"Squirtle Squad, just use Bubble if you can!" Ash shouted as the water-types began blasting into the forest.

The group from the village was no longer in chaos and instead had formed a circle in the middle of the camp. Aoba and Melaine sat in the center, quickly tending to pokémon that had been hit by Poison Sting attacks. Ash was on the inner edge of the circle of pokémon, moving around and giving orders.

"Butterfree," Ash said, turning to look at the fluttering bug-type. "Can you sense anything?"

I can sense a lot Ash, Butterfree replied, head down as he concentrated. But I can't make sense of it.

"Pidgeotto, can you see anything?" Ash asked, looking up where Pidgeotto was flying tight circles over the group.

No, she called back. My eyes aren't meant to work at night and those fires are making it worse.

Ash grimaced. He had managed to save everything from his tent except his sleeping bag and the tent itself. Melanie and Aoba had done the same with the gear in their tents. After they had regrouped, some of the squirtles had put out the blazes, while the others covered them, but the entire group's night vision was gone.

"Okay," Ash said, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. They needed a plan-

Get down! Pikachu barreled into the back of Ash's legs, knocking the human forward. Ash's eyes shot open and were met with brilliant orange light illuminating the ground before him. Falling forward, Ash felt a wave of heat wash over his back.

They're attacking! Pidgeotto shouted as more long-range attacks came in. More needles, lances of flame, a spinning bone club, and a pressurized stream of water shot into the camp, scattering and blasting pokémon.

On the heels of the attack came the enemy pokémon. Ash thought he saw the cubone, the machop, the nidorino, the zubats, and the slugma from the earlier attack, but this time they brought friends. Ash could see poochyena and its evolved form loping out of the trees followed by several other pokémon. And, as Ash scrambled back to his feet, he could also see human figures in the trees, hear them shouting orders, and could watch them direct their pokémon.

Fire-types let loose blasts of flame, drenching the camp in harsh orange light. Zubats unleashed Supersonic attacks filling the forest with an unbearable high-pitched ringing. Psychic energies covered objects and pokémon alike. And pokémon from Team Rocket slammed into the pokémon from the village.

Those pokémon scattered before the assault, fleeing or fighting alone, leaving Ash's pokémon, the Squirtle Squad, Bulbasaur, and Charmander to resist the onslaught.

"Stay- " Ash was almost able to shout a warning to stay together, but he saw a glint of silver out of the corner of his eye. He had spent enough time around Poison Lance to recognize a Poison Sting attack instantly. Ash dove back to the ground, back screaming a silent song of agony as he moved, and the attack sailed over him.

Die! Pikachu screamed. Yellow power flared and buzzed, a roiling torrent of electricity, flowing, rushing, blasting out of the yellow pokémon. Pikachu's attack lanced out into the forest, incinerating leaves and branches, spearing the ariados who had assaulted Ash. Electric power engulfed the bug-type and the blast hurled it into the trees.

But even as the ariados was taken out more pokémon from Team Rocket were on the move.

So many events happened at the same time that Ash couldn't even process what had happened until it was too late to do anything about it.

Pikachu let out a grunt of pain as he was tackled by the cubone, electricity flaring harmlessly into the ground type. The cubone ran through the clearing, Pikachu struggling in its grasp, carrying the pokémon out into the forest, the slugma following.

Fire shone and Bulbasaur was forced to jump out of the way, only to be grabbed by vines reaching out of the forest. Bulbasaur struggled against them, his own vines reaching out to wrestle with the foreign vines and to anchor himself to the clearing. But the machop intercepted the anchoring vines and Bulbasaur was pulled into the forest. The fighting-type ran off after him.

Bulbasaur! Ash heard Oddish cry out before a stray Psybeam knocked her out.

Simultaneously, fire was also blazing in the air, forcing Butterfree to drop to avoid a stream of small fireballs passing overhead. The action put him in range of the snapping jaws of the poochyena and mightyena. Butterfree fluttered away, trying to stay under the flames and away from the teeth, and let himself be driven out of the clearing.

At the same time, more vines whipped out of the forest, lashing out at the leader of the Squirtle Squad. Squirtle jumped backwards to avoid the green tendrils, but his leap carried him into the path of some zubats. They swooped down, grabbed Squirtle, and then carried him off in the direction of the vines, wings flapping furiously as Squirtle struggled against their hold.

Meanwhile, Charmander opened his mouth to unleash an Ember, but Poliwag ducked between the two weepinbells from the village and Headbutted Charmander. The water-type tackled the fire-type out of the clearing.

