Chapter 95: Bouts of Glory
The next match after Ash and Max's was Gladion vs Sun. It had been a tough match, and it had finally come down to their last Pokemon: Primarina for Sun, and Crobat for Gladion. Sun was doing his best, but it was clear Primarina was on her last legs.
"Crobat, use Poison Fang!"
"Hold him back with Sparkling Aria!"
Primarina created a massive bubble, which Crobat failed to pop, bouncing right back to Gladion's side of the field right as Primarina launched it, dousing him in tons of water and making it hard to stay aloft.
"Shake it off, Crobat, and use Poison Jab!"
"Aqua Jet, Primarina!"
Primarina shot forward, the bolts of poison bouncing harmlessly off the wall of water. Like a bolt of lightning, she rammed right into the Poison type, launching it into the air.
"Alright, time to finish this with our Z-Power! Oceanic Operetta!"
While Crobat tried to right itself, it felt the sky grow dark. Looking up, he saw a giant bubble about to crash down on him. Slowly, it descended, and all seemed lost, but...
"Dodge and Use Cross Poison!"
Just before it was about to be crushed, Crobat swooped out from underneath the attack, racing towards his opponent with such speed that Primarina couldn't react in time before it was struck by the glowing wings, sending her to the ground unconscious.
"Primarina is unable to battle! The round goes to Crobat, and the battle goes to Gladion of Aether Paradise!"
Despite losing, Sun couldn't help but smile, returning his Primarina to her Pokeball with pride.
"Good job, girl. Get some rest, and there will be a Malasada with your name on it later."
Afterwards, he shook Gladion's hand.
"You did good, Sun. You gave us a hard battle, I almost thought I would lose."
"Heh, I wish. But you deserved it, Gladion. Good luck with your next match."
With that, the two of them left the stadium so the next match could begin. Up in the stands, Ash remained deep in thought until Misty shook his arm.
"You alright there, Ash? You were lost in a trance, there."
"Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Just thinking..."
"That Gladion, is he your new rival? You did seem to tense up when they called his name..."
Ash nodded, still thinking.
"Yeah, and he's Lillie's brother."
"Ouch, that must make it awkward."
"No, but he's not the easiest to get along with sometimes. He's gotten better ever since his dad came back, though."
"So why are you so stressed out? You're not acting like yourself."
"Its just...Gladion has this super powerful Pokemon, and Pikachu and I have never been able to beat it. If I go up against him, and he uses it... I'm not sure if I can come out on top."
Misty could see that Ash was starting to tear up, so she gave him a gentle hug.
"Oh yes you will, and you want to know how I know? Because your Ash Ketchum, and you never back down from a challenge. No matter what that Pokemon is, you'll find a way to beat him!"
Ash smiled, wiping the tears from his eyes.
"Thanks, Mist. Now come on, I think the next match is about to begin!"
Misty chuckled, shaking her head.
"Now that's the Ash Ketchum I know."
Two hours later, The Masked Royal's battle against Dexio began. Things did not go well for Dexio, and at the current moment he was down to his last Pokemon, Mareanie, versus his opponent's 2, the current one being Midday Lycanroc.
"Hydro Pump, Mareanie!"
"Dodge with Stone Edge!"
Lycanroc howled, creating a huge pillar of rock beneath him which shot him up and out of reach, although it crumbled easily under the pressure of the Hydro Pump.
Lycanroc moved swiftly, using debris from his pillar to climb down before ramming the poison type, sending her flying. Just as she started to get up, The masked Royal decided to end it.
"Alright Lycanroc, lets finish her with Continental Crush!"
"Not without a fight, you won't! Hydro Vortex!"
Despite the pain she was in, Mareanie fired off the biggest blast she could muster, trying to knock her opponent out before the giant slab of rock above her landed. But Lycanroc held firm, pushing through the blast long enough for his attack to land, knocking Mareanie out.
"Mareanie is unable to battle! Lycanroc is the winner, and the battle goes to THE MASKED ROYAL!"
The crowd went wild as The Masked Royal bowed proudly. Dexio sighed, returning his Mareanie to her Pokeball.
"I'm sorry, Jesse. I tried my best..."
With that, he left the stadium sadly. After the crowd settled down, the announcer came on over the intercom.
"Congratulations to all of our Semi-Finalists! The next matchups have been decided:"
Ash Ketchum vs Gladion Aether
The Masked Royal vs David Stone
"The Semi Finals will begin. Once more, we wish the lucky four good luck!"
Ash's eyes widened with fear.
"I have to battle Gladion next? Oh, of all the luck..."
Lillie gave Ash a quick peck on the cheek, calming him down.
"You've got this, Ash. I believe in you."
"Thanks, Lillie. And you're right, I do have this! I just need to believe in myself!"
"There you go, there's the Ash Ketchum I fell in love with!"
"I'm going to go train right now! Come on, buddy!"
Ash and Pikachu ran off to train, causing everybody to chuckle at their energy.
"He doesn't know when to quit, does he?"
"No, no he doesn't. But he's your mess to deal with now, Lillie!"
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Iris."