Darkest Before The Dawn!

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"Tropius, wrap this up now!" A blonde woman issued an order to large, sauropod-like Pokémon, who immediately took to the skies, flapping it's wings furiously, creating a large gust of wind that sent a small Servine flying backwards into the Gym wall, crashing brutally into it.

"Servine!" The trainer of this unfortunate Pokémon was none-other than Jason Reid, quickly recalled Servine into it's Poké Ball.

"Servine is unable to battle! The victor is Vinette!" A referee called out from the sidelines.

"I lost..." Jason was speechless. For the second time in only a few days, he'd lost to a fellow trainer, this time, a Gym Leader. Why? What was he doing wrong?

"I could have told him this much..." A young woman with long blue hair was sitting in the bleachers with Misty and Ivory, looking at Jason with something resembling disappointment. "He's not in any fit state to battle a Leader like this."

How exactly did we get to this point? Well, it's a story that started a few hours ago....

The Strange Blue Hair[edit]

"Jason, hurry it up!" Misty called over to him; Jason was currently at the video phone, on the line with Professor Changi. "Gimme a second." Jason called back, placing a Poké Ball on the transfer machine. "Here it is, Professor. Can you please send over that one?"

"Of course, Jason, just give me a moment." The Professor vanished from the screen before coming back with a Poké Ball in hand. "This one is a handful, so be wary with it."

"I know." The Balls glew white on both ends and vanished, being sent through space to their alternate locations. Jason immediately picked up the Poké Ball he was recieving, storing it away. He then thanked Changi before shutting the connection off.

"What took you?" Misty grumbled irritably. "You were taking too long."

"I had to swap Pokémon." Jason replied, showing her the Ball he'd just received. "I want to use this one in my Gym Battle." Despite saying he'd gotten a Pokémon for his Gym Battle, Jason sounded anything but ready — in fact, he sounded depressed and exhausted.

"Are you sure you can handle this?" Misty asked, concerned. "You don't seem well at all."

"I'm fine." Jason insisted wearily. "Let's just get this over with. One Gym Battle can't be half as bad as my match with Silus."

"...or worse, you're thinking even less now than you were then." Misty muttered under her breath. "Jason, I think you should give it a few weeks." She insisted, placing her hands gently on his shoulder. "We have plenty of time, and you need to be thinking straight before you actually challenge a Gym Leader. Why don't you let me challenge the Gym Leader first, and you wait until your head is clear?"

"I said I'm fine!" Jason snapped angrily, glaring at Misty and roughly shaking her off. He stormed away from the two girls, heading towards the exit of the Center. Unfortunately, he wasn't watching where he was going and crashed right into someone who just walked through the doors. 

"Gwoh!" The force sent Jason sprawling backwards onto the polished floor of the Pokémon Center, and he looked up, a bit stunned, to be greeted by the surprised face of a beautiful young woman with long blue hair and wearing a black top, pink vest, tight black yoga pants, as well as a flashy belt with black shoes. On her shoulder rested a small Pokemon, a Zorua. "Oh!" She gasped as she looked down at Jason. "I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going!" The woman extended a hand to Jason, who took it as she helped him up, the boy muttering apologies all the while.

"It's fine, it was my fault." Jason replied, dusting himself off. 

"No, don't blame yourself." The woman smiled, and bent over, looking at Pichu on Jason's shoulder. "Such a cute little one." She extended her hand, rubbing Pichu's cheeks.

"Pichu!" The Tiny Mouse squeaked excitedly; however the woman was moving her hand, it was obvious Pichu enjoyed it.

Jason was surprised by this; Pichu wasn't the most human-friendly Pokémon, but it was acting like it knew this woman forever. As he looked at her face again, something clicked in his head. "Wait...aren't you Dawn?"

"Well, yes." The woman smiled, nodding in confirmation. "How do you know my name?"

"I saw you on TV!" Jason explained, regaining a bit of the energy he'd lost before. "You're the Sinnoh Champion, I saw you battle Flint! You're really strong!"

