Legal Disclaimer: If I owned 'em, I'd be rich. As it is, Pokemon belong to the wonderful people of the Nintendo Corporation, and to the guy who first thought of the idea of children attacking small creatures for battle purposes. Rating: G - suitable for all ages - I gaurantee! Feedback: I crave it! I need it! I can't improve on my writing if I don't know what's wrong with it, and I love constructive critisicm. However, flames will be squelched by my pet Squirtle whom I keep on hand for just such emergencies. C'mon on, it's my first Pokemon fanfic attempt - be gentle!

The Greatest Battle of All - Part 1

Okaaaay. So it's not gonna be as easy as you thought it was. Ash Ketchum stared at his opponent, sweat beading his brow as he tried to frantically think of a battle plan. Vaguely, he could hear shouts of encouragement coming from behind him, as his coaches (unofficial anyway) Brock and Misty tried to help him out. It was the semi-final match of the Pokemon League tournament. The winner of the tournament would go on to face the Elite to become the Grand Master Champion. It was a goal Ash had had in mind ever since he first became a pokemon trainer.

Laura Quentin. His toughest opponent yet. In their fierce battle, they had each already lost two pokemon and were down to one each. Ash watched as Laura snickered at him before tossing a red and white ball on to the playing field. " Articuno! Go!"

" Articuno?" Ash repeated incredulously. This was not good. The Pokeball opened and a swirl of red energy erupted, coalescing into midnight blue bird. Articuno raised its wings, and screeched its challenge into the air. " Uh-oh." Ash's heart raced as he tried to pick a pokemon to battle. Suddenly he felt a slight tugging on his pants leg. Glancing downward, he saw Pikachu looking up at him earnestly. " Pika!" " Huh? You want to battle?" Ash looked at Pikachu, who nodded his head. " But Pikachu, you've already fought today." " Pika pi, pikachu!" " You don't care?" Ash's eyes welled up with emotion and he hastily brushed them away before they could be seen. " Thanks Pikachu!" "' Pika!" Pikachu scampered towards the field. Brock watched with a look of concern on his face. Misty rose to her feet. " Ash! What are you doing?" she yelled, trying to get the young trainers attention. The crowds cheers, drowned her out. Sitting down, Misty looked at Brock. " Pikachu's still weak from his last battle!" " I know that, you know that, and Ash knows that." Brock said resignedly. " But Pikachu is the only Pokemon he has that has the even the remotest chance of beating Articuno." They both watched as Ash lowered his head for a minute, before looking up at Laura with determination, fists clenched. " He sure looks determined," Misty whispered. Togepi, cradled in her arms, waved his arms in agreement. Brock leaned forward, his eyes watching the battle with intense concentration. " If Ash wins, he makes it to the finals," he said softly. He remembered how Ash had been less then confident about facing Laura. " C'mon buddy."

Pikachu faced Articuno, a serious look on his small face. Articuno chuffed at him imperiously. " Let the battle begin!" shouted the referee. " Articuno! Gust attack!" shouted Laura eagerly. Articuno screeched in acknowledgement and flew into the air. Flapping it's wings ferociously, he directed his attack towards the smaller pokemon. Ash gripped the railing in front of him. " Pikachu! Agility! Avoid the attack!" he screamed. " Pika!" Pikachu became a yellow flash of light as he leaped and dodged, avoiding the gust. Ash allowed himself a small grin before shouting out, " Electric attack!" Pikachu leaped into the air and scrunched himself up. His cheeks sparked with power and he let loose a burst at Articuno. " Articuno! Evasion!" Articuno soared above the reach of Pikachu's blast. " Ice beam! Freeze that little runt!" " Pikapi!" Pikachu watched in terror as a white energy gathered before Articuno. With a loud screech, the blast was released. " Pikachu!" Ash cried out. The blast was about to hit, when a crackling sound split the night air. Ash watched in amazement as Pikachu thundershocked the bolt of blue energy, sending it flying in every other direction. Laura gasped, in awe of the mouse's immense power. " Great job Pikachu!" Ash grinned. " Pikachu - remember that multi-directional attack we tried on Kadabra? Articuno can't avoid that!" Pikachu smiled. " Chu!" Gathering all his energy, Pikachu sent the burst up in the air. The electricity sparkled into a circle and bolts shot down in every direction. Articuno tried to avoid the attack, but there were so many lightning bolts, he could only screech in pain as the electricity coursed through his body. " Finish it off Pikachu! Thundershock!" Pikachu growled as he zapped the dazed Articuno. Articuno slumped to the ground, unconscious. " Yes!!" Ash screamed, leaping into the air. On the sidelines, Misty and Brock hugged each other and then turned to face their friend, racing up to the platform.

" You did it!" Misty cheered. Brock clapped Ash on the back. " We knew you could!" " Thanks, but it was Pikachu who did it!" Ash laughed as he turned around to find his friend. " Pikachu??" Suddenly, Misty gasped. " Ash! Look!" Ash looked at the battle field and saw Pikachu lying motionless on the ground. " Pikachu!" Ash leaped over the barrier that separated the trainers from the contest, and rushed over to the mouse pokemon. Falling to his knees beside him, he tentatively reached out to stroke Pikachu's soft fur. " Pikachu?"

