A/N: Wow. I'm so sorry it took me this long to get this chapter ready for you all! At first, I didn't have any problems with writing this chapter, but then, by the time I got close to the end, I suddenly kept hitting potholes with my creativity. The action sequences I was writing looked terrible to me, and I even realized some of them probably belonged in the chapter that comes next. I kept rewriting and revising the second half of the chapter, and it was just a hassle overall. Because of this, it might take longer for me to get the next chapter out, because I'm sensing an overall dislike with how I'm writing Pokémon battles. At least I had a month's worth of free time to go over this.
And man, what a month it's been, and I'm not just talking about my ability to update my stories! Last month, my home state's just issued a statewide "stay-at-home order", which pretty much translates to total lockdown. Which is excellent (obvious sarcasm is obvious). Anyway, you bet I'll be spending this period of time writing this chapter and new chapters for my other stories, so I guess there's a bright side to this!
One last thing before I begin: this two-part action sequence just turned into a three-parter. I don't think I will be able to effectively wrap up this entire action sequence in this chapter. I'll be stuffing too much into this chapter otherwise, even with the overall length I've planned for this. So...congratulations! You'll be seeing some more action in the next chapter!
Alright, enough rambling! On with the chapter. ENJOY!
P.S.: I don't mean to go on a tangent here, but I found a pretty interesting Tumblr account, called "Performers of Kalos". Or "Future Kalos Queens". I don't know; I'm still trying to get the hang of Tumblr, even after all of this time. Just look up "Performers of Kalos Tumblr" on Google. It should be the first couple of hits you see. Now, I am bringing up this account because, just like me, they have an entire catalog of Performers that have appeared in the XY saga, even the ones that didn't get any names. But unlike me, this Tumblr user went the extra mile to give their own names to the unnamed and underappreciated Performers. Now, I'm not going to use any of the names on that list, but I'm now imagining those are the names for all of the Performers we see in the background.
P.P.S.: Due to the ever-worsening situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak, I'm going to have to remind you all about the basic steps you should take if you want to stay healthy, courtesy of my university's reminder emails:
-Wash hands often with soap and water for 20-30 seconds at a time, and/or use hand sanitizer
-Avoid close contact with people who are sick
-Keep your hands away from nose, eyes, and mouth (I can't imagine how difficult this part is probably going to be)
-Eat well, get adequate rest, and exercise regularly
-Get a flu shot if you haven't already and are able to
And if you ARE sick (I hope you get better if you are), please be a good sport and save other folks the trouble of getting sick. You can do this by:
-Covering your mouth and nose with your sleeve, elbow, or a tissue whenever you sneeze or cough
-Not sharing food and drinks with others
-Avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes (Again, I understand this is probably going to be difficult)
-Avoiding close contact with others
-Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects
-Staying at home if you're unwell (PRIORITY NUMBER ONE!)
-Staying calm and keeping yourself well-informed (My personal advice)
If you already know this, then great! If you didn't know any of this beforehand, please keep that information in mind as we all go through this trying time. It's a realm of unknowns at this point, and I wish myself and all of humanity well.
Edit: I had to correct some errors FantasyLover88 pointed out. Thanks for the heads-up!
"H-Hey! C-Come back here! I'm-I'm not a threat!"
Foster continued running after the trio of Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff, but they floated through the air faster than he anticipated. When they turned around the corner of a hall and he did the same, he found that they had maintained and even increased their distance from him.
"Jeez!" the farmhand wheezed while stopping to clutch his kneecaps. "Those three sure are in a hurry! They're probably looking for their Trainer or something-"
Then, before he could resume running, he heard a distant, muffled explosion. He yelped out in surprise, feeling the walls and floor rattle loudly.
"Whoa, what the?!" Foster looked around, but didn't see any signs of structural disturbance. "What was that?"
Just then, he heard another distant explosion. Acting on instinct, Foster ran after Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff again, feeling something tugging at his gut.
For a couple of additional minutes, he followed the three Pokémon, turning corners and opening doors, before he finally wandered into yet another hallway...where he saw a cloaked person standing a considerable distance away.
"P-Pa-Pa-Pachirisu!" the person stuttered in a feminine voice. "D-Di-Discharge!"
A loud, shrill squeak filled the hallway, followed by a bright-blue bolt of electricity that barreled through the air. This was followed by a loud, bestial roar of pain.
"AAAGGGHHH!" another voice cried; this voice, masculine and aggressive, was startled by the sudden Discharge. "WHAT IN BLAZES?! AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!"
"OOH!" yet another voice vocalized. Foster recognized this one.
"Aria?!" the farmhand thought in surprise.
"Whoa, what was that?" another familiar voice, that of a boy, asked. "W-Who did that?"
At that moment, the cloaked person ran further away from Foster, and he realized that she was joining Aria's side. Then, she tore off her cloak, and Foster was stunned to see a girl around his age, who had blue hair and blue eyes that were almost reminiscent of his. She was wearing what appeared to be a Showcase outfit, consisting of a blue, rose-shaped top hate, black elbow-length gloves with blue collars, a blue-striped gown-like dress, black knee-length socks, and white heels with golden circles on them.
"Evelyn?!" the boy cried.
"Evelyn?" Aria and another girl asked at the same time.
The blue-haired girl nodded. "D-Do-Don't worry, U-Un-Uncle A-Ash, A-Au-Auntie S-Se-Serena!" she cried. "I-I'm here t-to he-help y-y-you guys o-o-out!"
"Okay," Foster thought, feeling his mind go blank. "What'd I miss...?"
"Hey. Wake up."
Selene forced her eyelids open with a gasp, and the first thing she saw was a glowing green aura. Then, once her vision adjusted itself, she realized the green aura was in the shape of a stump...which was attached to the end of an arm. With a quivering lip, the little girl slowly looked up and was soon greeted by the sight of a single red eye, peering at her from a sentient tree trunk.
"Good girl," the voice said. "Trevenant, stand down. I don't think our guest here will be a threat to us."
The Trevenant gave Selene one last terrifying glare before taking a step backward, its Wood Hammer dissipating into thin air. As the Elder Tree Pokémon withdrew from her position, Selene saw the man of her nightmares towering over her, his flanks taken by his Chesnaught and Shiny Sceptile.
"You know," Parker said with a smirk, "after I heard you were the sister of that Yancy girl, I once had...doubts about your lineage. But after seeing you in action, side-by-side with your father's own efforts to intervene in my business (or, rather, the bratty young version of your father), I must say, you truly are your father's daughter." He snorted derisively. "Always sticking your neck out for a worthless Pokémon. Believing that humans and Pokémon can coexist as friends. Bleh. What a naive, childish way of thinking."
"It's not childish!" Selene snapped defiantly. "People and Pokémon ARE friends!"
"Pokémon are tools to settle our conflicts. Where do you think Pokémon battling saw its origins? Certainly not because a couple of people were bored and had some wild Pokémon on standby. And besides..."
He unfurled his hands, which had been behind his back this entire time. Selene's eyes grew wide in horror at the sight of the steel cage dangling from his right hand; in it, Celebi was tucked away in a corner, shivering and recoiling at the very gaze of the Pokémon poacher.
"If humans and Pokémon are supposed to be friends, why do certain Pokémon such as these keep running away from us on sight?"
"CELEBI!" Selene cried, catching the Time Travel Pokémon's attention.
"BI!" Celebi squeaked back, retreating from its corner and trying to grasp the cage bars.
But once it touched said bars, there was a loud zapping noise, followed by Celebi violently collapsing and writhing, bolts of electricity coursing through its body.
Selene watched as Celebi was electrocuted for a couple additional seconds. Once the last of the electricity fizzled out and left the Time Travel Pokémon grimacing in pain, she shot a hateful glare at Parker's direction.
"You leave Celebi alone!" she shouted. "You're hurting it!"
"You didn't answer my question," Parker replied, his expression calm and stoic. "If humans and Pokémon are supposed to be friends, then why do certain Pokémon such as these-" He shook the cage lightly, much to Celebi's discomfort. "-Keep running away from us on sight?"
"Because they're rare! Some Pokémon don't need to be caught! And they definitely shouldn't be kept in cages!"
"Cages, you say?" Parker set the cage down to the floor and crossed his arms. "So tell me, little girl...that Pichu of yours, how long have you had it?"
Selene refused to respond, instead puckering her lips stubbornly. She wasn't going to tell this cruel poacher all about the special relationship she had with Pichu.
Sensing she was not going to answer him, Parker said, "Pichu, like many, many other Pokémon, was caught, by your own admission, with a Poké Ball. Caught to serve as, what, your playmate...? I'd assume as your eventual starter Pokémon as well...?"
Selene still didn't respond, which only served to confirm Parker's suspicions.
"I caught Celebi, a rare Pokémon that, according to you, should never be caught. And I'm keeping it in a cage. Poké Balls lock Pokémon away when they're no longer needed by their Trainers. So, tell me, does that sound familiar?"
Selene gritted her teeth, for she recognized the argument Parker was making.
"Tell me, girl." Parker's voice was more forceful this time. "How's that any different from what you've got going with your Pichu? What sets us apart?"
"Because Poké Balls can be more than just cages, you big meanie! They're the ultimate shields for Pokémon! And at least Pokémon can come out of their Poké Balls when they need to! But you're using an actual cage! Celebi can't get out even when it needs to!"
Parker arched his eyebrow. "Poké Balls...more than just cages? The ultimate shields? HA! From where did you learn that moronic drivel?"
"From my DADDY!"
The poacher gritted his teeth. "It figures..."
When he turned his back on her, Selene shouted, "My daddy's met so many people like you! And he's heard so many bad excuses about why they treated their Pokémon so horribly! And he has always told me why they're wrong! Do you wanna why?!"
