[WAR X] Ingrained
(Bahaha, it took two posts because of the post limit... my bad. XD)
She stood tall at her end of the field, trying ever so desperately not to quiver from the fear that settles like a cloud in the pit of her stomach. She had come too far, she knew, to lose after so much has been lost already. Especially not to him, of all people. Her brown hair fluttered dramatically in the air, flapping soothingly against her back as it was tussled by an unseen wind. Leaf Fuguri was not one to show fear, but anyone looking closely right now could see that she was afraid, knuckles turned white and stomach roiling.
But unfortunately for her, she was surrounded. Millions of people had come to see the battle of the century, as they have dubbed it, between Red Yamaguchi and herself. Millions. Their cheers echoed in the large, elliptical stadium, and the tips of her delicate ears twinged to pink.
They were down to their last Pokémon, both rival and challenger. She was afraid, in this battle for champion, that she might lose. The thought had not occurred to Leaf until this moment, when she realized how close their battle has become. And that cloud of fear settled in the pit of her stomach, until it brewed into a thunder storm.
It was Red’s job, as the defending champion, to send first. It didn’t really matter what he sent, though. They were both down to their last Pokémon. It was ironic, Leaf realized a few seconds too late. They had started this way, so long ago, with a simple one versus one. She had seen his lineup so far, managed to trek her way through all five of the incredibly well-trained Pokémon that sat on his belt, and she already knew with grim realization what dwelt within the last Pokéball on his hip, just as she knew what lay within her own.
Red’s face was unreadable, as it always is, when he threw the Pokéball to the ground. No flourish, no battle cry. Just a simple toss into the air, and the spiraling red and white sphere did the rest. There was a brilliant white flash and the gargantuan, orange creature emerged, its green-membraned wings flaring open as it lands on the ground with a thud. Its teeth and claws were wickedly sharp, and the open flame on its tail glowed dangerously hot, vaporizing the air around it. Red’s Charizard took the battlefield with a roar, a plume of white-hot fire erupting from its maw.
The crowd went nuts.
The maelstrom of fear in Leaf’s stomach intensified, even though she has known that this was coming since the beginning. It would not be a battle with Red without his Charizard’s taking place, of course.
Just like it would not be a battle with Leaf without her own…
The Pokéball was in her hand and in the air in an instant, almost without her noticing. She didn’t make a flourish or a shout of encouragement, either, as the sphere rose in the air. Her sapphire eyes were locked firmly on Red’s, daring him to look for weakness in her pupils. He could find none, and he looked away to see what she has sent out. They both knew, though, that Red already guessed her final hope.
The Pokéball in Leaf’s hand was worn with use, the red paint at the top beginning to peel and the hinges slightly creaky. Yet anyone with eyes could see the immense care that Leaf gave this Pokéball, down to the faint, rose-scented polish that she rubbed on the cool metal nightly to keep it shining.
But that was nothing compared to the care she lavished on its occupant. A massive, titanic, dinosaur-like creature emerged in a characteristic flash of light. The pale pink flower formed from the light, the spots on its surface glistening. Its four limbs made dull thuds on the ground, and its large, sloping mouth is indifferent. He was not fazed by the flaming dragon in front of him, and snorts as if this fight meant nothing. Almost nothing fazed him, now. He opened with a roar, primordial and ancient, his own personal battle cry. Venusaur. Their rivalry had been long in the making.
Leaf knew that their rivalry will also end tonight, although she did not know why.
As is tradition, Red allowed her to have the first move.
Leaf didn’t waste it. “Frenzy Plant,” she said quietly, her gaze coolly fixed on the massive opponents before them.
Leaf stands quietly in front of the door to Viridian Gym. The door is boarded up and the place has been closed, but it does not stop the memories that plague her mind.
Venusaur had descended on this gym in a righteous fury once he had discovered the identity of the leader. The grass Pokémon was normally so peaceful and gentle, but he had whipped himself into a frenzy when he discovered that the Giovanni before him had been one and the same with the Giovanni of Team Rocket, responsible for the death of so many Pokémon.
