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REUNION"Gyarados, Hyper Beam!"
By Da Games Elite
A jet of brilliant light exploded from the open jaws of the hungry serpentine aquatic dragon, a jet that burned through the pool of water, searing the droplets of H2O as it tore toward the enemy Houndoom, slamming against the breadth of the creature's skull. The canine foe was thrown from the platform he stood upon as the jet tore into him, enveloping him in sparks of technocolored light. The beast stared at its attacker for an instant with unrelenting horror and rage, before turning toward the woman standing behind it, the one holding the strings of the battle, before the Houndoom was thrown through the wall behind it, piercing its surface, left in the smoldering ruins behind his helpless trainer.
"Houndoom!" the young trainer squealed before turning toward the attacker, the mighty Gyarados glaring down at it, slithering through the water toward the trainer, the mighty jaws agape as it stared down at its prey. "I surrender!"
"Alright then, Gyarados, return!" The Gyarados was ensnared by a red light, a red aura that sucked the serpentine monster back into the clutches of its ball. The trainer held the ball in her hands, tossing it up and down for a few moments as she exhaled, slowly releasing the tension of battle from her lungs as logic and reason gave way to the emotions of the heart. The Houndoom in the wall trembled weakly as the trainer glanced toward the nurse on stand-by. Joy darted toward the defeated dog, several Chansies at her side, as they pulled the fallen beast onto a stretcher, carrying him away. The young trainer was escorted away, his eyes wide with fear, as the gym leader of Cerulean felt her legs give out under her, her head lowered in shame.
She could've killed that Pokemon just now.
She could've hurt that poor trainer's heart and mind.
She could've done something so horrible she'd never forgive herself.
She withdrew the Pokeball from her hip that contained Gyarados. He had
become so mighty, so overwhelmingly powerful as time passed by. Now, the weak trainers just starting on their way who crossed paths with her stood little to no chance against his might. She supposed that was proper for a gym leader, but even so, Misty was never one for overkill.
"Well, let's see here, that makes fifty-four victories in the past month, rounding out your two-hundred win streak since last fall, meaning you've spent the last half a year virtually undefeated," sighed the secretary (her name was Jean, but that was unimportant to the gym leader at the moment) as Misty abandoned her pool, her skin pale and clammy, a moisture completely unrelated to the pool she had battled on. "You keep this up, and rest assured they'll rank you as one of the most intense gyms in the Kanto region, right up there with that Sabrina lady and Surge."
"Yeah," Misty replied, not listening. She ran a towel through her locks of hair, tugging the pool water from her follicles, and yet couldn't seem to dry her body of the icy sweat that emerged from each of her pores. She could've killed someone right now, and she had almost killed someone every day for the past several months. After four years of being a gym leader, even now Misty didn't seem to shake that competitive streak in her heart. Very rarely did she find a trainer that matched her move-for-move, and out of all those opponents, even fewer defeated her.
Jean, however, glanced down at her clipboard she kept tucked up next to her breast as the seconds passed. "Also, you have four more matches this week scheduled, all new trainers from Pallet Town or Viridian City, along with a meeting with that official from the Indigo Plateau, and then you'll be able to rest a little before you open the pool up for public use again. Sounds like an interesting day."
"Yeah, I'd say," Misty replied, not listening still.
"Funny how each person using this place tends to make this gym a public display of some sort. First a swim show, then a public pool…wouldn't be surprised if next it turned out you wanted to make this place into a bath house," Jean mumbled, her voice mostly monotone, her long brown hair trailing down to her slightly thick hips as she followed Misty around. She glanced up at the orange haired trainer through her thick-rimmed glasses before mumbling, "Of course, it's not like you'd find my brand of humor amusing."
Misty didn't respond.
Misty waited for the Indigo Representative in her office. She sat at a desk, not unlike the desks Misty had, for years, sworn up and down she'd never find herself sitting at. The window before her overlooked the pool, both her sanctuary and hell, a source of pleasure and indescribable pain. She sighed slightly as she ran a hand through her hair before glancing at her desk. There stood many pictures, memories of years since past. There were her three glorious sisters, out doing only God knows what again, a huge picture of Togepi, a memory now long since past, and then, next to that, was that boy from Pallet Town, Ash. It wasn't a picture of Ash, Misty, and their other friend Brock, just that blacked haired boy with that stupid hat with the insignia on it. Misty remembered how she had tried to win a hat like that once, but, alas, it wasn't meant to be. Now Misty could picture no one other than Ash wearing that hat. It was just illogical to assume that hat could fit on anyone else's head.
Last time Misty saw Ash, he wasn't wearing that hat.
The door to her office opened as Jean poked her head in once more. "Misty, the Indigo Representative is here. Do you want me to send him up?"
"Uh, sure," Misty replied, turning away from the photos on the desk. Why did she even keep those old things there anyway? She hadn't seen Ash in so long anyway, so why hold onto memories that only reminded her of things she didn't have? She sighed, staring into that boy's face once more. She had so many photographs of the two of them together, and yet she chose that one picture of just him. Why was that? Did it capture Ash perfectly, did it—
"Hello there, Miss Waterflower." The voice of the representative drew Misty out of her reflection. He was a tall man, his hair drawn back into a ponytail, his chin covered with irregular locks of hair. His smile resembled that of a vagabond, and his untidy suit, the tie loose around his neck, helped to reinforce that idea. He bowed, almost mockingly, before the Gym leader, as he took a seat right in front of her, lazily. "My name is Nathanael Butler, and I'm here just to settle a few matters with you, Misty—I can call ya that, right?"
"Yeah, sure, it's fine," Misty replied, folding her legs as she glanced over at Nathanael, gazing occasionally at Ash's picture. Why did she keep looking at that stupid boy? Was she afraid Ash could see her in a room alone with another guy? She wasn't alone, Jean was here, right? Jean sat in a corner, her clipboard at the ready to take notes on what both parties said, simply to give Misty moments after the meeting ended, when the notes that Jean recorded would be fresh in the gym leader's mind before she even read them.
"Well, it's just that, well, you're a great trainer," Nathanael replied, smiling a lazy yet perhaps charming smile at the gym leader, "Well, scratch that, a phenomenal trainer. However, perhaps you're too good. Perhaps it's gotten to the point where you're too good to be a gym leader anymore."
"What exactly are you saying?" Misty asked, confused.
"The gym leaders were put in place to test trainers to see if they were ready for the Indigo Plateau. However, in a recent poll, we came to realize something about your level of skill: your on par with the Elite Four. Well, let me rephrase that: you're not nearly as good as them, nor could you bother expecting to win, but, nevertheless, you're at the level of skill where we'd allow you to actually confront the Elite Four in battle. You're that qualified. And yet you're a gym leader. Most Gym Leaders never reach that level of skill, and yet, here you are, doing it anyway, and using your champion level Pokemon to fight fledgling trainers."
"Where are you going with this?" Misty asked.
Nathanael chuckled at this, a faint, almost bemused chuckle. "Oh, sorry, I fear I'm dancing around the point here. Well, let's get straight to it: you're so good few people can beat you, and you're only getting better. Fact is, you're so good that you're actually limiting the amount of people who are able to participate in the Indigo League tournament. Participation from last year alone is down 42%. It's a massive drop, and this is even considering we have higher tier trainers such as Sabrina here. In fact, the real reason why we feel there is this huge drop in percentages is because, simply put, we have trainers who are too strong in charge of their gyms. Yourself, Sabrina, and Lt. Surge. And, as with all things, when put under new management, it's only fair that we try to, shall we say, cut the fat."
All at once it became clear to Misty what he was saying. The girl rose to her feet, a furious glint in her eye. "You're not saying what I think you're saying, are you!"
Nathanael chuckled yet again. He closed his eyes in mock amusement before glancing up, a dangerous glow in his iris. "If you give up your gym now, I'll happily give you and your family a nice sum of money for the building as well."
"Now hold on! I live in this gym! You can't just kick us out!"
"Well, I'm not JUST kicking you out. Sabrina and Lt. Surge are going with you," chuckled Nathanael, reaching into his suit pocket to withdraw a folded envelop. He shoved it into Misty's lowered hands, forcing her to accept the eviction notice. "We'll give you two months. Think of this as a way to ensure that you go out on a bang."
