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by FrouFrou

FrouFrou In which a bunch of Pokemon have an underwater cagefight. To the death, obviously.
Okay, so underwater fights officially suck.

That doesn't make sense, at first. It's supposed to be amazing; logic says it should. Underwater, there's no screaming crowd. On paper, that should mean less distractions, so a far better focus - definitely something that appealed. You imagined that your concentration would be at some Buddhist level, this perfect meditation, your opponents slowly drifting about you.

And hey - it was like that. You were a True Vaporeon, In Your Element, At Peace With The World, Et Cetera, Et Cetera. For two whole seconds, and then the starting gun went off in the water, and everything kind of went to shit. I mean, how the hell are you supposed to stay calm when your opponent could come from behind - from under, from above - with no warning whatsoever? How the hell are you supposed to think about careful punches and precise kicks when hey, you have a limited amount of oxygen, regardless of whether or not you're being choked?

The textbooks disagree, of course - but basically, you don't. No-one does that, actually. Thrash, bite, claw, strangle; anything to stay alive a few more seconds in the battle royale. You can see every last wound you've inflicted and taken, or at least there's red mist in the water, churned into pink foam when the fight really gets going. Sometimes, you accidentally wind up inhaling it in your struggles, and the coppery taste reminds you that (a) this is fucking barbaric who would even do this holy shit you guys, and (b) everything hurts like hell. There's no breaks like in the regular fights; structured rounds, carefully scored, as much a game of numbers as it is a game of strength. No, for whatever reason the good people in charge just dump four of you in a tank, and you fight until you pass out.

Surviving here is one long guessing game: Hold your breath, pick a direction, and swim into the murky depths. Try not to shriek too loudly when you move your bitten tail, and definitely don't look at it. Stay way from the cold salvation of the surface. It might well be mere inches from your gaping jaws, but it's a perpetual war zone. Swim fast. If you're lucky, you'll strike either your opponent, or some sanctuary of an air pocket.

... But of course, if you're unlucky, jaws or claws will strike you first. From any direction. With absolutely no warning whatsoever. And if you're really unlucky -

Someone died last year- right there!

-oh my god, why the hell did they stick a Gyrados in your fucking heat? This is your first time in any tournament - or any fight, ever! It's not fair! You wail some kind of protest, which would work just great if you were in the arena - but down here it's muffled by mocking water. Blood runs into your mouth, (a) and (b) surge, with a cameo from (c) - I'm gonna die - and you're flailing to get the hell back. She rushes past, this giant train of scales and blood and murder, mouth agape in search of prey. She's hurt, you realize, trailing red from her sides and fins, but nowhere near hurt enough for a tiny Vaporeon like you to take her on. Hell, you probably couldn't take her on if she was beached and suffering a concussion. She's huge, she's powerful, and if she hits you - god, if she hits you! A sudden turn left, and you'll break every bone in your body, you'll be out of the contest, forget both those things because you'll most likely die-

It's a miss.

Thank heavens for her poor eyesight, not that it helped Scott much last year. Swallowed whole, that guy. You saw it in person, not just high-definition. You were in the stands, and you glanced up from your A-grade Biggles adventure (Biggles Sweeps the Desert, for the record) when the screaming started. God, that Dewgong must have jumped thirty feet, and the Gyrados got him mid-air! Not that could ever have happened to you, of course, which is why you entered the very next year. I mean, even if you did end up fighting one, you could always hide. You're a Vaporeon; small enough to not get spotted in the chaos, just about made for hiding. One of the others in your heat would take the creature on for you - maybe even two of them at once, since there's four in this competition - and then you could just come out when it was all over. Not just textbook-supported, but easy!

Somewhere in the distance, or maybe closer than you think (the blood does make it hard to tell), the body of a Feraligatr - maybe dead, maybe alive - floats towards the light. A Milotic tangles around his waist like some sort of sick chain, neck caught in his mouth. She must have squeezed the life out of him, even as he crushed it out of her. Hopefully neither's dead, but the image is horrifying all the same. You know what it means. Comradeship - or alternatively, your brilliant idea of waiting for others to do your dirty work - is dead. It's just her and you now.

Good job, buddy. Fantastic. Wonderful.

You're gonna die.

But there's no time for sarcasm - you have to move, because the Gyrados makes a second attempt, and you seriously don't want to be caught. You swim futilely, wondering if you should go to the surface. Does that rule really, truly matter? Does anything matter anymore? Your lungs are burning, and it's not like you can hide from this thing. She knows where you are, she can smell your blood in the water, you are officially doomed and oh shit oh shit oh shit she's rushing up from underneath, you've got no choice but to go up. You don't even care about how your tail's just about off - you kick hard. Her jaws are mercifully closed, but her body works in a spiral, this hypnotic torpedo with death front and center. You've seen her do it before - takes a little while to get started, but before long, she'll be much faster than you. That's when she'll catch you, and it'll be Scott all over again, only even less impressive, a few bubbles all you leave behind. The audience might not even notice it until well afterwards. You have to get above the water before she does, if only so you can charge forwards while she goes straight up.

A few seconds of life. That's all you can ask for? Pathetic. A little more time, and then what? More hiding? You'll just get eaten anyway. You'll just die anyway. Humanly, you have no hope whatsoever.

She lunges. You hear it, feel it, live it, this roar that shakes the water hard enough to nearly throw you off course, and you're not human anymore. You never were, not since you lost your paperwork job, turned into some sort of dog-mermaid-thing, and started trying to beat up other fantastical creatures for funsies. You thrash; you bite; you claw; everything thrown into one savage, last-ditch struggle. You're an animal, and as shameful as it is, that's what saves you.

A few blessed, blessed seconds.

The clear, glorious, freezing cold, the light, oh the light - the crowd in your ears and air in your lungs. Life is back with a vengeance, and when you look down, the beast's dropping away below. You catch your doubts in its throat, tail in its mouth. Like one of those snakes eating its own, except that heeeeey, that tail's your tail. That's yours, twitching and blue and an awfully long way down and yes, no, definitely don't look at it.

You might as well just die already. You'll never swim again - if you even survive this.

Who cares? You're flying, and it's totally magnificent, and you're free. This is your moment. This one, right here. It's every movie ever. The crowd is screaming your name. They'll remember this forever, if you just end it right.

This - this is what everyone wants.
Isn't this what you wanted?​

There's no time for the stupid back and forth. No time to think. She tried to eat you; she's got your tail; she's got it coming.

"Giga Impact!"

Your voice rings like a shotgun. You are the master, and you choose to win, so you do. You take your freedom, ball it up, and plunge, screaming all the way just because you can, and because the baying of a bunch of drunks hungry for blood seems like screaming at the time. Who could blame you for joining in? You're caught up in the moment, and everyone's caught up in you. A hundred cameras trace your fall, your dive, your attack- down you go, slicing through the misty air, the bloody foam, your impact recorded from every angle.

She never saw it coming.
Merciless Medic and Keleri like this.