Before I let you all read on, I might as well keep you updated on what's happened the past month in a few brief sentences. First, my brother is now a newlywed, for those that have been wondering what's going on with him. Yay!
Spring term is kicking my butt with assignments with short deadlines, in addition to my part-time job, as lenient as it's been on hours. Not yay.
And now, Revival at the Champions League has reached its one year anniversary since its creation, which was back on May 21 (I would've updated then for some significance, but lost track of time… Oh, well.). Big yay!
One last announcement:
I understand that there have been some of you that keep bringing up the chapter where Iris faced Georgia and her newly caught Jigglypuff, claiming that Dragon Rage and Outrage wouldn't have any effect. I probably have mentioned this, but that was before Fairy-type's strengths and weaknesses were revealed and confirmed, and it's already been a long time since then. I'm putting this up now here as a final reminder, but now, I guess I should ignore more reviews and complaints that keep bringing that up. Even now, I'm getting tired repetitively explaining that situation.
On other matters, thank you all for your support and encouragement. It's readers like you that help make writing and continuing this story all the more worthwhile.
The next week…
"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the water field this fine Monday morning!" the stand-in announcer greeted, inciting equally vigorous cheers from various attendees seating all around the stadium. "Round three of the preliminary rounds have just begun a few hours ago, and I must say that we, representing the Pokémon League Committee, are very impressed of the battles that took place."
The water field stadium was particularly filled to the brim with small groups of spectators struggling to find additional seating. Many have looked forward to this match, considering who the current combatants were going to be. In addition to the random Pokémon fans, there was a trio of notable Trainers sitting within the middle row opposite of where the referee usually faced.
"Gee, Anabel, who knew you wanted to spend your morning watching his battle live?" Greta mused aloud. "I know he's gotten stronger since we last fought and all, but seeing as our matches won't be until near the end of the week, we could take this opportunity to train some more if we want to reach his level."
"I know," Anabel replied, not taking her eyes off the large water battlefield. "But I promised that I'd watch and support him for his match. Plus, it would be beneficial to know how he would handle this match."
"I'd say his chances of winning are slim to none," Thorton spoke up coolly.
"What do you mean by that, Thorton?" Anabel asked, pushing Greta back on her seat to see the Sinnoh Frontier Brain sitting at her other side.
"I have to agree with Anabel on this one," Greta added. "You've also watched the guy defeat his last two opponents without losing a Pokémon. I think he has a fair chance to win."
"Listen, I'm not doing this to get you worked up, not on purpose anyway," Thorton muttered with an additional sigh. "Although, it is painfully obvious on how you feel about him, Salon Maiden. While emotions may be your area of specialty, I excel in reading and gathering statistics on many stimuli, such as your particular 'reactions' every time he is mentioned by word of mouth among our ranks."
"Wh-What's that got to do with anything?" Anabel retorted, trying to mentally repress the warm red blush surfacing on her face upon Thorton's mention of her feelings.
"He does have a point, girl," Greta pointed out.
"Not helping at all…"
"The data doesn't lie," the Sinnoh Factory Head reaffirmed, folding his arms and leaning forward on his lap. "It's not in his favor, even with his current performance, to withstand the assault of a member of an Elite Four. His last two opponents were amateurs at best. Ash is out of his league for this one."
"I'm no computer expert, but data can be outdated," Anabel pointed out, frowning.
"Um, Thorton, why are you even sitting with us in the first place?" Greta gained the nerve to ask.
At another part of the stadium…
"You're free to admit that you enjoy coming to his battles," Sabrina stated, sending a glance to her unlikely companion. "I know I do, as does Haunter."
"Haw Haw Haw!" Haunter cackled, waving a miniature flag with a chibi-formed face of its favored Trainer in battle in each hand.
"He's been interesting ever since I first met him," Paul admitted, arms crossed while not looking back at the Saffron City Gym Leader. "He's proved his competence as a Pokémon Trainer time to time, but now, this battle should be a sufficient test to see where he's at now."
"It's wise to take note for your future training sessions, as you already know, I can help you with them," Sabrina reminded him. "You can only do so much in your preparation against your future battle against Pyramid King Brandon. I wonder what will happen when you face him next."
Near a front row of the stadium…
"I'm so pumped to see this battle go down!" Misty exclaimed. "Go, Lorelei!"
"Misty! We're supposed to be cheering on Ash," May berated, receiving a sheepish grin from the Cerulean City Gym Leader in response.
"I know that, but I can't help myself," Misty admitted guiltily, all the while grinning like a fool. "Lorelei's been my idol for who knows how long!"
"But Lorelei's an Ice specialist, not Water," Max corrected.
"Please don't mention 'ice'," Iris mumbled, shivering to herself. "Or fairies, on that matter…"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Misty waved off casually, staring back into the field as the Trainer spaces opened up and the contestants were rising out of the ground. "I'm sure Ash will do fine. Even if he doesn't advance to the later rounds, we can't say he didn't try hard enough."
"So much for being 'true blue friends' with Ash," May sighed.
"Tracey did warn me a while back on how Misty would get concerning Lorelei of the former Kanto Elite Four," Brock brought up. "And what are the odds that Ash is facing off against her this early on?"
"My deductive guess is that the Pokémon League Committee wants to sample Ash's style some more with someone that packs a more potent punch than his previous opponents," Cilan explained. "It's not unheard of for a member of an Elite Four member to lose in the preliminaries, but that's only when one of two notable conditions take place."
"The first is when one Elite Four member is placed against another early on," Brock answered.
"And the second is when there's a discovered Trainer with Champion potential rising up like a soft soufflé," Cilan continued. "Usually the battle matchups are randomized one-hundred percent, but with additional input such as potential and power, the odds of facing a higher-ranked Trainer tend to be closer."
"But Lorelei, along with Agatha, were considered to be inactive members of the Kanto Elite Four before Lance formed a new branch of the Elite Four in Johto, which also has taken precedence over Kanto as well with him being the Champion Master over both regions," Max shared inquisitively. "I'm not saying it as a bad thing, but just how good are they still?"
"Just remember that there hasn't been a Trainer deemed strong enough to claim the title of Elite Four that has won the Indigo Conference as of yet," Brock added.
"Guys, it's bad enough that everyone's putting pressure on Ash to rise to the top because of his performance so far," May spoke up. "Along with Misty's idle worship of Lorelei—."
"It's pronounced 'idol'!" Misty interrupted briefly.
"Anyway, it's bad enough all this is happening, but I'm actually still worried about Dawn," May resumed. "I know she could've stayed around to at least watch and support Ash since she wanted to catch him the most out of all of us."
"Speaking of missing, I'm surprised we haven't seen Georgia around," Iris remarked offhandedly. "It's not that I miss her or anything like that, but I know that Dragon Buster was keen in seeing Ash's battles for her own study and all that junk."
Outside the water field stadium…
"Of all the days to sleep in by accident, it had to be today," Georgia grumbled to herself, trapped in a fairly long line extending from inside the stadium itself. "At least I'm already a few feet close to the entrance. Honestly, it can't be that hard to find a seat, even in an Elite Four battle."
"You should've then seen Phoebe of the Hoenn Elite Four's battle first thing in the morning," a guy behind her remarked. "Fans had practically camped out around the main stadium where she was scheduled to compete the day before just to get perfect seating."
"Not helping my case here, bub," Georgia replied dully, looking off to the side of the stadium. "I just hope the excitement doesn't end by the time we find our seats. I'm sure Ash should be fine."
"Oh, are you an Ash fan?"
"You could say that. He's certainly a top-rate Trainer in my books, more competent than this Dragon Trainee I know. I don't think she's even trained for our approaching rematch yet. She's really been slacking off since coming here to Kanto."
