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Emerald Knights: A Pokémon Sword Story Chapter 20

Chapter 20: Rival vs. Rival

The smell of cooking meat coming from the billycan was sensational. It was enough to make Ashley's mouth water as she gave the contents a stirring. Boy was she looking forward to eating this when it was done!

After defeating Marnie and winning the Dark Badge, Ashley had gone back to Route 9 to wait for Paul to finish in the Spikemuth Gym so he could battle her like they'd arranged. Paul had wanted this battle for a while now so Ashley was up for finally letting it happen. To her surprise, he seemed to be taking longer than expected. Was he getting held up in Spikemuth or something? She thought he'd have defeated Marnie and been back by now. She hoped it had nothing to do with Team Royal.

In the meantime, she'd decided to pass the time by cooking dinner for herself and her Pokémon. She'd heard much about Galar's famous curry recipes and had decided to try it for herself. This region was always going on about how good they tasted so she had to see if they were everything they were hyped up to be. She'd chosen to make a Spicy Burger Curry for burgers were her favourites and she was a huge fan of spicy foods. The hotter, the better in her opinion. She'd mixed the burgers in with plenty of Tamato Berries to give it that spicy taste she loved and it was making a smell so wonderful that she wondered how she was managing to restrain herself from scoffing it down right now. It only took a couple more minutes and the curry was finally ready. She plated a portion for herself and gave a portion to each of her Pokémon.

Ashley gathered up a portion of curry on her spoon, blew on it to cool it down and popped it into her mouth. She let the taste settle for a moment before chewing. The spice from the Tamato Berries and the juices from the burger and the flavour of the rice combined together to make a sensational mix that made her moan with pleasure.

"This…is…AMAZING!" Ashley exclaimed, "Wow! Why don't we get stuff like this back home?! Galar sure has great food on offer, especially their trademark curries!"

She gobbled the lot up eagerly. This was probably the best thing she'd ever tasted. She had to make this again next time she and her Pokémon were having some downtime. The Unovan teen looked over to see that her Pokémon were enjoying the curry too. Her Emboar especially couldn't get enough of the spicy taste and was already asking for more. Trust the fiery swine to always want seconds! Ashley gave Emboar a second helping as she finished her own plateful. She was just wondering again about Paul and how long it seemed to be taking him to get here until she suddenly heard a voice speaking to her.

"Hey Ashley! What are you cooking? It smells amazing!"

It hadn't been Paul speaking but that didn't matter for Ashley turned around to see he was there anyway. To her surprise, he had come with Emerald and Sapphire by his side. They must've come from Spikemuth Town too. Emerald looked pleased to see her while Sapphire had that bashful look on her face again. Paul just had his usual blank expression for Ashley was just another trainer to battle for him, not a friend by any stretch. Ashley got to her feet and beamed brightly.

"Hey girls! It's been a while!" she said cheerfully, "How's it going? Did you get your Dark Badges yet?"

"I have but Sapph hasn't." Emerald explained, "She was VERY keen to see you again." she added, grinning impishly.

"Shut up Em!" Sapphire hissed, blushing in embarrassment.

"I can't say I'm surprised that she'd rather see me again then get a Gym Badge." Ashley teased, making Sapphire look away sheepishly, "So Paul, what kept ya? I thought you'd be chompin' at the bit to battle me." she asked, looking at Paul.

"These two interrupted my battle due to discovering that Team Royal was hiding in Spikemuth." Paul explained, "We managed to capture everyone hiding there and get things back in order. I won my badge and then Emerald asked me if I wanted to watch her battle Marnie, so I did. And now we're here, we can have the battle you arranged for us." he muttered.

Emerald rolled her eyes. Just like Paul to be so blunt and to the point. Ashley was surprised to hear that they'd run into Team Royal again, her blue eyes wide with astonishment.

"They were hiding there the whole time and I never noticed?!" she exclaimed, "Thank god you three found em' when you could! Has Ruby found their leaders yet?" she asked, addressing the twins.

"Not yet but I doubt she'll have much trouble now." Emerald put in, "She's discovered all of Team Royal's hideouts and has invaded them all. If anything, I bet Sordward and Shielbert's whereabouts have been significantly narrowed down."

"I sure hope so, cause it'd suck if they tried anything funny before the big tournament over in Wyndon." Ashley muttered, "Still, I have every faith in your sister that she'll find them. In the meantime, you two are welcome to watch me and Paul battle and if yer hungry, I have some curry left in the pot so help yourselves." she offered.

"Oh I'm not saying no to that! I LOVE curry!" Emerald said excitedly.

"And I'd be happy to watch you in battle, beautiful." Sapphire said. She gasped in horror as it suddenly dawned on her what she'd said and she hid her face behinds her hands in embarrassment.

"Oh Arceus, did I REALLY say that out loud?!" she muttered behind her hands.

"Don't sweat it. I actually appreciate it when people think that about me." Ashley said casually.

Sapphire relaxed, glad that Ashley didn't mind her making such comments. She sat down beside Emerald and helped herself to some leftover curry. As the two took their seats, they noticed that Ashley's whole team of Pokémon were out on display as they'd been having their dinner too. They stared in amazement at the selection the Champion had with her right now. Her current roster had her starter and personal ace, Emboar of course, alongside Braviary, Golurk, Gigalith, Chandelure and Druddigon. All of them were native to the Unova region and also lived in Galar, except for Druddigon for that species lived in the Isle of Armour and not the mainland. Emerald and Sapphire recognized all of them.

"Wow, look at all those Pokémon!" Emerald cried, "So many powerhouses on offer here!"

"You've sure been busy." Sapphire commented, "Catching all of those Pokémon over time and evolving them all. How did you get that Druddigon?" she asked curiously, "They're not found in the main area of Galar itself."

"I got lucky and someone traded it to me." Ashley explained, "And a good thing too as this a species I've always had a soft spot for. They may be slow but they make up for it by being right badass powerhouses!" she declared.

Her Druddigon punched the air as if agreeing with her. Druddigon were Dragon-type Pokémon that had a blue scaly body, a red scaly head, long arms with spikes on the shoulders and lower arms, short wings that were no good for flying with and yellow eyes. Druddigon were single-stage Pokémon, unable to evolve into anything else, not that they needed it as they were pretty strong enough on their own with ferocious attack power and a wide selection of moves they could learn. Sapphire knew that should she visit the Isle of Armour, she had to catch one herself. It looked awesome and like it could pack quite a punch.

