Pokemon: Legendary Adventures (The Journey Begins) @flyg0n
Getting Ghosted

Chapter 13 is finally here! Apologies for the wait. Also, I have 40 followers which is incredible! Yay and thank you!

And I see someone caught my not-so-subtle Cars 3 reference last chapter, lol.

Coming up, Koa seeks to challenge the Hearthome gym. But is Fantina going to actually be there this time?

Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Drain

Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

Anubis (Male Houndour) {Ability: Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

Scrapper (Male Breloom) {Ability: Effect Spore} - Seed Bomb, Mach Punch, Stun Spore, Giga Drain

"So where will you head now?" Koa asked. He and Kitto stood a short ways outside the gates of Hearthome. Kitto was heading away from the city, whilst Koa would be staying to battle Fantina.

Kitto tapped his chin. "Well, I have some business to settle in Unova."

"Unova?" Koa knew a little bit about the region. It had once been ruled by two legendary dragons, Reshiram and Zekrom. Beyond its legendaries, he didn't really know a whole lot about the region itself, however. Joltik hailed from there. But he hadn't heard much else impressive about the region. He certainly couldn't imagine what Kitto would want there. "Why there?"

Kitto smiled, but it wasn't quite friendly. It almost looked... devious? "I'll tell you about it when I get back. I don't expect to stay there too long. I'm coming back to Sinnoh to train more."

"Have fun then," Koa said, shrugging. "Let's exchange numbers, so we can catch up later. Maybe even have a rematch. Of course, I'll win."

Kitto chuckled. "Keep dreaming." He pulled out a phone of his own. In a few moments, the exchange was done.

"So what about you?" Kitto asked. "What are your plans?"

"After Hearthome, I think I'll keep heading north. It'd be awesome to go to Celestic Town before Veilstone. There's some ruins there dedicated to Dialga and Palkia. I've always wanted to see them in person."

"That's good. But what are your plans? Your goals, long term. Are you planning to challenge the league?"

Koa hesitated. "My plans?" he asked.

"Sure. If we cross paths again, I want to know how much closer you are to achieving your dreams," Kitto replied.

An uneasy feeling formed in the pit of Koa's stomach. He hadn't exactly mentioned his real goals very often to many people. Yet at the same time, he wanted to tell Kitto. "Well... for starters, I want to climb Mt. Coronet and find the Spear Pillar. The whole area around the peak is filled with crazy strong pokemon. So that's why I'm challenging the gyms. To get stronger."

Kitto nodded but didn't say anything.

After a moment's hesitation, Koa continued. "After that... I want to catch a legendary."

Silence fell for a few seconds. Kitto simply nodded, a small frown on his face. Koa found himself filled with anxiety. Maybe he really was crazy for trying to catch a legendary.

"That's..." Kitto began. "One of the coolest things I've ever heard."

"Seriously?" Koa asked, more than a little shocked.

"Seriously," Kitto said earnestly. "I've never really met anyone who wants to do that before. That's pretty cool."

"So you really think it's possible then?" Koa blurted.

Kitto looked at Jackie, then back at Koa. "I doubt that anything is impossible with pokemon."

A wide grin spread across Koa's face. Relief washed over him, which quickly grew into resolve. "Thanks," he said simply. Somehow, getting validation, even just from one person, made him feel that much more determined.

Kitto nodded. "We'll keep each other accountable for our goals." He held out his hand. "Deal?"

"Deal!" Koa shook it. He bid him farewell, then headed for the gates of the city. As he strode through the gates of Hearthome City, his mind was already on tomorrow's match with Fantina. Despite the lateness of the hour, several large groups of people gathered together in clusters, talking loudly amongst each other. As he wove his way through the crowds towards the Pokemon Center, he mostly tuned them out. Whatever it was, he could check out later, or find out about it tomorrow. Then, a single word caught his attention.

Entei.

He whirled in the direction of the person who said, paying attention to the conversation for the first time. Singling out a young woman on the fringe of one of the crowds, he tapped her shoulder urgently. "Excuse me, miss?"

"Hm?" she glanced at him, though her gaze darting back to the crowd made him think she was only barely listening.

"What's going on?" he asked urgently.

"Did you just come into town? Everyone's been worked up because someone said they saw Entei just a couple hours ago!"

"WHAT?!" Koa shouted. He took a step back, his jaw hanging open. Entei was here? "Where? Where did they see it?"

The girl, who had already turned her attention back to the crowd, glanced at him briefly.

"East of the city, in the woods."

The words had barely left her mouth before he sprinted madly for the exit.

xXx

A yawn dragged itself from Koa's mouth as he trudged back towards Hearthome's East gate. Fighting off another yawn, he took out his trainer ID and showed it to the guard. His eyes drooped and his body ached. His mind felt foggy and dull, and he could barely focus. The guard examined his ID, then glanced up at Koa.

"You were out searching for Entei as well?" The guard asked, his tone sympathetic.

Koa managed a nod. It was well past midnight, and he'd spent the last... he wasn't sure how long, scouring the woods for Entei. He wasn't the only one either - he'd met at least thirty other trainers, explorers, researchers and the like also in hunt of the legendary. Unfortunately, it seemed no one had seen it. Aside from its supposed original sighting, it had vanished.

