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[Pokémon] The Stairway to Heaven

  • That was a fun training session for Maestro there. That Farfetch'd seems like he has experienced many battles man. I wonder what Eloy will call him.

    His name is actually there if you hover over his sprite at the bottom. I'm not planning a big name reveal.
  • Mother Like Mine
    "Are you paying attention?"

    "Huh? Sorry." Eloy looked down to his Pokegear again to see his mother's face looking up at him sternly. His attention had been caught by his Pokemon getting into an impromptu training lesson, Maestro and Deacon being drilled heavily by Eloy's new Farfetch'd - now christened Ronin. "Sorry, my new Farfetch'd thinks he's a drill sergeant and it caught my attention."

    His mother raised an eyebrow at that and Eloy instantly regretted his choice in words. He knew full well that she was going to jump to the wrong conclusion. Eileen Chance was a smart woman and very nimble of the mind, but sometimes a little too nimble.

    "You're not having trouble are you? I don't want you biting off more than you can chew."

    "You sound almost as much of a worrywort as Dad when you put it like that," Eloy commented, "I'm fine, doing well really. Honestly, Ronin's kind of an expert battler so having the little guy taking on a tutoring role comes in handy sometimes. I'm not about to slack off and let him do all my work of course, but it's nice to know I have such a talented Pokemon to help me out."

    Eileen's expression softened slightly at that, but she waited several minutes before she spoke again, just in case she was able to catch Eloy out in a lie. He'd gotten used to as much, he wasn't the sort to tell fibs often but somehow she always had an inkling when he was hiding something. He figured he'd given off some sort of hint when his mind had drifted to the Stoutland and its pack - he'd told her he'd met Nora, she didn't need all the details.

    "Well, I'm pleased to hear that," Eloy's mother said after a while, still not sounding fully convinced that everything was going as smoothly as Eloy had made out. "Deacon's keeping up well? I'm still not sure that using the household pet as your starter was the best idea."

    "Deacon's fine," Eloy sighed, not really wanting to have that debate again. "He's the reason I won my first badge and he played a big part in earning me my second too. I'm not sure he's as tough as Ronin yet, but he's taken to the battling lifestyle fine. Seems to like the exercise."

    This at the least, Eloy's unfortunately perceptive parent seemed to trust as the truth. For the time being, she dropped her interrogation and didn't voice any more concerns. Her clueiness was a double-edge sword, but the positive side was that she knew her son well and knew he liked his independence.

    Still, to make sure her mind was at ease, he turned the PokeGear around so she could get a glimpse of the training as it occured. She got quite the view too, as a particularly interesting turn of events occured right at that moment.

    Deacon appeared to lunge forward, Ronin's swiping at the Nidoran with his leek sword to counter, but the original lunge was a feint. Deacon pulled back before committing to the attack and the minute that there was an opening in Ronin's guard he lunged in with a Poison Sting.

    Ronin's whirled on the spot, wielding the leek more like a bat this time, The bird narrowly countered the Poison Sting, deflecting it and flinging Deacon away… right towards Maestro. The Kricketune jumped and scuttled back, raising his blades in defence as Deacon turned his momentum into a targeted Peck, just barely fending the Nidoran off.

    "See?" Eloy enquired, turning the device back around.

    "Well, your Kricketune is a bit timid, but I have to admit your team is looking pretty good. Keep up the good work you must be doing."

    "Thanks, that's the plan!" Eloy grinned.

    "Which reminds me," his mum said, "Before you got sidetracked I was trying to ask you something. Are you planning on entering that tournament in Techniti? You're on schedule to be there at the right time."

    "I am actually," Eloy replied, "You need at least three Pokemon to enter and I have enough. I figured I might as well try my luck."

    "I'll be watching then. They'll be broadcasting it again this year, I was reminded when I saw an ad for it. We watched it together last year, right?"

    They had indeed, Eloy remembered the day fondly since neither of his parents had ever been overly interested in battling. It was one of the rare times he'd gotten both of them to watch such an event with him. In thinking about it, it was kind of surreal to think that now they'd be watching him participate.

    "That's the one," Eloy said, smiling to himself. "It's exciting to think I'll actually be able to compete. It's a good practice run for eventually competing in the league too."

    "I'll bet," came the reply. "Especially since there's the special prize this year."

    "Special prize?" Eloy questioned.

    "That Nora lady you mentioned, the one in the Elite Four, she's apparently agreed to do an exhibition battle against the winner."

    Eloy nearly dropped the Pokegear when he heard that. Nora had mentioned that she was going to be at the tournament and had encouraged both he and Lauren to participate, but she had not revealed that particular bit of information.

    "I think I should go and get involved in this impromptu practice session," Eloy said, stunned. His mother chuckled and wished him well, hanging up as he set to work.

    Team Eloy
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven


  • Nice to see Eloy interacting with one of his parents there. His mother seems to be the typical mother worried over their child. Maybe we'll get to know her more down the road?

    So next part comes a tournament, it seems. Looking forward to that!
  • Interlude Six
    "Leonidas, Flame Burst!"

    Niall watched on as his Growlithe barked aggressively, rearing back on his hind legs before crashing down to all fours and spitting a blazing fireball from his maw. The flame sizzled and steamed as it streaked through the indoor rainstorm towards their opponent, a supremely calm Toxicroak.

    "Real, Poison Jab!" Daphne commanded confidently from where she stood opposite Niall on the rusty, industrial battlefield. The Toxicroak made not a sound as it counter-attacked, the elongated red claw on its hand glowed a toxic purple as it struck forward, blasting the fireball apart in a cloud of steam and sparks with the force of the attack.

    Niall grimaced, his frustration growing. The earlier Rain Dance wasn't doing anything to enhance the power of Real's attacks - it was Bulk Up that had done that. No, it was doing something even more frustrating. Dramatically reducing the power of Leonidas' Fire attacks while recovering the Toxicroak's lost health. Normally Dry Skin would be a hindrance against a Fire type but Daphne had that covered.

    "As expected of a Gym Leader I suppose," Niall grunted, "I thought I had this when I got through your first two Pokemon so easily but this is getting tricky now."

    "Well," Daphne replied, "I wouldn't be doing my job if it went as easy as you were expecting, would I?"

    "I guess not." Niall clenched his fists, eyeing the Gym Leader and her seemingly impervious Toxicroak. Even when he'd been winning earlier she had been the vision of calmness and now that she was in the lead she looked no different. Her angular features not showing a single crease and her heavy-lidded eyes attentive but not frantic at all. It had been off-putting when he was in the lead, it was infuriating when he wasn't. She didn't seem to be even remotely perturbed by the lead he had. Had she been toying with him beforehand?

    "Not going to attack? I guess I will then," she suddenly spoke up, shaking Niall from his ruminations. "Real, Stone Edge!"

    The Toxicroak stamped his foot down on the metallic surface of the battlefield as jagged stoned exploded out of it, sending tinny shrapnel flying off as each stalactite emerged. Second by second, the Stone Edge was closing in on Niall's Growlithe.

    "Crap, dodge it!" Niall shouted, gritting his teeth as Leonidas went into action.

    The Fire type dashed to the side and then back again in a zig zag as more and more of the monoliths shot up through the floor. The seconds felt far longer as the onslaught went on, with the Growlithe narrowly avoiding stone after a stone until suddenly the attack came to an end.
    Niall let out his breath, it would have been over if he'd been hit there.

    "Don't relax yet, Brick Break!"

    Niall looked around, suddenly realising he'd been so focused on his Growlithe's dodges that he'd lost track of Real. His eyes swept the battlefield, his vision partially obscured by the still-present rocks that now dotted it. Then, he caught a flicker of motion and his gaze shot upwards.

    Real came flying off of one of the stones, springboarding off of its side. The Toxicroak struck out with a heavy chop, catching Leonidas off-guard as the attack collided with his upper body. The Growlithe crumpled with a yelp of surprise and didn't get back up.

    "The challenger's Growlithe has been defeated. That leaves both Daphne and the challenger on their third and final Pokemon," a computer generated voice.

    Niall returned his fallen Pokemon, feeling his irritation flare. He bore the Growlithe no ill-will for his loss, but he did not enjoy the feeling of defeat and from where he stood he could feel the jaws of that beast snipping at his heels.

    I am not going to lose here.

    "Saladin, let's go!" He tossed his final ball and from it exploded the familiar white glow, the light quickly taking the shape of a sleek blue dragon with a red underside, finned arms ending in a single razor sharp claw and a large dorsal fin protruding from its back.

    "A Gabite then, smart choice," Daphne acknowledged. Despite her praise, her Toxicroak remained still as slate, completely unperturbed by its supposed disadvantage. If anything, it almost looked bored.

    Saladin gave a throaty roar, Real staring fixedly at the Dragon and Ground type unperturbed. Niall resolved to shake up the unflappable Toxicroak.

    "Dual Chop!" Niall growled as his ace leapt into action.

    Saladin's arms glowed a powerful blue as he rushed forward at Real. The Toxicroak didn't so much as flinch, awaiting instructions from his trainer.

    "Poison Jab to counter the first, take the second!" Daphne instructed, surprising Niall with the unusual command.

    Saladin swiped sidewards in a backhand, the blue glow of his chop being met halfway by the venomous purple of Real's Poison Jab. The two combatant struggled against each other for a moment, neither getting any headway when, suddenly, Saladin struck a second time with his other hand, chopping down against Real's head.

    The Toxicroak's knees flexed under the strength of the attack, his head being forced down as he braced against the impact, not letting himself be downed. Through pure physical strength, the Toxicroak managed to hold firm against the attack.

    "Revenge!" Daphne called and suddenly it was clear what she why she'd let the second half of the Dual Chop make contact.

    Real's clenched fist glowed with a furious orange, almost like flame. Then, he swung upwards in an uppercut his powerful attack colliding with the underside of Saladin's jaw. There was no resistance there, Saladin didn't even manage to make a sound of surprise as the wind was knocked from his breath and he was sent flying in an upward arc.

    The Gabite became a projectile as he slammed through one of the stone pillars, sending fragments hailing to the ground along with the persistent rain that was now healing up some of the damage done by Saladin's earlier attack.

    Niall grit his teeth ever tighter as Saladin slammed back down into the ground in a shower of debris and tumbled along the battlefield. His Pokemon lay still for a moment, then shakily climbed back to his feet as a low gutteral grumble rose up from his chest. As was often the case, Pokemon and trainer were of a like mind there.

    "Sand Tomb!" Niall instructed.

    Saladin hisses as sand particles and shrapnel stirred up around the battlefield and swirled up, condensing around Real and biting into his skin. More importantly though, the attack obscured the Toxicroak's vision.

    "Dragon Claw!"

    "Get ready!" Daphne commanded in response.

    Saladin darted forward as a churning green aura overtook his claws, extending outward into a shimmering blade over each. The Gabite reached Real, suddenly ducking low and swiping up through the Sand Tomb to take advantage of the Toxicroak's obscured vision.

    Real shot out of the cloud of sand as his rain finally came to an abrupt halt, slamming into one of his own stone pillars. Niall wasn't going to leave it there without capitalising though.

    "Iron Head!"

    A silver, metallic glow now formed over the dome of Saladin's head and he rushed at Real as the Toxicroak tried to get his bearings. As the distance closed, Saladin doe forward, putting his full body into the headbutt. Before Real could react, the Iron Head made contact.

    The remnant of the Stone Edge broke apart and came tumbling down as Real was pushed through the structure and sent tumbling along the ground. The Toxicroak, jabbed his elongated finger-claws into the metal ground, skidding to a halt in a spray of sparks. For the first time, there was a slight shift in the Toxicroak's expression. Almost an acknowledgement that the Gabite was a worthy opponent.

    Niall felt his confidence starting to flow back in like warmth in the middle of a freezing cold. It was time to press the attack.

    "Shadow Claw, Saladin! Let's finish this."

    Saladin growled his agreement as he ran forward through the pile of rubble that used to be a giant stone pillar. Similarly to the Dragon Claw earlier, a shadow aura flowed up his claw and extended into the shape of a blade. He leapt up, adding momentum to the attack and slashed down.

    "Not this time, Sucker Punch," Daphne retaliated, every bit as unshaken as before.

    Saladin closed in, but suddenly in a dizzying blur, Real had twisted to the side and swung a haymaker into the side of Saladin's head. Yet another stalactite was blasted apart as Saladin careened along the ground and blew through its base, littering the arena with more rubble still.

    Much as Real had done, the Gabite slowed himself to a sparky halt using his claws against the iron battlefield to break his momentum. The two opposing Pokemon locked yes, ready to dive back into the fray.

    "Dual Chop!" Niall ordered.

    "Brick Break!" Daphne countered.

    With two glowing blue claws, Saladin charged into battle as Real awaited him, a faint white glow emanating from one of his own claws. The two combatants clashed as Saladin struck out with his first strike, the attack being met by Real's Brick Break, once again not making any ground.

    Saladin's other claw came down like a swing of a greatsword, striking Real hard. The Toxicroak didn't move, taking the hit on his head and straining against it with all his might, fighting to remain upright. As he did so, a faint smirk seemed to flicker across Real's face.

    Niall realised what was about to happen too late, just opening his mouth to order a retreat when he was cut off by a clear and composed instruction from across the battlefield.

    "Real, use Revenge," Daphne said, a slight smirk forming on her own features much like on Real.

    A blazing orange uppercut slammed into the underside of Saladin's jaw and the Gabite was catapulted up and across the room, hurtling across the battlefield until he slammed into the side wall with an audible, echoing clang.

    Saladin slid down the wall, sagging onto his feet. Niall felt his heart in his throat as now it was Real's turn to charge. Daphne gave the order and suddenly the Toxicroak was bearing down on Saladin with a savage Poison Jab.

    "Quick, Dragon Claw!" Niall yelled, panicked by the sudden hard offensive.

    Real quickly reached Saladin, his purple-glowing claw shooting forwards like a bullet as Saladin swung the shimmering green blade of his Dragon Claw up in a loose, heavy arc. Time almost seemed to stand still for Niall in the next moment.

    The Poison Jab struck, Saladin crying out from the brutal attack. Then, Saladin's Dragon Claw followed through and Real was smashed off his feet, by the surprising strength of the lazy-looking swipe. Real bounced and tumbled along the ground, coming to a halt near his trainers feet even as Saladin collapsed on the spot. Neither got up.

    "Both Pokemon cannot continue, the match is a draw." The referee's voice chimed in over the intercom once more. The battle was over and Niall had no idea what was to happen next or how he felt about it.

    He raised Saladin's ball and recalled his fallen Gabite.