"Oh?" Parker looked over his shoulder. "Do enlighten me."
"Because deep down, those people are just big, big bullies! They all feel so small on the inside that they need to pick on defenseless Pokémon just so they can feel bigger!"
"Oh?" Parker's pupils started to tremble with fury. "So that's what you think of me?"
"Yeah!" Selene stood up on her feet, and at that moment, she realized her hands were bound behind her back; not that she cared. "You're a big, mean, nasty BULLY who needs to pick on Celebi to feel better!"
All of a sudden, Parker lurched forward, grabbed Selene by her shirt, and effortlessly lifted the young girl in the air. Fear immediately flooded her mind, but she refused to let it show in her face. Instead, she stared down the Pokémon poacher and his quivering, fury-laced eyes.
"You've got a big mouth too, little girlie," Parker snarled. "I can see where you get that in your family."
"Just you wait until my mommy and daddy get here!" Selene cried, her voice trembling slightly. "I can't wait till they kick your sorry BUTT!"
"So...annoying..." The poacher raised a hand high in the air. "Your parents clearly didn't teach you discipline. Perhaps it's time I made up for their shortcomings-"
Parker froze, and Selene craned her neck to see a Jumpluff hovering towards its Trainer. It had a small radio and a Holo Caster-like device strapped to its body.
"What is it, Jumpluff?" Parker growled irritably while lowering his hand.
The Cottonweed Pokémon nudged its chin towards the device strapped around its body. Realizing what it meant, Parker gently laid Selene on the floor and pressed a button on the device, triggering it to project a three-dimensional hologram that spanned the entire width of the hallway the group was in. They watched as a trio of Trainers and their Pokémon all surrounded a stout, Dedenne-like man and his Hawlucha, who were under the tight grip of Grass Knot.
Selene's eyes widened upon recognizing some of the people in the hologram.
"BIG S-" she began, but Chesnaught used Vine Whip to cover her mouth.
"NO!" the Dedenne-like man squealed. "Pl-Pl-Please don't hurt me! I have a family, I beg you!"
"So do I," Yancy snarled. "And my sister's missing. So you're gonna tell me what exactly you're after, or I'm gonna make sure you suffer."
"This is live?" Parker asked, and the Jumpluff nodded in affirmation. "Ah. I knew I shouldn't have relied on that idiot and his cronies." His eyes narrowed at the sight of Yancy and Nate's holographic images. "Especially when it comes to those Arceus-forsaken kids. It's a good thing I anticipated this..."
Selene tried to say something to Parker, but her voice was muffled by Chesnaught's vine. The poacher ignored her as he continued watching the live holographic feed.
"The two-way audio feature on your radio is not activated yet, right?" Parker asked.
"Jump-jumpluff," Jumpluff replied with another nod.
"Excellent... I order you to transmit the code-red signal to your squad. Tell them to move in and keep Gray and Ketchum distracted." He trained his eyes entirely on the Dedenne-like man. "This one-celled man is about to cave, and we can't let that happen. Not when we've just barely begun."
Shauna stared longingly at the back of Calem's head as he walked alongside Clemont. Dedenne was currently in the lead of their group, followed closely by a glum Bonnie, and then the teens, with Shauna coming in last. The Antenna Pokémon scurried along the well-lit but barely-occupied hallway, stopping on occasion to sniff the air for anything and let his ears and antennae-like whiskers twitch.
"So, Clemont," Calem said, "where does the map say we are?"
"According to it," Clemont replied, peering into his father's cellphone, "we should be entering...the VIP area."
Calem looked around the hallway, seeing no one but a few employees cleaning the tables that appeared to be there just for show.
"But there's no one keeping guard. We should've encountered one person, at the very least, who'd ask for our ID."
"Hm, yeah..." Clemont looked around as well. "That is pretty strange... But this gives us an opportunity to keep moving forward! We need to cover as much ground as we can if we're gonna find Selene and Celebi."
"Yeah, definitely. If we don't, we're not gonna hear the end of it from Serena."
Calem chuckled for a moment to ease up the tension hanging in the air, which Shauna couldn't help but absorb. She had heard her fair share of laughter during her journey, and by that point, she had amassed a number of different categories for each person's laughter she would overhear. Naturally, her favorite category was the kind of laughter everyone should be using every day, that of happiness and joy. She enjoyed hearing and especially provoking it. Any day can be made for anyone with the power of laughter. That was her personal philosophy.
Naturally, Calem's laughter fit into that category...and then some... Hearing his voice and his happiness, no matter what the context, was particularly invigorating to her. It was angelic, like hearing the voice of Arceus himself...
"Seems like someone has a cruuuuush... And for the first time, it's not Serena!"
"Yep," she thought. "I have a crush on Calem. Great."
Then, Shauna remembered what Selene and Nate told her about her future with Calem, back at the hotel. She could still recall the jubilation she felt when she learned all about her happy life with Calem.
"Me being Monsieur Pierre's successor?" she thought longingly. "Him being a research assistant? It just sounds so...right. Even if Calem doesn't really strike me as the scientific type, I can still imagine him looking good in a white lab-coat and fooling around with equipment and caring for the Pokémon that he's researching..." The tan-skinned girl sighed. "And... Ohhhhh, I wonder how our children are like? I hope we're good parents. Well, I assume we are, since Nate spoke highly of them. What were their names again? Savannah aaaaannnnnd...Elio! Elio, that's right! ...Those are pretty nice names. I think I picked both of them. Those names sound like names I'd pick. I wonder how good of a husband Calem would be in the future-?"
"EEK!" Smoke shot out of every orifice on Shauna's head. "Y-Y-YE-YE-YES?!"
Calem blinked slowly. "Ummm...are...are you okay, Shauna?"
She knew she must've looked like a total wreck, but nevertheless, Shauna stammered in response, "Why, y-ye-yeah, I-I-I'm okay! Wh-Wh-Why would I n-n-not be?!"
Calem blinked again. "Oooookaaaaayyyyy..." He cleared his throat. "A-Anyway, I was gonna ask you, um...how's Serena doing?"
Shauna arched her eyebrows. "Come again?"
"L-Like...is she happy as a Pokémon Performer? How hard is she working? Does she feel a lot of pressure onstage? Y-You know...that kind of stuff."
"Wh-Why're you asking me? You should ask Clemont!"
"He's not the one with hands-on experience on being a Performer. You do. And plus, you're Serena's closest friend in this venue. If she trusts you, then I trust you."
Shauna blushed intensely. "O-Oh! Th-Tha-Thank you." She looked away bashfully. "B-But...why're you so curious?"
"I just wanna know if my cousin's truly happy up there."
"Well, she is." Shauna smiled fondly as memories of Serena's performances flooded back to her. "I know you're up in the stands, watching and cheering her on and everything. But it's nothing compared to performing alongside her. If you had a front-row seat, then you'd see how much fun she'd have up on the stage. You'd feel the energy coming out of her. It's like... It's like she was born to be up there."
Calem arched an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
"Uh-huh." Shauna's lips curled upward a little more. "It's like she's a completely different- No, not a different person. It's like...she's showing her true self."
"Her true self, huh?" Calem stared ahead with a fond smile of reminiscence. "Yeah, I can see why you'd think that."
Shauna looked at him. "C-Calem?"
"Ummm...f-forgive me f-for asking, but...what was Serena like? Wh-When she was younger?"
The boy chuckled. "Shy, sheltered, fragile. That kind of person."
"Oh! I kinda got that impression when I first met her at the summer camp-"
"But that was when she was traveling with Ash," Calem interrupted. "You should've seen her when she was younger. She was prone to crying and always hiding behind someone's leg. And if there wasn't a leg to hide behind, then she'd always find a shadow to hide under. Preferably mine." His eyes narrowed Couldn't make a decision for herself. "And she couldn't make a decision for herself. A lot of the kids in my family liked to take advantage of her."
"Oh..." Shauna looked down at the floor. "I know that feeling..."
Calem looked at her again. "You do?"
"W-Well, n-not really." Another blush crept onto Shauna's face. "As I was growing up, I was somehow the only girl in my neighborhood. It was no-girls-land. The only reason I had Tierno and Trevor to back me up is because they were teased by the other boys too. Dancing and taking photos weren't exactly activities the other boys liked to encourage."
"Wow," Calem replied sympathetically. "I'm...I'm sorry to hear that."
"Oh, d-don't mention it. The experiences toughened me up." Then, Shauna sighed. "I'm still surprised Serena and I grew up in the same hometown. From what you've told me, we could've used each other's company. We were just a couple of streets away, and yet we didn't know the other existed."
"Fate has a really weird way of bringing people together. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Ash, Ash of all people, was the same boy from that summer camp that Serena kept yapping on about."
Shauna blushed again as soon as she remembered Selene and Nate's description of her future with Calem.
"Y-Yeah..." she said. "F-Fate is weird..."
"Anyway, we can't dwell on the past. There's nothing we can do to change it, no matter how hard we try."
"Yeah, that's true too." Shauna looked sideways at the boy, her face wearing a slight smirk. "You're quite a philosophical guy, Calem."
"Really?" Sheepishly, Calem scratched the back of his head. "I've always thought of myself as more of a scientific type of guy."
"Really now?" Then, Shauna added in her mind, "If only you were there to hear what Selene and Nate had to say about what kind of work you'd be doing..."
"Anyway," continued Calem while giving Shauna a smile, "thank you, Shauna, for being Serena's friend."
Shauna's face turned as red as could ever be. There was something about that smile of his that impaled her heart like an arrow. An arrow shot by Cupid itself. That smile, it was just too overwhelming for her mind to wrap around!
"Y-Yo-You're w-we-we-wel-c-co-co-come," she stammered.
