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Thread: Good Love Charm (Advanceshipping, PG-13)

  1. #51
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    Anytime, Gazmof!

    Now, to the review.

    Dawn's eyes instinctively closed as Drew pressed his lips against hers and she began to lose herself in his embrace. She could hear Piplup loudly protesting by her feet, yet somehow the Pokemon seemed to be worlds away from the girl and all she could see was Drew and herself embracing in a field of beautiful stars.
    There is more to this than it meets the eye...

    "Drew..." she whispered underneath her breath, her eyes glancing down to the single, blue rose in her hand.
    Drew's intentions are not good! The rose is a giveaway...

    "What I mean, Ash," Brock reasoned, sitting back up in his chair and resuming his serious expression, "is that I think May and Drew used to date."
    ARGH! MY EYES! Oh, USED to, that's better.

    Well, it's not much, but it's "My two cents" by Kent Brockman

    until your next installment;

    Smell ya later,

    Sp1derp1g
    Last edited by Sp1derp1g; 1st March 2008 at 1:27 AM.
    What Happens..., an AmourShipping fic.
    Read it if you want, I won't force you.
    Also, read my Amourshipping drabble, about Amourshipping.

    "An inspiring book on overcoming life's obstacles."
    New York Times 4-8-2016

    Write it down on your calendars.


    We're experiencing technical diFICculties,
    Please stand by.


    While I'm gone, I'm gonna read the whole of AmourShipping thread. Wish me luck.

  2. #52
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    I'm glad you've got a new chapter up and running so soon!


    "Oh, and by the way, May..." he added, turning and admiring her blue eyes which glared back towards him. "By the time this contest is over you'll be begging to be with me."
    No expression can possibly describe this statement.

    "Heh, anytime." he replied, his eyes covertly trailing the girl as she walked past, zooming in towards her behind. "Anytime at all..."
    You know...that could come off the wrong way.
    But it's probably meant to seeing what happens later.

    "Couple?" Ash stammered uncertainly. "You mean like a double-battle partner or something?"
    Aah, but Ash DOES know what couple really means. Watch Bicker the Better again
    It was funny nonetheless, so I don't mind.

    "Roselia." Drew began, smiling at his prized Pokemon as he always did. "May I please have one of your roses?"
    So that's where he gets the roses from.
    It's so obvious.

    'Whoever knocked me out back there is going to pay dearly for this...' he thought, snarling from underneath the gag.
    Paul is angry. This day will go down in Team Rocket history; the worst mistake of their lives.

  3. #53
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    O.O will be anticipating the day Butch and Cassidy getting owned by Paul's elite Pokemon team.

    Nico you a****le!!! Your face is going to have an appointment with BOTH my shoes and fists if you don't watch out!!!

    Does a blue rose mean anything =S?

    This is the start of a brand new journey...

    FF.Net +
    PB + DA + Blog

  4. #54
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    Well what do you know, an update and...fast o.o

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    'Ugh,' her thoughts spoke to her, 'why do you have to be so naive, Ash Ketchum?'
    Because PokéShipping and AdvanceShipping wouldn't be so fun if he wasn't

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "Heh, anytime." he replied, his eyes covertly trailing the girl as she walked past, zooming in towards her behind. "Anytime at all..."
    YES ! He's showing signs of hormonal male teenage reactions !!! *shot*
    I suppose this will be something that triggers Ash's attention, that's my theory anyway

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "Say, you guys look kind of familiar..." Brock wondered out loud, his eyes carefully examining the film crew. "Do I know you from somewhere?"
    Another running gag, besides them never recognising them, is that Brock always suspects something...
    Now normally, this leads to disaster further in the episode, let's see xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "Couple?" Ash stammered uncertainly. "You mean like a double-battle partner or something?"
    MWAHAHAHAHAHAAAA !!!
    I LOVE IT XD THE DENSENESS IS KILLING ME !!
    Sadly, he'll always be like that imo But hey, that's why we have fanfiction

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "Sorry, Dawn." Drew sighed, moving away from the girl and releasing his grip on her hand gently. "It looks like we're rivals from now on."

    With that the young coordinator flicked his fingers through his lime-green hair and turned to walk away, Roselia swiftly following, leaving Dawn and Piplup to watch them leave.

    "Drew..." she whispered underneath her breath, her eyes glancing down to the single, blue rose in her hand.
    The whole part with the rose was sweet, and I believe that this was the first trace of him being sincere, or he really has his act together, and copletely in control of his plan...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    Come to think of it, Misty was probably more than capable of defending herself.
    Ouch No comment

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "What I mean, Ash," Brock reasoned, sitting back up in his chair and resuming his serious expression, "is that I think May and Drew used to date."
    *enjoys moment of triupmh*
    It's obvious that it happened, but this is your fanfiction, and I respect what you do with it
    But I feel like saying thanks
    *keeps on reading*

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "And now, ladies and gentlemen!" Alisa announced eagerly. "It's time for our last quarter-final match between former teammates Dawn Hikari and Drew Blackthorne! Coordinators, please have your Pokemon take the stage! On your marks... Get ready, and... Battle!"
    I'm assuming May passed ? Of course she did

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    Just wanted to take this moment to thank shadow_shipper and sp1derp1g for them nominating for this as the best Advanceshipping fic and me as the best Advanceshipping author in the Shipping Oscars 07/08 ^^; It's really flattering, so thanks a lot you guys, I've never been nominated in anything like that before so I'm really grateful; it made my day ^^ Thanks also for the nomination for Bayleef-tan, Shadow ^^
    Heh, no problem, you deserve it
    Especially for Bayleef-tan, it was awesome

    And yeah, this chapter seemed shorter, but nonetheless, very enjoyable as always
    Keep it up, see you ^^

    edit @ kawaii serebii : a blue rose means mystery, and in Chinese folktale, the blue rose signified hope against unattainable love...how sad :/
    Because of serebiiforums, my Life has been put on hold...

    ...wait, that sounds wrong...
    ...yeah, it's the other way around.

    My Works : A, B, C, D, E

  5. #55
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    Oh, I am really, terribly sorry for not replying earlier than this. DD'x
    School's been at my bum since I'm part of the academic achiever's blah blah blah whatnot class, who gets pummelled with yards of homework everyday.

    And so, I shall try to finish this belated post without typing my fingers to death.

    Ash~ w00t, our little Ashy, has become...a MAN! :S *tear*

    May~ You went out with DREW - How...how could you?!! *shot*

    Brock~ Eh, not much to say. xDD

    Drew~ Damn you [insert's beeped word here] - giving Dawn a blue rose! Do you know what that represents?! Guess you did, being the efffin, twofaced --beeped-- that you are!! (O.o;; Man, I must be angry.)

    Dawn~ Honey, I feel for ya...eck, now I sound like Drew! D8

    Nico~ Now, you are one guy I am devoted to, yes I am. Perverted child = drama/angst! 8DDD

    Aw, I lost what else I was gonna say to ya Gazzo, apart from that I voted for ya! But I put four names down for people who are most able to be successful authors one day and you were one of them. Though three names were allowed for that award; sorry. I feel so bad. ;_;

    Anyways, great chapter - no chapters; so to say, and Keep Writing.

    Sayonara,

    a_a
    Last edited by anime_aficionada; 4th March 2008 at 7:30 AM.

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sp1derp1g View Post
    ARGH! MY EYES! Oh, USED to, that's better.
    Heh, yes, at times it felt like I was writing a Contestshipping fic... Maybe shadow_shipper's starting to get to me @_@;;;;

    Quote Originally Posted by EarthBorn View Post
    You know...that could come off the wrong way.
    But it's probably meant to seeing what happens later.
    Hehe, yup, that was intentional, so your eyes were not deceiving you ^_~

    Quote Originally Posted by EarthBorn View Post
    Aah, but Ash DOES know what couple really means. Watch Bicker the Better again
    It was funny nonetheless, so I don't mind.
    Oh snap; this is what I get for not watching the anime in months. And to think that that's one of my favourite AG eps, too...

    Quote Originally Posted by EarthBorn View Post
    So that's where he gets the roses from.
    It's so obvious.
    Haha, yeah, I never truly believed Drew went and bought them for May...

    Quote Originally Posted by EarthBorn View Post
    Paul is angry. This day will go down in Team Rocket history; the worst mistake of their lives.
    Ah, Paul... It pains me to hurt you so...

    Quote Originally Posted by kawaii serebii View Post
    Nico you a****le!!! Your face is going to have an appointment with BOTH my shoes and fists if you don't watch out!!!?
    Hehe, yup, and that's the kind of reaction I was wanting from you guys

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_shipper View Post
    MWAHAHAHAHAHAAAA !!!
    I LOVE IT XD THE DENSENESS IS KILLING ME !!
    Sadly, he'll always be like that imo But hey, that's why we have fanfiction
    Gah, too true my friend, too true indeed..

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_shipper View Post
    The whole part with the rose was sweet, and I believe that this was the first trace of him being sincere, or he really has his act together, and copletely in control of his plan...
    I must admit, Drew is a lot of fun to write and I'm glad you're enjoying it

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_shipper View Post
    Ouch No comment
    Haha, honestly I meant that as a compliment to Misty. I for one would not want to cross her path ^^;;;

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_shipper View Post
    *enjoys moment of triupmh*
    It's obvious that it happened, but this is your fanfiction, and I respect what you do with it
    But I feel like saying thanks
    *keeps on reading*
    Ouch... *winces* Yeah, but don't expect it to stay like that for too long, okay? ^_~

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_shipper View Post
    Heh, no problem, you deserve it
    Especially for Bayleef-tan, it was awesome
    Actually I honestly thought you were joking about the nominations earlier... And yay, glad you liked Bayleef-tan. That was actually my first 'shippy fic so *dances*

    Quote Originally Posted by anime_aficionada View Post
    Oh, I am really, terribly sorry for not replying earlier than this. DD'x
    Aww, it's okay, a_a, I was just worried I'd lost a valued reader ;.;

    Quote Originally Posted by anime_aficionada View Post
    Nico~ Now, you are one guy I am devoted to, yes I am. Perverted child = drama/angst! 8DDD
    Haha! Now I wasn't expecting that! Guess I'd better start a Nico fanclub or one-shot or something-*gets thrown off stage*

    Quote Originally Posted by anime_aficionada View Post
    Aw, I lost what else I was gonna say to ya Gazzo, apart from that I voted for ya! But I put four names down for people who are most able to be successful authors one day and you were one of them. Though three names were allowed for that award; sorry. I feel so bad. ;_;
    It... It's okay ;.; I'm sure I'll survive ;.;

    And hey it was just nominations... The voting still has to begin, right? Or something... To be honest I'm not really sure how the whole thing works @_@;;;

    But yes, thank you all for reviewing
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    Hehe, yup, and that's the kind of reaction I was wanting from you guys
    Oh, you wanted agresssive comments? You have found the right girl who does that

    This is the start of a brand new journey...

    FF.Net +
    PB + DA + Blog

  8. #58

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    Hehehe, excellent chapter as always The only reason I messed the other one is because I didn't check on it.T_T But yeah, I really like how you did the interaction between Drew and Dawn, something's bound to happen like in those soap operas... but much more interesting. XD

    Secondly, I still like that Nico guy, he got quite some character in him. Hahaha, I'd touch May like that too, but Ash would probably kill me. But anyway, enough bout me, it's really nice how you made Ash considerate to May's feeling, but he's such a dunce when Brock is explaining the situation between Drew and Dawn... hahaha, it's so likely.

    And man, Team Rocket... it's so like those 3 to goof up a good plan... XD but you got to love them for that.

    Anyway, can't wait for some more. =D
    I waste my life away on Nico Nico Douga.

  9. #59
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    it is a good chapter. I like how dawn and drew have something because this is so unexpected, and how you created Nico and how he effects the story. The only thing i dont like is team rocket but i hate team rocket in any shipping.

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    This is a great fic. I hope you haven't abandoned it as it's been over a month from the last update. ;_;

    I hope Ash sees some action(lol no pun intended) soon though. It almost seems like he's been relegated to a secondary character for the most part. Hope that changes soon! ^_^

  11. #61
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    Man, I forgot how long it's been since I added the last chapter... @_@;

    Thanks to everyone who's reviewed since I was last here and no, Steve, Shaymin; don't worry - it hasn't been abandoned at all. I saw the previous reviews and kept wanting to update but this chapter is proving really difficult to put together just the way I want it. I'd like to consider myself a perfectionist, so I don't want to just rattle out some half-baked chapter and then realise later on down the road that it didn't do everything I wanted it to.

