Ash Ketchum has been determined to become the best since he was a toddler. He has his eyes set on a charmander, but a twist of fate led him to the humble Nidoran. Note: Mix between anime and the games.


29. The Master Part 4

Ash breathed a sigh of relief as the tingling that accompanied incredibly powerful actions undertaken by psychics suddenly disappeared. It had begun to become uncomfortable. Something about the vast energies that had been used in the previous battles by whatever highly trained Alakazam or Gardevoir Giovanni was using was oppressive, like a constant pressure on his body.

"I knew Delia long ago." Giovanni said quietly, gently stroking the gigantic Persian's fur. "I'll give you a fair battle for that. This will be a six-on-six battle."

The gym leader didn't offer any further explanation. Instead, he raised a pokeball and silently released a gigantic, thirty-five foot long Steelix. It reared back and roared furiously, shaking the entire gym. Steelix leered at Ash with its cold, lifeless eyes and spun its head around in a complete circle. Ash didn't like it. Something about it seemed off, too dangerous.

Nevertheless, he quickly reacted. Infernus would be best against Steelix on the surface, but Ash suspected that Giovanni would allow the beast to tunnel. Steelix were able to tear through the earth like a knife through butter. It would be trivial for one to tunnel through such a large field, especially when it was in the Earth Gym.

Instead he released Nidoking. His friend's horn wasn't sharp enough to penetrate the perfect armor of Steelix, but the force behind his tail was enough to crack it and his powerful earthquake would easily defeat Steelix should it try to tunnel. Steel-types and their inflexible armor were vulnerable to the powerful vibrations of ground-type moves, and the effect would only be amplified should it actually be underneath the ground.

Giovanni snapped his fingers. Steelix roared, a loud, shrill sound that reminded Ash of metal screeching against metal, and opened its gaping jaws. Neither Ash nor Nidoking were particularly impressed. The steel-type was powerful, true, but Ash had seen onix that dwarfed it.

It shut its cold eyes and focused for a moment. Several light blue rings formed around its massive body and transformed into sharp, jagged stones. Steelix's maw shifted into a horrible grin as it sent the shards hurtling towards Nidoking.

"Confusion." Ash ordered. Nidoking's eyes shined a bright pink as his weak psychic abilities manifested. Confusion wasn't a move commonly used by Ash anymore now that Nidoking had major sources of offensive power, but this was the only way he could protect against the dozens of rock shards.

Just before they slammed into Nidoking's hard, muscular chest the weak wave of psychic power caught the shards. They were too fast for Nidoking to actually stop them, but they were slowed so much that they were little more than pebbles when they hit his friend.

"Earthquake!" Ash shouted. He didn't want to show off ice beam yet. It might come in handy in the future. Nidoking roared and leapt high into the air before slamming into the ground. He kicked up a cloud of dust from the force and sent long, jagged fissures carving throughout the room as immense waves of force radiated from his position.

Steelix roared and thrashed in pain as its heavy armor painfully shook against its sensitive inner body, but easily survived the attack. It reared back and suddenly lashed towards Nidoking, its long body easily carrying it across the battlefield.

"Ice beam." Ash called out frantically. Nidoking was tough but he couldn't take a hit from Steelix. It was just too big and heavy to take on physically. "Follow with earthquake."

Even as Steelix's gaping maw snapped towards Nidoking, the poison-type fired an ice beam straight into it. Steelix's eyes bugged out as intense cold radiated throughout its body, sending it into a brief state of shock. It was more resistant to sudden temperature changes than its pre-evolution, but that improvement didn't work well when the cold struck inside the body.

Steelix collapsed to the ground for a moment, its body locked into place thanks to the sudden shift in temperature. Nidoking grinned as he performed another earthquake and caused Steelix to roar in pain again. The steel-type had been severely weakened by the lucky ice beam. For now it was a sitting duck.

Giovanni seemed to realize this as well. "Explosion." He commanded coldly. The gym leader must have realized that Steelix wouldn't be doing any more damage otherwise.

Ash's eyes widened as Steelix's body shined brightly and sent wide beams of light spreading throughout the stadium. Explosion was a brutal move, one that was rarely used thanks to the potential for serious harm it carried. It was too uncontrollable to be used safely.

"Turn around!" Ash shouted. There was barely any time to give an order before Steelix exploded in a huge fireball, an unreal amount of energy released from the reaction. Ash had to hide his face, protected only by the phenomenally powerful psychic barriers that enclosed his box. He coughed as smoke drifted into his air and worriedly glanced over at Nidoking.

Despite having no way to really protect himself from the titanic release of energy, Nidoking still stood. He was covered in soot and looked ready to drop, but he bared his fangs at Ash proudly before roaring and pounding on his chest.

Steelix was a blackened mess. Some of its armor had been slightly melted by the intense heat, but it would probably be fine after a few potions. Ash winced at the charred creature. It was disturbing, but using explosion was painful. The steel-type hadn't deserved that.

"Good job, Nidoking!" He called out proudly. Nidoking had his armor to help him out, but it was still incredibly impressive. Ash hadn't expected Nidoking to escape so easily from that attack, nor had he expected his friend to take down Steelix with that little trouble.