Misty stared at the letter, this death sentence. That's what it was, after all: a death sentence, a message informing her that her heart had been torn out, that her blood and life fluids were dripping on the floor, that she had moments to grasp fresh air in her lungs before all went black. She didn't always get along with her sisters, nor did she always find the environment here pleasant, but for the love of all that was good, this was her home. She LIVED here, she had grown up here. She enjoyed traveling around the world, yes, but when it came right down to it, this was the only place where she could call home. She loved traveling, yes, but even so, even so, she had prided herself on her connection to the Cerulean gym in that she was, for all intents and purposes, strong enough of a trainer to be a gym leader!
Now what was she?
Elite Four competition?
Could she still give out badges like that?
Misty brushed the tears from her eyes as she glanced back up at Nathanael, the man now turning to leave, an amused grin on his lips. "Please, is there anything I can do, anything at all, to just—"
"Nope. None at all. Abandon all hope ye who enter here," Nathanael replied, laughing slightly to himself, "Two months, Misty, two months. You can't fight it."
"No warning at all! Just a damn eviction like that!" Misty shouted, losing her temper, "You jerk! You can't just barge in here and tell me what to do! You haven't heard the last of this, ya know!" Misty screamed at the top of her lungs as tears rolled down her cheeks. There was a moment following her outburst where nothing moved, and then she felt her sobs explode from her mouth. She fell against her desk, lowering her face into her hands. She sobbed out her stress, her fury, her anxiety, her anguish, her loss, her sorrow, her nostalgia, her memories, her love.
She felt a hand on her shoulder as Nathanael stood over her, frowning slightly. "There, there, Misty. Maybe we can offer you a spot in Indigo, or, maybe, worst case scenario, I can try arranging something at the office."
"Yeah, if you give me a tour of the building, in particular your living spaces—"
The resounding slam of Misty's knuckles across Nathanael's jaw echoed throughout the entire chamber. The official stumbled backward, a vehement expression on his face. His fingers curled into a fist for a split second before that cocky grin returned yet again. Laughing slightly, he said, his lip bleeding slightly, "You pack quite a punch there. The precise reason why, in two months, you'll be gone. Good day, gentlewomen."
The seconds passed in silence as Misty sat down in her chair, digging her face into her arms. It was all over. There was nothing she could do, nothing whatsoever. That man, that bastard, had just given her a death sentence. It was that simple: she was going to die in two months. Not literally of course, but figuratively. For the last four years, she had been a gym leader. She had spent every day forcing young trainers to reach their potential in order to see if they were worthy of reaching the Indigo league. That bastard couldn't fool her: a gym leader was more important than a stupid official. She was essential to the system, but now the system deemed her a threat.
Once again, she was being too violent to her opponents.
She hated her own techniques.
But what other choice did she have?
Ash stood in front of his old house, a smile on his lips. He had returned yet again, unexpected yes but home yet again. He smiled as he walked toward his old front door, and wrapped his knuckles against the wooden frame. A smile spread on his lips as she emerged yet again, happy as always to see him. His mother grabbed her only son into her arms, squeezing him against her bosom affectionately.
"Ash! It's been so long! I've been so worried about you and everything! You look so thin! Have you been eatin' enough? Hope you've been changing your you-know-whats every single day."
"I'm fine, mom, really!" Ash stammered, his raspy voice almost alien to the young adult. He hadn't spoken in so long, as he had traveled back to Pallet on foot. It had taken him awhile, but he got back regardless, safe and sound. A grin on his lips, he glanced around the living room in his mother's house, surprised to find it virtually unchanged, save for the photographs on the counter tops, covering each corner of the house. He approached one nearest him, finding it, to his mild surprise, of a girl he hadn't seen in so long.
"Oh, knew you'd look at that one first," his mother chuckled, glancing over Ash's shoulder at the photograph, "You were so adorable back then, you three."
Ash stared at his own reflection, a reflection of him as a child yet again, of a black haired boy at his side who he had left behind yet again as he left for Pallet, and of an orange haired girl he hadn't seen in years. He smiled slightly as he stared at those slender legs, the thin fingers spread out as she waved at the camera, waving, it seemed, at the Ash who stared back at her years later. "She really was scrawny back then," Ash said, laughing.
"Look who's talking," his mom mumbled for an instant before saying, in a loud, carrying voice, "So who wants some dinner!"
"That'll be great!" Ash said, placing the picture down in favor of filling his face. It was at that instance that Pikachu darted into the room, gasping for air. Ash turned toward Pikachu. Ever since reaching Kanto, Ash had been in fight after fight, and Pikachu was exhausted. He nearly passed out on the floor, but, as Ash knew very well, he couldn't reach a Pokemon center until he reached Pallet. He took a short cut through the woods, and by short cut that clearly meant it was where the roughest of Pokemon resided. Pikachu was his strongest Pokemon, and, naturally, he could take the abuse. Until, of course, the home stretch.
"I figured you'd treat Pikachu a little better, Ash! The poor thing looks like he's about to faint right there on the floor!" Ash's mother snapped, her hands on her hips.
"Sorry! It's a long story," Ash replied as Pikachu cuddled up against his chest, weakly.
"Well, I suppose it's okay. You know what you're doing, being a big trainer and everything now. Well, let's eat."
"Yeah, sounds good!"
As Ash ate his fill, and as Pikachu recovered while Mr. Mime spoon fed him food (Mr. Mime, for the record, was also healing Pikachu with his own psychic abilities), Ash found himself glancing back constantly at that old picture of Misty. Or, as it should be said, the multiple old pictures of Misty. Just how many did his mother keep around the house, exactly? It was almost startling how Misty seemed to be staring at him from all angles, accusing him still that he needed to return her old bike, the one he stole.
Strange, though, how she did get that bike back.
It almost seemed alien, despite happening years ago.
Funny how things like that worked out.
"Do you ever see Misty around, mom?" Ash asked, after finishing his third plate of food.
"Misty, ya know? Have you seen her?"
"Well, she's awfully busy at that gym of hers. I heard she's on a real big winning streak," Ash's mom replied, smiling.
"Well, she's a great trainer, probably has gotten a lot better. I wonder what it would be like if I fought her again," Ash laughed.
"Well, why don't you go ahead and see her?" Ash's mom said, "I'm sure she'd love it."
"Ya mean it?"
"Yeah! I'm sure of it! The last time I saw her was a couple years back, and she kept saying how she wanted to know where you were. Such a beautiful girl she is."
"I'm sure she's still scrawny," Ash laughed.
"She's filled out a bit," Ash's mom replied, "Tastefully, of course."
"What, is she fat now or something?"
"Not at all," Ash's mom replied, "Still very—er—slender."
"So she's still scrawny?"
"That's not what I'm saying!"
"Well, okay, I'll go see her tomorrow. After breakfast. But first, lemme just get some fourths…"
Part 2Ash rose from his bed early the next morning, yawning loudly as he stretched his arms. It had been awhile since he had slept in his own bed. His mother had preserved it almost like a shrine, every object in its proper place, yet spotless, without a single trace of dust. Ash wondered, in his head, how much had been his mother cleaning the room and how much had it been Mr. Mime's psychic cleaning methods?
Ash knew it was almost definitely the latter.
Ash descended the stairs, only to have the scents of bacon fill his nose and the sound of his mother's voice enter into his ears. "Oh, she isn't!—It's amazing how they just seem to grow up so fast, right?—So she's setting off on her Pokemon journey already, huh? That's something—didn't even know she wanted to be a trainer—Uh-huh—yeah, I'll be sure to tell him later—Uh-huh—what's that? Oh! Yeah, she is—Idolized? I'm sure she'd be flattered!—Oh! Gotta go! Bacons burning! I'll call you later!" His mother hung the phone up hastily as she turned toward the food, hastily scrapping it off the pan.
Upon finding food, Ash forgot about the phone call, choosing instead to focus 100% of his energies on that delicious meal before his eyes. A smile on his lips, he dove into it headlong, his mother choosing to go with a rather smaller dish: coffee with eggs. Upon finishing, having choked on the food in his mad rush more than once, he sighed, smiling slightly to himself as he turned toward his mother.
"I'm gonna head out a little later, alright?"
His mother's face fell slightly. "What? But you just got here."
