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July 19th, 2010 (11:41 AM).
Oatmeal? Are you CRAZY?!
In the middle of nowhere.
In the three weeks it had taken Cassandra to lose her contest, Belle had caught an unsuspecting Poliwag at the random pond in Celadon, cursed herself for not buying a bike, taken the long way to Fuchsia City via Vermilion, defeated Koga (she lost twice, causing herself to train so hard Charmy evolved into Charizard and her newly-caught Poliwag became Poliwhirl), and headed to Saffron, where she had been training with the people in the Fighting Dojo. She wasn’t too worried about Derrick finding her here. True, she had panicked in Fuchsia because she had spent too long there, but that had been different; what reason did Derrick have to come stumbling into the Fighting Dojo?
“How are things coming along, Belle?”
She turned from where she and Primape had been beating the crap out of a punching bag to see Hitoshi, one of the boys at the dojo. Primape paused in his ruthless destruction of the bag, but when he saw Hitoshi, he turned back to it, deciding that there was no threat to Belle.
Belle adjusted the tape on her hands. “I think I’m a quick learner.”
“No…I mean, have you battled Sabrina again yet?”
Belle looked away quickly. The truth was, Sabrina scared the crap out of her. She had been too afraid to tell Charmy, or Poliwhirl, or Eevee what to do, and had let them faint. Those cold, calculating eyes, the way her bangs were cut straight across her forehead, her Alakazam…she reminded Belle too much of death. She haunted her nightmares, standing above her with glowing eyes, cradling a limp, pale Pichu. Hitoshi sighed. “She’s not all that bad. She’s just shy.”
Belle squeezed her eyes shut and turned away, pretending to tighten the tape on her hands.
? The woman was death! With that calm, smooth voice and that cold, detached tone, her pale skin and strange psychic powers…she could speak to her Alakazam in her head! That alone was creepy enough! Suddenly, though, she found herself wishing she could speak to Charmy in her head.
“She freaks me out,” Belle said finally, throwing a weak punch at her bag. “She never smiles, she’s so calm…”
“You remind me of her a bit,” Hitoshi said, talking over the last part of her sentence.
“Work!” the Master Koichi yelled from across the dojo; Belle quickly began punching the bag. Hitoshi moved a bit closer to her.
“You both have dark hair, you both seem calm and composed all the time, neither of you ever smile…”
Belle froze. She reached out and gently caught the punching bag, making it still. She never smiled? “I smile,” she said, trying to think back to the last time she smiled. She smiled after she defeated Koga, right? No…after Erika. No…
“No you don’t,” Hitoshi replied. “You’re pretty calm and collected all the time. And Sabrina isn’t so bad, once you get to know her. She comes over here when the gym’s not so busy.” He glanced at her. “You might like her.”
“Take a break!” Master Koichi bellowed. Hitoshi wandered off and Belle sank to the floor, grabbing the water bottle she had placed there earlier.
“Settle down, Primape,” Belle muttered. The Pokémon stopped its beating of the punching bag and plopped down beside her, feet sticking out willy-nilly. “You need to calm down some.”
Primape glanced at her. Its message was loud and clear.
Calm down like you, Miss Sabrina?
Belle put the rim of the bottle to her lips and looked away. Forget wanting to speak to her Pokémon in her head. They were mean to her.
Belle surfed through her e-mail. Her black hair was wet and matted to her head, and she was wearing a light blue tank-top and gray gym shorts. She had just taken a shower and was waiting for all the boys to be done; they all insisted that she take hers first, since she was the only girl. She had quite a few e-mails from Cassandra and Alyssa asking her what was wrong. Their urgency grew with each passing day. What could she do to get them to back off? She couldn’t tell them of her discovery…she couldn’t share this awful burden of sorrow, couldn’t thrust it on them. With a sigh, Belle picked up her water bottle.
“You sound troubled.”
Belle’s veins ran cold and her heart stopped beating; she froze, staring at the screen. The voice that had spoken was smooth, calm, collected…
It belonged to Sabrina.