Ashley returned all her Pokémon to their Pokéballs and turned to Paul. Emerald and Sapphire sat with their eyes fixed on the two while spooning curry into their mouths. They were very excited. What could be more awesome than watching their rivals give it a go? It'd give them some idea on what to expect from Paul and Ashley when the inevitable time to face them in the semi-finals came. They could see what kind of Pokémon they had on offer and what they could do, which would give them useful information on how to possibly counter them when their turn to fight again came. Ashley stood in front of the nearby tunnel that linked Route 9 to Route 7 while Paul stood opposite her. Sapphire took a moment to admire her crush. How cool and beautiful she looked standing there with that confident smile on her face and ready for action! She especially couldn't help staring at her long, shapely legs as she took up a battle-ready stance. Man did those shorts provide a generous view of them! She imagined that a lot of other boys and girls were drawn to those legs too.

The two trainers from distant regions stared each other down. Both Paul and Ashley looked calm and collected standing opposite each other. Somehow just watching them face each other was enough for the twins to feel the tension build-up on the battlefield. This battle was going to be explosive! The experienced trainer who finished in the quarter finals of the Sinnoh League up against the current Champion of Unova. The only way this would be even cooler is if Ashley was fighting Ruby right now. The two sisters held their breath, waiting for the first Pokémon to be chosen.

"As you asked for Paul, this will be a full battle." Ashley announced, "We keep on goin' until one side loses all six Pokémon. You may have the first choice."

"Thanks." Paul replied, "Rillaboom, standby for battle!" he yelled, throwing his first Pokéball.

His Rillaboom came out of its Pokéball and roared ferociously, pounding its chest in anticipation for the battle ahead. Ashley smirked, already knowing that she could take advantage of Paul's first choice.

"Emboar, time to fight!" she yelled, throwing her first Pokéball.

The twins were aghast. So the two trainers were using their starters first! What an awesome way to start the battle! The fiery pig against the grassy gorilla. This was one of those match-ups that sounded too awesome for words. Emerald couldn't help but worry for Paul for the match-up certainly wasn't in his favour.

"Not good for Paul." Emerald murmured between mouthfuls of curry, "Emboar's got the type-advantage here and we know from your first fight with her that it's a beast in battle!"

"I have a feeling Paul may have taught his Rillaboom a move to mitigate that problem." Sapphire said observantly, "He's the kind of guy that does his homework when training Pokémon."

Emerald agreed. The strategies he'd put into play against Ash in the Sinnoh League was proof enough of that. They would now see for themselves how Paul's Rillaboom would fare up to Ashley's Emboar.

"Alright buddy, use Sucker Punch!" Ashley yelled, determined to land the first hit.

"Use Taunt!" Paul yelled to his Rillaboom.

The twins stared as Rillaboom taunted Emboar. The bulky pig Pokémon frowned in annoyance as Rillaboom taunted him. But curiously enough, Emboar didn't do anything. The Sucker Punch never landed. Emerald was confused at this. Why wasn't Emboar attacking? Taunt just stopped it from using status moves, not from attacking whatsoever! Ashley grunted in annoyance while Paul smirked with pleasure.

"I knew you would use that. I've noticed from your battles that you always have Emboar use Sucker Punch to make up for its poor speed." Paul explained, "However, Sucker Punch only works if the opponent is preparing to attack, so I made sure my Rillaboom had a move that wasn't an attack for such an occasion."

Emerald understood what had happened now. Clever Paul to foil Ashley's Sucker Punch strategy like that! Sapphire made a mental note to keep that in mind for the next time she battled Ashley. She'd sure spoil that plan just as Paul did!

"Heh, very clever." Ashley muttered, "I guess I'm so confident in myself that I've made myself predictable. I better fix that for the future. Use Flame Charge!" she yelled.

Emboar stomped on the ground repeatedly until he created a cloud of dust that surrounded him, grunting loudly. Then he emerged from the dust cloud, surrounded by a cloak of blazing flames as if someone had dumped gasoline on Emboar and set it alight. Emboar thundered towards Rillaboom like a fiery meteor about to crash into Earth. Rillaboom held up its hands to try and block the attack. Emboar slammed into him, the sheer force of its attack pushing Rillaboom back. Despite that, the grassy ape held its ground and dug its heels in, trying to ignore the intense burning in its hands as Emboar's flames threatened to incinerate them. Emerald stared open-mouthed at the blazing display before her. Paul's Rillaboom must've underwent serious and intense training to be able to stand up to that kind of power, especially with a type-disadvantage! Eventually, the pain was too much and Rillaboom couldn't hold Emboar back any longer. The blazing swine knocked it down and sent it skidding back towards Paul. Emboar returned to his side of the field, flexing its muscles and snorting with triumph. Then his body flashed orange as Flame Charge's side effect boosted his speed. Now he would move a little faster than before, which could give Paul some more trouble.

Rillaboom stood up again, its hands scorched and blackened by the Flame Charge but otherwise it looked ready to carry on fighting. Satisfied, Paul ordered Rillaboom to use Earthquake. Sapphire hummed to herself, not at all surprised that she'd accurately guessed that Paul had taught his Rillaboom a move to cover its Fire weakness. She knew that Rillaboom were capable of learning moves such as Earthquake to deal with that problem so now they'd see if it would work. Rillaboom raised its powerful arms and brought them crashing down onto the ground. As its hands hit, a powerful shockwave ripped its way through the terrain and surged straight towards Emboar. It was as if all the energy in Rillaboom had leapt out of its body and was tearing through the earth to hit its opponent. But to Sapphire's amazement, Ashley didn't look worried. If anything, she'd been EXPECTING that move! She was smiling confidently as if everything was proceeding how she'd envisioned it!

"Use Rollout to ride up the Earthquake!" Ashley commanded.

Emerald and Sapphire both stared in astonishment as Emboar proceeded to do just that. He curled up into a ball and started rolling towards the Earthquake as it threatened to smash the fire pig to pieces. Emboar bounced up into the air as a finger of earth flicked up from the Earthquake and sent him skyrocketing, the force of the attack carrying it further. The twins couldn't believe their eyes. They'd literally just seen that exact same move being pulled off back in Spikemuth Gym! Had Ashley seen Marnie to that with Morpeko and in response, had now trained Emboar to do the same? Even Paul was speechless, unable to believe what he was seeing. But he quickly shook it off and realized that Ashley had made a big mistake. Emboar was up in the air, meaning he was vulnerable to an attack from his Pokémon. As Emboar came down, Paul gave his next command.