    "Good effort," he said, unable to keep a hint of bitterness out of his tone. They'd come close, but failed to secure the win.

    "Now then," Daphne's voice came across to him. She had returned Real and was now crossing the battle-scarred floor to where he was standing. "This is quite an interesting situation we have here," she said.

    Niall looked at her, unsure of what to expect but having at least a faint idea of where she was going.

    "As I'm sure you know, in the event of a tie, it is entirely up to me as the leader whether or not you leave here with the Industry Badge or not. Being frank with you, I generally don't give out my badge for a tie."

    Niall felt his heart sink at that. He did not like the idea of having to go up against Daphne a second time after the gruelling last bout of the battle he'd just had.

    "Under some rare circumstances though, I do feel like it's appropriate," the Gym Leader continued, "This is one of those occasions, luckily for you. You displayed good battle skills overall and managed to fight to a draw with, honestly, one of my stronger Pokemon. I wouldn't say this was a test you passed with flying colours, but I think you did well enough to call it a pass. So I'm going to present you with this."

    Daphne raised her open palm, revealing the shape of the Techniti Gym's badge; an orange gear with a purple outline and a spherical purple gem in the centre.

    "Thank you," Niall said, taking the badge as relief washed over him. At the very least, he wasn't going to have to repeat the challenge. "Your Toxicroak is incredible you know. Saladin's ability is Rough Skin, he never even showed a sign of feeling it."

    "Real's quite the tough stoic, you did a good job fighting him to a draw," Daphne responded.

    Niall thanked Daphne again and exited the arena room, walking down a narrow hallway and into a simple, white-tiled lobby with a grey, wooden reception desk. He collected his so-called winnings from the receptionist and turned to exit the building, unable to shake the empty bitterness stabbing at his gut.

    As he started forward to make his way out the building, the glass of the automatic door parted as a boy about his own age, with alarmingly pink hair, stepped into the building.

  • Inner City Blues
    Eloy walked on in awe at what he saw around him. Erythie had been breathtaking, bigger than anywhere he had been before, but Techniti City was on a whole other level. Erythie had been enormous but there was plenty of open space. This was nothing like that. Everywhere Eloy looked was occupied by a person, an object or a place. Towering buildings rose up as far as the eye could see, obscuring the horizon and casting shadows on the people below, each individual insignificant against the sheer scope of the monstrous, grey superorganism that was the city.

    For a farm boy from Citri Town, being in the middle of a suffocating throng of people in the sprawling urban metropolis was equal parts exhilarating, humbling and nerve-wracking. The densely packed pathways, busy roads and labyrinths of side streets and alleyways were overwhelming, as difficult to comprehend to Eloy's mind as the scale of the stars.

    "Ni!" An excited screech sounded out, unusually faint against the clamour of the crowded cityscape.

    Eloy looked around, suddenly frantic. He couldn't see Deacon anywhere, the Nidoran was totally obscured by the ever-moving masses.

    "Deacon?!" Eloy called out, a sudden sense of urgency rising up, verging on panic. The Nidoran had been running excitedly around his feet a moment prior, he'd lost track of his partner when his thoughts had been engulfed by the endless Techniti landscape.


    A sudden thump against his calf gave Eloy a jolt, his heart already in his throat at the thought of separation from Deacon. He looked down to find the Poison type looking up at him, happily oblivious to the trauma he had just inflicted. Deacon exclaimed again, his pricked up ears twitching up and down with his eagerness.

    "And where did you disappear to, huh?" Eloy said with a sigh, not entirely sure if he wanted to hug his Pokemon or strangle it more.

    "Ni?" Deacon queried, looking up at his trainer innocently, as if asking what he was so worried about.

    Eloy sighed again. He was rapidly getting a sense of what Lauren had been talking about when it came to the practicalities of moving about with your team free to roam. It was hard enough to move through the city with just Deacon running amok, he couldn't imagine what it would be like to attempt it with all three of his Pokemon out of their balls. Ronin was too independent not to keep an eye on, Deacon too energetic and Maestro's timidity could pose a whole different suite of problems.

    "Sorry buddy, but if we want to actually get to the gym today then you're going to need to go back in your ball for now," Eloy said. He pulled out the ball and drew Deacon within through the familiar red beam before the Nidoran could protest. "I'll make it up to the three of you somehow later, but there's just no way that I'm going to get anywhere while I worry about you."

    With a deep breath, Eloy proceeded to push deeper into the city. From the information he had read online, it was located in a fairly central location. He pulled out his Pokegear and selected the map app, bringing up the familiar wide crescent shape of the Sigia Region and the blinking light indicating his location in Techniti. He zoomed in until he was looking at a city map instead.

    "Hmm," he mused. He was definitely heading in the right direction, the expansive port was behind him to the east and he was slowly making his way west. He selected the directions options and realised to his astoundment that travelling to the gym on foot was absolutely not going to be an option if he planned to actually make it before nightfall. "This place really is obscenely large."

    Resigned to his first ever experience with public transport, Eloy made his way towards the nearest underground entrance according to his map's directions. A few minutes later, he was descending a ramp through a grimy concrete tunnel into the subway station and walking up to a rotating barrier, joining the back of a blessedly small queue.

    He reached the barrier quickly enough, suddenly smacked with the realisation that he was going to have to pay for access. He flashed his card across a scanner, and five hundred Poke later he had gained access to the subway station.

    The station itself didn't look too much different than the access stairway. It was essentially a long, concrete tunnel, lit by painfully bright, rectangular panels fitted above. People swarmed the platform, waiting for the next train on either side of a pair of tracks - one for each direction. Most of the surfaces were dirty or smeared with graffiti tags. One wall broke the mould, instead covered in a wide, beautiful mural depicting the Techniti Harbour at sunset, a beautiful vision of oranges and pinks made more stunning by its contrast to the surroundings. It was, much like everything in the city so far, quite surreal.

    Entrancing as the artwork was, Eloy nearly missed the sudden faint sound of the train approaching. It wasn't until the noise was echoing loudly through the subway that Eloy was alerted to its presence. Turning around to see the long, slender form of the train screeching to a halt and its doors sliding open smoothly.

    The seats were already filled by the time Eloy made it through the doors, so he found himself crammed between a bunch of strangers in the tightly enclosed space. A mechanical voice informed the passengers that the doors were to close. Then, as the portals shut, announced the next station.

    Eloy had never known himself to be claustrophobic, but the soft hiss of the doors shutting him into the compression of the train's interior filled him with a surprising sense of uneasiness. His palms began to sweat slightly and he felt his stomach twist. He had been within the confines of Techniti City for only a little more than an hour but it was already becoming abundantly clear that he was not built for big city life. This was a place that was going to take a lot of getting used to.

    As such, it was a tidal wave of relief when Eloy was able to escape the subway and hurriedly scramble back up to the surface where he could, at the very least, breathe fresh air. Directly across from him there, finally, stood the Techniti Gym.

    Each gym seemed to have a different character, representative of where they were situated. The Rosaste Gym was a giant greenhouse in the middle of a park and Erythie's was a work of modern art inside and out. The Techniti Gym was one of a pair, the shorter of two towering structures. The building was famous: a skyscraper full of different arenas, built by the owner of its twin several years before she earned the right to become its leader.

    Eloy steeled himself and then made a B-line for the building. The journey through the city to get to the towers had been more gruelling than almost everything prior, he was ready for that battle.

    Eloy passed through a pair of automatic glass doors into a surprisingly sparse lobby. There were a handful of faux-leather chairs around the edges of the white-tiled room but otherwise it was only occupied by a single grey, wooden desk.

    Eloy walked forward, passing a handsome young man with dark skin and close-cropped hair as he made his way towards the desk. Suddenly, a smooth voice broke the silence of the room behind him. Eloy turned to see that same person standing there, a slight grimace on his face.

    "Are you planning to challenge the gym?" he asked.

    "Uh, yeah," Eloy replied, wondering if the grumpy look on the speaker's face was because of a recent loss.

    "Don't bother," he said, "I managed to snag the last slot for the day. Didn't you know this gym is by appointment only?"

    "Wait, what?!" Eloy barked, unable to believe that he'd gone through the hell of getting to the gym only to find out it was the one gym in Sigia that refused to take walk-ins.

    "Really?" The other trainer asked incredulously. "They call Daphne the busiest gym leader alive for a reason. She's got the bigass company of hers to run next door and is involved in organising for the tournament. In fact, the gym is closed for official challenges until after the tournament. Access to practice arenas only. You should do your research before trying to take on a gym like this one."
    "I did, I must have just missed that," Eloy snipped, rubbed the wrong way by the grouchy know-it-all and irritable from the pointless effort he'd made to get there.


    "Urgh," Eloy grumbled to himself.

    "Well if you're that desperate to battle," the other trainer said, "You could always enter the tournament."

    "I already did that at the Pokemon Centre," Eloy sighed.

    "Huh? Well good luck with that." With that, the irritating trainer turned and headed back out the door without another word.

    I hope he runs into Layla. Try that attitude then, buddy.

    Author's note: So, a head's up that for the Techniti City arc of the story, I will be breaking my usual pattern of four chapters and then an interlude. This is for two reasons. Firstly, because I want to keep it all together and, with the tournament in the midst of it, it will definitely take up more than four chapters. Secondly, because an interlude isn't going to be particularly relevant during this segment as several chapters during the tournament arc will be written from the perspectives of the other four major characters. Consider this your warning about a pretty dramatic change of place being incoming for the next several chapters until I return to the norm following that. I'll leave you with this little bit of trivia: all of the towns and cities in Sigia are named after minerals. Maybe you can pick up on some of them.

    Team Eloy
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven
  • We Shall Assemble
    Eloy squeezed through the rapidly expanding crowd of people outside of the stadium, an impressive modern day amphitheatre by the coast. It was a warm day, made warmer by the close proximity of thousands of people waiting for the tournament to begin.

    He sighed with relief as he finally spotted what - or rather who - he was looking for. In one of the few unoccupied spaces off to the side of the throng of expectant spectators was Lauren, her Pokegear pressed close to her face as she talked into it. To Eloy's surprise, she looked uncharacteristically agitated. He waved as he approached, unable to stop himself from trying to catch some of the conversation.

    "Yes, I'm just waiting for a friend and then we're going in to sign in. Don't worry, I'm not about to dip out now that I'm here and registered for it," she said as she looked up and waved back at Eloy. "Yeah, I know you'll be watching, thanks. Love you too."

    She ended the call and let out a deep breath, letting the tension drop from her neck and shoulders. She stayed in a half-slump for a while before straightening up slightly and giving Eloy a faint smile.

    "My dad," she gave in explanation to Eloy's questioning expression.

    "Everything alright?" he asked, eliciting a slight chuckle from the girl.

    "Yeah, I'm fine. He was just concerned that I might end up bailing after the registration fee since I wasn't that set on competing. I decided to go for it though and I'm going to put my fullest effort in. He should know me better, you know?"

    "Honestly, no," Eloy admitted, "I have the opposite problem with my parents, they know me too well sometimes. My mum in particular. I swear, either she's a demon or she was a great detective in a past life."

    "Sounds problematic," Lauren grinned.

    "Frequently, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate the interest."

    "Yeah," Lauren replied, her expression shifting slightly in a way that Eloy couldn't quite identify. "Shall we then?"

    The two trainers moved around the arena and found themselves at an open set of doors marked with a sign proclaiming it the staff and competitor entrance. A beefy bouncer and his equally beefy Machop partner guarded the entrance. Eloy and Lauren flashed their registration notices, passing by without a hindrance as they entered a small room.

    The walls were a faded grey colour, the thinly carpeted floor a deep but also fading purple. At the back of the rear of the room a narrow hallway opened up, extending both directions and dotted with hefty white doors. In the centre of the room a simple temporary desk had been set up, manned by a homely woman with frizzy grey hair. She smiled pleasantly at Eloy and Lauren as the approached, but her eyes were sunken and tired. The event must have been keeping her busy.

    "Good morning," Eloy offered.

    "I appreciate the effort," the woman chortled before slipping into a yawn. "Alright, here's how this is going to work kids. The first round is divided into four battle royales. You draw lots to determine which one you're in, which we'll do once I'm done explaining. You only get one Pokemon for this stage and you have to have it selected and out of its ball before I send you through to the trainer's area - unless you're planning on being a pain and entering with an Onix or something similarly ridiculous. Unfortunately, under those circumstances, I have to take your other Pokeballs until the next round."

    The woman indicated a small, clear plastic receptacle next to the desk. A handful of Pokeballs, sticky-labelled with competitor names was resting in the base of the bin.

    "No Onix or similar here," Eloy commented, looking to Lauren.

    "None here either," she replied quickly.

    "Excellent, less work for me then," the woman said, launching back into her explanation. "The top two from each royale move on to the tourney rounds. Any specific rules for those will be mentioned before you go on to them. For the royales, once your Pokemon faints, you are to return it and step away from the battlefield. From there you head back down this corridor and can either go back to the trainer's room to socialise and watch the rest on the TVs there, or you can head up into the stands if you've purchased a ticket. Any questions?"

    "Nope, I'm set," Eloy answered, "I used to watch this every year before my journey and the format hasn't really changed."

    "It's been on TV every year then?" Lauren asked, surprising Eloy. "I had no idea it was that big of an event."

    "You know, for everything you know about Pokemon, it amazes me how disconnected you are from trainer culture," Eloy said, astounded.

    "You might have mentioned that before." Lauren winked back at him.

    "Anyway," the woman interjected, prompting apologies from the pair of young trainers. "I'm going to give you your numbers now if I can get your names. Make sure they're visible on your back somewhere to make life easier for the commentators. Then we'll draw your lots."

    The woman handed each of them a black plastic square, printed with a large number. Eloy took his number, seeing that he had earned himself the number forty whilst Lauren's number was sixty-two. That meant that there were at least sixty-two competitors that year. He knew he could expect a tough battle ahead.

    Next, the woman produces a bucket full of tiny envelopes from beneath the desk and gestured to it. One after the other, Eloy and Lauren reached into the bucket and withdrew an envelope.

    Eloy opened his envelope to find a green rubber band within. He withdrew it and slid the band over his wrist, dropping the envelope into a recycling bin beneath the desk. He turned to Lauren, she had a blue band worn similar around her own wrist.

    "Well, the green clashes with my aesthetic a bit but I'll live," he joked.

    "An usher will call you to compete by colour groups," the woman explained, "Now if you select your Pokemon for the first round and then head into the room directly behind me, you'll find it won't be long until you're called."

    Eloy thought for a moment before settling on which of his three Pokemon he would be using for the first round of the tournament. He retrieved the ball and released the Pokemon with. Light flashed out of the ball, quickly taking on the insectoid shape of Maestro.