    Also, for those of you who have seen the latest DP episodes in Japan:
        Spoiler:- DP Anime Spoilers:


    Basically I'm just asking you to try and remember that this fic isn't trying to keep up-to-date with the anime - as I mentioned before, I don't want it to be rushed.

    And yeah, thanks once again to everyone who's nominated for me (and I won't be letting you guys down) and this fic - it hasn't been abandoned; not by a long shot - it's just taking time to put this latest chapter together, but be sure to check back soon because you never know when I'll surprise you all! Sorry to keep you all waiting ^^;;

    Thanks for all the concern, everyone - it's really appreciated ^^
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  12. #62
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    Don't worry about that Gaz, fics rarely keep up with the anime. I don't even watch the anime, I just like the couple, so that doesn't bother me in the slightest.

    Keep on writing mate, and hopefully you'll get the chapter right soon.

  13. #63
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    OK, I might as well do this.....

    I've been luking in the 'visitor section' of this site for a while now, and have been following this story. Guess what?

    I love it! It's a great story, even if it's short atm. I don't mind the fact that it's now out of sync with the anime, any fic that tries to be for long ends up failing in the long run.

    Oh yeah, since I can't comment on them anymore, I also loved the Xmas AS story and Bayleef-tan. The former because it was so well-written, as well as being really cute, and the latter because I'm a HUGE Chikoshipping fan. Kudos to you on those.

    Anyway, I'll stop gushing over your stories now. I think you can count on me to be a regular reviewer, since my skills at that have been increasing lately.

    I eagerly look forward to the next story!
    Dave
    Former OSL Water Gym Leader, PASBL League Official, TL6, A- Ref, Dark Gym Leader, Fizzy Bubbles

    Random arts by DaisyInari


    Feel like a different style of battling? Where your Charizard isn't useless
    because your opponent has Stealth Rock up? Why not check out the:

    Pokémon Animé Style Battling League!

    ASB has it's own subforum where you can can start with a basic squad of whatever
    first-stage Pokémon you want, and work your way up! Not sure how to begin?
    We have a Getting Started thread that covers the basics, plus you can ask for help in our Time Out Chat Thread.


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    Thank you, thank you :D Always nice to see a former-lurker leave a review ^^

    Here it is, finally - thanks for all your patience. I think I finally got this chapter right:

    Chapter Seven:
    May's Confession

    "You know I can't go easy on you, right Dawn?" Drew's voice checked from the other side of the bare arena as the crowd of spectators watched closely, waiting for the familiar sight of the coordinators' Pokemon to appear on the stage.

    "I..." Dawn stammered a little at first, her left hand moving up to her hair where the blue rose the boy had given her was now firmly clipped, double-checking it was still there and in one piece. "I understand."

    Upon hearing the girl's answer Drew's hand reached down and removed a single Pokeball from his belt, his thumb pressing down gently against the central mechanism and causing the device to enlarge, fitting snugly inside his palm. He raised the ball towards his opponent and smiled as he admired the flower which was clipped into her hair.

    "Okay, then..." he began, his eyes now focusing on the centre of the battlefield as he reminded himself of what needed to be done. "Then Absol, come on out!"

    Dawn watched unflinchingly as the arena was swamped in white light which gradually receded like a reluctant tide, revealing Drew's familiar Dark-type Pokemon; Piplup's former partner and now rival. It watched Dawn with cold apathy from the other side of the arena, its white fur as glimmering and immaculate as ever - just the way Drew always liked it to be.

    'Poor Dawn...' Brock sympathized in his head as he watched the girl clearly struggle with her emotions, her eyes wandering from the Pokeball in her hand, then back to Drew. 'I can't imagine what that girl is going through right now...'

    "I'll be right back, you guys." Ash stated, turning and shuffling his way out of the crowd of spectators and towards the backstage area outside.

    "Ash!" Brock called after him, though he got no response.

    "Pika!?" Pikachu squeaked in confusion before looking up towards Brock.

    "Let him be, Pikachu." Brock insisted. "He won't be long."

    "Pika..." Pikachu sighed, its eyes returning to the impending battle in the centre of the stadium.

    "...Fine." Dawn accepted after a moment of silent reflection. "Then I choose you, Piplup!"

    The young coordinator threw her Pokeball up into the air, causing a flash of bright, white light to spill out and engulf the stadium like a wave of water crashing against an unprepared shore. The light slowly receded, and Piplup began to bounce in place, eying its opponent confidently.

    "Piplup!" it squeaked bravely.

    'I'm not going to let myself get emotional about this...' Dawn quietly reassured herself, her lower lip trembling slightly as she looked at the confident, charismatic boy who was smiling at her knowingly from the other side of the stage. 'I won't...'

    "Lup?" Piplup asked concernedly, turning its face to see its trainer.

    There was another moment of silence as Dawn closed her eyes, doing her best to avoid her Piplup's worried gaze. Why did she have to get so involved in this? Why couldn't she separate her heart from her head? This was just a battle like any other; it didn't matter whose face was smiling at her from the other side of the arena. She had to win!

    "Go! Piplup!!" Dawn yelled suddenly, pointing her finger and startling both Pokemon that were on stage slightly. Her eyes were open wide and her face was covered in a look of solid determination. "Peck attack!!"

    ~*~*~

    "The crowd is going wild with excitement!" Alisa's voice echoed through the tent's loudspeaker, her commentary in perfect sync with the action that was being displayed on one of the many television monitors inside the backstage waiting room where May sat, completely absorbed in the action that was being screened.

    "Dawn..." she whispered, a gasp of worry escaping her lips as she spoke.

    "May?" Ash's sudden voice snapped the beautiful young coordinator out of her trance, causing her to jerk her face towards its source awkwardly.

    "Ah! Ash!" she exclaimed, rather surprised to see the boy. Though it wasn't a bad surprise; it could never be described as bad when Ash was involved. "You came to see me?"

    "Of course!" Ash chuckled, making his way over to the girl and sitting beside her on the bench, causing her face to flush a slight shade of pink from his sudden close proximity to her. "I had to congratulate you on your win; you were totally awesome!"

    "Ah, thanks!" May replied, smiling happily - she was so glad that he really cared about her performance that much; unlike some other boys her age. "It was easy to win when I knew that..."

    She blushed for a moment, turning her face away and staring down at her feet blankly.

    "Huh?" Ash stammered. "When you knew what?"

    May giggled to herself, her heart pounding. She couldn't believe that she was saying it, but when she was around Ash she didn't care about taking chances - it was exciting and she hoped it wouldn't freak him out, but his constantly reassuring smile made her doubt that.

    "That you were watching me..." she finished, her face now coloured a bright, strawberry pink.

    Ash gasped for breath for a moment; a strange, hot sensation was rising in his stomach, though he didn't quite understand what it was. Well, come to think of it, he hadn't eaten in a while...

    "Uh, so," Ash stammered, quickly changing the subject in order to avoid dwelling on the new feelings settling into his body, "the semi-finals, huh? Do you know who your opponent's gonna be?"

    "No, not yet." May responded, turning back to look at the boy. He was mere inches away from her and yet he felt so far away. She felt an overwhelming urge to reach out and touch his shoulder, but she was afraid that he would just shrug it off and she wouldn't feel the warmth in his body that she felt for him. "It'll probably be announced at the end of this match."

    "This is amazing!" Alisa's voice snapped the two young friends' minds away from their idle banter and immediately their focus was on the television monitor hanging directly in front of them. "How brutal! Dawn's Piplup is utterly helpless against Absol's barrage of attacks! And the clock hasn't even passed the one minute mark yet!"

    "D-Dawn..." Ash breathed as both he and May watched in awe and shock as Drew's Absol tossed the tiny penguin Pokemon from one edge of the stadium to the other with powerful blasts of its Water Pulse attack.

    "Drew's not holding back at all..." May added, seemingly surprised at this turn of events.

    Ash's eyes followed a path from the television set to the young coordinator, then back to the set, and back again. He suddenly remembered the emotions which stirred in his heart earlier; thoughts of May - his friend - with Drew. Smiling, laughing, having fun... Holding hands?

    "May..." Ash began, a frown now painted on his face. His voice caused the girl to turn away from the television monitor and look to her friend. His eyes were watching the ground uncomfortably and his hands were in his lap, fingers tangled nervously.

    "Ash?" she asked worriedly. "I-is everything alright?"

    She slowly reached out a hand to touch the boy but suddenly stopped, as if knowing that now wasn't the right time, and that her touch wouldn't be welcomed.

    Ash breathed in deeply for a moment to clear his head, then began to talk, hoping that his emotions wouldn't splice his words into an unintelligible stream of nothingness.

    "May," he attempted weakly, "did you and..."

    He swallowed hard as he tried to speak the boy's name.

    "You and Drew... Did you..."

    May leaned her face closer to the boy, causing him to quickly turn the other way, his heart furiously pounding against his chest.

    "Ash?" she spoke gently, her voice as soft as the warmest pillow.

    "I just!" Ash exclaimed. He could feel his face getting hotter and hotter as the seconds passed by without remorse. "I just wanted to know if you two... If he was your..."

    May's eyes glanced down to her lap in dismay, knowing what her friend was about to say. It was uncharacteristic of Ash to ask such things, but she had been expecting it for a long time.

    "If he was your..." Ash continued. "Your... Boyfriend..."

    There was a large, uncomfortable silence for a moment; the kind which seemed to sap away the energy from an entire room and replace it with a dark, gloomy veil of depression. Ash's final word continued to resonate in both of their heads for a moment, and May felt her fists clench tightly as her mind repeated it over and over, each time slowly growing in volume.

    Boyfriend... Drew... Boyfriend...

    May swallowed nervously before speaking, trying to blank out the image of the young coordinator's face which seemed to invade every aspect of her.

    "...Yes..." she finally admitted, turning away from Ash in order to hide her face as she felt a tear begin to roll its way down her cheek. Why did it have to hurt her still, when she promised herself it wouldn't worry her anymore?

    "Oh." Ash replied, still refusing to turn towards the girl. "Then I..."

    It felt like agony; as if his heart had been shattered into a thousand pieces and it could never be put back together again. It was Drew - the man who had everything anyone could ever want: adoring fans, dozens of trophies, fame, fortune, admiration; and now, most importantly, Ash's best friend.

    "I'm sorry." Ash said simply, getting to his feet and walking away.

    "...Ash?" May stammered, turning around to see the back of the boy as he headed towards the waiting room exit.

    "I-it was none of my business anyway!" Ash continued, forcing himself to turn, his eyes tightly closed and his face wearing the best smile he could muster. "I'm sorry, it was a stupid question to ask you."

    "Don't leave!" May insisted, leaping off the bench and dashing towards the boy, who jerked back a little in shock.

    Ash's heart seemed to leap up into his throat as he felt the girl grip his wrist tightly. Though he felt the white glove she wore pressing against his skin, it was almost as if he could feel her; her palm was so warm and though her grasp was tight it was by no means uncomfortable - in fact it was somewhat reassuring.

    Ash immediately stopped in his tracks and turned his head slightly to face the girl side-on.

    "M-May?" he stammered, unsure of what else there was to say.

    "I..." May continued, sniffling slightly as she continued to stare at the ground in an attempt to hide her tears from the boy she admired and respected so deeply. "I don't want you to leave like this..."

    The two friends stayed there for a moment - it was as if they were the only ones in the room and the only sound that could be heard for miles was the beating of their hearts and the occasional sniff of May's nose.

    "May, what-" Ash began, turning to face the girl and turning his wrist so that his hand was now holding her own. Almost immediately he felt that old, familiar warmth he used to love so much during their adventures together in Hoenn. "What's wrong?"

    Another few moments of silence passed as May struggled to form the words in her throat, afraid that the boy might release the grip he held on her and walk away. She didn't want things to be that way - she'd messed up in Kanto and now it could never be the way it was when they had started their journey together; just the two of them; May and Ash - the boy she had always...

    "May?" Ash reconfirmed, stooping down slightly so that their eyes were level, yet still she refused to face him.

    "Ash, I..." May's hand squeezed tightly back against the boy's own as she tried to formulate her emotions into a coherent sentence. "I'm sorry..."

    Suddenly she turned to face the boy, looking straight into his dark eyes, the sapphire shades of her own slightly wobbling as she fought back the tears she was trying so desperately to hide.