Dawn chuckled, scratching the back of her head in apparent embarrasment. "I wouldn't go as far as to say that..."

"But you are!" Jason insisted. "You-!" But footsteps interrupted their conversation as Misty and Ivory ran over to Jason.

"Jason, where'd you run off to!?" Misty gasped as they caught up with him. "Storming off like that was so immature!"

"Forget that, forget that." Jason waved her off, an affronted look crossing Misty's face. "Look whose here!" He gestured to Dawn, and Misty and Ivory did a double-take. 

"W-wait, is that the Sinnoh League Champion?" Misty choked over the sentence, surprised to see someone like her here.

Dawn sighed, looking a bit weary from all of this recognition. "Really, I'm surprised Jubilife TV even airs out here...since the Glameow's out of bag, yes, my name is Dawn, and I am indeed the Sinnoh League Champion. This little one..." She pointed at the Zorua on her shoulder. "...is my friend, Zorua."

"I-it's nice to meet you!" Jason stammered. "I'm Jason, and you already met Pichu!"

"My name is Misty, I'm the Cerulean City Gym Leader over in Kanto!" Misty introduced herself. 

"I'm Ivory!" Ivory smiled, extending a hand which Dawn took, shaking.

"It's really nice to meet you!" Jason kept tripping over his words. "You're an inspiration to me!"

"Oh?" Dawn looked perplexed. "Really, I'm not as much as you make me out to be."

"But you are!" Jason was practically gushing now. "You're the Champion, but you've competed in Contests and won several Grand Festivals too! I also compete in Gym Battles and Contests! It's really nice to have someone like you to look up to!"

Dawn smiled, and her interest in this boy suddenly was perked. "Well...thank you for the flattery at least. So you say you're a coordinator and you take on Gym Battles..." She smiled as if she was enjoying a private joke. 

"So, um, Dawn...why are you here?" Ivory asked curiously. "I mean, the Sinnoh Champion all the way in Hora?"

"Hmm...if you want to know all of that, why don't we find a seat first?" Dawn suggested and the group followed her to a Pokemon Center table, and they took their seats, Zorua and Pichu climbing down from their trainers shoulders to sit on the table itself. "Why am I in Hora, you asked? Well, I've been studying Pokémon mythology lately, just out of curiosity. Hora itself has some very interesting legends that, as a researcher, I simply can't resist."

"Hora has mythology?" Jason blinked, surprised. "I'd heard a few legends about Lugia, but that's it..."

Dawn smiled, her interest only furthering with this boy's mention of Lugia. "So you don't know any of Hora's mythology? Are you interested?"

"Yes!" Ivory smiled wide, and Misty and Jason nodded. 

"Where to start..." Dawn placed her index finger to her chin. "I've only recently arrived, so my knowledge is minimal at best. I suppose I should start from the beginning. According to Sinnoh and Johto legend, in the beginning, there was a formless mass of choas. Within this mass was an Egg, and from it hatched The One, a great creature. With a roar, it created Time, and with a whisper, made Space — two great beasts, meant always to balance each other." She paused; whether to catch a breath, or for dramatic effect, Jason thought it was good. "In reality, these are Pokémon, referred to as Arceus, creator of this world, Dialga, the Lord of Time, and Palkia, Ruler of Space."

"The world was created...by Pokémon?" Jason's voice was barely more than whisper, and he looked at Pichu. "You guys really are amazing, aren't you?"

"Chu?" Pichu looked up him in confusion.

"They really are." Dawn agreed. "Pokémon are such powerful creatures, and yet they choose to exist by our sides as friends, and partners, lending us their strength and companionship." She gently scratched the back of Zorua's ears; the Tricky Fox Pokémon smiled in delight. "This world would be incomplete without the existence of Pokémon. We share our lives with our Pokémon and our happiness grows as we all become greater than we were alone."

"I agree!" Jason nodded vigorously. "I wouldn't be anywhere without the help of my Pokémon. We've been through so much already."

"What happened next, though?" Misty asked, cutting in. "You didn't finish, is there more to the myth?"

