Chapter 9: A Rival Appears

Summary: After finally arriving in Saffron City, Alex is anxious for his next badge. But first, he meets up with a strangely familiar person

"Saffron City, finally" Alex said they walked into the city limits

"It's been weeks since we've been in a city" Ben said in a tired voice

"I could go for a hot bath and a good meal" Ashley said as her stomach growled

"I say we head to the Pokemon Center and see about some lunch" Ben suggested

"No argument there" Alex's stomach had no problems with that plan

It had been four weeks since they left Celadon City and all of them were looking forward to sleeping on a real bed and taking a bath. The Pokemon Center is always a welcome sight, especially for the traveling trainer. The services provided by these establishments are invaluable, a place for trainers and pokemon to rest and recover from battles and traveling over each region's vast landscape. All 3 of them took their turns enjoying a hot shower before tending to their pokemon. Ashley enjoyed the feeling of a soft mattress under her after weeks of camping on the hard ground; the boys shared the same feeling on their own beds.

After a nice nap and a good meal, Alex headed for the battlefield to get some training in before attempting the Psychic Saffron Gym and its leader, Sabrina, the Psychic Mistress.

"Charmeleon, use Flamethrower" a voice from the center's battle field commanded

Alex, Ben, and Ashley saw two trainers battling, a young man with a Charmeleon in front of him, what looked like a Ghost pokemon behind and to his left, and a large purple pokemon with a horn on its head on the right. His opponent was a battling with a pokemon that looked like a huge fur ball with legs, arms, and a face with a snout

"Who are those pokemon?" Alex reached for his pokedex

"That one guy has a Charmeleon, a Haunter, and a Nidoking" Ashley said

"And the other is using a Primeape" Ben said, "Quite an assortment of pokemon"

Charmeleon, the Flame Pokemon and the evolved form of Charmander. It has a barbaric nature. In battle, it whips its fiery tail around and slashes away with sharp claws.

Nidoking, the Drill Pokemon and the evolved form of Nidorino. One swing of its mighty tail can snap a telephone pole in half as if it were nothing but a matchstick.

Haunter, the Gas Pokemon and the evolved form of Gastly. It likes to lurk in the dark and tap shoulders with a gaseous hand. Its touch causes endless shuddering.

Primeape, the Pig Monkey Pokemon and the evolved form of Mankey. It becomes wildly furious if it even senses someone looking at it. It chases anyone that meets its glare.

"Primeape, use Karate Chop!" Primeape's trainer seemed just as hot headed as it was

"Charmeleon, counter with Flamethrower" the trainer seemed to remain calm and level headed

"Awesome moves" Alex said as Charmeleon gained the upper hand

"Charmeleon, Slash now"

Charmeleon finished the battle with a final attack

"Primeape, return!" he seemed angry over this loss, "I'm gonna train harder and I'll get you next time!" he ran off

"Whatever" he did little more than roll his eyes as he walked to his Charmeleon, "Well done Charmeleon, great job"

Primeape's trainer plowed straight through Alex and company. Alex fell to the ground, his badge case flying out of his partially opened backpack

"Hey, watch where you're going!" Alex stood up, a little surprised to see his badge case in the hands of Charmeleon's trainer

He was obviously older than Alex was, probably 4 or 5 years at least. Black hair and brown eyes, fair skin, and he seemed like he had quite a lot of experience as a trainer under his belt. A girl with blackish brown hair and brown eyes walked up to him from the center

"Hey Selena, how's Teddiursa doing?" he asked

"Just ate too much, all Teddiursa needs is some sleep" Selena replied

"Maybe this will teach Teddiursa that too much honey can be a bad thing" he chuckled

"Hey, you look familiar…" Alex looked at this Trainer, "Haven't I seen you on TV?"

"You saw him on TV?" Ben asked

"Yeah… let me think for a minute…" Alex tried to remember; "Now I remember!" it came to him, "I think it was called the Unova League, right?"

"Correct" he crossed his arms

"I remember now, your name is Earl" Alex remembered watching it on TV, "You won at the last Vertress Conference, right?"