Suddenly, a Nurse Joy appeared on the scene, followed by two Chansey's bearing a stretcher. She held out her arms in a non-threatening manner. " Please, Ash. Let me take Pikachu," she said kindly, motioning for him to back up slightly. Ash slowly nodded, gathering Pikachu in his arms and gently placing him on the stretcher. Ash watched as the Chanseys wheeled him away. Nurse Joy smiled at him. " We'll take good care of him, I promise. You can meet us at the Pokemon Center." The Chanseys began wheeling the stretcher away. Ash nodded mutely as Joy left. Brock looked at him in concern. " Ash? Are you all right?" Ash shook his head. " No. Not until I make sure Pikachu's okay." He clenched his fists. " I didn't even check on him as soon as he won! I was too caught up in celebrating - I knew Pikachu was weak from his last battle!"

Misty wanted to comfort him but was unsure of what to do. She placed a hand on his arm comfortingly, and Ash looked up at her questioningly. " Come on Ash. We'll got to the Pokemon Center and you'll see that Pikachu's gonna be all right!" Ash knew she was trying to make him feel better, and surprisingly enough, it was working. " Okay. Let's go." As they made their way to the Pokemon Center, Ash's thoughts turned dark. What if he's not okay? It will be my fault!

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Ash paced the hall of the lobbey anxiously. Brock and Misty sat on the couch, watching him wear a hole in the floor. Both could see the tension lining his face. And he still doesn't know who he's going to be facing tomorrow, Brock thought. He was about to mention the next day's battle when the small sign above the emergency room door pinged, and the light turned off. Ash looked up quickly. Nurse Joy pushed through the door, stopping short at the sight of them. " How's Pikachu?" Ash asked worriedly. Nurse Joy smiled and gave him the victory sign. " He's doing just fine Ash. He was just exhausted. A night of rest, and he'll be back to his old self!" " That's great!" Ash cheered. " Can I see him?" " Sure," she said. Ash dashed through the double doors. Brock paused long enough to stammer out an invitation. " N-nurse Joy? I would be honoured if you'd have dinner with me sometime-" he was cut off as Misty pushed him past Nurse Joy. " Come on Romeo. Hit on the nurses later - we're here to see Pikachu!" She marched the still-protesting Brock through the doors. Nurse Joy just giggled.

Misty and Brock pulled up short at the site before them. Ash sat next to the bed, where Pikachu lay sleeping. " He looks better," said Ash with relief. Pikachu sighed softly at the sound of his rainer's voice, and slowly opened his eyes. " Pikachu!" " Pikapi?" Pikachu slowly sat up. Ash smiled at him. " How do you feel?" " Pi pika!" he nodded, flexing his small muscles. Then he slumped back against the bed covers. Ash laughed softly. " You need a little more rest pal. You've earned it too. Because of you, I'm going to the final match tomorrow." Ash's eyes shone with pride over his pokemon. Pikachu suddenly sat back up and cuddled up against him. " Chuuu?" " You want to leave now?" Ash asked. Pikachu nodded. " Pika." " Well, I do have to find out who my rival is, but I'd be coming right back." Ash tried to dissuade the mouse. Pikachu shrugged and clutched his jacket. Ash finally gave in. " Okay. But you relax, you hear me?" " Pi!" Pikachu snickered. He'd won. Ash gave up, turning to Brock and Misty who had watched the exchange with affection. " Let's go to the Arena so I can see who I'm gonna face tomorrow."

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" You have got to be kidding me." Ash stared in disbelief at the receptionist. The receptionist frowned at him, her brow creased with confusion. " Why would I joke about this? You're facing trainer Gary Oak in the final match tomorrow. Congratulations, by the way." Ash simply turned around and stalked out the door. Pikachu leaped after him. Brock and Misty apologized for Ash's abrupt behaviour before following suit. Once outside Misty spotted Ash sitting on the curb. Her urge to yell at him for being so rude faded at his dejected expression. " Ash? What's wrong?" she asked quietly. Ash didn't look up. " All my dreams of becoming a pokemon master are going to die tomorrow." " What?" Misty reared back. Where did this come from? " What are you talking about?" " Come on Misty - I'm facing Pallet towns number one son. And he's facing Pallet towns loser." Ash kicked a rock across the street in frustration. Misty was confused. She turned to Brock with a pleading expression._Talk to him!_

Brock sat down next to him. " Why are you suddenly believing all of his garbage Ash? You've never let him get you down before." Ash sighed. " Come on Brock - he's always been one step ahead of me. Everytime I get a badge, he's gotten two more. I've got several Pokemon, he's got almost a hundred. Heck, he's even got a cheering squad to cater to him." " We do our best Ash," Misty said. " No, that's not what I meant." Ash took off his head, smoothed his hair back and replaced it. " I mean everyone cheers for him - his cheerleaders, his grandfather Professer Oak, the whole TOWN?? How can I compete with that?"

Misty and Brock didn't know what to say. They knew Ash was the underdog in this battle, but then again, he always was. No gym leader had ever taken him seriously until he had beaten them all. But Ash continued. " Compared to him, I'm worthless."

