CW: There will be blood in the battles involving Garchomp.

The leek-and-shield-wielding duck emerged onto the field, quacking to announce his presence.

"Are you ready to fight, Sirfetch'd?" Ash asked.

Sirfetch'd looked back at Ash and nodded. He swiped the air with his leek a few times to warm himself up. Afterward, he settled into a poised stance.

"Alright!" Ash balled his hands into fists. "Use Fury Cutter!"

"Milotic, Hydro Pump!" Cynthia ordered.

Sirfetch'd dashed in, his leek glowing with a lime sheen. Milotic reared her head back, gathering water in her mouth. Thrusting her head forward, a blast of water gushed out. Sirfetch'd jumped over it and swung his leek downward, bonking her on the head. She winced as her outpouring of water was cut short. Sirfetch'd bounced back and came back in with a thrust of his leek. However, Milotic shifted her body out of the way, making him whiff. She tried to bash him with her tail, but he brought his shield up to block. Her strike sent him sliding backward a few paces, relatively unharmed.

Cynthia frowned. "Disarming Voice!"

Ash growled. Can't block that with a shield. However… "Interrupt it! Brutal Swing your shield!"

Sirfetch'd spun, and a dark-red glow covered his shield before he released it. It sailed across the air, whacking Milotic across her cheek. Her head jerked to the side, and the Fairy energy she was gathering dissipated. Sirfetch'd took the opening and closed the distance, catching his shield as it flew back to him. Green light enveloped his leek, and he unleashed a flurry of jabs all over Milotic's body, finishing his combo with a horizontal swipe that knocked her onto her back. The dull pain across her body made her grimace as she picked herself up.

Cynthia smiled, humming.

Ash frowned. What could she be smiling for? Did she think of something to counter us? "Be ready for anything, Sirfetch'd!"

Sirfetch'd gave a cry and entered a defensive stance.

Cynthia shoved her arm forward. "Milotic, Hydro Pump!"

Milotic fired a water jet at Sirfetch'd, who raised his shield to block. The attack slammed into it, making his feet skid on the ground. Grunting, Sirfetch'd planted them and held his ground.

"It's just as I thought. You rely too much on your shield," Cynthia said.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

She only smirked in reply. "Milotic, use your Mystic Water!"

Milotic focused on the pendant wrapped around her neck. It responded to her call and gave her strength. Her head jerked back as her Hydro Pump suddenly exploded with vigour and overpowered Sirfetch'd's defences like a door on rusty hinges. His shield flew out of his grip skyward while he was blasted backward.

Ash gasped. Oh no!

Cynthia pointed at the duck. "Hit him while he's defenseless! Disarming Voice!"

Ash recovered from his stupor. "Defenseless? Sirfetch'd still has tricks up his sleeves!" He motioned his arms as he ordered, "Use Detect!"

As he picked himself up, water drizzling from his wet plumage, Sirfetch'd's eyes twinkled briefly, and a flash of insight filled his mind. Following it, he jumped, jammed his leek into the ground, and bent it down using his body's weight. The leek snapped back; Sirfetch'd sprung into the air, evading Milotic's incoming attack as he sailed toward his airborne shield, which he snatched up.

"Using Detect was smart move," Cynthia said with a firm glare, "but now you're a sitting duck! Hydro Pump!"

Ash cussed under his breath as Milotic fired a normal-sized gush of water at Sirfetch'd. He's stuck in midair, so using his shield would be pointless without any ground to anchor himself with. Plus, another Detect right now would be too risky to try. His hands tightened into fists. I don't think there's anything I can do!

A cry from below interrupted his frantic train of thought. Ash looked down to his left. "Pikachu…?"

Pikachu was miming a motion to him. It made Ash think of a…surfer, perhaps?

He gasped. "That's it!" A grin spread across his face. "Thanks, Pikachu!"

The electric rodent gave him a thumbs-up and a few cries.

Ash turned his attention back to the field. "Sirfetch'd! Use your shield and surf on top of that Hydro Pump!"

Sirfetch'd silently acknowledged the command, narrowing his eyes as he waited for Milotic's attack to get closer. At the correct moment, he flapped his wings to gain a smidgen of height and put his shield under his feet. He fell on top of it and started cruising down the stream of water.

Cynthia's eyes widened in shock. "What‽"

Ash smirked. "Get your leek and finish this with Meteor Assault!"