"Well, I didn't need to know that," the guy said, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. "I just wanted to know if you supported Ash or not?"
"I said I did, alright?" Georgia repeated, sounding rather impatient before turning to her mystery companion, who appeared as a rather hefty and tall young man with long bright orange hair tied into a tail on the crown of his head and dressed in a peculiar, traditional robe of two contrasting shades of red, specifically pink on the top and maroon from the waist down. "Hmm, do I know you? You kind of remind me of someone I know from Unova, mainly because of size. I think he's supposed to be competing here in the Champions League too. What was his name anyway?"
"Must be coincidence," he shrugged before taking up a confident stance. "Anyway, my name's Morrison, a big friend and rival of Ash's from the Hoenn region. I'm also competing in the Champions League and I hope to have a rematch with him here soon. He got to face Katie a couple weeks ago, and the week before that, that guy, Jump, who I faced in the Ever Grande preliminary rounds."
"Sounds legit to me," Georgia concluded, looking back ahead to the front of the line, in which it had decreased majorly during her conversation with the strange Hoenn native. "Well, nice meeting you, Morrison, but I've got a seat to catch."
"Hey, wait!" Morrison cried out as Georgia ran ahead into the stadium. With a heavy sigh, he decided to run up after her. "I didn't even catch your name! Do you want to sit together?"
"Anyway, Georgia's going to miss out on this," Iris sighed lightheartedly with a shrug. "Such a little kid."
May frowned at Iris for interrupting her, only to shake it off and resume her train of thought about the missing Twinleaf Town Coordinator.
"As I was saying, I'm really worried about Dawn," May admitted. "She seemed to have been in a bad mood the past week before she left to compete in an upcoming Contest."
"Which is something you'll have to do eventually," Max pointed out once more.
"Will you guys stop interrupting me already?!" May demanded, causing most of the males and Iris to cower from her surprisingly frightening tantrum.
"Yes, ma'am," they said with quick bows of their heads.
"Thank you," May replied, resuming her sweet disposition.
"If I may add something, May?" Brock offered with a raised hand.
"Yeah, sure…," the Petalburg City Coordinator sighed, feeling that this was as much word as she could get in.
"Dawn's been going through a rough phase the past week," Brock explained. "She wouldn't tell me or Iris what happened when we found her after our momentary separation."
"All we were able to get out of her was that she managed to run into Ash, but didn't say much about her encounter with him," Iris continued. "It really left me to wonder what he did to her to make her so sad."
"Really? She seemed alright to me," Max commented. "We even said bye to her before she left New Island and she promised to come back as soon as the Contest ends."
"Still, I'm worried if she'll be able to concentrate for that Contest," May added as an afterthought.
"Everyone, we'll settle what's been happening to Dawn soon," Brock spoke up. "The battle's just about to begin."
"Now this is a treat for today, folks!" the water field commentator spoke jubilantly. "This is one of the first Elite Four matches for the third round, the first to take part here on the water field. To grace the battlefield this time, our combatant is none other than the famous Lorelei of Floe Island! And facing her will be Kanto's favored rising star, Ash of Pallet Town!"
The audience cheered loudly as the Trainers faced each other down from the distance. A spark of familiarity had started the moment they had locked eyes. Ash seemed to have tensed up while Lorelei appeared relaxed, though an expression of fondness could be interpreted from her face.
"It feels like it's been forever since we last met, young man," Lorelei began. "It's crystal clear to me that you've changed since the Orange Islands. Your talent and natural growth shines like the morning seas. You don't appear as reckless as you used to be, but then again, you've probably been aiming to battle me again someday to prove your power, correct?"
"… Yes," Ash replied with a determined nod, taking out a Poké Ball from his belt. "… … I'm ready for you this time."
"Just so you know," Lorelei continued, using a free hand for a quick dust-off on her black vest and short conservative purple skirt attire while the other hand held a Poké Ball. "I've also been looking forward to this as well. I didn't use my time just to sell lectures at 'moderately economical' prices." The serene look behind her glasses instantly hardened, her red eyes incredibly becoming as cold as crystalline ice. "I also had to maintain my image as a member of the Elite Four over the years. I've balanced myself through the toughest trials the nature of water can throw at me. Now, come to me, Ash."
"Bulbasaur… I choose you!"
Both summoned Pokémon materialized on small circular platforms floating about the rectangular battlefield. Ash's Bulbasaur took form first, stationing himself firmly and undaunted against the seemingly dopey appearance that his opponent had. The Seed Pokémon narrowed his look, knowing that he and the rest of his fellow Pokémon have trained for this kind of moment.
"Lorelei is starting off with a favorite of hers, Slowbro, while Ash has chosen Bulbasaur, who, according to our records, has also been a longtime Pokémon of his," the commentator narrated. "This should turn out to be an interesting first round."
"Why's Ash starting off with Bulbasaur?" Max questioned. "He's battling an Elite Four member. He needs a stronger Pokémon like Sceptile if he's going to have a chance against Lorelei."
"Don't be quick to judge, Max," May reprimanded. "Remember, Bulbasaur's been with Ash for a long time, almost to the point when Ash started his journey. I have no doubt that Bulbasaur should be able to hold its own against Slowbro, considering how much stronger Ash has gotten now."
"Maybe so, but I think it was also a good idea for Ash to use Bulbasaur to gauge what he will be dealing with against Lorelei," Brock added.
"I can't wait to see how this turns out," Misty remarked.
"Let the battle begin!" the referee declared, holding up his arms in the air before directing an arm towards Ash's direction. "Ash gets the first move."
"Bulbasaur… Razor Leaf!"
Bulbasaur aimed his bulb in Slowbro's direction as he sent out a flurry of sharply spinning leaves intended to strike down the Hermit Crab Pokémon in one possible swoop.
"Slowbro, into the water!"
With surprising acrobatics, Slowbro was able to lean back on its Shellder-covered tail and casually flip into the body of water as Bulbasaur's Razor Leaf slashed at its former platform. A few seconds once the Grass attack had ended, the circular platform became divided into many broken pieces that floated into different directions across the water.
Bulbasaur landed back on his original platform, mildly frustrated that Slowbro swam away. His anger turned into determination as he kept a vigilant eye to where the Hermit Crab Pokémon would possibly reappear.
"Slowbro, Zen Headbutt! No holding back!"
Ash and Bulbasaur waited for Slowbro's attack. The battle scene was unsettling as Slowbro was nowhere to be found and that everything above the surface of the water was calm and peaceful. Ash's eyes widened sharply underneath the visor of his cap; he immediately deduced what was coming next.
"… Jump now!"
The command came in a second late as circular ripples ran across the water around Bulbasaur's platform. The sudden tremor caused the Seed Pokémon to temporarily losing his footing, especially as the tremor intensified.
Slowbro reemerged in the most brutal way possible, charging through from underneath Bulbasaur with its head empowered with psychic energy. Bulbasaur was sent flying as Slowbro destroyed his platform with a surprise Zen Headbutt.
"That was a clever tactic Slowbro used, making full use of its Water and Psychic abilities," the commentator narrated. "That Zen Headbutt seemed to have given Bulbasaur some major damage! It sure doesn't help that Bulbasaur is also part-Poison-type."
"Bulbasaur… Solar Beam!"
Ash made no hesitation in retaliating, to which Bulbasaur, despite being currently airborne, had no problem in following through. He garnered bright solar energy into his bulb. The shortened distance between him and the sun proved to be rather convenient in regards to the charge time of Solar Beam.
"Slowbro, use Ice Beam!
