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Thread: Final Challenge - Advanceshipping, T

  1. #51
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    So, here it is; Chapter 32, ahead of schedule. I've actually had this done since Friday; the delay was in trying to add content to this chapter. But it just didn't seem to fit, so I'll put it into the next chapter instead. I've also noticed a couple of strange stats with this story recently on Fanfiction.net; the average number of reviews has increased substantially, but the number of views has decreased quite a bit. Up until Chapter 24, I had an average of around 800 views per chapter. At Chapter 24 it surprisingly dropped 300 reads from Chapter 23, made it's way back up to 1100 views for Chapter 26 (which if I recall was the major ContestShipping portion, strangely enough), but since then has dropped quite a bit. Chapter 31 has had only 278 views so far; does anybody know why this may be? What have I done to drive away so many readers of this story? Any ideas?

    Chapter 32: Cyas


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    Two weeks ago...

    It was gone. It was gone. The beast let out a shrill scream of rage at the discovery, at the realization... at the loss. Twisting its long, silver neck, it reared back its head and bayed its loss to the sky. The call carried for miles across the oceans and echoed against the rocks of the Whirl Islands. It bayed again, and again. It bayed until its throat was raw and bleeding, and until the sun’s first rays began peeking over the horizon.

    Its child, its purpose in life and its dedication for 10 years, was gone. It had been taken once before, but had been quickly found then. Given the coldness of the den, it didn’t seem likely to be the case this time around. For a brief moment it entertained the faint hope that its child had merely set out for an exploration; after all, it was close to the age when it would leave the nest forever. But no, the human footprints laying fresh on the floor amid several scuffle marks put paid to that fragile hope

    The tears slowly stopped flowing as the deep sorrow it felt in its heart became rage. The eyes glinted and hardened as it turned its head towards the rising sun and hissed angrily. The first of the day’s warmth struck its feathers, illuminating its dazzling silver plumage. It did not remain there for long. The beast’s fury swelled and became so great that the very air began to change.

    The sparkles of light playing on the water’s surface vanished as the sky returned to darkness, and a chill breeze picked up, causing waves to begin splashing violently against the rocks. A vortex of air began to form, ripping out some nearby vegetation and sending it hurtling away.

    The Lugia let out a high, keening shriek of rage and loss before taking to the air and spinning itself into the form of a tight cyclone. With the full power of a hurricane behind it, the legendary Pokemon dove into the sea and swam off, searching for its young. Only a single thought pervaded through its mad rage.

    The humans had taken its child; now it would search the globe until it was found, exacting vengeance on any whom it encountered along the way. And woe betide those who had kidnapped the only creature it had left in this world.

    As the Lugia moved away from its home, the intensity of the hurricane faded until it vanished altogether. With the first wisps of bright sunlight that emerged from behind the final black cloud, a sudden dazzling ray of light shot upwards, reflecting the strong rays of the sun. This area of the world was almost completely uninhabited; a prime reason why the Lugia had chosen to nest here. It would therefore be over a decade before this object was discovered, although its worth was nigh unmeasureable.

    A silver feather.

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    400 years ago...

    It was dark, near midnight. The field glistened with early dew, and a cool breeze ruffled the blades of grass. It was truly the most tranquil of nights. To any passing person or Pokemon, it would have seemed like a typical night in the wilderness; save for the curious pattern of several large stone tablets, and the group of people who stood off to the side.

    “The tablets have all been arranged?” the King demanded.

    “Yes, my Lord,” the captain of his army replied.

    “And the Pokemon have all been gathered?” The captain hesitated.

    “All save for Ho-Oh, my Lord,” he answered in a low tone. “However, if the ancient words are true...”

    “If they are false, then this whole endeavour shall be in vain!” the King roared. “Do you in any way realize how difficult it was to find and subdue each Pokemon, let alone keep them secured? It was an almost impossible task!”

    “My Lord, as the one who planned out and led the captures, I understand full well just how difficult the task was; Rayquaza, Regice, and Kyogre were almost impossible to reach. And if the ancient words are false, then it would not matter whether we had each legendary Pokemon and the stone tablets, as it would also fail.”

    “Failure is not an option, Captain,” the King growled. “The Cyas Wars have drained Kentou, Shannah, Whoeen, and Gotou of both soldiers and resources. We remained independent, and so are now at our strongest; if we are to seize Cyas before the four forces recover their previous strength, we must act now! With Cyas, no country can stand before us! The whole world will be mine for the taking, and all shall kneel before the King of Pokelantis!” His eyes shone madly, already seeing himself established as the ruler of the known world.

    “Yes, my Lord,” the Captain said, bowing. He turned and strode off towards the temporary barracks. “Bring the Pokemon!” he ordered the nearest group of men.

    The King reached into the folds of his robes and carefully drew out the stone Poke Ball. He examined it for a moment, and then snapped his head upwards. “Smith!” he roared. The short, humpbacked man pushed his way hastily through the nearby crowd of servants, attendants, and guards, panting with the effort.

    “Yes, my Lord?” he asked. The King’s eyes bored into him.

    “You have crafted what I requested?” he asked. The smith swallowed.

    “My Lord... It was not as simple as I expected. Metal is not as easy to shape as rock, and it possesses different properties. It took several attempts, and even now I am not sure...”

    “Did you forge it or not?” the King roared, causing everyone in the vicinity to jump.

    “I... I did, my Lord,” the smith whispered.

    “Where is it?” the King demanded. Not taking his eyes off the King, the Smith slowly reached into a deep pocket woven into the side of his robe and drew out a beautiful violet-coloured velvet bag, tied tightly with shining silver tassels. He knelt and proffered the bag to the King reverently, who snatched it with little care. Ripping open the delicate tassels, the King upended the bag and dumped its contents into his palm. A stunned gasp rose from all who were nearby.

    A smoothly shaped sphere rested in the man’s hand. It was roughly the size of a clenched fist, and shone as if it had just been polished. Two runes, representing the initials of the King, were stamped into the surface on the top half of the sphere, but it was the colouring that so stunned the crowd.

    The bottom half was a stunning silver, reminiscent of the glow from the night’s full moon. Dazzling everyone, it reflected the face of anyone who gazed at it. The top half of the sphere shone a bright gold, perfectly capturing the essence of day’s dawn. Separating the two was a dark black band, the width of a single finger, which ran around the center. Just underneath the runes the band formed into a circle, leaving a small silver nub of metal protruding from the sphere. For likely the first time in his life, the King was held speechless by the sight of the beautiful craftsmanship.

    “It is to your liking, my Lord?” the smith dared ask. For a moment the King did not respond, and the smith feared the worst.

    “It is... a wondrous thing,” he said at last, eliciting an audible sigh of relief from the smith. “This is truly a worthy object with which to contain Cyas.” He looked up from the sphere and beheld the captain as he approached and knelt.

    “My Lord, the casters are in their positions. Each has been properly placed between the stone tablets. All that we require now is your presence.” The King nodded.

    “Escort me to the center,” he ordered. Motioning several guards into a protective formation, the captain fell into step behind the King as they walked towards the large circle of casters and tablets. Several casters moved silently out of the circle, making room for the King to pass through. Once he moved by, they retook their positions.

    At the centre of the circle, the King stopped. He gazed first at the sky then turned in a slow circle, ensuring that every caster was in the right location between the tablets. He nodded silently to the Captain who saluted in turn. The guards moved silently out of the circle to stand behind the casters, leaving the King alone. He gazed at the moon and waited. He did not wait long.

    A strange shimmering appeared within the moon; it glowed in several colours, and grew swiftly in size. A harsh, yet somehow melodic cry rang faintly out. There would have been murmurs of fear and wonderment were it not for the King’s need for silence. Several men shifted uncomfortably; their movements were completely ignored by the King, whose eyes were fixed on the shimmering apparition approaching from within the shape of the moon. Unblinkingly, he watched as it suddenly blazed gold with all the intensity of the sun. It swooped down towards the gathering and let loose a harsh screech, causing many to cringe as it swept directly overhead, its body glowing brilliantly, its eyes staring savagely downward with the colours of the rainbow.

    “Ho-Oh...” the King whispered. “After all the plans that you have thwarted, after all the times you have emerged the victor... at long last you shall be mine, and the jewel of my collection. Casters!” he roared, and each man standing between the plates held out a spherical stone at arm’s length. From each stone shot a jagged violet beam that caused the hair of each man to stand up on end. The bursts of light collided at the centre of the circle, directly over the King’s head. He laughed as he beheld the beams fuse and grow, and at Ho-Oh’s surprised screech of pain as a strange purple aura began to drain from its own body and meet with the rest.

    “You are powerless,” he hissed sibilantly. “There is no escape from the ancient spell; a spell layed down by Cyas itself, the Lord of all Pokemon. Your power will be used for my purpose, to summon and capture Cyas!” He laughed again and, in a low voice, began to recite the ancient words in a strange dialect over and over again.

    From the land and the sea, mine power flows from thee
    From the earth to the sky, the wet and the dry
    I rule land, air, and sea.

    Spirit, will, and thoughts
    Life, death, and dreams
    I come when I am called
    Awakened with a scream.

    When hearts are blackened by power corrupt
    And hatred taints the will of the free
    My energy is used only to disrupt
    Call me in a desperate plea.

    Take with you the strength of my sons and daughters
    And my mortal ties to the earth.
    I require earth, wind, rock, ice, fire, and water
    For this world to give me rebirth.

    But heed me now and heed me well;
    I give and I take away.
    The arm that created your world and your life
    Has the hand that shall take it away.
    Meddle not in the ancient powers
    My wrath cannot be controlled;
    If called before the day my presence is required
    Naught but chaos can unfold.

    If worst comes to worst with the end drawing near
    My rampage causing naught but harm
    There is but one way to stay your fears
    Self-sacrifice stills these arms.


    The fused violet beams of light made a sound like a great roar and expanded into a sphere of incredible size. The eighteen plates in the circle began to glow a brilliant and blinding white, before rising several inches into the air and turning so that the inscriptions on each faced the violet sphere. In response, a great formless image appeared from within the gigantic structure, growing larger and larger with each passing moment. The brighter the plates glowed, the larger and more structured the image became.

    A maniacal laugh pealed out above the sound of the roaring sphere and the expanding shape within. His arms stretched outwards in desire, the mad King of Pokelantis beheld the apparition with utter glee.

    “Cyas, I summon you!” he roared. “You will be mine, and none shall stand before our might! Cyas, I call you now from the void you entered when our world was born. The time has come for you to awaken and serve me as you are meant to! For I have done what the combined forces of Kentou, Gotou, Whoeen, and Shannah could not! I summon you now to this world; Cyas, arise!”

    With an earth-shattering scream from within, the purple sphere imploded, blinding every man who did not shield his eyes. A creature unlike any ever seen before by mortal creatures stepped sedately out from the glow to stand easily on the hard ground. A deep rumbling sound came from deep within its throat as it beheld the casters and their stone spheres, sensing what each contained within. Its angry red eyes travelled around the circle, and rearing back its head it let loose a long baying call. There were terrified screams from the casters as the spheres that they held began to shake menacingly. Suddenly, one after the other, the stone spheres exploded, releasing the behemoths contained inside.

    The King froze uncertainly as the casters, his servants, and even the guards and soldiers broke ranks and fled. His face paled momentarily as he beheld the entity Cyas stand before him, and the crowd of legendary Pokemon that surrounded them both; the massive Groudon, the solid Regigigas, the intelligent Latios, the fleet Articuno, and the ones who controlled his very existence: Dialga, Palkia, Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf. He turned once in a long, slow circle, holding the eyes of each Pokemon that gazed at him. Holding up the magnificently coloured metal sphere, he faced Cyas with a sneer upon his face; in response, the legendary entity let loose a bellow that shook the earth to its very core.

    “Having summoned you, Cyas, I now claim you as my own,” the King roared. “Behold, the GS Pokemon Catcher, named in my honour! These devices allow humans to capture and control any creature!” Cyas snarled menacingly, a harsh, guttural sound; but this time, the vocalizations were accompanied by telepathy.

    Foolish human; my will cannot be controlled by beings as weak as you. I have seen how you imprisoned my brethren, and now you have seen how easily I was able to destroy your cages. No force you create can hope to contain me.

    “But this is much stronger than the rocks used to capture the legendary Pokemon,” the King whispered. “Into the GS Pokemon Catcher, the spirit of my greatest nemesis has been imbibed. Yes, Ho-Oh, the one who has thwarted so many of my plans in the past, unwittingly assisted me with this endeavour. Several months ago, Ho-Oh dropped a single feather at my feet after halting my army’s march against Pokemopolis. My smith used the power of this feather in the flame that was used to forge this magnificent catching device.” He sighed theatrically. “The power and strength of Ho-Oh flows through this sphere, this ball. You have no hope of escape.”

    Grinning wickedly, the evil King raised the golden and silver ball above his head, pointing it at the entity.

    “Cyas, I call you to my side! With the power of Ho-Oh, you are mine!”

    A glistening red beam shot from the centre of the GS Ball, on dead course for Cyas. The entity vanished, reappearing behind the King almost instantaneously.

    You are naught but foolish, the entity rumbled. You have summoned me for the purpose of greed. My arms created your earth and your life; now they shall be reclaimed. Human, your life is mine.

    Letting loose a high, bellowing shriek, Cyas opened its red maw and lunged forwards. The King screamed in terror as the massive mouth closed around his body and the front teeth dug into the ground around his feet. He felt his body become suddenly inverted as Cyas lifted its head and swallowed. The dark, pulsing walls of the throat pummelled his body and forced him to slide ever onwards down the esophagus.

    “You were mine,” he wailed, flailing around as best as he could, striking the walls of the throat with the GS Ball. “You were mine!”

    The legendary Pokemon watched impassively as Cyas’s mouth closed around the mad King, and swallowed him. For a moment, all was silent. And then, seemingly from within, Cyas’s body began to glow a deep red. A look of surprised pain spread across the entity’s face and then, in a cloud of energy, its body writhed and contorted into a scarlet cloud which condensed inwards.

    With a wet and somewhat slimy thump, the King of Pokelantis fell from midair to land painfully on the ground. His eyes reflected astonishment as the beam of red energy that had once been Cyas was sucked slowly into the GS Ball. For several moments, the Ball writhed violently, so violently that the King feared it would break. But the power of Ho-Oh held true, and after a time the Ball ceased moving.

    “Cyas is mine,” the King muttered, surprise and delight in his tone. “Cyas is mine!” He laughed raucously, but his delight did not last for long. With a deafening scream, Ho-Oh lunged downwards, its rainbow-hued body sizzling with rage. The King did the only thing he possibly could; he ran.

    An intense jet of fire burst from Ho-Oh’s mouth, lapping along the ground and scorching the King’s robes. The King only ran faster, laughing madly as he tried to escape the ferocious flames. An unsighted root proved his undoing, as the King tripped and fell forwards, tumbling end over end. His grip on the GS Ball was lost, and it flew unsighted into a nearby stream where it sank and slowly drifted off with the current.

    Spitting out dirt, the King rolled over onto his back and beheld the terrifying sight of Ho-Oh descending, its talons and beak outstretched. Blindly, he groped for what he thought was the GS Ball beneath his body; he held it out at arm’s length and called.

    “Cyas, I summon you now! Protect your master from the savage Ho-Oh!”

    A feeling of blankness and dread spread across his body as he realized that it was not the GS Ball he held, but the stone sphere; worse, the small opening was pointing not at Ho-Oh, but at himself. His vision slowly faded out into a violet spectrum as the purple aura flowed from the stone and enveloped his body. As the atoms of his body broke apart, disintegrating him into a pure energy, he writhed and struggled, letting out a high-pitched scream of pain as he tried to avoid his own imprisonment. It was to no avail. The last thing he saw before he vanished from the world for centuries to come was the face of Ho-Oh staring down at him.

    “I was King,” he screamed, sobbing bitterly as the darkness claimed him; “I was King!

    And then he knew no more.

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    Well, I hope that you all enjoyed this chapter; it's much shorter than the last one but about the same length as most of the others, so I hope you aren't too disappointed with it! And hey, just over a week in between updates is absolutely fantastic for me! Especially considering updates have only occured monthly since the new year (=S). I'm glad to finally get these portions introduced/wrapped up though; the first part should have been written, oh, about ten chapters ago. Better late than never though, I guess.
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
    Pikashipping: Raikou's Test, Emotions
    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
    Other: Reaching Out, Welcome Home

  2. #52
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    sweet, hey, cyas would still be in the gs ball then, and the eighteen plates... nice little chapter
    Quote Originally Posted by Romke View Post
    Mmm, its a sandstorm based team and I dont know if spirittomb works well. I keep that 1 in mind Thanks! What about shedinja?

  3. #53
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    Sweet chapter man. I can't wait to see what Cyas looks like, unless he is Arceus, but if it is another pokemon then it would be awesome. I love the style of writing, and I honestly wonder where the baby Lugia disappeared to.

    Keep up the writing, I can't wait till the next chapter.

  4. #54
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    Oh my God.
    You're an amazing writer. Even though I don't like Advanceshipping all that much, I love this fanfic... a lot. I love your style, you mix description with plot evenly, and that's a great thing, imo. I'm so happy that May survived! When you posted that April Fool's post, I got really depressed because I thought she actually died. XD;
    I also love how Harley was nice to May, that was refreshing. Damn Drew, seriously. ><
    [IMG]http://i47.*******.com/k4dpxc.gif[/IMG]
    the dancing that captivated my heart;
    your selfishly nice gestures, the breathtaking sexiness you have
    those flashing gestures ;;; it makes me lose my breath -- x . x . x

  5. #55
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    Matkin22 you are an amazing writer. This is I think one of the first Fanfics I have ever read, and I must say it is amazing. I'm just wondering what was going through your head when you first started this fic. All those months ago. Just a testament to your skill! Keep up the awesome work!

    P.S. When the next chapter comes out, I will make a thorough rate and review!
    Last edited by lunarshadow; 8th July 2008 at 5:21 AM.
    3DS Friend Code: 2079-6549-2981
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    I am a shadow, I seek the ways of Hadou.
    I'll have you know, I am a Lucario.

  6. #56
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    Thanks a lot for the reviews, everyone. I'm glad to know that you're all enjoying it! After an exceedingly long delay, here is the next installment. There's a couple of surprises in here that you may not have expected, and a little twist at the end too. Hope you enjoy.

    Chapter 33: Reclaim


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    As the flashlight beams broke around the corner James turned with a Poke Ball in hand, instinctively shielding his eyes when the light shone onto his face. He heard several intakes of surprise and so enlarged his Poke Ball, ready to fight his way out.

    “James?” a pair of voices said incredulously.

    “Cassidy! Butch!” he exclaimed, squinting past the light. “What are you doing here?”

    “If you’d asked us a couple of days ago, the answer would have been to kill you,” Cassidy snarled. “As it is, we’re on a secret mission for Giovanni. I hope you’re not here to get in our way, for your sake.”

    “What do you mean, ‘for my sake’?” James asked loudly, his hand clenching the Poke Ball tightly. “Are you threatening me?”

    “You’d just better hope that you don’t antagonize me enough to start a battle,” she retorted. “You don’t want to end up the same way that Jessie and Meowth did.” James felt his heart pound at the names of his partners.

    “What did you do to them?” he demanded. Cassidy’s earlier words came to mind, and for a minute he thought his heart had failed. “Don’t tell me that... they can’t be dead!”

    “They almost were, until some punk kid stopped us at the end,” Cassidy growled. “Their resistance was absolutely pathetic. It was too easy to beat them. I can’t imagine you’d be any more difficult than them.”

    “Let me guess, four Pokemon against two... or was it five on two? If it was an even fight you wouldn’t find Jessie and Meowth so easy to beat.” He snorted. “Good luck in trying to take me down, one on one!”

    “For your information, it was two on three,” Cassidy growled, her eyes sparking dangerously. “And even when that punk kid interfered, he barely stopped us. It’s time for you to learn what true power looks like; maybe that will teach you some respect! Houndoom, Raticate! Destroy him!”

    “Wheezing, Cacnea! Go!” James roared.

    The four Pokemon stood stock-still, glaring at one another. The Houndoom took a step forwards, and James’s Wheezing instantly moved to protect his trainer. The tension in the air grew enormously as everyone waited for the other to make the first move.

    “Stop this,” Butch shouted, pushing his way past Cassidy. “This tunnel isn’t designed for Pokemon battles; if you two start a fight, it’ll collapse on top of us.” He turned to James. “We’re on a mission for Giovanni; why are you here?” he asked. James looked at him strangely for a moment before answering.

    “I’m here with Paul; Giovanni’s son,” he said. “Were both looking for an ancient object; I was told to search in the lab while he looked in Pallet Town.”

    “Isn’t it just a little bit possible that we’re both looking for the same thing?” Butch asked.

    “It’s possible,” James said after a pause.

    “It’s possible, but that’s not the case, we’re not after the GS Ball” a tall stranger said as he stepped out from the darkness behind Cassidy, his slight accent amplified in the silent tunnel.

    “You look familiar,” James said slowly, scrutinizing the young man. His unkempt blue hair hung down his back, and he wore his clothes in a completely carefree manner, a pair of sunglasses dangling from a gold chain around his neck. “And how do you know what I’m looking for?”

    “Yeah, I’m sure you’ve seen me around at HQ before,” he said carelessly. “I’m Damian; Giovanni’s second son, which would also explain why I know what you’re after. And despite what this quick-tempered woman seems to think, we’re both on the same side.”

    “Damian? Now I remember you!” James blurted. “Ten years ago you abandoned a Charmander in the forest!”

    “What? That weak little thing?” Damian chuckled. “I can’t believe you actually remember something like that; I’d forgotten all about that weakling years ago. Now, are we gonna stand here jawing all night, or are you going to enter the password so we can get on with our searches?” James eyed the three warily.

    “I want those Pokemon recalled before I turn my back,” he said. “I don’t trust they won’t attack me given our, ah, combative history.”

    “Cassy?” Damian asked impatiently when she made no move to retrieve her Houndoom and Raticate.

    “I’ve told you before; the name’s Cassidy, not Cassy!” she snapped.

    “I couldn’t care less what your name is if you do your job. Now get those Pokemon back in their Poke Balls before the sun rises and we get caught by Oak and the rest!” Damian snapped back. Grumbling, Cassidy recalled both her Pokemon and James turned to punch in the code he’d been given.

    “G...R...E...” he muttered, taking care each letter was in order, “L... O... W... Got it!” he said triumphantly as the keypad beeped, flashed green, and the pneumatic door slid open silently. Retrieving Cacnea and Wheezing, James stepped into the room, shielding his eyes automatically as a series of bright lights illuminated the dark room.

    “Look!” Butch called from behind James’s shoulder, pointing at the far wall. “There’s one hanging on the wall!”

    “This’ll be too easy,” Cassidy muttered, walking towards a large, spherical slab of stone and taking care to knock into James on her way.

    James didn’t even notice the provocation; his eyes were fixed on the stone, his lips suddenly dry. It looked to be roughly two feet long and fairly thick; from where he was standing, he could barely make out an inscription on the deep-red surface.

    “The Original One breathed alone before the universe came,” Butch read aloud, noticing James’s interest, before turning to the next. “The rightful bearer of a Plate draws from the Plate it holds.” James felt a slight shiver creep up his spine at the sound of that inscription. He was suddenly uncomfortably aware of the light green stone that was securely fastened inside his bag back in the field.

    “Damian, there’s only fifteen plates here,” Cassidy reported. “We’re missing three.”

    “Which ones?” he snapped.

    “The Insect Plate, the Zap Plate, and the Unknown Plate,” she answered.

    “Keep looking,” he said. “They may still be here, hidden away somewhere. James, if you see any stones like the ones on the wall hidden away while you look for the GS Ball, tell us right away.”

    “Sure,” James replied, his mind still on the stone wrapped in with his belongings. For a few moments, all was silent as the four rummaged through the room. James found himself slowly gravitating towards Damian as the time passed, until they were standing only a few feet apart; he chuckled humourlessly.

    “What?” Damian asked in obvious irritation.

    “You were wrong, you know,” James said. “You were wrong about the Charmander.”

    “Are you still strung up on that weak little thing?” Damian asked with a snort. “It’s been ten years; forget about it already.”

    “Weak?” he asked. “That little Charmander became the strongest Pokemon I’ve ever had the misfortune to battle against. Five years ago, as a Charizard, it beat an Articuno in battle!” He eyed Damian coldly. “The only weak one is you for releasing it and not letting it grow with care.” He shook his head. “You’re just like your brother,” he murmured.

    Anger flared briefly in Damian’s eyes, but he quickly masked his emotions. “You don’t say,” he said mildly. “Well if I ever have the opportunity to go against that Charizard, you’ll see just who the weak one is. Now if you don’t have anything worth saying, stand aside so I can get on with my search.” James opened his mouth to reply, but was halted by the sound of his loaned Poketch beeping.

    “Paul?” he asked, flipping the device open and revealing the communication screen.

    “Get back out here now,” Paul snapped. “The sun’s starting to rise; you’re wasting time in there. I found out from that idiot of a Professor where the GS Ball is, and we’re going to go get it now.”

    “Where is it?” James asked quickly.

    “Just get out here and follow me on your Wheezing. You’ll find out soon enough,” Paul said, before brusquely cutting off the communication. James stared at the blank screen for a moment before turning to the other occupants of the room.

    “Good luck with your search; I hope you find that green plate of yours,” he said. His eyes rested on Cassidy, pure contempt radiating towards her.

    “Next time we meet, you’d better be ready to beg for your life,” she growled.

    “I can’t wait,” he said mockingly, exiting the room. Silence passed for several moments, and then Damian turned to Butch.

    “Did you tell him what the Insect Plate looks like?” he asked.

    “No,” he replied.

    “Did you?” he asked Cassidy.

    “No,” she answered slowly.

    “Then how did he know what it looks like?” Damian asked. Realization suddenly hit Butch, and Cassidy began trembling with anger.

    “You mean... you mean to say...” she growled, rage clouding every syllable.

    “How do we get it now?” Butch asked.

    “Easy,” Damian snarled, a shadow crossing over his face. “We follow him and take it from him. Looks like you get your chance to battle him after all, Cassidy.”

    “I can’t wait,” she growled, punching a fist into her palm. “I can’t wait.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Silver grinned at the sound of the security alarms going off. In the few days since his escape, he’d scoped out the exterior of the Team Rocket headquarters with the help of the baby Fearow. They’d quickly found a way of getting

    inside, although it meant climbing several stories of the building that had been carved into the mountainside. It hadn’t bothered him unduly; he’d free-climbed both steeper and higher in his lifetime. What he hadn’t anticipated was the alarms going off when he broke through a window to climb into the building. Now he crouched almost panther-like, hidden in the shadows of the curving corridor, waiting. He didn’t have to wait long.

    A Rocket Grunt trotted down the hallway towards the security room, on his way to see what had caused the alarms to go off. A thick, meaty hand clamped around his mouth and another round his neck. He was swiftly dragged back into the shadows and came face to face with the only person he had ever seen who rivalled Giovanni in size. But in a hand-to-hand fight with this man, Giovanni would lose. The Grunt had no doubt about that in the least. This man who held him in such a deadly embrace had a strength that Giovanni did not, and there was both rage and savagery in his eyes.

    “Seen my Poke Balls?” Silver asked him softly, tightening his grip around the man’s neck ever so slightly. The Grunt’s eyes darted around the area, terrified. “It’s just you and me, kiddo,” Silver whispered. “We’re all alone here.” He noticed the fear in the Grunt’s eyes and chuckled.

    “Don’t worry; I’m not going to kill you. No, I’m going to look into your eyes as you answer my questions, and if I see even an iota of deception in them, then my friend here,” he nodded at the baby Fearow perched on his shoulder, “is going to gore out your eyes with its Drill Peck. Understand?” The Grunt nodded as fast as Silver’s grip would permit, his eyes wide.

