Chapter Three: Showdown at the Battle Palace
Once Ash and Pikachu reached the Pokemon Center, they found Brock still conversing with Nurse Joy at the counter. Deciding it was better to leave him be, they quickly snuck upstairs to their room and wasted no time in preparing themselves for bed. In a matter of minutes, Ash had claimed a bed, laid down his pack, removed his hat and sweatshirt, and was already laying down.
"'Night, buddy." Ash murmured, turning to face his partner. "Tomorrow, we challenge the Battle Palace!"
"Pi-pikachu!" Pikachu said enthusiastically before curling up on the floor beside Ash's bed.
Ash rolled over to face the wall and closed his eyes as he felt himself drift off to sleep...
* * *
Seeing how much in love you two appear to be..." The fancily dressed, teal-haired male known as Oscar began, glancing across the path at Ash and May.
"...We thought we'd offer you a challenge." His similiarly dressed, blonde-haired companion named Andy finished.
Ash and May glanced at each other in disdain. "Us...in love...?" The two quickly turned away from each other at the thought. "Yeah, that's a laugh." Ash said in apparent disgust.
"Ah - ah - ah." Oscar responded, wagging his finger. "That's what young lovebirds always say!"
"And fighting is the first sign of love." Andy explained in a similiar tone.
"It's pretty obvious that you two are in the middle of a fight, right?" Oscar said knowingly, pointing at the pair.
"That means..." Oscar and Andy began in unison, clasping hands. "You two are in love!"
"I don't think so!" Ash and May replied, also in unison.
"Told you! You answered together!"
Ash and May merely grunted in response, still angry at the assumption the couple was making about them.
"Now...we challenge you to a battle!"
"Y-yeah, you mean a Pokemon battle?!" Ash replied instantly, firing up at the thought.
"Yes, but not just any Pokemon battle!" Oscar began.
"A battle that tests the love of any couple..." Andy continued.
"A Pokemon Tag Battle!" The two finished together.
"Yeah, that sounds pretty cool!" Ash said. "A Pokemon Tag Battle...good practice for my next Gym Battle!" He glanced over at May. "May, you want to do it?"
"Uh...I guess so." May replied slowly, considering the possibility. "I don't know about any of that 'test your love' stuff, but...why not! I've got a Contest coming up as well!"
A few moments later, the two pairs had set up positions around a clearing, with Brock as the referee for their battle.
"This Pokemon Tag Battle, with the team of Andy and Oscar, challenging the team of Ash and May, will now begin!"
"Go, Nidoking! Come on out!" Oscar cried, tossing a Pokeball. A moment later a stout, heavily armored purple-and-white dinosaur emerged.
"I choose you, Nidoqueen!" Andy called, releasing her Pokemon as well: a similiar-looking blue-and-white dinosaur.
"Okay...I know they're both part Ground types..." Ash said slowly, grabbing one of his own Pokeballs. "Go, Corphish!"
"Corphish!" The crustacean roared, emerging from its Pokeball.
"Your turn, May." Ash said, turning to his battle partner.
"Hmm..." May said slowly, putting a gloved hand to her chin. "I could use Torchic...but, I could use Beautifly as well...but Skitty's good in battle, too..."
"Come on! Sometime today, please?" Ash nagged hurriedly.
"I'd like to make the right choice, if you don't mind!" May shot back, content in the fact that her ploy to anger Ash had worked. Turning back to the battlefield, she threw a Pokeball of her own. "Go, Skitty!"
"Myaaaa!" Skitty cooed, emerging alongside Corphish.
"Okay..." Oscar began, eyeing his two opponents.
"We'll see if you made the right choices!" Andy announced happily.
"Yeah, you'll see all right!" Ash said arrogantly. "Corphish, use Bubblebeam!"
"Skitty, use Assist, now!"
"Assist? Already?!" Max cried from the sidelines in disbelief.
"Cor...phish-phish-phish!" Corphish cried, loosing a torrent of bubbles from both claws.
