The Way We Will Be @thecartoonfanatic01
Four Battles and a Celebi

A/N: Hey, everyone! Yes, I'm back. After, what, three-and-a-half months?

Once again, I apologize if this chapter took long to get out. I hope you're all staying healthy in this trying time, not just here in the U.S. but all across the world. And I also hope you're all exercising utmost patience when it comes to updates for this story. I promise, I am fully intent on keeping you all in the loop via updates to my profile page. Keep checking it out for anything new that I might have to say.

Also, just in case any of you don't know, I registered a brand-new account on the SpaceBattles forum, which I intend to use for fanfiction. Don't worry, I'm not going to leave this site, but just like with Archive Of Our Own, I strongly feel that it's time for me to branch out further and introduce more people to my works. I cannot expect myself to rely on this site and this site alone for exposure. I haven't actually used the new account yet, but I just wanted to let all of you know in advance just in case any of you have registered accounts there. I'm operating under the same username in SpaceBattles so it shouldn't be too hard to find me.

Alright, on with the chapter! ENJOY!

P.S.: This was going to be posted a couple of days earlier, but a heat-wave just hit California again, and I don't do well in hot weather, so that hampered things for a bit from my end. I'm so sorry about the additional delay! Please forgive me! DX

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.


Ash, Pikachu, Pichu, and Greninja sped after the fleeing Adam, their legs carrying them down the hallway as fast as they possibly could. Serena, Aria, Evelyn, Foster, and all of their Pokémon watched the Pallet Town native run off, momentarily stunned by the sudden turn of events. Then, Serena was the first to follow suit, an action copied by the others.

"Ash, wait!" Serena called.

As the group continued to run, Foster was able to catch up to Aria, who was looking more perplexed than anything else.

"Yo, Ar!" he cried. "What the heck's going on?! Why're you battling this guy?!"

"You tell me!" the Kalos Queen replied. "First thing I know, we're searching for her sister!" She pointed at Serena. "Then, all of a sudden, we're attacked by that guy, and there's this whole talk about some guy named Parker, who may or may not have her sister! Next thing I know, she..."

Her voice trailed off, and she looked behind her shoulder. Foster followed his childhood friend's gaze and realized she was looking at Evelyn. Evelyn, in turn, was staring at the two of them in stunned awe.

"Who are you?" Aria asked.

Evelyn didn't answer; instead, she averted her gaze from the two, a scarlet hue blossoming on her face. This expression suddenly jogged something in Foster's memory, and he took a closer look at the girl. After a few seconds, the farmhand's eyes widened in shock.

"Hey, wait a second!" he exclaimed. "I remember you!"

Aria looked back at him incredulously. "You do?!"

"Yeah! She's the girl that sis and I found in the barn! I think sis mentioned her to Paris!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, you guys found her in the barn?!"

"W-Well, yeah!"

Aria and Foster both heard Evelyn let out a humiliated squeak, as if she had something worse to hide and it was about to be exposed.

A few days earlier...

The Sun rose over the green, vast horizon, bathing Kiloude City in the warmth of its bright, golden light. Normally, once this occurred, this would be the cue for any average resident of Kiloude City to wake up and begin their daily routines.

However, Foster and Amara weren't ordinary residents.

"Good morning, you guys!" Amara announced once she opened the door to the Laurier Maison barn. "Rise and shine! It's the day of the Exhibition Showcase, so you guys better on your best...behavior..."

Her voice trailed off once she realized the barn Pokémon were all quietly staring off in one direction, towards the far-right corner of the structure. Blinking slowly, Amara stepped foot inside the barn, ignoring the foul smells her olfactory senses had long become accustomed to, and cautiously wandered over to the spot the Pokémon were staring at.

"Uh, sis?" Foster asked, observing Amara's progress with confusion. "What's going on?"

"Something's up," the older farmhand replied. "Send out Zangoose. It could be an intruder."

"S-Su-Sure thing." With that, Foster procured a Great Ball and threw it. "Go!"

The Cat Ferret Pokémon emerged after a brief flash of light and growled defensively. Then, it followed Amara deeper into the barn, with Foster on its heels. As the three proceeded towards the corner of concern, Foster noticed how placated the Pokémon were. Whatever the problem was, it wasn't of any real danger, otherwise they would be obviously panicking.

"Uhhh, sis?" Foster piped up. "You sure it's something we need to worry about? The Pokémon don't seem pretty worried-"

"Foster," interrupted Amara, "the Exhibition Showcase is today. People will be touring this place, and there's expected to be a fair amount of security. Even if it's not gonna be a problem, we gotta double-check, otherwise those jerks will find a good excuse to wiggle ownership of the Maison out of our hands."

Foster's eyes darkened. "Oh, yeah... That's true..."

"Of course it is, Foster. And besides, we can't afford to-" By that point, she had gotten to the far-right corner, upon which she froze, her face filling with stunned shock. "Oh, my Arceus..."

Foster's curiosity was piqued. "What? What is it, sis?"

Before Amara could reply, the younger farmhand's curiosity got the better of him, and he joined his older sister's side to see what she was looking at. Once he did, he blinked rapidly in disbelief, his lower jaw slowly sliding open.

The stable situated on the far-right corner contained a Rapidash and its Ponyta foal. But neither of them were the source of Foster and Amara's surprise. Instead, it was the well-dressed girl with smooth blue hair, who had apparently snuggled up against the Rapidash, taking comfort from the warmth of the Fire Horse Pokémon's fiery mane and tail while she slept peacefully. The Rapidash and Ponyta did not seem to mind the girl's presence. In fact, the Ponyta had snuggled up next to her, providing her body with additional warmth.

"Wh-What?" Foster blubbered. "H-Ho-How'd she g-get in here?"

"I dunno," replied Amara. "She couldn't have broken in through the door. The lock's intact and in working condition." She looked around to see if there were any holes in the rooftop or the walls of the barn. "It doesn't look like she smashed her way into here, at least not from where I'm standing."

"Wh-Wh-What do we do?"

"Well, we wake her up, for starters. If the Pokémon aren't bothered by her, then surely that doesn't mean she'll be a big threat to us, am I right?"

Foster didn't argue with that. With the silent agreement in mind, Amara unlocked the door to the Rapidash and Ponyta's stable, opened it up, and stepped inside.

"It's okay, you guys," she said to Rapidash and Ponyta. "I'll take over from here. Thank you very much for your help."

Ponyta got up on its slightly wobbly feet and stepped away from the sleeping girl. As soon as it left, she quietly groaned and gravitated closer to Rapidash's body, seeking out more of its body heat. Amara promptly knelt down, gently placed a hand on the girl's shoulder, and lightly shook her.

"Hey. Hey, you. Rise and shine."

The girl groaned again. For a moment, her eyes remained closed. Then, once more of the morning sunlight crept into the barn and illuminated more of its interior, the girl's eyelids fluttered open, revealing blue eyes. Foster couldn't help but be startled by them; even if they were a different color, there was something about those eyes that reminded him of Aria.

"Wh...Wha...?" the girl moaned. She lifted her head, ignoring how some of the stable straw clung onto her blue hair. "W-What time is it, Morgan...?"

"Ummmmm..." Amara replied hesitantly. "I'd, uh...I'd hate to break it to you, but...I'm not Morgan..."

Upon hearing the young woman's voice, Evelyn's eyelids flew open fully, giving her a complete, unobstructed view of her surroundings. She sat up from her makeshift bed of straw and looked around frantically.

"Wh-What?!" she squeaked. "Wh-What happened?! Y-Yancy?! N-Nate?!"

"I don't know who Yancy or Nate are," said Amara, "but there's no reason to be afraid. You're safe-"

"No, no I'm NOT safe! Not when those poachers are-" All of a sudden, Evelyn's eyes fell upon Foster. "Are..."

Foster blinked, startled by the stunned and almost horrified way the girl was looking at him. He could see a faint glimmer in her eyes, a glimmer indicating some deep emotion, but he couldn't pinpoint what it was exactly. Hesitantly, he took a couple of steps forward.

"Is, uhhh... Is there anyone we should call for you...?" he asked.

He heard nothing but a nearly inaudible whimper coming out of her quivering rosy lips. Then, to his shock, the farmhand saw the color draining away from her fair skin. It was as if she could see a snickering Haunter floating right behind him, poised to ambush him.

"Are...Are you okay?" he asked worriedly.


The pale-faced Evelyn abruptly pushed Foster away and ran past Amara before either of them could react.

"H-Hey!" Amara called. "W-Wait a minute! Stop!"

But it was too late, for Evelyn had already ran out of the barn and into the wilderness. Foster groaned as he sat up from the pile of hay he had been pushed into, and then glanced out of the open doorway of the barn.

"What the heck was that?" he asked.

With pursed lips, Amara reached for her pocket. "I'll call Officer Jenny."

Foster had nothing to say to his older sister in response. Instead, he continued staring through the doorway, towards the direction the strange girl took. The farmhand didn't know why, but there was something about that girl that was familiar to him...

The present day...

"Speaking of which..." Foster turned towards Evelyn. "What in the world did you run off? My sister and I weren't going to hurt you, I swear."

Evelyn didn't respond. Instead, she continued to bashfully look away, the scarlet hue on her cheeks growing even more. At that moment, Serena took her hand and maneuvered Evelyn past a group of maids who were picking up some towels they dropped, thus preventing the blue-haired girl from tripping over them in her embarrassment. Then, she decided to step in, having quickly realized Evelyn was in no position to address Foster's queries right now.

