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PoochieHead

[Story] Cycles of Sisyphus (One-off)

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Author's Note: This was to be my submission for the Creative Writing Contest, but seeing as I'm too late, I reckon it'd be a shame to trash it. So I'll post it here in its entirety, before I had actually trimmed it down to 1,500 words. Behold!

 

- - - - - Cycles of Sisyphus - - - - -

 
 
 
 
        "Hello? Are you... erm...?"
        Blinking at the man before me, my brows furrowed and I visibly grimaced at my own folly. How could I allow myself to be so unfocused during the mission? The Boss would have me thrown into the Sharpedo tank if I was unsuccessful, only to have my inevitable replacement briefed while feasting his eyes upon a more literal feast in absolute terror. It wouldn't matter if I was his favorite; in this branch of the Team, you are who you are only in a given moment, and there's no telling who you'll be in the next.
        Clearly impatient with my internal struggles, the Gym Leader half-barked "You know, I don't even have to accept your challenge right now. The match will be three versus three, with no Potions, Status Restoration or substitutions." That was enough to snap me back into the given moment, and my eyes trained on him again. "Cheren, is it? Let's see how well Normal types fare against your future Champion." Pulling my arm back, I launched a PokeBall into the center of the arena. "It's go time, Killfish!"
        My big talk was enough to elicit a wry smile from the collected Cheren as his eyes trailed my Pokemon. It hopped around with vigor. "Qwilfish? Are you from Johto, challenger?" I grinned, "Orre, actually. You've probably never even heard of it." Returning the volley, Cheren rocketed a PokeBall of his own into play. "Actually, I have. Didn't it make headlines worldwide once or twice? Zangoose, let's do this." From the shimmer emerged a tough looking Pokemon, sharpening its claws in anticipation. "Nice," I remarked; Cheren simply nodded and adjusted his tie. "Normally," he stated matter-of-factly, "you would attack second, but since you're the challenger, I'll let you take your best shot."
        Given free agency to take initiative, I didn't miss a beat. "Fine by us! Killfish, you know what to do. Set the stage!" Cheren raised his eyebrows quizzically at the lack of an order, but his mouth fell agape when not only did the Pokemon respond, but its punishing response was to pepper his entire side of the field in spikes oozing a tainted purple fluid. "You know this is the first Gym, right?" he remarked in disbelief, to which I merely shrugged. It was scrawled all over his face; he already regretted his miscalculation. From here on out, my form had to be perfect. There would be no opportunities like that again.
        "Zangoose, use Work Up!"
        At that, the Pokemon became a hyped mongoose, flexing and chattering aggressively. While it was doing so, I made no hesitation in commanding "Killfish, use Hydro Pump!" Caught in its routine, Zangoose was slammed square in the chest with a column of compressed water, launching him into the wall in a clutter of debris. That wasn't enough to take out the Pokemon; only a few seconds passed before it was back on its feet, making no visible effort to tread around the Toxic Spikes thanks (presumably) to its Ability, Immunity.
        You could say I'm learned, and you wouldn't be wrong. My training within the Team involved learning countless practices in the art of battle, but I took it upon myself to study more than my peers. Even as a young, green, starry-eyed recruit, my instincts told me that the best tactician was not merely the most clever, but also the most informed.
        They chose me for the impossible because I'm a Battle Technician. I am no Pokemon Trainer. My role is that of a one man Pokemon League, and so, one week ago, I was tasked with an infiltration of the Unova League in the most orthodox manner: defeat them all and become the Champion, an executive and director of an entire region. Ironic, isn't it? To prop the door open with my foot and allow my Team to slink into the world theater in shadow, all I had to do was live a ten year old's dream.
        In the end, it all hinges on my strategic prowess and the things that make me different.
        "Zangoose, are you all right? In that case, use Return!" My eyes strained to trail the white blur as it drew power into its forearm. I cried "Killfish, watch out!" to no avail, and watched helplessly as Zangoose cracked my Qwilfish right in its face, and this time it was my turn to endure seeing my Pokemon hit the wall from raw power. "Good job!" The Zangoose smirked at me as if it found relish in its revenge. Another one of those and I'm out. "Killfish, looks like I have no other choice..." I murmured, but Cheren did not hesitate. "Zangoose, finish it with one last Return!" As it launched itself forward, I called back Killfish, throwing a different PokeBall right into Zangoose's projected path.