"Mhm, he won the league and won the right to challenge Alder, the Unova Champion" Selena added

"Well, that's quite an achievement" Ben said, "Well done"

"Thanks for picking up my badge case" Alex said as Earl opened the case

"So you have four badges, how long has it been since you started your journey?" Earl asked

"I don't know… four or five months, maybe more" Alex scratched his head, he hadn't been keeping track

"And you have four…" Earl closed the badge case, "Hmm, not bad for a rookie"

"Um… can I have my badges back now please?"

"Here, keep better track of those things" Earl tossed them back and recalled his three pokemon, "Tell me, was it luck that you won or did you just fluke out?"

"Why don't I show you!" Alex shouted in an annoyed voice

"Is that a challenge?" Earl said plainly

"You bet it is!"

"This should end quickly" Earl said as they took their places, "This will be a three-on-three battle"

"That's fine by me" Alex reached towards his belt as Ben took place are referee

"Alright, both of you pick your pokemon"

"Go, Galvantula" Earl called out his pokemon, a huge yellow spider-like pokemon appeared

"What is that thing?" Alex reached for his pokedex

"No data available…"

"Hmph, haven't updated your pokedex, have you?" Earl seemed annoyed, "Hmph, just like a rookie" crossed his arms, completely un-amused

"Grr, I'll show you!" Alex called out his pokemon, "Go Sophia!" Alex's Ninitales appeared

"A Fire-type, that's a smart move" Selena commented

"What kind of typing is Galvantula anyway?" Ashley asked

"Galvantula has an interesting typing, it's both a Bug-type and an Electric-type" Selena answered

"Then going by type, Alex's Ninetales has the advantage" Ben said

"It's true Bug are weak to Fire, but Galvantula is also an Electric type, might not be as easy as you think…" Selena smirked

"Ok Sophia, Flamethrower!"

"Thunder, go" Earl said with complete calm in his voice

Galvantula and Sophia launched their attacks simultaneously; their power resulted in an immense explosion

"Sophia, Flamethrower one more time!" they tried it again

"Dodge it, then use Toxic" Earl said calmly

Galvantula used its legs to leap out of danger and launched a vile, purple, toxic sludge at Sophia

"Sophia!" Alex shouted as the toxic substance seeped into the fire-type's body, causing serious damage, "Sophia, are you ok?" the fire-type fought through it and stood ready

"Ok, try Confuse Ray"

"Use Bug Buzz"

Sophia's eyes began to glow as Galvantula let out a loud cry, releasing red sound waves from its body at its opponent. The sound waves hit Sophia, causing her a splitting headache, combined with the damage from the earlier Toxic, the Ninetales failed to use Confuse Ray.

"Bug moves might not be effective, but they seemed more interested in stopping that Confuse Ray…" Ben noted

"Earl has quickly taken control of the battle" Selena said as the Ninetales took more damage from the poison

"Finish it with Thunder" Galvantula fired a devastating Electric attack, knocking out the helpless Fire-type

"Ninetales is unable to battle, Galvantula wins" Ben ruled

"Sophia, return…" Alex recalled her

"Galvantula, return" Earl recalled his pokemon, "Come on out, Scrafty"

Earl's new pokemon was even stranger than the last one. This one looked like a lizard standing on two legs with a Mohawk like crest on its head. It also seemed like it had a hood and was holding up a pair of pants…

Alex was about to reach for his pokedex, but he remembered that his pokedex had no data on any pokemon from Unova. There was no point in looking it up, he was gonna have to go with luck and his own instincts.

"What's wrong, don't know what to pick?" Earl asked, Scrafty crossed its arms

"The battle isn't over yet" Alex grabbed another pokeball, "I choose you, Lucas!" his Lucario appeared

"This should be interesting" Selena thought, "Lucario is a Fighting/Steel type, while Scrafty is a Dark/Fighting type… both use Fighting attacks, but both are also weak to Fighting-type attacks. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what moves they call"

"Lucas, Aura Sphere!"

