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Paradise
May 4th, 2006, 06:08 PM
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Paradise
May 4th, 2006, 06:11 PM
Chapter 1: The Rising Badge

It was an unusually beautiful day in Blackthorn City. A huge bright sun was in the sky, heating the air and bathing the blossoming flowers in light, its golden rays pouring through the white billowy clouds. The lake behind Blackthorn City was even looking more presentable: perfectly blue, reflecting all of the sun rays and looking as though a thousand flashlights were being shaken back and forth in the watery depths, with exceedingly joyous Magikarp breaking their previous records by jumping high out of the water and landing with a splash. It seemed as though nobody normal could wish that they had never waken up this day and be shivering at the same time, but then again this would not be the first time Ash Ketchum and his friends were showing signs of abnormality.

Ash, Misty, and Brock had just walked out of the cavern that connected Blackthorn City and Mahogany Town, the Ice Path, shivering, freezing, exhausted, but otherwise in perfect condition. Only one kind of person would be daring enough to attempt such a crazy feat: a Pokemon trainer who wanted his eighth Johto Gym Badge. Coincidentally, Blackthorn City held the Gym that gave out the eighth Jothto Gym Badge, the Rising Badge, to anybody who could beat the fierce, experienced Gym Leader.

"Where is the Gym, Brock? Can we go now?" asked Ash restlessly.

"Can't we rest for a little while?" uttered an exhausted Misty, who had collapsed to the soft ground immediately after exiting the Ice Path.

Ash opened his mouth to speak, planning in full to make a speech about how important getting this Gym badge was to him, but Brock cut across him, saying, "Misty is right Ash. Undoubtedly that trip tired out your Pokemon. And you'll need your strength if you're going to have a battle. I think staying at the Pokemon Center for a while will do good for all of us."

There was no point in arguing with this logic, so after Ash muttered his consent, and after managing to get Misty off the ground, the trio walked began to walk down the town's Pokemon Center. The walk seemed to help them more than it tired them out even more: the hot sun seemed to melt both their physical and mental stress away. Finally when they reached the Pokemon Center, they agreed that just sitting down while Ash's Pokemon were being healed would be rest enough.

They opened the door to find the familiar elevator music and Blissey's Aromatherapy fill their senses. Ash walked up to the desk while Brock and Misty went over to the waiting area.

"Hi, Nurse Joy," said Ash as he approached.

"Hi!" she replied. "How may I help you today?"

"Well, my Pokemon are pretty tired out from our long journey in the Ice Path. I just need them to be healed."

"Sure thing! If you'll just hand me your Pokeballs, I can get them healed right away."

Ash detached the six red-and-white balls from his belt and handed them to Nurse Joy. She placed each of them in a ball-shaped slot in a large rectangular machine and pressed a button whose letters spelled out "Heal." Each of the Pokeballs flashed with white light, and after ten seconds of this, the machine's humming died down and the balls stopped flashing. Nurse Joy took them all out and turned back to Ash with a smile. "Your Pokemon are fully charged, free of charge!"

"Thanks, Nurse Joy!" said Ash.

"Your welcome! Please come again!"

Ash reattched the Pokeballs to his belt and went over to meet Misty and Brock. "Can we please head over to the Gym now?"

"All right," said Brock. "According to the map, it's just a half mile north of here."

Ash, Misty, and Brock exited the Center and began to walk north, each step of the way Ash getting more heated up about the battle. It was only a few minutes until they were at the doorway. The second Ash opened the door, he immediately realized that he had better reasons to be heated up--there were two gigantic pools of red, bubbling lava. In the middle of these two rectangular pools was a strip of land on which Ash assumed the Pokemon would be battling, and at the end of this strip was the Gym leader Clair, sitting on a divine throne with markings and carvings that were the sign of an expert, with a head of a dragon of which Ash would never think would revolutionize his entire life on the top.

Swallowing all of his nervousness, Ash said in a steady voice, "Clair, my name is Ash Ketchum, and I’m from Pallet Town, and I challenge you to an official Gym Battle for the eighth Johto Gym badge, the Rising Badge!"

Clair the Gym leader leapt out of her throne and landed perfectly on the strip of land. “Ash, I accept your challenge! This will be a two-on-two battle. Between rounds there will be a field change! I’ll choose my Pokemon first—Dragonair, go!”

Clair tossed a red-and-white capsule to the ground; on contact, it sprang open and in a flash of white light a blue, snake like Pokemon with a small white horn appeared.

“Typhlosion, I choose you!” cried Ash; a tall humanlike Pokemon with flames jetting from its neck appeared when its Pokeball hit the ground. “Typhlosion, use Will-o-wisp!”

Clair cried out “Dragonair, use Safeguard!”

A veil the same color as the Will-o-wisp rose up and covered Dragonair; when the flames hit the shield, they instantly vanished.

“Now Dragonair, use a Hydro Cannon against Typhlosion!”

Dragonair opened its mouth wide and a gigantic blast of water jetted out. “Typhlosion, dodge, fast!” Typhlosion leapt into the air; unfortunately a part of the water still managed to hit it and it fell back to the ground, hurt. “Typhlosion, are you okay?” Typhlosion shakily got back to its feet and nodded with a grunt. “Good job! Now I want you to use your Focus Punch!”

Typhlosion’s arm glowed with a white light, and it quickly ran towards the recharging Dragonair and punched it high into the air, making it land in a tangled heap. Now it was Clair’s turn to be worried. “Dragonair, can you still battle?”

“Dra—Dragonair!” uttered the Dragonair, its cry getting stronger. “Good, now I want you to use a Surf on Typhlosion!”

Dragonair’s horn glowed with a shiny blue light; the next second, a gigantic magnificent blue wave rose from the ground and crashed down on Typhlosion. The last thing Ash heard was Typhlosion’s desperate cry before it was swept away by the wave.

“Typhlosion!” Ash yelled. “Are you okay? Can you sti— Ash was cut off. Something gorgeous was happening with Typhlosion. The wave had forced Typhlosion into the pool of lava. But instead of sinking, the lava had rose up in a huge pillar, Typhlosion on top, glowing with a fiery red light, the flames on its neck enlarging furiously.