Nidoking roared and glared at Giovanni as the tall man smirked. He returned Steelix and released his next pokemon. Ash watched with bated breath at whatever Giovanni would be using next. The trainer suspected that Steelix had just been a test. Giovanni hadn't given it much direction.

A new nidoking, six feet tall and even bulkier than Ash's Nidoking, appeared on the field. Its armor was thick and battle-scarred, but no less tough for it. What should have been dull claws appeared to have been sharpened and honed to their most dangerous, as had the spikes on its back. Ash looked at it in respect. That nidoking was a monster, even larger than Ash's and much more experienced.

It snorted at Nidoking disdainfully and stamped. Without even trying it send large cracks groaning through the ground. Giovanni's Nidoking waited for its trainers command just as Nidoking did.

Ash made the first move. Nidoking didn't have much left in him, so he knew this wouldn't last long. "Ice beam!" He commanded, not caring if Giovanni probably expected it.

"Earth Power!" Giovanni hissed at the same time. His Nidoking briefly glowed yellow before he smashed his fist into the ground. Glowing gold cracks raced towards Nidoking, leaving a gaping chasm in its wake. Nidoking roared and fired an ice beam even as that occurred, but Giovanni's Nidoking took it without too much trouble. It was staggered, but it simply flexed in order to shatter the layer of glistening ice.

Ash winced as the crack widened underneath Nidoking, forcing his friend to fall into it at a painful angle. Nidoking growled in agony but stared defiantly at its larger, more experienced foe. The trainer glared as well. "Ice beam! Then use earthquake."

Nidoking quickly fired off the ice beam. All three jagged arcs of heat-draining energy blasted through the air before hitting Giovanni's Nidoking squarely in the chest. It roared in pain and something in its eyes snapped. They became furious and bloodthirsty, and everything about the powerful old Nidoking grew a dozen times more terrifying.

Ash's eyes widened as he saw what happened when a Nidoking went into a frenzy. He could never imagine his friend like this.

His friend fearlessly roared in defiance as Giovanni's Nidoking raced towards him, its trainer simply watching. Giovanni obviously realized the futility of trying to command a Nidoking in frenzy and seemed to be fine watching the spectacle unfold.

Nidoking wasn't able to use his normal method of earthquake thanks to being stuck in the ground. Instead he raised his tail, which was still on the surface, and slammed it onto the ground. If anything it seemed more powerful than before, although less refined and controlled.

Ash briefly shut his eyes as he heard his friend screech in pain as the shockwaves ripped through his armored form. At least some of his friend's volatile poison sacs had probably leaked thanks to the powerful force. Nidoking wouldn't be seriously injured from his own poison, but it would cause him horrible pain.

He glanced over at Giovanni's Nidoking even as he prepared to recall his best friend. The immense beast had collapsed, but was pulling itself up. There was murder in its eyes as it glared at Nidoking, but the furious poison-type suddenly stamped its foot. The earth suddenly rippled and forced Nidoking out of the ground, closing the crevasse.

Nidoking glanced back at Ash, obviously in horrible pain. But he shook his head at the pokeball and pulled himself up. Ash didn't bother commanding him as Nidoking faced his foe with as much dignity as he could manage.

Giovanni's Nidoking roared and charged towards Ash's friend. Nidoking stood his ground and met the charge head on, ducking underneath the sharp horn that would have torn through his armor like paper and grunting as he was still caught by the full force of his foe's charge. His hulking form was send to the ground, but Nidoking managed to slam his powerful tail into Giovanni's Nidoking's chest.

The larger creature grunted in pain but remained relatively unfazed by the blow. He roared at Nidoking in hatred and stamped into Ash's friend's chest. Ash prepared to recall Nidoking. This was going too far.

Just as he began to raise his pokeball, Nidoking roared and fired an ice beam directly into his foe's face. Giovanni's Nidoking's bloodlust returned in full force, but was tempered by an icy edge. It turned around and raised its huge tail and slammed it into Nidoking's chest. Nidoking couldn't even grunt as the thick muscle suddenly wrapped around him and began to squeeze, a potentially lethal situation.

The furious creature blinked in surprise as Ash recalled Nidoking. He whispered his thanks to his friend before glaring at the beast with pure fury. It must have been exactly how Giovanni's rampaging beast felt.

The creature in front of him had just hurt his friend and gone far beyond the ordinary limits of a gym battle. It was going to pay, and Ash was going to spare no expense in doing so.

Dazed sleepily emerged onto the field. She looked at the massive Nidoking in surprise and glanced at Ash, her emotions for once clearly visible. Ash just glared at the feral beast. "It hurt Nidoking. Psychic."

Ash grinned satisfactorily as Dazed snapped to the Nidoking, which had just begun to charge at her with its horn lowered. The long, purple weapon was glowing brightly in a manner that Ash instantly recognized as Megahorn. That would do serious damage to Dazed if it and would easily knock her unconscious in a single blow.

Fortunately, it didn't even come close. Dazed's eyes burned like miniature suns as she stared at Nidoking unflinchingly, her silent fury driving the full force of her psychic power. Nidoking roared and flailed around in confusion as it was roughly yanked into the air and held in a vice-grip.

