Author's Notes: Longest round yet. Slightly late release. Worth it. Holla at a playa! Review. Tell me what I'm good at. Tell me what I'm bad at. Oh! Also, speaking of reviews, you amazing fans have officially given me 101 reviews, most of them constructive! Thank you all so much! I never expected my story to get so popular. I owe it all to you. Hope you enjoy this one. You deserve it! :D
Une version française de cette histoire est disponible ici: Absolette.
Ship Warning: Specialshipping, OldRivalshipping, Pokeshipping, Gold flirting with girls, a mention of Franticshipping, and a misguided mention of Contestshipping.
I do not own or have any rights to any part of the Pokemon franchise whatsoever.
Round 17: The Better Dragon Tamer
The dex holders casually wandered into the nearby city, their eyes darting everywhere. They were not really in a formal grouping, but Yellow seemed to be leading the team, with the Johto trainers following behind her, Charon locked in the middle of the teens, and the Sinnoh trainers bringing up the rear. They observed the buildings, the people, the plants, the sunlight… everything. Their odd glances around the area coupled with their unusual line up made it quite obvious that they were not from around town. One look at the group of mixed and matched trainers with attire from around the globe and an elderly man in a prison suit would make anyone suspicious, but none of the trainers had time to critique their own wardrobe. They were too busy marveling at the fluid motions and colorful views of the new world they were in, all the while wondering what their next move would be.
"Well… It certainly looks like Lance wasn't lying…" Crystal muttered as they walked down the urban sidewalk, "This place sure looks a lot like Goldenrod."
Silver nodded. "There are actual people here too."
Diamond was waving his arm in front of his face over and over again. "Is anyone else impressed with the motion here? Check out this arm-waving thing! It's the coolest!"
"Yes, we've all noticed the motions, Dia." Platinum replied with a chuckle.
Gold's eyes, however, were busy focusing on the women they passed. "I'm more interested in the colors." He offered with a sly smile.
Charon facepalmed himself. "I can't believe I have to put up with this."
"Well, believe it." Yellow shot back, "We're stuck here until we find Red and get a way back home."
"But seriously," Pearl offered, "feel free to leave whenever you want."
"No." Yellow came again, "If we don't manage to run into Lance again, we might need him for our return trip."
Pearl's eyes narrowed on the man in front of him. He did not like it. He had honestly hoped that when Charon was taken away by Looker a few years ago it would be the last he ever saw of him, but Yellow had a good point. Charon was an asset. A very annoying asset that had once tried to kill him.
"Oh, please…" the scientist teased with a grin, "I wouldn't miss this for the world! Just think about it! We are the first people from our universe to ever make contact with this parallel dimension! We could be revered as pioneers in interdimensional travel!"
"Technically, Red, Green, Blue, and Giovanni were the first." Diamond responded, prompting Charon to let loose a disappointed scowl.
"Fine." He continued, "We're the second people to make contact, but we-"
"And Lance was the second." Pearl added with a grin, frustrating the scientist even further.
"Fine…" he moaned a second time, ignoring the high five that Diamond and Pearl shared at his expense. "We are the third group of people to make contact with this parallel dimension, but think of the fame it could bring us! The glory! The wealth! The power!"
"The luxuries are enjoyable," Platinum sighed, "But I already have most of them."
"I'm going to have to stop you right there." Yellow said, turning to face the group as she slowed to a stop.
"What do you mean?" Platinum asked.
Yellow took a moment to look at her surroundings again. She kept a steady eye on the everyday citizens that walked around with unknowing smiles on their faces. There were people conversing with each other in small groups. There were some on their pokégears. There were even some trainers with Pokémon walking freely next to them. Everyone was in blissful ignorance.
"You all realize that we can't let these people know where we're from, right?"
"What?!" Charon cried in shock, "Why not?!"
"We don't know what could come out of it." Yellow insisted, "We know too little about this world to just assume that they will welcome interdimensional travelers with open arms! We've gotta do this quietly."
"Well, that ruins all the fun." The scientist insisted again.
"Yeah, and it makes this a billion times harder!" Gold pointed out, "How the heck are we supposed to find our seniors if we aren't allowed to tell anyone what's going on?!"
Yellow furrowed her brow and squinted to think. "I… I'm not sure, exactly, but I-"
"I say we start on the east side of town." Crystal interrupted.
Yellow looked up at her with a curious tilt of the head.
She shrugged. "That's where all of the people and cars seem to be headed."
The dex holders checked their surroundings again. She was right. Everybody seemed to be headed in a single direction for some reason. In fact, most of the citizens seemed to be in a bit of a rush, and the only traffic happening AT ALL was going east.
"Don't tell me none of you noticed that when you were looking at the colors earlier." Crystal smiled.
Immediately, Yellow sprinted off toward the crowds, and the others followed close. "Crys, what would we do without you?"
Little did the dex holders realize, not everyone was headed East. In fact, there was one particular dragon tamer that was currently headed directly up, and if the children would have taken the time to look a little more toward the skyline when they were discussing their predicament, they might have seen a very familiar shadow plastered against the bright eastern sky. A little more concentration would have revealed the exact same shadow slowly scaling the fire escape to the building the first shadow was perched atop.