No! Ash cried out, picking himself up off the ground. He spun around in circles, trying to figure out what exactly had happened, trying to see where Melanie and Aoba where, trying to come up with a plan, any plan-

You're next! Ash heard a pokémon shout and then he saw a magby rushing at him, a blazing ball of flame forming in his mouth. Ash tried to dodge, but a flare of pain from his back left him paralyzed and the flames grew closer-

A miniature cyclone interposed itself between Ash and the flames. The magby's attack was sucked up into the Gust attack, forming a fiery tornado. Ash shielded his eyes from the new brilliant, shifting, orange light as fire crackled and wind howled.

With a shriek, Pidgeotto plunged out of the night sky, talons tearing at the magby's face as the blazing cyclone faded. The fire-type tried to defend, but Pidgeotto was too fast, too vicious. Her talons sought flesh and drew blood.

The fire-type stumbled back, blood dripping from its face, while Pidgeotto flapped her wings. Another Gust attack, larger than the first, knocked the magby off its feet and carried it away.

Ash, are you okay? Pidgeotto asked, looking over her extended wings.

Yeah, Ash answered as he slowly straightened out. His back was still screaming, but he could move again.

What's the plan? The flying-type asked.

Ash looked over the battle, forcing himself to think.

Team Rocket had managed to bulrush them, and separate most of their best fighters from the rest of the group. Now all that the village had left was Pidgeotto, a disorganized mess of pokémon, and the leaderless Squirtle Squad.

The Squirtle Squad was currently being harassed by what Ash assumed were hidden bellsprouts as well as zubats and a beedrill. A girafarig was charging about the battlefield, driving off the more skittish pokémon from the village and blasting Psybeams at the ones that tried to put up a fight. And Ash thought he saw a pokémon that might have been a ralts using its power on any pokémon that seemed to be making headway against the pokémon from Team Rocket.

Ash couldn't see Aoba or Melanie anywhere. He hoped they had managed to escape from the battle unharmed. But he didn't have time to search for them, not while the pokémon from the village and the Squirtle Squad needed his help.

Pidgeotto, Ash drew in a breath, closing his eyes. First, we're going to need to stop that girafarig and that ralts. You think you can use Sand-Tornado in a real battle?

Let's find out, Pidgeotto chirped.

Hit the ralts with it and then you're going to need to get that girafarig. I'll try to rally the pokémon while you're doing that. Ash's eyes opened; they were hard, steely, glinting with determination in the firelight. Let's do this!

Pikachu squirmed and kicked, managing to slip out of the cubone's grasp.

Immediately he had to dodge a blast of fire from the slugma behind the cubone, cutting it so close that individual hairs were singed. He landed on all fours, cheeks sparking, ready to electrocute the slugma, but the cubone was bearing down on him again.

Cubone struck downwards and Pikachu rolled to the side. The cubone's club slammed into the ground, blasting up a cloud of dust, which Pikachu dove into.

A stream of small fireballs shot through the dust cloud, forcing Pikachu to keep his head down. Pikachu began to growl. His ears twitched as he heard movement from where the cubone had been.

Pikachu darted forward and to the side. Just as he did so, the dust cloud was split in two by another mighty downward strike from the cubone, brown wisps curling up around the club and shooting skywards.

Pikachu continued dashing forward, and then spun around, ready to launch a Quick Attack at the cubone. Once again, the slugma hurled a blast of fire at him, forcing Pikachu to dart around the attack. By the time Pikachu was back on course the cubone was ready for him.

Pikachu growled and darted back away from the cubone's flurry of blows. Right into the path of yet another fire blast from the slugma!

Pikachu screamed in frustration, blasting straight through the Incinerate attack with a powerful Thunderbolt, the buzzing yellow spear dispersing the crackling ball of flame. Pikachu's attack continued towards the slugma, only to be intercepted by the cubone. The ground-type had interposed itself between Pikachu and the slugma, not even reacting as the electricity blasted into it.

Once again Pikachu growled, hackles raised, teeth bared in a challenge, sparks flying from his cheeks. Primal instincts thundered within him, the wild beat of the flight or fight instinct after choosing 'fight'.

And here, alone in the nighttime forest, facing down two foes, Pikachu felt wilder than he had in a long time.

But he was also a creature who had spent so much time among humans, with humans. And Pikachu was able to remember that his real goal wasn't to defeat the cubone and slugma, but to make his way back to Ash.

The electric type sprinted away from his foes, running full tilt for the clearing. Cubone saw this and hurled his club in an arc that cut in front of Pikachu before speeding back at the electric type's face. Pikachu hopped over the spinning projectile, feeling the wind from his passage ruffle the fur on his underside.

