The Path of the Aura: Intertwining Crossroads

Parallel Prologue (Part II (2)): Epic Battle! Disaster vs. Aura

Two and a Half Years Later…

Estimated Time: Very Late 20th Century

Riolu's Estimated Age: 2.5 Years

Over the course of thirty months, the Riolu that was last seen in bed, recovering from extensive injuries, has been training hard under the paws and claws of both Tiny and Grovyle.

Riolu trained hard from Tiny and learned all that was expected for it to learn from it.

He learned how to use telepathy.

He learned how to see the aura around him, utilizing the move FORESIGHT. However, he prefers to call it "Aura Vision" because Tiny called it Aura Vision, saying how FORESIGHT for their species is considerably different for other species of Pokémon. He was able to see the aura around him at a range of over 500 feet, with minimal effort.

He learned how to manipulate his overall weight at will, useful when falling off from a high distance, abating a powerful knockback, or leaping to gain a much-needed boost in vertical distance. Tiny also explained to him about a Lucario's Steel-Type defensive mechanism, where the overall density of its body is increased by 2000% when knocked unconscious, a useful trait to learn about prior to evolution.

He learned how to manipulate the aura within him to reduce damage from opponents' attacks and to deliver more damage to opponents. It also works with helping boost his normal physical ability, giving him a boost in whatever he wants, such as running speed, muscle size, jumping distance, etc.

He learned how to walk on water with the aura, a new concept that Tiny came up with.

He learned how to harness the aura around him and assimilate its power for his own. This will prove useful in long, arduous fights.

He learned how to use FORCE PALM, a Pokémon technique that allows the user to store a bit of energy in the center of the palms and detonate it at close-range or mid-range.

He learned how to read minds, sense the emotions of other organisms, and anticipate their actions—an ability that all Lucario and Riolu can utilize.

He learned how to climb walls, and cling onto ceilings, utilizing aura as his grappling hook.

As for his training with Grovyle, that's where the predictability abruptly ended. Grovyle didn't think that Riolu would be able to use the moves that it currently had in its arsenal: BULLET SEED, LEAF BLADE, MEGA DRAIN and SOLARBEAM. It thought that Riolu would only receive a physical benefit from the agility and jungle combat training that it had planned for him, but it was wrong.

It was very wrong.

Besides passing jungle combat training with flying colors, Riolu also learned every single technique that Grovyle had in its current disposal to teach, rendered beyond surprised at his results. Riolu perfected BULLET SEED, favors LEAF BLADE for close combat, only uses MEGA DRAIN—a technique that allows the user to assimilate an opponent's energy—when needed, and learned SOLARBEAM quite recently, albeit is overwhelmed by its requirements.

Fortunately, that effect was reduced greatly when Riolu finally evolved into a Lucario, which was when he had turned two years of age. The time for evolution was somewhat soon for a normal Riolu, but due to the highly dedicated and rigorous training that he did prior to his evolution, he's already learned all that a Riolu would ever know, even if he doesn't decide to utilize the moves that he knows.

(National Pokédex entry #448: Lucario, the Aura Pokémon. It is a Fighting-Type and a Steel-Type Pokémon that measures in at approximately 3' 11" in height and weighs in at an average 119.0 lbs. A well-trained one can sense auras to identify and take in the feelings of creatures over half a mile away. Since he can observe 500 feet away effortlessly, he's capable of exceeding himself if he chooses to concentrate harder.)

Lucario's height and weight—despite the stated Pokédex entry—actually far exceeded that of an average Lucario. He is actually 5' 2" in height—or 5' 9" if you include his ears—and weighs 150.0 lbs. exactly, a weight that is properly balanced with his height. His larger body size was an enigma to him.

A Lucario has black forepaws that end being black between the wrist and elbow and black hind paws that end being black just above the knees. All four paws have pink pads on them, for grip and protection. They have one white, bone spike on the upper side of the back of each of their wrists and one smaller, and rounder, spike directly located on top of their sternum. Alongside this exposed bone, their ears—with a black interior—, snout, and tails have grown significantly longer as well, compared to those of Riolu.

As for the yellow collar that they used to have in their previous form, it has turned into a yellow fur-colored torso, with an elevated fur collar. The black 'mask' that they used to have in their previous evolution has transformed as well. It has now turned into a black 'headband' with a black line that goes above the head and stretches between the ears and to the back of the head. They also have gained two more dreadlock-like appendages—two on the left side and two on the right side, resembling the excess cloth of a tied-on headband—, that are all behind the head and act as aura receptors when they're sensing aura.

Finally, their thighs have grown so much excess fur on them that they now can be best compared to blue, baggy parachute shorts. They also have a waistline that resembles a martial arts black belt, two thickly-furred "shoulder pads", and somewhat more menacing blood-red eyes.

Besides Riolu finally evolving into Lucario, he also learned many of the moves that any Lucario would be expected to learn, albeit not all of them, since he evolved only six months ago. He only knows four of these moves—ones that Tiny specified to him during his first day of his life—: BONE RUSH, METAL CLAW, ME FIRST, and especially AURA SPHERE.

Throughout his training and current age, he discovered an unusual fact about himself. He discovered that he never forgets a move that he already knows. In other words, his move set repertoire exceeds four. As is the case with his body mass, this phenomenon is an enigma to him.

However, he's not the only Pokémon that has evolved…

The Grovyle that taught Riolu—Lucario—all that it knew about agility and jungle combat has evolved as well. After defeating a swarm of wild Pinsir with Lucario about two weeks ago, it has evolved from a Grovyle into a Sceptile.

(National Pokédex entry #254: Sceptile, the Forest Pokémon. It is a Grass-Type Pokémon that measures in at 5' 07" and weighs in at approximately 115.1 lbs. The leaves that grow on its arms can slice down thick trees. It is without peer in jungle combat. In short, Sceptile is virtually unbeatable in the forest.)

Sceptile is a lizard-like, Grass-Type Pokémon that's commonly nicknamed as the "King of the Forest" due to their fast leaping skill, nonpareil skill in jungle combat, highest speed and agility in the jungle out of any other forest dweller, and near parental-like care for the forests that they inhabit. They're mostly green in terms of skin color, except for the red waistline and red skin on their lower jaws. They have six yellow-colored seed-like nodules that grow on their back—like those on leguminous plants, which can assimilate nitrogen from the air. These nodules serve the purpose of reviving trees due to their high nutrition and as emergency food that re-grows within hours. They have yellow eyes with black pupils, and a thick, dark green tail that bears broad and resilient leaves. Finally, it has two long leaves protruding from each of its arms that are blade-like in sharpness, durability…and lethality.

When Grovyle evolved into a Sceptile, it was an unpredicted, yet much-sought-after event that it was looking forward to ever since Lucario had evolved. Sadly, since it has only been a Sceptile for two measly weeks, it hasn't had the chance to learn any new techniques yet. Nevertheless, it did promise Lucario that it would teach him all of the new moves it would learn once it does. And until it does, it'll keep training and sparring with him and Tiny, to grow stronger and further evolve its martial acumen.

Tiny, for personal reasons, chose not to evolve into a Lucario as well. It had four reasons for abandoning evolution:

Reason #1: it grew accustomed at the thought of being small and light thanks to its nickname.

Reason #2: it always wanted to become stronger as a Riolu and only as a Riolu.

Reason #3: many Riolu that become Lucario grow more mature in terms of personality, often for worse.

And Reason #4: it always hated the thought of having sharp bone spikes protruding from it. It always thought that they'll get in the way with whatever it would be doing. It would find them difficult to sleep with, because it thought of them being self-hazardous.

Unfortunately for Tiny, evolution will always occur. Resisting and temporarily halting the process takes a massive toll on a Pokémon's stamina and energy. Fortunately, thanks to the dedication of both Lucario and Sceptile, it managed to obtain an Everstone—a unique hold-item with special properties that prevents evolution—among the massive forest. So as long as it has the stone nearby it for every waking morning, it will no longer have to fatigue itself with canceling evolution.

As for the Absol that swore to fight Lucario to the death, back when he was still a Riolu, it left the tree house after being fully healed after about a week of (reluctant) medicinal treatment, and left the forest without a trace of its physical being. However, it did leave behind a message to him prior to its leaving. It was a message that it wanted fulfilled.

"I'll train in solitude far away from the forest for thirty months and come back expecting you to have evolved before I return. I'll enhance my fighting skills and improve myself to the point of being your opposite. I hope for your sake that you'll grow enough in both age and experience to become a powerful Pokémon, as well a challenging opponent. Once I leave, spread the word of our eventual battle to the entire forest so that they'll enjoy a spectacle of a lifetime, as I decimate you before killing you. We'll meet on the Forest Cliffside and until then, I hope—for your sake only—you enjoy the remainder of your life."

To the surprise of many residing Pokémon, Lucario did do what Absol wanted him to do. He did spread the word of this expected battle that will occur over the next thirty months. He did grow as powerful as he physically and mentally could, and as quickly as he could, thanks to Sceptile's and Tiny's thoughtful training. All of this was to fight Absol to the death, and Lucario was oddly looking forward to it.

What could he find interesting over possible death? Over his training time, he considered Absol to be a rival, one that he hated with all his emotions, yet respected in the end. His friends, despite multiple attempts to make him think differently, eventually gave up on making him think otherwise.

And that was what occurred in the past thirty months. But now, the past is history, and the future has yet to be written. The present is the keypad utilized to write this future—my keypad.

Location: Lucario's Subconscious

From within the subconscious of the Aura Pokémon, unexplainable events and random dreams are always at play, as they should be.

However, for Lucario, that explanation of the subconscious can't describe his.

His subconscious wasn't as repeated and nowhere near as random as any other Pokémon's, whether it would be human or Pokémon. Very often, the exact same dream occurs for him and he can't ever go by a week without having that same dream pop out of hiding in his mind. It has been happening for one day of every single week of his life, and it hasn't stopped, not even after a Psychic-Type Pokémon devoured the dream with the DREAM EATER technique—and that has been done under Lucario's wishes.

And today was another of those days in which he was experiencing that same dream, making this the 130th time to date.

Within this recurring reverie, he was sitting down on the forest soil, with his legs crossed pensively, his paws placed together by the knuckles, and his arms resting on top of his legs. His sanguine eyes were concealed by his sable eyelids and he was meditating quietly.

After about a few minutes of peace and quiet in the lush green forest, Lucario concentrated on focusing his serenity into improving himself mentally and spiritually.

However, his ears twitched slightly as he detected an abnormality happening in the forest.

He could've sworn he heard crackling and very faint hissing sounds from farther inside the forest. He was thinking that those sounds were just from his imagination, until he smelled a type of scent that he knew for a fact should never to exist in this forest.


Without a moment to waste, he opened his eyes and quickly stood up, only to gaze in horror at what was occurring all around him to the forest in his dreams. The blue sky instantly turned black and red with toxic smoke. Every tree that was within his field of vision is set ablaze with a lethal conflagration. Every forest-dwelling Pokémon around him—including the Flying-Type Pokémon—tried to escape the inferno, but only about 60% of them actually succeeded. The remaining 40% of them burned—or began burning—to a crisp before falling to the floor…deceased due to sustained third-degree burns.

"Oh my Arceus…" He muttered to himself—in a newly-acquired, telepathic deep-voice—over the horrendous sight he was witnessing.

Immediately, from behind him, he sensed the presence of the surviving Pokémon escaping from something else. Turning around, he noticed what they were running from. Chasing after the helpless Pokémon was a group of about five or so shrouded humanoids, running with superior agility. The fire and smoke was so intense that they all appeared as pitch-black silhouettes beside the fire.

"Who…are they?" He muttered to himself, narrowing his sharpened eyes to get a slightly more focused look on the predators.

Despite the fact that they were mostly black when between the conflagrations, he was able to identify some unusual characteristics about them. He found out that they had on berets as a form of headgear, and a jumpsuit with boots. Unfortunately, that's about it, since they are sable and don't have any other colors on them.

"Why are there…people here?" He soliloquized once more, still not taking his eyes away from them.

Once the human-resembling silhouettes were within ten feet of the fleeing Pokémon, an unusual characteristic amongst these enigmatic phantoms began to occur. The area on their faces, directly where their eyes should be, immediately opened up. A robotic, soul-piercing, incandescent red light appeared for their eyes.

And the instant that these sanguine eyes made contact with the Pokémon victims that the silhouettes were targeting, the Pokémon were immediately transformed into pure red energy before flying over to the chest of their predators. Once assimilated, their chests immediately emanated an incredibly ominous, and somewhat unexpected, thick and red capital letter "R".

"…" He was left wide-eyed and speechless at this first-person sight.

Once all five of the silhouettes had assimilated one Pokémon victim—the eerie red "R" radiating on their chests—, they let the remaining percentage of wild Pokémon leave and then they immediately targeted the speechless Aura Pokémon.

Immediately, Lucario became edgy.

"Oh shit…" were the only two words that his telepathic mind spoke.

Confused as to what the silhouettes' next choice of action was going to be, he decided not to stay in place for any longer and learn what they were capable of. He knew that he was outmatched—via a repetition of this same exact dream—and literally ran like hell through the surviving forest in the opposite direction of the enigmatic figures, knowing that retaliation is immaterial and suicidal.

Unfortunately, he didn't notice that all five silhouettes slipped to the ground and into their shadows before traveling to Lucario at a far greater speed than he could run.

The silhouettes soon caught up to his shadow, and then keep on going onward about fifty feet ahead of him before they all reemerged from their respective shadows in a V-shape formation.

Lucario gasped at their sudden appearance and then he instantly ingrained both feet into the dirt, stopping a few feet away from the closest silhouette. Their bright, piercing red eyes and glowing R's on their chests were more than enough to keep him frozen in place with fear.

These abnormalities… They were neither human nor Pokémon. What they are, however, is dangerous.

"…" Lucario tried his hardest not to speak and even harder to not even think. He was now staring at the ominously stagnant silhouettes in front of him.