At first, Calem was confused, but he continued. "Uhhhhh...I was gonna say I was feeling pretty worried about Serena..." Upon mentioning his cousin's name, his lips twitched into a smile. "Like I said before, she was always relying on me for protection. For the longest time, I thought she'd never be able to function on her own. But it's good to know she's found her calling, as well as great friends such as yourself."
"EEP!" Shauna couldn't hold herself back. "Th-Tha-Tha-Thank you, C-Ca-Ca-Calem!"
"Hm?" Calem's smile disappeared. "Are you sure you're okay, Shauna?"
"Y-Ye-Yeah! O-O-Of c-co-course!"
"Really? You've been acting pretty weird these past few minutes-"
"I-It doesn't m-matter!"
"Are you sure?"
"YES!" Shauna squeaked, her voice cracking.
Invisible steam was jettisoning out of her nostrils like she was an agitated Tauros. At the corner of her eye, she could see Bonnie looking over her shoulder and giving her a sly smile...the same kind of smile she reserved whenever Serena was in the throes of her crush on Ash. This comparison served to freak Shauna out even more.
"S-S-So! W-What w-were you g-gonna s-sa-say, C-Ca-Calem?!"
Calem opened his mouth and was about to say something when Clemont spoke up first.
"Hold it, you guys!"
The inventor's low, serious voice sent chills running down to Shauna's spine. She looked up to see Clemont hiding behind a wall, just at the edge of the hallway curve. At this point, there was no one else in the hallway besides them...and yet, a low, menacing voice was filling the hallway.
"What is it, Clemont?" Calem whispered, his eyes narrowed.
Clemont didn't respond, and instead, he beckoned the rest of the group to fall in behind him with a hand-wave. Shauna watched as the blond inventor slowly peeked his head out from behind the edge of the wall. As he did, she continued to hear the voice speaking. At first, there was something inherent about it that made her skin crawl, but as the person kept speaking, she realized, with a dawning horror, why exactly she was intimidated.
"You're an idiot. Then again, I didn't expect anything less."
Shauna, Calem, Bonnie, and Dedenne joined Clemont in peeking out of the wall. From their position, they could see the familiar, imposing figure of Parker standing in the middle of the hallway, his back facing them. Flanking his sides were his Chesnaught and Shiny Sceptile, while his Trevenant was keeping guard over a tied-up Selene. Right beside his foot was a cage of sturdy metal, and through its bars, Shauna could barely see Celebi whimpering and cowering.
Then, they noticed the holographic image Parker was addressing, an image that was being projected by what seemed to be a Jumpluff. They could vaguely see the glowing faces of Nate and Yancy staring back.
"Parker?!" they cried.
"Yes, me. As this amoeba-brained imbecile was saying-"
"Hey!" a voice cried from the background of the holographic feed.
"He's working for me."
"He's working for him?" Clemont repeated to himself. "Who's working for him?"
"Probably a no-good lowlife," Calem growled.
"He was supposed to stay back and lay low," Parker continued, entirely oblivious to the presence of Shauna's group, "but I guess that's what you get when you are forced to rely on idiots to assist you. Fortunately, I anticipated this, hence my little, ehhh...intervention. You should be lucky I stepped in for you, Nick. Your usefulness has yet to expire."
"What do we do?" Bonnie asked, warily eyeing Selene and then the Trevenant looming over her.
"Nenene?" Dedenne squeaked quietly.
"So you're the one behind all of this!" Nate shouted. "Where's Selene?!"
"We gotta get Selene and Celebi away from them," replied Clemont. "Unnoticed."
"How?" Shauna asked.
"She's safe," Parker replied in the distance. "For now. As is Celebi."
"Well, Parker, Sceptile, Chesnaught, and Jumpluff are focused on that hologram. We only have Trevenant to distract."
"If you hurt her, Parker, I swear to Arceus-" began Yancy.
"Yancy, wait!" Nate cried.
Parker snickered malevolently. "Heh heh heh heh heh. You're quite courageous today. A bit of a far cry from the girl who's always relied on good old Nate Gray to save the day. But I suppose that's what happens when your precious little sister is in danger. I'd find it admirable...if I didn't have a stronger urge to vomit."
"But we can't just confront Trevenant," Calem replied. "As soon as it sees us, it'll alert the others."
Suddenly, the others heard Clemont chuckle ominously. They turned their heads at him and saw the familiar shine in his glasses. Bonnie's face fell instantly.
"You assume we must rely on our brawn, Calem," the inventor said, "when we have the ultimate weapon on our side: our brains! Beho-!"
"If this is about that stupid watch again," deadpanned an irritated Bonnie, "I'm gonna have Dedenne destroy it before it blows up in our faces again."
"Nene!" Dedenne squeaked in agreement.
Clemont gagged and nearly fell over before recomposing himself. "No, my dear sister," he replied with renewed vigor and confidence. "It's not about the Amazingly Accurate Wristwatch."
The little girl beamed. "Oh. Good."
"It's about an application of the Amazingly Accurate Wristwatch."
The little girl blinked. "Say what?"
"Give Selene back right now, Parker!" Yancy screamed in the background. "Or you're going to be sorry!"
"Unfortunately," Parker replied with a terrible sneer, "it seems like your brains have not caught up with your courage. You see...you forget what is at stake here."
Upon hearing that, Shauna peeked her head out from behind the wall again, just in time to see some Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff encircling a familiar-looking Performer in the holographic feed.
"Oh no, Shulin!" she whispered. Then, she looked at Clemont. "Whatever you've got up your sleeve, Clemont, do it fast!"
"Alright!" Clemont exclaimed in jubilation. Then, he flashed his wristwatch. "The future is-!"
Calem clasped a hand over the inventor's mouth, his eyes wild with panic. "SHHHHHHHHHH!"
Shauna and Bonnie peeked their heads out from the wall again. To their relief, no one in the group seemed to have heard Clemont's outburst.
"Let her go, Parker!" Nate cried. "She's got nothing to do with any of this!"
"Nothing to do with this, you say, Gray?" Parker asked tauntingly. "Then tell me, why'd my scouts record her following you two on her own volition, without either of you doing a thing to stop her?"
"Hurry and get on with it, Clemont!" Shauna whispered urgently. "Shulin's in trouble!"
Once Calem lifted his hand from Clemont's mouth, the inventor silently declared, "The future is now, thanks to science!"
He then pressed a small button on the side of his wristwatch...
But nothing happened.
"Are you serious right now, Clemont?" Bonnie asked, while Dedenne shook his head in disappointment.
"I-I'm serious!" Clemont squeaked as he began tapping on the watch. "It's supposed to be a feature that produces white noise at maximum volume!"
"A very loud sound, Bonnie."
"And how was that supposed to be useful?!" Calem snapped.
"To discombobulate them!"
"You're gonna miscombuboolate us too!" Bonnie snapped in disbelief.
Clemont looked at his younger sister as he continued to tap the watch harder and harder. "H-Huh?"
Shauna rolled her eyes. "Hello? We don't have earmuffs to protect us from that sort of thing!"
The inventor blinked with realization. "O-Oh. Th-That's right."
"I'd say she has everything to do with this," Parker continued. "So, if you want your precious friend to continue on with her silly lil' dancing competition, I'd say...stay right where you are and do not resist."
"So what do we do now?" Bonnie asked flatly. "Now that Clemont's thingy is useless again?"
"Be fortunate that I cannot leave this accursed timeline just yet."
"He-Hey!" Clemont cried, his eyes watery with misery. "I'm trying my best to help out, Bonnie! Why can't you just show your faith in me for one SECOND?!"
"I have one last task to attend to-"
At the same time Parker began his sentence, Clemont slammed a clenched fist against the wall in his grief and agitation. Unfortunately, it was the same hand wearing the wristwatch...which triggered it to explode.
Shauna, Calem, Clemont, and Bonnie were all sent flying in different directions, with Shauna ultimately ending up within Parker's field of view.
"Hey!" he cried.
Just then, Grace felt someone colliding into her and shoving her to the floor. The former jockey scrambled away, realizing someone else had joined the fray. It was a young, fit woman with cinnabar-colored hair and reddish-pink eyes, who was wearing a raspberry-pink T-shirt and tight-fitting beige shorts with tawny-colored suspenders.
"You're not going anywhere, you old lady!" Cecile snarled.
Grace's eyelid twitched. "Excuse me?!"
The woman ignored her. "Krookodile!"
The Shiny Krookodile engaging Yancy and her Florges was alerted to its Trainer's call. With a low growl, the Intimidation Pokémon broke away from the battle and joined Cecile's side. Grace's blue eyes narrowed angrily as she stood back up; meanwhile, Fletchling perched itself on her shoulder with a defiant look.
"So you're their Trainer!" she cried. "Why're you giving us a hard time?! Are you working for this Parker guy?!"
"That's for me to know and you to find out!" With a sneer, Cecile pointed at Grace. "Now, Krookodile! Use Rock Tomb!"
Roaring, Krookodile created a large, crimson sphere of energy in-between its hands and then threw it towards Grace and Fletchling. As it hurtled towards them, the sphere began to expand and solidify before breaking apart into multiple large boulders.
Fletchling hopped off Grace's shoulder and began flying towards the boulders.
"FLETCHLING, NO!" Grace screamed.
"FLO, USE FLOWER SHIELD!"
The White Flower Florges jumped in-between Fletchling and the incoming Rock Tomb. Then, she summoned a great flurry of glowing, multicolored flower petals that circled around her and Fletchling at high speeds. Soon, a shield of energy was generated by the petals, which harmlessly absorbed the impact of Krookodile's Rock Tomb, defending both occupants.
"What the?!" Cecile screamed.
A few moments later, the dust cleared and Flo's Flower Shield subsided. Grace was stunned to see Yancy standing by her side, her narrowed eyes directed at Cecile.
