19 Improvement - Part 1
Cynthia was stood on the platform in the same room that she had first addressed all the trainers on the first day of the training camp. Once again, behind her were the specialists that she had managed to assemble. 'Champion' had, surprisingly, not commented on their use, and she suspected he enjoyed the idea as much as she did. At least she hoped so. In front of her were the trainers, assembled as they had been three days previously. The only difference was that stood next to her was the Pokémon Master, in his standard black clothes. The man who she had spent more than two months trying to understand and get to know, and failed miserably in both tasks. Unlike last time, when she had done the talking, Cynthia stood and listened as 'Champion' stepped forwards to address the thirty trainers in front of him.
"Cynthia has prevailed on me to spend a day helping with the training. That day is today. I will make something clear from the start. I do not have time to deal with those who aren't willing to listen. I will not repeat things. And if I suspect that you are wasting my time, you will regret it. Questions?"
There was a silence so complete that it was deafening. Nobody moved, not wanting to be the one to disturb the greatest Pokémon Trainer in living memory. 'Champion' waited a moment, before starting to talk once again.
"Proceed to the mixed fields."
Cynthia winced slightly at the commanding tone, but nobody complained or even looked like they were considering it. Every trainer that she had invited to the camp had been eager at the opportunity to learn under her; a trainer that everybody had considered the best of a generation until 'Champion' taken her title. Coupled with the chance to train under specialists who understood their type perfectly, and it was hard to say no.
However, she knew that this was what they had all truly hoped for; the chance to train with the Pokémon Master. Misty in particular looked absolutely thrilled, having experienced first-hand how skilled he was.
Pikachu, who had insisted on coming today was looking equally eager, but he also had a hidden idea, to try to work out why the Pokémon Master seemed so familiar.
As they reached the field, they found the four regions set up with four different types; Water, Fire, Rock and a standard battlefield. The water field was a simple pool without any platforms, whilst the rock was equally standard across the majority of stadiums. The fire field was field of hot coals which had platforms suspended over it.
'Champion' stood waiting for the trainers as they stood on the edge of the battle area. As the last one arrived, 'Champion' gave a simple command.
"Those of you that have one, release a Water Pokémon."
Of the thirty trainers, only nine didn't have a Water-type, and soon the water field was busy with Pokémon. Misty felt 'Champions' eye on her as she fingered her Pokéball's, and she chose to release her Dewgong into the water.
As the last of the Pokémon materialised, 'Champion' held up his hand, a Pokéball in it, and released his Sharpedo onto the edge of the Rock field next to the Water field. All the water Pokémon instantly turned to face the Brutal Pokémon, but Sharpedo scanned them until he saw Misty's Dewgong.
As the two Pokémon locked eyes, Sharpedo smiled at the Sea Lion Pokémon. Not the smirk it had on its face whilst battling, but a smile which was one between two comrades. Dewgong blinked, then smiled back, before her attention was sent back to 'Champion' who was talking again.
"Water is fluid, and ever changing, whilst possessing great power. Water Pokémon are among the most versatile when used properly, in particular their amphibious abilities giving them a whole new area to dodge into. However, the concept of an ever-changing machine is one that can be incorporated into battling. Particularly in the ability to dodge attacks, but fluidity is vital in moving from attack to defence and stringing attacks together. Observe." He then turned to Cynthia and nodded, causing the ex-master to turn to her Milotic that she had released.
"Milotic, Hydro Pump followed by Aqua Tail."
The Tender Pokémon raised its head before firing a torrent of water at Sharpedo. Sharpedo lurched to the side, to avoid the water before firing his own attack straight back catching Milotic before she could use Aqua Tail. Struggling through the impact of Sharpedo's Water Gun, Milotic surged forwards, only to find that Sharpedo had dived into the water, using a weak Crunch on Milotic as she passed overhead. Sharpedo then spun away from Milotics second Hydro Pump, firing another Water Gun at point-blank range sending Milotic crashing back into the water. Cynthia then called out for her Pokémon to use recover, and to stop the fight as Sharpedo regained his original position.
"So, there you saw Sharpedos fluidity. He dodged an attack before firing his own whilst still having enough time to dodge and attack again." 'Champion' said. "Sharpedo was holding his attacks back there, but you saw how hard it is for Milotic to fight back. The crucial part is when your Pokémon dodge is that they can then get an attack in before their opponent can recover. If they come out facing the wrong way, you have gained nothing. And when done properly, you will see that your fights become more visually inspiring, something of importance to both trainers and coordinators. A Pokémon fighting with the fluidity of water is a sight to behold as well as being very hard to defeat. You will be able to practice this later, but now your Pokémon have seen and heard, recall them."