    “Good. Now; do you know where my Poke Balls are?” The Grunt nodded. “Where are they?” he asked, taking his hand away from the Grunt’s mouth. The Grunt began shaking, and didn’t answer. “Where are they?” Silver demanded. Tears began leaking from the Grunt’s eyes, but still his mouth remained immobile. “I’m going to give you one last chance, and if you don’t answer me then I’ll make sure you never speak again. I ask you again; where are my Poke Balls!

    “In the security room,” the Grunt whispered, tears streaming down his face. Silver nodded, thinking, and then hit the man in the forehead with a swift rabbit punch. The Grunt collapsed, instantly unconscious.

    “A loyal fool, but a fool regardless,” Silver grunted, stripping the man of his uniform. “He’d be much better doing something decent for a living; why people join these evil organizations when they’re treated like such scum is just beyond me.”

    He dropped his coat to the ground and began trying to squeeze into the Grunt’s uniform. It was a tighter fit than he anticipated but he managed to get it on, although there were several inches of arm, leg, and his grey undershirt visible. He grabbed the black cap and placed it on his head, ensuring that his long grey mane was tightly rolled up underneath.

    “Well, how do I look?” he asked the Fearow. It squawked in response and he smiled grimly. “It won’t be on long; once I’ve got my Chikorita and Salamence, no Rocket will be able to stop me. As for this man...” he said, looking at the unconscious Grunt with menace in his eyes.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Grunt groaned, waking slowly from his unconsciousness. His head hurt like hell; no surprise really, not after a fast punch like that. He tried to get to his feet, but fell. He tried again, and again, each time with the same result. That was when he realized he was surrounded on all sides by thick, rough material. Squinting, he looked up and saw small peeks of sunlight poking through the rough knots. With fumbling fingers, he managed to untie some of them and pushed his head through the gap he’d created.

    He got the shock of his life.

    Cold wind rushed against his face, and when he looked down he could see both the forest and hard earth beneath him. He was trapped inside of a makeshift sack.

    Tied to the mountainside that made up headquarters.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The gigantic man burst through the doors of the Pokemon Centre, eliciting shrieks of surprise from the few patrons who were still awake at this time. He immediately spotted Forrest sitting with Dawn in a far corner, and stormed his way over. A scared Rey skidded through the doors several yards behind him; spotting the man cracking his knuckles as he approached the Pewter City Gym Leader, she took off running, trying her best keep up with his long strides.

    “Boy!” he roared. “I hear you’ve been insulting this girl behind me!” He jabbed his finger over his shoulder at Rey.

    “I did,” Forrest admitted after some hesitation. “And I would have apologized if she hadn’t stormed off the way she did.” The man stooped low so that his face was eye-to-eye with Forrest.

    “Please... don’t hurt him,” Rey whispered, her face white. It was obvious enough in her eyes that if these two fought, the gigantic man would snap Forrest like a twig. “I’m sure he didn’t mean it, and I said some nasty things too.” The man ignored her.

    “I want a fight,” he growled, and the little colour that was left drained out of Rey’s face; she turned to Dawn, a sick expression on her face. Dawn ignored her, her eyes full of concern as she looked down on Forrest. The man noted the expression in her eyes; concern, to be sure... and something more, perhaps..?

    “I guess I have no choice,” Forrest said slowly, meeting the man’s gaze. Rey gasped, and Dawn turned to the young Gym Leader.

    “Don’t do it Forrest, you’ll be torn apart!” she begged.

    “A Gym Leader never refuses a challenge,” he answered softly, refusing to look her in the eyes. “Shall we take this outside?” he asked the man.

    “A great idea,” he growled, turning and storming back out the doors.

    “You don’t have to do this, Forrest,” Dawn whispered.

    “I’ll be okay,” he answered, giving her a quick wink. “Just you watch.” He turned and followed the man out of the doors. Dawn looked at Rey, gave her head a great shake of disgust, and walked out after him. Trembling and white-faced, Rey trailed miserably behind.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash sat next to May’s bed, unmoving. From where Brock watched at the doorway, he appeared to be asleep. But the breeder knew that he was not.

    “Ash, you should get some sleep,” he said softly, approaching the trainer. “It’s 2 am. Paul can’t get here until tomorrow morning at the absolute earliest. You need to rest in case he arrives before we can leave.”

    “I can’t,” Ash whispered hoarsely back, his voice thick with exhaustion. “She needs me here... I need to be here... I can’t sleep on her. What if something goes wrong?”

    “Blissey is outside the door, and Nurse Joy’s office is just down the corridor,” Brock answered. “And besides, nothing will go wrong. The operation was dangerous, but the Heal Bell and Recover regenerated her blood and tissue perfectly. She won’t even have a scar. It took a lot out of her, and what she needs at the moment is rest to get back her strength.”

    “I should be here for when she wakes up,” Ash protested stubbornly. Brock sighed, and knew his friend would not be persuaded otherwise.

    “Alright Ash... try not to exhaust yourself too much. I guess we can always fly out tomorrow so you can rest then.” He clapped the trainer on the back and turned to leave the room. “Come on, Pikachu,” he said. “Let’s leave them alone for a bit.”

    “Chaah,” Pikachu yawned, nodding in agreement. He sprinted up onto Brock’s shoulder and the two left the room, Brock shutting the door softly behind them.

    Ash continued to sit at May’s side, his eyes unmoving from her face. Time lost all meaning as he gazed on her, her visage becoming his whole world. He did not notice his slowly diminishing range of vision, or the blurriness that accompanied it. He was not even aware of the darkness that claimed his consciousness as exhaustion and worry finally caught up to him.

    His head collapsed onto the mattress, his face turned towards hers as the sleep he had been depriving himself of claimed him at last.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dawn followed Forrest nervously as he went around the side of the Pokemon Centre. Her mind was filled with concern for the well-being of the slight, young Gym Leader. Several bright lights snapped on, and she winced as they scorched her retinas. Shielding her eyes, she slowly became accustomed to the glare and was both surprised and relieved to find herself standing on the sidelines of a battlefield.

    “One-on-one okay with you?” the man shouted.

    “I’m more of a two-on-two battler, but its fine by me!” Forrest shouted back.

    “Great,” the man grunted. He turned to Rey, who was only just drifting into the field. “One-on-one okay with you too?” he asked. She blinked.

    “What?” she asked. The man sighed.

    “Seems to me as if there’s some real bad blood between the two of you,” he said. “I always find that the best way to get that stuff out of my system is with a good and intense Pokemon battle! It’s you against Forrest, so is one-on-one okay with you?”

    “I guess,” she said, still a little confused.

    “Good! Then get over to the battle box!”

    “What about a referee?” Dawn asked.

    “As the Vermillion City Gym Leader, I’m fully qualified as a referee,” the man answered, striding over to the halfway mark on the sidelines. “Now, choose your Pokemon!” he roared to Forrest and Rey.

    “Steelix! Go!” Forrest shouted, releasing the gigantic and menacing snake-like Pokemon.

    “A ground-type; alright!” Rey said, finally gathering her wits about her. “Then I’ll go with Venusaur!” The ground shook as the massive Grass-type emerged and roared in anticipation.

    “Surge, this was what you were going for all along, wasn’t it?” Forrest shouted. Lt. Surge grinned.

    “Seemed like you two needed some time alone to sort out your issues, and this is the best way to do it!” he shouted back, raising both arms in the air. “Begin!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    May’s eyes fluttered open. For a brief moment she couldn’t remember what had happened, but then the memories rushed back into her consciousness. She instinctively reached a hand to her breast and was relieved to find that, not only did it feel undamaged beneath her hospital shirt, but there was no pain either.

    “Latias is an amazing healer,” she murmured, glad to know that her body was unchanged. She lay her arm back down and instantly jerked it back again when she felt it come into contact with something hairy. Turning her head to see what she had touched, she relaxed when she recognized Ash, his eyes closed, his breathing shallow, his face trained on hers in his sleep.

    “You stayed by me, all this time when I was asleep,” she whispered, her heart melting at the realization. “Still... you really shouldn’t be sleeping like this.” Tentatively, she sat up, placed her feet on the floor, and climbed out of bed. She had to catch her balance quickly as a wave of dizziness crashed against her, but it quickly passed. Moving around the side of the bed, she felt suddenly pleased. Her balance seemed to have improved from the ordeal, and when she reached Ash and tried to lift him up, he felt much lighter than he ordinarily would have done.

    She managed to get him into a fireman’s lift over her shoulder and carried him over to the door. Holding him carefully, she was able to squeeze the door open and slip through. “Which way to your bedroom?” she murmured to herself.

    “B-54” he muttered, still fast asleep. Stifling a giggle at his automatic response, May set off in the direction of his room.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Silver strolled into the Rocket’s security room with the Fearow on his shoulder, holding his hands behind his back and whistling a jaunty tune.

    “You’re late, S34,” a large, coarse man growled.

    “My apologies, Mr... ah... Tyson,” Silver answered, reading the man’s nametag surreptitiously. “I was called in to see Giovanni while on patrol.”

    “Well that would explain why the alarm went off in your sector,” Tyson grunted, before turning back to the rest of the security agents already gathered in the room. “Now, the alarm went off in Security Sector 34. We don’t know what caused it; the cameras shorted out only moments before the incident happened. What we can guess is...” he trailed off, realizing that Silver was still standing behind him, looking innocently around the room. “Back in line, S34!” he roared, flecks of spit shooting out and hitting him in the chin.

    Silver casually wiped the spit off his face, flicking it to the ground, before responding “Yes, sir,” in a slightly insulting manner and moving into the crowd.

    “What we can guess,” Tyson continued, ignoring him, “is that an unknown person or Pokemon broke into or out of the building. What they are or were after is anyone’s guess, but I want you all to divide up into teams of two. Sweep the building and outside perimeter, and report in at ten minutes intervals or when you’ve found something important. Go; S34, stay here a moment.”

    Silver had lost the thread of the conversation from his scanning of the room. He winked at the Fearow on his shoulder and nodded in the direction of glass cabinet, the only storage area in the room under lock and key.

    “S34!” Tyson roared, jerking Silver back into awareness.

    “Yessir! Understood!” he said smartly, jerking into a rough salute. Tyson glared at him and waved the other agents out of the room.

    “Sit down,” he growled. “I don’t appreciate your insubordination, S34. I don’t think you understand just how dangerous this situation is. A dangerous man broke out of here two days ago, and he could be after Giovanni. We need to find and contain him now. I have no doubt that he’s looking for the Poke Balls we took off of him.”

    “You mean the Poke Balls in that cabinet over there?” Silver asked innocently. Tyson looked taken aback for a moment, and then suspicious.

    “Wait a minute...” he breathed, ripping off the cap on Silver’s head. “Red alert, red alert,” he began shouting into the commlink at his belt. “Silver has broken in, I repeat; Silver has broken in. He-”

    Silver lunged, ripping the commlink out of Tyson’s hands and smashing it against the wall. “Oh no you don’t,” he breathed, clamping an arm around his neck. “Fearow, go!” The baby Fearow leapt off of Silver’s shoulder and flew for the cabinet, its beak spinning and aimed at the lock.

    “Red alert... red alert...” a cool, pre-recorded female voice spoke from the intercom on the wall. “Moltres is loose; Moltres is loose. Special Forces being deployed for retrieval; all others take cover. Red alert... red alert...”

    Tyson struggled with all his worth against Silver’s grip. Silver winced as teeth dug into his arm, legs kicked at him madly, and his arms were scored with scratches. “Enough of this,” Silver growled, lifting Tyson with both arms and heaving him bodily against the wall. The Security Agent collapsed amid the debris that fell from the impact, unconscious.

    The lock on the cabinet snapped open, and the Fearow squawked in triumph. Silver ran over and wrenched the door open, gathering up the four Poke Balls inside. The room shook violently, and Silver pocketed the Poke Balls quickly before calling the Fearow to his side. “Hold on kid, this is going to be rough,” he shouted as the room trembled more and more.

    “There he is!” a voice shouted from the hallway; Silver turned and saw four of the Security Grunts. “Get him!” one of them shouted, and all four began charging towards him. The floor gave way beneath their feet, and all four screamed in shock as they fell. A massive blur of moving flame appeared from the gap and burst headfirst into the exterior wall. Silver looked to the window and grinned as he saw Moltres fly past, finally free from its imprisonment.

    “You won’t... get away...” Tyson gasped, slowly coming around and crawling towards Silver painfully.

    “I already have,” Silver replied, grabbing one of the Poke Balls in his pocket. He walked back a few steps and ran through the closed window, disappearing from sight amid the shattered glass.

    For a moment, Tyson could barely believe what had happened. Then the massive shape of a Salamence swooped past the window, and he let out a howl of rage at the sound of Silver’s mocking laughter before collapsing into unconsciousness once again.

    Outside, Silver held onto his Salamence tightly, revelling in the freedom that had been denied to them both for so long. He urged his Salamence on faster as he tried to catch up to Moltres, loving the feel of the wind in his long unkempt hair. “Let’s go!” he roared, the Fearow on one shoulder and his beloved Chikorita on the other.

    An intense blast of yellow light smashed directly into Moltres from above, sending it screeching into the ground where it lay pinned under the Hyper Beam. Too far away to see what was happening properly, Silver was stunned when the Legendary bird glowed white and turned to stone. “What?” he shouted in disbelief.

    “It’s been a long time, Silver,” a cold, calculating voice said. He looked up and saw a second Salamence slowly descending from the clouds, Hunter J standing calmly on its back.

    “Cousin!” he said mockingly. “What a coincidence! You’re just in time to battle!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    May lay Ash gently on his bed before returning to the doorway. She stayed there a moment, watching him sleep silently. Warmth filled her heart as she thought about how he had been by her side from the moment she had collapsed. He had been with her when she was operated on, he had snapped her out of her delirium... he hadn’t even left her so he could sleep.

    The thoughts flowed through her mind, preoccupying her so much that she didn’t realize she was slowly drifting towards him. She didn’t realize when he opened his eyes and whispered her name. She wasn’t even aware of kissing him on his forehead. But when he kissed her softly back, she regained her sense of reality and gladly slipped beneath the covers with him.

    To Ash, in his sleep deprived and mentally exhausted state, she did not appear so much to be May as she did an ethereal Goddess. He was held by the spell of her tender beauty; by the way she locked her arms and legs around him; by the way their lips melted together, and they moved as one. Curious sensations filled them both as they lay together, slight gasping noises echoing around the room. There was a sudden surge and then May felt an intense, burning sensation of pain that was slowly replaced by a state of euphoria.

    Exhausted and trembling, May rolled out of the bed and made her unsteady way back to her room on shaky legs.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Bye,” Dawn called out cheerfully to Nurse Joy the next morning. “Thanks for everything!”

    “Yeah, thanks a lot!” Ash agreed. ‘If it wasn’t for you we would have never been able to get that thing out of May. We owe you everything.”

    “You owe me nothing,” Nurse Joy countered, smiling. “It’s my job to help out anybody who needs it, in whatever form possible.”

    “Well, thanks anyways,” Ash said. “Things could have turned out a lot worse if you hadn’t helped us out.” Nurse Joy waved the thanks off and turned to Forrest.

    “Are you going back to Pewter City now?” she asked. Forrest shook his head.

    “I’m going to stay here and train with Lt. Surge for a while longer; he’s still got a lot to teach me about girls!” he said with a wink towards Dawn and Rey. Lt. Surge laughed and cuffed his head, while Dawn gave a little blush. Rey merely harrumphed in response. Her battle with Forrest had been a close one, but he beat her at the very end. Still, she supposed that in a way, Lt. Surge had been right. She may have lost the battle, but she didn’t feel nearly as antagonistic towards the young Gym Leader as she did before.

    “Hey, Ash; I’ve got something for you,” Lt. Surge said, beckoning him over, a wrapped package in his hand.

    “What is it?” he asked curiously, taking it from the large Gym Leader. Surge shrugged.

    “Dunno. It’s something called a ‘Zap Plate’, but I have no clue what it does. It’s the traditional inheritance of a Vermillion City Gym Leader, and has been passed down for at least three hundred years. Professor Oak wanted to study it, so could you give it to him when you see him next?” Ash nodded. “Thanks, kid. Good luck in your rematch with Cynthia!”

    “Thanks, Lieutenant,” Ash grinned. He turned to Forrest. “See you around soon?”

    “You know it,” the Gym Leader smiled. “Bye everyone!”

    “Bye!” Ash, Brock, May, Dawn, and Rey all chorused in returned.

    “Pika!” Pikachu added.

    As they walked down the road out of town, Ash dropped back a little to talk with May. Unlike her, he had no recollection of the night before, and so she seemed very quiet and subdued to his perception.

    “Are you okay, May?” he asked. She smiled at him.

    “Don’t worry, Ash, I’m fine,” she said. “I’m just a little tired, that’s all. Really.” Reassured, Ash nodded and increased his pace to catch up with Brock and Rey. May sighed as the stared after him. In reality, her hips ached, and there was a dull pain from deep within her body. But she didn’t care.

    She had never felt more alive.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well, I don't know if I got everything worded as well as I could have. The majority of this chapter was written in the last two days, so I'm not entirely satisfied with every little detail. Still, let me know what you think!
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
    Pikashipping: Raikou's Test, Emotions
    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
    Other: Reaching Out, Welcome Home

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    You are an amazing writer Matkin I can belive how good this fic is, I'm not close to your level and you are only born 2 days befor me

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post
    Euphoria
    I hade to look this word up to know exactly what it means

    As Ash and May have had their moment in bed I think I can picture how it goes from her

    I can't wait to read the battles with Ash vs Paul and Silver vs Hunter J

    And I hope your next chapter will be as great as this one
    Without soccer and girls life is wasted!!
    Liverpool, Rosenborg and Rangers is my heart and soul

    | | | | | | |
    Credit to Misty-Fan-Forever for making the banner | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | May/Haruka<3

  8. #58
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    i do hope the next chapter doesn't take to long CAUSE I REALLY REALLY WANT MORE
    nice chapter, i'm just wondering how long the effects of poke rus will last on may as i don't like the idea of it pernermently making her some super woman (over exageration but you get what i mean). interesting little scene there thats gonna make me go back and check the rating (not that i didn't like it but very unexpected). would have liked to see more of forrest and rey's battle but i supose it was rather insignificant
    Ya done good
    Quote Originally Posted by Romke View Post
    Mmm, its a sandstorm based team and I dont know if spirittomb works well. I keep that 1 in mind Thanks! What about shedinja?

  9. #59
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    Wow. I am in shock. I think this is the fastest update I've done since last year. You must all be pretty surprised! I hope you enjoy it though!

    Chapter 34: Plan


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    The blue creature padded softly through the forest. It was tired. It was hungry. It was lost, lonely, and it was scared. Thick tears splashed from its jagged eyes as it walked. Since it’s return to consciousness after being hurled away by the explosion, that was all it had done. It ate and drank what little it could find as it moved, and had not even stopped to sleep. It was desperate to find a hint, any hint, of civilization. Of humans.

    For days now it had wandered in this dark, decrepit part of the forest, likely going around in large circles, but unable to do anything but. The thick foliage prevented it from using the sun or stars to navigate, and it had become so used to being airborne that it had forgotten what other signs it could look for. It stumbled briefly, tripping over a root. Only it’s sheer determination to find its trainer kept it from falling, although its movements were slowly becoming more and more erratic. It was in dire need of help.

    Exhausted, starving, and dehydrated, it did not notice when it at last came upon what it had searched for all this time; a path, leading out of the forest. It did not notice the sudden spurt of heat from the sun that struck the top of its head, or the feel of the hard and dusty ground as it slowly collapsed, its strength and stamina completely gone. It did not notice when its vision flickered and faded, or when the pains that wracked its body came to a halt.

    It did not know that it was dying.

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    Dawn noticed it first, a seemingly grotesque blue lump that lay in the shadows along the side of the path. It would have been unnoticeable had it not given a slight twitch, it’s colouring almost impossible to discern amid the darkness cast by the trees along the edge of the trail.

    “What is that?” she murmured, coming to a halt. Rey, who had been chatting animatedly with Brock and not noticed that the Coordinator had stopped, crashed right into her, knocking them both down in a tangle of limbs. Brock sighed as he helped extricate them while Ash and the slowly-moving May caught up to them.

    “What exactly was the whole point of that, Dawn?” Rey groused as she clambered back to her feet, her skirt now caked with dust. Dawn sighed.

    “I asked what that thing was,” she said, pointing into the shadows, “but you were too busy yapping to hear me.” Rey opened her mouth to issue a sharp retort, but May was intrigued and cut across her snarky comeback.

    “What thing?” she asked, peering into the growth. “I can’t see anything.”

    “I can,” Brock said, suddenly sounding worried. He strode into the shadows on the opposite side of the path and let out an exclamation. “It’s a Wobbuffet! And it’s in really bad shape.”

    “How bad?” Ash asked, running over.

    “Critical,” Brock answered, checking the Pokemon’s eyes, heart rate, temperature, muscle response, and hydration. “It’s in worse shape than I’ve ever seen a Pokemon in my life. If we don’t get it to a Pokemon Centre now, it’s going to die.”

    “What’s wrong with it?” Rey asked.

    “It’s dehydrated,” Brock answered. “It looks as though it hasn’t slept in days either. It may be that its water source dried up for some reason, so it’s spent the last few days looking for a new one, without stopping to sleep.”

    “How long does it have?” Dawn asked, a bite of fear in her voice. Brock did a couple more quick checks before answering.

    “Hours, if that.”

    “We’ve got water; can’t we just pour some down its throat?” Rey asked. Brock shook his head adamantly.

    “It’s too far gone for that,” he said. “It drove itself so hard that it collapsed from exhaustion. The only thing its body can do now is breathe, which means that its epiglottis won’t function. If we give it a drink, the water will just run down into its lungs and it’ll drown.” May shuddered at the sound of that.

    “Is it just me, or does this Wobbuffet look familiar?” Ash asked, leaning in for a closer look and frowning. “Could it be Team Rocket’s Wobbuffet?”

    “You think it got separated?” Dawn asked, confused.

    “Team Rocket have been blasted off so many times that I really wouldn’t be surprised if one of them were to get separated eventually,” Ash answered. Brock grabbed a Poke Ball from his belt, enlarged it, and gently tapped the Wobbuffet with the button at the centre. A red light formed over the Pokemon, but before it could get sucked into the Poke Ball the light disintegrated.

    “Well, it’s not wild, whatever it is,” he decided. He closed his eyes and massaged his temples; what he had to say wouldn’t be received well.

    “It’s impossible, Brock,” May said softly, and he snapped his gaze towards her, surprised. “You say the Wobbuffet only has hours to live. Vermillion City is over a day away now.”

    “We deliberately went in the wrong direction and took a long detour around the city to try and throw Paul off our trail,” Brock countered.

    “And it took us two days to do that; you won’t make it in time, especially not if ou have to carry it. And what if Paul is still there?”

    “He’s looking for Ash, not me.”

    “He heard you on the videophone with Oak; he knows that you’re travelling with Ash. And what if he tries to use you as bait to lure Ash to him?” Brock paced angrily, every one of his arguments being eroded.

    “So what do we do?” he yelled. “Leave it to die?”

    “No; we keep going to Anabel’s,” Ash broke in.

    “That’s even further away than Vermillion City!” Brock shouted in exasperation. “How are we supposed to get there on time, hmm?”

    “We’re too far north to go to Viridian City,” Ash answered. “The Vermillion area is too dangerous because of Paul, which leaves the Battle Tower as our only option.”

    “You still haven’t said how we’re supposed to get there,” Brock growled. In response Ash tossed four Poke Balls into the air, releasing Charizard, Pidgeot, Latias, and Staraptor.

    “We fly,” he answered.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Anabel wasn’t entirely certain when Ash and his friends would be arriving. With him, it could be anywhere between a couple of days and a couple of months. So she wasn’t exactly expecting it when, as she took a rare moment to relax on the Battle Tower, a Pidgeot appeared on the horizon, clutching something blue in its talons. She was even more surprised when it landed on the balcony and deposited what appeared to be a dangerously weak Wobbuffet at her feet.

    “Hello,” she said, a little uncertainly. “Umm... I hope this doesn’t seem too rude, but why have you brought me a Wobbuffet?”

    “I can explain,” Rey answered tensely, jumping from the back of a hovering Staraptor onto the balcony. Anabel almost had a heart attack. “I’m a friend of Ash’s,” Rey said quickly. “We were on our way here and found this Wobbuffet on the side of the road. It’s suffering from extreme dehydration and exhaustion. It’s almost dead, and may only have minutes left now.”

    Anabel nodded and quickly called out her Alakazam. “Take this girl and Wobbuffet and teleport them both to the hospital wing. Now!” The Alakazam spared time for a quick nod before it vanished, taking the girl and the Pokemon with it.

    The Salon Maiden held a hand to her heart and took several deep breaths, turning and leaning against the railing. The girl had given her a real scare, but it could hardly be helped. Besides, she was there on Ash’s behalf. And if Ash needed something done, she’d gladly do whatever it was. The realization that Ash was on his way made her groan inwardly. Pidgeot and Staraptor were incredibly fast flyers, but he wouldn’t be too far behind them.

    “I won’t even have time to change, let alone clean the place up,” she moaned, keeping her face glued to the horizon. As anticipated, she didn’t have long to wait; in a matter of moments three shapes became discernable above the tree line. They quickly resolved themselves into identifiable shapes; a Charizard, a legendary Latias, and most bizarrely, what appeared to be a flying Sudowoodo.

    “Good to see you all again,” she shouted as they came in to land, May and Dawn on Charizard closely followed by Ash on Latias. “Could you call ahead next time so I can clean up?” May slid off of Charizard and fondly embraced the violet-haired trainer.

    “Good to see you too, Anabel.”

    “Where’s the Wobbuffet?” Brock asked as he jumped off of Sudowoodo, not wasting time on a greeting.

    “In the hospital wing with the girl who brought it here,” Anabel answered. “Here, I’ll take you down now.”

    “Thanks,” Brock answered, the stress and worry evident on his face as he recalled his Sudowoodo.

    “You all just relax up here,” Anabel said to Ash, May, and Dawn as she led Brock into the Battle Tower. “I’ll be back in a moment.”

    “Sure thing, Anabel,” Dawn answered, still gingerly trying to get off of Charizard. Ash took pity on her and helped to lift her down before turning to Pidgeot and Staraptor.

    “Thanks for bringing Rey and the Wobbuffet here so quickly,” he said, softly rubbing their neck feathers and causing them to coo with pleasure. “You guys may have just saved that Pokemon’s life.”

    “Pigeoh!” Pidgeot nodded, closing its eyes in pleasure at the rubbing.

    “Stahh, raptah stahh,” Staraptor said, gently knocking Ash with the blade on its head.

    “I think Staraptor wants to do some training with you,” Dawn said mischievously, noting how eager the flying-type seemed to be at flying again. “It’s been a while after all.” Ash sighed and sat down.

    “I know... I wanted all of my Pokemon on me for my Battle Colosseum challenges, but when it got destroyed I couldn’t exactly leave them at Professor Oak’s, could I? Mind, they could have stopped Paul threatening my Mom in a heartbeat...”

    “You shouldn’t keep beating yourself up over that,” May said gently, taking his hands in hers. “It’s not something any of us would have expected. How could you have known that Paul would want the GS Ball, that he would track it from Johto to Pallet Town and threaten your mother over it? We don’t even know what he wants the GS Ball for, or what’s in it.”

    “You’re right,” Ash muttered, “but it doesn’t make me feel any better about it. He’s after the GS Ball, and he knows...” His voice trailed off, his face contorting into an expression of inner torment. “He thinks you have it, May,” he whispered. “He’s after you.” May nodded her head.

    “I know,” she said, “but I’m not worried about that.”

    “Why?” he asked.

    “Because you have it, Ash,” Dawn interjected. “Paul is an incredibly powerful and dangerous trainer now. There are only a handful of people on the planet who have even a chance of defeating him in battle now.”

    “I don’t see how that helps us much,” Ash retorted.

