Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon. The characters and other elements of this story are the copyrighted property of Pokémon or its affiliates and licensors. This fan fiction is purely for enjoyment and no desire of profit comes out of it.

Chapter 18

Version: 2 (February 2015)

The Other Aura

Spiritomb was aware of his existence, but his world ended with that. His other senses did him no good. Perhaps it was because he couldn't use them. Perhaps they weren't any good in his present state. He didn't know. It was on the feeling of self-awareness that he had thrived for centuries. He had almost forgotten his old life.

Even the state of dormancy couldn't fully deprive him of his memories. His memories were associated with strong emotions, and none of them were positive. Being a Ghost and Dark type, these emotions and memories were thoroughly ingrained into his soul. He viewed it as a source of power. Of all these negative emotions, anger and hate were the most dominant. He was angry at the world. He hated its inhabitants. He loathed humans and their beloved Pokémon. These emotions translated to malevolence, and he spread despair.

Spiritomb was now aware of his existence. The knowledge that he was now aware caused him confusion. What happened to him before this? His memory seemed to be blank for a short amount of time. He then remembered. He was free of this accursed tower for a short while. He was released by another aura guardian. Spiritomb concluded that the Aura Guardian's Pikachu must've defeated him and caused him to lose consciousness. He must've just woken up.

Anger bubbled up inside him at the thought of defeat. That was the second time he was defeated by an Aura Guardian with a Pikachu. He was humiliated again by a little mouse! He would not let this happen again.

Spiritomb was dismayed to realize that he couldn't see or hear anything. He concluded that he was sealed again. His hatred intensified at that thought.

There was something different, however, about his present condition. Although his senses were non-responsive, this seal felt weaker. Spiritomb realized with a start that he could now hear echoes –voices, from his surroundings. The voices were distant, and didn't seem to come from a particular direction. But he definitely wasn't imagining them. He could hear voices from the outside world.

If the voices from the outside world could reach him within this seal, he supposed that it meant that his power could be extended outside as well. This seal was much weaker than the previous one, and hence he could easily break out. Spiritomb felt excited at the thought. The foolhardy guardian must not be very skilled with aura. He could now escape again. And if he ever came face to face with that boy again, both he and his Pikachu would pay dearly.

Spiritomb concentrated as he gathered his power. His best chance was to break the barrier holding him in one fell swoop. He felt his anger at the human race burn, and his powers amplify from his anger. He recalled old memories of bitterness and resentment. He recalled his life. He recalled humanity's fear and prejudice against him. He remembered their preferential treatment to other Pokémon. He was an evil being to them, simply because of the essence of his being.

Their hate and fear caused changes in him. He nurtured jealousy towards other Pokémon. He became what the humans feared he was.

Remembering his life and embracing the dark emotions in his memories, Spiritomb built up his power. When he stored enough of it, he released it forcefully to his surroundings. His world exploded to light.

The Solaceon town Pokémon Centre was bustling with activity in the morning. Everywhere you look, you could find trainers getting ready to head out for the day. Nurse joy and her assistant Chansey could be seen calling each trainer and returning the Pokémon entrusted to her care. Near an array of Pokémon PCs we find Dawn, Brock, Ritchie and Anabel waiting for Ash to join them. They had made their way to the Pokémon centre from the forest clearing they had trained in the morning. Ash had handed Spiritomb to Nurse Joy's care and left the group to make a transfer from Oak Laboratories.

"It's too bad Charizard had to leave so soon." Dawn commented. "I thought he'd stay behind to help Chimchar for a while."

"Well, he had to make room for the trade, so he didn't have much of a choice." Ritchie told her. "He already had ten Pokémon, after all."

"I know." Dawn sighed. "I just wish he could've stayed a bit longer. Chimchar looked down ever since Ash told him Charizard was gonna leave for a while."

Indeed, the little fire chimp was in low spirits ever since he learned that Charizard would leave to Charicific valley earlier that morning. It was clear that the little fire type viewed Charizard as an older brother. The group was amazed at how quickly the bond had formed. Dawn felt slightly guilty that Charizard had to leave for the trade to occur.

"He'll be back soon, I think." Anabel opined. "He promised to teach Chimchar 'some of his tricks' when he gets back. Chimchar was in a much better mood after that."

"Well, that's a relief." Dawn smiled. She wanted to help the fire type, but there was little she could do. Knowing that Charizard would help Chimchar lessened her worries.

Ritchie wondered if he was ever going to get used to people understanding Pokéspeech. It had become a daily occurrence since he joined up with Ash. Both Ash and Anabel could understand Pokémon, and Ritchie had to admit, he was a little jealous of their ability. He had dreamed of speaking with Pokémon since childhood, and yet to them it's the easiest thing in the world.

"Pi." Sparky nuzzled Ritchie's cheeks. "Pikapi Chu Pikachu!"

"You're right. We don't need words do we?" Ritchie grinned at his companion. True enough, language has never been much of a barrier to him and his Pokémon. As for Sparky, his best friend could practically read his mind. Sparky could easily pick up Ritchie's thoughts, and Ritchie almost always understood what Sparky means.

"No you don't." Lita spoke up from behind him. Ritchie jumped and turned around, startled. Lita snickered at his reaction.

"Yeah, yeah, very funny." Ritchie rolled his eyes. Lita would occasionally pull a prank on him, since he was the only one she could trick. Ash and Anabel could sense her presence, and Brock was far too experienced in strange occurrences to let anything startle him. Lita had a soft spot for Dawn, so that left him.

"Sorry, sorry." Lita got her laughing fit under control. "I couldn't resist."

That's another thing I have to get used to. Ritchie thought, shaking his head in exasperation. A walking, talking legendary eon dragoness in disguise.

"You'll get used to it eventually." Brock said, as if reading his mind. "She likes to startle people occasionally."

"It's fun." Latias shrugged.

"So how does trading work?" Dawn asked the more experienced trainers. She had been wondering what it involved for some time now. She was understandably new to the concept.

"Well, the first part is two trainers coming to a mutual understanding about the trade. You each choose which Pokémon you're gonna trade. After that, place the Pokéballs in a Trading Machine and perform the Trade." Brock explained.

"Trading Machine?" Dawn enquired.

"See that machine over there?" Brock asked, pointing to a computer placed in a corner of the centre. It had two spherical depressions on either side, fitting the shape of a Pokéball. It looked different from the normal PCs near them. "That's called a Trading Machine. You place the Pokéballs in their place and the computer will do the swap."

"Why can't we just exchange the Pokémon?" Dawn asked.

"I've heard that it's because a Pokéball is unique to a Pokémon. All Pokéballs are locked to a particular trainer after you buy them, so you'll have to transfer a Pokémon and all the related data between your Pokéball and Ash's Pokéball." Anabel explained.

"What do you mean? I thought Pokéballs are all the same."

"Not exactly. You see Dawn, the Pokéball stores some data along with the Pokémon. It'll have the Trainer ID of the trainer it belongs to, and some genetic info that helps to identify the exact Pokémon from its species." Ritchie elaborated. "It's all there for security."

"Huh, these things are complicated." Dawn gazed at the red and white ball in her hand. "What about Chimchar's Pokéball? Didn't Paul just give it to Ash?"

"I think Ash contacted Professor Oak and he did something to transfer the ownership of the ball to Ash." Brock said.

"You ready Dawn?" A familiar voice rang out. They saw Ash waving at them from the trading machine. He too, had a Pokéball ready in his hand.

Dawn and the others hurried over to the Trading Machine. Dawn had been pondering the identity of the mystery Pokémon for quite a while. She was only familiar with some Pokémon in Sinnoh, so she knew she was probably going to be surprised.

As they reached the Trading Machine, Ash hurled his Pokéball upward. It released a purple monkey-like Pokémon with a beige coloured face. The end of its tail resembled a hand with three fingers. This Pokémon was unlike any Dawn had seen before. She opened her Pokédex to see what it said.

"Aipom, the Long Tail Pokémon. Aipom is able to climb and hang from branches using its powerful tail. Aipom live atop tall trees." The Pokédex told her.

"Aipom, huh?" Dawn squatted on the floor, patting Aipom on her head.

"Aipa!" Aipom enjoyed the affection for a moment. Then she looked at Ash, particularly his new hat. In one jump, she was on top of Ash's head. In another, she had leaped away with Ash's hat.

Or she would've, if Ash hadn't caught hold of the hat mid-jump.

"Not this time!" Ash exclaimed, silently thanking his improved reflexes. Aipom hung upside down, her tail still holding the hat.

'Nice catch!' Aipom praised, swinging with her tail still grabbing the hat. She then used the momentum of the swing to jump back to Ash's head. 'So how are ya?'

"I'm fine Aipom! Sorry I couldn't call you back earlier." Ash told her. Now that he had brought Aipom over, he felt a lump rise in his throat. He really enjoyed training her. But he could tell that Aipom was meant to be a performer just from the way she battled.

He wondered if Aipom would be okay with the trade. He knew she was pretty attached to him, so this isn't going to be easy for either of them.

"Hey, Aipom, what do you think about contests?" Ash asked.

'I love 'em!' Aipom exclaimed, jumping again to perform a mid-air somersault. She landed and bowed, earning a small applause.

"She's quite the performer." Anabel grinned. "I think you two would be a perfect match, Dawn!"

Dawn took this as her cue. "Aipom, my name's Dawn." She introduced herself. "I'm a Pokémon Coordinator."

'Oooh... Like May?' Aipom enquired, bouncing on her feet.

"Yup." Ash nodded.

Aipom stopped her bouncing and stared at her trainer.

"...What?" Ash became a bit unnerved.

'Did you just understand me?' Aipom asked, a bit disbelievingly. She had written off Ash's earlier responses as coincidences.

Ash sweat dropped. He had to explain this to every Pokémon he switched from Professor Oak. "Yeah I did. Long story." Ash said tiredly. After all, how many times can one repeat the same story?

'Oookay then.' Aipom dismissed it. Stranger things happen when one travels with Ash.