As he surfed down, Sirfetch'd approached his planted weapon. He grabbed it as he passed by and pointed it forward. He steadied himself as he gathered energy. Golden sparks flashed across his body before flourishing into a golden aura moments later. He gave a battle cry as he thrust his leek forward and turned into a speeding bullet. Milotic could only watch with wide eyes as her impending doom approached.

WHAM! Sirfetch'd slammed into her, generating an explosion that shrouded her in smoke. Sirfetch'd's remaining momentum had him sliding on the ground past her. Once he came to a stop, his stance relaxed, and he stepped off his shield so he could retrieve it.

Meanwhile, the smoke settled, and the referee came over to inspect the unconscious form of Milotic. He raised his arm in the air. "Milotic is unable to battle!"

The crowd erupted into cheers.

Ash cheered. "All right!" With that knockout, the battle was back to an even playing field. Only Togekiss and Garchomp remained on Cynthia's side, while Sirfetch'd and Lucario remained on Ash's.

Cynthia recalled Milotic to her pokéball and turned it around, smiling tenderly. "Leave the rest to us. You can have a nice rest." She stashed the pokéball, then turned her attention to Ash. "What can I say that I haven't already? You never cease to amaze me, Ash Ketchum. This is the most fun I've had in quite some time!"

Ash beamed. "I could say the same thing! I've never had to push myself so hard to come up with new strategies! It's so exhilarating it makes me want to keep this battle going forever!"

Cynthia nodded, closing her eyes. "However, only one of us may face Leon in the finals." She grabbed a pokéball from her belt, shooting Ash a resolute look. "I'm sorry to say it, but you will fall!

"I call on you again, Garchomp!" she proclaimed, throwing the ball.

It opened, releasing her ace pokémon in a bright flash of light. Garchomp roared into the heavens. Afterward, she got into a battle stance, settling her cold stare on Sirfetch'd, who shifted himself in anticipation. The aura Garchomp exuded… This opponent would be no trivial matter.

Garchomp? Not Togekiss? Even though she'd have the type advantage? Ash hummed. Then again, she could always use Wish to heal Garchomp… Ash balled his hands into fists. Whatever. This is our best chance to try and take her out, so I won't let this opportunity slide! "Let's move, Sirfetch'd! Fury Cutter!"

Sirfetch'd cried out and rushed in, his leek poised and glowing with Bug energy. He lashed out with numerous, rapid strikes, forcing Garchomp to backpedal as she tried her best to dodge and block his strikes. She snorted as she felt herself racking up hits. Even if her scales protected her from the brunt of the damage, his strikes still left an unpleasant sting in their wake.

But she had to bide her time. Once her Dragon Claw came back to her, the scales would tip in her favour.

Sirfetch'd's leek whacked against her side, making her grunt in pain. Her stance wavered, but she didn't let that stop her. She wrapped her arm around it, wedging the weapon securely under her armpit. Sirfetch'd quacked in surprise and tried to pull it back, to no avail.

She flashed Sirfetch'd a wicked grin. Thankfully, she had other moves in her arsenal to make use of. She opened her maw, forming a growing ball of fire in front of it. Sirfetch'd's eyes widened. He let go of his leek and jumped back before Garchomp released her Fire Blast. It struck the ground where he previously stood, the flames scattering about and petering out.

Garchomp let the leek fall to her feet and used one of them to swipe it behind her. She sneered as Sirfetch'd glared at her with clenched teeth. He wanted his weapon back? Sure thing. Garchomp got into a fighting stance. He just had to get through her first.

Ash growled. Without his leek, Sirfetch'd can't fight back. After considering his options, he opted to grab Sirfetch'd's pokéball. I guess I've got no choice… "Sirfetch'd, Return!" A red light sucked him back into its pokéball, which Ash turned around. "Don't worry, we'll get your leek back; you can have a proper fight then." He switched to his only other pokéball. "Lucario, I choose you!"

The Fighting-Steel pokémon materialized in a bright flash of light, uttering a cry.

"Listen, Lucario, we have to focus on getting Sirfetch'd's leek back, alright?"

Lucario nodded and shifted himself into a battle stance. He eyed Sirfetch'd's weapon behind Garchomp, then settled his gaze on her. Despite being covered in light scrapes, she didn't seem fazed at all — She even snarled at him!

"Let's go! Double Team!"

"Fall back, Garchomp! Cover the leek!"

Lucario ran forward, conjuring illusionary copies of himself. Garchomp backpedalled until she stood above Sirfetch'd's leek. Her narrowed eyes darted about, keeping track of the numerous lucarios running circles around her.

"Aura Sphere!"