    The Kricketune looked around cautiously, taking his surroundings and assessing the situation he'd found himself in. For a moment, Eloy wondered if the timid Kricketune was the correct choice for a battle royale, but he quickly reminded himself of Maestro's impressive win over Marcel and the usefulness of his moveset for what was ahead.

    A moment later there was another flash, a moment later, a Golbat materialised. Echo spread her wings and mouth wide and stretched out before shrouding herself in the wings and standing at the ready before her trainer.

    "Echo evolved, congrats!" Eloy said, taking a moment to register that this was the same Pokemon as the Zubat he had previously met.

    "Maestro too," Lauren noted. "Looks like it's going to be an interesting event."

    "Fine choices." The staff woman gave them another tired smile and waved them on to the trainers room.

    Passing through the heavy melamine door was like stepping into another world. Suddenly Eloy and Lauren were in a large open room with fold out chairs spread throughout at random intervals, shelves alongside one wall and TVs along the other. Most startling though, the room was absolutely packed with people, each of them wearing a black plastic number on their back and a coloured rubber band around their wrist. Eloy found himself slammed with a sudden cacophony as the voices of the assorted trainers and their Pokemon merged into a single din.

    Maestro immediately moved behind Eloy's leg to shield himself from the crowd while Echo made an audible hissing sound at the clamorous racket.

    "Oh no," Lauren groaned, "Sorry Echo, I was thinking of the battle when I picked you not the waiting room."

    Eloy, closed the door to spare the exhausted staffer at the desk from the same sound. Looking quizzically at Lauren and her Golbat.

    "Her evolutionary line use echolocation," Lauren explained, "They're sensitive to sounds. It was a bit of a shock going from near silence to an explosion of sound."

    Even as Lauren said it, Echo seemed to adjust herself to her new environment. The Golbat quite literally shook off her shock and fixed a steely determination into a gaze, prompting a warm smile from her trainer.

    "Maestro doesn't have such an excuse, he's just a bit of a sook. He'll surprise anyone who doubts him though."

    "I'm sure he will," Lauren commented.

    "Well, we'll see," a third voice suddenly interjected. Eloy turned to see a second blonde girl approaching, dressed in a painfully bright yellow and with an equally yellow Jolteon at her side. A few steps behind her, a shorter brunette girl was close at hand, a serious-faced Lucario in tow.

    Eloy suppressed a sigh at Layla's very Laylaish entrance. Focusing more on his surprise to see Gwen was with her in the trainer's room. That meant that the reclusive girl had elected to enter the tournament. Eloy wondered if she'd done so willingly or if Layla had pushed her into it, he was pretty sure he knew the answer to that question though. He was surprised to find that the Lucario was Gwen's though, it was a Pokemon with a reputation for loving battle and that seemed like an odd partner for Gwen who wanted to be a breeder.

    "You're girlfriend?" Layla inquired, looking at Lauren with an intense curiosity. "I hope not, she's way too pretty for you."

    Gwen flushed, looking slightly alarmed at the question and letting out a near inaudible, but clearly exasperated sigh.

    "No she's not my girlfriend," Eloy sighed at the juvenile comment, "and what's this about her being too pretty for me? Uh… not that you're not…"

    "All good," Lauren laughed lightly. "We're recent friends, we met in Rosaste and again on the way to Topa Town."

    "Bonded by a near death experience," Eloy commented wryly, watching as Echo and Layla's Jolteon sized each other up. Maestro remained partially hidden behind Eloy and the Lucario maintained its stoic indifference.

    "You'll have to tell me all about that later." Layla interrupted Eloy's observations, giving he and Lauren a conspiratorial look. "More importantly though, what group are you in?"

    She raised her arm, displaying a red band dangling around her wrist. It seemed that she wouldn't be in the same pool of competitors as either Eloy or Lauren were. Both Eloy and Lauren displayed their own identifying bands.

    "Looks like we won't have to look out for each other at all during the battle royale round then," Eloy commented.

    Disconcertingly, Layla's characteristic smirk deepened at the sight of Eloy's band.

    "Well, not all of us," Layla remarked.

    To Eloy's surprise, Gwen shyly raised her own arm, displaying a green band.

    Team Eloy
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven
  • Straight Out the Gate
    With his number now pinned to his back, Eloy found himself standing with his hand resting reassuringly on Maestro's head. Around him with Lauren, Layla and Gwen along with their chosen partners for the first round. Echo and Layla's Jolteon had taken to alternating between intense stares and playful jostling while Gwen's Lucario stared off into the room. Eloy couldn't help but wonder what the solemn Pokemon was thinking.

    The four of them chatted amongst themselves to varying degrees. Layla was by far the most talkative and animated of the bunch while Lauren and Eloy were happy to wait for their turns to contribute to any discussion. Gwen, true to form, spoke rarely and when she did it was usually only in response to something someone else said.

    Eventually though, a new and loud voice echoed throughout the room, amplified by a megaphone set low.

    "Okay, listen up please! Those of you in the green group, I need you to assemble here by the door. If the rest of you could make room for them to pass, that would be excellent."

    "I guess we're up first then." Eloy looked to Gwen. She made an attempt at smiling back at him, but looked altogether quite uncomfortable with the idea of being in the tournament. Not for the first time, Eloy found himself wondering about her capabilities. She clearly knew a lot about Pokemon and Layla had spoken very highly of her ability, yet everything about the way she carried herself and her tendency to avoid battles contradicted Layla's assurances. A fact that in and of itself was contradicted by the confident Lucario walking alongside her.

    "Tuuuune!" Maestro called, realising a moment too late that the other three had started moving and hurrying to catch up to them.

    Eloy grinned at the Bug type, resettling his hand on his head as they came to a halt in front of the usher with the megaphone hanging at their side.

    "Okay, we're going to head over to the waiting point now," he said loudly, thankfully abandoning the megaphone now that the group were all close together. "We'll get there as the opening remarks are starting. Once the speakers have finished, then I'll send you guys all out and you'll position yourselves around the edges of the battlefield. From there on, listen to the instructions of the chief referee. Alright? Let's go!"

    Without waiting for a reply, the spritely man turn and walked out the door leaving the assembled trainers to cram through it after him and follow him down the dingy grey corridor towards the entrance to the battlefield.

    Eloy, careful to keep his contact with Maestro, took the chance to survey the group. Including himself and Gwen, who was number seventy-nine, there were twenty-one of them present. It didn't matter overly much at that point, but that told Eloy that there was likely around eighty or so competitors if all the fields were of a similar size. More pressing, everyone in their field had a Pokemon at their side. That meant that there wasn't going to be anything gigantic in the battle. He wondered if that meant there was going to be a decent number of unevolved mon or if it just meant the whole field had chosen smaller fully-evolved Pokemon like Maestro.

    As they walked, a few of the trainers struck up conversation with each other. Eloy took that to mean it was fine for him to talk to Gwen who was keeping pace next to him.

    "You know, I wasn't expecting you to be competing. You never showed that much interest in battling and you mentioned a while back that your goal was to be a breeder."

    "I wasn't really planning on entering," Gwen answered, "I joined at the last opportunity, hence the high number."

    "Why the sudden motivation?" Eloy asked, Gwen's expression finally shifting into a more genuine smile in response.

    "Do you really have to ask?"

    "Layla?" Eloy offered, without a doubt in his mind that he was about to have that suspicion confirmed.

    "Naturally," Gwen giggled, "Apparently I'm wasting my talent if I don't take part in something like this every now and then. She was quite insistent. Not that this is much of a surprise. It's hard to say no to Layla once her heart is set on something. She's very determined."

    "Yeah, I figured as much," Eloy said. "I'm not sure if determined is the word I'd use though as much as stubborn."

    "That's because you don't know her like I do."

    Before the conversation had a chance to go any further, Eloy found himself stopping suddenly, feeling Maestro bump into the edge of his leg. The chatter of the assembled trainers also dwindled down and eventually stopped. They were now gathered before an open archway, beyond it an expanse of green grass that gave way to a pair of compacted dirt battlefields. Further past those, a small stage was set up below a vast screen. On the stage stood a small group of people, their visages projected on the screen behind them at several times life size.

    A tall woman in a purple pantsuit with sharp cheekbones, penetrating eyes and an immaculate red pixie cut was standing at the forefront of the group holding a microphone. Eloy recognised her instantly. That was Daphne, the busiest gym leader in the world and CEO of the technology company that co-sponsored the event.

    "Good morning to you all and welcome to the Techniti Cup Tournament," she spoke in a sharp, strong and confident voice. "Today, eighty-two competitors will battle it out for your entertainment and for the chance to prove themselves to the battling world at large. We have four impressive battle-royale rounds to start the event off. Following that, the final two of each will participate in the main tourney. In addition to the three thousand Poke grand prize, the victor of that tournament will have the honour of earning an exhibition battle with our very own Nora West, former headmaster of the Nora West Academy here in Techniti City and current member of the Elite Four. Now, to open the event, I will turn you over to the very same. Welcome, Nora!"

    As Daphne stepped back, another familiar face stepped forward and took the microphone. Nora was a total contrast to Daphne, dressed casually in a similar outfit to before with her curly hair held in place by a pink bandanna. Her expression was warm and motherly, something Eloy was beginning to assume was just the default for the woman.

    "I'm sure everyone is raring to go, so I'll keep this nice and short! This isn't just a spectacle, this is a moment for a group of very talented young trainers to shine and stand with confidence on the national stage. This tournament has, in the past, given rise to famed professional battlers, Gym Leaders and even our current champion made their television debut here. Today we aren't just entertaining you, we are showcasing the future. Now it's the futures turn, I think I've said more than enough."

    As Nora stepped back from the edge of the stage, the image on the screen shifted to focus on the other side of the archway Eloy was standing on. He could see the usher and the first group of competitors. Then, suddenly they were moving, surging forward as the usher gave the signal.

    Eloy found himself separated from Gwen as they both instinctively moved in different directions around the edge of the nearest battlefield. Instead, he ended up standing between a girl with a Vibrava and a boy with an Aron. Neither were great matchups for Maestro, who was looking about the field nervously. Eloy had a hunch though, that they would attack straight not sidewards.

    "I hope you're ready Maestro, it's about to start."

    "Tuuune!" Maestro reply, his musical voice a mixture of determination and foreboding.

    Even as that exchange passed, an announcer went over the rules. Then, a referee blew their whistle as two more started shouting to start the battle. Then, all hell broke loose.

    In an instant, the tense peace between combatants was broken as instructions were yelled from all directions and Pokemon began surging onto the field.

    "Darner, Dragon Breath!" Eloy heard the girl to his right instruct, her Vibrava diving into the fray. Sure enough, as predicted, both of the nearest trainers went forwards instead of turning their attention towards him. That was an opportunity.

    "Maestro, Sing!" Eloy called and finally, Maestro lurched into action. Instead of diving head-first into the fray, Maestro hung back. He slid his blades across each other like and instrument and began humming his song, the beautiful lullaby cutting through the harsher chorus of the battle, each note reverberating with power.

    Around Maestro, the Vibrava dropped from the sky and lay prone on the ground. The Aron staggered forward and slumped into the dirt. Across from them, a Sawk and a Simisage swayed in place before dropping to the ground.

    "Oh come on!" Eloy heard the Aron's trainer growl at his left as the Vibrava girl just groaned on his other side. He didn't have any time to even consider saying anything to the pair of them though, a Tailow suddenly dive bombed the group, making a B-line for Maestro.

    "On top and use Slash!" Eloy yelled as the Tailow swooped in. With clumsy wings, Maestro just barely got high enough to slice down against the Flying-types back. It crashed into the dirt between the group of sleeping Pokemon.

    Unfortunately, it was at that moment that a lot of other nearby trainers were noticing the easy targets. Suddenly, almost in unison, several orders were given. A torrent of fire, a crackling electrical blast and a chilling Ice Beam struck out towards the group. There was no where to run.

    "Bide!" Eloy called in desperation. Maestro dropped the short way back to the ground and braces himself behind his blades as the attacks closed in, with eyes bulging with terror at what he was about to endure. The next second, there was a near-deafening boom as the attacks all struck the same general area, exploding against each other and their victims and blasting a cloud of dirt into the air.

    Eloy winced, calling after Maestro but not hearing a response. He squinted against the dirt in his eyes and strained his ears, but could neither see nor hear any sign of his Kricketune. He was quickly starting to dread that the rash Bide he had called might have caused him to be an early knockout.

    As the dust thinned, Eloy could see a faint source of light. Maestro was still on his feet, already radiating with the immense energy he had just absorbed with his Bide. The Vibrava, Aron and Simisear were all laying fainted around him. The Sawk and Tailow however, had mysteriously vanished. That didn't matter at that moment, he had to focus on retaliation.

    "Maestro, blast that Tepig, that's where the fire came from!"
    Struggling to contain the insane amount of attack energy he was holding within himself, Maestro frantically scanned the battlefield for the offending Fire type, getting progressively more agitated as he held the attack longer and longer. It was with great relief to he and Eloy both that he finally managed to locate the Tepig. It was locked in battle with an Aipom and a Clefairy.


    "If you get all three all the better, but focus on getting rid of problem Pokemon like Fire types!" Eloy instructed.

    "Tuuuuuune!" Maestro didn't wait another second, no longer able to contain the power he was holding. He unleashed the Bide, digging his blades into the ground to keep himself from being blown back by the force of his own attack. An immense, pure white blast shot across the battlefield, ripping a shallow canyon into the ground below it.

    The Tepig and its two opponents turned to see the incoming attack, wide eyed at the monstrous blast. The Aipom dove off the side, it's natural agility a huge boon in the chaos of the battle royale. The Tepig and the Clefairy weren't as lucky. Both were engulfed in double the power of the three colliding attacks from before. As the dazzling glow of the attack subsided, it revealed both lying still on the ground, immediately knocked out by the force of the blow.

    Eloy's gaze returned to his own Pokemon. Maestro was flagging already, worn down from holding so much energy right after taking three powerful attacks head on. It wouldn't pay for the Kricketune to take many more hits if Eloy planned on making it to the next round.

    He swept the battlefield in search of his next target, his eyes eventually finding Gwen, her own gaze focused intently ahead of her. He followed her line of sight, then he froze, his jaw dropped open.

    Gwen's Lucario was standing in the middle of four enemies. A Fraxure, a Hitmontop and the Aipom and Sawk he had seen earlier. The Fighting type's eyes were shut tightly, the protrusions on the side of its head jutting out horizontally and a fierce, but joyous, snarl on his face. One after another, the four other Pokemon attacked. Gwen's Lucario dodged them all.