Many seconds passed where silence and rock-like stillness were the only two factors that all six of these atypical life forms had in common. But eventually, this stagnancy was broken.

Immediately, all five human-resembling silhouettes once again dropped down into their shadows. What happens next was something new to the dream—much to Lucario's surprise. The shadows all fused into one shadow, with a 70% increase in their overall size.

"…!" Lucario had a dropped jaw and a surprised countenance. "(What's going on here? This has never happened before!)" Lucario thought, knowing that this dream in particular has taken a new route out of the norm.

Slowly, the newly fused shadow began to rematerialize into this third-dimensional world, with a similarity to surfacing lava.

"…" Lucario looked on at this turn of events.

As of now, the shadow had already exceeded four feet in height, and was beginning to form a humanoid shape. Slowly, legs began to form, as well as arms. As it eventually exceeded six feet in height and stopped growing further, a head began to shape itself.

Lucario couldn't help but be frightened at this new and ominous sight. Xenophobia was slowly strangling him in its chokehold.

As the shadow was finishing forming, it was growing more and more human, but the human it resembled was different. It appears to be dressed in chic clothing, wearing an orange-colored suit, with a white collared shirt and a red tie. It was wearing shoes just as equally upscale as its suit. Finally, it had an athletically stout appearance and it appeared to have short hair on the top of its head, combed backwards and well-groomed.

The Aura Pokémon was completely frozen in place.

Just like the other five silhouettes before it, this super-silhouette had two red lights for eyes, but with a considerable increase in intensity. They appeared to bathe Lucario in their red light.

"Who…what are you?" he demanded, wanting an answer from the super-silhouette.

This new figure remained silent, and the only thing it did was lift its right hand and pointed to Lucario with one finger, coming within inches to poking him in the eye. Lucario stared at this finger apprehensively, never removing his gaze from it.

"I…want…" It said with multiple, demonic voices, the voices of the five merged silhouettes. "…You…"

The last thing Lucario saw was everything around him turning red, and the last thing that penetrated his ears was a high-pitched ringing. All of his other senses went blank.

Location: Sceptile's Tree House (Lucario's Room)

Estimated Time: Morning

With a blood-chilling scream of fear that rattled across the forest like a sharp shrill of a bird-like Pokémon, Lucario woke up and jerked his upper body perpendicular to the bed he was resting in. He was soaked to the skin in a cold sweat, hyperventilating with an elevated heart rate. He recalled how he stopped reacting so heavily to this recurring nightmare during his first few months of life, but now that was no longer the case, what with this new path that his dream guided him through.

Within seconds, Sceptile barged into the room, with the leaves on its arms emanating a bright green color. It was on guard, utilizing LEAF BLADE in case it was needed.

"What's going on in here?" It said while shifting its yellow eyes left and right, as if looking for someone that's responsible for Lucario's awakening outburst.

"(*Pant*)… (*Pant*)… (*Pant*)…" His breathing began to stabilize. "It's all right, Sceptile. Nothing's going on here," He said with a reassuring smile. "I just had that same nightmare again," he then stopped smiling and stared at Sceptile solemnly. "Only this particular nightmare differed from the norm…"

Sceptile remained quiet for a brief moment before speaking.

"Is that all?" It groaned in disappointment and dismissed its current LEAF BLADE technique—having the leaves on its arms reverting back to normal. "I thought that you shouted because that hostile Absol came back and decided to ambush you in your sleep."

"If it did decide to attack, I would never succumb to an ambush attack because, even though I'm asleep, I'm sufficiently vigilant."

Sceptile rolled its eyes in annoyance. "I know that already. You've told me enough times already."

It then decided to change the subject and say something else.

"How about something more pressing. You do remember that—"

"Absol is coming back today," He stole the words that Sceptile was about to say by reading its mind.

The Forest Pokémon remained silent and didn't continue speaking. It never liked the idea of Lucario learning how to listen to thoughts from Tiny because now, Sceptile could no longer keep a secret.

"(I hate it when you do that…)"

"I know you do," He smirked and chuckled a little.

Sceptile shook its head and sighed in defeat. "Just get your sweat-logged ass off of the bed already before you drown," It commanded before sniffing the surrounding air, and then wrinkling its scaly countenance. "You're starting to stink up the place."

"I'll be going then." Lucario said before getting off of the bed and jumping out of the window he made on the wall thirty months ago. Then, he proceeded over to the nearby waterfall within this forest, leaving the Forest Pokémon alone in his room.

Despite its frustration over his stalwart psychic capabilities, it couldn't help but smile and admire his capability of reading the thoughts of others. It secretly envied those exotic aura-based abilities and strongly desired learning them.

That smile faded when its eyes trailed off and pinpointed the puddle of sweat on the bed. "(I would think that I should be used to this by now…)" It thought before picking up the sheets and leaping out of the room by the window, going to the same waterfall and river that Lucario was going to, but for a different reason.

…A more hygienic reason.

Location: Waterfall

The waterfall and river that was nearby Sceptile's place of residence was only about one minute away. Once Lucario reached the location, he saw the same exact place that he's come to remember. He recalls the eight-story-high waterfall rolling off of a cliff, the lake of clean, pristine water that had the same square area as that of a football field, and finally the river that stretched on for miles across the forest.

This was his ideal place for meditation. He would, on a daily basis, sit down directly below the roar of the waterfall, on a stone "island" that the waterfall always falls on, and allow the dozens of gallons of water that it drops every second to pound on top of him.

He stopped walking once he found himself between the lake and the waterfall. As he looked at both unique bodies of water back and forth, he had a bit of contemplation on what to do next. He could dive into the lake and take a morning swim or he could meditate below the waterfall for however long he desires—prior to his fight with Absol today that is.

With either decision, he'll be cleaner than he was last night.

He made his decision. He eyed the rock that the waterfall was pounding away on and decided to meditate underneath it. However, just as he was about to swim across the body of water and towards the waterfall, he suddenly heard the presence of someone on the top of the cliff.

"(Somebody's there…)" he thought suspiciously.

Still having his eyes locked on the enigmatic figure on top of the cliff, his dreadlock-like appendages vibrated horizontally and defied gravity as they became perfectly parallel with each other. The veins within his eyes swelled with extra blood flow. The blood-red color of his eyes transmogrified into a pure gold color. Simultaneously, the facial blood vessels veiled by the black marking of his fur bulged with extra blood flow.

He was now using Aura Vision—or FORESIGHT as other Pokémon refer it by—, and was able to see the aura around and beyond what he normally saw.

Immediately, he identified the Pokémon on top of the cliff to be Tiny. He knew it was Tiny because of two reasons: Tiny's bipedal and its aura gives off the same, nostalgic colors that he has known for a long time. He sees the same yellow-green, orange, lavender, dark yellow and a grey color in its aura that has formed into a unique combination that only belongs to Tiny and it alone.

Once Tiny exposed itself from the cliff, Lucario didn't need to use the Aura Vision technique anymore and simply turned it off. Once off, his dreadlock-like appendages were once again under the influence of gravity and his eye color changed from the metallic gold color he has, back to their normal blood red color. His faced relaxed once the extra blood flow across his eyes and face faded away.

Tiny, despite the fact of standing on top of an eight-story-high cliff and waterfall, was able to notice Lucario below. To assure him that it did in fact see him, it waved briefly to him and said with a stronger tone of voice "Hey Lucario! Good morning!"

To make sure that he did see Tiny and hear it, he also waved to the Emanation Pokémon and said only two words. "Good morning!"

Once that was out of the way, the Emanation Pokémon spread its arms out fully horizontal and jumped off of the cliff; and just before it finally landed on the lake below, it managed to do eight front flips before landing into the water, with the expertise of a cliff diver.

Lucario decided to stay put and take the cold water to the face, closing his eyes momentarily so that they would be spared the same fate as the fur on his fur. However, the water splashed his whole body rather than just his face. Lucario took this so that he would be more used to the shock of being bombarded by cold water.

He never enjoyed the cold.

Once Tiny resurfaced, Lucario said "If I were a judge, I'd give you a nine out of ten."

Tiny was a bit confused with its score. "Why don't you just give me a ten? What was wrong with my dive?"

He lifted his paw and raised one finger. "One: I'm not a judge." He then lifted another finger, "And two: the score that I've given you is of little value." He put his arm down and walked over to the waterfall, around the body of water that was the lake.

This left Tiny with the need to ask him something. "You know what?" it said while swimming around the lake's edge and staying nearby to the Aura Pokémon as he walked. "Ever since you've evolved about six months ago, you've quickly matured in terms of your personality."

Lucario was already within arm's length to the waterfall. He took out one paw and placed it below the waterfall, getting a feel for the force he'll be easily able to endure. "And is that a good thing or a bad thing?" He said with his eyes locked onto the paw he placed below the waterfall.

"Well…It depends on how you've matured." It swam just nearby the boulder that was both where Lucario was on and where the waterfall was pounding away at, keeping a distance where it wouldn't have water fly at its eyes. "For example, when you were a Riolu, you were a cheerful and naïve little Pokémon that was full of hidden talent and capabilities, such as how you don't forget moves that you've learned and how you were able to use moves that I know for a fact a Riolu can never use, like LEAF BLADE and SOLARBEAM."

He put down his paw to his side and moved himself under the waterfall, already used to the downward pressure that it inflicts on his body. He sat down on the boulder, crossed his legs, curled up his paws, connected his knuckles to each other, rested his arms on his legs, and closed his eyes. "Go on please," he said, cloaked underneath the veil of the waterfall.

What they didn't know, or at least appeared to not know, was that Sceptile was at the opposite end of the lake, right where the river begins. It was washing Lucario's bed sheets for him, thinking to itself "(Do I do everything for these two Pokémon?)" and "(Do they appreciate my acts of generosity?)"

Tiny just stayed there in the same spot, floating nonchalantly above the surface of the water.

"But now that you're a Lucario…" It paused for couple of seconds to gather up the words it planned on using. "…You've lost your naiveté, and you've become somewhat rude, haughty, and occasionally laconic." It wrinkled its face at him, almost as if it was pissed off at the Aura Pokémon's current attitude.

"Isn't that how any Lucario is naturally?" He droned and still maintained his statue-like posture.

"(Well how should I know? I'm not a Lucario!)" Tiny thought.

"Of course you're not… I'm the only Lucario resident within this forest." He said, having heard Tiny's thoughts with ease.

Once again, Tiny was speechless, but not for long because it realized fully what Lucario said.

"You do have a point," it admitted. Then, it turned around and decided to ask Sceptile a question. "Hey Sceptile!" It shouted to it.

Sceptile paused doing what it was doing and looked at the source of the voice, "Yeah?"

"You're about as old as I am, right? Eight years old?"


"Before you met me and made that tree house of yours, while you traveled across the planet before settling down here, did you ever encounter another Lucario?"

Sceptile crossed his arms, in a manner that doesn't have the blade-like leaves on his arms slice each other in half, and stared at the water below, almost in a self-made mental trance.

"(Well… There was this one light-furred Lucario that nicknamed itself 'Wanderer'… I remember giving that Pokémon some of the Nanab Berries that I've collected one day and it traveled with me for a few days before going off on its own path. That was when I was a newly-evolved Grovyle, about six years ago…)" It trailed off in its own thoughts, across a long path down Memory Lane.

"Sceptile!" Tiny boomed to get his attention.

"Huh? What?" It snapped out of its memory trance and remembered what Tiny asked from it. "As a matter of fact, I did!"

"Was it naturally somewhat rude, haughty, and occasionally laconic?" It shouted, repeating how it described Lucario.

"…" Sceptile formed its pondering stance again and stared at the water below once more and rethought about Wanderer. "(Hmm… It was somewhat rude, haughty, and occasionally laconic. But, it wasn't completely like… No, it wasn't like that at all. It was very well-mannered, polite…although a bit serious on occasion. It also knew some stories about Legendary Pokémon and how it met a few of them. It also said that it picked up an ancient language along its travels. If I recall correctly, it said it only sparred with one of those Legendary Pokémon, one that was its exact type-opposite. And that Pokémon's name was Ho—)"

Sceptile was cut short of its pondering when Tiny splashed its face with water, having swum up to the Forest Pokémon to avoid yelling from across the lake.

"What the hell!" It didn't like the sudden change of events.

"Are you mentally digressing off again?" Tiny shouted, despite being five feet away from it.

"…" Sceptile tried to think of a good response, and luckily for the impatient Tiny, it didn't take as long. "So what if I am?"

"You've been doing that ever since you've evolved after that wild Pinsir ambush!"

"Hey, If you got a concussion from them hitting you dead center on the crown of your head," It pointed at the very top of its head.

"Well I've never gotten a concussion in my life, so I—"

Without them knowing, a bright orb of concentrated aura was fired at them. It impacted the water that was five feet away from them both and caused a ten-foot-high pillar of water to rise and spread out far. Once the pillar receded, it left behind two soused Pokémon. The source of the AURA SPHERE stood before them on the surface of the water.

"Can you both argue about something that is worthy of purpose rather than this immaterial prattle?" He said with crossed arms and a bone-dry serious look on his face.

"…" Both drenched Pokémon seemed to have mollified, the cold water drowning their heated spite.

Lucario continued. "When I meditate, I don't just sit down and breathe, I also listen to whatever's going on around my surroundings and if needed, listen closely."

Sceptile was removing the excess water off of its arms and tail as it listened to Lucario.

Tiny, whom was still in the water, didn't seem to care about the water. "And…your point is?"

"I read Sceptile's mind," he said laconically, unchanged in facial appearance.

"…" Sceptile was having highly mixed feelings about if reading the thoughts of anyone was a valuable asset or an immaterial ability.

"I'm guessing by your smirk that you found the answer that I wanted, right."

Lucario just nodded three times in agreement.

"What did you find from my thoughts?" Sceptile said, still deciding on the importance of this powerful ability.