“Ash,” called Brock from the sidelines, “Typhlosion is using its Blaze! It can still fight!”

“Excellent!” said Ash as the flow of moved over to the strip of land, splattering everything with tiny pieces of magma, Typhlosion still on top. “Typhlosion, finish this off with an Overheat!”

Typhlosion opened its mouth wide, the lava expanding dangerously close to Ash, and after a few seconds of charging it let out a huge blast of white fire whose heat Ash could feel even through the wall of lava. As it passed, the magma that was still in the two pools rose up and down, and the Overheat finally hit Dragonair back, missing Clair by an inch and blasting into the wall, making it crack, obviously in a condition that could not allow it to continue battling.

“Dragonair, return!” shouted Clair, aiming the Pokeball at Dragonair. In a beam of red light, Dragonair was gone. “Good job,” said Clair to herself, kissing the ball and reattaching it to her belt. “Field change!”

Ash looked around, half-expecting to see a person press a large purple “field change” button on the ground, but Clair simply snapped her fingers, and a flow of water replaced the lava, immediately cooling the gym down. The water overflowed so it covered most of the strip of land. There was only enough land left for Ash and Clair to stand; their Pokemon would be forced into the water.

Clair had now chosen a new Pokeball. “Kindgra, come on out!” she cried, and a sea horse-like Pokemon appeared in the water.

“Lapras, I choose you!” exclaimed Taylor, and a second after a blue Pokemon that resembled a turtle with a long neck appeared.

“Lapras, use a Rain Dance!”

Lapras let out a high-pitched cry aimed for the heavens. A downpour of rain started, without any clouds.

“Kingdra, use your Hydro Pump!” said Clair.

An enormous blast of water exploded from Kingdra’s mouth, headed straight for Lapras.

“Lapras, use your Dive!”

Lapras dove underwater just in time; the Hydro Pump dissipated into the water, causing a temporary current.

“Submerge!” shouted Taylor, and Lapras jumped out of the water and tackled Kingdra, dealing a small amount of damage.

“Now Kingdra, I want you to use your Hyper Beam!”

Kingdra opened its moth wide again, making a sound as though it was sucking in water. Taylor, knowing what was coming, shielded his eyes, and a few seconds later, he saw a huge white flash of light rush past his eyelids. He opened his eyes tentatively to find Lapras in a horrible condition. It had scuff marks all over its body, and its long head lay in the water, its eyes closed. “Lapras, we can win in just two moves! Can you do it?”

Lapras painfully opened its eyes and nodded at Taylor. “Great! I want you to use your Sing Attack!”

Lapras opened its mouth, but instead of a colored jet of a specific element coming out, a beautiful song filled the air. In a matter of seconds, Kingdra had dozed off, snoring peacefully, sucking in water.

“Good, now I want you to use Perish Song!”

Lapras started to sing again. It started off just as beautiful as Sing, but it suddenly turned very unpleasant, ugly, and into a minor key. Kingdra shifted in its sleep, its face screwed up. The Rain Dance subsided.

“Good job, Lapras! Now return!”

As Lapras disappeared in a flash of red light, Ash’s Typhlosion appeared in white light. Ash hastened to make room on his one piece of land. “Typhlosion, skip your turn,” he said as the tall Fire Pokemon jumped next to Ash.

Horror fleeted across Clair’s face, as well as realization. “Uh…Kingdra…wake up?” she asked the sleeping Pokemon quietly, but it was no good.

Suddenly, the Perish Song filled the air again, as unpleasant as ever. Kingdra immediately woke up, let out one last cry, fainted, just as the song died out. “Kingdra, return!” Clair cried. She looked at Ash. “No…I don’t accept defeat! You are not ready for the Elite Four! If you want to get the Rising Badge, you must obtain the Dragon Fang from the depths of Dragon’s Den! Then and only then will you get the badge!”

Ash opened his mouth again to complain, but Clair snapped her fingers again and she was gone.



A few minutes later the trio was in the Pokemon Center again.

“You just beat Clair, didn’t you,” said Nurse Joy as Ash explained his situation, “this same thing happens all the time. The Dragon’s Den is directly behind the gym across the Blue Lake. It would be a ten minute swim if you rode on your Lapras. Which Item did she tell you to fetch?”

“The Dragon Fang.”

“That’s the hardest one to find, you must have beaten her good. That would be past the one story house you will see and across the Three Whirlpools. You probably want to take a look in the house as well.”

“Thanks Nurse Joy!” said Ash, glad she was able to tell him such information “But, Lapras passed out during the battle. I’ll have to leave it here until we get back.” He handed her Lapras’s Pokeball.

With a bow, she said, “Please come again.”




“Charizard, I choose you!” cried Ash. It let out a echoing roar, its flame lit tail engorging dangerously. They had traveled behind the Gym like Nurse Joy had told them to. Distantly, a flat rock formation with a small, lightless hole on the front was visible.

Ash hopped on the giant dragon-like Pokemon, Pikachu on his shoulder, a very white-faced Misty next, Brock third, looking as though this was nothing compared to riding on his Onix.

“Fly to that cave right over there!” Ash shouted, and kicking its sides like a horse, Charizard ran forward and sprang up into the air, leaving a cloud of dust behind.

But ten seconds into the trip, it was obvious that this journey would have been safer on the back of Lapras. “Charizard, what are you doing?” said Ash, alarmed. Charizard was slowly diving down into the water, though its wings were flapping wildly. Ash knew that they would all probably die if they sank into the deep water.

Misty’s hands dug painfully into Ash’s sides as they all screamed, Charizard just inches away from the water—Ash could see a blindingly powerful white light—but suddenly, the light disappeared and Charizard skimmed the water, going level now, and a few seconds later, landed on the grassy ground opposite of the Gym smoothly.

“What—was—that?” cried Misty in a combination of rage, shock, and fear, pale as ever.