Misty stood up suddenly. Togepi gave a little yelp of surprise but Misty was too steamed at Ash to notice. " Ash Ketchum!" she snapped. Ash's head jerked up. " How can you sit there and say you're worthless? Who was it that rescued Metapod from a swarm of beedrills? Huh? Who risked everything to get Pikachu's medicine when we were captured by that Squirtle gang?" " That's right!" Brock chimed in. " And who dove into a burning gym to rescue a Gloom? Or volunteered to take Lara's place in a dangerous race when she was injured, even though you had no training? And risked a bad storm and the wrath of that biker gang to deliver pokemon medicine to the Pokemon Center!" " But..." " But nothing Ash! You say you're worthless, but you sure don't prove it! Remember all the badges you won? Each time with a different strategy and clever idea!" " And don't forget the fact that we were late for this very tournament because you refused to leave Otoshi without first helping him to get his badges back from Team Rocket!" Brock and Misty were both shouting at him now. Ash backed up. Then his eyes softened and he chuckled. " Thanks you guys. I needed that." Brock and Misty looked at each other and then at Ash. " Ash, don't ever think you're worthless." Misty said. " Yeah, " Brock added. " Because as long as we're friends, you're always worth something to somebody." " Pikapi!" Pikachu squealed in agreeement. Ash looked up, tears brimming in his face. With friends like these, he knew he could do anything!

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THE GREATEST BATTLE OF ALL - PART 2

DISCLAIMER: Didn't I do this already?? Okay, Pokemon belongs to a filthy, stinking rich conglomerate known to us plebians as Nintendo. Capiche?

RATING: Uhhh....G? Yeah - we're still in the harmless stage.

FEEDBACK: Please! Tell me what you liked, what you didn't like, what your favourite color is - anything! But Squirtle's water cannon is locked and loaded for flamers, so flame at your own risk!

And now, our story continues:

" This is one large field!" Ash exclaimed in amazement. He studied the pamphlet that Brock had handed him. " This is for one battle?"

" Yes," Brock said, placing a dish on the floor for Pikachu and Vulpix. Ash's other pokemon had already been fed and were relaxing around the boarding house Ash and company were living in until the end of the competition. " You and Gary are vying for the championship on the final battlefield."

" The other one's weren't nearly so big."

" That's because this one combines six elements for your six various pokemon," Brock said patiently.

" Six?" " Yes, six. Fire, water, earth, ice, the regulation field in the center, and cliffs to one side where a lot of ariel battles tend to take place."

Ash shoved a forkful of food into his mouth. Chewing vigorously, he swallowed and said, " I wonder which ones I should use?"

Brock straightened. " I would definitley use Kingler for the water element. You did a great job with him in the opening match."

Ash grinned. "" Yeah, Kingler's great. But Squirtle has more experience. And Pikachu always rocks in water battles!"

Brock shrugged. " So use Kingler for the ice field."

"Good idea."

Misty walked in, yawning. " Good morning." Ash glanced at her. " Morning Misty."

Misty snagged a piece of toast off the plate Brock was preparing. Turning back, she examined Ash closely.

" Are you nervous yet?"

" A little," Ash admitted. " But I have the two of you behind me, right? So no matter what happens, in some ways, I'm already a winner!"

" That's a much better attitude to have, " Brock grinned. Ash smiled back, but inside, he felt his stomach muscles clench with tension. Oh yeah, he thought sarcastically. I'm a winner if only Gary gets hit by a car before the competition!

Misty was eyeing him curiously, so he forced the nagging thoughts away and finished his breakfast.

" So what other Pokemon have you decided to use, Ash?" Misty inquired, curiously.

" Hmmmmmm...I was thinking of Bulbasaur for Earth, of course. And Kingler for Ice, and Squirtle and Pikachu for the water field," Ash said thoughtfully.

Misty nodded approvingly. " What about fire?"

Brock joined them. " I could lend you Vulpix."

Ash shook his head. " I appreciate the offer Brock, but I think I'd better do this myself. And Charizard is the most powerful fire pokemon." " Well, the trained ones are, anyway," Misty said pointedly. Ash glared at her.

" Can you be a little more subtle, Misty? Besides, I think Charizard will WANT to battle when he sees some stiff competition." Ash fingered his pokeballs nervously as he spoke. " He did when he saw Magmar."

" Maybe," Misty said doubtfully. Frankly, Ash agreed with her.

" I bet ALL of Gary's pokemon obey him," he muttered. Brock and Misty exchanged a glance.

" Ash..." Brock said warningly.

" I'm not doubting myself!" Ash said hastily. " Charizard will be fine."

" It's not your pokemon we're worried about," Misty said quietly. Ash cleared his throat. Checking the clock on the wall, he rose to his feet.

" Yeah, well....let's get going. I want to get there early to see what's up." He pushed away from the table, calling to his pokemon as he went.