"Myaaaaa!" Skitty roared, firing a barrage of fireballs from its paw.
"Whoa, that's Ember!" Max said in a worried voice.
Nidoking braced itself as Bubblebeam streaked toward it, only to be intercepted and nullified by Skitty's Ember.
"Corphish, cor!" Corphish said angrily, glaring at Skitty, who turned to face him and, in turn, blasted him with Ember.
"Just what kind of move was that?!" Ash demanded angrily, looking at May.
"Hey, look - " May began in a huff, then stopped for a second. Reconsidering her words, she finished, "Sorry."
"Show us the love with your Dynamic Punch!"
Nidoking and Nidoqueen both charged up their right arm, charging forward and swinging it at Corphish and Skitty respectively.
"Skitty, use Blizzard to counter that!" May commanded, leaving Ash momentarily confused by her cooperation.
"Myaaa!" Skitty cried, shooting a freezing blast of ice and wind of its mouth at the two oncoming Pokemon.
Both Nidos roared in surprise as they were frozen into a single block of ice.
"Corphish, Crabhammer, go!" Ash cried, shrugging off May's sudden change in attitude for the moment.
"Cooor-phish!" Corphish responded, leaping forward and slamming its claws down on the large block of ice before it, causing it to shatter.
Nidoking and Nidoqueen staggered backward out of the destroyed ice block before stamping their feet on the ground with renewed vigor.
"Hmm..." Oscar said softly, glancing at Andy, who nodded back. "Nidoking!"
"Show us the love with your Submission attacks!"
Both their Pokemon boomed in agreement, locking arms and feet to become a rolling armored ball, heading straight for Corphish and Skitty.
"Whoa, I've never seen Submission used like that!" Max said in astonishment. "As a combination..."
"Corphish, use Harden, now!" Ash called.
Corphish stood glaring at the two oncoming Pokemon as his shell became tougher than steel. The double Submission hit head-on, but Corphish didn't budge, struggling against it.
"Now, use Crabhammer!"
"Coooor!" Corphish roared, knocking the pair of Nidos up into the air as they roared in anger.
"Now, Skitty! Use Assist one more time!" May called.
"My-yaaaaaaa!" Skitty cried as a purple aura encompassed its body, as well as the Nidos, who hovered in mid-air for a moment before being forcefully slammed into the ground.
"All right! That's Beautifly's Confusion!" Max cheered.
"Let's finish this up!" Ash said excitedly, looking over at May.
"Love to!" She responded happily. "Skitty, Blizzard!"
Skitty and Corphish obeyed, and within moments Nidoking and Nidoqueen were lying spread-faced on the ground, unconcious and defeated.
"Wow. It looks like your love is stronger than we predicted." Oscar said as he and Andy recalled their Pokemon.
"You're right. I don't see much point in continuing this." Andy added, watching Ash and May closely as they too recalled their battlers.
"Uh..." Ash and May said together, glancing at each other.
"I don't think..." Ash began.
"...we're really cut out for that." May finished.
"See? Told you!" The couple said, giggling. "You even spoke together!"
Ash and May simply stared at each other, their mouths hanging open slightly, neither one knowing what to say.
"Ash...Ash!" May said, attempting to shake him awake. "Come on, wake up!"
"Huh...wha..." Ash moaned groggily, his eyes slowly cracking open. He was instantly met with the sight of May leaning over him, causing him to do a double-take as he jumped back. "M-May!"
"Yeah...?" She replied confusedly, rising from his bed.
"Boy, you were really out of it, Ash!" Max said from across the room, laughing to himself. "Were you having some kinda weird dream or something?"
"Uh..." Ash muttered, not sure how to respond. "Yeah, I must have." He finished, feigning ignorance.
"Well, it doesn't matter now." Brock said, glancing at Ash with his arms folded across his chest. "You should probably get ready. You did want to challenge the Battle Palace today, right?"
