Essence

Ash has always wanted to be a pokemon master. When the time comes for him to pick out his first pokemon, he shocks Professor Oak with a peculiar request. One thing leads to another, and he ends up with a loyal Growlithe. How will this unique situation affect the boy's destiny?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11113835/1/Essence

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37. Kanto 12 Part 2

Unfortunately, after being hit by the first Ember, Tangela managed to use its rooted vines to swing itself out of the way of the rest of them.

A couple of Tangela's entrenched vines were hit by the Ember barrage, causing them to set ablaze and disintegrate in an instant. However, other than the ones that had been burned when the first Ember hit, the rest of the vines that were in direct contact with its body were unharmed.

That was okay, though. Charmeleon was the first to deal noteworthy damage in the fight, giving Ash a considerable boost when it came to his confidence. The momentum was his. At least…that's what he thought.

Ash was abruptly reminded of Erika's second order, Bind, when Tangela overcame the damage it had received from Charmeleon's Ember, unleashing a plethora of interwoven vines that covered an expansive amount of space surrounding the fire lizard. The vines abruptly came together, forming what looked like an oversized, blue lasso.

"Get out of there!" screamed Ash at the top of his lungs as Tangela swiftly attempted to sever the space in-between its vines to trap Charmeleon.

His plea was to no avail. Charmeleon tried to do whatever he could to get out of the way of Tangela's Bind. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to go. Tangela completely encompassed him in its vines. The fire lizard let out a painful gasp as he was caught by the bizarre grass-type's Bind.

"Dammit," cursed Ash under his breath while Tangela gradually squeezed Charmeleon tighter and tighter.

"Try and burn the vines!" yelled Ash frantically as he racked his brain in attempt to think of a way to get Charmeleon free from its clutches.

Just as Charmeleon was about to unleash Ember, Tangela separated some of the vines that it had been using to secure the fire lizard and wrapped them around Charmeleon's jaw, sealing it shut. At this point, it was beyond obvious that Tangela had plenty of experience battling against fire-types and that it was a much more formidable foe than he had originally anticipated.

If he didn't think of something soon, he would have no choice but to return Charmeleon in order to rescue him from this situation. He had the luxury of returning his pokemon whenever he felt like it, and right now, it wouldn't be a bad idea to take advantage of that.

"Use Growth again!" commanded Erika.

Her plan didn't surprise Ash. While Tangela had Charmeleon under control, Erika planned on boosting her strength as much as possible. It was a simple strategy; however, in a situation such as this one, it was a good one.

It proved to Ash that Erika wasn't just thinking about the match-up between Charmeleon and Tangela. If she was concerned about Charmeleon, she would be more urgent when it came to finishing him off. No, she was using their present predicament as an opportunity to power up Tangela for the rest of the battle.

On top of the fact that Tangela was using Growth, Ash noticed while watching the grass-type enhance its strength that the vines attached to the ground would, every so often, pulse with a bright, green glow. This let him know that Tangela had in fact been using Ingrain ever since the beginning of the battle, which meant that it was in a position to have its health constantly rejuvenated.

Simply put, if he didn't do something soon, he was screwed.

"Tangela, Constrict and Mega Drain!" bellowed Erika with a large grin on her face.

Ash watched with wide eyes as Tangela's vines squeezed Charmeleon's body even tighter while glowing the same bright green as its Ingrain. As Ash witnessed Charmeleon's energy gradually drain from his body, he shook his head and raised his pokeball in preparation to return him.

If he let this go on for too much longer, Charmeleon would fall unconscious due to a combination of lack of air and stamina. It was better that he pulled him out now, so that he could battle again later. Normally, Ash would be against battling in such a conservative manner, but this was a gym battle, and it was fairly obvious that Erika was a lot better than he thought she would be.

"Charmeleon retur—"

Right when he was about to press down the button to return Charmeleon, he stopped when something unexpected occurred. Tangela's Bind/Constrict/Mega Drain combination came to a sudden halt as smoke started to sputter out from underneath it. There were no visible signs of Charmeleon using Ember, which was his only fire-type technique at the moment, so Ash would be lying if he said that he wasn't confused.

His confusion only increased when Tangela's grasp on Charmeleon began to loosen, allowing the fire lizard to use Ember to burn through the vines that had been binding his maw. It was at that moment that Charmeleon let out a passionate roar that was unlike anything his trainer had ever heard from him.

Maybe it was because Ash was still used to the little charmander that overexerted itself in order to make up for its lack of strength, but he was genuinely surprised by the harsh cry that Charmeleon emitted as Tangela's vines had no choice but to bit by bit disenthrall.

"What is going o—" managed Ash to himself before his attention was snatched away by the sight of Charmeleon's tail flame, suddenly erupting like an exploding volcano.

Ash smirked.

No wonder the vines were receding.

No wonder Charmeleon's entire disposition had changed.

No wonder the tide of the battle had completely reversed.

The fire lizard had been temporarily consumed by his internal flame. Due to being gradually pushed to his limits in such an important battle, Charmeleon had subconsciously activated his ability: Blaze.

Blaze was an ability that was essentially the fire-type equivalent to Wartortle's Torrent. Just like how Ash's water-type had been pushed into a state where his water based moves became nearly twice as strong as they had been before, Charmeleon's internal flame had granted him with the power to overwhelm his opponent before falling unconscious.

Pokemon abilities had the tendency to manifest differently for every individual specimen, but it looked as though Charmeleon had a rather straight forward Blaze. His entire body had been ignited in what looked like a thin layer of flames, which is what had caused Tangela's vines to gradually retreat, and his tail flame was about three times as big as it normally was.

It was as if Charmeleon had been possessed by fire itself as the last of the vines that entrapped his body disintegrated and turned to ash.

Ash quickly suppressed his astonishment, realizing that it was now or never. Blaze wasn't something that Charmeleon would be able to keep up for too much longer. He needed to strike now before the opportunity slipped through his fingers.

"Dragon Rage/Ember combo!" howled Ash, crossing his fingers that Charmeleon hadn't lost himself amidst his internal flame.

Charmeleon responded by letting out a massive burst of purple and orange flames at Tangela. The grass-type quickly used its ingrained vines to swing out of the way of the devastating attack, realizing that it couldn't endure it. However, while fleeing from the powerful technique, it didn't realize that Charmeleon was actually aiming for its buried vines.

"Damn!" cursed Erika from across the arena as Tangela's Ingrain was burned into nothingness within the blink of an eye. "Tangela, you've got to avoid its flames until Blaze runs out!"

"Not happening!" retorted Ash. " Charmeleon, Smokescreen, chain it with Ember/Dragon Rage!"

Obeying Ash, Charmeleon coughed up a thick cloud of black smoke that covered and obscured the space around himself and Tangela. Within the black fog, a bright purple and orange glow illuminated, making itself the only thing visible within Charmeleon's Smokescreen.

Next thing Ash knew, he heard an ear-shattering shriek that caused him to cringe with discomfort. It wasn't all that hard to figure out what had happened. And as the Smokescreen slowly dissipated, it became more and more apparent. Laying face down, unconscious and charred was Tangela, who was unable to endure Charmeleon's enhanced flames.

Charmeleon stood shakily over the grass-type's burnt body, which was rapidly reproducing vines, although it was unconscious. A smile breached the fire lizard's face as Erika returned Tangela, and Charmeleon looked back at his trainer, clearly looking to get praised.

