Oh yeah, it's the idiot that brought you the pwnsomeness of After Hoenn: The Journey of Faith, and the mysterious maker of A Forgotten Legend and Shattered Sword. Guess what? I'm back, and this time, we're doing the story a little differently.
Crowd around, because a story unlike anything else is about to begin! Again!
Golden Light, Voltaic Strike
Rated PG-13 for alcohol and sexual themes.
Ash Ketchum: 28
May Birch: 27
Max Birch: 22
Brock Harrison: 33
Sarah Birch: 5
Morph One- Reunion
It had been a while since he had stopped traveling with the others, wanting to pursue different goals than May, Brock, and Max. It had been a while since he had been home, but he had just wanted a break. A break that was standing at two years, with no sign of stopping. Ever since the marriage had fallen through, it had just been him and Pikachu, his best friend.
Ash hadn’t changed much since his days as a youthful, excited trainer. His clothes had gone through an alteration, he couldn’t be expected to wear that ridiculous garb forever, could he? Instead of the sleeveless hood he had once worn, a plain yellow shirt fluttered lightly in the wind, his muscular limbs seeing through the cloth. A pair of black pants hung baggily on his waist, with two dark sneakers. He wasn’t badly dressed for a trainer.
The hair trailed down his back, embroiled in a ponytail with two knots tied into it. Already, it was on his shoulder blades, always growing larger and larger, like the sinking feeling he normally felt in his stomach. A small chain on his neck, pure silver, had a small ring hanging around it, the last remnant of his life with her. He glanced down at it, breathing deeply.
“Damn,” he muttered, his fierce black eyes dulling at the sight. It wasn’t as though he didn’t have contact with her, he had to send the stupid check every month, to pay for what he wasn’t allowed to see. Sometimes that was just it about life, it kills you with irony.
Pikachu sat on his shoulder, the little yellow mouse his eternal companion. Its red cheeks sparked, its beady black eyes staring around them, looking for someone, someones, their friends. Its lightning shaped tail stuck out, giving people from the side the impression that a sharp object was sticking out of its trainer’s head. It too was older, but still held the spark that Ash had long since forgotten.
“So, she’s gonna be here is she?” he asked, looking up at the atrium’s sign, proclaiming Pokemon Contest Championships, in broad, red letters. “Well, I hope she brought Sarah. Shouldn’t be leaving her at home alone.” Shuffling his feet, he made his way through the doors, entering the Contest’s main arena.
Almost at once, bright lights dazzled him, colors swirling around him. He passed through the crowds circling around the battles, dodging through the traffic on the floor. There are too many people here, he thought, yawning slightly, already getting bored. “Sure she’ll be here Pikachu?” he asked, turning to his partner.
“Pi!” it squeaked, confirming what Ash had said. Its eyes were already scanning the floor, searching for any familiar faces in the crowds. She would be here, that was true, but since it was the Contest Festival, there was a good chance that the others might be here, supporting her. After all, he was the one that hurt her, not the other way around.
“Let’s get something to drink,” Ash muttered, dodging through the swarm of people around him. What is this, a nerd convention? He ignored the thought, remembering that he himself came here every year, even if it didn’t do a bit of good to help him. “I’m thirsty.”
Pikachu nodded, and Ash made his way through the public, careful not to let people recognize him. He preferred his privacy, one of the main reasons he kept such little contact with everyone, he didn’t want the paparazzi after him, not again. It had taken a year to ditch them. Now, with his new look, he stood a chance at blending in, without a name.
He pushed open the bar doors, one of his safe havens. Ignoring the dusty atmosphere, he settled himself into a bar stool at the front of the establishment, making eye contact with no one. At least twenty drunks were inside, slurring in their own misery. Ash didn’t want to know, he had enough misery in his life. Pikachu climbed off, getting onto the table in front of its trainer.
“Beer,” Ash muttered, as the barkeep walked past the counter. “Now.”