"Look, we'll talk about it later," the honey-blonde said. "For now, we have to-"

"ASH!" a familiar feminine voice suddenly screamed. "HELP ME, PLEASE!"

"Out of the way, out of the way, out of the darn way!"

Adam had now started to reach the eye of the public again. He nearly bumped into a group of maids and their assistant Pokémon as they filed into and out of a washroom, towels in hand. Several of the maids cried out in shock while a couple of them dropped their freshly cleaned towels on accident.

But Adam didn't care about any of them and their current predicament. Instead, he turned around to check his pursuers, hoping he lost them. To his utter dismay, he could still see Ash, Pikachu, Pichu, and Greninja right behind his heels, their faces filled with resolve. With gritted teeth, the green-and-golden-haired man turned back and picked up the pace, with the Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff Parker dispatched for him floating right beside him.

Within seconds, Adam turned a corner and entered another empty hallway, but he could still hear Ash and his Pokémon on his heels.

"I need to distract those stubborn, persistent fools!" he thought angrily. "I gotta keep their attention occupied somehow! But how-?"

A split-second later, Adam bumped into someone. The both of them fell to the ground, with Adam landing face-first onto the carpet and nearly breaking his mask in the process.

"AGH!" Adam glared angrily at the person who had obstructed his path. "Hey, watch it, you imbecile!"

"I-I'm sorry! I-I didn't mean to-"

"We've got you now!" Ash's voice suddenly hollered through the hallway.

With an enraged growl, Adam slammed his fist onto the floor. Then, he grabbed the civilian and pulled out another Poké Ball at the same time. He grinned malevolently once Ash, Pikachu, Pichu, and Greninja managed to catch up. As for the trio of Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff, they hovered right above him, facing their opponents just as he was.

"Hold it right there!" he hollered.

Ash stopped in his tracks, and his skin paled. "Cl-Clarice?!"

"Ash?!" the Performer cried in terror.

At the same time, Clarice's Fletchling started flying around Adam's face and aggressively pecking at him. Though he was protected by his mask, Adam angrily threw his Poké Ball anyway.

"Get rid of this pest, Aggron!" he roared.

The Iron Armor Pokémon emerged in a flash of light, roared, and then swung its tail at Fletchling as it started to glow an extremely bright silver.

"FLETCHLING!" Clarice screamed as the Tiny Robin Pokémon was sent flying into Ash's arms.

Ash was momentarily stunned by the horrible move towards Fletchling before gritting his teeth. "Hey, you let her go!" he snapped, while Pikachu and Greninja prepared to attack.

"Pichu-pi!" Pichu squeaked angrily.

"Uh, uh, uh!" Adam tauntingly wagged a finger at the boy while he slowly backed away from him, dragging Clarice along with him. "I don't think you're fully grasping the situation, lil' boy! If you or any of your Pokémon make a move towards me, well-" He snapped his fingers, prompting Aggron to bark at a flinching Clarice. "You use your imagination."

Aggron growled at Cecile, causing her to shiver. Ash gritted his teeth as he continued to hold Fletchling in his arms. Just then, Serena, Aria, Evelyn, and their Pokémon finally caught up to him.

"Clarice!" Serena cried in shock once she recognized Adam's hostage.

"Help me, please!" Clarice begged.

"Ohhhhh, I'm afraid you're not gettin' any help today, little Clarice," Adam replied tauntingly.

"Let her go!" Aria shouted. "She's got nothing to do with this!"

"Nothing to do with this?" Adam repeated, his eyes widening incredulously. "Nothing to do with this?! HA! HAHAHAHAHA! Well, she should've thought about that before she stepped in! Now, then-" He continued backing away with Clarice in his grip. "You kids stay right there. I'll let this girl go once I'm far enough from you all."

"ASH!" Clarice screamed.

Ash gritted his teeth even more tightly and clenched his fists. He clearly wanted to help, but he found no opening that he could exploit for Clarice's benefit. He was helpless, and Adam knew it.

"Good boy," the green-and-golden-haired man said with a sneer. "You may be a foolish, misguided simpleton of a kid but you sure do know when the odds aren't in your favor."

"Why're you doing this?!" Ash demanded. "Why're you trying to stop me and my friends from finding Selene and Celebi?! Why?!"

"Pika-pikaaa!" Pikachu squeaked aggressively, while Pichu's cheeks sparkled with electricity and Greninja readied a Water Shuriken attack.

"Why?" Adam abruptly stopped and took a moment to relish the fury Ash was exuding. "What's there to talk about? It's a freaking Celebi! You just can't get any luckier than that! And I'm fully intent on exploiting that luck! Now, if you were my shoes, then you'd most certainly agree!"

"I'd NEVER exploit a Celebi's powers by force!" Ash declared. "No matter what the situation is!"

"Let's agree to disagree, then. Oh, and speaking of which-" He resumed backing away, followed by his lumbering Aggron. "I do appreciate your efforts at distracting me till you catch me in a vulnerable state, but fortunately for me, I'm smarter than that- AAAAAGH!"

Without warning, Clarice had elbowed him right in the face using all of the strength she could muster. His mask protected him from most of the blow, but the force of it caused one of the glass eye-holes to crack. The attack left Adam stunned, thus giving Clarice the opportunity to break free from his grip. She then tried to run for Ash, but in her haste, she tripped on her own feet, falling to the floor.


Aggron started advancing towards Clarice, letting out a low but ominous growl, while Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff all hovered behind it as a precaution. The brunette Performer had become too paralyzed with fear to stand up and run.

"A-A-Ash!" she uttered in a terrified whimper. "H-He-Help me!"

"GRENINJA!" Ash shouted while pointing at the Iron Armor Pokémon.

But Greninja had already propelled itself at Aggron before his Trainer could even say the first syllable. Aggron looked up, just in time for Greninja to slam himself into its thick hide. It stumbled over for a brief moment, like a clumsy, lumbering giant, before grabbing the Ninja Pokémon by the neck. Greninja tried to retaliate, but Aggron quickly slammed him into the floor, in front of Clarice.

The tremor of the impact shocked Clarice to her senses, and she finally scrambled behind Ash for safety. But as she did, she noticed Ash was now in pain, even though she didn't notice any wounds on his body.

"Gr-Greninja!" Ash croaked, his concerned auburn eyes wide and bloodshot. "Quick! Get...Get outta there!"

"Ohhh, no you don't!" snapped Adam.

Greninja tried to roll away from Aggron's reach, but it reacted more quickly. With a large, thick foot and a lot of force, it pinned the Ninja Pokémon down to the carpet, the impact being punctuated by an agonizing cry from Ash. Greninja tried to struggle with all of his might, but Aggron's strength was brutal and overwhelming.

"And now," Adam snarled with a giddy sneer, "for the coup de grace! Heavy Slam, Aggron! And don't hold back!"

With one last application of pressure into Greninja's helpless, motionless body, Aggron propelled itself in the air, warding off Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff in the process. Once it got high enough, Aggron's whole body became surrounded in a silver aura. Then, it proceeded to fall and slam its body into its opponent, using so much force and brute strength that the impact left a deep, smoking crater in the floor.

"AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!" screamed Ash, who was clutching his chest as he collapsed to the floor.

"ASH!" Clarice screamed. She fell to her knees and reached out to the raven-haired boy, but she was unsure on what to do to help.

"PIKAPI!" Pikachu squeaked, the Mouse Pokémon attending to his Trainer's now-writhing form alongside Pichu.

Adam noticed Ash's reaction to the attacks as well. "Ahhhhh..." he remarked. "So whatever your Greninja's new form is, it's linked to you as well. Whatever pain Greninja feels, you feel as well. Interesting." Then, his eyes glinted with malice. "But, just like in any scientific experiment, one test is not enough to validate an observation as concrete fact. Let's keep testing out your pain threshold, then, shall we? AGGRON!"

With that, Aggron repeated its Heavy Slam attack over and over again, jumping high in the air, slamming its whole body down on Aggron, and jumping high in the air again. And every impact earned a scream from Ash, louder than the last. It was agonizing, unthinkable torture for the Pallet Town native as he writhed uncontrollably on the floor, grasping at every part of his body while an invisible enemy attacked him from all angles.


"ASH, NO!" screamed Clarice.

"PIKAPIIIII!" a horrified Pikachu squealed.

"PICHU-PIII!" Pichu squeaked. Then, it glared at Aggron as it prepared to use yet another Heavy Slam. With a hardened face, it braced its body. "PIIIII-CHUUUUU!"

The Tiny Mouse Pokémon discharged a bolt of electricity, one that was even more powerful than the previous ones. It hit Aggron with devastating force, the stray bolts forcing Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff to keep a distance. As for Aggron itself, it ceased its assault and glared down at Pichu.

"PI!" Pichu gagged and sweat-dropped, realizing that it had just gotten itself more into trouble than anything else.

"Awwwwwww..." Adam said, his sneer still in place. "Did the little-wittle Pichu think he's a big boy and try to scare off the big, bad Aggron? How adorable! AHAHAHAHAHA!" Then, he pointed at the Tiny Mouse Pokémon. "Finish it."

Aggron had forgotten all about Greninja now. Instead, it lumbered out from the deep crater it had created and advanced towards Pichu, its eyes shining brightly with malice.

"P-P-Piiiiiiiiii..." Pichu squeaked. Its entire body was shaking in fear, and it was too overwhelmed by terror to even move.

Realizing the predicament Pichu was in, Pikachu scurried in-between his pre-evolved form and Aggron. Staring fearlessly up at the Iron Armor Pokémon, he let his red cheeks sparkle with electricity in a display of intimidation.