"Block it, then use Dragon Dance"

Scrafty braced itself as the Lucario fired his Aura Sphere. Scrafty took the attack, but there was more force than it had expected

"Well, that's some impressive strength" Earl commented, but he wasn't worried as Scrafty powered up with an odd dance

"What's Dragon Dance?" Ashley asked

"It increases the users Attack and Speed when used" Ben answered

"Use Aura Sphere again!" Alex commanded

"Counter with Drain Punch" Earl ordered calmly

Green energy surrounded its fist as Scrafty forced its way through the Aura Sphere and delivered a powerful punch to the Aura pokemon with power and speed behind it.

"Lucas, you okay?" Alex worried as his Lucario got back to his feet

"Drain Punch not only damages the opponent, it also heals the user" Selena said as both sides prepared to continue the battle

"Drain Punch, once more" Earl said as Scrafty moved to attack once again

"Aura Sphere!" Lucario countered, but Scrafty was undeterred, "Quick, use Bone Rush to block!"

The Aura pokemon barely managed to stop the Unova pokemon's punch with his staff-like bone, the two sides struggled to overpower the other. Lucas finally leapt away from Scrafty as the Bone disappeared

"Scrafty, Dragon Dance again" Earl commanded

"Quick Lucas, Aura Sphere again!" Alex countered

Scrafty again powered up as Lucas again scored a direct hit with Aura Sphere

"He just keeps using the same 2 moves…" Ashley said

"Drain Punch is the only move Scrafty has that's effective against a Fighting/Steel pokemon like Lucario" Selena replied

"Drain Punch, now!"

"Counter with Force Palm!"

Scrafty used its newly powered up speed to its advantage, it quickly closed the distance and threw a powerful punch. Lucas dodged it by a fraction of an inch and slammed his paw into Scrafty's chest. A powerful blast of energy erupted onto Scrafty and hurtled it away

"Now, Aura Sphere!"

Lucas fired yet another Aura Sphere at a dazed Scrafty, scoring even more damage. Earl seemed rather annoyed as Scrafty got to its feet

"Wow, they're actually holding out pretty well against Earl and Scrafty" Selena was actually surprised

"Scrafty, Drain Punch!" but nothing happened

Yellow sparks surrounded Scrafty, preventing it from moving. Earl just gave an annoyed sighed and closed his eyes.

"Talk about Lucky" Earl said

"Looks like that Force Palm paralyzed Scrafty" Ben said

"Let's finish it Lucas, Aura Sphere now!"

The Lucario charged another Aura Sphere between his paws and threw it as hard has he could at his opponent. The sphere exploded violently as it slammed into Scrafty

"Scrafty is unable to battle, Lucario wins" Ben declared the winner of the round

"Good job Lucas" Alex said, relieved they beat Earl's pokemon

"Thank you Scrafty, return" Earl recalled his pokemon

"Wow, they actually beat Scrafty" Selena was officially surprised

"Well, I'll give credit where credit is due…" Earl said as he reached for another pokeball, "Your Lucario is fairly impressive, but you got lucky with that Force Palm paralyzing my Scrafty" the pokeball expanded to its normal size, "But I think it's time I finish this… Go, Hydreigon!"

Earl threw his pokeball into the air, out of it appeared a dark dragon like pokemon with 3 heads and 6 thin wings. The two smaller heads seemed to act like arms. Its body has mainly black and blue, with fuchsia stripes along its abdomen and an almost flower like collar around the main head

"What is that thing…" Alex stared at this new pokemon, the dragon-like pokemon growled and let out a loud roar at the young trainer

"Oh boy" Selena shook her head, "He's done for now that Earl's brought out Hydreigon"

"Is it really that bad?" Ashley asked her

"Oh yeah…" Selena nodded, "Hydreigon is one of Earl's most powerful. It won him the final round of the Vertress Conference in Unova"

"You ok to keep going Lucas?" Alex asked, his Lucario nodded, "I just wish I knew what types that thing was…" he thought to himself

"Hydreigon, let's be done with this" Earl said to his pokemon, the creature turned and nodded at its trainer

"Ok Lucas, let's start with Aura Sphere" Alex ordered, his Lucario obeyed and fired at the three headed dragon

"Counter with Dragon Pulse" Earl commanded, Hydreigon fired a turquoise sphere from its center head, the two attacks exploded violently as they hit each other

"Whoa, that's some power" Alex was hit with the shockwaves from that explosion

"Flamethrower, Now" Earl ordered

An intense stream of flames pierced the shroud of smoke, aimed straight for the Aura pokemon

"Dodge it quick!" Alex tried to react in time, but it was too late

The fire plowed straight into the Lucario, the heat and intensity of the flames inflicting massive damage. Lucas fell to the ground, defeated.

