Chapter six: Understand Me
February 4, 2013
Night provided the prefect cover as the young man stood out behind the thick trees, the leaves hiding the emotion in his eyes. Covered nothing but with a simple black outfit comprised of a leather jacket, jeans and shades that could pick up heat signatures, Ash looked on forward. His arms crossed and looking at the only thing that provided light.
The Professor's lab,
Removing his shades Ash seemed to get a better view of one of Kanto's highly remembered labs. The simple place would always bring a smile on his face after each journey he went. After making a quick visit at his mother's the excitement would build in him so when he came he couldn't help but call out the Professor's name so loud it could be heard miles away.
But now it only brought dread, fear and uncertainty.
The lights shone bright with life as one by one, as Ash stared and counted each one the lab was soon coated by the darkness of the night. He dreaded on the last light that flickered off. It was his countdown timer, as he knew that once no signs of life walked down the halls of the lab it was time for his move.
His clenched his fists tightly and closed his eyes briefly as footsteps were heard behind him.
"Are you sure you are ready?" It was no other but his partner in crime, Jewelz. "I know J forced you to go out today but wasn't it your idea to do this as early as possible within reason?"
"You can give me a year and I still wouldn't like what we are about to do."
"But J…what she told you…about the business…"
"I wipe my hands clean from her dirty work. I'm here to protect my friends, not create trouble."
Placing his shades on no silhouettes of people in red came into his vision and he finally stopped leaning on the truck of the tree he had been on for the last hour. Raichu stretched and waved his tail high in the air before taking a yawn. The mouse looked up to his trainer and gave off a soft smile.
"Good evening buddy." He joked. Somehow Raichu was the only one able to return him to his old self – the one that could look at any situation with some sort of joy. "The lights are finally out. It's time to move."
The female hunter watched as Ash started to take fragile steps closer to the lap as her Serperior slid its way out of its pokeball. It too watched Ash take such small steps at the lab. She knew he hated every part of this mission but if any of them refused another of Ash's Pokémon would be smashed. They died without even knowing it. They died without feeling the pain.
Her on the other hand, her mother's life would be questioned. How many times had J said she was dead due to her own mistakes? The female hunter shook her head at the idea that due to her failures her mother's life would be her only result.
Other rushing footsteps passed him by like the roaring wind on stormy nights. Ash watched on with expressionless eyes. For a moment they looked empty before they glimmer as water thicken his lashes. Before he knew it he was crying.
Rubbing them away he gave a faint nod to his 'sister' and with haste they were soon seen, meters by the footsteps of the front door.
The hunter placed his hand over his right earpiece. "Give me information about anybody in the lab."
Muttering could be heard on the other end as another of J's grunts observed the area, looking into each window clearly and as long as possible. "Raven Hanta Sir," They began. The grunts J worked for told them theses were their 'real' names.
If only they knew.
"I have spotted two adults and two young children. Both to look around ten to eleven years old."
"Damn it." Ash cussed. "I don't remember reading about harming civilians in the brief."
"What do we do Sir?" The grunt asked for Ash's directions.
The young man pondered as light suddenly poured from one of the windows, both Ash and Jewelz quickly ducked down for cover and hid into a nearby shrub. Soft footsteps were heard coming closer to the front door. A light click was heard before the door opened wide and light poured out into the darkness. It stung Ash's eyes for a moment before a dark figure stood by the doors. The darkness that covered the image of a figure faded as soon it took steps away from the door of blinding light.
The sound of the door closing behind them was heard as Ash opened his eyes fully too see who was still awake and now outside of the lab. It didn't take long for Ash who it was, in fact it took no time at all.
It was his mother.
His mother despite the years, still remain young and youthful. Of course there were some signs that she had aged but it was hardly evident. Ash couldn't remember the last time his mother let her hair down or wear a nightie. She always seemed to be the calm, collected and reserved type of person. He started to wonder maybe she only played that part because of him and wanted to be a good role model to her only child at the time.
"You want to talk to her, don't you?"
