The opposing trainer is looking at me, the Vaporeon in front of him showing off by sending frost spreading at my feet.
"Okay," I say calmly, "Magneton, let's go."
I reach for Magneton's Pokeball, but instead, one of the Pokeballs in my pocket glows brightly and from it appears a Pokemon I didn't summon.
"Charmander!" I scold, frustrated, "I didn't want you!"
I am Damien, and I recently got a Pokemon Collector license through my work as a trainer. The problem with collecting Pokemon and being able to take them around with you, is that not all of the Pokemon you carry will be able to fight, and some of them want to fight.
Unfortunately, I've ended up with one of them. Because I AM a collector, I can't just send it to a collector. I'm responsible for all my Pokemon, and a few other trainers' also.
This Charmander has bad timing, always coming out when it is most disadvantaged. I suppose it wants to become stronger; well, it SHOULD, it's so weak!
Before I can recall it, the Vaporeon has water gunned it and its tail fizzles weakly. It doesn't get up.
"Hahahah," laughs my opponent, "great strategy, Damien! I knew you was more hyped up than you shoulda been. Now, you knows da rules, that'll be half ya cash."
Half my cash is not very much. Charmander had lost me battle after battle, and now my reputation is beginning to slip. That's not what I'm worried about though. Without money, I can't buy more Pokeballs or potions, I can't afford to maintain my license, I can't be a Pokemon trainer. And what else can I do? This is my whole life!
I pick up Charmander and carry it for a way, heading in the direction of the nearest Pokemon Center - which is quite a way away. Inconvenience. Charmander looks up at me apologetically, and licks my hand. I smile weakly, wishing I could regain my place as a top trainer. This one Pokemon was spoiling all my chances.
But did it have to? Of course it was possible to release Pokemon! They were wild once, right? Charmander are rare, but I can pass that up if I have to.
I set Charmander gently on the ground in front of me.
"Charmander," I say, and it nods. "I was thinkin' it'd be a good thing if ya'd be free of a trainer. Wild Pokemon are more happy than trained ones, right, an' this way you could fight without bein' worried 'bout strategy or losin'."
Charmander has a sad look in its eyes, but I ignore it. Of course Pokemon were happier in the wild! And I would be too!
I break its Pokeball in two and walk away, beginning to work my way back to where I had met the last trainer. I need good challenges to redeem myself. I feel as if a load had been taken off my back. Then I see a figure in front of me. A cute young lady with Pokeballs attached to her belt.
"Wanna fight?" she offers, pulling a Pokeball off her belt.
"Of course," I agree.
"In that case... Marowak, I call you!"
"Fearow," I respond, "let's go!"
Before I can open the ball, however, a familiar figure jumps in the way.
"Char char," it assures me, and dives at the Marowak. I just stare.
"Marowak," orders my opponent, "bone club!"
Charmander jumps out to scratch Marowak, but the ground Pokemon leaps out the way and clobbers it on the head, beating it down.
"I win," she says, "wow, my first clean victory. You must be a pretty lame trainer. Half your cash, please."
I hand it over wordlessly, and she walks off with a bounce in her step. Cow.
Charmander is lying on the ground, looking battered and sorry for itself. I don't feel sympathy, just irritation. I'm down to my last twenty dollars, and I have to live on that.
"Charmander," I growl, "I told you to stay behind."
"Char, charmander," it says sadly. I know it was trying to get back into my favour by impressing me. It wants to stay with me, and that makes me feel bad for not wanting it.
But I have to come first. If I don't take care of my Pokemon, who will?
"Charmander, I'll tell you what. I can't put you back in my Pokeball, so I'll go to the nearest Pokemon Center and see if I can get you some potions and things to make you stronger."
"Char char?" It has hope in its eyes, it wants to become stronger. It trusts what I say.
"Of course. This area should be fairly safe. You can just wait around here." I took a few steps around. "See, there's a good rock for you to sit on. I'll be back by nightfall."
I turn and run off. I actually do go to the Pokemon Center. I only just realised - if a Pokemon has that much determination, surely I can help it get stronger. There must be some kind of performance enchancer for a Charmander. And Charizard ARE really strong.
Several hours have passed. Evening is coming, and I'm still in the Pokemon Center. I met a friend of mine who I have not seen in years, and he introduced me to some of his friends... how could I just leave? Charmander will be okay.
Just as I think that, it begins to rain. Pour, in fact.
"Damo," says one of the guys at my table, "you must have some interesting Pokemon stories, what with ya bein' a collecta and all."
"Yeah, Damo, what wouldja recommend raisin'?"
"Whatever you do," I say, "don't raise a Charmander." And I tell them about mine, and how I left it on the rock. As I talk, I realise that I am going to leave Charmander there. I have deceived it.
The guys at the table laugh, but someone, a complete stranger, barges up and starts hassling me. What right's he got, this stupid kid, to tell me what to do? It makes me mad and the more I argue, the more it convinces me that this Charmander's more trouble than its worth.
Can't sleep tonight. Why am I being so stupidly sentimental over this rotten Pokemon who does nothing but make me lose? But I don't think tricking a Pokemon like I did is a sign of a good trainer. And it is still raining hard. Fire Pokemon don't like water, and Charmander was already weak...
I shut my eyes, still trying vainly to get to sleep. All I can see when my eyes are shut are her eyes... that hopeful and sad combination, trusting me...
I have made a mistake. I will go and get Charmander in the morning. I'd better buy lots of potions and such first so it won't think I abandoned it, like I came so close to doing. The storm, that could be an excuse.
But I guess a good trainer would have gone anyway... despite the storm
Charmander looks between me and those kids who had a go at me yesterday. It is making a choice. Was that one day when I abandoned it enough to ruin its trust forever? I feel guilty for leaving it but I can't show that in front of them.
Maybe I should have shown it. I probably seem pretty cold, because Charmander rejects me. It uses a strong attack to show it, and I get out of there pretty quickly.
I have never seen it use that attack before. So it took separating from me to become strong? What does that say about me as a trainer...
Well, I guess it will be better with Ash than with a trainer who has no time for it, who has to concentrate on so many other Pokemon. And maybe I can rebuild my shattered training career.
But I can still see its sad blue eyes staring up at me. It had trusted me.