Wow, I have just found this story and I have to say I'm impressed. You have managed to make me want more chappies . well done.
Wow, I have just found this story and I have to say I'm impressed. You have managed to make me want more chappies . well done.
I'm glad to know that you're enjoying it, Neos. Here's the next installment!
Chapter 15: Rey
May's eyes snapped open. She glanced around the dark room for a few moments before she found the digital clock. She gave a slight groan when she saw the time: 5:42. She pounded her pillow once in frustration. It was the fourth time she'd woken up that night.
She closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep again. She rolled over. She punched her pillow back into shape and tried sleeping on the other side. She opened her eyes and looked at the clock again: 6:03. With a resigned groan she sat up and began looking for her toothbrush and a towel. It didn't look as if she'd fall asleep again.
Might as well get ready for the trip, she thought. No point in just waiting for everyone else to get up and then end up clogging the bathroom. She glanced over at Dawn snoring lightly on the bed and shook her head. She's had that bed every night.
She grabbed her clothes and crept out the door into the hallway, taking care not to accidentally trip over Misty on her way out. She shut the door softly and tiptoed down the hallway towards the bathroom. She paused at the landing, surprised to see a light on downstairs. Her heart began to pound as she heard movement. I hope it isn't a burglar, she thought.
Still holding her clothes and towel in one arm, she fumbled quickly with the Poke Balls on the belt that was always attached to her pants. She found the one she wanted and released the Pokemon inside quickly, hoping that whoever was downstairs wouldn't hear the Ball opening.
"Vui?" her Eevee asked.
"There's someone downstairs," May whispered quietly. "I think it might be a burglar. I'll need your help if it is."
"Eievui," her Pokemon nodded. Slowly, May began to creep down the stairs. Her hands felt suddenly sticky with trepidation and she noticed that she was shaking a little. Pausing, she took a couple of deep breaths and then nodded, steeling herself.
She began to quietly walk down the last few steps, Eevee at her heels. She stopped at the foot and slowly peeked her head around the corner to see who was in the house.
"Good morning, May," Professor Oak smiled.
"I'm sorry I startled you, May," Professor Oak chuckled. "I've gotten up early every morning to look after the Pokemon for so long now that it's just become a habit."
"I thought that you were a robber," she said faintly, holding the mug of tea the Professor had made for her. Ash laughed from the other side of the table.
"Only you could mistake Professor Oak for a thief, May" he chuckled.
"And what are you doing up so early?" May asked him accusingly. Ash shrugged.
"The same as you; I couldn't sleep either. I came down only a little while before you did and saw that Professor Oak was already awake, and looking really bored."
"I haven't had anything to do since my lab burned down," the Professor explained. "I'm so used to working as soon as I get up that it's quite a shock to just sit around doing nothing for a couple of hours. The only company I've normally got this early is Noctowl."
"Professor Oak was just telling me about his theory on why Latias was infected with Pokerus," Ash said to May. The Professor nodded.
"You see, May, everything on this planet is connected. Humans and Pokemon eat, drink, and interact with each other. When we die our bodies are returned to the earth so that new plants can grow and feed others. I hate to sound cliché, but the simplest name for it is the Circle of Life. Are you following me?" May nodded; it seemed pretty straightforward so far.
"Good. Now, while everything on the planet may be connected to everything else, living creatures are more closely linked to other living creatures than, say, a rock. And it divides again; humans connect on deeper levels to each other than to Pokemon, and vice versa. But then in Pokemon it divides again; 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 it's own evolutionary line than to Hypno. And of course, a Ralts will always connect more easily to another Ralts than to a Kirlia. Understand?"
"I think so," May said slowly. "It makes sense, but I can't quite see where you're going with it."
"It's because there is one group of Pokemon where these connections don't work," the Professor said. "This group of Pokemon is unique - in this group there are over 30 different species of Pokemon, 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," Ash supplied.
"Exactly," Professor Oak nodded. "All of them are rare, and most are impossible to capture - although there are a few exceptions. They are so valuable that some people spend all of their lives searching, just to catch a brief glimpse of one; your uncle spent most of his life trying to catch sight of a Moltres, Ash."
"I still don't see what this has to do with Latias and the Pokerus," May said, puzzled.
"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 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 it's own. The guardian Lugia sensed Moltres's capture and went to try and free the legendary Pokemon.
"Why did Suicune suddenly appear to try and help Celebi when it was caught and corrupted? How did Rayquaza know that the Deoxys was hiding in LaRousse City; in fact, how did the Deoxys know that the core of another Deoxys was being kept there? Why did Rayquaza suddenly appear over the stadium, and attack only Latias? It all boils down to the connection that legendary Pokemon share with one another."
"So... you're saying that you think it was this connection between Rayquaza and Latias that passed on the Pokerus?" May asked.
"It's the only thing that makes sense," Professor Oak replied. "Legendaries are so closely linked that they don't need physical contact to pass on the Pokerus." He sighed and looked towards the window and the dark world beyond. "Unfortunately, if I'm right, it means that other legendaries could also be infected. I have no idea how close they'd need to be to pass on the disease through their connection, but if it's any great distance than we could be looking at an epidemic."
"Now you'll be sure to look after yourself, won't you?" Delia asked as she fussed over Ash.
"Of course I will," he said, trying to wave her away as she attacked his head with a comb.
"You will treat all of your Pokemon equally, won't you?" Professor Oak asked, stepping in front of Delia. "You've never had so many Pokemon on your team at once while you travel, and they'll all need extra-special care. It's one of the reasons why most trainers are only allowed to carry six at a time."
"Don't worry, Professor," Ash said with a smile. "I'll be sure to look after them all. I'm only taking one of my Tauros though; I'll leave the rest here to help rebuild the lab."
"Thank you, Ash, they'll do wonders I'm sure. Now, I have something for you, May," he said, moving to the side and allowing Delia to attack Ash's hair again.
"For me?" she asked, surprised.
"Yes. You haven't caught anywhere near as many Pokemon as Ash, but you've proven yourself to be an exceptional trainer who takes amazing care of their Pokemon. So, I'd like to give you this." He placed an ordinary PokeDex in her hands.
"A PokeDex?" she asked, confused.
"Yes and no," he said. "You see, a PokeDex isn't just a protable encyclopedia, it's also your ID. It can tell anyone who you are, what you've captured, what Pokemon are on your team at the moment, and the number of Pokemon you're allowed to carry. This is called an Ex-Dex. It stands for "Expanded PokeDex, and it's the same thing that Ash got when he became a Frontier Brain."
"You mean, I can carry more than six Pokemon?" she asked. Professor Oak nodded.
"That's right," he said. "I know that you'll treat all of them well, so this is my gift to you."
"Thank you," she whispered. "I really appreciate this."
"We know," Norman laughed, stepping forward. He wrapped his arms around her daughter and hugged her tightly. "Travel safe," he said.
"We'll miss you, but we'll be waiting at home when you come back," Caroline added as she joined the hug. May gently detached herself from the two.
"We'd better get going now," she said. "Bye Mom, Dad. I'll see you soon, Max. Good luck in Johto!"
"Right back at you," Max said with a grin.
Waving backwards at the crowd of friends and family, Ash, May, Brock, Dawn, and Pikachu began to walk in the direction of Viridian City. A light breeze ruffled the grass around them and helped to cool them momentarily from the delicious warmth of the sun.
Ash stopped at the top of the hill closest to Pallet and turned momentarily, looking back at the town. His house was no longer visible, but the destroyed lab was plain to see. He stretched and looked up at the sun before turning back to his friends.
"Looks like we're finally travelling again," he said with a grin.
A clawed hand came rocketing out of the bushes and snapped itself around Pikachu.
"Hey!" Ash shouted, whirling towards the bushes as Pikachu was retracted.
"Prepare for trouble!" an ominous voice snarled.
"Are you still after Pikachu?" May asked in amazement as Jessie stepped out of the bushes. "I'd have thought that after ten years of failure you'd have given up."
"Think again, twerp," she smirked. "Looks like I've got Pikachu in the bag. Soon as I get back to headquarters I can use a Dark Ball and give your yellow rat to the boss!"
"I'm not going to let that happen!" Ash shouted. "Heracro-"
"Seviper, Poison Tail!" Jessie shouted. Her Seviper burst from the Poke Ball, tail glowing a menacing purple. It held it's tail at Pikachu's throat; Pikachu instantly stopped struggling. From the trees behind them, a figure burst out and wrapped his arms securely around May, pinning her arms tightly to her sides. She screamed in fright as he dragged her backwards a few paces.
Ash turned again, the Poke Ball in his hand. He looked in dismay as his eyes met Drew's.
"Well, this is a problem, isn't it," Jessie said with a toying smile. "The girl or the Pokemon? Who are you going to save?"
"Drew won't hurt May," Ash said confidently. "He's just keeping her safe. All I need to do is take out your Seviper." Drew snorted and Jessie giggled.
"Riiight, Drew won't hurt May," she said with a raised eyebrow. "How can you be so sure he won't try something else?"
"Get off me!" May screamed, trying to stamp on Drew's feet.
"If you go for the girl, say goodbye to your Pikachu," Jessie said menacingly, nodding to Seviper - the Poison Tail was flicked an inch closer and Pikachu strained to move it's neck away.
"If you try to save Pikachu, you can forget about travelling with May," Drew added. Ash stood in the centre, his mind torn as he turned from May to Pikachu, and back to May again.
Dawn tried to reach for a Poke Ball surreptitiously.
"Take your hands away from your Poke Balls," Drew snarled, watching her every move. Dawn swallowed and slowly moved her hands away.
"Looks like we've won this one, twerps," Jessie said with a smile, beginning to edge around in a circle until she stood next to Drew. "We've both got what we wanted. Come on Drew, let's go."
"Vine Whip!" a voice shouted. Ash twisted as several vines shot past him, much thicker than those on his Bulbasaur and Bayleef. One of the vines shot into the extendable arm that Jessie was holding, snapping it in two and causing it to spark dangerously; a second smashed into Seviper's head at full force, knocking it out cold. A second pair wrapped around May and shot into Drew. He doubled over in pain and let go of May, who was quickly reeled in.
"Why you..." Drew growled as he got to his feet, clutching his stomach. "Flygon, come on out!" With a roar, his Pokemon appeared.
"Heracross, I choose you!" Ash shouted, finally able to send out his Pokemon.
"Flygon, use Flamethrower!" Drew yelled.
"Venusaur, counter with Solarbeam!" the voice commanded.
"Heracross, Megahorn!" Ash shouted.
The Flamethrower and Solarbeam collided, causing an explosion. Heracross burst through the smoke with a glowing horn and smashed into Flygon's unprotected belly. The Pokemon gasped and freefell to earth at the intensity of the attack.
"Flygon!" Drew gasped. He recalled his Pokemon, gave the group a dirty look, and ran back into the forest. Ash, May, Brock, Dawn, and Pikachu all turned to Jessie, who stood seemingly rooted on the spot, and still holding the sparking arm.
"Ummm," she managed to squeak out before the power shortage in the arm overloaded. It exploded, and with a scream, Jessie was launched high into the air.
"Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off again," Ash said softly before turning to see the Venusaur and it's owner approaching. She wore a sleeveless blue shirt with matching socks and a red skirt. Her long brown hair cascaded down to the small of her back, and was held down in places by the strap of the yellow bag she carried over one shoulder. Her green eyes sparkled underneath a brimmed white hat.
"Good to see you again, Ash," she said with a playful smile on her face. "I was wondering if I'd see you before you left on another journey again. Good thing I came after you; it looks like you were in quite the dilemma."
"Rey," Ash said, stepping forward with a huge grin. "Have you started training again?" May, Brock, and Dawn all stood and watched in shock as both Rey and Ash broke into laughter and embraced.
A cold pit formed in May's stomach and began to spread upwards. Her eyes began to glisten as she held back tears and stepped backwards. With a sob, she turned and ran down the path, holding an arm to her eyes.
"I'll go after her," Dawn said, and quickly followed May, with Pikachu close behind.
Pain coursed throughout his body again, but this time he knew that it was not external. This time, he knew that it came from within. A cloud seemed to hang heavily directly over his head as delusional images swam before his mind. He clasped a three-fingered hand to his heart and did his best to shut out the images, but still they came.
They know, he thought. Somehow they know. They've found me here, and now they're trying to incapacitate me, make me helpless so they can capture me! I've been here too long, I need to go on to Vermillion City. I've... Nyyaaarrrrhhh!!!
Throughout Cerulean City, people stopped and stared, puzzled and a little afraid. They had all heard the scream.
Spread-eagled on a rooftop, the caped figure lay immobile and unconscious; utterly helpless.
For those of you wondering who Rey is, she's partly an OC and partly not. As some of you might have guessed from the description, she's based on the female trainer of FireRed/LeafGreen (and in this story, one of the two other trainers who started from Pallet with Gary and Ash; remember those two?)
Chapter 16: Capture
James looked longingly at the apple trees on the side of the road. He glanced up and saw Paul walking resolutely onwards, hands in his pocket, completely silent. He sighed and trudged on after him, stomach rumbling.
Travelling with Paul hadn't exactly been a fun experience. They had walked almost non-stop, resting only infrequently. On the rare occasions when they did stop, Paul battled his Pokemon against each other relentlessly. It had been a real shock to James the first time he saw a five-on-one battle.
"We're almost there," Paul said, breaking the long silence that had stretched between them at last. James hurried up to where Paul was standing and realized that he had only been talking into his Poketch. He saw Paul glance back at him and then turn back, lowering his voice and covering his mouth with his hand. He spoke for a few more moments, nodded once and then deftly shut the lid.
"My father is going to meet us here," Paul said, sitting down on a fallen log.
"Eh... why not just keep on going if that's where we're heading?" James asked.
"Because," Paul said, his dark eyes boring into James, "he wants us to wait here. Okay?"
"Okay," James muttered. Then his expression brightened as an idea struck him. "Come on out," he called, throwing four Poke Balls into the air. In a blaze of brilliant red light, Cacnea, Carnivine, Mime Jr, and Fearow appeared. He smiled happily as they stretched in midair. The smile quickly turned into a little shriek of horror and pain as Cacnea and Carnivine enveloped him fondly in a tight hug.
"Pathetic," Paul snorted, turning to look into the forest.
"What's so pathetic about letting out your Pokemon for a little fresh air?" James asked, feeling slightly abashed for some strange reason.
"You mean that you actually want them to enjoy themselves?" Paul asked.
"Well yeah, why wouldn't I?"
"Because Pokemon are just tools. They aren't supposed to enjoy themselves,; their only purpose is to be used in battle. You let them have fun, and they'll start thinking you're all friends."
"But we are," James protested. Paul snorted again.
"It's pathetic," he repeated. "Friendship makes a Pokemon weaker. If they think that you'll forgive them when you lose a battle, they'll just give up as soon as they start getting hurt."
"That's not true!" James shouted, leaping up in anger. Paul looked at him coldly.
"Oh really? Then tell me; when was the last time you and your 'friends' won a battle?"
James looked at him, a sinking feeling in his chest. Perhaps Paul was right. It had been a long time since he'd won a battle. Several years in fact.
"You see?" Paul said softly. "Being friends with a Pokemon just holds you back. You can only unleash their full power if you treat them like the inferior creatures they are." He turned and looked back into the forest. "Good, he's arrived."
James looked and started. Ringed in the trees around them were a group of people dressed in black, a large red 'R' splashed across their chests. A tall, broad-shouldered man dressed in an orange suit stepped forward. His gaze rested on James for a moment and a contemptuous smile curled across his face.
"Good work, Paul," he said, turning to the lavender-haired trainer. "It looks as if Cassidy and Butch have failed since you've brought him... alive." Paul shrugged.
"He was stuck in a tree and being attacked by a flock of Fearow when I found him. Apparently he was in the Colosseum with the others when a Hyper Beam knocked them all off in different directions. It could be that your mercenaries are still trailing the other two. I figured it was best if I brought him back for you to deal with personally, father."
Giovanni nodded, his sharp gaze wandering over a trembling and clearly bewildered James. "Didn't my son tell you?" he asked silkily.
"T-tell me what, s-sir?" James stammered. Giovanni took a step forward and kneeled so that he was at James's level.
"My dear, dear, James," he said softly, almost kindly. "You've cost our organization a pretty penny over the years; too much for so little result. You're expendable. I recently sent out a Rocket duo to try and find your little trio. Their sole orders were to kill you on the spot." James blanched, and Giovanni reached out to clasp his shoulder. "But now that you're here..." he whispered.
He whirled and thrust James away from him; the white-garbed Team Rocket member stumbled backwards and was grabbed by several of the grunts.
"Take him back to headquarters," Giovanni snapped. "I'm not in the mood to deal with him now. Put him in Silver's cell. I'll finish with what's left of him later. Seize his Pokemon and store them away. Paul, I want to see you in my office the moment we get back. Move!"
In minutes, the forest was still and silent. There was no sign of the confrontation that had just occurred aside from a small Fearow which perched hidden in a tree, it's tears streaming to earth.
"Not including our first specimen we have now obtained a Raikou, Suicune, Regice, and Uxie, not forgetting the Rayquaza that terrorized Southern Kanto," Giovanni told his son, reclining slightly in his chair. Paul nodded slowly.
"Quite the accomplishment," he drawled, "especially with capturing that Rayquaza. But forgive me; you need one specimen of every legendary Pokemon, and yet Latios is dead - your henchwomen saw to that." A crooked smile crossed Giovanni's lips.
"Oh, I imagine that Annie and Oakley are quite relieved to still be incarcerated at the moment," he said. "Their mission was simple: capture Latios and Latias. I still do not understand why they chose to try and steal a trinket and kill Latios instead of the simple recovery that I outlined for them. It is of no importance, though. There are other Latios in the wild, and Professor Namba has recently discovered their migration routes. We should soon have one under our possession, enlarging our collection."
"And as more legendaries are captured, brought here, and infected, the rest will feel a stronger and stronger urge to come and free their brethren, because of their connection to one another" Paul stated, knowing what his father had planned to say next.
"Exactly," Giovanni said., "and once we have one of every species collected here we will be able to call the ultimate Pokemon back to this reality. Now, I have a new mission for you. I need you to go to Hoenn. We have uncovered evidence that Celebi is currently residing in Petalburg Forest; I want you to capture it."
"We're talking about a legendary Pokemon," Paul said. "With the exception of Brandon's weakling Regirock, Regice, and Registeel, none have ever been captured. I don't think it's possible to poach a Pokemon with the kind of hidden strength that Celebi has." Giovanni stood and looked out of the window.
"Several years ago, we almost caught Celebi," he said. "I sent out our number-one field specialist at the time; Vicious. He collaborated with Namba to produce one of the ultimate Poke Balls. It captures any Pokemon, even those belonging to other trainers, without fail." He turned and threw a black sphere at Paul, who caught it in reflex.
"A Dark Ball," Paul muttered, examining it closely. Giovanni nodded.
"A Dark Ball," he acknowledged. "Use this to capture Celebi. Take someone with you, I don't care who. Just bring me back Celebi as quickly as possible. Stop by in Johto on the way back; I need you to pay a visit to Kurt of Azalea Town. He has something that I require for our purpose."
Paul nodded silently and watched as his father sat and faced the window again, understanding that he was dismissed. Stiffly, he turned and left his father's office. He walked down the hall and quickly descended down a flight of stairs. He knew exactly who to take with him.
James shrank back as far as he could, doing his best to avoid meeting the fiery gaze of his cell-mate who sat on the floor opposite him.
"I've been waiting a long time to get my hands on a Rocket," the man growled. James gulped nervously. "I don't know even know why I'm in here; perhaps you can shed some light on the mystery?" he continued.
"I'm afraid I can't," James said, licking his dry lips nervously. "All I know is that they're holding me here until they're ready to kill me."
"Probably hoping that I'll do the job for them," the man chuckled darkly, his long steely-grey hair swinging as he got to his feet, cracking his knuckles.