Lance was moving quickly but without sound as he hopped from one platform to the next in a constant attempt to reach the top of the apartment building. He would normally use his dragonite for such a feat, but he wanted to gain a surprise advantage over his opponent, and any Pokémon would just give away his position.
The trainer reached to his earpiece and silenced the little communicator just in case his counterpart had one as well. He did not want to cause any static or interference that might alert his adversary. He was being as quiet as he could, fully aware of the importance this confrontation could hold. His counterpart had Giratina, not only one of the few tickets in and out of other dimensions but also a legendary ghost type Pokémon. Mewtwo's weakness.
Lance's hands finally found their way to the building top, and he pulled himself up slowly, just barely peaking his head over the roof to get a good look at his enemy.
To the man's shock, however, his counterpart was on the complete opposite side of the building, leaning up against the concrete railing and looking straight at him with an arrogant little smirk. He had heard him coming.
His cover already blown, Lance scrambled up the side of the building as fast as he could, but his counterpart simply gave a small wave of the hand and jumped onto a library next to them. He made a run for it.
Lance was not going to let him get away with that. As soon as he cleared the apartment building, he jumped for the library too, never even bothering to consider that he could use his Pokémon now. He did not need his Pokémon. If his counterpart could do it, he could do it.
The chase was on.
The clock in Professor Oak's lab just continued to tick away. No one was listening to it, but everyone was paying attention. What was it that Gary had said? 28 hours until the end of Red's world? Yeah, that was it. That filled everyone with 'confidence.' And the fact that Lance had now informed them that they were off the case? That filled them with even more 'confidence.' Sarcasm of course. This sucked. This was terrifying, and no one felt comfortable with the situation at hand.
Green sat on the couch next to Blue, both trainers simply looking around the room for something to bide time with. Gary relaxed on his grandpa's rocking chair, trying to do the same, and Brock was watching paint dry from a recliner. Nobody spoke. Nobody had to or wanted to. They all had too much on their minds. They thought about their worlds ending, Ash dying, Red never coming back… They thought about Mewtwo's loss, Misty's capture, their ultimate failure at Goldenrod…
Misty's capture still hit Green especially hard. That attack was meant for her. She knew it. That one rocket had told her that Giovanni was after her. It was probably some sick attempt to use her as bait or leverage over Red, and while she was not exactly thrilled with the idea of playing the damsel in distress, she would have rather it been her than Misty. People did not need to take falls for her. She could handle it herself. She was strong. She…
A small stream of tears began to trickle beneath Green's eyelids.
"Green?" Blue finally asked, "Are you… crying?"
The girl turned away from him and covered her face with her hands to wipe the water clean from her cheeks. "No. Ugh! Don't be silly, Blue. I don't cry unless I'm faking it."
Blue leaned over to his friend. It was not common for him to help people with emotional issues, but he seemed to be doing it a lot lately. "Are you sure you're alright? Remember I told you-"
Green turned back around and shone a huge smile to him. "Seriously," she lied, "I'm doing fine! In a great mood!"
"I think you're overselling it a little." Brock deadpanned from across the room.
Green shot him a glare. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
"That you're emotionally distressed and guilty about Misty's capture." Gary offered without even opening his eyes.
The girl now switched to shooting him death glares.
Gary shrugged. "Hey, we all know it's true. So, why not just be honest about it?"
Green stood up from the couch. "Alright, you! If you didn't look so much like Blue, I'd be sure to wipe that conceded smirk off of your face!"
Gary shrugged again with another grin. "There's always something stopping everyone."
Green was about to let out another threat, but Blue grabbed her arm from the couch, and Brock stepped in the middle of it.
"Alright! Alright!" the older boy offered, "I know we're all getting kind of testy right now. Maybe we should just resolve not to talk to each other for a while."
Green sat back down on the couch with her arms folded. She purposefully turned her glare away from Gary. That kid had a real talent for getting under people's skin. Blue moved his hand to her shoulder for comfort, and her cheeks tinted red for only a second.
"Alright, everybody!" announced Professor Oak's crackling voice as he swung the lab doors wide open, "I'm gonna need the three strongest boys in here to come outside and help Tracey and I unload some equipment from the truck!"
The trainers all turned around to face the elderly man with a look of curiosity. He seemed way too happy with the given circumstances.
"Why? What's going on, Professor?" Brock asked.
He let loose a cunning grin. "Come outside and I'll show you."
Unable to resist the temptation, the trainers followed the old man outside, and as they got to the driveway, they noticed a white truck, tailgate open, with Tracey struggling to pull a large machine out of the back.
The machine was a big bulky rectangle with a mechanical chrome coloring. It had an uncountable number of buttons and switches on it with two small screens near either side of its midsection. The body was also connected to a much larger screen that branched out into two identical tubes ending on the left and right sides.
"Grandpa…" Gary began, "Isn't that a trading machine?"
"Why yes it is, Gary! What do you think?"
Blue eyed it more curiously than the others did. "Trading? Trading for what?"
"Oh! You don't trade Pokémon in your world?" the professor asked.
"Well, no, we do." He began again, "But why would you need a machine for that?"
