Chapter 13: Farewell to Friends
Fan fiction inspired by Pokemon
Rating: Young Adult
As soon as Brian recovered, we rode on a plane back to the Kanto region and moved back to my studio apartment in Celadon City. Brian was very finicky about coming with me, but he calmed down after Prof. Juniper had explained the situation to him. We arrived Thursday afternoon, just in time for the tea ceremony class at the gym.
“We just got back here, and you’re already leaving?” asked Brian.
I rummaged through my closet to look for my kimono.
“Of course, I would never miss a chance at drinking delicious tea,” I said. “Besides, the gym leader’s expecting me to be there today. Care to join me?”
“No, I don’t want to go,” pouted Brian as he looked away from my direction. “I’m still pretty tired.”
I dressed myself quickly into the required attire.
“Very well then. I’ll leave my Poliwhirl to help you with setting up your room. You will be staying here with me until further notice from Prof. Juniper.”
I released Poliwhirl and instructed him to help Brian straighten out a space for his futon. I said my goodbyes and headed for the gym with Vileplume.
Walking around Celadon City has always been a very surreal experience to me. So many people and their pokémon walk along the sidewalks, so it was easy for me to blend in. Some districts had warehouses filled with who knows what, while others had towering skyscrapers that looked like they could extend forever. The residential neighborhoods consisted of various houses almost identical to each other, while others had new apartment complexes that sprung up to accomodate the growing population. In the afternoon, kids were coming back from their schools and raided restaurants and lounging areas until their parents got out of work to take them home. Such a scene where children are playing together is nostalgia for days gone by, but not for me.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I enrolled in a cram school after my journey across the Kanto region had ended. Nathan was already well on his way into the Johto region as Amy continued to train for the next championship. Mei had also left Celadon City to go on a journey of her own. The rest of the girls at the gym were there, but I did not go back nearly as often as I used to. I was busy studying.
Back then, most teenagers my age decided to pick up pokémon training and therefore did not have to go to school, so there weren’t very many schools to choose from for older students. Despite its size, Celadon City only had one major cram school when I was growing up, and it was for adult learners. These adults stopped training pokémon seriously and went back to school in order to study to become professionals in other fields. While there were some teenagers who would enroll in school after their elementary years, most of my classmates were over the age of twenty; some even as old as my parents.
Regardless, I felt very lonely during these cram school years. I did not associate with many of my older classmates, and the ones my age always made fun of my Gloom, who had attended some classes with me because she remained outside her pokéball. Classes were usually let out in the evening, so the gym was already closed. When cram school sessions were over, I often went straight home because there was nothing left for me to do.
Things were a little livelier when I got home. Mom and dad would be done with their work and be home in time for dinner. Mom would make her special sweet tea and dad would provide by cooking our main course. My parents believed in cooperation for household duties, so they often worked together like this. Because I had no siblings, the three of us ate together at a small dining table. Gloom and Poliwag ate nearby and would run around outside at dusk. In the summer months, mom and dad would also take advantage of the longer days to play tennis against each other and occasionally I would join in. They were both incredible tennis players, so they always found a way to beat me.
By night time, I always expected a video call from Mei during her travels. She likes to keep me updated on what she was doing, how her pokémon have been, and of course, make sure that I was still doing okay back at home.
Occasionally I also received video calls from Nathan who would brag about his pokémon and the amazing things he does on his journey, never giving me a chance to talk to him about me. Not that it was important. Compared to Nathan’s life, my life was boring and at a standstill.
“Hey Shuichi, guess what?” he said excitingly one night.
I glared at my camera with a glazed, unimpressed look.
“What is it this time, Nathan?”
“I just got my eighth badge here in the Johto region! Just in time for this month’s Pokémon League! It was amazing. Hitmonchan delivered an awesome performance against some pretty strong dragon pokémon. You should’ve seen it. Ice punch!”
Nathan imitated his Hitmonchan as he shouted nonsense and punched at invisible targets. I noticed that people around the video phone receiver started looking at him funny. I almost wanted to laugh, but that would only encourage him to do it more.
“Anyway, I want you to be there at the Johto Pokémon League tournament this time around. Maybe seeing me win that title will encourage you to get out of your funk and train your pokémon some more. Has your Gloom evolved yet?”
I looked at my newly evolved Vileplume sleeping in the corner of my living room, where the video phone receiver was placed.
