|The Indigo Finals|
The chapter starts on the day of Ash's battle with Ritchie, in the Fifth-Round of the Novice Tournament. Jessie, James, and Meowth are seen in their disguises, pondering Ash's success so far. James wonders what it would be like if it was him down in the stadium, with the crowd cheering him on. Meowth retorts that they're supposed to be evil, and that evil is not bathed in glory. Interrupted from their thoughts by a fan demanding peanuts, they quickly return to their jobs.
The battle begins, Ash sends out his Squirtle, commanding it to use Skull Bash and Ritchie sends his Butterfree, telling it to use its Sleep Powder attack. Squirtle successfully hits Butterfree with its Skull Bash attack, knocking it out, but is affected by Butterfree's Sleep Powder and falls asleep. That round ending in a tie, Ash and Ritchie choose to send their Pikachu out for the next battle. The Pikachu begin by both apparently following a pre-discussed strategy and match each other's moves. Following this fast paced strategy, Ash resumes control of his Pokémon, Ash commanding Pikachu to use Thunder. Chuchino, Ritchie's Pikachu, matches Pikachu's attack. Both Pikachu are struck by each other's Thunder attacks simultaneously, resulting in both fainting.
Down to the last round of the battle, Ash and Ritchie are allowed to choose one more Pokémon out of their six available ones. Ash and Ritchie both call a timeout to tend to their Pikachu before choosing another Pokémon. Ash expresses delight at the challenge of facing his friend, and then receives a video-call from Ritchie. Ritchie, who also has a "Secret Weapon", guessing that Ash has one as well, suggest they both use theirs. Ash agrees, while wondering what Ritchie's secret weapon is. Ash sends out his weapon, Charizard, much to Brock's distress, who had earlier advised Ash against using Charizard because of his lack of control of it. Ritchie releases "Charlie", revealing his secret weapon to be a Charizard as well, much to Ash's shock. Professor Oak, one of the announcers, expresses amazement at the prospect of two Charizard in a Novice Tournament match, saying that he'd never seen such a thing before.
The two Charizard fixate on each other, in anticipation for the battle. They leap into action with their unidentified attacks, neither listening to their owners. Brock muses that the two Charizard are fighting on instinct, exclaiming that such a situation is very dangerous. Ash, in a moment of confidence, but unable to control Charizard, cheers it on. Ritchie however, tells his Charizard to use Swords Dance. Charlie responds, slashing its tail rhythmically through the air, sending "swords" of flame hissing towards Charizard. Enraged, Ash's Charizard shoots towards Charley, and bites Charley's neck with its teeth and thrashes it, causing spurts of blood to splatter across the stadium. Ash, horrified by the viciousness of Charizard's attack, pleads with it to stop, but to no avail. Whipping out a Flame Candle, he again attempts to command Charizard to release Charley, but again, with no success. Brock comments that Charizard is in a rage and will listen to no one until it's finished off Charley. Professor Oak, watches, waiting to see what Ash will do. Ritchie attempts to recall Charley, but finds the return mechanism to be broken. The announcer shouts "Charizard is attacking mercilessly! If it keeps this up, Charley may be-" suggesting that Charley could be killed.
Dejected, Ash recalls Charizard. The announcer comments that Charley looks badly injured, but still capable of battling. Ash runs away, forfeiting the match, resulting in Ritchie being the winner. The crowd cheers Ritchie on, but Ritchie looks shocked and concerned for Ash. He catches up with Ash in the Stadium tunnel. Ash wonders aloud how he could possibly apologize to Ritchie, to which Ritchie assures Ash that Charley will be alright after a night at the Pokémon Center. Ritchie tells Ash that he owes him an apology, and that it was his fault for challenging Ash. Ash, deciding not to ruin Ritchie's victory, puts on a happy expression and exclaims that Ritchie won, and shouldn't feel bad. Ritchie, remembering that he needs to prepare for his next match in the 6th round, rushes off.
Once Ritchie is out of sight, Ash releases his happy facade and sinks into self-loathing. Brock and Misty approach, and Brock says "Ash, your training and education don't end here. No matter how long your journey, or where it takes you, as long as you don't give up, as long as you believe in yourself, someday Charizard will realize what a good friend you are. Don't defeat yourself Ash." Appeased, Ash thanks Brock for his encouragement. Misty grabs Ash's hand and drags him back to the Stadium, to see Ritchie's match. Finding his old excitement again, Ash cheers Ritchie on.
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