OFF: So, I've been trying to write a Pearlshipping story for the longest time… so much so that despite starting in 2007, I only really got time to work on it this year. Hahaha…
Still, it always bothered me that there was no 'epic' Pearlshipping stories - at least nothing I could enjoy, myself. So, I decided to try and write something even I could enjoy, and hopefully others would as well.
This isn't the first time I posted a pairing fic in here, but… hopefully it's the one time it'll go well. For the sake of future chapters, right now, I'm giving this an R rating, and while I don't plan on going much further beyond that, do keep in mind that I'm still going to try and keep to the animé's level... it's just that, as I expand on some scenes and plotlines, I'm not exactly going to make it 'lighter and softer' for the audience's sake. Expect stuff on the lines of the Spiritomb episode, except blunter, I guess. The other side... well, I want to write a Pearlshipping 'epic', like I said. So it has to be liked by the Pearlshippers. And since I imagine the majority would rather have regular action than that... I'm not pushing the envelope there.
That sounds like enough talk to me. And now… enjoy.
Princess Waltz – Dawn of Isis Princesses’ waltz. It is dedicated to only one prince. Prologue: Early Dawn
The sun was rising over the mountains, as another day started. While the various Pokémon that lived in the forests started with their common activities, inside a tent in a clearing, a different person had… some issues to work out, first.
“Aaaaaah!!!” Dawn cried out, as she looked at herself, in her mirror. Again, her hair was a wreck; no matter what she did, the past few days, she kept getting that horrible look… and Pachirisu just didn’t help! At this rate, the last batch of hair products she had bought in the last town wouldn’t last… and they were still too far away from the next town, it seemed! “Where am I going to be able to find more stuff now…”
“Dawn?” a call came from outside the tent, and the blue-haired girl squealed in surprise. “Are you okay?”
“Ah! I’m fine! Don’t come in!” she replied, trying to cover herself again. ‘Why does he have to keep coming whenever I squeal or anything? It’s not like Team Rocket attacks us in the morning or anything…’
“Okay, then! Brock is already preparing breakfast, so you had better hurry up!” the voice told her, before leaving. Dawn sighed, and got out of the sleeping bag, sitting down on it.
“How he can be so cheerful for not even showering regularly, I don’t understand…” she muttered, pulling her legs closer to her body. “At least I have Piplup to help me out, and none of my other Pokémon mind it, either… if only Pachirisu wasn’t so hyperactive, and didn’t shock me so much, I probably wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Still, the girl couldn’t stay there… especially not after a rumbling of her stomach, asking for food. “Alright… time to prepare myself, I guess,” she said, half-heartedly, before taking a Pokéball from the side of her sleeping bag. “Piplup, come out!”
As she pressed the Pokéball’s body, her first Pokémon was released, the small blue penguin yawning from his rest. “Piiiiiiiiiip-luuuuuup…” he said, pressing one flipper against his beak, in his feminine tone.
“Nice to see you, Piplup. Could you please…” the girl began, but Piplup didn’t even wait for her to finish, used to receiving the command every morning. Instead, he just opened his beak, lazily, and let loose with a blast of Bubblebeam, which splashed harmlessly against her hair.
“Piiiiiiiip…” he yawned again, after finishing, the small Pokémon still not quite rested yet. Dawn just smiled, however, as she felt her hair silken back again.
“Much better… now for the caring!” she called out, taking another Pokéball. “Buneary, your turn!”
Upon releasing her next Pokémon, this time it was her small lop rabbit, with the various fluff on her body. “Bunyeary?” she tilted her head to the side, before realizing what it was about. “Buneary…” she sighed, sadly.
“Oh, come on! All I need is for you to help me out here! It’s not like I want you to lose your fluff or anything!” Dawn snapped, before turning around. “Now just pull it down, okay?”
“Buny buneary,” her Pokémon replied, in a defeated tone, before taking her soft and wet hair in her paws. She then proceeded to rub it as well, while Dawn used a brush on her own hair to keep it clean and nice.
“Don’t worry, Buneary… I’ll clean your fluff soon! I just want to get this done before breakfast…” she explained, before turning her head a bit. “Who knows, maybe you can get yourself a boyfriend, too!”
Upon hearing that, images of a certain yellow Electric Pokémon came to the Buneary’s mind, and her eyes began shining with emotion. “Buneeeariiieeee…” she moaned, before pulling the hair much closer to her than usual.
“Ah! Buneary! Stop that!” Dawn squealed, in pain, as her head was pulled back by the strength of her Pokémon’s grip. However, Buneary was too much into her daydreams to listen to her, and the girl was starting to feel worse pains than before. “Cut it out! You’re hurting me!”
Right when she thought she was going to suffer the horror of having her hair ripped out by her Pokémon, however, a third Pokémon came out of his Pokéball, annoyed by all the noise. After a quick check of the situation, however, Buizel realized what was the problem, and acted accordingly.
“Bui!” he called out, before grabbing Buneary’s arms and forcing her to release Dawn, pressing them very hard. The Pokémon screamed in pain, as her hold released, and Dawn was flung forward, due to her lack of balance.
“Ah!” she cried out, as she fell facefirst on the ground. “Why are my mornings always a trouble…” she moaned, after pulling off it. Buizel released Buneary, and then approached Dawn, helping her up.
“Buiui! Bui bui, buizel bui?” he asked, with some concern in his voice. Dawn just sighed, sitting back down on the sleeping bag.
“I’m fine… I just am getting tired of having to go through so much trouble, just to be able to wash and prepare my hair properly…” she replied, quietly. Buizel frowned, before pulling her hair back again, using his paws as a mini-brush of sorts.
Dawn blinked, as she felt the Pokémon’s paws scrubbing against her hair, feeling like a massage of sorts. It seemed relaxing enough… so it wasn’t exactly her fault for leaning back and allowing the Pokémon more of a touch. While he still kept his glare, he seemed to be relaxing as well, at least as long as he kept doing that combing for her.
However, their relaxation ended too soon. “Dawn! Are you okay? It’s breakfast already!” Ash called from outside, again, and the girl stood up too suddenly, recovering the tension.
“I’m fine! I just have to finish with this stuff!” she replied, going to the side of the sleeping bag and picking up the three empty Pokéballs, aiming them at the Pokémon. “Sorry, guys… but I’m going to have to be alone for now, okay?” she asked, before recalling them. Red beams converged onto the three, absorbing their bodies and bringing them back into the spherical objects.
Afterwards, she put the Pokéballs down, and began to pull her pajama shirt off her body, starting with the edges close to her hips. Pulling up, she felt the cold breeze come into the tent, something surprising; even last night, the weather wasn’t this cold, and while she should have felt it before, she didn’t. ‘Why is it so cold?’ she wondered, nervously. However, this wasn’t enough to stop her from continuing, and so she pulled the whole thing upwards, to get it off her body.
The cool breeze touched her naked skin again, and Dawn shivered, not used to that feeling. It didn’t help that her chest, under this breeze, was itching somewhat… but unfortunately, until she was dressed, she wouldn't be able to deal with this She did her best to remove her shirt, but afterwards, she had to cover herself with her hands. What a situation…
‘I’ll bet Zoey doesn’t have to deal with these kinds of things… she probably is sleeping comfortably in a room in a Pokémon Center, while I have to ruin my beauty by sleeping in a sleeping bag. Lucky her…’ She grumbled wordlessly after this stray thought, finally putting her arms down, beginning to pull her pants off her. At least her legs were much warmer, thanks to the protection the pants gave, but she still shivered.
Eventually, she was almost naked, the only other garment she had being her underwear. Thankfully, she had put that one last night, meaning she wouldn’t have to change it yet… but well, she needed to dress herself again, so she had to find her outfit. Just looking around was enough, as she found it on the ground, a bit far from her, so she decided to move closer to it, keeping her legs in the sleeping bag.
“Almost there…” she muttered, extending a hand to pick the tip of the skirt, when she heard a shuffling from behind.
“Dawn, are you going to-” Ash called out, as he came inside. Dawn blinked, realizing the voice was coming from too close to be from the outside, and looked behind her.
“…” She looked at him, receiving a scared look in response, before snarling.
“Ash, you… PERVERT!!!” she screamed, before hiding back into the sleeping bag, hopping up and onto her feet. “GET OUT OF HERE! OUT! OUT! OUT OUT OUT!”
“But Dawn, I…” he tried to apologize, only for the approaching hopping Dawn to get her hand out of the sleeping bag and slap him in the face, repeatedly.
“OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT!” she screamed again, before doing one last slap, pushing Ash out of the tent. She then proceeded to close it again. “AND STAY OUT!”
While Ash was fallen on the ground, twitching, Brock watched him with a mix of concern and amusement. “Still haven’t learned your lesson, Ash?” he asked, as he mixed the soup they had some more. “You probably need to stop being so hasty… Dawn isn’t like Misty or May, you know.”
The boy got up, before walking towards Brock. “I… know she isn’t, Brock, but… I’d think she’d be at least capable of hurrying up on her dressing up.”
“You can’t hurry these kinds of things, Ash. Besides, most girls tend to prefer doing things at their own pace, and if one tells you to wait outside, then you should.” With his closed-looking eyes, he gave one glance at the tent. “I warned you, don’t forget.”
“Okay, okay, fine… I’ll apologize to her once she comes out,” Ash decided, before sitting by the table. “Though… she looked kinda weird, for the few seconds I saw her in there.”
“…what do you mean, Ash?” Brock asked, and the boy moved over the table, before whispering in his ear.
This resulted in Brock standing up in surprise, one leg in the air, considerably pale and stunned. “WHAAAAA-?!” he stammered, trembling. “You actually saw-”
Ash nodded, blushing. “I know, I know, I shouldn’t have, it was an accident, I swear!” he tried to explain himself, and the darker-skinned man sighed, recovering from the shock.
“Ash… you really need to learn how to deal with women,” he commented, before going back to treating the soup.
Ash, meanwhile, was approaching his sleeping bag. Curled up on the pillow edge, still tired, was his favorite Pokémon and best friend, Pikachu. “Hey, Pikachu,” he called out, once close enough, “it’s time for breakfast! Wake up, buddy!”
After a few moments, the yellow rodent Pokémon’s long ears twitched, as his body started to stretch somewhat. “Chaaaa~!” he squealed, before opening his eyes. “Pikapi…?”
“Hey, you okay?” Ash asked, noticing the weird look his Pokémon was giving him. “Come on, the day’s just started, and we still have a lot of places to go before we get to Hearthome City!”
“…Pika…” the Pokémon groaned, before rolling back, no longer facing him. Ash crossed his arms, with a frown.
“Well, isn’t this great…” he commented to himself, drawing Brock’s attention.
“What happened?” he asked, as he approached the two. The boy indicated his Pokémon, annoyed.
“It’s Pikachu! He doesn’t want to wake up yet!” he complained.
“Well, we woke up much earlier than usual today… it’s no wonder Pikachu might still be sleepy,” Brock said, before giving a friendly smile. “But hey, don’t worry! Just put his plate next to him and I’m sure he’ll be up and at it before you know it!”