"That was awesome Char—"

Ash was cut-off as Charmeleon's Blaze abruptly stopped, and his previously weary eyes went completely white. Right before Charmeleon fell to the ground, Ash returned him.

"That was awesome, buddy," praised Ash to Charmeleon's pokeball. "I couldn't have asked for a better battle from you."

"I've got to say, I wasn't expecting that!" exclaimed Erika from across the battlefield as she enlarged her second pokeball. "That one turned in your favor quickly!"

"It was still a draw, though!" yelled Ash, "and I had the type-advantage!"

"We already established that type-advantage isn't everything!"

She paused, "Anyway, let's get the next round started! I can't wait to find out what you've got up your sleeve this time!"

Ash couldn't help but internally chuckle. Ironically enough, it was Erika that held her pokeballs in her sleeve...

While contemplating where he got his awful sense of humor from, Ash reattached Charmeleon's pokeball and unclipped Ivysaur's.

He'd be matching Erika with a grass-type of his own this time…

Right before he tossed Ivysaur's pokeball onto the battlefield, Ash glanced off to the side, interested to find out whether or not Eevee was enjoying herself.

Through the semi-translucent barrier, Ash was able to easily make out Skylar, Ruphus, Ellen and Millie, who were all attentively waiting for Ash and Erika's next move. Standing right in-between Skylar and Millie was Eevee. Ash couldn't see her facial expression from his current position, but it looked as though she was glued into what was going on.

"Good," Ash mindlessly whispered to himself.

Thus far, it appeared as if Skylar was right when she said that it would be beneficial for Eevee to witness the battle…

Ash's eyes were drawn back to the battleground when he heard the sound of a pokeball release and saw a bright, white flash in his peripherals. In wake of the flash was a drooling gloom, which didn't surprise Ash. Much like Sabrina's obsession with the abra line, Erika was well known for her love of the oddish family.

He had been expecting at least one to be amongst the team that she was using.

"Focus on the battle!" shouted Erika with an edgy intonation. "Your friends can wait until we are finished!"

Ash gulped. Erika sure could be scary when she wanted to be.

"You're right!" replied Ash, throwing Ivysaur's pokeball onto his side of the battlefield. "It won't happen again!"

Right as Ash finished his sentence, Ivysaur's pokeball snapped open, unleashing a blast of white light. When it faded, Ivysaur stood proud and ready for battle.

"…Y-y-you have an Ivysaur, too!?" stammered Erika as she stared in awe at the severely rare grass-type.

"Too?" questioned Ash, just loud enough so that Erika could hear him. "Do you have an Ivysaur?"

"No, but I've always wanted one!" blustered Erika as she ogled at Ash's friend. "I've been trying to convince Professor Oak to give me a bulbasaur for the last couple of years – since he's the only issuer that is authorized to give them out – but he's either not had any or chosen to give the bulbasaur he's had to someone else! It's the worst!"

She paused as a devilish smirk formed across her face, "I'll trade you for it…"

Ash shook his head definitively as he watched Ivysaur look back at him in a confused manner.

"Not interested!" retorted Ash, slightly offended. "Ivysaur is one of my closest friends! I wouldn't trade him for anything!"

Erika let out a disappointed sigh.

"I figured as much…" she groaned, barely loud enough for Ash to hear. "Well, I guess I should just be happy that I got to see another one!"

"...That's the second time you've mentioned another Ivysaur," said Ash, squinting his eyes in a way that portrayed curiosity, "if you don't have one, who does!?"

Erika's disposition turned sour as she answered, "That little brat that I battled right before you had one! Until today, the only member of the bulbasaur line that I've seen is my mother's venusaur…and it's been a while since I last saw her! But, all of a sudden, I've seen two Ivysaur in the last hour! What are the chances of—"

She clenched her fists, "And you're both from Pallet Town! What the hell!? I'm going to murder Professor Oak! Even though I'm a gym leader, he's denied me a bulbasaur multiple times, but two rookie trainers from the same year! Dammit!"

"Wait a second!" exclaimed Ash, utterly surprised. "Did you just say that the girl you were arguing with was from Pallet Town!?"

He paused, "and she has an ivysuar!?"

"You don't know her?" questioned Erika. "Well, that's weird. I figured you'd both know each other since you're rookies from a small town…no wonder you didn't say anything to each other."

"She must have been the other trainer from Pallet," whispered Ash to himself, putting the pieces together.

"What did you say!?" asked Erika, oblivious to the fact that Ash had been talking to himself.

"Nothing," retorted Ash.

"Alright, then," answered Erika. "If you want to talk about this more after the battle, I have no problem doing that! However, we should get things going again! Our pokemon are getting antsy!"

Erika was right. It was obvious that Ivysaur and Erika's gloom were getting irritated by the fact that they had been talking like this in the middle of a gym battle.

Ivysaur was practically leering at his trainer, whereas the gloom was impatiently folding its arms and tapping its foot. Judging by its mannerisms, Ash had a feeling that the gloom Erika had let out had an interesting personality compared to most members of its species.

"Okay!" exclaimed Ash. "Who makes the first move!?"

"How about we just pick things back up on the count of three!?" replied Erika.

"Works for me!"

"Alright, then!" shouted Erika, taking a dramatic pause before continuing.

"One…"

"Two…"

"And three!"

"Ivysaur, use Sunny Day!" bellowed Ash, starting things off by commanding Ivysaur to use the TM move that he had mastered during their time in the White Room.

Following Ash's command, Ivysaur's bud glowed with an extremely bright, orange light before firing straight up into the air. Even though he had seen it multiple times in the White Room over the past couple of days, he had to cover his eyes with his elbow in order to protect himself from temporary blindness.

Now, Ivysaur's Sunny Day was far from a level where it could stabilize into an ersatz sun that could last for a whole entire battle. But, the ephemeral blast of sunlight would work wonders in a battle like this, where they were in a structure that didn't completely block the sun out from the battlefield.

The Celadon Gym's glass roof filtered in enough sunlight that Ivysaur could activate Chlorophyll without Sunny Day. Sunny Day would just enhance that sunlight to a point where it would start out being just as strong as it would have been if they were outdoors.

As the light from the Sunny Day rained down on Ivysaur and Gloom, Ash smiled as his grass-type's bud sparkled while absorbing and converting the sunlight into a natural steroid. With every second that passed by, he could see Ivysaur's leg muscles pulse with more and more energy.

"Acid!" yelled Erika.

Ash's line of sight went from Ivysaur to Gloom as Erika gave the weed pokemon its first command.

"Get ready to dodge!" warned Ash as the drool that was leaking from Gloom's mouth changed from white to a bright orange that looked like vomit.

Ivysaur let out a deep grunt, letting Ash know that he was ready.

The next thing Ash knew, foul smelling orange liquid was being flung across the arena as Ivysaur easily evaded it with the speed that he had attained from Chlorophyll. As soon as the Acid hit the ground, it ate away at the soil, causing Ash to cringe.

Granted, Gloom's Acid wouldn't have the same effect on Ivysaur as it had on the soil. All pokemon had strong enough bodies to endure most corrosive elements. If they didn't, there would be no way to defend against pokemon that relied heavily on decaying poisons such as the grimer and koffing lines.

"Keep it up, Gloom, let's find out just how fast this ivysaur is!"

Obeying its trainer, Gloom spat a speedy barrage of Acid at Ivysaur, trying to assess what kind of agility it was dealing with. The long-ranged assault lasted a couple of minutes as Gloom couldn't make direct contact with Ivysaur. Every so often, one of Gloom's acidic globs managed to indirectly splash Ivysaur, but all it did was leave small burns.