    “No?” Dawn asked. “You’re one of those people, Ash. And you’re also the only trainer in existence who Paul is afraid of.”

    “Afraid of?” Ash exclaimed, jumping to his feet. “Paul’s beaten me in battle more times than I count.”

    “And you beat him when it mattered,” Dawn countered. “He knows, deep down, that you are a stronger and more resourceful trainer than he is. He battles for his own arrogance; you battle for your Pokemon.”

    The GS Ball has to stay with me, Ash realized, sitting down slowly. It’s too dangerous for anyone else to have it. Well, maybe Cynthia or Lance, but I don’t want to drag them into this too... He felt a tugging at his sleeve and saw Latias in her human form, holding his arm. There was worry and concern in her eyes, but there was trust there too. As he gazed into her eyes, he nodded slowly; he knew that he had to keep hold of the GS Ball, and by doing that protect his friends.

    “I remember Paul,” Anabel said softly from the shadows, causing Ash, May, Dawn, Latias, Pidgeot, Staraptor, and Charizard to jump. “He came here after losing to you in the Sinnoh League. He was unusually harsh to his Pokemon, and I got a distinctly dangerous vibe from him. I was glad when he left. And now you say he’s after something called the GS Ball, which you have?”

    “Yeah,” Ash answered.

    “So the odds are good that he’ll track you here,” she stated. Ash laughed harshly.

    “With Paul, this isn’t a question of whether he’ll track us here, but when,” he said.

    “Hang on,” Dawn said suspiciously, “just how much did you overhear?” Anabel hesitated.

    “Enough,” she admitted. Truth was, she had only given Brock directions to the hospital wing before returning, but she would rather die than reveal the jealousy she had felt from witnessing the slightly private moment between Ash and May. Ash got up from his seat and walked to the edge of the balcony.

    “I’m sorry for bringing everyone here at such short notice,” he said to Anabel softly. “I’ll be out of your hair tomorrow though.”

    “What do you mean?” she asked, surprised.

    “I can’t stay here too long. Paul’s tracking me, and he won’t stop until he finds and battles me. I can’t put you, your staff, or my friends in danger anymore.”

    “So you’re just going to go and run off?” Anabel asked, anger in her voice. “That’s a bit cowardly, don’t you think?”

    “Not run away,” Ash answered quietly. “I’m going to challenge him.”

    “What?” Dawn shrieked, jumping up.

    “No!” May shouted.

    “Are you crazy?” Anabel asked. “You don’t even know if Paul is alone. You may be able to hold your own against him, but you won’t have a chance if he’s got others on his side.” Ash was silent, digesting this possibility. Then, without a word, avoiding the heated and accusing glances radiating on him, he went to Charizard and climbed on the fire-type’s back, Pikachu leaping up after him.

    “Where are you going?” May asked, moving to his side.

    “To think,” Ash said after a pause. “I’ll be back in an hour or two.” The tone of his voice and his posture told May that there was no chance of changing his mind, or of going with him. She nodded, accepting his decision.

    “Stay safe... don’t be too long,” she whispered, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek. He touched the spot where she had kissed him gently.

    “I won’t,” he said, before taking off with Staraptor and Pidgeot in his wake. Anabel almost had another heart attack when Latias took a running leap off of the balcony, but her fright was quickly lost at the sight of Latias soaring up and joining the three Pokemon already in flight.

    “This is so stupid,” Dawn groused, watching Ash fly away.

    “He’s just doing what he thinks is right,” Anabel said, coming to his defence.

    “No, no, no,” Dawn said, shaking her head. “You misunderstood me; I meant, when was the last time Ash ever did any serious thinking?”

    The three women stared at each other a moment before bursting into laughter. They all knew that coming up with ideas was not Ash's greatest strength.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “How much longer da we hafta keep walkin’?” Meowth grumbled, pushing aside a fern that was obscuring his vision.

    “As long as it takes,” Jessie answered. “We have to keep going for as long as we can. Once we reach the coast, we can catch a ferry to Sinnoh. Cassidy won’t follow us there, and we’ll be safe. We just have to avoid any known Rocket locations on the way.”

    “Are ya sure we’re goin’ da right way?” Meowth asked.

    “Of course!” Jessie answered, sounding insulted. “If my calculations are right, the north coast is only another day’s walk away.” She stepped out from behind a tree and saw Rocket headquarters in the distance.

    “Oh no,” Meowth sighed. He looked up at Jessie accusingly. “Ya sure dem calculations are right?” he asked.

    “I don’t understand where I went wrong,” she muttered. “I followed the sun; it sets in the north, so we just go towards the sunset.” Meowth groaned and slapped a paw to his face.

    “Da sun rises in da east an’ sets in da west, you idiot! You bin leadin’ us back ta da base all dis time!”

    “This is trouble,” Jessie muttered going pale.

    “You’re tellin’ me!” Meowth shouted.

    “No! Meowth, run!” Jessie screamed, pointing at the sky and backing up to the tree line. Meowth looked to the sky, squinted, and opened his mouth to scream, rooted in shock at the sight of a massive Salamence falling towards them at high speed.

    “Too late,” he moaned, immobile.

    “Meowth!” Jessie screamed, her face white as the massive dragon-type crashed into her friend, sending up a massive cloud of dust that hid the scene from her view.

    In the air, Hunter J gazed from the back of her Salamence, her goggles easily piercing the dust as she searched for any sign of movement. There was none.

    “Good,” she murmured to herself before raising her voice for the benefit of her computer logs. “Battle against Silver is a success. Subject terminated.”


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash had been flying for no more than ten minutes before subconsciously directing Charizard to land by subtly shifting his weight forward. It was a technique that he had slowly honed since his victory in the Sinnoh League, directing his Pokemon through body language in addition to words. It had proven useful in his battles against the Elite Four, and it had in turn helped him to read the body language of his Pokemon better too.

    Charizard landed gracefully in a small clearing and Ash slid off his old friend, giving him a grateful pat in the process. Pidgeot and Staraptor perched comfortably in two sturdy trees, and Latias hovered a few inches above the ground before melding into her human appearance and dropping lightly to the ground.

    Ash stood in the centre of the clearing and, in one fluid motion, released all of his Pokemon. Floatzel, Grotle, Infernape, Gallade, Bulbasaur, Kingler, Muk, Tauros, Snorlax, Heracross, Bayleef, Cyndaquil, Totodile, Noctowl, Donphan, Swellow, Sceptile, Corphish, Torkoal, Gliscor, and Glalie. They arranged themselves into a circle around him and he stood there, looking each one in the eye, enjoying the friendship, the companionship, the deep bond and love they all shared with each other.

    “I’m sorry. To all of you,” he said, looking each one of his friends in the eye. “I haven’t trained or battled with you anywhere close to enough recently. Since the Colosseum and Professor Oak’s lab both burned down, it’s been very tough to do any of that. As soon as I finish this last journey, we’ll get back to our usual schedule. But...” he let this hang in the air for a moment and then sighed.

    “Some of you will remember Paul,” he said, and there was a chorus of cries in response. “He’s following us, trying to get something that we have: the GS Ball.” He saw the eyes of Bulbasaur, Charizard, and Bayleef widen with recognition as he placed the ancient Poke Ball on the ground; possibly Snorlax and Cyndaquil remembered it too, but Ash could never tell if their eyes were wide or not.

    “He tracked it to Pallet Town and threatened my Mom over it,” Ash continued, “and no matter how much we avoid him, sooner or later he will catch up to us.” He looked each and every one of his Pokemon in the eyes. “I’ll need you, all of you, to help me fight him off,” he said. “We don’t know what he wants it for; as far as we know it’s impossible to open or transport. But if Paul wants it, you can bet it isn’t for anything good.” He looked up at the sky, closing his eyes in concentration.

    I need your help, he thought. There was silence, and so he tried again. I know you can hear my thoughts; you told me so yourself. And I know that you’ve been following us from a distance these last few days. You told me that if I was ever in need of your help, all I needed to do was call for you and you would come.

    I need your help now; will you come?


    There was silence once more, and then a small object manifested itself in the sky. Slowly, it descended until its feet touched ground and it faced Ash.

    You asked for my help and I have come, Mewtwo said. Do not explain the situation to me; I gleaned enough knowledge from your thoughts as you spoke. What is it you need for me?

    “Your help in planning what to do with it,” Ash answered. “It’s only a matter of time before Paul catches me up, and I need to have a plan to deal with him.”

    You need me for that? Mewtwo asked, his tone expressing slight cynicism.

    “Mewtwo, we all know that I don’t plan very well,” Ash said. “I can do okay in the short-term, but in the long-term I’m hopeless. I need your help to come up with a plan on what to do with the GS Ball.”

    The answer is simple, Mewtwo responded after only a moment’s thought. The GS Ball needs to be destroyed. Many of the Pokemon expressed surprise at this statement. It may not even be possible. But it’s the only way to make sure that Paul can never use it.

    “Pheessh corphish cawr?” Corphish asked, waving one pincer questioningly. Ash shook his head.

    “There’s nothing inside it,” he said. “If there was, we would have been able to call it out.” Coincidentally, at that moment the GS Ball twitched. They all stared at it a moment, before Mewtwo broke the silence.

    You are wrong, he said. There is something inside this device. What that may be, I do not know. All I can tell you is that it is a being far more ancient and powerful than any creature alive today.

    “You want to destroy the GS Ball when there is another creature inside of it?’ Ash asked, incredulous. Mewtwo was silent a moment.

    I have a practical mind, not one ruled by emotion, he answered. I understand that the destruction of another creature is abhorrent to you. But know that evil of the darkest kind shrouds this device. Whether that comes from the device itself or the being inside, I cannot say. You must understand that if this device is ever opened, a terrible calamity shall befall the planet, and all who live on it. In the hands of one as our rival Paul, no good shall ever come from it. Destruction is the only option.

    He turned and looked up at the sky. I must go, he said tensely. I shall be nearby if ever you need my help again.

    “Wait!” Ash called, before Mewtwo could take off.

    What? Mewtwo asked.

    “I need to know,” Ash said. “Before, when you were levitating May outside of Vermillion City... You said that there was a dark presence around her that your powers could not touch. Was that caused by the GS Ball?” In response, Mewtwo held out a paw which began glowing lavender. The GS Ball glowed lavender in turn but did not move an iota, no matter how much Mewtwo tried to move it.

    The darkness I sensed has left your young friend, Mewtwo answered. It is centralized here in this clearing and, when you next pick it up and carry it, shall transfer itself over to you. His eyes bored deep into Ash’s. This is a deadly device, he said quietly. Continued possession shall only lead down one path: death.

    With that, the legendary psychic-type turned and launched himself into the sky. Ash stared after him a moment and then sat down on a fallen log between Latias and Noctowl, his head in his arms. Latias put her arms around him, nuzzling his cheek with the top of her head. He hugged her in return, glad of the comfort she provided. In turn, the rest of his Pokemon gathered around, doing their best to give one big group hug to Ash. They stayed that way for a long time, Ash and Latias in each other’s arms, and the other Pokemon giving what strength and reassurance they could.
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
    Pikashipping: Raikou's Test, Emotions
    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
    Other: Reaching Out, Welcome Home

  10. #60
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    Nov 2007
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    Canada
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    Some of you are going to have a heart attack at this; two updates in two days, and three in one week! Well, this chapter is shorter than the last few, but it's as long as it needs to be. Hopefully you'll all enjoy it.

    Chapter 35: Realization


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    Brock stepped out onto the balcony and slumped into a chair, exhausted. “It’s going to be okay,” he said, forestalling their questions. “We got an intravenous drip into its arm and started filling its body back up with fluids. It’ll take a day or two before it’s completely recovered, but it isn’t in danger anymore.”

    “That’s a relief,” May said, letting out a held breath. Brock nodded.

    “It’s all thanks to Rey, Pidgeot, and Staraptor that the Wobbuffet is alive,” he said. “If they hadn’t gotten here as quickly as they did...”

    “You don’t give yourself enough credit, Brock,” Anabel said. “You were the one who knew that it was dying, and you were the one who managed to send Rey on ahead with it.” She frowned for a brief moment. “Where is Rey, anyways?” she asked.

    “Downstairs on the battlefield,” Brock answered. “Her ego took a real blow when she lost to my brother; I think it reminded her a bit too much of the way she lost to Koga and ended her Pokemon journey.” He sighed. “I met her a couple of times in Pallet Town when I visited with Ash. She’s a nice girl – most of the time – but she can act very nasty towards people who she thinks are beneath her when it comes to battling.”

    “Why?” May asked, confused.

    “From what I understand, Koga was very harsh towards her,” Brock answered. “He ended the battle early and told her she would never be a great trainer. She was crushed, and her dreams of being the best died. Since then she’s resented trainers who she sees as weaker than herself, thinking that they’ll grow and go on to be far more successful than she ever was. It’s why she was so antagonistic towards Forrest; she couldn’t accept that someone so much younger than her could already be a Gym leader. And it took a battle with him to prove otherwise, and for her to respect him for his ability.”

    “So she’s trying to get back some of her confidence,” Dawn said.

    “That’s right,” Brock agreed. “That match was the first official battle she’s had in ten years. She was overconfident and lost because of it, but I think it relit a spark of ambition that’s been smouldering inside her all this time. She still wants to be the best, and now she’s been given a second chance. Emotionally, anyways.”

    “Do you think she’ll compete in a League?” Anabel asked him.

    “Gym badges never expire,” Brock answered. “She still has five Kanto badges registered to her, so she only needs three more. And she’s had ten years of training with her Venusaur, along with her other Pokemon. Anything’s possible, I suppose.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash climbed up the stairs of the Battle Tower; he had flown on Pidgeot on the way back, but rather than landing on the balcony he had directed the flying-type to land at the entrance instead, preferring the extra time it gave him to think as he climbed.

    He paused three levels up at the entrance to the battlefield. Inside he noticed Rey, her face red with exertion as she battled her Venusaur against a Xatu. He watched her a moment before making his presence known.

    “Doing a little training?” he asked. Rey started and turned before nodding.

    “Yeah,” she said. “It’s been a while since I got any serious training done, and Venusaur and Xatu both need the workout.”

    “So this is your Xatu?” Ash asked, walking up to take a close look at the regal psychic-type. Rey nodded.

    “I caught her as a Natu six years ago,” she said. “I’ve never really battled with her that much, but we’ve trained an awful lot and she evolved a couple of months ago because of it.” She sighed. “The only problem is, when I try to train her against Venusaur I’m commanding both of them. And because I do that, I know exactly what move is going to come next from both of them.”

    “Why is that a problem?” Ash asked.

    “Because I never let Venusaur lose,” Rey answered. “I’m biased in her favour because we’ve been together for so long; Xatu can never win.”

    “Why don’t you train her against some of your other Pokemon?” Ash asked. Rey let out a bitter laugh.

    “My training legacy,” she said. “I only have two other Pokemon, and they’re both too weak to battle Xatu.” Ash held up a hand, stopping her.

    “Never call your Pokemon weak,” he said. “They may not be strong enough to defeat Xatu, but that doesn’t make them weak. It may not seem like there’s a difference, but there is. Saying that a Pokemon is ‘too weak’ just demoralizes them. And besides, how do you know they can’t defeat Xatu?”

    “They never have before.”

    “What happens before doesn’t matter,” Ash answered. “Every time a Pokemon battles they grow and get stronger, even if they don’t win. A newly caught Pokemon can defeat the strongest member on your team if they’re smart about it.”

    “Really,” Rey said, and eyebrow raised and her hands on her hips.

    “Don’t look at me like that,” Ash told her. “Why would I lie?” He suddenly smiled. “I remember when I caught my Bayleef; it was still a Chikorita, and it was the pluckiest little Pokemon you’d ever see. I got so frustrated with it that I sent out my Charizard.”

    “Oh no,” Rey said, starting to grin. “Don’t tell me...”

    “Yep,” Ash nodded. “That Chikorita took down my Charizard.” He clapped a hand on Rey’s shoulder and looked her in the eyes. “We all have room to grow,” he said softly. ‘There’s always time.” He turned and left the room, calling out four Pokemon as he did so; Floatzel, Staraptor, Totodile, and Noctowl.

    “Why are leaving these?” Rey asked, confused.

    “To battle,” Ash said. “Let them battle against your Pokemon naturally. Watch them battle and learn what strengths they need to improve. Venusaur and Xatu against Floatzel and Staraptor in a double battle, and your other two Pokemon against Totodile and Noctowl in a single. Sometimes the best way for a Pokemon to grow is to rediscover its own natural skills.”

    And with that, he left the room.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Professor Oak sat at his computer and sighed, rubbing his temples as he waited for the analysis to finish. He gazed sadly around at his trashed lab. The fifteen valuable plates he had painstakingly collected and researched over the years had been stolen, and judging by the scattered papers and open cupboards, the rest of his lab had been ransacked as well.

    “It must have been a two-pronged assault,” Tracey surmised from behind the Professor. “That one guy who came in and threatened Delia wanted you to tell him where it was, while another broke in here and searched the lab to try and see if you’d hidden it away.”

    “That is what probably happened,” Oak agreed, “but then I don’t see why they would have taken the stone plates as well. It doesn’t make any sense... As far as I know, there’s no correlation between the two.”

    “Did they get your research on either?” Tracey asked in concern.

    “Luckily no,” Professor Oak answered. “So far as I can tell, the files on the GS Ball and the stone plates weren’t copied or downloaded. I don’t think my computer was even touched, to be honest.” Tracey opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the computer.

    “Analysis complete,” a cool female voice spoke.

    “Ah, excellent,” Professor Oak said, turning back to the computer and rubbing his hands.

    “Is that the sample of the pustule from May that Brock sent?” Tracey asked in interest.

    “Yes; hopefully this will prove to Ash that it isn’t the Pokerus,” Oak answered. “Computer: identify.”

    “Sample is a previously unknown virus. No known recorded cases have been diagnosed.” Professor Oak frowned.

    “Well, at least it isn’t the Pokerus,” he muttered. “Computer: is there a documented virus of a similar genetic structure?” The image of the sample onscreen faded, to be replaced by an image that he knew all too well. “Oh no,” he groaned.

    “Pokerus,” the computer answered. “A temporarily contagious disease that only affects Pokemon, causing a temporary state of insanity.”

    “Computer: compare Pokerus with unknown virus,” Oak ordered. “Could unknown virus be created through a natural mutation of the Pokerus?”

    “No,” the computer answered after a few seconds of calculation.

    “What does that mean?” Tracey asked. A grim slash crossed the Professor’s face.

    “Computer: could unknown virus be created through a synthetic manipulation of the genetic structure of the Pokerus?” he asked.

    “Yes,” the computer answered.

    “What does that mean?” Tracey asked again.

    “Computer: define the predicted effects of unknown virus,” Professor Oak ordered, panic starting to set in.

    “Effects unknown. For most likely scenario, please access Pokerus.”

    “Professor?” Tracey asked.

    “This unknown virus infected May and almost killed her,” Professor Oak muttered to himself. “Its effects are the same as the Pokerus...” He turned and looked Tracey in the eyes.

    “There’s only one thing it can mean,” he said slowly. “Someone's made the Pokerus infect humans.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Giovanni stood, surveying the damage. Hard lines of anger crossed his face at every turn. Steam rose from the centre of the room where the Moltres had been hit by the water attacks; the Heatran sagged immobile, still in its cage and critically injured; Grunts were scattered around the perimeter, many of them groaning in pain and the rest staggering around with bewildered expressions on the face. As for the reinforced glass which should have protected him...

    NAMBA!” Giovanni roared, the call echoing throughout the spacious room. Almost comically, Professor Namba’s head peeked around the blast doors that led to his lab. Disregarding the still smouldering shards of glass that clung resiliently to the window frame, Giovanni leaped through the hole and stormed over towards the cowering Professor.

    “It’s not my fault!” Namba squeaked as he drew nearer. “That one fool tripped and let go of the cage! If he hadn’t fallen and knocked those other Grunts over the cages would never have collided, and the Moltres wouldn’t have been provoked!”

    “Hang the man who tripped!” Giovanni growled, lifting Namba bodily by the neck and smashing him against the blast doors. “Your mutant virus is supposed to give you control over an infected Pokemon! Why didn’t you call it off its rampage?

    “I... I...,” Namba stuttered, and Giovanni’s lip curled scornfully.

    “Oh, I see. Too scared to get involved? Pathetic,” he muttered in an eerie imitation of his youngest son. He dropped the terrified Professor and stalked away to the cage containing the Heatran. “Don’t just stand there!” he bawled at the Grunts. “Get this Heatran into the lab and get it healed now!” As the majority of Grunts leaped forwards to lift and carry the cage, he turned and walked over to the Grunt who had caused the situation by falling, and who actually appeared to be asleep.

    “As for you,” he growled, leaning down to pick up the man by the neck. The response was immediate. The Grunt’s eyes snapped open and, with an unfocused gaze, leapt forwards under Giovanni’s guard and tackled him to the ground. Giovanni gasped in surprise as his back hit the floor, and then the Grunt’s hands were fastened under his neck and the life was being choked from his body. He writhed, trying to free himself from the deranged man to no avail, and then the man suddenly went limp and fell to the floor.

    “Are you alright, sir?” Bashou asked, kneeling down to his side. Giovanni nodded and, taking a deep breath, clambered to his feet. He glared down at the unconscious man who had tried to throttle him and then turned back to Bashou.

    “You stopped him?” he asked, and Bashou nodded silently. “Buson?” he called.

    “Behind you, sir,” Buson answered. Giovanni looked at them both, sizing them up.

    “You’ve both saved my life today,” he said quietly. “I do not thank people, but you both deserve recognition for what you have done. I’m doubling your pay.”

    “Thank you, sir,” they both said.

    “Sebastian?” he asked.

    “Here, sir,” the senior Professor answered from the ground, where he was intently examining the unconscious Grunt.

    “That man will die for strangling me,” Giovanni said, “why are you checking him over?”

    “Because what this man did was not his own fault,” Professor Sebastian said calmly, straightening himself as he stood and looked Giovanni in the eye. “It was Professor Namba’s.”

    “What?” Giovanni asked, dumbstruck.

    “Not true!” Namba blurted out from where he stood, having crept near during the incident.

    “Look at this man’s forehead,” Sebastian said. “See this lump above his eye? That is the reason he attacked, and I suspect the reason he fell in the first place.”

    “Speak sense, man!” Giovanni said impatiently. “It’s a bump from when he hit his head after tripping. What does that have to do with anything?”

    “It was not caused by his fall; his fall was caused by it,” Sebastian said an, noticing the expression on Giovanni’s face, he hurried on. “This lump, or pustule to be more precise, is a reaction from being infected by a virus.”

    “From being infected by a...” the colour drained from Giovanni’s face; he could see what was coming next.

    “Yes,” Sebastian said softly. “This man has been infected by the Perporus.”

    “That’s impossible!” Namba shouted. “The Perporus is just a modified variant of the Pokerus, and that can only be transmitted between Pokemon!”

    “As the senior Professor and scientist of Team Rocket, all research passes though me before it is approved,” Sebastian said, ignoring his quivering contemporary. “I saw the trials and read the research papers; this pustule matches those of the test subjects and is identical to the descriptions in the paper Professor Namba wrote up.”

    “You are just trying to discredit me!” Namba shouted accusingly. “You are jealous of what I have come up with and want to claim the credit for yourself!”

    “Professor Bamba, I can assure you...”

    “It’s NAMBA!” he screeched.

    QUIET!” Giovanni roared, with enough fury to make even a nearby Blastoise quail. He turned to Sebastian. “Any more proof?” he asked.

    “Bashou, Buson; hold him down,” Sebastian ordered, taking what appeared to be two stopwatches out of his pocket. “These are able to determine the genetic makeup of any disease or virus,” he explained. “This one on the left has already been tested with the Perporus; the same variant that was administered to the Moltres, if I am not mistaken.” He clicked a button and a small scraper appeared out the side of the device on the right. He quickly scraped its edge along the surface of the pustule and retracted it back into the device. The man moaned as his pustule was touched, but did not flail about. There was silence for several seconds while the device clicked and whirred.

    “Analysis complete,” the device spoke. Sebastian flipped open the lids of both devices and compared them quickly before holding them out to show Giovanni.

    “You see,” he said quietly. “They’re a perfect match.” Giovanni stared at the two and staggered back, his heart beating quickly.

    “Then this means...” he began.

    “Yes,” Sebastian agreed. “When Professor Namba mutated the Pokerus into the Perporus, he gave it several unique abilities. The virus will last until death, although its contagiousness still ceases after 24 hours. The effect of increased strength and power remains, but the one infected will actually listen to a command given by its master. One infected by the Pokerus would never obey commands. Unfortunately, it appears as if the human barrier has been removed also. While the Pokerus can only be transmitted between Pokemon, it would seem that the Perporus affects humans. That means...”

    “Epidemic,” Giovanni whispered, his face pale.

    “Sir!” Bashou shouted suddenly. “The Grunt... he’s dead.”

    “What? How?” Giovanni asked. Sebastian knelt and examined the man closely.

    “Fever,” he said eventually. “One of the symptoms of the Pokerus is a high fever. Pokemon have different body temperatures and higher tolerances than humans do. The fever caused by the Pokerus never causes any lasting harm to a Pokemon, but it seems that the Perporus is not quite as benign when it comes to humans.” Giovanni turned and advanced on Namba.

    “This is all your doing,” he hissed menacingly. “You caused this!”

    “I only did what you told me to!” Namba protested.

    “I told you to mutate the Pokerus into something we could control!” Giovanni roared, flecks of spit flying into Namba’s face. “I didn’t tell you to make it infect humans too!”

    “But... but...” Namba stammered, backpedalling. Giovanni’s cool finally snapped and he lashed out at the terrified scientist, sending him flying.

    “Sebastian!” Giovanni snapped.

    “Sir?” the senior scientist asked, hurrying forwards.

    “You’re in charge of this mess now,” he said. “Find out the full effects of Namba’s Perporus, and reverse them if you can. Do a thorough investigation into where Namba went wrong, and mutate a strain of Pokerus into a form of Perporus that won’t affect humans. Understood?”

    “Yes, sir,” Sebastian nodded with a salute.

    “Target neutralized,” Hunter J’s cool, collected voice spoke through the building’s intercom. “Moltres has been caught.”

    “Finally, some good news,” Giovanni groaned, placing his hands over his head.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Another quick update, and I hope you enjoyed it! Don't expect the next one so fast though.
    My fanfictions
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  11. #61
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    And here we are with the next update. You must all be enjoying this unusually quick-paced schedule. But hey, four uploads in just over a week beats four updates in the last six months (which is what I had been doing through 2008 up until this point, sadly). Anyways, on with the chapter! And like always, please review!

    Chapter 36: Truce


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Drew opened his eyes. His body burned with pain, his cheeks were damp and scarred, but for the first time in over two years his mind was clear. And he knew then, fully for the first time, what his lust had cost him. He closed his eyes, trying to suppress a few tears. It was obvious to him, now, what had happened. And he knew too what had saved him.

    He saw Max lying in the earth several yards away, unmoving as he gazed at the stars. Drew would have thought him to be asleep where it not for his wide, staring eyes, and the soft sounds of remorse he made. Leaning next to him in concern was his Gardevoir, her body shaking with fatigue and an inner pain. But the moment that Drew approached, she raised her head and glared at him, moving her arms into an attack position. Noticing this, he decided that the best tactic would be to stop moving and try a vocal approach instead.

    “Max?” he called tentatively, and when there was no response he tried again a little louder. “Max?” This time the young trainer seemed to have heard and he slowly turned his head towards the Coordinator, although his eyes were unfocused and staring.

    “You’re alive,” Max stated. Drew said nothing, waiting for him to continue. “I thought I’d killed you,” Max went on, more to himself than to Drew.

    “You didn’t,” Drew answered, and another uncomfortable silence followed for several minutes.

    “How are you feeling?” Max asked. Drew let out a short bark of laughter.

    “Better than I have for over two years,” he admitted. This caught Max’s attention, his gaze becoming sharp and attentive as he got to his feet.

