Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon.

"Speech"

'Thoughts'

"Telepathy"

Author Notes: Chapter 6! Ready and here! =) Woohoo!

And, I'd like to announce I've gotten four beta-readers! xD Yes. I have 4 BETA-READERS. Hahahah xD Ri2, Shakari, csigamer1990 and Soldier Of The Future. Thanks to all of you. And I've made a pretty nice structure for the way my chapters are checked, so I'm happy. And it's efficient too! Yay! Thanks betas! :D

Enjoy the chapter!

Chapter 6 - First Hoenn Gym Battle! Ash vs Norman!


"Petalburg City should be just past that hill," May informed the group, smiling kindly to them.

"We're here at last! It's Petalburg City!" Ash exclaimed happily with a small sense of impatience. He ran as fast as his legs could take him up the hill and quickly reached the top of it, which presented him with a scenic view of the city on the other side, a city in which his first Hoenn Gym challenge resided.

"Yeah!" Pikachu agreed enthusiastically, giving a toothy grin. "Those Houndoom from last night were a very nice warm up for the gym over there. Let's go for the win!"

Ash nodded rapidly. "Yep! The first Hoenn Gym Badge is mine!" The trainer shouted happily. "Let's go, there's not a single second to lose!" He added cheerily as he walked down the road that would lead him into the city. Latias giggled childishly and shook her head, very amused at Ash's overeager attitude to get to the city and his first gym; it reminded her of how eager he was before getting his last badge, the Rising Badge from Blackthorn Gym, back in Johto. Latios just followed along silently, not as cheerful or enthusiastic as Latias, Pikachu or Ash.

"Hey Ash! Do you mind slowing down for us!?" Bianca yelled in exasperation, gasping heavily for breaths as she reached the top of the same hill."What's with the rush?" She asked between pants. She definitively wasn't used to walks like this yet.

"My badge is waiting for me, that's what's with the rush," Ash answered, stopping mid-step as he turned back to look at herwith a sense of enthusiasm and edginess. "It's already noon, I want it today! I hate it when I have to wait until the next day to battle Gym Leaders!"

May frowned as she caught up with Bianca, also panting heavily from exhaustion; she had the misfortune of having to drag her bike with her. "Ash, the gym is not going to go anywhere," she said, glaring at him.

Ash pouted. "But the daylight is going away," he countered, looking at the sun, high up in the sky. Due to the interruption in the night made by Team Magma, the group had gone to bed really late and thus, to compensate for the tiring experience, had slept in past midday.

Bianca glared at Ash in a really frightening way, prompting Ash to hide behind Latias. "Ash," she began in a steely voice. "We are going to slow down, okay?" Her tone of voice left zero room for arguing. Ash nodded rapidly, gripping Latias' wing tightly.

"Ash, remember that neither of them are used to long-distance walks like you are," Latias chided him. "They're both very tired. Even if we slow down, we have enough sunlight to get to the gym in time, okay Ash?" She told him kindly, smiling sweetly.

Ash sighed, knowing he had lost the argument. "Okay Latias," he conceded with a defeated tone.

May blinked, looking in great interest at the red dragoness and Ash. "You know Ash; it's still pretty weird seeing you talk to Pokémon like that, it's... like it's something casual for you."

Ash chuckled nervously, scratching the back of his head. "I get that comment a lot," he replied meekly. "And yeah, it's an everyday thing for me. Guess I should consider myself lucky."

May tilted her head to the side as she focused on Ash's eyes and got a good look at them. She noticed how the irises had a reddish coloration when she looked at them from the right angle. It was an odd feature and the brown-haired girl only wondered how such a rare coloration was possible."Wow, you've got really pretty eyes Ash," May commented. "And a really odd color, darkish red would make an awesome fashion combination with the right clothes."

Ash paused and blinked at the rather unexpected comment. "Uh... thanks?" He said uneasily, uncertain of how to properly reply to such a compliment.

Bianca laughed at Ash's expression before turning her attention towards May."You just noticed that now?" She asked in amusement.

"Yeah," May answered, chuckling Mareepishly. "I didn't really pay attention to them yesterday, and it's not like I'd expect to find something this interesting if I looked at them closely, they seem plain black from a distance."

"Hey, I know I have red eyes and it's a cool feature and all, but can we continue to the Pokémon gym?!" Ash exclaimed with his raring-to-go self once again, raising his hands dramatically and pointing at the city. Latias and Pikachu simply laughed at his gesture.

Bianca chuckled. "Okay, okay, you win Ash, let's go," she said. "But let's take it easy, my feet are killing me."

"Latios can carry you," Ash commented as the group started walking down the road again, not at a pace he'd like, but at least they were on the move now.

"Yes, he can," Bianca admitted as she felt the soreness of her feet wearing into her nerves numbly. "But I don't want to seem like I can't take a walk since that'd make me look weak. Plus, I need to get used to this if I'll travel with you from now on and this is the only way that will happen."

"And we're about to enter a city. We'll turn invisible when we do so," Latias added via telepathy. "Right, Latios?" She asked, and frowned when she got no answer from him, making her blink and look at her slightly older sibling in confusion. He was floating a good distance in front of them, lost in his own train of thoughts.

Bianca nodded at her in agreement. "Yes, that too Latias. A floating girl would look very weird."

May blinked in confusion, looking at Bianca as she did so. "Yes, what?"

"Latias talked to me telepathically, I was agreeing with her," Bianca explained.

"Ah," May muttered in acknowledgment, then turned to look at Ash. "So your battle's a big thing?" She asked curiously.

Ash nodded eagerly with a reaction of courage and pride. "Yes! When I win against the Gym Leader at the Petalburg Gym, I'll be given a badge as a result of the victory. When I've gathered eight of those badges from different Gyms, I'll qualify for the Hoenn League," Ash explained to her in simple terms. "Once I reach the League, I'll be competing against plenty of other trainers for the championship title!"

May hummed in response to the information Ash had explained to her. "How did you do in your last league?" She questioned him, wondering how good of a trainer he was.

"My last league was the Johto League Silver Conference. I placed third in the tournament," Ash answered proudly, grinning widely. "It was so great to make it that far…"

May's eyes widened slightly. She wasn't really into stuff like that, but she knew from her little brother that simply getting into even the sixteenth place of a Pokémon League was an arduously difficult feat that required much more than just luck and powerful Pokémon. "Wow, really?"

Ash nodded affirmatively. "Yep."

"That's really amazing…" May commented, realizing that perhaps Ash was an even better trainer than she had thought. "Well, having Pokémon the likes of Latios and Latias… it's easy to see how you got so far."

"Just one thing, though. I only used Latios in the Silver Conference," Ash corrected her. "Latias was… uh, our team moral support. That and she wasn't exactly a party member of my team at that time."

Latias giggled childishly, feeling slightly flattered from Ash's mention of her 'role' at that time. "A most important job," she said happily while grinning sweetly at him.

Ash laughed and gently stroked her neck with his gloved hand. "Of course it was, Latias."

Bianca frowned upon hearing a mention of the older blue Eon dragon. "Speaking of which…uh, Latios? He has been awfully quiet the entire trip."

"Now that you mention it…" Ash admitted. "He's been really quiet." He looked around and saw that Latios was flying down the path a good distance in front of the group, as if he hadn't noticed they had made a quick stop earlier. "Hey, Latios!" He called out loudly. "Latios!"

Latios jerked visibly and looked around, realized his mistake and quickly flew back to the group. "Uh, sorry," he apologized, lowering his gaze slightly.

Bianca laughed as she put her hand on his upper neck and started to scratch his feathers, making him lightly arch to her touch. "It's okay Latios. What are you so distracted about? You've been terribly quiet and out of the group," she asked, her voice soft.

Latios sighed wearily. "Something I learned during the night when those packs of idiots attacked us…" He answered slowly, his telepathic voice low and mixed with a feeling of anger and worry.

"Oh, what is it?" Bianca asked curiously. Ash, Pikachu, and Latias edged closer, interested in listening to what the large Dragon and Psychic-type had to articulate. May scowled a bit since she felt left out of the conversation, mainly because she couldn't hear a thing.

"When we had them all captured and tied up, I wanted to find out the motives behind their actions, so I read their minds before we entered the Pokémon Center and left them for Officer Jenny," Latios began, speaking telepathically so that Bianca could understand him without needing separate translating, but before he could continue he was interrupted by Ash.

"Latios! I thought I told you I didn't like it when you harmed others like that!" Ash reprimanded the Eon dragon, crossing his arms with a look of disapproval.

Latios winced slightly, remembering how angry he had gotten to the point he almost killed the Team Magma grunts and their Pokémon, but he dismissed that and focused on answering Ash. He shook his head. "No Ash, I didn't harm them. I read their minds mostly painlessly. Anyway, I did that to learn the reason behind their attack and also to learn where they were from. What I found out was very worrying," he continued after pausing for a moment. "They were members of a criminal organization called Team Magma. Their goal is to use Groudon to expand the land of the world enough to nearly erase the world's oceans, which is astoundingly stupid to do. The sea is vital to life and doing that would kill millions of Pokémon that live in the water, not to mention affect all the humans that rely on sea resources. With their knowledge and information about those two… it's a pretty dangerous situation. I've been thinking about that."

Ash gasped in shock, with Latias and Pikachu mimicking his response. Bianca's eyes widened with complete disbelief. "That's bad… I think. What's the point of expanding the land?" Ash asked with doubt.

Latios shrugged and sighed. "I have no idea but they're trying to do it, and what makes it very dangerous is that they've got a very good idea of how to do it." The Eon dragon frowned contemptuously. "And that's not the worst of it. There's another criminal organization that are big rivals of Team Magma referred to as Team Aqua. Their goal is practically the same with the exception that they want Kyogre and they're going to expand the ocean by sinking the land. Whatever their motives are, it's best to not know of the aftermath if their ambitions become a reality."

"We've got to stop them both!" Ash shouted in alarm. Bianca, Pikachu and Latias stared at Latios, visibly troubled as well.

"There are a couple problems with that. I don't think we can stop them as we are now," Latios began unhappily. "First, their numbers are vast. We fought a single attack team of eight and had troubles dealing with them, and we technically only beat five of them since three got away. They've got a lot more than that. I doubt we can fight so many opponents. We'd be very easily overwhelmed. And second, according to what the grunts whose minds I read knew, the field commander of the team knows at any given moment the location of their main base, which is a colossal machine that can move around, which we can't track down since I was unable to read his mind. The rest of the bases they have through Hoenn are too well defended. And that's only Team Magma, I know very little about Team Aqua as none of the grunts knew anything useful, so I have no idea who they are or how to even begin to find them," Latios explained, his tone saddened.

Ash sighed in dismay. "So what are we gonna do? I don't just want to leave it as it is," he muttered miserably. "We can't let them just run around free as they plan to hurt the world!"

"We could tell the police," Bianca suggested helpfully.

"They already know," Latias answered to her idea. "They just arrested five of them yesterday."

Bianca nodded and scratched her head with a dumbfounded expression. "Oh, right."

"It's not like we can do much Ash," Latios resumed. "We can't find them and even if we did, they're too powerful for us to deal with them for now," the blue-colored dragon spoke with a tone of reasoning. "But if anything, we have some luck on our side. Their plans have only begun to unfold, so there's plenty of time for us to plot a strategy to halt them. Somehow, I hope."

Ash nodded, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "I guess so… we have some time to deal with them… but what if time runs out?"

Latios hummed before answering his trainer's question. "For now… we hope it doesn't. We can gather information on them as we travel throughout Hoenn and once I know enough about them to have a solid base of data and intelligence… we can go and see Groudon or Kyogre so we can warn them or maybe go and see Rayquaza to warn him of this… we'll find a way."

Pikachu frowned and facepalmed. "I just can't believe it…" He muttered while shaking his head.

Ash blinked in confusion, as did Latias and Latios. "What?" the Pokémon trainer asked.

"There's got to be hundreds of Pokémon trainers in this region right now, if not thousands, all of them trying for the league, and out of all of them… Why is it always us that have to run into the bad guys and deal with them? Can't we get a well-deserved break for once?" Pikachu questioned in frustration and irritation. Everyone sweatdropped.

Ash frowned, but he found himself agreeing. "He has a really good point, now that I think of it."

"Let's just not complain and keep going on our way," Latios suggested. "If we have to deal with them, then we'll do so when we run into them."

"Yeah, since we can't do much about Team Aqua or Magma right now… let's just go to the gym. If what Pikachu said is true, we'll eventually run into them again and then we'll figure out how to deal with them then," Ash announced, turning to walk in the direction of Petalburg City.

"I guess," Bianca admitted. "There's not much we can do."

Latios smiled as a means to bring encouragement to his friends. "Don't worry Bianca, Ash, I know you want to do something about it, but right now it's just out of our reach, but know that we will do something when the time is right. Since I don't know much about all this, there's no point in going to bother other Legendaries with incomplete information and potentially false and unconfirmed information," he said, and then his eyes narrowed. "But when we know enough, we'll go see Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza. We might lack power but they don't. They'll know what to do."