"Pikaaa!" Pikachu snapped aggressively.

But Aggron didn't flinch. With a huff, it raised its tail and prepared to use it when...

"Zangoose, use Quick Attack!" a new voice hollered.

A Zangoose tackled Aggron from the front, leaving a trail of silver energy in its wake. The Iron Armor Pokémon roared as it fell to the floor with a deafening thud, with Zangoose standing over its stomach triumphantly.

"AGGRON!" Adam roared angrily.

Pikachu, Pichu, and Clarice looked behind them. To their immense relief, Serena, Aria, Evelyn, Foster, and their Pokémon all joined their sides.

"ASH?!" Serena screamed upon seeing Ash's body lying on the floor. "ASH!"

Then, she glared hatefully at Adam, who recoiled at her fiery gaze. With that, the honey-blonde procured a Poké Ball and threw it in the air.

"Sylveon, go!" she called. "Use Swift!"

The Intertwining Pokémon emerged from the device and fired the Normal-type attack. Before Adam could react, the gold stars struck the ground in front of him, knocking him over as well.

"AGH!" the man snapped. "A-Accursed girl!"

In response to Adam's predicament, Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff hovered higher into the air and began firing volleys after volleys of Bullet Seed at the group. The combined attacks the floor in front of them and kicked up a cloud of smoke that covered their vision. Everyone reacted immediately, covering their eyes and noses with their elbows.

"Braixen!" Serena called. "Use Flamethrower! Sylveon, use Swift again!"

"Zangoose!" Foster ordered. "Use Slash!"

"Pika!" Pikachu squeaked while jumping back into the fray.

"Pi!" Pichu added.

Then, both Mouse Pokémon propelled themselves higher in the air, their bodies crackling with yellow bolts of electricity.



As for Braixen and Sylveon, they swiftly fired their respective attacks, while Zangoose jumped towards Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff, its claws glowing bright. The quintet of attacks warded off the trio of Grass-type Pokémon and interrupted their Bullet Seed volley. However, Adam took advantage of the distraction to recall his Aggron and make another run for it. Serena and the others didn't care; instead, they quickly attended to Ash.

"Ash?!" Serena cried while kneeling beside his motionless form. "Ash! Are you okay, Ash?! Please say something!"

To her immense relief, Ash's eyes fluttered open, revealing his auburn eyes. Then, he remembered almost immediately.

"That...That guy!"

The Pallet Town prepared to stand up so he could run after Adam, but a powerful stab of pain coursed through his body, forcing him to stop, clutch his side, and groan in agony. Once the pain subsided, a desperate tug to his sleeve caught his attention. Glancing to his side, the Pallet Town native's eyes were met with Pikachu's worried, beady ones.

"Pikapi, pika-pika!" Pikachu squeaked, shaking his head in concern and disagreement.

"Pikachu's right!" Serena replied. "You're hurt! Forget about that guy, Ash. You need to get to a Pokémon Center!"

"So does my Fletchling!" Clarice squealed with terror.

"And Greninja!"

Ash then remembered he still had the injured Fletchling in his arms all this time. Looking down, he saw how bruised and battered the Tiny Robin Pokémon had been left by Aggron's callous assault. Then, he looked towards the crater, but the raven-haired boy could see nothing but a cloud of smoke. He could still feel Greninja's life-force in there, but vaguely so.

"Don't worry about it, you guys!" Foster announced, just as the smoke started to clear. "I'll alert Maison security straight away!"

The farmhand immediately pulled out a walkie-talkie and began speaking into it. However, Serena didn't bother listening in, for she averted her gaze from Ash, her sapphire-blue eyes wide.

"Clarice?!" she exclaimed.

The brown-haired Performer looked at Serena, and soon, her own eyes widened as well.

"Serena?!" Then, Clarice noticed Aria, and her eyes widened in surprise and admiration. "OH, MY ARCEUS! Aria?! Is that you?! What're you doing here?!"

"A-Ar-Aria?!" The Kalos Queen's face became as red as her hair. "Wh-Wh-What're you t-ta-talking about? M-M-My name's A-Ar-Ariana-"

But Serena was quick to notice what was wrong. "Aria! Y-Your disguise!"

"Why, what about it?!"

"It's-It's gone!"

Aria's red eyes widened. "W-WHAT?!"

The redheaded girl began desperately groping around her face and head in search of her rectangular eyeglasses and her hat, the only articles of clothing she needed to distinguish herself as her alter-ego. But as soon as she felt up her face, a horrible realization dawned upon her: her glasses and hat were knocked off during the battle with Adam.

"Oh, no!" she thought while shooting a panicked glance at the starry-eyed Clarice. "Oh no, oh no, oh NO! What do I do?"

Fortunately for Aria, Foster broke the tension a split-second later. "Alright, I just alerted security! They have a description of this guy, and what kind of Pokémon's he got!"

"Th-Thank goodness," Aria replied.

With that, Foster knelt beside Ash. "Ash, I've also called the Laurier Maison nurses."

"Laurier Maison nurses?" Serena asked.

"Yeah. The Maison has its own nurses on standby in case of emergencies like this." Foster addressed Ash again. "You've gotta stay still, Ash-"

"But...that guy..." Ash croaked.

"I told you, Maison security's gonna take care of him."

"But we do not know if he's gonna get away or not!" Serena exclaimed, siding with Ash. "He's working with Parker, and if Parker could break out of jail, then this guy can get away! Someone's gotta tail him and make sure that doesn't happen!"

"Alright, then." Foster looked at Serena, Aria, and Evelyn. "You guys go get that loser! I'll stay here and help Clarice with her Fletchling and Ash and his Greninja."

"O-Okay!" Serena replied.

At that moment, Pichu scurried atop the honey-blonde's shoulder, its cheeks sparkling with static electricity.

"Pichu-PI!" it squeaked valiantly.

Serena gave it a side-glance and then nodded. "Alright. You come with us, Pichu. The more friends, the more firepower we've got." She then looked at Pikachu. "Pikachu, use stay here and make sure Ash and Greninja are alright."

"Pikachu!" Pikachu cried in agreement.

"Alright." The Vaniville Town native then stroked Ash's zigzagged cheek softly. "You rest now, Ash. I'll take care of it from here."

"Serena," Ash replied, his voice a strained whisper. Then, after staring into Serena's sapphire-blue eyes for a second that nevertheless felt like an eternity, he slowly nodded. "Okay... Please...stay safe..."

"I will." With that, Serena looked at Braixen, Sylveon, Aria, Delphox, Evelyn, and Pachirisu. "You guys ready to go?!"

"You betcha!" Aria replied.

"U-Um, mm-hm, mm-hm!" Evelyn uttered, nodding her head frantically.

Braixen barked softly in affirmation, while Sylveon smiled sweetly at her. Knowing she had the support of her friends, the girl stood up and prepared to move, but then, she took one last look at Ash as Foster attended to him. Once she assured herself that her crush would be in good hands, she ran after Adam again, with Braixen and Sylveon trailing close behind. However, Aria, Evelyn, Delphox, and Pachirisu remained behind for a few more moments, with the former giving Foster a worried glance.

"Foster-" Aria began.

"Aria, you've got this," interrupted Foster, his tone urgent as he waved his childhood friend off. "Go, GO!"

But Aria remained still, her ruby-red eyes still gleaming with worry. This prompted her Delphox to grab her shoulder and get her attention. Upon remembering the dire situation, the Kalos Queen nodded at Foster, turned her back on him, and ran after Ash and Serena. Once she did, Evelyn let out a nervous squeak of a gasp, looked from Aria to Foster and back, and then followed the Kalos Queen, with Pachirisu scurrying by her side.

Once the Trainers and their Pokémon turned a corner and went out of sight, Foster sighed, still looking longingly after the direction Aria took. Then, he reached into a pocket, pulled out a walkie-talkie, and pressed a button, preparing to speak into it.

"Please," he thought. "Stay safe, Ar."

"Well, well, well."

Parker smirked and crossed his arms, his entire form exuding arrogance. As for his Sceptile, Chesnaught, Trevenant, and massive horde of Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff, they stared down the newest addition to Clemont and Shauna's group. The Trainers all gritted their teeth in anger, while their Pokémon readied themselves for the poacher's next move.

"If it isn't the figurehead of a bygone era," Parker continued, his voice low and taunting. "Tell me, Pokémon Ranger, how does it feel knowing you and your organization are about to be rendered irrelevant in a few years' time?"

He then punctuated his taunt with a malicious chuckle. However, Summer didn't give him a visible reaction. Instead, she confidently blew a strand of hair off her face as she stood between Shauna and Calem.

"Yeah, well," she replied, "I could really use my retirement benefits a little early now."

Parker's smirk instantly turned into a frown. "Destroy them."

Sceptile and Chesnaught charged at Clemont and Shauna's group, with Sceptile using Leaf Blade and Chesnaught using Wood Hammer. As for the horde of Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff, they backed their comrades up with suppressive fire in the form of Bullet Seed volleys.

"Luxray!" Clemont cried. "Use Wild Charge!"

"Use Vine Whip, Ivysaur!" ordered Shauna with clenched fists.

"Empoleon, use Hydro Pump!" Calem commanded while pointing at the incoming opponents.

"Dusknoir, use Shadow Ball!" shouted Summer.

The four Pokémon immediately used their respective attacks. First, Luxray charged at Sceptile, its body surrounded with electricity. Before the Forest Pokémon could dodge it, Ivysaur's vines wrapped themselves around its legs and held them together, causing it to fall over and leave it vulnerable to Luxray's Wild Charge. The Electric attack hit the mark, sending Sceptile flying.