"That's right...let's see..." Dawn had almost forgotten the myth; the thoughts of good times with her Pokémon had flooded her mind, it distracted her. "There we are...even with the creation of the everflowing Time and expanding Space, The One was unable to look upon his creation and call it good, as choas continued to flow. And so, The One gave birth to Light and Darkness, creating stability in the world."

"Were these Pokémon as well?" Misty asked.

"That's the general theory." Dawn nodded, happy to see someone catch on. "As of the moment, that's all I know. I've only arrived recently, and thus my research is still woefully incomplete."

"That's...really cool." Jason was speechless. To found out his home region had mythology like this...just what was he missing out on? And Dawn was here, explaining everything. His idol was within reach. He steeled his resolve, standing up. "Dawn...I know this may sound abrupt, but can you treat me to a Pokémon battle?"

"A battle?" Dawn repeated in surprise. Such a blunt challenger. 

"Jason!" Misty snapped. "Are you an idiot!? You can't just challenge a Champion! Even Silus was too much for you!"

Jason's eye twitched. "That's different! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I could cast a fishing line into a crowd and pull out several of Silus! This is a Champion, and more importantly, she's a coordinator! I can't pass this up!"

"Dammit Jason, th-!" Misty was about to slap the boy when she was interrupted by Dawn.

"If you want a battle, I'll be happy to oblige you," She said, standing up, Zorua running up to her shoulder. "Let's make it one-on-one? That should suffice, right?"

The Rookie vs the Champion![edit]

"There won't be any need to referee." Dawn told Misty, who had offered, as the group made their way to the battlefield behind the Pokemon Center. "A one-on-one battle never lasts long. " She and Jason took opposing sides, and she reached for a Poké Ball. "This longtime friend of mine will be your opponent!" Dawn threw the Poké Ball into the air, and it flashed open, sending out Dusknoir in a bright white light.

"W-what's that?" Jason scrambled for his Pokédex, pointing it at Dusknoir.

"Dusknoir, the Gripper Pokémon, and the evolved form of Duskull. While said to take children with it to the land of the dead, data about this Pokémon is largely unknown."

"Unknown!?" Jason stared at the Pokédex, flabbergasted.

"Oh, that device you have...a Pokédex?" Dawn looked at the red machine in Jason's hand with a look of amusement. "Wow, it brings back some memories."

Jason quickly popped out a Poké Ball, throwing it into the air. With a bright white flash, Aipom appeared, chittering. "Aibō will be your opponent!"

Dawn's eyes widened. "Oho, an Aipom! And such unique colouring as well. But that is surprising...Normal-types aren't the best match-up for a Ghost-type Pokémon, you know."

"Ghost-types aren't necessarily a good match for Normal-types either!" Jason pointed out, hastily trying to cover his error. "Just wait, I might surprise you."

Dawn smiled, her eyes shining ominously. "That won't be possible. I've seen far too much to be surprised by anything now. Now..." She placed a hand on her hip, beckoning Aipom forward. "I'll let you make the opening move."

Jason gritted his teeth; the woman's "holier-than-thou" attitude was beginning to grate on his nerves. "Aibō, Swift!" Jason ordered.

"Like a Magikarp on the line..." Dawn thought at Jason issued the command.

"Aiiiipom!" The Pokémon's tail glew, swinging it in a large arc, releasing a burst of golden stars towards Dusknoir, who stood still, Dawn issuing no order at all. The Swift made contact with Dusknoir...and then simply phased through.

"What!?" Jason gasped in surprise.

"Jason, you idiot!" Misty snapped at him from the sidelines.

"Normal-type moves don't have any effect on a Ghost-type Pokémon." Dawn explained simply. "You didn't think, and simply sent out the first Pokémon that came to mind. To make your predicament worse, you then shouted out the first move you thought up as well. In addition, you're terribly easy to bait."

"W-wha...!?" Jason choked over a response, surprised by the blunt tone she had as she criticized him. "Aibō, Shadow Ball!" Jason ordered, and Aipom's tail began to glow a ghostly black as it formed a crackling purple and black sphere, before swinging it forward at Dusknoir.

