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Be the best You can Be, and Find Your Destiny
"I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was!” yelled Steven Steel.
“Stevie, it's always been our dream that you would succeed. You have a good idea, but I don't think your plan is very realistic.” replied Mr. Steel patiently.
“I know it's my destiny! Pokemon cards are really fun, and I know I can be really good at them. One day, I can win the scholarship at the world championships. Do you want to learn how to play?” said the small boy in a red hat.
“Fine. You teach me, and I'll teach you about better ways to earn scholarships.”
And so the six-year old boy went on to teach his father how to play the Pokemon trading card game. He was happy that he finally had someone to play with other than his friends at school, although he knew his father was not very interested.
“Remember, Dad, the goal of the game is to collect all six prize cards,” Stevie rattled away. “So, as you can see, you are not allowed to attack because Muk needs three grass energy cards to use sludge. He only has two grass energy cards and a water energy. You have to either attach one from your hand, or not attack until your next turn” said Steven.
“Yeah, huh, I get it, Stevie,” groaned Mr. Steel. After a few more plays, he began, “Now, this is very important. I am happy that you have something you like to do, but you also have to try other things. I will keep buying you Pokemon cards, as long as you do well in school. If your grades drop, I will stop buying them, and I might start taking a few away. Do you understand?”
“But I gotta catch ‘em all!...Okay. I promise I will get good grades. Do you want me to show you a good strategy for using Muk?”
“Sorry Stevie, but I have something to do now, and I bet you do too. Let's call it a tie.”
“What! It's Sunday, and I am beating you by three prize cards! You're crazy!”
“Yeah, just go do your homework.”
A year later, Steven had accumulated over 500 more Pokemon cards, and his class was in a full-fledged Pokemon trading card phase. It was the last weekend of the month, which meant it was time for the class' official monthly competition.
“No! I can't believe I lost!” screamed the small boy in a blue vest.
“Well, Drake Flygon, you have a good deck, but my water Pokemon have an advantage over your fire type Pokemon. You can’t win like that. Good game, I look forward to beating you again next month!” said Steven.
“Well, I know Sidney can beat you.”
“Ha, nice joke.”
“So, I guess it's you and me, Steven!” yelled Sidney.
“Yep, for the monthly title,” Steven replied.
“Okay, Machamp, use Seismic Toss. That means your Meganium EX faints, and since it is an EX pokemon, I get two prize cards! I am only one prize card away from claiming my rightful place.” said Steven.
“Oh yeah, Arcanine, use take down! Ha! That means your Machamp faints, and I get my fifth prize card!”
“A classic beginner’s mistake! Take down does 80 damage to me, but it has recoil. That means it does 30 damage to Arcanine himself, and he faints also! I get prize card number 6, and that means I am the champion!”
“Wait, I take it back!”
“No, you are not allowed to take your move back, you already grabbed the prize card, and you looked at it, it is not allowed to go back from that point. I win!”
“Ah! You little Ekans eater! You will pay for this!”
“Actually, you will pay for this, you have to give me two dollars or ten cards for winning!”
“Aw, PokeBalls! I'll have to give to two dollars.”
“And that means I can buy some new cards now!”
“Well, I can afford to buy a lot more than you can!”
“What a loser, you can only win because you can get a lot of cards, but you can’t figure out how to use them correctly!”
Steven did not know this at the time, but Sidney’s one mistake would impact the rest of their lives. If he had lost the game, the game, he would have had to wait until his report card to get enough money to buy more cards. The delay would have allowed his life-changing pack of cards go to somebody else. Something else important happened that day: Steven’s little brother, Ash, was born. Steven’s family was understandably busy with the new baby. Instead of going to the shop on that day, he had to wait until the next day. All of the factors worked like gears to make sure Steven got his rightful pack of cards. The final part of these gears turned at the next day of school.
“I love you so much, Sidney!” said Steven, playfully.
“I hate you also, Steven!”
“I got some more cards, and guess what I got?”
“Lemme guess, another Grimer, so now you have like, 18 of them.”
“No! Wait, yes actually. Those things are so common its not even funny. But, I got something really good.”
“Electrode? Diglett? Nidoran? Mankey? Venasaur? Rattata? Fearow? Pidgey?”
“No, I got a Rayquaza EX!”
“What? Your so lucky, you have like three of them, and you only use one. Why?”