But Ash was on the verge of laughter. “C’mon Misty, it was just messing with us, why would Charizard ever stop flying and dive into a lake?”

Brock and Misty exchanged significant glances while Ash turned their back on them and returned Charizard to its Pokeball.

“I guess we should go in now,” said Ash, turning to the entrance of the cave, which was the shape of a giant keyhole.

Each of them crouching down as to not hit the top of the low cavern, they walked in the lightless hole, ominous feelings tingling up their spines. Because of the pitch-blackness pressing against their eyes, they had no trouble hearing a slither of a snake-like creature quietly splashing into a body of water in the distance. Finally they managed to blindly feel their way into the main part of the cavern, twenty feet high, two hundred yards long, just light enough for them to see. Ash felt Pikachu shift slightly on his shoulder as they stared into the immense body of water. One strip of land bordered the sides of the cave, and in the middle of the lake was a one-story house on a square of land just big enough for one person to walk around the house. There was a path that led from it, back to the one strip of land. In the distance Ash thought he could hear the water swirling hard enough to form a whirlpool, but in the banks nearest him there was only the tiniest tide, though he thought he could hear underwater movements, and once or twice he saw flashes of black, snake-like things swim past him, not making a sound or affecting the current at all.

For some reason, Ash was whispering when he said, “Nurse Joy said we should go inside the house when he got here, so let’s go there first.”

Misty and Brock nodded and they made their way to the middle of the back of the cave. By the time they got there, they were able to hear and see the whirlpools clearly. They made their way across the path that led from the strip of land to the house and without thinking to knock, they opened the door and went in.

It was very hot, but still pleasant, and it was heavily scented with a smell that was simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. Their footsteps made no noise as they made their way, as though hypnotized, to the rather old man in blue robes at the opposite of the room.

In a wheezy, oddly distant voice, he stage whispered, “Have—you—come—to—take—the—Test—of—Enemies—and—Allies?”

Coming back to Earth at last, Ash just stood there, having no idea about what the man was talking about, but Misty poked him in his back, pushing him forward a couple of inches and he nodded.

“You—see—a—powerful—Pokemon. Do—you—help—steal—it—or—do—you—help—save—it?” he said in the same wheezy, distant whisper.

“I would save it,” said Ash, thinking from that point that the test would not be hard at all.

“You—need—help—with—saving—the—Pokemon. Do—you—attempt—it—on—your—own, or—do—you—forgive—those—whom—you—normally—don’t—trust?”

After a few seconds, Ash said, “I would forgive them.”

“If—it—were—a—question—of—the—Pokemon’s—life—or—death, would—you—catch—it, therefore—saving—it, or—would—you—not—catch—it, letting—the—enemy—steal—it?”

It took a long time before Ash replied, “I would catch it.”

“My—dear—boy, you—have—passed—the—test—which—even—Master—Clair—has—been—unable—to. You—will—receive—this—gift,” said the old man. He snapped his fingers and a rectangular, lidded box appeared in midair. He snapped his fingers again, and Ash found himself just beyond the door of the house with Misty and Brock, holding the box in his hands.

“Well, open it!” said Brock, speaking at last.

Ash opened the lid, and without warning, his Pokedex activated. He took it out of his pocket and flipped it open to hear what it had to say.

“Dragon Fang. This object came from the mouth of a legendary Pokemon, but can be used on any Dragon Pokemon, increasing its power.”

Ash held up the long fang-like object. It was perfectly white, long, and pointed. There was also a Pokeball in the box. Ash took it out and tossed it against the ground, and a blue, snake-like Pokemon, a little bit wider and shorter than Clair’s Dragonair, materialized. The Pokedex activated again.

“Dratini, the Dragon Pokemon. The unevolved form of Dragonair. When it is about to evolve, it rapidly develops the power to change the weather, also becoming sensitive to even the smallest temperature change, but thousands of years ago during a brutal storm, it lost its ability to fly. It regains the ability once it evolves.”

“It’s so cute!” said Misty shrilly, sounding happy for the first time that day. As she stroked Dratini’s head, it cried out content, high-pitched squeaks of delight.

“Return!” said Ash, pointing the ball at Dratini, and Misty fell to the ground in surprise.

“That’s not funny!” she yelled once Ash and Brock roared with laughter, though a smile had spread across her face.

Once he stopped, Brock said, “Ash, Dratini is a powerful Pokemon. I can’t believe you actually got one, they’re super rare.” And yet suddenly the movements in the water all came to Ash’s sense.

“What was with that guy in there anyway?” said Ash. “I wonder what that Test of Enemies and Aipoms or whatever it was was about.”

Brock was just about to open his mouth when Clair materialized in thin air right in front of them. Ash remembered that he had gotten the Dragon Fang.

“Here’s the Dragon Fang Clair,” he said, showing it to her. “Can I please have my badge now?”

Clair sighed as she reached into her pocket for a square-shaped cushion with a black, pointy badge sitting in the middle. As Ash took it, she said, “I guess I really am forced to believe that you’re ready for the Elite Four. To get there, Surf to the east of New Bark Town and enter the cave you find. Climb up the first waterfall and down the second, and then just follow the trail across the lake and the field, and you’ll eventually come to a building, where you can be registered. After that you must find your way through Victory Road, and finally you will have come to the Elite Four. You can keep the Dragon Fang,” she added as she saw that Ash was still holding it out to her. “I’m sure your new Dratini could use it.”
And with that, she snapped her fingers once again, and Ash’s last view of the Dragon’s Den was the house from which he had just gotten the Fang before he found himself right outside the Pokemon Center, Clair nowhere in sight.

Paradise
May 4th, 2006, 06:23 PM
Chapter 2: Aerialidis

The second they landed in front of the Pokemon Center Brock’s Pokegear rang unexpectedly.

“Hey, it’s from Professor Elm!” exclaimed Brock, pressing a button. “Hello, Professor!”

“Hi Professor Elm,” chorused Ash and Misty.

“Hi kids,” said Professor Elm with a smile. “How are things going on the journey?”

“Professor, I just got my eighth Johto Gym badge!” cried Ash excitedly.

