View Full Version : The Journey's Just Begun
January 2nd, 2008, 10:24 PM
Okay, here goes the first of my Pokemon fics, The Journey's Just Begun. I wrote it aaages ago now, and the writing style is quite different from the recent sequel The Last Island, but its a bit of fun, even split in to chapters so it'll fit on the forum :P Hope people enjoy them because they were absolutely wild to write!
After competing in the Johto League Championship, Ash and his friends, Misty and Brock, went their separate ways, Misty returned to the gym in Cerulean City, after receiving an urgent summons, asking her to run the gym, Brock departed, saying merely that he had ‘things to be doing’, and Ash returned to his home town of Pallet. He soon grew restless, and decided to journey to the Hoenn Region, on the advice of a boy he met during the Johto Championships, taking only Pikachu with him, he departed. Upon arriving in Hoenn, Ash was joined by two companions, May and Max, the son and daughter of one of the Hoenn Gym Leaders. Ash and friends were soon reunited with Brock, who announced that he was ready to travel again, and joined them on their journey. After earning his first gym badge in the Rustboro City Gym, Ash travelled to Dewford Island, where he was defeated by the local gym leader. After a lengthy stay on Dewford Island, and much Pokémon training, Ash managed to defeat Brawly, the gym leader. Taking to the sea again, Ash and friends head for Slateport City. Meanwhile, in the Ilex Forest in the Johto Region, the time Pokémon, Celebi, was aroused by mischief being caused by Team Rocket on the edge of the forest. Disturbed and agitated, Celebi inadvertently disrupted the flow of time throughout the world, and ruptured the barriers that keep the worlds apart. And now, Ash’s continuing story…
Arrival in Slateport City
It was a beautiful sunny autumn’s day, and Ash, Brock, May and Max were still on their way to Slateport City. Mr Briney was dozing at the wheel of his boat, having turned on the computerised autopilot, May and Max had tied an empty barrel to the back of Mr Briney’s Wingull shaped speedboat, and were drifting along in it a little way behind the boat, chatting and laughing happily with the swimmers and holiday makers lounging around in the shallow coastal waters. These were mainly swimsuit clad girls, but there were still many boys too, some looking longingly at the girls, others just floating and enjoying the sun.
Only Ash and Brock remained awake on the boat, Brock was staring out at the girls with a kind of sad, hopeless longing; Ash was watching May and Max. Sometimes he would look out beyond them to the distant horizon, occasionally he found his eyes wandering over to the girls in the water. He cast a look over at Brock, and smiled to himself. He was beginning to understand what Brock and the other boys saw in the girls, the movement and shape of their bodies was almost mesmerising. He was staring out sleepily to the horizon when it happened. His eyes drifted down to the water, and fell on the face of one of the swimmers. Her long red hair flowed down her back, and framed her bright green eyes brilliantly. An instant later however, he was disturbed by Pikachu, who was sleeping on Ash’s lap. Pikachu shifted slightly in its sleep, and Ash automatically looked down, startled by the movement. By the time Ash looked up again, the girl had gone. She had reminded him of an old friend, and in that moment he felt a strong desire to see his friend again, and talk with her, although all the lands of Hoenn, Johto and Kanto now lay between them; far off in Cerulean city she lived now. Ash cast his eyes eastwards to the horizon, where he knew she was, and sighed very slightly. Brock perhaps caught the look on Ash’s face, for he came and sat down beside Ash on the deck.
‘What’s up Ash?’ Brock asked, watching Ash’s face intently, ‘you looked rather thoughtful.’ Ash looked startled to see Brock sitting beside him, and talking to him, Ash had not even noticed him sit down.
‘Oh, it’s nothing’ Ash spoke quickly, ‘I was just thinking about my next gym battle that’s all. Max told me its going to be electric Pokémon.’ Ash reeled this off very fast, he had been using this lie a lot lately, and found it a convenient way of hiding what had really been troubling him for weeks now, indeed since even before they had left Rustboro city. Brock looked at Ash critically, with an almost hurt look on his face, and lowered his voice, so as not to have it carry to May and Max.
‘Ash, don’t give me that one. We’ve been friends for almost four years now, and I know you better than that. Now, why don’t you tell me what’s really going on?’ Brock spoke gently, hoping Ash would open up a little, he always kept his feelings so tight it was often hard to tell what he truly felt. Ash sighed resignedly, and began.
‘Well, its nothing really, it’s just…’ Ash paused, trying to figure out where to begin.
‘Go on, I won’t say a word to anyone. I think I can guess though, you’ve been like this ever since I met you here in Hoenn.’ Brock prompted. Ash was silent for a long time.
‘Its Misty,’ he said finally, ’I really miss her. I always told myself I wanted her to stop following us, but I can’t help missing her. I feel really bad, that I left her in Viridian City like that.’ Ash looked surprised to hear himself speaking like this, hearing his own feelings voiced, these feelings were a new experience for him and he was having trouble understanding them.
‘The two of you were a lot closer than you gave each other credit for, I think. Tracey certainly thought so, he watched you two closely while he was with you. But what brings it on so suddenly now?’ Brock asked, beginning to get an idea of what was going on, ‘You’ve been very quiet and closed in compared to your usual self, ever since coming to the Hoenn Region, but why do you feel so strongly now, you looked really sad when you were looking out of the boat just now.’ Brock felt he was getting to the point now, and as he spoke, his voice lowered even further, he knew Ash would not like May and Max knowing what they were talking about.
‘I keep on thinking of just calling her, and talking to her, but what would I say?’ said Ash, feeling exasperated and helpless.
‘Ash, you’ve changed so much since I first met you, you’ve grown up more than I ever realised before. I can’t give you an answer, but I think you’ll find one for yourself.’ Brock said calmly, knowing just how Ash felt. Ash was about to go on, but Brock shook his head, nodding slightly towards the back of the boat. May and Max were watching them, and looked surprised to see Ash talking so much. They were used to hearing Ash talk about Pokémon for hours on end, but even Max, young though he was, could tell he wasn’t doing so now, from the look on Ash’s face. Ash gave a deep sigh, and looked up, as he realised the boat had begun to slow down.
Land was approaching on the horizon, a beautiful sandy beach and, as they drew closer, the sprawling outline of Slateport City. Brock glanced up and down the beach, then up to Mr Briney, a puzzled look on his face.
‘Where exactly are we going to dock, I can’t see a port anywhere?’ Brock asked.
‘We’re comin’ up on the beach here see?’ said Mr Briney, in his salty voice, ‘The port is far round on the east side of the city, and we can’t get there from here because of the reef out there to the east.’ Mr Briney explained. Brock looked east and saw, as Mr Briney said, many sharp and jagged rocks jutting out of the water forming a reef which stretched southwards out of sight.
‘May, Max!’ Mr Briney called, ‘you’d best get back in the boat quick, its goin’ ter be rough landing here!’ Brock leaped up and helped reel May and Max back to the boat, and hauled them back on to the deck. ‘Ok, hold on tight everyone!’ Mr Briney called out, bracing himself with one hand, frantically operating the boats controls with the other. May, Max and Brock held on tight to the railing along the edge of the boat, and with a loud crunching noise the S.S Wingull jarred itself against the sands of Slateport beach, coming to rest several metres up from the waters edge.
A cloud of sand, thrown up by the boat’s landing, surrounded the boat for a few moments, during which there was silence on the boat. When the dust settled May, Max, Brock and Mr Briney were all still standing, May cradling a frightened Pikachu in her free arm. It took them a few moments to realise Ash was no longer on the boat! Brock rushed to the far side of the deck, where Ash had been sitting, and looked over the side. Ash was lying face down in the sand by the boat, his clothes torn where they had caught the boats railing, several deep cuts showed beneath his clothes.
Ash was floating, submerged, in cool blue water, bubbles occasionally rising from the depths below, tickling him. It was a pleasant feeling. Then he remembered why he was here, he must keep looking, it was desperately important that he hurry. Ash began swimming forward, searching, looking in all directions. A dark shape was following him from behind now; terrified, Ash hurried forward, but his legs and arms were screaming in pain, he couldn’t keep up his search forever. The water in the distance ahead was beginning to glow red, faint at first but growing stronger as he approached. Ash was close now, he knew it. A tremendous shadowy bulk emerged from the darkness before him, glowing with a strong red light, silhouetting the dark shape which had been following. It floated now between Ash and his goal, and from the shadowy shape before him, two green eyes watched. Ash’s eyes and those of the shadow met, and an unaccountable warmth and happiness flooded through him. Ash’s eyes jerked open, and he found himself staring in to the bright green eyes of Nurse Joy.
‘What happened, where am I?’ Ash asked, his voice echoing in his own head.
‘It’s ok,’ Brocks voice spoke, Ash sat up in his bed, looked over and saw Brock sitting by his bedside. As he sat up, the room seemed to lurch forward, and a throbbing pain erupted at the back of his head. ‘You fell off the boat when we came up on the beach. We think you got caught on the railing, and landed on some rocks, judging by the look of you. You were knocked out, and you’ve got some nasty cuts and bruises, but it’s nothing serious. Nurse Joy has taken care of you; we thought the Pokémon Centre was probably the best place to bring you.’ Brock explained. Ash looked and saw that, beneath the white gown he was wearing, were several heavily bandaged cuts, as well as numerous bruises.
‘Thanks Nurse Joy,’ said Ash gratefully, ’I didn’t know you looked after people as well as Pokémon. Speaking of Pokémon, where is Pikachu?’ Ash asked suddenly, looking around the room.
‘Pikachu is right here Ash,’ Said Nurse Joy, who smiled at Ash and handed over Pikachu. The small electric mouse gave a cry for joy at being reunited with its owner, and promptly proceeded to settle down to sleep on Ash’s lap. ‘Normally we Joy’s aren’t qualified to treat people,’ Nurse Joy continued, ‘Slateport City doesn’t have its own hospital though, so I had to be trained as a human doctor as well, when I got the job here’
‘That’s great!’ Ash exclaimed. To Ash’s surprise, Nurse Joy’s face fell, and she gave a small sigh.
‘Yes, I suppose. But it is very tiring, with all the people coming in who injure themselves on the beach’ Nurse Joy gave Ash a small wink, and continued ’I sometimes wish I could go off on a journey of my own, and leave all this behind’ Nurse Joy bowed her head ‘But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to.’ A chime sounded from somewhere inside the Pokémon Centre. ‘I have other patients to attend to now. I’d like you to stay here for a bit longer Ash, your head got a pretty nasty knock. I’ll let you know when you can leave.’ Nurse Joy said, she then left the room in silence. Brock watched her go with a slight frown on his face, and then turned to Ash.
‘Sounds like you’ll be here a while longer Ash. I’ll go in to town for you if you like, and get you some new clothes. You can’t go out training wearing that gown anyway,’ said Brock, who promptly got up to leave, then turned to May and Max. ‘What will you do, stay here with Ash?’ Brock asked them.
‘Well, actually, we were thinking of going out and exploring the city a bit,’ said May, winking at Max, and said teasingly to him ‘There are just some things you can’t see on a PokéNav screen. See you Ash!’ May left the room at a run, closely pursued by Max. Brock turned to leave too. As he was passing through, Ash called out.
‘Hey, Brock! You’d better not make me look like a goof!’ Brock shook his head, smiling, and left.
Ash had a very good time that afternoon. Nurse Joy was in and out of the ward all the time, she and Ash talked happily together for a long time, until she realised she was neglecting her other duties. She would then hurry out, and return straight to Ash’s ward. Nurse Joy particularly enjoyed hearing about Ash’s journeys, and all he could tell of the Kanto and Johto Regions. Unlike the other Joys Ash had met, he found Nurse Joy to be far more friendly, she would talk for long periods about her own interests, but if ever Ash wanted a word, she would always let him talk. She was also far less distant than the other Joys, and it soon seemed to Ash as though they had been friends for years.
When Brock returned several hours later, Ash was alone in his ward, and his head was feeling much better.
‘Hi Brock!’ Ash called, the moment he stepped through the door. Brock smiled in response, as he sat down once more next to Ash’s bed. ‘I wondered when you were going to get back’ Ash said.
‘Well, actually, I’ve been back for quite a while. I’ve been talking to Nurse Joy,’ said Brock in response. ‘I think she could be the one for me Ash’ Brock continued gleefully ‘I think she really likes me! She even asked me to ask you if she could join us on our journey!’ Brock said, sounding excited.
‘What!’ Ash exclaimed, ‘But, how could she come with us, she has to look after the Pokémon Centre doesn’t she?’
‘Well, one of Nurse Joy’s sisters has just become a qualified Pokémon Nurse, but she hasn’t been given an assignment yet. The Nurse Joy here, she doesn’t really like working here, she really wants to go on an adventure. As soon as she saw the opportunity to leave with us, she called her sister, and she agreed to take over at the Pokémon Centre here.’ Brock explained.
‘Why did she want you to ask me?’ asked Ash, puzzled.
‘Ash, this journey that we’re on, it’s your journey. Me, Max and May, even Misty and Tracey, we’ve always been with you, because we are your friends, and we enjoy being with you. Nurse Joy knows it’s your journey, and she felt it was only right to ask you.’ This fact hit home in Ash more powerfully and suddenly than the rock on the beach had hit his head. As he looked back, he saw that this was true in every person who had ever joined him on his Pokémon journey. Every one of them, Misty, Brock, Snap, Tracey, May and Max, no matter for how short a time they had been together, they were always held together by friendship. Ash was silent for a while as he thought this through. When he eventually spoke again, he sounded almost ashamed of himself.
‘I’m sorry, I never realised that before.’ Ash said quietly, ‘It’d be great if Nurse Joy came with us. She’s a good friend, especially to you I think’ said Ash, ‘And,’ he added, ‘It’ll be really useful having a Pokémon nurse with us.’
‘Great! I’ll go and tell Nurse Joy. Thanks Ash.’ Brock hurried out of the room. He returned several minutes later, followed closely by Nurse Joy.
‘Thank you Ash,’ said Nurse Joy, as she examined his head. ‘You’ve given me the opportunity to see the world, and to share in your adventures.’ Nurse Joy stepped back from Ash and examined his face critically.
‘I think you’re ready to try standing up now if you like.’ Ash raised himself stiffly from his bed, swayed on his feet for a moment, and collapsed on to Brock’s shoulder. Ash held on to Brock tightly for a moment, as the room swam before him. This soon passed however, and Ash found himself standing shakily on his own again, his head rapidly clearing. Even in the company of his friends, Ash was uncomfortably aware of the thin hospital gown he was wearing. Brock handed Ash a bag, which turned out to be holding the clothes Brock had bought him. These included a warm blue shirt, and a long white cloak, which was fastened at the neck with a fine gold chain.
‘Brock,’ said Ash quietly, ‘How much did all this cost?’ he asked anxiously, becoming uncomfortable as he realised he had already promised to pay for the clothes.
‘Nah, don’t even worry about it Ash’ said Brock dismissively, ‘It’s your birthday after all; this is my present for you. You’ve got a lot to celebrate today; it’s your birthday and its four years today since you left Pallet Town on your first journey. Hope you’re feeling up to a party tonight.’ Ash was shocked as he remembered; the excitement of the day had driven it completely from his mind.
Ash had a fairly lonely time that afternoon. After giving Ash his birthday present, Brock had disappeared. Ash saw him hurrying in and out of the Pokémon Centre all afternoon, but never stopping for long. When Ash asked him what he was doing, he merely replied that he would find out later. He cheered up slightly at the sight of May and Max returning, thinking he might be able to have a practise battle against May, but Brock happened to catch them walking in, and had soon ushered them away somewhere. Ash soon discovered the incredible size of the Pokémon Centre; it seemed to have every facility imaginable, a training gym, a communications room, even a holographic battle simulator, which Ash particularly enjoyed. At about four in the afternoon, Ash was just settling in to a tense battle in the simulator. His holographic opponent was using a Graveller, which Pikachu was using to practise its Iron Tail attack. Pikachu leaped high in to the air, its tail beginning to glow silver, its tail came swinging down, about to collide with the top of Graveller’s head, when the simulation paused. ‘What! What’s going on?’ cried Ash indignantly. The sudden freezing of Pikachu’s opponent broke its concentration, its tail glow suddenly died and Pikachu landed, off target, face down on the floor. Nurse Joy’s voice came over the loud speaker.
‘Ash Ketchum to the Communications Centre please, you have an incoming phone call.’ Ash sighed, and called to Pikachu to follow as he left the simulated arena.
‘We’ll finish this battle later Pikachu.’ Ash said, and saved the battle in the simulator’s memory.
The Communications Centre was a large, deep room, divided in to cubicles around the walls. Within these were set around a dozen video phones, the kind often seen in the lobby of Pokémon Centres. In the centre of the room was a large cargo transporter, of the same kind used to transport PokéBalls, but far larger. Ash could have easily fitted on it had he cared to try. Each of the cubicles was fitted on the outside with a large computer screen; all of these were dark except for one in the far corner which read ‘Ketchum’. Ash entered the cubicle, and closed the door behind him.
‘Please place your PokéDex in to the slot provided for identification.’ Spoke a cool voice as the door closed behind him. A small slot in the phone hissed open, emitting a flashing green light. Ash took his Pokédex from the pocket of his cloak, and slotted it in. There was a moment of silence, then;
‘Identification confirmed. Patching through to Pallet Town.’ The voice spoke again. The video screen lit up before him, and in to view swam the smiling faces of Professor Oak and Ash’s mother.
‘Hi Mum, Hi Professor!’ said Ash, smiling broadly. ‘This is a surprise! How’d you know I’d be here anyway, I haven’t called since I left Dewford.’
‘There’s no way we were going to let you run off out of Slateport without saying Happy Birthday. Professor Oak here used a little known feature of your PokéDex’ Laughed Ash’s mother. At this point Professor Oak cut in, an excited glint in his eye.
‘There’s a tracking beacon built in to every PokéDex issued to Pokémon League certified trainers. The trainers are never told, since they never really get used except in emergencies. Your mother didn’t want to miss you on your birthday, so she came and asked me what to do. I decided to bend the rules and use the tracker; we couldn’t believe our luck when we saw you were in Slateport City Pokémon Centre.’
‘Wow’ said Ash impressed, ‘I never knew about that. Thanks for making the effort Mum’
‘I’ve got your presents here of course; I can send them along to you if you like. There’s mine and your fathers of course, one from Professor Oak, one from Tracey, and I think this one is from Misty. I’m not sure, but it’s stamped by the Cerulean City express post service. Would you like me to send them through?’ Ash’s mum explained. Ash nodded in reply. Professor Oak walked out of view for a moment. Behind him, out in the main room, a loud humming was beginning, steadily rising, then, as suddenly as it had started, the noise ceased. Ash glanced briefly out of the cubicle; his four presents had materialised on the cargo platform, transported instantly from Pallet Town. Ash turned back to the telephone.
