After the events of the day before, the entire group of Dawn, Max, May, Brock, Ritchie and Paul felt exhausted, five of them out for the count as told by their constant snores but one of them, particularly a purple-haired male, sat awake still trying to wrap his head around the battle from before with the mysterious Shadow and the way he was quickly defeated. Looking down at the five who were sleeping Paul sighed and glanced to his Pokeballs, 'What am I doing wrong? I train them, look after them, hell I even respect them now. Why did I lose so bad!' Paul grunted as he clenched his right fist before finally closing his eyes and allowing the lure of sleep to consume him.

Meanwhile with Ash, the room was entirely silent except for the groaning and shifting of a certain raven-haired male. Sweat poured from the boys forehead as he toss and turned mumbling words like "I'm sorry" and "Had to", finally his body sprung up in a sitting position as he let out a panicked scream alerting the yellow rodent who slept beside him who quickly released a thunderbolt at the lamp beside them utterly destroying it. Quickly realising where it was Pikachu looked over at its trainer and brother with a confused look.

"Pika? Pikachu PikaPi?" Pikachu's head turned as its black eyes locked onto its companion who responded with a shake of the head.

"It's alright Pikachu, just another nightmare." Groaning Ash placed his head in his palms and sighed, "Why can't they just disappear? I'm not guilty over leaving them, I had to do it so why am I having these blasted nightmares?" With a grunt of annoyance Ash forcefully punched the stand next to his bed sending a loud bang out around the Hotel floor.

Pikachu looked worried at its trainer before moving up onto his shoulder and rubbing its cheek against his, "PikaPi Pi Pikachu Kachu Ka Chuu?" The small rodent looked at its friend with a questioning look as it waited for an answer, but instead it got another sigh.

Hearing the question made Ash think, did he miss them? Is this why he had the nightmares about that day and was this bringing guilt over him? "I don't know Pi, maybe I do miss them. Not much I can do until I deal with the problems here, although I need to find a way to try and finish them by the time we reach the third round." Grinning as he looked to Pikachu, who responded with his own grin they both nodded in agreement. "Because then everyone will know we're alive." With this the raven-haired trainer and the Pokemon dropped into slumber as they both prayed the nightmares would stay away for the rest of the night.

Finally the sun rose and its beams collided with the face of a blue-haired boy who grunted in annoyance at the rude wake up. "Blasted sun, waking me up this early." Looking around he saw the rest of the group still sleeping and shrugged before looking to the clock. "Two hours until Paul's battle then mine's straight after." Max yawned and looked around until he noticed Ritchie wasn't asleep, in fact he was gone. Crunching his eyebrows the youngest of the group stood up and made his way to the door and silently slipped out.

Max moved through the empty hotel corridors until he finally heard Ritchie in the empty cafeteria talking to a cloaked man. "So, Shadow. You got any matches today?" Max's eyes widened as he heard the name of the stranger quickly focusing again he tried to hear the mans response. "Indeed, one around mid-day after your friend Max's match." He saw Shadow stretch his arms before looking back with a grin, "So Max? When did you plan to join us for breakfast?" The sudden call of his name made Max jump and come out of hiding with a shameful look before taking his seat beside Ritchie.

"Max, you should have guessed you couldn't sneak up on me. I'm too good for that." Shadow grinned at the boy as he looked at the ground before sliding him over a bowl of ramen (At this time? Ah Ash always eats weird food at weird times.) who looked at it with a raised eyebrow.

"For me?" Max questioned as he looked up to the nodding male. Without a second thought he began eating the food due a number of reasons, one he didn't want to seem rude and two, he just realised he was starving. When he finished eating he looked to the two older males at the table with him, "So? When you guys leaving for your battle? By the way, Ritchie when is your battle again?" Ritchie grinned and shook his head, "I already had it. It was extremely early so I didn't wake you guys, I won by the way it was fun." Max grunted in response, not liking missing his friends match then he looked towards Shadow who had his eyes closed beneath his hood and he slowly hummed a tune to himself. Suddenly he stopped as a scowl came on his face and he looked at the two boys in front of him.

"Listen, I have to head and deal with some.. old friends." He spoke to the two in a tone that sounded like it was containing a lot of dislike towards these 'old friends'. Raising their eyebrows they nodded and got on in return, "Don't worry Max I'll be there for your match." Standing up and turning he raised one hand and gave them a wave as he walked out the doors. When he was out of sight the two boys looked at each other with a similar expression before following Shadow.

Ash slowly walked through the streets, passing the few unlucky souls who had to awaken at this time. Continuing down the road he stopped as he reached an abandoned building, grumbling he looked around and saw no one. He was going to use his aura senses but he couldn't waste time so without a second thought he blasted open the door with his right foot, the force of the kick forced the door to snap off its hinges and fall to the floor. Walking over the broken door he entered the broken and crumbling building, an aura sphere floating in his left hand and Lucario's Pokeball in his right palm as he left Pikachu to sleep.

Watching Shadow kick down the door made Max and Ritchie sweatdrop at the dramatics before tensing as they saw two men follow him into the building dressed in the same uniform as their attackers a few nights ago, looking at Ritchie he murmured to him, "We got to go help him, something isn't right and I intend to find out." Ritchie thought the comment over before nodding and approached the building, pulling out his Pikachu's pokeball. Calling it out he explained the situation to Sparky as Max did the same to his Grovyle. Both Pokemon understood and followed their masters into the building.

Making his way through the building Ash suddenly found two steel doors, this made him smirk. "Obvious much?" Sighing he called out Lucario and the both approached the doors before halting at a deep and familiar voice.

"Now now, 'Shadow' why don't you join our party? It's so much better than what's behind that stupid door." The voice said the word Shadow with so much distaste and spite that it could make a Gyarados feel awkward with the moment, but all it served to do was make Ash chuckle as he span to face his long time nemesis.

"Ah, Mal how are you doing? Prison fun?" Ash taunted the male known as Mal, causing him to grumble in discomfort before smirking. Shaking his head slowly he raised a Pokeball and called out a Pokemon. The Pokemon was none other than a Gallade, a Psychic type. Seems fitting compared to the Aura vs. Psychic situation. Ash immediately caught on and nodded before looking to Lucario who understood and walked forward. Facing the Gallade, Lucario chuckled before standing in a fighting stance as Ash did the same with Mal. Silence loomed over the area until a clock sound rung, and the moment it hit all four beings launched forward with a roar and the battle began.

R&R! BTW I just wanted to say the revelation of Ash to his friends will come in around chapter 15 to 20, until then I will use this to try and explain his background since his disappearance.