"A-are you going to?" James asked almost inaudibly.
"Nah, I'm no murderer. Although I sure would like a shot at that Giovanni and that Namba! If I still had my Salamence..."
"You mean that you don't?" James blurted out.
"What kind of mud do you have for brains, half-pint?" the man demanded. "You think your boss is foolish enough to put me in here with a Pokemon? My Salamence or Chikorita could break me outta here with no problem. Huh, I don't even know how they managed to catch me."
"Is your name Silver, by any chance?" James asked hesitantly.
"Sure is," the man drawled. "Silver's my name, and Pokemon is the game. My goal is to have a real battle with Moltres one day; without being interrupted by Team Rocket."
James gulped as the man took several strides towards him, grabbed him by the collar, and pinned him up against the wall.
"I don't know what you guys have against me, but I sure ain't impressed," he breathed. "I want to know why I'm in here, and I want to know now!"
"Put him down, Silver," a cold voice drawled. Silver half-turned, still holding James by the shirt.
"What do you want, half-pint?" he asked.
"I've come for him," Paul said, pointing at James. Silver looked at Paul scornfully.
"Why, because you're worried I might hurt him? Don't want your friend damaged?"
"He is being given his last chance at life," Paul said flatly. "He's coming with me on a special mission. Now put him down. Don't make me use my Electivire."
"Tough kid," Silver taunted, "having to hide behind your Pokemon. Tell you what, why don't you come in here without any Pokemon and try to get him away from me."
"I don't play that way," Paul said, tossing a Poke Ball into the air and releasing his Electivire. "Thunderbolt," he ordered. Silver screamed as the volts coursed through his system, forcing him to drop a terrified James to the ground. Paul watched him emotionlessly, allowing the attack to continue for a good deal longer than was necessary. At last he raised his arm, and the Thunderbolt stopped. Silver slumped to the floor, groaning slightly.
"Out," he ordered James.
"I... I don't understand," James murmured as he crawled out of the cell, followed closely by Electivire.
"I told you, you've got one last chance to save your life," Paul said impatiently as he slammed the cell door shut and took out the key. "We're going to Hoenn. I want to be back in forty-eight hours, so you'd better not slow me up."
"Hoenn?" James asked. "But, what about my Pokemon?"
"You can take your Cacnea," Paul said. "The rest stay here. Now move."
"How do I know I can trust you?" James asked shrewdly. "You've already lied to me once, about the six-course meal." Paul rolled his eyes, whirled and grabbed him by the shoulder. They stared at each other for a moment.
"You have to trust me because you'll die if you don't," Paul hissed. "If you don't want to die, then follow me." He strode off quickly, leaving James rooted to the spot in bewilderment.
In the cell, Silver regained consciousness. He let out a moan of pain as static electricity crackled across his body. He struggled to his feet and leaned heavily against an iron wall. He cursed in surprise as the wall swung outwards, sending him crashing to the ground. Dazed, he looked up and realized that he was in the hallway. He scrambled to his feet and examined the wall closely.
"That kid," he whispered. "He forgot to lock the door!" He let out a laugh and cracked his knuckles. "This is going to be fun," he grinned. "Let's see how Team Rocket handles this!"
As ever, please review! If you have any questions feel free to ask them, and I'll answer next time around. I'd also like to point out that this chapter was written long before Cacnea was given to Gardenia.
Great chapter! I wouldn't have expected Paul to be Giovanni's son, see Silver, LG/FR girl and a REAL interpretation of Paul. And May's jealous but who blames her? Her "crush" just hugged another girl in front of her. Dumb Ash.
Sorry I don't have time for a proper review but good chapter as usual. Keep it up.
Thanks for the review benjobbb! I hadn't realized that there were so many plot twists.
This is just a short little chapter (possibly the shortest of all so far), but its one of my favourites. I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 17: Memory
May squinted slightly as the bright sunlight washed over her face, almost seeming to tickle her eyelids. Grumbling sleepily, she rolled over. She stretched, and bolted back her hand as she felt it touch something warm and soft. Panicking, she moved as away from the unknown entity as fast as she could while her lower torso was still entangled in a sleeping bag.
She stared at the sleeping bag that had lain next to hers in early-morning confusion. Then, with a slight motion, Drew's head appeared from beneath the cover. She relaxed as the previous days events came back to her. She had been on her way to Ecruteak City when she'd met Drew training his new Furret for the next contest. It had been getting dark, so they both decided to camp where they were, and travel to the next contest together.
May looked at him and smiled. It would certainly be nice to have someone to travel with again. She been going solo for so long, that she was actually quite lonely for some human company. Heck, she was so desperate for another person to talk too that she wouldn't even mind if Max showed up out of nowhere and started to bug here.
She cast her eyes downward, feeling sad at the thought of her brother. Here she was in Johto, while he was on his own journey in Hoenn. She wondered briefly what Pokemon he'd caught, and how many badges he'd won so far. She gave a little sigh - she hadn't been able to get in touch with him since she'd left for Johto.
Thinking of Max, she couldn't help remembering her other friends. She thought briefly of Brock, wondering if he was still at the Pewter Gym now or if he'd gone on after -
She closed her eyes, shaking her head to lose the thought that had been dangerously close to breaking through again. Ever since their group had split up, she couldn't even think his name without feeling a twinge of pain. And thinking about him brought a world of loss.
"I don't know what's wrong with me," she muttered to herself. "I can think of Max and Brock, so why is it that everytime I think of... of him, I start feeling so depressed?"
"Hmm? Thinking about me?" she heard Drew ask. She snapped her head upright, pink tinges in her cheeks.
"No, no, of course not, why would I be thinking of you?" May asked, laughing nervously as she waved a hand in dismissal. Drew shrugged.
"I dunno, but you were thinking about some guy and I figured there was as much a chance of it being me as the next guy."
"Eavesdropper," May muttered. Drew laughed and stood up, stretching in the sunlight.
"Come on," he said, "lets start breakfast. If we eat quickly enough, we could make it to Ecruteak by nightfall."
"Sounds good," May said, jumping up. "You cook the food, I'll do the fire."
"Good luck with getting it started," Drew snorted. "Remember the trouble you had last night? It's a wonder you ever had a fire when you travelled with Max, Brock, and-"
"Brock normally lit the fire, he was good at those kinds of things," May cut in quickly. "I'll get it started though, don't you worry about that."
"Sure, I'd like to see you try it," Drew bantered humourously. "Looks like we'll be having cold bread instead of toast."
May grinned as he turned and began to rummage in his bag for the food. Making sure that he couldn't see her, she quietly called out a Pokemon, set up a tepee of sticks, and whispered her instructions. Drew turned and gaped at the hot fire that sat between them.
"Hey, how'd you make a fire so big so quickly? How'd you even get it lit?"
"Trade secret," May smiled, enjoying his confusion. Drew stared at her, completely astonished, and May laughed at his amazement. Then Drew caught sight of the Blaziken standing behind her.
"Hey, that's not fair! You used your Pokemon to start it!" Drew protested.
"Whatever works," May said, smiling sweetly. "Now, I think you said you were going to cook breakfast?"
Muttering darkly to himself, Drew put a few slices of bread in a frying pan and began to cook them over the fire. May smiled inwardly as she sat back down on her sleeping bag and watched him do all of the work.
May was jolted out of her memory by the sound of Dawn gasping as she drew closer to the rock where May sat. She stood there a moment, holding a hand to her chest as she took ragged breaths before flopping down next to May.
"Boy, you can really run," Dawn gasped. May didn't respond.
"Why'd you run off like that, May?" Dawn asked. "Didn't you want to meet Rey? She seems like a really nice person."
"Oh she does, does she?" May asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Let me ask you something, Dawn. The other day, you let it slip that Ash likes me after I tell you that I like him. So what happens? He gives a big hug to this girl who just comes waltzing up when he's never even given me a little hug, the girl he's supposed to like. So what does that tell you, Dawn?"
Dawn looked at her fellow coordinator who glanced away, refusing to meet her eyes. Still, Dawn had seen the tears beginning to trickle down her cheeks.
"I think you've got it all wrong, May," she said softly. "Ash doesn't like Rey in that way at all. They're just childhood friends who were separated by their journeys. That hug he gave her was just an 'its-great-to-see-you-I-haven't-seen-you-in-years-how-have-you-been' hug, not an 'I love you' hug."
"Then why hasn't he ever given me a hug, when we've been separated like that?" May asked, her voice fluctuating slightly as she tried desperately not to cry. Dawn sighed.
"I don't know him as well as you, or Brock do, May," she said. "But if I what Brock told me is right, Ash lost all contact with her. He hasn't spoken to her since the day before he started his Pokemon journey, and that was ten years ago. He hasn't even been able to just say "hi" over the videophone. At least you two were able to keep in touch." She stood up and brushed a little dust off her skirt.
"I'm going to go back," she said. "I think you probably should, too. Rey and her Venusaur did save you after all; you should at least say thank you." May nodded quietly and spoke almost inaudibly.
"You go ahead. I'll be there soon." Dawn nodded and headed back towards Ash, Brock, and Rey.
May waited until she heard her footsteps fade, and then released all of the raw emotion that was pent up inside of her. The wrenching feeling that she had unfairly judged Ash; the guilt that she hated Rey before she'd even said one word to her; her memories of travelling with Drew in Johto.
"What went wrong?" she whispered to herself. "What changed him from a friend to a monster?"
She sat there for what seemed to be a long time until she had cried all of her emotion out. Then, wiping her face with her sleeve, she got unsteadily to her feet and began walking back to her friends.
A couple of chapters ago, Drew seemed like a real villian as he tried to kidnap May. Most of you probably thought that was just typical Contestship bashing from an Advanceshipping fan, especially since Drew is typically the main antagonist in ADV ships.
You were dead wrong.
This chapter delivered a little bit of a backstory; quite the contrast in character compared to two chapters ago, eh? I'm not going to go into details now (for obvious reasons), but when Chapter 24 is uploaded more of Drew's and May's history in Johto will be revealed, with a lot more to follow afterwards. It's gonna be a real tearjerker...
Chapter 18: Conversation
"If she'd only gotten a little closer to the trees. We could have grabbed her!" Cassidy complained to Butch. He peered nervously out from behind the bushes and motioned for her to lower her voice before answering.
"At least we know that our guess was right; she is following those kids. All we have to do is follow them, and she'll turn up eventually."
"I wonder where James and that Meowth have gone," Cassidy frowned. "It's weird that she was working with that green-haired kid instead of her partners. Do you think something happened to them?"
"I hope so," Butch muttered, his head turned away. "I still don't think I could kill them."
"Neither do I, Butch," Cassidy said. She grabbed his arm and forced him to meet her eyes. "But we've got to. If we don't, it's our own necks on the line. Now come on, let's keep following these kids. It looks like their going to Viridian City, but I don't want to risk beating them there only to find out that they've bypassed it."
"Sure. Whatever," Butch answered unhappily.
Rey watched curiously out of the corner of her eye as May ran off, followed quickly by Dawn.
"I wouldn't worry too much about it," Brock said before she could ask. "I'm sure Dawn will sort it out."
"She seems very, ah, emotional," Rey said, looking directly at Ash. He hesitated for a moment.
"Good to see you again, Rey," he said weakly, spreading his arms wide. She looked at him, completely unimpressed.
"Don't try and pull the innocent act with me, Ash Ketchum," she said. "Maybe I haven't seen you for a couple of years, but we were best friends growing up and I know you a lot better than you realize." She stepped close until her face was right in his, and lowered her voice to a whisper. "I know what it feels like; I've been there. I also know what it feels like to be treated badly. You'd better treat her right, or I'll be coming after you."
As Ash began to sweat, Rey stepped back and spoke normally again. "Even Masters get caught up in their training," she said to him. "Just try to remember the people around you too, 'kay?"
Ash stood still, a little unsure of what to do as Rey turned and greeted Brock. "I guess she doesn't know me a well as she thinks she does," he muttered under his breath, beginning to wish that he'd run after May instead of Dawn.
"So, Brock, do you remember our battle?" Rey asked. He laughed.
"Do I ever! That was one of the best battles that I ever had as gym leader! I thought I had you beat easily when Geodude took out your Rattata in one attack, but your Bulbasaur was fantastic; I still can't believe that you combined Razor Leaf with Petal Dance to make a Leaf Storm, even though your Bulbasaur didn't know the attack. Using Petal Dance to create a cloud of leaves, and then using Razor Leaf to propel it into Onix was just fantastic. I still haven't seen anything like it since."
Rey laughed. "How'd Ash do against you?" she asked.
"Well, he won the second time, but it was kind of a fluke. I actually ended up just giving him the badge because he walked out in the middle of the battle."
"What?" Rey asked, completely shocked. "Why would he do that?" Brock smiled, remembering the first time he'd battled the fourth trainer from Pallet.
The Gym was dark; as usual, Brock kept his eyes partially closed. Over time he had discovered that this helped him to sense both his and the opponent Pokemon's movement in battle. It was a technique that he would adapt for life, although he did not know it at the time.
The heavy stone doors slowly creaked open. Brock stirred on the hard, granite seat; he could only assume that this was the fourth and final beginning trainer from Pallet Town. He was determined to win this match, feeling mortified with himself for losing three in a row against rookies.
"I'm here for a Gym Battle," the trainer declared boldly, stepping forwards. Brock made out a Pikachu at his side and grinned inside. If this trainer was using a Pikachu, the battle should be a piece of cake. The lights snapped on and Brock vaulted from his chair, landing neatly on the gym floor. He recited the rules of the Pewter Gym and Ash sent his Pikachu forward.
Moving back to his battle box Brock decided to end the match right there and then, sending out his Onix. The Pikachu shot out a weak electric attack which did absolutely nothing to the rock-snake. One quick Bind attack from Onix, and the match was over. He watched as the young trainer ran from the Gym with the Pikachu in his arms, feeling a little sympathy. He could only imagine how humiliating it must be to lose so badly...
He was surprised the next day when the trainer returned, looking more confident than ever. They began the rematch, with the trainer sending out a Pidgeotto and Brock choosing Geodude. It didn't take long for the flying-type to be knocked out, but Ash stunned Brock by choosing his Pikachu as his final Pokemon. He was stunned again when a much more powerful electric attack than the one used the day before knocked out his Geodude cleanly. A grudging respect began to grow for the young trainer; even though both of his choices were at massive type disadvantages, the trainer refused to give up and found ways to win. Brock could see raw talent, and he admired the boy for it.
He knew that the match was his to win though, and he sent out his Onix for a rematch of the day before. He watched grimly as the rock-type used a Bind on the Pikachu again. The young trainer shouted out an attack command desperately but the electricity had absolutely no effect, deflecting off of Onix to smash harmlessly into the ceiling. Brock knew that he'd won again.
Then Onix roared out in pain; Brock gasped in shock as the sprinkler system, razed by the electricity, short-circuited and sent torrents of water downwards, drenching everything on the field. He didn't see what happened next but a blinding flash lit the Gym and Onix crashed to the floor, releasing the Bind as it moaned in pain.
"Wait, let me see if I've got this right," Rey interrupted. "Ash won the match because the sprinklers went off?" She roared in laughter, causing Brock to frown.
"In our first match I could see that the Bind attack was really hurting Pikachu, and it was in no state to fight. So I called the bind off. Ash forfeited the match and took his Pikachu to the Pokemon Centre. In our rematch, it was Onix who couldn't fight anymore, because of a fluke more than anything else. The water combined with the electricity to do what electricity alone couldn't do. But Ash called off the match again. He knew that winning because of malfunctioning sprinklers wasn't really winning at all. He just walked out of the Gym, there and then."
"So why'd you give him the badge if he didn't beat you?" Rey asked.
"A gym badge signifies a trainer's skill; defeating a gym leader takes lots of hard work to do. But what happens if a trainer comes close to victory and just can't quite pull it out in the end? Ash may not have had the raw power or the right strategy, but he proved that he had the right heart. That's why I gave him the badge."
"Wow," Rey said. "I didn't realize that there was more to gym battling then just beating a trainer. So how come you decided to leave the gym and follow Ash?" Brock chose not to answer straight away, diverting his gaze instead to the large Venusaur that stood nearby, eyes closed as it rested in the sun.
"So, I'm guessing that this evolved from your Bulbasaur?" he asked her. She nodded proudly. "Yup, the same. I've kept her with me all of this time, even though I never actually competed in a League."
"Why not?" Brock asked, surprised. "You did a fantastic job against me, and I've always thought that you could get into the top eight." Rey shrugged.
"It just never worked out for me," she said. "I was doing really well at first, but by the time I got to the sixth gym I'd just worn my Pokemon out. I was travelling so quickly that I never trained my Pokemon properly. I never did beat the sixth gym, or any other gym for that matter. I just wasn't strong or smart enough to realize that I had to train my Pokemon before I could battle with them." Ash finally snapped out of his thoughts and wandered over.
"What other Pokemon do you have, Rey?" he asked, looking at her Venusaur.
"Take a look!" she smiled, throwing two more balls into the air. In the familiar burst of red light, a Farfetch'd and a Xatu appeared.
"Awesome, a Farfetch'd and Xatu!" Ash said, gazing at the two Pokemon. "You must have had a hard time catching them, they're both really rare!"
"It's easier than people think," Rey smiled as Dawn reappeared in the group.
"She's on her way back," she said to them. "I think she's okay now." Rey looked uneasily in the direction that May had run.
"Do you think I should go ahead?" she asked them.
"No," Dawn said, shaking her head. "I think you should be here; I kind of got the feeling that she wanted to talk."
I hope you liked this chapter even though it was short and mostly filler.
Sorry for the consistent long waits between chapters; I seem to have a hard time accessing this forum on a regular basis (it rarely loads properly for me).
Chapter 19: Lessons
Dawn stopped and stared at the sight that spread out before her. A wide grin split her face and she dashed back to where Ash, Brock, May, and Rey were resting.
"Guys, it's just up ahead," she said excitedly. "It's Viridian City!" Rey jumped to her feet and looked north eagerly.
"Then let's get moving!" she said. "We've gotten here a lot earlier than I thought we would. Come on guys, if we hurry we can get some good room at the Pokemon Centre!"
"The Pokemon Centre!" Brock exclaimed, a goofy smile beginning to spread over his face. "What are we waiting for then?" Without looking back, he tore off down the path. Rey stared after him open-mouthed and looked sideways at Ash.
"Is he always this, uh, enthusiastic about going to a Centre?" she asked uncertainly.
"Let me put it this way," Dawn intervened, a wicked grin on her face. "His goal is to become the world's greatest breeder."
"Oh, that would explain it," Rey said, failing to noticing the double entendre as she began walking down the path with Dawn right behind her. May and Ash both rolled their eyes at each other as they followed, Pikachu on Ash's shoulder as usual.
"How long do you think it will take for him to get to the Centre?" May asked Ash.
"Probably about a minute," he answered with a laugh. He turned a corner and saw Dawn and Rey frozen in shock. A Rhydon stood in the middle of the path, Brock just in front of it. It snorted at them and flexed it's arms menacingly when Brock shuffled slightly to the side.
"Rhydon," a voice called out, "I told you to stop them, but you weren't supposed to scare them." The Rhydon turned and they saw Noland walking up the path towards them, a cheery grin on his face. "Sorry about that," he said as he recalled his Pokemon. "We've had a devil of a job trying to find you. All of the press are still here believe it or not, and we've been hard pressed to keep them away from Pallet Town."
"You mean the other Frontier Brains?" Ash asked. Noland nodded.
"That's right. It's been a couple of days since that Rayquaza attacked and vanished, but because you went straight back to Pallet Town everyone still wants to know what happened to you. Half of the planet seems to think that you just disappeared into thin air!" Ash felt a sudden guilty surge.
"What about Cynthia?" he asked. "I can't believe that I don't know this, but did she get out okay?"