The trainers did as he ordered, their faces showing their concentration as they listened to 'Champion'. He moved away from the water field after recalling Sharpedo, and stepped towards the Fire field. As the trainers assembled around it, they were ordered to release the fire types that they had. Once the Fire Pokémon were stood on the hot coals, 'Champion' released his Charizard, who stood at the centre of the field, tall and proud. 'Champion' then turned back to the trainers.
"Fire itself is dangerous, possessing incredible power but can be hard to control. Trying to get fire to do what you want can be a long, difficult task. Fire Pokémon are similar in nature, often capable of the most powerful attacks, but Fire types are notoriously hard to control. With these Pokémon trust is vital to being able to use them effectively. Once you have Pokémon their trust, you need to work on timing. If you are able to have them strike at the right moment, they can be devastating, but at the wrong moment and it is wasted. Observe."
This time it was Cynthia's Garchomp that had been chosen to help with the demonstration, and at a command from Cynthia he fired a Flamethrower at Charizard, who dodged with a smooth turn. As Garchomp continued to try to hit Charizard, 'Champion' turned back to the trainers.
"At the moment Charizard is merely dodging to try to get no advantage. This is useful at times, but works best when your Pokémon are able to dodge using the least possible effort, like Charizard is now. The lesson from the water can then be applied, and Charizard can dodge and strike back with devastating force from a position where he won't miss. For this example, Charizard will strike an area to the side of Garchomp, as the intention of the lesson is not to injure Cynthia's Pokémon."
Turning back to his Pokémon who was still dodging, 'Champion' gave a command. As the next Flamethrower streaked in, Charizard suddenly jumped, allowing it to pass immediately under him. Before the attack even reached where he had been, Charizard struck back, a devastatingly powerful Blast Burn attack scorching an area ten meters to the side of Garchomp who couldn't move since he was still attacking.
Despite the distance, the power of the attack could be felt across the room, and Garchomp visibly reeled backwards at the impact of it. Charizard then settled back to the ground as if he hadn't moved, whilst 'Champion' turned back to the watching trainers.
"Here you saw Charizard not get hit once whilst he struck back with overwhelming force as when the chance presented itself. The concept of a devastating strike comes most naturally to fire Pokémon so I am demonstrating it with them, but with sufficient work any Pokémon is capable of it. And dodging is something that any Pokémon is capable of doing, even one as large as Charizard. He didn't use his wings once, and yet dodged some twenty Flamethrowers. Now, recall your Fire Pokémon."
As the trainers did so, 'Champion' recalled Charizard and stepped over to the Rock field, letting the trainers follow. 'Champion' told them to release Rock or Ground types which they did, before releasing his Onix. As the Rock Snake Pokémon reared his head, 'Champion' turned to the trainers once again.
"Rock itself is unyielding, never giving way and being resolutely stubborn. Rock Pokémon are notorious for their ability to endure attacks. This, once again is something that can be taught to all Pokémon, regardless of type, although this is one of the harder things to teach. However, the hidden strength of the Rock-type is in the ability to strike multiple times whilst enduring a hit. If you attack Onix and he dodges and strikes back he gets in one attack which you might not be able to dodge. Yet if Onix knows that your attack won't hurt him at all, he will endure it and strike back two or three times if he is quick enough. Once again, observe."
Cynthia had sent Garchomp across to face up against Onix. The Pokémon had volunteered to do as much of the training as possible, simply because he wanted to prove to the trainer who had beaten him that he was powerful. 'Champion' had agreed, since Garchomp was capable of most of what he needed. As Garchomp faced up to Onix, Cynthia called out another attack.
"Garchomp, Mud Shot."
As the stream of mud fired from Garchomp, Onix fired off a Rock Throw before using Earthquake. Garchomp was unable to dodge either as he was still using his own attack, and since he couldn't dodge, found himself hit by both. Getting back up, he looked at Onix, the Pokémon unfazed by the hit he had taken.
"There Onix demonstrated that by taking a hit, he can get in two of his own. Garchomp was unable to dodge because he was still attacking. Proceed to the last field."
Recalling Onix, and gesturing for the other trainers to do the same for their Pokémon, 'Champion' strode over to the final field, the standard field. Turning to the trainers, he released his Altaria, and then gave instruction for them to release any Flying Pokémon that they had.
"The last aspect that I will cover is simple; dodging. If you are up against a stronger opponent, a good strategy is to wait for him to make a mistake. Whilst you do that, you cannot let him hit your Pokémon. The best Pokémon at dodging are flying types, simply due to their extra dimension in which to move; the sky. Whilst the other aspects are vital, being able to dodge is crucial in both maximising the usefulness of the water's fluidity and the fires' power. If you can dodge effectively, you can use the fluidity of water to move between attack and defence as well as the raw power of fire to make each attack count. Observe."
