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  1. #1
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    Default Final Challenge (Complete)

    Here's a fanfiction I'm currently working on. Its called Final Challenge. It may seem to be just about a final battle to become a Master, but the plot is much deeper (and longer-lasting) than that.

    Warning: Plot contains Advanceshipping, some Abilityshipping.


    Table of Contents:
    Chapter One: Preparation
    Chapter Two: Return
    Chapter Three: Reunion
    Chapter Four: Buildup
    Chapter Five: Battle
    Chapter Six: Mission
    Chapter Seven: Escape
    Chapter Eight: Fire
    Chapter Nine: Home
    Chapter Ten: Revelation
    Chapter Eleven: Seperation
    Chapter Twelve: Infection
    Chapter Thirteen: Understanding
    Chapter Fourteen: Gift
    Chapter Fifteen: Rey
    Chapter Sixteen: Capture
    Chapter Seventeen: Memory
    Chapter Eighteen: Conversation
    Chapter Nineteen: Lessons
    Chapter Twenty: Recapture
    Chapter Twenty-One: Beginning
    Chapter Twenty-Two: Loyalty
    Chapter Twenty-Three: Hunter
    Chapter Twenty-Four: Theft
    Chapter Twenty-Five: Presence
    Chapter Twenty-Six: Defeat
    Chapter Twenty-Seven: Disease
    Chapter Twenty-Eight: Farewell?
    April Fools: Chapter Twenty-Eight-point-five: Fight
    Chapter Twenty-Nine: Egg
    Chapter Thirty: Hostage
    Chapter Thirty-One: Heartbreak
    Chapter Thirty-Two: Cyas
    Chapter Thirty-Three: Reclaim
    Chapter Thirty-Four: Plan
    Chapter Thirty-Five: Realization
    Chapter Thirty-Six: Truce
    Chapter Thirty-Seven: Encounter
    Chapter Thirty-Eight: Betrayal
    Chapter Thirty-Nine: Revival
    Chapter Forty: Final Challenge (Part One)
    Chapter Forty-One: Final Challenge (Part Two)
    Epilogue

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    Ash yawned and turned over in his bed, the morning sunlight falling on his face. His nose was tickled by a twitching lightning-shaped tail and, sneezing, he awoke. He pulled himself upright and stared around the room. A wide grin began to spread across his face.

    It had been two years since his victory in the Sinnoh league. He had fought some of his toughest matches ever against Katie, Nando, and of course, Paul. He smiled, reliving the final match against Paul. It had been very close, but in the end Pikachu had managed to triumph over Paul's Electivire. After that, he had been permitted to take the Elite Four challenge, the final test for aspiring Pokemon Masters. The requirements for this were very tough - he had to defeat an Elite Four member of his choice from each of the four main regions before being able to battle the Champion. The kicker was that he couldn't lose a single match.

    Those battles had been tough, but over the course of the next two years he had taken on and defeated Agatha of Kanto, Karen of Johto, Glacia of Hoenn, and Lucien of Sinnoh. His last opponent, the one he would battle today, was Cynthia of Sinnoh.

    Ash stretched and jumped out of the bed. He knew that to defeat Cynthia he would need to use the strongest six Pokemon he had captured and befriended since leaving Pallet Town to start his journey ten years ago. Seven, he thought. That's how many Frontier Symbols I needed to beat the Battle Frontier. And then, when I beat the Frontier, I was offered the position of Frontier Brain. But I couldn't take it then - I'd only just learned about the Sinnoh League. I wasn't ready to just hang around, waiting for challengers to show up every few weeks.

    He looked around his room and smiled slightly. He still didn't think he was ready, but while he was travelling around Sinnoh, Scott - the man who built the Frontier and had encouraged Ash to participate in it - had constructed an eighth location: the Battle Colosseum. Construction on it had been completed just as Ash was halfway through the Elite Four challenge. It truly was an amazing building. It was open to the elements in a similar way to both the Battle Factory and the Battle Palace so that flying types had room to manoeuvre. There was a large pool in the shape of a Poke Ball at the centre of the large circular field, surrounded on all sides by interchanging patches of Grass and Rock fields.

    I don't think I'm ready to stop travelling yet, Ash thought. Maybe that's ok though. When I started the Elite Four challenge, May and Max began to tour a region I'd never heard of. The Frayen region sure does have a lot of unique Pokemon. I can't wait to see which Pokemon she caught. Thinking of his friends, he began to feel a little sad. While Brock, Misty, Tracey, Max, and Dawn had all managed to make it in time for this battle, May hadn't been able to arrive in time.

    Ash sighed. He'd spoken to her only last night, but she had been stranded in Johto's Cianwood City because of a powerful storm. While Max had gone straight back to Petalburg City after travelling around Frayen, May had decided to compete in one last Frayen contest just for fun before heading straight to Kanto via the Johto sea routes.

    He shook his head in disbelief at the memory of how powerful that storm had been. He had endured similar conditions during an eventful journey through the Orange Islands. He began to grow uneasy as he remembered how close to Cianwood the Whirl Islands were, and that a similar creature to the one involved in the Orange Island's storm had once lived there. Unconsciously, his hand moved to his chest, feeling the pendent beneath his sheet. "I'm just glad she's okay," he muttered. "At least the power plant was able to get the electricity flowing again so that I could at least talk to her."

    "Chu?" he heard a voice say. He pushed away those thoughts and fixed a grin to his face, turning to Pikachu who had only just woken up and was looking at Ash enquiringly.

    "It's nothing," he reassured his friend. "Just wishing that an old friend was here today." Pikachu nodded knowingly and sprang from the bed to Ash's shoulder. "Ready to win today, old pal?" he murmured.

    "Pika!" Pikachu replied. His nose twitched. He jumped from Ash's stomach and sprang towards the door which opened automatically. Ash laughed and chased after his friend. It didn't take him long to realize that Pikachu was leading him into the kitchen.

    "Morning, Brock!" he said brightly as he entered, sniffing the air. "Is that sausage I smell?" Brock laughed.

    "Some things never change," he chuckled. He placed a big plate of sausage, pancakes, and a bowl of fruit salad on the table before sitting down across from the trainer. "How'd you sleep, Ash?"

    "Great," Ash said, his mouth full of pancake as Pikachu jumped onto the table. "I'm really looking forward to the battle today. Only a couple of hours to go! Where's everyone else gone though?"

    "Let's see... Max is out in the Colosseum training his Gardevoir... Professor Oak, Tracey, and Delia are on their way from Pallet Town - they didn't bother coming over for the night because it's the closest place to the Colosseum. I'm here, obviously, and I think that Misty is training her Gyarados with Max. As for Dawn, I'm not really sure where she -"

    "I'm right here," Dawn interrupted from behind Ash. She pulled out a chair from the table and plonked herself down, grabbing a couple of pancakes and sausages, then stealing the ketchup bottle away before Pikachu could grab it. Her long blue hair swished around her head as she deftly tossed it backwards so that a few stray strands wouldn't enter her mouth as she ate. "Morning Brock, morning Ash," she added as an afterthought. Ash smiled at her.

    "Morning Dawn," he replied.

    "Did everyone manage to come?" she asked. His eyes looked suddenly downcast as once again he clutched at the pendant beneath his shirt, an action not missed by any of his table companions. Dawn looked sideways at Brock, who had a look of complete understanding on his face.

    "Ash, you know that if it was possible she would have moved the continents to be here for you," Brock said gently. Ash was silent for a minute.

    "I know," he said at last, "but I was really hoping that she would have been able to make it. She's the only one of my friends that just couldn't get here, because of that storm." Dawn looked at him with a winning smile.

    "Ash, you're an official Frontier Brain now," she said. "You're the most experienced trainer that I know. You've travelled through Hoenn and Kanto with May, and you know that sometimes these things will happen. It's unfortunate, but there's nothing that can be done. If there was any way possible to get here today, May would have done it."

    "Look on the bright side about today," Brock said, trying to lift his friend's spirits. "At least you'll finally be able to break in the Colosseum. Plus, as a Frontier Brain, you're allowed to carry around as many Pokemon as you want, just like Noland. Think how happy they'll all be, able to spend all of their time outside of their Poke Balls with you."

    Ash looked up, a smile spreading on his face. "You're both right," he said. "I'm really looking forward to being able to spend more time with all of my Pokemon. I just don't think I'm ready to settle down yet though. I need a new challenge. What I really want to do is explore at least one more region, probably Frayen."

    "I'm sure Scott would understand," Brock said, smiling at his friends insatiable desire to travel.

    "Come on Pikachu," Ash said, now back at full spirit. "We can get in a little more training before the match. I want to make sure that my team is ready to battle! Thanks for the breakfast, Brock!" He dashed off, with Pikachu on his shoulder.

    Brock sighed as he held up the nearly-empty ketchup bottle to eye-level. "You know, this was full this morning," he said to Dawn. She giggled.

    "I think Pikachu enjoyed it, Brock. It was your home-made stuff, right?"

    "Yeah," he said, "made from tomato's picked straight out of the garden." Brock shook his head in disbelief. "That Pikachu sure does love his ketchup."

    Dawn leaned in towards him. "Do you think we should tell him?" she asked. Brock shook his head.

    "No," he said, "let it be a surprise. They haven't seen each other in so long. Thank goodness the Professor was still in Pallet Town when news came in about that storm. It was lucky that Gary was able to find it so quickly."

    "I can't wait to finally meet May," Dawn said. "I really hope that they'll be able to get here in time. Ash really misses her." Brock smiled.

    "Knowing those two, and what they'd do for Ash" he said, "I wouldn't be surprised if they were only a town away right now."

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

    Link to the rest of the story: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3771428/1/Final_Challenge

  2. #2
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    I've decided to post up some more of my story here after all.

    Chapter Two: Return


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

    Ash ran through the house just behind the Colosseum, rooms flashing by as he made his way outside. Stepping into the bright sunlight, he flexed his arms energetically and crossed the small strip of land to the structure that towered over him and housed the large circular battlefield that held the combination of Water, Grass, and Rock. He paused a moment as he entered, watching Max and Misty at the centre of the field, their Gardevoir and Gyarados sparring each other.
    "Gardevoir, use Shadow Ball!" Max shouted. The white-green simian-shaped Pokemon brought it's long green arms together and a glowing purple-black ball began to form.

    "Gyarados, dive underwater to dodge and then use Aqua Tail!" Misty retaliated. The gigantic Atrocious Pokemon, battling from the large deep pool at the centre of the field, ducked it's head under water. The Shadow Ball flew into the water, sending up a huge spray of water that momentarily blocked the water from view. A glowing blue tail sliced through the spray and connected with the Gardevoir. The Gardevoir soared backwards from the impact and landed further up in the grass, unable to battle any more.

    "Gardevoir!" Max shouted, running to his Pokemon. He held up her head and murmured soothingly to her for a moment. He stood up, took his Poke Ball from his belt, and recalled her. Wiping his face quickly, he turned to Misty who was walking towards him. "That was a great battle, Misty. Thanks," he said.

    "It was my pleasure, Max," she said with a smile. "It won't take long until you beat me though. You're stronger every time we battle."

    "I might be getting stronger," he said, shaking his head, "but I'll never be able to beat you. Your Gyarados is too powerful."

    "That's not true, Max," Ash said, walking towards them from the shadowed entryway, picking his way carefully through one of the rock field segments . Misty and Max both jumped, surprised by Ash's sudden appearance. "A Pokemon is only as strong as it's trainer. If you don't have any confidence in your Pokemon, they won't have any confidence either."

    "He's right, Max," Misty told him. "A Pokemon's skills depend on the trust of the trainer. Call out your Gardevoir." Looking slightly puzzled, Max sent out Gardevoir. "Gardevoir," Misty said, kneeling in front of the Psychic-type, "you have an incredible friendship with Max. If the danger was real enough, would you give your life to protect him?"

    "Gaar, Gardevoir," the Psychic-type responded with a nod.

    "You see," Ash explained to Max, "it takes a lot for a human to earn the trust of a Gardevoir. But they have an incredible sense of loyalty that almost no other type of Pokemon does. They've even been known to sacrifice their life for their trainer, but only if they share a deep bond. Since Gardevoir would do that for you -"

    "It means that we have a really strong friendship," Max realized, "just like you and Pikachu."

    "Exactly," Ash laughed.

    "Since when did you know so much about Gardevoir, Ash?" Misty asked with a smirk. "You're normally too busy charging into battle to think about things like loyalty."

    "Are you kidding?" Ash asked. "The best thing about Pokemon is my friendship with them. Being friends is much more important than winning any battle. All of my Pokemon are as close to me as any Gardevoir ever was to it's trainer. Anyways, I know so much about Gardevoir because I almost had one myself."

    "You mean that you almost caught a Gardevoir once?" Max asked excitedly. "They're really rare in the wild, how did you manage to find one?"

    "It wasn't quite like that, Max," Ash laughed. He threw a Poke Ball into the air. "Come on out, Gallade," he called. In a beam of red light, a Pokemon erupted to the ground; roughly the same height as Gardevoir, it looked very similar but at the same time, very different.

    "Erlade," it said.

    "Wow, a Gallade!" Max shouted. "It's so cool! They specialize in close range battling, while Gardevoir prefer long-range battles because that makes moves like Psychic and Shadow Ball easier to use, but Gallade are so dangerous up close. They have huge loyalty to anyone who catches them, and they only evolve when they're -"

    Ash smiled and shook his head slightly as he watched Max regurgitate everything he'd ever heard about Gallade. He turned to Misty and saw that she was smiling slightly too.

    "So, when you say that friendship is more important than any battle, does that include today's?" she asked him.

    "Yup," Ash answered. "I want to win of course, but Cynthia is one of the most powerful trainers alive, and I wouldn't want to force any of my Pokemon into doing something that they didn't want to do. I'll need some luck today, but I've beaten four members of the Elite Four, and done a lot of training too. I think I have a chance, as long as she doesn't use Rayquaza anyways." Misty look puzzled.

    "Why would Cynthia have a Rayquaza?" she asked. "It's a legendary Pokemon, and probably impossible to capture."

    "It's a long story," Ash said with a reminiscing grin, thinking of the time when he, Brock, and Dawn had been caught in the fantasy of a Mismagius.

    "Have you chosen your team yet?" Misty asked. "You have a lot of Pokemon to choose from."

    "Tell me about it," Ash said, shaking his head. "All of them want to battle, but I've decided on my six. I'll need speed, power, and luck to win so I've chosen the six that can help me out most with that. Two of them are on their way right now, so hopefully we'll be able to train a little before the match starts."

    Misty sighed and looked around the battlefield. "I hope that our sparring didn't damage the field before the match," she said.

    "Don't worry about it," Ash said. "The grass will dry, and the pool is self-filling. I can't see any actual damage, so I don't think that you two will have shown me up in front of the world when the match is filmed later today." Misty shoved him playfully.

    "Oh, just go and train," she said, walking over to Max who was still staring at Gallade and spouting facts. "Come on, you," she said, taking Max by the ear and dragging him off.

    "Hey wait, what are you doing? I'm not Brock!" Max yelled.

    "You're looking more and more like him with the way you're staring at that poor Pokemon," Misty said. "Lets leave Ash to train."

    "Okay, okay, just - ouch! - let go of me, it hurts - ouch!"

    Ash chuckled as he watched the two leave. "Some things never change," he said to Pikachu.

    "Pika pika," Pikachu agreed, hopping down from his shoulder.

    Ash began walking towards the other side of the Colosseum. "Come on Gallade, lets get the others and train," he said. "I'm guessing that you want to battle today, right?"

    "Er!" Gallade exclaimed, crossing it's blades and then swinging outwards. Without warning, Ash began running.

    "Catch me if you can!" he called.

    "Er! Lade! Er! Lade!" Gallade muttered under it's breath, running to catch up with his trainer.

    "Pika," Pikachu agreed, running alongside it.

    Laughing, Ash put on a final spurt of speed to reach the exit from the Colosseum before either of his two Pokemon could catch up with him. A huge spurt of fire shot downwards from the sky, enveloping Ash completely and bringing him to a sudden halt.

    "Erlade," the Pokemon called cheerfully as it dodged past the blackened trainer, saluting up at the sky with one of it's blades.

    "Pika pi!" Pikachu called, waving it's arms excitedly at the sky.

    Soot falling off of him at movement, Ash craned his neck skywards, He stared for a few moments until he distinguished two moving orange lights against the brilliance of the sun. The lights quickly grew into two distinct shapes, gliding down to the Colosseum.

    "He's here!" Ash shouted, hopping up and down on alternating feet in his excitement. "And it looks like Liza and Charla came too! I'm down here, Charizard!"

    The fire dragon roared in delight and shot down another torrent of flames, blackening Ash anew.

    "Great to see you again, Ash," Liza smiled as she jumped the last few feet from Charla's back, landing deftly on the ground. "See how accurate Charizard's Flamethrower has gotten? He was able to hit you as you were running, from a couple of hundred feet up in the air! I think you'll be pretty happy with his power too. He's stronger than ever."

    "Great!" Ash smiled, wiping the last of the soot from his face and turning to face his Pokemon. "Charizard, this is gonna be great! Are you ready to help me in my most important battle ever?" Charizard roared and shot jets of fire into the sky.

    "I want to ask you something, Ash," Liza said, suddenly serious.

    "Yeah?" he asked.

    "See," she began, "the thing is that Charizard has just gotten too strong. None of the other Charizard in the Charicific Valley can even match him anymore. He beats them in battle every single time. I don't think that there is anybody left for him to train against anymore. So I was wondering if you'd like to take Charizard back now, and train with him together so that he can get stronger in ways that can't be learnt in the Charicific Valley."

    "You mean... you mean that you want me take Charizard back? He wouldn't live in the Charicific Valley anymore?" Ash asked, stunned.

    "That's right," Liza said eagerly. "You two could be together again properly, for the first time since Johto!"

    "Well I don't know," Ash said slowly. "What do you want to do Charizard?" he asked. "Do you want to stay with your friends in the Charicific Valley, or would you like to be with me again?"

    Without hesitation, Charizard stomped off behind Ash and let out a low roar. Ash looked at him for a moment and then threw his arms around Charizard's neck, laughing as tears streamed down his face.

    "Welcome to the team again, Charizard!" he said.

    "Pika!"

  3. #3
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    Chapter Three: Reunion

    Liza smiled as she watched the three friends reunite, with Gallade waiting a little shyly in the background - he hadn't met Ash's Charizard yet. She turned to Charla who was watching the scene with a little sadness.
    "Don't worry, Charla," she whispered. "We'll visit them as often as we can. It's not as if the trip is a lot longer than it is to Blackthorn City, and we go there a lot, don't we?" Charla gave a sad little roar in reply, but her eyes brightened a little. Liza smiled, and was about to hop onto Charla's back when she noticed the little package that that she was holding securely.

    "How could I have forgotten?" she muttered, slapping her head. "Hey, Ash!" she called turning around, "I have something for you!"

