it's exciting." She said, looking out as the pokemon were released and began to fight. "Hey, wait! Don't forget you're my student! You're in this battle, too!"
"And if I wasn't, you'd just drag me here to round out the numbers." He answered, and then turned back to the battlefield, clutching his pokeball. The other fighters in the match had already released their pokemon, a persian and starmie standing fairly menacingly before his ally's sandshrew. Absentmindedly, the trainer glanced at his two opponents: Koneko, a casually-dressed girl whose gramatically incorrect T-shirt and black, furred false ears on her head revealed her love of all things feline, and Haruna, a smooth-skinned, attractive girl clad only in a blue, one-piece swimsuit – he caught himself staring for a moment, only to remember she was six years his junior and now was generally not a good time for perving, regardless. Looking around the field, he turned his head to his teammate Kazuki, a pretty boy with long, purple hair who always somehow managed to sparkle. (He had thought glitter was the cause of this at first, but his shine never seemed to look that tacky.)
His gaze turned, the Persian menacingly approached as its trainer blushed heavily, barely holding back a squeal at his teammate while shouting out "Faint Attack!" Haruna, somewhat more composed (at least on the outside), calmly pointed, showing the way for a ferocious burst of water to come from her starmie's six upper legs, colliding with the desert pokemon.
"Sandshrew!" The bishounen yelled, rushing onto the field with beautiful concern. "You okay?" He asked, cradling the pokemon up in what was a blatantly illegal move, but Kumiko was watching a different match and his opponents were too busy swooning over his compassion to point out that he entered the arena during a battle. Reaching back, Kazuki flashed his teammate a "V" sign and shot him a look of annoyance, and the bearded man nodded, hurling his pokeball into the 'arena'. "Raichu, hit 'em with a thunderbolt!" he ordered, and sparks obediently flew from the giant rodent's cheeks, zapping the ten-pointed star."
"So lame." Koneko answered, shaking her head. "You too, Haruna-chan – even Kazuki-sama hasn't been that creative this match; I've seen better from him. Do you really think a pokemon battle is as simple as deciding which of your pokemon's four attacks to shout out, when to switch, and which opponent to target?"
"Those things you dismiss are more complex than you give them credit for. We've spent years talking about nothing else." Kenichi answered calmly.
Koneko sighed, her eyes downcast and staring out upon the distance, wishing there was something greater in the Pokemon World. Her manga offered such great things; rattata biting through blocks of ice, sending the enemy plunging to defeat, Venusaur vine whips on a Pikachu-electrified Poliwrath cloud bringing down an indomitable Charizard. Of course, not all of them were applicable in a trainer battle, but even still, she wanted something more.
"I see why you lost. You have no imagination. Persian," she began to yell, then sighed. Her fake thunderbolt trick was neat, but wouldn't do any good against a Raichu. The field of short grass lent itself to no grand strategies and her teammate would do better drenching the enemy than acting as a UFO-like mount for her pokemon. "I don't either. Just slash the Raichu or something."
On the battlefield to the right, a Murkrow hovered a few feet above the ground while its teammate, a Hitmonchan, positioned itself into a fighting stance. On the other side, an Onix reared up menacingly, towering above both its foes and its trainers, while an Electrode waited in place, its giant pokeball-like looks at odds with its ferocious speed and explosive power.
"Shiro, it's time I show you what determination and guts can accomplish! Hitmonchan, Sky Uppercut the onix!" A spiky-haired boy named Taro shouted with hotblooded courage, his elbows bandaged from his last battle against a Machop.
The bird keeper smirked, then shook his head. "I have no doubt you will show meexactly what your determination is capable of, Taro. Then again, I suppose should at least try, if only so that you don't complain when we lose. Murkrow, sucker punch the Electrode."
"Electrode, show them why you're the greatest of all pokemon, and give 'em a thunderbolt they'll never forget!" A white-haired trainer named Eiji yelled, pointing to the sky as if to call down lightning – and lightning soon fell, striking the Hitmonchan.