"Use Acrobatics!" he cried.

Ashley gasped. So Paul's Rillaboom had type coverage for Fighting-types too! This wouldn't go well for her Emboar as he was part Fighting-type! Rillaboom jumped up after the plummeting Emboar, its body outlined in white and moving so fast that it was leaving afterimages behind. Rillaboom slugged Emboar in the face with a terrific uppercut that would've taken a person's head off. Then it started to wail heavily on Emboar, striking him over and over at great speeds. Acrobatics was a strong attack but it did even more damage if the opponent wasn't holding an item, which made things even worse for Emboar. Emerald and Sapphire could barely even see Rillaboom move with how fast it was attacking. Then Rillaboom finished off by clasping both fists together and slamming them into Emboar's gut. The scorching hog was knocked down onto the ground heavily, Ashley nearly falling over as the impact made the ground shudder beneath her feet. Rillaboom landed, smirking as if knowing it had won the fight. Emboar didn't have great defences so surely that attack would've finished him off! Even the twins were convinced the fight was over.

But to everyone's surprise…Emboar got back up again! The Fire/Fighting Pokémon picked himself up and brushed himself off. He didn't even look badly hurt despite that powerful attack! Ashley folded her arms and smirked at Paul, clearly enjoying the surprise on his face.

"This ain't any normal Emboar. I specially bred this one to take a hit." she explained, "He won't go down that easily."

Sapphire remembered back when they first met that she'd said the Tepig she'd come to Galar with was bred from the Emboar she'd used to win the Unova League with back home. Bred Pokémon could potentially have greater stats than their parents so it made sense why this Emboar seemed to be more endurable than the species normally would be. Now Emboar was standing again, Ashley ordered her starter to use another Flame Charge. Emboar rocketed towards Rillaboom, bathed in flames once more. Due to his earlier speed boost, it was moving faster than before. Rillaboom tried to block it again but it was useless. Emboar came in too quick this time and landed a clean shot onto his opponent. Rillaboom was thrown off its feet by the attack and it landed down hard on its back. It didn't get up again. Rillaboom lay where it was, unconscious and burnt from the attacks. Emboar snorted with triumph, pleased with his incredible win. Sapphire clapped for Ashley while Emerald cheered in amazement.

"Wow! That was incredible! Great job Emboar!" Sapphire applauded.

"That was some fight!" Emerald cried, "And that was just their first Pokémon! I can hardly breathe with how exciting this is getting!"

Emboar just grinned in appreciation at the twins. He loved it when people complimented his power. Paul returned Rillaboom to its ball and exchanged it for another. The Sinnoh teen knew that this battle was far from over. He was still in for a chance.

"Drednaw, standby for battle!" he yelled.

The twins watched as Drednaw materialized into view. That was a much better match-up for Paul as Drednaw was a Water/Rock type Pokémon. This time Paul had the type-advantage but once again, it depended on how skilled Ashley was. This was no ordinary trainer Paul was competing against, this was a legitimate Champion! Type advantage wouldn't mean much against a trainer as powerful and as skilled as Ashley so the fight was far from set in stone. Emerald and Sapphire could only watch as the two trainers were about to make their first move.

"Emboar, return!" Ashley cried, whipping out his Pokéball to return it.

Sapphire couldn't blame her crush. Why keep Emboar out when he was already weakened from Rillaboom's Acrobatics attack earlier and it was at a disadvantage against Drednaw? But then something happened that threw a spanner in the works for the Champion.

"Use Jaw Lock!" Paul ordered.

Drednaw charged towards Emboar and bit it hard on the arm just as Ashley was about to return it. The red return beam from her Pokéball was broken up as Drednaw sank its teeth into Emboar. The Fire/Fighting Pokémon screeched in pain and shook his arm to try and shake Drednaw loose. Ashley stared incredulously. Why was Emboar still in play?! She tried to return her starter again but curiously, nothing happened. She tried a third time but Emboar still wouldn't return to his Pokéball. Her eyes narrowed as realization settled in.

"So is this your plan, Paul? You want to force Emboar to stay in battle so I can't recall him?" she said accusingly.

"Exactly." Paul sneered, "I knew you'd try and recall Emboar so I had Drednaw use Jaw Lock to stop it from happening. It's one of its signature moves and it prevents an opponent from switching their Pokémon out so Emboar's stuck until either it or Drednaw faints."

The twins nodded as Paul explained. Of course they both knew this about Drednaw. Ruby had her own which she'd nicknamed "Chomps" and had taught her that move some time ago. They had to give Paul credit on being clever and using that move to force Ashley to be stuck at a disadvantage. But would it actually benefit Paul in the long run?

"Let go of Emboar and use Liquidation!" Paul commanded.

Drednaw released its opponent and jumped back so it could get a good distance away to use its attack. Drednaw surrounded its head with water and charged towards Emboar, showing surprising speed for being a tortoise-based Pokémon. It looked as if it had been blasted out of a cannon towards its opponent. But then came the very command that Sapphire predicted was coming from Ashley.

"Use Grass Knot!" the Unovan girl ordered.

Sapphire wasn't surprised to see that Emboar still knew that move. She'd taught it that move back when it was a Tepig precisely to deal with Water types. As Drednaw came hurling towards the fire pig Pokémon, Emboar summoned a couple of grassy vines that tied themselves into a knot and wound around Drednaw's leg. It tripped over the vines and crashed down heavily onto the ground, skidding to a painful halt. The water around it disappeared, no Liquidation attack coming for Emboar now. It was bad for Drednaw as not only did it have a double weakness to Grass, but it was quite heavy too. Grass Knot did more damage depending on how heavy the opponent was and Drednaw's great weight was enough for the Grass Knot to be crippling. It was even struggling to get back up again after that. It pushed on all four of its limbs to try and get up and continued fighting. It was straining heavily and it could barely so much as lift its stomach off the ground. While it was weakened, Ashley wasted no time seizing the chance to take it out before it could fight on.

"Let's not give it a moment to get up again!" Ashley declared, "Take it out with Rollout!"