    "Of course," Eloy said to himself, suddenly realising the genius of Gwen's Pokemon choice. "Aura. He can sense exactly where every single Pokemon on this battlefield is and knows what they're doing. Incredible."

    "You should focus on your own Pokemon, pal!" Someone off to the otherside shouted, Eloy instinctually recognising the taunt was directed at him.

    His head shot around just in time to see the glowing wing of the Tailow from before slamming into Maestro's back and sending him tumbling through the dirt. The bird wasn't done though, it was coming back in for a second round.

    "Growl and then Struggle Bug!" Eloy called.

    A pulse of sound emanated from Maestro, carrying with a strange sensation. It washed over the Tailow, and the Flying type visibly weakened, faltering slightly on its path. A moment later, a pillar of glowing red exploded up around Maestro and rushed outwards.

    The Tailow slammed into a wall of red light, it's attack ceasing in that instant. The Tailow wasn't knocked out the sky by the disadvantageous attack, but its momentum was completely nullified. There was no need to follow up though, the Tailow was a sitting duck in that moment as it was blindsided by the sparking, yellow-white glow of a Charge Beam and jettisoned from the battlefield.

    Eloy looked back at the trainer who had called out to him before, the boy now wearing a shocked and dismayed expression. Unable to help himself, Eloy called out to his former adversary.

    "Maybe you should have spent a little more time looking at everyone else's Pokemon!" He didn't hear the grumbled response, turning his attention back to the battlefield just in time to catch the outcome of Gwen's impressive clash.

    The Aipom leapt for her Lucario, swinging the glowing fist at the end of its tail for the back of his head. The Lucario whirled round, pivoting around the attack to catch the tail between his hands. Keep up the pivoting momentum, he swung the Aipom like a flail, striking the incoming Fraxure with it.

    "Anubis, Psychic!" Gwen instructed, the command faint in Eloy's ears over the sounds of battle.

    Both the Fraxure and the Aipom were engulfed in an outline of glowing blue. Then, with a wave of power that Eloy himself could feel from across the staging ground, both Pokemon were rocketed past a set of trainers, skimming across the grass between battlefields.

    The Sawk rushed in next, ducking low and lashing out with its leg to deliver a Low Sweep. The attack never even came close to hitting. In a movement so fast that it was almost as though Anubis had teleported, the Lucario was past the reach of the Sawk's leg and delivering a sharp kick of its own to the Sawk's head.

    As Eloy's mind raced, quickly coming to the conclusion he had just witnessed Extreme Speed, Gwen gave her follow-up command. Eloy missed the actual words, but it was clear what she'd said. A blue light surrounded the Sawk and a split-second later it was ejected from the battle. Anubis, eyes still firmly closed, then turned in Maestro's direction.

    Eloy felt his heart jump into his throat. From afar, he was able to admire the power of Gwen's Pokemon and had quickly come to the realisation that her meek demeanour belied a terrifyingly skilled opponent. He had no desire to go toe to toe with her while Maestro was already barely hanging in there.

    Anubis started forward towards Maestro and in that moment, Eloy could swear he saw an expression that was more apologetic than anything on Gwen's face. Even as he saw the look she gave him though, the ground suddenly exploded upwards in a cloud of shrapnel and his vision was partially obscured.

    A Krokorok had clearly been using Dig, leaping forth from the ground with a spin and slamming its tail into Maestro. Maestro staggered backwards, reeling from the sneak attack. The onslaught continued though.

    "Bite!" Eloy heard from somewhere on the opposite side of the battlefield.

    The Krokorok shot forward with surprising speed and clamped its jaws down over Maestro's side.

    "Tuuuuuuune!" Maestro cried out in an agonised lament. The attack wasn't that effective against a Bug like Maestro, but he'd already taken a lot of damage. Maestro wiggled and struggled against the attack but was unable to break free.

    "Fine, if you want to stay so close, so be it. Fury Cutter!"

    A crimson light extended over Maestro's blades. In quick succession, he rained several blows down upon the Krokorok. The Ground and Dark type staggered back, vulnerable to power of the sequentially strengthening strikes.

    "Oh, now you want to run away?" Eloy taunted, "Nope! Struggle Bug!"

    The column of red light shot up around Maestro and then expanded outwards in a rush. As though hit by a train, the Krokorok was smashed backwards by the force of the Bug attack and skipped along the dirt like a pebble on a lake. It came to a rest by Anubis'feet, but it wasn't getting up to face down the Lucario, it had fainted the moment the Struggle Bug had made contact.

    The fainted Pokemon was quickly removed from between Maestro and Anubis, no longer an obstacle between them. The Lucario was looking at Maestro as the Kricketune swayed in place, standing casually with his eyes now open. Eloy steeled himself for what was to come.
    Then, he realised that the Lucario had opened his eyes and no attack was incoming. A whistle blew a moment later a horn sounded over the stadium PA system as Eloy looked about the battlefield, gradually coming to the realisation that Maestro and Gwen's Lucario were the only two Pokemon left and that the only other trainer standing at the now severely disfigured battlefield was Gwen. They were the last two and would be moving on to the tourney rounds.

    Without another moment of thought, Eloy rushed Maestro, wrapping his arms around the exhausted insect.

    "Nicely done! I told them you'd surprise them!" Eloy beamed.

    "Tuuuune" Maestro replied weakly in a lilting, singsong voice.

    "Congratulations," an equally soft voice said from behind Eloy as he freed Maestro from his embrace. Gwen was standing there, her calm and confident Lucario by her side with a slight, but smug, smirk on his face. The Fighting type gave a nod of acknowledgement to Maestro, who was too tired to offer much of a response.

    "Congratulations to you two as well!" Eloy exclaimed. "Moreso to you two, if I'm going to be honest. You're terrifying," he admitted.

    "Thank you… I think." Gwen replied meekly, scratching nervously at her arm and staring fixedly at the ground.

    "That's high praise," Eloy grinned as the voice of the announcer reached his ears.

    "The winners of the first battle royale qualifier, and your first entrants into the tourney rounds, are Eloy Chance and Guinevere Wayne!"

    Team Eloy
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven


  • Oh boy, four chapters posted back to back within a few chapters together haha. All right, time for catchup!

    Hm the interlude with Niall and Daphne I'm kinda mixed with. While I thought the battle between the two was well choreographed, not sure about a gym battle featuring a character we're meeting for the first time. I'm going to assume Niall will make more appearances?

    Eloy is still trying to get used to the city life, huh? We already know Eloy will face Daphne eventually after his last-second appearance in the interlude.

    Hah, kinda amusing you're posting a Battle Royale chapter as the anime is going to have that in the shows' Pokemon League arc, though it'll be a huge 151 Pokemon brawl one haha. I lost track a bit on which Pokemon appeared, but since this is supposed to be chaotic it's not a huge problem. We get a bit of a closer look at Gwen, who is a very skilled trainer but rather hold back. I wonder if Layla and Lauren will be moving to the next phase of the tournament with Eloy and Gwen.
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  • Oh boy, four chapters posted back to back within a few chapters together haha. All right, time for catchup!

    Hm the interlude with Niall and Daphne I'm kinda mixed with. While I thought the battle between the two was well choreographed, not sure about a gym battle featuring a character we're meeting for the first time. I'm going to assume Niall will make more appearances?

    I was a bit worried that introducing Niall like I did might seem a bit strange. However, I'm hoping that as you see more of his character that it'll become a bit more apparent why I chose that setting to introduce him. Plus, building some Daphne hype can't be a bad thing heh.

    Eloy is still trying to get used to the city life, huh? We already know Eloy will face Daphne eventually after his last-second appearance in the interlude.

    Hah, kinda amusing you're posting a Battle Royale chapter as the anime is going to have that in the shows' Pokemon League arc, though it'll be a huge 151 Pokemon brawl one haha. I lost track a bit on which Pokemon appeared, but since this is supposed to be chaotic it's not a huge problem. We get a bit of a closer look at Gwen, who is a very skilled trainer but rather hold back. I wonder if Layla and Lauren will be moving to the next phase of the tournament with Eloy and Gwen.

    Great minds think alike apparently! I'm actually a bit pleased you found it hard to keep track of exactly which Pokemon appeared and when because that was entirely the point. As you said, I wanted it to be chaotic and to share Eloy's perspective with you a bit since he himself wasn't entirely sure what was going on at any given moment. I hope you enjoyed it!
  • Go To War
    Layla watched from the archway as Eloy and Gwen, with their Pokemon now returned, made their way across the open grounds of the stadium back towards where she stood. Many of the other trainers around her were chattering quietly about the first battle while Edith remained at her feet, her spiky fur bristled and her weight shifting anxiously between her feet. Layla flashed a grin at the Jolteon. They were both ready to show the world what they could do.

    The chattering soon turned to congratulatory murmurs, signalling that Gwen and Eloy had made it to the entrance and were passing the first of her group. She looked up from Edith, barely suppressing laughter at the sight of her friends' expressions. Layla wasn't sure which was funnier, the immeasurable discomfort Gwen was completely failing to hide at the praise being showered upon her by the audience and the assembled combatants or the look of shock and awe that seemed to be permanently etched onto Eloy's face. As the two got closer, she quickly decided Eloy looked much funnier. She had warned him several times that Gwen was a skilled battler.

    As the pair reached her, she pushed between a couple of the other trainers to meet them. Immediately she threw her arms around Gwen, letting out a whoop as she embraced the shorter girl.

    "A flawless victory as expected, very cool." She released her friend, pleased to see that while Gwen's blush had only intensified with the praise, her uneasy expression had slipped into a faint, reluctant smile. Satisfied with that reaction, Layla turned to Eloy, whose expression still seemed marred by disbelief. She couldn't contain her laughter anymore at that. "You on the other hand, got very lucky in those final moments. I warned you she's good didn't I? You did alright, but you should have seen the look of terror you had when you thought you'd have to battle Gwen!"

    The furrowing of Eloy's brows only furthered her amusement, causing her laughter to continue for several moments. She supposed she should probably show a bit more restraint, but it was just so easy to get under Eloy's skin and provoke an entertaining reaction.

    "Okay, red group, off you go!" The usher interrupted, Layla's pool suddenly surging forward and starting to enter the arena.

    "Alright, I'm off! I'd say wish me luck, but you know I don't need it." Layla winked at Eloy and Gwen, moving back to join the rest of the group.

    "Jolt!" Edith barked with anticipation, a faint crackling sound heard through the sounds of footsteps and the roar of the crowd as a small charge of electricity ran through her fur.

    "Don't get too cocky, now!" She heard Eloy call after her, "You make the best pouty face when you lose."

    Layla was about to fire off a retort about the only loss of hers he'd ever seen being largely his fault, but suddenly she felt the warmth of the afternoon skin as she stepped out onto the grass. She decided it would be best to leave those words unspoken when she was now front and centre for a cheering crowd of spectators. She'd have to get him back later.

    Layla strode confidently towards the now somewhat damaged first battlefield, having been informed that the second was for the tourney rounds. She found herself a spot between two other trainers, the young man to her right nodding at her politely as he tossed a Pokeball forward.

    The sphere exploded into a light that steadily grew in size, materialising into a tall, tree like Pokemon with an enormous neck atop which rested several egg-like heads.

    "A tourist from Alola then?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

    "Sure am," he replied with a noticeable accent and an attractive smile, "Although if I win I suppose I'm more of a conqueror."

    "Ha!" Layla scoughed dramatically, "I like the spirit, but good luck with that."

    "Jolt!" Edith barked out, her fur bristling further as she issued her challenge to the enormous Alolan Exeggutor besides her. The Grass and Dragon type peered down at her, uttering a low gutteral chuckle.

    The announcer spoke his last few words, then suddenly a whistle was blown and a horn sounded. Shouts began echoing across the battlefield.

    "Edith, Work Up!" Layla called. A red aura outlined her Jolteon's body as her spiky fur sparked with further electricity.

    "No easy starts for you, Cutie!" The young man to Layla's right teased. "Dragon Hammer!"

    A shadow suddenly grew over Edith as the Exeggutor swung its neck down like a whip, a swirling violet glow surrounding the upper portion and its heads.

    "Jump and run up!" Layla yelled. Edith leapt into the air, the attack narrowly missing her as the Grass and Dragon type's upper body slammed into the ground, leaving a sizeable dent in the compacted dirt. Edith landed on top of its bent neck and started running.

    "Shake it off!" The Alolan ordered, causing Layla to smirk.

    The Exeggutor straightened rapidly, turning into a living catapult and flinging Edith diagonally to the right, straight into the fray.
    Edith went with the movement, moving through the air with surprising grace to land suddenly in the middle of a three way battle between a Jigglypuff, Panpour and Herdier. All three combatants so surprised by the sudden entrance that they stopped in their tracks.

    "Discharge!" Layla yelled.

    Edith looked smugly at the Jigglypuff and Herdier, the two Pokemon in her line of sight. Then, wild torrents of lightning burst out from her body in all directions, striking the three Pokemon before they had a chance to react.

    "Charge Beam on the Panpour behind you!" Layla followed through, Edith jumping up, whirling to face the Water type and unleashing the electrified beam from her open mouth. The attack hit the stunned Panpour hard, taking it out of the battle before the glow from the attack had even left its body.

    Edith landed with a confident bark, the electricity arcing over her body growing with intensity as the boosting effect of the Charge Beam too hold. That confident sound was quickly followed by a welp of surprise as the Herdier slammed hard into her from behind and sent her tumbling across the battlefield, skidding between a battle between a Growlithe and Teddiursa.

    "Careful now," the Alolan trainer goaded her, focusing back on his own ongoing battle as the Teddiursa on the other side of the battlefield lunged for the Growlithe with a pink-glowing paw. The Fire type side-stepped the attack, then slammed its jaws shut over the Teddiursa's arm. The Normal type cried out in pain only to find itself suddenly released as the Growlith swung its head to the side and hurled it.

    The Teddiursa collided with the Herdier from earlier, the canine Pokemon having been rushing in to take a follow-up shot at Edith.

    "Flame Burst!" She heard someone yell as the Growlithe reared back, slamming its front paws down again as it spat a roaring fireball at the small pile of Normal types, the pair in the process of detangling themselves. The attack hit its mark, exploding into a rain of embers and knocking out both of its victims. Seeing a threat with its back turned, Layla decided it was the Growlithe's turn to take a hit.

    "Charge Beam!"

    "Crap! Flamethrower, behind you!" Layla heard growled in response, this response loud enough that she could now identify the Growlithe's trainer. He was located a ways down from her on the opposite end of the battlefield, a tall and good-looking young man with black skin, dressed in jeans a purple jacket.

