A Blaziken Of Glory

"Get lost! I don't need you any more!"

The words stung my heart as I looked up at the one I thought was my friend, the one I had travelled with all the way from Littleroot Town. He looked the same as he always did - brown hair and eyes, grey t-shirt, dark blue jeans - but there was something about his face, something which said I was no longer in his favour. But why? What had I done wrong?

I tried to plead with him. "No! Please!" Unfortunately, all he could hear was a plaintive "Tor! Chic!", which he either could not or would not understand. He scowled at me again.

"I said get lost!" he shouted angrily. "What do I want with a Torchic who can't even beat an Oddish?! You're the most useless Pokemon I've ever known!"

So that was it; he was angry about the battle we'd had earlier that day. We had just got to the outskirts of Petalburg City when a young girl challenged him. She sent out an Oddish and my trainer sent me out, confident that I, a Fire Pokemon, could take out the Grass/Poison Type Oddish. But maybe he was a little too confident because, the next thing I knew, the Oddish was sprinkling Stun Spore all over me. I couldn't move! No matter how much my trainer begged, cajoled and threatened, I simply couldn't battle, couldn't do as he said and attack that Oddish with an Ember. He had to give up; the only other Pokemon he had were a Wooper and a Geodude, both of which had a disadvantage against Grass Pokemon. And he was not happy.

"Just go away!" he yelled, pulling his foot back as if to kick me. I dodged out of the way, but he wasn't finished with me yet. What he did next was something I can barely bring myself to describe. He set his own Wooper, my team-mate, on me. I didn't think too much of it when he released the Water/Ground Pokemon from his Poke Ball, but, then, I heard it. "Wooper! Water Gun this useless Torchic!"

What's worse, Wooper obeyed and sent a powerful jet of water in my direction. As anyone who knows anything about Pokemon will tell you, water is super-effective against Fire Pokemon. I barely dodged it and ran off into Petalburg Woods, sobbing bitterly. How could my own trainer betray me like this? How could he dump me just because I lost a battle, even if my opponent was a Pokemon I should have had an advantage against? Worst of all, how could he set one of my own team-mates on me?

I did not know. But I did know that I could never trust humans again.

Over the next few years, I lived out my life as a wild Pokemon, never letting myself be captured, always staying well out of sight if human trainers were around. Humans could not be trusted; I had learned this lesson well and I was never going to have anything to do with them again. Except, perhaps, to get my revenge on the one who had abandoned me.

So I trained myself by battling other wild Pokemon. And, as time went by, I evolved, becoming bigger and stronger. First, I became a Combusken, then, some time after that, I became what I am today, a Blaziken. I was over six feet tall, a bright red creature vaguely humanoid in shape with talon-like claws for hands and feet, and I was powerful. I knew that by instinct, just as I knew I could now perform an Attack called Blaze Kick. I told myself that, if I ever saw my old trainer again, I would Blaze-kick him straight to Hell.

But my old vow never faltered. I had sworn not to trust humans again and I certainly wasn't going to let one capture me; I'd already been let down by one trainer. So I avoided humans and associated only with wild Pokemon. And things might have stayed that way but for a chance encounter I had one day.

It was late summer and I was out on the plains, hiding among the tall grass, when I saw a movement. It was humans, two of them. And, when I saw humans, my immediate response was to let fly with a Flamethrower, not caring in the slightest if I hurt them. After all, a human had hurt me once. He had betrayed and abandoned me when I was just a Torchic. So, as the two humans drew nearer, I prepared to do what I always did to members of that accursed race.

This time, however, I must have been a fraction too slow. Before I could launch my Flamethrower, one of them spotted me. "Wow! A Blaziken!" I heard him say. "I'm gonna catch it!" He pulled a Ball off his belt, a Ball of the type my old trainer kept me in. "Vaporeon, go!"

And the Water Type Eevee Evolution burst out of the Poke Ball in a flash of light. She snorted, opened her mouth and shot a jet of water in my direction. Water Gun, every Fire Pokemon's worst nightmare. And, in my case, it brought back bad memories, memories of how my old trainer had had his Wooper use that Attack against me. I fled, running through the tall grass as the two humans, kids around the same age my old trainer was when I last saw him, gave chase. I could hear them shouting as I ran.

