"You can call me Giselle."
I think staring like that is supposed to be awkward for the human species, or so I am told. Aoi kicked him mentally.
"I'm not staring." Ash blurted absent-mindedly, only to find the black-haired girl raise a single eyebrow with more grace than he had ever had in his life. Given her hair style, her dressing sense and her sense of self, Ash wondered if Cynthia and this girl had talked fashion. That was before enlightenment flooded through his mind, or perhaps it was just his common-sense kicking in.
"… I spoke that aloud, didn't I?"
Giselle laughed loudly without a care at that. "I believe you did. Either way if you are done not staring, I'd love to know the name of the person responsible for today's entertainment."
"Uh. I'm Ash." He replied, partly wondering what made him so flustered around this girl. He had, if he were being honest with himself, been in the company of several beautiful girls ever since his journey began. Cynthia was extremely beautiful, and Misty had a playful aura about her, especially after one survived her externally tomboyish persona. Sabrina was beautiful in the more ruthless kind of way, as was that Battle Tower Master he had fought in the last round. He could admit that Gary's elder sister Daisy was extremely hot too, and she never missed a chance to try get him flustered around her using outrageous comments and innuendos from time to time, and even then, he hadn't been so flustered around her. But this girl was-
Aoi mentally kicked him again.
"—uh, right. Ash Ketchum, from Pallet Town."
"Ash," Giselle repeated, as if tasting how the name sounded to her ears, "I'm Giselle. Pleased to meet you." She extended her hand out to him this time, shaking his own with a sense of extreme confidence, before turning to look at his companion. "And you are?"
"She's Aoi." Ash answered automatically, "she's a friend of mine, accompanying me for my travels."
As if to agree with whatever he had just said, Aoi returned a soft smile. Either way, it seemed enough for Giselle to disregard her, and refocus her attention on Ash.
If only the others were so heedless of my presence. Aoi sent Ash a mental image, slightly discomforted at the other boys who were not at all ogling her, while trying to pretend otherwise. As if to make a point, Ash pulled Aoi slightly closer to him, said person only too happy to comply.
The fact that Giselle's lips curved upwards so very slightly at that shift in his body language had nothing to do with that. Instead, she focussed on Ash. "I believe you are not associated with our Academy?"
"Uh—no, not really. I just came in to see a friend of mine who studies here."
Giselle looked interested. "Oh? And who's that?"
Ash rummaged through his pocket to require the card. "Misty. Misty Waterflower from Cerulean city?"
Giselle looked slightly taken aback. "You are Misty's friend? Like the Misty's friend?"
Ash felt confused. "I didn't know that Misty was that famous, I mean—she's the gym leader and-"
"Bro," It was one of the other boys-read henchmen- that had initially gathered around Drew before Poliwrath had given the green-haired boy a perfect experience of his water-gun shot. "—Misty is like the man-hater of the school. She hates people on general principle."
"Yeah, she even threatened to release her Gyarados on the last boy that asked her out to a date." Another said.
"Even Drew keeps away from her. I heard that she said that she'd tie him and throw him amidst Sharpedo." A more shell-shocked one spoke, with eyes that strangely reminded Ash of a war-veteran. "Knowing her, she'd pull it off too."
"Maybe she's just using him for her heinous ploys?" Another one exclaimed with something like sadness in his voice. The person, a bespectacled dirty-blonde-haired, lanky fellow, spoke up, staring at Ash with something akin to pity.
"Uh—I think you might be exaggerating." Ash subconsciously stepped back.
"Welcome to the club brother." The dirty-blonde-haired one continued. "To be Misty Waterflower's friend is no easy task. It is not something we wished upon ourselves but we need to carry it on our head for the rest of our pitiful lives. Trust me, I've been in your shoes and had the same doubts on my life."
Beside him, Aoi was running circles inside her head, wondering how in hell had she not gotten along with someone so territorial. Perhaps there might have been something to the never judge something from its cover crap that her first master used to go on and on about.
"Uh," Ash took another step back, only to find his left-hand touching Giselle's, who smiled back at him. "Either way, why have you come looking for her over here?"
"Well, you see—Misty kind of told me to visit her here when I passed the area. She was in a hurry to get here and I had some business to take care of."
"Hang on, so you are that trainer she is travelling with?" Giselle raised both eyebrows in surprise. And then, she pushed herself on her ankles, trying to look past Ash, as if she had missed seeing something important about him.
"What are you doing?" Ash asked, not at all feeling comfortable with all the attention.
"Aren't you supposed to have a Pikachu and everything?"
Contrary to what most people who might have heard Ash's story of starting out as a trainer might have thought, Ash did not immediately immerse himself with feelings of disappointment and rage and a bundle of other negative emotions.
"…No?" He answered, slightly confused. "Why would I have a Pikachu with me?"
"And where is your purple hat?" Giselle went on.
"My… what?" Ash oddly remembered the old, red, Pokémon League hat he had worn when starting out with Bagon, but the blasted thing had been lost during the aftermath of the St. Anne. And frankly, after being through everything he had experienced, applying for that stupid hat again felt kind of lame. To be honest, he had completely forgotten about the thing.
"Yeah," Giselle drawled slowly, as if speaking to a slow child. "Misty told me over phone how she's been travelling with a boy that wore a hat and had a Pikachu on his shoulder, along with a-a—what was it that she said? Something along a middle-aged paedophile, I think." Giselle paused. "Either way, I suppose I owe you a cup of coffee just for doing that to Drew. Come along."