All the lucarios came to a stop. Moving in unison, they brought their paws to their sides, forming balls of aura between them.

"It won't be so easy! Garchomp, grab the leek and escape with Dig!"

Garchomp stamped the ground. The leek flew into the air, and she snatched it between her jaws before diving and burrowing underground.

With no enemy present on the field, Lucario dispelled his clones, then turned his head toward Ash, awaiting his next order.

His trainer smirked. "You can cancel your Aura Sphere and wait for Garchomp to come out."

He nodded and dispelled his attack. He stood by, muscles taut and ready to spring into action.

Cynthia shot Ash a puzzled look. "What's got you feeling so confident?"

Ash chuckled. "Let's just say Gengar did more than disable one of Garchomp's moves."

Before she could ask him to elaborate, the ground glowed bright pink before exploding. Garchomp roared in pain as she was forcefully ejected from the ground. The leek escaped her maw and idly twirled in the air.

Lucario leapt and grabbed it. Smirking, he kicked Garchomp downward, just for good measure. She thudded against the ground and grunted in pain. Fighting through the pain that numbed her body, she picked herself up, breathing heavily. A growl permeated her throat. What… What had just happened? When had this trap been set up? How‽

Meanwhile, Lucario landed in front of Ash, barking victoriously as he displayed Sirfetch'd's leek like a trophy.

Ash grinned. "Great job, Lucario! Let's tell him the good news!"

Lucario nodded and tossed the leek into the sky.

"Lucario, return!" Ash switched his pokéballs. "Sirfetch'd! Get your leek back!"

Sirfetch'd materialized in a flash of light and caught his leek as it fell from the sky. He gave it a few test swings, then nodded at Ash.

Cynthia was in shock at what happened. "What just happened‽"

Ash smiled cheekily. "That was Gengar's Dazzling Mines! We set it up during the sandstorm. It was supposed to help with Ghost-on-Ghost matchups, but it works against Dig users as well, I guess."

"So, what I thought was a wasted move was actually a set-up for a future play…" She smiled. "Marvellous. Simply marvellous."

"Now, we can pick up where we left off!" Ash motioned with his arms. "Sirfetch'd, use Fury Cutter!"

Sirfetch'd ran forward, bracing his glowing leek for a series of strikes.

"I'm sure you realize it won't go the same way it did before," Cynthia said, shaking her head. "Garchomp, Dragon Claw."

Garchomp braced her arms in front of her. Green energy burst to life around her claws, forming a pair of ethereal blades. Grunting, she swung one of them, parrying Sirfetch'd's incoming swipe.

Ash gasped. "That much time passed already‽" Was that her plan all along?

"I'm afraid so. Push him back, Garchomp!"

Grachomp shoved Sirfetch'd's leek away. He stumbled backward, leaving him wide open for an attack. However, Garchomp didn't capitalize on the opportunity. She let him recover, then taunted him with a claw to come get her. He gritted his teeth and rushed in with a battle cry.

A clash of blades ensued. Sirfetch'd swiped every which way with his leek, but Garchomp expertly parried each blow that came at her. Whenever his offence opened a gap, she exploited it with a counterattack, forcing Sirfetch'd to defend with his shield. The tides of the clash gradually changed as Garchomp kept increasing the pressure she put on Sirfetch'd, forcing him back further and further. Their earlier clash? It was a farce. This was her true might, and it was about time she educated the duckling on it!

Ash gulped. She's attacking so ferociously! Without showing any signs of slowing down! Can anything stop her at all‽ But this was not the time for such musings — He had pokémon to command!"Sirfetch'd! Use Detect!"

Sirfetch'd's eyes shone briefly, clearing his mind of all distracting thoughts. His body moved on its own at blurring speed, weaving around Garchomp so he was facing her back. She whipped her head back to glare at him, and Sirfetch'd shot her a cocky grin in return. She wouldn't have time to dodge this strike. That he was sure of. He thrust his leek forward, aiming for her spine.

But Garchomp was not out of options.

Thwack! Her tail lashed out and knocked Sirfetch'd's leek away. His eyes widened in shock. With his balance out of whack, he had no time to react to Garchomp as she whirled around and slammed a roundhouse kick into his gut. He coughed out a wheeze. Garchomp followed through with her kick, sending him flying, rolling, and tumbling on the ground.

Cynthia balled her hand into a fist. "Fire Blast!"

Ash gasped. "Sirfetch'd, get out of there!"