Closing his eyes for a moment, Ash sighed. "You know that is not possible." An idea popped into his mind, but the idea felt like his heart dropping over and over again each time he thought about it. He placed his hand over his right earpiece. "This is Raven speaking. I am giving you orders as the oldest child of J Hanta. Infiltrate the building without harming the civilians inside. Ruubi and I shall take care of them. I refuse to hear reports of dead people. I cannot carry such a burden."
"Yes sir!" The voices of different grunts spoke at the same time.
And grunts from different directions flew out of their spots and sore into the skies like a group of well-trained ninjas. Their silhouettes where painted on the face of the white full moon. The rustle of the leaves, the rushing footsteps of uncertainty filled his mother's mind.
She wrapped her warm arms around herself as she looked at all different directions, each sound she heard and she would quickly turn towards it. Delia couldn't understand her feeling when she saw there was nothing towards that direction or that maybe it was only to fool her. Thoughts of a murderer coming to steal her life away scared her.
"Go." Ash muttered to his sister. "They will need a leader and orders to follow."
"Alright brother." Jewelz muttered.
And in seconds she too, faded into the darkness of the night. Ash kept his eyes stuck on his mother who was for the first time he ever saw her – scared. After seconds of standing outside her home Delia turned and rushed for the doorknob and was seen twisting it but somehow it was proving difficult.
A sweet innocent voiced echoed in her ears.
"Blue, Silver." She muttered as the door finally opened for her. Her children came rushing into her arms. "Where is your father?" She spoke, her calm and collected nature was no longer in sight.
"Some nasty lady has him cornered him up stairs. Demanding Pokémon from him. They said they will end his life if he doesn't." Blue panicked.
"We barely escaped, if we woke up a second later we could be stuck with father right now." Silver, a man that was normally cold and not out spoken was too, losing his composure.
"Knowing your father he would die for his Pokémon and his research." Delia flicked her hair over her shoulder. "Now let's go and gather the Pokémon and put them somewhere safe. We'll hide them as fast and as quickly as we can. I can't promise all of them can be saved but we have to do something."
Ash both saw his siblings nod before Delia rushing over to close the door with haste. As soon the light from the door was suddenly closed on him Ash removed his shades in anger.
"S**t." He cussed. He pressed on his earpiece once more. "What did I say about not to harm the people inside the building?"
"Sir, we are following your orders and Miss Ruubi's. None of my men are touching the people inside of the building. My guess it could be no other but Mrs. J herself. I'm sure you know your mother more than we Sir."
"Oh damn I do." It wasn't often Ash would lose his cool. There was such a short range of things that would catch him upset. His Pokémon and how they would be treated. His friends and how upset they could be, and then came his family. Ash felt like crushing the shades that were in his grasp but decided he could yell at his so called 'mother' later on instead.
"Raichu." Ash muttered. "Let's stop J."
Raichu's cheeks sparked and the mouse jumped into the air with glee. Though both knew the punishment that would come if he ever crossed J's plans but as much he loved all his pokemon he couldn't afford to lose his mother and the family she loved so much.
She had already lost him and he knew how much that already had affected her. Just seeing the way she looked for that moment told him that she had changed. Changed the way she looked in hope it would remove the pain when he vanished from her. Her eyes didn't have that warmth she would always have when he would returned home.
"I'll save you, Mom."
October 25th 2001
J's flying ship.
A body was tossed against the steel floor more than once now. As soon his weak eleven-year-old body stopped bouncing across the floor he pressed his palms on the steel floor firmly before giving up. His face was still face planted on the cold floor as he laid still.
He turned to rest his head to one side before looking up at the woman that had pushed him down to the ground over and over again. By her side was the cold and quiet woman known as Ruubi. Her newly evolve Cinccino hid behind the legs of her trainer's as Pikachu did the opposite and stood in front of him, protecting him at all costs.
His red cheeks were ready to send sparks to cover the whole room but as soon that television lit up with another line of Ash's Pokémon that had turned to stone, the confidence of the little mouse dropped.
"Agree or else." The older woman threaten.
"…No. I won't do it if Pikachu doesn't want to!"
"Does it look like I'm giving you a damn choice here boy?!" J's shouted and before Ash could come up with a reply, the horrible sound of stones breaking echoed in his ears.