Just what the hell kind of shenanigans was Misty up to?
"I think you are mistaken." Ash tried his best to disprove the hypothesis around his person. "I'm Ash Ketchum, and she travelled with me from Cerulean to Cremini Town, from where she went ahead to get to this place, and I took a different path."
"Cremini Town? Isn't that the place with the Battle Tower?"
"I've heard that they are really tough, and Elite-level-"
"—Yeah, and pretty dangerous too-"
Ash ignored the ongoing commentary around him. He had started to walk ahead subconsciously, quickly falling in steps behind Giselle while some of the henchmen who had deserted their fallen leader had begun to accompany him. He was fairly thankful that the tiny, bespectacled nuisance wasn't one of them.
"Don't tell me that a pretty girl like you is also from the boonies." Trip muttered, glancing at Aoi.
"Oh no, I'm not from there. I never saw past that island where I lived." Aoi spoke up.
Ash suppressed an urge to smack his face. "What she means is, she's had a pretty restrained childhood, back at home."
"Is that so?" Giselle asked, her eyes shining with curiosity. She wasn't sure but there was something about this girl that Ash was very much intent on hiding. And she wanted to know what it was.
It was just a hobby. Some people collect tickets. Others collect coins. Giselle collected secrets. And even more so, when something interesting just walked into her den. Whatever this Aoi was, Giselle felt remarkably sure that she was certainly not… natural. Her skills at psychometry were remarkable, albeit limited, and she was certainly interested in understanding what this thing in front of her truly was.
"Where are you from, if you don't mind me asking, that is?" Ash spoke up, shaking Giselle out of her personal reveries.
"Me?" She beamed. "I'm from Cinnabar Island. I just completed my final year discoursing pokémon breeding and inheritance here at the Academy."
"So, you're not a trainer?" Ash asked. By the way the others seemed to tread carefully around her, he had assumed that she was at least someone on par with, if not better than the green-haired nuisance.
"Oh no, I can hold my own in a fight, but I'm no battler." Giselle admitted with a slight colouring of her cheeks. "I want to start with being an assistant to my grandfather and aid in his research, once the convocation is over."
Giselle gave him a surprised look. "Didn't Misty tell you anything? She just rushed in the day before the exams started, and left in a hurry as soon as they ended. She didn't even wait for the Convocation ceremony due in a few weeks."
"Giselle's going to be the valedictorian at the event." One of the other boys commented, making said girl blush again.
The list keeps on building. Ash convinced himself that he had just not thought of that. Instead, he opened his mouth. "Did Misty tell you why she was in a hurry?"
Giselle shrugged. "No idea. She's especially elusive about that. Says something about proving something to someone. I assumed it is about her sisters again."
"Oh." Ash murmured, remembering Misty's expression the day she had decided to leave Ash at Cremini Town and continue her journey by self.
"So, you are from?" The dirty-blonde-haired boy asked.
"The boonies?" Said individual expressed with something akin to dislike.
"Excuse me?" Ash narrowed his eyes. He loved Pallet Town and everything about it. He would just not stand at some-
"Stop messing with him, Trip." Giselle admonished, before turning to her newest acquaintance. "Ignore Trip. He has an issue with Kanto's… well, more rural outlook. Something about getting lost in a forest and falling on his head when he was small, I think."
"I did not!" Trip retorted hotly. Everyone ignored him.
"So, Ash was it?" One of the other boys asked him. "You are a wandering trainer like the others?"
Unsure if he liked the description, Ash nodded his head a little. "You can say that, though, I think you are missing out on the adventure."
"Hah!" Trip scowled. "As if anything in the boonies could even afford to be called an adventure—Ouch!" He began rubbing his head with his left hand, "What was that?"
"What was what?" Giselle asked.
"It felt like someone just thrashed me in the head."
Ash did his best not to look at Aoi, who by herself, was trying her best not to look conspicuous. If Giselle suspected anything, her face certainly did not betray her innermost thoughts.
"You are trying for the Indigo Conference, I take it. Judging from that, you must be coming from the Saffron and heading for Celadon, right?" Giselle hypothesized.
"Pretty much." Ash admitted. "I kind of lost track of time for some circumstances, and am a little late with gathering the badges."
"Eh? A newbie?" Trip commented. "How did you manage to overpower Drew then?"
"Because I went easy on him and he took undue advantage of that." An agitated voice growled behind his back, enough for Ash to feel that he was not going to like whatever was about to come next.
Ash turned to face a certain angry green-haired boy, fully drenched and agitated, his right fist holding a pokeball in his hand, as he shoved the pokeball right ahead at his face, missing Ash by a couple of inches.
"Listen you brat," Drew snarled, "I hereby challenge you for an official three-on-three battle, over the ownership of that blasted Poliwrath!"
There are moments in life when one feels that all one needs is to take a step back, and then slap the hell out of a moron, if only to hope for said person to be less of a nuisance in one's life. For Giselle, this was exactly the same sort of moment. Between herself and Drew, she had wasted a lot of time, effort and feelings, in her blindness, seeing him for something that he wasn't. The bastard had been her boyfriend for the last two years, and it had only been months that she had come to her senses and broken up with him. From then on, the green-haired boy had been a right prat, boasting his proficiency at battle (something she would have to grudgingly respect) and his family's connections, despite the fact that the Academy catered to the whims of the ultra-rich. Sadly, it seemed nobody had bothered to explain the last bit to Drew.