The Hermit Crab Pokémon charged up its own attack in its gaping mouth, only to unleash it moments later before Bulbasaur had a chance to fire his attack. Fortunately for Bulbasaur, Slowbro's Ice Beam was still a fair distance away, right as he turned over and aimed the opening of his bulb at the incoming attack.
"Bul-bah!" Bulbasaur growled, releasing the Solar Beam.
The two brilliant attacks came to their inevitable collision and ultimate stalemate. Despite Bulbasaur having the type advantage in regards to type-attack mechanics, the Solar Beam was unable to penetrate through the Ice Beam.
A heavy explosion, accompanied with a thick haze, erupted as a result of the conflict. Lorelei, Ash, the referee, and the spectators sitting close to the front protected their faces with their arms from the backlash. The aftermath was quick and painless, yet the smoke remained, as well as Bulbasaur's disappearance.
"What's going on?" Lorelei muttered, struggling to see the battlefield. "Where did Bulbasaur go?"
"… Leech Seed!"
Lorelei narrowed her eyes to see closer. Though they were tiny and barely visible from her end, she was able to determine that those were Leech Seeds raining out from the slow-clearing haze. A few managed to land on Slowbro, who was still floating above the surface, while the rest scattered and landed on the water field's surface.
The Leech Seeds that landed on Slowbro sprang to life, sprouting into thick vines that quickly ensnared its entire body, including its tail. Its usual blissful expression was momentarily replaced with pain as the Leech Seed began to gradually drain it of its energy. Even the Shellder on its tail showed discomfort with its visible eyes and its attempt to bite down harder on Slowbro's tail in order to get its host to make the pain stop.
Bulbasaur landed on a new platform, smirking in contentment that the trap worked.
"Oh, my!" the commentator exclaimed. "Ash and Bulbasaur have managed to turn the tables with Leech Seed. However, will this be enough to handle against Lorelei and her Slowbro?"
"So that Solar Beam was meant to be a distraction in order to plant that Leech Seed into Slowbro," Paul played back. "Using a powerful move like Solar Beam without the expectation of knocking out the opponent with it, now that's plain trickery."
"Would you have thought of that if you were in his shoes?" Sabrina asked.
"Hmph, you know I would have handled things a bit differently. But then again, this is an Elite Four member he's facing now, not some random, everyday, run-of-the-mill Pokémon Trainer."
"So you are coming to the consensus that it'll take more than overwhelming power to deal with Master Trainers like Lorelei, right?"
Paul said nothing else, but it was clear to Sabrina what he would have said and done. She smiled to herself and resumed watching the battle. At least he wasn't as stubborn as he used to be.
"A clever tactic, if I may say," Lorelei admitted, strangely remaining calm despite her Pokémon clearly suffering in the water. "As long as Slowbro stays in, that Leech Seed will wash away its remaining endurance. Normally, that would scare any Trainer to making a substitution." She coolly narrowed her eyes while maintaining that eerily serene look on her face. "But I'm not just 'any Trainer,' remember?"
"… Bulbasaur… Razor Leaf!"
Ash went on the offensive this time, though it was clear that the Kanto Elite Four member had provoked him to make the attack on the spot. Bulbasaur sent in a barrage of sharp leaves at the vulnerable Slowbro, who was struck and unable to do anything against the Razor Leaves striking its head and upper body for the time being.
"Slowbro, turn over!"
Shifting its weight through the water, Slowbro was able to turn about and use Shellder to defend itself from Bulbasaur's merciless attack. The Razor Leaves were heard clanking upon striking Shellder's hard body. The Seed Pokémon became frustrated, knowing how powerful of a defense the Shellder on Slowbro's tail had.
"… Use Vine Whip!"
Bulbasaur ceased launching any more Razor Leaves and immediately switched to using his vines to attack. True to the namesake, Bulbasaur was whipping the Hermit Crab Pokémon as hard as he could, but Slowbro had managed to submerge its main body underwater while leaving its back exposed. Its back, of course, was already protected by a tough Shellder as it was.
"Slowbro's proving more resilient than we thought by using the Shellder on its tail to defend itself," the commentator pointed out.
"… Throw it out of the water!"
The vines stopped whipping and instead ensnared Slowbro's waist. With astonishing strength, Bulbasaur managed to lift Slowbro out of the water and toss it into the air. Slowbro was seen as motionless as a statue while it was thrown high up despite the Leech Seed still actively sapping away its strength.
"… Now use Razor Leaf!"
In the heat of his rising aggression, Bulbasaur sent out another flurry of Razor Leaves that were launched and spinning faster than before. He was certainly getting sick of being mocked by Slowbro's oblivious expression.
"Slowbro, use Psychic on the Razor Leaf!"
Ash and Bulbasaur were caught off guard as the Razor Leaves were captured by the Hermit Crab Pokémon's psychic power. However, instead of coming to a stop, the leaves were still spinning at the same moment as they were launched. With an expression indicated by Slowbro's face, the Razor Leaves continued their path towards Slowbro, but at an even greater speed.
"What's this?" the commentator remarked. "Instead of stopping the attack, Lorelei had Slowbro continue it. Just what is this brilliant Ice Master up to now?"
The Razor Leaves flew through and past Slowbro. Its eyes had stopped glowing, indicating its use of Psychic having ended. In a moment following the end of Psychic, Slowbro lifted and flexed out its limbs, breaking free of the Leech Seed vines that constricted and drained its power, much to Ash and Bulbasaur's dismay.
"Now I've really seen it all," Greta commentated, palpably horrorstruck from the frightening clever display that just took place. "She led Ash into attacking on purpose in order to weaken Leech Seed's hold. And with Slowbro out of the water, she was able to take Bulbsaur's Razor Leaf attack for her own and finish the job."
"This is highly illogical for me," Thorton scoffed. "Leech Seed can't be rendered as useless as that. There's just no way!"
"I thought you were rooting for Lorelei to win," Greta brought up.
"Hey, I only stated the facts as they were. Lorelei is a very experienced Ice-type Specialist, but even what she did here just doesn't compute well with me."
"Heh, just goes to show that anything done with Ash can and will be made possible."
"Oh, now you're trying to attribute this scene to him now. That's just plain nuts."
How did I end up sitting next to them? Anabel thought, keeping an uneasy smile while being forced to overhear her young colleagues' bickering once more.
"I'm not done yet," Lorelei announced. "Slowbro, dive down with Zen Headbutt!"
"Sloah… brooah!" Slowbro bellowed, clamping its limbs together to form a concentrated psychic-powered missile against its diminutive opponent.
It then fell out of the sky like a lead weight, headfirst. In addition to the psychic skullcap that streamed through the air, additional sparks of friction ignited. There was no doubt that the impact caused by this Zen Headbutt would be explosive.
Bulbasaur stared up at the incoming Hermit Crab Pokémon. He knew the hit would be fatal, yet his Trainer has not said a command. Nonetheless, he was going to stay firm and take on the worse. He trusted Ash with his life.
"… Now… Bulbsaur… use Vine Whip to jump!"
Vigor sparked in Bulbasaur's eyes. This was the last second to hold out before it was too late. The timing felt perfect. The Seed Pokémon quickly extended his vines out to the nearest solid platforms on the sides. In conjunction with his own muscles, Bulbasaur leapt up high with the additional boost from using Vine Whip on the platforms, barely passing the incoming Slowbro and its flaming Zen Headbutt. Slowbro, at the meantime, had completely obliterated the stone platform once its Zen Headbutt landed.
"These Trainers never cease to surprise me!" the commentator exclaimed. " Bulbasaur has just evaded certain defeat with a well-timed Vine Whip, bringing itself out of Slowbro's range."