"A shame. Bit odd though," The guard mused.

"Odd how?" he mumbled through a yawn.

"Well, don't those three dogs or whatever usually roam around Kanto and Johto?"

Koa nodded. "Yeah, but they seem to roam everywhere, like the birds. People have seen Moltres in Kalos region, and Zapdos too. I think they go anywhere."

The guard nodded thoughtfully. "Huh. Never knew that. Well, you better get some rest. Perhaps tomorrow you'll have more luck."

Koa waved farewell and trudged into Hearthome. He wasn't surprised, really. Finding a legendary was considered almost impossible for a reason. But the incident made his desire even stronger. Because he didn't just want to meet one. He wanted to battle one, and then do what no one else had succeeded in. Catch one.

xXx

Koa's heart beat a little faster as he strode through the streets of Hearthome, heading for the gym. He still felt a hint of tiredness after staying out so late yesterday, but he pushed it away. He couldn't wait to beat Fantina in particular. The fact that she'd left her gym for that long really rubbed him the wrong way and he had been planning exactly how he would beat her gym. Anubis would be a guarantee, of course. It would be his first proper gym battle, and he was looking forward to seeing the results of his training. Then he would use Tyrunt. Her Bite attack would be invaluable, as well as the raw strength of Dragon Tail and Ancient Power. After that, it was anyone's game.

He'd looked up Fantina in the database, and discovered she had a Gengar, Drifblim, and Mismagius. Depending on how her Pokemon fought, he planned to use Hazard or Echo. Hazard would be helpful against Drifblim. He was already plotting ways to use Joltik's small size to catch Fantina off guard. Of course, Echo's unpredictable flight could be useful as well.

In high spirits, he jogged up to the doors of the gym and pulled the handle. The door didn't move. Pausing, Koa stared at it. No... He tugged the door again, but it didn't budge. Letting out an angry yell, he kicked the door. Then he quickly glanced around, hoping nobody had seen his little display. Fortunately, the street around the gym was fairly empty.

Koa sat down on the curb and sighed. How could Fantina be gone from her gym again? He stared blankly into the distance, trying to figure out what to do. He briefly considered calling Kitto to see what he was up to, but dismissed the thought. He wanted his gym badge. There was always Veilstone, but then he would have to backtrack to Hearthome again.

Muttering vile insults under his breath, he stood up. Maybe he could at least go back to the Pokemon Center and train. It would be better than sitting around.

"Hey!" A young girl ran past him, then stopped to look at him. "Hurry up! Cynthia is by the North gate! I heard this crazy trainer challenged her and her Garchomp!"

Koa perked up immediately. No way would he pass up the chance to see Champion Cynthia. He sprinted after the girl, following her north towards the gates. As he approached, he heard the explosive sounds of a battle. He raced faster, bursting out of the gate. A large crowd had gathered around the outside of the gate and beyond that, he could spot Cynthia's Garchomp in the air.

Shoving his way to the front (and earning himself a few dirty looks), he broke through to the front just in time to see a familiar Hitmonchan collapse, unconscious. A quick glance confirmed his suspicions - Kitto stood at one end of the battlefield. He looked equally determined, yet calm. He returned Jackie then murmured something to the pokeball. Koa glanced to the other side of the battlefield. Champion Cynthia stood there, standing tall and looking absolutely intimidating next to her Garchomp. She wore a black overcoat, black undershirt, and long black pants. Her pale blond hair cascaded down her back, almost reaching her knees. Koa couldn't help but stare in awe of her. He'd only ever seen the Champion in videos. In person, she was a bit terrifying, he thought. Yet her face looked surprisingly... pleasant. She had sharp gray eyes, but they looked kind as well. She wore a pleasant smile as Kitto approached her.

The crowd fell silent as Kitto walked across the battlefield and shook her hand. "Thank you, Cynthia. Next time I challenge you and Garchomp, Jackie and I will win."

"I hope you do," Cynthia replied. Kitto nodded in acknowledgment before turning and walking away.

Koa simply stared at her, intrigued. She exuded a quiet strength that actually kind of reminded him of Kitto. A half an idea formed in his mind and he sprinted over to Cynthia.

"Cynthia, battle me!" he blurted. He cleared his throat, composing himself. "My name is Koamaru Averon. Champion Cynthia, please have a battle with me. All of my Pokemon against one of yours."

She regarded him curiously, tilting her head to the side. "And why do you want to battle me?"

"I want to make a deal. If I can defeat just one of your Pokemon, then I would like a badge from Hearthome gym." He stood as straight as he could, staring into her gray eyes.

She stared at him evenly for several seconds. "I apologize, but I can't accept." Her gaze seemed genuinely regretful.

Koa's face fell. "Why?" he protested.

"I don't mind taking on challengers, but it isn't my task to hand out gym badges."

"I've been to Hearthome twice now and Fantina isn't at her gym. I want to earn her badge but I can't."

Cynthia nodded in understanding. "I understand Fantina has been absent for quite some time. It's actually the reason why I'm here in Hearthome. Come back to the gym tomorrow morning at nine. I should have a solution for you by then."