"If you wanna get to my grandma, you gotta go through ME first!" the pink-haired Performer declared.
"Yancy!" Grace cried in awe.
"Awww, how cute!" squealed Cecile, who was now swooning. "I remember when I got along with my grandma! She was always so kind and caring, not to mention a great cook!" Then, her face hardened. "Unfortunately, I've invested a lil' too much in this whole thing to let anyone get in my way, especially an old lady and her cute lil' granddaughter!"
Grace gritted her teeth and clenched her fists for a moment. Then, a moment later, Yancy's presence brought a soothing comfort to her. The former Rhyhorn Racer relaxed her fists and grinned softly.
"Old lady, huh?" she asked. "Well, then... Maybe this old lady should teach you some manners!" She pointed a finger at Krookodile. "Fletchling, use Quick Attack!"
The Tiny Robin Pokémon soared high in the air and then dove towards Krookodile. It tried to defend itself, but Fletchling was quicker, striking the Intimidation Pokémon and knocking it off-balance.
"NOW, YANCY!" Grace called.
"ALRIGHT, GRANDMA!" Yancy pointed at Krookodile next. "USE DISARMING VOICE, FLO!"
Flo opened her mouth and unleashed a beam of pink hearts in a loud shriek. The beam hit Krookodile, causing it to issue a cry of pain and cover its ears while falling to the floor. Cecile, being in the same field of range as Flo's Disarming Voice, also screamed and covered her ears, giving Grace an opening.
"Fletchling, use Peck on her!" the former jockey commanded.
Fletchling nodded before landing atop Cecile's shoulder. This caught the woman's attention, and she stared blankly at the Tiny Robin Pokémon.
Fletchling began pecking her in the head endlessly.
"OW! OW OW OW OW OW! GET OFF! OW OW OW!"
Cecile tried to shoo Fletchling away, but it took to the air and continued pecking her from there. With the cinnabar-haired woman distracted, Yancy seized her opportunity.
"Flo, use Grass Knot on her and Krookodile!" she ordered.
Flo's eyes began glowing, and two vines were summoned from the ground to ensnare Cecile and the fallen Krookodile.
"Wh-Wh-What?!" Cecile cried upon feeling the vine wrap around her tightly. "H-HEY! L-Lemme go!"
"Wow!" Grace exclaimed, turning to her future granddaughter. "Great job, Yancy!"
Now blushing, Yancy gave the woman a bashful smile. "Th-Thanks, Grandma!" she replied.
Unlike Cecile's earlier insults, the title gave Grace a warm, fuzzy feeling in her stomach.
"Grandma, huh? Well...as long as it's her, I think I can get used to it..."
All of a sudden, the former jockey saw a glowing white in the corner of her eye. She looked back at the restrained Cecile and saw a Hawlucha jumping towards the vine, its left leg glowing with energy.
"YANCY!" she cried.
But it was too late for Yancy to do anything. Hawlucha's High Jump Kick broke the vine apart, easily freeing Cecile. Then, a small, rotund man resembling a Dedenne ran up to the vine holding Krookodile and tried pulling it apart with his bare hands, but he wound up exhausting himself in an instant.
"Phew!" the man exclaimed. "These vines are tougher than they look-"
"Get out of the way, Nick!" Cecile snapped, pushing her comrade aside. "Krookodile, use Crunch on the vine!"
Krookodile opened its mouth wide, its cone-shaped teeth glowing white, and then it chomped down on the vine, ripping it apart with its powerful jaw. Fletchling rejoined Flo's side, and both Pokémon faced down Krookodile and Hawlucha.
"Well, Grandma?" Yancy asked. "Shall we take them on together?"
"Together, huh?" Grace's lips curled into a wild, enthusiastic smile she hadn't used in a long time. "I'd like nothing better, Yancy."
Cecile's eyelid twitched nastily. "Aw, come ooooooon! Two against one?! That's not fair! And you call yourself a Performer, little missy?!"
"Y-Ye-Yeah!" Nick stammered. "Wh-What she said!"
Yancy gritted her teeth. "My little sister's in danger, and you're standing in my way. Until I get her back, I think I can live with forgetting I'm a Performer for a couple minutes." Then, she reached into her pockets and procured three Poké Balls. "Oh, and I'm going to stop at NOTHING to make sure my sister's safe! Come on out, everyone!"
She threw the Poké Balls, summoning her Quilladin, Alolan Ninetales, and Tundra Pattern Vivillon. Nick gulped loudly, and Cecile's jaw dropped at the sight of Yancy's reinforcements. However, Grace merely gave her a triumphant smirk.
"Now, then," the former Rhyhorn Racer said, "are you two gonna give up? Or are you still ready for a butt-kicking?!"
Nick's hands flew up immediately. "I SURRENDER! OW!"
Cecile scowled at her accomplice while rubbing her right palm. "Idiot! Of course we're gonna held them off for as long as we can!"
"B-Bu-But l-lo-look at th-the P-Po-Pokémon, C-Cecile! H-Ho-How're we s-su-supposed t-to beat them?!"
"Simple. With a little backup of our own." Cecile looked up at the gaping hole in the ceiling and whistled. "Joltik! Litwick! Come on down here, sweeties!"
It took about a minute, but Joltik and Litwick descended down the slope Grace used...only for Cecile and Nick to realize both minuscule Pokémon had been rendered unconscious.
"WHAT?!" Cecile shrieked in horror. "MY BABIES!"
"Oh, those were yours?" a voice asked.
Grace and Yancy beamed happily as Layla and Moose slid down the slope after Joltik and Litwick, followed closely by their Magnemite and Aromatisse. Layla glared at Cecile and Nick with a smug look on her face, while Moose got into a martial arts pose next to her, a pose that looked more unintentionally comical than anything else.
"Oh, I'm so sorry about that," Layla continued. "Your babies were being...a little uncooperative with us in the beginning, but in the end, my husband and I were able to teach them some manners. If you know what I'm saying."
The unconscious Joltik and Litwick merely moaned by the couple's feet. Cecile looked beside herself.
"K-Kr-Krookodile!" she stuttered. "Fi-Finish this!"
The Intimidation Pokémon prepared to attack, but Yancy pointed at it.
"Chestnut, use Needle Arm!" she ordered.
Her Quilladin rolled forward, light-green, spiky orbs of energy enveloping its arms. It then leaped towards Krookodile and punched it twice, knocking it to the floor once again.
"Ha-Ha-Hawlucha!" Nick cried. "D-D-Do s-something!"
"HAWLUCHA!" the Wrestling Pokémon cawed. It flew in the air, became enveloped in an outline of white energy, and then swooped downward towards Layla and Moose.
"Fletchling, stop it with Razor Wind!" Grace ordered.
"Aromatisse, use Fairy Wind!" added Layla.
Fletchling began flapping its glowing-white wings at the airborne Hawlucha, hurling white crescents of energy waves. At the same time, Aromatisse spun around on the spot, whipping up gusts of sparkling wind. The Razor Wind hit Hawlucha, stunning it and knocking it into Aromatisse's Fairy Wind, which blew into the wall with enough force to leave it embedded inside.
"HAWLUCHA, NO!" shrieked Nick, his voice cracking hilariously.
"Crud," spat Cecile. "Krookodile, get up! I-I command it!"
Krookodile tried to obey, but Moose was quicker. "Magnemite, Flash Cannon!" he ordered.
Magnemite's Steel-type attack struck the Intimidation Pokémon, finally knocking it unconscious. Cecile and Nick gasped as one of their best Pokémon collapsed by her feet.
"Wh-Wh-What do we do now, Cecile?!" Nick squeaked timidly.
"Ummmmm..." Cecile was initially at a loss for words. "Rh-Rhyperior! A-A little assist, please?!"
But her call was met with a sudden, agonizing cry. Cecile looked behind her, just in time to see Rhyperior sliding towards her position on the brink of unconsciousness, its body bearing badly scorched despite its hard, rocky composure. Then, she looked back and realized she and Nick were being surrounded by Yancy, Grace, Layla, and Moose's Pokémon. A split-second later, her arms joined Nick's in the air.
"I-It was just a prank, you guys..." she quipped nervously.
A few moments earlier
Right after Ampharos, Rhyperior, and Krookodile fell through the ceiling and continued their battle, Nate had been able to run past Ampharos and Rhyperior in order to get to Meyer, who he found lying on the floor. Krookodile had tried to lunge at him, but Yancy had intervened with Flo's assistance, drawing the Intimidation Pokémon's attention away from him and therefore giving him an opening. As for the horde of Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff, many of them had retreated upon the unexpected arrivals, but some had stayed behind to temporarily engage Yancy as well.
"Meyer?!" he cried upon reaching the electrician. "Hey, Meyer! You alright?!"
"H-Huh?" Meyer rolled to his side and groggily looked up at the male Trainer. "Oh. It's you-"
"Yeah, it's me. Are you alright?!"
Meyer looked at his dusty, grimy clothes. "Well...I'm alive, am I...?" Then, his eyes narrowed, and he shot up to his feet. "What about Rhyperior and Krookodile?!"
Meyer's concerns seemed to be answered when the two heard a familiar squeal.
"EEK! NATE, PLEASE HELP ME!"
Nate and Meyer turned towards a nearby corner of the hall, where they found Shulin crouched there, her eyes wide and trembling with fear. Towering over her was a Rhyperior, its wide, plated frame completely enveloping her in shadow. The Drill Pokémon's red eyes were enlarged and feral as it began advancing towards the helpless Performer.
"AMPHAROS!" Meyer shouted.
"EMBOAR, COME ON OUT!" hollered Nate as he threw his Poké Ball.