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Sorry this part's so short, but I wanted to get another part up quickly! Please let me know what you think! dingostorm@hotmail.com

G.B.OF A, PART 3- Mind Set

Disclaimer: Oy vey. By now, you should know I'm a poor college student with nothing to her name but some comic books, my Evee Beanie, and the lint taking up residence in my pocket where my money should be. I don't own Pokemon ('cause if I did, the lint would be GONE!), and I never will. So don't sue me, it's waste of time.

Rating: PG - I think. No bad words or anything, but we're getting into some nasty minds. Real rage. But it's still developing so we're safe for now.

Feedback: You people love tah hear me beg, dontcha? Well, I don't mind begging if you tell me what's on your mind! Hate it or love it,you had to feel SOMETHING! So drop me a line, and let me know if I should go on with the story, or quit while I'm ahead!

And so we continue:

It WAS a large field, Brock thought to himself. Even though he had read the information packet about Ash's final battle place, it still didn't prepare him for the sheer size of it. The regulation field was in the center, the official battle lines drawn in. Turning his head to the left, he noted the water field. It reminded him of the gym Misty had once operated with her three sisters. Brock sighed with delight at the memory of their brief stopover while heading to the Indigo Plateau en route from Pallet._Misty may complain about her sisters, but they sure are beautiful!_ He shook his head and looked next to the rock field, north of the center field. Now THAT reminded him of home. South of that was the fire field. Molten lave gurgled as it rose up from the center of the earth, splashing bits onto the specially-prepared plateau and hardening in seconds. And finally to the east, was the grass field. The entire battle field was set up at the top of Indigo Mountain. The stands surrounded one half of the entire setup. But the other half...

Brock narrowed his eyes thoughtfully at the dangerous cliffs that overlooked the ocean. Down at cliff's base, strong waves battled the rocks for dominance. The crashing surf reached his ears, even from that distance. A noise behind him caught his attention, and he turned. Ash was sitting on his heels, studying the field intently. He drew his finger throught the dirt absently.

" Ash?"

" Yeah?"

" You okay?" Brock joined him. Ash glanced at him, but the brim of his cap kept Brock from seeing his eyes.

" No problems here." Ash stood up and clapped his hands together to free them of dust. Misty entered the stadium. Seeing the two of them together, she held Togepi close to her while she jogged over to them.

" Hey guys," she said brightly. Her eyes met Brock's questioningly, but Brock shrugged his shoulders. Shielding her eyes against the bright morning light, she watched the spectator doors open. The people began filing into the stadium, their noise breaking the quietness. Ash watched them too, eyes thoughtful.

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" Only a few more minutes, Pikachu," Ash said, pacing the locker room. Pikachu watched him go in circles until he got dizzy. He jumped down off the bench and scampered up to him.

" Pikapi? Pika, pikachu?" The small pokemon asked his trainer anxiously.

" I'm fine Pikachu!" Ash snapped. Pikachu cowered back a little, and Ash sighed, guilt coming over him in waves. After all, it wasn't Pikachu he was mad at. Ash sat down on the bench and motioned for Pikachu to join him. As soon as Pikachu had settled himself beside him, Ash began to speak.

" I'm sorry Pikachu. I haven't been very nice lately, have I?"

" Pika." Pikachu agreed with him, but the worry never left his little black eyes.

" It's just that...grrr...I don't know!" Ash stood up and tugged his cap off in frustration. " Everytime I think I'm doing well, Gary comes along and shoots me straight back to earth! I can't compete against him Pikachu. I'm not a good enough trainer!" Ash sat back down with a thump. Pikachu snorted and jumped into his lap. Pulling the front of Ash's jacket open, he pawed Ash's trainer badges.

" Pi Pikachu!" he said angrily.

Ash fingered the badges lovingly. " I know I won all of these. And I know it's you guys who did it. But.."

" Pika!" Pikachu snatched at Ash's belt, coming away with a pokeball. Tapping the white button, a swirl of energy gathered and Squirtle appeared.

" Squirtle!" he said.

" Pika, pikapi. Chu. Pikachu!" Pikachu spoke to the other pokemon, pointing at Ash a few times. Squirtle turned to face his trainer.

" Squirtle? Squirt!" Squirtle shook his claw at Ash, before he and Pikachu both climbed on his lap to give him a hug. Ash's eyes watered.

" You guys do believe in me," he whispered. The two pokemon nodded solemnly. " But I'm not the brightest trainer in the world. Am I good enough for you guys?"

" Squirtle!"

" Pikachu!"

Ash stood up resolutely, and put his hand out. " I'll do my best to live up to your expectations."

Two paws reached out to cover his hand in a gesture of friendship and trust that made the two spies in the back, get all teary-eyed.

" I knew Pikachu would get it out of him," whispered one voice.

" Okay, you were right. Ash looks better now. More confident." the other agreed.

" Yeah." Pause. " You owe me twenty."

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Gary whistled to himself as he pulled his boots on. His thoughts turned to the upcoming battle.

" Ash doesn't know what he's in for!" he snickered to himself. It really was funny. Everyone thought Gary had no use for Ash, and that he just enjoyed taunting him. And for the most part it was true. But Gary's eyes narrowed as his thoughts went on. It was also true that he was insanely jealous of his rival from Pallet. Gary clenched his fists. HE may have the cheerleaders. He may be the grandson of a world re-nowned Pokemon Researcher. He may be one of the hottest young trainers around today. But it was a puny little punk with an electric mouse that was making waves.

