Yeah well that 2-3 days didn't happen. Sorry guys. I took time to advance the fic on serebii, which by the way, is three chapters from the climax. At any rate, the rewrites must go on, so here is the new Chapter 8. On Serebii, we're at Chapter 42 btw. Yep. 42. We have some catching up to do...
Chapter 8: White Flame
He rubbed his eyes, blinking furiously. It was far too early for this sort of thinking.
Yet Mike had insisted they pull an all-nighter and plan their strategy down to the last detail, something that first excited John; now irritated him. After several hours of planning and re-planning they had decided that John would use Eevee and Wingull, and Mike would use Bonsly and Staravia. The moves they planned on using were initially coordinated, but for some reason John couldn’t remember them, as there had been far too many changes.
The two had fallen asleep in the lobby of the Poké Center, John curling up on the rather larger leather recliner and Mike walling asleep on the table, the papers they had used for planning filling in for his pillow. They hadn’t planned on falling asleep, but its tempting allure and lulled them into closing their eyes for what they thought would just be a moment.
Slowly regaining consciousness, he fumbled with his Pokétch. The array of digital lines revealed the time: 7:00.
“Crap! Mike we have to get up,” he called, jumping out of the chair.
Mike woke up as if he was coming out of an exorcism, his arms flailing, loud grunts spewing from his mouth. Even the receptionist chuckled to herself as she began to resume work for the day.
“Someone better be dead or dying!” he yelled. Mike was always incredibly cranky in the morning.
“I’ll do you one better, we have a half an hour until our gym battle,” John responded flatly. Years of dealing with Mike had taught him not to take his crankiness personally.
The sour look on Mike’s face immediately disappeared as his inverted eyebrows softened and a look of concern seized him. The boy became as frantic as his counterpart, scooping up papers, fixing his hiked up pants and clipping his Poké belt around them.
After their five minute rampage, the two ran out of the lobby, into the rising morning sun. Despite the time, the temperature had already reached a crisp 70 degrees. John was always a morning person; he always enjoyed waking up just as the sun was peering over the trees, immersing himself in the gentle red and orange hues only visible at this time. The same scene had presented itself today, much to his delight.
He was so busy staring at the sky, he had neglected to see his zealous friends, who had awoken and met them outside the lobby. Mike had already thanked them, both excited and anxious about their surprise. They now stood before the distracted John, waiting for acknowledgment.
As if he was coming out of a trance, John shook his head, noticing the three.
“What the hell are you guys doing here? Go back to sleep!” he jokingly yelled. To be honest, he probably wouldn’t have done the same if he were in George or Joey’s position.
“You’re welcome,” George said flatly, patting him on the back. Lindsey just snickered.
“I’m here for Mike,” she muttered. John chose to simply ignore her.
“No way in hell we’re going to miss your first gym battle,” Joey exclaimed, attempting to do damage control, “but we just might if we don’t get the hell over there.”
So the five progressed to the gym, which was just a few minutes walk away. The walk would have been pleasant had John not been so obscenely nervous. Normally he liked these tranquil moments, they were good for observations and Pokémon watching, and certainly for thinking. But now, thinking was the enemy- his thoughts were powerful, often crippling him in times like these.
His stomach was in knots, which he attributed his nausea to, but he quickly put all that aside once he saw the gym.
A magnificent building, the One Island Gym was built into the side of the mountainous terrain. In reality, the building itself was just a façade; the gym was actually a cave, the doors and walls built to give room for the field.
They approached the gym at first skittishly, but at this point the confidence had been booming within John. He took charge, and led the group up the hillside, and into the gym.
As they entered through the cracking glass automatic doors, they abruptly entered the arena, much to their surprise. The gym was old, built without a waiting room or even an office for the Leader. It was a cave, after all.
The arena itself was enclosed, enough height and length for a battle but still constricting. Even though the heat of the day had yet to seize the Island, the insides of the mountain warmed the rocky edifices of the arena.
Standing on the opposite end of the arena was Flare, decked out in a fully white suit, complete with golden buttons that ran up his jacket, complementing his glaringly red hair. The red Pokéballs in his hand stuck out like sore thumbs.
“Alright folks, you know the rules. Two Pokémon each, let’s go,” He chuckled warmly, tossing two Pokeballs onto the arena.
In an explosion of red light that illuminated the various rocks in the cave appeared two equally red Pokémon: a bipedal lizard with a dull horn and flaming tail, and a rather awkward looking slug, also on fire.
“Eevee, show time,” John whispered into his Pokéball, releasing the docile fox onto the arena.
“Come on, Bonsly!” Mike yelled, in a rare display of emotion. The boy had to be excited; this was the moment the boys had been planning for nearly ten years.
“Your move kids,” Flare acknowledged, nodding.
“****!” John whispered to Mike, “I forgot the plan.”
Without losing a beat, the awkward boy with the bowl shaped haircut answered, “Follow my lead.”
“Alright, Bonsly use Rock Throw on that Slugma!” Mike commanded.
“Eevee use Dig, you know the drill,” John remembered. It was show time.
Eevee’s claws glowed a vibrant white, and in a few seconds, she gained the power to dig into the hardened ground. After she moved the first layer of rocky soil, she was able to move under her opponents, digging an elaborate system of tunnels under the two. The volcanic soil was easily malleable, considering it was so brittle.
In the meantime, Bonsly continued to heave oversized rocks at the Slugma, the poor thing taking hit after hit. The Pokémon just stood there and took it, much to the group’s surprise. Everything about the battle was a surprise though, really. Lindsey, George, and Joey were still mesmerized by the petite bonsai Pokémon picking up, let alone throwing, rocks of any kind.
“Enough of this nonsense. Charmeleon, throw Slugma into the air, Slugma, Fire Blast,” Flare yelled.