"You met another Lucario that nicknamed itself 'Wanderer'. You gave it some of the Nanab Berries that you've gathered throughout your travels and offered it temporary hospitality. It said it faced a Legendary Pokémon. You also thought that Wanderer wasn't fully negative. You thought that it was very polite and a delight to have around you for the time being."

"…" Tiny pondered the emotions of the mentioned Lucario that was nicknamed Wanderer.

Sceptile closed its eyes and nodded slowly, realizing that mind reading was an invaluable ability.

"And this answer was found instantly without the need for excessive noise or violence: any Lucario can be emotionally positive, but only when they want to be and not in excess." He stepped towards the surface and picked up the bed sheets that Sceptile had washed for him and was about to walk back home to leave them there to dry, but stopped before the Forest Pokémon.

"Before I return home, I also paid attention about the doubts of your services. We do appreciate your generosity, and you don't do everything for us." He gave Sceptile a comforting pat on the shoulder and then jumped up high onto a branched on a nearby tree. Then, he hopped across them with great speed, having it to thank for heightening its agility in the forest. He left behind a trail of water as he progressed, his fur drying off in the wind with each stride.

"…" Sceptile began to get teary-eyed, however the water on its face made it difficult to see if it was actually crying.

"You know, it is right about how we appreciate your help." Tiny said before getting out of the lake, ruffling its fur to remove clinging water, and then following Lucario.

Sceptile took a moment to pause to regain its composure. It smiled, removed the tears from below its eyes with its claws, and then followed both Pokémon home.

Location: Sceptile's Tree House (Outside)

Lucario, being the first Pokémon to leave the waterfall, was the first Pokémon to return back to Sceptile's dwelling. He hung his bed sheets on a nearby branch and left them there to dry.

His stomach began growling at him. He knew it was time for breakfast, and he has yet to eat something.

"(There better be some Sitrus Berries left over…)" He muttered in his thoughts.

Once at the kitchen, he found the wooden box that stores their gathered Berries in. Opening the lid, he curiously looked at the contents of the box. Within its wooden confines existed a few Magost Berries—Tiny's favorite—, a couple of Figy Berries, four Nanab Berries—Sceptile's favorite—, two Rawst Berries, dozens of Oran Berries, three Sitrus Berries—Lucario's favorite—, and two Lum Berries.

He began to hum to himself while deciding what to eat. Normally, he would go straight for the Sitrus Berries on any other day. But this isn't a normal day. For all Lucario could know, this could be the last day of his life because of the eventual and inevitable fight with Absol.

He never bothered to think that way though, so as to not lose confidence in himself. The only thought that he thought of, relating to his fight, was that he was going to pry Absol's mouth open with his bare hands, and then stuff an AURA SPHERE down its throat in order to permanently end its life.

So, instead of choosing the Sitrus Berries for the umpteenth time, he grabbed the Figy Berry instead, despite its strong—but not Spelon Berry strong—spiciness. He closed the wooden box, and then sat down on one of the kitchen chairs, staring curiously at the Berry.

"(When was the last time I had one of you for breakfast?)" He thought briefly while staring at the bottle-shaped Figy Berry that he was holding.

Biting off the top and swallowing it whole—getting a taste for the somewhat plain skin—he then drank the juice of the Figy Berry that it had stored within its center. Its taste can be best compared to hot sauce, but with significantly more flavor and filling. Within his mind, he compared the flavor to all of the other food items that he's devoured or drank as a beverage and found the Figy Berry to be above average. Finally, he finished the Berry by eating the skin in a few bites.

Within seconds, both Tiny and Sceptile arrived home and came inside the house, as dry as Lucario when he came in earlier.

Both Pokémon that arrived at the same time retrieved their favorite Berries for breakfast from the wooden box. Tiny held two Magost Berries, one in each paw. Sceptile, despite its large stature, only grabbed one Nanab Berry. They both began to chip away at their flesh of their chosen Berries with their teeth, enjoying the flavors of their favorite fruit.

Lucario decided to get the last remaining Figy Berry from the wooden box. He began to devour it in the same exact manner as before. In the middle of that, a thought related to Tiny emerged in his mind. He recalled the dark yellow color of aura that Tiny had, and decided to ask about it, since he noticed it showed much greater intensity than normal.

"Hey Tiny," Lucario said, simultaneously chewing on the Figy Berry, with no evidence of a muffled voice because he was using telepathy to speak. "Can I inform you about something important?"

Tiny turned its head to face the telepathic voice's source before swallowing the remaining piece of the first Magost Berry in its mouth. "Did you say something?"

"Yes. I asked you if I can inform you—"

"Sure, go ahead," Tiny interrupted with a smile and a bit of enthusiasm.

"(Hmm… How should I phrase this sentence appropriately…)" He thought for a moment before coming out with what he wanted to say. "I sensed the dark yellow aura emanating from you triple in output. From what you've taught me, when aura emanates dark yellow in terms of color, it represents unforgivable anger at someone or something."

"…" That smile of its immediately faded into a serious straight line on its face.

Sceptile was just lying back on the wall and listening to what both blue Pokémon had to say. It unpeeling the Nanab Berries that it had on its clawed hands before eating away at the fruit.

"Today is the day that Absol told me that it would return and fight me to the death. Is there some link between you and Absol that you've kept secret between us?"

"…Uh…" Tiny was left speechless by how accurate Lucario's facts were.

About ten seconds passed before Lucario spoke again. "Well?" He said before chewing and swallowing the last piece of the second Figy Berry that he was holding in his paw. He was expecting an answer relating to what his mentioned facts described, but wanted to hear them, and not read them from Tiny's thoughts. That way, it was no longer a private matter that he was intruding upon.

"…" Tiny sighed with a closed mouth and placed the second Magost Berry that it had in its hand on the kitchen table. It then sat down on one of its chairs and began to speak about its past. "It's about time I talked about my past."

(Tiny's Flashback)

Five years ago…

Within the center of a forest, Tiny and a group of ten Riolu resided in tranquility. All of them were similar in terms of age. During this particular time, the Riolu that Tiny lived alongside with were only a few months old, naïve and inexperienced.

To help overcome their current neophyte status, they were all sparring against each other in friendly duels, teaching each other what they knew. Tiny was often the sparring target, defending against each punch and kick that the other Riolu threw at it.

"I was only about three years old, and I was completely responsible for the safety of ten inexperienced Riolu. I was their leader. They depended on me." Tiny narrated from within the flashback.

Tiny left the group and leaped from tree branch to tree branch to reach a secret area of the forest that only it knew about. That secret area was about two miles away and was filled with multiple plants that grew multiple types of Berries.

"I was a sincere and status-conscious leader, who always put the manageable needs of my group ahead of my own."

Tiny plucked one Berry from each plant for each Riolu in the group, picking one for itself last—one Magost Berry. It went back to the group by hopping across branches on the top of the trees, careful so as to not drop one single Berry. However, if it did fumble, it would simply drop down and retrieve it.

"However," Tiny spoke once more, only with a more melancholy tone. "Once I came back to my group, tragedy occurred."

"What kind of a tragedy?" Lucario questioned.

"I bet I know…" Sceptile muttered under its voice.

"(*Sigh*)" Tiny's voice almost came to the point of cracking. "Once I got back to my group…"

Tiny stopped hopping across the branches and came down to the forest floor, only being about twenty feet away from the group of Riolu. However, once Tiny reached the group, it was immediately filled with shock.

"…everybody was dead, their corpses scattered on the floor, staining the soil red with their blood."

Every single Riolu was dead right on the forest floor—as Tiny recalled—, horribly mutilated, with arms and legs scattered across the group, and a pool of blood large enough to run as a river.

Tiny dropped all of the Berries that it was holding and was suddenly filled with so much nausea that it vomited, crying in sadness afterwards.

"Bodies were rent. Blood ran down like a creek. I swore I threw up heavily."

Once Tiny stopped crying and heaving in tandem, it immediately noticed two important factors from this current scene, despite its hardest attempts in not doing so because of the emotional pain that it was constantly inflicting onto it.

It noticed that the victims each bore massive cuts across their body, mostly around their torso. The cuts looked clean and precise, likely to have come from something sharp and blade-like. Besides that ghastly sight, it also noticed that, of the ten Riolu, only nine were scattered across the forest.

One of them was missing.

"And just as I thought that things couldn't get any worse, I met—"

"Let me guess…Absol?" Sceptile interrupted.

"Unfortunately…" Tiny's voice cracked and the floodgates opened within its eyes.

Immediately, Tiny heard a sound from behind it. Turning around, it was immediately afraid of the Absol behind it, but it wasn't because of its sudden presence. It was what it had on it.

Within its jaws was the neck of the tenth Riolu. The remainder of its body dangled from its jaws.

"It had one of the ten Riolu on its mouth," Tiny calmed down momentarily, but not sufficiently. "That Riolu was only seconds away from death because it was missing an arm and both legs."

"…" Both listening Pokémon were quiet. They were both imaging the scene that Tiny must've witnessed, and getting a new viewpoint at how malicious the Absol that they all knew about truly was.

As Absol stepped closer to the terrified Emanation Pokémon, and as Tiny was shuffling back in fear, Tiny could hear the faint, shallow breathing of the inopportune Riolu.

"Help…me…" It managed to say before finally going limp, once Absol's teeth dug into its neck deeper, penetrating its spinal cord at the back of its neck.

Tiny heart almost stopped beating when it saw the last Riolu of its group die—especially since this is the only one that it witnessed die.

"After the last Riolu in my group died, I began to have nightmares for a month after seeing what occurred next."

Once the Absol no longer felt a pulse from the neck of the Riolu in its mouth, it clamped its jaws further into the body, easily splitting it into three bloody segments. The torso and the head fell to the ground, separate and lifeless. The neck of the deceased was still in Absol's jaws, but not for long because it spat the dead Riolu's neck out of its mouth. Its mouth was flooded with the blood of the Riolu, as well as its front paws. Both dripped down onto the forest floor, absorbed by the soil immediately.

"That Absol bit the dead Riolu into three parts." Tiny melancholically said, having the two other Pokémon listening to it almost lose their appetite.

"(How malicious…)" Sceptile thought, knowing now about Absol's and Tiny's past.

Tiny was just full of grief now. Its face was full of tears and it was hyperventilating uncontrollably, but remained stationary and didn't even speak. It attempted to vomit a few more times, but its stomach was already emptied of its contents. The Absol just continued to stare at the Riolu, eyes more sanguine than the blood on the soil, and soon it decided to speak to Tiny.

"Then, it spoke to me…"

"I won't kill you yet." It said, revealing the Riolu's blood that had stained its mouth to Tiny. "You don't seem strong enough yet, especially after your little downpour."

"…and decided to walk away with no signs of repent of its actions."

It felt like it said enough and walked off to the right side of Tiny, not even showing any form of guilt in any way whatsoever to the genocide that it just committed. "(Perhaps if we meet again…)" The Absol thought to itself.

As Tiny watched it walk away, it felt such sudden spite that it wants to end that Pokémon's life right here and now. However, it had enough of a survival instinct to know that if it fought that Absol now, it would die, alongside its fellow brethren. The Riolu that Absol slaughtered were no match for it.

What would guarantee Tiny to be any more of a match than they were?

After a few minutes of mental despair, Tiny decided to cremate its dead comrades. It piled up the dead bodies together, somehow figuring out where each mutilated limb belonged to in the process by matching the mutilation injuries. It then covered the corpses with the surplus of fallen leaves until only the leaves themselves were visible, and not the blood or the corpses underneath.

Finally, it made a fire by rubbing two sticks forcefully together and then throwing the lit sticks to the pile of leaves. Immediately, the fire spread and quickly covered the entire pile of leaves and bodies in scorching heat. The surrounding trees were in no ways close enough or low enough to catch fire.

Tiny continued to stare at the fire that was cremating its comrades, finding it somewhat difficult to do so with waterlogged eyes. It picked up all of the Berries that it dropped earlier and decided to throw them all in the fire as well, finding no need in eating fruit that belonged to them. It kept its Magost Berry and looked on at the fire and the fruit simultaneously.

"As I continued to stare at the fire I made to cremate my departed comrades, I vowed to avenge them and kill the Absol responsible, once I've grown strong enough."

(End of Tiny's Flashback)

"And after the cremation, I came across the tree house that belonged to Sceptile when it was still a Grovyle. It wasn't too long afterwards."

"You were bawling when we first met," Sceptile recalled. "I took pity in you and allowed you to live with me in my home, as long as you did your share of the chores."

"Hmm…" Lucario put all that Tiny spoke of itself and Absol approximately five years ago, and then he spoke to Tiny. "Well, that explains how you met that ominously nostalgic Absol, as well as how that dark yellow color formed within your aura. But that still doesn't explain why that dark yellow aura color of yours has tripled in size."

"It's because…" Tiny said, pausing to bet a better chain of words to use. "…Because I've wanted that Absol dead by my hands. I've wanted to kill it because I've lost more from it than you have."

"I had lost half of my total amount of blood and a good chunk of skin from my torso when I first met Absol."

"And all of that was rejuvenated perfectly within a week!" Tiny shouted unnecessarily, with a rather angry tone of voice. "You don't even have a scar to show what Absol did to you!"

Lucario put a paw on his torso and stared at the area where the claw marks from Absol's claw swipe landed. Tiny did have a point about how his body healed to perfection. He didn't have a scar, or even a patch of fur missing from the wounded area. "(How queer…)" He thought to himself, removing his gaze and his grip on his torso.

"I've lost my entire group because of it!" Tiny continued. "I've got more to fight for than you do!"

Lucario looked back at Tiny, not caring at all that he was being shouted at. "You're pissed off at that Absol, and not me, am I right?" He said with a calm countenance.

"…Yes…" Tiny calmed himself upon the realization that it was shouting at one of its closest friends.

"Is it because it saw me as a better target and chose to fight against me, because I was much more stalwart than you?"

Tiny grabbed the Magost Berry that it placed down earlier. Then, it looked down at the ground in disappointment, dropping a few tears onto the ground in the process. "Y-yes…" Its voice was cracking up mildly and its breathing was beginning to become irregular once again. "(I should've just killed that Absol when it was still recovering, and I should've just left it to die when you shattered its jaw with an AURA SPHERE)."

