It’s easy to feel sorry for a young pokémon like this little bug type. After all, he’s only about 11 pounds and made of mostly exoskeleton and mushroom. And here it is, standing in the shadow of the massive, shelled seacucumber pokémon, gastrodon. Already it’s a mismatch – making it seem all the more cruel that I’ve attached a brace around its small, tick-like limbs, restricting its movement. But that’s what training is about. You can’t let your emotions get in the way when you’re trying to train a champion.
“Just a little more, Paras. You’re not ready to give up yet,” I tell my pokémon in a reassuring and calm voice.
From where I’m standing, where the tall grass just ends and there is a short strip of beach dividing land from sea, only a silhouette of the larger pokémon can be made out, as the sunset over the ocean is blocked out behind it. Just a shadow with a long neck and horns.
Paras braces itself – a stream of water shoots from the top of the shadow into the sand, sending a thick, muddy ball to swallow my paras. Usually, when this happened, Paras came out on its back, or passed out on its belly. I’ve become accustomed to the site.
I just hope Paras is becoming accustomed to it himself.
As the swirling black mud passes, Paras, having learned to roll with the attack, stood firmly in place, though dripping with sand and mud.
Apparently he is. “Good job, Paras.”
The gastrodon, not impressed by the smaller and weaker pokémon’s effort, began closing the space between then, dragging its body thought the sand with its soft, spongy appendages that crept out from the bottom of its spiked shell. Paras, despite barely having the energy to stand with the brace around its legs, stands defiantly. Gastrodon builds up to launch another attack, and I touch the tip of my black hat.
Out from the grass shoots a blur that passes directly in front of the towering shadow. Paras’ spotter, a kricketune that evolved from a kricketot I caught on my first day in this region. With a swipe of its two blade-like arms, crossed like an “X,” the large beast falls, revealing the pink coloration of its skin as it lays on the beach, fainted.
Tonfa, as I have named him, stands on the beach, the surf just coming up to its small, stubby brown feet. He grooms his mustache proudly, and chirps a victory song with its flapping wings.
“Yes, yes, Tonfa, you’re very impressive. Now, check on your brother, Paras.”
Tonfa has gone through the drill a hundred times before, but he never gets tired of showing off to my newer pokémon.
Experienced trainers often have their more powerful pokémon spot for their weaker ones when training. This lets the trainer send their pokémon against extremely tough opponents, pushing their pokémon to its limit. Then the spotter comes in and finishes the job before the weaker pokémon gets seriously hurt. The brace is like a boxer wearing weighted gloves, it forces them to put more effort into every move and fosters faster growth.
Tonfa brushes the dirt off Paras with its arm and chirps some words of encouragement. He holds his arm up and waves it back and forth, trying to see if the bug/grass type’s protruding eyes follow. But Paras just sways back and forth with Tonfa’s movement, eventually rolling over on its side. Tonfa jumps back a step, looks at me and shakes his head.
“Well, you have had a pretty rough day, Paras. Time to rest.” I pull a pokéball from my long black coat and point it at the overturned pokémon, its legs moving as if it were walking on the ground. The red beam shoots out of the ball, but Paras rolls out of the way, tumbling over several times before landing on its legs. Any other time, a look of contempt like the one Paras gave me now would be cause for a reprimand. But, getting its meaning, I couldn’t complain.
Just then, I hear a high pitched beeping from the inside pocket of my coat. I unzip the jacket about half way to retrieve the pokéradar within.
Looking at it, I can see the radar has located another spot I can find a gastrodon. “Alright, you want one more, I’ll give it to you. Tonfa!”
The kricketune flourishes and bows with its arm, the disappears with a buzz back into the tall grass.
Sometimes I do feel bad, but I’ve seen where the training can lead, and I know Paras and I won’t regret the work. Pokémon have a natural desire to battle and become stronger, but not all of them have the desire to be the best. When they don’t, then this level of training is just wrong, cruel even. That’s my greatest fear, and the way Paras held on today quelled the fear completely. He’ll be a fine member of the team some day.