B3 — 27. A Toxic Strategy

PoV:

1:  Amira (Our Calculating And Cool Redhead!)

2:  Her Pokemon

3:  Amira (How will this battle turn?)

Pokemon Map: 

I loosely follow this map as a visual guide; the creator made it in paint?!?!  It’s insane!  Some errors here and there, but I follow its design for the most part.  Areas can be further apart, some cities are in the wrong places or not listed, and the regions aren’t nearly so close.  The best map I’ve found, though!

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12:23 p.m. August 15th, Saturday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event).  Day 67.

Events:  Rhea won her Silver-tier Encrusted Badge after a tough battle!  Now, our girls are on their way to getting their four Encrusted Badges for the League.  Onward!  Our girl started her journey on the 9th of June, and the end of registration for the Winter Indigo Cup is December 5th (111 days away).

Amira sat on the bus seat next to Rhea as she got a flood of messages from her family and friends.  Lori was still pouring over their spreadsheets and data points they’d gone over in the seat beside them with a nervous Gold-tier competitor.

Her parents had already sent their messages, so she spent the time with Mariah while her other Pokemon were inside their capsules, hyped for the battle.  Using a brush from her bag to comb out the Meloetta’s hair in her lap.

After several minutes of whispered chatter from other people on the bus, Lori leaned over and giggled.  “It would be pretty simple to find this place just by using your phone GPS, right?”

A small smile lifted Amira’s lips as she turned Mariah around to look at her and give the shy Pokemon a thumbs up.  “Sure.  The question isn’t about finding it, but what would you do once you did?  In this forest filled with ninja Pokemon and spies in every tree, how far do you think you’d get before getting sniped by a Spinarak?”

“True…  Yeah, I can’t see why you’d want to sneak in anyway,” she whispered.  “What would they have that’s worth stealing?”

Amira shrugged, not particularly interested in the topic, so Lori roped the guy next to her into spit-balling ideas to pass the time.  Throughout the thirty-minute, bumpy ride to the dojo, Amira talked with her Pokemon and went over their strategies; she wouldn’t be made a fool in front of most of her family, especially her grandfather and father.

When the bus came to a stop, she took a deep breath before nudging and smiling at Rhea.  The blonde returned the look, but Amira could see her nerves rising with so many people there to cheer her on.  Lori seemed to be as carefree as always,  a defense mechanism Amira had noticed in her teammate.

“You’ll both do great,” she encouraged, getting up to file out with the passengers.  “Our Pokemon have been practicing together for weeks, and we went over a ton of Pokemon Janine can use.”

Rhea tried to show a toothy smile.  “Yeah…  I feel like we kind of got off easy with my last badge because she was planning on using Spite but decided against it after seeing my Battle Dome match.  No!  We did good.  Umm, yeah, we just need to believe in ourselves.”

“That’s the spirit, Lemonade!”  Lori cheered.  “We’re going to kick—woah…  Is this place for real?”

The bright overhead sun momentarily blinded Amira as she got out, prompting her to put on her sunglasses; her nerves were starting to get to her.  When the red-tinted landscape came into focus, she was met by a vibrant, hilly area spotted with the old-fashioned and traditional architecture of Fuchsia’s past.

Ninja facilities and towering castle-like structures poked out of the woods at various heights, and Poison-Type Pokemon filled the trees, roofs, bridges, and air.  Fully clothed students of the dojo sat everywhere, and some even hung upside down on branches or the overhanging roofs; it was like they were the show.

“Crazy,” Lori mumbled, scooting closer to them as a female ninja called for them to group up and follow her into a nearby building.  “How can they defy gravity like that?  It has to be a trick.  Right?”

Rhea laughed.  “The other day, I saw Ash and Dawn play tag across the sky with pre-evolution Pokemon, and I met a Victini inside my soul.”

Amira followed the blonde.  “Right, totally a trick.  It’s not like we’ve seen Psychics, Ash getting hit by a Legendary-tier Flamethrower, Ghosts, an underwater sea temple…”

“Okay.  Okay!  I get your point,” Lori muttered.  “It’s still cool.  I want to learn this Ninjitsu stuff.”

“Do it!”  Rhea encouraged.  “I want to see you disappear in a smoke bomb and breathe fire like Amber.”

Amira smiled at her Braixen’s internal sniff that Lori could never match her beautiful flames.

