Battle in the Shipyard
We walk for a while. Keith is keeping an eye out for anywhere well-suited for a battle, and I seem to be as well. But my attention is still trapped by the insane amount of pressure that comes from taking in my surroundings. It seems like every new building or street I see brings back a new memory, all of them painful.
“See anywhere you want to fight?”
Keith’s voice pierces through my miserable cloud of memories.
“Yeah, sorry. I just can’t focus.”
“You’re the one who wanted to battle. Let’s make it somewhere you want to see again.”
I nod. There’s the old Battle Tent in town, but who knows if that’s still standing. I never really liked that place, anyway. It was always cramped and stuffy in there. We’re walking along one of the main streets, going south, towards the shipyard and the beach.
My father is a boat builder by trade. Before the evacuation, he had been one of the overseers down at the shipyard. Sometimes Michael and I would come and visit him after school, with our mother when we were young but by ourselves when we got older. A lot of the people there recognized us, and knew us as the boss’ cute kids…
“How about the shipyard?” I speak the words before I realize they’re in my head. It just seems logical for some reason. Keith nods.
“Sounds good.” He gives me a look that suggests curiosity about why I chose the place I did, but he doesn’t press any further.
The building itself is intact. A few windows are broken, but otherwise it looks fine from outside. Keith suggests we have the battle outside, though, and I don’t object. The yard itself is littered with splintered chunks of wood and metal, the obliterated pieces of boats that had still been works in progress. It’s a little sad to see them this way, but I force myself to fix my attention on what’s happening. Keith has found a clearing that we can use as a battlefield.
The clearing is about 20 feet wide, roughly circular, with one of the few lengths of cobblestone pavement that still seems intact. Keith stays at the end nearer to the road we followed to get here, allowing me to walk to the end nearer to the sea. I walk to the far edge, and turn. I feel a soft wind blow at my back, and it comforts me. It gives me courage, too. At least some things in Slateport haven’t changed. I take off my cap and undo my ponytail, letting my dirty blonde hair get blown by the breeze. It still smells like it should. Salty and fresh and sunny and invigorating and beautiful. It still smells like home.
“So,” Keith speaks from across the clearing. “You said you’re still pretty new to battling, right?”
“Yeah, but like I said, I want you to prove how good you are. Don’t hold back.” I’m surprised how courageous I feel. The only battles I’ve had have been mock skirmishes with Kara and her Pokemon, a Wingull named Scout. I don’t know how strong Keith is, but it’s sure to be tough. But I’m ready.
“Honestly,” he says with a laugh, “I don’t think I can afford to hold back. Your Poekmon are from Pacifidlog, right? The waters are rough there, so they have to be naturally strong to survive.
I had never really thought about this, but I suppose it’s true. Rosa was a birthday present and Dad caught me Charybdis, and all I had to compare them to was whatever I could find swimming around in the water, except for battles with Kara. Even in those fights, my Pokemon did seem to show a lot of strength from the get-go. I grin, letting myself get a little cocky. The wind changes, and hair blows into my mouth. I spit it out, and Keith laughs. I do too.
“Okay, so you have two Pokemon, right? So we’ll do a two-on-two battle.”
I hesitate. “That’s not the same as a double battle, right?” He grins.
“No, no. Single battle, two Pokemon each.” I nod okay, trying to hide my embarrassment for not knowing this. I reach into my pocket, extracting my two poke balls. I look at them, considering. I look up for a moment, and see him holding an ultra ball in his hand, watching me. He’s already chosen.
I know how more strategic battlers categorize Pokemon. Technically speaking, I have one wall and one sweeper. Good to know my duo is balanced. I decide that, since I know nothing about my opponents team, it might be best to lean to the side of caution. I make my choice, slipping the other poke ball back into my pocket. I give him a nod.
We throw our balls, and our Pokemon appear in a wave of red light. On my side is Sable, a Mawile with fangs just as sharp on her face as on the second mouth dangling off her head. Her Pokemon is a Corsola, which I remember watching swim alongside the boat earlier this morning. I appreciate that she has some strategy, knowing to start on the defensive until she gains an understanding of my team. Very smart for a rookie.
“Okay, Sable, let’s go straight for the offensive. Lunge in for a bite!” Sable nods, dashes forward, jumps, and swings her body around, letting the jaws on her head open wide for the attack.
Tess gives her order just in time, and her Corsola, already seeing the oncoming attack, recoils, bracing its hard shell for the attack. Sable’s jaws clamp tightly around the Pokemon, squeezing tight before releasing and stepping back.
“Are you okay, Rosa?” The Corsola looks back towards her trainer, and gives a chirp as if to say yes. Tess smiles. “Good girl.”
“Trust your Pokemon.” I advise. “If you trust each other, you’ll be able to tell when she’s in pain.” Tess nods.
“Right. Okay. Rosa, hit it with a Spike cannon!” Rosa leans forward, gathering energy in its horn. But I know Sable is ready. As Rosa fires white, spike shaped energy bursts, Sable steps back, nodding her head forward to allow the jaw on her head to flop in front of her, acting as a shield. She braces herself and takes each blast without flinching.