"Ok," Koa said. He was sure that if the Champion had a solution, it would be a good one. Far better than trying to defeat one of her monstrous Pokemon. "Thank you."

By now, most of the crowd had dispersed, though a few people lingered, basking in the presence of the Champion. Koa decided to head in the direction he saw Kitto leave in. He spotted the white-haired trainer not far in the distance, walking back into the city.

"Hey! I thought you were leaving Hearthome," Koa said, falling in step beside him.

"I was. But I ran into Cynthia. I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I challenged her, and she agreed." They walked through the gate back into Hearthome. "Did you finish your gym battle?"

Koa's face darkened. "No," he spat. "She still isn't back." He brightened. "But Cynthia said that she is going to help. I'm supposed to meet her outside the gym tomorrow."

"That's a relief. I can only sympathize with trainers who actually need her badge to get into the league," Kitto said, shaking his head.

"Anyways, how was your battle with Cynthia?"

"Excellent. We actually got a couple of hits on Garchomp. Of course, Jackie isn't strong enough yet to beat her. We still have a long way to go. After I take Jackie to the Pokemon Center, we're going to go train some more."

For the next couple hours, Koa hung out with Kitto, at least until he finished restocking supplies and had Jackie checked out at the Pokemon Center. He bid him farewell once again, then returned to the Pokemon Center. He sat in the lobby by himself for several minutes, pondering his next move. As impatient as he was, he supposed there was little he could do but train.

But before training, research. Every gym leader had a publicly available list of their league-approved team. Moves were the only thing kept secret. The only way to know a gym leader's moveset was through battle or finding someone who knew. However, the only thing Koa was really interested in was Fantina's style. While gym battles weren't televised or recorded, contest matches were. If he could find some of Fantina's old matches, he could get a feel for her battle style.

A quick search on the Pokemon Center's computers found him everything he needed to know. Soon, he was skimming through old contest footage, watching her battle rounds. The only Pokemon she seemed to use often was a Drifblim. For the most part, it was a typical Ghost-type. Strong, unpredictable, and wily. One detail did catch his attention, however. Her use of Hypnosis.

Hypnosis was a tricky tactic, one that was usually used at a distance, not unlike Confuse Ray. Apparently, she had developed her own twist on the technique. Drifblim would slip past a Pokemon's defenses, seize it with its ghostly appendages, then fire Hypnosis. The constant use of a long-range technique at short range threw her opponent's rhythm off. It was clever, he had to admit. Great for contests too, since it showed off Drifblim exceedingly well. But it could be countered.

His mind whirled with ideas as he made his way out to the battlefield, and set his backpack down on a bench. Out of curiosity, he carefully removed his Egg and peered through the glass of the incubator. It still looked the same as ever - pale blue shell with a few white dots and a cream colored patch at the very base. It didn't seem to have changed much, nor was it moving, but he knew eggs could take a long time to hatch. He set the egg on the bench anyway. He remembered reading somewhere that the Pokemon inside the egg could sense the outside world still.

"Hey there little buddy. My Pokemon and I are gonna do some training, so you can watch if you like."

Ever so slightly, the egg twitched. Koa's eyes widened and he leaned closer, wondering if it would move again. To his disappointment, it remained still. It wasn't surprising, though. Eggs took a long time to hatch.

Turning away, he tossed out all his pokeballs. One by one, each of his Pokemon emerged. They greeted him with varying cries, though Hazard's seemed a bit subdued. Perhaps he was just feeling bored? "You okay, Hazard?" Hazard chittered and nodded quickly, giving off a few sparks. Koa eyed for a moment, then shrugged. He seemed to be fine for now, at least.

"Hopefully we can challenge Fantina tomorrow, but for now, we'll do some training." He flipped to the note section on his Poketch and scanned through it. Dark Pulse and Flamethrower were on his list for Anubis. For Rascal, he planned to start working on Crunch, then start on Dragon Claw. Hazard's moves he was quite satisfied with, for the time being, which meant only Echo and Scrapper were left. He'd done a bit of research and discovered that Golbat could actually learn Acrobatics through training as well as a TM. He was considering trying to teach him the technique instead of Wing Attack. And lastly, he had Scrapper. His moveset was solid, but he definitely wanted to switch it up now that he evolved. Sky Uppercut was one that really excited him. From there he had a lot of ideas he was toying with.

For now, though, he wanted to start on Rascal. Teaching her Crunch was his first task. "Okay Echo. Can you show Rascal your Crunch attack?"

Echo nodded and flew a few feet into the air.

"Rascal, watch him carefully."

She narrowed her eyes and nodded. Echo opened his jaws even wider. A dark glow formed around his fangs, then enlarged. He snapped his shadowy jaws together a few times, then let the glow fade. He shrieked something to Rascal, who nodded in understanding. Koa grinned and dragged out a training dummy. "Think you're ready, Rascal?"