"Even the legendary birds tremble before the might of a well-trained rock type, so your little Murkrow doesn't stand a chance! Onix, use Rock Throw!" A burly hiker of about sixteen named Hikaru called out.
Despite the vaunted quickness of electrodes, often said to be the fastest species of pokemon (depending on the criteria used, Pidgeot, Dugtrio, and Ninjask were at times considered faster) some techniques were simply too quick for even them to dodge or counter, especially right after hitting an opponent with a Thunder. The murkrow folded its wing into a fist, then approached its foe in a confounding off-balance motion resembling that of an alcoholic as the fist of curled, black feathers let off a malevolent glow and slammed the electric-type's mouth with a powerful punch.
Eiji smirked, then calmly spoke one word. "Thunder."
"What are you saying? Onix hasn't even attacked yet! Your pokemon can't possibly-" Taro shouted, watching as the Electrode rolled backwards, the Murkrow's punch smashing it with so much force that its red and white pokeball color scheme began to blur together into a pinkish shade.
"Never underestimate your enemy, and never forget the importance of speed." The electrode's trainer answered. As the ball-shaped pokemon began to slow down, it engulfed its own body in a yellow crackling light. The light floated into the sky, becoming a thundercloud, then split in two, engulfed both the Murkrow and Hitmonchan in separate columns of lightning and pain.
"And never forget that you have two opponents." Hikaru added, smirking. The onix reared back and spat a large stone towards its singed, avian foe, a wounded pokemon who was by this point emitting electrical smoke and whose already-dark feathers were standing on end, looking somehow blackened by the lightning. The thrown rock collided with the small bird's stomach, and it was knocked into the air, then onto the ground, eyes spiralling in defeat.
"I told you we couldn't win."
"We still have one fighter and you soaked up all the damage I need." He answered, smiling as the Hitmonchan's punch sent the giant snake of stones toppling. "Now hit it with a brick break!"
As the transvestite boxer slammed his fist into the rock type with a powerful chop, a Stantler, a Tentacool, a Porygon, and a Gyarados were locked in a confusing melee on another field of the vast pitch, their trainers standing at the corners of their battlefield.
"Stantler, tackle!" The pokemon's androgynous trainer ordered, but it was to no avail: the normal-type's large body was no more able to take down its two tiny opponents than it was before receiving its order.
"Ne, Hotaru-chan," The tentacool's trainer, a pink-haired girl of about fifteen shouted across the field, her large, sky blue eyes gazing first at her opponent's intense face, then to her large breasts seeming barely confined by her black leather tube-top, then to her bare, muscular chest, "What do you say to giving this battle some extra excitement by betting your chastity on the match?"
"Sure." Hotaru answered blankly, her deep purple eyes staring with an intense, hawk like focus on the battle, her opponent not even meriting a glance. She waited a few seconds, watching as the tentacool wrapped its slimy tentacle around the Stantler's leg. The antlered beast lost control of its balance, slipping and falling onto the tentacool's teammate, a porygon. The porygon glowed a silvery color, reducing the damage taken, but it could neither free itself from below its Johto-born opponent nor continue to annoy the Gyarados with seizure-inducing projections. "Now!"
The Gyarados reared up, uncoiling its body as it extended to its full length, seeming six or seven times the size of either of its opponents. Its eyes glowed a deep, ferocious red as it whirled around them, trapping the three pokemon in a cyclone. A strange draconic liquid dripped from between its scales which soon turned the storm the same violent shade as its eyes.
After a few more seconds of spinning, the Stantler, Porygon, and Tentacool lay sprawled out and unconscious on the grass, flung randomly to different ends of the field, defeated by the dragon rage.
"M-my Stantler!" It's trainer, Saikaku shouted, yelling with indignation in a thick Johto accent.
"You won, didn't you?" Hotaru answered contemptuously while she opened her pokeball, then as a red light began to engulf her Gyarados, turned and walked away. The light followed to her pokemon's container, and she soon returned the ball to her belt.