    "I'm the one who should be apologising!" she exclaimed suddenly. "It wasn't fair of me to just leave for Johto like that! We never even said goodbye properly! I was stupid and naive and a total idiot and-"

    "May, calm down!" Ash tried to reassure the girl as best he could. He suddenly felt the girl press her head against his chest as the tears finally took over and she began to sob uncontrollably. Though he was more than a little surprised at how upset his friend was, he wasted no time and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close and running his fingers through her long, silky brown hair.

    Ash considered his potential actions for a moment before speaking up once again.

    "What... What happened?" he asked, the comforting tone of his voice touching the girl's heart like a gentle touch on a harp's string. Immediately she began to feel more at ease, but refused to loosen the grip she had on the boy's shirt, deciding to stay as close as possible to him as she continued to lean her head against his chest. "In Johto, I mean."

    "I was an idiot for leaving you guys." May confessed, her hands trailing over the boy's arms and wrinkling his black shirt. Upon feeling this, Ash instinctively pulled the girl closer to him, holding her tightly on the spot.

    "I never should have fallen for him." May sniffled, and Ash could tell just how long his friend had been bottling up all of these emotions inside of her. "But he would always give me roses, and he would always compliment me... And the way he used to smile at me whenever I walked by..."

    It was only now that May realised that this was the first time Ash had ever held her before. She couldn't remember the last time she was this close to the boy; they were practically on top of each other and there was an undeniable chemistry in the air as he began to lean his chin against her forehead gently. This fact reassured her, and so May continued with her story.

    "It's just that," May continued, sniffing again, "well, I thought he was the one... And everyone else seemed to say so. And people always used to tell me how lucky I was to have a guy like Drew liking me so much..."

    "May..." Ash whispered uncertainly.

    "Even my Mom!" she exclaimed, her voice seeming to turn from sorrow to anger as she spoke now. "He fooled everyone! The great coordinator, Drew Blackthorne, and me... Little May Maple. The girl who's nothing without him."

    "Hey, May, what are you talking about?" Ash asked with concern. "You're an amazing coordinator - look how far you got in the last Grand Festival! Nobody can take that away from you; you even beat Drew!"

    "No, you don't understand, Ash!" May sighed, lifting her head to look into his beautiful, dark eyes. "I'm his rival and that's all anyone ever cares about! Whenever people talk about me that's all they say!"

    May broke her grip on the boy and turned away in frustration.

    "'May Maple?'" she imitated her critics bitterly. "'Oh yeah, that girl who Drew Blackthorne lost to that one time.' I'm not my own person! I'm always playing catch-up with him!"

    May suddenly felt Ash's arms wrap around her waist and he pulled her gently towards his body. For a moment May forgot her anger and allowed a blush to cover her face as she felt his gentle touch over her stomach.

    "May." he whispered gently to the girl who stood frozen like a statue in his arms. "You're the greatest coordinator I've ever seen, and I don't care what anyone else says."

    "Ash..." May breathed, turning her head so that she could look into his gentle, reassuring eyes once more.

    "And you're wrong." he said knowingly. "Because I've always believed that, right from the start."

    "Ash..." May repeated, her blush intensifying. He was so close to her right now that she could feel his breath gently caressing her face. Her heart pounded and her stomach tightened into knots as she gently closed her eyes and moved forward, her hands gliding over his chest affectionately. To her surprise Ash made no resistance and slowly the two of them moved closer and closer towards one another.

    May's mind was filled with thoughts that were rushing through her mind like an overly-anxious tornado. Could this be it? The moment she had been dreaming of ever since she arrived on that ferry in Johto? The moment she had always secretly desired, but never dared to admit - even to herself? Was this really going to be her first kiss with Ash?

    May's eyes were shut tight and she did her best not to allow her anxious lips to form into a smile as she felt the two of them moving inexorably closer to one another until finally a loud voice yelled and caused them to jerk away suddenly, very embarrassed.

    "Well well well if this isn't young love blooming on the contest circuit!" a familiarly obnoxious voice belonging to a redheaded reporter boomed into her microphone. "I never knew you twer-uh-kids had it in you!"

    "Woah!" May coughed in surprise, turning towards the intruding TV crew and pointing her finger disapprovingly towards them. "Hey, you know most people consider sneaking up on a couple to be rude, you know!"

    "Oh, couple, huh?" Jessica Roquet teased, flashing a grin as her spectacles caught the waiting room's light and reflected it back with a dazzling shine. "Well that's cute and all, but if you want to attract a real man you're going to need to do something about that mousy brown hair of yours, missy."

    "Mousy!?" May growled, feeling the anger boiling up inside of her as she stepped towards the older woman defiantly whilst Ash simply stood beside her looking incredibly bemused. "I don't think most guys find grey hairs attractive either!"

    "I'll have you know there's not a single grey hair on my beautiful head, you little runt!" Jessica snapped back in reply. "At twenty-three I'm far too young to have such problems!"

    "More like forty-three, am I right?" the voice of Nico Cyrax mocked from behind the reporter, causing the woman to spin on the spot, her teeth grinding as she heard the words being uttered from the young coordinator's mouth.

    "You little brat!" Jessica hissed, glaring at the boy with eyes like daggers. "What would a kid who wears a jacket like that know about looks or fashion? You're lucky I'm not competing in this contest or you'd-"

    "I'd beat you without even breaking a sweat." Nico interrupted confidently before turning to face Ash and May.

    Jessica could feel the anger rising inside of her as she began to hit her boiling point. All three of her comrades looked nervously to one another, the entire group knowing what was about to happen. It had become very easy to predict Jessie's behaviour after these many long years of working and travelling together. Nico, however, had never had the displeasure of such an experience.

    "Alright, that's it!!" Jessica yelled, pointing straight at the boy, who simply stared back at her, clearly unimpressed by the increased volume of her middle-aged voice. "I've had it with you little punks!"

    "You forget your vitamin pills this morning or something?" Nico asked in a gruff tone, causing Jessica to boil over with rage.

    "James!" Jessica snarled, grabbing the timid cameraman at her side by the scruff of his neck and dragging him towards the backstage exit of the waiting room. "Come on, we've got work to do!"

    "Work, huh?" Meowth groaned underneath his cap as both he and Wobbuffet followed Jessie and James to wherever it was they were headed. "Why do I get the feeling that we're the one's who are gonna be doing all the work?"

    "Wobbuffet!" Wobbuffet agreed.

    Ash, May and Nico all watched in silence as the camera crew disappeared into the darkened halls at the back of the carnival tent, grumbling and complaining as they went.

    Unbeknownst to any of them, however, there was another pair of eyes that were viewing the whole scene from the shadows just beyond the light of the waiting room. They were dark brown and seemed to shimmer as their owner's lips curved into a confident smile. There was a slight hiss as the figure brought a radio transmitter to his face and activated it.

    "Cassidy." he spoke softly so as not to be overheard by the nearby coordinators who were eagerly awaiting the start of the semi-final round. "I've found our little runaways. Seems like they're not planning on helping us out anymore."

    "Hmph." the female Team Rocket member's voice replied casually from the device's speaker. "I should've known Jessie couldn't be trusted."

    "What should we do?" Butch questioned.

    "Leave it to me." Cassidy chuckled. "I think our little friends have just given us the perfect scapegoats for this operation..."

    ~*~*~

    Ash made his way through the backstage of the carnival's tent. It was dark and gloomy here; the deceptively vast hallways illuminated only by the faint glow of slowly-draining solar-powered lights which lined the ground unevenly. It made sense that the lights were dimming, as the sudden chill which seemed to engulf the tent was evidence enough that dusk had come and night would soon follow. Ash shivered a little at the thought of being out in the cold without a jacket and glanced down towards the floor.

    He kept running his earlier confrontation with May over and over in his mind. Try as he might, he just couldn't get the young girl's words out of his head.

    'I'm not my own person!'

    Ash stopped walking for a moment, the darkness all around him feeling suddenly comforting; as if it were wrapping around him and keeping him warm. He had no idea that May had been contending with such emotional issues since leaving him for her adventures in Johto, and though he had accepted the fact that she had followed Drew instead of him, he still felt responsible for looking after her - even though she had been so far away for so long. Perhaps if he had followed her to Johto and abandoned his plans of going to Sinnoh - it wasn't as if he had finished his Battle Frontier challenge on a low note, was it?

    Ash shook his head - that was crazy talk and he knew May would agree. That was what was always so great about travelling with the coordinator - if he ever felt down she was right there next to him ready to cheer him up and tell him to look forward to the future.

    He sighed a little as he remembered his adventures through Hoenn fondly.

    "May..." he whispered to himself, but was quickly cut off as his ears detected the faint whimpering of a girl up ahead.

    Ash continued to follow the source of the voice, which detoured away from the main path of the hallway and to a small, obscure corner that was tucked away behind numerous camera and television equipment. From here Ash could make out a figure, but it wasn't until he stepped forward and the girl lifted up her face to identify the intruder that he realised who it was.

    "Dawn?" Ash stammered. The young coordinator's face was blotchy with tears and in her hands she held a single, blue rose.

    "Oh, Ash..." she sniffled her reply, wiping her eyes as she glanced back down to the floor. "What are you doing here?"

    "Oh, I, uh," Ash mumbled, quickly trying to think of an excuse as to why he missed the girl's battle, "I had to go to the bathroom..."

    There was a moment of awkward silence that was broken only by the intermittent sniffing of the young girl who sat in a heap, her arms pulling her legs close to her body as she rocked gently back and forth.

    "You saw it, right?" she asked meekly, not making eye contact with the boy. "You saw how I lost?"

    Ash gave himself a mental kick as punishment. He had never expected his conversation with May to take quite so long and he had never expected her battle to finish quite so quickly. Of course he knew that if he simply explained the situation to Dawn she would understand, but something inside of him made him hesitant to do so and instead he simply lied. It wasn't out of malice or indifference that he did it - that wasn't the kind of person Ash was - but there was an unseen emotion inside of him that simply refused to mention May to the girl.

    "Yeah..." he finally answered. "But come on, Dawn! You gave it your best shot, right? There'll be other contests, you know."

    "Yeah, I know..." Dawn whimpered again, closing her eyes tightly. "But Drew..."

    "Drew?" Ash repeated, then noticed the blue rose that Dawn was tightly clutching in her hand.

    "He gave this to me..." Dawn explained. "He... I thought he really cared about me..."

    "Dawn..." Ash sighed heavily. He had already seen May cry once today and that was more than he had ever wanted to see. He hated to see people upset, especially those who were so close to him.

    "Hey..." he commented, suddenly noticing the lack of Dawn's first Pokemon by her side. "Where's Piplup?"

    "I put it in its Pokeball." Dawn replied gloomily. "I didn't want my friends to see me... Like this..."

    Moments seemed to pool into minutes as the two friends stayed huddled in the corner, Dawn's eyes transfixed by the blue rose in her hand. The entire hallway was silent, save for the very distant roar of the crowd as the first match of the semi-finals began.

    "He kissed me, you know." Dawn spoke up suddenly, causing Ash's eyes to widen in surprise. "I know it's stupid; I only knew him for a few hours, but... I really thought for a moment that..."

    A few seconds passed.

    "That maybe he loved me..."

    "Dawn..." Ash murmured.

    He didn't know what to say. Anger was coursing through his veins as he thought of the boy who had hurt not one, but now two of his friends. Ash couldn't begin to understand the pain that the boy had inflicted on the two young coordinators - he had never been able to even grasp the idea of love before, let alone the pain of rejection.

    He felt so useless. He wanted to reach out his hand and pull the girl up - tell her to snap out of it or reassure her that it was just a match, and that perhaps Drew really did love her and meant it when he'd kissed her. But deep in his own heart he knew it wasn't true. Drew had toyed with May's affections and now Dawn was his newest plaything.

    Ash was incensed, but he remained calm and simply closed his eyes, breathing deeply. There was nothing he could do to make it right. Not right now, at least...

    "I don't understand..." Dawn continued, lifting the rose up so that it could shine in the faint light of the hallway, its petals almost glittering. "I knew I didn't stand much of a chance... But he was just so cold; so uncaring. It was as if he was trying to hurt me the whole way through..."

    Again Ash said nothing, his eyes trailing the blue rose and admiring its strangely decadent beauty. Now that he thought about it, he'd never even heard of blue roses before. He always knew that red was supposed to symbolize love or romance, but what did blue roses stand for? Did they even stand for anything? Was Drew trying to send a message by choosing that colour, when he had always given May the opposite?

