Shades of Gray.
Morality is often split up into good and evil; white and black. But somewhere in between these two colours is an area of unknown; the gray area. An area where both good and evil exist, locked in a struggle to see which side of the spectrum will gain sole control in a person.
And so whilst Ash Ketchum fights his way through the land of Unova to conquer the league. A group of individuals struggle with what's wrong and right in a world that is never what it seems.
A warm sea breeze swept through the air, coming forth with a roaring gusts, bombarding the ears of all those above the boat with such force that the mighty cries of the Gyarados swimming alongside the boat. A few Pelipper drifted along lazily above the sea, accompanied by a hectic flock of their pre-evolution: Wingull. The tinged white and blue seagull-like Pokémon struggled against the titanic wind.
None of this seemed to faze one young man though: Ash Ketchum. The Kanto-native was leaning on the edge of the crisp white boat. He was completely engrossed in his own thoughts. Deaf to the world around him.
Brown eyes stared out at the crisp blue ocean; a shadow was cast over his tanned face by a red cap that was propped atop his mess of raven-black hair. The cap was primarily red in colour, but had a black circular patch dead in the middle, a white Pokéball symbol standing out against the black. His outfit-still crisp due to it being brand new-overall it was rather basic, but seemed to make him seem more mature. A white, hooded t-shirt hung off his shoulders, with a long black sleeveless vest jacket on top. In addition he wore a pair of baggy navy blue jeans that were held up by a blue belt. His feet were clad in flashy black and white sneakers.
He was resting his head in the palms of his black fingerless-glove covered hands. A yellow mouse like Pokémon, with a lightning bolt shaped tail and red pouches on its cheek and light brown markings covering its back, sat next to him on the railing. Onyx coloured eye also trained on the soft ebb and flow of the ocean waves.
"Pika?" The Pokémon squeaked, tilting his head to the side turning to face his Trainer, who didn't return his Pokémon's gaze. Instead, he kept looking out into the ocean, allowing the seconds to tick by before he finally replied.
"Nothing's wrong, Pikachu," Ash muttered, his eyes never leaving the ocean. "I…I just thought that Sinnoh was our time, y'know…? But in the end, we made it to the semi's, only to fall short, again…" he trailed off. What was too come next, went without saying. I figured that maybe, just maybe we would finally make it… so much for that, I guess.
Pikachu just nodded, staring sadly turning his gaze back to ocean. But it appeared Ash wasn't finished. He placed a hand to his mouth, almost as if trying to stop himself talking. But he soon removed it so he could speak, deciding it would be better to let it all out.
"Everyone did their absolute best," Ash smiled at the victories he and his Pokémon had achieved, one in particular stuck out for him though; "And you and the Sinnoh gang even managed to beat Paul...but, we were beaten in the end by the next guy..." he sighed and turned to Pikachu. "At least now though, we've got another chance over in Unova." But what if we don't, maybe I should face up to the fact that I'm never going to make it past the semi's...
The last sentence was enough to cause Pikachu's ears to perk up and with a yell of Pika it turned to face Ash with a smirk on his own petite features. His mood proved to be infectious as it hit Ash as well, and he couldn't help it as his lips bean to turn upwards into his trademark grin.
"Yeah, I suppose we should do better this time...but what if we don't?" Pikachu didn't bother answering Ash's question. The Electric-type Pokémon had known Ash long enough to know he wasn't asking him; but rather asking himself. So, Pikachu remained silent, letting Ash have time with the memories of the Sinnoh League.
Another sigh came from Ash's lips as he let the images flow through his mind's eye. It felt like only a few hours since those painful memories had taken place. It had all started after he had defeated Conway and found himself up against none other than Paul in the Quarter Finals.
Ash and Paul had been rivals throughout Ash's entire Sinnoh Journey. And when the long awaited match finally rolled around, it was the only match on either boy's agenda. It had started off fast paced and in one of the longest matches of that years Sinnoh League it ended with a photo finish. Ash and his Sinnoh Team had triumphed over Paul, and with glee the Kanto-native had seen Paul even congratulate his Electivire for all its hard work. Unfortunately, the high that Ash received after beating Paul had been taken away from him all to quickly in his next match.