Belle turned slowly to face her, lowering her water bottle. The woman stood there in an off-white turtleneck sweater and jeans. It
quite cold outside, now that Belle thought about it. Sabrina’s long black hair seemed to shift around her as she cocked her head slightly. “You fear me.”
Psychic people are so creepy,
Belle thought immediately.
“And you seem to be under the impression that psychic people are creepy.”
“Stop reading my thoughts,” Belle said out loud. She stood up and walked away, trying to put some distance between herself and Sabrina. She was the only one in the dojo with her; why couldn’t the boys hurry with their showers?
“The thing you feel is not uncommon when one visits Lavender Tower,” Sabrina said suddenly. Belle looked at her sharply. “You were unlucky enough to happen upon a funeral.”
“What do you know?”
The simple answer startled Belle, and she wrapped her arms around herself and frowned.
“You need not fear me, Belle Caldwell.”
Oh, yeah, sure, you know my full name without me telling you, but I shouldn’t be afraid of you. Right.
Belle strode over to her Poké Balls, which sat on a table nearby. She felt the need for some company.
“I am not going to hurt you,” Sabrina said, and some emotion edged into her voice. She sounded earnest. “Please, just understand what I’m telling you.”
Belle paused, her hand above Charmy’s Poké Ball. “May I at least let out Charmy?”
“Yes. You will argue if I decline.”
Belle felt a lot safer with a Charizard around; Charmy touched a claw to her shoulder blades supportively. “Continue.”
“You need to speak to someone. Don’t keep everything inside. Also…the person you dread meeting nears. If you wish to avoid him, you need to leave soon. While it is my opinion you should talk to him, I know that you will not heed my advice; I also feel that it is fair to warn you. He comes. You should leave within the next two days.”
Belle reached out and grabbed Charmy’s claw, squeezing it. “How do you know all this?”
“I am psychic. This city is
city.” Sabrina turned toward the door of the dojo. She crossed to it in a few long strides, and she paused before leaving, glancing over her shoulder at Belle. “You are determined. I can sense that you won’t leave here without the Marsh Badge. I will be waiting at my gym for you.”
Belle arrived at Sabrina’s gym with renewed determination and the heartfelt support from everyone at the Fighting Dojo. She had liked it there, and she was loath to leave them, but it had to be done; Derrick was coming, and she needed to head to Cinnabar Island to get her Volcano Badge.
Vaguely, as she wandered into the gym, Belle wondered about Derrick’s Pokémon. Had any evolved? Had he caught any new ones? She tried to imagine Derrick fighting alongside a Graveler or a Raichu, but the image hurt her heart, so she pushed the thoughts away. She needed to focus on her battle anyway.
Sabrina loomed out of the darkness of her gym, seeming to pass from shadow into being. Her long black hair fanned out around her elbows. “Good day to you, Belle Caldwell.”
“Good day.” Belle had resigned herself—she wasn’t going to be nervous this time, not at all. She was going to exude the same calm, confident aura Sabrina did. In fact, she was going to try to exude that type of aura from now on. She had come a long way from being afraid of Sabrina; now, she almost idolized her.
“Referee,” Sabrina said calmly, and a woman dressed in a referee’s outfit stepped out of the shadows, two colored flags in hand. “Begin the match, please.”
“This will be a three-on-three match. Leader is only allowed to switch between battles; challenger may switch at any time. Neither may use any more than three different Pokémon. Also, Leader will not, for any reason, read the challenger’s thoughts. Challenger ready?”
“Ready,” Belle said, reaching for a Poké Ball. She pressed the button in the center and felt it fill up the space in her palm.
“Leader ready?” the referee asked.
“Perfectly so,” Sabrina replied. A Poké Ball levitated in front of her.
“Espeon. It is your turn.” Sabrina’s Poké Ball opened and unleashed a purplish fox-like Pokémon with two tails and a gleaming gem in its forehead. It landed gently, its tail swishing over its head.
