Chapter 3: Sweet Revenge
The three men ran outside to the battlefield in what seemed like forever. Volkner tugged on his tank top as he viewed what they were up against. The two Electabuzz, Beef and Smoke, were shaking apples from an apple tree. Neither pokemon seemed to be deprived of sleep, strength, or sustenance. If anything went wrong in this part of the mission, the consequences could involve a high degree of Thunderbolt power. And indeed, judging from the sour expression on one of the Electabuzz's faces, they did not want to cross any wires.
Past the Electabuzz and pokemon was the legendary obstacle course. It was everything Volkner dreamed of in a death trap. All possible injury and trauma were packed within that mile-stretch. The barbed wire was rusty and bloody, eager to send people to the hospital. Groups of skittish, deranged Raticate snapped their wide jaws at one another, appearing sick by the long pools of drool cascading from the sides of their mouths. The neighboring Rattata from the front entrance made sure to keep away from their aggravated relatives by hiding in the trees or, in some cases, the potholes. And those potholes seemed plenty troublesome on their own, wide and deep. A short person could fall straight into one and be stranded for weeks. A tall person could twist his ankle if he attempted to jump one. And then there were the various other obstacles, like seas of broken glass, unimaginable piles of beer cans, thick, juicy mud puddles, and two fallen trees never picked up from the last lightning storm. This was what sent ninety-nine and a half men to their premature graves.
Luckily, Flint hadn't seemed to step a foot on the course yet. A few feet away from the starting line, the red-haired man was having the time of his life toying with the lieutenant's mind. Even from a far distance, everyone could clearly see Surge's body take on a lobster-red skin tone. Flint was doing a fine job spewing out about a decade's worth of insults to Surge's face. Weight, intelligence, hair color, tan color - the lieutenant grew angrier and angrier with each punch.
Then Flint stripped himself down to his undies and climbed up a tree in the middle of the course.
"GET BACK DOWN HERE, MAGGOT !" Surge snapped, charging headfirst towards the tree. "WHEN I GOT ALL YA'LL GATHERED UP, I WILL MAKE SURE YOU SUFFER LIKE MAGGOTS DO..."
That was the cue. Volkner tied a strip of cloth around his hair and rushed to the scene, picking a branch along the way. He wanted to pound the branch directly into Surge's head, but instead he stuck to prodding his father in the back with the pointy object. "Dad !" he called.
Surge turned around, hands still on the tree. "Adam Junior !"
Volkner turned red. "Hey, I thought I told you I go by Volkner now !" he spat. "And what the crap is with this 'junior' stuff ? I know your name's not Adam !"
"IT AIN'T NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHAT MY NAME IS !"
"I DON'T CA-...I mean, I don't care." Volkner raised his stick in the air. "We've got a bone to pick with you, Dad. You deprived us of time and energy meant to be loser rockstar wannabes, and we have decided to declare vengeance ! We shall be laughed at no longer !"
"Dude, if it's vengeance you want, your friend with the afro's scarring enough."
"No ! That would be only an easy punishment for you ! This act of vengeance dates back to your incompetence and willingness to put your only son through tremendous obstacles !"
He lowered his stick and brushed the top of Surge's hair. The lieutenant's blonde spikes seemed to rise as he stared at his son with a mixture of dismay, annoyance, and arrogance. "So...whatcha gonna do, son ?"
The branch twirled out of Volkner's grip and skidded to the ground, split in two. Volkner ducked just in time before the meaty fist got to him. Without a trusty stick or willing pokemon, this would be a matter of hand-to-hand combat, which was a problem because Surge did have brute strength. The younger man dodged and ducked and leapt back as the lieutenant attempted to land a punch or kick on him. Surge may have been strong, but he was slow as a Snorlax. Watching all of those wrestling matches on the couch and drinking beer did not help the man speedup his metabolism. That was something Volkner could use to his advantage.
But then something else struck him. He had something even more powerful than that - the almighty beer. Americans seemed to love beer as if it was a type of holy water, though Volkner thought the smell of it was putrid, and the lieutenant embraced everything that was from the big land. With the beer in Surge's room totaled, he decided to make full use of the fallen. "Dad !" he called again.
