The cat glanced up from his needlework and raised an eyebrow at the eevee who was staring at a League match on the computer screen.
“I want to do the Kanto Gym Challenge.”
Mewtwo’s needles stilled and he looked thoughtful before nodding.
“We can do that.”
Sasha blinked in surprise. “Wait, seriously?”
Mewtwo grinned. “Of course. You’re hardly the first pokémon who wanted to take the challenge and you’re definitely not the first to be doing it themselves.”
Sasha tilted her head. “I was expecting more resistance from you. Ya know, Mr. Seclusion and all that?”
Mewtwo waved a hand. “I’ve gotten used to it.”
Sasha rolled her eyes and glanced back at the screen. “So…um…how do we register?”
With a wave of his hand, Mewtwo sent the keys on the computer typing away, navigating to the League homepage and filled out the forms.
Sasha checked them all carefully and nodded before Mewtwo sent it off.
Not five minutes later, they received the notice that the League tournament was being held in several moths’ time. Trainers who missed the deadline wouldn’t have to earn their badges again, but they’d have to wait until the next tournament to participate.
“Well then, shall we start? I have the perfect gym in mind to start,” Mewtwo replied, tucking his work away.
Sasha’s head whirled from the sheer speed that everything had progressed at and she leaped into his arms as they teleported.
They reappeared in front of a set of sliding doors. Sasha glanced up at the building and read the sign.
“It’s one of the easier gyms of the region. The leader is a good friend of a friend of mine and he uses the Rock type,” Mewtwo said, heading inside.
Sasha wrinkled her nose. “Ah, I can see why it’d be an easier gym. Good place to learn the basics of battling, since it takes a lot to take down a rock type, so you can get some practice in.”
The receptionist didn’t even bat an eye at the sight of a legendary-level pokémon strolling through the doors and simply asked if they were there for a challenge.
A few minutes later and they were waved through.
Brock stood on one side of the gym arena.
Mewtwo and Sasha stood on the other.
"Last chance to back out," Mewtwo told Sasha, who shook her head, stepping forward.
“Hold on,” Mewtwo said, causing Sasha to pause and look at him curiously. “Would you like me to hold your scarf?”
Sasha nodded and the psychic untied the fabric. Sasha stretched and took a breath before stepping onto the rocky field.
Brock fingered a pokéball, waiting for them patiently. He'd seen many trainers hesitate to even start the gym challenge and most gave up partway through. He smiled as the shiny eevee took her place on the battlefield.
"Alright, since I'm your first real gym leader, I'm going to take it easy on you."
Sasha bristled and she blinked as she felt Mewtwo's voice resonate in her mind.
"Relax, this challenge isn't going to be like the ones you've seen. Remember, it's just you out here. No one else is going to win the badge for you." She felt his mental presence shift uncomfortably before he added, "You could always ask for a harder challenge, but...let's just take things one step at a time, alright?"
"Geodude, let's have a gneiss battle!" Brock called, throwing the red and white sphere into the air, which burst open, revealing the armed sphere.
"...I'm not even going to tell you how bad that was," the geodude sighed. Taking notice of Sasha, it raised its rocky brows. "Who's the idiot who brought a normal type to a rock gym?"
Mewtwo coughed. Geodude did a double-take.
"Oh, hunh. So it's like that Raikou from way back when?"
"Correct. We're battling someone who basically has no badges, so...try not to pull an Ash, alright?" Brock said with a chuckle.
"That was...hm, a decade or more at this point, right?" the geodude mused, digging up a rock and hurling it at a thoroughly confused eevee.
"I feel so out of the loop," she complained, dodging the stone by leaping over it and fired off a series of star-shaped projectiles from her tail, which pinged uselessly off the rock type, who hurled mud at her, knocking her out of the air.
Sasha got to her paws, shaking her head and wincing as she blinked rapidly, letting her eyes water and clear out the obstruction.
Geodude used the distraction to hurl smaller rocks at her, causing her to slip and fall.
"Any pointers would be helpful, you know," she grumbled at Mewtwo, who was watching the lopsided battle in amusement.
"You could always go umbree and use Metronome," he said. Sasha frowned.
"I'd rather not have to rely on that to win my battles," Sasha replied, doing a rapid spin to clear the rocks away from her. Shaking herself, her body glowed pink as she ran at the geodude. "So, let's try...this!" The rock/ground type crossed its arms as she rammed into it. The impact released the pink aura from her body, knocking the geodude back. Geodude recovered swiftly and shook its head, squinting.
"Secret Power, with the added bonus of reducing accuracy based on the rocky terrain. Not bad," Brock said approvingly. "Magnitude!"
Sasha's eyes went wide as the geodude slammed its hands on the ground, which erupted beneath her paws. Leaping over the cracks, Sasha landed on a large piece of the floor and fired off another Swift, which again pinged off the geodude's exterior.
"What I wouldn't give for elemental Swifts or something," Sasha growled.
"If it helps, they tickle a little bit," the geodude offered. Sasha blinked in surprise before she giggled.
"Alright, so you're a rock and ground type, so your physical defense is ridiculous. So that leaves moves that aren't physical...like..."
Sasha opened her mouth as a purple and black orb grew into existence in front of her face. It then grew to the size of her head and she fired it at the geodude who went flying backwards to slam into the wall.
Brock let out a low whistle. "That's quite a punch for someone so small...although, to be fair, I've raised a Happiny that could lift boulders, so..."
Shaking his head, he recalled his pokémon. "Usually, I'd send out my onix right about now, but since this is your first gym battle and your challenge isn't exactly normal..."