“Bellossum, let’s go!” Belle threw her Poké Ball. She knew what Pokémon Sabrina would use—Espeon, Mr. Mime, and Alakazam. She smoothed her thumb over a different Poké Ball as she thought of who would battle Alakazam.
“Espeon, please use Psywave.”
“Bellossum, use Giga Drain!”
Before Bellossum could use its move, Espeon’s wave of Psychic energy crashed into the little Pokémon and sent it tumbling head over heels. It stood up; there was a scratch on Bellossum’s little arm. The creature held its hands out and a mystical, swirling beam of green-tinged sunlight spread out, enveloping Espeon. Small green balls flowed back along the beam of light; they melted into Bellossum, and the scratch on her arm healed. Espeon looked suddenly fatigued.
“Hm. That is something else indeed.” Sabrina looked down calmly at her Pokémon. “Espeon, Confusion, please.”
“Bellossum, dod—” Belle quickly rethought her strategy. How do you
a Psychic move? She cracked her knuckles, mind racing. “Bellossum, use Sleep Powder!”
Espeon wasn’t finished readying its mind or meditating or whatever it was Psychic Pokémon did to start attacks, and when the peaceful powder drifted slowly down onto it, its lids closed heavily and it sank to the floor, fast asleep.
“Oh, this is a problem. Espeon?” Sabrina seemed perfectly calm.
“Bellossum, use Quick Attack!”
Bellossum shot at Espeon, colliding into it. Espeon flopped in a rag-doll motion, sprawling out on the gym floor, still fast asleep.
“Espeon, use Confusion!” Sabrina said, sounding forceful.
“Espeon is fast asleep,” Belle reminded her. “Bellossum, Tackle! Quick Attack! Tackle again!”
The attacks continued, and Espeon didn’t wake up. After a while, Belle ordered Bellossum’s attacks to stop; she didn’t want to hurt the Pokémon too badly. Nothing happened for a while. Then—
“Espeon is unable to battle! Challenger wins!”
“Very well,” Sabrina said, withdrawing Espeon to its Poké Ball. “And now—Mr. Mime, if you please.”
“Bellossum, you’ve done well. Return.” Belle plucked a different Ball from her belt and tossed it as Mr. Mime appeared on the floor, happily waving its hands. “Your turn, Poliwhirl!”
“Mr. Mime, Reflect.”
Mr. Mime swung his hand out, creating a shield of light in front of him.
“Poliwhirl, use Bubblebeam!”
Another shield sprang up in front of Mr. Mime; this one deflected Bubblebeam, sending it shooting back at Poliwhirl, who leapt sideways to avoid its own attack. Belle’s fingernails dug into her palms as her fingers curled into fists.
“Mr. Mime, Safeguard.”
Mr. Mime erected yet another glowing shield, smiling the whole time. Belle wanted to kick it. She surveyed the battlefield, Sabrina looking on coolly as the gears in her mind turned. Last time she had won by putting Espeon to sleep…maybe she could do that to Mr. Mime.
A purple mist slowly wrapped itself around Mr. Mime, but it didn’t touch him; one of his many glowing shields pulsed and dispelled the mist completely.
“Safeguard protects against status defects,” Sabrina said. “You can’t put Mr. Mime to sleep.”
“Mime, Mr. Mime!”
Belle wouldn’t be surprised if she looked down and saw blood flowing from her palms, the way her fingernails were digging into them. She forced herself to stop and whipped her cap off her head, running her fingers through her hair briefly before setting it back on. “Poliwhirl, Mud Shot!”
It obeyed; mud splattered across Mr. Mime, but one of his glowing shields caught most of it. It didn’t hurt him enough to make him blink. “Mr. Mime, Barrier, please.”
Why doesn’t she attack?
Belle thought to herself, squinting her eyes. Well, she was going to have to take full advantage of the time that wasn’t spent inflicting damage on her Pokémon. “Poliwhirl, use Double-Slap!”
