The Gift of a Master Ball

Some wounds never really heal.  Some scars rip themselves open at the most inopportune moments.  This is gonna take some explanation, though, so bear with me, please.

I’m currently working on developing an idea for continuing this whole “Pokémon Diaries” concept that I have going.  I like the writing style and I’d like to keep the whole daily writing thing going for as long as humanly possible because the longer I keep it going the easier it’ll be to keep going and maybe I can actually get something finished!

Yeah, yeah, dreaming real damn big there, but I gotta do something.

Anyway, I have this Original Character idea for the Pokéworld.  Her name is Erica Anne Redwood and she’s the daughter of Professor Kieth Redwood, the foremost expert on Fossil Pokémon.  I’ve got a rough outline of an idea but it’s being darn slow in development.

Basically, Professor Redwood sends his assistant, Heath, with three Pokédexes and three Pokéballs to find his estranged daughter and set her on a journey to fill the ‘dex by meeting as many Pokémon as possible.  I’m looking for ideas on where to have her start out at and what her Starter should be because I’ll have her start with the League Challenge in that region and then move on from there to the other ones.

So I was playing in Pokémon Black last night and my Trainer, Harmony, was given the Master Ball by Professor Juniper.  (She later USED said Master Ball to catch Tornadus because that’s a legitimate use of a Master Ball to my mind.  If he’d stay still then I wouldn’t resort to that because I prefer not to use Master Balls if at all possible.)  Harmony was the one who nearly got her backside handed to her by Clay and Bianca because I was suffering from the effects of Confusion.

Anyway, seeing Harmony receive the Master Ball, a fairly important event where Trainers and Pokémon are concerned, set off something in the back of my head and the next thing I knew I was writing and trying to keep tears from messing up the paper too badly…

Oh, and did I mention that Professor Redwood’s based very strongly on my own father?  Yeah.  ‘Cause that’s a thing.  It’s actually the original concept for Erica’s journey, to be honest, born from my own struggle to deal with the legacy of a father who was so absent and yet so foundational to my life… only to have him suddenly disappear.

So yeah, Erica is very much my attempt to deal with things that are ripping my insides apart at odd times.

The Gift of a Master Ball

Erica couldn’t believe her ears.  “He… what… I-I don’t…”

Heath’s expression was filled with painful sympathy.  “Professor Redwood, your father, died suddenly this morning.  I’m… I’m so sorry.”  He took her nerveless, unresponsive hands and put a box in them, a box that was tied with an absurdly inappropriate bow.  “He left this for you.”  Heath’s voice choked slightly.  “I think he intended it to be in celebration of your Eighth Gym Badge.”

She knew, some portion of her mind just knew what was in that box, but she didn’t want it to be.  She tried to deny it even as she tugged the bow loose and opened the lid to see the colorful sphere with the “M” painted on it sitting on a plush velvet cushion.  She shook her head, still wishing that this wasn’t happening.

Heath sighed and nodded as he saw the final legacy.  “The Master Ball… I knew that he’d been looking for one, can’t say that it surprises me that he would give it to you.  You’ve become a very strong Trainer.”

Erica looked at him in disbelief, emotions roiling in her mind.  “Strong?  What in the hell is that supposed to mean?  Strong trainer… powerful trainer… gifted trainer…” her voice changed as she obviously imitated the comments she’d heard on her journey.  “How in the world do I get the credit when my Pokémon are the ones who are doing all the damn work?”

Her hands clenched as the hysterical need to destroy the most coveted Pokéball in the world flooded her mind.  “I’m not even telling them anymore which moves to use.  They know what they can do and they don’t need me micro-managing something that comes naturally to them.”  She’d never been this irrationally angry before.  “They don’t even need me at all!  What in the Hell am I doing here anyway?”

Tears started streaming down her face and she couldn’t hold them back.  “This whole damn journey was his idea in the first place.  Why did he have to send me on this damned wild goose chase if he was going to just… just leave like this?”

