The BB Brigade makes a reappearance – but not for the reason you FFC players might think.

Also, look at all these chapters of this and my HTTYD fanfic I've written in only a few weeks! I'm on fire!

Forestspirit of Thunderclan: Cotton is the only OC in this fanfic. To put it bluntly, he's me (Cottonmouth25). He was mutated by the Dinaurians at birth, giving him the natural abilites of pterosaurs, such as flight and the like. Also, he won the previous Caliosteo Cup, which was held a bit before the one Dina's competing in, but he fled to join the BB Brigade. Hope that clears some things up.


It had been a pretty long time since Dina had last heard the wild cheering of the crowd, or at least it seemed like it. When she and Pauleen entered the Stadium, she immediately tensed up – in a good way. Although she knew that she was in for a tough battle, it was comforting knowing that a good number of people were cheering her on.

Dina slipped a little on her way to her position on the battlefield. That reminded her that her Vivosaurs would be involuntarily rotating positions as they battled. Annoying, certainly, but there was nothing for her to do to prevent it.

Pauleen was facing her when she stopped and stood at her end of the stadium, ready for battle. Dina grinned at Pauleen's determined face – a face that she could finally see – and reached for her Dino Medals. She already knew which three she'd be using.

"Here we have it folks – it's time for Caliosteo Cup semifinals!" said Trip Cera, announcing as usual. "Of note is the fact that Pauleen has mysteriously gotten rid of the mask that has come to be her identity in this tournament," mused Ty Ranno. "Oh, well. Let's just get to battling!"

Dina smirked. "Well said," she murmured, before calling out her three Vivosaurs – Nychus, Teffla, and Hopter. A well-balanced assortment of types, able to cover each others' weaknesses and strengths quite well, to be sure.

Pauleen, however, also had quite a good set of Vivosaurs to use herself – Synthos, a strange, deer-like Vivosaur, Plesio, which Dina had seen before in the battle with Lord Tonzilla, and Omias, a pony-like Super Evolver. Despite its unintimidating looks, Dina knew not to underestimate this powerful opponent.

All three of Pauleen's Vivosaurs had the edge in speed, so she struck first. After her team had regained their footing on the slippery ice, she commanded Plesio to strike Nychus with Plesio Poison. The aquatic Vivosaur spun at Nychus like a drill, slamming into her and scoring a small bite with its fangs. Nychus was surprisingly unscathed.

"Hopter, hit Plesio back with your Rock Wing!" The resultant sandstorm hit Plesio with astonishing power, taking out half of its LP.

Pauleen scowled and stamped her foot in frustration. "Omias, use Omias X, digadig!" she called, and the Super Evolver sprang into action. Quickly turning around, it whipped Hopter forcefully across the face with its long, thin tail. Hopter reeled, but steadily got back to his feet.

"Way to go, Hopter!" said Dina. "Now Teffla, finish off Plesio with your Teffla Scale!" Her own Super Evolver attacked then, lightly brushing Plesio with a wave of dust. The toxic substance drained what was left of Plesio's health, causing it to dissolve into its Dino Medal.

"Wow, a knockout already!" exclaimed Trip Cera. "Dina's certainly gotten stronger since we last saw her, Trip," agreed Ty.

Pauleen gritted her teeth, then yelled out, "Omias and Synthos, digadig! Use Omias Dos and Synthos Strike!"

Omias ran full force at Teffla, spearing him with its central horn. Teffla stumbled back at the blow's unexpected power, then took another step back as Synthos dealt an uppercut to his chin with its own horn. The two blows had taken a significant portion of his LP, but otherwise, Teffla was fine.

"Nychus, hit Omias with your Nychus Combo!" A malicious glint sprang to life in Nychus' eyes, then she ran forward at the much bigger Vivosaur. She delivered a slash of her claws, then three flying kicks, and landed back in her starting position. A sag in Omias' posture indicated that it had been poisoned by Nychus' sickle-claws.

"Now Hopter, use Beak Strike!" Hopter half-ran, half-jumped to Omias, jabbing out with his powerful beak. Omias stumbled backwards at the critical hit that he had scored, but got right back up, albeit slowly because of the poison.

Pauleen was becoming a little more agitated. She told Omias to use an Omias X attack on Nychus. What happened next was actually pretty comical – the first blow hit Nychus, sending her spinning into the air, then the second blow hit her midair, making her tumble to another side instead. Regardless of how painful the twin blows must have been, Nychus landed right on her feet again.

Impressive, thought Dina, and Teffla commented that at the same time. Grinning a little at the coincidence, Dina shouted, "Teffla, use Teffla Soar!" Teffla jumped into the air, then struck Omias with a powerful blow from his tail. Omias gave a whinny of pain and retreated backwards a few steps, then cringed and shuddered as the poison damaged it. It was badly hurt from Dina's repeated attacks, which was technically Dina's strategy.

