Chapter 25: Battle of Dragons
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
Three weeks passed after Okuni joined the Resistance and took control of Spectra. Our next efforts were focused on the remaining kingdom of the northern peninsula: Dragnor.
“Dragnor is a kingdom hidden in the mountains of the north,” Hanzo explained to me. “It is not a very prosperous kingdom, but it is home to some of the strongest and most powerful warriors in Ransei. Wild dragon pokémon rule this land, and the humans beside them draw strength from them in battle.”
“The previous warlord was Nobunaga, the man who once led us,” continued Ina. “He was once fabled to be the Conqueror of Ransei. After Lord Nagamasa took the kingdoms from him and united Ransei himself, he and Nobunaga made a ceasefire pact, ending the wars in Ransei for a brief period of time. The people of Dragnor still revere Nobunaga as a Hero of Ransei.”
“So who’s the warlord now?” I asked.
“One of Nobunaga’s personal officers, Masahide,” said Hanzo. “He may have had a hand in Nobunaga’s death, but he carries a lot of Dragnor’s traditions that were laid out by Nobunaga. He won’t challenge you for the kingdom without it being a fair fight.”
“A fair fight, huh?” I echoed. “So is he friendly?”
“Don’t underestimate him, Lord Shuichi,” said Ina. “He has a neutrality agreement with Lord Takahiro and the Resistance, but he will not hesitate to kill anyone who opposes him. What Hanzo means by ‘fair fight’ is that he won’t agree to a challenge that is unfavorable to him or you. He will prove he can defeat you on equal terms.”
“And despite our training, my lord, your technique with kusarigama is still average,” said Hanzo. “Defeating you will not be a problem for him at all.”
I gulped. I know it’s probably best to wait and continue training, but we had to also worry about whether or not the other kingdoms would attack us. We had to take the offensive.
“Is there any chance that I can manage to defeat him then?” I asked.
My two retainers pondered as they thought about the odds.
“Masahide is a master of dragon pokémon, just like many other officers in Dragnor,” said Ina. “However, his tactics always led him to use the strongest of them as tools of war. His link with any particular pokémon is generally very weak. You may be able to win if the bond you share with your pokémon is stronger.”
“Yes, but if it’s a fair fight he wants, he will probably challenge you to use another dragon type pokémon,” said Hanzo. “From what I can tell, Lord Shuichi, you don’t have a dragon affinity. Do you even have a dragon pokémon that has bonded with you?”
I reached for the worn pokéball that contained Mei Jia’s Dragonair. She was my only dragon pokémon. I only fought alongside this pokémon once in a team battle, and I was never in command of her. It goes without saying that our link was not very strong.
Amy, who was also with us, grasped both the pokéball and my hand with hers.
“It’ll be all right,” she said, smiling warmly. “Erika entrusted you with Mei Jia’s pokémon for a reason, Shuichi; and I’m sure she is fighting with you in spirit, always.”
I didn’t expect Amy to say these words. She may have been Mei’s big sister, but she knew that Mei was also my first love.
“Why, Amy?” I said worriedly. “Why are you still insisting that I’m in love with Mei?”
Amy shook her head.
“Because I have accepted that I am her replacement, now that she’s gone; and she left me behind too.”
I never realized that’s how Amy felt about herself. She is my girlfriend only out of an obligation for Mei. But that wasn’t the reason I became her boyfriend.
“Nothing can ever replace Mei,” I said as I embraced Amy tightly. “And that is why I’m your boyfriend now, Amy. Because I’m in love with you.”
I held her head toward mine and kissed her. Amy is a genius as a pokémon trainer, but she is also insecure about our relationship. Sometimes I simply had to remind her that all I care about is her now, and her alone.
“In any case, we should get going, Shuichi,” said Amy, still blushing. “Let’s go to Dragnor.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Since Dragnor had a neutrality agreement with the Resistance and Lord Takahiro’s army, we had no trouble entering the country as distinguished guests of Lord Masahide. I came to this region accompanied by Amy and Hanzo.
The people of Dragnor were far different from the people of Valora or Spectra. The men were burly and fit, and the women appeared to be just as aggressive. There weren’t that many children around either, but the few that were around engaged in “playful” activities, such as wrestling or sparring. And all of the pokémon were strong dragon and ice types.