“Well, if you say so…” Ash said, smiling back. As he went to pick up the Pokémon’s food, however, he felt one of his Pokéballs opening without warning. “Huh?”
“Eipa!” Aipom let out, as soon as she landed, before climbing on his back and giving him a big hug.
“Hah, so you already woke up, Aipom?” the boy asked her, and she nodded quickly. “Well, breakfast is almost ser-Hey!” To his never-ending surprise, Aipom had just grabbed his hat again, and was playing with it as she got back down. “Aipom, get back here!”
“Eipa-pa-pa-pa-pa!” she just laughed, swinging her handy tail back and forth, while she ran about with his hat on her head. Brock laughed a bit to himself, as he watched the scene.
“It seems like some things will never change…” he joked, before pulling the pot out of the fire. “Okay guys, better eat now before it gets cold!”
“Now where could those twerps be?”
Lost somewhere on the skies of Sinnoh, Team Rocket’s most infamous trio was riding their Meowth Balloon, simply following the wind’s currents. Jessie and James were both watching the ground, looking for their eternal targets. “I can’t believe they’ve given us the slip again! Ugh, years of work and we’re still at the bottom of the line!”
“That made even less sense than your usual metaphors…” James couldn’t help but comment, just as he pressed one hand against his head. “We’ve been looking for them night and day… I’m exhausted…”
“We all must be exhausted if Jessie’s stupid ramblings made sense ta us,” Meowth groaned, from his spot on the gondola, and she glared at the two of them.
“If I wasn’t so tired from looking around, I’d whack you two for the insults,” she grunted, before they slumped over a bit. “How many days has it been since we last saw them, anyway?”
“At least a week…” James answered, before adjusting the burner’s flame so they would land. “Let’s take a break. We can probably afford some rest for now…”
Jessie glared at him, again, but closed her eyes. “Oh, whatever… we always find them after a while. All we have to do is get to the next big city and wait for them over there, if nothing else…”
“Wobbuffet!” With a cry, Wobbuffet popped out of his Pokéball, saluting them and eliciting sighs. After finding a safe location, the trio prepared their own sleeping bags, muttering about the happy dreams they were sure to have. Wobbuffet, however, did not get inside one of them, and simply stood up like a tower next to them.
“Huh?” Jessie let out, once she noticed that. “Hey, Meowth, what’s with him?”
After a brief questioning, Meowth stared at him. “You want to… stand guard over us?” he asked, confused. “Why’s dat? We don’t need no stinking bodyguards!”
“What kind of argument is that?!” James asked the big blob. “You’re as tired as any of us! Go get some sleep!” Wobbuffet’s response was as peaceful as always, which didn’t make Meowth any less pacified.
“He says he don’t need sleep ‘cause he’s been inside the Pokéball for all this time, so he feels well-rested and all…” Meowth groaned. “But dat’s still stupid! You’re totally useless!”
“Oh, just let him…” Jessie said, dismissing them. As the group turned to face her, she glanced back. “We’re not having him take care of anything this time. What kind of trouble can he get himself into if he just stands still while we sleep?”
“Wobbuffet!” the Pokémon declared, happy, while James and Meowth turned to each other.
“Well, if you say so…” the young man admitted, before they all got inside their sleeping bags and began their so-desired nap.
Wobbuffet stood still in the center, keeping watch in every direction he could see, while his tail took care of the other side. Things remained like this for a while, enough that he would normally be asleep at this point, yet he was decided to prove that he could be good for something – even something as simple as keeping watch over his Master and friends.
So it was that he saw a big sheet of paper flying in his direction, but did nothing to stop it until it landed on his face. “W-wobbuffet!!” he let out, the paper making it sound muffled and not so natural, while waving his arms rapidly; after a few moments, he managed to pull it off, before staring at the words and images of the sheet of paper.
“WOBBUFFET!!!” he cried out, waving his arms again, before turning to Jessie. “Wobba! Wobba!” He tried to shake her awake for a bit, but that only resulted in her slamming her paper fan on his face while asleep, grumbling about the noise. Wobbuffet fell on his back, half-unconscious now, still holding on to the paper. “Wobbuffeeeeet…”
Not too far from there, at a small town, the wind started to pick up strength again. Several posters and sheets of paper that had been stuck to walls and lamp posts were dragged by them, flying along with the wind; some of these landed not too far away, but others remained airborne for longer, riding the cold and strong breeze that blew that morning.
Unaware of that, a figure was busy at the local inn, as the building was named, sitting in front of one of the videophones. “So, are you coming?” she asked, seeing her friend giggle to herself for a moment.
“That really sounds exciting! It makes me wish I was over there already!” her friend said, very cheerfully. “But I don’t know. I’ve been pretty busy with the other classes here, and you’re pretty far away… I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it before the exposition ends.”
“I see…” she sighed, closing her eyes. “It’s such a pity. I know this is one of your favorite subjects, too, and it’s been so long since you got a chance to see something like this…”
“Aww, don’t be like that!” Her friend was always so cheery, even if sometimes she could be a bit too silly. “It’s not the end of the world if I miss an exposition or two. Besides, I won’t be alone!”
“Several teachers from Hoenn are coming over to do some speeches about education and how to combine Pokémon training with technical knowledge,” her friend explained. “I could skip a few days to try and see this exposition with you, but I’m planning on staying for the last day at least. If I’m lucky, I’ll even get to test my luck against a Gym Leader, can you believe it?”
“Only you could get so excited about something like that,” she said, laughing to herself a bit as well. “I still need to get my Pokémon ready for the Hearthome Contest. If we want to do our best, then we’ll have to train harder than what we could do last time.”
“Hehehe… and you can’t get any distractions on your mind, right?” her friend joked, in that teasing tone of hers. “Too bad this means you have nobody who actually cares about cheering you on right next to you, though!” That brought a blush to her face, though she tried to cover it up at once.
“T-that’s not true!” she stammered, a bit too hastily; it wasn’t until she realized what she had said that she regretted it.
“Oh? Is there someone who does cheer you on, after all?” her friend asked, now truly trying to embarrass her. A big part of her wanted to end the call right then and there, but another part couldn’t help but leave at least one more hint for her friend to deal with.
“…yeah, there is someone who has grown very special to me…” she said, leaving it at that. “If you manage to find some time, just leave a message at this inn, okay?”
“Hey, wait u–” her friend tried to argue, but she was not fast enough; the connection ended right then and there. She just sighed for a moment, pushing her sunglasses higher.
“Now why did I say something like that…” she muttered, before closing her eyes. “Well, it’s no use worrying about it. If that person continues on cheering me on, then I’ll be happy… and maybe…”
Once off the videophone, she headed for the inn’s counter. “Well, I’m starved. I guess I should have some breakfast now, before I head out to train,” she said to herself, just as she took a seat. However, as she sat down, she took one glance at the small pamphlets stacked up neatly on a small box, right at the entrance, and the image in the center caught her eye. “Wait a second, that’s–”
Dawn still glared at Ash whenever she looked at him, throughout breakfast. “I’m still not forgiving you for what you did,” she said proudly, and the boy smiled weakly.
“I already said I was sorry…” he apologized, but she didn’t seem to listen.
“Ash really didn’t mean to do this, you know…” Brock said, trying to appease her. “You shouldn’t be so mad at him for making a mistake.”
“You’re not the one who walked in on me while I was dressing up!” Dawn snapped, in a huff. A bit far away, Croagunk dropped the pellet he had been staring at, giving a glance to the humans. “Ash, you need to stop poking your head inside my tent for every little thing!”
“Well, if you would stop using a tent to begin with and start sleeping in the open like we do then we wouldn’t be having this problem either!” the boy snapped back, annoyed now. “Between that and your hair, we’re taking too long to go from place to place! I bet we would be at Hearthome by now if we didn’t have to take ten minutes just setting up your tent and hair, and then we have to bring them down again!”
“Don’t you bring my hair into this! If you had any idea of how hard it is to take care of it–”
“It can’t be so hard if you can find the time for it every day! And then some days you even spend more time later just to make it look better!”
The argument heated up quickly, despite Brock trying to get them to quiet down, to the point where both of them were standing up again and yelling at each other. He wasn’t the only one who was bothered by it, however.
“Pikapi!” Pikachu cried out, climbing onto the table and practically grabbing onto Ash’s arm; with a cry, Piplup did the same to Dawn, at the same time. Both trainers turned to yell at them, but they fell silent as soon as they looked at them.
Both Pokémon were angry, and glaring at them as well.
“P-Pikachu?” Ash let out, surprised. “What’s wrong, buddy?”
“Piplup, what are you…” Dawn tried to say, but the two Pokémon started to yell back at them, the words meaningless due to the tone.
“Take a look around, guys,” Brock told them, and as they looked up, Ash and Dawn saw that all of their Pokémon were staring at them, instead of looking at their food, and they seemed to disapprove of it as much as Pikachu and Piplup were. “All your arguing is going to bother our Pokémon even more. And besides… Ash already apologized several times for what he did. Can’t you at least accept them and let it rest already, Dawn?”
She looked at everyone one more time, before sighing. “Fine. I’ll drop it, but only because I don’t want our Pokémon to be unhappy either,” Dawn agreed, before finally getting to eat her own breakfast.
Brock smiled at Pikachu and Piplup, who just smiled back, a bit embarrassed. “Thanks for the help, guys.”
In the back, Croagunk let out a keh, before going back to eating his food. Buizel glared at him for that, and Sudowoodo mimed him glaring at Croagunk, both of them eating with the exact same motions and timing. Happiny stared at them, eyes widening, before she tried to do it as well.
Not too long after that, they set off again, Pokémon recalled other than Pikachu and Piplup, who were riding their trainers’ shoulders as usual. Both of them, however, seemed less energetic than usual, as Pikachu let out a very loud yawn.
“Wow, you’re still tired, buddy?” Ash asked, giving him a concerned look. “I don’t get it, Brock. Pikachu hasn’t been doing his best in a good while now.”
“You know, now that I think about it…” Dawn commented, before taking Piplup and holding him for a bit. The blue penguin Pokémon was struggling, but soon yawned as well, licking his lips for a bit. “Piplup also seems to be getting tired more often than usual. And I think our other Pokémon might be feeling the same, too… Buneary was still a bit asleep when I took her out of the Pokéball.”
“Hmm…” Brock muttered, before taking Ash’s Pokémon and examining it. “How long has it been since this started, you think?”
The boy thought for a bit. “It can’t be more than a week ago… Pikachu was on a good roll last week. It’s hard to believe he would be this tired so soon.” Brock was silent for a few moments, frowning.
“He doesn’t seem to be ill, just exhausted… and yet, we’ve spent a good amount of time resting. Unless…” he reasoned, and the others turned to look at him.
“What do you mean?”
“It might be just a theory, but then again, something pretty unusual happened last week… something that might have to do with this.” Brock gave Pikachu back to Ash, before taking out a book from his backpack. “This guide to Pokémon biology isn’t the most standard one, but it has some interesting theories that have been debated recently.”
“So is that book going to tell us what’s wrong with our Pokémon?” Ash asked, but his friend didn’t nod, as he started to look over the several entries.
