Hi… It’s been a while… again.
Chapter 26 – Premonitions
“AHHHH!” yelled a young trainer wielding a tree branch as he charged whatever creature loomed before him.
Ash neared the beast until he was only a few steps away from it, and then leapt up to attempt to strike his foe with his weapon. However, with agility that few would think it could have, the large creature made a 180 degree turn and struck its attacker violently with its tail. Ash felt the wind knocked out of him as the blow connected with his abdomen while he was still airborne. The powerful blow knocked him backwards, sending him tumbling on the ground for several meters.
A shriek of fear and concern emanated from May’s throat as she watched the trainer roll along the hard forest floor, then stopping halfway between her and the monster. In her mind, she could not decide if Ash was being a brave hero, or a foolish boy, but one thing was certain, and it was that Ash stood no chance against whatever was assaulting them and could possibly be killed.
“Ash, please stop!” May called to Ash as he slowly picked himself off the ground, using his branch as support. “You can’t fight whatever that thing is by yourself! You’ll get seriously injured! Or worse...”
For a moment, the beaten teen seemed to return to his senses, and he turned his head to gaze at the girl that had his heart. He looked into her wide sapphire eyes and admired their beauty, then changed his view to her entire face. Though it was filled with fright and anxiety, it still looked like the face of an angel to him.
A low growl came from his front, and Ash changed his gaze back to his opponent. The bubbly feelings he just had disappeared, and a sort of rage took over his mind. It wasn’t that he was angry at the beast for attacking them, it was that he was frustrated that he was still powerless, no matter how dire the situation. If Altaďr was around, he would probably dispose of the creature in a few simple moves, with or without his Pokémon. Ash didn’t know why, but he wanted to be like him. He wanted to have physical strength that was permanent, not powers like Aura which he could only seem to call upon at some times, or strange connections with Legendary Pokémon. Though those attributes set him apart as well, they proved useful at only a few particular situations.
Now he wanted the power to always protect May. Or was that the actual reason? Maybe a little jealousy also contributed to his thirst for strength. After all, he did see Altaďr and May together at that dance…
“No, I can’t stop now…” Ash said in a low voice, barely above a whisper.
“But…” May didn’t know what else she could say to get the boy that truly had her own heart to stop. But with those feelings of affection she had, pain came attached as well. The memories of how she could not receive any signs of affection back from him and then deciding to pursue Drew plagued her, and the sight of Ash and Dawn together at the dance felt like blades cutting into her when she first saw them. However, the memories of pain were pushed away as now her entire attention was focused on Ash and the dangerous situation they were in.
“HERE I COME!” Ash roared at his opponent as he faced forward and began charging.
May could only watch in horror as the next series of events took place.
Ash once again charged straight at the beast and jumped into the air, but the beast, easily able to predict the trainer’s simple tactics, was prepared to end this fight once and for all. As Ash began to bring his weapon down to strike the creature’s abdomen, it bent down low and out of the shadows, two claws came forward and slashed diagonally in opposite directions, aimed directly at the person charging; Ash.
From the teenaged boy's perspective, it was a quick flash, a funny feeling across his chest, and the force of being propelled violently backwards. Instead of tumbling this time, he remained on his back as he slid, causing a great burning sensation and him to grunt in pain.
This time, no words exited May’s mouth, and instead she rushed to where Ash had stopped after sliding. She dropped to her knees beside the teen and quickly began to look him over. What she witnessed caused her to make a sort of choking noise in her throat as she viewed the carnage before her.
Across Ash’s chest were two large gashes in an X shaped pattern that ripped right through his clothing. Blood seeped through the wounds and spread along the fabric of his vest, darkening the yellow line across it. The cuts looked to be fairly deep, and without proper medical support, blood loss could soon be a problem. May felt herself shaking as she hovered over his chest, trying to come up with some way to treat him, but knowing that she was unable to do so without a medical background. She wasn’t able to let tears loose, as the only emotion in her mind was a stunned sensation and increasing panic.