What was that all about? Dawn wondered. She directed her attention back to Aipom. "Anyway, Ash told me you've always liked contests, and I'm always participating in them. But you see Aipom, one of my Pokémon, Buizel," Dawn released the said Pokemon from his Pokeball "is the type that loves to battle. Isn't that right, Buizel?"

'Damn straight.' Buizel nodded, folding his arms. He watched Aipom curiously. So this was the Pokemon Ash was talking about.

"So I was wondering if you'd like to enter contests with me, Aipom? Buizel is a battler, and we think you're a performer. So you can train under me and Buizel can train under Ash. Is that okay with you?" Dawn asked. She was feeling nervous. Would Aipom accept her as her trainer?

Aipom looked undecided. On one hand, she loved contests. That's how she became part of Ash's team in the first place. But she liked Ash as a trainer, and she didn't know much about Dawn. This was going to be tough.

Ash squatted down next to Dawn. "I know it's a tough choice, Aipom." Ash said with a note of sadness in his voice. "We've been through a lot, and I'm really lucky to have you as my Pokémon. But I also want what's best for you. You know what that is better than I do. Dawn's a really gifted coordinator, and I know you'll do well with her. Even if you're training with her, we can still see each other! We're all travelling together after all."

Aipom looked more reassured at Ash's words. But still, she had a small doubt. 'What if it doesn't work out?' She asked in a small voice, contrasting her usual exuberant personality.

"If it doesn't work out, I think we can trade back. Right, Dawn?" Ash asked the blue haired coordinator.

"Yeah, we can. But I'm sure we'll become fast friends!" Dawn winked. "No need to worry!"

Aipom considered that for a second and nodded. Buizel fist pumped. He liked Dawn, but he didn't exactly have much love for performances.

Ash nodded, getting up. "Okay Aipom, than its settled." He turned to face Dawn. "Let's trade!"

After recalling Aipom and Buizel to their respective Pokéballs, they placed them in the Trading Machine. Nurse Joy hurried over to them and initiated the trade. In a few seconds, the process was complete.

"Ash, your Spiritomb is fully healed now." Nurse Joy informed the trainer. "Please follow me."

The group followed Nurse Joy to her desk. She retrieved Spiritomb's Pokéball from the Healing Machine and handed it to Ash. "Now, be careful. Spiritomb are extremely rare, and I've heard it's very tough to raise them." The Nurse said. "In fact, I don't know of anyone having trained a Spiritomb in recent years other than the Sinnoh Champion, Cynthia."

"We'll be careful Nurse Joy." Ash grinned. He replaced Spiritomb's Pokéball and the group left the Centre.

When they reached a clearing near the Solaceon Ruins, they were greeted by Lucario, who had chosen to stay behind and train while they went to the centre. The group released their Pokémon for a brief training session. Dawn's contest was coming up soon and Ash had to train some of the Pokémon he had brought back from the Oak Labs.

Ash held Spiritomb's Pokéball in his hand. He debated on the safety of calling Spiritomb while everyone else were present. Ash had a feeling that Spiritomb wouldn't accept him as his trainer anytime soon. He had felt the hatred Spiritomb had directed towards him during the battle. He hoped he would find a way to reach out to Spiritomb's heart.

Almost all of his friends were rather vehement in expressing their disagreement to Ash's choice. They did not quite see things his way, and the behaviour of Spiritomb after being released hardly helped things. He admitted that what he did was irresponsible. But he still didn't think Spiritomb deserved to be locked up for eternity.

"Umm... Ash, you're not going to call Spiritomb, are you?" Dawn asked nervously.

"I don't know." Ash admitted, frowning. "I have to get it over with at some point."

"I think it'd be better to take more precautions before calling him out." Brock advised.

Ash considered. Brock had a point. He couldn't risk everyone's safety again. Suddenly, his eyes widened. He could feel a build up of power inside the Pokéball. This has never happened before!

"Ash, Spiritomb's trying to escape!" Lita warned suddenly, having picked up the disturbance inside the Pokéball. Lucario rushed to Ash's side and hit the Pokeball with force causing it to fly out of Ash's hand.

The ball snapped open mid-flight, releasing its inhabitant in the process.

"-tomb!" As he materialized, Spiritomb gave a cry of triumph. It had succeeded in breaking out of its confinement.

Dawn abruptly took a step back, shocked. "W-What happened?" She questioned.

"He was going to blast open the Pokéball. I hit the device so that Spiritomb was released in the proper fashion. Otherwise the Pokéball would've been destroyed and Spiritomb would be free." Lucario informed them.

Spiritomb's eyes locked with Ash. 'Perfect!' He exclaimed. 'You'll pay, Aura guardian!' He charged a Shadow Ball and released it.

Lucario stood protectively in front of Ash. He charged an Aura Sphere and fired it at the incoming Shadow Ball. The two attacks resulted in a miniature explosion mid-way.

Spiritomb watched the smoke clear with annoyance. I'll have to eliminate that Pokémon first. He decided. As the smoke cleared he saw that two more Pokémon had joined Lucario in protecting the guardian. He immediately recognized them. That accursed Pikachu and the Legendary Latias.

"Move, or I'll annihilate you all!" Spiritomb threatened. He had to take care of the Guardian first. The Pokémon would be easier to defeat after that.

His opponents, however, were not easily intimidated. They glared right back at him, not moving an inch.

'How about... No!' Pikachu said, taking a step forward. 'I beat you once, I can do it again. And these guys,' he gestured Latias and Lucario, 'are way stronger than me.' Pikachu cringed inwardly at his bluff. They're never going to let him hear the end of it. True, maybe Lucario was stronger than him, but Latias definitely wasn't. He wasn't about to say so to Spiritomb, however.

'I will not lose again!' Spiritomb declared, though his words didn't have the usual conviction. A little doubt had crept into his voice.

'Come on, you really want to take us all on?' Pikachu took a step forward, his cheek sparking. Spiritomb involuntarily backed away. 'You want to fight me, an Aura Guardian's Lucario and a Guardian Legendary?'

Spiritomb began to sweat. He was no fool. A Lucario trained by an Aura Guardian is sure to be strong, and one look at this particular Lucario told him it had seen many wars. Directing his attention towards Latias, he saw the expression on her face. He remembered an identical expression on another Latias before she had crushed him between two psychically levitating boulders. Repeatedly. She looked positively murderous. Then there was Pikachu. He didn't feel that confident in his chances now that he was faced with the electric rodent.

'If you're still not convinced, look around you.' Pikachu said with a feral grin.

Looking around, Spiritomb noticed something he should have realized sooner if he wasn't worried about the Guardian and his three Pokémon.

He was surrounded.

Around him stood a Metagross, Steelix, Charizard and a Tyrannitar, looking every bit as menacing as the ones he had encountered in his past. Surrounding them and forming a wider circle, he saw more Pokémon than he could care to count at the moment.

Spiritomb was a prideful Pokémon. But he was not absurdly foolish.

'I will stand down.' Spiritomb said in a strained voice. For now. He added in his mind.

Ash and Anabel let out a sigh of relief at the proclamation. Brock and Dawn also relaxed upon realizing that the crisis was averted.

Well, I'm glad nobody got hurt. Ash thought. Still, I wonder why Spiritomb is acting like this...

"Spiritomb, why are you doing this?" Ash asked. "I only freed you so that you wouldn't have to suffer any more!"

Spiritomb glared at the Aura Guardian. 'You expect me to believe that? I know your kind too well, Aura Guardian! You freed me for your benefit alone! You simply want to gain control of my powers!'

"That's not true!" Ash shouted. "I never intended to capture you!"

'I will never submit to you!' roared Spiritomb.

"I told you," Ash sighed, "I don't want to control you! You can go if you promise me never to hurt humans again."

"No!" Said Lucario. "You cannot trust him, Ash!"

The others nodded in agreement. After everything Spiritomb had put them through, how could they possibly believe anything that Spiritomb says?

'So I am your prisoner?' Spiritomb growled. 'I will not accept this!'

'I'm sorry it has to be this way,' Pikachu sighed 'but you have no choice in the matter.'

Lucario and Latias nodded in agreement. Nothing Spiritomb had done so far suggested that he had learnt his lesson.

Ash was unsure about this. Forcing Spiritomb to obey would only cause his hatred to increase. However, releasing him would lead to more trouble. His friends, however seemed to be sure that this was the best course of action. Ash decided to trust in their judgement.

Spiritomb was in an inner conflict. His rage warred against reason. On one hand, he couldn't stand the thought of being used by humans, especially an Aura Guardian. On the other hand, he knew he didn't have much of a choice in the matter. He knew that Pikachu was stronger than him. He still remembered the strength of that last attack clearly. He did not look forward to facing it again. Even though Latias was a psychic type, he knew better than anyone not to underestimate her. Then there was that Lucario. And all the other Pokémon that surrounded him.

'What do you want from me?' Spiritomb gritted out.

"Why are you acting like this?" Ash asked "Why are you hurting other humans and Pokémon?"

Memories of his life filled Spiritomb's mind. He was reminded of the hatred humanity had shown him. He was simply paying them back in kind. 'Humans are despicable creatures. Pokémon who obey them are worse.'

Latias sensed dark emotions building around Spiritomb. This conversation seemed to be making Spiritomb angrier. She eyed Lucario and Pikachu. They caught her eye and gave her a slight nod.

'Ash, leave this guy to us.' Pikachu said confidently. 'We'll deal with him.' Latias and Lucario nodded.

Spiritomb watched Pikachu suspiciously. What's that little rodent up to? He wondered. He prepared to defend himself in case they decided to attack him.

Ash recognised that look on Pikachu's face. It meant that Pikachu had set his mind to something. Spiritomb didn't seem to be willing to listen to him. Pikachu had always been good at appeasing other Pokémon. So ash decided to put his faith in his best friend.

"Alright, Pikachu." Ash nodded. "I'll leave it to you three."

Pikachu looked at Spiritomb. 'Follow me.' He said and darted to another corner of the training ground. Lucario and Latias eyed Spiritomb expectantly. Spiritomb debated his options. He decided that it couldn't hurt to follow Pikachu but it could very well hurt if he didn't. He reluctantly followed the electric rodent, Lucario and Latias trailing behind him.