Ampharos quickly shoved Rhyperior away from Shulin, right before Emboar emerged from its Poké Ball and roared at the Drill Pokémon. Rhyperior roared back once it rolled back on its feet and smashed its rock-like fists on the carpeted floor. This gave Shulin the opportunity to run from her position and hide behind Nate.
"Alright, Emboar!" Nate cried as he joined his Pokémon's side. "Let's POWER UP!"
He raised a clenched fist in the air, as did Emboar. Soon, the Fire-type was enveloped in a twister of red fire, and the hall filled with heavy, sweltering heat that only seemed to grow by the second. The heat became so unbearable that even the Ground/Rock-type Rhyperior flinched in discomfort. Then, the fire became so bright that it turned from red to white and finally to blue. Once the flames turned blue, the fiery tornado exploded, revealing Emboar's new appearance.
"Wh-What?!" Shulin squeaked in disbelief. "Did Emboar just Mega Evolve?!"
"Nate!" Meyer cried as he and Ampharos joined Nate's side. "Rhyperior's a Ground/Rock-type. Even with your Emboar in that powered-up state, it's going to be a challenge to defeat it!"
"It's okay, Meyer," Nate replied, giving the electrician a confident, knowing smile. "After all...I've got your trump card by my side."
"My trump ca-?" Then, the realization hit Meyer. "Oh. Oooooh."
"What?" Shulin asked, looking frantically between Nate and Meyer. "What trump card? Are you talking about Ampharos? But isn't it an Electric-type?"
"We're not talking about Ampharos," Meyer replied. Then, he looked over Rhyperior's shoulder and noticed Grace fighting alongside Yancy against the Shiny Krookodile. "So, how'd you figure out my secret, Nate?"
"It's public knowledge by that point," Nate said cryptically.
"Will they know now? Or later?"
"Later. A lot later."
Meyer nodded in understanding. "I see."
Shulin continued looking between the two males, her confusion escalating. "O-Okay, i-is there something I should know about?! We're about to get turned into applesauce by a freaking Rhyperior, and yet you two are smiling!"
Meyer looked at her. "Shulin, right?"
"Y-Yeah, that's me-"
"Promise me, Shulin, that when this is all over, you're not gonna mention a word of what you're about to see to anyone. Not even your own friends. Do you understand?"
"I-I understand, b-but-"
Meyer ignored her and recalled Ampharos back to its Poké Ball. "Return, Ampharos. Blaziken's gonna take it from here."
"You have a Blaz-?!"
Nate quickly covered Shulin's mouth. "SHHHHH!"
Meyer pulled out another Poké Ball and threw it. "Go, Blaziken!" he hollered. "We need you!"
The Blaze Pokémon emerged from the device and roared at Rhyperior while the red-hot flames in its wrists flared up in a show of intimidation. Next, Meyer reached into a secret pocket in his overalls and procured a small, gold necklace, which was holding a...
"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute!" Shulin exclaimed, her eyes bulging. "Is that a-?!"
"Yes, it is what you think it is," Meyer replied as he clipped the necklace around his thick neck. "Now, Blaziken! It's time! Mega Evolve!"
Multiple bright beams of energy shot out from the Key Stone engraved into Meyer's necklace and then connected to the fur enveloping Blaziken's neck. Within seconds, the Blaze Pokémon transformed into its Mega Evolved form, and the fires on its wrists flared up even more powerfully. Shulin gawked at Blaziken with even more disbelief.
"YOU'VE GOT A BLAZ-?!"
Nate covered Shulin's mouth again. "SHHHHH!"
"Now, Blaziken!" Meyer called. "Use Flare Blitz!"
Blaziken enveloped itself in fire with brighter streaks of fire spiraling around it, then it launched itself at Rhyperior.
"And you use Heat Crash, Emboar!" ordered Nate.
Emboar jumped towards the ceiling and enveloped its own body in a sphere of whitish-blue flames. Then, upon making contact with the ceiling, the Mega Fire Pig Pokémon used its feet to propel itself from that point and towards Rhyperior. The Drill Pokémon desperately tried to use an attack to defend itself, but the two Fire-types were infinitely quicker. They both hit their opponent with astounding force. With one last pained cry, Rhyperior was knocked further down the hallway and towards its Trainer, who had just been cornered by Yancy, Grace, Layla, Moose, and all their Pokémon. The massive, powerful impact left behind a large, clear cloud of smoke.
Once they saw no movement from Rhyperior, Nate and Meyer looked at one another.
"Heeeeey, not bad, kid," Meyer commented.
"You did well too, Meyer," Nate replied with a toothy grin.
"By the way, how'd you manage to Mega Evolve Emboar?" Meyer cast a glance towards Emboar's new form. "I have not heard anything from Sycamore about an Emboarite being discovered."
"Oh, no." Nate watched as Emboar reverted back to its normal form, as did Blaziken. "Emboar and I are just like Ash and Greninja. But I'll explain everything later. I think you've still got a secret to keep."
"Huh?" Meyer looked at the cloud of smoke and saw Yancy and Grace's outlines running up to him. "Oh, crud! Re-Return, Blaziken!"
The electrician was able to recall Blaziken before Yancy and Grace emerged through the smoke.
"Whoa!" Grace cried after coughing a couple of times. "We just saw Rhyperior! Was that you guys?!"
"Yep, that was us," Nate replied.
"You guys sure did a number on it. Scorch marks everywhere. I didn't think Emboar and Ampharos would be enough to take it down so quickly."
"Y-Yeah," Meyer responded while rubbing the back of his head. "Y-You could say that."
Meanwhile, Yancy was quick to notice Shulin. "Shulin, are you okay?"
Nate looked behind him and saw the green-haired Performer gawking at him and Meyer. Her lower jaw was hanging open in bewilderment, and her eyes were as wide as they could be. Then, the Aspertia City native looked back at Yancy.
"Ohhh, she's fine," he said. "I think this is her first experience with Pokémon battles." He looked over his shoulder again. "Isn't that right, Shulin?"
Shulin eyed the boy and saw the glint in his brown eyes. Remembering the promise she was forced to make with Meyer, the girl merely nodded, her head bouncing back and forth like a bobblehead.
"Good! Now that that's settled..." Nate glared at Layla and Moose's direction. "Do we know who Rhyperior and Krookodile belong to?"
"Yeah, those guys over there," replied Grace, pointing towards the pair of Trainers cornered by her sister and brother-in-law. "I heard them call each other Cecile and Nick. Don't worry, they're not going anywhere."
"Well, that's a relief," Meyer said. Then, he gave Grace an impressed smile. "I'm assuming you took care of those guys?"
"Of course." The former jockey stuck her chest out in pride. "No one gets the better of me."
The electrician blinked slowly. "I see..."
Meanwhile, Nate was looking around. "Great. Parker's Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff are gone. Every last one of them. They must've run off somewhere."
"It's alright," Yancy replied, pointing at Cecile and Nick. "As long as we've got them, we'll be able to learn what Parker's next move is."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Shulin finally exclaimed, her face now red and sweaty. "L-Lo-Look, I-I know I-I'm not s-s-supposed t-to know a lot, bu-but seriously, guys...WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE?! WHY'RE POKÉMON ATTACKING US?! AND MOST OF ALL..." She stomped her foot in distress. "WHEN ARE WE GONNA GET BACK TO THE SHOWCASE?!"
"EEK!" Shauna leaped up to her feet, ignoring the new hairstyle the explosion had given her. "L-LE-LET HER GO, PARKER! R-RI-RIGHT NOW!"
Selene tried to call out something to her future honorary aunt, but her mouth was still muffled by the Vine Whip wrapped around her lower face. Parker scowled before pressing a button on the side of his sunglasses. In response, his Key Stone emerged from one of the side-frames, gleaming brightly.
"SCEPTILE, MEGA EVOLVE!" the Pokémon Poacher hollered loudly.
Multiple bright beams of energy shot out from both Sceptile and the Key Stone and connected to one another. With that, the Forest Pokémon began changing shape and enlarging in size. Soon, the blinding flash of light and vague double helix-like symbol signified the completion of its transformation. Shauna's eyes grew wide with terror, and her breath hitched at the scarred Mega Sceptile. She could still remember how it easily took out her Ivysaur and so many other Pokémon, no matter how hard they tried to take it on together.
"The only thing that can defeat a Mega Evolved Pokémon is another Mega Evolved Pokémon," she thought fearfully. "But I don't have a Pokémon that can do that, let alone a Mega Stone and Key Stone! Neither do Calem or Clemont! We're no match against Parker! We...We have no chance of beating him..."
With a trembling hand, Shauna tried reaching for a Poké Ball, but it was as if her hand and her pocket were magnets that were facing each other by the poles, repelling one another. The Vaniville Town native was too overwhelmed with fear and doubt to even think about defending herself.
"We can't beat him! We can't beat him, there's no way! What do I do, what do I do, what do I DO?!"
Shauna felt rooted to the spot like a tree, unable to do anything as Sceptile and Chesnaught closed in on her. Her green eyes were wide and trembling, and small beads of sweat started to develop on her forehead. She was about to withdraw her hand from her pocket when...
All of a sudden, Shauna felt a hand gently grab hers, and she looked beside her to see Calem standing there. His clothes were a little scuffed up, with some small scorch marks. Other than that, however, he was fine and ready to go.
"Hey, calm down over there," he whispered, his voice gentle. "It's okay. We'll take him on together."
"To-Together?" she repeated.
Calem nodded affirmatively before procuring his six Poké Balls and throwing them. "Let's go, everyone! We need all your help!"
