If ever there was a world record for being the laziest in updating, it would be me…

Anyway, we're back with more of the Azalea Arc! Just one more chapter after this, and we're moving on towards the next city! Remember to read, review, and subscribe like always, and enjoy!

EDIT 6/30/14: In an ongoing process, the first five chapters have been edited and modified for consistency, so some minor changes (specifically, Pokemon genders and Character outfits) have been retroactively made. Check back where appropriate.

Chapter XIX: Genesis

"Flaffy, I choose you!" Yue shouted. The Pokeball opened, and out popped the pink sheep Pokemon.

"Flaff-ffy!" the Wool Pokemon bleated.

"So Yue's going with an Electric-Type against a Bug and Flying Type," noted Brock. "That does give her the advantage over Butterfree."

"Yeah," Barry stated, "but Type advantage isn't the silver bullet in a Pokemon Battle." He looked across the battlefield in the Gym, where Bugsy was taking note at Flaffy's appearance. "A seasoned Gym Leader like Bugsy definitely has some trick up his sleeve."

"Says the trainer who just fell for quite a few of them," quipped Dawn. Barry grunted.

"Hey, I don't see you getting in line for a Gym Battle, Dawn," he retorted.

"I'll have you know that I did have a Gym Battle once before, but I didn't find it to be my fit!" the blunette shot back. Brock quickly interrupted the squabble.

"Hey, hey, we just shot down your last feud!" he stated. "Settle down, and actually coalesce with each other for a change in pace!" Said two people simply glared each other in the eye, before looking away from each other.

"And that's probably how the Magic Associations of Kanto and Kansai started their own squabble," sighed Chamo.

"I…guess so…" Nodoka stated. Not wanting any part of the squabble, the two moved around the Sinnoh natives, and sat between Brock and Ash.

"Are all parties ready for the match?" the referee of the Gym Battle asked.

"All ready," Yue stated, nodding her head.

"Then I'm ready too!" Bugsy stated. "Let's see if Falkner's taught you anything about what a Gym Battle actually is." Yue was mildly perplexed.

"How do you know that I battled Falkner?" she asked.

"He told me a few days ago that he had sent you along my way, after I was calling about the Ruins of Alph," the Gym Leader briefly explained. "He said that you had the opportunity to surprise me, so I hope he was right." Yue merely nodded.

"Begin the match!" the referee declared, raising both flags into the air.

Yue made the first move, swinging her arm out in front of her. "Flaffy, charge in and use Thundershock!" Flaffy began running towards the Butterfly Pokemon. Halfway towards the Bug/Flying Pokemon, the Wool Pokemon crackled with electricity, and shot a lightning bolt out towards the opponent.

"Dodge it!" called Bugsy. Butterfree flapped its wings, and nimbly flew out of the way of the electric attack. "Now use Tackle!"

"Tackle it too!" Yue ordered. The two Pokemon charged at each other, colliding with great force. However, the damage dealt was different; while Butterfree fluttered and falterd in the air for a few seconds before recovering, Flaffy fell on her back and skidded for a few feet. "Flaffy! Are you alright?" Despite the damage, Flaffy was able to get up quickly.

"Flaff-Flaff!" the Wool Pokemon replied.

"That's good," Yue stated. "Move in with another Tackle attack!"

"Butterfree, use String Shot!" Bugsy declared. Flaffy began to charge the Butterfly Pokemon. However, before she could reach it, the Wool Pokemon was hit with a silky substance shot from Buttefree's mouth. It did not appear to do any visible damage, until Yue noticed that the string had shot around Flaffy's feet. As it bonded together, Flaffy lost balance, and tripped over her now-tied together feet.

"Flaffy!" the purplette called.

"Now use Silver Wind!" Bugsy ordered. Butterfree rose higher into the air, and began to rapidly beat its wings. As it did, silvery particles left its wings, shooting at and damaging Flaffy.

"This isn't looking good!" Ash stated. "There's not much that Flaffy can do when it's tied up like that!"

"We can still attack though!" Yue contended. "Thunderbolt!"

"Flaff!" Flaffy briefly crouched, before extending her arms out and unleashing the attack at Butterfree. "Fiiiiii!"

"To your left Butterfree!" Bugsy ordered. The Butterfly Pokemon was nimbly able to dodge the attack, not making any contact with the beam of lightning. When the attack dissipated, however, another result was able to be seen. "Ah! What happened to the String Shot!" The silk that had once wrapped itself around Flaffy's legs was now suddenly absent.

"The Thunderbolt must have burnt it up!" Brock surmised.

"Come on, Yue!" Dawn cheered. "Now's your chance!"

"Right!" the purplette replied. "Flaffy, use your Thunderbolt attack!" Flaffy once again unleashed a lightning bolt at Butterfree. This time, because Flaffy was able to move around, she was able to aim the attack better, striking the Butterfly Pokemon head-on. It fluttered down towards the ground weakly, nearing the end of its legs.

"Butterfree!" cried Bugsy.

"That was a critical hit!" Barry exclaimed.

"Finish with Iron Tail!" ordered Yue. Flaffy charged at the Butterfly Pokemon, and then spun 360 degrees around, striking Butterfree with a glowing tail. Buterfree was sent halfway across the field, landing on its back about five feet in front of Bugsy, out for the count.

"Freeee…" it groaned.

"Butterfree is unable to continue!" the referee shouted. "Flaffy is the winner!"

"Good job Flaffy!" Yue stated. She only showed a smirk, but mentally she was cheering. 'That's the first time I defeated an opponent's Pokemon in battle! This is a good start!'

"Flaffy Flaff!" Flaffy chirped excitedly

"Alright Yue!" Ash cheered.

"That was amazing!" exclaimed Yue. "I know that Barry was doing his best in the first match, but Yue seems to be on a different level of concentration! She didn't budge at all when Flaffy was put in a pinch!"

