Well, after a long time with no updates, I ought to post the latest chapter here too, even if I haven't been having many readers. <.<"
The large bird could be easily confused with a ruffled ball of feathers because of the way it had folded its wings and concealed the head, leaving behind long strings of hair ranging from red to yellow, no matter how unfitting it seemed for the landscape.
Sleeping by the window, Pidgeot had practically devoured the berry trees on the soft soil beside it. A few half eaten berries were still on the ground, segregating a juicy liquid that shone under the increasingly warm sun.
Not long ago, a man had come outside the hut and taken the two humans; but it hesitated when it was about to take the boy. Not that the Pokémon even cared, it wasn’t his job to escort him.
His mission was accomplished, per say; all he had to do now was wait for David to return.
So, sleeping by the rather small hut, taking refuge from the sun under the straw ceiling that would cover another hut like that, Pidgeot reluctantly listened to the constant hums and groans that came from inside.
The cause for these constant laments was the young boy the bird accidentally brought along as extra cargo. Lying on a small couch by the window, the blanket covering him seemed like an old rag from all the shaking and rolling during his sleep. His hair was a messy amount of black, also a product of his slumber.
A pile of well arranged clothes was placed on the table just next to him, including five Pokéballs and a Pokédex.
The sun, peering from the spaces between the logs of which the wall was made, acquired a light orange color that resembled a sunset instead of a sunrise, illuminating the dust particles flying everywhere in the hut and the old, thin carpet that served as the only thing between feet and wood.
An aged fan kept the air inside the hut fresh, but it was basically the only thing that moved. The hut seemed to be inert in time. It was a boring yet comfortable atmosphere, the perfect house for the beach days that so often flooded Caitla Port with people from all over.
The moving of a small, yellow creature broke the hut’s monotony. The brown stripes on its back, along with the creature’s slim body were easily mistaken for the floor beneath, and made it seem like three brunette lines were moving by themselves towards the sofa.
Its ears, tipped with black, twitched slightly as the curious creature observed the human.
The latter hummed silently, turning yet again on the couch.
This alone triggered even further curiosity, so the creature swiftly jumped, landing on the human’s chest like a feather.
Approaching him, it began to sniff his head; the creature’s ears twitched even more, a notorious sign that whatever the scent, it was sparkling more and more curiosity. The human hummed yet again, this time shaking his head to the sides in a violent manner.
Tilting its head, the creature stood up on the two rear paws, watching as the human seemed to contort in pain.
After showing some signs of easing, the creature took its chances again and approached the human’s face, this time touching it with the front paws.
The human finally opened an eye, but closed it again after humming something.
A frown came to the creature’s face.
“Who’s… who’s there…?” He finally spoke very slowly, narrowing his eyes while these adapted to the light.
A blur of yellow covered his view, mixed with a strange palette of orange and brown.
He began to recover his senses; first the soft material that wrapped him, then the salty air from outside. A fresh breeze comforted him; but then it went away.
The blur became somewhat clearer… it was now a yellow silhouette, but the background remained hazy.
But the yellow silhouette… he would have recognized it any time…
“P-… Pikachu…?” He stammered, quickly sitting up. A sudden thought led him to realize he had barely any clothes on, so he took the blanket and kept it on his legs.
The boy immediately rubbed his eyes, in order to get a better view of what was now on his lap. He wanted to know… it had to be him. It just had to.
And his happiness nearly got stuck in his throat after he opened his eyes; his heart raced in thrill and joy.
“Pikachu…!” He couldn’t understand… why didn’t he move? Why didn’t he even speak? Why did he stay still, watching the Pokémon with a saddened look? Why didn’t he just…
A hug. At last, the boy lunged forward and embraced the Pikachu, feeling the tears running up to the eyes; why was he crying now? Hadn’t he just found his companion?
Questions that raced through his mind at the same speed as his heart beats, all of which left behind a single fact he considered fundamental to know: he was finally there.
“Pikachu…” He began sobbing, affectively hugging the Pikachu as a string of tears ran down his face. “Why… when… how did I even lose you…?”
The boy paused to wipe off the tears, pushing the Pokémon away again.
“It… it doesn’t matter now! We’re together again and…”
“Pikachu.” An older, graver voice called from the other side of the room.
The Pokémon didn’t hesitate in jumping off the boy’s grasp, running towards a doorway just opposed the couch.