Any damage that Ivysaur took from Gloom, he managed to deal back. While Gloom desperately attempted to land a direct hit with Acid, Ivysaur countered with Razor Leaf. Most of the time, Gloom would intercept the blade-like leaves with Acid, but Ivysaur had still dealt more damage to Gloom than it had to him.

"It's faster than I thought!" exclaimed Erika before calling out to her pokemon. "Gloom, Sweet Scent, now!"

Gloom stopped its assault with Acid before shaking its entire body from side to side. As the round, brown petals on top of its head jiggled back and forth, a pink powder was released into the air.

Even if Erika didn't announced the move beforehand, Ash would have recognized it on account of the fact that he and Ivysaur had been working on mastering Sweet Scent themselves.

Right when the pink powder diffused into the air, it permeated Ash's nostrils, causing a massive grin to take over his formerly serious face. Sweet Scent definitely lived up to its name. There were few things that Ash had smelt that compared to the aroma of Sweet Scent, including the tantalizing smells that existed on behalf of the many perfume shops in Celadon's southwestern district.

Unfortunately, Sweet Scent didn't have the same effect on Ivysaur as it did on him. Ash clenched his fists in frustration as Ivysaur's disposition became less alert, and his movements were less crisp and more sluggish. Since Ivysaur had been in control of the battle because of the speed that accompanied Chlorophyll, Erika was trying to fix the problem by using Sweet Scent to slow him down.

"Don't be discouraged!" shouted Ash, realizing that although Ivysaur's movements had dulled, he was still faster than Gloom. "Use, Take Down!"

Trusting his trainer, Ivysaur tried his best to ignore the fact that his speed had significantly diminished and bounded toward Gloom, who had a mischievous look on its face.

Just by paying attention to its mannerisms, Ash could tell that Erika's gloom was comfortable in battle. Besides, Ash knew it was an experienced gloom the moment it was released because it didn't give off a terrible odor.

It was a well-known fact that Gloom only emitted their famous stench when they felt as if they were in danger. Since Gloom didn't smell – at least as far as Ash could tell – that told him that it didn't find battle as being dangerous, which could mean one of two things. Either it was a complete dunce, or it had enough battle experience to know that the situation wasn't truly alarming.

…Ash figured Gloom's case to be the latter.

In any case, it didn't take very long to find out the reason behind Gloom's fiendish smirk. Just as Ivysaur was about to use Take Down to recklessly tackle it, Gloom lowered its head and expelled a condensed cloud of yellow dust.

The yellow dust, which was without a doubt Stun Spore, connected with Ivysaur. Due to its nature as a status effect technique, it didn't give Gloom an immediate advantage. The weed pokemon was barreled over by Ivysaur's strong, stout body, causing it to cry out in pain.

On account of the recoil from Take Down, Ivysaur let out a small whimper of his own. However, Ash wasn't too concerned. Ivysaur was tough enough to endure the punishing side-effect of Take Down. What he was actually worried about was the Stun Spore that the saurian had been hit with. Hopefully, it didn't cause any paralysis issues as the battle went on.

Ash's thoughts were interrupted as both pokemon slowly stood up. With just a glance, he could tell that they were in pain, although he'd say that Gloom was the worse for wear.

"Leech Seed!" shouted Ash, realizing that it would be smart to hit Gloom while it was still shaken.

Ivysaur immediately shot a precipitous battery of parasitic seeds at Gloom, who had no choice but to take them. Unlike Ivysaur, Gloom wasn't used to tough, physical battle. The damage that it had acquired from getting hit by Ivysaur's Take Down was a lot heavier than what his grass-type had gotten from the recoil.

As the Leech Seeds buried themselves within Gloom's body, Ash's eyes lit up. It didn't have that much energy left. If he wanted to win this match-up, now was the time to strike.

"Ivysaur, Sleep Powder!" commanded Ash with fire in his eyes.

Just as Ash's excitement hit a boiling point, Ivysaur froze. He cursed under his breath as it took him no time at all to figure out what had happened. Stun Spore had temporarily incapacitated him. Right when Ivysaur was about to finish Gloom off, the status effect had rendered him immobile.

"Now's our chance!" exclaimed Erika. "Gloom, use Mega Drain!"

All of a sudden, Gloom sprinted the short distance between Ivysaur and itself before wrapping its arms around Ivysaur's side. On account of the fact that Gloom didn't have vines like Ivysaur or the tangela that Ash had battled earlier, it had to rely on using its own limbs in order to perform Mega Drain, which required physical contact.

Ash stared ahead in shock as Gloom's rudimentary hands glowed a bright green while being pressed up against Ivysaur's body. His friend's strength gradually drained away from his body, and Gloom seemed to be getting healthier as it stole and absorbed Ivysaur's energy.

Ash desperately racked his brain in attempt to come up with a way to counter against Gloom's Mega Drain, but unfortunately he couldn't think of anything that didn't involve Ivysaur moving. At this point, the battle's outcome was entirely up to his friend. Despite the fact that he was having the energy stolen from his body, he needed to find the willpower to fight through the paralysis.

Just when Ash started to debate in his head whether or not it would be a good idea to return Ivysaur, he noticed it. Leaking from the first layer of Ivysaur's bud was a bright blue powder. Due to the fact that Erika was on the opposite side of the battlefield, she couldn't see it, and it looked as if Gloom hadn't noticed it yet either.

A smile stretched across Ash's face as the powder fell upon Gloom. By the time the weed Pokemon noticed, it was already too late. Within a fraction of a second, Gloom went from draining Ivysaur's energy to breathing in soil after falling face first into the ground.

"What just happened!?" yelled Erika, astonished. "Gloom was just—"

"Sleep Powder!" answered Ash, "Ivysaur wasn't as defenseless as you may have thought!"

Ash thought he heard a curse word fly out of Erika's mouth, but he was too focused on what was about to happen next to care.

"Can you move!?" Ash questioned the saurian from across the battlefield.

Ivysaur answered him by releasing his vines and wrapping them around Gloom's motionless body.

"I'll take that as a yes!" blurted Ash as the fire reignited in his eyes. "Don't let this opportunity go to waste! Finish it while it's asleep!"

"Gloom, wake up!" begged Erika in a voice of desperation.

Listening to his trainer, Ivysaur lifted Gloom in the air while elongating his vines as far as he could. As Ash looked up and saw Gloom suspended in the air, he couldn't help but frown.

…This was going to hurt.

While letting out a loud grunt, Ivysaur abruptly swung his vines toward the ground in preparation to slam Gloom. About halfway through Gloom's descent, it was enveloped in a radiant ray of red light, signifying that it was being returned.

Given the fact that gym leaders couldn't freely return their pokemon during a gym battle, it was apparent that Erika had forfeited Gloom for the rest of the match, which didn't surprise Ash. If he were in Erika's shoes, he would have done the same thing.

Ivysaur had defeated Gloom the moment that it and its trainer failed to notice Ivysaur's Sleep Powder. There was no need to let Gloom take any more damage, especially since she still had two pokemon left.

After Ivysaur's vines receded back into their natural holsters, Ash watched in concern as he froze once again. This time, it was for a much shorter period of time—only a few seconds. Still, a few seconds was long enough for Ash to question whether or not Ivysaur could continue.

"Can you keep going!?" queried Ash. "If there's any doubt in your mind, let me know!"

