Pokémon: Flames of Victory Reawakened(comments welcomed!) Welcome to my rewrite of the Unova League! I've always been annoyed by BW league. Not only was Ash incompetent for most of the series, but the league was... disappointing. It was over to quick, didn't have proper buildup, and featured one of the worst rivals ever, Cameron. I mean, HOW did a boy who believed 5 Pokémon was a full battle beat Ash???? Anyways, I'm not here to rant, I'm here to write. I have this story posted elsewhere, but I figured I'd share it here. I will be posting it in probably three batches - Pre league, during league and... the rest. Admittedly, the early chapters are not my best work, but I did originally begin it as a stress relief project. And in my professional opinion, it gets better further in. Like I mentioned, comments are welcome and appreciated! Feel free to comment, review, or discuss the story on this post! Spoiler: Summary The Kanto Festival has come early this year. With the return of Ash's fiery friend, Charizard, Ash begins to see things in a new light. His fire is reignited and he has one goal - victory.With the Unova League only a couple months away, he vows to make this a League to remember. Spoiler: Arc 1 - Journey to the League Spoiler: Chapter 1: Fire Ignited Hello everyone! This is a quick fic I'm toying with, a Unova league rewrite. I'm working on this as I work on my real project, Pokémon Legendary Adventures! I encourage everyone to check out that story as well. The premise is simple. The Kanto festival is held early this year, and Ash and Co run into it just a couple months before the league. The festival brings back plenty of fond memories, and sets Ash on a new path. This story will not include N, as it takes place earlier. This is a simply an AU look at what might happen if Ash approached the Unova league a little differently. The very beginning will be similar to the Charizard episode of Unova, but will quickly diverge. "So what's Charizard up to now?" Iris gushed. "I must confess, I am surprised to hear you wouldn't still be traveling with such a reliable companion," Cilan added. Ash chuckled awkwardly. "See thing is, right now Charizard is off training in a place called the Charicific Valley." Even as he spoke the words, a familiar warmth flared through him. He leaned back slightly in the booth he and his companions sat in. They had all taken a much needed break from the festivities of the Kanto Festival, and he'd just finished regaling them with the story of how he'd met Charizard. "Charicific Valley?" Iris asked, her voice tinted with confusion. Ash resisted the sudden urge to call Iris a kid. It was odd, he reflected, realizing how much he knew about Kanto and several other regions. It was easy to forget that Iris and Cilan only really knew about Unova. He fondly explained what Charicific Valley was, and how Charizard had come to train there. Just remembering how he'd left Charizard brought a lump to his throat. It had been one of the hardest things he'd ever done. But even now, looking back, he understood it had been the best. Back then, he simply didn't have the experience necessary to train Charizard and bring out his full potential. "But Charizard came back to help me lots of times!" Ash continued, grinning as he recalled everything he'd gone through. He began explaining everything they'd overcome together. The Battle Frontier in particular brought a smile to his face. Charizard had brought down an Articuno. A Legendary Pokémon. That memory was a particularly warm one. "Charizard's always been there for me," Ash continued. He glanced out the window, briefly losing himself in the memories. "I tell you, it would be really great to see Charizard again," Ash murmured. Even as he spoke the words, an idea began to form in his mind. "That would be so cool if we could all meet him!" Iris said loudly. "I agree," Cilan commented. "Your Charizard already creates a spicy aroma in my mind's eye." Ash mostly ignored Cilan's comment. Most of the things the gym leader said didn't really make sense to him. Besides, he was distracted by the idea that had begun to shape in his mind. "And you all will get to meet him!" Ash declared. xXx "Okay, all set!" Ash called, clutching the Pokéball in his hand. It hadn't been hard to decide to send Unfezant to the Professor. He knew she would appreciate the chance to play with his other bird friends he'd made over the years, such as Swellow and Staraptor. He glanced down briefly at the ball in his hand, reveling in its familiar warmth. The ball bore faint nicks and scratches from his time traveling. "Would you hurry it up already?" Iris said, bouncing up and down, her eyes shining with excitement. "Me too," Cilan agreed. "I'm tingling all over!" Ash ignored Cilan's odd word choice once more. He was too focused on seeing his friend again. He took a deep breath and tossed the Pokéball. It arced through the air then opened, spilling a familiar white light out. The light quickly formed the familiar silhouette of a Charizard - no, his Charizard. In a flash of light, Charizard emerged on the Pokémon Center battlefield, threw back his head, and roared. Shockwaves of pure energy rippled through the air, whipping everyone's clothes and sending dust flying. Finally, he stopped, grinning. "Charizard!" Ash shouted happily. "It's so good to see you!" Charizard responded in typical turn, bathing his face in a stream of flames. Ash cringed, then laughed, patting his friend's side. "That's Charizard for you," he said, chuckling. Charizard rumbled in agreement. Pikachu gave an excited cry, leaping onto the shoulder of his old friend. Charizard gave him a greeting, then flashed a 'thumbs up' to everyone else. Ash chuckled again and held out his fist. Charizard bumped it with a fist of his own and gave a cheerful growl. "Amazing," Iris breathed. Since he had emerged, she had not taken her eyes off Charizard. She quickly grabbed her four pokeballs and released her team. "Come on out and meet Charizard!" she shouted. Her team materialized around her; first Emolga, then Excadrill, and finally, Dragonite. Almost instantly, a crackling tension filled the air. Charizard's demeanor shifted instantly, his eyes taking on a dangerous gleam. Somehow, Ash didn't need to look to know what his friend was staring at. Dragonite. The powerhouse of Iris' odd little team, and a nearly unrightfully strong Pokémon she had somehow befriended. He recalled how easily Dragonite had swept through the Junior Cup tournament, defeating almost every opponent with a single blow, tanking multiple ultra-effective hits and displaying immense power. It had taken the evolution of his own Krookodile to take it down. Iris stared in surprise at her Dragonite, awed by its shift in attitude. Ash, however, felt unfazed. A slow grin crept across his face. He didn't need to speak the language of Pokémon to know what Charizard was thinking. His friend's spirit for battle had been ignited. He thought he heard Cilan make a comment, but he was so focused he didn't hear it. "We should have a battle!" Ash declared. A small cry of surprise slipped from Iris and her jaw dropped slightly. Ash thought he saw her pale briefly, but he wasn't sure. "Battle?" she asked. "Sure," Ash said, a familiar confidence returning to him. "If they want to fight, the best way to settle it is with a battle!" An eager grin began to form on Iris' face. "Whaddya say Dragonite?" she asked, turning to her partner. "How bout we show those two how we do it in the Unova region?" Dragonite answered with a bold roar. Ash couldn't help but notice Charizard seemed unfazed by the display. "Let's go!" Ash said, clenching his fist eagerly. A minute later, Ash stood across from Iris, on one end of the battlefield. Charizard and Dragonite stood in front of their respective trainers, staring each other down. He quickly scanned Charizard with his Pokédex and updated himself on his new moves. Flamethrower, Wing Attack, Dragon Pulse, Seismic Toss. "Awesome! You've been training hard, huh buddy?" Charizard growled and nodded, glancing back at his trainer with a proud grin. "Are you ready, Iris?" "Oh yeah!" She called back. "I'll go first. Dragonite, Flamethrower! Full Strength!" Ash grinned. Nothing like a good power matchup. "Charizard, you use Flamethrower too." Dragonite and Charizard both reared back, launching matching blasts of fire at each other. The two streams of fire collided and a brief struggle ensued. Then the attacks exploded in a blaze of embers and wind, casting up a cloud of smoke. When it cleared, both Pokémon stood, unharmed. Iris smirked triumphantly. "Not bad, huh?" she said. Dragonite huffed and grinned, proud of its power. Ash grinned back. "Not bad!" he called. But not enough he thought. He could tell Charizard hadn't needed to go all out to match Dragonite. After all, while Iris had used a 'full power' Flamethrower, Charizard had simply used a powerful blast. Not full strength. "Now, up in the air!" He could feel his blood boiling with excitement, and he felt his old energy returning. He'd fought together with Charizard so much... Charizard launched himself high into the air with a single flap of its wings. "You too, Dragonite," Iris called. Iris had hardly finished speaking before Dragonite launched itself into air after Charizard. The two ensued in a brief aerial chase, dipping and swooping artfully through the air. At first, it seemed Dragonite had gained the advantage. It displayed impressive maneuverability, seemingly matching Charizard at every turn. "Thunder Punch!" Iris shouted. "Wing Attack!" Ash responded. The two dragons danced around each other midair. The roles reversed, Dragonite chasing desperately after Charizard. Dragonite's claw began to crackle with electricity, and it swung wildly up at its opponent. In a sudden surge of speed, Charizard shot further ahead, its wings glowing white with energy, then spun midair and struck Dragonite. The force of the blows sent both Pokémon spiraling backwards. Ash grinned as he stared up, unsurprised to see Charizard recover first. Dragonite caught itself a second later, panting slightly. "Now, Dragon Pulse!" he called. He'd been waiting to test out Charizard's new move. A blazing beam of purple energy erupted from Charizard's jaws. Dragonite's eyes widened. "Dragon Rush!" Iris shouted quickly. Blue aura cloaked it, taking on the form of a dragon. It surged forward, towards the Dragon Pulse, colliding with the attack and pressing against it. Slowly, inch by inch, it began to force the beam of energy back. Then, as it was just yards from Charizard, Charizard opened its jaws even wider, increasing the power of the blast. Energy and smoke exploded outwards, briefly hiding the two combatants. Then a figure shot from the smoke, shooting towards the earth. Ash grinned when he saw the figure was Dragonite. "Dragonite, no!" Iris screamed. Moments before smashing into the ground, Dragonite flared its wings, catching itself. It huffed, panting more as it glared angrily upwards. From his place high in the sky, Charizard glared down triumphantly at Dragonite. Ash could see his friend was winded, but far from spent. "Ice Beam!" Iris called. "Flamethrower," Ash responded confidently. The crackling beams of icy energy shot up at Charizard and were swiftly met by Charizard's Flamethrower. The resulting collision created a burst of steam in the center. "Now, Thunder Punch," Iris called. Dragonite surrounded its claws in a cloak of electricity and shot into the cloud of steam. " "Meet that with Wing Attack." Charizard's wings took on a white glow and he shot into the mist as well. The first clash of the two moves dispersed the steam, revealing the two Pokémon locked in intense, close-quarters combat. They matched Wing Attack against Thunder Punch, blow for blow. Then, Charizard swept sideways. Dragonite's Thunder Punch missed, and Charizard seized the opportunity. He swung his glowing wing straight into Dragonite's face, sending it shooting towards the ground. It smashed into the earth, kicking up a cloud of dust. "Dragonite!" Iris shrieked, her voice bordering on whiny. Dragonite slowly stood up from the crater that had formed on the ground from its impact. Numerous small cuts and scrapes covered its body and its breath came in heaves, but the fire in its eyes hadn't died. Ash grinned. The battle was nearly over. He had to admit, Dragonite's sheer power was impressive. But he had utter faith in Charizard. He'd been training for so long, and he could not only match Dragonite's power, but he held more stamina. "We can still win this, Dragonite. Let's finish this with Dragon Rush!" Dragonite grinned and narrowed his eyes further. Blue draconic energy cloaked his body. He launched himself up at Charizard in a burst of speed. "Up!" Charizard shot higher into the air, Dragonite close in pursuit. Thanks to Charizard's greater speed, he managed to put some distance between him and Dragonite. Ash couldn't help but shout his next attack. "Let's finish this! Seismic Toss!" He didn't even have to see Chrizard to know he would be wearing a devious grin. In a skillful aerial display, Charizard came to a near full stop midair, swept sideways, and let Dragonite pass by him. Dragonite's cloak of energy faded and it paused several feet above Charizard, stunned that its attack failed. In a blur of motion, Charizard shot upwards, disappeared, then reappeared behind Dragonite. He locked his claws around Dragonite, who growled in shock, then launched himself even higher into the sky. "Oh no!" Iris cried. Her eyes were clouded with fear and surprise. The two Pokémon faded from view for a second, but Ash knew what was happening. Charizard twisted midair, aiming himself straight at the ground, then shot downwards in a blur of speed. They rocketed towards the ground like a comet, a mere blur of orange and gold. "No!" Iris screamed. Then, mere yards from the ground, Charizard flipped himself and hurled Dragonite straight into the ground. The ground exploded, dust flew, and energy surged outwards. Ash threw his arm in front of his eyes to shield them as wind whipped around him. As everything settled, he looked across at the battlefield. Charizard had landed, breathing hard, though far from spent. He smirked down at Dragonite, who lay in a huge crater, its body limp and unconscious. Silence fell for a moment. Then Charizard threw his head back and roared in triumph. "You did it!" Ash cheered, charging across the field. "That was awesome, buddy," he said. As he stared up at his Charizard, memories flooded over him. He'd accomplished so much together, with all his Pokémon friends. But now the league was fast approaching, and he realized how lax he'd become about training. Something began to stir deep inside him. Like a fire awakening. He'd been content to relax and take it easy while he'd been in Unova. But he couldn't, simply couldn't keep doing that. Not after he'd come so far, experienced so much. He owed it to his Pokémon to win the upcoming Vertress Conference. He wanted to win. And he this time, he would. So what does everyone think? I would love to hear your comments on how everything is going. That said, did you enjoyed the completed battle between Charizard and Dragonite? I was always annoyed by how they ended it like that... obviously Charizard would have won though. He was way stronger and more experienced. Dragonite was just a super OP Pokémon they handed to Iris, who did nothing to earn it. I really dislike BW anime... Spoiler: Chapter 2: Drowning Defeat Here's part 2! We will catch a glimpse of Ash's training and what he has in mind. Like I mentioned, if you want more content, feel free to check out Pokémon Legendary Adventures on my profile as well, since I hope to work on both stories. Ash crested the hill and stared happily at the sight that lay before him. Vertress City, home of the Unova League. He and his companions had arrived early at Vertress City - specifically, about three weeks early. His companions had been shocked by his sudden drive and excitement, but they'd supported him in the end, and helped him get to the city quicker. "Are you excited Ash?" Iris asked. Ever since her loss to Charizard, he noticed she'd mellowed out quite a bit. He wasn't sure why it happened, but he was happy about it. She hadn't even called him a kid once during the trip here. Iris would never admit it to him, but after meeting Ash's Charizard, she'd discovered a newfound respect for the kid. He was still a goof off sometimes, but he was a strong trainer she realized. He'd worked hard to get as good as he was. Heck, she'd even been inspired to work more with her Dragonite and Axew. "Sure am," Ash declared, pumping his fist. "I can't wait for the Unova League! I'm going to win this time for sure!" For a brief second, reflex made Iris want to call him a kid, then she held back. She was beginning to understand his enthusiasm and almost naive levels of belief were a large part of the reason he was so strong. "I smell a recipe for success!" Cilan declared. "Let's get going!" Ash crowed. Without waiting, he sprinted down the hill towards the city. The fire he'd felt since his battle alongside Charizard had only grown in the time it had taken them to get here. He was excited to begin training, and even some special training. He wanted to work more with his Unova team. He felt like he'd really neglected some of them. He glanced back at his companions, who were following at a more sedate pace. "Hurry up!" he shouted. Then he turned back and ran even faster. "Unova League, here I come!" xXx Day 1 "All right everyone, who's ready for some special training!" Ash cried out. He'd registered for the league, and now stood on one of the training fields, his Unova Pokémon arrayed in front of him. Apparently, special regulations allowed trainers to keep up to twelve Pokémon on them, as long as they didn't leave the city. So all his Unova Pokémon, plus Charizard and Pikachu, of course, stood in front of him, with looks of excitement in their eyes. One Pokéball rested on his person. He already had lots of cool plans for training running through his mind. "The Vertress Conference is in three weeks, and we're gonna have to work really hard to get ready, kay'?" He grinned at his Pokémon, a sense of pride filling him. He believed in them a lot, and he was sure he could help them get much, much stronger. He had 21 days to really get into shape. And he had a good idea where to start. "Aren't you going to use some of your old Pokémon?" Iris asked. She and Cilan sat on one of the benches, curious to see Ash's new training. "I thought you said you had lots of really strong Pokémon from your travels in other regions?" "I do," Ash said. "But I also worked so hard with these guys, I gotta give them a chance to fight. It wouldn't be fair to just switch them out after they all worked so hard." His Pokémon gave happy cries of approval. And it was true. He did still plan to use some of his former Pokémon, but he wanted to make it through the preliminaries. He was confident in his current Pokémon. There was no way he was going to give up on them. "Once I make it to the quarter finals, I think I'll bring back some of my old friends." "Now that is a strategy that brings a blend of tasty flavors together!" Cilan declared. Iris frowned at him. "Sounds to me like you just like the sound of your own voice," she muttered under her breath. Ash smiled to himself, then set aside the squabbles of the two. He had training to do. "Alright, Oshawott. How do you feel about going first?" Oshawott grunted happily and stepped forwards, tapping his shell confidently. "Great!" Ash fingered the one Pokéball that remained on his person. "I've got an old friend here who's going to help you train, got it?" Oshawott nodded again, his eyes gleaming. Ash patted Oshawott, then stepped back. He took the Pokéball and tapped the button, releasing the familiar form of an old friend - Squirtle. "Everyone, meet Squirtle! He's one of my friends from way back in Kanto!" Squirtle gave cries of greeting to all the Pokémon, waving happily at them. Oshawott in particular looked interested, and an eager gleam appeared in his eyes. Ash watched them, pleased to see how they all got along so well. He was quite glad he'd already taken a moment earlier to greet Squirtle alone. Charizard in particular looked delighted to see his friend, greeting Squirtle with a roar. Pikachu waved to Squirtle, who waved back. "Wow Ash, is that the Squirtle you told us about?" Iris asked. "Sure is," Ash replied. "He's really awesome. He's the leader of a special squad of other squirtle, and they call themselves the Squirtle Squad." Iris grinned. "Awesome!" Ash turned back to his Pokémon. "Okay Oshawott, Squirtle. You two are going to have a practice match, got it?" Oshawott faced Squirtle and grinned, tapped his scalchop and staring cockily at Squirtle, a smirk plastered across its face Squirtle grinned bag, full of smug confidence. "Ready guys?" Ash asked. The two water-types stood several feet apart on the battlefield, staring determinedly at each other. They gave matching grunts of approval. The rest of Ash's Pokémon sat on the side of the battlefield, watching intently. "Now, Oshawott, Aqua Jet!" Oshawott cloaked himself in water and launched himself at Squirtle. Squirtle, unfazed, simply grinned and lowered his head. His skull gleamed. Then, at the last moment, he leaped forward, intercepting Aqua Jet with Skull Bash. The attack shattered Oshawott's Aqua jet, striking him to the floor easily. Squirtle landed nimbly and crossed his arms. He smirked and gave a smug cry, daring Oshawott to stand. Oshawott slowly picked himself off the floor, trembling. He glared furiously at his opponent, his pride hurt. He'd never been defeated so easily. With a cry, he withdrew his scalchop and brandished it. "Okay Oshawott, use Razor Shell!" He charged across the field at Squirtle, his scalchop held high. A glowing blade of watery energy emerged from the end and he swung it viciously at the turtle Pokémon. In a flash, Squirtle