"What perfect synchronization," Lorelei whispered to herself, clearly astounded by the bond between Ash and his Bulbasaur.
"… Bulbasaur… Solar Beam!"
In conjunction with his Trainer's thoughts, Bulbasaur had also foreseen this opportunity had begun charging the moment it was free from Slowbro's range. The second time around using Solar Beam was swifter than before, allowing Bulbasaur to correctly position himself and unleash the devastating Grass attack to where Slowbro submerged its head.
The potent Solar Beam caused the water to recede and Slowbro to fly right out of the field and into a stadium wall. It crashed headfirst, creating quite a major dent, before tumbling onto its stomach with both it and the Shellder on its tail sharing the same dazed and defeated expression with their eyes.
"Slowbro's unable to battle!" the referee immediately declared, raising a flag high on Ash's side. "Bulbasaur wins!"
"Unbelievable, ladies and gentlemen!" the commentator cried out. "The first loss has gone to Lorelei! If anything, I would say that the previous Leech Seed stole more energy from Slowbro than we thought. However, it's still early to decide, but it looks like the Ash fans are looking on this match much more favorably than before."
"That was a lucky shot!" Misty shouted irately, waving a fist in the air. "It's not over yet!"
"Misty, this is Ash we're talking about!" May retaliated, causing the Cerulean City Gym Leader to snap out of her brief rage.
"Oh, whoops," Misty mumbled, goofily sticking her tongue to the side while giving herself a bop on the head with her fist. "I guess I did get carried away with it after all. Man, it's really hard to choose who to root for: your friend or your idol."
"Please, it's a no-brainer," Max scoffed. "Clearly, you're supposed to support your friend, which is why I'm an Ash fan through and through."
"Funny, it wasn't like that when Ash faced Dad for the Balance Badge years ago," May mentioned with a giggle, much to her younger brother's shock.
"Hey! That was years ago! I'm more mature now about Dad winning or losing than before!"
"Sure you are, Max."
"I hate you, May…"
"Love you too!"
"Please don't tell me you were like this with your other siblings," Iris said to Cilan and Brock.
The two of them exchanged smiles and chuckles, which only seemed to have increased Iris's worries. Just to mess with her a bit, they both placed an arm around each other's' shoulders.
"Hey, we're not perfect either," Brock replied.
"We've had our moments of teasing and taunting just like with every other sibling relationship," Cilan continued. "Even now, we're all practically brothers and sisters since we've gotten super close the past few weeks."
"Is sanity really hard to come by these days?" Iris asked Axew, who merely shrugged back before burrowing back into her hair.
"Slowbro, return," Lorelei recalled her fallen Pokémon, smiling over its Poké Ball fondly. "Excellent work out there, my friend." She placed Slowbro's Poké Ball away and took out a new one as she faced Ash again. "I can see that you've gotten stronger than ever, young man. Your technique is also refined and your timing is on the dot. I'll have to agree in saying that Leech Seed stole more energy that what I originally expected. But even with the stolen energy, Bulbasaur seems to be just as exhausted from having to evade my attacks. Now Cloyster, go!"
The Bivalve Pokémon took form at a platform that floated close to the center of the field, appearing as menacing as ever. Pikachu had a brief moment of difficulty swallowing his own uneasiness down, recalling his brutal loss against that Pokémon many years back.
"Lorelei's second Pokémon is Cloyster," the commentator announced as Cloyster's picture illuminated on the board underneath Slowbro's darkened image. "Will Ash stick with Bulbasaur for this round?"
Bulbasaur looked back at his Trainer and gave a solemn nod, to which Ash replied back in kind. That was more than enough confirmation for the referee to signal the commencement of the second round of this remarkable battle.
"Let the battle resume!" the referee declared.
"It looks like Ash is putting all his faith on Bulbasaur this time around," the commentator resumed.
"… Razor Leaf!"
Ash immediately went into the offensive once more, knowing how much stronger of a defense Cloyster had compared to its fallen comrade. Lorelei looked on impassively, easily predicting the quick offensive the Pallet Town Trainer went for. With a subtle nod of her head, Cloyster knew what she wanted and immediately sealed itself shut. The Razor Leaves bounced off of the shell and uselessly drifted into the water.
"It looks like Cloyster's proving harder to attack than Slowbro as that shell seems virtually impenetrable," the commentator remarked.
"… Bulbasaur… Vine Whip!"
The Seed Pokémon quickly switched his tactics as before, extending out his vines and lashing out on Cloyster's shell in an attempt to force it open. Despite the loud whipping sounds resonating from each hit, the Grass attack didn't appear to be doing a thing.
"It's not going to be easy to damage my Cloyster," Lorelei pointed out. "Brute force will only take you so far, just as a sturdy ship can demolish a glacier only so much."
"… … We're not done… Leech Seed!"
"Cloyster, into the water!"
The Bivalve Pokémon reopened itself and took the opportunity to hop off its platform while its opponent was preparing to launch a Leech Seed at its former position. The Seed was planted into the platform, but as Bulbasaur knew that the target had long gone from its location, by his will alone, he did not make the Seed sprout.
"… Pull Cloyster out of the water! … Vine Whip!"
Bulbasaur sent his vines back out and into the pool of water. Cloyster had not bothered to move since it escaped the Leech Seed, making it easy for Bulbasaur to ensnare and pull it out. That was almost too easy…
"Now Cloyster, spin!"
At the moment Bulbasaur seized Cloyster in the air, the Bivalve Pokémon smirked as it hid its head inside its shell once more and did as Lorelei commanded. Cloyster's swift spin caught Bulbasaur off guard as his vines still constricted Cloyster, causing the Seed Pokémon to be pulled off of his platform and sent spinning about in the air around Cloyster.
"Cloyster is taking Bulbasaur for a wild ride by taking advantage of the Vine Whip and forcing the little Pokémon to spin along," the commentator narrated.
A few seconds later, Bulbasaur's hold on Cloyster was weakened from the spin to the point that the Seed Pokémon was thrown right into the edge of the water field. At a precise moment, Cloyster was able to stop spinning and opened itself back up to face its vulnerable opponent.
"Finish it with Icicle Crash!"
Cloyster's face and spike above its head began to glow light-blue. A crystalline wind emanated from inside of the Bivalve Pokémon's shell, conjuring up large, sharpened icicles at a remarkably fast pace. Using the spike above its head, Cloyster directed the icicles to fall right over Bulbasaur, causing much water to splash up and part of the land next to it to be destroyed.
The Icicle Crash came to a merciful end, revealing Bulbasaur to be floating limply with his back against the water field edge and eyes spiraling in a daze.
"Bulbasaur's unable to battle!" the referee declared. "Cloyster wins!"
"And now, Lorelei gets a point for this round!" the commentator exclaimed to the cheers of the spectators all around the stadium. "Folks, it looks like this is the first time here in the Champions League that Ash has lost a Pokémon in battle. He's done very well so far, but I wonder what other Pokémon he'll be planning to use."
"I guess my data isn't as 'outdated' as you thought, Greta," Thorton remarked. "That's one down and two more to go."
"Please, it's still a bit early," Greta retorted. "Besides, Ash did get the first win. Bulbasaur was just unlucky with that Ice attack knocking it out. It was a super effective hit, after all. He could've substituted, you know."
"I'm sure he knew that better than you. But then again, it would've been pointless either way as Bulbasaur was very weak from the previous round against Slowbro. It would've been knocked out sooner or later."
"Greta, Thorton?" Anabel spoke up.
"What's up, Anabel?" Greta replied as she and Thorton looked over to see her; she appeared to be in good spirits despite Ash losing a Pokémon.