She nodded, a dangerous grin spreading across her face. Turning to face the dummy, she snarled at it, then opened her jaws wide. They glowed white for a moment. She closed her eyes and her body tensed. The white aura shifted, becoming darker and edged in black. With a mighty roar, she charged across the battlefield and leaped at the statue, snapping her jaws shut on its head and tearing it off.

Koa's eyes opened wide. Whoa. Now that was power. Rascal grinned maliciously, then repeated the technique twice more, shredding the training dummy to nothing more than a pile of rubber. She roared triumphantly, then kicked dirt over the remnants of the dummy.

"Sick!" Koa murmured. That kind of power would destroy Fantina for sure. She trotted over to him and butted his leg, and he patted her on the head. "Good job, girl."

He looked over at the rest of his Pokemon, contemplating. "Okay everyone. Before we learn any more new moves, let's do some training." Their moves right now would easily get them by. What he really wanted was some power trainer. "By the time we challenge Fantina, I want to be able to destroy her." His Pokemon roared, barked and shrieked their agreement.

"Rascal, Echo I'm pairing you two up. I want Rascal to practice Crunch on a moving target. Echo, use every trick you know to dodge her attacks." The two nodded in agreement. Echo shrieked at Rascal, making her eyes widen. She snarled back, then leaped at him. He swooped out of the way, then waggled one wing tauntingly. With another roar, she charged him again. Good. The training would not only help Rascal learn Crunch better, but hone Echo's evasive tactics. After watching them a moment, he turned to the rest of his Pokemon.

"Okay let's see... Hazard, how do you feel about helping Scrapper improve his accuracy?" Hazard chittered eagerly.

"Scrapper, you and Hazard will work together. I want you to practice using Seed Bomb on him. Try to predict where he will move, and target him. Hazard," he turned to Joltik. "Make it hard for him, ok?" The two moved a short ways off and began to practice. Then Koa turned to Anubis.

"Alright, Anubis. Today you're going to learn Flamethrower." Anubis' eyes lit up and he began to jump up and down eagerly. Koa chuckled and pulled out his Pokedex once again. He brought up a page on the Flamethrower technique and quickly reviewed the explanation. The gist was fairly simple, especially if the Pokemon already knew Ember.

"Looks like Flamethrower involves supercharging and focusing your Ember attack. So instead of Ember, you'll learn this, okay?"

Anubis nodded, eyes still shining with eagerness.

"So instead of just shooting small flames, take a moment to charge it, then focus the fire into one stream. Got it?"

Anubis stared at him for a moment, a rather amusing frown on his face, then nodded slowly. Koa dragged out another training dummy and set it up. "Okay, try it here."

Turning to face the dummy, Anubis opened his jaws, then spat a tiny stream of flame. Or rather, it was closer to be a more focused spray of embers. It lacked any of the cohesiveness and power from an actual Flamethrower attack. Koa sighed inwardly. He definitely didn't blame Anubis - Flamethrower was much more challenging than Ember, after all. But he hated being patient for anything.

Anubis whined pitifully.

"Don't worry, Anubis. Just keep practicing. And remember to charge your fire first for a second. Now try again."

Anubis nodded, then opened his jaws. He paused for a half-second before spitting another weak stream of focused Ember's at the target. They fizzled out before striking it, but Koa noted that the Ember attack at least looked a little stronger.

"Again," he said, suppressing a sigh. It was going to be a long day.

xXx

Koa flopped onto his back, exhausted. Above him, the moon hung high in the sky, surrounded by a sprawling array of stars. He'd spent the entire day training, working out, and developing techniques. His whole body ached, and his Pokemon were flopped on the ground around him, panting. It had been well worth it, though. Anubis had finally mastered Flamethrower. It wasn't terribly strong, but it was definitely a Flamethrower. The power of Rascal's Crunch was insane, though she had only succeeded in actually hitting Echo twice. As for Scrapper, he'd gotten to be an excellent shot - though Hazard had nearly driven him mad with his evasion tactics.

In addition to the move training, he'd worked for a bit on a technique he'd dubbed Sticky Shield. It was the same tactic Hazard had displayed during their battle with Wake, and simply involved Hazard spinning a large sum of webbing and throwing himself into it. He was quite excited about the applications of it. Feeling quite satisfied, he turned in for the night.

And, if by some miracle Fantina was at her gym tomorrow, then Arceus help her - because he was going to destroy her.

xXx

At exactly 8:55, he stood outside the doors of Hearthome gym, mustering as much patience as he could. Fortunately, he didn't have to wait long. He heard footsteps behind him and turned around. Cynthia strode up to the doors, alongside a woman he recognized well from pictures - Fantina. She wore her usual outfit, her pinkish hair tied into a strange bun, an elegant ball gown dress, and white gloves that stretched up to her elbows. She was nearly as tall as Cynthia, though lacked any of the presence.

"Ohohoho hello young trainer!" she called as she approached. She spoke with a peculiar accent, one he'd never heard before. "You have come to challenge me, non?"

Koa managed a nod. It was all he could do since there were a host of terribly rude things he wanted to say that definitely wouldn't be appropriate. He glanced at Cynthia, curiously. She wore a faint, pleasant smile, and nothing about her body language belied her emotions. But her eyes were another story. Whereas yesterday they were alight with interest in her battle, respect and generally pleasant demeanor, something had changed. There was a tightness around them, and they looked hard as steel and cold as ice. They made Koa shudder - she definitely looked displeased. He privately wondered if it had something to do with Fantina.