"Then why didn't you?" Lucario was paying attention to its thoughts. "Back when you and I first met, why didn't you finish Absol off when you had the chance?"

"…" it immediately brought up its head in realization on its actions.

"Seriously, why didn't you?" Sceptile said, curious as to what possible reason Tiny might have. "You had me carry it home and nurse its injuries. Why would you want that?"

"…Because… Because I… I wanted to fight it…in perfect condition." It said feebly.

Both Lucario and Sceptile wrinkled their foreheads in confusion.

"Despite…what it did…to my friends… I felt like…the honorable…and moral thing to do…was to allow Absol…to recover…prior to fighting it." Tiny wiped away the tears that it was shedding, using the paw that wasn't holding the Magost Berry.

"…" Sceptile was unsure if the decision that Tiny made was good or bad in the long run.

Lucario thought deeply about Tiny's reasoning. "(To not attack an opponent when they're down and vulnerable… It's fair and honorable, but it depends on the enemy that you're fighting.)"

"But that's enough of my needs and choices," Tiny got off of its chair and placed the Magost Berry on top of the table. The expression on its face seemed clear and stable, compared to what it was a few minutes ago. "Let's get to the point of what's most important today."

"Lucario's battle today with that Absol, am I right?" Sceptile said.

Tiny nodded, and then it left the kitchen and went up the stairs to its room for something. It came back down after about a minute, holding a backpack that it made with its own two hands. It was professionally woven out of grass and straw, and was just as resilient as any man-made backpack. It was large enough to store up to twenty medium-sized Berries, more than what the wooden box had at the moment.

"I was working on this particular backpack for this upcoming battle." Tiny said before giving the backpack to Lucario. "I figure you should carry as many Berries as physically possible that can heal or support you in battle."

Lucario got up and walked only a few steps over to the wooden box. He opened the box, grabbed about six of the Oran Berries inside of it, all three Sitrus Berries, and the two Lum Berries that were inside the box. He placed them all inside of the backpack and then strapped it to his…back.

"You never know. You might need them."

"Thank you, Tiny," He said, liking how well-made the backpack is.

Sceptile was just as impressed with the construction of the backpack as well.

"It took me a few days to make it. I figure it'll be the only support that I'll be allowed to give you."

"No its not," Lucario laconically replied.

"Why's that?" Tiny said with some dubiousness.

"With all of the training that I've inherited from you, that's already a great amount of support from you." He smiled at Tiny because of all of the work he had to go through to be here at this moment.

Tiny, out of happiness, couldn't help but jump up and hug him from his right side, avoiding hugging him from the front, because if it decided to hug him that way, there would be a likely probability that its heart would become punctured by Lucario's chest-spike.

Sceptile almost cooed at the cute sight. It seemed almost brotherly how Tiny looked up to Lucario, despite Tiny being over five years older than him.

Lucario waited about a minute for Tiny to let go of his torso and drop back down on the floor. When he grew impatient he said "Okay, let go now" before prying it off of him and putting him back down on the floor. The hug didn't bother him, but the duration of it did.

"Sorry, I got a little carried away." Tiny grinned and scratched the back of its neck in embarrassment, coming close to blushing red underneath its blue fur, but didn't.

"Let's get the hell out of here then," Sceptile said. "Absol's probably waiting for you now, Lucario."

With those final words, they immediately got out of their home and traveled over the branches to the location that Absol told Lucario when he still was a Riolu: the Forest's Cliffside.

Location: Forest (Cliffside)

The location of the inevitable battle was located on a somewhat far off and precarious area of the forest. That area was located right nearby the cliff—emphasis on the name "Cliffside"—and had about a good portion of land nearby the cliff exposed, with no trees or plants on it at all.

The only thing that it did have on its surface was rock-hard dirt and a one-inch-thick coating of sand on the surface.

But that was the description of the Cliffside on a normal day, and today wasn't exactly normal.

Today, there were numerous Pokémon nearby the Cliffside, residing behind the forest area, not around the Cliffside for fear that the protruding slab of rock might break under their combined weight. There were many different Pokémon species present, all of varying attributes, all eager to see a gruesome fight to the death.

As expected, Absol was there amongst them, residing on the edge of the cliff. It was on its belly, curled legs and tail dropped on the dirt, staring down at the immense forest landscape below.

The fall below from the Cliffside appeared to be about 1,000 feet in height. There was a surplus of trees, shrouding the forest floor below. The trees were mostly branches and leaves, and because of their height, they added about 100 feet to the fall, if one was unfortunate to plummet to their death. And because the floor was concealed underneath, there was no way to be sure what exactly a victim would fall on. It could be the dirt, or it could be a body of water. From above, it was difficult to tell.

However, Absol noticed that there was a waterfall to its right side. It didn't necessarily have to look to its right to notice that. Its blade-like appendage proved sufficient in allowing it to listen to the pouring water.

"(There must've been a natural occurrence in my absence.)" Absol thought to itself, choosing not to mutter to itself because its mouth was concealed under its forearms. "(This waterfall wasn't here before.)"

Absol seemed to pay more attention to the beautiful view than the throng of Pokémon eagerly awaiting a duel to the death. Absol didn't even seem to pay attention to the group of Riolu amongst the crowd. There were about eight of them together, all of them new to this forest, and they were playing contently with a few Watmel Berries—their rubber ball-like qualities—until the battle commenced.

But these Riolu weren't stupid, far from it really. They were well-informed of Absol because they have heard the facts of it killing their species for reasons unknown. They had protection from the other, adolescent Pokémon that were present alongside them.

Beside the eight Riolu amongst the crowd, there was also a Lucario there, only one actually.

This particular Lucario hails from the mountains, the most likely place for them to reside in. The colors of its fur were significantly different than that of a normal Lucario—perhaps due to the cold habitat that it came from. The colors of the fur on a normal Lucario—black, blue, and yellow—were not present at all on this mountain-dwelling one. It had silver fur instead of black fur, sky blue fur instead of blue fur, and snow white fur instead of silver fur. Its eyes were still the same sanguine color that a normal-colored Lucario would have, but that wasn't the case with its chest-spike and both paw-spikes. They were transformed from a normal bone white color to a gold color. This was only present on its external bones, and not its internal bones.

What this particular Lucario was doing, as of now in a place far from home, was pacing across the floor impatiently until the main event would commence.

After about a few more minutes of tedious waiting and commotion amongst the crowd of diverse Pokémon, Lucario, Tiny, and Sceptile finally arrived to the forest's Cliffside. They landed right behind the immense throng of Pokémon and for a brief moment, no one turned around. However, by some unknown reason, one Pokémon made an about-face, and eventually, everyone else did, including Absol, but no one saw it doing so.

Without anything louder than some small discussions, all of the Pokémon spread apart to two sides as if they were two gate doors. They knew that this was the moment that they've been waiting for and they wanted to make sure no time was wasted on it.

Lucario immediately saw Absol ahead, giving him that grave stare that it has given him before since the day that they first met. Lucario didn't seem particularly nervous about fighting Absol. Only the end result—where one Pokémon lives and the other one dies—was what worried him somewhat.

Tiny read and sensed the uneasiness in Lucario's mind—and so did the mountain-dwelling Lucario as well as the eight Riolu. It gave Lucario's left arm one abated tug, simply to get Lucario to look at it.

"Just focus on the battle and not the result," Tiny looked up at him and assured him.

Sceptile spoke up as well. "You'll fight better if that's what only in your mind."

"Thanks," he said just one perfectly-fitted word before walking towards and crossing across the parted "Red Sea" of Pokémon that were in front of him.

The Pokémon looked on at him, some of them even applauding him. They reassembled themselves as they already were once Lucario got across them. Both Tiny and Sceptile placed themselves within the crowd, acting as spectators for this fight. Tiny squeezed itself through the Pokémon throng and moved up front, just next to the eight Riolu.

Once it noticed their presence, without the Riolu group looking back at it, Tiny was hit with a massive blow of déjà-vu and mentally sent back through time to the point where it was leader of the group of ten Riolu, before they were murdered by Absol.

"(*Sigh*) I miss those days…" It whispered to itself before turning back to Lucario.

Sceptile just moved to an area of the back row of the group, easily being able to see without any interference or blocking of view of any kind. However, just like Tiny, it noticed someone amongst this group to its left: the mountain-dwelling Lucario. Sceptile gave one brief glimpse to it before it could look back and was suddenly overcome with déjà-vu.

"(That Lucario… Is it who I think it is?)" It thought with mild skepticism.

Once that Absol saw Lucario after thirty months of martial solitude, the first words that came out of its mouth were "My Arceus, you've gotten tall, haven't you?" in a surprised tone of voice.

"Ugh…" He groaned with his regular voice, having been told this hundreds of times alreadyin his life. He was 5' 09", almost two feet taller than an average Lucario, and practically all Pokémon took this into notice when he evolved. "Anything else you want to say?" Lucario said, hoping for a response that doesn't involve his body height.

Absol was still thinking at how tall he was, compared to all of the Lucario that it's met in its life. However, it was snapped out of its trance and spoke once more. "I hope your last thirty months of life were spent on what I've told you to do," it said, beginning to form a grin.

As if those were the magic words that Lucario wanted to hear, it held out both paws in the air, almost as though it was being rewarded a sword from someone. What occurred next does involve weaponry however, but it came from Lucario himself. He channeled a small percentage of his aura above his extended paws and within three seconds, a four-foot-long, light blue staff, in the shape of a femur bone, emerged before his paws. He grabbed it quickly and twirled it around himself skillfully before slamming one end of it onto the ground. He managed to intimidate a few of the Pokémon in the audience with his BONE RUSH technique, as well as receive a bit of awe.

"Well, you tell me," It said before holding the aura-made staff like a spear, keeping it to his right side, one end pointed directly towards Absol.

The Disaster Pokémon specifically remembered and told him that it wanted to see something surprising or unique from the Aura Pokémon. "I'm not impressed," it exhaled when saying those words.

"Well, this is only the beginning, and I've got a whole repertoire of techniques at my disposal, just begging me to use them on you."

Without any sort of warning, the blade-like appendage on the right side of Absol's face began glowing in the very same white light that Lucario—as well as Tiny—remembers a little too well. However, the light Absol was generating was causing its blade-like appendage to grow to nearly triple its length, engorged with energy.

"(…That's new…)" Lucario and Tiny thought simultaneously.

Without any more needless pre-battle conversation, the first attack was fired. Absol swept its head quickly to one side and fired a massive blade of wind dead-center towards Lucario. It didn't even bother to roar, grunt, or say "RAZOR WIND" when attacking. The only sound audible was the gale of concentrated wind flying towards Lucario.

He was already prepared to react to the attack. Expertly spinning the BONE RUSH staff like the propeller on an airplane, he managed to fully nullify the RAZOR WIND attack and dissipate it into the wind.

The audience was somewhat impressed at this display of defense.

"Is that all you can do?"

A bit of anger formed inside the Disaster Pokémon. It fired about five more RAZOR WIND attacks in rapid succession towards the taunting Lucario, almost pulling a nerve on its neck in the process.

Just like before, all of the blows were nullified by well-timed spin-blocks. One almost came close to inflicting damage, but he managed to catch it on time. Once the second failed onslaught was complete, the aura staff that Lucario had generated disappeared, the BONE RUSH technique only working for a limited amount of time.

"(I always hated how limited the existence of BONE RUSH is…)" He stared at the paws that used to wield the technique, and then looked back at Absol. "That's still substandard, Absol!" Lucario said.

"(Hmm… The reflexes of this particular Lucario are…above-average.)" Absol thought as the light of its blade-like appendage faded away and disappeared.

"You impressed with my reaction time?" He paid attention to what Absol was thinking and decided that the momentary ceasefire was the perfect time to reveal his second weapon in his arsenal: his METAL CLAWs.

Manipulating the structure of the paw-spikes that he has obtained since his evolution, static electricity began to fly from them. He caused them to glow in the almost identical white light that Absol formed on its crescent-shaped growth. In seconds, the spikes grew and split into three separate twelve-inch-long sharp claws, their white light and static sparking having faded away after the transformation.

"If you desire alienating yourself from any other Lucario that I've met in my life, you're going to have to do much better than that," It said with a bit of a smart-ass tone.

"(That's not going to be a problem…)" Lucario thought. He formed a stance with both of his METAL CLAWs pointing forward, and hid the fact that he possesses plenty of moves in his arsenal that easily separates himself from any other Lucario.

Sceptile figured that Lucario was saving the stronger moves that he learned from its teachings for later. "(Don't reveal your hand until the time is right… Smart strategy…)" It thought to itself.

Without wasting anytime, Lucario charged towards Absol, closing the gap in their distance in seconds. He accurately slashed away at Absol, and to his surprise, Absol managed to avoid every single blow with ease. Getting mildly irritated at Absol's agility, he became a bit more aggressive with his attacks. He added double claw swipes, a few forward thrusts, and a few uppercuts.

Absol flipped out of the way and away from Lucario, leaving him to stop temporarily.

"(It has spent countless moments of time perfecting its agility…)" Lucario thought before causing his METAL CLAWs to revert to normality.

"(What are you planning next?)" Absol thought with interest.

"(What can I do to abate Absol's agility?)" Lucario thought, still paying attention to Absol, watching it closely. He pondered what he knew and how he could use it. He came up with a plan and thought "(Let's see how this works…)" before setting his plan into action.

Absol was still waiting patiently, for reasons unknown.

Knowing what to do next, Lucario held out his right paw and aimed its palm dead-center to Absol's countenance and then focused an orb of aura on his palm. The paw was suddenly bent towards the ground before Absol could ponder what Lucario was doing.