"Well, I wanna stay, and I'll be right back, I just wanna go to Cerulean to—"
"Oh, that's a Ponyta of a different color!" his mother laughed, waving his concern away, "Not a problem."
"Pika?" Pikachu scurried down the stairway, having slept slightly longer than Ash. He bounded onto Ash's shoulder, a grin on its little mouse-like lips. Ash grinned back. He knew what to expect. He was a Pokemon; it was probably in his instincts to know when he was going to have a reunion with his dear friends.
"We're gonna go see Misty, Pikachu. You'd like that, wouldn't ya?" Ash said to the little yellow creature, who squeaked in excitement, smiling as it cocked its head ever so slightly.
"Now, listen, I knew you'd be leaving for Cerulean, and I have got to say, I don't think you should go dressed like that," Ash's mom said, gesturing toward Ash's attire.
"Huh? Whadya mean?"
"You've been wearing that same outfit all over Sinnoh. I'm sure it's just disgusting right about now."
"Well, I wash it all the—"
"You need something slightly different, Ash," his mother declared, turning toward a closet, withdrawing a package from its dark depths. She handed it to her son, a broad grin filling her face. "Go ahead. I made it just for you when you got back."
"Thanks," Ash said, uncertainty filling his voice. Yes, his mother was a great seamstress and all, but he had grown accustomed to his clothing. What could possibly replace—
The moment the familiar blue and white filled his vision, he knew his mother was right.
"Mom, I haven't worn this since Misty left," Ash replied, staring at his old uniform, his old attire, now expanded to fit his larger form. He even saw his old hat in lying on the hanger, the one he had to send in a million post cards to get. He chuckled as he remembered Misty had tried getting the same hat once (but she just sent one in).
That was a fairly random memory to remember.
"Listen, I have a bag all packed up for ya, with some spare underwear and—"
"Mom! Were you planning on kicking me out so soon?"
"That's not it, I just—"
"It's alright! I know what you mean." Ash smiled as he turned away, Pikachu hopping on his shoulder as Ash prepared to go into more private corners to change. However, the sound of his mother's voice stopped him in his tracks.
"Wait! I almost forgot!"
"What is it?" Ash asked, turning around.
"I got a phone call earlier. An old friend is heading up toward Cerulean too."
"What? Really? Who?"
Misty stood standing before the field of water, waiting patiently as the seconds passed, waiting slowly, waiting carefully, for the challenger to arrive. Nathanael's declaration rang through her head as the seconds passed, as she waited for the next arrival, perhaps the last arrival. Who knew, really? Were people going to just avoid her gym now that it was, for all intents and purposes, condemned?
"Will the challenger please step forward?" Jean replied, her voice bored and monotone, as though she was asking herself in her brain of all the beaches she could be laying in as opposed to taking orders from a girl significantly younger than herself.
There stood the challenger, standing in the doorway, slowly taking step after step closer to the floating foam panels that covered the pool. There was something distinct about this young girl It was a young looking girl, perhaps no more than ten or eleven. Her brown hair was separated into two chunks of hair, two long buns, a slightly nervous yet excited glint in her eyes. Misty had seen that look all before, but, for whatever reason, there was something else about this newcomer. Misty didn't know the name of the challenger, as she had long since stopped keeping track of the names of all the people who lost against her (it reminded her of all the close calls she had in regards to causing permanent damage to the Pokemon, or even trainers).
"Alright, the challenger steps forward," Jean said, her voice bored, "Remember: this is an official league match, blah-blah-blah, challenger steps forward."
The girl withdrew a Poke-ball from her hip, a small grin on her lips. Why did that girl look so familiar? But she must be a new trainer from Pallet or Viridian. Maybe she had passed her by on one of her visits there. Nothing special.
"You know, I've really looked up to you for years, so to be able to finally fight you is a real treat," the girl said, in a slightly nervous voice, so sweet and high.
"Oh really?" Misty replied, smiling slightly, "Well, I suppose I'll take that as a complement. Are you ready to fight?"
"Okay, I just think it'll turn out different than the last time we fought."
The girl tossed the ball into the air, the sphere exploding into light as a Kingdra emerged into the water. A Kingdra was not a very common Pokemon at all. Hell, Misty herself didn't have one, even though she had her Horsea for years. She stared in disbelief at the Pokemon before her. How did THAT get here? She just didn't understand one bit. Maybe it was a family Pokemon? Yeah, that had to be it.
However, one thing for certain was it was powerful.
"Alright, well, guess I'll call in Gyarados!" Misty declared, summoning her serpentine partner from its small ball, the beast writhing throughout the water as it rose into the air, glaring down at the Kingdra.
The young girl grinned at the sight of the beast, not intimidated in the least. "I didn't know you had a Kingdra, Misty! Alright, guess it's time for a Bubblebeam!" Jets of bubbles burst from the Kingdra's snout-like mouth, bubbles that Gyarados evaded, choosing instead to wrap around the enemy Kingdra in a hasty move, constricting it simply on instinct, its massive jaws looming over it.
"Gyarados! End it quickly! Use bite!" Misty couldn't take chances with a Pokemon like Kingdra. She knew better than to give it a second to land a blow. Those creatures were super powerful. As her Gyarados lunged forward, the sea-horse Pokemon released a torrent of black inky smoke, the gas colliding into Gyarados's face. The creature reeled backward as his view was completely obstructed. And, to Misty's horror, she watched as the Kingdra reeled its head back, its mouth filling with water that exploded forward, slamming headlong into the helpless Gyarados!
Once she saw Gyarados's skull puncture the ceiling of the gym, she knew this fight wasn't gonna be easy.
Gyarados fell back into the pool shortly after, but by then Kingdra was ready for it. At the command of its master, the enemy Pokemon, with a flick of its head, summoned a great wave from the pool, a wave that drained the liquidy surface of its mass, the great wall of water surging higher into the air. Gyarados was helpless as it too was dragged into the wave, pulled parallel to the ground in the cresting water above Misty's head.
The only chance was to take Kingdra down first.
"Gyarados! Hyper Beam!" A jet of energy exploded from Misty's Pokemon's open jaws, a beam that slammed straight into Kingdra. The seahorse was forced into the ground, the magnitude of impact literally causing the gym to tremble. The wave drifted above the ground for an instance before tumbling down over Misty's head. Thankfully, she held her breath for the instance of impact, finding herself almost rejuvenated after being smothered in her own pool water. Gyarados, however, was not so lucky. It was lying on the surface of the water, weak, unconscious, defeated.
"Both Gyarados and Kingdra are unable to battle," Jean stammered, in stunned silence.
Misty turned toward Gyarados, a tender expression on her face. "Good job, Gyarados. You earned a good rest." With a quick click of her Poke-ball, the great massive beast returned to its tiny home. The opponent did the same with her Kingdra, turning over to Misty with a grin on her lips.
"I take it the next match decides it?"
"What gives you that idea?" Misty asked.
"Last time we fought, it was two Pokemon too, so I'm guessing—"
"Ursuring!" With a sudden flash of light, the girl summoned the massive bear Pokemon, the bear that roared at the top of its lungs at Misty. With a frown, Misty resigned herself to the fact that it was impossible to learn just who this girl was until after one of them emerged the victor. As she felt the rush of adrenaline fill her veins, it was clear who SHOULD be the winner: the gym leader.
"Okay, Staryu! Go!" Misty summoned her star-shaped Pokemon, a beast that darted through the air upon being summoned, spinning like a top at Ursuring, who dove toward the disk, tackling it in its great arms. It held the Pokemon down as it drew its claws above the beast's head, slamming its paws again and again against its jewel. A jet of water exploded from its upper point, surging into the bear's chest as Ursuring was thrown into the air. The beast landed in the water, the resounding splash magnificent.
"Good thing Ursuring can swim!" laughed the girl, "Usuring, pummel that Staryu!"
The bear swam through the water, but, compared to Staryu's graceful movements, Ursuring was but a slug on a slime trail. The star hurdled through the water, separating it under the magnitude of its motion, as it slammed headlong into the beast, throwing Ursuring into the air, into the stands. Staryu rose into the air, landing at Misty's side, pumping its star appendages in triumph, just as Misty punched the air happily in return.
