[Vol. I] 25. …Breaker
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If the environment was normal, Joe felt like he’d be sweating having to face such a tough opponent. He had a chance against Metagross, but it was slim. Not only was his knowledge of Metagross lacking, but he’d already revealed 2 of the Pokemon he’d be using for the battle, along with all their moves.

Wait, no, there was an unknown with Quilava. Back on Nugget Bridge when it was a Cyndaquil, it unleashed a blast from its back. Rotom wasn’t able to identify the move, and it hadn’t been used since. With it being an unknown, Joe needed it to trigger against Metagross. It could catch his opponent off guard.

“Gastly, come and rest for a bit.” Joe called out, and the Pokemon came flying to him. Taking a ball from his belt, he had to carefully consider who to send out next. “Sandshrew, it’ll be tough but let's see what you can do!”

The Mouse Pokemon took to the battlefield and immediately started shivering. Poor thing wasn’t a fan of the cold. But it was sent out, so it dealt with it and prepared to fight. 

Being part psychic-type, Metagross started by using Psychic. It ripped chunks of stone from the mountain and started launching them at Sandshrew. Joe’s Pokemon used Rollout to quickly dodge all the rocks coming its way while closing the gap between it and Metagross. 

Since Rollout wouldn’t be that effective, once Sandshrew was close enough, it uncurled and created balls of mud at the tip of each hand, launching them at Metagross’ eyes. One hit its left eye, while the other hit its body.

With the large Pokemon temporarily stunned from being blinded, Sandshrew slid under it and used Hidden Power. A dozen purple orbs formed a ring around Sandshrew before being blasted outwards, hitting Metagross’ thick legs. The hulking steel-type came crashing down while Sandshrew ran from under it.

While Preparing Mud Shot again, Metagross used Metal Claw, covering all 4 of its claws in a white aura, and spun rapidly. Mud Shot was useless, the balls of mud were cut up by tough claws without dealing damage to Metagross. Sandshrew began summoning purple orbs again and Metagross opened its mouth as it created a Shadow Ball in front of its body. Both attacks were launched, colliding to create an explosion. 

Through all the snow that was blown about by the explosion, another Shadow Ball came flying. Sandshrew was unable to react, being hit in the face by the attack. It rolled back, and recovered just as a Metal Claw struck its body. Metagross was fast, covering most of the battlefield in mere moments.

Just like that, Sandshrew was knocked out. Two hits and it was down. Joe had his Pokemon return to its Pokeball while praising it, but secretly thought he was going to lose if one of his best was taken out like that. Metagross acted as if it was unscathed despite being hit by multiple super effective attacks, casually walking to its side of the battlefield while using Psychic to remove Sandshrew’s mud from its eye.

“1 down, 2 to go.” Sabrina gloated.

“I understand there are some bad memories linked to your powers, but I don’t think that should determine how you use what you’ve been given. Find some sort of middle ground where you act depending on what the vision tells you. Don’t let it control your life.”

Her demeanor switched from smug to annoyed immediately. “At this point I’m only battling you because it’s my job as a Gym Leader. I want you gone as soon as possible.” 

This was around the time the environment should change, but nothing happened. They were still atop a snowy mountain. It would appear Sabrina was forsaking her Gym rules even further. 

“Gastly, deal as much damage as you can.”

Floating back onto the battlefield, Gastly looked more determined than ever to win. It started off with Confuse Ray like before, while Metagross used Psychic on the snow to mimic a smokescreen, blocking both of their views and cancelling out Gastly’s Confuse Ray.

The ghost-type flew up high to avoid an attack, which ended up being the right move. Metagross came flying through the snow with it’s entire body covered in a blue and silver light, a move called Meteor Mash.

Now that it’s opponent had attacked first, even if the attack didn’t connect, Payback was boosted. Gastly dropped down, straight into the top of Metagross’ large head, before retreating as a Metal Claw came swinging it’s way.

Gastly immediately used Confuse Ray and Metagross was unable to protect itself this time, becoming confused. Wasting no time, the ghost-type rushed in with Thief. Its claw swept through the enemy’s body, and surprisingly enough it actually stole something.

A thick red vest lost its corporeal nature and was forced out the back of Metagross by Gastly’s claw, who looked it over once and tossed it aside.

Curious about what his Pokemon just stole from the opponent, Joe turned to his RotoPhone. Apparently it was an item called an Assault Vest, which boosted the holder’s special defense at the cost of being too bulky to use status moves. That explained why Sandshrew’s attacks didn’t seem to do much.

And while he was distracted, Metagross spun around and used Shadow Ball on Gastly, taking it out of the fight.

“Hurry up and send Quilava out so we can finish this and you can get out of my Gym.” Sabrina said, a hand resting on her hip.

“I have no idea how your visions work, so I can’t help you. But you can help yourself. The future you see can be altered, it doesn’t need to dictate your life. Fight for an outcome you want.”