"Stop it! Don't let it get away!"

"Swellow! Search from the air!"

I saw the Swellow flying high above, his eyes peeled for any sign of me. Would these humans never give up? Would I be forced to spend the rest of my life running from them? These thoughts echoed in my mind as I ran, my mind focused on only one thing: putting as much distance as possible between them and myself.

I was so preoccupied with evading my pursuers that I failed to notice I was coming to the edge of a cliff until it was too late. One moment I was running from the humans who wanted to capture me, the next I was falling as the ground below my feet was replaced with thin air . . .

That's the last thing I remember before I woke up to find a Chansey standing beside me. I was lying on something soft and smooth, something that felt unnatural, like something associated with those blasted humans. What was more, the Chansey was wearing something on her head, a white cap marked with a red cross. Had she been brainwashed into thinking she was human?

"Wha . . .?" I tried to say.

"Don't try to talk!" she warned in her sweet melodic voice as the door opened and someone came in. That someone was a human, a female with red hair, who wore a pink dress with a white apron over it. On her head was a cap identical to the Chansey's. I panicked - to me, all humans were the same - and opened my beak to Flamethrower her.

But, before I could do so, she began to speak. "Good to see you awake," she told me. I paused, sucking my fire back in, as I heard her gentle voice, so different from the hectoring tones of my old trainer. "You're in the Pokemon Centre; someone found you unconscious at the bottom of a cliff and brought you here."

Aha! A Pokemon Centre! I had been inside one with my old trainer; they even had a human female identical in every respect to the one looking at me now. But, after what I'd been through, could I trust her? I'd vowed long ago that I was never again going to have anything to do with humans, never again going to risk being betrayed and driven away. Humans did not rate very highly in my view; they saw Pokemon as little more than tools and, if you weren't up to scratch, they would throw you away like rubbish. I'd learned that lesson while I was still a Torchic and I wasn't going to let it happen again.

"Would you like to see the person who brought you in?" was the human female's next question. Then, before I could reply, she went out into the corridor and returned moments later accompanied by a young girl. She had long light brown hair tied back in a pony tail and pale blue eyes, her clothing consisting of a pink top and pale grey trousers, with white sneakers on her feet. At first, I was almost relieved to see her - there was a look of compassion on her face, which suggested that she genuinely cared about me - but, then, I noticed something on her belt: Poke Balls. This girl was a trainer!

"Get away from me!" I cried, forgetting that all she could hear was the syllables of my name repeated over and over. I made to rush at her, but, before I could do so, the nurse said something to the Chansey.

"Chansey! Sing, now!"

And the Chansey sang a sweet song, a song so soothing that I felt myself relax instantly as my eyes grew heavy and I fell asleep.

The next time I woke up, I was somewhere else again. I did not know where I was, but it certainly wasn't the Pokemon Centre. All I knew was that I was in one of those caves which humans call "buildings", but how in the world did I get here? Come to think of it, how had that girl taken me to the Pokemon Centre? I was too big for her to carry.

Turning my head, I saw five other Pokemon in the room with me. There was a Camerupt, a Growlithe, a Quilava, a Ninetales and a Torkoal, all Fire Pokemon like me. Strangely, they seemed completely unconcerned about being inside a human dwelling; indeed, the Ninetales was stretched out on the floor, looking completely relaxed. "What are you all doing here?" I blurted out. I couldn't help it; I had to know what was going on.

"We live here," the Growlithe replied. He got up and padded over to me. "Sophie takes care of us."

"Sophie?" I had no idea what that meant.

"The girl who brought you here." It was the Ninetales who spoke this time, looking at me from where she was reclining. "She loves Fire Pokemon and, if she finds one that's hurt, she takes it in and cares for it. She rescued me when I got caught in a trap as a Vulpix." She glanced down at her left foreleg. I followed her gaze and noticed a slight scar, covered by her creamy white fur. "I would have lost my leg if it hadn't been for her," she concluded.