I’m not sure whether it was the humans who made their pokémon strong or if it was the natural instincts of the pokémon that made them strong; but either way, Dragnor was not a nation for the weak, despite their relatively impoverished way of life.
When we approached the gate, Hanzo’s Gengar trembled at the sight of the pokémon that greeted us. Two Aggrons, who are not dragon types, raised the gate to let us in.
“Ah, I’ve been expecting you, Lord Ginkgo,” said a slender man in the middle of the courtyard.
Hanzo immediately knelt down and bowed to the man before us.
“It’s a pleasure to be here once again, Lord Masahide.”
“No way!” said Amy. “That man is the warlord of this nation? That can’t be right!”
Unlike the other burly men we saw in Dragnor, Lord Masahide appeared to be more like a pacifist. He appeared to be very thin and almost pale. His rounded glasses had a very thin rim, but were still noticeable on his plain face. Next to him was a Gabite, a dragon and ground type and his pokémon partner. To his right was an attendant and her Deino, a dragon and dark type pokémon.
“How dare you speak so lightly of Lord Masahide!” said Hanzo. “He was one of Lord Nobunaga’s greatest retainers, and he’s the current Lord of Dragnor.”
“Oh, Hanzo, you’ve always been so uptight,” said Masahide. “Yes, I was one of Lord Nobunaga’s retainers, and I did have a hand in his death.”
“Wait a minute, you killed your lord?” I said confused. “Then why does Hanzo continue to respect you like a friend?”
“That’s a complicated matter, Lord Ginkgo. But in short, your retainer here respects me out of fear, and for what I am capable of doing. It takes a powerful man to kill his own lord, but an even more powerful man to respect the former lord’s principles.”
Hanzo didn’t move a muscle or react in any way from what Masahide had to say about him.
“But that’s enough about me,” he continued. “Lord Ginkgo, I’m quite fascinated with you, actually. How does a foreigner like you manage to command the officers of the late Lord Nobunaga without even the slightest knowledge of Ransei’s culture and history? And now that I see you in person, you’re even more fascinating, because you don’t seem very strong or powerful either.”
This is coming from a scrawny guy that looks just like me in stature, but I didn’t want to say that to him.
“Gotoku, I want you to stand by and watch this man carefully,” he commanded his attendant. “I will examine him for myself. See what Lord Ginkgo is truly worthy enough to be a threat to Lord Takahiro.”
Hanzo scoffed as he slowly returned to an upright position.
“So, he really is working for Lord Takahiro after all,” he muttered. “Lord Shuichi, you’re not capable of challenging Lord Masahide in at your current skill. Allow me to challenge him in your place.”
“I think not, Hanzo!” interjected Masahide. “This is a battle for the kingdom Dragnor. It’s only right that a warlord challenges another warlord for the throne.”
Gotoku and her Deino stepped back to the edge of the courtyard. Hanzo and Amy reluctantly did the same.
“We will battle with one pokémon and one weapon each. The weapon can be anything you choose, but the pokémon must be a dragon type. I trust that you have your own dragon pokémon, for someone who appears as intelligent as you.”
Lord Masahide is probably not familiar with customs outside of Ransei, but since I was wearing the chain mail lab coat Erika gave me, he wasn’t very far off. I held the worn pokéball in my hand and released it.
“Ah, so you do have a dragon type after all,” said Masahide. “And it’s a Dragonair at that. You must be quite a strong warrior to have trained a Dratini to this level.”
Masahide drew his katana and prepared for battle. I released my item ball and held my own weapon, Ginkgo no kusari. My opponent looked impressed.
“For someone as scrawny as you, you can wield such a terrifying weapon? There really is more to you than what my scouts have told me, but can you use it properly?”
Without another word, I spun a length of the chain in my right hand and glanced at my Dragonair, Mei’s Dragonair.
I’m sorry I haven’t trained you in this kind of battle yet, I thought. I hope that I can be a strong trainer for you, as Mei was.
With a loud battle cry, I charged directly at Lord Masahide. He took a defensive stance and readied his blade to parry my first strike. His Gabite leaped forward and ignored me. This was expected, since the pokémon generally feel more threatened by other pokémon than by humans, and was probably going after Dragonair.