The keep, a young man with an eye patch, glanced him up and down, before going next to the register, grabbing a mug as he did so. Raising the tap, he poured a draft of cool amber liquid, sending foam all round the cup’s tip. Coughing away from the cup, he shoved it down the shiny surface of the counter, before it was caught by the man.
“Five bucks,” the one-eyed man muttered, reaching for a cigarette from under the counter. Ash passed him the money as he lit the thing, blowing smoke into the air.
“You know, that’s bad for you,” Ash replied, tipping the tankard back to take a long draught from the beer.
“Yeah, the alcoholic tells the smoker what he does is bad,” the barkeep said, chuckling at the irony.
“I’m no alcoholic, I just like the taste,” Ash sighed, setting the drink down, over half of its contents gone. “What’s going on today?” he asked, changing the subject. He looked out the window to the rest of the center, filled with contest trainers.
“Didn’t you hear it out there?” the keep asked, pointing outside with a finger. “We’ve got the championships for the Coordinators today, it’s never a good business day fer me. After all, drinking just makes it tougher to fight.”
“Guess you’ve got a point,” Ash thought, gazing out of the glass. “It ain’t a good day for me either.”
“Uncle Max, I wanna play!” the child said happily, her bright black eyes shining through the crowd of people. Max held fast to her hand, making sure his niece couldn’t get away and get into trouble.
Why did May pick me for guard duty? he screamed silently, the girl getting behind him and leaping onto his back, begging for a piggyback ride. Already his green shirt was creasing, feet worn from chasing after Sarah. “Hey, think we can sit down for a sec? I’m getting sort of tired.”
She smiled, as he lifted her onto his shoulders. “Yay Uncle Max!” she squealed with delight, as the man lumbered his way towards a decent place to sit and maybe revive himself from looking after the little girl. Passing through the arenas, Sarah and Max glanced over the various battles going on, watching people win, lose, whatever.
“Is Momma going to win?” Sarah asked, dropping her head to look at her uncle.
“She’d better, or we’ll all in trouble,” Max replied, grinning. Scanning the room, he spotted a diner in the corner for the spectators with an open food court. Max followed the surging crowd like a wave, and soon washed up in a small haven of food, without masses of people moving around him like a herd of Pokemon.
“Here we go Sarah,” he muttered, setting the child down into one of the vacant seats. He felt tired, one of the normal effects of babysitting Sarah, he always felt so old. Having a niece had definitely been one of those things that put gray hairs in a person, but thankfully, the black locks had remained intact, slightly longer then his journey days. His glasses were smaller, more narrow and straight.
He adjusted the lens, making sure to keep the girl within sight and reach. “You want to eat something?” he asked, checking the court for whatever they had available. “I think they have pizza here.”
“Pitza!” Sarah said happily, it was always funny to hear her pronounce the word, never getting it right, but always so cute you didn’t care. “Pitza!”
“Sure thing kid,” Max replied, getting up with her to head for the pizza stand. As they walked, he looked down again to see the little girl, May’s beautiful daughter. Her brown hair was grown out, braided into small pigtails that reached down to her shoulders. But it was probably the eyes that Max noticed the most, dark and black, fierce but gentle.
They were his eyes, and Max knew well enough not to mention it. Saying Ash’s name near May or Sarah was enough for a death sentence according to his sister. I wonder if she even knows who her father is, he thought sadly, helping her up to choose her meal. No child should be kept away from their father. It was May’s silent revenge against Ash, forbidding him to see his own daughter.
Times really have changed since it happened…Max’s head drifted off as Sarah’s demanding attention got the better of him, and he turned to watch her devour her plate of cheese and ham pizza. Such a happy child, for all the misery the people around her had shielded her from.
“Max, what’s up?” The shout made Max turned around to watch as Brock attempted to move through the crowds. The big man grinned, waving as he was cast aside into the food court, where it was easier to move around without being attacked every second by pushing people. He was expelled, but jumped up instantly, from the group, and started to make his way towards the table where Sarah and Max were sitting.