"Yeah, she's fine," he said. "She left the Colosseum when her last Pokemon was taken out by the Rayquaza, so she got out before it collapsed. She came straight to Viridian City. I can tell you that it's been a couple of very trying days for her; the press won't stop asking her about where she thinks you are, how she feels the match was going, etc. She's only stayed here as long as she has because we were all waiting for you to show up, and none of us knew how long that would be."
"Why not just call his house?" Brock asked. "That would have been the easiest thing to do."
"We tried, dozens of times," Noland explained. "The line was disconnected; we think that the Professor probably did that so that the press couldn't call, just to give you a couple of days peace from the media."
"So how come you've all been looking for us?" Dawn asked.
"Well, only Anabel, Lucy, and I have actually been trying to find you," Noland said. "Greta, Tucker, and Brandon have all been handling the press with Cynthia." He laughed. "It's a dream job for Tucker, I can tell you that! You know how much he loves the limelight. At the rate he's going, he'll have a talk show on every channel before the month is out!" His face grew serious. "But as to why we've been looking for you, it's so that we can get you into Viridian City as quietly as possible. I know it isn't ideal for secrecy, but the Pokemon Centre is the only place that we were able to book rooms at."
"So how do we avoid the press?" Ash asked, frowning. He loved being a League Champion, but he absolutely hated the constant media coverage that seemed to follow him from town to town.
"There's a passageway nobody knows about that goes straight to the Pokemon Centre. We'll use that so you can get there without anybody noticing. Tomorrow we'll call a press conference for you, and that will hopefully be the end of it."
"Brilliant," Ash muttered. "More time to embarrass myself on camera." Noland laughed.
"Don't worry, we'll keep it brief," he chuckled. "And we'll make sure that they all understand that you aren't going to let yourself be followed by news crews anymore." He casually threw a Poke Ball into the air, causing a brilliant green light to shoot straight upwards. He caught the Ball and laughed as he saw them all shielding their eyes.
"That's just to let Anabel and Lucy know that I've found you," he explained.
"How did you do that?" Brock asked curiously. "I've never seen a Poke Ball let out a green light before." Noland just shrugged.
"You'd be surprised what Poke Balls can do," he said. "The technology behind them is incredible. How can such a small device hold something as large as a Gyarados or as heavy as a Snorlax without getting bigger and heavier? How come they can catch some living things like Pokemon, but not others like humans? How can a Poke Ball tell the difference between sending out a Pokemon to battle and sending out a Pokemon to be permanently released? How can they be transported over the Internet to another location with the Pokemon still inside?" His eyes gleamed.
"Technology is incredible if you just take a look beneath the surface. I'm examining Poke Balls now. I've even been in contact with Silph Co, although they actually don't know that much about Poke Ball technology themselves. They were amazed when I told them my discovery about the green light. Imagine inventing something and not knowing how it worked, or what it's capable of doing!"
"Scott really made the right decision when he made you the head of the Battle Factory," May laughed. Noland grinned.
"What can I say? The man knows what makes people happy. Oh, hi Lucy."
The Pike Queen stepped sedately out of the bushes, brushing a stray leaf off her tube top. She nodded to Noland and looked around the group. A very slight smile crossed her lips when she Rey, but she was distracted when Brock bounded forwards and clasped her hands as he bent on one knee.
"Lucy, the days since I last saw you have seemed as barren as the surface of the moon. I've waited day and night to be at your side once again!" Lucy looked down at him, small red patches on her cheeks. "My Queen," he began, "I-" He let out a high-pitched scream and collapsed, twitching.
Lucy stood rooted to the spot in surprise as the Pokemon that had just materialized behind Brock lowered it's arm, the purple palm fading back to the usual black. It looked at her and let out what sounded like a short chuckle before turning, grabbing Brock by the shirt, and dragging him into the bushes.
"Croa... croa... croa..." it muttered as it re-emerged from the undergrowth.
"Ummm, what was that all about?" Rey asked, feeling a little creeped out.
"I told you that his goal was to be the world's greatest breeder," Dawn said with a wicked gin. Rey's eyes widened as she realized what Dawn had meant earlier.
"So... he doesn't want to be a Pokemon breeder?" she asked faintly.
"Oh, he wants to be that too," Dawn assured her. "He just wants to find a girlfriend first."
"And you feel safe around him?"
"Croagunk keeps him under control," Ash chuckled. "Besides, it's more of a personality quirk than anything else. Every time a girl has actually fallen for him, he realizes that she isn't the one for him."
"So he just goes around falling in love with every girl he meets, hoping to find the right one?"
"Yeah, that sounds about right," May laughed. Rey looked as if she was about to be sick; noticing this, May hastened to reassure her.
"Don't worry," she said, "you get used to it pretty quickly."
"Get used to what?" Anabel asked as she came around a corner in the path.
"Brock," May answered, seeing Ash open his mouth to respond and feeling a twinge of jealousy.
"He is a little unusual," Anabel laughed. "But you're right, you do get used to him quickly. You know, I was always a little offended that he never fell for me like that."
"Well, that is because we all thought you were a boy," Ash laughed. Anabel winced, although only May and Lucy noticed it.
"Yeah, no kidding," she muttered, looking down at the ground. Lucy quickly intervened.
"Are we ready, Noland?" she asked.
"We sure are," he grinned. "Dugtrio!" In a flash of red light, the ground-type appeared. "Dugtrio, we need you to dig us a way to that tunnel we found earlier."
"Trio!" the Dugtrio acknowledged. It dug downwards and was quickly lost to view.
"Wow, that Dugtrio's fast," Ash said admiringly.
"It's still a fairly new capture, so it needs some training," Noland said. "It's definitely fast, but the attacks just aren't strong enough yet."
"Here, you should try giving it some of my homemade Pokemon food," Brock said, reappearing suddenly in the midst of them and in perfect health. Everyone jumped at his appearance. "It's a recipe I started with my Onix and Geodude, and when my Mudkip evolved into Marshtomp I was able to perfect it. It's made specially for Ground-types."
Recovering quickly from his shock, Noland reached out and took a proffered piece. He popped it into his mouth and chewed gingerly for a few moments. He swallowed and beamed. "That stuff is fantastic!" he exclaimed. "Brock, I think that food would be perfect for my Dugtrio. How much do you want for a bag of it?"
"Take it, it's a gift," Brock said. "I don't make Pokemon food to make money; I do it because I know that the Pokemon enjoy it. I don't have any more of it on me, but as soon as we get to the Pokemon Centre I'll make a batch for you."
"Thanks, Brock," Noland said, clapping him on the back gratefully.
"Do you have any food for water-types?" Lucy asked, smiling at him. At the sound of her voice, Brock seemed to go into a dreamland.
"Croa... croa... croa..." Croagunk exhaled as she raised an arm, the palm glowing purple. Brock started and moved smartly out of the way, fishing in his bag for a sample of the water-type food to give to the Pika Queen. Anabel rolled her eyes as the Dugtrio came barrelling back up the tunnel.
"Trio!" it said proudly to Noland.
"Great job, Dugtrio," he said, looking at the ground-type fondly. "Lead the way for us now."
The Dugtrio moved down the tunnel, followed by Noland, Rey, Dawn, Anabel, Ash, Pikachu, May, Brock, a watchful Croagunk, and Lucy. The passageway sloped steeply downwards and they all had to move sideways to try and prevent themselves from falling over. Dawn stumbled and almost collided with Rey, but a watchful Anabel managed to steady her just in time.
"We're here," Noland called, what seemed like hours later. He jumped down from the tunnel that Dugtrio had made and looked back; Rey was peering nervously downwards, looking too scared to move. "It's easy," he said to her reassuringly. "Just crouch when you land."
"It's a ten foot drop," Rey said flatly. "There's no way that I'm jumping from something this high." Noland sighed and released his Venusaur.
"Use Vine Whip to help her down," he said.
"Saur," the Venusaur nodded, sending out a solitary vine which wrapped around Rey's waist. She gave a little squeal of shock as she felt herself lifted off of the ground.
"No, no I don't like this! Put me down, put me down!" she began to scream hysterically, struggling so hard against Venusaur that it was forced to send out another vine to secure her. The moment her flailing legs came into contact with the ground they buckled and she collapsed, shivering, her eyes wide and unseeing.
"Venusaur, help the rest of them down," Norman said as he hurried over to Rey in concern. Dawn looked at Rey curiously as she was lifted down with Anabel; the ride didn't seem that bad to her. She watched Noland speaking to Rey quietly as Ash, Pikachu, May, Brock, and Lucy were all lifted down.
"Where are we?" May asked. Dawn tore her gaze away from Noland and Rey and realized that they were in what seemed to be a large stone tunnel. The passageway was fairly wide, but the air seemed slightly dank. She reached out to touch a wall and found that it was damp with some kind of moss.
"This is a tunnel. It was built many years ago," Lucy said. Seeing the confusion on everyone's faces, Anabel decided to elaborate.
"It was built by the Kentou forces during the last of the Cyas Wars," she explained. "You all know about those, right?" The group looked at each other and shook their heads simultaneously. Anabel sighed.
"The Cyas Wars involved the armies of four regions," she said. "Kentou, Shannah, Gotou, and Whoeen. All four were fighting for one goal; not for land, or money, or slaves, but for a Pokemon so strong it was said to be the ultimate Pokemon. Few had ever seen it, and yet everyone was convinced of it's existence. It's name was Cyas. Every region wanted to be the one who possessed this powerful Pokemon. And so they all declared war on each other, under the impression that whoever won the war would be able to control Cyas.
"It was the bloodiest set of wars that the world had ever seen," she said, shaking her head. "There were three of them; each time one region was defeated one war ended and another began. The first region to be defeated was Whoeen. They were said to have the strongest army, but Kentou, Shannah, and Gotou signed a truce that would last until Whoeen was defeated. When that region fell the truce ended, and they turned on each other again.
"Shannah was the next region to fall, defeated violently by the Kentou forces. At the conclusion of the second war, though, Kentou had lost a considerable amount of it's army. Gotou seized it's chance and invaded the Kentou region. They had thousands more fighters than the Kentou army, and drove them back. Somehow, they managed to separate the Kentou forces into two separate bodies; one fled north to defend the home of their ruler, Cameron Castle. The other was forced south to Veredeen.
"In the battle to the north, the red Kentou forces did their best to hold Cameron Castle from the green Gotou army. Despite a moment of friendly-fire in which some of the red forces accidentally attacked one of their own who was clad in the blue-black tunic of Shannah, they managed to hold off Gotou. Still, the Kentou forces were about to fall when in the distance a magnificent light arose and spread over the battlefield; believing it to be the wrath of Cyas over their actions, both Kentou and Gotou dropped their weapons and walked away in peace.
"The light did not spread as far south as Veredeen however; here the Kentou army was badly outnumbered. To compensate they built tunnels for cover in a attempt at defeating the enemy through a hit-and-run tactic. The tunnel plans succeeded, and many Gotou lost their lives. Suffering from a heavy loss of life, and having just received word from the northern body of the mutual surrender, the Gotou forces retreated from Veredeen.
"The Cyas Wars ended with no victor, and Cyas itself was never seen. As time passed and language changed, most names were altered. Kentou was what is now Kanto; Gotou was Johto, Whoeen became Hoenn, and Shannah changed to Sinnoh. Having never been seen since the Wars, the legend of Cyas faded into obscurity. This tunnel was one of those built by the Kentou army. Professor Alden, a renowned archaeologist, discovered it a couple of years ago."
"Wow," May said. "I never knew that Hoenn used to be at war with Kanto. Does that mean that Ash and I are natural enemies?" Anabel couldn't help smiling.
"Only if you want to be," she chuckled. "The Cyas Wars were the last in our world's history, and they ended over 500 years ago. There's been peace ever since."
"Come on guys," Rey called, seemingly recovered from her fright. "Let's get going, this tunnel is giving me the creeps."
"Where does it go anyways?" Brock asked as they set off, with Noland in the lead.
"It actually goes into the basement of the Pokemon Centre," Noland said. "Just before Professor Alden was called in, Nurse Joy found out that the basement floor was sinking in one spot. She called in Flint from Pewter City to repair it, and that was when they discovered the tunnel underneath. At that point, Nurse Joy called in Professor Alden."
He stopped in what seemed to be just another stretch of tunnel and looked up, where a thin square of light filtered down. He turned to his Venusaur and nodded. The Venusaur reached up with another Vine Whip and knocked the square aside.
"Who's first?" Noland asked.
"I'll go," Brock volunteered, and he was quickly hoisted up by Venusaur.
"Rey?" Noland asked.
"Not me!" Rey yelped, backtracking into Ash.
"You have to go up sometime, Rey," Dawn pointed out. Rey's eyes were wide with fear again.
"I thought there'd be stairs, and I'd rather stay down here if there aren't any," she murmured, beginning to shake. Noland sighed and looked at his Venusaur.
"Use Sweet Scent," he said. Seconds later Rey relaxed and slumped against Ash, her eyes half-closed as her head lolled against his chest.
Ash was glad that the darkness shielded the glare from May that he could feel on his back. He breathed a silent sigh of relief when Venusaur lifted her up and Brock had dragged her from the vines into the basement. Ash volunteered to go next, and was surprised to see that Rey had already recovered from the calming scents.
At last they were all in the Pokemon Centre's basement; Noland recalled Venusaur and carefully pushed the floor square back in place. "Lead the way, Lucy," he said. The silent Frontier Brain nodded her head and lead the way up to the main floor.
She looked around for a moment, trying to find the hallway she wanted. She then quickly led them down one hallways, around a corner, through the emergency room which held a badly injured Meowth, down another hallway, and finally into the lobby.
Lucy stopped short in surprise at the scene before her. Curious about what was happening, they all filed out behind her and gaped.
An enraged Tyranitar stood by the counter, blood on it's arms and a discarded Poke Ball at it's feet. Nurse Joy stood in between it and it's trainer, trying to stop the massive Pokemon from attacking the young man.
"Tyranitar, please stop," she begged. The Tyranitar simply roared and tried to slash over her shoulder at the trainer, who dodged backwards.
"Cruz, stop!" he pleaded. The Tyranitar lunged again, forcing it's trainer back again; this time he hit the wall. He looked for a way out but realized that he was trapped. Visible hate shone out from the out-of-control Tyranitar's eyes as it knocked a desperate Nurse Joy across the room. She screamed in pain as she slammed against the wall and fell, motionless.
Ash reacted without thinking; in a flash, Sceptile had been called out and a devastating Leaf Blade connected with the back of the Tyranitar's head. Distracted, the larger Rock-type whirled and slammed a surprise Dynamic Punch into Sceptile's throat. The grass-type screeched as it flew backwards, barely managing to land on it's feet.
"Bullet Seed and then Leaf Blade again!" Ash roared.
Sceptile unleashed a barrage of glowing seeds as it began to run towards the Tyranitar; Growling viciously, the Tyranitar conjured up a Stone Edge; the series of small stones burst form under the floorboards and soared towards the Bullet Seed where it collided. Both attacks shattered on impact, unleashing clouds of dust. Through it Sceptile leaped, it's left arm blade elongated and glowing bright green. It connected with the Tyranitar's defensive Dynamic Punch; both Pokemon held their positions, glaring into each other's eyes.
The Tyranitar balled it's other fist and swung again; Sceptile countered by using Leaf Blade with the other arm. Again, both attacks collided and the Pokemon held their positions. Sparks began to fly from the first impact as both Pokemon had their energy drained from the fused attacks.
"Pound attack!" Ash shouted. Sceptile wrenched it's right arm free and twisted his body; the Dynamic Punch whistled past Sceptile's ear. The grass-type kept turning and felt his massive tail connect with Tyranitar's head. The rock-type crashed to the ground face first.
"Leaf Blade again!" Both arms began glowing again and Sceptile leaped into the air above Tyranitar. The rock-type turned, just in time to see two streaks of green lights slash over it's face. With one last final grunt of pain, the Tyranitar fell still. Sceptile landed awkwardly on all fours, just beyond the downed Tranitar.
"Sceptile!" Ash yelled, running over to the injured and exhausted grass-type. "Sceptile, are you okay?"
"Tile," Sceptile reassured him, reaching over to a nearby plant pot and snapping off a twig to place in it's mouth.
"Nurse Joy!" Brock shouted, running over to the slumped woman. She moaned slightly in her unconsciousness and her head dropped another inch. Croagunk burst from it's Poke Ball, ready to stab Brock with a Poison Jab; seeing the situation at hand, it halted the attack and jabbed at a Poke Ball on Brock's belt instead, recalling itself.
Dawn marched over to the Tyranitar's stunned trainer, glaring daggers at him.
"What's wrong with you?" she shouted. "Can't you even control your Pokemon?"
"I don't know how it happened," the trainer protested. "I found a Meowth in the forest that had been hurt real bad. I caught it and asked Tyranitar to bring it here. It didn't want to, but it took it here anyways. As soon as I came in, it just started to attack me!"
"That still doesn't explain why you can't control your Pokemon!" Dawn yelled. "Just look at all of the damage it's done!" She gestured around the ruined reception area; the desk was broken in half, and the damaged computer was sparking menacingly. There were scorch marks on the walls, and the floor was ripped open, revealing dirt and rock from when the Tyranitar had used Stone Edge. There were even a few cracks in the wall from when Nurse Joy had been slammed into the wall.
"What kind of trainer are you?" she screamed, working herself into a real fury.
"Dawn, that's enough," Ash snapped. She stopped her tirade, surprised at the harshness of his tone. Then she glared at him and vented some of her fury out on him too.
"No, it's not enough!" she burst out. "You don't even know what you're talking about, you've never had a Pokemon ignore you before! I have with Buizel, but I learned how to control it after a couple of days; this thing evolved into Tyranitar and it still doesn't listen. The trainer doesn't have an excuse for-"
"The trainer has every excuse!" Ash retaliated angrily. "When a Pokemon evolves it's personality changes. It can go from respecting it's trainer to hating it's trainer in a matter of minutes! That isn't the trainer's fault."
"How would you know?" she yelled. "You've never been in that situation! You've never had a Pokemon hate you! If the Pokemon suddenly hates the trainer, then it must be because of what that trainer did to the Pokemon before it evolved."
"Charizard!" Ash yelled, throwing his Poke Ball. The fire-type roared as it appeared, looking for it's opponent. "Use Flamethrower on the hole in the floor!" Ash ordered. Charizard blinked in confusion but followed his directions without question.
"Now use Steel Wing on that plant to slice off a twig for Sceptile to use!" Ash told it. Again, Charizard was confused but he used the attack readily. "Good," Ash said. "Thank you, Charizard." He turned to Dawn.
"What does that have to-" Dawn began, but Ash interrupted her.
"I caught a Charmander that had been abandoned by it's original trainer. As time passed Charmander got stronger, and we became incredibly close. When my Charmander evolved into Charmeleon, it wouldn't do anything I asked," he said. "It got even worse when it evolved into Charizard. I treated it as well as I could, but for some reason it just suddenly hated me. I lost in the Indigo League because of it, and it even let Team Rocket kidnap Pikachu just because it was hungry!" Charizard looked uneasily down at the ground, scuffing it's feet. Dawn stood there with her mouth open, her face reddening in embarrasement.
"I know exactly what this trainer is going through because it's happened to me too," Ash continued. "It's happened three times in fact, and one of the other two was Pikachu!" He looked sideways at the Tyranitar's trainer. "The trainer can't be blamed if the Pokemon suddenly hates it; but the trainer does have to realize that it's their responsibility to get the Pokemon to trust them." The trainer took this as his cue. He stood up and proffered a hand to Ash.
"Good to see you again, Ash," he said. "I haven't seen you since we were both in the Whirl Islands."
"Hello, Ritchie," Ash said unsmilingly.
So this chapter had a freaked-out Rey, Croagunk, a history lesson, Croagunk, Ritchie, and Croagunk. Not too bad for one chapter I guess. How many of you realized that the mystery trainer in Chapter 11 was Ritchie? And I wonder what Cyas is...
To make up for the long delays, I'll update now while I can; enjoy the previous chapter, this chapter, and the next (even though its a triple post)!
Chapter 20: Recapture
400 years ago...
