In Her Image: a Pokémon RP

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Tom seemed to be in high spirits as usual and this despite the fact that it would soon be him fighting in that arena. Rupert really admired how Tom didn't let anything faze him; Rupert himself had been panicking several hours in advance yesterday, as he tried to prepare for his battle against the bespectacled boy.

"Who, me? Nah. I'm already pretty rounded out, The best additions to my team would be something along the lines of a natu."

The heck is a Natu?

"R-right, one of those. Of c-course. W-who wouldn't want a... uh, one of those."

Dear lord, i really need to familiarize myself with the pokémon outside my own region.

"But anyway, I see you got yourself a hoot hoot clock. That's what I used to call them by the way. Did you know that they're always tilted to tell the exact time?"

"Wait, s-seriously? Is that what she's doing? Oh, t-that's good to hear. I was starting to think that there was something wrong with her neck. N-nearly had me worried there, girl."

Genuine relief could be seen on Rupert's face as he turned his head to the Owl pokémon standing on his shoulder. He had noticed that when Hoothoot was not otherwise engaged or simply resting she tended to tilt her head to a certain angle. Hoothoot looked back at the three trainers, confused as to why exactly she had become the center of attention.

Just as Rupert started wondering how exactly one 'read' a Hoothoot's face to tell the time Lee joined the conversation and echoed Rupert's thoughts: "how does that work, you need two handles to tell the time, well I guess the top of the head could be the hour arm, but how would one look at 6 O'Clock, I mean can its leg even turn that much?"

The tall lanky trainer continued his speculations on the subject uninterrupted by the amazed Rupert. He had never even spoken to Lee before, but the Hoenn trainer's ability to lose himself in his own thought process reminded him eerily of himself. The only difference was that Rupert kept it all under wrap in his brain box. Looking at Lee now Rupert thought that this might be for the best. Actually, in terms of sheer loquaciousness Lee might give Tom a run for his money.

"So anyway, is that Hoothoot the only one you got?"

"Huh? O-oh, no actually. I also caught a Pineco. I-it was quite the trip for me actually. First time catching pokémon in s-seven years..."

Rupert suddenly became acutely aware of just how much he owed Tom. It was in their battle that Rupert had realized how hugely unfair he had been to Cubone and Haunter by being such an unengaged trainer throughout his life. And now he had two new team members because he had accepted Tom's proposal for a training excursion. Tom was, perhaps indirectly, the reason Rupert was changing. He really had to find some way to thank him one of these days.
An odd look from Tom told Rupert that Tom might have noticed something weird in his expression. Rupert shook his head and blushed.

Ah, darn it! I can't do this now! Too many people! Too awkward! Quick! Find a distraction!

"S-SO, LEE! Uh... Are you f-fighting in the tournament today? Your match was c-cancelled yesterday, right?"

Lee thoughts about the flexibility and length of a hoothoots legs was interrupted by ruparts questions.

"S-SO, LEE! Uh... Are you f-fighting in the tournament today? Your match was c-cancelled yesterday, right?"

Lee's face trained of enthusiasm 'Yea...' lee went silent as he tough about the conditions that let him through to the next round, tough he quickly jumped back into speech 'Well, I hope I have a fight today, don't know how it will work out time wise, I mean did they get all of the first round matches done? Didn't really pay attention to what number match mine was, just waited for them to call my name for the match. Also my opponent has no idea what my pokemon are or what my fighting style is, it will but us on a even fighting ground... missed out on everyone else's match...for reasons.' Lee said, kinda angry at himself for trying to make someone, obviously to stubborn, listen to him, it got in the way of his goal.

"Could do with a Flying-type though..."

"Oh! Uh, right, got it!"

At Remy's prodding, Matt reached to his belt, fumbling with the newly formed quartet of spheres. The Sinnoh native was right, a flyer would be pretty helpful right about now, especially one of Ventus' caliber. A tough Pokemon, with a good pair of eyes to boot.

"Alright Ventus, come on out!"

A brilliant flash lit the stands for a bit, before the Pidgeotto formed before them. "Pidgerrrrrrro."

"Okay buddy," Matt began as Ventus flapped his wings, "here's the situation: we're on the lookout for whoever caused the blackout last night, and I need you to scout around up high. Think you can do that?"

The Pidgeotto didn't bother to answer, staring at his trainer with an expression that clearly said, "Seriously? That's what you want me to do?"

"Alright, alright," the young lad gave in, rubbing his neck as he meekly grinned. "How about this? If you spot anything, I'll take us out for barbecue, okay?"

Now that Ventus found appealing. "Rrrrrooooo!"

The Pidgeotto took to the skies, and soon was nothing more than a small speck floating high above the stadium.

His Pokemon deployed, Matt sat back down and lowered his gaze to the arena below. It should be a pretty interesting match.

Spiegel's eyes lit up, shining like diamonds as he enthusiastically nodded at the Growlithe. Despite the hostility before, he was beginning to believe he'd found a new best friend. At last. Someone who knew his pain.

Daria, meanwhile, tried to stifle a guffaw at her new companion's clumsiness, and slowly traipsed over to the railing, leaning over and watching the match unfold. "Wicked!" she replied as she went. "Thanks, I was getting kinda freaked out wondering what I'd do..."

She scratched the back of her cap, trying to get at the scalp beneath as if confused. "There was supposed to be some other guy here... but he hasn't shown up yet. Wonder what he's up to..."

"Huh? O-oh, no actually. I also caught a Pineco. I-it was quite the trip for me actually. First time catching pokémon in s-seven years..."

"A pineco? Really? You know how rare those are here?"

Obviously Rupert didn't, as his blank stare continued to dominate his face, although it now seemed to be a bit more quizzical.

"Anyway, If you can evolve it, you'll have a steel type of your own!"

Noticing Kusari glaring at him, he hurriedly said, "Not that bug types aren't great though! Hahahaha!"

"Skor."

Savannah sat anxiously in her seat, both as a avid spectator , eagerly anticipating the oncoming match with Ryan, but also as a nervous deputy investigator, hoping to catch some glimpse of suspicious activity.
Sav's intense concentration (at least in her mind) on the lookout for anything peculiar, was abruptly broken when Matt replied to Remy's belligerent suggestion, releasing Ventus from his pokeball. Ventus being Ventus, he was not particularly keen on being on scouting duty, even though it was his natural affinity.

"Alright, alright, how about this? If you spot anything, I'll take us out for barbecue, okay?"

Prompted by Matt's form of bribery, the Bird-Pokemon took off into the sky, circling the arena grounds like a bird of prey.

Savannah was incited by Remy and Matt's forethought, and took out her own Pokeball, the tell-tale green housing containing Sprig. In a flash of light, the Wood Gecko Pokemon springing into action with a faux scythe with his leaf blade.

"Grove...vyle!"

"Sprig, I need you to survey the immediate area for any shifty looking people or activity, and report to me when you do. Got it?"

"Grovyle!"

