Diamond 41: Give me Amusement
Diamond 41: Give me Amusement
The trainers in the Viridian tournament continued to be eliminated until only four remained. It was clear that the champions would be called out to battle soon. Ash couldn't stay still, pacing around the waiting room. "I'm guessing you're more eager than nervous," Ritchie accurately theorized.
"Of course!" Ash happily exclaimed, "I'm so glad you're here. I was looking forward to my turn to battle before, but after I saw you, I just couldn't wait."
"It's ironic, when we were set to battle each other in the Indigo League years ago, you weren't too happy about it," Ritchie thought of the memories fondly.
"Yeah, but it's okay, because we can help each other improve and we'll both have fun," Ash smiled for a moment, then pouted impatiently again, "I just wish they would hurry up and call us or..."
Ritchie looked at Ash suspiciously, he had a sparkle of mischief in his eyes, "or?"
Ash grinned, "or we could have a practice match right here and now!"
Ritchie laughed, he should have expected such a crazy idea from Ash, he could have a wild side sometimes. "We'll get into trouble if we do that. Besides, I'm sure we'll get our chance soon."
Comet returned to the waiting room, replacing the empty tray of snacks with a new one. It was full of little triangle shaped mini-sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly in the middle. He handed a paper to Jango who had gone to the waiting room after the previous battle. It listed the lineup for the final four matches, not counting the bonus match that the winner would have against the Viridian City gym leader.
"Ritchie and Rose Mask," Jango read as he looked around the nearly empty waiting room for the two battlers.
"Here!" Jessie exclaimed as she pointed at James, who had his mouth full of mini-sandwiches. This caused Jango to jump in surprise; he didn't see Sailor Flame and Rose Mask make their way to the snack table. They could certainly eat.
"Looks like I'm up," Ritchie observed Ash's pouting face. Ash got there first but still hadn't been given a chance to battle. As mused that maybe his name was stuck on the bottom of whatever hat they were pulling the names out of. "C'mon, be a little more patient," Ritchie encouraged. "There are only four of us left, so you have to be in the next battle or the one after that at the latest."
"Alright, I'll wait a little longer," Ash agreed, though he still looked very impatient. He glanced at James who was stuffing his face, while he waited for Ritchie to lead the way into the arena. James, Jessie and Meowth loved free food. "Good luck to you both!" Ash spoke louder than needed, as if hinting he wanted the two combatants to go out and battle already. Ash expected Ritchie to win, but he also wanted to see James put up a good fight.
James choked on his last handful of mini-sandwiches. He was saved by Jessie, who patted him on the back harshly, but with good intentions. "In the words of Flareon, if you lose this battle, you'll have to face my wrath!"
James gulped, "Rose Mask will do his best!" Then he hurried after Ritchie. He left the bandaged Growlie on the table to eat the rest of the mini-sandwiches.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Out of all the trainers that had entered the tournament only four remain!" Jango announced as the crowd gathered in the Viridian Stadium cheered.
Many of the spectators were once again screaming in joy at the return of the handsome Rose Mask. Others, who recognized Ritchie as the Indigo League champion from last year, cheered for him. They were filled with joyous surprise to see him there.
"For this semi-final match we have the mysterious Rose Mask versus a surprise guest. Here's the champion from last year's Indigo League competition, Ritchie!" The crowd went wild at the announcement, cheering and clapping even louder.
Up in the VIP balcony, Mayor Antilles began to have another nervous breakdown. "Why? I thought the only Indigo League champion was Ash. Why are there two of them?" He feared for his precious stadium, it could be torn apart.
"He must have been a late entry," Giovanni reasoned. He was pleased with the situation. Two champions meant double the power. After they faced off against each other, he would battle the strongest one.
"This is... this is..." it was so terrible that Rune Antilles couldn't find any words to describe it.
"Perfect," Giovanni supplied, it was much better than watching the Indigo League championships on TV. He had both of the champions from the previous two years right in front of him. He would have a real battle after such a long time.