Ash’s confused eyes and a trembling hand followed the Pikachu’s course all the way up to a rather short man’s shoulder. A beard fell from the man’s wide chin, opposed to his perfectly bald head.
“Oh…” Ash sniveled, lowering his hand. “I… I see…”
The man started walking, its thick boots producing clicks on the wood they stepped. Elderly eyes gazed upon Ash with comforting looks, even as the man sat on the couch by the boy.
“Am sorry.” He spoke again, his deep voice heavily marked by a sailor accent. “Pikachu, apologize to the lad.”
“It’s… it’s okay…” Ash interrupted, leaning back on the couch again. “I should apologize… The Pikachu did nothing…”
The man shrugged and got up, approaching the radio next to a window. The turn of a button played a soft tune from the object, quickly spreading across the hut.
“Aaaah…” The man sighed in contentment. “Radio Docker. Nothin’ like these fella’s to cleanse yer thoughts.”
Though the music wasn’t half-bad, Ash’s thoughts hadn’t left the Pikachu yet. What about his own…? Where was it…?
The happiness he felt for brief moments, would he never feel it again?
“Ahoy.” The man called, sitting on his own rocking chair, gladly rocking back and forth. “What’s yer name?”
“Hum… Ash… Sir…”
“Ash ei?” The man immediately cut in. “Name’s Jackson.”
“Where am I…?”
“Ye’re in Caitla Port. Orthan coast.”
“Orthan…?” Ash repeated, remembering the previous events… how he lost the battle, his Pikachu, his friends… how he was forced to come to that kingdom… “So… I really got here…”
“Aye, ye did! The way ain’t the best, but aye, ye did.”
“What… do you mean?”
“Ye dun’ remember?” Ash shook his head. Indeed, the most recent events were still unclear to him… “I found ye holdin’ to a Pidgeot’s talons. Yer clothes were filthier than the grass, so I got rid of’em for ye.” Ash was about to protest when the man pointed out the rest of the clothes. “But I got new ones, so dun’ worry.”
Ash sat up on the couch again to examine the clothes. They were quotidian clothes… a white shirt with a red Pokéball pattern, some jeans, and a pair of blue, fingerless gloves.
A pair of black and red sneakers was also included among the entire wardrobe.
Needless to say, Ash was somewhat stunned at how caring Jackson had been.
“Now now, lad… Jackson. I ain’t no sir.”
Ash absorbed the request and corrected himself.
“Mr. Jackson.” He repeated to show he had learned the lesson. The man smiled.
With his eyes still laid on the Pikachu, Ash decided it was the right time to make the question.
“Sir…” The man coughed and Ash immediately corrected it. “I mean, Mr. Jackson… That Pikachu… where did you catch it?”
Mr. Jackson laughed a bit and took the Pikachu from his shoulder, placing it on his lap instead.
“I didn’t catch it, lad. A lad just like ye gave it to me some years ago. I said it was better to keep it, but the boy insisted and left it with me. Since then, this rat hasn’t left the hut. I’m surprised it even approached ye.”
“Hum… really?” Ash did agree on the degree of oddness on the Pokémon’s actions, at least according to what the man had just described. He could number some reasons… perhaps the scent of his Pikachu led to this Pikachu’s approach? Even if the clothes weren’t the same, the two tended to mingle very often. So it came as no surprise to him that the sailor reprehended the poor thing’s behavior.
The two paused for a moment. Mr. Jackson’s eyes still observed Ash with an attentive gaze, describing him as a whole and collecting all details on his personality.
For Mr. Jackson was no ordinary sailor, of course. He was the only sailor in Caitla Port, perhaps, the entire bay that bathed the kingdom, who dared to transverse the seas with passengers in such a small yacht. While most sailors loitered the cape, Mr. Jackson’s keen eye and mental dexterity made him quite the fortune out of the simple business of transportation across the bay, building a bridge that was long wished.
The bridge, though, wasn’t as solid as most might think, because Mr. Jackson saw his days of retirement in the horizon, and so hoped to leave his entire commerce to his descendants. Needless to say, these denied the old man this pleasure, so the gap between Caitla and Sitia was once again established, even if some private ships do cross it.
And age hadn’t rusted his senses at all. They became ever sharper, and his companies became as selective as the Pikachu that lives with him. In a way, his own way of speech was a distraction from the real person within.
Rising from the chair, Mr. Jackson started walking towards the door he had entered through, but this time calling Ash as well.
