The badges my Pokédrag retinue and I are sporting came in handy this week. Unfortunately. You see, upon entering Victory Road, I was met with the simple fact that despite how vivacious and gruff my troupe was, they were not quite up for the level of adversity they’d find in that particular cave. Of course, I am still trying to understand how the cave is a road, particularly since it is one cut up by puzzles and boulders, and is not at all direct in its path. Perhaps the adjectival Victory means that it is a champion of crushing spirits.
My spirit cannot be crushed so easily, though, inanimate road. Oh no.
With our heels, both flat and high, we queens and kings took to the road. The first obstacle happened to be that there was nowhere to progress. I did notice a pressure plate, and despite setting one of my flying Pokémon on it (in the hopes that she would then fly to me once we progressed whatever it was gating), I found it had no effect. Then I saw a boulder, just sitting around, how-do-you-do. Exchanging a glance with She-Hulk, I worked with her to move it bit by bit, making sure not to get it stuck in places where we could no longer reach it.
Unfortunately, during this time I was assaulted by shrieking banshees of rock and bat-types. Thankfully, given their rather conservative and myopic ways, it was a good opportunity to try some tricks and find what worked and didn’t. Surfing made quite the splash, which I imagine owes a lot to the large movements and the extent to which it takes up a stage. Theoretically I kept being told Daenerys’s fire shows failed to impress, and yet I found she would knock ‘em dead every time with a simple blast here and there. With Dana and Daenerys watching our backs, She-Hulk and I managed the boulder’s placement, to find that we were now set upon by trainers.
Given the proximity to the Elite Four, I can only imagine that these trainers were in a jealous rage. Since they were unable to defeat those lofty Pokétrainers, they would make sure no one could reach them. Now, were I to go for them all in one shot, this might well be the case. Instead, Valentine and I made sure that whenever things became hairy, we’d dig our way back to the entrance and fly off to town (I am certainly glad I have so many winged drag performers—not just for their silhouettes), and then make our way back.
Eventually I became so familiar with the guards that they didn’t even ask me about my badges, and we started small conversations; often enough to know their names are Carl, Juanita, Antoine, Jimmy, Patrick, Shyrelle, Mee, and Jen. The curious thing about that list of names is that you will find this world apparently has a bias against women being in a position of legal or guard authority, so the women get Shakespearean in their desire to have the jobs they want.
Now, the rest of the time was spent finding whatever path I was to take, finding Pokéballs that held various items, and fighting trainer after trainer, sometimes in couples. There were boulders, ladders, and holes into which to drop. All in all it left me feeling a bit exhausted.
There was a time where I contemplated just saying I’m done with it. No more. This was getting us nowhere, and for each step of seeming progress, it felt like I was constantly set back to square one in some futile effort of actually becoming or attaining anything. I entertained the thought of giving up on this entire endeavor, and to find something less grandiose. The question was: Would I be happy? Had I fulfilled my mission already anyway? What was my mission?
Becoming self-reflective is apparently a thing that happens as you perform the same moves over and over with every bat, rock, and Onyx that pops up its head to get in your way. Flamethrower. Surf. Water gun. Did I leave the gas on?
Flamethrower. Surf. Water gun. Thunderbolt. Suddenly, a dread overcame me as I contemplated the all too real mortality of not existing in any form; of turning off, stepping away, of not continuing. Yet, does continuing on despite this feeling of futility mean I am wasting my efforts in a life where time is the only resource I have that matters?
Slash. Water gun. Fly.
Finally, before I even realized it, I had walked out of the Victory Road cave and found myself walking up to a nurse who aided my Pokémon back to full health. At this point, the entire experience seemed so … tame. I guess I’ll just walk up to that door.
Oh, now I can’t go back?
Still remaining in a fugue, I proceeded to fight, easily astounding the first of these trainers (whose name I missed) into an unconscious state. Good drag can do that, whether it be because it is so otherworldly, or due to laughing so riotously one ends up almost asphyxiating. Unfortunately, the next trainer managed to send me back to the nurse in a panic, while stealing some of my performance money.
Isn’t that just like the elite? Stealing the money of the underprivileged whenever they try to join the same ranks?
Be right back, need to do something about this existential zombie state.