“Alright, here it is!” he declared, once he found what he was looking for. “‘Pressure: a mysterious and uncommon Ability, theorized to belong only to the so-called Legendary Pokémon, although there have been reports of other Pokémon with this Ability. The name derives from the fact that these Pokémon seem to be impossible to defeat, according to the many myths and legends we have studied, as if it took much more effort to simply move when encountering them than normal, much less attack them. Effects on humans and Pokémon are not fully known; while humans who have encountered Legendary Pokémon have described the effect as feeling sluggish and harder to breathe, reports indicate that Pokémon feel drained and exhausted, as if the Legendary Pokémon were draining their very power, and took a long time to recover. As no Legendary Pokémon has ever been truly studied, however, so much appears to be mere rumor or hearsay’.” Brock looked up from the book, after that; his friends looked stunned at what they heard, and even Pikachu and Piplup weren’t taking this well. “Remember what happened last week, at Alamos Town?”
“Dialga and Palkia fighting, and Darkrai…” Dawn let out, as the memories came back. “Do you think that our Pokémon were affected by their Pressure Ability?”
“It’s possible that this has happened. I don’t know how much energy Darkrai is supposed to have, but it seemed to grow exhausted very fast… did it seem like that to you two?”
“Yeah, he did,” Ash admitted, frowning. “It wasn’t too easy to see, but considering those two were attacking each other as much as it… I wouldn’t doubt it.”
“But why would our Pokémon be so tired, if they barely fought against them?” Dawn asked Brock.
“Dialga and Palkia’s battle disrupted the barrier between our world and theirs and created some kind of field that kept anyone from entering or leaving Alamos Town,” he reasoned. “And considering both of them would be exerting their Pressure at the same time… maybe that field had the same effect, and everyone in Alamos Town would be feeling that pressure. But the closest one got to the source of it – that is, Dialga, Palkia, and maybe Darkrai – the worse they would feel, because they would be experiencing too much of it.” He looked at the two of them. “The Alamos Contest was delayed because they thought it was too soon to have one after the chaos the day before. But maybe it was also because of how nobody was feeling too well. You two slept like a rock that night, after all.”
Both Ash and Dawn blushed, as they realized that. “W-well…” Dawn began, but Ash cut her off.
“But why are our Pokémon so exhausted, then?” he asked, surprised. “Didn’t the Pokémon Center-”
“Hundreds of people left their Pokémon there… Nurse Joy couldn’t take care of them all,” Brock explained, interrupting him. “I used some medical supplies to heal our Pokémon before and after the Contest, but I didn’t even think about the Pressure… unless we go to another Pokémon Center soon, our Pokémon won’t recover completely from the Pressure.”
Both Pikachu and Piplup seemed down, as they heard that, but Ash smirked. “Well, we can look at it another way, can’t we?” he asked, before petting his Pokémon. “Pikachu and Piplup haven’t really tired themselves since then, whether in Pokémon battles or Contests. All we need to do is go to the next Pokémon Center and everything will be solved!”
“Piiika!” Pikachu let out, feeling a warmth from Ash’s confidence. Dawn hugged Piplup a bit tighter, now.
“He’s right!” she added, her Pokémon looking at her. “We’ve gone pretty far in this last week, and we haven’t even met Team Rocket in a while! There’s no need to worry!”
Piplup’s eyes were shining with emotion. “Piiip!” he declared, before hugging her back. Brock couldn’t help but smile, then.
“Alright, I guess that’s settled…” he said, as they began to walk. “You two are good at seeing the bright side of things.” As they smiled, he took out his Sinnoh guidebook. “There’s a town not too far from the road to Hearthome where we can find a Pokémon Center. We should head there at once if we want to heal our Pokémon from the Pressure.”
“If you say so, Brock, then that’s where we’ll go!” Ash declared, confidently.
About an hour of walking later, the group had finally arrived at the intersection separating the main road to Hearthome from their current destination. They weren’t the only ones there, however; a red-haired girl was looking at her map, tapping her chin with some concern. “Hmm… now this isn’t right,” she commented, looking at it. “Can I really get to Hearthome from here…?”
“Look, everyone!” Dawn realized, remembering the young beauty; she had been at Alamos Town along with them during the dimensional rip, and later became the winner of the local Contest. “It’s–”
“Allegra!!!” Brock cried out, running towards her at once, hearts in his eyes. She took one second to look back, blinking as she saw him coming towards her so fast, and giving him a chance to look at her properly. The girl’s red hair curled up in both a hive and a pair of bangs sticking from the sides. Between the red button vest and white, long-sleeved shirt she wore, her small bust was emphasized just enough to draw attention. Despite the shirt being open on the belly and hips section, her skirt started just high enough that nothing could be seen, and lowered just enough to create a great absolute field between it and her red thigh-highs, which did little to hide her long and juicy legs all the way down to her low boots.
“Huh, Brock?” she let out, before looking past him. “And Ash and Dawn, too!”
“Oh, how twisted must the roads of love be, that we have met once more! And so soon after our last encounter, as well!” Brock declared, taking her hand and falling to one knee, still in love-love mode. “It must have been written in our stars that we would be togeth–”
A nasty slamming noise resounded in the air, as Brock suddenly felt a sharp pain on his lower spine along with three thick fingers, glowing slightly purple. Croagunk croaked as his trainer let go of Allegra, pained. “–or maybe the stars have terrible handwriting…” he gagged, trying to breathe properly, while the frog-like Pokémon dragged him away from her. Ash and Dawn came closer, laughing a bit awkwardly at the scene.
“Sorry about that…” Ash said, looking at Allegra. “How have things been, Allegra?”
“Well, not much could have happened, now could it?” she asked, smiling back. “After you two saved everyone last week, even if I had won a bunch of Contests in one week I doubt it would be as awesome as that.”
“Oh, don’t say that!” Dawn replied, both of them laughing in embarrassment. “We’re just glad everything’s okay now. Though… well, I guess we’re not okay, ourselves…”
That caught her attention. “Wait, really? Run that through me again.”
“We’re headed over to Hearthome City for the next Contest and my next Gym Battle, but our Pokémon aren’t doing too well right now,” Ash explained, “so we’re taking a detour through this road because that’s where the nearest Pokémon Center is.”
“What’s wrong with them?”
“They’ve been tired all week,” Dawn added, showing her how tired Piplup looked, and one look at Pikachu would show the same. In fact, the two kids had taken to carrying them on their arms, rather than their shoulders or head as they used to. “Brock says it might be related to Dialga and Palkia’s fighting back at Alamos Town, so we need to hurry before it gets any worse.”
“I see… so this is why Infernape hasn’t been doing so fine these days,” Allegra said, more to herself than to them, before nodding. “Alright, thanks for the answer, guys. Since we’re taking the same road, what do you say we take it together?”
“Eh?!” the three of them let out, Brock being the loudest and practically shoving Ash and Dawn away, all smiles as he seemed to have recovered already.
“Well, let me see. We’re all going to Hearthome City anyway. Our Pokémon aren’t as fit as we’d like. And there’s a Pokémon Center in the way, even if this means we’ll take a bit longer.” Allegra crossed her arms. “Way I see it, either we can go together as a team, or you guys just follow me anyway. Why make it so complicated?”
They looked at each other. “Well, when you put it like that…” Ash couldn’t help but admit, and they all smiled. “Alright, Allegra. Let’s have a fun trip together!”
“I sure hope it’ll be fun!”
“So, what’s this all about?” Jessie asked, after they had woken up. Wobbuffet hadn’t moved since she had slammed him earlier, but he had kept on being a watch, or so Meowth claimed he had said. From his tone, it had been obvious he didn’t believe it one whit after seeing the Pokémon on the ground, knocked out like that. “Why are you holding that thing so much?”
“Wobba, wobba, wobbuffet!” the Pokémon declared, waving his arms slowly, keeping the paper from ripping.
“Give me that!” she grumbled, taking the sheet of paper and giving it a one-over. “It’s some kind of advertisement about dumb castle. Who cares about it?”
“Wobba wobbuffet!!!” Meowth blinked as he heard that.
“What, you’re sayin’ to look at da picture?” he repeated, and so he, Jessie and James took a better look at it. Their jaws dropped.
“IT’S THE TWERPETTE!!!” they yelled in unison, nearly dropping it. Wobbuffet saluted at once.
“Wait a minute…” James realized, as his eyes went below the picture. “It says here that this is some ‘Princess Salvia’. Is this her real name?”
“Who cares? The twerpette is on this piece of paper! What does it even say?” Jessie demanded, as he had taken it from her.
“It says here that some kind of castle has just been refurbished and repaired for ‘an exposition on medieval-era artwork, objects, and other such things, which will be taking place in the neighborhood of Hearthome City. Visitors are invited to enjoy traditional foods and games during the exposition, and there will even be a treasure hunt, where you may be the lucky boy or girl to find that which has been lost in this castle for centuries’!” As he read on, their excitement grew, as the thought of finding lost treasure appealed to their sense of greed – and more.
“Hey, hey, this sounds great!” Jessie said, her smile fading for a bit. “But what does this have to do with the twerpette?”
“Well… it seems that Princess Salvia, heir to the throne of the blah blah blah, will be traveling to the exposition, so she’ll give a speech among many others…” James frowned, as he kept on reading more of the pamphlet. ‘The twerpette, a princess? Now that’s ridiculous! She doesn’t even act that much more refined compared to the other twerps! I mean, just look at that skirt, it doesn’t even hide anything! And her fashion sense is so horrible even Jessie could give her some tips nowadays!’ he thought, figuring she hadn’t created the dresses she wore, although he struggled not to think too hard about her cheerleader outfit.
“So, not only we get to find some treasure, but we even get a chance to kidnap a princess?” Jessie summarized, grinning evilly. “Huhuhu, just imagine the type of ransom we would be able to get from this!”
“It certainly beats havin’ to feed on tin cans, this I’m sure!” Meowth declared, while James remained less confident. “We had better find da twoips and capture dem before the expo starts!”
“Look, guys, I don’t know…” he said, hesitant. “I mean, sure, we kidnap things all the time, but holding it for ransom? Isn’t that kind of, you know… weird?” They stared at him. “Even for our standards, I mean!”
“Well, let’s see. We are on our way to encounter a princess. Either we’re the good guys and so she gets to marry one of us, or we’re the bad guys and we get to kidnap her for ransom,” Jessie considered, making him stare at her. “Do you think we are good guys?”
“And what does dat make us?” Meowth asked.
“And what do the bad guys do?” they asked together.
“Kidnap princesses for ransom?”
“EXACTLY!” With a couple of slaps on the back, Team Rocket ran back to their balloon, not noticing how deflated it looked compared to usual. “Now, let’s go after those twerps!”
“Yeah, let’s–” James began, turning on the burner, only to stare at the small flame that came out. “–stay in place?”
They stared at the flame for a bit, and then looked at the ground they were barely floating over, before checking the rest of the burner. “We’re out of fuel? Are you serious?!” Jessie let out. “But how?!”
“We spent the last week airborne as we kept on looking for the twoips! We didn’t take a break until just now!” Meowth realized, before they looked down. “An’ all our fuel canisters are out too!”
“So… you’re saying that we don’t have enough fuel to go after the twerps?” With that realization, the balloon deflated even more, until it had no more lift of its own. “Now what are we going to do?!”
