[Yo, champ in the making. This entry is part one for my battle against Eisha, but it is also part a larger story starting here
. I heavily recommend you check that out before continuing!]
Melanie hated the Challenger Chain train layout.
Midnight Tracks was a mess of cobwebbed tacks. They carried beautiful full trains. Trains built to last and run forever in blocky glory. Trains that ferried cargo more than men. Yet, they could carry cars of bunks and tables. Be as classy as the trains of myth. There was a mystic about them, a certain charm and character. It was all far more metal, more rock and roll and American.
These trains though, they were slick. Meant to run only in their well monitored environment ferrying people alone. Melanie got a wistful smile at the thought of what would happen to these trains should an Aron find its way on the tracks. They were double decker, something her home had few of by comparison, though she was no stranger to them. Melanie always rode on top, they were usually more empty and private, not to mention had the better view. The tracks felt too smooth, but it was still oddly comforting riding the train. Even though she was at home only a week ago, the feeling of something so familiar sat easy with the girl. Happy memories flooded unbidden. Her hand idly petted Battler’s forehead as she settled into her usual position with him at her feet.
The feel of slowing down for their first stop on this connection brought with it distain. The chaotic rambling of tracks leading outwards from her hometown to the world had a certain logic to it. A logic that Challenger Chain denied. Sure, you couldn’t apply the same rules to an island chain. It was different geologically, it needed a different approach. For the most part the circuit of passenger trains around the island with an, expensive and impressive, underground rain connecting them made perfect sense.
But there was that one connection. Everything else on the map made sense to Melanie’s sensibilities, but there was just one connection that drove her crazy. The underground tracks came up in three places on the largest island. The heart of these places was IPL HQ, the central administration buildings. Given where everything was located, this wasn’t a terribly bad place to come up. However, the local above-ground trains ran completely around the outside of the island.
Everywhere else this was fine, but on Challenger Island the most important destination was, in Melanie’s mind, the commercial district. There wasn’t much to do on Challenger Island by way of business or shopping, except at the commercial district. It was not terribly far from the IPL HQ. But does the train track lead straight there? Nope, instead it goes a roundabout way through the boring Johto Monorail and then to the blah Grand Prix Stadium before finding its way somewhere useful. Both of those stops would’ve been better served as one way tracks veering off from a line that was straight to and from IPL HQ. Thus, the interisland train would be a mere one connection away from the lifeblood of Challenger Island.
It was such a small difference. Since she was going straight to the Stadium this time anyways it didn’t even add a destination on her journey. Yet, her home sensibilities still thought the trip would be shorter her way. Melanie was so sick of the sight of the freaking Johto Monorail when she could be seeing the central destination of the islands. Who even used the Monorail all that often anyways? Johto was boring by comparison. It just made for better traffic flow her way. She glared rudely at the source of her insane ire.
The Ninetales by her side nudged Melanie’s arm with her snout. Can we ride it soon?
She protected her thoughts.
Melanie whirled on the Ninetales. The little traitor was enjoying this senseless diversion?! A sharp retort started to form out of her annoyance.
Then, Melanie’s face startled with realization. Her expression softened greatly. She stopped stroking Battler to pet Sally behind the ears. “Ya…” Melanie said. “Soon.”
Apparently the train held thoughts of home for more than just herself. Melanie could feel her dumb bias in design slipping away. This stop had a point after all. If not for herself then for Sally, she had forgotten the Ninetales was native to Johto.
It wasn’t long before they moved again, speeding down towards their appointed match. Melanie pulled out a phone to check the time. After eight, the battles had already started. She stifled a yawn. You know that you are on the opposite side of the world, correct? Sally pointed out. Shouldn’t you be awake during the day then? As opposed to your current state of having just woken up and thrown your clothes back on.
“Hell, fucking, no.” Melanie said. “Doesn’t work that way, at all. Sun down, I’m awake. Sun up, fuck all ya’ll.”
Melanie was always impressed by Sally’s ability to project disappointment with her canine face. I’m quite glad that in this confided space we are at least in an almost empty car without children onboard.
“Children can suck it.” Melanie frowned. She was not the fondest of normal people. Tiny people were ten times worse.
Sally realized her disapproval of Melanie’s language was useless. Well, what battle strategy will you use?
Melanie shrugged. “I dunno, send Battler out, judge from there. It’s only three mons, so I just need to react. I know a bit of Rem’s team, and while I like the Dark-types I get the feeling he’s still a bit… green. If it was a Gym Battle instead of IPL I wouldn’t go all out. So, no way would I feel right sending you out unless he’s got some super Pokemon hiding in the wings.” I am uncertain, did you just compliment me?
