Ayessel was not a nervous Pokémon. He was naturally brash and aggressive to people and Pokémon that might befriend Jack. He didn’t even shy from battles, enjoying the opportunity to show off why his trainer didn’t need anyone else. (Never mind the times he lost.) Nervous was the last thing you’d call Ayessel.
But now as he looked at the battlefield from the vantage of Jack’s shoulder, he couldn’t help a twinge of…apprehension sweep down his feathers. This was unlike anything he’d ever done, that any of his friends had done before this tournament. Ayessel had told Aegis and Dory to not pull their punches, to kill when the opportunity came, but he was starting to feel like a hypocrite. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to go through with the act if he was called to it, even though his teammates had done so in previous rounds.
Aegis stood on the other side of Jack, eyes also locked on the trees before them. Ayessel could tell the Blastoise was considering how to move in the tight space between the trunks. The trees on the outside were shorter, thinner, but Ayessel could see the deeper they went, the bigger and sturdier the forest would become.
Ayessel wouldn’t have any problems with movement. Trees were no trouble for a small bird like him. He could move through the branches and trunks with ease, never touching the ground if he wanted. The forest would also be simple for Pokémon on four legs, as both of their opponents were.
They hadn’t seen the other Pokémon yet, hidden by the dark trees as they were, but the screen pairing trainers had revealed them to be a Sylveon and a Ninetales with their trainer Eli. Their lithe forms worried Ayessel more than anything
Ayessel started as Jack spoke.
“Be careful in there you two. I’m not going to be able to see much, so watch out for each other.” His hand pressed Ayessel gently to the side of his head while the other was placed on Aegis’s shell. His next words were quiet even for him. “And come back to me…”
His hands came down and there was nothing left to say. Ayessel flapped from Jack’s shoulder to the ridge of the Blastoise’s shell and they walked into dappled gloom.
First contact was terrifying as it was brief. Aegis was slowly making his way to the center of the trees, where a clearing had been spotted and he might have a chance to move around. Ayessel kept quiet on his shell, looking around for any signs of enemy Pokémon. He cringed inwardly at calling them that, but it was what they had to be if he was going to be able to fight to kill them.
Maybe it was his inner monologue, or maybe because they were the Pokémon of an in-training ninja, or somewhat of both that allowed both the Ninetales and the Sylveon to sneak behind them and launch a double attack. A Moonblast struck in the middle of Aegis’s shell moments before the Flamethrower struck, pushing them both forward, saving Ayessel from being roast Chatot. He took off into the canopy as a Protect surrounded Aegis, shielding him from the successive double attack.
He looked down to see the Blastoise stumbling toward the clearing, glancing off trees in his haste. Both of their opponents were following and launching nasty looking attacks that rolled off his carapace. Well that won’t do. Time to even the odds a little bit. Let’s see, that Sylveon’s ears look rather sensitive!
His dive was impressive for a Chatot, though hardly comparable to that of a Talonflame or Pidgeot, leveling out to soar over the Sylveon’s back. He let out a scream of a Chatter inches from her head, adding a ‘loser!’ as he swiftly flew away. The attack had the desired effect, making the Sylveon cringe and drop the formation of a Dazzling Gleam. Ayessel looked back and was glad to see she was following him as closely as possible.
“Of course, now I have to worry about it firing those attacks at me.” He mumbled to the leaves around him. Only rustling replied in the wind of his wake. Ayessel banked hard around a larger tree, circling around it faster than the Sylveon could follow. When she rounded the bark the only thing she saw was several Chatots disappearing into the foliage.
Even from his hiding spot Ayessel could hear her curse softly. His involuntary snicker made her ears perk up and begin moving in his direction. He wisely shut up. As the Sylveon stepped into his circle of trees, a dozen Ayessels lined the branches above her, all looking down at her. Her eyes widening before the air filled with a cacophony. She flattened her ears to her head and started backing away. Her eyes jumped between the clones, trying to pin down the real one.
She’s not going to find me that way. Ayessel watched her approach, er, reverse toward him. He’d taken to the ground, hiding himself beneath the roots of a massive tree. As soon as she was close, he’d leap out and hit her with such a Chatter she wouldn’t know up from down. The Intertwining Pokémon didn’t know the noise she heard was normal for Ayessel, from a dozen mouths. The real attack would be much louder.
Wait. Why’d she stop? But then he realized she had her ears pointed in one direction. He strained his own hearing and could hear a female trainer’s voice calling through the forest. Only a few words reached him comprehensible.
His eyes widened as the Sylveon shook herself. Sparkles flew from her fur to spread quickly through the immediate forest. The trees seemed to fade into the background, merely ethereal echoes of plant flesh. But as they receded, Ayessel stuck out vividly and the Sylveon turned on him in quick succession. With an undignified squawk he shot out of the roots, narrowly dodging what likely would have been a fatal Bite.