All of their thoughts and jokes faded away as they entered the building to be met by a staircase that descended deep into the earth.  Everyone’s chatter died except for a few people who made comments, reacting the same way their first time.

They entered an underground world, lit by bright beams that were focused into the giant hidden ninja village; Amira quickly spotted the stadium at its center and the path, rope bridges linking the vast network of trees and buildings.

The female ninja guiding them took them onto an elevator that swiftly descended to a travelator, powered by a rushing river and watermill.

“As you can see, our village founders took our secrecy quite seriously in the past, protecting the Fuchsia City-State from the shadows of our forest.  The lunch break will conclude shortly, so if our competitors will move to the travelator to our right coming up, then that would be wonderful; if you are late, then you will be disqualified—Mr. Dallim, you are not a competitor,” she chided as a man stepped with them to the right as the split came up.

“Oh, eh-hehe.  Right, my mistake,” he grumbled, returning to the other side as more ninjas appeared from the shadows atop the mill.  “I thought you meant for us to go to the right—and how did you know my name?”

“This is your second attempted infraction, Mr. Dallim.”  The female ninja sighed.  “A third will have your citizen ID blocked from returning.  Now, pictures are allowed…”

Lori chuckled with the rest of them as they spit off from the main group.  “Guess he saw himself as a ninja until the real ones showed up.”

Amira took pictures with the rest of the ten Silver and Gold-tier competitors that had waited until the last bus like them.  They were taken right to the locker rooms, and a screen on the wall showed who would go in order, making Amira laugh.

“I guess I don’t get time to rest.”

Rhea’s shoulders drooped.  “Sorry for sleeping in, I just—”

“No need to explain,” Amira returned, cutting the blonde off with a tight hug before pulling away.  “Let’s just do our best.  Mind watching Mariah, Rhea?”

“Absolutely!”

Bending down to pick up the Meloetta, she kissed her forehead and gave her to the blonde.

Lori bumped her fist as Amira pushed her glasses up and stuffed her bag into a locker.  Her name was called, and she waved her friends goodbye before going to the hallway; it was time to knuckle down and get her first Silver Encrusted Badge.

Chest pounding, she wished she would have drank some more water as her mouth went dry.  Walking up the platform, a bright light shone down upon her from the natural mirrors the ninja manually moved, and cheers flooded the stadium.

She was a little surprised to hear her hit song playing in the stands and see people wearing fake Rocket shirts that had her Pokémon themed in the design.

Of course, on the right front row, she found a whole line of very influential figures; even Lance was there, seemingly having to guide the Hoenn Elite-4 couple to the underground location.  And just as she saw the signs her mother and her Pokémon threw into the air, bouncing up and down, a chilling thought slapped Amira in the face.

Taking the stand, her gut turned upon seeing the opposite platform; unlike most Gyms that shared the space with many other aides, this stadium was meant for only one person—Janine, the Ninja Grandmaster.

In a kneeling position, the purple-haired Gym Leader had her eyes closed, meditating on something as the crowd went wild.  She looked to be about as old as Amira, and a swirl of purplish cloud-like energy circled around her figure.

Chakra, Amira thought, taking in the sight and remembering some of her martial arts lessons on the ninja style before glancing at the powerful Grandmasters, Champions, and Legends on the right side of the stadium.   This isn’t just another challenge; Janine can’t allow herself to look weak…  She’s not going to hold back.

Silence took the stadium as traditional drums started playing from the ninjas that appeared atop the walls, followed by wooden instruments that clapped and clattered.

Amira placed her Pokémon in the scanning device, skin tingling with the rhythm of the Fuschia sound.  She saw the neutral look on her grandfather’s face, staring right at her.

Muk.  You knew Janine couldn’t treat me like any other competitor if you showed up.  This is to prove to the world I’m up to the challenge of Silver-tier.

Her Pokémon fed her their support; they’d trained and strategized for this moment.  This private ninja stadium wasn’t like all the other Gyms they’d fought, though, and even if the stage was neutral right now, the environment wouldn’t stay that way for long.

The drums stopped, and Janine’s figure seemed to slip away like fog vanishing from sight.  A soft voice spoke behind her, making Amira flip around, but there was no one there.

“Be calm and reevaluate.  Though it may look impossible, there is a solution to every problem.”

