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Chapter 25: Not a Match Part 1Edit

Ash had finished drawing his first opponent and opened the door to his cabin when who did he find there but April. “Hey – What the heck do you think you’re doing here!?”

“Huh? Oh Ash, it’s you!”

“I repeat, what do you think you’re doing here?”

“Waiting for you, of course!”

“Look, there’s no reason for you to be like this, I did what I did back at the entrance booths because I wanted to get back at my own cashier. This is not about you at all. I got you your own ticket, and it comes with your own room. This is my room. Now get out!”

April made a sad face. “But why? Why oh why oh why?”

“Because I said so! I bet also that since I’m a VIP of Silph’s, if you keep getting in my way those people will be eager to shove you right back off the ship to make room for someone who’s actually paying.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“Oh yes I would! I’m not the nice-guy hero you think I am; I’m very mean and I very much like being alone. And I’m not chivalrous, either; I’ve killed four people in one day just this past month.”

April gasped, bringing her hands up to her bosom in fright. “HUH!? You did WHAT?! You’re -- you’re a…”

“Hmm, first rule of survival is never to accuse a murderer of being one,” said Ash with a smile. April was visibly on the verge of dashing out screaming. “Oh by the way let me also say that all four of them were Team Rocket thieves trying to steal the technology behind the master ball.”

April was rooted to the spot and still unable to say anything. This was for her a sudden, shocking turn. She seemed to never have expected someone who had been so nice to her to have killed people…

“Afraid now, are you? So why don’t you leave this cabin and let me be?”

“Y…you’re not going to shoot me, are you? Or stab me, or—“

“Calm down, April! Do I look like I’m going to do that? Do I even have a weapon on me!?”

“Err… Good point…” said April, finally starting to relax.

“Hey, don’t relax in my cabin! Get out and relax!”

“But… but… I’ll be all alone by myself again, and just when I thought I had a traveling partner—“

“A WHAT!?” Ash jumped up and went right in her face, causing her to flinch. “Look here, lass, I never said anything about traveling with you. I only did you a small favor back earlier. Get that straight! I don’t want anything else to do with you!” A stunned April backed up, looking visibly distraught. Kirlia had by now teleported out of the room, not wanting to get any more negative vibes from the argument.

“You… you don’t like me, do you? I’m too chatty, aren’t I? Or is it because I’m immature, like my brother said?”

“No, no, no!”

“Oh I get it, I’m just too ugly for you!” and she turned away from him, wiping away tears that were suddenly brimming. Ash was getting quite distraught himself from this outburst…

“That’s not it at all! April, you’re none of that! And you’re prettier than most girls I’ve seen so far, and I’ve seen a lot of them lately!”

April turned around excitedly, hurriedly wiping off her tears with her arm. “Then I’m all right?”

“Yes you’re all right—er…” Ash realized his slip-up, but it was too late.

April was leaping for joy and the next moment was hugging Ash. “all right then, it’s decided, we travel together!”

“Aargh! I never agreed to that!” Ash pushed her back, and stomped off. Bad idea, it occurred to Ash, when he turned around to find April lying blissfully on his bed. She sure is cute… But, Aargh! She’s so annoying! And it isn’t like I have a big task in front of me, something that only those that aren’t weak of heart can do… What I’m doing is a man’s job, not a girl’s…

“Ash, stop being so stubborn,” protested April, standing up.

“What, me stubborn!? That’s it! You are chatty! Now get out!”

“You!”

“All right I will!” Ash trampled his way out of the room. “Wait a minute… This is my room YOU GET OUT!!”

April crossed her arms. “Nope. Unless you can beat me in a pokemon match and force me to run off to get them treated, you can’t.”

“Why you…” The next moment April gasped in fearful surprise as Ash grabbed her by the wrists and pulled her arms behind her back, hand-cuff style. April struggled but couldn’t get free, and signs of fear were starting to creep back up. “All right, you’re under arrest for disturbing the peace.” He pushed April right out of the room, then followed with a shove that sent her flat onto the hallway. Several people from far off looked up in surprise, and Ash blanched.

“April… You brought this on yourself. Remember: this is my room, and I don’t ever want to see your face again!” He returned to his cabin and slammed the door shut.

Several minutes passed. Ash sighed for the umpteenth time as he heard April still right outside his cabin door, crying and wailing to herself. “…why am I so cursed with having to travel on this journey all by myself? The moment I saw him, I thought he would be a fine traveling companion, for he was of such a high status and he cared about me… That has never happened before! And now… I don’t want to believe it, but it seems I was wrong about him… He’s just yet another stuck-up, aloof important guy…” And then she burst out into renewed tears.

Ash pulled the pillows up to his ears. This is intolerable! Why hasn’t anyone come along and dragged her off!? Right, they’re all aboveboard partying. And me? Well with her at the door I can’t even get out without tripping over her and getting her to come after me, can I? This is just another reason why I shouldn’t ever help strangers… Next thing I know they’ll be listening to her sorry voice and dragging me off the ship instead for being ‘stuck-up’. If only she would quit bothering me!