"Gee, thanks for putting me down a notch," the aforementioned Pokemon Trainer said with a sigh.

"At least you're not wearing a skirt, sighed Chamo. Once again, Dawn had dressed up the ermine in the same pink cheerleader outfit that Buneary wore, and was forced to cheer Yue on from the sidelines with Piplup and Buneary, who had no stoppage of laughter at the familiar.

"Why do you even let her do that to you?" Barry asked.

"It's tough being short and slender with tiny little paws," the ermine lamented. "You humans have it too good with the height genes, I tell ya." Bugsy had recalled his Butterfree, and now had another Pokeball ready to go.

"Beedrill, let's go!" he said. He released the large Poison Bee Pokemon.

"Kyaah!" Nodoka cried, and jumped behind the others. They looked at her with confusion.

"Nodoka, are you alright?" Brock asked.

"S-Sorry," the bookworm apologized. "Wh-While I am excited with meeting Pokemon, I don't really like the ones that look like giant bugs from our world."

"I wonder what a mini-Beedrill would look like," wondered Ash. Dawn rolled her eyes.

"You really wonder that, of all things?" the blunette groaned. Yue, who had seen a Beedrill before but never identified it, consulted the Pokedex.


"So avoid the stingers basically," the purplette surmised. She turned her attention back to the battlefield. "Alright, Flaffy! Let's start off with a Thunderbolt!"

"Flaffy!" the Wool Pokemon replied. Flaffy once again sent the electric attack at her opponent. However, Beedrill stayed relatively in place, not moving to get out of the way.

"Use Agility, then Poison Jab!" Bugsy ordered. At the last moment, Beedrill moved out of the way in a blinding blur, and quickly closed the gap between the two Pokemon.

"Ah! Flaffy, use Thunderbolt again!" Before Flaffy could respond, Beedrill appeared directly in front of her. The Poison Bee Pokemon thrusted its right stinger at Flaffy, sending her backwards through the air.

"Don't let up Beedrill!" commanded Bugsy. "Twinneedle!" Giving chase, Beedrill quickly got into the air with blinding speed, and got above the flying Flaffy. Using both of its needles, Beedrill stabbed downward, sending the Wool Pokemon crashing into the ground.

"Flaffy!" Yue called. The dust cleared, showing that Flaffy was standing, but using her right arm as a crutch on the ground. "Get up and use Iron Tail!"

"Use Poison Jab again!" Bugsy ordered. The two Pokemon zoomed towards each other; Flaffy jumped and stuck her tail out to hit Beedrill, while the Poison Bee Pokemon stuck its needle out towards the wool Pokemon. While both attacks did connect at the same time, the results were vastly different. Beedrill flew backwards about ten feet before stopping in midair. Flaffy fell to the ground, unable to continue to battle.

"Flaffy is unable to battle!" declared the referee. "Beedril is the winner!"

"Good job out there Beedrill!" Bugsy cheered.

"Bee!" buzzed the Poison Bee Pokemon, raising one of its stingers into the air.

"Return, Flaffy!" Yue stated. She returned Flaffy to her Pokeball. "You did what I asked you to do, and that's all that matters."

"I saw what you tried to do at the beginning, trying to electrocute Beedrill like you did with Butterfree," Bugsy commended. "That's good and all, but when it comes to Beedrill, speed is key. I hope you remember that the speed boost that Beedrill gets from Agility, since you're not going to win with a slugging attitude." Yue nodded.

"I understand that there is more to Pokemon battling than just sheer power," the purplette stated. "There's a method to all madnesses, and you'll see what I have planned." She pulled out her second Pokeball. "Hoothoot, I choose you!" The Pokeball bursts open, revealing the Owl Pokemon, who took flight in the air.

"Hoothoot!" the Owl Pokemon cried.

"Well, Yue is going for the type advantage," Brock noted.

"Yeah," Barry said cautiously. "But with that Agility out there, Beedrill's going to fly around in circles around Hoothoot."

"Come on, Yue!" Ash called. "You can do it!"

"Begin!" the referee announced.

"Hoothoot, start off with a Reflect Attack!" Yue commanded. Hoothoot's eyes glowed, and a clear window-like barrier formed a distance in front of Hoothoot. For his part, Bugsy showed no sign of worry.

"Is that the best that you can put up?" he stated. "Beedrill, Fury Attack!" Beedrill flew right up to the Barrier, and using its stingers, placed a quick and furious assault on the Barrier. After five seconds and a multitude of jabs and thrusts, the Barrier shattered completely.

"Ah!" Yue gasped.

"The Barrier only held for that long?!" Dawn exclaimed.

"That Beedrill is one powerful Pokemon!" Brock stated with worry.

"And now, use Twinneedle!" Bugsy ordered. Beedrill flew straight towards Hoothoot, and quickly jabbed the Owl Pokemon with its twin stingers. Hoothoot was forced onto the ground, skidding for a few feet. As she got up, Hoothoot came face-to-face with Beedrill, who had closed in again.

"This is quickly going from bad to worse!" Chamo stated in panic.

"Get out of there!" Ash yelled to Hoothoot.

"Beedrill, use Poison Jab!" commanded Bugsy. Beedrill raised its right stinger to jab at the Owl Pokemon. Before it could bring the stinger down, however, electricity started to arc across Beedrill's body. All of a sudden, Beedrill stopped moving and twitched in pain.

"B-Bee…" the Poison Bee Pokemon groaned.

"What's going on?!" Bugsy exclaimed. His confusion was shared by the others in the stand.

"How was Hoothoot able to generate electricity?" asked Nodoka. "I thought you guys said that Hoothoot was a Flying Type?"

"She is," Ash stated. "Electricity wouldn't be possible for Hoothoot to create." Suddenly, Brock came to the realization of the situation.