“You old dog,” Max chuckled, grasping Brock’s hand in welcome. At least one thing hadn’t changed, and that was Brock’s personality. His hair, was if possible, even more spiky then it had been when they had traveled together. Silver was worn on a vest he had on, with black underneath. “Good to see you.”
“Same buddy!” Brock passed him, and set himself down at the table, next to Sarah. “Sarah, have you been being a good girl for you mom?” he asked, passing her a few chocolates that Max knew he gave to the girl every time he saw them.
“Have you been a good girl for Uncle Max?”
“Nope,” Max muttered, making Brock laugh, his eyebrows hiding his eyes. “She’s a little demon.”
“Sarah,” Brock said, faking the usual voice that got Sarah to behave, “say sorry to Uncle Max.”
Sarah smiled. “Sorry Uncle Max, I’ll be good!” she chirped sweetly, though Max had known her long enough to know the promise would only last an hour at most.
“AND THE WIN GOES TO…MAY BIRCH!”
The announcer blared for everyone to hear, signaling the end of her match. The opponent, a small boy half her age, had already left the arena by the time May recalled Skitty into the Pokeball, placing it once more on the belt clip she carried.
She smiled, winning was one of the few pleasures that she had not denied herself. She brushed the long strands of brown hair from her eyes, the azure color shining before the otaku surrounding her platform. Dusting off her hands, she made her way out of the arena, heading for the elevator.
The lower decks, where the people clustered around, were where the battles in the Championship were held. The higher area was reserved for the spectators, who came simply because they loved the growing interest in Contests, and to swarm famous coordinators like her. Her fan mail could have kept a region happily supplied in paper. Sometimes this gets on my nerves, she thought, as the doors closed, taking her to the upper level. Hopefully, Max hadn’t been overrun with guard duty, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble finding them.
She wore a simple clothing, nothing to draw attention to herself, even though every person in the building knew who she was. Black leather pants, high heels, and a red blouse. Nothing to draw attention, except from…
“Hey babe,” said someone in the crowd, followed by a massive horde of whistling that soon began to issue from the area. The man who started the catcalling, a large, beefy idiot wearing a shirt with her face on it, grinned through a buckle of horse teeth, his head shining like a silver dollar.
“Here we go again,” she muttered, rubbing her head. “Which of you do I need to kill for everyone to shut up?” she asked, turning around to face the gathering of sweaty nerds. She cracked her knuckles, she knew how to fight off idiots.
The one who had spoken, obviously the leader of the flock, stood up, stepping forward to her. His nostrils flared, burning with desire. “Come on baby, we all know that ya ditched that husband of yours, Ash. You look like ya need some loving!”
“You’re just begging for me to beat you up, aren’t you?” she asked coolly, though secretly burning with rage. “Happy to oblige.” She struck out, swinging her foot and sending the man flying with a kick to the face, knocking him into next week. The crowd parted like a sea as the man shot through it, slamming into a nearby wall.
“Mention Ketchum’s name to me again,” she growled, her eyes growing fierce, “and you’ll be sorry you ever met me.” Fuming, she turned on her heel and headed for the nearest place to buy a drink. It didn’t take her long to find it either, a small, illegible sign on the front warning minors away. Perfect, she sighed, before making a dash for it, dodging through the crowded walkways. She threw down a person even, to reach the spot. A nice drink was exactly what she needed after that.
She glanced round the room, seeing only a few people inside, only one person that appeared conscious, sitting next to a half empty tankard. His hair was long, down to his shoulders in a ponytail set in two braids, with a bright yellow shirt, almost golden, on his muscular chest. A sober drunk, but a drunk nonetheless.
“Mai Tai,” she muttered, resting her elbow on the counter. The dull pain in her heart started up again, brewing up again at the…mentioning of his name. “Damn groupies.”
“Life sucks, don’t it?” asked the man beside her, his back turned to her. His voice was dull and tired, the voice of a person without a reason for being. “What’s your story?” he asked, taking a sip of his beer.