    “You were hit by a Stage-3 Psychic,” he said. “I tortured you with it. You should be lying on the ground in pain, virtually incapacitated; not standing here saying that you feel fantastic.”

    “My body is burning with the pain,” Drew said bluntly. “I feel like I should be dying from it. I am in agony right now physically. But I haven’t felt this good mentally for years. Max; you’ve saved me.” Max was taken aback by this.

    “I don’t understand,” he muttered.

    “I was obsessed,” Drew said. “Years ago in Kanto, I fell in love with your sister. But my love faded and was replaced by lust. I became obsessed with her body, and couldn’t get her out of my mind. I lied to her, I deceived her, I played with her mind; all to try and get her to be with me. I didn’t care about the way she felt, I forget she had her own feelings. I manipulated her into doing what I wanted, because what I wanted was her body.” He noticed the stony expression covering Max’s face and hurried on.

    “Barely a week after she agreed to be with me, I met up with another girl. She was different from May in a couple of ways. For one thing, she was obsessed by me and was willing to do anything I wanted her to, no matter how despicable it was. For another thing, her body was even more attractive than your sister’s. My lust switched almost overnight, from May to this new girl.”

    “Brianna,” Max said coldly.

    “Brianna,” Drew agreed. “And then, right when it seemed that everything was going in my favour, Brianna turned up with Harley and dumped me.”

    “Which you deserved,” Max snarled.

    “It drove me insane,” Drew shot back. “I lost my mind and swore vengeance on both of them for what they’d done to me. And then I remembered your sister and fell in love with her body all over again. I was desperate to have her back, but every time I found her... she rejected me. It drove me deeper and deeper into despair and longing.”

    “I don’t understand what you’re trying to say,” Max said after a moment.

    “I went insane, mad, nutty, crazy, mental, whatever word you want to use! I lost my reason, my rationale. I lost my mind, Max. I can barely remember anything that’s happened in the last year. Max, by attacking me with that Psychic... Every wrong thing that I’ve ever done, every person I’ve hurt, I saw it all again. You may have hurt my body, but you did much more than that. You freed my mind.”

    “So you’re saying that by torturing you, I got rid of your insanity?” Max asked.

    “That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Drew affirmed.

    “And I thought it was usually the other way around,” Max muttered before looking Drew in the eyes. “I still hate you for what you’ve done to my sister,” he said.

    “It’s impossible for you to hate me more than I hate myself,” Drew answered, holding out his hand. “Shake?” Gardevoir hissed in distaste but after a moment of appraisal, Max took the proffered hand and shook it once, just once.

    “Come on,” he said, recalling his Gardevoir and turning away. “If you’re truly sorry then you can start earning some forgiveness by doing something for me.”

    “What’s that?’

    “I need your help.”

    “With what?” Drew persisted. Max halted, looking in the direction of Mount Silver.

    “What do you know about Deoxys or Team Rocket?” he asked.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Meowth!” Jessie screamed again as a second Salamence circled overhead several times before flying off around the side. For a brief moment there was silence and she feared the worst. But then, as the dust began to settle, there was a great hacking cough and Meowth became visible, standing frozen between the fallen Salamence’s neck and wing.

    “Dat was too close,” he moaned, before hacking out another cloud of dust. Jessie ran forwards in relief, ready to hug and berate the life out of him, but came to a screeching halt when the massive dragon-type stirred. It climbed slowly to its feet, and to the greatest surprise of both Jessie and Meowth revealed the shape of a man who had pinned underneath it. His eyes burned with anger as he looked in the direction the second Salamence had gone.

    “I will get her back for what she has done,” Silver swore, climbing painfully to his feet. “She won’t know what hit her.” And then he noticed the open-mouthed Jessie standing mere feet from him, the red ‘R’ emblazoned on her white shirt. “A Rocket, eh?” he roared, grabbing hold of a second Poke Ball as he shifted into a fighting stance. “I think it’s time to play some more!”

    “Mime! Mime-mime!” a little voiced squeaked, running past the angry Silver and throwing itself into Jessie’s arms. “Mime mime mime!” Silver stared at the little Mime Jr. in astonishment, the Poke Ball in his hand forgotten.

    “That’s your Mime Jr.?” he asked. “It saved my fall when we fell by using Reflect; stopped us from hitting the ground as fast we would have done and it stopped Hunter J’s goggles from finding us in the dust. So is it yours?”

    “I... eh... ah...” she stammered.

    “Jessie, dis is Jimmy’s Mime Jr.!” Meowth realized. He turned to Silver, sliding out his claws. “Alright, start talkin’! What did ya do with da rest of James’s Pokemon?” he snarled. The heavy breath of the Salamence on his neck quickly made him remember his manners. “Please?” he asked, retracting his claws with a blush. Silver stared at him.

    “You can talk!” he said incredulously.

    “Dat, or you’ve gone loopy,” Meowth answered. "Personally, I prefer loopy."

    “It was a pretty high fall,” Silver muttered to himself. Then he shook his head. “Let’s move,” he ordered. “Team Rocket hasn’t seen us yet, but they will do soon enough now that the dust has cleared. Into the woods, go.” They traipsed into the forest for several moments before Silver judged them far enough away for the moment.

    “Feahhh, Fearow fee,” a small Fearow called down to Mime Jr. from a nearby tree.

    “Mime-mime, miiime!” Mime Jr. answered.

    “Meowth, what are they saying?’ Jessie asked, noticing that the normal-type was listening attentively.

    “Dat Fearow is asking Mime Jr. if it knows us,” Meowth answered. “Mime Jr. told it dat we’re James’s best friends, and not to worry about us.”

    “Why would the Fearow want to know that?” Jessie wondered, puzzled.

    “Because James caught dis Fearow,” Meowth answered, listening hard to the conversation between the two Pokemon. “It wants ta know if it can trust us.”

    “James caught a Fearow?” Jessie asked, surprised.

    “I’ve been working with a Pokemon owned by a member of Team Rocket?” Silver asked, even more incredulous than Jessie. “Why would it work with me to destabilize Team Rocket if it’s owned by a Rocket?”

    “If ya’d just let me listen to da bird, I’d be able to let ya know,” Meowth said to him a little crossly. “Right start at da beginning,” he told the Fearow. Training its attention on Meowth, the Fearow began to caw out its explanation. “Okay, so James caught ya when ya fell out of a tree after a mean trainer with an Electivire attacked da nest,” Meowth repeated. “He seemed like a nice guy so ya decided ta follow him around and be one of his Pokemon. Den one day you’d stopped and dat nasty trainer sprung a trap on James. He got taken away by a bunch’a Grunts and his other Pokemon were taken too. They didn’t get you because they didn’t see ya up in a tree.

    “When ya followed dem, ya heard ’em say dat he was gonna be killed, just like dey tried ta do wid me an’ Jessie. Dey took him inside an’ you waited outside for a coupla days, butcha didn’t see him again. Den one day dis man ran outside chased by a buncha Grunts. So ya decided to help him out, cause by dis time ya hate dose Rockets, and you been helpin’ him up till now.”

    “Wait,” Jessie said, beginning to panic. “So does that mean James is still inside? Or is he already...” She couldn’t finish the sentence, but Silver took over.

    “He wearing a white uniform like yours – minus the skirt – and have blue hair?” he enquired.

    “You’ve seen him?” Jessie gasped.

    “They put him in my cell,” Silver answered. “Then one guy – a nasty trainer with an Electivire – called him out of the cage, saying he had one last chance to save his life and to go with him. Then he shocked me and left, but forgot to lock the cage door. That’s how I was able to get out and escape. Your friend is alive, but for how long I have no clue; any inkling as to why they want him dead?”

    “Not a clue,” Jessie answered. “They sent two of their Grunts – who were coincidentally our biggest rivals – to kill me and Meowth. We’d be dead if a kid and his Tyranitar hadn’t stopped them. I’m guessing that this guy with the Electivire found James and tricked him into going back to the base.” She sighed. “Meowth and I can’t go back; we’ve got a price on our heads and if we return we’ll be killed. We aren’t Team Rocket anymore.”

    “If you can’t go back, then why are you standing right outside the base?” Silver asked her accusingly.

    “We were looking for da north coast,” Meowth answered, glaring daggers at Jessie. “Someone can’t navigate.”

    “I said I was sorry!”

    “You never said anything like!”

    Silver sighed, watching them bicker. “You can’t return, so it’s no good just standing around here,” he said, glancing back in the direction of the headquarters. “Your fellow Rockets want you dead?”

    “The boss and Cassidy do at least,” Jessie answered.

    “Then you can help me,” Silver said bluntly. “There’s something suspicious going on inside your HQ. I was in there earlier today to get back my Pokemon and a Moltres suddenly came from nowhere and blasted its way out of the castle. It got caught again, thanks to Pokemon Hunter J, but...”

    “You tink dere may be more dan dat Moltres being held,” Meowth realized.

    “Right,” Silver nodded. “If we work as a team we can sneak inside, free the legendary Pokemon, and cripple the Rockets plan!”

    “Sounds dangerous,” Jessie muttered, and Silver grinned wolfishly.

    “Danger is my middle name,” he said.

    “Yeah? What’s your first?” Meowth asked.

    “Silver,” he said. “Now if you’re gonna help me out, come with me; I’ve know a place we can hide while we plan. If you’re not, well,” he shrugged, “best of luck to you.” He turned and began walking deeper off into the trees.

    “Do we go with him or go north?” Jessie asked Meowth.

    “If we go wid him, we ain’t gonna get lost at least,” Meowth answered, following the gigantic man into the forest.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “So the Wobbuffet’s doing okay?” Ash asked.

    “Better than okay,” Brock said, shaking his head in amazement. “I’ve never seen a Pokemon so near death recover so quickly! It’s incredible. That Wobbuffet is already walking around; if its trainer happened to pass by today, I think it would be ready to travel by tomorrow.”

    “That’s great news,” Ash said, leaning back against his chair and closing his eyes.

    “So Rey’s still training?” Brock asked.

    “Mmmhmm,” Ash answered, his eyes still closed. “Dawn went down about an hour ago to train with her; it’ll really help Rey to go against a Contest style since she’s never battled a Coordinator before.”

    “Ash,” Anabel called, walking onto the balcony. “There’s a phone call for you. It’s Professor Oak.”

    “Thanks, Anabel,” Ash said, opening his eyes and swinging his legs over the side of his chair. “I think I know what this is about.” He tried to get up and realize he was stuck in his position. “Uhh, little help?” he asked.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Brock sighed.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    May was already at the phone when Ash arrived. “Anabel told me on the way up to you,” she explained. “It’s about the infection that I had.”

    “I thought it might be,” Ash said, sitting down on the bench next to her and looking at the video screen. “Professor Oak; what’s the news?”

    “Well, you were partially right, Ash,” Professor Oak answered, his face a little pale. “It isn’t the Pokerus, but it’s very similar genetically. We aren’t sure what it is; nothing like this has ever been described before. It’s possible May was the first person ever to be infected by it.”

    “So you don’t know anything about it?” Ash asked.

    “Nothing for certain, but we can guess quite a bit by drawing on our knowledge of the Pokerus.” Professor Oak said. “For instance, one of the side effects of the Pokerus in a Pokemon is increased power and strength. So...”

    “So you mean I could be as strong as a superhero?” May asked, her voice rising in excitement.

    “Well, no,” Professor Oak said with a smile. “A Pokemon’s strength is increased gradually over the 24 hours of infection. You were only infected for two hours tops, and the fever would have killed you if it had been any longer than that. My guess is that you’ll be stronger than you were before, but not by too much.”

    “Oh,” May said, disappointed.

    “Cheer up; it means it’ll be easier to do housework and move heavy objects,” Oak said.

    “Great,” she grumbled.

    “Professor,” Ash interrupted, “when Latias was infected, you sent nearly everybody outside since she was contagious. Could May have passed on the disease to any of us?” Oak shook his head.

    “I don’t think so,” he said. “If the disease had spread to any of you, you’d have shown the symptoms days ago. You don’t have anything to worry about there.”

    “That’s a relief,” Ash said. “Oh, I almost forgot; Lt. Surge gave me some sort of rock to give to you. The Zap Plate, or something like that?”

    “Yes,” Oak said, frowning. “I was meaning to ask you about that. You see, I had fifteen other plates in my basement lab, but they’ve all been stolen.”

    “What?” May asked, surprised.

    “Yes, it was a nasty shock. We discovered it the morning after Paul threatened Delia,” Oak said. “Tracey thinks that the two events may be connected.”

    “So Paul isn’t travelling alone?” Ash asked with a sinking heart. May gave him an ‘I told you so’ look.

    “That could well be the case,” Oak answered. “We know Paul’s after the GS Ball, but we had no clue about the Plates. It’s possible that they were stolen by somebody entirely different, but...” he paused. “I’ll do some research to try and see if there are any historical connections between the GS Ball and the stone Plates. I’ll let you know if I find anything out.”

    “Right,” Ash nodded. Professor Oak gave him a long, searching look.

    “Be careful, Ash. Paul wants the GS Ball, and he knows you have it. If he is after the Zap Plate and finds out that you have that as well... It’s imperative that he doesn’t get either one.”

    “I understand, Professor,” Ash said quietly. “I’m going to leave the Battle Tower tomorrow and keep going west. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to reach Tohjo Falls, and then I can cut south and back to Pallet Town.”

    “Hopefully you’ll lose him on the river,” Oak said. “Be careful, Ash.”

    “I will,” Ash answered, and the connection was terminated.

    You’re leaving tomorrow and then you’ll cut south to Pallet?” May echoed. “You know damn well that I’m going with you, Ash Ketchum.”

    “Of course,” Ash said with a smile.

    “And I doubt that Brock, Rey, or Dawn will want to stay behind either,” she added. “Stop trying to get rid of us.”

    “I’m sorry May, and I’m not trying to do that,” Ash said. “It’s just... I’m worrying about Paul, and whether we can find a way to destroy the GS Ball.”

    “You’ll find a way,” she said softly, putting an arm around him and resting her head on his shoulder. “I know you will.”

    “But at what cost?” he asked, returning the gesture.

    "Ash," May said, looking him in the eyes. "You have the GS Ball for a reason; you're the only one who can protect us by keeping it away from Paul. And if, to protect us, you have to destroy it..."

    "Then that's exactly what will happen," he finished. They were silent for a moment, and then...

    "Ash?" May asked softly.

    "Yes, May?"

    "When you were battling Cynthia... At the end of the ten-minute break, I was feeling kinda down. But then Anabel told me that you were wearing half-a-ribbon around your neck, and it cheered me up." She hesitated. "Was it... was it our ribbon?" Ash nodded.

    "Going into that match, I knew I'd need all the inspiration I could get. And that's why I wore the ribbon."

    "I don't understand."

    "You're my inspiration, May," he said tenderly. "I wore it because it reminded me of you, and it gave me the strength I needed. Having that ribbon there with me... it was like having a part of you there by my side. You inspired me to battle, and you inspired me to win. When I was out there against Cynthia, I wasn't battling for myself, or for a title. I was battling for you."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Team Rocket and Deoxys?” Drew repeated. “Almost nothing, besides the fact that Deoxys helped to destroy my hometown and terrorized some of my friends; why?”

    “Team Rocket is a really nasty criminal gang who steal Pokemon,” Max answered, still moving towards Mount Silver. “They’re always trying to get stronger and stronger Pokemon; why they want or need them, I really have no idea. They mainly operate in Kanto and Johto, but they started to spread into Sinnoh a few years ago.”

    “And Deoxys?”

    “Deoxys is a legendary Pokemon that came from another planet,” Max said. “There are three on the planet that I know of; the two that were in LaRousse City, and one that was revived here in Kanto.” He hesitated a moment before continuing. “The one in Kanto is my friend. I was supposed to meet it around lunch today, but it never showed up.”

    “So what does that have to do with the Team Rocket?” Drew asked. Max pointed in the direction they were heading.

    “From my, ah, past experiences in this region, I happened to find out that the Team Rocket headquarters are somewhere around Mount Silver.”

    “They’re that close to civilization?” Drew asked, frowning.

    “I wouldn’t say they’re that close,” Max answered. “The Battle Tower is just over a day’s walk away, but apart from that there’s wilderness for miles and miles. Even the toughest trainers generally shy away from this area, since the Pokemon here are so dangerous.”

    “So you decided to meet with Deoxys in a dangerous and inhospitable area, only a couple of hours away from Team Rocket headquarters?” Drew asked.

    “Okay, it was a stupid idea. I came up here to challenge my abilities, and I never thought Deoxys would just disappear.”

    “So you think Team Rocket may have captured it?”

    “Deoxys has never let me down before, and it’s the kind of Pokemon Team Rocket would love to get their hands on.”

    “So what are you going to do?” Drew asked.

    “Break into their headquarters and free Deoxys,” Max answered fiercely. Drew paused.

    “Are you sure you don’t want to think of a better plan?” he asked.

    “Like what?”

    “Like actually sitting down and coming up with ideas on how to do this,” Drew said. “When Flygon and I crashed, it was because a woman on her Salamence had beaten us in a fight in mid-air.” Max nodded.

    “I saw the battle.”

    “Then you also saw how badly I did against her,” Drew said. “I’m not sure if she was a Rocket or not, but she was stealing my Pokemon. In a one-on-one fight with her, I lost. Now, imagine the two of us going up against all of Team Rocket. What do you think is going to happen?”

    “Do you have a better plan?” Max challenged.

    “As a matter of fact, I do!” Drew shot back. “Now if you’ll just spare your most hated enemy five minutes to talk, we might just be able to get in and out of Team Rocket’s base alive.”

    “Five minutes, Drew,” Max said, stopping and turning to face him. “Start talking.”
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  12. #62
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    Is it just me, or are you staying up until five in the morning writing this stuff?
    Well! Keep it up!

    And now for a long breakdown...*Cracks knuckles menacingly*. LET US BEGIN!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    Chapter 36: Truce[/b]

    Drew opened his eyes. His body burned with pain, his cheeks were damp and scarred, but for the first time in over two years his mind was clear. And he knew then, fully for the first time, what his lust had cost him. He closed his eyes, trying to suppress a few tears. It was obvious to him, now, what had happened. And he knew too what had saved him.
    This, I believe is the first time I have ever heard of Drew admitting something out of pain. Muhahaha. Serves him right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    “Max?” he called tentatively, and when there was no response he tried again a little louder. “Max?” This time the young trainer seemed to have heard and he slowly turned his head towards the Coordinator, although his eyes were unfocused and staring.

    “You’re alive,” Max stated. Drew said nothing, waiting for him to continue. “I thought I’d killed you,” Max went on, more to himself than to Drew.
    Also another first, that Drew is actually afraid of Max. In the anime, all what we saw was that Drew doesn't really give Max much thought at all. Glad to see that Max now has authority! *Rule with an iron fist!* And also that he's ruthless. (Such a change of personality!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    “I went insane, mad, nutty, crazy, mental, whatever word you want to use! I lost my reason, my rationale. I lost my mind, Max. I can barely remember anything that’s happened in the last year. Max, by attacking me with that Psychic... Every wrong thing that I’ve ever done, every person I’ve hurt, I saw it all again. You may have hurt my body, but you did much more than that. You freed my mind.”
    Now Drew's making Max from Pokemon sound like Morpheus from The Matrix!

    Quote Originally Posted by Morpheus

    I'm trying to free your mind, Neo.
    And, I also have such episodes of nutcasity or insanity, if you will.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    “I will get her back for what she has done,” Silver swore, climbing painfully to his feet. “She won’t know what hit her.”
    I absolutely love the way you made Silver J's cousin! But that would mean that J is Ash's aunt! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    “If ya’d just let me listen to da bird, I’d be able to let ya know,” Meowth said to him a little crossly. “Right start at da beginning,” he told the Fearow. Training its attention on Meowth, the Fearow began to caw out its explanation. “Okay, so James caught ya when ya fell out of a tree after a mean trainer with an Electivire attacked da nest,” Meowth repeated. “He seemed like a nice guy so ya decided ta follow him around and be one of his Pokemon. Den one day you’d stopped and dat nasty trainer sprung a trap on James. He got taken away by a bunch’a Grunts and his other Pokemon were taken too. They didn’t get you because they didn’t see ya up in a tree.

    “When ya followed dem, ya heard ’em say dat he was gonna be killed, just like dey tried ta do wid me an’ Jessie. Dey took him inside an’ you waited outside for a coupla days, butcha didn’t see him again. Den one day dis man ran outside chased by a buncha Grunts. So ya decided to help him out, cause by dis time ya hate dose Rockets, and you been helpin’ him up till now.”
    You know, I used to think of James as a bit of a flamboyant clown or something, but now you make him seem like a really sensable guy. I mean, he rescued a young Fearow after Paul, being the jack*** he is, sabotaged the nest! Newfound respect for Team Rocket's James!

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    “Wait,” Jessie said, beginning to panic. “So does that mean James is still inside? Or is he already...” She couldn’t finish the sentence, but Silver took over.
    *In a singsong voice* I smell rocketshipping!

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    “Sounds dangerous,” Jessie muttered, and Silver grinned wolfishly.

    “Danger is my middle name,” he said.

    “Yeah? What’s your first?” Meowth asked.

    “Silver,” he said.
    So...that means that his name is Silver Dangerous Ketchum. Hmm... Sounds cool. Maybe I'll name my kid that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    “Better than okay,” Brock said, shaking his head in amazement. “I’ve never seen a Pokemon so near death recover so quickly! It’s incredible. That Wobbuffet is already walking around; if its trainer happened to pass by today, I think it would be ready to travel by tomorrow.”
    Yeah, no crap. It's Team Rockets! Of course it would be able to walk in a matter of hours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    You’re leaving tomorrow and then you’ll cut south to Pallet?” May echoed. “You know damn well that I’m going with you, Ash Ketchum.”
    Uh oh. From my past experiences, girls are scary when angry, and I think May is now in one of those sorts of scary angries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    "You're my inspiration, May," he said tenderly. "I wore it because it reminded me of you, and it gave me the strength I needed. Having that ribbon there with me... it was like having a part of you there by my side. You inspired me to battle, and you inspired me to win. When I was out there against Cynthia, I wasn't battling for myself, or for a title. I was battling for you."
    You know, I've always thought of Ash as being an inspiration for May. I'm glad things are sort of turned around and the favor is returned by Ash.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    “Do you have a better plan?” Max challenged.

    “As a matter of fact, I do!” Drew shot back. “Now if you’ll just spare your most hated enemy five minutes to talk, we might just be able to get in and out of Team Rocket’s base alive.”

    “Five minutes, Drew,” Max said, stopping and turning to face him. “Start talking.”
    Jeez, Max! You're so flipping demanding! But, I just love it how Max is really the one giving instead of taking orders like back in Hoenn. Good for you Max!

    And you know what, Matkin22? I'd more ask you to get some rest. I think you've made enough chapters to satisfy us for another three months or so of waiting. But seriously, awesome job! AND KEEP IT UP!!!
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  13. #63
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    Heh, thanks a lot for the really in-depth review! That comparison with the Morpheus line was really interesting to know, since I've never actually watched any of the Matrix movies!

    But who says Silver is related to Ash?
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    I'm pretty certain you mentioned something about a relation between them early on, but i can't remember exactly where... eagerly waiting for the paul ash battle!
    Quote Originally Posted by Romke View Post
    Mmm, its a sandstorm based team and I dont know if spirittomb works well. I keep that 1 in mind Thanks! What about shedinja?

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    s*it Matkin you have been working really hard to get so many chapters up so fast All of them are great, I love them

    I don't have much to say in this review as lunarshadow already have said what I had on my mind

    If you hade been a girl I would have asked you out right now
    Last edited by Mayziken; 2nd August 2008 at 10:14 PM.
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    Default "The Rockets have done nothing but interfere with my life, ever since I was a kid. Th

    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar View Post
    I'm pretty certain you mentioned something about a relation between them early on, but i can't remember exactly where... eagerly waiting for the paul ash battle!
    I think the line you're thinking of is from Chapter 24, when Silver tells James's Fearow: "The Rockets have done nothing but interfere with my life, ever since I was a kid. They stole my father's prize Parasect, they used me to try and capture Moltres, but worst of all, they killed my brother. His son never even found out who he was." No mention of Ash though...


    Quote Originally Posted by Mayziken View Post
    If you hade been a girl I would have asked you out right now
    Umm... thanks?
    Last edited by Matkin22; 3rd August 2008 at 12:50 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Mayziken;
    If you hade been a girl I would have asked you out right now
    Umm... thanks?
    Ha, that's just too funny! Matkin22, people out there just love your works! What can you say?
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    Quote Originally Posted by lunarshadow
    Ha, that's just too funny! Matkin22, people out there just love your works! What can you say?
    I hope the girls feel the same way? :P
    Last edited by Matkin22; 3rd August 2008 at 4:19 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matkin22 View Post
    Umm... thanks?
    Hehe, sorry Matkin it was intended as a compliment
    Without soccer and girls life is wasted!!
    Liverpool, Rosenborg and Rangers is my heart and soul

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    I took it as such, :P
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    Sorry for the lack of updates again; I was busy entertaining a friend for a week, and had work after that. It's been hard finding time to write, and I've also been immersed in a relatively long manga called I''s. It's quite the interesting story; I might skip making a sequel and just go straight into an I''s fanfiction instead! But for now, here's the next update.

    Enjoy!

    Chapter 37: Encounter


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Are you sure you don’t want to stay another few days?” Anabel asked desperately. “It seems like you just got here.”

    “I’m sorry, Anabel,” Ash answered. “I’d like to stay a while longer; really, I would. But I need to get the Zap Plate back to Pallet Town for Professor Oak.” She nodded and looked down, a strand of her violet hair shielding the sadness in her eyes.

    “Hey,” Ash said softly, lifting her chin with a hand, “I’ll be back soon, okay? I really wanted to stay longer... Once I’ve given it to Professor Oak and checked in on my Mom, I’ll come back. I promise.”

    “Thanks, Ash,” Anabel said with a small smile. “Take care, okay? Don’t let Paul catch you up.”

    “I won’t,” he assured, “but I should go now. The others are all waiting outside already.” Anabel opened her mouth to respond, but was forestalled by a cry.

    “Waaaaba, Wobba Wob!” the Wobbuffet shouted, running around a corner and crashing into Ash.

    “Hey, easy,” Ash laughed. “Feeling better, huh?”

    “Wobba wobba!” the Wobbuffet nodded, clinging to Ash’s arm. Ash lowered his head and examined the Pokemon closely.

    “You’re Team Rocket’s Wobbuffet, right?” he asked. “Did you get separated from Jessie or something?”

    “Wob...” the Wobbuffet said, tears in its eyes.

    “Well... if you wanted to, you could come along with us, I guess,” Ash said. “Jessie, James, and Meowth generally seem to find us every few days, so we could probably get you back to them before too long.”

    “Wha?” Wobbuffet asked in amazement.

    “No, it doesn’t bother me at all,” Ash said, shaking his head. “I know how upset and worried I’d be if one of my Pokemon went missing; I may not like how they try and steal my Pokemon, but I’d never keep one of theirs from them.

    “And besides,” he added softly, “I know how you’re missing them too.”

    “Wobba... wobba...” Wobbuffet began, tearing up again.

    “I’ll see you soon, okay Anabel?” Ash said, straightening up. Anabel nodded.

    “Hurry back,” she said quietly as he began to walk away.

    “You know it,” he answered, flashing her a grin. Then as she watched, he and Wobbuffet rounded the corner and were gone.

    “Be careful, Ash,” she whispered.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Namba glanced dourly at Sebastian as he walked calmly on a nearby computer in the lab, his fingers a blur as he simulated several possible variations of the Perporus. It was a glare that Sebastian could hardly miss, and it was difficult for even his calm and collected persona to ignore the outright hostility radiating from the shunned Rocket scientist.

    “Professor Namba, you might find yourself earning a little more forgiveness from Giovanni if you were to actually do the work he has assigned you,” he said.