A human rescuing a Pokemon? I had never heard of such a thing before. I turned to the rest of the Pokemon in the room. "What about you?"

"Yes. She rescued us too," the Camerupt, Growlithe, Quilava and Torkoal replied in their respective languages.

For the first time, I began to wonder if humans might not all be bad, if some of them might actually be trustworthy. If this Sophie girl had rescued Pokemon, did that mean she cared about us? Perhaps, but that still did not explain how she had taken me to the Pokemon Centre or from there to here. I put this question to the others, who nodded knowingly.

"Oh, that's easy," said the Quilava. "She uses Poke Balls."

Poke Balls. Those things were my worst nightmare. To me, they represented everything bad about humans. They were . . . Words could hardly describe what I was thinking, but I felt a deep sense of loathing for the very idea of being inside one of those . . . things! And, when the Quilava mentioned Poke Balls, I just flipped out, went mental. I couldn't help it; I'd been nursing my mistrust of humans for a long time and, now, it seemed my fears had been well-founded.

"No!" I shouted angrily. "She tricked you! She only "rescued" us so she could use us! Don't you see?!"

"Blaziken . . ." The Ninetales took a step towards me to try and calm me down.

I sent her flying with a powerful Blaze Kick. "Get away from me! I don't trust humans and I never will! I'm leaving!"

With that, I jumped up, ran to the window (which happened to be open), climbed onto the sill and jumped out before any of the other Pokemon could stop me.

Luckily, the window wasn't too high up so I didn't hurt myself when I landed. I shook myself and took stock of my surroundings. I was in a town, a small town but still a town, still a place filled with humans. I had to get out of here before I was spotted - and a Blaziken is pretty easy to spot. So I ran, not looking back until I was clear of that accursed place. I was going back to the plains where I belonged, back to the life of a wild Pokemon.

As I ran, memories flooded my mind. I recalled the day I was given to my old trainer (I haven't mentioned his name because I can't bring myself to after the way he treated me), his promise that we would "always be together", the way he cruelly broke that promise. I recalled how, after he abandoned me, I vowed never to trust humans again. I recalled the two trainers who had effectively chased me off a cliff. And I recalled the moment I first saw the girl called Sophie. She had seemed so nice at first, but she was like all humans. Or was she?

I didn't want to admit it, but doubts had started to form in my mind. Now I thought about it, none of Sophie's Pokemon looked unhappy to be with a human. Or had they been brainwashed somehow? I did not know, but what I did know was that I was never going back. I was not going to put myself in a position where I might be exploited and abandoned.

"I hate humans!" I shouted, sending a Flamethrower into the air in a bid to vent my anger. "I hate humans!" But, even as I said it, I began to wonder if I really believed it any more.

But old prejudices die hard, so I dismissed these doubts and resolved to carry on my life as a wild Pokemon.

Days passed. In that time, I avoided all contact with humans, hiding if one appeared. I spoke to other wild Pokemon who told of close calls they had had with humans, of how they had narrowly avoided capture in those . . . things called Poke Balls. One Nidorina even told me she had seen her mate caught in one of those Balls; she only just got away. It was stories like this which strengthened my resolve; I was never going to put myself in a position where I might be caught by a human.

And things might have carried on that way, but for what happened just a few days after I fled Sophie's home.

It was mid-afternoon and I was resting in the shade when I heard a voice, a human voice. There was something about it that I couldn't quite place, something that seemed unlike what I had come to expect from humans. But what?

"Blaziken! Blaziken, where are you?!"

It was a girl's voice. And it sounded almost as if she was searching for something, searching for me. What was more, her tone didn't sound right for a trainer out to find Pokemon in order to exploit them. She sounded - I searched my mind for the right word - upset and anxious. And there was only one human I knew who had ever shown such concern for me: Sophie. Had she really come looking for me even after the way I ran out on her? Did she really care about me that much?

"No!" I told myself. "It's all a trick! All humans are the same. If I go with her, she'll dump me as soon as I lose a battle."