Dawn simply smiled, and snapped her fingers. "Dusknoir, Psychic. Let's take some of that Shadow Ball."

"Noir!" Dusknoir extended it's hand, it's eyes glowing blue, the Shadow Ball being overcome with Dusknoir's powerful psychic energies. It then motioned the ball towards it, and began to spiral around, fully controlled by Dusknoir.

"She...she stopped it!?" Jason gaped as Dusknoir simply made the Shadow Ball it's own to show off.

"This kind of blunder in a Contest would cost you points, Jason." Dawn said reprovingly. "You said you compete in Contests, am I correct? In a Contest, you can't afford to waste any moves. Allowing your opponent to turn your own power against you and show their Pokémon off is one of the quickest ways to lose in a Contest battle."

"I...I know what I'm doing!" Jason snapped, a vein throbbing in his head. "Aibō, use Thunderbolt!"

"Ai!" Aipom leapt into the air, releasing a powerful blast of electricity from it's body, which flew towards Dusknoir as Aipom descended.

"Dusknoir, use your Psychic." Dawn instructed calmly; the Gripper Pokémon's eyes glowing as the electric-attack was stopped in mid-air before being imbued with it's own psychic powers, blue bolts of psychic electricity spiraling around Dusknoir.

Ivory looked on in worry. "She's...she's not even being serious...she's just toying with him."

"Now, Dusknoir, return to sender!" Dawn called out enthusiastically.

"Dusknoir!" Dusknoir's eyes began to glow even more intensely as the electricity and Shadow Ball merged into a large, crackling electric sphere imbued with dark, psychic powers. With a simple handwave, Dusknoir send the sphere flying full tilt at Aipom.

"Aipom, dodge it!" Jason ordered, however, his order was drown out by the explosion of the attack; it's speed was such that it made contact before Aipom could even register an order from his trainer. As the smoke cleared, Aipom was collapsed on the ground of the arena, unconcious in a small crater.

"Aibō!" Jason called out, immediately rushing over to his partner, picking it up, the poor Pokémon unable to even register its trainer's presence. He recalled it into its Poké Ball, and stood up, staring at the ground.

"You did well, Dusknoir. Take a rest." Dawn recalled Dusknoir into it's Poké Ball, and walked over to Jason, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Jason, y-" She began, but before she could say anything else, Jason shook her off.

"I don't need a lecture!" He snapped.

"Don't think of it as a lecture." Dawn was a bit shocked at Jason's anger. She hadn't met anyone who reacted to losing quite like this. "Besides, you didn't even let me finish."

"You don't need to finish!" Jason glared at her. "I don't need to hear what you have to say!" And before Dawn, or anyone else could say anything, Jason fled, running from them with Pichu clinging tight to his shoulder. It was a few minutes before he stopped, sitting down on a rocky ledge that overlooked the sea.

"Why...?" Jason thought, looking at the sparkling sea water from his perch. "Why can't I win!? I know she was a Champion, but that was a pathetic loss..." He picked up a stone, tossing it towards, the stone skipping off the waters before sinking. "First my rival...then my idol...what am I doing wrong!?"

Pichu nudged his cheek, but Jason didn't respond. She was considering snapping him out of his daze with an attack, but...Pichu looked down at the cliffside and the crashing waters and decided against it.

"Is something wrong?" A soft, female voice caught Jason's attention. It was a young girl with with long, blonde hair tied in a side ponytail that reached down to her legs, thigh-high boots and a dark grey shirt and black skirt, along with an odd yellow tie. Jason looked at her, surprised by her odd appearance, and quickly tried to fumble an excuse.

"Um...I was looking for the Gym and I took a break." He said weakly.

"Oh, the Gym?" The girl smiled brightly. "I know where that is!" She bent down, pulling him up by the and proceeding to run, with Jason tagging along due to being dragged. "Follow me, alright? I know the way!" Running for at least a few minutes, the strange duo reached a large building that was obviously the Gym. "Here we are!" She smiled, gesturing to the building.

