Wow, long time without a new posting. Betcha thought that SS was dead, eh? Nope, the writer was just lazy. Gym battle this chapter, people! Two-on-two goodness. Written completely different than the game or standard animé battles, so if you're looking for those you'll be disappointed. Otherwise you'll like it. ----------------------------------------------- The man in the military uniform was named Satoru, it turned out, and his partner—a boy only just out of his teens, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of khakis—was named Daisuke. “Two Pokemon each,” Daisuke had explained. “And two-on-two. First team to lose all of their Pokémon is the losing team.” “Fine with us,” Tschel said. He then hissed to Alex, “Use Wartortle first.” Alex nodded. “Pidgeot, go!” Satoru shouted, throwing the ball into the field. “Dugtrio, your turn!” Daisuke shouted, throwing his ball theatrically. Alex and Tschel called out Wartortle and Flareon, respectively. “Wartortle, surf… uh, no,” Alex hesitated; remembering that summoning a huge wave of water would hit Flareon as well. “Water Gun the Pidgeot!” Tschel was a bit more decisive in his strategy. “Flareon, flamethrower Pidgeot right after Water Gun misses!” Alex shot a hurt look at Tschel, but his focus returned to the battle right after seeing Pidgeot dodge Water Gun easily. The Flamethrower, however, hit it dead center in the chest. “Fly up into the air and prepare for Sky Attack!” Satoru shouted. “Dugtrio,” Daisuke called, “Earthquake!” Wartortle and Flareon struggled to maintain their balance through the tremors. The stalling tactic had worked, however, as Pidgeot flew down at mach speed and struck Wartortle, sending the turtle rolling across the floor, knocked out. “Oh man,” Alex said to himself, recalling Wartortle. “Gyarados!” The enormous snake floated menacingly above the ground, glaring at both opponent Pokémon. “Pidgeot, wing attack!” Satoru shouted. Pidgeot flew at Gyarados, striking the serpent at eye level with its wing. Gyarados flinched and then lunged at Pidgeot without orders. Satoru smirked. “Dugtrio, finish Flareon off with Hyper Beam!” Daisuke called. The beam connected solidly with the fire rabbit. Tschel recalled it and sent out Espeon. “Psychic on Gyarados!” Tschel shouted. Alex shot another look at Tschel. Espeon knew what to do, however, and levitated Gyarados into a lunge that hit Pidgeot squarely, flattening it on the ground. Espeon leapt up onto Gyarados' head to avoid further attacks. Satoru growled slightly and recalled Pidgeot. “Rapidash, come out with Horn Attack!” Rapidash was running from the second it materialised out of its pokéball. Whether or not its horn had any physical affect on Gyarados wasn’t apparent to either set of trainers, but Rapidash had succeeded in its ordered goal: it had dismounted Espeon. “Dugtrio, quickly!” Daisuke shouted. “Dig underground and hit Espeon!” Alex smirked. “Been waiting for this. Gyarados, Surf attack!” Gyarados raised its head into the air and roared, causing a torrent of water to engulf the entire room. The walls, all four trainers, the ref, and all of the Pokémon were soaking wet. The ref looked like he was about to call Alex on something, but he decided against it. Despite the fact that the attack wasn’t meant to do damage, Rapidash was still in obvious pain upon being hit with the water wave. However, Dugtrio failed to come up out of the ground. “Dirt stadium,” Daisuke thought coldly to himself. “Made the ground all muddy and impossible for Dugtrio to dig in. These guys are better than we thought.” “Espeon, Psychic attack!” Tschel shouted. Espeon’s eyes glowed brightly, flashed, and then returned to normal. Rapidash was sent hurtling across the floor. Alex smiled at this comeback, but Tschel merely folded his arms and scowled. Satoru being out of the fight, Daisuke waved at the ref. “Yes?” The ref asked. “Seeing as Dugtrio won’t be out of the ground for quite some time, I request to send out my next Pokémon anyways.” The ref thought about this for a second and nodded. “Go ahead.” The corner of Tschel’s mouth twitched. It was an odd call, one that he wouldn’t have made. Taking Dugtrio out of the fight? Was Daisuke mad? “Go, Swampert!” Daisuke shouted. “Quick, Muddy Water them!” Swampert slammed its right foot into the ground. The remaining water from Gyarados’ surf attack spewed at Espeon and Gyarados, muddied by the dirt of the stadium. “Quickly,” Daisuke continued, “follow it up by tackling Gyarados!” Swampert rushed Gyarados. “Espeon, Psychic!” Tschel shouted frantically. Weakened by the attack, Espeon couldn’t focus its abilities enough to deflect Swampert, who tackled Gyarados to the ground with a tremendous crash. “Don’t stop until it’s knocked out!” Daisuke shouted. Swampert, on top of Gyarados, slammed repeatedly at the giant serpent with its arms and tail. Gyarados tried to struggle, but was overpowered every time. “Flail!” Alex called to Gyarados. The serpent made one last, valiant effort to escape, but it collapsed from the beating. Alex recalled it. Tschel’s expression hardened even further. “Swampert just expended a lot of energy keeping Gyarados down, and more to defeat it,” he thought quickly to himself. “But Espeon’s weakened, it can’t focus its powers enough to get off any good attacks.” Swampert lunged, at Daisuke’s order, at Espeon. Espeon dodged, barely. “Espeon’s got the speed advantage but it can’t take very many hits at all…” Swampert finally