The man stared at the cowering peasant that lay in front of him with his forehead touching the ground. Pure anger shone from his eyes as he looked disdainfully down. His guards on either side both shifted nervously as they felt his dark aura pulsing. It had not been long since their king came to power, but already the evil that corrupted his heart was beginning to lay claim over the castle courtyard.
"Rise," the king commanded, his voice filled with menace. Trembling, the peasant slowly stood, looking into his lord's eyes. Any hope of forgiveness was vanquished the moment that he stared into those soulless orbs. The king smashed the back of his hand against the peasant's face, his bejewelled fingers scoring deeply against the flesh. The peasant reeled momentarily but kept his position.
"Please, my Lord..." he whispered. "Please... I have done my best..."
"You have done nothing but fail," the king snapped. "Your time here is over. Guard!" The man on the left snapped to attention and saluted the king. "Take him to the Stark Pit!" the king commanded. The guard paled, but he saluted again and dragged the stunned peasant away.
The king swept around and walked back to his throne. Settling himself imperiously upon it, he glared majestically down at his court. Not one of them managed to suppress a shudder as his eyes swept over them. Seeing them flinch, the king grinned to himself. As it should be, he thought.
"What news of the war?" he asked casually.
"My Lord," one man said, stepping forwards. "I bring news from the north. Cameron Castle was successfully defended by the Kentou forces."
"Damn them!" the king gritted, smashing a fist onto his chair arm.
"The Gotou army and the Kentou forces both surrendered to each other. The word is that a Ho-Oh passed over the battle, spreading a light as it passed that prevented both armies from continuing the battle."
"HO-OH!" the king roared, leaping from his seat. He strode forwards, grabbing the hapless man by the neck of his tunic. "Are you sure that it was Ho-Oh?"
"My Lord, I can only report what others have t-"
"Was it a Ho-Oh or wasn't it?" the king shrieked.
"It was, my Lord," the man gasped. The king dropped the man and paced angrily across the room, muttering darkly to himself.
"Ho-Oh again. It always appears to destroy my plans, the moment when they are about to come to fruition. No, this is the last straw! I will not take this anymore!" He whirled and the court fell back as they felt his evil spirit seem to flow across them.
"I want Ho-Oh found and captured!" he ordered. "Bring it back here, and we shall see just how powerful it is. Ho-Oh will regret the day that it crossed the king of Pokelantis!"
Paul peered through the thick brush of Petalburg Forest, trying to spot a sign of his quarry.
"Come here Celebi," he hissed quietly as he spotted a shadow moving slowly along the forest floor. He smiled as he realized that there was no Pokemon on the ground; this could be either a flying-type... or a Celebi. Without taking his eyes off of the shadow, he reached down to his belt and drew out a ball.
"Paul, just what's the big idea?" James demanded as he came crashing through the underbrush. "I asked you if we could have a quick break five minutes ago and you said no, but now you're just sitting in the bushes!"
"Idiot!" Paul roared as he bolted towards the shadow.
"Wheee," the surprised Wheezing moaned as it turned to see the angry Paul charging right at it with James following close behind. The moment that he caught a glimpse of the Pokemon, Paul threw the ball in reflex. It smashed into the Wheezing, enveloping the poison-type in red light. The light shattered and the ball rolled away, coming to rest at Paul's feet.
Paul looked down at the Poke Ball, feeling simultaneously furious and relieved; furious that he had accidentally grabbed a regular Poke Ball instead of the Dark Ball, and relieved that he hadn't wasted his only Dark Ball on the Wheezing. He snorted as he stooped and picked up the Poke Ball, looking at the Wheezing in distaste.
"Only a Wheezing... what a waste," he muttered, turning away. "Come on, James."
"Sure," James said, following Paul slowly but looking over his shoulder at the Pokemon.
"Wheezing whee," the Pokemon called, floating after them. James stopped moving and Paul turned in frustration. He was stunned at what he saw. The Wheezing had approached James and actually appeared to be trying to hug him with it's gaseous body, tears streaming from its four eyes.
"I... I don't believe it," James whispered.
"James, move it," Paul repeated impatiently, but the blue-haired trainer didn't seem to hear. Gritting his teeth in frustration, Paul walked over the grabbed James by the arm. "Leave it. You saw what happened, my Poke Ball bounced right off. It belongs to someone else and can't be captured. My father may be the head of Team Rocket, but I don't steal other people's Pokemon. Now let's go, we have a Celebi to catch."
"But," James began. Paul's temper snapped.
"But nothing!" he roared, spraying James with flecks of spit. "It can't be captured. You want to see the Poke Ball fail again? Watch!" He snatched a random Poke Ball from James's belt and threw it hard at the Wheezing. The ball made contact and a red glow spread over the poison-type. The Wheezing was called inside and the ball bounced back to James. Paul stood rooted.
"What just happened?" he asked quietly.
"Wheezing," James whispered, his eyes shining. "Wheezing, it is you!"
"Oish! Ready for the conference, Ash?" Greta asked with a grin.
"No," Ash replied, rolling his eyes.
"Hey, don't let Tucker hear that! He'll try to answer every question himself," Greta laughed.
"I wouldn't mind that," Ash muttered.
"Oh, I doubt that very much," Cynthia said calmly, striding towards them.
"Cynthia!" Ash yelped in surprise.
"Good to see you, too," Cynthia grinned. "Now look, I know that you really don't want to do this interview, but the press won't leave you alone until you do it. At least here the Frontier Brains and I will be able to do it with you."
"She's right, oish!" Greta agreed. "Now come on, the press is waiting."
"Where are the other Brains?" Ash asked.
"They're already in the conference room," Cynthia answered. "All of your travelling companions are with the public, behind the press."
"I guess we should go then, huh?" Ash asked, looking at Pikachu who was perched on his shoulder as usual.
"Pika," Pikachu agreed, nodding his head.
Cynthia smiled at the pair and then moved to the side to let Greta through. The Champion followed the Arena Tycoon, and Ash fell in step behind them. He blinked as dozens of bright lights suddenly flashed in front of him, and the accompanying clamour of voices each trying to make themselves heard made his ears hurt. He turned his head away slightly and followed Cynthia to his chair. He sat down with Cynthia on his left, and he looked to see Anabel on his right.
"Good to see you again, Ash," Anabel smiled, patting his arm. "I heard about that battle in the Pok-"
She was interrupted by a relative flurry of flashes; Ash groaned inwardly as he saw the reporters in the very front row pushing forwards, taking seemingly endless amounts of pictures, and all trying to make their question the one that was heard. Just behind them Ash saw the second row of reporters shaking their heads disapprovingly at the ones in front. "Paparazzi, lowest of the low," Ash lip-read one of them muttering as they looked down at their notes.
"Ketchum! What is your relationship with Salon Maiden Anabel?" one of the paparazzi yelled.
"Mr. Ketchum, how long has this been going on?" another shouted.
"Mr Ketchum! Mr. Ketchum!" more clamoured. Ash sat there dumbfounded, Anabel clearly embarrassed, neither of them knowing what to do or say until...
"CHUUU!" Pikachu roared, a massive burst of electricity erupting skywards, where it hit the roof and dissipated. The paparazzi were silenced immediately.
"Yes, well," Brandon coughed, leaning into his microphone. "This conference has been called to deal with any and all questions that the press has regarding the events of the battle that was interrupted, and only this event." He glared at the paparazzi and even the most defiant were cowed, although several still wrote quickly in their notebooks.
"Ash and Cynthia will answer any questions that you direct towards them, as shall the Frontier Brains. At the conclusion of this conference, neither Ash, Cynthia, nor any other involved party expects to be questioned about the matter any further. Now, without further ado, I would like to call forwards our moderator, for lack of a better term. Dome Ace Tucker, if you please?"
"Thank you, Brandon," Tucker grinned as he leapt forwards. He paused for emphasis and the audience leaned in expectantly. "Any questions?" he asked and the audience sagged with disappointment, having expected him to make some sort of shocking and sweeping statement.
"Mr. Ketchum, we all saw your first few Pokemon choices; what others had you selected for the battle?" one woman asked, taking advantage of the lull.
"That's not something I can answer," Ash said. "I'm sure you can understand, since my opponent is sitting next to me. When we schedule a rematch, you'll see what they were."
"Do you plan on using the same Pokemon?" a man asked.
"That depends on how we do the battle," Ash answered. "If it's a fresh start then probably not. If we just go from where we left off when we were interrupted, then yes I'll use the same Pokemon."
"Cynthia, same question?" the man asked.
"My answer is the same as Ash's," Cynthia responded.
"What's your opinion on how you were faring in the battle?" a woman asked Cynthia, who shrugged.
"Every battle creates different situations," she said evasively. "Ash certainly had the upper hand at one point, but several of his Pokemon had been badly hurt. I don't want to sound vain, but it probably wouldn't have taken much effort from a fresh Pokemon to knock each of those out to even the battle score."
"Ash, what will happen to the Battle Colosseum?" another woman asked.
"As a Frontier Brain, I really hope that it'll be rebuilt," Ash answered. "I'd like it if the rematch could be held there too, but that all depends on how quickly it gets rebuilt."
"What are you going to do in the meantime?" a newspaper reporter asked.
"I'll be training with my Pokemon in the field," Ash answered.
"Where?" one paparazzi demanded. Ash eyed him.
"Anywhere that isn't close to a member of the paparazzi," he said coldly. Several newspaper and television reporters laughed appreciatively.
"What's your relationship with Anabel?" the paparazzi pressed.
"This is not relevant to the conference," Lucy interjected.
"It's relevant if I say it is," the paparazzi snapped insolently. "Well?" he demanded aggressively. Without bothering to respond, Ash lightly threw two Poke Balls into the air. In twin bursts of light, Gallade appeared alongside a tall simian that was wreathed in flames and appeared to be dressed in war paint; Infernape. Without waiting for a command from Ash, they both headed towards the paparazzi member, grabbed him by the arms, and dragged the struggling busybody from the tent.
"Any more questions?" Ash asked calmly.
Paul gritted his teeth and threw his Poketch to the ground in fury.
"That... pompous... arrogant... son of a..." he ranted. James watched in surprise.
Moments ago, Paul had gotten a call from his father (James had ducked out of the video screen's sight as a precaution). Paul had spoken briefly and then tuned in to a wireless TV channel that was broadcasting the twerp's press conference, live. Watching it, James thought that the twerp had handled himself maturely; apparently Paul thought differently.
"What's the big deal about the twerp?" James asked. "Why do you hate him so much?"
"Because he's WEAK!" Paul shouted angrily. "Someone like him should never have gotten where he is today! I beat him every time we ever battled! Every time! And then he manages to beat me once, and the press are all over him and he's hailed as some sort of 'master'." He roared and smashed his fist into a nearby tree angrily. Dislodged by the impact, a light green stone fell from the branches and landed at his feet.
"What's that?" James asked curiously as he looked at the stone, noticing that it was a perfect rectangle.
"I- I don't know," Paul answered as he stared down at it. The stone was fairly large, about two feet long and over an inch thick. He reached down and picked it up, wiping off some moss that had grown over the surface. "The rightful bearer of a Plate draws from the Plate it holds," he read aloud. He snorted and dropped it, trudging off again.
"Come on, James," he said. "We've still got a Celebi to find and catch." James hesitated for a moment before picking up the plate. He was surprised at how light it was considering it's size. He tucked it under his shirt and ran off after Paul.
I hope that you all enjoy this chapter, my last update on here for today; I think it's my favourite so far (but not because of the Advanceshipping at the end)
Chapter 21: Beginning
His eyes snapped open. They roved around the room, taking in the clean stainless steel surfaces and the comfy beds of varying sizes. He sniffed the air in trepidation and scented disinfectant. A Pokemon Centre, he realized.
He sat up and swooned almost immediately as waves of dizziness and nausea crashed through his brain. "Ouch," he moaned as ripples of pain shot through his body.
"So, you're finally awake," he heard a voice say. He turned and saw who had spoken; a trainer dressed in the most ludicrous green outfit that he had ever seen.
"How long have I been out?" he asked the trainer. The trainer jerked back in surprise.
"You can talk! Wow, I can't believe it, a talking Meowth!"
Meowth glared at the trainer. "Hey! Maybe I kin talk, but dat don't mean I like bein' ignored! Who are you, and how'd I get here?"
"My name's Ritchie," the trainer answered. "I was walking through Viridian Forest when I found you. You were out cold and really badly hurt. You were alone, so I thought maybe a Fearow had attacked you or something and your pack had abandoned you. The only way I could get you here on time was by capturing you." Meowth's eyes widened in horror.
"You... you caught me?" he asked faintly. Ritchie nodded.
"Yeah, and my Tyranitar brought you here."
"No way, nuh-uh, I ain't no Pokee-ball Pokemon!" Meowth snapped. "You gotta let me go!"
"Let you go?" Ritchie asked, completely taken aback. "Why would I do that? You could be a great member of my team; maybe you'll even evolve into a Persian!"
"I ain't ever evolvin'," Meowth shrieked. He broke down into tears. "What'll Jessie n' James do widout me? I can't be a Pokee-ball Pokemon, I can't!"
"Jessie and James?" Ritchie said slowly, screwing up his face in concentration. "Wait, I remember some people with those names. They were from Team Rocket and tried to capture a Lugia. And..." his voice trailed off and he looked at Meowth with a hard expression. "And they had a talking Meowth," he finished.
"Dat would be me," Meowth glared back. "We didn' even want dat Lugia, we just didn' want Cassidy n' Botch ta steal it foist."
"Well that settles it," Ritchie declared. "There's no way that I'm going to release you. Not until I teach you how to be good, anyways."
"Dat's inhuman!" Meowth shouted angrily.
"Good thing you're a Pokemon, then," Ritchie said bluntly. He raised a Poke Ball.
"Don't you dare," Meowth warned.
"Meowth, return!" Ritchie commanded, pressing the button in the centre. A red beam of light shot out from the ball and collided with Meowth. He screamed as the paralysing effects of the beam enveloped him and he was drawn back into the Poke Ball.
Ritchie lowered his arm and stared at the Poke Ball clasped in his hand. He felt sick inside, and his heart was pounding. He delicately lowered himself into a nearby chair, never once taking his eyes off of Meowth's ball. What have I done? he wondered. Is... is this why Cruz refuses to listen to me, why it attacks me? What right do I have to keep a creature captive if it wants to be free?
He shuddered, but placed the Poke Ball on his belt. Even though Meowth clearly didn't want to be a part of his team, he would work with the Pokemon until he came to accept Ritchie as his trainer. He knew that all of those years in Team Rocket must have corrupted the Pokemon somehow, but he felt confident that he could reach the good in it's heart. He'd start in Pewter City.
Ash stepped outside of the conference building and took several deep breaths. He felt distinctly glad that he'd asked Gallade and Infernape to remove anybody who was causing a problem at the conference, but he felt a little ashamed too. Did he really have to resort to using his Pokemon as bodyguards?
"Ash?" he heard someone ask. He turned and saw Anabel standing at the doorway uncertainly.
"Oh, hey Anabel," he said. "Man, those paparazzi really get annoying, huh?"
"Tell me about it," Anabel said, shaking her head ruefully. "It didn't stop when the conference ended either. All of the paparazzi surrounded me the second that you left and started asking me the most ridiculous questions you can answer." Ash shook his head in disgust.
"I guess some people have nothing better to do than spin lies about other people's lives," he said bitterly. "All my life I've wanted to be a Pokemon Master. I've caught, trained, and become friends with my Pokemon, all just to follow my dream." He gestured back in the direction of the conference room. "My dream never involved that."
"There are always a few hurdles in our paths," Anabel said. "Being a Frontier Brain doesn't get you as much publicity as a League Champion, or even a Gym Leader if you consider Juan, but there's enough of it to make your life stressful. We all handle it in different ways. Tucker can't get enough of the media attention, that's why he asked Scott to build the Battle Dome in a city. But on the other hand there's me, and I just can't stand the publicity. That's why I built the Battle Tower as far into the wilderness as you can get."
"You prefer the wild to civilization?" Ash asked mischievously. Anabel smiled impishly.
"Maybe, but I'm not a total outcast! I just prefer the quiet of the forest."
"I hear that," Ash said quietly. He looked around at the sight of Viridian City in distaste. The air seemed to cling to the skin and felt gritty, not fresh. Several pieces of litter dotted the area; as he watched, a passing teenager threw a half-empty water bottle carelessly at a garbage can. It clanged off the side and rolled to a halt at Ash's feet. He watched as the clear liquid seeped out onto the pavement and turned a deep shade of brown as it collected all of the grime stuck to the street.
"Give me a forest or a field any day," he muttered.
"Now that you've spoken to the press, where are you planning on going?" Anabel asked.
"Vermillion City, I think," Ash said. "Brock's brother, Forrest, is there training at the moment, and I think that Rey wants to have a practice battle with him. After that we can catch a Vermillion ferry to Canalave City in Sinnoh. How about you?"
"Oh, I was just going to head home to the Battle Tower," Anabel said softly. Ash looked at her curiously. She seemed almost disappointed about something, but he couldn't think why. "You know," Anabel began, "Tohjo Falls actually runs north to the ocean. There's a little port town up there that almost nobody has heard of, and it's a quick ferry ride from there to Canalave. It'll probably save you quite a bit of time since you won't have to circle Kanto, and it's really untamed wilderness up there with lots of strong wild Pokemon."
"Thanks Anabel," Ash said, "but I think I'm still going to go to Vermillion City."
Anabel looked at him, crestfallen. Her heart pounded, but she didn't know what else she could say to try and change his mind. She would never admit it out loud but she really did care about Ash, in a deeper way than mere friendship. She knew that several people including Brandon (and probably half the planet now that the paparazzi had gotten involved) had guessed her feelings, but she did her best to keep them under wraps.
Ash looked at her carefully. Although she had never said anything, he had long ago guessed her true feelings. He knew that she couldn't help it, and inwardly he admired her ability to hide how she felt. Of all the Frontier Brains, Anabel was the one he felt closest to. And maybe, in an alternate timeline, he'd have felt something more for her than he did, but...
But he loved May. It had taken him several years to realize it, but now that he had he couldn't stop thinking about her. He wanted to be with her, not Anabel. He knew that it would destroy Anabel if he openly mentioned this to her, so he had tried to keep some distance between them recently.
Too much distance, he realized. I haven't spent any time with Anabel for a couple of months. I could blame that on all of the training, but it's no excuse to shun her. Heck, I've been with Scott more often than Anabel, and he's been in Johto for two months now. He looked down at the ground uncomfortably. Anabel spent a lot of time at the Battle Tower, but the Battle Frontier didn't exactly get a lot of challengers despite it's prestige. Most trainers were too obsessed with the more famous regional leagues to spend any time challenging other championships. She must get really lonely out there, he realized, and he felt even more ashamed.
He knew that Anabel considered him one of her closest friends, more so than any of the other Frontier Brains. He also knew that it was probably all down to an age difference, since the other five Frontier Brains were all at least ten years older than Anabel. It's more than that, he thought. I don't have any issues connecting with the other Brains, but Anabel does. He sighed. It was all down to personality; where he was outgoing, she was introverted. She couldn't connect to the others because she was just too shy with the age difference.
She doesn't have many friends, and one of the only ones that she does has been shunning her. I feel so angry with myself because of that. Keeping a safe distance is one thing, but ignoring altogether... He looked up at Anabel. She was staring at a fixed point in the distance unblinkingly. Ash felt sure that she was holding back tears. It would make her so happy if we just spent one night at the Battle Tower, he thought. I can't deny her that.
"Tell you what," he said, breaking the long silence. "I'm still going to go to Vermillion City, for Brock's and Rey's sake. Plus, there's a friend there that I want to check in on too. But I promise this; once we're done in Vermillion City, we'll come back and go to Tohjo Falls. I just can't resist the chance to see all of those wild Pokemon." Anabel looked at him in surprise.
"Really?" she asked.
