Lisa followed Lorelei out then headed back to the Comfort Inn while Lorelei made her way to a parking lot. Back in her room, the young trainer took a quick shower. After getting clean, Lisa put her nightgown on and settled in the room’s comfortable king-sized bed.
The next morning, Lisa got dressed up early. She wore a red blouse, over which she wore a black suit jacket, a matching skirt, a pair of sheer pantyhose, and her other black dress shoes, these ones without open toes. Instead of her white hat, she tied her hair back with a purple scrunchy. She left her Pokémon with some food she had picked up, then headed to the lobby. After picking up a couple bagels and some juice in the lobby’s breakfast bar, she proceeded to the university’s math building, a facility so new, it hadn’t been named after any alumni yet.
A woman at a desk spoke up. “Are you here for the Calculus Challenge? We are still accepting participants.”
“Yes, thank you.” After registering, Lisa headed into the auditorium for a morning of heated math competitions.
A man in his early twenties sat down next to Lisa in the building’s auditorium. The man wore a long white lab coat and blue jeans. It was clear to Lisa that he had not showered in some time. Upon seeing Lisa and her name tag, he scoffed and snorted. “Well, Miss Lisa,” he said mockingly, “don’t you think you’re a little young to be here? Why don’t you try the baby math league; it may be more your speed. I guarantee that after the first round, you’ll be outta here!”
“Don’t write equations your brain can’t solve, pal. I’m not one to be taken lightly,” she retorted.
“Just don’t be shocked when you don’t do as well as you thought you would,” the geek snickered.
The host, distinguished mathematician Dr. Murray Thomson, addressed the group. “Welcome to the 45th annual Fourtix University Calculus Challenge. Despite the name, we will be testing you on a variety of mathematics topics. This is a very special year for us since this is our first tournament to be held in this beautiful, brand new facility! This also allows us to utilize technology like we could not before. Without further ado, let us begin Round One! Twenty questions, one hour to finish, no partial credit. Any contestant with a zero score at the end of this round will be eliminated. Now, begin!”
These were twenty problems of fairly high difficulty, and the absence of partial credit made this round especially difficult. The first round was specifically designed to weed out the weak. Lisa managed to get eighteen of the twenty questions correct.
After time was called, the smug nerd whispered to Lisa, “Don’t get too mad now. Remember, you’re just a baby.”
Dr. Thomson returned to the podium to announce the top scores. “Your scores will be appearing on the monitor in front of you. The mean score was 4.76. The standings, as of now, are as follows: Tied for first place, with twenty points each, are Jon Lowe and Geoff Richards. Tied for third, with nineteen points each, are Yuriko Sakura and Albert Dobson. And in fifth place, with eighteen points, is our youngest entrant, Lisa Northwood.”
With a smug smirk, Lisa turned to her adversary. “You know what, I do need to step up my game. I’m only fifth out of, let’s see, about 450 people. I’m very disappointed in myself. Oh, hey, what’s that red “X” on your monitor mean?”
“Damn!” the nerd cursed before marching out of the room along with about half of the contestants.
Dr. Thomson announced, “Now that we have completed the elimination round, we shall proceed. Begin Round Two! Please read the question on your monitor and answer accordingly. You only have thirty seconds to answer each question.”
Round two consisted of rapid-fire multiple choice questions, one hundred in all. Each question was worth a single point. Lisa was the sole participant to earn a perfect score in the appropriately-titled, “Lightning Round.”
“At the end of round two, Jon Lowe is in first with 119 points. Tied for second, with 118 points each, are Yuriko Sakura and Lisa Northwood. Geoff Richards is fourth with 115 points and Allison Johnson is in fifth with 107 points.”
Round three only had five questions, but were complex multi-step problems worth ten points each. But Lisa managed to receive a perfect score yet again, the only competitor to do so.
“After round three, Jon Lowe and Lisa Northwood are the leaders with 168 points each. Yuriko Sakura and Allison Johnson are tied for third with 156 points, and Lawrence Winston is in fifth with 138 points.”
Round four was the most challenging, being the final round. There were only four questions, but each was extremely complicated and was worth twenty points each. Nobody got a perfect score. Lisa came closest, earning seventy-nine points out of eighty.
“Round four is done! Final results are… Fifth is Lawrence Winston with 209 points. Fourth is Allison Johnson with 222 points. Third is Yuriko Sakura with 229 points. Second is Jon Lowe, last year’s champion, with 236 points. And the winner, with 247 points, is our youngest entrant, Lisa Northwood!”
