B2 — 50. Stacking The Deck


1: Miky (Our Self-Doubting Impidimp)

2: Lori (Our Unovan Dark-Loving Trainer!)

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10:01 a.m. July 20th, Monday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)

Events:  Rhea and the girls have decided to push toward Silver-tier instead of the Bronze Bracket they’re on.  Our girl started her journey on the 9th of June—she’s been a Trainer for 41 Days (40 officially; 41 since getting Maya and Nova).  It’s time!  Lori’s first Silver-tier Gym Battle against Sabrina, The Rookie Crusher, of all Gym Leaders!

Miky let his stress go, listening to Lori’s music through their bond to drown out the crowd; he didn’t like the big audiences, but if he just focused on the single Pokemon in front of him, the pressure against his chest went away.

Exiting his Poke Ball, he laughed, happy there was nowhere the Pokemon could escape to; they’d gone over dozens of possible outcomes, including this; Abra was Sabrina’s Ace Pokemon, so it was a natural opponent to plan for.

Time slowed to Miky as he ran forward, building his energy for his first attack as Lori explained what he should expect.

Bite and Fake Out probably won’t Flinch on this one bud; it’ll do damage, but Inner Focus will keep his mind focused.

“So tricky-tricky!”  he snickered, clapping his hands and splitting his swiftly drawn power from Mallory into his voice.  “Me thinks you will be a strong one, yellow paws!”

A pulse shot through the air, colliding with the Psychic Pokemon’s mind—it may not cause his focus to collapse, but it would damage—and Prankster allowed him another attack as Flashing spotlights and colorful confetti sparked around the seemingly sleeping Pokemon; two attacks off the cuff.

Multi-hued lines shifted around him—Teleport—but his attacks landed, causing him to wobble in the air as he swapped locations.  Miky wanted to giggle as he vanished to appear three meters to his left, falling to one knee and cracking open a narrow left eye while trying to stabilize himself.

“Confusion?  Hmm-hmm.  How ironic,” the sophisticated Pokemon mused, single open eye rising to show Miky a small, upward tilt to his mouth.  “Playing tricks certainly is on-brand for an Impidimp.”

“Why so talky-talk?”  Miky mused, closing the distance; his running practice with Alice was paying off as he neared.  “Scared?!  Scared?!”

Strength welled up within his breast, flooding his body with power and resilient force, yet, the Abra seemed too calm; Lori saved him as Abra shook off the status effect, straightening as he approached.

“Close your eyes!”

Flash!”  Roxie’s young voice translated.

Stupid fast Pokemon!  Miky internally cursed, vision going black as the Abra’s narrowed gaze illuminated a bright white; he managed to blind himself, but moments later, three fingers were closed around his arm, pulling him off the ground and tumbling over the Psychic Pokemon.


The world opened up, and he saw it go upside down as his feet left the ground; he struck the stony field, landing hard on his back, yet it did no damage to his energy matrix.

Fist glowing white, the Abra pulled it back to strike him, flashing his razor teeth to show a thrilled smile.  “My name’s Jack, by the way.”

Swiftly rolling out of the way on instinct, his body being conditioned from all the dodging drills Alice put him through, with the addition of times he’d evaded Mya’s frightening blows throughout the last few weeks; he pushed himself up, spinning out of range once clear—he hadn’t expected this, but a slugging match was something he was accustomed to in Viridian Forest—the blow struck the ground, creating a small discharge of force.

“Seismic Toss?!”  Lori cried.  “Wait, no…  Okay, this dude’s not normal!  That was just martial arts—like what we saw at the dojo—watch out, Miky; he probably has some hand-to-hand training.  Ugh.  Sabrina is just floating there, smiling.  Don’t panic, bud, we…”

Me fine!  Me fine!  Miky laughed, shaking himself out and jumping around the calm Psychic Pokemon, keeping his slitted eyes on him, sizing him up.  Me like this!

“Hello, Jack!  I’m Miky.  You do the punches and kicks in the mornings like Alice?”

“As Master Sabrina teaches,” he returned, setting a defensive stance, “one must not wholly rely on one’s innate talent and psychic abilities.  I can see she has planned on this being a lesson for us both.”