"I can't miss the chance to spend some more time with one of my friends, can I?" Ash grinned. Anabel smiled, and Ash realized just how long it had been since he had seen her so happy. Inside, he still felt horrible about his recent treatment to her, but he was glad that he still had the chance to mend any damage he had done.
"At last!" Paul shouted triumphantly, bursting from the shrubbery. The Celebi whirled in surprise. It eyed the lavender-haired trainer in puzzlement. Then it's eyes fell on the black sphere in the trainer's hands; they widened. That ball was all too familiar to Celebi. It turned and made to escape, but Paul was ready.
"Mismagius, Mean Look!" he shouted. The Mismagius emerged from the shadows; Celebi was flying straight for it and had no chance to avoid looking in it's eyes. Twin pupiled purple orbs floated through the air from the Mismagius and sank into Celebi's eyes. The legendary Pokemon desperately tried to teleport away, but to no avail.
"Dark Ball! Go!" Paul barked, throwing the ball at the Celebi. Celebi screamed as the ball made contact and it was sucked inside by a navy light; the ball rolled once and then clicked. Paul then did something very rare for him. He laughed. From the nearby bushes, James shuddered at the sound. He had never heard a laugh sound so cold-hearted and evil before. Still, he had to admit; Paul's strategy of sending out Mismagius ahead of time in anticipation of Celebi trying to escape had worked wonders.
"James!" Paul barked, halting his laughter abruptly.
"Yes?" James asked nervously, moving into the open. Paul's eyes bored into him coldly.
"We're finished here," he said. "It's time to go back to Rocket Headquarters." James paled.
"Will... will the boss let me live?" he asked hesitantly.
"Who knows," Paul said, shrugging uncaringly. "That's for him to decide. I'll put in a word for you, but to be honest, a couple of days work doesn't exactly make up for ten years of incompet-." He paused as his Poketch vibrated in his pocket. Grimacing in annoyance, he fished it out and punched in a few buttons.
"Text message," he muttered as he read the screen. His eyes narrowed and he stuffed the Poketch back into his pocket, along with the Dark Ball. "Right, change of plan," he said, stretching his legs. "We've got a stop to make on the way back."
"Where?" James asked.
"Azalea Town," Paul answered. He set off at a run through the forest. Sighing, James shifted the plate under his shirt so that it rested more comfortably against his stomach, and then followed Paul into the undergrowth.
"So you're telling me that instead of travelling on a luxury cruise ship, we have to struggle through a heck of a lot of untamed wilderness, fighting off all of these wild Pokemon?" May asked, her arms crossed and her foot tapping the ground as she leaned against a wall.
"Uh.. yeah, that's pretty much it," Ash said from his bed with a nervous grin.
"And why exactly do we want to do that?" she asked. Ash sighed and looked around the Pokemon Centre bedroom where Brock, May, Rey, and himself were staying, trying to come up with an answer.
"It's been a long time since I was in the field; and I mean actually out training where there aren't many people. I'm tired of being stuck near cities and being mobbed by the press and hundreds of fans. It won't be any different on the boat than it is here in Viridian."
"At least on the boat you have a shower and a bed," May pointed out. "Besides, what's wrong with training in the forest on the way to Vermillion?"
"It's still too close to the city," Ash said. He paused and tried to think of the best way to word how he was feeling. "It's not... it's not pure enough," he finished.
"Pure enough?" May asked. "What do you mean by that?"
"Vermillion's only a day or two away from Viridian. The route's pretty busy, and you're never far away from all of the city grime, even if you take Diglett's Cave. I want to feel a clean breeze. I want to walk through forests, not parks. I want to see clear streams, not sewer lines." His voice had a pleading note in it, and May sighed relentingly.
"Okay then, Ash, it's fine by me if we go north through Tohjo Falls." Then she smiled. "I can understand how you feel. I love the city, but after spending so much time travelling I just get urges to spend some time away from the cities too."
"Thanks, May," Ash smiled back, giving her a quick hug. There was a shattering sound and Ash and May leapt back, their faces both scarlet. Dawn looked back at them, a broken glass of juice at her feet.
"Oops," she said, beginning to blush. "Umm, sorry... I think I'll just go over here now," she indicated, pointing in the direction of the lobby. Ash groaned and held his head, collapsing back to his bed.
"Brilliant," he muttered. May giggled, and he turned to look at her in exasperation. "What?" he asked.
"Your face,' she grinned. "You look so embarrassed!"
"I'm not surprised," he muttered. "Now Dawn's going to think that there's something going on between us."
"Maybe there is," May said without thinking. A full ten seconds of silence passed in which Ash and May just looked at each other. As she realized what she had said, May's cheeks began to resemble the shade of ripe tomatoes. She felt sure that somebody could have toasted bread on them if they wanted to at that moment.
"Do you... do you really mean that, May?" Ash asked quietly.
"Well... yeah. I wouldn't have said it if I didn't, Ash," she responded.
"Wow, this is kinda awkward now, huh?" he said after another brief silence. May knelt down next to him and looked him in the eyes.
"Only if you make it that way," she said quietly.
Ash gazed into her eyes, losing himself in the deep sapphire pools that radiated light, joy, compassion, and love. He didn't know how it started, or who began it, but when he regained some semblance of organized thought he realized that he and May were locked together in a tight embrace with their eyes closed, their lips glued together, and their tongues on fire.
Happy Boxing Day everyone! It's time to forget the shipping for a moment. After this chapter, I only have three more until I'm caught up with Fanfiction.net and BMGF!
Chapter 22: Loyalty
Jessie grimaced as she stretched, and her back twinged painfully. It always hurt to be blasted off, but the effects from landing had never gone on for this long before. She leaned heavily on a tree for a moment, waiting for the pain to abate.
"Where are James and Meowth?" she muttered. "I've been looking for them for days, but I haven't seen any sign of them at all. And Wobbuffet's still missing too..." She sighed and slumped to the ground, suddenly overwhelmed by a huge sense of loneliness. She felt her eyes begin to prickle, and she struggled to hold in the tears that threatened to break out.
She had the bushes in front of her rustle; she raised her head hopefully and found herself staring into the cold, merciless eyes of Cassidy.
Ritchie trudged through Viridian Forest slowly, staring at the Poke Ball in his hand that contained Meowth. He sighed and threw the Poke Ball upwards, releasing Meowth in a beam of red light.
"It's about time ya let me outta 'dere, twoip," Meowth grumbled, rubbing his eyes.
"Let's get one thing straight," Ritchie said, frowning down at the Pokemon. "I caught you and got you healed. I'm not 'twerp' to you, okay? I'm your trainer, and you'd better show me the respect that I deserve."
"I tink I'm bein' very generous on respect at da moment, considering my predicament," Meowth sniffed. "I got blasted off by a Rayquaza, smashed into a tree, and den captured by some twoip who don't seem to realize that Pokemon have feelings too."
"You were hit by the Rayquaza's Hyper Beam?" Ritchie asked in amazement, remembering when he'd seen the attack on the TV. Meowth's eyes teared up as he relived that frightening moment.
"The twerp's doing really well against Cynthia," James said, watching as Ash and Cynthia both took to the battlefield as the intermission concluded, and completely unaware of the small girl nearby trying to buy a chocolate bar from him.
"I'm not that surprised, considering how many times he's had us to practice on," Jessie said, serving the little girl with a kind smile on her face. Then she turned and smacked James in the back of the head. "We're working so that we can pay back the boss all of the money that we've borrowed in the last ten years," she snarled. "We're here to sell refreshments, not watch a battle!"
"Right," James said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. "Hey Meowth, how much longer do we have to work until we can pay the boss back in full?"
"Coupla months if we keep dis up," Meowth answered. "It'll be a nice surprise for da boss to get all o' dat money back in one go. Maybe he'll even reward us!"
"We're at the bottom of the boss' list," Jessie snorted, handing over a soda to an immensely fat man dressed in a flowery blue shirt. "We'll be lucky if he doesn't lynch us when he sees how much we've owed him all of this time."
"Better get out dose umbrellas, Jim," Meowth said as he felt a drop of rain splatter onto his nose. "We don't want all dat popcorn gettin' soggy."
"Roger that," James said, pulling a small pink and green parasol from his belt that covered the popcorn perfectly. Jessie frowned as the slight drizzle suddenly halted.
"That's weird. Maybe just a sun shower?" she asked as James took the parasol off again.
"Nope, definitely rain!" he responded, hastening to put the parasol back on as the downpour restarted. It stopped again.
"What da heck's goin' on?" Meowth asked, looking quizzically into the sky. Someone nearby screamed, jumping up and pointing towards the far end of Colosseum. A massive yellow beam shot through the sky at a speed that made the air sizzle. Pandemonium erupted, and as the spectators all tried to escape the Colosseum Meowth was knocked through a railing to the level below.
"Meowth!" James shouted, dropping his refreshments and struggling to lower himself down to his friend, Jessie right behind.
"Augh! It's a Rayquaza!" Meowth screamed as the green dragon began to circle the battlefield, firing off a deluge of Hyper Beams.
"I've got you, Meowth!" James shouted as he reached his comrade.
"For a cat, you really don't have much in the way of a sense of balance," Jessie said, shaking her head in relief that her friend was okay.
"Look out!" Meowth screamed to Jessie and James as a Hyper Beam was fired in their direction. They managed a half-turn before it connected with them. There was a dazzling light, a blinding blast of pain, and then nothing.
"Next ting I know, I'm lyin' in a Pokemon Centre wid no friends in sight, and some twoip's tellin' me that I belong to him," Meowth growled. "So excuse me if it don't seem like I'm treatin' you wid any respect!" Ritchie opened his mouth to respond, but a nearby scream broke out first.
"What was that?" he wondered aloud.
"Dat sounded like Jessie!" Meowth said, his fur turning even paler than normal. Without waiting for Ritchie, he ran off in the direction of the sound. Ritchie hesitated for a moment and then followed the Pokemon.
They burst through the bushes at the same time and skidded to a halt, stunned at what they saw. Jessie stood against the tree, shuddering in pain, one arm lacerated deeply. Her Seviper and Skorupi stood in front, desperately trying to protect their trainer from an attacking Houndoom.
"Seviper, Poison Tail! Skorupi, Knock Off!" Jessie shouted. Her Seviper lashed it's glowing tail out at the Houndoom, while the small Skorupi scuttled in close, it's tail raised and gleaming black.
"Fire Spin, Houndoom!" a trainer commanded. Ritchie turned to see a golden-haired woman standing a little way behind the Houndoom. "I hope you enjoy your last moments of life, Jessie," she taunted. Ritchie felt frozen. This woman wasn't battling Jessie; she was trying to kill her.
"Skorupi!" Jessie screamed as the poison-type rolled backwards, burned and completely out of the battle. She knelt by the little Pokemon, holding it tenderly. "You tried your best," she whispered. "Thank you. Seviper, you're all I have left. Use Poison Fang!" Seviper slithered in swiftly towards the Houndoom, fangs extended and gleaming purple.
"Faint Attack," the blonde woman ordered. The Houndoom turned and vanished as Seviper launched itself at the fire-type. Seviper crashed into the ground head-first as the Houndoom reappeared behind it. It jumped towards the dazed poison-type and slashed at it with it's claws. Seviper screamed as it was lifted into the air and thrown into a tree.
"Seviper! No!" Jessie screamed.
"Sehhh," it hissed, struggling to get upright. It collapsed. Jessie quivered as the woman strode forwards and grabbed her by the injured arm. Jessie yelped as she was forced to stand.
"What do you want from me? Why are you attacking me, Cassidy?" she asked helplessly.
"I want you dead," Cassidy growled back. "If I don't kill you, I'll be the one who's killed. And I love life too much to let that happen." Jessie stared into the eyes of her nemesis. Her look grew hard and she spat at Cassidy defiantly.
"Go on then," she taunted, "give it your best shot!"
"Raticate," Cassidy called, sending out the normal-type. "Use Super Fang on her neck."
"Rah?" the Raticate asked in surprise.
"Do it," she hissed, "like I told you earlier."
"Raticate cate," her Raticate refused, shaking it's head from side to side.
"Now!" Cassidy roared. With a look of apology at Jessie the Raticate lunged forwards, mouth opened and the sharp fangs gleaming. Jessie let out a scream and Meowth rushed in towards the leaping Raticate, claws unsheathed.
"Rahhhh," the Raticate screamed as the Fury Swipes connected devastatingly with it's flanks.
"Meowth!" Jessie shouted in surprise.
"Perfect, two for one," Cassidy smirked. Then she turned back to the bushes. "Anytime you want to help me out, Butch," she called. Muttering darkly to himself, her comrade emerged from the bushes. "Houndoom, use Flamethrower on Meowth!" Cassidy commanded. Meowth stood frozen in the face of the powerful attack.
"Sparky, Thunderbolt that Flamethrower away!" Ritchie shouted, throwing his Poke Ball automatically.
"Chaa!" the Pikachu cried, unleashing a quick Thunderbolt that barely managed to deflect the Houndoom's Flamethrower.
"What?" Cassidy whirled in disbelief at Ritchie's appearance.
"I've got the kid," Butch said, stepping in hurriedly, "you take care of those two. Go, Mightyena!" Sparky cringed as the large wolf-like animal materialized, snarling viciously.
"Thunderbolt!" Ritchie ordered.
"Shadow Ball!" Butch countered. Sparky unleashed a series of electrical attacks at the Mightyena. It held it's ground and shot a massive dark ball of energy at the Pikachu. The Shadow Ball crashed into the Thunderbolt and broke through the attack easily, dissipating the electricity on either side. Ritchie gasped in horror as it smashed directly into his Pokemon, knocking it into his arms.
"Sparky," Ritchie whispered, stunned that it had been taken out in only one hit. "Rose, let's go!" he shouted, sending out a Swellow. "Use Wing Attack!"
"Stand your ground!" Butch shouted. The Swellow dove down, wings glowing; they smashed into the Mightyena, knocking it back several steps. Butch smiled ferally. "Payback!" he ordered. With a snarl, the Mightyena lunged forwards, colliding with a surprised Swellow and knocking it to the ground.
"Rose, no!" Ritchie shouted as the Mightyena began clawing viciously at the flying-type. "Return," he called in desperation, unable to bear the sight of the attack anymore. "So that's what Payback looks like," he muttered.
"Payback is a fantastic move," Butch grinned. "It's perfect for a dark-type. It hit's the opponent with twice the usual power if it's already been attacked."
"Payback this!" Ritchie shouted. "Go, Zippo!" In the burst of red light, a massive Charizard appeared, glaring down at Butch and the Mightyena. Butch's grin vanished.
"Flamethrower!" Ritchie ordered, and the Charizard unleashed a barrage of sizzling flames.
"Payback!" Butch shouted. The Mightyena took the attack with difficulty and then sprang at the Charizard, it's eyes glowing viciously.
"Oh no you don't," Ritchie snapped. "Zippo, use Iron Tail!" The Charizard whirled, it's entire tail glowing white save for the flames. It smashed into the Mightyena in mid-air and the Pokemon was sent flying backwards, screaming in pain.
"Return, Mightyena. Cloyster! Go!" Butch shouted. "Use Withdraw, Hydro Pump, and Explosion!"
"Zippo fly in close and use Dragon Claw!" Ritchie ordered.
"Now Cloyster!" Butch called as the Charizard came in close. The Cloyster exploded, sending a powerful burst of frothing water in every direction. The Charizard had no chance.
"Zippo," Ritchie whispered as he recalled his defeated starter. He looked helplessly around the clearing. Butch was recalling his Cloyster, and Meowth and Jessie were cornered against a tree. They were being attacked by the Houndoom and Raticate, as well as a Sableye. There was nothing he could do, nothing except...
It was a slim chance, but it was a chance that he had to take.
"Cruz, I choose you!" he shouted. The Tyranitar emerged in a burst of light, eyed the attack on the Jessie and Meowth with minimal interest, and looked down at the trainer disdainfully.
"Cruz, use Stone Edge!" Ritchie ordered. The Tyranitar yawned and turned away. Ritchie looked up at the Pokemon helplessly and sagged. It was over.
"Houndoom, Bite!" he heard Cassidy order. He turned and saw the Pokemon lunging for Jessie's vulnerable throat. Without thinking, he ran towards the Pokemon and jumped, smashing into it with his shoulder and knocking it away. Reflexively, the Houndoom twisted it's neck and bit deep into Ritchie's shoulder. He screamed in pain as he felt his skin rip and warm blood begin to seep into his clothing. The Houndoom swung around and released Ritchie, sending him crashing to the ground.
Ritchie coughed hoarsely and watched helplessly as the Houndoom approached snarling, jaws wide open. A massive green fist swung from above and smashed into the Houndoom's flank. The fire-type instinctively released a Flamethrower at the source, and Cruz responded with a massive Hyper Beam. The two attacks collided and exploded. While the Houndoom was knocked backwards Cruz stepped in front of Ritchie, absorbing the brunt of the force.
"Cruz," Ritchie whispered gratefully.
"Sableye, Faint Attack on Tyranitar! Raticate, use assurance!" Cassidy yelled. Cruz let out a massive roar that caused everyone to cringe. The Houndoom, Sableye and Raticate all retreated to their Poke Balls, as did Meowth, much to Ritchie's surprise.
Cassidy and Butch took one look at the burning rage in the Tyranitar's eyes and did the only sensible thing they could; they ran. Cruz gave them one last Hyper Beam as a parting shot, causing both of them to soar up into the air with a scream.
The Tyranitar turned to its trainer, and Ritchie flinched in reflex. The Tyranitar halted and looked down at him, and Ritchie forced himself to look into it's eyes. They were full of compassion, contriteness, and loyalty.
"Thank you, Cruz," Ritchie whispered. The Tyranitar gave a surprisingly melodic cry and sat down on a nearby stump.
"Hey kid, listen," he heard Jessie say. "Thanks for helping me, but I need to know; why did Meowth go inside one of your Poke Balls when the Tyranitar used Roar?"
"I'm the Meowth's trainer," he said. Jessie was appalled.
"You caught Meowth?" she reiterated.
"Yes, but... it's not right. I can't keep him as my Pokemon when I never even battled him for that right. I treat my Pokemon as my friends, but this Meowth is more sentient then a lot of humans that I've met." He sighed and shook his head. "I can't keep him. Not when one of his friends is right here, and needs him a hell of a lot more than I ever will." He grabbed Meowth's Poke Ball and tossed it high into the air. In a flash of blue light, Meowth was released. Ritchie stood up, leaning on Tyranitar for support.
"See you around sometime, maybe," he mumbled, beginning to head north again.
"Hey twoip, wait," Meowth called. Ritchie turned and looked back at the Pokemon. "I know I never treated you wid respect, but you did save me. Thanks." Ritchie smiled briefly.
"No problem. Take care of yourselves." He walked away into the bushes, leaving Jessie and Meowth alone in the clearing.
"What was it like being caught?" Jessie asked as she began to walk south, holding her arm awkwardly.
"Trust me, you don' ever wanna be in one o' dem Pokee-balls," Meowth answered.
He awoke. The nightmares, and the pain, were finally subsiding, but he knew it was no longer safe here. In his delusions he had screamed, and he knew that people had heard. He had to move on.
He stood up, shaking a little in his weak state. Taking several deep breaths, he gathered his mind together and concentrated. In a rippling flash of light, he vanished.
And it looks like the reviews have fallen through again...
Chapter 23: Hunter
400 years ago...
"My Lord, I have crafted it," the short, humpbacked man said, bowing reverently before the King of Pokelantis.
"Where is it?" the King demanded, gripping his armrests more tightly. "Better yet, what is it, and how will it work?"
"Forgive me, my Lord, but it shall take time to explain how I created the technology needed for this," the man said, licking dry lips in fear at the insane King's response. The King looked at him impassively for a moment, and then nodded.
"Make it brief," he growled.
"Yes, my Lord," the man said, the relief evident in his eyes. "You know that I recently travelled to the city of Pokemopolis to exchange apprentices. While there, I found out that the smith of Pokemopolis has discovered a way to trap both people and Pokemon within objects!"