“Nothing,” she replied, just as the bartender came with her small drink. “Just the life of a celebrity, marriage, divorce, things like that. You ever get things like that?”
He chuckled, nodding behind his back. “Used to have a wife, then it sort of fell through. Can’t even see my kid, she doesn’t let me come near the house.”
“That’s pretty harsh, I do the same thing to my ex,” May answered, heart throbbing with anguish. “But he deserves it, after how much he hurt me.”
“Don’t you ever think about how he feels, not being able to see his own daughter?”
“It doesn’t matter,” May retorted, sipping on her drink. “After what he did-” She stopped, turning very slowly, making sure she had heard correctly, towards this stranger. “How do you know I have a daughter?” she asked carefully.
“She’s my daughter too May,” the man sighed, putting the drink to his lips. “I deserve to be able to see Sarah.”
“Ash…” May’s voice faltered, as the man swirled around to reveal her former lover, in all his glory. There was a definite difference, for one thing his hair was really long! His eyes! The eyes she used to love, the fierce beauty of the black pools, who she was reminded of every time Sarah smiled, were nothing but dull pits. They barely blinked, she was unsure if it was hatred or sadness.
“Nice to see you too,” Ash mumbled, raising his glass to her. “To your good health,” he muttered, tipping the glass back, taking a long drought from its contents.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, feeling a twinge of fear. But Ash wasn’t like those other criminals, he wasn’t a criminal. No matter how much had changed, Ash was just Ash.
“To see Sarah,” he replied carefully, nodding to her. “That’s why I come every year, to see my daughter. You think I’m here to see you?”
She stammered, of course he wasn’t there to see her. Not when…“You can’t talk to her,” she retorted stubbornly. “I’ve made that clear with you. So leave.”
“I’m not bothering anyone here,” Ash shrugged, glancing around the room. “I’ll leave when I see her. I‘m not going to talk to her, so give me that much.”
He stood up off the stool, and for a moment, May was afraid he might punch her. His face had nothing in it, neither angry nor calm. “Pikachu, let’s get going,” he muttered, and the yellow mouse leapt up from below the counter on his command. Ash looked at her once more, face full of sadness, before he started for the door.
As he brushed past her, he muttered, “How would you feel, if your own daughter didn’t even know you existed?” he asked, exiting the bar and vanishing into the crowd. May could only stand there, welling in her own sorrow.
She lowered her head, everything he had said was true. He had been a good father, he had been a good husband. “I’m sorry Ash,” she murmured, feeling a tear coming to her face. “You…we hurt each other so much. And it can’t be taken back. Nothing we say or do can.”
“Sarah…” she muttered, opening her pack to pay the owner for her drink. Throwing down a few bills, she opened the door and fled from where she saw Ash head.
“Ketchum,” said a voice from inside his pocket. Ash jumped slightly, checking to make sure that no one had noticed his leg speaking, and slipped his hand down, retrieving the cell phone that he had been given. The small golden device was flashing, signaling that something was wrong.
Ash ducked into a discrete corner, making sure no one had seen him. He flipped open the phone, putting it to his ear. “This is Ketchum,” he muttered, making sure no one was watching him. “I’m at the location, just like I was ordered. What’s wrong?”
“We’ve received a report that a terrorist is planning to attack the event,” the voice replied. “To deal with this, a second agent is being dispatched to join you. One with the type of firepower to combat a terrorist threat.”
“You’re sending me a spandex?” Ash asked, feeling slightly annoyed. “Listen, I can handle a terrorist. I don’t need one of your dumb tights showing up. I’ll handle this on my own.”
“You have new orders,” the voice continued, as though he had not spoken. “Orders are to secure a safe passage for Number 0, Gold, into the competition. You will not interfere in his plans or get involved.” The voice paused, sighing, “Try and have some fun Ketchum. I know what you had to give up for us. Do something for yourself for a change.”