    "Really?" he asked, surprised. "What is it?" Liza took the package from Charla's arms and gave it to Ash.

    "It's a Pokemon egg," she explained. "I found it with Charla the other day. Look at the pattern on the side," she said, pointing towards the flames on the egg shell. "I'm pretty sure that it'll hatch into a Charmander. I think this is from your Charizard, so I want you to have it. Give it to someone special."

    "Wow, Liza... Charla... thanks!" he exclaimed, his face lighting up. "I know just who to give it to!"

    "I'll leave you to warm up with your Pokemon now," Liza said, looking at Charizard fondly. "Well, see you at the match, Ash! Good luck!"

    "Thank you," Ash beamed. "And thank you for looking after Charizard for all of these years. You've taken really good care of him."

    "Don't thank me," Liza said, her face embarrassed as she coughed slightly. "Thank Charla. She spent a lot more time with your Charizard than I did."

    "Well then thank you, Charla," he said, transferring his gaze. "I really appreciate everything you've ever done for him." Charla growled, her orange face tinged with a slight shade of red as she shuffled slightly, looking at the ground. In a sudden movement, she shot two blasts of fire, one at Ash, the other at Charizard. Ash stood there, blackened again as Charla took to the air, circled around, swept down and pulled Liza onto her back.

    "Never get on the good side of a Charizard," Liza chuckled to herself as Charla swept out of the Colosseum, leaving Ash and Charizard out of sight.

    Ash sighed as he wiped his face clean again and looked down at his now crispy Sinnoh outfit. I knew I shouldn't have put this on today, he thought.

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

    After a quick wash and change into his old Hoenn outfit, Ash stepped back outside, stretching in the fresh air again.
    "I guess Charizard must have been extra-pleased to see you today, Ash," Brock said humourously as he came around the corner of the building. "You don't normally need to change after one his Flamethrowers." Ash just sighed, thinking about his ruined clothes. "Is your team picked yet?" Brock asked.

    Ash nodded. "I'm going with Pikachu and Charizard," he said, "as well as Sceptile, Snorlax, and Gallade."

    "Who's the last member of your team? Don't tell me that you haven't decided yet!"

    Ash just smiled. "Who? That, my friend, will be a mystery until the battle," he laughed. He took a step forwards and walked into something soft. "Oof," he gasped, falling to the ground hard.

    "Ash, what's wrong?" Brock asked, concerned.

    "I walked into something," he groaned, standing upright.

    "But there's nothing there," Brock said, eying the spot in trepidation before looking carefully around both of them.

    Could be a Light Screen, or a Reflect I suppose, Ash thought. But they're normally hard, not soft. He took a step towards Brock and crashed again.

    "Ash!" Brock shouted as Ash looked up, seemingly dazed. Then, to Brock's surprise, he gave a huge grin.

    "I think my final team member's just arrived," he said.

    "I didn't know you'd caught any Pokemon that could make themselves invisible," Brock noted.

    "I haven't, but I am friends with one," Ash explained. He reached out his hand and lightly began to move his fingers in a tickling motion. There was a chirping noise that sounded a little like laughter, and suddenly a white and red dragon materialized. Brock's jaw dropped.

    "La - Latias?" he whispered in disbelief. "How... how did you..."

    "I called Lorenzo and Bianca in Alto Mare," Ash explained as Latias nuzzled up to him, crooning happily. "They went to find Latias, and she was more than happy to come over."

    "Is it allowed?" he asked doubtfully, eying the Eon Pokemon. Ash shrugged.

    "I don't see why it wouldn't be," he said. "When I battled Noland he used Articuno, and they were just friends. But you should know the rules, Brock, you are the referee."

    "True," Brock sighed. "Well, I think that it'll be okay, but I'll have to double-check the rules just to be safe. You don't want to battle Cynthia with just five Pokemon."

    "Thanks, Brock," Ash smiled. "I'd better start training now though. I keep getting distracted, and I don't want to go into battle without warming up!"

    "Good luck, Ash," Brock said as the trainer walked back towards the Colosseum.

    "Hey, Brock..." Ash said, pausing a moment.

    "Yes?" the breeder replied.

    "Thanks for agreeing to stay here as the official referee for the Battle Colosseum. I couldn't have picked a better choice." Brock smiled.

    "Thanks for asking if I could be the one to have the job," he said. "Go on, you need to start warming up. I'll check on the egg that Liza gave you while I look over the rules to make sure that Latias is allowed to compete" Ash laughed.

    "Race you," he called to Latias, running towards the training ground at the side of the Colosseum. She chirped happily and tore off after him, Pikachu running behind.

    Panting hard, Ash passed by the Colosseum. He was almost in the training grounds when Pikachu shot forwards with a Quick Attack. Momentarily stunned, he paused and Latias took that advantage to knock his feet from under him as she followed Pikachu into the grounds.

    He picked himself off of the ground, dismayed by what had happened. He entered the training ground and was surprised to see his six choices for the match already standing in line, waiting for him: Snorlax, looking to see if Ash had brought in any food; Sceptile, leaning casually against a tree with a twig in it's mouth; Charizard, eying the strength of the grass-type and wondering if he'd make a good opponent, despite the type-differences; Gallade, blades crossed across his chest as he waited for the training to begin; Latias, hovering off the ground and in the midst of a conversation with Pikachu, who sat on her back.

    "Are you ready guys?" Ash asked them. There was an assorted chorus of cries, chirpings, and roars. "This is the biggest match any of us have ever had," he said to them. "I still remember when Cynthia beat all six of Paul's Pokemon, including his Torterra, while only using her Garchomp. This is going to be really tough, but I know that we can do it!" Charizard greeted Ash's statement with a burst of fire from his mouth. Sceptile glanced sideways at the fire-type, eying his strength.

    "Then let's get training!" Ash said. "Now remember, we're just warming up, not actually fighting. Split into pairs and try some practice attacks."

    Sceptile and Charizard immediately turned to face each other, the fire-type's tail flame flickering eagerly, the grass-type's mouth relaxed into an easy smile. Snorlax lumbered around the pair to introduce itself to Gallade, who examined the enormous Pokemon with interest. Pikachu tapped Latias on the shoulder and her eyes brightened. She had been afraid that, not knowing any of Ash's Pokemon, they wouldn't want to be around her, or train with her. Pikachu jumped off her back and turned to face her, his red cheeks crackling furiously with electricity.

    "Hold up, Pikachu," Ash called, drawing out his PokeDex. "I want to check out Latias's moves first." He scanned Latias, gaining her Dex data before pressing a button on the right to check out what moves she knew.

    "Let's see..." he muttered. "Latias, try a Dragonbreath attack on that tree over there," he called. Latias turned to the tree and opened her mouth, forming a green ball that seemed to crackle with power. Charizard, watching carefully out of the corner of his eye snorted disdainfully when she didn't release the attack straight away, almost forgetting to dodge Sceptile's Bullet Seed attack. When Latias judged that she'd stored enough energy she shot the Dragonbreath powerfully. It slammed straight into the tree, burning a hole right through it. Charizard, stunned at the power, stood stock-still and took a Leaf Blade in the shoulder. Stumbling backwards he watched Latias with a new respect in his eyes. By waiting for only a few seconds, she had built up the attack to a power level that could never be achieved by firing straight away, something that he had never thought of.

    "That's some power!" Ash exclaimed. "Now, try a Zen Headbutt to knock the tree down; Sceptile, Gallade, when the tree falls slice it apart with your Leaf Blade and Psycho Cut!" Latias lunged at the tree, the top of her head glowing a bright blue and almost seeming to cast a protective sheet of glass over herself. She smashed into the tree and broke through easily; Sceptile and Gallade both leaped forwards, the leaves on Sceptile's arms extended and glowing a bright green, Gallade's blades a shimmering lavender. They both sliced at the tree expertly, and with blinding speed. In almost no time there was a tall pile of firewood standing where the tree had been.

    "Excellent!" Ash said happily, failing to notice a large shadow passing over him, although all of his Pokemon noticed it. "You're all really strong," he continued, "you'll be fantastic in the match today!"

    "Pigott!" Pikachu said. Ash looked at his friend funnily.

    "What did you just say, Pikachu?"

    "Pika, chu pikachu," Pikachu said, shaking his head.

    "That's funny, I could have sworn that you were talking like a Pidgeotto," he said.

    "Er!" Gallade said, pointing one of his blades behind Ash.

    "Huh?" he asked, looking extremely confused.

    "I think that your Gallade is telling you to look behind you," a familiar voice laughed as she placed her hand on his shoulders. Ash felt his knees grow weak and his face run hot as he turned to look into the laughing sapphire eyes of May.

  4. #4
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    This is the last chapter for now.

    Chapter Four: Buildup


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    "M-M-May," Ash stammered, completely shocked.
    "A-A-Ash," she laughed back.

    "How did you get here?" he asked, somehow managing to string together a coherent sentence.

    "I caught a lift from one of your old friends," she said, turning to look at the beautiful hawk-like Pokemon behind her. Ash's eyes widened as he took in the sight of the tan body, and the long, colourful head feathers that cascaded down it's back.

    "Pidgeot?" he murmured, taking a couple of steps forward.

    "Pigeot!" the flying-type responded, flapping it's wings.

    "I... I can't believe it," he said softly. "How come you were in the Johto region? How did you know who May was, and where I was?"

    "I think I can answer that, Ashy-boy," he heard an old friend say. Ash whirled around to see his old rival Gary approaching, with Professor Oak and his mother, Delia Ketchum, close behind. "You see," Gary said, "after you told Grandad about the storm and about how May wouldn't be able to come and see your battle today, he told us. We figured that it was just too bad that one of your closest friends wouldn't be able to be there when the rest of us would, so we decided to try and think of a way to get May here."

    "That's when Gary had a real brainwave," Professor Oak cut in. "He came up with the idea of sending your old Pidgeot to bring her here. While I got in touch with May at the Cianwood Pokemon Centre, Gary went out to see if he could find you Pidgeot. Tracey had told us that he'd seen it early that morning, so we knew that it was in the area."

    "Yeah, it didn't take long to find Pidgeot," Gary said. "Once I was able to explain the situation to it, it was more than happy to go to Cianwood. I took it over to your house because I knew that you have a picture of May in there. Once I found the picture and showed it to Pidgeot, it just took off. I don't think I've ever seen a Pokemon move so fast!"

    "I didn't know that you had a picture of me, Ash," May said. Ash's stomach jumped a little nervously and he felt his face begin to grow warm again. He quickly turned and looked over at the six Pokemon, noticing that Latias was looking between him and May curiously.

    "It's just a picture of you, me, Brock, and Max," he said. "We had it taken when we all met up by accident last year."

    "Ohh, that picture," May nodded in comprehension. "I didn't realize that it was so visible - I figured that it would be stuck in a drawer gathering dust or something."

    "Eh?" Gary asked. "That wasn't the picture that I was talking about. It was the other one, framed on your de-" Ash's face went beet red. Luckily for him, Latias caused a minor distraction by swooping forwards and knocking Gary's feet out from under him playfully before he could finish the sentence.

    While Latias zoomed playfully around Oak, Delia, and Gary, distracting them completely, Ash collapsed to his knees with his head in his hands, groaning silently. How could I have left that picture out in plain sight? he berated himself. That's so embarrassing that Gary just blurted that out... I hope that May wasn't listening too closely.

    "Did I hear something about a picture of me, Ash?" he heard May whisper sweetly into his ear. He went scarlet again, failing to see Sceptile, Charizard, and Gallade all giving each other knowing looks as they stood over him.

    "Umm, see, the thing is, I, Pikachu, photo-" he lapsed into an incoherent string of letters and syllables, the only words May actually able to understand being "nice frame," and "put away." She grinned, enjoying his discomfort as he babbled on. Finally, she put her hand over his mouth, forcing him to stop talking.

    "That's better," she laughed, taking her hand away. "Come on Ash, concentrate. Look, Dawn's running over. I wonder why she's in such a hurry?" Dawn's rush had caught the attention of Professor Oak, Delia, and Gary too. Latias took the opportunity to escape from their praise and fly playfully around May.

    "Ash!" Dawn called out breathlessly as soon as she got close. "Cynthia's here! You've got to greet her before the battle starts, but you'd better hurry, the first people in the audience are already finding their seats and, oh Ash, is that a Latias!?" Ash grinned as she came to a skidding halt in front of the Legendary Pokemon, who eyed her quizzically.

    "Thanks for telling me about Cynthia, Dawn," he said as Oak, Delia and Gary began to hurry to the Colosseum. "Where is she?"

    "Hmm? Oh, Misty and Max took her to your house. I think she's in the Living Room," Dawn said, still staring at Latias with a look of absolute wonder.

    "Thanks Dawn. I guess we should go, huh Pikachu?" he asked his friend.

    "Pika," Pikachu agreed, jumping onto his shoulder. Ash turned to his Pokemon and quickly returned them all.

    "Ash, I'll come with you," May volunteered. Ash stumbled, but caught his footing in time.

    "That's okay, May," he said. "You should head into the stands now while there's still time to get good seats. I have some reserved especially for all my friends, and even though I thought you wouldn't be able to come today, I set one aside just in case. Anyways, Latias really seems to like you, so I'll need you to look after her for a little while."

    "Alright, Ash," May said, looking a little disappointed. "Good luck today. I'll see you after the match, I guess." She stepped forwards and gave Ash a quick, close hug before turning and heading in the direction of the battlefield, Latias at her side. "Come on Pidgeot," she called, and the flying type took to the air after her, brushing Ash's head lightly with one wing as it passed.

    Ash stood there for a moment, still feeling the warmth of May's hug on his body. His cheeks began to glow again.

    "Looks like Ash has a girlfriend," Dawn grinned, snapping Ash back to reality. He flushed even deeper.

    "I do not," he said defensively. "I just haven't seen her in a while, and I'm really glad that she was able to come today."

    "Sure," Dawn taunted as she began to head over to Ash's house. "I guess I'll have to go and apologize to Cynthia then, tell her about how you were too busy saying goodbye to your girlfriend to even say hello to her." She giggled to herself and began to run.

    "Hey, wait!" Ash shouted, determined to beat her to Cynthia so that she couldn't spread any tall tales about him.

    "Pika," Pikachu sighed before taking off after the two humans.

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    "Ash," Cynthia said, rising from her seat to shake his hand. "It's good to see you again. Are you ready for our battle?"
    "I'm as ready as I'll ever be!" he said. "You'd better watch out though, Cynthia. You didn't get where you are today by luck, but neither did I! If you think that this match will be easy then you'll have to think again!"

    "Just what I wanted to hear!" Cynthia said, pounding her fist into her open hand in excitement as she sat down again. "Win or lose today, Ash, I want you to promise me two things."

    "Those being?" Ash asked.

    "You'll give this battle everything you have!"

    "No worries there," Dawn laughed. "What's the second thing?"

    "We'll go out for some ice cream afterwards - you, me, and all of your friends."

    "I think that'll be okay," Ash said with a grin. Dawn nodded eagerly.

    "Great," Cynthia smiled. She stood and walked to the door. "I'll be waiting in the Colosseum, Ash," she said over her shoulder. "Good luck!" With that, she walked out towards the battlefield.

    "Are you ready, Pikachu?" Ash asked as Brock entered the room.

    "Pika pika!"

    "I've checked the rulebook Ash," Brock said quickly before the trainer could run out the room. "There's nothing that says using Latias is against the rules. You'll be able to use her without any problems."

    "Thanks, Brock," Ash said, relief evident on his face. "I was a little worried, but I'm glad that you were able to check for me." He began to walk towards the door, Brock at his side, Pikachu on his shoulder, and Dawn close behind.

    "I checked the egg too," Brock said. "It's definitely a Charmander egg. I'm not sure how long it will be until it hatches though. That all depends on the trainer who carries it."

    "Well, I already have Charizard," Ash said, "so I think that I'll give the egg to someone."

    "Who do you plan on giving it to?" Brock asked. For a moment Ash's face flushed pink, but he quickly managed to get it back to his normal colour, hoping that Brock and Pikachu hadn't noticed.

    "There's only one person I could give it to," he said quietly in response.

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    May looked out over the battlefield in awe. "It's enormous," she said. "I've never seen a battlefield this size, or this shape either."
    "It was supposed to incorporate portions of each of the four main battlefields used in a regular tournament," Max said beside her. "Grass, Rock, Water, and Ice. The only thing was, they couldn't figure out how to add the Ice part of the field, so they just left it out. They made it this size and shape so that Pokemon would have as much room to manoeuvre as possible. It's one thing using a Caterpie or a Bidoof in a regular-sized battlefield, and another using a Gyarados or a Lapras, who wouldn't have as much room to use their full potential."

    "Wow," May whispered.

    "Look," Max said, pointing towards the pool. "The pool was put in so that water Pokemon could fight too. I mean, you can use a Blastoise on land, but it's almost impossible to use something like a Lumineon. I think the best parts about the Colosseum is how the fields were melded, and the boundaries. Grass and Rock are always interchanging, so there is no set advantage anywhere on the field."

    "Why do you like the boundaries so much?" May asked him.

    "They go right up to the walls," she heard a very familiar voice say.

    "Dad!" May squealed, turning around. Norman grinned at her, Caroline right next to him.

    "We couldn't miss this match," Norman said. "Not after everything Ash has done for us, and you two kids."

    "We were so thrilled to get a personal invitation," Caroline beamed. "I really hope Ash wins. Just imagine, he's only one win away from becoming an official Pokemon Master!"

    "But as I was saying," Norman said, leaning in to May quickly before Caroline could took the conversation in a different direction, "the boundaries of the battlefield go right up to the walls. That way, a Pokemon can only be declared out-of-bounds if it actually goes into the audience."

    "That's a fantastic way to do it," May murmured. "It gives every Pokemon the chance to battle for as long as they can." She frowned as she looked at something that didn't seem quite right. "What are those little black marks scattered on the field?" she asked, realizing what looked wrong. "They're really clustered together in some places."

    "I have no idea," Max shrugged. "I never noticed them when I was sparring with Misty earlier." May felt a tap on her shoulder.

    "Excuse me," a pleasant voice said, "but is that your friend?" May looked beside her and gasped in shock. The girl next to her, wearing a green shirt, and white shorts and hat was leaning dangerously over the edge of the seat trying to get the attention of the four people selling popcorn, drinks, and other snacks who were currently in the section below them - a good ten-foot drop. May seized her and dragged her back into her seat. The girl looked at May with a hurt expression in her eyes.

    "Don't do that," May whispered furiously. "You almost fell! What would have happened if you'd done that?"

    The girl began flapping her arms soundlessly, with a truly innocent smile on her face.

    "You can't do that yet!" May told her. "Remember our plan - you have to stay hidden until Ash calls you. Then you can transform, but not now. It would cause too much mayhem."

    Realization crossed the girl's face, and she nodded soundlessly, flattening herself into her seat, but looking almost sulky. May sighed in relief that she wasn't in danger anymore.