Nidoking roared louder and stared at Dazed with pure hatred in its narrow eyes. Ash was surprised it was able to move with the crushing force Dazed was applying to it, but he supposed he shouldn't have been. It was strong and experienced.

In fact, it almost looked like –

Ash's eyes widened as Nidoking forcefully broke out of the psychic grip and charged toward Dazed. She reacted quickly and teleported just before it would have gored her with its huge horn. The trainer snarled. "Psybeam, catch it with psychic if it stays up."

"Sludge wave." Giovanni ordered, seeing as Nidoking had finally calmed down a bit. "Then Superpunch."

He frowned as a huge blob of black and purple sludge formed around Nidoking before exploding outward, briefly obscuring his entire field of vision. Dazed easily avoided the attack thanks to her psychic shield, but that just let Ash see Nidoking appear behind her with a leer on his face. Its claws were engulfed with shadowy energy even as its body was surrounded in an aura of light blue energy.

Ash's eyes widened as he realized what Giovanni had made: a combination of Sucker Punch, which allowed Nidoking to avoid Dazed's notice thanks to the dark-type energy surrounding him, and Superpower, which amplified its already monumental strength to unnatural heights.

"Teleport!" He shouted frantically. Dazed did so without hesitation, sparing her from being knocked unconscious by the devious combination. Normally he would have told her to disable Nidoking, but it would have failed thanks to him utilizing dark-type energy in his attack.

Dazed quickly fired a ruthlessly powerful psybeam straight into Nidoking's face as it charged forward. Nidoking stumbled, but the monster didn't collapse. The psychic-type finished Ash's earlier commands then, her eyes shining even brighter as she used all of her strength to yank Nidoking into the air and bombard him with crushing force.

Giovanni realized it was over then, and didn't bother giving the thrashing Nidoking an order. It was all as well. Nidoking slackened in unconsciousness moments later, leaving only Dazed as Giovanni returned the brute.

The gym leader had a smile on his face, replacing the confident frown that Ash had noted before. He casually released another pokemon that Ash didn't recognize.

It had a large black body with two small, stubby legs. The mystery pokemon levitated several feet into the air and looked to be made from earth or clay. It had a wide, rounded head with a protrusion on the top and a circling pattern. Cannon-like arms were held close to its body, and the pokemon looked as though it had several faces encircling its head.

"It's a claydol." Giovanni said with a small smirk. He looked down at Ash. "I had to take it because of the Interregional Gym Leader's Agreement." The man scowled suddenly. "At least I have an excuse to use it now.

Giovanni's comments bothered Ash a little, but he paid them little heed. Instead he focused on Claydol. It gazed at him impassively with several of its blind faces. He suspected that it was psychic considering that it was levitating, and he automatically assumed it was a ground-type. This could be an interesting battle.

Then again, he'd rather it not be a battle at all.

"Multiball!" He ordered. Dazed's eyes were alit with a light, flickering grey aura as she formed a dozen tiny shadow balls. They instantly began to circle around her, guided by Dazed's relentless will.

In response, Claydol's arms disconnected from its body and were held in the air, both of the cannon-like appendages pointed at Dazed. Its body glowed brightly as a shimmering veil of psychic energy appeared around it, encasing it in a protective barrier. Both of its cannons began to glow, prompting Dazed to immediately fire the weak shadow balls at it.

They tore through the veil, but each were weakened even further. Claydol was sent flying back and began to fall a little from the shadow balls that did hit, but quickly recovered. That did expose a weakness, however, and one that Ash should have realized earlier.

Claydol depended on its psychic abilities to levitate and operate. If it were momentarily disrupted – say, by a shadow ball – then it would be unable to function for a short period of time. All that stood in his way was getting it in without the shadow ball being weakened.

Unfortunately, Claydol soon proved that it wasn't just an odd pokemon. Its attacks had been briefly stopped by the shadow balls, but now they were primed again.

The first was a hyper beam. From the cannon to the right a gigantic stream of red-orange energy flashed towards Dazed. She easily teleported away, but a blast of bright, light-green energy from a solar beam slammed into her a moment later.

Ash cried out as his friend was consumed in the blast, but calmed down when he realized that she had blocked the brunt of the attack with a shield. "Disable. Then hit it with a shadow ball!"

Dazed's eyes flashed as a light blue aura of psychic energy hit the momentarily stunned Claydol. It was still too weak from its two attacks to fight against the disable, so it was helpless as Dazed hurled a massive shadow ball into its.

Claydol was silent as it fell, but managed to levitate itself back up. It circled to face Dazed with a face that appeared rather angry. The odd creature glowed brightly as it fired two shadow balls from its two cannons. As Dazed teleported away, however, it stared at the ground.

"Field Wipe." Giovanni called out.

Ash had a bad feeling as he saw the ground tremble. Dust was pulled up as an incredibly powerful psychic force acted upon the ground. Just as Dazed reappeared, he heard a loud boom as the earth in the battlefield was torn in two, separating the sides. It would be a challenge to face later, but he couldn't see what value it would have now.

He understood when he saw Dazed get thrown to the ground from the immense energy released from the earthquake. She barely levitated herself up before two hyper beams slammed into her shimmering shield. Ash winced as Dazed was sent staggering back, but reacted quickly.

"Multiball, shadow ball, disable!" He ordered, hoping that Dazed would process the command fast enough.