"Lucario is unable to battle, Hydreigon wins" Ben said as Alex recalled his defeated pokemon

"What amazing power…" Ashley was shocked it beat Lucario so quickly

"Lucario maybe a Fighting-type, but it also has Steel-type characteristics" Selena commented, "It may lose its weaknesses associated with Fighting-types, but it retains the weaknesses common to Steel-types… and Fire is super effective against Steel"

"Wait, if that thing keeps attacking with specially based attacks, then his Milotic's Mirror Coat might be an effective counter" Ashley suggested, but Selena just shook her head

"Nope, it wouldn't work" Selena said plainly, "Mirror Coat would work on a normal opponent, but not on Hydreigon"

"Why not?" Ashley asked

"Mirror Coat is a good and effective counter to specially based attacks, but it's still a Psychic based attack" Selena answered, "Hydreigon may be a Dragon-type, but it's also a Dark-type pokemon… and Psychic attacks have absolutely no effect on Dark-types, not to mention Dragon-types are able to resist Fire, Water, Grass, and Electric attacks"

"Geez, Hydreigon sounds like quite a powerhouse" Ashley replied

"Dragon-types are perhaps the strongest and most difficult type of pokemon for a trainer to raise and train… not to mention they take so long to evolve…" Selena crossed her arms, "But once you've mastered their power, they're practically unstoppable in battle"

"What do I do now?" Alex thought to himself, "Mimi's Mirror Coat won't work, and I can't just rely on Ice Beam to win it for me against that thing… I can't send Melody against that thing, and I definitely can't use Johnny against Hydreigon…" Alex couldn't think of a way out of this, none of his pokemon were powerful enough to beat that thing. Suddenly a light erupted from his belt

"Gible!" the small Dragon-type appeared

"Zack?"Alex look to see is own Dragon-type standing ready to battle, "What are you doing out of your pokeball?" the two dragons glared at each other

"What's that little thing?" Selena pulled out her pokedex, hers was a much slimmer model than Alex's or Ashley's and was more of a vertical rectangular shape

"Gible, the Land Shark Pokemon. It attacks using its huge mouth. While its attacks are powerful, it hurts itself out of clumsiness, too." Like Ashley's pokedex, Selena's spoke with a male voice, unlike Alex's, which spoke with a female voice

"I didn't realize he had a Dragon of his own" Selena seemed slightly surprised

"Gible and their evolved forms are actually quite beginner friendly for newer trainers" Ben commented, "They're strong, but easier for newer trainers to raise than most other Dragon-types"

"I wonder if his Gible wants to battle with Earl's Hydreigon?" Ashley wondered as the two kept glaring at each other

"Zack, are you sure you wanna fight that thing?" Alex was worried his pokemon wouldn't stand a ghost of a chance against something as powerful as that Hydreigon

"Gib Gible!" the small Land Shark pokemon didn't break eye contact with Hydreigon

"That Gible has guts, I'll give it that, but this shouldn't take more than one move" Earl just crossed his arms, "Dragon Pulse, go"

Hydreigon fired the moment Earl finishes his command, but the Gible responded with a Dragon Rage before Alex could give it a command. The two attacks exploded violently mid air

"Guess that means you really wanna do this Zack…" Alex accepted his pokemon's decision

"What a stubborn little Dragon-type" Ashley said

"Looks like Gible wants to help Alex no matter what" Ben said to himself

"Alright Zack, use Dragon Rage again" Alex commanded

"Dodge, then Dragon Pulse" Earl countered

Hydreigon flew past the fiery attack and countered with its own powerful attack

"Use Dig and get out of there!"

The Dragon Pulse exploded on impact, but the clearing smoke revealed nothing but a hole in the ground

"Use Dragon Rage again"

The Gible jumped out of ground and fired at Hydreigon's back, a direct hit… though Hydreigon didn't seem all that bothered by the hit.