Poliwhirl leapt forward, but he couldn’t get through Mr. Mime’s glowing shields. He fell back, grunting. Belle rethought. “Mud Shot, then Bubblebeam!”
Mud Shot once again splattered a bit of mud on Mr. Mime, but with one calm order of “Light Screen” from Sabrina, he calmly deflected Poliwhirl’s Bubblebeam.
Belle was getting frustrated. “Those shields are pissing me off,” she grumbled, starting to pace in her little square. She suddenly wished she had asked that weird guy in Celadon Mansion more questions instead of punching him in the jaw, but what was done was done. Didn’t she teach Poliwhirl a move that he could use against Mr. Mime and actually hurt him? She ran briefly through his arsenal.
“Calm Mind,” Sabrina told Mr. Mime, and he shut his eyes and swayed back and forth.
“Poliwhirl!” Belle cried, stopping in her stupid pacing. She’d had an epiphany—she knew how she was going to win this match. “Brick Break!”
Brick Break was a Fighting-type move, she knew, but she also knew it would break through defenses like Light Screen, Reflect, Barrier, and Safeguard, and that was just what she needed. Poliwhirl hurtled at Mr. Mime, throwing a huge punch; his fist glowed red as it plowed into the different shields Mr. Mime had erected. They shattered in pieces of glowing light and rained down upon the battlefield. Furthermore, Poliwhirl’s fist hit directly in the middle of Mr. Mime’s chest, and while Fighting was weak against Psychic, a direct hit like that couldn’t be ignored; Mr. Mime was sent flying across the gym floor, landing on his bottom near Sabrina.
Belle met Sabrina’s eyes over the falling shards of glass-light, a smile lifting the corner of her mouth. Now, every time Sabrina ordered Mr. Mime to put up those shields, Belle could just break them and send Mr. Mime flying. It would tire Mr. Mime out to put those shields up so many times, and eventually Poliwhirl’s repeated punches would knock him out.
“What a beautiful display,” Sabrina commented. Belle looked away from Sabrina’s eyes. Indeed, the falling shards of Mr. Mime’s broken barriers were quite beautiful, in a tragic sort of way. “Mr. Mime, Magical Leaf.”
“PROTECT!” Belle shouted urgently, almost falling out of her box. Poliwhirl threw up his hands, making a glowing blue-green shield that curved around him and deflected the glowing leaves sent from Mr. Mime’s hands. They dissolved and Poliwhirl dropped his shield. “Now, use Body Slam!”
Poliwhirl leapt up, soared through the air, and landed heavily on top of Mr. Mime, who crumpled under the weight and lay helpless beneath his opponent’s body.
Belle’s Water Pokémon proceeded to slap Mr. Mime hard about the face; Sabrina’s mouth twitched as she watched, knowing she could do nothing to prevent it. “Now, finish it off with Bubblebeam!”
A large stream of bubbles erupted from the center of Poliwhirl’s swirly belly as he leapt back, and they caught Mr. Mime about the middle and pushed him several feet. When he landed, a bit crumpled, the referee craned her neck briefly to look at him.
“Mr. Mime is unable to battle! Poliwhirl wins the battle!”
!” Belle cried as Sabrina returned her Pokémon.
“Do not celebrate just yet,” the Gym Leader toned calmly. “We have one more battle. In this one, we shall see who is the true victor.”
Belle felt her face harden as she returned Poliwhirl to his Poké Ball. “Good job,” she whispered to the Ball as she put it on her belt and grabbed another. Sabrina also held a Ball; they stared at each other across the battlefield. Both knew what the other was about to do. Sabrina didn’t even need her psychic powers to know which Poké Ball Belle held.
“Alakazam,” Sabrina said softly, holding out her hand. The ball floated above it for a few seconds before opening and releasing a yellow human-like Pokémon holding two spoons for no apparent reason, its eyes narrowed as it took in Belle’s appearance for the second time. Sabrina’s eyes glowed blue, and Alakazam’s glowed in response; the two held such a sacred bond that this seemed to happen whenever they were together.