And thus, everything was what it was.
"In case you did not understand, Drew," Giselle spoke slowly, as if speaking to a dull, very dull child. "I just asked out Mr. Ketchum here for a cup of coffee. Surely you and your stupid shenanigans can wait while I am done discussing, or have you forgotten even that part of civilized human behaviour?"
Drew looked like he had been slapped. "How—what do you mean asked him out on-?"
"I meant what I said." Giselle snapped. "Someone had to snap you out of your narcissistic little dream world, and land you down to earth. It is unfortunate that this someone had to be a stranger and not a student of the Academy."
"But Giselle-" Max spoke up, only to be silence immediately by a livid glare.
"Already, I have had enough of you sullying the name of our prestigious institution by openly challenging someone without prior discussion on it, in public, only to lose horrendously to his pokémon. Then you behaved like an arrogant ass and demanded the victor's pokémon like the whole world runs on your family's fortune."
"But it-" Max tried.
"The adults are talking." Aoi put in, shutting Max up for good. Or maybe because no one had ever been that blunt with the hyperactive boy.
Drew narrowed his eyes. "Is this some way of trying to make me feel bad for-"
Giselle raised her hands in frustration, as was vivid from her clenching her fists tight. Ash wondered if her palms were going to bleed. "You know what—just go to hell. Ketchum and I-"
"All right," Drew waved off, trying to appear cool about it. "You go have your little coffee date if that is what helps you sleep at night. I'll just wait for—Ketchum, was it?" He glanced at Ash with a condescending expression. "Don't forget. A three on three battle, and if I win, that blasted tadpole is mine."
"—Did you just refuse him like that?" Trip asked, after ten seconds of confusion. Normally, a challenge from Drew was either met with a brave face, or by a denial. It was the first time someone had the audacity to-
"Yes." Ash replied easily. "It is not a proper bargain."
"He's right." Giselle spoke up, slightly taken aback by his sudden denial. "You have not put anything on your side of the bet."
"What do you mean?"
How dense is this guy? Aoi mused.
"I don't care about any bet." Ash remarked coldly. "My pokémon are my friends, not my property. I do not sell my friends."
"Not even for two thousand pokedollars?" Drew waved the notes right in front of him, dangling them in front of Ash's eyes.
This guy doesn't really seem to get it, does he? Ash mused. "If you really want a battle, I will give you one. Trying to get me to sell my pokémon is worthless."
"—which is just another way of excusing yourself out of it." Drew mocked. "I want that Poliwrath, and I will bloody well, have it. Either you accept my challenge, or accept your defeat."
"Ketchum, I mean, Ash," Giselle interrupted before he could retort back, "—if you do not mind, could you please accept his challenge? I believe you can defeat him again?"
Aoi lifted an eyebrow at the turn of events.
"However, Drew here will put my gift on the line, unless you are afraid to do so too, are you Drew?"
"Huh? What are you talking about-? -of course, I have no problem. It will stay with me anyway."
Ash turned to the black-haired girl for an explanation. Whatever this gift was, it was something of meaningful significance to either of them. Not for the first time, he wondered if arriving inside this madhouse they called an institution was a good idea in the first place. He glanced at Aoi, who was certainly not giving him a look that said—See? This is why coming to meet Misty was a bad idea.
You have that look on your face. Ash thought out loud.
Aoi gracefully raised an eyebrow. What look?
The one that says that something crazy is going to happen around me and you are not going to do anything to stop it.
You are seeing things. Aoi smiled with a straight face. Illusion or not, the Ninetales managed to bring out the best and worst aspects of human expressions.
Ash let out a sigh, before turning to Drew. "Fine. I accept. A three on three battle, no substitutions allowed. Does that sound good to you?"
"Whatever helps you sleep at night." Drew chortled. "Let us allow Giselle to have her fancy cup of coffee with her friend, and then, we will have the match in the inner compound. Wouldn't want the others to miss such entertainment, would we?"
Giselle opened her mouth, before shutting it back, only to glance back at Ash, and then even more surprisingly, Aoi, before settling on an easy expression at Drew. "Fine. We will have your entertainment." She cast a firm gaze at Trip. "Get the Main Stadium free, and call in the rest of the students. We will see just how great Drew is."
He put down the cup of coffee. "Is this the time when you explained how I got dragged into this bullshit?"
Sometimes, it was just easier to get to business. Plain and simple. He had come in to meet Misty, and Misty wasn't here. The green-head and his henchmen could get blown off to kingdom-come with just one flamethrower from Salamence, and Salamence would do it gladly. But no, instead, here he was, sipping on some really nice coffee, while chitchatting with this girl he had never really met before in his life, and yet, had agreed to a face-off with that douche in front of the entire school.
How did a random school-visit turn into something this crazy? Ash glanced at Aoi, whose expression seemed to say—I don't want to say I told you so but, I told you so.
"You know, you can just say it out loud." He muttered, not minding Giselle's presence in their midst.
"I have no idea what you are talking about." Aoi smiled back, and there that serene expression was back in her face.
Aoi would make a good politician, Ash was learning.
Giselle cleared her throat. "This…Bullshit, is me taking advantage of your presence to get something done, something that I haven't managed to accomplish over the last couple of months."
"All you had to do was to shake hands with a Poliwrath." Ash replied dryly.
Giselle chuckled. "Don't worry. As much as I'm thankful for it, I am safely assuming that you can send him flying."