The grass-type was excited at the task he was given, and set off with a sense of vigour, after giving a short salute to Savannah.

Satisfied with her efforts as a detective-to-be, she lounged back in her seat, thinking she could now afford a small amount of relaxation, although alertness was also still a priority. Looking down at the battle that was slowly unravelling, Sav's curiosity was piked at the name of Ryan's opponent, Jeremy Moore.

That's it! He's that famous Pokemon breeder from Kanto!

She gave a small smile at the world of breeding being advertised through the spectator sport of pokemon battles, it was a good method of raising awareness of quality breeders, and it was also the same thing that she was doing after all.

Is it wrong that I'll probably be rooting for him?

"So Matt, am I going to be invited to that barbecue of yours?"

While the nine plus one Trainer's settled in their posts and took measures to keep an eye out for would be disturbances, the battle between Ryan and Jeremy was already in full swing. Jeremy had sent out his Gloom, an obviously well raised specimen, bred for battle and Ryan, while not the most avid fighter had a formidable weapon to count on. His one and only.

Loyal and ferocious, Mightyena's Intimidate had already crippled Gloom's will to physically engage the Bite Pokémon. Unfortunately, however, Gloom was not the physical kind. It first used Sweet Scent to lower its foe's evasive skills and followed up with a couple of shots of PoisonPowder. To no avail. Both Ryan and his Pokémon knew they had to stay in this fight for at least 3 or 4 Pokémon. Mightyena, being the faster combatant had used Sand-Attack, lowering Gloom's accuracy and causing it to fail both times, while retaliating with his vicious Bite attacks.

"Well done lad, now use Swagger!"

The Dark-type happily obliged, briefly exiting his battle stance to puff out his chest and anger the Grass-type with his mockery. Gloom went berserk, spewing all kinds of harmful substances from its flower, harming itself in the process. Ryan didn't waste any time and ordered another offensive. Mightyena complied and used Bite yet again.

It is down! Gloom is down after only succeeding with Sweet Scent! Amazing spirit and relentlessness from this young man from Sinnoh!

Simply astonishing Terry! Who would've thought the prodigy breeder from Fuschia would lose like that right off the bat. He can't be happy with that performance.

The echoing words of the commentators did not phase Jeremy in the slightest. Instead, he simply reached for a second PokéBall while wordlessly recalling his Gloom.

"So it seems even an uneducated farmer can deal with your garden variety Gloom. I must admit, what your mutt lacks in finesse, it makes up for in spirit."

Ryan didn't like the tone on this arrogant city slicker.

"Well lad, that's the result of years of working side by side as companions, as pals, right Mightyena?"

Might Might!

Mightyena barked enthusiastically in agreement, as Jeremy shook his head and replied.

"Oh you... Trainer's like you are dime a dozen out there. Here, let's see how your "friendship" overcomes my prized fighter."

Jeremy's second Pokéball cracked open and revealed the slithering contents, sending a shiver down both Ryan and his trusted companion's backs.

...ssssshhhaaa... TCSHHHAAAAAAABAKKKKKK!!

UOH! There it is, Jeremy's prized Arbok! This is the Pokémon with which he single-handedly defeated his prior opponent's 4 Pokémon team!

That's right Terry. I've battled my share of Arbok while I was in the Battle Frontier, but this one? Bred to be a stone cold killer, Terry. And that unique pattern on the front of its hood must've taken years of breeding to achieve. I love this kid and his Mightyena, but frankly, the buck stops here.

"Arbok, Glare, then Wrap, Poison Fang and Acid Spray."

"Mightyena use Bite all the way, the faster we get it down the better. No room for fancy ol' tactics here, boy!"

Mightyena took his time to get moving. Arbok had Intimidate too, using the pattern on its hood to fool opponents into thinking that it was some sort of two faced monstrosity. Nevertheless, Mightyena used Bite on his new fearsome foe, but with his spirit wavering, the damage done was negligible. Arbok immediately retaliated, its cold stare piercing into Mightyena's eyes, paralyzing the once fearless Dark-type completely.

He tried to move, but all was for nought, as paralysis had taken hold of his body. Arbok was free to continue its terrible assault by Wrapping around the hapless opponent and squeezing tightly, causing Mightyena to howl in pain. He tried to fend off the attacker but the paralysis was still maintaining its hold. Ryan's luck seemed to have run out. Arbok used Poison Fang next, sinking its toxin-loaded fangs into Mightyena's neck. This was it Mightyena could already feel his conciousness slipping as the pain of being bitten and squeezed was blending together.

Paralyzed yet again, Ryan had no choice but to watch his trusted companion go through a veritable gauntlet of pain, this time Acid Spray hit the Bite Pokémon, hurting him and lowering his resistance to Special Attacks. Arbok got in one more squeeze before, through the paralysis, Mightyena got a Bite in. Arbok released its prey, but it was too late.

"Last Acid Spray. Let's finish this embarassing display..."

Tchaaabaaaakkka!

The Acid Spray found its target and Mightyena collapsed, his eyes slowly closing shut as the pain slowly faded. Ryan slowly made his way to his friend and picked him up, turning around and leaving the arena, but not before silently shooting a glare at Jeremy. The star-breeder recalled his Arbok and calmly exited the arena to a chorus of cheers and applause, passing Forte who was already well on his way to the center stage.

AND THAT'S IT!! What a match, with one epic win from the Sinnoh kid making it look like he might have this in the bag! Only for Jeremy Moore to return the favour by completely annihalating the young upstart.

He had a good run but against that Arbok you just can't cut it if you're not bringing your A game.

Speaking of A game, this next match is sure to knock the socks right off of everyone watching. Forte, the amazing Fighting-type specialist who we saw beating Ken Capins' two Pokémon team with only his Hariyama, is back! Look at his cool confidence as he steps into the ring.

Yeah he's one of this year's favorites, alright. But if there's one black horse I've been rooting for, it's the amazingly spirited young lass he's facing tonight. So let's not waste any time as in the BLUE CORNER, FROM VEILSTONE CITY, SINNOH, FOOOOOOORTEEEEEE!!!

AND HIS CHALLENGER, THE PEWTER FIST FROM KANTO, DARIAAAA PAAAAACE!!

By this time Forte had already been waiting at his spot for nearly 5 minutes.
______________________________________________________________________________________________

At the South end, Remy did a spit take, spewing Soda Pop all over the lady sitting in front of him.

"THAT GUY'S FROM VEILSTONE?!?!? That's my hometown! Aw jeez, if he's done any sort of training under Maylene, Daria just might lose this one..."

"A-halll RIGHT!" Daria yelled in anticipation, nearly leaving a permanent dent in Kayla's back from the enthusiastic slap. "My turn to lay the smackdown! Wish me luck!"

She hopped over a railing, and with the red beam that was a moment ago Spiegel racing behind her, she dashed down towards the arena.

...