Sabrina was totally wrong, as wrong as any psychic could possibly be. Me and her getting together? More like we’re total opposites! I don’t ever remember talking this much to people as she is, and I still have a quest to accomplish!

Okay, I can’t go on like this. That girl will have no end of crying, and come nightfall I won’t even be able to sleep. I’m outta here. If she wants to follow, well I’ll just act like she doesn’t exist.

Ash got up and opened his cabin door. Indeed, April was right beside the door, just sitting there so despondently. Ash stepped over her and proceeded to walk down the corridor. But he didn’t get very far.

“Oh, well, at least his ego isn’t big enough to let him step on me,” muttered April to herself but loud enough for Ash to hear.

Ash through up his hands in disgust. “What the heck was that about? April, I told you, leave me alone!” ((Kirlia, where are you?))

((I’m beside the elevators.))

((All right I’m coming.)) Ash resumed walking, but April followed right after him. “Now what?” he said angrily.

“I just want to be friends,” said April softly.

Ash sighed, pondering what to say. “Fine, but on one condition: you leave me alone.”

“Hey, that’s not called being friends,” April retorted.

“What-ever,” said Ash, not even bothering to look at her as he found his Kirlia by the elevator, dancing. Immediately it sensed their displeasure and stopped dancing, to teleport on Ash’s shoulder.

“Okay, I promise I won’t bother you that much from now on, okay?” said April, entering the same cage as he did as they proceeded to the deck.

“Good!” said Ash as he looked at his watch. It was past 5:00 in the afternoon. Time to get some food. Then the tournament will begin! The moment he thought of dinner he quickly became progressively hungrier. On second thought… next time I shouldn’t think about food… oops, just did it again.

“All right, let’s go get some food,” said April, leading the way as she skipped over to the on-deck restaurant. Ash was about to protest, but then decided that he just had to eat anyway. So he choose a table and sat down, releasing his Charmeleon and Cloyster. The moment the latter came out and realized his surroundings, he used his head spike to poke the button in the pokeball and vanished within it. Evidently Cloyster didn’t even want to try restaurant food. On the other hand, Charmeleon had already marked out five menu items.

“Whoa! Take it slow,” said Ash.

“It’s okay, I’ll foot its bill,” said April, sitting down opposite him and taking him by surprise yet again.

“What the… still following me around?! I guess I’ve just got darned luck,” muttered Ash. “How much money do you have with you anyway?”

“I’m down to 14,000.00 now,” replied April as she called a waiter over.

“You know, five dishes is going to cost 350.00 Kanto dollars,” warned Ash.

“As long as it makes you happy, I’m willing,” she replied.

Ash didn’t know what to make of that. It didn’t strike him as being the annoying, pest type to be acting in this manner. She wasn’t asking for him to foot the bill; it was the other way around. Oh, that’s awful nice of her to offer that. But I can’t have her foot the bill, because then I’ll be indebted to her and then she’ll have one more reason to follow me around everywhere.

“Charmeleon’s my pokemon, so I’ll be footing the bill on this one,” decided Ash. Besides, she hasn’t got a tenth as much money as I do. And it just wouldn’t be right anyway. And it also occurred to Ash that this was getting awfully similar to the ‘date’ that Sabrina had predicted. If I foot the bill for her, she’ll stick around so that she could have an opportunity to ‘repay the debt’. As another excuse. I can’t let her have it. “But you can pay your own bill. We’re doing this separately,” said Ash.

“Aww, why can’t we—?”

“No, final answer,” interrupted Ash. “Ah yes, I’ll have an omelet and a bacon cheeseburger,” he told the waiter, coolly handing over the menu in the process. Charmeleon’s list had gotten to a worrisome six menu items.

“I think I’ll forgo ordering additional food,” said Kirlia. “Charmeleon may be hungry now, but I know how much it can eat, so I’ll just wait to get the leftovers.”

“Oh, that’s very considerate of you,” complimented Ash.

“And I’ll get an omelet and a bacon cheeseburger,” said April. Ash’s eyes went wide. What’s she playing at? “Change my order to fish fillet and nachos,” he said abruptly. The shining glimmer in April’s eyes vanished.

I think she’s trying to court me, thought Ash. Oh, that’s just plain stupid. Whoever heard of a girl doing that? I… I just really don’t get it. There are like… three hundred other boys on this ship; why does she have to stick to me? I guess I really shouldn’t have played the VIP trump card… Not that I had any alternatives, though…

Soon after the food was delivered, April said, “If you’re wondering about my order, that’s actually the food I want to eat, so no, I wasn’t just mimicking you; I think we really do like the same foods!”

Ash retorted a bit unpleasantly, “well, my first order was to test if you’ll copy me; I don’t like that food at all.”

April’s eyes flashed with anger and she abruptly stood up, taking the plates in hand. “That’s it! I’ve had enough trouble lately, without having to try to impress a snob like you! Good bye!” She marched off to sit at a distant table.

Well now, THAT was unexpected, thought Ash.

((I’d have thought that April really liked you,)) communicated Kirlia. ((But by the looks of it I’m right after all!))