“Really? That’s great Ash! That means you’re only two months behind Gary! Are you planning on challenging the Elite Four?”

“You bet I am!” said Ash, punching the air.

“Good news, good news! But can you kids get down to New Bark Town right away?”

“Well, we were headed there anyway,” said Brock, “so sure. Why do you want us to come down?”

“I want it to be a surprise—you’ll find out as soon as you get here!”

“Okay, Professor, we’ll come right away,” said Brock. He pressed the same button and Professor Elm’s face disappeared from the display on the Pokegear, leaving blackness.

“I wonder what that was about,” said Misty. “He doesn’t usually call us does he?”

“You’re right, Misty,” said Brock.

“It seems like he wants to talk to us about something important. Maybe he discovered a new Pokemon!” said Ash. “Let’s get down there!”

“Ash, we still need to get your Lapras, remember?” said Misty.

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot!” cried Ash and he opened the door to the Pokemon Center and walked through, Misty and Brock behind him.

“Nurse Joy, I found it!” said Ash after he reached the desk. “I got my badge!”

He opened the right side of his vest to her, revealing four rows of two badges, having just fastened the Rising Badge on.

“That’s great!” said Nurse Joy. “Am I right to assume that all went well in the house, or did you have to go through the whirlpools to get the Dragon Fang?”

“No, I passed the test, and I got a Dratini too! Not even Clair passed it! I must be really good!”

“Well, I can’t say that. I would say that everybody but Clair passed the test.”

And upon looking around the waiting room, Ash did see that there were a number of Dratinis and Dragonairs being groomed by their trainers. “Oh,” he said, and he suddenly got an image of how stupid he must have looked saying it.

Nurse Joy must have noticed his embarrassment, because she then said, “Are you here to pick up your Lapras?”

“Yeah, I am,” said Ash.

“Well, you’ll be happy to hear that it made a full recovery! Here you go.” She handed a Pokeball to him from across the counter.

“Thanks, Nurse Joy,” said Ash, some of his usual gusto returning to his voice, and after she gave her usual bow, the three turned and walked out of the Pokemon Center into the beautiful weather outside.

“Brock, what’s the quickest way back to New Bark Town?” asked Misty.

“Our best bet would be to jump the rocks south of Blackthorn City, which would leave us a mile from New Bark Tow— ”

But at that precise moment, two voices being spoken through megaphones had filled the air along with a large hot balloon in the shape of a Meowth’s head.

“Prepare for trouble,” said a magenta-haired girl standing in the basket.

“And make it double,” said a boy with purple hair.

“To protect the world from devestation.”

“To unite all people within our nation.”

“To denounce the evils of truth and love.”
“To extend our reach to the stars above.”

“Jessie!” cried the girl, leaping out of the balloon and landing on the ground.”

“James!” cried the boy, landing a foot away from her.

“Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!”

“Surrender now, or prepare to fight!”

“Meowth, that’s right!” said a lifesize version of the hot air balloon, just now making its appearance.

“Say good-bye to your Pikachu!” cried Jessie sinisterly, and she pulled out a jar that she had somehow managed to fit into her back pocket and tossed it at Pikachu.

Almost like a Pokeball, the jar opened itself and landed upside down on Pikachu, who immediately fell off of Ash’s shoulder and onto the ground behind them. The jar toppled back upright and the cap screwed itself back on.

“Pikachu, use a Thunderbolt!” shouted Ash.

“Pikachhuuuu!” cried the Pokemon; for a moment the entire jar glowed with electric light, but nothing happened.

“That’s not going to work, twerp!” yelled Meowth triumphantly. “That jar’s electric proof!”

“Well, how would I know?” said Ash.

“Ash,” said Misty, picking up Pikachu’s jar, “couldn’t you just unscrew it—”

She gave it one good twist, and the top of the jar came off with a plop.

“Meowth!” yelled James in outrage.

“Heh, guess I didn’t think about that…” it said, looking up at its two partners.

“Pikachu, Thunderbolt!” shouted Ash.

Pikachu squeezed itself out of the jar and into the air, its electrical sacs sparking, and sent a jolt of electricity at Team Rocket. There was a huge explosion, and all three of them were sent blasting into the air, all crying, “We’re blasting off again!”

“Don’t those three ever quit?” said Misty, shaking her head.

“On the bright side, we can take their balloon!” said Ash.

“Pika!” said Pikachu delightedly.

It was an exciting change of pattern, looking down at the giant rock walls that they were originally planning to jump over instead of scaling them, gliding silently but quickly over the routes, and it wasn’t long at all before Ash could read the sign that said “New Bark Town- Where the Winds of New Beginnings Blow.”

It was not long at all until the trio had glided over the small town, landed smoothly, and were stepping through the door of Professor Elm’s laboratory, eyeing cautiously some of the silver complex machinery and their many dials and knobs that had not been there when they had been in the same building several months before.

They found Professor Elm typing so quickly that his fingers appeared blurred over the computer’s keyboard behind his desk, cluttered with papers. He looked quite a bit more stressed since they had last seen him: several creases had appeared on his forehead and his face had a crumpled look.

“Hi Professor Elm!” they all chorused brightly as they approached.

He gazed up at them, and an unforced smile appeared on his face.

“Hi, kids! So great to see you again! Had a good journey throughout Hoenn?”

“Yep,” said Ash at once, “and now I’m ready for the Johto League!”

“That’s great news, Ash! How about you, Misty, Brock?”

“I’ve won the Seaking Fishing Contest!” said Misty.

“And I’ve been training up the Pokemon that hatched from that egg, the Elekid,” said Brock.

“What an exciting journey for all three of you!”

“Have you found any new Pokemon since we’ve been gone?” asked Misty politely.