"It wasn't Hoothoot that did that," the Pokemon Breeder declared. "It was Flaffy!"

"Flaffy?" Nodoka stated in confusion. "I thought that Flaffy had been knocked out? How could she be still affecting the battle?" Ash came around to the same thinking as Brock.

"Of course!" the Pokemon Trainer stated. "It had to be Flaffy's Ability, didn't it?" Brock nodded.

"Right," the Breeder said. "Flaffy's Ability is Static, which has a chance to paralyze the opponent. My guess is at the end, when Flaffy used Iron Tail against Beedrill, it wasn't about causing damage; it was to give Static the biggest opportunity to activate on Beedrill!"

"I see!" Nodoka stated in understanding. "Pokemon sure seem to have all sorts of mysteries and surprises to them!" On the battlefield, Yue was mentally exhaling a sigh of relief.

'It looks like the plan to try and paralyze Beedrill worked,' she thought. 'Now at least that Beedrill won't buzz around the playing field as fast as before.' Bugsy realized this as well, and he grunted in frustration.

"We can still win, even if we don't have the speed! Beedrill, get moving!" Even as he said this, Beedrill was still unable to move, still fully paralyzed. "Still no?!"

"Now's our chance, Hoothoot!" declared Yue. "Use Mimic!" Hoothoot quickly jumped up into Beedrill's face. Mimicing the Poison Jab move, the Owl Pokemon made a vicious stab at the Poison Bee Pokemon, forcing Beedrill back away from Hoothoot. "And now, use Peck!" The Owl Pokemon continued to chase Beedrill, pecking and jabbing at the Bug Pokemon, causing significant and serious damage to the Poison Bee Pokemon.

"Alright!" cheered Chamo. "Yuecchi's turned this around!" Waiving a pair of paper fans in the air in the air, the ermine was doing his best impressions of a cheerleader as he jumped and danced around the sidelines bench. "Rah! Rah! Go Yuecchi go!"

"Dude, I thought you were loathing the cheerleader outfit a moment ago?" asked Barry.

"Yeah, well it goes to show how much I care when good things are happening to one of my bro's partners!" Chamo countered. "Give him a left hook, Hooty!"

"But she doesn't even have hands!" Barry exclaimed. "Ah, nevermind, I think he's lost it…"

"We need some offense!" Bugsy stated. "Beedrill, use Fury Attack!" Beedrill was able to shake off some of the paralysis, and charged at Hoothoot with its stingers.

"Up and to the left!" shouted Yue. Hoothoot nodded, and flew in the direction that the purplette had stated, dodging the attack. "Let's finish this! Use Peck!" Flying in a loop, Hoothoot negotiated until she was aimed directly at Beedrill.

"Beedrill, get out of there!" Bugsy ordered. Beedrill tried to move, but static electricity arced over the Poison Bee Pokemon's body. "No, not the paralysis again!"

"Go!" Yue called. Like a military bomber, Hoothoot flew into Beedrill's face, and launched a furious barrage of pecking in Beedrill's face. Beedrill stammererd backwards, then fell over, unable to take the barrage of Flying Type attacks.

"Beedrill!" Bugsy cried. However, no amount of words could help the Poison Bee Pokemon.

"Beedril is unable to battle!" shouted the referee. "Hoothoot is the winner!"

"Good job, Hoothoot!" Yue stated. Hoothoot flew over to Yue, and landed on her head. "Ah…"

"Hoothoot! Hoothoot!" Yue did not want to interrupt Hoothoot's celebration, so she said nothing.

"That's two down!" Chamo stated. "An' Yue has a type advantage over Bug Type Pokemon! This battle should be over in a flash!" Ash was not as sure.

"Normally I would agree with you, but I think I know what Bugsy's last Pokemon is," the raven-haired Trainer stated. "And if it's as strong as it was back when I faced it, Yue's going to be in a tough spot." Bugsy returned Beedrill into its Pokeball.

"You've done well, Beedrill," the Gym Leader stated. He then looked across the field to Yue. "I'm impressed with you, Yue. You've shown a lot of good things that I love to see in a young Pokemon Trainer. You have a level mind, quick thinking, and sound strategy. You should be proud of yourself." Yue and Hoothoot nodded. The Owl Pokemon flew back onto the field, ready for the next round.

"I'll relax once this match is over," said Yue. "While I am thankful for the praise and compliments, they should be saved for after the victor is decided."

"You do have a point," Bugsy stated. He took out a Pokeball. "However, this last Pokemon is one of my trusted partners, and you won't be reveling in victory that easily." He tossed the Pokeball into the air. "Go! Scyther!" Yue recognized the Pokemon that came out of the Pokeball as being the same one that Tracey had back in Pallet Town.

"Scyther!" the Mantis Pokemon cried.

"I figured as much," Ash groaned. "That Scyther gave me problems when I battled Bugsy years in the Johto Circuit."

"Yeah," Brock concurred. "It could have only gotten stronger since that time."

"Begin the match!" declared the referee.

"Go Hoothoot!" Yue commanded. "Use Peck Attack!"

"Dodge out of the way, then get to the back!" Bugsy shouted. While Hoothoot made a beeline for Scyther, the Mantis Pokemon instead flew over the Owl Pokemon, and made it to the back of the room. "Now use Swords Dance!"

"Cyther!" the Mantis Pokemon cried. Scyther moved its scythe-like arms upwards, towards its body. Scyther began to spin around in place, moving in a fast speed.

"Huh?" Chamo wondered. "What is that Scyther doing?" Even Ash could not come up with an answer.

"When Bugsy used Swords Dance against me, he used it as a fire shield against Cyndaquil," he stated.

"But Hoothoot isn't a Fire Type Pokemon," Nodoka said.

"Bugsy was improvising with that move back then," Brock stated, a worried expression dawning on his face. "Swords Dance is a move that greatly raises a user's attack power. Bugsy's trying to finish things off in one blow!"