Brock tried to explain. "Well, you see, Blue, normally these machines are found at conventions, tournaments, Pokémon centers, and other places that people tend to trade Pokémon at. A trainer stands on one side of the machine and puts their pokéball in the first tube, while the other trainer-"
"No, no, no!" Blue corrected him, "I can understand how it works, but, I mean, why is it necessary? Couldn't two trainers just hand each other the pokéballs?"
"Hey... guys…" Tracey grunted, "I don't… mean to be rude… but I could really use a hand here…"
Blue, Brock, and Gary dropped the conversation and just walked over to give him a hand. Together they were able to pull the machine from the bed of the truck, and they slowly started to carry it into the lab under Oak's watchful eye.
"Sooo… Professor," Green tried, "Why are you so excited about the machine?"
He smiled at the young woman. "Because this is our new secret weapon."
Green just stared at the man. She could not be sure if he was about to say something brilliant or if he was just getting old and losing it.
"Um… Aren't you going to ask me why?" he asked.
Her eyes narrowed. "Sure. I'll bite. Why?"
The four boys carrying the machine also gave him their attention, or at least, as much attention as they could give the man while they were hauling a huge block of metal inside.
His grin widened. "I'm going to use this beauty to get rid of your level caps!"
"What?!" Everyone shouted at once. The boys nearly stopped moving.
"That's right." Oak admitted, "I've drawn up some plans to convert this trading machine into a mechanism that does not simply send Pokémon from one trainer to another but instead sends Pokémon from one pokéball to another!"
Gary lit up as he and the others continued to bring the trading machine inside. "And if the stuff that we determined last night with Blue's machamp is correct, then doing that should unlock the dimensional atmosphere surrounding our counterparts' Pokémon and adjust them to the laws of our universe!"
"Precisely!" Professor Oak nodded.
Green looked over the old man a second time, a mischievous grin surfacing on her face. "But, Professor, weren't we told by Lance not to interfere any further with this case?"
"Oh, come now." He shrugged, "Ash and Misty's lives are in danger. How long did you honestly expect that rule to hold?"
Green's grin only grew with surprise and excitement.
"No." he continued, "You may do as you please, but I'm not even going to let an organization like the G-Men tell me what to do if it means losing Ash and Misty. They've both become too important to me over the years."
"Yeah…" Brock's voice came as he emerged from the lab again, having apparently finished his job, "Besides, we've already ignored orders from Lance once. If Ash and I had listened every time someone credible told us to give up, our journeys would have ended a long time ago."
"Heck," added Gary, "You two wouldn't even listen to me about it! If nothing else, Ash is persistent."
Blue came out as well. "Plus, that kid sure seems to drive Red up a wall. So, he can't be all bad."
Tracey emerged last. "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I saw this coming from the beginning." He pulled a wrench from his pocket and twirled it in his hand, "Let's get to fixing this thing!"
Lance jumped as high as he could possibly go, latching onto the roof of the mall next him. His counterpart was certainly giving him a work out, but he was not going to lose him. As he scrambled up the side of yet another building, he caught only a small glimpse of his adversary leaping onto another rooftop. He darted after him.
From building to building they leapt and climbed, capes flapping in the wind, sweat dripping from their faces. Both men where quick and athletic, well skilled in chases. One had gained his experience from formal league training, the other from the repeated practice of running from any law enforcer that dare try to catch him. They were two shadows dancing across the morning horizon; so similar, yet so different.
Lance's eyes followed his counterpart from roof to roof. He paid more attention to his pray than he did his own footing, but it did not hinder him. He was the dragon master. There were a few moments when he lost sight of his clone for a second or two, -when the man dipped beneath a rooftop or when he was running over a higher building- but it was never for long. He noticed every step. He noticed every inch he gained on the criminal.
However, the chase could not last forever. Cities are not designed with rooftop chases in mind, and before long, the fleeing Lance came to a building too high to jump on and too bare to climb up.
"Gotcha." Whispered the chaser, as he closed in on his target, but the target was not used to playing fair, and in a split second, he called his dragonite out to fly him up the building. The trainer darted up with magnificent speed.
"Oh no you don't!" Lance let out as he summoned his own dragonite, continuing to follow them. The chaser may have had a hard time on foot, but in the air, he had an advantage. His dragonite was not weighed down by a level cap, and as soon as his target came within sight again, he began to close in on him.
The target became nervous. His counterpart was right on his tail, and he was going to overtake him any minute now. He ordered his dragonite to dive down into the third level of a parking garage, but as they came to the sides, they found that the structure was barred off to prevent wild Pokémon from flying in. Dragonite quickly fixed the problem with a Hyper Beam, and after they squeezed through the hole, Lance jumped off of his Pokémon and began to run for the inside elevator.
The chaser came in through the hole that was made earlier and touched down right as the target reached the elevator door. It was locked.
Having cornered his counterpart, Lance followed his example and dismounted Dragonite. "You're trapped! You've got nowhere to run!"
The counterpart turned around to face himself, an arrogant smile still on his face. "Now, now. That's quite a rude way to talk to me."
"It's true!" Lance shot back, "Now, stop running, give me Giratina, and maybe we can come to an agreement that doesn't end with me kicking your butt."
The other Lance pointed at him. "Dragonite, Hyper Beam!"