James took his own Sinnoh pocket guide. “Well… if I compare the landscape from the sky to this map, there’s a town not too far from here. We can go there to buy some more–”
“With what money?” Jessie asked, unhappy. “We spent all of it on those newscaster costumes and devices, as well as our latest Pokémon-catching machine! How are we supposed to pay for that?”
James, Meowth, and Wobbuffet stared at each other. “Menial labor?” they suggested, trying to be helpful.
The redhead diva just sighed, as the balloon deflated fully. “Oh, I’m surrounded by idiots…”
Princess Waltz – Dawn of Isis Princesses’ waltz. It is dedicated to only one prince. Chapter One: Top-Down Training! 
The doors to the Pokémon Center opened, drawing the attention of the local Nurse Joy, who had been busy setting up the shelves that afternoon. “Oh, hello there!” she greeted the newcomers, with a smile. “How may I help you?”
“Ahhhh!!!” Brock immediately declared, running towards her and taking both hands in a clasp. “You may help me through some close examination of my heart, to see how injured your presence has left it…”
Allegra stared at the scene, her jaw hanging a bit, before she turned back to the twerps. “What’s going on?” she let out, in complete disbelief. “Didn’t Brock do that to me only a few hours ago?”
“Well, Brock is prone to quite a few silly things…” Ash answered, laughing it off. “He’s just silly like that.”
“More like a jerk, if you ask me…” the redhead complained, glaring at it for a moment. Of course, she was just as unprepared at Croagunk’s sudden appearance and his Poison Stab upon Brock, silencing him at once. “And shouldn’t he stop it? Those attacks can’t be healthy for him…”
“No need to worry!” Dawn replied, with a smile. “Brock may be in pain, but he’s shown us he can take it quite well!”
Allegra stared at them for a few seconds, before looking at Brock, who was being dragged closer to them again.
‘…did I join a bunch of idiots?’ she wondered, before shaking her head. ‘I can’t believe the world was saved last week by these kids… I can’t let this happen again. If they could do it, then why can’t I?’
While Brock recovered from his paralysis, Ash and Dawn walked closer to the nurse. “Sorry about that… Brock’s kind of a weird guy,” Ash said, apologetically. “We need you to heal our Pokémon. They aren’t doing very well, right now…”
“They aren’t?” the pink-haired nurse asked, before Pikachu and Piplup were placed on the counter. She examined them carefully, although rather quickly as well. “They don’t seem to be too injured… what happened?”
“They’ve been tired the whole week,” Brock explained, having finally recovered. “We think it might be some kind of illness or something…” That surprised the others, but Brock pressed his hands on the counter. “Please, examine them very carefully and see what you can do!” he pleaded, surprising everyone. The nurse took Pikachu in her arms, feeling his warmth for a few seconds, before smiling in response.
“Alright. Even if it doesn’t seem to be serious, I’ll be very careful with them,” she said, and her Chansey brought a tray along. “Please put your Pokémon here.”
The quartet put their Pokéballs on the tray, piling them up very neatly, and they were taken away to the examination room. Even Croagunk had left willingly, to Brock’s relief, and they headed to the main lobby of the Center.
“Why didn’t you tell the truth?” Allegra was frowning as they sat, her eyes on Brock. “Our Pokémon are in danger, aren’t they? Then shouldn’t we have told the truth?”
“It’s not that simple, Allegra,” he replied, a bit uncomfortable. Even Ash and Dawn were staring at him after that. “We managed to solve that problem with Darkrai and the others, right? Bringing it up again won’t do us much good.”
“But you said it yourself, the Pressure Ability–”
“–is still just a theory, no matter how confident I am on it,” he confessed, hands supporting his head. “My point is… this isn’t the first time Ash and I have met Legendaries before.” Now that caught the attention of the girls. “It’s too complicated, and I’m not sure how we could tell those stories…”
“Professor Oak told me something about that a while back,” Ash added, looking at his hands. “If more people knew the truth about Lugia, or Mew, or Groudon and Kyogre… then there wouldn’t be peace. They would go after those Pokémon and try to catch them and…” he sighed. “It’s never nice.”
“Wait… wait, wait, hold up,” Dawn let out, as she sat next to him. “You… you met more Legendaries before?” Ash nodded. “And why didn’t you tell me? We’re friends, aren’t we?”
“W-well…” the boy stammered, as she moved closer to him and looked offended. “We didn’t say anything because we never wanted you to worry–”
“Worry about what? My life?” Dawn asked, before shaking her head. “Was every time as bad as that? Did… did every time you met a Legendary Pokémon before, some disaster happened where you were involved? And did you nearly–”
Suddenly Ash winced; those words triggered… something in his mind. A sharp pain, as he felt numb, as if… as if he had…
…had he ever felt like that before? That… wasn’t how things had gone when he had entered the Tree of Life, so… why did he suddenly remember that?
“Ash! Are you okay?!” Dawn suddenly said, nervous. He opened his eyes and nodded.
“Y-yeah. Just a bit distracted, is all,” he said, before looking down again. “Look, Dawn… I’ve traveled through so many regions before, and I’ve seen and done a lot of things. I couldn’t tell you everything that happened even if I tried.” To her surprise, he smiled. “And right now, I’m more worried about Pikachu’s state than about what we’ve done before. So… can you at least let it go, for now?”
Dawn stared at him for a moment, but reclined back against her seat. “Oh, whatever. As long as you spill the beans before we meet another Legendary Pokémon that tries to hurt you, then I’ll let it go for now.” Ash just laughed awkwardly, as he heard that.
“You mean ‘us’, right, Dawn?” Brock asked, and she turned to look at him, before laughing weakly as well.
‘…well, at least this explains why I’ve never heard of ‘em before,’ Allegra thought, as she watched them. ‘But to think, these kids met Legendary Pokémon before… they’re something else, alright.’
“Well, now that that’s solved… maybe we could watch some TV while we wait for some news?” Ash suggested, taking the remote. “Oh, cool! They’re doing another special on the Sinnoh Elite Four!”
And as his eyes glued themselves to the screen, Allegra felt a sweatdrop forming on her forehead. ‘…and here I thought Ash was their leader for a reason…’
Getting a job in that town was easier than they had expected, if James thought about it. They had considered stealing the burner fluid, but none of their Pokémon felt energetic enough to do it, even after taking another nap. And considering how dangerous Sinnoh had turned out to be, between all those weird Pokémon, the Hunters, and even Dialga and Palkia, they were really not in the mood to deal with such things right now.
So there the great Team Rocket was, currently selling ice cream on the park to any passersby, dressed just like any good clerk should. “Whoo-hoo… we’re raking in the dough!” Jessie said, smiling at last, as she counted the notes. “With this much money, we’re bound to get our balloon at full power soon enough!”
“My sweet tooth is almost melting from how deliciously sweet our earnings have been!” Meowth moaned, and James couldn’t help but join in despite his own issues about the situation.
“And not to mention that we’re only working for today’s stock so we should be able to eat all that’s left after the day’s over!” he added, pressing his hands together. Right above him, his Mime Jr. mimed his motions, crying out in the same pleasure.
“Eh, I could care less about eating this stuff if we weren’t starved!” Jessie replied, giving them a look. “This doesn’t taste nearly as good as the ice delights of my childhood!”
As she looked away, the two males gave each other a look. “And there she goes again, about the ice…” James muttered, as quietly as he could.
“Sometimes I wonder if she didn’t freeze her brain when she was a kid…” Meowth added, but not quietly enough, as Jessie turned her gaze towards them.
“Did you say something?” she asked, and they quickly nodded in the negative. “Good! Now, if you two wouldn’t mind–”
“Excuse me,” a voice interrupted, coming from the front of the stand, “are you still selling ice cream?”
“Of course!” they said in unison, before Jessie took the lead. “We’re selling several delicious and delightful flavors, that are bound to satisfy even the roughest of tongues!”
“Chips and mint, strawberry and cream, and the greatest chocolate you’ll ever eat!” Meowth added. “All ya gotta do is believe in me!”
“And all of this and more, for the cheapest price in the market! You won’t find something like this anywhere else, I bet!” James finished, and the trio smiled together, before finally taking a look at their client.
She was a young woman, not much older than them, with blonde hair that drooped down to one of her eyes, wearing only black clothes that were much thicker and bigger than what they were used to seeing on the people from Sinnoh. She wasn’t looking at them, but instead, at the many flavors of ice cream they had on their stand, tapping one finger cautiously. Behind her was a younger pale guy with thick glasses and dressed somewhat like her, in that it was thick and covered much of his body, but he even had a bandanna on his head covering most of his hair – the only difference was that his clothing was blue rather than black.
“Hmm… now what should I pick…” she muttered, thoughtful. The guy behind her looked resigned, for some reason.
“I guess you’re hungry again, aren’t you…” he said, before shaking his head. “Do you mind if I go ahead?”
“Oh?” the woman asked, before glancing at him. “Oh, of course you can. We’ll be busy over at this town for a while, after all.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you once you’re done,” the guy said, before he began dragging some heavy luggage along with him. Jessie, James and Meowth watched him for a bit, before looking back at the woman.
“So, what will you choose?” Jessie asked, as they put on their best customer eyes. The woman in black adjusted her thick hair clips for a bit, before she bent over just enough that anyone could see her cleavage, while she checked the flavors again.
“Hmm…” she uttered, and James took one look at the square’s big clock. It wouldn’t take her too long to select a flavor, right?
Half an hour later, she was still there, indecisive as ever. “Hmm…”
“Umm…” Jessie asked, the three of them smiling nervously at her, eyes closed. “Will you… pick one already?”
“But every flavor looks so delicious, I can’t pick just one of them…” the woman explained, and Meowth tried not to groan.
“So take every flavor, already, and the problem’s solved!”
“But I couldn’t eat every flavor in one go…” James wanted to yell at the woman for this kind of circular logic. Yes, she had every right to take her time and all, but this was the fifth or sixth time she had said something like that, and he was growing sick of it – and by the looks on their faces, his friends also felt the same.
Before any of them could execute some sudden revenge fantasies, however, she suddenly smiled. “Alright, I’ve decided!” the woman in black said, raising one finger. “I want mint and strawberry and cream!”
The trio remained nice until she left, three-scooped-ice cream cone in hand. “You know, she could have paid before she took the product,” Meowth grumbled. “She’s one serious weirdo if you ask me.”
“Well, who cares about her?” Jessie said, giving their notes another look-over. “We’ve got more than enough to buy our supplies, right? So let’s blow this popsicle stand and go!”
“But we still have a few more hours of work before our job’s done!” James let out, at that. “We should probably wait until the time’s up before we leave!”
“Oh yeah?” she asked him, in her diva-like manner. “And why should we?” Meowth also glared at him, obviously not liking this idea.
“Um… because… we can make more money that way?”
It took them a couple of seconds to realize what he meant. “Of course! If we made this much money in just these few hours, then we can double our profits if we work for the same amount of time!” Meowth summarized, making Jessie grin.
“Okay, that settles that!” she said, with a big smile. “Let’s work even harder and make even more money!” As the trio danced a bit, Wobbuffet popped out to salute them.