Sirfetch'd staggered back up, using his leek to support himself. He noticed the incoming Fire Blast sailing toward him and tried to move, but the pain was too much. The only thing he could do was put his shield up as cover and shut his eyes tight.

The Fire Blast engulfed Sirfetch'd, exploding in a roaring fit of embers. His agonized cries pierced through the air like a hot knife through butter.

Ash screamed Sirfetch'd's name in worry. He clenched his fists, dismay ever present on his face.

Gradually, the flames died out.

The smell of burnt plumage invaded his nostrils; only the area his shield had protected appeared more pristine than the rest of his body, though it didn't mean much. His lungs released one laborious pant after the other, focusing on bringing much-needed oxygen to his system. His stomach lurched, causing him to explode into a fit of coughing, which sprinkled drops of blood onto the ground.

Although battered, Sirfetch'd was still standing. He set his shield on the ground to support himself and pointed his leek defiantly — though he couldn't stop it from shaking — at Garchomp. For as long as he stayed conscious, he would keep fighting.

Ash's expression softened. Sirfetch'd… You don't want to go out without having given it your all, huh? He nodded, his expression turning resolute. "Right! Show them what you're made out of!" He punched the sky. "Meteor Assault!"

"Crush their hope, Garchomp!" Cynthia shoved her arm skyward. "Draco Meteor!"

Golden sparks ran across Sirfetch'd's burnt plumage as he charged his ultimate attack. Meanwhile, a purple aura surged around Garchomp as she craned her neck toward the sky, forming a ball of energy above her open maw.

Just as Garchomp fired her Draco Meteor into the sky, Sirfetch'd rushed forward, clad in a golden aura. A shower of meteors rained down upon him, and each one that struck him shattered against his projected aura. He scowled as he felt his balance waver. Sirfetch'd didn't have much oomph left to give — This was his final opportunity, and he would make sure not to waste it!

He yelled defiantly, and his speed quintupled.

Garchomp saw the speeding bullet approach with widened eyes. She gnashed her fangs. With practically no time to react, she cocked her arm back and swung her claw.

They collided, a cloud of smoke enshrouding them.




The smoke started to clear. The two combatants were across one another, standing with their backs turned to each other. Blood trickled from the puncture wound on Garchomp's chest, adding a new tint of colour to her orange-red scales. Similarly, crimson liquid oozed out of the gash on Sirfetch'd's chest, staining his plumage.

Still, neither of them moved, not even a nanometre.

Ash gulped as he held his breath. Did you manage it, Sirfetch'd?

Cynthia observed the battlefield with a cold stare.

The stalemate became unbearable, seconds ticking by endlessly, yet the two pokémon remained frozen in time.

Then, Garchomp started to stumble forward.

However, she caught herself, supporting her weight on her wobbly legs. She bit back a wince. Her, stumble? Impossible. That word wasn't even in her vocabulary!

And yet…

She spared a glance behind her, where the referee was inspecting Sirfetch'd. He raised his arm, announcing, "Sirfetch'd is unable to battle!"

Hmph. Garchomp may have won this battle, but she had to admit Sirfetch'd had been a worthy opponent. She nodded internally, trying not to wince from the stinging pain in her chest. Yes, he was worthy of her respect.

With a sad look on his face, Ash returned Sirfetch'd to his pokéball. "You were awesome. Take a good rest and leave rest to Lucario and me."

He stashed his pokéball and turned his attention to the field, seeing how Cynthia recalled Garchomp. This is it. One pokémon left for me. Two pokémon left for Cynthia. If there's anything I need to prevent, it's Togekiss using Wish to heal Garchomp. That's the worst-case scenario.

He turned his cap backward before grabbing his final pokéball. "Let's do it, Lucario!"

The Fighting-Steel pokémon materialized onto the field and uttered a cry.

Cynthia had her next pokéball in hand. "Sirfetch'd fought bravely. Let's see if your lucario carries the same conviction!

"Dazzle your opponents, Togekiss!"

Togekiss unfurled her wings as she emerged from her pokéball. She executed a few graceful twirls before settling in front of Lucario. He entered a fighting stance as he sized her up. She looked injured, so he surmised this wouldn't be a difficult fight. Unless she had tricks up her sleeve.

"Here goes!" Ash punched forward with his fists. "Bullet Punch!"

"Dodge and use Wish!"

Lucario dashed in, gray energy encompassing his fists. He leapt, one fist cocked back and ready to strike. Togekiss swerved around him and escaped higher into the sky. She joined her wings together and began to glow. However, streaks of lightning flashed across her form, locking her in place.