Ash nodded. "I guess that's all we can do for now. Just wait it out. In the meantime, there's a badge to win."

Pikachu frowned. "Latios, do you even know how to find Groudon, Kyogre or Rayquaza?" He asked curiously, looking at the dragon.

"Well, I honestly have no idea how to find Groudon and Kyogre," Latios answered. "I have met Kyogre, but it was her who visited me at Alto Mare, not the other way around. But I do know how to find Rayquaza. He lives in a massive draconic kingdom he rules known as Sky Pillar. I've never been there, but it's a sacred land of dragons, it's said any dragon can find the path there."

Pikachu nodded slowly, feeling very glad they had a Legendary they could contact. "Well, you're a dragon. So in theory, if you want to find Sky Pillar… you'll know how to get there?" He asked, his voice brimming with hope.

"Yeah," Latios answered optimistically.

"But…" Latias began. "We have to take the worst into account, just in case so we have a backup plan, what if we can't find Sky Pillar and Rayquaza for some reason?"

Latios bit his lip, he hadn't considered that. "That'd… be really bad, then we'd have no one to contact and ask for help."

"What about your father?" Pikachu asked. "He might be dead and trapped in the Soul Dew, but he's there."

Latios nodded. "That… could be it, a really good suggestion. The problem is we've never actually talked to him, it's just him usually pulsing power through the Soul Dew to approve or disapprove of things, or hint what to do with vibrations of power… giving directions with something like that will be difficult," he lamented. "So, I doubt it can really be of use."

"Darn, there goes your dad," Pikachu said sadly. "Wait, your dad… hey, what about your mother? If she's a Legendary, which I suppose, she could be of help."

Latios frowned sadly, a little depressed. "We… we never knew who our mother was, I have no idea. My dad is there, but I don't know my own mother. I tried asking the Soul Dew who she was, or asking Ho-Oh, but neither ever gave me a straight answer."

Pikachu winced. "Sorry to hear that. So, we'll have to stick to hoping we can find Sky Pillar then?"

Latios nodded back with a faint grin. "Yeah, Ho-Oh said that any dragon can get there, and there's her to run for help too. Ho-Oh would know what to do as well."

"Bigger and stronger Legendaries like them should be able to defeat all of Team Aqua and Magma with no problem… I hope," Bianca concurred, nodding once as she hoped that was in fact true.

May blinked in total confusion, looking between everyone and not really understanding the concept of the conversation since she was left out entirely. "What are you all babbling about? It's really weird when you look at Latios so silently and then talk back, even if I know he's talking with his mind."

Bianca laughed in amusement, picturing how the scene would look from the perspective of someone who didn't understand the perception of telepathy. "He was talking to us telepathically, but he can't speak openly with strangers. In the meantime, he can only speak to us for now."

May nodded. "Ah…" she muttered, and then observed the rapidly approaching city with a keen eye. They were already entering the outskirts of the metropolitan area. "Hey, I need to go and do some errands in the city so I'll catch you at the gym, okay?"

Ash paused for a moment or two and looked at her in surprise. "Wait, what?" He asked, taken off guard.

May laughed. "I'll just go for a bit, I've got some things to do! I already guided you to the city like I said I would, but if you need additional directions on how to get to the gym, just follow the public signs, okay?" Ash nodded dumbly, still rather surprised by the sudden actions of the beginner trainer. "See ya!" May hopped on top of her bike and began to ride away, taking a great lead ahead of the group.

Bianca looked on as the younger girl rode away and into the city. "I wonder what that was about?" she asked in mild curiosity.

Ash shrugged. "She said she'd catch us back at the gym, so let's go to it! I need my badge!" Ash announced, continuing his walk towards the city. The group followed him, Latias and Latios became invisible, as usual.

The walk across the large city was easy. Being a city that was very proud of its gym, the signs to get there were plentiful, and soon Ash found himself face to face with the Petalburg City Gym. The gym seemed to be like a regular house, in a rather Japanese-style. The walls were painted white with a blue roof; in the arc of the roof were several bright yellow decorative ornaments. The outside was surrounded with a wall made of sturdy rocks, giving the gym an antique-look. "So this is it? Weird, I'd have thought it'd be something more impressive," Pikachu commented as his eyes scanned the building all around.

"It's the Gym Leader that makes the Gym, not the building," Latios said. "After all, you fight the gym leader, not the place."

"So let's go in!" Ash announced with an enthusiastic voice, marching happily up the stairs until he was at the front door of the Pokémon Gym. He knocked on it a few times. "Hello! Anyone in there?" He yelled. Silence was his only answer. "Apparently there's no one in there…" He muttered, looking at the building and awaiting a response from someone.

Latios' eyes glowed for a second and a click was heard, signaling the door had been psychically unlocked. "There, the door's open," the Eon dragon said casually.

Bianca frowned at him. "I don't think it's very polite to just open people's doors like that Latios. There's a reason they're locked."

"Not anymore it's not," Latios answered, shrugging.

"Awesome! First Gym Badge, here I come!" Ash sang happily as he opened the large sliding door and stepped in.

Latios grinned when he noticed how wide the door had opened. "Hey, I think I can actually fit in through this door, why can't humans make more doors this wide?" He asked as he flew in. He had to adjust his huge wingspan a little, but the doorway was just big enough for him to fit in.

"Maybe because when they design their doors they are all very concerned in making sure a Latios can fit through them," Pikachu answered sarcastically, rolling his eyes. Latios glared at him while Latias giggled and followed them in, with a reluctant Bianca entering behind them.

Right after passing through the main door was a wide corridor which had another door at the far end, and in the middle of it was a very large door-less opening. "Hello! Anyone in here? I came for my battle and my gym badge!" Ash called loudly as he turned at the larger opening in the middle of the corridor and grinned at the sight that welcomed him, feeling delighted as the first thing that came into view was the gym's large arena. It was a plain, unadorned battlefield, with no elements or gimmicks to give advantage to a certain Pokémon type. The rest of the Gym's floor was made of finely polished wood. "Hey!" Ash screamed again. "Mister Gym Leader!"

Bianca frowned as she looked around. "It sounds like there's no one in here. Now we'll certainly get in trouble for breaking into the place like this, Ash!" She reprimanded the boy, putting both her arms on her hips and glaring at him.

Ash chuckled nervously as he turned to look at her, and promptly took a step back at her very intimidating look. "Sorry! I get really, really eager when it's time to fight and get badges," he apologized, trying to put up an excuse.

"No, really?" Pikachu deadpanned sarcastically, eyes narrowing lazily. Latios snickered.

"One last time, okay Bianca?" Ash promised and before she could answer, he started hollering again. "Hello!" the trainer shouted, ignoring both of his Pokémon like he usually did whenever they bugged him, even if his act of ignoring them only seemed to further amuse them. "I'm here for my… uh, whatever this Gym's badge is named!" He yelled as loud as his vocal cords would allow him.

"Hey, could you keep it down!" A very young childish voice echoed across the building and interrupted them, making the group quickly turn to look back at the corridor they had come from, in the direction of the door at the far end.

"Uh, who's that?" Ash asked, secretly hoping it was the Gym Leader.

"I'm very busy watching Sil-" The voice began responding, but instantly froze when its owner rounded the entryway and got a full view of the group. "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" He squealed like a baby girl who just got a new doll and started jumping up and down repeatedly in pure happiness. "It's you! It's you!" He shrieked loudly, causing the group to wince and wonder if this young boy was possessed by a Ghost-type or something.

"OhmygoshIcan'tbelieveit! Itsreallyreallyreallyyou!" He screeched loudly and rapidly, almost ear-splittingly so. Latios gritted his teeth slightly from the shattering noises that bombarded his highly sensitive ears.

"You'redefinitivelyAshKetchum! ThetrainerwhohasaLatios! AnawesomeLegendaryPokemon!" He cried at a pace that basically jumbled his words into a mass of incoherent speech. "Mydreamcometrueistomeetyou! IwannaseeLatiosnow!"

Ash blinked a few times as he gazed down at the newcomer with a confused expression. "Whoa… wait a second there, talk slower, I can't understand a single word you're saying!" Ash interrupted, holding his arms out as he tried to calm down the very eager young boy before them. He seemed around seven years old, with large glasses, black and green sneakers, dark brown shorts, and, to the group's astonishment, a blue and white t-shirt with a Latios printed on it. Ash fidgeted when he guessed what was up, most likely another fanboy or fangirl. "Uh…" Ash voiced uneasily.

Latios silently laughed upon getting a clear sight of the boy's outfit. "Nice, I like that kid's shirt. I guess I have fans now, huh?" he commented. Pikachu groaned, why didn't they meet a boy with a Pikachu shirt?

"Because I'm more awesome," Latios answered teasingly. Pikachu remained silent and decided not to argue more.

"Wow! IneverexpectedI'dseeyouinHoenn! Awesome! Totallyawesome!" The boy cried happily while running up to Ash and looking up at him with sparkling eyes full of admiration.

Ash took a step back in fear. "What? Talk slower! Who are you?" He asked, holding his arms out in front of him.

The boy took a deep breath to calm down, at least just a little. "I'm Max! And you're Ash Ketchum!" He exclaimed, pointing at Ash. "The totally awesome trainer who got third place in the Silver Conference despite being only eleven years old at the time! And you did it with a Legendary Pokémon! How can you get cooler than that! Well, you'd be cooler if you'd won, very sad you lost, but still, it's so cool!" Max spoke happily, still a little rapidly but it was at least somewhat more understandable now.

Bianca giggled at the sight. "Seems you have a new fan, Ash," she commented in amusement.

Ash blushed in embarrassment. "Wow… thanks."

Max leaned in closer to Ash. "When did you catch Latios exactly? How did you capture Latios? Where did you catch him? Why does he listen to you? Was it a tough fight? How do you train him? Does he know more attacks than what he used at the Silver Conference? Do you use Latios to travel around? Do you know any Latias? They say they come in pairs with a Latios! How strong is he right now? Is it true he can talk telepathically? Is he faster than light? Did he hold back during the fights so he didn't obliterate the competition? He should have! He's a Legendary! Why did he lose? How do you train him? Wait… I think already asked that. How is he now? Think you could have beaten Jon Dickson if he had fought in the battle? Think you could have been champion? Oh! Think you can defeat the Elite Four with Latios? And what about the Pokémon Champion? Can you beat Lance with Latios? What an epic fight! If you could do the Silver Conference again would you win it now? Is Latios here right now? He can turn invisible right? I saw it! I know he can! So he's here right? He has to be! I know it! Where is he?" Max asked rapidly, throwing an endless barrage of questions, one right after the other that Ash quickly got lost in. "Oh! Yay!" Max squealed. "Is he here? I know he is! He's really cool so he has to be! Really? Right? Oh! I wanna see him!" He demanded, grinning widely.

Ash paused and looked around uneasily. "Uh, what was the second question? Uh, forget it. Listen kid… I…" he began to say, but instead took a step back in confusion. "Why would I answer all that?"

"Well, because I'm none other than Max after all! Your number one fan, and of course, Latios' number one fan too! Hey! Can you autograph my t-shirt? My dad bought it for me at the Silver Conference!" Max said cheerfully, holding his Latios-themed t-shirt by the bottom and pulled on it to give Ash a clearer view.

Ash paused, looked at the shirt fixedly for a few seconds, and then frowned. "There were Latios shirts for sale?" He asked curiously, not remembering any of that during his stay in Silver Town.

Latios blinked in surprise. "I didn't know that."

Max nodded rapidly. "After you used Latios in the Conference, a few days later many stands and souvenir shops put lots of Latios stuff up for sale! Really, Latios was the totally best most cool and awesome event in the Silver Conference! He eclipsed everything on the news for days!" Max cried. "I even got a little figurine!" He announced joyfully. "And… loads of other stuff! You wouldn't believe it!"

"Great, I've got lots of human publicity," Latios moaned sarcastically. "That explains why some people bug us a lot during the travels… well at least it's all on Ash, I'm very happy being invisible." Pikachu snickered in amusement.

"So, you were really there at the Silver Conference?" Ash questioned.

Max nodded once proudly. "Yes! Dad took me to see it live, and I had the delight of seeing both battles you used Latios in. Seriously, I was in the stands at the stadium where Latios was used!" Max grinned and squealed again, nearly breaking his glasses and the windows from how high-pitched it was. "I can't believe you're here! In Petalburg's gym! This is so awesome!" He grinned from ear-to-ear. He practically pounced on Ash and started pulling his shirt roughly. "Show me Latios! Show me Latios! Show me Latios!" he began to scream repeatedly in an uncontainable manner. Ash gulped nervously, having no idea how to pry the kid off him.

"Psychic?" Latios offered, perhaps a little too eagerly.

"No," Ash answered immediately.

Max looked at him with tears in his eyes. "No? Why not?" He asked, hurt.

Ash facepalmed as Latios chuckled. "Not you! I was talking to Latios." He immediately regretted saying that.

"Awesome! Telepathy is real! So he's here!? Where!? I want to see him!" Max demanded as his impatience began to grow even farther, looking around in an attempt to spot the invisible dragon, but it was useless, since he was, well, invisible.

