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Burning Deadfall (Advanceshipping) Rated R

Discussion in 'Shipping Fics' started by Eon Master, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. Eon Master

    Eon Master Born from the Flames

    Hello all. Those of you who have been around for more than three years may recognize me as the author of Opal's Shadow: Vessels of the Legends, an Advance/Ikari fic that was posted in August of 2009 and was discontinued in mid-2010. As beloved as it was by this section and on FF.net (it got recommended for several shipping awards), I really hated it. There were so many problems, not the least of which being the lack of proper characterization and the complete mangling of several plot points I wanted to use, as well as having and trying to focus on way too many characters. I toyed off and on with rewriting it, posting a tentative prologue of one called "Tainted Redemption" in July of 2011, which was quickly discontinued. I left fanfiction for a while (though the occasional oneshot came out) to focus on my original writing. After penning my way through most of my first fantasy novel, I feel comfortable enough with this to retool the concepts and create a "new" Opal's Shadow. And thus, Burning Deadfall was born.

    If you want to receive updates, then please let me know in your review and I will add you to the PM list.

    Rating: R
    Rated For: Violence, Language, gore, psychological problems, drug and alcohol use/abuse, dark themes, and character death.

    PM List:


    In death, I recede, alone and friendless,

    Attempting a task that often seems endless.

    I gave up my friends, my life, and my name,

    All as a buy-in for this treacherous game.

    People’s lives as the stakes, with bets paid in blood,

    Gambling and losing brings a sick crimson flood.

    In trying to protect them; my one and only desire,

    I find the body count growing; higher and higher.

    No more will I run; I can no longer hide.

    The guilt will just drive me right back to their side.

    Now, hardened by loss and scarred by pain,

    I return from the ashes, a phoenix in flame.

    ‘Returned from the ashes is right,’ the man thought, closing the leather-bound journal before returning it to the laptop bag under his seat. ‘Nearly everyone I knew thinks that I’m dead.’

    He tugged at his shirt collar, trying to get it to loosen up around his neck. After a few tugs to no avail, the man sighed and gave it up as a bad job. He leaned back into the first-class seat of the aircraft, wondering how close they were to his destination.

    “All passengers, this is your captain speaking. We are approaching Rustboro International Airport. Please fasten your seatbelts and turn off all electronic devices. Thank you for your cooperation.”

    He chuckled quietly. ‘Well, that answers that.’

    He leaned against the window, catching a flash of his face in the reflection. “This time…” he whispered. “This time, I’ll protect you all. I promise.”


    She really couldn’t stand contests anymore. Not since that day.

    When she’d first heard about his death, she’d been in the middle of a contest in Lillycove City, just having won her semifinal match. She’d been disbelieving at first, but upon hearing the evidence, knowing that nobody could have (or had) survived the explosion and sinking of the ship he’d been on, she’d broken down.

    Her next memories were of waking up in the bedroom of her house, sobbing in her mother’s arms with her brother and father hovering nearby. It took many days, and many visits from friends across the world, but she’d slowly worked her way back up to living out her life.

    Still, she’d never gone back to contests. The flair and the drama that had drawn her in, the fame and fortune that held her to it, the lessons she’d learned and the experiences she'd had… all of it turned to ashes and dust, a burnt maple leaf shed of its beauty and life. Everything she touched turned to ash. She snorted at the irony. Of course. Everything came back to Ash.

    Ash Ketchum was five years dead. And May Maple was left broken.


    “Are you certain of his loyalty, Commander?”

    “Quite. He’s passed every test we’ve sent at him flawlessly. Even the ones that required a bit of… bloodletting. He is ruthless, efficient, and willing to use deadly force if necessary. His obedience conditioning is also complete. He is, without question, our soldier.”

    “And the augmentations?”

    “Complete. He adapted to his new abilities faster than any other ‘trainee’ we’ve had.”

    “Excellent. Proceed to the next phase with our other recruits.”

    “Yes sir. And… our other objective?”

    “The retrieval of the girl will be left to our other agents. Reports indicate that her skills have deteriorated in the past few years. She will be an easy target.”


    “As you were, Commander… I expect even more great things from you in the future.”

    “Of course sir. I aim to please.”


    Max Maple honestly couldn’t help but sigh as he conducted his rounds of his Pokémon at the Petalburg gym. He brushed Tauros’ thick, matted coat, patted Snorlax’s massive arm as he snoozed and set out an extra-large dish of food, and made sure that Swellow’s red, white, and blue feathers were well-groomed before moving on to the Pokémon that he’d caught himself.

    Those three had been his only keepsakes. The only Pokemon he’d taken over raising from Professor Samuel Oak; three of Ash’s normal-type powerhouses. He’d also been offered ownership of Staraptor, Unfezant, and Noctowl once he became a gym leader, but he’d had next to zero connection with them, and they would have been better off being trained by others.

    “Kiiing?” his Slaking grunted questioningly, wondering why Max was being so absentminded and quiet.

    “Just memories, Slaking,” he murmured. His powerhouse Pokémon grunted, closing his eyes and leaving Max to his work. He knew better than most the shadow that hung over him every day.

    Max moved on, selecting six Pokémon, including Ash’s Tauros, for his battle repertoire today; as he walked, he continued musing on what had been known of Ash’s Pokémon. Several of his Pokémon had either left of their own volition or disappeared in the dead of night shortly after his death, never to be seen again. He wondered where they’d gone. Had they not believed that their trainer was truly dead, and gone to search for him? Or had they gone off on their own, trying to avoid being given to another trainer, one who could most likely never match their first? Both options seemed plausible enough; though Pikachu showing up on the doorstep of Oak’s Lab about a month later tended to disprove the former theory.

    The Petalburg Gym Leader opened the back door to his gym and walked into the main battlefield, brushing off his green vest, blue t-shirt, and darkwash jeans as he went. His eyes, no longer clad in his old wire-frame glasses, strayed to the bench nearby where his sister and referee, May, sat gazing off into space. Her once brilliant sapphire eyes were clouded over, and her brunette locks fell to her shoulders in her old pseudo-winged style. Her clothes were mostly red, but with slight black accents, and her trademark bandanna lay untied in her lap. She had a soft, sad smile on her face, one that never seemed to reach her eyes. In fact, even the expression itself didn’t seem to be real. It just… existed, like the painted-on features of a manikin.

    Ever since that day, she’d never worn a true smile. Always brittle, always fake, pretending to be okay, but in reality anything but. His sister was a crumpled leaf, broken and battered and left to drift across the earth. And there was nothing, nothing he could do to change that.

    Everyone had tried so hard, and they’d still failed. Only Ash could heal her wounds, and he was gone for good.

    “May?” he queried softly, getting her to blink and turn towards him. “Are you ready to start the day?” Even after all these years, he knew better to ask ‘are you okay?’, because not only was it possible that it would hurt her if he was insensitive, he knew he’d only receive a lie for her answer.

    “Oh, sure,” she replied, smiling phonily. She stood, tying her bandanna into place and taking a deep breath before pushing all the pain and heartbreak behind closed doors in her heart. When she looked up again, her expression was as blank and inscrutable as a porcelain mask. “Whenever you’re ready.”

    Max nodded, padding over to the front door of the Gym and stepping outside. Once the sunlight cleared from his eyes, he was met with an unusual sight before him.

    A young man who looked to be about twenty-five leaned against the fire hydrant outside of the main building. He was of slightly above-average height and sturdy frame, though he was very lean; built like a runner. He wore an immaculately tailored black suit and matching pants, while a dark crimson necktie rested over the white dress shirt he wore underneath. His jet-black hair fell to the base of his shoulder blades in a mass of unruly, matted spikes, and as he turned an odd pair of small gold hoop earrings glinted by his ears. However, when Max’s eyes met his, he drew in an involuntary breath at the color: bright, gleaming ruby red, almost a perfect match for his tie.

    “Max Maple?” the man asked in a deep voice, just slightly too high in pitch to qualify as a baritone.

    “Yes?” Max replied, regaining his composure. He’d seen weirder eyes before, though rarely on another person.

    “Cool,” the guy replied, standing up straight and walking over, extending his hand for a handshake. “I’m Vincent Ardens. I want to battle you.”

    “A gym battle?” Max took his hand and shook, noticing that the man barely tensed his grip, and yet still gave a very firm handshake.

    Vincent looked uncomfortable for a second after he let go of Max’s hand, then he shrugged. “Sure. I don’t have a problem with that.”

    Max turned, ushering him to follow, all the while fighting off the curious sense of familiarity he got from the man…

    Well, that's it for the prologue. Please review!

    Any questions? Concerns? Comments? Fire away.