"FORCE PALM!" Lucario gave no warning when he slammed his right palm to the ground, releasing a mild shockwave and a massive cloud of raised dust that instantly assimilated Absol right where it stood. And then as a follow-up, Lucario jumped back about three feet and began to immediately channel enormous amount of his own aura in the form of green light. The light alone was enough to earn a good amount of commotion, as well as the interest from the mountain-dwelling Lucario.

The light emanating from the Aura Pokémon was so intense that not only was it extending to about two feet away from anywhere of Lucario's body, it was also causing the earth to rumble, as well as cutting its way through the sand cloud that Absol was in.

"Whatever that green light is for, it'll be all for naught," Absol thought with a smirk after seeing the bright green light.

In an instant, every bit of the green light that Lucario was generating was concentrated into its paws, the rumbling of the earth subsiding in the process. He brought his paws forward, forming a circle between his digits…


…And fired a powerful laser of energy that easily punctured the sand cloud and went onward for about a mile before crashing into a far-off mountain, trimming off its summit explosively in the process.

Lucario got down on one knee for a brief moment. It was quite obvious that the powerful attack did take its toll on his overall aura capacity, but he simply needed to catch his breath.

"(I am incredibly fortunate to have had Tiny teach me how to assimilate the aura from my surroundings.)" Lucario thought before getting back up on both feet. "(Tiny, if you're reading my mind at this moment, thank you for your teachings.)"

He bent his arm back and reached into his backpack for an Oran Berry. He inserted it into his mouth and began to chew on it before swallowing, immediately feeling a good percentage of his energy rejuvenated back into him.

"(You're welcome,)" Tiny was in fact, reading Lucario's mind.

Sceptile was astounded by how devastating the attack was—despite the fact that it taught Lucario how to use SOLARBEAM—and so was the entire crowd. However, once the cloud of sand settled enough into the earth, the result that was revealed was highly shocking to everyone.

Instead of a fainted Absol—or at least a vaporized Absol due to how powerful the SOLARBEAM attack was—, they saw…nothing. There was (bad pun alert!) Absol-utely no sign of its presence once the sand cloud settled down.

Only a hole in the ground was present, a sigh that Absol dug below to escape the attack.

"(Damn…)" Lucario thought once he walked towards the dug hole on the ground and looked down. "(To use DIG on rock-hard dirt… you've trained as hard as I have for this battle, Absol…)"

He then turned towards the forest, having a strong feeling that Absol decided to escape through there.

"(I'll bet that you're over at the forest…)" Lucario immediately activated his Aura Vision ability and saw his surrounding's aura.

Scanning the forest, he wanted to look for anything that stands out. Within seconds, he identified Absol's aura and noticed the Disaster Pokémon resurface from the earth and flee into the forest. Since Lucario was still locked onto Absol's aura, he noticed that the colors of Absol's aura were mostly composed of four main colors: green—for a mostly relaxed composure—, dark yellow—for emotional pain—, brown—for a materialistic nature—, and black—for uneasiness in its heart—.

Disregarding the unusual aura colors that Absol emanated, he disengaged his Aura Vision ability, not needing it to follow the Disaster Pokémon. He dashed towards Absol with enough speed to leave behind a blue blur behind his wake, utilizing QUICK ATTACK to run after it through the forest.

However, he wasn't dashing directly towards Absol. He made use of Sceptile's jungle combat training. He was flipping across branches, horizontally zigzagging across the tree trunks, and catapulting himself through the foliage.

Everyone in the audience decided to follow him into the forest.

Everyone proceeded except Sceptile and Tiny.

"Arceus in High Heaven, why didn't I choose to eat more than just that Nanab Berry?" Sceptile was groaning mildly from hunger.

"Can't you just find and eat some Berries around here?" Tiny made a suggestion.

"And miss this fight of utmost importance? I think not!"

"(You didn't need to shout…)" Tiny thought, and then decided to make another suggestion. "Well, what about those seed-like nodules on your back?" It pointed at the seed-like nodules that it was describing. "Can't you eat those?"

"…" Sceptile didn't say a word. It was immediately stunned senseless at the thought of eating something that was a part of itself, an act of self-cannibalism.

Tiny continued. "Those seeds are great for healing trees in this forest. Can't you just eat a few of them yourself?"

"…" After a few seconds of common sense rejection, Sceptile unwillingly decided to go with Tiny's suggestion. Reluctantly, it pulled off one seed from its back and without wasting any time, it ate it in one whole bite.

"Well?" Tiny wanted to hear Sceptile's opinion.

"(…So that's what I taste like…)" Sceptile, as strange as it may seem, liked its flavor, which can best be compared to the flavor of its favorite fruit: Nanab Berries, probably because its plant-like body became what it ate.

"I'll take that thought as satisfactory," Tiny said before venturing into the forest and running towards the fight.

Sceptile plucked off of its back another one of the six seeds on its back and ate it along the way.

Location: Forest (Core)

Absol continued to run in what appeared to be away from the battle, but inside of its mind, that was not the case. Not by a long shot.

"(That Lucario better be following me. My strategy depends on it.)" It thought. But besides that, it was also thinking about the attack that Lucario used to try to K.O it in one blow. "(That Lucario must be something special to have been able to use SOLARBEAM.)"

Within seconds, Lucario was homing in on Absol and was already within fifty feet to it, all while hardly making a sound for it to track him by—and that's saying something due to Absol's sensitive ears.

Once he was close enough, he leaped with twice the normal power that he was already using to acrobatically move through the forest. He flew like a bullet towards Absol. His fist moved faster than the wind could resist, and emanated pure white light.

With his MACH PUNCH technique, Lucario punched the back of Absol's head.

Absol was immediately thrown off balance from the super-effective blow and it was forced to stop, inches before crashing into a tree. When it turned around, it noticed that Lucario was there, as well as the entire audience seconds later, who were at a safe distance away from the fight.

"Why are you running from me?" Lucario inquired. "I sure as hell hope that you're not a coward. It would ruin what little respect I have for you as it is."

"Who says I am?" Absol said with a mild smirk before causing its blade-like appendage to glow an almost holy white color before it was used for firing multiple RAZOR WIND attacks.

Just like before, Lucario evaded them all, immediately noticing that they all were a bit misaligned to striking him. "Did that blow on your head influence your sense of accuracy?"

"Not even the slightest." Absol noticed that the blades of wind that it formed had struck the targets that it wanted them to strike: the trees. The RAZOR WIND attacks were so precise that the trees were instantly cut in an almost impossibly clean manner. Not only that, but due to the fact that the attack was angled well enough, the trees were all set to fall right on top of Lucario. "However, I believe that the blow that you've inflicted on me…"

The trees were already falling, and Lucario has yet to notice.

"…has influenced you." It grinned briefly before looking at the trees that were above the Aura Pokémon.

Lucario didn't understand what Absol meant. The only hint that he considered to be useful was that Absol was looking at something above him. Turning around suddenly, he noticed that five mutilated trees were set to fall directly on top of him. Realizing that there was absolutely no time to escape, he instinctively brought up his arms to try to abate the damage.


Lucario was immediately and fully buried under the immense pile of mutilated wood. Most of the Pokémon in the audience gasped at the sight, while other Pokémon believed that it was far too slow to react in time.

Sceptile was one of those Pokémon that couldn't believe the sight. "Damn…" it said before plucking off the fourth of its six spherical nodules, eating it nonchalantly.

Tiny seemed to show no signs of despondence or urgency. It remained calm and assured of itself.

The mountain-dwelling Lucario had a similar viewpoint as Tiny.

Absol slowly approached the piled-up firewood in a mildly dubious and cautious manner. "(Hmm… It could not have been that easy to defeat you…)" It thought to itself.

Suddenly, it heard an incredibly faint and unusual sound emanating from under the tree pile-up. The sound could best be compared to the sound of a machine gun. The sound lasted for ten-second bursts before pausing and then resuming once more.

Eventually, it got loud enough to be heard by all, leaving the audience—except for Sceptile and Tiny because they knew what that sound was—discombobulated at what was occurring. Before they all had a chance to question about how that sound was being made, their answers were revealed.

The highest tree of the pile-up burst open at the trunk, releasing a massive upward-aimed barrage of high-speed glowing green seeds.

"(Is that…BULLET SEED?)" Absol stared at the seeds fired upward.

The audience did so as well, and became further astonished.

Once the BULLET SEED attack stopped completely, the source of the attack popped out of the upward hole created from it.

"(It took me every Oran Berry I had in my backpack as well as the seeds stored within my digestive tract to do that.)" Lucario ignored how badly sore his throat was after the use of an attack that forced him to regurgitate seeds within himself and climbed out of the gaping hole that he made. "(When I ran out of seeds, I simply concentrated my aura into little bullets. But the end result was an invaluable asset.)" He stood up and jumped off of the tree pile and brushed off the splinters clinging onto his fur.

"My, my…" Absol said, without smiling. "You are special. No Lucario that I've encountered has ever been able to use an unmistakable Grass-Type move."

"(So true…)" The mountain-dwelling Lucario thought with crossed arms.

"(And there's still more to me than that…)" Lucario thought.

"It'll make killing you all the more satisfying!" Absol charged without warning towards Lucario, with speed similar to his own.

Lucario just stood there, waiting for the proper moment to evade.

As Absol was within fifteen feet away from him, it leaped towards him and immediately had its right forepaw channel sable energy until it formed three black and deadly-sharp claws of ectoplasm-like properties.

"(SHADOW CLAW, huh?)" Lucario thought moments before leaping upward, into the trees that was thirty feet above him.

Absol was forced to use its SHADOW CLAW for brakes rather than weapons. After sliding across the soil for about ten feet in order to slow down, it noticed Lucario was doing something unusual. He was leaping across the trees around it with great skill.

It was an attempt to discombobulate Absol, and it was working.

"Ugh, hold still dammit!" Absol was turning in circles just to keep Lucario in its field of vision, which was obviously a struggle that it was trying to manage. However, the more tediously it was becoming, the more provoked Absol was becoming, because if it allows Lucario to have his way for even one second…

…it'll be in a world of damnation.

Lucario shouted, non-telepathically, a battle cry before jumping to Absol and giving it a downward axe kick to its forehead, easily causing Absol to have its head hit the floor. Blood immediately seeped out of its mouth due to a shattered tooth, all before it was left momentarily stunned and vulnerable.

Lucario immediately followed up by grabbing Absol by its tail. "Do you remember this, Absol?" Lucario shouted, not caring if it was conscious to listen or not, before throwing it easily up and over his head—benefiting from the high physical power of being a Fighting-Type—in an arc motion before turning the briefly stunned Disaster Pokémon from a Dark-Type into a Flying-Type.

In other words, Absol was sent flying, towards a tree—of all things in a forest.

"(Damn…)" Sceptile thought while seeing Absol fly like an old ragdoll. "(I'd hate to be in its fur coat.)"

Just as the tree was within ten feet of Absol, it immediately regained its senses and without wasting any time at all, it turned its body in order to land on the trunk on all four paws. As quickly as it recovered, it rebounded from the tree trunk and charged once more towards Lucario. Only this time, it had both forepaws imbued with SHADOW CLAW.

"(Hmm… I wonder if resilience was something that this Absol worked on for thirty months…)" Lucario thought before forming his METAL CLAWs once more.

Once both Pokémon made contact, the end result was happening faster that most Pokémon could see. Claw swings, evasions, blocks, and quick-thinking skills were the only four tactics used at this moment.

Eventually, they both got themselves into an unusual predicament. Both claws of each Pokémon got lodged into each other's, leaving Absol standing on its two hind legs. Now, they were left with a standstill, and each Pokémon, with their teeth gritted and crimson eyes locked tight on each other, attempted to dig their claws into the enemy.

After a few minutes of this stalemate, most of the audience wondered what exactly was going on between them, especially with their stamina.

This battle of endurance continued imperturbably between the Aura Pokémon and the Disaster Pokémon. Minutes went by with both combatants seemingly not losing any stamina, but eventually, one of the two Pokémon was finally beginning to show signs of losing the struggle.

And unfortunately, it wasn't Absol.

Absol grinned eerily as it continued to struggle against the slowly-weakening Lucario. It was feeling small vibrations that it was able to faintly pick up with its SHADOW CLAWs. And those vibrations were coming from the hind legs of Lucario. "Are you losing stamina already?" it said rhetorically.

"…" Lucario was slowly beginning to lose this stalemate. His arms slowly drained of sense of feeling, and they began to tremble alongside his legs.

Most of the Pokémon were beginning to notice Lucario's weakening power.

"Your stamina is draining away, just as I had planned from the beginning!"

"…My…stamina?" Lucario said, while his legs were slowly folding inward against his will. "All of this was about draining my stamina?"

He continued to grit his teeth and tried his hardest to push forward and against Absol's strength. But alas, his body wasn't cooperating, and his options departed from him with time.

Absol pushed even harder against him due to the fact that it still has enough energy to use at its disposal. This immediately caused Lucario to go down on his left knee.

The throng of Pokémon became somewhat worried about him. They were all in favor for Lucario to win and not Absol.

"(His strategy…)" Lucario thought while having his METAL CLAWs revert back to the paw-spikes that he normally has against his will. With nothing to hold back Absol's SHADOW CLAWs, they suddenly dropped down and dug into Lucario's paws, right between the digits.

Lucario yelped in pain when Absol's claws sliced through his flesh.

"(His strategy…is…working... And I was feeble enough…)" Lucario was completely out of energy and his arms continued to bleed somewhat from the lacerations between the digits.

Absol continued to grin maliciously, stopped using SHADOW CLAW, and then it stepped back about forty feet.

Lucario got down on both knees and has both paws placed on the ground, with his head aimed at the floor. He was hyperventilating due to the loss of stamina and was sweating moderately from being a bit overheated in terms of body temperature. He came close to passing out and vomiting before the forest floor. "(I was… I was feeble enough to be…a part of it.)"

"He he heh… Now I've got you just where I want you to be." Absol was easily taking advantage of this moment. "My strategy worked! And now it's time to kick you while you're down!"

Absol began to breathe in a highly controlled manner, almost as if it were drawing energy to itself.