Pain blossomed all over Pikachu's back, dry heat washing all over him, the smell of smoke filling the air, and another burst of orange light illuminating the forest. Pikachu screamed as he was sent tumbling through the air. The slugma had hit him with a fire attack while Pikachu was dodging the cubone's club.

Pikachu tumbled to the ground, rolled a short distance, and then came to a halt. Wincing, the electric type managed to get back to his feet.

Cubone was already almost on him, club raised for a finishing blow. Pikachu rolled to the side, dodging yet another powerful blow. Orange light signaled another fire attack so Pikachu jumped straight up, narrowly dodging the slugma's attack.

Pikachu landed on a tree branch, chest expanding and contracting rapidly to fill Pikachu's body's demand for oxygen. Cubone stood at the base of the tree, club raised, ready to resume fighting. The slugma took up a position behind it.

Pikachu's eyes narrowed. He couldn't last in the situation he found himself in. He would need to escape or beat them soon. Ash probably needed him!

It was too bad that his enemies wouldn't make things easy…

Butterfree fluttered to the side as a pair of snapping jaws passed him by. He had been dragged into the forest by the pair of dark types, barely managing to wiggle free from their jaws without damaging his delicate wings. Now he was being hounded and harassed by the poocheyna and the mightyena.

"Biters!" A human voice called out from the trees, hidden by the shroud of night, "Shadow Ball! Bristles, follow that up!"

Butterfree didn't need Ash to tell him to dodge. The bug type fluttered upwards, hoping to escape from the battle all together, but that took him right into the path of the ghost type attack that was nearly invisible in the dark.

It knocked Butterfree out of the air, leaving an awful chill that wasn't quite physical to soak into the point of impact, and sent him right into the path of the poocheyna.

Dark energy surrounded the pokémon's fangs as it zeroed in on the spot where the Shadow Ball had struck Butterfree. Sharp teeth dug into Butterfree's back, the poocheyna using the move Assurance to deal extra damage to Butterfree.

Butterfree let out a shriek of pain as the poocheyna ravaged his back. On instinct his wings flapped backwards, blasting Sleep Powder all over the poocheyna. Like a limp, wet, noodle the dark-type pokémon slid off of Butterfree's back.

Butterfree struggled upwards, each flap of his wings bringing a burning pain in his muscles.

"Again!" the human trainer shouted. Buttefree fluttered to the side as the chilling ghostly energies brushed over his exoskeleton. A tingling numbness lingered in the spots the attack had touched.

Buttefree managed to flutter into a tree, alighting on a branch. Another Shadow Ball blasted towards him, shattering a large branch in front of Buttefree free. He squeaked in pain as he was pelted by splinters.

Wounded, Butterfree crawled further into the shelter of the tree while the hound bayed below.

Vines grappled in the darkness between the trees as Bulbasaur wrestled with a pair of bellsprouts. Like snakes seizing, vines shook, snapped, pulled and pushed. Bulbasaur dug in his feet and roared, pulling with all his might, trying to yank the opposing grass types out of the trees.

"Now Machop!" A female human voice cried out. There was the sound of running feet and Bulbasaur turned to it just in time to see a grey fist rocketing towards his face!

And then Bulbasaur saw stars and felt the wind beneath his feet.

He soared through the air like a pigeon that had been hit by a semitruck, and then snapped to a halt as the bellsprouts pulled him back. His vines stretched and then Bulbasaur was slung back the way he had come, right back into the waiting fists of the machop.

Ain't happening! Bulbasaur exclaimed. Razor-sharp leaves whizzed through the night and Machop was forced to cover his face, the deadly greenery slicing cuts on his cheeks, forearms, and hands.

Bulbasaur used the opportunity to grit his teeth, lower his head, and pull himself forward. He hurtled towards the machop and then bowled the fighting type over with a Tackle attack. Machop rolled back and then sprang to his to feet, little worse for the wear.

Of course, Bulbasaur groaned. Fighting types know how to take a hit.

"Now!" the female human voice sounded out again. The two bellsprouts pulled upward in unison, yanking Bulbasaur off of his feet and into the air. And then the bellsprouts yanked him towards them, over the machop's head.

Bulbasaur inhaled as much air as he could and then held his breath as he was pulled closer to the enemy grass types. He could guess where this was headed.

He felt a sprinkling of powdery substances play over his skin, either a Poison Powder, a Sleep Powder, a Stun Spore, or some combination. The grass type from the village kept his head down as he soared through the cloud of debilitating or deadly powder, trying not to get any of it in his nose, mouth, or eyes.