    "Thanks," she said, turning to the person behind her. Her jaw dropped. "Anabel?" she asked. "What are you doing here, you and -" her eyes ran along the people next to her. "Are all of the Frontier Brains here?" she asked, her eyes taking in Noland, Brandon, and Lucy.

    "Most of them," Anabel said, her lavender hair fluttering slightly in the breeze. "Greta is on the other side of the reserved section with Tucker. Spenser is really old now, and he couldn't make the journey. He retired a couple of years ago meaning that there are still seven Frontier Brains, including Ash." May nodded in understanding, wondering briefly how old Spenser really was.

    A sudden roar shook the Colosseum. Both scoreboards, one on each side of the battlefield had just lit up. May looked down at the field and saw Brock begin to walk towards the pool in the centre of the field, and Dawn approaching the same spot from the other side.

    They met in the centre of the field and Brock raised his arms for silence. "This is a six-on-six match between the Champion Cynthia -" huge roars flooded across the Colosseum again, and the scoreboard lit up to display CYNTHIA - CELESTIC TOWN in green - "and the Challenger, Ash!" More screams, and the second-half of the scoreboard lit up to read ASH - PALLET TOWN in red. Brock gestured for silence again.

    "I am the referee for this event. Our commentator today is Dawn!" The crowd roared again as Dawn waved her hands in acknowledgement, a big smile on her face. "There is no time limit for this match," Brock continued. "Both the champion and the challenger may substitute Pokemon at any time." Dawn took over.

    "Both Cynthia and Ash are now approaching the Colosseum," she called out. "Before they get here, the battlefield will make it's final transformation!" She and Brock hurried off the pitch as several mechanical noises filled the air.

    Long, curving sections of the battlefield fell below the ground, only to have water from the self-replenishing pool fill the gaps. May gasped. "This really give Water Pokemon a real chance to fight," she said to herself. Then her eyes widened as she saw what all of the black marks were for. They too had dropped into the ground, and now trees of all shapes and sizes were springing up in random locations.

    "That must have taken a lot of planning to be able to fit trees into the battlefield, and still enable everyone to see the battle at all times," she heard Norman say.

    "It's... fantastic," May murmured, unable to believe the look of the battlefield. Leading from the pool, rivers now ran through the Colosseum. Trees were grouped close together in clusters, or just standing alone as oddballs.

    The noise reached levels that made May wince. A gigantic television screen next to each scoreboard had turned on. It was in a split-screen, and two shadowy figures were emerging from the brilliant lights behind them.

  5. #5
    Triumphant Return betagold's Avatar
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    My god... I couldn't stop reading. After the chapters you put up here, I had to go to Fanfiction and read the rest. Great story. Hopefully you'll finish it one day. Here's to at least 18 more chapters!

  6. #6
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Thanks for the review betagold. I'm currently working on Chapter 19, and it's a long one for my story. Hopefully it'll be up soon. In the meantime, for everyone else here's Chapter 5. From this point on, I'll post one chapter here a day until I run out of updated chapters.

    Chapter Five: Battle


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    The Colosseum erupted in cheering as Ash and Cynthia stepped onto the battlefield from opposing ends of the pitch. It was so loud that May was forced to cover her ears. She glanced sideways and give an inaudible shriek of terror. The girl who sat mutely beside her had jumped up when Ash walked into view and waved her arms wildly at him, once again nearly overbalancing. May groaned and dragged her back from the edge.

    Cynthia stood quietly, a tight smile on her face as she glanced quickly around the battlefield, noting the positions of the rivers, rocks, and trees. Ash was standing opposite her, watching his opponent as she carefully observed the battlefield. A shudder of joy ran through his chest. This is it, he thought. If I win this battle, I will be a Pokemon Master!

    Two tall platforms now began to raise themselves out of the ground, both coloured jet-black. With Pikachu on his shoulder, Ash began to climb up the platform. As he reached the top and looked out over the battlefield, the audience quieted down a little.

    "We will now determine which trainer shall choose their first Pokemon," Dawn's voice broke out, cutting through the little noise that remained. A large wheel with an alternating green-and-red pattern appeared in between the two still photos of Cynthia and Ash on the scoreboard. It began to glow and spin wildly for a moment before slowing down, and finally stopping on a red segment. Up in the stands, May, Max, Misty, Gary, and the rest of Ash's supporters groaned.

    "And Ash Ketchum will make the first choice!" Dawn announced. Ash smiled at Cynthia and then looked up at the audience. It was inadvertent, but his gaze met May's. Their eyes locked for a moment, and then with an almost invisible pink tinge on his face, he tore his gaze away. He noted Pidgeot perching on top of the Colosseum before returning his eyes to the battlefield. With a grin, he drew out a Poke Ball and enlarged it with a click.

    "Snorlax, I choose you!" he shouted. With a blinding flash of red light, the gigantic Pokemon appeared amongst the rocks. Ash caught his Poke Ball and glanced across at Cynthia, wondering what Pokemon she would pick.

    "Gastrodon! To me!" Cynthia called, and in another flash of red light a pink and brown sea slug appeared on a patch of grass.

    "Ash has chosen his Snorlax, caught in the Orange Islands, and Cynthia will be starting with her West-Sinnoh Gastrodon!" Dawn informed the crowd.

    "Both combatants ready?" Brock asked. He raised both his red and green flags. "Begin!"

    "Gastrodon, into the pool!" Cynthia cried.

    "Snorlax, cut it off and use Mega Punch!" Ash countered. Gastrodon began to move, rather sluggishly at first but picking up speed as it's six flippers began to move more quickly. Snorlax charged in, it's hand glowing a brilliant white as it formed into a fist.

    Ash watched carefully as Snorlax moved around a rock, the large Pokemon running as fast as it could. It would be close, but it looked as if Snorlax would reach Gastrodon before it could jump into the water. Snorlax moved closer, and began to swing it's fist at the giant sea slug.

    "Gastrodon, Harden!" Cynthia commanded at the last possible moment. A flash ran over Gastrodon's body, and Snorlax's Mega Punch bounced off harmlessly.

    "Snor..." the Pokemon cried in surprise.

    "Now use Mud Bomb!" Cynthia shouted. At point-blank range, her Gastrodon fired several blobs of earth which exploded on impact with Snorlax's face, driving it back into the rocks with a force that shattered several of them.

    "Snorlax, are you okay?" Ash shouted.

    "Lax..." it responded, pawing at it's eyes to try and remove the dirt.

    "Try a Headbutt!" Ash decided. Snorlax charged, head down towards the Gastrodon. Cynthia watched immobile as Snorlax ran right past the Gastrodon without even realizing it. "No, it's behind you!" Ash cried out desperately. Snorlax stopped in confusion and looked about, trying to spot it's opponent.

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    "Snorlax must have gotten some dirt in his eyes from that Mud Bomb," May realized.
    "You mean it can't see?" Max asked in horror.

    "Why else would it have missed Gastrodon like that?" she answered

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    "Gastrodon, into the water and use Water Pulse!" Cynthia commanded, believing herself to now be in charge of this round. Gastrodon slipped easily into the pool at the centre of the field and immediately launched a devastating ball of water at Snorlax.
    "Snorlax, run right at it and use Headbutt!" Ash shouted. The crowd gasped in disbelief as Snorlax charged straight for the attack. There was a devastating sound of imploding water and spray splashed in all directions. Ash grinned as the water fell to the ground and revealed Snorlax still running straight towards the pool. Cynthia gaped in disbelief.

    "Use Ice Punch!" Ash yelled, and a missive fist of ice crashed down onto the surface of the water. The sheet of water froze and spread across the pool and rivers in the Colosseum.

    "Todon," the Gastrodon managed to blurt out before the sheet of ice enveloped it as well, freezing it immobile in the pond.

    "What an incredible strategy!" Dawn said in excitement. "Ash used Gastrodon's own Water Pulse to clear Snorlax's vision, and then had Snorlax use Ice Punch to freeze the pool and immobilize Gastrodon!"

    "Gastrodon, return," Cynthia said quietly, recalling the frozen Pokemon. "You did a good job wearing down Snorlax, Gastrodon. I can still use you later. Now, Spiritomb! To me!" she called, sending out her second Pokemon. A large purple ghost-type emerged, covered in green circular markings.

    "Spir..." it hissed.

    "And Cynthia's second Pokemon is the rare Spiritomb, a ghost-dark type!" Dawn informed everyone.

    "Use Ominous Wind!" Cynthia ordered. A dark blast of wind emanated from the Pokemon's mouth and swirled at high speed towards Snorlax.

    "Snorlax, dodge it!" Ash called out desperately. Snorlax lumbered to get away, but the wind slammed right into the Pokemon, causing no damage at all.

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    "I don't get it," Max muttered. "Ominous Wind is a ghost-type attack, and has no effect on normal types. I don't understand why Cynthia would use it, unless..." He gasped and sat bolt upright.
    "What's wrong?" May asked.

    "Ominous Wind won't do any damage to Snorlax, but it'll make Spiritomb stronger!" Max told her urgently. It was May's turn to gasp.

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    "Snorlax, use a Crunch attack," Ash shouted at his Pokemon. Snorlax began to move towards Spiritomb, mouth open and teeth gleaming purple.
    "Spiritomb, Faint Attack," Cynthia retaliated calmly. The ghost type vanished, causing Snorlax to stop and look to see where it had gone. It reappeared directly behind the normal-type and rammed itself into the small of Snorlax's back. The normal-type stumbled onto it's belly, and rolled over.

    "Snorlax, it's time to Rest," Ash said, seeing how little energy it had left.

    "Curse, Spiritomb," Cynthia commanded. A look of pain crossed the ghost-type's face as it shrouded itself in a grey mist which extended over to Snorlax.

    "Spir..." it hissed in agony, but Snorlax was also beginning to moan in pain as it's recovered health began to fade away. Ash gritted his teeth in frustration. While Snorlax was asleep, he couldn't attack! Could he? It all suddenly clicked in Ash's mind.

    "Snorlax, use Sleep Talk!" Ash shouted. Snorlax gave a large yawn, and suddenly the Spiritomb drifted to the ground, eyes closed in it's sleep.

    "What?" Cynthia gasped.

    "Sleep Talk again!" Snorlax sprang forwards, it's fist glowing icily again. It connected hard with the sleeping ghost-type, knocking it straight out.

    "Spiritomb is unable to battle!" Brock announced, raising his green flag to symbolize Cynthia's loss. The picture of Spiritomb on the scoreboard faded, leaving only an outline of the Pokemon.

    "Unbelievable!" Dawn shouted out. "Ash was able to command Snorlax to use a Sleep Talk - a difficult move to pull off successfully - which transformed into a Yawn attack, and then an Ice Punch! For those who don't know, Sleep Talk is a little like Assist in that any move used is completely random. It only works if the Pokemon using it is asleep though."

    Cynthia recalled her Spiritomb. "Good job, Spiritomb," she said quietly. "I'm sorry that I messed up when I chose your attacks. But that doesn't matter, because my next choice will be all I need! Milotic, to me!"

    "Miko!" the beautiful serpent-like water-type sang out as it emerged onto one of the frozen rivers.

    "Snorlax, we can do this!" Ash told his Pokemon. "All we need is one good Ice Punch! Snorlax?" The grey mist suddenly tightened over the normal-type and then vanished, leaving it immobile on the ground.

    "Snorlax is unable to battle!" Brock ruled, raising his red flag.

    "And it looks like Spiritomb's Curse finally took it's toll on Snorlax," Dawn told the crowd. "Let's see what Ash's second choice will be."

    "Good job, Snorlax," Ash said with a smile as he recalled it. "You did some damage to Gastrodon, and you took out her Spiritomb. Now, I choose you! Sceptile!"

    "Tile!" the grass-type said as it emerged, a twig in it's mouth.

    "I hope you don't think that a type advantage will help you win" Cynthia smirked. "I have defences for when I'm at a disadvantage."

    "I wouldn't expect any less," Ash shot back. "Sceptile, use Bullet Seed!" The grass-type shot a burst of glowing green seeds towards Milotic.

    "Milotic, to the pool!" Cynthia commanded. Awkwardly at first, her Milotic began to slither towards the pool. She gained speed as she moved along the slick surface, just barely avoiding the Bullet Seed.

    "Keep it up, Sceptile," Ash said. "Fire your Bullet Seed ahead of Milotic, it won't be able to dodge!"

    "Tile," Sceptile responded, and shot another burst of seeds from it's mouth. The attack landed directly in the path of Milotic, the blast knocking her onto dry land.

    "Now use Leaf Blade!"

    Cynthia glared as she looked down onto the battlefield. Ash was good, much better than she had expected. No matter what she tried, he always seemed to be able to outmanoeuvre her. Maybe it's the battlefield, she thought. He's bound to know it reasonably well, after all, it is his. But if that were true then no trainer would ever beat a Gym Leader. Suddenly, she saw an opening.

    "Milotic," she called, "dive into the water!" At the last possible moment, her Milotic dived into a hole in the ice created by Sceptile's Bullet Seed. The Leaf Blade barely missed. "Now use Ice Beam!" she shouted.

    Milotic's head burst back out of the water. She fired an Ice Beam at point-blank range. It smashed into Sceptile, and the grass-type was sent flying.

    "Sceptile!" Ash yelled in horror. "Sceptile! Are you okay?"

    "Sceptile," the grass-type growled, managing to climb to it's knees painfully.

    "Milotic, swim to the centre of the pool and use Aqua Ring, followed by Aqua Tail!" Cynthia shouted.

    "Miko," Milotic acknowledged, and then dived under the water again. Her sinuous shape was visible beneath the ice as she made her way to the pool in the centre of the field.

    "Sceptile, I know you've taken a lot of damage, but that won't stop us! Solarbeam!" Ash told his Pokemon. The yellow orbs on Sceptile's back began to slowly glow yellow as they absorbed the sunlight.

    With a large cracking noise, the ice in the pool was blown skywards by a tornado of revolving water - Aqua Ring. As the shattered ice dropped back down, Milotic's tail glowed a deep blue.

    "Your Sceptile's about to be knocked out, Ash," Cynthia smirked. "It can't possibly overcome a bombardment of ice chunks, and Milotic's recovering health. One of the perks of Aqua Ring, I have to say."

    Ash gritted his teeth as the Aqua Tail lashed out and connected with the falling ice, sending it soaring at high-speed towards Sceptile. Sceptile watched, grimacing, as the ice approached. Then, it felt the orbs stop taking in energy.

    "Tile!" Sceptile shrieked, and the Solarbeam launched. A powerful, pure-white beam shot from Sceptile's mouth. It destroyed the approaching ice chunks, smashed through the Aqua Ring, and made a direct hit with Milotic.

    "Look at that power!" Dawn gasped. "That Solarbeam broke through two attacks and scored massive damage against Milotic!"

    "Quick Attack!" Ash shouted.

    "Giga Impact!" Cynthia commanded.

    Sceptile shot forwards at an incredible speed, and Milotic charged out of the water, he head covered in a silver aura as she writhed in midair towards her opponent.

    "Leaf Blade!" Ash shouted.

    No Leaf Blade can stop Milotic's Giga Impact, Cynthia thought. Her eyes widened. At the last possible moment Sceptile used the speed of the Quick Attack to dodge Milotic's attack, spin around in midair, and then lash out with a devastating Leaf Blade that sent Milotic crashing to the ground.

    "Milotic!" Cynthia cried out.

    "Finish it with Frenzy Plant!" Ash shouted as Sceptile landed.

    "Sceeep TILE!" Sceptile roared, eyes glowing green. Enormous spiny roots shot out of the ground and smashed into Milotic, sending her spinning through the air to crash among one of the rock portions of the battlefield.

    "Milotic is unable to battle!" Brock announced.

    "What a move!" Dawn cheered. "That Frenzy Plant, the most powerful grass attack of all really shook Milotic up! But Sceptile's definitely looking tired now. We'll have to see how that affects it in the next battle."

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    With a huge, pent-up sigh of relief, May relaxed into her chair. She wiped her forehead. Each of Cynthia's Pokemon was more powerful than the last. Only two of hers had been knocked out - although some serious damage had been done to her Gastrodon - but Ash's Snorlax was also out, and Sceptile looked like it was on the point of collapsing.
    "You'll just have to trust in your Pokemon, Ash," she murmured to herself. "I hope you won't be too disappointed if you lose though." The girl next to her tugged her arm. May looked over and saw a look of worry on her face.

    "Don't worry," she reassured the girl. "I know that Ash can win. I just hope that his strategy will work out, that's all. I believe he can do it - and that you can too." The girl smiled and looked back towards the battlefield.

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    "Good job, Milotic," Cynthia said, recalling her Pokemon. "I won't let you down next time. Now, to me! Roserade!"
    "Rosé," her Roserade announced as it stepped daintily forwards to face the exhausted Sceptile.

    "Sceptile, return!" Ash called. "Great job, Sceptile. That Ice Beam took a lot out of you though, and you should rest for later on. Now, Charizard! I choose you!"

    In the familiar burst of red light, Charizard emerged. It looked and saw the Roserade standing opposite. Charizard's eyes narrowed. The Roserade didn't look very tough, but Charizard could sense that it was a powerful combatant.

    "Are you ready, Charizard?" Ash asked. The fire-type roared. "Into the air!" he shouted. Sweeping it's wings in huge bursts of power, Charizard began to ascend into the sky.

    "Roserade, we can fight past the type disadvantage!" Cynthia said calmly. "Use Poison Sting!"

    "Rosé," the grass-type acknowledged as it shots streams of purple darts towards the flying Charizard.

    "Counter with Flamethrower!" Ash called.

    Charizard launched a full breath of fiery flames from it's mouth just in time. The Poison Sting collided with the Flamethrower, but shot straight through, the Flamethrower only slowing the attack down. Charizard was forced to roll in midair to avoid the attack. The slightly slower Roserade wasn't quite as lucky; it was forced to jump backwards to avoid the Flamethrower, but a few streams of the cut-up fire scored a hit on her arm.

    "Rade," she hissed in anger, glaring up at Charizard.

    "Use a Mega Punch!" Ash shouted. Charizard went into a steep dive, it's fist glowing white.

    "Secret Power!" Cynthia retaliated. Roserade held it's two arms together and shot out a gleaming white beam. It smashed into Charizard's wing, sending the Pokemon spinning out of control. With a roar of surprise and pain, Charizard barrelled deep into the ground, sending a gigantic cloud of dust into the air that hid the Pokemon from sight.

    "Charizard!" Ash screamed.

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

    May and Max both leapt up from their seats in horror. "Charizard!" they yelled in perfect timing with Ash.
    "That isn't good," Norman said in a low voice. "Charizard had the momentum of the dive behind it, and the spinning only increased the power. That had to have done a lot of damage."

    "It's not over just yet," Anabel said confidently.

    "How can you say that?" Max asked. "Charizard was just smashed into the ground!" Anabel winked at him.