“I stated a fact, you’re far more heavily trained than any mon I own. Heck, you’re the dancing queen. Young and sweet only seventeen.” Melanie chuckled a bit. “I don’t have Pokemon that are as old as that or have fought for… fourteen years straight was it?” No, it is fifteen now.
Sally gently corrected. She looked out the window again and seemed more agitated.
The gym leader started. She took a very educated guess at what was wrong. “…I’m sorry my brother’s a dick.” Melanie said. “I really am… I didn’t think he would…” It was my choice.
“That doesn’t fucking mean he should stay away, okay?”
Sally pulled her head away from Melanie’s hand and leaned down into her lap. That was perhaps the first time she had enjoyed hearing the girl’s cussing.
The rest of the ride was silent and short. While Melanie hated the two ways in and out of Grand Prix, she had to admit they tried to make both tracks look gorgeous. It was almost a shame she found the stadium itself so boring. Fighting on top of these rails would make a lovely background for a battle. The well-trimmed and mighty trees, the small water features scattered about, the odd Pokemon roaming free, it was so picturesque.
By contrast, Grand Prix Stadium, for all its style on the outside was just… big inside. The prize of Challenger Island had little going for it besides being massive. In fact they boasted that it was the largest in the world. That was probably why it sucked. There was only so much designing one could do with a big empty space. It is hard to express something artistically in such an area, either that or expensive.
Perhaps it was merely Melanie’s taste that made her disappointed with this place. She knew others were intrigued by it. But for her intimacy was key. She didn’t want to stand back a mile back from her Pokemon or even her opponent while battling.
A slight smirk appeared on Melanie’s face. She had of course been witness to the spectacular disasters that befell challengers of Siebold. By far the most amusing of which had been the Abomasnow Trainer’s attempt at punching his own way through the challenge without using more than one Pokemon. Perhaps that had been too intimate, but hilarious. That guy, she would love to have him in Effort Values in Learning. It would be so, so sweet. What team didn’t need an absolute nutter and possible bouncer type?
Melanie shook her head. She had to stay focused. Today she had two battles. First, she needed to take on Weblord. The second one might be trickier.
She knew where she stood with Rem. They at least knew each other. The second battle for today had come out of nowhere. The gym leader glanced down at Sally. While she had despised the Pokemon’s options at first, now Sally was a more trusted confident for these things. “Whadidya think of that black girl?”
Sally inwardly groaned. I see you have taken racial sensitivity courses.
“What? I only said black, not like I said-”
Sally glared intimidatingly.
African American.” Melanie finished with a smirk. “I wouldn’t want to assume her country of origin. That would be insensitive!”
The Ninetales broke eye contact. For all the positive steps that had happened since STAB, Melanie was still Melanie, perhaps in far too many ways. You might want to consider offering up details about someone other than their race. Then perhaps I would know who you meant.
“Chick that we are fighting in round two, well, not round two round two, but ya know what I mean.” Oh? That girl? I am afraid that while I would love to correct you properly, I missed her name.
“I’m not sure we got it.” I would not know. I was distracted at first.
“No, wait, totally did. See, here’s what happened…
“As we were walking up to the place you smelled something stinky and you wanted to smell it’s butt-“ I smelled no such thing. Sally bristled. It was not even a smell. I heard something.
“Ya ya, whatever. Anyways, one of the morons who took on Elite Douche was there. She saw that I was signing up and started, ‘You are Melanie Aurora Knight, the Gym Leader! My Dark Mistress of the Night! Defender of all that is under the Moon! Savior of the Universe! And the one-’” None of that happened!
Sally interjected. You are the only one who makes up such names for yourself.
“Where you freaking around there?” Melanie asked. “No? Oh right, you heard jack all with your super ears. Stop being a fucker. Anyways…”
The Gym Leader’s hand waved elegantly into a curtsy. “As your legend and mercy have spread wide, I wish to beseech you for a most generous battle in which you shall beat my ass red.” Apparently you had this conversation in ye olden times.
Melanie shrugged. “Then I was all, ‘Whatever. Let’s rock this joint.’ My name is Melanie Knight-” Oh, so now you are introducing yourself to your biggest fan?
“Hey, it’s polite to anyways! And she was all like, ‘I’m-” Melanie made garbled noises. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, your imminence.’ And that’s where you came in.” The train started slowing down. Melanie pushed Sally and Battler back towards the isle.