"Um… Max?" May asked slowly, standing in the doorway to the arena. "What are you doing?"

"Shut up sister! Can't you see I'm having a total geek out here! This is the Latios guy from the Silver Conference!" Max said to her, squealing again in delight and tugging at Ash's shirt harder.

Bianca blinked. "Wait, brother?" She turned to May, and noticed she had come with company. "Is he your brother May?"

May nodded and walked to Ash, grabbed Max by the shoulders and pulled him off the Pallet Town trainer, holding the overeager boy firmly, pressing him to her chest. "Yes, he's my little brother Max," she answered, smiling slightly. She then turned to look at the people she had brought with her, a handsome dark-haired man in a red jacket and a pretty brown-haired woman in a yellow dress. "And these are my parents, Norman and Caroline," she introduced them; then she motioned to a teenage boy with brown hair. "And this is Kenny, a family friend who works here at the Gym."

Max grinned. "And my dad happens to be the totally awesome Gym Leader of Petalburg City!" He added proudly.

Ash's eyes bulged with shock. "Bwah?! Your DAD is the Gym Leader?!"

"That's right," May answered proudly.

"Well, I did not see that coming," Pikachu remarked.

"I would have, if I could have read her mind…" Latios muttered. Latias frowned at him in disapproval.

"And why didn't you mention this earlier?" Bianca asked as Ash went into a near-catatonic state of shock.

"It didn't seem important," May said with a shrug. Ash's team facefaulted. "Anyway, Dad, these are the people I told you about, Ash and Bianca."

"Pleased to meet you, sir," Bianca said, bowing slightly.

"It's an honor to meet you, sir!" Ash said eagerly, causing Pikachu to roll his eyes.

Norman smiled. "The feeling is mutual. Thanks for the introductions, May," he said in an appreciative tone, then turned to Ash. "So, we finally meet, Ash. Max has been extremely excited about you ever since we went to see you fight at the Silver Conference."

May sighed. "Way too excited. He didn't talk about anything else!"

Caroline, Norman's wife, laughed. "Give him a break May, he's only seven, let him get an idol," she said calmly in a gentle motherly tone. May nodded in reply at her mother's comment.

Max looked up to see May's face. "How come the girl with Ash knows your name? Wait, you traveled with them?" He asked his sister, his eyes widening.

May nodded in confirmation. "Yes, I did. From Littleroot Town to here," she answered.

Max's eyes sparkled with wonder and envy. "Did you meet Latios? I'm so jealous!" He shouted, now tugging at May's shirt.

May shrugged. "I met him, but I haven't really… been trying to relate to him. He's nice enough, but Latias seems much more approachable in a sense…" The younger brother froze completely on the spot the moment she mentioned the red Eon dragoness's presence. This caused the brown-haired girl to sigh in dismay. "I really shouldn't have said that…"

'No, you shouldn't have,' Latias thought wearily.

"OH MY GOSH!" Max screamed loudly, making everyone wince with his sudden uproar. "You have a Latias too!? Just how much more awesome can you get?! I need a Latias shirt now! Or a Latias and Latios shirt, either works! Wait… Latios is cooler and more awesome I think… but Latias is also really great!"

Ash chuckled apprehensively. "Yeah, I have a Latias too…" He confessed with a tone that resembled a combination of defeat and frustration.

Norman laughed at Max's hyper-sensed reaction. "Magnificent Ash, you're truly an outstanding trainer," he praised modestly. "And please excuse my son's behavior."

Ash grinned at the gym leader before explaining with, "It's perfectly fine, the girls' reaction in the Silver Conference was worse… I was just plain exhausted from trying to get away from them, or the reaction in Pallet Town but that one was manageable at least."

The father of Max and May chortled lightly. "So I take it you're here for a Gym battle? May mentioned something about that. It's an honor that you'll be competing in the Hoenn League."

Ash grinned. "Yep, I'm here for my Gym Badge! And I'll fight in the Hoenn League!" He declared excitedly. Max suddenly started squealing again. "What's with him?" Ash asked, starting to get tired of this. If anything, his ears were going numb from the constant drilling noise.

Suddenly Max looked between Ash and Norman. "This is SO AWESOME!" He screamed. "My two greatest idols will have a battle! So cool! Sorry Ash, but I'll side with my dad on this one. But don't worry; you and your Latios are still very cool."

"Hey!" Latios said in annoyance.

Ash blinked in confusion. "Oh… okay?" he asked confusedly.

Max grinned. "Yes! Now… please show me Latias and Latios! I wanna see them so badly!" He stated eagerly, looking at Ash very expectantly.

May pouted. "Max, I'm offended. I know that Latias and Latios are really cool Pokémon, but you haven't even mentioned or asked for my starter. I'm your sister!" She reprimanded him.

Max turned to look at her briefly. "Did you pick Treecko?" He asked, mildly curious, but not looking overly interested.

May shook her head. "Nope, I didn't."

"Then I'm not interested," Max told her, causing her to facefault as he turned back to Ash. "Please let me see Latios and Latias! They're Legendaries! It's the first time I'll have ever seen one!" He said happily. May glared at him in anger. Caroline and Norman laughed.

Bianca frowned. "Talking about eager kids… wow," she commented with a tone of humor. "He beats you by a longshot when you see gyms Ash," she added with smiling. Ash scratched the back of his head in awkwardness.

"Sorry about the unexpected introduction you received from him Ash, but Max gets very eager when it comes to Pokémon. Two Legendaries have him extremely excited," Caroline apologized, feeling slightly embarrassed at her youngest child's display. She hoped that it wouldn't alienate the youth in some manner.

"It's okay," Ash responded unobtrusively. "It's very nice he gets so happy over Pokémon."

Norman nodded and smiled. "Max, be patient. It's rude to ask like that."

Max pouted disappointedly but nevertheless obeyed his father. "Okay dad," he answered reluctantly.

"So May," Caroline began, turning to look at her beloved daughter. "Which Pokémon did you get from Professor Birch?" She asked, her tone one of absolute interest, in contrast to Max's attitude.

May smiled. "Oh, you'll see! He's a total cutie!" She exclaimed as she grabbed her only used Pokéball. "Go Torchic!" She hurled the Pokéball downwards, causing it to burst open and release the little Pokémon inside. He looked around and examined the new people in curiosity.

Norman smiled. "A Torchic huh? Interesting choice May. Raise him well, and he'll turn into a mighty Blaziken."

Caroline looked down at the tiny Fire-type appraisingly. "I think he's very cute. Good choice, May," she praised.

Max frowned as he knelt besides the Torchic. "Aw, a Torchic?" He frowned, examining the Fire-type. "But they're kinda lame. I would have so chosen a Treecko. They're awesome."

Torchic's eye twitched. "Meanie!" He cried as he pounced on Max and started pecking him.

"Ow! Ow!" Max cried, trying to defend himself from the pecks unsuccessfully as everyone but Norman and Caroline laughed. "Ow! Get it off!"

May reached down and picked Torchic up. "Hey, calm down. You're awesome too Torchic," she said softly. Torchic immediately ceased aggressions and looked at her with round, happy eyes.

Max twitched. "Ow… Peck is painful in the flesh, very different than TV and videogames…" He moaned in pain. Suddenly he bolted up and acted like nothing had happened. "So when's the battle!?" He asked loudly.

Norman chuckled and shook his head. "Sorry Max, you know I don't let you or anyone in the family watch Gym battles because that might distract the challenger," he reminded his son.

Max sighed sadly. "Please dad! He's Ash! And he has a Latios!" Max exclaimed. "And apparently a Latias," he added. "What if he uses them against you? I wanna see you fighting a Legendary!"

Norman paused and blinked, wondering how the hell he was supposed to fight a Latios. His mind started racing for a solution the topic. It was the first time such a powerful Pokémon would be used in a battle against him. "Hmm," he hummed.

"I promise I won't bother Ash during the battle, but let me watch this one! It's an ultra special one for me! Pretty please?" Max pleaded, and did a cute face.

Norman sighed. "If Ash allows it. Will you?" he asked, turning to Ash.

Ash shrugged. "Sure, I've fought with audiences before, it's nothing new to me," he answered, then smiled. "So yes, he can watch."

Max squealed happily. "Yay!"

Norman nodded. "Okay, but Max," he began, and then his tone turned very stern. "Behave." Max nodded.

Caroline walked to a bench at the side of the arena pressed against the wall. "Come here everyone," she said as she took a seat, patting the bench invitingly. Everyone followed her minus Ash and Norman.

"Oh, I'm so giddy!" Max said, trying to contain his excitement. "This is so cool!"

May nodded. "This seems fairly interesting, right Torchic?" She wiggled her arms a little, which were cradling the Fire-type comfortably.

"Yep!" Torchic chirped happily, even if May didn't understand him.

Norman waked to the other side of the arena. "Kenny, referee the match please," he said as he entered his trainer box.

Kenny nodded. "Of course, sir," he answered, walking to the middle of the battlefield across from the benches.

Ash smirked and walked towards his own area, the invisible Latias and Latios at his sides. "The first Hoenn Gym badge is gonna be mine, finally!"

Norman smiled and nodded. "That's the spirit, Ash!" He told him from the other side of the field. "I hope that enthusiasm holds strong over the battle!"

"Thanks!" Ash replied to him, nodding.

"This will be an official three versus three gym battle between the challenger, Ash Ketchum and the Gym Leader, Norman, with a Balance Badge being the prize! Only the challenger will be allowed substitutions!" Kenny announced loudly with a clear voice of formality. "Begin!"

Norman smirked, eager to test out Ash as an opponent. "You displayed impressive battle skills at the Silver Conference. Show me it was not a coincidence you made it to third place!"

Ash smirked back at him. "I promise you it was not coincidence, nor was it only my usage of Latios," he unveiled determinedly. "I will win!" Pikachu smiled and nodded in agreement.

Norman smiled, fairly eager himself for this Gym battle. He loved challenges like this, where the ones that came to battle him were full of determination to walk out with a Balance Badge. "We shall see Ash, we shall see. Go, Slakoth!" He shouted, hurling a single Pokéball towards the battlefield. The sphere popped open and released a small brown sloth-like Pokémon; it had brown shaggy fur with two darker stripes on its back and a large scruff of fur on its head. Slakoth's long arms and feet were each adorned with two very long and sharp claws. The Slakoth instantaneously dropped to the floor, its eyes half closed in a lazy expression as if he was about to fall asleep immediately.

"Wow, cool!" Ash said as he took out his Pokédex and pointed it at the Pokémon before him.

"Slakoth, the Slacker Pokémon. It is generally found sleeping and few people have ever witnessed it in motion. It is said that looking at this Pokémon makes anyone drowsy," the little machine informed in a computerized and monotone voice.

Ash narrowed his eyes. "Not so cool now. Uh, if it's slacking around how am I going to fight it?" He pondered, looking at the Pokémon quizzically but said Pokémon didn't even bother looking back, since that would take too much effort on its part.

Latios shrugged disinterestedly. "Just fight it and be done with it," he suggested.

'Okay?' Ash thought uncertainly. When Latios stayed silent he decided to send out his first Pokémon. He reached to his belt and took the corresponding Pokéball. "Go, Phanpy!" He shouted, hurling the Pokéball towards the middle of the arena. It popped open and released the small blue elephant-like Pokémon. The Slakoth frowned in disappointment and slowly and very lazily stood up. It seemed it was fighting time.

"I'm ready, daddy!" Phanpy chorused enthusiastically and happily, doing a few energetic skips.

"Awww!" Max cried unhappily. He had been expecting Latios to enter the fray the moment the battle began.

Caroline giggled, already guessing what was on Max's mind. "Max, you can't expect Ash to use his Latios from the start. You saw him in the Silver Conference, he likes to save him for last," she reminded him.

Max sighed, but nodded in agreement as he knew that was true. "Dad should easily push Ash to use his Legendaries then. After all, he's dad! I want to them fight!"

May chuckled. "I don't know Max, Ash is pretty good," she said teasingly. Torchic nudged closer to her lap. Max glared at her.

Norman looked at Ash, and then at the Pokémon he had sent out. "Your move, Ash," he said, crossing his arms and waiting patiently.

Ash nodded. "Okay then, Phanpy, let's go for the win! Use Rollout attack!" Ash shouted energetically. It had been a while since he had felt the thrill of a good Gym battle.

"Yes, daddy!" Phanpy cried happily as he ran towards Slakoth and jumped in the air. He curled into a tight ball upon landing and rolled towards Slakoth, kicking up a dust trail in his wake from the power of the move.

Caroline raised an eyebrow slightly. The small Pokémon looked powerful. "That's a tough little guy, especially for its size," she said. Bianca nodded.

Norman didn't seem very alarmed, however. "Slakoth, get lazy!" He countered.

Ash blinked in confusion. "Get Lazy? What? How's being lazy gonna help in battle?"