Miky motioned for him to bring it on as three shimmering walls appeared in front of him.  “Hehe.  Bring it on, budd; mi best fist bitter mi know!”

“Reflect…  Heh.  Seems he got it off before the Taunt, but now he’s locked out of everything but Attack Moves—no Teleport games—a straight slug-fest!”

“You got this, Tricky!”  Roxie cheered, using her nickname for him.

Gables followed it up with a short chuckle.  “I like your odds.  Show him what you got, Miky; he can’t hit as hard as Mya, and he’s not as fast as Alice.  Also, Reflect only works if the Move passes through it.”

Thanks, Rocky and Gabs; mi likes simple fights.

Mirroring some of the Hitmonchan he’d seen at the dojo, Miky made a few jabbing motions and jumped forward; cartwheeling to the side, mirroring Alice, he kept his distance at the swipes and punches, staying just out of his striking distance.

“You scared to come after me?  Hehe!  You’re scared!”  he taunted, reapplying the Move while spinning around to show his backside.  “Mi seen better punches from Terri!”

“Well,” Gables forced a laugh.  “Terri is a Legendary, bud, even if she’s a newborn.”

“I’m a newborn, and I could punch better!”  Roxie huffed.

The Abra kept his composure, watching his movements while keeping his defensive position, continuing to face him.  “Strong mind, strong body…  Against an opponent that seeks to break one’s concentration, be the stream flowing undisturbed.”

“Huh?  You speak funny,” Miky snickered, snapping his jaws and sticking his tongue out, yet, nothing he tried got Jack to get out of form.  “Okay!  I come to you.”

Running forward, he opened his mouth, sharp fangs glistening as darkness gathered, and slid under the Abra’s glowing jab, yet, to his surprise, the Pokemon used the momentum to flip into an aerial flip above him, tail lashing out to throw him off balance.

Move collapsing as he stumbled, attempting to keep his balance, Miky did a few summersaults to get away, but the Abra retained his position.

“Is that all, Miky?”  Jack asked, closing his eyes.  “Your dodging skills are a cut above most of those I’ve fought, and your Trainer’s strategy is on-point, but I’m not quite impressed by your offensive…  Another Bulk Up?”

Miky snickered, completing the Move, and he raced toward the Pokemon.  He didn’t need an attack to win; as Lori instructed had instructed prior, he only had to attach himself to the slippery Abra.

“Mi thinks your very good!  Mi not win if you zippy-zappy teleport everywhere!”

Completing the third Taunt, Miky could sense Lori’s energy dipping low; it was an unfamiliar Move, and they’d only just recently learned it.  Their stalling strategy worked—Barrier dropped—and all the Scratches and Pounds he’d managed to evade were making Jack hesitate.

The Pokemon gritted his teeth, spinning to whip him with his tail, which landed squarely in Miky’s jaws; unempowered, he chomped down, not letting loose.

“Ugh…  Really?”  Jack growled, starting to lose composure; he scratched at Miky’s face, only to be met by a protective, greenish barrier as he used Protect to solidify his hold, latching onto him—he wasn’t going to let him go.


The Abra no doubt had many ways of dealing with him—all non-damaging Moves; all blocked by Taunt—and, naturally, there would come the point where his poise would fracture.

“Nice!”  Lori cheered.  “It’s over!”

Barrier dropped, but he’d found his way through it regardless—Lori would have run out of energy if he’d used Bite repeatedly when Jack could dodge most—but if he bided his time and found a sure way to land the Super Effective attacks, they could win.

“Your tactics are rather… annoying, Miky,” he said, spinning in a circle to shake him off; it was ineffective; Miky was totally focused on biting the living Pinsir out of the Abra, though.

Jack’s claws struck out, and he took it to the face and back, bolstered by his +2 Defense; sucking in Lori’s remaining fortitude, Miky’s dark-laced fangs sank into the Abra’s tail, causing a shiver to run up his spine.  For all the entire setup, it only took two before Jack’s energy matrix shattered, leaving Miky somewhat stunned when Lori cheered.

“We did it!  We totally did it!  We beat Sabrina!”

Miky swallowed as a red beam connected to his collapsed opponent, drawing him back—it was too easy—easier than any of the intense fights he’d seen from his other friends; an overwhelming victory—him?  It didn’t connect, yet the human announcer called it.