    At the other trainer's command, the Growlithe whirled, narrowly managing to unleash a torrent of burning flames as Edith's own attack reached it.

    Lightning met fire, the attacks colliding and cancelling each other in a cloud of smoke, peppering the area around them with orange and yellow sparks. The Growlithe was forced back, not going down but skidding back along the dirt until it landed besides the Jigglypuff Layla had seen previously, the Balloon Pokemon having just defeated a Mienfoo that lay at its stubby feet.

    "Follow up with a Swift, Edith!" Layla instructed, pressing the attack.

    "Leonidas, counter with Reversal!" Layla faintly heard her opponent respond from further down the battlefield.

    "Jolt!" Edith snapped as a volley of golden stars spun around her, each flying off towards her targets in rapid succession.

    The Growlithe, Leonidas, bared his teeth and emitted a low growl and a ring of small orange lights spun around him in a ring. The stars struck, catching the Jigglypuff by surprise and blasting it away, fainting it as it hit the ground. Leonidas' however was able to stave off the attack. The ring of lights countered the first several stars, orange orbs and golden stars bursting into sparkling fireworks as they struck each other. Then, the ring rapidly shrunk back onto Leonidas, forming an orange aura over his body as he headbutted the next projectile, deflecting it back towards the other stars and starting a chain reaction of rebunds that ended the onslaught.

    "He's pretty good," Layla muttered begrudgingly.

    "I agree," the Alolan suddenly said from next to her, causing Layla to remember his presence for the first time in several moments. "We've gotta get in on this. Earthquake!"

    "What?!" Layla shouted, watching horror struck as the towering Alolan Exeggutor bounded forward to where Edith and the Growlithe faced off. Suddenly, it slammed its tail down onto the ground and immediately the dirt began to shake. The battlefield rumbled as cracks formed in its surface and it broke in place causing a ring of broken earth to extend out from the epicentre of the powerful Ground attack.

    Edith and Leonidas, as well as several other nearby Pokemon were all knocked off their feet and thrown about by the warping and breaking ground beneath them, rolling and tumbling off in different directions until the quake came to an end.

    Edith, shakily forced herself back to her feet, nearly falling back down in the process. She wasn't built for taking hits, and Ground moves were particularly hazardous for her.

    Across the battlefield, Layla saw Leonidas and a handful of other Pokemon also in the process of returning to their feet. Most of them, the Growlithe included, had fared similarly to Edith, a handful hadn't been far less affected and several more were now being recalled in beams of red light having been knocked out by the Earthquake.

    "How'd you like that?" the Alolan chuckled.

    "Unfortunately, I think you're going to have to go." Layla responded, rolling her eyes and smirking at the man.

    "Looks like some others agree!" he suddenly exclaimed.

    Leonidas had just unleashed a roaring Flamethrower across the field at the Exeggutor and he wasn't the only one as several more attacks streaked in from different directions. Layla almost joined them, but she decided against it, she could hear Gwen reminding her to seize opportunities in the back of her mind, some of the earliest advice her friend had given her.

    "Edith, Work Up!" Layla shouted over the sound of the barrage of attacks all triking the slow and clumsy Alolan Pokemon. Layla staggered back under the force of the pressure wave, nearly falling over as she did so. She watched as the Alola Exeggutor slowly, comically fell forward like a tree during logging season, seeing a handful of smaller Pokemon now trying to scrabble out the way. Out the corner of her eye, she was careful to keep track of Edith, the familiar red glow now receding from the Jolteon.

    "Aw man, that's a shame," the Alolan said from next to her, recalling his defeated Pokemon. "Well, I'll be seeing you later I hope." He gave her a smile and a wink and cheerily began making his way out the arena.

    There was now only five Pokemon left. Edith, Leonidas, a Frosslass and, weirdly, a pair of Mankey. All of them were looking worse for wear, although the Frosslass noticeably less so. That made it pretty clear to Layla what was about to happen.

    The pair of Mankey rushed the Ice and Ghost type, one with a fist cloaked in flame and the other with its tail glowing a metallic silver. The Froslass waited for the last moment, suddenly levitating up as the twin Fighting types closed in.

    The Fire Punch and Iron Tail collided and the Mankey were knocked back from each other, scrabbling. The next second, the space above them was a roaring blaze as Leonidas unleashed a powerful Flamethrower, engulfing the Froslass until the defeated Pokemon dropped from the sky and was absorbed back into its pokeball with the quiet sound of a resigned sigh from her trainer.

    Layla looked between the three remaining opponents she and Edith had to face. Leonidas was more threatening, but the two Mankey were on their last legs, lined up perfectly and vulnerable to one of Edith's attacks. She felt the urge to ignore all reason and take the fight to the Growlithe so she could finish what she started, but in the end, her desire to secure access to the next round won out.

    "Edith, Stored Power!"


    Several strands of pink and purple energy swirled around Edith, moving forward to condense into a perfect glowing sphere in front of her mouth. With another assertive bark, she let loose with the attack, firing off an enormous blast of purple, pink and white, the attack exploding forth from the sphere. The Mankey twins shouted furiously as they tried to dive out the way only to be swept up in the attack. Both fighting types were hurled out of the battlefield, coming to a stop side by side. Neither stood back up.

    As one the crowd began to roar and cheer, the second battle royale clearly having come to a dramatic close. The announcer soon spoke up to confirm this and identify the winners.

    "That ends the second royale round!" the voice rebounded out over the stadium. "Moving on from the red group we have Layla Sylvan and Niall Parker!"

  • Athena
    Gwen hardly breathed as the last few minutes of the second battle royale played out. She wrapped her fingers around the edges of her tunic in an iron grip, watching the television screen with an intensity that looked as though it might shatter the glass.

    She had watched Layla's steady improvement and seen first hand how hard she had worked for this moment and it was finally within her grasp. It was just like Nora had said, as much as Layla had nagged her into competing, this was Layla's time to shine and she was merely intruding in a world that she had no place in.

    "She's doing really well," Lauren commented from off to Gwen's left. She was standing on the other side of Eloy, who was between them also with his eyes fixed on the screen. The girl's Golbat was nearby, hanging upside-down from a bar on the wall and looking rather bored.

    Gwen nodded, not even looking away from the screen as the Alolan Exeggutor unleashed its surprise Earthquake. She felt her nails digging into the palm of her hand now she was gripping her clothes so tightly. Layla was so close, it would be so unfair for her to be knocked out there when progress was only a hair's breadth away. Edith was standing on shaky limbs though, it would be a close call if anyone went after her instead of the Grass type.

    "Relax," Eloy suddenly said from next to her, "You can't offer much moral support if you give yourself an aneurysm."

    "Yeah," Gwen replied noncommittally, neither breaking off her staring contest with the TV nor releasing her vice-like grip. At that moment, nothing mattered but what was unfolding on the screen.

    She felt her heartbeat accelerating, her head ringing with the adrenaline-saturated blood now pulsing through her body. She held her breath, watching as the Froslass was immersed in billowing flames and then, finally, Layla had Edith let loose with the final attack of the match, sending the pair of Mankey rocketing away from the battlefield.

    "That ends the second royale round!" the commentator's voice spoke through the TV. "Moving on from the red group we have Layla Sylvan and Niall Parker!"

    A few people around the room clapped as the chatter began to pick up quite significantly, people discussing the next two to make it passed the battle royales, their tactics and how they may fare against them.

    Gwen, however, remained silent still. Unabashedly smiling at the screen and finally feeling the tension release from her body as she allowed herself to properly take another breath at last.

    "I thought she was a goner when that Alolan Exeggutor hit them all with that Earthquake," Eloy commented, "Her Jolteon is almost as stubborn as she is. Or, determined, I suppose."

    Gwen finally looked up at the pink haired boy hearing that, it was warming to hear his acknowledgment of her earlier correction.

    "Very determined," Gwen agreed, speaking for the first time since Layla's battle had commenced.

    "Powerful too," Lauren said, "She's done a really good job raising that Jolteon."

    Gwen didn't get a chance to reply, another round of applause had started up around the room as the door had swung open once more. This was a familiar occurrence since Gwen had been smacked with a similar greeting when she and Eloy had returned to the trainer's room after their own royale round.

    She watched with amusement as Layla took a bow to the assembled trainers, hardly even noticing Niall standing behind her as he moved past Layla and further into the room. The wide, entrancing smile on her friend's face was just about enough to make Gwen melt with happiness. Finally, she was getting the chance to prove herself and she was making good use of it.

    Finally, Layla took a break from her showboating and practically bounded across to where their group was assembled. Gwen felt the blood rush to her head as Layla half-dived into a hug, squeezing Gwen into her for what felt like a much longer time that it was.

    "So, how was I?" Layla asked, a hint of gloating in her tone as she broke away from Gwen.

    "You did really well. I was impressed," Gwen managed to say, smiling back at her beaming, smirking friend.

    "Now there's some high praise," Layla joked, causing Gwen to flush with embarrassment. She then turned to Eloy, her smirk deepening in a way that was a little discomforting. "What about you, aren't you going to shower me with praise?"

    "Personally, I was rooting for the Alolan guy," Eloy jibed back, "You managed to not make a fool of yourself though. Nicely done."

    "Just imagine if you'd done that well, maybe you wouldn't have nearly cried when you saw Anubis coming for that Kricketune of yours." Layla laughed at her own retort.

    "It was really smart to use that breather whilst they were ganging up on the Exeggutor to power up further for Stored Power," Lauren commented, interrupting the verbal sparring match.

    "Thanks," Layla remarked, "I was taught early on to make sure I seized opportunities both aggressive and passive and made good use of them."

    Layla glanced back at Gwen briefly as she said it, causing her embarrassed blush to reawaken before it ever had a chance to properly disperse.

    The four of them continued to discuss Layla's performance in the battle for a few more minutes before turning their attention back to the screen. The yellow group had just made their way out onto the battlefield and the next round was commencing. It was at this point that the now weary-looking usher returned into the room with his megaphone held aloft.

    "Okay then, the yellow group is starting up now so if those of you in the blue group could come with me to wait for the last round, please."

    "I guess that's me then," Lauren said. "Echo, come on, time to stretch your wings."

    The Golbat made a half-screeching and half-chirping noise, dropping from where she was hanging and lazily flapping over to Lauren where she could hobble along at her feet.

    With a wave, Lauren made her way out into the hall with the rest of the blue group, Echo in tow.

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  • Bomber
    Lauren was among the last to reach the battlefield, taking a spot at one of the front corners as Echo landed at her feet. The Golbat looked fixedly at the other Pokemon, determinedly, taking in the competition. She'd been like that ever since Kanto, ready to walk through fire for Lauren after she saved her at Mt. Moon. In some ways, it was a little disconcerting.

    How can she be so dedicated to something so uncertain?

    Those thoughts would have to wait though, they could be addressed and fed to Marion at a later date. Right then, there was a job to do and expectations to meet. She steadied herself, taking in the opposition much like Echo was.

    She counted a Beedrill, Swanna, Togetic and Pidove. That meant that there were four other airborne Pokemon for Echo to contend with. It was a good strategy for flying Pokemon to rain attacks down on those that were stuck on the ground. Those fliers were the best suited for pinning down Echo though, that made them a priority. Once the fliers were out the way, Echo could ride out the rest for the most part.

    There were two competitors holding pokeballs, she'd see what they were soon enough. The only guarantee was that they'd be large.

    Lauren too a deep breath and centred herself, she had her battle plan. All that was left was to put it into action and that was a moment rapidly approaching.

    The signal for the battle to begin went off and Lauren found herself squinting against a nearby flash of light as Echo extended her leathery wings and took to the air. Surprisingly, that nearby flash materialised into elegant, scaled form of a Milotic.

    The second flash, that was more problematic. Lauren froze with shock as she saw the light take the shape of a gigantic, metallic beast with a wide head and protrusions jutting from its sides. Of course, there was a Steelix in her pool.

    She felt the breath hitch in her throat, the distant sounds of twenty or so screams faint in the back of her mind. She forced herself to exhale and inhale slowly, regularly. Willing her body to relax.

    Get it together Lauren, that Steelix is back in Kanto. You do this every time you see one and nothing bad ever happens. Focus on the plan.

    She looked up to the air, Echo was flapping in place, ready and waiting for her instructions. There was a job to do. The Steelix didn't matter. Echo wasn't well suited to battling Steel types and she had more important things to deal with. There was a plan.

    "Confuse Ray on the Swanna, Poison Fang on the Togetic!" Lauren instructed, raising her voice enough to be heard over the sounds of the battle beginning.

    Echo screeched her affirmative, taking off into the battle. As she flew, she released a flickering yellow-white beam, hitting the Swanna. The bird was irradiated by the attack, not taking any damage, but the effects were immediately apparent. The Swanna's trainer face-palmed as the Pokemon started frantically flailing about in the sky, forgetting to flap its wings and plummeting down.

    Echo pressed on though, her fangs glowing a toxic purple as she closed in on the Togetic as it rained attacks down on the land-based combatants below. The Togetic wailed as Echo snapped her fangs down on its long neck.

    "Ice Beam on the Golbat!" She heard from nearby her, turning slightly to see the instruction had come from the Milotic's trainer. Sure enough, the serpentine Pokemon was firing off the chilling blue beam a moment later, planning to strike Echo from behind.

    "Echo, turn!" Lauren instructed.

    Echo did just that, keeping the flailing Togetic locked in her jaws. The Ice Beam struck the Togetic, Echo's improvised meat shield. Both Flying types were blasted back by the powerful attack, the Togetic falling from Echo's jaws and dropping to the ground in a heap as Echo tumbled backwards, eventually managing to right herself.

    "Air Cutter," Lauren called. She didn't want to get into a long battle with the Milotic at that moment, her priority was dealing with the other fliers. That being said, she had to hit it to give her an opening to break away.


    Echo flapped her wings harder, a strong wind billowing out from her, carrying with small, shimmering blades of silver-white. The Milotic's trainer had been quick on the response though, a green sphere of light burst into being around the Milotic, shielding it from the attack.

    Meanwhile though, the Swanna was shakily rising up between them, returning to the air. It was still a bit dazed from its confusion and subsequent impact, so Lauren focused in on it, disregarding the Milotic.

    "Echo, Wing-"

    The command was cut off by a sudden, thunderous roar from across the battlefield. Lauren immediately froze, her spine turning rigid and the command turning to stone in her mouth. She glanced in the direction of the sound to watch as the Steelix smashed six other Pokemon with a single enormous Iron Tail. It looked like half of them fainted due to the blow.