"Aura Sphere!"

Aura pooled around Lucario's paw, coalescing into a swirling ball of energy. He hurled it. It sailed through the air and struck Togekiss. The detonation knocked her through the air, but she recovered from the not-very-effective attack swiftly.

Ash gulped. We got lucky there. And I don't want to know what would happen if she got another opportunity.

"Air Slash!"

"Double Team!"

White light covered Togekiss' wings, and she fired a slew of wind blades at Lucario. His form blurred as he created illusionary copies of himself, covering the battlefield with them. Togekiss considered what to do before she decided to simply aim at all of them. Her Air Slashes cut through the illusions, dispelling them before impacting with the ground. She kept up her assault, eliminating more copies and generating more dust.

Before long, dust covered the whole battlefield, making her pause to gauge if she had hit him.

Unbeknownst to her, Lucario had used the commotion to slink away toward her blindside. He jumped onto her back, paws lighting up with Steel energy. Roaring, Lucario mercilessly pummelled Togekiss, his fists blurring with each strike he delivered onto her back. Togekiss cried out in agony as they started plummeting.

The impact on the ground created a shroud of dust, which Lucario jumped away from, backflipping before he slid to a stop. Once the dust dispelled, he could take notice of Togekiss' injuries. She was worse for wear, laboriously breathing as she struggled to pick herself up.

Cynthia frowned. "Togekiss, use Sky Attack!"

Togekiss perched on the ground, although she was unsteady. A blue aura flared up around her as she started charging her attack.

Going for a move she's confident won't miss, huh? "Alright, Lucario, let's charge our ultimate move too!"

Lucario nodded. Moving in tandem, they both put their arms to the sky. They closed their eyes, syncing their heartbeats as trainer and pokémon momentarily becoming one. A small Aura Sphere formed above Lucario, which he fueled with more and more aura. It grew in size and hummed with increasing intensity.

For a few seconds, it was calm as both parties charged their attacks.

However, Togekiss finished charging first. And she bolted forward like a missile, leaving a flaming trail behind her.

Lucario didn't flinch as the sound of hissing wind reached his ears. His focus was squared on gathering energy. He had no time to be bothered by Togekiss' antics. Even as the impact became all but imminent, he was unmoving, brow ever furrowed in concentration.

He only needed a bit more… Just a bit more... There!

Both Ash's and his eyes snapped open.

"Alright! Absorb the G-Max Aura Sphere, Lucario!"

Lucario grunted in acknowledgement. He focused on the gigantic Aura Sphere above his head, and it stretched downward as it seeped into him. His muscles bulged and tensed from the stress they were burdened with, and his aura surged to life, blazing brighter as he continued to absorb energy.

Moments after he finished absorbing its contents, WHAM! Togekiss slammed into him.

However, Lucario was unmoving; his aura had cushioned the blow, leaving him unharmed.

Shock covered Togekiss' features. Lucario gave her a chilling glare, then smirked. He tensed his arms at his sides, roaring. His aura exploded and shoved her away.

Lucario sprung toward Togekiss and tackled her. She went rolling on the ground, and he rushed past her, intercepting her with a kick that sent her flying in the opposite direction. Once again, he moved like a blur past Togekiss, then kicked her — skyward, this time.

He tensed his paw's digits, a rumbling growl permeating his throat as he channelled all his pent-up energy into them. Blue energy swirled around his paw. He thrust it up at Togekiss and roared as a dark-blue beam of aura fired outward.

As she sailed through the air, Togekiss knew the end was coming. There was only one thing she could do. She joined her wings together, praying for this parting gift to aid her remaining teammate in attaining victory.

Lucario's attack engulfed her right after. She cried out in agony, but her wails were drowned out. A few seconds later, an explosion sounded. Togekiss fell from the sky and crashed into the ground, smoking.

The referee came over to inspect her, although the verdict was obvious. "Togekiss is unable to battle!"

The crowd released a chorus of cheers and whistles.

"Return, Togekiss," Cynthia said, recalling the fainted pokémon to her pokéball.

Lucario fell to one knee, panting as he caught his breath. His muscles throbbed dully from the exertion they went through.

"Lucario, are you okay?" Ash asked, visibly concerned for his well-being. When he recovered and gave him a reassuring nod, Ash breathed a sigh of relief. That's great to hear. If I'd pushed too hard with it, we would've had trouble dealing with our final opponent. He shot a frown skyward. Speaking of which, we couldn't prevent Togekiss from using Wish, so we're not out of the woods yet. The real battle begins now.