"Trap the Pokemon?" the King asked, interest beginning to glitter in his eyes.
"Yes, my Lord. The smith would not tell me how he accomplished this, but he demonstrated it by trapping and releasing an Alakazam within a spoon."
"A spoon?" the King asked, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. "Do you seek to mock me with this lie, smith?"
"No, my Lord, I swear it is no lie!" the smith protested, beginning to perspire.
"What significance could a spoon possibly have?" the King sneered. "No ruler would use an object that can not be construed as powerful!"
"M-my Lord," the smith said hurriedly, "the spoon is the symbol of Alakazam. It could be that by trapping it within a spoon, it heightens the Pokemon's own powers! And if the city were to be attacked and looted, the spoon would remain safe. What warlord would want to claim a spoon as the symbol of his victory? The Pokemon itself would remain safe in case of invasion!"
"Y-e-e-e-e-esss," the King hissed, stroking his chin in thought. "That makes sense..." He suddenly snapped to attention and glowered at the smith, making him recoil. "If the smith of Pokemopolis refused to reveal the technology, how did you obtain it?" he demanded.
"I used my Haunter to hypnotize him, Lord. While under the spell, he revealed to me every detail of the process," the smith answered.
"And you have used this information to craft an object of your own that can trap a Pokemon?" the King asked.
"Yes, my Lord."
"How long will it be trapped for?"
"Until it is released by the bearer, my Lord."
"Where is the object?" the King demanded. The smith turned and beckoned towards the doorway. From it, the smith's new apprentice appeared, carrying a silk-lined tray covered by an elegant blanket. The apprentice bowed once he reached them and knelt, proffering the tray high. The King leaned forwards expectantly as the smith swept off the blanket. His face fell.
"Smith," he growled dangerously.
"Yes, my Lord?" the smith asked.
"Where is the object? I did not ask for two rocks!"
"These rocks are the objects, my Lord," the smith began.
"Rocks," the King repeated.
"Yes, my Lord."
"Why rocks?" the King asked.
"A rock is easily mistaken for another, my Lord. These rocks have been shaped into perfect sphere to distinguish them. If a thief were to look for the objects, he would never suspect a rock, and thus they would be left alone."
"What does the sphere represent?" the King growled. The smith felt himself begin to shake as he heard the danger in the King's voice.
'It represents the world, my Lord," he said, licking dry lips, "and your eventual conquest of it." The King looked at the smith for a long moment. Then he began to laugh. The smith was stunned. He had never heard the King laugh before, not even when he was a child.
"Very good, smith, you have evaded the Stark Pit for now," he chuckled. "Tell me though, why have you brought me two?"
"If my Lord desires a second, or a third, Pokemon captured, he will be ready," the smith answered. The King chuckled again and waved his hand in dismissal. The smith almost tripped over himself in his haste to leave, his apprentice following behind.
The King clicked his fingers and a guard appeared at his side. "Bring me the Claydol," he ordered. The guard nodded and vanished, returning moments later with a Pokemon. The King looked at it momentarily and then picked up one of the two stone spheres. He held it carefully, noted the small square hole at one end and then turned back to the Pokemon.
"You will be a gift for my brother in Whoeen," he said. "Serve him well." He raised the sphere over his head, pointing the hole towards the Pokemon and waited. A light tingle began playing over his fingertips and he closed his eyes expectantly. There was a rushing sound, and when the king opened his eyes the Claydol had vanished. He immediately put his eye to the hole and grinned as he saw a purple energy swirling inside.
"Excellent," he murmured. "Ho-Oh will soon be mine..."
Giovanni marked his page carefully and closed the book, placing it back onto his desk. He turned and looked out of his office window thoughtfully. He had read it several times, and he knew that every word of it was true. One of his undercover agents had discovered Pokemopolis almost a decade ago, and accidentally released the Alakazam from the spoon. A few months ago a team had uncovered what they believed were the ruins of Pokelantis, nearby Pewter City. While exploring its many secret tunnels, they had come across a gigantic hole in the ground that was covered in scorch marks. They had deduced that this must have been the Stark Pit, once home to the legendary Pokemon Heatran. Giovanni grinned.
Heatran was, of course, no longer there. It had long since made it's home in the far north of Sinnoh, before it's capture only a couple of hours ago with a Dark Ball. Mentally he counted off all of the legendaries that they had managed to obtain. Heatran; Uxie; Raikou; Suicune; Regirock; Regice; Registeel; Rayquaza; Zapdos; Articuno; Mesprit; Groudon; and now Celebi thanks to Paul, although it still had to be brought back to HQ. He frowned in thought; he was sure that there was one that he was forgetting... There was a knock at the door.
"Enter," Giovanni called neutrally, still looking out the window. The door opened and closed quietly, but the footsteps that approached his desk radiated confidence.
"I've captured the remaining Sinnoh legendaries," a woman said in a sleek voice that made the hair on Giovanni's neck stand up. He turned slowly and watched impassively as she emptied a small bag of Dark Balls onto his desk.
"All?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. She smirked.
"I have to say that your assignment was unusual," she said. "My clients normally ask me to look for rare Pokemon, not legendaries. And I've never had to capture them with a Poke Ball after petrifying them before."
"I prefer the convenience of a Poke Ball," Giovanni replied coolly. The woman shrugged.
"We all have our preferences," she said. "I must admit though, your collection intrigues me. Why do you want to collect all of the legendary Pokemon?"
"That," Giovanni stated coldly, "is my own business." The woman stared back at him unflinchingly, challenge in her eyes. "You can collect your fee at the front desk," he said, dismissing her. She looked at him disdainfully for a moment, and then turned on her wheels and walked towards the exit.
"Oh, and J," Giovanni added, causing her to pause. "Did you find Latios?"
"The last Latios died in Alto Mare City several years ago," J answered without turning around. "There are none left alive for me to capture."
"I see..." Giovanni sighed, disappointed. "Don't go too far, J. I may need your services again."
"I'm a Pokemon Hunter," she said coldly. "I go where my clients are." She walked out of the room, her head held high, although she was inwardly seething that Giovanni had come out of the confrontation with the advantage.
Giovanni sighed and sat in his chair. [i]So, Latios is gone after all,]/i] he thought dully. Paul was right. This was all for nothing. Damn that Namba for mixing up the tracks of Latios with the last Latias! Damn Annie and Oakley for killing it! He smashed his fist angrily onto the top of his desk. A concealed drawer popped open and hit him in the stomach. He roared and wrenched the drawer out of the desk throwing it across the room where it smashed.
He stood and glared around the room, his chest heaving with rage. A glitter caught his eye from the ruined drawer and he walked over to it curiously. A smile lit his face. "Of course," he muttered as he delicately lifted the object from the wreckage. "I stole this from the President when I took over Silph Co..." He strode quickly back to his desk, jabbing his finger on the intercom button.
"Namba, get up here now!" he roared into the speaker.
James crumpled, shivering, the moment that Wheezing passed over Ilex beach. Paul snorted disdainfully as he leaped gracefully off of the back of his Magnezone, recalling it as he landed.
"Don't tell me that's the first time you've ever had Wheezing fly you around," he said cuttingly.
"Yes, actually," James gasped. "It's the first time I've crossed an ocean by dangling underneath a Pokemon too, and the first time I've ever hung in midair in the middle of a storm above a bunch of whirlpools!" Paul shook his head and began to walk up the beach towards the nearby trees. James struggled to his feet and staggered after him, Wheezing tagging behind.
"Hey, where are you going? Where are we?" he asked.
"Azalea Beach," Paul called back. "To get to Azalea Town we have to pass through the edge of Ilex Forest up ahead."
"And why exactly are we in Azalea Town?" James panted, struggling to catch up.
"Kurt," Paul replied.
Ash and May lagged a little ways behind Brock, Dawn, Pikachu, and Rey as they walked towards Vermillion City. It was early evening, and both of them were feeling a little awkward from revealing their feelings the night before. May looked at Ash, blushed, and quickly turned away. Ash looked at May, tripped, and fell to the ground face-first. Dawn looked back at Ash and May, rolled her eyes, and kept on walking. May sighed and helped an embarrassed Ash to his feet.
"Thanks, May," he muttered, brushing off some dirt.
"You know Ash, you don't have to act different just because we kissed," May said. "You've barely said anything to me all day." Ash looked at her in surprise.
"I thought that you were the one acting different," he said. "I've been waiting for you to say something to me for hours!" May sighed.
"I think we need to work on this a little," she suggested.
"Guys!" Rey shouted from up ahead. "Look, it's Vermillion City!" Ash and May ran up to where Brock, Dawn, Pikachu, and Rey stood waiting at the top of a slight incline. Together, the six of them looked down upon the pristine city, and the glittering bay as it lapped gently against the pure silver beach.
"I'd forgotten how beautiful it was," Rey whispered.
"Pika.." Pikachu agreed, perching on her shoulder. Rey gave a sudden grin and began to run down towards the city.
"Catch me if you can!" she called. "I can't wait to try out that beach!"
"Rey, wait for us!" Brock shouted after her. He began to run after her, followed closely by Ash, May, and Dawn. The run soon turned into a race to see who could reach the city first. Rey began to laugh when she realized that she was well out in front. The laugh turned into a scream of fear as a narrow tyrian beam of light shot down from the sky, impacting the ground just in front of her. The beam began to widen and turn, transforming into a vortex, and a dark shape began to materialize within it.
"Bayleef!" Ash shouted, throwing a Poke Ball and running towards Rey. "Use Razor Leaf!"
"Bayyyy," Bayleef nodded, twirling her head and sending a flurry of viciously-sharp leaves towards the mysterious shape still hidden in the vortex. The figure crouched and extended one arm; the razor leaves hit a thin barrier projected by the arm and shattered into dozens of pieces.
"Vine Whip!" Ash ordered. Bayleef extended her vines and shot them towards the figure, but it twirled it's hand once and the vines circled backwards, slamming into Bayleef instead.
"Bayleef!" Ash shouted as the grass-type was thrust backwards, screaming in pain. "Pikachu, try a Thundershock!" He reached Ray as Pikachu unleased the electric attack and began to drag the seemingly frozen trainer backwards. He gritted his teeth and looked towards the figure as it easily deflected Pikachu's attack and the vortex began to disintegrate. The figure crossed its arms and from within the dying cyclone it's eyes began to glow a neon blue. It suddenly uncrossed both arms, and the vortex burst apart completely.
May, Dawn, and Rey stood immobile as they looked upon the strange creature. Ash, Brock, and Pikachu all gaped at it as it levitated slightly in front of them, taking in it's feline shape, and shuddering as it's cold personality washed over them. It's cape fluttered slightly as a light breeze began to blow towards them.
Ash looked into his cold eyes, and saw them soften slightly with recognition.
So, after all of these years we meet again, the caped figure said telepathically. Ever since you saved my life in Johto you have never been far from my thoughts, and I have often wondered if I would cross your path for a third time.
"Mewtwo..." Ash whispered.
Sorry Advanceshippers, but there is some Contestshipping in this chapter, so I hope that you all remember who Drew is (and Silver too)!
Chapter 24: Theft
May turned in her sleeping bag, her mouth opened slightly in her sleep. She breathed slowly and heavily, her chest rising up and down in a steady motion. From the nearby fire Drew sat watching, his face partially hidden in shadow from the blackness of the night.
He watched her quietly, observing the counters of her body and her slight motions. His gaze lingered for a moment on her soft lips, and he felt a stirring in his chest. He let out a small sigh of pleasure and contentment and lay back on his own sleeping bag, staring upwards at the clear sky.
Tomorrow, they would arrive in Mahogany Town where May was planning to enter the Pokemon Contest being held two days after. He grinned and patted his pants pocket, feeling the ribbon case press into his thigh; he already had his five ribbons, so he didn't need to enter.
I'll tell her after the contest, he decided. After she wins, I'll tell her how much I want to be with her. With a sizzling hiss, the fire burnt itself out and Drew closed his eyes, feeling the comfortable warmth of sleep steal over him. Three days, he thought, the words echoing inside his head. Three days, three days, three days, three...
He awoke, the tears flowing thick and heavy down his face. He sat up, struggling to contain his emotions, but to no avail. The tears continued to leak from his eyes, and eventually he just gave up and let them overcome him.
Those dreams were just memories; memories of a near forgotten time when the difficulties of life seemed no greater than earning that next ribbon. Those times were gone now, and no matter how much he regretted his mistakes, no matter how much he wished that he had chosen differently, no matter how much that he tried to fix what had happened, he knew that those times would never be back. They were little more than dreams, faint traces of the person that he used to be; of the person that he wished he still was. A person who knew success, and friendship.
A person who knew love.
The young Fearow sat despondently on a low branch, barely hidden from view by the foliage. For days now, it had sat there, waiting. The Fearow was still small, barely old and large enough to have left it's nest. Yet now it lived alone, parted from the one who had saved it from certain death. It let out a melancholy croak and shivered against the bark.
When it's trainer had been captured, and his Pokemon seized, only the Fearow had escaped; the Team Rocket grunts had failed to notice the small flying-type hidden in the trees. It had followed them to their base, and had seen it's trainer forced roughly inside. It had not seen him since.
The Fearow's attention was distracted by the sound of shouting coming from the Rocket base. Curious, it poked it's beak through the foliage for a look. A tall, muscular man with long, spiky, steel-grey hair emerged from a door, running hard and panting heavily. Three Team Rocket grunts were hard on his heels, and reaching for their Poke Balls.
Flapping it's little wings, the Fearow emerged from the tree and flew straight towards the four quickly-moving people. The man being pursued saw the quickly-approaching Fearow and let out a yelp of surprise, ducking his head instinctively, and tripping. The Fearow swept past him and took aim at the lead grunt, it's beak beginning to spin. The grunt let out a yell as the Drill Peck connected and he was driven back into his two peers. The Fearow's temper began to rise as it saw the black uniforms emblazoned with the big red 'R', the sign of the ones who had taken away it's master.
It let out an enraged squawk of anger and began to launch a series of sharp and well-placed Pecks at the three Rocket Grunts. They yelled in pain at the assault, and began to beat a hasty retreat. Silver climbed to his feet and proffered an arm to the flying-type.
"Looks like we've got ourselves a common enemy," he said as the Fearow landed on his arm. "What made you hate the Rockets so much?"
"Fee, fearow row fee," the Fearow croaked. Silver raised an eyebrow.
"Sorry to hear that, kid, even though I don't really understand what you were saying. Still, any enemy of the Rockets is a friend of mine!"
"Fee?" the Fearow asked, and Silver's gaze darkened; the Fearow's question was obvious.
"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." He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists angrily, swallowing hard against the rage that threatened to seize control of him. The Fearow croaked sympathetically and Silver jerked his head, coming back to reality.
"We'd better go before some more competent grunts show up," he said. "Lead the way, kid."
"Feee," the Fearow agreed, sweeping it's wings and soaring into the sky. Silver noted it's direction and began to follow, never once taking his eyes off of the Pokemon.
"There's something funny about that bird," he muttered.
The old man made his final careful adjustment and leaned back with a sigh. His arthritic fingers were aching worse than ever, but he had finally completed it; what he knew would be the last Apricorn Ball that he would ever make.
The door smashed open, and Kurt whirled around in surprise. Paul stormed inside, his Magnezone close behind. He slammed the door behind him, and stared at the ancient smith for a moment before walking quickly towards him.
"What?" Kurt managed to get out before Paul grabbed him by the collar and lifted him against the wall. Kurt floundered helplessly against his grip.
"Where is it?" Paul hissed.
"Where's what?" Kurt asked in fear.
"The GS Ball! I know that you have it here somewhere, and that you've been studying it for nine years. Where is it?"
"G-gone," Kurt spluttered, his face beginning to turn purple.
"Where?" Paul roared.
"K-Kanto," Kurt wheezed. "I gave it a young woman who knows Professor Oak. She'd been asked to take it by him. She was supposed to give it to him. She took off on her Pidgeot straight after I gave it to her, I swear!"
"When?" Paul breathed menacingly. "When?"
"Only a couple of days ago," Kurt whispered. Paul relaxed his grip and allowed Kurt to slide to the floor. He turned and began to walk towards the door, pausing only briefly to pocket the Apricorn Ball that Kurt had so lovingly crafted.
"Magnezone, Thunder Wave him," he ordered. Kurt let out a cry as the electrical jolt shook through his system, paralysing his stiff old joints. His eyes watered in pain and shame as Paul and his Pokemon left the house, unable to move even a muscle.
"Why..." he managed to wheeze before the pain became too much and he lapsed into unconsciousness.
As ever, please review. I'm beginning to get discouraged about postingon here again.
I'll put this in a spoiler since i will reviwe your last chapter on ff.net
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
Thanks for the review on that Chapter, Mayziken.
Quite honestly though, I think that this will be my last Final Challenge update here on Serebii. I know that I only update every couple of days, but that's still a long time for people to read this. It's been a full-week and it's still on the full page, so people aren't overlooking it. I'm just not getting the reviews that I need for this story on here. For those who are actually reading and enjoying this, don't worry, I'm not discontinuing it altogether. I will still be updating on Fanfiction.net and BMGF whenever a new chapter is finished. You'll have to look for it on one of those two sites. My username is Matkin22 on both if you decide to do a search for it.
Chapter 25: Presence
''There are several more specimens that I require,'' Giovanni said, looking out of the window at the mountainous landscape before him.
''They are?'' J asked coldly.
''Kyogre, Manaphy, Jirachi, Latias and Deoxys,'' Giovanni responded. ''We've located the positions of all but Latias.'' J raised an eyebrow.
''Impressive,'' she said sleekly. ''However did you manage to do that?''
''Kyogre is currently nearby the Sea Temp-''
''A myth,'' J interrupted, waving a hand dismissively.
''A fact,'' Giovanni responded coldly, turning to face the tall, slim Pokemon Hunter. ''I've known of the location of the Sea Temple for a long time; we infiltrated the organization of a man known as the Phantom several years ago. He has tried several times now to steal the Temple's riches, but has been defeated each time by the Kyogre, along with many other water Pokemon. The Kyogre now seems to live at the Temple permanently as it's protector.''
''Manaphy?'' J asked.
''Also at the Sea Temple,'' Giovanni responded.
''Why don't I just download the information into your Poketch?'' Giovanni suggested. ''I'm a busy man, and I don't have time to personally tell you every location.'' J glowered at him, but then nodded.
''Oh, and I also require a Soul Dew,'' Giovanni said lightly.
''I don't suppose you'll tell me why?'' J asked dryly. Giovanni smiled, his demeanour turning from jovial to menacing.
''You don't suppose right,'' he said. ''Don't take the whole thing, that will only cause a disaster. All I need is the core.''
''What about my fee?'' she asked.
''After these five Pokemon and the Soul Dew, I will only need Entei, Moltres, Mew, and Ho-Oh,'' Giovanni said. ''Consider your payment double what it was for all of the Sinnoh legendary Pokemon.'' J grinned.
''Deal,'' she said. The door burst open and a Grunt ran in, panting heavily.
''Sir,'' he gasped. ''There's been an incident; Silver's escaped!''
''What the hell is that thing?'' Rey shrieked, regaining her senses at last.
''Oh no...'' Brock muttered, covering his eyes.
Thing? Mewtwo demanded of Rey. Thing? I walk under the same sky, I breathe the same air, I drink the same water as you, and yet you call me a thing? Mewtwo glared at all of them, his personality cold and hostile once more. [i]Humans are all the same, he muttered. They care only for themselves.
''Mewtwo, you know that's not true,'' Ash said. ''You remember what happened in Johto. Not every person in this world is like Team Rocket.''
Those who aren't are too few and far between to bother spending any thoughts on, Mewtwo retorted.
''And just a couple of minutes ago you said 'I have wondered if I would cross your path for a third time','' Ash said softly.
Mewtwo glared at him, but was quickly distracted when he realized that he was in an open field. Why am I here? he demanded suddenly.