‘Thanks Mum. And thank you Professor.’ Ash thanked them warmly.
‘That’s ok Ash, just keep up the good work, and enjoy your birthday. Goodbye for now!’ said the Professor. Ash bade them farewell, and turned off the phone.
At around dusk that evening, Brock lead Ash out on the Pokémon Centre’s balcony, which looked out over Slateport Bay to the south. A long table was creaking under the weight of what seemed like thousands of dishes. It seemed Brock had surpassed himself, all of Ash’s favourite foods were there, but there were also others from all around the world, many of which Ash had never even heard of before, all cooked to perfection. May, Max, Mr Briney and Nurse Joy were already seated along the table, their faces lit by the glow of dozens of colourful Pokémon-shaped tiki lanterns which were hung all around the balcony. In pride of place in the centre of the table was a massive cake, shaped like a Pikachu. From the Pikachu’s mouth came a speech bubble, reading ‘Happy Birthday Ash’, a candle burnt on each of the Pikachu’s cheeks, and candles outlined the Pikachu’s lightening- bolt shaped tail.
‘Thanks you guys, this is incredible.’ Said Ash, stunned.
‘Most of the credit should go to Brock,’ Piped up Max, as Ash seated himself at the head of the table, ‘Brock really knows how to throw a good party, and we already know the foods going to be good.’
‘Thanks Max,’ said Brock blushing, ‘But the food won’t eat itself, so dig in everyone!’
That evening was by far one of the best birthdays Ash had ever had. The warm calm night air, coupled with the soft festive glow of the lanterns, as well as the sight of the moon rising far off over the bay made Ash feel almost like he was back travelling in the Orange Archipelago again. Towards the end of the evening Brock rose to his feet, and raised his glass to toast Ash.
‘Here’s to you Ash. Happy Birthday, and may you have many more adventures in store.’ Brock said. Brock drained his glass in silence. The others likewise raised their glasses, and four voices chorused ‘Happy Birthday’. There was silence along the table as each reflected upon their time together with Ash. Brock remained silent long after everyone else had begun talking again, staring unseeingly in to his plate, lost in thought. Nurse Joy, who was seated closest to Brock, always swore long afterwards that as Brock thought back, she caught him utter, ‘I hope you find what you’re looking for’, though it was a long time before she would learn the story behind the words. Only a loud shout from Max eventually brought Brock back to his senses, he looked up slowly, seeming to be surprised to see so many people on the balcony around him.
‘C’mon Ash, we want to see you open your presents’ Max cried. Ash reached beneath the table and drew out one of the presents he had received from Pallet Town earlier.
‘This one’s from my Mum and Dad,’ said Ash, reading the gift tag. Ash tore the silver wrapping paper off the present, revealing a glossy black box. Across the top of the box was written in bold red letters ‘Silph. Co. Official PokéGear’.
‘Wow,’ Max exclaimed, moving up the table to get a better look, ‘I’ve heard of these, they’re like a mobile phone, designed for Pokémon trainers with heaps of useful stuff trainers would need, like maps, and a radio. I’ve heard they’re really expensive, and hard to get hold of too.’ Ash pushed the box to one side, and pulled out another present, this time from Ash’s friend Tracey, this contained a PokéNav identical to the one carried around by Max. Ash placed this on top of the PokéGear box, and picked up a third present. As Ash unwrapped the present, a small handwritten note fell out. Ash abandoned unwrapping the present and read the note. It was brief but neat, and Ash felt that the handwriting was vaguely familiar. This is what the note said;
‘Happy Birthday Ash, I’m sure this
will be helpful in catching that elusive
Pokémon, from Professor Samuel Oak’
‘This one’s from Professor Oak, wonder what he’s got for me?’ said Ash, unwrapping the present. It turned out to be a small hand-held telescope, about the size of a small flashlight. Ash held it up to his eye and gazed out towards the bay, and gasped. A green crosshairs was illuminated in the centre of the lens, and whenever he pointed it at something, bright green writing would appear at the bottom of the display, telling him how far away it was.
‘How is it?’ asked Brock, looking at the scope curiously.
‘Looks great, it’ll be better in daylight though.’ Said Ash, pointing it here and there.
‘Hold on,’ said Brock. Brock reached over and pushed a small green button on the scope. Instantly, the relative darkness of the bay turned an eerie green. ‘Night vision,’ said Brock, satisfied. Ash finally put down the scope, and pulled out the last present, this one was larger and heavier than the others, and wrapped in paper patterned with waves. As Ash tore the wrapping from this present, a card fell from it to the ground. Ash picked up the card, and opened it. Inside it read:
It’s so hard to believe we’ve been friends
for 4 years. It seems like only yesterday I
caught you with my fishing rod at Tohjo Falls.
I’m sure you’ve made lots of friends in Hoenn
to help you on your way, but, if you ever find
yourself alone, just remember; you’re never really
alone because you’ve got me.
Love from Misty’
Ash smiled as he read this, as he read the last few words a chill ran down his spine. He had heard these words before, maybe in a dream, but they stirred something in him, ‘you’re never really alone because you’ve got me…’ Ash found it extremely hard to put the card down, once he finally managed it (he took care to stow the card out of sight so no one else could read it), he turned his attention to the present. The box was black, with a yellow stripe down the middle, but otherwise it was bare. Ash lifted the lid to reveal nine gleaming PokéBalls. These were no ordinary PokéBalls however, these were black, and along the top ran two yellow lines, stretching diagonally away from each other and meeting again on the opposite side of the ball. Above the yellow opening button was a large white ‘U’. Ash lifted one of the PokéBalls and examined it. It was rather heavier than a normal PokéBall, and Ash found it far easier to balance in his hand.
‘Those are Ultra Balls.’ Said Brock, ‘They’re used for catching really strong or really rare Pokémon. They’re also the most expensive kind of ball, and the Pokémon League will only distribute them to Pokémon Marts at certain cities at later stages in the Pokémon League Championship. That way a trainer can only attempt to capture strong Pokémon when their own are at a high enough level to battle them.’
‘Misty sent them to me. I wonder why? Still, they could be useful though.’ Ash said thoughtfully, pondering Misty’s note and the present. Brock turned to the others.
‘I’m sorry to break up the party everyone, but I think now is the time for bed for all of us. We’ve got lots of work to do tomorrow; we’ve got to get ready to head off to Mauville City. I want all of you up bright and early tomorrow.’ Brock said, turning to May, Max and Ash.
‘Arr, I’d better be goin’ too.’ Said Mr Briney, ‘I’ve got a cruise ter be goin’ on tomorrow.’
‘And I’ve got to go and close down everything downstairs. It’s well past curfew, and I don’t want loads of people coming in during the night expecting food and beds,’ said Nurse Joy.
Ash thanked Nurse Joy and Mr Briney, bade them goodnight, and headed down to his bedroom with the others. As Ash lay in his bed that night, he thought back happily about all the friends he’d met along his journey, and silently thanked Team Rocket for not messing up the best birthday of his life. With this thought in his mind, Ash fell asleep.
At around four in the morning, Ash awoke, feeling bright and refreshed, if not a little disappointed that his birthday was over. May and Max were sleeping soundly in the bunk across from him, a thin silvery beam of moonlight falling on May’s sleeping face through the small circular skylight in the roof. Something didn’t feel quite right though, the room felt strangely empty. His first thought was Pikachu, but Pikachu was lying curled up in the crook of Ash’s knees. Ash climbed out of bed quietly so as not to wake anyone, and checked the bunk above him. Brock was gone, and his bed was still made; he had not been to bed yet. Ash wiped the sleep from his eyes, and went out in to the Pokémon Centre’s lounge. The lounge was a large room, lit by the light of many small lights in the roof. In the centre of the room was a large depression like an amphitheatre, which stepped down gradually to a table at the base of the depression. On each step was a padded seat. When Ash entered the room, it at first seemed to be deserted. As his eyes adjusted however, he noticed that a small lamp had been placed on the table, and seated on the lowest step, huddled over the table were Brock and Nurse Joy, deeply immersed in a whispered conversation. Brock heard the bedroom door open, and looked up as Ash entered the room, beckoning him over.
‘What is it Ash? Can’t you sleep?’ asked Nurse Joy, looking concerned.
‘No, I just woke up and wondered where Brock was.’
‘We’ve been busy trying to plan the next stage of the journey. Going to Mauville City shouldn’t be too much trouble, but after that it’s a long and difficult road. The land up north gets very rough in places, and Pokémon Centres are few and far between. We’re worried about the weather too, it gets pretty nasty up north, its unpredictable and when it does rain it can go on for weeks or months on end, especially in winter.’ Brock paused for a moment, and sighed before continuing. ‘One thing will make it easier for us though, there’s only going to be three of us. May and Max were going to tell you today, but I think they were too nervous. May’s found a school for Pokémon Coordinators here in town, and she’s decided to enrol so that she can learn enough to compete at the Contest Hall here. Max wants to stay with her I guess. Now, bed for both of us I think, otherwise we’ll sleep all day tomorrow.’ Ash and Brock bade goodnight to Nurse Joy, who gave Brock a swift kiss on the cheek before going off to bed. Ash followed Brock back to their bedroom, his head still swimming with the thought that he would soon have to farewell May and Max.
January 2nd, 2008, 10:30 PM
Captain Stern’s Tale
Ash rose rather later next morning, to find Brock bustling around, trying to wake up May and Max. The first signs of life came from Max’s bed. There was a loud yawn, followed moments later by Max emerging bleary-eyed from a mountain of blankets. Max rose and was in the middle of getting dressed when May also appeared, not from her bed but through the bedroom door from the lounge. Ash blinked and shook his head, May was standing in the doorway, yet he could have sworn that only moments before he had seen her fast asleep in her bed. The explanation soon became apparent as May went over and began folding the colossal pile of clothes stacked all over her bed, which was what Ash had taken to be the sleeping form of May. Ash shook his head, wondering how anyone could possible accumulate such a large collection of clothes, then began tidying his corner of the room. The packaging and instructions for his PokéNav and PokéGear seemed to have been spread over a fairly wide area the night before, Ash had been unable to sleep for a long time after his conversation with Brock, so he had spent most of the time examining his presents.
Brock kept everyone busy that morning, organising supplies, running over endless lists of supplies; occasionally he would find that they were missing something, and send one of them out to the shops to get it. Ash was spared having to go out for most of the morning; he spent most of the time helping Brock pack. It soon became apparent that May and Max knew Brock had told Ash they were leaving, they never mentioned it to him directly, but nor did they try to hide it either; occasionally they would talk about arrangements for moving in at the school’s accommodation centre. Max was kept busier than most during the morning, for whenever Brock sent someone out to the shops, Max always had to go with them with the PokéNav to help find their way. Slateport was a low, sprawling city, but it was very wide and the seemingly endless twists and turns of the cobbled alleyways in the market made it very easy to get lost.
By mid-morning, Max was far too tired to go out anymore, and Ash instead was chosen to go to the PokéMart to buy some Super Potion and Antidote. Taking his own PokéNav, Ash set out with only Pikachu for company, who seemed to enjoy the salty air and strange smells of the port; it was constantly running here and there to investigate some new scent. Ash took his time wandering through the market, looking at the many shops and stalls lining the pathways. Eventually he came clear of the market. Checking the map, Ash could see that he had come out on the east side of the city, right near the PokéMart. Before entering, Ash’s eyes were drawn momentarily to the large submarine dock next door to the PokéMart. A single periscope sliced through the water, coming in from the east. As it approached the dock, the periscope vanished. Ash shrugged and stepped through the large sliding doors of the PokéMart.
The PokéMart was basically like a huge shopping centre, completely devoted to Pokémon items, it carried just about every item a trainer could need. As Ash wandered through the aisles, looking for Super Potions, he overheard a pair of men talking excitedly together in hushed voices. As he passed, Ash caught a few words of the conversation.
‘…Yes, Captain Stern’s due back from his underwater expedition today…’
‘…I hear he was out on Route 128 wasn’t he?’
Ash thought of the single periscope he had seen, then of what the men had said about this Captain Stern being on Route 128. He pulled out his PokéNav, and guided the small cursor over Route 128. It was a large stretch of water which connected Mossdeep City, Sootopolis, and Evergrande City together. However, it was completely bare, with absolutely no landmarks whatsoever. Ash couldn’t see what an underwater expedition in a place like that would accomplish, and continued to think about it all the way back to the Pokémon Centre.
‘Have fun Ash?’ Brock asked as Ash entered.
‘Yeah, it was great to get out and stretch my legs after being in bed all afternoon yesterday. I think Pikachu enjoyed the city too, didn’t you Pikachu?’
‘Pika!’ chirped Pikachu from Ash’s shoulder.
‘Did you get the Super Potion and Antidote?’
Ash handed over the bags, and slumped down on a chair next to Max.
Not long after Ash’s return, just as he and the others had sat down to lunch, a car was heard pulling up outside. Nurse Joy, who was busy on the computer at the main desk, looked up briefly, trying to see the car through the window. A car door slammed, and Nurse Joy’s face broke in to a warm smile.
‘My sisters arrived, come to take over for me.’ She said, turning to the others. The front doors slid open, and a girl entered. Her face was almost identical to the Nurse Joy behind the counter, but there was something in the new Joy’s face, she looked slightly younger. Her red hair, identical to Nurse Joy’s as well, was drawn up in to two ponytails.
‘Sasha, how are you? It’s great to see you again.’ The younger Joy greeted her sister warmly.
‘I’m just great, and congratulations on getting your Pokémon Care Diploma. These are Ash, Brock, May and Max.’ Said Sasha Joy, pointing to each of them in turn.
‘Oh hi! It’s nice to finally meet all of you,’ Said the younger Joy. ‘So you’re Brock.’ She continued, examining him closely. ‘Well I must admit, you’ve got good taste.’ She said, addressing her sister this time. Sasha giggled and blushed slightly.
‘I suppose you’d like me to show you around, it’s a pretty big place here.’ Said Sasha, rapidly regaining her composure.
‘No, you don’t need to worry about that,’ Said her sister, waving her hand dismissively. ‘I’ve already seen all the blueprints, right now I wouldn’t mind getting something to eat, I’m starving after that awful car trip.
‘There’s plenty to eat, you can join the others for lunch if you like.’ Said Sasha. ‘And, if you’re ready, you can take over here starting tomorrow, then we’ll be able to leave, won’t we Brock?’ Sasha turned to him questioningly.
‘Yeah, we’re just about set to leave, as long as May and Max are, I want to make sure they’re ready when we are, in case they need any help.’ Said Brock.
‘We’ll be ready to leave as long as we put in some hard work this afternoon.’ Said May.
‘What do you mean “we”? You never do any of the work; I’m the one who always has to run around sorting everything out for us!’ said Max indignantly. That set off one of May and Max’s arguments, which lasted all through lunch. Nurse Joy’s sister glanced at Brock uncertainly, Brock gave a small smile and a shrug, and continued eating his lunch.
The next morning dawned grey and overcast. There was no rain, but the washy grey of the clouds hinted at rain in the near future. Ash woke early, yet his bedroom was already empty. As soon as he realised what day it was, his stomach gave an odd lurch. Today was farewell to May and Max. Ash checked to make sure everything was safely stowed in his pack, and was busy fastening his cloak around his neck when Sasha came in. She was no longer wearing her nurse’s uniform and apron, she now wore a pair of blue jeans and a green t-shirt. Ash thought she looked much nicer for the change.
‘Good morning Ash. Brock’s busy getting breakfast ready, once breakfast’s finished, we’ll be leaving.’ She said brightly.
‘Good morning Nurse, and thanks.’ Said Ash.
‘Oh no Ash, you don’t have to call me nurse anymore, just call me Sasha. My sister’s the Nurse here now.’ Said she.
Ash hoisted his pack off the bed, and held out his arm for Pikachu. Pikachu gave a joyful cry and climbed up Ash’s arm on to his shoulder. It too sensed they were getting ready to leave, and it was excited. Pikachu safely resting on his shoulder, Ash followed Sasha out in to the lounge, which was full of the delicious smell of bacon and eggs. Ash looked around for Brock, and soon found him in the staff kitchen.
‘Nothing like bacon and eggs before a journey!’ cried Brock cheerfully.
‘Especially when it’s being cooked by the finest chef in all of Hoenn, Johto and Kanto put together.’ Said Ash. Brock blushed, but he also looked rather pleased.
Ash turned at the sound of the front doors opening, and saw May and Max entering looking rather windswept, there was obviously a strong sea breeze blowing outside. Ash left the kitchen, and went out to the lounge to greet them.
‘Just taking the last of our stuff over to the school.’ Said Max, in response to a questioning look from Ash. The usually cheerful note in Max’s voice seemed to have disappeared.
‘Don’t sound so down Max. It’s not as bad as all that, look at Ash. He always has to farewell friends along his journey, but they often turn up again when you least expect it.’ Said Brock as he entered the lounge, carrying a tray laden with mounds of bacon and eggs.
There was a rather uncomfortable silence while they ate breakfast that morning. Only Sasha looked remotely cheerful that morning, although she made a creditable attempt at looking as solemn as everyone else. Once all the food was eaten (this took very little time), and once all the dishes had been cleared away (this took rather longer, and resulted in another hurried argument between May and Max), all five of them gathered together in the lounge, packs on their backs.
‘I’m afraid its time guys.’ Said Brock.
‘I can’t take goodbyes, so I’ll make this quick. ‘Said Max. ‘I’ll just say this, thanks for all the fun and adventures, and good luck. I hope you become a great Pokémon Master Ash. And…’ Ash looked at Max expectantly. ‘When I become a gym leader, be sure to come and give me a match, ok?’
‘Thanks Max, I will. Just make sure you’re ready for me ok. And May, good luck with your Pokémon Coordination, don’t work too hard at school whatever you do.’ Said Ash, whose voice sounded rather more hoarse than usual.
The five of them stepped outside. The strong sea breeze outside was blowing clouds of sand northward across the city, making it hard to see anything properly.
‘Well I guess we’ll see you around, I hope.’ Said Brock.
‘See ‘ya later.’ Said Ash.
‘Bye!’ chorused May and Max, who turned to the south and walked off towards the school, and the sea. One strong gust of wind, and May and Max were hidden from view. There was a moments silence as Ash stood facing Slateport Bay, and then he turned his back on the south and set off Northward. After about half an hour, Ash stopped.
‘Hey guys!’ he called to Brock and Sasha who were a little way behind.
‘What is it?’ asked Brock as the pair came running up.
‘There’s something going on over at the Submarine Corporation I saw yesterday, check it out!’ A dozen or so reporters and camera men were crowding around a tall, stern looking man who was standing in the open doorway of the building. It seemed that they were trying to interview him, but he didn’t seem to want to be very forthcoming in front of so many people.