Emboar curled into a ball and rolled towards Drednaw just as it was finally back up on its feet again. It zoomed across the battlefield like a runaway boulder and before Drednaw could prepare itself, Emboar crashed into it. That single move was enough to finish the battle. Drednaw was knocked aside by Emboar and left lying flat on its stomach, groaning as it couldn't fight any longer. Paul was disappointed. He'd hoped using a Water Pokémon would've done the job. But he knew that it wouldn't be as easy as that as he was battling a Champion. He was even impressed with how strong her Pokémon were and how skilled she was in the heat of battle. Ashley had well-earned that Champion title!

"No way, Ashley still won despite a type-disadvantage?!" Emerald cried, dropping her spoon full of curry in shock.

"That Grass Knot really does mess up any Water type trying to take Emboar down." Sapphire said grimly, thinking back to how Ashley had used it against James Pond back in the Budew Drop Inn.

"I wonder if Paul will ever defeat him." Emerald said thoughtfully.

Her rival returned Drednaw and exchanged its Pokéball for another one. Two Pokémon down while Ashley still had all six remaining. Not good so far. But Emboar had been weakened so he couldn't go on much further. This would be when he finally took him down!

"Aggron, standby for battle!" Paul yelled as he sent out his third Pokémon.

Seeing Aggron again gave Emerald an overwhelming sense of joy. She still remembered how Paul had used it to save her from being kidnapped back in the Wild Area so it was impossible not to see it and be happy to do so. She doubted she'd be able to fight it should the time come but at least now she wasn't the one about to battle it. Emerald looked over at Ashley, curious to see what she was going to do next. With Drednaw defeated, Ashley was able to return Emboar to his Pokéball now its Jaw Lock effect was gone. She saw no need to keep him out when he was weakened and had no super-effective moves to use against Aggron. Now the twins could see who was coming next.

"Gigalith, time to fight!" Ashley shouted, throwing her next Pokéball.

The powerful Rock-type Gigalith materialized out of its Pokéball and roared viciously. Emerald and Sapphire remembered watching Ruby go up against Raihan's Gigalith in her Gym Battle at Hammerlocke City last year and thought it a very cool looking Pokémon. Sometime later, Ruby had even managed to evolve her Boldore, nicknamed Matilda, into a Gigalith and had used her a few times in Championship battles. They were keen to see how Ashley's fared up. On paper, Aggron had the advantage due to Rock-types being weak against Steel-types but Gigalith was able to learn Ground attacks to make up for that so maybe Ashley's would have that kind of coverage. Paul made the first move.

"Use Iron Head!" he commanded.

Aggron lowered its head and stampeded towards Gigalith. The iron dinosaur-like Pokémon's twin horns were pointed straight ahead like a pair of swords aiming to stab down into their target. Gigalith stood its ground, refusing to be intimidated by its opponent. Just as Aggron was about to land its attack, Ashley commanded the rocky Pokémon to use Iron Defence. Gigalith's body glowed grey as it activated Iron Defence. It was clear that Ashley was banking on Gigalith tanking as many hits as possible to try and wear Aggron down. Iron Defence boosted a Pokémon's defences and Gigalith itself already had extremely tough defences so now Aggron would have a harder time taking it down. The Steel/Rock Pokémon even felt it as its Iron Head landed on its opponent. Despite being super-effective, it may as well have been bashing its head against a mountain with how hard Gigalith felt. The Rock Pokémon didn't even flinch, effortlessly standing its ground and not moving a centimetre from its spot. Emerald winced, feeling like she was about to get a headache just from watching that.

"Oooooh, I bet that hurt…" she muttered.

"Looks like it hurt Aggron more than Gigalith." Sapphire observed, "Iron Defence really does wonders on toughening a Pokémon up, doesn't it?"

Aggron shook its head and growled. It'd take more than a defence boost to bring it down! Paul could see that Iron Head wasn't going to be of much use thanks to Gigalith's increased defences. All he'd do is have Aggron knock itself out if he wasn't careful. At least he had a long distance move he could pull off instead.

"Use High Horsepower instead!" Paul cried.

Aggron's body glowed with an orange aura as it took aim and charged towards Gigalith. The ground shook with every footstep it took. Gigalith braced itself as Aggron came crashing into it with the force of a speeding truck slamming into a wall. High Horsepower was a stronger attack than Iron Head so despite Gigalith's increased Defences, it didn't resist Aggron quite as much. Unlike before, Aggron was able to shove it back a little with that single hit. Gigalith grunted but was otherwise still standing, far from done in this battle. Emerald and Sapphire expected Ashley to call an attack but instead, she subverted expectations by ordering Gigalith to use Stealth Rock. Gigalith lowered itself forwards and fired a bunch of rocks that shot up from its back and came hurling down towards Aggron. The steel dinosaur Pokémon watched as the rocks fell into place and surrounded it. They floated ominously like a swarm of bees waiting to attack. Paul frowned in annoyance. He remembered when Roark had used that tactic against him back in his first Sinnoh Gym Battle. His Onix had set up a Stealth Rock to give his Elekid and Chimchar some trouble, although he'd still come out on top in the end. If Ashley thought Stealth Rock would slow him down, she was gravely mistaken!

"Use High Horsepower one more time!" Paul ordered.

Aggron obeyed, launching itself towards Gigalith like a giant cannonball once again. However, at the same time, Ashley finally called an attack from Gigalith.

"Hit it with Earthquake before it hits you!" she screeched.

Gigalith raised its front legs high and slammed them down hard. Sapphire and Emerald nearly fell over onto each other, their empty plates falling off their laps with a clatter as the ground shook furiously from the two Ground attacks launching towards each other. The Earthquake tore its way towards Aggron, threatening to flatten anything in its path. With Aggron's double weakness to Ground, it would take a lot of damage if the Earthquake hit. But then at the last minute, Aggron jumped up and continued soaring towards Gigalith, looking very much like a steel-coated missile homing in on its target. The Earthquake tore past, kicking up stones and earth but missing completely as Aggron jumped over. Of course Paul had spent much time training Aggron up to avoid attacks like that! It only made sense that he'd do so! Ashley could only watch in disbelief as Aggron collided into Gigalith a second time. Clouds of dust kicked up as Gigalith was hit and knocked back and she was forced to close her eyes to prevent any of it from getting into them. For a moment everything was obscured by the dust. Then it started to clear and Ashley saw with a sinking heart that Gigalith hadn't been able to take the final blow. It lay flat on its stomach, completely knocked out by the hit. Emerald and Sapphire were impressed by the turnout.

