Road to the Championship (T)
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    Default Road to the Championship (T)

    Well, here we are. A second installment in the Final Challenge saga. When I finished that story, I had it set in mind to begin work on the sequel. And instead I end up starting to write the prequel. Figures, huh?

    Please note, spoilers follow below. I highly recommend that you read Final Challenge before taking a gander on this prequel.

    This story is more of an amalgamation of events that takes place in between the Sinnoh League and Ash's battle with Cynthia for the title of Pokemon Master (which is of course how Final Challenge opened). As such, there will not necessarily be a straightline plot (although I shall certainly endeavour to establish one); the intent of this story is primarily to explain how some of the events in Final Challenge came to be. Which events are those? You'll just have to read and see ;)

    I plan on keeping this one relatively short, and as it covers a span of almost three years there may be some rather large gaps in between chapters.

    As I've said, this is a prequel to Final Challenge; for those new to this world, you may be better off reading that story before going on to this one. I warn you now, there will be allusions to events that occurred in that story, and so there could very well be spoilers for it too. I'd hate to deprive you of those surprises, so please keep that in mind. Also, thanks to University I can't promise a regular updating schedule; I'll try to write as much as I can when I can, but there may be gaps in between updates.

    So, here we go. I hope that you all enjoy the story that is to come. Here's hoping I haven't jumped the shark.


    Table of Contents
    Chapter One: Victory Road
    Chapter Two: VS Paul!
    Chapter Three: A Life or a Loss?
    Chapter Four: The Sweetest Revenge
    Chapter Five: The Championship
    Chapter Six: Dark Ball
    Chapter Seven: Superchu or A History of Pokemon

  2. #2
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    Here's the first chapter. It's a little shorter than usual, but the others get longer as it goes on. Enjoy.

    Chapter One: Victory Road


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    Ash watched the battlefield nervously, his stomach clenching at the magnificent display he saw below. Paul stood calmly in his trainer box, hands in his pocket as he gazed across the field towards his opponent whose brow was sweating profusely. To all intensive purposes Paul was at a disadvantage, his Electivire facing off against an angry Nidoking. And yet he was the one in utter control of the match.

    “Nidoking, Earthquake!” his opponent yelled.

    “Jump with your tail and hit it with a DynamicPunch,” Paul retaliated emotionlessly. Electivire jumped high into the sky, its double-pronged tail propelling it powerfully upwards. The Earthquake passed harmlessly across the earth and then Electivire shot downwards, its eyes gleaming red as it swung a gleaming silver fist downwards.

    “Block it!” the trainer shouted in panic.

    “Rolling Kick!” Paul commanded. The Nidoking leaned upwards and caught Electivire’s fist in its hands to halt the attack, but Electivire used the momentum and swung itself underneath the Nidoking’s arms. A whoosh of breath left the ground-type’s lungs as both of Electivire’s legs slammed into its stomach, delivering a Rolling Kick that had double the usual power. The Nidoking staggered backwards, its eyes crossing before it collapsed.

    “Nidoking is unable to battle!” the referee ruled. “Electivire and Paul are the winners!” Ash groaned and held his head in his hands; the semi-final match was over and it would have to be Paul whom he battled. He snuck a peak at the scoring screen which now triumphantly noted Paul’s victory and felt a pang of nervousness as he noted that Paul still had one unused and therefore unknown Pokemon in his arsenal. Compounding that with the fact that not a single attack had hit Electivire, Ash felt decidedly nervous about his chances.

    “Don’t look so down!” Dawn scolded from beside him, noting the look on his face. “You were in total control of your semi-final match; Kaede didn’t stand a chance against you.”

    “I’ve beaten her before,” Ash responded, “I know how to battle against her. I’ve never beaten Paul; the most I’ve ever gotten from him is a tie. And how many times have we battled now?”

    “Every match is different,” Brock answered from his other side. “If you go into this match expecting to lose then you will lose. You have to have more confidence in yourself. You didn’t make it all the way to the Sinnoh League finals on pure luck. You’ve got more skill than Paul. Don’t give him an advantage!”

    “What do you mean?” Ash asked. “What advantage?”

    “Think,” Brock said patiently. “Every time you’ve ever battled Paul, what’s happened? You start out strong but then he starts needling you, and you lose your control on the battle. You stop focusing on the tactics and get obsessed with just beating him straight-out, which of course doesn’t happen. Don’t let him take control of your emotions; keep a clear mind and you’ll do fine.”

    “You’re right,” Ash said, nodding slowly before lapsing into silence as his gaze returned slowly to the battlefield. He could see Paul’s opponent approaching, his arm outstretched.

    “Good match, Paul,” he said sincerely. “You really deserved this win.”

    “Too right I did,” Paul snorted, ignoring the offered handshake. “You were just pathetic out there; that was my easiest win of the whole tournament. I expected more of a challenge in the semi-finals.” His opponent looked after him, stunned by the harsh words as Paul turned without further comment and trudged off the battlefield.

    “What a jerk,” Dawn muttered, glaring after him. “You’d better beat him after that, Ash.”

    “Remember, Dawn; no unnecessary pressure,” Brock cautioned as Ash stood up. “Where are you going, Ash?”

    “I need to make a phone call,” he answered without looking back, leaving them in the stands as he moved into the maze of tunnels that composed the spectator’s section of the Stadium.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Hey Ash! I saw your match on TV over here!” May beamed. “I wasn’t expecting you to call; this is quite the surprise! Imagine beating Kaede twice! And now you’re in the finals!”

    “Hooray,” Ash said without much enthusiasm. May’s cheery enthusiasm demeanour instantly vanished.

    “What’s wrong?” she asked in concern.

    “I have to go against my worst rival,” Ash said. “Out of all my rivals he’s the one I’ve battled most over the years; and I’ve never beaten him.”

    “Oh, is that all?” May scoffed. “Come on Ash, I thought there was something seriously wrong for a moment. Don’t scare me like that.” He looked at her, amazed.

    “Nothing seriously wrong?” he repeated.

    “We’ve all gone against people it seemed like we’d never meet,” May said. “You never beat Gary until the Johto League, remember? And how many tries did it take Harley before he finally beat me?”

    “Yes, that’s true,” Ash said before hastily changing the subject. “So tell me, how is Harley nowadays? Still up to all his nasty tricks?” May coughed slightly before answering.

    “Err, well... truth be told, he’s been really nice towards me lately,” she said. “He helped me out with some trouble a few weeks ago...” Ash was surprised.

    “Well that was good of him! I never expected Harley to do something nice for you,” he said. “How’s Drew doing?”

    “He’s fine,” May said coldly, an emotion that Ash missed completely.

    “That’s good,” he said absentmindedly. “I’m looking forward to seeing you in the Grand Festival. When is it? Sometime in the next month, right?” May gave another little cough.

    “Well you see... the thing is, I didn’t qualify,” she said sheepishly. Ash looked at her, completely open-mouthed.

    “What? But you had three ribbons so early on! How could you not have qualified?”

    “Some stuff came up...” she muttered. “I’m actually catching a ferry back to Petalburg City in two days time. I’m not sure what I’ll do after I get home...” She added some words under her breath that Ash couldn’t hear, and when he enquired what they were she smiled sweetly and answered that she hoped she could get bumped up to a better cabin. Accepting this, Ash nodded.

    “Well, I guess I’d better go,” he said. “I need to pick my roster for tomorrow. Good luck with what you do next, May.”

    “Yeah... you too, Ash,” she said a little sadly before terminating the connection.

    He stared at the blank screen, a little perplexed. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen May in such a topsy-turvy mood. For a moment he contemplated calling her back, but reason set in. She’s probably just disappointed she didn’t qualify, he decided. She just needs some space while she decides what to do next. I’ll call her again in a few days; hopefully she’ll be a little happier then. He turned and found himself staring straight into Paul’s eyes; they held a curiously satisfied gleam.

    “Just as I expected,” his rival snorted. “You already know you can’t beat me. Why not just forfeit that match now? You don’t have any more chance against me than that idiot I beat today did.” Ash glared at him, a familiar fire beginning to race through his blood.

    “You’ve only ever beaten me one-on-one or three-on-three,” he retorted angrily. “Six-on-six is a lot more challenging; do you think you can beat me at my speciality?”

    “I can beat you at any kind of battle,” Paul answered cockily. “Tomorrow is the day I’ll finally win a League.”

    “Oh really?” Ash asked softly. “Remind me, Paul; which one of us has actually won a League? Oh sorry, I meant Leagues.” Paul’s gaze darkened considerably, and Ash’s hands clenched in the knowledge that when it came down to League matches he was the more successful, thanks to his victories in the Orange League and the Battle Frontier. And it seemed that Paul was unable to offer a retort for this, as he held his stance there for a few seconds before sweeping off without further comment.

    “I think Paul just made a big mistake,” Brock commented to Dawn from where they stood on the stairs, unobserved by either Paul or Ash. “He just gave Ash his confidence and will to win back.”

    “Do you think Ash has a chance?” Dawn asked.

    “With that kind of charge?” Brock asked. “I think Ash will want to beat Paul more than ever now; not just for himself, but for all the trainers who Paul has beaten and belittled. One thing’s for sure; only one of them actually deserves to be the League Champion, and the whole of Sinnoh knows it after Paul’s post-match display today. And Ash can work wonders when he has the support of the crowd behind him.”

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    that was great glad Ash finally has the confident to beat Paul, although we know the outcome of the battle we don't know how it happen so I think this is gonna be one great battle.

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    nice work. very nice. keep it up. ^_^

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    Thanks for the reviews you two; I hope you'll continue to read and enjoy.

    Chapter Two: VS Paul!


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Are you ready, Ash?” Dawn asked quietly.

    “Ready as I’ll ever be,” Ash said confidently. The two sat on the bench in Ash’s trainer room; the match was minutes away and Dawn was supposed to have been in the stands by now lest Brock was unable to keep her seat reserved for much longer. But her concern over Ash’s preparation for this, the most important battle of his life to date, was greater than her desire for a good seat.

    “Are you sure?” she asked.

    “Positive,” Ash said. “Paul doesn’t stand a chance. I didn’t think I could beat him, but he surprised me yesterday when I was on the phone. He told me to just give up then, and that really made me mad. I want to beat him more than ever now, and he gave me that desire back. I want to beat him, and I know I can beat him.”

    “Pika!” Pikachu added, and Ash laughed.

    “With that kind of support, how can I not win?” he joked.

    “That’s the spirit,” a rather portly man with a large smile on his face said as he stepped into the room. Ash and Dawn both jumped in surprise at the sudden appearance.

    “Sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you,” he chuckled. Ash looked at the man in shock, instantly recognizing the voluminous floral shirt and trademark Bono glasses.

    “Scott?” he asked incredulously. “What are you doing here?”

    “I’m here because of a promise you made to me a year and a half ago, Ash,” he answered, sitting next to him on the bench; Dawn masked a squeak as she felt her end of the bench rise up slightly, sliding her into Ash.

    “A promise?” Ash repeated, puzzled.

    “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten!” Scott exclaimed. “You beat my Battle Frontier, and I offered you a position as Frontier Brain. You declined then because you wanted to travel Sinnoh, but I told you at the time that the offer still stood. We have plans for a new facility, the grandest one of them all; the Battle Colosseum. I want you to be its head.”

    “You want me to be the Frontier Brain?” Ash asked, trying to make sure they were both on the same wavelength.

    “Bingo!” Scott beamed. “Spenser’s on the verge of retirement now, and we need a replacement if the Battle Frontier is to continue. You’re still the only one who’s beaten it. Only one other person has come close, and he retired to become a Pokemon Breeder after winning six symbols.”

    “But... I don’t know if I’m ready to stop travelling yet,” Ash said. “There’s still so much to see!” Scott chuckled.

    “Relax,” he said. “I don’t think you have any idea how much time is going to be needed for the Battle Colosseum to be built. We’re looking at two years, maybe three before construction is completed; Spenser’s agreed to stay on until it’s finished. You’ll still have plenty of time to travel.”

    “Well...” Ash began, but Dawn broke in.

    “I say go for it, Ash!” she said eagerly. “Think how much stronger you’ll become by being a Frontier Brain!”

    “You think so?” Ash asked.

    “Of course!” Dawn answered. “No need to worry; you’ll have plenty of competition.”

    “And you’ll be able to have all of your Pokemon with you at all times,” Scott added. “All of the other Frontier Brains have that privilege too, although only Noland has taken advantage of it. You’d still only be able to battle six-on-six at the most, but I’m sure you miss being with some of your Pokemon when you’re travelling.”