    "When you've been battling for as long as Ash and Charizard have, you're bound to have a few tricks up your sleeve," she said. "I don't know if you saw it, but I sure did."

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

    "Roserade," Cynthia said, confident that the victory was hers. "Use Leaf Storm!" A cloud of razor-sharp leaves shot towards the place were Charizard had fallen. All of Ash's supporters watched in horror, Misty and May both closing their eyes to avoid the sight.
    "Flare Blitz!" Ash roared.

    A red glow emanated from the huge dust cloud, and Charizard burst into view, wreathed in flames, only his outline visible in a manner similar to when a Pokemon used Volt Tackle. His eyes tinged red, Charizard gave a roar that echoed around the Colosseum and the he launched into a high-powered flight. The Leaf Storm slammed into the high-temperature flames, but not a single leaf touched it's target. Like a sizzling bullet, he struck Roserade dead on. The grass-type smashed through several boulders before coming to rest against the boundary wall.

    "Roserade!" Cynthia screamed.

    "Roserade is unable to battle!" Brock ruled. "The victor of this round is Charizard!"

    "And Ash knocks out his third opponent!" Dawn shouted into the microphone. "Since Cynthia has lost three of her Pokemon, we'll take a ten-minute break to allow her to regroup. We'll see you all back here in a couple of minutes!"

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

    "How'd you do it, Ash?" Misty demanded. She, May, Max, Noland, Anabel, Professor Oak, Delia, Gary, and the silent girl had all rushed down to his training room as soon as the ten-minute break had been announced.
    "How'd I do what?" he asked innocently.

    "How did Charizard not faint when it crashed into the ground like that? I've never seen a Pokemon take damage like that and manage to keep on battling, let alone use a Flare Blitz which hurts it even more!"

    Ash shrugged. "I wasn't worried about Flare Blitz because of the training Charizard's done. When I first called Liza and told her I'd need Charizard to battle Cynthia, she told me how Charizard had recently learned that move. I asked her if she could get Charizard to use that attack as often as possible so that the recoil effect wouldn't damage it as much. It's just a fire-type version of Take Down and Volt Tackle, and Pikachu isn't affected by recoil anymore so I figured that with practice it would be the same for Charizard."

    "And the crash?" Max asked. Ash smiled, his eyes lighting up in memory. May felt her stomach give a sudden lurch, and looked down in worry. She couldn't possibly be hungry, could she?

    "When I fought in the Johto League," Ash said, "I eventually lost against a trainer called Harrison. Charizard used a Seismic Toss on his Blaziken. It would have knocked Blaziken out too, if it hadn't used a Flamethrower to soften it's landing and lessen the impact." Anabel smiled; she had been right.

    "Charizard used a Flamethrower to soften his landing just before he hit, right?" she asked. "And the spinning motion meant that more of the ground was hit, and with more power so that it would be as soft as possible."

    Ash nodded. "That's right," he said. Then he laughed. May felt the uncomfortable lurch again. "After all of these years of training, me and my Pokemon know each other through and through. We barely even need to communicate with words anymore. Just like someone else I know," he said with a smile at Anabel. At once, the lurching in May's stomach transferred to her heart. She grabbed at it a little unsteadily, hoping nobody else would notice her sudden movement. What was wrong with her?

    "The ten minute break is up!" they suddenly heard Dawn say over the loudspeaker. "Audience - back to your seats! Champion Cynthia and Challenger Ash, you are requested to return to the battlefield!"

    Ash stood up and stretched. "I'm sure feeling good about this," he said. "Three of Cynthia's Pokemon are down, and I still have five of my six left. I'll see you guys after the match!" May watched as Ash turned and walked up towards the Colosseum, while everyone else filed past her to reach the audience section again. She suddenly felt someone clutch her hand, and turned to see the silent girl trying to motion in the direction that everyone else had gone.

    "Thanks," she sighed, and began to walk slowly back to her seat, the girl following behind with a very puzzled look on her face. No sooner had she sat down then she felt Anabel tapping her on the back.

    "Are you alright, May?" she asked. "You're looking a little sad."

    "I'm fine," she sighed. Anabel looked at her and gave a fleeting smile.

    "I'm sure that I'm not the only one who noticed that Ash was wearing half a ribbon around his neck," she said to May. Although May's expression didn't change, her lurching heart suddenly seemed to feel lighter.

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

    "Trainers, it's time to choose your next Pokemon!" Dawn announced.
    "Gastrodon, to me!" Cynthia called, and her Pokemon appeared for the second time. Ash smiled.

    "Latias, I choose you!" he shouted out, accompanied by a gasp of surprise that arose from nearly every throat in the Colosseum. The silent girl next to May suddenly shimmered in a silver light. Moments later, Latias had appeared. She looked over to May.

    "Do your best," May whispered, giving the legendary Pokemon a thumbs-up. Latias chirped and floated down to stand in front of Ash.

    "A Latias, eh?" Cynthia said to herself. "I never even considered that he could be using a legendary!" She berated herself quietly for a few more seconds before looking back out over the battlefield. "Gastrodon, use Rain Dance!" she commanded.

    Clouds gathered, and slowly rain began to fall. Cynthia smiled. With the Rain Dance in effect, Gastrodon could move about much more easily on land. The rain stopped.

    "Gastrodon, what's wrong?" she called out in worry. Her Pokemon could only look about itself in a bewildered manner. "Try Rain Dance again!" she ordered. Again her Gastrodon used the attack, but the rain stopped after only a few seconds.

    Ash looked around confused. The rain clouds were still there, but no rain was falling. It doesn't make sense, he thought. What could stop a Rain Dance? He frowned as he looked across at Cynthia, unwilling to attack while her Pokemon's abilities were prevented from being used. Latias suddenly chirped anxiously, pointing her arms towards the sky that lay beyond Cynthia, beyond the Colosseum.

    One small patch of sky was completely clear; Ash could the sun sparkling through. It was weaving towards the Colosseum erratically. He rubbed his eyes, but the moving patch of sunlight continued to soar through the clouds in a zigzag pattern. He heard a roar off in the distance and went cold at the sound of it. The crowd had also heard and began to whisper in confusion as they looked around themselves for the source.

    A girl suddenly screamed, pointing up at the moving patch of sunlight. As one, the crowd followed her gaze. Cynthia felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up as she slowly turned around.

    Flying at a very low altitude, a Rayquaza appeared over the edge of the Colosseum, an unusual glint in it's eyes. The crowd went numb at the sight of the rare and powerful Pokemon. The Rayquaza looked around at the spectacle in front of it with a confused expression. It took in the huge number of people gathered, the battlefield, and the two Pokemon who stood on it.

    With a demonic roar of anger the Rayquaza blasted a Hyper Beam into the Colosseum.

  7. #7
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Chapter Six: Mission

    The man leaned casually back in his chair, his back to the office door as he looked through the gigantic window, out over the mountainous landscape. There was a slight knock on the door, barely audible.

    "Enter," he called without turning around. Two people stepped nervously into the room; a woman with long orange hair, and man with short green hair. Both wore black uniforms. They waited for several moments, but the man who had called them in gave no inclination of turning around.

    "You asked to see us, Boss?" the man with green hair asked awkwardly. Slowly, the Boss turned around. Both the man and the woman gulped inadvertently. He was a gigantic person, tall and broad-shouldered but without a trace of fat on him. He cast a forbidding aura everywhere he went. Here, in his headquarters, he was at his most dangerous. The man and the woman both knew that on a whim they could be promoted... or killed.

    "You have both been with Team Rocket for quite a while, haven't you," the Boss said quietly. It was not a question that needed an answer. "I've been looking through the records of my employees for a little while now," he continued, "and overall your work has been satisfactory. There have been a few... incidents, for lack of a better word, but you two have proven yourselves loyal."

    "Tha-thank you, Boss," the woman began, but he raised a finger for silence.

    "Hitches like the breeding centre ten years ago, and that disaster in the Whirl Islands eight years ago never leave the records. You recall what happened?"

    Both the man and the woman nodded dumbly. The future had been bright. They were high-up in the organization, and role models to many of the newer recruits. Then had come the Whirl Islands. A legendary Pokemon had been within their grasp, but at the last second was set free by a couple of kids. That had left them humiliated, and discredited. If it hadn't been for Professor Namba's belief in their work, they might have been removed from the organization entirely. As it was, they were only demoted a few positions and assigned to work under Professor Namba permanently.

    He had given them a second chance when it came to capturing legendary Pokemon. Only a year after the Whirl Islands they had been sent to the Sevii Islands. Professor Namba had calculated the migration of another legendary Pokemon, done painstakingly over years and years from nothing more than eyewitness accounts. They had tricked a Moltres fanatic, Silver, who wanted to battle the legendary Pokemon into leading them to the top of Mount Ember, an active volcano. There they had almost captured the legendary bird when Silver had been joined by one of the kids that had stopped them in the Whirl Islands. Moltres escaped, and they had been forced to flee the island before the volcano erupted, only narrowly escaping with their lives. After that, even Namba had discredited them, and they had done lowly grunt work for the organization ever since.

    "The Whirl Islands and Mount Ember were not just black marks for yourselves," the Boss said calmly, "they were marks of failure on the whole organization. The two of you alone have caused irreparable damage to our reputation around the world."

    The man and the woman looked at each in fear. What was going to happen?

    "However, those mishaps aside, your work has been impeccable. That is why I am restoring you back to the ranks you had before the Whirl Islands."

    "Boss..." the man gasped out gratefully. The Boss ignored him.

    "Before I do that, however, there is one task that you must complete."

    "Whatever it is, we'll do it!" the woman said without hesitation. The Boss smiled slowly; it froze their hearts.

    "Good..." he whispered sibilantly, "very good... I was looking through my records and have found a partnership that, unlike you, has done nothing but cost me money for ten years now. They haven't brought in a single Pokemon - save a worthless Togepi. They claim that they are chasing down an extremely rare and powerful Pikachu; as if I couldn't just go outside with a Poke Ball and Thunder Stone to get myself a more powerful Raichu! Their costs are exorbitant! The three of them alone spend a quarter of our income every year!"

    "What do you want us to do with them, Boss?" the man asked. The Boss's eyes glinted.

    "I want them dead!" he snapped, his fist crashing down hard on the table. In the far corner, a Persian cowered at the sight of his wrath.

    "Dead?" the woman repeated incredulously.

    "Do you have a hearing problem?" the Boss asked impatiently. "I want them dead - not humiliated, not discredited, not demoted. Stone-cold dead! Clear?"

    "Yes Boss!" the man and the woman both shouted, snapping to attention.

    "Good," he said, swivelling his chair back to the window. "Last I heard, they were in the vicinity of Viridian City. Now, get out of my sight."

    The man and the woman both sprinted for the doors, wrenching them open as fast as they dared, but closing them as softly as was humanly possible. They looked at each other, shock reflected in their pupils.

    "I don't think I can become a murderer," the man blurted out.

    "Neither do I, Butch," the woman said as she began to walk slowly down the halls. "I've always hated that arrogant Jessie, but not to the point where I could kill her. I mean sure I've wanted her out of my life, but... dead?"

    "I don't know, Cassidy," Butch said almost sadly as he caught up to her. "I've never really had anything against James, apart from the fact that he always screws up my name. I mean, sure he always tries to usurp us so that he'll get the credit, but I've gotten the feeling that it's mainly because of Jessie egging him on. I can't kill the guy."

    "We don't have a choice, Butch," Cassidy said quietly. "It's either their lives or ours, and I'd prefer to stay alive for as long as possible." She sighed and grabbed a broom from a nearby closet. "Come on," she said. "We've got one last word detail shift to do before we head out. Where are we scheduled to clean?" Butch took a look at his pocket calendar and groaned.

    "Professor Namba's lab," he said.

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

    "So, you two are about to be promoted again from what I hear, eh?" asked Namba.
    "Yes, Professor Numbo, we have a-" Cassidy began.

    "It's NAMBA!" he shrieked. "When will you get it right? Why don't people ever learn a name anymore? It's completely disrespectful, don't you agree Boff?"

    "Actually, Professor Namba, my name is Butch," he said. Cassidy winced.

    "I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR NAME IS!" Namba screamed, beside himself with rage. "If I ask you to agree with me, you agree with me! Got it?"

    "Yes, Professor Namba," Butch replied sullenly. Abruptly, Namba's temper ceased.

    "Good," he said. "Now, the two of you will be pleased to know that once you have been promoted back, you will be working for me again." Butch and Cassidy both gave silent groans. "You will also be pleased to know two other important things - my research on the Pokerus has finally been completed, even without the co-operation of that numbskull Oak. Also, we have finally managed to capture Silver!" Butch jerked his head upright in shock.

    "Silver?" he repeated disbelievingly.

    "Do you have a hearing problem?" Namba demanded, echoing the Boss.

    "How did you do it, Professor?" Cassidy asked quickly. Namba snorted.

    "With some amazing skill and bribery," he said. "If those kids decide to interfere again, we'll have Silver to warn them off. Good thing we do too, I hear one of them is now a Master!"

    "A Master?" Cassidy gasped with a stunned expression. Namba gave a suspicious look towards her ears.

    "Aren't you finished yet?" he suddenly demanded. "This floor looks spotless. Get out, go! I have work to do and you aren't privy to it yet." Reluctantly, Cassidy and Butch both saluted and exited the office.

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

    The caped being stood in the shadow of the building's flag spire, many stories above the ground. Even though it was broad daylight, here he was hidden from view of pedestrians or office workers. He groaned mentally and sat down in the shade, head buzzing with tiredness. Despite trying to become nocturnal for over seven years now, he still had a lot of difficulty falling asleep in the daytime.
    He hated stealing, especially human food, but he did it to survive. Few fruit trees grew in the city, but he lived there because it was the safest place for him to be. If they somehow found those hidden memories and looked for him again, he was certain that they would search the desolate wilderness, not a bustling urban area. The city made him sick.

    How can they live with each other? he wondered. They steal, they fight, they hurt. The street bully is no different from the shopkeeper who raises his prices for the poor. I still to survive; they steal for gain. He sighed and shook his tired head. Humans have a choice in life, a choice that was never given to me. Yet they use that choice for evil purposes, just to hurt each other... Why?

    He groaned again as the wind blew, ruffling his long cape. He looked out over Viridian City and felt a sudden spear of pain in his chest. He shook his head to clear it and then sealed his mind, fighting against the unexpected lancing. He didn't know why it had started yesterday, but since it began he had experienced it every couple of hours. Almost against his will, he looked to the west. For some strange reason, ever since the pain began he had felt drawn to Tohjo Falls, as if he needed to go there.

    Later, he decided. Maybe it was time to move to another town again. For the last seven years he had been on the move from town to town, visiting distant places in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Frayen, and even Fiore. He never stayed in any one place for longer than a month. It was too risky that he could be sighted, and his appearance reported. And humans who knew they were being robbed had unusually sharp eyes.

    Another wave of drowsiness washed over him and he leaned his head forwards until his chin touched his chest. He closed his eyes and finally felt the warm embrace of sleep.

    Tonight, he decided before dropping off, I'll move on to Cerulean City.

  8. #8
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    We now return to the fight against Rayquaza.

    Chapter Seven: Escape


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    The silence was complete. The entire Colosseum stared completely awestruck at the legendary Rayquaza that had suddenly appeared. It stared down at them, a confused look on it's face, it's eyes glinting unusually. It gave a small, almost imperceptible shudder noticed by only a few people. Then, with a roar of rage, it reared back and fired a devastating Hyper Beam into the Colosseum.

    The attack tore across the field, scoring a deep gouge. The crowd descended into chaos, every human trying to be the first to leave the Colosseum in their panic. The Rayquaza dove into the open-aired building and swooped down low over the crowd, instilling even more fear into them. Only Ash's supporters had remained where they were, standing in stunned disbelief as the Rayquaza released another unprovoked attack, this time knocking down several of the trees on the battlefield.

    Anabel gave a scream of fear as a man in the row behind her stumbled and slammed into her, off-balance. She toppled over and crashed into May, sending both of them over the edge of the barrier and plummeting to the field below. Like lightning, Brandon and Lucy both lunged forwards and seized the two girls, pulling them up to safety.

    "Anabel, are you okay?" Brandon asked in concern. She stared up at him, eyes glazed for a moment. She shook her head, fighting back the fear, and gave a silent nod.

    "May?" Lucy asked, saying as little as ever.

    "I'm okay too," May gasped, her hand over her pounding chest. "Thanks." Lucy nodded and turned to Brandon. He eyed her with a grim smile on his face and withdrew three Poke Balls.

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

    The Rayquaza turned and floated over the centre of the battlefield. It shuddered again and blindly shot down a third Hyper Beam. Latias gave out a scream of fright as it headed directly towards her.

    "Latias!" Ash screamed. A huge cloud of dust and wind swarmed past him from the resulting explosion. Pikachu was forced to hold on to Ash's jacket as tightly as it could, and Ash felt himself sliding backwards. A dull light began to shine through the dust as it cleared and the wind died down. Ash squinted, rubbing his eyes to free them from the grit. He suddenly realized that Latias had protected herself by using Safeguard, although the impact from the Hyper Beam had still managed to force her backwards.

    "Pikachu," Ash said, turning to face his friend who had only just hauled himself back onto Ash's shoulder. "Get to the Pokemon field where we trained today. The rest of my Pokemon are in there. I need all of them, even the thirty Tauros, to get in here now."

    "Pika," Pikachu rejected the idea, red cheeks sizzling with energy as he glared up at the Rayquaza who was once again flying low over the crowd, roaring angrily. Ash winced as the Rayquaza's tail caught one woman, sending her flying through the air, screaming in terror.

    "Just do it!" Ash yelled. "I need all of them to help me hold off Rayquaza so that everyone can escape. You can help me when you get back, but you're the only Pokemon I have on me right now who is can get there and back without being seen!"

    Pikachu looked up at his trainer for a moment. Ash's expression gave no room for argument. Pikachu nodded and sprang off of Ash's shoulder, racing for the tunnel which would lead him out of the Colosseum and towards the training field.

    Ash glared up at the Rayquaza. "Rayquaza, I challenge you!" he shouted into the sky. As the Rayquaza turned around to look for this new shout, Ash saw something which made his stomach clench. On the left arm of the Rayquaza was a horrible burn which looked as if it had been made very recently.

    "Gallade! Charizard! Sceptile! I choose you!" he shouted, throwing three Poke Balls into the air. On que, the three of them burst out of their Poke Balls to land alongside Latias, Sceptile still breathing a little heavily. The Rayquaza glared down at them all, rage and pain in his eyes, along with something else, something that Ash couldn't identify.

    Behind the Rayquaza, Ash saw two more flashes of red light and realized that Cynthia had sent out her two remaining Pokemon to battle as well. The Rayquaza swooped closer down to Ash and his Pokemon, then wheeled and climbed quickly. It was barely more than dot in the sky when Hyper Beams began to fall to the ground like rain. Several more gouges were torn into the battlefield; holes were blown through the Colloseum's walls. The faint, sickly smell of smoke reached Ash's nostrils, and with a mixture of sadness and horror, he realized that his Colosseum was burning.