"I hope they'll be alright." Ash muttered.

"Don't worry. They will be." Brock reassured him. "This is Pikachu we're talking about. He knows what he's doing."

"What do you think they're up to, Sparky?" Ritchie asked his little companion.

Sparky shrugged. 'Beats me! I hope whatever they have planned doesn't involve violence.' He said with a grin that was not at all sincere.

Now that Spiritomb was at a safe distance, all of the Pokémon in the clearing relaxed. They had recognised the danger of Spiritomb's presence and acted without the prompting of their trainers. Anabel smiled at their protectiveness and coordination.

"Well, I guess we should get some training done." Ash opined.

"Do you think we could have a battle? I need to get ready for the next contest and I need to be in sync with Aipom before that." Dawn asked.

"Sure thing!" Ash exclaimed. "Let's have a double battle!"

"Hey Ash! I think we can have an aerial battle between Rose and your Swellow" Ritchie suggested.

"Great idea, Ritchie!" Ash grinned. "You up for it, Swellow?" He asked, directing his attention towards the Hoenn flying type.

'Of course I am!' Swellow eyed his opponent determinedly. 'I'll beat you, hands down!'

'You can try!' Rose scoffed. She flapped her wings and took to the sky. Ash's Swellow followed after her.

With so many Pokémon, things are sure to get interesting. Anabel thought to herself.

Ash was struck with inspiration upon noticing the psychic Pokémon gathered around Anabel. "Hey Anabel? Do you think you could let my Noctowl train with your Pokémon?"

Anabel eyed Ash's Noctowl. "A shiny Pokémon, huh?" She muttered. She gave a smile. "It's okay with me! Is it okay with you guys?" She asked, directing her attention towards her Pokémon.

'Let's see what the birdie can do.' Metagross said gruffly. Espeon and Alakazam nodded in agreement. Ash's Noctowl tilted his head thoughtfully and flew over to the psychic Pokémon.

"Bayleef, Scyther, why don't you guys train together?" Ash suggested. Bayleef seemed a little put off that Ash wasn't going to train her personally. She nodded towards Scyther and moved to another part of the training field. Scyther followed suit.

"So he's using Chimchar and Buizel, huh?" Dawn muttered to herself, eyeing the Pokémon that remained. "In that case, I'll go with Pachirisu and Aipom." The suited her just fine. Piplup and Buneary were relatively more experienced and she was meaning to train Pachirisu anyway. "Piplup, Buneary, do you think you guys can train together?"

"Piplup, Pip!" Piplup patted his chest in a show of confidence.

"Bun! Buneary!" Buneary exclaimed, and began hopping off. Not to be outdone, Piplup hurriedly followed her.

"Boy, that's a lot of Pokémon!" Brock said to himself, making a mental count of the different species present. He was going to have to start his work soon if the food was to be ready by lunchtime. "You guys can do what you want." Brock said, smiling at his Pokémon. Stantler slowly walked over to the grassy land nearby. Steelix coiled up and prepared for a nap. Bonsly began to wonder off. Croagunk just kept his gaze fixed on Brock.

"I guess you just want to stand there." Brock said, sweat dropping. He turned his attention towards his immediate concern. Preparing lunch for his friends and their twenty six Pokémon.

Sparky eyed Zippo and Cruz. 'Let's go wild!' He said, grinning ear to ear. Zippo let out a stream of fire through his nose and Cruz smashed his hands together in anticipation.

Ritchie smiled at their enthusiasm. "Let's work on some of your moves, Happy." Ritchie told his Butterfree.

Ash and Dawn now stood facing each other at the opposing ends of the makeshift battlefield. Ash decided to that this was a great opportunity to train Chimchar and get acquainted with Buizel's battle style. He was also yet to see what Dawn's Pachirisu can do, as Dawn had not used him in contests before.

"Alright, Dawn! Ready when you are!" Said Ash.

"Let's do this Aipom, Pachirisu!" Dawn met Ash's gaze. "We're ready!"

By an unspoken agreement, Dawn made the first move.

"Aipom, use Swift! Pachirisu, use Spark on Buizel!"

Aipom jumped and swept her now glowing tail in a wide arc. Multiple star shaped packets of energy formed around her and began to move towards their targets. Pachirisu surrounded himself with electricity and rushed to tackle the sea weasel Pokémon.

"Buizel, use Sonic Boom to stop Pachirisu! Chimchar, use your Flamethrower to block that Swift!" Ash couldn't risk underestimating Pachirisu's attack. Even though the damage from the attack itself was low, the possible paralysis that it could induce made it formidable.

Buizel's sonic boom quickly closed the between himself and Pachirisu. The force of the attack sent Pachirisu tumbling back and hence cancelling the Spark attack. At the same time, Chimchar spat out a flamethrower, aiming to block the stars of energy showering on them. A few of them hit, but he was able to successfully block most of them.

"Now, Chimchar, use Flame Wheel on Aipom! Buizel, use Blizzard on Pachirisu!" Ash ordered, taking advantage of his opponent's vulnerable positions.

Chimchar's Flame Wheel hit Aipom before she could stabilise herself from the jump. Besides blizzard Pachirisu before he could recover from the force of Buizel last attack.

Dawn bit her lip. "This is bad." Dawn muttered. This happened in almost all of her battles with Ash. Ash would soon overwhelm her with attacks and she would be unable to come up with sufficient counters. She was determined not to fall for that again. Aipom and Pachirisu mirrored their trainer's determination and got up determinedly.

"Aipom, Pachirisu, close in!" Dawn instructed. She knew that getting close was dangerous, but it was essential for her plan.

"What's she up to?" Ash wondered, knowing that this could very well be a trap. "Heads up, Chimchar and Buizel!"

Chimchar and Buizel got ready to defend themselves. Aipom and Pachirisu rushed towards their opponents, believing their trainer.

"Aipom, jump! Pachirisu, Discharge!"

Aipom leaped over his opponents, understanding her trainer's plan. Pachirisu fired his Discharge as soon as he got within range of his attack.

Ash was caught off guard by Dawn's move. For a split second, he debated who to focus his attention on. That hesitation, however, worked to the advantage of his opponents. Discharge landed on Chimchar and Buizel, momentarily paralysing them. Dawn took from full advantage of this and ordered her next move.

"Aipom, use Focus Punch on Chimchar!"

Aipom swung her tail with force, charging a focus punch. The attack hit Chimchar from behind, causing him to topple.

"Snap out of it, Buizel!" Ash urged, knowing that Buizel was paralysed. Buizel tried to shake himself out of the paralysis, but Dawn acted before he could avoid the next attack.

"Pachirisu, use Sweet Kiss!" Dawn exclaimed.

Pachirisu, taking advantage of his proximity to Buizel, immediately launched a Sweet Kiss on his paralysed opponent. As soon as the attack hit, Buizel began to sway on his feet, disoriented by the confusing effect of sweet kiss.

"Chimchar, use Flamethrower on Aipom!" Ash ordered. "Buizel, use sonic boom on Pachirisu!"

Chimchar rose to his feet and blasted Aipom with a Flamethrower at close range. Upon hearing Ash's command, Buizel launched a Sonic Boom but the attack did not land anywhere near his target.

Ash was impressed with Dawn's strategy. "I won't fall for that again." He muttered.

A small distance away, Scyther and Bayleef were engaged in their own little spar. Bayleef was shooting a torrent of Razor Leaves at Scyther, but Scyther was simply too fast to be hit by them.

This new guy's pretty good. Bayleef thought to herself. But I'm better.

Bayleef let her natural aroma drift to the wind. Without recognising the danger, Scyther inhaled the Sweet Scent. Bayleef continued her Razor Leaf attack. It was only when the leaves began to hit him that Scyther realised the danger of the aroma. He immediately flew up to get out of the range of the Razor Leaf attack.

I have to be careful. Scyther thought to himself. If Bayleef is anywhere near the level of some of his other Pokémon, I'll have to give this battle everything I've got.

Scyther extended his scythes and spun around. The Vacuum Wave attack sped towards Bayleef and hit her.

Bayleef grumbled, silently cursing Scyther's ability to fly. As most of her attacks were close range, she had no choice but to fire off Razor Leaves. She was quickly getting tired of it.

What would Ash tell me to do? Bayleef wondered. Her gaze landed on a few rocks jutting out of the uneven land. She grinned to herself. Bingo!

Bayleef extended her vines and grabbed hold of a nearby rock. Scyther watched on wearily, unsure of what Bayleef was up to. His eyes bugged out as he watched the grass type plough out the rock.

'Catch!' Bayleef shouted, and threw the rock at Scyther. Scyther immediately dodged it, sighing in relief.

'Too slow!' he taunted. He began to sweat upon seeing multiple rocks and some small boulders flying towards him. You've got to be kidding me.

Scyther was good at moving at high speeds. But he specialized in moving very short distances with his speed, just enough to dodge an attack. This worked just fine with attacks that had a low area of effect, like Razor Leaf. But he was now faced with several large rocks. He could not completely get out of a rock's path with small bursts of speed. As the rocks were unevenly shaped, he would be unable to predict how much he had to move until he saw the rock. If he moved too much, he would risk falling victim to another rock. Thus he was unable to avoid all of the rocks that Bayleef was hurling at him.

Scyther narrowed his eyes, ignoring his wounds for a moment and concentrating on the incoming barrage. As soon as he saw an opening, he dashed towards Bayleef with a Quick Attack. He zeroed in on his opponent and slashed her with force.

Bayleef gave a cry of pain, but she wasted no time in using the opportunity presented to her. She extended her vines and grabbed hold of Scyther, binding him to place.

'Your speed won't do any good now!' Bayleef said triumphantly. Scyther began thrashing violently to escape from the Vine Whip, but Bayleef maintained a strong hold. She charged forward and tackled the bug type, causing him to be thrown back by the impact. Bayleef didn't stop there, however. She ran forward and pressed her vines on the ground, using it to execute a jump. She gave a satisfied smile when she landed on top of Scyther.

Scyther struggled to escape the Body Slam, but Bayleef had cunningly disabled the motion of his legs and wings. He couldn't do much other than crawl at this point.