It had been there, Leaf realizes, that Venusaur had unlocked his final, most powerful attack. The vines, ancient and archaic, had erupted from the ground, shattering the tiles and thrashing through the air with all of the uncontrollable force of the forest. Giovanni himself, for all of his boasts, had been unable to withstand the power of Frenzy Plant.
Leaf smiles at the memory before it fades, fingering the silver pouch at her belt wistfully. She is thinking of how she wants to turn back the clock.
Venusaur obliged with a proud roar, as if enjoying this show of power. He reared up on his hind legs with surprising agility for such a large creature, and stomped them into the earth.
The roots and the plants rushed to fulfill his command. Out of the earth, with the primal beauty that a forest possesses, great, whipping roots emerged, disrupting the earth as they raced towards the Charizard.
“Fly,” Red said calmly.
Charizard hurried to obey, both in part due to its loyalty and the massive tangle of newly grown forest surging towards it.
Leaf bit her lip in dismay. She hadn’t expected the plan to work, but she was already unnerved that their most powerful technique has been neutralized in an instant.
“Solar Beam,” she said quietly.
Venusaur nodded intently, the thorny roots snaking back into the gouged earth. He leaned forwards slightly, pointing his massive flower towards Charizard, towards the sky, towards the sun and began concentrating. Tiny particles of sunlight snaked into the center of the bulb, and he closed his eyes, concentrating.
“Hit him and use Flamethrower,” Red murmured to his giant fighter in the sky.
It was a lie, Leaf thought wryly, that Red never spoke. He did say things occasionally, although they were more often than not commands that made a trainer’s heart go cold.
A massive beam of solar energy rocketed out from Venusaur’s flower, the leaves on his back shifting with sighs as the energy whooshes out with a roar. He was dismayed, however, to see how little his opponent was fazed by his attack.
The Charizard roared fiercely, flying straight through the blinding beam of light, claws outstretched, and pounced on Venusaur, hard. The great grass giant bellowed in pain, and the crowd went nuts again.
A slightly battered Charizard quickly flipped out of the way, hovering a few feet backwards. His maw opened, showing the snaking pink tongue and pointed teeth, and prepared to unleash a jet of fire.
Leaf could see the liquid sprays of heat forming in his maw. Venusaur hated fire.
Cinnabar Island is here. He did not like it here—the volcano’s fire always made him uneasy. He hated fire. He was a creature of the earth.
Bu she knows he would not mind. He loved he sea, too, and the islands offer the perfect cliff view.
Leaf smiles slightly, holding he drawstring back in her hand.
“Vine Whip,” Leaf shouted, her voice rising in panic. “Cut off the fire supply.”
She hurriedly thanked every deity that she knew that Venusaur understood. He shifted his weight with surprising speed for a creature of his bulk, and two smooth vines emerged from beneath the flower on his back, wrapping around Charizard’s neck and squeezing tightly.
Charizard’s eyes widened in surprise and it gagged for a moment, pausing. It opened its mouth and closed it in confusion, wondering where the fire has gone, and then realized that it was having difficulty breathing.
“Dragon Claw,” Red growled, frustrated. Leaf knew that he knew that if he got a single, solid, fiery hit on Venusaur, the battle would be over. “Cut the vines.”
Charizard, although gasping for breath, raised its claws into the air, their surfaces dancing with a strange fire. It wasn’t true fire, the kind that Venusaur feared, but it was stranger, more draconic. Weakly, Charizard slashed at the vines around its neck, the flames biting at the fresh growth.
Venusaur bellowed in pain, but he did not dare back down. Leaf had not told him to. He glanced back at her with earnest brown eyes, silently telling her that he would do whatever it took. To the death.
Leaf didn’t want that. “Take back the Vine Whip,” she said quietly, knowing that she has played right into Red’s hands.
Fuschia, home of the poison-types, had shown them how Venusaur could fight with more versatility. Koga had helped them on that. Venusaur had loved the strange architecture of the gym, and he had especially enjoyed feeling his way around the glass walls in the gym.