"Please be quiet," Anabel requested with a smile. "I'm trying to focus on the battle on the field and support Ash, not the one you two have been having before this one began. I know he'll be fine, so please…"
Startled by her tranquil look despite her being clearly irked by their constant arguing, both Frontier Brains stiffly nodded and looked forward back to the battlefield in time to watch Ash recall Bulbasaur back into his Poké Ball and take a moment to thank him.
"Ash will win," Greta whispered as inconspicuously as possibly to Thorton. "Anabel is almost never wrong in things like these."
"I still think she's relying a bit too much on heart than cold, hard facts," Thorton replied back quietly.
"I heard that," Anabel's voice rung over them, unnerving both the Arena Tycoon and Sinnoh Factory Head once more.
Pikachu leapt off of Ash's shoulder and from floating platform to floating platform in order to settle the score once and for all against Cloyster. The Bivalve Pokémon was grinning eagerly for this rematch as Pikachu arrived as close to the center as he could. The impact of the previous Icicle Crash caused some platforms on the field to shift and change position once more.
"Pikachu is Ash's second Pokémon for this battle," the commentator announced as Pikachu's image lit up under Bulbasaur's darkened slot. "Both Trainers are down one Pokémon with only two remaining. We're getting close to an intense end for either side, ladies and gentlemen."
"We're revisiting some old waters with this battle," Lorelei commented. "If Pikachu's fighting ability is as smooth and refined as displayed in its first match, then this should be an entirely different battle than before."
"Battle begin!" the referee declared.
"Cloyster, use Icicle Crash!"
The two powerful Pokémon released their attacks simultaneously. The icicles and large burst of electricity met and collided high above the center of the field, eliciting quite a disrupting explosion. The shockwaves caused the platforms that Pikachu and Cloyster were on to be pushed back, though the two of them managed to endure their hold on the platforms.
"Now that's sheer power right there!" the commentator added.
"… Pikachu… use Quick Attack!"
"Pika!" Pikachu yelled, storing energy into his limbs for a swift boost.
The Mouse Pokémon displayed his renowned acts of speed and finesse, leaping about the floating stone platforms dead center while making his way to Cloyster. He leapt into many different directions as possible as an attempt to confound the Bivalve Pokémon on where he would strike next.
A light green sphere of light suddenly emerged and surrounded Cloyster. Pikachu was about to strike, only to wind up stumbling in the air upon seeing the Protect active. He harmlessly bounced right off the sphere and fell into the water. Pikachu was able to emerge his head out of the surface, only to discover Cloyster's imposing presence and crooked grin glaring down at him from its platform.
"Now Cloyster's got Pikachu where it wants, right in the water," the commentator narrated. "Unless Pikachu's a good swimmer, it looks like it'll be unable to escape Cloyster's next attack in time."
"This battle is reminding me back when Ash first challenged Lorelei," Misty mused, looking on worriedly for Pikachu. "This is starting out as before with Cloyster leading Pikachu along."
"It really is not looking good for Pikachu," Iris commented rather lamentingly. "Will Ash actually be able to stay in the tournament?"
"We can't count him out just yet," Max said resolutely. "He's gotten out of tougher spots than this."
"Pikachu, get out of there!" May cried out, cupping her hands around her mouth to amplify her voice.
Near the top level of the stadium…
"Man, did I already miss the first round?" Georgia muttered as she reached the outer stair railing, looking up at the Trainer scoreboard. "Dang, even Ash has lost a Pokémon this time. Looks like they're both tied. I better find a seat before Ash decides to pull off a miracle."
"Now use Icicle Crash again!"
"… Pikachu… Electro Ball!"
Pikachu was quicker to respond, lifting his tail out of the water and shaking off droplets as he began generating the electrical sphere at the very tip. Despite the swift reflexes of its opponent, Cloyster remained pokerfaced as it prepared another Icicle Crash. However, right as the icicles were formed, Pikachu seized the opportunity by lobbing the Electro Ball right at them.
The sudden explosion at close range sent both Pokémon flying from their positions. Despite the harsh knockback, Pikachu was able to catch himself on a new platform fairly close to where the referee stood while Cloyster expertly landed back on its original platform, where it was first sent out.
"That was another ingenious move by Ash, using Electro Ball to defend against Icicle Crash!" the commentator exclaimed, accompanied with loud cheers around the stadium. "While both Pokémon had suffered considerable damage from that close-ranged explosion, Pikachu is safe on land and at a fair distance from Cloyster."
"I don't give out praises often, but your move choices have been selected with nearly perfect timing," Lorelei pointed out with a soft smile, momentarily readjusting her glasses. "A part of me thought that you would've recklessly chosen Thunderbolt with Pikachu still in the water, but I can tell you've definitely learned a lot since our time together. This battle only pushes me to be even harder than ever before. You've now got my full attention, young man, and you've certainly gotten Cloyster's respect this time."
"… Thanks," Ash replied back lowly, keeping a hand on the rim of his cap.
"Now Cloyster, another Icicle Crash!"
Cloyster leaned forward to charge up its Ice attack, not noticing that there was something sparkling underneath it. However, Lorelei was the first to notice as she held back a shocked cry with her mouth. Cloyster's platform began to gradually rumble.
"Cl-Cloi-ster?!" Cloyster gasped, its attack disrupted by the shaking.
"What's going on with Cloyster?" the commentator voiced as equally curious fans watched closely.
Thick brown vines suddenly sprang to life from underneath the Bivalve Pokémon and ensnared it, much to Lorelei's and everyone's astonishment. Cloyster appeared to be unable to completely lose its shell with a few vines lodging themselves in its hinges. Ash had to hold back a smirk as he tilted his cap down over his face.
"Is that… Leech Seed?" Paul inquired, glancing down interestedly.
"I certainly didn't foresee that happening," Sabrina added.
She then discovered seeds oddly raining onto her lap, as well as Paul's. The both of them looked up to discover Haunter messily eating a handful of sunflower seeds from a bag, a good portion of contents spilling through its hand and bag.
"You couldn't have taught it manners?" Paul remarked sardonically, brushing off the stray seeds with an arm from his lap and out of his hair.
"Tried. Wasn't very effective. And that was the last time I ever invited Haunter to a tea party."
"Now I see what's going on," Lorelei began, facing Ash with a stern glare. "You were able to train your Bulbasaur in controlling when and how to sprout its planted Leech Seed, which was why the one that was sown into the platform when Cloyster first avoided it didn't immediately spring to life and search for a living being to drain its energy. It acted like a motion-sensor bomb: once Cloyster returned to that platform and it sensed its presence nearby, it was able to grow and capture it, regardless if Bulbasaur was still on the field or not."
"… I knew who I was going to deal with and where," Ash replied. "… It was a matter of training and using our moves for the right situations."
"Well, you got me," Lorelei sighed, appearing to relax her gaze a bit. "You've prepared for this day."
Ash only tensed up from seeing her reaction. He wasn't about to become overconfident and charge straightforward just because her Cloyster was now vulnerable and being drained of its energy by the Leech Seed. However, he knew there weren't many options left for him to choose from as knowing Lorelei, she probably found a new way to break out of the Leech Seed, just like before with Slowbro.
"Pika, Pikapi!" Pikachu called out, snapping Ash out from overthinking his situation.
"… Pikachu… use Thunderbolt!"
Pikachu was more than willing in unleashing his signature attack, striking the struggling Cloyster dead center in its black-pearl head. However, in the midst of receiving a super effective hit in its insides, the Bivalve Pokémon appeared to be smirking wickedly, just like before. Pikachu stopped the attack, having been unnerved by Cloyster's reaction.
"Pikachu has stopped attacking, I wonder why," the commentator pointed out.
