Chapter 21 is up! I'm so glad to finally have this chapter uploaded! The issue I'm having is that, for some unknown reason, Fanfiction isn't letting me save any new edits on the site. At the same time I've had problems with the actual upload not taking. But, hopefully, that's all over now. Anyways, I hope ya'll are enjoying my story as much as I'm enjoying writing it.

Disclaimer: I do not, nor will I ever, own Pokémon or any of its characters.


Chapter 21

"Good Morning Ladies and gents and welcome to the fifth match of the third round!" Tom announced. The stands exploded in applause as with every day, the stands gained more and more fans. "Today we have battling two very powerful trainers and we expect great things from both!"

With that, both trainers boxes opened up to reveal two rising figures. At one end of the field stood Ash in his Jeans and plain black T-shirt with Pikachu sat on his shoulder. At the other end of the field stood a tall man with dark hair and a heavy looking trench coat.

"Here today we have Ash representing the humble town of Pallet in the Kanto Region!" Tom announced. "Thus far, Ash has made a name for himself in every region he's come across and has been making quite a big splash here as well!" Then the camera focused on Riley. "Riley is also quite accomplished in that he has twice in recent years been named the Kanto League Champion! Though he lost his title in the most recent League tournament, Riley is still quite a formidable foe for any trainer! This is sure to be one titanic fight!"

"Ash Ketchum will choose first." the ref decided.

"That's good with me!" Ash said with a grin.

"I wish you luck in this battle." Riley stated kindly as he selected a pokeball.

"You too!" Ash countered. "May the best trainer win." Ash lobbed his pokeball into the air. "Go Heracross!"

"A decent choice." Riley spoke softly. "A fighting-type against a fighting-type should make for an interesting battle. Go Machamp!"

"Heracross vs. Machamp. Begin!"

"Machamp, Cross Chop if you please." Riley stated simply.

"Heracross match it with Brick Break." Ash countered, equally as calm.

Machamp crossed all four arms as they began to glow white and the superpower Pokémon began to cross the field. Heracross leapt into the air and began moving towards its opponent as its arms also began to glow white with energy. Due to its wings, Heracross crossed the field faster and as a result the two Pokémon met at the center of the field.

Heracross swung its right arm down, causing it to collide with Machamp's two upper arms. Heracross then used its left arms and swung upwards; only to be met by Machamp's lower two arms. The two Pokémon struggled against each other's strength, but it was an even match.

"Machamp, this is getting us nowhere." Riley announced. "Break loose."

"Oh no you don't." Ash commented. "Heracross, give em a Mega Horn."

Machamp broke the hold as it rolled to the left of Heracross, just in time to slide by Heracross's glowing horn, which crashed into the ground.

"That was close." Riley commented. "Machamp use Focus Punch."

"Heracross, Take Down!" Ash said, getting wound up.

Heracross quickly recovered from striking the ground as it hovered above the glowing fist of Machamp's that came into its line of sight. Heracross then slammed head-on into Machamp's right shoulder and sent the superpower Pokémon sliding backwards.

"I see your Heracross is quite agile." Riley said out loud to Ash. "But I'm afraid agility won't win this for you. Machamp, use Revenge."

Machamp gained a red outline as it dashed across the field out of nowhere and slammed all four of its fists into Heracross's chest. Heracross held in the air for a moment after the impact before crashing down hard at Machamp's feet, kicking up a small cloud of dust.

"See what I mean?" Riley pointed out.

"Heracross, Mega Horn!" Ash called in confidence.

Heracross burst from the dust with its horn glowing and caught Machamp in the chin as the bug/fighting-type hit home. Machamp flew high up from the impact.

"Heracross use Take Down again!" Ash called confidently.

"Machamp use Seismic Toss." Riley called.

Heracross wasted no time as it launched off the ground at its injured opponent. Machamp however, responded to its trainer. Still in mid-air, Machamp grabbed on to Heracross's horn as soon as it was within range. Machamp then flipped backwards to the point where it was literally standing on top of Heracross as the two plummeted to the ground.

"Heracross!" Ash called out frantically as the two made impact. As the pair hit the ground, more dust was kicked up. The dust lingered for a few seconds before clearing. It cleared to reveal Machamp still standing on the now crumpled Heracross. Machamp leapt off its defeated opponent and walked back to its trainer.

"Heracross can no longer battle. Machamp wins!" The ref called.

"Poor Heracross..." May said sadly.

"That certainly was an intense first battle." Brock stated. "It's interesting that Riley didn't just throw out brute strength, but he also forced Ash's own attacks to work against him."

"There is no mistaking that Riley knows what he's doing out there." Norman agreed.

"Come on Ash! Don't you dare lose!" Morrison yelled.

"Hey, this match has only just begun." Misty pointed out. "And I have a feeling Ash is far from ready to call it quits. Am I right?"

"Definitely." May agreed, her confidence in Ash not bending even a little as she watched her boyfriend recall his fallen Pokémon.

"You did remarkable, Heracross." Ash said cheerfully. "Take a great rest." Ash then turned his attention to Riley. "That was quite a strategy. I didn't even see it coming, but we're far from done." Ash turned to the mouse on his shoulder. "How about we give them a show buddy?"

"Pika!" Pikachu agreed as it leapt on to the battlefield.

"Ash's second choice will be his Pikachu." Tom announced the painfully obvious.

"Pikachu vs. Machamp. Begin!"

"Machamp use Cross Chop."

"Pikachu Thunderbolt."

Machamp made a valiant attempt to cross the field with its crossed fists, but was cut short as a bolt of electricity came crashing into it and coursed through its body. Pikachu hadn't moved even a little bit as it grinned at the display of power it possessed.

"Great shot Pikachu!" Ash commented with a grin.

"Your Pikachu is quite powerful, Ash." Riley pointed out. "But Machamp isn't finished yet. Machamp, Hyper Beam."

"Pikachu circle it and give it a full powered Volt Tackle." Ash stated calmly.

Machamp opened its mouth while it gathered surrounding energy. Machamp then roared as it blasted all of the energy at Pikachu in an orange beam. Pikachu grinned as it stood standing until the last second. As the beam reached the electric mouse, Pikachu leaped sideways and bolted forward at an amazing speed. Pikachu continued to dodge around the beam as Machamp kept the blast going, with obvious strain, and moved its head from side to side.

Pikachu reached Machamp and bolted to left of the superpower Pokémon as Pikachu's body was covered in electricity. Pikachu slammed into Machamp at full force. The resulting blast held for a second then dispersed as a twitching Pikachu walked back to Ash from its fallen foe.

"Machamp is unable to continue. Pikachu wins!" The ref called.

"Amazing!" Tom shouted. "Ash has instantly come back from his first defeat by taking down Riley's Machamp with little effort!"

"Good job my friend." Riley said as he recalled Machamp. "Ash, this ties us. And I must admit-after the battle so far, I'm looking forward to how the rest of this match will play out."

"Same here." Ash said with a grin. He then looked at his long time friend. "Pikachu, return"

"Pika?" Pikachu questioned as it leaped back from the battlefield.

"Sorry buddy, I want to save your strength for later on." Ash said quietly to his best friend.

"Chu!" Pikachu cooed as it rubbed its cheek against Ash's.

"So, a battle against two fresh Pokémon, huh Ash?" Riley said with a grin.

"Oh yeah." Ash grinned back. Ash selected his next pokeball as Riley did the same. "At the same time?"

"Agreed." Riley nodded. "Now!"

Both trainers lobbed a pokeball into the air. Each pokeball burst open as the released the Pokémon held within.

"Go Tauros!" Ash called as the bull appeared.

"Go Tauros!" Riley called at the same time.

"Well folks, this is sure to be one interesting battle as both trainers have selected to use their Tauros! Who will prevail?" Tom announced the obvious once again.

"Tauros Vs... Ehm Tauros. Begin!"

"Tauros use Take Down!" Riley called.

"Tauros, match it with your Take Down!" Ash countered.

"Well this certainly is an interesting turn of events." Prof. Oak commented.

"I knew Ash would eventually use his Tauros, but I didn't ever expect to see his opponent use one. And definitely not at the same time." May remarked.

"It's quite an unlikely event." Brock stated. "But it's clearly not impossible. But it makes me wonder... With Tauros being mostly physical based, how will they adapt to this battle."

"I can see they're both strong..." Max said. "But it raises one question: Which one's stronger?"

Ash's Tauros and Riley's Tauros both charged at full speed only to collide at mid field and lock horns. They pushed against one another, but neither gave way in a little.

"This is pointless." Riley commented. "Tauros, release and try to circle it."

"Tauros, don't let it out of your sight." Ash countered.

Riley's Pokémon broke the contact and attempted to run around its foe. Ash's Tauros slowly turned as it dug its hooves into the ground. Ash's Tauros glared at Riley's as the two locked eyes.

"Tauros use Take Down again!" Riley called.

"Tauros, take it off balance and use Earthquake!" Ash defended easily.

Riley's Tauros lowered its head and made another charge at Ash's Pokémon. Ash's Tauros reeled up on its hind legs before slamming both forelegs into the ground. A massive tremor shook the stadium as Riley's Pokémon lost its balance and footing, and slipped, crashing into the ground at Ash's Tauros's feet.

"Tauros, stand." Riley issued the next command.

Ash grinned. "Tauros use Hyper Beam!"

Riley's Pokémon struggled to regain its footing. Meanwhile, Ash's Pokémon gathered energy in its mouth only to release it all in an orange blast. The blast quickly consumed Riley's Pokémon due to the lack of distance between the two.

"Great job Tauros!" Ash called as his bull finished its attack.

However, when the beam fully cleared, Riley's Tauros still stood.

"My turn." Riley smirked. "Tauros use Take Down to get in close."

Riley's bull charged Ash's immobilized Pokémon due to its need to recharge. Tauros made contact and slammed into Ash's Tauros's side.

"Toss it in the air." Riley yelled.

Riley's Tauros gained footing and lowered its head beneath Ash's own Tauros. Riley's Pokémon then, using all its strength, flung Ash's Pokémon into the air.

"Tauros, can you move yet?" Ash called as his bull launched high. His own Tauros didn't respond. "Uh oh..."

"Tauros use Flamethrower!" Riley called out.

Riley's Pokémon took aim and unleashed a massive torrent of flames that quickly engulfed Ash's Pokémon. Still covered in flames, Ash's Tauros crashed into the ground.

"Tauros!" Ash called in disbelief.

"Whoa!" Tom shouted. "It looks like Ash's Tauros may be down for the count!"

Ash's Tauros lay immobile for several seconds as the ref began to raise his flag.

"Ash's Tauros has been def-" But the ref stopped as Ash's bull slowly raised itself from the ground. Battered and injured, Ash's Pokémon held pure determination in its eyes as it stared at its opponent.

"That's the way Tauros!" Ash cheered.

"Ash, you certainly have one fine Tauros there." Riley stated. "But let this be the last strike for either of our Pokémon. Let's see who really is the strongest."

"After you then." Ash smirked.

"Tauros!" Both trainers shouted. "Giga Impact!"

"Whoa... This is intense." Misty commented. "I've seen Ash's Tauros take down other trainer's Tauros easily. But this Riley guys Pokémon is on a whole nother level..."

"I didn't expect this to be an easy match." Brock stated. "But I think there might be more to Riley than meets the eye."

At Brock's statement, Max took out his pokenav and began looking through it vigorously.

Both bulls gained white energy surrounding their bodies as they stared at each other and built up all of their strength, preparing to charge.

Ash's Tauros moved first and bulldozed its way across the field. Riley's Tauros didn't wait for any word as it barreled at its oncoming opponent. They lowered their heads as they ran and collided mid field once more. The result of the collision was a pulse of energy vibrating through the stadium as the two powerful energies collided. Both Pokémon suffered tremendous pain as they pushed against each other. Finally, both bulls gave in to the pain and collapsed, unmoving.

"Both Pokémon are unable to battle. This round is a draw!" the ref called.

"You did phenomenal out there Tauros." Ash stated proudly as his Pokémon returned to its pokeball. "Take a nice long rest."

"Well done my old friend." Riley stated. "Ash this is quite the thrilling battle. Wouldn't you agree?"

"It sure is." Ash agreed with a nod.

"Though I willingly acknowledge your strength as a trainer, my friend, it's time I showed you why I reigned as the Kanto League Champion for two years." Riley said. "This is the beginning of your defeat."

"We'll see." Ash stated while selecting his next pokeball. "Go Quilava!"

"A solid Pokémon." Riley commented out loud as he grabbed a third pokeball. "But no match for my third Pokémon. Go Nidoking!"

"Quilava vs. Nidoking. Begin!"

"Guys look at this!" Max shouted, startling everyone.

"What is it Max?" May asked as she tried to peer into his line of sight, unsuccessfully.

"It's Riley's profile." Max stated. "Check this out. Riley has been a trainer for seven years but has never in his life stepped foot outside of Kanto until he was invited to this tournament."

"Well that's interesting and all" Misty stated. "But so what?"

"I wasn't finished Misty." Max lectured before he turned back to the screen. "In that time, Riley has only ever caught five Pokémon plus his starter!"

"What?" Lindsey shouted, much to the crowd's dismay.

"So that means, for seven years, he's only trained six Pokémon..." Gary said, putting it all together. "No wonder his Machamp and Tauros were so darned powerful..."

"Ash must not have read his profile." Dawn sighed. "Otherwise he would've known exactly which Pokémon he would be battling."

"Not like it matters now." Prof. Oak stated. "Ash is in this battle for keeps. And I know firsthand that Ash's Pokémon are quite powerful. We'll just have to see how this all turns out..."

"Quilava use Swift." Ash commanded.

"Nidoking, knock them away." Riley sighed.

Quilava quickly shot a burst of sharp stars at Nidoking only to watch as they were swiped out of the air with one of Nidoking's massive fists, rendering the attack completely harmless.

"Nidoking use Thunderbolt." Riley commanded.

Nidoking unleashed a fierce bolt of lightning from its body that quickly covered Quilava's entire body before it was able to even begin to move.

"Quilava use Flame Wheel!" Ash called to his electrocuted Pokémon.

Though continuing to take damage from the electric blast, Quilava still managed to curl itself into a ball and burst from the Thunderbolt. Quilava raced at Nidoking and slammed straight into the ground/poison-type's chest. Nidoking flinched in slight pain. The massive Pokémon then grabbed a hold of Quilava by the torso with both arms and slammed it into the ground in anger.

"Quilava!" Ash called as his Volcano Pokémon took even more damage.

"Nidoking, use Earthquake." Riley ordered.

Nidoking lifted and slammed one massive leg into the ground in front of Quilava and sent a huge tremor through the stadium. Ash watched in fear as Quilava was struck hard and then thrown into the air by the powerful attack. Quilava came crashing down.

However, to everyone's surprise, Quilava slowly rose to its feet.

This is beyond bad Ash thought in absolute fear as he watched his now frail fire-type attempt to blow flames at the overwhelming ground-type. The flames hardly scorched Nidoking as it continued its challenging advance towards Quilava.

It's all or nothing! Ash thought as he called out another command. "Quilava use Flamethrower with every ounce of fire you can!"

"Nidoking use Hyper Beam!" Riley countered.

The flames on Quilava's back and head grew to massive heights as the fire-type gathered its remaining strength and unleashed everything it had in a massive burst of intense flames. Nidoking likewise gathered its energy and unleashed a concentrated orange beam at the oncoming flames. The two attacks collided. The resulting explosion was incredible as the air around it circled the field and sent gusts of wind blowing in every direction.

Ash and Riley held their arms in front of their faces as they had to block the intense wind. The wind threatened to blow each trainer from where he stood if he relaxed his stance for even a moment.

At the same time, Quilava and Nidoking struggled to overwhelm the other. Quilava gave one last burst of its last remaining energy and sent more flames into the blast. Nidoking saw this and refused to give.

"Nidoking!" Riley called to his quickly weakening Pokémon. "Take it out now!"

With one colossal roar, Nidoking forced even more power into its Hyper Beam. This caused the orange beam to slice right through Quilava's Flamethrower and slam directly into the fire-type.

"Quilava!" Ash called in fear as Quilava took the blast as it exploded in its face. Quilava went soaring over Ash's head as it went higher and higher. "RETURN!" Ash called as he pointed his pokeball at the fire-type once he realized it was going too fast and continually going higher. The beam of red light missed its target though as the unconscious Pokémon soared well over the stands and out of the stadium.

As Quilava fell from view, Ash raced off of the raised trainer's box and bolted for the stadium doors. Pikachu dashed in front of Ash and went looking for Quilava out of pure instinct.

"Oh my Arceus..." Riley said quietly as he realized the horrid effects of what happened. He watched as Ash disappeared then looked at his own Pokémon, who looked increasingly more and more remorseful for its actions.

"It's not your fault." Riley told his Nidoking as placed a hand on the Pokémon's shoulder. "This was my doing." They both continued to stare in the direction That Quilava had gone as they waited for any word.

(In A Dark Warehouse)

"HAHAHAHAHAHA!" Drew laughed hysterically at the television. "That second rate chump just got owned!"

"Yes, he seems to have made quite an error in judgment." The dark figure said thoughtfully. "Do you not care for the wellbeing of the Pokémon injured?"

Drew glared at him. "Any of his Pokémon could fall off a cliff and I wouldn't care. He doesn't deserve everything he has. And it serves him right."

The dark figure accepted this answer and continued his work. He was installing a security system.

"And why are we setting up this stupid Warehouse with all of this high-tech crap?" Drew asked, annoyed.

"Because, I don't take on a job that will bring up such publicity, unless I have a secure place nearby to take refuge- should the need arise." The dark man responded.

"Ah." Drew nodded slowly. "And I don't suppose you plan on telling me who these other two associates of yours are anytime soon, do you?"

"No." the man replied. "You'll understand in due time, but for now, the less you know, the better."

"Sir. Sir, can you hear me?" a voice came from a radio. The dark figure strode over to it and responded. "Is everything in place?"

"Yes sir. I'm set up in Evergrand and I have everything I need set up for the first phase."

"Good. Very good." The man smirked.

"I'll have the target by tomorrow at the latest. If everything goes according to plan, nobody will realize what happened until much, much later."

"Good. Keep me informed of your progress." The man told the person on the other side of the radio. "And be discreet. One slip-up could ruin everything."

"Yes sir! Over and out."

The dark man shut off the radio and looked with a dark grin at the TV- at the boy who was unknowingly, the target of a sinister plot. Drew grinned as well as Ash darted off-screen and out of the stadium.

"This is going to be so much fun, Ash." Drew smirked darkly.

Ash ran faster and faster as one thought coursed through his mind- Please be alive... Ash ran and ran further until he saw Pikachu straight ahead and knelt down in front of a small crater in the ground, about sixty feet from the stadium.

As Ash neared the crater, the sight he saw devastated him.

There, lying on the ground in a crumpled heap, lay Ash's Quilava. The poor Pokémon was covered in bruises and scrapes that extended from its head to its legs. Traces of blood were stained all over the crater as Ash noticed that Quilava's head seemed to have more blood slowly trickling out.

Ash reached the Pokémon and knelt to the ground as he slowly lifted the small Pokémon up and quickly rushed to the Pokémon center.

"Ash!" Brock called as he and the rest of the group converged on him in the emergency center of the Pokémon center.

Ash looked up from Pikachu to see their worried faces.

"How's Quilava?" May asked Ash tenderly as she took the seat next to him.

"I don't know..." Ash groaned as he let a tear slip from his eye. "This is all my fault... I wanted to beat Riley so bad that I wouldn't accept Quilava quitting... If I had taken him out of the battle... Then maybe he'd..." Ash didn't finish that sentence as he turned his head to the floor.

Brock looked at Ash and then sighed. "Which room is Quilava in?" Ash pointed to the room opposite where he sat. Brock said nothing else as he disappeared inside.

"Ash, this wasn't your fault." May told him comfortingly. "Quilava would have hated giving up. It has the same determination you do."

"She's right Ash." Misty nodded as she neared the trainer. "What happened was the result of bad circumstances... That's it. Watch, you'll see that in no time, Quilava will be back up and perfectly healthy again."

Ash didn't respond. Pikachu looked as crestfallen as his trainer. Nobody else spoke as they all continued to wait for word on Ash's Quilava.

After about twenty minutes, Brock and Nurse Joy both returned from the room Quilava was in. Ash immediately stood up- Pikachu perked up.

"Quilava will be alright." Brock told Ash straight away.

Then Nurse Joy cut in. "But I require that your Quilava stay here with me for the rest of the week. Ash nodded as he continued to listen.

"Your Quilava sustained massive amounts of terrible damage. Most likely from its fall at such a speed and height." Nurse Joy continued factually. "Although there shouldn't be any lasting handicaps, Quilava won't be fully back up to one hundred percent fighting capability for around a month."

Ash sighed in sadness.

"Take heart," Nurse Joy smiled sadly. "Things could have gone much worse."

Ash nodded. "Can I see him?"

Nurse Joy nodded. "But be warned, there are some visible scars that will always be there for the poor thing. Some scars will remain." Ash nodded and walked into the room. He briefly heard Nurse Joy say that no more than three people may be in the room at once. May followed Ash.

There, lying on the bed, covered in bandages, lay Quilava. At first glance, most of the external injuries seemed to already be healing as fast as normal.

"Look at his ear..." May gasped.

Ash followed her gaze and held his breath as he saw that there was a small chunk missing from the top and side of Quilava's right ear. Ash groaned inwardly and looked his Pokémon over as he saw a thin scar that stretched from Quilava's right foreleg, across its back, and to its left hind leg. Ash felt even worse.

"I'm so sorry Quilava..." Ash told the injured Pokémon as he knelt down beside it, his head down. Quilava raised its head slightly, with obvious pain as it stared directly into Ash's eyes. Quilava nuzzled against Ash's messy hair as it tried to comfort its trainer.

Ash understood that his fire-type held no hard feeling for what happened.

May placed a hand on Ash's shoulder. "C'mon Ash. Let's let Quilava rest..."

Ash reluctantly agreed as he stroked Quilava's back. He stood as Quilava went back to its resting position. Ash and May took one last glance, and then left.

Ash and May were greeted by Charles Goodshow of the Pokémon League.

"Ash!" Charles said solemnly. "How is Quilava doing?"

"He'll be alright, but he's out for the rest of the tournament." Ash said. "As am I."

This startled everyone.

"What are you talking about Ash?" Max and May said together. "You can't quit!" Max finished.

Ash fixed Max with a stern look. "I can if I feel that I don't want to injure anymore of my Pokémon."

"That's really quite saddening to hear..." Goodshow said with a frown. "I hate to see such a potentially unique young trainer throw away such an opportunity.."

Ash sighed. "I don't quit because I don't think I can win..." Ash said sadly. "If today had gone just a little worse, Quilava would be gone forever. And I couldn't live with myself if I caused one of my Pokémon an end like that..."

"Ash, things went bad today." Max said. "But in reality, they could have gone a lot worse. Yes, you made a mistake. But, you always taught me to make amends and always get back up when someone knocks you down. You're Pokémon all trust you and would do anything for you. That's why Quilava was willing to go to such extremes for you."

"Ash, you owe it to Quilava to finish this tournament." May told him sternly. Everyone stared at her with surprise. "Look at what he's done for you. He evolved in the middle of a battle to help you continue, he trains whenever you ask it of him, and he's sustained horrid damage to help you advance. You owe it to him, and to every Pokémon you own to go as far as you can."

May's speech struck a chord as he realized the truth of May's words. "You're right. Giving up isn't an option. Not when we've come this far." Ash looked at Pikachu who had perked back up.

"You ready to finish this battle for Quilava, Pikachu?" Ash asked his faithful starter.

"Pika!" Pikachu cheered as it leaped up to Ash's shoulder.

Ash looked at Goodshow. "We'll continue."

"Good!" Goodshow replied. "But it's been well over an hour and I convinced the Pokémon League committee to give you an hour and a half or you forfeit. So, I suggest you hurry back to the stadium."

Ash nodded a he turned to Brock.

"Brock, please stay here and keep watch on Quilava for me." Ash asked of one of his oldest friends.

"It would be my pleasure." Brock nodded. "Win this for Quilava."

With that, Ash thanked everyone for being there when he needed them. He kissed May on the cheek and bolted out the door with a renewed determination.

Ash bolted through the doors of the stadium and into the center where his opponent still waited.

"I was worried you wouldn't return." Riley told Ash from across the field as Ash took his place in his trainer's box.

"I owe it to all of my friends and all of my Pokémon to take this as far as I can." Ash replied.


"I'm glad to hear that." Riley told Ash. "How is Quilava?"

"He'll be alright, but he's out of the tournament." Ash replied.

"I'm truly sorry about that Ash." Riley told his opponent with remorse.

"It's ok." Ash told him. "We're both at fault. And what matters now, is making up for the time that I've lost."

"Right, then shall we continue?" Riley smirked.

"After you." Ash smirked back.

"Ladies and gents, with Ash Ketchum's return, we now have the final half of this over whelming battle." Tom called. "Ash lags behind with only three Pokémon left to battle, while Riley leads out in front with four Pokémon still remaining. This is sure to get far more intense, so don't miss a second!"

"Trainers ready?" the ref asked, both nodded. "Begin!"

"Nidoking, one more encore." Riley called.

"Floatzel show us your stuff!" Ash called.

Both Pokémon burst on to the field with determination as they stared each other down.

"Floatzel Vs. Nidoking. Begin!"

"Nidoking use Earthquake!"

"Floatzel use Aqua Jet!"

May and the group returned to their seats to watch as Ash began to battle with Nidoking once again, this time with Floatzel.

"It's a better match up this time.." Lindsey commented.

"Yes, but Ash has to work carefully." Norman spoke. "One false move could send this entire battle crashing down on him."

"I can't believe the strength of Riley's Pokémon.." Misty sighed. "They're so overwhelmingly powerful."

"True, but Ash has a renewed determination." May said with a smile. "He's not trying to win anymore. He's making amends to Quilava. And that's why he'll win."

That statement stood as the group watched Floatzel and Nidoking go at it.

Nidoking raised its leg and stomped on the ground as Floatzel grinned and launched into the air, its body surrounded by water. The tremor missed Floatzel completely as it soared over it and slammed into Nidoking's chest, knocking it off balance. Nidoking stumbled backwards.

"Now use Water Pulse!" Ash called to the otter.

"Nidoking, use Hammer Arm and knock it away." Riley countered.

Nidoking, still dizzy, swung a mighty fist. Floatzel, however, expertly dodged it by tapping its paws on the fist and propelling itself upwards and out of harm's way. Floatzel then gathered water between its paws as it came down on top of Nidoking. Just before impact, Floatzel flipped upside down so its watery orb was below it as it grinned. The Water-type move collided with Nidoking's head.

Floatzel then, without command, issued a Sonicboom into Nidoking's head, to propel itself away from harm, and back at Ash's side.

"What the-" Riley said quietly as Nidoking stumbled around in pain. Nidoking swung a mighty fist, and punched itself in the face.

"Folks, Nidoking seems to be confused! How will Riley respond?" Tom asked nobody in particular.

"Floatzel use an Aqua Jet, Ice Punch combo." Ash instructed.

Floatzel grinned wider as it caught on to its trainers thought.

Floatzel launched at Nidoking once more covered in water as its right fist gained a blue sparkle. Nidoking continued to swing aimlessly as it turned around.

"Nidoking, behind you!" Riley called to no avail.

FLoatzel made impact as it slammed its watery, ice covered fist into Nidoking's back. The water, causing enough damage, only seemed to strengthen the icy punch. Floatzel dropped behind Nidoking as the massive ground-type fell. Floatzel grinned and walked back to Ash.

"Nidoking is unable to battle. Floatzel wins!"

"Yes!" Ash cheered as Floatzel walked back over. "Way to rock Floatzel!"

"Float." Floatzel replied with a smirk.

"I knew Floatzel was a great choice!" May smiled.

"Definitely!" Misty agreed. "As far as water-types go, Floatzel is top rate."

"Ash is definitely back in this match!" Lindsey cheered.

"I think he's gonna pull this around." Gary said with renewed enthusiasm.

"Hmmm.." Prof. Oak smiled. "I'm glad to see that Ash and Floatzel are such a good team, especially after the separation."

"Ash's Pokémon always knew he'd be back." Dawn smiled. "And Floatzel always respected Ash for his choices. I have a feeling that Floatzel wouldn't work half this hard for any of us."

Everyone nodded in agreement.

"I must admit Ash, Floatzel is astoundingly powerful." Riley commented. "Not many Pokémon have ever made such short work of my Nidoking before."

"Floatzel is just getting started." Ash replied.

Floatzel inflated its flotation sack and grinned in agreement before deflating it.

"Good. Then my next Pokémon won't need to hold back." Riley replied.

"Bring it on." Ash replied.

"Go Kabutops!" Riley said with a grin.

The mighty shellfish Pokémon exploded on to the field. It immediately surveyed its surroundings as it rubbed both sickles together.

"Kabutops?" Ash repeated. "That's incredible. Hardly anyone knows how to get an ancient Pokémon, much less actually owns one..."

"I discovered a Kabuto fossil several years ago, and it took a bit, but I had it restored." Riley told Ash proudly. "Kabutops has been a primary member of my team for many years."

"Floatzel Vs. Kabutops. Begin!"

"Kabutops use Slash!"

"Floatzel, dodge and use Ice Punch!"

Kabutops raced at Floatzel with frightening speed. Kabutops slashed downwards as it ran. Floatzel barely had time to sidestep the fast Pokémon as it rounded Kabutops and planted its icy fist into the shellfish's right shoulder.

"Kabutops use your Ancientpower!" Riley issued.

"Floatzel, block it with Sonicboom!" Ash countered.

Kabutops summoned rocks around it and fired them straight at Floatzel, who was mere feet away. Floatzel spun backwards and flung its tail, releasing a sonic wave that smashed into several rocks. However, most rocks broke through and slammed into Floatzel.

"Floatzel, give 'em an Aqua Jet!" Ash continued the fast paced battle.

"Kabutops, block it with Protect!" Riley said with a grin.

Floatzel raced at Kabutops, once again encased in water, only to find itself stop moving. Floatzel opened its eyes to see that Kabutops had erected a bubble-like barrier around it that allowed it to completely neutralize the attack.

Floatzel was dumbfounded.

"Kabutops, use Hydro Pump." Riley commanded.

"Floatzel, break off and use Water Pulse!" Ash instructed.

Floatzel stopped the Aqua Jet and bounced off of the Protect bubble as it gathered water into its orb. Kabutops dropped the bubble and blasted a torpedo of water at Floatzel as it slowly fell with its orb. Knowing there was no dodging; Floatzel took the Hydro Pump straight up before it released the Water Pulse at Kabutops. Kabutops took the watery orb in the face immediately after its Hydro Pump made impact.

Floatzel fell to the ground, but quickly stood back up. Kabutops seemed damaged, but angry.

"Kabutops use Slash again!" Riley commanded instantly.

"Floatzel use Sonicboom followed by Ice Punch!" Ash defended.

Kabutops crossed its blades and ran at Floatzel once more. Floatzel jumped and spun in mid-air to unleash another sonic wave from its tails. The wave hit Kabutops in the jaw and caused it to back flip into the ground. Floatzel then came down on top of the rock/water-type with its icy fist, and planted it into the back of Kabutops head, smashing it into the ground.

Floatzel seemed pleased. Kabutops roared as jumped from the ground and began a vicious flurry of Slash attack at Floatzel.

"Floatzel, Water Pulse!" Ash called.

Floatzel was unable to heed its trainers command as it continued to barely dodge each bladed arm.

"Hydro Pump!" Riley called.

Kabutops slashed and slashed. It then stopped a brief second and released another watery torpedo. This caught Floatzel off guard as it took the blast in the face, stopping it for a moment.

"Now, Slash!" Riley commanded.

"Floatzel, dodge!" Ash called.

Floatzel didn't see the move coming as Kabutops appeared in front of it and crossed its blades. It then slashed downwards across Floatzel's chest as it completed the attack. Floatzel opened it eyes from the pain.

"Floatzel grab it and use Sonicboom!" Ash called.

Floatzel grabbed both of Kabutops arms and then issued several sonic waves from its tails all at once. The waves collided with Kabutops exposed chest as the damage accumulated.

"Now Ice Punch!" Ash finished.

Floatzel released one of Kabutops arms and slammed its ice covered fist into Kabutops chest. Floatzel let go and fell to the ground on one knee in exhaustion as Kabutops collapsed backwards.

"Kabutops is unable to continue. Floatzel wins!"

"What an upset!" Tom shouted. "Ash has defeated Riley's fierce Kabutops with his Floatzel. Amazing! This match just won't show any signs of a clear winner!"

"Fascinating..." Riley said softly as he recalled Kabutops. "You seem to have quite a knack for coming back from behind, Ash!"

"Yeah, well, Floatzel did all the work." Ash grinned.

Floatzel grinned at its trainer's praise as it slowly made its way back to Ash.

"You think you can keep going?" Ash asked the water-type. Floatzel nodded.

"I think it's time we kicked this battle up a notch." Riley informed Ash. "Go Pidgeot!"

"Floatzel Vs. Pidgeot. Begin!"

"Hmmmm..." Prof. Oak smiled. "This reminds me of Gary's Pidgeot, back at the lab. Although this one is far bigger."

"Bigger?" Misty asked. "How could it be bigger?"

"Well, all researchers know, that most Pokémon never stop growing." Prof. Oak stated. "Pokémon slowly grow for years and years. Long after they've stopped battling. Why some say, that's why the legendary Pokémon are so large."

"Of course," Gary admitted. "There are a number of species that this fact doesn't apply to."

"How fascinating." Max stated.

"Yes," May sighed. "But why are we talking about this now?"

"Well," Prof. Oak said. "I only mentioned it because that would mean this Pidgeot is at least ten years old."

"Floatzel, use Aqua Jet!" Ash called.

"Pidgeot, use Quick attack." Riley countered.

Floatzel covered its body in water and burst forward at Pidgeot. Pidgeot leaped into the air, folded its wings in close, but still extended, and shot forward like a rocket. Floatzel missed completely as Pidgeot circled the stadium in only a few seconds and slammed into Floatzel's back out of nowhere.

"Wow!" Ash said, surprised. "Pidgeot is fast!" "Floatzel use Water Pulse!"

"Pidgeot use Air Cutter." Riley defended quickly.

Floatzel collected its watery orb and shot it straight at Pidgeot, who now had landed. Pidgeot made no move to dodge - instead, Pidgeot slashed both wings down and sent a cut in the air towards the orb. The air burst sliced through Floatzel's attack easily and slammed into Floatzel behind it. Floatzel frowned.

"Pidgeot use Quick Attack again." Riley ordered.

"Floatzel, block it with Ice Punch!" Ash countered.

Pidgeot bolted forward like a rocket once more, colliding with Floatzel without hesitation. As Floatzel stumbled back, it brought one icy fist into contact with Pidgeot's lower beak. Both Pokémon were hurt as Floatzel fell to one knee and Pidgeot flew back to Riley.

"Floatzel use Sonicboom and Water Pulse!" Ash called.

"A combo huh..." Riley smirked. "I knew he'd eventually use one. Pidgeot, fly up and use Aerial Ace!"

Floatzel twisted in mid-air as it shot a sonic wave at Pidgeot. When it landed, Ash's Pokémon then fired another watery orb behind the sonic attack as it widened and combined. Pidgeot rushed at the oncoming attack. Just before impact, Pidgeot vanished.

Pidgeot reappeared right in front of Floatzel and drove one strong beak into Floatzel's stomach. Pidgeot then back flipped in mid-air and glided away with ease.

Floatzel succumbed to the pain and fainted as it fell face first into the ground.

"Floatzel is unable to continue. Pidgeot wins!"

"Look at that folks! Riley and his Pidgeot have evened the score of this battle. Now Ash only has two Pokémon remaining as well as Riley. With such a tight match, either trainer could win this!" Tom shouted. "(why's he always shouting?"

"You fought like a true champion Floatzel." Ash told his otter as it returned to its pokeball. Ash looked at Pikachu. "You ready for another round buddy?"

"Pika." Pikachu said with a solemn nod as it leaped from Ash's shoulder and steadily walked on to the battlefield.

"Pikachu Vs. Pidgeot. Begin!" The ref called with a flag wave.

"Pikachu use Thunderbolt!" Ash commanded immediately.

"Pidgeot, circle and dodge. Go straight into Steel Wing." Riley defended.

Pikachu made no move from its position as it launched a massive lightning bolt at Pidgeot. With all the speed it could muster up, Pidgeot darted away from the attack. Pikachu focused as it continued the bolt of electricity and tried to hit Pidgeot, following the bird as it flew around the stadium in circles. Pidgeot then rocketed into the sky before diving full force at Pikachu. As Pidgeot came down, its wings started to glow white and grew hard as steel.

Pikachu finally hit Pidgeot as the bird dove down in a dive-bomb. Pidgeot, however, took the attack full force and drove through, connecting with Pikachu's small body. The electricity and the force of the impact caused a small explosion. The explosion blew Pikachu and Pidgeot in opposite directions as they both slammed full force into separate walls of the stadium.

"Pikachu!" Ash called, not expecting his Pokémon to take such a massive hit so soon.

Pikachu responded to Ash and managed to peel itself out of the wall and limp back to Ash.

"Pidgeot are you okay?" Riley called to his Pokémon.

Pidgeot slowly rose from the rubble of its crash-landing and glided back to Riley, although fairly wobbly.

"Pidgeot use Quick Attack!" Riley shouted.

Pidgeot darted at Pikachu.

"Pikachu deflect with Iron Tail!" Ash defended.

Pikachu hopped into the air and spun around, its tail glowing as it did, just as Pidgeot was in front of Pikachu, the mouse swung its tail and connected with the bird's beak. Both attacks were cancelled.

"Pikachu, another Thunderbolt!" Ash called.

"Pikachuuuu!" Pikachu called as it released yet another blast of electricity.

"Pidgeot, dodge and use Aerial Ace." Riley countered.

Pikachu's electric blast missed Pidgeot as the bird disappeared into thin air once again. Pidgeot then reappeared behind the mouse, only a few inches from him.

"Pikachu dodge!" Ash called.

Pikachu back flipped high into the air as Pidgeot slid underneath him, completely missing the small mouse.

"WHAT?" Riley shouted. "Aerial Ace shouldn't be possible to dodge!"

"Pikachu use Thunderbolt again!" Ash called.

Pikachu landed on the ground as Pidgeot glided away. The mouse then released another blast of lightning that, this time, encompassed Pidgeot's entire body and sent the bird sliding into the ground.

"Wow!" Misty said, thoroughly impressed. "Pikachu is so Impressive.."

"Yes," Prof. Oak said. "I hadn't seen Pikachu in a few years when I saw him back at my lab before this tournament. And I noticed that Pikachu has become thinner and lighter. Though, not unusually thin."

"What my grandpa is trying to say," Gary interrupted. "Before he gets rambling. Is that Pikachu has less fat. But the fat has been mostly replaced by muscle. Pikachu is in almost perfect fighting shape."

"Really?" Max asked, surprised.

"Yes really." Prof. Oak stated while staring at Gary, irritated for interrupting. "And I do not ramble!"

"Gramps." Morrison interjected. "You're old. Therefore you ramble." Morrison stated as if it were obvious. "Accept it and welcome the exciting bliss of your stories that go nowhere."

Prof. Oak was about to respond when Misty took action. She swung her mighty hammer, but missed?

"Hehehe." Morrison grinned. "I've out grown your childish hammer Misty! And now you will never again interfere with my diabolical ways! Muahahaha!" May tossed her popcorn at Morrison. "Hey! Why must you interfere?"

As he was not paying attention, Misty took a mighty swing, and sent Morrison flying. "Dodge that." Misty smirked as she settled in next to Ritchie. She turned to Gary and asked, "So what if Pikachu is leaner with more muscle. Who cares?"

"Misty you don't understand.." Gary sighed. "Aerial Ace is close to impossible to dodge. The fact that Pikachu was capable of dodging it, and with such little notice, means that Pikachu is far faster than it has let on."

"Faster?" Dawn asked. "But Pikachu was wicked fast to start with."

"Exactly." Gary stated. "Pikachu is on its own separate level of speed at this point. And that spells danger for any of Ash's opponents.."

"Do you think Ash knows how fast Pikachu really is?" Misty asked.

"I would bet on it." Gary remarked. "I think that's why he's used Pikachu so little in the tournament up to this point. He doesn't want his opponents knowing what Pikachu is really capable of."

"Wow..." Misty sighed as everyone watched the small mouse on the field.

"Pidgeot we take Pikachu out now!" Riley called to his bird as it slowly rose from the ground. "Use Brave Bird! Take it out!"

Pidgeot rose into the air as its body caught fire. Pidgeot then dove straight down, the flames turning to blue energy as it began to pick up speed.

"You wanna joust huh?" Ash commented. "Pikachu, take it head-on with a full powered Volt Tackle!"

"Pika." Pikachu nodded at Ash as it slowly began a slight sprint, quickly picking up speed. "Pikapikapikapikapikapika!" Pikachu called as its speed increased more and its body collected electricity which quickly surrounded the mouse.

Pidgeot leveled off at ground level as it continued to race at Pikachu. The two showed no fear as they met at the center of the battlefield. The result was a cataclysmic explosion that shook the stadium around it. Dust kicked up everywhere as rocks surrounding the center of the field shattered upon the immediate impact. Shock waves went spiraling through the stadium as people were forced to hold on to their seats.

"What power!" Max shouted over the enormous roar from the blast below.

"WOW!" Misty shouted.

"Misty, stop saying 'wow'!" Gary called.

"This is incredible!" Norman called as he watched the dust cloud continue to grow. "Pikachu and Pidgeot are so powerful!"

"Ash! Pikachu!" May called as the group watched the dust cloud swallow both trainers.

(In The same dark Warehouse)

"I thought you said the boy's rat was weak!" the dark man shouted at Drew as he turned from the screen.

"He is weak!" Drew replied. "He's a nobody that-"

"Shut up!" The dark man roared. "Does that look weak to you?" The dark man bellowed, pointing at the screen.

"Well, I mean Pidgeot is a fully evolved Pokémon and-" Drew began.

"It takes more than one powerful Pokémon to make an explosion like that!" The dark man shouted, his temper slowly dropping. "This means I'll have to make some adjustments for my plan.."

"Like what?" Drew whined. "We're already taking so long, now what?"

"Well, for starters, I have to find a way to deal with this powerful Pikachu.." The dark man sighed as he stood and walked out of the warehouse, leaving Drew thoroughly confused.

"Would you look at that blast folks!" Tom shouted. "Pikachu and Pidgeot have the whole stadium shaking from their collision. What could possibly be the turn out of this clash?"

The dust cloud slowly started to thin as Pikachu's small frame came into focus. Pikachu was sparking randomly as it gingerly walked towards Ash, its body covered in scrapes. Pidgeot, meanwhile, lay completely unconscious on the ground in the center of a larger crater.

"Pidgeot is unable to battle." The ref announced as he climbed back on to his podium, having been knocked off from the blast. "Pikachu wins!"

"Great job Pikachu!" Ash called as he rushed on the field and picked up the staggering mouse. "You were completely awesome out there!"

"Pika.." Pikachu grinned at Ash as he climbed out of his trainer's arms and rested on Ash's shoulder.

"Break time huh buddy?" Ash grinned at the mouse. Pikachu nodded.

"You fought well my friend." Riley said as he recalled his Pidgeot. "Take as long as you need to rest." Riley then looked across at Ash. "It's been a very long time since my Pokémon were pushed this hard Ash. It's been quite thrilling, but let this next round end it, yes?"

"Yes." Ash replied as he focused on his opponent. "For the win."

"Come out, Venasaur!" Riley called as he released his very first Pokémon.

"I choose you, Sceptile!" Ash called as his pokeball exploded into white light, releasing his faithful Forest Pokémon.

"So it is to be a brawl between our two grass-types huh?" Riley stated the obvious. "So be it."

"Sceptile Vs. Venasaur. Begin!"

"So..." Max sighed. "In the end, he did decide to go with the team he told us about."

"It would seem that way." Lindsey replied. "I wonder who will come out on top."

"Ash and Sceptile are a strong combination, but Venasaur and Riley won't be an easy team to defeat." Gary stated. "This could go either way."

"Yeah, but even if Ash loses Sceptile, he's still got Pikachu!" Lindsey said confidently.

"No, Lindsey." Gary sighed. "A few years ago I woulda bet money Ash would put Pikachu back in. But he's changed a lot. He knows Pikachu has close to nothing left. He won't take that chance. If Ash and Sceptile are defeated, he'll throw the match. He won't risk having any kind of disaster happening again."

"Ash can win this." May stated with pride. "Just you watch."

"Venasaur use Vine Whip to grab Sceptile!" Riley commanded.

"Sceptile, dodge and get in close!" Ash countered.

Venasaur didn't hesitate as it launched several thick vines at the Forest Pokémon. Sceptile, using all its agility, leaped through the vines, ducking and swerving and got up in front of Venasaur.

"Sceptile use Slam!" Ash called.

Sceptile rammed its shoulder into Venasaur's face as the massive Pokémon slowly stumbled back a few feet.

"Venasaur use Sludge Bomb!" Riley commanded.

"Sceptile use Bullet Seed!" Ash defended.

Venasaur opened its mouth and shot a huge blob of poisonous sludge at Sceptile, who was only a few feet away. Sceptile barely had time to open its own mouth and shoot a rapid-fire of seeds into the sludge. The sludge bomb exploded with the contact and sent a smaller blob slamming into Sceptile's left shoulder. The huge gecko winced in pain as it retreated back to Ash.

"Venasaur use Vine Whip and grab Sceptile this time!" Riley called.

"Sceptile, dodge again!" Ash countered.

Venasaur called out as it released another flurry of several vines at the king of the forest. Sceptile dodged the first assault easily and grinned before it realized the vines weren't done. As the vines came back, Sceptile used all forms of acrobatics it could to dodge the vines and keep them at bay. However, Sceptile was finally caught as one vine smacked the grass-types left leg and tripped it. The vines then grabbed each of Sceptile's limbs, holding him in place.

"Now use Sludge Bomb!" Riley smirked.

"Sceptile can you move at all?" Ash asked his struggling Pokémon.

Sceptile tried to free itself of the strong hold upon it as Venasaur opened its mouth and released a massive poisonous burst into the grass-types face. The poison immediately began to affect the still struggling Forest Pokémon.

Poisoned! Ash thought unhappily. Now this battle will have to go by faster.. "Sceptile use Bullet Seed on Venasaur's face!" Ash ordered.

The gecko immediately sprayed seeds into the larger grass Pokémon's face, causing the Pokémon to loosen its grip in surprise.

"Sceptile get in close!" Ash called as Sceptile rushed Venasaur.

"Venasaur use Vine Whip and catch it before it does anything!" Riley defended.

"Sceptile's poisoned..." Max sighed. "Now Venasaur has the advantage."

"Like it or not Max, Venasaur has had the advantage from the very start." Prof. Oak sighed. "Venasaur's naturally higher defense and poison typing made it a clear favorite for the win."

"But Sceptile's got speed on its side, right Professor?" Misty asked the old man.

"Yes, but speed alone doesn't win a battle." The professor remarked. "Ash has to hit Venasaur some time."

"Why are you all so worried?" Dawn asked. "This is Ash. He can beat just about anyone."

"We'll see." Gary remarked.

Sceptile moved closer and closer as Venasaur released yet another wave of vines.

"That's it!" Ash called to the gecko. "Grab the vines and throw!"

Sceptile grinned as the vines neared. Being only around four or five vines this time, all grouped into the same area, Sceptile somersaulted backwards as it continued to move forward, its legs splitting and its tail slamming into the vines, sending them upwards. The gecko, still somersaulting, grabbed a hold of the vines with both hands as it landed behind Venasaur. Sceptile then used all of its strength and gave the vines a mighty pull. Venasaur was caught off-guard as it felt the tug and its feet left the ground.

Sceptile pulled the vines so hard that Venasaur went over the Forest Pokémon's head and slammed into the ground head first at Sceptile's feet.

"Sceptile, Slam!" Ash called.

Sceptile wasted no time as Venasaur began to rise. Sceptile put all its bodyweight into its attack as it slammed Venasaur back, face first, into the ground.

"Venasaur get up!" Riley called.

"Venasaur!" the huge Pokémon roared in anger as it stood back up. The grass-type was extremely mad as its face and legs looked to be heavily damaged.

"Venasaur, end this with Solarbeam!" Riley shouted.

"Sceptile, overpower it with your own Solarbeam!" Ash retorted.

Venasaur looked dead into Sceptile's eyes as it aimed its flower on its back at the gecko. Sceptile returned the eye contact as the spherical growths on its back began to collect energy. Both Pokémon held completely still as they gathered the sunlight around them into their respective attacks, neither of them blinking.

After they had both completely absorbed all of the sunlight they could, they waited for their trainers words.

"FIRE!" Ash and Riley called together.

"Vena!" Venasaur called as it fired the golden-white beam from its flower.

"Tile!" Sceptile called itself as it too released a golden-white beam of energy from its mouth.

Both attacks moved painfully slow as time seemed to slow down. They collided.

The immense power from both attacks caused the two beams to force shockwaves around the stadium as the two beams fought against each other.

"Venasaur, more power!" Riley called, unhappy about the even match.

"Saur!" Venasaur called as every ounce of its strength blew full force into the beam.

Venasaur's Solarbeam slowly began to inch its way through Sceptile's attack, forcing Sceptile to sweat harder and harder as it struggled. Sceptile fell to one knee as its Solarbeam slowly continued to be overpowered. Sceptile continued its own attack, but to no avail as it felt its greatest and most powerful move being overtaken, bit by bit.

"Sceptile!" Ash called. "I know you've given it everything you have. And I'm so proud! You don't have to cause yourself anymore pain my friend!"

"Scep?" Sceptile questioned as it saw the regret in Ash's eyes. "Sceptile!" the Forest Pokémon shouted at his trainer as he stood back up and refused to give in.

"Hehe. Stubborn as usual." Ash laughed slightly. "Then let's finish this together! Give it everything you've got!"

"SCEPTILE!" The Forest Pokémon roared as it released everything.

Sceptile's beam grew to twice its size as it began a stalemate with Venasaur's attack. Sceptile's Solarbeam then began to overpower Venasaur, Sceptile's attack quickly accumulating the energy from Venasaur's Solarbeam.

"This isn't possible!" Riley shouted over the tremendous roar of the attacks. "We had this won!"

"Tile!" The Forest Pokémon roared as it gave one last push and both Solarbeam's were directed at Venasaur. Venasaur couldn't escape as it took the blast in the face and flew backwards into the wall behind Riley, crashing deep into the stone wall.

"Venasaur!" Riley called as he jumped from his trainer's box and ran to his Pokémon. The dust from the impact cleared to reveal Venasaur fine, but completely unconscious.

"Venasaur is unable to continue! Sceptile wins!" The ref called as he gave his flag one last wave. "Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town is the winner!"

The stands erupted into enormous cheers as Ash ran to greet his now kneeling Forest Pokémon.

"You were phenomenal out there Sceptile!" Ash said to his Pokémon as he knelt down. "We're going on to the fourth round thanks to you buddy."

"Pika!" Pikachu said happily as it greeted Sceptile.

"And of course thanks to you Pikachu." Ash said with a grin to his mouse.

Ash walked over to where Riley stood. Riley recalled Venasaur as he turned to face Ash.

"You gave my Pokémon and I quite the battle, Ash." Riley stated. "You, you Sceptile, Pikachu, everyone. You should all be proud. It's not every day that my Pokémon and I are defeated. And you gave us quite a thrilling battle from the start. For that, I thank you."

"It wasn't easy." Ash stated as he stroked Sceptile's back. "But my friends and my Pokémon convinced me to continue this fight. It's the least I could for my Quilava."

"Speaking of which, how is it?" Riley asked.

"Quilava will recover." Ash stated. "That's what counts."

"I'm glad." Riley said with a smile. "Well, it was an honor. But I must be going. I would love a battle in the future some time, my friend."

"It would be my pleasure." Ash stated happily as he returned to his trainers box. Riley stood in his as the two boxes's lowered through the ground and back to the locker rooms.

"Ash won!" May and Dawn cheered simultaneously.

"Ash was most impressive today." Prof. Oak said happily.

"Makes you wonder how you'll fair if you and him have to battle, doesn't it Max?" Misty said with a grin.

"Ash is good." Max said with a grin. "But I think I can take him if it comes to that."

"So why are we still here folks?" Norman asked. "Let's go congratulate Ash on a hard earned victory."

The group all agreed as they rushed to Ash's locker room, only to find him not there.

"Pokémon Center?" Max asked the group at large.

"Pokémon Center." The group replied as they headed off.

May, Misty, Max, Gary, Norman, Caroline, Ritchie, Lindsey, Dawn, Prof. Oak, Delia and Morrison all entered the Pokémon center to find Brock waiting out in the lobby.

"Hey Brock," Max greeted. "Seen Ash?"

"He's in with Quilava." Brock replied.

The group nodded and waited.

"Hey pal." Ash greeted his fire-type with a smile as he slowly closed the door.

"Lava!" Quilava greeted happily as he tried to stand, felt a sharp pain, then fell back to the bed.

"Don't get up." Ash said softly as he sat in the seat next to his Pokémon. "So, did you see? We won!"

"Lava." Quilava nodded with a smile.

"It was thanks to you buddy." Ash said as he slowly stroked his fire-type's scarred back. "Pikachu and I weren't gonna let you down."

"Pika!" Pikachu said as he sat next to the small Volcano Pokémon.

"You put up more of a fight then I could have ever dreamed buddy." Ash told the Pokémon comfortingly as he continued to stroke him. "If not for you, there's no way we could've won. You were beyond amazing out there."

"Lava?" Quilava asked, as if questioning the truth of Ash's words.

"I'm serious." Ash said with a smile. "I feel so bad for how you ended up buddy... But You were the driving force of the last half of that battle. Knowing you were hurt only made me want to work hard for you. I think Pikachu feels the same."

"Pikachu." Pikachu nodded as he lay down next to the fire-type.

"I just wanted to say, thank you pal." Ash said to Quilava with one more stroke. "You proved every ounce of your strength, and I want you to focus on recovering now. Cause I can't wait to have you back on my team again."

"Lava." Quilava gave a contented nod as he rested his head down, letting his eyes close as he drifted off to sleep. Pikachu quietly got up and followed Ash out of the room.

"Ash!" May called from across the Pokémon center as Ash shut the door behind him. Ash turned just in time to get tackled to the ground.

"Ash you were wonderful out there!" May said happily as she covered Ash in small kisses.

"Awwww... Look at cute little Ashy!" Morrison chuckled.

"Don't mind him." Dawn said with a smile. "He's just jealous that he's going to the ball alone."

"Am not!" Morrison retorted unhappily.

Ash and may laughed as they stood up with their friends.

"Morrison, yes you are." Misty said, as if it were fact. Ash took the time to barely notice that Misty and Ritchie had their hands intertwined.

"Shut up Misty." Morrison sulked.

"Morrison, I'm this close." Misty said, one of her temples twitching.

"Close to what?" Morrison teased. "We can't make out cause your boyfriends he-" Morrison didn't finish as Misty knocked the poor guy flat.

Dawn giggled. "Gary, if you ever act like Morrison, I'll take on Misty as my sensei."

"Duly noted." Gary said with a grin.

"By the way Ash, you were pretty spectacular today." Dawn commented. "Especially considering Riley's Pokémon are the only six he owns."

"What?" Ash asked, baffled. "You mean he's never caught any more than those six? No wonder they were all so powerful..."

"Yep." Dawn said with a smile. "Maybe next time you should read up on your opponent."

Ash rolled his eyes. "I'll consider it."

"Ash!" Delia cut in as she tore Ash out of May's arms and into her own hug. "You were so great! I got so many pictures of the battle!"

Ash took a look at his mother's camera to realize he was staring at pictures of his own Pokémon getting hit by different attacks.

"Mom?" Ash asked. "Why are these all pictures of my Pokémon getting hit?"

Delia was about to answer when Gary cut in. "Cause nothing makes a great picture like one of Ash's Pokémon taking a butt kicking! Ha!" Gary then swiftly fell to the ground next to Morrison as Misty put her hammer away.

"Why are boys so dumb..?" Misty asked Dawn.

"Cause you're constantly killing their brain cells with your hammer?" Dawn replied with a grin.

"That can't be it." Misty replied non-chalantly.

"So..." Ash said as he took May's hand in his while looking at the two crumpled masses on the floor. "Where are we off to now?"

"Oh Ash." Dawn replied with a devilish grin. "Don't you remember what we said we'd do after your match?"

Ash remembered fine. Feign ignorance! There's still a way out of this! Ash's brain yelled at him. "Ice cream?" Ash asked innocently.

"No Ash." Misty grinned. "Shopping."

"Oh no..." Ash sighed. "Uhm, well there are plenty of you lovely ladies." Ash stated as he grabbed Gary and Morrison's crumpled forms. "No need for me to stick around." Ash turned to leave, only to be stopped by Misty. She swung her hammer and woke the two crumpled men.

"OW!" They both whined as they stood.

"What's going on?" Gary asked the terrified Ash.

"Shopping..." Ash groaned the horrible word. Gary and Morrison reflected Ash's terrified look.

"Ash." May said in a sweet voice to her boyfriend. "Don't you wanna go shopping with me, sweetie?"

Ash hung his head in defeat as realized there was no way out. "Yes May..." Ash said sadly.

"Yay!" May squealed as she kissed Ash's cheek.

"Ash!" Morrison whined. "Think of what you're saying! This is a battle we can't win! It's shopping!" Morrison finished, trying to save Ash from his awful choice.

"Maybe it'll be fun." Ash replied as May glared at Morrison.

"We've lost Ash.." Morrison said to Gary. Gary however, was looking at Dawn with her devilish smile.

"Gary you're coming too right?" Dawn asked innocently. "You wouldn't want me to go shopping all by myself, would you? I'd be so sad if you weren't there." Dawn finished with her puppy-dog look.

"I'm going Dawn." Gary replied, equally as sad as Ash.

Max was looking at the exchange curiously. "It's just shopping guys."

Morrison looked at the younger boy in horror. "My God! Has everyone gone over to the dark side?" Morrison then looked at the group of women. "Well you'll never take me alive!"

"Morrison, we'll get cookies." May chided.

"I'm in." Morrison told her with the most serious face.

"That was easier than expected." Misty commented.

"Never," Morrison stated with tremendous seriousness. "Underestimate the true power of cookies."

"Noted." Misty said. "You coming?" Misty asked the adults and Brock.

"No, I think we'll go have dinner." Norman stated, looking nervous.

The adults all agreed. "I think I'll go eat dinner with them if you don't mind." Brock said as he happily walked off with the adults.

"That leaves just us." Ash commented.

Nurse Joy then came over. "Did I hear you saying you wanted to go shopping?" The girls all nodded. "Well, Evergrand does have a fantastic mall near Main Street ya know."

"Thanks!" Misty said happily. "I think we'll visit."

"And now," Dawn said happily as she led the way out of the Pokémon Center. "We shop!"

"Arceus help us..." Morrison sighed as the group followed Dawn into the streets of Evergrand.

Well, that's Chapter 21 everybody! I hope ya'll liked it!

A few new developments this chapter. Quilava takes quite the beating and is done for the tournament. I was kinda hoping to get through the shopping scene in this chapter, but this chapter seemed to go for far longer than I was expecting.

Anyways, the shopping scene will definitely take place next chapter. Also, our little conspiracy will start to take form next chapter, so look forward to that.

Anyways, keep those reviews coming! R&R Everybody!