The woman in black made her way to the upper side of town, climbing a long stone stairway built on the rock itself, where the guy in blue had already dragged the luggage to and was currently sitting by it. “So, is it tasty?” he asked her, after greeting each other.
“Mm-hm,” was all she said, as she approached the ruins. What had once been an ancient building, with its tall pillars and stone flooring, now looked fairly aged thanks to all the cracks and broken parts to it, and yet it stood despite that; no longer a place to live in, maybe, but certainly a place that had outlasted its original civilization, unlike many others. She stopped by the stone sign on the front, brushing the carvings of Dialga and Palkia carefully.
“…yeah,” he just said, shaking his head. “When it comes to ruins, you certainly–”
“–so cool!” a voice came from the side, and he glanced over there. Several kids were surrounding them, though they kept their distance, and were mostly whispering to each other. The guy took a few moments, before smiling to himself.
“Well, seems like you’ve been found out, Cynthia.”
Ash and the others stopped a bit closer to them compared to the others, once they arrived. “It’s really her…” Ash realized, first of all. “It’s the Champion!”
“Just like what we just saw on TV!” Dawn added, while Brock seemed to struggle with himself. “So she really did come to this town after all!”
“She’s even more beautiful in real life…” Brock let out, before letting out what seemed to be squealing. “Oh, I’m in love!”
“Why do you fall in love like that…?” While Dawn facepalmed from hearing that, Allegra laughed quietly.
“Well, if he didn’t keep falling in love, he would be a much nicer type, right?” she teased, and Brock paled from hearing that. “Now, are we going to talk to her or not?”
“Well–” Ash was about to say, only to notice a purple-haired boy walking forward, as serious as ever. “Paul!” The purple-haired boy turned to face him. “Haven’t seen you since the Oreburgh Gym, have we?”
Paul didn’t answer him. “You finally did something intelligent for once?” he simply asked, to their surprise. “I see you don’t have that Pikachu of yours anymore. So you must have let go of it, right?”
“What?” Ash let out, surprised. “Why would you say something like that!”
“You’re right.” Paul turned away, eyes closed. “You’re too pathetic with the way you keep yapping about friends and whatever. You probably just recalled it into the Pokéball instead of letting it walk around like a spoiled brat, didn’t you?”
“What makes you say something like that?!” Dawn demanded, getting closer. “You don’t even know what we’ve been doing and you’re already coming to such mean conclusions!”
“And now you know how it feels when he does something like that to me,” he retorted, before looking at her. “Whoever you are.”
Dawn’s rage suddenly ignited like a volcano, as she grinded her teeth and nearly squeezed his neck with her bare hands. “You know who I am and you can’t have forgotten it! I already told you that my name is Dawn!”
“Whatever.” Paul simply walked away, while Dawn had to be held back by Ash and Brock as she tried to swing her arms and legs at him repeatedly, almost yelling out G-rated obscenities about him and his person. Allegra glared at him, arms crossed.
“He certainly thinks quite highly about himself, doesn’t he?” she asked, as Dawn started to cool down after the first thirty seconds of complaining.
“He’s always a rude jerk!” she said, even as they watched him approach the woman in black.
“You’re Cynthia, right?” Paul asked, once he was close enough, and she turned around. “The Champion of the Sinnoh Region.”
“I am Paul, from Veilstone City. I would like to ask you to have a Pokémon battle with me.” Everyone gasped at that, especially his tone; while he was respectful enough, it was less a request and more a demand in some ways. Several of the kids standing by started to talk among each other, wondering who he was or why he was saying such things.
The guy in blue stood up. “I’m afraid this isn’t likely to happen,” he said, walking between them. “Cynthia normally takes her challenges at the Champion Stadium over at Victoria Cape. I’m not sure if she would accept a challenge coming like this–”
“Did anyone ask you?” Paul cut him off, but it surprisingly just made him smile. “What’s so funny?”
“You don’t even know who I am, and you just want to go and battle the Champion like it’s that simple… it’s laughable on its own, if you ask me.” That pissed off Paul, given the look on his face, but Cynthia stepped forward.
“Paul, is it?” she repeated, just to be sure. “It’s been a long while since I was last challenged. You’re taking part in the Sinnoh League, aren’t you?” He admitted that, and she walked down the stairs, getting off the ruins. “So you must be training for the tournament as well.
“Shall we do battle?” As soon as she said that, everyone gasped again, and the guy in blue turned to look at her.
“Are you sure, Cynthia?” he asked her, getting closer. “You didn’t come here simply because of the chance to battle someone, after all–”
“Albert,” she cut him off, politely, “I know what I’m doing. This trainer happens to interest me, through his boldness and courage… so I’m willing to give him a chance.”
He stared at her for a few seconds, before shrugging. “Well, as you wish…” he said, before turning back to Paul. “Good luck, kid.”
“I don’t need your wishes for good luck.” Paul replied, but Albert just smiled back.
“No, you do. Every bit of luck matters for something like this.”
Allegra was still staring at the scene, as it was going on. “So, where do you know this jerk?” she asked the other kids.
“We met him shortly after Ash and I arrived at Sinnoh,” Brock explained to her. “Like Ash, he’s a Pokémon trainer who’s seeking Badges to take part in the Sinnoh League. He’s skilled, but…”
“He’s a jerk!” Dawn added, still glaring at him. “Poor Chimchar does his best, but because he’s playful Paul thinks he’s a spoiled brat! And he keeps releasing Pokémon just because they’re not good enough for him!”
“Wait, what?” That surprised Allegra. “But why wouldn’t they be?”
“All he cares about is the power they have now, their typing and their Abilities. And if they can’t prove themselves worthy, he just gets rid of them!” Ash explained, grumbling. “He’s good, but I can’t accept the way he trains Pokémon…”
The redhead nodded to herself, before looking at Paul. ‘So, why does he want to challenge a Champion so soon?’
At around this time, the ice cream cart that doubled as a stand finally climbed over the stairs, dragged by James. “So this is where everyone’s gotten to…” he said, as the trio took one look around. “No wonder business was so slow now.”
“Hey, isn’t that the twerps over there?” Jessie realized, as they looked over the kids’ shoulders; indeed, they could see all four of them, close together.
“Wait, that’s not right. When did they get a fourth twoipette?” Meowth realized, soon enough. “Ain’t this kind of early for this season?”
“The Pikachu twerp has too many hanger-ons for us to keep up with at this point,” James muttered, thinking about it a bit. “How many has it been at this point, twelve? Thirteen?”
“Well, however many there are, we…” Jessie began, only to gasp audibly. “Eh?! Where’s his Pikachu?!”
“What?!” James and Meowth both let out, shocked as well once they realized what she had said. Indeed, Pikachu was not on Ash’s shoulders that day, or anywhere else in specific.
“What are we going to do? If the Pikachu isn’t around, then there’s no way for us to catch Pikachu! And if we can’t catch Pikachu then–” James’ rant was interrupted as he felt a conk on the head, courtesy of Jessie. “OW! What was that for?!”
“Look, even if we wanted to grab the twerps’ Pokémon, we can’t just yet, wasn’t that your point?!” she demanded, unhappy that she had to be the reasonable one this time. “So let’s just focus on selling ice cream to these brats and get this over with!”
Paul and Cynthia were standing at the official distance between trainers for battles. “This will be a six-on-six battle,” Paul decided, and the Champion agreed.
“Alright. I’ll be the referee of this match, under the normal rules of the Pokémon League,” Albert said, keeping his arms ready. “Each trainer will use only one Pokémon at a time. Both trainers are allowed to substitute their Pokémon as necessary.”
“Wait, both trainers?” Dawn realized, after a moment. “But isn’t Paul challenging the Champion? Shouldn’t she use only one Pokémon at a time?”
“This isn’t an official match inside the stadium, Dawn,” Brock explained. “These rules allow for Cynthia to use her Pokémon to their best, even if it may seem like she can show weakness like this.”
“I see…” she said, before they looked around; the gossip had grown louder and louder, and to a degree, even more annoying. Allegra frowned.
“Is it me, or we’re kinda crowded in these parts?” she asked, tapping her fingers against her arms. “There’s lots of people here…”
‘And not one of them rooting for Paul,’ Ash realized, as he heard everyone’s comments about how he had to be crazy to be doing something like this. That certainly wasn’t too fair for the purple-haired boy, even if he didn’t seem to notice it.
“Then let us begin…” Cynthia said, taking out her Pokéball. “Take to the skies, Garchomp!”
The same Pokémon she had used on the battle the group had seen appeared, landing on the ground with a threatening look, even as its arms closed into a naturally defensive stance. The hammerhead-like Pokémon roared, while Ash took out his Pokédex to analyze it.
“Chimchar, stand by for battle!” Paul chose, and his small fire chimp appeared in a battle stance as well, his flames fairly hot despite his lack of confidence. Cynthia seemed as surprised as everyone other than Ash and his friends, but it was Allegra who spoke first.
“Wait, he’s using a Chimchar against the Champion?” she asked loudly, not looking at Ash and the others. “Doesn’t that mean he’s a novice trainer?”
“Well, it’s true that we haven’t seen all of Paul’s Pokémon, but he does seem to only have young Pokémon, no matter how strong they are…” Dawn stated, as her response. While Paul didn’t show his face to them, Cynthia saw his expression change a bit, as he heard that. He seemed to be a bit more bothered now.
“Would you like to go first, Paul?” Cynthia asked, and he nodded.
“Fire Spin!” Paul ordered, the stream of flames that Chimchar let out forming a coil-like spiral. As it approached Garchomp, however, the Mach Pokémon simply raised one of its fins as a shield, blocking the flames from going any further.
“It’s strong… my Infernape could probably have overwhelmed it, but Garchomp didn’t even flinch at the impact!” Allegra realized, while Paul ordered a Dig. Despite being surrounded by flames, Garchomp did not hesitate to dig as well, under Cynthia’s command, and the purple-haired boy grumbled as he witnessed the dragon carry the spiral of flames that surrounded him along to the underground.
“Wait, what’s going on?” Jessie let out, once she saw that. “How did he–”
A loud tremor interrupted her, the kids letting out some cries of shock as the two Pokémon suddenly emerged together, Chimchar taking a blazing uppercut right to the chin. With a cry of pain, the Pokémon landed on his back, fainted.
“Chimchar was knocked out! Cynthia wins this round!” Albert declared, one arm stretched for her, while everyone just stared at the scene.
“Knocked out with one hit…” Dawn let out, unable to ignore the surprise; despite Cynthia having done the same to Lucian’s Bronzong on-screen earlier, seeing the real thing was somehow even more terrifying.
“That’s so like you,” Paul muttered to the Pokéball, after recalling Chimchar, and both Cynthia and Ash took note of it. “Weavile, stand by for battle!”
Dawn was the one to check with the Pokédex this time, while Cynthia just returned to her calm demeanor. “So, you’re using an Ice-type Pokémon, aren’t you? This means it’ll be twice as powerful against us.” She smiled with confidence. “Start the battle.”
“Blizzard!” Paul’s Weavile focused energy on its forehead jewel, before creating a snowstorm that struck against Garchomp, but again the Mach Pokémon didn’t even seem to notice it, much to their surprise. “Tch!”