I can't lose, not to a grass type! It was shameful for him to be defeated by a Pokémon over whom he had a distinct advantage. He prided himself for being one of the strongest fighters of Viridian. But ever since he had joined Ash's team, he quickly found out that his strength did not mean much here. Several of Ash's Pokémon were much stronger than him. His strength was about average, mediocre.

Scyther felt that his trainer didn't view him as important. Of course, he was kind and caring, but Ash hadn't spent much time with him as he did with some of the other Pokémon. He was sent back to some of Ash's other Pokémon shortly after his capture.

Scyther wanted to prove himself. His self-esteem had taken a severe blow in his fight with that Pidgeot, and he couldn't stand the thought of being considered unimportant.

Scyther reversed his scythes and used them to dig into Bayleef's flesh. Bayleef gave a cry of pain on the unexpected attack. As Bayleef instinctively moved away from the scythes, Scyther used that opportunity to escape from Bayleef's Body Slam.

Immediately after escaping Bayleef's Body Slam, Scyther began his preparations to attack. He began a strange dance that involved slashing his scythes in the air. Bayleef fired a razor leaf attack, but a Scyther dodged it with his speed. Scyther used his agility to get behind Bayleef and then launched a Fury Cutter attack. Bayleef grit her teeth as she thought of a way to counter Scyther's move. She turned around and attempted a Headbutt, but Scyther was already gone. Scyther repeated his strategy and continued to attack Bayleef from the rear with his Fury Cutter. She couldn't turn around fast enough to attack Scyther directly, and her Vines had trouble wrapping hold of Scyther as he was behind her.

Bayleef decided that this strategy wasn't going to work. She then fired Razor Leafs all around her in random directions, hoping to hit Scyther with them. Scyther moved away to a safe distance, as he couldn't avoid the leaves and attack Bayleef at the same time.

Rose watched on incredulously as Bayleef hurled the rock after rock at Scyther. She was impressed at Bayleef's strength, as the rocks flew quite a distance before giving in to gravity. Thankfully, the rocks didn't reach anywhere near her aerial vantage point.

Ash's Swellow shook his head in exasperation. Bayleef's battle style was often quite unconventional. Like their trainer, she often thought out of the box and came up with several improvised attacks.

Swellow directed his gaze to his opponent. He had to admit, this Swellow was pretty good. So far, they were evenly matched, but Swellow was determined not to let that continue.

Swellow sped towards his opponent with the Quick Attack, but Rose flew upwards to dodge it. Swellow used the momentum of the Quick Attack to execute an Aerial Ace, for which Rose was unprepared for. The impact sent Rose staggering, but she rebalanced herself before she lost altitude.

"Why that little!" Metagross cursed, trying and failing to grab hold of Noctowl with his Psychic. Every time he came close to getting a hold of Noctowl, the bird suddenly changed his direction and flew away, causing him to fail. His attempts at ThunderPunch failed as well, as Noctowl could easily see him coming and move out of the way in time.

Espeon snickered at Metagross' misfortune. The Pseudo legendary was quite prideful of his strength and intellect. It had come to the point where Metagross was getting a little cocky. His pride, however, was taking a severe blow at being outwitted by Ash's Noctowl.

'Shouldn't we help him?' Alakazam asked Espeon.

'Good idea.' Espeon grinned. She quickly fired a shadow ball at Metagross, who was distracted by Noctowl.

Alakazam watched incredulously as Espeon's attack hit Metagross. Metagross roared in anger. 'You're supposed to be on my side!'

Anabel gaped when she noticed rocks flying around the field. "But- Bayleef can't learn Rock Throw!" she exclaimed, when she identified the cause.

'I guess that doesn't prevent her from throwing rocks.' Alakazam said, with a note of amusement in his voice. Anabel shook her head disbelievingly. I guess Ash's style is rubbing off on her.

Alakazam directed his attention towards his friends. Metagross was getting a thorough beat down by the Espeon-Noctowl tag team. He decided to lend Metagross a hand, to make the battle more even.


Pikachu decided to break his staring contest with Spiritomb. 'Alright, so what's your problem?' Pikachu asked.

'What?' Spiritomb demanded.

'Well, you obviously have some problem with humans. So what is it?' Pikachu asked.

'I told you, humans are scum.' Spiritomb said with contempt.

"What makes you think that?" Lucario asked.

Spiritomb glared. He wasn't about to share his life story with others, especially not with Pokémon that wag their tail to humans.

'We just want to help you, Spiritomb.' Latias sighed. Dark types admittedly weren't her favourite, but she would like to help him, since he was now part of the team.

'I don't want your help!' Spiritomb growled.

Lucario frowned thoughtfully. This wasn't going anywhere. Spiritomb was just too stubborn. He had seen this particular attitude before. Many Ghost Pokémon carried it. They resented life, and many believed it was because they were ghost types. But he knew that it wasn't the case.

"Humans of this era are different from humans of your era." Said Lucario. "They do not treat ghost Pokémon with the same prejudice that they did back then."

Spiritomb looked stricken by Lucario's words. He turned towards the Aura Pokémon. 'You know nothing of the humans of my era!'

Latias and Pikachu looked at Lucario curiously, wondering what he was talking about.

From Spiritomb's reaction, Lucario knew that his assumption was right. "On the contrary I do. I was born more than two thousand years ago, and I know of humanity's attitude towards ghost types back then."

'Forgive me if I don't believe that.' Spiritomb scoffed, his tone mocking. 'No Pokémon can live for two thousand years. Except guardians, perhaps.'

"My circumstances were... special." Lucario replied. He knew it was going to be difficult to convince Spiritomb, as this was a hard matter to believe. "I was sealed."

Spiritomb looked like he was slapped on his face. 'Do not mock me.' Spiritomb warned.

"I'm speaking the truth." Lucario said simply. The conviction in his voice was clear.

'So an Aura Guardian sealed you!' Spiritomb exclaimed. 'Then why do you continue to defend them?'

"I told you, my circumstances were special." Lucario said. "My master sealed me to protect me."

'How deluded you must be to believe that?' Spiritomb said harshly. 'Open your eyes. He abandoned you!'

Lucario could feel his anger rising, but he kept it in check. He knew Spiritomb was going to react like this when he brought up the subject. "I think I know him better than you do." Lucario said. "If he hadn't sealed me, I wouldn't be alive right now."

'And I suppose that Guardian,' Spiritomb turned towards Ash, 'unsealed you too?'

"As a matter of fact, he did."

'So he enslaves sealed Pokémon.' Spiritomb concluded.

Pikachu wasn't so good at containing his emotions as Lucario. After everything Ash had done for him, Spiritomb continued to insult Ash at every opportunity.

'That's enough!' Pikachu let out a stream of Thunder towards the sky, intended as a warning. Latias widened her eyes in alarm. The air surrounding them cracked loudly with static. The Thunder had the desired effect. Pikachu now had Spiritomb's undivided attention.

'Listen, and listen good!' Pikachu growled. 'Ash freed you so that you wouldn't have to suffer. He did it out of the goodness of his heart. I will not stand for you demeaning my friend any longer!' His cheeks sparked warningly.

Spiritomb had to admit, Pikachu could be intimidating if he wanted to be. Perhaps it wasn't so wise to insult the boy in his presence. But he wasn't about to give in.

'What's the difference between being sealed and being bound to the Guardian?' Spiritomb asked.

Pikachu took a deep breath, calming himself. 'Well, for starters, you don't have to be alone and you aren't locked up permanently.'

'I still see no difference.' Spiritomb said stubbornly. 'You will not allow me to be free.'

'That's because we're afraid you'll continue to hurt other Pokémon.' Said Latias. 'If you can change that attitude, I'm sure Ash will let you go in the future if you wish.'

Spiritomb still didn't look convinced. Pikachu sighed. 'Look, I don't know how other humans treated you in the past, but I can promise you that Ash is different. Just give him a chance.'

'I refuse to obey him!' Spiritomb growled.

'Will you at least stop causing trouble?' Latias asked tiredly.

'I won't cause any trouble if you let me go.' Spiritomb offered half-heartedly.

Latias too was steadily reaching the limits of her patience. She glared at Spiritomb. 'Alright, listen you! I don't care if you have a problem with humans and Aura Guardians. You will stay in this team and you will not cause any trouble. This is not debatable. Understood?'

Feeling that this is a good place to stop the argument, Pikachu decided to add his share. 'Here's a piece of advice, Spiritomb. It won't do you any good to piss off two of the Legendary Guardians.'

'Two?' Spiritomb asked. 'I only see one.' He directed his gaze at Latias.

Lucario almost smirked. Good thinking, Pikachu. He mentally praised the electric rodent. "Ash is the Wielder of the Original Aura."

The expression that flashed on Spiritomb's face was well worth remembering.

Sparky was having the time of his life. He was locked in a three way battle between himself, Zippo, and Cruz. These sessions were a challenge for all three of them, as they were nearly equal in strength.

Sparky skilfully evaded a Flamethrower courtesy of Zippo. Using his speed, he outmanoeuvred Cruz and climbed on top of him. Smashing and Iron Tail on the Tyranitar's head, he jumped away to avoid an Overheat from Zippo.

Cruz roared in anger as Zippo's Overheat hit him on his face. He shot a strong Thunder at Zippo.

Groaning in pain, Zippo glared at Sparky, angry that he had missed. He prepared to launch a Dragon Rage attack. Sparky widened his eyes in alarm.

'Zippo, watch out!' He exclaimed.

Does he seriously think I'll fall for-"Rawr!" Charizard roared in pain as he was hit from the back with a boulder.

'Told ya to watch out!' Sparky grinned cheekily. Charizard glared at the direction the boulder came from. 'I'm gonna fry that Bayleef!' He growled.

'Watch out!' Charizard widened his eyes in alarm at the second warning. He turned back, only to be blasted with a twin Thunder attack courtesy of Cruz and Sparky.

'Do you think maybe that was a little unfair?' Cruz asked, eyeing the smoking Zippo sympathetically.

'I told him to watch out before we attacked, didn't I?' Sparky said in a defensive tone, though he was grinning. Cruz snickered, but it soon vanished as he heard an ear splitting roar from Zippo.