With a loud thud, Bulbasaur impacted into a tree, bulb-first and upside down. It nearly knocked the air out of him and Bulbasuar barely managed to stop himself from breathing. He felt himself get pulled against the tree, pinned by the vines of the bellsprouts.

That was fine with Bulbasaur.

Two leaves shot out from beneath his bulb, curling around the sides of the tree. There was the slick, juicy, sound of living greenery being cut, a loud twang, and then a cry of pain from one of the bellsprouts. One of the vines holding Bulbasaur went limp, allowing him to use the other one to haul himself to the side.

He was just in time too. Chips of bark exploded into the air as Machop came in with a flying Mega Kick. Bulbasaur managed to land and turn around in time to see the tree he had been involuntarily acquainted snap in half, the top part falling slowly, leaves rustling and branches snapping.

Bulbasaur took in the sight and then drew a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and narrowed his eyes.

He had a fight to win.

Once again, Squirtle found himself fending off whipping vines.

The leader of the Squirtle Squad had managed to squirm out of the hold of the two zubats that had carried him off. But before he could rush back to rejoin his squad, he had been assailed by Vine Whip attacks.

Squirtle thought that the hidden bellsprouts and their vines had been bad during the day. Compared to at night they had been downright pleasant. At least during the day, Squirtle could see the attacks coming.

He ducked and dodged, trying to keep his face and eyes safe from the terrible tendrils. He saw movement in front of him and threw up his foreleg to protect his face. The blow lashed open the skin on his forearm, blood dripping from the wound.

The water type forced himself to roll forward, withdrawing into his shell as he did so. Vines beat against his hard exterior, jostling him, and the chemicals secreted by the vines making his shell burn in pain.

But Squirtle was able to persevere through the pain, rolling so that his head was facing the opposite direction from where he had come. Squirtle unleashed a Water Gun attack, blasting himself into the air.

Leaves brushed over his shell and small branches broke before him; then there was nothing but the chill autumn night air as Squirtle broke through the tree canopies and into the open air beyond. For just a moment, a single moment, the water-type let himself relax, secure in the knowledge that he had managed to escape.

Only for a horrible ringing to echo through the night. The awful sound reverberated throughout his shell, upsetting his stomach, and scrambling his brain. Squirtle lost control of his trajectory. He spiraled through the air, unable to tell up from down, breaking through the canopy he had just escaped from, and crashed into the ground.

Squirtle slowly got out of his shell, pushing himself up with one foreleg, his other forepaw massaging his head. He still felt like the world was spinning, like there was a toxic fog in his head, like he would vomit.

He got to his feet, looking around the dark forest for his enemies. He didn't see them, but Squirtle could hear them.

More excruciating ringing sounds, Supersonic attacks, came from the darkness. It drove Squirtle to his forepaws and knees, unable to stand, unable to focus, unable to think, under the sonic barrage.

While he was incapacitated, the vines returned. They whipped sideways through the forest, catching Squirtle on the front of his shell. The impact sent him tumbling backwards, his journey throwing up dead leaves from the forest floor.

Squirtle tried to pick himself back up, only to be brought back down by yet another Supersonic attack. Vines whipped at him, driving him even further into the ground.

Squirtle couldn't do anything but withdraw into his shell as they beat on him.

Charmander let out a squeak of pain as the poliwag's charge slammed him into a tree. The pokémon from Team Rocket then stepped back, letting Charmander slide to the ground.

You know everyone else either has their trainer with them, or has a zubat relaying orders, the poliwag said conversationally, letting Charmander pick himself up. I'm not sure if my trainer just trusts me enough to handle you by myself or if they just think this job is beneath their attention.

Charmander got up, trembling the whole time. His eyes were wide. Fear sang its songs of flight and freezing throughout his body.

And yet, Charmander took a step forward and tried to hit Poliwag with a Scratch attack.

I guess it might be a little of both, the water-type said, avoiding the attack by leaning back. No offense to you, you're not exactly bad; after all I'm still supposed to capture you so that you can be given to one of our trainers. It's just that you're sort of weak.

Charmander flinched, the movements visible in the night thanks to the illumination from his tail. The poliwag took the opportunity to Headbutt Charmander back into the tree.

Well, you're young, so it's to be expected, Poliwag continued as Charmander fell back to the ground.

Charmander couldn't make himself breathe. Things weren't working right. His body was trembling. He hurt, front and back. Tears stained the corners of his eyes. His vision was going dark around the edges.

And yet, Charmander stood back up.

Poliwag knocked him back down.