"Synthos, use Synthos Smash, digadig!" yelled Pauleen, to which Synthos replied by kicking Hopter in the beak with a strike from its back legs. Hopter's eyes grew red and he let out an enraged caw as his Berserker ability activated. Dina hoped that he'd be able to shake it off like previous times.

"Nychus, give Omias a Raptor Claw attack!" Nychus did so with glee, slashing it across the face with her sharp claws. Omias squealed and rubbed at its face with a foreleg, nursing the slight damage that Nychus had done. But Dina wasn't finished yet – she told Hopter, hoping that he'd listen, to use Rock Wing. At first, nothing happened… then the red glow faded and Hopter whipped up a sandstorm with his wings.

At this, the crowd cheered. Dina couldn't fight back her grin. Hopter settled into his position after dealing significant damage to Omias and gave her a wink. I'll always be here, no matter how angry I get, he seemed to be saying.

Pauleen seemed to be getting more and more frustrated. Dina saw her pause to take a calming breath, then call out an Omias X attack. The double blows struck Hopter, dealing a critical hit each time. Dina's mouth dropped as she saw Hopter's LP go from a little under half to zero. His Dino Medal skidded across the ground and hit her foot.

Dina sighed and picked it up, murmuring, "Get a little rest," to Hopter, who accepted graciously. Watching her FP count climb, she called, "Teffla, pay Omias back with a Teffla Dive!"

Teffla smirked, then ran full force at Omias. An aura of hurricane-force wind surrounded him, and he leapt the remaining distance, smashing himself into Omias' flank. The winds roiled and whirled around the pair of Vivosaurs, then died down. Teffla landed lightly and elegantly on his feet. Omias fell to the ground with a mighty crash, turning back into a Dino Medal.

Now all Pauleen had left was her Synthos. She ordered it to use a Synthos Smash attack on Teffla, and the kick that Synthos hit him with did a lot of damage. But Teffla weakly staggered back into the battle, tired but with some fight still left in him.

"It's deer season, Nychus! Use Nychus Venom on Synthos!" A ferocious grin split Nychus' muzzle in two as she enthusiastically sprang forward at Synthos, who was watching with large, frightened eyes, too scared to move. Deer in headlights, thought Dina with a quiet chuckle.

In the space of a second, Nychus had reached her quarry. She brought Synthos to its knees with a single slash of her claws, then bashed its face repeatedly with a series of midair kicks. Finally, she landed on her feet and finished the beaten deer with a gush of crimson fire from her mouth.

The flames leapt high for a few moments, then extinguished themselves. Synthos, fur badly scorched and blackened, struggled to its feet, then collapsed. A Dino Medal took its place as it vanished into thin air.

The watching crowd erupted into wild cheers. Dina practically squealed in delight as she ran forward and hugged Nychus around the neck. The raptor stumbled at the unexpected show of affection, then wrapped her arms around Dina and laughed gleefully. Teffla joined them, curling his tail around the both of them.

"You won, Nychus!" enthused Dina. "It was your first official Fossil Battle, and you won it!" Nychus looked at her taloned feet shyly, and Teffla congratulated her also. But don't forget, Dina, he said. We all worked together to win.

Dina's grin grew even broader. "How could I forget?" she said, and with that, she turned and waved to the cheering crowd. Being cheered was a thing that she had grown to love – and after this, she'd only be experiencing it one more time.


Ilium Village

Standing in front of the roaring fire in the Fighter Station's fireplace, Pauleen and Dina were delightfully talking. "I lost the Fossil Battle, digadig," Pauleen was saying, "but I didn't lose to myself! All those people were watching me, but I didn't get nervous or flustered! Not once!" She drew herself up proudly in the way that Dina had grown to love.

"And best of all," Pauleen continued, "my face diga-didn't turn red once! This is a pretty special day for me…" She ran forward and hugged Dina, just like before in Rainbow Canyon. "Thank you, Dina. I can't wait to see you battle in the final, digadig!"

She retreated, then her cheeks went pink. "Gah!" she exclaimed. "Why am I turning red NOW, digadig?!" Dina laughed, and she joined in a moment later.

Suddenly, there was a cry of "Hey, Dina! Pauleen!" Dina couldn't help grinning widely when she heard that familiar voice. She turned around to see Todd barreling straight for them, looking as good as new.

"If I missed your semifinal battle, I'd never forgive myself!" he said to them when he had caught his breath. "So I used my willpower to beat that fever at last!" He did a little victory pose. "What now, cold? Hah!" The three of them chuckled.