    A few notes:

    - Right now, the characters ages are changed quite a bit. In my headcanon, by the end of AG Ash is fifteen or sixteen, May is thirteen, and Max is eleven. This fic takes place ten years after that. So that would make May twenty-three and Max twenty-one. As mentioned in-story, Vincent is currently twenty-five.

    - There are several metaphors in this prologue, a couple relating to the title and overall theme. See if you can find them all, and let me know if you think you have. Think of it as a challenge from your English Major of an author.

    - Vincent's name is significant, but I won't reveal how, or why. If you think you've figured it out, you can PM me and I'll either say yes or no. If you can do that, you could figure out why it's important. Just a teaser.

    - I was originally planning on Ikarishipping, but when I looked back at my outline, I saw that I had only included it because I wanted the awesomeness that is Paul and the hilarity and flexible character that is Dawn in my fic. But really, there's no place for them; they wouldn't fit. So that idea is likely scrapped. The most any Ikarishipper will get is a mention or two. I'm sorry if you'd rather I have it, but I don't think I can fit it in.

    - This fic is somewhat slow on the romance, like its predecessor. It's a Action/Adventure/Mystery/Drama/Romance blockbuster of a fic. Don't expect anything to happen quickly.

    - I will likely be able to get up the next chapter within then next two weeks. After that, I have no idea. I go to college full time, do an student-teacher internship with the local school system, and work part-time as well. So don't hound me for updates; it'll likely just make me update even slower. Once you pay my salary, you can dictate my deadlines. Not one second earlier.

    All of that said, I hope you review, and that you like it.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  2. Midnightmoon6o2

    Midnightmoon6o2 "Tougher than you."

    Ah yes, you have that style that reminds me of the good old AS fics I miss so badly to read again. I really enjoy reading your style, don't know why, I just do. xD

    I feel so sorry for May, ever since Ash 'died' she's lost the passion to even do contests, maybe she's at the point questioning why she even alive. I just want to know more about Ash and stuff. If his turns up as this rich kid in a suit I would be so happy, cause I just love men in suits shhh, fangirl needs

    Well I want to stay maybe write it longer buts its a prologue. Their meant to be short and nail-biting and wanting for more, which you have done for me.:D
  3. Eon Master

    Eon Master Born from the Flames

    This makes me feel so very awesome xD
    In all seriousness, I did try to model some of it after PowerShot and Gazmof, though Gaz's is hard to replicate as a style. Also, it's probably because this is a rewrite of one of those fics you liked so much xD

    More or less. May is pretty much the 'broken bird' archetype in this story, though she also has some of the elements of the 'broken angel' trope. I won't say anything else for now, but next chapter will be at least partly from her 3rd person POV, so you'll get a pretty good look at just how bad off she is.

    *dies laughing* Oh god Midnight, you just made my good day so much better. Thank you xD
    Unfortunately, you won't be getting a definite conclusion one way or the other for a while yet. I plan to milk this plot point for all it's worth. Though Vincent will be sticking around, so you'll get your fix of 'men in suits'. xD
    Also, your comment about him being a 'rich kid' made me realize that I never defined their ages. So I should go do that now. Thanks for that :)

    Don't worry; my next chapter will likely be close to three times this length. And good to know that I nailed it this time; I've always had trouble with prologues.

    Thanks for a solid review, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get those...
  4. ChloboShoka

    ChloboShoka Writer

    I like these kind of dark retro-style fics because you never know what's going to happen next which makes them more exciting. I like the detail you brought into this and I like how the prologue is a little bit like a teaser of what's to come.
  5. Midnightmoon6o2

    Midnightmoon6o2 "Tougher than you."

    I tried that but I can't do it. Their just to pros in that kind of writing. lol.

    Hehe, that's part of the job. omgosh you for realz? you are awesome

    True that, to get a solid review these days is like finding gold. But don't worry, I'll to my best to give honest reviews as much as I can.
  6. Sethern

    Sethern [Insert Cool Title]

    I'd have to say that I really ejoy your style of writing. The best books are the ones that stick with you, whether it being someone does for a Nobel cause, a villain saving the world while the hero trys stops it. Someone dies and it changes people in the story. I have a feeling that this story will stick with me. Just this prologue has gotten me hooked to this story. You have my support and I will be sure to review. I'm expecting great things for this.
  7. Eon Master

    Eon Master Born from the Flames

    Haha, retro-style? Interesting definition, but I kinda like it. And thank you very much. I promise, it gets better.

    *feels very pro right now* Though, um... did I actually succeed? Or am I just blowing hot air?

    You deserve a raise, then xD Oh, it gets better. Many other characters will show up wearing suits, or have to wear a suit at some point in time. So you'll definitely get your recommended chapterly dosage of good-looking men in suits x)

    Thank you. Since most of the old crew have gone, I was worried I wouldn't get very many good reviews. This is a real load off my mind =D

    Wow, thanks so much Seth. I'll have to give a look at your fics then, though I probably won't be reviewing much (lack of time and all that).

    Also, a quick note. I was originally planning on Ikarishipping in this fic as well, but when I looked back at my outline, I saw that I had only included it because I wanted the awesomeness that is Paul and the hilarity and flexible character that is Dawn in my fic. But really, there's no place for them; they wouldn't fit. So that idea is likely scrapped. The most any Ikarishipper will get is a mention or two. I'm sorry if you'd rather I have it, but I don't think I can fit it in. There will be other ships besides Advance, but Advance will be the main one. The secondary will be a Max shipping, but I won't spoil who I'm pairing him with.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  8. Eon Master

    Eon Master Born from the Flames

    Okay... so this is a month late. I'm so sorry guys. I won't make excuses; I honestly should've known better than to say that two weeks would be enough time for a full chapter. Thank you for all your reviews and nice comments... it's great to get that kind of encouragement.

    Well Midnight... you said you wanted it to be longer. How does seventeen and a half pages sound? Seriously, it's so big it can't all fit in one post. I have to split it in half and make two posts xD

    Also, I'll make an exception this time, but if you want to be notified that this story is updated, please leave a review or VM and let me know to put your name on the PM list! I can't PM/VM you if I don't know who you are or you didn't review.

    As usual, author's notes are at the bottom... of post two, in this case.

    EDIT: Holy crap. Nearly seven-hundred views at the time of posting. That is awesome. =D

    Chapter 1: Behind Empty Eyes

    May watched with detached disinterest as Max re-entered the gym with a man in a suit trailing behind him. She barely bothered to give more than a single glance; none of the challengers to her brother’s gym mattered worth a whit to her. Names, faces, Pokémon teams… all of them were meaningless to her. All she had to do was point out who won and who lost, say the right words at the right time, and repeat until the day ended. May preferred it that way. It meant that she didn’t have to think, didn’t have to remember.

    Every battle she watched called up memories that she’d rather stay buried. On her worst days, all it took was the smallest flash of an Electric-type attack or a voice that sounded similar to his, and then she was drowning in her own misery. She missed him so badly that she couldn’t even bear to say his name; sometimes, she couldn’t even think it. Just the name alone conjured up a stark, longing ache, deep enough that she could hardly breathe. She hated it, hated how helpless she became in the face of her own sorrow; yet she craved the pain it brought. She clung to it like a lifeline to remind her that she was alive, and that she still had people worth living for. It hadn’t always worked; the pearlescent scars on her forearms, covered by her long sleeves, could attest to that.

    “God damn it, May, you are not dying on me!” her brother had shouted at her, as she lay in a pool of her own crimson life on the bathroom floor. “We’ve lost too much to lose you too! Ash would never forgive you for leaving us behind like this!”

    Just one sentence of blunt, angry words had snapped her back, had made her fight to hold on to life. And she’d succeeded. Some days… many days… May found herself wishing she’d failed, if only for a moment. Then her walls would come back up, her impassive mask would conceal her broken heart from the cruel world outside. She pretended and mocked her way through life, only holding on because others needed her, and because she wanted, at least in some part, for them to be happy.

    Her mind flickered back into focus, recognizing her brother’s voice explaining the rules to his opponent. “…on-three; standard rules with only one exception: unlike most gyms, I pick first, rather than the challenger.”

    “Doesn’t that give your opponents more of an advantage?” the voice of the suited challenger spoke. May was struck by a quick flash of familiarity and a shallow jolt of pain. His voice was too deep to be his, but something in the tone, or maybe the way he pitched his question, reminded her of her lost… of him. Against her better judgment, she let curiosity guide her eyes over the man’s features. Untamed black hair, pale skin, gold earrings, immaculate suit, and crimson eyes. May did a double-take, and she focused more intently on his eyes. Yes, the mysterious man’s eyes were red, and a stark bloody shade of it, at that. She shivered as she saw the gaze behind the color; this man was obviously no stranger to violence. His stare was blank and unreadable, and seemed to rove over objects and people as though seeing straight through them. They were the eyes of a fighter, a warrior, a soldier. Maybe even the eyes of a killer.