Daria emerged from the Red Tunnel with a triumphant spring in her step. Hopping left and right, throwing shadow punches and pumping herself up for the fight. The crowd ate it up, and cheered louder as she stepped up to her side of the arena. She gave a challenging glare across the way at Forte, both amplified and thrown off by her enthusiastic smile.

"Goin' DOWN, Teddi-Bear!"

She snatched a Pokeball off her waist, and like a hand grenade it hurtled out into the midst of the battlefield. A white flash revealed her first choice of combatant.

"GEMINI, READY FOR ACTION!"

"HYA!" came the enthusiastic cries of the Staryu as it sized up Forte. It was hard to suspect the little gem-adorned creature could be the most bloodthirsty bruiser on Daria's team.

"Pick, Teddi-Bear! Let's not keep 'em waiting!"

"Darius, you make a rather fine point; one could lose it all to carelessness. A single mistaken act, and everything you hold dear to is lost."

Apparently this family wastes nothing on their education.,He thought sarcastically to himself.Or he's just that stupid that he doesn't notice.

The battle was short, but provided quite a bit on insight into the types that Jeremy used. Much like himself, he'd found an affinity for a few and used them well. The Gloom was nice, he supposed, he'd rarely worked with them in the Day-Care, so he didn't know. The Arbok, however was a different thing. Countless Ekans were dropped off and cared for, so he knew how powerful that pokemon could be, given the right training. It wasn't that big of a surprise when it Para-Wrap-Spit. Standard Arbok strategy and move-set really.

"Well, that was certainly over quickly."

AND HIS CHALLENGER, THE PEWTER FIST FROM KANTO, DARIAAAA PAAAAACE!!

"Annnnd..this is going to be loud."

The Whismur was starting to get over her fear of people and had climbed out of Darius' arms, and onto his leg, though immediately fell down as the speakers blared out the woman's name. He picked her back up and set the pokemon on his lap, hands a few inches away on either side if she fell again.

And Daria gets started with her Staryu! It seems this battle is ready to get going, Andy.

You got it Terry! Daria's Staryu did well against her first opponent's Primeape yesterday. Maybe she's looking to duplicate that success tonight.

As Gemini appeared on stage and on the big screens, Forte contemplated on what his first move should be.

"Pick, Teddi-Bear! Let's not keep 'em waiting!"

"Hmph. Hariyama, go."

YAMAAAAAA! HARI! HARI! HARIYAMA!

A huge, bulky Fighting-type Pokémon appeared in front of Staryu, pounding both of its feet on the ground before assuming a Sumo wrestler's battle stance.

And Forte starts off with his Hariyama. Last time he didn't need another Pokémon, will this be true against Daria Pace, as well?

Doubt it, Terry. Daria Pace is on a whole other level compared to Forte's previous opponent. Frankly, I'm surprised that she's remained under the radar for as long as she has.

Forte and Hariyama both stared at their opponents. Words were not needed. Their eyes screamed.

"COME!"
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

"Wow. That Andy Madden sure took a shine to Daria, huh? Just think what they'll say about you when you finally get your first legitimate win against that Jack kid, eh Matt?"

Remy chuckled as he proceeded to noogie the younger man. Suddenly their antics were interrupted by a very familiar laugh.

"NHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

It was Jack Almond, who, unbeknownst to the trio, had been sitting behind them all this time. Chopper, his Machop was also present.

"So, you think you're gonna win, huh? Hate to burst yer bubble there, brotha, but I'll be the one winning. Ya know why? 'Cuz we're strong as heck, that's why! Nhihiiiii!"

Jack's boast was followed by a smirk that must've been a mile wide. Machop joined in, flexing and posing in the manliest of fashions.

Ryan's match hadn't gone well at all, since had the same problem that Rupert had had against Tom. Of course, Tom wasn't surprised, He had expected this, and that was the whole reason he wanted Ryan to come along with him and Rupert on their trip. Before the announcers even started talking, a Large man walked out onto the arena. For some reason, he looked familiar to Tom.

Then the announcements blasted out.

"So let's not waste any time as in the BLUE CORNER, FROM VEILSTONE CITY, SINNOH, FOOOOOOORTEEEEEE!!!"

Veilstone? Uh oh... Daria is gonna have some trouble. Those guys up in veilstone are tough AND their spirit is off the charts! Geez, I remember fighting Maylene... That was way too tough. She destroyed Kalmia... Good thing I had Aeolus with me...

Tom continued to think, lost in his thoughts. He hadn't even noticed that the battle had started.

I wonder who I'm against... It'll be hard to beat them I'm sure. Well, I can always use Trapic to see what they have up their sleeves. Especially if it's a poison type!

Kayla yelled loudly as Daria made her way to the field. Sticking her fingers in her mouth she whistled as loud as she could, drawing glares from the people around her. Quietly apologizing to those around her, she leaned over the railing and turned her attention back to the match. King stood up on his hind legs, with his fore legs over the railing to try and see their new friends battle.

When Forte let out his Hariyama, Kayla let out a loud gasp.

"He's a big one King. Oh I hope Daria can beat her. Come on we need to cheer for her," Kayla took in a deep breath and yelled, "GOOOOOOOOOOOOO! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" King joined in letting lose a loud and long howl.

Daria retracted into a fighting stance, eager to get going against an opponent that could really challenge her, for once. No holding back, not stupid screw-ups like yesterday. I'm gonna make that little twerp eat his words... and them I'm gonna kick his ass!!

Her mood, as impossible to improve as it was, managed to get even brighter as Kayla cheered for her from the northern section. She took a moment to swivel on her feet and wave back, before immediately leaning into the fight once more.

"Gemini." She told her little Staryu, paying rapt attention to its trainer. "Big burly guy, big hitter. Probably slower. Time to show these chumps we can play smart, too! Ya know what to do!"

"HYA!"

Gemini began by spinning high up into the air and launching a torrent by way of Water Gun at the Hariyama below. It knew what to do. If it dodged, Swift. If it countered, Harden.

"So Matt, am I going to be invited to that barbecue of yours?"

Matt started as Sav's words cut through his concentration, his attention being yanked from the match below to the breeder sitting next to him. "Oh! Uh, hold on, give me a sec..."

Pulling out his wallet, the young man eyed his admittedly meager funds. Let's see... That's three, no, four now for them, some for Sav and her team so... another four. I guess I'd have to invite Remy too, so that's another five. Um...

After doing some quick calculations, the trainer nodded. Sure, he'd probably have enough to get back home even if he treated everyone. "Yeah, I think I can handle that. Sure, why not?! Remy, you want to come along to?"

Before his friend could answer, the loudspeaker erupted. AND THAT'S IT!!

Jerking his head back to the arena, Matt bit back a curse. He'd missed the end of Ryan's match, but it was pretty evident how it had gone, what with the unconscious Mightyena and victorious Arbok.

But, even as he mourned Ryan's loss, the young lad couldn't help but shiver in excitement. After all, this next match was sure to be a good one. AND HIS CHALLENGER, THE PEWTER FIST FROM KANTO, DARIAAAA PAAAAACE!!