    “My work has been usurped!” Namba said loudly, balling his hands into fists. “You sabotaged my research to discredit me, I know you did!”

    “I did nothing of the sort,” Sebastian said flatly. “I have better things to do than be stuck in this dingy lab with only you for company. My research is far more important to me than the mutation of a virus, and I would much rather be testing some of my theories than fixing your errors.”

    “But-”

    “Giovanni told you several days ago to investigate a possible connection between the legendary Pokemon,” Sebastian interrupted. “The Deoxys that crashed was infected with your variation of the Pokerus; an impossible situation, given that the Perporus has never left these facilities and that at the time we had not yet captured a Deoxys. You need to find out how the Deoxys was infected, if there is a connection between legendary Pokemon that can lead to the transmitting of disease, and how we can apply this in our own interests.”

    “I’m not doing the same work twice!” Namba shouted.

    “Twice?” Sebastian asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “I already finished that research,” Namba growled. “I did it after he told me the first time. He just forgot and gave it to me again.”

    “And what were your results?” Sebastian asked.

    “Like I’m telling you!” Namba spat. “I’ll tell you what I found, and then you go swanning off to Giovanni with all my research!”

    “I am not going to claim your research as my own and present it to Giovanni,” Sebastian stated. “I have ethics. Besides, Giovanni would not be pleased if I were to present your research to him, as it would mean that I was not doing my assigned job. I have no wish to wind up in the same position as you. Now; your research, please.”

    “Just why should I give it to you?” Namba challenged. “What do you want with it?”

    “This is getting tedious,” Sebastian muttered to himself before addressing the question. “You and I are both aware that no research is considered valid unless it has been corroborated by another individual within the scientific community who was not involved in the study. For your own sake, show me the research and explain what you have discovered.”

    Grudgingly, Namba reached down towards a briefcase by his legs and withdrew a stack of papers. He handed them over to Sebastian, who looked over the research with a raised eyebrow.

    “Interesting,” he mused. “Can you explain this further?”

    “Legendary Pokemon have several things in common,” Namba said. “For one thing, they are exceedingly rare and powerful types of Pokemon. For another, they are intimately connected with one another. They-”

    “This research isn’t all yours, is it?” Sebastian asked. Namba looked down, a crimson shadow crossing his face.

    “I hacked remotely into Professor Oak’s computer shortly after his lab was destroyed by the Rayquaza that Bashou and Buson managed to capture,” he muttered. “Most of this information is from there.”

    “I thought I recognized his style of writing in this,” Sebastian sighed. “Really, Professor, you could have at least endeavoured to make it sound like something you’d write.”

    “But!”

    Sebastian turned to his desk and grabbed a thick magazine that was hidden beneath several calculations. “Let me read you an excerpt from this page, Professor, which was originally written by Professors Samuel and Gary Oak as an article on the Pokerus: ‘The Pokerus is an infectious illness spread amongst Pokemon. This illness is not very well studied, mainly as a result of both the rareness of the disease and the danger of studying a Pokemon who has contracted it. What is known is that it is not caused by a virus, but by microorganisms that take a Pokemon as their host. Hence the name ‘Pokerus’ is actually a misnomer.

    ‘Once infected, a Pokemon undergoes a period of instability and insanity over a period of 24 hours; after this time has elapsed the microorganisms will die, and the Pokemon cannot be infected again. The Pokerus will, however, leave behind some beneficial side effects that will remain with a Pokemon for the remainder of its life. These side effects include increased physical strength and stamina.

    ‘It was thought that the Pokerus could be spread only through physical contact. Recently, however, an infection was witnessed where this was not the case. It occurred during the attack by a Rayquaza in the midst of a Championship Pokemon battle. The Rayquaza was infected and, despite the fact that there was no physical contact between the two, it somehow managed to pass the disease on to a Latias in the midst of the battle. How did this happen? The answer is through their connection.

    ‘Everything on the planet may be connected to everything else... living creatures are more closely linked to other living creatures than they are to a rock. And it divides again; humans connect on deeper levels to each other than to Pokemon, and vice versa. But in Pokemon, the divisions continue; a Ralts will connect more easily to other Psychic Pokemon than to a Ground type; within the Psychic grouping, it is closer to those in its own evolutionary line than it is to Hypno. And of course, a Ralts will always connect best to another Ralts.

    ‘There is one group of Pokemon where these connections don't work. This group of Pokemon is unique - there are over 30 different species, and they represent nearly every type. Some of them are ancient in origin, so old that they are considered myths. Others are so rare that they are nearly one of a kind; legendary Pokemon.

    ‘Legendary Pokemon are intimately connected with one other; at all times they can sense the presence of other legendary Pokemon, as well as how they are feeling. When the collector Lawrence III infamously tried to capture the legendary birds in the Orange Islands, they could sense what was happening. When Zapdos felt Moltres's absence, it claimed Fire Island as its own. The guardian Lugia sensed Moltres's capture and went to try and free the legendary Pokemon. There are other examples, too. How did Rayquaza know that the Deoxys was hiding in LaRousse City; how did the Deoxys know that the core of another Deoxys was being kept there? Why did that Rayquaza suddenly appear in the midst of a Championship battle and attack only a Latias?

    ‘It all boils down to the connection that legendary Pokemon share with one another. Legendary Pokemon are so closely linked that they don't need physical contact to pass on the Pokerus. If this theory is correct, it means that other legendary Pokemon could also be infected. It is unknown how close they would need to be in order to pass on the disease through their connection, but if it is of any great distance then there could be looking at an epidemic of unimaginable proportions.’


    Sebastian rumpled the papers into a ball and threw them away contemptuously.

    “No,” Namba whispered, his face ashen. “No, it can’t be!”

    “You don’t even deserve to be called a Professor after this, Namba,” Sebastian said in disdain. “What you have done is unethical.”

    “You’re talking to me about unethical?” Namba retorted. “After the experiments you have devised? Controlling the minds of Magikarp and Gyarados? Torturing Raikou? Commissioning the cloning of Mew? If anyone is unethical, it is you!”

    “I have standards!” Sebastian roared, finally losing control of his calm persona. “My experiments may be a bit more dangerous to the subject than those conducted by other scientists, but it is the reason why I have learned so much more than any other individual in this field! I have never broken my vow of scientific honour, and I would never plagiarize another respected scientist!” He glared at Namba, his chest heaving. “You are nothing but a thief,” he hissed, “a worthless, petty thief who takes the accomplishments of others as his own. You disgust me.”

    “I am not a worthless thief,” Namba whispered.

    “Every scientist knows about the connection between legendary Pokemon,” Sebastian said flatly. “You were just the last to know.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Are you sure this will work?” Jessie asked, dubiously eyeing the black outfit that Silver was holding out to her.

    “Absolutely,” Silver said, thrusting the outfit he had stolen from the Grunt towards her. “You don’t even have a black uniform, do you? So if you show up they’ll expect you to be in white. You can lead me and Meowth down into the lab, saying that you captured us outside. There are bounties on the two of us, so there won’t be any questions.”

    “I’ve got a question,” Meowth interrupted. “Maybe dey won’t recognize her by dat uniform, but her hair is a dead giveaway.”

    “Hmm... yes, I was just coming to the hair...” Silver said slowly. Jessie backed up nervously.

    “Hold on a moment; what we’re doing is incredibly dangerous, and you want me to get rid of my hair?”

    “If you don’t want us to be found out, then yes.”

    “Nobody touches the hair,” she warned as Silver came closer. “Cut it and I’ll kill you.”

    “Dis ain’t gonna be pretty,” Meowth said, covering his eyes with both paws as he turned away.

    There was the sound of a snap, a scream, and Meowth opened his eyes, fearing the worst. Silver stood with an almost comical look on his face as Jessie clawed at the back of her head in a panic. Max stepped out from the bushes behind her, a pair of scissors in one hand and a large tuft of red hair in the other.

    “I’ve always wanted to do that,” he said with a huge grin on his face.

    Twerp!” Jessie screamed, whirling and lunging at the young trainer. She was quickly stopped in midair as Max’s Gardevoir burst through the bush and barred her way with a Confusion long enough for Silver to grab the enraged red head from behind and hold her securely.

    “Was that really necessary, Max?” Drew asked as he pushed his way out behind Gardevoir. Max shrugged.

    “They wanted her hair cut, so I did it for them,” he said, looking at Jessie. “Consider that payback for all the times you tried to steal our Pokemon.”

    “I’m gonna kill you for that,” she growled in return.

    “Enough,” Silver said to her sternly before looking at Max and Drew. “What are you two doing here? This is a dangerous area-”

    “With her I’m not surprised,” Max muttered.

    “-and you shouldn’t be wandering around willy-nilly. Team Rocket headquarters is only a short distance away,” he finished.

    “Can you give us directions?” Max asked.

    “And why would you want to go dere?” Meowth asked him shrewdly. “I’d a thought dat would be da last place you’d wanna go, Twerp.” Max hesitated.

    “Why should I answer someone who’s involved with Team Rocket?” he asked. “More likely than not you were involved in it.”

    “Jessie and Meowth are no longer members of Team Rocket,” Silver broke in. “Giovanni wants them dead. They are risking their lives by going back in. You don’t have anything to worry about with them.”

    “Except for my hair,” Jessie muttered.

    “I was supposed to meet up with my friend, a Deoxys,” Max said, and Silver let in a sharp gasp of breath.

    “Let me guess; you think Team Rocket managed to capture your Deoxys friend?” he asked.

    “That’s right,” Max nodded.

    “Then we may as well go in together,” he said. “Team Rocket captured me, but I escaped. I went back in to get my Poke Balls earlier, and a Moltres broke out right next to me.”

    “Deoxys and Moltres,” Drew mused, interrupting. “So you think Team Rocket is capturing legendary Pokemon?”

    “Right, and that’s what we’re going in to find out,” Silver said. “If they are, well...” he showed his teeth. “Team Rocket is gonna get the shock of their lives when they all get broken out.”

    “So what’s your plan?” Drew asked.

    “Simple,” Silver grinned. “Meowth and I go in as captives, you three go in as our captors.”

    “How will we know where to go?” Max asked.

    “If dere are legendary Pokemon in dere, either Professor Namba or Professor Sebastian will be examining dem,” Meowth said. “Anyone asks any questions, just say dat we’re being taken ta one of dem. Let Jessie do da talking, she’s really good at dat.”

    “I don’t know whether to be insulted or flattered,” she muttered, still trying to struggle out of Silver’s grasp.

    “Ready?” Silver asked. “We may as well go now before second thoughts or doubts come into our minds.”

    “Drew and I don’t have a uniform like Jessie does,” Max protested. “What are we supposed to do?”

    “New recruits with tough Pokemon,” Silver said, giving Max’s Gardevoir a cursory glance. “You’d best recall your Pokemon now; we don’t want her spotted and taken.” He took his own Poke Balls and gave one each to Drew and Max. “They’ll be suspicious if they see any Poke Balls on me,” he explained, and then looked up at the Fearow perched on a branch overhead who had so far remained silent. “You’ll have to stay here for this one, okay?” he asked.

    “Fee,” the Fearow nodded.

    “Good,” Silver said, loosening his grip on Jessie as he sensed it was finally safe enough for Max to let her go. “Let’s move out, but tie me and Meowth up first.”

    “Do you have any rope?” Drew asked.

    “In my bag,” Silver nodded. “Don’t worry about the tightness of the knots; I can break out of any rope without a sweat.”

    “Be gentle wid me,” Meowth begged as Jessie looped some of Silver’s rope around his paws.

    “Stop complaining,” she retorted. “If anyone has a right to complain, it’s me! My poor hair...”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Hunter J,” Giovanni said, “you recaptured the escaped Moltres and put an end to Silver. I’m very impressed; he was quite a thorn in our side.”

    “Unless you’re planning on giving me a bonus for it, cut the crap,” J responded, completely unimpressed. “I have the last specimens for you; Kyogre, Manaphy, Jirachi, three Deoxys in normal, attack, and speed forms, as well as the fragment of Soul Dew. The only one I could not find was a Latias.”

    “Where are they now?” Giovanni asked.

    “The Pokemon are all being unloaded by my men into your laboratory facilities,” J responded. “I thought it best to give you the Soul Dew in person.” She reached into her pocket and withdrew a fragment of what appeared to belong to a sphere, although its composition was unlike that of any other material she had ever encountered before. A mysterious blue aura pulsated through the shard, although it felt cold to Giovanni’s touch.

    “Yes... this is it,” he said softly. He looked up at Hunter J. “Do you know why it is called the Soul Dew?” he asked her. Without waiting for an answer, he ploughed on. “The Soul Dew contains the essence of a Pokemon known as Latios,” he said. “Several years ago, the city of Alto Mare in Johto was under threat from a tsunami. Latios sacrificed his life for the city, and when he died his soul was left behind in what is known as the Soul Dew.”

    “So, that blue aura is...”

    “Yes, it’s Latios,” Giovanni answered. “And I will use this fragment of the Soul Dew to bring him back to life.”

    “And just how will you do that?” J asked, with raised eyebrows. “I know you’ve made huge strides in cloning Pokemon over the last few years, but what you hold in your hands is part of a Latios’s soul, not its DNA.” Giovanni grinned and reached into a desk drawer in response.

    “Ten years ago, my scientists created a device that allows a person to see and battle Ghost Pokemon,” he said, fingering the delicate object lovingly. “It’s called the Silph Scope. Its use goes beyond merely seeing ghosts, however. All it takes is to install it in a specialized machine.”

    “Are you telling me that this Silph Scope can bring Pokemon back from the dead?” J asked.

    “That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Giovanni said, looking her in the eyes. “It’s the reason I commissioned the creation of this device when I assumed control of Silph Co. a decade ago. Using it to find and battle Ghost Pokemon was just a reason to market the device and make a profit.” He looked down at the Soul Dew clenched in one hand and the Silph Scope in the other.

    “With this, I can bring Latios back to life,” he murmured. “And then, I will need only Latias and Ho-Oh to begin.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “So you want to return Wobbuffet to Team Rocket?” Brock asked. Ash nodded.

    “I know that they aren’t exactly considerate people, but I know what it feels like to be missing a friend,” he said.

    “They’d never do it for you,” Dawn warned.

    “That’s what sets me apart from them,” Ash answered.

    “Umm, guys?” Rey called from further up the path, “we have a slight problem here.”

    “What is it?” Ash asked, as they rounded the corner.

    “This massive cliff,” Rey answered, gazing up at the towering escarpment only a few feet away.

    “It’s not exactly a problem,” May said. “All we have to do is use our flying Pokemon to get up there.”

    “Flying?” Rey asked, a little faintly. She took several steps backwards into Brock. “Why don’t we walk around it instead?”

    “This cliff is the first outcrop of the Tohjo Mountain Range,” Brock answered. “Beyond this there are some foothills and then the actual mountains. At the dead centre and on the border between Kanto and Johto is Mount Silver. Walking around it would take days.”

    “Besides,” Ash added, “the quickest way to go is over this cliff. Once we’re up there it’s only a couple of hours to Tohjo Falls, and then we can follow the river south to Pallet Town. We’ll save a lot of time.”

    “Well then, can I walk around and catch up to you guys later?” Rey asked nervously.

    “Hang on,” Dawn said, frowning. “I remember when we were going through that secret passageway near Viridian City with the Frontier Brains; you were terrified of getting in and out of it. You had to be calmed down by a Sweet Scent.” She took a breath and looked the older trainer in the eyes. “Rey, are you afraid of heights?” she asked.

    Acutely aware that everybody was watching her, Rey blushed, pulled the rim of her hat down to shield her eyes and muttered, “Yes.”

    “But you were fine before, when you got Wobbuffet to the Battle Tower so quickly,” Brock pointed out.

    “I was so worried about Wobbuffet that I didn’t even think about it,” she admitted. “Plus, my eyes were closed.”

    “Close them again?” May suggested.

    “Wobba!” Wobbuffet agreed.

    “But all I’ll be able to think of this time is that I’m in the air and flying?” Rey said, her eyes wide. “What if I fall off?”

    “Don’t,” Ash advised, calling out Staraptor. “Take her up and hurry back!”

    “Starrr!” Staraptor nodded, flapping into flight and grabbing Rey’s bag with its talons.

    “Hold on tight to his legs, Rey!” Ash shouted as Staraptor soared upwards.

    “No! No! Let me down!” she screamed. “Put me back down right now! I’m going to kill you, Ash Ketchum!” Ash laughed as Staraptor soared over the face of the cliff, reappearing only a moment later with Rey conspicuously absent.

    “Ready, everyone?” he asked, calling out Charizard and Pidgeot.

    “Of course!” Dawn said brightly. “I’ve always wanted to ride a Pidgeot!”

    “Then I’ll go with May and Wobbuffet on Charizard,” Brock said, patting the fire-type on the wing.

    “You can handle another trip, right Staraptor?” Ash asked.

    “Starap!”

    Ash swung his legs over Staraptor’s back and held on tightly to the crest. “Let’s go!” he shouted, and Staraptor immediately beat his wings with an almost frenetic fury, so great was his joy to be flying for even such a short while. Ash whooped and let go of the crest, holding onto his Pokemon with only his knees as it accelerated at an incredible pace. They burst over the edge of the cliff, Staraptor’s belly just clearing the soil, and landed in a flurry of wing-beats in the midst of a clearing.

    Ash dismounted and stretched, noticing the forest that stretched out around them and towards the foothills. “That was fun, huh?” he asked Staraptor as the flying-type to the sky once more.

    “Ash!” Rey screamed, storming over to him. “You’d better run, because if I catch up to you.”

    “Easy, easy,” Brock said, jumping off of Charizard as Dawn arrived on Pidgeot. “We’re up here now, so it’s really nothing to get so angry about.”

    “Agreed,” May said as she walked over to the edge to see how far up they’d flown, holding onto a nearby tree for safety. “It really wasn’t all that bad.”

    “It was horrible!” Rey shouted.

    “It’s about to get worse,” a cold voice said. Paul dropped out of the tree May was holding, landing lightly and grabbing the Coordinator by the arm. Breaking her grip on the bark, he manoeuvred her stunned body so that she leaned precariously over the edge.

    “Hello, Ash,” he said in an almost friendly tone. “Long time no see.”
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    And here we go, likely the last chapter for quite a while. Please don't ask me how I got this done so fast, because I honestly have no idea. I just hope that you'll all enjoy it; most of this chapter is one big battle!

    Chapter 38: Betrayal


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash felt his insides turn to ice at the sight of May dangling precariously over the edge of the cliff. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t move. He could barely hear. All he could see was May, her face pale, her eyes swimming with fear.

    “Hello, Ash,” Paul said, sounding almost friendly. “Long time no see. How’ve you been?”

    “What do you want?” Ash asked, and Paul quickly dropped the facade.

    “You have something I need,” he said, steel in his voice. “Give me the GS Ball and I won’t drop her. It’s as simple as that.”

    “What if I don’t have it anymore?” Ash asked. “I might have given it away, or buried it somewhere.”

    “The very fact that you ask that question in that tone proves that you do have it,” Paul responded. “Drop the act, Ash; it’s pathetic. Give it to me now.” He noticed Dawn reaching slowly towards a Poke Ball at her waist and shook his head. “Don’t any of you bother trying to take out your Pokemon,” he said. “James! Cover them!”

    James dropped out of a tree on the edge of the forest and approached slowly. “This isn’t what I agreed to do,” he said to Paul. “You told me that you needed help capturing some Pokemon. If I’d known this was what you would resort to, holding a girl over the edge of a cliff... I would have rather stayed in that cell and died like you planned me to when you betrayed me.”

    “That wish is my command,” Cassidy shouted. At the sound of her voice, everybody turned to the cliff edge to see Cassidy, Butch, and Damian clambering over the side, the latter two exhausted.

    “What are you doing here?” Paul demanded of Damian roughly. Damian raised an eyebrow.

    “Is that any way to talk to your brother?” he asked. “We’re after the Plates, and your blue-haired friend here happens to have one of them; the Insect Plate if I’m no mistaken.” James gaped.

    “How... how...”

    “You practically told us yourself,” Cassidy snarled. “’I hope you find that green plate of yours’; none of us said what it looks like!”

    “You *******,” Brock said in a deathly quiet tone that nevertheless managed to capture everyone’s attention.

    “Who, me?” Damian yelped, realizing that the breeder’s eyes were fixated on him.

    “So you work with Team Rocket... I should have known that would be all you ended up good for after the last time we met,” he growled.

    “We’ve met before?” Damian asked, confused.

    “Brock, who is this guy?” Ash asked, his eyes not straying from May’s terrified face.

    “Don’t you remember, Ash?” Brock asked. “Think back to the very start of your Pokemon journey. You, Misty, and I were walking through the forest towards Vermillion City when we found a stray Charmander on a rocky outcrop. Its trainer had abandoned it there, and was bragging in the nearby Pokemon Centre of how many strong Pokemon he had to compensate for it.”

    “Why does everyone have to keep bringing up that weak little Charmander?” Damian asked in frustration. “First it’s James talking about it, and now you! It was ten years ago, give it a rest already. That Charmander was the most pathetic -” He didn’t get any further. Charizard let out a bellow of rage and flew straight towards him, shooting out intense streams of fire at his old trainer, his eyes crimson with rage.

    Taking advantage of the interruption, Cassidy leapt out of Charizard’s path and sent out both Raticate and Houndoom. “Attack him!” she screamed, pointing towards James. “Kill him now!” Dazed by Charizard’s sudden attack and his own foolishness in admitting his possession of the Insect Plate, James didn’t even realize that his life was in danger. In the corner of his eyes he caught sight of a tinge of red, turned, and saw the intense Overheat shot from Houndoom’s jaws about to consume his body.

    Fortunately, Brock, Dawn, and Rey were far more aware.

    Two blasts of water intercepted the flames, reducing it to steam mere inches from James’s body; he instinctively covered his eyes and turned away, the steam still hot enough to scald his bare skin.

    “James, move!” Brock roared as Dawn’s Empoleon leapt back to her side, its Aqua Jet finished. “Get behind us now! We’ll keep you protected!”

    Almost unaware of what was happening between Charizard and Damian, Cassidy and James, Ash ran. To his racing mind, it seemed as if he was moving in slow motion as he charged towards Paul and May, desperate to save the girl he loved. Paul’s eyes caught sight of his movement, and his gaze shifted from that of Charizard and Damian towards Ash.

    “Not a chance,” he said softly, letting go of May’s wrist. “Bye bye.”

    Ash!” she screamed, terror clouding her voice as she scrabbled desperately at the loose rock before plummeting out of sight.

    “May! No!” he shouted. He moved almost without guidance; as one arm dealt Paul a devastating blow to the jaw, the other reached towards his belt. “Bulbasaur! Bayleef! Use your Vine Whip and catch her! Staraptor, use Quick Attack and get below her now!” As Staraptor shot downwards, Bulbasaur and Bayleef appeared, their vines already extended as they sought to catch sight of their target. May screamed as the rock face shot by, still trying to get a purchase on the cliffside but now tumbling head over heels.

    And then it was over.

    Two sets of vines wrapped securely around her body, halting her fall abruptly. Staraptor supported her weight from below as Bulbasaur and Bayleef reeled their vines in, slowly pulling her back up the cliff. She gasped hoarsely, her limbs trembling with fear and adrenaline at her near miss.

    “It’s okay, May, I’ve got you,” Ash reassured her as he reached over the edge, grabbed her hand, and pulled her back onto the ground. “Are you alright?” She nodded, unable to speak, her heart still pounding.

    Paul climbed slowly to his feet, wiping a dribble of blood from his mouth. “You knew it would come to this,” he said to Ash quietly. “You’ve known it since Oak told you I’m after the GS Ball.”

    “And I’m ready for it too,” Ash retorted, moving May away from the cliff edge, his hand reaching towards his Poke Balls.

    “Let’s say three-on-three, type-on-type,” Paul said, grabbing a Ball of his own. “There won’t be any doubt over who the stronger trainer is this time.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Raticate, use Hyper Fang on that Swampert!” Cassidy screamed.

    “Beat it back with Razor Leaf, Venusaur!” Rey shouted.

    “Hitmontop, stop it with a Triple Kick!” Butch commanded.

    “Use your Drill Peck on Hitmontop, Empoleon,” Dawn shouted.

    “Flamethrower! Empoleon is part steel!” Cassidy shouted at her Houndoom.

    “Knock them all away with a Hydro Cannon, Swampert!” Brock ordered.

    “There’s too much going on, too many Pokemon involved!” Butch shouted to Cassidy frantically. “I can’t keep track of what I’m supposed to attacking or countering!”

    “Your battle skills need work!” Brock shouted to them both. “You don’t have a chance!”

    “My Houndoom is stronger than any Pokemon you have!” Cassidy screamed back, looking almost deranged.

    “It isn’t about strength; it’s about teamwork and heart!” Dawn called back, Empoleon demonstrating her words as it took Raticate out of the battle. Cassidy saw her opening as Empoleon moved too far forwards.

    “Houndoom, get it back with your Faint Attack!” she shouted. Houndoom lunged forwards viciously and was promptly flattened a Seed Bomb from Rey’s Venusaur.

    “I told you; teamwork,” Dawn grinned as Cassidy looked at her two defeated Pokemon, absolutely flabbergasted.

    “Hitmontop, use Mega Kick!” Butch shouted.

    “Sludge!” James shouted, calling out Weezing.

    “So, you’ve stopped hiding behind them, have you?” Cassidy taunted.

    “I don’t need to hide from you,” James growled. He looked back at Brock, Dawn, and Rey. “Thanks for saving me,” he said softly. “I’ll take her on from here.”

    “But,” Dawn began. Brock grabbed her arm and shook his head.

    “This is James’s fight,” he told her.

    Cassidy grinned as she recalled her Houndoom and Raticate, fingering the last Poke Ball on her belt. “I’m going to enjoy this,” she murmured. “Sableye, let’s go!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Charizard, back off,” Ash ordered. “I hate Damian too, but at least give him the chance to see how strong you are in an actual battle against other Pokemon.”

    “Brave words,” Paul sneered. “You’ll need everything you have to go against my Pokemon and win. And since your Charizard is busy with my brother... Magmortar, go!” The massive fire-type burst out in a blaze of red light, roaring a challenge towards Ash.

    “I’m disappointed in you, Paul,” Ash said. “You’re taking advantage of my Charizard destroying your brother in battle? I expected more. But since you’ve chosen a fire-type, I’ll go with Cyndaquil!”

    “Cinda,” Cyndaquil said, sniffing the air and igniting the flame on its back. Paul burst out laughing.

    “You’re battling my Magmortar with a Cyndaquil?” he said. “Are you really that desperate to lose?”

    “We’ve got some techniques ready for you,” Ash shot back. “Bayleef, you’re in there too!”

    “What do you mean ‘Bayleef is in there too’?” Paul snapped.

    “It’s a three-on-three battle, isn’t it?” Ash asked. “You’re not saying that you meant one at a time, are you? Where’s the challenge in that?” Paul grimaced.

    “At the same time it is then,” he growled. “Torterra, come on out!” Then a truly evil grin split across his face. “No matter what you do against Magmortar and Torterra, you’ll never be able to beat my last Pokemon,” he said, holding up a violet Poke Ball that was crossed with jet-black streaks. “The Dark Ball takes the power of a Pokemon and increases it to the highest level possible. And what better power to use than that of a legendary Pokemon?” He smirked as the colour drained from Ash’s face. “Celebi, let’s go!”

    Ash watched aghast as the once pure and gentle Time-travel Pokemon emerged, a dark aura pulsating around it. He clenched his fists in anger as he glared across at Paul. “What you’ve done... it’s just evil,” he hissed.

    “I do what I need to do,” Paul said with a shrug. “What’s your response? Bulbasaur?”

    “Bulba!” Bulbasaur said fiercely, springing forward fiercely.

    “Not this time, Bulbasaur,” Ash said, holding the grass-type back. “I have the perfect counter for that Celebi, and her name is Latias!”