“And, hum… get dressed, first.” He immediately added to point out the clothes, just before a blushing Ash threw the blanket away.
The young trainer didn’t waste time getting dressed; not after such a nice person offered him decent clothing to replace his other one. However mundane, the clothes were comfortable and would allow him to blend in easily with the port town’s people. They reminded him of the day he received his first Pokémon, in Pallet Town, both because of their color and their aspect overall. Remembering the time when he went against Gary, though, only reminded him of more pains he suffered and would suffer from. These pains – exclusively his, for even the thought of sharing the pain with Mr. Jackson pained him – were something he’d rather not think of, but continuously thought about. Friends – and rivals alike – whose location or condition were unknown.
Ash met Mr. Jackson at the end of a short corridor, clearly decorated to suit a very seaside style, due to its abundance in seashells and Heart Scales – these were scattered along the ceiling as well, giving Ash the feeling of walking under a thousand Luvdiscs.
He found a very interesting item sitting on top of a decorative table; it had the curious shape of a shell, yet resembled a bell in many ways. A crimson hold kept it hanging from the ceiling with a string, which granted the item some mobility as Ash walked by. The pendular movement it printed produced a very silent melody that echoed across the wood walls, rewarding its listeners with a soothing moment.
“Found’em shell inside a rock’n Mount’n Pinnacle.” Mr. Jackson readily explained, reaching for the doorknob. Ash was about to add something, but the man raised an open hand to demand silence. “Ye weren’t alone. ‘Em Pidgeot outside carried ye here on its talons. But some’n else on the back.”
A short memory of grabbing hold of a big bird’s paw came to his mind, but the reason remained shrouded.
It became clear however, as Mr. Jackson pulled the door very slowly, allowing Ash to peek inside and see with his own eyes what obscure reason had propelled him to jump off the Dragonite’s back and instead risk his life.
A tear came to his eye.
“M-May…” He stuttered, lounging forward as if the girl lying on the bed would fall into some invisible void to grab her hand. Ash pushed his head against her hand, clutching it uncontrollably yet with care. A bandage was placed around her naked arm, kept over the clean, white sheets.
A weak light from within the window blinds illuminated her sleeping face, showing her calm expression even after the events.
Ash couldn’t control the tears that streamed down his face; they weren’t tears of sadness, but of joy: he had finally found someone. That was what mattered. And that alone restored in him some of that confidence he felt upon entering the sunken S.S. Quest.
Getting up very slowly, never letting go of her hand, Ash passed his own hand over her forehead, brushing her hair very softly. But as soon as his palm touched her skin, the confidence drowned in shock.
“She’s… she’s burning up with fever…” His gasp didn’t seem to be much of a surprise to Mr. Jackson’s already grave face.
“Aye… The lass’s suffering from hypothermia…” The sailor admitted, reaching for a mortar and a pestle on a small wooden table at the bed’s feet.
It contained a dark-green semiliquid substance, which Mr. Jackson pounded even more, until the substance started to ooze a light-green liquid. Using a wooden cup, he poured the liquid inside and opened May’s mouth, dropping the resultant fluid until she swallowed it.
The remaining liquid was deposited on the mortar again, and the utilities kept in their place.
“A natural medicine. There ain’t better cure for a fever like that than good ol’ pulverized Ivysaur petals.” Mr. Jackson explained after seeing the perplexed looks Ash threw at the bowl. “But it ain’t enough! I need more! And the only place I can get more is in either Victala or Litindle! The pharmacies in Caitla can’t dispense what I need!”
The two names were completely extraterrestrial to Ash; they could very well be the names of two cities, but ranging from their location to their aspect, Ash knew nothing. He was actually starting to wonder if he even wanted to stay in that kingdom now.
“If ye were to go there…” Mr. Jackson continued, sitting at the end of the bed. “I bet the lass’d be grateful.”
“Me…? T-travel?!” Ash stammered again, however unsurprised by the request. “But… I don’t even know where those places are…”
It was undeniably true; Brock had been his only orientation throughout his journey. And when he wasn’t, somebody else would.
But here, Ash felt like he would be speaking in a foreign language nobody’d understand. Was it even worth a try? What if he failed? But would he just let his friend, the only friend whose life was still hanging by a string, but hanging nonetheless?
