When I was five, my mom died of a strange illness that the doctors couldn’t identify. I think that it was that same disease that caused my dad to become critically ill. I’m not going to lie; my parents weren’t rich. Neither of them had been what you’d call “successful Trainers.” In fact, it was pretty much my mom’s job as a Pokémon Center assistant that was keeping us going. So, when my dad fell ill, the little money we had wasn’t even close to enough to pay the bill to cure him.
When I was seven, my dad had begun to really need that surgery. But, like I said, we had no means of affording it. So, one day, I made a desperate choice. I needed to go on a journey and win the money.
I told my dad I was going to travel to help him. He smiled in a weak way and told me lovingly that he was proud of me. I remember sighing when I left the room to pack my few things. I knew somehow that this was going to be much harder than just winning a few tournaments.
I was seven. I was under-aged to travel. So of course I was incapable of receiving a Starter Pokémon, though I tried other means of catching. Taking $3000 from what we had left, which is barely enough to buy a week’s worth of groceries, I bought five PokeBalls, depleting a third of the money I had brought.
Since I didn’t have a Pokémon to help me catch another, I just had to go for it and try to befriend one. I went all over, looking for a Pokémon to want to join me. Finally, on a cloudy but fateful day, I met and captured a Gible that didn’t think itself strong enough to travel in the wild, and a Riolu who’s Trainer had abandoned it when it hadn’t Evolved. I can recall naming the Gible Sharkie, because of the way he resembled the picture of a Sharpedo I had seen, and the Riolu Ebony, as she had eyes black as night.
Training, I soon found out, was tough. Ebony recoiled every time I touched her, and Sharkie hung his head shamefully whenever he messed up a move. I remember telling them that they were doing fine, and that we would master things eventually.
Our first battle was very memorable for me. I can recall it very clearly. The day was warm but cloudy, a fine fall evening. The Trainer who had challenged me sought me out as another weaker target to practice against. Ebony was first up, facing his powerful Luxio.
But in that moment, I found that I was a different person. I wasn’t timid, unsure, or fearful. When I battled, it was like a rush came over me. I knew what to do, and I knew when to do it. Before I really realized what was happening, both his Luxio and Roserade had fallen. I remember how reality had hit me like a cold stone to the head, and I knew that I had a way with battling.
Slowly we worked our way up through the Sinnoh League, defeating every Gym Leader and winning tournament after tournament. We, the team that is, relied on Pokémon Centers and Berries for recovery and food, to save as much money as possible. And the team was growing. By the time I had beaten Hunter, the current Leader of Sunyshore City, I already had Ebony the Lucario; Sharkie the Garchomp; Spike the Togekiss; Rosie the Roserade; Veil the Milotic; and Brindle the Glaceon on the team.
We were a favourite to win the Lily of the Valley conference. We had been on multiple Trainers’ Choice airings, each saying that I was the one to become the new Champion, as the old one wasn’t well liked at all. When interviewed, I simply said that I was doing this to help someone close to my heart. I didn’t want the titles.
I counted our earnings one day with Ebony. We were half way there. We did some calculating and found that if you get $20,000 for each victory at the League conference and pay $30,000 if you lose at any point in the game, all we needed was to win three times. I knew we could do it.
The competition at the tournament was much tougher than we expected. But still, we fought with honour and bravery, and just managed to make it to the semifinals.
After a hard fought battle, we finally had our three victories. We had the money. But now a new question faced us. We could either quit and go home to Dad, or keep going for one more fight and try to win it all. If we lost I would lose the money that he needed so badly. But if we won, my family would finally get the triumph that it never had.
I remember sitting in one of the small barracks where each contestant slept, thinking about it. Ebony was beside me, staring up into the starry night. I had sighed, and said we would go home during the three days of preparation we got before the finals, and Dad would help us decide whether or not to risk it all.
He was really weak when we returned. I told him that we had made it to the finals, and that I had the money we needed. I asked him what I should do. He looked up at me and held my face in his withered hands. He whispered quietly. “Go for it.” Looking into his eyes, I nodded.
The final battle was horrendous. Three of my Pokémon down to the opponent’s one, and all in the first half. Still we fought. We fought with all we had. Finally Sharkie went down, meaning that we each had one Pokémon left.
Not fully convinced that we had an actual chance, I sent Ebony out with a heavy heart. The foe’s Dragonite was an enemy to remember. But its multiple Fire Punches did nothing to dampen our spirits.
I think Ebony could feel my desperation that day. It fueled her attacks and powered her moves. Finally, she fell. Exhaustion was ripping at her chest, her steely armour singed. But still she got up.
I called a time-out. Ebony was past fainting. She staggered and held a spiked paw to her chest, breathing heavily and rapidly. But still she stood. She looked at me, telling me that we had gone too far now to give it up. She would not go down until we won.
The battle seemed to drag on. My Lucario was on her last legs. I knew that, no matter the resolve, she would go down soon if we didn’t win.
When the foe called for Fire Blast, all of time seemed to stop for me. I saw the Dragonite conjure a great ball of flame, and send it crashing toward my Pokémon in a torrential wave of fire. My scream was drowned out by the intense rushing in my ears.
I couldn’t look. I just couldn’t. The crowd cheered loudly around me. Finally, I opened my eyes and saw.......
Both Ebony and the Dragonite were knocked out. I started to run onto the field, but remembered that entering the battlefield is forfeit. I waited with baited breath as the referee made his verdict.
Finally, after hours seemed to have passed, he held one flag to his side, and pointed the other toward a side, my side.......
“The foe’s Dragonite is unable to battle. The winner is Lucario which means the victor is Cynthia!”
I heard not the intense cheering from the stadium or the opponent’s soothing words to his Pokémon. I ran over to Ebony and held her in my arms. Her eyes barely opened in response. I hugged her and cried, rocking back and forth between my sobs. “T-thank you,” was all I could manage to say as I returned her.
I stood up and started walking out of the arena and toward the Pokémon Center, when I found a camera shoved in my face. I didn’t want to be interviewed, but I stood for one question.
“Why are you crying?”
“I’m crying....... Because my journey just ended.”
And with that I turned and began to walk to the Center, clutching Ebony’s PokeBall close, the sound of the cheering crowd still ringing in my ears.