    “That’s true,” Ash said slowly, “but how could I possibly have all my Pokemon with me at once?”

    “Well, there’s too ways to go about it,” Scott answered. “If you have a full party and capture another Pokemon, it goes straight to your region’s Pokemon Professor; in this case, Professor Oak. What we can do is alter the data in your Pokedex so that your Pokemon’s “home” location is set for the Battle Colosseum instead of Professor Oak’s laboratory.

    “Another thing we can do is give your Pokedex an upgrade so that it becomes an “Ex-Dex.” It’s a new upgrade developed by Professor Oak that allows a trainer to carry more than six Pokemon with them. The League regulates its application very heavily, but as a Frontier Brain you would more than qualify for it. So what do you say, Ash?”

    “It sounds good,” he admitted, “but I’d still have to think about it. It’s not something I can agree to straight away.”

    “No problems there, Ash,” Scott replied. “Take as much time as you need.”

    “Mr. Ketchum?” a young boy asked breathlessly, running down from the tunnel that led to the battlefield. “They’re ready for you now, sir. Good luck with your battle.” Ash smiled, unused to being addressed in such a formal manner.

    “Thanks,” he said, standing up from the bench with a little stretch. Dawn jumped to her feet, looking horrified.

    “My seat!” she gasped. “There’s no way Brock could have held it this long!”

    “Why don’t you both sit with me?” Scott asked. “I’ve got a special box reserved for this match; best seats in the Stadium.”

    “Thanks,” Dawn said gratefully, running out of the room to find the breeder.

    “Hey, wait!” Scott shouted after her. “I haven’t given you the box number!” He sighed and looked at Ash. “I’m really not used to running after energetic kids like her,” he said. Ash chuckled in response.

    “Here,” he said, “I’ll give you the number for her Poketch. Do you have a pen and paper?”

    “Always,” Scott answered, passing them over.

    “Mr. Ketchum?” the young boy squeaked nervously, glancing back up the tunnel towards the Stadium. “You’d better hurry up; you don’t want to be disqualified for being late.”

    “On my way now,” Ash answered, passing the pen and paper back over to Scott. “Lead me on up. Bye Scott.”

    “Bye Ash,” the Battle Frontier owner called, leaving the room. “Good luck!”

    “Thanks; I may need that,” Ash answered as he followed the young boy up the tunnel.

    “Are you nervous, Mr. Ketchum?” the boy asked.

    “Always,” Ash said. “Every match is different; you can’t go in expecting to win it the same way as the last. And it’s against my biggest rival too, who I’ve never beaten.”

    “Do you think you have a chance?” the boy asked. Ash stopped him by putting his hand on his shoulder, and the young boy turned quizzically.

    “No matter how little hope you think there may be, there’s always a chance,” Ash said. “Never give up, because you only give up on yourself if you do.” He started moving again, and now the roar of the crowd became apparent. The young boy trailing behind, he stepped out from the tunnel and into brilliant sunlight; a veritable explosion of noise washed over his ears as the audience spotted him and began cheering. The voice of the commentator introducing him was barely audible.

    Ash waved cheerily to the crowd and walked over to his trainer’s box, a green platform which he knew would rise into the air the moment he stepped onto it. He briefly wondered, as he always did before a League match, what would happen if he were to step off of the platform immediately after it began to rise into the air, but he shook the thought from his head; this match was too important to ponder simple and irrelevant things like that.

    There was a sudden jerk from beneath his feet as the platform began to move, but he kept his balance easily. From the corner of his eye he caught sight of the red trainer’s box on the opposite side of the field begin rising too, but he ignored what he knew would be Paul’s scowling visage, choosing instead to continue waving to the crowd.

    “Welcome to the final of the Sinnoh League!” the commentator’s voice announced. The crowd, which had only just begun to settle down, roared out yet again, drowning the next few words so great was the volume. “-nd Paul of Veilstone City,” the commentator continued. “Both trainers have shown their incredible skill in making it this far, but only one can be crowned League Champion!” The crowd roared enthusiastically again.

    “This will be a full six-on-six Pokemon battle! The winner will be decided when one trainer has all six of his Pokemon defeated! There will be a brief time-out when one trainer has three of his Pokemon knocked to allow for a field change; and speaking of which, the field for the first portion of the battle is about to be decided!” The images of Ash, Paul, and the twelve empty slots around an empty black circle vanished on the scoreboard to be replaced by a square divided in four; a brown rock, a white block, a green leaf, and a dark blue raindrop. They became lit up in turn, each one signifying one of the four possible battlegrounds. Initially moving at a fast pace, the light quickly slowed until it was barely flickering at all, moving from grass to water to rock to...

    “And it’s an ice-field!” the commentator announced. The initial scoreboard faded back in, although this time the empty circle in the centre had been replaced with the symbol for the ice-field. The battlefield began trembling and then was separated into two chunks down the centre, moving slowly. As the field was pulled slowly underneath each trainer box, a gleaming white surface came into view, slowly being lifted to the surface via a series of incredibly powerful pistons. There was a dull thunk as it reached the surface and was secured along the edges with heavy-duty mechanical grips.

    “And now we’ll see who gets to select their Pokemon first!” the commentator shouted as everyone’s eyes became riveted to the screen. A roulette wheel featuring the likenesses of both trainers appeared and began spinning. The Stadium was silent as every person in there watched the spinning intently. It settled on Ash’s visage, to the groans of many people.

    “Ash of Pallet Town must select first,” the referee announced from his position at the side of the field. He raised both a red and a green flag into the air before promptly dropping them and shouting “begin!”

    “Glalie, I choose you!” Ash shouted, unleashing the powerful ice-type who seemed extremely pleased to be battling alongside Ash again as it floated there in mid-air.

    “Big mistake,” Paul taunted from across the field. “Glalie may have the advantage on an Ice Field, but I have something that will melt your hopes of victory away! Magmortar, let’s go!”

    “Maaaag!” the fire-type roared as it landed with a heavy thud on the ice, spewing a wave of hot flames into the air as it did so.

    “Perfect,” Ash murmured, his eyes fixed on Paul’s Pokemon. “Just what I’d hoped for.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “This looks bad already,” Dawn said nervously in Scott’s box. “Paul’s already got the advantage in this battle; Glalie’s tough, but I don’t think it’s strong enough to take out that Magmortar.”

    “We’ll see,” Brock said, paying almost as close attention to Ash as Ash was to Magmortar. “Ash doesn’t seem too worried about it.”

    “And if Ash isn’t worried, it’s a fair bet that he’s got a good strategy in mind,” Scott added. “This will be a very interesting match, to say the least.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Block!” Ash yelled, calling out the first move of the battle. Paul pointedly rolled his eyes as a red light shot from Glalie’s eyes and enveloped Magmortar, marking the fire-type’s chest with a small ‘x’.

    “Are you really that desperate to lose?” he asked. “Magmortar, lets end this before he embarrasses himself any further! Lava Plume!”

    “Counter it with Ice Beam!” Ash shouted to Glalie. Magmortar raised both of its arms and pointed them at Glalie; a blast of intense flames shot out of each arm, heading directly towards the ice-type. But Glalie was slightly quicker; before Magmortar’s arms were half-raised, it had already sent a sheet of ice flying towards the fire-type. The two attacks collided; the fiery heat of the Lava Plume completely demolished the Ice Beam, but what flames were leftover from the collision trickled harmlessly onto the ice.

    “So, you’ve got speed,” Paul commented, “better than I expected. Time to show you a little speed of our own though! Magmortar, Flare Blitz!”

    “Headbutt!” Ash ordered. Magmortar charged forwards at a fiery rate, completely surrounded by a roaring inferno, its body visible as a mere outline within the flames. Glalie charged recklessly into the attack, black horns pointed directly at the opponent. The two attacks collided and this time Glalie came off much worse. The two hit head-on-head; for a brief instant it appeared that the attacks were evenly matched, but then the flames enveloped Glalie’s body and it was sent reeling backwards from the impact, roaring in pain as it crashed into the ice.

    “Glalie, you can shrug that off!” Ash shouted.

    “Glayy... glay...” the ice-type panted as it struggled to regain the air. Ash bit his lip in concern, but the worry quickly turned to relief as he saw several drops of moisture falling from Glalie’s body onto the battlefield.

    “Perfect,” he grinned.

    “Your Pokemon’s melting, and you think that’s a good thing?” Paul taunted. “Magmortar, melt the rest of it away! Fire Punch!”

    “Wait for it... wait for it...” Ash murmured as Magmortar charged ever closer, its fist surrounded by flames.

    “Ash, what are you doing?” he heard Dawn scream, her cry somehow penetrating the noise of the crowd. “Glalie’s going to be creamed!”

    “Now!” Ash shouted the moment he judged Magmortar was close enough. “Headbutt into the ground!”

    “Glayyyy!” Glalie roared, charging headfirst into the ice. There was a resounding crack and the crowd gasped as one. The ice beneath the two Pokemon shattered and Magmortar, unable to move to any form of safety, vanished into the pool of freezing meltwater.

    “Magmortar, return!” Paul yelled, pointing a Poke Ball towards the water. A red beam shot under the waves, but the light disintegrated almost immediately. Cursing inwardly, Paul then remembered the Block attack; and with a rising rage, he realized that Ash had planned for this to happen from the moment that Magmortar set foot on the ice.

    “Finish it, Glalie,” Ash said steely. “Sheer Cold!” Glalie touched its two horns to the surface of the water and closed its eyes in concentration. A burst of ultraviolet light shot under the waves. The air temperature dropped to frigid levels almost immediately, and the water solidified instantly. A slight mist settled on the battlefield from the powerful attack, and as it slowly cleared the crowd gasped.

    Glalie hovered alone on the battlefield, and Magmortar was nowhere in sight. A tiny shape was visible under the surface, but it was unmoving, frozen solid.

    Defeated.

    “Magmortar is unable to battle!” the referee judged, raising a flag.

    “Incredible strategy!” the announcer shouted out to a stunned and near-silent crowd. “Glalie used Magmortar’s own attacks to weaken the ice, which it then shattered with a powerful Headbutt to send Magmortar into the one place it hates most; the water! It then froze the water solid to make sure it didn’t drown, thereby ensuring a victory for Ash! I’ve never seen anything like this folks!”

    “Magmortar, return,” Paul gritted. This time the beam of red light did not vanish, and the fire-type was called back into its Poke Ball. “I’ll get you for that,” he hissed under his breath, raising his eyes to meet Ash’s confident smile. “See how you like this! Mismagius; go!”

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    Ah, man, this is great already! Of course, you're such a great writer, I wouldn't have expected anything less ^_~ These are some excellent opening chapters -- I particularly liked the Glalie v. Magmortar match. Ash keeping Glalie on him was a surprise -- I wasn't expecting him to have any of his Hoenn pokemon with him. The nuances and strategy written in were excellent, and the battle flowed very smoothly. Too often I find poorly-written battle scenes, with jerky, robotic movements, and I can tell they're based heavily off of the game's turn-based system. This, on the other hand, was a smooth, coherent, and very natural motion of battle.

    Paul was done very well, too. His whole asshole attitude came through quite nicely, and that part when he was behind Ash as he was calling May was excellently written. You really portray Paul's character well.

    All I can say is, once again, great job. The only thing I could find wrong was that you wrote 'too' instead of 'two' at the beginning of the second chapter, when Scott (who was another pleasant surprise) was talking to Ash. ^_^ See ya for the next chapter!

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    Thanks for the review Emerald_Dragonite; glad to know that you're still enjoying my works. I tried to keep the teams relatively unusual compared to what most fans seem to expect will happen. There are surprises on both sides as to what the characters have, just to keep you on your toes and (hopefully) make it as interesting as possible. By the way, did anybody recognize Mismagius from when Paul caught Celebi in Final Challenge?

    Sorry (as usual) for the lengthy delay everyone. University hit hard and fast, and it took me longer than I expected to find time to write this. I'm updating quite a bit later on BMGf than on Fanfiction.net, and I've only written two more chapters on there so... It's coming along in bits and pieces, but relatively slowly at that.

    Anyways, get ready for a long (and still unfinished) battle, with some major surprises thrown in there too. I can't promise when the next update will be, but it will hopefully come relatively soon.

    Enjoy.

    Chapter Three: A Life or a Loss?


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    “So... he’s chosen a Mismagius,” Ash said to himself, feeling a little unsettled at the sudden twist. “I didn’t even know that he had one... I wonder what other Pokemon he has on him. I built my team based on what I’ve seen him with the most, but if he has any more surprises like Mismagius...” A grin stole across his face; he had the perfect counter set-up already. All it would take was timing.