Garchomp started firing Flamethrowers up at Altaria who dodged with ease. Cynthia released her Milotic once again, and soon water attacks interspersed the fire attacks racing into the sky. Altaria dodged them all with ease, barely doing more than slipping side to side. Turning to the trainers, 'Champion' ordered them all to release a Pokémon that was capable of long range attacks, and to move their flying types out of the way.
They quickly did so, leaving Altaria still dodging Garchomp and Altaria, whilst a flock of flying Pokémon watched from the side, and thirty more Pokémon stood watching from the ground, with the specialists not releasing any of theirs.
"Now order your Pokémon to attack Altaria." 'Champion' said. "Tell them to keep attacking until I order them to stop, and then watch."
Misty blanched at the instruction, realising that Altaria was going to be forced to dodge more than thirty Pokémon attacking at different times, with different attacks. They might collide and explode, and other things that could be problematic. Feeling a weight leave her shoulder, Misty glanced down to see Pikachu watching Altaria, his cheeks sparking and a look of determination in his eye. He glanced back at Misty, with a smile, before focusing on the dodging Pokémon above him. Suddenly, all the other Pokémon except Pikachu who were on the ground started firing attacks up.
"Left, swerve up, dive, spiral up, loop down, race right" 'Champion' started calling up to Altaria, who followed his instructions to the letter. As time wore on, the trainers stood in awe of Altaria, as she successfully dodged the attacks minute after minute.
As she got close to the ground, Pikachu fired his own electric attack up, which 'Champion' was able to give a command to dodge, much to the electric Pokémon's annoyance. After nearly ten minutes of dodging, 'Champion' called a stop to the attacks. Altaria floated up in the sky, before descending to the centre of the ring of Pokémon that had tried to knock her out of the sky.
Barely breathing heavily at all, Altaria looked around at the Pokémon who had clearly felt the strain of such constant attacking. As the trainers stared in disbelief, 'Champion' spoke once again.
"What you just saw is a Pokémon who is good at dodging. When your Pokémon trust you to be able to guide them to the extent Altaria does with me, it is very hard to hit. The problem being with endurance, which is the second to last thing that I shall discuss with you. Your Pokémon must be physically fit, or they will struggle to be able to use all aspects of their fighting abilities to the greatest extent. For example, my Pokémon are capable of running long distance as well as firing attacks at a faster rate than yours were and for far, far longer. If you are unable to get your Pokémon to be as fit as they can be, then you will struggle to emulate what I have taught you here. As for how to teach this to your Pokémon, that is going to have to be for you to work out. I will say however, that some Pokémon are naturally good at certain aspects of what I have shown you, so you may wish to work with that type of Pokémon. The final thing to consider in battling is strategy. This is something that certain trainers excel at, such as Cynthia. If you want an example from my own fights, watch how Miss Waterflowers Gyarados was defeated when she challenged me."
'Champion' stopped speaking, and recalled his Altaria before striding away from the room. Cynthia recalled her Garchomp and Milotic before starting to talk once again.
"I think 'Champion' has just shown you something very valuable, not to say impressive. He will be around for the rest of the day, although he may not choose to make another appearance. His suggestion was that each of you go and train in the way that you wish for today. The specialists will not be instructing today, and I intend to take my Pokémon for an intense training session particularly with respect to what I've just been shown. I suggest that you do the same."
"So you see May, two of your friends have chosen to go against me and help out the Pokémon League that removed me from my job."
"Look Dad, I don't care what you think at the moment. Firstly, Misty and Dawn went to go help Cynthia, the person that maintained your post as Petalburg Gym Leader. Secondly, in his inauguration speech 'Champion' did state that he would be expecting Gyms to train young trainers. There is no reason why you couldn't, yet you didn't. Thirdly, I would have thought that you would have seen that he was serious when he had Pryce thrown out of his Gym."
May was getting exasperated. This was the third time in a week that her father had called her to try to get her to agree with him that he was wrongfully dismissed from his post. Equally, he had called Max twice in the same period to try to get him to agree. This time had been to tell her that her friends Misty and Dawn had gone to spend two weeks working for Cynthia at the Pokémon League.
It would have surprised May if they hadn't both spoken to her after their arrival, to make sure that he was alright with it given that the Pokémon League had replaced her father. May was a little upset that he had been replaced, but she felt that perhaps he did somewhat deserve it. Over the last few years Norman had gotten more and more complacent in his role as Gym Leader, and May had heard mutterings around Petalburg City that he was neglecting some of his responsibilities.
When she had first heard it, the Princess of Hoenn had been furious, but when she had looked around the city she realised that the stories might be right. There were some very poor regions in Petalburg, and Norman hadn't done much to help out. When May had spoken to her father about it, it had led to the worst argument that she had ever had with her parents, and eventually she had stormed out of the house.