‘Yes, yes, quite an extraordinary discovery indeed. No, please, you’ll have to organise a private interview another time, I’m really quite busy at the moment...’ the man was saying as they approached. This was followed by another hurried volley of questions, at which point the man began trying to push his way past the camera crews, who seemed to be putting up quite a good resistance. The whole scene froze in an instant, as a loud voice blared through a megaphone.
‘Freeze right there Captain! All you others, clear out or the trouble starts.’ There were screams and yells from the journalists as they all began scrambling to escape down side streets. Ash gasped.
‘Pikachu, that voice. It’s that same Team Aqua thug we met before, I’m sure it is.’
‘That goes for you three too!’ said the voice warningly.
‘Pikachu, can you tell where the voice is coming from?’ Ash asked urgently. Pikachu looked directly at the roof of the building opposite the submarine bay. Ash followed Pikachu’s gaze, and he understood. The building had a low, flat roof, around the roof was built a low stone wall so that people could stand on the roof and look far away across the bay and to other lands beyond. Ash figured that the wall would be just high enough for a man to conceal himself behind, if he was crouching.
‘Pikachu, Thunderbolt it!’ Ash cried. Pikachu placed its paws on its cheeks and screwed up its eyes in concentration, next moment a bright yellow charge of electricity was hurled straight in to the wall, ruining a large section of it and throwing up a large cloud of dust and debris. Peering through the haze Ash saw the dim outline of a man hurrying away from the wall.
‘Don’t just stand there, come on, follow me.’ Shouted the Captain. As quietly and quickly as they could, Ash, Brock and Sasha followed the Captain, down a maze of dark, winding backstreets and alleyways, until, eventually, they came out in to the open, at least three blocks north from the Submarine Corporation. Ahead of them rose a large, very old looking red brick building of a strange architecture; it was clearly far older than any of the other buildings surrounding it. Ash barely had time to read the sign over the door, which read ‘Oceanic Museum’, before he was ushered inside. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the museum, Ash glimpsed row upon row of exhibits, showing many things, all which seemed to have some relationship or other with the sea. He barely had time to take in any of this, soon he was following the captain up a narrow stairway, and then through a wooden door. On the door was a plaque and a sign. The plaque read ‘Capt. G.R. Stern’; the sign read ‘No Unauthorised Personnel’ in bold red letters. As soon as they were all in side, the Captain shut the door smartly behind them, locked and bolted the door, and proceeded to a desk at the far end of the room. On the desk was a phone, this the Captain took, and hurriedly dialled a number.
‘Officer Jenny, its Stern. Team Aqua tried to corner me at the press conference, I’m ok and safely back at the museum, try and get some people over at the Corporation, though its probably to late. They’re sure to have cleared out by now.’ Captain Stern nodded several times, and hung up. Then he turned on the others.
‘Thanks for all of your help back there. If it wasn’t for your quick thinking, Team Aqua would probably have me by now.’ Said the Captain.
‘No problem. My name’s Ash Ketchum and these are my friends Brock and Sasha.’ Said Ash. As Ash gave his name, a strange look of understanding passed over the Captains face, but was soon smoothed over.
‘Ah, yes. Sasha I know, it’s nice to meet you two as well. My name is Gerald Stern. Don’t let the name fool you though, I’m not as stern as all that.’ Said Stern. The others laughed politely at the joke, bad though it was.
‘Why was Team Aqua after you anyway?’ asked Ash. Captain Stern was silent for a moment as he pondered his answer.
‘Well, you did help me, so I guess I owe you an explanation.’ Stern sighed. ‘Have a seat, and I’ll fill you in, as best I can.’ The others obediently sat down at the desk opposite Stern.
‘It’s like this,’ the Captain continued. ‘Recently, rumours have been coming through here (I’m not sure where from), about a great secret, lying hidden in a remote section of Route 127. Some muttered about the lair of some ancient, incredibly powerful Pokémon, one that Team Aqua would go to any lengths to get their hands on. It became apparent to us immediately, that if it was something that Team Aqua wanted, it would probably be in the best interest of everyone else to make sure that they didn’t get hold of it.’
‘What do you mean, it became apparent to us?’ Brock interrupted.
‘I’m part of a small group of people dedicated to preserving aquatic life; Pokémon and animals.’ Stern explained. ‘We have access to a lot of information, which, well… It isn’t the kind of thing the rest of the world should know about. This information allowed us to take quite a shrewd guess about what this great secret was. Our group has come in to possession of some ancient texts, which we have long believed indicate the presence of a great power dwelling south of Mossdeep city, a power which could control the rains and the sea. These texts agree with an ancient legend in Hoenn. The legend goes that somewhere in Hoenn dwells the two great powers; the Power of the sea, and the Power of the land. I knew the only way to be certain though was to go and explore the region ourselves, so I organised a secret underwater expedition in our brand new submarine, and we left in the dead of night, some fourteen days ago. Somehow, Team Aqua got news of our departure, and was on our tails on the third day of our expedition. We managed to lose them, or so we thought, in a great underwater chasm, and on the morning of the fourth day we arrived on Route 127. All the rumours suggested that what we were searching for lay some few miles south of the coast of Mossdeep City. For three whole days we searched without success, and then, on the eighth day of our expedition, we found what we had been seeking. Two islands, which appeared on none of our charts, and yet they lay there before us. One was nothing but a huge rocky mass thrust upwards from the sea in the shape of a crescent moon. The other was barely more than a sandbar, indeed, when we first arrived the island was completely submerged, only when the tide was low could it be seen, a perfect yellow sphere of sand, lying in the bay formed by the crescent island. We named the islands the Sun and Moon islands for their shape. Our search of the Moon Island revealed nothing but a small hole, barely a foot wide, which looked in to a desolate cave. We found nothing that is, until we dived. On the surface, the islands appeared small, but beneath the water we found that Moon Island was vast, stretching several miles northward in a smooth rock shelf. On the southern side of the shelf we found what we had sought, a large entrance to the shelf, far bigger than our submarine. We entered, discovering an underground beach, deep beneath the surface of the island. We came ashore and began exploring the vast labyrinth of caves beneath the island. Our searches were fruitless, finding nothing but empty caves, until, at around dusk, one of our men radioed back to the submarine, saying that he had discovered the lair of an ancient Pokémon, deep in the heart of the island, but that the Pokémon was lying dormant. We had found the lair of the great power of the sea, Kyogre, Team Aqua’s ultimate goal. Kyogre is the Pokémon mentioned in the legends, which has power over the rain and the storm. With this power Team Aqua would be able to realise their dream of enlarging the world’s oceans. We recalled all our men within the hour, and left the island in haste. But the worst was yet to come; even as we drove westwards for Slateport, looking behind us we saw the whole island, swarming with people from Team Aqua. There was nothing we could do against so many, so instead we travelled in all haste to Slateport city, and arrived in port yesterday afternoon. I fear that Team Aqua has seen our submarine’s manifest, perhaps even has spies in the Submarine Corporation, for they knew I was on board. They may even now know all we have discovered, and worked so hard for.’
‘That’s awful.’ Brock exclaimed. ‘But how could Team Aqua ever hope to control a legendary Pokémon like Kyogre?’
‘With the power of the Indigo Orb.’ Stern explained. ‘There are two Orbs, which once rested atop Mount Pyre, the highest mountain in Hoenn. These Orbs are brother and sister to those which rest in the shrine on Shamouti Island; I believe you know of these Ash? Yes, I recognised your name from the news bulletins during that crisis. Anyway, these two Orbs, the Indigo and Rose Orbs, both of these hold great power, and both influence the two great powers here in Hoenn; Groudon, the power of the land, and Kyogre, the power of the sea. The Rose Orb has the power to awaken Kyogre from its long sleep, but alone the Rose Orb will bring only madness and rage to the creature. The Indigo Orb holds the power to control and calm Kyogre. The opposite is true for Groudon, as the two powers are opposites, so are the effects of the Orbs. Several months ago, these two Orbs disappeared from atop Mount Pyre. We knew that either Team Aqua or Team Magma was responsible, and for a while there was much confusion as the two groups fought for control of the Orbs. Soon however the fighting ceased and it seemed to us more probable that Team Aqua now held both the Orbs, for they have the greater strength of numbers. Still, we were not sure, and it was long until we could be certain. A good friend of mine, who is passionate about the water, and the Pokémon which dwell within it, and so naturally a member of our group, volunteered to infiltrate Team Aqua to find out the truth. She confirmed our fears, but, to our good fortune she was able to recover the Indigo Orb from Team Aqua, and escape undetected. She then fled Hoenn, preferring to return home to Kanto to hide the Indigo Orb. Team Aqua realise the danger of using the Rose Orb without the Indigo, and now the majority of their strength is bent towards recovering it. I am worried for my friend, and of what will happen to her when, as is inevitable, Team Aqua discovers that she possesses the Orb.’
There was silence across the table, as the full weight of the situation fell upon each of them in turn. Ash, practical minded as usual, was the first to speak.
‘What can we do, we must be able to help somehow?’ Ash cried.
‘Unfortunately there is very little we can do. It is far too dangerous to attempt contacting my friend, sending a letter is far too risky, and Team Aqua may have tapped in to the phone lines. Unless…’ Captain Stern paused, a thoughtful look on his face. ‘There is something, it would be asking you to sacrifice much and I do not expect you to do it for me. You could travel to Kanto for me, and warn my friend in person. That is the only safe way of getting a message through. But it would be a long and dangerous journey; the ferry from here is not safe, so you would have to travel by land.’
‘But the distances are tremendous!’ Brock exclaimed. ‘How on earth would we be able to make it in time?’
‘There is no guarantee that you would, we can only hold on to hope.’ Replied Stern quietly.
‘What do you think Brock?’ said Sasha, ‘Should we risk it?’ Brock looked thoughtful, and Ash knew Brock well enough to see that he was already formulating a plan.
‘I think,’ Brock said slowly, ‘You and Ash are probably strong enough for the journey, and Captain Stern is right, it will be a very tough journey. If we go as quickly as possible, and stay out of sight of the main roads as much as we can, we just might beat Team Aqua there.’
‘It’s agreed then?’ asked Stern. Brock turned to Ash.
‘It’s up to you, what do you say?’ said Brock. The brave, adventurous look had kindled in Ash’s eyes again, and they seemed to burn with a fire Brock had never seen, and he did not hesitate in replying.
‘I say we should do whatever it takes to help someone in trouble.’ Said Ash, and it was agreed.
‘All we need to know is, where is your friend, and how will we know her?’ said Brock.
Captain Stern leant across the desk slightly, and lowered his voice.
‘Ok, now listen carefully, and remember. My friend can be found at the Pokémon Gym in Cerulean City, and her name is Misty.’ Stern said.
‘What!’ exclaimed Ash, ‘Misty’s in danger? C’mon, let’s go!’ Ash jumped from his seat.
‘You know Misty?’ said Stern, mystified. ‘But she’s never mentioned…’
‘There’s no time for that now, we have to go!’ Ash cut in, then turned his back and raced from the room. Brock turned to Stern at the door.
‘You can count on us Captain, we’ll get to Misty in time, and I reckon, if we can get Ash to keep going at that pace all the way, we shouldn’t have any problems with Team Aqua.’ Said Brock, who turned to the door, took Sasha’s hand in his and followed Ash out of the room and the museum.
January 2nd, 2008, 10:57 PM
Brock and Sasha followed the distant form of Ash north through the city, and did not catch him until they reached the northern gates of the city. Ash was panting hard, and seemed to have forgotten about Brock and Sasha completely.
‘Slow down Ash.’ Brock panted as they came running up. ‘We can’t just go blazing off like this, we have to have plans.’
‘Brock, Misty could be in trouble, we’ve got to go help!’ Ash exclaimed.
‘Yes, I know. But you can’t just go wearing yourself out in huge sprints like that. Misty knows how to take care of herself, we know that much. And it’s going to take us almost a fortnight to get to Cerulean City. So just calm down, we’ll make it ok.’ These words seemed to bring Ash back to his senses; he was content to follow Brock and Sasha along the road northwards.
The trio walked at a fairly easy pace all morning, the northward route from Slateport was a very pleasant one. On either side of the road was a lightly wooded forest of mainly oaks and beech trees, but here and there were dotted towering silver birches. Birds chirruped away happily, flitting from time to time across the path before them, and occasionally, far off, could be heard the call of Pidgey’s and Spearow. Pikachu in particular seemed to enjoy the walk, it soon grew tired of resting on Ash’s shoulder, preferring to wander along on the path beside Ash, occasionally chasing a passing butterfly, or, and this highly amused Sasha, occasionally a speck of dust, glittering in the sunlight would fly past, and Pikachu would chase it, Pikachu’s slipstream always pushing it further and further away. They continued on in this way until lunch time, when Brock lead them off the road in to a clearing on the left side of the path. The clearing was beautiful, just like the surrounding forest. Small star-like flowers dotted the springy grass, thriving on the dappled green sunlight filtering through the canopy above them. Brock offered to cook lunch, but both Ash and Sasha refused, their breakfast still heavy in their stomachs.
‘Now,’ said Brock, ‘Time to get down to business.’ He reached into his pack and drew out three very large maps, one each of Hoenn, Johto and Kanto. Ash looked at the large map of Hoenn with interest; it looked so different to seeing it on the small screen of his PokéNav.
‘Ok. This is where we are now, just north of Slateport City.’ Said Brock, jabbing his finger at a point on the map. ‘Now, I’ve been thinking about how we’re going to get from here to Cerulean City. Since water travel from Slateport is too dangerous, I think there’s only one choice.’ Brock continued, leaning close over the maps, and motioning for the others to do likewise. ‘First of all, we’re going to need to get to Mauville City. That shouldn’t be too hard, but it gets worse after that. Instead of heading west from Mauville City as we had planned, we head east of Mauville for a little, until we hit Route 119.’ Brock paused, indicating Route 119 on the map. It looked to Ash to be a long, straight stretch of road, travelling northward all the way to Fortree City. ‘Route 119 is going to be tricky, there’s usually heavy rain along the road in this season, and there’s nowhere to rest along the way except for a tiny inn. After Fortree, the weather gets better, and it shouldn’t take us more than a few hours or so to get to Lilycove City from Fortree. That’s when the danger begins I’m afraid. We’re going to have to risk the ferry, at least as far as Evergrande City. That’s on the same island as Cianwood City, and right on the Hoenn – Johto territorial border. Once we’re in Johto we’ll have to risk another ferry to get to Olivine City on the mainland. Once we’re there we shouldn’t have much trouble getting to Cerulean City, I’ll hire a car, then Sasha and I can drive the rest of the way to Kanto. With good luck we should be able to get through in about a fortnight. With good luck mind you.’
‘You make it all sound so easy. This plan is presuming that we have no interference from Team Aqua, and what are the chances of that?’ said Sasha.
‘They’re not as bad as you might think. The Team Aqua guy that Ash Thunder-bolted will have seen us go off with Captain Stern, and he will have informed the others by now, but they don’t know what we plan to do. I think he’s quite underestimated us every time we’ve run in to him, and that might give us an advantage,’ said Brock. ‘But, if they do guess we’re going to help Stern, that’ll help Misty too. The more attention Team Aqua is paying to trying to catch us, the less attention they’re paying to finding Misty. It works either way. Still, I’d rather not be caught; I’ve heard they can be dangerous if they think someone is interfering.’ That ended the discussion, as they all felt tired from the excitement of the morning; one by one they lay down and fell asleep in the warm sunshine.
Not long after the sun had set, just as a dim grey twilight was falling over the land, Brock roused the others, and they continued their journey northward beneath a glittering tapestry of stars. They journeyed in much the same fashion for two nights, long marches from dusk until dawn, for the most part passing through woodlands and grassy fields with an occasional glimpse of the sea in the distance on either side of the road. At the first light of dawn they would settle down to sleep for the day, hidden in some hollow or clearing until dusk, when Brock would wake them once more.
On the third day of their journey, Brock announced that they would be travelling by day, as they were approaching Mauville City and he wished to buy some supplies. Even as Brock spoke, Ash noticed the trees thinning on either side of him, then, as they rounded a bend in the road, the plains opened out below them in the bright morning sun shine. Looking west Ash saw the dim silhouette of a mountain range marching north and west, at the peak of the range, he could see a volcano, smoking slightly. Turning north, he saw the city of Mauville spread out below him, to the east marched dark pine forests, and a single silver ribbon of a river flowing through the trees. Dark storm clouds brooded over the east.
They spent most of the morning working their way steadily downhill towards Mauville City. This took longer than they had thought, for the road wound much, and there were cliffs and sharp rocky outcroppings on either side, so it was impossible to take any shortcuts. By lunch time, they were still a fair way from Mauville City, so they sat down to lunch in the shade of a large oak tree by the roadside. Since they had been gone only three days, Brock thought there was still little danger of anyone following them, so they might as well relax for a while. Ash took this opportunity gratefully, for his legs were still rather stiff from his fall a few days ago, and released his Pokémon to get some fresh air. Treeko and Corphish, who were fast getting over their previous differences and becoming good friends, began a play-battle, Sasha looked on laughing as first Corphish, then Treeko would hit the other with their weakest attack, and the other would then try and dodge as though their very life depended on it. The battle ended with Corphish chasing Treeko up a tree, where it sat smugly on one of the highest branches and teasing Corphish by throwing small bits of broken stick at it. While they sat relaxing by the roadside, people would pass them going both ways along the road, most were friendly enough, and some even stopped briefly to watch Corphish and Treeko chasing each other around the tree, but Brock would continue to watch the road from Slateport uneasily, and becoming momentarily tense whenever someone appeared on the road from the south. As the shadows began to lengthen with the afternoon, Brock got them all up, and they continued down the road, refreshed from the afternoons rest. Only an hour or so later, Ash, Sasha and Brock came to Mauville City itself.