"Whoa…I really thought Ashley was gonna pull off another win but nope, Paul gets it this time!" Emerald exclaimed.

"It was lucky for him he'd trained his Aggron to jump over Earthquakes like that." Sapphire deduced, "That could've gone badly if Gigalith had hit."

She looked over to her crush, wondering what she'd try next. Would she bring Emboar back out to give Aggron some trouble or use another Pokémon? The answer came quickly as Ashley returned Gigalith and exchanged it for her Chandelure. The Ghost/Fire Pokémon loomed ominously on the battlefield, staring vacantly at its opponent.

Chandelure was what its name implied, a Pokémon resembling a chandelier. It had a striped, round with yellow eyes that lacked pupils, a tongue of purple fire flickering from the top of its head, curled arms with two purple flames flickering on each end of them and its body and arms were black in colour. They were sinister Pokémon that had a habit of hypnotizing their victims by waving their flames around and then absorbing their spirits. To no one's surprise, they often hung out in dilapidated mansions due to the object they resembled. Emerald shivered. Chandelure was another Pokémon that gave her the creeps and Ashley's was no exception. But at the same time, she was puzzled.

"Hang on Sapph, why is Ashley bringing a Chandelure out? She knows that Fire-types are weak to Ground attacks, surely!" Emerald questioned.

"I have a feeling this isn't about type-advantage." Sapphire murmured, "Ashley clearly has some kind of plan in mind."

"Well she better hope it works because that Aggron will knock it down flat!" Emerald replied.

Even Paul shared Emerald's scepticism. He wouldn't have believed that a reigning Champion like Ashley could make a rookie mistake like sending a Fire-type to deal with an opponent that knew a Ground attack. He was certain Ashley was baiting him somehow, maybe trying to lure him into a false sense of security. He'd try to take it down quickly before Chandelure could pull anything.

"Hit it with Rock Slide!" Paul commanded.

Aggron dug its claws down into the ground and ripped up a bunch of rocks that it sent hurling towards Chandelure. The rocks were like Aggron's own set of missiles that had been programmed to launch towards the selected target, in this case its opponent. But Chandelure was a speedy Pokémon and demonstrated this marvellously by dodging all the rocks that came soaring towards it. The twins were beginning to see what Ashley's plan was. Bringing a fast Pokémon out to dodge attacks like that would keep Aggron on its toes and give it a harder challenge than it would've expected. After Chandelure dodged the Rock Slide, Ashley ordered it to use Fire Blast on its opponent. Chandelure's flames grew bigger and more ferocious as its Fire Blast attack built up. Even from where they were sat, the twins could feel the blazing heat. Then Chandelure took aim and fired, blasting Aggron with a huge tongue of flames in the shape of a five-pointed Japanese character. Despite Aggron not being weak to Fire attacks, it still did the damage as the Rock/Steel Pokémon had poor Special Defences so Special Attacks hit it pretty hard. Aggron grimaced from the scalding hot attack but it was still up and going. Chandelure hadn't managed to take it down just yet.

Now Chandelure was pretty close to Aggron, Paul ordered his Pokémon to slash it with Shadow Claw. Aggron drew its hand back, ghostly energy surrounding its claws. Emerald watched with interest. She saw now how Paul's Aggron had taken out Henry's Cofagrigus when he tried to kidnap her. She cried out in excitement as Aggron's claws raked across Chandelure. The chandelier Pokémon reeled back in pain, the ectoplasmic energy from Aggron's attack eating away at its health. It had been a powerful attack but Chandelure was still able to carry on. And then…it happened. Aggron suddenly burst into flames for a brief moment, crying out as its body was coated in flames. Emerald and Sapphire were so shocked at that sudden moment that their hearts skipped a beat. What was going on? Why had that happened? Ashley smiled, making it clear to her opponent and the twins that everything was going according to plan.

"Just what I was aiming for." she crowed, returning Chandelure to its Pokéball, "My Chandelure just happens to have the Flame Body ability. I wanted your Aggron to land a hit just so its ability would leave it with a burn, which will soften it up nicely for my next Pokémon."

It all made sense now. Chandelure had been true to the last part of its name, luring Paul into a trap that now left his Aggron with a burn. It would suffer extra damage from the burn and all its physical moves would only do half the damage from now on. Sapphire found herself admiring Ashley even more now. She was a true Champion, even down to forming excellent strategies to catch opponents off-guard and exploiting their weaknesses! Ashley then brought out her next Pokémon, the one that she said Chandelure had softened Aggron up for. Curiously, it was yet another Ghost-type with her Golurk being the next Pokémon to fight.

Golurk, a Ghost/Ground type Pokémon, looked like a giant statue with huge, bulky arms, large shoulders and thick, powerful legs. It had symbols on its hands and shoulders and a brown seal across a large crack across its chest. If this seal was ever removed, its power would run wild. Golurk was said to have been invented in ancient times to work as a labourer, protecting people and Pokémon everywhere. They were also known to obey trainer's orders without question, making them some of the most loyal Pokémon in the world. With this Pokémon and the dinosaur like Aggron in battle, it was almost like watching a kaiju battle from a Japanese movie.

Sapphire could see why Ashley had brought this one out. Aggron may have Shadow Claw to deal with Ghost-types but Golurk was half Ground-type, so it still had the advantage in this case, especially as Aggron had a double weakness to Ground. Also Aggron was suffering from a burn so Shadow Claw wouldn't do as much damage this time. Golurk would win this easily and Ashley proved it by ordering her first attack.

"Alright buddy, take that Aggron down with Hammer Arm!" the Unovan girl shouted.

That did it. Aggron also had a double weakness to Fighting-type attacks and Hammer Arm was one of the strongest moves of that type. And if that wasn't enough, Ashley's Golurk also happened to have the Iron Fist ability, an ability that boosted the power of punching moves! Not even Aggron's huge defences would stand up to an Iron Fist boosted Hammer Arm attack! Golurk plodded over to Aggron, looking very much like a loyal robot that had been programmed to kill. Its arm glowed with white energy as it took aim. Determined to land a hit before going down, Aggron lashed out with Shadow Claw. It slashed across Golurk's chest and briefly made it stagger back a little. But thanks to the damage done by burn, it didn't do anywhere near enough damage for it to be meaningful. Golurk quickly recovered and resumed its attack. The Hammer Arm came straight down on top of Aggron's head. Aggron grunted as it was hit and knocked down onto the ground. Weakened from Chandelure's earlier attack, Aggron was knocked out instantly by the boosted power of Golurk's Hammer Arm. The mighty Aggron lay defeated on the ground. As it had saved her back in the Wild Area, Emerald felt sorry to see it lose like this. But that was the nature of Pokémon battles, you fought until you couldn't anymore. At least Aggron had put up a great performance.