She spoke, her voice betraying nothing of what he saw in her gaze. "If you don't mind, Koamaru, I would like to watch your battle."

Koa's eyes widened. The Champion wanted to watch his battle? "Sure," he said, still in shock.

"Très fantastique! Let us get straight to our battle." Fantina declared. With a dramatic flourish, she led the way inside her gym. Koa followed her, glaring daggers at her back. Within a few minutes, he stood across the battlefield from her, while Cynthia chose a spot in the bleachers.

The referee stepped into place. "The battle between challenger Koamaru and Gym Leader Fantina will be a three-on-three match. The match will continue until all the Pokemon on one side are unable to continue. In addition, only the challenger may substitute Pokemon. Fantina, please send out your first Pokemon."

Fantina flashed a dazzling smile. "You know, ever since I came here, always I try to learn new things. They hold Contests in this city? I say to myself, enfin, I will excel. That is why I dress this way. C'est une performance!" She gestured dramatically, making her dress swish. "That is what I try to bring to my battles! I try to-"

"Can we please just battle!" Koa blurted. He quickly shut his mouth and risked a glance at Cynthia. He hadn't meant to be rude, per se, but he wasn't interested in what she had to say. Cynthia, to his surprise, wore an amused smile.

Fantina, however, looked a bit put off. She silently selected a pokeball. "Mismagius, my dear, come forth!"

In a splash of light, her Mismagius emerged onto the field, giving a haunting cry. It stared at Koa with its odd red gaze, and Koa glared back. He thought he detected a hint of surprise in its gaze, but he wasn't sure. He took a moment to evaluate her Mismagius. From what he knew, it was her strongest Pokemon. If he could take it out, the rest of her team should be fairly easy. He also knew that Fantina had been a Top Contest Coordinator not long ago. She liked to incorporate an elegant flair to her battles.

With a grin, he selected Rascal's pokeball. He tossed it onto the field and she emerged with an eager roar.

Fantina frowned at the sight of the dinosaur. Koa suspected she'd probably never seen one before.

The referee raised his arms. "Battle begin!"

Koa remained silent, hoping she would pick the first move. He wanted to keep Rascal's Crunch attack secret until he could score a direct hit. If he could get her good, he could end the fight in a few strikes. Plus, after yesterday's training, he was certain his Pokemon were stronger than her team. Maybe not her real team, but the league approved gym team she used.

He already had a plan, too, one inspired by Kitto, a way to catch her completely off guard.

"Magical Leaf!" Fantina called. Mismagius eyes began to glow, and a flurry of glowing leaves materialized in front of it. It fired them rapidly, aiming them with deadly precision. "Ancient Power," Koa said calmly.

Rascal quickly shot off the silver boulder of energy, striking the Magical Leaf midair. A small burst of energy and smoke exploded outwards. Rascal's Ancient Power hadn't been very strong, but it had been just enough to dissipate the attack. Mismagius let out a cry of triumph, hovering just a few feet above the ground.

"Stomp!" Koa said. Rascal glanced back at him, confused. He nodded at her. "Just trust me."

Fantina chuckled and smiled. "Such moves will not work against my ghost type beauties! A good trainer would know this, non?"

Koa simply smiled. With a roar, Rascal charged at Mismagius. She leaped high into the air, then twirled, bringing her foot straight down towards Mismagius. As Koa expected, she passed harmlessly through Mismagius' body, the normal type attack doing no damage.

"Quick, Dragon Tail!" A smile spread across Rascal's maw as she landed, right below Mismagius. Green energy wreathed her tail. Barely had her feet touched earth before she spun and smashed Mismagius in the side with the attack, sending the Ghost-type reeling. It crashed hard into the ground and slid.

Koa saw Fantina's jaw actually drop, and she froze up. Time to end this. "Crunch!"

Rascal lunged across the field, jaws rippling with shadowy energy.

"Shadow Ball!" Mismagius eyes opened wide, but the command had come too late. As it started to gather the energy, Rascal's jaws shut around its wispy body. It wailed eerily in pain as Rascal shook it. She tossed it to the ground, sending up an explosion of dust.

The dust quickly settled, revealing Mismagius' unconscious form.

"Mismagius is unable to battle. Tyrunt is the winner!"

Koa grinned gleefully. With any other Pokemon, it would have been harder, he was sure. But Rascal was probably his strongest. That, coupled with her insane jaw strength, made her the perfect one for the job. "Nice work, Rascal!" She growled happily.

Across the field, Fantina looked stunned as she returned her Pokemon. Likely she hadn't expected her strongest to be taken out so easily. Of course, she probably hadn't been expecting a challenger to use a normal type attack on purpose, either.

Recovering her composure, she tossed out her second Pokemon. A Gengar emerged, cackling and darting about the field, before settling in front of Fantina again.