    “That’s intentional,” Max replied calmly. His gaze flickered to May and he nodded subtly; he’d noticed the man’s strange stare, and was perfectly aware of what hid behind those crimson orbs. Good, he wouldn’t be caught off-guard if his opponent did something dangerous. “Before I became a gym leader, I was Ever Grande Conference champion three years running. Even above-average trainers can’t typically beat me without a big handicap.”

    “Hm,” the man replied, pursing his lips thoughtfully. “Well, I guess it makes sense. Ready to go?”

    Max turned to her, tilting his head in question. “May?”

    “Right,” she replied quickly, moving over to the referee’s stand and stepping up, making sure to pull out her flags as she did so. “Name and hometown?” she asked the mystery trainer on her left.

    “Vincent Ardens, Saffron City.”

    “Alright. The Pokémon battle between Gym Leader Max Maple and the challenger, Vincent Ardens of Saffron City is about to begin! Each side will use three Pokémon, and the battle is over when all of one side’s Pokémon are unable to continue. In addition, only the challenger is allowed to make substitutions!”

    Max reached down and swiped a Pokéball off his belt before throwing it into the air. “Spinda, let’s begin,” he called as the orb opened in a white flash.
    Out of the Pokéball, a small, tan Pokémon with red splotches over its body and swirly eyes appeared, tottering back and forth slightly while calling its name in a dizzy manner. “Spiiiiindaaaa…” it drawled lazily, flopping to an upright position and taking a stance not entirely unlike a dancer before becoming still.

    Vincent pulled a black and orange Pokéball -one May identified as a Luxury Ball- out of his suit jacket, sending it spinning forth with a flick of the wrist. “Let’s go, Houndoom!” he shouted.

    A black and red canine with silver horns and decorative metallic armor across its body materialized out of the white flash of light. The hellhound threw its head back with a howl, then crouched into a battle stance with its eyes alight and hungry for a fight. Its jaws parted and it panted subtly, obviously eager to start the battle. Its trainer chuckled softly. “Easy, boy,” Vincent cautioned. “You’re fighting a real opponent, so keep your cool, okay?”

    A loud bark answered him, then he grinned across the ring to his impassive opponent. “Your move, Mr. Maple.”

    “Call me Max, please,” her brother drawled. “When you call me ‘Mr. Maple’, I want to look over my shoulder for my dad.” His expression tightened and he grew serious. “Spinda, Dizzy Punch!”

    Spinda moved forward, its movements weaving and drunken, but incredibly fluid as a white light surrounded its right fist.

    “Dodge, then counter with Iron Tail!” Vincent commanded.

    Houndoom leapt into the air to dodge the wide right hook from Spinda, then flipped over and swung down his tail, hardened into a grey metallic blade.

    “Dodge,” Max commanded flatly. “Mega Kick.”

    Spinda twirled, taking the momentum from its overextended punch and spun out of Houndoom’s way with a movement that seemed almost choreographed in its perfection. As it continued to turn, the panda-like Pokémon lifted its right foot and completed the spin with a devastating kick to Houndoom’s side.

    The much larger dog gave a yowl of pain as he was flung away, landing awkwardly on the floor and stumbling to his paws several feet away. Vincent’s expression grew more intent, watching Spinda’s movements. “Flamethrower, Houndoom,” he ordered, eyes on the bizarre stumbling dance of Max’s Spinda.

    Houndoom barked, inhaling deeply before letting loose a strong torrent of bright red fire from his mouth. Spinda spun aside without Max’s instruction, deftly avoiding the Flamethrower, though May saw the attack singe several patches of its fur from the sheer heat. “Keep going,” Vincent ordered softly, still watching Spinda’s footwork.

    May found herself grudgingly impressed with this strange trainer as his Houndoom continued to keep her brother’s Spinda busy with dodging its flames. All it had taken was one example of Spinda’s dodging style for him to realize several key points. First, that close combat was far too dangerous until he understood what Max and Spinda were doing. Second, that watching Spinda’s body was next to useless, and that its footwork was the key to how it was moving. And thirdly, that Spinda’s natural movements had been adapted into a style of dodging.

    Max seemed to realize what Vincent was doing as well, his attention focusing in on the battle. “Dizzy Punch again, Spinda,” he ordered sharply.

    “Jump, then Iron Tail into Bite, left!” Vincent snapped out, his gaze flashing back to the battle at large as his hand flicked out with two fingers pointed in the direction he wanted Houndoom to attack.

    Spinda’s circular movement brought it in close to Houndoom as it swung with another glowing haymaker, but the canine once again went airborne and spun, bringing his iron-hard tail down to hit Spinda. The Dizzy Pokémon dodged effortlessly again, but as Houndoom’s tail impacted the floor, its motion began to uncurl and Max’s eyes widened. “Bend!” he shouted instinctively, his mouth not having time to form a more coherent order.

    Amazingly, Spinda understood perfectly. As Houndoom’s tail propelled him forward and he soared towards Spinda with maw opened wide, the Normal-type bent backwards at the waist, just letting the razor-sharp fangs skim past its face without touching them. Unthinkingly, its left leg shot up in another Mega Kick, slamming into its opponent’s lower jaw and forcing it shut with a painful clack while throwing the hellhound into the air.

    “Finish with Focus Blast!” Max shouted, finally finding an opening to end the battle.

    His Pokémon flopped over bonelessly in a backwards somersault, a light blue orb of Fighting-type energy building up in its paws as it regained its feet. With a half-slurred cry, Spinda flung its arms outward, sending the energy ball straight into Houndoom’s unprotected stomach, causing a massive explosion and a howl of agony.

    May didn’t realize what Vincent was doing until she saw Houndoom drop out of the cloud of smoke from the explosion and fall into the arms of his kneeling trainer. She blinked, wondering how he’d managed to move that fast, and so quietly she hadn’t even heard his footsteps.

    “Are you alright, boy?” he murmured, cradling his beaten Pokémon close. Though a normally temperamental species, Vincent’s Houndoom merely whined softly and licked his cheek. “You did your best,” he said quietly. “Thanks for trying so hard.” With those words of encouragement, he returned Houndoom to his Luxury Ball with a red beam of light.

    May remembered to do her job just as he did this, sweeping out the flag in her right hand. “Houndoom is unable to battle! Spinda is the winner!” she declared.

    Vincent came to his feet, brushing off his suit before favoring Max with a mildly irritated look. “That was a little harsh for beating such a young Pokémon, wasn’t it?” he asked coolly. May realized with a start that his Houndoom was quite young. It was a wonder she hadn’t noticed it earlier, the signs had all been there. Houndoom’s eagerness for a fight, his easygoing nature for his species, comparatively clumsy movements, and the specific orders Vincent had given him all pointed to a Pokémon with little experience in serious battles.

    Max looked distinctly indifferent to Vincent’s ire. “It’s your own fault for using a young, inexperienced Pokémon in a serious battle before it was ready.”

    Vincent’s face twisted into a much angrier expression for a split-second before his features settled into an impassive mask. “Fine.” He walked back to his spot and took out another Pokéball, a regular one this time. “Then I’ll stop holding back. Typhlosion, go!”

    When the next Pokémon exploded out of the ball, the temperature in the room seemed to spike at least ten degrees hotter. With a powerful roar, the massive badger-like creature emerged, its cream-colored underbelly rippling with sturdy muscles under immaculately smooth fur. A wreath of flames burned from the base of his neck, seemingly sprouting out of the dark blue fur of its back. Swiping his powerful claws through the air, the Typhlosion snarled at his opponent, the ambient temperature in the room rising even further as his crimson eyes locked onto Spinda’s swaying form.

    “Oh dear,” Max said, deadpan. “I hope my gym insurance is paid up.” May shot him an incredulous look before she realized he was baiting his opponent, trying to make him angry so he would make a mistake. He normally wouldn’t be doing that, but he obviously thought he needed the edge. May didn’t blame him; that Typhlosion was at least five inches taller and fifty pounds heavier than average, sure signs that it was at a very high level.

    “I’d be praying for a working sprinkler system, actually,” Vincent replied dryly, not rising to Max’s taunts. He then mockingly considered something, tapping a finger to his jaw. “Wait, those were made illegal in gym codes following Pewter City’s incidents with theirs.” He shrugged in a ‘devil-may-care’ sort of way. “Never mind. You’re screwed.”

    The Petalburg Gym Leader smirked slightly, but showed no other reaction as he nodded to May so they could get started.

    “Typhlosion versus Spinda, begin!” she called.