Matt joined in on the stadium wide cry that rang out when Daria's name was announced, his supporting shout lost in the maelstrom of noise that echoed around the massive enclosure. He was so caught up in the cheer, that he failed to notice Remy's spit-take, nor hear his shocked reaction to Forte's origin. No doubt about it, Daria and Forte were really going to put on a show.

"Wow. That Andy Madden sure took a shine to Daria, huh? Just think what they'll say about you when you finally get your first legitimate win against that Jack kid, eh Matt?"

Matt managed a choked protest as Remy proceeded to noogie him without mercy. However, the lad's slight smile and reddening cheeks betrayed his real feelings, and he opened his mouth to reply. "Heh, well I think-"

"NHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Spinning around, Matt nearly fell out of his seat as he realized that his eventual opponent was sitting right behind him, belting out a hearty laugh and still accompanied by his Machop.

"So, you think you're gonna win, huh? Hate to burst yer bubble there, brotha, but I'll be the one winning. Ya know why? 'Cuz we're strong as heck, that's why! Nhihiiiii!"

Unsteadily, Matt's hands reflexively reached up, gripping the brim of his hat and preparing to pull it down... Stop questioning yourself, and ya handle yourself just fine!

And suddenly, Matt was facing Jack with an energized grin all his own, his typically subdued voice burning with passion. "Yeah, I'll say! You guys did great yesterday, wiping out your opponent with just one Pokemon! It was awesome!"

Flashing a thumbs up at Jack and Chopper, the lad continued, his words flooded with enthusiasm. "But hey, don't count me out just yet. You're not the only one with some tough friends, and we'll be giving it our all!"

Gemini started spinning high in the air, out of Hariyama's reach and prepared to douse its opponent with a Water Gun. Forte scoffed.

"Hmph. Hariyama, Fake Out. Then Earthquake."

HAAAAAARRRIIIIIII... YAMAAAA!!

*WWWWHHHHHAAAAPPPP*

A massive shockwave, accompanied by a very loud clapping sound could be felt through out the stadium, more so by Gemini, who flinched and fell to the ground, trying to get a grip of its surroundings. Hariyama didn't waste time following up his first attack, jumping up a couple of meters in the air, before coming down and slamming his huge hands on the ground. Like Knuckles before him, Hariyama's attack caused the ground in front of him to quake and shatter. Gemini was tossed around like a child's toy, being hit and buried by debris.

As the attack subsided. Gemini slowly and painfully made its way out of the pile that had entombed it for a brief time. It didn't look so good.

"So... Got any other moves?"
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Remy watched on as Matt handled himself with confidence in the face of his first actual opponent. It was incredible to him how quickly the boy had come out of his shell of insecurity, each encounter increasing his resolve.

"Yeah, I'll say! You guys did great yesterday, wiping out your opponent with just one Pokemon! It was awesome!"

Jack seemed positively delighted at the idea that his next opponent was such a cool kid. His smile widened (impossible as it might've seemed) as he rubbed his neck while slightly bowing, Chopper mimicing the gesture.

"Nhahahaaahaaa! Yeah, well... Ya know... That guy was the weaksauce anyway, brotha. Wasn't even worth the build-up"

Matt smiled as he continued, genuinely looking like he was excited for the match to come.

"But hey, don't count me out just yet. You're not the only one with some tough friends, and we'll be giving it our all!"

"Nheh, that's what I'm hoping for, brotha. Although lookin' at that bird o' yours up there, I think we'll have a Wailord of a time. By the way, that Daria chick a friend of yours? Cuz' that Staryu is on fire down there!"

"So... Got any other moves?"

Daria stared back at her opponent, and raised an eyebrow at him. Then, she smiled.

"Recover!"

A red and white shine enveloped the Staryu, rejuvenating energy relieving the pain it had endured. A moment later it stood proud on its legs, bashing two arms together in preparation.

"HYA!"

Daria threw a right hook, already shifting back and forth on her feet as she got into the rhythm of the fight. "RAPID SPIN, PULL BACK, WATER GUN! ROCK 'EM, GIRL!"

"HYAHYAHYAHYAAAAAAAAAAA--" Gemini practically roared as it began to rotate faster than the eye could follow. It zipped across the arena in a jagged arc, its approach difficult to anticipate for the dozens of shifts in direction.

The battle between Ryan and Jeremy was rather short, but it did allow for some insight into his team; especially that Arbok, what strength it had. Whilst its strategy was standard for pretty much all snake like Pokémon, it certainly proved to be an effective one. It was then that the next match was already about to start. It was between the man known as Forte, and...

"AND HIS CHALLENGER, THE PEWTER FIST FROM KANTO, DARIAAAA PAAAAACE!!"

"Annnnd..this is going to be loud." Darius said in response to the announcement.

"Definitely, but it at least shows that she has enthusiasm for battle. This will be one to watch; although she'll have a hard time against Forte's Hariyama, I mean it certainly had a lot of strength behind it." Caleb remarked in response, as he watched the battle with interest.

Go on then Daria, show him what your made of. He said to himself, quietly rooting for the woman from Pewter City. The battle soon went into full swing. With the Hariyama bringing out a powerful three attack combination, which significantly weakened Gemini; although most of the damage was negated with a timely use of Recover.

The Star Shape Pokémon then went into a Rapid Spin, as it zipped across the arena in a strange arc, hoping for its moves to be difficult to anticipate.

"Let's just hope this works." Caleb said to no one in particular, mostly just talking to himself. Raiden was surveying the arena walls and seats for signs of any suspicious activity. For a moment, he thought he saw a passing shadow of something down by the arena side wall, but it disappeared before he got the chance.

"Recover!"

Forte sighed disdainfully as Staryu regained some health.

Troublesome skill...

"Hariyama. Use Arm Thrust. Then Force Palm twice."

Hariyama complied, thrusting his massive arms at Gemini. Gemini took the hit from two sets of thrusts before managing to evade the rest of the assault. Slightly hurt but not deterred Gemini was quickly back in the game as its Trainer's orders echoed around the stadium.

"RAPID SPIN, PULL BACK, WATER GUN! ROCK 'EM, GIRL!"

Gemini spun at Hariyama at blinding speeds, its shifting movements making it hard for the admittedly sluggish Pokémon to evade. And evade he didn't. The Water-type hit him squarely in the side of the neck, immediately retreating as per orders, causing Hariyama's retaliatory Force Palm to miss and hit the ground, the force from the hit instantly opening a crater in the ground.

Whoa there's that Force Palm! Incredible power! Mind explaining that one to the folks watching, Andy?

Sure thing, Terry. See Force Palm doesn't actually hit you with brute physical force. It's a technique in which fighting spirit, or Ki, is directed at the opponent. It won't turn your Pokémon into a crater, but it does sting, and it may paralyze.

