15 April 2017 at 18:25:31 MDT
"3...2...1... GOOO!" the Loudred announcer's voice boomed, the thunderous noise snapping the Pokemon racers to full attention. In an instant, fit and limber paws pounced off the dirt, Pokemon of all shapes and sizes rushing down the track. The 21st bi-annual Detourner Way Trail Run had begun!
The hastier racers launched off in full sprint, easily powering their way to the front of the pack and contesting directly with one another. Lazz the Salazzle...was not one of these racer. It was a beginner's trap, putting all your energy into the first few minutes of a race...perhaps useful in a short, straight sprint race, but not so in something requiring a bit more endurance. This trail race spanned winding, rugged roads...in and out of foliage, up and down elevations, and for a whole 10 miles. Looking impressive for the first mile didn't account for much if you couldn't keep it up...
There... The dark-and-red lizard jogged briskly past a couple of the more-eager racers, a Poochyena and a Purrloin, as they came up on a particularly-steep hill. Four legs seemed an advantage over two, but it simply meant more paws having to plod such a rough slope...and with their energy already well-used, they were forced to slow significantly. They still kept pace over the Pokemon in the back, but Lazz's crowd - the middle of the pack - was now beyond them.
The race continued on for some miles with this routine. Occasionally Lazz would temporarily overtake or be overtaken by his middle-pack-mates, but the standings stayed relatively even between them. As for the pack-leaders, they would inevitably drop back, exhausting themselves or making a mistake due to fatigue. The Salazzle would often overtake them at rougher parts of the course; such as the Sawsbuck whose antlers got caught in some low-hanging brush through a section of forest, or the Raichu who stumbled on a rock. The lizard would be mindful of steering around them and making sure they didn't get hurt, but his focus was largely on the road ahead...and the REAL competition beside him.
The middle of the pack was the biggest concern for a competitive racer like him. They knew how to plan out their energy...as evidenced as the race dwindled down to the final few miles. Now, Lazz's pack was the front of the pack...and while the small crowd was more or less still keeping pace, it was only a matter of time before somebody made a push into first.
On the last two miles... Lazz glanced over as a green figure passed on his left...and soon after, a tan mass on his right. He had been concerned about both of these Pokemon...a Scyther and a Weavile. They had been testing the waters for a few minutes before, glancing back and forth to each other competitively, innately picking up on how they would be directly fighting for that finish line. The Salazzle noted he wasn't included in their glances...but that was fine by him. A sleek-framed winged bug and a fast-footed weasel did seem a lot more likely to win than some plump-hipped lizard, didn't they?...
Well, Lazz did enjoy breaking preconceptions...
After patiently allowing the weasel and bug to push each other's speeds till the last mile...then, finally, did the Salazzle make his move. The two pack-leaders were honestly surprised as the lizard plodded strongly up alongside them, both sharing an indignant glance with one another that said 'THIS Pokemon thinks he can challenge US?' Suffice to say, both mustelid and insect huffed off, picking up their pace and outrunning Lazz easily...
...Though not by much. The dark reptile still kept a competitive pace, pushing himself harder now and inching back up on them. The leading duo only pushed harder as well in response...and so this back and forth went... The last half-mile was upon them soon, and the leaders were growing exhausted, panting and plodding their feet more heavily as they struggled to keep their pace... They weren't too concerned, however; they would be forced to slow before the race ended, but the Salazzle surely had to slow as well. Why, that lizard was pushing even harder to keep pace!
But...well, we all know by now the danger of hubris. The Weavile wheezed out a hiss, and the Scyther tiredly buzzed his wings in disapproval, as Lazz eased casually past them... The reptile certainly was sweating, the hard push tuckering him for sure...but he wasn't tuckered OUT, not yet! Those big legs of his had more endurance than he often was given credit for...though such credibility was rightfully earned in this case. Those two simple wooden poles, curtained with a thick rope of finish tape, was easily in view for the rather-flat last minutes of the run...it was smooth sailing from here.
The Salazzle barreled his dark belly right through the breakable tape, pumping his gloved fists into the sunny skies as a crowd of spectators cheered for him! His lead had been so good that his closest competition were mere bugs in the distance now...one literally, both metaphorically~ The reptile took a moment's respite, collecting his breath as he readjusted his athletic bands and fanned himself with the scarf tied to his tail...but he was fast to recover. Lazz leaped up with a burst of energy as race staff presented him with a gold medal, happily slipping it over his neck~ He didn't want to sound proud, but...he was looking forward to putting this in his medal collection!
"Will you be coming by for the autumn race?" asked a Zangoose holding a mic - a reporter of some sort, no doubt.
Lazz leaned into the mic with a grin. "Absolutely, you can count me in! I'd love to see how the course plays out in that season. And..." the Salazzle's grin grew wider, teeth gleaming with confidence. "...I'll be happy to collect a second gold from this fantastic event!"
In all honesty, he wasn't that proud a Pokemon. But he was on TV; he couldn't help being a bit cocky, just this once! Well - that was his excuse whenever he got a little interview. It would only encourage new runners to compete with him, and motivate his previous competition to work harder...that was the way he viewed it. No harm done, making a promise like this - he DID want to attend again, after all!
Well, no. 'THAT' wouldn't happen again. It had stopped him from racing a couple times in the past but...not this time. He'd made a promise! He WASN'T gonna let 'that' happen.
A honk from a nearby van returned the reptile to the present. A glance to the side of it, seeing that popular energy drink logo emblazoned across it... That's right! In his focus on racing, he'd nearly forgotten about the big sponsorship deal he'd been offered if he done 'decently' at today's race. Even a bronze would've had the company interested, but seeing that he did...just a bit better than that...! His scarved tail a-waggling, the Salazzle walked over to the employees as they exited their van, sponsorship papers already outstretched and a pen already offered forth... This was gonna be a great opportunity!
...Though he did wonder what their exact conditions would be...
Woo! <3 This is part 1 of 2 of a couple images done by :iconfattydragonite:/Luke!
This here's my newest Pokemon character! His name's Lazz the Salazzle. He's an athlete, quite fit! He's not great on sprints because of those big legs but he excels at any races requiring endurance. Though he...does have a little metabolic issue...his body is VERY active you know, and so it's VERY good at utilizing nutrition. Maybe...too good. But I'm sure we won't see what that means in part 2 or anything, right? Hahahaha... ^_^;
This is actually a collaboration with Luke! He's done all the art here, but in return he wanted me to write a good, hearty story for both parts. The plot for these images is actually his idea - the 'athlete' concept here - but he let me use one of my characters for it. However...all of my characters...are totally the opposite of athletes! XD So that's why I decided to make a new character here, Lazz~ And I'm glad I did; it's pretty fun to have a more physically fit character for a change! (Well...sometimes...you'll see!)
I was lucky to find a good place for this race; I've not played the main series after Black/White, but when I accidentally learned of Kalos Route 22 having a mostly-off-screen racing track that never gets fully seen, I knew I had a perfect locale~
And yes, Lazz is a male Salazzle. Yes, I know all Salazzles are females, and that male Sandalits don't evolve. He's abnormal for sure; if you want to get technical, I figure it could be a birth defect, like Klinefelter syndrome - chromosome disbalance and such. (Fun fact: There's a chance I have a version of Klinefelter syndrome - it's where I got the idea.)
As an aside, here's the original concept art I did of Lazz! https://puu.sh/to2ZH/49af8ade8c.png It's just an edit off of official art, but I did do quite a bit of editing. A lot of the design choices I did were to make him look more athletic - racing red colors, stripe markings instead of traditional, and of course the running gear.