“I have been able to visit Hoenn on the opposite side of the world—they have a wide variety of new Pokemon and moves that seemed to have originated there that have somehow reached over here to Johto—but right now my main project is a strange disease that has seemed to affect only Flying Pokemon, or otherwise Pokemon that can fly. It caused much strife in the Pokelympic’s quadralathalon, during which there was death of both Pokemon and trainer when the Pokemon suddenly wasn’t able to fly any further…the other Pokemon couldn’t reach the summit of Mt. Grande, which was their destination. They thankfully were able to land safely, if not smoothly.”
Ash suddenly remembered his Charizard’s peculiar behavior. Could that have not been accidental, and instead in result of this disease?

“Professor,” said Brock as though he had read Ash’s mind, “earlier today we were flying on Ash’s Charizard, and it suddenly went into a dive. Ash thought it was just kidding around with us—but this couldn’t be the disease, could it? Is it contagious?”

“No, the disease doesn’t seem to be contagious; any Pokemon that flies seems to get it. This has never occurred before, so I’m not exactly sure how you could describe it—but back onto the subject of Ash’s Charizard, you shouldn’t be riding on it or any other flying Pokemon for a while, it very well could be dangerous, and for all we know it could have affected all of Johto by now. And what is more, Professor Oak and I are not meeting until a week from now, he seems to have made much headway on this disease, I believe he is developing a vaccine for it so Pokemon can become immune.”

“Isn’t Professor Oak in Goldenrod City right now?” asked Brock. “His radio show is today, isn’t it?”

“Yes, you are quite right,” replied Professor Elm. “In fact, you might be able to catch him if you teleport there, the show ends in a few minutes. I don’t know if he carries any of his vaccine around with him, but you could certainly try, and you three probably want to see him anyway. Which reminds me of why you’re here in the first place! I had a gift for you, Ash.”

He rolled out from behind his desk on his chair over to a silver machine that looked like a small vending machine. He punched seven keys on the right side of the machine with a well-practiced hand and the entire front automatically sprang up like a garage door. Inside the machine were rows and rows of different kinds of Pokeballs. Ash immediately recognized a few of the Pokeballs that Kurt from Azelea Town had made using Apricots. Professor Elm took out a jet black ball with four diagonal white stripes. Ash thought he could vaguely remember it, but somehow his brain associated it with a human-made Pokemon who made evil clones of a large number of other Pokemon, at which he decided that this distant memory was made-up and that he had simply seen it somewhere before.

“This is called the Masterball, Ash. It is the strongest Pokeball in the world; so strong that it—”

“Can catch any Pokemon without fail,” said Brock. “I read about it in The Pokemon Chronicle. They’re supposed to be really rare.”

“Yes, they indeed are. I managed to get this one from Professor Redwood from Orre, who has a small collection from his ancestor, whom is believed to have invented several kinds of Pokeballs. I have researched it thoroughly, but I believe that it will be of much more use to you than it would be to me.”

He held out the black Pokeball to Ash, who took it. “Thanks Professor Elm!”
“You’re quite welcome,” he said. “Well, it has been great seeing you three again, but I am sorry to say that I must be getting back to my work…however, if you would still like to visit Professor Oak in Goldenrod City I can lend you my Abra to teleport you there.”

“That would be great, Professor Elm, thanks,” said Misty.

Professor Elm detached a Pokeball from his belt and gave it to Brock. “I will see you three later!” he said dismissively and he turned back to his computer screen.

***

Seconds after they left the laboratory they had successfully teleported with Abra to Goldenrod city, the largest city in Johto, with its Department Store, Daycare Center, National Park, Train Station, Gym, Underground, and Radio Station, or in other words, “Goldenrod City- Where co-operation is bigger than the city itself.”

Goldenrod City was as busy as ever; having to avoid people rushing past them enlongated the process of reaching the radio station greatly. Soon enough, however, they were walking through the doors of the radio station, unsurprised to see Professor Oak in the lobby, signing out at the front desk. Ash remembered that it was just until very recently that he had not been allowed to go upstairs to the recording stations, but ever since he saved the entire region from Team Rocket’s radio program, he had been allowed to go anywhere in the skyscraper, and was even allowed to keep his Key Card.

Professor Oak finished signing his name on the sign-out sheet, turned around, caught one glimpse of Ash, Misty, and Brock, and made a beeline straight for them.

“Ash, Misty, Brock! So good to see you! What brings you here? Again, I might add?” he said.

“We wanted to see you, Professor,” said Misty. “Professor Elm suggested we come see you.”

“Well, how is your journey throughout Johto doing?” he inquired.

“Great, I already got my eighth badge! I’m officially qualified for the Johto League’s Silver Conference!”

“That’s great news, Ash!” exclaimed Professor Oak. “Maybe in a few months you’ll be fair match for Gary! So, what made you com see me?”

“Well actually Professor,” started Brock, “we were wondering if you had that vaccine for the new Flying Pokemon disease.”

“Yes, actually I do,” said Professor Oak. “But I cannot allow you to use it on your Pokemon yet. I have no idea what kind of side effects it will have—this disease, Aerialidis, hasn’t been around for centuries, any working vaccine that was made last time it was around has been lost. In any case, I will not be testing it out until I can make absolute sure that it will not harm any Pokemon.

“But I’m still glad you came—now I can tell you about a Pokemon competition that you might want to enter.”

Ash’s eyes seemed to light up. “A Pokemon competition? That would be great training for the Silver Conference!”

“And I wouldn’t mind training my Pokemon,” said Misty.

“Nor would I,” said Brock.

“Well you are certainly in luck—tryouts are being held today in Goldenrod’s national park! Gary has already entered and is in training. It would be a great experience for all three of you, and as you said, Ash, it would be an excellent training course for the Johto League. Best of all, it would give you a chance to travel, for those who make the cut will travel to Hoenn, where all of the competition will take place.”

“Wow, that would be awesome!” said Misty excitedly.

“Yeah, imagine all the new Pokemon we would find!” said Ash in equal awe.

“Well, if all four of you qualify for the competition, then I shall be seeing you in Hoenn!” said Professor Oak, smiling. “Now I better be off—and remember, do not risk anything with any of your Flying Pokemon. It could cost you more than an extra trip to a Pokemon Center.”

And with that, he walked out of the Radio Station.