Gemini, having regained its footing shot a Water Gun, hitting Hariyama in the gut and sending the nearly 560 pound bruiser flying backwards. Hariyama got up, groaning but still in the game and started making its way towards Daria's Staryu with surprising speed. As he got closer his had started to glow. Gemini tried to make another break for it but the fatigue of the battle was quickly setting in, it was too late. Hariyama's hand gently set on the Star Shape Pokémon's body...

*BOOM*

Ki shot out of Hariyama's hand and made its way through Gemini's body. Was it paralyzed?

HYA! HYAHYA!

Nope. It was fine, if a bit worse for wear again.

"Tch..."

Daria clenched her fists as the stadium roared, egging on the combatants in their violent dance. Her enthusiasm was written plainly on her face, though the thoughts beneath were well hidden. Won't he just go down?! Gem's a bruiser, but she isn't built for drag-out brawls against sluggers this size! She won't slow down, though. She can't slow down. I WON'T EITHER!

The Pewter Fist thrust out her left arm, sweat building up and dripping off of her skin from empathetic exertion of watching her Pokemon battle. "BETCHA YA WOULDN'T GUESS, TEDDI-BEAR, BUT SWEET LITTLE GEM HERE LOVES BATTLING LIKE NOBODY'S BUSINESS, RIGHT GIRL?!"

"HY-HYA!"

Daria swept a thumb across her nose, catching the bead of sweat before it could drop. "RIGHT! SHOW YOUR STUFF, WATER GUN! THEN, HARDEN! YOU'LL KNOW WHAT TO DO!"

Gemini complied with gusto, indeed knowing precisely what to do. Hariyama would get another hit in sooner or later. And when t did, the Staryu would be able to take the hit with a Harden. And then Forte's Pokemon would have nowhere to go to get away from another Water Gun.

Unless he used Earthquake. Forte seemed smart enough to figure that out, Daria supposed, but she wondered if his Pokemon shared the same brains...

Ryan and Jeremy's fight was over and Rupert slumped down in his seat. That had been horrible to watch. Granted, Rupert wasn't much into watching pokémon fights. In fact, the battle between Darius and Savannah had been the first time he had seen the appeal in pokémon fighting as a spectator sport. Rupert couldn't exactly say that he had enjoyed it. It had been enthralling and awe inspiring, but not enjoyable. This on the other hand? This was no fight; it was a massacre.
Rupert imagined himself in Ryan's place, being so overpowered. The thought terrified him. He had lost his fair share of battles before, but neither Cubone nor Haunter had ever been so brutalized. Rupert wasn't sure if he could live with himself if he ever let that happen. And now he was considering undertaking a pokémon journey?

Mad! I must be stark-raving mad!

Rupert admired Ryan's composure as he walked out of the arena with his Mightyena. He was sure that such a loss would devastate himself. Ryan was a bigger man than Rupert.

"Hoooooo..."

Hoothoot low cry made Rupert turn to the Flying-type sitting on his shoulder. Just as he was about to ask her what was wrong he realized what had her concerned: he was trembling. Rupert got a bit mad at himself.

Heh. There you go again. Making your own pokémon worry about yourself. You're ridiculous. And you want to go on a journey to specifically seek out people like this Jeremy? You really are crazy.

"I-It's okay, girl. It's just a bit c-chilly out here, you know? Oh look, Daria is about to fight. You don't want to miss that, I promise."

With Hoothoot's concerns relieved Rupert shifted in his seat and watched Daria's fight with Forte, hoping that it wouldn't leave him as depressed as the previous battle.

Ryan was staring in front of him, looking at the pile of magazines on the table in the Pokemon Centre Waiting Area. Even though people around him looked at him (they had just seen him lose on the television hanging on the wall) Ryan didn't notice anyone nor say a word. He kept replaying the last half hour in his head. He had walked into that Arena as a happy man, and left as a broken one. As soon as Jeremy's Arbok was back in his Pokeball, Ryan had ran towards his Mightyena, Grabbed him and dragged him to the nearest Pokemon centre, tears stinging in his eyes.

Ryan had expected a hard battle against such a seasoned trainer, but he hadn't expected THIS. He had always thought of his Mightyena as a strong Pokemon, but agains Jeremy Mightyena might as well have been a bug, waiting to be crushed. And his family had seen it all. That realization was the worst of all. His family, friends and neighbours who had all been supportive (Some even financially supporting him) of his journey to the Championship, had now seen him get crushed in the very first televised battle he had been in.

"Your Pokemon is ready, Mr. Oliver." A nurse joy walked in with Mightyena walking besides her, head hung shamefully. Mightyena shared Ryan's sentiment about the battle. Ryan crouched down to pet Mightyena, and both their faces brightened up a bit. "Thank you," he said, but the nurse was already gone, taking care of another Pokemon. Ryan glanced at the TV as he walked out. The reporters had already forgotten him and were now focusing on the next battle.

As they went outside, Mightyena kept really close to Ryan. At first he didn't notice, but after passing the fifth large Pokemon, he heard Mightyena whimper. He was scared. Ryan understood, because Mightyena must've been in immense pain before they were at the Pokemon Centre. Ryan stopped, crouched again and looked Mightyena straight in the eyes. "Alright lad, listen up. We got crushed back there. That doesn't mean shit. All we need to do is train to the point that you're a fearsome beast, and that's exactly what we're gonna do. We're gonna go out to the forest, to the streets and every other place with Pokemon and trainers, and we're gonna crush them as hard as we got crushed back there. This Jeremy will regret the day he decided to mess with us, alright?" "Mightyena!" Good. Because there's no way i'm gonna let you get hurt again. Ever.

Ryan re-entered the Arena, trying to find the people he was supposed to team up with after the battle. He found them somewhere up high, and sat down next to them. "hey." This was one of the rare occasions that Ryan didn't know what to say, nor was he able the keep up his upbeat façade. So he just watched the match happening below them, while keeping an eye out for suspicious activity.

"Hey." A voice said out of nowhere, turning his head, Caleb saw that it was Ryan; who must of recently returned from the Pokémon Centre after what must of been a rather crushing defeat at the hands of Jeremy. Caleb wasn't quite sure how to approach him after such a defeat.

"Ah, hello Ryan, good to see that you've joined us. I trust your Mightyena is feeling better?" He asked politely.

"Nheh, that's what I'm hoping for, brotha. Although lookin' at that bird o' yours up there, I think we'll have a Wailord of a time. By the way, that Daria chick a friend of yours? Cuz' that Staryu is on fire down there!"

"I... I'm not..."

For a brief moment, Matt drifted off into his own world, the stadium and his companions slowly losing definition and presence as they faded into the background. A slight buzz, like a persistent mosquito flitting about his ear, was all the young lad could hear, the roars and cheers of thousands blending together into a distant but omnipresent haze of white noise. Likewise, the stands and all their countless occupants were slowly obscured by an ever-thickening fog, a gray shroud that draped itself over the vibrant colors and roiling crowd, muting and diluting them until there were nothing more than a series of undefined shapes.