Paul returned his Pokémon.

"I see why you're the Champion of Unova." he complimented, "You're showing great strength and intelligence. I don't think I've had an opponent give me such a hard time since my last battle with Ash. But don't get comfortable yet. I'm far from done yet…"

"As if I'd underestimate a tough trainer like you." Ashley snorted.

She watched as Paul brought out his next Pokémon. This one was one that may have seemed a bad choice to bring out considering Golurk knew a Fighting attack, but at the same time it was a good choice for it had a type-advantage. Paul had summoned a Beartic, an Ice-type Pokémon native to Unova. It looked like a huge polar bear with a three pronged beard literally made of ice. It wasn't the first time Paul had used a bear-like Pokémon in his time for back home in Sinnoh, he'd caught an Ursaring. His Ursaring was among one of his most powerful Pokémon and had a habit of dealing out heavy hits while taking a lot of punishment in return. Upon entering, Beartic was immediately hit by the Stealth Rock that Gigalith had set up earlier. The rocks sliced into the Ice Bear Pokémon and made it grimace. As Ice-types were weak to Rock attacks, Beartic suffered quite a bit from the Stealth Rock. Not a good start for Paul. Emerald was sure he could still win regardless. After all, she'd managed to fight Sapphire to a draw despite her setting up an arena hazard so Paul could no doubt turn the fight against Ashley around in spite of that handicap! Also Ice-types were super-effective against Ground-types so that was a plus for Beartic.

"Use Hail!" Paul ordered.

Beartic opened its mouth and fired an icy blue beam up into the sky. The beam then exploded into a shower of hail that sprinkled down onto the ground. The air also seemed to get much colder too, which didn't help for Ashley as she was poorly dressed for the cold. She shivered as a chilling draught bit into her bare legs and arms. Emerald gasped. Sapphire had done that with her Froslass during their battle before Marnie's Gym! Did Paul's Beartic have an ability that benefitted from Hail or something? They soon got their answer as Paul then ordered Beartic to use Icicle Crash. Beartic conjured up a huge shard of ice out of its mouth and launched it straight at Golurk, almost like it was spitting at the automaton Pokémon. Not only had Beartic managed to move before Golurk could even attack, but it seemed to be moving surprisingly quickly as it fired the Icicle Shard. The icicle hit Golurk, knocking it back and nearly causing it to fall over. It flailed its arms wildly to keep its balance before it could fall over. Ashley was quite familiar with the Beartic species, actually owning one herself back home, so she knew what was happening. Paul's Beartic had an ability called Slush Rush. When it was hailing, its speed was increased thanks to this ability. Golurk was a slow Pokémon so it wouldn't keep up with a speed-boosted Beartic, not helped with Hail shaving away its health little by little. This was not looking good at all.

Refusing to admit defeat, Ashley ordered Golurk to use Shadow Punch. It wasn't super-effective but Ashley was aiming for accuracy. Shadow Punch NEVER missed so Beartic's increased speed wouldn't do a thing to out run it. Indeed as it tried to dodge, Golurk's shadow punch just followed it around like a heat seeking missile locked onto a particularly hot target until it eventually hit. Beartic winced from the attack, taking more damage than usual thanks to Shadow Punch getting a boost from Golurk's Iron Fist ability. Beartic shook off the pain and retaliated with another Icicle Crash attack. However, Ashley was ready for it this time. As the icicle came in, she ordered Golurk to use Hammer Arm to smash it to pieces before it could do any damage. With a well-aimed chopping manoeuvre, Golurk smashed the icicle to pieces, the icy fragments sprinkling down onto the ground. But then it saw that Beartic was no longer in front of it. It seemed to have vanished! It hadn't. It had instead jumped into the air as Golurk broke its Icicle Shard and now it was sailing down towards its opponent. With no way it could miss now, Beartic used Icicle Shard again as it was about to land back down. It was successful, the shard slamming straight into Golurk and knocking it down onto its back. Beartic stood by for further commands while Golurk lay still. Was it down and out? Ashley ordered Golurk to get back up. It didn't move. It was clear now that Beartic had won the battle. It roared triumphantly, pleased with its win.

"Wow, what a comeback!" Emerald exclaimed, "Beartic totally owned that match!"

"True but keep in mind Ashley has at least two Fire type to play with." Sapphire reminded her, "Beartic's pretty much dead I'd say. At the very least it won't last much longer."

She was right. As soon as Ashley returned Golurk, her immediate choice afterwards was to bring Emboar back out to play. He may have been weakened from the earlier battles with Rillaboom and Drednaw but Ashley was confident he still had it in him to win against Beartic. The fire pig and ice bear stared each other down, both itching to give it their all for this match. With Hail still in play, Beartic had its Slush Rush ability still giving it a speed boost, which didn't bode well for Emboar. But Ashley could mitigate that issue with Emboar's Flame Charge attack to give it a speed boost too. She ordered Emboar to do just that, aiming for a super-effective hit and a speed boost at the same time. Emboar charged towards Beartic, its body cloaked in flames once again. Beartic took advantage of its ability by dodging out of the way. Its increased speed now made it too fast for Emboar to hit. But that didn't stop Ashley. The Champion teen ordered Emboar to chase after Beartic as it was trying to run away. The twins stared in astonishment as the blazing hog changed direction and came after Beartic. They didn't know it was possible to use Flame Charge like THAT! Emboar homed in on Beartic, threatening to come in and melt it to the ground.