"That means that Yue won't have any time for strategy if she can't survive a single blow!" exclaimed Dawn.

"Piplup Pip!" the Penguin Pokemon said in agreement.

"Bun!" Buneary cried.

"Hoothoot, strike while Scyther's occupied!" Yue ordered. "Use Peck!"

"Hoothoot!" the Owl Pokemon cried. Hoothoot charged at Scyther, and extended its beak out towards the Mantis Pokemon. Scyther had just broken out of its Swords Dance as Hoothoot reached with her attack, and was unable to defend itself from the Flying Pokemon.

"Get to the other side and use Swords Dance again!" Bugsy called. Scyther flailed its arms around, forcing Hoothoot to break off from attacking. The Mantis Pokemon then flew over to the opposite side of the field. It stopped, brought its arms together, and once again spun around in place.

"Go and use Peck again!" Yue ordered. Hoothoot flew towards the Mantis Pokemon, and qunned for a critical hit.

"Gotcha!" stated Bugsy. "Scyther, use Quick Attack!"

"What?!" the purplette exclaimed. As Hoothoot was halfway across the field, Scyther suddenly broke off its Swords Dance, and charged Hoothoot with a full-body tackle. The lightning-fast attack completely engulfed Hoothoot, sending the Owl Pokemon flying across the battlefield, and taking serious damage.

"Hoothoot!" Yue cried.

"What power!" Barry exclaimed.

"Scyther's gotten way more powerful with its Swords Dance boosts!" Ash exclaimed.

"Let's go!" Bugsy stated. "Aerial Ace!"

"Scyther!" the Mantis Pokemon cried. As Hoothoot tried to get up, Scyther came speeding at the Owl Pokemon. Lifting its right scythe to its side and out, the Mantis Pokemon slashed across Hoothoot's body, causing tremendous damage to the Owl Pokemon. Hoothoot was sent flying across the battlefield, and crashed into a tree behind Yue. The purplette went wide-eyed, and turned around to run and get her Pokemon.

"Hoothoot!" she cried. As she reached her Pokemon, the referee raised the red flag.

"Hoothoot is out of bounds, and is ineligible to continue!" the referee declared. "Scyther is the winner!" Even if Hoothoot was in bounds, it was clear that Hoothoot could not continue further. The Owl Pokemon had serious damage taken to its little body, and was weakly opening her eyes.

"Hoothoot, you did great out there," Yue stated subdued. "Thank you for your participation."

"Hoo…" the Owl Pokemon cooed weakly.

"Take a nice rest," the bibliomaniac said, and withdrew Hoothoot into her Pokeball. She then walked back into the battle box.

"It…it only took two attacks for Scyther to take down Hoothoot," Nodoka stated in stunned shock. "D…Does Yue have a chance…?"

"It's going to be a battle," admitted Brock. "For any fully-evolved Pokemon, two Swords Dances are tough to shake off, but Yue doesn't have any fully-evolved Pokemon."

"Man, this isn't pretty," Chamo groaned. Ash had his hand on his chin, and was looking at Scyther intensely. He then looked at Yue. The purplette clenched her last Pokeball, the one containing Squirtle, with a strong, firm grip. Her eyes were staring not at Scyther, but at Bugsy, her opponent on the other side of the battlefield.

"I think Yue still has a good shot at this," the Pokemon Trainer declared. The others looked at him with surprised looks.

"And what makes you think that?" asked Dawn incredulously. "Is this your 'Classic Ash' coming to fruition, or are you just making a hunch?" It took a few seconds for Ash to answer.

"Call it a hunch if you will, but Yue is not going to be backing down easily," he replied. "She has the will to push through impossible odds. I wouldn't place doubts on her just yet." A few seconds of silence occurred between the players on the sidelines. Dawn opened her mouth, but before she could speak, someone else voiced their opinion.

"I agree," said Nodoka. "I don't have any reason for doubt. Yue is my friend, and I'll support her even when nobody else is." She then turned to Ash, locking eyes with him. "Besides, you believed in saving me, a stranger, when faced with formidable odds. I don't have reason to doubt you." Ash was surprised at this statement at first, but soon understood, and smiled at the bookworm.

"Looks like this is the final round," Yue stated to Bugsy. "Since you've gone this far, and relied on your most trusted partner, it's time to show you what my partner can do!" The purplette pulled upright, then with incredible force, threw the Pokeball forward towards the battle. "Squirtle, I choose you!"

The Pokeball flew high in the air, before opening up in a brilliant burst of light, releasing into Yue's Squirtle. "Quirtle!" Squirtle seemed to have the same determined look that his trainer had.

"Final round, Squirtle versus Scyther!" the referee announced, raising his two flags into the air. "Begin the match!"

"Let's get this done quickly!" called out Bugsy. "Quick Attack, go!"

"Scyther!" the Mantis Pokemon cried. Quickly zooming off towards Squirtle, Scyther prepared to deliver a devastating blow to the Tiny Turtle Pokemon.

"Withdraw!" Yue ordered.

"Squirt!" the Pokemon yelped, and disappeared into his shell. A second later, Scyther rammed the Tiny Turtle Pokemon. Instead of dealing a massive blow, however, it seemed that the Mantis Pokemon had hurt itself, as Scyther moved backwards from the shell in pain.

"Scyyy!" the Mantis Pokemon groaned.

"What the?!" groaned Bugsy. Yue threw her arm out forward.

"Come back out and use Ice Punch!" she declared. In a flash, Squirtle returned from his abode, tapped briefly on the ground, and then lunged back into the air at Scyther. Cocking his right fist, the Tiny Turtle Pokemon slammed an icy punch at the Mantis Pokemon, sending it reeling backwards.

"Awesome!" cheered Barry. "By hiding in its shell, Squirtle avoided the brunt of the attack, and was able to come back quickly with a super effective attack!"