As for Chesnaught, it was knocked over by Empoleon's Hydro Pump before it could swing its Wood Hammer. This allowed Dusknoir's Shadow Ball to hit it squarely in the chest. The Spiny Armor Pokémon let out a howl as it was critically injured by the Ghost-type energy.

"Don't back down, Sceptile!" Parker barked. "Use Leaf Blade again!"

Unhurt by the electricity, Sceptile jumped back up on its feet and slashed Luxray with Leaf Blade, knocking it back.

"Luxray!" Clemont shouted.

"Scizor!" Calem hollered at the top of his lungs. "Use Iron Head! Golem, follow it up with a Rock Blast!"

Scizor's three-horned head glowed silver, and it propelled itself at Sceptile with all of its power. The Mega Evolved Grass-type tried to react, but it was hit and stunned by the Steel-type attack. As for Calem's Alolan Golem, three rings of light-blue energy materialized around its body and spun around it. The rings then transformed into glowing white rocks that continued to spin all around it. Once they spun around it enough times, Golem fired the rocks at Sceptile, which by that point had recovered from Scizor's Iron Head.


With that a cry, the Forest Pokémon flipped and somersaulted in the air, dodging all of Golem's rocks with ease. Then, it aimed its palms at Golem, discharging flurries of glowing green leaves from them. The attack struck the heavy Megaton Pokémon, causing it to cry out in pain from the super-effective hit.

"Golem!" Calem called. "Hang in there!"

But the combination of the type weakness and Sceptile's Mega Evolved state was already too much for Golem to bear. It collapsed to the floor with a resonating thud, knocked out for the count.


"Dusknoir!" Summer cried. "Use Curse on Sceptile!"

The Gripper Pokémon raised its palms in the air, causing a gigantic, nail-shaped construct of dark energy to materialize above its head. This construct immediately pierced Dusknoir's forehead, causing it to cry out in pain. A second later, the construct dissipated into nothingness, but it didn't appear to leave behind an injury or any other mark. Nevertheless, the move caused Parker to narrow his eyes.

To everyone else's surprise, he pulled out his Great Ball and snarled, "Sceptile, return!"

The Forest Pokémon was recalled back into its device. Then, Parker glared at Trevenant, which continued to stand guard over Celebi's cage, and motioned it to join Chesnaught over on the makeshift battlefield. The Elder Tree Pokémon did so, its sole red eye glowing with rage.

"Wow!" Clemont cried. "You forced Parker to recall his strongest Pokémon by using Curse on it! Smart move, Summer!"

"Well, of course!" replied Summer. "There's no way this guy is gonna have any use for Sceptile if every attack it makes is going to have an automatic repercussion to its health! Mega Evolved or not, Curse will persist on Sceptile until either it or Dusknoir are defeated."

"Now we've just evened out the odds!" Shauna exclaimed, hopping up and down enthusiastically.

Upon hearing that, Parker started chuckling. "You think you evened out the odds by playing this hand, Pokémon Ranger? HA! Well, think again! You may think your Ghost-type is all you need to turn the tide in this fight, but fortunately for me, I have my own Ghost-type for you fools to reckon with!"

Trevenant growled loudly as it stepped in front of Chesnaught, its eye glowing even brighter.

Despite this threat, Clemont smirked. "You can scare us all you want, but when it's our friends and family that are on the line, then no threat is gonna hold us back from protecting them and doing what's right! LUXRAY! USE WILD CHARGE!"

"IVYSAUR!" cried Shauna. "USE SOLAR BEAM NOW!"

"DUSKNOIR, USE SHADOW BALL!" Summer commanded.


The barrage of attacks were sent flying at Chesnaught and Trevenant, but the two Grass-types braced themselves...

The moment Parker called his Trevenant over to the battlefield, Bonnie and Dedenne saw their chance to act. Coming out from her hiding place behind an overturned table set up near a wall, the young girl stealthily sneaked over to the bound Selene and the caged Celebi.

Once she got close enough to Selene, Bonnie softly tapped her shoulder thrice, catching the other girl's attention. Upon recognizing her savior, Selene prepared to cry out to her, but Bonnie covered her mouth.

"Shhhh!" Bonnie whispered. "Do you want us to get caught?!" When Selene shook her head, she continued, "Good. Well, don't you worry, Selene. Dedenne and I are here to save the day!"

Trevenant staggered backward from the combined might of Clemont, Shauna, Calem, and Summer's Pokémon's attacks. In contrast, Chesnaught held its ground and shoved Luxray, Gallade, and Scizor away as the former's body crackled with electricity. Then, the Spiny Armor Pokémon produced another Wood Hammer and swung at its opponent, forcing Luxray to back away even further.

"We gotta push harder!" Clemont cried. "Luxray, use Electric Terrain!"

Luxray howled as it discharged multiple bolts of electricity from its body. Then, the floor underneath it started to glow an extremely bright yellow, followed by Luxray's entire body.

"Oh, no you don't!" Parker snapped, pointing at Luxray. "Chesnaught, use Seed Bomb! Trevenant, use Will-O-Wisp!"

Chesnaught fired a bundle of explosive seeds at Luxray's direction as it continued to power up, while Trevenant followed it up with its own attack.

"Quickly, Ivysaur!" Shauna commanded at the top of her lungs. "Use Energy Ball! Flabébé, use Moonblast again! Gothita, use Psybeam again!"

Shauna's remaining three Pokémon fired their respective attacks, intercepting the Seed Bomb and Will-O-Wisp barrages. This triggered a small explosion that blanketed the hall in a billowing cloud of smoke. Just as the smoke started to clear out, Clemont pointed at Parker's direction.

"Now, Luxray!" the inventor cried. "Use Wild Charge!"

"Cover Luxray with Hydro Pump, Empoleon!" Calem added.

"You too, Dusknoir!" Summer shouted. "Use your best Shadow Ball!"

Luxray charged at Chesnaught and Trevenant, its entire body enveloped in electricity. Its sides were soon flanked by the Emperor Pokémon's Hydro Pump and the Gripper Pokémon's Shadow Ball. However, the undeterred Parker swiped at the air with his arm.

"Use Spiky Shield, Chesnaught!" he ordered.

Chesnaught stood directly in front of Parker and Trevenant before enveloping itself and them in the familiar viridescent, spike-adorned shield of energy. The three attacks struck it and exploded harmlessly, creating a thick, billowing cloud of smoke that filled the hallway. With Parker's attention occupied, Shauna attended to her fallen Swirlix.

"Swirlix, return," she said fondly, recalling her wounded Cotton Candy Pokémon into its Poké Ball. "You did well. Now you can rest." Then, she looked back at the cloud of smoke and peered at it. "You guys, be careful, and be ready. It could be a trap."

Everyone else nodded, and the group slowly walked towards the smoke. Shauna followed after them, each step that she took slow and calculated.

Once they got close, Shauna heard a small creak from the floor...even though she had her foot in midair. She froze in her tracks, as did her Pokémon. She could feel the hairs standing rigidly on her skin.

Clemont seemed to feel it too, for he held out his arm, stopping the others from proceeding.

"Hold on a moment," he whispered.

"What is it?" Calem asked, his eyes trained to the smoke.

"Something doesn't feel right..."

The trio of Trainers, the Ranger, and their Pokémon stared into the cloud for a few more seconds. Then, they could faintly hear some movement. And then...


Just then, Chesnaught and Trevenant emerged from the smoke, both of them using Wood Hammer.

"IVYSAUR, USE VINE WHIP!" Shauna shrieked.

Ivysaur unleashed its vines, but the two Grass-types dodged them. Then, Trevenant slashed at Flabébé, knocking it into a wall, while Chesnaught struck Gothita, sending it to the floor.

"FLABÉBÉ!" Shauna cried as she watched her Pokémon fall one by one. "GOTHITA!"

With gritted teeth, Calem pointed at Chesnaught. "Gallade, Close Combat!"

Gallade charged at the Spiny Armor Pokémon, while Clemont and Summer prepared to focus their efforts on Trevenant.

But then, Parker's voice hollered out, "Stop them with Bullet Seed!"

At that moment, the horde of Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff emerged from the smoke and fired Bullet Seed after Bullet Seed. Clemont, Calem, and Summer's Pokémon all recoiled from the barrage, with some of them being pelted.

Now left with no other defenses, Shauna looked at her last standing Pokémon, Ivysaur. "IVYSAUR, ENERGY BALL!"

Ivysaur fired the Energy Ball at the direction of Chesnaught, knocking the Spiny Armor Pokémon back before it could use its Wood Hammer on it. However, Trevenant was quicker, knocking Ivysaur away with its own Wood Hammer.

"IVYSAUR! Ivysaur, are you alright?!"

Ivysaur stood up with a little difficulty, but it gave Shauna a confident smile and nodded.

Meanwhile, Clemont glared at Parker, who was stepping through the remnants of the smoke with a sneer on his face.

"You're a coward!" the inventor cried. "Using dirty tactics and going after who you think are the weakest links?!"

"You should be ashamed of yourself!" Summer snapped in agreement.

But Parker yawned mockingly. "This is the millionth time I've been told this," he replied callously. "And you wanna know what I tell each and every person who tells me that? Why fight honorably when the reward at hand is an abundant sum of money?"

"And you wanna what I think, bully?!" a familiar voice shouted.