    They both waited for a while, before Max made the first move. “Spinda, Extrasensory!”

    Spinda trilled out a dizzying rendition of his name, a bright point of shifting light building up between its floppy ears, but Vincent reacted far faster. “Burning Claw!”

    ‘Burning what?’ May’s mind parroted back, just as the mighty Typhlosion shot forward with enough speed to make her eyes bug out. The Volcano Pokémon extended an arm, the claws lighting up in bright red and trailing tiny flames in their wake.

    Max’s eyes widened as he tried to keep up and save Spinda. “Dod-“

    “Phloshaaa!” Typhlosion howled, catching Spinda flat-footed with a brutal slash across the face. The Dizzy Pokémon cried out in agony from the powerful and ruthless attack, clutching at its face as it rolled backwards to gain some distance.

    “Now Fire Blast!” Vincent snapped, trying to deny Max and Spinda the time to recover.

    A building whirlpool of flames seemed to swirl in Typhlosion’s mouth before he let loose an absolutely massive blast of fire in the shape of a five-pointed star. The Fire Blast totally engulfed Spinda, the sheer power of the attack throwing Spinda across the gym like a rag doll. The beleaguered Normal-type smashed into the wall with stunning force, and as the flames cleared from his body, Spinda slumped to the ground and did not move.

    “Spinda!” Max shouted, running over to his Pokémon as May made the call. He dodged the scorch marks on the floor and flickering embers in his path, barely paying heed to the damage to his gym or the fact that the indoor temperature was now at least 110° Fahrenheit. Max cradled Spinda’s burned and unconscious body in his arms, glaring bloody murder at Vincent when he looked up again. “An eye for an eye, huh?” he snapped angrily, returning Spinda to its Pokéball. May noticed several mild burns on her brother’s arms from handling Spinda’s superheated fur, but he barely seemed to notice them.

    “No,” Vincent said flatly. “I had Typhlosion hold back enough to avoid permanent or lasting injuries or mental scarring. However, your beatdown of my Houndoom could have destroyed his confidence and made him lose trust in me. Since your Spinda isn’t a new Pokémon, you don’t have to worry about that.”

    “But your Houndoom is essentially fine, while Spinda won’t be for at least a week. That was cruel,” Max shot back, moving over to the ball teleporter set up in the corner of the room. He stuck the ball inside and pressed the activation button, sending it directly to the Petalburg Pokémon Center.

    “Not true. That’s just the price you pay for arrogance and a lack of tact,” Vincent said coolly. “If you did that to another young Pokémon, or if I hadn’t trained Houndoom to trust me as much as he does, you could have stunted or even completely ended their career as a battler. That’s cruel.”

    May winced at both the slight to Max and the damage to Spinda. At the same time, she couldn’t help but marvel at the power and skill of Vincent and his Typhlosion. ‘Gyms are built to take damage from all sorts of attacks and remain intact. And everything is fireproofed as much as possible. But that Fire Blast… it melted part of the floor, and burned everything in its path. And that first attack, ‘Burning Claw’… it’s essentially a Shadow Claw with Fire-type energy instead of Ghost-type, but it’s so much more damaging. He adapted one of Typhlosion’s moves to its natural type, and then increased the power even more. That’s incredible.’

    Max’s eyes bored mercilessly into the other trainer, swimming with emotions and thoughts May struggled to place. A flicker of anger, a twist of shame and a flash of… curiosity? “…I suppose you have a point,” he said after a few moments. He abruptly turned on his heel and walked towards the back doors. “May, Vincent. We’re continuing outside. No sense in damaging the gym any more than it already is.”

    They left through the back sliding doors, Vincent, Typhlosion, and May following Max up a grassy hill. May quickly pulled ahead of Vincent, sliding up next to Max and trying to talk with him. “What was that all about?” she hissed. “For a minute, I didn’t know if you were going to attack him or bow down in apology!”

    “I’ll tell you later,” Max muttered, very purposefully not glancing back towards Vincent. ‘Weird. Something’s got him riled up. Normally, he’d just brush it off, or say that there’s nothing going on.’

    The four of them reached the dirt battlefield atop the hill, taking their previous places. May moved to pull out her flags, but Max waved her off. Understanding, she simply waited for Max’s next choice.

    “Kangaskhan, go!” he shouted, throwing another Pokéball skyward. This one opened to release a massive behemoth with armored brown scales and a tanned underbelly. A young grey version of the Pokémon stuck his head out of the pouch on his mother’s stomach, yipping excitedly as the parent roared loudly.

    May smiled, walking over and extending her hands to the familiar Pokémon. Her brother’s Kangaskhan chuffed softly, pulling the youngster out of her pouch and handing him to May. She gladly accepted the child into her arms and, with him waving and babbling good luck to his mother, marched back to her podium and sat down on it. “Okay, we’re ready!” she called to Vincent, who was staring at her with an almost mystified expression.

    “That is… amazing,” he said distractedly, as though he didn’t even realize who he was talking to. “Kangaskhan are some of the most protective parents in the world. For a mother Kangaskhan to give their child to someone else to watch over… it’s unbelievable.”

    “Oi,” Max interrupted, getting Vincent to snap out of his trance and stare owlishly at him. “Are we going to do this, or not? You’re the one who requested the battle.”

    “Oh yeah,” Vicent said sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. “Alright, let’s go.”


    May just sat back to watch, holding the baby Kangaskhan on her lap, and let her brother do his job.


    Max Maple drew in a deep, calming breath, then opened his eyes to begin the battle.

    “Kangaskhan, Mega Punch!”

    “Typhlosion, Burning Claw!”

    The two combatants charged, flames enveloping Typhlosion’s claws while Kangaskhan simply raised her massive fists. They slammed together, the smaller Fire-type struggling against his larger and sturdier opponent. Though his clawed feet dug into the ground, trying to gain some traction, the Parent Pokémon pushed him back, forcing grooves in the ground from the sheer strength she was exhibiting.

    Max smirked. “Dragon Tail.”

    With an earsplitting roar, Kangaskhan pivoted and whipped her tail around with incredible velocity, sending it crashing into Typhlosion’s side and throwing him across the field to land in a heap. He got up with a growl promising violence, his flaming collar spiking outward dangerously.

    “Okay… using a move that she shouldn’t have been able to learn aside,” Vincent said, “that’s a pretty strong Kangaskhan.” His features tightened as he focused in on the battle. “Use Flamethrower!”

    The massive gust of fire spewed from Typhlosion’s mouth, but Max looked totally unconcerned, as did his Pokémon. “Block it,” he said flatly.

    The heavily armored arms of Kangaskhan shot up into the path of the flames, taking the impact on her crossed forearms without a wince or movement out of line. With a loud war cry, the behemoth whipped her arms out and ripped the fiery attack apart, sending sparkling embers everywhere.

    Max couldn’t help smirking at the awestruck look on Vincent’s face; it wasn’t every day that an attack capable of burning through fireproof materials was blocked so casually. “That was okay,” he said patronizingly, “but I’ll show you a real long-range attack. Kangaskhan, Hyper Beam!”

    “Dodge it!” Vincent cried out immediately, quickly shoving aside his shock.

    Typhlosion threw himself out of the way, little more than a cream and blue blur as a golden pinprick of light built up in Kangaskhan’s jaw and then exploded outward into a massive, crackling beam of energy. The Hyper Beam shot just over Typhlosion’s left shoulder, missing Vincent by only feet as it soared into the sky and blew apart a cloud in the distance.

    Vincent’s eyes almost gleamed as he saw the opening for a counterstrike during Hyper Beam’s recharge period. Max smirked; he’d be in for more than he’d bargained for. “Typhlosion, now’s your chance! Use Focus Punch!”

    Typhlosion flew forward on all fours, then rose up with claws held high as blue light enveloped his fist. He struck out, hoping for an undefended blow…

    “Mega Punch.”

    …and was blindsided by a massive basketball-sized fist crashing into the side of his head. He went down in a heap, groaning and clutching at his aching noggin with both arms. Kangaskhan stood triumphant over her downed foe, arm raised for a second strike.

    “Do it,” Max commanded. “Finish with Mega Punch.”

    Vincent’s teeth ground against each other audibly as he snapped out his orders. “Flamethrower on the ground!”

    Typhlosion’s eyes snapped open as his burning collar flared to life, a jet of flames issuing from his jaws and propelling him into the air while swathing Kangaskhan in fire. The parent Pokémon shrieked, stumbling backwards and thrashing wildly to clear the flames away and protect her softer underbelly and sensitive eyes from the heat.

    May’s jaw dropped open as she held the wriggling baby Kangaskhan on her lap back from the fight. “No way…” Max heard her whisper, eyes wide with shock. He didn’t blame her; he recognized that technique too.