Gary snorted as he remembered calling his grandfather to tell him about winning his tenth badge. His grandfather had been suitably impressed - until he told Gary about how Ash had not only won his eigth badge, but had played a crucial role in averting a volcanic disaster on Cinnibar Island. The very island Gary had vacationed on and left, soon after telling Ash that there was no gym there for him to compete at!

" Arrhgh!" he snarled and slammed his fist into the wall. That wasn't the only incident either. He'd heard it all- Ash turned the renegade Squirtle Squad into the town's hero fire-fighting squad. Ash dropping everything to help a friend or Pokemon in need. When Gary thought about it rationally, he had to admit that Ash was impressive, in his own way. Many of his pokemon had gone along with him willingly, and showed incredible loyalty and determination to help him at all costs. Gary remembered spying on one of Ash's earlier battles - Muk had triumphed over Bellsprout and then glombed on to Ash to give him a hug, Muk-style. And Muk's weren't supposed to be friendly! Gary thought of his own pokemon. Not one of them had come along with him willingly - he'd had to battle them all. And all that he battled, he'd beaten. Well, that proves it, he snorted derisively. I'm the better trainer! His eyes became narrowed slits. I'll prove to Ash once and for all, that he's a loser who's way out of his league! Snatching up his Pokeballs, Gary stalked out of the locker room, slamming the door shut.

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Next up - the battle begins! And it's a doozy!

THE GREATEST BATTLE OF ALL -

DISCLAIMER: Me? Own the Pokemon franchise? Sheeyah right! But I'm flattered you thought so.

RATING: PG - Mommies and daddies, I may not think it's bad, but if people complained because Pocahantas showed a hint of cleavage, then a few strong words would get your goat too.

FEEDBACK: Me thanks to all those who have responded so far, and have told me that my writing's not quite as bad as I thought. But keep it coming! It's my addiction, I swear!

Onward and forwards!

" At least it's nice day," murmered Ash quietly to Pikachu, who as perched atop his right shoulder. " Chau!" Pikachu agreed. Ash smiled at him and then turned to face the field. Over the loud speakers, he could hear the commentators introducing Gary. His heart thumped nervously, and he swallowed hard. A hand fell on his shoulder, and he nearly jumped straight out of his skin. " Yaaahhhh!" " Easy - it's just me!" Brock said, hands out in a calming gesture. Ash felt his heart rate return to normal, and he glared at Brock. " Don't do that!!" " Well, he scared you out of that trance you've been in," Misty said, coming up behind them. Togepi gave a little chirp of agreement. Misty looked a little closer. " Are you ready?" " As I'll ever be." Ash tugged on his cap once more and then strode to the entrance to the field. Misty and Brock waited behind him. Misty glanced at Brock, a smile on her face as she pushed a twenty dollar bill into her pocket.

" And now, his opponent. Accompanied by his coaches Brock and Misty, presenting Ash Ketchum!" A roar of the crowd greeted Ash as he stepped onto the field. One of the favored to win, Ash couldn't help but smile widely at the crowd and wave. From Ash's shoulders, Pikachu waved happily too. Brock and Misty then followed Ash to his side of the field. By mutual agreement, they had decided to hang back and let Ash hear the crowd's approval over just him. And it looked like it had worked - Ash had his familiar cocky grin on his face. Breathing a sigh of relief, the two gym trainers retired to the bench behind Ash's platform, where they could observe the entire battle.

From across the field, Gary Oak snickered at Ash. " Need a little help I see! You'll notice I don't have any coaches telling me what I should already know!"

Ash smiled tightly. " Neither do I. I have friends that will cheer me on whether I win or lose. Will your cheerleaders do the same?" Gary looked taken aback at this. Brock laughed at loud. " He's got you there Gary!" " Nah-nah!" Misty jeered him, giggling. Gary growled at them before turning away to prepare. Ash looked back at his friends with a smile of thanks. Then the referee stepped up. " Trainers, summon your first pokemon! As this is the center, nuetral field, the pokemon can be of any type!"

Gary's triumphant look resurfaced as he brought forth a pokeball and tossed it onto the field. " Starmie, go!" Ash couldn't belive it. A Starmie? Behind him, he could hear Misty's muffled shriek of laughter, and he felt a similar urge to laugh creep over him. Gary's face now creased with puzzlement. What was so funny about a Starmie? An evolved Staryu was a strong water pokemon, and he knew Ash only had a Squirtle. Of course Ash would pick Squirtle - Ash always wanted to prove his pokemon were stronger in each field. He waited confidantly for Ash to throw in the turtle pokemon. Across the field, Ash remembered his battle with Misty's Starmie. Turning his cap backwards he threw out a pokeball. " Pidgeotto, I choose you!"