Lance dodge rolled out the way of the attack, but as he looked up, he realized that it was not aimed at him. It was aimed at the roof near him. Several blocks of cement tumbled down from above, blocking the entry hole that was made earlier in the chase.
"You… You want us to be in here?" he asked, confused.
"Of course I want us to be in here." The other Lance answered, "And since I went through the trouble of bringing you here, you could at least talk to me a little more politely."
Lance's eyes widened. He was led here! How could he not have noticed that? The elevator was locked, and the entry was sealed. There was no easy way out. This was a trap!
"Now," his counterpart began again, "Maybe instead of fighting we could just discuss a few things?"
Lance leapt over to his dragonite, ready for anything. "There's nothing to discuss with you. I've heard plenty already."
"Plenty?" the other Lance asked, "You've heard a few stories from a group of kids. Don't you think a more credible source might be needed here?"
Lance watched his clone carefully. He was listening, but he was not letting his guard down.
"At least give me a chance to defend myself." He continued, "I suppose that the dex holders 'conveniently' left out my help in taking down the Masked Man of Team Rocket?"
Lance did not budge.
"…Or my help with the Arceus incident in Johto?"
"Oh, come on!" he pressed, "Why would I be out here trying to kill the dex holders? Giovanni seems to be doing a fine job of it as is! It would take some serious hate for me to follow them to another dimension just to attack them."
"You're not here to kill them." Lance answered, "You're a Pokémon rights extremist. You seek to kill off all of humanity that you deem guilty of harming Pokémon, and you'll use any means to do it. You're no better than that villainous team in Unova."
The other Lance shrugged. "Is that what they told you? Come on, now. Do I seem that unreasonable?"
"You had me chase you across every rooftop in Goldrenrod, and then locked us together in a parking garage by blowing up the ceiling. Yes."
He let out a huge grin. "Look, buddy. You're literally me. Take my word for it. I'm not here for Pokémon rights. I'm here to stop Team Rocket. Humanity could not mean more to me." That was a boldfaced lie.
Lance shook his head. "You're lying."
"How could you possibly accuse me of that?!"
He looked up at his dragonite and then back at the doppelganger that stood across from him. "Because I've felt it too."
"You said it yourself. I'm you. I've felt what you're feeling many times before, and I'm sure I'll feel it many times in the future. I love Pokémon, and I have a heart for them. Nothing angers me more than when humanity does something stupid to hurt Pokémon. That's why I got into Pokémon training. That's why I joined the G-Men. I am what I am to make a difference for the creatures I love."
His counterpart stood in awe. This was unexpected.
"Some days, I do wake up and just wish that all of those evil people in the world were gone," Lance continued, "but I know that it can't be that way. It's not my place to make that call."
The other Lance did not know what to say. His counterpart was not supposed to agree with him. "Then… Then surely you understand my plight! Humanity must be stopped!"
"No!" Lance defended, "I just told you it is not my place!"
"But we can make it our place!" his counterpart insisted, "This… This multiverse! This Mewtwo that Team Rocket has." He pulled Giratina's pokéball out. "This Giratina! We can use these things to make the world… the multiverse... a better place! We can be the ones who draw the line for how to treat Pokémon! We can be the justice we both desire!"
Lance shook his head. "But where does the line deserve to be drawn? We aren't qualified to answer that question! Good and evil are both too powerful for us to decide that we can make the distinction between them appropriately enough to judge the whole world… let alone the whole multiverse!" Lance began to leave his dragonite, and he walked closer to his counterpart. "I see it now. You really are me. You're just me under a different lens. We are perhaps more alike than any of the other counterparts that have met thus far. You just understand a single thought differently than I do. Perhaps there was even a single incident in your life that was different from mine to cause your altered outlook. If something in your life had been different, you may have become like me."
Lance was now within reaching distance of his counterpart. He touched the clone's hand with his own. "Come on. You're better than this. You're the hero."
The other dragon tamer was silent for a moment. The thoughts in his head were going everywhere. This encounter had given him more of a shake up than he thought it would. He felt… different. He understood the other him. "I'm… a reflection of you…"
Lance nodded. "A slightly different one, admittedly. A reflection of me with a single chip in the glass."
His counterpart looked him in the eyes for a few minutes. Both of them were thinking... Wondering, and they stood silent for an eternity, reflecting on the nature of good and evil, the differences between their universes, and the idea of what fate may have made them out to be.
"There is one problem with that idea, though…" the counterpart admitted.
"What's that?" Lance asked.
"I said I am a reflection of you, but what's to say you are not a reflection of me?" he yanked his hand away from Lance's, "Perhaps if something in your life had been different, you would be like me!"
"Wait!" the dragon tamer tried to defend, "You're missing my point!"
"No! You're missing my point! Perhaps the chip is not on my glass but on yours! You have the same ambitions as me but are too afraid to go one step further! You ruin the justice of your own world due to your inaction!"
"That's not true!" Lance shot back, "I've defended the justice here many times! You bring injustice about in your world with your overly extreme actions!"
"This discussion is over!" Lance screamed.
Then, at the same time, both trainers shouted, "DRAGONITE, HYPER BEAM!"
"So, yeah," Misty continued, "Although it probably goes against what you've been taught, it's totally okay to let prisoners out of their cells for bathroom breaks, and I can personally promise that I won't make a run for it. What do you say?"