Another of his dear companions dead.
And then another,
The young hunter behind J held her dear normal type in her arms tightly as she tried to block the horrible sound of death echoing in her ears over and over again.
J was having enough of waiting as she stomped her way over to the fallen trainer and kicked him in the guts once more, sending him flying across the room once more and crashing into the wall of the room, sending things that hung on that wall come crashing down . Ash didn't move as the objects came crashing down on him.
"Do it." She hissed.
Ash felt a hard object come into contact at him as he heard it slid a few centimetres from his body. Taking his gaze form the cold floor to the object that hit him, his eyes painted a perfect picture of what had hit him. It was no other but a thunderstone.
There had been times where in his journey the damn stone was forced to come out of his bag. First was when he battled Lt. Surge and then another in Sinnoh where some Pikachu lover who had both Pikachu's pre-evolution and evolution forced to think things over. Now here it was again, staring at him coldly.
Another sound of rocks being smashed echoed in his ears, sending him to sit up quickly in utter fear. The count was five. Five of his own Pokémon he had worked so hard to train were dead because of his own ignorance again.
"You have had many close encounters because of how weak your Pikachu is. Because of that you fail today's mission." J recapped his failures. "And now you're failing your Pokémon as a trainer as you watch them die because of your own ignorance!"
"Shut up!" He screamed. "Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Ash covered his own ears as he shook his head left and right over and over again. "That isn't true."
"But it is." J reminded him.
Pikachu's eyes watered as he watched his trainer suffer even more than he needed too. His own eyes made to contact with the evolution object that were only centimetres from his trainer as Ash sat there in despair.
His eyes were empty but at the same time were filled with so many emotions Pikachu didn't bother to count. The little mouse ran to his trainer and outstretched his arms.
"Pika pika!" He growled. Sparks could be seen coming out of his cheeks.
"Pikachu…" Pikachu hardly picked up on his trainer's weak voice.
Enough was enough.
The little mouse took a few steps towards the stone and gazed at it deeply. If given another choice he would slap the object away with his tail but he had enough of watching Ash lose so many of his Pokémon because he didn't want to evolve. Because of his ignorance.
With his little paws he picked up the stone and held it tightly. He knew he would have only a few seconds before feeling a whole new burst of energy run though him, as he would be engulfed in bright white light. The little mouse looked at his trainer and Ash looked back in shock.
"Pikachu, please. You don't have to-"
But it was too late as Ash watched his oldest Pokémon be engulfed by the white light known as evolution. The white silhouette grew in size and Pikachu's tail grew twice its normal length as a shape of a thunderbolt took shape right at the tip of his tail. It's ears shorter and curled and his body twice the size.
The evolution only took seconds to be completed and done with as Ash watched on at his new Pokémon. Pikachu, now Raichu looked around and noticed his line of sight was just in line with his trainer. He waved his tail around and noticed how long it had become and also how heavy he felt.
The sound of rocks being smashed ended, as Raichu felt his trainer run into his arms. Crying so heavy that it felt weird seeing Ash in such a state of utter sadness. Raichu stood there and let time help Ash to accept that he didn't mind evolving if it would stop the pain he was feeling. But Raichu started to worry that maybe evolving would only give him more pain than taking it away.
"I'm glad you Pikachu understood me." As J left those were the last words Ash ever cared to hear from her.
"Buddy." Ash began. He bit his bottom lip as he was always so use to calling by the name of Pikachu. "S-Sorry." He trembled.
"Rai." He patted his trainer softly on his back. "Rai rai."
Even the voice of his dear beloved Pokémon sounded so foreign to Ash. Ash held onto Raichu tighter. He didn't know what to do. So many feelings, emotions and thoughts ran wildly in his mind. They would have to start all over again, just like the day J turned him into a hunter the same principles worked for them both.
Ruubi and Cinccino watched on silence like they always would and let the two have their moment.
Finding the strength to accept that Pikachu was no more Ash broke his hug with his old Pokémon and patted Raichu's head. His fur was soft and fluffy. His eyes were bigger and so was his grin.