    There wasn't any time for the boy to consider this question when he suddenly felt a large, sturdy hand grip his right shoulder tightly. The young trainer craned his neck up to see who the stranger was and was surprised to see an older man with a dark beard and mustache wearing a very stern expression on his face.

    "Just what do you two think you're doing here?" he asked with an intimidating tone that made both Ash and Dawn suddenly feel very weak. "This section is off-limits to the public!"

    "Ah, sorry!" Ash managed, struggling against the iron grip the man had on his shoulder. "We were just-"

    "I got lost on my way to the waiting room, sir." Dawn lied quickly, getting to her feet and placing the rose behind her back as if to try her best to forget about it. "I'm sorry; it's my fault."

    The man was clearly unmoved by the young coordinator's tear-streaked face and simply glared down at her, slowly easing the pressure off of Ash's shoulder as he released the boy.

    "You're the girl who just lost in the last round, aren't you?" he asked interrogatively, causing Dawn to stammer a little in surprise at his directness.

    "Y-yes..." she admitted. "Why do you ask?"

    "You need to pick up your Pokemon from the front desk and leave." the man stated coldly, then turned his attention towards Ash. "And you; you aren't a coordinator. This place is restricted."

    "Fine." Ash replied, obviously not happy about the man's blunt attitude. "Come on Dawn, let's go get your other Pokemon."

    "Not you." the man interrupted once again, placing his hand on Ash's shoulder once again. "This place is open only to coordinators. You need to return to your seat."

    Ash was silent for a moment, staring back into the man's eyes defiantly. They simply glared back at the boy and refused to blink even once.

    Though the man had a rather average build, there was an aura to him that made him seem much stronger and far more powerful than he first appeared. Perhaps it was his aggressive stature or the way his eyes seemed to penetrate the young Pokemon trainer, but Ash knew that it would be best not to argue - he had enough problems worrying about May and Drew.

    "Okay." Ash finally complied, turning to Dawn one more time. "You did great out there, Dawn; don't worry. I'll see you in the main hall in a minute."

    "Thanks, Ash." Dawn replied, and the two trainers headed towards their separate destinations as the man adjusted the top hat that was sitting snugly on his head, his eyes prowling the corridors as if he was ready to pounce on them as soon as they made a wrong turn.

    "Heh..." he chuckled to himself once the two young trainers were out of earshot. "Like taking candy from a baby..."

    ~*~*~

    "And now for our first semi-final match-up, ladies and gentlemen!" Alisa's voice echoed throughout the carnival tent as two coordinators took up opposite places on the contest stage. "This is going to be an incredible battle of two extremely talented Pokemon coordinators! Please welcome back Drew Blackthorne and Nico Cyrax, everybody!"

    The crowd roared eagerly at the names that were recited and soon the lights had been dimmed and the television monitor which was situated directly above the central stage was lit up by the faces of the two rivals. From across the width of the stadium both Nico and Drew stared at each other knowingly, confident smirks painted on both of their faces.

    "It's finally time, Glalie." Nico whispered to the Pokeball that he held tightly in his palm, poised and ready to be hurled into the air at any given moment. "Let's take this little punk down."

    Drew simply smiled as he watched his opponent from afar, the roars of the crowd giving him a surge of energy which washed over him from head to toe. Drew closed his eyes and threw his chosen Pokeball into the arena, causing a splash of white light to cover the dimmed room as his Absol emerged impressively before the audience.

    "Absol!" the creature snarled, coiling on its hind legs as if it were a spring that was ready to launch into the air at a moment's notice.

    "Let's do this!" Nico yelled, throwing his Pokeball into the stadium as if he were a baseball player throwing a highly-anticipated pitch. "Glalie, come on out!"

    Glalie's battle-cry was shrill and seemed to chill the very air in the room with its every utterance. The Ice-type Pokemon launched itself out of the light of Nico's Pokeball and hovered anxiously across from Drew's Absol, its frosty blue eyes scanning for any signs of weakness the opposing Pokemon may have been trying to conceal.

    "The trainers are ready! The Pokemon are ready!" Alisa commented on the megaphone, her voice barely audible over the constant cheering of the crowd, who seemed to have forgotten the time and the fact that night was swiftly approaching. "The question is: are you ready? Let the semi-finals begin!!"

    "Absol, Flash!" Drew declared, his Pokemon immediately responding to its call and leaping towards the enemy, its blade-like horn quickly absorbing what little illumination the stage had to offer and blasting it out towards Nico's waiting Glalie.

    "Glalie, Headbutt!" Nico responded, watching as his Pokemon dived towards the opponent, its icy fangs glistening against the light of Absol's Flash attack as it went sailing towards it.

    "Perfect." Drew remarked, pointing his finger towards the oncoming Glalie. "Absol, get in close and use Iron Tail!"

    "Sol!" Absol acknowledged its master, spinning back on itself and leaping into the air, its dark-blue tail taking on a metallic glint as it careened towards the Ice-type Pokemon.

    "Crap!" Nico cursed. "Glalie, dodge it!"

    Nico knew it was too late for his Pokemon to dodge the attack and winced as he watched the super-effective hit crash directly into the creature's forehead. Shards of ice splintered and shattered across the stage, causing several members of the crowd to gasp in both shock and awe that Drew had ordered such a powerful attack at such close range when both Pokemon had been travelling at an extremely high speed.

    Glalie grunted a little, shrugging off the attack and attempting to regain its composure. It had little time to do this, however, as Drew's Absol continued its barrage of attacks and forced the Ice-type into a defensive position. Nico watched his Pokemon helplessly for a moment, trying his best to think up a strategy that could turn this match around.

    'Damn, he's good...' the coordinator thought to himself as he watched the scene unfolding. His eyes scrolled up to the counter, which was already rapidly approaching the end of the match's first minute. 'I can't afford to take him lightly...'

    The beautiful young coordinator named May appeared in his mind for a moment, and he smiled to himself, quickly regaining his confidence in a matter of seconds.

    'Just you watch, little May,' he considered in his mind, 'I'll show you exactly how pathetic your Prince Charming is.'

    "Glalie!" Nico yelled, regaining his composure as he bellowed his orders. "Lift up!"

    "Get back, Absol!" Drew ordered, watching his Pokemon obey and retreat towards the safety of Drew's corner of the battlefield. Drew watched his opponent closely, frowning slightly as he did so.

    'What's he up to?' he wondered.

    "Heh heh heh," Nico chuckled confidently, "Glalie, use Spikes now!"

    Glalie seemed to bellow furiously at the sound of its trainer's voice, then proceeded to spew a vast array of icy projectiles down onto the contest stage at terrifying speeds. The spikes were enormous and looked sharper than a Scyther's blades, their keen edges reflecting the light of the stadium eagerly, as if they were daring the wary Absol to come closer and pay the consequences.

    Absol darted across the battlefield, doing its best to avoid the shower of icy splinters which seemed to cover the entire area. Drew's eyes drifted towards where the scoreboard was - his points were rapidly diminishing whilst Nico's were steadily on the rise. Nico had managed to completely change the pace of this battle and was looking good whilst doing it.

    "Absol, Razor Wind!" Drew demanded. "Draw the air from the ground and fire it back up at that Glalie!"

    Absol complied as best it could, dodging several more shards of ice which came sailing towards it. The Dark-type Pokemon then attempted to focus its energy, whipping its head around until it finally began to summon a miniature cyclone that was concentrated around the navy, blade-like horn that extended from the side of its head. Soon the thousands of frozen spikes that Glalie had rained down onto the floor of the stadium were back in the air and circling the stage like a vicious whirlwind that threatened to pull the hovering Ice-type Pokemon into its treacherous depths.

    "Gla!" Glalie uttered, its eyes closed as it tried its best to resist the inexorable pull of Absol's steadily-charging Razor Wind attack. "Glalie..."

    "Now let them have it!" Drew shouted, pointing up towards the struggling Glalie. "Fire that Razor Wind!"

    "Absol!!" Absol screeched, swinging its head one final time and launching the cyclone and its razor-sharp contents directly towards Nico's Glalie.

    "What a beautiful attack!" Alisa admired, the crowd cooing with awe and admiration at the spectacular scene - it seemed as though a thousand daggers were dancing towards Nico's Glalie, poised and ready to strike. "Drew has managed to not only turn a dangerous situation to his advantage, but he's also showcasing the most beautiful effects that his Absol can muster! This is a truly incredible performance!"

    "Dammit!" Nico cursed loudly. "Glalie, dive down and use Earthquake! Shake this whole stadium to pieces and bury that fur-ball!"

    "Glalie!" Glalie complied eagerly, opening its eyes and diving down as the cyclone shot narrowly past its horns, its eyes intensely focused on the ground below.

    Drew smiled and stood as motionless as his Absol, their expressions both filled with apparent apathy as Nico was preparing to use his Pokemon's most powerful attack. They analysed the falling Ice-type closely; the creature was moving with such force that it looked as if it were a meteorite falling towards a flattened horizon, but neither Drew nor Absol showed any signs of worry.

    "This is the end!" Nico announced confidently. "Just try and dodge this!"

    Drew smirked before replying. The moment was finally right.

    "Absol, use Water Pulse on the stage floor to propel yourself up." he finally ordered, causing Nico to take a gasp in disbelief.

    Absol did as commanded, focusing a stream of water to shoot itself into the air just as Glalie's body smashed into the stadium floor. The entire tent reverberated at the impact of the quake, but sure enough Absol was safe, landing back on the soaked stage mere moments after Glalie's Earthquake attack had dissipated.

    "Not bad." Drew admired, sending a satisfied grin towards Nico which caused the young coordinator to fume with rage.

    "That does it!" Nico roared. "Glalie! Throw everything you have at that thing! We're taking this punk down! Ice Fang!!"

    Glalie bellowed furiously and charged towards the waiting Absol who dodged its frenzied assaults with an elegant grace befitting any Pokemon that belonged to such a legendary coordinator like Drew.

    Brock eyed the official match clock on the scoreboard from the far away audience stands as the two Pokemon fought for supremacy. There were only two minutes left and every second counted. This was clearly a very close match and yet Drew seemed remarkably unconcerned; it was almost as if he knew he had already secured victory.

    The boy stood with his hands in his pockets, smiling as he watched the action unfold before him, blasts of air and shards of ice flying past him dramatically as the battle continued. Nico, meanwhile, had the exact opposite composure; his expression was twisted into a rage-fueled snarl and his eyes were desperately scanning the opposing Dark-type Pokemon for any signs of weakness. It seemed as if Nico had finally lost his cool, and Drew's arrogant demeanour did little to help matters.

    "This is a really close match-up." Brock commented, more to himself than anyone else as the only companion sitting beside him at that moment in time was Ash's Pikachu. "Both Pokemon seem equal in strength. I'm not sure how long they can both keep this up."

    "Pika..." Pikachu agreed, its ears twitching with awe at the two battler's display of strength and dexterity. The small electric rodent stood eagerly on the edge of Ash's seat, peering up over the head of the spectator directly in front of it. Though battling was by no means Pikachu's favourite pastime, the performance was making the creature yearn more and more for its upcoming Gym battle against the Eterna City Gym leader.

    The battle continued to rage as intensely as it had begun until soon there was only seconds left on the clock. Glalie had consistently been on the offensive, charging its horns towards the opponent and gnashing its teeth menacingly. Absol, meanwhile, continued to be as graceful in its defence as ever, and whilst the Pokemon may have made its efforts appear easy, everyone in the crowd knew that it couldn't have been.

    "Crunch!" Nico yelled.

    "Iron Tail, Absol!" Drew countered, prompting a flash of light as the two powerful Pokemon clashed against one another; Absol's metallic tail slashing towards the Ice-type's forehead and missing by less than an inch. It was as if the Pokemon were dancing with danger, both of them knowing that missing even a single step would mean disaster.

    "I've had enough of this!" Nico growled. "Glalie, Expl-"

    "And time's up!" Alisa declared, interrupting Nico mid-command and causing the lights to rise once again and bathe the room in light. "And our winner is..."

    What? Their five minutes was over already? Nico turned towards the scoreboard to see his fate, the adrenaline still pumping through his body. He immediately began to turn slightly pale as he saw what was written on the monitor. Drew, however, smiled smugly from across the stage.

    "Drew Blackthorne!" Alisa continued. "Congratulations, Drew! You are now our first official finalist!"

    Nico quietly recalled his partner into the Pokeball in his hand and stared at the device blankly. He had failed.
    Last edited by Gazmof; 13th June 2008 at 8:47 PM.
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  15. #65
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    May 2008
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    This keeps happening to me. I'll read a story. Like it. It doesn't get updated for a while. I forget bits. I read it all the way through again. THEN, it get's updated. This is the 4th time it's happened to me, and I'm started to get scared.