    “Latias?” Paul said sharply as the legendary Pokemon burst from her Poke Ball. “So that’s where she went to... No wonder we couldn’t find it.”

    “Ready, Paul?” Ash asked, snapping him out of his brief reverie. “Cyndaquil, let’s show why you’re the perfect match for Magmortar! It’s time!”

    “Cyndaaa... QUILLLL!” Cyndaquil screamed, its entire body beginning to glow with a pulsating white aura. Its body slowly lengthened, its pointed snout becoming rounder, and the flame at the centre of its back began to migrate towards the top of its head and the end of its back, all covered under the glow.

    “No way,” May whispered.

    “Quilava!” the Pokemon shouted, throwing away the last vestiges of luminescent light.

    “Perfect,” Ash said with satisfaction. “I knew you were ready to evolve.”

    “We have even started battling yet,” Paul growled. “This doesn’t make any difference at all! Flamethrower!”

    “Smokescreen!”

    “Razor Leaf!”

    “Vine Whip!”

    “Fire Punch!”

    “Lava Plume!”

    It was a battle like May had never seen before. Scarcely had one attack been called when another was ordered. The Pokemon ducked and weaved, attacking at every opportunity and ducking away at the last moment before launching a counter-offensive. The action was a blur, and how Ash and Paul could keep track of what was happening with each Pokemon she had no idea; she could barely follow it herself.

    Ash called for a Flamethrower from Quilava, and merely a second later ordered it to use Smokescreen and then Quick Attack. In the brief moments between commands, Paul took advantage and ordered his Magmortar to use Fire Spin, followed up almost immediately by a Confuse Ray and a Thunder Punch. And yet, Bayleef and Torterra were still battling too. Each Pokemon moved with a sinewy grace, the other’s attacks barely sliding by before they launched a reciprocal attack. It was impossible to keep a track of, the absolute speed and ferocity of each attack, yet none seemed to make a hit.

    “Flame Wheel, Vine Whip, Swift, Body Slam, Smokescreen, Headbutt!” Ash shouted without taking time for a breath.

    “Lava Plume, Wood Hammer, Faint Attack, Leaf Storm, Karate Chop, Giga Drain!” Paul shouted.

    Each seemed to anticipate the other’s moves before they were launched, and so they ordered a perfect counter-attack before being put on the defence again. By some unspoken agreement, both Latias and Celebi were not being ordered to battle at this time. May thought she understood why; the battle with two Pokemon was confusing and hard enough to deal with; three would have been impossible. Then Ash finally saw an opening and seized his chance.

    “Quilava, Flame Wheel-Flare Blitz combo,” he shouted.

    “Flamethrower,” Paul ordered. The fiery stream of flames shot from Magmortar’s mouth and smashed into Quilava; exactly what Ash had been aiming for. The Flame Wheel was blown away by the ferocity of the attack, but it acted as a protective shield for the Flare Blitz underneath. The remaining Flamethrower enshrouded Quilava and its Flare Blitz, causing the attack to be even more powerful than it would be normally. With the power of two attacks in one, Quilava smashed into Magmortar, sending it reeling backwards where it collapsed.

    But in the time it had taken Ash to order the dual attack, Paul had seen his own opportunity. Bayleef was waiting for a command that was not forthcoming, and she was hit by a consecutive combination of Wood Hammer and Leaf Storm. Both Bayleef and Magmortar collapsed, unable to go on any further.

    “Great job, Bayleef,” Ash said softly, recalling her. “You did great; I couldn’t have asked for more.” He turned to Quilava, whose four legs were trembling with exhaustion and whose flames had shut off; the fire-type looked as if it was about to collapse. “That was fantastic,” he said, gently lifting the tired Pokemon in his arms. “You proved just how strong you really were to him. I’m incredibly proud of you.”

    “Quill...” Quilava murmured, for a moment sounding like a Cyndaquil again.

    “Take a good rest,” Ash said, recalling the fire-type. He turned to Paul, who had recalled Magmortar and Torterra without comment. “And now the real battle begins,” he said.

    “Your Latias is no match against a Dark Pokemon,” Paul scowled. “Give up now.”

    “Fortunately, Latias has a power you don’t even know about,” Ash said. “It’s amazing what a Pokemon can do after they’ve recovered from the Pokerus.” Paul scowled again.

    “Leaf Storm!” he ordered.

    “DragonBreath!”

    “Confusion!”

    “Psychic!”

    “Perish Song!” Paul shouted. He looked across at Ash. “It’s now or never,” he said as a cacophony of screeches filled the air. “Think you can defeat this?”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In contrast to the furious and fast-paced battle between Ash and Paul, James’s battle against Cassidy seemed almost boring. But for James, it was no less important than the triple battle only a few feet away; his very life depended on the outcome.

    “Sludge,” James ordered. Cassidy laughed.

    “Your poison attacks won’t even dent my Sableye,” she chuckled as the attack hit her Pokemon. “You’ve got no chance against me. Sableye, use Shadow Ball and follow it up with a Zen Headbutt!”

    “Nyai,” Sableye grinned, launching a black ball at Weezing and using it as cover while it ran towards Weezing, the top of its head glowing blue.

    “Weezing, stop that with a Sludge Bomb!” James cried out desperately. The two attacks collided and nullified against each other, but through the debris of fused attacks, Sableye launched itself straight at Weezing. The powerful psychic attack smashed directly into the poison-type, and Weezing crashed to the ground in pain.

    “Follow it up with Shadow Claw,” Cassidy said indifferently, and Weezing roared in pain as the attack hit its mark.

    “This is bad,” Brock said in a low voice to Dawn and Rey. “Weezing can’t keep going like this. One more attack and it’s finished. Get ready; we may have to step in and save James.”

    “Finish it off with Power Gem,” Cassidy ordered.

    “We aren’t finished yet!” James shouted. “Weezing, use Pain Split!” A red beam shot out of Weezing and smashed straight into Sableye. The ghost-type gasped and fell to its knees as a massive surge of pain tore through its body, draining away its strength.

    Weezing, on the other hand, suddenly felt significantly more powerful and rested. Its body seemed to crackle with energy, and it was able to regain the air.

    “Much better,” James grinned. “Time to turn this around, Weezing! Use your Will-O-Wisp and follow it with an Assurance!” A massive blue ball of fire sped towards Sableye; it tried to escape, but the sudden shock of losing so much energy prevented it from moving. The flames enveloped the ghost-type, causing it to scream in pain. Weezing burst through the fiery mire, its body coloured black, colliding with Sableye and forcing it out of the flames. The ghost-type struggled to its knees and collapsed, unable to move.

    “Assurance... it doubles the power of the move if the opponent was damaged just before the attack was launched,” James told a stunned Cassidy. “Your Sableye never had a chance.”

    Damian staggered over towards Butch and Cassidy, his clothes singed and his entire body reeking of smoke. “That Charizard just took out all of my Pokemon, one after the other, without even getting a scratch,” he gasped. “I’ve never seen anything like it; it destroyed me, and it wasn’t even being commanded!”

    Charizard snorted with disdain as it stomped over towards Brock, Rey, Dawn, and James. Its eyes continued to glow fiercely as it glared at Damian, and it let out a roar that caused everyone’s heart to skip with fear.

    “You see what your ignorance has done?” Brock asked him quietly. “In your desire for strong Pokemon, you cast aside the strongest Pokemon of all. You lost the chance to grow and learn with your Pokemon. It’s obvious that you and Paul are brothers. Neither of you take the time with your Pokemon.”

    Further comment was forestalled by a massive explosion from the battle between Latias and Celebi. Everyone coughed as a massive cloud of smoke blew across them, and when it cleared they saw that both Latias and Celebi were unmoving on the ground.

    Ash’s and Paul’s eyes never left each other as they silently recalled their fallen Pokemon. Almost in unison, they both slowly backed away, neither one daring to turn their back to the other.

    “Come on, guys,” Ash called, moving slowly towards the cliff. “This battle is over. We’re going back to the Battle Tower.”

    “Back to Headquarters,” Paul ordered Damian, Cassidy, and Butch. “You get the Plates back to Giovanni, and I’ll give him the Celebi.” His eyes bored into Ash. “This isn’t over,” he warned. “I won’t stop until I get the GS Ball.”

    “And I won’t stop until it’s destroyed,” Ash replied as he released Pidgeot and climbed onto its back. Paul eyed him a moment longer before turning and vanishing into the forest, followed by Damian, Cassidy and Butch.

    “What about you?” Brock asked James as May, Dawn, and an unusually pensive Wobbuffet climbed onto Charizard’s back. “What are you going to do now?”

    “I don’t know...” James answered miserably. “I can’t ever go back to base; they’d kill me on the spot if I did. As of this moment, I am officially out of Team Rocket.”

    “Come with us,” Dawn offered. “We’ve got your Wobbuffet, and I’m sure it’ll be glad of a friendly face.”

    “Wobba wobba!” Wobbuffet agreed, throwing James a makeshift salute from its perch on Charizard’s back.

    “You can ride on Staraptor,” Ash said. “It’s only a short flight, so try not to fall off.”

    “What are you two going to ride on?” James asked Brock and Rey, hesitating to take the last flying Pokemon.

    “I’ll just get my Sudowoodo to use Mimic,” Brock said, sending out the rock-type and recalling Swampert.

    “And I have a Xatu I can fly on,” Rey added, switching her Venusaur with it.

    “Over your fear of heights then, I guess?” Dawn asked, watching her beadily.

    “It doesn’t really seem all that important at the moment, in light of what’s just happened,” Rey said, avoiding the young Coordinator’s eyes.

    “Ready to go, everyone?” Ash asked. “Pidgeot; back to the Battle Tower!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “What? He’s captured a Latias?” Giovanni exclaimed incredulously. Paul nodded.

    “I battled it with the Celebi I just gave you. It’s been trained to an amazingly powerful level, and it even drew against the Dark Celebi. I think he said it was infected with the Pokerus before.”

    “And they were heading this way?” Giovanni asked.

    “They were,” Paul answered. “For now, they’ve gone back to the Battle Tower.”

    “Then we have to go and retrieve it immediately,” Giovanni decided.

    “No,” Paul cut in quickly. “As much as I hate to admit it, he’s an incredibly powerful trainer; on par with Cynthia. And it’s not just the Latias we need from him. He has the GS Ball too.”

    “What?” Giovanni asked quietly.

    “And one of his companions has the Insect Plate,” Damian added.

    “Who?” Giovanni asked.

    “The guy Paul captured and then took with him,” Damian said with relish. “James has the Plate.”

    “I wanted him killed,” Giovanni said to Paul quietly. “Now he’s escaped, and with a Plate to boot!”

    “If I hadn’t taken James with me to Hoenn, the Insect Plate would never have been found,” Paul said defensively. “It fell out of a tree, and James was the one who decided to take it with him. I didn’t recognize it for what it was, since I was never told what the Plates look like! If I had been given that information, I would have taken it from him easily.”

    Giovanni stood and began pacing. “So this trainer has a Latias, the GS Ball, and his companion has the Insect Plate,” he mused. “Yet you say that we shouldn’t go to the Battle Tower and take it from him; do you have an alternative, Paul?”

    “I do,” Paul answered. “I know Ash better than he realizes; he was on a course straight for Tohjo Falls. He knows that going to Tohjo Falls and then following the river south is the fastest way to the coast. My guess is that he’ll head for the river again, but this time he’ll go around the cliff.”

    “North or south?” Giovanni asked.

    “North,” Paul said without hesitation. “He’ll circle the cliffs north until he reaches the river and head south from there. We can trap him there; the river is only a few hours away from here. We circle the path, surround him, and take Latias and the GS Ball away from him. Then we confiscate his Pokemon and bring him back here.”

    “And then I will only need to clone Latios, capture Ho-Oh, and find the Zap Plate,” Giovanni murmured.

    “What about the Unknown Plate?” Damian asked in surprise. “We didn’t have it with us.”

    “The Unknown Plate was found in the ruins of Pokemopolis,” Giovanni answered. “It is now stored with the other plates.”

    “Only Latios and Ho-Oh?” Paul interrupted. “There’s one more, isn’t there?”

    “One more?” Giovanni repeated, puzzled. “No, I have all of the other legendary Pokemon; Hunter J, Bashou, Buson, and a lucky pair of Grunts saw to that.”

    “Ah, but you wouldn’t remember, would you?” Paul said softly. “Your memory was lost.”

    “My memory was lost? What are you talking about?” Giovanni asked.

    “Over ten years ago, you commissioned a group of Rocket scientists led by Dr. Fuji to clone Mew.”

    “Yes, I remember that. The experiment was a failure; the lab exploded, every scientist was killed, and we abandoned the project,” Giovanni said.

    “You’re wrong,” Paul said. “The experiment was a complete success. You cloned Mew and created a new legendary Pokemon; Mewtwo. Check your files, if you don’t believe me.”

    “How am I supposed to check files that aren’t there?” Giovanni asked in exasperation.

    “Go into the secret database and enter the password ‘Mewclonealpha’,” Paul said. Eying his son suspiciously, Giovanni nevertheless opened the monitor of the computer and dubiously typed it in.”

    “What the?” he shouted in surprise as dozens of files began popping up.

    “Happy reading,” Paul said, turning away.

    “But how did you know?” Giovanni asked.

    “Simple,” Paul answered. “Mewtwo wiped your mind; not mine. Damian, let’s go; I want to take a look at the legendary Pokemon we have.”

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Just an observation but I found it interesting how, everywhere I posted this story, people seemed most interested in the Ash vs. Paul battle. Yet nobody gave any consideration to the fact that Charizard could meet up with its old trainer.

    As ever, please review!
    Last edited by Matkin22; 14th August 2008 at 4:35 AM.
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
    Pikashipping: Raikou's Test, Emotions
    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
    Other: Reaching Out, Welcome Home

  23. #73
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    Nov 2007
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    This chapter was actually completed over two weeks ago, but I've been waiting before uploading it. Why? Well, the first chapter of Final Challenge was posted on FF.net on September 6th, 2007. And I plan to end it there on September 5th, exactly one year to the day after it was begun. To me, there's something meaningful about that. And it makes sense to post the final chapters relatively close together so that I don't keep you unfairly hanging. My update here on Serebii will be on the 6th or the 7th. Sorry to keep you all waiting for so long with this update. I'm writing the final chapter now, but I'm running out of time to complete it. It basically has to be done by the 30th since I'll have no time to write for at least a week after that. Anyways, on with the chapter!

    Enjoy... (and I'd really appreciate it if I could get some feedback on these last few chapters).

    Chapter 39: Revival


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    The Beast flew, rage still clouding its heart as it searched for its child. The child stolen by humans for a second time. Its speed was so great as it passed over land and sea that it seemed to those who saw it from below to be no more than a silver streak of light, a trick of the dimming light perhaps. Where its child was it knew not, but it sensed that the distance between them was shrinking. But it was more than desperation to be reunited with its progeny that drew the Beast onwards.

    As it flew it felt a great longing, a desire, an unavoidable pull in the same direction it sensed its child. As time passed, the pull seemed to become stronger and stronger. Others were in danger too, not just the child.

    The urge to help was irresistible.

    And that was when it saw it, in the dimming light of twilight.

    The Golden One.

    Its rival, its friend, its enemy, its companion, its equal; the Golden One seemed to shine with a light that the failing sun did not possess. It amplified the area, bathing its surroundings in a beautiful and radiant glow. The Beast slowed its speed and began to circle cautiously, one that the Golden One quickly joined into. They circled each other, gazing at their equal and their opposite, communicating through their eyes.

    And then the Golden One broke away, gaining height and moving in the same direction that the Beast was drawn.

    The Beast hesitated for only a moment before turning and following. Where they were bound, they knew not. But the Beast was determined to help its child, and there were the others who were also in danger. Yes, the others, the ones that the Golden One was bound to help.

    They were rivals, true, but in this act they would be allies. The Beast and the Golden One united.

    None could stand before them.

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    Anabel sat at the desk in her small house that lay only a short distance from the Battle Tower, wondering whether her hair was long enough to attempt putting it into a ponytail for once. She had only just grasped her hairbrush, when a knock came at the door. She sighed and placed the hairbrush back on the desk before standing and leaving her bedroom. “Come in,” she called as she began to descend the stairs. “It’s not locked.”

    The door creaked open and she ran down the last few stairs in delight, throwing her arms around the man who stood in the entranceway. “Noland!” she shouted. “What are you doing here?” He laughed and twirled her around once before stepping into the house.

    “When was the last time any of us visited one another?” he asked. “The last time we were all together was at that Press Conference, and before that it was the match between Ash and Cynthia. I can’t even remember what the time before that was.”

    “Neither can I,” Anabel admitted. “It was probably either at Ash’s induction ceremony, or at Spenser’s retirement party.” She let go of him and stood back. “Well don’t just stand there, come in! Do you want a drink or anything?”

    “I’d love a glass of Sitrus Berry juice,” he said, and Anabel made a face.

    “Ugh, that stuff’s too sweet for me,” she said. “I can get you some Oran Berry juice though.” Noland cocked an eyebrow.

    “Oran Berry? I guess you really like that blend of sour and spicy. But I may as well; it’s been a while since I tried it. Who knows, I might like it this time around!”

    “I’ll be right back,” Anabel promised as she moved towards the kitchen. “Make yourself comfortable if you like; do you have any bags with you?”

    “Just the rucksack on my back; it’s got a change of clothes in there among some other things,” he answered, moving to take a look at the pictures that adorned the walls and cabinets situated around the room. A sad smile crossed his face as the memories they preserved seemed to leap into focus around him. There was one of Anabel battling Lucy, the last match she’d needed to win before becoming a Frontier Brain. Another showed Anabel grouped with her six Pokemon; Alakazam, Hypno, Metagross, Espeon, Xatu, and Grumpig. There was one portrait he cast a fond eye over that depicted her with the rest of the Frontier Brains, Spenser, Ash, and Scott included. That had been a fantastic day of fun at the Battle Colosseum just after its construction had been completed, he recalled.

    His eye was drawn to another photo standing on the mantelpiece a few feet away. It depicted Anabel standing next to a tall man he did not recognize, their arms on each other’s shoulders, and big smiles on both their faces. He took a closer look, intrigued. The man had a likeable air about him and there was genuine warmth in his eyes. A Staraptor could be seen, barely visible over his shoulder. He heard footsteps and took a step back, turning as Anabel entered the room.

    “I’ve got your juice,” she said, sliding through the doorway and trying not to accidentally bump against the wall with the tray she carried. “I brought out some cookies too; I hope you don’t mind Digestives, they’re all I have in the house at the moment.”

    “Digestives sound great,” Noland said with a smile, settling comfortably into a nearby armchair.

    “Here’s your juice,” Anabel said, passing over a tall glass filled with a sparkling blue juice.

    “Thanks,” he said, taking it gratefully.

    “So what brings you out this way?” Anabel asked. “I have a hard time believing that it’s just to see me for a few days.”

    “Believe it or not, that’s exactly why I’m here,” Noland replied, helping himself to a cookie. “I’m bored of being on my own at the Battle Factory, and challenges have been pretty thin on the ground recently. It’s been ages since I went to see some friends, so I figured why not just head out and meet up with some people? I hope you don’t mind me showing up so unexpectedly.”

    “Not at all!” Anabel beamed. “I’ve been feeling kind of lonely too, recently. It’s been so long since somebody stopped by for pleasure as opposed to a battle. Ash and some of his friends were actually here yesterday, but they only stopped for a night before leaving this morning. He promised to stop by again after dropping something off at Professor Oak’s lab though, so I’m hoping to see him again soon.”

    “Looks like I just missed him then,” Noland said. “Too bad he was in such a hurry; I’d like to show him how much stronger Dugtrio has gotten already.” He took a tentative sip of his juice and immediately pulled a face. Anabel giggled.

    “Looks like you’re still not a fan of it,” she said, taking the glass from him. “Would you like some Miltank Milk instead?”

    “Like it? I’d love it!” he exclaimed. “It’d go perfectly with those Digestives! Why did you bring in that juice if you had the milk?”

    “I just wanted to see the expression on your face,” she grinned, backing into the kitchen. Noland sighed and sank back into the chair, closing his eyes briefly.

    “Hey, Anabel,” he called, his eyes still shut.

    “Hmm?”

    “Who’s that guy you’re with in the picture on the mantelpiece?” he asked. Anabel poked her head back around the door, curious about what picture he meant.

    “Oh, that picture,” she said. “That’s my cousin, Reggie; he lives in Sinnoh. I only met him the one time, but he was a really nice guy and a fantastic Pokemon breeder. That Staraptor behind him is the first Pokemon he captured. I never met his other family members; he didn’t seem to want to talk about them all that much.”

    “Oh... that’s too bad,” Noland said, opening his eyes and turning to look at the picture again. “He seems like a really likeable guy. Which side are you related on?”

    “Well his dad was my dad’s brother,” she answered. “They had a big falling out before I was born, and my Dad cut off contact with him. When he died, Reggie somehow heard about it and sent a condolence card. He was the only one on my Dad’s side who did. I have no idea how he managed to find our address or anything, but I sent him a reply thanking him. We’ve kept in touch since then, and when I toured Sinnoh last year I arranged to drop in at his house. That’s when we got the picture taken.”

    There was a knock at the door, and Anabel looked at it in surprise. “Two in a day?” she asked almost wonderingly.

    “I’ll get it,” Noland said, standing and stretching. “You finish getting rid of that disgusting juice,” he added with a wink. Anabel laughed.

    “Sure, whatever,” she chuckled, heading back into the kitchen. As she rinsed out Noland’s glass she heard him opening the front door, followed by a few indiscernible whispers. There were footsteps and then a knock on the kitchen door. She turned and shrieked, dropping the glass by accident.

    “Hi Anabel,” Ash said sheepishly. “Mind if we stay for a bit longer?”

    “Chahhh,” Pikachu groaned, having leapt off of Ash’s shoulder in an attempt to catch the glass which was now firmly wedged between his ears.

    “Oops,” Anabel said, blushing slightly. “Sorry about that Pikachu, and thanks for catching it; this glass is one of my favourites.” She reached down and gently took it off of Pikachu’s head, scratching him quickly behind one ear in thanks.

    “So what brings you back here so soon, Ash?” she asked. “I thought you were going to Tohjo Falls and then Pallet Town before visiting me again.”

    “Paul caught up to us,” Ash answered. “He was waiting for us on the cliff.”

    “Did... did he get it?” Anabel asked, almost afraid to know the answer.

    “No,” Ash answered, shaking his head. “He challenged me to a battle over it, which we drew. If it wasn’t for Bayleef, Quilava, and Latias...”

    “Sit down, sit down,” Anabel urged, ushering him back into the sitting room where Noland, May, Brock, Dawn, and Rey sat, chatting. James stood slightly to one side, a little unsure of what he should do, Wobbuffet by his side. Anabel raised an eyebrow when she saw him. “Looks like you’ve got another friend with you,” she observed.

    “‘Friend’ might be a little too nice a term,” James said.

    “What do I call you then?” Anabel asked.

    “Friend is fine,” Ash interrupted. “We’ve saved each other’s lives a few times over the years. And you’re allowed to sit down, James.” James nodded and moved slowly over to the couch where he sat slightly hesitantly next to Dawn, an emotion that Ash couldn’t identify sparkling in his green eyes.

    “Your friends were just telling me what’s been going on, Ash,” Noland said as Anabel returned to the kitchen. He leaned forward, scrutinizing Ash closely. “Are you okay? You’re looking very stressed and tired.” Ash nodded.

    “I’ll be okay,” he said. “The battle today was really draining, and I was so worried that I might lose May when Paul was holding her over the cliff. I just need some sleep, that’s all.”

    “And what will you do then?”

    “I’m heading out again tomorrow,” Ash answered. “Paul knows we’re here; no point in just hanging around waiting for him to show up. It would be putting you and Anabel in danger, not to mention all of Anabel’s staff at the Battle Tower.”

    “You’re not going the same way again?” Noland asked, his eyebrows shooting up.

    “No; Paul knows we were trying to get to Tohjo Falls, and he’s bound to have some people watching that location for us.”

    “Some people?” Anabel asked as she re-entered the room with a fresh tray of drinks. “How many people are travelling with this guy?”

    “Paul’s part of Team Rocket,” James said. “He has been since he lost in the Sinnoh League. Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, is his father.”

    “So basically Paul could send any amount of people to Tohjo Falls to try and intercept us,” Dawn said.

    “That’s right,” James nodded. “Obviously Giovanni trusts his sons more than he does most others; it’s why Paul was sent after the GS Ball and Damian after the Plates.”

    “Makes me wonder how Reggie turned out so nice,” Ash muttered, reaching forward to take a glass. “I knew he’d cut off contact with Paul after the Sinnoh League, but I didn’t know it was because Paul had joined Team Rocket.”

    “So if you’re not going to Tohjo Falls, where are you going?” Noland asked.

    “Circling north,” Ash answered. “We can get to the river and follow it south from there. We won’t be going over the Falls; there’s a smaller distributary not many people know about that we can go along. It’ll take us further into the Mount Silver area, but it goes in the same general direction.”

    “Well then, I’m going with you,” Noland decided.

    “Huh?” Ash said.

    “What?” Anabel asked. “You just got here!”

    “Anabel, I’m sorry. But Ash and his friends will need as much help and protection that can be given. The Silver Highlands are full of dangerous, wild Pokemon, and it’s rumoured that Team Rocket Headquarters is somewhere in that area too. I have to go.”

    “Then I’m going too,” Anabel said, her face resolute.

    “No,” Ash said quickly.

    “It’s not an option,” she said, stubbornly crossing her arms.

    “It’s likely we may run into danger,” Noland said, choosing his words carefully. “That’s why we need you here.”

    “Oh, you think I can’t handle it?” she shouted, jumping to her feet in anger.

    “You could probably handle it better than most of us!” Noland barked, and then took several deep breaths in an effort to calm himself. “You have to be here in case we need to be bailed out,” he said more gently. “Call the other Frontier Brains; tell them to come here as soon as they can. If we’re in trouble and need help, I’ll signal with my modified Poke Ball.”

    “Modified Poke Ball?” Dawn asked.

    “Remember when we were outside of Viridian City?” Noland asked. “I let the other Frontier Brains know I’d found you by sending a green light into the air with a Poke Ball I’d modified. I’ll do the same thing this time if we’re in danger and need help.”

    “And what if they don’t come?” Anabel asked.

    “They will come,” Noland said simply, and she nodded; the Frontier Brains were such close friends that none of them would hesitate to help another if the need so arose.

    “Then I’ll stay here,” she said slowly. “The other Frontier Brains will need to be told what’s going on.”

    “Thank you,” Noland said softly.

    Ash looked away towards the couch where May, Dawn, Wobbuffet, and James sat, taking a big gulp of his juice as he did so. He gagged on reflex as the foul-tasting liquid splashed down his throat, pulling a face that caused Dawn to roar with laughter.

    “Sorry, Ash,” Anabel sighed, looking around to see the cause of the hilarity. “Looks like you got the Oran Berry Juice.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “Dere’s no way dey’re gonna be fooled by dis,” Meowth gulped nervously as Jessie, Max, and Drew led him and Silver out from under the trees and into the clearing.

    “Quiet,” Silver hissed, “act as if you’re beaten, not scared. Have faith in Jessie; it’s up to her to get us in.”

    “Yeah, no pressure,” she muttered, jerking Meowth’s rope sharply and making him stumble.

    “Hey, what was dat for?” he whined, barely keeping his balance.

    “Zip it, Meowth,” she snarled. “You’re being taken in for questioning over the location of your partners, Jessie and James. Any more smart-mouthing and you won’t be offered this fabulous deal Giovanni has come up with. Understand?” Meowth was about to give a very testy reply when he realized that they were already within hearing range of two Grunts standing guard by the entrance. His mouth went dry as he realized that they were watching the group intently; the closest had an air of cleverness and trickery about him, while the other seemed slightly brutish and dull.