“I guess,” I said. “I left her at Celadon City Gym one day and she came back just like that. Sometimes those girls do some crazy things to my pokémon.”
“Awesome! We should battle when you come here! Don’t worry. I know you only have a few pokémon now, so we’ll just have a one-on-one fair fight! But regardless, please come this year!”
I looked on my calendar. It was summer vacation, so I didn’t have any classes. Mom and dad would probably want me to play tennis, but I didn’t feel like having them beat me again and rub it in my face. They like to do that a lot.
“Yeah, I’ll go.”
“Excellent! I’ll see you at the Indigo Plateau then, just like old times. Later!”
He hung up on me in an instant. Guess he decided fore me to see him there.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I arrived at the Indigo Plateau, the competition had already started. It seemed that Nathan had already passed through the four qualifying rounds and made it into the elimination brackets. I did not notice anyone else from this tournament because many of them were from the Johto region in the west. I spotted Nathan at the gates to the stadium by himself.
“Well, looks like you finally showed up,” said Nathan. “Not to worry. You’re going to see an amazing performance as I take down my opponent with all six of my pokémon.”
“Attention trainers,” said a voice over the PA system. “The next round of elimination matches will begin in fifteen minutes. Will the following trainers please proceed to your appropriate stations.”
As the voice over the PA system announced the names, Nathan’s name came up.
“Sorry, bud, looks like we’ll have to catch up some other time,” Nathan shrugged.
With that he left to go to his station at the stadium to prepare for his next battle. I went to the observation deck to watch his match, with only my Vileplume to accompany me.
Nathan’s battle raged on as my section cheered either for him or his opponent. Pokémon by pokémon, they knocked each other out in an even match. The opponent continued to keep a calm demeanor. According to the statistics, he was a seasoned veteran who had competed in the Johto League several times, but had never won. To have Nathan come up through the ranks to equal him as a first-time competitor in the Johto League was certainly an amazing feat.
The last match came down to Nathan’s Skarmory and the opponent’s Scizor. Although both pokémon were steel types, Skarmory had a clear advantage as a flying type to Scizor’s bug attribute. The trainers each commanded their pokémon to use agility, making the combatants too fast to make any predictions of their movements. Each pokémon missed each other for direct attacks and it seemed like this fight would continue in that direction. Then suddenly–
“Scizor, use your fury cutter!” shouted the opponent.
The Scizor made a surprising move by stopping its attack on Skarmory and went straight for Nathan! This was normally against the Pokémon League rules, because pokémon were only supposed to attack other pokémon; but because the movements of each combatant was so fast, it could not have been clear whether or not that was the Scizor’s intentions. Clearly Nathan’s opponent was taking a gamble at causing a violation.
But the moment Nathan braced for impact against the Scizor’s attack, Skarmory flew quickly to Nathan’s side to protect him. Nathan was just as surprised as I was when it happened, but the opponent expected it, with a big grin on his face.
“You got ’em now!” he said excitedly. “Now finish it off with guillotine!”
Scizor slashed Skarmory’s neckline, keeping her from attacking again. Skarmory’s skin had a steel outer-layer, so she lived, but the battle had already been decided. Nathan had lost the battle. The section around me cheered at such an incredible battle, but I knew that Nathan felt a great deal of agony from that match. After all of his work as a trainer, he had lost.
I met up with him outside of the stadium after the match. Nathan was already on the outskirts of the Indigo Plateau with his prized Hitmonchan and Skarmory released. Hitmonchan jabbed the Skarmory several times while the bird pokémon took each blow without even flinching. He had been abusing his pokémon.
“How could you lose, Skarmory?” Nathan shouted. “You were so strong in the preliminary rounds, and this is what you do in our first match of the final rounds?”
Vileplume and I ran toward Nathan to try and stop him. Hitmonchan delivered a final blow as Skarmory fell to the ground, unable to stand up or move.
“What a worthless pokémon,” said Nathan.
“Haven’t you had enough?” I butted in. “Skarmory did its best to protect you, Nathan. And this is how you thank it?”
“All my pokémon know that I can handle any pokémon one-on-one if it attacked me. She had no reason to keep me from harm. Even if I got hurt, I would’ve stopped the Scizor in time for her to win the match for me. No pain, no gain, is what I like to say.”
“Even so, she did her best to fight for you. Don’t you ever forget that!”