"I must thank you, Ash."

He looked down, wearing a confused expression. "Huh?"

Cynthia was smiling at him. "For this opportunity you've given me. This battle has been unforgettable, with twists and turns I could have never predicted. Truth is, I've been getting quite bored of pokémon battles, as of late."

Ash recoiled in shock. "Wha—‽ How come‽"

"I'm afraid that when you're as strong as me, it's difficult to find a suitable challenge. I've been considering stepping down from my position as champion until the World Coronation Series was announced. Finally, a golden opportunity for me had presented itself to me! On this grandiose battlefield, I planned to challenge the mightiest opponents from around the world. But never in my life would I have imagined that the young trainer from long ago would be my match."

Cynthia brandished her final pokéball. "Ash Ketchum! Let us give this battle the glorious finale it deserves!

"Prepare for a final dance, Garchomp!"

In a flash of light, Garchomp emerged from her pokéball and stomped onto the field. She gave a half-roar before she started to pant. With the adrenaline having faded away, she felt how sore her muscles were, and the injury on her chest throbbed dully. Perhaps she had pushed herself a bit too far against Sirfetch'd.

Glancing up, she noticed a white glow descend from the heavens. An eager grin spread across Garchomp's face. The light washed over her, healing her chest injury and banishing the soreness from her muscles.

Once the glow faded from her body, she roared once more. It reverberated throughout the stadium. She entered a battle-ready pose, smirking. Now that was more like it.

Lucario mirrored her stance. Garchomp still held minor scrapes on her form, but he knew better than to underestimate her.

Ash and Cynthia exchanged glares.

Slowly, the former grinned while the latter smirked.

Ash showed off his mega-glove. "Are you ready to show 'em our super full power, Lucario‽"

Lucario roared in approval. Yes, now was the time to let his aura explode!

Cynthia took out her lipstick. "Let's not hold back for this. What say you, Garchomp?"

Garchomp roared in approval. A bombastic finish was just her style!

"Well then…" The two trainers activated their Key Stones. A dazzling sheen overcame them, golden tendrils of light spilling out every which way. "Mega-evolve!"

Two Mega Stones, a Lucarionite and a Garchompite, descended from the sky. They stopped in front of their respective pokémon, glowing just as bright and producing blue tendrils of light. As the Key Stones' and Mega Stones' tendrils intertwined, Garchomp and Lucario gave elongated cries as multicoloured light enveloped them.

Garchomp's body morphed to become more angular, and the fins on her arms morphed into red scythes. Finally, tooth-like spikes sprouted across her legs, her chest, and the back of her arms.

The spikes on Lucario's paws elongated, and so did his aura-sensing appendages and cream-coloured fur. Moreover, two pairs of spikes grew on each of his feet.

The two pokémon dispelled the rainbow light around them with a flourish, revealing their mega-evolved forms. They glared at each other, awaiting orders from their respective trainer to turn the battlefield into an eruption of action.

Cynthia shoved her arm skyward. "Rise, Garchomp! Draco Meteor!"

Garchomp took flight and soared into the sky. She fired a purple ball of energy above her, which fragmented and unleashed a downpour of meteors onto the battlefield.

Ash swiped his arm to the side. "Jump on the rocks, Lucario!"

Lucario bent his knees and leapt, leaving a crater in his wake. He landed on a nearby meteor and jumped off of it. He kept this up, leaping from rock to rock to gain more height.

"Fire Blast!"

Garchomp gathered fire in her throat and analyzed Lucario's acrobatics with narrowed eyes. She waited for the perfect moment — when Lucario was about to land — to release her Fire Blast. Lucario landed, and his eyes widened in surprise at the incoming attack.

"Use your footing to shield yourself!"

Lucario's expression hardened. Setting a paw on the rock, he swung himself to its underside and leapt from it, effectively kicking the rock into Garchomp's Fire Blast while he landed on a nearby meteor. The collision between the two projectiles created an explosion alongside a cloud of smoke.

"Use Double Team!"

Lucario generated a slew of illusionary copies, and they all began jumping around frantically. Once the smoke cleared, Garchomp's eyes swivelled about, snarling as she tried to locate the real Lucario. Amidst the commotion, she missed how he lunged at her, spinning laterally.

Lucario lashed out with his foot, kicking Garchomp square in the snout. She reeled from the blow, shutting her eyes in a wince. A moment later, a vicious snarl replaced it. She righted herself and smashed her forehead into his. Lucario grunted in pain as he fell toward the ground. Garchomp flew after him and kicked him in the chest, propelling him faster toward the ground. Lucario's back slammed into it, eliciting a pained yelp from him.