shrunk into his shell and used Withdraw. Oshawott began to batter at the shell, but the attacks clearly did nothing. "Oshawott, jump back and use Hydro Pump." For the first time Ash could remember, Oshawott ignored his command. He kept striking Squirtle with Razor Shell, his blows glancing uselessly off the turtles shell. Then, in a flash, Squirtle emerged and opened his jaws wide, smashing Oshawott point blank with a Hydro Pump. The attack sent Oshawott shooting across the field, where he crashed into the ground, unconscious. Squirtle pumped his tiny claws like a fist, then crossed his arms. Pikachu and Charizard cheered happily, as did the rest of Ash's team. "Good job, Squirtle." Ash called. He crossed the field and knelt next to Oshawott who had just opened his eyes. "Hey Oshawott." Oshawott stood up, and hung his head, giving a cry of sadness. "Don't feel bad Oshawott. Squirtle is super tough, and he's been in a lot of battles. But if you work really hard, you can get strong too." At that, Oshawott looked up excitedly. "That's why I asked Squirtle to come help train you, 'kay?" Oshawott nodded excitedly and cheered. Ash grinned and patted his head. "Now, Squirtle is going to help improve your power and accuracy, so you do whatever he tells you, ok?" Oshawott nodded again, then tottered over to Squirtle. The two began to exchange cries, clearly communicating. Ash smiled proudly, then stood up. There was still lots of work to do There you have it! I wanted to bring back some old to mix the new as well as strike a balance. I can't see Ash just tossing away anyone of his Pokémon, so he won't be making switches yet. Fear not though, you will see some of his older Pokémon continue to show up! Spoiler: Chapter 3: Revenge is Best Served...With Water? Here is chapter 3! As you can see, I chose Squirtle to return and help teach Oshawott. I always HATED Ash's Oshawott. It would pop out all the time, only to lose a battle. And for some reason, it never evolved! It really made me upset, so this is my attempt at fixing things. Squirtle knocked some sense into that dense little otter last chapter, and now we will see the results of their training. Day 1, Evening Ash sank to the ground, panting. His Pokémon mirrored his actions, all equally exhausted. They were tired, but proud. Ash had been working with them all day. Unfezant had spent much of it with Charizard, who'd been helping the bird improve her flying skills. Iris and Cilan had turned in early, but he chose to stay out a bit longer to finish training. He sat up and yawned. It was getting late, and his Pokémon were tired. But before he turned in, there was one thing he wanted to do. "Hey Oshawott, Squirtle." The two water types sat up, looking at him curiously. Ash was proud of how far those two had come. Particularly Oshawott, who had gotten much stronger. "You guys think you can handle one last battle?" The two nodded eagerly, Oshawott looking particularly determined. Ash wasn't surprised. The little otter Pokémon hadn't taken his loss to Squirtle well at all. He knew full well Oshawott was eager to prove himself again. Once more, the two Pokémon squared off on the battlefield. "Okay Oshawott, Aqua Jet." Water surrounded Oshawott and he shot across the field, nearly twice as fast as he had before. Squirtle only had a few moments to tuck himself into his shell and dodge the attack. Aqua Jet slammed into Squirtle, knocking him back several feet. Squirtle popped out and grinned. Oshawott grinned back. "Now, Razor Shell!" Oshawott unsheathed his scalchop and charged. This time, Squirtle fired a Water Gun at his opponent. Oshawott sliced the attack down the center, splitting it to either side of him. Now in front of Squirtle, he began to swing his glowing scalchop at Squirtle repeatedly. Squirtle stepped and sidestepped, deftly dodging each swing. Then he fired another Water Gun, striking Oshawott point blank and knocking him back several feet. Oshawott caught himself midair and landed, panting. Still grinning, Squirtle extended his claws in a beckoning motion, taunting Oshawott. Oshawott threw his head back and howled, crying out his frustration and determination. His body began to glow and he became shrouded in a blue light. Ash's eyes lit up and he grinned. Finally! He'd long since suspected that Oshawott hadn't evolved because he lacked motivation. He'd hoped that introducing him to Squirtle would drive him to greater heights. He watched with delight as Oshawott's form shifted, growing taller and leaner. His stubby paws spounted into long ones, and his ears became more prominent. With a final swirl of energy, the light faded, revealing a Dewott, standing proud. He gave a loud cry and leered at Squirtle. Squirtle grinned, clearly pleased. Then he lowered his head, his skull gleaming. It took on a hard sheen and he charged across the field with Skull Bash. Dewott remained absolutely still. Ash waited. He could sense Dewott was up to something, and he knew he didn't need to give him a command. Just as Squirtle was about to collide with Dewott, a reddish aura flared across his body. Skull Bash connected, but Dewott only slid backwards a few feet. The red aura flared and he seized Squirtle, who gave a cry of shock. With a deft twist, Dewott hurled Squirtle across the field with a loud cry. Squirtle crashed to the ground and slid, barely catching himself. He stood up, panting. He gave a nod to Dewott, who nodded back. "Yeah!" Ash shouted. He recognized the new technique Dewott had utilized. "Dewott, you learned Revenge!" Dewott grunted happily and nodded. He reached down, ready to take off his dual scalchops and attack again, but Ash held up his hand. "That's enough." Despite Dewott's evolution, he knew the outcome of the battle would be the same. Dewott was strong, but not stronger than Squirtle, not yet. Besides, all his Pokémon were exhausted and needed a good rest. Dewott lowered his paw reluctantly, then walked across the battlefield to Squirtle and held out his paw. Squirtle evaluated it for a second, then nodded approvingly and shook it. The two traded grins and nods of respect. "You were amazing, Dewott," Ash said. Dewott cheered, tapping his dual scalchops proudly. Ash chuckled at the gesture. He supposed Dewott hadn't really changed that much. "Now, how about a nice big dinner?" Ash asked. His Pokémon all cheered happily, and followed him as he headed inside the Pokémon Center. There we have it. That sad Oshawott finally evolved! And Dewott learned Revenge! The move made sense, given how badly Oshawott lost before and how he desperately wanted a revenge of his own. Though it would still never be enough to beat that super cool boi, Squirtle. So what do you guys think? Spoiler: Chapter 4: A Burning Hot Rivalry We now get chapter 4. We shall see some more training of course, and return of another old friend. As a side note, I have to say, Unfezant is an ugly Pokémon imo. Honestly. The first form is just a bird. A plain bird. Ugh. I just rewatched Unova anime, and it KILLS me. The dialogue, the battles... it's a huge step down from Sinnoh, that's for sure. Oh well. That's what fanfic writers are for, right? Day 2 "So Oshawott finally evolved into Dewott?" Iris asked over breakfast next morning. "Uh huh," Ash mumbled around a mouthful of food he'd crammed in his mouth. He gulped and swallowed, taking a big slurp of water. "Pretty cool, right?" "Yeah!" Iris agreed. Cilan held up a finger. "I bet Oshawott just needed to taste the sweet spice of battle." Ash chuckled. "Sort of." He glanced down at Dewott, who was greedily cramming a huge bowl of food into his mouth. Of course, given his performance yesterday, Dewott had more than earned it. "I think Dewott just needed a good rival. My Squirtle really helped a lot." "Well, I always say a good rivalry is the key ingredient to success," Cilan declared. Iris rolled her eyes. "Just have to have the last word, don't you." Cilan laughed awkwardly and looked away. "So what will you do today, Ash? There's lots of fun stands and things to explore! I hear there's even a CasteliaCone stand opening today. Cilan and I are gonna go check it out. Wanna come?" "Nah," Ash replied. "That sounds tasty, but I have a little more training to do first. Maybe later." Iris shrugged. "Suit yourself. Don't expect me to save you any though." "Yeah ok," Ash said, laughing. "But don't expect to beat me if we battle again." He grinned at Iris, who pouted slightly. "Well Dragonite can still beat the rest of your Pokémon," she protested. "Except Krokorok," Ash retorted. This made Iris frown more. "Hmph," Iris grumbled. "Fine. Anyone else then." Ash just chuckled. For now, he thought. He had lots of plans for today. xXx First thing was first. He had to make a trip to the transfer station in the Pokémon Center. "Hi Professor Oak," he said, waving at the Professor as his cheerful face appeared on the screen. "Well hello, Ash. How's the training going?" "Awesome," Ash declared. "Oshawott evolved into Dewott last night." Dewott clambered up his back and peered over his shoulder. He grinned at the screen and waved. "Excellent," Oak replied. "I'm glad to hear that. Now, who did you want me to send over today?" Ash quickly explained his plan to Oak, who nodded. "That sounds like a great idea. I'll send over the Pokémon you requested immediately. Since you already sent Squirtle back, you still have one slot on your team." "Thanks, Professor!" Ash replied. xXx Not much later, Ash stood on the battlefield once again, his Pokémon surrounding him. "Charizard, can you take Pignite aside and help him with his fire moves? With your help, I'm sure Pignite can get super strong." Charizard grunted and nodded. He gestured to the fire pig with one claw and started to walk away. Pignite's eyes lit up and he followed eagerly. Ash grinned. He'd seen how Pignite had idolized the fire dragon from the moment the two had met. He was sure they were a perfect training match. With that settled, he quickly singled out Unfezant. "I have something special for today, Unfezant," Ash said. Unfezant gave a loud caw in response and flared her wings. Ash grinned, then released the Pokémon Oak had sent him. Staraptor emerged in a burst of light, flaring his wings and shrieking loudly. Ash stroked him gently, causing him to coo happily. "Hi, Staraptor! It's so great to see you again." Staraptor cooed again. Ash faced the rest of his team. "Everyone, meet Staraptor! Staraptor, this is my new team!" They gave cries of greeting, while Pikachu bounced excitedly on the ground, then leaped onto Staraptor's back. The gray bird turned around and nuzzled Pikachu, who squeaked happily. Unfezant watched Staraptor with interest. Starptor stopped playing with Pikachu to size up the other bird. "Unfezant, Staraptor is my good friend from the Sinnoh region. I know you practiced with Charizard yesterday, but Staraptor is a really good flier, and he can show you some new stuff, 'kay?" Unfezant nodded and cooed softly in understanding. Staraptor chirped to Unfezant, then took off. Unfezant spread her wings and took off after Staraptor, kicking up a gust of wind. The two began to dip and weave through the sky. "Awesome job, Unfezant!" he called, seeing her dodge a strike from Staraptor. For the next couple of hours, Ash watched the two birds, calling out encouragement and suggestions. Unfezant showed great improvement. Though she couldn't match Staraptor's power, she displayed surprising aerial grace. As he watched, the two birds began to spar, dipping and dodging, striking fast then flying away. They traded blows and strikes, their battle growing more intense. Unfezant got knocked back by an impressive series of Quick Attacks and was forced to catch her breath. Ash watched anxiously. Unfezant was being pushed to her limit. Staraptor hovered a good distance away. As Ash watched, he began to glow with a powerful aura. He was charging up Brave Bird. With a loud cry, Staraptor dived through the air, cloaked in blue light. "Don't give up Unfezant!" he clenched his fists, willing her to stay strong, not to give up. He knew she could do this... Her body began to glow with a white fire. A wide grin spread over Ash's face. Unfezant was learning a new move! The glow changed from white to orange and gold, crackling with power. With a loud shriek, Unfezant hurled herself at the approaching Staraptor, using Sky Attack. The two birds and two attacks collided, creating a small explosion. The two backed off, panting. Ash could see the telltale crackle of Brave Bird's recoil damage. Unfezant looked equally exhausted, but pleased. "Great job Unfezant!" Ash shouted. She shrieked happily and did a twirl in the sky. "You too, Staraptor. You guys are both awesome!" Staraptor gave a happy caw. The two began practicing again. Ash was about to join in, when a loud cry in the distance drew his attention. He glanced over to see Pignite and Charizard, both blasting Flamethrower attacks at each other. The two streams of flame danced back and forth in a struggle for dominance. Despite Pignite's spirit, he could see that it was being easily overpowered by Charizard. "Give it all you've got, Pignite!" he hurried over to be closer to his Pokémon. Pignite gave a loud cry and poured more energy into his Flamethrower. It doubled in size and pressed back against Charizard's briefly. Charizard narrowed his eyes. Ash could detect how impressed Charizard was, even as Charizard poured a fraction more energy into his own Flamethrower. Charizard's fire easily overpowered Pignite, disperse the flames bathing Pignite in a stream of fire. Suddenly, from deep with the flames, white light erupted. Charizard's eyes widened and he closed his mouth, ceasing his attack. Ash held his breath and watched the events transpire. Pignite's body became wreathed in the familiar light of evolution. He grew, doubling in size. His arms grew large, as did his body. The light exploded outwards as he roared happily, sending a stream of flames from his snout. There before Ash stood not Pignite, but Emboar, "Yeah!" he shouted, jumping up and down. He raced over to Emboar, taking his claws in his hands. He and Emboar danced in happy circles, Emboar snorting happily. Finally, Emboar stepped back, snorting another burst of flames into the air. The fire pig Pokémon took a few steps away and stood in front of a tree. He grinned, then raised his arm. It glowed white with energy and he smashed into the tree reducing it to splinters. "Wow," Ash breathed. "You evolved and learned a new move!" Emboar grunted and nodded proudly, putting his fists on his hips. "Awesome!" Ash crowed. He held up his hand, and Emboar gave it a high five. He turned to face the rest of Pokémon, who had stopped their training to watch Emboar. "Hey everyone, how about we head into town and get a treat. You've all been working so hard." His Pokémon all gave a chorus of happy cries. "CasteliaCones are on me!" Ash called. xXx A half hour later, he and his team, along with Cilan and Iris, were gathered in the park, munching on the sweet deliciousness of CasteliaCones. As Ash licked his cone, he gazed at his team. Pride filled him. His Pokémon were all so awesome. He'd come so far with them. "Wow Ash, Pignite evolved too?" Iris asked, taking a bite of her cone. "That's so cool." "Indeed! I guess all your training has paid off. Nothing like a recipe of training to create a masterpiece." Cilan declared. "Yup," Ash said. "And he even learned Hammer Arm." Iris stared at Emboar with newfound respect. "That's so cool. I guess it was a good thing that you spent all that extra time training this morning." She fell silent for a second. "You know what? I'm gonna train extra hard too!" She declared. Axew gave cry of shock at her sudden outburst, tumbling into her lap. "Sounds cool," Ash said. His mind was already far off, thinking of what kind of training he would do next. "Wow Ash, I can smell the gears whirring in your head from here," Cilan joked. Ash chuckled. "Yeah. I guess I'm thinking about Emboar. I'm not sure what kind of training I wanna do next." Cilan smiled and held up his finger. "I've got it! Emboar is a Fire and Fighting-type, right?" Ash nodded. "So, with a spicy combo like that, you should teach some powerful attack moves. I would recommend another fighting type move." Ash nodded thoughtfully. For once, Cilan had a point. Another fighting type move would be pretty awesome. At the very least, he needed a good sparring partner. And when it came to bringing out Emboar's full strength as both a fire and fighting type, he knew just who could help. So Emboar evolved, at Unfezant learned Sky Attack! Ash is making great progress. Spoiler: Chapter 5: Fists of Fire So chapter 5. The Pokémon returning this time is none other than... Infernape! Not that it was surprise, lol. Day 4 Ash stared happily at the Pokéball in his hands. He'd sent Staraptor back to the Professor yesterday and had one of his other Pokémon sent to him - Infernape. He stood alone on the battlefield, only Pikachu for company. He grinned and pressed the button on the Pokéball. "Go, Infernape!" The familiar fiery ape emerged and did a little dance, pumping his fists and hooting happily. "Hey Infernape!" Ash said. "It's great to see you again." Infernape gave a cry of agreement and smirked. He tensed, causing the flames on his head to blaze higher. "I bet you're raring for a fight, huh?" Infernape nodded. "Good," Ash said. He bent down slightly to look into Infernape's eyes. "I need your help. You're super strong in fighting and fire type moves. Think you can help me train another friend?" Infernape nodded. "Great!" Ash said. He released Emboar, who gave a happy cry before his gaze settled on Infernape. He grunted and snorted flames. Infernape grinned and gave a bark in response and thumped his fists against his chest. Emboar mimicked the gesture, then held out his fist. Infernape tapped his own fist against Emboar, and two traded grins. Their gazes were locked, and Ash could detect a fierce blaze of rivalry behind the amiable looks they exchanged. Perfect. He'd spoken to the Professor about his idea, and he'd approved. Both Tepig and Chimchar had known how it felt to be rejected for their perceived weakness. Their shared anger would ignite a fire within them, and push them both beyond their limits, he was sure. He chuckled to himself. It was odd, he reflected, how similar his fire Pokémon were. Although at least Paul hadn't lied the way Tepig's trainer had. As much as he often disagreed with the raven haired boy, he'd come to respect Paul. Putting aside thoughts of his old rival, he refocused on the task at hand. "Okay guys, we got some special training to do." Both Infernape and Emboar pumped their fists, giving matching grins of excitement. Ash chuckled. "Infernape, can you help Emboar work on his fighting moves? Right now he knows Hammer Arm. I want him to get really good with it, so he needs a strong sparring partner." Infernape nodded in understanding, turning to Emboar. He hotted and gestured to the fire pig. The two began trading blows, both focusing on their physical moves. Ash watched them carefully. He wanted to get to know Emboar's fighting really well, so he would be ready for the tournament. Occasionally, Infernape would pause to explain something to his training partner, then they would resume. After watching them for some time, Ash decided they had practiced enough. "You guys wanna have a practice battle?" he asked. The two gave matching cries of excitement and nodded. "Ready?" Ash asked. They nodded. "All right Emboar, use Hammer Arm! Infernape, use Mach Punch." Infernape lunged across the field no more than a blur. He appeared before Emboar, fist glowing white, just as Emboar raised his arm to strike. Infernape struck him in the stomach, but Emboar was able to swing his fist down at Infernape's head and land a glancing blow. Infernape leaped nimbly back before he could strike again. "Okay Emboar, try Fire Pledge!" Emboar swung his fist down, slamming it into the earth and sending plumes of fire erupting from the ground. "Infernape Dig!" Ash called. Infernape responded with his typical impressive speed, diving into the ground moments before flames consumed the area where he'd been standing. Emboar snorted, annoyed. A moment later, Infernape emerged from the ground, unscathed. "Emboar, use Flame Charge! And Infernape, counter with Flamethrower." Emboar cloaked himself in flames and charged across the field. Despite his increased speed, Infernape leaped out of the way and blasted Emboar in the side with Flamethrower, causing him to stagger. Emboar huffed and narrowed his eyes. Ash could see his friends' frustration. "Flame Charge, again!" Emboar growled as he cloaked himself in fire, then sprinted across the field once more. This time, Ash allowed a tiny delay before giving Infernape a command. "Dig!" he called. Infernape burrowed into the ground, dodging Flame Charge easily. A moment later, he erupted from under Emboar, causing him to fall to the ground. Emboar gave a squeal of rage and stamped his foot. "Hey Emboar, just stay calm, 'kay? You can do this." Emboar huffed and nodded. His breathing was heavier and he looked exhausted. Inwardly, Ash's mind was fumbling. He could sympathize with his friend's frustration, because he'd been worried about this very thing. Emboar was tough and had lots of spirit, but he was simply not as fast as Infernape. Flame Charge would help, but it would take time to build up speed. But he also trusted Emboar completely. "Now Infernape, Mach Punch." Infernape lunged forward and struck Emboar soundly. "Hammer Arm," Ash said calmly. Emboar brought his arm down on Infernape, but at the last second, Infernape caught the attack. Emboar gave another squeal of rage and snorted flames. His eyes narrowed and he growled. Then he took a deep breath and snorted out a massive cloud of purple smoke. Infernape inhaled and gagged, his eyes widening in shock. He released Emboar and staggered back, coughing. His body took a faint purple sheen, and tiny purple sparks danced across his