“One of the kids in the 3rd grade said he would trade me two Rayquaza EX cards for a Charizard EX!”
“You have to be kidding me...”
“I am going to have one of the rarest, most powerful, and most expensive cards in all of the Pokemon Trading Card game! No joke! With that card, I am unbeatable. I will use it like a powerful weapon. Arm and arm, we’ll win any fight; it’s always been my dream.”
“Puking Pelliper! I better find an awesome way to beat you now!”
With that small piece of paper, Steven was truly unbeatable. He loved that card, and he carried it with him everywhere. One day, Ash spat out some of his baby food, and some of it got on the card. Steven fell into a state of panic, until his mother was able to clean the gunk off of his precious card. There was a small stain, but the card was still usable. To prevent any further damage, he sleeved the card. He also developed a compulsive need to make sure it was still in the sleeve, as if it were a priceless specimen.
“Steven, Steven! So, what is the answer to my question?”
“Yes, Steven. The capital of Alaska is forty two.”
“Sorry, Mr. Phillipson, I...uh... got distracted.”
“Really? What could possibly be more interesting than my thought-provoking lecture?”
“Well, uh, nothing...sir. I promise I will focus.”
“Good. And go ahead and kill the bug you keep looking at.”
“Oh, no. I’m looking at my Pokemon card, not a bug.”
“Back in my day, we were not allowed to have our fancy little toys in class. You seem to be more engaged with it than my interesting lecture. Since I can’t compete with it, I will have to put it in my drawer.”
“No! Please! I can’t lose my card!”
“I’m sorry, but perhaps it is better to pay attention to the lesson.”
It was the year 2017, and Steven was about to finish the 5th grade. He had learned to pay better attention to his lessons and, by now, there were only three people playing Pokemon in his class. Steven still played with a passion, but his reign of the game ended after his Charizard EX card was taken away. He was still good at playing, but his impressive victories never came again. Since he was already accepted into a middle school, he decided to do something about the absence of his old friend. He wanted to rescue his card, from the desk of Mr. Phillipson.
“Steven, are you seriously going to do it?”
“What do I have to lose?”
“A lot actually. Also, nobody has even stolen anything out of Mr. Phillipson’s drawer of doom and lived!”
“Drake, that’s because you just need the key. Mr. Phillipson is an old hag, so I should be able to grab it without him noticing.”
“Good luck man. It’s been nice knowing you.”
To Steven’s luck, one day not long after, Mr. Phillipson dropped his key out of his pocket without hearing it hit the floor. Steven quickly snatched it, and waited for everybody to go home. He went into the room, opened the drawer without any problems, looked into the stash of confiscated items, and it was nowhere to be found. He dug around for a few minutes, checked the other drawers, and gave up in despair before surreptitiously leaving the key on Mr. Phillipsons’ chair. He went home dejectedly. Steven had no Charizard, and his good friend Sidney was moving, all the way to Japan.
“How was your day, Stevie?” asked Mrs. Steel.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” grunted Steven.
“Stevie, did Mr. Phillipson give you your card back?” asked Mrs. Steel.
“Uh, yeah. I asked him, but it was missing, and I’ll never see it again!” screamed Steven.
“Well, I know this is tough, but the best thing for you to do is move on. The card was your power, and you used it well. As long as you do not mourn the loss of it too long, your power will never come back to haunt you.”
“Mom! This isn’t one of those myths we read at school! This is real life!”
“I’m just saying...”
“Hey! You better have a better attitude when you say good-bye to Sidney!”
“Aw, Pidgey poop. I forgot that he’s moving to Japan!”
“Well, things like this happen, in real life, Steven.”
Steven and Drake continued to play Pokemon cards without Sidney, but they slowly got bored. Little did they know, there were plenty of tournaments in their city that they could have attended. When they finally found out about these, they started playing even more aggressively. The new competition definitely showed them that they needed to make strategies that could beat a wide range of players, instead of only just each other.
“Wow! The competition here is really fierce.” exclaimed Drake.
“I know! My opponent has a really good deck.” replied Steven.
“I don’t know if we can pass the qualifier this year.”
“Well, we have eight months until then, so we might be able to make it.”