Thankfully, she did. Dazed was surrounded by ghostly energy as she sent a dozen tiny, weak shadow balls flying towards Claydol. The strange pokemon had raised the shimmering veil once again, which practically nullified the shadow balls, but it was helpless when a proper shadow ball impacted and exploded in a black cloud.

Ash grinned as Claydol fell to the ground, although Dazed was suddenly struck by an ice beam from one of its cannons. The other hadn't charged up its attack before Claydol had lost control of its body. The ice beam barely fazed her, however, and she instantly disabled Claydol.

Thanks to the psychic energies locking it in place, Claydol was unable to actually recover its levitation. Its mind appeared to be shut down every time it was struck by a ghost-type attack, so it was essentially being kept in a coma thanks to the disable.

Now all he had to do was finish it off. "Shadow ball!"

Claydol limply fell to the ground as Dazed released the disable. She couldn't maintain it while using a ghost-type attack, but it was no problem. The odd psychic and ground-type needed a few seconds to harness its energies again.

Just as it began to regain its senses, Dazed's last shadow ball slammed into Claydol, consuming the creature in an explosion of black energy. Arcs of unnatural lightning jumped around on it as it collapsed to the ground unconscious.

Ash grinned. Dazed was doing great. "Good job, keep it up!"

Dazed turned to him and smiled with her eyes. She idly polished her pendulum in her white mane as Giovanni recalled Claydol. The gym leader had a puzzled frown on his face as he raised a pokeball.

The trainer frowned as he saw the spherical form of a Golem appear. It was dangerous, but it didn't seem as apt for defeating Dazed as Claydol did. Golem couldn't shoot a hyper beam and solar beam simultaneously, for one. Ash shuddered – he wouldn't be missing that.

Golem leered at Dazed, its beady red eyes shining maliciously. It didn't even need an order from Giovanni before several rings surrounded it and shifted into stone shards. Ash sighed when he saw Stone Edge once again. Giovanni seemed to like the move.

Dazed prepared to teleport as the jagged stone shards aimed outward in every direction. As they were launched, she quickly disappeared in a flash of light in order to avoid them. He frowned when Giovanni smirked.

"Magnitude. Then use Stealth Rock and Steamroller."

Ash scowled as he saw Dazed appear. Golem's body was surrounded in a brown aura as it leapt into the air. When it landed, the aura suddenly disappeared into the ground and created massive shockwaves that rippled through the battlefield.

"Teleport up a few inches!" He commanded. It was a strategy he'd developed for earthquake and moves similar to it. If Dazed wasn't touching the ground they couldn't hurt her. "Now, psychic!"

As Dazed disappeared, Golem gave Ash a disturbing grin. It reminded him starkly of Giovanni's Steelix. Golem clenched its large fist and caused stones to be torn up from the ground around it. They were sharp and large and levitated around the battlefield. Ash frowned when he realized what they were for.

"Shield." He shouted as Dazed appeared a dozen feet behind Golem. She followed his order instantaneously and managed to hold the large stones back before they crushed her. Ash could see that it was everything she could do to keep them back. They were straining against the shield and putting immense pressure on her. If Dazed tried to teleport she'd be slammed into by a rock.

There was only one thing he could do. If Dazed could only use shields, then he'd make the most of it. "Force your shield out! Send Golem back."

Dazed's eyes burned as she put herself through immense strain. The shield flared brighter and brighter and slowly pushed the Stealth Rocks backwards. Ash fell prey to the spectacle and only realized what Golem was doing right as Dazed exhausted herself.

"Teleport!" He shouted fearfully. Golem had pulled its head, arms, and legs into its shell. It spun rapidly and made a beeline for Dazed. The shields disappeared right as it would have hit them, but Dazed didn't teleport fast enough to avoid the Steamroller.

"Dazed!" He cried as Golem slammed into her and sent her flying into the gym's wall. She crumpled to the ground and couldn't get up. Her body couldn't take the hit. Ash sighed and looked at his pokeball worriedly once he recalled her. He'd seen blood before she was returned. She needed to go to the Pokemon Center and get a full restore the moment he could.

Golem cackled as it pulled itself out of the shell. Ash scowled at it. It wouldn't be laughing for long.

Bruiser pounded his chest as he appeared on the ravaged battlefield, on the same side that Golem was on. The great chasm in the battlefield was incredibly inconvenient if a pokemon couldn't levitate or teleport across it. Ash suspected that was the point.

"It hurt Dazed. Take it down." Ash ordered. Bruiser nodded and entered a fighting stance. Without any input from Giovanni, Golem sent the Stealth Rocks flying towards Bruiser.

Ash grinned as Bruiser easily smashed the massive stones with a quick flurry of blows. His grin grew wider as Giovanni began to give orders.

"Focus Energy!" Ash ordered, taking advantage of Golem's momentarily lapse. Bruiser closed his eyes and focused his power. His incredible strength would be amplified for a bit, which was just what Ash needed.

"Magnitude." Giovanni said icily. "Then Earth Power."

Golem quickly sent tremors blasting through the earth. It was noticeably more powerful than before. Bruiser was sent staggering back from the force behind the waves, but held his ground. He was too slow to react when Golem sent a crack carving through the ground, however.

