Diamond 37: Give me Enjoyment
Don't Give Me Diamonds
Diamond 37: Give me Enjoyment
Ash tapped his foot impatiently, the line of people was endless and it was barely moving. How long did it take to fill up an entry form and go inside the arena? Brock had gone off to chase girls a while ago and he still had not returned, not that he was missing anything. The sun was bright and the summer heat could really be felt, the crowds only made it worse.
Eventually the line moved until it was Ash's turn to fill up an entry form. The form was quite simple, it only asked for his name, postal address and a phone number or email address.
"You're not from Viridian City?" The green haired woman at the desk took Ash's entry form and added it to a pile. She kept the forms on two separate groups consisting of those from Viridian City and those from any other place. She didn't bother asking him for ID. Participants could call themselves whatever they wanted, some even entered with the funniest nicknames. If that young man wanted to call himself Ash Ketchum, he could.
"I'm not from this city, but the tournament is supposed to be open to everyone, right?" Ash had not really read the rules. He just saw the price money, location, date and time; that was all he needed to know. It was after years of attending pokemon tournaments that he learned to take care of making sure he got those details right, instead of simply rushing over to the nearest gathering of trainers as soon as he heard rumors of a tournament. He learned his lesson after being late to an important competition and not being allowed to battle.
It was obvious that not everyone who was entering the tournament was from Viridian City. The crowd was simply too large for a tournament that only included the locals, even if the city have a high population.
Viridian City had expanded greatly in the past few years, though there was still plenty of empty space between it and Pallet Town. It was easier to see the Viridian forest from the window in Ash's room at Delia's house. In most cases, expansions like those came with deforestation, but the mayor took care of making sure the forest surrounding the city expanded along with it. It was a project that was started years ago by the mayor, in anticipation of the expected growth of the population.
As part of the project many trees were planted along the forest borders extending it. Not only young trees were planted, those were few in comparison to the large trees that were transported there and replanted. Most of the trees originated from the unpopulated area north-east of Viridian City, before reaching Cerulean City. It was as if the city wanted to stay hidden behind the barrier of the forest and the pokemon that lived in it.
"Of course you can enter," the green haired woman confirmed, her brown eyes neutral. She was wearing a lime green business suit. The mayor picked out the color green to be used by those working with the public at the tournament, saying something about 'forest pride.' The bright color of her clothes was nothing like the dark, neutral green of her hair and she didn't like it. She also thought the oversized circular pin with the mayor's face on it was rather unpleasant. It was almost as ridiculous as the leaf shaped label displaying her name, Wendy.
Wendy looked at the young man's companion, a red haired woman, "do you need a form too?" She held one out, but the redhead didn't take it.
"No thanks," Misty replied with a polite smile, "I'm just here to watch."
"Aw, c'mon Misty, you should enter. We'll have double the chances of winning if you do," Ash encouraged her without thinking too much of his words. He had forgotten Misty's earlier reaction to when they talked. She was upset that he seemed to be after the cash price instead of after the challenge as he usually was. Furthermore, if Misty won, that would also throw Ash's plans out the window. He needed to get his hands on that price money himself if he was going to use it to get Misty a nicer engagement ring.
Misty's earlier feelings of disappointment resurfaced. She saw in Ash's eyes that he was still hiding something, but she had no clue what. "No, thanks," she voiced more firmly and without a smile.
Ash was not very good at telling when people were upset and more so why they were upset. He was creative, skilled and full of stubborn determination, yet being observant was a characteristic that rarely surfaced outside of battle. He assumed the long wait and the annoying summer heat, along with the noisy crowds were getting to Misty. He knew of no reason why she would be upset. He concluded that she was just cranky and that it wasn't his fault.
"We're having a preliminary elimination round because so many people showed up. Only the best fifty will move on to the tournament. You can think of this as the very beginning of the tournament if you wish. This area is just for the trainers, members of the audience should go through the front entrance. I'm sure the stadium is full by now, good luck finding a seat." Wendy's voice was neutral, bored and with a well hidden hint of annoyance. In contrast, she smiled radiantly; it made the difference between her tone and expression stand out more.
"I guess I'll see you later Misty," Ash was as carefree as ever and excited that he would battle right away.
Misty pouted as she used to do back when Ash was ten and too young and naive to realize he had upset her. She concluded that some things never changed, then walked away.
"Make sure to cheer for me!" Ash called out as Misty stomped her way past the crowd, "crowds and hot weather really get Misty all temperamental, don't they?" Ash commented to Pikachu, who was more aware of the situation than his trainer.
Ash went inside the battle area in the little stadium. It wasn't as grand as the Indigo Plateau and no where near as large, but it served its purpose. The Viridian stadium was used as a pokemon battle arena, a concert stage, basketball court or whatever the citizens felt like doing with it. The walls below the climbing rows of crowded benches were filled with windows and posters. The posters reminded everyone thanks to who the new local stadium was constructed, the mayor.