Todd wasn't finished there, however. "I heard how you went into the Bonehemoth and fought Pauleen's mask!" he enthused. "Rupert told me the whole story while we were waiting for your battle to start! It's just crazy that you're a world-class Fighter now!"

There was a bit of silence, which, Todd being Todd, didn't last long. "And you're going to face Rupert in the final, right? You're my best friend, Dina, and I'll cheer you on with everything I've got!" Dina stepped forward and shook his outstretched hand.

"Hey, digadig!" exclaimed Pauleen indignantly. "I'm here, too, diga!" Todd took one look at her and blushed ferociously. "Um… well, great job too, Pauleen." Pauleen looked confusedly at Dina, who gave her a knowing wink.

The next few moments were a bit of a blur, as a bunch of male Fighters started gushing over Pauleen. The hectic period finished with an exasperated cry from Pauleen – "I can't deal with this right now, digadig!" – and then she ran off, followed closely by her new fanboys.

Dina noticed Todd staring glumly after them. "You like Pauleen, right?" Dina asked gently, putting her hand on his shoulder. He paused, then nodded. "Then go after her," she told him. "Chase off those other boys, and if you feel up to it… then maybe tell her how you feel."

Todd looked at her, then slowly nodded again. "You're right, Dina," he said with a new smile spreading across his face. "Thanks for the advice. See ya!" He then dashed off in the direction Pauleen had gone.

Dina sighed happily and idly crossed her arms as she watched his retreating figure. She didn't have much time to think, though, because Kent was there beside her all of a sudden.

"Nice work, little dude," he said, pumping her arm rapidly. "That was some epic ownage you did out there!" Dina stumbled and checked her arm to make sure nothing was broken.

"Anyway," Kent went on casually, "here's a prize for clearing your semifinal match." He handed her a Wondrous Fossil Rock. Her eyes widened as she took the rock and placed it in her Fossil Case. Then, Kent took her Fighter's License and stamped it, officially recognizing her as a Rank 9 Fighter.

"Just one more match to go!" Kent encouraged her, giving her a jaunty thumbs-up. "I know you'll totally shred it, dude. I have faith."

Dina watched him leave until she heard the sound of muffled cheering, presumably coming from the Stadium. Somehow, she wasn't surprised to see Rupert emerging from the Common Room doors.

He caught sight of her standing alone in the lobby, and walked over. "I won," he said simply, with the ghost of a smile on his face. "So I guess this means that I'll be facing you in the final. Good luck, Dina. I'm really looking forward to it."

Dina held out her arms hopefully. Rupert smiled and hugged her close. It was like this for a couple of seconds, before they separated from each other.

"See you around, Rupert," said Dina. He smiled again, then walked out of the lobby.


Bonechip Island

If it were possible for a skull to form facial expressions, Don Boneyard would have looked furious. Cole and Lester knew that he was silently raging inside, and kept as far away from him as possible, while at the same time looking like they were respectfully standing before him. This wasn't as easy as it sounds.

Only Lola was unintimidated. "Soooo, it looks like Operation Lights Out was kind of a bummer, huh?" she asked casually, staring at Don Boneyard through her half-closed eyes.

But before Don Boneyard could explode in rage, there was another voice. "Calm down, Don Boneyard." It was Cotton, and he entered the chamber, flying only an inch above the floor. "We know that you're angry, and that's to be expected. But we want the Cup to end as much as you do."

Don Boneyard's mood, apparently, wasn't helped much. "Idiots!" he muttered. "Perhaps you're not aware that the Caliosteo Cup final is about to take place? I wanted Fighters slinking away from the islands in disgrace!"

Cotton rolled his eyes as he stepped closer to the skeleton's platform. "Look, we're all desperate to stop the Cup. That's why I've come up with a rather… unique plan. It's a bit of a long shot, and the risks are high… but if we can pull it off, it's going to be a while before they can even get their VMMs working again."

Despite himself, Don Boneyard seemed interested. "…I'm listening," he said finally.

The other three BB commanders allowed themselves to step closer to Cotton as he said, "I'm going to need my three comrades here to help… this will be big."

Smirking, he revealed his plan. When he was done, the three commanders had similarly evil smiles on their faces. Don Boneyard looked hesitant, but he eventually gave the former Cup Champion permission to go ahead with his plan…


Dusty Dunes

Of all the places on Cranial Isle, Dina had to say that Dusty Dunes was perhaps the worst. The sweltering heat seemed especially prominent here, and there was the fact that there was not even a drop of water, either sitting on the ground or suspended in the air as vapor. Then there was the sand, which made the ground slippery and unstable.

Dina had been fossil hunting for ten minutes now, without any luck. Just as she was about to give up and call it a day, she spotted something on the distant horizon. It looked familiar, and it was only when she ran closer that she indeed saw it was something she recognized.

It was good old Professor Scatterly.

