[Vol. I] 24. Illusion…
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As per usual, Quilava’s fire burnt bright. It was raring to go. Perhaps this was partially due to the warm environment. It was just an illusion, but it felt quite real.

Wasting no time showing her hand, Sabrina ordered Kadabra to use Charge Beam, an electric-type move. It let go of the spoon in its right hand, having it float in front of its palm instead. The spoon started spinning at an incredible speed, at generating static. Once it reached top speed, a beam of yellow electricity burst forth, aimed directly at Quilava.

The fire-type started spewing even more fire, hopped up and curled itself into a ball, using Flame Wheel to dodge the Charge Beam. It circled around and lunged at Kadabra, who retaliated by stopping its spoon from spinning, grabbing the utensil and taking aim at Quilava. A multicoloured beam shot from the tip of the bowl. While Charge Beam was a continuous attack as long as Kadabra could generate electricity, Psybeam was more of a single shot attack. 

The move connected, but couldn’t stop Quilava. If anything, it annoyed the fire-type. Quilava started unleashing as much fire as it could, speeding up its approach. Kadabra was unable to use Protect quick enough and got hit in the torso by the fast and fiery Pokemon.

Kadabra was knocked back but kept itself upright thanks to its psychic powers, and Quilava uncurled and planted its feet on the uneven sand.

They stared each other down as their Trainers barked orders again. Kadabra used Psychic to control the infinite sand underfoot, spawning large objects from the ground that resembled tree roots. They were all being created behind the psychic-type, and they twisted around each other as they were launched at Quilava. They were so dense and heavy that if just one struck Quilava it’d be sent flying.

Seeing as the only way to stay in this fight was to be fast, Quilava used Quick Attack to dart around the battlefield. It dodged every single attack, with some being too close for comfort, getting in close to Kadabra and releasing smoke everywhere. With its opponent blinded the Psychic-bound sand fell, no longer receiving support from their creator.

Despite not being able to see Quilava, Kadabra used Protect and the fire-type bounced off a transparent shield moments later. Now the psychic-type knew where Quilava was, so it used Psybeam, but missed. 

Not even a second later its chin was struck with such force it was launched into the air. Quilava had wrapped itself in fire, gotten close under the cover of smoke and uppercut Kadabra with its entire body. Without wasting any time, Quilava used Quick Attack to rush itself next to Kadabra, who was still in midair. 

Quilava carried on until it was above Kadabra thanks to momentum. Wrapping its body in fire once again, it used gravity to strike Kadabra right into the ground, kicking up sand and dispersing the smokescreen.

The two Trainers waited with bated breath to see the outcome.The dust settled and Kadabra wasn’t getting up, but Quilava casually strolled back to Joe’s side of the battlefield.

Sabrina recalled her Pokemon and looked at the Pokeball in her hand, furrowing her brow. “...This isn’t right.”

“Hm? What’s up?”

“It doesn’t concern you.” But before the challenger could comment, Sabrina carried on talking of her own volition. “No, perhaps it does. Either I’m misremembering, or my vision is wrong. The battle started exactly how it should’ve, but things started to differ towards the end. Your Quilava was supposed to lose.”

Before the battle had begun, Sabrina mentioned that her visions were never wrong. Why would this one have errors? She’s probably seen the future thousands of times, to have one be wrong after all this time would be beyond strange. But more than that, something else bugged Joe.

“So you rely on your visions to win?”

“What, are you going to criticize my methods?” She spat, sounding quite irritated.

“Not really. I just want to know why you follow your own visions? If you just decided to do something different, surely most of them would be wrong?”

To Joe, it seemed like Sabrina lacked agency. She just did as her powers dictated, and was rewarded for always being ‘right’. But to him that was no way to live. She had such a great power, such a unique gift, and she became a slave to it in Joe’s eyes.

Gritting her teeth, showing emotion for the first time in what felt like forever, Sabrina retaliated. “It’s not like you understand. I’ve had to deal with this crap for as long as I can remember.  It’s ruined everything! Life becomes a whole lot easier if I just do what I’m told!”

“And you’re okay with that?” Joe couldn’t imagine living that way. He does what he wants. Sightseeing, exploring, catching Pokemon, battling to get strong, helping others, it’s all because he wants to, not because he’s told to.

Now glaring at her challenger, Sabrina decided to go along with it. “Fine, have it your way.”