Mewtwo walked across the field, scooping Sasha up along the way as they approached Brock, who held out his hand.
"The Boulder Badge."
Mewtwo took the metal rock-shaped emblem and let Sasha examine it before he pinned it to her scarf and tied it around her neck.
"I'll call Misty and let her know to clear up her schedule. Any idea when you'll be heading to Cerulean?" Brock asked.
Mewtwo and Sasha exchanged a look.
"Three days?" Sasha suggested. Mewtwo nodded and Brock waved as they left the gym.
Sasha sat on the edge of the Cerulean Gym pool, staring warily at the small platforms scattered across the surface of the enclosed body of water.
"So not only am I battling a water type, they also have the home field advantage. Great," she muttered.
"Not all gym battles will be in your favor. Although yes, I do agree this is a little...excessive," Mewtwo replied, watching as a redheaded woman wearing a simple white jacket over a white and blue swimsuit walked out of a door on the opposite side of the pool. "Either way, your second battle is about to begin."
"Heya, Mewtwo," the girl called. "And the other one must be Sasha then. Welcome to Cerulean Gym. My name is Misty and your opponent will be..."
The water rippled and a giant form shot out of the water with a roar.
Sasha backpedaled furiously, eyes wide in horror. "A...a...that's a gyarados! Is she insane?! That's not even remotely fair!"
Misty chuckled. "No, don't worry, I don't use her for newbies. Vaporeon, stop scaring the poor thing and come on out!"
The gyarados dissolved into a shower of droplets to reveal the fish-themed eeveelution who grinned at Sasha. Mewtwo blinked in interest.
"Using water's light-bending properties to create illusions? Interesting."
Sasha willed her beating heart to still as she recovered. "That's a little better. Still not really a fan of the battlefield, but I guess I'll make do."
She leaped onto one of the platforms and wasn't surprised to find the surface slick.
"Any time you're ready," Misty said.
Sasha watched the vaporeon swim around her platform and frowned. She'd have to aim her attacks a little differently due to refraction. She fired off a Swift that surrounded the water type who didn't seem perturbed by the proximity of the star-shaped projectiles.
Sasha's frown deepened as the vaporeon shot her a cheeky grin and melted out of view, avoiding the attack.
"This is going to be much trickier," Sasha sighed. Her body glowed a bright golden yellow as her eyes blazed orange. A beam of energy shot up and hit the windows spaced throughout the ceiling.
Almost immediately, the temperature in the room rose dramatically.
"Sunny Day?" Misty grimaced. "Vaporeon, cool her off with Aurora Beam!"
Sasha looked at the water warily. The downside of the platforms was that her natural agility was hampered. She could jump from one to another, sure, but she'd be an open target in midair and while over the water.
"Boo," came a voice from behind her, shortly followed by a blast of cold.
Sasha was glad the vaporeon couldn't see her grin and her body briefly glowed white before dozens of eevee suddenly leaped from the platform, scattering in all directions.
Thanks to Sunny Day, the Aurora Beam wasn't nearly as powerful as it could've been. Sasha shook herself, thankful for the brief cooldown. She then watched the vaporeon's movements carefully as it swam around.
"Alright, vaporeon, let's get rid of this heat and those distractions. Hail!" Misty called.
A pair of glowing eyes flashed before dark clouds obscured the windows and the temperature plummeted. Sasha flicked her ears as hail bounced off her body.
"And here comes..." she muttered.
Sasha braced herself as the blast of cold air slammed into her. Unfortunately, the slick surface of the platform iced over almost instantly and she fell into the water.
Mewtwo's eyed widened fractionally and he kept a careful tab on Sasha's aura signature, ready to teleport her if the need arose. At the same time, he idly took notice of a few people who had trickled in. Whether to watch the battle or challenge the gym next, he wasn’t sure and he paid them no mind.
Sasha opened her eyes and blinked a few times. Thanks to the hail clouds, the water was much darker than usual. She hated to admit it, but she was out of her depth here and she only saw one possible course of action.
Tapping into the power sleeping in her, her body began to glow.
Mewtwo was starting to worry. Sasha had been under far too long, yet her heartbeat had remained calm. “Sasha?”
The surface of the pool started to bubble furiously and Misty’s eyes went wide as two forms shot out of the water.
Her vaporeon landed hard on a platform, out cold while a white-furred, blue ringed umbreon landed gracefully on another and shook itself.
“What?” Misty asked blankly. Mewtwo wasn’t entirely sure what had happened himself.
“Sasha?” he asked. “What happened?”
The umbreon shook her head. “Metronome. Not entirely sure what move that was. Only that it got very hot very quickly. I do feel rather tired though.”
Misty recalled her vaporeon and walked over to Mewtwo and Sasha. Shaking her head, she chuckled ruefully.
“All these years later and I still manage to get surprised by new battle tactics. Well, either way, here’s the Cascade Badge,” she said, holding out the tear-shaped emblem, which Mewtwo took and pinned beside the Boulder Badge on Sasha’s scarf before tying it around her neck again.
“Thank you for the battle,” Sasha said, dipping her head. “Sorry about vaporeon. Hope I didn’t hurt her too badly.”
“She’s been through worse,” Misty said. “I’ll let her know you were asking about her.”
Sasha raised her eyebrows and Misty grinned at her.
Mewtwo’s attention was focused on the people who had watched the battle. They were now absorbed in their various handhelds, no doubt talking about the battle.
“Here we go,” he murmured. Sasha flicked her ears and looked at him questioningly. He nodded towards the bleachers and Sasha nodded, her mouth a thin line.
“Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later,” she said with a resigned shrug. “No sense in worrying about it. Now then, shall we depart?”