Ursuring, however, rose to its feet, glaring at Staryu. It leapt up, about to attack, when Jean called out "Ursuring is out of bounds! The match goes to—"
"That's a stupid way to end the match," Misty replied, frowning, "Let Ursuring back in."
The opponent grinned as the great bear darted down the stairs, hopping on a floating panel on the pool, extending each of its claws. With a grin, the girl shouted, "Use Rage!"
The oncoming torrent of water slammed into Ursuring's chest, failing to stop the Pokemon as it leapt forward, at the speed of a meteor falling to Earth, as it swiped at Staryu once in range, knocking it, and Misty, off their panel. As Misty swam to another panel, Ursuring snagged Misty's, in its hands, and heaved it over his head. With a sudden swing, he swatted Staryu aside, slamming it against the opposite wall, only to throw the panel straight at the poor creature!
Staryu managed to dodge.
Ursuring, however, found himself no longer standing on any platform.
The poor beast struggled to swim, but, in its rage, couldn't focus on the simple act of swimming. The poor beast started to drown, only for the opponent to recall the poor thing. Staryu was soon recalled in a similar fashion as Jean declared Misty the victor. However, Misty knew deep down that, had the location been different, she would've lost. She would've lost to a NEW trainer. Now that is something. She reached into her pocket, and swam to the little girl, who seemed somewhat down that she had lost, yet not surprised.
"Hey, listen, whether you won or not, I think you deserve this Cascade Badge," Misty replied, extending her hand.
"Misty! We only give that out to people who win—"
"Jean, please, not now."
"Misty, thank you so much! I didn't think this would happen when I came for our rematch."
"That's another thing," Misty replied, frowning slightly, "I'm not sure I recognize you. How old were you when we first fought, exactly? You keep mentioning some other time we fought, but i don't remember fighting people younger than you, except maybe…that one time…" Misty's eyes widened as the memories came flooding back to her. The girl grinned at this, cocking her head to the side.
"I knew you'd remember."
"You're Molly Hale, aren't you?" Misty stammered, taking a single step back in surprise.
"That's right. You do remember me."
She was so much like that seven year old they had met. How had Misty not seen it sooner? The hair? The face? Even the Pokemon were the same, albeit now made of flesh and blood and not the sheer personification of imagination, but regardless, they were the same. "In Johto—that must've been over four or five years ago!" Misty stammered, "With the Unown, and Entei, and Ash's mom, and the Pokemon you created—I didn't realize you became a trainer!"
"Well, I guess you can say you guys inspired me. You told me I'd be able to become a gym leader easily, just like you, so here I am!" Molly cocked her head yet again, smiling.
"Well, I just hope you don't turn out like me."
"I'm kinda being let go as a gym leader, Molly."
"There is a man here to—"
"I know why he's here. Send him in."
She sat in her throne overlooking her battle arena, her eyes closed in concentration as the figure walked in. She knew what he looked like: shabby attire, loosely applied, laid back appearance. She could almost smell that aspect of his self, of his personality, from his open mind, his unguarded psyche. It was almost painful for Sabrina to be in his presence.
He was an unguarded open book.
"So you're the psychic Sabrina, is that right?" the man, Nathanael Butler, asked, walking into the chamber.
"They say you're psychic, is that true?"
"I'm sure you know the answer to that already, Mr. Butler." It took all of Sabrina's self-control not to send Kadabra on him now, ready to throw him out. His message, his hateful, loathsome message, was one Sabrina had no desire to listen to, or even give a moment of her time to hear. If anything, she would love to just tell him no at that instant, tell him that she'd never give up her gym, that she'd fight for her gym.
But, alas, he was a league official. She couldn't simply reject him so easily.
She needed to be discrete.
"If you're psychic, then can you make a prediction?" Nathanael asked, curiously.
"I predict you're going to leave disappointed," Sabrina grumbled, rising from her seat as her body was ensnared in an azure aura. Her hair levitated strand by strand as she rose into the air, her hands outstretched as sparks of blue surrounded her. She landed a good fifteen feet away from Nathanael, who laughed at the display. "You are unimpressed?"
"Not that. It seems so unnecessary when you can just stand and walk over here. But excuse that little bit of amusement. Since you're psychic, you should know why I'm here. Your gym is, quite simply, overpowered. It has been for years. According to my records, only fifteen trainers have ever won—no, I'm sorry, there's a smudge on the page—FIVE trainers have ever received a Marsh Badge. Your gym has the reputation for being virtually unbeatable, and your levels of skill is, quite literally, on par with the Elite Four."
"So you feel that, by removing me, you'll solve the issue. However, you're more than willing to give me back my gym if I pleasure you, is that it?" Nathanael's eyes widened in shock for an instant before it contorted into restrained rage.
"You mind readers always enjoy seeing brief, momentary thoughts in the back of my—"
"Don't lie to me. You were expecting one of the gym leaders to give into that threat. Do not deceive me. I can't be fooled. I never am fooled." Sabrina glared at Nathanael, her eyes glowing white as her irises and pupils disappeared into as singularity. "If you try to strip me of my control over this building, I'll see to it that every ball of slime that tries to steal this place will be left mindless vegetables, starting with you."
Nathanael's eyes widened yet again as he drew backward, laughing. "Let's not be hasty here. I'll be back in two months with a crew of Indigo officers if I have to. Let's do this the peaceful way."
"Peaceful?" What had happened to being discrete? What had happened to tact? Sabrina felt her emotions, emotions she had for years rejected, swell up. She remained stoic, she remained clam, and yet couldn't contain one last burst of fury as she shouted at the top of her lungs, "I'D RATHER BURN IN HELL THAN RELINQUISH MY FAMILY'S GYM!"
Nathanael was silent for a moment as Sabrina felt her lungs pulsate furiously with oxygen. The stillness crescendo and died as the man smirked, turning on his heels as he left Sabrina alone. "Shame. You're kinda cute, too."
Part 3"So they're taking the gym away from you?" Molly asked, her eyes wide as she stared at her broken role model, her head lowered in shame.
"Yeah," Misty sighed, weakly, "It's just ridiculous. Just because I'm really strong, they have to tear this place down. I mean, I've been gym leader for so long, and now they're just taking it all away."
"Isn't there something you can do?"
"Nope. Notta thing," Misty replied, attempting to smile. She couldn't look so sad in front of someone who had traveled such a long way to comfort her, such a long way to help her feel better. It was ridiculous, a grown woman (she was 18 now, anyway) like herself sobbing in front of a little girl, relying on the younger child to cheer her up. Weren't kids supposed to go to older people for advice? Why had the roles been reversed? After all, it wasn't even like she knew Molly all that well. The last time they had met, Molly had kidnapped Ash's mom.
"Well, couldn't you argue the case to the league?" Molly asked, "My papa did help supply them with a lot of information on the Unown and all, so maybe they'd listen if I gave him a call and asked him to help you out. Besides, it isn't fair if they just start picking on you like that!"
"Well, it isn't just me," Misty replied, finding herself smiling for real. Molly was such a cute kid. Believing that a call to her dad would solve anything. The League had its own politics, and even a Pokemon Researcher like Spencer Hale couldn't really do much to influence the new management Nathanael had referenced. That slime ball, for all his faults, was entirely right: Misty WAS too intense with her challengers. She had almost hurt so many people. Maybe it was time for her to step down.
"What do you mean it isn't just you?"
"Well, ya see, they're also kicking the Saffron and Vermillion City leaders out of their gyms, too, and—"
"How far away are they from here?" Molly asked, critically.
"Uh, not too far. Why?"
"Well, we should go there and talk to the other leaders," Molly explained, simply,
"Maybe try to get a protest started or something like that."
"I don't know if that's the best idea," Misty said, sighing, "Lt. Surge is a tad sexist, not to mention rather violent. He enjoys hospitalizing Pokemon. I'm sure he'd fight the League, but even so, I don't think he'd listen to either of us, or even try altering his methods to fit League standards. And then there's Sabrina. Well, she's not nearly as intense as she was, but she's still a—she's kinda—how do I say this politely? She's a little too out there to talk to."
"Well, she's a psychic, and she sorta—well, she kinda—she scares me. Ya see, when Ash first fought her, she turned us into dolls."
"She did?" Molly stammered, her eyes widened in shock.