Ivysaur turned around and nodded definitively. He didn't have that much energy left; that much was clear. But, he wanted to keep battling. Back in Saffron, he had kept fighting under worse conditions than this. Compared to the exhaustion he had felt while battling against Team Rocket, this was nothing.

"Gotcha'!" replied Ash, reciprocating Ivysaur's nod, "but I won't hesitate to pull you out if I think you're putting yourself in danger!"

Ivysaur answered by gingerly turning around and facing Erika.

"You've got quite the pokemon there!" exclaimed Erika as she placed Gloom's pokeball back into her sleeve. "I thought I had it cornered, and here I am having to decide which pokemon to use next! For your first real gym battle, you're a lot better than I thought you'd be!"

She paused as she looked at Ash with an enhanced sense of confidence, "Maybe it's time I got serious!"

Ash's heartbeat hastened, and he unconsciously flipped his hat backwards. He didn't know what Erika was about to release, but as she drew her next pokeball out of her sleeve something was different about her. It was as if she had finally decided that he was worthy of seeing what she was truly capable of.

Ash anxiously clenched Ivysaur's pokeball in his hand while Erika enlarged her pokeball.

The second half of the battle was about to begin.

As Erika lofted her pokeball into the air, Ash couldn't help but contemplate his next course of action. Whatever was about to be released was likely stronger than Erika's first two battlers, and Ivysaur was already on his last leg. The most logical thing to do would be to try and inflict a status effect. If he could manage at least that much, he would be satisfied.

Be that as it may, Erika was a grass-type gym leader whose specialty was status moves. Ash had a feeling that she knew exactly what he wanted to do. Thus, it wasn't going to be easy.

When the light from the release vanished, Ash shook his head in amusement. Of course, right when his friend had managed to squeeze by with a narrow victory against Gloom, Erika would send out an even more experienced looking vileplume.

Ash had only seen a couple other vileplume throughout his journey, and just by looking at Erika's he could tell that they all paled in comparison. Its dark blue body stood just a little bit shorter than Ash, and although its rudimentary hands and feet were short, they were much bulkier than the average vileplume's extremities.

The vileplume's red beady eyes stared ahead at Ivysaur with a look of intrigue, and it showed him a mischievous smile that wasn't all that different from the expression that Gloom had given them.

To be expected, the fully evolved grass-type's most noteworthy feature was the massive, red flower that was growing out of the top of its head. It was by far the largest flower that Ash had ever seen, which worried him.

It was common knowledge that you could tell how strong a vileplume was by the size of their flower. Since the flower atop the specimen in front of him was gargantuan, there wasn't a doubt in Ash's mind that it was powerful.

"Be ready, Ivysaur!" shouted Ash, understanding that he needed to be patient against the flower pokemon. "That vileplume is strong!"

Unlike his battle against Gloom, Ivysaur wasn't in a position where he could physically overpower the grass-type. Vileplume weren't physically feeble pokemon; evolution granted them a much stronger and sturdier body compared to its previous forms. As a matter of fact, in terms of brute strength, Erika's vileplume more than likely surpassed Ivysaur.

"Meet Vileplume!" shouted Erika, gesturing in the direction of the flower pokemon. "The fact that you've been able to draw him out is an accomplishment in and of itself! He's one of my strongest pokemon! I hope that I'm not overestimating you! If I am…good luck!"

She paused as she focused her eyes on Vileplume, "Finish that Ivysaur! It's taken a lot of damage, so it should be a cinch!"

Wasting no time, Vileplume started things off by lowering its head and spewing out an absurd amount of orange acid from the center of its flower. Looking back on his battle against Gloom, Vileplume's Acid smelt way more pungent, and there was a lot more of it. It didn't take a genius to figure out that Vileplume's Acid was on a whole different level.

As soon as the Acid left Vileplume's flower, Ivysaur was already dodging. He could tell that the saurian was exhausted just by watching his movements, which were all over the place because of his tiredness. If Vileplume wanted to, it could get away with using Acid until Ivysaur could no longer keep up, or he was incapacitated because of the Stun Spore.

However, Ash had a feeling that wasn't its objective. Every once in a while, it would peek up at Ivysaur with an eager expression as if it were waiting for an opportunity to finish it off in a more interesting way.

After about a minute of Ivysaur avoiding what seemed like hundreds of globs of acid, Vileplume made its move. With a flippant look on its face, the flower pokemon charged a sphere of green energy in its hands before launching it in Ivysaur's direction. Ash didn't recognize the move, but he could only imagine the kind of damage it would do if it hit.

"Dodge!" shouted Ash frantically as he tried to think of a way to counter.

Fortunately, just as the green orb was about to hit, Ivysaur managed to dart out of the way. Ash did a fist pump, celebrating his grass-type's stellar dodge; however, his mood quickly changed when he noticed that Vileplume was on the move.

As Vileplume bounded toward Ivysaur at a speed Ash didn't think was possible for its species, it loaded another energy sphere in its hands. Once the distance between the two pokemon had been covered, the flower pokemon lunged forward with the intention of burying it into Ivysaur's side.

For a split-second, Ash's instincts wanted him to have Ivysaur dodge, but judging by how close Vileplume had gotten, it would have been useless. There was no way that Ivysaur could get away in his current condition. The only thing he could do was try and go down fighting.

"Poison Powd—"

It was too late. Right before Ivysaur was about to get hit, the Stun Spore parlayed him yet again. All Ivysaur could do was stand there as Vileplume's energy ball crashed into his side. On account of the paralysis, he couldn't even cry out in pain as the momentum of the attack sent him hurtling across the soil to the other side of the battlefield.

When Ivysaur finally came to a stop, it was as plain as day that he was unconscious. His eyes were blank, and he was laying in a position that didn't look particularly comfortable. As Ash raised Ivysaur's pokeball to return him, he couldn't help but feel guilty. He should have pulled Ivysaur out before the battle even started.

Even if Ivysaur disagreed, he wasn't in good enough condition to go up against a pokemon like Vileplume. His grass-type probably could have done something if it was a weaker opponent, but he should have done a better job of reading the situation.

"Ivysaur, return," said Ash to no one in particular, returning the saurian to his capture device.

After placing Ivysaur's pokeball back on his belt, Ash unclipped Growlithe's red and white sphere and enlarged it. Before the battle had even started, he had decided that he would save Pidgeotto for last. So, it wasn't a lengthy decision.

"The battle will continue as soon as you release your next pokemon!" announced Erika.

He answered her by launching Growlithe's pokeball into the middle of the battlefield. They had done enough talking throughout the match. He didn't plan on conversing with Erika again until the battle was over.

When Growlithe's pokeball opened, and the light from the release died out, Growlithe stood confidently in the center of the arena. With his razor-like teeth bared, the puppy pokemon looked like he was more than ready to take on Vileplume.

Vileplume glared back at Growlithe with its beady, red eyes. It was apparent that the fully evolved grass pokemon wasn't intimidated by the fire-type whatsoever.

"Hmm…A second fire-type?" queried Erika, cocking her head. "This should be fun!"

"That vileplume is really strong!" warned Ash, causing Growlithe to glance back at him for a split-second. "Take advantage of your typing, but don't underestimate it because it's a grass-type!"

Growlithe let out a confirmatory grunt before focusing his eyes back on Vileplume.