That match had been a catastrophe. Plain and simple. Ash had been drawn against a man by the name of Tobias, and even after using some of his best, readily available Pokémon he and his team had been utterly decimated. In a match that ended six-two, Tobias showed only two of his Pokémon. Both of whom were legendary. Despite defeating Darkrai and drawing with Latios Ash's Pokémon couldn't carry on and he soon found himself and his team knocked out of the league altogether.
Tobias had gone on to win the Sinnoh League, and Ash had carried on losing. That's what it had felt like at the time anyway.
He stopped the flow of the memories, instead looking up at the sky before again looking to Pikachu who could already guess what was coming. The trainer from Pallet glanced up at the clean blue sky and a sigh came from his lips.
"If the league wasn't bad enough, Dawn and Brock leaving only made it worse," he murmured pulling his cap down low over his eyes. He wasn't going to cry, definitely not. He was almost sixteen now, crying had long since lost its reason for happening. But still they'd both left. I lost everything except my Pokémon.
Dawn, had travelled to Hoenn so that she could continue her contest dream and Brock -the only person who'd be with him through practically everything- the one friend who he'd trusted more than anyone else in the word; his best friend. Had left him as well. Why? Well, to follow his own dream of becoming a breeder, apparently an academy had opened somewhere or something. Ash had sort of lost interest in the conversation after finding out his friend was leaving for good.
So Brock had told Ash that he had to go. Faced with losing his friends, Ash had struck out at all sides; in anger, and despair. He hadn't know what else he was suppose to do.
He'd lost all their respect in one fell swoop, and in a childish fit he'd argued and tried to hit out at everything and everyone who came near him. His friends found him training his Pokémon a lot harder than usual and after trying to talk to him about it, he'd yelled at them and told them to get lost.
One heated exchange later and Ash and his friends parted ways. Dawn was shocked at Ash, Brock on the other hand was simply confused. It didn't matter now though, he hadn't bothered trying to contact them again; in fact he hadn't talked to anyone else since that night. Word had probably spread to all his friends and they would no doubt thing less of him because of it; They must all think I'm a childish and pathetic person to get so upset over something so stupid… But in truth, it wasn't stupid. Not to him anyway, his friends mattered more him than anyone besides his mother.
Ash felt something on his shoulder and looked out for under the cap to see Pikachu had jumped up onto his shoulder, and giving his check a gentle nuzzle of comfort, bring a smile to his Trainer's lips. Pikachu's still here for me though.
"Thanks, buddy; I don't know what I'd do without you," he said, causing Pikachu to grin happily. The Kanto-native stood up straight and moved the cap of his hat higher up so that it wasn't right down over his eyes. With a smile to his Pokémon he turned around to look at the rest of the boat.
Many trainers were walking along its varnished wooden floors; some with Pokémon and others without, all of them appeared to be enjoying themselves. Ash's attention was drawn from the Trainers for a couple of seconds. The Electric-type let out a yelp of happiness at the idea of a battle.
But, the ship suddenly lurched. Ash felt the boat begin to rise up and he was sent stumbling forward, crashing into the floor with a cry of surprise. But any pain he might have felt was forgotten as he heard a loud scream of Pika!; immediately he was back on his feet and looking around. Pikachu?
Almost every other trainer who had been on the main deck had been thrown to the floor, and some Pokémon had even gone down as well. Everyone quickly began to clamber to their feet, one or two pointing out something that Ash couldn't see, which was now casting a large shadow over the deck.
A loud laugh could be heard from the stern of the boat and Ash began to run forward to see who or what had stopped the boat. Not to mention find out who or what had captured Pikachu. Behind him he could hear footsteps which meant that soon enough he would be joined by some aid.
Within seconds he had reached the stern of the boat and instantly paled. Some sort of massive robotic Tentacruel was holding the powerful ship in place with its main bulk. And in one of its smaller tentacles was Pikachu. The small Electric-type Pokémon was struggling greatly, his electric type attacks seemingly having no effect on the mechanical sea monster.