"Let's keep going!" Yue called. "Use Bubble Attack!" Rearing back his head, Squirtle unleashed a stream of bubbles towards the Mantis Pokemon.

"Slash those Bubbles!" shouted Bugsy. Using its scythes, the Mantis Pokemon nimbly hacked and slashed away at the onslaught of bubbles. "Now use Aerial Ace!"

"Scyther!" With blinding speed, the Mantis Pokemon rushed towards Squirtle, making up the distance between the two Pokemon in near-record time.

"Withdraw!" called Yue. Squirtle entered his shell, and once again was protected from any damage. The shell was pushed backwards for some distance, before coming to rest on the ground, upside-down. When Squirtle popped out of the shell, the Tiny Turtle Pokemon's arms and legs were unable to reach the ground.

"Squr?" the Tiny Turtle Pokemon said in confusion. When the realization hit him, Squirtle went into a panic, helplessly flailing his arms around in a vain attempt to get up. "Squir! Squir! Squir!"

"Squirtle!" Yue shouted.

"This isn't good!" Brock stated. "On the back of the shell, Squirtle can't move at all!"

"X-Scissor!" Bugsy commanded.

"Scy!" Scyther rushed towards the helpless Squirtle. The Mantis Pokemon raised both of its scythes high into the air, before slashing them across Squirtle's vulnerable underbelly in a crossing motion. "Scy…THER!"

"SQUIRR!" Squirtle was scent flying across the field, nearly falling out of bounds in front of Yue. The Tiny Turtle Pokemon skidded on his injured belly for a few feet before coming to rest.

"Oh no, Squirtle!" Dawn gasped.

"Squirtle just took a direct hit from that boosted X-Scissor!" Barry stated. "If this isn't over now, it's close to it!" Yue, meanwhile, had to refrain from stepping onto the battlefield and tending to her Pokemon's wounds. Doing so would end the challenge then and there.

"Are you alright Squirtle?!" the purplette asked. Squirtle did not move for a second, before beginning to struggle up, and returned upright on two legs.

"Squir….tle…." It was clear that the battle was taking its toll on the young Pokemon, as he was worn and weary, gasping for breath at every opportunity.

"I'll say again, I commend you for getting this far," Bugsy said to Yue. "However, most Trainers usually visit me after proving themselves to Falkner, and are at least a few levels stronger than you are now. I won't blame you for ending your challenge now, and trying again after you become stronger."

The thought had crossed Yue's mind. For the second time, she was being bested by a Gym Leader's Pokemon. While Butterfree and Beedrill's tactics were easily dispersed, Scyther was proving that there was no easy way to counteract Swords Dance's immense power.

'Maybe we should take it again,' she pondered. 'I know some of his tactics, as well as his Pokemon. If I can put those to good use…but I'll need a way to break through that Swords Dance powerup…'

"No way." The purplette was snapped out of her thought bubble by a familiar face. Turning, she looked to see that Ash had gotten off his bench, and was now next to her, just outside the trainer's box.

"Huh?" she stated in surprise.

"What do you mean, Ash?" Bugsy inquired.

"Yue has the resolve to stay through the end of this match," the raven haired trainer announced. "She's decided to use the Gym Challenge here in Johto to figure out a way to get home. If she quits here, it's like quitting on all of her friends. Besides, the two of us have been training together for moments like this. If I could break through Swords Dance with Cyndaquil a few years ago, then Squirtle can get past it too."

Bugsy placed a hand on his waist. "Heh, I will have to admit that even at that young partnership you had with that newly-caught Pokemon, you were able to best me and Scyther, Ash. But that was a while ago. Scyther and I are stronger now, and we'll prove it!" The Gym Leader looked at his Pokemon. "Scyther, another Swords Dance!"

"Scy Scyther!" Once again, the Mantis Pokemon began to spin around in its spot, brandishing its scythes together.

"That makes three…" Chamo noted.

"Now any hit landed by Scyther will definitely be the last!" Brock said worriedly.

Ash turned to speak with Yue. "You're almost there. I think one or two well-timed hits can take Scyther down. Just be mindful of Scyther's speed, and you should be fine." The Pokemon Trainer turned around, and headed back towards the benches.

"How do you have so much faith in me with this?" Yue asked him. Ash stopped, and turned back to face the bibliomaniac.

"You're doing what I would do," he stated calmly. "That, and I trust you. If I don't trust my friends, I can't trust myself." He flashed a soft, innocent smile, one that made Yue blush slightly. Then, without saying another word, he continued back to the bench.

'That idiot…' the purplette thought to herself. 'Putting so much trust in me when I don't have a complete trust in myself. How is there any way to conquer so much power and speed if I don't have anything to…' A thought occurred to her. Taking out the Pokedex, Yue quickly checked Squirtle's moves. 'Of course! That's what he was trying to tell me! It's not certain, but if I can pull this off…' At that moment, Scyther came out of the Swords Dance.

"Scyther, let's end the battle!" Bugsy commanded. "Use X-Scissor!" Scyther rushed at Squirtle with what might be the deciding blow of the battle.

"Squirtle, Bubble, and dodge out of the way at the last second!" Yue shouted. Squirtle quickly shot forth a stream of bubbles towards Scyther. Compared to the power that the Mantis Pokemon currently had, however, the bubbles seemed to be dust specks.

"Scyther, cut them down, and continue on!" Bugsy ordered. "Chase after Squirtle!" Complying, Scyther hacked at the bubbles. Cutting the bubbles caused very little damage, to the Mantis Pokemon, and the attack continued right towards the Tiny Turtle Pokemon. While Squirtle jumped out of the way, the Mantis Pokemon anticipated the dodge, and followed Squirtle's short arc through the air. With one move, Scyther brought up the attack over Squirtle's head, just as the Tiny Turtle Pokemon touched the ground…

…but when the scythe was brought down, all it hit was dirt.