"That was super effective, so why did they stop?" Max asked.
"This is definitely just like last time," Misty muttered apprehensively. "Sure an Electric attack like Thunderbolt would've been super effective on Cloyster, but seeing that this is Lorelei's Cloyster, it only made it mad. I'm afraid Pikachu's done for."
"Her Cloyster certainly has high defensive power and endurance if it's able to take on a Thunderbolt to the face while withstanding the Leech Seed," Brock added.
"Lorelei's battle style is cold to the core, disregarding all other outside factors as long as she and her Pokémon attain victory," Cilan commented. "This is certainly no soft frozen treat. Her taste is overwhelming and hard to the point of a major brain freeze."
"It looks like Lorelei's style has even left you without many words," May remarked before turning to see Iris completely huddled on her chair, pulling her legs close and shivering.
"That Cloyster's face creeps me out!" Iris cried out hysterically. "Please, Ash! Beat it now and I promise I'll stop calling you a little kid! Please!"
Everyone else around the Dragon Trainer, including Axew, each felt a large drop of sweat fall down behind their heads from watching her.
"… Quick Attack!"
Pikachu dashed in, leaping from platform to platform to reach the immobile Cloyster. It was unsettling enough that Cloyster didn't appear to be affected as much as it should've been from the Thunderbolt, but Lorelei hadn't said a word nor a command since her Pokémon was constricted by Leech Seed.
The Mouse Pokémon dove in and struck Cloyster in the face once more, bouncing back up high in the air overhead. Cloyster brushed off the Quick Attack hit and resumed its haunting grin.
"… Now use Iron Tail!"
Pikachu dove back down with a Steel-powered tail, swiftly connecting against Cloyster's head for the third time in a row. Right at the moment Iron Tail struck its head, Cloyster jolted its eyes open.
The time was now.
"Now Cloyster, use Clamp!"
The Bivalve Pokémon adjusted itself accordingly, having dislodged the vines that were previously in its hinges. Before Pikachu could react, Cloyster slammed its shell shut right on his tail. Pikachu cried out in pain and hung limply in front of Cloyster's shell, unable to escape.
"Now Pikachu's caught in Cloyster's trap this time!" the commentator exclaimed. "That Clamp appeared as excruciating as it did. Now how will Ash get out of this one?"
"It took a while, but Cloyster was able to close its shell again," Lorelei sighed, taking her glasses off for a moment to polish the lenses with a cloth. "Not even the energy drain of the Leech Seed will stop us. I'm afraid this round is going to end with one last move." She then placed her glasses back on and resumed her icy persona. "No regrets. Cloyster, use Explosion!"
"… …!" Ash and Pikachu gasped; the latter started panicking and struggled to break out of Cloyster's Clamp.
"… Pikachu… Thunderbolt… Full power!"
Pikachu ceased squirming and focused on the new task on hand, which was to defeat Cloyster before it could carry out its Explosion. Since his tail was still trapped within Cloyster, Pikachu immediately channeled his Thunderbolt into the Bivalve Pokémon with his tail as the bridge. Cloyster, in the meantime, began to glow a fiery hue of bright orange at its core. It had already begun utilizing its remaining stamina for a desperate last resort. It was currently unknown if the Thunderbolt had any affect.
"This is it, folks!" the commentator cried out. "It's now a do-or-die for Pikachu! Can Pikachu successfully defuse the time bomb known as Cloyster or will it be subjected to the worse Explosion blast possible?"
Every spectator around the stadium and even those currently watching from a monitor observed this tense moment intently. It was mostly out of worry for Pikachu, but nonetheless, they wanted to see how this moment would end, if Pikachu would escape in the end or not.
Cloyster's shell glowed even brighter than before, to the point that the fiery core seemed to have overtaken its own body. Pikachu continued sending electrical currents directly into Cloyster through his tail, which was eventually rewarded with Cloyster's Clamp finally releasing its hold on Pikachu's tail.
"Get out of there!" Ash immediately yelled once he saw that Pikachu was free.
The Explosion was carried out successfully. Out of the resulting smoke, Pikachu was seen tossed up high in the air, having been unable to get out of range on time. He was flying towards Ash's direction, curved slightly to the right.
Ash took the initiative by leaping out of his Trainer box and anticipating where Pikachu was about to land. The referee was about to intervene before he sensed Lorelei's disapproving glance on him, by which he allowed the Pallet Town Trainer to catch his Pokémon. Ash positioned himself where Pikachu's falling shadow was cast, thus knowing how to catch the Mouse Pokémon straight into his chest. Pikachu looked up and smiled weakly, grateful for his best friend, before lying limp in his arms. The referee took note of that, as well as Cloyster's condition once the smoke from the Explosion cleared up at the same time.
"Both Pikachu and Cloyster are unable to battle!" the referee ruled out, raising both flags in the air. "This round is a draw!"
"Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached a draw for this round, though I would have to give extra points to Ash for catching Pikachu," the commentator announced with both Pokémon's images on the scoreboard darkening. "Now they're both down to one Pokémon each. I never thought I'd see the day that Lorelei's cornered, though the same can be said with Ash with his previous performances taken into account."
"That Explosion was so cheap I could find better deals at a charity," Greta grumbled. "She only did that because Cloyster was already losing strength from that well-played Leech Seed and was up against Pikachu."
"There's nothing in the rules that say that she couldn't use Explosion, although if both were already down to their last Pokémon as it was, then that would've been considered a forfeit for her and the match would've gone to Ash," Thorton explained. "It's mainly due to the fact that the one using Explosion or Self-Destruct would be out of energy first while the other Pokémon has a chance to escape said attacks, though in most cases, it wouldn't matter either way."
"Well either way, it all comes down to this," Greta surmised, taking a glance towards Anabel. "How're you holding up? You've really been quiet, you know."
"This match is really intense, so I'm definitely at the edge of my seat wanting to see how it ends," Anabel replied amiably. "I'm still rooting for Ash. I know he will make it through."
"Honestly, what makes you so sure of that?" Thorton asked skeptically; Anabel remained unaffected and confident.
"Because I've seen him for myself on what he can really do."
"This is it, guys!" May exclaimed, tittering eagerly. "He's doing awesome so far!"
"The fact that he's practically on the level with Lorelei now should speak for itself," Max said, grinning. "I still hope I can have that battle with him."
"At your level now, he'll destroy you. And I know that you don't want him to hold back because you're friends."
"Exactly! I want to see his power for myself instead of just watching his battles. How else am I going to get stronger?"
"It'll take a lot of patience and training, for starters," Brock answered before taking a glance at Misty. "Hey, you feeling alright there, Misty?"
"No one outside the Elite Four and Champion Masters has been able to push Lorelei this far before," Misty mumbled, staring fixedly at her idol as she recalled her Cloyster.
"Again, she's Ice and you're Water," Max sighed.
"To think I'm now pushed to my limit, it's been a long time since I've had this feeling," Lorelei mused, holding up her final Poké Ball. "It feels like the rush of a river having broken free from its dam. I remember having that rushing feeling at your age, but don't think I've gone past my prime just yet."
She threw her Poké Ball high into the air. Her third and final Pokémon materialized on a stone platform that was released into the field by the Pokémon League Committee, considering that Cloyster's Explosion had destroyed nearly all of the ones previously intact. The bright light released from the Poké Ball took the shape into a familiarly bizarre feminine shape.
"Jynx Jinx!" the Pokémon greeted.
"Lorelei's final Pokémon is revealed to be Jynx!" the commentator announced with the image of the Human Shape Pokémon taking the last slot underneath Cloyster.
"… Heracross… I choose you!"