Once they had entered the city, Brock insisted on going to the PokéMart for supplies. The PokéMart in Mauville, Ash noticed, was identical in layout and design to the one in Slateport City. Ash asked Brock whether all the Hoenn PokéMarts were the same, Ash was surprised to learn that all the worlds PokéMarts were identical, except for especially big cities or centres of trade. According to Brock, this was so that trainers would have no trouble adjusting as they travelled from city to city. As Brock wandered around collecting items, Ash noticed too that the range of items was almost identical. Once Brock had paid for their items, they were on the road again. Ash’s heart sank as they passed by the city’s gym, a huge, modern looking building; the doors to the gym were framed by lightening bolts. They had no time to stop in at the gym, and Ash resigned himself to the fact that it might be a long time before he earned a gym badge again. Their leisurely stroll through Mauville City brought them to its easternmost limits late in the afternoon. The sun was already dipping under the horizon behind them, shedding brilliant hues of orange and gold on the eastward road before them, sparkling in the drops of evening dew in the grass beside the path. After about an hour of brisk walking, just as the final rays of the sun began to fade in the distance, the dark fir trees Ash had spotted earlier that morning loomed before them. Into these the road led. It would have been a quiet, lonely walk in the calm, still evening, but, before the mood of the evening could truly take hold of them, the sound of running water reached their ears. Coming into a wide, shallow valley, they saw the river, wide, but not deep, running across their path. The river valley had a strange, closed in feeling, and Ash didn’t like it. The valley was very cold, and strange noises echoed from within the solid walls of dark green pines which marched down a short way in to the valley, coming to an abrupt end about half way down the valley’s slopes, where the water would, in mid winter, rage high up the banks, swollen by the torrential rains of the north. According to Brock, the entrance to Route 119 lay just beyond, and to the east of the valley, only half an hours walk from the valleys furthest slopes.
The three began wading through the river, which ran surprisingly fast, the water was far colder even than the air in the valley, and all soon felt their feet becoming numb and clumsy. As they approached the eastern banks of the river, Ash’s numb feet stumbled, and he fell face first in to the water. He got to his feet, spluttering, trying to blink the water out of his eyes. When he opened his eyes, he found himself gazing at the banks of the river a little to the north of where they stood, and he gasped. He was sure that, just as he had turned northward he had seen two, maybe three people creeping stealthily into the trees on their left, disappearing through some hidden gap in the trees. People wearing, or maybe by some trick of the strange light in the valley he only imagined it, dark blue bandanas. He blinked several more drops of water out of his eyes, and turned back to the north. There was nobody there. Shaking his head, Ash followed Brock and Sasha up the stony eastern banks of the river.
Beyond the valley, the road continued as it had all evening, pines stretching as far as the eye could see in every directing, the road fading in to blackness with the distance. There was no undergrowth, and Ash couldn’t imagine Pokémon wanting to live here, nor was it a hospitable place for people. The land was not harsh or difficult, it was even in its own way beautiful, but Ash felt that a strange silence lay over the wood, which did not welcome outsiders, not at all like the Ilex Forest, he thought to himself.
That evening, while they were eating dinner around their campfire, Ash told them in a hushed voice what he had seen. When Ash had finished his story, Brock spoke. He sounded worried.
‘I would’ve thought it was just the water in your eyes Ash,’ Brock began. Ash cut him off.
‘It wasn’t water Brock, I’m sure they were there!’ Brock continued patiently.
‘If you’ll let me finish Ash, I would have thought it was water, if I hadn’t seen several people following us before now, always by night, and always on our left. I think they’re on to us at last; if we’re lucky we’ll be able to lose them on Route 119. We’ll have a look around tomorrow and see what we can see.’
That night Brock was chosen to keep watch, but Ash told Pikachu to say awake with him as well, to try and pick up any elusive noises in the woods around their camp. They did this every night after that, two people asleep, one person and one Pokémon awake on watch. In the morning, Brock woke the two of them early. During the night there had been a light drizzle of rain, but no sign of any living thing. If they were being followed, their shadowers were laying low.
After breakfast, and a hot mug of cocoa, all three got up and followed the path from their camp back to the main road, and began walking eastwards once more. They were walking three abreast, for it was a wide road, with Ash on the left, looking down at the ground, rather than at the seemingly endless road before them, when he halted, and called to the others. Ash was looking down at something on the ground, with a queer look on his face. He had been walking along daydreaming, and not realising what he was looking at, his daydream had come to an abrupt end and he had found himself realising in horror what he had been seeing without noticing. Three sets of footprints, side by side and very close together, sunk in to the muddy ground on the left of the path. All three were leading eastwards. Brock examined them, what he found was not comforting. According to Brock the footprints could be no more than six hours old, for it had been raining hard before then and no footprints could have survived, what was worse was that Brock had been wide awake on watch then and had heard nothing. They were now heading eastwards, with three stealthy strangers somewhere ahead of them on the road.
After discovering the footprints, the three had been travelling eastwards for only around twenty minutes, when the road took a sharp turn northward. Ash looked north, and his heart sank.
A narrow muddy path wound away northwards through an open landscape, dotted with small copses of fir and birch trees. Not far off rose tall grass, so tall in fact that Ash could tell even from where he stood that when they entered it, it would rise almost over his head. The distance was grey and hazy, to the north, a heavy rain was falling. Beside the path stood a small, mouldy wooden sign on which they could barely make out the words ‘Route 119 Mauville – Fortree’
Their journey along Route 119 was one of the most miserable times of Ash’s life, fighting his way through shoulder high, rain soaked grass, climbing steep rocky embankments and crossing rickety wooden rope bridges back and forth across the river more times than Ash could remember, and always the torrential rains fell. By far the worst of it was the rocky slopes they would often have to climb to bypass the many loops in the road. The slopes were rough, with many hidden crevices and holes, the slopes themselves turned practically in to freezing waterfalls by the rain. Picking their way up these, Ash often slipped and was forced to grab on hard to the rock to prevent himself from falling, the wet stone cutting deeply in to his numb hands, which made it worse, for on the rare occasion when they were able to light a fire and warm their hands by it, the pain of his hands would return and he would cry out in pain. Sasha did her best to treat the wounds, but there was no way of stopping Ash getting more cuts. Brock told them that without the rocky climbs, it would take an extra three days to get to Fortree. Ash pleaded with Brock to take to the road, but Brock would only say that it was out of the question, and that they were all suffering as much as he was. Ash found this cruel, he was too miserable to see the sense in this, and thought only of them not realising the pain he was going through on the inside, knowing that Misty was in danger, and that Team Aqua members could be pouring in to the gym to take her, even as he walked. Minute after minute, hour after hour, each blended themselves in Ash’s mind until they became a dull grey haze which filled his mind and weighed heavily upon him. Only the thought that the road was every minute bringing him closer to Misty kept him going, the lone source of light in his darkening mind, the thought that, despite the wet days, freezing nights, and howling winds, he was getting closer. Misty’s face often flashed through his mind during that journey, just fleeting images from the past, often merely scenes from when they had been together, uneventful evenings around the campfire together, or walking side by side on the road, but they gave him the strength he needed to make that last effort before a rest. Music too there seemed at times to be borne on the breeze, haunting and familiar, yet elusive, it trilled in his subconscious, that part of him which was bearing the full brunt of the battering he was taking, but ever it escaped him as he sought for it with his waking thoughts. Day by day, hour by hour, Ash began to realise that even if ever he passed through this journey at all, he would never be the same again. The carefree joy of his past faded in to the grey twilight which was ever growing in his mind, his will and resolve hardened to the toil he was forced to endure. By night as they sat huddled together Ash willed the memories to return, for he knew the events had taken place, but the actual memories and sensations of the events had faded, and his mind grasped only upon empty shadows. Brock and Sasha seemed to be faring little better than Ash himself although, as Ash often though to himself, at least they had each other. This journey seemed to go on for years, hour after hour, repetitive, ever and anon forced to drive the sharp rocks deeper in to his tortured hands in order to hold on, until Ash had lost all reckoning of time, and finally, on a particularly freezing evening, after many unsuccessful attempts at lighting a fire, and not long after they had resigned themselves to trudging on through the night, they reached the inn that Brock had mentioned. As the inn came in to view Brock spoke, the first time anyone had spoken during the whole miserable day.
‘Here we are at last; it’s the inn from the map. We’ll stay here tonight.’ Brock said.
‘How long have we been out here?’ Ash asked.
‘This is our third day on Route 119; we should be in Fortree and out of here by tomorrow.’ Ash heaved a sigh of relief that no one heard over the raging winds.
The inn itself was barely more than a small house, with an even smaller flat built behind it for guests. The kindly old lady who ran the inn said they were more than welcome to spend the night in the flat, and everyone thanked her profusely. Everyone was very glad of being able to have hot water to wash in, as well as sleeping undercover in beds for the first time since they had left Slateport City, seven days ago. Once Ash had washed and eaten, he collapsed on his bunk and drifted into lethargy so complete that no one could get anything out of him for some time. Poor Pikachu couldn’t understand why Ash was so tired and miserable, and lay by his side all through the night to comfort him. In the morning however, Ash was greeted by better news. One glance out of the window told him that the rain was still falling, but Brock told him something far better at breakfast. The lady who ran the inn had invited them to breakfast in her house, and had offered to cook for them. As they ate steaming bowls of porridge, the lady told them that if they kept up a good pace during the day, they should reach Fortree City in about three hours. This cheered Ash up very slightly, although he found as he walked that a heavy weight hung still upon his mind and body, slowing his wits, driving him only to trudge onwards. Two hours of hard marching later, the road took a sharp bend eastwards, to their right. At first Ash’s heart plummeted, it was the greatest change in their road for almost four days, yet there seemed no end to the road. It seemed to him that the trees reared up before them, reaching high above their heads, thought they were merely walking through more woodland, until Brock announced that they had reached Fortree City. Ash looked around in disbelief, and then looked up.
The city of Fortree was one of the most unusual Ash had ever stayed in, though they were only there for the night. All of the houses and some of the shops too, had been built around the boughs of living trees, high up in the branches, so that from the ground, unless you looked up you could pass straight through the city without ever realising it. The trees themselves were the largest Ash had ever seen, they grew far higher than any pine or fir and very close together so that in places they formed a solid wall. In one particularly large place, completely walled in by one of these living walls, were the Pokémon Centre, PokéMart, and the Fortree City Gym. When the city had been built, people had hollowed out the insides of these trees, forming a maze of tunnels and gallery’s which connected the buildings to the rest of the city outside.
After leaving Fortree early next morning, Ash found the change in scenery from Route 119 to be almost dream-like. The dark grey rain clouds had been left behind, replaced instead by small fluffy white clouds skating across the sky in a strong updraft. The three passed crystal clear lakes of the deepest blue, and wide open fields studded with many-coloured flowers. The dark forests of pine were gone; they walked now through light woodlands of oaks and birches once more, and the sound of running water was everywhere, small, babbling brooks and streams, cascading over stones and through the deep undergrowth. On the evening of the ninth day, Ash, Sasha and Brock sat peacefully in a clearing, listening to the woodland noises around them. The deep cuts in Ash’s hands were aching and throbbing horribly. Although the others were drifting between sleeping and waking, Ahs was troubled and could not sleep. After a long time he began to pass in to a fevered doze, when the noise they had all been fearing ever since the day they left Slateport reached their ears. Someone or something was approaching their camp, their movements given away by their footfalls rustling the newly fallen leaves. As soon as the footfalls began, all three of them leapt to their feet and stood back to back, watching the edges of the clearing, Ash and Brock with PokéBalls at the ready. The footfalls stopped, and there was a moments’ silence. Then, out in to the light of the campfire leapt not a person, but a Pokémon.
The Pokémon looked to be a large dog with sleek, silvery white fur, a black, strangely angular curved tail, and a curved black fin coming from its forehead, a fin which looked almost identical to the tail. Its face was bare of fur, and black, with bright yellow eyes which burnt with intelligence.
‘What is that?’ said Ash. He had never before seen anything like it, yet felt it held a strange beauty.
‘That’s an Absol. They’re incredibly rare, and it’s said that they only ever come down from the mountains where they live, before times of impending disaster. I’ve never seen one before; I’ve only read about them.’ Said Sasha. An odd chill ran down Ash’s spine, and the hairs on his arm stood up. Impending disaster…
‘I don’t like the sound of that. I’m going to catch it.’ Said Ash.
Ash lowered the PokéBall in his hand, returned it to his belt, and took another one instead, and threw it high in to the air. The ball burst open, there was a blaze of white light, and Ash’s Pokémon Corphish stood before them, facing Absol.
‘Corphish go! Hit Absol with a bubblebeam attack!’ Ash cried.
Corphish opened its claws, took aim, and hurled a powerful beam of neon blue bubbles straight at Absol. Absol reacted like lightening, it jumped clear of Corphish’s attack, and then it went on the offensive. Absol lowered its head. A small tornado surrounded it; Absol jumped high and swung its fin downwards towards Corphish. From the fin came a slivery-white, razor sharp blast of air. The attack struck the ground in front of Corphish. Its power was devastating, even where Ash and the others stood; the power of it ruffled their hair. The force of the explosion threw Corphish clear of the battle. Absol on the other hand skilfully rode the shockwave clear of the explosion and landed back in its original position, facing Ash.
‘Ash that was a really powerful Razor Wind attack. That Absol really knows how to battle.’ Said Brock warningly. Ash paused to think.
‘If Absol knows how to use its own attacks to carry it to safety, there must be some way to bring it down while it’s still in the air. I need a fast Pokémon.’ Ash said to himself, a plan forming in his mind. Ash recalled Corphish, then drew another ball from his belt, and threw it. This time, Treeko stood facing Absol on the grass.
‘Now Treeko, remember our training. Patience.’ Said Ash. Treeko closed its eyes and lowered its head, trying to relax. Once again, Absol began whipping up another whirlwind, it jumped.
‘Treeko, jump now! Straight at it!’ Ash called. Using its strong tail, Treeko catapulted itself clear as Absol’s attack struck the ground, the shockwave catching it in mid-air and carrying it along with Absol. Ash saw Absol beginning to turn in mid air. ‘Pound attack now!’ Treeko saw its chance, and swung its tail hard in to Absol’s side. Absol smashed hard against the ground. It wasn’t moving. Ash took from his bag an Ultra Ball, one of those Misty had given him, and threw it at Absol. The ball struck, opened, and Absol disappeared in a blaze of yellow light, leaving the ball vibrating hard in the grass, the ball’s button was glowing bright yellow. Absol wasn’t giving up without a fight.
Ash, Sasha and Brock watched the ball, losing all track of time as the ball vibrated continuously. The ball simply would not stop; Ash beside the ball, watching it for what seemed like hours, Brock and Sasha sat with their backs against a tree, their heads nodding as sleep took them. Ash stayed awake late in to the night, watching the ball silently.
Brock and Sasha awoke next morning to find Ash lying fast asleep, his hand on the ball. The ball wasn’t moving.
Brock shook Ash gently.
‘Ash, c’mon its time to get up.’ Brock said quietly. ‘Did you get Absol?’
Ash got up, and smiled.
‘Got it. At about five o’clock this morning.’ He said sleepily.
‘You were up until five, and it was still fighting to get out?’ Sasha asked, amazed. ‘I’ve never heard of a Pokémon fighting for so long.’
‘Well hopefully now I’ve caught Absol, there won’t be any disaster,’ Ash said. Sasha shook her head.
‘That’s the mistake everyone makes,’ she said. ‘Absol doesn’t cause disasters…it only warns us that they’re coming. And that means that one certainly is.’
Three days later, Ash, Sasha and Brock reached Lilycove City. As they entered the city, Brock turned to the others.
‘Ok friends, its all or nothing now. We take the ferry from here to Evergrande, hike to Cianwood, take the ferry from there to Olivine and then, on to Kanto.’ He said, trying to sound cheerful. They all knew there was a very good chance that they were going to be overtaken by Team Aqua, but they all walked resolutely to the port, through the wide, well paved streets of the capital city of Hoenn, and Hoenn’s chief seaport. The story behind why Lilycove and not Slateport became the chief port is a long and dreary one, but as far as Brock knew, it had something to do with the natural barriers and fast currents making traffic from the rest of the world to Slateport possible only for the best and newest ferries.
Upon arriving at the docks, they were relieved to see on the large, brightly lit departure board, that they had made it just in time for the evening ferry. Brock bought their tickets, and they hurried aboard.
The journey would have been very enjoyable, travelling across the sea with a beautiful sunset at their backs, if they had not been under the constant fear that the ferry was about to be stopped by Team Aqua. As they sailed, first to Mossdeep City, which appeared briefly on the horizon only as a low lying land of a dark emerald green, and then south, Ash wondered if they were not even now close to the lair of Kyogre. As they went, they did indeed pass many small rocky islands, but none which matched Captain Stern’s description of a large crescent moon, and small sun. Once again, luck seemed to be with them, and they all heaved a great sigh of relief as they stepped on to dry land again in Evergrande City. Evergrande City was not a city in the ordinary respect, for no one lived there. It was in truth the headquarters for the Hoenn Region’s Pokémon League, but so popular had Hoenn’s gym challenge become that the headquarters were constantly expanding to provide more facilities for all the trainers flocking to the island, and had become a huge collection of tall skyscrapers, office buildings, and other smaller buildings. Ash was surprised when he learnt long afterwards that the Hoenn League was based in Evergrande, either Brock did not know, or he preferred not to distract Ash, instead hurrying them along through the outskirts of Evergrande, and on to the road to Cianwood City. It took them only twenty minutes to travel from Evergrande to Cianwood, for the road was a wide, well travelled one, and the chief route of travel to Hoenn for anyone who did not whish to use the ferry, or for one reason or another, couldn’t.
They arrived in Cianwood City, racing past Chuck’s Gym, and the many familiar houses of the city. Passing the gym, Ash wondered if Chuck was still there, and whether he would recognise Ash if he saw him again. Turning his mind back to where they were going, Ash realised he could not remember seeing the ferry port, and wondered where it was.
They arrived at the ferry port, a large modern-looking building which Ash was sure had not been there on his last visit, and found themselves just in time for the last ferry of the evening. All three raced up the gangplank, and aboard. As soon as they were safely on, the gangplank was lowered, and the ferry was away.
‘Next stop, Olivine City.’ Brock smiled. ‘Friends, we are now in Johto again.’ He said happily. Ash smiled too. Of all the places he had visited so far, Johto was easily his favourite. The deep forests, the tall blue mountains, even the very air itself seemed to him to be more alive in Johto. Ash looked behind him to the port, and cried out in surprise. Turning to see what Ash had seen, Sasha and Brock saw the port behind them filling with members of Team Aqua, grunts and executives, all wearing the Team Aqua bandanna.
‘That was a close one.’ Brock said, shaken.
‘How quickly could they follow us?’ Ash asked.
‘Within the hour, we’ll have to move fast when we land in Olivine.’
As the ferry pulled in to the dock, the three of them practically flew down the gangplank as it was raised. Never wasting a second, Brock dragged them unceremoniously down the main street, until they reached the Pokémon Centre on the far side of the town. Brock paid the money for a rental car, and they were away. As soon as Ash was comfortable in the car, the first thing he did was fall asleep.