What they needed was time, Ash knew he needed to accept that when his little mouse picked up the stone he did want to evolve. Not for power but for him. They would have to start training all over again but it didn't matter. Raichu was forced to some degree to evolve but he would of never picked up that thunderstone if he didn't have some ambition to evolve for his sake.
With a half lit smile Ash offered his hand for a handshake.
"Welcome to the team Raichu."
The newly evolve pokemon smiled and accepted his trainer's handshake before jumping into his arms. He might have been much heavier to what he was use to but what matter that Raichu was with him now.
It was better than losing him for good.
February 4 2013
Professor Oak's Lab
The door that kept the Professor and his family trapped from safety suddenly burst down as the Professor's children came in closer to their father. Smoke covered up high into the ceiling, as the sudden distraction didn't make the hunter blink; not even once. The gun was still placed and aimed at the young family.
After Delia and her children rushed to save Professor Oak it only took minutes until J had made their way to them and before they all knew it they were back together but not under the circumstances they wanted.
"J!" A voice screamed through the thick layer of smoke. The voice was filled with anger. "J!" the name of the hunter was repeated.
"J…" Professor Oak muttered softly. "That name…I've heard it once from Ash."
"How so?" Delia spoke in a soft manner. Trying not to catch J's attention.
"It was barely mentioned. He called me once when he was travelling in Sinnoh. He said he fought against a hunter named J. I always thought it was a man but a woman? The world is really filled with surprises."
"Yes, they are, aren't they professor?" J pushed the barrel of the gun to the side of the old man's head. "I'm flattered my name has reached to Kanto, one of the biggest regions to ever be known by man. At least I know I'm doing my job right, somewhat."
Footsteps were heard behind the hunter, causing J to quickly flash behind her and point her gun at her new target. What caught her off guard was that she saw nothing but smoke and a destroyed lab. Seconds later the veteran hunter felt a cold metal object pressing into her neck.
Another hunter had pinned her down with a gun of their own.
"After all these years you now decide to break the rules." The man's voice showed he was up to no games. "You rebel."
J's lips perked up into a smirk. "Impressive." She felt the gun drop from her neck as she turned to face the better hunter. "I knew taking you in was a good idea."
"Your version is taking in is debatable."
A soft chuckle could be heard from the hunter as she took a few steps to the fragile family. Their Pokémon had been stolen and had nobody to protect them. The young man still had his back facing his once family as J pointed the gun back at them.
"Tell me where you hid the other Pokémon and the old man's research and we'll be off." J warned by placing her finger on the trigger. "And I shall let you go, I am a woman of my word."
"I will never let my work or anybody else' Pokémon land in the hands of people like you!" Professor Oak was determined to stand by his work and the Pokémon in his care.
"Even at the cost of your own children's lives?" She questioned.
J's cold onyx eyes met with Silver's as she quickly rushed up to the young trainer and pulled him onto his feet. She held him by his arms as the young red head struggled in the arms of the hunter. Trying to get away.
"Let go of me you old hag!" He screamed. Silver was never known to panic or give off any emotions besides giving off cold stares. It was this moment that reminded him he was still only a young child.
"Ooo, this one is filled with energy. Imagine the use I could put if I took you with me onto a little trip."
The man who still had his back facing Delia and the children was having enough and quickly grabbed on J's arm and removed his shades in the process.
Ash refused to let another child go through the same pain as he did.
Especially if it was going to be his own little brother.
"Let my brother go." Ash threatened. His grip didn't loosen. "If you dare make him go through the same pain and suffering you put me through then you'll have to go through me."
Ash's sudden words gave him the chance to steal Silver from her and to his side. He held onto his arm of his brother tightly. As much Silver hated begin told what to do, he didn't mind if it was his own older brother giving off the commands. And right now, he didn't have much of a choice anyway.
"So you're my older brother then?" Silver spoke. "What a way to come back from the dead."
Ash gave off a smirk as he pointed the gun at J as he softly pushed Silver back to his mother. Delia opened her arms wide and let her son into her arms and held onto him tightly before her own eyes met with her oldest child. Ash slipped his shades back on.