body. Ash grinned and pumped his fist. "Awesome Emboar! You learned Smog!" That was unexpected. Then again, Pignite had always been one of his most determined Pokémon. He wasn't that surprised that he'd learned the damage dealing Poison-type move. It would be perfect to deal with enemies who got close, plus it would slow them down. "Flame Charge again," Ash called. Grinning, Emboar sprinted forwards once more. This time, he crashed into Infernape hard, sending the monkey flying. "Use Dig," Ash commanded as Infernape landed. Infernape grunted and burrowed underground. "Fire Pledge." Emboar smashed his fist into the earth. The ground erupted in flames, sending Infernape flying into the air. "Hammer Arm!" Ash cried. Emboar lumbered across the field as Infernape fell through the air. His arm glowed and he struck Infernape hard, sending him reeling backward. The monkey barely caught himself as he landed. Now Infernape looked almost as tired as Emboar, and Ash could see poison taking its toll. He held up his hand. "Okay guys, that's enough." The two Pokémon relaxed, and Ash hurried over to them, handing a Pecha berry to Infernape and an Oran berry to Emboar. He was glad Cilan had been kind enough to give him a bunch of berries for his training. They happily consumed their rewards and Ash smiled at them. "You guys were awesome! Thanks so much for your help, Infernape." Infernape nodded and gave a thumbs up. Emboar gave a grunt of thanks as well. Ash took out their poke balls. "Now, how about you guys take a good rest." He returned them both and put the poke balls away. Just then, Iris and Cilan entered the training field. "Hi Ash!" Iris called. "Hello! How's the training going?" Cilan asked. Ash turned to face his companions. "It's awesome! Emboar learned Smog. It'll really help him fight opponents who are fast and slow them down. My Infernape was a big help." Iris' eyes widened. "That's so cool that you have an Infernape too. Can I meet him?" she pleaded. "Sure," Ash said. "Let me just take them to the Pokémon Center first. They're really tired from battling." xXx "Mr. Ketchum?" Nurse Joy's eternally peppy voice broke the quiet of the Pokémon Center as she approached. "You're Pokémon are all healed up." Ash grinned and took his pokeballs from her. "Thanks!" Nurse Joy smiled and nodded before striding away. Ash faced Cilan and Iris, who sat across from him. Iris leaned forward eagerly, her brown eyes shining with eagerness, while Cilan sat, looking calm as ever, though he looked ready to insert a cooking related comment at any moment. Ash released Infernape, who gave a cry of greeting and did a little dance. Iris' eyes went wide and she knelt in front of Infernape. "Awesome!" she cried. She reached out to grasp him. "Wait!" Ash called. Iris paused, her hand inches from Infernape's face. The monkey was eyeing her slightly nervously. "Try to be gentle," Ash said, chuckling and rubbing the back of his neck. "Right," Iris said. She laughed awkwardly, then began to stroke Infernape gently. Cilan watched thoughtfully. "You know, it's quite the tasty treat to see the strong bond you and Infernape share. I can smell the aroma of the trials you've overcome." "Or maybe you're just smelling your own breath from talking so much," Iris retorted. Cilan gasped in shock and fell silent. The Pokémon Center doors slid open and a familiar figure strode inside. She wore a light green blouse and had long, blond hair that cascaded down her back and nearly reached her knees. Her frame was slender but strong, and she had sharp gray eyes. Ash would have recognized her anywhere. "Cynthia?" he gasped. Iris and Cilan gave loud gasps of shock as he uttered the name. The woman turned towards them and smiled. "Ash!" She called. She walked over and Ash stood up quickly. "It's good to see you, Ash. I wondered if I might see you here. Professor Juniper mentioned you were planning on entering the League." "Yeah! I'm gonna win this time," Ash said eagerly. "So what're you doing here?" "Well, I like to take a vacation now and then, and when I do, I come to Unova." Truthfully, the real reason for this was that Unova was the boondocks and full of weak trainers. It made for a great vacation spot. "Besides, I come to watch the Unova League too." Something moved in the corner of Ash's eye and he glanced over to see Iris standing nearby, eyeing Cynthia with a mix of nervousness and anticipation. "Excuse me, Cynthia?" she asked, her voice going up in pitch. "Yes?" Cynthia asked, still wearing her friendly smile. "If you could, do you think I could have a battle with you? I mean, with Axew?" she stammered. Axew popped out of her hair and clutched Iris' shoulder. "You see, my dream is to become a dragon master. And I think battling your Garchomp would really help." A flicker of surprise graced Cynthia's features, then she nodded. "I accept." Aha! A cliffhanger (of sorts). I really can't resist. Here we see Emboar learn an unexpected move - Smog. He has also formed a bond with Infernape over their shared experiences. Spoiler: Chapter 6: Leafy Aspirations Author's Notes: I just gotta say, I despise how they handled Iris as a whole. (I also despise a lot of things about BW, you may notice). Like, she says she wants to be a Dragon Master. But she never TRIES to do anything to further this. She never actively goes out to pursue a dragon-type and catch it, unless someone TELLS her 'oh looks there's a Dragonite going crazy.' (And she got handed that on a silver platter too, ugh) She's a horrible trainer. Her Axew is incompetent and useless. For a huge chunk of the show it only knew TWO moves, one of which didn't even work. The rest of her Pokémon don't even listen to her half the time. Its crazy. Ugh. Anyways, I'm rambling. I'm trying to incorporate a whole Unova fix-it, so I'm trying to fix Iris (if thats even possible lol). Day 4 - Afternoon Ash stood on the side of the battlefield, still surprised. The last thing he suspected was that Iris of all people would challenge Cynthia. Despite her talk of being a Dragon Master, he never saw her do anything to further her dream. This would be interesting. "Axew, use Scratch!" Iris shouted. Axew nodded determinedly and charged across the field, one of his claws glowing. Garchomp simply stood and waited, and Cynthia remained silent. Axew leaped into the air and began to batter it with a flurry of Scratch attacks. Garchomp moved with the blows, utterly unfazed. Iris gritted her teeth. "Alright Axew, Dragon Rage." Axew landed and began to charge up blue draconic energy. Opening his jaws wide, he threw back his head and let loose. Blue energy arced from his jaws and crashed into Garchomp. A quick burst of smoke was kicked up, then cleared. Garchomp still remained standing, seemingly unfazed. Iris frowned. Cynthia smiled. "Garchomp, Dragon Rush." Garchomp roared and raced across the field, his body cloaked in energy. He smashed into Axew hard, sending the tiny dragon flying. Axew barely managed to catch himself. "Now, Draco Meteor," Cynthia said calmly. Garchomp rumbled in acknowledgement, then shot an orb of energy upwards. It exploded, raining meteors onto the battlefield. Axew screeched in terror and began to run about, frantically trying to dodge. He managed to escape a couple, then one smashed into him and exploded. Axew was sent flying and hit the ground hard. "Oh no, Axew!" Iris cried. "Come on, get up," she pleaded. A couple seconds passed. Ash wondered if this was it. He was surprised Axew even lasted one hit, though he suspected Cynthia's Garchomp wasn't using its full strength. Then, to his surprise, Axew forced itself to its feet, panting and gasping for breath. Ash was sure the little dragon was nearly spent. Then, blue light enveloped Axew. Ash's eyes widened and Iris gasped. Energy swirled around Axew's form as he grew taller and the spine on his back lengthed. His tusks grew larger, as did his arms. Within the glow, his eyes shined a bright red. Then the light faded, revealing a Fraxure. With a loud roar, he charged across the field. As he ran, his claw became enveloped in green energy and doubled in size. He leaped in the air, slashing Dragonite across the face with a powerful Dragon Claw attack. For the first time, Garchomp flinched, just barely. The corner of its mouth crooked in a grin, showing it was impressed. Fraxure landed and smirked back. "That's amazing!" Iris shouted. "Fraxure, you evolved and learned Dragon Claw." "Your bond with Axew has deepened," Cynthia declared, smiling. Her expression became serious. "Now, Garchomp, Brick Break." In a blur of motion, Garchomp vanished, then reappeared halfway across the field directly in front of Fraxure. He swung one glowing claw down towards Fraxure's head, stopping short of striking him. A palpable wave of energy surged outward and Ash shivered. That kind of power was incredible. Iris gasped and Fraxure gaped upwards. "I think that's enough," Cynthia declared. Garchomp lowered its claw and stepped back. He grunted and gave a nod of respect to Fraxure. Iris ran across the field and wrapped Fraxure in a big hug. "You were amazing!" Fraxure growled happily, and Ash smiled as he watched the two. It was nice to see Iris get just a little closer to her goal. Seeing the battle reminded him - he had training of his own to get to. He bid his companions farewell and returned to the training grounds. xXx "So what will you do now, Ash?" Cilan asked over dinner that evening. "I'm gonna do some super intense grass-type special trainin'", he declared with a grin. He shoveled another forkful of food into his mouth. His Pokémon, who had all been training earlier, were enjoying their well-earned meal. Iris had even brought some tasty ripe berries to mix in with everyone's usual food. "Ah! There's nothing like a well-balanced grass-type. They're like a dish that's both tasty and flavorful." Ash pushed aside yet another of Cilan's nonsensical comments. "I'll send Unfezant back to the Professor for now." He grinned to himself as he thought about the training that lay in wait. He couldn't wait to see two of his old friends again. "I'm gonna go talk to the Professor right now!" Ash decided. Cramming the rest of the food into his mouth, he sprinted over to the computers. "Ah Ash," Professor Oak said as his face appeared on the screen. "So who will it be today?" Ash hurriedly swallowed the last of his food and gulped. "I'm sending you Unfezant. Can you send me Sceptile and Bulbasaur?" Oak nodded. "A good choice. I'll miss Bulbasaur, but I know he will be happy to see you. I'll send them right over." A few minutes later, Ash held the two pokeballs in his hands. "Alright guys, come on out!" he called. Sceptile and Bulbasaur emerged. Pikachu hopped off Ash's shoulder and squeaked a joyful greeting, first to Bulbasaur, then a wave to Sceptile, who acknowledged them with a nod. Ash grinned widely. "Hey Sceptile, Bulbasaur, it's so good to see you. The League is coming up, and I'm gonna need everyone's help." Sceptile smirked, and Bulbasaur gave a grunt and nodded. Ash smiled proudly at them. Tomorrow would be a good day. Day 5 "Okay everyone, who's ready for more training?" Ash was met with loud cries of excitement from all his Pokémon. Currently, he still had his whole Unova team, minus Unfezant, who was with the Professor. Charizard, of course, was still with him. The day was early, and Ash was excited to get in a full day of training. Iris had left yesterday to visit the Village of Dragons for the day, and Cilan had gone with her, stating the amazing 'conisseuring' opportunities available visiting the Village of Dragons. They wouldn't be back until tomorrow evening. "Krookodile, today you get to train with Charizard. You're really tough, and I think he can help you get even stronger." Krookodile growled eagerly and leered at Charizard, who snorted a puff of flame. Ash turned to the rest of his Pokémon. "I've got some special training in mind today. Everyone, you guys can do your regular training amongst yourselves. Snivy, Leavanny, are you ready?" They both nodded. Ash grinned and released his last two Pokémon. Bulbasaur and Sceptile emerged from their pokeballs. Sceptile immediately crossed his arms and smirked, the twig in his mouth twitching. Snivy regarded the lean reptilian grass-type intensely, a hint of awe in her eyes. Meanwhile, Bulbsaur greeted Leavanny first, and she eagerly returned the gesture, clearly happy to meet the gentle grass-type. Then Bulbasaur turned to Snivy and gave a cry of greeting. He extended a vine to her. Snivy eyed the vine. Then she gave a small snort and crossed her little arms, clearly not impressed. Bulbsaur frowned. He flicked a vine at Snivy, who batted it away and turned her nose up. She stepped closer to Sceptile, who regarded her coolly. Leavanny made an anxious whine as she looked at Snivy, then Bulbasaur. Ash chuckled at the antics of his grass-type Pokémon. Bulbasaur was definitely his most mature and easy going Pokémon. Snivy was similar in that respect, as she tended to be the one to keep her teammates out of trouble. However, he also knew she had exceptionally high standards. It wasn't exactly surprising that she wasn't impressed by Bulbasaur. After all, she probably had no idea how strong Bulbasaur was. He knelt in front of Snivy and looked into her eyes. "Do you wanna fight Sceptile, Snivy?" Snivy nodded, her gaze still fixed on Sceptile. "Well, tell you what. Beat Bulbasaur in a battle, and I'll let you battle Sceptile. I really need Sceptile's help for Leavanny, 'kay?" Snivy frowned, but nodded reluctantly. "Great. Thanks Snivy!" Ash said. "Okay Bulbasaur. You're going to battle Snivy today, does that sound good?" Bulbsaur gave an eager nod, and a determined grin spread across his old friend's face. Ash took up a battle position, with Bulbsaur and Snivy facing each other. "Leavanny, Sceptile, you two watch, ok?" They nodded and sat on the side of the field. "Alright Snivy, let's do this! Vine Whip! You use Vine Whip too, Bulbasaur." The two grass-types began to exchange blows, their vines extended. In seconds, Bulbsaur managed to snake his vines around Snivy's and yank her off balance. He slipped past her defense and began to batter her with his vines. She gave a cry of pain and leaped back, just out of range. Ash glanced at Bulbasaur. "Can you handle it from here?" Bulbsaur grinned confidently and nodded. Ash focused his attention back on Snivy. "Okay Snivy, Leaf Storm!" She summoned up the powerful twister of leaves and fired it at Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur remained still, a grin on his face. The leaves crashed into him, battering him briefly, though Ash knew the attack had barely fazed his friend. Bulbasaur was super tough, after all. "Leaf Blade!" Ash called. Snivy's tail glowed bright green. She sprang nimbly into the air and spun, bringing her tail down towards Bulbasaur. When she was just a couple feet away, Bulbsaur's bulb glowed white, and he blasted her with a Solar Beam. She was tossed aside, though she managed to catch herself, barely. She growled in frustration. Turning to face Bulbasaur, she winked at him, sending a wave of sparkling pink hearts towards him. Bulbsaur's vines extended and he easily battered the hearts away. Ash considered his next move for a moment. He really wanted Snivy to win, but he was sure she needed to train a lot more before she could. "Alright Snivy, Leaf Blade." Once again, Snivy charged Bulbasaur. This time, Bulbsaur responded by firing a barrage of Razor Leaves. "Dodge!" Ash called quickly. Snivy leaped out of the way and swung her tail into Bulbasaur's side. He grunted and stumbled, but remained standing. His vines snaked out and seized Snivy, wrapping her up tight. He slammed her into the ground several times, battering her mercilessly. Ash grimaced. He had to do something... "Leaf Blade, on the ground!" he called in a hurry. As Bulbasaur started to swing Snivy into the ground again, she twisted, smashing her glowing tail into the earth. The blowback shook her free, and she landed neatly on the ground, breathing hard. Bulbasaur, however, seemed unfazed. Ash frowned. He was sure he was doing something wrong, he just couldn't put his finger on it... "Leaf Storm," he called. Snivy summoned another barrage of leaves, firing them towards Bulbasaur. Bulbsaur jumped, dodging most of the hit, then fired a series of small seeds from his bulb. They landed around Snivy, sprouting up and wrapping around her. She let out a shriek as the Leech Seed sapped her strength. Bulbasaur landed, then fired a barrage of Razor Leaves. The attack struck Snivy, battering her. She squirmed, struggling to break free from the seed. After a moment, she managed to get free. She growled, ready to attack again. Then she staggered forwards and collapsed, unconscious. Ash sighed. "Awesome job, Bulbasaur!" Bulbasaur cheered happily at the praise. He walked over to Snivy and knelt next to her. "Hey there," he murmured gently. Snivy opened her eyes, then immediately frowned. She cast a glance over to Bulbasaur. Ash knew her pride had been rubbed the wrong way. She had always been one of his most serious battlers, so she took losses seriously too. Especially in this case. They both knew Snivy had underestimated Bulbasaur, and that had contributed hugely to her downfall. Something else was bothering Ash as well. Watching Bulbasaur battle reminded him of something. He remembered how Paul's Torterra had taught Grotle how to fight after he evolved. Grotle had to learn how to use a new battle style. Ash was beginning to worry he hadn't done enough training with Snivy's speed and power. He'd witnessed her capabilities before. But now he wanted to go even further. "Hey Snivy. I'm sorry we lost. Don't worry though, I know we can get lots stronger. Bulbasaur is going to teach you for now, then I promise I'll let you battle Sceptile." Snivy nodded, setting her pride aside for the time being. She had learned a respect for the hardy little grass type. But Ash could tell her longing remained. Her destiny was different then someone like Torterra or Bulbasaur, who could be quick at times, but were designed to take hits. She wanted to become strong and fast, like Sceptile. To her, Sceptile represented something, a goal. A lofty one, to be sure. But an attainable one. Sceptile was the paragon of power blended with speed. Ash could sense the desire in Snivy's heart to become like him. To master her body and abilities, become faster and stronger than ever. In that moment, Ash made a silent promise. He would help Snivy reach that goal, and he would do it before the Unova League. There you have it. Axew evolves (finally!) and back by popular demand, its dat boi Bulbasaur! Snivy has found herself an idol. It will take a lot of work for her to match him. With Bulbasaur's help, I'm sure she can do it. Spoiler: Chapter 7: Grassy Growth So folks, we have chapter 7. Snivy has dreams of becoming powerful, like Sceptile. But first, she must learn strength from Bulbasaur. But can she? Day 5 - Late Afternoon Snivy soared through the air and crashed to the ground, hard. She pushed herself to her feet, glaring at her opponent, Bulbasaur. She panted heavily, and Ash watched her, concerned. He wanted her to grow strong, but he also didn't want her pushing herself too hard. Bulbasaur had been training her and battling her for a few hours. So far, despite her training, she hadn't won a single match. Bulbasaur watched her, his eyes narrowed in determination. Snivy stared back and uttered a growl. Suddenly her body became enveloped in white light. She grew taller and her body lengthened, the crest like projections on her sides growing as well. When the light faded, Servine stood, tall and proud. "Snivy! You evolved! That's awesome!" Ash cheered. Servine didn't look at him, remaining focused on Bulbasaur. She shrieked, then charged Bulbasaur, her tail glowing. He flicked out his vines to stop her, but she leaped up, then right, masterfully weaving between them. Just as she was a few feet away, he aimed his bulb and fired a Razor Leaf at her. She cried out as they struck, but still managed to lash out with Leaf Blade and catch him on the side. The strike actually sent him airborne, but he caught himself with his vines, then landed. His feet barely touched the ground before he lashed out with Vine Whip, striking Servine across the face. She staggered from the impact, then collapsed, unconscious. Ash's brow creased in worry and he crossed the battlefield and knelt next to Servine. He'd actually begun to lose count of the practice matches she'd had against Bulbasaur. Despite all her attempts, she'd lost each time. Even her evolution hadn't given her the edge. Bulbasaur was hardy, quicker than many gave him credit for, and an absolute pro at utilizing his vines in combat. Not to mention, Bulbasaur simply possessed much more fighting experience. He held out an Oran berry to Servine, who was just beginning to get up. "Hey Servine, you were amazing. How are you feeling?" She took the berry and ate it silently, not looking at him. Ash could feel her frustration. Her gaze was focused on something else... Oh. She was glaring at Bulbasaur, who was busy 'talking' to Leavanny. Ash let out a sigh. Her attitude was beginning to worry him. Every time she lost, she didn't take it well and seemed to only grow more and more bitter to the kind-hearted grass-type. He doubted losing after evolving would make things better. She listened to his tutoring when it came time to practice, but outside of that, she was cold towards him. It was downright worrying, considering how she was normally tolerant and gentle with the others. In fact, the only time she'd showed hostility was towards Iris' Emolga. And that was because Emolga had deserved it. Servine finished her berry and stood up. Her gaze shifted to Sceptile briefly, and she seemed to have a look of longing. Then she glared at Bulbasaur and started to walk towards him. "Servine, wait," Ash said. Servine paused and looked back at him. "I wanna tell you a story." He sat down, cross-legged, and