"Scy?!" the Mantis Pokemon cried in confusion.

"What's this?!" Bugsy stated in equal shock.

"Tackle!" Yue called out. Squirtle had jumped to the side of the attack, dodging it in the process. With one move, the Tiny Turtle Pokemon stepped on the ground, and with a quick pivot, launched himself towards Scyther with tremendous speed.

"Squirrrrrr-TLLLLEE!" With a loud crash, the Tiny Turtle Pokemon full body tackled the Mantis Pokemon, sending Scyther back by several feet.

"Scyther, get back in there!" Bugsy exclaimed. "Use Quick Attack!" Scyther was standing at a much closer distance to Squirtle than previous times, so when Yue ordered for a Withdraw, it seemed like the order would not be for much gain. However, as Scyther was within a few inches of striking, Squirtle disappeared within his sturdy abode. Remembering that Squirtle was liable for an Ice Punch immediately after, the Mantis Pokemon shot Squirtle across the field, far enough away so that Scyther would be out of easy range.

While this was going on, the crowd on the bench tried to make sense of the sudden turnaround of the battle, starting with Barry. "What the heck? First, it looked like this battle would be over in a second, and now Scyther seems to have gotten a bad case of double vision!"

"Even I'm at a loss for what's going on," Brock admitted. "It's as if Squirtle's been given a new wind!" Nodoka, who had been quietly observing since the battle resumed, then spoke up.

"Um, doesn't it seem like Bugsy's Pokemon has gotten slower?" she asked. This confused the trainers, so everyone turned their focus away from Squirtle, and onto Scyther. As the Mantis Pokemon moved throughout the air, it was going at a high rate of speed. However…

"…Yeah, it does look a little sluggish compared to earlier," Chamo noticed.

"What could have done that?" Dawn wondered. "Nothing was given to Scyther during the battle, so it can't be an item effect."

"The only thing that happened before was a Bubble attack…" Barry started, but he was cut off from continuing by Brock.

"Of course!" the Pokemon Breeder exclaimed, reaching an epiphany. "It's the bubbles!"

"The bubbles?" Barry repeated. "What's that got to do with this?"

"Bubble Attack has a slight chance of lowering the opponent's Speed," Brock explained. "There must have been a Speed drop with that Bubble Attack, allowing Squirtle to jump out of the way in time!"

"I see!" Dawn said, continuing on with Brock's explanation. "It's not that Squirtle got faster; Scyther got slower!" Her face of excitedness then turned to one of surprise. She, followed by the others, turned towards the one person who had not contributed to the conversation.

"What?" stated Ash. "Just because I sometimes make mistakes doesn't mean that I don't have the right ideas."

"I am seriously considering seeing you in a different light, Ash," Brock told him. The others nodded their heads, to which Ash simply shrugged.

"Scyther, use Aerial Ace!" Bugsy called out. "We need to end this fast!" Scyther charged at the Tiny Turtle Pokemon, but the Speed drop made the otherwise fast attack execute at a much more pedestrian pace, allowing Yue time to counter.

"Rush in with Bubble, Squirtle!" she ordered. Squirtle took a deep breath, then blew out another stream of bubbles in front of Scyther.

"These are getting to be rather troublesome!" the Gym Leader stated, gritting his teeth. "Cut them up again!" Using the Aerial Ace attack, the Mantis Pokemon cut up each bubble one by one. However, it seemed that each bubble made Scyther move even more slower than before. "Tch, not another Speed drop!"

"That's what we were planning on!" Yue declared. "Ice Punch!" As Scyther popped the last Bubble, Squirtle came into view immediately behind it, at close range. Bugsy was impressed.

"You used the Bubble as a cover?!" he exclaimed. Squirtle cocked his right fist, which became encased in ice, and delivered an uppercut blow to Scyther. The Bug/Flying Type Pokemon howled in pain, before falling backwards on the ground. Squirtle landed on the ground in front of the Mantis Pokemon, and turned around, ready to continue. Yue, equally tense, awaited Scyther to get up and continue battling.

That moment never happened.

"Scyther is unable to continue!" the referee shouted, raising his green flag high into the air. "Squirtle is the winner!" He then pointed the flag towards Yue. "The Gym Leader Bugsy has no remaining Pokemon he can use. Therefore, the winner of this match is the challenger, Yue Ayase!"


Yue Ayase.

Three words that seemed to strike Yue from her blindside, as the purplette could only stand in a neutral, shocked silence. "I…won?"

"You did it, Yue!" Her first congratulations came from her closest friend, Nodoka Miyazaki. The bookworm, usually shy, had run out to the Trainer's Box, and clasped both of Yue's hands with her own. "I don't know how you were able to do it, but you did! That was amazing!"

"Y…Yeah, I guess I did…" Yue replied. Squirtle was next, leaping onto his trainer's face with such vigor that Yue fell onto the ground. "Ah! Squirtle?!"

"Squirtle! Squirtle-Squirt-Squirtle Squirtle!" The Tiny Turtle Pokemon seemed to be channeling all of the excitement she could muster, as her tail was wagging back and forth in rapid motion. Yue managed to pull the Tiny Turtle Pokemon off of her face, and, despite her normally neutral expression on her face, the bibliomaniac could not help but offer a soft smile at her Pokemon.

"You did a really great job out there, Squirtle," she stated. "I couldn't have done it without you in the end." She then looked up, and noticed that there was a gloved hand extended out towards her. "Although I would have been sunk if you hadn't reminded me to keep my mind in the battle, Ash." The raven haired trainer smiled, causing Yue to blush again.

"You were the one that was battling out there, not me," he stated. "Come on, I think Bugsy has something for you." Yue's smile grew larger.