He had grown much more mature in the thirteen years she last saw him. He was clearly older and had grown into a handsome young man. He was brave and strong and bold. If he was the same kind ten year old she remember him to be was only left to her imagination.
"Ruubi, give me a answer." J brought a new topic into the conversation as she placed her hand on her earpiece.
"All the Pokémon have been captures Sis. We have gathered all necessary information you have stated. We no longer need to stay here any longer."
"Very well." She moved onto her shades as Ruubi sent her data that was portrayed on her shades; only for her and Ash to see.
Delia observed her son as he stood straight and in a bold position as he read and looked at all the information Jewelz had gathered with her team. J gave a glare to Ash as she walked up to the young hunter and placed her hand on his shoulder for a few seconds before leaving the room.
"Make this important. I hate waiting." J's message popped in front of his shades, displayed in a text box. Ash stood there emotionless and only removed his shades once he felt it was safe so.
He blinked a few times as he gazed at his mother and his own siblings and his stepfather. No words were exchanged for a minute or two until Silver felt his mother standing up, making him move out of her arms as he sat by his father and twin sister as Delia looked directly at her oldest child.
"I should of believed May when she said you were my child."
"It's alright, I didn't expect you to recognize me after thirteen years."
"Still…" Delia paused. "So you one of her then? A Pokémon hunter."
"I had no choice and please don't blame yourself for what has happened for me. You didn't expect for me to get kidnapped only to see me thirteen years later as somebody different." Ash tried to sound cheerful somewhat, convincing his mother it was not her fault for what had happened to her.
Delia's eyes started to water, "I'm sorry Ash. I failed you as your mother. First I lost your father and now you."
"Ma," Ash walked over to his mother and placed his hands on her shoulders like she would when he would ever doubt himself as a trainer. "It's alright. I'm fine. It's not as bad as you guys think."
"Will you ever come back home?" Delia asked, suddenly.
"I-I," The young man took a few steps back, avoiding his mother's gaze. "You'll all get hurt if I did." He looked around at Silver, Blue and then the Professor. "I can't let you guys get hurt because of me."
"…Brother?" Blue spoke unconfidently. Somehow hearing those words it made Ash smile; he never thought he would ever be an older brother to anyone, especially since his own father left him after he was born. "You really are the kindest person father has told me about. I believe them now."
"Yeah, I agree with our sister here, I may not know you for that long but you protected me even though we don't know each other for long."
Suddenly Blue and Silver rushed their way to their older brother. "Promise me you'll battle with me when you get back!" they both shouted at the same time. The twins gave a glare to each other. "Hey I was first!"
Ash knelt down and soon burst into laughter, a sound filled with such joy and happiness he never thought he would ever hear himself again. But those sounds of happy laughter soon dull down and turned into soft whimpers as his mother now knelt down to his height.
With her warm embrace she held her son as if he was suddenly ten again. She didn't care if she was treating him not as his age as the need of holding her son came first. She wanted to be his mother again, even for a few minutes only. Her fingers ran through his thick raven hair as Ash tried to control his tears and whimpers.
"I know you’re doing all of this to protect us and your friends. I always admired that from you." Delia closed her eyes as the memories of her and her ten-year-old son came into her mind. Memories once she refused to remember till now.
"Brother?" Blue asked as Ash pulled away from his mother's arms. "You take care out there. I don't know if we'll see you ever again but I'm glad we got to meet each other." She showed off a gentle smile that just looked like their mother.
"Thanks you guys." Ash smiled as Blue ran into his arms and hugged her older brother for a brief moment. She pulled away to let Silver have a go but the young boy wasn't known as the sentimental type. He instead offered Ash a handshake, which the hunter accepted before pulling him into his arm and burst into laughter.
Delia and her husband laughed and smiled knowing they got to see the old Ash they knew so well for a moment, even if it was brief.
Pulling himself back up Ash returned his shades back on his face as messages of the other grunts leaving came into his ear. Messages flashed onto his shades in text boxes about what was going to happen next and so on.