But while one battle had finished another seemed not even to have started yet despite all the time that had passed. The four pokemon (a Squirtle, a Bulbasaur, a Smeargle, and an Eevee) had all been released, but stood on their own side of the field, waiting for orders, none of them having lost more than a sliver of health.
"You'll lose and you'll always lose, and don't whine about type advantages. I kicked your ass before Bulbasaur learned vine whip, and I'll kick it even if you teach your Squirtle Ice Beam. Man, I was hoping for a rival, not a wimp like you." One of the trainers, a girl named Kasshoku said, talking across the field to a young yet charcoal-haired boy of about the same age.
"W-wimp? I'm not... Squirtle, Skull Bash!" Said boy, a trainer by the name of Haiiro shouted back.
"Not a wimp, but a moron, at least if you think this will do anything more to Bulbasaur than your earlier Water Gun. I haven't even attacked yet, and still your pokemon's more tired than its opponent – Bulbasaur, ingrain!" The plant/reptile symbiote extended its vines then sunk them beneath the ground, rooting them to the rocks beneath the dirt. Watching this opponent, now so well-rooted that a skull bash seemed more likely to hurt his head than to send his foe flying, the turtle pokemon cast a nervous glance at Haiiro; witnessing his trainer's nod, he obediently lowered his head to attack.
"Lost sight of the goal?" The girl's teammate, a young man named Murasaki nonchalantly asked, casually scribbling something on a small pad of paper held in his left hand.
"And that goal would be?" Kasshoku asked, then fell silently into thought: Goal? What other goal is there? I'm beating him, aren't I? What the-" A flash of brown sped across the battlefield, and as it did, the Bulbasaur cried in pain, its vines cut by the Eevee's white claws."What are you doing? Retract your vines!"
On the other side of the field, Haiiro smiled gently at his teammate, a long sunlight-haired bishoujo by the name of Ayane, then turned to Kasshoku, his face twisting into a look of taunting victory.
"This isn't over." Murasaki noted. "Smeargle, guillotine!" The beastly artist's tail shifted into the shape of a blade, then glimmered as the Smeargle raised it into the fox's path. At the exact moment which the smeargle lowered its blade upon the rushing flash of brown (which was slowing up, but not soon enough), the Squirtle slammed its head into the already-wounded Bulbasaur, launching it into a flight which seemed likely to send it far from the battlefield.
"Bulbasaur, return! I hate to admit it, Haiiro, but..." She began, until her teammate put his hand up.
"Kasshoku-san, this battle may be approaching its end, but its outcome is far from certain; once again, you may be more victorious than you realize. Smeargle, crush claw."
Elated from his victory, his gaze overly focused between Kasshoku's look of defeat (a sight he would surely relish) and Ayane's disturbed and horrified form (nothing that couldn't be healed, but her starter and best friend was still laying on the ground in a pool of blood with a large gash in his chest), Haiiro's attentions were no longer focused enough on the battle.
"Defeat them. For Tsuki-chan." Ayane said gently, giving her teammate a soft smile – a smile which Haiiro would have easily lost himself in, were it not for the accompanying words.
"Squirtle, withdraw!" He hastily shouted as his pokemon pulled into its red shell, a shell soon scarred by the Smeargle's claws.
"You can't win that way." Murasaki said.
"R-right..." Haiiro mumbled, wracking his brain in search of a decent counterattack as his squirtle's shell was slowly recolored with black wounds. "Squirtle, water gun!"
"Smeargle, mirror coat." The long-tailed beast pulled its claws back, its fur now carrying a faded blue glow as the squirtle fired a burst of water point-blank at its face. The Smeargle opened its mouth wide, stepping back and catching most of the attack in its mouth; its face was still drenched, but it was more than capable of fighting on.
"Good, now swallow!"
"Who do you say that more to, Smeargle or Yuji-chan?" Murasaki blushed crimson as Haiiro made his command of "headbutt!" to his squirtle, and, distracted by his indecent yet appealing thoughts, forgot for a precious moment that there was still a battle going on.
When the Squirtle raised its head, the Smeargle lay unconscious on the ground.