Then she looked at his face, and the sight of that caused her to break down further. Ash’s face displayed not a look of contortion or pain, but instead a peaceful look, like he had just died a peaceful death. He was passed out due to the shock and no breath seemed to come from his slightly ajar mouth. His eyes were open, but they only gave a blank, lifeless stare. The thought of him actually being gone finally hit May hard, and a choked sob escaped her throat.
“No… Ash… why did you have to go do that…” she whispered as her chest tightened and her face became hot. Her eyes felt as if they were burning while they began to water up.
A grunt came from above May, causing her to look upwards straight into the glowing eyes of the humongous beast towering over her. She gave a quick shriek and quickly backed off several meters in fear. Though it was still relatively dark, May could now make out several characteristics of the monster. In fact, it looked like some sort of Pokémon, with its gaping mouth and armored body. She had never seen any Pokémon that fit that description before though, so she knew nothing about its abilities or behavior.
The Pokémon then stepped over Ash’s limp body and stretched its long neck so it could take a good look at the puny human that had just tried to combat it. Suddenly, a switch was turned inside May as she thought of a way of getting Ash away from the Pokémon and into safety. She knew that with his wounds, Ash may not live much longer even if the Pokémon did not attack him again. Ash had protected and rescued her so many times before, and now it was time to return the favor.
Clenching her hands into fists, the coordinator stood up and took a step towards the Pokémon that threatened her best friend, and prepared herself for what was to come.
“I won’t let you hurt him anymore.”
“Dammit, bugger nearly tore my leg straight off.”
Captain Dunning grunted and cursed as he limped his way out of the quarry, just putting down his adversary with a few well placed tranquilizer shots. However, the battle did not go about without wounds to the Captain.
“Gotta dress this before I start losing too much blood… not that it would matter if I got poisoned.”
Finally reaching the top of the incline, Captain Dunning let himself collapse as the physical strain of scaling the incline with an injury was a bit overbearing, even for a well trained policeman like him. He panted heavily as he rolled over onto his back, staring up into the dark canopy that shadowed the world below.
“Ugh… ha… it seems like… ha… some poison is starting to… ha… kick in…” sweat was now starting to roll off his brow, and a feverish tinge blotched his cheeks. He needed an antidote, and quick.
But the poison was now causing his muscles to weaken, disallowing him to work himself onto his feet. The Captain could only lie there staring at the trees as his fever continued to rise and his vision began to blur. His breathing was becoming shallower by the seconds, as the muscles of his lungs were being affected by the poison.
“Looks… ha… like… ha… I’m going… out…” Captain Dunning slowly closed his eyes as he let the embrace of death overtake him.
Unfortunately, the embrace of death included an object hitting his forehead. Strangely, the object was soft and squishy, so it simply plopped onto his forehead and stayed there. Captain Dunning slowly opened his eyes once again, being interrupted from his death.
“Whuzz…zat?” he slurred while using much effort to move his right arm onto his face and feel for the object. He removed the soft object from his head and used his last remaining strength to hold it above his eyes.
“Pecha…?” and then the Captain blacked out.
“Now I know I definitely heard something that time.”
It was impossible to tell the time of the day, but to a certain Pokémon breeder, it was nearing the time that he generally cooked dinner. His matriarchal instincts never failed him.
“Somebody… or something, is watching me. I can just feel it.”
Brock spun around several times quickly, trying to catch whatever was tailing him by surprise and in the open, but he came to no such luck. A bead of sweat dripped down his temple as paranoia unnerved him. Usually, he was able to remain calm and collected in such situations, but for some reason, the combination of the darkness and the silent forest was able to break down his logical sense of reasoning.
“Ghosts. Is it ghosts? Ghost Pokémon maybe? Or… real ghosts?”
His ears were on full alert, waiting for the slightest sound to catch their attention so their owner could finally solve the mystery of what was going on. Brock stood motionless for a good ten minutes, then twenty, then a half hour, but no sound entered his ears.
“I think I’m just being… paranoid… that’s it.”