I didn’t know what else to expect, so I turned my head to see what had happened. Gabite held its claws out for a direct attack, but my pokémon just laid coiled on the ground, poised as ever.
“Dragonair, defend yourself!” I shouted.
The Dragonair didn’t budge. Gabite took a slash at her and caused considerable damage. I turned again to my opponent, but he had already reached my distance, still in a defensive position. I threw the chain on my right to disarm his blade.
But then with haste, Masahide shifted the blade to his opposite hand and repositioned it so that it could not get caught in my attack. Then he took the katana in that one hand and took a swing at my unguarded left side. Normally katanas are held with two hands, but thanks to Hanzo’s training I know better than to get caught in that kind of surprise.
With Ginkgo no kusari’s second fan-shaped blade in my left hand I blocked his strike in time before he can finish me off. He swung again with the same hand, but this time aimed for my right. I pulled the chain in my right and caught the first blade in time to parry his next attack.
With both blades in my hands, I went on the offensive and tried attacking him with melee strikes instead. Masahide however, had no trouble defending himself against any of my attacks. Was I truly this slow against a warlord?
Masahide swung again, this time with both hands on his katana. I blocked the strike again with my left blade, but the impact was too great for me to defend completely. The left blade fell out of my hand and I was left with the right blade, dangling from a heavy chain left dragging on the ground.
I reached for the chain with my free hand, but Masahide stepped on the other fan-shaped blade, tethering it to the ground. With a quick slash, he held his blade to my neck without slashing into my flesh completely. The blade was held by only a few centimeters from my neck, but it felt like my body took a direct hit. I could not move.
“I thought you and I were alike, Lord Ginkgo,” said Masahide, “but it seems that this is all you’ve got. How predictable.”
I lowered my hands in defeat. How could I defeat someone who was faster and stronger than me? I looked at my pokémon who had struggled in a fight of her own. But then as I saw her battle, I realized that there was more to this battle than just Lord Masahide and his Gabite; and that I had an ace on my side also.
Dragonair had been fighting Gabite for as long as we have been fighting, but unlike me, she had the upper hand. Gabite had looked tired and beaten, struggling to stand up, while Dragonair had coiled calmly to prepare for another counter attack. I knew that Erika had been taking care of this pokémon ever since Mei passed away, but how much did she actually train her? I only saw her battle with the pokémon once, and that was during a team battle with my old Vileplume. How strong was this Dragonair while she was trained under Mei’s care?
“Well then, your Dragonair is quite a formidable opponent, isn’t it?” said Masahide. “So there is something special about you after all.”
Masahide stood back in awe of Mei’s Dragonair. My Dragonair. His Gabite stood up and charged at Dragonair, but at a significantly lower pace than before. Gabite was weaker, and so was Masahide, like pokémon, like warrior.
As Masahide dropped his guard, I yanked the chain he had stepped on and retrieved my other blade. I spun the blade in my left hand for another disarming attack. Thanks to Hanzo’s training, I can use both hands to spin a length of chain now. Still, however, I’m not in very good control with my left hand, so I primarily use my right to attack. Spinning a chain with my left serves a different purpose.
Dragonair uncoiled herself to prepare for an offensive move. I slowed down the momentum in my left hand and returned to a melee stance. And with unrehearsed perfect timing, we roared together as loudly as we could.
“What’s going on, Shuichi?” asked Amy in awe of my pokémon and me.
As Dragonair and I synchronized our breathing, I focused on the warrior in front of me and honed my senses to predict any of his defensive tactics.
Hanzo has helped me awaken my own warrior ability. By swinging the chain in my left hand, I can use this ability to increase Dragonair’s power. The people of Ransei call this empowerment “adrenaline,” but because of the affinity I share with my pokémon, there is a different power that is drawn when I do this. Rather than the warrior empowering their pokémon, the pokémon and I empower each other. I call this ability “chain link.”
Dragonair leaped from her tail into the air and somersaulted over Gabite to slam the opponent into the ground. I swung the chain in my right hand for another attack on Masahide. He braced for my attack by holding his katana with both hands; something I had already anticipated.
Aiming at his right flank, I hurled the chain and tethered it to his blade. As expected, he tried holding onto it as tightly as he could. I held tightly to the other blade in my left hand so he wouldn’t be able to move either. While Masahide and I tugged against each other, I grinned knowing that my strategy was successful thus far.