Belle trembled. The Sabrina that stood across the gym floor now was the Sabrina that stood in her nightmares; those glowing blue eyes seemed to pierce her soul. She drew in a deep breath and closed her eyes, trying to find her focus again.
When Belle’s eyes opened, they were alight with the fire of her determination. It didn’t matter anymore that the only reason she came to the gym was because Derrick was coming and she had to run away. It didn’t matter that Sabrina’s eyes were glowing blue. It didn’t matter that she had lost once before. It didn’t matter that she had once been scared stiff of Sabrina. All that mattered now was the battle; she was going to win and get that Marsh Badge.
“Let’s go, Charmy!” Belle threw Charmy’s Poké Ball out onto the field, and the Pokémon erupted from it with a roar. Belle and Charmy shared a bond, too. It may not have been born of psychic power, but it was there, and she was more linked to him than any of her other Pokémon.
“Alakazam.” Sabrina’s voice was different; it came out in a strange hiss when she spoke to her closest Pokémon. “Psychic.”
If there was any music to this scene, it would be low and dramatic. Belle could practically feel the drum beat in her chest. Alakazam raised its arms slowly, and Belle assessed the situation.
The spoon glimmered as Alakazam waved its hand; Charmy, mid-lunge, suddenly froze. There was a split-second pause before he was hurtled backwards, crashing into the stand holding up Belle’s small box; she clutched the railing. “Charmy! Are you okay?”
With a determined roar, Charmy got to his feet, the corner of his lips pulled back to show his pointed teeth. He had already been defeated by Alakazam once—he wasn’t about to lose to it again.
“Psycho Cut!” Sabrina rasped.
Alakazam pushed his hand into the air; waves of psychic power formed into roughly the shape of a sickle. With a sweep of his hand, Alakazam sent it hurtling toward Charmy, and the thing slammed into his chest, sending him once again into the metal support beams of Belle’s box.
“Charmy!” she cried. She was
going to take this lying down. “Flamethrower!”
In an all-too-familiar display, Alakazam sent up a glowing shield of light. The Flamethrower parted and went around it, not touching Alakazam at all; but when the Psychic Pokémon looked up, beads of sweat could be seen sprouting on its forehead.
“Dragon Claw!” Belle cried before Alakazam had time to process. Charmy leapt into the air and swooped down on Alakazam; his claws glowed bluish-silver as he stuck his hand into Alakazam’s misty Light Screen and slashed him right across the chest. The Psychic Pokémon cried out and was slung sideways, doing a strange pirouette before it hit the floor. Charmy arced up and away, slamming his flaming tail into Alakazam’s falling form as he soared up towards the rafters.
Sabrina’s glowing eyes glowed ever brighter, and Alakazam pushed himself off the floor. “Psycho Cut!” she said again.
“Be ready, Charmy!” Belle cried, moving her feet shoulder-width apart and holding her hands out. Charmy copied her without even looking, his wings beating to hold him aloft.
Alakazam formed the familiar sickle and hurled it up toward Charmy; the Charizard reached forward and caught it in his claws, roaring loudly with the effort. Sweat appeared on his forehead as he pushed at it, and finally, with a great bellow, he flung it aside, sending it flying across the gym floor and crashing into the wall; smoke billowed up from the contact point.
Charmy opened his mouth; black smoke poured out, filling the gym. Belle cried out something unintelligible even to her. Black smoke curled all around, pushing into her mouth and nostrils, but she held her sleeve over her mouth and nose and closed one eye, trying to peer through the thickness.
Alakazam couldn’t see either; after many agonizing seconds, he sensed a shift in the smoke. He looked up just in time to see the smoke tear apart and a Charizard burst through. Charmy’s claws shot out and raked his face, leaving three parallel gash marks across his cheek. Alakazam cried out and stumbled backwards; Charmy escaped to the rafters as the smoke cleared once more.