Slakoth yawned lazily as Phanpy came at him… and then simply collapsed to the floor, as if he had no energy to stand up. The lazy Pokémon looked at the incoming Ground-type, and, almost like he was reluctant to move, rolled to the side sluggishly. Phanpy was unable to register the completely unpredictable move and passed right by him, missing completely. Ash's jaw dropped. "He dodged!?" He cried in astonishment. "Phanpy! Come around for a second hit!" Phanpy obeyed immediately, spinning around and bowling towards Slakoth once again.

Norman smirked as he knew he had the Pokémon at his mercy now. "Slakoth, use Blizzard!" He ordered.

Ash gasped. "Phanpy, quick, turn away!" he yelled but his decision came too late. Slakoth took a lazy breath and spat a gust of icy and snowy wind directly at the incoming Pokémon, whose momentum from the Rollout made it impossible to stop or change directions in time. He was hit head-on with the powerful blizzard, the draft of icy wind making the Pokémon cringe and cry out in pain as he was pushed several feet across the field.

"Th-this i-is c-c-cold!" Phanpy whined in pain, shivering from the icy sensation.

"Hang in there Phanpy, you can do it!" Pikachu shouted encouragingly.

"Yes, you're strong Phanpy!" Latias agreed cheerfully. "A little Blizzard is not gonna beat you."

Ash growled as the battle began to turn bad on his part. "What's up with that weird dodge!?" he complained indignantly.

Norman laughed at the youthful adversary of his. "As a challenger you need to be prepared for anything Ash and that's something a Gym Leader should test. I use a very peculiar fighting style with my Slakoth," he explained. Slakoth made no movement whatsoever; he just remained lazily sprawled on the floor as if his bones were far too brittle to support his body structure.

Max nodded happily. "That's my dad, he'll have that Phanpy beat fast for sure!" He cheered.

Bianca chuckled. "Don't underestimate that little toddler."

"They both seem very into this battle, I wonder who's going to win…" Caroline commented, looking between both battlers with amazement. "This is going to be very good…"

"Duh mom, of course dad's gonna win, he's the best!" Max said without a doubt. Caroline smiled and held back a little laugh.

"If you can dodge because Phanpy's rolling, then how about if Phanpy can clearly see you?" Ash asked his opponent, a smirk on his face.

Norman raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

"Phanpy, use Take Down!" Ash ordered, pointing at Slakoth dramatically.

"Watch me daddy, I'll win!" Phanpy shouted obediently and then charged at his opponent, running as fast as his feet would allow him.

Norman laughed. "Not going to work. Slakoth, you know what to do."

Slakoth yawned lazily and stayed sprawled on the floor, unmoving with total laziness. Phanpy frowned uncertainly but still continued charging even if fighting such an unmotivated enemy was very odd and totally out of place. Just as Phanpy was about to hit him, Slakoth rolled to the side in a sluggish manner and… started to scratch his belly. Phanpy gasped as he tried to rectify his charge, but it was too sudden a movement.

"Use Slash attack!" Norman shouted. Slakoth suddenly held a clawed arm out, slashing at Phanpy's feet as he passed by with another miss, tripping Ash's Pokémon and making him roll across the floor like a bowling ball. "Ouuww…" the Ground-type moaned.

Ash sighed in dismay that his attack had been countered yet again and in such an absurd method too. "How can being lazy be so difficult to deal with? Shouldn't it be the other way around?"

"Simple," Norman said. "It's something you haven't fought yet and thus you have no experience against. Like I said, a Gym Leader should test to see how challengers adapt to all kinds of battle settings. This time, I've put a very slow setting for you."

"I never thought being lazy could actually be effective in a fight," Pikachu commented while imagining how such a ridiculous way of dealing with a battle can actually be effective. "I like extremely fast and energetic battles."

"So do I," Ash admitted. "But… this is something I haven't dealt with before." He hummed as his mind began working overtime to find a counter, and in the meantime, he ordered Phanpy's next move. "Let's see how you handle long range attacks then. Phanpy, use Hidden Power!"

Phanpy nodded eagerly from his surrogate father's order. "Yes!" His body began to glow as he generated several spheres of white energy around him. "Take this!" He yelled in a dramatic tone, much like his 'father' would, as he fired the spheres at the Lazy Pokémon.

Norman laughed at the rather unimpressive display, at least from his perspective. "Ash, you'll need something better than that to surprise me. Slakoth, use Protect." Upon receiving his command, Slakoth yawned lazily and kept scratching his belly as a shield of green energy appeared all around him. The energy orbs smashed against the shield, instantly creating a spectacular blast of light but ultimately failed to inflict any damage on the user himself.

Ash facepalmed in dismay at how the battle was turning out so far. "This… isn't going well."

Max cheered happily. "Dad's gonna win for sure! Go dad! You're my hero!" Norman smiled as he heard his son's cheers, but he kept focused on the battle, there was no time to pay attention to distractions.

Caroline nodded at her son's cheers of inspiration for his dad. "Norman's always been a tough leader to beat."

"Never underestimate Ash," Bianca advised them wisely. "All who do that end up losing in the end."

Norman smirked slightly as an idea formed in his mind; it was time to turn the tables against Ash. "Slakoth, use Yawn!" He commanded.

Ash blinked in confusion at the sound of such a laughable-sounding and ridiculous technique. "Yawn? You can attack by yawning?" He wondered. On the other side of the battleground, Slakoth yawned lazily as a blue bubble materialized right in front of his mouth. The sphere floated over to Phanpy's face and popped just in front of him.

Phanpy blinked. "What was that supposed to do?" he asked in puzzlement. Slakoth was too lazy to bother answering him, or even acknowledging he said anything. Phanpy yawned tiredly. "Is it… nap time already? I'm sleepy…" He murmured drowsily.

"That's bad, Ash!" Latias warned him. "Yawn is an attack that makes the target fall asleep after a few minutes!"

Ash hummed. "This is tough…" he whispered. Phanpy already looked tired after taking that Blizzard attack head on, and now he was falling asleep. Then it clicked in his mind. The perfect plan to beat Norman's Slakoth had come to him. "Phanpy, return!" He held out his Pokéball as a beam of light fired from it, enveloping the little Pokémon and pulling him inside the sphere.

Pikachu smirked, getting ready to hop off Ash's shoulder and enter the fight. "I'm ready Ash!"

Latios blinked. "He has two Pokémon left, why send out Pikachu now?"

"Remember he said he'll definitively use Pidgeot in this fight, and since he already has Phanpy in the fight, that only leaves one slot open," Pikachu explained. "And it's mine!"

"Ah, right!" Latios remembered. "I'm ready Ash!" He too got ready to go into the field. "I could very easily defeat that Slakoth, it can't escape my psychic might… and neither can the rest of Norman's Pokémon." It was evident to him that he could easily win the entire match singlehandedly.

Pikachu growled. "No you're not! That slot is mine! Right Ash?"

Ash chuckled. "Um… I'm not using either of you guys," he said to them, making both of them look at him in surprise. "Sorry."

"Awwww," Pikachu moaned, displeased. "Guess that means I'll be sitting this one out."

"Larvitar, I chose you!"Ash shouted, hurling the Pokéball towards the field, releasing the Rock Skin Pokémon. He looked around, noted he was in a battle, and got serious, ready to fight.

Max moaned as his disappointment only continued to grow."Awww, no Latios yet…"

Bianca hummed. She knew Ash had plans to use Pidgeot as his stellar Pokémon for the fight, and that meant he had used up all three Pokémon. 'This is… weird… Ash could win easily with Latios or Pikachu…maybe even Latias…why isn't he using any of them?' She wondered curiously.

Latias frowned. "I don't know… I thought he'd include my brother for a Gym fight…"

Latios sighed. "Why, Ash?" He asked confusedly. "Without me and Pikachu, or even Latias, you're putting the result of this battle in peril. Phanpy and Larvitar aren't that strong yet, you could lose. This is a precarious gamble you're taking here."

"Precisely. That's why I'll use Phanpy and Larvitar; I learned my lesson in the Silver Conference Latios," Ash explained to his team members. "I learned not to rely too much on a single strong Pokémon, which cost me the Johto tournament. I won't make that mistake again. This time I'll make sure that I make everyone my strongest Pokémon!"

Latias blinked. "That's… very thoughtful, certainly unexpected too," she said in surprise.

Ash nodded with a grin that displayed confidence and vigor. "You see, I've learned from my past mistakes. It's a part of growing up, right? Latios, if I use you to beat every gym in Hoenn, that means that not many of my other Pokémon will get experience, so only you will be able to handle the competition ahead of us. If I do that and I lose you in the Hoenn League like I did in the Silver Conference, I'll be defeated again." Determination shined brightly in Ash's red-colored irises. "That won't happen again. Sorry Latios, but you're too powerful. I'll give everyone a chance to shine in battles, and only resort to you when it's absolutely necessary. After all, my team has six Pokémon, and you Latios, are only one of those six. We're just that, a team! Everyone has to do their part."

Latios, Latias and Pikachu stared at Ash silently, all of them deeply surprised at what their trainer had said. It was amazing, a true sign he was really growing up and learning from his past experience. Latios' mouth curved into a smile as he felt a sense of pride for Ash welling up in his heart. "That's wonderful Ash, you've learned well," he praised, surprised at how right Ash could be sometimes.

Latias nodded. "That's very sweet Ash, and very smart to do," she agreed.

Pikachu beamed after hearing Ash's decision. "You're an amazing trainer Ash, and I'm sure you'll raise us all into a winning team for the Hoenn League."

Bianca smiled as well. "Good job Ash," she whispered.

Caroline frowned, not quite catching what Ash had said. "What was all that about?" She wondered, confused.

Bianca shrugged. "He was talking with Latias and Latios, he's very communicative with them."

Max sighed in jealously. He was talking with his Legends so freely? "He's so cool… got any idea what he meant from what he said? I'm confused."

"You'll see," Bianca answered. "You'll see…"

Ash smirked. "Ready, Norman? Larvitar is gonna defeat that Slakoth of yours easily!" he declared.

Norman chuckled. "Oh? We'll see about that."

"Larvitar, get lazy!" Ash cried out, ready to begin his counter strategy against Norman.

Norman face-faulted comically. "What? That's my strategy!" He shouted indignantly.

Caroline blinked. "What?" She asked flatly. May and Max tilted their heads in confusion.

Larvitar turned to look at Ash. "Are you serious, daddy?" He asked, just to be sure.

Ash nodded. "Yes, as serious as I can be, Larvitar, that's all part of the plan," he answered.

"Okay," Larvitar said, shrugging. He turned back to face Slakoth, and smiled. He loved being lazy and unproductive. He yawned lazily and sprawled on the floor in a total lack of any form of motivation, much like Norman's Slakoth.

Latios looked at Norman, then at Ash, and then at the two lazy Pokémon. "Ash, what are you doing?" He asked, confused.

Ash smirked. "I'm beating Norman at his own game."

Norman growled, it was the first time any challenger had tried what Ash was doing. "Beating me at my own game? How is that going to work?"

Slakoth yawned lazily and sprawled even more on the floor, too lazy to move any muscle in his body. He eyed Larvitar through half-closed eyes. Larvitar yawned and lay on the floor as much as Slakoth was, his face one of a complete lack of energy.

Norman was completely perplexed. 'Ash is an interesting challenger… he's shifting my own battle pace against me… now… what am I supposed to do? Hmm, I'll play along for now, I guess,' the Petalburg Gym Leader thought. "Slakoth, don't let up, show Ash who is lazier!"

Ash grinned. "Larvitar, show him what being lazy truly means!" he instructed.

Both Larvitar and Slakoth were too lazy to nod or show any response to their trainers. They looked at each other with absolute lack of interest and motivation as if the Pokémon battle itself had evolved into a staring contest of some sorts.

Max frowned. "Are they going to lie there all the day?" He asked. "What kind of battle is that!?"

"I was always amazed at how unpredictable Ash is in battles," Bianca began. "And I'm still amazed." She took out her sketchbook and began to draw the extremely motionless battle. "This is almost a freeze frame," she mused as she rapidly drafted the scene.

Latios looked at Ash questioningly, not that the trainer saw it since he was invisible. "This is your grand idea of defeating Norman's Slakoth?" He asked doubtfully.

Ash nodded happily. "Yep! Awesome, isn't it?"

Pikachu facepalmed, he didn't know if he should congratulate or criticize his trainer for this. "I reserve my right to make a comment," he grumbled.

Latias frowned. "If that's his plan I fear this battle is gonna drag on for a rather long time," shesaid, looking between Larvitar and Slakoth.

Norman sighed, this battle was going to be eternal if this kept up. 'If I try to attack, Ash will counter like I did… he put me against my own game… he… is very cunning…' Norman admitted, thinking on how to jump start the battle without being a victim of a counter-attack from Larvitar.

Ash smirked. "Keep it up Larvitar! Maximum laziness!" The Rock Skin Pokémon yawned as he shifted slightly, his arms and feet stretched on the floor. He lay there, completely unmotivated and unmoving.

Norman sighed. 'Patience Norman, patience…' He reminded himself. "Slakoth, do what you do best." Slakoth didn't nod, he was too lazy to do so, and just remained on the floor.

Both Pokémon locked eyes. Larvitar sighed lazily. Slakoth growled lowly. How dare anyone try to give him any competition?