Steven and Drake worked hard on improving for the rest of the year, but they both got disqualified in the qualifying tournament. Drake showed up late, and his opponent advanced by default. Steven accidentally added an extra card into his deck, so it exceeded the maximum of 60 cards. They were very disappointed, but immediately started practicing again, for the next year. They knew the championship would be in Orlando the next year, so they were guaranteed to be able to travel to the venue.
“Dude, I am so pumped for this year!” said Steven.
“I know, we can definitely make it!” said Drake.
“I don’t know Drake, only 346 Americans will get invited to the tournament.”
“I know, but that’s for only our division, so it should be manageable.”
“I guess. Good luck dude.”
Drake and Steven had no problem getting their invitations for the World Championships, because they had gotten used to the intensity of competitive level Pokemon cards. After the initial games at the world championships, Steven and Drake were randomly chosen to be in a group of three together, for a spot in the top 64. They both beat the third person, Curran Patel, so their battle decided who would get the spot.
“...and I will use Warp Point, so you have to send your Prinplup back to your bench, and I will switch my Team Magma’s Claydol with my Team Magma’s Groudon!” declared Drake.
“Oh yeah, well I will use my Steven’s advice card, so I get to draw four cards. I’m going to use my Rare Candy as well, so I get to evolve my Piplup into Prinplup, which I will obviously evolve into Empoleon! Owned!”
“No, dual splash sucks, so I don’t think this counts as an official ownage.”
“Really? Well, then this does. I attach a Water Energy to Empoleon, and I use Surf Together! This is an official game, and I definitely owned you there. Team Magma’s Groudon faints, and I get a prize card for that. My attack also does 10 damage to every Pokemon on the bench, which causes Baltoy to faint also! I am only one prize card away from victory, Drake!”
“I can still win, just watch. I evolve my Vibrava into...”
“Dude! You are seriously way too obsessed with Flygon! It uses too much energy, and as it has been demonstrated here, Flygons suck!”
“I attach an Electric energy, and I use Air Slash!”
“I draw a card, and I use Surf Together again!”
“I use Air slash again!”
“I use Surf Together again, making Flygon faint. I get my last prize card, and I win!”
“Bonsly barf! I was 10 HP away. Good game, Steven. I’ll beat you next year.”
“Thanks, Drake. Now its time for the finals!”
Unfortunately, Steven lost his game, so he did not advance to the top 32 that year.
Steven continued his pursuit to win through high school, and he made it into the World Championships every year following this one. Though he was always very good, he never made it into the top 32. Finally, he was a senior. His grades were strong but it was unlikely that he would be able to attend college unless he won a scholarship.
“Son, I need to talk to you.” said Mr. Steel.
“What is it dad?” asked Steven.
“The World Championships are in Japan this year; are you sure you want to spend your money to go there?”
“Dad, I have been trying for 12 years now. I’m not giving up my last chance because of distance.”
“What about college, don’t you think it is a little more important than Pokemon?”
“Well, the only way I will be able to go is if I win the scholarship. I think it is a good risk.”
“Fine. Then go to Japan and win. Got it?”
“Yeah. I think I understand that winning is good.”
“Yes! Top 32! Good game, Giovanni. Judge, who will I face to get into the top 16?”
“Uh, the winner of the match on table #6. That would be Drake Flygon, or the one with the translator, I think his name is Brock.” replied the judge.
“Porygon mei Claydolem tui pugnite!” yelled Brock.
“He’s attacking your Claydol with his Porygon.” said the translator.
“Well, you fell into my trap, Carl. I use Clay Pulse! That kills Porygon, and the two Pidgeys on your bench! I win!”
“ego Clay Pulse faco. hoc Porygon interfecit, et duo Pidgei interfecit. ego vinco!” said the translator.
“minime! ego interfacere non possum! furcifer! tu optime fecisti.”
“He said that he can’t believe he lost, and good game.”
“Thank you Carl. You are pretty tough yourself.” said Drake. “Well Steven, it looks like I might make it into the top 16 this year!”
“Well see, Drake.”
“That judge is calling us over. Are you ready?”
“And... Articuno uses Blizzard! That means I win!” said Drake.
“Not so fast. I used Guard Claw last turn, so it only does 30 damage to my Aggron. He is still alive, long enough to use Guard claw one more time! What’s that? I won, yes!” declared Steven.
“No! How could I forget? Aw, Muk. Good luck in the top 16 Steven!”