A sudden cry cut through my thoughts. I swiftly recognised Sophie's voice (or at least that's whose voice I assumed it was) followed by the hiss of a Seviper. It sounded like she was in trouble; Sevipers were, I knew from experience, very tough and very vicious. I hesitated, telling myself that I shouldn't meddle in anything which concerned a human, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I should do something, that it was wrong to . . .


I heard the scream again and peered through the bushes to see a huge jet black Seviper hissing at someone crouching on the ground. I caught a glimpse of brown hair tied back in a pony tail and knew that this was indeed Sophie. She was trying to fend off the Seviper with her backpack but didn't seem to be having much luck. And the look etched on her face was one of pure terror. "Blaziken, help!" she cried, spotting me and looking at me desperately.

In that instant, all my mistrust of humans melted away; all that mattered was that a living creature was in trouble. I charged towards the Seviper, my nostrils aflare as I powered up my Flamethrower. "Yo! Snakeface!" I shouted. The Seviper looked up. "Let's heat things up!" I blasted the Seviper with a powerful jet of fire, knocking him flying. He was stunned but quickly shook it off and came after me, his barbed tail glowing as he prepared to use Poison Tail.

I was ready for him. Before he could strike, I leapt out of the way and came after him with a Blaze Kick. My feet turned into balls of fire as I aimed kick after kick at the Seviper, all the while picturing the face of my old trainer, the one who had abandoned me and caused me to lose my trust in humans. I did not stop to question why I was battling a fellow Pokemon in order to save another human; my instincts had taken over and all I could do was fight. The Seviper tried to fight back a few times, but I was too quick for him and dodged nearly every one of his Bite and Poison Tail Attacks. He got a few hits on me, but it was never anything critical and I managed to avoid being Poisoned. Finally, I seized him by the tail and, using Strength, flung him far into the distance.

"Blaziken, you . . . you saved me!"

I looked round at the sound of Sophie's voice. She was trying to get up and, for the first time, I noticed that she was not wearing any Poke Balls on her belt. Had she come out here without her Pokemon? Probably - why else would that Seviper have attacked her? It was then that I realised what she had said and the significance of those words. I had saved a human, one of those I had long hated. I knelt down beside her and studied her closely, the first time in years I had seen a human close up. She did not look at me as if I was her personal property; rather, her expression showed genuine concern as she held her hand out to me.

I took a deep breath and began to "talk" to her, trying to explain how I felt. All she heard was a string of "blazikens", but what I said was: "Sophie, I know you can't understand me, but you're the first decent human I've met. When I was a Torchic, I lost a battle and my old trainer abandoned me; he said I was useless and he didn't need me. So I grew to hate all humans and vowed never to let myself be caught by one again. Then, you found me and took me to your home, but I was afraid and didn't want to believe you really cared. I . . ." I paused " . . . I've been thinking and I now realise you are a decent person, that you do care about all your Pokemon. And I would like to join you."

Catching my breath after my long speech, I looked at Sophie, unsure what to expect. Had she understood me? Her next move told me she had; she reached into her backpack and pulled out an empty Poke Ball, which she pointed at me. This time, I didn't panic and try to run away or use one of my Attacks. Instead, I calmly allowed myself to be drawn into the Ball.

I was now officially Sophie's Pokemon. My old trainer had clearly relinquished his claim on me, not that I cared; I never wanted to see him again. Sophie, on the other hand, really cared about her team of Fire Pokemon, a team I was now part of. Ninetales, Camerupt, Torkoal, Quilava, Growlithe and I became firm friends and fought in many battles. And, if one of us lost, Sophie would reassure us and tell us that we could always try again. We hadn't lost her love just because we hadn't been able to defeat an opponent. And, as it happens, I never did see my old trainer again.

But that didn't matter because I now had a trainer who genuinely cared, a trainer who was also my friend. And this friendship was a true one based on mutual trust; I battled for Sophie not because she forced me to, but because I trusted her, as did the rest of her Pokemon. And I actually began to look forward to hearing these words:

"Blaziken, go!"