After she said that, the environment shifted from a scorching desert to the vast ocean. Joe and Sabrina each had a rock formation to stand on, but Quilava was dropped straight into water. Thankfully it could swim, so it retreated back to Joe’s side and shook its body to rid itself of water, using its fire to finish off the job.

It was obvious that Joe had angered Sabrina, and from the way she spoke, she’d recalled memories she wished she didn’t. Sabrina said nothing as she let her next Pokemon, Slowbro, take to the field. This was clearly on purpose. Not only had she changed the environment to be against Quilava, she picked a Pokemon that can easily beat a fire-type.

“You’re going to have to sit this one out, buddy.” Joe looked down at Quilava, who seemed disappointed but understanding. “Gastly, let's win this!”

Slowbro in this environment put Joe at a huge disadvantage. The only Pokemon he had on hand that could combat it was Gastly, Squirtle was just too weak right now. Luckily he planned on using Gastly anyway, but it was being drawn out earlier than he predicted because he opened his mouth.

This time Joe got the first command in, ordering Gastly to use Confuse Ray. It’s eyes turned blue and Slowbro, floating in the water, winced. It was a success. Gastly moved in for a psychical attack since that’s all it knew. The goal was to paralyze with Lick.

A comically large tongue left Gastly’s mouth and brushed the side of Slowbro’s face. To return the favour, a ball of water the size of Gastly formed in Slowbro’s open mouth. Water Pulse. However, due to the confusion, Slowbro’s aim was off and the water ball flew past its target, travelling through the air until it hit a wall and dispersed. 

It looked a little odd, seeing a move hit what looked like nothing and then dissipate. Joe hadn’t thought about it until now, but of course the walls are still there. There may be an illusion painted over the white walls, but they still exist. 

Since the ghost Pokemon was close after just licking the opponent, Slowbro was told to use Zen Headbutt. It bowed down and the top of its head began shining pink before it lunged out of the water at Gastly. The hit connected, knocking Gastly back quite a ways.

Gastly shook itself to regain focus and started preparing an attack, but Slowbro wasn’t going to wait around. Its head wrapped in pink, it used Zen Headbutt again. Gastly flew up higher, causing Slowbro to collide with the wall it couldn’t see because of the illusion, injuring no one but itself.

Since its opponent went first, Gastly wrapped itself in a purple aura and rushed down into Slowbro, causing massive damage. Payback was extremely useful.

Still confused, Slowbro regained composure and began rapid firing Water Pulse everywhere, and one of them struck Gastly. The ghost-type clenched its jaw, biting down on that item it’d stolen from Cottonee yesterday. Gastly felt strange, like it’d grown a little stronger. 

But returning focus back to the battle, Gastly created a 3-fingered claw out of the gas it expelled, fashioned it into a fist and rushed at Slowbro who was creating a barrier with Light Screen. Sabrina assumed the 4th and final move Gastly had would be a special attack, meaning Light Screen would help protect Slowbro against it. However, Gastly only had physical attacks. It was a good guess, but unfortunately it was wrong and all she could do was watch as Gastly’s fist cruised straight through the barrier, shattering it like glass, and into Slowbro’s face. Her Slowbro was out for the count.

“That-” Sabrina bit her lip as she recalled her Pokemon. “It shouldn’t have gone like that! What’s with you?! Why are my visions of you wrong?!”

“I don’t really know either, but it’s a good thing, isn’t it? Relying on your power takes away from actual experience. You’re struggling to improvise.” It was easy for him to pick up on it, she was barely able to counter him. “But more importantly, if you continue to rely on your visions, when you look back at life will you be able to say you were happy? At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Whether you’re happy or not.”

From where he stood, Sabrina was just a miserable, young adult. That’s no way to live. Was he getting involved in something he had no right to involve himself in? Of course he was. But that didn’t matter. Joe was just trying to find a way to help the troubled person before him.

“Enough!” She screamed, and through grit teeth she continued. “I will win. My visions are always right.”

She threw out her 3rd and final Pokemon as the environment changed to that of a snowy mountain, causing Joe to shiver. 

A large Pokemon Joe had seen once before took to the battlefield, and he somewhat regretted his words. A Gym Leader’s Pokemon were capped at a certain strength depending on how many badges a challenger had and, well, sending out a Metagross for a challenger’s 3rd Gym was obviously too much.  Joe had stepped on a landmine in regards to Sabrina, and he was going to have to figure out how to diffuse it. Defeating her Metagross would be a good start.