"Oh, yeah!" Ash said, suddenly remembering why they had come here in the first place. "Just give me a few minutes..."
Shortly after, he found himself in the shower, hastily cleaning himself as he rushed to get ready.
"What was all that about?" Ash thought to himself as the cool water washed over him. "I remember that tag battle with Oscar and Andy back in Hoenn...but that's not how it ended. They beat me and May by a long shot, since we were arguing so much..."
He continued to ponder his dream as he shifted positions under the stream of water. "So why..."
A few moments later, he finally just shrugged. "Well, whatever...like Brock said, it's not like it matters now, anyway."
* * *
About an hour later, Ash and Pikachu were happily jogging toward the Battle Palace, with May. Max, and Brock not far behind.
"I wonder if we'll see Nate while we're here." Ash asked to noone in particular.
"If he really is a challenger here, he better have someone other than Claydol to help him out." Max commented. "From what I've heard, the Frontier Brain here's got a thing for using Grass Pokemon."
"Really?" Ash said, already beginning to formulate a loose battle plan. "Guess that means I should start with Swellow...oh, wait a minute!" He turned around to face his friends, but didn't stop walking, despite his words. "Did you guys find anything good at the Safari Zone last night?"
Max's face fell somewhat. "Well, we only got to look around for a little while, cause it was so late, and May didn't even get any Safari Balls..."
"I didn't know you had to pay!" May responded indignantly.
"Well, anyway, I did see a really cool Scyther, but besides that, nothing really special." Max explained, a hint of sadness in his voice.
As the group approached the battle facility, Brock silently noticed the lack of anyone else around, challenger or not.
Once they entered, they were met with a giant room framed with white marble walls, and numerous small exits that mirrored the look of caves, and of course the floor was painted in traditonal style for a Pokemon battle field. Not long after entering the room, an older-looking dark-skinned man with no hair and a long white beard entered as well from one of the caves opposite them, carrying a long staff.
"Welcome!" He boomed across the chamber as Ash quickly moved into the battle square. nearest to them. Pikachu climbed down off his shoulder and instead perched itself on May's head. "I am Palace Maven Spenser!"
"Hey, I'm Ash, and I'm here for a battle!" Ash yelled back as a smaller man filed out of the cave after Spenser, taking a position in the middle of the field: the referee.
"Of course, of course!" Spenser roared jovially. "Then let's not waste any more time, shall we?"
"The battle between Ash and Spenser will now begin! Each side is allowed three Pokemon with no substitutes, and the first trainer to lose all three Pokemon is declared the winner!" The referee paused for a moment as the two trainers stared each other down before lowering both his arms. "...Begin!"
Chapter Four: Battle Palace Finale
"I believe it is customary for the challenger to choose his Pokemon first?" Spenser said, smirking across the battlefield at his opponent.
Ash nodded knowingly as he grabbed a Pokeball off his waist. "Swellow, I choose you!"
"Mm, interesting choice!" Spenser boomed happily as the multicolored bird emerged from its Pokeball. "Now, Shiftry! To my side!"
"Shift-ry!" The hybrid Grass Pokemon cried, appearing across the battlefield from Swellow.
"Wow! A Shiftry!" Max said in awe as himself, Brock, and May made their way to the side of the battlefield to watch.
"All right, Swellow, start things off with Quick Attack!" Ash cried, gesturing to his Pokemon.
"Swellow!" Swellow responded obediantly, taking off and streaking toward Shiftry.
"Getting a bit hasty, are we?" Spenser said, chuckling to himself. "Shiftry, jump away and use Shadow Ball!"
Shiftry leaped away as Swellow continued flying past it, and fired a large black-and-purple energy ball at it. Swellow didn't see it coming in time, and was hit with it full force, causing it to soar into the stone wall bordering the arena.
"Swellow!" Ash called.
Spenser chuckled again, then nodded to his Shiftry. "Now, hit it with your Quick Attack!"