Sparky paled. 'Blaze?' he asked Cruz.

Cruz nodded shakily. 'Blaze. Run for it!'

Ritchie winced when he saw Zippo being hit by Bayleef's improvised 'Rock Throw'.

I guess we shouldn't all try to train together in the future. He thought to himself. He silently thanked God that he wasn't the one who was smashed by the boulder. Zippo could definitely take it, but he on the other hand would've been crushed.

Ritchie and Happy sweat dropped as they watched Sparky and Cruz run for their lives from an enraged, Blaze powered Zippo. Ritchie turned his attention towards Happy. "Alright, let's do it one more time, but this time try to increase your speed a bit more."

Happy nodded, determined to get this attack straight the next time.

Ash looked worriedly at Pikachu's direction, wondering what had happened. He saw Pikachu shooting a Thunder at the sky out of the corner of his eyes. He was worried about the possibility of a fight breaking out, but things seem to be under control as far as he could tell. He hoped Spiritomb would understand his mistakes. He redirected his attention towards the battle. Dawn has gotten significantly better, and Buizel was now in a pretty bad shape. Aipom and Pachirisu formed a fearsome combo. One would distract the opponents, while the other would attack.

"Buizel, use Aqua jet on Aipom! Chimchar, use Fire Spin on Pachirisu!" Ash instructed.

Buizel shot forward, encasing himself in water. Chimchar shot a vortex of fire aimed at Pachirisu.

"Pachirisu, use Dig to escape!" Dawn urged. "Aipom, jump!"

Pachirisu promptly escaped the raging vortex of fire by digging down. Aipom jumped up as soon as Buizel neared her, causing the Aqua Jet to miss.

"Buizel, turn around and use Sonic Boom!" Ash ordered. "Chimchar, watch out for Pachirisu!"

Buizel immediately stopped the Aqua Jet and pressed his feet to the ground, halting his advance. He turned around and fired a Sonic Boom at Aipom, hitting her from behind. Chimchar frantically looked around, unable to predict where Pachirisu was going to surface from. Pachirisu emerged right under Chimchar and landed a hit on the fire chimp.

"Pachirisu, Discharge!" Dawn ordered, taking advantage of the proximity. "Aipom, use Swift!"

Pachirisu discharged his electricity, causing it to be channelled through Chimchar's body. Aipom's Swift attack covered the distance and hit both his opponents before they could counter it.

"Buizel, use Blizzard! Chimchar, Flamethrower before Pachirisu gets away!"

Ignoring his fatigue, Buizel concentrated his energy as the air around him grew chilling cold. He blew a powerful Blizzard at Aipom, freezing the ground along the way. Aipom couldn't avoid the attack and was hit by the full force of Blizzard.

Chimchar blasted the electric squirrel with Flamethrower, hoping to end the battle. Dawn panicked upon watching both attacks make contact. She let out a sigh of relief upon seeing another hole in the ground, indicating that Pachirisu had dug away to escape the brunt of the attack. "Way to go, Pachirisu!"

"Chimchar, stay calm and focus. Try to sense where Pachirisu is gonna attack next." Ash instructed. "Buizel, finish Aipom with Aqua Jet!"

Chimchar strained his senses to locate Pachirisu. Buizel, once again cloaked in water, sped towards Aipom intending to finish the battle.

Upon seeing the predicament, Dawn was suddenly inspired to turn this situation to her advantage. "Pachirisu," she shouted, hoping the Elesquirrel would hear her, "switch targets!"

"Buizel, look out!" Ash exclaimed, catching onto Dawn's plan. But there was nothing Buizel could do, as he was already speeding towards the frozen Aipom. Pachirisu resurfaced behind Buizel and shot a stream of electricity at him. The attack's effectiveness increased due to the Aqua Jet that surrounded Buizel. The Aqua Jet careened out of control and crashed into Aipom, breaking the layer of ice that surrounded her and causing only minimal damage. It was clear to both trainers that Buizel had fainted from Pachirisu's Thunderbolt.

"Excellent work, Pachirisu! You learned Thunderbolt too!" Dawn exclaimed, practically hopping with joy. This was the first time she had ever defeated a Pokémon commanded by Ash. Pachirisu was panting, but it was clear that he was pleased.

Ash recalled Buizel, thanking him for his hard work. "The battle is not over, Dawn!" Said Ash, and directed his attention to Chimchar. "Chimchar, use Flame Wheel on Pachirisu!" Ash ordered.

Chimchar surrounded himself with fire and closed in on Pachirisu at high speeds. Still fatigued from his last attack, Pachirisu couldn't dodge Chimchar's Flame Wheel. The force of the attack propelled Pachirisu backwards. As he rolled to a stop, he too had fainted. Dawn recalled Pachirisu, thanking him profusely. The battle was now between Chimchar and Aipom. Both were breathing hard, and were quickly reaching their limits.

"Aipom, use Focus Punch on Chimchar!" Dawn commanded, going for the final blow.

Ash waited until Aipom got close, and issued his command. "Now, Chimchar, use Dig!"

Chimchar immediately used dig to get out of the way of Aipom's focus punch. The attack missed and hit the ground instead. Before Aipom could rebalance herself, Chimchar surfaced, hitting Aipom in the jaw. Aipom staggered back by the force of the attack.

"Now, finish with Fire Spin!" Ash said triumphantly. Chimchar launched a vortex of fire from which Aipom was unable to escape. The combined damage was too much for her, and she fainted.

Dawn gave a sigh and thanked Aipom for her efforts before returning her to her Pokéball. Looks like I still have a lot of work to do. Dawn thought to herself.

"That was close. You've really improved, Dawn!" Ash praised.

"Thanks Ash!" Dawn smiled. "But I still have a lot to learn."

Ash's Noctowl is pretty good! Anabel thought to herself, watching her Metagross and Alakazam struggle against Espeon and Noctowl. Both were notoriously hard to hit, and Metagross and Alakazam were quickly tiring out.

Metagross chased after Noctowl, determined to hit the bird. He attempted to use Psychic, but Noctowl immediately sensed it and changed direction. Metagross shot his arm forward, attempting a Thunderpunch, but Noctowl flew up to avoid it. Alakazam used the opportunity to fire a Shadow Ball at Noctowl, but it was intercepted by Espeon's own Shadow Ball.

Espeon sensed a build up of energy inside Noctowl. Perfect. She had the keenest sensing ability in the group, so she was sure that Metagross and Alakazam had not noticed it yet.

Espeon whipped up a Sand Attack and obscured the vision of her opponents. Metagross and Alakazam used Psychic to repel the sand away from them, only to see a Hyper Beam closing in on them. Alakazam immediately teleported out of the way, leaving Metagross to take the attack head on.

'Sorry.' Alakazam muttered, as the smoke from the resulting explosion began to clear.

'Of course you are.' Metagross' voice was heard, dripping with sarcasm.


Ash's Swellow darted out of the way of another one of Rose's Quick attacks. He had to admit, Rose was fast. He could scarcely keep up with her. He watched Rose's movements carefully, looking for an opening. As she began to turn around to launch another Quick Attack, Swellow made his move. He used his own Quick Attack to get close and used Peck relentlessly.

Rose cried out in pain at the barrage of Peck attacks. She spread her wings and blasted a wave of heat outward, causing Swellow to stagger back. Rose used that opportunity to fire an Air Slash aimed at her opponent's wings. The attack hit, causing Swellow to become imbalanced. Making full use of the opportunity, Rose executed an Aerial Ace.

Swellow shot towards the ground due to the force of the Aerial Ace. Ignoring the stinging pain in his chest, he righted himself mid fall and regained elevation, albeit breathing harshly.

'You sure you want more?' Rose asked mockingly.

Swellow glared. 'Aren't you confident.' Swellow, to his credit, was never faulted with giving up. He shot towards Rose with renewed vigour.

Ritchie smirked in satisfaction as he saw Happy surround himself with purplish Aura. Happy adjusted his altitude and closed the distance between himself and his target. Without the slightest bit of hesitation, he collided with the boulder, blasting it to pieces.

"Great work, Happy! You got Giga Impact down!" Ritchie congratulated. Happy made a sound of joy, though he was exhausted from the training session.

Scyther and Bayleef eyed each other carefully, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. They had earned mutual recognition during their battle. Neither was willing to admit defeat, however.

Bayleef charged forward, intending to finish the battle with a Headbutt. Scyther made no move to defend himself. Bayleef smirked as she prepared to make contact. Game over. She thought gleefully. Her smile, however, vanished when she passed right through her opponent.

Before Bayleef could realize what was happening, Scyther attacked her from behind with X-Scissor. The attack added to Bayleef's forward momentum and caused her to crash into a nearby tree. She was hit by a Night Slash attack shortly after, causing her to lose consciousness.

"Wow, nice strategy! You used Double Team to avoid getting hit by Bayleef's Headbutt!" A voice praised.

Scyther turned around to find his trainer approaching their makeshift battlefield. In the heat of the battle, he didn't realize how much time had passed. It seemed that it was lunchtime, and everyone had either finished or stopped their matches out of exhaustion. Ash recalled Bayleef after complimenting her for her hard work. He patted Scyther's head to congratulate him. Scyther held his head high in pride, happy that he was recognized for his strength.

Ash saw Pikachu, Latias and Lucario approaching them with Spiritomb tagging behind. The former three were smirking slightly, while the latter looked none too happy about his predicament. He didn't seem as rebellious as he did in the morning, however.

"So, Spiritomb, what did you decide?" Ash asked hopefully.

'I still refuse to battle for you,' Spiritomb replied, 'but I won't trouble you if you won't trouble me.'

'That's the best we could get, sorry Ash.' Pikachu told his trainer.

"That's okay guys!" Ash grinned, relieved that Spiritomb was willing to stay with them without causing them any trouble. "We'll get along just fine, Spiritomb!" He smiled at his new Pokémon, hoping to start a path of friendship.

"I'm sure we will." Spiritomb grumbled, his voice tinged with sarcasm.

"That went surprisingly well." Anabel muttered. She hadn't expected Spiritomb to quell his rebellion so soon.