Once again in flight mode, Ayessel flapped around barely visible branches, suddenly at a disadvantage. He dodged Moonblast after Dazzling Gleam after Moonblast, but only just. He came within eyeshot of Aegis in his clearing. He was taking Hydro Pump potshots at the trees around him as the Ninetales disappeared, only to reappear on the other side of the clearing to spit a Hex at him. The Ninetales was too fast and nimble in the cramped woods for the Blastoise to hit with any accuracy. If only I could lure that fox out in the open we might stand a chance.
An idea came hurtling out of his youth. He dropped his speed and let it seem as though the next Moonblast had nearly hit him (though it was much closer than he had intended, thank you very much). With another screech, Ayessel was glad Jack was deaf as he let out an uninterrupted string of the foulest words he knew. Growing up around sailors gave him a lot of ammunition.
He filled the air with obscenities and cursed up a storm, insulting deities both local and distant. His profanities were so disgustingly foul, it was actually making aiming difficult for the pursuing Sylveon. Ayessel circled the clearing as he kept up his swear-filled tirade about things holy, but mostly things not. His blasphemous mouth drew the attention of the fire-type as he flew over her, and she joined the chase with her teammate. Thankfully it kept them both distracted enough to chase him without alerting them of his direction.
He barreled into the clearing directly at Aegis. The Shellfish Pokémon was still looking around for the Ninetales, but also for the source of sudden filth in the forest. Ayessel stopped cursing and flung a command at the Blastoise.
“Aegis, Protect!” Aegis looked over his shoulder for a moment at the Music Note Pokémon before complying. He withdrew into his shell and raised his barrier. Ayessel tucked his wings and tumbled tail feathers over beak, pointed back the way he came. Just as the pursuing Pokémon leapt into the clearing, they were slammed with sound. The massive Boomburst pummeled them into and through the nearest trees. Ayessel unceremoniously plopped to the ground, bruising only his pride.
Such is the price of pulling off an amazing maneuver like that.
He pushed himself to his feet and shook the dirt from his wings. Aegis stood over him, a concerned look on his face. He reached down a hand to lift Ayessel, giving him that look the entire way up to his shoulder where Ayessel hopped to his shell. Ayessel put a reassuring wing on the Blastoise’s head.
“I’m alright, big guy.”
A matching growl and snarl from behind them suggested he might not be for much longer. Their opponents had finished extricating themselves from the wreckage of branches and leaves. Both had their teeth bared as they approached. Wisps of fire and a pink glow escaped from the sides of their mouths. Instead of launching their attacks they split and started circling the pair. Ayessel kept his eyes on the Sylveon, while Aegis turned slowly to follow the Ninetales.
Reaching opposite sides the fox-like team launched their attacks. Ayessel took quickly to the air to dodge a Moonblast, barrel rolling around the stream of light. Below him, Aegis had dropped to the ground, withdrawing into his shell to execute a Rapid Spin. The Flamethrower meant for Aegis nearly struck the Sylveon as he ducked out of the way.
Ayessel let loose a Chatter at the Sylveon trying to avoid the crackling flames. The attack only slowed her down for a moment before she dashed away, the Chatot quick to follow her ribbons. He could see from his peripheral Aegis was now chasing the Ninetales, using Rapid Spin in the newly expanded space. He was fast when spinning, but the Ninetales was quicker. She managed to dodge behind trees just as Aegis would have hit, causing him to bounce away leaving a heavy divot in the struck trees.
Refocusing his attention to the pink Eeveelution, Ayessel found he hadn’t refocused quickly enough. Where did she go? I thought I was right behind her. He flapped to a halt and hovered in the air, looking back and forth for his opponent. Looking at his teammate, he found the Blastoise looking for his own target who had disappeared into the trees again. You’d think two Pokémon that brightly colored would pop in this gloom, no matter how skilled at hiding they are.
Two ribbons lashed out from the forest and wrapped securely against Aegis’s water cannons. The Sylveon hurtled toward the Blastoise with the help of her tendrils, Biting him sharply on the snout. She then flipped over onto his back, continuing to use her ribbons to full effect to keep her balanced. Ayessel saw a pink glare fill her mouth, aimed at his friend’s head.
“Aegis!” Ayessel turned to help the Shellfish Pokémon, and found himself on his back, victim to the Ninetales’s Feint Attack. Before he could recover, the Fox Pokémon stood over him, pinning his wings to the ground. She briefly looked over at the Sylveon, meeting her comrade’s eyes, before turning back to the trapped bird. Her maw opened and filled with flame.