Quite by chance, Ash could see a visible difference between this Tentacruel and normal Tentacruel, besides the obvious this was in fact a machine he was staring down. A large red R marked the large dome head of the machine, just above the eyes. Clenching his fist, Ash looked up to the top of the Tentacruel's dome head and grimaced. Three figures stood atop it, each one smiling and laughing along with the others.
The first figure was a man of average height. As he laughed his shoulder length lavender hair shook and a few more strands were dislodged from their place, falling into his emerald green eyes. His outfit followed the usual Team Rocket colour scheme. A white jacket that was too small for him and would have left the lower half of his stomach bare had it not been for a black shirt beneath his jacket. The sleeves of the shirt were covered by black gloves that came down to just above his elbow. On his bottom half he wore a pair of white trousers that were held up by a purple belt. Just like his shirt sleeves, the ends of his trousers were covered by a pair of mid shin length black boots.
Beside him stood a female, roughly around the same height as the male, she had long magenta coloured hair that curled into a single loop behind her back with a sharp point. It was combed out of her sapphire blue eyes and didn't cast any shadows across her pale skin. Her outfit was similar to the males. A white jacket with a large red 'R' on it; her jacket only barely covered her chest and would of exposed more of her skin had she not worn a black shirt underneath. Her thin stomach was left open to the elements and her sleeves were completely covered by shoulder length black gloves. On her bottom half she wore a mid thigh length white skirt and a pair of knee length black boots that left some more of her skin open to the elements.
The third figure stood in front of the other two; a wide grin on its face. It was a Meowth, with its beige coloured skin and long beige and brown coloured tail. It had two whiskers on either side of its face, a large medallion embedded on its forehead and two big black and brown ears. It had four paw's each one able to retract claws in and out. Unlike the rest of its species who normally stood on four legs. This Meowth stood on its two bottom paws. Its sharp white fangs were easily visible as it laughed.
"Team Rocket!" Ash yelled. His fists clenched tight enough to draw blood, if it wasn't for his gloves, as he stared down at them. The yell was enough to draw their attention and with the smirks still on their faces; they began to recite their motto. Not again…
"Listen is that some annoying twerp I hear?" The female called, spinning around with one hand on her hip, the other in the air.
"Why yes, he's speaking loud and clear!" The male replied, also spinning.
"You're out of time!" The female yelled. Her mouth was open wide as she lost herself in the moment.
"We're up in space!"
"How 'bout a cheer!" Meowth added. This is new… Ash though, wondering how long it to come up with this new motto.
"We've got a taste for what's rare!" The female leapt to the side as she said this.
"Stealing to put our name out there!" The male also leapt, but to the opposite side from the female.
"Sending chaos straight to the top!"
"Unless we've won, we'll never stop!"
"Jessie!" The female announced.
"James!" The male yelled.
"Don't forget, Meowth's the name!" Meowth popped up again, now stationed between Jessie and James with a cat-like grin on his face.
"Spreading mayhem far and wide…" Jessie trailed off.
"We're Team Rocket..." James followed suit.
"Now run and hide!" They all cackled as one, causing Ash to step back a bit. He could hear that he had been joined by some help already, but they could wait.
"Team Rocket, what are you doing?" Ash yelled. This act, caused the three Rocket's to look up at him again. Before bursting into another round of maniacal laughter, tossing their heads back in an over-exaggerated fashion.
"It's simple, really, twerp~" Jessie replied with a teasing s****** when the laugher died down, pausing to treat herself one last short cackle.
"Web's finally takin' dat Pikachu." Meowth finished, pressing a red button on one of his classic rectangular remotes as he spoke. Pikachu was soon beside the rocket's completely wrapped in one of the rubber tentacles.
"Urgh…" Ash growled. He hadn't brought any other Pokémon with him, which meant he was defenceless. He'd decided to start completely anew just like normal and now, it had cost him. Couldn't have Team Rocket just waited until he actually reached the Unova region before making their first attempt to steal Pikachu like they usually did?