Parker's eyes widened in anger, and he twirled around. Once he did, his worst fears were confirmed, and he clenched his teeth together while flexing his fingers. As for Clemont's group, they all smiled and breathed out sighs of immense relief.

Bonnie was standing in a valiant pose beside an untied Selene. To Parker's immense horror, Selene had Celebi tucked in her arms, the Time Travel Pokémon no longer restrained in its cage. As for Dedenne, he was standing in front of Bonnie's feet, still nibbling on the rope that bound Selene a few moments ago, while a fizzling, broken cage lay beside its feet.

"You're just a big meanie and a loser who cries in a corner at night and likes picking on people and Pokémon so you can make yourself feel better!" Bonnie shouted.

Then, to add insult to injury, she stuck her tongue out at Parker.

Unbeknownst to everyone else, Sid had concealed himself behind a wall, having spent the last several minutes following his own trail over to Parker's location. But instead of stepping in to help the Pokémon poacher with whom he was allied, he was surreptitiously using his Holo Caster to record the entire battle, having done so for many minutes now.

As soon as he observed Bonnie and Dedenne freeing Selene and Celebi, he stopped recording and began sneaking away from the scene.

"Well, well, well," he muttered to himself with a sneer, "look's like things just got more interesting..."

"So lemme get this straight," Tierno said slowly. "You guys are a bunch of construction workers who broke Parker out of jail and agreed to help him capture Celebi, just so you back in time and...retake your fourth-grade science quiz?"

"Well," the restrained Floyd replied, before stopping and scrunching his face in thought. After a while, he nodded. "Yeah. That's pretty much it."

"Can't get any simpler than that," Lloyd added, the red-haired man not even bothering to struggle against his bonds. He was nodding his head, looking rather proud of himself for explaining his motives to Tierno and Trevor's groups.

"That's...That's it?" Trevor asked in complete disbelief. "No plan for world domination? No scheme to erase the existence of your greatest enemies? Not even a great effort to rewrite all of reality and make yourselves out to be gods?"

"I don't even understand half of the words you just said..." deadpanned Floyd.

"Oh, the NERVE!" the disguised Jessie snapped angrily. "And to think our precious motto was ripped off by these losers?! Ohhhhh, lemme at 'em, lemme AT 'EM!"

She reached out at Lloyd with the intention of throttling him, but James and Meowth reacted quicker. The two disguised Team Rocket operatives held their teammate back as she growled and ranted like a territorial Ursaring.

"Cool it, Jess!" James whispered frantically.

"Now's not da time ta blow our cover!" snapped Meowth under his breath.

Meanwhile, Miette grabbed Floyd's shoulder, forcing the blue-haired man to stare at her direction.

"It doesn't matter what you have planned," she snarled. "You tell us what the plan was."

"W-We already told you guys the pl-" began Floyd.

"Not what you were gonna do with Celebi! How you were gonna get Celebi outta here!"

Off to the side, Blanche and Kazalie were looking at one another in confusion.

"Celebi?" Blanche whispered to her friend. "Did Miette just say 'Celebi'? There's a Celebi here?"

But Kazalie looked just as befuddled as Floyd. "I also didn't understand half the stuff Trevor was saying..." she replied.

Just then, Floyd cried, "Look, I don't know, okay?!"

"Whaddaya mean you don't know?!" Nini replied. "You're going after a Legendary Pokémon. One that people are actively trying to protect."

"Wait, you guys are protecting a Celebi?!" Blanche exclaimed incredulously.

"W-We'll tell you guys all about it later," Trevor replied quickly, his face reddening from the sudden pressure of it all.

"L-L-Look," Lloyd stammered, "all we were supposed to do was stop you kids from interfering Parker's plans. That's it."

"That's...That's it?" Tierno repeated, his eyes bulging with disbelief. The rotund Trainer marched up to Lloyd and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. "You're telling me your only directions were to block us from stopping Parker? Nothing else? Not even a strategy on what to do if you guys lose to us?"

"Well..." Lloyd thought about it for a moment. "Not really."

"Not really, no," Floyd added in affirmation.

"T-To be perfectly honest, w-we were only supposed to provide a distraction, s-so Pa-Parker could sn-snatch the girl and Celebi from under your noses!"

"A distraction?" asked Tierno.

But Trevor realized it in an instant. "You're the guys who started that cafeteria fire?!"

"Yep!" Lloyd puffed out his chest with pride. "It was all my idea too!"

"What?!" Floyd shot his twin brother an angry glare. "It was my idea!"

Lloyd simply gave him a smug smirk. "You didn't do Pidgey-poop, man! All you did was obsess over that Magikarp tank of yours!"

"And you were obsessed with drinking up all those soft drinks, man!"

"Hey, at least I had a free coupon for those drinks. You got that Magikarp tank by selling Grandmama's heirloom to some con artist. No wonder why Grandmama called me her favorite grandson."

"Uhhh, guys?" Tierno asked.

But the two men were no longer listening to him. Floyd was seething at his twin brother, his teeth gritted.

"N-No, Grandmama said I was her favorite grandson," he snarled. "She even said it in front of you!"

"That, she did. Buuut!" Lloyd puffed out his chest even more. "After that happened, she pulled me into another room and told me that was a lie. You were throwing a big temper tantrum at the time because she didn't get you your favorite ice cream, and she wanted to calm you down with that. In reality, I was her favorite grandson!"

"Guys, can you just please-?" began Miette, but Floyd and Lloyd had totally gone off the rails in their conversation.

"No, you aren't!" Floyd snapped. "She told me time and time again that I was her favorite!"

"Then why do you think she named me as the sole heir to her fortune?" Lloyd asked smugly.

"Can you not read? It clearly said 'Floyd' in the will! Plus you were the one who wasted all of the family money on stupid investments!"

"Guys!" Trevor cried. When the twins failed to listen, he face-palmed in disbelief. "Hey, GUYS!"

But it was still futile.

"HEY!" Lloyd's face was as red as a Tamato Berry at Floyd's comment. "Liberating Pokémon is NOT a stupid investment! Pokémon have inalienable rights just as any human!"

"You don't even believe in Pokémon liberation, Lloyd!" replied Floyd. "You were and ARE still pretty happy with using your Tyrantrum for menial tasks! HA! I doubt you would've been able to live without Tyrantrum for more than a few seconds!"

"I don't even know what's going on anymore..." moaned Nini.

"I could say the same for you and Zangoose," growled Lloyd. "You two are joined at the hip!"

Floyd clenched his fists. "Hey, don't you DARE badmouth me and my relationship with Zangoose! We have been together for a long time! She was a gift from Grandmama when she was on her deathbed! Her deathbed!"

In the background, Jessie, James, and Meowth were watching the entire exchange.

"Dese guys are looniah dan da biggest of loons!" Meowth commented.

"They sure lose track of the conversation really quick," James replied in agreement.

"Guh, and to think Team Rocket's motto is being sullied by these losers?!" Jessie growled under her breath. "Oh, I cannot wait to be in a room alone with these two-"

"Oh, really?" Lloyd's voice cut across Team Rocket's observations, his eye twinkling maliciously at Floyd. "Are you gonna sell Zangoose to a shady vendor for a Chimecho that's actually a Hoppip? HAHAHAHAHA!"


Floyd totally lost it. He shot up and prepared to lunge at the cackling Lloyd and throttle him. But split-seconds before he could, the two men found their outlines enveloped in a glowing blue aura, which prevented them from moving an inch. A rather unsettling silence fell upon the hall as the twins remained frozen in their movements.

Then, Tierno, Trevor, Miette, and Nini looked behind them and saw Blanche standing before them, her normally cheerful face masked with a layer of unmistakable rage. Her two Meowstic stood beside her feet, their eyes glowing as they used their Psychic on the twins.

"You two are brothers," the blue-haired Performer growled, her voice sounding absolutely DEMONIC now. "TWINS. You're supposed to get along. How could you call yourselves friends and family if you're going to disagree over the simplest and most trivial of things?!"

"Uhhhhh...Blanche...?" Kazalie asked timidly, fearful of being the target of reprisal from her friend.

But Blanche readily ignored her. Instead, she motioned her Meowstic to telekinetically face Floyd and Lloyd towards her, which they did. The twins stared into the eyes of their captor, their own eyes wide with terror.

"Now, then," the blue-haired girl continued, her voice now a calm yet ominous hiss, "if you guys are done bickering like a bunch of little children, will you please tell my friends what exactly they need to know?"

Her Meowstic telekinetically faced Floyd and Lloyd towards Tierno, Trevor, Miette, and Nini, who were all staring at her as if she had transformed into a gigantic monster. A tense, awkward silence quickly filled the hallway and persisted for a few seconds. Then, Tierno cut through the silence by nervously clearing his throat and facing the twins again.

"Wh-What she said..." he said. "S-So, uhhh..wh-where were we?"

"They confessed to starting the cafeteria fire," Trevor replied helpfully.

"Still my idea," Lloyd quipped, split-seconds before the Meowstic holding him tightened its Psychic grip on him. "Ow, ow, OW! Okay, okay, I give!"

"You said you were only supposed to provide a distraction for Parker," Miette said, one of her eyebrows arched. " weren't supposed to pick a fight with us?"

"A-Apparently not," replied Floyd. "Parker didn't call us with further instructions once he got the girl and that Celebi. The dude just scampered off without us."

"W-We got bored," Lloyd continued, "a-and we saw you guys agreeing to find the girl and Celebi, s-so we thought, y-you know, w-we'd be of gr-greater use t-to Parker a-and tr-try and h-hold you guys off."