    Focus! She berrated herself, returning her attention to Echo just in time to see the Swanna attack. With a wing cloaked in a blue, watery energy it slammed into Echo and sent the Golbat reeling.

    "Poison Fang!" Lauren called out, still kicking herself for the lapse in concentration. She needed to keep Echo out of constant skirmishes and make decisive attacks, not get distracted and let opponents come to her.

    Thankfully, Echo was quick to respond, latching onto the Swanna's wing with her Poison Fang on the follow through from its Liquidation. The Swanna tried to shake it off, but Echo held firm, digging her teeth in harder to its wing as a result, inflicting greater damage. It wasn't the ideal situation though, Swanna had long necks and Lauren was not about to have Echo take a Water Gun to the face.

    She scanned the battlefield quickly as Echo and the Swanna scuffled through the air, soon finding what she was looking for.

    "Let go, then Toxic on that Pikachu down there!" Lauren ordered.

    Without a moment of hesitation, Echo let go of the Swanna and dropped several feet into a glide. She swooped over the Electric type as it took out a Buizel with a well-timed Thunderbolt and spat a bullet of poison goo over the unsuspecting Pokemon as the Swanna dove after her.

    Somewhere down the line from her, Lauren heard someone swear loudly and order a Thunderbolt. Echo pulled up as the electric rodent let loose with a torrent of crackling yellow lightning… right as the Swanna crossed between it and Echo.

    The Swanna let out an awful scream as it was suddenly overcome by a bolt of electricity. The attack broke and the Swanna dropped from the sky like a stone.

    "Confuse Ray and then get out of there, Echo."

    Echo turned on the Pikachu, the small electric type looking quite surprised to have taken out the wrong Pokemon from the running. In fact, it was so surprised that it didn't even try to avoid the flickering light that suddenly shone over it. Without waiting, Echo turned and flew off, leaving the Pikachu to be slowly sapped at by its poisoning as it staggered around in a daze.

    Lauren looked around for the remaining two fliers. She couldn't see any sign of the Pidove, reasoning it had likely already been knocked out. The Beedrill however she had an easier time finding as it was frantically trying to dodge repeated Flamethrowers from a Simsear below that seemed intent on frying the Bug.

    The Steelix roared again, and once more Lauren felt her body reflexively stiffen. She pushed the thought of the Steel type out of her mind though, she couldn't miss this chance.

    "Air Cutter on the Beedrill!"

    Echo obeyed immediately, unleashing the cutting attack on the unsuspecting Beedrill. The Bug type buzzed with alarm as it suddenly found itself caught in a strong wind and nicked at by a hundred invisible blades. A moment later, the distracted Bug was finally engulfed in flames and like the Swanna before, plummeted to the ground. Now the air was Lauren's.

    A bolt of electricity flew past Echo, missing by miles. Its source was quickly apparent, the Pikachu from before was sagging as it slowly stumbled its way in Echo's direction in a loose zig-zag.

    Lauren ignored it, it would soon faint from the effects of the Toxic. Her job was now to make sure as many of the other grounded Pokemon as possible found themselves similarly afflicted.

    "Okay, Echo, hit-and-run Toxic."

    Echo screeched joyously at the order, immediately dive-bombing a Watchog below and coating the creature in the venomous ooze. It tried to retaliate with a Thunder Wave, but the sparking wave of electricity missed its mark, Echo already having moved on to the Simisear from before, catching it distracted as it locked Flamethrowers with a Litwick.

    Much to the dismay of several of the other combatants, Lauren and Echo spent the next several moments rinsing and repeating. Echo would sweep in from above, Poison a distracted Pokemon and then fly off before it could respond. Several times, the second distraction she caused immediately resulted in the fainting of a Pokemon that tried to retaliate only to be knocked out by the Pokemon it was already battling.

    "That is incredibly irritating," the Milotic's trainer said with a laugh as Echo poisoned the Water type for the second time, the distraction causing it to take an ineffective Icy Wind from a nearby Vanillish. The Milotic finished of the Vanilite with a sizzling Scald attack before a faint, bubbling green glow overtook its body, getting progressively brighter until it faded away. This was the second time now it had been forced to Refresh away a Poisoning from Echo.

    "Sorry," Lauren said, offering back a faint smile before having Echo dive down on the Watchog from previously. She bit down on its shoulder with a Leech Life, red light surging from its body into hers. It struggled against her but between that and its prior Poisoning, it quickly ran out of fight and dropped to the ground.
    The field was very quickly now, many of the Pokemon present going down that much easier thanks to the Poison inflicted on them. Not all of the Pokemon present were vulnerable to the tactic though. The Milotic with Refresh was one of them. The shaking of the earth as the Steelix exploded out from the ground, taking out the earlier Litwick along with a Carnivine was a reminder that it was also.

    The Steelix quickly saw to it that the number of competitors continued to shrink, quickly dispatching a Marowak and Duosion in the moments earlier. In fact, Lauren was fairly sure that while she had certainly assisted in the fainting of many Pokemon with her strategy, the Steelix was directly responsible for fainting at least a quarter of the combatants through its sheer, raw power.

    She had been hoping that someone else would deal with it, but it was becoming more and more apparent that there was a fairly good chance of Echo being required to engage it. With a sigh of resignation, Lauren resolved to make a move before she potentially lost her best shot of defeating the titanic creature.

    "Wing Attack the Steelix's eyes!" Lauren instructed.

    Without hesitation, Echo went on the offensive against the monstrous Steel type. She circled round. Then, from its blind spot, she shot down with glowing wings. She quickly reached its head, her wing dragging against its ocular region, forcing it to shut its eyes as it roared out angrily.

    The Steelix swung its head like a gigantic club, trying to smack Echo away. She flittered back at the spontaneous attack narrowly missed her and then immediately lashed out against the Steelix's second exposed eye. It jerked back, causing her to narrowly miss herself, but Lauren was ready for that.


    She heard a confused exclamation from the nearby Milotic trainer, but it wasn't the Poison effect that Lauren was going for. It was true that Steel types were immune to Poison under most circumstances, but that didn't do a thing about the sticky substance physically obscuring the Steelix's vision.

    Echo spat the attack into the Steelix's face, causing it to howl again with a furious rage that made Lauren shiver. It swung its head again, missing entirely and earning it a second blind eye as Echo shot a retaliation Toxic into it.

    Now the Steelix was furious, rampaging wildly in Echo's general direction as its frantic trainer yelled after it, trying to calm it down.

    Lauren turned to the Milotic trainer, not having missed them taking out the last two other Pokemon.

    "Aww, you bought me a present!" They joked. "Hydro Pump!"

    Echo shot up suddenly as the Milotic attacked, unleashing a surge of powerful water like a cannon from its open mouth. Unable to see the attack incoming, too caught up in its fury to even attempt to dodge, the Steelix was stuck square on by an attack that didn't cease until it crashed to the ground and fainted as the ground shook under the weight of the impact.

    Lauren forced herself to stay perfectly upright, despite feeling like her legs wanted to give out. She had gotten a lot better at dealing with Steelix sightings for the most part but sometimes they caught her off guard and she wasn't quite recovered enough to deal with that.

    "You're quite the strategic one," The Milotic trainer said. It was the first time Lauren had really looked at them. They were short and quite androgynous in appearance, with almost feline features, strawberry blond hair that reached their neck and swept across their forhead and an azure off-the-shoulder top worn with jeans.

    "Thank you," Lauren replied, pleased to note that there was no shake in her voice. "You are too, I noticed that you didn't move around much and stayed under the radar. It was an interesting move."

    "Thank you too," the other trainer grinned. "I'm Roland Wright, pleased to meet you."

    "I'm Lauren Ipsum," Lauren introduced herself, shaking Roland's hand.

    "Your parents did not think when they picked your name," Roland replied, "It's nice to not be the only one with a dorky name being called over the speakers."

    "I can relate to that," Lauren replied as, sure enough, the commentator announced their progression to the next round.



  • I love that someone brought an Alolan Exeggutor and then after it used Earthquake all the Pokemon gang up on it haha. And oh, hi Niall.

    Oh dear over Lauren almost having a relapse over Steelix, though she seemed to overcome that in the end. I liked that she used Toxic to make it go blind.

    Woo, two more Battle Royales complete! Just one more to go, though not sure if that will be showcased since I think you have all the POVs covered there.
  • So What?
    "That's it for the final battle royale round. Congratulations to Boris Gallant and Alice North. Standby for a few minutes folks whilst we randomise the matchups for the tourney and then we'll take our intermission."

    Niall watched with a frown, the yellow group hadn't been particularly impressive he thought. The two that went through had been far more skilled than the rest of the pool and had easily breezed through without putting much effort in. Still, he'd watched carefully so he had an idea of what he was up against.

    The rest of the field is alright. The real threats though are the Lucario girl and the one with the Golbat. Milotic guy and Jolteon girl are maybe worth being careful of but I'm sure I can take the other three.

    His thoughts were interrupted by the announcer's voice. The matchups for the first round of the tourney had been randomised. Guinevere Wayne vs Roland Wright, Layla Sylvan vs Alice North, Lauren Ipsum vs Boris Gallant and finally it would be him against Eloy Chance, the irritating pink-haired guy from the gym.

    Niall looked across the trainer's room to where Eloy and a handful of other tourney competitors were gathered. He was joking with the blonde girl from his earlier battle royale, playfully snipping at her instead of thinking about his battle. The other two girls with him were quieter, at least they seemed to be taking things seriously.

    "That's all for now, we'll see you all back in thirty minutes after our intermission," the commentator said.

    On the television screens, Niall could see the crowd beginning to file out of the stadium. Around him, the competitors were also heading out in search of sustenance. He figured it would be smart for him to do the same, there couldn't be any distractions during the tourney.

    He joined the torrent of other people pouring out of the room, feeling the shoulders of the other trainers bumping into his sides. Ahead of him he noticed a man with sandy coloured hair in a lab coat, he was carrying a case and talking to a handful of the defeated trainers.

    "Wondering what that's all about?"

    Niall looked to his side surprised by the sudden voice. He hadn't noticed anyone coming up to him.

    The speaker was a woman in her late twenties or early thirties with a sharp face and long black hair tied up in a ponytail. Like the man Niall had noticed, she was dressed in a lab coat and carrying a metal case.

    "Maybe," Niall answered, unsure of the sudden appearance. He couldn't help but feel a sinister air coming from the woman that he companion clearly lacked.

    "They're interested in what we have in these cases," she said, smirking confidently.

    "Which is?" Niall asked, uninterested in playing games.

    "Vitamin solutions, very good ones." She unlatched the case, showing Niall several bottles from within. "They're of no use to peasants that can't even make it through the battle royales, but for a real trainer like you, I'm sure you've got some use for them."

    Niall narrowed his eyes. Really? This woman was going to insult his abilities by suggesting he would need to make use of cheap enhancers. He was beyond that sort of thing.

    "Real trainers like me don't need help from suspicious chemicals sold by irritating saleswomen pretending to be scientists. Get out of my way."

    Niall brushed past the woman, irritated at his time being wasted by such a request. Behind him he heard the woman sniping under her breath.

    "How does Clancy do this sales shit, urgh. Don't these people have the faintest idea who they're talking to?"​
  • Bounce Back
    As eager as he was to begin his own battle, Eloy wasn't about to waste an opportunity to observe future opponents. He was in the last of the first round battles, providing him with ample opportunity to study up on his opponents.

    Gwen was first up, battling the androgynous trainer from Lauren's royale, Roland. He had used a Milotic in the royale, Eloy remembered, but this time he used his other two entrants - a Scrafty and a Heatmor. Gwen also made use of a different Pokemon, choosing a Roselia. Unfortunately, Eloy wasn't able to see what her third entered Pokemon was. She defeated both of Roland's combatants with just the Roselia.

    Layla was up next. Unlike with Gwen, Eloy already had a pretty good sense of how Layla battled. She took on Alice, from the final royale, pitting a Salandit and Florence against a Drowzee and Ambipom. Alice took an early lead, her Drozee putting Layla's Salandit to sleep and then bombarding it with Psychic attacks until it was knocked out. Florence quickly turned the tables though, blitzing through both of Alice's Pokemon.

    Lauren followed, like Layla, Eloy had an idea of how she would battle. Sure enough, she was strategic and methodical, avoiding damage whilst making targeted strikes and stalling her opponent out with status afflictions. First, Echo defeated a Breloom. Then, she made a tactical switch to Mortimer who defeated a Beartic with casual ease. It wasn't an explosive and thrilling battle style, but it was easy to appreciate its efficiency and effectiveness.

    That left only Eloy and his opponent, Niall. He looked over at the taller trainer, Niall was looking at him like a predator sizing up his prey. It was uncomfortable, almost dehumanizing. Eloy didn't much like being looked at like fodder.

    The usher verbally nudged them forward and the two trainers stepped back out into the arena. The crowd began to cheer once more in earnest. Eloy couldn't help but grin back at the smiling audience, the atmosphere was intoxicating.

    "Good luck," he said as he reached his side of the battle field, turning to see that same predatory glare fixed on Niall's visage.

    "Lucks got nothing to do with it," Niall replied, striding past Eloy towards the opposite end of the field. Eloy thought he noted a slight shift in Niall's expression, a small smirk on his lips.

    "No sure how I should feel about that," Aloy muttered to himself.

    Once the two trainers were in position, the referee stepped forward. Keeping central to both competitors. He flipped a silver coin, catching it and slapping it down on his wrist.

    "Heads," he declared, "Niall will be first."

    With that the referee stepped back from the battle field, giving the trainers space. Niall didn't hesitate, reaching for a pokeball at his belt. He tossed it, the ball exploding into a flash of light that soon materialised into a humanoid Pokemon with a stern expression, peanut shaped body and springy legs; a Hitmonlee.

    Hitmonlee weren't super fast, but they were agile and acrobatic with a long reach for their powerful kicks. It made sense then to Eloy then, that the best choice would be the Pokemon that he knew could be quicker and even more agile than the Hitmonlee.

    "Deacon, you're up first!"

    Eloy tossed his own ball and a moment later, Deacon was bursting forward from the flash of pure white. He landed in front of Eloy, bouncing energetically on his feet and hopping tight circles. Apparently, Deacon was eager for the exercise. This was one occasion that Eloy was more than happy to provide it.

    "Commence the battle," the referee instructed from between them. Niall was quick to make the first move.

    "Pengju, Mega Kick!"

    The Hitmonlee dashed forward a few steps and then leapt for Deacon, his foot glowing with a ferocious red and white aura.

    "Duck under the attack and use Peck!" Eloy countered.