"I wonder what they told Spiritomb to convince him?" Dawn queried.

"Who knows? Pikachu has always been good at negotiations." Brock commented. "Lunch is ready guys!"

Solaceon Ruins, Late Evening

Saturn smirked as he entered the Solaceon ruins accompanied by two of Team Galactic's grunts. His Bronzor lit the way to their destination with its flash. He was confident in the success of this mission, as he had no reason not to be.

He attributed Mars' failure at the Oreburgh Mines to her lack of discretion. He had disagreed with her on her choice to go to the mission with a whole platoon of grunts. It was no wonder the G-Men found them easily.

Mars didn't listen to him, however. It had eventually cost her the mission. He wouldn't make the same mistake. He only had two grunts with him, and they had made every precaution to enter unnoticed. He had made his move as soon as Cyrus instructed him to secure the artefact, so that the information wouldn't be leaked somehow.

Saturn and the grunts made their way through the maze that was the Solaceon ruins. It was very easy to get lost inside if you didn't know the way. Fortunately for Saturn, however, Team Galactic had 'procured' documents of some research that had been conducted inside the ruins, and hence he had a good idea of its structure.

After several turns and stairways, they arrived in the central chamber. He smirked in satisfaction when he saw the writing carved on the walls and a triangular pattern with three depressions in the centre of the room.

"Place the Splash Plate in this depression here." Saturn ordered, pointing to a depression on the floor near his feet. "Then, place the Iron Plate and the Draco Plate in the depressions at the upper left and the right."

As one of the grunts bent down place the first plate in its position, a voice rang out from behind them.

"Hold it!"

Saturn cursed and turned around, releasing four of his Pokémon in the process. His grunts followed his example, although they were startled by the interference. Their mission was top secret, with only Cyrus and themselves knowing about it. Unless the artefact was guarded, there was no way they would have been discovered. The existence of the artefact itself was a secret that only Team Galactic knew. Or so they thought.

Saturn turned around to face their opponent. He was slightly relieved when he discovered that their opponent was only a boy. A boy with a most peculiar fashion sense at that. This, however, was not the problem. How did he get here? He thought furiously.

"Run along, nothing to see here, boy!" One of the grunts said menacingly. Their Pokémon took a threatening step forward.

"I know you're up to no good, Team Galactic! It'll be better for both of us if you surrender." Their opponent replied.

Ash had chosen to stay behind at the forest clearing even after their daily training session was complete. The meeting of the Legendary Guardians had made a big impact on him. His earlier reluctance to train was completely gone. All that remained was sheer determination to protect his friends and their world. This is what drove Ash to train as long as he could take it.

Ash wasn't alone in this, however. Pikachu, Lucario and of course Latias knew the peril that was fast approaching, and they were equally determined not to let it come to pass. Thus they too trained with him, or, in Lucario's case, trained him. He had sent the rest of his Pokémon with his friends so that they could get some well-deserved rest at the centre. They had a gruelling training session in the morning, after all. Pikachu, Latias and Lucario were relatively fresh as they had spent the morning convincing Spiritomb to persuade him to end his violent persona.

Ash was now focussing on controlling the second aura that resided within him. The Aura of Arceus was mixed well with his own, making it difficult to separate out. So far, his quest had proven unsuccessful. He could not rediscover that elusive feeling he had experienced twice before.

Latias was flying overhead, trying to attain higher speeds, while Pikachu was resting near him on top of a rock. It was late evening, and they were almost ready to return. Lucario was meditating with him. Through meditation, one can gain a better understanding of oneself and that eventually can be used to discover his second aura. At least, that's what Lucario told him.

Ash was slowly growing frustrated at the lack of progress. A clear mind was needed to focus on the task at hand, but Ash's patience was wearing thin. That was when Latias suddenly descended near them, a concerned expression on her face.

"Ash, I saw three people entering those ruins over there." Latias said nervously, pointing at the Solaceon ruins that were a short distance away. "The person who led them looked like one of the commanders of Team Galactic." She vividly remembered the four people Mew had warned them about in the meeting.

Ash was immediately on his feet. If Team Galactic was there, they were probably going to cause some trouble. Their motive is the destruction of their world. Neither he nor Latias could allow that. He didn't have enough time to go back to the city and call for help, so he opted the next best choice.

"Please take me there, Latias. We have to stop them." Ash told her. Latias nodded back determinedly. Pikachu hopped onto his shoulder, expressing his eagerness to help. Lucario closed his eyes and extended his senses, making a mental map of the aura in the locality.

"Found them." Lucario informed his friends.

Saturn considered the boy blocking their path. He looked no more than fifteen years old, and normally Saturn wouldn't be worried. However, the fact that the boy knew who they were, coupled with the Aura Guardian uniform that he was wearing, was a significant cause of concern.

Ash watched the Team Galactic members carefully. He was now sure that the seeming leader of this group was one of the commanders of Team Galactic. Lucario and Pikachu stood on his either sides, ready to attack on his command. Beside him, invisible, was Latias. Team Galactic had summoned their Pokémon as soon as they heard his voice. Four Golbat, a Bronzor, a Gallede, and another Pokémon he was unfamiliar with.

"The one to the right is a Toxicroak, a Poison and Fighting type." Lucario informed them, limiting his telepathy to his allies.

Ash was jolted by a sudden and strong pull. He didn't know how to describe it, but it felt as if his aura was being pulled towards the grunts. He directed his gaze to the direction where the pull had come from. His eyes almost immediately landed on the three rectangular objects held by one of the Team Galactic members. Ash remembered that they were going to place them in the triangular pattern before they interrupted them.

"Lucario, what are those?" Ash asked telepathically, his eyes never leaving the objects. He could feel a pull towards the objects, and it was growing stronger by the second. Lucario followed Ash's line of sight, only now fully noticing the objects. His eyes bulged out upon seeing what Team Galactichad with them. "How on earth did they get a hold of that?" He whispered, horrified. When Ash saw Lucario's knees begin to shake, he knew that was bad.

"What? What is it?" Ash asked urgently. The pull he was feeling was unlike anything he had felt before. His body and aura was reacting strangely to it. He could feel a warm sensation developing from within him.

"The Plates of Arceus." Ash wasn't sure if it was possible to whisper in telepathy, but this came close to it. He could feel Lucario's voice filled with reverence.

"His plates? You mean... like dinner plates?" Judging from the look Pikachu and Lucario were giving him, Ash concluded that they probably weren't dinner plates. Latias probably had an identical expression on her face, but they couldn't see her due to her invisibility.

Saturn observed his opponents carefully. After so brazenly stopping them, they seemed to be ignoring their presence entirely. The boy was staring at the plates, while the Lucario had the most peculiar expression in his face. It now seemed to be a cross between incredulity and reverence. Saturn smirked. This was their opportunity. He subtly signalled his Pokémon to get ready.

Ash could feel the warmth he had felt earlier spread throughout his body. He was now sure of it. This was Arceus' aura, and it was acting on its own. That can hardly be good. The aura wanted nothing more than to reach out to the plates. Ash supposed that made sense. If they were Arceus' plates, His aura should be pretty damn mad if somebody else had it.

"I don't think those belong to you." Ash said, pointing at the plates that the grunt held. His action seemed to have sent the aura haywire. He almost felt like the aura would drag him to the plates if it could.

Saturn smirked. "Neither do they belong to you."

Whether it was those spoken words or something else that triggered the event that followed, no one knew. However, one thing was sure to everyone that witnessed the scene. They would never forget what followed.

The plates gave out a tremendous pulse of energy, causing the grunt holding them and his allies to be thrown back by force. The dim chamber, only illuminated by Bronzor's Flash, was suddenly lit up by the three plates, now floating in mid-air. Ash could feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand up from the energy that bathed the chamber. It was, in no way, foreboding. On the contrary, it was warm and welcoming. He wasn't sure how to explain it, but he felt an intimate bond with that energy.

As they watched with wide eyes, the plates, defying all laws of Physics, began to move towards Ash's outstretched hand. Their brilliance intensified as they approached Ash. Then, one by one, the plates began to revolve around him, bathing him in its brilliance.

"What the heck is going on?" Saturn exclaimed, watching in wide eyed disbelief as the plates continued to revolve around the boy. The subordinate that held on to the plates seemed to have been knocked out by the force of the blast of energy. Even his Pokémon were trembling.

Saturn narrowed his eyes. His Pokémon had faced many strong opponents before. They had been subjected to some extremely strong attacks. He was sure that nothing would faze them at this point.

Watching them tremble before the power flooding the chamber wasn't at all reassuring, to say the least. At least his Pokémon weren't the only ones affected. The Lucario and Pikachu belonging to the guardian were also shaking visibly. Only the boy seemed to be unaffected by the overwhelming presence.

Latias had felt the energy the moment she had entered the chamber. Being a Psychic, she was naturally tuned to the energies that kept the world in motion. Hence she picked up the power within the plates before anyone else. She began to feel overwhelmed by one of the plates, as if it was calling out to her.

As seconds grew after she entered the chamber, she could feel an energy build-up in the room. The first and the obvious build-up originated from Ash. It felt like aura, but it was distinct from Ash's. She didn't need to be told what that meant.

Her suspicions were confirmed when Lucario informed them what the artefacts Team Galactic had with them were. Arceus' Plates. That explained the very strange energy build-up inside Ash. However, she grew concerned as the energy continued to build upon itself. Slowly, the plates began to resonate with his energy, accelerating the pace of the phenomenon.

She was concerned with Ash's safety as the Original Aura began to pull in the direction of the plates. It was at this point that something triggered the plates to react strongly. Perhaps it was Saturn's words, but that would imply something Latias hadn't even considered until now. She didn't have time to dwell upon it, however, as the plates resonated with the Original Aura and moved towards Ash. Now she was observing, dumbstruck, as the plates began to revolve around him.


Ash began to panic. His aura had never gone so haywire before. Now, those plates were moving towards him. As they approached him, they began to glow brighter. Ash was lost at what to do as the plates began to revolve around him.