"Thank you." The hunter replied. "But I'm sorry; I don't think I'll ever have a chance like this again, maybe for a long time." He turned behind him and saw Raichu had appeared from the smoke to greet his trainer.
"Then I'll wait. I'll wait another thirteen years again if I have to. Just don't die out there." He turned back to face his mother.
"You heard your mother." Professor Oak suddenly spoke up. "Take care, boy." He looked down at Raichu. “You too Raichu.” The mouse gave off a smile as he waved his tail in the air in joy.
Ash smiled, smiled for the first time that didn't feel forced upon. "You too…Dad," He finished off with his usual goofy grin before rushing out of their sights.
Delia watched on as her family gathered near her as the smoke that covered the ceiling had subsided. Now what was left was one destroyed lab with broken machines and notes scattered all over the place. But within the silhouette of the night her son stood, though his face was covered by the darkness she knew he was smiling.
Ash's voice suddenly filled up the empty path that J suddenly felt like walking down. Behind her was Ruubi, saying no words. The mission had stained them all, but mainly to Ash yet it didn't seem the case.
"Brother." Jewelz spoke with gladness as she made her way over to him and gave him a light embrace. She kept her arms around him as Ash stood still, letting her adopted sister have her moment.
"J." Ash repeated. "Why?"
She glared at him with her empty eyes before removing her shades that hid them from sight. "Because I needed to know if you really into this for good,"
"I've been by your side for nearly my whole life, why would I suddenly turn that away?" Jewelz soon peeled away from her brother and stood side by side of him.
"I've given you every reason too." Her voice was weak, yet bold. "I've taken you both from your dreams, your family yet you've stuck by my side. It's strange; I've taken many other people under the same circumstances yet their attitude towards me is completely different. So why do you two, accept me like none of that has happened?"
"Don't get me wrong Sis," Ash began. "I hated everything about you at the start; you took me away from my dreams, my family and my friends. I wanted to run away the first chance I had but then the longer I lived with you and the others the more I understood that people like you that are seen so bad in society are humans in the end after all. I'm sure there was a moment in your life that you didn't dream any of this."
"Yeah, also you’re not so bad yourself. Sure we all have our moments, but who doesn't? I'm sure even the nicest and the good people out there can't help but show a side they rather forget. Why hunters are suddenly not allowed to be human yet they can? Are hunters like us suddenly not allowed to show emotions like everyone else can?"
J remained silent as she slipped her shades back into her face. She kept on moving until she passed her two pupils.
"You really are such strange children."
The veteran hunter kept on moving in her own pace as the two stood on by and watched her.
"Do you think a day would come where J will finally give our freedom back?"
Ash pondered as he turned up to the full moon and gazed at the beauty it was giving off. Answers ran wild in his mind and he looked down and closed his eyes briefly before opening them up again.
"As much I hate this job and how J treats us from time to time I think we already have our freedom. It's just not the way we envisioned it to be." Ash smiled at his friend. "We get to see the world on a flying ship, get to see Pokémon we thought we could never see and to battles in ways that I thought were not possible."
The male hunter looked down the forest path and saw the flying ship coming down from the skies to gather them and J's men.
"So if you're asking if J has given us our freedom I think she already has when she finally let us out from that storage room thirteen years ago. She has given us freedom; it just took us this longer to see it."
“Well you do know now that the mission is over we don’t need to stay here any longer.” Jewelz reminded. “You alright to leave your family behind like that?” She watched as Ash patted his electric type in a praising manner.
‘I’m fine.” Ash grinned and patted Jewelz’s black short hair afterwards. “At least I know that if I ever came back home they’ll be waiting.”
“You might have your family but what about May? I heard from the grunts that J nearly convinced her to become a hunter.”
Ash looked away from a brief moment and took a few steps down the empty forest path before turning around to his sister. “I know May is a strong person. She won’t become a hunter. I swear.”
The female hunter gazed at her brother with a blank expression before swallowing hard at the words she was about to speak. “And what if she does? Have you see how desperate she was to save you when she chased us at Mount. Silver?”
“Then if she does…” Ash paused for a brief moment. “…then I’ll never forgive her.”