    Deacon ran forward, the Hitmonlee striking the ground where the Poison type had just been standing. Deacon whirled back then, lashing out with his horn and striking Pengju's other leg. The Hitmonlee winced, stumbling forward a step and falling onto his hands and knees.

    "Now, Poison Sting!" Eloy commanded, seeking to capitalise on Deacon's advantage.

    The tip of Deacon's horn lit up with the poisonous purple of the attack as the smaller Pokemon shot forwards.

    Suddenly though, the Hitmonlee's leg shot out behind it. Deacon screeched as his was caught by surprise and kicked hard in the face, tumbling back across the battlefield. Hitmonlee climbed back to his feet, rolling his shoulders and bouncing lightly. Eloy couldn't see the Fighting type's expression now, but the meaning of the gestures were pretty clear. He was just warming up.

    "You've got nothing on Pengju," Niall commented from across the battlefield. "My team are powerhouses."

    "We'll just have to see about that one," Eloy remarked. Deacon was up again now, his fur bristling with an implicit threat and Eloy was of the same mind: nobody was talking down to him or his team. "Deacon, Leer and then use Peck!"

    Deacon was running forward the second Eloy gave his instruction, determined to pay back the sucker shot he'd taken. His eyes flashed an angry red, the glow reflecting in the eyes of Pengju. Some of the tension seemed to visibly leave the Hitmonlee's body as his resilience was cut by the effect of the visual attack. Once he was close enough, Deacon followed up on the strategic move, jumping up and forward with his powerful hind legs in an attempt to strike Pengju's midsection.

    "Blaze Kick and then High Jump Kick!"

    Deacon's momentum was reversed as he took a flaming kick head on, being deflected and flying back the way he came in a spiral of flickering flames. Then, Pengju stepped forward onto the foot he'd kicked with a pushed off it, leaping up to a mountainous height. The Fighting type arced downwards with a foot glowing a burning orange.

    As Deacon tumbled back along the ground, he was struck from above by the powerful attack, smashing a small crater into the battlefield as Pengju landed on top of him with the attack and then bounded back.

    "Niiiii" Deacon practically growled, staggering up and out of the indent. The battle hadn't been going on too long, but Deacon was starting to look quite rough.

    "Look," Niall called over to Eloy. "Your Nidoran isn't bad, but it's clearly outmatched. Why don't you just forfeit before it gets hurt unnecessarily and we can just move on with things?"

    "What?" Eloy responded flatly, barely able to believe what he had just heard.

    "Last offer," Niall said, "Save yourself the embarrassment and just let it end."

    "Yeah, that's not going to happen. Right, Deacon?"

    "Ni!" Deacon chimed in defiantly, returning to an aggressive posture.

    "Suit yourself, Stone Edge!"

    Pengu stomped a foot on the ground as jagged pillars of solid stone began exploding up and out of the battlefield, moving rapidly towards Deacon.
    Deacon didn't need instructing on that one, he darted to the side as the Stone Edge closed in. Apparently, that was exactly what Niall was going for though.

    "High Jump Kick again!"

    Pengju leapt upwards, catching the side of one of the stalagmites he'd summoned and pressing his legs into it. From there, he launched himself off of the hard surface, shooting for Deacon like a living missile.

    "Deacon, look out!" Eloy called. It was too little, too late though. There was a resounding crash as yet another dent was pounded into the battlefield with Deacon at its epicentre. Once more, Pengju jumped back out the way of any possible counter attack.

    Deacon climbed back up again, swaying slightly, dazed by the force of the sudden aerial assault. He shook his head to focus himself, focusing his attention on Pengju.

    "Fine, let's see how you like being on the defensive then! Fury Attack!" Eloy commanded.

    With a battle cry, Deacon launched himself forward, keeping his body low to the ground with his horn pointed forwards like a spear. He closed the distance fast, pushing himself to his absolute maximum pace and began to unleash a flurry of jabs with his horn the minute he was in range.

    Pengju deftly stepped back, avoiding the first few attacks, but Deacon pressed on and quickly reclaimed the ground he'd lost on the offensive.

    "Rolling Kick!" Niall growled, unwilling to allow Eloy and Deacon to take his momentum.

    Pengju bounced forward into a half-tumble, easily passing over Deacon to where he landed on his hands. Deacon made a hairpin turn, correcting his course and making a leaping dive for the upside-down Hitmonlee. This was a mistake.

    Moving on his hand, Pengju spun himself like a top, delivering two quick and sharp kicks, halting Deacon's advance and knocking him down. The third kick came with a wider sweep as the fighting type simultaneously launched himself forward into a crouch. The attack caught Deacon square and sent him hurtling toward one of the stone pillars called forth earlier.

    "Mega Kick!" Niall called, all business, not giving Deacon the chance to recuperate. Pengju immediately flung his leg out with the glowing red and white attack. His leg extended reaching after Deacon at speed as the Poison type flew through the air.

    Deacon slammed into the rocky spire, sending cracks up through its surface as Pengju's kick reached him.

    "On the leg!" Eloy shouted in a desperate flash of inspiration.

    Deacon dug into the stone and pushed forward, springboarding off as Pengju's kick struck the pillar, breaking through it and raining debris down over the battlefield. He landed on the Hitmonlee's extended leg and began sprinting along it like a tightrope.

    "Like hell!" Niall snarled, "Pull back, Pengju!"

    "Horn Attack!" Eloy yelled.

    Pengju whipped his leg back as Deacon pushed off it, inadvertently yanking Deacon towards him with increased velocity. Deacon's horn glowed a vivid white as he shot forward and slammed into Pengju, sending him rocketing off of his feet.

    "Peck!" Eloy pressed the attack.

    Deacon lunged forward the minute he touched down, jamming his horn into the side of the still-downed Hitmonlee and sending him rolling again.

    Pengju skidded to a halt near the edge of the battlefield. This time it was the Fighting type who shakingly stood back up, struggling to cope with the abrupt turning of the tide.

    "We are not losing to this runt, Pengju!" Nial proclaimed, gritting his teeth. "High Jump Kick!"

    Pengju flexed his legs a few times, staring down Deacon. His eyes narrowed as he took off towards the Nidoran at his top speed. He leapt up high, his foot glowing the vivid burning orange as it had before. Then, he shot down like a tactical nuke.

    The move was off though, Eloy could tell. It was reckless, not the targeted and calculated risk that Niall had been employing before.

    "Forward, Deacon!"


    Deacon dashed forward as Pengju closed in on him. The end result being the Hitmonlee missing by a wide margin, slamming hard into the ground and leaving a gaping crater in the compacted dirt. The otherwise stoic Fighting type howled out with the pain of the impact and subsequent recoil damage. Eloy seized his opportunity.


    Deacon whirled on Pengju, rushing him before he could recover. His horn jammed into the injured Hitmonlee's back, smashing him forward out the crater and sending him tumbling. Pengju lay still, unable to continue.

    "No!" Niall growled, as though he could will a different result into existence.

    "Ni ni!" Deacon cheered, jumping around in place excitedly.

    "Well done!" Eloy congratulated his Nidoran as Niall begrudgingly returned Pengju.

    "Ni!" Deacon intoned again, suddenly swaying in place and flopping onto his side. He'd taken a beating early on and while he'd defeated Pengju, it seemed like that kind of brutalisation was still beyond his ability to endure.

    Eloy returned his starter, looking up to face Niall once more. The other trainer took several slow deep breaths.

    "Fine," he said to Eloy, "I can run with this. It's not over yet and I'm still going to come out on top."

    "Try me," Eloy responded, reaching for his second pokeball.

    Team Eloy
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven


  • Yeah I too would not accept that vitamin solutions offer. I have a suspicion those are bad news.

    "Look," Niall called over to Eloy. "Your Nidoran isn't bad, but it's clearly outmatched. Why don't you just forfeit before it gets hurt unnecessarily and we can just move on with things?"

    "What?" Eloy responded flatly, barely able to believe what he had just heard.

    "Last offer," Niall said, "Save yourself the embarrassment and just let it end."

    A bit much there, huh Niall? Deacon at least proved he was able to handle Niall's Hitomlee there. Looking forward to the second half of the battle!
  • Swords
    A pair of flashes signified the commencement of the next bout. In front of Eloy, the residual glow condensed, taking the shape of a small brown bird with a leek tucked under its. Ronin allowed the leek to slip forward, twirling it with one of his prehensile wings before sweeping it across himself and ducking forward in something of a bow.

    Across from the Farfetch'd, Niall's Pokemon also took shape. Larger than Ronin, blue and read with bladed limbs and fin-like protrusions. The Gabite bared its teeth, growling at Ronin. The Farfetch'd, for his part, did not waver, raiding the leek into a fencing stance.

    "There is no way that we're losing against a Farfetch'd," Niall crowed, his expression hungry for victory, "Saladin, Dragon Claw!"

    The Gabite didn't wait a second, he dashed forward as a glowing green blade extended from his clawed arm. He drew the weapon back, slashing outwards in a backhanded motion.

    "Parry it and use Peck!" Eloy responded, although he was pretty sure that first instruction wasn't needed having seen the way his Farfetch'd took so naturally to battle.

    Sure enough, with practiced ease, Ronin slipped his leek under Saladin's arm and thrust up, throwing the Dragon Claw off course and shaking the dragon's balance. Then, he jabbed his head forward, striking his opponent in the chest with his beak and forcing him to stagger back.

    "Press the attack with Leaf Blade!" Eloy instructed, feeling his confidence swell up within him as he watched his newest Pokemon so easily take control of the battle.

    Ronin's leek glowed a vibrant green as he lashed out in a slashing attack. With an audible thud, Saladin was slammed into the ground, sending up a thin spray of dirt as he collided with the battlefield.

    "Still think you'll come out on top?" Eloy smirked. It was very satisfying to take the early lead against an opponent who had not long ago been telling him he should give up to avoid embarrassment.

    "Yes!" Niall snarled, his tone echoed by a growl from Saladin. The Gabite had already dug his arms and legs into the ground, ready to push off with a counter attack. "Iron Head!"

    Eloy caught sight of Saladin's posture just before the attack came, his own command following not even a second after Niall's.

    "Deflect it with Leaf Blade!"

    A silvery, metallic glow emanated from the dome of Saladin's head as he very suddenly shot forward. Ronin swung up with his Leaf Blade and silver glow met green as the attacks collided only for the contact to instantly break as Ronin was slammed back with the force of the attack, his defences completely overwhelmed by Saladin's raw strength. Ronin was knocked skidding and tumbling over the earth as Saladin continued the offensive.

    "Slash!" Niall called.

    Even as Ronin was recovering, Saladin caught him, lashing out with one of his bladed arms. Ronin instinctively raised his leek to defend himself, partially mitigating the blow. Even still, he was still sent careening across the battlefield, smashing straight through one of the remaining Stone Edge pillars and sending a hail of stones falling about them as he landed with another violent tumble.

    "Yeah," Niall said, "I'm feeling pretty damn confident." Now it was his turn to smirk with a vindictive confidence even as Eloy's began to falter. Niall had made it abundantly clear that as skilled as Ronin was, he was dramatically outclassed in raw power.

    "Guess I'll be trying a different tactic there then," Eloy muttered to himself, watching as Ronin returned to his feet and shook himself off.

    "Try whatever you want, it's not going to work," Niall responded, overhearing the comment. "Saladin, Dual Chop!"

    The claws on the ends of Saladin's arms glowed bright blue as the Gabite ran forward, chasing after Ronin.

    "Up!" Eloy instructed, Ronin immediately tossing its leek into the air and flapping his wings. The Farfetch'd caught the leek in his beak as he took to the sky, moving out of Saladin's reach.

    Saladin growled from the ground beneath Ronin, evidently frustrated by the escape tactic. That emotion was mirrored by his trainer, who was staring daggers at the airborne Flying type.

    Eloy took that moment to think. He couldn't overpower Saladin it seemed, but he had a whole extra dimension of movement over his opponent and Ronin's skill on top of that. There had to be a way he could use that. Unfortunately, he didn't get much more time to plan before Niall had an idea of his own.

    "Smash the pillars!" Niall called.

    Saladin roared the affirmative, a shadowy blade extending out from each of his claws. He lashed out at the nearest pillar, slamming his attack straight through the stone. The pilar broke, tumbling down over Saladin and Ronin both.

    Ronin took off, shooting past the rubble as Saladin gave chase, destroying the next pillar in the sequence in an attempt to catch Ronin beneath it.

    "Keep dodging!" Eloy called.

    Ronin tilted, angling left and moving just beyond the reach of the falling pillar as it toppled just behind him. Saladin continued to give chase, sprinting behind Ronin as he dashed for the next pillar.

    "Circle round and Peck!" Eloy instructed as Saladin annihilated yet another stone protrusion, toppling the jagged structure over the battlefield. Ronin looped back around as the pillar hit the ground with a thunderous crash, sending debris and dust flying in all directions.

    Saladin wheeled around at a call from his trainer, but he still had Shadow Claw going and it was too late to switch away from the attack allowing Ronin to make use of his Ghost immunity. Ronin's beak struck Saladin like a spear, gravity-induced momentum increasing the force of the impact and knocking Saladin back into the wall of stone he'd inadvertently created behind himself.

    "Leaf Blade!" Eloy followed through.

    Ronin flapped back from Saladin as the Gabite reeled, letting the leek fall from his beak and catching it mid air with his finger-like wings. The Farfetch'd slashed with the green glowing weapon, slamming Saladin back into the rock once more. Then, barely touching down, he tossed the leek again and took flight, catching it in his beak again as flew over the fallen Stone Edge stalagmite putting the obstacle between himself and the Dragon.

    A wordless growl escaped Niall's lips even as Saladin turned and slammed himself through the stone barricade, the obstruction doing little to halt him but granting Ronin time to move out of the Ground-type's range.

    "Climb a pillar and the use Iron Head!" Niall ordered.

    Saladin made a B-line for the closest pillar, leaping up and digging his sharp blades and clawed feet into its surface and beginning to make his way up.

    "Slash it!" Eloy instructed as Saladin climbed. He didn't intend to give the Dragon the chance to attempt the jump.

    Ronin silently turned, flying straight for the ascending Gabite from the side. As he closed in, he dropped the leek, catching it with his wing-grip and letting himself fall the next several feet, delivering a powerful Slash as he fell past the Gabite. Then, he dropped the weapon, switching it back to his beak and flapping hard to regain his altitude.
    Saladin howled, but managed to retain his grip on the pillar. Eloy instantly realised his misjudgement.

    "Look out!"