The young water trainer grinned innocently as she peered out of her cell at the guards.
"Magneton." They responded in cold unison without so much as a movement.
She sighed. "I was afraid you might say that." The girl crossed her arms in anger, despite the annoying feeling of the chains rubbing across her chest. "Well, whatever the case is, you should know that Ash is definitely going to come for me and make you all pay."
"Ugh…" the girl almost gagged, "You're right. That felt terrible the second the words left my mouth. I can't do the damsel in distress thing. I'm really out of place here."
The electric Pokémon did not respond that time.
Misty slumped down a bit. "Plus, Ash does save the world on occasion, but he's still an idiot. It may take him forever to find me."
"Okay… I've given up on trying to understand what you're saying. You're a Pokémon. I'm only grasping bits of this conversation."
The magneton just floated there, staring at her.
"All I'm suggesting is that maybe Ash can get captured instead next time. I'd save his sorry butt no problem. I'm not good at waiting, though."
Misty looked at the floor. The only serious problem was that Ash still did not know where she was. In fact, she did not know where she was. When Ash, Red, and the others did come to save her, they would probably start by busting into the base in Viridian, the base that Giovanni had already told her they would not be going back to. She was kind of in trouble until they found out where she was… and she was kind of blind until she found out where she was.
The gym leader looked back up at the magneton guarding her cell. "Hey, you guys wouldn't by any chance be allowed to tell me where we are, would you?"
"Magneton." They answered.
Misty facepalmed herself. Right. They were Pokémon. She had just mentioned that she could not understand them. Where was the normal Team Rocket trio when you needed them? She could get the answer out of those three. They were idiots.
"Hey! Do you think you could get the old guards back in here?" the girl asked, "I would really appreciate the help."
"Magneton." That was a 'no.' Misty could understand that.
"Oh, come on." She pled, "I'll be a good prisoner."
"Oh! It's not that I don't like you. It's just that I think humans are probably more suited to guard humans, you know?"
She grunted a bit. "Come on. I don't have a problem with electric types just because I'm a water gym leader." She reach her hand out to pet one of them. "In fact, Pikachu and I-"
"MAGNETON!" the Pokémon screamed as they released a Thundershock on Misty's hand as soon as it protruded from the cell.
"OUCH!" she cried with pain, pulling her arm back in, "What the heck was that for?! I'm already chained to the wall, you idiots! I'm not going to escape!"
Oh! It was so obvious. They were simply trained to shock her if she tried to get out of the cell. Misty eyed the floor again, spotting the shorted out tracking button that Giovanni had dropped at her feet earlier. That gave her an idea!
Misty leaned down for a second and picked the tracker off of the floor. Grasping it in her right hand, she tried again.
"Hey, Magneton!" she began, "You up for a game of tag?"
She reached her hand out of the cell, and sure enough…
"MAGNETON!" the Pokémon screamed again, supercharging her right arm.
"AHHHH!-Ah-ah..." She moaned in pain, before bringing her arm back inside. She had black over a small portion of her hand, and her burns would probably have to be treated at some point, but she was used to this kind of stuff. She had grown accustomed to accidental blasts from Pikachu.
As the girl opened up her hand, she saw that the tracking button had a small red glow emanating from it again. Yes! It was back on! Misty fist pumped in the air for her genius plan. Giovanni had made one major mistake in his overconfident presentation! He had dropped freedom right at Misty's feet. Now the girl still didn't know where she was, but Ash did!
"Ha! Damsel in distress my butt!" she teased. She only hoped that Ash was smart enough to realize that the signal was back on again.
Ash's straw explored the last part of the very bottom portion of his cup before he finally stopped sipping his orange juice and slid the glass to the side of the table.
"So… again…" he reiterated, "I don't exactly know you very well, but you've got a darkrai and a better winning streak than me…" He barely managed this last part. "I need you."
Tobias still sat across from the young trainer, pushing his empty plate and breadcrumb covered napkin to the side of the table as well.
"Well…" the man began, "That's… quite a story, Ash."
"And it's one hundred percent true!"
"Pikachu!" Pikachu agreed.
Tobias nodded. He nodded carefully. "I suppose I've seen stranger things…"
The trainers just sat there. In a booth. Neither was sure what to do.
"Well, what do you say to helping me rescue Misty?" Ash insisted, "At the very least, you should be able to hold Mewtwo off with your Pokémon!"
"Well, what I'm confused about is that your story doesn't add up, Ash."
Tobias thought for a moment, tapping his fork against the table. "Well, even if your story about other dimensions, Team Rocket, and this… Mewtwo thing is true, then why are you here asking me for help? What about the friends that you kept mentioning?"
Ash looked off to the side. "They… they're jerks. They don't want to help."
"Well, why ever not?" the older trainer asked, still not buying it, "There are lives and even worlds at steak here. Surely, they would want to stop the kind of destruction you described to me."
Ash shook his head. "We… had a fight."
Tobias smiled and nodded again. "Your bruised chin."
Ash touched his chin slightly, wincing at the pain. "How'd you-"
"I've been around for a while." Tobias explained, "This gray hair isn't dyed. I've just got life experience. I know a right hook when I see one. He got you good."