Jason looked at it, trying to take it all in amidst his confusion. It looked like a large metal building, with a large amount of foliage creeping out of the roof, making the roof of the building resemble a jungle. Was this a greenhouse? "You actually took me to the Gym..." Jason looked at her, surprise.

"You said it was what you were looking for." The girl replied. "Besides, you looked like you were on the verge of tears. Maybe you couldn't handle being lost, but I couldn't just leave you like that."

Jason blinked. He had a feeling he was just insulted, but her act of kindness was nice nonetheless.

"I hope you don't have the power of a crybaby though." The girl added.

"What do you mean...?" Jason looked at her curiously.

"Because it would be terrible if my newest opponent was a weakling." The girl replied, smiling brightly. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Vinette, the Gym Leader!"

Jason stood there, his mouth agape. "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!?"

The Raging Fire[edit]

"W-wait!" Jason stammered, backing up. "You're the Gym Leader!?"

"That's right!" Vinette said, opening the giant doors of the Gym. "Really, you'd be hard-pressed to find a random person who conveniently lead you to the location you want without an ulterior motive."

"..f-fair point." Jason admitted sheepishly. "Since I'm here, do you accept my challenge?"

"Of course! It's a Gym Leader's duty to accept all challengers."

The two stepped into the Gym, and Jason was overwhelmed by several things all at once. The very sight of the place was breathaking; he had a thing for forests and plantlife, and he couldn't help but be amazed at the sight of the plants that lined the buildings. The next two things were a combination; the scent of the air was crisp, clean, most likely due to the plants in the building and it gave Jason a strange feeling fo ease. He could also pick up the scent of flowers mixed in with the general plant smell. Needless to say, if someone could be in love with a building, Jason may have just found his.

"Okay, let's beg-" Vinette began, but before she could so much as have them take their places adn tell Jason the rules, a voice was heard calling.


Naturally, Jason turned at the voice....and suddenly was turned back by the force of a brutal slap to the face.

"I TOLD you we've find him here." Misty's loud voice echoed as Jason was seeing several Pidgey flying around his head. 

"You know him very well then." Dawn sounded a little amused.

"Well, I think when someone clings to you like he does, you'd kind of pick up on what makes him tick." Misty shrugged.

"Cling?" Jason snapped from the ground. "I don't cling to you!"

"Yes you do." Ivory pointed out calmly. "Even at night, when you think no one is looking, you constantly edge your sleeping bag closer to Misty's, and can't sleep until you do!"

"H-hey...!" Jason's face was a furious red now, and even Misty looked embarassed at this. 

"And, when we sleep anywhere with a bed or futon, Jason always sneaks in under Misty's covers and sleeps." Ivory added smugly, as if she'd been waiting to spill this secret to somebody.

"H-hey!" Misty and Jason were both objecting to Ivory's words, their faces beet-red.

Dawn's face flushed a little as she smiled. "Oh my....I had no idea they were that close."

"T-that's not it at all!" Misty huffed, trying to hide her embarassment. "He's just a little kid, and seems to always find his way to my bed! I've told him time and time again that he shouldn't do it!"

"I-I don't do it intentionally!" Jason insisted. "It's a sleep walking kind of thing!"

"I've never seen sleep-walking whe-!" Ivory began, but both Jason and Misty slapped her in the face, sending her careening backwards and out of the Gym. 

"I've certainly found some....interesting children." Dawn noted, looking at this exchange with wide-eyes. 

"Um...." Vinette looked at the group with some apprehension. She'd been eager for new challengers, but what if these crazy people burned her Gym down?

"Oh, that's right!" Jason scrambled to his feet, still rubbing his face. "We have to have our battle." 

"A battle!?" Misty flared up for a moment. "Didn't we agree you aren't ready to take on a Gym Leader right now?"

"I didn't agree to anything." Jason snapped, rounding on her, glaring. "Just go sit in the bleachers or leave if you don't think I can handle it."

Misty grumbled, but didn't say anything more, and she, Ivory, and Dawn filed themselves into the bleachers while Vinette and Jason took their respective places on the battlefield. The referee raised his flags. "The battle between Jason Reid of Eden Town and Vinette of the Diadem City Gym will now commence! It will be a three-on-three battle, and only the challenger will be allowed to substitute Pokémon! BEGIN!"