Fifteen minutes later…

Ash frowned. "This is gonna take longer than I thought, but we made progress, don't let up Larvitar, be lazier!" Larvitar remained motionless and his face adopted an even more unmotivated and uncaring expression. The world could be crumbling down around him and he wouldn't move an inch.

Norman sighed. "Slakoth… just…" He put his face between his hands. Slakoth looked at Larvitar the same way Larvitar was looking at him, but then growled and began to sweat nervously. The Larvitar was actually being lazier than him!

Thirty seven minutes and forty one seconds later…

Caroline sighed. "This… is boring…"

"Yeah," Bianca nodded in agreement. She looked at her sketchbook and frowned. She had a perfect drawing of the two not-battlers in front of her. She turned to the page before it and pouted. The picture on it was identical to her latest one. She turned the page back and saw the same drawing again. "I've been drawing this a lot," she commented to herself. She sighed exasperatedly; still feeling rather bored, and started drawing the scene in front of her again.

"No! It's not boring!" Max argued energetically. "You can feel the dramatic tension on the battlefield!"

Meanwhile, over by Ash, Pikachu and Latios were engaged in a riveting game of I Spy. Okay, not especially riveting, since there wasn't that much in the gym to spy in the first place, but to them, it was better than watching Larvitar and Slakoth doing nothing for over forty minutes, boredom was terrible, after all.

"I spy…with my little eye…something that is…blue!" Pikachu said, hoping Latios would be unable to answer that one right, he just seemed to be getting them right too fast…

Latios read Pikachu's mind, got the answer, and pretended to fail a few times so the Electric-type wouldn't suspect anything. "Uh… is that me?" Latios guessed wrongly.

"No, not you, you don't count since you're invisible, I can't technically see you," Pikachu pointed out.

"Ah, okay,"said Latios before resuming his guesses. "Er…Is it Ash's coat?" He guessed.

"No, we already did that one several minutes ago, remember?" Pikachu reminded him, chuckling.

"Oh, right,"murmured Latios before once again resuming his search. Eventually, his eyes lit up and a smile came across his face as he spotted something that had to be what Pikachu was looking at, or, he pretended like that was happening. "Aha! I got it!" He declared happily.

"Yeah?" Pikachu asked with a slight grin.

"It's that fangirl's silly shirt of me, isn't it?"Latios asked while pointing over at Max and the blue-and-white Latios printed t-shirt he was wearing.

"You got it!" Pikachu confirmed. "Heh, although, why'd you call him a fangirl when Max is a boy?"

"Well, he certainly screams like a girl, doesn't he?"Latios joked.

Pikachu laughed openly. "Hahaha, I guess you have a point there, I didn't think it was physically possible for a boy to scream that high!" Composing himself, Pikachu then said, "Okay, your turn."

Latios hummed mentally as he searched for something good to spy to stump Pikachu with. After a minute, he smiled and said, "Okay. I spy…with my little eye…something that can be admired by both humans and Pokémon alike, and can also appear in many different forms."

"What? Hey, that's cheating, it's too complex!" Pikachu complained.

"Is it? I had no idea," Latios said innocently. "I was under the impression that we can pick anything we want; the way its worded shouldn't make a difference, it just requires one to actually think it out, and then it should be readily apparent."Smiling smugly, Latios continued, "Are you saying that you're not smart enough to work it out? If not, I'm sure I could word it so that even a baby can understand…"

That did it for Pikachu. "Hey, I am not a baby! I can work out your stupid riddle, no problem!" he said angrily before fervently beginning to search around. Latias giggled in amusement.

"Heh, good luck, then," Latios said with a smirk. Ash rolled his eyes, but continued watching the dramatic battle between Larvitar and Slakoth.

After three minutes of fruitless searching, it became clear that Pikachu was well and truly stumped.

"You're stumped, aren't you?"Latios asked, smirking.

"As if!" Pikachu lied vehemently, not wanting to give Latios the satisfaction of knowing that he was stumped. "I just need a little bit more time to figure it out, that's all!"

"Give it up, Pikachu, you know and I know that you can't figure it out,"Latios told him, shrugging mockingly.

"And what makes you think that?" Pikachu asked skeptically.

"I'm Psychic, remember? I know that you're stumped just from your surface thoughts alone."Latios answered amusedly.

Seeing no reason to deny it any longer under this ironclad proof, Pikachu slumped his shoulders and admitted his defeat. "Alright, fine, you got me. What is something that can be admired by humans and Pokémon alike, and can also appear in many forms?"

"Art,"Latios answered simply.

"Art?" Pikachu asked, dumbfounded.

Latios nodded. "Yes, art. Think about it. It can be admired by both humans and Pokémon alike, and can also appear in many different forms, be it drawings, paintings, sculptures, abstract…those are just a few of the many different art categories there are," he explained.

"Ah, wow, that actually makes sense, now that I think about it. I would've never thought of it!" Pikachu said amazedly. He then frowned. "Although, where is there art around here?" He asked, indicating the Gym arena they were in.

"There are actually a few instances here, as a matter of fact. You just need to know where to look for them. Bianca's drawing over there certainly qualifies as art. The architecture of this Gym's exterior and interior could be regarded as a work of art by some. Even battling can be seen as an art form, especially when we're talking about battling in Pokémon Contests,"Latios pointed out. Latias nodded in agreement.

"Ah, I see, those do seem like art, don't they? That's a very interesting theory, Latios," complimented Pikachu.

"Thanks, I thought so too,"Latios said with a smile.

"Although…I hardly think that this battle would qualify as art, don't you?" Pikachu joked, indicating the so-called 'battle' in front of them.

Latios laughed. "Agreed."

Latias giggled openly. Ash facepalmed at his Pokémon's game, but continued his battle. "Get lazier Larvitar! Lazier!" Ash shouted. Larvitar complied, or was too lazy to comply, but in being too lazy to bother complying he was complying anyways. Latios and Pikachu decided to pause their game and look at Ash, hoping he finally did something in this boring battle.

"Lazier, Slakoth! You can beat that Larvitar, it's your own game!" Norman encouraged.

"No he can't, you can win Larvitar!" Ash countered.

Norman scoffed. "Slakoth, your entire species specializes in being lazy! Don't let someone beat you in a game you were born to play!"

Slakoth frowned, sweating profusely out of the tension and nerves. It couldn't be! That Larvitar was still defeating him at being lazy! Larvitar, in turn, looked perfectly calm and lazy.

"Lazier, Larvitar!" Ash pressed on.

"Keep it up with the laziness Slakoth!" Norman shouted, he still had no idea why he was still following Ash's game, but there was no harm in doing so.

Pikachu blinked. "You know, now that I think of it, I'm getting a sense of Déjà-vu from this," he commented awkwardly, wondering where he had seen a scene like this before.

Latios turned to look at him. "You are?"

"Yeah, I get the feeling I've seen something like this before…" He answered, and then laughed. "Oh right!" He said, getting it.

"Well?" Latios asked curiously.

Pikachu stifled a laugh. "It was Ash's first trainer battle from a few years back. He used a Metapod against another guy with a Metapod, and they had a duel of…" He started laughing raucously for a few moments before regaining his breath. "…Harden. Basically it was two Metapod trying to knock each other out with Harden. That's right. And I'm not trying to be funny here."

Latios snorted. "Wonderful," he commented. Latias rolled her eyes in amusement.

"Though, this battle isn't filled with as much sexual innuendos as the last one," Pikachu remarked.

Latios blinked in confusion. "That battle had sexual innuendo? How?" He asked.

Pikachu chuckled. "What is Metapod almost shaped like?" He then smirked. "Now, imagine Ash yelling 'Harder Metapod, harder, maximum hardness…'" Pikachu answered, and then exploded into a state of uncontrollable laughter, unable to hold it back any longer.

"Ah, that's most… interesting…" Latios said in understanding. He started laughing, as did Latias.

Ash frowned, confused. "What's a Sechsual Innu… how was the word? What's Seckshual to start with? And what is in-that?"

"A sexual innuendo is something that's very weird to hear from two innocent and naive ten year olds," Pikachu answered uncomfortably.

Ash frowned, but decided to ask later and instead focused on his own battle. "Harder La- wait no, lazier!" Ash shouted. Pikachu chuckled in amusement.

Norman sighed. "Ash… this is getting old…"

Slakoth was shaking with rage by now. The fact that Larvitar was still being lazier than him only infuriated him even more. He glared at Larvitar. "I… hate you…" Slakoth whispered.

Larvitar was too lazy to answer. He was too lazy to even do anything. He just looked at Slakoth with a lazy and uninterested expression. Ash smiled, seeing the tension between the two. "Almost there Larvitar…"

Slakoth screamed in fury, startling everyone with the unexpected gesture. "I can't take this!" the Sloth-like Pokémon roared in fury. "No one is lazier than me!" His claws glowed darkly as he charged sluggishly at Larvitar with a Shadow Claw attack. "I'll show you!"

"No! Slakoth, wait!" Norman cried out when the Slacker Pokémon attacked without any order or command to do so.

Slakoth didn't listen, he just kept charging towards Larvitar, and the fact that even with this Larvitar was still looking at him with the laziest possible expression was even more infuriating. "I'll defeat you!" Slakoth shouted, almost reaching Larvitar by now.

Ash smirked. "Rock Smash," he said simply.

The next move was almost like lightning. Larvitar bolted up at an amazing speed, his right arm already glowing brightly with the Rock Smash attack, which he slammed directly into the Slacker Pokémon's gut. Slakoth gasped, and coughed. He looked down as he saw Larvitar's arm lodged into his belly. Slakoth weakly looked at Larvitar's smirking face, and then fell to the side, eyes turned to swirls. He had been knocked out.

Larvitar let out a low laugh. "Heh, rookie. When it comes to laziness you're hardly the real deal. I wasn't even being my laziest!"

Kenny raised the flag corresponding to Ash's side of the field. "Slakoth is unable to continue battling. The winner of this round is Ash Ketchum!" he announced in an official tone.

Norman just stared at the scene before him, looking at his knocked out Slakoth lying there defeated beside the Larvitar. In response to Ash's victory, he clapped. "This took a very long time Ash, but I can't say I'm not impressed. This was very surprising, you're the first challenger who ever did something like this to me," Norman praised, holding out a Pokéball as he returned his beat Slakoth inside. "You're a magnificent trainer, but…remember, I still have two Pokémon left. This battle is far from over."

Ash smiled. "Thanks Norman," he said, and then he looked at Larvitar. "You were amazing Larvitar, good job."

Larvitar nodded. "Thanks daddy," he said, smiling at the hearty praise.

Bianca sighed in relief. "Finally, we can move on with the battle! About time," she commented, stretching slightly to get rid of the numbness of being seated for so long watching the two Pokémon laze off.

Caroline smiled. "It might have been boring, but just look how pumped both Ash and Norman are; Ash because he won the first round, and Norman because he's excited about the way he was uniquely defeated. This battle is just starting and I promise Norman will not be easily defeated," she said as she evaluated the attitude of the trainer and Gym Leader.

Max nodded. "Of course dad is not going to be easy to defeat. Ash got lucky this time, his next Pokémon will defeat both Phanpy and Larvitar easily and then he'll use Latios!" he cried excitedly, wishing desperately to see the Eon Pokémon in battle.

May frowned. "I don't understand something. Why did the Blizzard not knock out Phanpy out in one hit, while that punch defeated Slakoth in one hit?" She asked confusedly.

Max shifted his glasses slightly, making them turn all white from light reflecting off of them. "That's ridiculously easy, my poor ignorant sister. Blizzard is an ice attack, and Phanpy is a Ground-type so that's a super effective hit, but keep one thing in mind, that Slakoth isn't very good at Special attacks, so it wasn't a strong Blizzard. However,Larvitar is very strong using physical attacks, and Rock Smash is a physical attack, so the super effective Rock Smash had more effect on Slakoth than the super effective Blizzard on Phanpy because of the way each Pokémon's attack is orientated," the knowledgeable youth answered smugly in reply to his sister's question.

May rolled her eyes. "Show-off know-it-all," she whispered lowly. "But thanks, I think I understood that."

"Really?" Max asked eagerly.

"No," she admitted, causing him to sweatdrop.

Norman took out a second Pokéball. "Are you ready, Ash?" The Gym Leader asked.

"I'm ready, Norman," Ash answered, smirking. "I'll stick with Larvitar for the next fight."

Norman nodded and hurled his second Pokéball towards the battlefield. "Go, Vigoroth!" He shouted as the Pokéball burst open, releasing a Pokémon that looked similar to Slakoth. Vigoroth was larger and pure white with a red tear-shaped tuft of fur on its head. It had two brown stripes on his back, and the arms were rather long in relation to the rest of the body. The paws were two long and sharp looking claws. The Vigoroth roared in anticipation of the battle, hopping from side to side energetically and ready for a fight.

Ash's jaw dropped. "That thing looks powerful!" He said, and then took out his trusty Pokédex for a quick analysis of the Pokémon before him.