"Hey, kid. Why not send out another Pokémon to get your Pikachu back?" A voice from behind him asked. Ash spun around to face them and almost walked straight into a rather tall man, good five or more inches on himself. The Pallet Trainer stepped closer to the stern so as to get a better look at who had almost sent him crashing to the floor once again.
The man had short crimson hair that was spiked in all directions; like a small pincushion or hedgehog. A small quiff of hair fell into his face, falling down over his left eye, the two blue orbs that were his eyes were cut like shards of pure ice. He appeared to be about late teens, most like around eighteen years old and had a serious look on his face. His outfit consisted of a short sleeved white t-shirt; the sleeve's and shoulders of which were a blood red colour, and grey cargo pants that had a dark blue stripe running along each leg. He looked familiar... Ash just couldn't pin point where he knew him from.
Finally deciding to reply to the man's question, Ash spoke. "I can't; I only brought Pikachu with me to Unova." I must sound like a complete idiot...
A look of amusement passed over the man's face momentarily but he managed to force it away and instead he turned his head to the side.
"Whadda'ya say, Nath, you wanna help the kid out?" The trainer gestured from Ash to the Tentacruel before turning to look at his friend again.
"Do we have to…?"An emotionless voice replied causing Ash's face to explode with emotion, his right eye giving a nasty twitch.
"Relax; believe it or not emo boy is just trying to crack a joke," the crimson haired trainer said easing Ash's worries.
A couple of seconds later and another male stepped forward, much closer to Ash's own height. This one was younger though and completely different to the crimson haired man. He had a mop of untidy black hair on his head; it covered his ears and framed his face with long black spikes. His fringe was also pulled into black spikes and completely covering his right eye. Like his hair, his eyes were a cold black colour and showed no emotion.
His clothing identified him as some sort of Dark-type trainer. On his top half he wore a black shirt that was tucked into a pair of baggy black jeans that were held up by a black belt. The belt had notches for Pokéballs on it as well as a few other things. His feet were clad in black and white sneakers that were in good condition. But what really completed the look was the long black trench coat that the trainer wore. The coat was made of thick black material, and came with a baggy hood and sleeves. The back bit of the coat came down to his knees and it was currently undone.
As he was stepping forward he pulled on a pair of black fingerless gloves.
Ignoring the comment from the crimson haired trainer he began to speak instead. "I'll retrieve the kid's Pikachu; you can sort out the goons."
"That sounds like a plan," the crimson haired trainer muttered, plucking a Pokéball from his belt. "But for future reference, you're dealing with the goons, it's so much bloody hassle its unreal these days." he just got a grunt in response. "Alright, Kyrie, front and centre!"
The Pokéball burst open in a flash of light and noise. By the time it had all died down, a tall Pokémon stood before Ash. Primarily orange in colour and reminiscent of a dragon; Ash had no effort discerning what Pokémon it was.
"Drrryuuuuu…~!" The Dragonite let out a beautiful, hum-like roar. Spreading her large wings in gratitude she swooped up into the air quickly before returning to her Trainer, an expectant look on her face.
"We have to wait for Nathan first, once he gives us the all clear, we play garbage man and 'mon, cool?" Her Trainer explained calmly a silly grin playing at his lips. Turning and looking towards the black haired Trainer who had just opened his own Pokéball, he gave a quick nod.
Once the light had died down from that, a Shiftry stood beside its trainer a determined look on its face.
"Razul, listen carefully because I'm only going to say this once," Nathan said calmly, turning to his Pokémon. "I want you to use Razor Wind, but instead of hitting it with the loose massive blades, concentrate it. Make it three inches in length and half an inch in width, aim for the tentacle that's holding that Pikachu, afterwards you're going to have to be fast; ride the wind and use Quick Attack to bring back that Pikachu."
"I'm guessing that'll be my cue?" The crimson haired trainer asked, stuffing his hands into his pockets with a causal whistle.
