It’s taken me years of preparation.
I’ve journeyed into the underground world of Pokémon fighting and I’ve seen the heart of madness.
The streets are wet with rain but from the smell of the underground gym here you’d think it was urine. The roaring din of the city heaves itself ceaselessly against the cinder brick walls of the damp, sweat-soaked room we’re in and is drowned out by the howls of the crowd. Odds are called, bets are placed, and above them all shouts of blood-crazed glee and horrific resignation rise like a chorus from the darkest pits of hell.
But it’s not hell. It’s the Indigo Plateau. I’m in the Indigo Plateau and I have entered the Kumite, a no-holds-barred bloodsport tournament to determine the one true Pokémon master. Trainers from all over have come here to try and topple the Elite Four, but so far Lorelei, Bruno, Agatha, and Lance have withstood all challengers. I’m not here for them, though.
I’m here for him.
Through the fever dream of the shifting, formless crowd I see him: hat perched cockily on his head, trusty lightning rat at his side. Just seeing him, even for that brief glimpse in time, brings the bile in my gut to a boil. I spit his name from my mouth with all the hatred burning in my heart.
I wasn’t the one who chose this destiny for myself. I was only a child when my grandfather seemingly arbitrarily decided to pit us against each other, setting us both on a path that would lead inevitably toward our own destruction. My only sin as a child was never being good enough, never being quite the trainer Satoshi was. I paid for it with scars my soul will forever bear. My own grandfather refused to even remember my name! Worse, he happily agreed at the brat’s suggestion my new name be “BUTTFACE.” But that dishonor is mine and mine alone. I seek not retribution against Satoshi for the crimes of my family.
No, he has his own sins to atone for.
In my mind I work through the script in my head one more time. First a ground-type to diminish his rat’s effects. Then a water type. Then a fire type. Then grass. Then flying. And finally, ghost. He’ll be forced to withdraw his Pikachu to protect it, but I will banish his Pokémon one by one, until his faithful companion, already severely injured, is his only remaining option. And then I will ask him, “Do you remember the S.S. Anne?”
He’ll look at me, bewildered, not understanding my point. And I’ll ask him again, “Do you remember the S.S. Anne?” And he’ll say something about our fight, how he bested me and my Raticate.
My beautiful Raticate. I’m doing this for you. I’m so sorry I failed you.
I’ll snap at him to shut his filthy mouth lest he defile your name by even speaking it. I’ll tell him he doesn’t even deserve to say the word, not after what he did. Not after he left you there, bleeding in my arms on the deck of a luxury liner, miles away from the nearest Pokémon Center. I couldn’t save you, my dear Raticate. And that is a shame greater than any imposed by my so-called family. I will carry it with me, a giant scarlet letter burned permanently into my chest, brandishing it to all I see so they will know the loss I’ve suffered and the crime of which I’m guilty until finally I can say I’ve avenged your death and end my own pathetic existence.
I’m going to take from Satoshi what he took from me: a best friend. I’m going to look into his eyes while I finish it off. I’m going to watch him flinch from the sound of tiny bones breaking. I’m going to hear his cries over the sound of flesh being torn asunder. And once I’ve stolen the one thing he truly loves in this world, once I’ve snuffed out the only joy he’s ever known, my mission will be complete. I’ll say to him, “You brought this on yourself.” Then I’ll turn to my “Grandfather” and scream, “YOU did this!”
And then I’ll turn my remaining Pokémon on myself. And at last we’ll be together again, Raticate.
If the choice is life or you, I choose you. I’ll always choose you.
Wear this shirt: While convincing your less-intelligent friends to fight your battles for you.
Don’t wear this shirt: In the tall grass. THERE ARE WILD POKEMON IN THE TALL GRASS!
This shirt tells the world: “I’m more of an ‘idea’ person. You can handle the ‘action.’”
We call this color: Blackémon
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