"Yup, but then we got her to laugh, and that—" Misty's voice trailed off as she remembered the exact events that had transpired that day. The events that had been all because of Ash's lucky break with Haunter, with that ghost saving them, with Ash being so happy afterwards as he held the badge in his hands, with that broad grin he always wore, the sun shinning and glinting off his teeth. That beautiful halo of light behind his head.
And, at that moment, Misty lowered her head.
"Misty? What's the matter?" Molly asked, deeply concerned.
"Oh, it's nothing," Misty replied, sighing, "It's just I feel a little nostalgic is all. No big—"
Jean pushed open the door leading to her office. At once, Misty composed herself. She couldn't look weak in front of her employees, especially one who seemed to love it when she could do nothing all day, like Jean. If Misty looked weak, Jean might take advantage of that. "We have a visitor here asking for you."
"Another one? I don't think I scheduled anyone. If it's that guy from the league—"
"It isn't—well, it isn't really, in any case. Technically, she's part of the league, but—"
"Spit it out."
Jean glared at her boss through narrowed eyes before mumbling, "It's another gym leader. Sabrina."
"Speak of the devil—Send her in," Misty replied, her eyes widening. What if Sabrina heard what Misty was saying about her—no, she'd know! Mind reading powers! She'd know what Misty was saying about her behind her back, and then—wait! What if she thought about a brick wall? Maybe Sabrina wouldn't see her hidden thoughts that way. Yeah, it would work! Brick wall… Brick wall…! Brick wall!
There entered the Psychic trainer, her long locks of hair trailing behind her like the ephemeral tails of several deceased Gastly, her dark eyes staring ahead of her at all times, the very presence of her sending a chill up Misty's spine. Misty had seen Sabrina laugh after the last time Ash fought her, but at that moment, every fiber of Sabrina's face was devoted to utmost frustration, vehemence, unbridled fury.
Misty didn't need to be a psychic to know where the fury was directed.
"He just told you, didn't he?" Misty asked, frowning.
Sabrina didn't respond, but rather walked toward Misty's desk, glancing at the photographs covering it. Misty felt her face fill with red. It was one thing that she had psychic powers and her mind wasn't safe from her probing, but her personal space in the material world was quite another thing! Misty placed herself between Sabrina and the desk, only for the foreign gym leader to glance at the photograph of Ash. The woman smiled for a brief second before turning back toward Misty.
"You know, he was the last one to ever get the Marsh badge." Misty didn't need to ask who "he" referenced. "He showed me a new sort of power after we met: the power of love. Love, joy, happiness, it's amazing how that improves fighting and leading a gym. In fact, it made winning, for lack of a better word, fun. Shame it turns out like this." Sabrina turned away, glancing at the pool the office overlooked, people swarming in water, splashing each other, Pokemon dancing on the water's surface or deep below in the depths of the blue. "Your building is going to be torn down. This place of joy will be removed."
"Did you read my mind to learn that?" Misty asked.
"No, his." Sabrina turned toward Misty and Molly, frowning. "His mind is a far filthier place than either of you can imagine."
"Did he offer you that same way out as he did me?" Misty asked, hoping to word the conversation in a way so as to not be inappropriate in front of Molly.
"He tried to have sex with me, yes."
For a psychic, she didn't get the hint!
"What?" Sabrina asked as she glanced at Misty's fuming expression, "She knows what it means."
"What! How do you know that sort of stuff, Molly! I didn't even know what it meant at your age!"
Molly blushed deep red as she glanced aside. "Well, one day I kinda had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, after mom came back, and, well—"
"She walked in on her parents," Sabrina said, bluntly.
"Will you shut up!" Misty snapped.
"I apologize," Sabrina replied, frowning, "But the point of the matter is that Nathanael Butler has some secrets that, if revealed, will help us out greatly."
"What do ya mean by that, exactly?" Misty asked, certain she knew where this plot was leading.
Sabrina smirked at this, but it was not an amused grin so much as a foul, insidious thing that sent more chills up Misty's spine than even the most nightmarish dream Darkrai could muster. "You needn't know just yet. Rest assured, though, that if I told you now, you'd do something drastic. It's best if you don't know yet. In a game of chess, it's best for the pieces to be arranged perfectly before declaring checkmate. If we act too soon, the King may evade our capture, and then where will we be?"
"So what do you want us to do?" Misty asked.
"I want you to follow my lead," chuckled Sabrina, "You will do as I say, and the first thing I say is to find a very strong trainer."
"A strong trainer?" Misty asked, "But aren't we all strong enough already?"
"We are, but we need stronger. You have no idea what you're getting yourself into," Sabrina responded, "We are going to wage war against Nathanael Butler."
"Why him in particular? This is a league decision."
"Yes, but he proposed the idea of demolishing the three gyms to the League. If we ruin him, we'll ruin his ideas, and, in turn, turn the tides in our favor."
"He proposed—the bastard!" Misty stammered, her eyes narrowed. So it was all his fault for all this? New management? He must have sweet talked the entire league into following his plan. But why? What did Nathanael have to gain by shutting down three gyms in the Kanto region? What did he have to gain? He could see the league benefiting due to higher attendance rates, but even so, why should Nathanael care? Was he simply working to help the league? No, he seemed too slimy for that. There was something else. "Okay, I'll find some really strong trainers, don't worry."
"Good. I'll be taking my leave," Sabrina said, turning to depart from the room. Before leaving, however, Sabrina glanced over her shoulder, and said, "By the way, do you really think my smile is scarier than Darkrai's worst nightmare, or are you just trying to flatter me?"
"C'mon! Move faster, Tauros!" Ash snapped, riding close against the bumpy back of his pokemon, Pikachu clinging to dear life on the hair of the beast as it hurdled through the wilderness of the Viridian Forest, twigs snapping against his face as he passed by. Riding on foot would've been easier, but slower. Riding on Pokemon back seemed logical at first if he wanted to see Misty quickly, but even so, Ash had long ago lost feeling in his groin considering all the times the beast's shoulder blades, or vertebrae, or whatever painful bone was jamming into his private areas. He wanted to scream at the top of his lungs, but knew that would just attract a boatload of Beedrill, a species of Pokemon that, at that moment, were currently pursuing them with the ferocity of a mad dog let off the chain.
That is, after all, what happens when you tackle headlong through their nests.
Tauros was fast; not bright.
He frantically glanced over his shoulder time and time again, terrified at the prospect of the Beedrill ensnaring him, of the Bedrill stabbing him, penetrating his flesh with those nightmarishly pointy appendages of theirs. One Beedrill was in hot pursuit, drawing back its sharp, pyramid shaped blade, ready to stab straight into the back of Ash's head! Pikachu leapt forward, ready to take the blow, as his checks clenched, sparks exploding from them, every volt squeezed from the fiber with the intensity of a power plant exploding. The jolts of energy slammed into the metallic iron rod, frying the flying Pokemon, sending it against a tree, where it remained still and weak.
"Pikachu! Why don't ya—OW—just—OW—shock 'em all—OW—like—TAUROS! YOU'RE HITTING MY NADS! OWOWOWOWOW!"
Pikachu paused for a moment, realizing this act of stupidity, how indeed he could've just shocked all the Beedrill out of the sky, before clenching his entire body, the volts of energy exploding outward from its body in a great net of yellow light. It ensnared the Beedrill, locking them within the grasp of Pikachu's electric fingers, their bodies groped and ravaged before being left weak on the ground, paralyzed and unconscious. Pikachu smiled at his work before grabbing on for dear life to Tauros's fur.
Finally, after Ash began to question whether he'd be able to bare children later in life, the walls of trees opened up before them, leading toward the open clearing before them, the city of Pewter lying before him, a smile on his lips, a smile that was wiped away once Tauros came to a halt, throwing Ash forward, rocketing him into a nearby stone, his head cracking into the surface as stars surrounded his view.
"Pika pi?" Pikachu queried, leaping toward Ash's side as he rose up to his feet, rubbing his bruised scalp.
"It's okay, don't worry," Ash replied, quelling his friend's concerns as he felt blood on the tips of his fingers. Looks like he landed a little harder than he thought. He returned Tauros to his Poke ball before darting off with Pikachu toward the town, ignoring the throbbing pain in his head. He was a little dizzy, but that wasn't a big deal, right? It was just a small issue, nothing dramatic at all. After all, here was Pewter City, the world where Brock's family dwelled. Maybe they could lend him an Onyx to ride or something LESS painful to ride. After all, Onyx didn't have legs, so maybe it would be less painful to ride that one, right?