" What?" Gary reared back. He had misjudged Ash - he, Gary Oak. Then resolve stiffened him. No matter. " Starmie - water gun!" " Pidgeotto - agility! Avoid the spray!" Ash directed his pokemon with confidence. Pidgeotto dove and glided through the air, Starmie's water gun missing him at each pass. " Whirlwind attack!" A strong gust of air shot towards Starmie, pushing it back across the field. With a loud splash, the water pokemon crashed into the pool of the water field. Gary laughed outloud. " Thanks Ash-y boy! Starmie, tackle attack!" Starmie shot from the water, striking the unsuspecting Pidgeotto, who began to fall. " No!" Ash shouted, but his fears were unfounded. Pidgeotto pulled herself together and spread her wings, coasting back up, sending a gentle spray flying in her wake. "Whew!" Ash rubbed the sweat from his face. " Pidgeotto, gust attack when it comes back!" Ash thought fast. _If Pidgeotto could only get it out of the water_. Starmie flew through the air, determined to hit with another tackle, but Pidgeotto was ready. With a shriek, the bird flapped its wings furiously, the generated winds catching the airborn water pokemon and driving it back to the center field. Starmie hit the ground with a thud, and it's jewel began blinking out.

" Starmie!" Gary watched in shock as the referee held out the flag to award Ash the victory." Damn!" " Yeah!" Ash shouted victoriously. Misty grinned. " At least you learned something when you battled me!" she shouted. Ash turned around and gave her thumbs up. " Of course!"

Gary shook off the defeat. Okay, he'd under-estimated Ash. He wouldn't make the same mistake twice. He threw another Pokeball on the field. " Go Arcanine!"

Ash watched in awe as the fire pokemon erupted from the pokeball and stood there impressively. " Fire spin!" Arcanine howled, whisps of smoke swirling and gathering about him. With a snarl, Arcanine blasted the fire at Pidgeotto. Diving for cover, Pidgeotto still caught the tail end of the fire and hit the ground with a thud.

" Pidgeotto!" Ash rushed forward, but Pikachu prevented him from leaving the platform. Pidgeotto stood up shakily, and then cawed out a challenge. Arcanine leaped forward, landing on one of the rocks in the firefield. Pidgeotto hovered in the air waiting for the attack. " Dragon rage!" Arcanine lifted his head up and howled, the tornado of energy striking Pidgeotto and spiraling it upwards. Losing all sense of direction, Pidgeotto was helpless as the rage threw him to the ground.

" The victory goes to Gary Oak!" The referee blew his whistle. Ash recalled Pidgeotto, murmering his thanks to the pokemon for a well-fought battle. " A tie," whispered Misty. Brock leaned forward. " Come on Ash! You can do it!" Ash stared across the center field at Gary. He could feel the nervousness ebbing away. He COULD do this, he realized. _I trust my pokemon, and they..they trust me!_ Maybe Charizard...nah, he couldn't risk it yet. He had to see if he could win with a pokemon who would try. " I choose you! Squirtle!"

" Squirtle, squirt!" Squirtle materialized on the fire field. Gary snickered. " You've got to be kidding me! Arcanine, flame thrower!" " Squirtle, water cannon!" Fire met water and an explosion of boiling hot steam erupted. Squirtle poured it on, but eventually Arcanine's fire overpowered him and Squirtle dove out of the way. " Urgh.." Ash tried to decide what to do. Brock stood up. " Switch Pokemon Ash!" " Yeah!" called Misty. " You don't lose if you recall them when they're still capable of battling!" Ash held out the pokeball. " Squirtle, return!" A flash of red light, and Arcanine stood alone on the field. " Aww, not giving up already, are ya, loser?!" Gary taunted him. Ash ignored him and stared at the pokeball in his hands. " Please," he whispered. Then he threw it out. " Charizard, go!"

Arcanine stepped back as the large orange dragon appeared. He roared defiantly, spouting flames into the air. The crowd, watched in awe. Arcanine growled, and prepared to go into battle. Charizard stopped shooting flames and regarded the dog-like pokemon quizzically. Ash clenched his fists. " Charizard, flame thrower!" Charizard turned to face him, and he yawned. Ash's heart dropped as he recognized the warning sign. Suddeny, Arcanine crashed into Charizard from behind, knocking the dragon for a loop. Ash looked up and saw Gary's face. Gary shrugged nonchalantly. Ash grinned to himself, and then looked at the two pokemon. Charizard regained his footing with a snarl and smacked Arcanine back with his tail. Arcanine landed on his feet, ready to go. Ash tried again. " If you don't want to lose Charizard, use your flame thrower!" Charizard threw him a backwards snarl, but opened his mouth, flames rocketing towards his opponent. Ash's grin nearly split his face as he watched Charizard obeying his instructions. The flames pushed Arcanine back and with a howl, he lept into the air, intending to try another tackle.

" Grab him, Charizard! Seismic toss!" Ash watched with glee as Charizard spread his wings and flew forwards to meet Arcanine in midair, catching him by a paw and dragging him into the sky. Whirling around in a dizzying arial submission manouver, Charizard flung the hapless Arcanine to the ground with a thud that rocked the stadium.