Vinette reached for a Poké Ball, expanding the capsule as she kissed out. "Sawsbuck! Front and center!" She launched the ball into the air with great energy as it opened, releasing a blast of white energy which formed into Sawsbuck.

"Oh, a Sawsbuck. That's rare to see in Hora." Dawn noted, impressed.

"Sawsbuck?" Jason aimed the Pokédex at Sawsbuck.

"Sawsbuck, the Season Pokémon, and the evolved form of Deerling. The plants on Sawsbuck's horns change depending on the time of year, and people often use them to measure the passing of the seasons."

This particular Sawsbuck, Jason noted, had full, leafy antlers. He assumed it must be summer. "So, a Grass-type. Then I was right to call over this guy from the Professor. Come on out!" Jason threw the ball upwards and it popped open, white light splashing onto the ground, forming into a large, serpentine Pokémon.

"SEVIPER!" The Fang Snake Pokémon let out a mighty battle cry.

"Seviper!?" Misty nearly jumped. "He called on that!?"

"Why do you seem worried?" Dawn turned her attention to Misty, perplexed. "Is something the matter?"

"Well...Seviper..." Misty muttered nervously. "Well...it's obedient...for the most part."

"Most...part?" Dawn blinked. Did Seviper have something that set it off?

"You see, Seviper likes to battle, so it listens to Jason's orders pretty well..." Ivory sounded nervous as well, eyeing Seviper with apprehension. "However, when it takes a hit, even one, it gets angry. Very very angry. And it just goes on a rampage."

"Oh...oh my..." Dawn placed her hand over her mouth, and even she was looking at Seviper, but it seemed to be more with curiosity. "I wonder how he'll handle this reckless Pokémon."

"Sawsbuck, Energy Ball!" Vinette ordered, and the Season Pokémon reared onto it's hind legs as a green energy sphere formed above it's mouth. Letting out a cry, Sawsbuck sent the sphere flying foward at Seviper.

"Tch...here it comes..." Jason grit his teeth. "Seviper, Poison Tail and cut that Energy Ball in half"

"SEVIPER!" Seviper let out a mighty cry as it slithered forward with surprising speed, it's tail becoming doused in a powerful, liquid toxin it secreted, slicing the sphere in half, causing it to dissipate. "Now, Flamethrower!" Jason barked, and Seviper expelled a powerful stream of fire from it's mouth.

"Flamethrower!?" Vinette's eyes widened, taken aback by this unexpected super effective attack. The flames enveloped Sawsbuck, causing the Season Pokémon great pain.

"Sawsbuck! Shrug it off and use Grass Knot!" Vinette ordered, and Sawsbuck proceeded to buck, kicking up sand to disrupt the flames, and then stomped it's hoof into the ground.

Jason blinked. "Was the move a dud?" He asked, confused. "Seviper, get in close with Poison Tail!" Seviper's tail become coated in its toxic secretions, slithering quickly along the ground towards Sawsbuck...and suddenly went fang-first into the ground.

"What the...!?" Jason's feeling of confusion deepened. "What just happened!?" Closer inspection, however, would show a long blade of grass wrapped around one of Seviper's fangs, which had dragged the Fang Snake directly into the grassy floor of the Gym.

"That's a creative way to use Grass Knot." Dawn noted, impressed. That move wouldn't be bad for a Contest.

"Oh boy..." Misty looked at the spectacle with a look of dread on her face. "Seviper's been hurt...we need to duck, and I mean now!"

"Why?" Dawn inquired; she recalled Misty's earlier explanation of Seviper's temperament, but Seviper were generally calm creatures, if a tad selfish. Their vicious nature was usually reserved for Zangoose. Then again, all Pokémon were unique. Comparing an individual to the general behavior of a group was foolishness on her part.