"Vigoroth, the Wild Monkey Pokémon. Vigoroth is only comfortable going berserk. It will destroy anything in its path by spinning both arms, and goes more berserk when done," the Pokédex informed in a monotone voice.

Latios nodded. "That's fairly accurate Ash. Be careful, Vigoroth, unlike its pre-evolution Slakoth, are extremely filled with energy and are rather powerful, especially using physical attacks," he added.

Norman smirked. 'Let's see how Ash handles one of the keys of my Gym's battle style, which is suddenly shifting from such a slow-paced battle with Slakoth, to a completely speedy one with Vigoroth!' he thought to himself, eager to see Ash's reaction. "Vigoroth, use Slash attack against Larvitar!" The Gym Leader ordered. Vigoroth complied immediately, charging at Larvitar extremely fast while roaring incoherently while flailing his arms.

Ash gasped in fright. "He's fast! Larvitar, counter with Rock Smash!" He shouted quickly.

Larvitar nodded as his arm began to glow white, but Vigoroth was already on him. Seeing the incoming Wild Monkey Pokémon, Larvitar thrust his arm forwards, but Vigoroth easily side-stepped it and jumped, landing behind Larvitar in a blink of an eye.

Ash's eyes widened, the evolution of Slakoth was extremely fast. "Larvitar watch out! Behind you!" He warned, but it was too late. Vigoroth slashed at Larvitar from behind with its massive claws with enough force to actually hurl the heavy kid backwards. Larvitar winced and let out a small cry. Even with his durable and rocky skin that actually hurt.

But Norman was not going to give him enough time to recover. "Use Focus Punch, Vigoroth!" He commanded. Vigoroth roared and leaped at Larvitar, his right set of claws glowing as he charged at Larvitar.

"Oh no, Larvitar, watch out!" Ash warned again as he began to feel very worried. "Counter with Bite!" He called out.

Larvitar tried to regain his footing after the rough landing, only to see Vigoroth closing in on him. The Wild Monkey Pokémon went bananas, spinning his body rapidly with both arms spread out like a pair of whips. Larvitar tried to track the more dangerous one, the one charged with the Focus Punch but in doing so, the other arm clawed him in the head, pushing him back and breaking his concentration.

Norman smirked. "Got him!" He cheered. "Finish this, Vigoroth!"

Ash gasped. "Larvitar!" he cried out, clearly worried.

Larvitar narrowed his eyes as he saw the incoming Focus Punch, and then lunged. With a powerful bite, his jaws clamped over Vigoroth's claws. The Normal-Type roared in fury and pain as his arm was bitten and the Focus Punch attack dispelled from his broken focus.

"Use Low Kick!" Norman countered. Vigoroth complied as the Wild Monkey Pokémon quickly swept at Larvitar's legs with the claws at his feet, making the Rock and Ground-type cry out in pain. Using the momentum, Vigoroth slashed at him with his free arm, sending Larvitar flying a few feet from the sheer power behind the attack. Larvitar landed with a thud in the opposite side of the arena, his eyes turned to swirls, his rocky skin cracked in some points. Ash's Pokémon was out of the battle.

Kenny raised Norman's flag. "Larvitar is unable to continue battling! The Winner of this round is the Gym Leader, Norman!" He declared with an authoritative voice.

Ash frowned as he recalled Larvitar back into his Pokéball. "You did great Larvitar, have a nice long rest," Ash whispered to the Pokéball. He tucked it away and faced the Vigoroth. "Oh no, what just happened? That was… so fast."

"I warned you, Vigoroth is nearly Slakoth's perfect opposite in attitude," Latios reminded him.

"Precisely," Norman answered. "A challenger has to adapt to any situation, and in this case, that was the shift of the style of the fight, from lazy and slow to extremely fast. We're tied with one Pokémon down Ash, anything can still happen."

Bianca looked at Vigoroth. "That Pokémon is powerful…"

Caroline nodded. "Yes, Norman's Vigoroth is strong. It's clear both him and Norman are enjoying this battle greatly, I haven't seen them so excited in a long time."

"Go dad, go!" Max cheered happily. "You can beat anything Ash sends at you, even Latios!" He cried out firmly. Latios rolled his eyes and chuckled, but remained silent. There was no need to reveal his presence for the time being.

Ash hummed in thought, then grabbed Phanpy's Pokéball. "Phanpy's very good at being energetic and speedy so this match is perfect for him… Go Phanpy!" Ash shouted, releasing the Long Nose Pokémon into the field…only to be presented with a scene of the Ground-type snoring away peacefully.

Ash facepalmed when he saw Phanpy. "Oh no, this can't be true," he moaned in dismay. Phanpy was asleep, curled into a tight ball and occasionally mumbling some childish things in his slumber.

Norman laughed. "It's true, Ash. Slakoth's Yawn took its effect on him."

"Phanpy… return," Ash said in dismay, returning the blue infant Pokémon back to his Pokéball as there was no point in keeping him out. "I had forgotten about that Yawn attack…"

Norman smiled. "It happens. That means that until he wakes up, you're down to your last Pokémon," he informed him. "Slakoth did his part."

Ash nodded. "Yep, and this is a Pokémon you'll have to really put an effort to defeat. Go…"

Max squealed ecstatically. "Latios!"

"Pidgeot!" Ash shouted, hurling her Pokéball towards the field. Pidgeot appeared in a bright white flash and the large-sized Bird Pokémon immediately displayed her wings proudly, chirping loudly and ready for a fight.

Max began to cry the moment he realized the Eon dragon wasn't going to show up for this battle. "No Latios!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHYYYYYYYYYYY?!" He wept as if he had lost his favorite toy. Caroline pulled him close and began to rub his back tenderly as he sobbed and sniveled and blew his nose in her shirt. May rolled her eyes in embarrassment and surreptitiously scooted away, and Torchic laughed at his misery.

Ash frowned guiltily, but focused on his fight. "Pidgeot, it's all up to you to beat Norman's two Pokémon. Are you ready?"

Pidgeot nodded. "I'm always ready Ash. Don't worry, we're gonna win this one," she assured him.

Norman sighed in relief, he really didn't want to fight Latios. "A Pidgeot? That's a very interesting choice, Ash."

"She's a lot more than just interesting!" Ash shouted at Norman. "You won't be able to beat her, I promise you that!"

"I like that determination, Ash," Norman said. "But determination alone is not going to give you a Balance Badge."

May looked intently between Pidgeot and Vigoroth. "Hey Bianca, how tough is Ash's Pidgeot?" She asked.

Bianca smiled but kept her gaze directly on Pidgeot and her pose that displayed her magnificent wings proudly. It looked thrilling to the eye and the girl was memorizing every detail in order to make an accurate drawing. "She's very tough. Norman won't beat her easily," she answered. Being one of Ash's primary battlers, it was clear that Norman would have a difficult time overcoming this fight.

"Vigoroth, use Scratch attack!" Norman ordered. Vigoroth roared in confirmation and charged towards Pidgeot, claws ready and outstretched.

"Pidgeot, use Air Slash," Ash said simply, confidence shining in him from having such a trusty partner on the battlefield. Pidgeot flapped her wings once, sending a powerful dual blade of wind that collided head on with the Wild Monkey Pokémon, causing him to roar in pain as he was flung backwards from the sheer force behind the attack.

Norman shielded his eyes from the gust of wind that billowed over him from the aftermath of the Air Slash. "Now that's what I call power. Ash, I have to admit, just looking at the way that Pidgeot holds herself and the power behind her attack… I can tell she's been raised very well."

Ash grinned. "Thanks, I get that a lot. I always raise all my Pokémon with great care. Larvitar and Phanpy are the youngest right now so they're not the most experienced, but soon they'll be as powerful as everyone else!"

Vigoroth stood up, growling in rage at the attack he sustained. "Vigoroth, use another Slash attack, but make sure to be ready to dodge any incoming Air Slashes!" Norman ordered. Vigoroth roared and went berserk again, charging towards the rather large avian Pokémon.

"Pidgeot, use Steel Wing to shield yourself, and then counterattack!" Ash countered defiantly, refusing to give Norman a single inch of terrain in the battle.

Pidgeot remained where she was standing as she spread her wings wide again. They began to glow white as they hardened to steel. Vigoroth roared a powerful battle cry and leaped mightily, rising at least twenty feet in the air, almost hitting the roof. Pidgeot looked up as he began to dive towards her, intent on using the fall to power his attack.

Pidgeot raised one of her wings and put it over her head, using it as a huge metallic shield. Vigoroth smashed his claws against the wing with all his might, creating a loud metallic clang upon collision. Pidgeot's wing didn't even move a single inch back and this caused Norman to gasp in shock. "She resisted it completely!?" he cried in astonishment.

"And she's about to do a lot more than just resist it," Ash answered proudly. Pidgeot threw her wing up, hurling the Wild Monkey Pokémon, which was barely half her size, high into the air and as he came down, she flapped her other hardened wing, smacking Vigoroth with the limb and like a tennis ball, batted the Normal-type Pokémon away. Vigoroth smashed into the wall on the side of the Gym, cracking it.

Caroline gasped when Vigoroth crashed violently against the wall. "This is a very intense battle…"

Max's eyes began to tear a little again. "No! Dad will defeat Ash's Pidgeot! You'll see, mom!"

Norman growled at how the advantage was slipping away from him again. "Vigoroth, get up and use Focus Punch!" he ordered sharply. Vigoroth nodded and shakily began to rise. Even if Pidgeot's attack had been devastating, he still had some energy left in him. With a mighty cry he charged towards Pidgeot as his claws emanated a glow of white.

"Pidgeot, use Aerial Ace!" Ash ordered. "Defeat him with one strike!"

"Okay!" Pidgeot chirped. She flapped her wings and darted at Vigoroth. Vigoroth threw the Focus Punch directly at her face, but she was quick to disappear in a burst of wind. Before Vigoroth could react, he was hit from behind by Pidgeot's Aerial Ace attack, making a large gust of wind also impact him. Vigoroth cried out in pain and stumbled forward, swaying badly from the heavy disorientation after being struck in the back.

"Vigoroth! Hang in there!" Norman shouted encouragingly, but it was no use.

"Finish him with Air Slash!" Ash shouted quickly, giving the Vigoroth no time to react. Pidgeot didn't lose a single second and flapped her huge wings mightily, sending out a pair of blades materialized from the wind. The attack hit Vigoroth's back directly, exploding in two mini-blasts of wind which completely knocked out the Wild Monkey Pokémon upon contact.

Kenny raised the flag corresponding to Ash's side of the field. "Vigoroth is unable to continue battling. The winner of this round is Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town!" He declared as Norman returned the fallen Normal-type back into his Pokéball.

May looked at Pidgeot in surprise. She had seen the Flying-type a few times, but she didn't know she was such a powerful battler. "That Pidgeot… is pretty strong," May commented.

Max nodded. "Yeah, I didn't see Ash using a Pidgeot in the Silver Conference though, which is weird. Why didn't he use such a powerful Pokémon there?" He wondered.

Caroline nodded as well. "The power difference between Pidgeot and Vigoroth was easily noticeable, just like the difference between Vigoroth and Larvitar."

Norman clapped. "Impressive Ash, very impressive…" He complimented, smiling.

Ash smirked victoriously. "Thanks, and be careful, Pidgeot isn't done yet!"

"I hoped so, Ash," Norman began, chuckling. "Time for me to use my final Pokémon. Go… Slaking!" Norman shouted, hurling a Pokéball to the center of the arena and releasing the Pokémon inside with a bright flash of white light.

The Slaking roared proudly and pounded his arms against his chest with a lot of power. Slaking was a rather large gorilla-like Pokémon. Most of his fur was brown in coloration, along with the ring patterning encircling his eye. His face, chest, hands and feet were a lighter brown in color. Slaking had a white collar of fur around his neck, extending towards the top of his head in a small tuft.

Ash's eyes widened slightly. He immediately took out his Pokédex once again. "Slaking, the Lazy Pokémon. The world's laziest Pokémon. When it is lounging, it is actually saving energy for striking back," it informed pointedly.

Ash nodded. "Ah, he looks tough, but the Pokédex says otherwise," he commented.

"Watch out Ash, Slaking has devastating physical power and incredible durability," Latias advised him. "And they also possess a wide variety of attacks."

Max looked between Slaking and Pidgeot. "Wow… Latios may not be in, but this looks rather interesting, since that Pidgeot is tough. Dad will win, though," he said. His eyes welled up in tears again. "But no Latios…"

"Get ready to hand me that badge, Norman. Pidgeot, get ready to fight!" Ash shouted encouragingly.

Pidgeot nodded. "I'm always ready, Ash. I'll have him beat in no time!" She promised, chirping loudly and spreading her wings wide with an air of superiority.

Norman gazed at Pidgeot and Ash analytically. 'He handled the shift badly with Larvitar, but Pidgeot seems to have been a strong solution. Ash always tries to be in the attacking role of the battle, he doesn't play defensive. I need to force him into defense so he can't counter as easily, there's no room for mistakes here…' Norman deducted from the experiences of the battle and what he'd seen of Ash so far.