    Anyway, time to crack open my new-and-improved reviewing skills on SPPf!

    Good chapter, as always. The battle at the end was very well written, and I found it easy to visualise, always a good thing.

    The interaction between Ash and May was superb. Very well done. Nice way to 'honor' ContestShipping, and then get rid of it. I always prefer AS fics that acknowledge CS in some way. It has a few hints after all. But I digest....

    Now, this seems to be the done thing here, so I'll go with the flow...

    It felt like agony; as if his heart had been shattered into a thousand pieces and it could never be put back together again.
    How long did it take Ash to get that question out? I can understand why though...

    Good description, being no stranger to this myself. Though in my case, it's usually proceeded by the words "I'm sorry, I think of you more as a friend/brother." I generally find it hard to write emotion like this, so well done.

    Ash gasped for breath for a moment; a strange, hot sensation was rising in his stomach, though he didn't quite understand what it was. Well, come to think of it, he hadn't eaten in a while...
    Dense, dense, DENSE! I worry about that boy sometimes. If he doesn't do something, he'll collapse in on himself and form a black hole....

    I remember this feeling too. And not being able to recognise it. It's usually followed by a mate of mine nudging me on the arm and the words "Dude, that girl was hitting on you." causing me to slap myself for being stupid. Nice way of portraying Ash though.

    "Ash..." May repeated, her blush intensifying. He was so close to her right now that she could feel his breath gently caressing her face. Her heart pounded and her stomach tightened into knots as she gently closed her eyes and moved forward, her hands gliding over his chest affectionately. To her surprise Ash made no resistance and slowly the two of them moved closer and closer towards one another.

    May's mind was filled with thoughts that were rushing through her mind like an overly-anxious tornado. Could this be it? The moment she had been dreaming of ever since she arrived on that ferry in Johto? The moment she had always secretly desired, but never dared to admit - even to herself? Was this really going to be her first kiss with Ash?
    Good description. No, scratch that. EXCELLENT description.

    Here's a general rule of mine: If I can visualise a fic like it's an episode of the anime, it's good. If I can visualise it like it's almost REAL, it's amazing. And this story is in the latter category, one of the reasons being the above quote. You've captured May's thoughts and emotions expertly here, and I commend you for it.

    Darn Team Rocket! Why do they have to ruin everything!

    "He kissed me, you know." Dawn spoke up suddenly, causing Ash's eyes to widen in surprise. "I know it's stupid; I only knew him for a few hours, but... I really thought for a moment that..."

    A few seconds passed.

    "That maybe he loved me..."
    "I don't understand..." Dawn continued, lifting the rose up so that it could shine in the faint light of the hallway, its petals almost glittering. "I knew I didn't stand much of a chance... But he was just so cold; so uncaring. It was as if he was trying to hurt me the whole way through..."
    So, BelleShipping is not to be then? Shame, I kinda like it. Not as much as CavalierShipping, but still....

    He didn't know what to say. Anger was coursing through his veins as he thought of the boy who had hurt not one, but now two of his friends. Ash couldn't begin to understand the pain that the boy had inflicted on the two young coordinators - he had never been able to even grasp the idea of love before, let alone the pain of rejection.

    He felt so useless. He wanted to reach out his hand and pull the girl up - tell her to snap out of it or reassure her that it was just a match, and that perhaps Drew really did love her and meant it when he'd kissed her. But deep in his own heart he knew it wasn't true. Drew had toyed with May's affections and now Dawn was his newest plaything.

    Ash was incensed, but he remained calm and simply closed his eyes, breathing deeply. There was nothing he could do to make it right. Not right now, at least...
    Again, I can relate here. When people have hurt my friends, I start to feel like this. Another good job of capturing emotions.

    What does a blue rose stand for again? I forget...

    Anyway, I hope that this first review on here is ok. They don't have quote functions on ff.net.

    So yeah, great chapter! I eagerly look forward to the next installment!
    Dave
    Former OSL Water Gym Leader, PASBL League Official, TL6, A- Ref, Dark Gym Leader, Fizzy Bubbles

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  16. #66
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    Well, the only thing I can say about this chapter is excellent, superb, incredible, and the like. Especially the descriptions. They are a thing to behold! Great flow, too. Love how this story is going for the most part. Don't like the part where Dawn is depressed over Drew, but that's about it (hey, I don't like bad things happening to my favorite characters, but otherwise there wouldn't be a story, huh?). Speaking of which, do I sense Ash developing some animosity towards Drew? I always wanted that to happen in the show.

    So, yeah, really, really good. Simply put.

  17. #67
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    Figures...in a week and a half, everyone who had a fic with a long wait had to post while I was out of action -_-
    Meh, it's Friday afternoon, I'm happy, I'm listenning to some music that's pumping me up, and I have a whole lot of time ahead of me ^^'

    You're up first for my afternoon

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    Chapter 7:
    May's Confession
    The ContestShipper within me wants to close this window now and damn you to hell...but that guy's a bad person, so I won't allow that xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "Ah, thanks!" May replied, smiling happily - she was so glad that he really cared about her performance that much; unlike some other boys her age. "It was easy to win when I knew that..."

    She blushed for a moment, turning her face away and staring down at her feet blankly.

    "Huh?" Ash stammered. "When you knew what?"

    May giggled to herself, her heart pounding. She couldn't believe that she was saying it, but when she was around Ash she didn't care about taking chances - it was exciting and she hoped it wouldn't freak him out, but his constantly reassuring smile made her doubt that.

    "That you were watching me..." she finished, her face now coloured a bright, strawberry pink.
    Awww !! She's so cute ^^
    The whole thing is cute

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    Ash gasped for breath for a moment; a strange, hot sensation was rising in his stomach, though he didn't quite understand what it was. Well, come to think of it, he hadn't eaten in a while...
    Of course enter dense Ash xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    May's eyes glanced down to her lap in dismay, knowing what her friend was about to say. It was uncharacteristic of Ash to ask such things, but she had been expecting it for a long time.

    "If he was your..." Ash continued. "Your... Boyfriend..."
    I honnestly can't immagine Ash saying the word "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", so this part made my brain work very hard to visualise it ^^'
    But hey, why not ? I mean, Ash is really trying to look out for her, like for all of his friends, except, apparently, this will grow into something more...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    He suddenly felt the girl press her head against his chest as the tears finally took over and she began to sob uncontrollably. Though he was more than a little surprised at how upset his friend was, he wasted no time and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close and running his fingers through her long, silky brown hair.
    Lucky bastard ^^'

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    May's mind was filled with thoughts that were rushing through her mind like an overly-anxious tornado. Could this be it? The moment she had been dreaming of ever since she arrived on that ferry in Johto? The moment she had always secretly desired, but never dared to admit - even to herself? Was this really going to be her first kiss with Ash?
    There is no "moment" when there's chemistry between two people. Just a regular flow of sensations and attraction. Which Ash and May have never had imo, so by waiting for a certain moment, you might screw it up if you miss it...
    Waiting --> Bad
    Good thing you decided to take matters into your hands from the incompetant writers xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "Leave it to me." Cassidy chuckled. "I think our little friends have just given us the perfect scapegoats for this operation..."
    Of course...as always...poor TR
    Or is it Ash and May ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    He didn't know what to say. Anger was coursing through his veins as he thought of the boy who had hurt not one, but now two of his friends. Ash couldn't begin to understand the pain that the boy had inflicted on the two young coordinators - he had never been able to even grasp the idea of love before, let alone the pain of rejection.

    He felt so useless. He wanted to reach out his hand and pull the girl up - tell her to snap out of it or reassure her that it was just a match, and that perhaps Drew really did love her and meant it when he'd kissed her. But deep in his own heart he knew it wasn't true. Drew had toyed with May's affections and now Dawn was his newest plaything.

    Ash was incensed, but he remained calm and simply closed his eyes, breathing deeply. There was nothing he could do to make it right. Not right now, at least...
    Be afraid...be very afraid of a vengeful Ash...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "And now for our first semi-final match-up, ladies and gentlemen!" Alisa's voice echoed throughout the carnival tent as two coordinators took up opposite places on the contest stage. "This is going to be an incredible battle of two extremely talented Pokemon coordinators! Please welcome back Drew Blackthorne and Nico Cyrax, everybody!"
    Talk about hype

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    Absol's metallic tail slashing towards the Ice-type's forehead and missing by less than an inch. It was as if the Pokemon were dancing with danger, both of them knowing that missing even a single step would mean disaster.

    "I've had enough of this!" Nico growled. "Glalie, Expl-"

    "And time's up!" Alisa declared, interrupting Nico mid-command and causing the lights to rise once again and bathe the room in light. "And our winner is..."

    What? Their five minutes was over already? Nico turned towards the scoreboard to see his fate, the adrenaline still pumping through his body. He immediately began to turn slightly pale as he saw what was written on the monitor. Drew, however, smiled smugly from across the stage.

    "Drew Blackthorne!" Alisa continued. "Congratulations, Drew! You are now our first official finalist!"

    Nico quietly recalled his partner into the Pokeball in his hand and stared at the device blankly. He had failed.
    Explosion would have been a disaster...I don't know what effect it would have had on Glalie, but it would have surely been ugly...
    Yeah ! Drew won ! Take that, punk xD
    And if Nico failed, that means he must have had a plan...wonder what he'll do now.
    And I still wonder what happened in Johto...

    Keep it up ! This was well worht the wait
    Because of serebiiforums, my Life has been put on hold...

    ...wait, that sounds wrong...
    ...yeah, it's the other way around.

    My Works : A, B, C, D, E

  18. #68
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    Just a little thing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof
    Absol darted across the battlefield, doing its best to avoid the shower of icy splinters which seemed to cover the entire area. Drew's eyes drifted towards where the scoreboard was - his points were rapidly diminishing whilst Nico's were steadily on the rise. Nico had managed to completely change the pace of this battle and was looking good whilst doing it.
    That doesn't happen in contests, as far as I know.

    Apart from that, decent chapter overall. The May/Ash interaction was beautifully done with all the nervousness and denseness on Ash's side and the unfortunate sadness on May's. Ultimately, it succeeded in making Ash angry, and so, Drew better watch out. Angry Ash can be hazardous to health.

    Also, the Dawn/Ash interaction was good too - poor Dawn. You could have extended it a bit though, but that would become dangerously close to Pearlness.

    All said and done, this one was worth the wait.

  19. #69
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    Yay, reviews :D Thank you all!

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveTheFishGuy View Post
    The interaction between Ash and May was superb. Very well done. Nice way to 'honor' ContestShipping, and then get rid of it. I always prefer AS fics that acknowledge CS in some way. It has a few hints after all.
    Thanks; it's easy to try and ignore a rival 'ship when writing and just pretend people won't notice, but I try and make it as true to life (uh... anime) as I can. Disregarding May's relationship with Drew would mean to disregard a lot of her character and so I try to work with what I have... I'm not sure if shadow_shipper will be too pleased with me though ^^;;;;

    Oh, and thanks for the comment about how it reminds you of the anime - that's always the best compliment a Pokemon writer can get, in my humble opinion.

    Thanks for the review - I'm no expert but yeah I think you did it fine :D

    Quote Originally Posted by GrizzlyB View Post
    Well, the only thing I can say about this chapter is excellent, superb, incredible, and the like. Especially the descriptions. They are a thing to behold! Great flow, too. Love how this story is going for the most part. Don't like the part where Dawn is depressed over Drew, but that's about it (hey, I don't like bad things happening to my favorite characters, but otherwise there wouldn't be a story, huh?). Speaking of which, do I sense Ash developing some animosity towards Drew? I always wanted that to happen in the show.

    So, yeah, really, really good. Simply put.
    Hehe, thanks, I was really proud of the description in this chapter and it seems that it was worth the wait. I didn't particularly enjoy writing Dawn's "emotional" scene but there was a reason for it, which should be revealed soon. As for Ash and Drew... Well, I think he's allowed to have a little animosity, given the situation :D

    Thanks for your review ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_shipper View Post
    I honnestly can't immagine Ash saying the word "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", so this part made my brain work very hard to visualise it ^^'
    But hey, why not ? I mean, Ash is really trying to look out for her, like for all of his friends, except, apparently, this will grow into something more...
    Yeah, but unfortunately (in my experience) there comes a time in every Ash-shipping-fic where you've got to try to give him the benefit of the doubt. There was a big temptation for me to leave this conversation more ambiguous than it was but then I felt like the story would never go anywhere ^^;;

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_shipper View Post
    There is no "moment" when there's chemistry between two people. Just a regular flow of sensations and attraction. Which Ash and May have never had imo, so by waiting for a certain moment, you might screw it up if you miss it...
    Waiting --> Bad
    Good thing you decided to take matters into your hands from the incompetant writers xD
    Uh, little confused by this quote... Is it a compliment? ^^;; Can you clarify at all?