His vision took a few moments to recover. Once it did, he gasped and rolled to the side as Garchomp's scythes slammed into the ground where he had been moments prior. Lucario cringed. Being skewered was not on the list of things he wanted to happen to him.

Garchomp strained to yank her scythes out of the ground, but they were firmly stuck. Lucario used the opportunity to fire an Aura Sphere, which detonated in her face. The explosion sent her flying back as she grunted in pain. Garchomp righted herself and jammed her scythes into the ground. She soon slid to a stop, shooting Lucario a harsh glare.

"Dragon Claw!"

"Bullet Punch!"

The two pokémon rushed at each other with their respective attacks, roaring out battle cries. Garchomp swung her scythes first, but Lucario dodged them and countered with a punch to her cheek. She staggered back, so he followed up by repeatedly slamming his fists into her gut. Garchomp fought off the bile building up in her throat as each of Lucario's hits made her insides churn. Snarling, she threw out her knee, catching Lucario on the snout and forcing him to back off. While he stumbled back, she swiped her tail across the ground, and Lucario found himself weightless. Afterward…

WHAM! Her foot slammed into his stomach, forcing a wheeze out of him.

Smirking, Garchomp followed through with her kick, sending Lucario flying skyward before launching a Fire Blast at him. Lucario gritted his teeth, recovered, and brought his paws to his side, pooling his aura into a blue ball of energy. He fired his Aura Sphere, which collided with Garchomp's Fire Blast and exploded into a dazzling display of embers and blue sparkles.

Lucario dropped to the ground and dashed in with his Bullet Punch ignited. Garchomp stood by with her Dragon Claws at the ready. She swung them when he got close, but Lucario caught them in his paws. The two exchanged vicious snarls as they pushed against each other. The force they put into it made Lucario's aura burst out of him. The ground began to shake and crack, sending rubble into the air around them.

Their trainers gave them a single order.


Lucario and Garchomp released each other. And they went ham. Punching, kicking, hacking, and slashing, they became a whirlwind of limbs, lashing out at breakneck speed to try and break through each other's guards. They blocked, dodged, and weaved around each other, their frenzied dance only rising in intensity. Time and time again, paw clashed against scythe, knee against knee, tail against tail. The two fighters went at it, racking up stray hit after stray hit.

Their mighty clash reached its crescendo when Lucario exploited an opening to barrage Garchomp's face with a series of rapid-fire jabs. Garchomp was quick to not let the damage pile up. She crossed her scythes in front of her face, letting his paw strike that instead. She then shoved the paw away and swung her scythe diagonally upward.


Blood spattered onto the ground.

Lucario stumbled back as he howled in pain, bringing his other arm to his wounded shoulder.

"Lucario!" Ash cried in worry.

"Now, Garchomp, Fire Blast!"

Grinning wickedly, Garchomp rotated and slammed her tail into Lucario's gut, just for good measure. He tumbled away, and she sent a Fire Blast his way. The flames engulfed Lucario, eliciting a pained yowl out of him.

Ash was sweating. His hopes of winning were coming crashing down. We can't lose now, not when we're so close!

The fire died down after what felt like an eternity. Propped up on his good arm, Lucario was on his knees, panting. His bleeding shoulder throbbed with pain, and the smell of burnt fur permeated the air.

Soft thumping reached his ears. Lucario looked up, seeing Garchomp walking toward him with a scornful look. Eyes widening, he sucked a sharp breath through his teeth and tried to stagger back up.

Garchomp never gave him the chance, delivering a sharp kick to his face. With a pained grunt, he tumbled away, his vision turning into stars.

"It's over, Ash Ketchum," Cynthia said, eyes closed. "Garchomp, finish him with Dragon Claw!" Her eyes opened as she gave the order.

Ash clenched his fists. No, it's not over yet! We still have one last trick up our sleeve!

"Lucario, do it now! Use Reversal!"

Cynthia gasped, eyes widening.

Garchomp raised her glowing scythe in the air, ready to give the finishing blow. Meanwhile, face down in the dirt, Lucario focused. Throughout this battle, he had felt pain. Before that, he had tasted victory in defeating Togekiss. But the emotion that burned the brightest within him was determination, for he had vowed to give it his all in this battle before it began. And as long as he was still conscious, he would persevere!