"And your assumptions are based on?" Aoi asked. "You have barely seen him battle."
On the data from psychometric analysis that told me that he can kick Drew's ass. The same data that told me that you are everything but human, and can kill all of us without blinking an eye. Giselle smiled and opened her mouth to answer. "Intuition, I suppose?"
The sudden flicker of crimson in Aoi's pupils was probably due to the standard lighting appliance in the room.
"Seriously, it is like the universe finds her amusement by putting me into these situations." Ash muttered, as he took another sip.
"All you had to do was befriend a certain redhead out of nowhere." Giselle joked.
Ash levelled a single stare at her, that told her all he thought about her contribution to the discussion.
Giselle sucked her breath in, before abruptly speaking out. "About this gift, you see, Drew and I… were a couple for quite some time, before I realized what a dick he had truly was. My grandfather, well he is a famous researcher and credited with the resurrection of a certain prehistoric pokémon."
That perked Aoi's interest. "Prehistoric?"
"Pokémon that succumbed to disasters thousands of years ago and were fossilized. At present, my grandfather is perhaps the only one in the world who has successfully resurrected a fossilized pokémon from its DNA without League funding."
"I thought all prehistoric research were officially patented with Devon Corp for the next hundred years or so." Ash muttered offhandedly.
Oh, I wonder who told you that. "I'm surprised. I didn't realize you were the scholastic type to check out into these stuffs. Most people don't even know about prehistoric pokémon, forget the patents with Devon Corp."
Ash had an annoying smile on his face. Impulsive or not, he did know that the best solution to certain situations was to keep one's mouth shut.
"What kind of prehistoric pokémon is this?" Aoi asked bluntly.
"A fire/bug type. It's called Larvesta." Giselle answered. "The only one of its classification in the world, and no, it is not officially recorded in the League Database."
Without further ado, Ash checked his Pokedex, which only confirmed her point. There was no information about a pokémon species that had a dual typing of Fire and Bug.
"Is that a Pokedex?" Giselle perked up. "Wow, I didn't think those things were up for sale."
"They aren't." Ash replied offhandedly. "Professor Oak gave it to me."
"You know Professor Oak?" Giselle inquired. "Oh right, Pallet Town. I was wondering why the name sounded familiar. Samuel Oak is your sponsor, right?"
"Damn!" The black-haired girl muttered. "Some people have all the luck."
Ash and Aoi rolled their eyes.
"Back to the matter at hand-" Aoi stressed.
"Yes, yes." Giselle replied with a tinge of annoyance. "Grandpa gave me one of the limited specimens he has reared in his lab. He told me to help it grow up, and that it would be good practice for a breeder to rear a pokémon with no prior information to rely on."
"I… see." He didn't.
"And then, I got all lovey-dovey and decided to gift it to that jerk." Giselle complained. "He has had it with him ever since."
"Why don't you—you know, just ask him to give it back?"
Giselle looked sheepish. "Out of fear that my grandpa would snatch it away from him when he found out, I might have made an official transaction, selling it to him in exchange for a single pokedollar. It got him all rights to have Larvesta as his own."
"So, what's the issue?" Ash asked, raising an eyebrow. "You want it back because you aren't together?"
"The issue is that Larvesta is an infant, a baby." Giselle retorted passionately. "Even I can see that the little thing needs proper care, and not kept stuffed away inside a pokeball for eternity till it grows up. Drew decided that he could not use it for battles and couldn't afford the time to care for it and help it grow."
"I do not understand." Ash retorted. "If you cannot care for a pokémon, I see no problem in giving it to someone who can."
"What she means to say is," Aoi interjected. "Giving it away would give the impression that he is unable to take care of it."
"Right. Ego." Ash muttered, before calmly placing the cup of coffee on the desk and standing up.
"What—what happened?" Giselle asked, wondering if she had pushed things a little too far.
"Well," Ash shrugged. "The moron over there has challenged me for a match, so I seem to have my job cut out for me." He paused for giving a levelled stare at her. "Ensure this doesn't happen again with Larvesta. I have… issues, with people mistreating pokémon."
Ash had to admit. The battle arena inside the compound was amazing. Come to think of it, it was even better and grander than the Cerulean and Pewter gyms. There were two podiums extended outward from the entrances on either side, with a large bowl-like battlefield around ten feet or so below us, extending out over an area of three thousand square feet. The arena was covered with a rock terrain, with sand and dust all over the place. This was the kind of battle arena over which League conferences should be fought over, and instead, it was used for private skirmishes between students, provided by an over-indulgent institution that catered to the needs of the ultra-rich.
"This will be a three on three battle between Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town, who has unwittingly challenged our favourite, Drew." Trip gloated into the megaphone, as he stood in the referee position. Sitting in the gallery, were hundreds of people—students, and even some teachers, waiting for the match in high-spirits. Come to think of it, Drew and Giselle must have had a lot of say in the events and activities of the school. That, or there was something Ash was missing.
Technically, he was the one to challenge me, not the reverse. Ash didn't say.
"Drew will be choosing the first pokémon. No Substitutions. The battle will cease when either of them have lost all three pokémon. Let the battle… begin!"
Drew raised his pokeball into the air in a grand show. "I'll show you what it means to have really powerful pokémon. Go win," he threw the pokeball—ultraball, Ash corrected himself— "Flygon!"