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_shipper View Post
    Explosion would have been a disaster...I don't know what effect it would have had on Glalie, but it would have surely been ugly...
    Yeah ! Drew won ! Take that, punk xD
    And if Nico failed, that means he must have had a plan...wonder what he'll do now.
    And I still wonder what happened in Johto...

    Keep it up ! This was well worht the wait ;)
    Heh, well I just remember the computer loved to use Explosion in contests in Hoenn and it always worked out well in the games. But yeah, probably not so pretty...

    Shadow, I knew you'd be happy when you saw who the victor was... I wonder how I knew that? ;D But yeah, thanks for the review. And a plan? You'll just have to wait and see...

    Quote Originally Posted by EarthBorn View Post
    Also, the Dawn/Ash interaction was good too - poor Dawn. You could have extended it a bit though, but that would become dangerously close to Pearlness.

    All said and done, this one was worth the wait.
    Heh, thanks :D Part of me wanted to extend the scene but as you already mentioned, it would have veered frighteningly close to Pearlshipping (and I couldn't help but feel sorry for Dawn there; the poor lass).

    I'll admit I'm not an expert in how contests are portrayed in the anime so I've just been piecing things together from what I do know. I'll keep that in mind for the next few chapters, thanks!
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  20. #70

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    As usual, the chapter was pretty good. Sorry for replying so late. I like the emotional bond between both May and Dawn with Ash that you wrote. It was very well done, and I finally get some nice advanceshipping moments in this fic. Also Nico was still awesome as usual, though I feel bad that he lost. ._. Ah well, he's still a winner in my mind.
    I waste my life away on Nico Nico Douga.

  21. #71
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    I really like your writing style. it's really good. i'm looking forward to the next chapter.

  22. #72
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    this story is awsome, cant wait to see what happens next and what nico is gona do ><


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  23. #73
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    I've just finished reading the story so far. Its really well written and I can't wait to read more of it.

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    Thanks for all the reviews, guys, they're always appreciated ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by buster_wolf View Post
    As usual, the chapter was pretty good. Sorry for replying so late. I like the emotional bond between both May and Dawn with Ash that you wrote. It was very well done, and I finally get some nice advanceshipping moments in this fic. Also Nico was still awesome as usual, though I feel bad that he lost. ._. Ah well, he's still a winner in my mind.
    As long as he's a winner in your heart, that's all that counts :D

    Well, here's chapter eight at last ^^; Another chapter that proved difficult to get right, but I think I've finally got it nailed down. Enjoy, people!

    Chapter Eight:
    Nico's Decision

    Cheers and applause continued to erupt from the crowd in the main hall of the carnival's tent, bombarding the speechless Nico from every side of the arena. He continued to stare down in disbelief at his Glalie's Pokeball, unable to quite grasp the fact that he had lost his match against Drew: that arrogant, egotistical, snide coordinator who began to walk away towards the backstage of the tent after recalling his Absol from the battlefield.

    Nico sighed and pocketed his Pokeball, shoving his hands into his pockets and making his way behind the stage, doing his best to ignore the screams and confetti that were showering down upon him. Soon he was walking opposite his opponent, the smile still evident on Drew's face. Nico continued to stare at the floor beneath his feet, but was unable to ignore the boy once they had moved into the darkened corridors that were nestled behind the main hall.

    "Not bad for a second-rate coordinator." Drew whispered, shoving past the boy who did nothing in response. Nico wasn't worried about what Drew thought of him, because the feelings were completely mutual. He was far more concerned with what his employer might say.

    Nurse Joy ushered the defeated young coordinator into the makeshift Pokemon Centre just a few steps away from the main stage where the crowd had begun to slowly settle down. Nico handed the nurse the Pokeball that contained his exhausted Glalie and watched silently as she placed the sphere into the Pokemon healing machine and it was engulfed in a gently pulsing green light.

    "Don't worry Nico," Nurse Joy began, "Glalie will be fine; it didn't sustain anything serious during the battle."

    "I know." Nico replied gloomily, his hands still placed firmly in his pockets.

    A shuffling could be heard from the corner of the room and a large man in a black suit and top-hat appeared before the two of them. The roar of the crowd was beginning to pick up in volume once more as Alisa's voice could be heard preparing the audience for the next match-up.

    "Nico." Officer Kendrick stated firmly, taking the boy by the shoulder and ushering him towards the more secluded corridors of the backstage area. "Come with me. You and I need to have a little talk."

    Nico said nothing and allowed himself to begin walking with the imposing figure down into the darkened hallway where the cheering of the crowd in the main hall soon became a distant echo. Shadows obscured much of Nico's vision and he could now barely make out the features of his companion as he turned and looked down at the young coordinator. Though he couldn't see clearly, he could easily feel the accusations that Kendrick's eyes were leveling at him.

    "I'm disappointed, Nico." the man spoke bluntly, his fingers tracing over the head of the jet-black cane he clutched tightly in his hand.

    Nico's eyes simply rolled towards the ground where the dim flicker of the tent's ground-based lights cast away what shadow they could overcome. His fists were clenched tightly as he attempted to think of an excuse; anything to excuse his inexcusable performance on the battlefield, though he knew that was impossible.

    "You know I don't expect you to lose." Kendrick continued, his voice almost groaning with exasperation as he spoke. "You've been like a son to me for all this time and this is how you repay me?"

    "I..." Nico stammered, looking away and to the side in an effort to avoid eye-contact with the imposing figure who stood before him. "I'm sorry, sir."

    "This is the biggest operation in our history, Nico." Kendrick explained bluntly. "We're not dealing with the usual hillbillies and country-bumpkins here."

    There was a pause before he continued.

    "You're not the same boy I took in off the streets all those years ago." Nico looked up towards the man and was surprised to see that he was now smiling gently, his grip on the boy's shoulder loosening. "You've become a real man now, Nico. All you need to do now is prove it to yourself."

    "Sir, I..." Nico muttered, not entirely certain of what he should say. He was speechless; he had never heard Kendrick speak so highly of someone before - aside from his beloved daughter Alisa, of course.

    "We still have the last semi-final and the final round to distract them with." Kendrick began, his eyes scrolling up towards the roof of the carnival tent as he concentrated firmly on what course of action needed to be taken. "That should be enough time. I need you to go and supervise those two Rockets and ensure all of the Pokeballs are gone before the tournament ends."

    "Yes, sir!" Nico agreed, his enthusiasm suddenly returning. "Where are they?"

    "The man is in the left storage chamber." Kendrick said. "Go and explain everything to him. Time is of the essence now, Nico."

    "Right." Nico nodded, turning on the spot and hurrying down the darkened corridor towards his destination.

    "Oh, and Nico?" Kendrick called after him, causing the boy to stop and turn to face his employer once again. "Remember: they take orders from you, not the other way around."

    Nico smiled and said nothing; instead turning again and heading towards the storage chamber where one of the members of Team Rocket was waiting for him. He had a new mission, and he was determined to accomplish it at any cost.

    ~*~*~

    "And now for the last of our semi-final battles!" Alisa declared, her voice booming throughout the carnival and sending an electric atmosphere to all who heard her sheer excitement. "Ladies and gentlemen who will our last finalist be? Will it be the wonderful May Maple with her powerful Blaziken? Or will the dynamic Minako Hino and her nimble Jolteon make sparks fly? Coordinators, please take to the stage and release your Pokemon!"

    The crowd erupted into cheers and applause once again as the light of the two coordinator's Pokeballs spilt out onto the battlefield in almost perfect sync. May's Blaziken crouched down low, its claws raised in a fighting stance as it eyed the opponent: a confident-looking Jolteon that stood on all fours, electricity crackling and flowing from its long, elegant ears and all across its spiky, yellow fox-like body.

    "Get ready, Venus." May's opponent, Minako, called over to her Pokemon which growled knowingly.

    Minako was quite tall and had an elegant composure, like that of a dancer. She possessed long, blonde hair which trailed all the way down to her lower back and her eyes were a very bright blue. Her attire consisted of a long, yellow dress - the skirt was ruffled and the top was immaculate and free of creases. Her stage presence was enormous and the entire crowd seemed enamoured with her, one particular breeder more-so than the rest.

    "Yes! She's finally here!" Brock yelled from his section of the stands, beginning to climb out of his seat and take a step over the chair of the spectator who was seated in front of him. "I finally found the woman who will make all my dreams come true!!"

    "Pika!" Pikachu squeaked in protest, though its cries fell on deaf ears as Brock continued to make a fool of himself. "Pikachu pika!"

    "Come to me my love and we will be together always!" Brock continued, then was suddenly interrupted by the sound of a Pokeball's release mechanism being activated. "I'll make every day a-huh?"

    Brock suddenly felt a sharp jab to his stomach from his Croagunk which had emerged from the Pokeball that was clipped to his belt. Immediately Brock slumped back into his chair in silence.

    "Pika..." Pikachu sighed.

    "Gunk." the small, frog-like Croagunk replied, smiling proudly as it admired the bandaged fist which had dealt Brock the silencing blow. The purple Pokemon then proceeded to take a seat next to Pikachu and watch the match proceedings.

    Both May and Blaziken groaned as they heard the commotion coming from Brock's seat. The young coordinator giggled to herself, looking over to where a young trainer had just entered the hall and was finding his seat next to his happy Pikachu and the wounded breeder in question.

    'They haven't changed a bit.' she thought to herself, then blushed a little. 'Well... Ash IS more handsome than I remember...'

    May shook her head, emptying her mind of such distracting thoughts as she returned her attentions to the battle that was about to begin.

    "Alright Blaziken, keep your guard up!" May cheered her Pokemon on. "Let's take this all the way to the final round!"

    ~*~*~

    Meanwhile Ash had finally managed to seat himself after making his way to where Brock and Pikachu were sitting. Pikachu greeted the boy as eagerly as it always did and Ash smiled in response, scratching the back of its ear gently. Brock was now sitting up once more, eager for the match to start.

    "I'm not late am I?" Ash asked Brock, who shook his head in reply.

    "May's just about to start." he explained, then eyed his friend curiously. "Hey, what took you so long?"

    "I bumped into Dawn on my way back and tried to cheer her up." Ash replied, his eyes focusing on the stage below where the match timer had been set to five minutes. "She was pretty upset."

    "I'm not surprised." Brock agreed, folding his arms over his chest, his Croagunk climbing up onto the arm of the chair where its trainer was seated in order to get a better view of the upcoming performance. "Drew really didn't hold anything back in that match."

    "Pika..." Pikachu added sadly, its long ears slumping slightly as it thought of the tearful young coordinator.

    Ash didn't reply and instead remained silent, waiting for the match to start. What May had told him about her experiences with Drew in Johto still bothered him; she hadn't actually explained how it had all happened, but Ash surmised that it was probably best not to ask the girl for too many details. After all, it seemed like a touchy subject for her and he didn't want to hit a nerve. May was back with them and that was all that he cared about. He was so happy, in fact, that he didn't want the day to end because he knew that, when it did, May would turn around and leave for Johto once again.

    Ash frowned as memories of their journey through the Kanto region flooded back into his mind. He remembered her goodbye so vividly - seeing her wave from the boat; her proud, confident smile more brilliant than the setting sun which covered the ocean's waves like a thin blanket of gold. He didn't want her to ever be so far away from him again, no matter how selfish it seemed.

    "And... Begin!" Alisa's voice snapped Ash out of his daydream and like a flash of lightning the battle had begun - Blaziken and Jolteon both darting across the battlefield exchanging blows. The two Pokemon were tremendously fast; both of them testing the other in order to determine any particular strengths and weaknesses that might be useful for them in the upcoming battle.

    "Alright, Venus!" Minako ordered. "Use Agility, then follow it up with Double Team!"

    The girl's Jolteon barked in reply, closing its eyes and focusing its mind. After a moment's contemplation the creature opened its eyes once more and soon the entire arena was filled with shadowy replicas of the electric-type Pokemon. Blaziken remained vigilant, its eyes prowling the stage and keeping an eye on the images that surrounded it while it waited for its coordinator to declare a move.