Emboar eventually caught up with Beartic and slammed into its back. The polar bear Pokémon cried out, its back scorched by the Flame Charge of its opponent. Beartic fell forward onto its back and skidded to a halt. But it wasn't down for long. Beartic got back up to its feet and retaliated with an attack that nobody had expected from it. Beartic was able to learn Play Rough, which was handy to cover its weakness to Fighting-types. A fairy mist conjured up around Emboar and Beartic pounced on the fiery swine, lashing out with its clawed hands and pounding on Emboar over and over. Play Rough was already a powerful attack and if that wasn't enough to make life hard for Ashley's starter, Play Rough's side effect of lowering the opponent's attack also kicked in. Emboar wouldn't be able to hit as hard next time he attacked. Beartic finished off by throwing an uppercut that sent the blazing hog hurling through the air. Seeing this big, bulky Pokémon effortlessly knocked off his feet showed just how strong Beartic could truly be. Emboar crashed down heavily on the ground and grunted. Ashley held her breath. Was the fight over for Emboar? Emerald and Sapphire were convinced that the Fire/Fighting Pokémon was out of the match. Beartic threw its head back and roared triumphantly. But it soon saw that its claim of victory was short-lived for against all odds…Emboar stood back up! Everyone gasped as the fiery pig stood back up, straining from the effort but clearly able to carry on. Even Ashley couldn't believe what she was seeing. She had been convinced she'd have to bring a new Pokémon out but no, Emboar was still able to go! Paul's mistake had been assuming Emboar was weak to Fairy attacks due to being a half-Fighting type...but the reality was the opposite. Emboar's half-Fire typing cancelled out the Fighting-type weakness to Fairy, reducing Fairy attacks to neutral damage instead so while Beartic had done the damage, it hadn't been able to land a super-effective hit like Paul had been aiming for, which made all the difference.

"Sometimes, you amaze me…" Ashley murmured with admiration, "Turn this match around with Rollout!"

Emboar curled up into a ball and rolled towards Beartic. As it was a Rock attack, it would be super-effective against Beartic. Beartic tried to dodge but the speed boost from Emboar's earlier Flame Charge had made its opponent faster and thus was able to catch up to Beartic a lot quicker than before. Emboar slammed into Beartic like a runaway boulder threatening to squash anyone foolish enough to be in its way. At first, Beartic took the hit and was able to remain standing but Emboar didn't stop. He rolled back around and charged towards the polar bear a second time. Rollout did more damage if used consecutively so the second hit would be even more powerful. Paul ordered Beartic to use Play Rough again, hoping that attack would at least stop Emboar dead in its tracks. Beartic tried but Emboar just came in too quickly and slammed into his opponent again. Beartic was thrown off its feet by the attack, looking like it had been shot by cannonball as the rolling Emboar collided into it. Beartic crashed down onto its back and passed out, its health completely depleted. Emboar raised his arms and oinked with glee, glad to have won the battle. Emerald and Sapphire could hardly believe it. Despite all that, Emboar still managed to come out on top! This Pokémon was truly looking unstoppable out there!

"Bloody hell, if that's just the Fire-type starter, I can't begin to imagine how powerful the other two starters from Unova are!" Sapphire exclaimed.

"If I ever visit Unova, I'm picking that as MY starter!" Emerald declared, "Emboar's so cool!"

"Thanks you two!" Ashley replied graciously.

Despite the praise, she knew Emboar couldn't fight on any longer. She could see he was panting heavily and looking in need of a good rest. She watched as Paul sent out his next Pokémon, which was his Grapploct that he'd used to win against Marnie back in the Spikemuth Gym. The twins knew this was a tough Pokémon so Ashley would have to choose wisely to match up to the power of Grapploct. The Champion returned Emboar to his Pokéball and switched him out for her Braviary. That was an excellent choice for Flying-types had the advantage over Fighting-types.

Braviary was an eagle like Pokémon with dark red feathers on its back, dark blue feathers on its underside, a tail tipped with yellow and blue stripes, long thick legs, a wide wingspan and a large plume of white feathers on its head and the back of its neck. In Unova, it was known as the "hero of the skies" due to its courageous nature and tendency to fight fiercely to protect its friends. It was even the national bird of Unova, similar to how the bald eagle was the national bird of America. They were also a Pokémon species that was all-male, contrasted to the all-female Vullaby species from the same region.

Paul didn't seem too worried about being up against a Flying type. Emerald suspected that he'd probably trained his Grapploct to use a move that could cover its Flying weakness. For now, Paul started off by ordering Grapploct to use Bulk Up. It seemed he wanted to go for a sure win by boosting the fighting octopus's Attack and Defence. Grapploct tensed its body up as its Attack and Defence boosted from the Bulk Up. Ashley wasn't bothered by that. She knew she could still win this battle, stats boost or not. She ordered Braviary to use Zen Headbutt to start with. Braviary's head was cloaked in pink psychic energy that formed a protective barrier that would shield his head from any damage while dealing a lot to the opponent. Braviary dived down like an eagle homing in towards a helpless rabbit that was trying to run away. He head-butted Grapploct directly in the stomach and knocked it backwards. Grapploct skidded towards Paul and shuddered uncomfortably. It even held up its tentacles as if begging Braviary not to attack it again. A side effect of Zen Headbutt was that it could make the opponent flinch at times and this had happened now. Grapploct couldn't attack for the moment, giving Braviary a chance to attack again.

"That's my boy!" Ashley cried excitedly, "I can always count on you! Now follow up on that Zen Headbutt with Brave Bird!"

It was a wise move to make. Due to Grapploct's boosted Defences, it was best to go for the most powerful attacks possible to do real big damage and Brave Bird was one of the strongest Flying attacks a Pokémon could learn. Braviary charged towards Grapploct again, bathed in fiery orange energy that seemed to carry all the power of the universe with it. Grapploct was powerless to defend itself thanks to flinching earlier and it cried out as Braviary slammed into it a second time, this time hitting it much harder as Brave Bird was a stronger attack than Zen Headbutt. Braviary grimaced as the side effect of Brave Bird kicked in. Users of Brave Bird suffered recoil damage in return so Braviary had hurt himself a little. But Grapploct had definitely gotten it worse, lying flat on its back and struggling to get back up again after suffering two back-to-back super effective hits. Could it even get up again? Everyone watched as Grapploct forced itself back onto its tentacles, visibly hurt but still keen to give it a good going. Satisfied, Paul gave the command.

"Use Ice Punch!" he yelled.