Heath shook his head.  “This… being given a Pokédex and tasked with filling it… it’s an honor.”

“But did he ever consider that I might not want it?  That it might be just nothing more than… than a bloody, annoying burden?”

“You don’t understand…”

“Damned right, I don’t understand!  He didn’t know me.  He never even tried to know me.  If he was feeling so Arceus-damned paternal, why’d he never try talking to me himself?”

Heath took her by her shoulders, pulling her close in a hug.  He grieved, too, for the Professor who, in a very real way, was more a father to him than to his own daughter.  “Because, Erica, the point of a Pokédex journey isn’t the Professor; it isn’t the League Challenge, or even the Pokédex itself.  The point of it all, my sister-in-tasks, is you, the Pokédex-bearer.  He knew… he knew that he was dying and he knew that he’d never have the years he’d squandered along the way.  Not even Celebi herself could give them back to him.  He was never going to have the chance to know you.”  He cradled her in his arms for a time.  “In giving you a Pokédex, he gave you the chance to get to know yourself in his place.”

She utterly collapsed, then, crying out the loss and pain and resentment of a lifetime that had been stolen by pride.

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Not a Good Day to be a Hydreigon

The Hydreigon’s Terrible, Horrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Day

It’s strange, sometimes, just which moments in a game choose to imprint themselves in my memory and imagination.  So far I’ve shared two near-misses, moments where I should have been sent packing back to the Center with an exhausted, defeated team… and somehow pulled victory from the Hydreigon’s jaws, so to speak.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t suffered a Total Party Kill… it’s happened more than I really like to admit.  But the near-misses make for better storytelling, to be honest, and I adore a good story entertainingly told.

To be bluntly honest, though, I usually don’t enjoy being challenged in battles.  If I’m worried about the outcome then it’s too stressful by half.  I much prefer the Steamroller approach to battling in-game.  After all, I’m facing AI units in a videogame.  My brand of fun is to open a can of whoop-ass and proceed to Infernape-stomp a mudhole in someone.

I get downright giggly at one-hit KOs and total domination of my opponent.  Sweeping a whole Gym using only one of my Pokémon and not even having to pull out a Leppa Berry to restore PP makes me very happy.

It’s even more fun for me if I’m kicking Pokémon into orbit with a cute Pokémon that isn’t normally known for badassery.  But damn, that has to completely suck from my opponent’s viewpoint, you know.

Take, for example, Ghetsis from Unova.  I hated him from the first time I saw that sonofaHoundour speaking.  He oozed slime and I took an instant, very personal dislike to him.  This, of course, means that I take an intense pleasure in thoroughly humiliating him every chance I get.

So I was playing White 2… or it may have been an early reset of Black 2, I’m not certain.  In any event, it was one of the Unova sequels.  I’d special bred some hatchlings for the Trainer to use and traded them in.  One of them was a Pikachu female that I called “Caila”.

By the way, Pikachu’s complete unavailability in Gen 5 outside Events or transfer is the most annoying thing imaginable.  I’m not usually much for overused mascots… but Pikachu is legitimately badass in potential.  The case in point being Caila.

See, her OT went to the effort of evolving her from a Pichu so that she could learn one Technical Move in particular, Brick Break.  Fighting type, very respectable power… and damn if Caila couldn’t rock it like a boss.

So here I was with a raging grudge against Ghetsis and his team in particular.  I like to speculate that his Cofagrigus was evolved from a Yamask born from the death of the player’s father in either game… yeah, there is almost no crime that is not believable if attributed to Ghetsis.

The Pokémon that I focus my ire on most, though, is his Hydreigon.  The damn thing’s Pit Bull-vicious to begin with and that’s before Ghetsis got his hands on the thing.

I actually believe that the Hydreigon line is the Pit Bull of the Pokémon world; it’s all in how they’re raised.  Kind and friendly if raised lovingly, cruel and vicious if raised in the hands of human scum like… oh, Ghetsis for instance.