Shiftry, who hadn't even hit the ground yet, hastily obliged his trainer and shot across the field in mid-air, leaving a brilliant white trail behind him as he charged toward Swellow.
"Swellow, quick! Dodge it!" Ash cried.
Swellow grunted in response and shot off the wall, soaring higher up above the field. Shiftry, however, wasn't fast enough to stop, and ended up slamming into the wall as well.
"Now, Swellow! Wing Attack!"
Swellow looped back around to face Shiftry and sped down toward it as both of its wings began to shine brilliantly. Shiftry took the blow hard from above, causing it to be knocked back down to the ground as Swellow soared away.
"Good job, Swellow!" Ash called encouragingly. "Hit it with another Wing Attack!"
"Swell-ow!" Swellow responded confidently, looping around again to strafe Shiftry a second time.
"That's not going to work twice!" Spenser said, a smile on his face. "Shiftry, Double Team!"
"Shiftry!" Shiftry roared, remaining immobile as copies of itself began to materialize around it. Swellow streaked through one of the fakes, causing it to disappear.
"Good work! Now use Rock Smash!"
"Shiftry! Shi-ftry!" All of the Shiftry clones boomed in unison, slamming their leaf-like hands into the stone floor. Dozens of rock shards shot into the air, temporarily creating an airborne minefield for Swellow.
"Swellow, quick! You use Double Team, too!" Ash commanded.
"Swellow!" Swellow cawed, summoning numerous clones of itself as well. A few of them smashed into the rock fragments and vanished as the remaining few weaved around the falling stones.
"Two Double Teams?" May questioned in disbelief.
"That's something you don't see every day." Brock added.
"Pi-ka." Pikachu agreed, all of them watching the battle in awe.
Swellow and two clones emerged from the chaos as the stone shards fell to the ground harmlessly. "Great job! Now, Swellow, use Wing Attack one more time!"
"Again?" Spenser mumbled under his breath. "Shiftry, use Rock Smash once more!"
"Shift-ry!" Shiftry and its clones roared, slamming their fists into the ground for the second time, causing more rock fragments to become airborne.
"Swellow!" Swellow cried as it streaked through the debris with its clones on either side of it. A rock collided with one, then the other, causing them both to flicker out of existence behind Swellow, who was unphased, and continued shooting toward Shiftry.
"Shiftry! Shadow Ball!"
Shiftry boomed yet again as it fired another Shadow Ball into the air. It wasn't aiming for Swellow, though; the attack veered off behind the Swallow Pokemon and exploded into a larger rock shard, causing dozens of smaller pieces to fall down around Swellow.
"Swellow, dodge it, quick!"
"Swell, swellow!" Swellow cawed, nimbly rolling past the falling shards. A second later, it slammed its wings into Shiftry on the way past before rocketing up into the air again, causing the false Shiftry clones to vanish instantly.
"Now! Finish this up with Aerial Ace!"
"Swellow!" Swellow roared, looping around in mid-air and streaking straight down toward Shiftry.
"Shiftry! Use Quick Attack, straight up!"
"Shift!" Shiftry cried, looking up briefly before leaping into the air toward Swellow.
The two Pokemon collided in mid-air, sending both of them plummeting toward the ground. They landed in a heap, both trainers eager to see which would get up first.
A few moments passed in silence, then Swellow slowly rose from the heap, strutting over to Ash's side of the field in victory, though it was clearly injured.
"Shiftry is unable to battle! Swellow wins this round!" The referee called, briefly raising his right arm.
"Pi-pikachu!" Pikachu cooed happily as Brock nodded in agreement.
"You were great out there, Swellow!" Ash said encouragingly. "You ready for the next one?"
"Swell-swellow!" Swellow responded, not wanting to let its trainer down.
"Good job, Shiftry. You tried your best." Spenser said soothingly as he recalled the defeated hybrid. "You and your Swellow make quite the team, Ash. But let's see how well it does against this one...Claydol! To my side!"