"Red." Ash grunted in anger. How he had grown to hate that name. Classic Gary was just a notch above Red in Ash's mind.
"Well…" Tobias prodded, "What were you fighting about?"
Ash sighed. "Look, Tobias. Don't you think this is kind of unimportant right now? I mean, we've got a multiverse on the line here. Can't we discuss this-"
"No." he interrupted, "We're discussing this now. You can't expect me to come along and help you fight this big bad Pokémon if I don't know how well you play with others. Now, Red is the alternate you that you met, right?"
"Fine." Ash grunted. He was starting to clench his teeth. "Yes, Red is the other me."
"Well, what's his problem?"
Ash moaned. "He thinks he's better than me."
"Come on. Arrogance?" Tobias continued, "That's the whole problem? I know you can deal with arrogance. You're a trainer. You see it everyday. What's the real issue?"
Ash threw his hands up. "He- He just does! He thinks he's better than me!"
"So does every single trainer that challenges you to a match, Ash! They challenge you because they think they can beat you! What is the real issue?!"
"THAT HE IS!" Ash finally yelled in his face.
Tobias let things settle for a minute. He did not speak. Ash caught his breath.
"What do you mean 'he is?'"
"He is better than me!" Ash conceded again, "I mean, I was able to beat him in a Pokémon battle once, but he had a level cap disadvantage! He trains better than me! He plans better than me! He battles better than me! And he leads better than me! He is better than me!"
"Now, come on." Tobias chuckled, "Think about how illogical that is. You can't prove that."
"HE BECAME CHAMPION OF HIS REGION IN HIS FIRST YEAR OF TRAINING!" Ash continued.
Tobias paused again. "Okay… that is impressive."
"He has taken on stronger rockets than me and managed to take down their entire organization!"
"He's a champion, a hero, a trainer, and over all, basically an Ash 2.0! He's done everything that I have and more but better!"
Tobias nodded again. This was becoming more and more clear by the second. "Jealousy."
"What?!" Ash flipped out again, "Don't act like this was my fault! Red doesn't have to go shoving his accomplishments into other people's faces! He said that I don't deserve my pokédex!"
Tobias stood up now. "Oh, grow up, Ash!"
Ash stopped his rage for a moment and watched the man.
"So what if he's better than you? So what if he's being arrogant about it? It happens! It happens all the time! Like I said, I've been alive a long time, and I've learned there are a lot of people who are better than me! In my travels I managed to capture both a latios and a darkrai! That was two of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, but a month ago I learned that a kid a fraction of my age was able to K.O. both of them with completely ordinary Pokémon!"
Ash was stunned. He never thought of it like that. He never realized how that might look from Tobias' perspective.
"In fact," he continued, "I learned that the Sinnoh League champion can still bench my whole team after years and years of tedious training! Plenty more years than you, Ash! So what? That's life. You can't change it. What good does complaining about it do? Get a hold of your own emotions. Control yourself before you go on complaining about others."
"But…" Ash began again, "It hurt…"
Tobias sat back down and began to speak in a calmer voice. "Of course it hurt, Ash. It often does, but being the very best is not always possible, and it's not even always something worthy of praising. Striving to be the very best, and making sure you are the best you, -the one man you can control and can force to make a difference- that is the important part. Master the talents you were given, because complaining about the ones that someone else has will do absolutely nothing."
Ash looked back at Tobias again. You know, for a guy he hated during the Sinnoh League, he was quickly becoming pretty cool in Ash's book. He was right. There was no sense in complaining. He needed to focus on getting Misty back. He needed to apologize. "Well, are you still in to help us out?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world." Tobias answered.
"Pika Pika!" Pikachu cheered.
"Alright!" Said Ash, "Well, let's-" his sentence was cut short by a small beeping noise.
"Hm… What's that?" asked the older man.
Ash dug around in his pocket a bit and found Lance's pokétch still turned on. "Whoops. I forgot to give this back to Lance." He looked at the screen a bit. A new map was appearing. "Hey… What's going on?"
The parking garage was shaking. The very foundation of the building seemed about to collapse as the two titan dragon trainers duked it out inside. Every Pokémon from both trainers' arsenals was on the attack, except for Giratina, who the otherdimensional Lance kept hidden away in his pocket.
"Charizard! Stay away from the areodactyl, and go after the dragonair!"
"Tyranitar! Watch out for that red gyarados sneaking up on your rear!"
"Dragonite! Check your 9 o'clock!"
"Gyarados! Under the dragonite!"
The attacks went back and forth, over and over again. The walls of the garage were caving in, and both Lances were also taking to the battlefield themselves.
"The level cap is going to be your downfall!" warned one Lance as the other chased him through the battlefield, "That's why you're running after me, isn't it? You know you don't have a chance unless you take out the head!"
"Take out the head and the body will die!" the other Lance responded as he lunged at his counterpart, knocking both of them to the floor. They ripped, punched, and grappled with each other to no end.
"I'm going to take you down!" one called out, "You are not going to hurt innocent people any more!"
"What happened to the whole, 'you're a reflection' talk from earlier? You wouldn't kill your own reflection, would you?"
"No," he responded with a punch, "But maybe shattering the glass will be good enough!"