“How nice of you,” he finished, the line cutting dead. He put the communicator back into his pocket, feeling the wave of depression that usually followed. “Just what I need, a damn spandex,” he muttered, looking up at Pikachu. “Ever think I made the wrong choice?” he asked, though he always knew what the answer was.
“Kachu,” it replied, it didn’t know. Ash stood up, shuffling through the crowds.
“I gave everything up, and this is the result,” he said, glancing through the happy crowds of people, couples walking to a fro with their children, it almost brought a tear to his eyes, remembering how he and May used to walk like that, Sarah taking her little baby steps in between them. That memory made him smile. It’s only a memory now, he whispered silently, before blending into the crowd, nothing more then a passing stranger.
Brock grinned, listening as Max recounted another story from his traveling across the world. “So let me get this straight,” he said, as Max paused for a drink. “You mean that you and her were,” he glanced at Sarah, who was making a mess out of her food, “alone for long periods of time?”
“That would be correct,” Max grinned, laughing with him. “I’ll tell you all about it later though.”
“We’re leaving, now.” A voice made Brock and Max turn, to see a haggard May crossing her arms to their left. She looked as though she was about to start crying, her face was flushed.
“Jeez, what happened to you?” Max asked, looking her up and down. “You lose your match?”
“I won, now let’s go.” May’s voice sounded urgent, demanding. “Sarah, come with Mommy.”
“Mommy!” Sarah shouted, jumping from her chair to hug May’s leg. Her mother picker her up, wrapping her in an embrace. “Win Momma?”
“Yeah,” she replied, feeling her little arms around her neck. “I won honey.”
“How about we carry this celebration to somewhere away from this crowded place?” Brock asked, a smile on his face. “Good work May.”
“Thanks,” she answered, setting Sarah down gently on the ground, keeping the girl’s hand in her fingers. “Come on, let’s get going.” Max stood up, and followed his sister and niece to a door in the food court which lead outside. Brock followed, checking out the women as he did so.
Ash watched as they left, in the crowds of people surrounding him, shrouding him from their sights. He saw the happy face Sarah had made when she saw May, and it pained him inside. She’ll never look at me like that, he thought, walking into the food court behind them, just to get away from the sea of people. I wish she knew me.
He watched in surprise as Sarah turned around, just before Max, Brock, and May made their way out of the convention center. Her eyes flew around one final time, before they rested on him, for just a split second. His eyes stared at her, and her eyes looked back. Just for that fleeting second, his heart felt happy, even if she didn’t know who he was. Sarah and May vanished behind the door, headed for the world beyond, leaving Ash behind.
“I love you Sarah,” he muttered sadly, his eyes dark. “I love you May.”
Pikachu nodded, feeling the pain its trainer felt. “Pi,” it reminded him, pointing to where they had come in, the main atrium to the center.
“Yeah,” Ash replied, turning from the door, his lost love and daughter leaving his mind. “It’s time to go to work, isn’t it?” Pikachu nodded again, and they vanished once more into the sea of people, blurring into non-existence. Nothing more then a passing shadow, a lingering memory that could not be forgotten, yet could not be remembered. Déjŕ vu, to be seen and dismissed.
The people of the convention, the Contest Festival, the Championship, continued with their lives. Nothing changed for them, they were perfectly happy. They knew nothing of what was coming, only concerned with enjoying themselves to the fullest. A terror attack was not known to them, not even in their vaguest minds. Only one person knew, and he wasn’t even going to be allowed to stop it.
Right now though, Ash Ketchum was only concerned with his daughter, wondering how she was, who she was. It was one thing to see your daughter, another to know your daughter. He just wanted to see her, to talk to her, to let her know who he was. Was that so much?
The life of a PKM agent sure was a bi*ch.
Confused? Good, that means you have no idea how things got this way. One chapter a week will keep you all happy, this is going to be a mini series to boost the moral of theAdvanceShippers! Review if you can, it's good to be back!