Delia smiled at the newly added twist. She knew Ash was looking forward to battling Ritchie and was happy that he could. He had not been called out yet and it was obvious that Giovanni still didn't know who he was. She had a worrisome thought as she remembered Ash's expression during Giovanni's speech. Delia had calmed down and convinced herself that everything was alright. But what if it wasn't? What if Ash had left in confusion? "I'll be right back. I just have to check on something really quick."
"Are you going off to find shelter?" Rune suddenly asked. "Maybe I should do the same. Oh, but how is that going to look? If I come out as a coward who hides when ferocious pokemon appear, I'll lose the elections!" He paused, examining Delia's face with his panicked expression suddenly changing to perplexity, "have I seen you before?"
"Probably in the crowds," Delia made her way out of the VIP balcony and down the stairs. Giovanni made no motion to stop her. He was focused on the battle. He noticed her leave, but he knew she would return just as she said.
The mayor rubbed his chin, "hmm..." he had seen many people in many crowds, he was the mayor after all. He was used to giving political speeches in front of large audiences. Even if the speeches were never written by him. The mysterious woman who came with Giovanni seemed to stand out in his mind from somewhere else.
Rune didn't remember that she was the same woman who had been at Giovanni's side when he first became gym leader. It was back when they started their secret negotiations with the help of the pokemon epidemic's antidote. Rune shrugged and decided to forget about it.
"Since these are the semi-finals, new rules have been added to make things more interesting," Jango had continued his explanation. "The pokemon limit per trainer has been increased to three and substitutions will count against the trainers. Ready? Fight!"
There was a moment of tension in which the audience grew eerily silent and Giovanni could hear an odd irregular sound. He looked at Rune who was pale and sweaty as he gripped the armrests of his chair. "Don't go into cardiac arrest so close to the elections," 'or any other kind of arrest,' he mentally added.
"Huh?" The mayor snapped out of his daze, "oh, yes, thanks for reminding me." Rune retrieved a small bottle from his pocket and swallowed a tiny pill, it was his heart medication. The sound of the mayor's heartbeats became more stable, though it was just as loud in the unfathomable silence.
The participation of Jessie and James, whom she recognized because of their pokemon, didn't come as too much of a surprise for Misty, but Ritchie's arrival was. As she sat in the audience, she almost expected a tumble weed to roll by as James and Ritchie engaged in a staring contest. It was reminiscent of Ash's contest with Samurai years ago when they waited for something to decide the battle between their Metapod. The most notable difference was that in the battle of Rose Mask versus Ritchie, neither had sent a pokemon out yet.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, in the waiting room, Ash stood near the window impatiently. The undercover Jessie, the bandaged Growlie and the recovered Flareon devoured all the food Comet brought. The trio had been temporarily joined by Pikachu, who retreated after snatching a couple of cupcakes. He offered one to Ash. Only Meowth understood Pikachu's remark about cooties, but he was used to Flareon and Growlie getting all cuddly and flirty.
Ash had finished his cupcake, contemplating that it was nowhere near as good as his mother's. The thought brought back his curiosity about why his mother was sitting with the mayor and gym leader. He pressed his face against the glass window, angling himself to try to see the balcony. He found that his mother was no longer there.
Seconds later, Delia entered the waiting room following Comet. He had gone to deliver more food, a pizza. The food kept getting better as trainers were eliminated. It was part of mayor Antilles' plan to butter up the winner into putting in a good word for him.
Jessie and Meowth jumped on the pizza immediately. It caused Growlie to whimper, and Meowth to make room for him to grab a slice in his mouth. The slice was playfully stolen by Flareon, who also stole a kiss in the process. Meowth backed away; maybe he wasn't used to this after all. Jessie on the other hand was fascinated. She paused her eating in favor at staring at the cute couple of fire pokemon adoringly.
"Ash," Delia called softly, her voice ringing out clearly in the absolute silence.
Ash turned around to face her, "mom! I was wondering why you disappeared from the balcony. Why were you up there?" Ash's curiosity presented no worries, only puzzlement.