    “I asked if you understand!” Jessie shouted, yanking the rope harshly and knocking Meowth to the ground, where he was dragged for several feet alongside Silver.

    “I understand,” he muttered, climbing to his feet and lowering his head in submission. Jessie didn’t deign to give him a response, turning instead towards the two Grunt guards.

    “S34, reporting in,” she said to the closer of the two, throwing a swift salute and managing to remember her supposed identify without glancing at the tag on her black uniform. “I apprehended a known fugitive and an escaped prisoner with the help of these two new recruits.” She nodded to each side as she spoke, pointing out both Max and Drew.

    “Why aren’t they wearing their uniforms?” he guard asked shrewdly. Jessie tapped him lightly on the head with her fist.

    “Didn’t you hear me?” she said, rolling her eyes. “They’re new recruits. That idiot tailor hasn’t made their uniforms yet; he gets lazier and lazier each time.”

    “Tell me about it,” the second guard nodded, completely taken in by her story and showing off his too-small uniform. “This thing shrunk a month ago, and I still haven’t been given a replacement. I’m getting tired of waiting.”

    “Whatever,” the first guard said, sounding bored. “Scan the escaped prisoner. Any Poke Balls on him?”

    “Why would a Meowth have Poke Balls?” the second asked, confused. The first groaned and turned on him.

    “Idiot!” he seethed. “Everyone was put on the lookout for Silver after he escaped, and this is that man!”

    “Well the alert was pulled after that Pokemon Hunter put paid to him,” the second Grunt said sulkily. “How was I to know?”

    “Hey, that’s right!” the first said, whirling back to face Jessie. “Pokemon Hunter J reported his death; how come he’s here right now?”

    “His Salamence was killed when they crashed, but Silver survived,” Jessie bluffed. “He was injured pretty badly, but managed to crawl into the woods underneath the dust cover. We found him unconscious in there.”

    “Then where did the Salamence go?” he asked cunningly. Jessie seemed to hesitate a moment, but quickly covered it with a haughty expression.

    “He didn’t know the Salamence was dead, so he recalled it,” she said. “When he realized that it had been killed, he buried the Poke Ball in the forest.”

    “Scan him,” the first guard ordered the second. He nodded and took out a calculator-sized device with one small screen and a curved edge which contained the scanner. The guard ran it up and down Silver’s torso, over the arms, and down the legs before repeating the manoeuvre at the back.

    “He’s clean,” he reported to the first, who nodded before taking a closer look at Jessie.

    “You know, S34, you look very similar to another fugitive; one who was partnered with this Meowth,” he said softly.

    “This isn’t good,” Max muttered to himself. Jessie let out a horribly false laugh.

    “That vain woman?” she chortled. “Hah, I met her once. I’ve never met somebody so obsessed with her hair before; she’d never even cut it short. I remember hearing once how a Seviper bit the end off, and she almost killed it with her bare hands!”

    “Check her,” the first guard ordered. “Check her, and then check the recruits. See what Pokemon they have on them.”

    “Skorupi... Carnivine... Mime Jr.” the second guard reported. “Only one match with the fugitive, and that is Skorupi.”

    “And the others?” the first barked. The second guard checked Drew first.

    “Roselia... Flygon... Furret... Masquerain... Absol,” he reported. “My, what a powerful bunch of Pokemon you have!”

    “Don’t worry about that, what about the last one?” the first guard ordered. “If he has a Salamence or a Seviper on him... well, we’ll just have to find out, won’t we?”

    Sweat began to gather in beads on Max’s skin as the second guard examined him with the scanner, checking him extra carefully. He swallowed nervously as the guard checked his back.

    “Gardevoir... Mareep... Grovyle... Claydol... Chikorita... No Salamence or Seviper.” Max’s eyes shot open in surprise.

    “Are we clear to go yet?” Jessie asked impatiently. “We need to deliver them to Professor Sebastian.”

    “Go on then,” the first guard said, waving them by. “Get yourselves inside.”

    Max waited until they were well past the guards before giving in to the temptation to sigh in relief. “I thought we’d be caught for sure,” he said.

    “No kidding,” Silver agreed, “I’m glad we decided to leave Salamence in the forest in case it gave us away.”

    “I don’t particularly care about your Salamence,” Jessie said, sounding extremely upset. “What happened to Seviper? Where did it go?” Meowth reached a hand into his mouth, retched, and pulled out an extremely slimy Poke Ball.

    “I thought dat dey might be suspicious if dey found a Seviper on you, since it’s your best known Pokeemon,” he explained. “I snuck it in my mouth off of da twerp’s belt when dey weren’t looking. You really oughta wash dem more often,” he added to Jessie. “Dey taste terrible; like a bunch of varnishes and perfumes mixed tageder.”

    “It’s not from me,” Jessie huffed.

    “Which way do we go?” Drew asked.

    “The laboratory is below ground,” Jessie answered. “I’m sure that Moltres and Deoxys would be somewhere nearby to it. Follow me.” Then she caught sight of a Grunt rounding the corner as he moved towards them. “Hurry up,” she snarled, yanking viciously on Meowth’s rope again. “You’ve got some beans to spill, and the boss is waiting for you.”

    “I never realized Jessie was such a good actor, what with the way she was treating you,” Silver whispered to Meowth once the Grunt had passed them by. Meowth looked at him wryly.

    “Acting?” he asked.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Giovanni paced through the holding area, looking at each legendary Pokemon but not really seeing them. He had a pounding headache; the long-lost and seemingly unknown password and files that Paul had revealed to him had caused cracks in Mewtwo’s memory wipe. Now, they were struggling to break through the curious blankness that had covered that part of his mind since the incident occurred.

    He had always been confused and suspicious of what had actually transpired; his memory was both prodigious and formidable, but the events he recalled never made sense. One moment he was sitting at his desk, vaguely excited about the prospect of finding... something. He remembered the phone ringing, reaching for it, and then inexplicably standing in a large pile of rubble, a very confused Domino by his side. It did not make sense.

    Now at last he knew the reason for this; Mewtwo had wiped his mind. But despite reading all of his old files, he still did not fully comprehend. What was Mewtwo? How had it managed to blank his memory? Had it turned against him, or was it uncontrollable from the start? There were only two things he knew for sure. Mewtwo was extremely powerful, and it had beaten him.

    Giovanni did not like to be beaten.

    These lost memories straining through the cracks were the key to understanding this creation, of that Giovanni was convinced. The trick was getting to them. Oh, there were brief flashes to be sure. An image of it enshrouded in metal plates... a Nidoking flying through the air... two machines exploding...

    How had Paul kept these memories, he wondered. Why had he not forgotten? It was no surprise to Giovanni that Damian lacked knowledge of the creature; to all intensive purposes he was an idiot, a showman with little real talent. Damian would not have been told of Mew’s cloning. And Reggie was already estranged from him when cloning had commenced; although he had maintained a very cordial relationship with his youngest brother until recently, he had not contacted his father since informing him he had bought a house in Sinnoh.

    He massaged his temples, grimacing. The memories would come in time, he was certain. And when they did, he would have the advantage; Mewtwo would not suspect that his memory wipe could have been lifted. But until those memories were restored, there was work to be done. The cloning of Latios, for example.

    He left the holding area and moved down the steel passageway, heading towards the location where Moltres had caused so much havoc when it broke loose. He slipped his hands into his pockets as he moved, reassuring himself with the cool touches of both the Silph Scope and the Soul Dew. He wondered briefly what his mood would be like if the restoration machine had been destroyed by Moltres. The thought was quickly shaken from his mind; he was relieved that it had not been damaged, and it was no use brooding on what might have happened.

    At the reinforced steel doors, two grunts stood at attention; they sprang a smart salute as Giovanni passed by, ignoring them completely. He typed his personal code into the keypad at the side, causing the doors to slide open silently. He walked through the doorway and found himself in the massive room where the Moltres had broken free; heading towards a large machine bolted securely into the wall he paid little heed towards the room’s other occupants, choosing instead to slot both the Soul Dew and Silph Scope into place, a task he entrusted to nobody else.

    “Sebastian!” he shouted, steeping back from the machine, and the scientist emerged from the opposite side.

    “Giovanni, sir,” Sebastian acknowledged.

    “You know what I am after, correct?” Giovanni began. “You understand why I have sought the stone Plates and the legendary Pokemon?”

    “Yes; it is all a part of your quest to obtain and control the most powerful Pokemon the world has ever seen, is it not?” Giovanni nodded, then hesitated before phrasing his next question.

    “To summon this Pokemon is an incredibly difficult task,” he said. “It requires the combined power and influence of the legendary Pokemon and the stone Plates; the Pokemon to call it into our world, and the Plates to anchor it here in a physical form.” Sebastian waited without responding, knowing that Giovanni was not just engaging in an idle chat.

    “It has come to my attention that a legendary Pokemon may have been improperly cloned, creating a new species,” he said carefully. “Who, how, and why are not important at this time, but the resultant species would seem to be just as powerful – if not more so – than the species from which it was created.”

    “You mean to say that a new species of legendary Pokemon has been created?” Sebastian asked.

    “Yes,” Giovanni said. “At least, I think it’s legendary. I don’t know for sure. What I would like to know is, since the ancient texts we are following state that one specimen of each species of legendary Pokemon must be present for it to work...”

    “You want to know if this new, human-created legendary Pokemon would need to be there as well,” Sebastian completed, frowning in thought. “That is a puzzling situation you have brought up, and I can’t give a definitive answer ... On the one hand, this Pokemon did not exist on the prior occasion, but on the other it is a legendary Pokemon...”

    “What do you suggest?” Giovanni asked. “Give me your best hypothesis.”

    “I do not believe it makes that much of a difference,” Sebastian said slowly. “Since it is of human conception it may not be necessary, but it would not hinder you if it were to be captured and brought here.” Giovanni nodded, deep in thought, before turning to one of the Rockets working along the far wall.

    “Cassidy!” he roared, and she hastened to his side. “Find Paul,” he ordered, “I need him down here now. And get Damian to contact Hunter J; tell him to give her the psychic fingerprint in the third drawer on my desk so that she can track and capture the creature that emits that frequency.”

    “Yes, sir,” she said, snapping a quick salute before hurrying off. Giovanni turned back to the machine, looking at it for a brief moment. With this he could bring back the dead. With this, his dream could be fulfilled.

    “With this, you will be mine,” he whispered.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The steel doors opened just as Jessie was reaching for the keypad; she looked up and locked eyes with Cassidy. A dead feeling swooped through her stomach and she quickly looked away, averting her gaze. But Cassidy seemed not to have noticed any of them; her eyes were glazed as she swept past, intent on finding Paul and Damian as quickly as she could in an effort to get back in Giovanni’s good books.

    Jessie and Meowth both gave silent sighs of relief when the golden-haired woman had passed. “Dat was too close,” Meowth muttered.

    “You know her?” Silver enquired.

    “She was da one who tried to kill us,” Meowth answered. Jessie tugged sharply on his rope.

    “Come on,” she hissed, “let’s go before the doors close!” Silver stepped nimbly through the doorway as it began to slide shut, followed quickly by Drew and Max. Jessie turned away to get her bearings and froze when she saw Giovanni several feet away, his back to them as he contemplated the incredible machine that stood before them.

    “Quick, behind dere!” Meowth urged, pointing out a maze-like tangle of barrels and pipes alongside the far wall that was only head-high.

    Trying not to be noticed by Giovanni, Professor Sebastian, or one of the dozen or so Grunts that were at work, they snuck over quickly to the structure. Silver had never felt so exposed, his large size an incredible eyesore. He knew that if even one person turned and saw them...

    But they made it, without a single person looking around. Max, Drew, and Meowth were all able to stand comfortably, but Jessie and Silver both had to sit to remain hidden.

    “Okay, so now we’re in,” Silver whispered. “Where are the legendary Pokemon, and how do we get out without being spotted?”

    “I knew we’d forgotten something when we came up wid dat plan,” Meowth grumbled. Drew opened his mouth to respond, but a crackling in the air prompted him to close it again. The hair on their bodies slowly began to stand on end as the static electricity washed over them, and for the first time Jessie was actually glad that her hair had been hacked off; even she knew that a mass of frizzy red hair would probably look out of place among the silvers and greys of their hiding place.

    “We’re ready to begin, sir,” they heard a Grunt report. “The machine is on and in standby mode.”

    “Start it up,” Giovanni’s voice answered. “The sooner Latios is brought back, the sooner the real project can begin.” None of them could resist; Jessie, Meowth, Silver, Drew, and Max all poked their heads over the top of the structure, wanting to see exactly what was happening.

    The machine Giovanni had been looking at when they entered had activated. Several antennae dotted around the structure were revolving at high speed, generating the incredible power that was needed and causing the room to be awash with static. Between the antennae blue streaks of electricity conjoined, bathing the whole area in a ghostly glow, a glow so blue that it seemed almost white. A massive, thick beam of that light shot out from the machine; upon encountering the Silph Scope in its path it narrowed, focusing its power and imbibing the strange power that the device held.

    The light struck the fragment of Soul Dew; it began glowing in response, casting an almost deathly pallor across the faces of those who watched. The Soul Dew then turned red and an acrid smell began to fill the room; Jessie and Max had to suppress a gag, but of those present in the room only Silver, Giovanni, and Sebastian recognized the stench of a decomposed and rotting carcass.

    A high, keening scream echoed throughout the area, the distress call of a creature in considerable pain. It came from the Soul Dew, a quavering cry that filled everyone’s hearts with a desolate sadness and pierced their souls. Tears filled their eyes, and they clutched at their chests as they seemed to feel that palpable pain as their own. Only Giovanni seemed unmoved by it all.

    The Soul Dew’s glow intensified and grew. Now they were forced to avert their eyes, shielding their retinas from the blinding glare being given off. And so they did not see as the shape of the Soul Dew within the light began to contort and expand, the jagged edge of the cut and the soft smooth curve of the sphere morphing into definitive features. Arms and legs sprouted from the underneath of the object as two stiff wings grew out of the sides; a head and neck appeared and suddenly the keening came not from the inanimate glass-like object, but from vocal cords.

    And then the glow vanished. The light that illuminated everyone’s faces so brightly was gone and the keening died, leaving only tears frozen to the cheeks of all who had witnessed it. In the machine the Silph Scope lay smoking, twisted and burned beyond recognition, destroyed by the intense light that had been generated. Further down, the fragment of Soul Dew had vanished. In its place was the shuddering form of Latios, his eyes closed in obvious pain but lacking the strength to give even a whimper.

    “It’s badly hurt,” Sebastian observed. “I don’t think the Silph Scope lasted as long as was needed; Latios looks as if it may die again at any moment.”

    “Then I’ll preserve it,” Giovanni said, withdrawing a Dark Ball from his pocket. “I only need it kept alive for a short time, and the Dark Ball will keep it in a static state until then.”

    “You brought this legendary Pokemon back to life just to let it die again?” Sebastian asked softly, incredulously.

    “I brought it back so that I can use its power,” Giovanni answered sharply. “When I’ve done that, I’ll have no further use for it.”

    “Dis isn’t good,” Meowth muttered from behind the structure as everyone slowly withdrew their heads. “Now dey’ve got Latios, and in a Dark Ball too!”

    “Its soul is gone,” Jessie said, a haunted look on her face. “Nothing can save it now...”

    “What about the other legendaries?” Silver asked. “We can still save them!”

    “It’s no use,” Drew said, shaking his head in anger. “If they have one Pokemon in a Dark Ball, the others probably are too.”

    “You mean Deoxys is gone?” Max whispered.

    “But we don’t know that!” Silver said impatiently. “Latios was badly injured, Giovanni had no other choice! But we still have a chance to save Moltres and Deoxys! We can’t give up.”

    “You saw how much security dere was on da way down,” Meowth snapped. “We don’t got no chance of getting by dem, freeing da legendaries, an’ den getting outta here alive! I don’t tink we can even get outta dis room, unless you have some way to make da two of us invisible so we can sneak past da Boss an all dem Grunts!”

    “Keep it down,” Jessie hissed, looking nervously over her shoulder. The colour in her face died. Standing only a few feet away, Butch looked at her in wonder.

    “Jessie,” he said softly to himself. He opened his mouth to shout a warning, but Drew glanced over and, seeing him standing there, launched himself at the member of Team Rocket. It was a perfect tackle, knocking Butch onto his back; he let out a grunt of pain and Drew quickly clamped a hand over his mouth.

    “If you say a word, we’re all dead,” he hissed. “Do you really want our deaths on your conscience?” It was the right thing to say; Butch’s eyes filled with tears and he slowly shook his head no. Cautiously, Drew removed his hand and Butch looked away, refusing to meet anybody’s eyes.

    “I never wanted this,” he said hoarsely. “I never wanted things to end this way. I’m a thief; I can’t help that. But I’m not a murderer, I’m not!” He shuddered, trying to suppress the tears in his eyes. “Ever since Giovanni called Cassidy and me into his office and told us he wanted us to kill you and James... I’ve known since then that my life is over. I don’t want to die, but if you’re alive I’ll be the one killed. But if I kill you, I won’t be able to live with myself.” He let out a short, humourless bark of laughter. “Either way I die; but what can I do? There had to be more than this, there had to...”

    As he trailed into a miserable silence, Jessie looked at him with an expression akin to pity. She put her hand softly on his shoulder, and surprised at the touch, he inadvertently looked at her, locking eyes; hers were filled with a compassion he didn’t know she had.

    “Help us get out of here,” she said gently. “Help us escape and come with us; life with Team Rocket is no life at all. Save our lives and live your own, free from all this death and despair.” He looked at her a moment longer, reading the sincerity in her eyes. Then, slowly, he nodded.

    “I’ll help you,” he whispered.
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
    Pikashipping: Raikou's Test, Emotions
    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
    Other: Reaching Out, Welcome Home

  24. #74
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    Sep 2007
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    Norway
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    The 3 chapters are great Matkin It's to bad that it's coming to a close, 39 chapters and around 125,000 words is a good, but I feel this could go much longer

    So Paul and Anabel are family, cool
    Without soccer and girls life is wasted!!
    Liverpool, Rosenborg and Rangers is my heart and soul

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    Credit to Misty-Fan-Forever for making the banner | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | May/Haruka<3

  25. #75
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    Nov 2007
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    Here we are; the penultimate chapter. It's been a lot of fun writing this, but now it's time to say goodbye. This will be my last author's note for Final Challenge, since the final chapter is coming up immediately after I put up this one. But there are some things I would like to say about this story first.

    Over 45 000 views on this story, and 300+ reviews submitted. Wow. It's just incredible. I never expected this story to get such a reception. It's unbelievable. You've been reading since I started a year ago and kept on coming back despite the very long breaks in between updates this year. When I first started writing this, I figured I'd aim for something around half the length of May's Crush, so about 17 chapters. It's now at 41 chapters, not including the April Fools day chapter (and over 150 000 words!). So you can imagine my surprise at stretching it out to this length. And yet in some ways I still feel as if I've rushed through parts of this story, and not paid attention to details that I should have. Ah well. I guess it's too late to remedy that now.

    There is one thing I would like to make clear. From the moment I began writing Final Challenge, it was a story about the end of Ash's journey as a roaming Pokemon trainer, as opposed to a shipping story. The shipping is certainly an element, yes, but it always took a backseat towards the actual plot. It's a shipping story without the shipping, if you will. And to be completely honest, I think this was the right thing to do.

    I was inspired to write this story by reading May's Crush and PKM Rangers: Rise of the Dark Gems. I recognized that the authors of both had put a tremendous amount of work and thought into it all. I've always loved writing, and I've been told numerous times that I have a natural talent for it. So I decided to use these two stories as the benchmark of my own. If I met these benchmarks, great. If I exceeded them, fantastic. If I didn't, I would just rewrite the chapter. It seems to have paid off. I've had at least one person tell me anonymously that they think focusing on a plot the way I did, as opposed to allow the shipping to drive the plot, made Final Challenge a more enthralling and entertaining read than May's Crush. Are they right? You'll have to be the judge on that. Did I meet or exceed my benchmarks? Again, you'll have to be the judge. All I will say is that one of my aims with this was to write a story containing AdvanceShipping that would excel May's Crush; so I was very touched and pleased to hear that even one person thought so.

    Now I just want to give a shout-out to the people who have been reading and reviewing for so long now; a major thanks to LuciferIX, the Dark Fiddler, Blackjack Palazzo, Amphlosion, EmeraldDragonite, Mayziken, Pors, XAOTL, Jb, DavetheFishGuy, Sp1derp1g, Praetor, betagold, BlazikenEX, Moka, DragonWarrior3000, Psychopath, and anyone who I've missed out (I'm sure there's quite a few, so many have reviewed this story!) And of course, I have all of you closet readers to thank as well!

    Anyways, I guess that's enough of an author's note for this story. I hope that you've enjoyed reading this, and that you'll enjoy these last two chapters. There are some unexpected twists ahead, and I'm sure that some (many) of you will hate me for the ending. As always please review, and I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have over PM or in a response here.

    Thank you all for reading (and please forgive me over these multiple posts, but as this is the end of the story it really must all be posted together),

    Matthew
    (Matkin22)

    Chapter 40: Final Challenge (Part One)


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    Dawn moaned as her foot squelched deep into the mud, the cold ooze closing around her foot. “This idea sucks!” she exploded, struggling to pull her foot free from the mire. “Why do we have to go through a swamp?”

    “The distributary is on the other side,” Noland said, helping her to free her foot. “The reason not many people know about it is because of the swamp; almost nobody comes to this area, even though it’s the best place for water- and bug-Pokemon in all of Kanto. When we get across Tohjo River the ground will firm up a bit and we’ll hit the woodlands.”

    “So why do we have to walk through this?” she insisted. “It would be so much easier to fly across.”

    “Flying is too visible,” Ash called back as he carefully skirted a pothole. “We could be seen for miles around; going through the swamp is much safer.” Dawn grimaced at his answer and sighed in frustration as her foot was sucked into the mud again.

    “Oh, this is just too frustrating,” she growled, reaching for a Poke Ball at her belt.

    “Don’t bother,” Noland said as he helped her out of the mud again. “Any Pokemon that can carry you would just sink into the mud and get stuck.”

    “Wonderful,” she grumbled.

    “Relax,” he said, talking her arm and holding it out at arm’s length. “Look were I’m pointing your arm; see that sliver of blue?” Dawn stared for a moment, and then a wide grin split across her face.

    “Tohjo River!” she exclaimed, dashing towards the river and straight into the pothole Ash had carefully avoided.

    “And again,” Noland sighed as she let out a yell of horror, moving forwards to pull her out for the third time.

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    “When the Moltres escaped, it broke its way through the headquarters to get outside,” Butch explained. “Quite a few walls and floors collapsed because of it.”

    “How does that help us?” Max asked. “That’s a really steep climb.”

    “Exactly, and we’re not going out that way,” Butch said. “We want to avoid that completely. Everyone who isn’t out on a mission is being forced to repair the damage; including Professor Namba.” A satisfied smile crossed his face for the briefest of moments.

    “I still don’t get it,” Silver frowned.

    “Don’t you?” Butch asked. “If everyone is at work repairing the damage...”

    “Then there are fewer people in between us and an exit,” Max realized.

    “Exactly,” Butch grinned, “and I know the perfect way out.”

    “Where?” Meowth asked before sneaking a peek around a barrel, noticing that Professor Sebastian was heading towards the steel doors they had entered the room through.

    “Through the lab,” Butch answered. “Cassidy and I spent a lot of time working with Namba; a lot more time than was good for our sanity, probably. I know that lab better than I know my own face, and there is a way we can all get out.”

    “What is it?” Drew asked.

    “An air vent; the lab was built against solid bedrock for stability, but there had to be good circulation in there to get rid of any noxious gases from experiments,” Butch explained. “Most of them lead to an air purifier a couple of floors up, but one goes straight through the mountainside and ends pretty much at ground level.” Silver did not look enthused.

    “This air vent... am I even going to fit inside, let alone climb through it?” he asked. Butch frowned.

    “I don’t know,” he said slowly. “It’ll be a very tight squeeze for you...”

    “Well then, forget about it,” Silver said cheerfully. “You guys have fun going through the air vent; I’m going the same way that Moltres did.”

    “What? No!” Jessie hissed. “You’ll be caught and killed!” Silver shrugged.

    “I’m a fast guy, and nobody would be foolish enough to stand in my way if they saw me charging straight for them,” he said, before turning to Max. “I’ll take my Chikorita now, if you don’t mind,” he said, taking the Poke Ball from Max’s belt.

    “But... but...” Jessie blustered, unable to find words appropriate of her dismay at his decision.

    “This is a distraction,” Silver said firmly, his gaze brokering no more arguments. “You all get out of here and get as far away as you can. I don’t know what Giovanni is planning to do, but you don’t want to be caught up in it. Wait a couple hours for me at the river; if I don’t show up by sunset, go north and don’t stop until you reach the coastline.”

    “How are you going to get down?” Butch challenged. “I saw the hole that Moltres made. If you jump from that high up, you’ll be killed.”

    “Don’t worry about me,” Silver said with a wink. “I’m a survivor.” Without waiting for a response, he stood up to his full height and calmly strolled around the side of the barrels and pipes. Jessie, Meowth, Max, and Drew watched with bated breath as he strolled across the room towards what appeared to be a square-shaped hole in the wall that was riddled with scorch-marks, an air of supreme calm and confidence radiating from his body. He was three-quarters of the way across the floor before a Grunt turned from his work and saw him walking with an expression of polite interest on his face.

    “Hey... hey you!” he shouted, catching Giovanni’s and Sebastian’s attention as he did so. “What are you doing down here?” Silver sprang into action at the exact moment that Giovanni looked around curiously. He thundered towards the opening his eyes fixed on the height as he calculated what kind of jump he would need to make.

    “Stop him!” Giovanni roared, and for a moment several Grunts appeared to be considering it. But one look at Silver’s resolute face and incredibly muscular frame bounding towards them quickly changed their minds. All but one scattered, diving out of the way to avoid being hit by the charging man, clearing Silver’s way completely save for a lone man, the Grunt who had first noticed him approaching.

    Whether it was bravery or stupidity, Silver didn’t know and he didn’t particularly care either. The Grunt held out a single trembling hand, evidently hoping that Silver would stop.

    He didn’t.

    He ploughed over the man without slowing down in the least. The Grunt bounced off of Silver’s dense, muscular body, crashing into the wall and already unconscious.

    “After him!” Giovanni shouted, running forward himself as Silver leaped easily through the open space, catching hold of the steel window-frame and swinging himself upwards with ease onto the next floor. In a matter of moments the room became deserted as Giovanni disappeared after Silver and the Grunts hastened to follow their leader.

    “Wow,” Max said, blinking once.

    “Wow,” Drew agreed.

    “And he did it with style,” Jessie said.

    “So, now dat he’s gone running off shouldn’t we get to dat air vent?” Meowth asked.

    “Air vent... uhh, right!” Butch said, snapping back to reality. “Follow me and stick close!”

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    Silver moved at a ferocious rate, alternately running along twisted metal and singed wood and climbing upwards on bent bars. The pursuers behind him were far more agile on the treacherous route than he, but his astonishing physical strength and stamina were enough to keep him ahead. Surprised Grunts ahead tried to get out of his way as he charged towards them; those that were not quick enough impacted off of his shoulders and lay dazed on the ground, tripping up the Grunts that followed.

    Boards of plywood were stretched out every few levels, providing secure footholds for the Grunts repairing the walls and floors; they were no obstacle whatsoever, smashed easily aside as he hurtled upwards. The metal and wood creaked and groaned beneath his feet, but he dared not slow down; to do that, he knew, would risk the damaged floors collapsing beneath his weight. But no matter how fast he ran and climbed, the Grunts chasing after him came slowly nearer. And then he could run no further.