From the looks of it, the thing looked like an overgrown, green dragonfly of some sort, but Ash knew better. It seemed that the nights he spent reading about pokémon from the Pokedex hadn't been in vain. Of course, he could hardly claim that he could recognize all of them from sight—that was a boast not even someone like Cynthia would make. However, this particular species was something he was erudite in.
A ground/dragon type, eh? He mused. Regardless of the seemingly harmless appearance, Flygon were rather powerful, with an immense variety of skills that only augmented their Dragon attribute. Using a terrestrial pokémon would only put him at a massive disadvantage, and hence, Magnus was out. However, he had just the pokémon that could be used against this particular opponent.
"Are you ready to accept defeat already?" Drew drawled, misreading Ash's silent observation as indecision. "I would understand. After all, dragon-types do not accept amateurs as their trainer."
"You are right." Ash replied calmly.
"Hah!" the green-haired one was ecstatic. "So, you accept your defeat already?"
"No. That was not what I meant." Ash corrected him. He lifted out a pokeball from his belt, and raised it high, before hitting the release button. "Show him your power, Salamence."
The red light condensed into the large, bluish dragon with bright, red wings, who proceeded to let out an earth-shattering roar. Beating his wings powerfully, Salamence soared up into the air in a somersault, before levelling a glare at the Flygon, who it assumed was its opponent. The fact that he was facing another dragon head-on only made him more excited about the oncoming fight.
The crowd fell silent.
Aoi smirked at the gaping expression on Giselle's face. Whatever the girl's abilities might have been, she had certainly not seen that one coming. After all, a Salamence was regarded as one of the most dangerous pokémon out there in the wild. Even facing an angry Charizard was a better option than to encounter a wild Salamence.
"You have a dragon-type too?" Trip asked with a slightly envious tone.
Ash smirked. "Salamence, let's start with a flamethrower."
"Defend with sandstorm, and use dragon rush to attack." Drew retorted.
Ash had to admit. It was a good strategy. The revolving barrier of sand around Flygon was an effective barrier for most long-ranged attacks. The use of Dragon Rush only combined it to create a formidable attacking move, fused with an excellent defense. Perhaps, the general confidence everyone had about Drew's abilities weren't all that over bloated after all.
Fortunately, he had just the move to send a reply back. It was something he had been teaching the newly evolved dragon while waiting for a confirmation for a gym battle in Saffron.
Salamence let out a loud roar, as draconic energy began to swirl all around him. In a couple of seconds, the swirling vortex had sucked in air and sand to create a vicious sandstorm, only one that was propelled by draconic energy in its very core. Dragons, Ash had learnt from Cynthia, had a common characteristic that they shared with the Ghost-type. Both were vulnerable to attacks of their own type, and both, were empowered by energies of their own type.
Case in point. The draconic energy swirling up in the form of the twister-sandstorm combination, was Salamence's own, and thus, was temporarily increasing Salamence's own power, just like using Ominous Wind increased Gengar's own powers. On the contrary, Flygon was going to be very much vulnerable since the draconic energies headed for it were foreign, and thus, extremely dangerous to its health.
The two swirling sandstorms, with the two dragons in its center, collided into each other, the mutually-antagonistic air patterns blasting out in a tremendous explosion, as something akin to a green blur shot off from the air, and slammed down into the dust beneath. When the dust cleared, Salamence was still in the air, beating his wings powerfully, while Flygon was down on the ground, bruised all over and doing its level best to get up.
The crowd had gone completely silent, and frankly, Ash preferred it that way. He wasn't all that acclimatized to battling amidst cheering crowds. Gary could have that for he cared.
"Flygon," Drew spoke, managing to get off his temporary state of shock. "Use rest."
Ash smiled. It was certainly not something that made shivers run through the green-haired boy's midrib. "Use Draco Meteor."
It was only too easy. Why? Because the temporary rise of draconic energy through the twister could be instantly channelled through this technique. This particular attribute of dragons was what made them very close to a perpetual motion machine under certain circumstances. It was also why Cynthia had made it a point for Garchomp to achieve complete mastery of Draco Meteor.
Salamence lifted his long neck upward, gathering the still swirling draconic energy and condensing into a bright orange sphere, before sending it up into the air. It rose several feet upward, before exploding out with bright yellow light.
The Draco meteor fell.
Where there was initially a Flygon trying to restore its power temporarily, now was a completely incapacitated creature, buried amidst the same sands it held an apparent mastery of. Or at least, it would have had, if not for less-than-adequate training.
"You are right." Ash spoke at last. "Dragon types do not accept amateurs."
Aoi could not help but softly smile at her master's expertise and confidence. The aura he was oozing, the level-headedness he was displaying, and the iron-clad control he was demonstrating over the flow of battle—all of them just made her remember why exactly she chosen to give him her allegiance back on the island. By the looks of things, she wasn't going to be disappointed. Her master was the right person she had been awaiting all this time, and regardless of how many moons it might need, Ash Ketchum would become the one that would set everything alright.
I just have to wait until he has chosen. Until then, he will need to be protected.
She knew her master. Unlike any other battle she had witnessed him participating so far, this one was completely different. She knew the way her master's mind worked. This wasn't a battle that decided winners out of opponents. This was a show. Drew had already lost. It was simply a matter how badly he would lose.
"Salamence," she heard her master speak, raising his pokeball. "You did well. Now get some rest."
The bluish dragon did not seem to agree with his decision, but nevertheless, agreed to it. Letting out a moan, the dragon allowed the beam of red light to hit him, before dissolving into a mesh of light that was soon sucked into the pokeball in her master's hand.