They stared at each other intensely for a couple of seconds before Growlithe made the first move. In a heartbeat, he eliminated the distance between himself and Vileplume, using his untouchable speed to throw Vileplume off balance. Before the grass-type could react, he loaded his maw with fire before unleashing a salvo of fire balls.

One connected, causing the flower pokemon to let out a high-pitched shriek. However, it quickly shook it off and dodged while forming a new expression on its face. Up to this point, Vileplume's demeanor had been arrogant and impish. Now, it was looking at Growlithe with possessed eyes. It reminded him of the bloodthirsty look that Pidgeotto got when he was in a tough battle.

"Here we go!" shouted Ash as he watched the angry grass-type lower its head and expel a flurry of yellow powder at Growlithe. "Dodge!"

Obeying his trainer, Growlithe once again took off in a sprint, easily avoiding Vileplume's Stun Spore barrage. While strafing around the grass-type, appearing as an orange and black blur to the naked eye, Growlithe fired Several Embers in attempt to deal more damage to Vileplume.

The flower pokemon quickly proved that the initial Ember it had been hit by was a case of being caught off guard. Despite Growlithe's overwhelming speed and expeditious firing rate, Vileplume either danced around every Ember that threatened to connect or intercepted them with Acid.

It was an amazing display, but Ash couldn't help but wonder how long the grass-type would be able to keep it up. Although it was unusually agile for its species, it was still a vileplume. Eventually, it would run out of stamina.

Growlithe was a different story, though. It would be foolish for Ash to think that he could keep this pace up forever, but there was no doubt in Ash's mind that he could outlast Vileplume. Be that as it may, Ash doubted that it would be that kind of battle. He was counting on Erika to make a specific move that would help him take control of the current matchup.

"Slow it down with Sweet Scent!" yelled Erika, realizing that Growlithe's natural quickness was problematic.

Ash smirked. He knew they would use Sweet Scent once they experienced Growlithe's speed.

Good...he couldn't have asked for a better scenario. Erika was about to fall into his trap.

"High Velocity Flame Wheel!" bellowed Ash. "You know what to do!"

As Vileplume spat a burst of pink powder out of the core of its flower, Growlithe lunged forward in the direction of Vileplume while igniting himself in an armor of flames. He started off somersaulting at his normal speed, but that changed when he suddenly shifted gears, moving at a rate that was almost three times as fast as an average Flame Wheel.

Completely stunned, Vileplume could do nothing but take Growlithe's extremely fast Flame Wheel head on. It cried out in pain as it was barreled over. The combination of Growlithe's flames and the collision did even more damage than Ash had expected.

After running over Vileplume with Flame Wheel, Growlithe had no choice but to expel his flames.

Growlithe's enhanced Flame Wheel was a move that utilized a tremendous amount of energy. It combined Quick Attack – which Ash had managed to easily teach Growlithe during his trip to Celadon – and Flame Wheel, which were two high energy attacks. When used individually, they didn't drain too much of Growlithe's stamina. However, when combined, they took a lot out of him.

Even when Growlithe was at full strength, he could only use it once without exhausting his body to the point that he could no longer battle. It was a chancy combination move that they had experimented with throughout the last couple of weeks, but it wasn't until their time in the White Room that he had decided it was suitable for battle.

Under ordinary circumstances, he wouldn't risk it, but this battle was a little different. Even with his type advantage, Growlithe stood no chance at overpowering Vileplume. In terms of pure power, Vileplume was way stronger than him, which meant that he would have to rely on his speed and wits to win.

Although High Velocity Flame Wheel was a powerful move that dealt a lot of damage, it's primary purpose was to nullify Sweet Scent. By enveloping himself in flames and rotating his body at an otherworldly speed, Growlithe was able to completely repel and burn away Vileplume's Sweet Scent.

An ordinary Flame Wheel did a pretty good job of protecting Growlithe from Sweet Scent, but it couldn't burn up enough of the powder to where it had zero effect.

This one was different. The flames moved at such a speed that they completely isolated Growlithe from Sweet Scent's potent particles. Against status moves such as Sweet Scent, it had the same effect as Protect while also being able to deal a significant amount of damage.

"What!?" shouted Erika in a confused manner as her scorched Vileplume struggled back up to its feet. "Why didn't it work!?"

Ash shrugged as a big grin formed on his face. Like he'd tell her what had happened.

If Vileplume used Sweet Scent now, Growlithe was done for. After using the new technique, his body was weakened significantly. Right now, he was probably only half as fast as he had been before. For that reason, Ash would keep the specifics involving High Velocity Flame Wheel to himself.

Hopefully, nullifying Sweet Scent once would cause Erika to hesitate when it came to using it again. If she fell for his bluff then It was possible for Growlithe to finish Vileplume off on his own. If not, despite the damage that Vileplume had already accumulated, Ash didn't like Growlithe's chances.

…Vileplume was that strong.

"Moonlight!" yelled Erika, grabbing Ash's attention.

His eyes widened as her command resonated in his ears.

"Crap, Growlithe, hit it with Ember!" blustered Ash. "Don't let it use that move!"

Sensing the urgency in his trainer's voice, Growlithe shot out a quick burst of flames in Vileplume's direction. They weren't strong enough to do any significant damage, but that wasn't what he was aiming for. Growlithe was trying to take Vileplume's attention away from itself, forcing it to cease its attempt at using Moonlight.

To both Ash and Growlithe's displeasure, it didn't work.

Having already raised both of its hands in the air, the flower pokemon's entire body was enshrouded in a pink aura. Vileplume didn't have enough time to dodge the Embers, so they collided with the grass-type head on.

The Embers did damage, but compared to the injuries that Vileplume had just healed with Moonlight, it didn't really matter. Moonlight was a fairy-type technique that Ash had been looking to teach Clefairy for a while now, so he had done a lot of research on it. Essentially, it was a mystical status move that healed the user's injuries depending on the state of the weather.

He couldn't remember every detail, but he was pretty sure that if the conditions were sunny, the user was able to erase a substantial amount of the damage it had sustained before using the technique. Since Ivysaur's Sunny Day had yet to dissolve, Vileplume had likely healed at least half of the damage that Growlithe's High Velocity Flame Wheel had done.

"Based off of your reaction, I'm assuming you're familiar with Moonlight!" stated Erika. "If so, I'm sure you understand what just happened! Too bad! The way that your growlithe handled Vileplume was impressive!"

She paused, "Don't be discouraged, though! I'm sure you have a few more tricks up your sleeve!"

Ash clenched his fist. He liked Erika, but she sure knew how to get in her opponent's head.

He wished he could say that he had another idea in mind when it came to taking back control of the battle, but that would be a lie. All he could do was have Growlithe finish out the battle as best as he could before leaving the rest to Pidgeotto.

…Hopefully, Erika didn't plan on using another monster as her fourth choice.

All of a sudden, Ash's eyes were drawn back to Growlithe when the fire-type used Quick Attack to charge Vileplume. The slightly charred grass-type responded by digging its feet into the ground and holding out its hands as if it were planning to catch Growlithe. An image of Gloom's Mega Drain immediately popped into Ash's head as the fully evolved grass-type's hands glowed green just like its pre-evolved form.

"Don't let it grab you, Growlithe!" bellowed Ash as the puppy pokemon got within striking distance of the powerful grass-type. "It's trying to use—"

Growlithe briskly darted to the right. The moment before Growlithe made his move, Vileplume reached for him and whiffed, likely thinking the fire-type was going to attack head on. As Vileplume stumbled with a surprised look on its face, Growlithe planted his paws into the ground, coming to a complete stop before unexpectedly lunging at Vileplume's side.