Smoke exploded around Janine’s side of the platform, and when it cleared, she stood at the edge and spoke unto the hushed atmosphere.

“The Silver Contest has begun.  Two Pokémon.  Singles.  May you shine like noonday in the serenity of the still pond.”

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The drums and wood beats picked up again as the floor between them slid back to show a dark abyss, the sides descending in layers that showed various environments, and the one that slid put a tremor through Amira’s tight chest.

Rising up out of the depths, a wide pond bordered by lush greenery emerged; an island with a tall platform was at its center, ropes branching out to link to the small trees surrounding the water.  Unlike Misty’s Gym, there were no floating squares for a Pokémon to use, but there were a few dead logs that probably wouldn’t support a lot of weight.

Cursing inside, Amira did start to panic as the potential options hit her chest like a ton of bricks.  Poison-Water Types…  This is probably our worst matchup.

A section of the floor beside Janine lifted, giving her a small selection of Pokémon she could choose based on the three Pokémon Amira listed as her potential picks.  Amira removed the only option she could make as an opener in this environment, Janine choosing her own.

The drums stopped, anticipation mounting as the natural light filling the stadium tinted red as a tinted glass slipped over the mirrors.  Yellow soon followed.  And when the green shade overcast them, they threw their Pokémon into battle.  The instruments picked up again as the announcer joined the frenzy, with flower petals now falling from the heavens to signal the start of Silver-tier.

This is going to be our hardest fight yet, but it’s our time!

* * *

Serenity flew out of her Poke Ball, the green tint of the overhead light returning to its normal color as she dove into the pond.  The muffled voice of the announcer rose into an uproar with the booms of the drums; she hadn’t felt Amira this frightened since their fight for their lives against the Plasma terrorist.

Amber’s voice hissed through their bond.  “Water!  Why do they always choose water?!”

“It’s only twice—Misty and Janine now,” Holly chimed.  “I think we’ll do great!”

“Says the flower that would be lunch for a Poison-type?”  Amber groaned.  “Why are you never upset you don’t get a turn in Gym Battles?”

“Because I love cheering you guys on!  Wooh!  Go, Serenity!”

Serenity let them talk in the background, filtering them out unless they had something useful to say.  Amber was mostly wonderful at giving advice, well, unless she got flustered.

“Here we go, ladies and gentlemen!  Amira chooses Serenity, the Feebas, and—oh, this is nasty—Gym Leader Janine sends out Toxic, the Mareanie!  Our Rocket is about to meet a toxic wall!”

“Muk!”  Amira and their Fire Fox snarled in unison.  “Against you, it should have Recover at this stage.  Muk.  There’s no way we can punch past her defenses!”

Serenity curved left, shooting through the pond in search of her opponent around the small island.  We can do this, Amira!  Janine said we need to adapt.  I’ll buy us time!

“There you are!”  she said, blank eyes fixating on the starfish-like Pokemon, her ten tentacle headpieces slowly pulling her up to the shore; the purple and teal-colored Pokemon turned, showing a wicked smile.

Drawing on Amira’s energy, five golden barriers surrounded her.

“Toxic Spikes!”  Amira cried.

Instantly pivoting, her small, pink pupil fixated on a camouflaged spike ball that materialized in front of her; it detonated in a spray of toxic barbs, peppering the area.  Serenity spun in a circle, wide field of vision allowing her to dodge the spray as Toxic drew in a clump of sand, beginning to twinkle with a faint white light.

“Stockpile—okay, let’s do this then, Janine,” Amira laughed.  “This is evil, but we can do this—Haze and switch!”

Got it!

Serenity flew to the surface to jump out of the water and launched for the sky; the bright light overhead made the reflective surface blinding on both sides.  Haze worked against all parties, the dispersing vapor shattering her shining light screen.

A red light streaked across the field to connect with her, yet not before Serenity saw another beam enter the water below her, carrying Toxic away from her Haze.

Muk.

* * *

Amber steeled her thumping heart as Amira launched her Poke Ball to the ceiling as hard as she could to reach the center island, Holly jumping up and down in her own capsule.

High hopes, girls!  Holly yelled.

Exiting her Poke Ball, Amber soared over the water; she wouldn’t make it to land, but Amira had accounted for that.  Paw snatching the rope on her descent, she flicked her tail to twist around the taunt tether, and Amber swung to a line below.