Ash woke some hours later to a blaze of lights passing by the windows. Looking out, Ash recognised the shadowy outline of a tall, ancient looking tower, the Tin Tower in Ecruteak City. All the windows of the tower were dark, but Ash fancied he saw a faint glow, like that of a fire, high up at the peak of the tower. After Ecruteak City came the short southward road to Violet City. As they drove, Ash’s mind recalled winning the Violet City’s Zephyr Badge, his first badge on his Johto journey, after emerging victorious from his battle with Falkner, the gym leader. The thought of the battle turned Ash’s thoughts to his own Pidgeot. He had left it, not far from Pallet Town, to guard a flock of Pidgey that was being attacked by a Fearow. Ash felt a stab of guilt; he had left Pidgeot three years ago, with the promise that he would return for it when his errand was complete. That journey was long over, and he still had not returned for it. Violet City passed, and then the peaceful quiet of Cherrygrove City, nestled against an inlet of the south sea, and finally, nestled in a valley far off to their left, the twinkling lights of New Bark Town.
Shortly before dawn they stopped the car beside the road in a lonely valley for a few hours sleep before the last stretch of their journey. As they got out of the car and breathed the fresh mountain air, the sound of a waterfall could be heard roaring in the distance.
‘Do you hear that waterfall? It’s the Tohjo Falls, in Kanto.’ Brock whispered. Sasha was fast asleep, having driven for most of the night. Pikachu listened to the sound of the waterfall intently, remembering their adventures at the Tohjo Falls on Ash’s first day as a trainer. Ash, looking at his PokéGear, realised what a fool he had been, when he first came to the falls. He had been trying to get north from Pallet Town to Viridian City, but somehow (he never could figure out exactly how it happened) he had found himself at the top of the falls, far west of Pallet. Then he remembered, had he not been forced by the Spearow to jump from the waterfall in the first place, he and Misty would have never met.
When Brock woke them an hour later, a thin sliver of grey along the horizon told them that dawn was approaching, as they ate breakfast the stars were extinguished one by one in the growing light. Then, on the fourteenth day of their journey, just as Brock had predicted, they began the last leg of their journey, in to Kanto.
Whether by some plan of Brock’s, or by sheer luck, as their car crested the last ridge dividing the two lands of Kanto and Johto, the whole of Kanto opened out below them beneath a glorious sunrise. Ash’s spirits soared as they descended the lower slopes of the ranges and came, at long last, to Viridian City. It was exactly as he remembered it, and he made a note of looking at the Pokémon Centre as they passed. Four years ago he had destroyed the old Pokémon Centre with Pikachu’s Thundershock, blowing away Team Rocket for the first time, along with the ruins of the building. A year later, Ash had then returned, destroying the Viridian City Gym, which had been controlled by Team Rocket’s evil leader Giovanni, who had fortunately been away at the time, involved in business which had later concerned Ash closely, though Ash remembered nothing later. Next came the Viridian Forest, which they had to bypass, Brock saying that there was as yet no way directly through to Pewter City.
By the time they arrived in Pewter, the sun was well up and shining down strongly on Brock’s home town. As they passed through it, Brock pointed out all of his favourite places to Sasha, and promised that one day she could come and stay at his house for a while. Passing the ruins of an old building by the banks of a river, Brock told them that it had once been Pewter City’s old hydroelectric power plant, which had been mysteriously destroyed the night Ash had arrived in the city. Ash’s face grew very red as Brock said this, and hastily turned back to the window.
Mount Moon loomed before them, dark blue, and as mysterious looking as ever, Ash wondered whether their friend Seymour the scientist still lived there with the colony of Clefairy who inhabited the mountain. Brock stopped briefly there at a tiny little shop at the foot of the mountain to buy some Mount Moon Spring Water, and then, Ash’s heart gave a leap, they were descending the slopes of the valley to Cerulean City itself. They had made it and (as Brock thought uneasily), it had been all too easy, with no intervention by Team Aqua.
January 2nd, 2008, 10:59 PM
Taking the final descent in to Cerulean City, Ash began talking Brock through his battle at the gym, but stopped halfway, as something which had been nagging at him for a long time afterwards came back to him. When Ash and Brock had arrived in Cerulean City on Ash’s first journey, Brock had left Ash for the afternoon to find the gym for himself, but Brock had never elaborated on what he had been doing, he had only said that he had “stuff” to be taking care of, not unlike when they parted in Viridian City after the Johto League Championships. Ash knew Brock well enough by now to know that Brock had been hiding something or other.
‘Hey Brock, when we came here for the first time, what were you doing while I was at the gym having my battle with Misty?’ asked Ash suddenly. The question caught Brock off guard.
‘I was just, er, doing stuff. Nothing important, you know, stocking up on supplies and stuff like that. The usual kind of things you do when you get to a new city.’ Brock reeled all this off very quickly, and Ash was sure he was lying, but he didn’t want to press the subject at the moment; it seemed to startle Brock, and Ash noticed that when he had first spoken, that the car had swerved slightly. Brock was driving.
They continued their slow, tortuous descent to Cerulean City. To Ash, this journey seemed as long as a lifetime, winding their way down amongst grassy hills, through seemingly endless valleys. At long last their car came out on to the flat, emerging from a beautiful lane, almost a tunnel of sweeping willows and maples, their bright Autumn leaves forming a surreal canopy of oranges, reds, brilliant glowing saffron, rivers of pure gold turned to leaves. The sight before them as the trees ended was breathtaking, on their left glimmered a long, wide inlet of the sea, bordered on either side by gently sloping hillsides, emerald green in the sunshine, crowned with heather, all stirred in a high morning breeze. To their right, Cerulean City gleamed bright, the morning sun reflected from the countless windows of tall skyscrapers, offices, and apartments, the city bordered by a wreath of darker green, the richer suburbs. Beneath that canopy lay the great mansions and villas, wide, deep sunken avenues through which Ash himself had wandered on his first journey, seeking the gym and his next adventure. And far off, dazzling all, a thin streak of deepest blue, the sea shone in the distance, seen only for a moment in a gap between two of the lower hills. Their road turned sharply to the right, away from the water, they were now bound straight for the city itself, it lay before them, a great shining beacon perched high on the hillside.
As their car passed beneath the shadow of the first trees, it became hard to believe the lonely countryside which surrounded the city existed at all, the houses and beautiful gardens they were passing now drove all else from their minds. Deep mysterious glades, rivers and creeks, perfectly manicured lawns and shadowy lakes greeted them at every turn in the road, every one as different as the one before. All too soon, the scenery changed once more, one moment they were passing through a shadowy greyish green twilight, surrounded by lush ferns, a small stony brook bubbling away on their left, the next moment, the trees were thinning and the tall offices of the city centre loomed before them, barring the horizon, the sudden change from nature to the bland artificial barrier was a rude intrusion on the happier lands surrounding them. To Ash’s relief, Brock informed them that they would not be passing through the city centre, for the traffic would be heavy and they needed all the speed they could, although Ash doubted that Brock was being altogether truthful. Indeed once they passed out of sight of the city and once more entered the outer suburbs, Brock seemed in very little hurry, and they stopped frequently to marvel at some particularly spectacular garden or house. As they went further north (the gym lay on the northern side of the city, nearest the ocean), the trees changed gradually from the maples and elms to great silver birches, majestic oaks and slender beeches. The ground, when it showed beneath the deep carpet of leaves which covered almost every surface, was a rich, chocolaty brown, had Ash been several years younger he would have been tempted to eat some. Ash felt, and Brock agreed, that it felt very much like being up in the mountains, ‘perhaps in Johto somewhere’ Ash thought to himself.
All too soon, this dreamlike drive came to an end, their car once more emerged from the trees, they were on the north side of the city, and the gym was close. Thankfully they had only to travel a little way in to the city, and had not wholly left the trees behind them before they came at last in to the car park of the Cerulean City Gym itself.
All three stepped from the car, now that they were out in the open; the salty tang of the sea was easy to notice on the cool sea breeze which blew from over the hills to the north. As they set eyes upon the gym, the sun fell full on it, for it was near midday and the sun shone almost directly above them. The gym itself was a large circular building which gave the impression of a large, brightly coloured pinstriped circus tent. The roof was a wide, low dome, painted in bright stripes of pink and yellows, the walls, which lay in the shade of a veranda which shaded the walkway around the gym, were painted a bright yellow. Above the doors was a large, brightly painted sign which read ‘Cerulean City Gym: Home of the Sensational Cerulean Sisters’, above this was a giant wooden carved statue of a Dewgong, one of the great water Pokémon. Sasha looked upon all this in wonder; she had never been to Cerulean City before. Ash and Brock looked back upon their past adventures at the gym, Ash’s battle with Misty, and aiding the Cerulean Sisters in one of their amazing underwater performances.
Ash led Brock and Sasha to the front doors, two great doors of stone, with deep-set glass windows in each. Ash laid his hand upon the door and pushed, expecting the doors to give way easily. They wouldn’t budge. He took his hand away and threw his full weight against the door. Still nothing happened. The gym was locked.
Ash stepped back panting, and began looking around for a bell. It took several minutes of anxious searching for the bell to be found, for it lay in shadow beneath the veranda. When it finally was found, in a small crevice in the wall, Ash pushed it, as he did so he felt a sense of relief, yet to his surprise he found he was also extremely nervous. After a long time, during which it began to look like there would be no answer, footsteps were eventually heard from somewhere far inside the gym. A moment later, a dark shape could be seen moving behind the dark glass windows, a lock clicked, and the gym doors swung inwards. Before them, silhouetted against almost pitch blackness inside the gym, stood not Misty, nor even one of her sisters, but a tall thin man, wearing a very neat black suit and thick rimmed glasses. His short brown hair was very neatly combed, and was trimmed almost as straight as a knife edge.
‘Greetings. How may I help you this morning?’ the man said. ‘I am the door steward of the Cerulean City Gym.’
‘We’re here to see the gym leader Misty.’ Said Ash surprised, forgetting all caution.
‘The Cerulean City Gym is not open for challenges at present, the gym leader is absent on business, and her sisters are yet to return from their overseas holiday. Misty sends her apologies to any challengers, but she is unsure as to when she will return.’ Ash’s heart sank, and from the looks on the faces of Brock and Sasha they were feeling something similar, although Ash knew his own feelings must be worse.
‘We came to deliver a message to Misty, not to challenge her. Is there any way we could still leave her a message for when she gets back?’ Brock asked, adopting a very business-like manner not altogether unlike the one he had once worn in his own days as a gym leader. The steward looked closely at Ash’s face, a keen look in his eyes.
‘May I ask your names please?’ said the steward, still looking closely at Ash.
‘My name is Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town.’ Ash said proudly. To his surprise the steward nodded, leant close and whispered to Ash, Brock and Sasha.
‘Come inside quickly and quietly, we’ve got to get out of sight.’ The steward hissed in their ears, so close was he in fact that his breath tickled their ears. Ash, Brock and Sasha glanced at each other, perplexed. Brock nodded, and they followed the steward through the doors and into the cool darkness of the gym itself. As soon as they crossed the threshold the steward strode over to the doors and locked them behind him. For a horrible moment they felt sure they had blundered in to a trap, but to their relief the steward smiled.
‘Don’t be alarmed, you don’t need to be afraid of me. Team Aqua has been watching the gym; I had to get you out of sight as soon as possible. I’ve had to live in darkness for the last couple of days, I don’t dare turn any lights on, and I have to keep all the entrances locked, Misty told me before she went away to try and make it look as though the place was deserted. It’s not easy though.’ The steward said reassuringly. The three others looked and saw that, as he had said, there was not a single powered light to be seen, only the pale sunlight filtering through the narrow windows in the doors.
The steward led them from the hallway in which they stood, through a door and in to a larger corridor. This corridor Ash recognised from his previous visit to the gym, the corridor was more a submarine tunnel, made all of glass or thick plastic, running through a huge tropical aquarium, bigger than any they had ever seen. Normally the water was lit with bright, hot sunlight simulators, however in the absence of these the walls all around them showed an eerie dim twilight, with an occasional fleeting shadow of grey hinting at fish swimming almost out of sight, lit only by tiny lights dotted here and there on the sea floor. More eerie still, on the odd occasion as they walked small shoals of luminous fish would swim by through the murky twilight, spreading a cold green glow over them.
‘Misty left yesterday morning,’ said the steward as they walked. ‘She wouldn’t tell me where she was going or anything about it. I think her sisters know what it’s all about, they’ve been lying low here with me, but they won’t say anything either. All I’ve been able to pick up is that something big is going on. She would only say that Team Aqua was close to tracking her down, and that they mustn’t find her. She must have heard something which worried her; she’s been nervous and looking worried for the last couple of days. Just before she left, she said that someone calling themselves Ash Ketchum might be calling in, and that you might need help. Also I fancy she’s left a message for you in her office. I’ll take you there now; there might be something which will help you.’ After the steward had finished, he once again fell silent, and they walked on, the darkness and the silence pushing in on them. Ash wondered vaguely if this was what the sea floor was like, he remembered seeing something about it at the Oceanic Museum in Slateport City, but that seemed an age ago now and unimportant. A while later, no one was sure exactly how long, voices could be heard approaching from in front of them. Ash had only just been able to distinguish three distinct voices, before their owners came in to view. The tunnel before them bent slightly and steadily to the left; around the corner came three young ladies, all very beautiful with long, flowing and brightly coloured hair, pink, blue and yellow. These three young ladies were Misty’s three older sisters, the Sensational Cerulean Sisters who performed in swimming and diving shows for the public at the gym. Not their usual carefree selves (at least, their cares never stretched beyond the state of their clothes or hair), the faces of the three sisters looked worried, and they were huddled together, deeply immersed in a whispered conversation. As Ash, Brock and Sasha approached, the three sisters looked up startled.
‘Ash, what a surprise, we like, weren’t expecting you for a few more days!’ exclaimed the lady with yellow hair, whose name was Daisy.
‘It’s great to see you again,’ said Ash warmly. ‘It’s been a while though, how did you like travelling the world?’
‘Well, to tell you the truth, we never really got very far, this whole thing with the Orbs and everything started boiling up, and Misty told us it was safer to stay here, and besides, travelling is absolute murder to your hair, and you like never get a chance to do anything about it.’ Daisy said somewhat sheepishly. The steward shifted from one foot to the other awkwardly.
‘We were just on our way up to Misty’s office to get her message for them.’ The steward said pointedly.
‘Ok Mort, we won’t hold you up. We’ll see you later Ash!’ Daisy called, she then turned her head and began talking in earnest with her sisters once more, their figures soon fading back in to the gloom behind them. Soon after, Ash, Brock, Sasha, and the steward, whose name seemed to be Mort, came to a place where the aquariums ended to be replaced by bright yellow walls, bright and yet strangely bare; this seemed to be a little used area of the gym. They noticed too that the lights were on in this part of the gym, although they were only bunker lights and gave only a cold white glow. This was lucky, for soon they turned right and found themselves ascending a steep staircase they would never have managed without lights, five flights of stairs Ash counted before they finally came out on a high, narrow landing, which was empty except for a plain wooden door at the far end. Mort opened the door, which was also completely unadorned, and stepped aside, allowing them to enter before him.
Misty’s office seemed to them to be a jumble of bookcases and filing cabinets, which were all overflowing with reams of papers. At the far end of the room they could see a small wooden desk, almost hidden amongst pile upon tottering pile of paper. From what they could see of the papers as they passed, they seemed to hold records of every challenger at the gym, what their names had been, and the outcome of the battle and so on. But there were also many books, books on the care and raising of water Pokémon, water battle strategies; they were all in some way related to water Pokémon. On the right hand side of the room, the walls had been replaced by a huge window which looked down upon the gym’s swimming pool, which lay in almost complete darkness, as did the hundreds of rows of seats which had been erected around it. Mort led them through the towering maze of bookcases and filing cabinets to Misty’s desk, each of them being careful not to brush against any of the papers. Misty’s desk seemed to be the tidiest part of the room. On it stood many photo frames, which stood in a circle around a red leather box which lay shut on the table. Looking at the frames, Ash could see many photos of himself with Misty, usually accompanied by another of their friends, but there were also several photos of Misty with her sisters. Mort ignored the photos, and instead lifted the lid on the leather box. Inside the box was a strip of blue silk, to which was pinned twelve badges, shaped like a drop of water. Ash lifted up the strip of silk. Beneath the silk was a small piece of note paper, folded over many times, and lying on top of a photo that had no frame. Ash unfolded the paper and examined it. The letter had obviously been written in a great hurry, there were smudges and spots of ink all over the page, the words however had been written in a strong, graceful script, with a thick, light blue ink.
This is what the letter said, near enough.
I’m sorry I can’t be here to talk to you in person. Captain Stern has contacted me here, and he says its not safe for me to stay here anymore, Team Aqua are close to finding me here, and I have to try and draw them away from the Indigo Orb. I’ve hidden it here in the gym, but I can’t tell you where, it’s too dangerous, but I’m sure you’ll find it. As long as Team Aqua thinks I have it, we should be ok. I’ve gone on to the Sun and Moon Islands to try and draw them away. They know not to awaken K. without the Indigo Orb, so I should be ok here, but DON’T come after me whatever you do, it’ll put us all in danger. Goodbye Ash, hopefully everything will turn out alright for us in the end.
PS. Keep the photo. Just in case.
Ash read the letter, and then handed it to Brock, and turned over the photo. It was the only picture of he and Misty alone together in the whole room, showing them arm in arm, dancing beneath the moon at Maiden’s Rock. Ash looked at it tearfully, seeing their smiling faces, looking in to each other’s eyes with what seemed now to him to be loving warmth, and he couldn’t believe he had denied for so long what those eyes told so clearly. Brock must have taken the picture and given it to her, yet he had never mentioned it and, rather than bring it up now, Ash stowed it deep in the folds of his cloak. Brock read the letter in silence, and then read it aloud to Sasha.
‘Does this mean we travelled all this way for nothing?’ cried Sasha in dismay.
‘Not exactly, we can look after the Indigo Orb, even if we can’t help Misty.’ Brock said, although he too sounded dejected. Ash however was examining the letter again.
‘The Indigo Orb is hidden somewhere in the gym.’ Ash muttered thoughtfully. ‘How are we supposed to find it though, this place is huge.’
‘She wouldn’t have put it somewhere where we couldn’t find it; it’s probably in a fairly obvious place.’ Brock said. ‘I reckon we should split up and search the place. Ash, you can go down and search the stadium, Sasha, you can come with me and help search the other rooms.’ Neither of the others had any argument, so Mort led them from the room, back down the stairs and out in to the hallway. When they reached the hallway, Ash turned to Brock.
‘Well, I’ll see you soon then.’ Ash said.
‘Ok, meet back here in half an hour, whatever happens.’ Brock said, and then he turned on his heel and walked off down the corridor, closely followed by Sasha. Mort also left, muttering about other chores which needed doing, leaving Ash standing alone and rather forlorn in the dim corridor, with only Pikachu for company. Ash watched Brock’s retreating back for a moment.