His Empoleon, Gallade, Scizor, Ferrothorn, Swellow, and Alolan Golem emerged from the beams of light. Empoleon beat its flippers into its blubbery body and emitted a squawk of intimidation. Gallade made slashing movements in the air for a couple of times before taking on a fearsome fighting stance. Scizor snapped its pincers and narrowed its eyes at Parker. Ferrothorn simply ground itself to the floor in preparation. Swellow circled over Calem and his Pokémon, squawking and eyeing Parker and his Pokémon. And finally, Golem slammed its stubby, clawed hands on its thighs and roared mightily at Parker's Sceptile and Chesnaught.
However, Parker wasn't intimidated by the newcomers. "Oh?" he remarked. "So you think your six Pokémon are going to be a match against my Mega Sceptile? If that is the case, then you are sadly mistaken, boy."
"You're a moron if you think sheer power is gonna take you far enough," Calem spat back. "We're gonna defeat you, and we're gonna get Selene and Celebi back."
"Mm, as you wish." Parker made a dismissive wave with his hand. "Sceptile, Chesnaught, let's finish this quickly."
The two Grass-types began advancing on Shauna, Calem, and the latter's Pokémon. Her legs trembling, Shauna gripped Calem's sleeve and tugged at it softly.
"A-Ar-Are you sure about this, C-Calem?" she stammered.
"Well, of course!" Calem looked at her with a cheerful grin, not unlike Ash's own. "I've got you by my side, after all! And I trust you wholeheartedly!"
Shauna looked at the boy, her face red. "You...You trust me?"
"Well, you are Serena's friend after all. Or am I wrong?"
Upon hearing Calem's gentle, assuaging words, Shauna's face softened. Then, her pupils flitted towards Selene, who was struggling helplessly against her bonds. Then, the seven-year-old girl looked towards her with watery, pleading eyes. The sight of her honorary niece's face caused the Performer's expression to harden. At that moment, she recalled her verbal exchange with Sara Lee.
"Wow. I'm legit surprised you of all people are saying that to my face. If I can recall, you shed more than a few tears when you got voted out of the Master Class. And I know for a fact this wasn't your first Showcase season-"
"Serena's my friend. I will not sacrifice our friendship for something so selfish, no matter how hard I worked on my performances as well."
"Yes. I'm Serena's friend. But most of all, I'm her rival. And she's my rival. We help make each other stronger. And now, Selene's depending on me, and I gotta help her! If I cannot even do that...if I can't help Serena or her family, then how could I call myself her friend, or her rival? How could even I call myself a...Pokémon Performer?!"
"COME ON OUT, EVERYONE!"
Her Ivysaur, Orange Flower Flabébé, Swirlix, and Gothita all emerged from their respective Poké Balls. Ivysaur roared as loudly as it could at Parker's Sceptile, while Swirlix and Gothita narrowed their eyes and Flabébé did a quick spin through the air as a sign of aggression. Sceptile hissed back at the quartet of Pokémon, the pupil in its scarred eye quivering with an alarming ferocity. Parker, on the other hand, scoffed derisively.
"Aw, how adorable," he said. "You're gonna rely on your little dancing Pokémon to help this child out, girlie?"
"Oh, laugh all you want, Parker!" Shauna snapped defiantly while taking an aggressive stance beside Calem. "These little dancing Pokémon are gonna show you some brand-new moves!"
"I can't wait." Parker swiped at the air with his arm. "Sceptile, Chesnaught! Pummel them to the ground!"
Sceptile and Chesnaught propelled themselves at Shauna and Calem's group. But the two Trainers were quick to react.
"Quick, Empoleon!" Calem shouted. "Use Hydro Pump on Sceptile!"
Empoleon fired a powerful blast of water from its beak, which hit Sceptile and sent it tumbling to the floor. Unfortunately, the Water-type attack did not do much damage to the Grass-type Pokémon. Upon recovering, Sceptile coldly stood back up on its feet, allowing itself to be drenched by the Hydro Pump, which, to it, had the power of a weak hose.
"How sad," a smirking Parker commented. "Alright, Sceptile! Use Leaf Blade!"
The Forest Pokémon launched itself towards Empoleon, continuing to take the Hydro Pump with ease. Then, Calem's lips curled into a smile.
"Gallade, use Close Combat!" he commanded.
Gallade's eyes glowed a sinister, metallic-red color, and it jumped towards the incoming Sceptile, who was too distracted by Empoleon's Hydro Pump to even notice. Before it could realize what was going on, Gallade began attacking the Forest Pokémon with all of his might, punching and slashing at its body.
However, Parker didn't look fazed by this sudden development at all. "Sceptile, use Leaf Storm," he droned. "Then follow it up with a Mega Drain."
The Forest Pokémon flung a massive flurry of leaves at Gallade, blinding him. Then, it fired a green beam of energy from its mouth, which hit Gallade squarely in the chest, causing the Blade Pokémon to emit a cry of anguish. Finally, Sceptile started absorbing the same green beam back into its mouth, and Gallade's screams grew louder as its energy was being rapidly drained from its body.
"GALLADE!" Calem cried. Then, he looked at Scizor and Ferrothorn. "Scizor, use X-Scissor! Ferrothorn, follow it up with a Gyro Ball!"
Scizor ran up to Sceptile, its claws glowing light-green. Once it got close enough, the Bug/Steel-type slashed its arms in an X-shaped formation, firing an X-shaped structure of green energy from them. It hit Sceptile and knocked it away, thus interrupting its Mega Drain attack. Then, Ferrothorn withdrew its vine-like legs into its spiky body and began spinning at high speeds towards the stunned Sceptile. The Mega Evolved Pokémon was hit again and knocked to the ground.
"ALRIGHT!" shouted Calem. Then, he ran up to Gallade, who was visibly weakened. "You okay, Gallade?"
The Blade Pokémon groaned and winced, but despite this, he feebly nodded his head and gave his Trainer a positive grin. Calem smiled back before looking up at Sceptile, who stood up barely unscathed; it grabbed the still-spinning Ferrothorn and threw it towards Empoleon, Scizor, and Swellow, all of whom managed to avoid it.
"Okay," he thought. "We've gotta find a different way to break through these guys..."
Meanwhile, Shauna and her Pokémon ignored the battle that was raging on beside them, instead setting all their sights upon Chesnaught. It continued to advance upon them, materializing its Wood Hammer.
"Now, Ivysaur!" ordered Shauna. "Use Solar Beam!"
Ivysaur quickly gathered sunlight from what little natural light was in the hall and accumulated it in the flower bulb on its back. Then, the Seed Pokémon pointed its bulb at Chesnaught and launched a light-green beam at it. However, the Spiny Armor Pokémon was quick, leaping high into the air and dodging the Solar Beam, letting it sail harmlessly further down the hallway until it hit the opposite end, triggering a distant but loud explosion. Just a second later, Chesnaught launched itself from the ceiling using its feet and headed towards Shauna and her Pokémon, its Wood Hammer poised to strike.
But Shauna was prepared. "Flabébé, use Moonblast!"
Flabébé began gathering energy from the distant Moon. Then, a sphere of pink energy materialized in front of her mouth and was then fired it at the incoming Chesnaught. The Spiny Armor Pokémon did not have any room to dodge, and it let out a cry as it was knocked backward by the explosive impact.
"Now!" Shauna commanded. "Gothita, use Psybeam!"
With a cry, Gothita fired a multicolored beam from its puckered mouth, striking Chesnaught dead-on.
"Finish it with a Draining Kiss, Swirlix!"
Swirlix bounced towards the airborne Grass-type Pokémon, but before it could even pucker its lips...
"Sceptile!" Parker barked.
Sceptile abruptly disengaged from its battle with Calem's Pokémon; it jumped into the air and prepared to strike Swirlix with its Leaf Blade.
"SWIRLIX!" Shauna screamed in alarm.
Calem reacted quickly. "Swellow, stop Sceptile with Brave Bird!"
Swellow squawked and dove towards Sceptile, its feathery body bursting into light-blue flames. The Forest Pokémon saw it coming and aimed its Leaf Blade at it, seconds before the Swallow Pokémon collided with it. With Sceptile preoccupied again by Calem's Pokémon, Swirlix was able to continue towards Chesnaught with the intention of executing its intended attack...
But Chesnaught had recovered from Gothita's Psybeam in the nick of time and swung its Wood Hammer. This time, there was no saving Swirlix, and it was brutally knocked away by the Grass-type attack.
"NO, SWIRLIX!" Shauna dashed forward and caught her bruised, battered Cotton Candy Pokémon. "Sw-Swirlix, are you okay?!"
Swirlix merely responded with an agonizing moan. It could barely move now, its small body being unable to take such a powerful move. Narrowing her eyes, Shauna glared up at Parker as Chesnaught and a recovered Sceptile returned to his sides.
"You're going to pay for that!" she cried.
"Send me the bill," Parker replied sardonically.
At the same time, Chesnaught swung its Wood Hammer at Shauna, only for its attack to be intercepted by a Solar Beam. She looked towards her Ivysaur, who waddled beside her foot and hollered at Chesnaught. Chesnaught growled back at it before unleashing its Vine Whip, forcing Shauna and Ivysaur to dodge it.
As for Calem, he was helping Gallade back up to his feet, albeit with some difficulty. Empoleon and Golem were providing them with cover, firing a combination of Hydro Pump and Discharge to spray Sceptile with electrified water. The powerful Grass-type initially released a loud cry of pain before jumping out of the double attack's range. Then, it used Leaf Storm to distract Empoleon and Golem before bursting through the leaves and ambushing them with Leaf Blade.
"Empoleon!" Calem called with concern. "Golem! Guys, help them out!"
Scizor fired its X-Scissor attack, while Ferrothorn and Swellow reused Gyro Ball and Brave Bird, respectively. Sceptile was able to endure the X-Scissor before being knocked down by Ferrothorn and Swellow at the same time, the force of their impacts triggering a small shock-wave that almost stunned Calem.