    “Now Typhlosion, Flare Blitz!” Vincent shouted, punching his fist forward to accentuate the order.

    Max frowned as Typhlosion’s body lit up in blinding red energy that radiated heat greater than even his Flamethrower, preparing to charge. ‘That should’ve been the end, but he just keeps pulling himself out of situations where he’d be in checkmate. Against Houndoom, Spinda would’ve taken him out regardless, but it nearly ended up a draw instead of a win in my favor. And now this… using one of Ash’s favorite tactics and catching me off-guard. Is he doing this intentionally?’ Max’s mind snapped back to the present at the sound of Typhlosion’s battle cry. ‘No… that doesn’t matter right now. Later, I’ll have all the time I’ll need to think about this. Right now it’s time for me to win!’ “Kangaskhan, Giga Impact!”

    The two battling Pokémon slammed together in a thunderous clash of light and sound, burning red streaks against purple and golden shell. A massive explosion occurred center-field, blowing both of them back to skid to a stop in front of their respective trainers. Typhlosion wavered for a second, then dropped to one knee, huffing with exhaustion as red sparks flickered over his body, indicating the recoil damage he’d taken.

    Max let out a sigh of relief; that Typhlosion was proving to be a troublesome opponent. “You’re doing pretty well,” he admitted to Vincent. “Kangaskhan is probably my third strongest gym Pokémon, and she’s only third by a tiny margin.”

    “You trained her to be able to use Hyper Beam and Giga Impact without needing to rest afterwards,” Vincent observed. “Interesting. I don’t think she’s originally yours, though.” He gave a significant glance towards May, who was seated with baby Kangaskhan still on her lap.

    “Guilty,” May admitted with her usual fake smile. “She still trusts me more than Max when it comes to her baby, though she’s more than willing to battle for him.”

    “Obviously,” Vincent said in a teasing tone, though his eyes were still hard. He was a good actor, Max had to give him that. The only problem was that his eyes were far too expressive, and that went both ways; the lack of emotion in his gaze sharply contrasted with his assumed expression. And yet… it wasn’t as though he was intentionally trying to deceive them. It was almost as if… almost as if he was used to concealing his true self; like it was nothing more than a practiced habit.

    When Vincent’s eyes shifted back to the battle, they met Max’s own, and he understood. ‘He’s… like May. Broken inside. He just hides it much better.’ His thoughts spun wildly, conflicting patterns and ideas throwing him off and working him in circles. ‘What could have happened to him to make him that lost?’ Max felt like he was missing something important, like some idea was just tickling at the back of his brain. He disregarded it; right now, he had to keep focused. He’d already caught his mind wandering once during this battle, and he couldn’t afford that happening again.

    “Typhlosion,” Vincent murmured, his gaze flickering to the exhausted Fire-type. “Can you continue?”

    “Shaa!” the Volcano Pokémon barked at him, like he was chastising his trainer for thinking less of his abilities. Vincent chuckled. “Alright. Your move, Max.”

    Continued in the next post.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  9. Eon Master

    Eon Master Born from the Flames

    Continued from previous post.

    Max pursed his lips, considering his next action. ‘Knocking Typhlosion out quickly is possible, but I don’t want to overcommit and get stuck in a trap. A regular attack would be best at this point.’ “Kangaskhan, Dragon Tail!” he ordered.

    Something was off, though. As Kangaskhan charged forward, Typhlosion’s body began to glow with an off-red light, which slowly grew brighter and more powerful as the seconds passed. “Burning Claw to block,” Vincent ordered with relish.

    Typhlosion raised one arm in an almost lazy movement, powerful flames enveloping his claws. Kangaskhan swung her armored tail around hard enough to make the air whistle around it, but when it collided with Typhlosion’s Burning Claw, Max saw that the attack had not only been stopped, but the flames were burning Kangaskhan’s near-invulnerable armor! “That’s Blaze!” he yelped, eyes wide at missing such an obvious possibility until it was too late.

    Vincent smirked. “You got it. Focus Punch, now!”

    Typhlosion struck out with his other arm, the glowing blue fist crashing into Kangaskhan’s jaw in a stunning uppercut and sending the powerful armored behemoth reeling backwards.

    Max quickly mastered his shock, gritting his teeth and preparing to bring down Typhlosion quickly. “Mega Punch, now!”

    “Dodge it!”

    Typhlosion leapt up and back, completely avoiding Kangaskhan’s wild haymaker of a punch. Vincent’s expression grew keen, as though he’d found an opening. “Typhlosion, use Flare Blitz!”

    Max felt puzzlement for a split-second before he reacted. “Try to deflect with Dragon Tail!”

    Typhlosion’s blazing red form rushed forward, and Kangaskhan timed him precisely before swatting out with her massive tail. However, he timed her move in return, launching into the air and rocketing straight into Kangaskhan’s unguarded face. The powerful collision threw her bodily into the air, but the dinosaur-like Pokémon managed to twist around and land on her feet with a stunning clang and scrape of armored body against rock.

    ‘He… saw Kangaskhan’s anger and made an obvious move in order to out-predict me, all without mentioning a thing to his Pokémon? Unbelievable! All the unpredictable tactics and powerful bonds with his Pokémon of Ash and all the logic and cunning of Paul in one trainer! Who the hell is this guy?!’

    Meanwhile, Kangaskhan saw red, her battle-lust and pain overcoming her as rage clouded her mind. “KAAAAHHHNNN!” she roared in challenge as she stomped out into a battle stance, shaking the entire battlefield from the sheer decibel level.

    Max, once he focused in on the battle again, saw a perfect opening as Typhlosion landed off-balance, red recoil sparks flickering over his body. “Maximum power Hyper Beam, dead ahead!” he ordered in his most commanding voice.

    The golden light that gathered in the Parent Pokémon’s jaw was less a ball and more of a solid mass of raw energy. With a horrifying shriek, she let loose the overpowered blast straight towards Typhlosion’s straightening form.

    Vincent’s jaw clenched and his eyes widened as he bared his teeth in a feral snarl. “Block it!” he roared, the command reaching Typhlosion just in time for him to throw up his arms and intercept the massive beam of power.

    The Hyper Beam’s impact steadily pushed Typhlosion backwards, his feet digging furrows into the battlefield as a brilliant light shone from the point of impact. However, less than five feet from his trainer, Typhlosion dug in and slid to a halt, still holding back the beam with his arms. In an act of unparalleled willpower and amazing strength, he pushed back into the Hyper Beam and shattered it with a snarl of total ferocity.

    “Finish with Flamethrower!” Vincent bellowed, his stance almost as primal and potent as his Pokémon’s own.

    “SHHAAAAAAANN!” the powerful Fire-type howled, letting lose an absolute deluge of fire from his jaws. The torrent covered the distance between combatants too fast to even blink, and Kangaskhan was hurled completely out of the ring, landing almost a dozen yards away. Her armored body was covered with burns, and she was clearly unconscious, though she was in much better shape than Spinda had been.

    Seconds later, Typhlosion crumpled to the ground, completely exhausted and also unable to continue.

    Max watched with detached amazement as his sister stood, pulling up the mewling baby Kangaskhan with her. “Neither Typhlosion nor Kangaskhan is able to continue battling,” she said firmly, rocking the distraught toddler in her arms to offer him some comfort. “Therefore, this round is a draw!”

    He walked over to the battered form of his Pokémon, May and the baby Kanga trailing behind, lost in his own thoughts. ‘His Typhlosion won using nothing but sheer grit and determination. There’s no way he should’ve been able to stand up to that Hyper Beam, let alone launch a counterattack before going down. It’s like everything I do ends up either playing right into his hands or backfiring spectacularly. Is there anything I can do to beat this guy?’ He shook his head, clearing the defeatist thoughts from his mind. He knelt down, as May let the baby slip from her arms and waddle up to his mother, crying softly. She opened her eyes with a groan, letting out a chuffing sound at the sight of her child before laying a burned arm over him, reassuring him quietly. The baby sniffled a few times before nodding and crawling into his mother’s pouch as she closed her eyes to rest. Only then did Max recall her, knowing better than to separate a mother from her child.

    As he stood and glanced back towards Vincent, he noticed something odd. Vincent hadn’t recalled his Typhlosion yet, and was simply standing in place, panting softly with one hand over his face. His other arm hung tense at his side, his fingers clenching and unclenching. “…known better. Too dangerous…” Max heard him mumble. After a few seconds, he lowered his hand and pulled out Typhlosion’s Pokéball before recalling him. With a sigh, he slid the ball back into his suit and met Max’s gaze. His eyes seemed to be brighter, almost as though they were glowing faintly, and his expression was slightly uncomfortable, like he was fighting off a headache. “I’m sorry Max, but I can’t afford to drag this out any further.” With a simple flick of the wrist, Vincent sent another plain Pokéball spinning into the air. “Venusaur, let’s go.”