"Yeah," she said, and grasped Ash's hand, allowing him to pull her up. The two, combined with the others, walked over to Bugsy. The Gym Leader had just recalled Scyther, and was looking rather embarrassed.

"Now I look like an idiot for suggesting that you should have conceded the battle," Bugsy said sheepishly. "You were able to turn that around in a hurry; it just goes to show that my own research into Pokemon isn't complete just yet."

"You were able to push me into a corner," Yue admitted. "It would not have been such a good battle if you hadn't done that, so don't beat up on yourself that much. I have only been in the Pokemon World for only a short while, while you have been living here for years. Your knowledge of Pokemon far surpasses mine." This made Bugsy smile.

"That may be well said, but you've proven to me that you are my superior in strength." He took out a small pin from his pocket. The pin looked like a ladybug, with three black dots on a red circular background. The top quarter of the pin was black, giving the impression of a head. "This is the Hive Badge, which is confired to those that have bested me in an official Gym Battle. Take it, it's yours!" Yue took the badge from Bugsy. The badge seemed to have an extra glisten after she took hold of it.

'This proves that I am able to hold my own in battle,' Yue thought to herself. 'And is proof that I have the strength needed to find Professor Negi and the others.' Remembering what Ash had done at the Battle Factory, she held her newly-acquired badge high in the air. "Alright! We have our first badge, the Hive Badge!"

"Squirtle-Squirtle!" cheered Squirtle.

"Oh yeah!" Chamo cheered, crashing in on the celebration. The ermine's appearance in the cheering spectacle seemed misplaced in Yue's eyes.

"Hey, you weren't the one who was battling out there," she pointed out.

"I was forced into this stupid dress to cheer you on, so naturally, I get to help out with the festive spirit!" Chamo countered. "Besides, don't you get to thank all those who helped you, Yuecchi-GWAH?!" At the mention of her nickname, Yue planted her foot right on Chamo's tail. "OW! OW! TORTURE! ANIMAL CRULETY! MALPRACTICE! ANYBODY!" The others simply sweatdropped, knowing that Chamo had brought this onto himself.

"Ash, Nodoka, Brock, Dawn, Barry…" Yue stated. "Thank you for all the help that you gave me today. Each of you contributed to me reaching this moment, so I have your gratitude with me."

"Even though my contributions were only in watching me lose…" muttered Barry. This made Dawn elbow her friend in the side. "Ow!"

"It was our pleasure!" Dawn stated, putting on an innocent smile to counter Barry's glaring stare.

"But remember that it was your own abilities, as well as those of your Pokemon, that got you here," Brock continued.

"You are making great strides," Ash finished. "And I can't wait to see you take this all the way to everyone else!"

"Everyone will be so amazed to see you like this when we meet up!" Nodoka said with assurance. Yue nodded, giving off a smile that said that better days were ahead.

Chamo, meanwhile, had fainted from the shock of not being mentioned at all.

Chisame had been instructed before the others had left for the Gym to check out everyone from the Pokemon Center's rooms. They would check back in if Yue lost, or Barry would if he lost, but they had all banked on good faith of the battles that were to come. So as soon as she was dry and changed from her shower, and her bandages had been wrapped around her head, the net idol packed her things, and headed down to return the keys to their rooms to Nurse Joy.

"Thank you for staying at the Pokemon Center!" stated Nurse Joy to Chisame. "I hope your head is feeling much better." Chisame nodded.

"It is…It's still a little sore, but I can't just stay in bed all day to get better," the redhead replied. "Besides, my friends and I wanted to check out today anyway. We want to get through Ilex Forest and into Goldenrod City as soon as possible."

"Pika-Pikachu," agreed the Electric Mouse Pokemon, who was on Chisame's left shoulder.

"Are you stopping anywhere in Ilex Forest, or simply cutting through nonstop?" the Pokemon nurse asked. Chisame looked at Pikachu. The Electric Mouse shook his head, signaling that he knew no such plans.

"No, we're just heading to Goldenrod to get to the next Gym," she stated.

"In that case, you can probably avoid Ilex Forest altogether," the nurse replied. "A cycling road opened up not far out of town. It cuts right across the Forest, so what used to take a week or two to get through the forest can now be done in a handful of hours." Hearing that they did not have to go through the forest made Chisame very happy, even if she did not show it.

"That's good," the girl replied. "Any forest for the next few months is too soon for me…" She did not want to admit it, but her rather uncomfortable experience in Viridian Forest had given her a phobia of the more wooded locations.

"Beg pardon?" Nurse Joy asked. Chisame snapped out of her thoughts.

"No, it's nothing," the net idol stated. "Anyway, goodbye Nurse Joy!"

"Goodbye!" the nurse stated with a warm smile. "Safe journeys ahead!" Chisame headed towards the door. As soon as she turned around, the warm smile that she had given the Pokemon Doctor faded into her usual stoic face. "Not that I'm ungrateful or such, but everyone here is too cheerful. It's like seeing Professor Negi and his sunny students every day. You'd think some would have Team Rocket's lesser-than-happy attitudes about life."

"Pika…" Pikachu wondered. He did not really understand what the redhead was trying to convey. As they exited the door, they could hear the sound of running, and Nurse Joy shouting at somebody for running indoors. The two got twenty-five feet clear of the door when it opened, and the sound of three footsteps rushed outside. Chisame was able to turn around, just as three assailants leapt for her and Pikachu.

"SURPRISE CAPTURE!" the three yelled. Their sneak-attack, however sudden, was short-lived: a quick sidestep ensured that the three landed face-first on the dirt ground. "UGH!"

"Great," cursed Chisame. "Mention Team Rocket at all, and you get the three stooges appearing in a heartbeat."

"Pika-Pikachu!" growled the Electric Mouse Pokemon. The three got up rather quickly to retort the statement.