Lucario weakly tilted its head up to see what Absol was doing.

Within seconds, sparks were forming all around Absol's fur. And then, after three more seconds, the Disaster Pokémon immediately burst into flames, (surprisingly) immune to this self-made conflagration.

Not one Pokémon in the entire audience would have thought that this Absol knew a move that was considered impossible for its kind to learn.

This Absol knew how to use FLARE BLITZ.

"This final move will foreshadow your afterlife," Absol said, clawing at the ground twice with each paw in order to ensure heightened traction. "As your decimator, I will personally give you a one-way ticket to Hell!"

Absol literally rocketed towards the fatigued Aura Pokémon, easily running at five times its normal speed. It was running so close to the foliage that the trees and leaves around it caught fire.

Thankfully, there was a surplus of Water-Type Pokémon amongst the audience. They took care of that fire with ease.

Lucario was forced to look up to see what Absol was doing now due to how feeble he currently was, even at holding up his head. He was able to see a large fireball, with a white and somewhat black core charge at him with blinding speed.

"(*Groan*) Oh fu—" Lucario didn't even have a chance to curse, once Absol rammed into him.

Lucario was set ablaze from the fire and easily sent flying via Absol's FLARE BLITZ technique, only to crash onto a tree that was 250 feet away. Lucario was stuck onto the tree's trunk by his side, the fire abruptly extinguished. Before he fell back down onto the ground, he got hit by Absol again when it came rocketing towards him without any thought of slowing down, let alone stopping. This time however, he got hit perfectly in the gut, Absol being well aware of his chest-spike and expertly missing it.

Lucario's eyes easily widened at such a powerful attack, which singed the fur on his belly. His mouth opened in shock, and a mouthful of blood escaped from there. The wind was easily knocked out of him as well.

And it doesn't stop there.

The blow was so great that the tree gave out behind him and literally exploded into splinters. This caused Lucario to continue to move further, except he was rolling violently on the ground and not flying in the air. Tiny's backpack was somehow intact, a testament to its craftsmanship—or Lucario's luck in not landing on top of it.

"(Oh my Arceus!)" Tiny and Sceptile thought closely to that phrase. They easily feared for Lucario's life now, and were suddenly afraid for his life, noticing how unnatural he was rolling.

The mountain-dwelling Lucario had its eyes wide open and couldn't take its eyes out of watching such a heart-rending sight.

Lucario continued to roll unnaturally, drifting out of consciousness for very brief and almost unnoticeable moments with each blow to the skull. He could faintly feel his bones being struck hard enough to bend, but not snap, and he could feel bruises and lacerations forming with each harsh roll. He was also beginning to feel vertigo due to the constant rolling. But as far as he knew, he couldn't find Absol anywhere, and that was all he seemed to care about.

However, unfortunately for him, Absol was continuing to charge at him like an aggressive Tauros. It appeared from the air, having leapt across the trees, setting them ablaze—before they were extinguished by the Water-Type Pokémon.

Absol immediately jumped one more time to catch up to the newly-titled Tumbleweed Pokémon and dive-bombed him, hitting its mark and causing the air around them to suddenly snap.

In other words, this particular impact caused an explosion that sent Lucario flying upward, and completely shrouded in flames as well.

Absol wasn't marred at all from that explosion, but it was somewhat injured from the recoil damage. It suffered a significant headache and most of its body ached mildly. It also had a few lacerations to its head and upper body, but that was all inferior compared to what Lucario suffered.

After using FLARE BLITZ enough, Absol stopped by planting its feet to slow down, tilted its head up, and smirked evilly at the sight of Lucario burning alive and flying uncontrollably upward in the air.

Absol measured the angle of Lucario's "flight pattern" and predicted that Lucario was going towards the Forest Cliffside. Instantly thinking that the Aura Pokémon was going to miss the cliff completely and transcend it, Absol ran with glee towards him, hoping to see the sight that it wanted to see occur.

The audience followed nearby, using the trail of smoke that Lucario was forming from the fire that it had engulfing him guide them, as if it was the North Star in the night.

Sceptile and Tiny went on further ahead, due to the fact that they knew Lucario well enough to worry about him. What they didn't know was that the mountain-dwelling Lucario was following somewhat nearby them.

"(These two Pokémon must be friends of that Lucario…)" the mountain-dwelling Lucario thought. "(They'd best prepare for the worst.)"

With all of the other Pokémon mentioned, all that is left is the great flying ball of fire that is Lucario. He continued to burn, feeling the overwhelming heat of the flames eating away at his fur like hydrochloric acid.

Luckily, those flames were only devouring his fur first, giving him a short amount of time to think.

"(That Absol must've spent a massive chunk of its training learning how to use FLARE BLITZ…and endurance as well…)" Lucario thought, trying its hardest to retain consciousness for its life. "(These flames are literally killing me!)"

He screamed at the high temperature, spitting out a small fireball in the process.

"(I can feel this conflagration drain my consciousness, and my life away—wait!)"

Lucario felt something click into place in his mind after thinking the word "drain".

"(Drain… Drain…MEGA DRAIN!)"

He knew perfectly well what to do now. His strategy is set, as hopefully, his victory.

"(For the sake of my life, and the future lives of every Riolu on this world, I hope this strategy works!)"

He quickly grabbed the remaining Sitrus and Lum Berries from within his backpack, before it caught on fire, with such speed that it would've appeared as only a blur to the feeble, untrained eye. Immediately, he opened his mouth wide and stuffed all of the Berries in his mouth, chewing like a Carvanha before swallowing them. He discarded the backpack that Tiny made for him before it caught fire, having it gently fall to the trees below and then he quickly emanated a green light similar to that of SOLARBEAM, but with a lighter, gentler shade of it.

Before he knew it, the ground was within seconds of impact. At the last possible moment, he stopped using MEGA DRAIN, flipped in mid-air to his back, and used ENDURE, stiffening his Steel-Type body to absorb the blow.

Once he hit the ground back first, he struck the ground like a meteor. When he landed, the fire surrounding his body immediately died out due to two factors: the harsh shock of the impact and the sand cloud that appeared with the impact. The earth where he landed cratered. Lucario didn't even bounce when he landed.

Most of his fur was burnt away, but not enough anywhere to cause noticeable bald spots. He had his teeth gritted like a vice, and then they opened, relaxed. Blood was overflowing and running out of his mouth, due to moderate internal bleeding of his internal organs.

He appeared to be dead or unconscious, but that was only a feigning tactic.

Absol was the first to arrive to the scene, with a dangerously schizophrenic grin. The first observations that it saw caused its grin to turn upside-down. What it was witnessing was an unconscious Lucario lying on the earth in a crater that eerily—and somewhat humorously— resembled the Aura Pokémon in shape.

Slowly stepping closer to the scene, it noticed that Lucario was (allegedly) unconscious, due to the nostalgic swirled-eyed appearance that occurs when Pokémon faint, mouth overflowing with blood, and feeble breathing.

"(I don't understand…)" Absol thought before looking straight up at the sky, eyeing the trial of smoke that Lucario had left due to the fires eating away at his body. "(At that height, it should've exploded into gory chunks upon ground impact, despite its Steel-Type attribute…)"

It then looked back down at Lucario, only this time, with a shocked countenance.

"(Wait a second. Have you exceeded the four moves limit?)"

It stepped back slightly, sat down, and began to recall the moves that Lucario used. Luckily, it had an above average memory, so it was able to recall this within seconds.


Absol immediately stopped there, knowing that Lucario knows more than four moves. It got up on four feet once more and wide-eyed Lucario with surprise.

"(What kind of Lucario are you?)" It was left far too discombobulated to finish Lucario off at the moment, despite the (allegedly) perfect opportunity to do so.

"(At least this feigning tactic is buying me enough time to recover from the shock of the immense fall…)" Lucario was thinking, as well as eavesdropping on every word within Absol's mind, all while his body slowly drained away his trauma.

Eventually, the three Pokémon that ventured ahead caught up to the two combatants. The mountain-dwelling Lucario however, deliberately stayed back about twenty feet, away from the other two Pokémon's attention.

"Oh shit…" Sceptile mumbled with concern, before trailing off and plucking one more seed-like nodule from its back, only to find out that it didn't have any more sustenance growing behind him.

The only thing it had left on its back was six one-inch-deep holes on its back, with tiny buds beginning to develop.

"(Huh… These seeds grow back a little bit too fast for my standards,)" Sceptile drifted off in its thoughts, its claws poking the six developing buds. "(Queer… To think that I should've gotten used to this new body by now…)"

Tiny and the mountain-dwelling Lucario didn't seem all that freaked out at the (allegedly) shocking scenery. They were reading Lucario's mind and sensing plenty of brain activity from him.

Finally, after 15 seconds, the remainder of the Pokémon arrived, with unanimous feelings that Lucario has fallen in battle.

Absol blinked twice to snap itself out of its trance and immediately realized that it has been given the most perfect opportunity to end Lucario's life with one swift SHADOW CLAW slash to Lucario's jugular. It morphed its countenance back to the schizophrenic grin that it has no control over and walked towards Lucario's right side. Once there, it channeled dark energy once more to its right forepaw, forming SHADOW CLAW for the final time, and then it was beginning to bring up its clawed paw as high up as physically possible.

"Oh hell no!" Sceptile dashed forward in an attempt to stop Absol from attacking, only to end up being subdued by Tiny, when it grabbed Sceptile by the tail with astonishing strength. Sceptile looked back to where Tiny was, only with a foul look on its face. "What do you think you're doing?"

Tiny retained its serious countenance and didn't even bother looking at Sceptile when it grabbed Sceptile by the tail to subdue it. It was still looking at Lucario, reading his mind and comprehending his tactics.

"If you don't let go of my tail, Lucario is going to d—" Sceptile's yellow eyes widened when it realized what Tiny's countenance meant. Sceptile then lowered its head to Tiny's level—which is about 2' 8" since Tiny is somewhat larger due to its age and growth. It whispered close to its ear "Hey Tiny, do you think I'm able to learn how to read minds?"

"Ask me later, that's not important right now," Tiny replied in a modest tone.

"Alright then," Sceptile raised its head back to its own level and continued to watch the battle.

"It's almost a shame to end your life without even a slight amount of resistance in the end." Absol talked as if Lucario was listening—and he was, actually—before having its paw fully stretched above itself. "However…"

"(Not yet…)" Lucario thought, then activated its Aura Vision ability so feebly that the dreadlock-like appendages were hardly resonating and vibrating across the air. He was just able to see the aura that surrounded Absol, and almost cringed—blowing its cover—when noticing its malicious grin.

"Your death will and always will be…"

"(Wait for it…)" He continued to eavesdrop discreetly and secretly until the right possible time opened itself up to him.

The audience began to feel nervous at what might occur. It was highly possible that some of them, especially the younger Pokémon, may develop hemophobia—the fear of blood—after seeing what they anticipated would occur.

"(You're such a martial genius, Lucario,)" Tiny smiled proudly.

"…DEALT TO YOU BY MY CLAW!" Absol brought down its arm so fast that the air around it snapped at the sudden alteration.

The entire throng of Pokémon cringed at what might occur. Most of the younger Pokémon covered their eyes, and only the more valiant ones didn't, such as the group of Riolu.

"(Come on…Come on already.)" Tiny and Sceptile thought closely to that same sentence.

The mountain-dwelling Lucario smirked at what it knew will occur next.

"(And…NOW!)" Lucario waited at the last possible millisecond to react.

Instantly, his mouth snapped shut and he rolled out of the way, just before the SHADOW CLAW attack sliced through the rock-hard ground like a hot knife to butter, where his neck once was.

Before Absol could react—or perhaps overreact—, Lucario immediately began spinning on the ground with the expertise of a break dancer. And once he acquired sufficient gyrating momentum, he extended one leg out and instantly made contact with Absol's face—or to be more precise, Absol's left eye! The kick was so stalwart and devastating that Absol's eye immediately exploded in a biological detonation, just before the rest of the Disaster Pokémon was sent flying towards the edge of the cliff.

However, Absol just managed to use both of its front claws, especially the right forepaw with SHADOW CLAW in effect, to grip onto the earth in order to slow itself to a halt. Fortunately for it, in doing so, it was just able to stop after its hind paws felt nothing but air, the lower half of its body dangling precariously from the cliff.

Having difficulty ignoring the trauma on its left eye—whatever is left of it—, as well as the warm blood pouring down its left cheek, it struggled to claw itself up and back onto the cliff's edge.

Lucario, during that same time, had spun enough to just place one forepaw on the sandy floor, and in doing so, he had managed to configure himself to stand on both feet and smirk at the predicament that Absol was presently in.

The entire crowd of Pokémon remained silent at the drastic turn of events.

Both Sceptile and Tiny, to the hardest of their ability, resisted the urge to cheer.

The mountain-dwelling Lucario became wide-eyed once more. "(The reflexes on that Lucario are outstanding!)" It was easily impressed with Lucario's combat ability, and then it trailed off in thought. "(I wonder if…)"

Absol was immediately made severely shocked when it noticed Lucario standing on two legs and cracking his knuckles in a pugilistic manner.

"H-h-h-how…?" Absol sat down on its rear and was hyperventilating in shock, barely able to keep its left paw stable when it rubbed the blood off of its left empty eye socket, poking it often within his wounded area. "H-h-how w-were you able t-to survive the f-fall?"

"Two reasons:" Lucario said before spitting out all of the blood in his mouth onto the floor and wiping away the excess from his mouth with one of his paws, not seeming to care or not if any dribbled onto his chin and settled there, even though he could feel its presence there. "Sceptile was able to teach me how to use multiple Grass-Type attacks and techniques. MEGA DRAIN just so happened to be one of them."

Absol could've sworn it felt a bolt of lightning strike its mind upon realization. It recalled the four moves that Lucario used, and the mentioning of MEGA DRAIN broke the four-move mold.

Most of the audience ogled the only Sceptile in the audience and cheered faintly to it. Sceptile noticed this and blushed mildly at the attention and praise he received.