The doppleganger dodged away from the second punch and kicked his counterpart off of him with both legs. "Pity." He muttered, pointing straight at his enemy, "FIRE AT WILL, BOYS!"
Just then, Hyper Beams jutted out at Lance from nearly every angle, but he was very agile, and he somehow managed to jump out of the way of most of them, only one managing to burn his right leg. When he landed to the floor, covered with his cape, he fell on a limp. That clone was really willing to kill him!
"He is good." The counterpart muttered with a grin, "Oh, boys, nice job with the leg, but you missed a few spots!" he pointed again, but Lance tackled him in a long range jump with his good leg, landing straight on his chest.
"Try that again, and they take both of us out!" he threatened from atop the evil Lance's body.
His counterpart reached into his pocket and pulled out Giratina. "That's it. I've had enough of this. Gira-"
"Oh no you don't!" Lance cried, kicking the pokéball out of the man's grip. It rolled through the floor and over to the cement wall. Lance grabbed his counterpart by the face and pointed his head at the ongoing battles. "Look at what's going on." He continued, "Does this look like Pokémon rights are being displayed? They aren't just battling. They are battling viciously. They see that we're fighting for our lives, so they're doing the same! Is this what you want to do to get your human-free world?"
"You know nothing!" he screamed back, "Get off of me!" he tried to kick his counterpart off like last time, but Lance was too smart for that. He lowered his grip and fought back against the kick with hips.
"You are killing Pokémon!" he shouted, "You are the menace you claim to fight against!"
"If your Pokémon beat mine, they will kill them because of the way you train!"
"But my Pokémon are stronger. You cannot win the day, and once I get Giratina from you, I will see to it that you are locked in an International Prison until it rots around you for the crimes you've committed!"
The interdimensional Lance could not see because of the position he was in under his counterpart, but he could hear it. He could hear his Pokémon's cries for help as each one fainted to the ground in pain. The level cap was too big a handicap for them. His counterpart was right. "You… are stronger…"
"It's not because of the level cap." He responded, "It's because of how I think!"
Lance stopped struggling for a moment, and after a brief lull of silence, he began to laugh from underneath the other Lance. He laughed a sick and diabolical laugh as a thought came to his mind. It grew loud and nearly unbearable.
"What… is your problem?" his counterpart asked, too busy pinning him down to cover his ears.
"You are stronger, but I think stronger."
"What?" he asked, shuffling his arms around to notice that the Lance underneath him had his eyes closed and actually appeared to be in a very calm state.
"Flamethrower." He whispered.
Lance looked to his left and to his surprise, his own charizard appeared.
"Charizard. What are you doing?"
Flames began to seer in the beast's mouth as it eyed its master with dark intentions. "Charizard? Charizard, what are you-"
"Now." He whispered again.
Then, for the good Lance, the Lance common to this dimension, everything went black.
"Yep." Yellow confirmed, "Something definitely happened here."
The side of town that the dex holders had wandered to was certainly filled with chaos. Buildings were crushed. Telephone polls were down. Craters were in the middle of the street. It looked like World War 4 had played out in Goldenrod.
"I'm gonna go ahead and guess that your dad had something to do with this." Diamond suggested to Silver.
"Unfortunately… I think you're right."
"See," Gold pointed out to Charon, "This is why dimensional travel is bad. In fact, after this is over, we should assemble an entire interdimensional team of specialists dedicated to making sure that stuff like this doesn't happen in other dimensions!"
"That would be pretty cool." Crystal admitted, "But what would we call them?"
"Hmm…" Gold scratched his chin, "How about the PokéGuardians?"
"Come on," Platinum interrupted, rolling her eyes, "In what kind of bizarre fiction would that happen?"
"Guys, we should really find out who's behind this." Yellow pointed out, "It might help us track down Red and the others."
"Well, this whole place is filled with commotion." Charon reminded her, "Where exactly do you suggest that we start?"
Diamond spied a Chinese restaurant not far from their point. "Well, I know where I would start."
"Dia…" Platinum moaned. "Not again..."
"Wait!" Pearl interrupted, "He's right! Look!"
The teens drew their attention over to the shop to find an angry manager throwing three people out.
"I don't care if he dine and dashed!" the man yelled, "Your friend, your responsibility! This is my place, and I say you three are banned until further notice!"
"But it wasn't our fault!" Drew insisted.
"We love eating here!" May pled, "PLEASE don't ban us!"
"Nope. Sorry. Too late." the guy insisted, snapping a photo of the travelers. "This pic is going up on the Wall of Shame."
"Wait!" Max cried out in one more desperate attempt, "I'm only nine! You can't ban a nine year old!"
The man put his hands on his hips. "Kid, if I was willing to ban your twelve year old sister and her boyfriend, I'm willing to ban you!"
Max slumped over in near tears as the manager went back into his restaurant. "You all look ten to me anyway..."
"Oh my gosh…" Yellow began in awe, "It's… Sapphire..."
Gold raised his hand. "I call dibs before Ruby shows up."
Crystal slapped him in the back of the head.
Aero was just about to be over Pallet Town, and Red was ready to apologize, rally the troops, completely disregard Lance's orders, and save Ash and Misty. He breathed deeply as his trusty Pokémon continued to fly him forward. His only real worry was keeping Lance off of their tails. He had tried to call him earlier just to talk to him or convince him, but he never picked up.