((Well, thank goodness you’re right, at least she’s not pestering me any more,)) noted Ash, quite relieved at last.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

“And now, for our first match of the evening! It’s…” announced the commentator. Ash was smiling absent-mindedly, content from having had a wonderful meal. On his shoulder sat Kirlia, as always. Around him sat hundreds of members of the audience, most of whom had their own pokemon stored and ready to go when it was their turn. Land was already out of sight, and the SS. Anne was cruising along without a hitch. The golden sun was starting to sink from the sky, illuminating the placid waters in front of the ship all tangerine and violet.

They were on the roof, where a sizeable arena had been set up. In the field in the middle, hexagons of sod-grass had been arranged into an interlocking pattern, beneath which was a significant amount of dirt. Two trainers stood at the near and far end of the field, pokeball in hand and looking confidently at their opponents.

“And now, for the rules. The preliminary rounds are three, and will take up four of the five days of this trip. Which trainer is green or red depends on their registration number, not expected results. These matches will be 1-on-1. In each match, two trainers are allowed to use only one pokemon against one of their opponent’s, not against the opponent directly. Trainers are not allowed to alternate between pokemon at any time during the match. At the end of each round trainers and their pokemon will be ranked by a panel of three judges on a scale of one to ten each. Those 256 trainers with the highest combined ranks – out of a maximum of 90 – and who have won at least two matches - will be allowed to progress into the eight elimination rounds. In the elimination rounds, trainers are allowed to use up to the standard six sanctioned by the League. Although the winner is the trainer whose pokemon are all defeated first, trainers will not have to leave the field when a pokemon is in dire trouble. Our handy squad of nurses will take care of those pokemon for you, so that you may concentrate on the match at hand. With that said, let the match begin!” The crowd cheered in anticipation.

Ash took out his notebook (the same one he had used back at Saffron) and took copious notes once again. Not that this time he knew a lot of material before he had to write them down, since he had spent his time wisely studying pokemon tactics. And the time passed by quickly, occasionally interrupted by the cheers of the crowd.

Two hours later, it was April’s first preliminary. PA: “All right folks, let’s give it up for the green trainer, James of Saffron City, and red trainer, April of Violet Town!” Ash finally caught a glimpse of April as she went down to the arena. “And now, let the match begin!”

“Go Quilava!” shouted April, throwing the ball really high and far into the air. Ash knew that to be a dog-like pokemon that had a blue back and tan chest from whose forehead and rear came intensely heated, flaming quills.

“Well in that case, go Totodile!” said the opponent as he threw his pokeball. It materialized first, into an alligator-like water pokemon, except that it walked erect. It glared at its opponent’s trainer, sure that the Quilava would stand no match.

From the other pokeball came a Pachirisu.

As soon as it came out, the cute white electric-cat pokemon released a wave of electricity that immediately paralyzed its tougher-looking but type-disadvantaged opponent. “Yeah, that’s it!” shouted April excitedly. Before the smugness had been swiped off the opposing trainer’s face, Pachirisu had followed up with a powerful electric discharge.

Ah, that’s neat! Tricking the opponent into using the wrong pokemon type to face off against yours… then taking advantage of their unprepared-ness, mused Ash. Even though April was a bother, this match might just be enough to compensate.

“Damn it!” cursed the opposing trainer upon losing so quickly and unexpectedly. “That was tricky of you, but it won’t last long!” But the judges were delighted and gave a combined score of 26.

April’s second match was an hour later. PA: “And now let us welcome green trainer April of Violet Town, who won with a stunning switch from Quilava to Pachirisu, and red…” Well, that reminded the audience of what April had pulled the first time. Not that the other trainer was wont to forget anyway…

Each held a pokeball in hand as they approached the arena, challenging each other to go first. “Don’t think I’ll be as big a fool as your previous opponent,” warned the opposing trainer.

“Enough of that; time to what you’ll use against my Gastly!” April replied, snickering.

“Hmm… I see what you’re up to. No tricking me this time! Go Fearow!”

Both trainers threw out their pokeballs. Out of one, the Fearow as it took to the air. Out of the other… Pachirisu again. It let out a bolt of electricity which struck right on target. The Fearow simply fell out of the air.

The crowd went wild cheering.

Once again! Exclaimed Ash to himself. April’s a tricky one right there. By saying she was going to use a ghost-type – which is weak to normal-type – she made her opponent think she was actually going to use a fighting type! So the opponent’s counter of a flying type meant that her Pachirisu would score another victory…

“Aargh!” roared the opponent angrily. Ash could tell that the man was no longer keeping his cool. “Why the heck does that keep happening!?” he shouted as he flailed wildly.

PA: “And the match goes to the green trainer!” The judges raised a 9, a 9, and a 10…

As the nurses took care of the defeated trainer’s pokemon, a wide-eyed, euphoric April stepped out of the arena, Pachirisu cuddled in her arms. She stopped by Ash’s side. “Well, what do you think?”

“Meh… It was good,” he replied curtly.

"It was that bad, huh?" April warmly replied.

"Well, not exactly "like that", he says as he feels sorry for the other trainer and his pokémon., "but I see that my old rival has been defeated so I think that I am going to help and console my old rival and his defeated pokémon, see ya."

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