"SEVIIIIIIIIIPER!" The Fang Snake Pokémon let out a battle cry, ripping itself from the ground. "Seviper!" The black Pokémon hissed in rage, raising to it's fullest height and began to unleash a stream of Flamethrowers in a rage, travelling in nearly every direction. Misty, Dawn, and Ivory hit the floor as flames shot over their heads.

"That's why!" Misty snapped.

"Seviper, calm down!" Jason urged in a panic; he'd hoped this wouldn't happen, but he had thought Seviper could handle it. With it's power, he thought he could take them on without suffering any damage. He suddenly regretted not calling on Butterfree or Muk while he had the chance.

"Your Seviper is out of control!" Vinette called out, shocked at this Pokémon's behaviour. "You have to call it back!"

"But I'll lose this round if I do that!" Jason snapped back, angrily.

"And my Gym will burn down if you don't!"

Jason had to agree Vinette had a point, but he was weighing his options. Could he get Seviper under control? The answer came quickly in the form of a Flamethrower which grazed past his ear. No, no he could not. "Seviper, Return!" Jason recalled the Fang Snake Pokémon into it's Poké Ball.

"Due to unique conditions, Seviper has forfeited the match! Sawsbuck is the winner!" The referee raised his flag and pointed it in the direction of Vinette.

Jason reached for a Poké Ball, expanding it and throwing it into the air. "Aibō, let's go!"

"Ai Ai!" Aipom screeched, bursting out in a flash of white light.

"Aipom vs Sawsbuck! Begin!" The referee called out, swishing his flags to signal the start of the next round.

"Aibō, use Swift!" Jason ordered, and the Long Tail Pokémon slashed it's tail across the air, sending a flurry of stars towards Sawsbuck in a large arc. The starts hit their mask, forcing the Season Pokémon back, its hooves digging into the ground.

"Now Aibō, finish it off with Double Hit!" Aibō launched itself forward, its tail extending and contracting rapidly, giving it the appearance of multiple tails.

"Sawsbuck, look out!" Vinette called out but it was two late. The Double Hit barrage mercilessly beat Sawsbuck unconscious, the Season Pokémon falling over to its side.

"Sawsbuck is unable to battle! Aipom is the winner!" The referee declared.

"That was quick..." Dawn noted that Jason seemed to be getting desperate, issuing an order the moment the round had been declared, and not even giving Sawsbuck a moment to catch a breath. He seemed to be going for the 'power' approach to a battle.

Vinnete frowned; reaching behind her and pulled out a Poké Ball, enlarging it. She placed it to her lips, kissing it, and pointing it at Jason. "This Pokémon is my own little sweetie, it saved me when I was a young girl of five, and I know it will bail me out again! Tropius, front and center!"

The Fruit Pokémon let out a melodic cry; it almost like music, and it snapped Jason into a focus. It reminded him of a crude version of Lugia's own melody.

"This Tropius is my dear sweetie." Vinette said again, smirking. "This battle became decided the moment she left her Poké Ball." She made a finger gun towards Jason, 'firing' it. "You're free to walk away."

"Walk away?" Jason scoffed. "I don't know how to give up."

"...He's right on that." Misty hung her head. In all honesty, he should give up, this wasn't his time for a battle like this.

"Aibō, use Swift!" Jason ordered, and Aipom leapt into the air, swing its tail, releasing large glowing stars in a wide arc.

"Tropius, blow them away!" Vinette ordered and Tropius let out a cry, rearing onto its hind legs, flapping it's large, leaf-like wings. The Swift stars were caught in the strong Gust it generated; they began to switch their course, blowing back towards Aipom.

"Aibō!" Jason cried. The stars hit Aipom dead on; because it was descending, it had no room to dodge, and the Swift sent it hurtling into the grassy field hard.

"Don't let up, Tropius! Razor Leaf!" Vinette ordered; Tropius' wings sharpened as it flew towards Aipom, slashing at it with its sharpened leaves, causing the Long Tail Pokémon to shriek in pain.

"Aibō, you have to strike back!" Jason called out desperately, and it tried to struggle to its feet, but the wound the Razor Leaf had caused to its side was causing it too much pain.