patted the ground beside him. Servine sat beside him, still frowning. "A long while ago, when I first became a Pokémon trainer, I met Bulbasaur. Back then, he was a protector of a group of abandoned Pokémon. He looked out for all the Pokémon in the forest and protected them. He even tried to attack me," Ash added, laughing at the memory. "It took time, but eventually he trusted me enough to join me. I learned a lot from Bulbasaur." A smile crossed his face as he remembered all the battles he'd had with Bulbasaur. Servine continued to remain silent and listen. Ash continued. "Well one day, Bulbasaur was getting ready to evolve." At that, Servine looked at him curiously. Ash supposed she must have assumed that Bulbasaur was simply not that strong. "There was this big ceremony for all the Bulbasaur in the area, and they were all going to evolve! Well, they really wanted my Bulbasaur to evolve too. But he didn't want to, so he challenged a Venasaur! That was when I really understood Bulbasaur. How he wanted to be strong his way, not just through evolution." He turned to look at Servine. She tilted her head and made a noise of confusion as if asking why he was telling her the story. "Well Servine, I wanted you to understand Bulbasaur better. He's really awesome because he fights so hard to be strong his way. You're super strong too, but in your way. But I think..." Ash struggled to find the words. "You can't be mad at Bulbasaur. I told you the story because I want you to understand him too. I think if you do, then you can get really strong too!" Ash grinned down at her. "But if you stay mad, then you'll never get stronger, ya know?" She stared back at him, then a slow grin crept across her face. She nodded in understanding. Ash sighed happily. "Great! After that, Servine approached her training with renewed vigor. However, she no longer carried the bitterness she one did. She held newfound respect for Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur trained her well, showing her how to utilize her vines, and how to increase her attack power. How to take a hit, and block them. There were more training matches, which she lost, but Ash could tell she was growing strong. Bulbasaur was being pushed to his absolute limit to beat her. He left her to continue her training and decided to check up on Leavanny. Meanwhile... In the Village of Dragons Iris skipped along the road, Fraxure skipping alongside her. They were close to the Village of Dragons now. She glanced down at Fraxure, still in awe. Her mind kept replaying the battle with Cynthia. Axew getting hit, but still getting up. Him getting hit again and still fighting. Fighting for her! And then... then it happened. Right before her eyes, her little Axew, whom she had raised since just days after hatching, evolved. She'd never felt like this. It felt like her heart was racing and she couldn't sit still. Like she could run a hundred miles and climb a mountain, all without stopping. She loved it. "Yeah Fraxure!" She shouted, leaping into the air. Fraxure mimicked the motion with a cry of joy. Cilan piped up from behind her. "Well, you're certainly fired up!" "Of course!" she cried. She looked down at Fraxure, who grinned back at her. "I can't wait to show Elder how strong Fraxure is." A short time later, Iris caught her first glimpse of the village. "Yay! Come on, Fraxure, let's race!" She sprinted down the hill and along the winding path to the village of dragons. Fraxure raced alongside her, and she held out herms, reveling in the feeling of the winds and the air. It was odd, not having Axew in her hair, but then, it was rather nice to have him racing alongside her. Mere minutes later she arrived in the Village. She waved to all the familiar faces and dragons as she headed for the Elder's house. A few minutes later she arrived. She was about to knock on the door when a voice from behind her spoke up. "Ah, so I see your Axew has finally evolved," Elder said. Iris whirled around and grinned widely. "Yeah! We challenged Cynthia and her Garchomp! She was amazing. I've never met anyone so strong. Axew fought really hard during the battle and evolved!" she gushed. Fraxure growled and threw a few air jabs, as if remembering the fight. Elder smiled softly and knelt to peer into Fraxure's eyes. "I am very proud of you, Iris. You are finally on the path to becoming a Dragon Master." "I thought I was always on the path," Iris said, tilting her head curiously. Elder chuckled. "No, my dear. The path to success requires actions. Only then can you make progress." "What about believing?" Iris protested. "Belief is important." Elder said, smiling. "But you cannot succeed on belief alone." "Can't succeed on belief alone?" Iris repeated. She stared at Elder, trying to wrap her mind around the statement. "Tell me, why do you think your Axew evolved?" She regarded Iris with an amused gaze. "Because I believe in Axew!" Iris stated firmly. "Is that all? Did Axew just evolve out of nowhere one day because you believed it should?" Iris frowned. "No. I fought Cynthia and Garchomp." Elder stared intensely at Iris. "Precisely. It took action. If you wish to accomplish your dreams, you must act on them." Iris stared at Elder, dumbfounded. Act? It made sense, she guessed, but for some reason she'd never really thought of it that way. She'd always just believed the more she spoke about being a Dragon Master, and traveled places, she would. All of a sudden, she felt very, very stupid. Like she was such a kid. "Iris!" A loud shout drew her attention and she looked over to see her old friend, Shannon, running towards her and waving. "Hi Shannon!" Iris called. She glanced back towards Elder, but the woman waved her away. "Go see your friend. There will be time later to reflect." With that, she walked off. Iris turned back to Shannon and gave the girl a quick embrace. "It's so good to see you!" "You too!" Shannon replied. "How about you come over for lunch and we can catch up?" Just then, Cilan staggered up, panting and sweating. "Lunch... sounds... great," he wheezed. He glanced up at Iris and chuckled awkwardly. "You're like a well-prepared meal - you disappeared fast!" Iris laughed. "Shannon, this is my friend, Cilan. Cilan, this is an old friend of mine from the Village of Dragons, Shannon!" "A pleasure to meet you, Shannon," he held out his hand, and she shook it. "Now, if you're talking lunch, I can help you prepare!" xXx An hour later, they were all seated around the table in Shannon's house, enjoying a tasty meal prepared by Cilan. "You're a really good cook," Shannon said shyly. "Yeah!" Iris agreed heartily, taking another bite. The good food helped distract her from Elder's words about dreams. Just then, there was a loud roar from outside. "Oh no!" Shannon cried. "That sounds like Zweilous!" "I hope it's not in trouble!" Iris said, standing up. Earlier, Shannon had introduced them to her two Zweilous, though one was acting a bit strange She, Shannon and Cilan all raced outside just in time to see one of the Zweilous finish evolving. Hydreigon looked around, as if confused. "Oh my!" Shannon said. A big smile grew on her face. "You evolved!" Hydreigon growled. Suddenly it began to thrash wildly about. It roared and launched a Draco Meteor attack into the sky. "Oh no!" Cilan yelped. "It looks like Hydreigon is going wild. Take cover!" The three of them darted about, frantically dodging the falling meteors. As the last of the meteors crashed into the earth, they peered out from behind a bush to see Hydreigon, still thrashing about. "Oh no..." Shannon murmured. Tears began to gather in her eyes. "I'm an awful trainer! And breeder. Hydreigon evolved and its not even listening and I don't know what to do!" she wailed. Sympathy welled up in Iris. "Don't say that. You have to try. Come on, I'll help calm Hydreigon down." xXx An hour later, Iris flopped on the grass, exhausted. It had taken a lot of effort to calm down Hydreigon, and was thanks in part to Dragonite that it was even possible. Shannon stood nearby, stroking Hydreigon, who rumbled happily. She faced iris, her eyes shining. "Thanks so much, Iris! I don't know what I would have done if you weren't here." Iris waved her off. "It's ok. I'm sure you would have figured out something," she said with a chuckle. "Oh, I don't know about that," Shannon said. Cilan held up his finger, posing. "You shouldn't underestimate yourself. You've got all the ingredients to become an amazing breeder one day. It takes a lot of skill to raise dragon-types." Shannon laughed uncomfortably. "Thank you... Still, I wish there was some way I could thank you Iris... Oh, I know! Hang on a moment." She trotted off, and Iris watched her go curiously. A few minutes later, she returned, cradling an egg. The egg was dark blue on the base and black on top, with small reddish flecks. She held it out to Iris. "Here! It's a Deino egg!" Iris took it, staring at it in awe. "Wow! I... Thank you so much!" she said. She stared at the egg, a mixture of emotions filling her. She remembered Elder's words. If you wish to accomplish your dreams, you must act on them. She looked at Fraxure, who was staring at the egg with wide eyes. She grinned at Fraxure. Perhaps it was time to take action. Meanwhile, back at Vertress City Ash approached Leavanny and Sceptile. It was time to check in on them. Before he'd continued training with Bulbasaur, he'd instructed Sceptile to try teaching Leavanny Leaf Blade. The grass-type technique would be perfect for her, he was sure. And he couldn't ask for a better friend to help him do it. "So how are you doin, Leavanny?" Ash asked, approaching the two grass-types. Leavanny, who had been swiping her 'hands' through the air experimentally, greeted him happily. Sceptile gave him a nod of acknowledgment. "Is she ready?" Ash asked Sceptile. Sceptile gave a nod. "Okay Leavanny, try using Leaf Blade on that big rock over there!" Ash gestured to a large boulder a fair distance away. Leavanny faced the rock and a determined gleam sparked in her eyes. Her arms glowed vivid green and took on a blade-like shape. She took two strides forwards, then blurred across the field, appearing in front of the boulder in a mere couple seconds. She slammed the attack into the boulder. It exploded in a shower of rubble. Ash stood in shock a moment, then cheered. "Leavanny that was so awesome!" he shouted. Leavanny threw her hands into the air and cheered with him. Ash turned to face Sceptile. As he gazed into the eyes of his friend, he became momentarily lost in memories. The most vivid was of his battle, not so long ago, at the Lily of the Valley Conference. Just thinking about it made him shudder. He'd been so close... he hurriedly pushed the thoughts away. That was then. This time would be different. He believed in his friends so much, and they'd all fought and trained so hard for him. He was not gonna let them down again. Besides, this time there was no Tobias to worry about. He smiled at Sceptile. "Thanks so much, Sceptile. You did an awesome job helping her out." Sceptile grunted, then gave him a smirk, the branch in his mouth twitching. Ash glanced back towards the training field, where Servine and Bulbasaur were sparring as well. A wave of pride filled him. He had the best Pokémon a trainer could ask for. And there's chapter 7, folks. Servine learns more about her trainer, and grows to understand him better. Sceptile did a great job teaching Leavanny some techniques. I really skimmed over the Iris/Hydreigon bit because its basically just the same as the episode in the actual anime. The main point was that this time, she received a Deino egg! Its not much, buts its a small attempt towards fixing her. I have a few other plans in mind for her as well. I am hoping to use some growth with all the characters to add to Ash's growth. Spoiler: Chapter 8: A Draconic Challenge Day 6 - Afternoon Ash wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. The late afternoon sun beat down on him, and he felt thirsty. Still, if his Pokémon were working hard, he wanted to work hard too. Currently, Servine was continuing her training against Bulbasaur. She had gotten much stronger since she gained her newfound understanding of him. Several times during their training matches, Bulbasaur won only by a small margin. Ash knew the day would come when Servine would succeed and beat him. It wasn't that surprising, he supposed. Servine had always taken battles quite seriously, nearly as much as Pignite - no, Emboar - he corrected himself. "Okay Servine, I've got some more special training," he called. Servine stopped her sparring and looked to Ash. Ash motioned for her to follow, then set off into the sparse woods near the Pokémon center. "Okay Servine, you've gotten really strong and tough. But now we gotta really get fast, 'kay?" Servine nodded determinedly. Ash walked until they reached a small clearing. He had a lot of ideas he'd been thinking about for Servine, some of which were inspired by his battle with Trip. He realized Servine, like Sceptile and Leavanny and Torterra, all had unique battle styles. He really wanted to develop one of his own for her. "Watch me, okay?" Ash said. He lowered his head and began doing his best to duck and weave across the clearing. He stood up when he reached the other side. "See, Servine?" he called. "We're gonna try working on your dodging and weaving." Servine smirked and nodded confidently. She darted across the field towards him, weaving fairly well. She reached him, then poked her nose in the air and grinned, as if to say 'how about that'. "Awesome! Let's keep practicing!" Ash said. xXx Ash ended up spending longer than he expected training. It was a lot of fun, working with Servine, and helping her learn to duck and weave. She was way better at it than him, of course, but he always did love training with his Pokémon. It helped him see how strong they were. And he could tell Servine was getting lots stronger. Soon she would be able to defeat Bulbasaur. Then, during one training match, it happened. Both Bulbasaur and Servine were tired, but still going strong in the fight. "Servine, Vine Whip!" Ash called. She lashed out with her vines, catching Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur retaliated with a Vine Whip of his own, his vines whipping out towards Servine. "Dodge!" Ash called. "Weave between the vines!" She dodged out of the way, then lowered her head, sprinting forwards and weaving around the vines. Ash grinned. He couldn't be prouder. Bulbasaur fired a Razor Leaf at her, and she leaped in the air, twisting around the attack before dashing close to Bulbasaur. "Now, Leaf Blade!" Ash cried. She whipped her tail around and slammed it into Bulbasaur's side, sending him tumbling across the ground. As he struggled to get up, Ash called out the next attack. "Leaf Storm!" Servine summoned a whirling cone of leaves and shot them at the downed Bulbasaur, kicking up a cloud of dust. When it settled, it revealed Bulbasaur's unconscious form. Ash cheered and ran over to Servine, taking her little hands in his own and dancing in a circle. "Servine that was awesome!" She cheered as well, before pulling away and collecting herself. She approached Bulbasaur, who had just stood up, then bowed her head to him and extended a vine. Bulbasaur extended a vine of his own and shook it. A great big grin spread over Ash's face at the sight. He was overjoyed to see that Servine had finally learned - his thoughts were cut short. A glow began to encompass Servine's body and his jaw dropped. It was happening again? He watched in awe as her body grew long and lithe, like an Arbok's. When the light faded, she had become like a true serpent, her long, curved body full of speed and power. She held her head high, regally surveying her surroundings. Ash gaped. He never expected her to evolve so soon. His excitement bubbling over, he pulled out his Pokédex to scan his new friend. Serperior, the Regal Pokémon and the evolved form of Servine. Serperior's glare can halt its opponent's movement. It increases the solar energy it absorbs. "Wow Serperior! You really evolved!" Ash cheered. He patted her on the side, and she smiled proudly at him. Pride flowed through Ash. He'd come so far in such a short time. His Pokémon had come so far for him. All their hard work... he was sure this would be a league to remember. "Alright everyone! Let's take a break!" he called happily. They'd more than earned it. xXx Day 6 - afternoon Ash sat by himself, enjoying lunch with his Pokémon. He realized it had been some time since he'd last had lunch alone. Or rather, without any human companions. It was odd. Part of him missed some form of friends present since he'd always thought journeying with friends made things more fun. He glanced at the clock. Iris was set to be back soon from the Village of Dragons, along with Cilan. He knew she had been excited to show off her newly evolved Fraxure. Looking back on it, Axew's evolution was still a shock to him. He chuckled to himself. There had been times he had doubted that Axew was even capable of evolution. Iris was getting stronger, he realized. A sudden thought occurred to him. There were some of his Pokémon Iris would probably love to meet. He quickly got up. It was time to pay another call to Professor Oak. Day 6 - Evening Ash stood just inside the Pokémon center, tapping his foot impatiently on the ground. Pikachu clung to his shoulders. He made a noise of concern, and Ash patted him. "I'm just looking forward to seeing everyone again." Which was mostly true. He was also excited about the Pokémon he'd had the professor send him. Just then, the doors slid open. Iris walked in, accompanied by Cilan. "Hey Ash!" Iris called. Cilan waved, and started towards him. Iris skipped up to him, an excited gleam in her eyes. "Hey Iris, Hey Cilan," Ash said. He grinned at them. "How was your trip?" "It was awesome!" Iris gushed. "Seeing the Village again was so cool! I even got to see a Zweilous evolve!" Ash's eyes widened. "A Zweilous huh?" He considered that for a moment. He was sure he'd heard of that Pokémon before... "Is that the one who evolves from Deino?" "Uh huh!" Iris said, smirking. "It was awesome! It evolved into a Hydreigon. But then it got really scared and started to panic." She quickly related the rest of the story of how she tamed the Hydreigon and calmed it down. "Wow," Ash said, genuinely impressed. He was almost a bit sorry he'd missed it. When he recalled Snivy's dramatic evolution, however, he didn't feel nearly so bad. Cilan held up a finger knowingly. "Iris was like an experienced chef in a fully stocked kitchen! She truly brought together a mix of flavorful experiences." Iris rolled her eyes. "And you're just like a little kid who likes being the center of attention." Ash and Iris both laughed as Cilan cringed and chuckled awkwardly. "So how did your training go?" Cilan asked, changing the subject. A huge grin spread across Ash's face. He released Serperior, as well as Sceptile and Bulbasaur. "Wow!" Iris cried. She knelt down in front of the new Pokémon. "Snivy evolved all the way to a Serperior!" She gently stroked Serperior's head and she smiled at the touch, looking as regal as ever. She looked at his other two Pokémon. "And I didn't know you had a Bulbasaur and a Sceptile!" "Yeah, they're super amazing. Sceptile even showed Leavanny how to use Leaf Blade!" "Now that's what I call a perfect recipe!" Cilan declared. "Leaf Blade is the perfect move for a Pokémon like Leavanny." "I also have another Pokémon I think you'd like to meet, Iris." He couldn't help but grin slightly deviously. "Who is it?" Iris asked, practically squealing like a little kid. Ash pulled out another Pokéball, smiling at it fondly before releasing the Pokémon within. The temperature in the room dropped several degrees as Glalie emerged and uttered a low, howling cry. The look on Iris' face changed from excitement to horror and fear and she yelped, wrapping her arms around herself and scrambling backward several feet. "I. Hate. Ice-types!" she wailed. Fraxure patted her side comfortingly as she glared furiously at Ash. Ash couldn't help but laugh at the display, as did Cilan. Iris continued to glare furiously at both of them.. "Ash Ketchum, you are such a kid!" she declared, stamping her foot. Fraxure stamped his foot as well, mimicking her. Still chuckling, Ash patted Glalie, then returned him. "I think you're the real kid, getting scared of a Pokémon like that." "Oh yeah?" Iris protested. "Well how's this for a kid?!" She reached into her hair and whipped out a Pokémon egg. She held it out and smiled quite smugly. Ash gaped in shock at the sight. "Awesome! You got an egg?" he reached out and gently took the egg, admiring it. Iris smiled proudly, placing her hands on her hips. "I'm on my way to becoming a real dragon master. My friend Shannon gave it to me." The three of them crossed over to a table in the lobby and sat down. "When do you think it will hatch?" Ash asked as he took his seat. Cilan leaned forward to examine the egg. "Hmm... I believe it is quite close to hatching." "And how would you know?" Iris snapped, frowning. She took the egg back, cradling it gently. "Because," Cilan said, gesturing dramatically with one hand on his chest. "I am also an egg connoisseur!" "Of course you are..." Iris muttered. She focused back on Ash. "So you see, I'm on my way to becoming a real dragon master. I'm going to evolve it all the way to a Hydreigon!" The egg shifted slightly in her hands. "Wow, it just moved!" Ash grinned. "Oh yeah? How long will that take?" he said playfully. "As long as Axew?" Iris crossed her arms. "Axew evolved when he was ready." Fraxure crossed his arms as well, giving a cry of agreement. "At least I have a dragon type." She added a note of smugness in her tone. At that, a devious sort of grin spread across Ash's face. He couldn't resist turning his nose up slightly and smirking. "Oh yeah?" He pulled out the second of the two pokeballs Oak had sent him, and released the Pokémon within. Gible