    Max turned his gaze to this new Pokémon and had to clench his teeth to keep his jaw from dropping. This Venusaur was a massive beast of a Pokémon, just shy of eight feet tall and weighing in at probably a quarter of a ton. Its muscles were iron-hard and amazingly defined under its scaly green hide, but its build was lean and slim (as much as was possible for a Pokémon that big) with a very sturdy gait that was unusual for a loping Pokémon of Venusaur’s stature. Max finally spoke with the only words that would come to his lips. “…you do realize that I’m supposed to pick first, right?”

    “I do,” Vincent said seriously, none of his earlier easygoing tone in his voice. “I would’ve picked Venusaur anyway. He is the best Pokémon I have, bar none.”

    “Okay…” Quickly, he sorted through his options. ‘Tauros is too small to even think of going head-to-head with that thing, even if he might be faster. Slaking might work to match it in power and defense… but I’m worried about how strong that Venusaur’s legs look. If it’s more mobile than average, Slaking’s biggest advantage over Venusaur will be negated, and we’d be back to square one. Zangoose isn’t even an option; as fast and vicious as she is, she’s too weak defensively. And for all of Delcatty’s moves, she’s still a contest Pokémon at heart, not a dedicated battler. Against a hardened opponent like Venusaur, she wouldn’t last. I guess… I have to cheat. Sort of.’ He lifted his fingers to his mouth, inserting two before letting out a piercing whistle that warbled a few times before dying off. He turned and glanced at his sister, who was staring at him with her mouth slightly agape. “May, you’re going to want to stand back, okay?”

    She shook herself out of her stupor, nodding quickly before taking several large steps away from the ring, making sure to grab her flags from the podium as she went. Max returned his attention to Vincent and his Venusaur just as a large winged shape passed overhead. With a keening cry, a large grey and red bird Pokémon with a crest of feathers that resembled a headdress swooped in and took up a position in front of Max. “Braviary, I choose you,” he murmured, letting a note of wistfulness slip into his tone.

    Vincent raised an eyebrow as he took in the beautiful plumage and massive wingspan of the powerful avian in front of him. “Interesting. I didn’t expect your strongest gym Pokémon to be anything other than a Slaking, to be honest.”

    “Braviary isn’t one of my gym Pokémon, he’s part of my main squad for conference championships,” Max said in reply. “Normally, I’d never even think of using him for a gym challenge, because he’s too powerful. However… that Venusaur is stronger than any I’ve ever seen. I’m not going to take it easy on you.”

    “Doesn’t matter,” Vincent said, his tone completely flat as though he was simply stating a fact. “Let’s go.”

    Max nodded to his sister, who pulled up her flags. “Venusaur versus Braviary, begin!” she shouted.

    “Braviary, use Wing Attack!”

    Even as the aquiline Pokémon shot forward with wings spread wide, Vincent snapped out his command in a perfectly impassive tone of voice. “Dodge.”

    Just as Braviary’s wing swept down, Venusaur’s legs flexed and he threw himself aside in a smooth and swift dodge, so quickly that his large frame blurred with his movement. Max’s eyes almost bugged out of his head at seeing such a massive Pokémon move that quickly.

    “Sludge Bomb,” Vincent ordered.

    “Dodge, then Air Slash!”

    Out of the fully-bloomed flower on his back, Venusaur launched several balls of purple sludge at Braviary. The Valiant Pokémon flapped his wings sharply and launched into a steep climb. At the very edge of a stall, he gave a quick roll and managed to flip almost totally around before flapping his wings outward and sending dozens of tiny blades of wind at Venusaur.

    Vincent waited until the last minute again, then ordered his moves once more. “Jump and use Body Slam.”

    With a loud roar, Venusaur flexed his legs and hurled himself into the air, so high and so fast that he actually ended up above the high-flying Braviary. He came down directly on the Flying-type’s back, causing him to let out a squawk of pain, and sent both of them hurtling towards the ground with crushing force.

    Max’s expression sharpened, and he snapped out his own orders just in time. “Use a double Wing Attack the moment you hit the ground!” he called.
    Braviary’s eyes snapped open and he flapped his wings down with a fierce battle cry, smashing the ground under his wingtips as a strong shockwave rippled out from the point of impact. Venusaur was catapulted into the air from the recoil forces, landing hard and skidding backwards with a growl of pain and irritation. Bother trainers covered their faces to shield their eyes from the flying debris kicked up from the attack, then snapped out their next moves almost simultaneously.

    “Take Down, Venusaur!”

    “Up, then come down in an Aerial Ace!”

    Venusaur leapt for Braviary with all of his strength, but the nimble bird Pokémon was not to be caught as he climbed sharply once more and swung over to dive with white air currents streaming off of his body. The Aerial Ace attack crashed into Venusaur’s back and slammed him into the shattered ground with a cry of agony. Braviary flew out of the renewed cloud of dust with a triumphant call, while Venusaur clambered back to his feet, shaking his body and brushing off the attack like it was nothing more than a minor annoyance.

    “Another Aerial Ace, Braviary!”

    Vincent’s eyes narrowed as he watched Braviary streak in for another powerful Flying-type attack, already well prepared to counter. “Use Power Whip!”

    Max had no idea what happened. One moment, Braviary was on a collision course with Venusaur’s face, and the next moment what looked like a solid green line had flashed across his vision and Braviary was slapped out of the air like an irksome fly.

    “Now Take Down!”

    Venusaur smashed into Braviary as the latter struggled to rise, sending him sprawling. With a loud wark of anger, Braviary pulled himself up with a few flaps of his wings and glared at the impassive juggernaut across from him.

    ‘A perfect anti-air counter, capable of swatting down even a full-power Aerial Ace from Braviary without breaking a sweat,’ Max analyzed swiftly, his mind whirring through his options. ‘But it’s totally dependent on being able to redirect the momentum of the move by hitting just to the side of the attack’s focal point. I’d use something like Sky Attack, which would be too strong to counter, but that wouldn’t be fast enough to hit that Venusaur with its insane speed. So… I need both.’ “Braviary,” he called, grabbing his Pokémon’s attention. “Climb as high and as fast as you can, then begin charging a Sky Attack.”

    “Don’t let it!” Vincent snapped. “Sludge Bomb!”

    Venusaur fired off another Sludge Bomb attack, but the toxic attack went wide as Braviary soared into the sky, becoming little more than a dark pinprick against the mostly cloudless sky. White energy started to build up around his form, turning him into a bright morning star.

    Vincent’s expression darkened, then he nodded decisively and tapped his foot twice. Venusaur grunted as if in affirmation, taking a strong stance that was perfect for dodging. They waited, the gleaming star in the sky and the sculpted beast on the sunbaked earth.

    Max smirked. ‘He’s taking the bait. Alright, time for part two.’ “Dive into an Aerial Ace!”

    Braviary screamed earthward, plummeting so fast that he appeared as little more than a white streak across the sky. His wings flared out wide, sending shearing wind currents streaming off his back as he flew, aiming straight for Venusaur with full speed and power. Vincent’s mouth opened to give a fast order, but Max was certain that there was nothing he could do.

    “Power Whip and jump!”

    Max’s mind went blank. ‘Wait, what?’

    Venusaur’s mighty vines cracked into the dirt, pushing him into the air and just above the incoming Braviary’s trajectory. As they passed, the powerful streams of wind cut into his body, but also hurled him higher and spun him around, giving him a perfect shot at Braviary’s back.


    With a loud pulsing sound, a massive beam of greenish-white power nearly ten feet wide erupted from the flower on Venusaur’s back, screaming forth directly into Braviary’s path. The large warbird vanished entirely as he was engulfed by the Solarbeam, and as it impacted the ground it exploded in a massive dome of energy nearly thirty feet wide. The explosion sent out a massive shockwave that threw May and Max off their feet and made Vincent stumble, while shattered rock and dirt from the blast was thrown high into the air. Eventually, the burst faded into nothing, revealing a massive crater easily thirty-five feet wide and six feet deep in the ground. Braviary lay at the center of the crater, swirls in his eyes and energy burns on his body signifying his defeat.

    Venusaur landed near Max with a sold crunch of cracking earth, then sagged in pain with a deep moan. Despite having avoided the worst of the attack, just being brushed with it had cut deeply into his body, and combined with the earlier hit from the Aerial Ace and the backlash from the Wing Attack recoil, he was definitely hurting. However, he was still standing, marking him as the winner of the match.