"Clay!" Claydol said gruffly, emerging onto the field.
"A...a Claydol?" Max said in wonder. "Just like the one Nate had..."
May nodded at her brother's words. "That's pretty weird..."
Brock remained silent, his eyes locked on the newly summoned Pokemon across from Ash and Swellow.
"Cool, it's another one!" Ash said, oblivious to his friends' concern. "Ready to go, Swellow?"
"Swellow!" Swellow cried, lifting off from the ground at Ash's words.
"Claydol, start us off! Psybeam!" Spenser commanded, gesturing with his staff.
"Do-ol!" Claydol grunted in a low voice, firing twin rainbow-colored beams from its stubby arms.
"Swellow, dodge it and use Quick Attack!"
"Swell!" Swellow cried, soaring into the air high above Claydol's attack. A second later, it swooped down low and slammed into Claydol's thick hide.
"Good job! Hit it with another Quick Attack!"
"Swellow!" Swellow performed yet another midair loop, streaking down to the ground to ram Claydol again.
"Claydol, use Teleport to dodge it!"
Brock hardened his gaze as Swellow flew through thin air, pulling up and narrowly avoiding a collision with the ground. "Not only is it the same Pokemon...it knows the same move, too...?"
"Now! Use Rapid Spin from above!" Spenser cried.
Ash gritted his teeth as Claydol reappeared directly above Swellow and slammed into it whilst spinning, sending it crashing into the ground and pinning it in a drill-like position underneath itself. "Swellow! No!"
May and Max gasped silently as they watched Swellow be forcefully drilled into the stone floor.
"Pika-pi!" Pikachu cried out in concern.
"Swellow! Come on, get up!" Ash called, quickly seeing that there was no way out for his Pokemon.
"Swell - ow - SWELL-OW!" Swellow cried harshly in pain.
"Now, Claydol! Finish up with Hyper Beam!"
Ash glanced across the field in a mix of surprise and anger. It was clear that Swellow was beaten, why did he have to use another attack?
"DOOOOL!" Claydol bellowed, leaping up into the air and fired another set of beams from its arms, this time bright orange ones. They smashed into Swellow hard, netting one final cry out of it before it fell unconcious.
"Swellow is unable to battle! Claydol wins!" The referee declared, raising his left arm.
"Swellow...return." Ash grunted softly, recalling his heavily wounded Pokemon. "You were awesome out there. Take a nice, long rest." He said quietly, replacing the Ball on his waist.
"Who's it going to be next, Ash?" Spenser called happily from across the chamber.
Ash merely glared at him in response, the majority of his respect for the Frontier Brain now gone. After considering his options for a brief moment, he turned to the sidelines. "Pikachu! You up for this, buddy?"
"Pi, pikachu!" Pikachu responded passionately, eager to get revenge for its wounded comrade. It quickly clambered down from May's head and ran across to the battlefield on all fours.
"Ah! Your prize Pikachu, I see." Spenser said. "This should make for an interesting match, indeed."
Ash couldn't recall ever mentioning Pikachu to Spenser, but quickly shrugged off the feeling.
"Pika!" Pikachu spat back angrily, glowering at Spenser's Claydol.
"Pikachu, use Quick Attack!"
"That seems to be your star attack today." Spenser commented, mostly to himself, as Pikachu took off running toward Claydol. He did nothing as Pikachu slammed into Claydol's chest and continued going.
"Now, Quick Attack again!" Ash called, intentionally copying his strategy from before.
"Pika!" Pikachu cried, jumping and rebounding off the wall, effectively turning itself around without losing momentum.
"Claydol, you know what to do!"
"Clay!" Claydol murmured in acknowledgement, disappearing into thin air as Pikachu dashed through it.
"Pika..." Pikachu growled, stopping and looking around the arena, anxious to find its opponent.
"Doooool!" Claydol bellowed, reappearing above Pikachu and initiating a Rapid Spin as it fell.
"Pikachu, don't move!" Ash ordered suddenly.