Come on, just stay down, the water type said. The fight's over. By now I'm sure that the targets have been eliminated and the round-up has started.

Charmander thought of Melaine's gentle hands. Of Ash's kind words. Of the sensation of vines around his own throat during the last attack.

Charmander stood back up.

Poliwag knocked him back down.

Look, if you keep this up, you're really going to get hurt, Poliwag admonished the fire type at his feet. You're not strong enough to win.

Charmander remembered Damien screaming at him for being weak. He remembered the nights where he had cried about his weakness from the safety of his pokéball. He remembered the day that Damien had told him to wait by the side of the road.

Charmander stood back up.

Poliwag knocked him back down.

Don't make me use Water Gun, Poliwag warned. I could accidentally put out your tail flame and then you'd really be in danger.

Charmander's mind flashed back to the night that Damien had left; to the rain he couldn't escape, to the chill that pervaded his body, to the numb pain that had settled into his muscles and bones, and to how tempting the call of oblivion had been in that moment.

Charmander stood back up.

Poliwag knocked him back down.

This is your last warning, Poliwag's voice was grim and her eyes were drawn into a glare. If you get back up again, I'll make sure that it's the last time you do.

Charmander's thoughts flashed to Bulbasaur and Squirtle fighting together in the cave. To the moment before Ash and his friends had arrived, when they had been surrounded and outnumbered by their attackers, when Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and the Squirtle Squad had decided to go down fighting. He remembered the other attack when Ash had returned with a bloodied back, a painful sacrifice to protect squirtle.

Charmander stood back up.

He no longer trembled.

He hurt, but he paid it no mind.

Teardrops stained his cheeks, but his eyes were clear and steady.

If that's the way you want this to go down, fine! Poliwag growled before she drew herself back and fired off a pressurized blast of water.

Charmander slashed at it with his claws, trying to disrupt the stream, but it was too strong, and Charmander's arms were blasted into his chest, his own claws drawing pinpricks of blood from him. His heels dug away at the carpet of dead leaves covering the forest floor as he was pushed back, the chill of the water rapidly settling into his flesh. Once more Charmander was slammed into the tree, this time hard enough to shake the branches, causing dying leaves to shower down around him and Poliwag.

Poliwag's attack ceased, and Charmander felt himself tipping forward.

No! Charmander roared, planting one foot firmly forward. He wouldn't be knocked down again by this poliwag!

Take a hint and stay down! Poliwag screamed at him, rearing back to unleash another Water Gun attack, but Charmander was already acting.

Charmander took in a deep breath. He exhaled, letting some of it escape. He started producing his fire inside of himself. Finally, he took in another deep breath and charged towards Poliwag!

Poliwag spat forth another burst of water as Charmander used Fire Bloom. The lance of water met the bloom of flame in a hissing explosion of steam. Hot water engulfed him as Charmander continued his charge. His flames were dampened, but he didn't stop.

He exploded out of the steam cloud right in front of a shocked Poliwag, claws extended. Charmander began to scratch and slash, claw and cut, drawing bloody lines on the water type. Poliwag tried to jump back, only for Charmander to grab it, latching his claws into Poliwag's back.

My turn! Charmander growled, picking up the Poliwag and running. Poliwag squirmed and kicked, but had no leverage. It tried to blast the fire-type with another Water Gun attack, but had no angle.

This time it was Charmander slamming Poliwag into a tree hard enough to shake off the dying leaves. And while Poliwag was stunned in his grasp, Charmander reared back.

Charmander took in a deep breath. He exhaled part of it. He produced fire inside of himself. He took in another deep breath.

And he engulfed Poliwag's face in another Fire Bloom attack.

The water-type screamed as the flames burned her face, as the super-heated air slammed into her, as she was driven further into the tree. Charmander exhaled as long as he could, drenching the water-type in flames.

When he subsided, Poliwag's blackened face stared back at him for a second. Then the limp water type slid down the tree and fell to the forest floor, barely breathing.

Charmander stood there for a moment, the heady sensation of victory roaring through him like fiery lightning, like a raging tsunami, like a volcanic eruption. He looked down at his bloodstained claws, he inhaled and tasted the scent of smoke from his attack, and then he looked down at the enemy at his feet.

The sounds of battle reached his ears, coming from elsewhere in the forest. Charmander turned away from Poliwag, and dashed off towards the noise, head held high and his fangs bared.

AN: Once again I'd like to thank everyone who left a comment/review.

Not going to lie, writing so many fight scenes was draining.

I hope everyone is staying safe.

Don't forget to leave a review/comment!