“Dragon Rush!” Cynthia ordered, and so did her hammerhead fly, after disrupting the Blizzard with sheer guts. Once in the air, Garchomp formed an energy barrier around itself, before diving as fast as it could. The energy wave generated a pressure of some kind upon Weavile, who found itself terrified and unable to escape.
“…do you guys feel any different?” Allegra asked Ash and Dawn, as she realized that. They both turned towards her. “That attack… if it felt anything like what Dialga and Palkia were doing…”
“Oh!” they let out, together, before focusing. They didn’t have much time, however, before the impact; although Paul tried to cut his losses through an Ice Beam, Weavile missed both attempts due to the pressure, and Garchomp slammed onto him at full speed, sending him flying.
“… no, it doesn’t feel the same…” Ash let out, at that point. “I didn’t feel anything strange.”
“Me neither… and we’re the ones who were the closest…” Dawn added, somewhat sad, even as Paul recalled the fainted Weavile. This time, however, he had nothing to say, and simply took a new Pokéball out.
“That guy lost to another one-hit knock-out…” Jessie let out, even as they watched the match, as nobody seemed interested in ice cream right now.
“And even then, he doesn’t seem affected,” James added.
“Makes you wonder what’s goin’ on inside that head of his.”
Paul sent out a Murkrow, to the twerps’ surprise, and Dawn took this chance to scan it, while he ordered a Haze. Garchomp evaded the black cloud that emerged with ease, but the crow had already flown behind it, faster than any of them could tell.
“Sky Attack!” Paul ordered, and white energy wrapped around Murkrow as it sped up, ready to impact.
But Cynthia was ready as well. “Giga Impact!” she ordered, and an energy barrier formed around Garchomp as well, the hammerhead now capable of a simultaneous offense and defense.
Paul grinned at that. “At last.”
The resulting impact generated an explosion, which Garchomp flew out of safely, while Murkrow landed painfully on the ground and knocked out. While Albert gave the usual spiel regarding the winner/loser of the round, Paul seemed to ignore him, just letting out a mocking smirk as he recalled his Pokémon.
“What is he laughing at?” Ash wondered, along with Dawn.
“He was also defeated in one blow too…” she said, but Allegra didn’t seem as confused so much as surprised.
“Could it be he was waiting for this?!” she let out, loudly enough for them to hear. “Giga Impact is a powerful move, but it exhausts the user briefly… they can’t use another attack for a few seconds!”
“Torterra, stand by for battle!” Everyone was surprised to hear that, having expected yet another small and not too evolved Pokémon, but Paul’s Torterra was fairly large; it certainly matched Garchomp in size, and looked just as ferocious.
“Giga Drain!” Paul ordered, just as his opponent had landed, and three of the spikes on Torterra’s back started to glow bright green, so brightly that the white of the glow was more visible than anything else. The spikes then flew at Garchomp, long thorny vines connecting them to Torterra, and they wrapped around it. The hammerhead cried out as they drained its energy, the first injury it had taken in this entire battle.
“Garchomp didn’t dodge it!” Dawn realized it soon enough.
“It couldn’t… not after using Giga Impact!” Allegra confirmed. “That’s what Paul must have been waiting for! And for that, his Pokémon had to…” Despite her frown, both her and Ash were steaming inside.
‘He sacrificed Chimchar and the others just for one chance to use one single attack… that’s too cruel!’
“Giga Impact is certainly a powerful move, but it leaves Garchomp vulnerable,” Paul stated. “And being a Ground-type, it’s more vulnerable to Grass-type moves like the ones Torterra has.”
As the Giga Drain ended, Garchomp groaned, before falling to its knee; everyone stared at it in shock, other than Cynthia. Even Albert seemed more nervous, now that Paul had struck a critical blow compared to the matches everyone had seen. “Frenzy Plant!”
With Paul’s order, Torterra stomped onto the ground with both front paws, creating a brief quake that made large, gray thorny vines sprout out of the ground and fly at Garchomp. As they impacted, the purple-haired boy remained confident, even as dust flew through the air and ground and everyone but himself and Cynthia had covered their eyes to protect themselves.
And yet, despite having slammed against Garchomp’s fins and definitely caused some damage, the vines were pushed back by the hammerhead without any trouble, completely breaking their confidence.
“Brick Break,” Cynthia ordered, smiling again, as her Garchomp easily pushed away all of the vines it had blocked, before leaping into the air and letting its fins power up with a bright glow. Then, it landed onto the ground right in front of Torterra, slamming one of the fins against the Continent Pokémon. There was a brief struggle, but the Mach Pokémon managed to flip Torterra upside down and force it onto its back. Not that it mattered much, seeing as how it also fell unconscious right after that.
There was a loud silence through the next few seconds, as no one knew quite how to react. Ash was the first one to really break it. “So this is… a Champion’s power?!” he let out, completely astonished. And yet, Cynthia looked as serene as ever, as if her Garchomp hadn’t just completely done something amazing.
“Torterra was knocked out!” Albert managed to say, after a few more seconds. “Cynthia wins this–”
“Enough,” Paul interrupted him, just as he was raising his arm. “It’s over. I lost.”
“I see,” Cynthia stated, as Torterra was recalled. “You’ve done a great job, Garchomp.”
“Gar!” it growled, before being recalled as well.
One of the kids around them grew overly confident. “You guys see that? He got scared after all!” he taunted Paul, who ignored him. “That’s what you get for challenging the Champion, you doofus!” Even if he was ignored, the other kids did not; soon enough they were all laughing, which just unnerved Ash further while Cynthia glanced at them, without amusement.
It didn’t take long for the boy to snap. “Stop laughing!” he yelled at them, before heading to where Paul was. “You’ve grown stronger since last time, Paul.”
The other boy just glanced at him. “I’ll grow strong enough to defeat her. Don’t get in my way,” he muttered, displeasing him, before thanking Cynthia. As he walked away, however, Ash realized something.
“Hey, wait!” he called out, noticing Paul wasn`t stopping. “The Pokémon Center is the other way, isn’t it?”
Again, Cynthia frowned. “Wait, Paul,” she called, and he finally stopped. “It’s a trainer’s duty to take his Pokémon to the Pokémon Center after a battle.”
It took him a few seconds to reply, when he simply nodded slightly. “Very well.”
“I’m dreadfully sorry,” the nurse said, after the situation was explained to her. “Unfortunately, I cannot take care of his Pokémon today…”
“What’s wrong?” Cynthia asked, and she looked at Ash.
“His Pokémon arrived in the Center with a strange condition. His Pikachu, in particular, is exhausted beyond anything I’ve ever seen!” she went on, unhappy. “I’m doing everything I can to heal him, but it will take a while…”
Paul just scoffed at Ash, once he heard that. “Pathetic,” he muttered, glancing away. “Your Pikachu must be a real weakling if it needs that kind of treatment so badly.”
“Why, you–” the boy began, noticing Allegra seemed about to join in. “I don’t tell you how weak your Pokémon are considering how you train, do I?”
“No, but you keep telling me to train them differently…” Apparently, he thought that was just as bad.
“Don’t argue,” Cynthia admonished them, before looking at the nurse. “And don’t worry. I’ll take care of this boy’s Pokémon, if you’re so busy.” She looked really relieved at that, before leaving to go back to the intensive care unit.
While Cynthia and Paul left for another treatment room, Allegra kept the others from following them. “Okay, Ash,” she began, frowning. “Why did you interrupt me back then?”
“I didn’t want to talk about why Pikachu is bad in front of Paul, okay?” he replied, not very happy. “You saw how he acted before, telling me how getting rid of Pikachu was ‘smart’ and everything… if he gets even more involved in this, maybe he’ll even tell me to catch a new Pikachu or something!”
And then, he looked down. “And… I get a weird feeling about this. Like… like it’s better for Paul to not know about the Legendaries right now.” Dawn stared at him, along with the others.
“You… think he shouldn’t know more about them?” she asked, and he nodded. The small girl was silent for a few seconds.
‘…I never told Ash everything about what I saw in Lake Verity, either…’ she realized, thinking about it. ‘I don’t know what that was. It looked like the water, but it was floating… don’t they say something about Lake Verity?’
“Well, maybe you don’t want to talk to him, but don’t you think this is silly?” Allegra asked, clearly unhappy. “You keep trying to hide everything about it! Isn’t your Pikachu important to you? What if something happens to him because you didn’t tell the truth to the people who would be able to take care of him?”
“T-that’s–!” Ash let out, clearly not having thought of that.
‘I can’t remember what it was… but maybe there’s a Pokémon there. But I never heard a thing about it… nobody ever saw it, did they? So maybe… maybe it’s hiding. It literally disappeared once Piplup and I paid more attention to it. Does that mean that we scared it away? But then… wouldn’t it have known we were there?’
The redhead took a deep breath. “Listen, Ash. Last week, you did something amazing. You and Dawn,” she added, noticing the fellow Coordinator wasn’t listening to their conversation. “Even if you won’t cry it to the whole world, why aren’t you proud of it? Why is it so scary?”
“Allegra, listen–” Brock began, but she glared at him now, just so he’d fall silent. Then, Allegra turned back to Ash.
“Ash, I don’t know if you consider me a friend like Brock or Dawn… but what we went through in Alamos Town wasn’t normal. I… I want to know more. And you’re the only ones I know who can tell me more.” Her hands clenched together, as she seemed more nervous. “So… so please, open up to me, could you?”
Ash stared at her in surprise; for some reason, the redhead was blushing now. “Allegra–”
“Ahhhh!!!” Dawn suddenly cried out, drawing everyone’s attention. She gasped for a couple of seconds, before looking at the others. “S-sorry! I… I think I dozed off or something…” Ash, Brock and Allegra stared at her, confused. “What happened? Did I miss something?”
“I’m going to check up on Pikachu,” Ash said, taking this chance to get out of the room. Allegra was about to call to him, but stopped herself, while Brock watched her for a few seconds.
“Well, I wanted to help Cynthia and see how a Champion takes care of Pokémon…” he said, getting up as well. Dawn looked back and forth between them, her eyes slowly stopping on Allegra.
“…I missed something, didn’t I?” she asked her, but Allegra just got off her seat.
“It doesn’t matter.” She had her eyes closed for now. “We all have some thinking to do, after all.” As she left, Dawn stared at her for a few moments, before looking down again.
“Piplup…” she muttered, feeling lonely. “Mom… What should I do…”
She took one look at the videophones. ‘Maybe… maybe I should call home, this time?’ she thought, before hearing the sound of footsteps approaching her.
“Your friends seemed to be arguing about something,” Albert commented, stopping near her. “I couldn’t help but overhear… it sounded serious.”
“…yeah,” the bluenette admitted, looking at him with some reluctance. “It’s a personal subject… I hope you can understand.”
“Far from me to get involved in others’ messes,” the young man said, adjusting his glasses. “But if it’s a personal subject, then this is hardly the best place to discuss it. Anyone else could pay attention to it.”
“You’re right… I guess I’m just confused.” She rested her head against her seat, looking away. “A lot of weird things have been going on around me, just this week, and I don’t understand any of it… Ash and Brock have gone through a lot and I didn’t even know a thing about it before.”