Feeling more secure, Brock continued on his endless trek, not knowing where to go or what to do. As he mindlessly wandered, his thoughts began to float to back to all the events that had happened in the past five days, with the advent of meeting Altaďr, the discovery of the Pokémon contest, the contest training, Dawn’s encounter in the alley, the start of the Pokémon contest, Altaďr’s strange behavior, Altaďr’s confession and disappearance, the orders from Captain Dunning, and finally their excursion. It was a lot to happen in just five simple days, though it wasn’t like Brock hadn’t had similar timelines of crazy events. However, the current situation he was under seemed to have an unusual sort of direct threat toward him and his friends, with Captain Dunning being assigned to them with heavily armed personnel. It had been a while since Brock and his friends had encountered anything exciting, but this was a little over the top for his wishes.
“Man, I’ve never come across a guy like Altaďr either. I mean I’ve met agents from different kinds of organizations, like Lance from the Pokémon G-Men, and Jack Walker from the Pokémon Rangers, but Altaďr has a kind of… different air to him. And the organization he works for… what was it? The PDI? It stands for Pokémon Defense Initiative? What do they really do? How come no one’s ever heard of them before? I’m pretty sure if they’re working for the government, they have to be recognized somehow right? Unless the government is hiding their existence from us! But why?”
A breeze began to whistle as it passed the canopy high above. It was an extremely windy day because of the Foehn winds of the nearby mountains, but little of the wind could be felt in the forest as the dense leaves of the trees that spanned over 20 meters high shielded the floor from the majority of the harsh winds. Deep in thought, the whistles passed seamlessly through his brain and cancelled out all other noise that went on around him, whatever little noise there was in the forest excluding the wind.
“If you ask me, any secret organization that performs covert military operations sounds like bad news to me, mercenaries or not. I mean, Altaďr knocked us out to get on with his mission for crying out loud! But then, why did he give us so many details about his mission if he was heading out to complete it?
Brock subconsciously stopped as he began to ponder the agent’s motives. It was definitely strange for a covert operative to divulge a great amount of detail to a bunch of random travelers, and Brock felt finicky over the possibilities of reasons.
Suddenly, the breeder’s foot ran into an object on the ground and kicked it slightly forward. The contact snapped Brock out of his thinking trance, and he glanced down to see what he had hit, and what he saw was caused him to jump back slightly.
“What-What’s this d-doing here?” he stammered.
On the ground lay an assault rifle, similar to the one that Captain Dunning carried on the truck. For all he knew, the rifle could be the exact same one that Captain Dunning did carry; there was no way to tell it apart from any other ordinary rifle. What was most jarring was the fact that it was just lying there in the middle of nowhere on the forest floor, as if it had been waiting for him. Brock didn’t think he was anywhere near the place they… actually, he had no idea what area he was thinking about. He could remember that he and his friends were being transported to Veilstone City, but he could not remember how he ended up in the forest in the first place. One minute, they were sitting in a semi-truck and the next, he was alone lying on the ground.
Brock merely stared at the deadly weapon that seemed to beckon him to pick it up, but using his better senses, Brock felt he had no reason to arm himself, and he opted to ignore it. However, that feeling vanished immediately.
“WHAT THE!?” Brock managed to fall to his side just in time to avoid a quick flash from connecting with his chest. Whatever had tried to attack him was now directly on top of him, and if Brock didn’t act soon, he’d be cut up into Swiss cheese.
Acting on adrenaline and self-defense, the breeder snatched the weapon that was beside him and quickly pulled the bolt and aimed it upwards at his assailant. But as he was just about to pull the trigger, he faintly saw the shape of some sort of large Pokémon staring down at him through his blurred vision due to the adrenaline. The man and the Pokémon stared into each other’s eyes, and saw the fear in one another. Neither made a single movement.
Then finally coming back to his senses, he realized that the fact that the attacker was a Pokémon alone caused him to hesitate, and then he lowered the rifle.
“I’m not here to hurt you,” the breeder said in a soft, but firm tone.
The Pokémon only stared back, and its next move was unreadable by Brock.