A/N. Here's Episode 3 of Hidden Shadows, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the chapter!

Disclaimer: I own NOTHING!

Episode 3: Hidden in Shadows PT. 3

The man from the Outskirt stand really hadn't lied when he had mentioned the beauty of Phenac City in a passing conversation before she had left the rustic, abandoned train engine to find the colosseum of said city. It really was gorgeous, a growing oasis in the midst of a seemingly endless desert, and Ash truly felt excitement at the very sight of it. If the colosseum was really as difficult as the old man had said, then she was sure to have fun while in there. She could barely manage to make herself wait. But first she had to stop by the pokémon center to heal up her pokémon, especially Pidgeot, who had bothered to fly her all the way here in the hot, blazing sun. It wouldn't have been right otherwise.

Still, Ash had to admit that despite her excitement, things seemed a bit intimidating. The structures were new and unfamiliar to her, and though she was used to bustling cities to a certain extent, she was not use to this place for sure. Everything was so clean and new looking, and a lot of places didn't seem familiar at all. She couldn't entirely sure where the building she was looking for was, as there was no way for her to completely tell. None of the brilliantly white structures stuck out to her in any particular way to signify that they were a place of healing where one and their pokémon could rest for a while. It didn't help that she was too nervous to actually walk up to any of the people walking in the streets to ask, a rarity in itself that she wasn't entirely sure how to deal with.

"PIKACHU!" the voice came out as a shock as Ash turned around in near panic, automatically jumping to the worst conclusion as to why her dear partner would be calling out to her, until she realized that it was fine and not even that far away from her. Sighing with barely withheld relief she walked over to pick the little mouse up, giving it a somewhat tight squeeze in affection as she tried to find what may have caused such a reaction from her starter. The yellow mouse tugged at short black strands of hair as if to gain her attention again, which was always ready for it to have when it wanted, she would never ignore her pokémon in any way, shape, or form. They were too much like family for her. "Pika-pi! Pikachu-pika!"

As if to point out the most obvious thing in the world, her pokémon pointed up to the many roofs that sat high above her head, just as white as the walls that held them up, and drew her attention to what looked like a giant, holographic pokéball. She almost slapped herself for her stupidity at not having noticed such a detail sooner and immediately ran off in the direction of slightly long sought building, skidding to a stop as she finally got to the sliding door.

"Ohayo Nurse Joy!" she called, a greeting used purely out of habit from her old home region as she walked in, completely ignoring the odd looks that the occasional fellow trainer shot her as she approached the counter. It wasn't like she could really help it, old habits die hard as the saying goes, and this particular one was as old and deeply engrained as herself.

"Oh, good morning there, how can I help you?" the forever kind woman asked, a gentle smile on her face as the two bowed in politeness.

"Could you please heal my pokémon?" Ash asked, removing her pokéballs from her personage and placing them all on the counter, her pikachu next as it cooed at the familiar woman.

"Of course, just a moment please." The woman answered in return picking both the pokéballs and the small, yellow mouse up and disappearing somewhere into the back.

Ash adored pokémon centers, both for what they stood for and the valiant women who ran the facilities with such kind smiles and friendly dispositions, so she never minded paying such places a visit. It was good for her pokémon and besides, the people within were usually very nice and helpful. What was a problem however, was the wait that she had to go through when her pokémon needed healing. She wasn't one raised to have much patience for anything really, despite her own mother's efforts to change the fact, and waiting was always difficult for her simply because she wasn't one to slow down. She preferred rushing about, using the almost endless amounts of energy she always seemed to have for something that she herself deemed productive. So though it was for a good reason, she quickly found herself bored out of her mind as she sat on one of the many benches within the lobby and staring at the holographic, scaled model of the very city she was currently wandering in.

She was so lost in whatever thoughts that she was having, she almost had a heart attack when somebody suddenly addressed her, barely managing to keep herself from falling out of her seat in shock. Her surprise was only furthered when she realized that the speaker was actually one of the people who had walked into the Outskirts Stand, the sandy blonde with the strange white band across his nose and almost glowing yellow eyes that mystified her to no end, having never seen the color on anything but a pokémon or cartoon character.

"Hey there." The older boy greeted, easily sliding into the spot next to her as he seemed to stretch, getting whatever kinks lay within his body before finally seeming to relax. Not far off from their location, stood the two people he had entered with back at that abandoned train station, the orange haired girl looking like a nervous wreck as she seemed to scan the pokémon center for something or another. The red haired boy wasn't far off, doing the same but looking a whole lot calmer as he leaned nonchalantly against a wall.

"Oh hi." She greeted, shaking her head in a strange gesture as she tried to gather her wits about her again. She obviously needed to start working on her observation skills, otherwise this was probably going to happen a whole lot, and she didn't much feel like getting scarred to death everytime she walked into a building and started concentrating on something.