        Both trainer and Pokemon looked panicked, and Cheren sputtered a hectic order out as Zangoose's arm phased cleanly through its opponent, to no effect. "Funclops... cripple it." My mouth couldn't help but worm into a shit-eating grin when the ghastly orbs made contact with the poor furry creature in the next dance, but not before Zangoose complied with its trainer, gashing with a Super Effective Night Slash in the process. Though Dusclops had visible lacerations across its ethereal belly, it was Zangoose who looked ready to tip over at the slightest tap. "Zangoose, you've done more than well so far. Rake it with another Night Slash!" It hesitantly followed its master's order, visibly pained by every small movement. In reaction, Funclops inflicted Pain Split, again spurring Cheren to shoot me with a look of befuddlement.
        There's a reason I'm Boss' favorite. When I joined the Team among the new recruits and stole my first Pokemon, I unlocked my potential as I began battle practice with it in the Hideout. For centuries, they've said Pokemon cannot act without clear orders, but why is that? To me, it only makes sense that intelligent creatures can learn to fight with vague commands, or even predict what their Trainer will say next. And if that's possible, where does it lead? Who knows, maybe one day mine will retain even more than four moves at a time. Now that would be something. But, for now, my talent and these Pokemon are simply means to an end... or rather, a grand and sinister beginning.
        "Funclops, use Foresight!"
        Normally calm and coordinated, the young Gym Leader didn't even question it anymore, though his grim eyes spoke volumes: Foresight? I answered, "I do research." His tactics began to err on the verge of repetitive as Zangoose landed one more Night Slash, before Funclops ended it with a menacing shadow that seemed to drain Zangoose's remaining energy. Cheren was disappointed, but still commended his Pokemon with "Good work, Zangoose!" If I believed in good and evil, I'd say he was quite the hero.
        As the trajectory of his next PokeBall reached its apex, he summoned Stoutland. Its fur whipped every which way as it plopped heavily onto the ground, standing mean and tall. Funclops seemed disconcerted, surely the work of Stoutland's Intimidate. There was no salvaging the unlucky specter, and everyone in the stadium knew it. One Crunch later, Funclops was not having fun at all - as a matter of fact, it wasn't even conscious.
        Having only two Pokemon left, one halfway knocked out, I knew it was time to break the game. "Citizen Snips, show them what we do!" Out from the red and white sphere popped a purple leviathan, standing even taller than the oversized pooch. "Impressive regional variety, but it'll do you no good against our brute force! Stoutland use Return!"
        Snips welcomed the attack and seemed to absorb it like some hellish monster, then recovered a little, owing to the Black Sludge coating its arms. No Pokemon was more specifically molded by me than this — its heavy fortification was the very catalyst for my next strategy, controversial as it is. It sickens me to even think of it as "controversial." I'm supposed to be the one in it for efficiency, for my job, whereas others battle for fun, and even so, I respect luck and clever tricks as much as I do skill and planning. I now know the best tactician is not merely the most clever or informed, but the most lucky. Nonetheless, today's Trainers would have you abandon luck the moment you initiate a battle, and bemoan you for using gimmicks or blind creativity.
        Well fuck them.
        As Stoutland readied for another Return, the larger Drapion outsped it with ease... only to pinch itself with its pincers. And that spelled disaster for my opponent: Acupressure. From there on, I had no need to focus on the match itself. Snips knew the drill: Acupressure, Rest off damage, and then sweep. Stoutland fell to one Knock Off, and the Watchog probably fainted before the Knock Off even made contact. It was savagery.
        The next act in this personal play was a bit fuzzy in my mind.
        Memories always bleed from the past when least expected, I marveled. Even as I brood in the opulent Hall of Fame, I still recall the first Gym battle that enabled an enthusiastic harbinger of ruin. If Cheren knew at that moment what he enabled when he placed that badge in my palm and wished me all the luck in the world, he'd have been sick. I'd rather not remember the rest now, even with ample time for distraction. I smiled as I sensed the Executive approaching, turning to face her.
        "Strange, isn't it, how I take care to scurry around the memories that brought today's anniversary of my own induction? A year ago, I'd embrace such introspection, so is it not an acquired weakness of my own device? I teach you all the ends justify the means, and now that I've sprinted so far down this path, I'm damned to convince myself of it to the bitter end. I'm doomed to bear these scars of the mind and then forget, only to find myself ponderous before pushing them back out of my mind again. So tell me, now... what is changed in Unova?"
        "Actually, Boss, I'm here to brief you on the status of our agent in Kalos..." Snaking open a folder in her hand with her fingers, she flipped through the pages indifferently, very well accustomed to my peculiar idiosyncrasies.

        "You'll sit upon your memories to this, sir."

Edited by PoochieHead

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