They had both been pleasantly surprised when Koga had complemented Leaf on her raising of Venusaur.
She smiles for a moment, wondering if the flicker in the corner of her eyes is Koga, and hen looks away, watching the dust scatter in the winds.
Red’s eyes glimmered. “Fire Blast,” he muttered to his Charizard.
The great dragon rears back its head again, taking in the blessed oxygen and preparing to release another, more powerful blast of fire.
“Protect!” Leaf’s voice has become increasingly desperate.
The green and yellow shield shimmered for a heart-wrenching moment, and Leaf was afraid that they were too slow as the red and orange conflagration swirled around the spot that Venusaur had occupied.
She was relieved to see, though, the Venusaur was mostly unharmed. He breathed heavily, though.
Leaf smiles at the entrance to Saffron Gym. The teleporters had made him dizzy at first, and he had been tentative to enter them.
And then, once he had understood how they worked, he would charge headlong into them, a strange glint in his eyes that almost made her think that he was just a Bulbasaur, and not a fully grown guardian of the earth.
Sabrina inclines her head as the dark haired girl watches Leaf stand there quietly, head bowed. Perhaps, Leaf realizes, the psychic gym leader understands. Leaf thinks she does, because she watches out of the corner of her eye as Sabrina also bows her head in silence before walking away wordlessly.
Red scowled, apparently not expecting a trick like that. “Slash,” he called out to his Charizard. “Get in close.”
“Double-edge,” Leaf ordered Venusaur.
Charizard swooped down, its wingtips flaring open as it landed only a few feet away from its opponent, claws gleaming white sharp. It drew back an orange, scaly fist, the claws glistening.
Venusaur was slower to respond, but he began running forwards on his stubby legs, clouds of dust swirling around him as he ran.
Leaf paused, reminded of another time, once upon a time, when a Charmander and a Bulbasaur had been locked in battle.
It was the same Charmander and the same Bulbasaur, although their moves and appearances were much more different in this situation than that first one. In that battle, they had simple tackled and scratched at one another until one of them had accepted defeat.
But as Leaf looked back at the battle happening before her, she knew there wasn’t much that was different.
The two Pokémon collided with bone crunching roars. Charizard reached first, raking its massive claws across Venusaur’s leafy flank, hissing in triumph. Its victory quickly faded to alarm as Venusaur continued barreling through it, ignoring the pain that the dragon’s claws brought.
The Charizard stumbled back, its mouth opened in a picturesque growl of surprise, while Venusaur skidded back, panting. He looked to Leaf for guidance.
He had gotten in touch with his roots at Celadon, both literally and figuratively. It had been here that he had evolved into his final form, a Venusaur, and she had made him smile by commenting on how the smell from the massive flower on his back was sweeter than any perfume they could make in the little shop to the left of the gym.
It had been here, under the kind instruction of Ericka, that he had learned to plunge into the earth and absorb the nutrients of the ground to make him stronger.
She scatters a bit of the black stuff in the winds here, too.
Venusaur looked bruised and battered. His leaves drooped, and there were great gouges on the leaves on his back. Leaf bit her lip in worry, hating to see him hurt like this.
“Ingrain,” she called out quietly to him.
She knew the move was a double-edged sword, in that it would limit his mobility but also allow him to obtain strength from strong roots in the earth. In a battle against something like Charizard, though, speed was never a factor for Venusaur. The grass-dinosaur would not have a chance against the fire-lizard.
Venusaur nodded and gratefully plunged his feet into the earth, great woody roots snaking out from beneath his flower and sinking into the ground. His eyes brightened with the fire of the battle as the nutrients pumped themselves through the earth and into his body, soothing his wounds.
“Toxic!” Red retorted.
Leaf wanted to cheer. Finally, here was a mistake. Here was something she could use to her advantage, a way that she could win the battle.
Red must have seen it, too, because his mouth was already open. It was too late, though. Charizard roared its agreement, steamrollering over any corrections that Red might have tried to make, and released a copious amount of thick, purple sludge towards Venusaur. The grass-type staggered back as the poison stung at its leaves with a hiss, but it was unscathed.