“Doing her best to fight? Don’t make me laugh, Shuichi. Doing your best does not make you any stronger than the opponent’s best, unless you are the strongest pokémon of all. I aim to become the strongest pokémon trainer. And only the strongest pokémon are worthy enough to battle with me.”
“But Skarmory is strong, Nathan. Despite her battle with Scizor; despite getting beaten by Hitmonchan; despite being punished by her trainer; she still has the tenacity to be faithful to you!”
“Enough with your stupid poetry, Shuichi! Who are you to say how I raise my pokémon? You haven’t even been training for the past two years!”
“I stopped training to stop people like you from becoming monsters. But it seems that I have already failed. You’re just like Jared.”
“How dare you speak of him now! I challenge you to a one-on-one battle, Shuichi! Your Vileplume against my Hitmonchan! Then you will see that I am the strongest!”
I tried to decline the offer by turning away, but Vileplume readied her battle position. I haven’t seen her insist on battling in a long time.
“No, Vileplume, get back here!”
Vileplume and Hitmonchan charged at each other and traded blows. Nathan encouraged his pokémon to continue attacking, while I stood still in fear, wondering what would happen to Vileplume once it was all over.
“That’s enough, Vileplume, return now!” I shouted.
But my Vileplume didn’t listen.
“Don’t bother, Shuichi,” said Nathan. “Your Vileplume has turned to her natural instincts. Pokémon are meant to battle each other; and you will see that mine will come on top. Now Hitmonchan, use ice punch!”
The Hitmonchan conjured ice around one of his fists and focused on Vileplume, but then Vileplume dodged it and jumped away. She then sprouted pink petals from her bud and used the petal dance attack. Hitmonchan had stopped in his tracks, looking around to regain his balance. With that, Vileplume charged at her dazed opponent one last time and knocked him out. Hitmonchan was not unconscious, but it was clear that he could no longer defeat Vileplume.
Nathan lowered his head in defeat.
“How?” Nathan muttered. “How can a weak trainer like you have a pokémon stronger than me?”
I didn’t know how to answer. I was just as surprised as he was that Vileplume could overcome such a strong opponent.
“No, I won’t accept it,” said Nathan. “Hitmonchan, attack Shuichi with everything you’ve got!”
Hitmonchan charged at me, just as the Scizor had attacked Nathan in the match. I prepared to block the attack, knowing that I would probably be knocked out. But without even a chance to blink, Skarmory rushed in front of me and shielded the attack with her wings. Hitmonchan came into contact with the bird and knocked her out again. Nathan screamed in a wrathful frustration.
“I’m leaving, Shuichi,” he said. “I’m going to become even stronger someday. Don’t bother trying to call me or look for me either. Goodbye.”
Nathan returned his Hitmonchan and went his own separate way. Vileplume and I were left behind along with his battered Skarmory.
“Why, Vileplume?” I cried. “Why won’t you listen to me?”
Vileplume ignored me and ran up to the beaten Skarmory. She then released a sweet, soothing aroma from her bud to relieve the injured bird. I picked up the pokéball that Nathan had left behind and returned his abandoned pokémon.
After healing Skarmory at the pokémon center, I attempted to release her back to the wild. Despite my pleas, she refused and stayed by my side. There was no use in letting her go back to a life without humans; and there was no way she could return to Nathan. He was already long gone.
I decided to keep Skarmory and raise her as one of my own.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It wasn’t until much later that I realized what went on that day. Vileplume disobeyed my command, but not because she was not loyal to me. Erika assured me that Vileplume did it to teach someone a lesson. Not only was she teaching Nathan a lesson about what it means to be strong, but she wanted to teach me that I could not always run away from my problems.
I never saw Nathan again after that, but I would learn about his fate four years later when attended the university as an undergrad student. I started interning at the Special Investigation Department, which investigated several criminal cases that involved pokémon. Around this time, the infamous Team Rocket had disbanded and hearings were presented at my school to determine what would become of its members. During the hearings, some documents came up, which included the names of all Team Rocket members who had been killed during their service as members of the crime organization. Nathan’s name was on that list.
According to further hearings, Nathan was part of the Legendary Pokémon Division, a group within Team Rocket that specialized in catching rare and legendary pokémon. It wasn’t clear whether Nathan had encountered such a powerful pokémon or if he was eventually punished by the organization, since both cases were subtly covered in the reports we found and the witnesses who confessed. Regardless, Nathan was killed during his service to Team Rocket.
And I had lost my best friend.