"And second: despite the fact that Steel-type Pokémon should be weak against Fire-Type attacks—such as FLARE BLITZ—I actually developed a mental resistance to it."

Absol was still rubbing off the blood on its empty eye socket, gritting its teeth in pain as well as getting its paw soaked completely with its own blood. Its wound wasn't sealing as quickly as it would hope, and would indeed prove life-threatening if left untreated.

"How's that for differentiating myself from normal Lucario."

Absol hissed at the sting from fur meeting its wound. "But h-how were you able to rejuvenate to n-near perfection!"

"That's the simplest part of my strategy."

Lucario immediately back-flipped high into the trees and disappeared into the leaves, and briefly afterwards, he leaped back into the same spot where he originally was. He held in his paw the backpack that he discarded in order to save it from a fiery demise.

"Thanks to the backpack that Tiny made for me just for this battle, I was able to carry multiple recovery Berries on me, such as Oran, Lum, and Sitrus Berries, for ease of use." He threw the backpack towards Tiny and it caught it with ease.

Now the audience glared at Tiny, as well as Sceptile, and gave it a round of applause, as well as a few remarks as to how it was able to make a resilient backpack with incredible skill out of grass and straw.

Both Pokémon were feeling mildly honored from the audience's reaction.

"That would explain (*hiss*) how you survived the fall." Absol still was rubbing the blood out of its eye socket, its speech stabilizing.

"By devouring the remainder of the Berries, as well as using MEGA DRAIN to assimilate the energy from the fires engulfing me…"

Absol's other eye widened to the point of almost falling out of its socket. The mere saying of using the energy of fire as a healing source was enough to astound it.

"…I was able to recover enough to survive the fall with only a moderate amount of internal bruising…" he then stuck out his tongue to Absol, showing that some of it was bitten off, hanging abnormally off to one side and bleeding enough to fill his mouth a couple of times with blood. "…as well as a partially-detached tongue." Lucario sucked back his tongue and spat out more blood onto the sandy floor, caring less about the taste of his own blood at this current moment.

"..." Absol retracted its paw from its eye socket and looked at how soaked it was with blood. Continuing to stare at it, Absol muttered "You really are a special Pokémon…" It decided to say that, regardless of its hatred of compliments. "You've learned techniques that are impossible for any Lucario to master."

Lucario retained an emotionless countenance, something that a Lucario is notoriously famous for. Deep down, he was feeling proud of himself for how different he was, but was keeping this feeling of gratitude to himself, knowing that this battle has yet to end.

Both Sceptile and Tiny felt proud as well. They felt as if they played an invaluable role in Lucario's development and growth. They felt as if they were surrogate parents whom adopted a newborn child, and felt proud of him, proud of what a powerhouse he became.

But that feeling of admiration didn't last when Absol continued to speak.

"I… I hate you…for that!"

"(How predictable…)" All three Pokémon thought.

Absol put its paw down and stood up. Its face was beginning to gradually turn spiteful, especially with the bloody left eye socket. "I hate your kind, both Riolu and Lucario."

"…" Lucario eyes stayed stable. He knew Absol hated his species, and wasn't surprised in the least that Absol admits it.

All of the other Pokémon—especially the eight Riolu and mountain-dwelling Lucario in the audience—showed signs of anger, but managed to keep their cool and restrain themselves.

"I hate them, ever since one of your species decided to kill my entire family!" It raised its tone with spite.

All Lucario decided to do was just stand there like a statue, hearing whatever the Disaster Pokémon feels like it has to get off its chest.

All of the audience decided to listen as well, mostly because of the back-story they were getting.

"I was only a year old during that dark day of my life…" It looked down at the earth below, as if it was visualizing its family's corpses buried below the earth that it was standing on, nothing more than rotting flesh and exposed skeletons. Within seconds of silence, a few tears could be seen falling into the earth, half of them bloody from Absol's left eye socket. "My family died because of a dispute over territory. I was fortunate to escape from them in order to save my own life."

"…" Lucario started to stare off to the sky and was imagining what might have occurred to Absol's family, keeping it private.

"My family…I can't bring them back." It talked with much pain in its words. "Now I'm ten years old, and ever since then, I've been dedicating my entire life to obliterating any Riolu and Lucario that I can get to, and in the most bloody way possible, as vengeance for their species assassinating my family."

The entire audience, whom were once showing signs of anger, now showed signs of both anger and understanding, for they knew what drove Absol to kill the species that it despised. Some found it easier to do than others, especially since they had no part in this.

But the mountain-dwelling Lucario found that impossible and without warning, it shouted out "So you're killing my kind just to avenge your family?"

Absol, as well as everybody else, glared at the sudden source of that outburst. They were seeing a light-furred Lucario clenching its fists and seething with rage.

Absol had to narrow its remaining eye briefly to notice the Lucario. Then it grinned maliciously and said "I could've simply stopped after killing the Riolu and Lucario responsible once I trained hard enough and located them, but I enjoyed doing so to the point that that I developed a bloodlust for your blood…"

The mountain-dwelling Lucario immediately knew what Absol meant by slaughtering innocent lives beyond those that had a connection to it.

"You son of a—"

Immediately, Absol launched a RAZOR WIND attack at it to shut it up, albeit it had quick reflexes and narrowly avoided it by crouching down. The blade of air nearly sliced off both of its ears, but luckily for it, it instinctively tucked its ears down before crouching.

"Stay out of this!" It bellowed before turning its head over to Lucario, whom was still staring at the sky, imagining what may have occurred to Absol's family. "Well Lucario, what's your opinion of my loss? Do you have a better understanding of me, and why I chose to kill your kind after what happened to my family?"

"…" He stopped staring at the sky once he heard Absol ask him a question. To think of an answer, he crossed his arms and stared downward at the floor.

After about ten seconds, Absol roared once more. "Well, what's your opinion?"

Lucario felt like he gave enough time to thinking and decided to say his opinion.

"My opinion is…" He uncrossed his arms and stared seriously at Absol, but not with his regular sanguine glare. He immediately had his eyes' blood vessels bulge with increased blood flow, as well as the veins around the eye sockets, but that was concealed by his fur. His eyes turned gold and finally, he had all four of his dreadlock-like appendages vibrate and hover perfectly horizontal.

In other words, he activated his Aura Vision ability.

"My opinion is this: I'm sorry about your family's premature death…"

Absol was left with the sense that more was going to come. And the evidence to that lies in the fact that Lucario had activated his Aura Vision ability.

"…but that will mean nothing, once I end you."

"…That's it…" Absol rematerialized its SHADOW CLAWs on both paws, having bloody paw's claws turn dark red due to blood. "I've allowed you to live long enough!" It said before charging towards Lucario at full speed, showing incredible stamina and endurance, despite having lost significant amounts of blood and drained enough of its strength when using FLARE BLITZ.

Lucario just stared onward at the Disaster Pokémon, noticing how intense the negative bits of its aura were with his Aura Vision, as well as how that same dark aura lingered behind in Absol's wake before disappearing seconds later.

With great tranquility, he cracked his neck to the left and right and remained stationary. "(I'll show you the error of your ways, for recklessly charging at a Lucario with their senses enhanced,)" he thought with arms crossed behind his back.

Once Absol came within striking distance, it began to slash thoughtlessly towards Lucario. However, Lucario kept avoiding all of its claw swipes with ease, not needing his arms at all to defend or parry—as evident of folding them behind his back. Absol growled as it continued to attack away only to slice at air instead of Lucario's flesh.

"Are you even trying?" Lucario said before tilting his head left to avoid one paw with ease and then ducking to avoid a head-aimed horizontal swipe that just missed Lucario's ears. "If you keep attacking without reasoning…"

Lucario caught Absol's right paw with a sudden grab at its wrist using his left paw.

Absol became more enraged and tried to slash at Lucario with the other paw, only to have it caught by Lucario's right paw, gripped tightly by the wrist.

"…Then you'll recklessness will become predictable to your opponent…"

Lucario then shoved off Absol's left paw and turned around to the point of being behind it, so that Absol couldn't reach with the other paw. Still holding onto Absol's right paw with his left paw, he quickly switched paws before restraining the Disaster Pokémon with a chokehold.

"…and allow them to deliver a devastating counterattack!"

Immediately after speaking, he brought Absol's entire right arm behind him in one quick jerk, easily dislocating Absol's right shoulder—and earning an ear-shattering scream of pain in the process. Now with Absol's right arm completely limp, and still retaining the SHADOW CLAW attack, he easily brought it to Absol's blade-like appendage/right ear and mutilated it with one swipe.

"(…My ear!)" Absol saw its ear, as well as some blood, fall to the sandy floor below. But before it had enough time to curse verbally at Lucario, he immediately placed both of his paws on Absol's dislocated arm and began to spin the unfortunate Disaster Pokémon multiple times around himself with ease.

"(…If I can just stretch my neck closer to its paw…)" Absol opened its mouth and fought against the G-forces and motion sickness to try to bite his paw off. But just as it was within inches to delivering a satisfying vindictive bite…

"Not on your life Absol!" Lucario read Absol's mind with no effort. And in doing so, he was able to counter-attack before the attack was made by launching Absol straight up in the air.

Everybody in the audience was astounded by the height that Absol caught. Some thought that it was already around fifty feet in the air.

Lucario, holding nothing back, followed suit and jumped into the air after it. It aligned itself in mid-air so that its legs were up front, intending to pop Absol's remaining right eye like its left.

Absol reluctantly turned its SHADOW CLAW technique off and then it grabbed its dislocated right arm with its left sanguine paw. Ignoring the completely hideous feeling of having bones rub against each other, it managed to relocate the shoulder bone with its native socket. However, its right arm was now sore as hell to it.

"(It and its Arceus-damn sixth sense… I can't believe this one is using it on me… No other Lucario I've faced has done so because of how quick I was in killing them…)"

It then gasped at the incoming Aura Pokémon that had one leg protruding out, directly towards its face. Immediately, Absol realized that he was trying to obliterate its other eye.

"(Not again… Not this time…)" Absol thought.

Still flying upward, Lucario was reading Absol's mind with ease, and in doing so, picked up on something odd. "(What are you planning…?)"

Calculating timing precisely, Absol prepared itself to evade when the timing is right. Once that happened—which was when Lucario was within five feet of its eye—Absol used a move that complimented its nature of malice, and was what it often used to assassinate. It immediately created a dozen duplicates of itself, around itself, by vibrating to the point where two of them were visible and existent, and then those two continued until they became four, and so on.

Lucario immediately made contact with the center Absol, only to have it phase right through him before disappearing into thin air.

"Was that…DOUBLE TEAM?" Lucario flew for ten more feet in the air before beginning to descend. Intensifying his aura to the point of it being somewhat visible, he reduced his overall weight to only 15%, significantly reducing his drop speed.

He was staring on at how all of the eleven Absol DOUBLE TEAM duplicates were descending normally back down to earth. They all landed with ease, only kicking up a small cloud of dust half of their height. Then, they all looked up and waited for Lucario to land, as if he was a small leaf that had just fallen off of a tree.

"(How complementary… You know a technique that would benefit your desires.)" Lucario thought while eyeing all of the Absol clones as he was continuing to descend. He stopped pondering and gently landed on the floor and disengaged his aura field that lightened his weight.

Immediately, he found himself surrounded by all of the Absol, but as long as he still had his Aura Vision ability, he was feeling moderately secured.

That is, until the Absol clones quadrupled in quantity.

"…Oh shit…" Lucario muttered at the sight of forty-four happy-faced Disaster Pokémon.

"End of the line, Lucario!" All forty-four of them spoke in unison.

The entire audience was astounded by the number of clones that were surrounding Lucario.

He looked all around himself, realizing that this was going to be a difficult moment for him to endure, even with the Aura Vision ability, because of the sheer number of duplicates to have to anticipate. "(This is the perfect time for the last move that Sceptile's training has granted me…for the time being.)" He thought.

Bringing both arms up above his head in an X-shape, he channeled green energy to his paw-spikes, and with the speed of lightning, he brought his arms down and his paw-spikes immediately morphed into three-foot-long, green scimitar-shaped blades.

He was now using LEAF BLADE.

Everybody within the crowd was astonished by the surprises that this Lucario possessed.

Once that move had made its presence, the Absol's attack commenced.

Number of Absol DOUBLE TEAM clones remaining: 44.

Lucario was immediately alert to this and immediately slashed one incoming clone to nothingness. Following up, he turned around, just before two Absol charged at him, and brought up both blades to block each of their attacks before slashing them to nothingness simultaneously with an X-slash.

Number of Absol DOUBLE TEAM clones remaining: 41.

He dropped to the ground to avoid another one and slashed it perfectly in half by the stomach. He quickly spun in place and kicked four incoming Absol when doing so, causing them to disappear. He avoided yet another straightforward charge by leaping about five feet into the air before landing around an empty area. He grabbed an Absol clone by the tail and spun it around himself a few times, eliminating four more Absol clones, before launching it into an Absol throng, eliminating eight more of them, including the launched one.

Number of Absol DOUBLE TEAM clones remaining: 23.

"(There's only…23 of them remaining,)" Lucario thought during the momentary ceasefire. He wasn't feeling fatigued at all, because he was only defending and counter-attacking all of the enemy's blows.

He continued to observe all of the duplicates, waiting for a second round of onslaught.

"(Now I know for a fact your reason for making a surplus of DOUBLE TEAM duplicates…)" Lucario saw one Absol come from behind him, thanks to his Aura Vision ability, and immediately pinned it to the earth with one downward penetrating stab to the head.

"(…This is all…)" Lucario slashed two more incoming Absol and sensed one more coming from behind him. He immediately jumped and did a back flip with a slash to slice it at the back before landing.

"(…only an excuse for…)" He ducked another incoming Absol and gave it a low roundhouse kick when it landed to knock it off of its legs before stabbing it through the heart.

"(…more time...)"

Number of Absol DOUBLE TEAM clones remaining: 18.