"This round is over! Leaf Storm!"

Tropius began to glow as it charged its own aura, forming a spiraling tornado of leaves which it sent flying towards Aipom; whipping the small Pokémon up into the tornado, slashing at it repeatedly with the flurry of sharpened greenery. As the Leaf Storm died down, Aipom's body hit the floor with a loud crash.

"Aipom is no longer able to battle! Tropius is the winner!" The referee snapped his flag towards Vinette as Jason recalled Aipom with a dejected expression. "You did good, Aibō..."

"Tropius, you did really well!" Vinette congratulated the Pokémon with a smile as it landed next to her. "Here's a reward and some motivation." In her outstretched hand was a treat for Tropius — Poké Block of varying colours of flavours. The Fruit Pokémon devoured them happily.

Jason gritted his teeth; he was losing, bad, and his patience was waning. "Servine, go!" He threw a Poké Ball, and Servine burst from it in a blast of white light.

Misty slapped her face with her palm in exasperation. "He shouldn't have done that..."

"Now he's in for it..." Ivory sighed.

"A Servine..." Vinette looked at Jason in surprise. "Well, there's no accounting for stupidity, I suppose."

"Don't even count me out yet!" Jason snapped. "Servine, use Attract, go!"

Servine leapt into the air, conjuring several spiralling hearts around its body, and sent them flying at Tropius.

Vinette bit her finger as the hearts encircled Tropius. This could turn out bad...

The hearts began to spiral around Tropius, who looked confused, as the hearts enlarged and then shrunk into its body. Tropius began to glow bright pink...and then nothing happened.

Vinette let out a sigh of relief as Jason looked on incredulously. "So your Servine is a girl as well." She couldn't help but let out a small giggle; what Jason attempted was a nice try, but Attract was always a gamble and it showed how desperate he was getting just by relying on it.

"Tropius, wrap this up now!" Vinette issued to the large, sauropod-like Pokémon, who immediately took to the skies, flapping it's wings furiously, creating a large gust of wind that sent Jason's Servine flying backwards into the Gym wall, crashing brutally into it.

"Servine!" Jason, stunned, quickly recalled Servine into it's Poké Ball.

"Servine is unable to battle! The victor is Vinette!" The referee called out from the sidelines.

"I lost..." Jason was speechless. For the second time in only a few days, he'd lost to a fellow trainer, this time, a Gym Leader. Why? What was he doing wrong?

"I could have told him this much..." Dawn sighed, as she looked at Jason with something resembling disappointment. "He's not in any fit state to battle a Leader like this."

Jason looked down at Servine's Poké Ball, a feeling of hopelessness crashing down onto him as he looked completely and utterly defeated.

"Jason...you have good Pokémon, but...something tells me you weren't in your right mind." Vinette said kindly, looking at Jason from across the field. "You need to sort out whatever is messing you up inside that head, then come back to me — I want to have a battle that'll shake my Gym to it's roots!" She then turned, and motioned for Tropius and the referee to follow as she left to the back of her Gym. She knew Jason would want to be alone with his friends here.

Misty, Ivory, and Dawn slid out of the bleachers and walked down onto the field, each wearing the same expression of pity. Even Misty found herself unable to berate the boy, though she had a few choice things to say, she had a feeling speaking her mind right now would just exacerbate Jason's issues.

The boy simply stood there for a moment, eyes still on Servine's Poké Ball. What was he doing wrong? What mistakes was he making? Did he mess up somewhere?

Dawn placed a finger to her chin for a moment, she seemed to be mulling something over. "Is it worth it?" She thought to herself as she looked at Jason. "This boy has potential..." She let out a small sigh, and walked over to Jason, placing a hand firmly on his shoulder. "I know you're disappointed, and, after witnessing your performance, I think the time has come for you to have someone show you the ropes. Jason Reid, right? Stop crying, because, right here, I'm taking you on as my pupil!"

"What!?" Misty and Ivory both looked at Dawn, jaws agape and eyes wide as saucers as the woman looked at the young man with a determined expression.

Point of Purpose | Top Down Training!