The Ninetales indignantly jumped away. “Niiiiii.” She threated Melanie. The girl ignored her.
“’Yo, is that your dumbass Ninetales about to get her head chomped off?’” Melanie continued her story. Her arm thrust outwards to indicate something off in the distance. “’She shouldn’t be sticking her snout in such machinery. My Pokemon would never do something so moronic.’” It was rattling fiercely!
Sally defended. It was also making this high pitched tone. Battler wanted to Fire Blast it. I talked him out of that. I know how to operate such things.
“Oh yes, I can see by the way your opposable thum- oh waaaait. You don’t have those? Sucks to be you.”
Sally lowered her head. I do not need such things anyways.
She defended herself. In either case, I know she was not like you describe her.
“So was.” She seemed more apathetic. Her main goal, near as I could tell, was to test herself. She kept saying that she wanted a challenge and you were too busy being… yourself to even recognize half of what she said.
“Like what did I miss?” Well, for starters your story does not include that she said she was signing up anyways. Challenging us was merely a matter of convenience. She was looking for more people to take on, we only happened to be nearby.
“My version is more exciting. You make it sound so boring.” It was rather a drool affair. I, however, do not see your version as an improvement.
“It adds a relationship! What do you want me to say, ‘Ya, we ran into this chick, she challenged us.’” Well, there is rather nothing more to the matter is there not?
“It can be better though. Like, let’s say we go with, ‘Oh my, my Pokemon would never do such a stupid thing. So untrained.’” Melanie continued her impression and started a conversation with herself.
“’Hey, Sally knows what she is doing, why don’t you back off?’
“’Like I will back off of a Gym Leader who can’t keep her Pokemon under control.’
“’Oh ho ho, I’ll beat your face in!’ And that’s when she pulled back to wallop me!” That definitely did not even remotely-
“Shush. ‘Hey, save it for the ring asshole!’ I shouted gloriously. And then in a rage we both signed up to beat each other up. With pokemon.”
Sally shook her head and sighed. “Niiiigh….”
Battler scoffed, he didn’t understand all of Melanie’s story, but her energy was infectious. Melanie grinned in victory that the critics had reviewed her version favorably. “See? We need motivation to give it our all.”
In protest the Ninetales fell silent. Melanie’s feet resounded against the stairs to the stadium. Apparently they were just late enough to avoid the crowds. That was good, but even with the main crowd having entered plenty of trainers still wandered about. The grand entrance was large enough that Melanie didn’t have to walk anywhere near them though. She glanced up at the archway and stepped inside. “Now, just to find where we need to go.” She told her crew.
The girl stood and pulled her phone back out of her pocket. She flicked over the touch screen till she got what she was looking for. The instructions for trainers included how to get around to the ready rooms. She had never been behind the scenes for Grand Prix before. Melanie knew there were a few different rooms circling about the building. Most of them were standard fairs for a big battle hall, food stands, drinks, desserts, and merchandise. Aside from that was supposed to be other halls for the trainers to use before the matches.
Melanie thumbed over the relevant section and highlighted it. She then copied it down and switched over to a notepad app. On that she put the instructions and pressed part of the screen. The words projected over her phone in a blue holographic display. The girl’s eyes were more than good enough to read the words without the projection, but it was easier to watch where she was going while trying to follow them this way.
While the girl spun in place looking for confirmation on what direction to go, Sally peaked up at the holographic display. That is to the left.
She told Melanie.
“I freaking know, just orienting myself.” The trainer grumbled. She walked along the extremely wide corridor till she saw the point she was looking for. Eventually she came to a stall built into the walls. “Hey.” She said. “I’m Melanie Aurora Knight, nine and nine thirty.”
The deskman of the checkpoint checked his schedule and then glanced back up. “Uuum.” He said slowly. “You have a sword on your back.”
Melanie’s eyes rolled. This again.
She couldn’t imagine how stupid some places could be with rules. Had they never checked a Doublade’s Pokedex entry before? Policies against weapons were trite and pointless. “Part of the uniform, bro.” She said as an excuse. The girl’s hands did a practiced gesture of pulling out a wallet marked with a huge league insignia and opened it up to show her badge and face. The convenient truth had always worked before to get her past normal regulations. “I’m cleared.”
He pursed his lips considering the situation. Eventually the man decided that he wasn’t in charge of that kind of security. If she got this far on the island without someone else stopping her he doubted there was a point in contesting her now. “Fine.” His thumb jerked back. “Blue lines along the floor lead to the prep rooms; green lines can take you to the lockers if you need to change, computers to check before the matches, or whatever else; red lines and doors are for employees only.”