‘Pikachu!’ Pikachu chirped encouragingly. Ash jumped, Pikachu had been so quiet lately, and so used to the feel of Pikachu on his shoulder that Ash had almost forgotten Pikachu was there. Ash set off alone down the corridor, slowly and quietly. The long dark corridors were creepy, and the occasional sound of his cloak dragging on the ground became a loud, unwelcome noise. Ash had not been walking long when he came to a large set of doors, two doors he remembered well from his previous visit as being the doors to the stadium. Ash pushed, and the doors swung inwards noiselessly. Ash stepped through hurriedly, and the doors swung to with a bang behind him. Ash looked once more on the cathedral sized stadium of the gym; last time he had stood in the gym this room had been ablaze with lights, now however the sheer size of the room could only be dimly guessed in the gloom. The room was several stories high, and very long; in the middle of the room was an Olympic sized swimming pool, its waters were dark and no reflection showed on its surface, and all around the pool had been raised row upon row of seats, like at a sports stadium. These seats were usually empty except for when Misty’s sisters were performing. On these occasions, which were becoming increasingly rare for one reason or another, the seats were filled to capacity with cheering fans of the sisters. Floating on the surface of the pool was a large number of square and rectangular foam mats. On these challengers to the gym leader stood, facing their opponent across the water. From the roof, directly above the pool, hung the huge empty shell of a Cloyster, an enormous clam-like Pokémon with a spiked shell. The doors through which Ash had entered stood at the highest tier of seats, on one of the long sides of the rectangular room, so when Ash entered he was able to look straight down upon the whole dim scene from above. From the doors ran an aisle between the rows of seats down the stadium floor far below. In fact, so high were the doors that he stood almost on a level with the huge Cloyster shell, hanging from thick steel cables.
Ash looked down wondering where, if anywhere, the Orb could be hidden. For a few minutes he searched among the rows of seats without success. Very soon Ash found that it was far too dark, and that he could pass within three feet of the Orb in the dark and never see it. So, naturally, he began searching for the light switches. After several minutes, he found the fuse box, in the wall by the doors through which he had first entered. Opening the door of the box, Ash found the switches. Ash turned on every switch. There was a series of loud bangs as one by one the rows of lights in the ceiling flared to life, shining brightly in his eyes. Now that the lights were on, Ash noticed that he was not alone in the room as he had thought; on the far side of the gym, several rows back from the swimming pool, sat Misty’s sisters. Once again they were huddled close together in whispered conversation. The lights turning on seemed to startle them, at any rate they looked up and soon spotted Ash, and beckoned him over to join them. Ash skirted several rows of seats until he came to the main aisle. He followed this down until he came to the gym floor by the swimming pool. The rows of seats loomed up all around him, they seemed far more imposing than they had when he had stood here as a brave young challenger. Ash walked around the edge of the pool, and ascended the aisle on the far side, then edged his way down the row of seats until he came to where Misty’s sisters were seated. Ash sat down beside Daisy, who was sitting closest to him.
‘Poor Misty,’ Daisy said. ‘We know about what’s going on, and we heard why you came here. You can talk to us about it.’
‘It doesn’t look like there’s much we can do about it though, except to keep the Indigo Orb safe for her. We got here to late.’ Ash sighed. ‘You don’t know where she might have hidden the Orb do you?’
‘No, we don’t know either. We’ve been wondering about that ourselves, she wouldn’t even tell us.’ Daisy said.
‘I bet it’s in here though, this is like totally her favourite place in the gym, and she’s always coming in here, even when she’s not battling.’ One of the other sisters said.
‘Yeah, but where? I guess I’ll just have to keep looking, I wonder if the others have had any luck?’ Ash said resignedly.
‘We’ll help you Ash.’ Daisy said. Ash and the sisters rose from their seats in the stands. The sisters were in fact more of a hindrance than a help as Ash wandered around, searching for the Orb, for they would soon become distracted and begin chattering away animatedly about their clothes or their hair or their diving performances, until it almost drove Ash crazy. After a long, fruitless search, Ash eventually worked his way down to the pool itself. Its surface was still, and as smooth as glass, and reflected the bright lights in the roof brilliantly, and in startling detail. Ash took Pikachu from his shoulders and handed it to Daisy, took a deep breath, and plunged his head in to the water. The water was crystal clear, and Ash could see from end to end easily. There was nothing there. Ash pulled his head out of the water, and sat panting by the pools edge, gazing at the reflections on the surface as the water once again became still. Ash’s gaze fell upon the Cloyster shell. An eerie blue glow came from deep within, reflected in the shimmering water. Ash looked up in wonder, for he was sure that the mouth of the shell had been dark when he had entered. He looked upon it for a long time, willing it to yield him answers. Finally something fell in to place inside his head. Ash turned to Daisy.
‘Daisy, you know that light in the Cloyster shell up there? Has that always been there?’ Ash asked. Daisy looked up at the shell in surprise.
‘Hey, you know Ash, I like never noticed that before. Trust Misty to go and put a new decoration in without telling us,’ Daisy said in surprise.
Ash shook his head in exasperation. ‘Can we get the shell down so I can have a look inside it?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, but you have to be strong. Its really heavy, and you have to lower it down with a lever.’ Daisy said doubtfully.
Ash thought for a moment. ‘Brock,’ Ash cried. ‘Hey Brock!’ Ash’s voice echoed through the gym and out in to the corridor where Brock and Sasha stood waiting for Ash. Several seconds later Brock and Sasha burst through the stadium doors.
‘What is it, have you found the Orb?’ Brock said, sounding worried.
‘Maybe. We need you to lower that Cloyster shell down here.’ Ash replied. Daisy showed Brock the lever for lowering the shell and how to use it. Brock nodded, took hold of the lever, and released the locks holding the shell in place. Immediately the shell dropped several feet, and the lever was almost pulled out of Brock’s hand before he was able to steady it. The shell was obviously as heavy as Daisy had said. Tough though he was, Brock was finding it very hard to keep the shell from falling and bursting apart on the gym floor, and sweat was pouring from his forehead. After what seemed like hours, and several tense moments in which it looked as though Brock could not possibly hold on anymore, the shell was almost level with the ground, suspended several feet over the surface of the pool. Ash reached out and with some difficulty managed to swing the shell over the walkway beside the pool. Then with a final effort, Brock lowered the shell the last couple of feet so that at last it lay on the walkway before them. The moment the shell was on the ground, Brock let go of the lever and collapsed where he stood, exhausted, but as he saw what was happening, he stood up once more and walked over to where Ash and the others stood by the shell.
Ash knelt beside the shell, and peered inside. Then he drew his head back, and reached a trembling hand inside the shell, and clasped his hands upon something inside. Ash pulled for a few seconds, and then with a loud crunch he pulled out what he had taken hold of. In Ash’s hands lay a light blue Orb of clear crystal, its size and shape were identical to the Orbs on Shamouti, but the Indigo Orb gave off a brilliant blue-white radiance, which threw shimmering lights on the walls and roof, as though strong floodlights were being shone on the surface of the pool. There was no doubt about it; they had found the Indigo Orb. Brock took the Orb in his own hands to examine it, as he clasped the Orb in his hand; the Orb’s radiance died, and was replaced by a dim blue glow.
‘It doesn’t glow in my hands.’ Brock said thoughtfully. ‘I wonder why?’
‘With the Ice Sphere on Shamouti Island, it only glowed in my hands, because I was the Chosen One. I wonder if the same thing works for this Orb, Captain Stern did say that the Orbs were related.’ Ash said.
Brock continued to turn the Orb over thoughtfully in his hands. As the others watched, the thoughtful look on Brocks face faded, and was replaced by one of uttermost horror.
‘Ash, I’ve just thought of something.’ Brock said seriously. ‘Misty’s gone to protect Kyogre at the Sun and Moon Islands, which are as we know swarming with people from Team Aqua. And, Team Aqua still thinks Misty has the Indigo Orb. If they discover who she is, they could try and force her to give them the Orb, and there’s no way that they’re going to believe her when she tells them she doesn’t have it. She could be in real danger!’
‘Who knows what Team Aqua could do to try and get hold of the Orb, what are we going to do?’ said Ash in horror.
‘There’s only one thing for it. We’ll have to take the Indigo Orb and go to the islands ourselves.’ Said Brock.
‘Straight in to the danger we’ll be going.’ Sasha said. ‘Let’s do it!’
‘But how will we get there in time?’
Up until then, Misty’s sisters had remained silent, all this had seemed too important for them, but now they spoke.
‘That place where Misty’s gone, it’s on Route 127 isn’t it?’ Daisy said, ‘Just south of Mossdeep City?’ Brock nodded. ‘We think we know how you can get there.’
Ten minutes later they were speeding away from the gym in the car. Daisy was guiding them, first through the northern outskirts of the city, then out of the city and along a narrow, winding gravel road, winding their way steadily northward through a valley in the low lying hills they had seen earlier that morning. After a short while, the road they had been following came to an abrupt end, before them rose gently sloping hills, beyond them only sky could be seen, but the sound of waves breaking on the beach could be clearly heard. Brock parked the car, and they all stepped outside. Daisy pointed out to them a narrow gravel path, winding its way to the top of the hill. They followed this to the top of the ridge, and gasped. Without knowing it they had followed the road out on to Cerulean Cape itself. Before them the hill sloped gently downwards to a rocky beach. On their right, the cape marched away eastwards, a thin band of grassy hills sloping steadily downwards in to the sea. Looking to their west, across the sea could be seen a low lying line of hills, dark and hazy with distance, the northern hills of Johto.
Daisy led them eastwards until, in a small valley between two hills, they came upon a house. The house looked lost and lonely amongst the bare hills; it was large, with two storeys, and built of brown earthy coloured bricks. The thatched roof looked ancient, it was worn with the passing of many seasons, and moss grew in the cracks between the thatching.
‘That’s Misty’s house.’ Daisy said, breaking the silence. ‘She left the keys with us when she left. Here.’ Daisy pressed a set of keys in to Ash’s hands.
‘What are these for?’ asked Ash bewildered.
‘Come on over the hill, we’ll show you!’ cried Daisy, leaping away from them up the northern slopes, to the sea.
January 2nd, 2008, 11:00 PM
The World Beneath the Sea
Twenty minutes later Ash, Brock and Sasha were speeding away from Cerulean Cape in Misty’s private boat. Daisy had led them over the top of the last hills between Misty’s house and the sea, there, hidden from view by a large rocky outcrop they had found Misty’s boathouse. Daisy had barely begun to walk them through the controls when Sasha had cut in, saying that she had been trained to drive boats when she was training to be a Pokémon Nurse. Now, she was piloting the boat with ease over the rough coastal waters east of Cerulean Cape.
‘This is great!’ Ash cried. ‘We’ll be there in no time now!’ Pikachu, who was used to boats after their journey through the Orange Islands, stood at the prow of the boat, looking ahead moodily.
‘Yeah, and when we get there, Misty will have you to thank.’ Sasha said with a wink. Brock had explained everything to her, better indeed than Ash could of himself, and Sasha seemed to regard it as very important that Ash and Misty should be together. ‘Want to try taking the wheel Ash?’ Ash and Sasha switched seats, and Ash took hold of the steering wheel tentatively. At first he simply kept them going as straight as possible, but before long he was guiding the boat with ease through the waves, thoroughly enjoying himself. Within an hour he was performing moves which would have impressed even Misty, and she had been raised by the water. Without warning the boat began riding up a wave towards the crest, the next moment the sea dropped away beneath them in an almost impossible way. Ash didn’t lose his head for a second, the boat took off, the sea was rushing up to meet them, they landed, Ash threw the throttle forward and they were speeding away from the wave. With his free hand Ash pulled out his PokéNav and turned it on. The brightly lit screen showed the coastline flashing by; in a matter of hours they had already covered a distance which would have taken them several days on land, without any misfortune. They were heading south now, their eventual goal to go southward until the coastline turned west, to Vermilion City, then they would have a clear run south of Kanto and Johto, and arrive in Hoenn close to Evergrande City.
They travelled on long in to the night, Ash and Sasha taking turns at driving, Brock was content to sit in the lounge below and plan the next stage of their journey. The coast to their right remained unchanged, low lying moors for the most part. far off in the west Ash thought he could descry a glimpse of the tall mountain range which ran south from Cerulean City to Lavender Town. After Lavender Town fell behind them, the coastline grew increasingly rugged, high cliffs rose out of the water on their right now, blocking any sign of the lands beyond. Sharp, jagged rocks also began rearing suddenly out of the water, forcing them further out to sea. By the early hours of the morning, both Ash and Sasha were weary in body and mind, they anchored the boat in a small rocky cove, walled all about by high cliffs, except for a narrow curving channel through which they had entered. Sasha climbed below to sleep; Ash rolled out his sleeping bag on deck, and fell asleep with the bright light of the stars resting on his face.
Shortly before dawn he awoke. The first thing he noticed was a stabbing pain in his left hand, it seemed that he had fallen asleep on it, and the weight of his body had reopened several of the old wounds from Route 119. Ash winced as he felt the pain in his hands, then he looked up. Sasha was sitting not far from him, gazing out to sea. Ash rose and walked over to where she sat.
‘You should be sleeping Ash; we’ve got a long day ahead of us,’ She said quietly.
‘So should you,’ said Ash with a laugh. ‘But you’re not either.’ Sasha turned her face from Ash and back to the starlit waters.
‘I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know, maybe its something about this cove, but there’s been something growing on my mind all evening. I’m worried, about this whole business with the Orbs. A simple slip up could mean the end for us all. But somehow we’ve come through well so far, we’ve had a lot of close calls, but Team Aqua always seems to be one step behind us. Everything’s been going so smoothly for us so far. Something just doesn’t feel right.’ Sasha said.
‘I guess I know what you mean. It’s kinda’ been the same for me, but I don’t think it’s got anything to do with Team Aqua. To me, nothings really seemed quite right since I left Shamouti Island. Since then, I’ve often woken in the night, and I feel like I’m waiting for something important, but what I’m actually waiting for slips away as soon as I try and remember it.’ Ash said.
‘Maybe it’s just what comes from having dealings with the Orbs, you are the Chosen One. That makes you special in itself, perhaps being the chosen one; you can feel things to do with the Orbs more deeply than others.’ Said Sasha. Ash looked at her, surprised. ‘That’s just something Brock said.’ Sasha said in answer to Ash’s look. ‘We were talking about it earlier, that’s all.’ As she spoke, Sasha noticed for the first time that Ash’s hand was bleeding; a trickle of blood ran across the deck and tickled her hand. ‘Oh no. Those cuts have opened up again.’ She muttered. ‘I’ll patch them up for you before you go back to bed.’ Sasha went below, and came back a minute later carrying her first aid kit.
‘Hang on while I patch these up.’ Said she. ‘But I think you’ve got some wounds from our journey I won’t be able to fix.’ She muttered. Ash nodded silently. Several minutes later when Sasha had finished, Ash lay down to sleep, taking care not to lie down on his hand. The last thing he saw before he passed once again in to sleep was a vision of Sasha, gazing silently at the stars.
Ash woke many hours later to find the sun well up and Sasha at the wheel of the boat. He wondered at this, for the boat was noisy, and he was usually a light sleeper. Ash checked the PokéNav. They had now passed Vermilion Point and were heading west, though there was no sign of land, Ash could see from the map that they were nearing Cinnabar Island, and the Kanto border.
For the next two days they travelled in much the same way, taking it in turns driving, with never a sign of land save for Cinnabar Island, and far off in the distance a group of islands, which Brock told them to be the Whirlpool Islands, the northernmost islands of the Orange Archipelago. They were now south of Johto and, even as the Whirlpool Islands fell behind them; a far larger land began to rise on the horizon. It was only as they neared the port and passed a large, modern ferry that Ash recognised the city as Cianwood City, this meant that the island was Grande Island, they were now close to Johto’s western borders, and Route 127.
That night they spent at the Pokémon Centre in Cianwood, for they had travelled for many hours and all felt the urge to sleep on dry land for a change. At the Pokémon Centre there was a merry meeting, for the Nurse Joy of the Cianwood City Pokémon Centre was the elder of Sasha’s sisters, and they had not seen each other for many years. All rose late the next morning, they had had a large tea the night before, and had stayed up late refitting and refuelling the boat. Finally, when all was ready they bade goodbye to Nurse Joy, and took to the sea once more. Ten minutes out of port, a warning sounded on Ash’s PokéNav; they had crossed the border in to Hoenn, and they were now on Route 128, only a little to the south of Route 127.
‘Well, we’ve made good time.’ Brock said, when Ash told him. ‘We should be at Route 127 in about an hour, but then we’ve got to actually find the islands. Unfortunately we don’t have a map, so it could take us quite a while to search the whole route.’
‘What do you mean by “quite a while”?’ said Ash, fearing the worst.
‘To search all of Route 127 could take about a week.’ Said Brock.
Grande Island fell behind them to the south, until Evergrande City was only a glimmer on the horizon, then they were there, at Route 127 itself, lonely and barren it looked. Searching the horizon with the scope he had been given for his birthday, Ash could see no sign of land in any direction. They anchored for the night at sunset, for Brock said there was little point in searching during the night; they were far too likely to miss the island. They all woke early the next morning, and continued their search. By the end of that day everyone seemed disheartened. Route 127 seemed completely barren, devoid of all life, neither animal nor Pokémon did they see all day, save for a lone Wingull flying high above their boat on the breeze, occasionally a single mournful call floated down to them on the wind. Even Pikachu seemed downcast, it had lost the usually bright spark in its eyes, and it gazed silently at the horizon from its perch at the prow of the boat.
The following morning brought them better news, looking through his scope, Ash reported a group of small rocky islands to the east, none which fit the description of the Sun and Moon islands, yet so grateful were they to see land that they headed for them anyway. They were soon among them, but they were barren, little more than boulders thrust out of the depths. The sight of the rocks encouraged them, and they continued eastwards. Then, in the early afternoon, they had the breakthrough they had been looking for. A large island, still blue and misty with distance, but it was there, north and a little to the east. By evening they were barely a stone’s throw away from the island, but none of them felt like risking the coast of an unknown island during the night, they anchored on the islands western side until morning. The next morning it was clear they had reached their destination. Coming around to the east of the island, they saw it exactly as Captain Stern had described. A bare, rocky island, on the eastern side two arms were thrust out, curving north and south towards each other, to form an almost completely enclosed bay in between the islands two arms. Guarding the entrance to the bay, a little to the east of the entrance, a small yellow sandbar could be seen just below the surface of the water. Ash gazed at the island through the scope; on the western side the bay was walled by high cliffs, which became steadily lower as they came towards the two arms, until there was nothing more than a flat, rocky beach. There was no sign of any living thing on the island. Team Aqua, if it was there, was lying low.
‘What do we do now that we’ve found the islands?’ Sasha asked Brock, looking at the islands with apprehension.