It doesn’t help that his Hydreigon’s underleveled on top of everything else.  It implies that he found a way to artificially force evolution before the Zweilous was ready for it.  This, of course, implies that he’s had “dealings” with Team Rocket Redux from Johto, possibly through one of their pet scientists who didn’t want to give up the research after the Goldenrod Radio Tower Debacle.

Seriously… when will these bastards learn?  If a Pokémon Professor sets a group of Trainers loose on the Region with Pokédexes and the directive to meet as many different kinds as possible… that is not the time to be starting crap.

But no, getting his rump kicked two years before by a youngling Trainer with a Pokédex didn’t teach Ghetsis a damn thing.  So here he was in the Great Chasm facing down another Pokédex-bearing Trainer and in her team is Caila, the Raichu with a grudge.

This was not the day to be a cruelty-maddened Hydreigon with a weakness to Fighting moves.

Hydreigon is a Dragon/Dark Type.  I could have attacked with Ice (my favorite is a Stoutland with Ice Fang, or a Lucario with Ice Punch), or a Dragon move (Archeops wielding Dragon Claw is my usual choice), or even Bug (training Sewaddles by hunting Purrloin is a favorite tactic in Black and White)… but no, I send out Caila and watch with a madwoman’s grin as the Raichu teaches his Hydreigon the true meaning of pain, reducing him to a quivering mass of goo incoherently begging for mercy.

I really gotta wonder if that Hydreigon still wakes up screaming from nightmare flashbacks to that unholy smackdown.

All in all, it was a very satisfying battle, and Ghetsis’ subsequent mental breakdown was just icing on the cake for me.  I don’t always carry a grudge, but when I do it’s epic.

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Not a Ghost of a Chance

Okay, most of the details have been lost to the fog that is my horrifically bad memory, but this story takes place Once Upon a Time in Johto…

I believe the trainer’s name was Clair, who set out from Professor Elm’s lab with a Chikorita she called Athelas.  The reason that I think it was Clair is because Katelyn of Unova currently has Athelas in her PC.

By the way, I take full responsibility for the brainfart that is her name.  No, I was not thinking about the fact that she was going to face a self-important Dragon Tamer by that exact same name.  Some days I am an idiot.

So Clair, my Trainer, was in Ecruteak preparing to face Morty and his Gym full of Poltergeist-wielding Mediums.

As an aside, that is a fuq-ed up situation if I ever saw one.  Twenty something male leading a gym exclusively populated by women old enough to be his grandmother, if not older still… and all of them with Ghosts of the Gastly line?  Yeeeaaaahhhh… like that doesn’t get your red flags popping up everywhere…

Anyway, Clair had a very well prepared team for facing Gastlys and Haunters and Gengar.  She had a Togetic with Extrasensory, Athelas with Magical Leaf… five very well prepared Pokemon.

In this case, the Sixth Man was the result of a favor that Clair was doing for Bill, who designed the PC Box system in Johto.  He’d gotten an Eevee that he wasn’t able to adequately raise and Clair had taken a shine to the level 5 sweetheart that she called “Baby”.

The first person to make a snide comment about women and beady-eyed fuzzies will get something very hard and uncomfortable shoved someplace even more uncomfortable at an incredibly high velocity.

Clair wasn’t actively training Baby; she was focusing on building their relationship before she did any actual training.  In the meantime Baby had gone sniffing through Clair’s bag of toys and had found a bell that he’d taken a shine to.  So she had him following along at the back of the group watching battles and playing with his bell.

Clair made her way through the Mediums, rolling her eyes at the way they always killed the lights when they were defeated.  It was annoying, but not impossibly so.

Morty, though… Morty apparently had an exaggerated sense of his own historical importance. Clair, at that point, really didn’t care about being any sort of important figure.  Catching Legendary Pokemon was not something that she was obsessed about, no matter that Suicune did pause and look at her measuringly.  So to say that she really wasn’t impressed by him was putting the matter mildly.