"Jump over it!" Ash shouted. Bruiser nodded and leapt as the crack carved around him. Golem growled and clenched its meaty hands. The crack suddenly widened and the entire section of the battlefield Bruiser was in fell into the gaping chasm. He idly wondered just how deep it was.

The rock-type suddenly acted without Giovanni's input. It was surrounded in a light blue aura that Ash recognized as both Superpower and Iron Defense before it pulled into its shell and spun towards Bruiser, leaving a deep rut in the earth. Apparently it was what Giovanni wanted it to do, however, as the gym leader simply smiled at the motion.

"Catch it and throw it into the chasm!" Ash said with a grin. Bruiser prepared himself and widened his stance as Golem raced towards him. He silently wondered just who would win this confrontation – the unstoppable force or the immovable object.

As Golem rolled towards Bruiser, it suddenly did something that worried Ash. Instead of one, two Golem appeared, both flickering and impossible to trace accurately. He groaned as he realized that Golem was using double team. It was impossible to detect which one was which.

"Get out of the way." He called out, knowing that Bruiser would try and take Golem on otherwise. Bruiser barely had enough time to follow his order, but Golem had one last trick up its sleeve. It shot its head up and had it spit a stream of flame at Bruiser as it passed by, but the technique backfired.

Bruiser automatically punched with his full force as Golem flew by. Thanks to focusing his energy, the hit was fast and strong enough to divert Golem's momentum and send him flying into the black chasm. Ash blinked, not horrified but glad.

Giovanni had showed a propensity toward brutal tactics in this battle, but he wouldn't make a chasm that could lead to a pokemon's death. So Ash wasn't too worried as Golem flew into the chasm. After about four seconds of stunned silence he heard the rock-type impact at the bottom.

Strangely, however, Giovanni didn't try to return Golem. Bruiser walked over to the edge of the chasm with a smile on his broad, reptilian face. He peered over, but a flash of confusion over his features made Ash worry a bit.

"Don't get close. There's always one last trick when everything else is lost." Blaine's sharp, cutting voice whispered into his mind.

"Get back!" Ash cried. Bruiser turned his head over to look at Ash in confusion, missing Golem as it erupted from the chasm and slammed its fist into the underside of Bruiser's chin. The trainer winced as Bruiser was knocked unconscious by the blow, which had been empowered by the momentum granted to Golem by Rock Climb.

Ash recalled Bruiser and glared at Golem. The surprisingly powerful and devious pokemon had proved to be much more of a problem than he'd expected. It had to be dealt with immediately and with overwhelming force.

Torrent rumbled happily when he was released. He looked down his snout at Golem disinterestedly. Golem leered back, its reptilian face split by a disturbing grin.

"Hydro pump!" Ash commanded, even as Giovanni called out, "Explosion!"

Ash shut his eyes as a huge flash of light and heat ripped through the battlefield. He peered worriedly at Torrent, although he gave a sigh of relief when he realized the powerful dragon-type had easily held up against the powerful attack. Torrent was weakened, but hadn't taken nearly as much damage as Nidoking.

Golem, on the other hand, was collapsed and unconscious. Some of its hard, rocky plates had fused together, leaving it a seamless sphere of stone. The ground around it was nothing but a huge scorch mark.

Giovanni actually had a smile on his face as he recalled Golem. It almost looked as though the cold gym leader was enjoying their battle. Ash liked the challenge, but he didn't like the serious damage Nidoking and Dazed had taken. That had pushed the limits of gym battles and was horribly dangerous. Neither would be able to fight for a while if it was as bad as he feared.

The gym leader released a large Machamp next, although it wasn't quite as impressive as Bruno's. Nevertheless, it was quite a powerful specimen. It flexed and grinned at Ash and Torrent. He noted that its eyes were as cold as Golem's.

"Ice Storm!" Ash snapped out. Torrent immediately set to work creating the devastating technique.

Giovanni wasn't intimidated even as Torrent began to create the Ice Storm. "Knock Out."

Machamp's eyes lit up with glee. It reared one of its arms back and suddenly flashed towards Torrent, completely ignoring the field of ice in its way. The Bullet Punch carried it far, and it struck Torrent with incredible force.

Still, even though Torrent was weakened he fought back well. He immediately stopped creating the Ice Storm and blasted a stream of frozen air into Machamp's face. Machamp was slowed down, but its arms continued launching lightning quick strikes.

Ash could see each of Machamp's fists glowing with bright energy as they hammered Torrent, doing little damage to his thick scale plates but still hurting him. Machamp seemed to be using a technique that had no regard for its own safety – it was taking Torrent's hydro pumps and blizzards without halting its attack. It was obviously suffering horribly, but it just didn't care.

"Dual Chop." Giovanni ordered triumphantly, victory gleaming in his black eyes as Machamp suddenly began launching horribly brutal chops at Torrent. Something about it seemed to deal incredible damage to Torrent, although his friend held up. He didn't seem to be able to move, however. It was as though he were crippled.

Torrent was fading fast. He wasn't able to escape, and Machamp had rained dozens of powerful blows on him in the few seconds they'd been battling. There was just one thing left to do. Machamp couldn't hold up well against energy-based attack, so that was what he would use.