Tierno, Trevor, Miette, and Nini all looked at one another, all of them coming to the same realization.

"Parker's using you," Tierno said.

"He's using you," Trevor said.

"He's so using you," Miette said.

"Ditto," Nini said.

"He's NOT using us!" Floyd snapped.

"He's shown us the way to a brighter future!" added Lloyd.

"And that future can only be guaranteed by you guys...retaking a science quiz?" Miette stifled a giggle. "You two are such tools."

"We are NOT tools!" Lloyd cried.

As for Floyd, he started to cry loudly. "I can't believe a girl insulted me!"

"Alright!" Tierno started walking past the twins. "Blanche, make sure your Meowstic keep their Psychic grip on these two steady. We're taking them to Officer Jenny-"

"NO!" both twins cried at the top of their lungs. "DON'T TAKE US TO OFFICER JENNY! WE DON'T WANNA GO TO JAIL!"

"Says the guys who tried to stop us from rescuing a kidnapped girl and Celebi," Trevor replied.

"Consider yourselves lucky!" Jessie snapped. "I've still got my eye on you two for copyright infringement!"


"Tell that to the judge!"

At that moment, the rest of the group followed Tierno down the hallway, with Blanche's Meowstic telekinetically dragging Floyd and Lloyd along.

"I-I promise you!" Floyd squealed while trying to struggle against his invisible bonds. "We'll pay you anything you want!"

"Not interested," Blanche said.

"Do you want money?! I've got free money! I'll give it to you! I'll give it all to you kids!"

"H-How about a-a free coupon?!" cried Lloyd.

"A free coupon...?" Miette asked disbelievingly.

"Yes, b-but not just any coupon! It's the coupon!"

"If it's for those soft drinks your brother mentioned earlier, then forget about it."


"Aw, phooey."

"H-How about a tank full of Magikarp?!" Floyd declared, trying his best to sound like a salesman.

"Who the heck wants a tank full of Magikarp?" Kazalie asked incredulously.

"B-But they're not just any Magikarp! They're golden Magikarp."

"Been there, done that," James replied flatly.

"Aw, Rattata!"

The group finally found the staircase Trevor's group used to reach the floor they were on. As they began their descent to the lower floor, they failed to notice the Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff trailing them.

"S-So, uh...wh-what do we do now?"

Yancy stopped and looked back at Shulin, who was meekly following her and the rest of the group. Right now, they were escorting Cecile and Nick, both of whom were bound together by a bundle of rope. Yancy's Flo was keeping a close eye on them, while Grace's Fletchling was perched on Cecile's shoulder, ready to peck the woman in the face, just in case she made any sudden movements. Grace, Meyer, Layla, and Moose were surrounding the two crooks on all four sides, while Yancy, Nate, and Shulin were following close behind. The rest of their Pokémon had been recalled back to their Poké Balls moments earlier.

"Were you not listening to a word we were saying?" she asked incredulously.

"I-I was more focused on getting back to the Showcase!" Shulin exclaimed.

"Look, Shulin, I don't know about you, but the Exhibition Showcase is the least of my worries right now."

"Why?!" Shulin frowned and crossed her arms. "Just what exactly is going on here?! First, we're all having fun, watching and performing in the Exhibition Showcase! Then, all of a sudden, your little sister and her Sewaddle are kidnapped while we're on break! And then, while we're searching for her, we're attacked by these two random strangers, and that's when you and Nate start spouting confusing m-m-mumbo-jumbo about some guy named Parker and-and a frigging Celebi! But it looks like everyone else knows what the heck you're talking about, even those two weirdos!"

She pointed at Cecile and Nick, prompting the latter to cry out, "Hey!"

"A-Am I seriously the only one who's totally in the dark on what's happening here?!" Then, the green-haired Performer's eyes widened. "Pl-Please don't tell me Blanche and Kazalie know more th-than I do too!"

"It's best if you didn't know, Shulin," Yancy replied.

Shulin scowled and tapped her foot twice with impatience. "You know, Yancy, I know Kazalie and especially Blanche got all cozy with you from the moment we met, but I've always had a bad feeling about you-"

"Shulin," Nate interrupted, looking over his shoulder, "this is a very serious matter we're dealing with. I don't think you'd understand even if you tried. Please, you just need to remain calm and be quiet about what you've just seen and heard. You're gonna have to trust me on this."

"Okay, Nate!" Shulin said automatically. "I trust you, fully!"

"Are you kidding me?" Yancy asked incredulously.

But Shulin ignored her, ran up to Nate, and hugged his arm, causing Yancy to gag with horror.

"I will always trust you!" Shulin said, her voice now seductive as she batted her eyelashes at Nate. "Don't forget that!"

"Uhhhhh..." Nate stared into her crystal-blue eyes, stunned and confused by the close body contact. "Okaaaaayyyyy...?"

Yancy snapped almost immediately. "You get away from him right now! Is now really the time to start fl-fl-flir-flir-?!"

"Ah, why not?" Shulin glanced at the pink-haired girl mischievously. In the process, she tightened her grip around Nate's arm, causing the boy to blush. "Oh, lemme guess! Is he your boyf-?"

"He's not anything to me!" Yancy interrupted, her voice a high-pitched squeak. "H-He's just a very good friend, that's all! A-A-And i-it's clear he's uncomfortable with what you're doing!"

"Really?" Shulin held on tighter. "It seems to me you're the only one who's got a big problem with me making the moves on him."


Grace looked over her shoulder and shook her head with a sigh and a small grin of amusement. She could now see that her future granddaughter had been reduced to a stuttering mess. It reminded her so much of Serena whenever she was faced with an embarrassing debacle, a dilemma she couldn't get out of. It was both adorable and nostalgic.

But, of course, she knew she had a duty to uphold. So, the former jockey turned around, crossed her arms, and faced all three teenagers.

"Alright, girls, that's enough," she said sternly. "Shulin, let Nate go. It's clear he doesn't have experience in any of this."

"In any of what?" Nate asked obliviously.

Nevertheless, Shulin acquiesced and released his arm. "Ah, whatever." The green-haired Performer looked at Yancy with a sly grin. "At least we know which Performer among us has the initiative to seize what they need."

Yancy's eyes widened, and she furiously snarled, "E-EXCUSE ME?! Say that to my face again! I dare you, Shulin!"

"Well, at least I showed some initiative," Shulin replied tauntingly. She then put her index finger over her lips, making a teasing pose. "Unlike a certain someone-"


Grace stood in-between Yancy and Shulin, preventing a Glameow-fight from taking place. "I said that's enough!" The ex-jockey placed a hand on Yancy's forehead, preventing her from moving any further. "Yancy, I need you to calm down and remember Selene." She then glared at Shulin. "Shulin, you're not helping whatsoever. If you've got nothing to contribute to our search, then I suggest you go back to the changing room and perform in the Exhibition Showcase without us. It's probably going to take us a while to resolve this whole thing."

Unbeknownst to Grace, Meyer was looking over his shoulder and staring at her, evidently impressed by how quickly she took control of the situation.

"Perform in the Exhibition Showcase?" Shulin replied, her eyes wide. "Without Nate in the audience? I think not!"

"Awwwww, such true love!" Nick cried abruptly, his sweet, cheerful voice breaking through the tension like a butter knife. "I wish I had a supportive girlfriend such as you, Shulin! Don't worry; Nate and Shulin all the way!"

"Oh, for the love of!" Cecile growled. "Are you seriously shipping those two together, Nick?"

"W-Well, o-of course! It's clear they're meant for one another, Cecile!"

"Not in a million years." Then, before she could help herself, Cecile smiled smugly to herself. "Besides, Nate and Yancy is where the true love's at!"

"Nate and Yancy! HA HA!" Nick sneered at his teammate. "In your dreams, Cecile! Nate and Shulin is the OTP!"

"OTP?" Moose asked, his attention piqued.

"It stands for 'one true pairing', honey," Layla clarified.

"Ah, I see! Thank you, honey."

"Are we seriously talking about shippings?!" Yancy squealed, her face a darker shade than her pink hair. "We-We've got a job to do, r-remember?!"

"Yeah," Shulin replied snobbishly while looking at her fingernails. "A job you're screwing up."


She was interrupted by a sudden, earsplitting explosion that knocked everyone backward. Acting on instinct, Grace held onto Yancy and used her own body as a cushion when the two hit the wall behind them.

"AGH!" the jockey cried.

"Grandma?!" Through the high-pitched ringing in her eardrums, Yancy looked up at Grace and quickly noticed her pained grimace. "Grandma! Are-Are you alright?! Are you hurt?!"

"D-Don't worry, I-I'm fine," Grace grunted. She shook off the dust on her hair and rubbed the back of her head, wincing slightly. "What about the others...?"

Yancy shook her head to relieve it of the ringing noise, and then she looked around. As the smoke cleared, she could see Nate and Flo attending to Shulin, much to her dismay. Then, as she scanned the hallway in front of her, Yancy came to a horrible realization.

Cecile and Nick were nowhere to be seen.


Layla's call caused the hairs on Yancy's body to stand upright. She got up, helped her grimacing grandmother up on her feet as well, and ran up to Meyer and Moose, who were crouched over something...or rather, someone.

"Auntie Layla?!" Yancy asked. "What's wrong?!"

Layla looked up at her fearfully. Her eyes were shining with a mixture of panic and excitement, and her thighs were close together and quivering severely.

"My water just broke..."