Delia knew right away Ash's surprise during Giovanni's speech must have been entirely due to seeing her and not due to recognizing Giovanni. "The gym leader and I are," she corrected, "were," she paused and rephrased her reply, "I met Giovanni a long time ago and we were catching up. We haven't seen each other in years."
"Oh, so that's it!" Ash concluded, then elaborated noting Delia's confusion, "I had this feeling that I've seen the gym leader somewhere before, even if I didn't battle him for an Earth badge. I thought it might have been on TV, on a magazine or something, but that didn't feel right. You said you haven't seen each other in a long time; did he visit when I was very young? I can't remember where I've seen him before, but I know I have."
"No, he never visited," there was a hint of bitterness in Delia's voice. She forced herself to smile to make up for it. "Maybe you remember him from somewhere else." Sometimes the answer could be right in front of a person, but they would not see it unless they looked straight at it. It seemed that the picture of the man Delia confessed had been her boyfriend was yet to surface in Ash's mind. "You shouldn't think about it now, just focus on your coming battle."
Ash nodded in agreement, full of excitement once more, "yeah!"
Delia smiled sincerely, seeing her son so cheerful. He was that way for every competition. She would forever share that same enthusiasm to watch him participate in one pokemon tournament after another. "I just wanted to wish you good luck. I really should be going back to my seat now."
"Thanks!" Ash cheered, "I'll try my best and I'll win," then he could get Misty a ring that would make her jump into his arms in absolute joy. He wanted it to amaze her.
xoxox xox xoxox
Delia returned to the VIP balcony and took her seat next to Giovanni, who was looking very impatient. Noticing her presence he commented, "they say that when the eyes of two pokemon trainers meet, a duel between them is destined to happen. I just wish they would get on with it."
"I'm sure one of them will have to blink eventually, try to be patient," the last four words were spoken with the same tone Delia would use for Ash. She remembered how Giovanni and Ash's eyes met when Giovanni was giving his speech. Perhaps their battle would be a true duel. Delia couldn't decide how she felt about that.
In the battle arena, Ritchie inevitably blinked, "ha!" James pointed at him with his rose. He finally shattered the silence that loomed over the stadium. "I saw that!" He declared in what he thought was a heroic tone, "you blinked, I won!"
"How did we get into a staring contest anyway?" Ritchie blinked again, this time repeatedly in confusion. "Either way, it's impossible to tell if you're blinking or not behind your mask. That doesn't matter; this is a pokemon battle, so let's battle!" Ritchie threw out a pokeball, "Sebastian, I choose you!" A strong looking Kingler came from the pokeball's red beam.
"I won the staring contest," James lied, he had been blinking behind the mask, "and I'll win this battle too!" He threw out a pokeball as well, "Rose Mask calls upon Weezing!" This would be a difficult match and James couldn't count on Growlie, who had been injured earlier. He tried to look and sound as cool as possible, hoping that it would somehow empower him and his pokemon.
"Sebastian," Ritchie called out to his Kingler, "use crab hammer!"
"Dodge it Weezing, go higher and use smoke screen!" James posed with his rose as he instructed his pokemon. Sebastian dashed forward with his pincers ready to smash into Weezing. The poison pokemon floated away hastily and covered the battle field in smoke.
"Blow away that smoke with blizzard!" Ritchie urged. His Kingler obeyed, unleashing a powerful blizzard upon the battle field. It chilled the air and blew away the smoke. "Good, now use crab hammer!"
"Get out of the way Weezing!" Weezing had lowered his floating, shielded by the smoke screen as he prepared to launch a sneak attack at James' command. The poison pokemon was quick to gain altitude once more. It was rather comical to watch Sebastian leap into the air trying to hit Weezing with his largest pincer. Weezing continued to float, unreachable above the jumping Kingler.
"Sebastian, get Weezing down with a bubble beam!" Ritchie's change in strategy worked. The bubbles hit their target, causing Weezing to have trouble floating due to the constant hits. The attack also left him in a half-fainted daze.