    May and Max both climbed shakily back to their feet, and May swept out her left flag towards Vincent. “Braviary is unable to battle! Venusaur is the winner!” she announced decisively. “And so, the winner of this gym battle is the challenger, Vincent Ardens from Saffron City!”

    Max stared for a few seconds, then shook himself out of his stupor and sighed. ‘That was brilliant. He tapped his foot to give a nonverbal order to Venusaur, and then he pulled off the perfect dodge, just far enough away to avoid a finishing blow and just close enough to use the power of the combo to spin Venusaur around.’ “Well… I don’t think I’ve ever lost a battle that convincingly since I went through the Ever Grande Conference for the first time,” he said with a small smile. “Congratulations, Vincent.”

    Vincent closed his eyes and took a deep breath, and as he exhaled years of tension seemed to slide off his frame. He opened his eyes again and grinned at Max, a real grin with real emotion behind it. “Thanks Max. That was the best battle I’ve had in years.”

    Max chuckled as he walked over to the crater a ways behind Vincent and recalled his battered Braviary with a few choice words of thanks. Vincent likewise recalled his Venusaur, and then walked over to Max with a genuine smile still on his face. Max couldn’t help but smile back, pulling out a black and white piece of metal in the shape of a barbell and placing it in Vincent’s hand. “Here. The Balance Badge. You’ve earned it.”

    At Max’s words, Vincent’s expression froze on his face for a few seconds, emotions flickering through his eyes too fast to follow before he settled on a slightly wistful expression with barely a trace of a smile. “…yeah,” he murmured after a few seconds, staring down at the badge in his palm. “Thanks, Max.”

    Max filed away the odd reaction with all the other facets of Vincent’s persona that were poking at the back of his mind. “As I said, you earned it.” He walked over to May, nodding over his shoulders. “Come on, I’ll see you out.”

    “No need,” Vincent replied, slipping the badge into one of his seemingly limitless suit pockets and pulling out another Pokéball. He flicked it into the air, releasing a green and red wyvern-like Pokémon in a flash of light. “Flygon can take me back to Rustboro from here.”

    Max nodded, hiding his irritation at not getting to ask Vincent some questions to satisfy his burning curiosity. Vincent leapt up onto Flygon’s back, and flew off over the trees with a tired, but friendly wave.

    Max turned back away and motioned for May to follow. As he trudged back down to the actual gym itself, he tried his best to organize his thoughts about that mysterious challenger.

    May opened the door to the gym and followed Max inside, while he moved to the Pokéball transporter in the corner and set Kangaskhan and Braviary’s Pokéballs on it before sending them to the Pokémon Center.

    “Max?” May called questioningly, snapping him out of his musings. “Are you okay?”

    “Fine,” he said, rubbing at the mild, fading burns on his arms. “Just… confused.”

    His sister was silent for a few moments, then she locked eyes with him and spoke. “You felt it too?”

    Max wasn’t surprised; May had always been more perceptive than him, even if he was more knowledgeable. “Yes. I’m not sure who, but Vincent Ardens reminds me of someone. His mannerisms, his battle style, his… emotional responses. Everything about him gives me mild déjà vu, and I have no idea why.”

    May remained silent for another few moments, then she replied distractedly, like her attention was focused elsewhere while she talked. “Vincent kind of reminds me of him.” Max heard the barest emphasis on the word, not enough for anyone else to pick up on. May continued, “He fights just like him, just more polished and with more planning. He cares for his Pokemon just as much, and just as fiercely. And his voice… something in the way he talks, and his tone of voice just screams at me that they’re the same person.” Her hands clenched at her sides, then her arms came up to wrap around her torso. “He can’t be him though. He’s too controlled, his eyes just lie and it’s like he doesn’t feel anything without getting provoked.” Her voice cracked and she started shaking slightly. “He’s colder, and more sarcastic, and his eyes are just wrong.”

    Max stepped forward slowly, careful not to make any sudden movements, and placed a hand on her shoulder. She stiffened, but otherwise didn’t react to the contact. “May, stop. Breathe.” A small hiccupping gasp came from her, and Max frowned. “Again, May. Deep breaths, nice and slow.” A nod, then a few shallow breaths, slowly deepening as time passed. Max pulled her into a hug, slowly rubbing circles on her back as she gradually calmed down. “Better?”

    May raised her head until her eyes met his, and Max could see clearly that she was on the barest verge of a panic attack. “He’s not him. He can’t be him,” she said, gaze glassy and unfocused.

    He nodded, pulling her back into his shoulder. “That’s right May. That’s not him. It’s Vincent Ardens. Vincent.”

    “Vincent… yes…” she murmured, then sighed, holding back a sob as her voice wavered. “Thank you, Max. For being here for me.”

    “Always, May. You’re my sister.”

    She pulled away, wiping at her watery eyes and walking unsteadily towards the referee podium. “Back to work, then,” she said in a quiet voice.

    “Are you sure?” Max asked. “If you need time, I can close the gym for the day.”

    She shook her head. “No. It’s… easier, if I can focus on something else. Working is a good distraction.”

    The Petalburg Gym Leader sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. It wasn’t healthy for her to do this, and he knew it. But he also knew that she wouldn’t be able to work through her memories without real help and a lot of time. “Alright, May. If you’re sure.”

    He headed out front, ready to await the next challenger for the morning.


    Vincent practically stumbled into his small hotel room in Rustboro City, his hands shaking and his breathing slightly ragged. “Damn it,” he said under his breath, his voice deepening into a growl. “That was stupid. I knew it was easier to get worked up in a gym battle and what do I do? I not only agree to it, but I tick Max off and make him fight me at full strength not once, but twice!”

    He restrained himself, knowing that if he punched something in this state it’d probably be broken beyond repair. He trudged over to the bathroom, pulling off his suit jacket and tie and leaving them on the reclining chair near the bathroom wall. Under his white dress shirt, faint golden circles seemed to glow around his shoulders and at the edge of the waistband of his pants. The golden earrings in his ears seemed to be glowing even brighter, and his eyes burned like bloody rubies in the darkened room.

    Vincent tromped into the bathroom, not even bothering to turn on the light. He leaned forward over the sink, staring at his reflection in the mirror. “This was such a bad idea,” he whispered, his breath fogging up the glass. “I can’t protect them if I’m too worried about keeping myself in check. I have no idea why you even sent me out here. I don’t anything about them now except from briefing and files. And they don’t know who I am. I can’t do anything like this.”

    Vincent knew full well that he wouldn’t be able to play bodyguard for any length of time. He was a weapon now, not a shield. He was supposed to be pointed at his enemies and used to destroy them. But a weapon couldn’t help them right now. They needed a shield, or better yet, a real defender.

    “So I won’t go out of my way to help them. As long as they're alive, as long as they’re safe… that’ll have to be enough.”

    The words rang hollow. He would always try to help them, to help anyone in need. That was his burden… and his curse.

    He sighed, leaving the bathroom and lying down on his bed without getting undressed. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep, mind still stuck on his biggest fear.

    ‘I’m not fit to help anyone…’

    Author's Notes:

    - This chapter is essentially a glimpse at May's mindset, a chance to see a grown-up Max, and some introduction for one of the main plot points of the story. The battle is somewhat filler, but it does give some insight on Max and Vincent's tactics, and it's cool. The tension it causes is also a good excuse to introduce another plot point. So take that for what you will.

    - This is somewhat poorly edited, particularly the latter half. So if you guys could point out mistakes, or things that you think are mistakes, then that would be awesome.

    - Nothing else, really. Anything else, I can answer in reviews.

    Cheers, and fire away guys. Please read and review!
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  10. ThatOneQuilava

    ThatOneQuilava Well-Known Member

    So, it's twenty-five after two in the morning and I'm tired...

    Anyway, that was a great chapter. As you stated, the battle scene was mostly filler, but it did keep me entertained. It was also nice to see the extent at which the loss of Ash has impacted the lives of both May and Max... On that note, I love the dark vibes of this story, especially the part at the end, with Vincent, in his room. I've always been one for the shady, secretive stories.

    On a more "technical" level, I had no problems with understanding the story. Everything was coherent and made sense. Grammatically, everything looked fine, but my tired eyes may have looked over some things.

    All in all, a good late-night (or early-morning) read. Might as well throw me on the PM list.

    Good work.

  11. Sethern

    Sethern [Insert Cool Title]

    If only I could have been up at 2:20 the. I could review first. Now related to the story I enjoyed the battle scene, I also liked some of the backstory you gave Max, and I didn't mind the wait. I have an idea as to the Vincent question Vincent is the name I a person, people live in the real world, and ash trees are also in the real world. On a more serious note, I liked this chapter and enjoyed the moves you made up. Keep up the creativity.
  12. Midnightmoon6o2

    Midnightmoon6o2 "Tougher than you."