Barely catching her wand as it threatened to fall into the water, she breathed out a stressed sigh.  She shot forward, racing across the rope, her flaming ears leaving a trail and the end of her stick sparking to life as Amira became her second pair of eyes.

“To your left!”

Amber twisted into the air, barely spinning out of the way of a jet of water that followed her fall behind a low wooden barrier fixed to the sandy beach; the spray dispersed in a light cloud above, making her hiss as the mist did a tiny bit of damage to her defensive matrix.

“Nice try, girl!”  she called out with a laugh, only to wince a few seconds later.

“Amira surprises us with a Braixen!  Amber seems to have evolved, and what’s this—Gym Leader Janine reveals a Skrelp—the poisonous dragoness Selkie has entered the fray!  Amber, what a maneuver!  What’s this?!”

Eyes sparkling a bright pink, Amber tapped her chest to stop the tingles from spreading further as a crack of thunder came from the lake; a field of psionic energy erupted from Amber’s body as a sharp wind whipped up the sand.

“Psychic Terrain and Rain Storm; we’ve got a match, people!”

Droplets hit Amber’s nose as the radiating psychic field underneath her feet pulsed with sparkling light.  Twirling her wand to mirror the force, she shot out from behind the wooden wall, the field launching her further and providing a boost to her movement.

A hail of fire-dampening droplets emptied from the expanding dark clouds above them, the lake kicking up in the storm, and Amber’s wave of magical light erupted out of her wand, only to hit a shimmering toxic seahorse as he melded into the environment.

“Oh-no.  Camouflage?!”

I know how to handle—oh-no…  He’s Psychic-Type now!

Amber danced back as a black ball shot out of the water, detonating a smoke bomb in the sky to sweep over her with the wind and rain.  It only lasted a few seconds before she managed to use the wooden rise on the island to reach a higher rope, but it was enough for her to lose sight of where he’d gone.

Ears twitching and scanning the choppy waves, she sucked in a sharp breath and howled into the storm, filling the massive ninja-city cavern with her voice.  Power flooded her veins as she repositioned, leaping onto the center platform to use a wall for cover.

The twinkling light of her field filled the zone, heightening her senses and lightening her body for swift action.  She grimaced as her ears and wand flames dimmed, dampened by the oppressive rain.

Amira, should I stop the Terra—

“Jump!”

“Switch!”

She launched up as a glob of purplish liquid melted through the wall, eating through the wooden floor where she’d just stood.   Amber shot three small balls of flames against the water, exploding into steam as a red light connected with her, carrying Amber back into her Poke Ball.

* * *

Serenity entered the cloud her teammate created, diving deep into the sparkling pinkish field infused inside the lake as a mist flooded the currents to obscure the waters in a gray veil.  Learning from her sea battles against Gables, she zipped through it, searching for the sign of something disrupting her fog.

The thunderstorm activated Swift Swimming, doubling her speed as she scanned for her opponent, only to be met by a counter veil of dark smog and shiny bubble mines that slowly exited the blackness.

Smart, she hummed, hearing the chuckles from inside the smokescreen.  But I can just do this…

Drawing in a large amount of Amira’s energy, Serenity easily moved around the bubbles; both of them were obscured from the other, but she had a somewhat hax Move that followed its prey.  Preparing to launch the devastating, extra-charged Move, Amira groaned.

“She recalled Selkie; Janine is going to use the smokescreen and storm to set up Toxic Spikes.”

Good.

Dark purplish force gathered in Serenity’s mouth as she screamed her draconic roar, releasing a dragon-shaped, jagged bolt of energy into the darkness.  It dispersed the smog, searching for its target, and Serenity beat her fin, spinning around the Dragon Pulse until she saw the wide-eyed Mareanie’s shocked face, unable to get advice from the Gym Leader at Silver-tier.

Toxic tucked into a ball, a blue bubble surrounding her as the scary draconic force opened its mouth to chomp down on the starfish.  The second it lifted, Serenity was hovering right in front of her, large eyes shining pink with Psychic waves pulsing into the Pokemon’s mind; Toxic’s tense body loosened.

“Hide from your trainer,” Serenity said in her monotone voice.

“Hypnosis—nice!”  Serenity and Holly screamed as she spun behind a fallen log, twinkling with a medium glow.  “She can’t switch now!”