“So at least a part of it is that you feel like you don’t know your friends like you think you should,” Albert stated, not smiling. “But wouldn’t they have a reason to keep it hidden?”
“Well, yeah, they gave one, but… Allegra doesn’t like it,” Dawn said, looking at him again. “And, when I think about it… I’ve been hiding things from them, too. Things that may have to do with this whole situation.”
“Hm… that sounds complicated, alright. I admit I never had to deal with something like that,” he said, before taking a seat. “But I did learn a few things about people that might be helpful in this situation.”
“Yeah. You guys are having trust issues because of keeping secrets, and more specifically, Allegra doesn’t like that, because friends shouldn’t keep secrets from each other. But sometimes, people just won’t talk about things.”
“Because they’re afraid, right?” Dawn guessed, but he shook his head.
“It’s not just fear of the truth. It’s that it’s what they believe to be strength.” She stared at him. “If I had problems with some kids at school, I wouldn’t bring it up because I wouldn’t want people to think I’m weak and can’t solve my problems on my own. You never went through something like that before?”
“Well, I did…”
“It’s the same here. People don’t like to admit they’re weak… especially not boys, right?” He laughed a bit. “You’re still kids, so even if you’re not trying to hide, you simply won’t share these things because it won’t come to mind. But if you trust each other, then you should at least talk about it to each other.”
“But if they don’t want to talk, then what–”
“You’ve shown that you want to hear them, didn’t you?” Albert asked, smiling. “Too much pressure may make things harder… but if they know they can rely on you, then they’ll tell you the truth before it’s too late.”
Dawn nodded, before standing up. “Thanks for your advice, mister.”
“Albert.” She blinked. “I’m not that old. You guys can just call me Albert, like you’ve done Cynthia.”
“Oh!” she realized, before laughing a bit weakly. “Alright, I got it. I feel a lot better now, Albert!”
“At your orders, kid!” he replied, only for her to pout.
“Well, if you’re going to make me call you by the name, then the least you could do is call me by mine too!” she told him, frowning. “I’m–”
“Dawn, yeah,” he cut her off, laughing a bit. “I heard your names while you were talking to each other.”
“Well…” Now that was awkward. “…I’ll go and check up on Piplup. Thanks again, Albert!”
“You’re welcome!” he replied, as she left. The lobby was empty now. “Cynthia told me that we’re supposed to help guide the younger trainers… but I imagine she’ll have her hands full just from guiding that little brat. I guess I’ll do my best to help these kids, in her stead…”
Ash couldn’t help but look sad, as he watched his Pokémon being treated through the glass screen. He had pushed his worries out of his mind for the first hour or so, hoping that Nurse Joy would be able to treat him, but between Paul’s mockery and what she had said once they returned…
Pikachu didn’t look very good either; Nurse Joy had treated every one of his limbs and even his ears this far, but his responses to much of it had been to groan in pain and twitch uncomfortably. It wouldn’t be until much later that Ash would learn that he was under anesthetics – as it was, right now, he was just wondering how it was that Pikachu could be suffering so much.
“Was it… just Dialga and Palkia?” he wondered to himself. “Those two Pokémon were pretty powerful… they created that field that nearly destroyed Alamos Town, and everything, but… Pikachu fought against a lot of Legendary Pokémon, ever since we left Pallet so long ago…”
The fight against Brandon’s Pokémon was the first to come to mind; he had had to fight the man thrice, to earn the final Frontier Symbol, each time challenging one different Regi at a time. Of course, he didn’t remember anything about the first time, but Brock, May and Max had told him that he had attempted to fight Regirock… but didn’t speak about what had happened exactly. And that had bothered him, whether they knew or not.
Of course, Ash Ketchum wasn’t known for expressing that kind of feeling too well. Sadness whenever he suffered a serious defeat, or anger at seeing something bad and wanting to stop it, like Team Rocket’s misdeeds, that he could express well. But being bothered about his friends hiding things from him? He… wasn’t good at that. So that time, he just let it be.
That was something he liked about Dawn, at least. Before they went to Alamos Town, she hadn’t prodded on anything uncomfortable about his or Brock’s lives, nor had she really hidden anything from them. True, she hadn’t told them about her nickname, but it wasn’t as if Ash had ever told her about what Gary called him, and he could relate to having an embarrassing nickname. The only part he didn’t understand was why she never let Kenny tell them the truth about it.
But other than that, Dawn was surprisingly straightforward with her feelings and behavior. Even ignoring or accounting for her ‘no need to worry’ calls that only seemed to make people worry further, there was the point that he knew so much about her. She wanted to become a Top Coordinator to follow her mother’s footsteps, she knew a lot about Pokémon even if she was just as much a newbie as he had been long ago, and it was very easy to tell how she felt or would express herself in a given situation. Always optimistic and looking forward to her next victory, confident on herself and her skills, proud of her Pokémon and of herself… and yet, he had seen her at her worst as well: her nerves getting the better of her during the Jubilife Contest, and her sadness when she thought Pachirisu didn’t like her…
He hadn’t thought about it like that at the time, but now Ash was remembering something else. ‘I entered her first Contest to make Aipom happy, even if it meant Dawn could lose her first chance at a Ribbon…’ he thought, not speaking up just yet. ‘And yet, she seemed a lot less stressed after that. I’m not good with Contests, not like May is, but she was happy that I was taking part… and she wasn’t sad anymore.’
Hat in hand, Ash brushed the Pokéball symbol on one hand. It was blue, just like their eyes. ‘I could have been just in the audience, like Pikachu, but I wanted to make her happy. If she was thinking about how my own Contest attempt could go, then she wouldn’t worry about her attempt, or about what she could do wrong.’ He hadn’t given May that level of support, no matter how much he had actually supported her dreams. ‘And after I passed the appeal round, when I wished her luck…’
That hadn’t been the first time Ash had touched another girl’s hands, or even wished them luck. But he had never given a girl a high-five before. ‘She could do great, but she was still unsure. I could have just wished her good luck, but it wasn’t enough to simply tell her that, and I knew it… so I raised my hand, and then…’
He tightened his hand a bit. Dawn was such a different person from what he was used to dealing with, ever since he left on his journey, and now that he was feeling like this… he couldn’t help but think about the others he had traveled with, before.
Misty and May… a bit of a smile came to his mouth when he remembered them. Two different girls, just like Brock sometimes sang to himself while nobody was looking. Misty was one of his closest friends back when they were going through Kanto, the Orange Islands, and Johto together, even if she wasn’t always the nicest person – not like Brock, at least. She had a real temper, and was prone to yelling whenever she was mad, but even if he never brought it up before, he couldn’t help but admit she was probably the smartest member of the group back then. He was just a little boy, more obsessed with catching Pokémon and winning Badges than with anything else, and was more than a bit clueless about everything… and Brock, well, he was smart, but after a while his interest in girls turned him into a dolt, or whatever it was Misty had called him during one of her more irate moments.
Misty might be silly sometimes, like when she got all interested in that Princess Day festival or how she was playing so often at being Togepi’s mama, but she was still very reasonable and mature about things. When she became the official Gym Leader of Cerulean City, he had been legitimately happy about it, given how important that was to her and her family, but it had completely escaped his mind how sad she had been about the true meaning of it – something he wouldn’t realize until much later.
May, on the other hand, was more than a friend… he had been her mentor. She had too little knowledge of Pokémon and everything to do with them, for some reason, and he had been more than happy to teach her everything he knew about Pokémon – a surprising amount, it turned out – which she took to with gusto. Compared to Misty, Ash couldn’t deny she was a girl – no boy had a chest like hers, and she was prettier than his other friends – but the way she loved noodles and ate them just like him, or how she had taken to mimic his victory stance with regards to her Ribbons… he wasn’t sure if she had done this because of him or not. And he couldn’t deny that her Pokémon could match his in power and enthusiasm.
May was a girl, one he could even admit that he liked… but he had taken maybe too long to truly see that. She had always had an interest in that other guy, Drew, and even Ash had to admit that the green-haired kid was much better at the whole ‘charming girls’ than he was. Looking handsome, giving roses, putting on a bunch of hair flips and raised noses… he had been bothered enough by it that he even tried to see what would happen once, after washing his hair with some fancy shampoo they had found.
If Ash didn’t feel so down about everything, he might have laughed at the memory; as it was, remembering Pikachu laughing at him for looking so ridiculous was almost enough to break him out of these thoughts. He gave one more look at the screen, noticing that nothing seemed to have changed, and Pikachu remained unconscious.
Unconscious, but breathing. No apparent change on his condition. Nothing he could do but nothing that could worry him more. If Dawn were there, she would probably tell him there was no need to worry, that Nurse Joy was good enough, and he…
‘I’d say ‘it’s in these times I worry the most’?’ he wondered, not quite liking where his thoughts went. He was the one who had met hundreds of Nurse Joys throughout four regions, so he shouldn’t have any reason to doubt their ability to treat Pokémon, and he was already worried enough as it was. But at least Dawn would be trying to cheer him up, or maybe just reinforce that confidence he had.
Misty and May… what could they say? A hesitant ‘Oh, Ash…’, with all the concern but none of the belief? They would be just as worried about Pikachu as him, but… wouldn’t they be too sad? He was already taking it badly; seeing one of his friends nearly crying because of something that nobody could have realized… for all he knew, they might make him feel worse, by figuring it was their fault. They should have been able to do something, but instead, they had left everything on his shoulders again.
Dawn had only met him a few weeks ago. Her Piplup wasn’t doing too well, but he wasn’t as bad as Pikachu, he had checked on him earlier. She wouldn’t blame herself for what had happened, would she? He had a feeling that it wouldn’t happen, but he couldn’t be sure of anything. If she blamed herself… it would be for what happened to her own Pokémon, not his, and then he would be the one trying to help her through this situation, along with Brock and even Allegra, despite their previous argument.
Ash sighed. Pikachu’s life was on the line, but so was Dawn. He and Brock had gone through a lot since they had left their home towns, but she hadn’t ever seen anything to that level. Dialga and Palkia’s attack on Alamos Town was something completely terrifying to someone like her – at least he had activated or fixed magical devices and artifacts that could stop great danger, what, six or seven times now? – and yet she had done great at helping him during the climb to the tower and even saved him from falling once. If she had been scared, she hadn’t shown him that side yet.
And Ash had refused to talk to her about it. Allegra was pushy and annoying, but he had to admit that she meant well with all her talking about how they shouldn’t hide this. He wasn’t scared, just…
…he didn’t know anymore. Everything was getting too confusing for him.
Far in the skies above, two forms were observing the Pokémon Center, thoughtful.
‘So, it seems the seals are breaking…’ the small green fairy muttered, in its own language. ‘It seems we don’t have much time before he can break free again.’
‘Are you sure?’ asked a small pink kitty, about the same height. ‘This isn’t the first time we’ve had a false alarm, Celebi. Remember what happened to Jirachi four years ago?’