"My next Pokemon is quite impressive, oui?" she called. Koa eyed it. Gengar were pretty tough pokemon, not to mention they were Poison and Ghost-type. Still, he was certain Rascal could handle it. That said, he wanted to give his other Pokemon a chance. He took out Rascal's pokeball.

"Rascal, return."

Then he selected Anubis' pokeball and released him. He emerged in a burst of light, barking a challenge at Gengar. It cackled at its opponent, a wide grin stretched across its face. Its red eyes glinted mischievously.

"Battle, begin."

"Flamethrower." Anubis growled, then blasted a stream of flames from his jaws.

"Dodge!" Gengar easily flitted out of the way, zipping back and forth across the battlefield.

"Keep trying to hit it," Koa commanded.

Anubis sprayed the battlefield in flames, but only succeeded in grazing Gengar once.

"Enough," Koa said, after several seconds. Anubis growled and ceased his attack. Gengar had more agility than he expected. Going after it would be pointless, so perhaps he could play the patience game.

"Howl."

Throwing his head back, Anubis howled. Power flowed through him.

"Poison Jab." Gengar darted across the field, one of its arms glowing a deadly purple.

"Dodge, Thunder Fang," Koa called quickly. As Gengar approached, Anubis sprang to the side, narrowly dodging Poison Jab. His jaws had already begun to crackle with electricity, ready to retaliate.

"Duck!" He yelled the command on instinct, recalling his fight with Kitto. Anubis ducked just as Gengar swung its other fist. The second Poison Jab attack passed over Anubis head. He twisted around, sinking his Thunder Fang attack into Gengar.

Gengar gave a shriek as its body was shocked. Anubis tossed it away. It caught itself easily, glaring furiously at its opponent.

"Flamethrower." Anubis quickly fired a stream of fire at Gengar.

"Dodge!" Gengar tried to dodge left, but was cut off as Anubis quickly blasted a second Flamethrower, catching it in the side. It screeched in anger and floated upwards.

"Night Shade." A dark shadow grew around Gengar's eyes, then a jagged beam of black energy shot across the battlefield.

"Dodge, Howl." Anubis leaped left, then right, narrowly dodging the attack. He howled again, charging up his strength.

"Shadow Claw." Gengar's claws grew larger, doubling in size and turning pitch black.

"Bite through them!" As Gengar flew across the field, Anubis charged him, his jaws glowing with energy. He snapped them shut on Gengar's claw. Koa saw him flinch visibly - taking an attack like that didn't nullify damage completely, only reduced it - but it was successful. The force of Bite, combined with his power up from Howl, enabled him to break through Shadow Claw and deal a grievous blow to Gengar.

Gengar staggered backwards, panting. "Gengar, Poison Jab."

"Bite again!"

Anubis lunged, closing his jaws around one of Gengar's claws, just as Gengar struck Anubis in the side with Poison Jab. The Houndour was knocked backward, but remained standing. The same, however, could not be said for Gengar, who lay unconscious.

"Gengar is unable to battle, Houndour is the victor."

"Yes!" Koa cheered. Anubis barked happily, then staggered. For the first time, Koa noticed the purple sheen and sickly gleam in his eyes. The last Poison Jab had poisoned him. As Fantina returned Gengar, he returned Anubis. She stared at her Gengar's pokeball for several seconds. Finally, she put it away and selected her final pokeball.

"Oh, heavens. What is this? Is this my final Pokémon?" she said, her voice filled with surprise. "No matter, you will have to fight hard to defeat this one!" She dramatically tossed out her final pokeball. A Drifblim emerged, to no surprise of Koa's. He'd been waiting for this Pokemon. With a grin, he selected Hazard's pokeball. He would enjoy this.

"Go Hazard!" He saw Fantina's eyes widen slightly at the nickname. No doubt she was trying to figure out what Pokemon he was sending out. When Joltik emerged in a splash of light, her gaze softened. "What a fantastique little creature, non?"

Koa ignored her comment, focusing on the battle instead.

The referee raised his hands. "Battle, begin."

May as well start with a bang. "Hazard, Electroweb."

Hazard began to charge up the familiar electric attack, firing the web a second later.

"Ominous Wind!" Drifblim's eyes glowed in response to the command, and it waved its strange feeler like appendages. The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees and a purple-tinted breeze stirred up, then shot towards Hazard. It easily dispersed Electroweb and battered Hazard before fading. Koa frowned. Hazard would need to get close to do real damage.

"Now, Will-o-wisp my dear." Drifblim's eyes shined an eerie blue and a circle of blue flames appeared, floating around its body. The flames blazed through the air, approaching Hazard quickly.

"Sticky Shield," Koa called quickly. He'd never used the technique in battle, not since he'd used it against Wake. He had no idea if it would work, but it was surely worth a try. Hazard began to gather the webbing in his jaws, then, using a precision honed from their practice yesterday, launched it only a few inches into the air. He sprang upwards, colliding with his own webbing and surrounding himself in a cocoon. A moment later, Will-o-Wisp struck, burning away the webbing in a few moments.

Hazard flinched in discomfort, but shook himself and chittered confidently. Koa grinned. It had worked! Though he'd still taken a small amount of damage, it had nullified the worst of it. Although he supposed the technique would really only work with fire-based moves. Otherwise, Hazard risked becoming trapped. Pushing away his thoughts, he focused on the battle.