"No Weezing, don't go down, go up, up!" As much as Weezing wanted to do what he was told, he could not.
The poison pokemon helplessly landed exhausted on the cracked floor of the battle field. Ritchie was quick to take the opportunity, "let's finish this, Sebastian!"
As Sebastian dashed forward to smash Weezing with his pincers, James desperately called out, "self destruct!" At least Weezing would take that persistent Kingler down with him; that was what James had in mind.
Ritchie reacted quickly, "dig!" Weezing exploded and the arena was filled with light and toxic smoke. It was impossible to see if Sebastian had evaded the attack on time by hiding underground.
When the smoke finally cleared, Weezing lay unconscious in a crater on the floor. The sight made mayor Antilles whimper in pain, witnessing the additional damage to the stadium. Sebastian came into view seconds later, digging himself out from the ground. The mayor noticed that the powerful Kingler had used his strong pincers to break the cracked floor and dig a hole. He took another heart pill and tried to endure the distressing sight without fainting again.
"Weezing is unable to battle!" Jango exclaimed.
"Weezing!" James cried out, dramatically reaching out for his fallen comrade. He retrieved Weezing's pokeball from his belt and called him back, "return!" Then, tapping his red rose on the pokeball he declared, "I shall avenge you!" The crowd went wild, much to Jessie's annoyance in the waiting room lobby.
As he watched the so called battle, Giovanni complained, "first a staring contest and now a soap opera? I thought the battles were finally getting good, but it looks like things won't get serious until the two Indigo League champions face each other." The mayor gasped for air, his breathing becoming more labored by the second. The noise annoyed Giovanni, who had been put in a bad mood due to the silly turn the battle had taken. "Can't you have a heart attack quietly?" He snapped.
"Giovanni, that's mean!" Delia scolded Giovanni, then looked at the mayor with worry.
Rune's face continued to pale, but his breathing stabilized, at least temporarily. "I know who you are," he recognized Delia. "You were there, in all those events long ago, in the parties, you were there," he stuttered.
"Don't try to speak now, just focus on your breathing," Delia instructed in a motherly tone.
"It is you, right?" Mayor Antilles continued, "you were Giovanni's lover!"
"Rune," Giovanni growled, causing the mayor to jump in his chair and look at him, "shut up."
"Yes, sir!" Rune squeaked, then remained quiet after that. He kept fidgeting worriedly in his chair and twisting the ends of his large mustache. The mustache used to be black, even after his hair had turned white, but was now white to match it.
In the battle arena, James sent out his next pokemon, "go Victreebel! I mean, Rose Mask summons Victreebel, avenge our fallen comrade!" James had met many Victreebel over time. Some were his own and others were pokemon he took care of at the day care center he and Jessie had in Saffron City.
Something that never changed was that each Victreebel James had taken care of had a peculiar habit of trying to eat people or pokemon. Some tried to eat James, others tried to eat Jessie, several tried to eat Meowth and one had made the mistake of trying to eat Flareon. That last one became the only one to be cured of the habit, though he would only be able to eat soft pokemon food for the rest of his life.
The particular Victreebel that James called out to battle had the habit of trying to eat people at random. She let out a high pitch screech that made Jango, James, Ritchie and the first few rows of people in the audience cringe and cover their ears. It signaled the start of her chase. The grass pokemon hopped right out of the battling area and towards Jango, who was refereeing from the sidelines. "What are you doing?" Jango backed away.
"Run!" James urged hastily in alarm.
Jango wasted no more time and dashed away. He ran in circles around the battle arena. James hurried after them, trying to calm his berserk pokemon. "Stop Victreebel, the referee is not food!"
Watching the disaster play out from the window, Jessie grumbled, "you idiot."
Giovanni was angered by the ridiculous scene, "this is turning into a circus show," he criticized.
In contrast, Delia was having fun, "I know!" She laughed.
"Well," Rune let out a breath, "as long as they don't cause any more harm to the stadium, it's okay."