    “Mismagius, he got the upper-hand last time with that Block; I won’t let that happen again!” Paul said. “Use Shadow Ball!”

    “Hold it back with Ice Beam, Glalie!” Ash countered. A thick dark orb formed in Mismagius’s mouth and shot towards Glalie; Glalie’s powerful Ice Beam charged towards it in turn, and the two attacks collided and exploded with a force that neither trainer had witnessed before; both Pokemon were sent reeling backwards in agony as the shockwaves passed through their bodies, and even Ash and Paul felt some discomfort as it hit them too.

    “Stop it now while it’s weak, Mismagius!” Paul roared. “Break through that smoke and use Mean Look!”

    “Yes!” Ash exultated, holding a Poke Ball out in each hand. “Glalie, return! Gallade, I choose you!” In the quickest change he had ever done, Ash simultaneously recalled his ice-type and sent out the powerful psychic-fighter. The red light from Glalie’s Poke Ball enveloped and retrieved it at the exact instant that Mismagius broke through the explosion’s smoke. Unable to halt the attack, Mismagius launched the Mean Look, and Gallade’s emerging body briefly glowed purple. Seeming more irritated than concerned at the attack, Gallade scratched its chest briefly with the tip of one blade before focusing any attention on his opponent.

    “Bad move, Ash!” Paul shouted across the field. “Glalie may have been hurt, but Gallade is weak to ghost-types; you’ve just handed me another advantage!”

    “There’s no weakness if the moves don’t hit,” Ash countered. “Gallade, use Slash!”

    “Errrrr-LADE!” the psychic-type roared, charging towards Mismagius; the crowd gasped as both of Gallade’s blades hyper-extended to reach twice their normal length, the green blade-edges shining with the sharpness.

    “Your Gallade’s too slow on that ice; it doesn’t have any grip,” Paul observed. “Use Aerial Ace!” he ordered, and Mismagius shot straight towards Gallade, the air seeming to hiss with the speed. Ash grinned.

    “Block it and use Night Slash!” he ordered. Gallade’s eye’s gleamed and it swept one of the blades straight down; the Slash attack collided with the Aerial Ace, and while it had no direct effect on Mismagius it was more than enough to halt the flying-type move. Paul gaped, surprised again as Gallade then swung down its other arm, this one gleaming with darkest black. Impossibly, Gallade’s blade seemed to curve in midair as it descended before slashing straight into the ghost-type’s head. Mismagius let out a cry of pain and fell to the ice.

    "You see, Paul, Gallade may not have much grip on the ice, but that doesn't affect the speed of its blades!"

    “Get up!” Paul shouted. “Take it down a peg with Pain Split!”

    “Mahge...” the ghost-type hissed, raising its glowing blue eyes as it sought to meet Gallade’s face.

    “Teleport!” Ash retaliated.

    “Er!” Gallade nodded, crossing its now normal-sized arms and stepping backwards in one swift motion. As Mismagius looked towards it, Gallade closed its eyes and vanished.

    “I told you, Paul!” Ash shouted as Gallade reappeared, vanished, reappeared, and vanished again, making Mismagius exceedingly dizzy as it tried to keep up with the rapid-fire Teleports. “Your advantage means nothing if the attacks don’t hit! Gallade, finish it with a dual Leaf Blade and Night Slash!”

    “Mismagius, get out of there!” Paul shouted. The ghost type-tried to move out the way, but to no avail. Gallade teleported to Mismagius’s side and swept a glowing green arm downwards before teleporting and reappearing on the Pokemon’s other side while delivering a devastating Night Slash to the injured Pokemon. Gallade’s speed in teleporting and launching the attacks was so great that it seemed to all who viewed it that the two attacks hit at exactly the same time from opposite directions. The ghost-type had no chance.

    “Mismagius is unable to battle!” the referee ruled, raising one of his flags.

    “Incredible again!” the commentator screamed, near delirious with excitement. “Gallade used Teleport to launch two attacks almost simultaneously! Folks, we are looking at a rout in this match! I don’t think anything can stand against Ketchum today!”

    “There’s one who can and will,” Paul growled, recalling Mismagius without commenting towards the defeated Pokemon. “Time to turn one of his earlier attacks against him; Torterra, I choose you!” As one the crowd stood in disbelief as the massive Continent Pokemon emerged onto the ice, roaring into the sky.

    “I don’t get it,” Dawn whispered to Brock. “Why would he choose Torterra now?”

    “I don’t know,” Brock answered in a low voice. “It just doesn’t make any sense! I can see Paul wanting to make a comeback in a big way with Torterra and taking away all of Ash’s momentum, but that thing weighs almost 700 pounds! How is it possible for Torterra to battle without breaking the ice?”

    “Because Ash made it that way,” Scott answered; as per his custom, he sat calmly in his seat while Brock and Dawn were both pressed up against the railing.

    “He made it that way?” Dawn repeated, confused. “I don’t get it.”

    “Think back to the first match, between Glalie and Magmortar,” Scott answered. “Ash finished that battle off by directing Glalie’s Sheer Cold attack into the ice. Now, Sheer Cold is one of the most powerful attacks there is; it’s so powerful that it will knock out any Pokemon it hits, with the possible exception of a legendary Pokemon of course. Unfortunately it’s also not very accurate, which is why it’s so rarely used. But Ash was guaranteed perfect accuracy in freezing the water; all of the water. The field they’re battling on now is nothing more than a 20-foot thick ice cube; and something that big takes an awfully long time to melt.”

    “Of course,” Brock realized. “Paul’s using Ash’s own Sheer Cold against him by bringing out his strongest – and heaviest – Pokemon to battle, because he knows that the ice won’t crack.

    “Right,” Scott nodded, “and if Paul knows that, you can bet Ash does too.”

    “Gallade, return!” they heard Ash call, and Brock and Dawn turned back to the battle in time to see the psychic-type recalled to his Poke Ball. “Glalie, come on out!” he added, sending the ice-type out for the second time.

    “Glalie again?” Dawn wondered.

    “It makes sense,” Brock said. “Glalie’s an Ice-type, and Torterra has both grass and ground characteristics; it’s quadrupally weak to that type.”

    “But Glalie’s already been through one tough battle,” Scott added. “If this Torterra really is Paul’s strongest Pokemon, Ash is in for a very rough time.”

    “Ice Beam!” Ash shouted, and Glalie shot the familiar jagged beam towards Torterra.

    “Razor Leaf,” Paul said, sounding almost bored. A barrage of leaves shot from the tree on Torterra’s back and met the Ice Beam in mid-air; but rather than both attacks cancelling each other out, the Razor Leaf broke right through Glalie’s attack. The ice-type roared in pain as the Razor Leaf smashed into its body, and it dropped out of the air with a thud.

    “Glalie!” Ash shouted in shock.

    “Glalie is unable to battle!” the referee shouted, raising the other flag for the first time that match.

    “You did a great job, Glalie,” Ash said tenderly as he recalled the beaten ice-type. “Thanks for all that hard work against Magmortar.” He eyed the gigantic Torterra carefully. “This won’t be easy, but I know you’re best for this job,” he muttered, reaching towards his belt. “Staraptor, I choose you!”

    “Starr raptor!” the flying-type shrieked as it burst from the Poke Ball; the strong and sharp crest overhanging Staraptor’s eyes shone in the sunlight, and Paul’s Torterra unwittingly took a step backwards at the dangerous appearance.

    “Staraptor makes sense,” Brock said.

    “It’s got the advantage over Torterra because of its flying-type, right?” Dawn asked.

    “Partly,” Brock answered. “Flying-type moves are super-effective against grass-types, and Torterra can’t take any advantage of its ground-type because those moves will do nothing against Staraptor. But Staraptor also has a huge advantage in its speed and manoeuvrability. I think Ash made the right choice here.”

    “But Torterra won’t go down without a fight,” Scott added. “Look at the size of it; a Pokemon that big doesn’t go down easily in a fight. It has defence that Ash’s team can only dream of, and Paul knows it. He’s more likely to take a defensive role in this battle, forcing Ash to go on the attack. And that will wear Staraptor down quickly. If Ash wants to take Torterra down, he’s got to do it in the first few moves of this battle.”

    “Staraptor, gain some altitude and spiral down into an Aerial Ace!” Ash shouted.

    “Torterra, stand your ground!” Paul commanded. “When Staraptor gets in close, hit it with a Leech Seed!” Staraptor flapped it’s wings hard, gaining several feet in height before dropping in a steep dive towards Torterra, the wind visible as it streamed passed the flying-type’s body. Torterra stood motionless, waiting, waiting, waiting...

    “Now!” Paul shouted, and a single seed erupted from the tree on Torterra’s back, heading directly towards Staraptor. But the flying-type was quicker than both Paul and Torterra anticipated. It twisted, the Leech Seed soaring past harmlessly, before ramming at full speed into Torterra’s massive girth. Torterra groaned slightly at the impact as Brock and Dawn exultated in the stands, but Ash immediately saw that something was very wrong. Staraptor appeared to have taken more damage from the attack than Torterra had, and it lay in a ruffled heap on the ground, a dazed expression on its face.

    “No way,” Ash gasped. “That’s impossible!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Brock noticed Staraptor on the ground and the cheer died from his mouth. “That’s not good,” he said, his voice rising as he realized what it meant. “That’s not good at all.”

    “What’s not good?” Dawn asked, confused.

    “Staraptor took most of the damage from the attack, but Torterra barely moved to avoid it!” Brock shouted, his voice beginning to reach a frenzy pitch. “The move should have been super-effective, but it didn’t do a thing! There’s no way that Paul’s Torterra can have such high defences!”

    “What do your eyes tell you?” Scott asked. “Paul’s raised that Pokemon so that it would play to its own natural strengths in battle. Physical attacks won’t touch it; it’ll just shrug them off like nothing happened.”

    “But it lost to Cynthia’s Garchomp in one move, and that was physical hit!” Dawn said, panicking. “How can it stand a super-effective hit like that?”

    “The real question is, what does that tell you about Ash’s preparedness for the Elite Four challenge?” Scott asked rhetorically.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Staraptor, you can shake it off!” Ash pleaded. “Get up!” Paul grinned.

    “Looks like it’s over already,” he said. “Torterra, finish it off now with your strongest attack! Wood Hammer!” Torterra reared back its head, roared, and began charging towards the stunned Staraptor. The distance between the two was small, but Torterra’s initial speed on the ice was so slow that it may as well have been the length of three full battlefields. Nonetheless, Ash knew that if Torterra were to get up to full speed and the attack were to hit...

    “Staraptor, move!” he screamed. Staraptor’s eyes snapped wide in clarity at its trainer’s call, and it twisted to look back at Ash.

    I said move!” Ash roared. Staraptor looked confused for a moment then, feeling the vibrations beneath its tail feathers, turned and dropped its beak open in shock. Torterra was almost upon it, and the sight of the massive Pokemon almost froze Staraptor in place. Almost. With a screech it flapped its mighty wings once, twice, thrice. Torterra skidded across the spot where Staraptor had been, but the flying-type was safe in the air.

    “Great work, Staraptor!” Ash called happily.

    “Bullet Seed!” Paul shouted. The sudden attack caught both Ash and Staraptor by surprise. A hail of luminescent green seeds poured from Torterra’s mouth and shot skywards, smashing into Staraptor with devastating force. Staraptor screeched in the air as the attack hit its mark; it tried its utmost to knock the Bullet Seed away with its wings, but the power of Torterra’s attack was too much. The flying-type crumpled and spiralled downwards. Paul grinned in satisfaction.

    “It’s over,” he declared.

    “Not yet!” Ash retorted. “Go, Quick Attack into Aerial Ace!” The tumbling Staraptor twisted out of the free-fall and, in an incredible burst of speed, charged head-on for Torterra. The very air was visible as it streamed over the wings before a mini-cyclone formed around the Pokemon’s body as the speed of the Quick Attack propelled it into an Aerial Ace.

    “Finish this like you did Glalie!” Paul ordered. “Razor Leaf now!” A cloud of leaves burst out of the tree on Torterra’s back, the honed edges causing the air to hiss as they flew.

    “Spin!” Ash shouted and, in what had become his team’s standard dodging method, Staraptor rotated its body at high speed into a spin, causing the leaves to deflect harmlessly around the Pokemon. But the move also had a second - and unintended - side effect.

    The Aerial Ace, already resembling a mini-cyclone, had its power greatly amplified by the spin. Staraptor’s mass was firmly established as the centre of gravity as it – and the air around it – rotated at high speed. The result was even more speed and power behind the attack, and the cyclonic shape of the attack became a full-fledged miniature tornado. People grabbed desperately at their hats, purses, food, drink, and betting slips as the force of the rapidly moving storm drew both air and power from the grandstands.