“Haha.  Ladies and Gentlemen, what a show of strategy!  As a Dark-Type, Miky is immune to all Psychic Attacks, including Hypnosis!  Huh?  Is this…  Gym Leader Sabrina!”  the man swiftly introduced, giving the floor to the woman as she rose into the air.

Psychic aura enclosing her, Miky’s stomach twisted with uncertainty as she hovered down to him, wearing a thoughtful smile, and her voice filled the stadium, which instantly silenced once she took the stage.

“I will say I have not seen such forethought in strategy for over a year, Mallory and Miky; I have looked into your past and seen all the effort the two of you put in to face me, which there is no greater honor a Gym Leader can experience…  You did wonderful, Miky.  Be proud of your accomplishment here today with your Trainer.”

Miky’s eyes grew big as the intimidating human landed next to him and patted his head; all he’d been told was how impossibly scary this woman was, yet she had such a soft smile.

“You should understand how much your Trainer loves you in devising this win for you.  Ordinarily, Jack would have been able to shut down a Dark-Type completely; Foresight, his disciplined martial arts training, and Status Moves, combined with Teleport would easily have seen his victory.

“Yet, your Trainer put her everything into giving you a very expensive TM that utterly nullified all those countermeasures.  Taunt is often overlooked, not to mention banned in Contests due to it cutting away from the total content and artistry a contestant can display to the world…  In strategy and true-to-life combat, it cannot be underestimated.”

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She broke away, rising into the center of the stadium, and tears started welling up in Miky’s eyes as he surveyed the stadium, hearing claps instead of laughter.

I… I did it?  We won?

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“You did it, bud,” Gables congratulated.  “You beat the world’s scariest Psychic Gym Leader!”

“Woooh!  We get to party tonight, too!”  Roxie cheered.  “We get sweets and lots and lots of ice cream!”

He couldn’t stop the liquid from falling down his face; maybe he wasn’t so powerless, and he just needed to be smarter; like Sabrina said, Lori really did put her all in for him.  His teammates were heartbroken that he was determined to go another route, but he couldn’t have asked for a better Trainer to show him what the bigger world was like.

Thank you, Lori…  I’ll love you forever…

* * *


Lori breathed a sigh of relief, wanting to melt into a steaming hot spring to relax a little before tonight; Sabrina’s wry smirk drew her attention, though, directing everyone’s questioning look to the ceiling.

“How long are you going to be skulking in the shadows, Grandmaster Shauntal?”


Mind blank, she was met by the sudden appearance of her sister’s crushing embrace, materializing from shadows with Minxy, her Frostlass giggling nearby, releasing a chilling mist around them.


“That was so smart!  I recorded the whole thing to show the rest of the League!”

“Uh…  You know it’s recorded by the Gym already?”  she dryly returned, allowing herself to be smothered by her sister’s arms as she pulled her against her chest.  “No…  Sissina…”  she groaned as her sister’s Cofagrigus exited the shadows from the opposite side to draw them both into her coffin to wrap them in shadowy hands within.

This is so embarrassing…  she internally groaned to her Pokemon; she was trapped in her sister’s arms inside of a Cofagrigus; how many other girls had their family randomly show up just after a competition to disrupt everything?  Still, she hugged her back.

“C’mon, Sis, we’re holding up the Gym…”

“No!  Sabrina wants to talk to you more,” Shauntal protested.  “She’ll swap around the schedule, which tells you how amazing you are!  Okay, Sissina, I just needed to get my kiss in,” she cooed, pecking her on the cheek before pulling away.

The Cofagrigus released them from her void-like interior, and her big sister spun away, waving with a wink before fading away with her ghosts.  “I’ll see you in the locker room!”

Doing a quick sweep of the grinning or confused crowd—the cameras were all focused on her—Lori cleared her throat.  “Yeah, well, heh, sorry about that.”

Sabrina shook her head, straight black hair weaving with the motion from her hovering position ahead of her; it certainly wasn’t the reaction she’d expected, but the reasoning soon became clear.

“This was your attempt to bypass Bronze-tier to Silver, and I had to see exactly at what level you and your Pokemon could perform at.”