"Good heavens!" he mumbled. "It seems I've bungled things up well and good this time! I meant to grab my water bottle, but instead I grabbed my flyswatter! That will do me little good in a place such as this…"

Dina, with a mental facepalm, started searching for the little water bottle that she had brought with her. Meanwhile, Professor Scatterly kept talking to himself. "My legs are weak… my eyes grow dim… my mustache withers… Yes, it seems death stalks me once more. T-tell science… I love her…"

Crouching down, Dina held her water bottle up to his face. Almost immediately, his eyes shot open. "W-water! It's water!" He ravenously drained the entire bottle, then hopped to his feet, apparently his old jolly self once more.

"I say, but that hit the spot!" he exclaimed happily. "Thank you for pulling me from the jaws of oblivion, eh wot?" Then he squinted and gave an "oh ho!" of realization.

"What's this? You're Dina! It seems you've rescued me again, old chum!" he pumped her hand furiously, clearly grateful. Despite herself, Dina smiled.

"So what are you doing in an inhospitable place like this?" Dina wondered. Professor Scatterly replied with a laugh. "Why, to track down a Calio Slablet, of course! My sonar detected one of the fair beasties nearby, so I grabbed my shovel and made to dig."

Dina grew excited. She couldn't wait to finally solve the mystery of King Zongazonga! "Here, I can dig it up for you," she offered, taking out her pickaxe once more. "I've been doing some excavating here myself, so digging through the sand has become kind of easy for me now."

The professor guffawed heartily. "Indeed, I wager digging at Dusty Dunes should be little problem for one of your caliber! According to my sonar, the Slablet should be just in front of me. I say, do your thing!"

With a single swing of her pickaxe, Dina plowed through the sand and struck something hard. One forceful tug later, she had unearthed the Calio Slablet, sand still pouring off of it.

"Excelsior!" the professor boomed. "That's Slablet number four! Now we'll learn what happened to Zongazonga and the bodies he seized!" He cleared his throat, and began to read aloud:

"The people finally rose up as one against Zongazonga's reign of terror. Though the struggle was long and difficult, they ultimately succeeded in defeating Zongazonga. To prevent him from ever stealing bodies again, his skull was sealed in a stone chest. They then constructed the giant Stone Pyramid and locked him inside."

Professor Scatterly looked delighted. "So Zongazonga was overthrown by his own people, eh?" he chuckled. "It does this old man good to see these people taking a despot!"

He paused to think. "And then there's this bit about sealing his skull in the Stone Pyramid. …Quite odd, that. I don't know what it is, but my scientific curiosity is quite piqued!" Professor Scatterly tucked the Slablet under his arm and continued, "Well, I suppose I should seek out this Stone Pyramid place."

Dina giggled. "Just don't go opening any stone chests, OK?" The professor laughed right along with her. "Yes, you can be sure that – eh? What's that?"

They suddenly fell quiet as they heard a shrill screech echo from high above them. As one, they craned their necks to look up at the sky. What they saw confounded them – a huge, flying creature majestically soaring on the desert thermals.

"Is that… a Vivosaur?" asked Dina to no one in particular. "Hmm," said Professor Scatterly thoughtfully. "I don't claim to be a Vivosaur expert, but I do believe that this particular beast is called Nycto Ace."

Dina blinked at the familiar name. She had indeed heard of Nycto Ace – a powerful, elegant Super Evolver. In fact, the only Nycto Ace she had ever seen was on television a few months ago, and it had been under the ownership of… "Cotton," Dina breathed.

Instantly, she twisted her head to look in the direction of Cranial City, where she could see the top of Wildwest Tower peeking over the desert cliffs. She saw the Nycto Ace leisurely fly over in that direction, and when she looked even closer – she could see a faint, grey wisp of smoke curling into the air near the tower.

"Oh damn," she whispered in horror. "The BB Brigade is here!" She took off at a run, waving farewell to a simultaneously perplexed and horrified Professor Scatterly.


Cranial City

It was worse than Dina had imagined. The Fighters in Cranial City were in a huge panic, hysterically running back and forth, screaming their lungs out. Smoke rose from several buildings, which were all but demolished.

But the main reason Dina's eyes had widened was at the sight of several Boneysaurs running rampant through the streets. A B-Rex was using its jaws to tear chunks out of brick walls. A B-Tricera was ramming its head again and again into the Fossil Guild, causing the building to start crumbling. A B-Jara soared overhead, blasting fleeing Fighters with sonic pulses, looking like it was enjoying itself greatly.

All of a sudden, Todd, Rupert, and Pauleen – the entire Caliosteo Patrol Team - were there beside her. "Can you believe this?" Todd yelled over the din of people screaming and Boneysaurs roaring. "The BB Brigade has really gone too far this time, digadig!" Pauleen replied.