"Pain split!" Murasaki yelled, and now both pokemon were staggering, as though Squirtle had hurt its own head as much of its enemy's. "Now, finish it with a Hyper Beam!"
Haiiro knew exactly what was coming, but his mind drew a blank, so the charcoal-haired trainer fell silent as the orange beam of light engulfed and defeated his starter pokemon.
"All right! Four excellent matches there. Everyone, bring your injured pokemon to me and Chansey!" The words were heard through her megaphone across the battlefield, and the students of the Wisteria Academy began to gather around her. "Injured pokemon for the winning matches will take priority. Round 2 starts once all the pokemon who'll be fighting in it can be healed up, which should be..." she said, glancing at her watch, "about 1:24." I wanna see you all at the battlefield then – if you lost, you can learn something, so come anyway!"
As the teacher turned towards the school and took her first step away, Ayane nervously stepped forward, her raised hand shaking with trepidation.
"What is it?"
"I-it's Tsuki-chan..." The trainer said, shyly opening her evolutionary pokemon's container. "It took a nasty Guillotine from Murasaki's Smeargle, and it's still in pretty bad shape. W-will it be okay?"
"Yeah, it should be" The teacher answered, rubbing the back of her head. "But keep it in its pokeball. They can go into what's almost a sort of stasis in them, but out here they'll just keep bleeding."
"So if one were to prevent the pokemon from returning..." Shuuta began, the light glinting off his glasses.
"The tower in Lavender and the typical pokemon center emergency ward answer that question better than I can." Kumiko said, casting a distant, mournful gaze to the east, then shifting suddenly back to her ordinary form. "I've got nothing planned for today until the second round, so... class dismissed!" She yelled, and the students slowly began to depart.
"Listen, Ayane-chan, I didn't mean to let..." But maybe that was too wordy, and would she really approve of him using '-chan'? So maybe... "Ayane, I'm sorry." but saying that seemed way too distant, no matter how much emotion he'd put into his words and maybe he wasn't close enough to use an honorific. "Ayane-san, I'm so sorry! I wasn't good enough to take her Bulbasaur on my own..." but he might come off excessively caring that way.
As Haiiro walked by his former teammate's side (and that's all they were, former teammates), her hair continued to half-obscure her eyes, but even from the way she walked he could tell that the maiden was visibly distraught.
"Cheer up." Kasshoku said, suddenly coming from behind the two of them to announce her presence with a forceful pat on the female's back. "Tsuki-chan will be fiiine."
"You sure?" She muttered, eyes casting a less withdrawn, almost hopeful gaze.
"Absolutely." The brown-haired girl said confidently, wrapping a possessive arm around the maiden's torso in a way which would bring many a teenage boy confusing feelings and a likely nosebleed, but in Haiiro...
Well, her whispering "Jealous yet?" into his ear didn't help, to which he could only stammer a blushing yes while Kasshoku whispered "Victory again" to Haiiro. Ayane blinked in confusion, and the three of them walked on.
About twenty minutes later, after Kasshoku had left to "plot her strategy" (and rub in Haiiro's face, even by her absence, just how badly he had lost) Ayane seemed relatively happier, albeit still concerned. Instead, the Squirtle trainer took her role in the department of poorly concealed depression.
"W-what's wrong, Haiiro-kun?" She asked, looking worriedly over to him.
"Haiiro...-kun?". He said, his gaze shifting in response to her words.
"A-ahh... sorry! I was far too presumptuous..." She began, bowing in a way which exposed a fair amount of her smooth, soft breasts to a beet red and staring Haiiro, "please forgive me!"
"I don't mind. It's no big deal." He answered.
"Okay, Haiiro...-kun!" She yelled, taking her hand in hers, slipping it into her leaf-printed dress. "I really wanted a boy to do certain things, but I didn't want it to be just anyone... I'm glad you're here, Haiiro-sama!" But it wouldn't be that way. It was friendship, and as far as Haiiro could see friendship it would regrettably stay.
"I... I just can't beat her. Kasshoku, I mean. Pokemon battles, video games, love... it doesn't matter. We declared ourselves rivals, but I can't even remember the last time I merited such a title!"