emerged in a flash of light and snapped his jaws in greeting. The look on Iris' face was absolutely priceless. She looked ready to froth at the mouth with jealousy. "You have a Gible!" she practically screeched. "That's so cool!" She held her hand out to Gible. Gible promptly leaped into the air and bit her head. "AHHHG!" she yelped. Ash chuckled. "Come on Gible... we talked about this." He reached out and seized Gible, trying to pull him off. After several seconds of struggling, Gible suddenly released his grip, causing Ash to fall unceremoniously onto the ground. Gible snapped his jaws and gave a dubious cry, as if he didn't understand what the big deal was. Ash shook his head and sat back down, holding Gible in his lap. Iris' hair looked like a mess, though she couldn't drag her gaze away from Gible. "So Ash, what are you going to work on now?" Cilan asked. Ash chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck. "You see, I actually haven't decided yet." It was true, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do next. He still wanted to train with a couple of his other Pokémon, like Palpitoad and Boldore. And Krookodile. There was still Scraggy as well, he realized. It felt a little overwhelming, to be sure, but he liked that. He was sure he could do it, if he worked super hard. There was only about two weeks left until the conference, he realized. "Hey, I have an idea! How about we have a battle?" Iris asked. "A battle?" Ash asked. Iris bounced in her seat. "Sure! Fraxure vs Gible." She glanced down at Fraxure, who grinned eagerly. "I bet Fraxure can beat Gible." Ash grinned. He was always down for a battle. "Oh yeah? You're on!" xXx A few minutes later, Ash and Iris faced each other down on the battlefield. Cilan stood at one side, refereeing. Ash could feel his heart pumping with excitement as it usually did when he got in a battle. He couldn't wait to see how good Iris and Fraxure had gotten. Though he was completely confident in Gible. He had fought with him in the Sinnoh League after all. "Alright," Cilan said. "This will be a one on one battle! The battle will be over once one Pokémon is unable to battle. Please send out your Pokémon." Gible scampered onto the battlefield, just as Fraxure did. "Ready Gible?" Ash asked. Gible gave a growl. "Battle begin!" Cilan said. "Alright Gible, use Dragon Pulse!" Gible opened his jaws wide and blasted a beam of green energy at Fraxure. Iris stared, wide-eyed, frozen for a moment. Then she seemed to gather her wits. "Fraxure, block with Dragon Claw!" Fraxure nodded and summoned a claw of green energy and slashed the Dragon Pulse just in time, deflecting most of the damage. "Now, Dragon Rage!" Iris called. "Dodge it and use Dig!" Ash said calmly. In a flash, Gible burrowed into the ground. Fraxure's Dragon Rage passed harmlessly above. "Uh oh! Keep an eye out Fraxure," Iris said as she glanced around the battlefield. Fraxure's eyes darted about and Ash could see his trainers' nervousness reflected in its behavior. The ground right underneath Fraxure shook, and Gible burst from the ground, launching Fraxure into the air. Fraxure wailed in surprise and flailed midair. "Fraxure!" Iris yelled in a panic. "Awesome Gible! Now use Dragon Pulse!" Gible snarled and unleashed a blast of energy from his jaws, smashing into the airborne Fraxure and dealing massive damage. Fraxure collapsed to the ground, stunned. "No, Fraxure, get up!" Iris wailed. Then something shifted in Iris. She remembered her battle with Cynthia, as well as her other battles alongside Axew. She calmed the panic in her heart. "Alright Fraxure, I know you can do it." She said calmly. Fraxure's eyes shot open and he growled, pushing himself to his feet. "That's it!" Iris cheered. Suddenly, a shimmering glow wreathed Fraxure's body. Then he flew across the battlefield, cloaked in a powerful aura. Ash gaped, momentarily caught off guard by the sudden attack. Gible's eyes widened a moment before Fraxure made impact, sending him tumbling across the ground. Iris' eyes lit up. "Wow Fraxure! You learned Giga Impact! Yeah!" Gible slowly pushed himself up, panting. Ash grinned across the field at Iris. "Awesome Iris! Fraxure learned a new move!" He set his mouth in a firm line and stood up tall. "But that's not enough to stop Gible and me!" "Now Gible, Draco Meteor!" Ash actually saw Iris jaw drop at the mention of the ultra powerful dragon-type technique. Gible tilted his head upwards, orange energy gathering in his jaws. He shot an orb of golden energy into the sky. Fraxure followed the trajectory with his head, his jaw still hanging open. The orb exploded, raining down a hail of meteors. "Try to block with Dragon Claw!" Iris said. Fraxure nodded, grim determination in his eyes and he summoned a claw of green energy. The meteors arced through the air towards him, plummeting at an alarming rate of speed. Fraxure began to frantically bat them away. One, two three - There. Just as he knocked away the third meteor, one crashed down on his head, sending up an explosion of white smoke. When it cleared, Fraxure lay on the ground, unconscious. Cilan held up his hands. "Fraxure is unable to battle! The winner is Ash!" Ash smiled. "That was awesome Gible!" Iris frowned and knelt next to Fraxure, who opened his eyes and made an apologetic rumble. "You did great, Fraxure." She looked up at Ash. "Wow Ash, Gible is really strong! I can't believe it knew Draco Meteor." Ash chuckled. "Yeah, it took him forever to learn it though," he laughed recalling the many times poor Piplup had born the brunt of their training. It brought back many fond memories of traveling through Sinnoh, learning so much and meeting lots of new Pokémon. "Well, that was an impressive battle young man," a voice said. Ash whirled around to see an older man walk onto the battlefield. He wore a dress shirt and pants with suspenders, though his most noticeable feature was his white hair and beard that gave him a dragon-like appearance. "Thanks," Ash said, confused. He glanced back at his companions. Cilan gaped at the man, while Iris wilted and started to edge away. Why were they acting like that? He had the distinct feeling he'd missed something once again as if he should know this man. "Um, who are you?" he asked. The man chuckled loudly, whilst Cilan looked visibly shocked. "Ash! That's none other than the leader of the Opelucid Gym, Drayden!" Cilan said. Ash turned back to the man, his eyes shining. "Wow, you're a gym leader?" he gasped. A familiar thirst for battle welled up in him. He remembered now. Opelucid Gym. A Dragon-type gym. He'd been planning to battle it, but then he'd found out it was closed and had to fight Roxie instead. The thought of the battle against Roxie made him cringe - it had been one of the many battles he knew he could have done much better in. "Indeed I am. Though I am surprised to hear Iris didn't tell you about me," Drayden said, turning his gaze upon Iris. His eyes looked stern, though not unkind. Iris, who had been trying her best to edge away, chuckled awkwardly. "Huh? Iris, you know him?" Ash asked. "Yeah," Iris admitted. "Remember how I told you I lost that battle with Excadrill? Well I actually lost to Drayden." Determination welled up in Ash. So this was the strong trainer Iris had fought, as well as a powerful gym leader? He knew exactly what he wanted to do. "I challenge you to a battle!" Drayden turned his gaze upon Ash, considering him. Ash stared back intensely, his gaze not wavering. Finally, Drayden nodded. "Very well, I accept." He turned his gaze to Iris, who was looking more and more uncomfortable by the moment. "Noon tomorrow, I will meet you here, and we shall battle." Ash nodded, grinning in anticipation. His mind was already running wild with excitement at the prospect of fighting Drayden. He couldn't wait to try out some new Pokémon. He was absolutely sure that his training would pay off. So there it is folks. Chapter 8. A lot happened here. I'm trying to weave some more story based growth into this fanfic. So I'm trying to use Iris and other events as a springboard to test Ash's growth. Here we see Snivy reach her final form. Hooray! I decided that she should evolve fully before the league. Although thats not to say there might not be some evolutions during the league. Ash is also now trying to help her really work on that serpentine fighting style. Spoiler: Chapter 9: Taking Dragon Action So here we are at Chapter 9. Ash challenged Drayden. They will be fighting, but first, his reappearance has caused a certain wannabe dragon-master to reconsider her poor life choices. Not to mention, Ash has some work of his own he wants to do. Day 7 - very early in the morning Ash lay splayed out on his bed at the Pokémon center, snoozing peacefully, his dreams filled with the cheers of the crowds as he won his first Pokémon league. As he stood in the stadium, holding his trophy, he turned to grin at Pikachu, who was perched on his shoulder. "We did it buddy!" The little electric mouse squeaked at him and then proceeded to headbutt him, hard. "Ow! Pikachu, what was that for?" he cried indignantly. Pikachu glared at him crossly. Then he gave a frustrated cry and zapped him. Electricity shot through Ash's body and he spasmed. His eyes shot open to find himself not in the stadium, having won the league tournament, but back in the dark bedroom at the Pokémon Center. Pikachu stood an inch away from his face, tiny sparks dancing across his cheeks. "What is it, buddy?" Ash grumbled, yawning. Pikachu squeaked urgently and nodded towards the balcony. Ash groaned and rolled over, squinting towards the balcony. Outside, he could see a figure leaning on the railing. Of course, it was hard not to recognize that bushy bunch of purple hair. Ash sat up and peered at the clock on the wall. It wasn't even six! He couldn't fathom why anyone would wake up so early. Even Iris wasn't the type to wake this early. Still groggy, he got out of bed and strode towards the balcony, Pikachu trotting behind him. "Hey Iris," he muttered as he stepped into the cool early morning air. "Hey Ash," she said, her voice surprisingly lacking any of her usual pep. She held the Deino egg in her hands, stroking it absentmindedly. "What are you doing out here so early?" he asked. "Just thinking," she replied, her gaze locked on the horizon. Ash frowned. He wondered if everything was ok. Iris wasn't exactly the 'deep thinker' type. Maybe it had something to do with Drayden? She'd acted awfully strange yesterday after the gym leader had arrived. "Is it because of Drayden?" he asked on a hunch. Iris glanced at him. "Yeah," she murmured. "You see, I used to go to his school, a school that was all about dragon-types. But I never felt like I fit in there. So I left to go on a journey instead." "So? Lots of trainers go on journeys," Ash said, shrugging. "What's the big deal?" "The big deal is that I never told Drayden I was leaving!" Iris wailed. "I'm sure he came here to make me come back because I'm a failure and a bad trainer!" "Oh..." Ash murmured. "Well you're not really a failure," he said after a moment. "I mean... your Axew evolved. And you caught Dragonite." He didn't mention the fact that Dragonite had already been ridiculously strong when it joined Iris. And the fact that until about a week or so ago, she hadn't been a very impressive trainer. People just progressed at their own pace, he always believed. "Plus you have that egg!" Iris sighed. "But Dragonite was already really strong when he joined me! And Axew only just evolved." She sighed again and rested her chin on her hands. "When I visited the Village of Dragons, Elder told me something. She said that if I want to make my dreams come true, I have to act on them. But I haven't acted on them at all! I've just been acting like such a kid." That surprised Ash. He never imagined he'd hear the day that stubborn Iris admitted to acting like a kid. Iris put the egg into her hair (how on earth did she do that? Ash wondered), then leaned against the railing. "I'm pretty sure once Drayden realizes what an awful job I've done becoming a Dragon Master, he'll make me return to the school." Ash frowned. It was true, he'd never been particularly impressed by Iris' aptitude as a trainer. And he'd never seen her try to catch a dragon-type. But he did know she cared a lot about dragons. That counted for something. Plus, he'd always had faith in his friends, Pokémon or human. Dawn hadn't believed she could make a great coordinator, and Brock had his doubts about being a doctor. But he always believed his friends could do anything, as long as they believed in themselves. "Well, you can't give up!" Ash blurted. "Not if you believe in your dream." Iris stared at him curiously. Ash continued. "If you lose, or mess up, you just gotta keep trying!" he grinned and pumped his fist. "And you'll keep getting stronger! That's all," he declared confidently, putting his hands on his hips. A grin crept across Iris' face. "What a kid," she said, tossing her hair. "Well, you're right! I'm not giving up!" The first rays of sunlight crept over the horizon. Her grin grew even wider. "And I know exactly what I'll do next!" she shouted, bouncing excitedly on her toes. Ash backed away, surprised by her sudden excitement. "What?" "I'm gonna go out and catch a dragon-type Pokémon!" she cheered. Suddenly, her hair began to glow. Ash backed away further and stared nervously at her. "Uh, Iris..." "What?" she demanded. "Your hair is glowing." "AHHH!" she screamed in shock. She recovered after a moment and slipped the egg out of her hair and stared at it in awe. It glowed and pulsed every couple seconds. "Wow! It's hatching." Fraxure, who had been sleeping inside, came racing up and gave a happy cry of excitement. Ash, Pikachu, Iris, and Fraxure stared at the egg in awe as it glowed even brighter. Cilan raced up to them wide-eyed. He started to open his mouth, but Iris shushed him. The light shone so brightly that Ash could hardly bear to look at it. Then the light faded, and a young Deino lay in Iris' arms. "Wow..." she breathed. Deino yawned, then looked up at Iris. It gave a soft rumble and nuzzled her. Iris laughed happily. "Awesome!" Ash said. He reached out and stroked Deino's head, and it gave a sound almost like a purr, but much deeper. Iris stared at Deino silently for several seconds. "I'm going to be a dragon-master!" she said, eyes shining with determination. Deino gave a loud growl of agreement. "Starting today, I'm going to accomplish my dreams! And I'm going to start by catching another dragon-type!" Ash grinned. That was better. "Sounds awesome!" xXx Day 7 - Morning "Hurry up Cilan!" Iris shouted. She skipped easily along the steep path up the mountain. Ash scrambled after her, unperturbed by the rugged terrain. Cilan, however, lagged behind, panting. The sun barely peeked over the horizon as they climbed the mountain. Deino and Fraxure leaped nimbly after their trainer, utterly at home. It had been Iris' idea to climb a nearby mountain in hopes of finding a dragon-type. Iris had said it was the perfect home for something like a Druddigon. Ash had decided to tag along because he hoped to have the chance to fight a strong Pokémon. Plus, he was always curious to meet new Pokémon, and he knew his Pokémon could use a break. They'd all been training super hard, so he had let most of them stay at the Pokémon center. Currently, only Pikachu, Gible, Krokorok, Serperior, Boldore and Palpitoad were with him. The six Pokémon carry limit still applied, since he'd left the boundaries of Vertress City. He was hoping for the chance to get in some training with his other Pokémon while he was here. Few things could beat a battle against super-strong wild Pokémon if one really wanted to gain experience. Plus, seeing a dragon-type in battle would give him ideas for fighting Drayden. "I'm... coming..." Cilan wheezed. "I don't think I was prepared... for this recipe." Ash and Iris rolled their eyes. For a gym leader, Cilan didn't really impress. Iris pointed further up the slope, to a spot where the land seemed to even out. "Look! I see a cave!" She accelerated and scrambled onto the flat spot. Ash quickly followed. They emerged onto a flat patch of land in front of a wide cave mouth. Iris scanned the area. "This looks like a Druddigon cave!" she declared. "How can you tell?" Ash asked curiously. "See those big claw marks on the walls?" She pointed to deep gouges etched into the walls around the cave mouth. "That's how Druddigon mark their territory!" "Cool," Ash murmured. "Alright, let's catch a Druddigon," Iris cheered. Fraxure cheered, and Deino gave a happy rumble. Iris smiled at him and knelt down. Deino hopped into her arms, and she held him close as she started into the cave. Ash followed, quite excited by the prospect of meeting another dragon-type. It didn't take them long at all to find the Druddigon. In fact, they had barely entered the cave before a loud roar made the walls shake. A shadow moved in the darkness, and loud footsteps walked towards them. A moment later, a large Druddigon emerged from the gloom. Iris gaped at it. Ash stared in awe. He'd seen a Druddigon once before, but this one looked even more intimidating. It was rugged, tough, and exuded strength. He released Serperior, who appeared by his side. "I want you to watch real carefully, 'kay?" Ash said to her. "I want you to help me fight Drayden today, so watch how dragons fight." Serperior nodded solemnly. "Alright Ash, stay back!" Iris called. She gently set Deino down. Fraxure took up a position on her other side. "You two stay back as well," she murmured to the two dragons. Then she pulled out a Pokéball. "Go, Excadrill!" Excadrill emerged onto the field with a growl, facing down the much larger Druddigon. The two Pokémon glared at each other, each sizing the other up. Druddigon growled and lowered its head. "Excadrill, use Dig!" Excadrill burrowed into the ground nearly faster than one could blink. Druddigon's eyes widened slightly in surprise. A second later, Excadrill erupted from under Druddigon and knocked it back. Druddigon snarled, and its claws glowed bright white and doubled in length. It lashed out with a powerful Slash attack, cutting Exacdrill and sending it skidding back. Excadrill recovered and growled. "Drill Run!" Iris shouted. Excadrill wasted no time shifting its body into a drill, then launching itself across the cave at Druddigon. Druddigon growled and its jaws glowed with dark energy as it prepared Crunch. It held up its claws to block. Excadrill slammed into Druddigon, forcing the dragon backward several feet. Then Druddigon sank his jaws into Excadrill. Excadrill howled in pain as Druddigon tossed Excadrill aside. "Oh no!" Iris said. Her mind flashed back to her disastrous battle against Drayden so long ago. "Excadrill, are you ok?" as she spoke, she took out his Pokéball, ready to return him. Nothing was worth breaking the trust she fought so hard to forge. Excadrill forced himself to his feet and glared at Iris. He shook his head, then faced Druddigon. Iris nodded in understanding. He wanted to go down fighting. "Alright, Excadrill. Use Focus Blast!" Excadrill began to form the sphere of glowing blue energy between his claws. A moment later, he hurled it at Druddigon, knocking the dragon back. Druddigon roared angrily from the hit. It panted, and Ash could see it looked tired. "Don't give up Iris!" he shouted. Iris nodded. "Excadrill, use Dig!" Excadrill burrowed beneath the earth. A deep scowl grew on Druddigon's face. Anger sparked in its yellow gaze. Its body began to glow with a terrifying red aura. Iris gaped and Ash blanched. He knew that aura - Excadrill exploded from under Druddigon, slamming it in the jaw. In a terrifying blur of motion, Druddigon seized Excadrill and smashed it in the face with its fist. The Excadrill shot across the cave and smashed into a wall, sending rocks and debris flying. As the dust settled, Iris made out the unconscious form of Excadrill. She sighed and returned him. "You did awesome," she murmured to the Pokéball. She faced Druddigon, who roared triumphantly and leered at her. Iris glared at it. She wasn't giving up yet. Her hand slid to Dragonite's Pokéball. Fraxure growled and looked at her urgently. "You're right," Iris conceded. Dragonite was strong, but she needed to learn to not rely on him too much. Her other Pokémon needed to grow. "Alright Fraxure, you're up." Fraxure growled happily and leaped forwards. "Now Fraxure, Dragon Claw!" Fraxure scampered forwards, claws glowing green. Druddigon's claws glowed green as well. The two Pokémon clashed, both pressing against the other. Druddigon took a step forward, forcing the smaller Fraxure back. "Come on Fraxure!" Iris yelled. She clenched her fists, her eyes blazing with determination. This was it, she realized. This was what Elder had meant. One needed to believe, and take action. And right now, she was doing both. She was truly taking the first steps to becoming a dragon-master. "I believe in you!" she shouted. Fraxure roared and pressed back. Druddigon's eyes widened. Step by step, Fraxure reclaimed his position. With a final roar, he hurled Druddigon back with a flick of his claws. Druddigon slammed into the cave wall, denting it. Before he could move, Fraxure opened his jaws and blasted a focused beam of dragon-type energy at Druddigon, further smashing it in the wall. Iris grinned happily. "Yeah!" she cheered, hopping up and down. "Fraxure you learned Dragon Pulse. That's so amazing!" Fraxure grinned at her and did a little dance. Ash cleared his throat. "Iris, you know you gotta throw a Pokéball at Druddigon, right?" Iris' eyes widened. "Oops!" she chuckled awkwardly and quickly grabbed a Pokéball. She tossed it at the stunned form of Druddigon. It rolled once, twice, then dinged. Grinning madly, she charged over to the Pokéball and scooped it up. "Yeah! I caught a Druddigon!" Deino and Fraxure both roared happily, and Ash grinned. That battle had been awesome. It also gave him some ideas for fighting