Well as promised here's Chapter 16. It took me a while (definitely an understatement), but it's here. Just as a recap, Ash and Misty left Syl Village after a brush in with the authority and now are on their way to Ash's next Gym battle. Hope you enjoy and as always, click on the spoiler button to show the new pokemon.
Chapter 16-Plenty of Fish in the Swamp
“No…no, get away from me! Stop! Stop! Stoooooooooooo-ahh!”
Ash awoke with a gasp and began to look around frantically as his chest heaved up and down, his body covered in cold sweat. It was now the break of dawn and he had just awakened from a terrible nightmare recalling only bits of pieces of it as he tried to piece it back together in his mind.
He groaned and rubbed his eyes wearily as he lay back down in his sleeping bag. He lost all interest in sleep after that dream so he decided he might as well get up and prepare breakfast. He rolled up his sleeping bag and put his shoes on so his feet wouldn’t touch the cold dewy ground. It was an unusually chilly morning and he shivered from the cold since he was dressed in just his undershirt and boxers so he quickly placed his pants and shirt on.
As he prepared the now customary ‘canned breakfast,’ not willing to risk his life to Misty’s cooking, Misty began to stir in her bag once she began to smell the aroma of the canned beans. She slowly opened her eyes and saw Ash hunched over a small fire he had prepared with a can in front of him.
“Hey Grumpy, what are you doing up so early in the morning?” she said as she yawned loudly. He turned and saw her looking at him lazily as she lay in her sleeping bag.
“Well I just had a terrible craving for canned beans so I just had to get up!” he replied sarcastically only to be met by a pillow in the face. She smiled back at him and yawned once more as she got up from bed. She ruffled her hair up a bit as she began to get dressed and started putting away her things as Ash continued to eat away at his beans, still thinking about the dream.
She sat right by him and pulled out her own can of beans as well as a spoon. As she began to warm it in front of the fire, she looked at it with distaste.
“Ash, either I start cooking or we buy something else besides canned beans from now on. I’m sick of feeling gassy…” she moaned as she clutched her stomach.
“Well I guess it can’t be helped; you are hot headed and all!” he said with a wide grin. She glared at him for the horrible joke and just stayed silent as she began to eat her beans, not willing to bear another corny joke. After a few minutes of silence, Misty broke the stillness of the morning with a question,
“So Ash why were you so up early in the morning?” He looked back at her as she looked at him curiously, can in hand with a spoon full of beans ready to be eaten.
“Well…I know it sounds kind of stupid, but I guess I’ll tell you anyway…
It was a nightmare, from what I remember, and it started off with me running, yelling, scared of what was chasing me. But…I couldn’t see what waschasing me… I couldn’t see anything at all! I kept running and running and running until…I started to fall. I kept falling and yelling until I finally woke up. I guess before I hit the ground…
After that, I couldn’t fall asleep, or even tried to. I was just too scared to even try…I know the dream wasn’t that scary at all, but…I was just really shook up for no real reason… I don’t know, it’s weird.” He looked back at her and could tell that she was deep in thought so he waited a while for it to sink in.
“You know Ash…Supposedly, dreams are supposed to have meanings behind them; you know, as if your mind was trying to tell you something. I think I’ll have to keep thinking about that dream though, I don’t what it could mean or why you felt that way…” She remained silent, a bit disturbed by Ash’s dream and its meaning, but she decided to drop it for a later time seeing as how Ash was starting to worry about her. She turned to him and smiled,
“Well anyway, I think we should start heading to Venox Village by now; who knows, the whole town might sink underground with the luck we’ve been having!” she said jokingly. He smiled back at her and nodded in agreement as they got up and put out the fire, leaving behind the cindering logs, huddled in a group to maintain what little warmth they had left…
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A few minutes later, they were back on the dirt road and on their way to the town, only a few steps away from the forested tunnel, light slowly fading away as they were shielded from it by the tall trees.
“So Ash, how do you think you’re going to do in this Gym battle?” Misty asked out of the blue, curiously looking at him.
“Well, I know for sure that we’re going to win no matter what!” he replied confidently.