It had been two weeks before she spoke to her mother again, and nearly a month before she agreed to talk to her father. Before 'Champions' inspection of the Gym, she had known that a large section of the city was a breeding ground for dissent as there was high unemployment coupled with poor infrastructure. It wasn't like the city authorities, i.e. Norman didn't have the money available, he had merely focused on his gym at the expense of the city.
And from what May had heard, when 'Champion' came calling, he had destroyed Norman's two most powerful Pokémon with a single attack, exposing the folly on which his arrogance was built. So whilst May was upset that Norman had been removed from his position as Gym Leader, she was also very grateful that the reason given was that he had not been teaching other trainers, and that there had been no mention in the papers that he might have been responsible for the decline of parts of Petalburg City.
There had been rumors that Erika had been removed from Celadon after she had simply failed to manage the cities affairs sufficiently well, and May had feared that something similar would happen to Norman.
There had been a considerable backlash against Erika, despite the lack of a confirmed rumor, and May was grateful that her family had avoided something similar. The fact that there wasn't she thought was enough, she didn't need her father constantly trying to persuade her to take an anti-league stance.
"But May, surely you can see that I have been mistreated? I should never have been replaced, it's..." Norman persisted, before being interrupted by his daughter.
"DAD!" May shouted, finally losing her temper. "I told you the first time, and I'll tell you for the tenth time, I will not support you in this. Drew and I are staying out of things at the moment, and frankly, when I warned you that you needed to devote more time to your other responsibilities you blew up in my face. Face the facts. You alone are responsible for this."
Norman suddenly looked upset.
"Is that really what you think May?" he asked.
"Yes Dad. I'm really sorry that you were replaced, but I think that to an extent you brought it upon yourself."
"Very well May. I'm sorry you think that, but it's clear that you've made your choice" Norman said, before hanging up.
May threw her hands up in exasperation. Her father could be so irritating when he felt aggrieved. As she settled back in her chair, she felt hands start to massage her shoulders. Sighing in relief, she relaxed as Drew continued to massage out the stress that invariably came with a call from her father.
"Are you alright?" her concerned boyfriend asked.
"Yeah. I think he's got the point now." May replied with a small smile. "At the moment I see no reason to join his crusade against the Pokémon Master."
"Good" Drew enthused. "Because your little brother is insisting that you go out and battle him He seems to be under the impression that you promised him the chance and if you are considering rejoining contests you could use the practice."
May grinned, before standing up, and giving Drew a quick kiss before they headed out to the field just outside their house in Littleroot Town. She had taken the decision to train for contests once again after her and Drew had gotten fed up of Dawn's bragging. Drew had commented with their Pokémon being as healthy as they could make them as they had had little else to do since they had dropped out of the circuit, she would stand a good chance.
A bit of training would get them contest ready once again, and May could then compete with Dawn and see if she really was as good as she said she was, or was just lacking some competition. They suspected that Dawn really was that good, but May and Drew had a few tricks that they had developed, so felt quietly confident that May might be able to cause an upset.
"Totodile, dodge left and then Water Gun." Mellanie called.
"Quilava, Flamethrower." Sam countered, a smile on his face.
The stream of water from Totodile was engulfed by the larger fire attack, causing the room to fill with steam. Totodile remained alert, and dived to the side to dodge the Flame Wheel that Quilava had attacked with. As the Big Jaw Pokémon dodged, he turned and fired another Water Gun after his opponent. As the steam cleared, it was evident that Totodile had missed with his attack, as Quilava looked totally unhurt.
The two youngsters had spent nearly two hours working with their starters on how to dodge. Mellanie had found it far easier, with her Totodile being an excellent dodger already. Sam had a much harder time of it, with Quilava not being anywhere near as skilled at dodging. Totodile seemed to take a kind of pleasure from dodging the attacks of his counterpart, whilst Quilava seemed far more inclined to simply attack. However, with the effort that the trainers were putting in, Quilava was improving, but the style jarred against Sam's own way of battling.
They were now testing their results against each other in one of the training rooms where they were alone since most of the other trainers were in one of the main rooms. During the battle however, Sam had used the fact that Quilava had greater power than Totodile to block Mellanies attacks and frustrate her, with a great deal of success.
"Totodile, close the distance"
"Quilava, end it"
As Totodile ran at Quilava, the Volcano Pokémon reared up on its heels and fired a huge torrent of fire at Totodile. The Big Jaw Pokémon suddenly dived to the side, but Quilava was able to redirect his flame and land a heavy hit on Totodile, sending him reeling backwards. The Water type struggled back to his feet, only for a voice to ring out.
"Stay there Totodile"
'Champion' was striding across the room towards the two youngsters, a magenta cat padding along beside him. As he reached Totodile he put a hand on the Pokémon's head. Under the eyes of the two trainers, Totodile's injuries faded away and he quickly got up with a grin. 'Champion' turned around to face the two stunned trainers.