The crowd erupted in cheers as Lisa and the rest of the top performers headed up to the stage to accept their awards.
At about 2:00 PM, Lisa emerged with two trophies in her hands. One read, “2006 Fourtix University Calculus Challenge Champion” and the other one read, “2006 Pi Recitation Champion.” Several other people chatted with Lisa about her victory, including the rest of the top five contestants. Jon was especially impressed with Lisa’s performance, commenting that, “It takes a smart person to outwit me, but it takes somebody truly incredible to outwit me at your age.” Once the action had died down, Lisa headed to the post office and had them send her trophies back to her parents in South Carolina so they wouldn’t weigh her down during her trip. Then she returned to the hotel, gathered up her Pokémon, and proceeded to the stone building at the outskirts of town.
Just as she suspected, this was the town’s gym. The massive gray doors opened and out walked Alexis, the girl she had met in the forest. Clad in a pink sundress, she greeted Lisa with a friendly wave.
“Lisa, what’s up? You’re all dressed up. You going for a job interview?”
“No, I’m going for a badge. Did you already earn yours?”
“Yup, but it was a tough fight, that’s for sure. This guy’s good. You better be on your toes. Well, I’m headed off to get my team rested. Good luck!”
“Thanks, and bye! I’ll see you soon!”
Another person emerged in the doorway. A large, rotund man in hiking gear greeted Lisa.
“Welcome to the Bluefield City Pokémon Gym. I am Dirk, the assistant and match officiator here. Our gym leader has just lost a match today to that girl who just left. He will not lose again today. Challenge him if you dare.” The mountain man gave Lisa a sly smirk.
“Fine, bring it on,” responded a determined Lisa.
Dirk led Lisa into the gym. A man emerged from a back room. He was an older man, with graying hair. He wore gray cargo pants, a gray T-shirt, and a gray unzipped hoodie. Though not especially tall, the man still had an air of power and prestige.
“Greetings, I am Roy, the local gym leader. I believe in the awesome power and endurance of the Rock type. It allows us to endure strong attacks and remain in battle for the long haul. You better be ready for a long battle, but even more importantly, your bonds with your Pokémon must be as hard as a rock. Wait, does that sound too much like a Chevy Truck commercial?”
“No, not at all. They haven’t used ‘Like A Rock’ in years.”
“Okay, we should probably get started.”
Dirk announced, “Battle for the Bluefield City Pebble Badge between gym Leader Dirk and Lisa Northwood from...”
Lisa whispered in his ear.
“...oh, yes, from Anderson, South Carolina. This will be a one-on-one battle. Both trainers will use three Pokémon. The Gym Leader cannot substitute Pokémon, but the challenger may. Begin!”
“Go, Geodude!” Roy summoned a gray rock-like Pokémon with two jagged arms. It greeted the challengers by calling out, “Duuuuude!” in a low-pitched voice. The surface of the Pokémon’s body was not smooth at all, and it looked like pieces of its body had been chipped off in previous skirmishes. Forming fists with its arms, Geodude performed several quick punches into the air to pump itself up.
“Geodude: The Rock Pokémon. Geodude conceal themselves in rocky caves and either roll or use their arms to move.”
Lisa grabbed a Pokéball from a pocket in her suit jacket. “This is it...battle for the first badge!” Lisa stared her opponent down.
“I’ll start off with my Spheal. Let’s get started!”
Lisa called forth a light blue spherical Pokémon. “Spheal: The Ball Roll Pokémon. Spheal uses its round body to roll and move on slippery ice. It can roll quickly but has little control over its path. Spheal can use Rollout, Water Gun, and Ice Ball.”
Spheal smiled and happily barked as it showed off some of
its rolling abilities. It looked up at its trainer, seemingly awaiting a
After some thought, the girl said, “Okay, we’ll begin with a Water Gun!”
Spheal launched a stream of water at Geodude, but it ducked behind a stationary rock and deflected the strike.
“Now, Rock Throw!”
“Duuuude!” Geodude started picking up rocks and heaving them at Spheal. One struck Spheal at an angle that sent it rolling. Spheal started to roll uncontrollably around the field, crashing into rocks and walls. The small Pokémon cried out in pain after each of its hard contacts with a rock.
“Oh, no! What do I do now?” Her eyes trying to follow her runaway Pokémon, Lisa frantically thought of a way to get Spheal to stop its uncontrollable rolling.