In a matter of seconds, the young man sat alone, the only living thing in a vast ocean of oblivion.

"...a friend of yours?

With everything that had been happening the past two days (although it felt like much, much more time had passed to the trainer), Matt had found little time to muse on the new people he had been staying with, nor had he considered the nature of his relationship with them. Daria, Remy, Caleb, Savannah; were they his friends?

Well, in order to answer that question, the lad found himself wondering what exactly a friend was. Spike, Ventus, Persephone; they were his friends, his companions through thick and thin, the ones that had helped him grow even as he raised them. Together they had grown stronger and wiser, learning from each other and always willing to lend a helping hand/paw/wing/tendril.

Now, what exactly had been his relationship with his new companions the past couple of days?

...A slight tremble overtook Matt's fist as he reflected on the immediate past. Besides his accusations, what had he actually offered to any of these people? Nothing, nada, zilch. All he'd done was leech off their encouragement and kind words, taking their good will and only offering the occasional smile or words or gratitude. As it was, it was more like they were his guardians then his friends, teaching him lessons he was far too old to just now be learning.

All in all, it was fairly far from an ideal relationship.

With the revelation weighing heavy on his heart, Matt slowly crept back to reality, with color, movement, and sound sluggishly returning to normal. Shaking his head, he noticed the trio of questioning faces staring at him, and started as he realized he must have zoned out for quite some time. "Oh! Oh, I, uh...

"Yeah. Yeah! Yeah, Daria's doing great! And her... Gemini, that's right, is pretty tough too!"

Focusing his gaze on the match below, Matt was unable to notice the slight, but persistent, trembling that seemed to have overtaken his hand. Then again, if he couldn't spot them, odds were no one else could.

"Geeze, this Forte's pretty tough as well, isn't him? Didn't he win with only one Pokemon yesterday?"

As Matt came back to the real world, Gemini was busy fending off a rapidly aproaching Hariyama with its Water Gun. Although Hariyama was feeling the attack, it used Arm Thrust to get through the torrent and before he knew it, the Fighting-type was on top of his opponent, hitting Gemini with the last thrust. Gemini flew backwards hitting the stone wall at the edge of the battle area.

Hya! H-H-HYA!

This was it. Harden. Gemini's body gleamed as it became hard as steel. If it could sustain the next attack, an opportunity to strike at its foe one more time and bring it down. If it failed, it would be letting down the team.

"Hariyama. Vital Throw."

Gemini braced itself as the big lug rushed towards it. As Hariyama reached his foe, the Staryu attempted an evasive move. Futile. Hariyama's enormous hand grabbed it, spun it around once and threw it into the air. As Gemini came down, Hariyama grabbed it again, jumped, spun Gemini around one last time and threw it into the ground.

Its gem blinking rapidly for a few seconds, Gemini finally gave in.

And Hariyama prevails! Forte takes the first battle! Amazing last move by Hariyama!

Indeed! The Vital Throw that took out Ken Capins' Donphan in one shot proved too much for the Staryu to take. Amazing control for a Hariyama, I must say.

True Andy, true. Let's see what Pewter's Daria has in store for us next!
_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Remy looked on, genuinely on edge about the battle at hand.

"Damn... That Staryu took out Primeape... That Forte is no laughing matter. If Daria doesn't take that Hariyama out with whatever she sends next, she's as good as gone."

Zan. Zangoose.

Zangoose was impressed. During their travels and escapades, few Trainers and Pokémon had been more than an annoyance. It seemed, however that their view of the world was greatly limited. Zangoose thought of himself as being at the top, while in reality, he and his teammates were merely battling refuse. These were real fighters. Real challenges. It could feel its blood spoiling for a fight against any of these creatures.

Meanwhile, Jack was busy chatting up his opponent-to-be.

"Nhahahahaaa! Can't wait! Can't wait to be down there. Doin' what they're doin'. Against you brotha. I can feel it in ya. You have that spark ya know? That flame you rarely see. So many hobbyists these days ya know? But you. I'ma have fun with you. Nhihihihihiiii!"

"Nhahahahaaa! Can't wait! Can't wait to be down there. Doin' what they're doin'. Against you brotha. I can feel it in ya. You have that spark ya know? That flame you rarely see. So many hobbyists these days ya know? But you. I'ma have fun with you. Nhihihihihiiii!"

"Uh-huh, great!" Matt agreed nervously, a slightly forced smile on his face.

While he had no doubt that Jack was just trying to have some playful banter, the Hoennite's word choice was beginning to push Matt out of his already small comfort zone. While flirting was one of the many, many things that the young lad had never had a chance to brush up on, he highly suspected that if he or Jack were of the opposite gender, some very... well, incorrect things could have been assumed about the foreigner's words.

"Well, uh," the youth stammered, trying to come up with a suitable reply, "I bet that we're gonna... gonna... your mother...

"...I'm going to stop talking now, and just say that I hope we have a good battle, one that has both of us giving it our all and having a good time!" Matt exclaimed. "And, uh... your spark looks good too? Yeah, let's go with that one..."


High overhead, Ventus shuddered as he made another pass over the stadium, his eyes sliding shut for a bit longer than a standard blink. Somewhere, Matt was making a fool of himself. Again.

Daria silently fished Gemini's Pokeball from her belt, calling it back with a swift motion. She lifted the ball up to her mouth and whispered "Ya did real good, girl; real good. Proud of ya."

She hung the ball back on her belt, and flashed a smile across the field. "Nice work, Teddi! Least ya got the skills t'back up that snark! Shoulda SEEN how many no-name chumps in this city tried to top me!" Even inside his Pokeball, the sound of Spiegel smacking his face at the double entendre could be heard. "But we'll see how long that lasts!"

She hovered her hand over her row of remaining combatants, her mind churning the gears as she worked her way through the problem of who to pick next. I wanna save Jet for last. Fast, good attacking power. Pinch-hitter to be sure. And Spiegel's good for the long haul, but he has his limits. Don't wanna waste his strength on a weakened Pokemon, if that Hariyama gets a hit in. But Slagger... that evolution puts him on even ground. Good defense to even out the super-effective attacks... OK!

With the manic grin that was her trademark back in full force, she selected her next Pokeball. And yet, save her impossibly stretched lips, the rest of her face looked calm. Confident. Serene, even. She tossed the Pokeball high above Hariyama, and shouted "TOXIC, BREAK, GO!"

ZZZSHAP

"GOL GOL!"

Slagger came down like an anvil from above, dripping purple toxic sludge as he prepared a Brick Break attack towards the more bulbous Fighting-Type.

"TOXIC, BREAK, GO!"

As Slagger appeared, all 660 pounds of him hitting the ground with a healthy thud, Just about everyone was pleasently surprised. Forte didn't bother hiding his surprise, his eyes slightly wider at the somewhat rare sight of a fully evolved Geodude.

"Hmmm. Golem. An unexpected ace in the hole... But how long will it last?"

Jumping Jumpluffs! It seems Daria has been hard at work since her previous battle!