"Dragon pulse." Ash said with a grim sense of finality. Torrent focused all of his power for a single moment before blasting the immense sphere of swirling green energy into Machamp's muscular chest.

The fighting-type was finally forced back. It clutched its chest with all four of its hands and looked up at Torrent with icy rage. That didn't even bother Torrent, who casually took the opportunity to blast Machamp in the face with an overpowered hydro pump.

Machamp's eyes widened and it tried to step forward, but the damage was too great. Ash grinned as the dangerous fighting-type collapsed, although he knew Torrent was going to fall soon as well.

"You did amazing!" He told his friend proudly. "You can finish this, I know you can!"

Torrent rumbled an affirmative at Ash and prepared to face the last of Giovanni's pokemon. The thought put a wide smile on Ash's face – he'd taken some damage, but he was about to beat the Earth Gym! He'd be amongst some of the greatest trainers in Kanto, and all he had to do was finish this battle.

Giovanni's small smile had grown larger. It looked almost proud to Ash, although he was a little puzzled as to why. But he was focused more on the ultra ball in Giovanni's hand. It held his last foe.

His eyes widened when an absolutely massive Rhyperior appeared on the ravaged battlefield. It snorted and spun its drill before glaring at Torrent unflinchingly, the type-disadvantage not bothering it in the least. Rhyperior stamped its foot and roared its challenge to Torrent, which the dragon-type immediately returned.

Rhyperior didn't have that cold, disconnected look the other pokemon had, but it might be the more dangerous for it. Its eyes showed respect for Torrent as the bulky creature casually stepped forward, its large black eyes meeting Torrent's determined, tired scarlet ones.

It was eight feet tall and looked to weigh at least a thousand pounds. A thousand pounds of pure power and impenetrable armor. Torrent had never faced a worthier foe.

This would be a battle to remember. Two titans fighting for victory, both staring each other down unflinchingly in a test of wills. He would never forget this as long as he lived, no matter how far he went. This was a defining moment in his trainer career.

"Blizzard." Ash broke the silence. Torrent reared his head back and spewed a massive amount of icy air towards Rhyperior. It would at the very least slow the massive creature down and at best instantly knock it out.

The icy haze was suddenly split in half by a small, yet horribly intense beam of energy. Ash blinked as the unnaturally powerful hyper beam slammed into Torrent and exploded, instantly knocking the proud dragon unconscious.

He blinked and returned Torrent disbelievingly. How had Rhyperior done that? Torrent was badly weakened, yes, but he should have been able to take a hyper beam. Was the rock-type really that powerful?

Rhyperior was silent as Ash sent out his next battler. He only had two left: Infernus and Tangrowth. Tangrowth was the best choice since he had an incredible advantage over Rhyperior, but Ash wanted to soften it up as best he could.

Infernus roared furiously as he appeared on the field. His eyes lit up when he saw Rhyperior standing stoically ahead of him, staring at Infernus unflinchingly. The fire-type stamped his foot and caused an immense wave of lava to explode out of the ground, a testament to his great power.

The rock-type stamped the ground as well and casually closed the great crevasse that split the battlefield. Ash blinked at the sheer power that the deed must have taken. He knew that Rhyperior was powerful, but he hadn't thought it was that strong.

"Infernus, you have one job." He said quietly. Infernus tensed up at his words and blazed up, flames cascading down his form and making him the best he could be. "Get to Rhyperior, and break him. You can do it."

If Infernus could grin, Ash was sure he would be. The flames rippling down his form and leaving him an indistinct figure in the middle of a fiery haze shifted from orange to white and grew much larger. Infernus was ready.

Ash knew that Infernus could complete his job, but he knew that his friend wouldn't defeat Rhyperior. The type advantage was too substantial and Rhyperior was essentially immune to fire thanks to its thick armor. What Infernus could do was hurt it, and hurt it bad. He could break the armor and leave it open to Tangrowth.

"Haze." Ash said simply. There wasn't much he could do. This was up to Infernus and all he would do was distract him.

Infernus blasted fire everywhere around the battlefield before taking off, practically invisible amongst the roaring flames.

"Quench the flames." Giovanni said casually, unbefitting his professional image. "Once you see it, use Rock Wrecker."

Rhyperior briskly nodded before it shut its eyes. It reared its thick head back and shot tons of cold air out over the battlefield and into the raging fires, although the Blizzard was much weaker than Torrent's. Ash watched closely as the cold air managed to keep the flames at bay and extinguish the outlying part. It kept a zone where Rhyperior was able to avoid any sneak attacks from Infernus.

It was nearly a minute before any real actions began. Infernus shot blasts of flame towards Rhyperior, which the large rock-type steadfastly ignored. Rhyperior used Stone Edge every now and then, but Infernus was never hit.

Finally, Infernus raced from the flames at an incredible speed. The flames trailed along behind him, leaving him with a cloak of fire. Infernus spat long streams of flame at Rhyperior to distract it, but Rhyperior seemed to smile as it put its hands together.

Small chunks of gray stone came out of the holes on Rhyperior's hands and formed together into a large rock that was outlined in red. The red outline faded and Rhyperior launched the stone toward Infernus at an incredible speed.