While leaping towards Vileplume, Growlithe's maw exploded with flames. At first, Ash thought that the puppy pokemon was about to use Bite/Ember combo, but then he saw something that caught his eye. Amidst the flames that were overflowing from Growlithe's mouth was a shining white light.

It was a subtle difference that most people would have never noticed; however, due to the countless amount of hours that Ash had spent with Growlithe honing the combination technique, he saw it. Growlithe's Bite/Ember combo had finally evolved. The white light in his maw signified that his teeth in and of themselves had ignited.

Bite/Ember combo was no more. In the midst of the heated gym battle, Growlithe had finally learned Fire Fang.

The scream that Vileplume disembogued as Growlithe sunk his scalding hot teeth into Vileplume's side made Ash want to cover his ears. He couldn't even imagine how painful Growlithe's newly learnt Fire Fang was for a grass-type. If he thought about it too much, it made him sick.

It was moments like this that often got to him…pokemon battles could be brutal. There was no use in sugarcoating it. The mightier pokemon got, the more damage they dealt. When both participants were strong, the aftermath of those powers clashing tended to be eye opening.

This was one of those moments.

As Growlithe's blistering jaws burned away at Vileplume's highly flammable flesh, Ash cringed. However, at the same time, he couldn't help but conflictingly raise his fist in support of his friend. His starter was growing stronger right in front of his eyes. In order to help the team attain victory, he was surpassing his limits.

"Fight through the pain!" yelled Erika with desperation in her intonation, "You're not gonna be able to shake it off! Get your hands on it, and use Giga Drain!"

Ash raised his eyebrows, clearly impressed. The fact that Erika was able to think logically in a situation like this was extraordinary.

Exceeding limitations of its own, Vileplume reached down and grabbed Growlithe's body with its green, glowing hands. Ash noticed his friend's body jerk as Vileplume used Giga Drain – in spite of the pain from Fire Fang – to absorb Growlithe's energy.

Due to the fact that Growlithe was already low on energy after using High Velocity Flame Wheel, Ash thought about ordering him to stop his Fire Fang and try to escape Vileplume's clutches. But, he decided not to.

He hadn't been expecting Growlithe to be able to deal this kind of damage once Erika's flower pokemon used Moonlight. Right now, Growlithe was doing everything he could to take Vileplume down. If he stopped his Fire Fang now, there was no guarantee that he would be able to land another move that could help the team win.

Just when Ash assumed that they would both stay where they were until one of them passed out, he watched with intrigue as Growlithe wrapped his forepaws around the base of Vileplume's flower and pushed off of the ground with his posterior paws, elongating his body while keeping his flaming maw buried in Vileplume's sizzling flesh.

"What is he—"

Ash's eyes enlarged and a smirk creeped across his face as he realized what his friend was trying to do.

"Do it, Growlithe!"

With the voice of his trainer driving him to go beyond his limits, Growlithe used his front legs to tightly secure Vileplume before using his hind legs to plunge both of them backwards. On account of his tenacious fighting spirit, at the moment that Growlithe used Reversal, his body tapped into its latent potential, unleashing an incredible surge of power.

Flinging the fully evolved grass-type over his head in a suplex-like motion, Growlithe let out a clamorous roar as he smashed his opponent's head into the soil. Right when Vileplume's head brutally clashed with the ground, Ash witnessed its red eyes jolt prior to going completely blank. Apparently, the cushion that it got from the colossal flower on its head wasn't enough to protect it from unconsciousness.

Even though Vileplume had lost consciousness, Ash was too worried about Growlithe to celebrate. Because he had performed Reversal from a grappling position, he wasn't able to gain the momentum necessary to shield himself from the impact. As a result, Growlithe was now sprawled out on the ground next to Vileplume in a near identical state.

"Great battle, buddy," said Ash in a soft voice as he returned his best friend. "That was unbelievable."

He paused as he gazed down at his friend's pokeball in awe, "Get some rest. I'll take you to the Pokemon Center as soon as this battle's over."

After shrinking Growlithe's pokeball and securing it on his belt, he looked up at Erika, who was speaking to Vileplume's pokeball in a similar manner. Even though they had just been involved in a heated battle, it was pleasant to see another trainer care for her pokemon the same way that he did.

Testing your limits while growing closer as a team was what it was all about, after all. Taking the time to congratulate your friends every time they competed was as important as the battle itself. At least, that's how he had always viewed it. He had experienced enough over the past couple of months to know that no two trainers saw things the exact same way.

"It's been a while since Vileplume lost like that!" yelled Erika while Ash reached for Pidgeotto's pokeball and enlarged it. "You're a good trainer, Ash! I should have gone all out against you from the start!"

A large grin stretched across her pretty face, "That was really fun!"

"Thanks!" replied Ash, clenching his avian's pokeball. "But, it's not over yet! What do you say we finish this!?"

She responded by pulling her last pokeball out from the depths of her sleeve.

"I'm ready whenever you are!"

This time, instead of waiting for a count, Ash took the initiative by being the first to toss his pokeball into the open. Erika was right behind him, though, lofting her pokeball onto her side of the battlefield. The two red and white spheres snapped open in succession, unleashing an efflux of blazing light.

The first to emerge from the refulgent illumination was Pidgeotto. With two heavy thrusts of his wings, he was rocketing high above the battlefield. He let out a discordant, ear-splitting squawk when he saw the roof and realized that he was indoors. Ash shook his head in an amused manner. His avian was so predictable.

Ash's line of sight was suddenly ripped back down to ground-level as the remainder of the light from the releases faded, and Erika's last pokemon was revealed.

Standing assuredly on the opposite side of the arena was a pokemon that Ash had heard a lot about, but had never actually seen in person. Erika's final choice was the fully evolved form of one of Kanto's current starters: Meganium.

The first thing that Ash noticed was that it was a lot cooler looking in person than it was in text books or his pokedex.

Its pale green, sauropod-like body was extremely unique in comparison to some of the other grass-types that he had seen, and its bright, yellow eyes were beautiful and perfectly matched the color of the two stamen-like protrusions that sprouted out from above its nose. It had a gorgeous pink flower with a central yellow pattern and white tips around its long neck, and the small tail that protruded from its posterior was rather cute in his opinion.

Overall, it looked a lot more appealing to him now than when he was originally debating what kind of starter he wanted. It would be interesting to find out what kind of battler it was. Given the fact that Erika had saved it for last, he figured that it was a powerful specimen.

"This should be—"

Ash was cut off, and his attention was once again drawn to his pidgeotto when the massive avian decided to make a sudden landing directly in front of him. He proceeded to puff out his chest while flapping both of his wings aggressively in the direction of the meganium, causing Ash to subconsciously raise both of his eyebrows.

Normally, in an official battle, Pidgeotto wouldn't take the time to examine his opponent before engaging in combat. When it came to his savage friend, this kind of behavior could mean two things. Either he could tell that the pokemon he was about to battle was a worthy opponent, or he was trying to show off.

Given the circumstances, Ash could see it being both. But, he had a feeling that it was more of the former rather than the latter. His bloodthirsty friend was a pretty good judge of strength; if Ash could tell that Erika's meganium was powerful then so could Pidgeotto.

"If you win this, we win the gym battle!" shouted Ash, stating the stakes.

He paused, "I'm counting on you!"

Pidgeotto let out another loud squawk. There wasn't a doubt in Ash's mind that he was up for the challenge.