That she has, Terry. That there Golem is looking mighty fine, and is no doubt a great deal stronger than yesterday, when it was still a Graveler. Still, it IS facing a Fighting-type user so it seems that Daria is just looking to score some hits at the cost of her weakest link.

Remy, having missed the evolution, was also taken by surprise.

"Whoa! That is one mean looking Slagger! Wonder if it's still the same goofball?"

Zangoose. Goose.

Zangoose liked what he saw. Strong opponents only getting stronger. This Daria was a truly formidable Trainer. He was aching for a chance to face her Pokémon in battle once more.

"TOXIC, BREAK, GO!"

Toxins oozing out of every crag on Slagger's new and imposing rock-hard shell, he rolled toward the awaiting Hariyama, ready to douse him with the foul goo.

"Hariyama. Stop it with Force Palm. Follow up with an Earthquake."

As Slagger reached his target, Hariyama put up one of his palms as if to stop the rolling boulder of pain. As soon as the Rock-type came to a mere inch from the extended hand, a blast of ki sent him flying in the other direction. Daria didn't even flinch as more than 600 lbs whizzed by her at what must've been some 120 km/h, and crashed into the wall, sending dust and debris everywhere.

"Hmph. As impressive as your new Pokémon might look, it is still just a Rock-type. When faced with the might of Fighting-types, they can do nothing but cr- Hm?"

*CRACKLE* *CRASHH* *THOOM*

Like a bat out of hell, Slagger rocketed out of the hole he had made in the wall, whizzing past Daria as he prepared another dose of Toxic. Paralysis? Screw that noise! Jumping as he neared his foe, in order to avoid another Force Palm, Slagger managed to coat his opponent in the noxious ooze. Hariyama shivered and moaned as he was badly Poisoned, the toxins taking an immediate toll on his health.

"Ghh... Hariyama no rest. Use Earthquake now!"

H-Hari.

Pain was an illusion. Defeat was a lie. All that mattered was the end goal. Victory. At all costs. Overcoming the pain, Hariyama jumped up in the air and came down for another massive Earthquake. Slagger was thrown around and punished by the jutting pillars and cracking ground like a crashtest dummy, rock peeling off of his hide with every hit. Once the arena floor settled, it was quite hard to make him out from the rest of the debris. Not surprising, seeing as he wasn't there.

Daria, on the other hand knew exactly where he was. Forte realized this quickly after as well.

"UP THERE!"

Slagger had used the momentum he got from the quake to fling himself up into the air, and was now coming down with tremendous force. Hariyama looked up but it was much too late. 660 pounds of solid rock came down, straight onto the Arm Thrust Pokémon's face, lifting the hefty Pokémon off his feet and slamming its head into the ground. Slagger had successfully pulled off Brick Break. Hariyama tried to get up, but the hit had been too much. That, combined with the poison coursing through his veins was all he could take. Hariyama had fainted.

AMMMMMAAAAAZING! With an amazing two strike combo, Daria takes down the until now invincible Hariyama!

That there was a great play, Terry. Skill and determination mixed with a little bit of dumb luck, and Daria has evened the score!

"Hm. Have you? Admittedly, taking down Hariyama with a Rock-type was quite a feat, girl.."

Forte said calmly, while calling back his downed Pokémon.

"But look at it. Hariyama's Earthquake left your Pokémon quite exhausted."

Forte was right. Slagger's victory had been nothing short of amazing. However, after taking the hits from Earthquake, he was clearly in the red.

"Now then... On to my next Pokémon."

Another PokéBall opened, releasing Forte's second pick.

FERRRRRRRNNNNOOOOOOOOO!

"Monferno, Mach Punch. Taunt. Flame Wheel."

"Monferno, Mach Punch. Taunt. Flame Wheel."

"Oop. No ya don't!"

The charging Monferno was denied its fight, when a red beam engulfed the Golem and drew him back into his Pokeball. Daria wagged a finger at Forte, a mischievous smile on her face.

"Ah-ah-ah. A little 'dumb luck' doesn't mean I'm stupid. Slagger's had his fun. I wanna spread the good times around a little, ya know? 'Sides, I think this'll be much more interesting..."

Should be similar stats. Probably a little faster, a little stronger. But Spiegel can take a punch better, I'd imagine... let's see how this stacks up.

She picked her next ball, and tossed it. "Spiegel, let's jam!"

ZZZSHAP

"CHARMELEON!"

Daria threw a ghost-uppercut, and bellowed "CUT THAT SPEEDSTER DOWN TO SIZE! SCARY FACE, THEN A GROWL! FOLLOW UP WITH DRAGON RAGE!"

Spiegel was out and ready for a fight. First he'd go in wit-

*BAM*

Monferno was but a blur as he went in for the Mach Punch, a lightning fast flicker hitting Spiegel right in the jaw, dizzying the Fire-type for a while. Monferno jumped back to get some distance. Mockingly wiped his nose with his thumb, extended an arm and motioned for Spiegel to "Come and get it". A Taunt.

Spiegel snapped and tried a Fire Fang. Monferno evaded it with ease by simply side-stepping the attack. It was Monferno's turn. Somersaulting into the air and engulfing itself in flame, Monferno flung itself at Spiegel, the furry ball of flame hitting the Kanto starter in the back. As a Fire-type, however, the damage was negligible.

The Charmeleon was still pissed, though. Growling was not on the agenda, instead, this uppity ape would feel the power of his Dragon Rage. Charging a deep blue flame in his mouth, Spiegel let fly, the flame engulfing Monferno, who seemed less than pleasantly surprised that this particular flame actually hurt him. As the flames dissipated it was clear, Monferno had felt the hit.

"No quarter Monferno. Use Mach Punch again."

Monferno's speed was amazing as he yet again disappeared, appearing behind his foe and punching him in the ribs. Before he was able to get any distance however, Spiegel, having snapped out of his enraged state, engulfed his Sinnoh counterpart in yet another Dragon Rage.

Looking somewhat worn out, Monferno looked like it didn't expect the opponent's Charmeleon to put up such a good fight. Spiegel had been fooled by Monferno's Taunt and taken his share of hits as well, but it seemd as though the Kanto starter had the upper hand at that moment.

"Hm. Don't slack off, Monferno. Mach Punch again. Finish it with Brick Break."

As Spiegel and Forte's Monferno squared off far below, Matt found himself watching with a bit of bizarre fascination. There was no doubting that both of the Fire-types were adept and experienced combatants, and their trainers were just as, if not even more, skilled than their Pokemon. It was a heart-pounding and thrilling battle, one that seemed to send the temperature of the onlooker's blood skyrocketing.

However, even as he watched the Flame and Playful Pokemon brutalize each other, something continued to nag at Matt. That strange, elusive sensation that told him he was forgetting something, something very important. But what was it...