" Arcanine!" Gary gripped the railing so hard his knuckles turned white. Charizard landed next to his downed apponent and snorted. Ash threw his fist into the air. " Yes! We did it Charizard!" Charizard stared at him, and the glee quickly evaporated from Ash as he stepped back nervously, expecting Charizard to flame him. Then Charizard snorted and lay down. Obviously, he felt his job was done.

Ash knew better than to push his luck. " Charizard return!" Charizard disappeared in a swirl of red light and the green flag was raised in his direction. " Two down, four to go," Ash said triumphantly. "Pikachu!" Pikachu cheere along side his trainer. Gary scowled. " It's not over yet, Ash-y boy," he muttered. Ash flung his pokeball out to grass field. " Go, Bulbasaur!" " Nice move," Brock whispered to Misty. " By deliberatley throwing his pokemon into the grass field, Gary HAS to throw in a grass pokemon!" " Yeah, but what does Gary have?" Misty whispered back. They watched as Gary leaned forward. " Victreebell, go!" " Victreebell?" Ash recognized the plant pokemon from his battles with Team Rocket. Whenever James used Victreebell, he seemed to end up being the one attacked by it. " Victreebells' are almost as hard to control as Charizard!" He watched as Victreebell landed on the grass with a scream, and waited for Gary's command. " I guess Gary has better control then James." " Victreebell, use your razor-leaf!" Gary shouted. " You too, Bulbasaur!" The swirl of leaves slashed through each other falling to the ground. But one made it through and struck Bulbasaur on the shoulder. " Bulba!" Bulbasaur fell back slightly. " Bulbasaur, tackle attack!" Bulbasaur grunted in agreement before springing forward, catching Victreebell by surprise. Victreebell was knocked to the ground, but Gary smiled confidantly. " Victreebell, bite attack!" Victreebell's huge fanged mouth opened with another scream and attached to the bulb on Bulbasaur's back. Bulbasaur squealed in pain. " Bulbasaur!" Ash cried out. " Leech seed!" But Bulbasaur couldn't get the seed out - Victreebells fangs covered the entire bulb. Then Ash had it. " Vine whip!" " Bulbasaur!" Bulbasaur's vines snaked out, wrapping around Victreebell. Bulbsaur struggled to pull the deadly plant off of him. Victreebell's fangs sunk in deeper.

Ash knew that if he waited a few more minutes, Bulbasaur would have the leverage he needed to outmanouver the plant. But the possibility of permanent damage was rising significantly with each passing minute that Victreebell had Bulbasaur in his grip. Bulbasaur cried out in pain again, struggling to get free. " I quit!" he shouted, waving his hand frantically to get the referee's attention." Stop the battle!" " Ash Ketchum has surrendered this round. The victory goes to trainer Gary Oak!"

Gary watched, mouth open in shock as the flag was raised to him. He knew that Bulbasaur could have gotten free - why did Ash surrender? He watched as Ash recalled Bulbasaur and let him free on the platform. Ash crouched down, searching Bulbasaur for any lasting damage. " You'll be okay soon Bulbasaur!" he said gently. " Bulba," Bulbasaur said weakly, nudging Ash's hand with affection. Ash recalled him for the second time and handed him to Brock who had come up to make sure Bulbasaur was alright. " Give him to Nurse Joy for me?" Ash asked, motioning to the pink-haired nurse standing by the stadium doors. " Sure thing Ash. And with pleasure!" Brock left instantly, an eager grin on his face at the prospect of being in close proximity of Nurse Joy.

" The battle is now tied, 2-2!" the referee shouted. Still on the grass field, Gary shook off his confusion and threw in his prize pokemon. " Go Rhydon!" Ash turned back to the battle. Seeing the large pokemon waiting he turned to Pikachu. " What do you think?" " Pika!" Pikachu balled up his small fists. " Okay then - Pikachu, I choose you! " Pika!" Pikachu scampered forward eagerly. Gary burst out laughing, and even the referee looked surprised. A small pikachu vs a huge Rhydon? " Rhydon, tackle attack!" The large grey pokemon snorted and reared up. Then the mammoth hooves hit the earth and he broke into a run, charging the electric mouse. " Pikachu! Get out of the way!" Ash screamed. Pikachu nodded. " Pi!" Pikachu raced out of harms way, zipping in and out among Rhydon's hoofs with ease. Rhydon stopped his charge, confused at the yellow blur passing him at every turn. " Horn attack!" called Gary. Rhydon snorted again, and leaped at Pikachu. "Thundershock Pikachu! Just like in Viridian!" Ash couldn't keep the excitement from his voice. Pikachu leapt into the air and, focusing all of his energy, directed the bolt of lightning straight into Rhydon's horn. The horn acted like a conductor and the high voltage surged through his body, eliciting a roar of pain from him. Rhydon hit the ground, eyes dazed. " Way to go, Pikachu!" Ash celebrated on the platform. Misty and Brock hugged each other in excitement and Misty stood up. " Congratulations Ash! Pikachu!" Brock smiled knowingly at her as she sat back down. " What?" she asked, irritated. Brock just grinned at her, looking past her to Ash, and then back. He said nothing, but a faint blush appeared on Misty's cheeks. " I do not," she muttered weakly. Brock chuckled and then turned his attention back to the action. " NidoKing!" Gary had thrown out his next Pokemon. Pikachu quaked at the size of the large Pokemon standing there. And with no horn to act as a conductor, Ash knew he had to think fast. " Pikachu, agility!" " Pika!" Pikachu began running circles around Nidoking, trying to induce confusion.

