[Catch up on the story so far here!]
What should Scallion do?
– Just make it a straightforward fight – Scallion should be favoured.
– Brock’s tough; you should try to come up with something more creative.
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: Well, it would really be a shame to waste all the interesting suggestions for option B that I got in the comments and my Q&A inbox…]
The next stage of the fight goes just as you predicted. Geodude is already tiring, and after a few rounds of dodging, circling and jabbing, you spot it lowering its guard and call out. With an almighty THWACK, Scallion springs a coiled Vine Whip forward and nails Geodude right between the eyes. Geodude lurches back, lists in its formerly smooth hover, spins around drunkenly and crashes to the arena floor.
“Super effective, babyyy!” hollers Abner from the stands, tossing his Metapod up into the air and catching it in celebration. The bug catchers all cheer, and out of the corner of your eye you even notice Lilac(?) slowly clapping, an enigmatic smirk dancing across his face.
Brock joins the applause as he strides out onto the field to help his Pokémon pick itself up. “Now that’s a Bulbasaur,” he exclaims approvingly, before crouching to take his Geodude’s hand. “Good job as always, Geodude.” He gives his Pokémon a quick once-over before recalling it to its Pokéball and returning to his end of the arena. Scallion joins you back at your end of the field as well. “Well, I guess that means it’s time to get serious.” Brock suddenly has another Pokéball in his hand, and throws it high, higher, up towards the ceiling. “Onix, go!”
When the Pokéball’s blazing light fades, you’re staring at the biggest Pokémon you’ve ever seen: a body of huge grey boulders, strung together in curving serpentine shape, its front section rearing up at least four metres off the ground. Its head is bigger than your torso, with jaws like the edges of a craggy canyon and a single blunt horn jutting up from its sloping brow. There’s no way you can fight something like that with sheer strength – and that’s the point, you realise. Gym leaders are supposed to test trainers, force them to think strategically, to be adaptive. So, what can you actually do here? Scallion can drop Leech Seeds to slow and drain a powerful opponent, and after a little practice in Viridian Forest you’re confident he can pull off Poisonpowder, which is another good way to wreck a physically stronger enemy. You also think back to your battle with Ellis and his Beedrill in the forest, to the vine-swinging trick you pulled to let Scallion defeat a flying opponent. Onix is a huge, unwieldy Pokémon, and you’ve already managed to throw Brock off guard by showing him a “Bulbasaur” moving in ways a Bulbasaur shouldn’t. But this isn’t like the forest. You think the ceiling is too high for Scallion’s vines to reach all the way up to the rafters, and glancing around the arena, you don’t think there’s really anything else he can grab onto and swing from. The only substantial vertical feature of the entire battlefield is-
…kid, what do you think you’re looking at?
…no. Do not. Seriously do not.
I cannot stress enough how much you should not– you’re doing it, aren’t you, you dumbass little piece of $#!t.
You kneel down to get on Scallion’s level and whisper your instructions in his ear. You are, he quickly realises, completely unhinged, but his trust in you is for some reason strong enough to go along with it. Nancy gives him what you assume is a quick pep talk, blue sparks flying from her cheeks as she cheerfully hops back and forth on the balls of her feet. Scallion steps, more than a little timidly, back onto the battlefield, and at a signal from the referee, Brock calls his first command.
“Onix, Screech!” Onix opens its mouth wide, and the sound that comes out is a hideous grinding wail like scratching the peak of a mountain against a colossal blackboard. Scallion screws up his face and tries to plug his ears with his vines, leaving him unprotected when Brock shouts another command. “Tackle!” Onix rears up and dives towards your tiny Bulbasaur, crashing into him like a freight train. Scallion goes flying, spinning head over heels through the air, so hard and fast you can almost feel it. In fact, you could swear you can feel it; your bones feel like you’ve just run headlong into a brick wall. But Scallion’s still there; he’s in the air but you know he’s conscious and frankly kinda pissed off, and this might be the best moment you get – you yell out to him, telling him to do as you planned. Somehow, he rights himself in mid-air and his vines lash out. They streak towards Onix’s head, and it looks for a second like they’re going to miss, but you aren’t going for a direct hit, like you did against Geodude. When you watch a lot of televised Pokémon battles, you know there’s one move that bamboozles the opponent every time:
Aim for the horn.