Red grabbed his pokégear from his pocket. Maybe he should try again. After all, during their last conversation, Lance had been so hesitant about everything that part of Red thought that Lance might have actually wanted him to protest. The trainer took another deep breath with pure anxiety running through his veins as he slowly dialed the number that Lance had used to call him earlier.
He answered! Red was shocked. This meant he had to go through with his speech. "Uhh… Hey, Lance. It's Red."
Lance was breathing deeply. "Red… Yeah, what's up?"
"Are you okay? You sound like you're breathing a bit hard. If you're in the middle of something, I can call back later!"
"No… No…" he assured, "I'm fine. I did just have one heck of a battle, though. I nearly died!"
"Seriously?" Red asked in a concerned tone, "Are you okay? Who was it?"
"Yeah… Yeah…" he huffed, "I'm fine. I'll tell you all about it once I catch my breath…"
"Okay…" Red began again, "Well, anyway, I needed to talk to you about the plan."
"Be straight with me. You were kind of forced into promoting your HQ's plan of helping the G-Men defeat Mewtwo and just leaving Ash and Misty to be rescued, right?"
"Yeah… forget about it." Lance said.
"Forget about it." He repeated, "We… In light of recent events, we can't just leave those two to die… We've got to go save them."
"Seriously?!" Red could not believe this. It was easier to talk him into the whole thing than he had hoped. There was nothing to worry about!
"Seriously." He confirmed, "But it's totally illegal. So, we'll just be leading our normal rag-tag group to save them. Sound good?"
Red smiled. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
"Great!" Lance cheered, "Then where can I meet you?"
"Professor Oak's Lab." He confirmed, "I'll see you there!"
And with that, Red ended the call, and touched down on Pallet. Things were working out so far! They were going to do this! They would bring the fight to Giovanni, and Red would not fail twice!
Lance hung up the pokégear. "Too easy."
His counterpart began to stir. He shook his head and mumbled something unintelligible. His mouth was stuffed shut with a cloth.
"MMHM… MHHMMM!" shouted the man as his eyes darted open and he looked around the room quickly. He was tied to a chair. He could not speak. His Pokémon were gone!
"Hehehe…" his counterpart laughed, "Look who finally woke up."
"MMHMM!" Lance grunted, struggling to turn his head at the adversary. His counterpart. His evil counterpart. He was dressed in Lance's normal clothes, complete with his G-Man equipment and Pokégear.
"That's kind of funny actually. You weren't out as long as I thought you would be."
Lance glared at the man. He could not believe how horrible he was in some other dimension. But while pondering this, he noticed something strange. His counterpart had a full belt of pokéballs. Red and white pokéballs. They were not see-through.
"MMHMMSHM!" he grunted, motioning to the man's belt with his head.
"Oh, those?" he chuckled, "Yours. It would seem as though there is a small ability I have that you don't. Hypnosis. I can brain wash dragons."
"Oh, yeah, good thing I used it too. Your charizard put you out cold. I'm sure these others will come in handy too. After all, I've really grown to hate the level cap."
Lance felt a strong chill come over his body. It was not nerves. There was something behind him. It was something dark, something evil. Since he could not move enough to see it, he was left to only imagine the horror as his counterpart laughed.
"Look, buddy. I feel for you. Like we discussed, you're basically me. You just suck at it. I couldn't find it in me to kill you… Well, not yet anyway."
Lance's eyes widened as Giratina flew over his head and positioned himself next to the other Lance. The man returned his dragon to its pokéball.
"MMHMMMHM?" he asked.
His counterpart did not really respond to this one, he just leaned forward and kicked the chair Lance was tied to over on its back… but it never landed. No, something was wrong, Lance just fell with the chair. He fell into an endless black void of nothing. It was almost like one of those falling dreams, except it was really happening. Darkness engulfed him in his perpetual fall as his own small world left him behind. His counterpart had pushed him into a portal.
"Have fun in the Distortion World!" he called, "One way in! No way out! Now I'll know where to find you if I need you!"
The portal closed, and so did Lance's eyes. He was silent. He was motionless. He had failed.
Happy Birthday, Crisis on Two PokéWorlds! I referenced you as a present! Can my clever viewers find the reference? We shall see. However, in the mean time, I'd just like to congratulate PokeRescue18 on 3 very successful years! Of course, I just found out you existed around my story's 7th round, but still. I hope you enjoy all of the praise, reviews, favorites, and follows you have gotten!
As for my story, it would seem as though things have gotten a bit more complicated. Ash is back in the game, along with Tobias. Professor Oak has come up with a solution to the level cap problem. Misty brought Lance's tracker back on line so the team can find Giovanni again. And the other dex holders have just met up with May, Max, and Drew. However, anime Lance was unable to conquer manga Lance due to his psychic abilities, and the manga version plans on masquerading as his counterpart while the real deal is trapped in the Distortion World. How could this all end? Of course, I know the answer, but I don't post spoilers on my updates. That, and I'm tired now. This round took way too long to write. The more segmented the characters get, the harder it is to pull a round together. I'm gonna be relieved when everyone starts getting back into groups again. Thanks everyone! Peace!