"Yeah... Alright, Razul go!" Nathan commanded. His eyes darted across the would-be battlefield, never stopping to let his eyes linger on anything.
His Pokémon didn't need to be told twice; instead it leapt straight into the air. The Grass-type's eyes were closed as it powered up its attack. It forced itself into a spin and began to steadily get faster, its fan like hands began to glow a brilliant white colour as they built up more and more energy. Once Razul was happy that it had gotten enough power it slashed both arms forward in the direction of the tentacle.
The slash didn't last two long as Razul forced itself to stop and instead channelled all the power into a small concentrated blast. Within seconds the light had gone and instead a small blade of power crashed straight into the tentacle. It sliced it clean in half and then carried on skimming across the water.
Off into the distance an explosion of water could be seen as the attack exploded. But neither Razul nor Nathan paid this any attention. Both were focusing on Pikachu as Razul flapped its arms and propelled itself forward, a white light surrounding its lower half as it charged forward and grabbed hold of Pikachu.
It leapt onto one of the tentacles and pushed off, charging back towards the boat. This was Dexter's cue.
"Kyrie, use Draco Meteor!" Dexter yelled thrusting a hand out in the Tentacruel robot's direction.
The Dragon Pokémon eagerly did as commanded. With a smile on her face, she took to the sky her body already glowing a mythical orange colour as she powered up her attack. The orange glow seemed to congregate in the centre of the Pokémon's chest forming a large ball of orange energy. The orb moved up to Kyrie's mouth and the glow suddenly disappeared leaving the Dragonite with a large orange ball in front of its mouth.
"No... Come on," James yelled in fear as he saw the attack beginning to form. Until now he'd been shell shocked at how easily they had lost Pikachu but fear helped him find his voice.
"J-J-Jess" Meowth stuttered turning towards the female, looking absolutely frantic as he hoped up and down on the spot.
"Someone do something!" Jessie shrieked as Kyrie unleashed the attack.
The Dragon Pokémon fired the attack into the air and within a few seconds it exploded into seven powerful meteors. For a few seconds the meteors lingered there, but then they hurtled towards the Tentacruel robot. An explosion tore through the robot upon the meteors impacting with it and the last thing the three males heard from the three rockets was a cry of some sort, we’re blasting off again!
"Alakazam, use Teleport to get rid of that wreckage so the ship can keep going." A trainer from behind the others ordered; it appeared everyone else had arrived by now.
Who are these guys! Ash's mind was ablaze with wonder and a hint of shock, sure Team Rocket weren't exactly the hardest of opponents but these two had torn them apart with skill and ease. With a grin, Pikachu leapt back to its trainer who smiled. With the Tentacruel gone, the ship began to move and the two trainers turned away.
"Wait, who are you guys?" Ash called causing the crimson haired trainer to turn around.
"We're the A-team." He said seriously, causing the black haired trainer to stop and give him a dig in the arm. But Dexter just ignored him and carried on away, "If you've a problem, and no one else can help then-"
"Shut up you idiot," Nathan muttered with a shake of his head. He turned to Ash and moved the hair out of his right eye momentarily. "I'm Nathan Stanbury; from Goldenrod City... That crazy guy to my left is Dexter Harper from New Bark town." He added, ignoring the indigent cry of outrage from his best friend.
A few seconds past and there was silence. Even the trainers around the group of three had stopped talking. The most recent Conference Champions of the Silver Conference and the Ever Grande were travelling together on the way to Unova? Everyone knew about them and most people were looking on at them in awe. Dexter spotting such attention, just glared at them all whilst Nathan ignored them. I hate this… he thought, since when did he become something to be ogled at? Being a Conference Champion sure wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
Eventually Ash managed to find the words and with a grin he began to speak.
"Cool, I'm Ash Ketchum from Pallet town, how come I haven't heard of you guys before?" The younger trainer introduced himself with a smile. Silence reigned again but this time everyone was starring at the Pallet Town Trainer like he'd sprouted a second head.
"Dude, are you sure you haven't heard of them?" A voice in the crow called in the crowd, Ash just blink in response, was he missing something?"