Rupert tugged on Dina's sleeve. "Dina, what are we going to do?" he asked her, voice filled with worry. Dina clenched her teeth and balled her fists in anger. "We find the person behind this and knock him or her out," she seethed. "I'm betting its one of the BB commanders that instigated this carnage."

Suddenly, a voice rang out from behind them. "Oh, good!" it called out. "The four of you are smarter than you look!" Dina turned along with her friends to see Cotton stalking toward them with careful, bird-like strides.

"You don't know how pleased I am to see you!" Cotton yelled over the noise. "I hear, Dina, that you've made it into the Caliosteo Cup final!" He shook his head and sighed. "I suppose I should congratulate you, but I'm still hoping you'll take my earlier advice and quit while you're still ahead. The end of the Caliosteo Cup will bring nothing good for you and your fellow Fighters."

Todd was confused. "What does he mean?" he asked Dina, to which she shrugged in response. "Well!" Cotton suddenly spoke up again. "This boy is a friend of yours, I assume?" He held out a hand. "Greetings, and many great hellos! I'm Cotton, former Cup Champion."

Dina held an arm out in front of Todd protectively as he shrank away from their enemy. "Not going to introduce yourself?" Cotton asked innocently. "Pity. So, what do you think of my plan? I'm not one for bragging, but you have to admit that invading Cranial City was unexpected."

He chuckled. "But this time, you can't stop me. Not even your strongest team member" – he jerked a thumb at Rupert – "could defeat me last time. And those weren't even my strongest Vivosaurs."

Dina growled audibly. He's right, she thought. I've seen how he treats his Vivosaurs – with affection and love. That's the proper way to do it, and he knows it. He's not a typical villain, and because of this, he's almost too tough to defeat.

There was a huge explosion behind them. As one, the Patrol Team turned to see a Boneysaur demolish part of the Fighter Station. Dina could easily see the elevator leading to Joe's suite through the wreckage.

Cotton noticed this. "See?" he said idly. "When Wildwest Tower comes crashing down to its foundations, there goes the heart of the Caliosteo Islands. Sure, you can just rebuild it, but everyone will know that we could easily destroy it again." Suddenly, the other three BB Brigade commanders appeared behind Cotton.

"With Joe Wildwest's building taken down," Cole started, "people will realize that nowhere is safe. They will be too frightened to finish the Caliosteo Cup."

Lester picked up where Cole had left off. "And with everyone's hopes crushed," he bellowed confidently, "we can easily drive out all the Fighters and claim the islands for ourselves! Har har har!" He guffawed loudly.

"Face it, maaaan," Lola spoke up now. "We've won. We've got, like, the most powerful Fighter in the islands on our side. There's totally nothing you can do but give up."

Dina clenched her jaw so tightly that it felt like her teeth would shatter. Rupert simply glared at the quartet. Todd was trembling, and Pauleen looked on hopelessly. They were doomed.

Cotton spoke again with an undercurrent of triumph in his voice. "Cole, you see to the destruction of Wildwest Tower. Lola, feel free to pick off any Fighters still here and scare them off the island. And Lester, you can take these weaklings."

Lester was about to protest, but Cotton neatly interrupted him. "Don't worry – if you get nervous and you don't know what to do, just do what your gut tells you to." He paused, then snickered, "Yes, that was a fat joke." Lester turned beet red, and the other two commanders each took their first steps toward their new goals.

But suddenly, a new voice rang out over the sounds of chaos around them. "Well, well, well," it said with a familiar accent. "I woulda never thought I'd see ya with these varmints, Cotton."

It was Joe Wildwest himself. The BB commanders paused and looked in his direction fearfully. Dina suddenly felt a surge of hope.

If Cotton was unnerved by the superstar Fighter's presence, he didn't show it. Instead, he spread out his arms as if welcoming him. "Well, look who it is," he said with a smirk. "Remember me? Your glorious, shining Ma" – Joe cut him off.

"Now, pardner," he said sadly, as if disappointed. "Things don't have ta be this way." But before he could continue, Cotton spoke again, this time in a voice heavy with contempt.

"Yes it does," he hissed. "The Caliosteo Cup must be stopped, if only for the greater good!" He shook his head and spread his wings threateningly. "Why am I even arguing with you? Nothing will change your mind, after setting up the Caliosteo Cup yet again and going through all this trouble just to get a new" – again, Joe cut him off.

"If ya say so," he sighed. "Ya know, you were a good feller once. You were alone, cast out by ev'ryone. But despite that, you were a good person. Now ya finally have comrades ta call yer own, and it's made ya into a no-good varmint with an appetite fer destruction and evil."