"First point goes to Ash Ketchum." The annoying referee declared, with a tone that suggested that he would like nothing better than to choke her master on his blood. As if… She mentally sneered.
"You were just lucky, Ketchum." Drew answered. "Let's see if your luck holds on for a second time, eh?" He lifted another one of those special pokeballs and threw it into the air. "Go, Bastiodon."
The pokémon that materialized midway in the air, before slamming into the rocky terrain looked like a dinosaur, more specifically, the triceratops variety. For a moment, Ash wondered if this was another prehistoric pokémon Drew had gotten his hands onto, and if not, then how the hell did he acquire such rare pokémon. By its very appearance, he could infer that the creature had both steel as well as rock attributes—a rather powerful defensive combination. Considering that most rock types were able to exercise ground-type moves, he mused that this creature's move sets were very much like Rhydon. That said, while using Rhydon was an excellent choice for this battle, he wanted to try something else.
"I choose you," He pressed the release button of the ball in his hand. "Lairon."
"And Ash Ketchum has chosen Lairon as his second battler, a steel/rock type, just as Drew's Bastiodon. Am I the only one sensing a pattern here?" Trip blared into the megaphone. Apparently, the job of refereeing was not enough for him to ignore his self-imposed duties of running commentary over the ongoing showdown.
"So, you now have the audacity to mock me by choosing the same types? What? Afraid Type advantages are going to screw you over?" Drew mocked.
He does talk a lot. Ash mused to himself. Note to self, too much talking during a battle lowers your position in the opponent's eyes. Never do it.
The iron-armour pokémon was only too happy to comply to his command. Ash could admit, he hadn't really taken that much of an active stance in training Lairon. He had the excuse of being through a rocking journey after starting out from Pallet Town the second time, and then staying at the Ainsworth Mansion for that long, but it made it no less true that he had been very lax when it came to Lairon. Was it because he hadn't caught Lairon like the others and traded him instead? Was that why he had subconsciously forsaken the iron armour pokémon's training and dropped it on Rhydon instead?
Either way, he would have to ensure that he took an active approach to training him from now on. Perhaps he could arrange a shift from his existing team, and train the lesser-trained members, like Lairon, Trevenant and Gyarados instead.
"Use Ancient power and go with Bulldoze."
Ash frowned. Ancient Power increased all of the user's stats, and attacked with a rare, alien force. Combining that with a ground-type attack like Bulldoze would only produce devastating results.
"Lairon, run away towards the rocks."
He ignored the laughter stemming from the audience around him. They didn't know better.
As expected, Bastiodon came charging into Lairon, empowered with Ancient Power, as it used his momentum to get close enough to slam into the now departing Lairon, who was heading towards the rocks a little ahead. The moment Lairon was close enough to his destination, Ash ordered his next command.
"Use Rock Slide and shift to the left."
Rock Slide. A pretty interesting move in the right hand. Because of their sturdy and heavy body mass, Rock-types like Rhydon and Lairon were sedentary targets most of the time. The perfected use of Rock Slide did not grant them speed, but it did grant an ability to suddenly sprint off to a short distance for a very small time. And that, was what Ash needed.
Lairon pushed the ground beneath his hind limbs, and sprinted off to the left, only to cease motion, as he watched the charging Bastiodon race past him. With Ancient power added to Bulldoze, it would be near-impossible for Bastiodon to stop itself—without of course, slamming his forelimbs into the earth, which would, in that case, fracture its frontal limbs and cripple it for good.
Bastiodon crashed into the large mass of rocks, blowing rock fragments everywhere, as it tried to pull itself out of the sprawling mess. As powerful as its horns where, its body structure did not allow it quick escape from the pit it had unwittingly dug itself into.
"Bastiodon, get out of it." Drew yelled.
Ash smiled. "Now use Rock Tomb."
Lairon raised both frontal limbs up into the air, before slamming down to the ground. As expected, the seismic waves from the attack caused rocks and boulders to rise up from the ground, all around the now severely trapped Bastiodon, who was trying to break his large face out of it.
Ash casually noticed that both Bastiodon and its trainer were in a similar setting, in their own ways.
Lairon smashed his feet again, generating powerful seismic waves that traversed to the vicinity, causing instability to the pit that Bastiodon was now on. The earth below the creature gave away, the immense weight of the large rock/steel-type not at all helping matters. With a large crash, the floor gave away, making Bastiodon fall into a deeper pit, with its large head fixated down to the ground. The rock boulders from the Rock Tomb attack too broke and fell down on its top.
Bastiodon was for all intents and purposes, buried into the ground, with his head down into the earth, his body trapped amidst fallen rock, boulders and debris. It made a cruel irony for a rock type.
Ten seconds passed by, and yet, the only things Bastiodon could do, despite its trainer's protests and commands, was to grunt in vain.
"I suggest you return Bastiodon back, so that we can move ahead with the battle." Ash replied sharply. Not sure how to refute that statement, Drew returned Bastiodon back to its pokeball.
"Second point too, goes to Ash Ketchum." Trip commented sadly.
Giselle sat on her place in the gallery, a little away from where Ash was standing, with a transfixed expression on her face. Sure, she had expected Ash to win against Drew—her own abilities gave her the impression that her acquaintance was someone of the level of an intermediate trainer. The fact that his Poliwrath had managed to defeat Scyther so effortlessly had only confirmed her guess. Even so, she had had a slight suspicion that her casual ploy might have Ash lose his Poliwrath to Drew. Then again, she didn't know him well, and as such, would not feel too bad should that come to happen.