“Sable’s a steel-type.” I tell my opponent. “A normal-type move like Spike cannon, although strong, is at a heavy disadvantage.” Tess looks surprised for a moment, but recovers quickly.
“Okay then, hit it with a bubblebeam!” This second command takes me by surprise, but I’m prepared. This is the defining moment.
“Sable, get ready! Give it your guard-and-counter!”
I’ll admit, this is one of my favorite moments of any battle with Sable. Sable sprints forward into the face of the attack, allowing Rosa to get a little cocky, thinking that her opponent is a fool. Rosa unleashes her jet burst of bubbles, and Sable is ready. She leaps forward on one foot, and, in one graceful spin, unleashes a curved Protect made of hexagonal window panes of energy, which generate and degenerate with the full forward revolution of her body. When she faces her opponent again, she plants her lifted leg forward, lunging her opposite arm into Rosa for a Brick Break strike, straight to the face. The strike sends Rosa flying, skidding into the dirt just a few inches from Tess’ feet. The whole strike only takes a second to pull off, but time always seems to slow down during moments like this.
Sable steps back, not taking her eyes off her opponent. She knows not to get cocky from one strike, even if that strike might have finished her opponent in one blow. Tess’ face is one of shock. She bends down, putting a hand on her Pokemon.
“Rosa, are you okay?” The Pokemon moves, still conscious. She wobbles her way to her feet, and stands, heaving for breath. There’s a large chip on her horn, which I’ll probably have apologize for later. She tries to step forward, but keels over onto her side, fainted.
“Rosa!” Tess cries, running forward to pick up her Pokemon.
“She’ll be okay.” I reassure her. “Pokemon can take an insane amount of damage and recover from it. That’s how battling is even possible.” Tess nods, still looking concerned. She stands up, and returns Rosa to her ball.
“How did you do that?” She asks, a bit of shock still in her voice. “How did your Pokemon know to do that? It was so fast, so fluid…your Mawile’s amazing.”
“It just comes from training.” I say, with a shrug. “After fighting alongside your Pokemon for a while, a bond starts to develop between you. It’s kind of hard to explain, but its like your Pokemon knows how to do what you want it to right as you say it. You and your Pokemon start to think the same in different situations. Sable and I know our strategies back to front, and so we both instantly know what do to in a pinch.”
“Wow…” She looks down, as if she’s ashamed.
‘Don’t be hard on yourself,” I reassure her. “It takes a lot of time to forge that bond. I’ve been with my Pokemon for years. Once you’ve been around the block some more, I know you’ll be just as good.” I give her a smile. “I can give you some more tips along the way, but for now let’s keep fighting, okay?”
“Right.” She nods, returning her focus to the battle at hand. She’s taking in new information well. She’s a fast learner. “Let’s go, Charybdis!”
The Horsea comes out of it’s ball already looking like a formidable opponent. Sable had an advantage on Rosa with Brick Break, but this guy may be a bit more of a challenge. It watches Sable carefully as it rocks back and forth on its spiraled tail, and I notice the shape of the fins on its head. They curve with the shape of the Horsea’s skull, almost touching at the back. I recall hearing froma fisherman I used to train with that this was a sign of Horsea that were thought of as soldiers within the colonies in which they lived. This feature can indicate that a Horsea is more instinctively adept versatile in combat than its peers. I grin, excited to face a new challenge. Tess sees my grin as cockiness, and scowls at me.
“Don’t think you’ll take down Char too easily. Go, use Twister!”
With great agility, the Horsea begins spinning, whipping up a whirlwind. I see it spit bits of hot blue flame into the wind, which begins to blaze with power. Charybdis stops himself sharply, sending the twister flying into Sable before she can dodge. The strength of the whirlwind lifts her off her feet, battering her around in its gusts before spitting her out. As the twister subsides, Sable stands, battered and bruised but still able to fight.
“Impressive,” I admit, “but not quite enough to take us down! Go in for a Vicegrip!” Sable lunges forward, reaching her head jaw out like an arm. Charybdis tries to dodge, but can’t hop out of the way. Sable’s jaws clamp around the Horsea’s small, blue body. It wriggles around in pain, but can’t break free of the iron grip. I look to Tess, and can see she’s thinking.
“Water gun to the face, Char!” The Horsea stops resisting, instead putting its full attention into spewing a forceful blast of water into Sable’s face. Sable, surprised as well as injured, recoils, dropping Charybdis.
“Now, quickly! Another water gun, and make this one count!”
Charybdis, now able to focus on the attack without the pain of the vice grip, sucks in a huge breath of air, arches it’s body backwards, and then thrusts it’s head forward, unleashing an even bigger stream of water. The impact knocks Sable off her feet, and after the torrent subsides she struggles to stand back up again. Her yellow fur is completely soaked, and the added weight plus the power of the attack are too much for her to bear, and she falls. Tess smiles.
“See? I told you Char was good.”
“I never doubted it,” I say, returning Sable. “You have a really strong one there. He’s probably close to evolving, too. But now it’s time to pull out the big gu-”
“Hey! Stop him!”
I turn to see who the shouting is coming from. Two P.F.H agents are running down the main street, in hot pursuit of a grimly familiar boy in a red jacket.
“Oh no,” I say with a sigh. “What did you do this time, Jacob?”