"You kids sure like to test my patience," Parker grumbled irritably. Then, he barked at the top of his lungs, "Sceptile, it is time!"
Picking up on its Trainer's cue, Sceptile slammed its fists together powerfully and then buried them in the floor. A second later, a horde of large, thick vines emerged from beneath the well-maintained carpet. Calem and Shauna gasped as the vines twisted in the air like flickering flames.
Then, one of them prepared to slam itself down on them and their Pokémon, intent on crushing them...
"LUXRAY, USE WILD CHARGE!"
Clemont's Luxray dashed onto the scene, its body enveloped in yellow electricity that sparked brightly and powerfully. It tackled the incoming vine with enough violent force that it was torn in half with ease. Its severed portion fell to the floor, barely missing Shauna's Ivysaur and Calem's Ferrothorn.
Shauna and Calem looked over their shoulders and saw, to their great relief, Clemont standing behind them. One of the lenses of his circular glasses was cracked, but he was wearing a hardened, determined expression, and the Aipom Arm of his Clemontic Gear was activated.
"Clemont!" the Trainer and the Performer cried happily at the same time.
"Sorry I'm late, you guys!" the inventor replied as Luxray rejoined his side, the last of its electricity fizzling out in sparks. "I was unconscious for a bit. But now that I'm back in the game, I'm not gonna hold back! Especially against the likes of you, Parker!"
"GAH!" Parker shouted. His eyelid twitched as he stared through the wall of Frenzy Plant-generated vines. "WON'T YOU KIDS JUST GIVE UP AND ACCEPT YOUR FATE?!"
The vines began swinging wildly at Shauna, Calem, and Clemont. But before any of them could hit their targets, another voice yelled into the air.
"Dusknoir, use Will-O-Wisp!"
Several small balls of blue fire shot over Shauna, Calem, and Clemont, leaving behind trails of small embers. Each of the balls hit an individual vine, setting it on fire and causing them to writhe violently. Parker growled in irritation as the vines eventually withered away into charred, lifeless rags, revealing the Trainers' newest companion.
"Summer!" Shauna and Calem cried at the same time.
"Looks like I arrived in the nick of time!" the Pokémon Ranger exclaimed a Dusknoir hopped beside her, its single crimson eye glowing. "Thanks for letting me know of the situation, Clemont!"
"There's no time to be thanking me!" Clemont cried, his eyes narrowed. The group watched as Sceptile and Chesnaught regrouped and were joined by several Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff. "We have to break through Parker's defenses and get to Selene!"
At that moment, Shauna remembered something. She looked around, only to be puzzled by the conspicuous absence.
"Hey, Clemont?" she asked. "Where's Bonnie?"
Unbeknownst to everyone else, Bonnie and Dedenne had recovered pretty quickly from Clemont's Amazingly Accurate Wristwatch exploding. When Shauna and Calem began their battle against Parker, the seven-year-old took advantage of the Pokémon Poacher's distraction and mounting frustration to sneak through the impromptu battlefield and pass by him. Every time two attacks met and triggered an explosion, Bonnie would see it as an advantage to get closer and closer to Selene.
Eventually, Bonnie reached Selene, though she still found her path obstructed by Trevenant, who too was so focused on the battle that it didn't register the little girl's approach. So, Bonnie decided to do the next best thing.
"Psst, Selene!" she called in a whisper. "Selene, over here!"
This caught Selene's attention, and she looked at Bonnie's direction. When she saw her, her eyes grew wide in surprise, as well as relief. Now that Chesnaught had removed its Vine Whip in order to join the battle with Sceptile, Selene tried to call out to Bonnie, but the other girl shook her head rapidly and put a finger over her lips, motioning her to stay silent.
"Okay," Bonnie thought while looking up at Trevenant. "How am I gonna distract Trevenant without getting that meanie Parker's attention...?"
"D-Do-Don't worry, U-Un-Uncle A-Ash, A-Au-Auntie S-Se-Serena! I-I'm here t-to he-help y-y-you guys o-o-out!"
Aria's red eyes broadened with incredulity. "Uncle Ash?" she repeated. "Auntie Serena?!"
"W-We'll explain later, Aria!" Serena exclaimed before refocusing on Dragonite and its Trainer. "For now, we've got bigger problems to worry about!"
"You're darn right you've got bigger problems, little girl!" the man hollered while getting back up to his feet. "And this big problem is going to crush you all like the worthless, low-class, scummy maggots you are! DRAGONITE! GO!"
Dragonite charged towards the quartet of Trainers again, but Ash reacted quickly.
"PIKACHU, USE THUNDERBOLT!" he commanded. "GRENINJA, USE WATER SHURIKEN! PICHU, USE THUNDERSHOCK!"
"BRAIXEN, USE FIRE BLAST!" Serena shouted.
"DELPHOX, USE MYSTICAL FIRE!" hollered Aria.
"PACHIRISU, USE DISCHARGE AGAIN!" ordered Evelyn.
The three Electric-type attacks, the two Fire-type attacks, and the sole Water-type attack flew through the air. Dragonite tried to dodge them, but they all took up the space in the hallway, leaving no room for it to avoid any of them. Pikachu's Thunderbolt, Greninja's Water Shuriken, and Braixen's Fire Blast hit the Dragon Pokémon, sending it flying backward yet again. The remaining attacks struck the ground in front of Dragonite's Trainer, triggering an explosion that knocked him back as well.
As the hall continued to fill with smoke, Ash and the others listened for any movement or orders. When they didn't hear anything, Evelyn immediately hugged Serena...
And started crying into her shoulder.
"AUNTIE SERENA!" she bawled like a baby. All of the Pokémon present sweat-dropped at the embarrassing display from a full-grown teenager, even Evelyn's own Pachirisu.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Serena exclaimed, startled. "It's okay, Evelyn! It's okay-"
"I WAS SO SCARED, AUNTIE SERENA! I THOUGHT...I THOUGHT I WAS NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT BACK HOME!"
"Hey, hey, it's alright, Evelyn!" said Ash as he gently put his hand on the blue-haired girl's shoulder. "You're here, and y-you're safe. Th-That's all that matters."
"Besides," Serena added while prying the weeping Evelyn off of her, "Yancy, Selene, and Nate are here as well."
Evelyn's wailing was reduced into sniffling, and she wiped copious tears from her eyes. "Th-They are...?"
The honey-blonde nodded. "They were looking for you. They'll be so glad to know you're here, Evelyn."
"O-Oh..." For some reason, Evelyn looked doubtful, but she still smiled at Serena. "I'm-I'm glad!"
"Um, e-excuse me?" Aria piped up, stepping forward with confusion etched on her face. "I-I don't mean to intrude, b-but why'd you call Serena 'Auntie'? A-And Ash 'Uncle'? I-I know you've got a big family, Serena, b-but-"
Upon spotting Aria, Evelyn's jaw dropped open in disbelief.
"I don't believe it," she said, cutting the Kalos Queen off. "Mom?!"
Aria shook off her own disbelief at that single word. "Wait, what'd you call me?"
The Kalos Queen was initially met with no response from the strange girl. Instead, Evelyn scanned her from head to toe. Then, without any warning, she hugged her.
"I...I can't believe it," the blue-haired girl said, her voice barely a whisper. "I-I almost didn't recognize you..."
Aria couldn't help but tear Evelyn away from her. "I-I'm sorry, b-but...wh-what'd you just call me?!"
"M-Mom, what else?!"
"I'M YOUR MOM?!" Aria shouted.
"ARIA'S HER MOM?!" shrieked Serena.
"What, you guys didn't know?" Ash asked innocently. Then, he felt like he had been shrunk to one-hundredth of his size when Serena and Aria glared at him at the same time.
"YOU KNEW?!" snapped Serena.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN I DIDN'T KNOW?!" Aria cried.
Then, Serena grabbed Ash's collar and shook him. "WHO TOLD YOU THAT?! HOW COME I NEVER KNEW THIS?!"
"C-Ca-Calm down, Serena!" Ash screamed in terror. "N-Na-Nate t-told me!"
"Nate knew this?!" Aria exclaimed. Then, she clutched her head in extreme confusion. "What is going on here?! I-I don't have a daughter! A-At least...I-I'm not supposed to! A-And especially not a daughter my age! I-I don't understand at all! Ohhh, if Palermo finds out about this, I'm not gonna hear the end of it!"
All of a sudden, the three teenagers heard a pathetic, baby-like crying, and they were absolutely stunned to see Evelyn hiding underneath the nearest table, her face buried in her forearms. If any of them could see aura, the immediate area would be completely enveloped in a heavy, depressing hue of black and violet. Now it was Ash, Serena, and Aria's turns to sweat-drop.
"I'm so sorry!" bawled Evelyn. "I shouldn't have said anything! I'm pathetic! I'm so pathetic! I'm a disgrace to the family! I'll be under this table if you need me!"
"Jeez, how is this girl Aria's daughter?!" a befuddled Ash thought.
"Wow, this girl is Aria's daughter?" Serena sympathetically asked in her mind.
"This girl is supposed to be my daughter?" thought Aria, her mind reeling from the stunning revelation.
Just then, Pikachu scurried over to Ash's side and tugged at his pant leg. "PIKAPI! PIKA-PIKA! PIKAAA!"
"Huh?" Ash looked down at his partner Pokémon. "What is it, Pikachu? What's wrong?"
Ash looked at the cloud of smoke, which had begun to clear by that point. He could now see the masked Trainer trying to crawl away, ignoring the fact that his Dragonite was still lying unconscious on the floor.
"Hey, you!" he called. "Stop right there!"
"Ohhhh, for heaven's sake!" the Trainer snarled while looking over his shoulder. He could see Ash marching directly up to him, followed by Serena, Aria, and their Pokémon. "You gotta be kiddin' me!"