"How will you fare with my signature technique? Hypnosis!" Drifblim darted across the field in a rather impressive display of speed, then grabbed onto Hazard with two of its feelers, easily securing him in place.

A nasty smile shot across his face. Finally. The moment he'd been waiting for. "Electroweb!"

Hazard shot the attack just as Drifblims eyes glowed red. The electric webbing struck Drifblim directly in the face, shocking it soundly. Both Fantina and her Pokemon emitted matching cries of shock. Koa couldn't blame them - resisting the technique on the fly would have proved difficult. Fortunately, yesterday's training had come well in handy.

"String Shot." Hazard fired a thin, precise web at Driflbim. The web latched onto its face.

"Gust, blow it away!" Fantina cried frantically. Drifblim clawed the Electroweb off its face, then summoned a burst of wind. It easily picked up the tiny Joltik, but fortunately, Hazard had already latched on with String Shot. He was lifted into the air, but his String Shot remained strong. For a few seconds, he was tossed about mercilessly, like a kite in the wind. Then the Gust attack let up briefly.

"Secure it," Koa commanded. Using Gust's momentum, Hazard swung through the air, over Drifblim's head, and onto the ground on the other side. In effect, he had succeeded in binding Drifblim in one place. The balloon Pokemon floated upwards, pulling at the web, but to no avail.

"Electroweb," Koa called.

Fantina's frantic voice cut through Drifblim's panicked cries. "Free yourself with Will-o-wisp."

Even as Drifblim generated the ghostly flames, burning through the webbing, Hazard had already launched Electroweb. The webbing struck Drifblim in the side, shocking it again. It let out a ghostly wail and floated backwards several feet, its odd eyes showing signs of wear. Its body was beginning to look a bit battered, and Koa suspected that it was almost done for.

Time to end this battle and get his badge. "Giga Drain."

Hazard's eyes shined green and he fired the beam of energy at the weakened Drifblim. Its entire body started to glow as its energy was leeched away.

"Gust!" Summoning whatever strength it had left, it started to summon a burst of wind. Then it stopped short and collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

"Drifblim is unable to battle. Challenger Koamaru is the winner."

Koa stared silently, surprised for a moment. "Yes!" he cheered. Hazard jumped up and down eagerly as well, sending out a shower of sparks. He stared across the field, grinning wildly as Fantina returned her Pokemon. She murmured something to the pokeball before putting it away. Her bright performer's smile returned to her face and she strode across the battlefield towards him.

"I am dumbfounded! So very, very strong! You, your Pokémon, so strong! Your power is admirable! I shall honor it with this Gym Badge!" As she spoke, she produced a gym badge and handed it to him. Koa took it, managing a nod. He couldn't bring himself to say thank you. He'd not only won fairly easily, but he was still annoyed that it had taken so much trouble to get it. She gave him the usual case of prize money, which he gratefully accepted.

He couldn't help but smile inwardly at the irony of everything, however. If he'd battled Fantina yesterday, he would have had a much harder time. Not that he would have lost, but it would have been a real challenge. But thanks to yesterday's extra training, his Pokemon were quite a bit stronger. Her absence had ensured her demise.

"That was a fine match, Koamaru," Cynthia said.

Koa glanced over to see her descend from the spot on the bleachers. As always, she appeared composed and amiable, but he swore he detected something else in her gaze.

She turned to address Fantina. "Now Fantina, I believe there is something else you intended to tell this young man?"

He glanced back and forth between Cynthia and Fantina. What could Cynthia be referring to?

Fantina sobered ever so slightly. "Ah yes! I must offer you an apology! You see, I was off training and developing my new battle style, so I could not be present at the gym. I am sure from now on I will not have to leave often."

Koa felt his lip curl and he bit his tongue. Her apology sounded much more like an excuse to him. A million thoughts rushed through his head of what he wanted to say. Instead, he just gave a tight nod.

"That is actually what I am here to speak to you about, Fantina." Cynthia's voice interrupted Koa's thoughts. He turned his full attention to her, curiosity burning inside him.

Fantina turned to Cynthia, tilting her head slightly and regarding the Champion with a curious look. "Oui?"

Cynthia took a breath, then began. Her tone was calm, but there was a steely edge to it. The amiable demeanor that she displayed to young fans was entirely gone. "As a gym leader, you serve an instrumental role in a trainer's growth. However, it has come to my attention that you have frequently taken long trips away from the gym, and have been closing it in your absence. Is this true?"

"Oui, but I must, for you see I am constantly developing new strategies and techniques for contests and battles. I must always present a flair for challengers, non?"

Cynthia smiled thinly. "I'm afraid that is not acceptable. As a gym leader, you have a responsibility. Trainers must earn a badge from your gym in order to compete in the League Conference. I have been patient and refrained from exercising judgment because I hoped you would resolve it on your own. However, I cannot continue to allow a gym leader to be constantly absent." Cynthia paused. Fantina's demeanor had subdued notably. "With that said, I am afraid I must exercise my powers as Champion to temporarily remove you as gym leader."