“Oh really? Because from what I saw in the last Gym match you didn’t do so well,” she said slyly, egging him on.
“Hmph, what would you know about battling anyway? I haven’t seen you battle in years,” he replied burning in humiliation from her remark.
“Well I know that you won’t stand a chance against the water type with your current team,” she replied matter-of-factly.
“What makes you so sure that the next Gym is a water type Gym? And besides, I have Pikachu with me, right buddy?” Pikachu happily replied as he hitched a ride on Ash’s shoulder, giving him a warm smile in response.
“Well… First of all, let’s look at the facts OK? It’s in a swamp right? And a swamp is made out of water and mud? Soooo, do the math! I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gym leader had a Ground type thrown in there for cocky chumps like you!” she teased smugly, content with the look of utter disbelief on Ash’s face as his mouth gaped open.
”How can she do that?” he thought in his head, clearly not fully understanding it even though it seemed to make perfect sense.
“See Ash, that’s why you need me. If I wasn’t here you’d be-” As she spoke, a passing stranger abruptly slammed into her shoulder, interrupting her as well as knocking her off balance. She quickly turned around and yelled at the back of the passerby,
“Hey next time, you should look where you walk next time! Usually that’s how normal people do it!” she screamed as the man stopped suddenly in his tracks. He turned around slowly and he was grinning, much to Misty’s surprise. He looked at her with his deep red eyes and with a cocky smile for a dose of, what he thought in his head, coolness. Everything about him reeked of overconfidence: he wore a black trench coat with its collar popped up and it was made out of luxurious velvety fabric that he wore loosely on his tight blood red tee. His faded tight dark blue denim jeans were ripped and torn in various places and had a silver chain hanging outside of his right pocket. The gold chain around his neck sparkled secretly as it hid underneath his red shirt and his straight black hair was completely spiked upwards at an angle as he leaned slightly from where he stood.
He smirked and stretched his hand out,
“Hey, my name is Dante; I was wondering maybe if you weren’t doing anything later on, that we’d go out some time; maybe later on tonight, beautiful?” he added with a wink of his eye as he flashed her his perfect white teeth. The look on Misty’s face showed just how deeply confounded yet embarrassed she felt from randomly being asked out by a guy on the road that bumped into her. She quickly glanced at his outstretched hand then smacked it away with her hand. The sound of the palm of her hand striking the top of his resounded sickly in the air and the bold young man quickly grabbed his hand in pain.
“What kind of response is that?! You’ve got a lot of nerve coming up to me like that!” she yelled, slightly flustered by his behavior. A brief look of annoyance flashed on his face for a second and he turned his head away briefly, muttering something,
“No one ever rejects my offers…” He quickly shook his head and turned back to her with the same droop-eyed expression. He nodded towards Ash, who was standing behind her looking curiously.
“That your boyfriend?”
“WHAAAT?!?! Of course n-” The back of Misty’s hand came crashing into Ash’s mouth, silencing him.
“…Yeah.” Ash looked at her startled from the floor, gripping his mouth as he could feel the blood coming on. Misty’s face was a deep red and she avoided Dante’s gaze, but her voice was strong enough to at least fend him off.
He scoffed and walked past Misty, standing directly in front of Ash as he wiped his mouth.
“Hey you, is that your Pikachu?”
“Yeah, why?” Ash asked as he picked himself off the ground, wiping dirt and dust off his clothes.
“You’re probably a trainer…” he speculated while rubbing his chin, “a trainer not from around here…So…You were most likely invited to participate in the Muntein league through an invitation, am I right?” he smirked, confident that he had guessed correctly.
“Y-Yeah…but, how did you know all that?” Ash asked, extremely amazed at how a complete stranger could know so much about him at a glance.
“It was a simple deducing method. Listen, I don’t have time to explain things, alright? I just want to battle you since you seem like a strong trainer,” he replied in a careless tone, most likely not believing it himself. The main reason why he really wanted to battle him was so he could impress Misty by making Ash look bad. He smirked as he saw Ash reply without hesitating.
“Alright, then, I accept your challenge!” Ash yelled with excitement. “But, I gotta warn you, I’ve already earned two Muntein Gym badges,” he said confidently as he flashed the two badges pinned on the inside of his jacket.