"As much as I hate to admit it," Dexter chuckled, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet. "The random is right; I mean we both know that you were a semi-finalist in this year's Sinnoh League...Don't you keep an eye on the other conferences going on at the time?" Dexter asked. He quickly turned to Nathan to get his opinion on the matter, all he got was a simply shrug.
"Nope, not really." Ash said causing a few laughs to come from the crowd. What's so funny, am I missing something? "I just like to keep focus on my own Conference campaign before I got looking at others." The trainer from Pallet looked around at all the people who'd crowded the three of them, noticing a few of them were shaking their heads.
"Well maybe next time you get on a computer, why don't you look us up? I'm sure you'll get a pleasant surprise." Dexter said, almost as a prompt towards Ash, grinning. He wasn't one when it came to having an ego, but teasing this kid about his lack of knowledge in the other Conference Circuits was rather fun.
"How come?" Ash asked, still clueless causing Nathan to chuckle quietly. Oh great, now even he's laughing at me.
"You're looking at the latest Conference Champions of Johto and Hoenn Leagues!" Someone announced in the back of the crowd, drawing a gasp from Ash as he looked at the two of them. But Nathan and Dexter seemed to be locked in some slight conversation, almost as if they were debating about how the hell to escape the crowd.
"Wait, but...how come you guys aren't challenging the Elite Four?" Ash asked, his eyes were wide and his mouth opened as he looked at them. Woah... Conference Champions.
"We both declined in favour of heading over to Unova," Dexter shrugged, like the choice was obvious. "Both of us think that we're not ready for that kind of thing. Plus, new region, new Pokémon and best of all, new types of beer to try!" he laughed said, smiling to Ash before giving him a wave of good bye.
"Wait, i've got one last question!" Ash announced causing both Dexter and Nathan to stop walking. I have to get a battle from, these guys, no matter what it should be one worth having! "Will you two bat-"
"The ship's captain would like to thank the two trainers who stopped that Robot Tentacruel by giving them free access to the bar. We hope you all enjoy the rest of your journey." An announcement from the loudspeakers blocked out Ash's question. Instead brought a look on Dexter's face that one would normally see of a child who has just found out they can have an infinite number of toys, someone was happy, that was for sure.
"Booyah! Now that sounds like fun!" He yelled turning away from Ash and immediately heading for the bar. "c'mon Nath, we better make the most of this!" Grabbing his dark-haired friend by the collar and dragging him down the deck. The Dark-type Trainer gave Ash a nod as he went and then he disappeared around a corner, wondering why he put up with Dexter.
Soon enough only Ash was at the stern with Pikachu beside him a grin on his face; they waited there a little longer.
"So buddy, what do you say to exploring the rest of the ship and seeing if we meet anyone we know?" Ash asked, turning to his oldest friend. He placed a hand to his head and wiped a little sweat from underneath his fringe.
"Pika!" His Pokémon yelled a smile on his face.
"Alright then, let's get going buddy," Ash announced, allowing Pikachu to jump onto his shoulder before setting off to explore the ship at a run. "We might even find someone to battle, if we get lucky!" He exclaimed a he tore down a corridor. But he forgot one little detail, he was Ash Ketchum, he didn't need to find battles, they found him.
***So here is my first chapter, hope you all enjoyed it and you can expect more soon. Ash hitting out at his friends may seem a little out of character but I think that losing Brock; who’s been with him from the start, would have a negative effect on him.
A quick note for you all: This is written to go completely AU compared to the anime. OC’s will be expected and so for now...i’ll see you next chapter.
Now for something you can expect every chapter; A Character Profile.
Name: Ash Ketchum.
Hometown and Region: Pallet Town, Kanto.
Birthday: 22nd May.
Height and Weight: 5’8” and 149 kg.
Classification: Wandering Trainer.
Signature Pokémon: Pikachu.
Years as Trainer: 5.
Greatest Achievement: Conquered the Kanto Battle Frontier.
Theme(as chosen by author) : Son of Man – Phil Collins.