Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Nugget Bridge Rematch

Now, you might be wondering what happened to Wolf after we parted ways in Viridian, but he couldn’t have been farther from my mind as I made my way down from Mount Moon toward Cerulean City. I didn’t care where he was or what he was doing. I really hoped we wouldn’t cross paths again, but Kanto is a surprisingly small place for a Pokémon trainer, I would come to learn. I would run into him again in Cerulean, but in the short time since I started this journey, I had changed. I had a firm resolve and determination to take care of my Pokémon, rather than win at all cost like Wolf or Team Rocket. I had suffered the heart break of losing Rascal and Nibbles, my first two Pokémon. I was still trying to find my way, but I had also grown stronger.
Before I get to Wolf, let me catch you up a bit. Along the way down from Mount Moon, I happened upon a new Rattata. He was strong and fast. He reminded me of Rascal when we last saw each other as opposed to the weak and fragile thing he was when we first met. I caught this Rattata and named him Rascal Jr. If I learned anything from encountering the Dread Rocket Raticate, it was that there was untapped potential within Rascal Jr that I would have to bring out before I could challenge the Cerulean City Gym. Rascal Jr. could be taught to deliver a cruel bite.
I trained more rigorously than ever before. I made sure Rascal Jr. was not only faster and stronger than that Raticate on Mount Moon, but had the hyper fang bite of doom in its arsenal. I did not rest until Rascal Jr met my high expectations for what he was capable of. Retrospectively, I was perhaps a bit hard on Rascal Jr because of how I was feeling about Nibble, but Rascal Jr was soon the strongest Pokémon on my team as a result. As always, although these training sessions were aimed primarily at Rascal Jr, the rest of the team benefited from them as well. Vesper even learned a powerful bite.
During this time of intense training, I was staying in Cerulean City close to our training grounds on Route 4. You simply couldn’t get around Cerulean City without hearing Bill’s name several times a day. Now Bill is a self-proclaimed Pokémon enthusiast and is credited as the inventor of the Pokémon Storage System that we all access regularly to store and transfer Pokémon even today.
Although Professor Oak first showed the system to me, I had been using it regularly to transfer some Pokémon to my sprouting sanctuary project via Bill’s storage system without ever knowing whose it was or how it got there. I had certainly taken it for granted, and I think we all do every now and then even still. I decided that before I would challenge the Cerulean City Gym, I wanted to hike out to the coast north of Cerulean and meet Bill personally. I was curious, and I was thankful.
When I was happy with the progress Rascal Jr had made, I packed up for the trip and headed out across Nugget Bridge to the north. It was there on that fateful bridge that I was tracked down by Wolf. He called out to me from behind just as I was setting foot on the bridge. Apparently he had heard that I was training in town these past few days and was eager for a rematch. I tried everything in my power to keep my face neutral and not unleash the full extent of my anguish at seeing Wolf. I’ll never know how successful a job I did.

Wolf had a stupid, cocky smirk on his face when he threw out his first Pokémon which was a Pidgeotto. It was plain to see that he considered this his prize bird in the collection and it was fun for me to see the smirk wipe off his face when I tossed out my recently evolved Kiwi, now a formidable Pidgeotto himself. The two bright-breasted birds squared off against each other on the ground, then took to the sky.
Kiwi and I launched our all-too-familiar “sand in the face” technique which had yet to fail us. Wolf’s Pidgeotto had suffered this indignity once before but still fell right into our trap. It’s ability to land any hits on Kiwi tanked and Kiwi was soon the victor of the Pidgeotto contest. Wolf was frowning now as he threw out his next Pokéball.
His next Pokémon surprised me. It was a curious little yellow creature that I hadn’t encountered yet. More surprisingly, it was completely useless in battle. I believe Wolf had just caught it earlier that day and didn’t even bother to train it yet. It was easy pickings for Vesper, who I can rarely say had easy pickings. The Abra (as the Pokédex informed me) seemed particularly weak to Vesper’s ability to leech life out of its opponent. It took out the weak little Abra without any problems. I heard Wolf let out an audible curse and it was my turn to smirk.
Wolf’s third Pokémon was a Rattata. I could tell just by looking at it that it was a tough little fellow. Still, I couldn’t resist tossing out Rascal Jr and sizing up which of us had the better trained Rattata. As Wolf’s Rattata attempted to lower Rascal Jr’s guard with disorienting tail whipping, Rascal Jr chomped down hard. Following up with a very quick attack, Rascal Jr proved to be the winner of this match up and without even taking any hits at all.
I knew Squirtle, or one of its evolutions would be Wolf’s final Pokémon based on our previous match. I admit I was a bit worried about it,  but I kept Rascal Jr out on the bridge to hold his ground. Wolf’s Squirtle managed to land a couple of tackles on my agile Rattata, while Rascal Jr used his own tail to disorient the Squirtle. Then Rascal Jr bit down on Squirtle with such ferocity that it knocked it completely out of the match. Victory was ours and it felt so damn good this time.
I really felt like the superior trainer. Thinking back on Viridian City, I could see now the difference between a trainer who took his training seriously, and someone like Wolf who just took it all as an idle hobby. I felt bad for Wolf’s Pokémon, honestly. They fought so hard for him and he didn’t even care.
When Wolf extended a hand for me to shake, I simply shrugged. Wolf stifled a small laugh and shook his head. I remember him saying, “It was good to see you, Fox. Keep up the hard work.” Then he turned and walked back into town. I watched him go this time, remembering how angry watching him leave made me the last time. This time I felt almost nothing. This time I was stronger both as a trainer and in my resolve to train harder - to train especially harder than Wolf.

Current Team:
Attacks in Blue are recently learned.

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