Okay, calm down. He thought to himself. He had seen plenty of things before. This really shouldn't surprise him. He noticed that Pikachu and Lucario were being overwhelmed by the aura that spread throughout the chamber. He had to stop this.

The other aura was trying to reach the plates. Ash thought, recalling the pulling sensation he had experienced. Maybe if I pull that aura back into me...

Ash, with great effort, tried to pull back the aura emanating from him. As he watched, the glow of the plates began to fade. Struck with an idea, he held out his hand and began to pull the aura that he could feel in the plates. The plates responded to this by nearing his hand and settling on his palm. The strange light receded fully and the plates were now in his grasp.

Saturn certainly didn't expect the turn of events that unfolded when the Aura Guardian entered the scene. All of their documented data pointed to the plates being dormant. They tried all the tests known to them on those artefacts, from passing electricity to heating them. The plates never responded to a single one of them. But now, for them to react so strongly when the Aura Guardian entered the chamber...

Saturn pushed his thoughts aside. The Aura Guardian had to be captured so that the phenomenon can be investigated in detail.

"Now!" Saturn commanded, expecting his Pokémon to launch the attack sequence they were trained to. He was surprised at the lack of response he received. His Pokémon were hesitating to attack the Aura Guardian. His Pokémon.

"What are you waiting for? Attack him!" Saturn growled. His best chance of an all-out surprise attack failed. Looks like he had to deal with Ash Ketchum the hard way.

Of course, Saturn knew who they were dealing with. He didn't recognize the boy immediately, but the events caused him to put more thought into the boy's identity. Team Galactic had profiles on all of the strong trainers around the Sinnoh Region. They were currently faced with Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town, Kanto, with a threat level C.

The boy wouldn't be a problem any longer as he would be capturing the boy. Just as soon as his Pokémon began to listen to him.

"Oy, what are you waiting for?" One of the grunts shouted. "Attack that little pip squeak!"

The Golbat looked at each other, unsure of what to do. There was no mistaking the power that filled the room moments earlier. Toxicroak seemed inclined to attack, but Gallade seemed to be conflicted. Toxicroak didn't attack as he too had a small doubt in his mind.

'Didn't you feel that?' One of the Golbat asked the other.

'But that's impossible. The Original One is supposed to be resting, isn't he? And he isn't a human, is he?' Another Golbat panicked.

Pikachu grinned inwardly as he realized the conclusion their opponents had come to about the situation. All Pokémon, being more attuned to the energies of the universe, could identify the aura of the creator even though they had not felt it before. He could take advantage of the situation and turn this to their favour.

'I hope for your sake that you're not thinking of attacking him.' Pikachu said in a serious tone. 'For you shall be smitten if you defy him.'

Latias almost burst out in laughter as she caught on to Pikachu's plan. Brilliant.

Gallade gasped in shock while Toxicroak gave Pikachu a blank stare.

'What?' he asked, nonplussed.

'You are misguided, little ones,' Pikachu began in a saintly voice, inwardly laughing his head off, 'for you now side with evil. Amend your sins before the chains of karma bind you!'

"Is he trying to do what I think he's trying to do?" Lucario asked Latias incredulously.

"Well..." Latias began, her voice filled with amusement. "If you really think about it, opposing Ash would be like opposing Arceus, I suppose." At this, Latias lost her self-control and began to laugh. Telepathically.

"Umm... Pikachu? What are you-" Ash's whisper was interrupted courtesy of a whip from Pikachu's tail on his back.

'Ash, shut up! I'll handle this.' Pikachu whispered harshly. 'Oh... and try to act all high and mighty.' He added, and turned to his opponents.

"That's a stretch." Lucario sweat dropped as he saw Pikachu's tail whip Ash's back. Latias was practically rolling on the floor with laughter. Lucario seriously hoped she wouldn't reveal herself accidentally.

Saturn was never faulted with a short temper. He would never be in Cyrus' most trusted circle if he was. However, the current situation made him come dangerously close to blowing a fuse.

" .Now!" Saturn hissed. The remaining grunt started to sweat. Saturn losing his cool wasn't something you see every day.

The Pokémon recognized the change in Saturn's tone. They were painfully aware of the consequences of disobedience. The Golbat half-heartedly initiated a Supersonic. Their attempt, however, did not last more than a second as a Thunder blasted them on the spot.

'Your powers are futile against he who wields the power of Thunder.' Pikachu intonated dramatically.

"I think he's overdoing it." Latias sweat dropped, recovering from her laughing fit. Beside her, Lucario shifted to a battle stance. In a split second, he blocked a Poison Jab Toxicroak had aimed at Ash.

Ash stepped back in shock. He was pretty sure Toxicroak's attack would've finished him if Lucario hadn't intercepted it. I'll have to be careful. Ash thought.

Latias had to restrain herself from attacking Team Galactic when she saw the attack aimed at Ash. She was only hiding because Ash had specifically instructed her to. She was to interfere only if it was strictly necessary.

After Toxicroak's attack, Gallade overcame his hesitation. He knew that disobeying Saturn wouldn't end well for either of them. If they were indeed facing the Original One, Gallade hoped that He would understand their position. He could have no such hope for Saturn.

'Oh well. It was worth a shot.' Pikachu sighed. He jumped from Ash's shoulder and landed beside Lucario, cheeks sparking. Toxicroak, still locked in struggle with Lucario, used his free hand to hit the aura Pokémon with a Brick Break. Lucario immediately thrust his palm forward and hit Toxicroak's abdomen, blasting him backward before Brick Break could make contact.

His Pokémon are well trained. Saturn thought to himself. But so are mine.

True to Saturn's thoughts, Gallade fired a Night Slash towards Ash as soon as Pikachu jumped off from his shoulder. Lucario intercepted it with Aura Sphere.

'Oy! We're your opponents, not him!' Pikachu growled.

Gallade grimaced but said nothing. He unexpectedly disappeared from their sight.

'Where did he-' Pikachu looked around, unable to find the Psychic type. A second later, he widened his eyes as he saw Gallade materialize behind Ash. 'Look out!' He shouted.

Ash sensed Gallade's presence behind him and darted forward, and narrowly missed being sliced by Gallade's shimmering green leaf blade. "No, Latias. We may need to surprise them. Stay hidden!" Ash urged, as he sensed Latias preparing to attack Gallade. She reluctantly stopped her attack, silently thanking Mew for teaching her how to cloak her Psychic abilities.

As Pikachu was momentarily distracted, Bronzor glowed brightly and fired a Flash Cannon at the electric rodent. Pikachu leapt out of harm's way, having sensed the attack seconds before it hit. Pikachu, Lucario and Ash now stood back to back, surrounded by Bronzor, Toxicroak and Gallade. Saturn smirked confidently. His Pokémon outnumbered that of the Guardian.

"Three on three. No problem." Lucario reassured Ash confidently. "Just try to dodge their attacks, we'll watch your back."

"Wait, you want me to battle?" Ash gulped.

"It was common in my time. I and Sir Aaron had battled alongside for most of our lives. But I understand this is new to you. However, we have no choice now. We'll try our best to protect you but you'll have to try and defend yourself. If all else fails, we still have Latias." Lucario told him. Meanwhile, the Pokémon surrounding them had charged up their attacks, intent on finishing the battle in one shot.

"Finish them." Saturn smirked. Hopefully, the Guardian wouldn't die. Charon could use him for a few experiments with the plates.

Upon their trainer's command, Gallade, Toxicroak and Bronzor released their Hyperbeam, Shadow Ball and Extrasensory, respectively. The three attacks converged to the point where Ash, Lucario, and Pikachu were standing.

"Ash, shield!" Lucario urged. Ash immediately released his aura to his surroundings, forming a weak shield. He had yet to master the art of creating a shield able to withstand some sort of attack. Lucario knew this, however, and he too extended his aura to reinforce Ash's. His aura combined with Ash's and formed a protective barrier around them a split second before the attacks converged.

Saturn shielded his eyes from the resulting explosion. He was confident that the attack had successfully incapacitated his opponents. Thus he was shocked to find them standing, albeit slightly exhausted, after the attack.

"Ash, duck!" Lucario shouted, and jumped up. Ash immediately complied, and crouched low. Lucario used Ash's shoulder as a support for one of his legs and spun around, his arms outstretched. He released three Aura Spheres before their foes could comprehend what was happening, causing them to explode on their person.

Pikachu immediately darted forward, taking advantage of the distraction provided by Lucario. He used Quick Attack to get close to Toxicroak, whom he saw as their largest threat. Before Toxicroak could recover from the Aura Sphere, Pikachu's Iron Tail had landed on his face. Toxicroak stumbled back, clutching his forehead in pain. Pikachu promptly retook his position beside his trainer, and Lucario followed his example.

"Gallade, Double Team!" Saturn commanded. Their attack sequence had failed to disable their opponents, so it was time he took matters into his own hands. Multiple images of Gallade began to surround them. Ash began to panic as he could not tell where Gallade was.

"Don't panic. Close your eyes and try to sense Gallade's Aura. It will show you what your eyes cannot." Lucario reassured his trainer. Ash felt the irony of the situation. Usually it was him helping his Pokémon calm down when they faced such attacks. Being at the receiving end of it, however, Ash found that focussing was not nearly as easy as he made it out to be. Nevertheless, he closed his eyes in an attempt to block out the flood of Gallade surrounding him.

Ash struggled to keep his focus. The adrenaline rushing through him was making it extremely difficult to do so. He sensed the aura in his surroundings, and determined the position of Lucario, Pikachu, Croagunk, Bronzor and Latias immediately. He felt Gallade's aura moving around him at high speeds, never staying in the same position. However, he could track Gallade now, as opposed to earlier when he had his eyes open.

Ash ducked as he sensed Bronzor approach him at high speeds. He scarcely recognized it as Gyro Ball. Saturn was taking advantage of the distraction Gallade had provided.

"Pikachu, use Thunder on Bronzor!" Ash ordered. Telepathy was decidedly advantageous in such a situation. It wasn't like this was a fair battle, after all.

Pikachu fired a stream of electricity at the Steel and Psychic type that had just narrowly missed his trainer. The Thunder hit the target dead on, stopping it in its tracks.