‘Well, let me think,’ said Brock, weighing up the options in his mind. He had been considering this much ever since they had departed Cerulean City, but he had not come to a decision. ‘I think we’ll probably have to try and find the hole that Captain Stern told us about, that one that opens on the roof of a cave. If Team Aqua is here, they’re sure to be guarding the underwater entrance, and besides, I don’t think we’d be able to dive down there anyway, we don’t have the equipment.’ Brock said finally.
‘Hang on. Captain Stern said that the hole lead to an underground cave. He never said it connected on to the other tunnels. I don’t like the idea of getting stuck in a cave on this island with no way out.’ Sasha said.
‘True. But I know a fair bit about caves and tunnels, after all I did used to be a rock-type trainer, and tunnels like these, especially ones near water, are usually all connected; the water carves them out and they all connect up.’ Brock said. Sasha still looked doubtful.
‘There’s no point in arguing about it yet, shouldn’t we try and find the hole first?’ Ash cut in. Brock and Sasha both agreed to this, and Ash heaved a sigh of relief. He did not relish the prospect of being stuck with Brock and Sasha if they were angry at each other.
They hid the boat behind a large pile of boulders on the beach. There was little cover on the island, and if anyone approached the boat from the wrong side they would see it at once, but there was nowhere better. Once they had all scrambled ashore they split up and began climbing over and examining every inch of the island, looking for any sign of a hole which might lead to the underground tunnels. Their time on the island would have been pleasant, had they not had to worry about Team Aqua; the sun was warm, a cool breeze was blowing from the northeast, and the sea felt wonderfully refreshing whenever one of them stumbled and found their foot in the water, but their heads and eyes were downwards.
It was Ash who found the hold in the end. They had been searching for hours, and the sinking sun no longer gave enough light for the search to continue. Ash, Sasha and Brock were all heading back to the boat, they had decided to give up for the evening. Trying to take a shortcut between two particularly large boulders, Ash was about to lay his foot on the ground between them, when Pikachu gave a cry of warning. Ash drew his foot back hastily, and looked to see what he had been about to step on, or rather, what he hadn’t been about to step on. There was no ground between the boulders, only blackness, the hole was little wider than Ash himself, and about three feet long. Ash called to the others, and they soon stood beside him, staring down in to the black depths below. Brock, who had had the good sense to bring a torch, lowered his eyes to the hole and shone the torch down. A minute later he looked up. It seemed that he had been right; according to Brock, there was not one but three tunnels leading from the cave below, and that the floor of the cave was little more than six feet beneath them.
This sparked a fierce debate, for Ash and Brock wanted to enter the hole immediately, whereas Sasha said that if they absolutely had to go in to the hole, couldn’t they wait until morning to do it. Only when Brock suggested, not too seriously, that he and Ash go on ahead, and Sasha spend the night on the island and follow them in the morning, did she agree to go down the hole with them. Then, to try and make it up to Sasha, Brock suggested that they go back to the boat to eat before they went in. In any case, as Brock pointed out they had to go back to the boat for supplies.
After a long supper, and after preparing what they hoped to be everything they would need for a long journey in the dark, they stood once more by the edge of the hole. After another long discussion, which threatened to flare up in to another argument, it was agreed that Brock would go in to the hole first, to make sure that all was well, then Sasha would follow, and last of all Ash. Once this had been agreed, Brock climbed over the hole, lowered himself so that only his head and neck were visible, then he vanished. Several minutes later his voice drifted up from the depths, saying that all was well, and calling for Sasha to come down. Sasha too lowered herself with some apprehension, and then she too vanished. Brock called for Ash to follow. Ash lowered himself over the hole, tried not to think of the blackness below him, only the starry sky above, then he let go.
WHUMP. Ash landed softly, sprawled out on a pile of soft sand which had collected beneath the hole. A silvery beam of light fell from the hole above; otherwise, the cave was in darkness. Brock turned on his torch, and motioned them all to follow, leading them without hesitation down a tunnel which sloped steeply downwards, and curved always off to their left. Ash was never afterwards able to satisfactorily recount their journey in the dark, for time seemed not to exist there in the heart of the island, and all that he saw seemed to have little hold on his mind, only to slip before his eyes and vanish back to the darkness in which it had dwelled for times untold. At times long afterwards, when he thought hard, he seemed to remember glittering, cascading subterranean waterfalls, falling in to rippling lakes, in which were reflected hundreds of stalactites, glittering shapes of pure crystal, deep chasms from which rose warm, stuffy winds which smelt of sulphur and ash. But either he saw little else, or he forgot it. Hours, days, weeks…they all seemed to pass in that timeless world, a great contradiction in a land where nothing ever changed and nothing happened, save these three furtive strangers from the outside, strangers who did not belong and passed from the light down in to the deepest shadows far from the sun and the living world. He thought he remembered sleeping there, yet never remembered setting up camp, or eating, nor anything else he usually associated with the end of a day’s march
There came a time when the tunnel they had been following straightened out. It had been growing narrower for some time; its walls were no longer smooth, and sometimes they bumped in to jagged, rocky outcrops. All of them had noticed it, but none liked to mention it, each secretly hoping that the passage would widen again at any minute. Just as each of them was thinking of saying something, the light of Brock’s torch died, and all three came to a halt. There came the sound of much banging and rattling, and then silence. Fumbling blindly in his pack, Ash pulled out his own torch, which slipped from his shaking fingers and rolled away in to utter darkness. Ash slumped against the wall, and sank to the floor in despair.
‘Well, I guess that’s it. Misty will have to do what she can without us, if she ever even came here. We must have gone the wrong way.’ Ash said hopelessly. Yet there, in that dark end to their long journey and painful toil, a bead of strength began to grow in him, deep down, but reassuring, and it hardened his will. All his good reason told him that they had come to the end of the road, yet his heart and will refused to concede, swelling instead an unaccountable hope and warmth. And then, joy above all joys to Ash, a voice cried out, answering his silent request. The voice was the most familiar and most welcome he had ever heard in his life, the one which had spoken to him in his mind each night, giving him the strength to continue.
‘Ash!’ the voice cried, echoing down the tunnel. Ash struggled to his feet, his body almost numb with joy and relief.
‘Misty?’ Ash called in answer, his voice quavering. A bright light flared, shining in each of their faces in turn.
‘Ash, it is you, I can’t believe it! I heard you, but I couldn’t believe it was actually your voice,’ said the voice. The bright light of the torch died and was replaced by the softer glow of a gas lantern. There before them stood Misty herself. Slightly taller than when they had last met, Misty was clad all in navy blue, her long red hair flowed down her back from beneath a navy blue bandanna, on which the Team Aqua insignia showed. The smile on her face faded.
‘Ash, do you have any idea how dangerous it is for you to be here. I told you in my letter not to come!’ she said angrily.
‘It’s nowhere near as dangerous as it would have been for you if we hadn’t come. Brock figured out a slight problem with your plan,’ said Ash. Brock hurriedly explained how they had discovered the danger in which Misty had put herself. When he had finished, a shadow of horror passed over Misty’s face for a moment, but then she smiled.
‘Well, you’re here now, so we should be thankful for that. As long as you’ve got the Indigo Orb we should be able to deal with Team Aqua.’ Misty said, sounding relieved. ‘But you haven’t introduced me to your other friend here…is that Nurse Joy?’ Misty said incredulously, turning to Sasha.
‘You don’t have to sound quite so surprised,’ Brock said, blushing slightly. ‘This is Sasha, Sasha Joy. She used to be the Nurse at the Slateport City Pokémon Centre, but she decided to come along with us.’
‘Hi Sasha, its great to meet you,’ Misty said. ‘Come on, my camp’s just down the tunnel a bit further, you can put all your stuff down there. Kyogre’s lair is a bit further on past my camp, I convinced the Tactical Commander to put me on guard down there, she trusts me, so there’s hardly ever anyone else down here. The rest of Team Aqua prefers to stay on guard by the water entrance.’ Misty explained as they walked. ‘You can’t blame them really…I hate it here. Speaking of which, how on earth did you get down here without them catching you?’
‘There’s another entrance to the caves that Captain Stern discovered, and it doesn’t look like Team Aqua knows about it.’ said Ash, who then went on to explain all about the rooftop entrance.
They walked on for about five more minutes, until they came to a junction in their tunnel; before them the tunnel stretched on in to darkness, on their right the tunnel wall opened out in to a spacious cave. Misty had obviously tried to turn the cave in to a makeshift house, from the ceiling hung a bright electric lantern, an assortment of paintings and posters covered most of the walls. On the floor was a large pile of blankets and pillows which Ash supposed must be her bed, although it looked to Ash more like a badly built nest. The sight of this made Ash shiver a little, and he shook himself mentally.
‘You guys can make yourselves comfortable, I don’t think we’ll be getting any visitors at this time of the night, and if we are going to, I’ve got my own ways of finding out about it.’ Misty said. Brock and Sasha slumped down on the floor in exhaustion. Ash however stayed standing, shuffling his feet awkwardly, and biting his lip. After a minute or so he sidled over to Misty and tried, unsuccessfully, to whisper to her.
‘Misty, is there somewhere we can go to talk?’ Ash asked. ‘In private I mean.’ Ash’s voice echoed rather more than he would have liked, and he was uncomfortably aware of Brock trying to catch his eye.
‘Sure, come with me, I know just the place.’ Misty replied quietly. ‘Come with me Ash,’ she said, just loud enough for the others to hear. ‘You can help me make sure the area is safe.’
‘Ok Brock, can you help me unpack all this stuff?’ said Sasha pointedly, gesturing at their backpacks.
Misty grabbed Ash by the arm and led him from the cave, turning right down the tunnel, leading them deeper in to the heart of the island. Soon Ash noticed the tunnel beginning to grow lighter before him, first a dim grey light, like a cold dawn in midwinter, but soon it grew to a strange shimmering midnight blue. The tunnel opened out before them, and Ash gasped. The walls on either side had vanished, and they were standing in an immense cave, larger than any in which they had yet been. The whole cave was lit with the same mysterious blue glow. In the centre of the cave was a shimmering lake, it was from the water of the lake itself that the light came, illuminating a thin veil of mist which hung in the air of the cave. But greater even than the beauty of the cave itself was that which lay in the centre of the lake. An immense statue, carved in the most intricate detail, of a majestic water Pokémon; from either side of its oval shaped body came two wing-like fins, at its rear trailed thin fins, no wider than streamers, two beady black eyes stared sadly towards them, their expression, frozen though it was, seemed to speak to them of the wisdom that lay within.
Hurrying on, Misty led Ash around the shores of the lake until they came to a place far from the cave’s entrance, yet still just within view of it. A narrow path climbed steeply up the side of the cavern, to a long, narrow seat hewn from the living stone of the cave wall itself. Ash sat down upon it heavily, Misty settled herself down gently beside Ash. Both were silent, Ash was trying to find the words to express what he wanted to say, Misty seemed intent on letting Ash proceed at his own pace, content to gaze down upon the lake far below. At last Ash spoke.
‘Well, I’m not quite sure how to begin’ Ash stammered.
‘Don’t think about it then, just say it. I know what you’re going to say anyway, if that makes you feel better,’ Misty said gently.
‘It’s just, well, I…’ Ash stopped, his nerves threatening to overcome him. Misty smiled at him encouragingly. ‘I love you Misty. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long, only I was too afraid, I think.’ Misty sighed, and edged closer to Ash.
‘I feel the same way.’ Misty said. ‘You’ve got no idea how long I’ve waited to hear you say that.’ Misty put her arms around Ash, and his around her. They kissed then, for the first time; long they sat in each others arms, and when at last they came apart, Misty lay her head on Ash’s shoulder, their hands met and clasped tightly together, and they sat looking down upon sleeping Power of the sea.
Only a rumble from Ash’s stomach, much later, broke the silence.
Misty giggled. ‘Well, now I know its really you anyway, I’d begun to wonder. We must have been here for ages; I guess we should get back, especially if your stomach says its time for a meal.’ She said. Both stood up and walked hand in hand back to the cave.
Dinner that evening, for dinner time it was, was a merry affair, and they stayed up talking late in to the night, swapping news and stories. Ash was the first to go to bed, his body was aching from the long underground walk, and he felt weary of mind too, for he had had much to think about during the course of the day. He cast himself down upon his makeshift bed on the floor, and fell asleep immediately.
As Ash slept it seemed to him that a strong, calming voice spoke in his dreams, relating in detail all the events of their journey, except there were slight changes. As he listened, he saw, or felt, how their story was connected with the lives of all those it affected, and how its effects on them were part of a never ceasing chain in the flowing steam of time, and it seemed to him that a great river did unfold before him, the changes of colour and hue within it to intricate for the mortal mind to follow, and within it ran not only his story but the story of every person who had lived, the great stream of time in which the event which were unfolding before him were only a small part, soon to be forgotten.
Ash awoke to see Brock, Misty and Sasha huddled together in a corner. It had been Brock’s voice which had been speaking, and it seemed that he had been telling Misty the tale of their journey in its entirety. From Misty’s eyes a lone tear fell to the ground.
January 2nd, 2008, 11:01 PM
The Power of the Sea
For the most part their days beneath the Moon Island were very dull, each day they would take it in turns to go down in pairs and keep watch over Kyogre. In truth there was really no need for the watch, for there was no sign of any living thing in any of the caves. The only reason they bothered was because there was very little else to do beneath the earth, only watching and waiting. Ash had imagined everything building to some kind of exciting conclusion upon their arrival at the islands, but as the days went by they began to face the increasing possibility that nothing could happen for a long time, while Team Aqua continued searching for Misty in the world outside. Ash’s relationship with Misty continued to improve each day they spent in each other’s company, the barrier which had seemed to exist between them for the last four years had finally collapsed, and they began instead to notice for the first time how remarkably well they understood each other, often they were able to anticipate what the other was thinking before any words were spoken. But, in spite of their dreary time deep beneath the island, it did come to an end eventually, and this is how it came about.
One evening, about three weeks after Ash’s arrival at the islands, all four of them were to be found, sitting side by side on the same stone shelf in Kyogre’s cave that Ash and Misty had sat upon many nights before. They were talking quietly together, voicing each others concerns about their situation.
‘It’s kinda weird,’ said Ash. ‘We haven’t seen or heard anything from Team Aqua for the last three weeks. Is it normal for them to stay away for so long?’
‘No, it doesn’t seem quite right. They normally leave it quite awhile between visits, but never this long; they normally send someone down at least once a week.’ Misty agreed. ‘But still, we shouldn’t be complaining really. The less we see of Team Aqua the better. I’ve got the computer linked to Team Aqua’s network, and as far as I can tell, they’re still searching for me around Cerulean City.’ Misty froze, for as she spoke, a sarcastic woman’s voice drifted from the entrance of the cave, cutting her off.
‘Misty, did you really think we’re quite as stupid as all that. Infiltrating Team Aqua once might have worked, but don’t you think twice is pressing your luck a little?’ The voice said. In to the light of the cave stepped a tall slender woman, it was she who had spoken. Misty regarded her with the purest loathing.
‘Well, yes, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that you were that stupid,’ Misty said in disgust.
The woman wore a tight fitting navy body suit; her thick, bushy red hair, framed a face which would have been quite beautiful, had it not been wearing a look of sneering contempt. Ash gasped as he saw the woman, he recognised her, the same woman they had seen on Dewford Island, leading Team Aqua against Team Magma, the Tactical Commander herself. ‘We thought you might be here, we followed your foolish friends here and they confirmed it for us.’ The Commander said. Misty got to her feet.
‘And just what exactly do you think you’re going to do to us now that you’ve found us?’ Misty said heatedly. She had taken the insult on her friends very personally.
‘Oh, I don’t plan to do anything with you, at least not yet. I have far more important matters to deal with, and since you have been so kind as to deliver the Indigo Orb to me in person, I might as well get started now.’ The Commander said smirking.
‘Did you really think we’d be stupid enough to bring the Indigo Orb here with us?’ Misty said with a laugh.
‘Yes, I know you would be. And if you won’t be kind enough to give it to me freely, and insist on playing these foolish games, I guess I’ll just have to force your hand,’ said the Commander.
‘Just try it,’ said Ash, getting to his feet.
‘Very well,’ The Tactical Commander plunged her hand in to her pocket and pulled out an Orb. The Orb was a bright red, and in the hands of the Commander glowed as though filled with blood. The light it gave looked as though it came from a great depth, yet as she held it aloft, facing Kyogre, its radiance grew brighter, and it spread until it covered everything in the room. At first it looked as though nothing would happen, but as they watched, colour slowly began creeping through Kyogre’s sleeping body, slowly at first but going faster all the time, its upper half turning to a deep blue, its belly to white, a thin red band ran around its fins, glowing bright red, even bright in comparison to the light of the Rose Orb. As the last grey patches faded, the light of the Orb grew dim once more.
‘Now, you must produce the Indigo Orb, unless you wish for you and all your friends to face the rage of Kyogre.’ The Tactical Commander said triumphantly. Ash’s arm twitched, but before he could reach for the Orb, Misty nudged him gently with her elbow, and whispered to him.
‘Don’t do anything, wait and watch,’ she hissed. Kyogre stirred in the pool. It turned its head from side to side, and its eyes came to rest upon the Tactical Commander, still holding the Rose Orb aloft in one hand. From Kyogre came a long, deep cry; it brought to mind whale song, but it was far deeper and more melodious, and it trembled with hidden malice. High above, Ash, Misty, Brock and Sasha trembled, for the call of Kyogre reverberated throughout their bodies, and their hearts quailed before it. The Tactical Commander, who looked little better than they, caught sight of them. They still were showing no sign of producing the Indigo Orb, and she opened her mouth to yell something at them, but her words were cut short. Two large fins rose high above their heads, and struck the walls of the cavern. Huge chunks of rock fell all around them, some quite close to where they stood on their high shelf. Once again Kyogre’s fins rose, and this time the blow was harder. The very ground beneath them trembled with the force of the blow; above them a large portion of the roof cracked, and fell crashing in to the lake. Through the gap in the roof the sky showed, dark and stormy, and through the hole rain was falling. Kyogre gave one beat of its almighty fins, and it was flying. Ever higher it rose, until it was clear of the island, Ash had a fleeting glimpse of it streaking across the sky, and it was gone.
‘Oh my,’ said Misty in shock. ‘With power like that, what could it do to the rest of the world?’
‘Come on Misty, we’ve got to get moving.’ Ash said, tugging at her arm.
‘But how can we get out, it’ll take us ages to get back to where you guys got in, even if we could find the place again?’ Misty said.
‘We’ve learnt a trick or two Misty. Go Lotad!’ Brock cried, hurling a PokéBall high in to the air, releasing his Lotad in a blaze of white light. Brock reached in to his pack and pulled out a thick coil of rope, stooping down he tied one end of it to a rock.