    “Amazing!” Brock shouted above the volume of the wind. “He’s turned a physical attack into a special attack! Staraptor’s beak won’t hit Torterra, the tornado will!”

    “What a move!” Dawn breathed.

    “Crunch!” Paul shouted desperately from the field as a last resort, hoping to negate some of the damage. Torterra’s jaws lunged upwards towards the cyclone and snapped shut with vicious force on nothing. The crowd gasped collectively as, inches from impact, the cyclone and Staraptor vanished from view.

    With a tremendous roar and a blast of wind that stung every person’s eyes, there was an explosion from on the field. Torterra roared in pain as, impossibly, it was flung into several feet backwards into the air, landing heavily on its back before rolling once more to come to rest on its stomach. Staraptor stood in the midst of the ice, seemingly unable to move as the crowd waited collectively, awestruck at what they had witnessed.

    “You forgot the true power of an Aerial Ace, Paul,” Ash said expressionlessly. “When a Pokemon correctly uses Aerial Ace, its speed reached a point where it vanishes before impact. It then reappears moments later and hits the opponent in a different place than the one it was aiming for. And of course, in this case the tornado was a part of the attack, so it vanished too.” Paul merely chuckled in response as Torterra clambered slowly to its feet.

    “It may have done more damage than a real Aerial Ace,” he responded, “but Torterra is more than strong enough to withstand any attack like that. But if your Pokemon can’t even deal with the strength of their own attacks...” Ash frowned, puzzled by the remark.

    “Your Torterra can’t stand strong forever,” he retorted. “Staraptor, into the air and use Wing Attack!” The crowd watched breathlessly, and then mutters began to spring forth as Staraptor remained entirely motionless. “Staraptor?” Ash called. “Staraptor!

    A slight breeze came across into the stadium, ruffling Staraptor’s feathers. The flying-type did not even try to remain standing as the air current buffeted it slightly to one side. The Pokemon keeled over, a comically surprised expression frozen on its face from when it had impacted.

    “Staraptor is unable to battle!” the referee shouted. “This match is tied at 2 down apiece!”

    “Staraptor!” Ash shouted, foregoing the usual Poke Ball recall to run down onto the pitch instead. A murmur sprang from the crowd at the sight of him sliding across the ice.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Is Staraptor going to be okay?” Dawn asked nervously.

    “It’ll be fine,” Brock reassured her. “It’s incredibly rare, but Pokemon do sometimes faint on their feet. Ash’s Torkoal did once before in a Frontier match.”

    “I remember that,” Scott nodded. “A Pokemon is usually hit in motion, so its centre of gravity is almost never balanced out. But on some occasions that is the case, so the Pokemon is knocked out but doesn’t collapse. That’s what confuses the trainer, because they can’t see their Pokemon’s eyes and they assume that if it’s standing, it’s okay to go on.”

    “See,” Brock added, pointing Dawn back to the field. “Staraptor’s woken up now, and Ash has called it back. It’s nothing a trip to the Pokemon Centre won’t fix later.”

    “But for now, the match is still going on,” Scott said. “That ingenious Aerial Ace may have done a lot more damage to Torterra than the first attempt, but nowhere near enough to take it out. The key to this match is Torterra. Ash was up 2-0, and he could go down 3-2 if he isn’t careful in this next selection. He has to beat Torterra now; if he doesn’t, this match is as good as over.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash stood in the centre of the battlefield a moment before returning to his trainer’s box. His gaze swept the crowd and locked onto where he knew Scott’s private box was located. Though the sun was in his eyes and he could not see his friends, he gave a nod to reassure them before trudging back.

    “Who’s your next choice, Ash?” Paul taunted. “Is it a Pokemon that doesn’t actually hurt itself when it battles?”

    “It’s one who isn’t afraid to take pain so long as it dishes out even more!” Ash charged back. “Gallade, let’s go!”

    “Err!” Gallade called, landing on the ice for the second time that day. The fierce warrior sprung into a swift salute as it straightened up; it would have seemed a wholly ridiculous gesture were it not for the symbolism it exuded. For a Gallade to salute as it took to the battlefield... it meant that it had only undying loyalty for its trainer. The crowd knew that this Gallade would not hesitate to die for its trainer if the need arose. What had been a relatively jovial atmosphere died away completely.

    Gallade had been out before, but it had not shown this kind of gesture then. This was more than just a show of trust and loyalty: it was a sign of solidarity and determination. It was the greatest gesture of support Ash could have from his Pokemon, and it came at a time he needed it most.

    “Torterra, shut it down now! Earthquake!” Paul shouted.

    “Jump to dodge!” Ash retaliated. Paul grinned as Gallade leapt high, causing Torterra’s attack to miss.

    “Bullet Seed!” he shouted, smug in the knowledge that Gallade could not dodge while it was in the air.

    “Slash them back!” Ash ordered, sweeping his arm out unintentionally.

    “Laaade!” Gallade roared as Torterra’s attack shot towards it. The warrior extended both of its blades and slashed furiously against the attack. The speed of the strikes was so swift that the blades could not even be seen; one cut the seeds in half and the other sent them straight back to Torterra before repeating the motions. Torterra took an involuntary step backwards as its own attack rebounded on its head. Gallade, meanwhile, sliced at the last remnant of the attack, did a lazy back flip in the air, and landed perfectly on its feet in exactly the same location it had taken off, blades crossed across its chest.

    "Now use Leaf Blade!" Ash yelled, and Gallade charged forwards. Paul wasn't expecting such a quick landing and attack, and before he could order a countermove the Leaf Blade had slammed across Torterra's head, driving the grass-type heavily into the ice. The second blade slashed horizontally into the side of Torterra's head, and the massive Pokemon moaned at the result of two head-shots in a row. Gallade skittered backwards, once again resuming his previous position and location on the ice.

    Paul gritted his teeth angrily. “If that’s the way you want to play...” he growled. “Torterra! Seed Bomb into Sand Tomb!” Fear replaced the exultation in Ash’s face.

    “Dodge that!” he shouted as large green clusters began showering out of the tree on Torterra’s back, impacting all around the Psychic-type. Gallade ran, but the attack was so densely spread that there was no place to run to. One grazed its side, another exploded at its feet, and a third smashed into its chest, sending Gallade flying backwards with a scream of pain as it exploded at that close range. Ash opened his mouth to shout a warning about the quickly oncoming wall, but, against all the laws of nature, a massive pile of sand erupted from the ice and enveloped the psychic-type. Gallade struggled against it, to be sure, but it was held too tightly to move.

    “Finish it,” Paul said expressionlessly. “Use Earthquake.”

    “Torrrr!” Torterra roared, jumping a few inches off the ground and landing with a massive impact. A great crack rent the air as the ice split under the weight of Torterra’s body smashing into it. Gouges ripped across the field, faster than the Earthquake could move. The Sand Tomb holding Gallade in place collapsed as Torterra lost control over the attack, and the loyal fighter hit the ground and rolled to the side just in time to avoid falling into a fissure that opened seconds later.

    Both Pokemon held their ground nervously as the ice field continued to disintegrate into chunks; deep and dangerous fissures ran across the battlefield, and several chunks of ice collapsed completely before falling into the depths. Almost imperceptible to Gallade’s keen ears – and certainly not heard by Torterra or any of the humans – were shrieks of fright from the engineers far below who controlled the battlefield rotation as they dodged the shards that fell around them.

    “Folks, it would appear that the battlefield has sustained some serious damage,” the commentator announced. “Torterra’s weight was too much for that ice in the end.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dawn was speechless at the sight of the battlefield. Huge holes were missing in the ice, and deep chasms separated the remaining chunks. A smack on the back of her head quickly returned her to awareness, however.

    “Hey!” she shouted, rounding on the person behind her. “What was that for?” A distraught Mr. Goodshow halted his headlong run, wringing his hands and a panicked expression on his face.

    “Sorry, I didn’t mean to!” he said, dancing slightly on the spot. “But that ice is unstable! I’ve got to get down to the commentary box immediately and stop the match! If there’s any more battling on that ice, it could be dangerous for the Pokemon who are doing it! Not to mention all the engineers controlling it from below! I have to get down there now and stop the match!” Without another word he dashed off, still wringing his hands.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Torterra stood nervously on the largest chunk of ice. It was unable to move, not even to shift its head from side to side. A spider web of cracks was showing beneath its feet, a danger Paul could not see. It was afraid to do anything but stay in place, and even that was nerve-wracking beyond belief. The smaller and lighter Gallade was not quite as worried. Unlike Torterra it could run and jump, meaning that it could move to another chunk if it had to. Its speed would be its saving grace, and the possibility of falling into a chasm was almost laughable to it.

    “Torterra, Razor Leaf!” Paul shouted. A frown grew across his face when Torterra did not move. “I said use Razor Leaf! Do it now!” he roared. Torterra dared to shake its head and let out a little whimper, a surprising sound to hear from such a large and formidable Pokemon.

    “Gallade, use Night Slash!” Ash said, hesitating only a moment before issuing the command. Gallade took off at a run and leapt across a chasm towards Torterra. It raised its extended blades, ready to swing them down...

    And pivoted away to a different chunk of ice instead, reaching one blade far to the side where it dug into the chunk before using its momentum to swing around in the air and land lightly on its feet.

    “Err,” Gallade said, looking at Ash imploringly as it shook its head and crossed its blades over its chest. The crowd gasped and a puzzled Ash followed Gallade’s gaze towards Torterra. It struck him like a bolt of lightning, and he knew instantly why Gallade had not attacked.

    He had not seen it before because Gallade was in the way, but a metre under Torterra’s feet was a Magmortar-shaped cavity in the ice. A thin but jagged crack was visible, spreading up from the cavity towards the ice directly under Torterra’s feet, and when he squinted he was able to make out the faintest sign of the spider webbing. He sighed regretfully and shook his head. It was against both his and Gallade’s nature, but he knew what he had to do; there was no alternative.

    He threw one hand into the air, a hand that clenched a white towel which he dropped over the side of the trainer’s box and onto the ice. “I retire Gallade from the match!” he shouted with as much strength and conviction as he could muster. A roar of anger and dismay sprang from the crowd as he recalled the seemingly able-bodied and healthy Gallade before turning away from the battlefield, leaving the trainer’s box, and walking slowly into the tunnel that led towards his training room. Angry jeers followed him as he left the battle, drowning out even the commentator as he announced that as Ash had lost three Pokemon, there would be a 15-minute break while the battlefield was changed. He didn’t even look back to see a thoroughly confused Paul recall a very relieved Torterra.

    He slumped against the wall, unwilling to enter the room where he knew Brock and Dawn would be waiting for him. Instead he silently called Gallade back out and simply looked the Pokemon in the eyes. It struck Ash then, as he looked at his Pokemon, how even though Gallade was a little shorter, how much more powerful he was.

    “What makes you do it?” Ash asked aloud, gently feeling the sharpness of Gallade’s blade. “The strength you have... the speed... Pokemon could rule the planet and destroy the human race if they wanted to. Why do you submit yourselves to those cramped little Poke Balls and get beaten up when we order you to battle. We force you to fight, and we don’t feel any of your pain. Why do you do it?” Gallade merely looked sorrowfully at him.

    “Excuse me,” a vibrant woman said simpering, surprising the life out of Ash at her sudden appearance alongside her familiar crew of three. “Jessalina here. I know that trainers aren’t usually interviewed until after the match, but we’re all so surprised at the stunt you just pulled in retiring Gallade when it’s still got plenty of fight left. We’re all wondering if you could possibly explain why you made such a move? Keep in mind that this interview is being broadcast live into the Stadium and on international television.”

    “There really isn’t much to tell,” Ash said resignedly. Even from down here he could hear the boos. “That Earthquake was just a really dangerous move to try and pull off, especially with Torterra’s weight. I was as surprised as anyone else when Gallade stopped the attack. I knew that Gallade wouldn’t just disobey me without a reason, so I tried to see what may have been wrong.”

    “And what was that?” Jessalina pressed.

    “Remember how Magmortar was frozen in the ice?” Ash asked.

    “Yes...”

    “Well, when Magmortar was recalled there wasn’t anything to take its place,” Ash explained. “There was just an empty cavity in the ice, and Torterra was standing above that. When it used the Earthquake, the ice cracked because there was nothing to hold it up. So the ice just shattered away. Most of it happened in the direction away from Torterra, but it’s a heavy Pokemon. The ice didn’t shatter underneath it, but it was really badly cracked; if Gallade had landed on it or driven Torterra into it, it would have broken for sure and Torterra would have fallen into the crevasse. I’m guessing that’s the reason why Torterra didn’t obey Paul’s attack either; it didn’t want to make the ice even more unstable,” he added.