"A-are you sure that's not a pidgeot!?" stammered Erika, speaking up for the first time since both of their last choices had been revealed.

She had a look of pure shock on her face as she pointed at Pidgeotto with a shaky finger.

"Nope!" retorted Ash, amused. "He's definitely a pidgeotto."

The gym leader blinked several times as if she were trying to force her sight back into reality. Ash simply shook his head; it was apparent that she had never seen a pokemon with the king's nature before.

All of a sudden, she took both of her hands and slapped her cheeks simultaneously in attempt to wake herself up from her stupor.

"Whatever, it may be an impressive specimen, but it's nothing Meganium can't handle!" shouted Erika with a hint of pride in her voice.

"We'll see—"

He was interrupted by Pidgeotto, who responded to Erika's comment with yet another cacophonous outcry.

"Quite the feisty one!" exclaimed Erika with wide eyes. "Meganium, show it that size means nothing compared to experience!"

Obeying its trainer's command, Meganium disembogued a ferocious roar before expelling a flurry of razor-sharp leaves – out from somewhere under its flower – toward Pidgeotto. The avian wasted no time distinguishing the technique. Having had plenty of practice dodging Razor Leaf while sparring with Ivysaur, Pidgeotto exploded off of the ground, easily avoiding Meganium's long-ranged assault.

Meganium responded by firing another group of blade-like leaves at Pidgeotto. This time, they cut through the air at a speed that looked to be nearly twice as fast as before, telling Ash that Meganium was skilled at altering the velocity of its Razor Leaf.

Pidgeotto dodged again, though, moving through the air at a decently fast speed. It wasn't his top speed, and it was nowhere close to comparing to what he was capable of while using Agility. Nevertheless, the fact that Meganium had Pidgeotto meticulously weaving through the air so early on in the battle was a bit concerning, especially since the fully evolved grass-type had only used one move.

As the second barrage of razor leaves bypassed Pidgeotto without making contact, Ash watched with anticipation as his flying-type shackled his wings and descended into a dive.

At first, he gradually built up speed as he neared Meganium. However, a few seconds before impact, his speed hastened tremendously, and he spread his wings in order to level out parallel to the ground. A smirk formed on Ash's face as Pidgeotto phased into Quick Attack with the intention of flying through the space that Meganium currently occupied.

Ash's eyes widened when Meganium suddenly lowered its head and emitted a flash of auroral blue and purple light out of the two anther tipped stamen on its head.

At first glance, Ash thought that it was some sort of energy based attack. However, as the light solidified into a circular shaped barrier, and he witnessed Pidgeotto merely push back Meganium, only inflicting a fraction of the damage that Quick Attack should have dealt, he realized what had happened.

Meganium had used Reflect.

Having stopped Pidgeotto's progress, Meganium shook off the greatly diminished Quick Attack before waving its petals in order to cast out a condensed cloud of purple powder. At such a short distance, there was no way for Pidgeotto to dodge. The Poison Powder permeated through the back side of the Reflect prior to collapsing on Pidgeotto.

"Dammit!" cursed Ash aloud, realizing that Meganium had just baited them into a costly trap. "Pidgeotto, get out of there!"

Letting out an annoyed cry, Pidgeotto stuck out his talons and dragged them through the soil, creating space between himself and the drifting grass-type. He proceeded to thrust his wings in the direction of Meganium, throwing a malicious Gust before flapping both of his wings downward and shooting up into the sky.

A mist of Poison Powder descended from above, falling from Pidgeotto's body down to the middle of the battlefield. Ash crossed his fingers that his friend had managed to get rid of the powder before ingesting its toxins, but that was just wishful thinking. There was no way that he hadn't been poisoned after being exposed to that much Poison Powder.

There was no time to process the fact that Pidgeotto had been poisoned as a quartet of

Razor Leaves flew through the air toward Pidgeotto at an expeditious rate. This time the dangerous projectiles moved even faster than the last time, causing Pidgeotto's eyes to widen the second they entered his field of vision.

He was clipped in the wing by one, resulting in an angry squawk before he used Quick Attack to avoid the others. At this point, it was obvious that Meganium was a quick thinking battler. By putting pressure on Pidgeotto with nonstop attacks, it had taken control of the battle.

"Twister!" yelled Ash, wanting to take the offensive.

With a barbarous look on his face, Pidgeotto filtered draconic energy from the atmosphere and infused it into a medium-sized twister. As it charged within one of the avian's wings, Meganium calmly and wisely used the opportunity to unleash a plethora of leaves that were coated with pink, purple and blue energy.

Ash instantly recognized the technique that Meganium was using as Magical Leaf: a long ranged grass-type attack with small traces of psychic energy. The leaves psychic properties made it so that they were sharper than ordinary leaves – although not as sharp as Razor Leaf – and never missed unless they were forcibly intercepted.

As Pidgeotto launched the Twister at Meganium, it managed to suck up a few of the altered leaves; however, the majority of them managed to get through. While the flying-type was partially struck by Meganium's attack, the fully evolved sauropod wasn't able to escape Twister's vacuum-like wind current.

Both pokemon let out cries of pain as they took damage from each others' attacks. Ash watched with concern as Pidgeotto grimaced a little more than he expected, and he noticed a weary look in his avian's eye that he hadn't picked up on earlier. If he wasn't sure that Pidgeotto was poisoned before, he definitely was now, which meant that they would need to find a way to finish off Meganium soon.

Eventually the poison would get to Pidgeotto. The moment his friend had gotten poisoned, the battle had become just as much about beating time as it was about defeating Erika and her Meganium.

"Pidgeotto, get it off-balance with Whirlwind!" shouted Ash as an idea formed in his head.

The bird pokemon quickly conjured two non-draconic twisters – one in each wing – before launching them both at Meganium. As they landed on the soil and rapidly approached the relatively slow sauropod, it managed to avoid one twister before being sent tumbling backward by the other one.

The Whirlwind didn't have enough power to actually hurt Meganium, but it didn't matter. In order to accomplish what he wanted to, sending Meganium's balance into disarray was more than enough.

"Agility and then Sand Attack!"

Like a breakneck jet, Pidgeotto descended toward Meganium. It almost looked as though he had teleported a couple of times along the way, leaving after-images in the places that he appeared. In a single swooping motion, he dug both of his talons into the ground before scooping up two hefty piles of soil and propelling them at Meganium's face.

Although they didn't practice Sand Attack very often, Pidgeotto accurately threw the soil right into Meganium's eyes, causing it to let out an angry and aggravated roar. While the grass-type was busy excessively blinking in order to recover its vision, Pidgeotto sprung into action. He didn't need Ash to tell him that he had just created an opportunity that he had to take advantage of.

Within the blink of an eye, Pidgeotto used Agility to ascend back into the air. Once he put enough distance between himself and Meganium, he spread both of his wings and formulated two Twisters.

As what sounded like a freight train howled above him, Ash brought his eyes down to ground level in order to check on Meganium. To be expected, after getting hit by such a well placed Sand Attack, the herb pokemon was still desperately trying to get the dirt out of its eyes.

Ash's heart started to race when he focused his line of sight back on Pidgeotto just in time to witness him thrust both of his wings downward, catapulting the Twin Tempest at Meganium.

"Meganium, watch out!" shouted Erika with a hint of fear in her voice.