"Pidgeot, let's start this off!" Ash began. "Use…"

However, he was unable to finish as Norman quickly interrupted. "Slaking, use Thunder Punch!" He ordered.

Slaking rose to his feet and charged towards Pidgeot at a rather impressive speed for such a big and lazy Pokémon. As his right fist began to generate static, he threw a powerful electric punch towards Pidgeot. "Take this!" Slaking yelled powerfully.

Ash gulped at the incoming attack that could be potentially dangerus to his Pokémon. "Pidgeot, dodge to the side now!" he countered quickly. The Normal/Flying-type quickly threw her body to the right, adding a flap of the corresponding wing to aid her quick dodge. Slaking passed beside her, her dodge had been fast enough to avoid the super-effective hit.

"Slaking, use Rock Tomb!" Norman followed up immediately, knowing that he needed to give Pidgeot and Ash no room for any offensive moves. The static around Slaking's fist disappeared. He put both hands together and pounded the floor hard, causing a small tremor to run across the building. From all around Pidgeot, the floor cracked and split apart as a series of sharp jagged rocks emerged from it, all directed on burying her into a catacomb of deadly boulders.

"Pidgeot, use Steel Wing!" Ash countered quickly. Pidgeot nodded as her wings began to glow white as they hardened to steel again. She made a powerful horizontal slash with her Steel Wing, so strong that it split all the rocks heading at her in half, making them crumble and fall to the floor with heavy thuds. "Now, Air Slash!" the Pokémon trainer added.

Norman gasped. Ash was amazing, even with such a rapid succession of attacks, he still managed to shrug them off and make an opening to attack. "Slaking, block it!" He countered. Pidgeot's Steel Wing ended, returning both wings to normal as she flapped them mightily, firing two large blades of pure wind towards Slaking. Slaking growled and placed his big fat hands in front of him, palms wide open. The Wind Blades collided strongly against him, making him wince from the stinging pain in his hands, but the damage was minimal.

"He blocked it!?" Ask asked in surprise, eyes widening slightly.

"I did tell you that Slaking was very durable," Latias reminded him. "Didn't I?"

Ash nodded. "Yeah, you did Latias, and I appreciate it." He turned to Pidgeot. "Pidgeot, get ready, take flight!"

"Okay Ash," Pidgeot chirped as she flapped her wings, rising to the air, though she couldn't go as high as she'd like due to the low ceiling. "Use Peck Attack!" He ordered quickly, before Norman could attack.

Norman growled lowly as every one of his gym's gimmicks and strategies was constantly overcome by the Pallet Town trainer. 'Ash is too good, he's shifting to the offence even when I'm trying to stop him from doing that!' He thought desperately. "Slaking, catch her!"

Slaking braced himself as Pidgeot dived at him quickly, and with a speedy movement of his arms, caught Pidgeot's beak in a powerful clap. The Lazy Pokémon growled as he was pushed back several feet by the larger avian Pokémon from the sheer power behind her crash. Slaking smirked. "Got you now," he taunted once he had finally stopped her.

"Shake him off Pidgeot!" Ash shouted at her. Pidgeot arched her body and smashed her feet into his chest, digging her sharp talons into the coat of fur and drawing blood, making Slaking wince from stinging pain.

"Slaking, hold her with only one hand and use Thunder Punch!" Norman commanded. One of Slaking's hands closed into a fist, keeping Pidgeot's beak trapped inside it while he reared back the other one, static already beginning to swirl around it as Norman's Pokémon prepared to smash the electric-imbued fist straight into Pidgeot.

"Pidgeot, your wings are free, use Air Slash!" Ash countered. Pidgeot buried her talons deeper in Slaking's chest to get a good stable hold of his body and angled her wings, flapping them with pure power and smashing two blades of wind into his neck and head. Slaking cried out in pain and stumbled backwards from the force of the blows, releasing Pidgeot in the process.

"Got you," Pidgeot taunted back mockingly as she stabilized herself.

Ash cheered. "Yes! Good work Pidgeot!" He praised her.

"Hold your praise Ash, this is not done yet! Slaking, use Return!" Norman shouted, clearly wary now. This Pidgeot was very strong and judging from what he had seen so far, Norman deduced she was capable of defeating his strongest Pokémon. Slaking roared and pounded his arms into his chest, not minding the cuts Pidgeot had inflicted on him.

Ash tilted his head when he heard that. 'Return… Return… that sounds familiar…' He thought.

"Ash, that's the move Nurse Joy suggested for Pidgeot," Latias reminded him.

Latios nodded. "Careful Ash, we don't know how powerful it'll be coming from Slaking!"

Max grinned. "This is gonna be good!"

Bianca nodded. "Definitely better than Slakoth versus Larvitar, that's for sure," she agreed.

"So… this is how intense Pokémon Battles can be…" May said uneasily, looking between the two powerful Pokémon, and then back at her small and timid Torchic.

A faint halo of pink energy began to surround Slaking as the Lazy Pokémon let his feelings grow from all the love he had for his trainer. All the wonderful moments he had shared with him he began to relive in his mind. He also began thinking of how much he cherished Norman. The pink energy surrounding Slaking represented the bond of trainer and Pokémon. The bond of friendship and love itself between Norman and Slaking transformed into pure power, growing stronger until it was very thick and bright with energy. Norman nodded at the scene. "Good work Slaking, now attack!" He shouted.

Ash gulped. "That looks very powerful, be careful Pidgeot! Watch his movements closely and dodge it!" He commanded her.

Pidgeot nodded and braced herself, watching Slaking with her extremely keen vision, not a single detail missing her. Slaking roared, and at an impressive Return-boosted speed, he charged at her. Pidgeot fluently dodged to the side, making Slaking pass just inches beside her. She held her breath in anxiety as the power Slaking was radiating grazed her slightly. Slaking, however, was not done. Instead of trying to stop his charge and turn around; he continued his path until he reached the wall of the Gym, and using the superior power and agility the Return attack brought him, he jumped towards it and flipped, using it as leverage to launch himself at Pidgeot with even greater momentum and speed.

Pidgeot gasped at the unexpected movement. She immediately flapped her wings in an attempt to gain altitude in the tight building, but there was no escape now. Slaking roared and threw a punch directly at her chest, which landed with a massive amount of power. Slaking released the equivalent power of all the love for his trainer into a single massive attack. "Pidgeot!" Ash cried out, deeply concerned, he wasn't sure if his dear Pokémon, despite her pride as a past flock leader, and her vast experience and power, would be able to survive such a powerful blow.

Slaking dragged Pidgeot along with him and smashed her into the wall on the side of the gym, cracking it severely from the sheer power behind his Return attack and Pidgeot's collision. She shrieked loudly and collapsed, eyes closed in pain, pinned against the wall by the fist in her chest. Norman smirked. "It's over Ash," he said as Slaking's aura of love began to die down.

Kenny nodded. "Almost no Pokémon has ever survived such a head-on hit from Slaking's Return Attack. So, I guess, the battle goes to-" he began saying, but then gasped at what he saw.

Pidgeot's eyes opened rapidly, clenching her beak as she tried to resist the pain she had just savagely taken. Ash smirked "My Pidgeot isn't just any Pokémon, she's my Pidgeot!" He said in appreciation. "You can do it Pidgeot! Use Steel Wing!"

Norman gasped, frozen in shock. It was perhaps the first time he had witnessed a challenger somehow survive his Slaking's onslaught. "Wh-what!?" he cried out in surprise. "Impossible!"

"For Ash, for my trainer… I won't lose! He put his trust in me to win this, and I will not fail him!" Pidgeot squawked loudly as her wings hardened to steel. She crossed them over her chest, at each side of Slaking's arm. "Get off!" Pidgeot shrieked as she spread her wings wide, slashing them against the Lazy Pokémon's chest with amazing power. Slaking cried out as he was pushed back by the large and powerful wings.

Max's eyes widened. "So awesome!" He shouted giddily. "But Latios would have been more awesome…"

Even Bianca's eyes widened in surprise. Pidgeot indeed was something else. "Wow…" was all the young artist could say.

Latios nodded once to himself, impressed. "Good job Pidgeot! Win this battle so Ash doesn't look like an idiot for not using me in it!"

"Hey!" Ash shouted indignantly, pouting.

Pikachu nodded. "Yes, go Pidgeot! Get the win!"

Ash decided to ignore Latios and instead turned to look at Norman. "Told you so Norman, you'll really need more than that to defeat Pidgeot."

Norman chuckled, and then began to clap. "Magnificent Ash, simply magnificent. Not only are you an extremely resourceful and talented trainer, but you're coupled with a very rich and amazing selection of Pokémon. You're truly one of a kind Ash, it's my honor to meet you on the battlefield," he praised the trainer.

Caroline smiled. "You should feel proud Ash, it's not every day Norman praises a trainer so much, and he's always a tough critic."

Ash nodded, grinning. "Thanks! But that praise isn't all just for me, save some for Pidgeot!" he said as Pidgeot rose to her feet once again, wings spread wide with power and pride as she was rejuvenated with renewed energy and morale."It's time to wrap this battle up!" Ash said. Pidgeot nodded as she glared at Slaking. The Lazy Pokémon glared back at her in a standoff of pure power.

However, the battle couldn't continue, as a small tremor shook the building, making everyone stare around awkwardly. "Did you guys feel that?" Norman asked confusedly.

Caroline nodded. "Yes, and that wasn't Slaking or Ash's Pidgeot."

Ash frowned. "Latios?"

"It can only mean one thing," Latios answered simply, getting ready before uttering the name of the organization that was constantly badgering them. "Team Rocket."

Another tremor shook the building, followed by a massive crashing sound as something tore the entire roof and one of the walls apart completely. The attack made a large section of the roof and wall on the other side also collapse.

May and Max screamed as the roof just over them came crashing down towards them. Caroline quickly hugged her children tightly and pulled them close in a vain attempt to protect them. Bianca just stared at the incoming debris, frozen in place with absolute terror.

"Noooo!" Norman screamed desperately at the sight, fear ripping him from the inside for the safety of his beloved family. "Slaking, save them!" Slaking started running towards the bystanders, but it was too late, as he wasn't nearly fast enough to intervene, and the fact he had some exhaustion on him from the battle did not help at all.

Suddenly, the detritus that would have fallen on Bianca and Norman's family froze in midair, sparing them from the painful and possibly lethal experience. A psychic wave tore the debris apart and blasted it away, keeping them all safe. Max looked up, and at last, he saw a visible Latios hovering over them protectively, eyes glowing as he pushed every danger away from them. Latias herself made sure nothing fell on the distracted Kenny, Slaking and Norman, while also protecting Ash, Pikachu and Pidgeot.

Norman sighed in relief. "Thank you, Ash!"

Ash growled, ignoring Norman. "Not them again!"

With his family safe, Norman looked through the gaping hole that had once been the roof. What he saw baffled him greatly; a colossal mechanical Slaking was looming ominously over the destroyed Gym building. "What the hell is that!?" Norman cursed, wondering what could the construct that just demolished a part of the gym could be.

"Prepare for today's Mankey trouble!" A conversant-sounding feminine voice said over some loudspeakers coming from the mechanical Slaking beast.

"And our SlaKing Kong will make it double!" An equally-familiar male voice added over the same loudspeakers…


Meanwhile, in an unknown location…

There was a rather plain yet elegant room adorned with very little furniture, the only prominently noticeable features being a large expensive desk with a very expensive computer on it. A man was sitting behind that desk. He had long pulled-back red hair and was wearing a long red coat, with the left side of the chest colored black with the Team Magma logo displayed proudly in red. He was idly looking between several papers that were on his desk, shifting between the sheets and then suddenly frowned in very clear impatience. "Where the hell is Tabitha!?" He asked intolerantly, raising his voice to the two other occupants in the room, a man and a woman dressed in the standard Team Magma uniform. "He was due to return over three hours ago!" The man added.

The female tapped an earpiece communicator attached to her visor and took a step forward. "Tabitha's helicopter reported at the airship dock a few minutes ago, he should be here at any moment, Lord Maxie," she said.

Maxie, the dreaded leader of the villainous Team Magma organization, nodded in a pleased attitude. "Very good."

Several minutes later, the sliding door to the office slid open, and three other people entered. "Reporting back, Lord Maxie," Tabitha stopped at the entrance and saluted, as did the two grunts behind him. Tabitha grabbed his visor and took it off, then slid the hood back, as did the two grunts behind him, then resumed walking towards the desk.

"Oh, about time Tabitha," the male officer said while snickering. "We thought you had been injured… or maybe captured."

The woman laughed. "Or worse," she added snidely.

"Shut up Mack, Courtney," Tabitha told them, glaring.

"Oh, but why?" Mack asked mockingly. "We're only saying the truth."

"Enough!" Maxie said loudly, immediately silencing the three Admins of Team Magma. "What's the report of the assignment?"

"Mission successful, Lord Maxie!" Tabitha reported as he stopped in front of the desk. Behind him, the remaining two members of his attack unit stood firmly.

Mack raised an eyebrow. "I don't see the rest of your unit. How is a mission successful if only three of you come back?" He questioned, shaking his head once. "Bad form Tabitha, very bad."