Charmy spun quickly in the middle of his ascent and blew hot flames out of his mouth. Alakazam’s distraction allowed the fire to burn a hole through his misty Light Screen and get in a direct hit; he bellowed and stumbled, hitting one knee as the flames poured over him. Charmy snapped his mouth shut and flapped his wings hard enough to send him to the top of the building again, leering down at his opponent.
Sabrina took a step forward; her hair fell across her face and one hand reached out to grasp the rail of her box. Her lips parted, showing her teeth, as her glowing eyes widened. “ALAKAZAM,” she screamed in a voice that no longer sounded anywhere near calm.
Despite Sabrina’s appearance, Belle wasn’t afraid. She gritted her teeth and stepped to the edge of her box, wishing she could be closer to the battlefield. “Charmy!” she yelled, and her voice cut through her throat like a razor.
Alakazam looked possessed as it raised its arms, its head falling back slightly, the spoons shaking uncontrollably though its hands remained still.
“Fire Blast!” Belle cried, tightening her grip on the rail in front of her. Charmy lowered himself a bit and opened his mouth; the flames started to pour out just as a huge wave of Psychic energy pulsed out of Alakazam.
The beam of fire smacked straight into the wave of energy and spread out over it, but neither Pokémon could advance; Charmy’s eyes narrowed and it bellowed despite the flames pouring from its throat, and Alakazam let out a strange yell as it tried to push its energy harder. Belle leaned forward, and before she knew it, she was screaming too, her voice rising in pitch and volume until it was a shrill, loud tone that made her feel as though her face was about to explode. Sabrina was also yelling, her eyes glowing so much that it was like tiny blue suns were in her eye sockets instead of eyes. She leaned over the rail, her hair slipping forward from her shoulders and dangling out over the battlefield.
Belle slowly began to raise her arm as if possessed, screaming as she cocked it back; she launched it forward as if throwing something, and Charmy pushed his fire so hard that it burst through Alakazam’s energy and washed over Alakazam himself. Sabrina went stiff and her scream doubled in volume, her head lolling back and her hair whipping about her as if in a wind only she could experience. Alakazam’s yell rose until it mingled with Sabrina’s and they were yelling with one single voice.
Belle’s screaming didn’t stop. She leapt up onto the rail of her box, pushing her upper body forward until she was curved over the field, hands balled into fists and throat straining. Alakazam and Sabrina screamed as if they were both awash in flames; Belle and Charmy bellowed as if they were both hammering fire from out of their stomachs.
Finally Charmy stopped, his mouth shutting as he hovered above Alakazam, who was lying flat on his back and still screaming. Sabrina’s cries didn’t stop, either; suddenly, the glow from her eyes turned blazing white, and she spread her arms, hollering as she rose into the air. Alakazam’s chest rose, leading his body as it levitated above the floor.
Belle raised her arm and brought it down again; Charmy mimicked her motion at the same time, bringing his fist onto Alakazam’s chest and forcing him to cave in, his back smashing against the floor. Sabrina screamed even harder; her head fell back more as Alakazam’s voice died away, the white glow from his eyes fading. Sabrina’s cry persisted until finally she collapsed on the floor of her box, a crumpled heap of tangled black hair. Belle wavered on her box railing, suddenly dizzy; Charmy slowly brought himself down so that his feet touched the floor and took a step back. An eerie silence rang through the room, a calm following the storm of the century.
Belle had defeated Sabrina.
I’m not dead.
I’m fine. I spent those three weeks at the Fighting Dojo. I battled Sabrina; it was intense. I have the Marsh Badge now.
I’m really sorry about your contest, Cassandra. Don’t give up.
You two don’t have to worry about me. I can take care of myself. I’m fine. Nothing about me has changed. You’re just worrying too much.
Charmy is Charizard now.
Love you guys,
Joined Aug 2009
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