While continuing to attempt to shake the soil out of its eyes, Meganium tried to leap out of the way. Unfortunately for the grass-type, the pull from the avian's duel twisters was too powerful to escape. While letting out a cry of frustration, Meganium was yanked into the converging purple whirlwinds, unable to do anything about it.

"Nice job, Pidgeotto!" praised Ash, although it was unlikely that he could be heard over the blustering tornado.

The Twin Tempest lasted for roughly a quarter of a minute before fizzling out into nothingness. Once it had ended, Ash was shocked to find Meganium still standing—not because the grass-type was weak, but because not very many pokemon were able to endure it without being knocked out.

Despite the fact that its legs were wobbling, and it looked like it had injuries all over its body, Ash could tell that it wasn't out for the count. He also saw that the powerful twisters had removed the soil from the sauropod's eyes, which was the only negative result of the attack.

After seeing Meganium's condition, Ash looked up at Pidgeotto, who was visibly exhausted. With every second that went by, Ash could tell that the poison was doing more and more damage. It was even more evident now that the avian had used Twin Tempest; powerful techniques tended to accelerate the after-effects of a finely concocted Poison Powder.

"Synthesis!" commanded Erika, making Ash's stomach drop.

"You can't let it use that move!" bellowed Ash frantically.

It was clear by his confused facial expression that Pidgeotto didn't know what Synthesis was, but he phased into Agility nonetheless, making a break to stop Meganium from using the healing technique.

As Ash nervously bit the inside of his mouth, his eyes suddenly widened when Pidgeotto stopped halfway, grimacing on account of the toxins that were attacking his insides. At the same time, Erika's grass-type's entire body shined bright green as some of its injuries recovered.

Synthesis was another healing technique in which its effectiveness was highly dependent on the weather. And just like Gloom's Moonlight, it worked better when the conditions were sunny making it the second move that Erika called out in order to take advantage of Ivysaur's leftover Sunny Day…

"Gust!" commanded Ash, unwilling to handover the momentum to Erika without a fight.

One after the other, Pidgeotto used both of his wings to launch multiple bursts of wind at Meganium. The herb pokemon responded by lowering its head, planting its feet in the ground, and emitting a bright pink ray of light out of its anthers. The light formed into a rectangular shaped barrier that only covered its anterior. However, the partial Light Screen covered enough of its body to protect it from Pidgeotto's repetitive Gusts.

As the fully evolved grass-type was gradually pushed back on account of Pidgeotto's assault, it looked up at the flying-type as if it was waiting for something. By the time Ash figured out what it was, it was too late. When Pidgeotto suddenly froze again because of the pain caused by the poison, Ash cursed under his breath for not figuring it out earlier.

"Petal Dance!"

Using the poison's internal strike as an opportunity to take complete control of the match, Meganium began to move its feet, slowly walking in a small circle. As it did its independent waltz, what looked like hundreds of small, pink petals fell from underneath the large flower around its neck.

A light breeze enveloped Meganium, picking up the pink petals and circling them around its body. For a second, Ash foolishly thought that it was Pidgeotto's doing because of the nature of the unnatural current of wind. But, he was quickly reminded of the command that Erika had shouted when Meganium's eyes went into a blank, white, trance-like state.

This was Petal Dance: an incredibly strong and risky grass-type attack. Ash wasn't too sure about the specifics; Ivysaur couldn't learn it, so he hadn't really looked that far into it.

However, he was aware that its effects were a double-edged sword. It was capable of dealing an absurd amount of damage, but it involved the user putting itself into a hypnotic state that could last up to a couple of minutes. And once Petal Dance was over, the pokemon that relied on its power would be severely confused.

The fact that Erika had commanded Meganium to use Petal Dance meant that she planned to end things here. This was her final pokemon's finishing move. If Pidgeotto got hit by this, it would be over.

"Fight the poison!" cried Ash. "Dodge it when it comes!"

The wind surrounding Meganium gradually got faster and faster until it appeared as though the fully evolved sauropod was being concealed within a revolving barrier. Every once in a while, Ash was able to catch a glimpse of Meganium's vacant eyes within the few gaps in the blended petals.

Suddenly, Ash unconsciously jerked back as the petals broke from their revolution, striking at Pidgeotto like a faceless arbok.

"Move!"

Just as the Petal Dance was about to connect, Pidgeotto mustered up the energy to beat his wings, sending himself soaring to the other side of the arena. He managed to outmaneuver the horde of petals once, but Ash knew that it wouldn't be that easy.

"Watch out!" screamed Ash as the streak of pink made a rapid u-turn before proceeding to chase after the avian like a homing missile. "It's behind—"

Ash's jaw dropped and his voice stopped when the poison struck Pidgeotto again, causing him to abruptly stop in midair and hock up what looked like purple and black phlegm.

"Shi—"

There was an ear-shattering screech and an intense crash that occurred at the moment of impact. Ash's stomach sunk and his eyes enllarged as he watched it happen. As Pidgeotto was engulfed by the raging river of petals, there was a moment of disbelief before all hope was lost.

It was over…he had lost.

Ash's eyes remained focused above him as the petals lost their focus, mindlessly spiraling throughout the air and bouncing off of the exeggutors' barrier whenever they tried to escape the battle's domain. A few seconds went by as Ash tried to wrap his mind around his defeat before realization struck.

Where was Pidgeotto? Why hadn't his body fallen?"

He started to panic as images of Pidgeotto being battered by knifelike petals appeared in his head.

What was going on?

...Could he be stuck?

"I think it's fair to assume that this battle is over!?" shouted Erika from across the battlefield.

Ash ignored her while he surveyed what was beginning to a feel like a living entity above him. He searched for any sign of Pidgeotto. If he wasn't on the ground, he had to be in there somewhere, right?

Just when Ash was on the verge of desperately and aimlessly trying to return Pidgeotto, he saw something. In the middle of the pink storm was an explosion of argent light.

At first, it was expansive and formless, tricking Ash into thinking that it was indicating the end of Petal Dance's cycle. However, when it constricted and took the form of a titanic, amplifying, winged creature, Ash nearly dropped Pidgeotto's pokeball.

Evolution…?

Could it be?

Once the figure had finished growing and glowing, leaving a gargantuan black silhouette amongst the petals, Ash watched in awe as the being he assumed to be his avian shackled his wings for a short moment before casting them outward in a dynamic fashion. All of the petals surrounding his friend were expelled, being sent flying in every direction.

For a split-second Ash saw the form of a bird at least twice the size of Pidgeotto. Its lengthy, gold and red crest flowed throughout the air like an opulent ribbon, catching his immediate attention. Right when it occurred to him that his friend was no longer a pidgeotto, but a pidgeot, he was gone, vanishing by means of and Agility that far surpassed what he was capable of in his previous form.

He reappeared once for a sliver of a moment – somewhere between his previous position and Meganium's entranced form – before unexpectedly arriving directly in front of Meganium. All the while, Ash witnessed out of his peripherals that the previously scattered petals, from Petal dance, were racing to reassemble.

As the piercing, pink foliage converged towards its master and the newly evolved pidgeot at a frightening rate, Ash stared ahead anxiously and curiously when the monstrous bird winded back one of its wings before ruthlessly using it to hit Meganium across the head.

Getting hit by what seemed to be Wing Attack – a hard-hitting physical attack that used a pokemon's wings to powerfully strike the opponent – Meganium was sent tumbling across the soil.

At the same time, either because of the attack or the fact that a considerable amount of time had passed since Meganium first used the technique, the petals abruptly came to a stop and dropped to the ground before fading into nothingness.

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