“You think I haven’t tried before?!”

“So things didn’t go your way a few times and you give up? That all happened in the past. You’re stronger now, I think being a Gym Leader is proof of that. Try again. Create a life you’re happy to live.”

“Shut up!”

Doing what he was told, Joe stopped talking to Sabrina and turned his attention to his 3rd and final Pokemon for this battle. To his left, however, Absol had grown agitated. It stepped forward in an attempt to enter the battle. If any of Joe’s current Pokemon could beat Metagross, it would be Absol. Sabrina broke rules, so Joe can too.

Joe stopped the Disaster Pokemon though, putting a hand on its head and ruffling its fur. “I appreciate the thought, but I got myself into this mess. Let me fix it.”

Absol seemed to disagree, still wanting to enter combat, but let it go so Joe could deal with this problem how he wanted.

The Trainer knelt down to his fire-type starter and smiled at it. “It’ll be a tough one, but I know you can do this.”

Quilava nodded and called out as fire burst out of the red pads dotted across its body, warming itself and Joe up on this cold mountain. 

“Thanks buddy.” He said, standing up straight. “You’re up, Quilava!”

Happy to be relied on, the fire-type rushed onto the battlefield and started the fight. Using Flame Wheel, it wrapped itself in fire and rushed at Metagross. Large rocks raised from the ground as Metagross used Psychic, launching them at the fire-type racing towards it. Quilava managed to change direction to avoid all the rocks, and the enemy attack even managed to help. Those rocks hitting snow caused the white powder to scatter everywhere, masking Quilava’s movements.

Thanks to that, the fire-type was able to smash into one of Metagross’ thick legs, knocking it off balance briefly. Not wanting to let an opportunity slip by, Quilava kept using Flame Wheel and hit the rough, metallic side of Metagross’ body.

Metagross’ body started glowing bright blue and silver as it backed away, took aim and fired itself at Quilava using Meteor Mash. The fire-type couldn’t dodge it, but fire resisted steel, so it shouldn’t be that bad.

The attack was so strong, though, that Quilava flew into a wall before descending and hitting the snow-covered mountain. Once it regained its footing, Quilava glared at its opponent as even more fire started spewing from its back. Rotom commented on Blaze activating, meaning Quilava was severely injured. Just that one attack from Metagross put Quilava on the brink of being knocked out.

In a last ditch attempt to win, Quilava launched forward with fire spewing everywhere, melting the snow to reveal the rocky terrain beneath. But it wasn’t the start of a buffed Flame Wheel. No, this was something more. Something stronger. It needed to win this, its Trainer was relying on it.

Metagross used Meteor Mash again, and the two Pokemon were rushing towards a head on collision. When they were a mere meter apart, Quilava unleashed everything it had. All the fire it could muster, it expelled it all, creating what amounted to an orb of fire that it was the heart of. Metagross hit the fire-type and, despite using Meteor Mash, was stopped dead in its tracks.

Orange and red collided with blue and silver as both Pokemon output enough power to create a standstill. But Quilava wasn’t done. It kept pushing itself further, forcing more and more fire out of its body and expanding the reaches of its flames. Whatever the attack was, it pierced Meteor Mash and hit Metagross, blowing up most of the battlefield and sending the steel-type flying across the mountain.

Quilava stood in the center of the battlefield. It was clearly worn out, but it was still standing. With snow flying everywhere, Metagross got up and took sluggish steps towards Quilava. Both Pokemon were panting heavily, preparing to attack each other.

But Metagross, after taking one more heavy step, couldn’t remain standing and slumped over. It was unable to continue.

Sabrina looked at her Pokemon, stunned that it’d lost. This isn’t the outcome her vision promised. 

“Will life be easy if you walk the path of altering the future? Absolutely not. But does that matter? Working hard to achieve good results is part of life. And at the end of it all you can look back and say, ‘I’m happy I chose differently.’ Find the middle ground. Create a different future for yourself. One that you like.”

All the snow kicked up into the air by the explosion started descending upon the illusionary mountain as she looked at Joe. “...I’m not strong enough.”

“Even though you're a Gym Leader with a Metagross? There’s no need to sell yourself short like that. You’re perfectly capable of fighting for what you want, so do it. Fight for a future that will make you happy.”

A gust of wind picked up, blowing all the falling snow higher into the air as Sabrina just looked at Joe, not knowing how to respond. For just a split second the illusion wasn’t of a cold, desolate mountain, but of a field of bright, colourful flowers. Falling snowflakes became petals, carried along by the wind.

And just as quickly as the illusion changed, it disappeared. Joe looked around, confused by the sudden change of the environment, but all he could see was the blank white room he started in and Sabrina standing at the other end of the room.

She used her arm to rub her eyes, but when she pulled away there were still tears in her eyes. More important than her trying to refrain from crying, though, was the fact that there was a warm, kind smile on her face.

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