"Sorry if I scared you there, I have a habit of being real quiet." The boy apologized, Ash wincing slightly at how obvious she must have been when he had showed up.

"It's fine." She assured, giving a sheepish laugh as she scratched habitually at the back of her head before suddenly getting really excited. "Hey, weren't you at the Outskirts Stand?" She knew the answer of course, she hadn't forgotten his and his friends' faces so soon, but she never liked awkward silences, and when it came to greetings such as these, they had a tendency to fall in such silences all too easily. She had become very good at keeping a conversation from dying by whatever means necessary when growing up, as conversation had been difficult for her to have back then, having been too dissimilar to the other kids around her age. She still didn't know why of course, but she also realized that her thoughts were running on a tangent again and away from the conversation at hand. Quickly reeling her wandering attention back in, she put her full focus back on the boy sitting next to her.

"Yeah, the name's Wes by the way, over there is Rui, and the redhead is Michael." As if to further the point of introducing both of his companions, he motioned for them to come closer, both doing so, if a bit hesitantly. They nodded in greeting, Ash easily returning the gesture with a small wave of the hand as she began to swing her feet about.

"Nice to meet you, the name's Ash." She greeted back with one of her characteristic smiles, all teeth and closed eyes that no matter how often she did it, always seemed genuine even though the whole gesture itself was usually used to throw people off. She knew that for a fact, as she had done it herself on multiple different occasions. You closed your eyes when you smile only because you know for a fact it won't reach your eyes, and that's the last thing you need if for people to stick around and bug you about it. Even if it is actually good for you in the end.

"Likewise, so what are you doing here in Orre, you don't look like you're from around these parts.

"M'not." She said with a shrug of shoulders, easily dismissing the fact that she was a foreign trainer as she continued. "I'm from Kanto, really though I haven't been home in a while. I actually came here right after my last little adventure through a place called Unova for a change of pace."

"And what would that change of pace be?" At the question, she couldn't help the confident grin that came to her face, causing the boy, Wes to quirk an eyebrow at her in further questioning as she seemed to get a little mischievous.

"The colosseums. I hear they're really tough, and so I came all the way here instead of going directly home to take a whack at them." She explained, moving her hand across the empty air in front of her to show what she meant.

"Heh, I see. Well why don't you and I have a pokémon battle?"

"Why's that?"

"Well, you're right about the colosseums being tough. What better way to see if you're truly ready to take them on by battling me?" he replied easily, hands thrown up as if it were the most obvious reason in the world. Ash's face scrunched up in slight suspicion as she observed Wes, looking him up and down for a moment before focusing on his eyes with a strange sort of intensity.

Wes himself became quickly unnerved when he noticed her eyes focusing on him. If he had ever felt like somebody was staring into his soul, then this eleven year old girl, Ash, was staring right through him. With all the age and experience of somebody who had seen enough to know that not everybody had the best intentions in mind, and that not everybody could be so easily trusted. Whatever she was looking for within him, she seemed to have found, as she finally broke eye contact to stand up and stretch.

"Sure, but you may have to wait a while. My pokémon are all being healed at the moment by Nurse Joy." She explained as she popped her neck, a hand lifting up to scratch at her head once again.

"Fine." The wait was really non-existent though, for as if on cue, Nurse Joy came out, Ash's pokéballs arranged neatly on a tray and her pikachu sitting obediently behind them, looking completely content and well rested.

"Oh there you are!" Ash said as she easily maneuvered around Wes and his friends, running up to Nurse Joy to greet the little electric mouse and to gather her pokéballs again. "Thanks again Nurse Joy."

"Not a problem at all dear. You be careful now, okay?" the woman said as she gave the younger girl an affectionate pat on the head, ruffling her already messy hair as she finished fastening all of her pokéballs to the belt around her waist, and her pikachu had climbed onto her shoulder. Ash nodded her head, rubbing cheeks with the electric type before returning to Wes' side.

"Okay, so apparently you don't have to wait." Ash replied with a mischievous grin on her face, looking for all intense and purposes, the child she really was. Returning the expression, Wes motioned with his head for her to follow him outside, the other two not far behind them.

"Okay, so this will be full six-on-six double battle. You know what that is don't you right?" Wes called from his place on the other side of the battlefield. They were currently standing in an unused battlefield behind the pokémon center, one on either side as they face off against each other. Off on the sidelines, stood Michael and Rui, looking rather nervous for some odd reason, or at least Rui was. Michael seemed to be the most calm out of everybody present, and Ash couldn't help but note the metallic glint that came from his left arm, some sort of metal device wrapped securely around the limb.

"Yep! Both trainers have two pokémon each on the battlefield. Let me guess, first one to clear out the opponents field wins?"

"Yep." Wes responded to the question, hand flexing slightly as they inched towards the pokéballs lying hidden underneath the long blue trench coat he wore.