Grudgingly, the Slug Pokémon allowed itself to be tossed in the air by its seemingly over eager lizard counterpart.
It let out a mighty roar, as mighty as its tiny, formless body would allow, and released a towering inferno at Bonsly. The human shaped blast slammed into Bonsly, and despite some visible discomfort and a grunt, the Bonsai Pokémon seemed to be unaffected.
But Slugma was not done. Gravity had taken over, pulling the Pokémon into a nose dive, aimed directly at Bonsly. The Pokémon desperately tried to waddle out of the way, but it was to no avail, the forms collided. Bonsly was knocked over, the Slugma beginning to constrict it, squeezing the remaining consciousness out of it.
“Just what I wanted! Bonsly use Flail,” Mike shouted, triumphantly. In reality, it wasn’t what he had wanted; John had tipped him off to it earlier to that possibility, but, why give him the glory?
John rolled his eyes, seeing what had happened but refusing to erupt into a confrontation that would end their challenge.
Bonsly ignored the trainer’s brief spat, flailing around desperately, slamming the three pronged branch on its head into the face of the slug, and using it as leverage to launch it into the air.
Once the slug landed a few feet away, it collapsed.
Flare raised a Pokéball and recalled the Pokémon, instead beginning to reach for another.
“Alright Eevee, before he calls in another Pokémon, now use Shadow Ball!”
A plethora of static purple balls were released from the underground, using the holes dug by Eevee as their venue to escape onto the field. They trapped the frazzled Charmeleon in an artificial jail, before, like heat seeking missiles, slammed into their target. The lizard Pokémon was unable to escape the wrath of the attack.
“Bonsly, Rock Throw, again at Charmeleon!” Mike yelled.
The little Pokémon tried to oblige, trying to gather a rock to throw, but was unable to. Its bout with Slugma had weakened it sustainably, and, almost simultaneously with Charmeleon, it fainted. Lucky for Mike, the Rock Throw was not needed.
Shocked almost, but not deterred, Flare just simply tossed two Pokémon onto the arena floor. The magnificent, pure, beautiful horse of a few days ago, Rapidash appeared, alongside a lanky orange fowl. The flame like feathers on its head gave it away as Combusken, the evolved form of Torchic.
Mike called out his next Pokémon, the Staravia he had caught almost a week prior.
The energetic starling Pokémon hovered in the air, fidgeting as if it was attempting to contain an abundance of hyperactivity.
“Eevee, we’re going to have to strike early or we’re finished, use Psybeam!” John ordered, taking charge of the battle. It wasn’t an attempt to upstage Mike by any means, but merely to advance his own skills.
Rapidash, without any command, had started to charge toward the tiny fox, absorbing the blasts of pink energy, which, despite doing damage, did nothing to stop the impending attack.
The Rapidash slammed into Eevee, its speed and girth sending the Pokémon straight into the cavern wall. It fainted almost instantly.
John sighed, slightly worried, but more annoyed at the gym leader’s choice of a rather powerful Pokémon. He returned Eevee into her Pokéball, decided to take care of her later.
“Wingull, let’s go, front and center,” John commanded.
<At your service!> the bird chirped, humorously.
“Alright bud, you’re going to have to really concentrate your water efforts on Rapidash, there really isn’t another way we can defeat it,” John explained.
<I’ll try!> the little Pokémon became determined, flying up towards the ceiling, and beginning to unleash a Water Gun attack. The steady stream hit Rapidash first as an annoyance, becoming a real problem only when the Pokémon understood that there was virtually no escape from the attack.
Meanwhile, Mike’s Staravia was feverishly attacking the Combusken. The large bird was locked in a fierce battle with the young fowl Pokémon.
“Staravia, use Wing Attack!” Mike called as a counter to Mach Punch. The bird obliged, dodging the rapid attack and responding by cutting the fighting Pokémon with its glowing wings.
Combusken recoiled, and then launched another Mach punch, curling its three clawed fingers swiftly into a fist and thrusting towards the bird.
“Staravia, Wing Attack again, end this!” Mike called. Combusken was fast, but speed was on the side of the bird, who absorbed the attack and responded by slicing at Combusken, this time dealing the fainting blow.
Combusken collapsed from the attack, but even this he used for his advantage, falling on top the weakened Staravia’s head with enough force to knock it unconscious.
“God Damn it!” Mike cursed, recalling the Pokémon. He looked at John pleadingly, “this is all you man.”
John nodded, instructing Wingull to continue his attacks. It was only a matter of time now.
“I had enough of this, Rapidash Bounce!” Flare angrily commanded, a bit of an out of character moment for the gym leader.
The large horse bounced in the air using its remarkable legs, nearing the area where Wingull hovered, if this attack made contact, the newly caught Pokémon wouldn’t stand a chance.
“Wingull, give it all you got!” John called. What else could he do?
The Pokémon obliged, releasing a powerful torrent of water directly at the incoming Pokémon, throwing it off course, at it evaded. Rapidash crashed to the ground, and after a brief tenure attempting to pull itself up using its hind legs, fainted.
After a brief moment in silence, the pair jumped in the air, letting out the pent up energy and anxiety that had plagued them before the battle.
Wingull descended into John’s arms, as he squeezed the little Pokémon’s triumphant body.
Flare walked to the two trainers celebrating, and handed over two rather new, shiny badges. They were shaped like a flame, three prongs of course, except devoid of the normal yellow, orange, and red, instead replaced by white. There was a small hole in the middle, probably for effect. After admiring it for a while, John placed it in his case. Six more. Seven if he were in any other region.
“The White Flame badge is no small accomplishment my boys. You battled hard, but know this. There will be leaders much stronger than I. I suggest you continue on the path that you are on, it shouldn’t lead you astray.”