Similar events were held at the Viridian Gym in the past, before the stadium was built. But even after its renovations that included a larger battle arena, it was not constructed to hold too many spectators comfortably. As a result, most people used to gather at the park, where a big screen was set up showing the events taking place at the gym. It was fun, but it wasn't as exciting as when the crowd's cheers could actually be heard by the trainers.
The referee was a man wearing dark green pants and a white and lime green shirt with vertical stripes. He had light brown hair and green eyes in a different shade, intermediary between the shades of green in his pants and shirt. His name was Jango and he used to be an anchorman on the morning news years ago.
He had a younger sister named Ameda, who was a field reporter back when he was still an anchor. Rumors said that she got close to the producer and ultimately stole her brother's position. Thus she replaced him as the main anchor of the morning news. Other rumors theorized that Jango was fired due to his less than flattering remarks about Rune Antilles, the Viridian City mayor. Those remarks addressed Antilles' alleged involvement with the mafia.
To make it worse, Jango's comments were ill-timed as it was dangerously close to elections. Not long after his televised offense, Jango left the news and appeared in many events sponsored by the Viridian City mayor as part of his re-election campaign. Some said it was because the mafia threatened him into retracting from his comments and helping the mayor to prove his trust to the public.
After the mayor's reputation was saved, Jango knew he wouldn't be well received at the news station again. He had departed with a sudden resignation, in no liberty to give further explanations. He decided to make a career out of the job he did while repaying his 'debt'. There were many rumors in Viridian City but no one knew for sure if any of them were true, except maybe Laiki. She made everyone's business her own.
The preliminary battles were one on one. Ash chouse Pikachu and his opponent sent out a Goldeen. As Jango announced the start of the battle, Ash expected the Goldeen to be extraordinary beyond appearances. It reminded him of a surprisingly strong Bellsprout he faced long ago in the Indigo League championship. However, the water pokemon merely flopped around. Her trainer was a rather inexperienced looking teenage boy with dirty blond hair and yellow-green eyes. He had already commanded the Goldeen to use horn attack, but she ignored him.
"Be careful Pikachu," Ash whispered as he scrutinized the Goldeen. He couldn't see what was so special about her.
"Pika," Pikachu nodded, sharing Ash's focus.
Over his years as a pokemon trainer, Ash developed accurate senses to predict his opponents' moves. He could usually assert how powerful a pokemon really was, but with that Goldeen he drew a blank. His old self resurfaced and his patience was tested. His first move would be head on and if it brought consequences, he would make up for it afterwards. At least he would know what he was up against. Even if Goldeen let out a monstrosity of a counter attack, Ash trusted Pikachu to be strong and fast enough to deal with it. Then he could use that information to think of a good strategy, "Pikachu, thundershock!"
Sparks flew from Pikachu's red cheeks as the yellow electric pokemon released a powerful attack, "pikachu!" The attack hit Goldeen easily, instantly knocking her out. Even then, Pikachu stayed on his guard, as did Ash.
"Goldeen is unable to battle, Pikachu is the winner!" Jango announced.
"Return," the boy called Goldeen back into her pokeball and walked away grumbling about weak pokemon. After only a few steps he turned back and addressed Ash, "hey Ash-fan! You want this?"
"Huh?" Ash was astonished, not only by his beyond easy win, but by the boy's question and his way to refer to him as Ash-fan.
"This pokemon, do you want it?" The boy asked again, "I don't have time for a pet. I should have known a pokemon that gets caught so easily with a fishing rod wouldn't be strong. I only caught it for the tournament. I guess I was hoping to get my hands on the cash by a lucky twist of fate. I should have known it was impossible." He tossed the pokeball at Ash, "you keep it, set it free if you don't want it, I'm out of here. There are some pretty good food stalls out there I want to check out."
The boy started walking away so quickly that Ash barely had time to call out, "thanks for the Goldeen," before he disappeared into the crowd outside. Ash was still confused by the situation, but then thought he should have guessed not all those who entered the tournament would be pokemon trainers. With a cash price on the line, just about anyone would feel motivated to enter; even if they had to catch a pokemon last minute. People were allowed to enter as long as they had at least one pokemon. The rules were tolerant since it wasn't an official Pokemon League tournament.
"That's all for now, you can go to the waiting room. If the place keeps filling up, we might have to extend the preliminary round. You can rest for now," Jango pointed towards a door connected to the arena. It was open and Ash could see a lobby inside with predominant shades of green. The trainers who had gone past the preliminary rounds were inside.
"Can I battle more?" Ash inquired hopefully, he didn't even get a warm up out of his last battle. Maybe next time he would battle a real trainer.
"Suit yourself, but are you sure you want to tire out your pokemon? Unless you have enough to switch your entire team, it's not against the rules to do that between battles." Jango looked at the Pikachu, who appeared to be as energetic as he could get. "Wait a minute I know who you are. You won the Indigo League championship the year before last. I saw it on TV; you're the real Ash! Where were you last year?"