Meanwhile, Tierno groaned, and his eyelids slowly fluttered open to reveal a cloud of smoke, along with the familiar red carpet of the Maison floor. All he could hear right now was a high-pitched ringing in his eardrums. Cautiously inclining his head, the rotund Trainer could see Trevor's form lying beside him, moaning and slowly shifting. Jessilee and her strange companions were sitting against the wall, rubbing their heads and shaking off the dust coating their bodies.

Then, Tierno looked in front of him and saw Nini lying on her side a couple feet away from him, her still body splayed all over the floor.


His own voice saying her name was the first thing he heard as his hearing readjusted itself. Tierno slowly crawled toward Nini, worried about how still she was. Praying the worst hadn't happened to her, he carefully touched her side and slowly laid her on her back.

"Nini?" he asked, gently patting her cheek with his palm. "Nini, are you alright? Wake up, Nini. Wake up!"

To his relief, Nini moaned and slowly opened her eyes. "Ti...Tierno...?"

"Yeah!" Tierno started to smile from ear to ear. "Yeah, it's me! You alright?!"

"I...I think so... Ugh..."

Nini began to sit up, a film of dust falling off her and staining her clothes in the process.

"How do you feel right now?" Tierno asked worriedly.

"Like I got knocked back by an explosion..." Nini replied, giving Tierno a soft, tired chuckle. Then, her head perked up in alarm. "W-What about the others?!"

Tierno looked across his shoulder with concern. A second later, he was relieved to see Trevor, Blanche, Kazalie, Jessilee, and her companions coming to.

"They're all fine," he said.

"And what about Floyd and Lloyd?"

Tierno's eyes widened as he scanned the scene a second time. "I..." He began looking around in panic. "I don't see them anywhere!"

"Oh, no..." Nini buried her face in her palms and groaned into them. "If they're working with Parker, then Parker must've done something to help 'em out. There's no way they planned that explosion." She sighed into her palms. "I guess they aren't being used like we thought."

"Well, it doesn't matter," Tierno replied. "What matters is that you're alright."

"O-Oh." Nini blushed in an instant. "Th-Thank you, Tierno."

Tierno smiled and nodded at her. Then, a couple of seconds later, he realized what he had just said and quickly uttered, "N-N-Not that th-the well-being of everyone else doesn't matter to me! E-Everyone matters to me! A-An-And I'm glad t-that everyone's alright, and-"

"Okay, okay, Tierno!" Nini started giggling at Tierno's embarrassment. "I get it! You can stop freaking out now."


However, Tierno never stopped blushing. Instead, he continued staring into Nini's eyes, and Nini stared back into his own with some sort of deeper emotion. The silence lasted for a minute at most, with the two's eyes locked onto one another. Then...

"Okay, well that's just great. While you two're busy giving each other the googly-eyes, the rest of us are gonna focus on what really matters!"

Tierno and Nini gave unhappy side-glances towards Trevor. The amateur photographer had just finished dusting himself off and was helping Miette up to her feet.

"And that's finding Floyd and Lloyd!" he snapped.

Both Tierno and Nini blushed intensely, embarrassed about being caught like that. They prepared to stand up when they accidentally bumped their foreheads against each other.



The two clutched their foreheads in pain, while Trevor, Miette, Blanche, and Kazalie all stared on with amusement. As for Team Rocket, they were still sitting against the wall, watching the scene unfold.

"As usual," Jessie remarked with a roll of her eyes. "Getting involved with the opposite sex is only asking for trouble."

"Yeah," James replied proudly. "And that's the kind of trouble I stay out of."

"Youse two don't need da opposite sex 'cause ya got each otha!" Meowth quipped with a sneer.

With that, the Scratch Cat Pokémon began cackling, earning him irritated stares from his teammates.

"What does that mean?!" Jessie asked ominously.

"Not funny!" snapped James.

Parker gnashed his teeth together in anger. He couldn't believe he had let such a slip-up occur and cause him to lose his grip on Celebi again. First, he continued to stare hatefully at Selene, Bonnie, Celebi, and Dedenne; and all of them were looking back at him defiantly. Then, he looked over his shoulder and saw Clemont's group closing in on him from behind, their Pokémon ready to attack.

"You accursed kids," he growled. "I just can't have my way whenever you're concerned, can't I?!"

"It's called losing!" Bonnie chirped angrily. "That's what bad guys do best!"

"Dedenne!" Dedenne squeaked, his whiskered cheeks sparkling with electricity.

"Now give it up, poacher!" Summer ordered.

"Or else!" Clemont snapped, while Luxray barked savagely at the Pokémon poacher.

Parker gritted his teeth again, knowing fully well that picking a fight was futile. Now that Selene had been freed and now had his bounty back in her grasp again, the others would be even more motivated to give it their absolute best, without anymore concern for her well-being. And while they kept him occupied with their teamwork, the children would run for it, without a doubt. There was no way he would be able to multitask between the children and the Trainers, especially since his powerhouse Sceptile had to be recalled into its Poké Ball for strategic reasons.

There was no probable chance for success-

All of a sudden, Parker's train of thought was interrupted by a high-pitched beeping noise. He glanced at his wristwatch, which was blinking a green light. His eyes widened, for he realized this could only mean one thing.

"Looks like the probabilities have shifted in my favor once again..." he thought.

Then, he turned around and stared at Clemont's group. Clemont, Shauna, Calem, and Summer were surprised to see his angered frown turn into a triumphant sneer.

"Ohhh, I wish I could, children," he replied. "How I wish I could. Unfortunately for you, however..." He showed them his blinking wristwatch. "I have an...appointment that I need to get to. Ah, but don't worry. Once I return, I'll see to it that you all suffer for your persistent meddling."

Then, he looked over his shoulder, and Selene and Bonnie recoiled at his razor-sharp gaze of hatred and vengeance.

"Especially you two."

"LUXRAY!" Clemont cried.

"IVYSAUR!" Shauna shouted.

"EMPOLEON!" Calem screamed.

"DUSKNOIR!" Summer hollered.

The four Pokémon tried to act as quickly as they could, but it was already too late. Parker snapped his fingers, and with a roar, Chesnaught picked its Trainer up and kept him in his arms. Then, the Spiny Armor Pokémon used Wood Hammer on the wall next to them, creating a large hole that it and Parker's other Pokémon used to flee.

"Let's go after them!" Calem cried.

"No, you guys go on ahead!" replied Clemont as he started running over to Selene and Bonnie. "I'll check on Selene and Bonnie."

"Got it!" Summer cried. Then, she glanced at Calem and Shauna, who were both looking at Clemont, Selene, and Bonnie with reluctance. "Come on, you two! They'll be fine! Let's just get this guy before he does anything else!"

The two Trainers nodded and followed Summer through the hole. At the same time, Clemont finally reached the two little girls and knelt before them.

"Are you two okay?!" the inventor cried. "Are either of you hurt?!"

"Not really," Selene replied.

"Nope!" Bonnie added with a grin that stretched from ear to ear. "We're fine!"

Then, Selene gestured to Celebi with her chin. "As long as Celebi's fine, then I'm fine!"

"Bi!" Celebi squeaked before hugging the girl with its good arm.

"Nene!" chirped Dedenne, its whiskers twitching with excitement.

Clemont sighed with relief. "Okay... Th-That's good..." Then, he pulled out his father's cellphone. "I gotta call Serena, tell her that you're alright, Selene!"

Elsewhere, Serena, Aria, Evelyn, and their Pokémon had pursued Adam all the way back to the Laurier Maison lobby. But by the time the girls got there, they were greeted by a massive crowd of tourists and spectators filling up the expansive room. Everywhere they looked, they could no longer see any trace of the man they were pursuing.

"Aw, great!" Serena cried angrily while stomping her foot down. "Now how are we gonna find this guy?!"

"Whoa, whoa, calm down, Serena!" Aria cried, glancing at the honey-blonde girl. "Remember, Foster said that he alerted security, so that guy couldn't have gotten that far."

"B-But we gotta catch him a-and find out where Selene is and-"

Aria seized Serena's shoulders, made the honey-blonde face her, and stared into her sapphire-blue eyes. The intensity of her ruby-red pupils stunned the other girl into silence, allowing Aria to speak.

"Serena, you need to breathe. Remember, we're not the only ones looking for Selene. Everyone else is scouring through the Maison for her. For all we know, those groups know a whole lot more than we do right now. As long as we have faith in our friends, then everything we will be alright! I promise you, we're gonna find Selene, and we're gonna get her back before the Exhibition Showcase starts up again. Do you understand me, Serena?"

Serena looked into the Kalos Queen's red eyes for a moment. Then, after taking this opportunity to calm down at Aria's suggestion, she nodded softly.

"Yeah, I understand..." she replied.

But Aria didn't seem too convinced. She continued staring into Serena's eyes and kept her grip on the other Performer's shoulders.

"Come on, Serena," she said, giving her a friendly smile. "Lemme see that smile of yours."

In response, Serena gave the Kalos Queen the most wonderful smile she could muster in a situation such as this. To her relief, it was enough to assuage Aria's concerns.

"Good!" Aria clapped her hands together in delight. "Remember, a Pokémon Performer always has to wear a wonderfully radiant smile! That's the way you make everyone in your audience happy!"

"Yeah..." Serena continued smiling. "Yeah, that's true. Thank you, Aria..."

"Of course! Don't mention it."

Little did either girl know Evelyn was still nearby. The blue-haired girl was staring at the past version of her mother with pity and regret.

Just then, the atmosphere hanging above the three girls was pierced by a familiar ringtone. Aria reached into her pocket and pulled out her cellphone. The girl's eyes widened upon seeing the number.

"It's Clemont," she announced.