Drayden. He knew Drayden had a Druddigon of his own. He would need to be tough to beat it. Iris released her newly caught Druddigon. It stared at her intensely for a few moments, then dipped its head in respect. She sent out the rest of her Pokémon, who greeted it eagerly. As introductions were made, he contemplated. He'd learned his lesson about overthinking, back when he faced Elesa. But that didn't mean he didn't want to give a little bit of thought. He wanted to find a strong Pokémon to train against before he left the mountain. Serperior needed some experience against a tough Pokémon. "Alright, now it's time for me to find a battle!" Ash declared eagerly. "I really want Serperior to have a proper battle, now that she's evolved." Training battles were one thing, but they were not at all the same as a battle against a fierce opponent, or a trainer. "Okay!" Iris agreed. Ash led the way out of the cave, walking confidently. Serperior slithered beside him, her gaze focused. They wandered around the mountain for another hour. He had the chance to battle a few weaker wild Pokémon with Palpitoad and Boldore, though to his disappointment he didn't meet anything particularly strong. It was getting late, and he was beginning to think they would have to return to Vertress City soon. He didn't want to miss his battle with Drayden. It was pretty fun though, being back out on the road, traveling, and seeing wild Pokémon. A loud roar drew Ash's attention. In the forest a short distance below, he saw a large shape moving. "Man, that sounds like a really strong Pokémon!" The sound was quickly followed by two cries of fear. Serperior shot forwards, down the hill towards the woods. Ash ran after her. Serperior vanished into the trees. "Serperior, wait!" Ash called, running after her. He entered the woods and slowed down. Where had his Pokémon gone? Pikachu's ears twitched. "Do you see her buddy?" Ash asked. Pikachu glanced around, then flicked his ears to the left slightly. Ash headed in that direction. He heard another roar and picked up his pace. A moment later, he emerged into a clearing. Serperior stood on one side, close to Ash. Her body was angled protectively in front of two young Teddiursa. They were curled up on the ground, trembling with fright. Glaring them down was a positively humongous Rhydon. Its red eyes blazed with anger and it opened its jaws, letting out another roar. "What's going on?" Iris asked, emerging from the woods behind Ash, Cilan in tow. Ash shrugged, watching warily. Serperior seemed to be engaged in some kind of staredown with Rhydon. "Hmm..." Cilan mused. "Rhydon are known to be fiercely territorial. I'd wager that those Teddiursa got lost and wandered into Rhydon's territory. Rhydon probably got upset and tried to attack them. And Serperior seems to be protecting them." Rhydon growled and took a step towards Serperior. She met its gaze calmly, her head held high. The two Teddiursa gazed nervously at Rhydon. Pikachu gave an urgent cry and hopped to the ground, cheeks sparking, ready to fight. "Hang on Pikachu," Ash said softly. Not only was Rhydon a ground type, but he wanted Serperior to have a chance to handle this. With a roar, Rhydon's horn began to glow, and it fired a rapid barrage of rocks at Serperior. She deftly twisted out of the way each rock, utilizing the techniques Ash had worked with her on. She leaped gracefully to the side and smirked at Rhydon. Rhydon, unfazed, grinned maliciously. Then its gaze shifted to the unprotected Teddiursa. In Serperior's attempts to dodge, she had moved several feet away from them. Rhydon's horn glowed again. Serperior's eyes widened as she realized its intentions. It fired another barrage of rocks straight at the Teddiursa. Serperior shot across the battlefield, intercepting the rocks at the last moment, using her own body as a shield. The rocks crashed into her and dust exploded outwards. "No!" Ash cried. But as the dust cleared, he saw something incredible. Serperior's body was tightly coiled, forming a shield in front of the Teddiursa. Her eyes shone and her entire body pulsed a light purple. "Wow! That technique is Coil!" Cilan gasped. "It raises the user's attack, defense, and accuracy." "Awesome!" Ash gasped, wide-eyed. Serperior's gaze hardened and Rhydon scowled. Its arm began to glow white, and it charged across the clearing, arm raised and ready to strike. "Oh no! That's Hammer Arm!" Cilan shouted. Ash ignored him and grinned. Serperior could handle this. Rhydon swung his fist at Serperior. She used Coil again, her body tightening further and glowing again. Rhydon slammed its arm down on her, but the attack barely fazed Serperior. In a single fluid motion, she uncurled and smashed Rhydon across the face with a Leaf Blade attack. Rhydon roared in agony, staggered, and collapsed. Ash cheered, a mad grin spreading over his face. "Serperior, that was amazing!" he called. Serperior relaxed and smiled briefly at him. The two Teddiursa gazed at her in awe. Rhydon started to get up, glaring furiously still at Serperior. She slithered up to him, head held high, and glared right back at him. Rhydon flinched and looked away, then it turned and shuffled away, trying to maintain some semblance of dignity. Once it had gone, Serperior relaxed. "That was awesome," Ash said, walking up to her. "You learned Coil to protect those Teddiursa." Just then, an Ursaring emerged from the woods. When it saw the humans and Pokémon gathered around the Teddiursa, it began to growl. The two Teddiursa however, eagerly scrambled forwards and made a series of noises, presumably explaining everything and gesturing animatedly to Serperior. Cilan's voice piped up from behind. "That Ursaring must be their mother!" After a moment, the Ursaring's gaze softened. She scooped up her two babies, and gave a nod of respect to Serperior. She nodded back, watching as Ursaring returned to the woods. Ash watched the exchange, still grinning madly. He was happy about how amazing his Pokémon were. They had all grown leaps and bounds ever since he started really training. Especially Serperior. His battle with Drayden was going to be awesome. Speaking of which... "Cilan, what time is it?" Ash asked. "11:21." Ash's heart nearly skipped a beat. "Oh no! I gotta get back! My battle with Drayden is soon!" As they sprinted out of the woods, Ash saw Iris rolling her eyes. "Some things never change," she said. He ignored the comment. Serperior had been able to help the lost Teddiursa, and she'd learned a new move. No matter what, it had all been worth it xXx Long author's note ahead: So writing this has made me realize something. Iris is stupid in the anime, but she was an awesome concept for a character. An aspiring Dragon-master traveling with an Aspiring Pokémon master? Thats cool! She's rambunctious and adventurous, and honestly if you strip away the annoying qualities, should have been cool. So there's a bit more of her than i originally planned in this chapter, but i hope it was still enjoyable to read. I actually think she had potential to be a really fun character, which is why I am trying to fix her. Hopefully have her be more like the one from generations. And less annoying. I am trying to create a reasonable (but fast) evolution for her character arc. She is far from being a a great trainer, but I think this chapter got her a little closer? Spoiler: Chapter 10: Another One Gabites the Dust Boy, this chapter is way longer than I planned. But I wanted the whole battle with Drayden in one chapter. Anyways, I hope everyone enjoys the battle! Day 7 - afternoon "Who's ready to battle?" Ash asked eagerly, surveying his Pokémon. Most of his Unova Pokémon, as well as Gible and Sceptile, were arrayed before him. He was set to meet Drayden quite soon. He'd been informed that the rules would be traditional three-on-three. So now he had the difficult choice of deciding who to bring. "Krookodile, I want you to be in the battle," Ash said, after only a moment's thought. "I haven't really had a chance to see you, but I know you've been sparring with Charizard a bit, and I want to see how strong you are," Krookodile smirked and nodded, his eyes glinting behind his sunglasses. Ash singled out Gible, who was chewing on a rock. "You too, Gible. It'll really help you to fight another Dragon-type." Gible gave an ambiguous cry. Ash chuckled to himself. Sometimes he wondered if Gible had any idea what was going on. Turning his attention to the rest of his Pokémon, he frowned thoughtfully. That just left one more. He briefly considered Glalie, then discarded the thought. He knew his old Pokémon were more than tough enough for almost anything. No, his new team deserved the chance to fight. Pikachu leaned forwards on his shoulder and gave a questioning squeak. Ash shook his head. "Sorry buddy, not today. I think you're strong enough to fight Drayden. I want to give my other Pokémon a chance." Pikachu frowned but nodded, understanding in his gaze. Ash took in the rest of his team - Leavanny, Dewott, Emboar, Boldore, Palpiatoad, Scraggy, and Serperior. "Serperior, do you want to battle?" Serperior slithered forwards and dipped her head. It was subtle, but he could detect a fiery glint in her eyes. She wanted to prove herself. She cast sideways glance over at Sceptile, who nodded at her approvingly. Ash grinned. Those two would have to have a battle soon. "It's settled then." Ash declared, putting his hands on his hips. "Krookodile, Gible, and Serperior, you guys will fight Drayden." Iris trotted beside him, glanced furtively about, then settled her gaze on his Pokémon. "Oh wow, are those the Pokémon you'll use to fight Drayden?" Ash nodded. "Yeah!" He glanced at her. Her newly caught Druddigon followed her, and she carried Deino in her arms. Fraxure stood loyally at her side. Ash had to admit, she was finally looking like a proper dragon-type trainer. "Are you going to watch?" "Sure!" Iris said confidently. "I may have made some mistakes, but I'm going to show Drayden that I'm getting stronger." She grinned and patted Druddigon's side. "Great!" Ash said. He took one last look at the three Pokémon in front of him. Krookodile had more than proved his strength when he was the only Pokémon to take down Iris' ridiculous Dragonite. Gible, who was oblivious at times, but had a good heart and was a powerful battler. And Serperior, whose determination had earned her newfound strength. He nodded approvingly. This was going to be a great battle. xXx "This will be a three-on-three battle. When all Pokémon on either side are unable to battle, the match will be over," the referee said. "In addition to this, the gym leader will not use substitutions." Ash grinned, his blood tingling from excitement. Finally. The battle with Drayden arrived. He had a chance to test his skills. He stood on a battlefield, facing Drayden. With the League conference still two weeks away, they had been allowed to use one of the smaller fields for their match. Far across the field, opposite Ash stood Drayden, arms crossed and looking confident as ever. In the stands, Iris and Cilan sat watching, along with Pikachu and Sceptile. The referee spoke again. "Contestants, please send out your first Pokémon." Without hesitation, Ash released Gible. A moment later, a Zweilous materialized at the other end of the field. Both Pokémon growled as they faced each other. "Battle begin!" The referee called. "Gible, start with Rock Smash!" Gible growled as one of his claws glowed red. He charged across the field, faster than expected considering his size. "Zweilous, Headbutt!" Drayden called. Zweilous lowered its heads and charged. The two Pokémon crashed together, their attacks colliding. Then they were tossed apart by an explosion of energy. Gible flipped through the air, then caught himself. Drayden's eyes narrowed. "Zweilous, use Work Up," Zweilous growled. Its entire body began to glow red and began to stamp wildly from one foot to the other, roaring in anger. "Be careful Ash!" Cilan shouted from the sidelines. "Work Up is a move that-" Ash tuned out the rest of what Cilan was saying. He knew exactly what Work Up did. It raised a Pokémon's attack powers. Which was just fine by him. He preferred an all-out attack style anyway. "Gible, use Dig!" Giblle burrowed underground in a flash. Zweilous frowned and began to look around frantically. Ash waited silently. A half-second later, Gible emerged from behind Zweilous and slammed into it, sending it sliding. "Dark Pulse!" Zweilous whirled and fired a stream of swirling dark energy at Gible, striking him hard. He crashed to the ground. "Gible no!" Ash cried. It had been a hard hit, he could tell, plus it was powered up thanks to Work Up. "Now, use Headbutt," Drayden commanded. Zweilous lowered its heads and charged. Ash grimaced. "Gible, get up!" he cried. Slowly, Gible pushed himself to his feet. His eyes widened at the sight of the approaching Zweilous. He tried to spring out of the way but was too late. Headbutt crashed into him and sent him flying. He smashed into the ground hard, creating a small crater. Annoyance flickered briefly in Ash. He took a deep breath. Now more than ever, he needed to stay calm, for the sake of his Pokémon. Drayden was a powerful trainer, and he couldn't be taken lightly, Ash realized. He had to be smarter. "Okay Gible, use Dragon Pulse!" Gible fired an orb of green energy at Zweilous. "Dodge," Drayden said. Hardly had the words left his mouth before Ash gave his own command. "Dragon Pulse, one more time!" Zweilous leaped out of the way of the first one but was caught square in the chest by the second Dragon Pulse. The dragon-type staggered caught off balance. "Now, Draco Meteor!" Ash called. Gible began to focus the dragon-type energy in his body. Then he tilted his jaws upwards and fired a sphere of energy into the sky. It exploded, showering meteors onto the battlefield. Zweilous began to panic and dash around the field, clearly terrified. Several meteors struck it, damaging it severely. When the attack ended, however, it was still standing. Drayden crossed his arms. "A good attack. But you will need more than that to beat me, Ash." A scowl grew across Ash's face. Drayden was stronger than he expected. So were his Pokémon. Still, there was no way Ash was going to give in. He had come too far to lose now. "Gible, use Dig!" "Work Up," Drayden said. Zweilous repeated the early attack, glowing even brighter this time. Ash grit his teeth. Not good. Then, inspiration struck Ash. He remembered Iris' story about Hydreigon. He also recalled the times in the past when she exposited the many merits of various dragon types, particularly highlighting how temperamental some could be. "Gible, use Dig to confuse Zweilous." Drake's eyes widened slightly when he heard the command. Then Gible enacted the plan. Still using Dig, he popped up a couple of yards in front of Zweilous. "Headbutt!" Drayden snapped. Zweilous lunged forward, slamming his heads towards Gible and - Connected with air. Gible vanished underground again. Zweilous growled. Gible popped up again, only for Zweilous to try Headbutt and fail. Gible managed to repeat the gimmick several more times, each time Zweilous grew more frustrated. It began to stamp about snarl as its rage increased. "Now Gible!" Ash said. Gible shot out of the ground, opened his jaws, and fired a beam of draconic energy. "Dragonbreath!" Drayden called. Zweilous recovered, faster than Ash expected, opened twin jaws, and fired a stream of purple flames. Dragon Breath collided with Dragon Pulse, and the two moves clashed, sending out terrific waves of power. Gible's attack began to edge closer to Zweilous. Suddenly, Zweilous snarled, pouring more power into its attack. Its Dragon Breath began to overwhelm Gible, pushing his attack back. Ash gritted his teeth. Determination surged through him. "Gible!" he screamed. "Don't give uuuuppp!" A roar shook the battlefield. Gible's body became encased in swirling blue energy. Still pouring energy into the Dragon Pulse, he began to grow in size, doubling in height. His stubby claws elongated into fins, and his body grew lean. His legs grew longer until he stood fully upright. Energy exploded outwards. Gabite poured an enormous surge of power into his Dragon Pulse attack, forcing Zweilous's attack back. Dragon Pulse smashed into its body, sending it flying backward and into the stadium wall. With an audible groan, Zweilous slumped to the ground, unconscious. Ash stared, dumbfounded. Slowly, a grin spread over his face. "Gible, you evolved!" he cried happily. Gabite turned around and grinned at him, waving a claw. "Awesome!" Ash said. He quickly scanned his new Pokémon with the Pokédex. Gabite, the Cave Pokémon. It loves sparkly things. It seeks treasures in caves and hoards the loot into its nest. Drayden returned Zweilous and nodded thoughtfully. "That was some impressive tactics. I am particularly impressed by your creative use of dig." "Thanks!" Ash replied happily. "But it didn't work as well as I hoped..." "Don't discount yourself. Against a lesser Pokémon, that tactic would surely have been effective. Especially on a Zweilous or Hydreigon. They are known to be very temperamental. That said, Zweilous was only my training Pokémon. You'll have to go all out to beat my next one!" With that, Drayden tossed out a Pokéball. A Druddigon emerged onto the field with a roar. Ash shuddered. This one looked even more terrifying than the wild one Iris had caught. There was a certain gleam to its eyes and confidence in its stance that said it had won many battles. "Will the challenger substitute?" The referee asked. Ash looked at Gabite. Despite his evolution, he was panting heavily and looked pretty battered. No doubt he could probably go on a little more, but he doubted it would do much against a fresh Druddigon. "Gabite, I know you're excited because you evolved, but take a rest, ok?" Gabite nodded and trotted to his side. Ash didn't have to ponder his next choice. "Serperior, come on out!" he called. He tossed her Pokéball out. Light spilled out and Serperior emerged on the battlefield. She curled into a neat circle and regarded the Druddigon calmly. "Battle begin!" "Dragon Claw," Drayden said calmly. Druddigon charged across the battlefield, one claw raised and glowing green. "Guard with Coil," Ash said. Serperior wrapped her body tightly. It glowed purple just before Druddigon slammed his claw into her. He pressed against her, but she remained firm. "Now, Leaf Blade!" Ash called. In a blur, she lashed out, catching Druddigon across the face with her tail. The dragon staggered backward from the force of the blow. "Double Team," Drayden said. Druddigon recovered and blurred, multiple copies of it appearing all around the battlefield. Ash frowned. Double Team was always tricky. Yet... A slow grin spread over his face. "Coil, one more time!" he shouted. Serperior narrowed her eyes and wound her body into a tight, dense knot. The familiar glow filled her body. "Now, Leaf Storm!" Serperior's eyes darted about the battlefield, taking in all the copies of Druddigon dotted about the field. Suddenly, her eyes locked onto one. She flicked her tail and summoned a massive cone of glowing leaves. They shot across the battlefield and crashed into Druddigon. Its copies instantly disappeared and it howled in pain. "Flash Cannon!" Drayden commanded. Druddigon shook off its pain and growled. It opened its jaws and fired a beam of silver energy at Serperior. "Dodge!" Ash called frantically. Serperior looped into a circle shape, and the attack passed right through her body. A grin spread over Ash's face. The training had paid off. The two Pokémon paused on opposite sides of the battlefield, briefly evaluating each other. "Your Serperior is impressive," Drayden called. "I can tell you have trained with her a lot." "Thanks!" Ash said happily. "We worked really hard on dodging." "Let's test that." Druddigon's eyes narrowed and it growled in anticipation. "Dragon Claw, siege attack!" Druddigon blurred forwards, both claws glowing. "Dodge!" Ash shouted. What began was an elaborate game of tag. Serperior weaved and danced around Druddigon's blows. A few would glance off her hide, though it didn't do a lot of damage. As fast as she was, Druddigon proved nearly as tough. She would slip in blows with Leaf Blade, but they barely glanced off his scaly hide. Ash couldn't help but grimace briefly. This couldn't go on forever. He could see both Pokémon beginning to tire. Druddigon's blows grew wilder, Serperior's dodges grew sloppier. Then it happened. Druddigon swung just a little too wide with one of its blows. Serperior lunged under its arm, slipped behind it, and sliced across its back with Leaf Blade. Druddigon roared and fell to one knee. Serperior smirked triumphantly. Then Druddigon whirled around, its tail glowing blue. It slammed a Dragon Tail attack into Serperior, sending her skidding across the field. She slumped to the ground, nearly exhausted. "Now, Flash Cannon!" Drayden roared. Druddigon opened its jaws, silver light gathering within. Time seemed to slow. "Jump!" he cried. There wasn't enough time to give more directions. He could only hope she understood what he wanted. And she did. In a split second, she coiled her body into a spring-like shape and launched herself into the air, over the Flash Cannon attack. Her tail glowed bright green and she brought down one, final, Leaf Blade on Druddigon's head. It collapsed under the blow, slamming into the ground hard and sending dust flying. The dust cleared, revealing Serperior, utterly exhausted, but curled regally over Druddigon's unconscious form. "Druddigon is unable to battle. Serperior is the winner!" Ash whooped. Settling down, he smiled at Serperior and gave her a nod, which she returned. Then he pulled out her Pokéball. "Take a good rest." Once he had returned her, he grinned at Drayden. Drayden nodded approvingly. "Good job. Now let's see how you handle my final Pokémon." With a flick of his wrist, he sent out his last Pokémon. A massive olive scaled reptile