"Don't be so hard on yourself. You put up a good fight... his Smeargle was just that much stronger than my Eevee, that's why we lost! Speaking of which... at the end of our battle, when he was hyper beaming you, why didn't you use withdraw?"
"Withdraw! That was it!" Haiiro yelled, smacking his head.
Ayane laughed. "Besides, Kasshoku's never had a boyfriend, so I don't see how she's beaten you in love..."
S-she thinks I'm gay? But maybe it's better that way, since there wouldn't be any tension on her part... a-and girls always have their yaoi fantasies, right? "I..." don't like boys? Yeah, great job Haiiro, way to crush Ayane-chan's fantasies. "haven't lost to her over any boys."
Ayane brushed the boy's ashen hair to the side then suddenly brought her lips to his cheek, planting a soft kiss which brought Haiiro to the verge of fainting. "Enjoy your first victory."
A couple minutes later, when he recovered, "What would you say to a date tomorrow night at Magi Magi's?"
She smiled. "I think it would be fun."
It was a pleasant, normal day, and much as he wanted to be with Yuji again, he still felt the desire to stay with those who remained just a little while longer. Fresh off a victory and with Shiro staring at the clouds from the rooftop instead of keeping him in check, Taro was as insufferable as ever – Saikaku's comments about "everybody wanting to be a master" just couldn't put a damper on things nearly as well as the flying trainer could. Murasaki didn't really mind, however; it wouldn't be right any other way. Hotaru was lost in thought, immune to Kazuki's sparkles and having recently fought off Sayuri's... more assertive advances with what looked suspiciously like a mega punch. Shot down again, she had gone over to chat with Haruna on their respective battles, her stares at the swimmer's barely-clad, curvaceous body unnoticed. Shuuta was on his laptop again browsing peacefully, though he was a little scared to know what kind of things were on there. Koneko had left already, presumably for the internet's endless images of cats and poor grammar and he couldn't help but get the feeling it was his time to do the same.
After all, he reasoned as he headed back to town, his deadline was fast approaching and his editor was waiting.
"Get any inspiration from the battle?" She asked, her eyes large and semi-chibified, as if to defy her businesslike form.
"Not really." He said, sitting down on the rocky path and looking for inspiration in the hills. "A win's a win, but bringing down the guillotine on some poor girl's Eevee isn't exactly inspiring."
"You really think so? Blaine wrote a pretty good memoir in his day and though it was mostly about the Mewtwo thing, the chapters with his gym above the lava pit were pretty cool..."
"Yeah, but that's a memoir. I'm a Wisteria student, for Arceus' sake! Who'd read a memoir from someone like me? Besides, I'm looking for inspiration... even if it would sell, chronicling my life would just bore me."
"Finished anything lately?" She asked, holding her hand out in a friendly manner. "I know your deadline's not yet, but I could use a good read..."
He nodded, handling over a small, blue folder. "What's here is here, but it's far from finished... I'm gonna have to find something quick, but I hope you enjoy."
The editor's eyes lit up, and it was all she could do to force out a sentence-long scold about needing to finish on time before throwing her arms around the writer and running back to her home to read.
"I'm home-nya!" The catgirl yelled as she opened the door.
"Back so soon, Kagu-chan?" Her mother, a human woman in her forties answered.
"It's Koneko-nya!" She yelled, batting at the air with her paw.
"Of course, Koneko-chan." The woman said, casting a light smile as her gaze returned to the dishes.
"We were dismissed early. Sensei didn't have anything planned, so she let us out until the next round."
"How'd the battle go?"
"Fa-chan lost to a mouse." She said, suddenly turning downcast and sad. "I'm gonna head online for an hour or so until the next round, okay?"
Koneko nodded, waving to her mother as she climbed the stairs and pushed open the door to her room. Once safely inside its figurine-laden confines, she took out a ball of yarn to bat around, booted up her computer and browsed to a favored bishounen-laden imageboard, purring happily as it loaded.