After a few more impacts, Spheal came to a stop. It wasn’t going to move anywhere now, after all of those hard impacts. Lisa was already down one Pokémon and Geodude hardly broke a sweat. This fact did not sit well with the fidgety girl.
“Spheal is unable to battle. Geodude wins this round,” Dirk announced in a very frank tone.
“Nidorino, you’re up!” Lisa sent out the purple Pokémon with the large poisonous horn on his head. The creature stood on his four feet, but made no sounds or movement. His eyes wandered, not focusing on either the girl, the middle-aged Gym Leader, or his Geodude. Lisa called out, “Use Double Kick!”
Instead, he just stood there, refusing to face his trainer.
“No! Please, attack!” Lisa pleaded with her disobedient Pokémon to strike.
“Haha! Now, Geodude, Magnitude!”
“Geo!” The rocky Pokémon slammed both its fists on the ground, sending massive tremors that spread out in a circular pattern. The powerful attack shook the entire gym, knocking both Nidorino and Lisa down.
“Owwww......” Lisa clutched her head and tried to get back up.
“Give it another one!”
Another tremor shook the arena before either Lisa or Nidorino could get up. Lisa eventually struggled to her feet but Nidorino was unable to.
“Nidorino is unable to battle.”
“Meowth, you’re my last hope. Please, try your best!” Lisa pleaded, almost in tears.
“Now, finish this battle with Rock Throw!”
As rocks came in toward Meowth, she used them as stepping stones, then fired a powerful Water Pulse at Geodude, scoring a direct hit. Geodude emerged still conscious, but ended up ramming into several stones by itself, completely lost in confusion. Meowth hit the small rocky creature with another shot of brilliant blue liquid then just sat back and watched her foe batter itself until Geodude collapsed out of exhaustion.
“Geodude is unable to battle. Meowth wins.”
“Wow… I can’t believe it finally went down… but what’s next?”
“Now I’ll show you my true power. Onix, go! Bind it!”
A huge black snake made completely of rock emerged. The massive Pokémon towered over Meowth and let out a loud roar. Meowth took a couple steps backward. So did Lisa.
“Whoa... it’s huge!” Lisa looked with awe at her towering opponent.
Onix quickly started putting the squeeze on Meowth, encircling her with its long, serpentine body.
Now nervous and ripping holes in her pantyhose, the girl had no idea what to do. “Oh, no! Try to break free!” Lisa sputtered frantically as she tried to think of a way to salvage this match.
Meowth attempted to spray a Water Pulse at Onix, but the huge rock snake just twisted around so that Meowth only struck the ground. As its grip tightened, Meowth was visibly in pain and getting weaker by the second.
“Stop the match," Lisa cried. "I...I forfeit...” she said, falling to her knees.
“The challenger has forfeited the match. Onix and Gym Leader Roy are the winners.”
“Good job, Onix!” Roy recalled it.
“I’m so sorry, Meowth... You did your best...” Lisa called back her injured Pokémon.
Roy went over to Lisa as she finally stood up. “Listen, Lisa, I know you’re feeling down about this, but don’t give up. I’ve seen too many trainers who have given up their training after losing to me. I suppose that’s one of the breaks of being the first gym in line.”
“No, but you’re right... I can’t give up... I made promises to myself and to the Pokémon League...” Lisa said, clearly exhausted.
“Perhaps it was unfair of me to battle you today. You’re clearly wiped out from battling Team Thrash at their camp and at the university. I was informed by the Pokémon League of your recent victories. And I am sure you can battle much better than you did today with proper rest. I wish to battle you again when you are rested and at your peak. I would also like to invite you to dinner at my house, right next door. You should probably go back to your room and rest up a bit first. I’ll meet you at about 5:00. That girl who battled me before you will also be there.”
“Oh yeah, I know her. She beat me too, earlier...”
“Well, I will see you later.”
“Okay, see you tonight.” Lisa walked toward the gym’s exit, her head hung low.
As Lisa exited the gym, she was met by Alexis.
“So, how did it go?”
“I lost... I can’t believe I made so many stupid mistakes...” Lisa broke down and started to cry.
Alexis did her best to console the downtrodden Lisa. “Hey, don’t worry about it. He’s tough. It’s not everyone that can defeat a Gym Leader on the first try. Besides, you need some rest. I’ll see you at dinner tonight!”
“Bye...” Lisa said with a huge yawn. She went to the Pokémon
Center. A male attendant took a look at Lisa’s injured Pokémon.
“Please… help my Pokémon. They were hurt badly in a Gym battle and I’m worried.”