Nidoking snorted and with a quick move that belied his vast size, he struck Pikachu with a tackle attack. Pikachu flew through the air, landing near the cliff edge. " Pikachu!" Ash left the platform and rushed to the end of the grass field. Gary left his platform too and stood across from Ash. " What's going on?" asked Misty, rising to her feet. " Pikachu and Nidoking have taken their battle to the far side of the arena, by the cliffs!" said Brock with concern. " But why did Gary and Ash leave?" " The cliffs are usually used for arial attacks, when two flying pokemon go at it with all their power. It's safer for the spectators - some of those gusts and tornados can get out of hand." " But.." " I'm getting to it! Arial battles can be seen from the platforms because they're so high up. But Pikachu and Nidoking are ground fighters, and the League rules state that the trainers can relocate to the edge of the grass field to continue." " Shouldn't they just start the battle over?" Misty asked as they raced up to the grass field. " No. League rules are determined that matches continue, especially at this level. It really proves how well-trained and adaptable the pokemon are." " And if one of them should happen to go over the cliff?" Misty asked with an edge in her voice. " Neither of them have wings Brock!" " That's the danger," he acknowledge. " But the trainers can recall their pokemon with their pokeballs if they're in danger of going over." " Oh." Misty and Brock reached the grass field and watched as Pikachu avoided Nidokings attacks. Suddenly Misty's eyes widened." Oh my god!" She grabbed Brock's arm in a panic. " What??" he asked her visibly annoyed at his attention being stolen from the battle. " Ash doesn't have a pokeball for Pikachu!" she breathed, eyes wide.

Brock stiffend in alarm. " Damn!" he swore. He waved at Ash, frantically trying to get his attention. But Ash had his mind on the battle. " Pikachu, thundershock!" Pikachu tried to zap Nidoking, but the large pokemon only stumbled. Still on his feet, Nidoking growled again. Pikachi panted for breath. Gary clenched his fists triumphantly, certain that victory was looming on the horizan. " Nidoking bodyslam!" But suddenly, Nidoking ignored Gary's command and rushed Pikachu. Caught by surprise, Pikachu was thrown high into the air.

" Pikachu!" gasped Misty. " Recall Pikachu Ash!" Gary shouted across to them in a panic. He didn't know why Nidoking had disobeyed him but from the angle he struck Pikachu, the mouse pokemon was going to fall over the cliff edge. " He doesn't have a pokeball for Pikachu!" Brock shouted. Gary's eyes widened. "Ash!" From the moment Nidoking had struck Pikachu, Ash had known Pikachu wasn't going to land on the ground. He had hit the ground running. He heard Gary call his name and knew that Gary understood what was going on. Ash squinted up, trying to judge Pikachu's distance. " Please!" he prayed as he pushed himself to go even faster. It was his fault that he didn't carry a spare pokeball for Pikachu, even though Pikachu refused to go into one. The cliff edge was coming up fast. In a second he knew what choice he had to make, and without even pausing, he leaped off the cliff.

" ASH!!!" Misty, Brock and Gary all screamed at the same time, racing after him. Ash felt the earth fall away from him, but all he could do was focus on Pikachu. He reached out and grabbed him. Using the last of his momentum, he swung around hard, throwing Pikachu back up into the air towards the rocks edge.The effort sped up fall. Brock reached the edge in time to catch Pikachu in the chest. His arms closed around Pikachu in an effort to keep from dropping him and Gary gripped him from behind to keep him stable. Misty fell to her knees at the cliff's edge, peering frantically down at the rocks. She couldn't see Ash anywhere.

" No!" she screamed. Brock had his hands full trying to keep Pikachu from jumping off the cliff after his trainer, and tears streamed down his cheeks. " Ash!" he shouted hoarsly. Gary had joined Misty. Vaguely, he could hear the sounds of sirens and knew that help was on the way but it was probably too late. The whole thing had taken seconds - from Pikachu being hit, to Ash's leap off the cliff in an effort to save him. The sheer bravery of the feat hit him at the same time as Misty's fist.

" It was your fault!" she screamed. Gary struck the ground, one hand raised to his face where she had hit him. Then Misty crumpled to the ground. Pikachu squirmed out of Brock's hands and barrelled into Misty, tears flowing down his little face. She wrapped her arms around Pikachu and stood up again. " We have to get down there! He may still be alive!" Brock looked at her like she was crazy and then his eyes hardened. " You're right!" He reached down and pulled Gary to his feet. " By the time they organise a way to get to the bottom of the mountain and then around the base of it where Ash is, it'll be too late!" He pulled out a pokeball. " Onix!" Onix appeared before them. Brock scrambled up on it's back, bringing Misty and Gary with him. " Onix, get us down there!" Onix roared and began tunneling down the side of the cliff. Holding on to Brock tightly with one hand and Pikachu with the other, Misty closed her eyes and prayed.