appeared. Two blade like appendages protruded from its jaws, and its talons gleamed ruby in the sunlight. Ash scanned it with his Pokédex. Haxorus, the Axe Jaw Pokémon. The evolved form of Fraxure. Their sturdy tusks will stay sharp even if used to cut steel beams. These Pokémon are covered in hard armor. Awesome. He glanced at the sidelines. All his Pokémon watched, as well as Cilan and Iris. Fraxure sat by Iris' side, utterly enraptured by Haxorus. Iris, on the other hand, looked nervous. Ash recalled how she told him about Excadrill's loss to Haxorus. He glanced briefly at all his Pokémon. Pikachu let out a cheerful cry and did a little dance. Ash grinned. He wasn't going to lose today. This Pokémon would be tough. But he knew someone tougher. "Krookodile, I choose you!" Krookodile burst onto the battlefield with a roar. "Battle begin!" The words barely left the referee's mouth before Ash sprang into action. "Krookodile, Stone Edge!" Krookodile opened his jaws wide. A swirling vortex of sharp stones began to swirl around his body. He snapped his jaws shut and the stones shot across the battlefield towards Haxorus. "Rock Smash." Drayden said. The blades on the side of Haxorus' mouth glowed red. It swung its head and deftly deflected the barrage, showring the battlefield in shards of rock and dust. "Now!"Ash called. Krookodile charged into the dust cloud, a shard of rock clutched in each claw. Just as Haxorus deflected the final piece of Stone Edge, Krookodile struck. He erupted from the dust cloud, barely more than a blur of red scales. Before Haxorus could react, Krookodile sliced Haxorus twice across the chest. Haxorus roared in agony and staggered backwards. Krookodile landed and smirked gleefully. He glanced back and grinned at Ash. Ash nodded at him. "Great work!" Krookodile had known exactly what he wanted. The technique was one he borrowed from his match at the ice-type gym. The force of the blow had sent Haxorus to one knee. Ash stared, wide-eyed. He hadn't expected that much damage, even from a surprise attack. "Incredible!" Cilan said. Ash glanced at the bleachers. Cilan was watching with a look of awe. "What a tasty attack, Ash! A delicious dish, served with a side of surprise! And you earned a critical hit." he turned to Iris, who looked rather sick of his speech already. "You see, Stone Edge is a move that has a very high chance of scoring a critical hit. Critical hits do-" Ash tuned him out and grinned at Drayden. "Very good. I wasn't expecting a surprise attack, Mr. Ketchum. Haxorus, use Dragon Dance!" Ash grimaced. Not good. He recalled that Dragon Dance could raise a Pokémon speed and attack. "Krookodile, Dig!" Krookodile doved into the earth and vanished. Seconds later he erupted from the ground behind Haxorus. "Dual Chop." Haxorus whirled with terrifying speed, its twin blades glowing, and struck Krookodile. Once, twice. With the second hit, it smashed Krookodile into the floor hard. Krookodile grunted in pain as his face was slammed into the floor. "Now Rock Smash," Drayden said calmly. Haxorus raised its head again, its blades glowing red. "Block it!" Ash snapped. Krookodile recovered, and at the last second, raised his claws and blocked Haxorus' strike. Ash couldn't help but grin. It looked like all of Krookodile's sparring with Charizard had paid off. Krookodile snarled and rolled out from under Haxorus. "Crunch!" Ash said. Krookodile lunged forwards, his jaws glowing obsidian. He only succeeded in dealing a glancing blow before Haxorus dodged away. Krookodile stopped and Haxorus moved, putting distance between itself and its opponent. "Giga Impact!" Drayden shouted. "Aerial Ace!" Ash responded. A shining aura enshrouded Haxorus. It lunged across the field, looking like a golden comet. Krookodile spread his arms and threw himself forward to meet Haxorus midair. The attacks clashed and the two reptiles began vying for dominance. A second later, an explosion of energy sent both Pokémon flying. Krookodile tumbled backwards and caught himself. Haxorus slid several feet and fell to its knees briefly, before pushing itself up. It growled and narrowed its eyes. Sparks crackled over its body and it grunted. Ash grinned. Krookodile looked tired, but he knew his friend wasn't done yet. And now Haxorus would have to recharge. "Stone Edge!" This time, Krookodile raised on claw and slammed it into the earth. A line of sharp stones rippled across the earth and erupted under Haxorus, knocking it off its feet. It tumbled onto its side and roared. "We aren't done yet!" Drayden roared. "Haxorus, Dual Chop." Haxorus shoved itself to its feet. Its blades glowed green. It sprinted across the field. A sudden, crazy idea occurred to Ash. "Dig! Trip it up." In a blur, Krookodile vanished underground. As Haxorus took its next step, its foot sank into the earth. It roared in shock as its body pitched forwards. "Crunch!" Ash said. Krookodile popped from the ground, directly under Haxorus's falling body. He watched with absolute glee as Haxorus fell straight into Krookodile's open jaws. He snapped them shut on Haxorus, eliciting a final roar. Then Haxorus fell limp. Krookodile tossed it aside and grinned as he crossed his arms. Drayden nodded. "Impressive." He said simply. He took out a Pokéball and returned Haxorus. Then he looked across the battlefield at Ash. "You and your Pokémon performed excellently. I am sure you will do well in the conference." "Thanks!" Ash said, still grinning. All his Pokémon had done so awesome! Serperior had shown off her skills, Gabite had evolved, and Krookodile was stronger than ever. "My Pokémon deserve all the credit," he said honestly. "True. However, you displayed the ability to think on your feet. That is no easy feat for some trainers." Ash nodded, accepting the praise. Iris and Cilan walked up to him, both smiling. "Great job Ash!" Iris said. "I can't believe your Gabite evolved!" Ash swore he detected jealousy in her tone. Cilan started to open his mouth, but Drayden started speaking first. "Now Iris. Do you have something to say to me?" Ash looked over at Iris, surprised. She took a deep breath, clenched her fists, then blurted everything out. "Drayden, I know I left without saying anything but before you make me go back to school you should know I've been working really really hard to be a great dragon tamer! I-" Drayden held up his hand. "Let me see your Pokémon," he said sternly. Iris' face fell slightly and she nodded. One by one, she released each of her Pokémon. Fraxure, Excadrill, Emolga, Deino, Druddigon, and Dragonite. Drayden surveyed them all with an experienced eye, then nodded to himself. "Well Iris, it is clear to me that you have only just recently caught most of these Pokémon. Correct?" "Yes," Iris mumbled, hanging her head. "I got the egg yesterday and I caught Druddigon this morning. Fraxure evolved a few days ago." For a moment, Drayden said nothing. A tense silence filled the air. Ash looked back and forth between Drayden and Iris. He almost felt bad for her (but really, it was her fault, being such a kid and all). "But, I can tell you worked hard to befriend all your Pokémon. The fact that you went out this morning, just to catch a dragon Pokémon, proves to me that you are taking action." Iris looked up at Drayden, shocked. "Does this mean... I don't have to go back to school?" At that, Drayden burst into a deep, throaty chuckle. "Iris, I didn't come out here to force you to return to my school. I came because I was concerned. As I recall, you were quite upset when you left. Elder asked me to check on you." He reached out and scratched Druddigon under the chin. "Fortunately, it appears you have learned your lesson." "Oh," Iris said. She began to smile, then laugh in relief. "Thank you!" she squealed. She hugged Drayden, who seemed uncomfortable. Ash chuckled. Well, that was good, he supposed. Iris stepped back and smiled, new confidence filling her. "I know what I'm gonna do next!" she declared. "Really? What?" Ash asked. Was Iris finally making actual progress? Iris put her hands on her hips. "I'm entering the Unova League!" Spoiler: Chapter 11: Hard Rock Life Chapter 11! Ash beat Drayden, Gabite evolved and Krookodile showed off his skills! I absolutely love Krookodile by the way. Anyways, this chapter is a bit on the parody/humor side, so it won't be quite so serious, but will be fun! Enjoy! For those wondering how Iris will be able to get all the badges in time and how that will be handled. Fear not, all will be explained in this chapter! "What?!" Ash gawped at Iris. Cilan stared at her wide-eyed, equally surprised by her statement. Even her Pokémon looked shocked (Fraxure in particular). In fact, only Drayden didn't seem too surprised. "Sure! It'll be great training to become a Dragon Master. I know I've got a long way to go, but it will really help my Pokémon grow," Iris said. Ash shrugged. He couldn't really disagree with that. "But... there's just one problem Iris." "Huh? What's that?" she asked. He deadpanned. "You gotta have 8 badges to enter." Unable to resist, he added, "if you weren't such a kid you would know that." Iris laughed awkwardly. "Oh yeah..." She frowned. With only two weeks until the conference, there was nowhere near enough time to get eight badges. Cilan stepped forward and held up his index finger in a dramatic pose. "If you can't earn all eight badges, you could consider the Pokémon League Admissions Exam." "What's that?" Iris asked. "Oh yeah!" Ash said. "I remember that. In the Kanto region, there's a special school. They give you a bunch of weird tests and then you have a practice battle. If you pass, you can enter the Indigo League. But isn't that just in the Kanto region?" "Not at all!" Cilan said. "There's one in every region." A smile returned to Iris' face. "Then I'm gonna take the tests and pass them all! Then I'll come back and enter the Vertress Conference." She pumped her fist. "Sounds awesome!" Ash said. "But I'm still going to win it!" he declared. "Oh yeah? Maybe I'll win it first!" Iris shot back. Her eyes sparked with defiance. Ash frowned. Now that was ridiculous. "Dragonite couldn't defeat Charizard, so what makes you think-" Cilan stepped in between them. "Hey why, both of you-" "Quiet!" Both Ash and Iris said at the same time, whirling to face Cilan. Cilan gulped and took a step back. Ash and Iris' eyes met again. Then they both chuckled. Iris spoke first. "I don't know if I can win, but I'm going to try my hardest anyway!" She smiled happily. Ash rubbed the back of his neck and grinned back at her. "Good luck, if you're entering. League conferences are super tough." "Thanks!" Ash sighed inwardly in relief. Deep down, he knew he had nothing to worry about from Iris' Pokémon. With all the training he'd been doing, she didn't stand a chance. Plus there was a strong chance they might not even battle. The real question was what the rest of the trainers would be like. In Sinnoh, he'd managed to reach the finals. But plenty of times before that he'd failed. Still, this time would be different, he was sure of it. Nothing could stand in his way. Drayden cleared his throat. "Ash, excellent battle. You were a worthy opponent, and I believe you can go far during the league tournament. Now if you will excuse me, I must make some preparations." He peered at Ash. "Will you be here this evening? I have a matter I wish to speak with you about." Ash cocked his head to the side. "Uh... yeah. I'm gonna be training here so I should be around the Pokémon center." "Excellent. Goodbye for now." He turned to gaze intensely at Iris. "And Iris, I trust you will continue to pursue your dream of becoming a Dragon Master?" Iris nodded emphatically. "Yeah!" "Good. And you are always welcome to come to me for advice." With that, he turned and strode swiftly away. Ash turned to his Pokémon. Sceptile came over to stand nearby. He released Serperior and Gabite, who growled in greeting. "We did it guys!" he cheered. "Gabite, you were amazing! You evolved." Serperior made a trilling noise of congratulations, and Krookodile offered a fisted claw. Gabite gave a toothy grin and bumped it before turning to Ash. In a flash, he pounced on his trainer and proceeded to gnaw on his head. "Ahhhg! Gabite no!" he wailed. With Gabite's size increase, the force was more than enough to knock Ash flat on his back. Sceptile rolled his eyes, then trotted over and pulled Gabite off. Ash stood up and dusted himself off, chuckling. "Thanks, Sceptile." The grass-type nodded and backed away a few paces. Ash turned to Serperior. "You were awesome too, Serperior! I think we're nearly ready for the league." Serperior rumbled happily, then turned to Sceptile. The two stared at each other intensely. Then, Serperior dipped her head. Sceptile mimicked the motion and the two shared a brief, faint smile. Ash, on the other hand, smiled widely. Serperior had finally acknowledged Sceptile's strength. In turn, Sceptile had acknowledged her growth. He was proud of Serperior. She had finally gotten to the point where she didn't feel the need to prove herself. She had her own strength, just as Sceptile had his own. "So what will you do now, Ash?" Iris asked curiously. Ash frowned thoughtfully and tapped his chin. "Well, I really wanna do some more training with the rest of my Pokémon. Palpitoad, Boldore and Scraggy haven't gotten the chance to train a lot." Cilan stepped forward. "Any plans for how you will train them? Those three Pokémon are quite an odd combination." Ash nodded. "I have some ideas who could help," he said proudly. He would need to pay a visit to Professor Oak again. xXx Day 8 "Everyone, meet your new training partners!" Ash tossed out three pokeballs. Currently, Palpitoad, Boldore, and Scraggy were his only Pokémon out. Charizard watched from nearby, along with Pikachu. Otherwise, he was alone, since Cilan was in town and Iris had left early in the morning so take the Pokémon League Admissions Exam. Three beams of light flashed, revealing Totodile, Bayleef, and Quilava. Ash grinned, waving at all of them again. A second later, he was tackled by Bayleef, who nuzzled him affectionately. Quilava trotted over and butted him with his head, then Totodile bounced over to jump excitedly around Ash. Ash laughed as he petted his old friends. It was good to see them again. In all his excitement to travel to new places and meet new Pokémon, he realized he often forgot how much he missed his old friends too. After a few minutes, he finally managed to squirm out of the grasp of his Pokémon. Charizard walked over, calling a greeting to them. Ash gave them all several minutes to catch up. As he watched his Pokémon play together, he reflected on his time spent with them. He'd given the training of his last three Pokémon some thought, then decided on his three starters from Johto. Partially because he missed them, and partially because they were all awesome Pokémon (technically all his Pokémon were awesome though). They were strong but would be good sparring partners for Palpitoad, Boldore, and Scraggy. He was sure Totodile could probably teach Palpitoad some tricks. Bayleef would be good training for Boldore, giving him the chance to train at a disadvantage. And Quilava... well, he'd never gotten a chance to properly spend time with him since he evolved before the Lily of the Valley conference. Plus, he boasted awesome reflexes. Scraggy and he would have tons of fun. xXx Scraggy and Quilava did not have lots of fun. At first, they got on well enough. Quilava and Scraggy trained together, and Scraggy worked hard on his attacking and reflexes. Totodile and Palpitoad worked well, though he suspected Totodile did more playing with Plapitoad than training. Boldore and Bayleef got along well. Both Pokémon seemed to be of like mind and enjoyed each other's company greatly. The real trouble with Scraggy and Quilava started during a break from their training. He'd given each of his Pokémon a dish of special food that Cilan helped him make. He'd even added extra berries on top to help his Pokémon recover quicker. Scraggy had finished his berries first and reached over to take a bite of Quilava's food when he wasn't looking. Unfortunately, he wasn't quite fast enough and got himself a face full of fire for his trouble. The flames torched all of Scraggy's remaining food to dust. The two had immediately started squabbling; Scraggy was furious over his lost food, Quilava was angry Scraggy tried to steal. "Guys, stop that!" Ash cried. Scraggy leered at Quilava, causing the fire Pokémon to retaliate with a Flamethrower attack. Scraggy shook off the fire and growled. Scraggy hands glowed with reddish-black energy. He lunged at Quilava and struck him hard. Quilava growled in response, ready to attack again. Ash stepped in, snatching up Scraggy. "Come on Scraggy, you gotta stop!" Quilava backed off, still scowling. Pikachu trotted up beside him, nuzzling him and trying to calm him. Scraggy began to squirm less, so Ash sat down, though he still held him. "Scraggy, you can't just take another Pokémon's food." After a few seconds, Scraggy fell still. Ash set him down and looked him in the eye. "Scraggy, you gotta apologize to Quilava, ok? He's your friend." Scraggy grunted, then nodded in understanding. He turned around and trotted over to Quilava, clutching his loose, scaly skin as he toddled over to Quilava. The two Pokémon began to exchange grunts and cries. Finally, Quilava grinned and nodded. He stood up on his hindlegs and extended a paw to Scraggy, who shook it. Ash let out a breath of relief. Good. His Pokémon were learning. And best of all, it looked like Scraggy had learned a new move! A quick check with his Pokédex revealed that the new move was something called 'Assurance'. Apparently it could deal extra damage if Scraggy had just been hit with a move. Something like that would definitely come in handy. "You learned Assurance, Scraggy?" Scraggy nodded. Ash patted his head. "Good job." He chuckled to himself. The circumstances had been odd, but he could never be upset about learning a new move. "But next time, don't steal food, kay?" Scraggy grinned and nodded. Satisfied, Ash stood up. "Who's ready to start training again?" His Pokémon replied with a cacophony of excited cries. xXx Ash spent the rest of the afternoon training. By the time he turned in for the evening, both he and his Pokémon were tired, but satisfied. It hadn't been much, but he was sure all his Pokémon had made improvements. Palpitoad had improved his agility a bit. Boldore's defenses had gotten better, and Scraggy had boosted his power. Needless to say, he was pleased. Now all his attention was focused on whatever Drayden had wanted to talk to him about. He found the gym leader waiting for him in the lobby of the Pokémon Center. He approached the man, a hint of nervousness fluttering in his stomach. "Hello Ash," Drayden said. "I'm glad you're here." "Yeah, of course!" Ash replied. "What did you want to tell me?" "It's simple. During our battle I made some observations about your team, particularly your Serperior. Tell me, how long have you been travelling?" "A while. I've travelled through Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh regions." Drayden nodded. "I thought as much. It is clear you are an experienced trainer. So I have some recommendations for you." Ash leaned forward slightly. Any advice from an experienced gym leader like Drayden was sure to be valuable. "You must consider teaching your Pokémon more diverse moves." "More... diverse moves?" Ash asked, perplexed. "Yes," Drayden said. "For example. Your Serperior knows mostly grass-type moves to attack. But what if she has to fight a fire type? You should consider seeing if your Pokémon can learn moves of other types to help during battle." Ash had never given much thought to purposely teaching a Pokémon a move. Not since... well maybe not since helping Turtwing learn Energy Ball, back in Sinnoh. Mostly he'd been happy letting his Pokémon develop at their own pace. Maybe it was time to really teach them some moves. "Where do I start?" xXx Day 9 The next morning, Ash left the Pokémon Center, deep in thought. Drayden's lecture last night had been educational, to say the least. He had explained how Pokémon could learn moves during battle, from other Pokémon, or through rigorous training. With that in mind, Ash had decided to do some special move training. And he had decided to start with Boldore. Drayden had told him that the rock type could learn Solar Beam. So he'd asked Cilan to have Pansage show Boldore the move. Pikachu's ears twitched and he gave a questioning squeak. Just then, two trainers approached him. Both wore friendly smiles. One appeared to be a man with spiky blue hair, glasses and wore a leather jacket. The other, a woman, had long flowing reddish-pink hair that fell in waves down her back and wore a pair of long robes that reached the ground. She also wore an odd hat, perched low over her head. A Kadabra stood between the two of them, though it looked a little small. "Hey there trainer," the man said. His voice seemed oddly high pitched and forced, like he was trying hard to sound cool. "The name is Jame-" his eyes widened and he stuttered. "Jambo!" he chuckled awkwardly and rubbed his hands together. "Hey?" Ash said, a little confused. The woman spoke up. "My name is Jesselle." She spoke as if she was drawing out each word in an attempt to sound more mysterious. She folded her hands in front of her. "We came to ask for your assistance." "My assistance?" Ash asked, still puzzled. "What do you need my help for?" Jesselle gestured to the Kadabra that stood between them. "This here is our dear sweet Kadabra. It dreams of one day becoming an Alakazam. But to evolve, a Kadabra has to be traded." Jambo tagged onto her sentence. "So we need to find a good, trustworthy trainer to trade with." "I'm trustworthy!" Ash said with a grin. Pikachu squeaked in agreement. He was always ready to help a fellow trainer. "You can trade Kadabra to me and I'll trade him right back!" A toothy smirk stretched across Jesselle's