Over on the sidelines, Dina's mind drifted. She had heard all about how Cotton had been ignored and scorned by everyone he came across, just because he was a little – OK, a lot – different. Not even his parents had entirely liked him, or so she had heard, and he had lived a lonely life up until he won the Caliosteo Cup and, afterward, joined the BB Brigade. Why did he do that? He would have been honored and admired at last!

She brought herself back to reality as Cotton started to talk again. "You know, even if I didn't join the BB Brigade for the reason I did, I would have for another reason. After a week of being congratulated for winning the Cup, I would have been shamed yet again. People tend to move on from past events, and within days, I would be the same freakish mutant people have always seen me as! The BareBones Brigade accepted me for who I was! They have a place for me in their organization! I'm wanted amongst them!"

His voice had gone from neutral to furious to almost sad. Dina thought she could see something glistening near his eyes as he reached the end of his rant. For a split second, she almost felt sorry for him.

Joe Wildwest seemed touched as well. "Well, golly, pardner," he said. "I never expected ya to feel so strongly about this. But the fact still stands – yer assaultin' the very place ya once called home. The place where hundreds o' people still call home."

He took out three Dino Medals. "An' even if yer more powerful than anyone on these islands," he continued, "I still see no reason not ta just sit back an' watch ya destroy everything I built."

The look in Cotton's eye could have melted through iron. "This is my revenge," he hissed murderously. "It's time for me and my dragons to satiate our hunger for vengeance." He threw his head back and gave a piercing shriek that ripped through the air and instantly quieted the attacking Boneysaurs around them.

Suddenly, from a flaming building next to the Fossil Guild, a huge, monstrous Vivosaur leapt. The thing had bright blue fins adorning its back, legs, and tail, and its shark-like maw was crammed with needle-sharp teeth. A Lugmos, murmured Teffla from his Dino Medal. The Lugmos stood to stand protectively in front of its master, baring its teeth and growling.

Then, a green shape swooped down from the sky with a screech, landing elegantly on the ground. It was Cotton's Nycto Ace. It smoothly folded its wings and held itself with an air of combined formality and dignity. Dina had to admit one thing – Nycto Ace was, just as people often said about it, quite a beautiful creature.

Finally, from beneath the fallen bricks of a savaged building, exploded a massive serpentine monster. It was pure white all over, with shining scales and glaring yellow eyes. The fifty-foot snake coiled up beside Nycto Ace and Lugmos, hissing softly. It was a Tophis.

The serpents' eye suddenly swiveled in its socket to meet Dina's. The acidic yellow glare seemed to become harsher, and Dina felt as if the slitted pupil was staring straight through her and into her soul. Whimpering, she tried to hide herself behind Rupert as terror began to overtake her.

"What's wrong?" asked Rupert concernedly, putting a comforting hand on hers. Todd moaned and whispered to him, "Snakes are her worst fear." And indeed they were.

Without another word, Joe summoned his three Vivosaurs. There was Ptera, Tsintao, and Argento. Dina recognized his Ptera from the day it had rescued her and Todd, and his Tsintao as well. It had been one of the four choices Joe had given her for her first Vivosaur. But Argento was something new. The sauropod was the biggest she had ever seen, at 110 feet long and weighing at almost 100 tons. The mountains adorning its back seemed appropriate for such a titanic beast.

Cotton had the first move. "Tophis, use Cobra Twist on Argento!" Instantly, Tophis slithered rapidly toward Argento – with Dina shuddering at every move of its body – and lifted itself up off of the ground by lunging with astounding force. It coiled tightly around Argento's neck, the lack of air draining some of its LP and sending it into unconsciousness. There was a tremendous crash and a slight tremor when Argento hit the ground, fully asleep.

"Excellent," said Cotton, satisfied. "Now Lugmos, use Lugmos Tail on Tsintao." The shark-like Super Evolver swatted Tsintao twice with its immense, finned tail. It did a lot of damage, but the hadrosaur was otherwise OK.

"Purdy good," commented Joe with a grin. "Ya weren't the Champion fer nothin'. Now Ptera, use Great Vortex on Lugmos!" The pterosaur shrieked and soared straight at Lugmos, a hurricane of power whirling behind it. Ptera made a sharp turn, sending the winds right at Lugmos. It was battered badly, then came out of the attack in a state of deep rage.

Cotton swore under his breath. Now Dina could see Joe's strategy – he had taken the Fire-type out of the fight to stop it from causing serious harm to his two Earth-types. But by now, Argento had begun to wake up slowly.

"Tophis, send Argento back to sleep," he commanded. Tophis obediently repeated its last attack, successfully knocking Argento out again. "Now, Nycto Ace, use Nycto Star on Tsintao!"