Lucario jab-stabbed another duplicate, roundhouse-slashed three more and then sidestepped to avoid another one before decapitating it.

"Ew…" Tiny was somewhat disgusted at seeing that duplicate's head fall off and land onto the ground before disappearing.

Number of Absol DOUBLE TEAM clones remaining: 13.

"(You just want more time…)" Lucario sidestepped once more to avoid a duplicate's charge and then slashed it in half through the midsection. Then, he did an about-face and stabbed another one in the face.

"(…so you can rest after using FLARE BLITZ…)" He saw three jumping at him from all around simultaneously. He jumped up and did a full roundhouse kick to all three of them before landing on another duplicate with LEAF BLADE instead of his legs. "(…and most likely use it again to try to end me.)"

Number of Absol DOUBLE TEAM clones remaining: 7.

He had both LEAF BLADEs stuck on the earth below and struggled a bit to dislodge them. However, he took too long in doing so and paid the price. One of the duplicates finally attacked him successfully by jumping onto his back, digging its claws mildly into it, but not deep enough due to his Steel-Type attribute. It also bit him on the right shoulder, immediately tasting blood while doing so.

Lucario yelped in pain before finally dislodging both LEAF BLADEs from the earth. He turned his head to face the attacking duplicate and gave it a nasty glare. He roared before crushing the duplicate by jumping back and falling on top of it. Quickly, he got back up on his feet and slashed aside two more in quick fashion.

…Or perhaps, too quickly.

Number of Absol DOUBLE TEAM clones remaining: 4.

He grasped his right shoulder, being careful not to slash at it with LEAF BLADE. The pain was enough to cause his LEAF BLADEs to fade out in green light and revert back to short white paw-spikes. The remaining Absol duplicates didn't waste any time during this opening and all charged at him from all four sides.

Immediately, he let go of his shoulder and leaped high into the air, which almost caused the clones to crash into each other and kill themselves.

Lucario saw the clones wait there patiently for him to come back down. He began to charge up a large orb of swirling blue aura on his left paw—an AURA SPHERE—and aimed it at the remaining clones. He dropped the AURA SPHERE at them and once it landed on one of them, the explosion formed by it was enough to engulf them all and eliminate them.

Number of Absol DOUBLE TEAM clones remaining: 0.

Lucario landed back down to earth, on all fours, before standing upright and clutching his right shoulder.

"Just as I thought…" He mumbled, defeating all of the DOUBLE TEAM duplicates, seeing no signs of the original.

Still having his Aura Vision ability on, he scanned all around his field of vision to find the real one. "Where'd you go?" He said as he scanned the forest area.

Immediately, his eyes locked on to a concentrated spot of evil aura approximately 1000 feet away. Immediately, he recognized the source of it coming from Absol.

Absol's fur began to spark before spontaneously combusting and conflagrating once more.

"(*Sigh*) (FLARE BLITZ again?)" Lucario thought with a mild sense of discouragement. He didn't want to deal with this move a second time because he almost had himself killed the first time, if it wasn't for Sceptile teaching him how to use MEGA DRAIN.

Lucario released his grip on his right shoulder and formed a battle stance.

"(At least I'll be much more prepared for it.)"

Not to his surprise, Absol charged towards his destination at full speed, apparently overcoming the sore feeling of having its right shoulder pop out of its socket.

Lucario began to glow in the same green color once more, only this time he had the luminosity glowing at quadruple that of last time, which made the light cast out about three feet from all areas of his body. And then he began to charge towards Absol with bullet-like speed.

To the entire throng of Pokémon who were witnessing this, they saw a red and green blur for Pokémon that were about to collide in phenomenal fashion.

Absol continued to push itself harder and harder, doing whatever it could to make itself move faster, even if it meant hurting itself to do so. It was running at about highway speed, quite fast for a quadruped.

Lucario on the other hand, didn't seem to struggle with gaining speed. He was easily exceeding Absol's speed, despite having half the legs to do so with.

Once they were within 250 feet from each other, they both configured their attacks enough so that they were at their strongest. Absol immediately conjured up all of its remaining dark aura, fueled from its spite towards the Riolu and Lucario species, and fused it to his FLARE BLITZ attack, which formed an ominous mixture of black and red fire.

Lucario created another AURA SPHERE on his right palm and made it assimilate all of the excess green aura emanating from his body, making it grow to half his size, and emanate a bright green joie de vivre.

Once within 50 feet of range, they both decided to jump and collide.

"NEGATIVE FLARE BLITZ!" Absol roared before lowering its head.

"AURA SOLARBEAM!" Lucario telepathically shouted before he held out his bright green AURA SPHERE to Absol.

Within inevitable contact, the predictable occurred.

An explosion on herculean magnitude immediately engulfed both Pokémon in its light. Everyone around them, viewing their battle, felt a sharp gale engulf them from their impact.

The explosion immediately rejected both Pokémon in a violent manner. They flew horizontally in opposite directions, with only Lucario coated in fire, skidding and cart-wheeling across the sandy and earthy floor.

Lucario skidded on his back for about a second, breaking a few bones in his tail, slowing down slightly before colliding with a tree, killing the flames surrounding him among impact.

Absol nearly fell off of the cliff once more, but stopped short before even its tail came off of the cliff.

Lucario sustained multiple broken bones on its right arm—once again—and tail, severe abrasions—when he skidded on the floor with the fur off on his back—, and mild burns coating most of his body.

Despite being drained of energy, he managed to get up, slowly and feebly. He had to use the tree to help support his balance, but he used his right paw in doing so, and felt multiple broken bones grinding against each other, as well tearing further at his flesh.

"(If I live after this day, I'm officially making myself left-handed,)" He thought, doing his best to ignore the pain on his entire right arm, as well as the frustration of having most of his fur singed off—but not to the point of having a bald spot—once he planted both legs firmly into the earth, as if they were the roots of a plant. Then, he realigned the normal structure of his tail, noticing how it was bent abnormally in three areas, giving it more of a zigzag appearance. The pain of doing so caused him great distress, but he ignored it to the best of his ability. He knew he suffered less than what anyone else would in his position because of his Steel-Type attribute.

Thankfully, Lucario's legs weren't broken, and he used what remained of his power to hobble over to the cliff, where Absol resided.

"(Such a powerful desire to continue…)" the mountain-dwelling Lucario thought in disbelief.

"(Is it even possible to be conscious after that impact and explosion?)" Sceptile thought in great disbelief.

"(I can't believe you're still standing!)" Tiny thought with complete disbelief.

Absol easily had more damage sustained than Lucario, due to its slower speed upon impact. Predictably, it has broken bones, but to a much higher level of severity. It had one of its hind paws bending backwards, and it had multiple bones protruding from its skin, staining its snow white fur with blood. All of this was added to its obliterated left eye, and mutilated blade-like appendage/right ear.

Eventually, it got back on its feet, but with a few tries in doing so, having to get accustomed to use three paws instead of four to stand up. Once it got itself back on its feet the fourth time, it gave one quick look at Lucario—once he reached the cliff—and was in disbelief. It couldn't believe that Lucario was still alive, let alone standing up.

"Why? Why are you still—" It muttered, before flinching to the massive trauma that it had endured, causing it to stare at the floor and allowing the blood in its mouth to drip onto the ground.

"It's all because of my natural Steel-type attribute…" Lucario read its mind once more and hobbled closer towards the Disaster Pokémon, its Aura Vision ability no longer active.

Absol slowly began to have its fear grow, it limped a step back with its other hind paw, only to have itself almost slip off the cliff. It also added salt to a wound by having to use its broken hind paw to regain balance, enduring further agony as it collapsed onto the floor once more, having to regain its normal footing for the fifth time.

"…and a stronger goal to accomplish," Lucario stepped even closer to Absol, which made that Pokémon widen its eye in fear.

Absol wanted to step back even further, but it would fall off of the cliff and most likely die if it did so.

"Your goal is to murder relentlessly at the Pokémon species that have brought you sorrow, while my goal is to kill you, to prevent that from happening any further," Lucario was within forty feet of reaching it.

"…Shut up…" It muttered spitefully at Lucario's words.

"The only difference between our goals is purpose and willpower."

"…I said…shut up…you Arceus-damn bitch…" It spoke feebly, far too much in pain to shout.

"You're lacking in both of those factors!" He was now within twenty feet of it.

"I said…"

"Shut up? Good idea." Lucario generated another AURA SPHERE on his left paw as he continued to walk up to Absol.

Absol was now frozen in fear as Lucario was within punching distance of it. Lucario ominously held the AURA SPHERE to its face, allowing it to see the swirling, dense aura within it. He then brought the orb of aura back.

"You'll never be able to kill me." He crunched the AURA SPHERE in his paw and had it become a boxing glove. He also forcefully grabbed Absol by the neck with his right paw, not caring anymore about the pain induced by his broken bones in doing so. He only recalled momentarily how similar this final attack was to the day that he and Absol met for the first time.

"…Ah (*gasp*) …and why is that?" Absol was choking now, and eyeing Lucario dead center in its blood-red eyes with its one remaining eye. It had absolutely no more energy left to try to defend.

"I've already said so," Lucario brought his left arm back as high as he could, as if wanting to put all that he currently has left in one final attack. "I have more of a purpose and the willpower to support it than you'll ever have."

Knowing this was his final attack that'll decide who's victorious, Lucario brought his fist down upon Absol's face, having a much more directed explosion aimed perfectly at its face and not onto him like before, delivering a stalwart punch that easily imploded Absol's snout and jaw, as well as rendering any form of recognition of this Disaster Pokémon impossible.

Absol only heard the sound of a gale storm in its remaining ear before hearing the sound of rushing air. It felt so much pain on its face, as if a boulder was dropped onto it, but it could care less, because now it knew for a fact that it was falling off of the cliff.

"(…I'm…finished…)" It thought briefly, accepting its fate before falling to the trees below.

Lucario, with the AURA SPHERE spent, stared down at the falling Pokémon. His vision was slowly beginning to distort into blurriness, just as it noticed Absol disappear into the trees below. His sense of hearing faded away as well, preventing him to hear the sound of Absol's impact below.

Now he was beginning to lose his balance as the unfair hand of unconsciousness began to wrap itself around his neck.

"(My species…has been saved…from further anguish…)" His vision was beginning to blend together on its own, slowly merging all available colors into darkness. "(And now…)"

He began to lean towards the cliff's edge against his will; rolling back his eyes and slowly closing them before losing consciousness to the point of not being aware of his current situation.

"I'm…finished…" Lucario muttered those last words before finally losing his balance and falling off the edge of the cliff.

Thankfully, Tiny reacted quickly enough to grab him by the tail and prevent the Aura Pokémon from suffering the same fate as Absol did. However, due to a Steel-Type Pokémon's natural physical reaction of having its density increase when they suddenly become unconscious, Tiny was already losing stamina, as well as traction, and beginning to fall off of the cliff as well.

Luckily they were both saved by Sceptile, whom grabbed Lucario's right side, and the mountain-dwelling Lucario, whom grabbed Lucario's left side, combining their strength alongside Tiny's.

"Why does this guy weigh a ton?" Sceptile complained as it struggled just to lift him up and away from a vertical oblivion.

"Ugh…" Tiny was gritting its teeth due to using all of its strength on pulling him back to safe ground. "It's…it's because…"

"It's because of a Steel-Type Pokémon's defensive mechanism," The mountain-dwelling Lucario said, not struggling as much as the other two, but having some difficulty nevertheless.

Tiny looked at the different-colored Aura Pokémon with minor confusion, "Do we know you?"

"You don't, but this Sceptile friend of yours does."

Sceptile remained stable in terms of keeping Lucario from falling off, but was now fairly confused by this other Lucario. Its fur color was giving him severe déjà vu, but he failed in pinpointing this Lucario. "Who are you exactly?"

"Allow me to quote your words when I volunteered to temporarily follow you:" It thought of how lizard-like Sceptile's voice was and did its best to emulate it. "'Alright, you can join me, but only if you do your share of the work.'"

Upon hearing those words, Sceptile immediately recognized who this Lucario was. "It's great to see you again, Wanderer."

"Wanderer…?" Tiny said upon realization of this Lucario's identity.

"Likewise…Sceptile," It bowed once in a polite manner, only just phased by its evolution.

"So you're Wanderer," Tiny said.

"Now's really not the time to learn about each other, little Riolu. We have a victor to aid."

"(Little Riolu?)" Tiny felt mildly offended with being called "Little Riolu", but it knew that this wasn't the time to have a conversation. It was the time to save a friend from falling to an untimely death.

And so, all three Pokémon managed to drag Lucario onto the safe floor on the center of the Forest's Cliffside before suddenly setting him onto the floor…


…with a loud thud!

"Hey, careful!" Tiny shouted.

"It's not my fault it weighs a ton!" Sceptile argued back.

"Relax, this Lucario isn't further marred by falling on its back so suddenly," Wanderer told them. "I should know… We're of the same species."

Sceptile faced the crowd of Pokémon, "Hey, by any chance can you go get—?"

It was silenced by the fact that the audience had gathered medical supplies already. They had with them sticks and vines—forest technology for making a cast—and Berries—forest medicine for quick recovery. Also, some of the Pokémon who knew recovery techniques stepped forward, most of them being Grass-Type and Psychic-Type Pokémon.

"It would appear that they've done so already," Wanderer pointed out the obvious.

"Well, come on already!" Tiny called out to everyone. "We've got a victor in need of our assistance!"

They all immediately came over and helped the injured Lucario. They all helped make Berry medicine, casts for bone realignment, and bandages to help stop the bleeding and fortify the burns. The medical-specialist Pokémon used a variety of moves to help rejuvenate him, such as AROMATHERAPHY, HELPING HAND, and even PAIN SPLIT.

It's obvious that Lucario was in good hands.

"When a genuine threat to survival emerges, one must act with brutal efficiency. The maxim is, 'Act only when necessary, and then act with maximum force and speed." —Orson Scott Card (77) ("Children of the Mind")

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