"Even though they'll attack from them, I still love these skies. Yet I know that sometimes, it takes more than wings to set me free; here, I'd only be flying to my grave." Shiro said.
"Pidgeo pidgeooo!" His pokemon squawked, looking to the sky as he brushed his hair down with his wing.
"Hishou, I wish it were as simple as you evolving and us all getting out of here. But you just aren't strong enough. Then again, I suppose a trainer and their pokemon standing together and alone is the way of the world."
"I'm not any happier than you are of following the way of the Absol... no, not even that, it's the way of a scared Rattata or Magikarp. But sometimes, it's all we can do to survive."
"I'll miss him too, but it can't be helped. Let's go." The dark-haired boy returned his pidgeotto to its snug pokeball, clipped it onto his pocket then slowly walked downstairs, out the back door of the school, and away into Mount Moon.
They had gathered again on the battlefield green, with but a few minutes until the assigned time for the second round to begin. The matchups were kept secret, although this could be more ascribed to Kumiko's lack of organization than any actual teaching method; she'd announce them when the time came and didn't want to waste time making up a board or anything. Her Chansey was hovering over Saikaku's Stantler, slowly but surely undoing the damage of his teammate's dragon rage.
"Hotaru!" Kumiko scolded, but the battle girl shrugged.
"It won us the match, didn't it?"
"Still, 'taru-san... that was brutal." Saikaku answered in a thick Johto drawl, stumbling over thick, traditional robes. "Brutal."
As the minutes passed, waiting glances turned to audible wonder as the fact of Shiro's absence became increasingly known. Taro was unperturbed, boasting about his power and saying that if his pokemon couldn't beat two opponents at once, he wouldn't deserve the victory anyway. The rest, however, were at least slightly worried – sure, his attendance wasn't the best, but why would he leave now of all times and without saying a word at that? Had something happened to him?
The trainers continued their chatter and bluster, discussing the morning's battle until Haruna suddenly froze, pointing upwards in horror as a mass of orange and scaly teal slowly blotted out the sky.
"A flock of Charizard migrating..." Kumiko began, nervously pulling her Chansey to her, "except that Charizard don't really form flocks and there isn't any reason for a fire-type to migrate. But I hope to Mew it isn't anything worse." The students nodded, although they seemed more like quivering children then studious trainers, all frozen in place from their terror.
In unison, the Charizard opened their mouths, blowing flames which merged together over the streets of Wisteria, utterly incinerating a couple city blocks and setting half the city's buildings ablaze, but the flames did not end there. Lawns and parks turned into carpets of fire, boulders were obliterated, or just charred halfway through, as most of the friends, neighbors, and families of the Wisteria Academy's ran screaming for their lives, clothes and hair alight.
"'kaa-san! 'tou-san!" Koneko shouted as the first fireball hit, ripping out her golden feline contacts to let her blue eyes overflow with tears. But for all her sorrow, it wasn't human tears which could raise the dead, and as for pokemon it can't have been more than some silly feel-good story. Burying her face in her gloved paw, she wept through Kumiko's orders.
"Listen up, students! Wisteria Town is dead, and the academy is no more. Here are your pokeballs, take them quick – a wounded ally's better than nothing! Hop on your fastest pokemon and run until you find somewhere safe from the Charizard!" She yelled, pointing outward towards the mountain – maybe there'd be rocks there too big for the Charizard to burn.
"As my final act as your teacher, I'm going to delay these guys as long as I can! Class dismissed!" The teacher shouted, effortlessly opening her three pokeballs with a single hand.
"Everyone, come out! Golem, Rock Blast! Venusaur, Hyper Beam! Jynx..." and Kumiko paused, thinking through the attack list. There was one obvious move, one which, if everything went exactly the right way, could end the battle right there... but she was sure the Charizard had trainers with them and roars loud enough to make that attack backfire. Someday, if there still would be a "someday" and anyone escaped to tell this tale, historians might question whether the gambit would've worked, and if this caution had doomed the small town, or even called it "a lack of tactical aptitude which easily explains both this and her earlier losses in the pokemon league." It didn't matter what they would think, however - Perish Song would still be the wrong move. "Blizzard!" As a rock connected with a Charizard, sending the draconic beast to the ground as it writhed in pain, a cold, snowy wind slowly moved towards the horde and another of the fire-types took a hyper beam in the stomach...