    “So that’s why Gallade didn’t attack, but why did you retire it instead of sending out a different Pokemon?” she asked.

    “It wouldn’t have made a difference,” Ash said. “If I’d sent out a different Pokemon, Torterra would have still been in danger. I retired Gallade because there was no other choice. I did it because I knew it would be my third retirement, and there’d be a break while the field was changed or repaired. It was the only thing I could do.”

    “But why..?” Jessalina began before Ash interrupted.

    “Look,” he said, “Torterra’s life was in danger. I did the only thing I could to save it. And I don’t know about you, but when it comes down to losing a match or killing a Pokemon, I’ll take the loss every time. Simple as that.”

    “Why do you think Paul didn’t recall Torterra instead?” Jessalina asked, and though Ash’s every fibre wanted to scream ‘because that’s the kind of guy he is’, he answered instead by saying:

    “I don’t know. I guess he couldn’t see the cracks in the ice because of Torterra’s size.”

    “Well there you have it folks,” Jessalina said brightly as she turned back to the camera, “an explanation from Ash Ketchum for his seemingly bizarre retirement of Glalie. Now, we still have ten minutes left in this intermission so why don’t we take a look at the replays to see if his explanation holds true. Dan, back to you.”

    “And cut!” Jameson said brightly as Ash turned and walked deeper into the tunnel towards his room. “Brilliant as ever, Jessi – I mean Jessalina!”

    “Oh, thanks!” she said with a laugh. “It’s all down to my cha...” Ash tuned them out as he moved further away, Pikachu and Gallade in his wake. Although he was no longer looking at the psychic-type, if he had he would have seen something curious. Gallade’s eyes shone brightly, and there was an unspoken answer in there to Ash’s earlier question.

    Why, Master? Because of moments like that, Gallade’s eyes seemed to say.

  8. #8
    Clarion of Revelations Feliciano's Avatar Social Media Editor
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    Ash + Gallade = WIN.

    ^_^

    Onto a serious review, now...

    I am continuously stunned at your ability to write battle scenes. The only part I was really unhappy with was Staraptor's battle; it really didn't seem to do a whole lot. I mean, don't get me wrong, the Aerial Ace tornado maneuver was particularly inspired. But all it did was beat itself up, while only launching two attacks. One was unsuccessful, and the other, while highly effective, did not manage to finish the job and ended up fainting Staraptor instead. Possibly greater use of it's Intimidate ability could have been utilized?

    Interesting touch with the Gallade saluting as he comes out of the pokeball, and the significance behind the gesture. I really liked that.

    I confess, I sorta expected Team Rocket to do more than just their interview spiel. Nevertheless, Ash's interview had to have been one of my favorite parts of the chapter. I've always loved the way you write his character, especially in situations like that, where he still has to keep face even while he would love to blow up and snap at whomever's annoying him.

    Yet another great job. Keep it up. ^_^
    ~ 3DS Friend Code: 5300-9399-4530~

    Heart of Crystal - a Crystal Nuzlocke challenge story
    "He had it comin'! He had it comin'! He only had himself to blame! If you'd've been there, if you'd've seen it, I bet you you would have done the same!"

  9. #9
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Thanks for the review Emerald_Dragonite! I love the idea of Ash wth a Gallade; it seems to fit him much better than a Riolu does IMO!

    Well, this likely going to be my final update for a little while; party because of impending projects and exams, and partly because I'm not sure where I want to go after this battle ; I have some vague ideas, but nothing concrete. Most of the ideas I've come up with recently are for the sequel to Final Challenge (so not this story!) Then again, I'm starting to think that maybe I really HAVE jumped the shark with this one. I haven't had a whole lot of notice on here, in terms of reviews or views. Meanwhile, Final Challenge just scraped past the 50 000 view mark on Fanfiction.net. I knew nothing I'd write could live up to Final Challenge, but I didn't expect this kind of discrepancy. It's kinda disheartening. Then again, maybe it's the massively long battles. So far that's what it's mostly been about, isn't it?

    Well I honestly didn't expect this battle to take so long, but I just haven't been able to make it any shorter. We'll soon get into a bit more meaty stuff, but for now... Oh, and please keep in mind what I said in the introduction to the first chapter; the purpose of this story is to explain some of the events that occurred in Final Challenge. Road to the Championship isn't a standalone story, per se, but more of a collection of shorter stories. They'll (mostly) be interlinked to an extent, but the real connecting story is, of course, Final Challenge. Just think of it as the anime, only focusing on every character, not just Ash. And I promise we'll get into that soon enough.

    But for now, enjoy...

    Chapter Four: The Sweetest Revenge


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    “And we return to the second half of the match, this one being fought on a rock-field!” the commentator announced as the rock battlefield rose up from the subterranean depths to take the place of the destroyed ice field. “Despite a strong start, Ash Ketchum is now down 3-2 against Paul.

    “Now, in regards to the last match, our judges have reviewed what occurred and verified Ketchum’s claims that the ice underneath Torterra was about to shatter. In a noble move Ketchum retired his Gallade from the match, potentially saving his opponent’s Pokemon from a serious fall. However, despite protests from many of you fans who have called in demanding that Gallade be restored to Ketchum’s active team, the judge’s have ruled that by throwing in the towel Gallade’s right to compete was forfeited. So, we resume this match with Ketchum down 3-2. Can he recover from losing three Pokemon in a row? Only time will tell! You may both select your Pokemon!”

    “Buizel, I choose you!” Ash shouted, making the first move and sending out the water-type.

    “Buizel?” Paul snorted. “I thought you were going to have strong Pokemon on your team. Evolved Pokemon. Your Buizel won’t be out here for very long. Froslass, let’s go!”

    “Frrrr...” the ice-type murmured as it burst from Paul’s Poke Ball, shaking its head and causing its arms to whirl slowly around its head. There were murmurs from the crowd at its beauty, and Froslass turned in a slow circle, hovering on the spot.

    “So, it’s Buizel vs. Froslass!” the commentator shouted. “Froslass and Glalie both evolve from Snorunt, and we know how Glalie’s matches went! Folks, I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that this battle is going to be one to remember!”

    “Buoy buoy,” Buizel grinned, beckoning Froslass forwards with one paw.

    “Careful, Buizel,” Ash cautioned, his eyes not leaving Paul’s Froslass. “It may look beautiful and delicate, but it’s one of the most dangerous Pokemon there is. Don’t get overconfident.”

    “Buoy buoy,” Buizel insisted, its eyes lighting up in delight at this tidbit of information as it beckoned Froslass forward even more eagerly.

    “Folks, would you all look at Buizel!” the commentator called. “I can’t remember the last time I saw a Pokemon raring to go so much, and an unevolved one at that!”

    “Begin!” the referee shouted, raising both flags into the air.

    “Froslass, use Confuse Ray!” Paul ordered.

    “Close your eyes, Buizel!” Ash countered.

    “Bad move, Ash!” Paul shouted. “Froslass, charge in there with a Signal Beam!”

    “SonicBoom!” Ash retaliated. Froslass unleashed a blast of purple light from its eyes, and Buizel promptly closed its eyes to avoid becoming confused. Using the Confuse Ray as cover, Froslass began moving towards the water-type and shot a dual red-green beam from its mouth. Buizel stood motionless until its keen ears detected the slight hiss in the air. With lightning speed, the water-type leaped upwards and twisted its tail several times, sending a barrage of SonicBooms towards the Signal Beam. The two attacks burst apart on impact, and the Confuse Ray faded as Froslass lost concentration.

    “Buoy,” Buizel grinned, landing neatly and beckoning for more.

    “What is with this Buizel?” Paul wondered aloud before ordering the next move. “Shadow Ball!”

    “Use Aqua Jet!” Ash countered, and Buizel enveloped itself in a torrent of water before charging straight for Froslass, narrowly dodging the Shadow Ball.

    “Freeze it in place with an Ice Beam!” Paul shouted.

    “Charge right for it and spin!” Ash ordered, clenching his hands in victory.

    “What are you doing, are you trying to lose?” Paul shouted across the field as thin icy tendrils erupted from Froslass’s mouth.

    “Are you?” Ash called back, a smile on his face. It struck Paul then. The memory, almost forgotten in all the travelling he had done since that time. Leaving a Pokemon Centre and noticing Ash participating in a Contest on TV, his spinning Buizel frozen into a spear of ice as it collided with a dumbstruck Lanturn...

    Stop!” he roared, but it was too late. It was the worst command he’d ever given. Froslass turned towards him quizzically, not noticing as Buizel’s Aqua Jet froze, as the spinning motion made Buizel the centre of gravity and gave it perfect control, as the Ice Aqua Jet headed directly for it, acting as both a perfect weapon and an impenetrable defensive cocoon.

    Move!” Paul shouted, and Froslass turned back to the action to see what she was supposed to be moving away from. The Ice Aqua Jet smashed directly under Froslass’s chin, driving the ghost type backwards. There was a sickening crack as Froslass ploughed through a massive boulder head first, erupting from the other end in a shower of broken rock before hitting a second and falling to the ground.

    Even Ash was stunned at the result; the Ice Aqua Jet had never caused something like that to happen before... a head-first impact in battle was one thing, but at a speed where it went through one boulder and collided with a second...

    Buizel seemed a bit shaken by what had happened too. In a rare gesture of concern for its opponent’s state, the water-type lifted the fallen ice-type’s head and tried to carry the Pokemon towards Paul. Grunting and turning away, Paul recalled Froslass and, instead of beckoning over Nurse Joy, pocketed the Poke Ball. Murmurs of disgust sprung up from the crowd, but Paul ignored them.

    “Time to pay you back for that move,” he snarled. “Torterra! Let’s go!” The grass-type erupted from the Poke Ball, landing heavily on the ground and knocking Buizel onto it’s backside at the impact.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Torterra again?” Dawn asked in surprise.

    “Well, it does have an advantage against Buizel; not that it needed it,” Scott replied. “My guess is that Paul is angry about that last loss, but not for the right reasons. Instead of being mad about Buizel’s ingenious attack, he’s more frustrated with the fact that Buizel showed him and Froslass up so easily. The best way to remove a streak is to stop that streak from happening, so Paul’s throwing everything he’s got at Ash”

    “Torterra has to be at least a little tired by now,” Brock observed. “It’s effectively taken down three of Ash’s Pokemon, and Buizel is a scrappy fighter. I think there may still be a chance.”

    “We’ll have to wait and see,” Scott answered.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Let’s see...” Ash muttered. “Torterra’s a grass type, but it’s part ground as well. That means it’ll be able to use the field better than Buizel. But if Buizel gets in a few hits, we could get lucky... Buizel!” he shouted.

    “Buoy?”

    “Aim for the brown on its body! It’s part ground!”

    “Buoy!” Buizel nodded, turning to Torterra with an eager look on its face.

    “Use Water Gun!” Ash shouted, and Buizel spewed a powerful jet of liquid towards Torterra.

    “Please,” Paul snorted. “Torterra, Withdraw!” Torterra smiled and hunkered down on the ground, protecting the vulnerable parts of its body from the torrent of water. The attack instead splashed across Torterra’s head, and it shook the water off easily.

    “Aqua Jet!” Ash yelled, and Buizel once again enveloped itself in water and charged head-first towards Torterra.

    “Break it apart with Razor Leaf!” Paul shouted.

    “Avoid that with another spin!” Ash countered.

    “Frenzy Plant!” Paul yelled. Buizel moved in close to Torterra, beginning to spin as the Razor Leaf shot towards it; the attack was either deflected or contained within Buizel’s charge, but a massive series of thick, thorny vines erupted from the ground. Buizel somehow managed to dodge every one of them as they came up, but the water-type was unable to glance behind and see them. The Frenzy Plant’s vines twisted and flew towards the small of Buizel’s back.

    “Pull up!” Ash shouted at the last possible second. Buizel, who was feet away from Torterra strained its back and shot skywards. Half of the vines followed the sudden vertical climb, but the other half smashed into Torterra’s shell. Torterra let out a roar of pain at the impact and staggered backwards, but its scream was not as loud as Buizel’s. The vines that had followed the vertical lunge wrapped themselves together into one massive vine and collided with the Aqua Jet, breaking it apart effortlessly and sending Buizel to the ground.

    “Buizel!” Ash shouted in horror.

