Chapter 21: Sunday at the Gym
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon
Rating: Young Adult
Brian stayed at my parents’ house on Sunday. I got up early to meet with Erika at the gym.
Sundays were reserved for a private event that only a few members of our gym knew about. While senior and junior members alike spread rumors about who might know or what goes on, nothing was ever clear on what happens on Sundays. What is clear, however, is that it is the one day out of the week that only members who know are allowed to enter the gym and no challengers are allowed to compete for the Rainbow badge either. Now, I would get to witness such a unique occasion in the life of gym leader Erika.
“Lady Erika has been waiting for you,” said the senior member who guarded the front door.
I bowed and straightened out my kimono as I walked into the gym that morning. Vileplume followed.
I found Erika waiting for me in her private den. She was in her typical kneeling position wearing a kimono. Erika often wore kimonos, but only on days when she had to act formally. Such days included times during the poetry class and tea ceremony class sessions or the senior member examination. For all other times in the week, however, she dressed casually. Why would she be wearing one on a Sunday, during an occasion that only she and special members like me would witness?
“Glad you could make it, Shu-chan,” she greeted me as I stepped into the room. “Today I will be training you in one of my special classes.”
“Special class?” I asked. “What kind of class?”
“You will find out soon enough. But first, we should probably change our clothes.”
Erika began to undo her obi in front of my eyes. I felt a sudden sense of lust and guilt as she stripped before me. Could it be that this was the special class that she wanted me so eagerly to attend? I shook my head and pinched myself, thinking this was all a dream. As she took off her obi, she loosened her kimono, about to remove it completely as she stood up.
I looked away while closing my eyes, feeling something grow below my waistline.
“We can’t do this, Erika!” I pleaded. “You’re married and I’ve never really looked at you like that! So please forgive me!”
“Okay, I’m ready,” said Erika.
I opened my eyes and turned to Erika. Suddenly my erotic excitement discovered a disappointing surprise. Under Erika’s formal kimono was a female archer’s outfit, complete with the chest protector and a different hakama. Erika folded the kimono she had just taken off, acting as if a lecherous pervert wasn’t even around.
“Shu-chan, you should probably dress in something more comfortable, too,” she said to me. “You’re going to break quite a sweat today.”
My mouth was wide open, in awe and confusion of what exactly just happened. Vileplume gave me a funny look and burst into laughing.
“But,” I stuttered, “what, when, how did you…”
“Really, Shu-chan? You thought I would just let you take advantage of me like that? You’re so naive. You know I’m married, right?”
Erika slid open the door as the attendant from earlier stood by to greet her.
“Please take this elsewhere,” she said to the attendant, handing her kimono. “I won’t be needing it today. Oh, and get Shuichi a change of clothes. Something he could use for a work-out.”
The attendant nodded and walked away. When she came back, she had comfortable masculine clothes in my size for me.
“Wait a minute, how did you–”
“Shu-chan, just forget about it and put them on,” said Erika.
“Sure, but can you leave for a moment? I’m a little shy.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Shu-chan. This is my private den.”
“Can you at least turn around and not look or something?”
“I’ve seen it all, Shu-chan. You do remember the days I had to dress you during kimono practice on Saturdays because the other girls didn’t want you around, don’t you?”
I sighed in disgrace.
“That’s one memory I wish I could forget.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Once I was finished dressing, Erika walked me to the battle room. This time, however, the room was completely revamped and converted into an archery range! Targets were lined up where the bleachers normally would have been. The ground was no longer painted with a pokémon battle field, but had a solid chalked line running on the opposite side, where archers were to stand.
The attendant arrived and brought Erika her bow and quiver with about ten arrows. Erika thanked her as she slung the quiver over her back and rested the bow in her left hand.
“So this is what you do on Sundays?” I asked. “Why make it such a big secret to the girls?”
“This is no ordinary archery class, Shuichi,” she said to me, addressing me more formally than usual. “In fact, you won’t be getting a bow or arrows today.”
I gulped. What did Erika have in store for me here anyway?
“You said that your friend Ai-san fought alongside her pokémon with a shakujo, right?” asked Erika.
“That’s because she has the instincts of a pokémon warrior. Perhaps she is a warrior herself. Maybe even a wealthy and powerful warlord.”
“A warrior?” I asked in confusion. “But I thought those days ended a long time ago.”
“True, pokémon warriors once ruled this world centuries ago, but you can’t deny that it is through their traditions that we have conventional pokémon battles,” explained Erika. “Unlike today’s pokémon battles, warriors fought alongside their pokémon, commanding them as equals on the battlefield. Traditionally a warrior would only have six pokémon with him during a fight.”
“Was that some sort of unspoken rule?”
“It wasn’t a rule; more like a practical setback. Warriors combine their compatible life energy with their pokémon in order to communicate with them wordlessly. Pokémon weren’t as loyal to their masters back then, and trying to control more than six pokémon at a time became a very difficult task for even the strongest people. Other traditions remain, including why we even call a pokémon match a battle, since the warlords often battled with pokémon for land, wealth, or power. The Orange Island League to the south is probably the closest authority that continues to have trainers challenge gym leaders by working alongside their pokémon, just like the warriors. But remember this, Shuichi: there is one very distinct difference between a pokémon trainer and a pokémon warrior.”
“And what’s that?”
“Warriors and their pokémon have an instinct to kill.”