"I'm not gonna go hide at a time like this! You guys follow teacher's orders if you like, but I, for one, am not gonna run away! Hitmonchan, sky uppercut! Charmander, umm... growl! Clefairy, Metronome!" Taro shouted, engulfed in an aura of hotblooded courage. "And as for you cowardly dragon-wannabes, stop shooting from a distance and come down here to fight me!"
"Are you out of your mind?!" Saikaku yelled, starting to throttle him, but was quickly felled by a shout of "get off me!" and an elbow to the cheek.
"Sensei, there's no way I'm letting you fight them with only an idiot like Taro on your side!" Hotaru yelled, bouncing as she ran towards the fight and hurled her pokeballs into the air. "Gyarados, knock them out of the sky with an aqua tail! Onix, throw every rock you have at them! Electabuzz, show these guys why fliers fear Thunder!" Hotaru yelled, her chest bouncing as she leaped into the air, hurling her pokeballs at the Charizard and letting them open on the way into the sky for that added bit of height.
"I'm not holding back, either! Bulbasaur," Kasshoku yelled, as the other students looked on her as though she was insane, Shuuta wondering audibly if Charizard had some power to induce madness on sight, "Leech seed! Geodude, rock throw! Rattata, endeavor!" She ordered, and a small-but-painful rock collided with a Charizard – a damaging move, but not nearly as painful, disorienting, or fast as the blast of her teacher's Golem. The Bulbasaur, looking forward with stern determination, spat a seed from its bulb into the sky which found fertile soil in a Charizard wing, slowly but surely draining its health. But it was the Rattata's attack which was most powerful of all, its slow shake of its body plunging like a sudden wall into one of its foes, draining it to within an inch of its life.
Her orders given, Kasshoku walked over to Haiiro, taking his palm in hers as she buried her face in his short neck, her deep brown eyes overwhelmed with tears. "This wasn't how I wanted to end it! There was so much more I wanted to do with you! Find a new rival, okay? Haiiro, I'm so sorry! And I have to get back to fighting and being strong for my pokemon, so I can't even let all my tears out with a proper goodbye!"
"Can't you run with me?" Haiiro asked, trying to hold back his sadness as he sped for the hills, taking his hand in hers.
"I wish. But these guys... I trained 'em the best I could, but they're not very disciplined. At this point if they see me run, they'll just join me, and then I'll just die with you, running away!" Pulling herself together, Kasshoku shoved her rival away and turned back to the battle, and Haiiro suddenly noticed that his rival was both amazingly cool and beautiful as he stared at her from behind. Facing the Charizard flock, his Squirtle's pokeball clutched tightly to his hip; it couldn't make a difference, not like she would.
"This is all very touching of you and I think your Gyarados might even match up to one of them pound for pound, even without the type issue. But there have to be at least fifty of them out there and all you're doing is suicide – especially you two, Kasshoku and Taro! I'm just fighting because I have nothing left to live for and a duty to delay 'em, but you have so much more... And this won't even buy your friends an extra second!"
"Don't underestimate me! I know the risks, and I realize this is the end... but a leech seed is a leech seed, and every little bit to let the others escape helps!" Kasshoku yelled, wiping her tears as Haiiro looked on in awe.
"She's right! Raichu, Thunderbolt!" Kenichi ordered, hurling one of two pokeballs, then turning to Eiji, the pokeball in his hand making clear his desire to go out in an explosion of glory. "If anyone can survive this, you can. Your pokemon are the next best thing to Ninjask when it comes to getting out of the fight and maybe they can protect a friend or two as well, but nothing an Electrode can do can distract them in an open sky like this."
"Maybe not distract, but surely adding a few electric types to a fight like this... couldn't we win?"