    He climbed down off of the platform and walked onto the battlefield. He tapped Charizard on the back and motioned to him. Charizard gave a nod and Ash climbed onto his back. "Into the air, Charizard!" he shouted, and with sweeping strokes of his wings, the fire-type lifted off of the ground. Ash fished out his Poke Dex and flipped it over the Rayquaza, which was still hovering high in the sky over the Colosseum - he knew that it was a legendary Pokemon, but that was all he knew.

    Frowning, he manipulated the Poke Dex to see what kind of attacks would be best against Rayquaza. Fantastic, he thought. Rayquaza's only weak against Dragon and Ice. I guess that means that Charizard and Latias are going to have to use their Dragonbreath's, and that Sceptile won't be able to do much damage.

    "Ash!" he heard Brock call. He turned and saw the breeder hurrying towards him, Dawn close behind. "Don't tell me you're going to battle Rayquaza, please don't tell me that," he said as he drew close. Somehow, Ash managed to give him a grin.

    "Guess I'd better not say anything, then," he said, trying and failing to make a joke.

    "Look out!" Dawn screamed. Ash turned back to the sky and saw a Hyper Beam roaring towards him.

    "Charizard, use Flamethrower; Gallade, Psychic!" he rapped out. Charizard's Flamethrower collided with the Hyper Beam. Gallade quickly used his Psychic to strengthen the fire-attack long enough to cause a harmless explosion in midair.

    "Then I'm battling too," Brock said, grabbing one of his Poke Balls, face grim. Ash leaned over Charizard's back and caught his arm.

    "No," he said, "you get out of here; Dawn too. All those people who were in the audience must be scared out of their minds. I need you two to try and calm them down so that there aren't any accidents."

    "Lucario, Force Palm!" they heard Cynthia shout faintly from the other side of the battlefield, distracting the Rayquaza for the moment.

    "But you can't battle by yourself!" Brock shouted.

    "I'm not battling!" Ash shouted right back, his nerves fraying to the breaking point. "I'm just holding it off until everyone gets to safety! Pikachu's gone to get my other Pokemon. We can hold Rayquaza off with Cynthia attacking from the other side. I need you and Dawn away from here." Brock gazed into his friend's eyes for a moment. They were tight with fear, but Brock knew that Ash would stay until he knew for sure that everyone had. He nodded.

    "Come on, Dawn," he said.

    "Are you mad?" Dawn screamed at him. "We can't leave him here alone!"

    "He's not alone!" Brock snapped back. "He's got all of his Pokemon, and Cynthia to back him up. We can't help him. What we need to do is get everyone to safety."

    "Ash!" May shouted, running up to the three of them, the other six Frontier Brains, Max, Misty, and Gary close behind.

    "Get away, May," Ash said, not looking at her.

    "Wh-what?" May asked as she came to a dead halt, not believing what she had just heard.

    "I said get away. You need to get to safety. I can't stall Rayquaza if I know that you, or any of my friends are in danger."

    "I'm not going anywhere," May snapped at him, hands on her hips. "I'm not leaving one of my best friends to battle a legendary Pokemon by himself!" Ash swore and looked around at the sky which was beginning to darken with smoke, not answering her. It only took him a moment to find what he was looking for.

    "Pidgeot!" he shouted. The hawk-like Pokemon somehow managed to hear him over the noise of Rayquaza battling Cynthia's Lucario and Garchomp simultaneously. It dove down like a bullet. Ash tossed up a Poke Ball, and Pidgeot immediately understood. It flew directly for the Poke Ball, capturing itself. The Poke Ball dropped back to Earth and Ash caught it. He immediately sent his old friend back out in a beam of red light.

    "Pidgeot, take May back to Pallet Town," he said, not looking at her. May gasped, and Ash's chest suddenly felt as if it was caught in a vice. "Take her to the lab... make sure she's safe... go." His voice broke.

    "Pigeo," the flying-type acknowledged. It swooped down towards May and grasped her arms delicately in it's talons.

    "Wha- Ash, no! Don't do this!" May screamed. "Don't do this to me!"

    "GO!" Ash shouted to Pidgeot. In a trice, the bird Pokemon accelerated and was gone.

    "Pika!" he heard Pikachu calling through the smoke.

    "Over here!" he called back, turning towards the sound. In a moment, all of his Pokemon were crowding below him.

    "Tauros, I want all of you to take one person here and take them back to Pallet Town! Try and find Professor Oak and Mom on the way out."

    "Ash, what are you doing?" Misty asked quietly. He ignored her.

    "Corphish, Muk, Sceptile, Swellow, Noctowl, Bayleef, Heracross, Ambipom, Staraptor, Torkoal, Donphan, Grotle; all of you are going with them." They all gave various shouts of surprise.

    "We're not going without you!" Max shouted up at him.

    "Yes, you are!" Ash snapped back, tired of this arguing now. Max opened his mouth again, but Brock clamped his hand over it and dragged him onto the nearest Tauros, before climbing onto one himself. Dawn looked around the group nervously. She shrugged and climbed onto another, followed by Misty.

    "Tauros, go!" Ash shouted. Slowly, twenty-three of the herd began to canter towards the exit. He looked down at the Pokemon he had told to go with them; not a one had moved a muscle. "Don't you understand?" he asked. "I need all of you to protect them in case Rayquaza gives chase, and to make sure that they're all okay when they get back to Pallet!"

    Sceptile looked up at his trainer. He hated what he knew he had to do, but he did it nonetheless. He followed his trainer's orders, trailing the Tauros. The other Pokemon looked around unsure, but the respect that Sceptile commanded in all of them forced them to move. Slowly, sadly, and against everything in their hearts, each and every one of the Pokemon that Ash had ordered to move followed Sceptile's lead.

    Soon, only Ash, Gary, seven Tauros, the Frontier Brains, and the rest of Ash's Pokemon were left. Ash looked back over towards Cynthia. It was difficult to tell through the smoke, but it looked as if she was losing - badly.

    "I sure hope you know what you're doing, Ash," Gary said quietly, also looking towards Cynthia.

    "You should have gone with everyone else," Ash responded. Gary gave a snort.

    "Every time you win a championship, I bring you back to earth by beating you," Gary said. "I figure that you could use some of that strength now." Ash thought about arguing the point, but gave in. He was glad to have Gary's support.

    "We aren't going either," Tucker said, stepping forwards in his extravagant costume.

    "Why not?" Ash asked.

    "We're Frontier Brains too," Brandon said, moving to stand at Tucker's side. "We never leave one of our own behind. Besides, if you're battling a legendary you may need one or two on your side." At this, Ash smiled.

    "Thank you," he whispered.

    "Garchomp!" they heard Cynthia scream.

    "Looks like it's time for the main event, oish!" Greta remarked as the Rayquaza turned to face them all. Ash quickly turned to his remaining water-types.

    "Kingler, Totodile, I need both of you to try and put out the fires. Use your Water Guns to do it."

    "To-to-to-to-to-to-to-da!" Totodile grinned toothily, dancing from foot-to-foot. It raced off for the closest fire, Kingler following close behind.

    "Charizard, Glalie, Gallade, Pikachu, Cyndaquil, Latias, get ready to fight," Ash said grimly.

    "Go, my friends Metagross, Alakazam, Espeon!" Anabel called

    "Regice, Registeel, I need your assistance!" Brandon shouted.

    "Swampert, Arcanine, it's time!" Tucker said, releasing his two Pokemon.

    "Milotic, Piloswine, I choose you!" Lucy called out.

    "Medicham, lets go!" Greta yelled.

    "Rhydon, Golduck, Manectric - battle!" Noland shouted.

    "Blastoise, I choose you!" Gary shouted.

    With a roar of surprise at the sudden number of Pokemon facing it, the Rayquaza hovered uncertainly. It shuddered, and for the third-time Ash caught sight of the movement. Then, moving into a speedy dive, the Rayquaza shot downwards, releasing a powerful Dragon Pulse towards the eight trainers that stood against it.

  9. #9
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    Has anybody noticed that all of my chapters are single words? XP

    Chapter Eight: Fire


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    May struggled as hard as she could against Pidgeot's grip. "Let me down, Pidgeot!" she shouted.

    "Pigeot," the bird Pokemon refused, shaking it's beautiful head from side to side.

    "You have to take me back!" she pleaded. "I can't leave all of my friends behind!" In response, Pidgeot wheeled and began to fly back towards the Colosseum. May sighed with relief - Pidgeot was taking her back. Below, heading in the direction of Pallet, she suddenly saw a crowd of Tauros and an assorted mix of other Pokemon. She could see Max, Misty, Brock, Dawn, Delia, Professor Oak, Norman, Caroline, and three people she didn't know clinging tightly to the Tauros that they were riding on. She sighed again, this time with frustration. Pidgeot turned again, and headed back to Pallet Town, far outstripping the slower Tauros.

    "Why did you do it, Ash?" she whispered to herself. "Why did you have to send everyone to Pallet, and stay behind?" She looked down at the half-ribbon she usually wore as a necklace under her shirt. A confusing jumble of emotions began to collect in her mind. Deep within, she realized that Ash had forced them all away because he cared about them. She knew that he wouldn't be able to battle Rayquaza for long if he was distracted by worry.

    "Please be okay, Ash," she whispered. "I promise I won't be mad if you just come home safe."

    Pidgeot stopped suddenly in mid-air. May gave a little shriek as she felt herself swing forwards in the air, but Pidgeot held her safely.

    "What was that for?" she shouted up angrily.

    "Pigeo..." Pidgeot responded, sounding almost in shock. May followed Pidgeot's gaze and gasped.

    "Pidgeot, turn around," she ordered. "We've got to tell the others!"

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    Cynthia watched bitterly as the Rayquaza turned to face the seven Frontier Brains and the young Professor, grinding her fist into her palm in anger at her helplessness. . All of her Pokemon were out of the fight, and there was nothing more that she could do. She had bought Ash the time he needed to make sure that everyone got away safely. Now, it was time for her to leave, too.

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

    Ash turned to his remaining seven Tauros. "Head back to Pallet Town," he told them. "Rey and her parents may have been in the crowd today, and they might need a ride back." As the Tauros stampeded off, Ash clutched at the half-ribbon he wore as a pendant. I hope you understand why I had to force you to go, he thought quietly. He felt his emotions begin to well up again, and was barely able to force them down; he needed to focus on the battle. The Rayquaza roared, and Ash looked up to see a massive Dragon Pulse roar down to meet them.

    "Charizard, Cyndaquil, Flamethrower!" Ash shouted.

    "Arcanine, use your Fire Blast!" Tucker roared out. Charizard and Cyndaquil both shot forth a long stream of fire; Arcanine's star-shaped Fire Blast wrapped around them and the three melded attacks shattered burst apart the Rayquaza's powerful Dragon Pulse. "Excellent!" Tucker shouted. "Now Swampert, go after Totodile and Kingler; they'll need your Water Pulse!" The Swampert nodded and ran off on all fours in the direction that Totodile and Kingler had taken.

    "Regice, use your Ice Beam!" Brandon told his Pokemon.

    "Piloswine, Milotic, you too," Lucy ordered.

    "Glalie, Icy Wind!" Ash commanded. The three separate Ice Beam's shot up into the sky, sped up by the Icy Wind, and struck Rayquaza; one in the chest, one on the tail, and one on the arm. Rayquaza roared in pain and reeled upwards as the Icy Wind then slammed into it, pellets of ice smashing against it's entire body.

    Rayquaza dove downwards, hatred in it's eyes as it set off a barrage of Hyper Beam's.

    "Latias, Safeguard! Charizard, Cyndaquil use Flamethrower against those Hyper Beams! Pikachu, Thunderbolt them back! Glalie, aim your Ice Beam at Rayquaza, and Gallade, you use your Psychic to guide it!" Ash shouted.

    "Piloswine, Milotic, use your Ice Beams too!" Lucy told her Pokemon.

    "Registeel, stand in front of the attacking Pokemon and use Iron Defence to shield them! Regice, fight back Hyper Beam with one of your own!" Brandon commanded.

    "Metagross, guide Piloswine's and Milotic's Ice Beams with your Psychic; Espeon, use Zap Cannon!"

    "Manectric, Thunder those Hyper Beams away!" Noland called.

    "Blastoise, Hydro Cannon!" Gary ordered.

    A medley of attacks burst skywards. They collided with the many Hyper Beams and the power of colliding attacks caused a series of explosions, the smoke from which blanketed the Rayquaza from view. Some of the Hyper Beam's broke through and hurtled towards the trainers. Registeel used it's Iron Defence to absorb the attacks and protect the Pokemon and trainers behind it; Latias did the same with her Safeguard.

    Gallade and Metagross worked together to coax the Ice Beam's through the thick smoke. Although they couldn't see the Rayquaza, they could sense it's position with their Psychic. They were rewarded by hearing shrieks of pain and rage from the Rayquaza.

    Then it was gone. The eight trainers and their Pokemon stood stock-still listening intently.

    "Charizard, blow the smoke away," Ash ordered. Charizard reared backwards and began to flap his wings as hard as he could. The smoke cleared slowly. They all looked around in confusion. The Rayquaza had vanished. Gary sighed in relief and was about to speak when the smell of burning once again blew in their direction.

    "We've got to get out of here," Brandon stated, recalling his Regice and Registeel. "The Colosseum is burning rapidly; I don't think that the water types will be able to stop it."

    "Kingler and Totodile!" Ash shouted in panic, running off quickly in the direction they had gone, Pikachu on his shoulder.

    "Ash!" Gary yelled, moving to go after him.

    "No!" Tucker grabbed Gary's arm. "It's too dangerous! I'll go after him, I need to find my Swampert anyways." Gary scowled back.

    "I have Blastoise - it won't take long for Hydro Pump to put out the fire." He turned to the rest of the Frontier Brains. "You guys should all clear out; wait for us outside the Colosseum. There's no need to risk any more lives."

    Anabel opened her mouth to protest, but Brandon beat her to it. "He's right," he said, looking at Anabel, Noland, Greta, and Lucy. "We'd only get in the way; none of our Pokemon can take that heat."

    Lucy deliberately recalled her Milotic, but Brandon shook his head at her expression. "There is no water inside the Colosseum hallways," he stated. "Your Milotic would not be able to move."

    "I'm not going without Ash," Anabel said firmly. Brandon grabbed her around the waist and threw her over his shoulder.

    "Do not let your personal feeling for the boy get in the way of your reason!" he snapped as Anabel struggled to get free. She stopped moving, although small red patches had appeared on her cheeks. "Greta, Noland, Lucy; recall your Pokemon. We need to go." He walked towards the exit, not looking back.

    Noland looked at the two woman and gave a small sigh. He recalled his three Pokemon and began to follow Brandon. Greta and Lucy both scowled their disagreement but followed suit and left the battlefield, Anabel's Metagross, Alakazam, and Espeon behind them.

    Gary looked over at Ash's Pokemon. "Go with them," he said quietly. "There's nothing more any of you can do." Reluctantly, all save Gallade, Latias, and Charizard followed the Frontier Brains. Not even checking to see if Ash's Pokemon were obeying, Gary and Tucker raced off after Ash; Gallade, Charizard, and Latias looked at Gary and Tucker, at the retreating Pokemon and Frontier Brains, and finally at each other. Without a sound, they took off in hot pursuit of Gary and Tucker. As soon as they reached the hallways behind the battlefield, just barely behind the Professor and the Frontier Brain, they found themselves surrounded in a thick blanket of smoke.

    "Blastoise, use your Rapid Spin to clear the smoke away," Gary called to his Pokemon.

    "Blast," the water-type acknowledged and withdrew into it's shell, rotating rapidly. The smoke quickly cleared and Gary, Tucker, and Gallade raced on into the depths of the building. Charizard roared in frustration; it was too big to go inside. Latias tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for him to follow her. She took off into the sky and flew over the walls, landing just inside the training field.

    Charizard was close behind, and let out a roar of horror; the house that Ash had been living in recently was consumed in flames, and through the window Charizard could see Ash laying on the ground, apparently unconscious, holding the egg canister in his arms. Totodile was dancing around him in panic as Kingler tried desperately to put out the fire that surrounded them.

    Latias flew to the other side of the building and saw Tucker's Swampert lobbing a mixture of Water Pulses and Water Guns at the house, trying to put out the fire from the outside even as Kingler worked on the inside. She found Pikachu standing nervously next to Swampert, watching the efforts with fear in his eyes.

    It was then that Charizard decided to do something extremely drastic. He climbed into the air quickly, trying to gain as much height as he dared. He tilted himself into a steep, fast dive, aiming for the room next to the one that he knew Ash was in.

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

    Gary and Tucker reached an intersection in the building. The lights above them crackled menacingly with electricity; the fuses were beginning to blow from the heat and the smoke.

    "Gallade!" Gary shouted, "can you sense where Ash is?" Gallade closed his eyes and reached out with Psychic, probbing every inch of the Colosseum grounds, trying to find Ash and the best way to reach him. His eyes snapped open.

    "Er!" he nodded, and ran off in the direction he had sensed, Gary and Tucker close behind.

    "Could you sense Swampert?" Tucker asked as he ran. Gallade nodded and motioned forwards again with his blades. They followed Gallade and ran through several clouds of smoke; they were stopped by a small fire at one spot, but it was quickly extinguished with a Hydro Pump. At last, they burst out into clear air, facing the training field and the flaming house. At that exact moment, Charizard slammed headfirst through the roof of the house, breaking into the rooms below.

    "Ash!" Gary yelled, seeing his friend lying motionless through the window.

    "Swampert!" Tucker called, and he was rewarded by a full-throated roar from the other side of the house. He ran to the back, right as Pikachu came springing around to the front.

    "Blastoise, use Hydro Cannon to fight the fire on this side of the building!" Gary ordered. He turned to Gallade. "Charizard may not be able to get out with Ash. Can you use your Psycho Cutter to open up the doorways?"

    "Erlade!" Gallade responded, leaping forwards with it's blades glowing lavender. Seconds later the doorway had been widened considerably, and Gallade had vanished inside. Smoke poured out of the new exit and Gary waited, beside-himself with worry about his friend. At last a shape emerged from the smoke; it was Kingler, still spraying water wherever it could. A moment later it was followed by Gallade, who led a very downcast Totodile. At last Charizard appeared, carrying Ash limply in it's arms, hot tears coursing down the fire-types cheeks.

    "Ash!" Gary shouted, springing forwards as Charizard lay the trainer on the ground, his arms still wrapped around the egg canister.

    "Pika pi!" Pikachu cried out anxiously, rushing to his trainer.

    "Come on, Ash," Gary said, pumping his chest as he began CPR. "Where's your fighting spirit? Don't give up on us now, don't you dare just give up."

    "Pikachu!" Pikachu cried, his tears melding with Charizard's on the ground.