“Move to the shore on my Trainer’s side of the beach.”

Toxic spun in a cartwheel, kicking up sand as she repositioned into a dangerous position, and Amira recalled her.

* * *

 Releasing a loud howl as she exited her Poke Ball, Amber further increased her Attack as she ran across the rope; she kept her body low and used her tail not to get swept off by the medium gusts, fire from her ears, tail-tip, and ears trailing after her with Psychic Terrain empowering her swifter pace.

A grin spread across Amber’s fox-like face as Toxic exited the water, fingers twirling her wand as it glowed and sparkled.  The Mareanie froze in place, snapping out of the mental attack, yet Amber had already charged her enhanced, focused blast as she soared through the fire-dampening rain, pointing her stick at the starfish.

A massive beam of Psychic energy erupted from the illuminated point, enhanced by the Terrain and hitting a critical weak point as Toxic opened its veil for the blast to hit her square between her eyes.

“Don’t let up!”  Amira shouted.  “We can’t let her Recover!”

Sand exploded in an array of wet clumps that Amber pushed through.  Landing in the crater, Amber spun her wand again, pursuing the confused Pokemon in its tumbles across the stormy shore and sending more hypnotizing pulses at Toxic.  Her spinning eyes went wide, mouth hanging open as Amber continued her assault.

Twisting in a sharp circle, her tail whipped the Pokemon up for her foot to pin it against a thick platform support beam; one foot on the sand, the other holding the Brutal Star Pokemon in place, Amber pointed her glowing wand at Toxic’s drooling face.  Pink light condensed at the point, and a brilliance blinded the area as she discharged it at point-blank range.

The support beam cracked and chipped away in the Psybeam burst, the radiance chewing through the Marenie’s powerful defenses; Toxic snapped out of her Confusion and Hypnosis partway through, white light gathering to Recover as she hissed in pain, but it was too little, too late—Toxic’s energy matrix shattered.

Easing up on her flood of energy, the light faded with the Rain Dance and her Psychic Terrain; her fur sopping wet, Amber let the unconscious Mareanie fall to the sand.  Chest heaving, Amber forced a short chuckle, swallowing and feeling somewhat drained, which showed how bulky this living thorn had been.

Cheers erupted from the stands as Amber looked up to see the replay; Serenity flushed Toxic out and brainwashed her to go into a compromising position that Amber could have never gotten the Mareanie.  After that, she just had to keep the heat up and zero in on the Poison/Water Pokemon’s weakness to Psychic Energy under Psychic Terrain.

Good job, Serenity, Amber sighed, holding a hand against her chest and waving at Amira’s mother, father, and their Pokemon, waving their signs in a frenzy.  One down… one to go.

Sticking her wand in her soaked tail fluff with a bit of effort as the sun filled the area again, Amber picked up Toxic and jogged around the island to let Janine recall her.  Amber’s heart froze, fur rising in alarm as the sand in front of her erupted upward to reveal a spiky ball of poisonous death; she’d messed up.

“Son of a Jinx…”

Hands full with Toxic, surprised, and with her wand in her tail, Amber tried to hold up the Mareanie in a panic, unable to be harmed by her own spikes.  A red beam yanked the starfish out of her hands at that very second; she tried to activate Protect but didn’t make it.  Without a defensive shield, an eruption of toxic fog hit her dead in the chest.

“Amber!”

Barbs peppering her, Amber was sent tumbling into the surf; Amira’s own lifeline was too late, carrying her into her Poke Ball, but the poison was already spreading.

* * *

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Amira recalled Amber too late, cursing as Janine showed an impressed nod at their blitz combo; they’d worked on versions of it the previous day.  The toxic Gym Leader wouldn’t let them rest, though; Selkie came out, forcing her to throw Serenity into the fight.

Amber was their heavy hitter since Serenity’s offensive Stats were extremely low, even when pumped to their max genetically.  Janine had managed to get two sets of spikes down, doubling their potency as they fused, but something wasn’t right: Amber’s energy was diminishing far too fast in her Poke Ball, even for what she’d read about deadly poison.

Serenity, I think Poison works based on tainted energy metabolized, which means…  Our Master Ball connection is more than tripling the infection rate!  We have to get a Haze down to dampen it to normal Poison!  We’re on the back foot now—all she has to do is stop us from getting that Haze out!


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