‘Ok Lotad, Water Gun!’ Brock commanded, hurling the rock high in to the air. Lotad opened its mouth and fired a jet of water from it; the water caught the rock in mid air and carried it high in to the air, through the hole in the roof and out of the cavern. Brock pulled hard on the rope, but it held fast.
‘Quick Sasha,’ said Brock, ‘Go and get our stuff, quickly!’ Sasha obeyed, rushing from the cave and back along the tunnel. A minute later she returned, carrying all of their gear. ‘You had to admire her strength,’ thought Ash, Sasha came carrying all four of their packs as though they were no weight at all. As soon as she returned, Brock turned and called to the others.
‘C’mon, up the rope quickly!’ He cried, climbing up the rope with ease. Then Misty followed, rather more cautiously, but still with good speed. Ash was about to follow when he was stopped by a call from Sasha.
‘Ash, wait, what about the Tactical Commander?’ she asked. Ash looked, and saw the Tactical Commander laying several feet away, knocked unconscious by falling rubble. In her hand lay the Rose Orb, glowing faintly. Ash stooped and took from her the Rose Orb; in his hand it no longer glowed with a dull red but a fierce fire.
‘It’s nothing more than you deserve,’ Ash muttered as he took the Orb, then he turned and ascended the rope himself. Only once Sasha was safely up the rope did Ash look up at the world around him, and the scene which met his eyes was one of the strangest he had ever set eyes on. All above were heavy black storm clouds, thunder rumbled overhead, and a heavy rain was falling, heavier than any Ash had ever experienced, yet the air was perfectly calm, not a breath of wind stirred.
‘Are we in the eye of the storm?’ Ash muttered to himself.
There came from above them the sound of beating wings. Looking up they saw a Skarmory descending through the air towards them. It alighted on the rocks beside them, and from its back leaped a young man, tall and upright, with short silver hair; none other than Steven Stone, the son of the Devon Corporation’s president. Ash and Brock had met Steven on a previous occasion, Misty and Sasha however looked upon him with wonder.
‘I wondered if I might find you here Ash,’ said Steven. ‘I saw Kyogre leaving this island at great speed; it was heading yonder to Sootopolis City in the west. I don’t know who awakened Kyogre, but it must be stopped, this storm is its doing! If Kyogre is not calmed, the waters of the world will continue to rise and flood the planet. You still have the Indigo Orb don’t you?’ Ash looked at Steven in surprise.
‘How did you…’ he began, but he was cut off.
‘Very good,’ Steven continued. ‘I will go ahead to Sootopolis, it may be that Sootopolis will yield some answers. Follow me with all the speed you can. I will await you there.’ With that, Steven mounted Skarmory and they were away, the steel grey Pokémon invisible against the darkened sky.
‘How are we supposed to get to Sootopolis though?’ Misty said.
‘Err, your sisters lent us your boat, we came here in that,’ Ash said sheepishly. To his relief however, Misty didn’t seem to care. They scrambled for several minutes around the rocky shores of the island until they came to the boat, still as they had left it behind the row of boulders. Luckily it seemed that Team Aqua was none too vigilant when it came to guarding the surface of the island, although Ash imagined the chaos that must even then be breaking out below the surface, as they discovered that Kyogre had vanished.
They departed Moon Island, Misty now at the helm. Ruthlessly, yet with great skill she piloted the boat far faster than Ash or Sasha had ever dared to go, so that within half an hour the island of Sootopolis rose before them out of the west, dark and forbidding it looked to them.
Sootopolis Island was in fact an extinct volcano. Eons ago when the volcano died, the weather had hollowed out its insides, so that when modern colonist’s fist reached the island, it looked to be the ideal place for a city. In the centre of the volcano was a wide, calm lake, formed by the rains of the passing centuries; around the shores of this lake was built Sootopolis City, the buildings carved from the sides of the volcano itself. At the northern end of the lake stood the ancient lava dome of the volcano, hollowed out by a lost civilisation in ancient times, the cave within was known as the Cave of Origin, in which it was said the spirits of Pokémon were restored.
Thus was Sootopolis as Ash, Misty, Brock and Sasha beheld it, driving the boat through a hollowed-out channel in the volcano’s wall, they came at last out on to the lake, and in to Sootopolis’ wide harbour. As they climbed ashore, Steven strode up to meet them from one of the nearby houses.
‘I have spoken with a friend of mine, Wallace, the gym leader here in Sootopolis,’ said Steven. ‘About an hour ago, he says Kyogre came upon the city in great wrath. It entered through the mouth of the volcano above us and dived straight in to the lake. It now resides in the Cave of Origins, which you can see to the north of us.’
‘So, what are we going to do now?’ Ash asked. Steven sighed, and turned to face Ash gravely.
‘I’m afraid it’s not we, but you alone Ash. Your destiny is intertwined with those of the Orbs which govern the powers in this world. You are the Chosen One spoken of in the ancient legends, that much is certain from the events of Shamouti Island alone. Yet if you need more convincing, look to the Orbs themselves. In the hands of others they have but a dim light; in your hands only do they show their true nature and powers. I do not ask this of you, I have no right to, but if you would do so of your own will, you must go in to the Cave of Origins, wielding the Indigo Orb before Kyogre. And look, time is already running short.’ Steven pointed to the cave. Large cracks were beginning to show in the roof. ‘The walls of that cave are much larger and thicker than those of the cave on the Moon Island. Kyogre will not survive if those walls collapse, nor will we if Kyogre dies, for the powers which it governs, the storm and the sea…they shall arise in tumult and destroy all the lands in their wrath.’
‘I…I’m not…not sure I can do it, not alone.’ Ash stammered.
‘Remember,’ Misty said, squeezing his arm, ‘You won’t be.’ She embraced Ash tightly and then they drew apart. Ash’s eyes hardened, he stooped and picked up Pikachu from the ground, placing it on his shoulder. He waved to the others, his cloak swirled before them and he was gone, racing through the silent, empty streets of Sootopolis, past dark windows of the houses, towards the Cave of Origins. Far off, Misty watched Ash disappear through the tall pillared doors of the cave.
‘Good luck Ash.’ Misty murmured. Sasha put a comforting arm on Misty’s shoulder.
For a long time they looked out over the lake in silence, and it seemed that there was no change. Then, a loud disastrous noise reached their ears from across the water, the sound of overburdened stone groaning under its own weight. From the widening cracks in the roof of the cave came a soft golden glow, then, to the dismay of those watching, the walls and roof of the cave collapsed inwards, throwing clouds of dust and rubble high in to the air, followed by a hissing noise; water was flooding in to the ruins of the cave. As they watched they found themselves crying openly, as their friend, and the noble Pokémon were buried beneath the ruins.
Long they stood, gazing out in to the haze before them. High above, the clouds parted and the sun came out, casting beams of dappled light upon the water through the dust, and it seemed to them that two bodies came floating forth from the ruins, one small and yellow, the other a boy, clad in a handsome cloak of white. As the bodies floated closer, they saw that it was indeed Ash and Pikachu. Pikachu seemed unharmed, but it gazed sadly at the motionless body of Ash, as Brock and Steven hauled it from the water. Ash’s hands were outstretched, in one was an Ultra Ball, and in the other was the Indigo Orb. The light of the Orb was dull, and no hint of its old fire remained within its depths. The power of the Indigo Orb was dead.
Brock and Misty knelt over Ash; tears rolled from Misty’s cheeks and fell upon the face of Ash, silent in final defeat.
January 2nd, 2008, 11:04 PM
Old Harms Healed
Silence reigned. It was Misty’s halting voice which first broke the silence.
‘Wherever you are Ash, you’ll never be alone, you’ve got me. Always.’ Misty said quietly, and then she choked and would say no more. Brock looked on, his grief beyond words, his face hard.
At the sound of Misty’s crying, something far inside Ash, beyond his heart or his soul, something buried far deeper, within his very essence, awoke within him. A voice was calling to him…a voice…from outside. It was drawing him back…again. The Indigo Orb, which lay still in his hand, flared brightly. Ash sat bolt upright, his eyes wild and staring, his throat tearing with sudden harsh breath.
‘Ash, you’re alright!’ cried Misty in disbelief. ‘We thought you were…’ Ash’s wild eyes focused upon Misty, they met hers, and gradually some of the wild terror in his heart began to abate. At last he spoke.
‘I have died once before, and I willed myself to come back. This was different. I almost felt as if…’ Ash trailed off thoughtfully.
‘As if you were called back,’ said Steven. ‘Yes Ash, your destiny on this earth has not yet been fulfilled and you have been brought back by the powers which govern your destiny, at least until your task upon this earth is done.’ Slowly goosebumps erupted all over Ash, and he stared at Steven long and hard.
‘What are you Steven?’ he whispered. ‘What are you talking about...the powers that govern my destiny?’ Steven shook his head sadly.
‘I’ve seen so much in this world…too much I think. No, I can’t tell you, because I don’t know myself. Who am I…’ All at once the spell between them broke, and Ash looked around frantically.
‘Was there an Ultra Ball, did you see…’ he began.
‘It’s in your hand Ash.’ Brock said laughing. ‘But why…’
‘You are going to pay so dearly,’ said a voice of cold fury from behind Ash. He got to his feet and turned around. Before him stood the Tactical Commander, as well as three men clad in Team Aqua uniform. The Tactical Commander looked livid with rage, and held a Pokéball in either hand.
‘It’s your fault Kyogre’s buried down there beneath that pile of rock; I’ll have your head for this.’ The Tactical Commander’s voice shook with rage. Ash spoke, but his voice shook with suppressed laughter.
‘I don’t think so somehow.’ Ash poised the Ultra Ball in his hand and through it high in to the air. The ball burst open in a blaze of yellow light, the Pokémon forming was huge, the light faded, and Kyogre hovered in the air before them. Misty’s jaw dropped in amazement, Steven held back a laugh with some difficulty.
‘Wha…’ the Tactical Commander began, but she never finished.
‘You’re way out of your league. Kyogre, get rid of them!’ Ash cried. Kyogre opened its mouth, shooting forth a colossal burst of water straight at Team Aqua, who were standing right beside Misty’s moored boat. The impact crumpled the steel like tin-foil, and it was blasted apart, piercing the motor which exploded, throwing all four members of Team Aqua clear of the island and out of sight. Ash flinched, and braced himself for the far more terrible explosion that he knew must come. Sure enough, Misty’s voice broke the ensuing silence.
‘You… caught Kyogre?’ she stammered in awe. Ash blinked, unable to believe his good fortune.
‘Only to save its life, I guess I’d better let it go now,’ he said, preparing to cast the Ultra Ball in to the sea, but Steven stayed his hand.
‘No Ash, keep it. You would not have been able to capture Kyogre if you were not meant to; it has always been thought that it was impossible to capture the legendary Pokémon, but you have done so. It may prove crucial one day.’ Steven said. Ash’s face broke in to a wide smile.
‘Yes!’ he cried, ‘I caught Kyogre!’ Ash recalled Kyogre, and it disappeared back in to the ball in a flash of light.
A strange whining noise from above filled the air, and Ash looked up. Away beyond the clouds, a rainbow arched across the sky, and from behind the rainbow flew towards them a beautiful Pokémon, its fiery red and green plumage glittered bright in the morning sunshine. Only Ash amongst all those present had ever seen it before, on his very first day as a trainer it had appeared to him, the day he first met Misty, then again as he sat alone in Pallet Town, contemplating the very journey that had brought him to the Hoenn Region, and now it flew above him once more. As they watched, a small something fell from the beak of the Pokémon, growing larger all the time. The something landed beside Ash. It was a book, leather bound and obviously ancient, its red cover and pages had been scorched all around the edges. On its cover was very faint writing in faded gold, which read only ‘A Story’.
‘That was…a legendary Pokémon. It is said that it appears only to those trainers who are blessed with special gift, or who have a special purpose. And that book… I believe it is an ancient chronicle or fable, which is normally kept under tight guard at the Tin Tower in Ecruteak City. I’ve only heard of it, but it’s supposed to tell the whole legend about the Orbs, from beginning to end. I wonder what this could signify…In any case, I must go and inform the authorities that all is well.’ Steven walked off at a great pace. Ash stood still and silent for a long while, gazing out east where Ho-oh had vanished beyond the clouds. He knew what lay that way, and it called to him.
‘Well, now that everything’s going to be ok, are you going to tell us what happened in the Cave of Origins?’ Sasha interrupted. And so, Ash told them his tale, although, with all their interruptions it made rather a poor one, but this is what happened.
Entering through the pillared doors, Ash found himself in a vast cave. The path ran clear before him to the far side of the room; on either side of the path marched a row of ancient pillars. Ash ran the full length of the path, until he came to the far end, where he had to slow his pace, for before him was a low, narrow spiral staircase. He descended this, many thousands of stairs downwards, taking care not to hit his head on the ceiling, until he came once more on to the level. Coming out of a narrow tunnel, Ash found himself in a cave very similar to the one beneath the Moon Island. An almost identical lake shimmered before him in the centre of the cavern, mists drifted through the air, and many small blue crystals studded the roof and walls, glowing slightly with their own light. Many large cracks were showing in the roof of the cavern. As Ash entered, Kyogre turned a single yellow eye upon him.
‘Kyogre, stop this!’ Ash cried. ‘You’re going to destroy yourself!’ A low groaning was Ash’s only answer, and Kyogre struck the roof of the cave with its head. Ash plunged his hand in to his pocket and drew out the Indigo Orb, holding it aloft. The radiance of the Orb was almost blinding, but it continued to grow until it was almost unbearable. Seeing the Orb, Kyogre ceased its attack on the cave and turned to face Ash full on. The roof groaned, and large chunks began to fall all around him. Realising that he had only seconds, without thinking Ash took from his pack an Ultra Ball, and hurled it straight at Kyogre. The ball opened, a brilliant golden aurora surrounded Kyogre, the light flooded back in to the ball, and the ball returned to Ash’s hands. At that moment a large piece of the ceiling fell and struck Ash on the back of the head, he fell forward in to the lake, and knew no more.
Ash finished his tale; he looked up and saw Steven walking towards them, accompanied by Officer Jenny. Ash could see Brock trying very hard to restrain himself under Sasha’s watchful eye; Brock had always been very taken by the Jenny’s, all of whom looked identical. Officer Jenny smiled at Ash as she approached.
‘Steven has just told me what you did today Ash,’ she said. ‘You have saved our whole city and the rest of the world too. If there is any service that any citizen in Sootopolis can render you, it is yours.’ Ash began to say that there was nothing he wanted, and then turned guiltily to Misty
‘This time, I’m going to make things right straight away,’ he said to her. She smiled slyly.
‘Don’t think that means I’m going to stop following you this time Ash Ketchum,’ she whispered in his ear. Then Ash turned back to Jenny.
‘Actually there is something,’ he said. ‘Is there a good boat yard in Sootopolis?’ Jenny nodded. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll stop by the dry-dock on the way to the Pokémon Centre,’ she said. ‘We’ll set you up with a new boat, then I daresay you could all use a rest. Wish I could, but someone’s got to do something about all the wreckage.’
‘How many times have people had to say that after Ash visited?’ Brock chuckled.
That evening, Ash, Misty, Brock and Sasha sat to dinner together in the Sootopolis Pokémon Centre. Steven had bid them farewell earlier, saying that he felt it was time he went home and visited his family.
‘This sure has been a hectic month or so hasn’t it?’ said Brock cheerfully.
‘I’m glad everything turned out well for us in the end,’ said Sasha. ‘But what do we do now, are we continuing on your badge collecting journey?’ Ash sighed, and wouldn’t meet her eye.
‘We’ve only just started to get to know you Sasha, and we’ve got so much to look forward to together on our journey, but not now. I’m sorry…but…I’ve got to go. Go home…Misty and I have been talking, and I’ve decided to go back to Kanto for a bit of a rest for a while. There are some things from this journey that I need to try and work out of my system.’
‘Are you going to Cerulean City?’ Brock said with a smile. Ash nodded. ‘There’s nothing like a bit of soul searching, I reckon it’ll do you some good.’
‘I hope so,’ said Ash.
The following morning they departed Sootopolis City in Misty’s brand new boat, donated free-of-charge by the Sootopolis shipyard. It was a beautiful craft; spacious yet speedy, indeed it housed the four of them more than comfortably. They travelled slowly, for there was no longer any hurry, and they were all content to merely watch the land drift by, so that they came to Cerulean City at the end of their ninth day at sea. There, Ash and Misty said farewell to Brock and Sasha. Brock had invited Sasha to come home with him to Pewter City to meet his family, an invitation which she gladly accepted.
‘Just make sure you give us a call when you decide to continue your journey!’ Sasha cried as they rounded the bend in the road that would take them from sight, past Mount Moon, and eventually home. Ash and Misty returned to her house on Cerulean Cape, and there they spent their days happily together in peace. Every day Ash grew a little more like his old self, and the memory of his journey along Route 119 grew dimmer and dimmer, yet when Misty looked in to his eyes, she still saw, or thought she saw, a slight change. Perhaps it was merely a change in his expression, but at times she fancied a shadow passed across his eyes, a shadow which did not grow dim.
Several months later, Ash and Misty sat together on the cliffs of Cerulean Cape, watching the final rinds of the sun boil away in to the horizon, in a brilliant tracery of gold and red. A peaceful calm reined, the quiet evening air disturbed only by the far off sound of waves breaking gently on the shore, and the cry of a lone gull. Misty sat gazing out across the water, watching the ever changing reflections of light and shade playing across its surface. Ash however, gazed out westwards, to where the dark mountains of Johto brooded on the horizon. Misty cuddled up closer to Ash, but Ash gave no sign of noticing, his body remained still as though he were carven of the very hillside.
‘What’s wrong Ash?’ said Misty quietly. He gave no reply, and she followed his gaze out westwards, to the mountains. ‘You want to go, don’t you? To Johto.’ Ash nodded.
‘I’ll be happy there, as long as I’m with you.’ Misty said.
‘It’s not just Johto you know. It’s Shamouti too,’ Ash said. ‘Maybe even stay there for a while…would you be happy, even if it meant settling down on Shamouti Island for a while?’’
‘Of course, I said I’ll be happy and I will be.’
‘Soon, but to Johto first,’
‘We can go, whenever you like’ Misty said.
January 2nd, 2008, 11:05 PM
The sun glinted on the trainer’s sunglasses as he bent and cut the cords from the Arcanine.
‘Thanks for the help,’ said the girl.
‘Oh, no problem,’ said the trainer, straightening up. ‘I’ve been dealing with those guys for years.’
‘You’re kind of familiar.’ Said the girl. ‘But I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. Are you here on holiday?’
‘I should look familiar, you can’t have forgotten me already.’ The trainer swept the sunglasses from his face.
The journey will continue in ‘Pokémon: The Last Island’…