face. "Perfect! Just trade over that Pikachu of yours and-" Ash immediately shook his head. "Nah, I'll never trade Pikachu. He'd hate it! But I have my Boldore." Jesselle frowned. "Oh, we don't want to trouble you, you can just use Pikachu instead, really," she protested. "Nah, it's no trouble!" Ash said happily. Both trainers frowned and glanced at each other. "One moment please!" Jesselle said in an overly chipper voice. She grabbed Jambo and dragged him a few feet away. The two began to whisper urgently to each other. What was going on? Ash wondered. "Everything ok?" he asked. They scampered back over to him, grinning widely. "Oh yes!" they said in unison. Jambo continued. "It would be... super cool if you traded with us. To help us evolve Kadabra here." Ash couldn't fathom why they were acting so strangely. Then again, lots of trainers had odd personalities. He didn't want to judge them. "We can go back to the Pokémon Center right now and trade." "Nonsense!" Jambo said in a hurry. "No need to walk all the way back there. We have our own special trading machine set up nearby." Ash frowned and glanced behind him. He could still see the Pokémon Center. It was like... a thirty-second walk away. As if sensing his thoughts, Jesselle spoke up. "We're uh... very particular, you see. Kadabra here only likes to use our machines. Isn't that right Kadabra?" she glanced down at it and nudged it sharply with her foot. Kadabra's eyes widened and it nodded its head quickly. "Alright..." Ash said. He supposed it didn't really matter. As long as he helped the trainers evolve their Pokémon he was happy. He'd never witnessed a Kadabra evolve into an Alakazam before. It would be fun. "Let's go then!" he said excitedly. A few minutes later, he stood with Jesselle and Jambo in front of a large contraption. It was set in a small clearing of the forest not far from where he'd met them. Pikachu hopped off his shoulder and began to sniff the machine curiously. It looked like a large box with two tubes on either side. The tubes connected to two large dome-shaped containers. The Kadabra sat inside one of the domes. "Alright just place your Boldore's Pokéball right here." Jambo gestured to the other dome. "Then I'll flip this switch here-" he gestured to a large switch on the main box, "-and Presto! One Alakazam!" "Sounds awesome!" Ash said. He took out Boldore's Pokéball, then paused before he set it inside the dome. "One Alakazam evolves, I'll just send him back, right? And you'll send me Boldore?" Jesselle nodded her head emphatically. "Yes yes, now go ahead and put the Pokéball inside. You wouldn't want to keep poor Kadabra waiting, would you?" Kadabra made a huge frown. "Of course not!" Ash said. He placed the Pokéball inside. Jambo smiled and flipped the switch. The two domes began to glow brightly, so much that Ash couldn't see the Pokémon inside. Then it began to shake and rumble. After several seconds, the light faded and the machine stopped shaking. The Kadabra now sat in the dome closest to him, while Boldore's Pokéball rested in the opposite one. Suddenly, smoke began to pour from the machine. The smoke filled the whole clearing, making it impossible to see anything. Ash coughed and gagged. "What's going on?!" he cried. The smoke cleared after a short time. Kadabra remained, but Boldore's Pokéball was gone. And several yards in the air, a very familiar balloon hovered. A balloon shaped like a giant meowth. Inside the balloon stood none other than Jesselle and Jambo. A second later they tore off their disguises, revealing Jessie and James. "Team Rocket!" Ash yelled angrily, disgust rising inside him. In a cage beneath the balloon, Ash could see Boldore, banging away at the bars, to no avail. Team Rocket began to spout their motto, but Ash ignored them. "Pikachu, use Thunderbolt!" Pikachu sprang off his shoulder into the air. Suddenly, Kadabra moved. It tore off its disguise, revealing Meowth holding a net launcher. Before Pikachu could launch his attack, he fired it, wrapping Pikachu in a net. "Pikachu!" Ash cried out. He lunged for Pikachu, but both he and the net were yanked upwards. He looked up in shock to see a cord attached to the balloon. He watched helplessly as Mewoth rode on the net, pulled up by Jessie and James. "Give my Pokémon back!" he shouted furiously. Boldore smashed against the bars of its cage again, and Pikachu tried to shock the net. Both attacks failed utterly. "Ya think ya can break thru these? You're wrong!" Meowth said menacingly. "These are our new ultra-powerful unbreakable super capture devices! You're never gonna get out." Boldore growled in frustration and smashed himself against the cage. "Boldore!" Ash yelled. Suddenly, Boldore's body began to glow vividly. He became a shining silhouette. Then he began to grow. His body doubled in size, forcing the bars of the cage to bend. Team Rocket's eyes all went wide with terror. "That cage is unbreakable, right?" Jessie asked. Meowth nodded. "Uh huh." James took a step back. "Then... how come it's breaking!?" he screamed. With a roar, Boldore shattered the cage. He fell down to the earth, but easily caught himself, landing on his new legs. Ash gaped at his friend. "Boldore, you evolved!" A quick check of his Pokédex revealed that his new form was called Gigalith. "Awesome!" he said. Jessie and James' faces turned white. "Uh oh. I think that's our cue to leave!" they said in unison. "Mewoth, thats right!" Meowth began pouring extra fuel into the balloon's fire. It started to raise higher into the air. "Oh no you don't!" Ash said. Pikachu was still trapped on the balloon. "Gigalith, use Flash Cannon!" Gigalith made a loud grating roar. He turned and faced the balloon. A silver beam of energy shot outwards and pierced the balloon, sending it spiraling down. Pikachu, still trapped in the net, plummeted from the balloon. "Pikachu!" Ash wailed. He sprinted towards the falling Pokémon, and jumped up, catching him at the last moment. He landed and sighed in relief before freeing him from the net. Then he focused on Team Rocket, whose balloon was rapidly sinking. "I'm not letting you steal any more Pokémon! Pikachu, Thunderbolt! Gigalith, Stone Edge!" Pikachu charged up and Gigalith summoned a flurry of razor sharp stones. The two Pokémon launched their attacks. Electricity streamed through the air and fused with the stones. The combined attack slammed into Team Rocket, creating a giant explosion. Team Rocket shot into the air and sailed through the sky, growing smaller and smaller as they moved further away. Suddenly, a bolt of orange shot through the sky. "Charizard?" Ash said. He watched with surprise as Charizard shot through the air towards the rapidly disappearing Team Rocket. He caught up to them easily, grabbed all three in his massive claws, and used Seismic Toss. Team Rocket was slammed back towards the earth at absolutely insane speeds. They crashed into the ground hard enough to create a huge crater and send up a giant cloud of dust. Rather conveniently, they happened to land right next to Officer Jenny. Who wasted no time arresting them, and hauling them off to a very secure jail. Of course, they probably couldn't have escaped if they wanted to, considering they were very injured by Charizard's attack. Nurse Joy said it would be a couple weeks before they could move again. Which was no more than they deserved. Charizard returned to Ash and landed next to him. He grinned proudly and huffed a burst of flames. "That was amazing Charizard!" he said. Gigalith rumbled happily. Pikachu squealed happily from his spot perched on Gigalith. "You guys were all incredible!" His Pokémon cheered happily. It had been a weird day so far, but Ash couldn't be prouder. "Now, let's get back to training! We've still got lots of work to do." xXx Day 19 - evening "I passed the exam!" Iris shouted, sprinting through the doors of the Pokémon Center. Ash and Cilan both looked up from their meal. Ash grinned at Iris and waved. "That's great news!" he said as Iris skipped up to them and plopped down at the table. Fraxure scampered after her and flopped on the ground next to her chair. Iris proudly held up a small, red octagonal badge with a 'P' symbol etched on the front. "I'm registered for the league and everything!" She squealed happily. "It was really hard. And the questions were super weird! The first time I took the test, I failed." Ash chuckled. "Did you have to name Pokémon based on a silhouette?" Iris nodded. "Yeah, there was this one really weird one that looked like a circle. I thought it was an Electrode. Turns out it was just a Foongus from above." "I remember that!" Ash said. "When I took the test, they had the same question. Except when I took it, they said it was a Jigglypuff from above." Iris and Ash broke into laughter. "I never knew you took that test," she said. Ash rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah. It was a really long time ago. But I decided it was more fun to travel and earn badges my way." "Yeah," Iris said, a note of sadness in her voice. "Now I really wish I'd battled the gym leaders! It was lots more fun traveling than doing a test." She stuck out her tongue and crossed her arms. 'Maybe you still could," Ash offered. "After the league I mean. Start your journey over proper. It's tons of fun! You meet all kinds of Pokémon and gym battles are even better in person! You could even travel to a new region!" Iris nodded along with his words, a twinkle of excitement growing in her eyes. "You're right, Ash!" There were two words Ash never thought he'd hear Iris say. She continued, her voice increasing in pitch. "After the league, I'm gonna travel my own way from now on! I'll battle in gyms and get stronger. The experience will be great for Deino and everyone else!" Fraxure chirped in agreement. "Awesome!" Ash said happily. He was glad to see that Iris was finally finding her drive. Traveling and earning badges was the only way to do it, in his personal opinion. Books and tests were just... boring. You had to experience things for yourself. "So are you ready for the league?" Iris asked. Ash nodded. "Yeah! All my Pokémon have been working real hard," he replied. He absentmindedly scratched Pikachu behind the ears. The little electric rodent lay splayed out on the table, tummy bulging and eyes half closed. The last ten days had been very, very long. He'd mostly worked on teaching his Pokémon new moves. Cilan had helped, and Ash had also had plenty of his old Pokémon help too. Progress had been so slow and boring. Apparently, teaching Pokémon movies was a much lengthier process than them learning it on the fly. Most of his time had been spent on drills, practicing the moves over and over again, and spending late nights with his Pokémon. And worst of all, research. He'd hated it. Spending time with his Pokémon was fun, but he wasn't a fan of pouring over the books Cilan and Drayden had given him, not to mention long lectures from Professor Oak about the scientific intricacies of teaching Pokémon new moves. His mind felt absolutely burned out. But he supposed it had been worth it, in the end. His Pokémon had learned a lot of new moves that would help for the league conference. Serperior had even learned Aqua Tail, which he wasn't even aware was possible. "What about you Iris?" he asked. "Did you have time to train?" Iris grinned. "It was hard, but I did manage to train in between studying. I think I'm ready." Ash just nodded and gazed at Pikachu, who had fallen asleep. Nearby, Charizard lounged against one of the chairs, relaxing. To think, this had all started a few weeks ago because of Charizard's return. Now the Vertress Conference was two days away. And he had never felt more ready. So I apologize if the chapter felt a little rushed, but I had gotten to the point where I felt like Ash had accomplished all the training necessary. And I don't know about you, but I wasn't interested in writing 'And then Ash tried teach Serperior Aqua Tail. And he had her use the attack . And again. And again.' At this point the main thing to do was just tweaking his Pokémon's movesets. And honestly with the amount of move tweaking I was planning it would definitely have become monotonous. So yeah. Timeskip. I hope everyone enjoyed the journey so far. I really wanted to go for a realistic, believable approach to Ash's training and growth. And Iris. As you can see, even though she took that exam, she's still got a long way to go. Thanks to Ash, she's been inspired to begin a journey of her own. Spoiler: Bonus: Strange Dreams Are Made of This This is just a fun filler before the league, purely to be a parody. Day 20 Ash lay in bed, wide awake. Despite his best efforts, he couldn't sleep. The opening Ceremony for the Vertress Conference was tomorrow. Tomorrow, the beginning of hopes and dreams would be realized. What if all his training wasn't enough? Maybe he was just destined to lose. Was there some kind of malevolent god of the world that didn't want him to win? Maybe that was why at the Lily of the Valley tournament- Pikachu squeaked in concerned and nuzzled his cheek. Ash rolled over and smiled at him. "Hey Pikachu," he whispered. Pikachu stared into his eyes and squeaked again. "I bet you think I should stop worrying, huh?" Pikachu nodded. "You're right," Ash said, moving to lie on his back. "I've been training super hard. There's no way I'm not gonna win this. No way." xXx Ash walked towards the stadium. The conference was starting yet for a while but he figured he might as well get there early. Iris and Cilan followed him, and they walked in silence. Ahead, a boy walked, followed by a strange little yellow dinosaur Pokémon. He wore a weird red visor-like cap with spikes on it and a red sleeveless hoodie. He also wore a set of yellow jogger pants and had red fingerless gloves. "Hey there!" the boy called. "That's a really weird dinosaur you got there," he said, gesturing to Pikachu. Ash blinked. His voice sounded so... weird. Yet familiar. "Uh... its not a dinosaur... its a Pikachu." Pikachu waved at the boy. Ash stared at the Pokémon that stood by the boy's side. It stood on four legs and had a crest on its head with three horns. What kind of Pokémon was that? Iris and Cilan however, stared. "I've never seen a Pokémon like that before!" Cilan exclaimed. "It's so cute though!" Iris gushed. "Is it a dragon?" "This is Chomp!" The boy said. "He's my best friend." "Cool," Ash said, grinning. The boy's voice was still super weirdly familiar, in a deja vu kind of way. "This is Pikachu! He's my best buddy." "Awesome! My name is Max by the way." "Ash Ketchum," Ash said. Suddenly, a loud roar split the air. They both looked towards the noise and saw... A gigantic bipedal reptilian Pokémon stood, its head higher than the trees surrounding it. Ash's jaw practically hit the floor. It was huge! And it looked... really, really, weird. Maybe like a Rampardos, except lots bigger. And its scales seemed so... defined. And realistic? "Awesome!" Max shouted. "Another dinosaur." Ash frowned. What was Max talking about? And what did he mean by dinosaur? Wasn't it a Pokémon? Iris and Cilan both stared at it in shock. "AHHH What is that?" Cilan shouted. "Get that dinosaur!" A voice shouted. Ash froze. He knew that voice. It was Jesse, from Team Rocket. A strange flying contraption came into view, helmed by a woman with... green hair? That wasn't right. Jesse had pink hair. And her face looked different. A lanky man and a rather pudgy man flew on the machine with her. "Don't let it get away!" she screeched. Despite the visual difference, there was no mistaking that voice. "Come on!" Max shouted. "We gotta get to that dinosaur!" he raced towards the beast. Still confused, Ash ran after him. Max stopped a short distance from the giant Pokémon. Ash could only stare. How did anyone even fight something that big? Max held up a strange device on his arm and whipped out a trading card. What the heck? Then he swiped the card. Chomp began to glow brightly. Then he doubled, then tripled, growing in size until he was nearly the size of the first Pokémon. "Now Chomp, attack!" Max shouted. Ash could only watch, frozen as Max began to fight the giant Pokémon by... swiping a trading card? Max didn't call any attacks, instead, the two Pokémon just brawled each other. And then all of a sudden it was over. The Pokémon was defeated and turned back into a trading card. And so was Chomp. A thousand thoughts reeled through Ash's head. Why did the boy's voice sound like deja vu? Why did that woman sound like Jesse from Team Rocket? And why was using Pokémon so complicated? A trading card, attacks with cards, a device on your arm? And the device was powered by some kind of stone? "Everything ok?" Max asked. Ash was jerked from his thoughts to see Max standing in front of him, holding Chomp. "You don't look so good." "What kind of Pokémon were those?" Ash shouted. "And what's that thing on your arm? And how did it grow so big!?" Max quirked his head to the side. "Huh? What's a Pokémon?" Ash screamed. Blinking, Ash found himself standing on one end of the battlefield in Vertress Stadium. Opposite stood his first league opponent. For a brief second, he was confused. Had he had a weird dream about a kid who looked just like him? "In our first match of the Vertress Conference we have Ash from Pallet Town versus Tai!" The crowd roared. Ash refocused his attention. The battle was starting. Ash eyed his opponent. 'Tai' didn't seem very impressive. He looked maybe ten, wore a blue shirt and goggles on his head. A strange Pokémon stood next to him. It looked an awful lot like a Charmeleon, but its scales were a yellow color instead of read. Maybe it was shiny? Ash took out his first Pokémon. Might as well start off the league with a bang. "Go Charizard!" Charizard roared onto the battlefield and spewed fire into the air. Ash winced at the heat. "I got this!" a voice shouted. The yellow Charmeleon ran onto the field. It almost sounded like Charmeleon spoke, except that was impossible. "It appears the match is starting!" the commentator cried. "Pepper Breath!" the voice said. The yellow Charmeleon opened its jaws and spat a fireball. Ash panicked. Everything was happening so fast. "Flamethrower!" he shouted. The fireball clashed with the stream of flames, but was quickly overwhelmed. Charizard's flames struck Charmeleon. The yellow Charmeleon yelled in pain. "Nobody hurts Agumon like that!" Tai shouted. He ran across the field. The sun glinted off a weird device he held in his hand. "Agumon, Digivolve to Greymon!" Suddenly, swirling light shrouded the Charmeleon. Ash's heart raced and panic shook him. Had the boy somehow evolved his Pokémon on command? The Charmeleon grew until it was easily triple Charizard's height. Its form had changed, becoming more bipedal, until it vaguely resembled that of a Rampardos, though with much larger arms and more balanced proportions, plus a powerful tail. A brown skull-like crest covered its head and spikes protruded from it. "Charizard attack!" Ash shouted in a panic. Charizard leaped at the beast. Before Ash could think of another command, something slammed him to the ground. He yelled in surprise as he hit the dirt. When he looked up, he was staring into the enraged eyes of Tai. "Don't touch my friend!" Tai yelled. Before he could react, Ash was assaulted by a series of blows from Tai. He tried to shove the boy off him, but despite Tai's smaller size, he was fierce. Next thing Ash knew, he was laying on the sidelines, Charizard splayed out next to him, unconscious and beaten. Tai stood in the middle of the field, next to the thing he'd called 'Greymon'. The judges were handing him the trophy. He heard the announcer's voice over the speakers. "Tai and his incredible Charmeleon have won the Vertress Conference! Give them a round of applause!" Ash sat up and stared. Tears gathered in his eyes. This was it? He'd lost again? Did this mean there really was some malicious cosmic force out there destined to make him lose? Just like when he could have won in Sinnoh region and then some freak trainer showed up with TWO legendaries and swept his whole team? Was that even legal? And why did this force seem so determined for him to lose? What were they afraid of? And more importantly, could he ever win- Ash gasped and sat up. His heart pounded in his chest. He looked around, wide eyed. He was still in his room at the Pokémon Center. A quick peek at the clock told him it was early in the morning, the day of the Vertress Conference. He frowned. What had woken him? He'd had a dream of some kind. A really weird one, he was sure, but he could only remember snatches of it. A boy who sounded just like him. Being pursued by a squad of three criminals led by a woman who sounded like Jesse. And something about a combative boy and a shiny Charmeleon. Pikachu nudged his hand and Ash looked down. The little yellow mouse's eyes were filled with concern. He smiled. "Don't worry Pikachu. Just a weird dream." He laid back down, still smiling, stroking Pikachu with one hand. There was only one dream he was focused on right now. And that was winning. I hope everyone enjoyed this bit of wacky fun. This was just something I wrote on whim to have fun. If you know the Dinosaur King series from a long time ago, you may know that the main character, Max, was voice acted by the same person who used to do Ash. Veronica Taylor. The show also featured a female villain named Ursula who was basically Jesse. Same voice actor too. I recently watched a few episodes of it and thought that was funny. The kid even had a plucky yellow companion. The show was clearly trying to capitalize on Pokémon's success. Naturally, as long as I was having some fun, I figured I'd slip in some Digimon stuff as well. I imagine seeing Digimon would really shock Pokémon trainers, since the vibe of each show is completely different. Plus the kids tend to fight alongside their digimon more. And then of course it led Ash to have a mini existential crisis questioning if it's even possible for him to win lol.