“Right, if I see someone else fucking around behind the red doors I’ll be sure to remind them not to be there.” Melanie said quickly. Sally’s eyes rolled and Battler scoffed. “Adios, stupido.
” Melanie waved her hand behind her as she pushed into the double doors next to the man.
The dark dressed girl hummed to herself as she slipped by. She spontaneously pulled out some headphones that plugged into her phone. Her feet did a short skipping motion as she marched to follow the blue line. Along the way she glanced into various other rooms. Most of the red doors were hard to see much in. The windows built into them only showed off various bits of machinery or pipes. Some had the windows blacked out by paper on the opposite side.
Green rooms usually had open doors already. The ones for changing didn’t really have doors so much as short corridors with bends. Melanie counted three of them, two with familiar signs for male and female, the third with a sign incorporating both. The gym leader looked curiously at that one, but then decided it didn’t matter. A room was a room, she didn’t want even other girls, especially ones like Dill, seeing her naked. If someone else didn’t give a shit, not Melanie’s problem. Heck, she didn’t even know if these lockers were really ones where everyone walked around naked. Maybe they were just for set up or whatever. She’d rather use the one where Battler was allowed in anyways, unless Pokemon didn’t count or whatever. Lockers were weird; they had weird rules and policies. Best avoided if at all possible.
Finally, she found her way to the blue room. It was spacious with a nice double door at one end clearly leading out into the arena. She sat down at a bench facing a big screen. Not that any of it was interesting to her. Sally seemed curious though. The Ninetales projected her thoughts again. Is that not the woman who challenged you while signing up?
“Eh, black girl?” Sally bashed her forehead into Melanie’s leg. “Ouch, quit it.”
The face on the screen was that same douche. Melanie quirked a brow. She paused her music and fiddled with her phone till she found the official match times. It didn’t take long to work out who it was. “Eight, Eisha Shanna vs Clament. Eight thirty, Eisha Shanna vs Fio. Us. Then motherfucking Eisha Shanna vs us. Another one for kicks. Presumably after that Eisha will take on the seven evil exes. Then, Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White and Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s Black Knight.” Melanie shook her head. “Guess she just really likes fighting.”
On screen an Umbreon put up a shield against a Jolteon. Melanie bit her lip slightly. “Protect?” Wish Protect seems likely.
Almost certain. You never run Protect without Wish.” Assuming this trainer considers such synergy and is not merely running a random moveset.
“No way, you learn Moonlight naturally no one would use-” -protect unless they already bred for Wish.
“And that set is best at Wish passing or-“ -for toxic stall. That technique is a bit old-
“-but no less useful. Most likely a support-” -and therefore a tank with the Synchronize ability.
“A great mirror matchup for Spiritfire.” Because her own Synchronize would work against them-
“- and Screech plus Moonlight would break the stall. They can’t use Screech themselves, not with those moves.” But they could Baton Pass out.
“Maybe, but it’s favorable enough to be worth a shot if they stay in. Not to mention, Foul Play does nothing to Spiritfire.” Is that what would be referred to as ironic?
Melanie chuckled. “Spiritfire just happens to be top Umbreon when it comes to Foul Play is all. Funny coincidence something so weak against her is so effective for her.” She is good against Physical attacks in general, certainly all that she herself can learn.
“-and resistant and immune to virtually every typical Special Attack for an Umbreon.”
A flash of poison on screen confirmed the pair’s theory and solidified their thoughts. Information could be dangerous in the hands of an experienced Pokemon fighter. In this case, Melanie and Sally both had the distinct advantage of having grown up around Markus. Not to mention Melanie’s own expertise with Dark-type Pokemon. Umbreon was practically the family’s signature Pokemon.
The girl smugly grinned and continued her music. The fight against this Eisha had already begun; she just needed to keep the edge. She hummed along with the rock sounds exploding out of her headphones. Battler joined in a little bit with short howls of enjoyment. Sally seemed more curious about the battle on the screen than the music.
Eisha’s style was a step ahead of plenty of Trainers Melanie had fought. She would probably be a shoe in for a gym battle. Or at least she would be on a technical level. It was harder to judge how well a trainer connected to their Pokemon. She would need to get a better feel for the trainer on the fly. It was one of the many reasons Gym Battles existed.
Eventually, the fight was over. A short while after that the announcer called out the name of Remien Dacourix. Melanie perked up. “Showtime.” She told the two Pokemon. The dark haired girl pushed up and turned up the volume on her music to eleven. She took in a deep breath. Her body swayed in anticipation.