Infernus seemed to snort as the huge stone flashed towards him and casually smashed through it with a glowing fist. He raced around Rhyperior's attempts at retribution and made use of his superior agility to avoid any hits.

Rhyperior finally had enough, and, at Giovanni's command, leapt a foot into the air before landing. An incredibly powerful earthquake ripped through the arena, turning it into a few islands of stable earth and many gaping chasms.

The rock-type seemed to smile, believing that Infernus had fallen into one of the crevasses, but a sudden strike to the side of its head shook it away from that notion. Rhyperior roared and tried to fight back, but Infernus managed to dodge its slow, powerful strikes and hit Rhyperior's chest with a powerful Brick Break.

Ash grinned as a large crack opened down Rhyperior's front. The immensely powerful creature roared in agony as Infernus maliciously spat a burst of flame into the exposed core, but couldn't do anything but thrash wildly as Infernus ducked underneath its furious blows and placed both hands underneath the pieces of armor exposed by the large crack.

Even though he was glad that Infernus was doing so well, Ash had to wince as Infernus wrenched the heavy shell of armor as far up as he could and created a large section of soft, exposed flesh. Infernus instantly took advantage of Rhyperior's momentary weakness and shot a huge blast of flame into the vulnerable area.

"Enough!" Giovanni roared, his patience gone with Rhyperior. The massive creature was snapped out of its agony by Giovanni's fury and slammed a fist at Infernus. Ash grinned as his friend ducked away and tried to circle around the behemoth, but blanched when Rhyperior's thick, club-like tail slammed into Infernus' side.

The magmar was sent sprawling onto the ground. He was completely helpless against Rhyperior, who was menacingly advancing, but continued to fire blast after blast of fire at the nigh invulnerable beast. Rhyperior roared and used one of its thick arms to guard the sensitive skin of its exposed chest while the other was raised at Infernus.

Rhyperior had a righteous fury about it as its arms contracted and shot a large stone at an incredible force into Infernus' chest. The magmar was instantly knocked unconscious by the blow, the churning flames that still raged over the battlefield suddenly extinguished without his forceful will.

"You did your job." Ash whispered to Infernus as he recalled him. He met Rhyperior's unnervingly calm eyes, his brown meeting the titan's dull black. This would determine the outcome of the match, and he would win. This was a test of wills – his and Tangrowth's against Giovanni and Rhyperior.

He would win.

Tangrowth gurgled happily as he realized that he was battling, although he glanced around with confusion at the wrecked battlefield. It wouldn't be a problem for the grass-type to maneuver, but it was odd.

"You're my last pokemon." Ash said quietly. He saw Tangrowth listen attentively. "It's all up to you. Tangrowth, I know you can do this! Rhyperior has an exposed spot on his chest. You can do it."

His friend gurgled an affirmative and stared happily at Rhyperior with his saucer-like eyes. Several dozen of his long, thick vines suddenly extended, giving Tangrowth the appearance of being much larger than he really was.

"Stone Edge and then Rock Wrecker." Giovanni said calmly. Ash couldn't read the gym leader's face, but thought he saw concealed pride in his black eyes. The trainer clenched his fists as Rhyperior wrenched a dozen large, sharp stones from the ground and aimed them at Tangrowth.

"You know what to do, buddy." Ash murmured. As the jagged stones flew towards Tangrowth, the grass-type casually extended his vines and expertly caught each of the large rocks before he let them drop to the ground. "Launch some stun spore!"

As Rhyperior focused its energy on using Rock Wrecker again, Tangrowth rustled his body and accurately shot a condensed cloud of stun spore at Rhyperior. It didn't quite make it before exploding, but the cloud of golden spores slowly drifted towards Rhyperior.

"When it hits, extend your vines." Ash commanded, tension building in his chest. He was so close. "Catch the rock it's about to throw at you and get rid of it. Get into the chest and mega drain."

Tangrowth gurgled as Rhyperior stared at him, a huge stone boulder in its large hands. Before Rhyperior send the powerful attack towards the grass-type, however, it breathed a thick blast of flame and set the boulder alit for a few seconds.

Ash's eyes widened when the sleep powder around Rhyperior suddenly combusted, setting that entire section of the field alight. That meant that Tangrowth couldn't get up close and personal with Rhyperior, but it wouldn't cause too much of a problem. He could work this to his advantage.

He grinned as Tangrowth caught the boulder with his powerful vines. Although the fire spread onto the two vines that secured the boulder before dropping it, Tangrowth simply used another vine to slice through the others and send them into the crevasses with the flaming boulder.

After that, Tangrowth used several of his vines to pull itself about ten feet closer to Rhyperior so he could have more maneuverability. When he was at a good position, Tangrowth followed Ash's commands and sent two dozen vines lashing towards the helpless Rhyperior.

Ash noticed that Tangrowth's vines were alit as they rushed through the cloud of burning stun spore, but that simply made them more effective weapons, if shorter-lived. He could hear Rhyperior's roars from his box as Tangrowth snuck the burning vines into his exposed skin – it was still much thicker than most organisms' skin, but Rhyperior had grown so accustomed to little feeling that any pain was intense – and began to suck away Rhyperior's energy.