“Oh really, two badges?” he said with feigned amazement. He reached into the inside of his jacket and gripped the pokeball strapped to his belt as he lurched forward.
“Guess I’ll have to go easier on you then…” Ash growled at his cocky attitude and shot his finger forward.
“Alright Pikachu, let’s show him who’s boss!” Pikachu leapt forward from behind his trainer and looked fiercely at the opposing trainer, waiting for his opponent.
“Get him, Igriff!” Dante growled as he held the pokeball in the air. He then threw the pokeball over his shoulder and his pokemon leapt out of the ball with a shriek as he spread his magnificent wings, gliding over his trainer and landing on the field with a massive thud, all the while scattering flakes of snow onto the field as his coat glimmered in the sun and snow: Spoiler:- 11:
“What is that thing?!” Ash said as he reached into his jacket and pulled out his Pokedex.
“Igriff, the Crest Pokemon. 7’ 8” Ice/Flying: These pokemon live only on the peaks of the highest mountains, earning their name as well as their typing. Their feathers are as rigid as ice and therefore very valuable as traded items. They are also obsessively territorial, to the point where they will attack anyone who even glances at their nest, increasing their rarity. Igriffs are also extremely prideful, making them difficult to train. A trainer owning a tamed Igriff is as good enough a testament to their own strength.”
The slender Pokedex closed as the last sentenced echoed in Ash’s mind:
“A trainer owning a tamed Igriff is as good enough as a testament to their strength… Does that mean this guy is really that good?””
He glanced nervously at Dante; his figure was relaxed, but rigid. He kept his hands in his pockets at all time yet his pokemon did not once waver in total obedience. Add to the fact that that specific pokemon was one of the hardest to train in the whole region of Muntein… Ash could see where he fell compared to this guy in front of him.
His hand quivered and his breathing was quick and fast. Sweat fell down his face and he looked at his own hands. The battle hadn’t even started and he was already getting this nervous?! No, that’s not how he was going to go out!
A female voice came shouting from behind him,
“Go get him Ash, you can DO IT!” He smiled confidently and his nerves instantly calmed down. Win or lose, he was going to show this guy who he was and that if they ever meet again, he would be sure not to underestimate him, Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town!
“Alright Pikachu, Quick Attack!” he yelled with an air of regained confidence as his pokemon disappeared in a flash. Dante, however, remained in his place and did not command his pokemon to do nothing. This worried Ash a bit, but he knew he wasn’t going to go down easily.
“Stop and use Thunderbolt, now!” Stopping a few steps away from his rival, Pikachu charged up a Thunderbolt and was about to unleash it when Dante issued his first command.
“Slash attack into Stomp, Igriff!” Without a moment’s hesitation, the beast reared up one of his arms and launched it at Pikachu as he unleashed his electric attack.
Igriff winced at the super effective attack as the electricity coursed through his body, but he carried out his attack, first slashing Pikachu across the face with his razor sharp talons then, with his other arm, crushing Pikachu’s small body against the dirt.
The electricity stopped flowing and Igriff panted in exhaustion as Ash looked on with horror as the griffin began to singe from the electrical attack.
“Lift him up into the air now Igriff!” Igriff pushed down harder on Pikachu with enough strength that Pikachu bounced off of the ground and was floating in front of him.
“Now use Wing Attack!”
“Pikachu, counter it with an Iron Tail!” Both attacks collided with awesome force and sent both assailants flying backwards before Dante called out again,
“Hit him with an Ice Beam to finish him off!” Without taking a moment’s rest Igriff quickly recovered from the attack and hit Pikachu midair with the stream of frozen energy, freezing Pikachu in the process as he landed onto the ground.
“Pikachu!” Ash began to run to his partner’s side when Igriff let out a barbaric yell and leapt from his position, flying to Pikachu’s frozen body prepped to attack once again.
Ash and Misty both looked on in terror and she immediately screamed,
“Call him off!” But in a brief second, Igriff had already shattered through the ice around Pikachu’s body and struck him with another swipe of his blade-like claws.