    Anyway I really love that Max is a gym leader, I mean I read a few before but somehow I love the way you have protrayed Max as a gym leader. His mature and wiser and he knows a lot of battle techniques but emotinally he could be a wreak like his sister, but because his sister is still suffering the 'lost' (oh yeah, cause we all know Ash isn't really gone) of Ash, he has to stay strong. He can't show emotions cause between him and May - Max is the one standing strong for them both. Think it as a role reversal like in the anime it was always May being strong for Max, here it is the other way around.

    The battle may be filler but it was entertaining. Normally I would skip battles cause they have nothing interesting in them but yours did. It showed us the style of Max and Vincent. It should us how their personality are translated onto the battle and how much certain life events have changed them.

    What I don't like (so far) is May not willing to move on or be a little stronger for herself and her brother. It is like she is so dependant on Max and Ash that if she loses Max she would be stuck in a pile of misery and confusion. But of course I know you'll handle this and towards the end she will become that strong and independent character the anime portrayed her as towards the end of the BF.

    I hardly noticed any mistake with grammar and spelling. So kudos to you. and thank you for the suittssss yeaaaa and just want to say Vincent isn't really a OC...is it? ;)
  13. Eon Master

    Eon Master Born from the Flames

    Good god, you are insane. I mean, I can stay up that late, but I hate doing it.

    Thought as much. Writing battles, in any series, is kind of my specialty anyway.

    Oh excellent. I wasn't sure how that sort of thing would go over for the readers. And it'll definitely continue as the story goes on.

    Eh, I'll probably give it another once-over eventually. No worries.

    Gladly. :)

    Ahh, no worries. It's all good.

    Good, good, and awesome. Thank you.

    Oh my god. I don't know whether to laugh or facepalm xD

    In all seriousness, I probably should've said that the meaning of his name is significant. If you ever have a serious answer, send it in PM form. No spoilers allowed!

    I only made up Burning Claw, lol. Everything else is a real move. But still, thank you.

    Granted, this is a month later than it was supposed to be.

    This is pretty much my characterization of Max in a nutshell. Also, it's partially because Max has always been the logical one. Sure, he had his outbursts in the show, but it was because he was a child and also because he wasn't very good at handling his emotions. So he covers it up with sarcasm and cold logic, while suppressing his emotional responses because he's not that good at dealing with them.

    Excellent, and thank you for noticing. This is really important, and I'm glad you picked up on it.

    Alright, this is a major point, so I feel inclined to go a bit more in-depth on my reasoning. Tbh, it's partially because May's love for Ash is unrequited. Remember, she loved Ash (she even stops just short of referring to him as "her lost love" in this chapter), and she never got the chance to tell him how she felt. Combined with the fact that she lost her love for one of the great anchors of her life (her love of being a coordinator and participating in Contests), she's very lost and confused. She has people and Pokémon who are willing to be there for her, but considering how she's lost two of the main anchors for her life and her sanity, she's rather understandably fragile. I can't say that I personally understand what she's going through, but I've had to go through something similar when my dad died and most of my friends couldn't handle being around me when I was depressed (we were only ten at the time). I can say with certainty that it took me a long time to pull myself back to my feet, and I doubt I'll ever go back to the way I was beforehand. It's similar for May. Despite the fact that she was at a better age for it (eighteen, at the time), she still lost the person she loved most and the greatest passion of her life. I don't think her broken bird tendencies are very surprising at this point, especially seeing as she's dealt with insecurity and self-doubt for almost her entire life, being the daughter of a gym leader who wasn't interested in Pokémon and later a rookie coordinator with a spark for Contests trying to break into a very tough social strata. Even at the end of the Kanto BF saga, she's still insecure over her defeats and reliant on others to snap her out of said insecurity. This is part of her character in my eyes; she's very strong-willed and independent, like you said. However, she also suffers from Heroic Self-Depreciation, constantly bringing herself down even as she improves. She's not Ash, who can just power through his doubts given enough time and motivation. May is more human in that she needs the support of others to stand tall, even if she's capable of standing on her own once she reaches that point. Given sufficient motivation, she is capable of putting aside her doubts. However, they'll always come back; maybe not in the same form, but they'll still be there. This has been shown time and time again in-series. Therefore, I feel justified in my current characterization of her. Don't worry too much, though. You are correct in assuming that she will improve. It's just a matter of how she gets there.

    If you did notice, please please please tell me. But thank you, regardless. Especially since this is un-beta'd. You're welcome. Not telling yet. As of right now, all you'll get one way or the other is hints. He could be a red herring, and I could just be setting you up. I'm mean enough to do that. ;)
  14. Midnightmoon6o2

    Midnightmoon6o2 "Tougher than you."

    Well after reading many fics it isn't that hard to pick up how a certain character and describe them. Normally I don't do it in reviews but you did such a good job at it I just had too. lol.

    Yes, I understand but what I'm worried is that she will stay in her emotional state for too long BUT I have faith in you and I'm sure you will make progress on this, it might be slow but progress is progress and I cannot complain about that.

    Also I love how you can make a 'OC' so interesting to read about. I'm doing that myself in a fic and its hard not to write a lot about them. What you've done with your OC is that you've given him a reason to be read and cared about and the relationship he has with both Max and May. It's really hard to get a compliment on a OC these days since once somebody reads a fanfic with a OC it nearly turns them off.

    Vincent is a fish? D: Biggest plot twist ever. D: lol.
  15. ChloboShoka

    ChloboShoka Writer

    Really entertaining chapter. I love the way Max has been given spotlight by being shown a more grown up self and the battle was enjoyable and I don't think it dragged on at all. :)
  16. ThatOneQuilava

    ThatOneQuilava Well-Known Member

    Max: Who are you? Tell me now!

    Vincent: Fine, if I must. I am... *rips off suit in a Team Rocket-esque fashion* MAGIKARP KARP KARP!!

    *Bom bom bombombom bom*

    Haha, but on a more serious note, I also agree with Midnight. Your 'OC', Vincent, is a very interesting character. He definitely keeps the audience captivated, for sure.

    Midnightmoon6o2 likes this.
  17. Eon Master

    Eon Master Born from the Flames

    Ok, point of order to soothe my irritation. Why do all of you keep putting OC in quotes when referring to Vincent? There's very little evidence to support any conclusion at this point, so why are you all so adamant that he is Ash, or some other canon character? Sure, hints. But nothing more. And frankly, if you actually read the chapter, there are some hints that could potentially condemn that theory entirely. Vincent has some slight resemblance to Ash, and most of the points are shown by someone who is emotional to the point of irrationality. So I really can't see why you're banking on this so quickly. Remember, I am mean. My plot twists are often whiplash-inducing, and sometimes I'm quite willing to go out of my way to point you in the wrong direction.

    ...also, bowing to popular opinion, I may make an omake in which Vincent is a fish-man. Just because you all seem to love it so much xD Quil, you in particular have made me die laughing. In the middle of my lunch break. I hope you're proud of yourself.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  18. Midnightmoon6o2

    Midnightmoon6o2 "Tougher than you."

    And then Vincent uses Splash. It's super effective...wait-

    And to answer your question Eon Master, we do that because we are unsure, with the hints implied by you we have to be careful, we are readers after all so if Vincent is really a OC or not we cannot tell. Of course when the times comes and everything is explained in due time we'll stop. Be glad you have us guessing and putting our own theories of who Vincent is really, or where are May and Max's parents while they were are the battle (that was just an example. You don't have to answer that) and so on. And sometimes people just put it there because somebody older has.

    Haha, I didn't expect a silly comment by me would lead this far. It was just a joke
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  19. Eon Master

    Eon Master Born from the Flames

    Fair points. I do tend to overreact sometimes. Thanks for clearing that up, Midnight. And I am glad that you guys are guessing, which is why I was annoyed (because it seemed like you were just dismissing Vincent as Ash out of hand). I'm actually pretty bad with people xD

    And it wasn't just a silly joke, it was brilliant. Vincent-as-Magikarp-Man-Omake will happen eventually. Count on it xD
  20. Midnightmoon6o2

    Midnightmoon6o2 "Tougher than you."

    Don't be too bother by it. As a writer as myself I love when people say that 'this character is Ash's father' and then ten chapters later I troll them and it isn't. Personally sometimes the ideas readers come up from reading your stories can actually be better than what the writer plans. This has happened to me many times. Oh trust me I'm bad with people as well. In person I stutter and I mutter - the whole works. Somehow on the internet I portray myself as some confident kid - oh how wrong they are.

    Haha alright. Do what you like. xD I guess I'll be looking forward to it. lol.

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