"There's sufficient cover fire, kid. Don't let a little success delude you into thinking its anything more."
"Here." Haruna said, placing a pokeball in the tall boy's hands. "Take my Poliwag – don't worry, I have others. If you're gonna try and lead an escape party, you'll need its water gun; it doesn't do you any good to escape if you'll just burn to death afterwards." She said, then smiled and turned to the battlefield. "I'm not running away! Seaking, Wartortle, fight back with every last bit of water you have!"
The Charizard horde continued to approach closer and closer, flying low to the ground above the burgeoning flames of Wisteria - low enough it could be seen that one of these beasts had a rider.
"Sure." Eiji answered, taking the pokeballs and motioning the crowd to follow him towards the mountains as Murasaki opened his own and called for Smeargle. "Everyone who can't fight, run for the caves of mount moon!"
Haiiro ran after Eiji, heeding his orders with every ounce of speed he possessed. He hoped the others were following, but the charizard were roaring so deafening that he couldn't even hear his own footsteps. Those who stayed behind to fight were yelling just as loudly if only so their pokemon could hear them and all he had was sound and peripheral vision: he couldn't afford to look back.
"Whoever you are... there are forces in this world more powerful than you realize!" Murasaki called to the sky, "and your burning fury means nothing against the godlike power of a writer! Smeargle, Roar of Time!"
As the dimensions began to shift, wounding the pocket air force above him and disorienting everyone within range of the Smeargle's senses, Kumiko kept her focus on the enemy, trying to remember that soulless face, those electric yellow eyes, those bangs which now seemed as dark as his soul, and the familiar way he rode a Charizard standing and how his cape hung about his body.
Through the shifting fabric of time, she caught sight of it; a man who seemed identical, save with about five fewer years, descending on his Charizard in that exact way to a crowded stadium of cheering fans. "Masuo!" She yelled in a furious rage, but it was not a rage which did the slightest thing for her attack power.
But maybe the trainers didn't need attack power, the way things were going. While immense in size, the Charizard were only about three or four times greater in number than the pokemon now risking life and limb to defend Wisteria academy and between Hotaru's Gyarados, Murasaki's Smeargle, and Kumiko's Golem, it seemed like the defenders might actually win.
Until the Charizard attacked again, spewing so much fire that Haiiro could feel the tempature rise about thirty degrees even with the substantial distance he had gained from the fight and streaks of red light appeared in the corner of his eye. He sprinted further and further away, following Eiji towards the cave but still on the roads of some deserted Wisterian street, the cave's entrance becoming bigger as he ran.
The ground suddenly began to shake violently, hurling the trainer into the air as the cavern's entrance – his salvation – collapsed into a pile of rubble indistinguishable from the walls. As he fell, the trainer reluctantly turned his head; it was scary to watch, sure, but there wasn't any point in facing the right way while falling, and these were his friends, his classmates – he couldn't just avoid the sight because he was afraid to see what was happening to them!
The moment the academy entered his gaze, his eyes opened wide with horror.
A few of them were fighting, but the battle was obviously lost – well, even more obviously than it had been from the beginning. Most of them were escaping behind them; Ayane had been right behind him the whole time, although she was holding to the ground better than he was. Haruna was now running naked through the streets in a sight which by all rights should have given him a major nosebleed – it was the first time he had seen a naked woman and all that – but this was ruined by the fact that her hair was on fire and her beautiful flesh was scarred where it hadn't been burnt off entirely.
Closer to the fight, Hotaru's Electabuzz was a charred husk of a pokemon laying lifelessly on the dirt. And worse – far, far worse – a new blast of fire was engulfing his best friend and fiercest rival.
"Kasshoku!" He yelled from the sky, but his scream did nothing to protect her from the blast. The attack incinerated her and moved onwards into the already charred ground, and she vanished like a Double Team clone after the flames moved on; not even a single bone remained.
Haiiro's eyes were still wide with horror as he plunged towards Eiji, heard his yell of "Electrode, flash", and watched the six 'pokeballs' increase a hundredfold in size as everything slowly faded to white.