    “Buizel is unable to battle!” the referee ruled. Ash wordlessly recalled Buizel into his Poke Ball and silently pressed his lips against it. He pocketed it and sighed, lowering his eyes. Glalie... Staraptor... Gallade... Buizel... Torterra had beaten all of them, and now he had only two Pokemon left to deal with Paul’s remaining three.

    “Do your best,” he whispered, raising his fifth Poke Ball. “Monferno, I choose you!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Monferno?” Dawn asked. “He chose Monferno? I can’t believe it.”

    “Can’t believe what?” Scott asked.

    “Monferno used to belong to Paul,” Brock explained. “He caught it as a Chimchar, but released it when it didn’t live up to his expectations. It chose to go with Ash instead of back into the wild, but it’s a surprising choice.”

    “Not as surprising as you might think,” Scott said slowly. “Sounds to me like Paul gave Monferno a real rough ride. I have a hunch that it will want some payback. This could be Ash’s move of the match.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Monferno?” Paul chuckled. “That pathetic thing? And here I thought you were going to use a real Pokemon. Just throw in the towel again; it’ll make it easier on you.” Ash sighed and shook his head.

    “You’ve still got a lot to learn about Pokemon, Paul,” he replied. “You don’t know the true strength that friendship brings out. Monferno, show it to him!”

    “Frrrr!” Monferno roared, beating its chest briefly before its whole body was enveloped by a blinding white light.

    “No... no way,” Paul gasped as Monferno’s stature began to grow, as the flame on its tail migrated to the back of its head, as gauntlets appeared on its wrists, shoulders, chest, and knees. Powerfully compact muscles grew in place, and its body became tough and lithe as thick fur spread across its body. The light vanished, and Monferno was no more. In its place was...

    “Infernape,” Paul breathed.

    “Infernape,” Ash agreed, not a trace of levity on his face. Hard anger lined his eyes as he thought back to the treatment Paul had put Infernape as a Chimchar under, and the moment that it had been released. Looking at Infernape’s taut muscles, he knew that the fire-type was remembering the same thing. “This is it, Paul,” Ash said. “The match starts now. Are you ready to fight for the Championship?”

    “I’m ready to win!” Paul snapped back. “Torterra, Infernape may be a fire-type but it’s weak to your ground moves! Use Earthquake!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    May yawned and rolled over in her bed in the Pokemon Centre. A slight frown crossed over her sleepy face as she grasped for something that she couldn’t quite identify. Her pillow? She could feel that under her head... her cuddling pillow? Definitely not that, she could feel that underneath her body. Then what...

    “Wake up!” somebody shouted in her ear, and she bolted upright with a scream, scrabbling desperately for her blankets so she could pull them over her eyes. With horror, she realized that it was her blankets that were missing, and she turned to look towards the base of the bed just in time to have a glass of water sloshed in her face, followed by a very wet flannel.

    Spluttering, she flung the water from her eyes and observed her brother doubled-over in laughter, an empty glass in one hand and her blankets clenched in another. He was laughing so hard that he didn’t notice the danger signs in her eyes as she stood slowly, wet flannel in hand. But he quickly took notice when the flannel barely kissed his nose, May’s aim wild in her rage.

    She stood there, dripping, her eyes seemingly light with fire. Max gulped and took a nervous step backwards. “Hi sis,” he said nervously. “Sleep okay?”

    “Max! I am going to kill you!” she screamed dashing towards him with her arms outstretched. Max took the cue and darted from the bedroom, accidently dragging May’s blankets with him. May tripped on the blankets as they crossed her path and fell to the ground, buying Max another second to make good his escape. She was up again almost instantly and dashed into the hallway, looking in every direction wildly. It was no good; her blankets were in a crumpled heap in the centre of the hallway, but her irritating little brother was nowhere to be seen.

    “Uhh... uhh...” May turned to the side and noticed a guy who looked to be a few years older staring at her.

    “Can I help you?” she asked, a little more aggressively than usual.

    “Uhh... uhh...” the man repeated, seemingly incapable of closing his mouth. May followed his line of sight and realized that he was staring at her white shirt. Or rather, at the visible outline of her breasts through the now see-through shirt.

    “In your dreams,” May snapped, hastily grabbing her blankets and hoisting them up so that they covered her chest. She dashed back inside her room without another glance at the surprised and happy man, making sure to lock the door securely behind her. She sat on the bed with a groan, covering her eyes with her hands. Why did she wear a white shirt to bed? And why did Max have to throw cold water over her?

    There was a knock at the door and she heard her brother’s voice; it sounded extremely hesitant. “May? Are you in there?” he asked.

    “You’d better start running, Max,” she growled back. “Once I’ve changed and caught you, you’ll wish you were far away from here.”

    “I tried to wake you up by shaking you!” he protested. “It was the only way I could get you up! Why would you want to sleep until 1:00?”

    “1:00?” she repeated.

    “Don’t you know what time it is?” Max asked, sounding exasperated. “If I hadn’t woken you up you’d have missed the start of Ash’s match!”

    A shocking three minutes later May was standing in the hallway, fully changed into her favourite red outfit and primping the last few strands of her hair into place.

    “That was fast,” Max said, accustomed to his sister needing half-an-hour to get ready in a morning. “How did you manage to get showered so quickly?”

    “Trade secret,” May said, hiding a smile of embarrassment and hoping that her armpits weren’t too smelly. “Where’s the match being shown?”

    “In the Lounge,” Max answered. He hesitated a moment. “You aren’t really going to get me back, are you?”

    “Just this once I’ll forgive you,” May answered. “After all, you did get the boat tickets for tomorrow and wake me up in time for the match.”

    "That's unusually nice of you," he said.

    “Uhh... uhh...” the same man as before said, still standing in the same spot and still staring at her chest. May looked down and sighed when she realized that she’d forgotten to do up two of her buttons. “Then again...” she muttered, turning away to finish the task.

    “Hey, what’s he staring at?” Max asked curiously, noticing the man's gormless expression.

    “Hope that you never find out,” May answered, walking down the stairs into the Lounge just in time to hear the commentator scream out 'Welcome to the final of the Sinnoh League!’

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Infernape took off at a run, utilizing the many boulders on the field as it hopped from position to position and avoided the Earthquake altogether.

    “Flamethrower!” Ash ordered.

    “Razor Leaf!” Paul countered, and the two attacks collided with a great force, the Flamethrower burning the leaves into dust, and the powerful impact of the Razor Leaf holding the Flamethrower in place. Both Pokemon let up their attacks at the same time, eyeing the other’s strength trepeditiously.

    “Mega Drain!” Paul shouted, and two tendrils of green light flew from Torterra’s body on a direct course for Infernape; the fire-type didn’t even need to wait for a command. It skipped along the tops of several rocks, avoiding the Mega Drain effortlessly as it wound up directly behind Torterra. Again Infernape didn’t bother waiting for Ash’s order, as it unleashed a second powerful Flamethrower; the slow-moving Torterra had only turned part of the way around, and it roared in pain as its body was engulfed in flames. It quickly shook he attack off, but by the time it finished turning Infernape had vanished again.

    It quickly became apparent to everyone that Torterra had finally met its match in Infernape; it was far too slow to keep up with the fire-type, and too bulky to hide behind the rocks for a respite. Infernape, in comparison, utilized the field to its every advantage seemingly effortlessly. The rocks became its plaything as it skipped across the tops, ducking in between the boulders for an occasional surprise attack, moving around with supreme confidence and stamina. The fire-type was so fast that it had no problem staying behind Torterra, hitting it with the occasional Flamethrower and Flame Wheel, and making sure that the giant grass-type never caught sight of it. Paul and Torterra quite simply had no answer for the Pokemon’s speed and type advantage. It didn’t have the superior attack and defence that Torterra did, but it had speed and agility in their place and it used them to slowly chip away at Torterra’s energy.

    It was evident that the grass-type was becoming tired; even turning seemed to cause it fatigue. Its breaths came in ragged gasps, and sweat poured from its scarred, tough hide. Ash watched it all unfold silently, not even needing to give commands at this point; he and Infernape had reached a level of friendship that few trainers ever reached with their Pokemon. It was a connection he had developed only with Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charizard, Corphish, Gallade, and Infernape; the two were so innately close that words were not needed to understand what was being said. Body language was enough; it told far more than speech ever could. Infernape knew what attacks to use simply by glancing at its trainer.

    It was a technique Ash had begun learning after battling against Anabel at the Battle Frontier, and though he usually still voiced the commands in this case he felt that it was more than appropriate to make an exception. To Paul, Infernape’s ability to just launch attack after attack when Ash didn’t say a word was baffling; it was something he could not comprehend. To Ash, it was justice; and he saved his words for the final coup-de-grace.

    “Infernape, use Dig!” he called.

    “In-ferrrr!” Infernape howled as it jumped into the air, rotated, and dove into the ground headfirst, great clods of pebbles and soil flying into the air behind it. It popped up on the other side of Torterra, jumped a foot to the side and dove back under the earth again before reappearing slightly to the side of the original hole. Again the fire-type jumped over to the side before digging into the ground for the third time and climbing out on the other side of Torterra.

    The grass-type followed the fire-type as it burst from the air in confusion, its head swinging from side-to-side as Infernape jumped into and out of the earth with a startling rapidity. Paul was equally nonplussed at what he saw; he’d heard rumours of Ash’s ability to turn a battlefield to his advantage, but he had no idea how digging so many holes could possibly do anything except make Infernape tired. There was no advantage there. Brock, on the other hand, saw it almost instantly.

    “What?” Dawn asked, hearing his gasp.

    “Don’t you remember?” he asked. “The Forest of Hesitation? Turtwig vs. Chimchar?” Dawn frowned for a moment, trying to remember. Her face lit up as the realization struck her.

    “You mean...” she began.

    “Yeah,” Brock nodded, “and it looks like Ash remembers it too. Now the question is; does Paul?”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Infernape vanished under the earth yet again, but this time it did not reappear. A quiet settled over the Stadium as everyone leaned forward, wondering what was coming next. Torterra looked from hole-to-hole nervously, its battered body heaving heavily from the exertions it had been put under, its legs trembling dangerously. Paul surveyed the battlefield critically, desperate to figure out what Ash’s strategy was. His eyes took stock of the holes surrounding Torterra, the boulders, the spaces between them, the holes surrounding Torterra... the holes surrounding Torterra... It struck him.

    “Torterra, get out of there! Now!” he shouted. The grass-type took one step on its trembling legs and its knees gave way beneath it. The crowd gasped as Torterra fell with a groan, and Ash seized his chance.

    “Infernape, use Blast Burn!”

    The ground beneath Torterra trembled ominously and loose pebbles on a nearby boulder clattered free, striking the grass-type harmlessly on the back as they fell. A blast of flame leapt high into the sky from one hole, and then from another, and another, and another. Within seconds a veritable maelstrom of flames spun around the exhausted grass-type, trapping it within the fiery heat. Torterra let out a low moan as its large body was assailed by the inferno, but the worst was yet to come.

    The very ground beneath Torterra cracked ominously. Though nobody could see the Pokemon’s panicked expression through the flames as it looked imploringly at its trainer, it was impossible to miss the earth collapse. For a moment Torterra seemed to hang in the air, and then, as its body began to fall into the crater caused by Infernape’s numerous Digs, the largest and most intense flame of all blasted from the centre of the ground.

    The full power of the Blast Burn was more than any of them could have imagined; the flames shot a full thirty feet in the air; not the red flame typically associated with a fire attack, but a stunning mixture of white and purple. It seemed as if the attack went on for eternity, though in reality it was all over in a matter of seconds. There was a stunned silence as the flames abruptly vanished, only to be replaced by billowing clouds of black smoke that seemed to wring every ounce of oxygen from the air.

    Infernape leapt from the centre of the smoke, somersaulting gracefully in the air before coming to rest on the top of the lone rock that poked above the noxious clouds. It panted heavily, exhausted by its exertions though it had not been touched by a single one of Torterra’s attacks. But nobody paid any attention to the tired fire-type, their eyes all trained unblinkingly on the centre of the smoke. Slowly it began to disperse, and when it did the crowd let out a collective gasp. Paul lowered his head and turned away, unwilling to look upon his beaten Pokemon or hear the referee’s pronouncement. Torterra’s four victories meant nothing to him; it was this one loss against Infernape that counted.

    “Return,” he said, his eyes closed as the red light of the Poke Ball recalled his Pokemon. He pocketed it without a word, reaching instead for his fifth choice in the match. “Ursaring, let’s go!” he shouted, unleashing the furiously short-tempered and fierce normal-type. “Use Focus Blast!”