"Oh, crap," the trainer swore under his breath, cringing as the realization hit him like a ton of bricks. His own match against Jack would follow immediately after Daria and Forte's. And judging by the state of the combatants' current Pokemon, not to mention their already fainted (Or just weakened, in Slagger's case) teammates, the current battle wouldn't be lasting much longer.

"Hey, uh, guys," Matt spoke up, turning to his compatriots and eventual opponent with an apologetic grin. "Sorry, but I think I'm gonna head downstairs now. Need to do some, uh... stuff," he finished lamely, nervously rubbing his neck.

Snatching up his backpack, the lad began making his way towards the stand's concrete staircase. Seconds later, he slid to a sudden halt, the impact of his open palm against his forehead leaving a visible bruise. "You, uh, might want to cover your ears for this."

Inhaling deeply, Matt filled his lungs with air. Simultaneously, he brought his hands up to his mouth, forming a rough V-shape with his extended pinkies and sticking it just inside his lips. Then, he blew.

TWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

The high-pitched shriek lanced through the air like a swarm of invisible daggers, piercing the eardrums of anyone and everyone within Matt's current vicinity. Even worse, the whistle was not a brief, instantaneous affair. Instead it carried on for a solid ten seconds, growing steadily louder and higher even as the trainer's supply of oxygen decreased.

Smiling sheepishly at the annoyed glares shot his way, the lad stood awkwardly for a few more seconds before Ventus swooped down from above, landing on Matt's shoulder with practiced ease. A quick tap with a Pokeball later, and the Pidgeotto was reduced to a sphere of red light and clipped safely back onto his trainer's belt. "Alright, see you guys later then."

Spiegel was sent reeling by Monferno's quick barrage, and had barely been given the time to let off an attack of his own to counter. Daria scrunched her face and buried it in a palm.

"SPIEGEL!" she called out in her angriest voice. The lizard cringed and, with as much apprehension as physically possible turned to look at her.

"YA DON'T USE FIRE FANG ON A FIRE-TYPE! EVER! STICK TO DRAGON RAGE IF YA'VE GOTTA USE SOMETHING, GOT IT?!"

Spiegel frantically nodded, a mortified tear in the corner of one eye. He turned back to the fight just as Forte was having his own Pokemon get rolling again.

"Hm. Don't slack off, Monferno. Mach Punch again. Finish it with Brick Break."

Damn Mach Punch. Wish Spiegel knew Disable... Spiegel's fast. Come on, buddy!

No sense in countering a move that had priority. Best she could do was have her Charmeleon dodge, and then... ooh, that might just be crazy enough to work.

"SPIEGEL!" she roared, dropping to a knee and throwing a vicious right hook into the defeneseless air. "DUCK THE PUNCH, COUNTER WITH DRAGON RAGE! THEN, PARRY HIS BREAK WITH YOUR OWN!"

"CHAR!"

It was a crazy move with an even chance for failure. But then, Spiegel kinda liked crazy. He braced himself for the incoming punch, ready to weave out of the blow's path and make his move.

"DUCK THE PUNCH, COUNTER WITH DRAGON RAGE! THEN, PARRY HIS BREAK WITH YOUR OWN!"

Spiegel was ready for this. This was it. Time to make the boss proud.

*WHOOOOSSSHHH*

Monferno's punch whizzed past Spiegel's face, missing by a hair's width. Now it was Spiegel's turn, turning towards his opponent, charging a Dragon Rage.

Not this time. Monferno spun around himself, following with a backflip to dodge the attack, the Charmeleon's move going to waste on the now vacated ground. Monferno was back in front of his Trainer, as was Spiegel. Both closed their eyes for a moment as they panted slightly from the exhausting battle. They could feel it. That feeling when a battle has taken its toll. The time and damage wearing down the body and mind until...

*HHHHWWWWOOOOOOOSSSHHH*

Spiegel's flame burst into a blaze. Monferno's did as well. Blaze. That roaring flame inside of certain Fire-types that tells them, cries out to them. "Never give up! Fight until the last dimming ember!"

Both sprang into a run, preparing to jump at each other and deliver that final blow. The last Brick Break.

Spiegel jumped. Spinning in the air and striking Monferno in the ribs with his tail.

Monferno doubled over in pain, but managed to keep it together and bring his outstretched palm down on his foe's neck.

Both hit the ground. Their flames, that just seconds ago roared with fury were now mere shadows of their normal selves. The two starters just lay there, waiting for the lights to go out. It had been a great fight.

Right before Monferno checked out he lifted an arm and stretched it towards Spiegel, his hand in a fist.

Mon! M-onfer. "Good match, brother."
______________________________________________________________________________________________

At the North end, Kayla and King were looking on with great interest. Suddenly King's keen senses caught a whiff of something. In a flash, the Growlithe rushed towards the smell. It didn't take long to find the source. At the top, near the center exit, an angry looking young man was following the match. He was exuding a dangerous smell. King knew this guy was trouble. Kayla had to be warned.

Grrrrrrr... GROW! GRROW!

Spiegel twisted his head up to look the Monferno in the eye, a bone in his neck popping back into place in the process. With a subtle, pained motion, he nodded back.

"Char... Charmele."

Spiegel raised his own fist, and pressed it against the Monferno's. And in a synchronized motion, both fell. The roar of the crowd was deafening as their faces hit the dirt, not a foot away from one another. Daria's face stretched into a deep frown as she glared at the outcome. But slowly, she forced herself to relent. She had a gentle smile on her lips by the time she called Spiegel back to his Pokeball.

"Ya earned a rest, partner." she whispered. "Good fight."

She plucked the sole Pokeball that had yet to be used, and began to toss it in the air repeatedly, letting it fall back into her palm each time.

"I've got one healthy Pokemon left. And so do you." she called across the arena. "Ready?"

She leaned back, ready to toss her Pokeball the precise moment Forte did his.

Kayla was watching the match very intently. She cheered loudly for Daria when Spiegel and the Monferno both fell down and she booed for Forte. She was staring intently for the next pokemon the combatants were going to use. It wasn't until King started to gnaw at her leg that her concentration was broken. Turning around she was about to scold King when she saw the angry young man standing at the top of the stairs, starring at her. King was crouched down, teeth barred, fur standing up and was growling at the man.

"Who are you and what do you want!" Kayla yelled, her hand drifting to the rest of her pokeballs. "King. Ready ember"

King complied, flames filling his mouth.

"Well done Monferno. Return."

Forte was impressed beyond the shadow of a doubt. Daria's training style had looked reckless and foolish to him as an outsider but now, having battled her himself, feeling her spirit first hand, he couldn't help but respect her abilities. But this last one was going to decide if her spirit had what it takes, or if she still had a lot of growing up to do.

"I've got one healthy Pokemon left. And so do you. Ready?"

"Indeed. He's been waiting for this moment ever since we woke up this morning. Now show me Daria Pace. Show me what makes you worth of that Pokémon."

Forte reached for his last PokéBall and called out his last combatant.

"Hitmonchan. Let us finish this."

Hit, Hit, Hit. Hitmon. Chan!

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