Scallion’s elastic vines wrap around Onix’s horn three or four times, and he swings down and around, past Onix’s face and back up, pulling himself in to land with an audible thunk on the top of the colossal Pokémon’s head, holding onto the horn for dear life.
For the record, I hate even the possibility that you might get away with this.
You give Scallion a second to get his bearings, then fire off more orders: Poisonpowder first, then Leech Seed. Scallion screws up his eyes in concentration, and a second later the bulb on his back glows and starts pumping out clouds of glittering violet dust. Brock frantically calls out a command to Onix, but you can’t quite hear it over the sound of the huge stone Pokémon thrashing around, trying to dislodge Scallion. Beside you, Nancy hasn’t missed a beat and is chanting at fever pitch. Onix’s tail beats up and down, crashing against the ground, as Scallion fires a seed that plants itself securely on the lower third of Onix’s body and explosively begins to grow. With a furious roar, Onix tosses its head wildly and then slams its face against the arena floor. One of Scallion’s vines comes loose, whips around Onix’s horn and snaps back to his bulb; at the same moment, Brock shouts something and Onix’s whole body begins to glow with a faint bronze-coloured light. You call out, and Scallion begins lashing at Onix’s back with his free vine, still clinging desperately to the bigger Pokémon’s horn and screaming constantly. Another angry tail slam, but you think Onix is getting weaker. You tell Scallion to keep up the pressure.
“Now, Onix! Double the damage!”
The halo around Onix fades away to nothing, and then there is a sound like thunder and a sudden burst of coppery light that fills the entire gym. Scallion is flung high into the air and lands a few seconds later with a thud at your feet. Onix sways, its eyes unfocusing, woozy from the poison and the Leech Seed sapping its energy. You look down at Scallion. You think he’s still conscious; you can’t step onto the field yet without calling a time-out or a forfeit. Slowly, tortuously, he gets to his feet, dusts himself off with his vines, grits his teeth and stares at Onix… who abruptly stiffens for a second, then goes completely limp and crashes to the floor like a sudden rockslide.
The stands erupt in cheers, the five trainers watching somehow filling the whole arena with their shouts. Even Magenta seems pretty psyched. Brock is already on the battlefield, checking up on Onix, picking away Leech Seed tendrils with a pocketknife. You crouch down to see how Scallion is doing. He’s… pretty zonked, but grinning broadly. You think the Potion spray Brock gave you for Jane earlier still has a little juice in it, so you grab it and do a quick triage of Scallion’s bruises and scrapes. He’ll definitely need a visit to the Pokémon Centre to get back to 100% and check for more serious injuries like broken bones, but as far as you can tell, he’s not in any immediate danger. You feel like you’ve been holding up the roof of a collapsing building, but it’s not so bad this time – maybe just because you knew it was coming? Doesn’t anyone warn new trainers about that $#!t? But whatever – you’re here, with your Bulbasaur, and the two of you just won the first really big important victory of your career! You feel like you have a little heavenly light burning inside you, and you can feel the same light inside your partner.
in fact, you can see it
Scallion’s skin is glowing warm and blue-white under your skin – in a few moments, he’ll evolve, just like Aura did a few days ago. There’s just a little hesitation in him, like he figures this is probably something he should want, but he needs some reassurance. He’ll be different, after this – more powerful physically and spiritually, more in tune with nature, but also heavier, slower and less adaptable. That vine-swinging bull$#!t won’t fly, that’s for sure. In short, his growth will be more fixed from here on out. The further he walks his path, the more others will close themselves off – same as they have for you, right from the start.
But you can always press B on it, y’know. Oh, sorry; that’s just old trainer slang. You can suppress the evolution. It takes the united willpower of both trainer and Pokémon, and it isn’t permanent, but it’s totally doable, even with both of you in a weakened state. If you want to, obviously. Power or flexibility – those are both legitimate things for a trainer to value, but either way, you’re giving something up. No pressure or anything.