Ash's final Pokémon materialized over a graciously provided new platform as well. The Single Horn Pokémon eased his descent with a quick release of its buzzing wings, eager to take on his decided opponent.
"And now, Ash has gone with Heracross as his third and last Pokémon," the commentator continued, Heracross's image illuminating underneath Pikachu's. "Though Heracross has the type advantage, Jynx has been known as one of Lorelei's classics since she first started her career as a Pokémon Trainer, experiencing compensating against the disadvantage. This will turn out to be quite the ultimate bout for the morning!"
"Jynx is the final glacier you will need to overcome and sail over if you want to advance further in the tournament," Lorelei announced. "Otherwise, your dreams in being known as the best will sink into the endless depths of the ocean. Now Jynx, use Blizzard!"
Jynx took a deep breath and exhaled a powerful frosty gale of snow out of her mouth. Heracross took the initiative by flying out of the range of the Blizzard stream. Nearly Ash's entire side of the battlefield was frozen into ice as a result of the Blizzard, which conveniently allowed Heracross to land anywhere on the former water field aside from the stone platforms.
"That powerful Blizzard instantly froze the water on Ash's side," the commentator pointed out. "Was that part of Lorelei's plan?"
"… Heracross… use Megahorn!"
"Heracroh!" Heracross grunted, preparing to dive down towards Jynx at an appropriate angle.
His horn shone brilliantly, emphasizing its powerful size and sharpness. By slightly angling down his wings, Heracross was able to glide at an easy, yet swift rate. Jynx appeared to lower herself, preparing against the incoming Megahorn.
"Megahorn is going to be super effective if it hits," the commentator pointed out as Heracross came closer to the field.
"Jynx, Lovely Kiss!"
The Human Shape Pokémon waited once Heracross was close enough that he couldn't avoid this attack. She placed both hands on her large glowing lips, sending out a flying kiss in the form of a pink heart of light. Heracross's eyes bugged out, attempting to stop his descent towards the Lovely Kiss.
Unfortunately, it struck the tip of his horn. The pink energy consumed Heracross's entire body, causing the Single Horn Pokémon to stagger in the air before succumbing to the inducing drowsiness that came as the main effect of Lovely Kiss. Heracross slowly landed on his stomach at a frozen section of the water field.
"And Heracross has fallen fast asleep from Jynx's Lovely Kiss!" the commentator exclaimed.
"As fun as this battle's been, I'm going to end this now," Lorelei declared. "Jynx, finish Heracross with Psychic!"
"… Sleep Talk!"
Right as Jynx began to focus her telekinetic powers on the sleeping Heracross, the Single Horn Pokémon suddenly sprung to life despite his eyes closed in deep slumber, much to her surprise. Heracross quickly flew from the spot where Jynx attempted to grab Heracross in a Psychic hold, dove back down, and sent a furious Focus Punch at the side of her face, sending her flying across the field and into the water.
"Just as you thought Ash was running low on his bag of tricks, he surprises us all with Heracross's Sleep Talk, which had turned out to be a fast-paced Focus Punch!" the commentator remarked, eliciting loud cheers for the Ash fans.
"I certainly did not expect that," Lorelei muttered, mildly unnerved by the surprise attack of Sleep Talk. "He really did come prepared for every situation possible, or at least knew how to make the most of a bad one. Jynx, use Blizzard!"
"Jiiihh-nx!" Jynx yelled frantically as she leapt back up on a near platform, unleashing a wider Blizzard stream that also froze her side of the field, thus rendering the 'water' field into a new ice field.
"… Heracross… Sleep Talk again!"
Heracross stood back up wordlessly, only to lay back on front on all of his limbs. He then raised his horn up high, apparently generating energy for Hyper Beam.
"Sleep Talk has now turned into Hyper Beam, it looks like," the commentator narrated.
"Crohs!" Heracross bellowed, unleashing the potent destructive beam forward.
The Hyper Beam was able to slice through the outer winds of Jynx's Blizzard before reaching the more concentrated core of the Ice attack, which turned out to be a short distance in front of Jynx herself. Jynx refocused the Blizzard into a narrower stream once more in an attempt to push back the Hyper Beam, which had momentarily succeeded.
However, the volatility of Hyper Beam proved to be as unpredictable as usual.
There were no heavy aftershocks from the stalemate, but the collision had been pushed far enough from Jynx to not sustain any heavy damage as a result. It was also at that moment that Heracross decided to wake up from his sleep.
"And Heracross is wide awake once more!" the commentator cried out. "It appears that both Trainers are back to where they started, excluding the fact that the water field has been turned into an ice field by Jynx's last Blizzard. That'll take a while to defrost before the next scheduled match on the water field."
"They just keep calling attack after attack after attack," May commented, quivering in anticipation. "I wish this was over already. I can't stand this suspense."
"It's crazy to think that Ash can finally hold his own against an Elite Four member," Max added. "He didn't stand a chance against Drake years ago. Now I wonder what his training's like and how much he did it in a day."
"This is Ash's time to shine if he can beat Lorelei here," Brock concluded solemnly.
"You're really forcing me now, Ash," Lorelei said, a viciously eager grin highlighting her personage; a complete contrast to the cold battler reputation she had been known for. "You've gotten me to go from tough as ice to violent as a maelstrom. Very rarely has this happened, the one time being when I faced Lance for the first time many years back."
"… I'm ready to win," Ash replied frankly, tilting his cap up and revealing the burning passion of battling in his oft hidden brown eyes. "… I will prove that my Pokémon and I are stronger… And you will be the first to know!"
"I admire your fierce spirit, as well as your compassionate heart," Lorelei commented in a calmer tone. "You proved the latter by risking even possible rules by catching Pikachu. While I doubt there would be such rules, you care for your Pokémon deeply. This has been one of my greater pleasures in life aside from becoming an Elite Four member. Now Jynx, Blizzard!"
Jynx took advantage of Heracross's need to recharge post-Hyper Beam by unleashing the cold fury of Blizzard over the Single Horn Pokémon. Heracross endured to the best of his ability, trying to stand tall while keeping himself aware of being frozen by the attack.
"… Heracross… Megahorn!"
Heracross regained mobility right as Ash issued the command, having waited for the right time to act. He enhanced his horn once again and pierced through the ongoing Blizzard with it. Heracross was approaching Jynx at a dangerously fast pace.
"Time to test how strong the bonds between Pokémon and Trainer are," Lorelei mused. "Attract!"
Jynx ceased the Blizzard and gave off a flirtatious wink, conjuring up miniature white heart outlines to fly right towards Heracross. Before Heracross could strike down the Human Shape Pokémon, the hearts immediately swarmed into him before disappearing. Heracross was last seen with a huge body twitch before slowing down on the icy surface with a love-struck look on his face.
"Now Heracross has been bitten by the love bug thanks to Attract," the commentator announced, much to the horror of many spectators that have been cheering on Ash, former traveling companions and acquaintances included. "It looks like this is it! The final moment!"
"It looks like check and mate, my colleagues," Thorton surmised unceremoniously.
"No way! Oish!" Greta shouted out heatedly.
"It is what it is."
Anabel remained silent as she watched on attentively, a stony look occupying her delicate face.
"What a lethal trap," Georgia commented, holding her breath.
"I can't watch!" May cried, instinctively covering her whole face with her green bandanna.
"Yeah! Go, Lorelei!" Misty applauded on.
The others inconspicuously backed away from her as far as possible. The moment was just too tense for them to handle as they supported their friend.
"Time to finish this off once and for all!" Lorelei proclaimed. "Jynx, get in close and blast Heracross away with Psychic!"