Maxie nodded in agreement. "He's got a good point, Tabitha. Where's the rest of your unit?" He asked, his eyes narrowing dangerously.

Tabitha sighed, but still stood firmly. "They were defeated and captured, Lord Maxie. We couldn't jeopardize the mission's objectives by attempting a rescue so we had to leave them behind," he reported.

Mack nodded. "Yep, stupid admin Tabitha got his unit caught, woohoo," he commented, then gave a quiet and mocking laugh.

Tabitha growled. "Mack, seriously, shut your trap before I smack you over the back of the head."

Maxie narrowed his eyes. "There better be a good reason for losing five team members on a low profile mission, Tabitha."

Tabitha nodded. "Oh, there is a really good reason. Two reasons, actually." He placed a folder filled with many papers on Maxie's desk, along with a disk and a stone tablet.

"Perfect," Maxie muttered as he gazed at the ancient stone tablet. "At least you got the mission objectives, even if you lost more than half the attack team."

"This folder contains all the information gathered in the mission to the Oldale Ruins, including data on the Chamber, the ruins and Professor Alden. There's also a complaint about the new armors, in the battles they were the first things to mess up our Pokémon," Tabitha summarized.

Maxie sighed. "I'll have our developers work on them," he replied, and then he grabbed the disk. "What's this?" He asked.

"The details are in the written report," Tabitha began. "All the digital pictures taken of the inscriptions in the chamber walls are there, and also videos of two Pokémon you'll be very interested in, especially since those two Pokémon were the reason more than half the team was lost," Tabitha said.

"Magikarp and Feebas?" Mack muttered, stifling his snickers. Tabitha simply ignored him.

"And these two Pokémon are…" Maxie began, leaving the sentence hanging for Tabitha to finish. 'This better be good,' he added to himself mentally.

Tabitha closed his eyes and sighed. "During the mission to the Oldale Ruins we fought a Latias and Latios, both owned by a Pokémon trainer."

Maxie's eyes widened in pure disbelief at hearing the names of two Legendary Pokémon. "Seriously?"

Mack raised an eyebrow. "That's a pathetic excuse! He's blowing hot air, probably as an attempt to get a raise or promotion!"He yelled, pointing accusingly at Tabitha. "You girl named freak!"

Courtney frowned before she pointed at the data disk. "Well Mack, if he has proof its real… it could be a big thing."

Tabitha nodded in confirmation before beginning his elaboration. "Yes sir, a Latios and Latias. The report contains my analysis on them, and during our battle against them the grunts fighting them recorded it all on their visors, and then transmitted it to me. The videos on that disk are the fights Latias and Latios put up against us," the Magma Admin concluded.

Maxie picked up the disk and looked at it. "This is… extremely valuable, more than five grunts are. Well done Tabitha," Maxie congratulated. "A Latias and Latios aren't our objectives, but they're bound to know something about Lord God Groudon. I'll analyze the videos and determine if a strike team to retrieve them would be in order."

"If you send a team to capture them, make it a highly prepared one," Tabitha advised. "They're very dangerous."

Maxie nodded. "I'll keep that in mind."

As the three admins and the leader of Team Magma talked about the mission and the Latias and Latios Tabitha had discovered, none of them knew they were being intently watched. In one of the corners of the room, unseen to the living world, was the same spirit from the Oldale Ruins.

"So, this is 'Team Magma,' eh…" the malicious spirit muttered to itself, its spectral voice unable to be heard by the humans. Curious to learn more about the individuals before it, a small power wave emitted from the spirit. Within seconds it gazed at their souls and their minds, instantly learning everything about each of them, and equally quickly he filtered out everything useless and focused on what mattered to it. "Hmm… their knowledge about the orbs and Legendary Weather trio is slightly adequate…" the evil spirit whispered. 'They're well organized, well armed and very powerful… with all these metal things they have… this 'technology' they now wield… Well, humans have certainly developed new stuff since the last time I wandered out of my hiding place. This could prove a perfect chance to achieve my plans. I'll let them keep the tablet for now, as it'll guide them to where I hid the three orbs…let's see how they develop their plans,' it thought to itself.

The spirit gazed silently at each living person in the room for a second. "Though, their goal, spreading the landmasses of the world, is pointlessly stupid in my opinion. I created the Red, Blue and Jade orbs to gain complete control of Kyogre, Groudon and Rayquaza for a very different purpose than something as silly as making more land, but humans are very greedy and these ones are no exception. I can easily influence them to take on a more… destructive and magnificent goal… their goal is not worthy of my ambitions," The spirit said darkly. "A goal that truly does justice to my creations."

The spirit turned to look at Maxie and focused on him. At the moment he was reading the report the human named Tabitha had handed to him while the rest talked amongst themselves. 'Hm, their leader is very interested in the child Latias and Latios. They're honestly very weak and powerless right now, they'll be of little use for finding Groudon, but if his uses for them can bring harm to them, I'm fine with it.' The spirit gave a low spectral hum.

The spirit gave a quiet sigh, or what resembled a sigh. "I'd better hurry up on my new plan of using the Latios and Latias children for my revenge against their damned mother... while they are young and powerless. If I wait too long and they grow older it'll be much harder, especially taking into account the kinds of dangerously strong powers their mother wields. It they inherit any power from that damned bitch it'll be harder to draw them into my plan," the mysterious spirit said to itself, its voice trembling with anger and hate at the eon twins' 'mother'. It resumed watching the humans quietly while witnessing their every movement and action they performed.

Maxie parted his gaze from Tabitha's well made and structured report and silently looked for a few moments at the disk and tablet that were also placed on his desk. "Good work Tabitha, you're dismissed. Magma admins Courtney and Mack, prepare for your next assignments."

Tabitha nodded and turned around, then smirked as he passed Mack. "I'm one step closer to being named second in command of Team Magma," he taunted, chuckling. "You're lagging behind, Mack. Better start working harder, kid!"

Mack rolled his eyes. "Don't get cocky because of a tablet and a pair of Legendaries. My next mission will get me something much better than that." He turned and walked out of the room with Courtney.

The three Team Magma admins exited the office, as did the remaining two grunts of Tabitha's team, though they walked down a different hallway.

The spirit, having nothing else to do with Maxie, went through the wall of the office and followed along the hallway. It saw the two grunts that had been with that Tabitha human. They talked to each other for a bit, before they split up and walked down different hallways.

The spirit paused for a second and looked between them, and then chuckled. "It's been a while since I got to kill something. Let's have fun." The spirit looked around to check if there anyone nearby the grunt it had chosen as its victim. After making sure the lone grunt was indeed alone, it flew at him and entered his body.

The grunt gasped as his eyes widened and turned dull. Within seconds the possession was complete. But the spirit had no real intention to keep it. Dark power began to surge from within the astral projected soul, and suddenly a whirlwind of dark Aura enveloped the body, burning the helpless human into nothingness in a few short instants.

The spirit gazed solemnly as the dark Aura began to consume the corpse until nothing remained. "It's been a while since I got to kill anything… that was fun. Short, but fun," it said to itself. "What a pitiful shame, humans have become very weak and fragile in this era," the spirit commented sadly, in order to sustain the weak astral projection; it only had a minimal fraction of its power projected, which even minimal was enough to kill a human.

"Pathetic! Back in my time humans were true warriors, terrible fighters capable of combatting and defeating Pokémon with the powers they were born with, with the powers they wielded naturally, not being forced to rely on feeble machines and creations. We were truly the best species, only below the Legendaries because they are gods and we were mortals, but among mortals, we could defeat any Pokémon who dared challenged us… I hope all this metal they use, or as they call them, machines, makes up for that, which I doubt, but it's still a slim hope. The world has truly changed since I last gazed upon it," the spirit said, troubled.

Then it cackled in a dark and malicious tone. 'Enough of this child's play. Team Magma is decent enough, but for now I have to check something very important… Alto Mare… the child Latios and Latias being away from that city is worrying… I'd better go and check on it to see what happened to the real Latios…their blasted father,' the spirit thought as it flickered slightly and vanished from the area, teleporting instantly to the Water City of Alto Mare.

The spirit gazed quietly at the water city below him, immediately noting something was very wrong. "I can't… I can't sense Latios' power!" It screeched in shock, in its place, it sensed… something different, even if it couldn't quite get it.

The Spirit flickered as it vanished once again, reappearing right in the middle of the secret Garden in an instant, the very place where the father Latios had died in the past, where he had been sealed into the Soul Dew. It flew towards the pedestal where the Soul Dew had always been at, and what it saw nearly made the spirit faint (if it could). There was no Soul Dew. The Pedestal was completely empty. "What the hell!?" The Spirit cursed loudly. "Impossible! My curse against Latios was foolproof! But if Latios' Soul Dew is gone… why is Alto Mare still filled with life and water?" He questioned angrily, that curse had been made so that the city was destroyed if the Soul Dew was destroyed and successfully killed Latios' soul along with it. The Spirit paused when a new power caught its attention, the same one it had sensed earlier.

The Spirit flew towards a pond and analyzed it intently for a few seconds. It lightly tapped the water, but the second it touched the water, it screamed in pain and pulled back quickly as a painful jolt of a stronger power channeled into him. "Damn! Unmistakable… it's Kyogre's power. Smart… somehow they used Kyogre's power over water to keep this area intact even with Latios gone…" He scowled. "But that doesn't answer the most important question… where's Latios? The Real and important one…"

Suddenly, as if on cue, a small flicker of power reached the spirit's senses. A power it knew all too well since it hated its owner deeply. "Oh no!" It cried in fright. It quickly left the garden, flying skywards, and as it did so, it let go of as much of the bits of power it had, leaving just enough to keep the Astral Projection active for a few minutes. Legendaries were powerful, and when dealing with senses as powerful as the father Latios', the less power the better as it meant sensing itself would be harder.

The Spirit gazed quietly in direction where it felt Latios' power coming from. And there, on the horizon, flying towards Alto Mare, the Evil Spirit saw him. It was unmistakable; it was Latios, the father one. And worst of all, he was alive, back to the flesh and completely free of the Soul Dew. The one fact that bothered the specter even more than the fact the older father Latios was alive was that he was not alone.

The spirit gasped. Something even worse than Latios was beside him. It was his mate. The mother of his children, the twin Latias and Latios that had in the past resided at Alto Mare, it was her

"No…" The Spirit said, absolutely horrified at the sight of that Legendary. "He's alive… and… he's with… her," It growled, unable to say anymore. Then a more urgent thought got to him. "Crap! I need to get away from here. Latios' damned mate is such a powerful goddess, even as an Astral Projection with the lowest possible power, she might still sense me… if that happens I'm doomed… I confirmed my fears, there's no point staying here any longer…"

The Spirit vanished, leaving no trace it had ever been there, sadly both legendaries had been distracted with each other and unable to sense the slim trace of power before it was gone. With the discovery that the father Latios was alive and reunited with his mate, the spirit had much to plan and think out, if its wicked plots and evil schemes were to come to fruition…

Meanwhile…

In the middle of a clearing in a forest near a city, the roar of a large engine could be heard, echoing harshly through the forest and scaring any wild Pokémon away. The source of the noise was a large jet plane, hovering vertically with its engines pointed downwards as it landed. The jet plane was very robust, with two long wings and two engines for vertical takeoff and landing on each wing. The plane was a deep black color with a large red 'R' painted on each side.

When the jet had settled down, a door on the side opened, and two figures stepped out of the jet plane and started to walk away. When they were a sufficient distance away the plane began to take off again. When it reached a sufficient altitude, the engines tilted backwards and the jet rocketed away.

"So, we're finally here in Hoenn, eh Marauder?" the first one asked.

"Indeed, Tyson…" The Marauder replied to his companion.

Tyson nodded and looked around. "So this is the Hoenn Region. This is where that brat Ash Ketchum is. I've got a thing or two reserved for him..." He cracked his fists in anger.

The Marauder nodded back at him. "That makes two of us. Well, let's get going. Hunting Ash can wait, we've got to get enrolled in Team Aqua and Team Magma as soon as possible to keep Giovanni happy."

Tyson frowned. "True…"

"Oh don't worry Tyson, we'll get him one day. We've both got a score to settle with him, he's fresh on my mind too," The Iron-Mask Marauder assured him. "For now, let's focus on the mission to keep Giovanni pleased. When we capture Rayquaza, Groudon or Kyogre with the Prison Ball, we'll certainly get payback against him," he said darkly, then he began to chuckle. Tyson nodded in agreement and both set out for the nearest city to get started on their assignments.


Author Notes: And another chapter of A New Chance for Adventure has passed! What did you think? It seems the villains are on the move! Team Rocket's Tyson and Marauder, the evil spirit, Team Magma… This isn't good… The dark side is rising! Oh no!

Just who is this Evil Spirit and what are its intentions? Oh no… I won't say! xD What do you think of its visit to Team Magma HQ and Alto Mare? and it's shocking discovery at the Water City?

And not everything is dark either! For a ray of light shines back into the living, for the father Latios is now alive and out of the Soul Dew! =D How? Why? You'll find out later!