Fueled by his emotions, Lucario's aura flowed through his good arm. The blood, sweat, and tears he put into this battle coalesced into a focal point: his paw. A blazing burst of orange energy wrapped around it, and Lucario gritted his teeth. It was time to finish this.

In a fluid motion, he reared up to his knees, cocked his fist back, and threw it out.


It slammed into Garchomp's gut, and an orange shockwave of energy passed through her. She coughed up blood, eyes wide and dumbfounded.

Roaring, Lucario stood up and jerked his arm upward, propelling Garchomp into the sky. Moments later, she plummeted back down, her back hitting the ground with a resounding thud.

Lucario fell to his knees, panting. An eerie silence overtook the battlefield as everyone waited to see if Garchomp would stand up after taking such an attack.




An orange flash of light encompassed Garchomp, dispelling her mega-evolved form. The referee came over to inspect her condition. He raised his arm in the air, proclaiming,

"Garchomp is unable to battle! As such, the winner is Ash Ketchum!"

The crowd erupted into a storm of ecstatic cheers and whistles.

Ash was speechless. He didn't know what to think. In fact, he had to slap his cheeks to make sure he wasn't dreaming.

Did we…really do it? Did we actually defeat Cynthia?

It was only when he looked down at Pikachu, who was jumping up and down, crying out in joy, that the realization dawned on him.

A smile tugged at his lips, which evolved into a grin.

He sprinted into the battlefield and tackled Lucario into a hug, being mindful of his injury. And his chest spike. "Alright, Lucario, we did it! We won!"

Lucario, who had transformed back into his base form, returned the hug with an affirming cry.

"Ash Ketchum."

Ash broke off from the hug to address Cynthia. He gulped when he noticed the glare she was giving him.


To his relief, she smiled, extending a hand toward him. "Thank you for this marvelous battle. I shall not soon forget it."

Ash accepted the handshake, grinning. "The pleasure's all mine. I feel the same way."

She nodded. "I give you my vote of confidence. Fight Leon and topple him. For both our sakes."

Somehow, Ash's grin spread wider. "You got it!"

Meanwhile, Lucario walked over to Garchomp. She groaned as she came to and noticed Lucario crouching to her level. She shot him a puzzled look, wondering what he wanted with her.

Lucario extended his good paw toward her, smiling. He told her she was really strong and that he'd love to fight her again sometime.

Garchomp blinked, giving him a blank stare as she processed what he had said. Then, she gave a weak smirk. Hmph. She extended her claw toward him. He grabbed it, and they shook hands. She agreed to her terms, assuring him that the next time they clashed, she would be victorious over him.

There you have it. My complete take on Ash vs. Cynthia. I sincerely hope it was to your liking.

This chapter marks the beginning of the end, for only one battle remains. Ash vs. Leon will be 3 or 4 chapters long; I haven't hashed out all the details yet. I'll also be working on an interlude chapter alongside part 1 of their battle. It won't be anything too crazy; just the calm before the storm. ;)

In the meantime, consider leaving a review and favouriting/following the story. Thanks for reading the chapter, and I'll see you all around late October/early November. Bye!

Ash's Team:

Dragonite (F)

Ability: Inner Focus

- Dragon Claw
- Draco Meteor
- Dragon Dance
- Hurricane

Gengar (M)

Ability: Cursed Body

Item: Focus Band

- Shadow Ball
- Will-O-Wisp
- Dazzling Gleam
- Sludge Bomb

Pikachu (M)

Ability: Static

Item: Air Balloon

- Quick Attack
- Thunderbolt
- Electroweb
- Iron Tail

Dracovish (M)

Ability: Strong Jaw

- Fishious Rend
- Hydro Pump
- Ice Fang
- Dragon Rush

Cynthia's Team:

Milotic (F)

Ability: Marvel Scale

Item: Mystic Water

- Hydro Pump
- Iron Head
- Disarming Voice
- Coil

Spiritomb (N/A)

Ability: Pressure

- Sucker Punch
- Destiny Bond
- Hypnosis
- Dream Eater

Roserade (M)

Ability: Natural Cure

- Leaf Storm
- Petal Blizzard
- Poison Jab
- Giga Drain

Togekiss (F)

Ability: Serene Grace

- Air Slash
- Sky Attack
- Zen Headbutt
- Wish

Gastrodon (F)

Ability: Sand Force

Item: Rocky Helmet

- Sandstorm
- Earth Power
- Stone Edge
- Curse

Garchomp (F)

Ability: Sand Veil

Item: Garchompite

- Dragon Claw
- Dig
- Draco Meteor
- Fire Blast