“That’s no problem, lad.” A smile appeared in Mr. Jackson’s face. “Pikachu here knows the way there…”
Ash’s look flew over to the Pokémon on the sailor’s shoulder.
“Aye. Ye can take Pikachu with ye. That is, of course…” The sailor continued before Ash’s cries of joy ensued. “…if ye leave me yer other Pokémon. Insurance policy, ye get me? Ye can have’em when ye get back with’em medicine. Dun’ think me wrong, lad.”
“My other Pokémon…?” Ash repeated, considering the proposal.
Here occurred a collision of interests, for Ash wasn’t necessarily at his best state of emotion. Stimulated by May and the offer of the Pikachu, his emotional side could override common sense, in other words, his obvious choice in another case.
Taking Pikachu’d grant him some last moments with one of his best partner’s kind, but it’d also mean taking a greater risk than taking the team he raised by himself.
But of course, the decision had already been taking ever since he woke up.
“I… I…” He hesitated briefly. And rising his head, Ash took the decision with as firm conviction as his closed fist. “I’ll do it.”
“That’s the spirit, lad!” Mr. Jackson commended, patting him on the shoulder. This also allowed Pikachu to walk from one man to the other, this time staying on Ash’s shoulder.
A faint happiness came to Ash for a moment; feeling a Pikachu there again… he longed for the time when he’d get a partner as great, as trustworthy, as familiar, as his again.
The sailor’s eyes intercepted Ash’s for a moment.
“The journey ain’t easy, mate.” Mr. Jackson said, honestly smiling. It was an inspiring expression, and Ash found in it the warmth his beloved ones transmitted to him when he was about to depart to another journey, to another region, to another adventure.
Before, Ash relied only in his singular partner to start a new journey through a new place. It was somewhat strange to him that, after so much time doing that, he had to start it out with the team he would’ve otherwise left behind.
The same team he now saw being handed out to Mr. Jackson’s hand, one Pokéball by one. Showing signs of good faith, Mr. Jackson politely placed them by May’s bed, throwing a glance at Ash to prove he wasn’t doing it pointlessly.
As the sailor walked back, a piece of paper was now flying in his hand. The parchment was promptly put on Ash’s hand.
“That’d be them ingredients I need. More specifically, a Melissa Herb.” He explained while reaching for the interior of his navy blue jacket. Before even being able to see what it was, Mr. Jackson laid an item on Ash’s hand, keeping it closed. “Ye can take this, too… As a guarantee I shall keep me promise.”
Ash’s was about to open the hand when Mr. Jackson continued. “Please… not here.”
The young trainer stood puzzled, his anticipation trying to decipher what was that the sailor had offered him. It seemed triangular shaped… from what his hand, still sore from the flight, could feel.
“Time is of essence.” Mr. Jackson warned, obviously hinting him to leave as soon as possible. Ash nodded and left without a word.
Having been unable to help his friends before… he was evidently vowing to save his last friend in that decrepit land which had brought to him nothing but catastrophe, loss and pain. He swore in his mind; and he had the determination needed.
Finally setting foot outside the hut, he noticed the Pidgeot, asleep once more, next to the berry-bearing trees on soft soil. A smile came to his face; and the thought of thanking the Pidgeot to his mind.
But another look at the hut made him run away, merging with the increasingly busy dock’s crowd. A long breakwater just off the Caitla Port coast; its extent diminished over time, having survived through thick and thin.
The Pikachu on his shoulder provided him all the needed confidence; even if it was a faux confidence, and all of it was just a mere illusion… he knew it; yet, he denied it.
We interrupt this broadcast for breaking news on the sinking of the S.S. Quest in the Animor Sea, five miles off the Orthanian coast. Survivors have been found among the wreckage driven by the waves, shoring at Mt. Pinnacle and at the base of the Sacred Mountain. Among these survivors is the Sinnoh Elite Four Flint, who was found aboard an inflatable raft with other Gym Leaders from Sinnoh and other individuals whose identity is unknown. We have currently no deaths to register, and we will keep up-…
“Seems like Rhyan’s havin’ a tough time…” The fisherman commented, patiently holding the fishing rod. Putting the radio back into his bag, he threw a quick look at the wristwatch. Midday; the busiest time in Caitla Port.
His observation was interrupted by the ringing of a small bell attached to the rod; effectively, the long object was curved downwards. “Ya hear that, Skip?!” He joyfully cried to the Mudkip by his side before grabbing the rod and pulling with all the strength his human body could handle. “We’re takin’ home some big, juicy Remor-…AAH!”