    Gary worked for several minutes, but Ash gave no response. He looked up at the assembled Pokemon with a look of sadness on his face. "I... I think he's gone," he whispered. Charizard roared up at the sky in grief as Kingler and Totodile both began to shed their own tears. Latias came floating around from the other side of the building where she had stayed with Tucker and Swampert. As soon as she saw Ash's body on the ground and the sadness of the Pokemon surrounding him, she understood. Her own keening added to the song of loss.

    "Pika... pikachu," Pikachu cried as he shook Ash, refusing to believe what had happened. "Pika, pika pi!" Gary picked up the electric-type and stood up slowly, the grief evident on his face.

    "It's no good, Pikachu," Gary said quietly. "He's gone."

    "Pi-ka-CHU!" Pikachu screamed. Electricity burst from his body in a magnificent beam of light that shot skywards, electrocuting everything nearby. With a scream of pain, Ash lurched upright, coughing up thick lumps of inhaled smoke.

    "Ash!" Gary shouted.

    "Pika pi!" Pikachu rejoiced, throwing himself forwards onto Ash.

    "Wha-?" Ash managed to gasp out, hacking up another lump of solidified soot. He tried to stand up, but was pushed back down by Gary.

    "Easy, Ash. Don't overexert yourself," Gary warned. "You've only just been revived."

    "What happened?" Ash insisted, although he allowed Gary to force him back into a sitting position.

    "You were caught in the house as it was burning," Gary said simply. "You passed out from the smoke, and probably would have died if your Pokemon had gone in to save you." Ash lay on his back weakly, head spinning as he tried to absorb what was being said. He was able to grasp onto only one thing.

    "My Pokemon saved me?" he asked. Gary nodded.

    "Yep. Kingler tried to put out the fire, and Charizard used the strongest Take Down I've ever seen to break into the house. Gallade cut open the doorways so that Charizard could bring you out, and Pikachu revived you with a Thunderbolt."

    "Toto," Totodile muttered sadly, looking at the ground utterly woebegone. He knew that he had done nothing to help. Ash chuckled painfully through his blistered throat and reached out to stroke him on the head.

    "Thanks for looking after me while everyone else tried to reach me, Totodile," Ash said.

    "Doh, to-to-to-to-to-to-da," Totodile smiled, jumping onto Ash in his gratitude at that comment.

    "Gary," they heard Tucker shout from behind the house. "Swampert's almost got everything under control over here. How are things on your side?"

    "We've got Ash," Gary shouted back. "He's going to be okay, he just needs a little rest." They heard Tucker give a laugh of relief.

    "Leave the house," Ash muttered almost inaudibly, his vision beginning to darken from exhaustion.

    "What?" Gary asked, leaning in to hear better.

    "The house... leave it..." Ash murmured. "It can always be rebuilt..." Gary watched as his friend drifted off to sleep.

    "Nighty-night, Ashy-boy," he said softly.

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

    Ash woke up. He opened his eyes, blinked, and opened them again. He wondered briefly why everything was so dark, but realized that it was because night had fallen. He coughed, his throat feeling extraordinarily dry and painful.

    "Pika?" he heard Pikachu question from the side. He looked over and saw the electric-type standing next to him, eyes drooping with tiredness but keeping a steady watch over his trainer.

    "Pikachu?" he asked, his throat burning.

    "Pika pi!" Pika shouted. Instantly, Gary came running.

    "Pikachu, what's wrong?" he asked urgently.

    "Pika!" Pikachu said, pointing at Ash.

    "Gary?" he asked, feeling a little dazed.

    "It's about time you woke up," Gary said, smiling broadly. "You've been out for a couple of hours, and we were starting to worry again."

    "We?" Ash asked faintly.

    "Me, Anabel, and Brandon," Gary replied. "Noland, Greta, Lucy, and Tucker all just stayed long enough to satisfy themselves that you'd be okay before they went off to Viridian City. Your battle was shown on TV worldwide you know; we all figured that since Viridian City is the closest place to the Battle Colosseum, that would be where are the reporters would go. Noland sent a message to Brandon with his Manectric about an hour ago; apparently the last thing seen on TV was the Rayquaza appearing and attacking, and then the connection got cut off. From the sound of it, it's a good thing that they all went to head off the reporters!"

    "Gary," Ash asked, his throat now feeling as if there was a Flamethrower inside it, "could you get me a glass of water? My throat's parched."

    "Sure thing, Ashy-boy," Gary said with a smile. He walked a few feet to the side and came back with a canteen full of water. "Be sure to drink it slowly," he cautioned. Ash took a couple of sips; the sweet liquid dribbled down his throat, cooling the burning sensation. He thought it was the best thing he'd ever tasted.

    "Thanks," he said, feeling much better. "Where are we?"

    "I think we're about halfway between the Colosseum and Pallet Town," Gary answered. "It normally only takes a couple of hours to walk, but we've taken much longer because we had to carry you, and because we decided to go through the forest so that we could hopefully avoid any reporters who managed to sneak out to the Colosseum."

    "Oh," Ash said, thinking about this for a moment. "Where's Anabel and Brandon?" Gary smiled.

    "Anabel tried to stay up as long as she could looking after you, but just after Brandon got Noland's message she collapsed from exhaustion," he said. "We put her over by the fire and just let her sleep. As soon as she saw you on the ground, she insisted that she be the one to carry you back to Pallet." Ash was glad that it was dark. He had no idea why his cheeks were suddenly burning.

    "What about Brandon?" he asked.

    "Looking for firewood," Gary answered. Ash tried to stand up, but his legs buckled beneath him.

    "Where are Charizard, Gallade, Totodile, and the others?" Ash asked, grabbing Gary's shoulders to support himself.

    "Look around you," Gary said, waving his hand in a wide circle. Ash looked in astonishment. Assembled in a rough circle around her were Charizard, Latias, Kingler, Gallade, and Totodile, all fast asleep.

    "What about everyone I sent out after the Frontier Brains?" he asked.

    "They all went back to Pallet Town, just before we found you. Brandon made them go," Gary said with a grin. Ash nodded and let go of Gary, thinking he could stand by himself now.

    "At least they're all okay," he said. His legs suddenly buckled, and he crashed to the ground.

    "Ash, are you okay?" Gary asked him.

    "Never better," the trainer grumbled.

    "Get some sleep, Ash," he said gently. "You'll feel much better in the morning." Ash nodded and closed his eyes. In a few moments, he was asleep. Gary watched him for a moment and then turned to tend to the fire, leaving Pikachu the lone watch for the exhausted trainer from Pallet Town.

  10. #10
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Sorry for the long delay in updating here everyone. I'll be sure to add the chapters more quickly from now on.

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    Chapter Nine: Home

    The sunlight streamed brokenly through the trees as Ash, Pikachu, Gary, Anabel, and Brandon made their way back to the path. Ash paused for a moment, trying to take a breath of fresh air. His throat and chest still hurt, a lot, but he knew that there wasn't anything he could do about it for now. At least he could walk.

    It was late evening, and the four of them had been already been walking for hours. Anabel looked back at Ash, concern evident on her face. But she had seen the path through the trees ahead, and she knew that they'd be able to rest once they reached it. Who could have known that the forest would get so thick?

    "It's not much further now, Ash," she reassured him, stepping through the last of the trees and emerging on the side of a long trail that curved with the forest. As Brandon and Gary emerged, she looked out over the field that stretched in front of them. The sun was just beginning to dive below the ground; it looked very pretty.

    Ash slumped against the side of a tree, hacking hoarsely. In a few moments, he had regained his breath and looked around in surprise.

    "I know this place," he said, eyeing a lone tree in the centre of a field. "This is where I tried to catch a Spearow when I first started out."

    "Were you successful?" Brandon asked.

    "Not exactly," Ash said with the hint of a smile on his face. "Pikachu wouldn't attack it, so I tried throwing a rock at it." He sighed. "Was that ever a mistake. It's because of that Spearow that Pikachu and I are buds now, but it's because of that same Spearow that I had to leave Pidgeot behind." He stood up, brushing down his jeans. "Pallet Town is just over that hill," he said. "We can be there in half an hour."

    In silence, the four of them slowly climbed the hill, Pikachu perched on Ash's shoulder as usual. Brandon and Gary reached the top first and paused as Anabel helped Ash up the hill - all of the smoke he had inhaled the day before was still affecting him. At last, they joined Brandon and Gary at the crest of the hill. Ash stopped and looked down at Pallet Town. A stunned expression crossed his face. He looked at Gary, hoping that it was a trick of the fading light, and saw that he had tears swimming in his eyes.

    Professor Oak's lab was gone. Destroyed. A lightly smoking collection of debris was all that remained of the building and windmill. The forest and plains where the Pokemon stayed were charred black. The two lakes were dirty, and polluted looking.

    "It's gone," Gary whispered, his voice tight with the pain of seeing his childhood home destroyed. "It's just... gone." The two people from Pallet stared down in disbelief at the wreckage.

    I can't believe it, Ash thought. This is the place where I got Pikachu; where I started my Pokemon journey; where all of my Pokemon lived until I moved into the Battle Colosseum. Realization crashed in on him. When he'd moved over to the Colosseum, all of his Pokemon at the lab had been transferred over... all save one who had been needed to keep the peace among the other inhabitants.

    He took off running, not caring about the pain lancing from his lungs. "Ash, come back!" he heard Brandon shout. He ignored him.

    "BULBASAUR!" he shouted, "BULBASAUR, ARE YOU THERE?" He ran down the hill, moving faster than he could ever remember, still shouting. He heard footsteps well behind him, and knew that Brandon, Gary, and Anabel were all following. He ran, and ran, until he finally reached the destroyed lab.

    Tears of sadness and rage clouded his face. He slowed and walked into the grounds, checking under every piece of rubble he came to for a sign of his friend. Every so often, a recognizable artefact would be discovered, jolting his stomach. He found the cover of a notebook that he recognized as being Tracey's, all of the pages lost. There was an aged, ripped drawing of a Pikachu and a Celebi ruffling slightly in the breeze, one corner trapped under a charred wooden beam.

    "Bulbasaur!" he shouted, his voice echoing around the dark and ruined landscape. He waited, but there was no answering cry.

    "Ash," Anabel said softly, taking him by the sleeve. "Ash, come on. You need to get home."

    "No, I'm not leaving until I find Bulbasaur!" He pulled back sharply, wrenching Anabel's hand painfully. Not noticing her gasp of pain, he began to shift some more wreckage.

    "Let's go, Ash," Gary said, trying to drag him away.

    "I can't. I can't leave without Bulbasaur. Don't you understand?" he asked.

    "I understand completely, Ash, but Bulbasaur isn't here," Gary answered. "If he was, he'd have answered you."

    Ash began to feel dazed as the truth of Gary's statement hit him. Either Bulbasaur had left the lab, or... he shuddered. The alternative was too horrible to think about. He allowed himself to be led away from the ruins of what was once Professor Oak's lab, not really noticing where he was being taken, and only vaguely aware that it was now night. Bulbasaur, he kept thinking. Bulbasaur, where are you?

    "Bubba-saur!" a voice cried out. He yanked his head up, instantly returned to his senses. Running towards them was a Bulbasaur, but not his. He felt despair begin to crowd over him again until he recognized it by the two heart-shaped markings on it's forehead.

    "May's Bulbasaur!" he said in surprise.

    "Bulba, saur bubba," it nodded it's head eagerly.

    "Please tell me," Ash pleaded, "is my Bulbasaur okay?"

    "Bulba!" the Bulbasaur said, nodding it's head. Ash collapsed in relief.

    "How would that Bulbasaur know if Ash's Bulbasaur was okay?" Anabel wondered aloud.

    "When May first came over to Kanto she left her Bulbasaur with mine at Professor Oak's lab," Ash answered. "Bulbasaur, can you take me to my Bulbasaur?"

    In response, May's Bulbasaur turned and charged back the way it had come. Ash panted as he followed, a little surprised by it's speed. The Bulbasaur made a sharp turn and hurtled up Ash's garden, extending it's vines to ring the doorbell. The door opened just as Ash, Gary, Anabel, and Brandon reached it.

    "Ash! Gary!" Delia shrieked, throwing her arms around him. "Thank goodness you're both okay, we were so worried!" In moments, the doorway was crowded with people and Pokemon, all struggling to see Ash and Gary with their own eyes. Brandon tugged on Anabel's jacket and jerked his head back towards the yard. She nodded and followed him into the darkness.

    Together, Delia and Mr. Mime pushed Ash and Gary into the house. Ash almost fell over when he saw just how many people and Pokemon were crowded inside the living room - including his Bulbasaur.

    "Bulbasaur!" Ash cried, pulling away from Delia.

    "Bulba!" Bulbasaur responded, running towards Ash before leaping into his arms, a vine whip encircling the boy tightly in a hug. Ash looked up from his Pokemon and saw Tracey sitting in a chair, a tight grimace of pain on his face - Ash noticed that his leg was twisted at a very odd angle. Still, he smiled at Ash along with the rest.

    "Tracey, what happened?" Ash asked, walking up to the Pokemon Watcher. Tracey just shook his head and looked around the room.

    "I think you'd better sit down, Ash," he said. "It's a really strange story. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't been there." Ash slowly lowered himself into a chair, looking around at Delia, Brock, Misty, Max, Tracey, Dawn, Norman, Caroline, and Professor Oak nervously.

    "It was the Rayquaza, Ash," Professor Oak said abruptly. He turned and looked out the window in the direction where his destroyed home lay. "When it suddenly appeared during your battle, I realized that it must have crossed Pallet Town on the way because of it's direction. When it started to attack, I wondered if maybe someone in Pallet had somehow angered it."

    "They didn't," Tracey said, uncharacteristically harshly. "Nearly everyone from Pallet Town had gone to the Colosseum, hoping to see you win and mark Pallet as a place of champions. I was one of the only people who stayed behind, and that was because I volunteered to look after all of the Pokemon in the lab. I was watching your match on TV when I heard a roar coming from outside. It didn't sound like any of the Pokemon at the lab, so I went outside to have a look."

    His eyes darkened, and for a moment his hands balled into fists. "It was the Rayquaza," he said in a bitter tone. "It just flew up from the south. I couldn't believe my eyes. A legendary Pokemon, in Pallet Town! It just stared down at the lab and seemed really confused. Then it saw a knot of Jumpluff and a pod of Poliwhirl by one of the lakes. It just went berserk and started firing all kinds of attacks at the Pokemon. For some reason both lakes started turning brown. I think it some of the banks must have collapsed and sent a bunch of dirt into them or something. Some of the Pokemon ran into the lab, but it actually attacked the building! I've never seen anything like it. That Rayquaza absolutely destroyed the lab." He fell silent, struggling to contain his anger.

    "Tracey told us that Bulbasaur here was brave enough to try and fight it off," Professor Oak cut in. "Unfortunately, none of it's grass attacks seemed to do anything but distract it's attention. Bulbasaur was lucky to get away by hiding in the forest with May's Bulbasaur."

    "The Rayquaza just wouldn't stop attacking," Tracey broke in again. "Everytime it saw a Pokemon, it attacked. Most of them ran off, but I have no idea where they've gone. I've never seen a Pokemon lose control like that."

    "But what happened to your leg?" Gary asked.

    "When the Pokemon ran inside the building and the Rayquaza kept trying to attack them, I went in to try and get them out into the forest so they could hide," Tracey said. "The building came down right as I got to the door. I'm not sure what it was, but something hit me in the leg and broke it. If May hadn't come up on Pidgeot and led everyone to me, I'm not sure what would have happened. Both of the Bulbasaur were trying to look after me though." That was when Ash realized that something was wrong.

    "Hey, where is May anyways?" he asked.

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    Chapter Ten: Revelation

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    May stood alone in the backyard, near the pond at the back of the garden. A pool of light from the windows fell on her back, illuminating her shadow on the surface of the pond. She watched silently as the Tauros slept peacefully on the other side, noticing that Sceptile lay quietly in a tree a little to her right. She was sure that Noctowl, Swellow, Pidgeot, and Ambipom were up there too.

    She stooped and picked up a couple of pebbles on the ground. She slid them around her hand, allowing all but two to slide back to the earth. She lightly tossed one pebble into the water, watching as it fell beneath the surface with a light "ploop". She rolled the other pebble around in her fingers, feeling it's perfectly smooth, round shape. She was about to toss it into the water too but then changed her hand, sticking it in her pocket.

    A short burst of red light, and May released her Eevee, yawning, from her Poke Ball.

    "Vui?" her Pokemon asked, curious why she had been called out. May bent down and scratched Eevee's head before slowly walking to the tree and sitting down softly in the dirt at it's base.

    "Oh, it's nothing," she said quietly. "Sometimes it's just helpful to have somebody to talk to, or just be there I guess." She sighed, and Eevee climbed into her lap, curling up into a little ball and then looking up into May's beautiful sapphire eyes. To Eevee's surprise, they were sparkling with the first sign of tears.

    "Vui eievui?" Eevee asked. May closed her eyes and shook her head. From within the house she heard faint conversation, and she knew that Ash was being filled in on what had happened at the lab. To Eevee's alarm, soft tears began to fall soundlessly from beneath her lashes. Although May made no sound or movement, Eevee knew that she was crying. She pawed at her trainer, and May suddenly reached down and gave Eevee a tight hug.

    They stayed that way for several moments until May's tears stopped flowing. She wiped her eyes on her sleeve and looked down at Eevee. Eevee didn't know what was going on, but she was just glad that she had somehow been able to comfort her trainer.

    "Thank you, Eevee," she said softly.

    "Vui," Eevee smiled, curling into a tight ball again. May looked out over the pond for a little while, just watching the breeze ripple the water against the reeds. It was extremely peaceful.

    "Pika?" Eevee looked up quickly at the noise then turned to May, an expression of longing on her face.

    "Go on, Eevee," she said, a sad smile on her face. "It's been ages since you've played with Pikachu. Go and catch up - I'll be alright here for a little while."

    "Eievui," Eevee said with a smile, and dashed over to where she'd heard Pikachu. May watched the two of them as they ran over to the other side of the yard, and noticed that both of the Bulbasaur had materialized and joined them. She smiled a little inwardly, although her expression remained sad. Somebody flopped down next to her. She knew who it was without even turning to look. Only one person had that little grace.

    The two of them looked towards the pond, although May could sense that he kept stealing sideways glances at her. They sat like that for a long time in silence; not uncomfortable, just tranquil. Looking at the reflection in the water, May realized that it was a full moon.

    "I'm glad you're okay, May," Ash said at last. "Tracey told me how you warned the others about the lab, and his leg."

    "Don't ever do that to me again, Ash," May said quietly.

    "Do what?" Ash asked, puzzled.

    "Force me to leave in a dangerous situation. I could have helped fight off the Rayquaza. I could have helped you. Anabel told me what happened in the house before she left with Brandon. If it hadn't been for your Pokemon you would have died."