Ash stumbled forward, rolling over the ground, after having lost his balance. Why was he so out of whack today? He rose to his feet, Pikachu chirping in a concerned fashion toward him. "Don't worry, Pikachu! I'm fine—"
"You don't look fine," a gruff voice mumbled. Ash glanced up at the sound of this voice to see a familiar face, tanned skin, messy hair sticking out of his scalp, his eyes squinted so tightly it almost looked as though his eyes were shut. He jumped up at the sight of the newcomer, his eyes wide, in stark contrast to his almost closed eyes.
Ash took a second to look at the figure again, only to notice the laugh lines across his face, the deep set wrinkles. Clearly that couldn't be his familiar friend, no. It was someone else, someone far different: Flint, Brock's father. Yeah, who else could look THAT much like his friend and yet look so much older? Had to be him. "No, wait, you're his dad Flint, right?" Judging by the smile on the man's lips, Ash knew he was correct. Didn't matter how hard you hit your head on a rock: you don't forget people you meet like that, even if the last time you saw them was years ago.
"Well, it's been awhile since I've seen you, Ash," Flint replied in his guttural, raspy voice, "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"I was just on my way to Cerulean, and I sorta had some trouble," Ash replied, laughing.
"Sure ya don't want to spend the night here? You have a big cut on your head."
"A cut?" Ash tenderly pressed his fingers again against the injury, finding there to be a big more blood than he remembered on his skin. He sighed. Maybe it was a good idea to get that checked out.
"Come with me, we're just taking care of the children. Forrest is just facing another challenger."
Forrest turned out to be Brock's younger brother. Ash's first sighting of the child was seeing his Steelix slam a challenger's helpless Butterfree against a wall, the creature leaving an imprint in the wall to Ash's shock. The brutal trainer stared at the challenger, a young girl who stared in horror as her Butterfree slowly pressed herself out of the pink streamers and painted surfaces, at which Ash needed to reexamine the gym. Forrest was fighting a brutal battle in what appeared to be a five year old girl's bedroom! Pink paint smeared the walls as streamers dangled above their heads. Steelix's austere brilliance was in great contrast with the exciting pink backdrop, an emphasize further exaggerated by Steelix's Iron Tail attack, a blow that slammed the already beaten Butterfree deeper into the ground, at which it laid weakly on the floor, stunned.
"It looks like I win. Steelix, return!" Forrest declared, recalling Steelix to his ball as the opponent fell to her knees, staring at her beaten Butterfree with astonishment.
"Butters—are you okay Butters?" the girl asked, slowly scooping her Butterfree into her arms, staring in horror at the poor creature.
"I wouldn't worry if I were you," Flint said, taking a few steps forward, "This entire gym is filled with padding. The rocks are only surface level. If you were to stomp on 'em hard enough, they'd give. It looked violent, but I wouldn't worry. It's fine."
"Are you sure?" the girl asked, tenderly stroking the Butterfree under its chin.
"Yeah, I wouldn't want to hurt your Pokemon too much," Forrest said, "Besides, in some fights, you need to be prepared for the enemy to be brutal. You need to train your Pokemon more before challenging me again."
"Okay. Thanks for the tip," the visibly shaken girl mumbled before turning away, hugging her Butterfree for dear life as though she had just landed on the ground after sky diving from space, grateful to finally grab hold of something stable, her legs shaking as though grateful to walk on solid ground.
Once the girl left, Forrest sighed, lowering his head, a smile on his lips. "So you're Ash, huh?"
"How did you know?" Ash asked, curiously.
"Oh, it's pretty clear. You're dressed exactly the same as I remember you." Ash had forgotten he was wearing the once familiar blue and white jacket over his black shirt, the jeans, the old hat, for only a moment. He was, after all, in pain from that damn impact against the rock and the accursed Tauros's ball jabbing. Thought wasn't the first priority in his brain.
"Hey, I don't mean to be rude, but I need to get to Cerulean city as fast as I can. Do you know a short cut, or perhaps a transport system, or even a Pokemon I can borrow to get there faster?"
"Well, as far as I know the fastest way is through Mt. Moon," Forrest replied.
"Oh, you guys! There's always an easier way."
A high voice? Was that one of Brock's sisters grown up? But that couldn't be right. It had to be someone else. Ash turned around at the sound of that voice to see a new figure emerging from the rockwork, her head lowered, her eyes much unlike the other's squinty eyelids. She was standing tall before them, a grin on her slightly rounded face, her frame older. Was this Brock's mom? It had to be; who else could it be?
"Wait, weren't you dead?" Ash asked, "I thought Flint told me you passed away."
"Huh?" the woman asked, curiously.
"Wait, you can't be Brock's mom. Can't be a dead person."
"Uh, Ash, this is Lola, my wi—"
"A family photographer? Nah, wouldn't make—Ah! You're the interior decorator, aren't ya!"
"Well, I am, but—"
"Ha! I knew it! Brock would never let his gym get covered in pink."
"Ash, this is my wife, Lola."
"Oh, so you remarried, Flint?"
"No, this is really my wife. My only wife."
"You told this boy I was dead, Flint?"
"Well, you were on a Pokemon journey, and I was trying to make Ash feel bad for Brock, and dead sounds a whole lot better than you just going out on a Pokemon journey."
"Wait, YOU LIED TO ME ABOUT BROCK'S MOM PASSING AWAY?" Ash stammered, his eyes widened.
"Wow, he's fast on the uptake, isn't he?" Lola replied, "Anyway, listen, you want a way to Cerulean? There's an underwater current that leads straight there, but you need a pretty strong Water Pokemon to navigate it, and it just so happens I'm a water Pokemon trainer."
Ash's lips curled into a grin.
"Lt. Surge, I presume?" The blonde haired, muscle bound gym leader turned at the sound of his name, as did his two cronies on either side. There before them stood the man, the league official whose attire was rather sloppy. He looked as though he had dressed himself half asleep (maybe he had). He was a weak, soft suit. He wasn't a fighter, and certainly not strong by his standards. The lieutenant chuckled at this, arms folded over his gigantic chest.
"You guessed right. You're that league official, right? Natty?"
"It's Nathanael, actually. Nathanael Butler," the newcomer replied, chuckling, "Quite an amusing fella, Lt. Surge. Tell me, did you ever really serve in the army or did you choose the name because it sounded cool."
"I was actually in the army, and I keep the name because it sounds cool, so both." This guy wasn't so bad so far. Kind of amusing guy, even if he was a weak suit. This shouldn't be too difficult of a meeting. Maybe he'd even ask the guy for a drink later, just to get on his good side, along with the league's good side.
"Well then, Lt. Surge, listen very carefully, because I have a lot to say in a short amount of time. The league has realized that, out of all the gym leaders, your methods are by far the most brutal and intense."
"I pride myself on that," the gym leader replied, smiling proudly, "Glad the league finally realized the sheer intensity of my training."
"In fact, we calculated that, despite handing out a grand total of twenty four Thunder Badges in your time of gym leader, we realized that the overwhelming majority of those who earned the Thunder Badge had to fight you a second or even third time to earn it, having lost previously."
"Exactly! We have a reputation as being one of the toughest gyms in the whole Kanto region," Lt. Surge laughed, glad the league was finally appreciating his skill. His cronnies at either side of him laughed at this too, clearly amused by their own might, as well they should be. They often kept the weaker trainers from even darkening their doorstep with pathetic trainers. They were elite gym leaders.
"It would appear, though, that your skill is causing the league a minor issue."
"What was that?"
"Because you're beating so many trainers, the Indigo League tournament's attendance rate has dropped significantly in the past several years. In fact, it's gotten so bad that we've done some investigation on the matter, and realized that Cerulean City, Saffron City, and Vermillion City's gyms were so difficult that most trainers can't beat them, and, in some cases, outright stop trying to be a trainer altogether."
"What's your point?" Lt. Surge grumbled, his emotions toward the man before him contorting and twisting in fiery rage, hatred burning in his chest as his callused fingers clenched into a mighty fist.
"Well, it would be in the league's best interest if we let you go, simply put," Nathanael said, patting Surge on the shoulder, turning around as the leader's rage reached breaking point.