This however, was not something she had seen coming. The Salamence was a sure surprise, and even more so, was Ash's ironclad control over the entire battle. She knew for a fact that Flygon was one of Drew's most powerful, if not the most powerful. The use of the earth terrain virtually made Flygon an invincible juggernaut on the battle platform. The intent was clear—use his strongest, in an environment that empowered his strongest, and acquire a decisive victory.
After all was said and done, battles were a show. A show of power. And Drew knew how to milk it for what it was worth.
Giselle reverted her glance back to Ash. It seems like her acquaintance too knew the rules of the game, and how to alter it to suit one's own desires. He had summoned a dragon, and a more powerful one at that, and defeated Flygon with just two attacks. In less than two minutes, Ash Ketchum had changed his status from being the scapegoat challenger to the most interesting person in the room.
His use of Lairon seemed very well decided too. Giselle was no expert, but even she knew that Bastiodon wouldn't stand a chance against someone with Salamence's raw power and potential. And yet, Ash had chosen an opponent that provided an even ground, and even in that, decimated and importantly, humiliated Drew and his battler. It seemed like her acquaintance, regardless of his textbook hero-complex, had a mean streak a mile wide.
Giselle smiled widely. Now this was a person worth her interest.
"Do you mind if I choose first this time?" Ash asked, his voice calm and yet, oozing confidence. "You have chosen twice already, so I must return the favour."
Trip made a passing glance at Drew as if to judge his own thoughts regarding it, before nodding silently. "Ash Ketchum will choose his pokémon first this time."
"Thanks, I won't disappoint." Ash grinned, releasing the pokeball in his hand. "Time to deliver a show, Gyarados."
And the world stopped making sense.
"A… Gyarados?" Trip muttered. "Now I know why this crazy guy is friends with Misty. Both are the same kind of weird."
"You have a Gyarados too?" Drew spoke, his bark having lost a lot of its bite after two repeated humiliating defeats. "I suppose I will just go with my best shot. I choose you, Swampert."
Now this was a pokémon Ash both realized and respected. Swampert. The mudfish pokémon, and the final evolution of the Hoenn native Mudkip. It had a dual typing of Ground and Water, making it an excellent battler against several types. To see it battling Gyarados would be a good opportunity. Truth to be told, he had himself played with the idea of trying to catch a Mudkip while in Hoenn.
The blue and pale-yellowing draconic serpent towered before Ash, its maw open and its eyes demonstrating all the reasons one needed to fear this voracious, destructive sea-monster, and why it was held accountable for most of the lives lost in the seas. Gyarados slammed his tail down into the sandy bed, letting out an outraged war cry.
"Swampert, use Ancient power and follow with rock throw." Drew cried out, eager to finish the battle. "We will bury this snake into the earth."
"Dragon tail." Ash returned, as said snake lifted his humongous tail, which was glowing with concentrated draconic energy, using it as a whip to deflect and parry away the incoming rock projectiles.
"Use hyper beam." Drew commanded.
"Water pulse." Ash reverted.
The sphere of condensed water slammed into the emerging hyper beam, creating an explosion midway.
"Now use dragon tail on Swampert."
"Use crunch." Drew answered.
It was surreal. Swampert had leapt towards Gyarados, its claws glowing with dark energy, narrowly missing the dragon tail which razed the ground it had just stood upon. With excellent timing, it slashed into Gyarados's thick hide, and had it been any other pokémon, it would have been severely impaired.
"Use focus blast." Drew went ahead, as Swampert packed a powerful punch into the bruised area, sending Gyarados sprawling into the ground. He let out a wild grin, at being able to gain an edge after the previous battles."
"Are you okay, Gyarados?" Ash asked, only to realize its uselessness. Gyarados was already up, the latent draconic genes inside the creature making it rise up, now more fearsome after suffering injury.
"We will have our revenge." Ash spoke to the serpent. "Use ice beam on the floor."
Gyarados let out a primal roar, before showering a powerful burst of ice-cold light onto the sandy floor, enveloping the entire area with flakes of ice and snow.
"Your turn." Ash taunted Drew.
"Hah, overconfident, are we?" Drew retorted. "Get closer, and use crunch."
Swampert leapt off from its position, claws brimming with dark energies, as it shot towards the serpent, ready for a second strike. The only problem was, the icing on the ground was a big resistance to its agility.
"Use dragon breath." Ash commanded, as Gyarados lifted his maw upwards, before showering hot, draconic breath upon an unsuspecting Swampert, who was trying to commandeer its way through the flakes of snow.
And everyone closed their eyes, as the scorching breath hit Swampert head-on, scalding it brutally.
"Finish with dragon tail."
Gyarados let out another roar, swinging his tail, now laden with draconic energy once again, into the still somewhat recuperating Swampert, bodily lifting it up and sending it flying past the boundary line of the arena.
Silence engulfed the entire gallery for a few precious seconds.
"Swampert is unable to battle." Trip spoke with a tone of resignation. "Third point too, goes to Ash Ketchum. Ash Ketchum is the winner."
"I certainly did not expect that coming." Giselle admitted, as she stared at Ash without any reservation.
"And here I thought that you expected me to win." Ash teased.
"I didn't know you were this suave with the ladies." Aoi snickered from behind, making her trainer rub the back of his hairs in embarrassment.