Unfortunately for Jango, he wasn't fast enough to evade Victreebel and soon found himself inside her mouth up to his waist, with his legs flailing in the air. "Oh no! Oh no!" James tried to pull Jango out and Ritchie rushed to help while the spectators' laughter echoed.
Between James and Ritchie, they managed to pull Jango out of Victreebel's mouth. The grass pokemon was quick to choose a new victim, attacking Ritchie instead. Ritchie was caught off guard and suffered the same fate as Jango before he could even try to run away. Trapped in Victreebel's mouth, Ritchie called out for help. Distressed over the peril of his trainer, Sebastian attempted to free Ritchie by sending a flood of bubbles their way. The action only made matters worse when not only Victreebel, but also the three men suffered from the attack.
Unable to pull Ritchie out of Victreebel's mouth, James had no choice but to call her back into her pokeball, before Ritchie suffocated. "Victreebel return!" In a beam of red light, Victreebel faded away into her pokeball, leaving Ritchie to fall face first on the floor. "Sorry about that, are you going to be alright?"
Still a little dizzy, Ritchie nodded, "I think so... It's okay, accidents happen," he struggled to stay on his feet and made his way to his side of the arena.
James returned to his own side of the battle field and Jango stood at the sidelines. "Since Victreebel was recalled, Rose Mask only has one pokemon left."
James sighed sadly and the audience that had previously been laughing, chorused an, "aw!"
"Rose Mask never gives up!" James held his rose up high in a sudden change of attitude from sad to determined. "I summon..." he looked towards the window where Jessie, Flareon, Growlie and Meowth were watching, "Meowth!"
"What?" The talking pokemon gasped. Before Meowth could further protest, Growlie escaped and ran into the battle field.
"Growlie?" James stared in surprise. "You can't, you're hurt!"
"If you call back your pokemon, you will be forfeiting the match," Jango reminded. He was in no mood to be lenient after his traumatic Victreebel experience.
"Growlithe, growl!" Growlie bravely declared.
Even if the fire pokemon didn't speak the human language, James understood that Growlie wanted to help him. "Growlie!" He emotionally exclaimed, "alright, let's do this, flame thrower!"
"Counter with bubble beam!" Ritchie quickly commanded. The two opposing powers collided. Surprisingly, the bubbles were extinguished into vapor by the flames that barely diminished. The attack was not very effective, but it still caused Sebastian pain due to all the strength and energy Growlie put into it.
"Bite him Growlie!" James cheered, watching his loyal pokemon dash forward.
"Crab hammer!" Ritchie called out, expecting the strategy to work. However, Growlie moved out of the way of Sebastian's pincers and jumped over him. He spun around quickly and bit one of Kingler's thin legs.
Growlie was fighting with an injury and the strain was too much for him, he released Sebastian and collapsed. Sebastian was left in a pained daze, swaying from side to side unable to find his balance. "Growlie!" James was distressed; he knew Growlie shouldn't be battling in his condition.
"Growlithe is unable to battle," Jango announced, "the victor is Ritchie!" He declared with satisfaction.
"Flareon!" Flareon screamed as she ran into the battle field, "flareon flare!" She raged at Sebastian and released a blast of fire that finished knocking him out, but her breath of fire didn't cease.
"Stop it, Sebastian can't defend himself anymore!" Ritchie quickly recalled his unconscious and burnt pokemon to the safety of his pokeball. The pokeball had a star sticker on it, as all of Ritchie's pokeballs did.
"Flareon, flare!" Flareon directed her anger at Ritchie, whom she blamed for the state Growlie was in.
"No, Flareon!" Jessie, still in her Sailor Flame disguise, rushed into the battle field along with Meowth to try to calm the turmoil. First Flareon threatened to beat up Growlie if he lost, then she got all cuddly and sweet. Next, she became protective and rushed out to attack Growlie's opponents, even threatening the trainer. Jessie knew something was going on with Flareon. She would be frying Ritchie if Jessie wasn't blocking the way.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. What's the problem with Flareon? Find out in the next chapter. The tournament continues!