Paradise
May 4th, 2006, 06:34 PM
Chapter 3: The Elimination Round

Before the trio left the Radio Station, they heard word over the broadcast that the competition’s tryouts would be held at eight o’ clock that evening. To their surprise, the results would come out the same night. The final eight would then board the S.S. Aqua at eleven-thirty to prepare for a midnight sail. They would be arriving in Lilycove City just as the sun started to rise. The broadcast then went on to explain that the tournament had three rounds (not counting the elimination round). At the end of each round, only half of the starting number of people would proceed to the next. The third would be a contest between the two finalists, at the end of which the winner would be decided. The first place winner would win an immense five hundred thousand PokeDollars and season line-pass tickets for Hoenn’s Battle Frontier. It was also stated that in between rounds, tours of certain parts of Hoenn would be taken. The radio show then died out to be replaced by an advertisement for breakfast cereal (Tropiganic Passion Cereal—made with actual fruit from a Tropius!).

“Is it that time already?” asked Ash in alarm.

After exiting the Radio Station, they had heard the clock tower chime seven times. It seemed impossible that he had earned his eighth Johto Gym Badge in this very same day.

“Well, I would assume so,” said Brock. “I was hoping that we would have time to get some supplies, since we might be going to Hoenn and all…”

“And what if we don’t?” asked Misty, raising her eyebrows. “If we do, we’re going to Lilycove City, and that has the biggest department store in the world!”

“How do you know that?” questioned Ash imploringly.

“When my sisters used to tour in Hoenn, they would always bring me back a present from there,” she responded, shrugging. “Not to mention they’re having they’re annual sale tomorrow.”

“How do you know that?” repeated Ash and Brock in unison.

Misty pointed back to the Radio Tower, which was now advertising the very sale.

“Well, that’s settled then,” said Brock unnecessarily. “Shall we go then?”

The last time Ash had traveled through Goldenrod City, it had been in broad daylight and had been very hot. It was a very different experience during the night: there were not so many people on the streets to avoid, it was cooler, and was somehow more relaxing to go in the dark, the only sources of light being the windows of the skyscrapers and the occasional street lamp. There were a number of other people around Ash and Misty’s age traveling towards the National Park as well. Ash immediately recognized, with a slight twinge in his stomach, the silhouette of Gary walking some distance ahead of him, and Whitney, the Gym Leader of Goldenrod City, whom Ash had beaten months before.

He made to call out to her, but Misty beat him to it.

“Hey, Whitney!”

Whitney turned at the source of the sound, and, spotting the trio, she made a beeline straight for them.

“Ash! Misty! Brock! So great to see all of you again!”

“It’s especially great to see you again!” said Brock.

Misty rolled her eyes.

“Are you here for the competition too?” asked Ash.

“I sure am! By this time of the season, everybody’s already gotten their Plain Badge, so I’m closing down the Gym until I get back. How many badges have you got now?” she added.

“I just got my eighth one today!” said Ash triumphantly.

“Wow! That’s great, Ash! You’re just going from one challenge to the next, aren’t you?”

“Well, it’ll give me plenty of training for the Silver Conference, and I’ll get to go to Hoenn! It’s almost like it was destined for me!”

They were now passing under what Ash assumed to be the registration tent. Trainers, some with Pokemon at their sides or on their shoulders, were filling out forms in front of one of the many registration desks. Ash, Misty, Brock, and Whitney found an empty one towards the opposite end of the tent. Looking beyond into the nighttime park, Ash saw many large, rectangular platforms twenty feet high.

Ash was the first to finish, if messily, his form. He stood impatiently while his three companions finished theirs. After this was done, the four made their way to a podium stationed outside the tent, but before the rectangular platforms. Behind this Ash recognized the man who had announced the Bug Catching Contest in the same park.

“Welcome, all,” came the announcer’s microphonically magnified voice, “to the thirty-third triennial Pokemon competition! For a hundred years it has been tradition for the tournament to start off here in Goldenrod City’s National Park! As Head of the Goldenrod Special Events Committee, it is my duty to inform you of the Elimination Round’s rules.

“As you might already know, there will be three rounds in this competition. All of these will be taking place in Hoenn. We will provide you with transportation to Hoenn by ship.”

Looking around, Ash saw that it seemed as though everybody present already knew this.

“However, out of all of you that showed up, only eight will make the final cut. We will be determining who goes and who doesn’t by means of the Elimination Round. If you will look beyond my podium—” (he gestured towards the many, raised platforms) “—you will see our very special battle fields. They might just look like rectangles of high walls now, but at either end, there is a platform that will raise you. The battle field is between the walls. Only the battlers and referee will be able to see the battle. These battle fields have been enhanced with the latest Pokemonic technology. They will have artificial weather effects and fields that will nevertheless have all the advantages—and disadvantages—of one that is genuine.

“And without further ado, let the Elimination Round BEGIN!”

Everyone looked around expectantly. When nothing happened, the announcer said, “Not again…I said, BEGIN!”

Suddenly, a grid of light appeared in thin air. In between the squares were circles of lights that took an exact representation of a human registrant. Ash found his face in the grid and saw that a line of light connected him to a boy whom he had never seen before. On this line was the number 11.

The announcer made to give an explanation, but it was unnecessary; people were running through the grid (each time moving the grid a little bit further away) towards their battle field. Ash made for the battle field marked 11, while Misty went to 7 and Brock went to 13. Recalling what the announcer said, Ash walked by one end of the field until he found a platform. He walked up on it and instantly felt it raise so he was elevated higher than the tall walls, so that he could look down into the battle field. There were six ball-shaped slots in the wall that his platform faced. He was putting his Pokeballs in when he heard a platform raise on the opposite side of the battle field. He braced himself, but there was no need: a kid no more than ten years of age was standing on tip-toes to look down into the grassy field. He put three Pokeballs into his slots.