    The open air stretched before him, a slight breeze ruffling through his thick grey hair causing it to blow about his face. He gazed briefly downwards and knew immediately that he had gone as far as he could; if he jumped, he would not survive the fall. At the edge of the forest, he saw what might have been Max vanishing into the undergrowth, and he felt a moment of gladness that his companions had successfully escaped. He heard a brief sarcastic clapping behind him, and Silver slowly turned to see Giovanni at the front of at least twenty Grunts, all of whom held a Poke Ball in their hands.

    “Well done, Silver,” Giovanni called, “you are a remarkably resilient man. You survived Hunter J, even though she reported you dead, and you managed to sneak into our facilities and break into the most secure room we have, all without being noticed by a single guard or Grunt.”

    “What can I say?” Silver asked, trying to regain his breath from the fast-paced climb. “I have a knack for doing what others would call impossible.”

    “Indeed. But I’m afraid this is the end for you,” Giovanni said. “You have nowhere to go but down. Tell me; how does it feel, knowing you are about to do?” Silver grinned and took a step back, cocky at the end.

    “I don’t know,” he shouted, “you tell me!” There was a dazzling flash of violet light, a roaring noise, and when Giovanni and the Grunts finally cleared the bursting stars from their eyes, Silver had gone. Giovanni stood there, unmoving, rage and disbelief clouding his features. He strode forwards towards the hole in the exterior wall and looked downwards, not expecting to see Silver’s body on the ground and unsurprised that he had indeed vanished.

    He turned back to face the Grunts, his face reddening and a vein pulsing heavily on his forehead. Sensing the danger the Grunts scattered, none of them wishing to be last in Giovanni’s sight. The enraged leader of Team Rocket threw his head back and roared his anger at being foiled again into the sky.

    “SILVER!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With a bang and a flash of violet light, Silver appeared in the midst of the forest. He swayed dizzily for a moment before his knees buckled. Four pairs of hands and one set of paws reached out to steady him, catching him just before he hit the ground. But even the combined of efforts of Jessie, Meowth, Max, Drew, and Butch were barely enough to sustain his huge frame.

    “I thought I told you to not to worry about me?” Silver challenged, waving them off as his balance returned.

    “Well, when we saw you trapped at the hole, we decided that we had to save you somehow,” Max answered.

    “You’re the reason why Meowth and I are still alive,” Jessie said.

    “And why we got out of there without being seen,” Butch added.

    “You’re the reason we made it so far this afternoon,” Drew said. “You kept us motivated and focused, and you were going to let yourself be killed to save us; we couldn’t let that happen.”

    “Yeah, well, thanks,” Silver grunted, genuinely touched although he didn’t let it show.

    “Don’t tank us,” Meowth said, “Tank da twoip’s Gardevoir; she’s da one who teleported you outta dere.”

    “Really,” Silver said after a pause, turning to look at the Psychic-type. “Well then, thank you for saving my life, Gardevoir.”

    “Gahr,” she answered, shaking her head to indicate it was nothing. “Voir garde.”

    “Gardevoir says dat it was da least she could do since you saved her trainer’s life,” Meowth translated.

    “Great,” Silver said, looking around distractedly; “where are we?”

    “In the woods outside Team Rocket’s headquarters,” Max answered. “We’d better get moving; I have no doubt that Giovanni is sending out people to look for you as we speak. The stream’s in that direction,” he said, pointing in the opposite direction of the sun. Silver nodded in acknowledgement, but didn’t move.

    “What is it?” Jessie asked.

    “I hate leaving those legendary Pokemon,” Silver answered. “It doesn’t seem... right. They’re meant to live free, not be captured and hang around until it’s decided they’re expendable.”

    “I don’t like it any better than you do,” Max said softly. “But there’s nothing any of us can do. How long will it be until Giovanni thinks to interview the two guards we passed and finds out that there were four others with you? You’ve escaped death twice now; I don’t think you’ll be as lucky the third time.” Silver nodded slightly, recognizing the sense of his words but a far-off look in his eyes.

    “Yeah,” he said, before snapping back to attention. “Alright then, we head back to the stream. We’ll rest there for a few minutes and then head north for Sinnoh. I’ve been in these parts before; I know the way to the coast.”

    “I’m going south,” Max announced suddenly; everybody looked at him. “Sorry,” he said, “but I don’t have a death penalty on my head. Team Rocket doesn’t know what I look like, and I’m not going to cut off contact with my family and just vanish into the wilderness like that. I have a dream to follow.”

    “I’m going south too,” Drew said. “I have places to go and... and people to apologize to.” He cast a half-glance over at Max as he said this. “Maybe I’ll end up in Sinnoh one day, but not right now. I still have my life to live, and it isn’t in mortal danger right now.” Silver nodded, clasping both their hands in understanding.

    “Then the stream is where we’ll part,” he said, his voice thick.

    “Well, no point in just hanging around,” Jessie said, casting a nervous glance back in the direction of Rocket headquarters.

    “Yeah, da four of us aren’t exactly welcome in dese parts,” Meowth said, indicating Silver and Butch. As they began walking almost silently towards the stream Silver took a careful look around, preserving the memory of what he saw.

    “I never thought I’d be forced to leave my home... to leave Kanto,” he muttered to himself.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dawn emerged from Tohjo River, dripping wet and seriously ticked off. She kept casting malevolent glances at Ash’s back as he rested from the swim, a gesture hardly missed by Rey and Noland.

    “Take it easy,” Noland said, trying to calm her down. “He’s doing the best he can, and you should be used to this kind of travelling by now.”

    “Yeah,” Rey added, “and at least the swim washed all the mud off your shoes!”

    “I think I’d prefer the mud,” Dawn muttered rebelliously. “That water might have ruined my skirt and shoes.” Overhearing, May sighed and sent out her little Charmander.

    “Charmander, can you warm us all up?” she asked.

    “Char!” the baby squeaked excitedly; closing its eyes, the little fire-type concentrated on focusing the energy within the flame on its tail. In a matter of seconds the tail began to burn with an unfevered brilliance, sending a welcome wave of warmth throughout the area that quickly dried everybody’s sodden clothes.

    “Thanks, May,” Brock said, “and thanks to you too, Charmander.”

    “Yeah, thanks,” Dawn said.

    “Char!” the Pokemon answered eagerly and, smiling, May recalled the fire-starter.

    “Thanks, Charmander,” she said to the Poke Ball, returning it to her belt. “That may have just saved Ash from a lynching by Dawn.”

    “Are we ready to go then?” Rey asked. “It’s just along that side-stream, right? Where the trees are?”

    “Right,” Ash nodded. “The trees anchor the earth, so the ground isn’t swampy. Do you see those trees over there?” He pointed towards a line of green, perhaps half an hour away. “The stream goes west for a while, but when it reaches those trees it turns south. Once we reach that we can go into the forest and head straight south; that way we aren’t going in as much of a zigzag pattern as the stream.”

    “Are you sure that’s the best way to go?” James asked.

    “Why do you ask that?” Brock frowned. James pointed towards the mountains a few hours away.

    “See that really tall mountain? That’s Mount Silver,” he said. “And if you look to the left, about five mountains over; see that smaller mountain that’s closer to us? That’s where Team Rocket headquarters is. There’s a stream about a three hours walk away from there; I’m not positive, but I think it may be the same stream as this.”

    “The last thing we want to do is walk into Paul’s clutches,” Brock said turning to Ash, who appeared to be in thought, his lips moving soundlessly as he stared at the sky.

    “Ash?” May asked curiously, and then more loudly: “Ash!”

    “Huh?” he asked, snapping back to attention.

    “Are you alright, Ash?” she asked in concern. “You weren’t saying anything.”

    ‘Sorry... I was just trying to think,” he explained. “I trained in this area with Infernape, Gallade, Floatzel, and Sceptile in between Elite 4 matches, and I was trying to remember the geography. I think James is right,” he added, causing the blue-haired trainer to twist in surprise.

    “You okay, James?” Noland asked.

    “Yeah, I’m just not used to hearing that I’m right,” he said with a wry smile. “So... where do we go now?”

    “If I remember right,” Ash said, “The stream goes straight south for a while before heading back east and then south again. We can just go straight south instead of towards the mountains.”

    “It’s still really close to Team Rocket,” Rey observed.

    “It’s far enough away to make me feel safe,” he responded. May sighed and began moving towards the stand of trees that sheltered the stream.

    “Well, if you think that we’ll be safe going that way then it’s good enough for me, Ash,” she said. He looked at her, trying to meet the eyes hidden by her fringe. He may not have been able to read body language that well, but he knew May well enough to see that she was nervous about travelling so close to Team Rocket headquarters. He felt a sickening tightening in his stomach. If he was wrong...

    “It’s good enough for me too,” Rey said, following May towards the trees. “I mean, the closer we get to danger the farther we are from harm, right? Who’d expect anyone to be so brazen as to walk past a national crime syndicate’s headquarters?”

    “That’s very reassuring, Rey,” Dawn said. “For the record, I actually do know one person who’d do that.”

    “Three guesses on who that is,” Ash grumbled, striding past them quickly as he hurried under the shade and cover provided by the trees.

    Had it not been the sense of ever-present danger that hung over them like a cloud, the walk would have been both relaxing and pleasurable. The area was wild and almost completely unexplored; a light breezed cooled them from the back, and the stream gurgled peacefully beside them. They moved at a brisk pace, the trees around them breaking up the heat and light from the hot sun above and casting a beautiful array of shadows on the ground before them.

    Yes, it’s certainly tranquil, Ash realized. If it wasn’t for the relative proximity to Team Rocket... His musings were interrupted when in front of him May moved over a small crest, stopped, and uttered one word.

    “Max?” she asked.

    “May?” he gasped in equal surprise, turning away from Silver, Jessie, and Meowth whom he had been bidding farewell to.

    “Jessie?” James wondered aloud as he too reached the crest.

    “James!”

    “Meowth; dose are da names!” the cat-like Pokemon said happily, rushing to be reunited with his blue-haired friend. He was bowled over by what appeared to be a streak of blue lightning, racing towards a stunned Jessie while crying out ‘Wobba, wobba wobba!"

    “Wobbuffet!” she gasped, falling to her knees in shock as she reached out to embrace the Pokemon she thought had been lost. “Oh Wobbuffet, I thought I’d never see you again!” she gasped, unmasked tears in her eyes.

    “Uncle Silver!” Ash and Dawn both shouted simultaneously, recognizing the hulking man. There was a brief moment of stunned silence as their words reverberated through the trees. Then they turned to each other, looks of complete shock on their greying faces. “Uncle?” they asked the other, aghast. Silver sighed.

    “This is going to be a long and unpleasant story,” he muttered.

    “Forget dat story, it’s da twoip!” Meowth shouted excitedly, lunging forwards. “Get dat Pikachu!”

    “Who are we going to give it to once we’ve stolen it?” Jessie asked him, sighing as she trapped his tail under her boot. “We’re out of Team Rocket, remember?”

    “Oh yeah,” he said sheepishly before looking towards Ash and Pikachu. “Sorry; force of habit. Even dough you are a twoip.”

    “A twerp who helped save your Wobbuffet’s life,” Rey said unsmilingly. Jessie and Meowth both looked surprised.

    “Really? But why did you do that?” Jessie asked.

    “I’d have done it for any Pokemon,” Ash replied, “and so would any of the people here.” Dawn continued to stare at him.

    “Uncle?” she repeated.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Silver leaned against a sturdy oak as he gazed down at Ash and Dawn, trying to think of what to say. May, Max, Brock, Rey, Drew, Noland, Butch, Jessie, James, Meowth, Wobbuffet, and even Pikachu had moved away to give them some privacy. Out the corner of his eye he could see Brock and Noland discussing the best ingredients for Ghost-type Pokemon food, while Rey and Pikachu appeared to be listening half-attentively. Drew was trying to say something to a clearly uninterested May while Max watched on, his face turning red in suppressed anger. Jessie, James, and Meowth were all arguing apparently just for the sake of it while Butch sat nearby, head in hands. Silver groaned and stretched his back against the bark, aware that Ash and Dawn were both watching reproachfully.

    “It’s not a pleasant story,” he growled.

    “I don’t care,” Dawn said stubbornly. “We’ve been travelling together for five years; and then we suddenly find out we’re brother and sister? What gives?”

    “Why didn’t anybody tell us?” Ash asked, sounding upset. “Why didn’t our Moms...” A sudden thought struck his head. “They didn’t know, did they?” he asked softly. “Our Moms... they didn’t know.” Silver contemplated him for a moment.

    “No, they didn’t,” he grunted. “Delia never found out about Dawn, and Johanna never knew of you. I was the only one who knew, and your father swore me to secrecy with his dying breath.”

    “He’s dead?” Dawn asked, stunned. “I didn’t know...”

    “I did,” Ash said, glancing over at her. “I remember the day you came over to tell Mom the news, Uncle Silver. I’d never seen her so upset before. It was a rock fall, wasn’t it?”

    “That was a lie,” Silver said. “I couldn’t tell her the truth; knowing what really happened to him would have killed her, and you couldn’t be left all alone like that. I’m no parental figure, and I was the only other family you had left.”

    “Except Dawn,” Ash pointed out. Silver grimaced.

    “I’m not going to get out of this, am I?” he asked.

    “No, you’re not,” Dawn said. “Tell us what happened; the truth. Why did he cheat on both of our mothers? Why didn’t you tell them? How did he die?”

    “You’re asking for answers that I don’t have!” he said, exasperated. “Why did he sleep with both of your mothers? The only one who knew the answer to that was him, and he can’t tell us anymore. But he didn’t cheat,” he added. “Your father wasn’t a married man. He wasn’t content to just settle down with someone, the road was always calling him onwards.”

    “I know that feeling,” Ash muttered.

    “I don’t know if he would have ever settled down,” Silver continued. “He was loved by many women, and he loved them in return. He gave at least two the greatest gift he could; a child. Whether he had any more kids, I really don’t know. My brother and I were as close as siblings could be, but we both had secrets we would never tell each other. I don’t think he even knew he had a daughter.”

    “What do you mean?” Dawn asked, upset.

    “When he died Ash was only five,” Silver said, “and let me tell you, I’d never seen him so excited and happy as he was when he found out he had a son. Two years after that he went to Sinnoh, and that’s when he met Johanna. They got very close, but he left for Hoenn after two years of the Sinnoh League. As far as I know, he didn’t go back to Sinnoh in that last year before he died.

    “I went to tell Johanna the bad news because I knew how close she had been to him, and she deserved to know he was dead. I was shocked when I saw you then for the first time, Dawn, and then Johanna told me that you were his daughter. So far as I know, he didn’t even know about you. I was the only one who knew he had two kids. Johanna didn’t know about Delia, and vice versa.”

    “So why didn’t you tell us?” Ash asked

    “Now that would be a pretty random conversation, wouldn’t it? ‘Hi Ash, just stopped in to say hi and now I’m going off to see your sister who you don’t know about; so long!’”

    “Alright, I get the point,” Ash grumbled. “And you couldn’t tell us this before because this is the first time you’ve seen the two of us together, right?”

    “Right.”

    “How did he die?” Dawn asked, and Silver fixed an unblinking gaze on her.

    “Do you really want to know?” he asked. “I was there when it happened; it’s hard... even now, just thinking about it...”

    “We need to know,” Ash said. “For fifteen years I’ve thought he died from a rock fall. Now I find out that was a lie. Dawn never even got the chance to meet him. We both deserve to know what really happened.” Silver sighed, squeezing his eyes shut.

    “If you really want to know, then I’ll tell you,” he said finally.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    15 years ago...

    Silver opened his eyes. The sun was quickly setting; indeed, it was almost entirely dark within the forest they had set up camp. It was difficult to see much detail now, but that didn’t deter him. A familiar wolfish grin spread across his face as he noted the positioning of the early stars and turned over towards his brother. They had slept for the majority of the day, eager to stay up for as long as was possible on this night.

    They were at the eastern-most end of the Celestial Mountains, whose most famous peak was Mount Moon far to the west. Tonight they would witness an event that occurred only once every fifty years; the simultaneous passing of mated Butterfree, Venomoth, Beautifly, and Dustox. While it was true that each species mated every year, normally it happened at different times of the year. But every fifty years the mating season for all four species overlapped and they would travel together over the ocean, going east to lands that were yet to be discovered.

    Seeing the migration of just one species was often described as a wholly beautiful sight. But seeing the four together was simply exceptional, their scales glistening with both moonlight and an early dew as they travelled. It was the rarest of the Pokemon migrations to see, and from their vantage point here in the mountains they would have an unparalleled view as the Pokemon passed overhead; it was even possible that they would be the last people in Kanto to see the beautiful sight.

    So it was with a wide and expecting grin on his face that Silver reached over and began to shake his brother into wakefulness.

    “Come on, time to wake up; you don’t want to miss the migration, do you?” he asked.

    “Five minutes...” his brother muttered, burying his head into the heather.

    “And what happens if they pass by in four?”

    “I’ll come back in fifty years,” he yawned, refusing to open his eyes. Silver sighed and got to his feet.

    “Alright. If that’s what you want,” he said, appearing to give up and walk away into the trees. He was back only second later, a large pail of water in hand which he then sloshed over his brother. He shot into wakefulness immediately.

    “Agh! What was that for?” he shouted.

    “It was your idea to come and see the migration, and now you won’t even wake up for it?” Silver asked. “Come on, this is something you’ll never see again. Enjoy it while you can.”

    “You didn’t have to soak me,” his brother grumbled. “Besides, I will see it again. I’m going to be the first one who follows the Butterfree, Venomoth, Beautifly, and Dustox across the ocean.”

    “Sometimes I forget that you still dream like a child,” Silver sighed, looking down on his younger brother.

    “Only because you grew up so fast,” he shot back.

    “I grew up fast because I had to look after you,” Silver retorted. “You can’t even make a stew; where would you be without me?”

    “Probably still holed up in the Viridian City Pokemon Centre,” his brother chuckled, looking around the trees. “It’s so dark in here now; do you remember where the cliff is?” Silver nodded towards the sky, which was now free of the sun’s vestigial rays.

    “Just follow the stars,” he said.

    “I can’t do that either.”

    “Then follow me.”

    The two brothers walked silently for a while, Silver tracing a path from the night sky and his brother close in his footsteps. The air was crisp, fresh, invigorating. Silver sucked in a deep breath of the cool air and sighed in pleasure; this was what he lived for.

    “Did you hear something?” his brother asked suddenly, pausing and cocking his head intently. Silver stopped and listened intently. He could a tiny breeze ruffling a few leaves by their feet, and the almost inaudible squeaks of hunting Golbat. A branch overhead creaked slightly, and a brook burbled somewhere nearby but out of sight.

    “Nothing out of the ordinary,” he replied, beginning to walk towards the cliff again. But perhaps because of his brother’s slight unease, he found himself feeling more cautious and restless. His senses, having long ago attuned themselves to the intricacies of nature, went into overdrive as almost unconsciously his eyes began scanning every dark shadow and his ears strained for even the tiniest sound. He moved more slowly, every reflex stretching, taking no chances. In this darkness it would be foolish to take chances.

    And then they both saw it; through a break in the trees there was a slight golden light, quavering slightly as they peered at it.

    “It’s on the cliffside,” Silver muttered, recognizing the locations of some of the nearby trees.

    “A campfire do you think?” his brother asked. “Maybe some other people are waiting for the migration too.”

    “Maybe... But I don’t like it,” Silver muttered. “Something feels... wrong.”

    Without expressing another word they began to creep slowly towards the light, taking advantage of the shadows to keep themselves hidden. It was a lengthy progress, as they moved with as much silence as they could. Years spent in the wilderness tracking rare Pokemon came in handy here; both could travel for long distances, leaving barely a bruised leaf as a reminder of their passing presence. Reaching the final trees in between the light and them, Silver took a quick glance at his brother and then peeked out between a few low-lying limbs. He gasped at what he saw.

    A half-dozen men scuttled around a large golden bird, shouting orders and instructions to one another. The bird itself was tied down securely, a massive gash spread across one wing. He looked away, feeling sick, and made eye contact with his brother. The revulsion on his face told him plainly that he too had seen the gigantic bird lashed to the ground, apparently close to unconsciousness and in great pain.

    Taking another look, Silver thought that he had never seen anything sadder; yet somehow it still seemed majestic. For the injured bird, despite being in such a bad condition, shone golden with a multi-coloured aura hovering across it’s beautiful feathers. Its face had a certain nobility to it, even through the suffering. It was undoubtedly a Ho-Oh, and from the glimpses of red he saw splashed across the men’s black uniforms, Silver guessed that it was Team Rocket who had found and captured it.

    He heard a low click to his side, and with a feeling of dread turned towards his brother, seeing as he had feared a Poke Ball enlarged in his hands.

    “You can’t take them all,” he hissed.

    “Then you’ll have to cover me,” his brother responded simply before charging out of the trees and screaming like a madman. Silver stood still a moment in disbelief, swore, and then followed his younger brother out onto the cliffside.

    His brother was already in battle, his Kangaskhan swiping at a stunned Rocket with a roar and knocking him out before turning to face a charging Pinsir sent out by a second Rocket. Sending out his Shelgon, Silver began moving in the opposite direction of his brother in an attempt to get to the Ho-Oh’s other side. A Grunt who had been moving towards his brother spotted him, compared the relative size and apparent ferocity of the Kangaskhan with the Shelgon, and ran towards Silver instead. Before the Grunt could even make a move for a Poke Ball, Silver had reached him and levelled a punch into the man’s gut. The Grunt gasped and doubled over; Silver knocked him out with chop to the back of the man’s neck.

    “Two down!” he shouted.

    “Make it three!” his brother shouted back from beyond his range of vision. Silver grinned as he turned to face a second Rocket Grunt, who had wisely chosen to send out a Pokemon as opposed to taking on Silver himself. Shelgon gazed up at his titanic opponent, a massive Nidoking.

    “Swat that puny thing away with your tail!” the Grunt ordered. Silver grinned.

    “Shelgon, Protect yourself and counter with Hydro Pump!” A glowing green sphere of light enveloped the dragon-type seconds before the Nidoking’s tail impacted. The Nidoking grunted in surprise as its tail bounced off, spinning the poison-type awkwardly. Protect normally stopped an attack, and didn’t reflect it back; to the Nidoking, it was obvious that this was an unusually powerful opponent it was facing. Unfortunately, it had little time to contemplate this before Shelgon’s Hydro Pump blasted into its stomach, knocking it down immediately. The Grunt gaped, dumbstruck as his Nidoking tried to struggle to its feet.

    “How... how did you...”

    “This is quite a special Shelgon I have,” Silver said, rubbing the top of his Pokemon’s thick protective shell fondly. “It knows a lot of moves that it shouldn’t; Hydro Pump was a move it inherited from its father, a Gyarados. I tell you, it was damn near impossible to breed a Salamence with a Gyarados, but I managed it.” The Nidoking collapsed, unable to stand up and Silver eyed the Grunt distastefully.

    “Four!” his brother shouted.

    “Five now,” Silver replied, before looking at the Grunt again. “Get the hell out of here. If I see you here again tonight, I’ll throw you over the cliff myself.” The Grunt’s eyes opened wide and, without saying a word, he recalled his defeated Pokemon and slunk off into the trees.

    “Time to get you away from here,” Silver said softly to the unmoving Ho-Oh, approaching slowly. He reached down to the side of his pants and drew a large knife from its sheath; although he normally used it to help cut up firewood or whittle shapes from any fallen branches as they moved, now he would use it to free the Ho-Oh.

    The majestic legendary Pokemon opened its eyes a crack as he approached, letting out a baleful moan. Silver stared straight back; there was a deep sadness in there that said the bird already knew its fate, and in his heart Silver knew it too. But if it were to die then it would be free and unrestrained, not tethered to the ground. The cords that lashed the Ho-Oh to the ground were tough and strong, but they yielded easily to Silver’s well-honed knife.

    His brother came panting from around the far side of the Ho-Oh, his Kangaskhan already recalled. “That’s all of them,” he said. “Kangaskhan took all four down.”

    “Good,” Silver replied, sawing away with his knife, “they weren’t as tough as I expected.”

    “Tough enough,” his brother replied, before looking and seeing that Silver was already three-quarters of the way through the cords. “That’s impressive,” he said admiringly.

    “The cords just stretch across the Ho-Oh,” Silver answered, severing another bond. “Once this side is done, the others should just slide off when it gets into the air.” Blinding pain enveloped the back of his head; he roared and jumped away, clutching at the agony that spread across his body, falling down, the world swirling in front of him in shades of gray. Dimly, he felt a scrabbling by his hand, a crushing pain from his wrist, and then there was a high-pitched scream.

    Struggling to regain his senses he took several great breaths, still clutching his head as fire danced across his skull. A great, golden light rose into the air in front of him and, rotating to face him, opened its jaws and allowed intense purple flames to escape. He barely had time to draw a shocked breath before the fire washed over him; this was, he knew, the most powerful and dangerous fire attack of all and Ho-Oh’s most powerful weapon; Sacred Fire.

    But something wasn’t right. Although he could feel the intense heat around him and the flames licking his body, there was no pain. His body did not catch. Instead, the flames seemed to pursue something else, something behind him. He turned, his head pain forgotten, and cried out at what he saw.

    His brother stood in the midst of the violet vortex, looking dumbly down at his chest. Protruding firmly from his pectorals was Silver’s knife, a dark stain spreading rapidly from the injury. He reached up towards the knife, pulled firmly, and drew it out of his own body. For a moment he stood there, the slick knife in one hand and blood gushing out of his body to the ground below. He looked up, his eyes meeting Silver’s, and collapsed limply into the dirt as the Sacred Fire ended.

    Silver ran to his brother’s side, his heart pounding in fear and despair as he dropped down beside him. He knew it was too late. His brother’s breathing was already fading, and his eyes were sightless. It did not seem as if he could even talk. Silver tore the knife out of his brother’s hand, throwing it blindly away with a scream before grasping his brother’s hand, tears pouring out of his eyes.

    Metres away from the pair lay the charred and smouldering corpse of the second Grunt Silver had defeated, his life consumed by Ho-Oh’s Sacred Fire. For Ho-Oh had seen the man sneak up behind the pair, smash Silver on the back of the head with a hefty branch, pull the knife from his stunned grasp, and stab his brother in the chest. Now, seeing his death complete, the Ho-Oh crashed back to the ground, its wings lacking the strength for even one more beat. The two dying beings lay next to one another, their fates intertwined. Silver drew great shuddering breaths in his grief, beholding the great legendary Pokemon and the brother he loved so dearly, both labouring to draw even a breath.

    His brother’s grip on his hand suddenly slackened, and Silver cried out in loss. Tears streaming from his eyes, he kissed his brother on the forehead and laid his arm to the ground, unwittingly brushing the Ho-Oh’s wingtip with his brother’s finger as he did so.

    A blinding glow lit up the area, a light so pure that it could be seen for miles. Silver was forced to look away, shielding his wet eyes lest they be blinded. A dull hum spread from the very ground, quickly escalating into a roar before culminating in the screech of a legendary Pokemon. The very air seemed to reverberate with the force of it; to Silver, it seemed almost as if the universe was collapsing in on him.

    And then it was just gone. He stood there blankly, surprised by the sudden end of both light and noise. That was when he noticed his brother’s body was gone. The blankness turned to shock, and then he noticed that Ho-Oh was also gone. He sank to the ground, weeping. He wept for what felt like hours, weeping for his loss and for the loss of the legendary Pokemon. When no further tears would come to his red eyes, he rolled onto his back, staring at the stars. He noticed with little interest that the migration of Butterfree, Venomoth, Beautifly, and Dustox had begun, their scales flashing in the moonlight. It was indeed beautiful, but compared to the death of his brother it all seemed so trivial.

    But while the migration held no interest for him, one sight behind it did. Following the migrating Pokemon was a golden light that seemed to shine with the seven colours of the rainbow. It couldn’t be. It was impossible. It was.

    Ho-Oh trailed the bug Pokemon. It moved slowly, keeping to their pace as it followed them over them mountains, over the sea.

    Towards undiscovered lands.
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
    Pikashipping: Raikou's Test, Emotions
    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
    Other: Reaching Out, Welcome Home

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