She shifted a bit to the side as Lori called Miky back to his Poke Ball, releasing him again to listen; she was a bit sore due to the stress of the Master Ball, but it was manageable.

“Yeah…  We won.  I’m sensing a but, though?”

Sabrina drew her attention to one of the monitors above, showing a replay of the match, reminding Lori that this was being viewed around the world.  “Does Miky belong in Silver-tier?  As well as he performed…  No.  It was only due to your extensive forethought and strategy that he managed to beat Jack.”

Miky nodded his agreement, rubbing his arm and accepting a hug from Terri, who jumped up and down while holding his hands, peppering him with questions about the match.

“That being said,” Sabrina continued.  “I may sound harsh in saying this, but it says a lot about you as a Trainer, Lori, that you were able to take a Pokemon that should be above average in Bronze-tier, and give him the ability to compete in borderline Silver when your last Gym Challenge was such a crushing defeat.”

A sad tilt came to Lori’s mouth as she picked up Miky, freeing him from the enthralled Legendary, excited about future Gym Battles, no doubt, and hugged him close.  “You’re not wrong…  I took Misty far too lightly, and I hurt Miky because of it.”

“Hmm-hmm.  Indeed,” Sabrina mused, studying her.  “Misty is far more brutal than people seem to believe, given her cute, peppy, tomboy attitude, and she won’t hesitate to show someone where they’re lacking if she sees something.

“You did well to learn from it instead of giving up like many others might have.  Loss is inevitable to even the greatest of Trainers…  Look at Ash, for example,” she chuckled, pointing her to the middle stands, right where her team was, and causing the cameras and lights to fixate on the group, wearing forced smiles.

“To be honest, your battle against Misty and then me mirrors his battle against Saffron Gym when he went for his Bronze Encrusted Badge; isn’t that right?”

It clicked in Lori’s mind why she was taking time out of the Gym’s set schedule to deliver this show; Sabrina was using her to inspire others.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Legendary-tier Trainer or a Bronze-tier; failure is inevitable, even for a psychic prodigy like me…  I have many failures I must contend with, and that is the key that has unlocked your path into Silver-tier, Mallory.

“You faced your failure and overcame it rather than blaming others, or even yourself, to an extent.  No one can progress while doubting themselves; what do you have to say after your victory?”

Not having anything planned, Lori spoke from the heart, bringing her little Kubfu into her other arm.  “I couldn’t have done it alone,” she said, trying not to choke up.  “I wouldn’t have without my team, family, and friends…  My Pokemon are always supportive…  Heh.  You should see the texts I got before coming.  I’d like to say it was my victory, but the list of people attached to that is way, way too long!  Thank you, everyone… I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Sabrina clapped, and, a little surprised, she saw a glint near her, and Miky reached out to snatch it out of the air, studying the Silver Encrusted Marsh Badge; the golden sheen with its two concentric golden circles gleamed with the silver ring around its edges.

“We… passed?”

“You did,” Sabrina smiled, motioning for her to the locker rooms.  “Your teammates must go through their own examination, but you have shown yourself capable of competing at the Silver-tier.

“Plan carefully, as you did today because out of the ten Moves Jack knew—and yes, he did know Confusion from birth—your strategy locked out eight of them, leaving him with Pound and Scratch; I believe he’ll evolve later today due to this very match, and it will be one he is not soon to forget.  Do not put all your eggs in luck, Lori.”

Knowing it was a call back to her fight against Misty, Lori nodded, and her legs suddenly felt weak.  “Thank you, Gym Leader Sabrina…  I won’t take future Gym Leaders lightly.”

Turning to leave, Lori’s heart pounded in her ears from the standing ovation that she got on her exit; it wasn’t due to the flashiness of her match, but the accomplishment of impressing Sabrina due to her tactics.

Taunt had stopped Teleport, Confuse Ray, Flash, Reflect, and Foresight, while Confusion and Hypnosis were nullified due to the Dark-Type; in essence, she’d turned it back to a newborn fight.

It wasn’t something she could often do—she couldn’t make saves by making that much money gambling—but, in this case, she’d proven to Miky—and to herself—that they weren’t useless.  Amira was her inspiration when it came to research, and Rhea, her golden bundle of hope.

We got our first Silver Badge!

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