Ash put five into his (Pikachu never wanting to be in its) and the circle that marked the center of the battle field broke in half and a man was raised up on a platform the same shape. “An opponent only has three Pokemon, so this will be a three-on-three match,” explained the referee, looking at another grid of light on the side of the battle field. “Either challenger may use up to three different Pokemon. Either opponent may switch their Pokemon out at any time. There will be no field change between rounds. The opponent who runs out of usable Pokemon is automatically knocked out of the Elimination Round. Begin!”

Ash studied his board. Below each of his Pokeball-shaped slots was a button. Assuming what each of them did, he selected the one under Bayleef’s Pokeball, thinking it could gain advantage from the green, grassy battle field. At once, the Pokeball glew with a white light, and a Bayleef-shaped source of light glowed in the field as well, to turn into the actual Pokemon. Over on the other side of the battle field, a Caterpie appeared.

“Bayleef, use a Poison Powder!” cried Ash.

With a flamboyant flip of the leaf atop its head, a collection of brown colored spores floated almost gently onto Caterpie. It’s small body curled up slightly as it passed.

“Caterpie, use a Tackle attack, now!”

It’s body curled up even more, and it rolled as fast as it could towards Bayleef, who took a small amount of damage.

“It’s okay, Bayleef, use Leech Seed!”

The smaller leaves around Bayleef’s neck flew upwards, and three walnut-sized seeds flew towards Caterpie. They instantly formed roots that bound Caterpie, squeezing it. A small ball of light jetted out of the seeds and floated back to the leaf on Bayleef’s head.

“Grr, Caterpie, return!”

Caterpie simply disappeared. Seconds later, a Pineco materialized.

“Bayleef, you come back too!” said Ash.

Bayleef’s Pokeball glew with light and Bayleef disappeared as well. Ash pressed the button under Charizard’s Pokeball, thinking its typing would help very much, to find it standing in the field a second later. Ash thought that this battle would be very easy.

“Charizard, use a Flamethrower!”

Charizard roared and let out a stream of fire. Pineco turned completely black as it received the direct hit and stayed that way even after the flames died out. Charizard roared again in triumph as the Pineco lost its balance and fell on its side, unconscious.

“Pineco is unable to battle!” said the referee, waving a green flag in Ash’s favor. “Charizard is the winner!”

On the grid of light keeping score, Pineco’s picture grew dim.

Pineco disappeared. Ash’s opponent pressed the button underneath his final Pokemon’s Pokeball, and a Squirtle appeared.

“Squirtle-use-water-gun-now!” he demanded very quickly.

A stream of water was released from Squirtle’s mouth.

“Charizard, use Heat Wave!”

Charizard roared once more. Immediately, a marquee of what looked like sunlight blasted forward from the point Charizard stood, burning the grass in its path. The stream of water turned into steam before it hit Charizard, and Squirtle was burned by the intense heat of the Heat Wave.

“Charizard, finish it off with a Wing Attack!”

Charizard flew into the air, dived downwards, its wingspan maxed out, and tackled the scorched Squirtle, causing it to hit the wall the opponent was standing over and faint.

“Squirtle is unable to battle! Charizard is the winner,” said the referee again. Over on the grid, Squirtle’s picture grew dark. Caterpie replaced Squirtle on the field, somewhat lamely.

“Charizard, use Flamethrower!”

And a minute later, Ash had rejoined Misty, Brock, and Whitney to find out that all three of them had won their first round matches.

“That wasn’t hard at all, was it?” said Ash.

“I have a feeling it will get harder,” said Brock wisely.

“What makes you say that?”

“Because with each passing round, we’re facing somebody who won the previous round. We’re going to be facing more skilled trainers every time.”

And with that proclamation, the original grid of light changed itself impressively, deleting the losing trainers and rearranging the lines, so that each victor was now facing a new trainer. Ash was due for number twelve this time.

His new opponent was a girl around his age. She held herself with a presence that made Ash think that Brock might be right about each opponent getting harder to beat. She too layed out three Pokeballs. Ash barely listened as the referee (who held a shocking resemblance to the original) as he told the two trainers that it would be a three-on-three match.

“Go, Starmie!” cried the girl. A purple starfish-like Pokemon appeared in the field, the starfish attached to its back spinning rapidly, giving it somewhat more of a first impression.

“Bayleef, I choose you!”

Bayleef appeared inside the rock-covered field.

“Bayleef, start off with a Razor Leaf!”

The leaf atop Bayleef’s head spun several times. With each spin, a razor-sharp leaf was sent sailing towards Starmie.

“Starmie, use Light Screen!”

The jewel on the center of Starmie flashed momentarily, and a light blue veil similar to Dragonair’s Safeguard rose. On contact with the shield, the leaves slowed down considerably, some of them merely bouncing off. The ones that made it through feebly hit Starmie and fell to the ground.

“Now, Starmie, use a Thunder Wave!”

A jolt of electricity was released from Starmie’s jewel and zigzagged through the air towards Bayleef.

Ash, prepared, said, “Bayleef, use Safeguard!”

A lightning-yellow veil sprang up, completely blocking the Thunder Wave.

“Bayleef, now use Leech Seed!”

“Starmie, use Rapid Spin!”

Both sides of Starmie started to spin in opposite directions, sending the walnut-sized Leech Seeds sailing away.

“Starmie, now use an Ice Beam!”

An ice-colored sphere formed in front of Starmie. A second later, a beam of ice shot out of the sphere.

“Bayleef, use a Sunny Day!”

The stadium, so far shrouded in the night’s darkness, was filled with dazzling light as a gigantic sun appeared in the sky, eclipsing the moon and stars. Ash thought he heard a cry of surprise from another battle field. It had abnormal effects on the beam of ice; it immediately melted. Bayleef was instead hit with a splash of water that didn’t phase it at all.

“Now, Bayleef, use a Solar Beam!”

“Starmie, quick, use Camoflauge!”

Starmie immediately turned into the color of the sun that Bayleef had just summoned. The Solar Beam didn’t have any visible effect. Ash was slightly taken aback; it seemed as though Starmie had a counter for every one of his strategies. He would have to think of something else, something that Starmie couldn’t block…but what could he do? Starmie was able to halve the damage from any direct hit move, could blow away any indirect damage moves, could become immune to any status ailments, and could change its type to lessen the effectiveness of several moves.