"You're not going anywhere, mister!" Aria snapped.
"Who are you?!" Serena demanded, her arms now crossed. "Why're you doing this?!"
"Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this, you ask? HAHA!" The man sneered at the honey-blonde. "You may not know this, sweetheart, but life doesn't give everyone what they want. Fortunately, I've been given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to pry what is rightfully mine away from the ones who've stolen EVERYTHING from me!"
"So that's what all of this is about?! You're helping Parker so you can get your own shot at controlling Celebi's power for your own selfish needs?!"
"Now that would be telling, now would it, little girl?"
Ash bent down to grab the man by the collar. "You're gonna tell us what's going on, and where Parker and Selene are! Or else-"
"Or else? Or else what?" Though Ash couldn't see the man's face beyond his mask, he could tell his opponent was giving him a malevolent smirk. "You're in no position to be making threats, kid."
"Perhaps not," a new voice said.
At that moment, a Zangoose marched up from behind the masked man and aimed its claws, which were glowing white. A ferocious glint passed through the Cat Ferret Pokémon's red eyes. Aria's eyes grew wide as a familiar-looking boy joined Ash's side, his arms crossed and his brow furrowed with anger.
"But you're legally in my house," the boy said, his green-and-white apron fluttering slightly like a veil. "And I'm not going to let anything terrible occur within these walls and stain this place's reputation. Not as long as I still have something to say about it. So you're gonna tell these guys what they need to know, and then I'm gonna turn you over to Officer Jenny. Or you can choose to stay silent, and I can leave you to my Zangoose."
To punctuate its Trainer's demands, Zangoose growled intimidatingly at the masked man while poising its glowing claws. The masked man eyed them warily.
"So, what's it gonna be?"
The man growled, and Ash could see him grip the carpet underneath, applying so much force that he threatened to tear it. Greninja sensed it too and flexed its arms in preparation for a possible reprisal.
Suddenly, the floor exploded powerfully behind them, knocking everyone else to the floor.
"Ash!" Serena screamed. Just then, smoke billowed over her and the others, causing everyone to begin coughing. "Ash, are you alright?!"
"Yeah, I'm fine, Serena!" Ash called. "But what about-?"
He was cut off when he heard the familiar sound of a Poké Ball recalling a Pokémon. Through the veil of smoke, the boy could see the masked man getting up on his feet and sprinting away as fast as he could. He was being followed by three small Pokémon that were hovering through the air.
"HEY!" With an angered growl, Ash got back up and started running after him, followed by Pikachu and Greninja. "HEY, GET BACK HERE!"
"Unacceptable! UNACCEPTABLE! ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!"
Adam Glazing continued running down the hallway as fast as he could. He thought he had the upper hand against those Trainers, but the silliness of their notions of friendship and teamwork distracted him! Never before did he consider even the remotest possibility that he would see defeat today, that his best Pokémon would be overwhelmed and defeated by a group of foolish, idealistic children, but the past few minutes taught him otherwise.
And now, he was running like a coward, with a Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff floating beside him, of all things! He was not entirely sure what was up with Parker's strange choice of Pokémon, but regardless of the poacher's intentions, it was perhaps the most embarrassing, humiliating thing for Adam to go through.
In his almighty opinion.
"The only time," he snarled in his mind. "This'll be the first and only time I lose to a bunch of weak kids like them! Once I collect my bearings and make sure my Dragonite is stronger than ever before, I'll see to it that those children will suffer for what they've done to me! And then I'll get myself that Greninja and learn the secret behind its power, because there is absolutely NO WAY it can Mega Evolve like that!
"And once I understand its power, then the first thing I'll do with that power to usurp my idiot of a brother and my stuck-up princess of a niece! And then I'll be able to take over the company, just like I wa supposed to, and then stick it to my father's face! Yeees, that's exactly what I'll do! I'll see to it that my destiny is fulfilled, and there is absolutely NOTHING anyone can do about it!"
The green-and-golden-haired man's hand twitched towards his pocket on instinct.
"Especially not a bunch of nincompoops like those misguided kids!"
A/N: And I'm done! FINALLY!
Phew! Now that was a chore and a half to finish! Anyway, like I said in my opening Author's Note, you probably won't see another chapter for this fic anytime soon. Perhaps it will take a month, perhaps more; it depends. Yeah, I know it sucks, having to wait a while for another chapter, especially when I left you guys dangling from this cliffhanger. But writing and repeatedly revising this chapter suddenly drained all of the creativity from me, and now, I just want to focus my writing chops on other projects.
Don't worry, though; if you still want to see more "Pokémon" from me, I will be dedicating my time with small one-shots and smaller fics like "Training Harder". Hopefully those fics are exactly what I'll need to revitalize my interest in "The Way We Will Be". If you're following my account, not just this fic, then just be on the lookout for anything "Pokémon"-related. I intend to finish "Training Harder" and fit in one or two more "Pokémon" fics before resuming work on the next chapter. I hope.
Outside of that, I will be investing time and effort with other projects, especially those relating to "My Hero Academia". I have an idea that I really want to pursue, so hopefully that kick-starts my creative writing juices too.
Anyway, I'd like to thank the following for reviewing:
1) Always be sure to practice social distancing too! Make sure you keep everyone you know in the loop, so then you will know if and when any of them get sick.
2) Thanks! Do you have anything else you have to comment on regarding the last chapter?
-Amourshiper35: Would you mind being a little more in-depth with your comments? I'm sorry, but one-line reviews just won't cut it for me.
1) Thanks! I'm glad you put in the effort for a longer review this time around. Keep it up! :D :D :D
2) Really? I'm looking at how I'm writing Pokémon battles, and I feel the writing is stiff. I think another reviewer pointed that out, but I didn't notice until now. Maybe I should consult with this fic's earlier chapters...
3) Sadistic indeed! Yeah, I did need to make the poachers sadistic, anyway. You can't have a compelling conflict without compelling antagonists, and we all know Team Rocket doesn't fit that bill.
4) The EHS stands for Eight-Headed Seviper. It's the organization of poachers Parker is a part of. I briefly mentioned the acronym a few times throughout the story.
5) I mean, Clarice has to. The future is at stake if she doesn't. XP
1) Well, hopefully this chapter makes it up in terms of Selene's screentime!
2) Well, it seems like Ash is finally starting to take the role of Selene's father seriously!
3) Yeah, I can tell you for sure that Parker and the other bad guys are going to get creamed for all the rough treatment they put Selene through. And just wait till you see Ash and Serena's future selves! XD XD XD
4) Yeah, I understand where you're coming from in regards to Miette. Her teasing Serena over her crush is probably her only defining trait in the anime. Given one of the fic's secondary purposes is to further flesh out certain characters, well, I might as well give Miette her own little character arc. After all, character development is always fun, even when it's for underdeveloped characters like Miette! :D
5) No, Miette doesn't fall in love with Trevor, actually. Sorry to shoot down that theory.
6) Indeed, copyright infringement is serious business. Ignorant of the lawl is not an ascuse. XD
7) Well, Meyer sort of does that in this chapter. As for the next chapter, well, wait and see. ;)
8) Thanks! I am glad that I handled each group well and that my transitions were smooth. I feel like the multiple points-of-view sort of bogged down my personal experience of the chapter, but I guess that was just me.
9) Ah, so you have a theory about what happens at the end of this fic, huh? I'm intrigued! Let's see if what happens will make or break this theory... ;)
1) Yep! We've got an Infinity War-style situation going on in here!
2) Team Rocket instinctively joining Lloyd in his cheap imitation of their motto is actually a small reference to the Johto saga episode "The Chikorita Rescue", where the same thing happens, except it's Ash imitating their motto. XD
3) Looks like Evelyn was able to turn the tide in Ash, Serena, and Aria's battle against Adam! ...Even if she went back to being a wuss afterwards. XD
1) FINALLY! A legitimate subversion of Ash's inherently dense nature! I feel like a glowing-brained, third-eyed GENIUS!
2) Welp...there's a problem, because AdvanceShipping was my go-to shipping before AmourShipping came along. XP
3) Hey, I support a whole bunch of other Ash shippings too! :D I could've made this whole fic be about a harem between Ash and a bunch of girls, because I'm a shameless, perverted multishipper, but I feel it'd be a disaster to write. My spine just shivers at the thought already! XD
4) Well, I wouldn't call this juggling between two timelines. I mean, it's not like we'll be seeing how events in the present day affect the future. I'll be making Ash and Serena's future selves a secret until the end! ;)
-Dragon King Ryouga: I'm glad I could make you laugh with that scene. Like I said earlier, that scene is also supposed to be a reference to an old-school episode, where basically the same thing happens to Team Rocket. XD
1) I'm glad the transitions and perspective shifts were smooth. Like I said earlier, I felt like this bogged down the chapter for me, but since everyone else is pleased with how it turned out, I guess there's nothing to be worried about!
2) As you can see here, Foster wasn't the one who interrupted Parker. It was Shauna's group. But good guess, though!
-Melodyluvs: Uhhhhh...here's another chapter. Would you mind being more in-depth for your review next time? I would love to know what exactly you think of the stuff you just read. Did you have anything you liked in the chapter? Anything you disliked? Any questions or miscellaneous comments?
1) Well, of course! I didn't give Team Rocket any time to shine for a while. Might as well be meta about it and take good advantage of Team Rocket's tendency to break the fourth wall at the same time! XD XD XD
2) Ah, it's alright. At least you're being more specific and in-depth with your review, unlike a couple of other reviewers that I keep getting. :/
3) Yes, I just realized how much screentime I'm giving Greninja. I'll try my best to put Ash's other Kalos Pokémon well in focus in the next chapter!
Well, hope you enjoyed this late chapter! TheCartoonFanatic01 is out. PEACE!