Nycto Ace shot straight up off of the ground, carving a great backwards turn in the sky. At the apex of its somersault, it dove toward the ground and pulled up, skimming just above the ground at impossible speed. It slammed right into Tsintao with a critical hit. After dealing heavy damage, it carved a neat turn and landed lightly on its feet, back in its original position.

The Super Evolver caught Joe's Ptera's awed stare and solemnly nodded, acknowledging the presence of its fellow pterosaur. Dina, for a moment, forgot her fear of Tophis and peeked out from behind Rupert, observing Ptera's reaction – a dipping of the head along with a slight reddening of the area around its beak.

"Is Ptera… blushing?" she asked, half-bewildered and half-amused. Teffla spoke up indignantly. Hey, we do have hearts, you know, he protested. Dina quickly apologized, but Teffla didn't make Vivosaur love seem any less… weird.

Dina forced her attention back to the battle, as Joe's Tsintao socked Tophis right in its face. She would have cheered if not for the snake's enraged hiss, which made her hide back behind Rupert with a squeak. Then Ptera followed up with a Wing Cutter, spinning around Lugmos like a drill and battering it with more wind currents.

"Lugmos, use Charge," Cotton ordered, and the somewhat less enraged Lugmos began to store up its power, a nimbus of lightning bolts encasing it in an electrical aura. "And Tophis, use Cobra Twist again." The serpent sent Argento back into its deep slumber, as it had begun to wake up again.

"Tsintao, use yer Tsintao Roar!" commanded Joe, and Tsintao responded with a mighty howl that swept sand across the ground in a circular arc. All three of Cotton's Vivosaurs were dealt light damage.

Cotton smiled wickedly as Lugmos seemed to shake off its previous rage entirely, small lightning bolts still crackling around it. "Lugmos, use a Charged Lugmos Sphere!" Instantly, the electric charge concentrated itself around Lugmos' head, and the Super Evolver let loose with a huge ball of magma from its mouth. The lightning bolts traveled with it, giving the fiery projectile an electrical edge.

The lava-slash-lightning ball slammed right into Argento, simultaneously waking it up painfully and dealing an astronomical amount of damage. But, due to its amazing LP count, it held on with a little less than half of its LP remaining. That wasn't to say the attack wasn't painful – Argento reared up onto its hind legs and roared in agony, crashing back down upon its front legs as the roar petered out.

Joe winced visibly, then told Argento to strike back with Mountain Buster. It reared its tail back, then slammed it down upon Lugmos with earthquake force. Despite Lugmos' type advantage against Argento, the blow still hurt badly.

"Lugmos, use Charge again!" said Cotton, and as Lugmos did so, continued, "Nycto, give Ptera a Nycto Star!" With another aerial backflip to increase its speed, Nycto Ace shot straight at the other pterosaur, slamming into it and dealing a huge amount of damage. With such a low Defense, Ptera was almost out for the count.

"Tophis, finish it with Snake Bite!" Tophis reared up, poised in an S-shape, then lunged, throwing itself off of the ground and clamping down with its fangs. Ptera screeched as it was dragged to the ground and violently shaken, then dissolved back into a Dino Medal.

Dina let out another involuntary shudder as Joe picked up Ptera's medallion. She nervously checked her Fighter's Watch, and saw that Joe had acquired a ton of FP to make up for the loss. She watched as he ordered a Valiant Tackle from Tsintao and a Mountain Buster from Amargo.

Both Tophis and Lugmos were hit hard. Tophis clung to its last bit of LP, and Lugmos wasn't faring much better. Stamping his talon on the ground almost childishly, Cotton retorted, "Lugmos! Give him a Charged Lugmos Tail!"

The electric charge that had continued to surround Lugmos after its second Charge sped down and gathered at its tail. With a roar, Lugmos bashed Argento twice in the side of the face with it, large flashes of lightning occurring with each strike. But the sturdy Vivosaur still stood with a good amount of LP left.

Cotton chose to end his turn early to save up LP. But as Joe began his own turn, he chose to use Tsintao's Valiant Tackle to finish off Lugmos and thus, the main powerhouse on Cotton's team. His only response to the loss of Lugmos was a quiet growl and a slight tightening of his talons on the ground.

"Nycto Ace, get them with Nycto Hurricane!" Instantly, Nycto Ace leapt into the air and spread its wings, spinning faster and faster. Soon it was surrounded by a sphere of high-speed winds that continuously sent glowing green blades whirling out from it. Both Tsintao and Argento were hit hard. Tsintao couldn't take the punishing barrage of blades, and collapsed. It glowed briefly, then winked out and disappeared into its Dino Medal.

Now it was only Argento against Nycto Ace and Tophis. Cotton smirked and called out, "Tophis, its all or nothing with this move! Use your Tophis Hiss!"