    Saladin pushed off, shooting for Ronin like a missile as he fought to climb out of reach. Ronin couldn't ascend fast enough though and the Gabite's Iron head slammed into the bird full force. For the second time that battle, Ronin was launched straight through a Stone Edge pillar, slamming to the ground with an involuntary shout of pain.

    Saladin pulled up mid air, falling back onto his feet only to realise an error of his own as Niall shouted after him.


    It was too late though, the pillar toppled onto the Gabite as he brought his arms up to defend against the impact. There was a tremendous crash as the stone slammed into the ground, breaking over the top of the Gabite and delivering more damage than any of Ronin's strikes had.

    There were several long moments where neither Ronin nor Saladin rose. Each laying prone. Then, as one, both the Farfetch'd and Gabite struggled to their feet, the remains of the pillar between them.

    Eloy looked over them both, neither were looking great at that point, but he could tell that Ronin was the worse off of the two. He'd gotten a few good hits in, but he'd taken more damage than he'd received by some margin. Meanwhile, the most significant damage done to the Gabite had come from Niall's error with the pillar.

    "Time to finish this, Saladin," Niall growled, "Dragon Claw!"

    "Fencing again, you know what to do, Ronin. Leaf Blade!" Eloy responded.

    The draconic blade of energy extended from Saladin's claw as he rushed for Ronin, hopping over slabs of stone. Ronin didn't back down, holding his ground as the Dragon type approached.

    With a savage roar, Saladin leapt for the smaller Pokemon, swinging his Dragon Claw for Ronin's head in a downward arc as the leek the Farfetch'd held began to glow a vivid green. The attack came down, Ronin side-stepped, striking down on the top of Saladin's arm and causing him to fall forwards. Then, before the Gabite could faceplant, Ronin struck out with a backhanded attack, striking the side of the Gabite's head with his Leaf Blade and sending him staggering back in the opposite direction.

    "Slash!" Eloy yelled, seizing his chance as Niall yelled out.


    Saladin didn't have time to get his bearings, Ronin lashed out with the follow-up Slash, hitting the Gabite hard and knocking him from his feet. This time, the Dragon didn't return to his feet.

    "Niall's Gabite has been defeated. Eloy is the winner!" The referee announced, the judgement soon being echoed over the stadium PA system.

    Ronin staggered, but didn't fall. Instead, he twirled his leek and swung his wing across from himself, taking a bow in a repeat of how he entered the battle.

    A red beam of light shot past the Farfetch'd as Eloy ran forward to congratulate him, drawing Saladin back into his ball. Eloy embraced his Farfetch'd, the pokemon looking up past his head awkwardly at the display of affection.

    Beyond the bird, Eloy caught a glimpse of Niall already well on his way out of the arena. He stood up, grinning at Ronin as he returned him to his own ball and headed off after his defeated adversary. As he did so, the announcer spoke again.

    "That wraps up the first tourney battles, we'll be moving onto the second round in just a moment folks. The next battle will be Guinevere Wayne versus Layla Sylvan.

    Team Eloy
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven
    The Stairway to Heaven


  • Ronin is making full sure of his swordsmanship skills there, huh? The battle was much more energetic than last chapter's, my favorite part probably Ronin using Leaf Blade at Saladin near the end of the battle.

    So Gwen and Layla will battle next huh? That should be an interesting match.
  • Four Score and Seven
    Layla and Gwen stood next to each other in the passageway as Eloy headed back towards them, Niall have shoved his way through them moments prior. Layla wouldn't admit it in front of either of them, but seeing Eloy and Niall's battle had only further increased her hype levels for her battle with Gwen - and she was already looking forward to it.

    "You know," Layla said, looking across to her fidgeting companion, "As much as you've taught me, we don't really actually battle much. This will be a good measure of how much I've actually improved."

    "You've improved a lot," Gwen said, not looking back at Layla. Instead, she continued to fidget with her hands and stare fixedly out into the arena.

    "I suppose we're about to find out," Layla responded. Eloy had just reached them, which meant it would shortly be time for their battle.

    "Find out what?" He asked, having caught the tail end of the exchange.

    "How big of a fluke your win was," Layla responded instantly, sticking her tongue out at the pink-haired trainer. She glanced across at Gwen out of the corner of her eye, she wasn't sure what to make of the girl's expression. Amusement at her verbal jousting with Eloy seemed to have coloured her visage, but there still a nervousness to her.

    "What you're not impressed?" Eloy joked before Layla could think on matters further. She put her concerns aside, she knew that Gwen was perfectly capable of handling herself under pressure, even if her demeanour said otherwise. She had total faith that her friend could give her a battle worth remembering.

    "I suppose… it was impressive for you anyway. Maybe one day you'll even get to my level." Layla smirked at Eloy as the announcer called for she and Gwen.

    "Well I'll leave you to it then, Grandmaster." Eloy gestured out to the battlefield and gave a mock bow before turning and making his way back down the hall towards the trainer's room.

    "Alright, let's do this then," Layla said, not needing to falsify the excitement in her voice. She strode forward out into the arena.

    "...right." Layla heard a small voice utter behind her, turning to see Gwen moving forward with that same faint, nervous smile just a few spaces behind her.

    There was something disconcerting about the look on Gwen's face, but once more Layla put her worries to the side. Instead she looked up at the cheering crowd, waving at the people in the stands. She knew she didn't have to worry about Gwen. Her focus needed to be on how the hell she was going to beat her.
    Layla found her place on the far side of the arena, pivoting around on one foot to see Gwen in place, awaiting the referee's instructions. She didn't look comfortable in the spotlight, but that wasn't exactly a surprise. Layla knew though, once the battle started, the crowd would disappear and it would only be the two of them.

    She affixed a confident smirk on her face, staring down her friend-turned-competition. No point in letting Gwen see that she was well aware of how hard it was going to be to actually come out on top of the battle.

    "When you're ready, begin!" The referee announced and, just like that, it was time.

    "Edith, let's go!" Layla called on her Jolteon, the yellow Pokemon emerging onto the battlefield from her ball with a crackle of electricity and a challenge barked to all comers. Across from her, Ceres, Gwen's Roselia, had also taken shape.

    This time, Layla grinned for real. Of course, Gwen had anticipated her choice and chosen a Pokemon with a natural resistance to Electric moves.

    Not that a type disadvantage was likely to have mattered much to Gwen anyway, Layla thought belatedly.

    "Right," Layla began, diving into the battle headfirst, "Edith, Swift!"

    "Jolt!" Edith barked the affirmative as an array of star-like projectiles flashed to life around her and shot towards Ceres. The Roselia didn't even flinch, looking every bit as placid as her trainer had uncomfortable.

    "Toxic Spikes," Gwen instructed. It was an odd move choice given the circumstances, but Layla had seen Gwen battle before, she'd learned from her; she had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen.

    Cere's raised one rose-ended arm and fired a purple globule from it like a bullet. The slimey projectile collided with the first of the Swift stars exploding out into a shower of deep, purple caltrops. Each Toxic Spike flew outward and collided with an incoming projectile before dropping and seeping into the ground.

    "Work Up!" Layla was already giving the instruction before the sequence even concluded. With Toxic Spikes in play, she'd have to do as much damage as she could with Edith before even considering switching to her second Pokemon.

    "Sludge Bomb, Ceres," Gwen called, her Roselia never even dropping her aim. A second, more compact purple bullet of poison sludge shot out from Ceres' flower like a cannonball. The attack was perfectly timed, striking Edith hard and sending her rolling back even as the fierce orange glow of her boosting move overtook her.

    The Jolteon managed to maintain her focus and keep the move going, but that did nothing to mitigate the damage, nor the fact that she was on the ground and Gwen now had ample opportunity to set up her next move.

    "Sunny Day," Gwen continued,

    Ceres casually changed her aim, raising her arm toward the sky without taking her sleepy gaze off of Edith. A vibrant ball of light shot up like a flare, soaring high into the sky above the arena until it aligned with the sun just right. Then it hung there, spreading out into a vivid and bright glow as though the sun itself had turned itself up a few degrees for their battle.

    Layla knew what would come next and had no intention of giving Gwen the chance to have Ceres' use Growth.

    "Get up close and use Discharge!"

    Edith growled, rocketing to her feet and crossing the distance across the battlefield at a breakneck pace - much faster than most Pokemon could go without using an attack or a boosting move.

    The Jolteon reached Ceres as the Roselia stood at the ready, unleashing a wild omnidirectional blast of electricity at close range. Ceres was instantly engulfed by the deluge and was knocked off of her feet.

    As the Roselia rolled across the ground, Layla was about to press the offense. She knew that the Electric attack wouldn't do that much damage overall, but after a single Work Up, it was still a better bet that Stored Power. That being said, she had to either press the attack and relentlessly chip away at Ceres or she had to take the opportunity to set up further that had been presented to her.

    She glanced at Gwen, the other girl quiet, watching the scene unfold as her Roselia began to slowly and calmly return to her feet. With time of the essence, the sight prompted a memory and Layla quickly chose her plan of action.

    "Seize passive opportunities too, right," she muttered to herself before giving the command, "Work Up again!"

    "Jolt!" Edith answered, radiating the furious orange glow that was quickly becoming Layla's trademark.

    Layla looked across at Gwen once more, noticing that while the nervous energy was still present, her expression was now displaying a small, but genuine smile. Layla found herself grinning too.

    It didn't make much sense to her, but Gwen had always been weirdly pleased when Layla made good moves on the rare occasions they actually battled each other. As strange as it was to find her opponent encouraging, that small smile told her that she was making the right choices. Layla felt her confidence growing. This time she was in with a chance.

    "Charge Beam!" Layla instructed enthusiastically.

    "Giga Drain, Ceres," Gwen retaliated.

    Edith opened her maw, unleashing a brilliant yellow beam that crackled with an electrical charge as a green glow rose up from Ceres, rushing forward in tendrils. The Charge Beam collided with several of the tendrils of green light, the two attacks struggling against each other.

    Some of the Giga Drain snaked past though. Even as the Charge Beam and Grass attack explode against each other in a flash of colour, Edith was struck and knocked off her feet. It was essentially a glancing blow and Edith wasn't particularly hurt, but Ceres was still on her feet and hadn't taken the Charge Beam hit.

    "Growth," Gwen instructed, barely loud enough for Layla to hear from the other side of the battlefield.

    Ceres smiled as Layla looked up instinctively, squinting at the enhanced light that still radiated out from the earlier Sunny Day. Even as she felt a brief pang of dismay at that, a similar warm glow had overtaken Ceres' body and was shining out from the Roselia. The Grass type literally grew within the light, a slight but noticeable physical change. Not nearly as concerning as the staggering boost to Ceres' power that would come from using Growth under Sunny Day.

    Edith stood up, growling with determination as her fur bristled up further. A noticeable electrical charge washed over the pointed edges of the Jolteon's fur. Layla grinned, feeling her confidence stabilize. There was no need to panic yet, Ceres wasn't the only one who'd just gotten a stat boost and Edith was still packing the perfect weapon to use on a Poison type.

    "Edith, Stored Power!" Layla called, not wanting to give Gwen a chance to get ahead.

    "Sludge Bomb on the ground, Ceres."

    Even as electricity continued to spark over her fur, ribbons of pink and purple light were swirling into existence, around Edith, condensing into a sphere in front of her mouth.

    Ceres, still smiling placidly, almost as though she was in a daze, aimed her flower at the ground between herself and Edith. She waited patiently, calm despite the devastating attack that was soon to be sent her direction.

    Edith barked and the Roselia took that as her queue. She fired her Sludge Bomb, simultaneously pushing off with her feet. She let herself be thrown further back and up into the air by the force of the projectile as it shot out and struck the ground, sending a splash of goo into Edith's face.

    The Jolteon yelped with surprise, instinctively reeling back even as she unleashed her Psychic attack. The blast of yellow, purple and white energy went wide, shooting diagonally past Ceres and exploding like fireworks in the sky beyond, it's light mingling with the fading light of the Sunny Day.

    Ceres landed gracefully a distance away as Edith continued to shake the ooze from her face. Layla winced. She'd learned Ceres' moveset well enough and she knew that this was the optimal time to sure up any damage she had taken with a Synthesis.

    The healing move didn't come, instead, Gwen went on the offensive.

    "Sludge Bomb, Ceres. Rapid fire."

    Layla was so surprised she thought she imagined a moment of hesitation from the Grass type as she raised her flower like a gun, aiming at Edith as she started to shake off the last of the slime obscuring her view.

    Ceres fired off the first projectile, then immediately began to follow up. Again and again, the Roselia shot the toxic globules for Edith. The Jolteon though, had finally managed to extricate herself from her liquid blindfold.

    "Duck under the first one and use Stored Power!" Layla called, struggling to keep her excitement in check. She'd seen it, Gwen had finally made a mistake. This was her moment.

    Edith ducked low as the familiar strands of light spiraled and contorted, pulling into a perfect sphere by Edith's open mouth. Ceres adjusted her aim as the first few Sludge Bombs soared over the crouching Jolteon. Edith fired her attack.

    Cere's Sludge Bombs were eradicated within the ensuing enormous blast of multi-coloured light. An instant later, Ceres was also caught in the span of the attack. For the first time, a cry of shock was let out by the Grass type under the onslaught of the potent Psychic energy.

    The light faded and Ceres flopped face-first onto the battlefield, unmoving.
    "Guinevere's Roselia is unable to continue!" The referee announced, reminding Layla of his presence.

    Gwen's smile grew a fraction, as though she was almost happier to have lost. Layla shook her head, calling over to her friend.

    "You look almost pleased."

    "I am," Gwen replied, returning her fallen Roselia with a word of thanks. "You're finally getting the chance to show the world what you're made of and you're showing me how much better you've become."

    Layla suspected her expression at that was similar to that of her friend. She couldn't help but feel a swell of joy. Gwen was right, this was the opportunity she had been waiting for and it was going unbelievably well. She wasn't just putting on a good showing, she had just taken the lead against Gwen, who was unquestionably the most skilled trainer in the tournament. She couldn't remember the last time she had actually fainted one of Gwen's Pokemon.

    "I won't let it be a walk in the park though," Gwen added, releasing her next Pokemon.

    The ball opened, and the intimidating figure of Anubis soon materialised. The stoic Lucario analytically looked over the battlefield, noting Edith. He turned to look at his trainer.

    "You know what to do," Gwen said softly, nodding her head. Anubis nodded to her in turn, returning his attention to the battle.

    Here it comes, Layla thought.



  • Already in the first half of the battle you can tell Gwen and Layla's battle styles and how they gave out their commands. Layla is active and head on while Gwen is soft-spoken and calculated. Having seen Anbuis in the Battle Royale, it won't be a walk in the park indeed and Gwen will probably show a different side to her.