As I recall, Morty had a couple Haunters and a Gengar.  The battle proceeded more or less according to plan… until Morty’s final Pokemon, a Haunter.

Yeah, it wasn’t even the damn Gengar, it was one of the Haunters.

That was when things started to unravel badly.  I don’t remember any more just how I ended up losing every one of Clair’s fighters… but damn if it didn’t happen.  They managed to get the Haunter to below half in the process, but ultimately Clair was left with only Baby… and no Revives in her bag.

This was where Clair’s own pride reared its head.  Yeah, she was left with only a level 5 Eevee with NO non-Normal moves.  But she was gonna be damned if she wasn’t going to see the battle to the bitter end.  For his part, Baby was going to do his best, no matter what his Trainer asked him to do.

So here’s this incredibly low level Eevee versus a Haunter with less than half his health left.  Normal can’t hit Ghosts… Ghosts can’t hit Normal… and that is when the Haunter uses the only move that he’s got which can even remotely threaten Baby and end the standoff.


Clair sees the Haunter start the move and her heart just freakin’ sinks.  She’s gonna see this, through, though, to the damned bitter end.  There’s a detail, though, that Clair wasn’t considering.  Curse cuts the using Pokemon’s health before it sets the damage over time, and it doesn’t cut a percentage of current health, it cuts half of maximum health.

The Haunter literally passed itself out laughing at Baby.  But damn, if Baby wasn’t left standing at the end, and ohhhh the exp reward.  The only thing that woulda been better would be if Baby had then evolved into Umbreon or Espeon as a result, but the relationship wasn’t quite that strong enough yet.

I still wish it could’ve happened, though… ’cause it woulda been badass as hell.  Baby didn’t have a Ghost of a chance of winning… and he still managed it.  How cool is that?

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Saved by the Sixth Man

I recently reset my copy of Pokemon Black so that I could play through the story again and I’m having a pretty good time with it… though sometimes things don’t end up the way I expected them to.  I always seem to have a story going on in the back of my head, though, so that leads to some interesting interpretations of events.

In my teams, the sixth man is always a Pickup artist.  Sometimes the fifth is too, but always the sixth.  Their whole purpose is to carry HM moves for transportation and such and find random items along the way.  They usually don’t battle unless it’s to gather more items through the use of Covet.  Because of this, lately they’re usually Linoone traded in at far too high a level for the Trainer to efficiently use.  After all, higher level = better finds.

So I go in to Clay’s Gym in Driftveil and I’m feeling like crap.  My meds have me sick as the proverbial Growlithe with my head spinning so bad that I feel like my Dreamcatcher Munna’s been pranking me with Confusion.  I make it through the warm up Trainers just fine and then I face Clay.

I have a well-trained Leavanny, an even better trained Dewott, and my Herdier has Rock Smash… this should be a freakin’ cakewalk.

… but damn, how’d those cakes start walking themselves all over me?

The only thing worse than a Pokemon being confused is the Trainer.  I don’t actually know when I lost positive control of the situation, but his Excadrill did a hell of a job on me.  Next thing I know I was down by three Pokemon (the Dewott, the Herdier, and my Archen) and Ceddie, my Leavanny, was holding on by the very nails on his pincers.

But I won.  Damnit, all that and my Pokemon still pulled through for me.  I love these games.

So I stumble back outside and… make a wrong turn on the way to the Center.  Yes, I’m leading a ravaged team in dire need of healing and I get ambushed by Bianca.

I don’t begrudge the girl a fair fight… she could seriously use the self confidence, but this is ridiculous.  I’m left with a nearly collapsed Leavanny (who finishes the process fairly quickly into the battle.  Arceus bless you, Ceddie, you’re a loyal friend), my Excadrill, and the Sixth Man, Hoodlum, the Linoone.

Hoodlum saved my butt today.  Thank Arceus I had that shiny new Badge, though.  I wonder where I can find some Poke Treats… my team deserves them.

… now to get Archea her wings…

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