"Ok then! Pidgeot, Bulbasaur! I choose you!" the girl said, throwing out two of the original members of her team onto the battlefield. Both pokémon shook themselves slightly as they appeared in a burst of brilliant light, looking ready to tear into whatever pokémon her opponent sent out.

"A flying/normal type and grass/poison huh?" Wes murmured to himself as he sent out one of his own flying types as well as another. "Come on out Skarmory, Houndoom!" The two pokémon released a loud roar as they took to the battlefield, the metallic bird already in the air and ready while the flaming dog began growling, hackles raised and ready for combat as well. "Lady's first!" Suddenly Michael stepped up from the sidelines, leaving Rui on her own as he lifted both hands up, apparently taking on the impromptu role of judge for the pokémon battle they were having.

"Let the battle begin!" he called out, rolling his eyes as Wes seemed to nonchalantly brush off the challenge at hand.

"Lady's first!"

"Fine, but don't go crying when you wind up losing!" Ash replied, a near manic grin on her face now as pointed forward. "Pidgeot, they seem a bit too sleepy, let's wake 'em up with Hurricane! Go!" The large bird screeched in reply before flapping its wings. A strong wind was kicked up, similar to a gust, before it suddenly got a whole lot worse, a mini tornado of sorts suddenly flying across the field.

"Whoa, quick get out of there!" The two pokémon were quick to attempt an escape, the dark/fire-type being a little slow and getting caught on the side as the strong funnel of overpowered wind disappeared, leaving a rather nasty bruise behind. "Houndoom! You okay?" Wes couldn't help the wince that came to his face at the sight of the injury, gaze seeming to drift over to Rui and Michael, who both shook their heads as if to reassure him of something. It was miniscule however, and Ash completely missed the gesture, far too focused in the battle to take notice of anything going on outside of it. The dark/fire-type growled in assurance, giving the injury a quick lick before refocusing its attention on the battle at hand. "Great! Skarmory, let's return the favor! Use Steel Wing! Houndoom, Flamethrower!"

"Pidgeot! See if you can blow that Flamethrower back! Bulbasaur, use Vine Whip to stop Skarmory!" Wes' eyes widened at the commands, watching with astonishment as both pokémon managed to do exactly as told. Her bulbasaur easily taking hold of the steel bird and keeping it in the air, unable to go anywhere at all, while the flaming attack was blown out like a candle. "Great! Now Bulbasaur, throw Skarmory into the air! Pidgeot, you know what to do!" both pokémon cried out in agreement as Bulbasaur slammed the steel-type into the ground before throwing into the air, stunning it enough for her own flying-type to fly up from below and hit it with a Steel Wing of its own. Skarmory cried out in pain as it was left to plummet helplessly to the ground, hitting the earth with a resounding thud before slowly picking itself up.

"You okay Skarms?" he called, using the admittedly ridiculous nickname he had given the steel-type when he was younger and it had belonged to another trainer. The pokémon screeched in reply, trying to look big despite its injuries. "That was a pretty good combo. I didn't actually expect your bulbasaur to be able to stop Skarmory like that. It's stronger than it looks." Wes complimented as he seemed to eye the grass-type contemplatively. "Is that your starter by any chance?" he asked. She really couldn't blame him for the question, in Kanto, the normal starters were Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. Unless one had a friend or family member from another region who was willing to spoil a just starting trainer a little, they were what one was usually stuck with. Ash had been a special case of sorts however, as since she had woken up late for her journey, she hadn't been able to get one of said starters until much later, and she hadn't had anybody to gift her with a pokémon from another region. She was just so lucky that Prof. Oak had been kind enough to give her Pikachu.

"Nope, I caught this guy in the wild. My starter is one of my best buds in the whole wide world, Pikachu." Ash said, giving the aforementioned yellow mouse a pat on the head as she stated it loud and proud for all to hear. Her answer seemed to leave all three in a state of suspended contemplation. She almost hadn't noticed, too caught up in assessing her opponents pokémon to see how much longer it would take to bring them down. She was curious when she finally noticed, but there was a battle going on, she'd have to sate her curiosity later when her pokémon weren't facing off against another and needing all of her attention to win.

"I see…" Wes murmured quietly to himself, eying the electric-type as though it was something to be wary of, before diverting his attention back onto the battlefield. 'If what Rui said was true… And what this kid said was right… Then this might be a bit more difficult than originally thought…But still-' "Skarmory, get ready! Go as high into the air as you possibly can, Houndoom, charge up your energy, we're going for a big attack!" He may not have been facing a shadow pokémon, but if he wanted to, he'd have to hurry up. The longer he prolonged the battle, the more of a chance there would be for said shadow pokémon to slip from his grasp. "Skarmory! Sky Attack! Houndoom, Overheat!"

A/N. Hope you guys enjoyed the chapter and thanks for reading! Please leave a review and see ya!