Fantina's face fell, though only slightly. "You are saying I may no longer act as gym leader?"

Cynthia nodded. "Yes. For a period of six months. During that time, an associate of mine, Delilah, will be acting as a temporary gym leader. At the end of that period, you may apply once again for the position, if you wish."

Fantina's face fell slightly, then brightened. "Then in that time, I must rediscover myself through judging contests!" Some of her former enthusiasm returned.

Then Cynthia shook her head. "Sinnoh law states that any Contest Judge who fulfills two roles, may not participate unless they are able to prove they are capable of handling both roles. Just as Nurse Joy keeps the Pokemon Center running in her absence, your responsibility was to keep the gym running. Until you become gym leader again, you cannot judge a contest."

Koa eyes went wide and he resisted the urge to grin. He glanced towards Fantina. Her face had fallen into a frown, and for the first time since the conversation began, looked truly upset. She started to open her mouth, as if to protest, then stopped.

"I understand," she said, simply.

"Good. You have a chance to learn from this. Do not waste it," Cynthia said, allowing the barest hint of sharpness into her voice.

Hearing that, Koa wondered if she was far angrier than her behavior let on. She nodded in farewell to Fantina, then strode for the door. Koa quickly followed. His business at the gym was done, anyway.

As they stepped outside, Koa started to head for the Pokemon Center. It felt too awkward to say anything to Cynthia after what he'd witnessed, though he couldn't deny that it made him quite happy to see Fantina suffer judgment. Clearly her behavior had gone on too long. Cynthia, however, stopped him, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. He faced her, staring up into her gray eyes.

"Koamaru, are you wondering why I allowed you to witness that conversation?"

Hesitantly, he nodded.

She began to speak, her voice soft, yet firm. It was rather teacher-like. "Everyone in this world bears a responsibility of some kind. Some seem grand, such as my duty as Champion or Nurse Joy healing injured Pokemon. But in truth, all responsibility is crucial. A trainer bears a responsibility to his Pokemon and his fellow trainers. To be a good sport, to care for and love their Pokemon. When people ignore their responsibility, the world begins to darken. The world we live in today is beautiful because people treasure the responsibility they are given." She paused, her gaze hardening. "In order to preserve our way of life, everyone, from the most inexperienced trainer to the greatest Champion, must uphold their responsibility." Her grip on his shoulder tightened, but only slightly. He stared solemnly at her, absorbing every word she said.

"That includes you, Koamaru. Do not believe that the role trainers play is insignificant. Accept and treasure the responsibility you have." Koa nodded. Even if he could have thought of something to say, he wasn't sure he could have spoken. His mind felt as if it were reeling.

Cynthia flashed an amiable smile and backed up a step. "Of course, it is clear that you are doing excellent. Your bond with your Pokemon is strong, so they are strong. If you keep on your path, you will go far."

"Thank you," Koa said quietly.

"I look forward to meeting you and your friend Kitto again. Perhaps one of you may be able to beat me." With a final smile and wave, Cynthia turned and strode away, her black coat rippling in the wind. Koa watched her go, a sense of awe still filling him. He slowly walked back to the Pokemon Center, lost in his thoughts. The day had gone unexpectedly. He was glad though - it had been a good day, and he still felt pleased seeing justice done to Fantina. Cynthia's words stuck with him, and as he returned to the Pokemon Center, he vowed to remember them.

Once he arrived at the Pokemon Center, he stopped briefly at the battlefield. He released Rascal, Anubis and Hazard. Rascal greeted him with a happy growl, and Anubis barked.

"You guys were amazing today! We totally destroyed Fantina!"

Both Rascal and Anubis grinned happily. Hazard, however, chittered quietly, and Koa noticed a dull sheen over his eyes.

"Hazard, what's going on?" he asked worriedly. Perhaps Hazard was sick. This was the third time recently he'd acted off. Suddenly, his body flashed white briefly. A shower of sparks flew from his tiny body, and he trembled violently. His body shook as it glowed again, then he slumped to the ground, unconscious.

Panic filled Koa. "Hazard!"

Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Giga Drain

Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Crunch

Anubis (Male Houndour) {Ability: Flash Fire} - Flamethrower, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

Scrapper (Male Breloom) {Ability: Effect Spore} - Seed Bomb, Mach Punch, Stun Spore, Giga Drain

Ahh, I can't resist me a cliffhanger ending. Boy, I hope Hazard is ok. What could be wrong with him?

Discussion time! So it always bothered me that Fantina got away with NEVER being around in the DP anime. Several times she was absent from her gym. Challengers need her badge to compete in the league, and she's off galavanting. So I did throw in my personal bit of justice, along with Koa curbstomping her. I never really liked her in the anime especially. Gym leaders need to take their responsibility seriously.

I also wanted to say that, after a great deal of thought, I am switching to Bi-weekly update schedule. Work and real life is getting busier and I prefer being able to maintain quality and consistency, so every two weeks on a Saturday or so is my plan for now.

There's not much else to discuss, I think. As usual, thank you to my readers, reviews and followers. You make my day :D

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