‘Of course I do, Mew. I also remember what happened to Kyogre and Groudon only a year later.’ Celebi was completely serious, as opposed to Mew. ‘We’ve been lax since then. The Tree of Life incident, Manaphy’s capture… and now, these temporal distortions. We should have been more watchful. We should have–’
‘Have what?’ Mew asked, floating close by. ‘Ash has done well to protect everyone so far. Isn’t that enough?’
‘It’s not. We cannot stay idle while the rest of the world is being damaged like this. Eleven disasters in such a short period of time… can you really accept this?’
As Celebi stared at it, Mew stopped for a moment. ‘Well, things haven’t been going well, but… remember our agreement? Ash’s birth was prophesized to happen and we would give him the power to protect our world. Ho-Oh watched over him then, and has been keeping watch over him ever since. Why would he be worried?’
‘This is not our territory. We can only come this close from this distance, and we are not allowed to interfere. For good or for bad, Ash must face this threat on his own.’ Celebi did not seem calm at all despite its own reasoning. ‘But whatever happened here… things have changed from what we believed. Somehow, Dialga and Palkia were fighting… but they were never supposed to meet each other!’
‘They were sealed away because of that. The three worlds beyond ours, with only the Unown Realm keeping them apart…’ Mew considered, silently. ‘Somehow, they were here in our world. That’s not normal.’
‘Exactly!’ Celebi finally seemed to smile, as Mew seemed to understand the weight of the situation. ‘That we had to come and see Ash is necessary in this situation. Even if we will not show ourselves to him again, at least we need to know if anything worse has happened to him!’
‘Or to Pikachu,’ Mew added, with strong emphasis. The fairy just rolled its eyes, annoyed.
‘Yes, yes, to Ash or to Pikachu,’ Celebi went on, trying to ignore that. ‘My point is that this is the time where the world will need its Chosen One the most. You cannot ignore that and just…’ Suddenly, they looked down. ‘…what is this presence I feel?’
‘So familiar…’ Mew realized, before gasping. ‘Is this… another Chosen One? But there are not supposed to be any more of them this generation! What’s going on?!’
Celebi grumbled, before glancing at the pink kitty. ‘I’ll check on it. My bond with nature should keep me from being noticed better than your pink bubble of doom,’ Mew heard, before the fairy flew downwards, completely serious.
‘Hey! I can be unnoticed to if I want to!’ With that, the kitty began to transform, body taking the form of a proud-looking Swellow. ‘Try and catch me, if you can!’
Celebi wanted to groan. Even now, in such a serious situation, the last thing Mew would ever do was act like it was serious. It was so typical of them to get in these situations, that it was no wonder they hardly met nowadays.
Still, the two of them made their way down the best they could, the Swellow arriving first as expected. While Celebi kept itself out of sight, Mew landed by one of the windows and perched upon its opening, taking a good look.
‘So, what do you see, Mew?’ the onion fairy asked, having to wait a few seconds for the response.
‘Well… it seems the people in this building are pretty injured if you ask me. I can see a lot of them in beds and the like…’ There was another pause, as the Swellow pecked on the window playfully. ‘There’s a big, yellow and black human taking care of them, along with some short human watching them.’
‘…why is that relevant?’ Celebi asked it, almost glaring at the bird. ‘Do you feel either of them is the Chosen One?’
‘Nuh-uh!’ Mew replied, after the pause. ‘They’re just humans. But I can feel they both have strong Pokémon under their care… and in fact, the big human is – WOW!’
‘What? What was it?’
‘It’s Brock! He’s here!’ Now its tone was very excitable, especially after seeing him come closer to the woman. ‘I don’t see Ash with him, though… that’s strange. I thought they were always together?’
‘Well, you know Ash has no head for the kinds of things Brock does. He’s probably resting somewhere.’ Celebi took a few seconds to think of how to continue, before glaring at the window. ‘This can’t be the place where we felt the other Chosen One. Let’s keep looking!’
‘Okay, okay… just one bit!’ A few seconds later, the Swellow was flying around the building, looking through the other windows as carefully as it could without drawing much attention. ‘Hmm… I don’t like this. I can’t feel that presence anymore. I can’t tell why we felt it like that…’
‘...yeah, this is strange…’ Celebi replied, from her perch on a tree. ‘It was faint from the start, but now that we’re here it is much fainter… almost gone, even.’ Now the onion fairy glared at the building. ‘But that makes no sense… unless…’
‘I can’t see anyone here who could be a Chosen One at all. Too many people, but all these Pokémon are normal ones, as far as I can tell. Nobody here has Awakened…’ Mew said, shaking its head. ‘I don’t understand. It wasn’t that long ago when we felt the presence. How could it disappear from us like this?’
‘Mew, can you see Ash and Pikachu?’ Celebi’s words made the Swellow pause for a moment, before flying faster than before. The onion fairy had to close its eyes until the blue bird finally stopped, by one of the windows in the northern side.
‘I can see Ash!’ Mew answered at last. ‘But… I don’t see Pikachu with him!’
‘You don’t? But then–’ Celebi’s message was interrupted by Mew’s next outburst, their psychic connection being the only thing keeping the loud screech from being heard anywhere.
‘H-he’s injured! Seriously injured!’ It was all the Swellow could do to not flap her wings too noisily or hit the window to invade the building. ‘Who could have done such a thing?!’
Celebi gritted its teeth as Mew’s stress started to flow through the psychic connection. ‘Pikachu’s a mortal, Mew. He can get injured like any other mortal…’ Despite being the one saying that, however, the onion fairy really didn’t like the way this conversation was going. ‘You can feel him, right? Can you feel his vital signs? How injured is he?’
Mew landed on the windowsill, eyes closed. ‘It’s weak… well, not as weak as it could have been, but… it feels strange. I certainly haven’t felt a Pokémon like this in a long time…’ was the conclusion, and then the Swellow looked back towards Celebi’s perch. ‘You need to come and see it for yourself.’
After a bit of hesitation, Celebi flew towards the building, landing near Mew. ‘Wow, that doesn’t look good…’ the onion fairy said, before gasping. ‘But it’s not the injuries that are the problem.’ Mew only stared in disbelief at that response. ‘Mew… Pikachu is old.’
‘Well, yes, he is, after all he’s mature and–’ A shake of head shut Mew up.
‘You don’t get it. Pikachu is old. As in, already past his physical prime and ready to curl up and die, and that makes no sense.’ Mew’s gaze grew worse to bear. ‘Most Pikachus don’t live as long as he did, but that’s because they’re wild, but even then… it’s because he’s Ash’s Pokémon and you’ve blessed his bloodline with long life that he would live on. But he’s already drained of most of his youth and vitality…’
‘He needs to be healed.’ There was a look in the Swellow’s eye that made Celebi really uncomfortable now. ‘I’ll take care of it.’
‘Okay, okay, I get it!’ There was no point in arguing that. Mew definitely was better suited for this kind of thing, anyway. ‘So, we’ve found Ash and Pikachu, now where’s that–’
Again, Celebi was silenced, but this time it was due to a new presence that both of them had felt. They needed to turn around to be sure, but indeed, a faint and barely visible entity could be seen in the sunlight, from their position.
‘You’ve come,’ the entity said, her voice faint and barely heard even in their minds. ‘I am surprised to see you here.’
‘So are we,’ Celebi was the first to say, frowning. ‘You’re supposed to have been sealed away like the others.’
‘I felt something strange, a week ago. It would not have been enough to draw me out… were it not how the power involved felt so familiar. The power that created me.’ The body of the entity was not fully complete, much of it having dripped away already. Only the head and some of the upper body stayed with them. ‘My Chosen was involved. I could not let this be without knowing more.’
‘Your Chosen… so, it was your presence we felt as well.’ Mew chirped as a bird, even as she spoke telepathically. ‘You’re not supposed to be doing such things.’
‘I saw a human who was willing to leave herself to be hurt in order to protect a Pokémon. I am not allowed to admire that?’ the entity asked, somewhat offended. ‘My mark was not meant to do anything but let me know more about her, and about the rest of the world.’
‘I’m sure.’ Celebi had no pleasant expression on her face as she said that. ‘But you were forbidden to interact with the rest of the world for a reason. You were sealed to maintain the greater seal. And yet, because you didn’t, Dialga and Palkia–’
‘Are you blaming me for what happened?! I had nothing to do with that!’
‘It’s awfully strange that you’re here so soon after they appeared as well.’ The entity just became silent after that, and Mew moved closer.
‘Listen. The world depends on your presence as a seal, if we want to keep things as they are now. If you insist on leaving, then the seal will weaken, and eventually–’
‘Mew, I am not foolish. I know the risks.’ The entity had taken on a defensive tone while speaking, the water that composed it dripping further away. ‘But I’ve seen this world before and I… I’ve come to love it, too. I want to help.’
‘You can help by not getting in the way,’ Celebi said, quite cynical. ‘I don’t want to have to send some unlucky soul into the past to strengthen your seal after this.’
Nothing was said in response. Mew tilted her head in a very bird-like manner, before looking at each one in turn.
‘You wouldn’t come here if you had nothing in mind,’ she said, the entity’s eyes widening in the process. ‘Do you have anything you wanted to share?’
That definitely took it aback, considering the way the floating head moved back. ‘Y-yes… yes, I do have something. I think I know how to help with your little Chosen One problem.’
‘Oh, you do?’ Celebi asked, dismissive. ‘Well, what’s your idea that’s so important you’re willing to risk the entire world just to tell us?’
‘Now, now, be nice, Celebi,’ Mew said. ‘Let’s hear what she has to say.’ The onion fairy just rolled her eyes, while the entity nodded slightly.
And then, she told them her plan.
To say they were unimpressed was an understatement.
‘…are you serious?’ Celebi asked, now frowning. ‘Do you realize what this means?’
‘Yes, I am aware that there’s some flaws in my suggestion, but–’
‘Some flaws–you’re literally telling us to leave everything to you!’
‘What’s so wrong about that?’
‘Are you even paying attention?! Come on, Mew, tell her that we’re not letting them do it!’
‘Actually…’ Much to the onion fairy’s surprise, Mew had a thoughtful look on her face, even if she was a bird just now. ‘Although it’s true this is not exactly safe… I’m not exactly against this plan. It would be a way of protecting the seal and still…’
‘Oh, come on! You can’t be serious!’ Celebi was already coming up with all the arguments necessary to prove her point, to explain that they couldn’t just trust the ‘Psycho Trio’ with the safety of the world, that their original plan was good enough… but one look at the Swellow’s eyes was enough to let her know that Mew had already read her mind.
And yet, she was going through with it.
‘Oh, whatever!’ the onion fairy groaned, closing her eyes. ‘I tried. If this fails, it’s on your neck. Not mine. Do you get that?’
‘Of course I do,’ the entity simply said, as Celebi floated back into the sky, hidden from sight. Mew watched her leave, somewhat unhappy.
‘So.’ She clicked her beak, before turning back to the fading entity. ‘Shall we begin, Mesprit?’
Last edited by Seijiro Mafuné; 27th June 2014 at 5:42 PM.
The scene were Ash was told to get out in the first chapter was really amusing. I thought that this was a great and really mature approach to pearlshipping. I was pleasently surprised to see Celebi and Mew in the fic. I'll reccomend this to my pearlshipping friends.