“Yeah! I finally made it into the top 16. That means I will be published in the brackets. Drake, I can’t see the screen, who do I have to beat to get into the top four?”
“Uh, let’s see...there’s your name. You have to beat Yamato, then either Hill or Thomas. It looks like a guy named Hawk already made it into the top four, and, what?”
“What, what do you see?”
“There’s a guy named Jones. Do you think...?”
“That can’t possibly be Sidney. Jones is such a common name. It could be anybody.”
“I don’t know, he could have improved a lot since grammar school, if he kept playing.”
Sidney had some trouble in the next two battles, but he was lucky enough to pull off two victories. He knew he now had a three out of four chance to win an amount of money, but only the first place prize was enough for him to pay for college.
“It looks like you are going to lose, Steven.” said his opponent, Michael.
“Don’t think too quickly. I use Steven’s advice, so I get to draw 6 cards. Yes! I use two Potion cards, so Rhydon gets healed by 40 HP. I use Rock tumble! That messed up your plan, didn’t it?”
“Master Balls! I totally forgot about your potions! I use Earthquake again.”
“And I use Rock Tumble again, and I win!”
“Well, good game, Steven. You deserve to win.”
“Thanks, Mike. You were a really hard match.”
“Attention everybody! It is time for the final battle! My name is Tsuguyoshi Yamato, the Champion of 2004, and it is my honor to announce this years final battle. The first competitor is a boy coming all the way from Orlando, Florida! Steven Steel! The second competitor is another American boy, from here in Japan. Sidney Jones! These two will fight for the title, in three battles. The first person who wins two battles will be crowned champion. They can use three separate decks, but are not required to do so. Let’s battle!”
“Sidney, I can’t believe you are my opponent!” exclaimed Steven.
“Why? Are you scared?” scoffed Sidney.
“No, I just can’t believe you got so good, let alone you still play.” said Steven.
“Well, I guess some things never change. Ready to lose?”
“In your dreams!”
Sidney won the first battle, and Steven won the second battle. Since they had not played with each other for about ten years, they had no idea how good the other person was. Finally, it came down to the last battle.
“So, Sidney. What deck are you using?” asked Steven.
“I’m using my fire deck. You?”
“Cool. It looks like we’re fighting fire with fire.”
“This should be interesting.”
“So, Sidney, I only need two more prize cards. You need three. What are you gonna do about that?”
“This! I attach a fire energy to my Charmeleon, and evolve him to...Charizard EX!”
“Wow...wait...I recognize that stain on that card, or as I should say, MY CARD!!!”
“What do you mean, it’s in my deck, its my card.”
“YOU took it out of Mr. Phillipson’s desk! Judges!”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Steel. You have to proof that the card is yours. Just keep playing.” said the judge.
“Yeah, Steven. I use Slash, so your Magmar faints!”
“I send out Moltres EX, and I use Scorching Wing!”
“I use Burn Down, I get my last two prize cards, and I am the Champion!”
The officials gave Sidney the title and the cash prize of $50,000, and Steven got second place. Steven was really angry, because his strength had literally come back to beat him. He knew Sidney was not really that dishonest of a person, so he went to talk to him.
“Nice game, Steven.”
“Sidney, you cheated! That card was mine, and you stole it. You know you did.”
“What do you mean..I...you can’t prove it.”
“Sidney. Think about this. Since we were kids, we wanted to be the best, like no one ever was. To build decks was our real test, to train ourselves was our cause. I travelled across the land, searching far and wide for a new Charizard EX, because I understood the power that was inside. We became best friends teaching each other how to play this game. Every challenge along the way, we faced with courage. We both came here and battled everyday. Do you really think that you claimed your rightful place?”
“Dude, did you just use the original Pokemon theme song against me?”
“Yes, but that’s not the point,” said Steven with a grin.
“Uh, yeah. I feel really bad, man. I don’t need the money, but I know you do.”
“Yep. You still remember.”
“I’ll give it to you, man.”
“Thank you! I think you definitely deserve to be the champion, for this year at least.”
“Do you still want to be part of a Pokemon video game design team?”
“Yeah, what about you?”
“Yeah, since we were kids”
Years later, Steven and Sidney both went on to get degrees in programming. It was hard to get jobs in the designing team, but arm in arm they won the fight, as they had always dreamed.