Venusaur would not be harmed by the poison—as Koga had shown him, such toxins ran in his veins. Leaf knew this. Now to use it to her advantage.
“Sludge Bomb!” she shouted. “Use the poison from the Toxic to give you a boost.”
The purple toxins sank harmlessly into the earth, hissing and belching out poisonous-looking clouds of violent indigo vapors. Venusaur’s roots shied back, but they, too, did not seem harmed, and sucked the poison in copiously, as if through straws.
Venusaur paused for a moment, tightening his focus, and then opened his mouth, shifting his weight forwards and opening his mouth. Just as fire formed in Charizard’s maw, poison blossomed in Venusaur’s, the thick kind that leaves lasting, acidic wounds.
The purple glob of poisonous sludge that Venusaur spewed from its mouth with a desperate roar was far, far more potent than Charizard’s. Venusaur was a creature of poison; he knew the ways of the toxins well enough to master them.
Charizard growled in dissent and flung a green-membraned wing over its face, trying to protect its face from the acid’s bite. Unnerved, it looked to Red for further instruction.
Red was quick to give it. “Overheat,” he muttered. “Finish it.”
The Charizard nodded, is eyes lighting to life, and it flung its wing back with a roar. For a moment, it tok the barrage of poison head on, and then the fires crackled to life in its maw. The poison evaporated into clouds of spiraling purple smoke, and the jet of fire around him erupted from his throat.
Distracted from the flames, Leaf knew that Venusaur would not be able to react in time. It didn’t stop her, though, from crying out, “Protect, quickly!” with a voice that could have only been born in desperation.
Venusaur tried to react, but he was too slow. The red, swirling conflagration warped around him, the air shimmering in the heat, and then the fire hit.
It was here, in Pokémon Tower, that he had for once shown his primal rage. Their battles against the ghosts had cost her team dearly, and in the end, it was only Leaf and her Ivysaur against the hordes that became a lost mother that became the faces of Team Rocket.
Ivysaur had become enraged when he had realized that these men in black and red had been responsible for the deaths of so many. His body had been cloaked in a strange green aura, and he had, enraged, roared his challenge to them, his eyes murderous.
For the first time, Leaf had been afraid for her friend. Even after the murderers had been defeated, he refused to calm down, his eyes wild. In tears, Leaf had wrapped her arms around him, singing his favorite song in his pointed ears and rocking him back and forth, ignoring the thorny vines that sprouted from beneath his bulb to swat angrily at her.
She had nearly cried with relief when he calmed down, and they sat there together in silence for a while.
Leaf gravely inclines her head, the pouch at her side diminishing. The ghosts will help them now.
Leaf closed her eyes. It was over.
But the roar in her ears was certainly familiar. She looked up, frowning. Venusaur shouldn’t have been able to survive that. The fire had hit him head on.
But the smoke cleared, revealing a badly burned and battered, but very much conscious, Venusaur. His body roiled with a strange, green aura, and his eyes were not the same. There was something snapped in him, something feral.
Leaf was familiar with Overgrow. She would have been a poor trainer of her Venusaur if she did not know it. The power of such an ability, and the sheer change it unlocked in its wielder, never ceased to strike fear in her heart.
She could see the surprise on Red’s face, though, the open shock and the way his normally emotionless face was flooded with sheer amazement. It made her proud.
She wasn’t going to waste her chance. Venusaur was battered and beaten, but by no means broken. “Frenzy Plant!” she shouted out, fear still in her voice. Although Venusaur would never admit it, he was still very weak in this stage.
For a heart-wrenching moment, Venusaur did not move. He stood there, staring blankly, his eyes not his own. Then, he slowly turned and focused on Charizard, the enemy, and something seemed to snap into place in his mind. With painstaking slowness, he leaned forwards, as if in a dream. Leaf bit her lip.
And then, forcing himself to continue, Venusaur reared backwards and then plunged his feet into the earth. The plants rushed to fulfill his command.