"Wait—! What the hell do you mean by that! I served the League for years, and I never heard any kind of crap like firing gym leaders! The only time a gym leader ever got let go was in Saffron City when the former gym leader of that fightin' dojo was beaten by Sabrina! This is garbage!"
"I'm afraid whether it's garbage or not is really irrelevant. It is. That's all that matters." Lt. Surge glared at Nathanael as he spoke, that pompous soft suit. He knew he was a bastard the moment he came in here. Yeah, surely. The Lieutenant glanced at his underlings, and the two cronies drew nearer, withdrawing their Poke balls from their hips as Lt. Surge summoned his Raichu, a beast that leapt upon his broad, massive shoulders, its tail wrapped fiercely around the lieutenant's massive neck.
From his underlings' balls emerged a quartet of Electabuzz, each one glaring at their target, a fierce expression on their faces as they clenched their fists into balls, sparks flying from their bodies. However, rather than feel pressured, or even intimidated, Nathanael only chuckled to himself, reaching into his jacket pocket, four Poke-balls between his fingers.
"Oh, I see how it is. I really am not too fond of violence, but I suppose in situations like this, I may as well play to your game!" Nathanael tossed each of the four spheres into the air, each one exploding into light. There, before the field, emerged four massive Pokemon that slammed into the floor, the entire Earth trembling under their mass. Lt. Surge recognized each one of them: a fearsome four-armed Machamp, a hulking Tyranitar, a searing hot Magmortar, and, to Lt. Surge's greatest fury, a massive Rhyperior. Two rock types in an electric centered gym. He had planned for this, surely.
The Electabuzz darted inward first, only to be thrown backward as Magmortar fired a round of great, massive fire balls into their abdomens, throwing them backward. Upon hitting the walls, the balls of fire exploded outward, ripping the gym walls apart, fissures spreading across their surfaces. Lt. Surge could only stare in horror as the walls were torn apart. This was HIS gym, and this bastard was demolishing it on his own! How dare he! How dare that stinking bastard do this to his gym! His comrades drew more Pokeballs, summoning a hoard of Magneton, six to be exact, that lunged toward the Magmortar. However, the Rhyperior and Tyranitar leapt into action.
"Rhyperior, Megahorn. Tyranitar, Hyper Beam," Nathanael ordered, serenely.
"Raichu, knock Rhyperior away with a Thundebolt!" Lt. Surge shouted, hastily, as Tyranitar and Rhyperior drew back. However, just as Raichu leapt off of Lt. Surge's shoulders, Machamp came into action, drawing back his fists, only to slam two headlong into the orange rodent's abdomen, throwing him aside. Lt. Surge watched in horror as his Pokemon shrieked in pain. He had seen his comrades in battle with that same expression on their faces, those pained, mortified expressions, filled with anguish and pain.
He heard the same shrieks once more as he watched Tyranitar's Hyper Beam collide into the first Magneton, tearing through the air, straight through the wall opposite it. With a great twist of his head, the Tyranitar dragged the blast across the wall before him, into the Magneton before him, into the very heart of the gym before him. Lt. Surge watched as each Magneton was thrown away, through the walls of the facility. The Electabuzz from before were stirring now, pushing themselves up, as they watched in horror at the wreckage.
Rhyperior's Megahorn drilled straight into the nearest Electabuzz's chest.
Lt. Surge could hear its ribs shatter.
The other Electabuzz fired bolts of electricity at the Rhyperior, all the volts targeted at the horn. However, as though on cue, Tyranitar dove in the way, taking the blow, his body unaffected by the energy as he lumbered closer, a fearsome expression on his face. However, a bolt from far away soared behind Tyrannitar, ensnaring Rhyperior's horn, ensnaring him in electricity. Lt. Surge watched in joy as the enemy Pokemon was sent flying, straight out of the gym wall, and, to his utmost glee, into the ocean near the gym. He could hear the splash, hear the screams of pain, and that, for one brief instant, gave Surge joy. He turned to see the source of the energy, only to see Raichu rising from the rubble, its tail outstretched, sparks flying from his bruised and battered body.
"Way t' go Rai—" Lt. Surge's words were muffled as a fist collided against his face. The gym leader turned to see Machamp drawing its fists back yet again, ready to punch down Surge. Hastily, the leader evaded the second and third punches, drawing his own fist back to slug the Pokemon across the face. However, he caught his fist, twisting his arm around until Surge felt the bones snap.
The bastard just broke his arm. The damn Machamp bastard JUST BROKE HIS ARM! He couldn't let that stop him. His Pokemon were fighting, so it was only fair that HE fought with them. He drew back his good fist, slamming it across Machamp's face as Raichu leapt to his side, his eyes filled with rage. He drew back his sparkling long tail, the bolt at the end glowing brilliant amber as he slashed it across Machamp's chest! Bolts exploded in all directions as Machamp was thrown backward. He caught himself, however, and glared at the little rodent. Machamp threw punch after punch at Raichu, but the mouse was too fast for him.
After that one kid beat him with a Pikachu beat Surge, he had learned from his mistake: train Raichu to be fast. Speed was just as important as raw power. And, in the end, that made him a stronger trainer. Learning from failure was instrumental, as Machamp was soon going to see.
However, at that moment the sound of a great crack filled the air. To his horror, he glanced over to see Magmortar stomping his comrade's bodies into the ground, the earth literally shattering under the force as the fire Pokemon fired blast after blast into walls of the gym, tearing through its surface, as Tyranitar pummeled the Electabuzz, beating them into the floor all as they leapt toward him, fierce and intense. Nathanael, all the while, smirked, his arms folded over his chest, a laugh on his lips.
"Oh, this is just beautiful, Surge! Will you look at it? Your precious gym falling to pieces around you. See what happens when you try to act tough? It only blows up in your face!"
Machamp delivered a mighty punch into Raichu's chest. Lt. Surge watched, in horror, as his comrade gagged on itself, the air torn from its lungs with a mighty, sharp blow, throwing the poor critter through the doorway, tearing it apart as Raichu landed weakly on the street, the very ground torn asunder. Lt. Surge leapt toward his fallen friend, only for Machamp to slam his numerous fists straight into Surge's torso. He would have screamed in pain, but his ribs had shattered, and if he wanted his ribs to dig deeper into his lungs, he would have shouted. But he knew better. He had been in war before, injured before. This was nothing!
He punched Machamp again in the face, kicking him in the lower torso, as he fell to his feet, barely able to stand. He glared up at Machamp as he drew his foot up, ready to stomp down on his foe's very skull. This was it, wasn't it? Countless wars, countless battles, and he was to be in the end beaten by his employers? What sort of sins had he commited to deserve such a fate?
A bolt of electricity surged into the back of Machamp's skull, throwing him forward, into the walls of the building. There Raichu stood in the doorway, gasping for air, but still standing, its tail barely helping to support its weight. Magmortar turned toward the orange rat, and extended its cannon arm, light flaring out from deep within. Surge watched as the rat leapt above the blast, allowing the energy to tear the street before it as though a volcano had erupted from below it. Raichu landed on Magmortar's skull, bolts of electricity surging out from its depths, ensnaring the Pokemon, filling it with painful volts. It stumbled away from Surge's comrades, all beaten and bloody. Magmortar fired at random in a blind attempt to defeat, to torch, to kill the attacker.
"Get out of here!" Surge stammered, gagging on his own blood, as he turned toward his comrades. Wordlessly, the injured recalled their Pokemon to their balls, and made a mad dash for the door, as Surge himself lumbered forward. However, Tyranitar stepped forward, blocking their path, his eyes wide and ferocious. Nathanael chuckled as he glanced at the beast, and nodded. The monstrous Tyranitar drew its head back, energy gathering in its open mouth. Lt. Surge watched in horror as his comrades dove for the ground, the Hyper Beam flying over their heads, soaring directly at Surge!
He did the only thing he could: fall.
The blast tore through the gym, filling it with light as all the walls trembled, tearing under the force of the blast, the roof spinning off into the sky like a discuss into the ocean, where it crumbled. Fire reigned in the electric gym, ensnaring all fibers in ash and smoldering embers. Nathanael looked down on the broken leader, and chuckled, returning Magmortar and Tyranitar to their balls as Machamp leapt from the fiery depths of the gym, at Nathanael's side. As Nathanael returned Machamp to his depths, he summoned a new creature, but before Surge could see it, it had flown off with the monster into the air, out of sight.