Ash gasped in horror and leapt in front of his pokemon as Igriff reared back for another attack. Without a single word from his master, Igriff launched his attack at the human laying in front of him as Misty screamed in terror.
Ash felt the claws dig into his skin, ripping through his shirt and tissue at the same time.
Now Misty was yelling at the top of her voice threatening to release her pokemon on Dante unless he recalled his Igriff back into his pokeball. The trainer merely scoffed and with a flash of red energy, the Crest pokemon was gone and back into the security of his ball.
Standing up from the ground, Ash looked at Dante with utmost disgust as he bared his teeth at him.
“What the heck is your problem?! You could’ve seriously hurt Pikachu!” all the while ignoring the fact that blood was streaming from three long gashes in his side. “If I hadn’t jumped in…” He turned to look at his pokemon sadly, his Pikachu breathing in short gasps of air while dirt stained his face and body. He looked back at Dante with fury, but he seemed indifferent.
“First of all, it’s not my fault if Igriff decides to do things against my accord. He is after all, from the wild…” he replied with a shrug. Ash clenched his fist and raised it before Misty grasped it within hers and lowered it only to quickly pull it away after realizing she had touched his hand.
After seeing their reactions towards each other Dante scoffed again with a sly grin as a thought popped into his head,
“You two really aren’t aren’t a couple are you?” They both looked back at him with surprise and then looked away from each other embarrassedly.
Dropping the awkward moment behind, Ash spat out another question at Dante as he began to walk away from them,
“What kind of way is that to battle anyway? You put your pokemon through a lot of pain just so you could land some cheap attacks!”
“I think you should ask yourself that question; you are the one that lost…” he retorted sarcastically as he turned around.
“Besides, I knew that poor excuse you call a trained pokemon couldn’t handle my expertly trained one,” he said with a flimsy wave of his hand as he walked away.
“Oh and one more thing…” he said, stopping in his tracks and turning around slightly to look at them with his hands in his pockets.
“If you expect to do well in the Muntein league, you’re going to have to battle way better than that! There are going to be trainers there who you can’t even begin to fathom how much training they’ve gone through just to prepare for that moment; trainers native to Muntein and visiting, just like you,” he said with a vicious sneer.
“Though, now that I think of it, if the foreigners battle just like you then I’ve got nothing to worry about!” He scoffed and with that said and done, he began to walk away from them, letting his words sink in like a freshly sharpened dagger.
Ash’s blood really started to boil after it all hit him and he was about ready to drop Pikachu and beat the living daylights out of him until Misty grabbed him by the shoulders seeing how riled up he had gotten.
“Don’t waste your energy on this guy Ash, he’s not worth it…” she whispered into his ear as she also looked at Dante with contempt. He shook with rage as he felt his head throb from the adrenaline rush he was receiving from his body, but regardless, he let himself get held back by Misty.
“See you guys later!” Dante said with a sinister grin as he looked over his shoulder at them then he added as he turned around to face them,
“Hope you have more than two badges the next time you face me, Ash! Maybe then you’ll last more than a minute against me!” He then burst out laughing as he continued walking backwards, not watching where he was walking.
Ash growled as his face burned in shame and anger mixed into one sensation; if it weren’t Misty, he was sure he would be pummeling this guy’s face to an unrecognizable pulp by now.
Dante wiped a tear from his eye and he began to turn around when his foot caught a stone on the ground, causing him to fall flat on his face.
Ash and Misty stared back in disbelief at the fallen man until he got up quickly and feverishly patted the dust off his jacket. He began to reorganize himself and fiddled around with his jacket until he paused and glanced back at them. He realized that they were gaping at him with widened eyes so he began to creep away before turning at the next corner and disappearing into the forest.
“Well, that was…unexpected,” Misty replied in disbelief as Ash nodded his head slowly before snapping back to reality upon hearing his Pikachu wheeze and cough.
“Jeez, I almost forgot! We got to get into town right now!” And he sprinted off into the forested tunnel with Misty dashing behind him yelling about how he had to cover up his cuts, leaving Dante, and his warning, behind them…for now.
part two down below...