"Listen here, you prick!" Jessie declared. "We just spent the last hour combing the Pokemon Center for you and your twerpy friends, only to find you nonchalantly strolling out of the Pokemon Center like you were going to frolic!"

"That's right!" added James. "We had to miss breakfast to catch the early break on you guys, but you have to make us look until lunchtime!" He pointed towards Pikachu. "Now hand over Pikachu and the others!" Chisame groaned.

"First of all, I'm not as happy-go-lucky as the others are by a long shot, so I wasn't nonchalantly strolling away," she retorted. "Second, the others are at the Pokemon Gym, and unless you want to face Bugsy so soon after your organization terrorized Azalea Town, you'll want to not go after them." The second statement made the three groan.

"You mean we could've simply waited 'till after lunch to get the Twoips?" Meowth groaned. "Man, and we was sure dat an early start would've surprised you all before we went hungry!"

"Now we starved for nothing…" James grumbled. The two received fists to their heads from their comrade. "Gah!"

"Stop thinking about food at a time like this, or I'll give both of you knuckle sandwiches!" the red-haired Rocket ordered. "Anyway, we can still take Pikachu right now!"

"Dat's right!" Meowth stated. "It's only youse two, and Pikachu alone isn't gonna be enough to face off the two of you, 'specially since youse aren't a Trainer." The three Rockets took a step forward. Pikachu chittered on Chisame's shoulder, sparks occasionally radiating from his cheeks.

'They are right, though,' the net idol though to herself. 'I could command Pikachu, but I don't have as much knowledge as Ash or the others are…is my only option to run to the Gym and get help?'

"What's all this?" a voice stated from behind the Team Rocket trio. The three turned around. A large figure stood no more than five feet away from the group. He was wrapped up in a large red cloak over a grey shirt and pants, and his shoulderblade-length grey-blue hair obscured his left eye. The sight of this man caused the three Team Rocket members to jump out of their skins.

"Ah!" they yelped. "It's the Sinnoh Smasher!" The three jump behind Chisame, cowering in fear.

"Wa?!" stated a confused Chisame. "What are you doing, getting behind my back?!"

"Please understand, it's not like we're after Pikachu or your friends or anything, ehehe…." James stated nervously.

"We just don't want to tangle with the wrong sort of people, and we want to make sure you don't either," Jessie added in the same tone. Chisame raised a curious eyebrow.

"Seriously, is this a joke?" she asked. "What's gotten into you?"

"I seriously hope that you weren't trying to rob this poor, innocent girl of her Pokemon," the man stated. Team Rocket sweatdropped. "I believe that Team Rocket recently got chased from this town, so a bunch of petty, simpleminded crooks from their lowest ranks will be Officer Jenny bait if I tell the right sources." Team Rocket nervously laughed, their sweatdrops having gotten incrementally bigger each time the man insulted them.

"Don't even bother," another voice stated from behind the man. This voice was much better known to Chisame and Pikachu, as its owner stepped out into sight. "These three are incompetent enough to not be worth the police's time."

"You're…Paul?" Chisame stated in surprise.


"It's the Anti-Twerp!" Team Rocket stated. Paul took notice at Pikachu on Chisame's shoulders.

"What are you doing with Ash's Pokemon?" he stated. "Don't tell me he's finally realized how worthless an unevolved Pokemon is and passed it off to you?" The insult was not taken kindly by the Electric Mouse Pokemon.

"Pika, PikaPika, PikachuPi!" he barked.

"Hey, hey, cool it!" Chisame stated to the Pokemon. She then turned her attention to Paul. "I'm not a trainer; Pikachu's just looking out for me while the others are out at the Gym for Yue's Pokemon battle."

"Humph!" Paul stated. "They should've been back by now, considering how easy that Gym Leader was." He took out a case from his pocket. Opening it, he showed Chisame and Pikachu that he had three badges, including the Hive Badge. "Then again, for someone who's never been in a Pokemon Battle before, I doubt you'd understand." Chisame gritted her teeth, as did Pikachu.

"Now, now," the man stated, trying to ease the tensions between the two. "I thought you were here to battle me, not to trade insults back and forth with aspiring young women." He then looked at the four. "Actually, your timing is impeccable. I need a referee so that the two of us can battle each other. Young Paul here wants to prove that his Pokemon could do better in a fight with me than Ash's." The man then walked up to Chisame, while focused on Pikachu. He placed a hand underneath Pikachu's chin, and rubbed it gently, causing a once-apprehensive Electric Mouse Pokemon to be calm and cheery once more. "Granted, you and your Pokemon friends did the best fight anyone put up against me in a long time before our battle got interrupted, so this ought to be a show."

"Let me get dis straight," Meowth repeated. "You want one of us ta officiate a match between da strongest trainer in Sinnoh an' Mistah Antagonist here?"

"That's about right," the man stated. "Let's head to the practice fields behind the Pokemon Center." He and Paul began walking. As the man walked past Team Rocket, he turned his head towards them, giving the three the nastiest glare that Chisame had seen since arriving in the Pokemon World. "Oh, and if you three try to pull something, I think you know what will happen to you." This warning sent the hairs on all three Rockets on end.

"Y-Yes sir!" they stated together. The man put on a smile, then turned forward again.

"Forget what I said earlier," Chisame stated in surprise. "It'd be tough to find anyone at Mahora that's that angsty and dark." She then turned to the three Rockets. They were still shaking in their feet. "Why are you three all nervous? And furthermore, why are you all agreeing to all his demands when you're all against the law?" Jessie and James looked at the Net Idol.

"Didn't the Twerps tell you?" Jessie asked. "That man was the main Twerp's opponent in the Sinnoh Conference before it was interrupted by Magical Twerp's appearance. And by opponent, I mean tormentor, because he was winning by a wide margin."

"That man is the only person I've seen take on the Twerp and wipe the floor with him like a ragdoll," James added. "That man is him, Tobias."

To Be Continued…