THWACK ! The fists missed Volkner's head by a second. Surge lowered his head and gave a puzzled look as he scratched his head. Volkner grinned, placing his hands behind his head rather childishly. Now he would enjoy every minute of this, the good, old-fashioned mental torture. "Have you had a cold one yet ?"
"'Course not ! It's still too early for my American ale ! ...uhh, how do you know about my American ale ? YOU'RE MESSING WITH MY HEAD !"
That last punch collided with Volkner's jaw. He tumbled to the side, suddenly feeling lightheaded and seeing spinning Pikachu. The blood came out somehow, probably from his mouth as he tasted salt, and he could feel the last week flashing through his eyes. The plane trip, Aaron's easy intimidation, Lucian's haughty airs, Flint's oblivion to everything, the glops of mashed beans that made up three meals a day...that stuff alone could make his head spin.
He felt himself take a fall to the ground. The jaw pain would subject him to eating mashed beans longer than he expected. While he clamped his mouth shut to keep it from bleeding, he could see other things go down. One of the lieutenant's assistants came dashing to the obstacle course, belting out everything to his officer in a frenzied panic. When that was done, Surge smashed his bloodied fist against the tree and turned a dark magenta. The man pounded against the tree a second time. "What do you mean there's beer leaking out of my room ?" he thundered. "What do you mean ? My beer is a hundred percent genuine good ol' ale ! It can't be leaking nowhere 'less I say it's leaking ! YOU DON'T TELL ME IT'S LEAKING, GODDAMMIT !"
"L-L-Lieutenant...ash, it's leaking."
Surge rushed toward the camp building. About halfway there he forgot about the obstacle course and fell into one of the potholes. Through his pain Volkner cracked a grin, along with his friends and the assistant. Beef and Smoke were also more than amused, pointing at their trainer with crooked stubs and howling in laughter. Volkner wondered how much loyalty his father had truly earned. The man was too arrogant for even his pokemon. Nevertheless, they did it. A little more pain than expected, but they did it.
"All right, honey, I want you to put that ice pack on your jaw every day for the rest of the week. No food that'll upset it. I'll try to get your father to pay for the hospital bills, but he was really made over his beer."
Nurse Joy took her hand off of Volkner's face and gave him a patient smile that only Nurse Joys could project. Volkner tried to smile back, but it came out crooked, a mixture from the swollen jaw and his own father's traits. He waved to his mother as she grabbed her hat and hurried off to the Pokemon Center. Even while Volkner was off from work, duty always called for a Nurse Joy. No fun time at the beach for her.
He yawned and draped the old towel over his arm as he headed outside and down to the beach. Kicking off his shoes, he felt the loose, hot sand upon his feet as he walked. There was always a great alternative to going off to a different region and wasting time trying to fight off your beefy lieutenant father. The lazier people had made up a word for this - the staycation. It wasn't the best term and always left a bitter taste in Volkner's mouth after saying it, but whatever worked. Besides, with his 'groupie' around, he could deal with anything.
Lounging in a folding chair, Candice was paging through a tactics book, still wearing that damn long-sleeve and having a sweater tied to her waist. Although she was tolerant of a lot of things, she'd never allow him to call her a groupie and keep his nose intact at the same time. Truth be told, she probably would've handled last week better than he or his loser friends. She could easily glare him down behind her eyeglasses, pouting because he had once again forgotten to ask Aaron if she could borrow his Mario game. Or something. "For someone who lives right by the beach, you sure look as pale as a Snover," she taunted.
"Sorry, sorry. I don't think Aaron's home anyway," Volkner apologized. "When I tried to call him yesterday, his voicemail said he was out of town. And I thought you hated the sun."
Candice snorted. "No. I hate the heat. I can't do my jogging in the mountains if I'm here. No need to worry, though, as a friend would say. If I like you enough to support your stupid dreams, then I'll be your Madonna."
"Madonna's not a rockstar- daow !"
She threw the book at him, making them both laugh. After the experience in Kanto, Volkner was very tense and swollen in the face. While the four friends went their separate ways, Candice volunteered herself to keep Volkner company as he adjusted to normal food and sleep. They had considered dishing out money so he could go to an actual rock and roll fantasy camp, but he had enough excitement for the year. All he needed now was his girl.