Emerald had guessed correctly. Grapploct had type-coverage for Flying-types! Grapploct's tentacles were tipped with icy energy as it built up its attack. Then it leapt towards Braviary, drawing its tentacles back and lashing out with Ice Punch. It scored a direct hit, knocking Braviary out of the sky and down onto the ground. Thanks to the boost to its attack from Bulk Up, the Ice Punch was more powerful than before. Braviary shivered from the attack, feeling like he was about to freeze solid. Thanks to the earlier recoil from Brave Bird, Grapploct's Ice Punch had left his health low. Ashley had to finish this fight and quickly. As Braviary picked himself up and flapped his wings to shake off the ice, Ashley ordered him to use another Zen Headbutt. It was too risky to use Brave Bird again. Braviary took to the skies and came soaring towards Grapploct again with his head surrounded by psychic energy. Hoping to take him down before he could hit, Paul ordered Grapploct to intercept with another Ice Punch. Grapploct jumped towards the diving Braviary with its tentacles tipped with ice again. Both attacks collided heavily, sending clouds of smoke that blanketed the arena for the moment. Nobody could see anything as the smoke covered everything. Ashley and Paul shielded their eyes from the smoke and tried to see their Pokémon. Who had won and was the fight over? The smoke cleared away to reveal…a worn out looking Braviary and an unconscious Grapploct. It had been close but Braviary had just managed to hold on while Grapploct had been knocked out. It could've ended in a draw or gone either way. Paul returned Grapploct to its Pokéball while the twins looked to each other.

"Wow, Paul's down to his last Pokémon with only two of Ashley's defeated!" Emerald exclaimed.

"And although Chandelure, Emboar and Braviary have all taken damage, she still has that Druddigon left that hasn't even been used yet." Sapphire observed, "I think this match is pretty much all over for Paul."

"Not that he'll give up so easily." Emerald murmured.

They watched as Paul sent out his last Pokémon.

"Corviknight, standby for battle!" he ordered.

His Corviknight came out of its Pokéball, sparkling upon entry. So Paul had evolved his shiny Corvisquire at last and now it had become a Corviknight. The difference between shiny Corviknight and normal Corviknight was that this variant had grey armour and black feathers instead of dark blue. With this colouration, it looked closer to an actual knight than before. Emerald liked to think Misty would've looked awesome in those colours too. Ashley returned Braviary, knowing it was foolish to try using him against Corviknight, especially as Braviary was too weak to fight anymore. She threw her last Pokéball.

"Druddigon, time to fight!" she yelled.

Sapphire wasn't even surprised to see Druddigon making its appearance at last. The dragon Pokémon flexed its long arms and roared eagerly, keen to get started. Paul frowned, knowing that this wasn't a good match-up. Corviknight couldn't learn any super-effective attacks to deal with Dragon-type Pokémon and Dragon-types weren't weak against any attacks Corviknight could learn. The most he could do was just whittle away Druddigon's health but he wouldn't be able to land any meaningful hits. Druddigon on the other hand had a much wider move pool to choose from. He wouldn't be surprised if Ashley's Druddigon knew an attack that was super-effective against Flying-types. He was down to one Pokémon and Ashley had four remaining. If Corviknight wasn't his last, he could take a chance against it. As is, he'd only end up losing anyway. Even if he beat Druddigon, Ashley would just send out Chandelure to take it out with Fire Blast, which Corviknight was weak against due to its Steel-typing. He closed his eyes and returned Corviknight to his ball. Ashley was puzzled for a moment but she soon realized what was happening.

"I guess that's that then." Paul said casually.

Ashley smiled, glad that Paul had come to his senses.

"As I told Sapphire back in the mine, a true trainer knows when to quit and doesn't force their Pokémon to fight on when there's no way they can win." she said approvingly.

Sapphire nodded. Those words still resonated with her even days after she'd heard them. Emerald felt a little sorry for Paul. She admired him as a trainer and had wanted to live up to his reputation but here, he'd been forced to forfeit because of being in an impossible situation. But she agreed that it had been the right choice. Why carry on when it was impossible to win? Ashley returned Druddigon and the two trainers shook hands to congratulate each other on a battle well fought.

"You certainly live up to yer reputation." Ashley complimented, "I think this is the toughest battle I've had since becoming Champion! I bet if we fight again, you'll really give me a run for my money!"

"There's still one Gym left to beat and plenty of time before the Champion Cup." Paul remarked, "I'll be training, ready for our inevitable rematch. Thank you for agreeing to battle with me, Ashley."

He bowed politely and walked away, heading off to Hammerlocke City to go to the Pokémon Centre and heal his Pokémon up ready for the Gym Battle with Raihan. Ashley watched him go, shaking her head bluntly.

"Always on the move, that guy…" she murmured.

She then turned to Emerald and Sapphire, who were both keen to offer their praise to her for such an incredible battle.

"That was the most amazing battle I've ever seen!" Emerald hollered, "Wow were you awesome! You totally kicked ass, Ashley!"

"You've shown all of us why you're the Champion of Unova!" Sapphire cried, "Your Pokémon fight like nothing I've seen before and they just don't go down! You must share your secrets with me…I mean us, both of us, on how you train your Pokémon so well!"

"Girls, take it easy! You're overwhelming me here!" Ashley cried, laughing in response.

The twins stopped and gave Ashley a moment to breathe.

"Thank you both for staying to watch." Ashley said appreciatively, "You two really boosted my confidence up out there, and I also hope that you've learnt something from watching me battle with Paul."

"Oh I've been making notes on how I might battle you later on should we fight again…" Sapphire said, smiling impishly.

"Heh, we'll see how well those notes help ya out." the brunette girl said teasingly, "In the meantime, you better get back to Spikemuth and get yer Dark Badge! Ya can't join Emerald in Hammerlocke Gym if ya don't win it!" she noted.

"Of course." Sapphire agreed, "We were gonna go back after watching you anyway. Do you want to stay and watch or would you rather make your way over to Hammerlocke and get the Dragon Badge?"

"Sure! I'll watch!" Ashley said jovially, "I'd love to see what new Pokémon you have since last we saw each other and see how you fare up against Marnie. I tell ya, that girl really makes you fight for that badge!"

"You're telling me." Emerald concurred.

The trio of teens headed on back to Spikemuth so Sapphire could claim her Dark Badge. Watching the battle between Paul and Ashley had been an amazing experience and the twins were glad to have seen their rivals duke it out like so. Especially as the battle may have given them ideas on how they might defeat them the next time they battled. When Emerald and Sapphire next fought Paul and Ashley, it would be their turn to win at last…

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