The man looked over the Pokémon quickly and replied, “Don’t worry. Roy’s a tough battler, but he’d never battle an opponent to near death. Just a few minutes and they should be fine.”
“Thanks a lot,” Lisa answered, turning her attention to the TV.
“In college football news, the tenth ranked Tigers lost their Thursday night game 24-7 as Tech simply ran over them…”
“Yeah, just like Roy ran over me today…”
She decided to walk over to the other side of the lobby, away from other trainers and the TV. As Lisa waited, she replayed the battle in her mind. She was embarrassed. But more than that, she was mad at herself. “So many stupid mistakes! I made too many dumb calls that I never should have! Just like a certain team who just shot themselves in the foot…”
Her Pokémon were fully healed up and returned to her after about a half hour. She apologized to her Pokémon about losing the battle, tears welling up as she started to break down again. All of her Pokémon attempted to comfort Lisa except Nidorino, who just stuck its nose up in the air.
“Pathetic. Simply pathetic,” said Nidorino to the other Pokémon.
“What is your problem?” asked Meowth. “You were the one who claimed that she would go crazy and start abusing us after she lost a battle. Well, look at her! She feels terrible about losing!”
“Yeah, because her precious ego was crushed. She doesn’t care about you, only her precious reputation.”
The cat Pokémon sighed. “There you go, jumping to conclusions again…”
“Worse yet, she can’t even battle properly!”
“Well, maybe if you actually tried to help out…”
“Look, honey,” Nidorino interrupted, “I battle the way I see fit. Ain’t no stupid human gonna tell me what to do.”
“Call me ‘honey’ again,” Meowth started, “and you’re gonna…”
“Don’t bother with him,” interjected Koffing, putting herself between the two quarreling Pokémon. “He won’t give that girl a chance. We really need to help her get her spirits up.”
“Fine, do as you wish,” growled the other Poison-type. “I really don’t care.”
Over by Lisa, Spheal and Pidgeotto were looking over their depressed trainer.
“It’ll be okay,” said Spheal. “Besides, ya can’t expect to win ‘em all, y’know? So, let’s get feeling better and get some yummy food!”
Pidgeotto cooed softly. “Don’t worry. I know that battling’s a tough business. It takes a lot out of you. As long as you tried your hardest, you should be able to hold your head high, knowing you gave it your best. At least, that’s the way it worked in the forest. I don’t know if trainers follow the same teachings, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.”
Meowth and Koffing had left Nidorino to stew in his own anger, coming over to Lisa’s side to lend some support. The floating purple Pokémon started, “At least you’re not like my old trainer. He would get really angry and go crazy if his Pokémon ever lost. And I didn’t see the battle, but it must’ve been a tough one. As long as you gave it a full effort, that’s all that should matter.”
The kitten said, “Poor girl. She’s always been like this – stressing out over everything. Even when she wasn’t battling, if her outfit wasn’t perfect, or if she brought the wrong books to the professor’s place when she came to help her out, she would start beating herself up over it. I really think she’s a sweet girl, but I don’t think she realizes that “everyone makes mistakes” includes her. And I think it’s going to be a tough lesson for her to learn. But we have to help her out by supporting her in times like this.” Meowth slowly began massaging Lisa’s lower back with her paws.
Lisa finally looked up. Rubbing Pidgeotto and Meowth gently, she told them, “Thanks, guys. Thanks a lot. Hopefully next time we can manage a victory.” After regaining her composure, Lisa recalled her Pokémon and proceeded to her hotel. The desk clerk stopped her in the lobby.
“Wait, Lisa! Somebody from the college dropped by and wanted to give you this as a prize for winning the math contest.”
She handed Lisa a large egg, this one colored silver with a white triangular pattern and red circles throughout. “I believe that will eventually hatch into a Pokémon if you keep it with you.”
“Oh, cool! Thanks!” With this new prize, Lisa was starting to feel better about herself. “Hey, at least I’m good at something! And maybe this new Pokémon will help me out in a big way!” She read the attached note.
“To Lisa Northwood: This Pokémon Egg is a special prize for winning the Fourtix Calculus Challenge. The Pokémon has been specially bred and is like very few other Pokémon of its species. You’ll see just how rare it is when it hatches. Good luck on your future endeavors!”
Lisa thought to herself, “Man! How could I forget to pick this up? Good thing they were able to find out where I was staying and get it to me. I may be a genius, but I can be so scatterbrained sometimes!”