And the answer to all of these problems came to Ash in one breath.

“Good job, Bayleef!” called Ash, pressing the button under Bayleef’s Pokeball. “Pikachu, go!”

Pikachu leaped off Ash’s shoulder and landed onto a boulder in the battle field. The starfish on Starmie’s back spun more rapidly still, which looked very intimidating seeing as Starmie was still the color of the sun, making its impression upon Pikachu. Pikachu’s eyes narrowed but it did not move back.

“Pikachu, let’s finish this off quickly, use Volt Tackle!”

“Starmie, use another Light Screen!”

“Pikachu, use Brick Break!”

And as Pikachu flew through the air with electricity sparking all around its body, it held out its tiny fist and shattered the blue wall that had risen around Starmie, causing it to receive the full blow of the Volt Tackle. Starmie hit a large boulder and crumpled, its jewel flashing feebly.

“Starmie is unable to battle. Pikachu is the winner!”

“Starmie, you did a great job, return!” said the girl as Starmie vanished. “Go, Dugtrio!”

Ash knew that Dugtrio would have an advantage over Pikachu. He made to touch the sixth button, the one under the slot where Pikachu’s Pokeball would have gone, but found that it was already pressed in, so that he could not press it. He addressed the referee.

“How am I supposed to return Pikachu?”

But it was Ash’s opponent who answered. “You can’t return it. Dugtrio’s Arena Trap keeps it in, no matter what. Your Pikachu’s stuck! Dugtrio, use Earthquake, now!”

A huge crack appeared in the rocky field from the point in the ground in which Dugtrio was. The crack spread further in the direction of Pikachu, unbalancing several boulders and sending them crashing to the ground.

“Pikachu, quick, jump!”

Pikachu leaped onto a rock several feet to the left of where the Earthquake was headed. Ash felt its force cause the wall of the field to shake.

“Pikachu, use Hidden Power!”

Many spheres surrounded Pikachu. A leaf was engraved in the center of each of them. As if it was conducting them, Pikachu raised its arms, causing the spheres to fly towards Dugtrio.

“Dugtrio, use Dig!”

Dugtrio dove into the ground soundlessly. Pikachu looked around hopelessly, its sense of foreboding rapidly increasing.

“Come up, Dugtrio!” cried the girl.

And to Ash’s horror, the boulder that Pikachu stood on split in half and Pikachu was sent flying into the air.

“Dugtrio, Earthquake!”

It was over in a matter of seconds. Pikachu landed directly on the second Earthquake’s path and got directly hit.

“Lapras, go!” cried Ash.

The huge turtle-like Pokemon looked out of place on the rocks. It would not be able to move very quickly unless it was in water.

“Lapras, start things off with a Rain Dance!”

The sun Bayleef had summoned disappeared. The moon and stars were visible again for a split second before they were again hidden by a mass formation of gray clouds. Rain started to pour out of them. Dugtrio shrunk into the ground a little as it got splattered with water.

“Lapras, use Surf!”

A wave rose out of the ground and rose to the level of the clouds and crashed all around the field. Coupled with the powers of Rain Dance, the entire field was covered in water so deep that Larpas could float on it. It let out a beautiful cry of triumph as it splashed around in the water.

“Dugtrio is unable to battle. Lapras is the winner!”

“Great job, Dugtrio,” said the girl as a flash of light from underwater signaled its return to its Pokeball. “Gyarados, it’s up to you. Go!”

A huge, blue sea serpent was released into the water. As it materialized, a flash of lightning struck from one of the Rain Dance clouds, making it look very sinister. Ash suddenly wondered where the referee was and immediately spotted him treading water on the sidelines with a underwater breathing device, the score-keeping grid of light floating up and down with the current.

“Lapras, same strategy as this morning. Use Sing!”

It started to sing beautifully, rendering the same effect on Gyarados as it did with Kingdra: it instantly dozed off and slumped onto the surface, water pouring into its always-open mouth.

“Now use Perish Song!”

Again, the song started off very pretty, but steadily grew more unpleasant until Ash had to cover his ears.

Ash waited for his opponent to make a move, but it didn’t come. “I accept defeat,” she said with dignity. She pressed the button under Gyarados’s Pokeball and it vanished, still snoring peacefully. “If a loss is inevitable, then I will not risk my Pokemon fainting. Thank you for the battle; you played well.”

Ash was slightly surprised but returned the compliment.

“A player has forfeited,” said the referee, taking the breathing device out of his mouth, the Rain Dance having cleared up. “Ash is the winner!”

The girl gave a strained smile and her platform lowered to the ground as Ash’s did the same. He found Misty, Brock, and Whitney standing outside the stadium.

“Did you guys win too?” he asked at once to the group at large.

“Yeah we did,” said Brock. “It was harder though, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah,” agreed Ash; it had indeed been a much more difficult battle to fight.

“Welcome, trainers,” said the amplified announcer’s voice behind them, “to the Elimination Finals! The Elimination Round began with over sixty trainers, and now only sixteen of you are left. Each of you have one more battle to fight in this round. The victors of these battles will then go on to fight in the tournament in Hoenn; the rest of you, I’m sorry to say, will not. The Elimination Finals will not be like your first two battles: they will happen one at a time, all in stadium number one. Their will be no weather effects in the battle field; there will be no automatic advantages or disadvantages. It has taken skill, dedication, and perseverance to get where you are now; it will only take you that much more to qualify for this tournament.”

The grid of light moved back to its orginal position and deleted several losing trainers. It rearranged itself so each trainer had a line connecting it to another trainer. It was no longer a grid, it was a chart explaining the chronological order of the battles. Ash saw that he would be in the last battle against a boy whom he thought he had seen somewhere before. Fortunately, he saw, Misty, Brock, and Whitney would not have to battle between themselves. Gary would be in the first battle. The mood seemed to stiffen within the small crowd of trainers. The grid stopped rearranging itself.

“And without further ado…let the Elimination Finals begin!”