hit Espeon. It went down and was barely able to get back up. “Come on Tschel, just do something!” Alex shouted. “Espeon, Sand Attack!” Tschel shouted suddenly, taking everybody but Espeon by surprise. The sand kicked up by Espeon caught Swampert between the eyes. “Espeon, quickly, use Bite!” Espeon leapt up and bit down on Swampert. The larger Pokémon flailed, quite blind, trying to get the psychic rabbit off it. Tschel smirked. “Espeon, you know what to do.” Espeon’s eyes glowed and Swampert, in its flailing, began to sway towards the ring’s edge. Espeon released its bite right before Swampert toppled out of the arena. The judge raised his flag towards Alex and Tschel. “This match is over. The winners are Alex and Tschel!” Tschel, who had seemed to be building up an incredible amount of tension throughout the match, released it all in one long, deep breath. “I think we need to work on our two-on-two,” Tschel said to Alex as they went to collect their badges. “Good job,” Satoru said as he handed an Essence Badge to each trainer. “Not many people can strategise a counter to a honed two-on-two strategy on the fly like that.” Tschel scoffed derisively. “We got lucky.” Daisuke nodded. “Right,” he said, not quite believing. Alex followed Tschel back to the hotel. Tschel didn’t feel like he’d really won, and didn’t hide that feeling very well. “Look,” Alex said for the umpteenth time, “we won, and that’s what matters, right?” Tschel sighed. “Two on two is about working with your partner to create teams that are stronger than just the two Pokémons’ fighting strengths put together. I tried to do that and only wound up giving you bad advice. If it weren’t for the luck we had—Espeon using Psychic to attack with Gyarados, or that timing with Surf—we’d have not only lost, we’d have been flattened.” “Tschel,” Alex said, putting a hand on Tschel’s shoulder. “You’re being way too hard on yourself. Who cares if we had a lot of luck? Espeon taking down Swampert like that was some of the best battling I’ve ever seen.” “Marril, marmarmarmar, Marril,” Marril put in. “That too,” Alex said. “We’ll get better at this as we go along.” Tschel sighed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. But right now, I just want to get back to the hotel so I can get some sleep.” Alex understood perfectly. He’d probably feel better after a good long sleep too. Sam wouldn’t have described it as stalking, David following her around like that. At any rate he did seem truly apologetic about what had happened two years ago. She didn’t really like him tagging along with her, though, especially when she wasn’t even planning on doing anything until the Johto League Tournament came around again. She’d win the Indigo League already and wanted to see how well she’d do. “I guess it’s futile,” Sam said, “to try and get away from you. You’d find me in an instant.” David sighed. “You know what happens to me when I do things like that.” Inwardly, Sam didn’t care if David did or not, as long as it was away from her. David must have picked up on it, because his usually depressing demeanour got a little more depressing. “You know, it’s all right if you think that,” David said dejectedly, sensing Sam’s thoughts even though he wasn’t trying to. “I’m only trying to prove to you I’m not a psycho, that’s all.” Sam couldn’t, however, help but feel sorry for David. On one level, she didn’t care if he died, but on another, she knew that he didn’t have any family or friends, and had just went through a rough time with his psychic abilities. Sam raised both of her hands in mock surrender, although she still didn’t turn to face David. “All right, all right,” she said, “You can tag along as long as you want to. Just don’t go crazy.” She knew she’d probably regret that later, but as much as she wanted to deny it, she knew that she was the closest thing he had to a friend. She could tell he didn’t have any sort of romantic interest in her—he was eighteen, she was fourteen—but even a blind person could see how much David needed someone, anyone, to call “friend.” Sam turned into a crowd down Rueni’s main street, David following her. He caught some snippets of conversation about how the gym leaders were just defeated, and he idly wondered who it was that beat them. Rueni’s gym leaders were supposed to be among the best in the world. A rather portly lady who may or may not have strongly resembled a Miltank elbowed through the crowd, unfortunately between Sam and David. The end result was that David lost sight of Sam, and he’d easily get lost in the city without her. Swearing under his breath at his lack of a sense of direction, David elbowed aside Miltank-lady and tried to relocate Sam. Juliet stood in the back of the presentation room, the large screen at the other end of the room showing a DNA sequence being recoded. “What am I looking at?” She asked. The scientist grinned, his missing right canine tooth giving it an odd look. He raised his hand dramatically in the general direction of the screen. “This,” he said, “is Orthan in its final stage. We now need only a month at most, and Orthan will be a success.” Juliet smiled. Finally, things were going her way. ----------------------------------------------- Aaaaaaaaaand that's it for this week folks. TR is getting a new project almost finished it seems. You'll see what Orthan is when (or more likely "if") it goes off. Expect lots of TR being evil for once and lots of Aqua/Magma hate next week.