    "How could I have known that something like that would happen?" Ash asked. "If I'd known that I'd have been trapped in a burning building, do you really think that I would have gone off like that. What was important to me was that all of my friends were safe. I couldn't have lived if one of my friends died because I didn't protect them. Don't you understand that?"

    May tore her gaze away from the pond and looked into Ash's auburn eyes. "I understand completely, Ash," she said. "I understood when Pidgeot flew me away. But don't you understand how your friends would feel if they found out that you died protecting them, without them at your side? Worry might make you battle more rashly, but friendship is a strong bond. If you'd let your friends battle with you the way you let the Frontier Brains, the Rayquaza might have been driven off before the fire started, and before you home was destroyed."

    Ash faltered at her logic and looked away from her eyes. He began to pick at the grass beside him.

    "I'm sorry, May," he said at last. "I didn't think of it that way before. I was just too, well, worried to realize that we could have fought better side-by-side than individually."

    Emotion welled up inside May. Unable to suppress it, she burst out into tears, throwing her arms around a very startled and surprised Ash. He patted her back awkwardly as she cried into his chest. He looked helplessly over at Pikachu, who was studiously ignoring the situation and determinedly trying to distract Eevee. At last, May's heaving stopped. She stayed in that position for a while longer, her arms held around an increasingly uncomfortable Ash, her face buried obscured by his now damp shirt.

    "Promise me that you'll never make me leave like that again," May whispered.

    "I promise," Ash said, still holding her awkwardly. They stayed like that for a few more minutes until Ash heard May begin to breathe more slowly and deeply. Realizing that she had fallen asleep, he gently unhooked her arms from around his neck and stood up, stretching his numb legs. He took a few experimental steps before turning back to May. He gently picked her up and carried her into the now-dark house, Pikachu and Eevee following at a distance while the two Bulbasaur made themselves comfortable outside.

    Lying comfortably on a tree branch, Sceptile chuckled softly to himself, having seen and heard everything. His trainer was maturing in a way that he never had before.

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

    May woke up when the sunlight played gently over her face. She sat up and realized that she was on the floor in Ash's room, a sleeping bag beneath her. She looked up at the bed and saw Dawn, still fast asleep, her long navy hair obscuring her eyes.

    "Good morning, May," Misty greeted her. May turned and saw her at Ash's desk, looking over all of Ash's badges and plaques.

    "Morning, Misty," May replied, standing up with a stretch. "Did we all sleep in here?"

    "You don't remember coming to bed?" Misty asked with surprise. May shook her head.

    "I think someone must have carried me up," she said. "Last thing I can remember, I was in the backyard looking at the pond. Where did you sleep? Did you share the bed with Dawn?"

    "No," Misty answered. "Dawn claimed the bed pretty early in the day, before Ash even got back actually. She told me not to sleep on it tonight no matter what. I actually went to bed a lot earlier than her, but I just slept on the floor like you did. Dawn stayed up pretty late talking to Max and Brock, so I'm not surprised that she's still asleep now."

    The wafting scent of bacon stole into the room under the doorframe. May gave a huge sniff and smiled. "Well, it looks like Brock is up at least," she said with a smile. "He's the only guy I know who can cook like that!"

    With her stomach rumbling, she ran for the door, flung it upon, and skidded to a halt. Sitting upright against the wall was Ash, his blue jacket folded next to him and being used as a pillow by both Pikachu and Eevee. All three were soundly asleep. May turned to Misty and pressed a finger to her lips, motioning for her to be quiet. Misty peered over May's shoulder and gave a silent giggle at the scene. The two girls quietly crept down the stairs and entered the kitchen. A scene of complete chaos met their eyes.

    Delia, Gary, Norman, Caroline, Tracey, and Professor Oak were all sitting at the table, drinking tea and coffee. They were doing their level best to avoid looking at Brock and Mr. Mime, both of whom were struggling against each other for control of the kitchen. While Brock fried the bacon, Mr. Mime started on the toast. Brock chased him away, only to turn and find Mr. Mime cooking the bacon himself. Likewise, Mr. Mime was trying to brew a fresh pot of tea, but the moment he turned around Brock poured it out and began to brew a different kind.

    "Some things never change," Misty sighed, taking a seat at the table next to Caroline.

    "Good morning Misty, May," Professor Oak greeted.

    "Morning Professor," they chorused back.

    "How long has this been going on for?" May asked, indicating the battle between Brock and Mr. Mime as both tried to serve the table first.

    "Since Ash competed in the Orange League," Delia said with a sigh. May looked puzzled, but before she could ask any more questions Ash and Max entered the room.

    "Hey guys," Ash said, stifling a yawn with his hand.

    "Good morning, Ash," Delia said with a smile as she took a sip of her coffee. "Morning Max."

    "Good morning, Mrs. Ketchum, Mom, Dad," he answered back.

    "Has there been any more news about the Rayquaza?" Ash asked, noticing that the TV was on. Norman sighed.

    "Yes and no," he said. "All we know for certain is that it came from the south. Now, the ocean is only a couple of hours walking distance from Pallet, so whatever it was that attacked it had to have come from the Ocean, the Sevii Islands, Cinnabar Island, or the Orange Islands. It's possible that it came from Hoenn, but I don't think it likely that the Rayquaza would fly that far when it's injured."

    "Injured?" Max asked, raising an eyebrow.

    "I remember thinking that I saw a burn on it's arm," Ash said. "I thought that it looked pretty fresh too."

    "The News crews picked up on the burn too," Norman said. "There were reports coming in for a couple of hours before your match that a Rayquaza was attacking indiscriminately, but they were all ignored for a couple of reasons; there was no proof, and Rayquaza is a legendary Pokemon. Almost nobody has ever seen one, so why should there be a sudden spurt of sightings?"

    "But then proof arrived in an unexpected way," Professor Oak cut in. "Your match was shown around the world. Everybody watching saw the Rayquaza arrive and attack. The trouble is that now that everybody is looking for the Rayquaza, it seems to have disappeared. Nobody's seen it since it destroyed the Colosseum."

    Ash shook his head. "Where did all of the attacks start?" he asked.

    "Last night the news crew said that the first reported attacks happened on Kumquat Island," Caroline said. A cold pit suddenly materialized in Ash's stomach. He looked up and his eyes sought Brock. They stared at each other, each hoping that they were wrong.

    "Could somebody please get me a map of the Orange Islands?" Ash asked, forcing himself to stay calm. Looking confused, Delia strode off to the bookcase in the living room. She quickly returned with an atlas of the Pokemon World. Ash took it from her with fumbling fingers and flipped to the Index, finding the page that showed all of the Orange Islands.

    "Has anybody heard anything about any other attacks in the Orange or Sevii Islands?" Brock asked.

    "There was something about a Zapdos appearing near Kinnow Island, but because there was no proof some of the people investigating the Rayquaza attacks have said that it was probably just a misidentified Rayquaza," Delia said.

    Gary snorted. "It's a bit difficult to mistake them," he said. "One's yellow and has wings; the other's green and looks like a flying snake."

    "Oh..." Misty whispered softly, looking over Ash's shoulder at the atlas.

    "What?" May asked.

    "Kumquat Island is north of Shamouti Island," Brock said. "Just south of Shamouti, there are three islets - Fire Island, Ice Island, and Lightning Island. They're the homes of Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos."

    "When I was in the Orange Islands, something extremely bad happened," Ash said.

    "That's an understatement," Misty muttered. Latias suddenly ran down the stairs in her human form. She beamed at everyone, waving, but to her surprise nobody noticed her appearance.

    "A Pokemon Collector was trying to catch a Lugia," Ash continued. "To do that, he had to lure it out by capturing all three legendary birds. He knew that Lugia would appear because it's their guardian, for lack of a better word."

    "I remember that too," Professor Oak said. "But when he began to capture the birds it disrupted the world's weather. This time, the Pokemon are attacking."

    "I'm positive that the burn was caused by Moltres," Ash said. "I don't know of any other Pokemon that could do so much damage to a legendary."

    "Maybe it was an Entei," Misty suggested. Gary shook his head.

    "Entei can't cross water, Misty," he said. "Whatever it was, it either lived there or flew there. A Moltres is the only thing that makes sense."

    "But why would a Moltres just attack a Rayquaza for no reason?" May asked. "It doesn't make sense." Everybody fell silent for a few moments, trying to think of reasons why this would have happened.

    "There was something else I noticed about the Rayquaza," Ash said slowly. "For some reason, it was only attacking the Pokemon at first. It was only after they all disappeared behind the dust that it started to attack the actual building."

    "The same thing happened at the lab," Tracey said. "It only tried to attack the building when the Pokemon ran inside, and it ignored me completely." The colour drained from Professor Oak's face.

    "You say that it was only attacking the Pokemon?" he asked. Ash and Tracey both nodded. "Did you notice anything else... strange, about it?" he asked.

    "I thought that it had a weird look in it's eyes," Ash said, screwing up his eyes in concentration. "I've seen a Rayquaza before, but never looking like that. They were kind of glinting. And it shuddered a couple of times too, but it was barely noticeable."

    "I remember the eyes too," Tracey said. "They had a cruel, look in them, but there was pain there too. I can't remember seeing it shudder though."

    "What is it, Gramps?" Gary asked, seeing the look on the Professor's face. "Do you know why the Rayquaza acted that way?"

    "I have a glimmer of an idea, but I've never heard of it affecting a Pokemon in that way before," Professor Oak said, turning away from the table.

    "Professor Oak, please tell us what you think," Brock said.

    The Professor turned back slowly and uttered one word: "Pokerus."

  12. #12
    The Golden Boy The Pig King's Avatar
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    Amazing! Great suspense.

    Banner by anime_aficionada.



  13. #13
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Chapter Eleven: Seperation

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    It was dawn. Somewhere outside Viridian City, the bushes rustled. A Weedle looked down from a nearby tree branch curiously. With a pop, a large blue creature burst up from the bushes, mouth wide open. "Weeeeeee!" Terrified, the Weedle scuttled off as fast as it could.

    "Waaaabbuffet!" the creature said, it's right arm touching it's forehead. It looked around. "Wabba, wobba wab?" it called. There was no answer. It looked around in panic, but couldn't see any sign of life through the undergrowth. The Wobbuffet sat down sadly. "Waab," it murmured. The bushes nearby rustled, and the Wobbuffet looked up eagerly. "Wabba?" it asked.

    Several Beedrill emerged, their red eyes glowing angrily at the Pokemon who had dared frighten their baby. They began to fly towards the Wobbuffet, stingers outstretched.

    "Wabba wabba!" the Wobbuffet screamed in panic, turning and running south as fast as it could, the Beedrill in hot pursuit.

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    The trainer looked down the path, humming happily. It was another hot summer day in the open, almost too hot with the insulating green pants he wore, specially tailored for the Sinnoh Region. But here under the trees it was quite cool, especially with the breeze and the rain clouds that could occasionally be glimpsed overhead, and the path he was on should lead him straight through Viridian Forest. After that, he decided, I'll rest at Pewter City.

    He heard a moan come from around the corner just ahead and he paused uncertainly. He heard it again; it didn't sound human. He began walking quickly towards it. Maybe a Pokemon was hurt and needed help. He rounded the corner and gasped. At the base of a large tree was an unconscious and badly injured Meowth. From the markings on the bark, it looked like the Meowth had somehow been run into the trunk about halfway up before sliding down to the ground.

    He bent to the injured Pokemon, wondering what could have propelled a Meowth into the tree at that height and speed. Maybe a Fearow caught it trying to rob it's nest, he thought. Or maybe it made a Nidoking really angry somehow. I've heard that there are a couple of wild ones around here. He reached out to touch the Pokemon, but it shivered at his touch and cried out in pain.

    The trainer bit his lip in worry. The nearest Pokemon Centre was back the way he'd come, in Viridian City. But even if he ran all of the way, it would still take a couple of hours to get there. The Meowth was too badly hurt for him to carry if the previous reaction was any indication. He sighed. He had no choice; he was going to have to catch it. Thanking the fates that he only had five Pokemon on him at the moment, he took a spare Poke Ball, enlarged it, and touched the Meowth with it as gently as possible. In a flash of red light, it burst inside. He watched the Poke Ball intently, but it didn't even wobble once.

    At least it wasn't a trainer's lost Meowth, he thought. I'd have had to leave it here for the trainer to find by themselves then. He bit his lip again. How to get to the Pokemon Centre as fast as possible?

    "Cruz, let's go!" he shouted, throwing out a Poke Ball. In a burst of light, a Tyranitar emerged. "Cruz," he began, but upon seeing it's trainer the Tyranitar turned away. "Cruz, please!" he shouted. "I know that you don't like me, and haven't listened to me since you evolved, but I need your help." The Tyranitar yawned, and then growled at the sky as the first drops of rain began.

    "Please, Cruz," he begged. "I just found an injured Meowth. It's hurt real bad. It needs to get to a Pokemon Centre right away, but I won't be able to get there fast enough. You can move a lot faster than me. I need you to take the Pokemon back to Viridian City now!" The Tyranitar glanced at it's trainer. Hate for him shone through it's eyes.

    "I know you hate the rain, but if you don't do it, the Meowth could die. Please Cruz, do this one thing for me. I promise that I'll never ask you to do anything again if you'll just help me this one time." The Tyranitar gave an inward groan. Hating itself for listening to it's trainer, but knowing that it was the only one who could help save the injured Pokemon's life, what choice did it have? It closed it's eyes and gave an abrupt nod.

    "Thank you," the trainer whispered, pressing the Poke Ball into the Tyranitar's hand. Sparing time only to give a contemptuous look to it's trainer, the Tyranitar stomped off as fast as it could among the trees. The trainer gave a huge sigh of regret as he watched the Tyranitar leave.

    "What did I do wrong that made you hate me so much?" he whispered.

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    Groaning, the man dangled painfully from the tree branch. He put a hand to his blue hair, wincing at the size of the bump on his head. He looked at the ground and was surprised to see how high up he was. He sighed and began searching for a branch within his reach so that he could climb down. He found one almost instantly, just below him. He tried to wriggle off the branch, but found that he couldn't move.

    Panicking, he tried to move in the opposite direction, but with no success. He realized that his right arm felt unusually heavy. He turned to see why and groaned. His arm was jammed between several tightly-knitted branches, leaving him stuck in this tree unless he was able to free himself. He began to slowly try and manoeuvre his arm out, wincing every time it became jammed between the branches.

    "Fear?" he heard a voice croak. Looking up from his arm, he was startled to suddenly see a young Fearow pop it's neck out from behind the branches.

    "H-hello," he said with a weak grin. Two more baby Fearow raised their necks to look at him. Realization dropped. The branches weren't in that shape naturally, they had been woven. His arm had crushed through a Fearow's nest. A shadow wheeled over him, and he gulped as he felt rather than saw several long claws ruffle through his hair.

    The angry mother landed next to him, hissing menacingly at his close proximity to her chicks. A slightly smaller male landed next to his mate, a hard glint of rage in his eyes. The man stared at them both in fear. The two furious parents let out a simultaneous screech of anger and lunged at the man, their beaks glowing as they launched into a combined Drill Peck.

    A powerful electric attack crashed upwards, so close that the man felt his eyebrows begin to crackle from the sheer intensity. It smashed directly into the two Fearow, and both the mother and the father wheeled upwards towards the rain-soaked clouds that soared overhead, trying to escape the attack. The man gave a sigh of relief and looked downwards. A dark-haired trainer and his Electivire stood on the path. The trainer had a bored expression on his face as he watched the two Fearow circle far overhead.

    "Thank you," the man called down gratefully.

    "For what?" the trainer answered, a contemptuous note in his voice. "I was trying to capture those Fearow, not save you."

    "Oh... well, do you think you could help me to get down before those Fearow come back?" he asked.

    "Why? Scared to climb down?" the trainer asked, condescension on his face.

    "No, my arm's stuck inside the Fearow's nest. That's why they attacked me," the man explained. The trainer gazed upwards and gave a sideways nod to his Electivire. The Pokemon leaped into the tree as the rain began, scaling it rapidly.

    "Brick Break the nest," the trainer said, sounding bored again. The man gasped.

    "But there are young Fearow in there, they could get hurt!" he protested.

    "I don't care about the babies, all I care about is catching one of the adults," the trainer said with a snort. "Do it, Electivire."

    "Erek." The Electivire raised an arm, white tendrils covering it's fur. In one swift motion it brought the arm downwards, smashing through the side of the nest, freeing the man's arm, and sending the three young Fearow plummeting earthwards, squawking in alarm. Without thinking, the man slid over the edge of the branch, arms outstretched.

    Two of the Fearow flapped their little wings as hard as they could, managing to gain enough lift to steer themselves towards a branch which they grasped onto with all of their might. Paralysed with fear, the third Fearow plummeted to the ground, shrieking. Falling just behind it, the man reached out and managed to grab the Fearow by it's wingtip. He swung it upwards, burying the bird Pokemon in his chest right before he crashed into the ground shoulder-first, sending up a spray of mud.

    "Pathetic," the trainer muttered, motioning his Electivire to jump down before walking off. "I'll never catch those Fearow now."

    The man groaned and struggled to his knees. His shoulder ached abominably and he was sore all over, but it didn't feel like any bones were broken. He was silently grateful for the rain. The mud had softened his fall enough to avoid serious damage.

    "Fee?" the little Fearow asked him, hopping close and tilting it's neck inquisitively.

    "I'll be okay," the man assured him, massaging his injured shoulder gently. "I've been in a lot of falls worse than that before." He looked up to where the nest had once been and winced regretfully. "I'm sorry that your home was destroyed. I didn't want that to happen," he said softly. "Still, at least you're okay." He gave the young Fearow a weak smile and then realized that the trainer was some distance down the path.

    "Hey wait!" he called, scrambling to his feet and running after the trainer.

    "What now?" the trainer asked, turning with an annoyed look on his face.

    "Can you tell me where I am, and how to get to the nearest city?" the man asked. The trainer snorted.

    "You mean you don't even know where you are?"

    "Uhh, not as such, no. When you get blasted off by a Rayquaza's Hyper Beam, you don't really have time to plan out your route."

    "Huh, so you were at the match between Cynthia and that weakling Ash, were you?" the trainer assumed. Without waiting for an answer he continued. "You're in a forest that's west of Viridian City. To get there, you need to go that direction." He pointed back the way he'd come.

    "Thank you. But don't you think that's kind of harsh, calling the twerp a weakling? He was fighting to become a Master."

    "I've beaten him so many times," the trainer muttered, anger pooling out of his eyes. "He'll always be weak until he learns that the only strong Pokemon is one that knows a powerful attack when it's caught." The man hesitated for a moment and then held out his hand.

    "My name's-"

    "I know who you are, James," the trainer said, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and meet my father at Tohjo Falls. He said that there's something he needs me to do." He turned and took a few steps down the path before stopping and glancing back, a calculating look in his narrowed eyes. He recalled hearing something about James recently...

    "Want to come with me?" he asked. James started.

    "Eh, but, Tohjo Falls isn't on the way to Viridian," he began.