''The same as any of us, I guess,'' Brock answered. ''To live.''
If this is your attempt at humour... Mewtwo growled. I meant why am I here in this field? I was supposed to materialize directly in Vermillion City.
''Oh, well, you didn't miss it by much,'' Brock answered, pointing. ''It's just down this hill.''
This is... disquieting, Mewtwo muttered. I know of nothing that can interrupt my teleportation and lead me to land elsewhere. He turned suddenly to May. You, he growled. There is a dark presence overshadowing you; you bear evil's mark.
''M-me?'' May squeaked, trembling as Mewtwo's cold personality washed over her. Mewtwo raised a paw and twisted it slightly. A dark purple aura enveloped his paw and began to glow brightly; May gasped as the same aura surrounded her, causing her to levitate.
''Hey, what are you doing?'' Ash yelled as she soared higher, jumping to try and drag her back down. Mewtwo ignored him, twisting a paw and causing her to rise even higher above the ground.
I can't get it, he growled angrily, more to himself although everyone could hear him. I can feel it but I just can't grasp it!
''Mewtwo!'' Ash shouted. Mewtwo jerked around and glared at him.
[i]What? he demanded.
''Please, bring her down,'' Ash begged. ''She's too high, and she could be hurt if she falls!'' Mewtwo gave one last surge of energy, but when the dark presence refused to be dislodged, he relented, returning May to the ground.
Your presence endangers everyone here, he growled to the coordinator. I don't know what it is that you carry, but only an object crafted from darkness can resist my Psychic powers.
''Hey!'' Ash shouted, stepping in front of May protectively. ''Stop saying that! May is the purest person I know and she would never hurt anyone, let alone put anyone in danger by carrying a dark object! I think all those years of solitude have damaged your mind, clone!''
''Cool it, Ash,'' Brock snapped, jumping in between the two. Ash glared at Mewtwo menacingly, who stared back coldly.
You are indeed unique among humans, and yet unnervingly similar, Mewtwo stated; everyone shuddered at the tone of his words. You do not hesitate risking your life to save others, but at the same time you jeer at those same people with barbed words designed only to hurt. You are wrong; humans are all the same; they care only for their own kind.
His eyes stared into May's, glowing a bright blue for a moment. Don't be so sure of your own assertions, human. She is not so pure as you think. Where she travels, hurt and despair follow. Whether she is willing bearer of her burden, or aware of what harm it causes, I do not know. But she carries evil with her, and it is an evil that is best left hidden again for eternity.
Mewtwo turned and vanished. With his disappearance, May collapsed into Ash's arms, shivering uncontrollably, her eyes wide and staring.
''May,'' Ash whispered softly. As he cradled her gently, a voice flashed through his mind; a voice that he recognized as Mewtwo's.
Whether willing or not, we are irrevocably and eternally linked to one another, he said. I can hear your thoughts just as easily as you can hear mine. Anger does much to alter one's personality; I, of all creatures, understand this most. I know that in your heart you regret your degradation of myself.
Through our link I can sense how much you care for this girl, and I know that it is this caring that sparked your outburst. Such feelings are beyond my comprehension. However you did save my life once, and of all of the creatures on this planet you are the closest there is to a friend. For this I forgive your outburst, although I shall not forget it.
We are permanently linked by our thoughts; we are one, but we are not the same. In times of danger, we have to carry each other. If ever you are in need of my help, simply call for me and I shall come. I know that you shall do the same, friend.
''Mewtwo,'' Ash whispered, his emotions filled with regret, shame, and worry.
Giovanni slammed his hands onto his desk, cracking the wood.
''What do you mean Silver's escaped?'' he demanded.
''Somebody left his cage door open, and he escaped the building,'' the grunt babbled, backing towards the door.
''Now wait just one minute!'' Giovanni roared. ''Why was his cage door open? Who opened it? How did something so big escape without any alarms being raised?'' The grunts face blanked for a moment and then he let out a little laugh of relief; a mistake. Giovanni strode around his desk and grabbed the grunt by the throat, lifting him into the air.
''Now,'' he said in a deceptively calm voice, ''I want you to explain this to me like we're not faced with a potentially critical situation!''
''Wrong Silver...'' the grunt gurgled, slowly beginning to turn blue. ''Hostage... escaped... Fearow helped...'' Giovanni released the gasping grunt, unnervingly calm again.
''Ah, you mean the prisoner,'' he said with a slight smile. ''Send out Grunts, six groups of four. Have them search the perimeter and report back every 90 minutes. Use the Zubat and Golbat to search the trees with their supersonic. Put the stolen Poke Balls under lockdown; we don't need him retrieving his Salamence. Place teams of three at every entrance and exit, and double the security for Namba's lab and the legendary room.''
''Sir!'' the Grunt saluted, running out of the room.
''Impressive,'' J drawled. ''You strangle the man, and he still obeys you without question. That is some impressive loyalty.''
''Are you still here?'' Giovanni demanded. ''I hired you to hunt, not to offer advice! Get after those Pokemon, now!'' J looked at him impassively and then walked towards the window. She stopped at the large pane of glass, and then turned to face the leader of Team Rocket.
''Salamence, Dragon Claw,'' she said calmly, pointing a Poke Ball behind her. The massive dragon-type materialized and shattered the window with one fierce slash. It swooped outside and J followed, jumping lightly onto it's back. ''Silver isn't the only one with a Salamence,'' she said coldly to Giovanni. ''I suggest you keep that in mind; you don't want me as your enemy.''
''Nor you, I,'' he whispered softly as she swooped out of sight, fingering the precious trinket in his suit pocket.
Thanks to the six or seven people who reviewed the first 24 chapters here on Serebii.net. I hope that you will continue to read when I update on Fanfiction.net
As I said I've read all of your chapters up to the point of where you are at on ff.net. The reaseon for me to not review here is due to that and to the fact that these forums have a love for not working when I want it to... >_>
Either way, love your story and I'll continue reading it on ff if you quit updating here. Do know that even if you haven't gotten all that many reviews you still get a lot of hits, when I'm writing this they just passed 1100.
National dex 477/493
Still looking for: Magmarizer/Magmortar, Reaper Cloth, Porygon-Z/Dubious Disc
Things for trade: Zapdos, Groudon, Kyogre, Rayquaza, the Regi's, all starters, most breedable pokes and so on...
FC: 0860 0211 8494
I need the feedback. Without feedback, how can I ever expect to improve? A quick review isn't a big thing to ask for, is it? The trouble is that the majority of readers seem to think that an author will just keep on writing and posting until the story is over. And that's not the case. I, along with many other authors, spend hours pouring everything I have into my stories. People read them, people like them. But when it comes down to an actual review, people don't give them. How can I know what I'm doing right? What I'm doing wrong? How to improve both my story, and myself as an author?
It may sound greedy, deciding not to post here anymore because of the lack of reviews when on Fanfiction I have over 150 just for this one story. But the reason that I posted it on here (and on BMGF) in the first place was to gain as much of an audience as possible, so that I could gain as much feedback as possible. This simply hasn't happened. 1100+ hits is good, I can't deny that. But having so many hits with so few reviews is just disheartening and demoralizing.
Some people seem to think that it's a right that they'll have stories to read. It's not a right at all. Authors spend hours and hours on their works for two very important reasons. They like writing, and they like sharing their stories with the world. My greatest pleasure comes from knowing that I've given others some enjoyment. I have ten responses on 1142 hits here on Serebii. That's 0.8%. It really just all boils down to one thing:
If people can't be bothered to spend five minutes of their time to give me any feedback, why should I waste my time catering to them? An honest, simple, heartfelt review doesn't take a long time to write and post. I don't think five minutes is too much to ask for, when I've spent hours, sometimes days, on every chapter. I don't think it's too much to ask for at all.
I don't think you're greedy, not at all. I fully agree with you when you say that a short review is not much to ask for. I think that the problem people have with reviewing is that they don't really know what to write. At least that is what's holding me back, I mean I could point out spelling errors (which I haven't seen any btw) or discuss the plot. But then again I already know what's going to happen in the next chapter so it would feel wrong to me to either discuss where you are currently at here or discuss where you are on ff.net since you're not that far here either.
^This is not an excuse btw, just trying to explain how I see it.
Either way, I'm just going to give you a few comments on the story thus far.
I love how you have several stories going on at the same time, they always make me want to know what's going to happen next and keeps pulling me back to the story. Also, as a fan of "Plotholes-begone" as I'd call it I can only applaud you for bringing an end to some of the ones from the anime (such as your Rey character, the Rayquaza etc.).
All in all I can see nothing less of an epic story going on here. If I ever take the time to put my own thoughts into words you'd be happy to know (or maybe you won't, I've never written anything before ) that you were one of my big inspirations.
National dex 477/493
Still looking for: Magmarizer/Magmortar, Reaper Cloth, Porygon-Z/Dubious Disc
Things for trade: Zapdos, Groudon, Kyogre, Rayquaza, the Regi's, all starters, most breedable pokes and so on...
FC: 0860 0211 8494
I've done a lot of thinking recently. I know that there are lots of people on here who enjoyed Final Challenge before I decided to discontinue it. And in all honesty, I do understand that most of the people who read it on here also read it on FF.net, and that they do review it on there.
So why should I force them to review it twice?
I feel bad about my previous decision. I don't think it was right to abandon my readers on here; a good author should never do that. You all know my opinions on feedback, as stated above, and my feelings on that stand. But, like Pors said, perhaps the number of hits that I have gotten is feedback enough. And heck, there have been several good reviews on SPPF too. As of this post, over 1400 people have looked at this story, and it has a perfect 5-star rating.
I apologize for abandoning you all. I apologize for my incessant demands for reviews, and I apologize if I alienated any of you through my words, and my actions. Getting reviews isn't what this is about. Enjoying being able to write, and knowing that people enjoy what I write should be enough.
I've given a lot of thought towards what writing means to me recently, and I've realized that my values had changed while writing this story. It used to be about just enjoying the time I spent doing it. But as it progressed, I lost that joy. My values changed, and not for the better.
In the two months since my last update here on SPPF, I've only put up three chapters on FF.net. Why? I'd lost the joy of writing for myself, and didn't want to write anymore. Oh, I kept telling myself that I would start the next chapter soon, but soon never came. I realized a little while ago what I had done, and so I spent some time to look over my priorities.
I still want to write. I don't want to lose the joy that comes with each completed chapter, the pleasure from knowing that I have done my best and the happiness that comes with the knowledge that people like what I have done.
And so, this is my apology. I have failed myself, I have failed my story, and most importantly, I have failed you, my readers. I am genuinely sorry for that.
But even in failure, there can be success. I will tell this story the way it should be told, and I can promise you that I will make it a story worth telling.
Once again, I apologize for my actions, and thank you to all those who will continue to read.
Last edited by Matkin22; 22nd March 2008 at 5:39 AM.
Chapter 26: Defeat
It soared freely through the air. It's long, perfectly streamlined form allowed it to move at speeds that made it almost invisible to humans. As it moved through the skies, it briefly contemplated it's past on the planet. The memories of the burning cold that had encased it for years upon years still hovered in it's mind. Even now, the effects of it's long trip to the planet were felt on it's body. No matter how many hot lands it travelled to, it never truly felt warm. But still... at least now it was free to roam the globe, meeting as many new Pokemon as it possibly could.
It flew through the sky with unrivalled confidence, outstripping the Wailord in the water, the Rapidash on the land, and even the Pidgeot which shared the air. Revelling in it's freedom, the Deoxys let loose a foghorn blast and swooped down towards a small valley in the midst of a mountain range, feeling a hunger in it's belly.
A sudden confusion ran through the Deoxys' body. Drawn unexpectedly to the right, it bypassed the valley and headed for a tall waterfall in the distance. Lances of pain suddenly shot through it's body as it drew closer, but the Pokemon was unable to resist the attraction of the waterfall. Blackness covered it's vision, and the Deoxys dropped swiftly to the ground, losing control of it's speed and direction. Desperately trying to shield itself from the unexpected pain which had overcome it, the Pokemon morphed into it's secure Defense form, but the pain was unavoidable. It crashed heavily to the ground.
It heard hurried footsteps approach, the creature snapping branches without care as it approached. The Deoxys attempted to stand and escape, but it swooned as the pain hit once again; it fell to the ground, completely disoriented. The footsteps halted, and reaching out with it's Psychic nature, the Deoxys realized that the creature was standing only a few feet ago.
Help me, I am in terrible pain, the Deoxys tried to say, but only an unintelligible stream of alien language poured from it's mouth.
"Deoxys, Defense form," it heard a voice say, although it could not understand the human language.
"Do we have one yet?" another asked.
"No," the first replied, "this is our first Deoxys. You radio to base; I'll get it with the Dark Ball."
"Rocket HQ, we have located a distressed Deoxys in its Defense form," the second voice said. "Capturing is underway, and the Pokemon will be relocated to base immediately." There was a burst of static, but the Deoxys heard neither HQ's response, nor the cry of triumph as the Dark Ball was thrown. It heard only the mad thoughts that began to swirl through it's head as pain and confusion took over it's world.
Professor Namba grumbled sourly as he climbed the elegant spiral staircase that led to Giovanni's office. A very frightened Cassidy and Butch followed, seeming shrunken and diminished. No semblance of life existed in their wasted faces. They had failed in their mission; they were as good as dead. Namba glared back at them, his cruel face showing no sign of pity.
"I hope you're satisfied," he growled, stopping in font of an imposing set of double doors. "Since I have to report at the same time as you, I'll be shouted at too! All because of your failure." Cassidy and Butch looked at each incredulously. Did this man care more about whether he was shouted at than two lives? Giving them each one last sour glance, Namba turned and knocked lightly on the doors.
"Enter," Giovanni's cold voice said.
"Sir, you wanted to see me?" Namba asked, pushing open the doors and striding into the room quickly, Cassidy and Butch slinking through before they closed.
"Ah, Professor Namba. Yes, I wanted to clear up a couple of things regarding your research and your schedule," Giovanni said, stroking his Persian delicately. "First off, you successfully mutated the Pokerus to create the Perporus, correct?"
"The Permanent Pokemon Virus? Yes, I did," Namba answered, slightly confused.
"And you injected it into a test Raticate, where the Pokerus effects were permanent?"
"Yes, the Raticate continued to be infected after 24 hours, and all of the Pokerus's effects remained, including its contagiousness. The specimen also responded to all commands given by it's trainer, so we concluded a 100 loyalty rate, which sets it apart from the Pokerus."
"Very good," Giovanni said with a slight smile. "Now, I have one last question to ask. Once a Pokemon has been infected with Pokerus, it can never catch the disease again. Can a Pokemon that has recovered from Pokerus be infected with the Perporus?"
"From our experiments so far, yes," Namba answered, puzzled. "After the test with the Raticate, we tried it with the Rayquaza that Attila and Hun captured. As you know, it was suffering from Pokerus when it went on that rampage that was caught on TV. The Rayquaza showed all of the same signs that the Raticate did." Giovanni stopped stroking his Persian and stood, beckoning Namba forward.
"Earlier today, two of our grunts radioed in to say that they had seen a Deoxys fall from the sky. They located the Pokemon and caught it with a Dark Ball. The Pokemon was heading in this direction when it crashed, and it was suffering from the Perporus."
"But how could they tell? How is it possible?" Namba demanded.
"They could tell from it's reactions," Giovanni said. "Both are part of your lab team, and just happened to be walking through the forest at the time. They were lucky enough to see it crash. As for how it became infected, I had hoped that you would be able to tell me."
"I know of no way for the disease to spread," Namba said, gritting his teeth. "I do not know how it can be caught without direct physical contact. That numbskull Oak does, but I have never been able to steal that part of his research data. The Perporus has never left the lab, and the Deoxys has never been in the lab. There must be some sort of connection between the Deoxys and Rayquaza, but I do not know what it is."
"Investigate it, Namba," Giovanni ordered. "You have both specimens; do whatever it takes short of a potentially deadly surgery to figure it out! The Deoxys was heading directly towards us. If this connection can be discovered, we may not need Hunter J to capture them for us, we can attract them ourselves!"
"I will examine them both," Namba agreed. "If I may ask, what form was the Deoxys in?" he asked.
"It was trying to shield itself from the virus in Defense form," Giovanni replied.
"So we still need three more specimens for our experiment," Namba mused, bowing and walking out of the room. Giovanni sat down with a smile, one hand resting unconsciously on an ancient tome that lay on his desk. His gaze roamed around the room, freezing on Cassidy and Butch as he saw them still standing there nervously.
"Can I help you?" he asked. Butch swallowed before answering.
"Sir, you wanted to see us," he said.
"Cassidy and Butch?" Giovanni asked. They both nodded. "Ah, I seem to remember telling you both that if you failed, you would be killed. Is that correct?"
"Yes, sir," Cassidy whispered almost inaudibly, her red lips barely moving.
"Where are they?" Giovanni asked, spreading his arms. "I don't see them here. Why is that?"
"Because we... we failed in our mission, sir," Butch answered. Giovanni nodded approvingly and leaned forwards.
"You're not trying to excuse what you did; good. Lets discuss your fate."
May glared across the Contest field at a smirking Harley. She only had four ribbons, and needed this win to enter in the Johto Grand Festival. This was the final Contest before the Festival at Mount Silver, and it was a double battle, something May had never truly been comfortable with. To make matters worse, the moment he had learned that she needed this ribbon to qualify, Harley, in his typical nasty fashion had entered it, even though he already had his five ribbons.
She gritted her teeth and stepped forwards as she was announced. She knew that somewhere in the audience, Drew was watching, and at the thought of his name her heart fluttered. "I won't lose," she whispered to herself. Harley gave her a cheerful little wave as he too was announced by the special guest MC, Hoenn's Vivian.
"Get ready," he said with a wink. "I'm going to blow you away."
"In your dreams, Harley," May shot back as the clock started. "Blaziken, Ledian; take the stage!"
"Let's go Octillery, Magcargo, it's time to shine!" Harley called, throwing forward his own two Poke Balls. The four Pokemon materialized simultaneously on the field, each one quickly trying to get comfortable with the layout of the field.
"Blaziken, Fire Spin! Ledian, Silver Wind!" May shouted. A powerful, flaming vortex left Blaziken's maw, and it speed was quickly increased by the Silver Wind which rammed it from behind.
"Too easy," Harley snorted. "Magcargo, stop that Fire Spin with your Lava Plume; Octillery, hit Blaziken with a Wring Out!" A solid stream of fire was aimed at the Fire Spin by Magcargo, halting the attack completely.
The two flames fused and exploded, and through the smoke clouds Octillery charged forwards, taking both Blaziken and Ledian by surprise as it materialized completely unexpectedly. It leapt into the air and wrapped it's tentacles tightly around Blaziken's throat, spinning around the tall fire-type in a perfect U-turn before releasing it's grip and vanishing back into the slowly clearing smoke. Blaziken dropped to it's knees, one clawed hand painfully massaging it's damaged throat. May looked up at the score clock in disbelief, seeing her points drop first from Magcargo's deflection, and again from Octillery's Wring Out.
"Ledian, use Hidden Power on Octillery, and Blaziken, you use Ember on Magcargo," she shouted.
"Octillery, use Octazooka and Magcargo, counter Ember with your own!" Harley ordered. Ledian whirled it's wings at a high speed, forming several green spheres which it then flung at Octillery. The water-type retaliated by shooting several black pellets from it's mouth, deflecting the grass-type Hidden Power back at Blaziken on ricochet. May's starter, still on it's knees, unleashed a barrage of red cinders at Harley's Magcargo, but the attack fizzled out before the counterattack even hit. Blaziken was slammed head-on, first by Magcargo's Ember, and then by the deflected Hidden Power.
"Blaziken!" May screamed, beginning to realize that Octillery's earlier Wring Out had actually done some serious damage to Blaziken and was preventing it from being able to use any fire attacks effectively. That was a good move, she realized. Now I'll have to fight in close, but that won't work well for Ledian. He's forcing me to use two different attack methods. Well, I've still got some moves in store for him!