    “Flamethrower!” Ash countered. A ball of energy so blue that it seemed almost white formed in Ursaring’s hands. The bear-like Pokemon snarled and shot it straight at Infernape, who was still perched on the rock. Infernape quickly countered the attack with a jet of flames from its mouth; the two attacks collided, fused, exploded, and the remnants quickly vanished.

    “You’ve got to get it off of that rock, Ursaring!” Paul shouted. “Charge up to it and use Headbutt!”

    “Stop it with another Flamethrower, Infernape!” Ash ordered. As Ursaring ran at full speed towards the rock, Infernape let loose another powerful fire attack; with surprising agility, Ursaring managed to avoid the flames and, with a roar, struck its head powerfully against the boulder. A jagged crack ran up to the top and the rock shattered, dropping a surprised Infernape headfirst towards the earth. It screeched in pain as the falling stones pummelled its body during the fall, but with its incredible agility it managed to twist itself upright and land on its feet.

    Ash surveyed the result in dismay. Ursaring was still fresh, but Infernape looked near its limit. The battle against Torterra had cost more of its endurance than he’d anticipated, and it stood panting on the ground. There was no doubt in his mind that Infernape was the faster of the two by far, but how much longer could it keep going? It didn’t look like Infernape could do too much dodging here; he would have to go for pure power and hope for the best.

    “Infernape, another Flamethrower!” he shouted.

    “Dodge it and hit back with a Hammer Arm!” Paul ordered.

    “Ember!” Infernape let loose another blast of flames, but Ursaring danced away and charged in close, both arms raised and glowing white. Infernape waited and flipped moments before the normal-type came in range; it ended up behind it and sent out a rapid-fire barrage of red-hot coals; they struck Ursaring powerfully in the back, and it roared in pain as the attack knocked it to the ground.

    “Flame Wheel!” Ash yelled, knowing this was his best chance to take the normal-type out.

    “Slash!” Paul retaliated. Infernape charged in close towards Ursaring, its whole body wreathed in flames as it jumped, twisted itself into a ball, and rolled along the ground towards the normal-type. Ursaring reacted to Paul’s command blindly, not wasting any time in getting to its feet and turning; it was a lucky shot. The Slash connected with the Flame Wheel perfectly, dispersing the flames and sending Infernape flying into a nearby boulder. Ursaring roared in triumph as it got to its feet, but Infernape leapt from the dust in a surprise move that caught everyone, even Ash, off-guard.

    Its eyes were red with rage, and it darted in close under Ursaring’s guard, unleashing a devastating series of punches, kicks and headbutts. Ursaring staggered back, surprised at the ferocity of the attack and unable to defend itself due to the close range.

    Ash was not surprised at Infernape’s amazing hand-to-hand combat skills; it was, after all, part-fighting, and he had made sure to train Infernape as best as he could for close-range battles. He was, however, surprised by the barrage being unleashed now. It was an attack he recognized from a battle several months before, but it was not one he’d been aware Infernape knew of. There was no doubt though that the Close Combat was an incredibly powerful technique; Ursaring, who had been raring to go just moments ago, now looked as if it had battled all four of his Pokemon.

    At last, its energy almost completely spent, Infernape collapsed to its knees, breathing heavily. Ursaring staggered backwards and fell too, its head woozy from the many powerful head-shots it had just received. Both Pokemon stayed that way for several seconds, eyes closed and gasping. And then, with a mighty effort, Ursaring climbed back to its feet with a snarl while Infernape continued to kneel.

    “This ends here,” Paul said with a grin. “Your Sinnoh League dreams are over Ash.”

    “Get up, Infernape!” Ash pleaded, ignoring Paul’s taunt. “I know you can do it, please!” Infernape’s eyes closed and its panting abruptly ceased. There was a sudden blinding burst of scarlet light, and when the spots cleared from everyone’s eyes they saw Infernape on its feet, a crimson aura pulsating through its body and the flame on its head easily twice as intense as before. Infernape’s Blaze was in full effect, and Ash knew that this was his last chance.

    “Infernape, go! Use Flare Blitz!” he shouted.

    “Hammer Arm, Ursaring!” Paul yelled. The two Pokemon charged at one another at full speed, Infernape’s outline visible through a wreath of sizzling flames, Ursaring’s arms raised and glowing with power. At the moment that Infernape leaped for Ursaring’s chest, the normal-type swung both arms downwards; the Flare Blitz collided with the Hammer Arm at full force and there was a massive explosion that sent both Pokemon flying past the trainer boxes and into the wall that separated crowd from battlefield. Both Pokemon landed on their feet and promptly collapsed.

    “Infernape and Ursaring are both unable to battle!” the referee ruled, raising both flags.

    “Great job, Infernape,” Ash whispered as he recalled the exhausted fire-type. “You did everything you had to and more; thank you so much.”

    “Pathetic,” Paul muttered, pocketing Ursaring’s Poke Ball.

    Ash and Paul looked across the nearly destroyed battlefield at each other. This was it; their final battle. Both were down five Pokemon; both had only one Pokemon left. And both knew who the other’s last choice would be. There was only one battle left; the final challenge for the Sinnoh League.

    “Pikachu, I choose you!”

    “Electivire! Go!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As always, please review; I seem to have hit an all-time low in the reviews of what I've written, and I can't even begin to tell you how valuable that reader feedback is to me.

  10. #10
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    I wish I could write battles like that.

    But you know, while feedback is nice and eyeballs are nice, fifty THOUSAND views is downright incredible. I've never gotten anything REMOTE to that probably COMBINED. I'd have to add things up.

  11. #11
    Henshin! Kamen_Fanatic's Avatar
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    I have to say this - THIS IS AN EXCITING MATCH!!! Ever think of becoming a story director for Pokémon? Why do you ask? Because of this two reasons - A.You are one of THE best fanfiction writers of our time. B.Satoshi needs men with talent like yours. No lie.

  12. #12
    Stray Dog Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Now for the grand conclusion of this match. this is gonna be an electric battle.

    By the way are you planning to include Jun in this story.
    Last edited by Flaze; 10th November 2008 at 07:36 PM.

  13. #13
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Thanks for the reviews guys, and you're right, Blackjack; maybe I've just been a bit spoiled with the success of Final Challenge, but 50 000 is really good. I shouldn't complain so much. ^^;

    Thanks for the compliment too, Dracologist; I haven't thought about it before, but it's actually not a career I'm too interested in (plus I don't speak Japanese). I write for fun, and I'm really not as good as everybody seems to make out. You just have to look at most any published work to see that's true. Still, I am glad that people like my writings, even if they really aren't that good.

    As for Jun... we'll have to wait and see. I'm not entirely sure who will or will not make an appearance at various points in this one. Jun does have a brief mention in Chapter 8 (which I'm currently writing), but as to the fact of him being a principal character... I will say that one of our other favourite rivals from a previous compettion (or at least, one of my favourites) will be making a significant appearance shortly.

    Anyways, enough of that! On with the chapter! I'm catching up dangerously close with my FF.net updates, especially with a long road ahead without many foreseeable updates, but I just can't leave you all hanging with only one match-up left, can I? That would just be cruel.

    By the way, this is your last spoiler warning. I said before that if you haven't read Final Challenge yet (linked above in my first post), this story will contain a lot of spoilers for it. Here is where the first of them begins. This story explains how some of the events of Final Challenge came to happen, among other things. This is your last warning!

    Chapter Five: The Championship


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Not a chance,” Reggie said flatly towards the telephone’s screen. His arms folded, he glared into its depths so piercingly that had it been any other human on the planet, they would have flinched. Not his father, however.

    “You’re my eldest son,” replied the man he was talking to. He sighed sadly. “This is what I’ve raised you for; your entire life has been about this moment.”

    “I said no,” Reggie answered baldly. “Why do you think I moved away from Kanto? To get away from your corrupting influence! I only wish I could have brought Paul with me... I wanted him to see that Pokemon aren’t just tools to be used at a whim.”

    “Your words hurt me,” his father groaned. “I tried my best to raise you all with care; it isn’t easy, being a single father with three kids and a massive business to use. Besides, Paul never wanted to be away from me, and I taught him everything he knows.”

    “That’s obvious enough,” Reggie retorted. “When I left Kanto he was still a kind and polite person, though he had his rough edges; but when he started his Sinnoh journey and came to me asking if he could keep his Pokemon at my house, I almost didn’t recognize him. He’d gone from caring to manipulative, and it showed in the treatment of his Pokemon.” His father’s gaze hardened.

    “You’ll drop that tone right now,” he warned, anger flashing through his eyes. “I’m not responsible for the way he treats his Pokemon; he alone is. It’s not as if I stole them for him.” Reggie laughed.

    “I don’t even know how he captured most of his Pokemon,” he replied, “not even Torterra. He was a resident of Kanto when he started his journey, not Sinnoh. I thought he started with a Bulbasaur, but next thing I know it isn’t even registered in his Pokedex.”

    “His Bulbasaur lost every battle it was a part of, so Paul left it in the forest somewhere in between Cerulean and Vermillion and picked up a wild Turtwig while he was in there,” his father said. “Can’t say I blame him, that Bulbasaur was so weak.”

    “Now that’s exactly what I’m talking about!” Reggie flared up. “With that kind of attitude I’m not surprised he turned out this way. What sad excuse for an upbringing did he have, eh?”

    “That’s enough!” his father roared. “You’ll shut your mouth right now if you know what’s good for you!”

    “No, I won’t!” Reggie shouted back. “The kind of creeps you turned Paul and Damian into disgusts me. And you want me to take over Team Rocket for you? It’s abhorrent!”

    “Well you seem all high-and-mighty about it,” his father seethed. “I can’t have been that bad a father if you turned out so great!”

    “I was lucky that I still had Mom around to make me into a decent person,” Reggie snarled. “She couldn’t cope with it all; she couldn’t be a satisfactory wife to the all-important crime lord of Kanto. What mere mortal woman could? She died of a broken heart, and you were the reason why.”

    “You go too far!” Giovanni roared, seemingly ready to strangle the camera, flecks of spit hitting the lens and his face contorted with rage.

    “I’m not going far enough!” Reggie countered, his own visage distorted in anger. “Every word is the truth and you know it! I told you seven years ago that I wasn’t taking over Team Rocket from you, and I’m telling you again now! Everything you do is the exact opposite of who I am. I’ve done nothing but tell you this for all these years, and you still won’t listen!”

    “Are you sure that is the way you want it to be?” Giovanni asked quietly.

    “There’s no doubt in my mind at all,” Reggie retorted.

    “Then that’s the way it’s going to be,” Giovanni growled, “but I warn you now for the first and only time. You will never step foot in Kanto again; if there is so much as a sniff of you planning a trip here...”

    “Don’t worry,” Reggie laughed, “I wouldn’t want to come within an ocean of you anyways. Everything you do, everything you are, is disgusting to me. As far as I’m concerned, you aren’t my father. He died a long time ago.” With that said, he cut the connection and slumped back with a groan.

    He didn’t want to see or talk with Giovanni ever again, but that didn’t make what he’d done any easier. It didn't help that his father was a dangerous man; he doubted that anything manevolent could or would happen to him here in Sinnoh, but he knew he wouldn't risk entering Kanto again. Not that he'd ever want to. And with Giovanni gone, Damian was as well. As for Paul... that would have to wait to be seen after the Championship battle against Ash. He turned back to the TV without much interest, noting dully that both had only one Pokemon left.

    “Go,” he said unenthusiastically.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Go!” Ash roared, “Quick Attack!”

    “Pika!” Pikachu shouted, dashing forwards in a blur of speed that made it nearly impossible to see. Paul grinned and looked away without comment, not bothering to order a counterattack. Pikachu ran the last few feet and leaped forwards, smashing headfirst into Electivire. The crowd gasped as Electivire simply scratched at its belly, seemingly not affected by the impact as Pikachu bounced back, stunned.

    “Grab it,” Paul said, sounding bored. Before Ash or Pikachu could react, Electivire shot out both arms and grasped Pikachu around the middle, lifting it up to eye-level. Pikachu struggled to get away, sparks flying from its cheeks but Electivire simply leered as it felt the electric-type wriggling in its grasp. “Screech,” Paul said, still not deigning to look at the battlefield. Electivire slowly opened its mouth and a horrible sound reverberated throughout the arena. Pikachu let out a cry as it felt the notes blasting into its head, struggling as hard as it could to get loose.

    “Pikachu, try an Iron Tail!” Ash shouted, watching in horror as Pikachu was subjected to the torturous notes. Pikachu’s tail began glowing white, but try as it might it could not manoeuvre the attack so that it could hit Electivire. The glow faded and Ash felt a pit of fear in his stomach as he saw Pikachu’s struggles begin to falter. “Get out of there, Pikachu!” he roared. “I don’t care what you do, just get loose!”