Lucario dashed forward, noticing an opening in Gallade's defence. With speed that made Latias jealous, he intercepted Gallade's Double Team by hitting the said Pokémon on his jaw. Gallade was thrown back by the force of the hit, and the illusion his speed had caused dispersed along with it.

"So the Lucario is indeed as strong as rumoured." Saturn muttered to himself. He narrowed his eyes. Aura Guardians were a pain in the neck to deal with. Their damned telepathy and abilities made them hard to take out. He thought that the boy wouldn't be as good as an experienced guardian in combat, and indeed he wasn't, but his Pokémon more than made up for it. He had to finish this before anyone else arrives.

"Bronzor, Flash! Croagunk, Gallade, you know what to do." Saturn ordered.

Bronzor turned towards his opponents and glowed brightly. This time, the light was enough to render them temporarily blind. Lucario, Ash and Pikachu immediately closed their eyes, and the former two automatically began to rely on aura to guide them.

Ash sensed Toxicroak and Gallade getting dangerously near them, charging up some attack. Lucario debated for a split second and focussed his attention on Toxicroak. Using his Psychic, he stopped Toxicroak's Poison Jab on its tracks and began to crush the said Pokémon with his Psychic hold. Toxicroak cried out in pain at the extremely effective attack.

Meanwhile, Gallade neared Ash, his swords glowing in preparation for Fury Cutter. Ash ducked and thanked his reflexes as the sword passed directly above him. He felt like hugging Riley for all that training he was given.

Gallade didn't stop his assault, however, and used his other hand to slash vertically downwards. Ash threw himself sideways, and once again narrowly avoided being slashed in two. His heart drummed violently against his chest and adrenaline pumped through him, keeping him on his toes.

Gallade turned to face Ash, preparing for another assault. Pikachu sensed Ash's plight, but he couldn't see his friend due to the intense light. Trying hard to listen, he recognized the sound of Gallade's blade tearing through the air as it neared Ash for the third time. In one quick moment, Pikachu blocked Gallede's attack with his own tail, now glowing brightly. Landing momentarily on Gallade's sword, he unleashed a blast of Thunder through Gallade's body, successfully halting the Fury Cutter.

Pikachu jumped back to Ash's side when he finally finished his Thunder. Gallade swayed, shaken badly from the force of the attack. To his shock, Gallade found that he could no longer move.

Saturn gritted his teeth as he saw that both Gallade and Toxicroak were incapacitated for the moment. His grunt had recalled the fallen Golbat to their Pokéballs. He cursed their uselessness. It seemed that he couldn't prolong this tactic now.

"Bronzor, Imprison!" Saturn commanded. Bronzor immediately ceased his Flash and his eyes glowed white. A strange energy closed around Lucario, and his Psychic hold on Toxicroak abruptly vanished. Toxicroak crumbled to the ground in a heap, spent from the crushing grip of Psychic.

"Toxicroak, get up. Gallade, get ready to attack again." Saturn said. It wasn't encouragement. It was an order. Toxicroak struggled as he got up, unable to disobey his master. Gallade struggled against his senses, willing his body to move. With great effort, he was able to get his body to respond to his desperate pleas. He too shifted into a battle stance, afraid of the consequences of a loss.

"Toxicroak, use Revenge! Gallade, Frustration!" Saturn ordered.

Toxicroak surrounded himself with a dark aura. The magnitude of the power accumulating around the Poison type alarmed Lucario. The Psychic had dealt an enormous amount of damage to Toxicroak, so he was sure that this attack would be overwhelming. He would have to give it his all if he hoped to survive. Closing his eyes, he calmed his mind and focussed solely on his opponent. Lucario was determined to not let the attack get past him to harm Ash.

Gallade surrounded himself with a purple aura as hatred burned in his eyes. He recalled all the painful training he and his fellow Pokémon had to go through under Saturn. That boy, whom he had once thought as a friend, had turned into this vile man in the space of half a decade. Saturn no longer cherished his Pokémon after he became an obedient servant of Cyrus and followed his example.

Pikachu gulped as he saw the energy accumulating around Gallade. There was no way he would get out of that unscathed. Hell, he'd be thankful if he was even conscious after such a strong attack. He wondered how a Pokémon could hate his trainer so much.

"Pikachu, don't panic. Show them the strength of our bond. Use Return!" Ash urged.

"Interesting choice of attack." Saturn called out. "Lets see what prevails. Hate, or love." He spat out the last word as if it was something disgusting.

Gallade and Toxicroak rushed towards Pikachu and Lucario respectively, ready to release the enormous power within them. Pikachu darted forwards, a warm aura surrounding him as he absorbed strength from his happy memories. His power too, built up exponentially as he neared Gallade.

Lucario readied himself as Toxicroak approached him. He gathered a large amount of energy in front of his outstretched palm, preparing for the strongest Hyper Beam he could manage. The attack grew in power and with barely a second to spare, he released it at Toxicroak at point blank range.

"Perfect." Saturn whispered as Toxicroak's and Gallade's attacks neared their foes. He eyed his third Pokémon, a sinister smirk on his face. "Your turn." He whispered.

Bronzor's eyes glowed blue and boulders began to jut out from the walls of the chamber. With considerable mental effort, he threw the rocks at Ash, who was presently watching his Pokémon with concern.

"I guess this is the end, Aura Guardian." Saturn sneered. His subordinate covered his eyes, unable to watch what was to follow.

Ash whirled around as he sensed something approaching. He was dumbstruck when he saw the enormous boulders closing in on him. The cave shook as the Pikachu and Gallade impacted each other with their attacks, shortly followed by Lucario's Hyper Beam hitting Toxicroak. Ash closed his eyes in fear, knowing that there was no way he could avoid the boulder. Neither Lucario nor Pikachu could see help him now.

The pain that Ash expected never came. He waited a second, followed by another. Opening his eyes, he saw the sight of the boulders frozen on their path, and a familiar eon dragoness covering him.

"Latias!" Ash exclaimed in relief.

"Forgot about me, did you?" Latias said with mock hurt. Her demeanour abruptly changed and she crushed the rock in front of her with her Psychic. The resultant dust obscured the vision of everyone present.

Saturn had a feeling that things didn't go quite as planned when he didn't hear the scream he was expecting from the boy. The shockwave of the four earlier attacks colliding with each other caused a minor cave quake, and his vision was obscured for a short time afterward. As the dust cleared, Saturn was greeted with a sight that left him gaping in disbelief.

His Toxicroak and Gallade's attacks were seemingly stopped by their respective opponents, although both Lucario and Pikachu looked extremely exhausted. The boulders that Bronzor had hurled at the guardian were nowhere to be seen. But the cause of his disbelief was standing- scratch that, floating before the Aura Guardian, glaring daggers at him.

Saturn was well acquainted with the local legends around the world. He had heard tales about the existence of certain Pokémon, ones that surpassed the limits of ordinary Pokémon. Their strength and power were beyond the reach of even the strongest Pokémon known to humanity. The feats of these Pokémon were passed by word of mouth, causing people to see them as supernatural beings. Such Pokémon existed in every region, and people had more than once caught a glimpse of them. Thus these Pokémon were often recognized by their appearance.

These Pokémon, more often than not associated with legends and folklore, were appropriately dubbed Legendary Pokémon. Saturn himself had dedicated his life in the pursuit of the three greatest legends of them all. Hence it came as quite a shock to him when one of those legends presented itself before him.

"Latias." He whispered. The eon dragon and the fastest Pokémon on the planet along with her supposed twin, Latios.

"You have angered the wrong legendary, Team Galactic!" Latias said coldly. "This confrontation is over."

Saturn froze as he heard a decidedly feminine voice. He looked around, but saw no one other than those already present. Now fully grasping what he had heard, he realized that the source of the voice was the Legendary Pokémon before him.

"Toxicroak, Dark Pulse! Gallade, Night Slash! Bronzor, Gyro Ball!" Saturn ordered. He had to take out this new threat as immediately.

The attacks he expected never came. Enraged, he looked at his Pokémon. His blood froze when he saw the shimmering blue outline surrounding them. He could see them trying to break free from it with all their might, but their attempts were futile. Even his Bronzor, highly resistant to these kinds of attacks, was struggling.

"Like I said, This," Latias repeated her earlier statement more forcefully. At once, the three Pokémon were forcefully collided with the roof of the cave courtesy of Latias' Psychic. "Confrontation" she continued, this time slamming them to the ground. "Is" The trio of Pokémon collided with each other in the centre of the chamber, above Ash, Pikachu and Lucario. "Over." Latias finished, slamming the trio to the cave walls. There was no further movement from them to contradict her.

"They're all knocked out." Lucario declared. "Not bad." He added, grinning at Latias.

"We did all the work and she gets the credit." Pikachu grumbled, though he too was grinning.

"You're next." Latias promised, eyeing Saturn furiously. Saturn paled, fearing the safety of his life for the first time since he joined Team Galactic. He took a step back, desperately looking for an escape route.

"Latias, don't! The Police will take care of him!" Ash placed a hand on the eon dragon's shoulder, trying to calm her down. He succeeded, and Latias regained her composure.

"Code Zero!"

Ash and Latias snapped their attention back to Saturn, who had already recalled his Pokémon.

"What did you say?" Ash asked. Latias readied herself for combat.

"You'll find out." Saturn smirked. Ash and Latias widened their eyes as they felt a Psychic presence enter the chamber. Before any of them could react, Saturn had vanished from the spot.

"Did he just..." Ash asked incredulously, unable to believe what had happened.

"Escape? Yes he did." Ash could feel Latias' anger dripping through the telepathic link. He laughed nervously.

"Aww... Shit. What about me?" the remaining grunt whined. His companion was still knocked out, and he couldn't see any way to escape.

Latias eyed the remaining grunt. "Don't worry!" She said with false sweetness. "We'll take good care of you!"

The grunt squeaked in terror and tried to make a break for the exit, but he collapsed before he made it halfway, courtesy of a blow from Lucario.

"I suppose there's nothing we can do about that commander." He sighed. "At least we have his henchmen."

"Yes, that is a relief." Latias said, sarcasm dripping in her tone.