"Yeah, it's me, last year I... um... overslept," Ash sheepishly replied, "I was late and they didn't let me enter," he had been very upset about it. They insisted that they would not bend the rules, not even for the past champion.
Misty had tried to wake Ash, but he had stayed up all night catching up with Ritchie whom he had not seen in years. Ritchie had been absent from the previous tournament in which Ash won. During their reunion he mentioned that seeing Ash on TV made him want to enter the Indigo League again. Ash ended up missing the competition, which Ritchie won, despite looking tired during his first battle. After his victory, Ritchie expressed that he really would have liked to battle Ash in the championship.
"I made a promise!" Ash loudly declared, "I promised Ritchie that I would battle him in this year's Indigo League championship. No matter what, I will not oversleep!" Laughter and amazement surged through the crowd.
"I'm looking forward to that battle!" Jango decided that it would be interesting to see a real champion battle more. "You can battle as long as you want. You can stop any time since you already passed the preliminary round. Show us what you can do!"
"Thanks!" Ash was as excited as he would get as a little boy.
The crowd of spectators began to cheer his name, "Ash! Ash! Ash!" At first people assumed he was just a look-alike fan of Ash. They doubted a champion would participate in a relatively small, non-official tournament.
"Did you hear that?" One of the trainers in the lobby next to the arena looked out the window. Ash was battling trainer after trainer as the crowd cheered his name. "That guy's the real Ash."
"There's no way I could beat him," a different trainer commented.
"Man, this sucks, here I thought I had a shot at the cash," another participant grumbled.
Misty had miraculously found a spot near the front to squeeze into. The man next to her scooted over to make room for the pretty redhead. Misty had thanked him with neutral politeness and sat down. He might have sent her away saying there was no room, if he knew that her boyfriend was the show off in the arena.
xoxox xox xoxox
A while later, Comet arrived at the lobby; he changed and was wearing a lime green waiter uniform. He carried a large tray of cheese and ham appetizers on decorated toothpicks with tiny green ribbons at the end. He set the tray down on the table in the center of the lobby which served as the waiting room. Curious about the commotion, he went out to see what had captured everyone's attention.
Jango was too excited watching a champion in action to notice that many of the participants were leaving. Taking notice of that, Comet quietly snuck over to Jango. The referee announced the end of another match, just before Comet discretely whispered to him, "we're going to run out of trainers for the tournament if this keeps up. Don't you see that a lot of them are leaving because they know they can't win?" The real trainers would stay for the challenge, but those interested only in the price had no business there anymore.
If the tournament started with less participants than it was planned, it would bring more criticism to the improvised elimination round. To prevent that, Jango stopped Ash's sequential battles. The remaining participants were called into the arena's lobby to wait for the official tournament to begin. Before going to the lobby, Ash looked through the crowd until he spotted a pouting Misty. He waved at her, but she didn't wave back. 'What's her problem?' Ash thought. 'Is the heat, crowd and noise really bothering her this much?'
At the lobby, Ash petted Pikachu, "you did really well out there." His main pokemon was only in the first few battles. Ash had learned not to push his luck too much over the years. He had his other pokemon take turns battling. He was still seen as being cocky, but in his way, he was cautious.
Switching pokemon was allowed at any point of the tournament outside of battle. A trainer could change the six pokemon he or she initially started with to prepare for the next round. The committee that organized the event thought that more people would be encouraged to participate if they thought they could create the perfect team to win. Of course, all the other contestants would be trying to do the same.
"Take this time to rest Pikachu. I know those battles were easy, but that wasn't the real tournament. We have to stay on our guard, save your strength for the end." Ash looked at the line of PCs at the lobby and sat down in front of one as soon as it became unoccupied. A lot of people were making last minute changes to their team. Some were even borrowing pokemon from friends, which was not against the rules.
The real trainers were few and most of the people there were only after the price. Many only kept pokemon as pets and didn't have enough in their collection to keep switching them for each round. Nor did they have truly significant battle experience. However, Ash would have to face those few real trainers eventually and he might get a some surprises.
The tournament was advertised mostly in Viridian City, as it was the people of that city who could keep the mayor in office. Nonetheless, it was open to the general public as part of the strategy of showing how great Viridian City's pokemon trainers were. The strategy was to create the illusion that they were being openly compared to the rest of Kanto through the tournament, while making sure Viridian had the best odds to win.
In reality, the advertisement didn't reach too far from Viridian City. Ash heard of the tournament because he was looking for competitions to enter. The crowd, other than the locals, mostly came from Pewter City. Yet the multitude on the street and the new faces, gave the tournament the impression of including all of Kanto.
To be Continued
There will be more about Delia and Giovanni in the next chapter! Wendy is from the episode "Dues and Don'ts" she joined Team Rocket around the same time Jessie did. Jango is not an important character, he would be on the same level as a 'character of the day' in the anime. In case you don't remember him, he appears in Diamond 32 when Delia is watching the news on TV. Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon.