This is the final installment of Against All Odds, the longest story I have ever written in my entire life. So I feel obligated to thank some people for helping me come through with it. Thanks to Yorun, Cygnadex, Mo, Aura, Suicune245, and Wolfwings for taking the time to read the manuscripts. Thanks to Carbonite4 for letting me use the infamous Kamon, and for letting Jason make a cameo in Kamon's Quest. Special thanks to Star Wolf; without your input and encouragement, this story would probably be gathering cobwebs in my computer files. My heartfelt thanks to everyone and anyone who made the time to read and review; you have no idea how much you've encouraged me.

Dedicated to everyone who ever used minutes and hours of their precious lives to read a story I never thought would go this far.

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Jason Creight wished desperately that this was a nightmare, so that he might awaken from it, as he had so many other times. His mind screamed denial, even as Travis Johnson, bearing a Rocket uniform and a Rocket attitude, sneered at the paraplegic Pokemon master.

Johnson apparently chose not to hide his ability any longer, grinning at the thoughts going through Jason's head. "Oh, no, my friend, this is no dream. This is as real as it gets. And it's unavoidable, too, since I've got your Pokedex and the information you need." His grin spread. "In fact, instead of battling you for it, which would be an extraordinary waste of time, I could just destroy it right now."

His fingers clenched around the plated piece of delicate technology, Jason's only hope, and the casing began to make a crackling noise.

A horrible image of Kelly dying a thousand different horrible deaths roared thorugh Jason's mind, and his fear for her screamed even louder. It was so evident, so raw, that Johnson couldn't help but hear it all. He heard every single one of Jason's thoughts... and looked visibly shaken by them.

"My God," he uttered, his fingers relaxing. "You really do care about her... I had no idea... you..."

Somewhere in the back of Jason's mind, he realized that if Johnson could be shaken by thoughts of terror, perhaps another strong emotion might get him to relax even more... an emotion like anger...

"You love her..."

And then Jason let loose a mental barrage of violence, showing Johson the deepest, darkest pits of his mind, tucked away in a place only his nightmares would dare reach. He reached there now, showing Johnson every dark thought and impulse he'd ever had. He brought everything to the forefront, laying it all out bare and nonlinear, fragments intersecting with other fragments, thoughts with other thoughts, showing his enemy a nightmarish kaleidescope of chaos, letting out his raw, unbridled rage for Johnson to see...

Jason's face contorted into a maniac smile of black satisfaction as the effect of his thoughts became evident. Johnson's eyes bugged out, and even in the cool breeze of the night, beads of sweat popped out all over his face and hands. His breathing became ragged and raspy. His knees began to buckle under not only his own weight, but the imagined weight of everything Jason was heaving at him. His body began to tremble.

His fingers spasmed open...

And he dropped the Pokedex.

Jason took the chance -- *it's the only one I've got* -- and grabbed Gengar's capture ball, enlarging it and tossing it in one swift motion. Gengar, fully rested and restored after a session at the Pumello Island Pokemon Center, beheld the psychic human with its glowing red eyes and savage grin.

"Forget him!" Jason shouted. "The Pokedex--!"

Gengar understood and telekinetically directed the fallen device back to its master's hand. Jason quickly shoved the machine under him, knowing that it could withstand his weight and hoping Johnson's power wasn't such that he could wrench it away again.

Johnson's Ditto, meanwhile, had taken it upon itself to use Transform, turning itself into a mirror image of Gengar.

*Great. No resistance to Psychic attacks.* "Gengar, Psybeam!"

Gengar unleashed a stream of energy on the psychic level, slamming into Ditto's copied midsection. Ditto crumpled under the assault. It responded with a Psybeam of its own, but the attack was so slow in coming that Gengar easily dodged it.

Johnson, meanwhile, had recovered from Jason's mental lashes. He glared at the paraplegic master. "Don't think this is over, Jason. I still know your secret, and trust me when I say I'll leak it to everyone I can find. They'll eat it up and you'll be put away for life."

"Keep talking. Gengar, Hypnosis!"

Gengar complied instantly, screaming on a frequency Jason couldn't hear and thus, couldn't be affected by.

But Ditto and its master could both hear it. Johnson cried out, clamping his hands over his ears and falling to the ground. Ditto wasn't nearly as dramatic; its eyes simply snapped shut and it fell over.

"Dream Eater!"

Gengar floated in, clamping its jaws over Ditto's "head". The teeth passed straight through. It pulled back, and the visual effect was somehting akin to watching Ditto's head being strained; no damage had been done to Ditto in any physical sense, but damage had been done, nonetheless.

Johnson moaned... the Hypnosis hadn't taken full effect on him, but he looked dizzy from the attack. He stumbled to his feet and recalled Ditto. "This isn't over 'til the fat lady sings, Jason. Go, Scizor!"

Jason shook his head. "She's warming up, Johnson. Gengar, return! Charizard, let's provide a little backup for that fat lady!"

Charizard exploded out of its capture ball and bared its razor-sharp teeth at Johnson's Scizor, ready for any action.

"Scizor, Steel Claw!"

"Charizard, Fire Blast!"

Scizor's claws didn't even get close to hitting. Charizard's symbol figure of fire screamed through the air and engulfed Scizor in its intense, searing heat.

It fell backward to the force of the attack, crying out in a rough, metallic voice.

It didn't rise.

Johnson growled. "Scizor, return! Rhydon, show that Charizard!"

Jason shook his head. "You're losing it, Johnson. Charizard has a resistance to Ground types. Charizard, Aeroblast!"

Charizard opened its mouth and let loose a fierce, gargantuan yellow beam of helized energy, spinning and corkscrewing around itself, pummeling into Rhydon at full power. Rhydon roared and was thrown back into a bank of boulders close to the sandbar. The sound of its body hitting the boulders reverbrated across the beach.

Rhydon moaned for a moment... then its shoulders slumped against the rocks.

It had been taken down by an attack it wasn't even weak to.

Jason allowed a small, ironic smile to cross his features. "Let me guess. Giovanni gave those Pokemon to you, telling you they were among his best. Shame that he likes to cheat people. He never doles out his best Pokemon; those are for him and him only. You should've known better."

Johnson looked as if he felt defeated, yet he still had a trace of arrogance in him that was made clear by his eyes. They reflected a personality that wasn't used to losing.

"I'm a Pokemon master, Johnson. Surely you didn't actually think you could win in a battle. Probably why you tried to break my Pokedex."

"It's not over yet," Johnson responded.

His remaining three capture balls floated off his belt by way of his power, hung in midair for a moment, then enlarged and opened in place.

Three neon bolts shot out and arced to the ground, revealing a Kangaskhan, a Nidoking, and a Tyranitar.

Jason showed no physical reaction to these, although upon sight of the Tyranitar, he began revising what he'd said to Johnson. After all, there was no way to evolve a Pupitar or a Larvitar against its will, which meant this one had the levels to live up to its name.

*As for the Kangaskhan and Nidoking,* he thought, *small potatoes.*

He watched Johnson, who was grinning smugly behind his team. "Beat that."

Jason shrugged. "Have it your way."

And with that statement, he pulled out the rest of his team: Gengar, Ampharos, Gyarados, Steelix, and Dragonite. One by one, they hit the ground and stared down their three opponents.

Jason looked between them. "Odds are two to one in my favor. More so, since Nidoking is weak to fire. Charizard, Fire Blast! Gyarados, use Hydro Pump, and Ampharos, use Thunder!"

Three different elemental attacks occurred all at once. Charizard conjured another figure of flame that split the distance between it and Nidoking. Nidoking was consumed by the flame and roared in pain. Gyarados blasted a pressurized, power-packed mass of water at Tyranitar, hosing it down. Tyranitar, susceptible to that sort of attack, advanced on Gyarados, but it was pushed backward by Ampharos's Thunder attack, screaming down from the dark sky.

Kangaskhan remained untouched and started in on Jason's team. It seemed to pick Dragonite as a good target, and advanced on it.

"Dragonite, Hyper Beam!"

Dragonite opened its mouth wide and let loose a red beam of energy, smashing into Kangaskhan and tossing it into the fainted body of Nidoking.

"Steelix, Earthquake!"

Steelix's metal tail rose into the air and slammed down with the force of a meteor, directing the shock directly at the still-stumbling Tyranitar. Tyranitar fell back and roared, though it was far from defeated.

"Tyranitar, Hyper Beam!"

Tyranitar rolled onto its side and released its own energized attack. The beam speared Steelix and knocked it back. Its tail dragged through the dirt and sand, and it growled in determination not to lose.

"Gyarados, return the favor!"

Gyarados fired a third red stream of energy across the distance, striking Tyranitar as it attempted to rise from its ignominious position on the ground. It skidded across the dirt as Steelix had, and it roared even more loudly than it had before.

"Charizard, Fire Blast! Ampharos, Thunder!"

Charizard and Ampharos concerted their efforts; Charizard's flame figure hit Tyranitar at exactly the same moment as Ampharos's Thunder attack. Between the two elements, Tyranitar couldn't maintain its defenses, and it crumpled.

Jason looked pointedly at Johnson. "Note: I indulged you in that little fight, since I already have the Pokedex. I could have just left, and your Pokemon would still be conscious."

"I still know your secret," Johnson said, his grin returning. "I can still release it."

"In that case, I'll just have to put Gengar to use."

Johnson's eyes grew wide and furious. "No!!"

He reached out with his power and created a mystical hand. It wrapped around Jason's throat in a vicelike grip.

Jason couldn't draw a breath of air. He clawed at his throat, and his eyes landed on Gengar.

Gengar had already understood what Jason wanted it to do, but its first obligation was to its master. It used its power to overcome the grip on Jason's throat, opening it up. Jason gasped in deep lungfuls of air.

Gengar then performed a Hypnosis on Johnson, knowing what the effect would be.

"NO!" Johnson screamed, clamping his hands over his ears.

But Gengar's attack was too powerful this time, and it was totally concentrated on him, instead of his Pokemon. It insinuated itself into his mind, commanding him to sleep.

But Gengar wasn't finished. Johnson had attacked Jason with his power, and that couldn't be allowed to happen ever again. It had learned from Jason to be brutal when it must, and this fell into Gengar's jurisdiction.

And it wouldn't let Johnson hurt anyone else.

Jason was the last straw.

Gengar reached out, took the whole of Johnson's mind into its clawed hand...

And clenched the hand shut.

And squeezed.

Hard.

Johnson's body went into convulsions. He foamed at the mouth, his tongue whipping out and all around. His fingers were flying faster than the eye could see, and he was babbling incoherently.

Gengar was crushing his mind.

And once it was finished, he would be a helpless vegetable for the rest of his life.

Jason realized what Gengar was doing. "Gengar, no! Stop!"

But, not for the first time in its life, Gengar wouldn't listen.

Its red eyes glowed brighter than ever before, raw psychic energy flowing out of them, making it look as if Gengar's eyes were on fire.

And, in a way, they were.

It wouldn't be stopped.

This was Johnson's penance. For antagonizing Jason publicly and privately, for all the innuendo and threats, both all those years ago and now...

Johnson cried out once more, the sound nearly inhuman, echoing across the island.

And then he simply stopped. Stopped moving, stopped shrieking.

He was totally silent. Motionless.

Jason was stunned. What Gengar had just done was tantamount to murder.

Johnson wouldn't be able to do anything now. Absolutely nothing.

Everything he'd ever learned, memorized, known, loved, hated... it was all gone. Gengar had wiped his memory clean.

"Gengar... how could you do that to him?" Jason whispered.

Gengar turned around and faced its master. It knew that "disappointment" could hardly describe what Jason was feeling right now. Its expression was one of sorrow and regret. It knew what it had done was wrong, by any moral standard.

It wondered if Jason would ever forgive it.

And Jason wondered the same thing.

He sighed. "Pick him up. We'll take him to the hospital."

Gengar nodded somberly. It turned and raised Johnson into the air.

***

Thankfully, Jason didn't have to stick around the hospital for long. The doctors took Johnson in to see what was wrong with him, and Jason told Officer Jenny that they'd found Johnson there on the ground when they'd come across him. She accepted the story and let Jason go on his way.

Jason took his Pokemon back to the Pokemon Center. Nurse Joy was surprised, as he'd only had them healed a couple of hours ago, but she took them in anyway and took care of them.

While the Pokemon were being healed and restored, Jason waited in the lobby and accessed his Pokedex. He opened the consolidated encrypted file, and applied the cipher to it.

The file read:

"Hey, little bro. I'm surprised you're reading this. Must have been tough. I imagine there was a lot of failure and heartbreak involved. Better come to Jidos Island quickly, or there'll be even more. Don't worry about Johnson; he's not going to watch you anymore, so do what you want with him. Hell, even if you do come here, there'll still be heartbreak and failure. I look forward to it, believe me. I think your girlfriend here does, too. She's pretty. And likable... until I had to take care of her back in Pallet Town, remember? Shame it had to turn out that way; I kind of liked her. Still do, as a matter of fact. Which is more than I can say for you at this moment. She's mine now, kiddo, so you'd best get used to it before you get here. It might be unsettling for you to see her eating out of the palm of my hand. I'll bet right about now that you want to bite the hand that feeds her. Come to Jidos if you want to have it your way. And come alone, or she'll get more than you bargained for."

Jason ground his teeth. Daniel was trying to make him mad, and he knew it. What's more, the man was succeeding, and that was unsettling.

He heard a crackling sound, and realized belatedly that he was crushing the Pokedex in his hand. He relaxed and carefully put the Pokedex in his vest pocket. His legs were tingling, worse than ever now. It was the pins and needles sensation he got whenever he slept on his arm.

His PokeGear began to ring.

Jason nearly jumped out of his chair. He calmed down, brought his wrist up, and answered the call. The caller ID said *Saffron City Hospital.* "Hello?"

"Jason, this is Dr. Kendrick. I hope I didn't wake you up."

Jason sighed. "No, Doctor, you didn't."

"I have some news about your condition."

"Then let's hear it."

"Have you been feeling tingling in your legs?"

Jason raised an eyebrow. "Yes. Feeling it right now, as a matter of fact. It's pretty distracting, too."

"It's not phantom limb syndrome. The sensation is real. You're actually feeling that."

"I should hope so, Doctor, because nothing irritates me more than feeling something I'm not feeling."

Kendrick chuckled, but his voice became somber. "However, that is really the only good news I have for you at the moment. I would prefer to talk to you here..."

"It isn't going to happen for a while yet, Doctor, so whatever you have to say, I would prefer that you get on with it and let me deal with it. I'm near a hospital anyway."

Jason could hear Kendrick sigh. "Very well. From those last scans we performed, it doesn't look good. Your legs are regaining the ability to feel, but certain nerves just couldn't be reconnected... including some that are vital to moving your lower legs. Your upper legs are apparently fine, but the lower ones... they show much, much less response to any stimuli."

"Get to the point, please, Doctor. Are you saying I won't be able to walk again?"

"There is only a very slim possibility. With the right physical therapy, you would have no problem standing under your own power, but walking... I'm afraid that the odds are heavy against you."

Jason scoffed. "I'm used to being against the odds."

"Yes, well, as I said, these odds are heavy. In my professional opinion, I don't believe you will regain the ability to walk. Stand, that's actually likely. But not walk."

Jason sighed. "Don't worry, Doctor. I won't shed tears over it. I'm used to the chair by now. You did your best. Now all that's left is to see how it turns out."

"True enough. To that effect, I would like to see you as soon as possible."

"I'll schedule a visit when I'm finished here," Jason promised. "Goodbye, Doctor."

"Goodbye."

Jason ended the call and glanced up at the front desk. His Pokemon needed another five minutes or so, according to the electronic schedule hanging over the desk.

He sighed and turned back to his PokeGear. The *Saffron City Hospital* display was still on the screen. He frowned as he realized something.

Jason input Adam's PokeGear number. On the second ring, the receiving Gear answered. "Jason?"

"Yeah, it's me."

"We got Professor Oak out, did you hear?"

"Yes, I heard. I also hear that you took care of Giovanni as a threat. I can't begin to thank you enough for that."

"Don't mention it. Where are you?"

"Pumello Island. I've defeated Drake and I know where Kelly is being held. She and Daniel are on Jidos Island."

"Where is that?"

"East of here by about thirty miles."

"Are you going there now?"

"No, I'm healing my Pokemon. I'll be going there as soon as Nurse Joy's finished."

"Should I come along?"

"Daniel wants me to come alone. Otherwise..."

"You don't need to tell me," Adam responded quietly. "Is there anything I can do?"

Jason sighed. "At this point, I don't know. It's pretty clear what'll happen if Daniel gets the last laugh. We can't let that happen."

"I can stay out of sight, if you want me to come along after all."

"I think that may be the best option. You sure you can stay out of sight? It's not just Daniel, I'll bet. I'd bet it's also Pokemon keeping a lookout."

"I can do it," Adam assured. "I'll get going."

"How's Oak?"

"He's fine. A bit shaken up, but fine. You ought to see Giovanni trying to explain all the crap he's got in the complex where Viridian's gym is. I think the Officer Jenny there wants to see him sweat. And he's certainly doing that."

Jason chuckled. "Great. Giovanni doesn't know me, and he's got his own trouble to tend to. That's a fun little switch. Probably the first time in my life he doesn't know who I am. What about Amanda?"

"She's still on the high we got from the adrenaline rush of being in there. We both have a lot of explaining to do ourselves, but we can manage it. We told them we were passing by when my troublemaking Espeon used its power to find out where the most havoc was happening, and we had to chase it down."

"Ah. Well, then, I'd say you've got it all well in hand," said Jason. He scratched at his developing facial hair. "Listen, my Pokemon are almost finished. I'm going to go right when they're done, so if you come, it'd better be pretty quick. I don't know if your Pidgeot can fly that fast."

"It'll make it, don't worry. Are you all right? You sound tired."

"I'm lots of things right now, Adam. I'll deal with it. Just get here and pray that everything'll turn out all right."

"Right."

They hung up, and Jason watched his schedule tick down to zero. Nurse Joy came out right on time with his Pokemon. "Mr. Creight?"

Jason approached the desk. "Thanks, Nurse Joy."

"Thanks for coming," Nurse Joy responded.

As she watched Jason go, she sighed. "Nice guy."

***

Jason released Dragonite from its capture ball. It looked down at him. [You don't want Charizard to take you there?]

Jason shook his head. "You've been such a great help to me. I'm confident in Charizard, make no mistake. That's not why I chose you. When you and I first met, you told me that your parents were Dragonites themselves. Captured, to be trained. And you told me that you wanted wings. You told me that you wanted to fly, see the world from a whole new place. Well, here's your chance."

Dragonite's blazing blue eyes were filled with gratitude. [Thank you...]

Jason climbed atop Dragonite's back and secured his wheelchair around its huge neck. It slowly took to the air, unsure at first, but becoming more confident by the second as it rose up and started toward Jason's final destination.

***

Adam still cared about Kelly. In a platonic way, of course; he'd already chosen who he'd wanted to spend the rest of his life with, and right now, he and that soul mate were sharing a tight hug.

It didn't change the way he cared about Kelly. It had been a crush, a fancy, nothing really any more than that. And now, he was over it. But on his list of last things he wanted to see, seeing Kelly get hurt ranked somewhere in the top two.

They shared a long, passionate kiss. Adam didn't know any other moment in his life when he'd been so content... embracing and kissing a beautiful woman, showing how much he loved and cared for her.

The only spoiler was that it was a goodbye kiss.

They pulled gently out of the hug. Amanda looked into the pools of his gray eyes. "Come back to me."

"I'd want nothing more," Adam responded. "No more adventuring after this. Just settling down... getting married... having our quiet life..."

She nodded. "And all this will be behind us."

Adam smiled. "You bet."

He called out his Pidgeot and climbed on its back. He glanced one more time at Amanda. "Count on it."

Adam and Pidgeot took off, streaking through the sky to find Jidos Island.

***

She had long ago stopped begging him to release her. She knew that there was no way he was going to do that. She'd figured that out pretty quickly, but it hadn't stopped her from trying.

*And God knows I've tried to get away,* she thought despairingly.

But she hadn't made it. He'd caught her every time... and he'd doled out what he'd considered appropriate punishment each time. To him, it was simple punishment. To her, it was torture.

Which only proved his sadism, his insanity. He was a wild animal now, impossible to be tamed. It was evident in his eyes and manner, although his exterior implied otherwise, with his well-kempt appearance and costly designer clothing. He wore all black, no matter the outfit... with the exception of his silver-plated watch, which gleamed brightly in whatever light it could catch.

Her stomach had stopped growling the day before. She was sure it had shrunk to nothing now, and she didn't know how much longer she could last before she passed out from lack of food. The only nutrition he'd provided her was water, stating that he shouldn't spend too much money on a dead woman's appetite.

*If I don't eat soon, I *will* be a dead woman,* she thought miserably.

*Jason, where are you?*

***

Dragonite was moving faster than even Jason would have expected. The wind whipped as his face and slid through his dark hair. A bug could put an eye out at this speed... then again, bugs didn't fly at this altitude.

He leaned close to Dragonite. "Dragonite, take it easy! Find your way into a slipstream, otherwise you'll be fighting the wind for nothing and you might lose your passenger!"

Dragonite glanced over its broad wings. [My apologies,] it remarked. It maneuvered swiftly through the air and soon found a stream in their favor.

The wear and tear of the flight became significantly lessened for Jason. The wind stopped blowing so harshly, and Jason breathed a small sigh of relief. "It's best to find a stream going the direction you are. It gets us there faster."

[I will remember that.]

Jason smiled tightly at Dragonite's innocent determination.

The sun was beginning to rise on the horizon. Small streaks of orange light were shooting across the purple-gray sky, making for a rather mottled, yet strangely beautiful sight.

Jason closed his eyes for a few moments.

All he could see was Kelly.

He thought about what Johnson had said.

*"You love her..."*

Did he? Did he really love her?

Johnson, who had been one of the least lovable people Jason had ever known, had said it. He'd said it in surprise... in awe and wonder. And he'd said it with a degree of certainty.

Did that mean that Jason had finally learned what love was for him?

*I hope so. The last thing I want is to rescue Kelly, only to find out that...*

He couldn't even complete the thought.

Because they were closing in on Jidos Island.

[Barely habitable,] Dragonite noted. [For humans or Pokemon.]

And indeed it was. The entire island looked like a giant boulder cleaved in half, the cut side facing upward. There were hills of rock and infertile dirt, and really not much else. If Adam was already here, it would be tough for him to hide. Perhaps too tough.

But if he wasn't here, that would mean Jason had to face Daniel on his own.

And as much as he didn't want to do that, he knew that every minute Kelly stayed with Daniel was a minute too many.

Jason shook his head. "We can't wait any longer. Let's get down there. I'll bet Daniel's just waiting for me to show myself. I'm going to put you back in your ball as soon as we land."

[Very well.]

Moments later, Dragonite alighted on the rocky terrain. Jason climbed into his wheelchair, then returned Dragonite to its capture ball and moved cautiously across the area. He didn't know what to expect; he'd not seen any cabins, houses, or anything of the sort from the sky, so he wasn't even sure if this was another wild goose chase for Daniel to lead him on.

Jason scoffed miserably. *That'd be just like you, wouldn't it, Daniel? Ensure that you follow through with that revenge plot you've got in your sick, twisted mind by sending me somewhere else. If that's what it is, I guarantee you won't live through what I'll have in store for you...*

Suddenly, Jason realized what he was thinking. *Oh, no. Not the Creight mindset. Don't become like him, whatever you do. No one deserves death... not even Daniel...*

But somewhere in the back of Jason's mind, he knew with absolute certainty that only one of them would walk away from this encounter... no matter what mindsets they had.

"Daniel!" he shouted, hoping that his estranged brother could hear him. "I'm here! Come out from whatever rock you're hiding under!"

Jason looked all around him, listened for something, anything...

He received no reply.

He sighed and continued moving through the nothingness of this island.

***

She was rudely awakened by his entrance, gray light pouring in through the opening.

He landed lightly in front of her and grinned wickedly. "Hey, beautiful. It's showtime. And you're one of the stars."

She stared at him, her eyes widening as she realized what he meant.

*He's here!*

He slugged her across the temple, and she dropped like a ninepin.

"There we go," he muttered, crouching down and rearranging her bonds appropriately.

It wouldn't do to have her trying to escape again.

After all, there was no escape.

Not for her.

Not for Jason.

***

Jason found himself in the uncomfortable position of trying to circle the rocky area in his wheelchair, a bumpy and daunting task. Rocks kept sticking to his wheels, making him thankful he wore bike gloves to move around.

"Daniel!" he shouted again.

"Jason!"

Jason nearly jumped out of his wheelchair at the response, and his gaze shot straight up.

Adam was there on his Pidgeot, waving down at him.

Jason glared up at him, his heart rate still increasing over the unexpected company. "You could be seen up there!"

"There aren't any Pokemon out on this island! Not even your brother is on the surface!"

"Don't be so sure! I knew a guy who used his Ditto to disguise himself!"

Adam saluted. "I'll be careful! Hold on, I'm going to circle around, see if I can find anything!"

"And what if you come across Daniel?"

"Then I'll tell him I'm just a trainer looking for people to battle!" Adam lifted higher into the air and flew towards the other side of the island.

Jason scoffed. *As immaturely eager as he's acting, I'd bet Daniel would believe it. Not that he wouldn't try to take care of Adam, anyway.*

But Adam was already gone.

Jason sighed. *Impossible man.*

***

Adam and his Pidgeot flew high above the island, searching for something, anything, any clue as to whether Daniel and Kelly were here or not. All either of them could see was rocks and dirt.

Then there was a blinding flash of light. Adam had to look away form it to avoid burning his eyes... even then, he squinted.

When he glanced back down, he saw that where there had been nothing before, there were now two human figures almost directly below. One was male, the other female. The male was dressed in black pants and a matching black turtleneck, and sported a silver watch on his left wrist. The female's clothes looked as if they had once been pajamas, having since been violently torn and ripped all over.

The male was standing, but the female was lying on the ground. She appeared to be unconscious.

Adam squinted, silently guiding Pidgeot just a little closer.

The female had long brown hair, and was bound and gagged.

*That's Kelly,* Adam thought with absolute certainty, *which means that's Daniel. Time to get him back.*

Adam didn't even think about what he was doing. He simply did it.

He swung his leg across Pidgeot and leapt off its back, falling nearly fifty feet...

And landed almost on top of Daniel.

Daniel cried out in surprise and pain at the unexpected assault. Adam had landed feet-first, turning his fall into a devastating kick that threw Daniel nearly ten feet across the rocky ground.

Daniel wasn't the only one who came into contact with pain. Adam had cushioned his landing against Daniel's back, but he had still dropped at a considerable rate. He hit the ground on his side, and he heard and felt something crunch. It was far from a pleasant experience.

Adam groaned, trying to get to his feet... and then he felt something tugging at his artificial left leg. He looked up, to see that Daniel had gotten back to his feet surprisingly quickly, a trickle of dark blood flowing from his mouth, grinning sadistically, gripping Adam's foot in both hands.

He twisted the foot to one side quickly. If it had been a real foot, his maneuver would have shattered it... but it wasn't real.

Daniel frowned, confused.

Adam used what little muscle he had for his right leg and sent it to meet Daniel's nose.

Daniel fell back again.

And he took Adam's prosthetic with him, wrenching it clear off.

"Damn," Adam muttered, and he clambered forward, now only having a leg and a half to work with. Sharp rocks pressed uncomfortably into his stump as he tried to retrieve the prosthetic.

Daniel stared unbelievingly at the titanium limb for a moment, enough time for Adam to try and pull it out of his grasp.

But Jason's crazed brother regained his senses at the last second and struck out with the rod, shoving it into the pit of Adam's stomach. Adam keeled over, gasping.

Daniel grabbed the lapels of Adam's dark overcoat and cracked his head against Adam's temple in a vicious headbutt.

Adam's head snapped back, then lolled to the side, his eyes closed.

Daniel ground his teeth, his entire face contorted in fury, and he gave Adam another hard hit to the stomach. Adam dropped to the ground, completely breathless and unconscious.

Daniel reached down and yanked hard at Adam's other foot.

That leg came out, as well, leaving no support for Adam.

Daniel folded the leg and threw both of Adam's prosthetics towards the nearest sandbar, coming to rest halfway in water.

Adam's Pidgeot came sweeping down from its neutral flight pattern, outraged at this attack on its master.

Daniel pulled out his own capture ball and instructed his Pokemon to deal with Pidgeot accordingly.

A moment later, Pidgeot dropped senseless to the ground.

Daniel looked down at Adam and shook his head, much in the same manner as a teacher scolding a student. "Jason, you really should fight your own battles. Now I'm just gonna have to kill them both."

He rubbed his hands in anticipation. "Showtime, kiddo."

"Then let's get the show on the road."

Daniel whirled around.

Jason was a battlefield's distance from him, a look of determination laced with righteous anger and outright fury on his face. His eyes burned with intensity.

A smile began to cross Daniel's features.

This was it.

***

He'd heard noises of a fight going on, and he's moved as quickly as he could to investigate. Jason had seen the last of the beating Daniel had administered to Adam, just as he was coming around the bend.

*This has to stop. And it's going to stop right here, right now.*

"I'm taking you down, Daniel," he said. It was a simple statement, spoken with no emotion whatsoever... it was as if Jason were discussing the weather. As if performing this action would be trivial.

As if he knew it for a fact.

"Wrong, kiddo," Daniel said, his grin full of confident pomposity. "It's my turn this time. You had your chance twice before, and you could do it either of those times. Now I get my chance to repay you for everything you've done."

"I did what I needed to. I did what was best for the Pokemon, and for the world."

"And the worst for our family. You have no idea how much suffering you caused for us after you left. Coward."

"Well, since we're here now, give me a hint."

Daniel's smile had long since turned to a hideous scowl. "Fine, here's your hint. Mom died of a broken heart after we lost so much money, figuring she'd lost you, as well. And Dad? He was with those Tentacruel that caused you to become the freak you are today."

Jason gaped at his brother. "You're saying... *my own father* wanted to kill me?"

"Oh, no, not kill you, just punish you. But no, you decided to use a Raichu to clear the Tentacruel away, and look how smart that was. All they did was use Supersonic... your Raichu's electricity is what turned you into a cripple. And what killed all those Tentacruel. And Dad along with them."

Jason's breath became short. "My own orders killed Dad?"

"At the core of it all, *you* killed Dad. And you may as well have killed Mom. So I'm simply avenging their deaths upon their murderer." Daniel sneered at Jason. "How does it feel, kiddo, to be a killer?"

Jason's head shot back up. "I would have asked the same about you back in Pallet Town, if you'd gone through with your plan."

"Speaking of, I still don't know how you figured it out." Daniel cocked his head to one side. "We've got all eternity, Jason. You might as well spill the beans."

"Spill yours first. Kelly had better be alive."

"Why would I go to the trouble of tying up a dead woman? It costs money for the resources I'd have needed."

Jason scoffed. "Since when did you become a spendthrift?"

"Since I had to file for bankruptcy, because I was supposedly the last of our bloodline. Our corporation's long dead, and it's all thanks to you."

"Compared to what might have happened to living, breathing creatures, I'll gladly take the credit for that."

"There's a switch. You sure didn't seem happy about revealing yourself to anyone else. Even now. I hear Giovanni's out of the loop because this guy here used a Psychic on him. Now he doesn't know a thing, and he doesn't have a single record." Daniel seemed to strike on something else. "By the way, whatever happened to your old friend, Travis Johnson?"

"He's out of the loop, too," said Jason, "and for the same reason."

Daniel's eyebrows shot up, then back down. "Shame. He was such a nice guy, too. Guess he won't be needing the money anymore."

"He knew you tried to double-cross him."

Daniel bobbed his head. "I can appreciate his ability to figure things out. Probably what I'll miss most about him. But I'll bet he never saw what I have planned for you."

"And he didn't see my plans for you, either," Jason responded, slowly reaching for a capture ball. "I guess that means we'll have to figure it out for ourselves."

"Just what I had in mind," Daniel responded, going for a capture ball of his own.

Jason pulled his capture ball just as Daniel pulled his. Both balls were lobbed high into the air, and a pair of neon bolts shot out.

Jason's eyes burned just looking at them. He clenched them tightly shut for a second, then opened them again. He was getting tired; his sleep periods had been infrequent and uneven.

Daniel had a Feraligatr.

Jason had Gengar.

"Not leading with Gyarados," Daniel noted. "Perhaps you're just preparing it for the shock of seeing me again. Feraligatr, Crunch!"

"Gengar, Hypnosis!"

Feraligatr advanced on Gengar with unbelievable speed, moving faster than Jason would have thought possible... and made its attack happen first. Its huge jaws clamped over Gengar's semi-solid body before it could turn into mist, as it had done before.

Jason frowned. *This could be trouble. Hopefully not all of his Pokemon are that fast.*

Gengar returned the favor by screeching on the psychic plane. Feraligatr's eyelids drooped, looking drowsy.

It toppled to the side.

"Gengar, Dream Eater!"

Gengar floated in and clamped its jaws shut over Feraligatr's head, then "strained" it with metaphysical teeth rather than its real ones. Feraligatr shuddered, taking damage.

"Feraligatr, wake up!" Daniel shouted.

Feraligatr's eyes blinked rapidly, and it stumbled to its feet, trying to recover.

"Gengar, Psybeam!"

"Feraligatr, Ice Beam!"

Feraligatr opened its mouth and let loose a blindingly white beam of frozen energy just as Gengar formed a multicolored ball of psychic energy between its hands. The beams hit each other, and there was an explosion contained within the beams. Both Pokemon took damage and flew backward from the force of the hit.

Jason took his chance. "Gengar, return! Go, Ampharos! Thunder!"

Daniel glared. "Cheater. Feraligatr, Ice Punch!"

Ampharos conjured the tower of lightning before Feraligatr could make its strike... the lightning wreathed the Water-type Pokemon in its devastating hold, and Feraligatr croaked out a protest.

But it still came through with its attack, its fist wreathed in white vapor as it froze and pounded Ampharos.

Ampharos still stood proud, though; it wasn't planning on going down anytime soon.

"Ampharos, Thunder Punch!"

"Feraligatr, Crunch!"

Feraligatr used its insane speed again to clamp its jaws around Ampharos's neck. It was cutting off the Electric-type Pokemon's air.

*No fair!* Jason thought.

But before he could even think up a complaint about the cheat Daniel had just employed, Ampharos was already back on the offensive, powering up its fist with a huge charge of electricity. It bashed into Feraligatr's belly, sparks flying in all directions from the hit.

Feraligatr's jaws spasmed open just long enough for Ampharos to break free. Feraligatr stumbled back, pained, and Ampharos moved back as well, gasping for breath.

"Ampharos, another Thunder!"

"Feraligatr, Hydro Pump!"

The Hydro Pump attack sprayed from Feraligatr's mouth just as Ampharos called its strongest attack, The lightning streaked down and struck Feraligatr once again as the water smashed into Ampharos with the force of a boulder, knocking it back and to the ground.

Ampharos was down for the count.

So was Feraligatr.

"Ah. Tie game," Daniel noted lightly, returning Feraligatr to its capture ball. "Ready for another round, little bro?"

"Bring it on," Jason growled.

They tossed their next choices high, and another pair of neon bolts greeted them.

Jason's Steelix vs. Daniel's Machamp.

"Steelix, Dig!"

"Machamp, Mega Punch!"

Steelix's steel tail whirred as it began to dig itself a hole in the rocky terrain, as Machamp rushed forward, its four fists glowing with boulder-crushing power.

Steelix got itself into the hole before Machamp could execute its attack.

Daniel waved his hand. "Fine, then do it when it gets up here!"

Jason watched the field warily, waiting for Steelix to burst through. And it did so, quite violently, directly underneath Machamp's bare feet. Chunks of rock and dirt exploded outward in every direction, raining down on the combatants and their trainers.

Machamp soared through the air and came to land near the razored end of Steelix's tail. It got to its feet in one quick acrobatic move, then struck the metal Pokemon as it had intended before, using all four of its power-packed fists.

Steelix didn't even flinch.

"Steelix, Iron Tail!"

"Machamp, Seismic Toss!"

Machamp got in the first attack this time, grabbing Steelix by the metal-encased links close to its tail and spinning around and around, as if in a centrifuge. Steelix roared a metallic roar of protest before Machamp brought the steel Pokemon over its head and down on the ground.

Steelix was quick to reposition itself and slam its powerful tail into Machamp, smacking it sideways. It was a grievous insult, implying that all Machamp needed was to be swatted.

Daniel recognized the insult and his scowl deepened. "Machamp, Skull Bash!"

"Steelix, Earthquake!"

Machamp put its arms up in defensive positions, withdrawing from attack this turn, saving its enegry for the next turn. Steelix rose high, as a snake would when trying to intimidate an enemy, and brought its body down heavily to the ground. The resulting aftershock waves shuddered through Machamp, and Machamp groaned in pain as the vibrations roaring thorugh it damaged it.

"Steelix, Dig!"

Steelix dug a hole for the second time, as Machamp was readying itself for the Skull Bash. The blow never came close to connecting... Machamp leapt forward with all four fists clenched, ready to take out its opponent, and met nothing but empty air.

"Machamp, another Mega Punch when it comes back!"

Steelix broke the surface again, harder and faster than last time, and Machamp again went flying.

But this time, it didn't get back up.

Daniel quickly recalled Machamp and let another ball fly. "Fine, then deal with this one!"

A Typhlosion exploded out of the capture ball, its back flaming from top to bottom, ready to take on anything.

"Typhlosion, Fire Blast!"

Jason didn't have a chance to react. Typhlosion's flame figure blasted through the air and wrapped around Steelix, causing its body to become superheated. Steelix roared in unbearable pain...

And it collapsed in a loud heap. Its body crackled and hissed as it hit the cold ground.

Jason recalled it and considered his next choice for only a moment. *He might have attached Ground type attack to Typhlosion... Gyarados may have the water attack I need, but I can't use it yet. It's my strongest Pokemon. Play hard and fast... and physical.* He threw out another ball. "Dragonite, Extremespeed!"

Daniel raised an eyebrow even as Dragonite attacked Typhlosion. "What a surprise. No Gyarados. Don't tell me you don't have it; I've been looking forward to battling it for such a long time, now."

"Sorry to disappoint you," Jason responded, as Typhlosion was thrown back by the force of Drgaonite's hit.

Daniel shrugged. "A waste. Typhlosion, Quick Attack!"

Typhlosion was upon Dragonite in an instant, bashing its head into the dragon Pokemon's shining red body. Dragonite didn't even seem to feel it.

"Dragonite, Dragonbreath!"

Dragonite reached deep inside itself and touched its potential for fire, blasting out a stream of liquid blue flame. The fires engulfed Typhlosion, fires of a different type than it was used to, and it took a fair amount of damage.

"Typhlosion, Fire Blast!"

"Dragonite, Fly!"

The symbol figure of the Fire Blast streaked under Dragonite's heels as it took to the air.

"Typhlosion, Fire Punch!"

Dragonite soared forward and rammed its head into Typhlosion full force.

But Typhlosion was ready, and as soon as it was hit, it uppercut Dragonite in the stomach, its fist burning.

Dragonite backed off then, turning upright and stepping just slightly away from Typhlosion, out of its physical attack range.

"Typhlosion, another Fire Blast!"

"Dragonite, Fly again!"

The events of before played themselves out again, only this time Dragonite had been expecting the order to fly, and so had moved out of the way sooner. The Fire Blast didn't even come close this time.

Daniel shook his head and grinned. "I've got you pegged, bro. Fire Punch!"

Dragonite slammed into Typhlosion again, and Typhlosion had the same counterattack ready for it. But instead of staying on its feet, Typhlosion was bowled over by Dragonite's attack. As Dragonite moved to get off, Typhlosion seemed to concentrate more to get its own attack in.

*It's getting tired. Here's my chance.* "Dragonite, Hyper Beam!"

Dragonite opened its mouth wide and unleashed its most devastating attack. The reddish energy beam struck Typhlosion in the chest, and it was knocked backward and to the ground.

It laid there on the ground for a moment...

Then got back to its feet.

Jason scowled in disappointment. *Damn. Not enough.*

Dragonite was tiring, and with the next turn completely open for Daniel to attack and get away with it...

Jason didn't want to think about it.

But Daniel was reveling in the thought. "Typhlosion, one more Fire Blast! Don't miss this time!"

Typhlosion sprayed another flame figure into existence and sent it across the field. It met Dragonite head-on, and Dragonite vocally cried out in pain.

Jason shook his head. *It can't take another one, and Hyper Beam is too important to lose.* "Dragonite, return! Go, Gyarados! Use Hydro Pump!"

Gyarados blasted a devastating rush of water at Typhlosion as soon as it solidified, sending it to the ground once again.

It didn't get back up this time.

Daniel shook his head. "Well, well. All that fighting for nothing... you could've done that before. Didn't want Gyarados to see me, I guess."

Jason clenched his eyes shut and shook his head rapidly. He was getting tired, his thoughts less focused. *I need to concentrate...*

Gyarados stared at Daniel and roared defiantly at him.

Daniel simply laughed. "That's right, you remember me. How could you not?"

Then he recalled Typhlosion. "This battle's not finished yet, kiddo. I plan to take you down with one swipe, and here's how!"

He tossed his fourth ball, and it revealed a Kangaskhan, complete with a baby in the pouch.

Jason grimaced. *There had to be a kid in that pouch when it was captured? How torturous... and now I have to take it out.*

"Kangaskhan, Comet Punch!"

"Gyarados, Mirror Coat!"

Gyarados had the Mirror Coat up before Kangaskhan came within three meters of its foe. When the strike hit, all of the kinetic energy was reflected back through Kangaskhan's arm, and subsequently its body. It roared in pain and disgust.

"Gyarados, Crunch!"

"Kangaskhan, Dynamic Punch!"

*Daniel sure likes hitting things,* Jason thought, as Kangaskhan took another swing at Gyarados.

Gyarados snaked under the fist gracefully, which didn't really surprise Jason; Dynamic Punch was a rather unreliable move at times.

Then Gyarados latched its powerful jaws around Kangaskhan's midsection, and its child with it.

Jason winced at the baritone shout of the adult and the piercing wail of its baby. *Damn it! I didn't want to hurt the baby!*

"Looking to be a murderer again. Shame on you," said Daniel. "You're lucky they're Giovanni's, not mine, to care about. Kangaskhan, Stomp!"

Kangaskhan raised its massive foot in the air and brought it down across Gyarados's back, hoping to crush it. The foot did no such thing; fortunately for Gyarados, it was strong against such attacks.

*I hate to do this, but...* "Gyarados, Hydro Pump!"

Gyarados released another blast of water toward its enemy. Kangaskhan was driven back by the blow, even as it tried to brace against the hit. Its feet created furrows in the rocky terrain as it was forced back.

"Kangaskhan, Rollout!"

*Oh, no. One chance...* "Gyarados, Mirror Coat!"

Kangaskhan turned itself into a rolling mass, barreling straight for Gyarados, as Gyarados constructed another Mirror Coat. The reflected kinetic energy damaged Kangaskhan again, but it wouldn't be stopped so easily; Rollout took five turns in total, the damage yield increasing each time.

*Perfect. I can get him without any damage to myself.* "Gyarados, keep using Mirror Coat!"

Daniel's eyes couldn't have darkened any more than they already were, although they certainly look as if they had the potential. "No!"

But Kangaskhan couldn't stop Rollout, and Jason had the round bagged, both of them knew it.

All it took was one more hit from Kangaskhan reflected back at itself to knock it out. It uncurled from its ball-like position and laid still on the ground.

Daniel growled as he recalled Kangaskhan. "Payback time!"

He tossed another ball, and the neon bolt solidified into an Alakazam.

"Meet the most vital component of this entire caper," Daniel announced. "How I sent Professor Oak to Viridian City, and how I took your girlfriend for myself. And how I managed to keep my hideout secret from you and your friend over here. You couldn't even see through a pile of rocks to see my cabin."

"Then it'll be a pleasure to take it out,"Jason responded. "Gyarados, return! Come back out, Dragonite!"

A part of his mind questioned this, as Dragonite was rather weak. But he hoped the resistance to Psychics would make up for it.

"Hmm. Good choice. But it can't stand up to this! Alakazam, Psychic!"

"Dragonite, Hyper Beam!" Jason didn't think Dragonite would be able to stand the attack, and he figured if Dragonite was going down, it might as well take a huge chunk of Alakazam's HP with it.

As the Psychic attack powered up, Dragonite released another colossal beam of energy from its mouth. The energy screamed across the field and hit the exact crosspoint of Alakazam's crossed spoons. Alakazam, unprepared for the hit, didn't brace itself properly, and its spoons were shoved back into its chest. It was thrown to the ground from the force of the attack, taking an amount of damage Jason considered fair.

But Alakazam got back to its feet and performed its Psychic, its entire body flashing bright white. It cast the attack onto Dragonite, and Dragonite's body flashed as well. It stumbled backward from the hit, but its resistance kicked in and helped it to remain conscious.

Jason wondered whether Dragonite would weather the next attack so well. It would be unable to attack this turn, and its only defense was its resistance to Psychics.

"Alakazam, Psybeam!"

The resulting attack burrowed into Dragonite's midsection, drilling it back.

It hit the ground.

It struggled back to its feet, one eye clenched shut, the other squinting.

Jason shook his head hopelessly. *This'll be its last attack, and then it's going to faint. May as well make the most of it...* "Dragonite, one more Hyper Beam!"

Its mouth gaped open once more, and a Hyper Beam launched across the distance, slamming into Alakazam with as much force as it had had before.

Alakazam got back to its feet much more easily than Dragonite had.

Daniel grinned, knowing the win was his. "Alakazam, another Psybeam!"

Energy of a different kind streaked through the air and landed a solid blow on Dragonite.

There was no hope for it this time; it toppled to the ground and stayed there.

"Dragonite, return!" Jason looked at the capture ball for a moment. "Great job." He pulled out his next choice and tossed it. "Gengar, use Psybeam!"

Gengar hit the atmosphere and was instantly complying with Jason's order... it blasted a beam of psychic energy at its opponent, and Alakazam cried out as the beam hit it dead-on, weak to its own type of attack.

But Gengar wasn't.

Daniel growled again, becoming more desperate by the second. "Alakazam, Disable!"

"Gengar, Hypnosis!"

But Alakazam's Disable was already taking effect, and Hypnosis was the move that it took effect on.

"Damn," Jason muttered.

"Such language," Daniel commented flippantly. "Alakazam, Psychic!"

"Gengar, Night Shade!"

Alakazam's Psychic flashed brightly in the semi-darkness of the early morning... but then that semi-darkness was changed to complete darkness when Gengar's Night Shade took effect. All light was nullified within the battlefield, giving way to the intensity of Gengar's dazzling attack.

"Alakazam, Recover!"

"No, you don't," Jason muttered. "Gengar, Psybeam!"

Just as quickly as Alakazam had finished its Recover and gained HP, Gengar's Psybeam took the HP down again.

Daniel went back to offense. "Alakazam, use your own Psybeam!"

"Gengar, another Psybeam!"

The Psybeams crashed into one another, and the power of the Pokemon utilizing them was such that the resulting psychic force exploded in their faces. Alakazam and Gengar both went flying.

*And Gengar wasn't at full HP,* Jason thought. *This could be serious trouble...*

And serious trouble it was, for not only had Alakazam fainted, but so had Gengar.

*Maybe not as serious,* Jason revised. *I've got two Pokemon to work with... he's only got one.* He recalled Gengar, and stole a glance behind Daniel and to his right. Adam and Kelly lay near a ridge of rock and dirt.

And then he noticed something.

Kelly's eyes were open.

And they were staring straight at him.

Because she was gagged, she couldn't speak... but she didn't need to.

Jason could see everything she wanted to say in her eyes.

Daniel recalled his Alakazam... and he was smiling, strangely enough. He stared right into Jason's eyes. "You've fought well. But it ends here and now."

He tossed his final capture ball.

And it revealed a Tyranitar.

Jason groaned inwardly. *Not another one.* He pulled out another capture ball and revealed the one Pokemon that hadn't yet made it to this field.

"Charizard, Aeroblast!"

"Tyranitar, Crunch!"

Charizard was energized and ready to fight, and it eagerly opened up and spit out a furious Aeroblast. Several errant strands of whitish-yellow energy coalesced into one huge beam, as large as its target. The energy washed over Tyranitar's rocky, heavily armored body...

And seemed to have little effect at all.

Jason stared. *How could it take all that and not exhibit any damage symptoms?*

Daniel answered the unasked question. "I raised it myself, as soon as I came into acquisition of a Larvitar. I taught it everything it needed to know, and everything I wanted it to know. It's at the apex of its ability... you can't win, no matter what you throw at it."

As if to drive the point home, Tyranitar rushed Charizard and sank its jaws into the Fire-type Pokemon's shoulder. Charizard roared and tried to wrench itself away, but Tyranitar held on with all its might.

"Charizard, Fly!"

"Tyranitar, Hyper Beam!"

Tyranitar had shoved Charizard away and sent its ordered attack before Charizard could even think about taking to flight. The energy beam struck in the midsection, and Charizard's breath was knocked from its body. It coughed as it shakily rose into the air.

Charizard attempted to return the favor, rising high into the sky and streaking back down with the speed and force of a bullet, looking to pierce that thick hide.

It smashed head-on into Tyranitar at a near-vertical angle.

And Tyranitar didn't seem to care.

"Tyranitar, Mega Kick!"

Tyranitar thrust its huge foot forward in a lightning-quick motion, smashing it into Charizard's abdomen. Charizard keeled over, its wind knocked out again, unable to even roar in pain.

"Charizard, another Aeroblast!"

Charizard had fallen to one knee, but it rose again and flew a few feet up as it gathered energy for the Aeroblast. It fired the beam, a nearly impossible mass of concentrated energy, and struck Tyranitar dead center.

And again, it seemed to do little damage.

"Tyranitar, another Mega Kick!"

Tyranitar rushed forward, pivoted on one foot, and struck again, slamming its heel into Charizard's chest. Charizard soared back, landing dangerously close to the waters rushing along the sandbar.

Daniel grinned, sensing victory. "Finish it with Hyper Beam!"

Jason's head whipped around to where Charizard had landed. "Charizard, just give me one more Aeroblast!"

Charizard had been struggling to get to its feet, but now it didn't even bother, giving its full concentration to Jason's desperate attack order. As it lay there, staring at Tyranitar over its own body, its mouth opened once again, focusing every last erg of energy it possessed to bring to bear on its impossibly strong enemy.

The Aeroblast streaked through the air...

And collided with the Hyper Beam.

But the Hyper Beam's brunt had been only a meter away from Tyranitar.

The two colliding energies caused a massive explosion, their combined power engulfing the Dark-type Pokemon...

It stumbled out of the explosion, looking confused.

And it was powered down from the Hyper Beam.

Jason saw a chance impossible to waste. Charizard only had enough energy for two more Aeroblasts, but that was one of its strongest attacks, and it was doing damage. He didn't imagine either of Charizard's fire attacks would do much.

"Charizard, Aeroblast your heart out!"

Charizard was on its feet now, still dazed from having been hit so hard and having to expend so much energy immediately afterward. But it was ready now, and the energy beam was more powerful than it had been before. It smashed into Tyranitar... and forced it back across the terrain.

Jason glanced at his crazed brother. Daniel wasn't pleased about this... obviously, he had absolute confidence in Tyranitar, and now that its defenses were falling...

"Tyranitar, Crunch!"

Tyranitar caught Charizard's body up in its beak-like mouth and crushed its jaws inward, looking to spear Charizard's thick skin.

Charizard's roar was one of defiance giving way to despair.

And it slowly, inexorably toppled to the ground.

Where it stayed.

Jason shook his head. *Tyranitar's not even down to half its HP yet.* "Charizard, return!"

Daniel grinned sadistically. "Might as well give up while you can, kiddo. You keep battling and it'll only get worse."

"Never underestimate the power of a Pokemon. And especially when it's a Gyarados!"

Jason threw Gyarados's Poke ball high, hoping to inspire confidence in the Pokemon everything depended on.

Gyarados emerged, rested and ready to fight to the end.

"Gyarados, Hydro Pump!"

Gyarados eagerly responded, hosing its opponent down with an ultra- pressurized stream of gushing water.

Tyranitar grunted.

*The first vocal acknowledgment of pain,* Jason thought, growing excited.

But Daniel wasn't so easily impressed. "Tyranitar, Mega Kick!"

Tyranitar once again lashed out with its foot, and it caught Gyarados squarely in the midsection. Gyarados roared, but it was determined.

"Tyranitar, Rock Slide!"

"Gyarados, Mirror Coat!"

Tyranitar used what psychic potential it possessed to call the rocks and boulders of its surroundings to its aid, tossing them all at Gyarados, bombarding it with stone missiles.

But Gyarados put up its Mirror Coat in time, and the boulders bounced straight off the coat... and toward Tyranitar. Each and every one of them struck the dark Pokemon, causing it to grunt and rant in frustration.

"Tyranitar, Crunch!"

"Gyarados, Hydro Pump!"

Gyarados sprayed Tyranitar with yet another blast of water, but it didn't stop the dark Pokemon from clamping onto Gyarados's neck. Gyarados roared, but that only served to encourage Tyranitar to close more tightly.

"Gyarados, use your own Crunch!"

"Tyranitar, Hyper Beam!"

Tyranitar had the Hyper Beam charged and out its mouth instantly...

But it missed.

Gyarados has slithered smoothly around the attack at that same instant.

It snaked forward through the air and bit into Tyranitar's arm. It clamped down as tightly as Tyranitar had before.

Tyranitar was now groaning, close to roaring, in pain.

"Crunch it yourself, Tyranitar!" Daniel shouted.

Tyranitar obliged, clamping its beak-like jaws on the back of Gyarados's neck.

"Mega Kick!"

"Mirror Coat!"

But this time, Gyarados couldn't put up the Mirror Coat. The Mega Kick sent it flying to the sandbar nearby. Gyarados went limp when it landed.

Daniel's eyes flamed with hunger for the final victory. "Finish it with Hyper Beam!"

Tyranitar's mouth yawned open...

The Hyper Beam flew...

Gyarados didn't even try to resist the attack.

The beam washed over the dragon Pokemon, sent it flying, shoved it violently into the water.

And Gyarados didn't move.

Jason stared into the water.

He'd lost.

After all this...

"No," he whispered.

***

Kelly had been conscious for nearly the entire match, having awakened to the sounds of battle. She was frustrated, felt helpless to do anything about it. Not that she could have been expected to have the strength to do anything... between being tied up and being starved to death, she really didn't have much of a choice in the matter.

And now, all she could do was watch.

Gyarados was limp in the water.

And it was sinking rapidly.

Jason had lost the match to Daniel.

Even from behind, Kelly knew that Daniel was grinning.

And then he spoke.

"Tyranitar, bring my little brother over here. He and I need a little time together."

Kelly felt a tear trickle down her face. And then another. And another.

She glanced over at Adam. He was semi-conscious, but Daniel had hit him so hard that he truly was helpless to do anything. Besides, his prosthetics were missing. And the only Pokemon he'd brought was Pidgeot, which now was fainted and inside the only capture ball Adam currently possessed.

Tyranitar's thundering footsteps echoed across the entire island, it seemed.

Kelly looked up at Jason, and her heart was reduced to shreds when she saw the expression on his face.

One of total, utter despair.

His last hope had faded.

Tears streamed down her face.

***

And then, the water glowed.

***

Jason glanced up, squinting into the water. "What...?"

Tyranitar had stopped advancing, also curious as to what was happening. Even Daniel was staring at it.

The water was glowing right where Gyarados had landed and disappeared.

And then...

The surface of the water burst, sending a tower of water into the air, a glowing white, snake-like form appearing at the source.

*Gyarados...?* Jason thought disbelievingly. *Is it... evolving...?*

But its features weren't morphing, no shifts in its physical shape in any way.

The light seemed to start to melt away from Gyarados's body, crawling up towards the mouth from the tail. And it got brighter by the instant, all the light concentrating towards its mouth...

Jason pulled out his Pokedex, the scientific fragments of him getting the best of him, and he scanned Gyarados to find out what was happening...

He looked at the LCD, and it read:

"Final Beam - An attack unique to Gyarados. Used when Gyarados is hit with an attack meant to knock it out. Kinetic energy from the opponent's last attack and the charge from all molecules surrounding Gyarados is absorbed and converted to one Hit Point and Hyper Beam energy increased exponentially.

Classification: One hit KO"

Jason looked back up, not believing what he was seeing.

The light poured into Gyarados's mouth, and it held it there as if the light were normal Hyper Beam energy.

Gyarados swiveled its head to Tyranitar.

It let loose a deafening roar.

And the white energy, more colossal than even an Aeroblast, screamed through the air, exploding into Tyranitar at full factorial force...

The noise was deafening, the light blinding...

Jaosn looked away. *Make it stop!!*

The light began to fade, and the sound along with it.

When Jason could finally see again, he looked back up at where Tyranitar had been.

It now lay on its back, motionless.

It had fainted.

And Jason was the final victor.

He was breathless, speechless. Totally shocked and amazed. Gyarados had come through for him when he'd needed it most.

He saw Daniel surveying the situation. The man's eyes fell on Tyranitar, and he rushed to its side. "NO!!"

Jason quickly moved his wheelchair across the devastation that had been the makeshift battlefield, making his way to Kelly and Adam. *Poor Adam, still dazed.*

*And Kelly...*

He leaned forward and pulled the tape off her mouth. As soon as it was off, she gasped for breath through her mouth, gulping in huge lungfuls of air.

"Jason..." The way she spoke his name was raspy, hoarse, as if she'd tried using her voice for a long time and had managed nothing from it. Jason could tell she'd been screaming for help. But with no other inhabitants on this island, who would hear her? Until he and Adam arrived.

"Jason... I... I..." She continued to gasp, as if she'd somehow missed her portion of the atmosphere while gagged. Jason looked into her eyes, trying to see more clearly what she was saying...

Then her eyes grew wide as she looked past him.

Jason felt the handlebars of his wheelchair being gripped roughly, and he was violently tossed to the side. His chair toppled, and he tumbled out of it.

His legs were tingling worse than ever.

He could feel them.

Daniel was atop him, and his face was a mask of unbridled rage. "If you want it done right..."

He drove a fist into Jason's temple. Jason felt blood flow freely from whatever wound Daniel had opened up, but he'd also heard something in Daniel's hand pop.

He looked up at his insane brother...

And he dealt a punch of his own.

Daniel grunted and rolled off Jason.

"...then you talk to a professional," Jason completed.

Daniel got to his feet and stomped down on Jason's abdomen. The wind was knocked out of Jason and he nearly lost the contents of his stomach.

"Keep talking, kiddo. It'll be so much more pleasant to shut you up!" Daniel shouted, hauling Jason up by his shirt and dragging him toward the sandbar.

Belatedly, Jason realized what Daniel was planning to do.

He heard Kelly screaming, "*NOOOOO!*"

He tried to shuffle out of Daniel's grasp, and only got a stomach punch for his efforts. He couldn't breathe.

*Can barely even think...*

"No such thing as spiritual cleanliness for you," Daniel grunted, "so we'll settle for sacrifice!"

He dragged Jason into the water, constantly moving deeper into it.

When they were nearly thirty feet out, and almost neck-high, Daniel seemed satisfied. He pulled Jason down off his shoulder, grasped him tightly by the shirt, and growled, "Dad died in the water. By all rights, you should have, too. I'm just finishing the job."

He released Jason and shoved him back.

The dead weights of Jason's legs pulled him down, down, down...

Jason stared up at the surface of the water, steadily getting fainter, more blurred, all sounds disappearing, light itself beginning to fade...

*Can't swim, can't move my legs...*

An image of Kelly sprang to his mind.

*I can't walk, swim, dance, or do any of those things... but I can love.*

He closed his eyes and waited for the end.

***

Kelly continued to scream in denial, even after Jason had been tossed into the water. Daniel was stalking back toward her and Adam now...

*He'll kill us both...*

Tears streamed down her face in terror and despair, and she let her head fall on the ground.

There was no choice now. Adam could do nothing, and she could do nothing.

And Jason was gone.

She let herself fall into darkness, closing her eyes.

She didn't want Daniel's grinning face to be the last thing she saw.

A brainshattering roar pounded through her body and her mind, and she couldn't help but open her eyes again.

A great tower of water was rising from the sea.

The tower broke, revealing Jason's Gyarados, positioned not two meters behind Daniel.

Daniel whirled around and saw the Pokemon upon him.

Gyarados struck, snaking down and lifting Daniel high into the air with its mouth.

Daniel screamed an inhuman scream.

Gyarados's razored teeth penetrated Daniel completely and thoroughly as it used its Crunch attack, mauling its master's mad brother. Dark fluid flowed down its lower lip and into the cold waters.

It rose high into the air.

Daniel's screams stopped.

And Gyarados flung Daniel towards the great depths of the sea.

Where he would remain for eternity.

Before Kelly could even register any of this, Gyarados was diving back into the water. Moments later, it broke the surface yet again...

And it was carrying an unconscious Jason on its back.

Kelly felt a slight pressure on her wrist. Her head whipped around, and she saw that Adam was now somewhat conscious, using a pocketknife to cut her bonds. As Gyarados lowered Jason to the sand, Adam cut through the ropes on her wrists and snapped through the knot of the ropes around her ankles.

She crawled forward shakily, unable to stand on her own two feet now, moving as quickly as she could to get to Jason.

The one she loved.

She crawled up to him and sprawled herself on top of him, trying to listen for a heartbeat.

She found a shallow one.

Suddenly, Jason's chest heaved upward, and he gasped noisily for breath. Water trickled out of his mouth, and he coughed and hacked violently, trying to gain air all the while.

His eyes snapped open, unseeing, but still looking for something.

Kelly looked into those eyes, hoping that perhaps he might see her.

"Jason? Can you hear me?"

***

He didn't need legs to pull himself out of the darkness of his own mind. He clawed his way up and out, knowing there was a light at the end of whatever tunnel he was traveling. His legs tingled.

*Wait a minute. If my legs tingle, that must mean I'm still alive. I'd better find that light quickly...*

It was as if he were trying to climb a rope ladder using only his arms, but he still pulled up and out as hard as he could...

"Jason? Can you hear me?"

The light burned too brightly for him to make anything out. He gasped for breath, feeling something nasty somewhere at the bottom of his lungs.

But he knew who was talking to him.

He commanded his vocal cords to vibrate, to reply. And he hoped she would hear him.

"I... love... you..."

As if a door had been unlocked, everything suddenly became clear. The light became somewhat dimmer, revealing to him the beautiful, tear- stained face of Kelly Shields looking down at him. Noises became exquisitely sharp, and the aches and pains of his body were making themselves known.

He heard her draw a shaky breath. "Jason?"

His left hand reached up and stroked her face.

A smile drew her features taut. He reached around to the back of her head and gently pulled her down.

They met in a loving, passionate kiss, one that denoted how much could happen within a period of days.

When she pulled away, he looked deeply into her eyes. "I love you, Kelly. I truly love you."

Her expression was one of pure joy, of overwhelming happiness. "I love you, too, Jason..."

They held each other for a long time.

Jason glanced toward the water. Gyarados was there, its head resting on a boulder. It bore no expression, and Jason immediately knew what it had done.

His brother would trouble them no more.

He looked over at Adam, who still sat against the rock ridge, missing his prosthetics. The poetic former Pokemon trainer was staring off into the distance, no doubt picturing the next subject for his writings.

And finally, he looked back at Kelly. She simply clung to him tightly, wanting nothing more than to be with him.

Now, he wanted nothing more than to be with her.

***

An hour later, they had found Adam's prosthetic limbs and had revived his Pidgeot and Jason's Dragonite. They were readying themselves to leave.

But Jason would be leaving a Pokemon behind.

He glanced back at the sandbar where Gyarados still lay. He approached it. "You know that you're welcome to come back any time you want."

It growled an acknowledgment.

"You've been my best friend from day one. I'll miss you."

It growled again. It wasn't much for sentimental moments.

Jason felt the sting of tears beginning, and he quickly turned away. He moved to where Kelly, Adam, and the flying Pokemon waited.

He glanced at his companions. "Let's go home."

They mounted the flying Pokemon, and they lifted into the air.

Jason glanced back down at the island one final time, and watched Gyarados get smaller and smaller along with the island.

He had never been alone when facing the odds. Gyarados, Kelly, Tommy, Adam, Professor Oak... they had all been there for him.

And it was because of extraordinary friends such as those that he was able to face all the challenges and all the hardships.

Against all odds...

Jason Creight lived on.



The End

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Review, please... how'd I do?