"Cl-Clemont?!" Serena grabbed the phone away from Aria's hands and answered it. "H-Hello?! Clemont, it's me, Serena! Oh, please tell me you found Selene!"

"Re-Relax, Serena!" Clemont's voice replied from the other end. "It's alright, I have Selene, she's- Wha-?!"

Then, another voice spoke. "Mommy?! Mommy, it's me!"

Serena could feel her heart literally jump with joy. "Selene!"

The sound of Selene's name made Aria and Evelyn sigh with relief.

"Selene, ohhhhh, thank goodness you're alright!" Serena began pacing around worriedly. "What happened?! Where are you?! A-Are you alright?! Pl-Please tell me Parker didn't-"

"I'm alright, Mommy!" Selene interrupted with a giggle. "Celebi too! Say hi to Mommy, Celebi!"

"Bi!" Celebi's voice chirped faintly from the receiver.

Serena placed a hand over her heart in relief. "Thank goodness..."

Then, Clemont's voice spoke again. "Serena, it's just as we feared. It was Parker. Shauna, Calem, Summer, and I fought him. He's now on the run."

Serena's head perked up. "He's still out there?! Do you know where's he going?"

"I-I don't know, Serena. He said he had a, quote unquote, appointment to get to. It was very weird. Bu-But don't worry about him; the others are after him as we speak. What about Ash and Aria? Are they alright?"

Upon hearing Clemont's query, Serena's heart fell in an instant. She bit her lower lip for a moment, struggling to contain her concern, before responding.

"A-Aria's fine, Clemont, b-but..." Her hand started to gravitate towards her blue ribbon, her fingers trembling. "I-It's Ash, Clemont... S-Something bad happened to him..."

Shauna, Calem, Summer, and their Pokémon heard yet another rumbling noise. However, they didn't let that deter them; instead, they ran through another hole in the wall, and another veil of dust and smoke, only to see yet another hole right in front of them.

"He sure knows how to run when he needs to!" Summer quipped.

"Empoleon!" Calem hollered. "Use Hydro Pump again!"

Empoleon fired the attack yet again as they were still running, and the high-pressure blast of water barreled through the hole in front of them. However, they couldn't hear the attack land on its mark, and they could still hear Chesnaught using its Wood Hammer to smash open the walls in front of it. Nevertheless, the group kept running through the holes, running and running and running...

Until Shauna ran through yet another hole first and was greeted by the sight of the forest surrounding Laurier Maison.


"SHAUNA!" Calem screamed.

Being a few feet away from her, he grabbed onto her shoulder. Then, using all the strength he could exert, he pulled her back in the nick of time, just before she could run off the Laurier Maison's exterior wall and plummet down to the forest floor, dozens and dozens of stories below. In the process, however, Shauna collided into him and sent them both falling to the carpeted floor, with the tan-skinned girl on top of Calem.

"Oh, Arceus!" Summer cried, stopping in the nick of time. "Are-Are you guys alright?!"

"Uuuuugh..." Shauna lifted her head, only to realize her face was dangerously close to Calem's, their noses touching. In an instant, she scrambled off him, both of their faces blushing intensely. "Y-Yeah, w-we're fine..."

"Good..." Then, Summer stared out of the hole and saw the sprawling green wilderness below. "Aw, crud. He jumped out of the Maison to get away?"

"H-He's from the future, r-right?" Calem asked while sitting up. His cheeks were still tinged with a rosy-pink shade while he averted his gaze from Shauna. "H-He's probably got tech that cushioned his fall o-or something."

"Well then, I'll alert my contacts and inform them of the situation."

She procured her Holo Caster and walked off to initiate her call, leaving behind Calem and Shauna. The two Trainers still sat there awkwardly, looking away from one another, while their Pokémon merely smirked knowingly at them.

A/N: And that about concludes this chapter! Man, that was harder to write than I expected. I guess this is what I get for coming back to this story after three-and-a-half months of inactivity. Again, I'm really sorry about that, you guys. I hope this chapter was worth the wait! And now that this chapter has reached its conclusion, it's officially back to the Exhibition Showcase! You don't have to worry about an elongated wait either; the next chapter will be up by the end of the month! :D :D :D

(Oh, and don't worry; the next chapter will quickly wrap up the little cliffhangers we saw here.)

In other news, I've already completed the outline for my "Judgment's Fall" rewrite. For those of you who do not know or even remember what that is, "Judgment's Fall" was an epic, save-the-world AmourShipping fic that I wrote a few years back and eventually deleted out of dissatisfaction, but not before I had already posted a bunch of chapters and got a lot of good reviews on it. I have a pretty good idea on where I want the rewrite to go, and I will officially start drafting the first few chapters as soon as next week. I don't have a concrete date on when the fic's first chapter will be published on this website, but I roughly estimate it to be out by the end of the year. It'll depend on how many chapters I churn out in a month's time or so. But do expect good things! :D

Now, I'd like to thank the following for reviewing:

-FantasyLover88: Not sure if you noticed, but I removed the error that you pointed out. Thanks for being an attentive reader! I appreciate it! :D


1) I'm so glad you thought this chapter was top-tier material. :)

2) Thanks! I think I had a fun time writing Selene and Parker's conversation. I think I definitely enjoy writing scenes of little kids showing fully-grown adults their comeuppance. XD

3) Well, I can't just make Selene curse out of the blue, now can I? Especially when the past 22 chapters established that she never, ever swears. :P

4) Yeah, in hindsight, it looks like I overdid it on the stuttering part. It sounded a lot better when I visualized it.

5) Well, I only describe the moves if they're being performed for the very first time in this fic, or if they were used after a long while. I hope that was useful information for you!

6) Yeah, it looks like Aria's got a lot of exposition she needs to hear out in the next chapter. XD

7) You're welcome about the clarification on EHS.

8) Definitely. Team Rocket is such a pushover, and this fic deserves better than that. Not that they're not allowed to have their time to shine, though!

9) It's alright. Let everyone know of what to do in these trying times! :D :D :D

-kirbykid13: Definitely. Looks like Adam's being his usual diabolical self. :D

-MythGirl Writes: I'm glad you enjoy the action sequences! As you can tell, I'm a sucker for action. :P

-Amourshipper35: They will, don't you worry about that. Do you have anything else to comment about the fic? I'm still expecting more specifics from you.


1) Indeed, Selene is truly Ash's daughter, but with some of Bonnie's spunk in her as well. Quite the lovely and endearing mix, don't you think?

2) Well, I guess you just found the running gag of this fic: dense male protagonists. XD And don't worry, Bonnie will be throwing in her two cents about Shauna's little crush. Though I'm not sure what you meant with Miette...

3) We never really got deep into Shauna's opinion of Serena, especially after her loss in the Master Class Showcase, so I thought that would be a good opportunity to flesh that part of her character out. The same goes for Serena's childhood as well.

4) Well, I couldn't resist the opportunity for a grandmother-granddaughter team-up, now could I? And yes, Nate has the Bond Phenomenon as well. You'll learn more about it later on in the fic.

5) Actually, Shauna had Gothita and Swirlix the whole time; she just never used them in her Showcase competitions for whatever reason. If you watch the episode "Summer of Discovery!" and look closely at her Pokévision profile, you'll see their pictures alongside Bulbasaur's and Flabébé's. ;)

6) Oh, the two of them will start bonding soon, don't worry about it! And THEN the teasing will commence. XD

7) If you thought you've seen overkill on a bad guy, wait till we get to the final battle! I won't spoil anything too specific, but let's just say Parker and his cronies are in for the beat-down of a LIFETIME! ;D And don't worry (I keep saying that a lot, don't I?), Aria will be learning more about her future soon.

8) Thanks! I hope this chapter was well worth the wait!

-Dragon King Ryouga: Well, her meekness and sensitivity are supposed to be in-line with her personality in the games, so I'd say it's pretty accurate of her for the most part.

-Ooobserver: I am glad you got what you wanted and more with the last chapter. XD I hope this chapter satisfied all of your expectations as well!

-Jeannot2978: Don't worry, I didn't forget that part. Unless you caught an error in my writing for the last chapter, and in that case...welp, I screwed up. XP

-bankerrtx01: I don't even play "Halo", so...I don't know what you're talking about. Seriously.


1) If I can recall the XY anime, Grace never takes her Rhyhorn out for excursions nowadays, just her Fletchling. Plus she didn't think she'd need Rhyhorn for this exact moment.

2) Yeah, me neither. I like to switch things around whenever I tackle a familiar, done-to-death premise, and I thought I'd subvert the whole Red-Ash connection here. Plus, the Red incarnation in my story is based on the one from the Pokémon Origins miniseries, whose hair is a similar shade to Serena's. So, I thought it was an excuse to write that kind of familial connection. Sorry, though; you won't be seeing Red in this fic. But in a follow-up? Who knows? ;)

3) Don't worry, Pikachu will have time to shine in this fic. But as this is a shipping fic, the focus of the story will be away from Pikachu at many points.

-Guest reviewer: Yeah, very ironic, isn't it? XD XD XD


1) Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much! :D

2) It's so surprising that you think Ash, Serena, and the others are well in-character even if I haven't seen the XY anime in over a year! XD

3) I enjoy a slow build in shipping fics. I really hate it when a shipping fic starts the coupling off in your face, even if the characters have yet to reciprocate each other's feelings.

4) Thank you so much for your patience and understanding! Consider this chapter a gift for all of the waiting you had to endure. :)

Well, hope you enjoyed this chapter! TheCartoonFanatic01 is out. PEACE!

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