He could see a few blasts of fire as Rhyperior tried to burn the vines away, but they were thick enough that it didn't matter. Additionally, the vines of Tangrowth had a minor flame retardant in them, a major change from the defenseless vines of a Tangela. It wouldn't prevent them from burning or catching on fire, but it would draw the process out much more.

Tangrowth kept it up for nearly a minute. Rhyperior was tearing through as many vines as it could, but more were always there to replace it and lash at Rhyperior to distract the beast.

And finally, Rhyperior's gigantic form fell. It caused the entire arena to tremble a bit, but Ash was too dumbfounded to notice.

"You…you did it!" Ash shouted excitedly. Tangrowth gurgled and waved his large arms around. He tried to send a few vines over so he could hug Ash, but the psychic barriers prevented it.

He couldn't believe it – he'd won. He'd won the Earth Badge, where so many trainers before him had failed. He was ready for anything now.

For nearly a minute he just stared at the ravaged arena with a strange, mad smile on his face. He felt like he'd gotten so excited that he couldn't feel anything over the surge of adrenaline racing through his system. Ash finally grew aware enough to return Tangrowth, smiling at his friend as the powerful grass-type vanished into the pokeball.

"You are the first to defeat me in a very long time." The calm, serious voice of Giovanni announced from behind him. Ash turned towards the tall man and saw him up close for the first time. Now that he wasn't far away and obscured by shadows, Ash could see that the man had a facial structure that was sort of like his own, although there were some major differences. He wasn't too focused on that though – he was staring at the small green Earth Badge in Giovanni's hand.

"You are worthy of the Earth Badge." Giovanni told him, his large hand handing it over to Ash's small one. "Even those I fight on even terms rarely progress to my third battler. You are amongst the rare few that can claim to have defeated me."

Ash met Giovanni's eyes. They'd appeared cold during their battle, but something seemed a bit warmer about them now. He still noted that niggling sense of familiarity that told him that he'd seen the man before, although he knew he hadn't.

Giovanni suddenly smiled and pet the massive Persian that was sitting beside him. Ash hadn't even noticed the large cat until now. "I might have a job offer for you in a few years. My organization can always use skilled individuals as yourself."

"Thanks." Ash said with a friendly smile, although the words contributed to the sense of familiarity. "I'll keep that in mind."

"I expect to see you go far, Mr. Ketchum." The tall gym leader said with a strange smile on his face. "If you're anything like your parents, I know you will. It runs in the blood, after all."

He wasn't really sure what to say to that, but he didn't have to. Giovanni abruptly began speaking again. "Go to the Pokemon Center. You need to heal."

"Thanks." Ash said with a dip of his hat. He glanced over at the battlefield. It was strange to think that in mere minutes it would be smoothed out by whatever psychic watched over the gym. He shook himself out of those thoughts and began to walk out the gym.

He could feel Giovanni's eyes watching him as he left. Just before he opened the door, he felt the immensely powerful psychic presence from before appear. Ash shuddered as he felt every hair on his body stand up from the sheer power it was emitting.

The trainer looked back and saw a strange figure on the battlefield. Its eyes were glowing a bright blue from behind an odd visor and armor covered it. His skin tingled as the entire field was suddenly corrected, and he briefly met the figure's burning eyes before he walked out. Ash's mind ached just from looking at it.

Ash gave a short nod to both of the guards, who watched him with awe as he walked to the security checkpoint deep in thought. He barely noted the last guard, who looked at him strangely as he let the trainer through.

He was halfway to the Pokemon Center before he froze. The adrenaline in his system was dying down.

He knew where he'd seen Giovanni before: the Rocket Hideout in Celadon. Petrel had appeared as him for some reason. That on its own was odd, but not incriminating. Petrel was half-insane and transforming into the gym leader that most opposed Team Rocket would probably give him a laugh.

But what was damning was the unnaturally powerful psychic energy that pervaded the entire gym. No Alakazam could make that – not even a group. And that strange figure was not an Alakazam, nor any other psychic Ash had ever heard of. It was too humanoid, and he couldn't think of anything that would need that odd, advanced armor.

"I heard that my boss managed to procure a pretty powerful psychic." Petrel laughed in his mind.

Thoughts of the sheer presence of the strange psychic that had destroyed the St. Anne, released Pierce and the other Rockets from prison, and a host of other acts that Ash didn't know about echoed in his mind – the effects were so familiar.

Connections – no matter how half-baked – rapidly formed together in a web in his mind. Memories of a dying ship and a noxious, heavy muk slowly devouring him began to surface – no. He had to stay calm.

He ducked into an alley and released Tangrowth. "Don't let anyone in here." Ash commanded shakily, feeling as though he were disconnected from the world at the moment.

Tangrowth gurgled worriedly at him but nodded.

Ash plucked the PokeNav off of his belt and typed some numbers in with trembling hands.

One ring.

Two ring.

Three ring.

Four ring. Ash began to get worried. He had to tell someone, the one person who could make this right.

Fifth – "Hello?" A familiar, strong voice asked him. "Who is this? How did you get this number?"

Ash dimly remembered that, although he had never called this person, he'd been given their number. It was for safety back during the operation.

"Lance, it's Ash." He said quietly into the phone. Ash heard a sharp intake of breath and continued. "I need to tell you something."

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...