The man couldn’t even finish speaking when he was thrown back by the applied strength’s recoil, helplessly hitting the ground with the back of his head.
The Mudkip leaped backwards when a hand suddenly emerged from the other side of the breakwater, clutching the damp edge with effort.
The Mudkip eventually came to its senses after staying stunned for a split second, now skipping around its trainer to call for its help in incomprehensible yaps.
“What is it, boy?” The man spoke, still rubbing the back of his head from the impact.
His sight was still rather blurry, but he could clearly see a hand on the ground, possibly pushing the rest of the body below. “Whoa, hang on!”
Their hands met; and with the additional strength from the fisherman’s years of experience, the boy below was successfully pushed up, lying on the ground while coughing obese amounts of water.
“Who’re you?! You okay, boy?!” The fisherman flooded the boy with questions as concern lifted and the thoughts of how he’d be rewarded took place.
“I’m… *cough* fine…” The boy replied, getting up and walking towards the edge of the dock again.
“Whoa! Where’re you goin’?!” The man exclaimed as the boy leaned on the edge again.
“Walrein! Get back!” He commanded as a red beam shot from the Pokéball in his hand to reach the surface of the water below. He quivered and stood up, receiving the gentle rays of heat from the sun. “Last time I’m travelling like this… and this time, I mean it…”
“You’re ona’ those guys that got shipwrecked?” The fisherman asked, still curious.
“Yup.” The boy replied, taking a box out of his backpack to hand it to the man. “Name’s David. Keep the rod, that one isn’t giving you any fish.”
And those were his last words before walking off, removing his jacket to get it dry while mumbling a few words on his own.
The fisherman blinked for a few moments, trying to understand what happened before opening the box.
A few sticks, increasingly thick, were well arranged and placed on a surface involved in velvet, next to a long, transparent wire and a reel designed to look like a Pokéball.
A golden plate was attached to the bottom of the box, where the words “Super Rod” were carved.
Needless to say, it left the man speechless.
“Well then, let’s see…” David started, composing his jacket. He put his thumb and index fingers on his lips and loudly whistled a short tune, allowing it to echo across the area, fading away rather quickly.
He waited for a moment, carefully hearing the sounds around him.
Finally, a faint reply was heard; the exact same melody, albeit in a different tone!
“Pidgeot!” David yelled, running across the tall grass to reach a hill; and across the grassy field over it was a hut, a small one in the middle of meager woods.
The plateau was interestingly wide, but completely covered in tall grass, desperately needing to be cut.
“Where could he be…?” The boy muttered, slowly crossing the field.
He came across a particular patch of grass; the soil there seemed to have been dug recently, as the earth from beneath the lawn was spread all around it.
“They must have landed here…” He commented, bending to pick a glove from the ground; he grasped it tightly when he realized who it belonged to. “May.”
But there was another glove next to it, a size larger. Picking it up, David tried to identify who it belonged to; to no avail.
“Pidgeot!” The boy yelled yet again, getting up and following the path to the house.
He was about to enter it when a quiet space of soft soil caught his eye. It was conveniently placed next to the house, and it seemed to be well treated, too; if it weren’t for the fact that all the berry trees had no fruit.
David frowned, walking to the patch of soil.
And right behind the house, he saw it.
“There you are!” He spoke, seeing his Pokémon resting behind the house, small pieces of berries lying on the ground. The Pidgeot woke upon the call, chirping in an annoyed tone. David couldn’t reprehend him, not after having done such a long trip. “Okay, okay… Get inside the Pokéball, I’ll send you back to Saffron so you can fly away again. I’ll just call Lacewing.” The Pokémon nodded and got inside the Pokéball. “Phew… this was a close one…”
His hand reached out for the Pokégear, opening it up to check the regional map.
“Caitla Port is just north of here… I need to get to the center. I’ll get back to her whenever I get my team back.” He commented, staring at the house, then back at the belt in his hand. “I have to give her this back.”
He wanted to start moving, but his eyes couldn’t leave the hut’s straw roof, and mostly wooden walls. They were appealing and looked old, but he still felt it was safe to leave her there, if she was inside. If not, there was not much he could do now.
“Good luck, girl.” He muttered under his breath, walking away to finally embark on a new journey…
One that had already given proof not to be easy…