"Tri Attack" Earl commanded

Hydreigon opened all 3 mouths, an orb formed in each. It unleashed a beam of Fire, Ice and Lightning from each orb. The Land Shark pokemon was hurtled back into the ground by all 3 beams

"Zack, Get Up" Alex shouted, "Use Sandstorm!"

Gible got to its feet, undeterred, and unleashed a powerful Sandstorm that enveloped the entire area. Hydreigon slowly began to descend as the sand pulverized it

"Use Tackle and then get on its back!"

"Dragon Pulse, once more!"

Gible tackled the larger Dragon-type, forcing it to lose more altitude. But Hydreigon couldn't hit the small Gible with its Dragon Pulse attack

"Of course, Sand Veil" Earl said

"Sand Veil?" Ashley wondered

"It's an ability that increases a pokemon's evasion during a sandstorm" Ben explained, "That's why his Gible can avoid Hydreigon's attacks better now" Zack jumped on Hydreigon's back

"Now, Use Dragon Rage!" Zack fired at the back of Hydreigon's central head

"Whoa, Hydreigon felt that one" Ashley said as Hydreigon cried out in pain

"Use Dragon Rage again!"

"Shake it off now!" Earl commanded

Hydreigon thrashed around as Zack grabbed onto one of Hydreigon's wings and scored another direct hit. Hydreigon flew up higher and out of the sandstorm

"Dragon Rage again!" Alex commanded, but a sharp turn finally threw the Gible off its back

But, undeterred, Zack launched its move, causing more damage to its opponent as it fell to the ground

"Dragon Pulse Now!" Earl's Hydreigon fired at the still airborne Gible

"Zack!" Alex shouted as his pokemon took major damage, "Are you ok?!"

The dragon-type struggled to his feet, determined not to be beaten. A bright light engulfed it

"Is that…?" Alex stared at his pokemon

"It looks like its evolving" Ashley said

Alex pointed his pokedex as the light faded and revealed a new, larger dragon pokemon.

"Gabite, the Cave Pokemon and the evolved form of Gible. Gabite is a fierce and territorial pokemon that will engage any opponent at close range with high speed and deadly attacks with their claws and fangs. Gabite dig up precious gems and hoard in their dens"

"Zack evolved into Gabite…" Alex closed his pokedex

"Well, I'll congratulate you on your Gible evolving into Gabite" Earl crossed his arms, "But you're still nowhere near strong enough to beat us… Hydreigon, use Dragon Pulse"

"Zack, Dodge it quick"

Alex's newly evolved Gabite swiftly dodged the attack, then charged, its claws glowing with turquoise energy. Before Alex could give another command, Zack leapt at Hydreigon and slashed it with its claws

"Whoa, they felt that one" Ashley said

"I think Zack just learned Dragon Claw" Alex was surprised at the power behind that move, "Alright, use Dragon Claw again!" the Gabite charged again

"End this Now! Dragon Pulse!" Earl commanded

Hydreigon's arms bit onto the airborne Gabite's arm, preventing it from attacking. It pulled it closer and unleashed a Dragon Pulse at close range

"Zack, No!" Alex's pokemon fell from the cloud of smoke and hit the ground hard

"Gabite is unable to battle, Hydreigon wins, and Earl wins the match" Ben announced as Alex ran to his defeated Gabite

"Zack, are you ok!?" Alex knelt down and picked up his pokemon, Zack opened his eyes, "You battled really hard Zack, thank you…"

"I'll admit, not too shabby for a rookie" Earl said plainly, "I guess I would expect this much from a rookie with only 4 badges" Alex felt his frustration growing more and more, "Even so, you're still too weak to beat me"

"Next time, I'm not losing to you!" Alex shouted in frustration

"Let's see if you can just get the rest of your badges before the Indigo League gets started this year" Earl said plainly as he crossed his arms, not impressed in the least, "Well done Hydreigon, excellent as always" Earl petted his pokemon for a job well done

"Oh man…" Ashley looked on as Alex recalled Zack to his pokeball

"Next time, think really hard before you even consider challenging me again" Earl recalled Hydreigon, "I don't really care too much for crushing inexperienced rookies like you"