The snake reared up with a loud shriek and threw its head back. Then it aimed at Argento, and out from its mouth blasted a huge ball of purple poison. If it hit, it would mean an instant defeat for Argento. However, the blast was so powerful, it caused Tophis to flinch badly from the recoil, throwing it back against the ground. The flinch was enough to cause the speeding projectile to miss Argento by a wide margin.

Then Tophis was gone, victim to a Mountain Buster attack. Crushed under Argento's tail, it faded with a final hiss.

Dina relaxed at the serpent's absence and came out from behind Rupert. He smiled at her renewed courage and put a hand on her shoulder. She looked to the other side and saw Todd trembling with such excitement that he looked like he was about to wet himself. Pauleen was almost as fidgety, muttering frantically under her breath.

"Nycto Ace!" screamed Cotton – he seemed desperate to win. "Use a Nycto Somersault attack!" Nycto Ace spread her wings, then flew swiftly across the ground, rocketing upwards at the last minute and whipping Argento under the chin with its tail. At first, it seemed that Argento would fall – but it still stood, with only a sliver of LP left.

"Time ta finish this, Argento!" Joe called triumphantly. "Use yer Mountain Crush!" Rupert's eyes widened, and Dina looked at him confusedly. Todd was jumping up and down, and across the battlefield, Cotton paled noticeably.

Argento reared up with a huge roar and smashed its feet down upon the ground with all of its might, creating a massive shockwave of dirt and earth to speed toward Nycto Ace. Before it hit, Dina could see Nycto Ace's shocked expression as it braced itself for the inevitable.

The shockwave hit with such force, Nycto Ace was sent spinning into the air, a comical sight due to its huge size. At the apex, it closed its eyes solemnly and plummeted downwards, wings trailing uselessly behind it. It landed with a tiny *plink* - it had retreated into its medallion. Joe had won the battle by a hair.

Cotton shrieked and ran over to gently cradle Nycto Ace in his hands, muttering soothingly to it. "Good girl," he murmured, looking close to tears. "You did your best, my friend. Rest for now."

The other three BB commanders looked stricken. Lola's normally heavy-lidded eyes were wide, Lester staggered backwards and almost fell, and Cole looked as if he were about to faint.

"Our first loss…" Cotton murmured sadly. "Appropriate, considering we were up against the ruler of the Caliosteo Fossil Park himself." Dina found herself questioning his choice of words. Ruler? she wondered. What does he mean by that?

"Sh-should we r-retreat, Cotton?" stuttered Cole uncertainly. Joe advanced, Argento backing him up. Lester was sweating profusely. Lola squeaked and reflexively grabbed Cotton's arm.

"Y-yes…" Cotton whispered, so quiet that it was almost inaudible. He had a terrified expression on his face. "Yes!" he repeated, louder this time, and took to the air with a squawk, followed on the ground by his comrades. They were gone within seconds.

Joe stared after them for a bit, then walked over to his Patrol Team. "Hot dog!" he exclaimed. "Looks like yet another attempt by the BB Brigade to ruin the Cup is finished!" Dina felt like cheering again, and this time she did. Rupert jumped at the sudden movement, then laughed in relief. Todd and Pauleen joined in.

"Sorry ya couldn't be of more help this time 'round," said Joe apologetically. "But I knew you'd lost against Cotton before, and I knew he planned on takin' down my tower. So I had ta take matters into my own hands."

Todd was shuddering with excitement. "No need to say sorry!" he yelped. "You defeated the best Fighter on the islands! You didn't even need the Patrol Team backing you up!"

Rupert nodded and smiled. "I say, I have just acquired a much more powerful respect for you," he congratulated him. Joe rubbed his arm modestly as Dina and Pauleen hugged in celebration.

"Now see here," said Joe. "We can't hold the Cup final 'til we repair some o' the damage 'round here. Don' worry, I'll make sure WildwestTower and the Fighter Station are the top priority!" As Dina and Rupert looked at each other excitedly, he continued, "Please, jus' be patient until then, ya hear?"

They nodded. There was nothing else to do for today, so the four members of the Patrol team decided to call it a day and go digging together.


Here we have kind of a more relaxed ending, with the four of them all going off to hang out for a day of R+R (rest and relaxation).

Bet you didn't see a full-scale invasion coming, huh? Cotton must really hate Joe Wildwest for his plan to go that far.

Well, the next chapter will hopefully be coming soon! Review please, and wait patiently!

TRIVIA: Nycto Ace, Tophis, and Lugmos were chosen for Cotton's team for a couple of reasons. One, they all look like dragons somewhat, and I positively LOVE dragons. Two, Tophis is my favorite Vivosaur because it's a snake. Three, Lugmos looks a lot like my favorite monster from Monster Hunter (Plesioth). And finally, Nycto Ace has been my favorite Super Evolver ever since I used her in FFC.