    “Here comes the power boost,” Paul smirked, his eyes closed. “Fool; he should know that any electric moves will just make Electivire stronger. This will be the quickest final matchup in League history.” His gaze snapped open and shot to the battlefield when, instead of hearing the crackling sound of a Thunderbolt, Electivire roared in pain. He was stunned at what he saw; Pikachu stood several feet away, shaking its head to get rid of the last vestiges of the Screech, and its cheeks sparking. Electivire was hunched over and, though it was hard to tell from his position, it seemed as if his Pokemon were clutching its hand.

    “Electivire, what’s wrong?” Paul shouted, a note of fear in his voice as he noticed a small reddish stain on the ground in between the two Pokemon. Pikachu suddenly hacked, its eyes constricting and its fur twitching as its throat bulged. It coughed once again and spat out a lump of something yellow and black. Paul stared at it for a moment. “Wait a minute... Electivire, did Pikachu bite you?” he asked.

    “Graagghh!” Electivire roared, still clutching at its hand as it threw back its head.

    “I didn’t know Pikachu could learn Bite,” he muttered.

    “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Ash shouted from across the field. “Pikachu, use Iron Tail!”

    “Pika!” Pikachu agreed, hop-skipping a few yards before jumping into the air and laying a powerful Iron Tail across the top of Electivire’s head.

    Grraagggghhhh!” Electivire screamed, forgetting the bite and clutching at the top of its head instead; the crowd gasped as the electric-type crashed to its knees, seemingly out of the match already.

    “Finish it off!” Ash shouted. “Quick Attack!”

    “Not so fast,” Paul snarled. “Electivire, use Thunder on yourself!”

    With a mighty effort, Electivire threw out both arms to the side and let out a horrible scream. Clouds gathered and darkened as the Pokemon expelled its wrath and pain towards the sky, and as Pikachu raced towards it at a blinding speed. And then a massive bolt of lightning burst from the sky, streaking down towards Electivire. Ash bit his lip as he watched, his every nerve trembling as he constantly shifted his gaze between Pikachu and the lightning. It would be a close race, and there was no way to tell which would hit first.

    And then the Thunder landed, enveloping Electivire in a blinding glare that forced everyone in the stadium, Paul and Ash included, to shield their eyes from the blast. Ash’s stomach dropped as he heard a devastating scream of pain coming from his Pokemon.

    “Pikachu!” he yelled. “Pikachu, are you okay?” The brilliant light from the Thunder faded and he strained forwards, trying to see the result from Paul’s attack. The situation did not look good.

    Electivire was back on its feet and swinging its arms, seemingly revitalized from the blast of electricity. On the other hand, Pikachu had been hurled backwards in the blast and was now struggling to get to its feet. Ash bit his lip at the sight; Pikachu’s right flank had been scorched badly, and the electric-type was in obvious pain as it heavily favoured the support of its left legs.

    “Pikachu... can you go on?” he called.

    “Of course it can’t,” Paul taunted immediately. “Look at it; Electivire is stronger and faster now than ever before, and Pikachu can barely stand. It’s over.”

    “It’s not over unless Pikachu says it’s over!” Ash retorted with a bite in his voice, though the look he gave his Pokemon was one filled with worry.

    “Give up,” Paul said, revelling in the powerful advantage he now had in the battle. “You don’t have a chance; if a Pokemon can’t stand, it can’t fight. Why would you want to get Pikachu hurt even more? It’s a pathetic Pokemon, and it’s shown that today.”

    Pikachu ignored Ash’s testy retort; it ignored its opponent, the crowd, even the pain as it focused all of its energy on glaring at Paul. The black eyes narrowed and reddened in rage as it focused on the nasty trainer who had never done anything but belittle it, its trainer, and its teammates. A blinding hate erupted in its heart and, though its energy was running low after the Thunder, it focused its power into an act of defiance at the person it was determined to beat at any cost.

    Warmth crept across its skin as the familiar electricity began to spread throughout its body, the dangerous red cheeks beginning to spark. Electivire took a slight step backwards, looking at Pikachu uneasily as it felt the power in the little Pokemon growing rapidly. With a screech of defiance, Pikachu threw back its head and an incredibly powerful blast of electricity erupted from its body and shot towards the darkly-clouded sky.

    “What?” Ash gasped, instinctively moving backwards.

    “Impossible!” Paul shouted, covering his eyes.

    “Vire!” Electivire agreed, moving as far away as the boundaries of the battlefield would allow.

    The energy coming from Pikachu’s body was incredible; it was a power that even Ash had never witnessed from the Pokemon before. It scorched the earth around it, and even with his face shielded Paul could feel the static drying out his eyeballs. And the power kept growing, Pikachu’s hatred towards Paul feeding off of a core of energy he didn’t even know he possessed. The electricity discharging into the sky became so great that soon a tornado of power rotated inside the stadium, miniature bolts of lightning shooting out and striking various points around the stadium unexpectedly as the tip slowly moved downwards towards the source of its creation. And still it grew, Pikachu’s voice rising in octaves as more and more of the sudden surge of power was dispelled from its body.

    “This... is... unreal,” Paul gritted, feeling the energy as it pulsated across his body. With a surge of fear he realized he was being pushed back by the power, back towards the edge of the trainer’s box. He reached out an arm to the railing to hold himself in place and let out a scream as static electricity coursed through his veins, letting go abruptly and seizing his scorched hand gingerly. “No way...” he whispered, braving himself to open his eyes and catch a glimpse of the Pokemon.

    “Pikachu!” Ash screamed as the tornado’s tip reached the ground and enveloped his Pokemon. “Pikachu, stop it please! You’ll kill yourself!” Pikachu’s voice rose another octave as its trainer’s voice cut through the fury in its mind; with a massive effort it let loose one final screech of rage and severed the flow of power from its body. The tornado rotated slowly in the air several more times before it exploded; people screamed as they were thrown backwards from the blast, as glass shattered from the Stadium’s lights, and as the rocks on the battlefield burst apart into rubble. Ash and Paul were both thrown out of their trainer’s boxes by the force, and even Electivire was smashed into the partition that separated the battlefield from spectators.

    “Chah,” Pikachu growled, looking towards Paul and Electivire dangerously with red eyes as blue sparks played across its skin. “Pikaa.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What the hell was that?” May screeched, leaping up from the couch as the picture on the TV crackled and died. “Just what the hell was that?”

    “I... I don’t know,” Max said, his throat dry as he looked at the static-filled screen. “I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life. It was so powerful... I can’t believe that came from Pikachu.”

    “But what was it?” May repeated.

    “I still don’t know,” Max answered, sounding slightly irritated. “Whatever it was, it took out the television feed.” Another thought occurred to May, and she sat back down hard.

    “I... I hope Ash and Pikachu are both alright,” she whispered.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Have... have I gone blind?” Dawn whispered, feeling gingerly in front of her face as she climbed to her feet. “I can’t see anything!”

    “Look around,” Brock answered in a low voice, already standing again. “Look at Pikachu.”

    “But... I can’t see,” she said as a light rain began to fall.

    “Are your eyes open?” Brock answered. Dawn checked and blushed sheepishly.

    “They are now, but I still can’t see anything,” she said.

    “Follow my voice,” Brock said. “Look in my direction and you should see it.” Dawn gingerly turned in the direction she thought Brock was in and took a step forwards.

    “Ouch!” Scott complained. “That was my foot!”

    “Sorry,” Dawn said hastily, turning back in the opposite direction. She took another step and walked into Brock. She squeaked in surprise and almost fell, but he reached out and steadied her.

    “Easy,” he said. “Take a look at this.” Dawn looked and her jaw dropped.

    “What... what...” she began.

    “I don’t know,” Brock said. “I don’t know what this is, or what it means.” Dawn looked awestruck at the battlefield, and the Pokemon standing on all fours at its centre.

    Blue sparks continued to flash across Pikachu’s body as it trembled there; whether through fear, exhaustion, or power, it was impossible to tell. Those were unremarkable compared to the major transition, however. The electric-type’s body gleamed golden, seemingly surrounded by its own visible aura of energy as it stood there. The glow was so brilliant that everything around it seemed to be pure darkness, though it was just barely possible to discern some features of the battlefield. The glow grew and faded every three or four seconds in an incessant cycle. It was both beautiful and terrifying.

    “What is this?” Dawn asked, fear in her voice.

    “I wish I knew,” Brock said. “I wish I knew.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash climbed back into his box and watched in awe as Pikachu’s body glowed brilliantly in the darkness; as the rain fell against the pulsating energy in his starter’s body it sizzled and evaporated, and the aura was luminous enough for him to make out the sight of Paul and Electivire at the far end.

    “Umm... I guess the battle’s postponed for now?” the referee suggested weakly, viewing the massive damage to the battlefield and Stadium.

    “Pikachu...” Ash breathed, not hearing the referee. “What’s happened to you?”

    “I don’t know and I don’t care!” Paul spat as he crawled over the ladder and into his trainer box. “It’s still weak! Electivire, Thunder Punch!”

    “The match really should be stopped,” the referee said, but Electivire charged forwards with a glowing fist, heedless of the instruction.

    “Pikachu, look out!” Ash shouted. Pikachu gazed at the charging opponent and vanished. Ash blinked, pinched his face and blinked again before realizing that Pikachu was now standing behind Electivire; how he had no idea.

    “It’s behind you!” Paul yelled. “Use Iron Tail!” Electivire lashed out with its tail blindly, a move that Pikachu avoided easily. Paul gritted his teeth in frustration and glared at the glowing electric-type. “Try a Thunderbolt!” he shouted, and Electivire turned with a roar as it unleashed the attack.

    “Thunderbolt back!” Ash yelled, and Pikachu shot out its own bolt of electricity. The two attacks collided, and for the briefest of seconds it appeared their strength was even. Then, with the tiniest of efforts, Pikachu’s Thunderbolt blasted forwards and easily overwhelmed Electivire’s attack; the Pokemon roared and staggered backwards as the electricity enveloped its body, and Paul pumped his fist in exultation.

    “Yes, another boost!” he smiled. The smile quickly turned to a frown when he realized that Electivire had fallen off its feet, its strikingly striped fur scorched. “What?” he gasped.

    “Not even Electivire’s Electric Engine ability can handle the conductive effect of water, Paul,” Ash said, indicating the still-falling rain. “It’s too much for Electivire to handle.”

    “I’m not finished,” Paul snarled. “Pikachu’s got some weird boost from that glow, but the water runs both ways. Electivire, try another Thunderbolt!”

    “Dodge and use Quick Attack!” Ash retaliated. The first sparks of electricity had only just left Electivire when it doubled over in pain, Pikachu having blasted into its stomach at an incredible speed that left Paul gaping.

    “No... no!” he shouted, for the first time feeling as if the Championship had been lost. “That kind of speed is impossible! Electivire!”

    “It’s over, Paul,” Ash said flatly. “Give up.”

    “I’ll never give up; not to you!” Paul roared. “Electivire, get up and take that Pikachu down in one hit – Giga Impact!”

    “You’re a fool, Paul,” Ash said sadly. “Pikachu, finish this now; Volt Tackle!”

    The two Pokemon ran at each other at full speed, Electivire encased in a purple cocoon of light and Pikachu’s aura now brighter than ever and leaving a trail behind on the ground. The two smashed head-on, and it was Electivire’s Giga Impact that was blown apart, it was Electivire that flew backwards in the air, it was Electivire who hit the ground, its body trembling and its eyes closed, barely able even to breathe.

    Pikachu stood alone on the field, its body still glowing with power, completely unfazed by the colossal impact that had just occurred. It gazed briefly at the fallen Electivire before turning and giving Paul a contemptuous and dirty look. The gleaming golden aura faded from Pikachu’s body as it ran across the battlefield to a stunned Ash, as the referee lifted his flag and announced his victory.

    “We did it...” he whispered, sinking to his knees in shock. “We did it... we won.”

  14. #14
    Clarion of Revelations Feliciano's Avatar Social Media Editor
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    ^_^ Did I mention that this was my favorite part of the battle?

    Seriously, Pikachu using hate to become more powerful...it's a really interesting concept, and done really well!

    I also enjoyed the dialogue between Reggie and Giovanni. The tension between the two came out really well -- their anger feeding off of each other's...

    Wow, now that I think about it, this was a really angry chapter. But still very well done.
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  15. #15
    Henshin! Kamen_Fanatic's Avatar
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    That was an AWESOME ENDING!!! Did you based that last Volt Tackle from Brawl? And Pikachu went Super all over Electivire's ass

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