"Blaziken, Sky Uppercut on Magcargo!" she shouted, and her starter managed to climb to it's knees, although it ran more slowly than usual and breathed harshly.
"Reflect," Harley said with a smirk, and a brilliantly-shining barrier was conjured in front of his fire-type; Blaziken, both fists glowing, smashed directly into the defensive barrier. It bent under the impact but rebounded; Blaziken was thrown backwards, taking on the damage from the Sky Uppercut itself. "Now use Rock Tomb!" Harley ordered and his Magcargo reared up before slamming itself into the ground, causing a massive pillar of rock to enfold May's Pokemon; the powerful fire-type struggled but it was completely trapped and unable to move.
"Octillery, Water Gun on Blaziken!" Harley commanded.
"Ledian, block that with Aerial Ace!" May shouted desperately.
"Knock Ledian away with Yawn, Magcargo!" Harley countered. Octillery shot a powerful burst of water at the helpless Blaziken. Ledian swooped down, streams of air plying around it's speeding form as it smashed directly into the attack, deflecting the damage away from Blaziken. Magcargo yawned powerfully, and a massive bubble floated gently towards Ledian; it never saw the attack through the gush of water, and fell to the ground, sound asleep. With no obstacle in the way the Water Gun regained it's course, smashing straight into the Rock Tomb and Blaziken. It shuddered as the attack sapped it's strength.
"Now, let's finish this up!" Harley said with a grin. "Magcargo, use Overheat!"
"Blaziken, I know you're hurt and that your fire attacks aren't working. But I know that you still have strength left, and I believe in you! Brick Break and then Overheat!" May shouted. Blaziken eyes glowed fiercely as it's body was enveloped in a shining red aura. With a massive effort, it smashed both arms against the sides of the Rock Tomb, breaking free from the attack before jumping high into the air to avoid the Magcargo's attack. It aimed and unleashed a sizzling barrage of intense flames that shone far too brightly for anyone to look at. The attack smashed through the Reflect with ease, destroying it, and hit Magcargo point-blank. Three red X's appeared on the judges scorecard, and Harley's remaining points were halved. He gritted his teeth angrily; now he and May were almost even.
"No matter," Harley muttered as he recalled his exhausted Magcargo. "Octillery has the type-advantage, and Ledian's still sleeping. Octillery, use Fire Blast on Ledian!"
"Ledian, wake up!" May pleaded with her sleeping bug-type as the powerful fire attack bore down on it.
"Leh... leh..." Ledian breathed gently, still asleep on the battlefield.
"Blaziken, Sky Uppercut that Fire Blast now!" she shouted. Blaziken charged forwards, fists glowing again. It swung powerfully at the centre of the attack, smashing straight through. Ledian awoke just in time to see the two attacks collide and explode; the force drove Ledian backwards into the wall, where it collapsed. Blaziken was also thrown backwards, although it was able to stop short of the wall. May and Blaziken both glared through the smoke, trying to see Octillery. It slowly became visible, dancing gently inside of a Protect; it hadn't been damaged from the explosion at all.
"No way," May whispered.
"Blayy," Blaziken groaned, all of the battle damage finally catching up. The red aura faded and it slumped to the ground, completely immobile.
"Blaziken, stand up!" May shouted.
"And Blaziken is unable to battle!" Vivian announced. "That means the winner is Harley! We'll be awarding him momentarily with his incredible sixth ribbon! Folks, this more than qualifies him for the Grand Festival, which will..."
May withdrew both Ledian and Blaziken, her eyes downcast. Only one thought reverberated through her mind. I lost... I didn't qualify... It's over... She began to trudge back to the dressing rooms, pausing to look back only briefly. Harley, holding his new ribbon, caught her eye and winked.
"Better luck next year, hun," he mouthed.
Drew leaned against the doorframe, waiting for May at the entrance to the dressing rooms; he was the only person there, everyone else having left to congratulate Harley on the field. He watched as May's figure approached slowly out of the dim hallway, moving slowly and without any real sense of direction. She stopped in front of him and looked up from the floor, her red-rimmed eyes meeting his.
"I've never lost so badly to him before," she whispered, the tears still streaming down her cheeks. "It's all over; I didn't qualify."
"You know why you lost, don't you?" Drew said. May shook her head wordlessly. Drew sighed, looking away for a moment as he tried to think how to best word how she had lost her disastrous battle.
"You went into that contest to win a ribbon. There was a lot of pressure because it was your last chance to qualify for the Grand Festival this year. But then you found out that Harley was entering too, just to try and stop you from qualifying. So what did you do? You played right into his hands.
"You went into the appeals trying to win a ribbon, but you went into the finals trying to beat Harley. You started off in the right way by combining Fire Spin and Silver Wind, but then Harley blocked both attacks perfectly and countered with that Wring Out. When that happened, you stopped trying to win a ribbon. All that you wanted was revenge for that surprise attack."
"He hurt Blaziken!" May protested. "It could barely breathe, of course I wanted to get him back for that!"
"In a Contest Battle you don't get revenge by trying to overpower the opponent!" Drew shouted. "You get revenge by beating them tactically. Harley didn't break any rules, and you were lucky that Blaziken wasn't taken out in that first attack!" He paused a moment, striving to calm down.
"You didn't battle with your head," he said, more gently. "You battled in desperation, and that stopped you from seeing Harley's game plan. He focused all of his attacks on your Blaziken, because he knows that it's your strongest Pokemon and Ledian is still inexperienced. He double-teamed Blaziken because then it would have been easy to take down Ledian. Why do you think he deflected Hidden Power at Blaziken? Why do you think he trapped Blaziken in a Rock Tomb and then ordered both of his Pokemon to concentrate their attacks on it?"
"I... I didn't realize that," May whispered softly, her eyes staring in recollection of the battle.
"Of course you didn't," Drew said, slightly exasperated. "You battled like it was a regular trainer battle, forgetting that you lose points if your attacks miss or are blocked. You tried to take him down using pure power, not strategy." He chuckled humourlessly. "It's all the fault of Ash and Brock," he said. "Maybe they're your friends, but the last thing a Coordinator needs is to associate with a regular trainer. The battle style are just too different. You got influenced by them too much. You can make your attacks flashy during appeals, but you've never learned how to do that in the battle rounds."
"Ash and Brock are my friends," May said quietly, her face hardening. "I learnt more from them about battling and raising Pokemon than I ever could have on my own. I owe everything that I've done to them."
"Relax," Drew said, holding up both hands. "I wasn't putting them down, I was just saying that you've been influenced by their battle styles so much that it makes it difficult for you to battle in a Contest style. It's not a bad thing because it throws off people you've never battled before. But when it comes down to facing somebody who's seen the way you battle countless times, like Harley, it just makes it easy to take away your points." May sighed.
"You're right," she said, collapsing into despair again. "I've done everything I wnated to avoid by coming to Johto." Drew sighed as he watched her pretty face contort with sadness. He hadn't planned on asking her like this, but...
"May," he said, "I have something really important to say, and I'm not quite sure how to say it."
"What is it?" she asked.
"It's, well..." Feeling suddenly awkward, he reached for the back of his belt, drawing out a beautiful rose. "We've travelled for a long time, and been rivals even longer," he said. "It took me a long to realize it, but I... I've gotten feelings for you."
"Feelings?" May whispered, her heart suddenly pounding.
"Yes," Drew said, his confidence surging when she didn't draw away. "May, I... I love you, and I want you by my side. I want to travel around the world with you, going to new places , and meeting all sorts of people and Pokemon."
He continued talking, but May had stopped listening, her mind wandering. She remembered all of the times when Drew had been there for her; encouraging her Beautifly; warning her about Harley's deceitful ways. In the shadows of her mind, there was a slight stirring of guilt for a trainer who she had travelled with and grown close too, but when Drew clasped her hands between his it vanished.
"May, will you be my girlfriend?" he asked. She thought for a moment, her eyes searching his carefully.
"Yes," she answered, the look of misery from her loss fading into a small smile. "Definitely." Drew grinned widely and embraced her tightly. His heart jittered briefly when he felt her chest squashed against his, but with a massive effort he forced himself not to think about the sensation.
"Thank you, May," he found himself saying. "But now I have some good news for you!"
"Isn't a new boyfriend good news?" May asked with a slight laugh.
"Yeah, but this balances out losing to Harley," Drew said. "There's actually one more contest left. It's in Blackthorn City in two weeks." May stiffened and stepped back from him.
"I thought you said that this was the last contest of the year," she said quietly. Drew shrugged.
"I lied," he said simply.
"Why?" she asked, hurt evident in her face.
"Because," he said, "Soledad is entering the Blackthorn contest, and I figured that you could do without the pressure of having to beat her to enter the Grand Festival. Now come on, let's get out of here. We can ride Flygon to Blackthorn City and be there with lots of time to spare for practice." He stepped forwards, gave her a quick kiss on the lips and then grabbed her by the hand before dragging her towards the building's exit. She didn't resist, not completely aware of what was happening as she tried to sort through the whirlwind of emotions that had assailed her in the last few minutes.
Hunter J stared disdainfully at the green-haired teenager that lay in her way, fast asleep on the path. She snorted slightly and stepped forwards, bending down next to him. She quickly grabbed a Poke Ball from his belt, giving it a quick sniff. Sensing the aroma of a Roselia, she grimaced and dropped the Ball back next to the sleeper. She repeated her motions, leaving the second Ball when she scented Masquerain and pocketing the third when she realized it was an Absol.
"This is too easy," she muttered, reaching for the last Ball on his belt. "I don't even need to use Drapion or my Capturer for this." She froze suddenly when she felt the green-haired teenager move under her touch. Her eyes wandered to his face, and met his narrowed gaze.
"And what exactly are you doing?" Drew asked icily. J grinned at him.
"Stealing your Pokemon, what does it look like?" she retorted. Drew turned quickly, drawing back both his legs and arms before shooting them straight into J's chest. She flew backwards, landing hard on the ground. "Why you..." she growled, climbing swiftly to her feet. "Salamence, let's go!" Drew grinned as her massive dragon-type appeared.
"Finally, a real opponent," he said. "Flygon, I choose you!" The two Pokemon hovered in mid-air, sizing each other up as their trainers did likewise.
"Salamence, Dragonbreath!" J shouted.
"Flygon, counter with Flamethrower!" Drew ordered. Green flames collided with red as the two attacks met and exploded in mid-air.
"Even," J growled, contemplating what attack to use next. She glared at Drew, hatred in her eyes when she saw that the stolen Poke Ball was resting at his feet. He noted her gaze and smiled, retrieving it and pocketing the Pokemon.
"Your move," he said.
"And I thought that Mewtwo had mellowed out after Johto," Brock muttered, sitting in Viridian City Pokemon Centre's bedroom that he and Ash had rented. "I mean, at least his attitude to us was a little warmer after you helped to save him. But now it seems that he's even colder than he was on New Island. I don't get what could have changed."
"All of those years alone, without any contact with other people or Pokemon I guess," Ash shrugged. "I'm guessing that he kept moving around every couple of days to stay undetected. That doesn't exactly give him a lot of time to make friends, or keep those friends. Mewtwo still cares, all of that isolation has just his personality colder."
"I guess so," Brock sighed. "At least he trusts us enough to not remove our memories of New Island again."
"Have you been able to get in touch with Forrest yet?" Ash asked, changing the subject.
"Yeah, he's coming over after he's finished training with Lt. Surge. You know, he's still trying to teach his Raichu those speed attacks that you beat him with. I'm glad that Forrest agreed to help him out with that," Brock answered. He glanced towards the door. "How's May doing?"
"She's still pretty shaken up from meeting Mewtwo. Nurse Joy won't let me in to see her, but at least she keeps on giving me updates."
"I don't understand why she hasn't been taken to a hospital," Brock said, frowning. "I mean, she just collapsed when Mewtwo vanished and she hasn't been properly awake since." Ash grimaced.
"You know how the hospitals work these days," he said. "If there isn't a broken bone or infection they just get a Pokemon to use Heal Bell or Refresh. I just want to know why she collapsed."
"Do you think it has anything to do with that 'dark presence' Mewtwo mentioned?" Brock asked.
"We've both seen 'dark presences' before, Brock," Ash said, shaking his head. "Remember when I was possessed by the King of Pokelantis? I don't know what Mewtwo was talking about, but May definitely doesn't have any 'dark presence'. I think it was something that Mewtwo did to her. But I can't shake the feeling that I've seen her symptoms before."
"Same here," Brock muttered. "I wonder why..."
"I wonder too," Ash said softly, staring out of the window at the bright sun.
Nurse Joy watched May, worry on her face. Underneath the heavy blanket she continued to shiver, her face pale and sweaty. The thermometer beeped and Nurse Joy quickly took it from May's mouth. Her eyes widened when she saw that it was at 105 degrees.
"You're burning up," she said softly, wetting a cloth and placing it on her forehead. May moaned at the contact, shifting slightly under the blanket. "I keep calling the hospitals, but no matter what I tell them they keep saying that they won't accept you. I don't know what else I can do; I'm trained to heal Pokemon, not people."
She sighed and sat down in a chair placed close to the head of the bed, watching May carefully. "I've tried everything I know; Refresh, Softboiled, even an Alakazam's Recover. Nothing's worked, and if the fever doesn't break soon..." She bent her head, tears leaking to the ground. She had never felt so helpless before. "All I can do is try to make you as comfortable as possible if worst comes to worst."
At the far side of the room, completely escaping the notice of the distraught Nurse Joy, something in May's discarded travel pack began to glow...
Chapter 27: Disease
Rey stood stiffly in the trainer's box, her hand clenched so tightly that even her short fingernails drew blood. Her jaw worked vigorously as she tried to figure a way out of the situation. Her Rattata kept dodging the Venomoth's attacks, but it was moving more and more slowly. Across the battlefield, Koga watched her impassively.
"Venomoth, enough," he said abruptly. The Pokemon ceased it's attack and turned to it's trainer expectantly. "Let's go," he said, motioning towards the trick wall.
"Hey... wait a minute! We didn't finish our battle!" Rey protested. Koga stopped, but did not bother to face her.
"This is a four-on-four battle. You are on your third Pokemon, and my first has not been touched by any of your attacks. Now, you are not even issuing any attacks. Your skills don't measure up to the standards of this Pokemon Gym. Our battle is over."
"You can't do that!" Rey shouted. "How can the battle be over? I haven't won or lost!"
"It isn't victory that gives a person the right to a badge," Koga stated. "A Gym Leader has the right to refuse to issue a badge if the victor's skills are not up to a certain standard. A win is just that; a win. The challenger has to demonstrate their abilities to be worthy of badge. You have only demonstrated incompetence."
"That's not true!" Rey shouted, beginning to break down into tears. "I've won five badges!"
"I hope that count does not include the Cascade Badge," Koga said icily. "A Gym Badge demonstrates the skill of the bearer. There is no skill in just having the badge given away."
"They said that all of their Pokemon were being treated at the Pokemon Center!"
"Yet they were able to use those same Pokemon in a performance only a few hours later?" Koga turned and looked at the tearstained face of the girl. "You are not ready to face me," he said softly. "Go away, train hard, and try again another time." He sighed and shook his head. "I expected better from a Pallet trainer," he murmured, walking through the trick wall.
Rey stood, staring at the wall. "Rattata, return," she whispered, as she turned and slowly trudged out of the Gym. Her head bowed in sadness, she looked back at the Fuchsia Gym despondently, at the four walls that had for so long held her dreams of the future. Now, they held only despair. She choked back a sob and ran into the nearby Fuchsia Forest, trying to put as much distance in between her and Koga as was possible.
Branches tore at her face, slapping her cheeks with harsh stinging blows as she pushed her way through them. She breathed harshly through her mouth, her muscles screaming at her to stop and her brain ignoring them. At last she tripped, her feet caught underneath a large root that lay hidden in her path. Halted at last, she finally gave in to her emotions, her chest heaving spasmodically.
She lay there for a long time, accompanied only by the fat tears that dripped slowly onto the bracken below.
The glow from May's pack vanished, completely unnoticed by the distraught Nurse Joy; her hands trembled as the thermometer beeped, indicating that May's body temperature had gone up yet another degree. The sick trainer from Hoenn moaned again, her body shuddering more and more uncontrollably. A small amount of froth began to collect at her mouth, which Nurse Joy tried to wipe away. The soft cloth touched her lips, and May suddenly jerked forwards, her jaws snapping shut on the place where Nurse Joy's wrist had been only moments earlier. She yelped in surprise and jumped backwards.
"What was that for?" she yelled. May simply moaned and collapsed backwards again, shivering and unconscious. Nurse Joy sighed and, keeping a wary eye on May's movements, straightened the blankets. The thermometer beeped again, and Nurse Joy groaned. Her temperature was now 107 degrees, and quickly reaching the body's mortal limit.
"There's nothing left that I can do," she whispered. "The fever just won't go down. I have to let your friends know what's happening. They need to be here to... to say goodbye." Tears began to prickle in her eyes, and she wiped them away quickly.
She stood and went to the door, taking one last look at the dying girl in front of her. She frowned as she saw, for the first time, a lump on May's chest. She went back to the bed quickly, lifting up May's sickbay gown to see what it was. Her eyes widened when she saw that a lumpy grey-green pustule had formed on one of May's breasts.
She carefully reached out and touched it lightly with one finger. May let out a high-pitched scream and began thrashing on the bed. Nurse Joy drew back her finger quickly with a squeal of surprised pain. She instinctively wanted to place the finger in her mouth, but common sense warned her against it. She examined her finger and was surprised to see that it had been burned. As the thermometer beeped again, May collapsed once more, drenched in soaking sheets of sweat. Nurse Joy leant in cautiously for a closer look at the throbbing pustule on her chest.
"What on Earth could that be?" she murmured. She was so engrossed in her examination that she saw never saw May's pack begin to move. Slowly, quietly, the zipper began to open...
Ash glared out the window, his gaze burning across the landscape. Behind him, Brock and Forrest chatted quietly, both realizing that Ash, through his worry for May, had turned into a raw nerve. The sun was slowly crawling down towards the horizon. As the shadows lengthened, Ash's eyes began to burn more and more fiercely.
"I know that I've seen it before," he muttered. "But what? And where? She just collapsed and began to tremble..." Brock looked over at his younger brother and nodded. He walked over to Ash and laid a hand on Ash's shoulder. As he had expected, the trainer jumped.
"Come on Ash, you need to rest. Your eyes are exhausted, and you must be hungry," Brock said. Ash shook his head.
"Do you think I could eat or sleep knowing how sick May is?" he asked.
"It's shock from Mewtwo, Ash," Brock said. "I'm sure of it."
"Well, I'm not!" Ash scowled. "I know that I've seen this before, and I know that's it's a lot more serious than shock, or a cold, or..." He trailed off, his jaw slowly opening. Brock and Forrest looked at each other in concern, but Ash didn't notice. His thoughts whirled as he thought again of May's symptoms and connected them inexplicitly with the image of a deranged Rayquaza firing a Hyper Beam towards a Safeguarded Latias.
"It can't be...!" he breathed, jumping to his feet in anguish.
"Can't be what?" Forrest asked. Ash ignored the question and began to pace instead.
"It's impossible... But it's the only thing that fits. I have to go and check..." He looked up, his eyes clear and focused. "Forrest," he said, turning to the Pewter City Gym Leader, "you get Dawn and Rey and keep them away from the emergency room!"
"Why?" he asked, completely perplexed.
"Just do it!" Ash shouted, running out the door. Forrest looked at his older brother, who sighed and began to follow Ash.
"I'll go after him," he said. "You go tell the girls." With another sigh, Brock left the room and followed after Ash.
The trainer from Pallet ran on through the Pokemon Center, oblivious that both Brock and Pikachu were hot on his heels. Only one thought was on his mind as he hurtled towards the emergency room, towards the dying girl that he loved.
I know what's wrong... I know what's wrong... I can save her...