    "How do you like that, May?" Minako taunted her opponent, smiling as she did so. "Double Team is always a pain, but with my Jolteon's extra speed from that Agility it'll be twice as hard to break through my defences!"

    May smiled knowingly at this.

    "Then we'll just have to smoke you out!" she laughed. "Blaziken, use Overheat now! We'll swamp the whole stage in fire!"

    "Wait, no, you can't do that!" Minako protested, clearly flustered.

    "Oh can't we?" May was unable to hold back her grinning. "Let's show them what we're made of, Blaziken!"

    "Blaziken!" Blaziken agreed, punching its fists together and engulfing itself in flames which quickly and forcefully covered the stadium like a fiery blanket. Almost immediately Minako's Jolteon's facade of Double Team shadows dissipated as the fire swamped the battlefield in a gigantic wave of flames.

    "I have a feeling I know who taught her that strategy!" Brock exclaimed from the stands as he, Ash, Pikachu and Croagunk all sat transfixed at the spectacular display.

    Ash turned to Brock for a moment, curious.

    "What do you mean, Brock?" he asked, but Brock just smiled.

    "You taught her a lot of things, Ash." the breeder explained. "If it hadn't been for you May would have never gotten where she is today."

    "Nah!" Ash disregarded Brock's comments with a wave of his hand. "Come on; May got here all by herself, I had nothing to do with it!"

    "Heh," Brock chuckled knowingly, "if you say so, Ash..."

    "Pikachu..." Pikachu added.

    "Quick, Venus, Protect!" Minako ordered, the sight of the ever-encroaching flames terrifying the young coordinator.

    "Eon!" the growl of the girl's Jolteon could be heard amongst the roar of the inferno and suddenly a flash of green energy surrounded one of the many images of the Pokemon that encircled the battlefield.

    The crowd's roars died down; everyone in the stadium holding their breath as they watched intently, all wondering what was going to happen next. The sound of the rushing flames was all that could be heard for several moments, until they finally died out, leaving an unscathed Jolteon standing defiantly in the corner of the stage.

    "What!?" May gasped. Even her Blaziken took a step backwards in disbelief as it saw the Jolteon snarling opposite them. "No way!"

    "Perfect!" Minako applauded her Pokemon confidently. "And thanks to Overheat your Blaziken's been weakened, too!"

    Minako then proceeded to point directly towards the Fire-type Pokemon opposite her.

    "Now, Venus!" she demanded. "Thunderbolt!"

    May flinched as a brilliant flash of yellow electricity filled the stadium and scorched the ground where Blaziken once stood. The part-fighting-type's instincts were still fresh despite the fatigue that Overheat had placed on its body and it was these instincts that had managed to keep the creature safe from further harm. May clenched her fist tightly, her mind racing for a new strategy whilst the seconds quickly ticked away on the official match timer. This battle would not be over as easily as she'd hoped.

    ~*~*~

    Nico made his way down the dark, narrow corridor, his hands in his pockets and a smug grin firmly painted on his face once again. He glanced down to the belt that he was wearing; five Pokeballs securely clipped to it. In his excitement of not being reprimanded by Kendrick he must have forgotten to retrieve Glalie from the Pokemon Healing Machine nurse Joy had been using. It was of no consequence though - he would return later to collect the Pokemon; his other five were more than enough for his current job's requirements.

    Soon the young trainer arrived at his destination: the storage room. It was a humble door and fitting for their current location. Nico had been with the carnival for almost as long as he could remember, and they had travelled to many different cities and regions of all kinds. From the glistening shores of Slateport to the humble forests of Cherrygrove, Nico had seen all kinds of places and even more kinds of people. Travelling with the carnival was an easy life and something he was grateful for - after all, his alternative was a far less pretty picture.

    Nico smiled to himself, then rapped his knuckles on the door in front of him. After much shuffling he heard the door click open, sliding slowly away from the frame until half a face could be seen peering at him from the other side.

    "Yeah?" the voice of the Team Rocket member Butch spoke up.

    "Kendrick sent me to help you guys out." Nico declared. "We need to get the Pokemon out of here now."

    There was a slight pause for a moment as Butch considered this. He recognised the boy as being one of the competing coordinators from earlier - his appearance and demeanour were certainly quite recognisable. His partner Cassidy had been the mastermind of this plan, coordinating with officer Kendrick the entire time throughout the past week or so, so he wasn't certain of all the ins and outs. However, if the boy knew about their plan it seemed fair enough that he would be on their side.

    Butch opened the door silently and allowed the boy to step inside the cramped room, where several angry coordinators glared up at him. Nico smirked at them, sending them a teasing wave as he did so. His smile stopped, however, when he saw one trainer whom he recognised.

    Paul was scowling at the boy from the corner of the room, his eyes occasionally darting to the wheeled cart where the coordinator's Pokeballs were being stored. Nico frowned a little, then turned back to where Butch was sitting, idly fiddling with the radio in his hands.

    "What's your status, anyway?" Nico asked the man. "Are we going to be ready to move out of here by the time this match is over?"

    "Keep your shirt on, kid," Butch explained, not looking up from the device that was in his hands, "we've got plenty of time. I'm just waiting for Cassidy's signal and then we're outta here with all of these chumps' Pokemon!"

    Butch grinned at the thought of a job well-done, though Nico's expression was blank, his eyes constantly glancing towards where Paul was sitting. As he stood there, staring down at the mass of Pokeballs that lay in the cart, his thoughts began to wander and soon an idea formed in his mind - an idea that he liked very much.

    Finally Nico made his move, turning and making his way over to where Paul was sitting. The approaching trainer caught the boy's eye and soon Nico was kneeling in front of Paul, his eyes staring directly at him. Paul glared defiantly back at the mysterious trainer, but Nico simply smiled, pulling the boy's gag down from his mouth.

    "Hey, what do you think you're doing, kid!?" Butch exclaimed, but Nico simply waved him quiet.

    "It's fine." the boy insisted, returning his focus on the captured trainer sitting before him. Paul remained silent during all of this, understandably cautious of the boy's intentions. He continued to glare at Nico, until finally the coordinator spoke up.

    "You were with May's friends, weren't you?" he asked. "Do you know her?"

    Paul mulled over the name in his head, refusing to break eye contact with the boy. He vaguely remembered the name from earlier in the waiting room when Ash and his friends were talking to a girl dressed in red. She was a coordinator, if he remembered correctly, and had been battling her way through the carnival's contest tournament. Of course Paul had no interest in the tournament and remembered little about the girl in question; only the fact that she was a friend of that loser Ash. But of course Paul wasn't going to let small details like that get in the way of his potential escape; he had found a weakness in this boy and he was determined to use it.

    "Yeah." he lied. "What's it to you?"

    "Because," Nico chuckled his reply, "I can get you a way out of all of this, if you'd like."

    Paul raised his eyebrow at this, curious of his captor's motives.

    "What's in it for you?" he enquired, checking the knots on the ropes which wrapped tightly around his wrists once more for any signs of weakness or deterioration. As before, they were as tight as they could possibly be.

    Nico's expression soon became serious and more subdued, his eyes casting their gaze down towards the floor of the storage room as he attempted to string together his proposal. Despite having never spoken to Paul before, Nico knew exactly the kind of person he was; they were similar in many respects, in fact. He knew this from the boy's gruff demeanour and blunt responses, as well as his own personal sense of intuition which rarely failed him, especially on important matters such as these.

    "I want your help." Nico finally admitted, his gaze returning to the trainer who had expected such a response, though perhaps not quite as bluntly as it had been delivered.

    "I'm listening." Paul replied calmly, his eyes still occasionally drifting over to the cart of Pokeballs and the eavesdropping Team Rocket grunt sitting nearby.

    "All you need to do," Nico explained, getting back to his feet and returning his hands to his pockets as he did so, "is tell her to be in the coordinator's waiting room in fifteen minutes."

    Paul's eyes checked the clock that was hanging near the corner of the room just a few yards away. It was six-thirty now, and fifteen minutes gave him more than enough time to get out of the area.

    "Fine." Paul accepted the boy's terms. "But I want my Pokemon right now."

    "How many did he have?" Nico asked Butch, turning on the spot to face the man with the jade-green hair.

    Butch put the radio on the table and eyed Paul, then proceeded to make his way over to the cart that was filled with the coordinator's Pokeballs. Paul's were easily recognisable, as his were the only Pokeballs without decorative seals attached to them, and soon Butch handed over all six of Paul's Pokemon to Nico. Nico eyed the devices carefully, then clipped one of them to his belt before stooping down and untying Paul.

    Paul felt a great relief once the tight knots were removed and the ropes which bound his hands and feet fell to the ground easily. Several of the coordinators were shuffling and doing their best to voice their complaints to the two trainers but neither Nico nor Paul seemed particularly interested in any of them; in fact, they were acting as if they weren't even there.

    Paul accepted the five Pokeballs from the boy, clipping them to his belt before frowning at him.

    "I want all of them." he protested, but Nico shook his head.

    "This is my insurance." he explained, secretly hoping that he had chosen one of the more essential members of the boy's team. "I'm not stupid; I know you just wanna high-tail it out of here. That's why I'm keeping this one until I see May in that waiting room at six-forty-five PM."

    Paul gritted his teeth for a moment. Nico was certainly smarter than Paul had given him credit for. Still, it was of little consequence; he was certain that Ash would have no complaints about organizing such a simple meeting for the two coordinators.

    "Oh, and one more thing." Nico added. "Make sure you don't mention me."

    "Then what am I supposed to tell her?" Paul questioned, but Nico had already turned his attention towards the cart of Pokeballs in the corner of the room.

    "Just get her there somehow." Nico snapped.

    Paul scowled at the boy's mannerism but kept his calm. After all, he had a clear shot of getting out of the carnival grounds right now and there was no sense in jeopardising that opportunity. Instead he simply smiled and made his way towards the door.

    "Fine."

    Butch watched the trainer leave until the door to the storage room finally clicked shut and he knew that Paul was out of earshot. Butch turned towards Nico, who was sorting through the Pokeballs in the cart and trying to categorize them as best he could.

    "What'd you let him go for?" he questioned the boy, quickly getting a sharp glare in response.

    "That's none of your damn business." Nico snapped. "Now come here and help me out. We've got work to do."

    ~*~*~

    Flashes of fire and lightning shot through the carnival's main hall as both Blaziken and Jolteon continued to crash into each other, their reflexes as quick and as strong as if they had just been sent out into the fray. The battle was down to the last minute and both May and Minako's scores were almost equal, neither side conceding even an inch in their battle for a place in the contest final. Ash, Pikachu, Brock and Croagunk all watched in awe as the battle raged on with no end in sight. The clock continued to tick but this battle was far from over and both coordinators knew this fact better than anyone else could.

    "Venus, Quick Attack!" Minako commanded.

    "Blaziken, Sky Uppercut!" May countered.

    Once again the competing Pokemon launched towards each other, Minako's Jolteon looking like a blur of electricity as it dashed across the battlefield, leaving a trail of bright, yellow-blue sparks in its wake. Blaziken relied on its honed fighting instincts to wait until just the right moment before leaping into the air, causing a torrent of red-hot flames to follow its fist as it trailed up towards the ceiling. Both Pokemon's attacks missed their targets by barely even an inch.

    "What a close match!" Alisa's commentary filled the main hall as the battling coordinators issued new commands to their Pokemon that were obeyed with what seemed like even more enthusiasm and desperation than before. "This is the stuff Grand Festivals are made of, ladies and gentlemen! Both competitors are more than worthy of receiving the title of our carnival's grand champion, but only one can pass through to the final round! Can May and Minako really keep this pace up for much longer?"

    "Man, this is one tough battle." Brock commented, transfixed by the action that was taking place on the stage below them. "Who'd have thought there'd be such fierce competition in a small-town carnival contest like this?"

    "Gunk." Croagunk agreed, nodding its head sagely.

    At that moment both Ash and Pikachu could hear a slumping in the chair next to them; the young trainer and his Pokemon turning their heads to identify the source of the noise. Both were rather surprised to see Paul sitting next to them, his arms folded across his chest, his eyes glaring down at the contest stage with their usual disinterest.

    "Oh," Ash stammered, rather taken aback by the boy's sudden reappearance, "Paul! What are you doing here?"

    "I was just outside training." Paul lied, refusing to take even a single glance at the boy who was sitting beside him. "I figured I might as well watch the final round."