"Pika?!" Pikachu shot back incredulously as Claydol smashed into its back, pinning it to the ground in a manner similiar to Swellow.
"Ash, what do you think you're doing?!" Max cried. "Pikachu can't stand up to that kind of attack!"
Ash merely grinned.
Suddenly, sparks began shooting across Claydol's bloated body. Within seconds, its limbs had frozen up completely, causing it to topple over onto the ground, freeing Pikachu from its attack before it had even really begun.
"What is this?!" Spenser exclaimed in surprise.
"That's Pikachu's Static ability!" Ash explained, a hint of triumph in his voice. "Way to go, buddy! Now hit him with Iron Tail!"
"Pii-ika!" Pikachu cried, regaining its vigor and it leaped into a frontflip, slamming its glowing white tail into Claydol's chest on the way out of it.
"Dooool!" Claydol moaned in agony as Pikachu slammed his tail into its chest, again and again.
"Claydol, quickly! Teleport away!"
"Claaay - !" Claydol cried in-between strikes from Pikachu, vanishing into thin air for the third time. He quickly reappeared on the other side of the field, still toppled over on his side and unable to move.
"Pikachu, go get him! Use Volt Tackle!" Ash roared, forgetting that the Electric-type move wouldn't do anything against Claydol.
"Pika!" Pikachu cried in agreement, clearly forgetting the type rule as well. He began charging toward his opponent, loosing a constant chant of "Pikapikapikapikapika!"
Moments before impact, however, Claydol vanished yet again.
"Wh-what?!" Ash cried in astonishment, looking up into the air to see a rematerialized Claydol, now free of Static's paralyzing effects. "Pikachu, above you!"
Pikachu couldn't stop in time due to the momentum of his charge. Claydol slammed into him from above, causing the yellow aura around him to vanish and pinning him to the ground again.
"That's good, Claydol! Now, Rapid Spin!"
"Claaaaay - dooool!" Claydol bellowed, drilling Pikachu into the marble floor beneath him.
"Pi-ka...chu...!" Pikachu moaned in a strained voice.
"Pikachu! No!" Ash cried. None of Pikachu's move would allow him to get out of it, and Static wouldn't work on Claydol a second time.
May, Max, and Brock stared on in horror as Pikachu's strength slowly ebbed away under Claydol's brutal assault. After a while, May was forced to look away, unable to bear looking at Pikachu suffering any longer.
"Pi...ka..." Pikachu grunted in desperation, struggling to push the larger Pokemon off his back, but to no avail.
"Now, Claydol...! Use Hyper Beam!" Spenser ordered.
"No!" Ash exclaimed, reaching out toward Pikachu.
"Do-ol!" Claydol boomed, halting his Rapid Spin and leaping up into the air above Pikachu. He lingered there for a moment, locking eyes with the Mouse Pokemon, who looked back up at him with pleading eyes. Then, he fired the twin beams.
The bright orange streaks smashed into Pikachu brutally, throwing him across the field with the blast and landing him at Ash's feet, severely injured and unconcious.
"Pikachu is unable to battle! Claydol wins again!" The referee called, raising his left arm again.
"So, Ash, which of your remaining Pokemon is strong enough to take on my Claydol?" Spenser asked as Claydol made his way to his side.
"Pikachu..." Ash murmured, holding back tears. "I-I'm sorry..."
"What was that?"
Ash summoned his courage, then looked up and glared Spenser straight in the eye. "I'm not using any more Pokemon. I'm through battling here." He paused a moment as his companions gasped. "If this is how you fight your battles, then I don't even want your Frontier Symbol."
Without another word, Ash scooped up Pikachu in his arms and walked out of the arena.
"A-Ash! Wait a minute!" May cried, glancing briefly across the room at Spenser before taking off after her friend, along with Brock and Max.
Sorry about the lengthy double posting thing. I thought it was the most efficient way to upload all the chapters I've done so far.
What do you guys think?