I gulped in fear.
“I understand all of that,” I said. “But what does this have to do with my training today?”
“As a gym leader, I evaluate trainers in the Kanto region for their worthiness as potential members of the Pokémon League Trainers Association. I do, however, also come from a noble clan centered here in Celadon City. As head of my clan, I must evaluate the members of my own gym to see who are fit to be warriors and who will be loyal to the clan. Many people in this world refer to my clan as ‘yakuza,’ and spread terrible rumors about our practices. The Pokémon League Trainers Association has placed many restrictions on this gym alone because of that. That’s why I can’t let the other girls know what I do here on Sundays. It is to protect their integrity from the public eye.”
I nodded in agreement. I didn’t realize Erika had been keeping this a secret for so long.
“Ever since I became the gym leader and head of my family, only two people have been considered worthy enough to be warriors,” she continued. “The first was Mei Jia. As I evaluated her during her many years as a junior member, I realized she had great ambition and potential. I recommended giving her that Dratini as her first pokémon because of her exceptional prowess. I awaited the day Mei Jia would finally become a Pokémon League champion, making her worthy enough to be initiated as a warrior, but as you know, that time never came to pass. We did, however discover another member much later.”
“And who was that?”
“Mei Jia’s ambitions, her strengths, her motivations all came from a source which made it clear that she was worthy enough to be a warrior. I evaluate the members not only on these potentials, but also for the kindness and love they show for others. Anyone who has ambitions for themselves are not worthy of being a warrior in my clan. As I researched Mei Jia’s source for this love, my results came to only one person; and not by coincidence, this member also shared that same love, kindness, and much later in life, ambition as well. That person was you, Shuichi Oda.”
My eyes widened. Erika chose me to be a warrior?
“But why not Amy?” I asked. “She’s already been a Pokémon League champion in three regions!”
“Amy is an excellent and wonderful trainer, but she did not possess the same ambition that you and Mei Jia share. I hate to say this, but she was never worthy of being a warrior, though I’m very certain that she knows enough about my clan’s history to understand. She is a genius, after all.”
Erika’s cousin Cindy, the senior instructor in the poetry class, walked into the battle room along with her Ivysaur and a fire pokémon called Magmar. Unlike her usual kimono garb, she wore a tee shirt and work pants, along with a black apron. Ivysaur and Magmar helped carry a giant log that was a little under a meter in diameter and three meters tall. The pokémon rested the log vertically in the center of the battle room. Cindy greeted Erika and handed her an item ball. Erika released the item ball and a very unique weapon appeared.
The weapon was made entirely of steel: two fan-shaped blades with about a seventy-centimeter radius separated by a two and a half meter chain. The blades on each end were painted a vibrant green color and the chain was plated in gold. Erika nodded in approval and handed the weapon back to Cindy.
“My uncle was a weapon smith and I had requested for him to make this weapon for you,” said Erika. “Unfortunately, my uncle passed away four years ago as he forged this weapon during that time. His daughter, Cindy, took up her father’s trade and completed it for you. After five years of forging, it can now be used by its rightful owner.”
“You mean me?” I pointed to myself.
“Yes, you, Shuichi,” said Cindy. “Now listen up!”
Cindy readjusted her ponytail and held the weapon in her hands. Her left hand held one of the bladed fans while her right hand held the chain leaving about eighty centimeters dangling in the air.
“This weapon is a modified kusarigama,” said Cindy. “I call it ‘Ginkgo no kusari.’ This is a very tactical weapon fit for a professor like you, Shuichi.”
Cindy slid the chain in her right hand and grabbed onto the other bladed fan and approached the log. Ivysaur and Magmar stepped back.
“When used as a melee weapon, you can hack at your opponents with the blades.”
Cindy loosened her posture as she spread her feet apart and bent slightly before the log. She slashed at it with both blades in her hands, making small, but visible dents into the wood. She stepped backward about a meter and a half and returned her right hand to the chain. She then twirled the right blade in the air.
“You can also use the chain like this to strike your enemies from mid-range like so.”
She released the chain in her right hand and extended the blade accurately toward the log. A slightly greater notch was made by the impact of this attack. Cindy returned the chain back into her right hand at an appropriate length and began to spin it again.
“But the most functional purpose of this weapon is to disarm and immobilize your opponents by tethering an object with the length of this chain and tightening it with your grip.”
Cindy released the chain again, but this time in a hooked horizontal motion. Continuing to hold on to the other blade with her left hand, she released most of the chain’s length as it wrapped around the log about one and a half times. The other fan served as a weight to keep the chain tethered in place as Cindy pulled the blade in her left hand away from the log. With her relentless strength, the chain tightened around the log and began to give way. Finally, with a powerful tug, Cindy pulled the chain completely toward her, severing the log in half where the chain had been wrapped.
Cindy walked up to me with the blade and chain safely in her hands again and extended it to me, bowing before me.
“Ginkgo no kusari now belongs to you, Shuichi Oda,” she said. “Use it well.”
I took the weapon from her hands and placed them into my own the same way she did. The blades were much heavier than I expected, but still manageable.
“The only way to stop a pokémon warrior is to become a warrior yourself, Shuichi,” said Erika. “Starting today, I will train you in the ways of a warrior. Be warned, however, because if you make even one careless mistake, I cannot guarantee you will live.”