Heracross stumbled about, all lovey-dovey over his opponent. Jynx gradually closed the distance between her and Heracross as she cupped her hands in front of her, focusing her Psychic power before snaring the Single Horn Pokémon for the finishing move. Heracross was bizarrely dancing about in place with his back turned to her when…
Jynx was harshly knocked back and sent tumbling along the frozen surface before sliding to a stop before Lorelei's feet with spiraling eyes. Much to the Kanto Ice Elite Four's surprise, along with everyone else watching, it was discovered that Heracross's horn was glowing, a sign that it had managed to pull off Megahorn in spite of his attraction. The lovey-dovey look in his eyes soon disappeared and Heracross appeared in his normal behavior once again.
"Jynx is unable to battle!" the referee ultimately declared. "Heracross wins, and the victory of this match goes to Ash of Pallet Town!"
"And that's all she wrote, folks!" the commentator declared, accompanied with boisterous cheers for the victor. "Heracross was able to break through Attract's spell and defeat Lorelei's Jynx, thus knocking Lorelei out of the Champions League! Ash is certainly making a name for himself by overcoming this Elite Four member. We can be sure to look forward to any future matches he will have against any Elite Four member pitted against him."
"… What just happened?" Misty asked quickly, stunned in place.
"Ash won! Ash won!" May chanted, clasping hands and dancing with Iris.
"The Ice Trainer is down! The Ice Trainer is down!" Iris cheered, coming to a brief stop to consult Misty. "No offense to you or anything like that."
"I think I can actually forgive Ash for not coming to find us if this is what his training results in," Max said in admiration. "I've got to work harder so I can catch up to him some day."
"That was one tasteful battle, don't you agree, Brock?" Cilan asked.
"I think even Lorelei enjoyed the full-course meal," Brock added before the both of them broke out into chuckles.
"Aah… This… doesn't… compute," Thorton sputtered, gaping over what had transpired.
"Perhaps you should learn to trust the heart more, Thorton," Anabel remarked, bearing a good-natured smile in spite of having been subjected to his robotic cynicism.
"Speaking of heart, we're off training since we're both fired up after watching Ash's battle against the Ice Mistress!" Greta announced, standing up from her seat alongside the Salon Maiden. "Later! Oish!"
"My precious data," Thorton mourned.
"His Heracross is way... mmph… awesome!" Morrison cheered, stuffing a giant rice ball into his mouth.
"How long were you sitting behind me?" Georgia questioned, mildly repulsed by his eating habits.
"It feels like every time I watch one of his battles, I receive the shock of my life," Sabrina mused. "I'm so used to foreseeing the future, yet there are cases like his that are able to not only shroud the vision of the future from my end, but even change the future as well."
"Then no sense dwelling in the past," Paul said, standing out of his seat. "I'm off."
"But you've already trained and pushed your Pokémon to the limit for today. They're still in the Pokémon Center, you know."
"I know. Brandon's battle is supposed to be coming up fairly soon, so I'm going to observe his current battle style and learn from it."
"Ohh… Have fun then."
"Jynx, thank you for battling alongside me," Lorelei whispered to her Pokémon, having knelt down next to her on the still frozen surface while recalling her into her Poké Ball. "Great work out there."
Ash, Pikachu, and Heracross approached the eliminated Elite Four member as she stood back up. She appeared as tranquil and spacey as ever despite the cold and merciless persona she held during the battle.
"… Lorelei… how was I…?" Ash asked, looking up to the older woman expectantly.
"Nothing else can be said what's already been shared in our battle, young man," Lorelei replied, extending a hand out for the Pallet Town Trainer to shake. "You've raised your Pokémon so well, though I can tell that they've had a harsh push to become as strong as they are now. It was probably one of the most unpleasant experiences you've ever had in life."
"… Mm…" Ash nodded, shaking her hand.
"You know, it's strange. During our battle, you reminded me of the time I first fought Lance. Your styles were similar in terms of aggression and power, yet completely different at the same time. I've heard from Lance a while ago that you trained for a short time under him, but he didn't say much else, but I can figure out what happened while Lance was gone so your secret's safe with me."
"No doubt, it was because of your own brand of unpredictability that was thrown in because of the powerful bonds you share with your Pokémon. Heracross was able to hear your voice despite being under my spell. That proved that you truly deserved to have best me this day, and now you have the opportunity to extend your reaches beyond my level."
"… Thank you…"
"Be warned, young man, that I'm still just one competitor down, and that there will be other Trainers still hanging in the Champions League that are stronger than me. I was planning to settle down eventually anyway, unlike a certain persistent senior Ghost Master colleague of mine. The Elite Four stationed in Johto is already more than enough to watch over both Johto and Kanto, but in the off chance that you get named the Champion Master of Kanto and are need of an Elite Four branch for your own, feel free to give me a call, okay? I don't mind doing favors like this, really."
"… Um… sure…"
Even though it hasn't been officially confirmed as of yet, simply based off the horn design Ash's Heracross has, it would be classified as male. Just thought I would share that, especially with Jinx's Attract being able to affect him.
So Ash has now faced a real opponent, unlike the two Trainers he was able to knock off without losing a Pokémon. Anyway, it can happen to be paired against an Elite Four member or Champion Master early on since I (think I did) mention that everyone's competing in the preliminaries. And of course the strong and quick-witted survive and move on.
Originally, Lorelei's final Pokémon was going to be Lapras, but I decided to go for the unsuspecting Jynx. Even though in the games, specifically in Fire Red and Leaf Green, said that she had Lapras since she was a child, Lapras and Jynx were on the same level when the player faces her for the first time and for the rematch. Plus, she is an Ice-type specialist and Cloyster was already used as the dual Water/Ice for the battle. So Lorelei here was based on a combination between her anime and game versions, if you hadn't already caught that.
And now, I'm going into a brief rant about Lorelei's anime introduction in the Orange Islands. Seriously, they (4Kids) should've just stuck to her real name instead of coming up with "Prima" to substitute for lip-synching syllables. They could've made it work and it would've been less to complain about than some out-of-synch words, at least on my end. Honestly, I was so confused as a child when that episode first aired because I knew even then that woman was supposed to be Lorelei. Of course, it could've been used as a last name basis, but last names are rarely considered in this show, excluding Ash's and Gary's families and the regional Pokémon professors (And to some extent, Mr. Sukizo and some other unimportant characters…). In any case, I just needed to get that off my chest. I apologize for subjecting you all to it.
Also, just so you all know, my poll on seeing what you all want to see for Ash's third new Pokémon will come to a close. It's almost been a year since it's up. As a reminder, Marowak was the first revealed new Pokémon. The second Pokémon will make in appearance either near the end of the preliminary rounds or at the first round of the official Victory Rounds. And once the poll closes at its year mark, which would be August 6, 2014, I'll let you all know how I'll decide with the popular choices.
For a final note, MisterP shared with me his discontinued plans the night before his marriage on how he would have continued and ended Tale of Stardom, which was strange to me why now, but nevertheless. I guess he finally felt remorseful for discontinuing it, but not much can be done now (I'm not going to continue it, just to clarify. It's still his work, not mine to play with, even with permission. It just wouldn't feel right…). He said, quote on quote, "The least I could do for my former readers, assuming that they've moved on to you now, is to give them closure on that old work."
So if anyone of you really wanted to know what would've happened had he continued, you need only to request either in review and/or private message. I'll reply in kind, but can't guarantee that it would be in a timely manner. After all, I'm still busy with spring and summer terms.
Well, I've said and ranted a lot as it is. Again, I apologize if it sounds like I'm taking my stress out on you all, as well as for this extensive author's note.
Anyway, it's time to measure up my writing abilities. Please review!