    "Um, Paul," Brock began, chuckling slightly to himself as he did so, "this is only a semi-final..."

    Paul felt his eyebrow twitch slightly, though he made sure to keep his composure as he made his retort.

    "I know that." he said as another bright flash of lightning filled the main hall. "I just didn't want to miss the main event, that's all."

    "Well, you chose a pretty good match to come watch!" Ash laughed, turning back to face the stage, his right index finger gently brushing Pikachu's glossy, yellow fur. "May's doing awesome right now!"

    "But her opponent's really good, too." Brock added, his voice suddenly turning into a whisper as he mumbled to himself. "Not to mention a total knockout..."

    Brock glanced nervously towards the Croagunk sitting on the arm of his chair, its bandaged fist ready to strike at any moment, and breathed a deep sigh.

    "Quick Venus, use Thunder!" Minako ordered, a bolt of electricity shooting forth from her Jolteon's spiky fur like an angry thunderstorm on a relentless path of destruction.

    "Blaziken, dodge!" May yelled, her trusty Fire-type Pokemon taking a large leap back and narrowly avoiding the strike which scorched the main stage where it once stood. Blaziken crouched low to the ground, breathing heavily. It was difficult to keep up such a fast pace, and both it and its trainer knew that they could never outlast such a speedy Pokemon in a contest of reflexes.

    May's eyes quickly scanned the match timer which hung above the centre of the stage. Thirty seconds left. It was now or never.

    "Blaziken, stay back." May warned. "Keep your distance!"

    "Oh no you don't!" Minako protested, pointing her finger directly towards the slowly retreating Blaziken. "We've got you right where we want you! Venus, close the gap with Quick Attack!"

    "Teon!" Jolteon barked, not even wasting a second to react as it bounded towards its opponent, the spikes of its fur singing as it blasted across the stage like a bullet heading straight for its target.

    May smiled. Perfect.

    "Now, Blaziken!" she commanded. "Blaze Kick!"

    "Don't you know that's useless?" Minako scoffed. "My Jolteon is far too fast to be hit by one of your physical moves!"

    May simply continued to smile as her Blaziken brought its powerful foot down onto the stage with a mighty crash, sending waves of fire echoing across the entire battlefield upon impact. Within an instant the stage had become an enormous cloud of flames in which neither Pokemon could be seen.

    "It wasn't your Jolteon that we planned on hitting." May explained casually. "Okay, Blaziken! Hit it with a Sky Uppercut!"

    "What?" Minako stuttered, suddenly hearing a yelp from amidst the flames as her Jolteon shot up into the air, May's Blaziken calmly leaping after it.

    "This is simply incredible!" Alisa declared, her voice trembling with an excitement which hung off every syllable. "What a remarkable and unexpected change of pace from May!"

    "And now Blaziken, let's win this!" May declared, pointing up towards the Jolteon that continued to sail through the air. "Your Jolteon may be fast on the ground, but not in the air! Blaziken, Blaze Kick on Jolteon, let's go!"

    "Blaziken!" May's Pokemon bellowed, spinning in mid-air before launching a mighty kick which sent Minako's Jolteon crashing back down to the centre of the contest stage with a powerful thud. Minako's Jolteon staggered for a moment, struggling to get back onto its feet, but this proved too difficult, and the electric-type Pokemon simply fell back to the ground, completely exhausted.

    "Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner!" Alisa announced, her voice almost entirely drowned out by the fevered cheering of the crowd. "Like a beautiful comet soaring through the sky, May's Blaziken delivered a graceful and powerful Blaze Kick unlike any I've ever seen before! And with just seven seconds to spare, too! Ladies and gentlemen, we have our last finalist: May Maple!!"

    "Alright!" Ash cried, leaping into the air with Pikachu following close behind. "Way to go, May! You did it!!"

    "Pika Pika!!" Pikachu cheered, bouncing on the spot.

    May breathed a huge sigh of relief as she felt the reassuring touch of confetti floating down upon her. She couldn't help but grin at her victory before wandering over to where Blaziken stood, her hands running over the red feathers of the creature's arm and petting them gently.

    "You were awesome, Blaziken!" she congratulated the Pokemon. "Thank you!"

    "Jolt!" Minako's Jolteon finally managed to get its bearings, looking up in admiration of the fire-type Pokemon that had secured a well-deserved victory. "Jolteon!"

    "That was a great match!" Minako exclaimed, thrusting her hand towards May. "But I'll beat you next time."

    May chuckled, gratefully shaking her opponent's hand. She looked up towards the stands where she could see Ash, Brock and Pikachu cheering excitedly at her victory, and her smile only intensified, her heart fluttering at the sight of the boy who had supported her through so much.

    "Ash..."

    ~*~*~

    Just beyond the main hall Dawn sighed, doing her best to ignore the cheers and applause of the audience mere yards away. Piplup's Pokeball rested on her palm as she walked, contemplating her next course of action.

    Eventually Dawn seemed to bring herself to a conclusion, pressing down on the button in the middle of the sphere and enlarging it to its full capacity. She then released the storage latch and a burst of light emerged from the device, slowly fading to reveal the small blue penguin Pokemon.

    "Lup?" Piplup asked, looking up at its trainer with curious eyes. Dawn managed to smile for the creature's benefit and knelt down beside her partner, gently petting its head.

    "Great job out there, Piplup." she assured the water-type, which proceeded to hang its head in shame.

    "Pip..." it disagreed.

    "Don't be silly, Piplup!" Dawn insisted. "Everybody has their off-days. Come on, no need to worry!"

    "Piplup..." Piplup was hesitant at first, but looking at the young coordinator's smiling face soon eliminated its doubts. "Piplup Piplup!"

    The small Pokemon's infectious attitude and adorable squeaks soon made thoughts of her loss against Drew vanish from the young coordinator's mind. With a firm grin she stood back up, scooping the small penguin into her arms.

    "Come on, Piplup!" she declared excitedly, a renewed sense of enthusiasm rising within her. "Let's go get the others from the counter and meet up with Ash and Brock."

    "Piplup!" Piplup chirped, vigorously bouncing on the spot. "Piplup Piplup!"

    Dawn smiled at the creature and began to hum a gentle melody as she lead the way towards the reception counter where a bored woman with long, blonde hair and large glasses sat idly tapping a pen on her desk. Upon Dawn and Piplup's arrival she looked up nonchalantly at them.

    "Um, excuse me." Dawn spoke up, unable to hide her smile, despite the frown that was clearly painted on the receptionist's face. "My name's Dawn Hikari? I'm here to collect my Pokemon."

    The woman rolled back in her chair, casually sliding open one of the many draws on the desk in front of her and producing several sheets of paper and a ball-point pen which she promptly handed to Dawn.

    "Sign here, please." she explained with disinterest.

    Dawn raised an eyebrow at the woman's behaviour but said nothing, instead placing Piplup down on the ground beside her feet, taking the pen and skimming over the documents before quickly signing her name at the bottom of each sheet. She glanced towards the entrance of the carnival tent where she could see several stars suspended high in the navy-blue velvet of the night sky.

    Dawn was quite surprised at how much time they had spent at the contest - she had not anticipated to be here all day, but she was glad she had been. It wasn't as if she didn't enjoy travelling through the Sinnoh region with her friends, but sometimes it was always good to take a break - and if there was one thing that Dawn was certain of it was that there's no better break than a carnival.

    "Here you go." Dawn said, finally signing the last of the documents and handing them back to the receptionist who stuffed them back in the drawer they had come from.

    "Follow me." the woman stated, turning and walking down the corridor without so much as a glance back towards the girl. Dawn frowned at this behaviour and looked down towards Piplup; the small creature was tapping its foot on the floor, clearly unimpressed by the receptionist's attitude towards its trainer. Nevertheless, Dawn did as she was told and followed the woman down the hallway, Piplup in tow.

    The constant cheering and chattering of the main hall could still be heard echoing throughout the rest of the carnival tent as Dawn followed the receptionist through winding, darkened corridors which seemed to stretch and wrap forever. Finally the two of them arrived in an inconspicuous area with a dull-looking door. Dawn and Piplup both watched the receptionist closely as she knocked on the door and waited.

    "Yeah?" the gruff voice of a man called out in response.

    "Our semi-finalist is here." the receptionist explained, her lips curving into a smile as the words escaped her mouth, making Dawn feel more than a little uneasy.

    Finally Dawn and Piplup heard the door creak open, and were shocked to see a man wearing a familiar uniform - a flexible, pure-black suit with a red "R" emblazoned on the front of its chest.

    Dawn took a step back as she saw the man, her heart suddenly pounding with fear. Just what was going on here? Were they really members of Team Rocket? But they weren't the ones she would normally have expected to see; they seemed so much more... Sinister. The man with the green hair and dark, auburn eyes flashed a grin towards the young coordinator, his gaze filled with malice.

    "Team Rocket!?" Dawn gasped. "But... But how?"

    "Just come quietly, kid, and we won't need to hurt you." the man chuckled, beginning his advance towards the young coordinator.

    "Piplup!" Dawn's Piplup squeaked, bravely stepping in front of its trainer and puffing out its chest defiantly. Upon seeing this display of courage the man paused, then burst into laughter.

    "Hey, Cassidy!" he cackled confidently. "Would you look at that? This little Piplup thinks it can take us on!"

    "Will you just shut up and grab her, Butch!?" Cassidy snapped, folding her arms, clearly irritated by her partner's lack of professionalism. "The last semi-final just finished and the other one will be here soon!"

    "Yeah, yeah, whatever..." Butch grumbled, resuming his approach towards the girl who continued to step away from him cautiously.

    "Piplup!" Piplup squealed angrily, blasting a torrent of bubbles from its beak which crashed directly into Butch's face, causing him to topple over in surprise.

    "What the!?" he growled, wiping the water from his face angrily. "Why you little-"

    "Pip Piplup Pip!" Piplup challenged the man, refusing to back down.

    "Butch!" Cassidy yelled. "Can't you do anything right?"

    At that moment another figure came dashing out of the storage room, an angry snarl painted on his face. As he turned to survey the scene Dawn caught his glance and recognised him immediately.

    "What the hell's going on out here!?" the stranger barked.

    "Nico!?" Dawn gasped. "But I thought-"

    Nico's expression softened slightly upon seeing the girl, though he quickly regained his scowl once he noticed what was going on.

    "We don't have time to waste right now." he said, grabbing a Pokeball from his belt and enlarging it in his palm. "Shiftry, take this pip-squeak down!"

    Nico threw the device down to the floor, a blast of light covering the area as far as the eye could see. The light soon dissipated to reveal a bulky, humanoid Pokemon with long, flowing white hair which covered it's face like a mask and possessed sturdy, fan-like leaves for hands. Its body was dark-brown, like that of a tree's trunk, and it had a long nose which protruded several inches from the mass of white hair which covered its base.

    "Shif..." the Pokemon growled intimidatingly, causing even Piplup to tremble a little as the creature's deep, yellow eyes surveyed the water-type like a Houndoom eying its next plaything.

    "Razor Leaf!" Nico ordered, and like an invisible gust of wind his Shifty darted towards the ceiling of the tent, scattering numerous, razor-sharp leaves that cut into the small, blue penguin Pokemon. Piplup was entirely helpless against the barrage of such a super-effective hit, and within seconds the tiny creature had fallen to the ground unconscious.

    "Piplup!" Dawn cried, crouching down to the ground and cradling the exhausted Pokemon in her arms. "Piplup, are you okay!? Say something!"

    Dawn had little time to comfort her Pokemon as Piplup was snatched away from her by Cassidy and she felt herself being pulled by her collar towards the storage room, where only now could she see numerous coordinators bound and gagged, watching her helplessly. She heard footsteps as the man named Butch continued to drag her towards the rear of the room and soon she saw Nico standing just above her, returning Piplup to its Pokeball.

    "Nico, why?" she stammered. "Why are you doing this!?"

    Nico stared down at the girl who seemed to be delirious with fear and confusion, her eyes welling up with tears as she began to worry about what would become of Piplup and her other Pokemon. He considered her position for a moment and wondered if she deserved pity, an apology, or simply silence. Finally he gave his answer.

    "Because it's my job."

    ~*~*~

    DUN-DUN-DUN!! As usual, reviews are encouraged!
    Last edited by Gazmof; 13th June 2008 at 8:45 PM.
    Good Love Charm
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  25. #75
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    I really picked a good time to read this, each new chapter makes it more and more interesting. I really like the last names you've given various characters.

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