“Now Dragonair, aim your hyper beam at Masahide!” I shouted.
“Hyper beam? Since when do you announce your attacks in a warrior battle?” asked Masahide.
My opponent mocked me in confusion, as warriors often communicate wordlessly with their pokémon; but either way, he could not escape Dragonair’s next attack.
With Gabite lying unconscious, Dragonair drew her focus on Masahide and fired the hyper beam. Without hesitation, my enemy dropped his katana and jumped back to avoid getting a direct hit. I braced myself from the collateral effects from the hyper beam by ducking away from the ranged attack. As the effects subsided, I ran toward Masahide and pinned him down, holding my right blade to his neck. The battle came to a decisive end.
“You truly are a fascinating person, Lord Ginkgo,” said Masahide. “Of all the battles I’ve ever had with warriors, never have I seen one draw power from their pokémon. It’s as if you are a pokémon fighting with them.”
“I’m honored to hear that, Lord Masahide.”
“So why, Lord Ginkgo? Why are you leading this group of degenerate warlord officers and taking the lands back from Lord Takahiro? What does a foreigner like you have to offer Ransei?”
“I study warlords where I come from, and one thing I have learned is that true warriors fight for the honor of their beliefs first and their lords second. I was brought to Ransei to honor a man I had admired, a man who taught me to value my pokémon like family, and to respect even my enemies with highest regards. That man was allegedly killed by Lord Takahiro. I don’t know what my officers from the Resistance intend on doing by taking these kingdoms, but if it means I will draw attention from him, then I will lead them to victory. You see, my officers share one thing in common with me, and that is their undying loyalty to their pokémon and each other.”
“That’s absurd. They only believe that because they were once followers of Lord Nobunaga. As one of his officers, I knew how ruthless he was toward the warriors of this land. He was feared by many, and your officers intend to restore that fear through your ‘Resistance!’ Lord Takahiro is kind and harbors a strong link to his pokémon. He is the future of our warlord culture!”
“Are you sure about that, Masahide?” said Hanzo, as he approached us.
“Watch your tongue, Hanzo!” said Masahide. “I am a warlord!”
“Not anymore. Lord Ginkgo and the Resistance claims Dragnor now. Your laws and your people have already regarded him. You see, Masahide, Dragnor has always been loyal to Lord Nobunaga, no matter how ruthless he was. While Lord Ginkgo here doesn’t really look or act like Lord Nobunaga, the fact remains that they share the same philosophy in fighting alongside their pokémon. You should know that, of course.”
“As a matter of fact I do,” said Masahide with a grin. “Gotoku, it seems that I’ve gotten enough information from Lord Ginkgo now. I shall make my way to Illusio and let Lord Takahiro know as well.”
“Of course, my lord,” said Gotoku.
“Lord Ginkgo, I hope you enjoy your castle in Dragnor. I will be taking it back from you soon enough! You see, I have another pokémon far stronger than my Gabite, and just like you, I have found ways to share my power with it.”
Masahide snapped his fingers and one of the courtyard walls collapsed. Behind the wall was a huge, terrifying dragon pokémon trailed by lightning bolts. Hanzo trembled at the sight of this creature, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“But that’s Lord Nobunaga’s pokémon,” he said. “The legendary Zekrom, the Guardian of Ideals! What do you plan to do with him, Masahide?”
“You’ll find out in due time, Hanzo,” said Masahide as he mounted Zekrom. “Come, Gotoku, Lord Takahiro is waiting!”
Zekrom and Masahide flew off through the wall they had burst open and Gotoku used a smoke ball, allowing them to escape. I returned Dragonair to her pokéball and had a look around at my new castle.
The inner courtyard where we had been standing had considerable damage, and to make matters worse, Masahide had left his Gabite behind.
“Amy, I want you to check on his pokémon,” I said.
Without hesitation, Amy approached the Gabite and checked his vitals.
“He’s alive, but I don’t know if he can recover from the damage that was dealt to him,” she said.
“I know. And without pokémon center technology in Ransei, who knows how we can tend to those wounds?”
“That’s not what I’m talking about, Shuichi.”
Amy’s professional side has never been appealing to me, but when she enters that personality, I always had to take her seriously.
“This Gabite can never recover from the loss of his trainer.”