    "You'll like my father," the trainer said.

    "I should really just try to find my friends at the nearest Pokemon Centre," James argued.

    "I'll make sure my father gives you a five-course meal made by the greatest chefs in Kanto," the trainer smirked. James gulped. Right on que, his stomach rumbled.

    "Five courses?" he asked. The trainer shrugged.

    "Make it six if you like," he said.

    "Well, when you put it like that..." James said.

    "My name's Paul," the trainer said. "If you're going to come with me, just try and keep up." Abruptly, he turned and began to walk down the path, hands still buried in his pockets.

    James stood there, slightly stunned at the sudden change from indifference, to warmth, to downright contempt. He sighed and felt a sudden weight on his shoulder as the young Fearow landed on it. "It'll be difficult to stay on his good side," he muttered, as much to the Fearow as to himself. To his surprise, the Fearow reached down and pecked a Poke Ball on his belt. The Poke Ball absorbed the Fearow, rolled once, and then clanked still.

    James looked at the Poke Ball in disbelief, but felt a warm feeling growing inside. At least he wouldn't be travelling with Paul alone.

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    "I thought Professor Namba said they were in Viridian City," Butch complained to Cassidy.

    "They were when he told us that a week ago," she said, reclining comfortably on the sofa. "Who knows where they've gone to now?"

    "Probably still following that kid and his Pikachu," Butch muttered. Cassidy overheard him.

    "Hey, that's not a bad idea," she said. "He was in that match with Cynthia right? I'm guessing he's probably gone back to his home town for a little while until all of the interest dies. Maybe they'll be there too."

    "Yeah, maybe," Butch acquiesced. He looked unhappily around the hotel room. It was a luxurious suite that had a balcony, a fireplace, a 50-inch Plasma TV, and furniture made of the softest leather. It even had two single beds, and the whole room was being paid for by the organization. He hated it. He hated the room, he hated his situation, and he feared the future. Just before they had left for Viridian City, Giovanni had made a surprise appearance. He'd reiterated that he wanted Jessie, James, and Meowth dead; and he'd promised them that if they didn't do it, they'd be taking their places.

    Butch growled in his frustration. No matter what happened, he'd end up being either dead, or a murderer. He stood and walked towards the door.

    "Where are you going?" Cassidy asked without too much interest.

    "I need... fresh air," he muttered, and stalked out of the room.

    "We have a balcony," she pointed out, but he was already gone.

    Butch left the hotel and walked down the street slowly. He didn't notice the darkening sky. He didn't pay any attention to where he was going, and just let his feet lead the way. He hunched over everytime he passed someone, wishing he'd put on another shirt. The large red 'R' on his black vest almost instantly identified him as a member of Team Rocket.

    Unable to bear the stares people gave him any longer, he turned off into an alleyway, took off his shirt and flipped it inside-out. It may look bad, but at least people won't be going out of their way to avoid me, he thought dully. He put his shirt back on and continued to walk down the alley, emerging into a small park. He wandered aimlessly around until he saw a free set of swings. Sitting down in the centre-most one he began to kick back and forth, moving forwards and back slowly, barely aware of the black clouds that raced overhead.

    He began to think about his life, and all of the decisions he had made that had ended up putting him in this situation. How did it end being like this? What decision did I ever make that would force me to either kill, or be killed? What can I do? These questions raced around in his mind over and over again. Despite being a part of Team Rocket, and all of the evil things he had done for the organization, he didn't consider himself a bad person. He'd been a street kid when the recruiters came around; he had no real future away from the gangs, and by being part of Team Rocket he'd get a good salary, and his very own Pokemon.

    He sighed and shook his head as the rain began. No matter how many times he looked through his life, he never saw anything that he could have done differently. It seemed that he had always been destined to be a killer.

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    Jessie awoke in the bushes when a heavy gust of wind caused several nearby pinecones to rise from the ground and pelt her in the forehead. She moaned and put a hand to her bruised head; she could feel a massive headache coming on, and suspected that the pinecones would only make it worse.

    "What a day," she groaned. "First we try to sell refreshments at the twerp's match to make a little cash and pay back our debt, but nobody will buy anything. Then that Rayquaza appears and blasts us all away. And now it looks like it's going to start raining," she grumbled as the first few drops alighted on her head.

    "Meowth, do something," she whined. "Get me a blanket so I don't get wet." She waited for the usual snarky response, and her eyes snapped open when it didn't come. She looked around, but she was all alone. "Meowth?" she called, a note of panic in her voice. "James! Answer me!" Her only reply was another strong gust of wind.

    "Brilliant," she sighed. "Looks like I've only got Wobbuffet for company." She closed her eyes, waiting for the customary self-release. "Wobbuffet?" she asked sharply. Her eyes opened as she looked for the right Poke Ball on her belt. Finally finding it she called Wobbuffet out, but the ball just bounced squelchily on the rapidly dampening path. She closed her eyes in horror, recalling that Wobbuffet had been selling snacks with them.

    "Wobbuffet!" she screamed. "Wobbuffet, where are you?"

    "Need some help?" she heard a voice ask. She opened her eyes and saw a green-haired coordinator in a loose purple jacket.

    "Oh no," she groaned, closing her eyes again. "Not you." The coordinator looked surprised at her reaction and bent closer.

    "Jessie!" he said in surprise. "I didn't recognize you under all of that mud."

    "Thanks, twerp," she muttered. "Are you going to help me out of this bush or what?"

    "On two conditions."

    "Those being?" she asked.

    "You don't try to steal any of my Pokemon," he stated. She looked at him indignantly.

    "I don't want your Pokemon, you can have them! The only Pokemon I want to steal is that Pikachu."

    "Number two," he continued. "You stop calling me 'twerp' and call me by my name instead." She rolled her eyes.

    "Fine, Drew," she said. "Now if you'd please help me up?" Drew grabbed her by the arm and heaved her out of the bush. She stumbled as she caught her footing before turning to face the coordinator.

    "Thanks, tw-" she caught herself just in time. "Thanks, Drew," she amended. He gave her a quick grin.

    "No problem, we all need a little help sometime." A lightning stroke flashed, illuminating the area more vividly as the rain began to fall down hard. "Follow me," Drew shouted, motioning into the wood.

    "Where are we going?" Jessie asked as they both began to run and try to escape the rain.

    "I'd just found a cave and was about to go inside for shelter when I heard you calling," Drew answered. "I couldn't hear what you were saying so I decided to check it out in case you needed help." He pushed a branch aside and ran across a small clearing before reaching the cave, Jessie close behind.

    She flopped down gratefully on the dry rock and watched as Drew kindled a fire. "So why are you out here in Kanto?" she asked. Although it was dark, she could still see him flush.

    "I came to see a friend," he said carefully. "I think she's nearby in Pallet Town." Jessie nodded knowingly.

    "She's nearby?" she teased. Drew flushed again, but the tenseness and raw emotion of rejection he had carried inside for years compelled him to speak out.

    "When I went to Johto and she came too, I was happy. I thought she'd finally gotten shot of that Ketchum kid and her nerdy little brother, and would want to travel everywhere with me instead." He sighed. "How wrong was I? I actually did travel with her for a little ways, from Goldenrod City to Ecruteak City. I thought she'd come to Johto because she wanted to be with me. But she didn't. When I told her how I felt about her, she kind of nodded in understanding and then just carried on as usual."

    "That must have hurt," Jessie commented.

    "It did, and still does. I tried to get closer to her, but I pushed her too far. I woke up one morning, and she'd gone on without me. She didn't even leave me a note telling me where she'd gone. The next time I saw her was at the Grand Festival. I told her then that I was going to go to Sinnoh for the Super Contests. I was sure that she'd follow me there. But as soon as I'd left for Sinnoh, she headed to Frayen instead. I've been looking for her ever since."

    Jessie shook her head. "So now you've finally tracked her to Pallet Town?" she asked. Drew nodded.

    "I'd just arrived in Kanto for a trip to Saffron City when I heard about a trainer trying to become a Master by beating Cynthia. I decided to watch it on TV, thinking that the trainer must be pretty good for the match to be an international broadcast. I sure didn't expect it to be Ketchum. I figured that since they're friends, May would be there cheering for him. So I decided not to go to Saffron after all but head to Pallet Town instead, since that's where Ash is from and I figured that he'd celebrate there."

    "Do you think you can win her heart?" Jessie asked him. "She is pretty close to that twerp, and I've always thought that they have something going on." Drew flushed angrily.

    "Oh, I'll get her all right," he muttered. "She's like putty when she's given a rose. Plus it's been so long since she's seen me that she's sure to realize how much she's missed me when she does."

    "I just happen to be going to Pallet Town too," Jessie informed him, but Drew didn't seem to hear.

    "Watch out, May," he murmured, a fanatical light in his eyes. "Your dream boy's coming."

  14. #14
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Thanks for the comment, BlazikenEX. I hope that you'll continue reading! If anybody feels like leaving a comment for me, please go right ahead!

    Chapter Twelve: Infection


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

    "Professor Oak, please tell us what you think," Brock said.

    The Professor turned back slowly and uttered one word: "Pokerus."

    Ash stared at the Professor in confusion. He wasn't alone; Misty, May, Max, Delia, Norman, and Caroline were also looking puzzled. Gary, Tracey, and Brock all gave a sharp intake of breath.

    "Of course... the Pokerus," Gary murmured.

    "What's a Pokerus?" May asked.

    "Pokerus is a short form for 'Pokemon Virus'," Professor Oak explained. "I began researching it just after you went to Hoenn, Ash. Even though I've been researching it for about six years, I still don't know much about it."

    "Why not?" Dawn asked, making everybody jump - nobody had noticed her coming down the stairs. "6 years is a long time to be researching and still not know a whole lot." Gary came to the Professor's defence.

    "The trouble is that Pokerus is dangerous for the Pokemon," he said. "When a Pokemon is infected, it makes them grow at an accelerated rate. That will still happen after the infection fades in fact, so that side-effect is very useful for training. The infection itself only lasts for 24 hours. But the Pokerus is very contagious. It can't be spread to humans, but every Pokemon has the potential to contract it."

    "I still don't see why it's so dangerous," Dawn said. "You said it's a good thing for the Pokemon, and if it's contagious that can only help all of a trainer's Pokemon grow quickly, right?" Professor Oak shook his head.

    "It's only the side-effect of the Pokerus that has ever been useful," he said. "The problem with Pokerus is that it hurts the infected Pokemon. It makes them feral for the 24 hours that they are infected, and therefore exceedingly dangerous to anything that moves, person or Pokemon - although it seems as if it will always attack a Pokemon first. You were there when the Rayquaza destroyed the Colosseum two days ago, Dawn. It was completely unprovoked, and primarily directed at the Pokemon on the field. From what Tracey has said, it seems as if a similar thing happened at the lab. The Rayquaza was attacking the Pokemon, not the lab itself."

    "So... when a Pokemon is infected, it basically loses it's mind and goes crazy until the disease wears off?" Dawn asked, beginning to understand.

    "That's it in a nutshell," Professor Oak answered. "And that's why we still know very little about it. You see, its very dangerous to examine an infected Pokemon. And it's even more dangerous to deliberately infect a Pokemon with it. Some Pokemon that have weak immune systems aren't able to fight it off in time and die."

    "But why would a Rayquaza have caught the disease?" Misty asked. "It usually lives up in the ozone layer, and there aren't any other Pokemon I know of that live that high up."

    "The Pokerus isn't actually a disease," Gary answered. "We may not know much about it, but one thing we do know is that the actual Pokerus is a type of micro-organism that attaches to a Pokemon. The infection dies when the micro-organisms do, although the side-effects can last for years. We don't have a clue where it comes from either. For all we know, it could come from space."

    "So once the Rayquaza was infected by the disease," Ash said, thinking over the likely sequence of events that they had outlined, "it just attacked the first Pokemon that it saw, which happened to be a Moltres. And of course, a Moltres is a legendary Pokemon too; it wouldn't just be knocked out from an attack, it would be able to fight back."

    "That's exactly what must have happened," Tracey said. "When the Rayquaza attacked the Moltres, it retaliated. It managed to land a powerful hit on the Rayquaza's arm. That attack drove it off but just made it even more enraged than it already was. So it attacked the Pokemon at the lab and in the Colosseum with even more power."

    "That makes sense," May said, "but the infection will have worn off by now, won't it?"

    Latias gave a high keening shriek of pain. She collapsed to the floor, reverted into her natural form, shuddering uncontrollably.

    "Latias? Latias!" Ash shouted, knocking his chair over in his hurry to get to her side.

    "Get all of the Pokemon outside!" Professor Oak shouted, grabbing a surprised Pikachu by the tail and dragging it away from Latias. "Now!"

    "Wha? Why?" Max asked.

    "Just do it!" Oak shouted. "Poke Balls included, it can be transmitted directly through those."

    "Huh?" Max asked, more confused than ever. Gary grabbed him and pulled him back.

    "Do as the Professor says," he snapped. "See that growth above her eyes?" He pointed out a small, lumpy pustule, a nauseating grey-green in colour. "She's contracted the Pokerus."

    "How?" Misty asked, wide-eyed at the sight of Latias stretched out on the floor in pain.

    "GET YOUR POKEMON AND POKE BALLS OUTSIDE!" Professor Oak roared.

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

    "Pika..." Pikachu whispered, looking inside through the window with drooping ears. Every single Pokemon had been released from their Poke Balls while Brock sterilized them to make sure that the Pokerus couldn't infect them through the Poke Balls. They were all in the backyard, wondering just what was going on.

    So were Misty, Max, Delia, Dawn, Norman, and Caroline. Ash, May, Brock, Professor Oak and Gary were the only ones in the house with Latias. Now, they were all waiting for news on Latias's condition. At last, Gary appeared at the back door.

    "Gramps wants to apologize for shouting, but he's a little busy so I'm here to do it for him," he said. "You should probably know why he was so anxious to get every Pokemon outside too. You see, the Pokerus is extremely contagious. You wouldn't believe how quickly it can be transmitted."

    "How could Latias have caught it?" Norman asked. "Was it from the battle against the Rayquaza?"

    "No, it's normally only transmitted through direct physical contact," Gary said. "Rayquaza didn't touch Latias, or any of the Pokemon used to battle it. We don't know how she caught it, but I'm sure that Gramps has a theory."

    "What was the rush with getting all of the Poke Balls outside if it's only contagious through contact?" Dawn asked, a little indignantly.

    "I said that it's normally transmitted that way," Gary corrected her. "Pokerus can leave an infected host, but it dies very quickly if it does. It's something to do with the blood it's absorbed I think; Pokerus that hasn't infected a Pokemon can survive freely until it finds a host. From what the Professor and I know, the furthest a Pokerus can go after it has infected a host is five feet away. If there are any Pokemon or Poke Balls within that radius, they can be infected. That's why we had to get you all out, and why the Poke Balls are all being sterilized."

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

    Ash crouched down near Latias, worry shining through his eyes as he gazed at her outstretched form.

    "Here," May said, squatting next to him. "I've brought a blanket to keep her warm." She spread the blanket on top of Latias. At May's touch, Latias's eyes snapped open. She began thrashing around, hissing angrily. A nasty gleam came into her eyes and she lunged, trying to bite the co-ordinator.

    "Look out!" Professor Oak shouted as he dragged a shocked May back in the nick of time. Latias's snapping jaws closed shut inches from her arm.

    "Latias, calm down," Ash urged, throwing himself in front of the legendary as she reared back again, and wrapping his arms around her neck as he tried to restrain her.

    "Ash, get away from her!" May screamed. Ash held on grimly to the enraged Pokemon as it thrashed on the floor, trying to shake her attacker off. She managed to twist her neck towards Ash, rage gleaming in her eyes as she looked at him and prepared to strike.

    "Latias, take it easy," he said soothingly. Inexplicably, the fight went out of her as she locked eyes with Ash. The gleam in her eyes vanished and she slowly lowered her head. Ash felt the tenseness leave her neck, and to his great surprise she lay her head in his lap, keeping one eye focused on his face. The Professor gaped.

    "That was... unexpected," he said. "Ash, how did you manage to get her to calm down like that? I've never seen anything like it in my life." Ash shrugged, carefully keeping his face turned to Latias.

    "For some reason I've always had this strange kind of connection to legendaries," he said. "I don't know why, but they seem to trust me. In all of my travels I've ridden a Lugia, befriended Mewtwo, saved the lives of a Mew and a Celebi, rescued a Manaphy from a pirate, and even managed to convince a Suicune to purify a polluted lake." Professor Oak shook his head in disbelief but looked at Ash with a mixture of respect and awe. He took a tentative step forwards, but Latias swivelled her head and began hissing menacingly again.

    "Professor, I think you and May should both go outside," Ash said, taking hold of Latias's head again, calming her down. "It looks like I'm the only one who can get near her right now, and you two could get hurt if you come any closer." Professor Oak shook his head.

    "I'm not going anywhere, Ash" he said. "You might need me later. Besides, if I stay around long enough without be threatening, she should acclimatize."

    "I'm not leaving either," May added. "She may have tried to attack me but I know that she's not in her right mind. If I can help her, I will." Ash shrugged.

    "It's your choice. Don't try to get too close to her though." Professor Oak pulled out a chair from the table, trying to think of a way to change the subject from Latias's infection.

    "Tell me, Ash," he said, "have you thought about where you're going next?"

    "Well, I was going to stay at the Colosseum as a Frontier Brain," he sighed, "but I can't do that now that its been destroyed. Dawn said that she was going to back to Sinnoh for a while to visit Johanna and tour around the region. She hasn't been back since she competed in the Sinnoh Grand Festival, and I think she wanted to enter a couple more contests there for fun. I've been thinking of going with her. I want to see how the region's coping now that Team Galactic have disbanded, and it'll be great to see Nando again." Latias gave a shudder and he stroked her neck gently.

    "You could probably battle the Gyms too," Professor Oak said. "I'm sure that they'd all love to be challenged by you, and there are other Gyms that you haven't been to yet. Each region generally has at least sixteen Gyms, and some of them aren't visited very often because they're so far out of the usual way. I know of some leaders who are just dying for an opponent."

    "That sounds great!" Ash said happily. "I'd love to battle all of the other Gyms. It would make the journey a lot more interesting than just visiting Twinleaf Town and coming back to Kanto."

    "Ash?" May asked, her cheeks suddenly feeling a little warm. "Do you think it would be okay if I came along too? I've never been to Sinnoh, and I'd like to-"

    "That would be great!" Ash beamed. "I'd love it if you come with us, May."

    She went pink at the sight of his smile, and turned away quickly. Why do I suddenly feel warm and kind of faint? she wondered silently. She thought about how happy he seemed to be at the idea of travelling with her again, and her stomach gave an unexpected jolt. Of course, she thought in relief. I'm just hungry.

  15. #15
    is watching you Lil Brother's Avatar
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    Great job, Matkin! ^^ This is so well-written and addicting. I look foward to reading the rest of the chapters on FanFiction.
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