Wanting to change the topic, he held out his right hand, revealing the tiny pokeball inside it. Without further ado, he extended it out at her. "I believe this is yours."
Giselle arched an eyebrow. Ash Ketchum seemed intent on surpassing her expectations. "You do not even know what it is you are giving to me. The only fire/bug type in the world."
"Don't care." Ash replied with all the nonchalance in the world. "It is not mine. Should you choose to show it to me, I will be pleased to meet it. That's all."
"Hmmm." Giselle closed her eyes for two seconds. "I was right."
She opened her eyes. It must have been a trick of the light, because her eyes were definitely not sparkling. She put her palm onto the pokeball in his hand, and pushed it back towards him. "I want you to keep it."
"…what?" She asked at his perplexed expression.
"Why are you giving this pokémon to me?" Ash expressed the confusion in his mind. "Your grandfather entrusted it to you, and you have finally gotten it back."
"Which is why I want you to keep it." Giselle replied, her voice assuring. "I think we can safely assume that you have experience in training and rearing powerful pokémon, if the battle was of any indication. Between the two of us, I'd like to think that this little buddy could use a proper trainer and grow up to be a powerful one. That is more than what I can do for it anyway."
"But aren't you studying to be a breeder? What do I know about pokémon breeding?"
Giselle almost frowned. "That may be, but I am going back to my home shortly. In either way, if you want any input on breeding it, I suggest you meet my grandfather in person." She enclosed the pokeball into his palm, pushing it towards him. "Please accept it as my way of expressing gratitude."
"Huh… fine, I guess." Ash shrugged, wondering how he managed to get into such bizarre situations. "Who's your grandpa? I have some time before I need to visit Celadon city, so I might as well take the opportunity and visit him."
Giselle beamed. "His name is Blaine. Ex-Elite Four and Fire Master. He is also the gym leader of Cinnabar Island. You might have heard of him?"
"…. Blaine? Like… The Blaine? The one who is regarded as the world's foremost authority on Magmar and creatures that reside in the volcano?"
"Yep. The very same."
"Blaine, is your grandfather?" Ash nearly choked. "You are Blaine's granddaughter?"
Hyper salivation is regarded as a symptom of insanity. Aoi helpfully supplied.
Giselle laughed. "Yes of course. I told you, I'm from Cinnabar island. Tell me, do you already have the Cinnabar gym badge?"
"Um, no." Ash admitted, slightly flustered for some unknown reason. "But if I am heading to Cinnabar, I might as well try my hand at it."
"In that case, you should approach the volcano. The mountain can only be traversed through climbing and walking. My grandfather is especially strict about keeping flying-types away from the peak." Giselle explained. "Call it one of his quirks."
"I'll… take that in mind." Ash answered. Pidgeot was easily out of the question, and he would have to walk his way through the forest. Perhaps Magnus and Trevenant could help him out this time? He would have to think on it.
"You said you have some time before you need to be at Celadon city. If you agree, we can travel to Cinnabar together. The convocation ceremony is in three weeks. We can travel to Celadon and you can finish whatever work you have there, before leaving for Cinnabar."
"Uh… well, I actually have a month to get to Celadon. I think flying off to Cinnabar right now would be a better idea."
"Flying to Cinnabar on a Salamence from here?" Giselle looked like she was trying to taste the solution, only to find it distasteful. "Nah, you have guts. I'll give you that."
"Thanks." Flying on Salamence was not what he had planned, but there was no need to talk about that to the girl. "So… I'll see you around then? Maybe the next time I visit Cinnabar?"
"Is that a request for a date?" Giselle asked coyly, before chuckling at Ash's embarrassment. "I'm just teasing. Yeah, I'll see you later on. If not at Cinnabar, then probably at the Indigo Conference. It would provide me quality entertainment to see Drew suffer at your hands again at the conference."
"Eheheh!" Ash laughed embarrassedly. "I suppose. Very well, see you around."
"See you around." The black-haired girl wished back, nodding at Aoi with a smirk. "You too."
Aoi responded back with a certain crimson glow in her eyes, before departing with Ash.
"How interesting." Giselle muttered to herself. "I'll have to inform Grandfather about this latest stunt. I wonder what grandpa will think of him." She cast another glance at her new acquaintance's retreating form. "Yeah, I'll see you around, Ash."
AN: And that, ends the sub plot with the Pokémon Tech Academy. What do you think of Giselle? And what do you think about Ash's latest acquisition? Do let me know in a review.
Speaking of reviews, it seems I have attracted the attention of some FLAMER who has made it the objective of his/her life to spew bullshit on each and every chapter without any reason at all. For that, I have been forced to put GUEST reviews under MODERATION to prevent unnecessary 'shitting' on the reviews section. Seriously, if you have something constructive to say, go ahead. If you do not like it, there is no point in reading every chapter like a hypocrite and spewing mindless nonsense about it. This story is not a rehash of the anime, and I have made it a point to mention this, several times, that I am openly ignoring canon lore and canon rules. In return, I have made it a point to explain each and every thing that I alter and create from scratch. Seriously people, if you don't have anything worthwhile to do with your life than pissing people off for no reason, please find a different target for your frustrations. Leave fanfiction alone.
Well, I had to get that off my heart. That said, I am incredibly flattered at the attention and praise this story is getting, and I hope that I shall be able to provide quality work in the future as well. As for update schedules, I believe I am working on a 2 chapter per month schedule for now, though of course, I will try to increment that whenever possible.