He crept over to her side and pecked her on the forehead. Grinning, Candice pressed her hands against the chair and moved over just slightly enough for him to share the space. As he sat down next to her, she grabbed his shoulders and headbutted him before kissing him back. Volkner felt a little dizzy but also glad. He tasted the breathmints, could feel the warmth of her hands, and the friction from their closeness. Making love never felt so down and dirty.
"Wooo, and down below us are Volkner and Candice ready to get down and dirty ! I encourage you to take flash photography to forever capture the sexy moments ! For every good picture you take, I will pay you five dollars !"
Volkner rolled into the sand and gasped as he looked up at the sky. Above them Flint waved a megaphone while he dangled from the safety bars of a helicopter. With him was Lucian, (a distraught) Aaron, and all of Volkner's closest neighbors with digital cameras and cellphones. Volkner felt his face grow hot not with passion but rage as he shook his fist in the air. "You idiot !" he hissed. "What the hell are you doing here ?"
"And of course Volkner would interrupt the sweaty moment with his half-Yankee blood !" Flint went on, ignoring Volkner. "I will still offer two bucks a picture if you can capture his rare angry side !"
Lucian shook his head and drank. Aaron covered his face with his hands, already looking a piggy pink himself. Volkner stood up and yelled again to no response. It was then that the passengers on the deck screamed in terror as the helicopter flipped upside-down, causing them to quickly go inside the chopper and shut the door. Flint almost dropped his megaphone as he, Aaron, and Lucian dangled from the safety bars. However, the afro-haired man still found a way to retain his annoying manner. "And now we are being driven upside-down by our crazy hammered pilot, Mr. Pilot Man !" he announced, laughing. "Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps this will now be the time for a wonderful adventure ! And may I say now that there will be no refunds !"
"YOU IDIOT !"
Before Volkner could react, Candice was on her feet and calling out her Abomasnow. The pokemon looked uncomfortable in the heat and so seemed to be ready to dish out a Hyper Beam at a moment's notice. As he was about to do so, however, Volkner leapt onto the pokemon's back and wrapped his arms around him. Candice pouted and crossed her arms, but Volkner shook his head, grinning. "I've got this, Candice. I'll make sure nothing blows up."
Volkner ruffled the top of the Abomasnow's head and pointed to the helicopter. It was then that Flint realized that he could be seriously injured and threw the megaphone at the group below them. That cocky grin still showed on his face as the helicopter continued to zoom forward in the same direction. Both men knew that a powerful attack by Candice's Abomasnow would cause the helicopter to crash and possibly lead to lawsuits. If Volkner was going to strike, it would have to be done carefully.
Then the helicopter suddenly landed a few feet away from the group. Next to it was a Bronzong, hovering proudly above the ground. Lucian stepped off of the deck and stomped past Volkner and Candice with the pokemon following him, a visible amber splotch across his shirt. Aaron and the other passengers climbed out of the chopper next, wanting to see what kind of action their tour guide would bring. Most of Sunyshore's citizens had already seen Candice's pokemon in action; they liked what they say.
Last came Flint, grinning sheepishly. Volkner and Abomasnow now shared the same look of wicked pleasure as the latter sent a boulder hurdling toward the enemy. Flint dodged and flashed the v victory sign. In a flash he was down to his boxers yet again, showing off his bony torso. Candice lowered her head and glanced at Volkner, blushing out of frustration. "You can chase after him, you know," she murmured, "without your shirt. It's starting to get hot."
"Naaa, you afraid to strip for your girlfriend ? You can't have a super-sexy cops-'n'-robbers chase around the beach with me, half-Yankee ?"
"Candice, quit your nosebleeding !"
Candice wiped her nose against her sleeve and nodded. Volkner tightened his grip on the Abomasnow, signaling him to chase after Flint. That was Flint's cue to start running, laughing like a maniac as he sprinted across the beach. He prompted Volkner to jump off of the pokemon's back and chase after him. There was no bargaining with the man this time. He wanted a super-sexy chase with a strong dose of injury ? Fine by Volkner. As far as he was concerned, this was just another adventure for him. A day in the life of a gym leader with the craziest loser friends a guy could have. Yet Volkner supposed he couldn't complain. The time spent at the boot camp made him realize that having adventures were still fun. It wasn't wrong to cut loose every once in a while, even with a swollen jaw. Life wasn't bad at all.
But they were still losers.