The gym was gone. The gym was gone. All destroyed. Nothing left. No warning. No hesitation. The league, no, Nathanael Butler had destroyed everything. All his records, gone. Everything he had done in the past several years had now been washed away in the winds. And now, he was gone, doomed. His entire body was in agonizing pain, all was broken. Would he ever stand again? Would he ever breathe again?
"It seems you have a problem."
The lieutenant turned to see the tall figure standing behind him, glaring out at him, her hair dancing in the gentle winds of the smoldering gym. With a silent nod, she grinned. She grinned at the broken man on the ground as she moved closer, a chuckle on her lips.
"Lt. Surge, we have business to discuss. I need you for something VERY important, so don't waste my time by dying just yet."
Part 4"So is this the underground current?" Ash asked as he and Pikachu, sitting on his shoulder, stared out at the expanse of water under the earthy stalagmites—or was it stalactites? He never knew the difference! They were just those pointy things coming down from the ceiling to him. In any case, at his side was Lola, Brock's supposed-to-be-dead mother, dressed in what appeared to be a wetsuit. He asked momentarily why she needed to dress like that, but then, glancing back at the sub terrestrial lake before them, that it was probably a smart idea to wear that.
"Yup," Lola replied, a grin on her lips as she withdrew a solitary ball from her hip, tossing it up and down as she drew it behind her head. There was a flash of light as a grand serpentine beast emerged before them, his azure scales shinning in the dim lantern light strapped along the walls of the underground cavern. The Gyarados roared as it landed in the water, splashing liquid against Ash's aghast face as he drew back, his jacket soaking wet. Lola laughed at this, her entire body shielded from the water thanks to her wet suit. "No time like the present. Get on!"
Lola kicked off the ground, landing on her blessed Gyarados's head in a heartbeat. The Gyarados purred in delight, like a kitten with a ball of yarn, before letting Ash on its back, who carefully pushed himself up her slippery scales. After securing herself as best he could, they were off, torrents of water soaring past the Gyarados as it tore through the water like a blade across, well, anything really. The lantern light beside them blurred like a great steam of brilliance, vibrating in their peripheral vision as they passed, sparkling droplets of water drifting in the air, refracting the beauty.
Over their heads, Zubat soared, the sounds from their open mouths radiating through the air, the soundwaves reverberating off of every moist surface. However, at the high speeds they traveled at, all Ash could hear was their unified symphony against the percussion of the high winds beating against his eardrums. The chorus of Magikarp swerving out of the way of their future big brother filled the dark air. All the while, Ash clung to the mane of the Gyarados, the mane of hard scales and slippery surfaces, as Pikachu clung to his shoulder, his entire body waving against the wind like a flag or some comical banner. He struggled to hold on, while, to his astonishment, Lola remained standing erect, her hair flowing through the wind like a wild mane, dancing in every direction as she stared straight ahead, the wind tearing around her as though she were a mountain in a hurricane: unmovable.
How did she do it?
The Gyarados roared loudly as a the water trembled before them. Ash was given a second as Gyarados slowed down for Ash to pull himself up back onto Gyarados's head. The water soared up in two waves past the singularity of a sole figure standing on the back of some flying Pokemon. What this creature was doing down below the surface when its brethren were in the air was anybody's guess, but, as Ash found the creature moving closer, he realized the reason this usually airborne creature was below the Earth was simply because of the trainer riding on its back.
Gyarados swerved out of the way of the oncoming figure, its broad wings stretched out as far as the eye could see. Ash's eyes widened as he caught a better glimpse of the creature passing them by. "That's an Aerodactly!" Ash stammered, watching as the Pokemon passed them. His trainer stood tall on its back, undaunted by the oncoming torrents of wind, his long locks of hair dancing behind him as his sloppy jacket flapped in the air behind him, like a cape or some sort of rather insidious costume, or maybe even the jacket Ash himself was wearing. However, he made no distinct features from the man as he passed, as his form was but a blur against his retinas.
"Who's that guy?" Ash asked aloud, staring off at his trail as he soared off, the water now touching the stalagmites in the air as it darted off into oblivion.
"Eh, who knows?" Lola replied, shrugging, "Probably a real good trainer, my best bet. Don't think it'll ever affect us. C'mon! Let's keep moving!"
"Alright, everyone!" Misty shouted at the top of her lungs, looking down at all the employees and trainers at her gym. Amongst them were both Molly, who was staring up at her with a determined expression on her face, and Jean, who continuously jotted down notes in her pad, lazily. However, all this were insignificant to the orange haired trainer. After all, a lot of things would be insignificant to someone who was about to lose everything. "Listen, I don't think I'm very good at making speeches, but even so, I just wanted to tell you we only have two months left as members of the Cerulean City Gym."
The reaction she received wasn't horror struck as she had assumed, but rather confused. Perhaps the idea of the gym disappearing was completely alien, if not ludicrous, to them, an impossibility. Perhaps they even thought their beloved gym leader was pulling their legs. However, the leader could not be any farther from the truth in this situation. Sighing again, she glanced down at her audience, taking a few steps forward as she glanced at each of them in turn.
"The League has decided that we are simply too powerful of a gym, and this is keeping trainers from arriving at the league. I'm not lying. I'm not kidding around. In two months, this place will be demolished. However, we CAN do something about this!" Looking up at her partners, she said, frowning, "We can protest this, petition the league even. If we get a big enough petition to save the league, then we'll surely be able to save everything, right? We'll keep the pool open, the gym battles open, and all the revenue this town receives from trainers coming to battle will keep on flowing, so it'll all be good, right?"
The crowed seemed to, for the most part, agree with Misty. They nodded their heads, murmured words of agreement, or, in some cases, punched the air excitedly. A couple, however, seemed rather terrified of the prospect of failure, and, as such, glanced off nervously, lowered their heads in anxiety, and one girl even began crying. Misty felt much like joining her. The fate of Cerulean was truly in the hands of Saffron City's gym leader for the time being, and she had little faith in someone who had once turned her into a doll.
Though Ash would've trusted her.
"That was a good speech," Molly said after everyone had parted.
"Well, I guess so. I felt kinda nervous really," Misty replied, giggling to herself to reassure herself that she felt happiness in her heart.
Little secret: she didn't.
From the crowds of joyous, confused, and depressed employees and trainers, Jean emerged, taking the gym leader, and her loyal disciple Molly, aside with her. Once out of earshot of the rest of the trainers, who were all too distracted by the catharsis of Misty's rather ordinary speech, Jean went straight to business. "Misty, it might be a good idea to, in the meantime, leave me in charge of organizing protests and the like," Jean said, pushing her glasses up her nose.
"After all, to my knowledge you're going to be a tad preoccupied, what with the blackmail and everything," Jean replied, turning around, abandoning the due with a lazy wink, "Enjoy prison. Give Nathanael my regards."
"Prison?" Molly asked, confused.
"Don't worry about it. It's just Jean's strange sense of humor," Misty replied, pulling Molly aside as they left the gym. "Hey, listen, Molly, have you encountered any strong trainers on your way?"
"Strong trainers? I know a few, but I don't think they can just come over to Kanto just like that," Molly replied, "A lot of them seem focused on their own little missions, ya know?"
"Yeah, I can imagine, but do you know any in the area? Ones that AREN'T in Johto?"
"I just flew over here. I don't know anyone, aside from you, Ash, and Brock."
Ash. Ash. Ash. He was a strong trainer, and if Misty asked him, he'd come in an instant, but she couldn't do it. Not because she was afraid about inconveniencing him, but because he was a little nervous about contacting him after four years of not talking. It would just feel so awkward, all that time and then, all of a sudden, here she would be, talking to him on the phone. What exactly would she say, anyway? "Well, I'd ask Ash, but last I heard he's in Hoenn. Knowing him, he'd be busy fighting some gym leader or whatever, ya know?"
"Maybe he's close by?" Molly asked.
"What're the chances he'd happen to just be right by Kanto anyway? Heck, what're the chances he'd even be near Cerulean any—"
At that precise moment, the very Earth outside the gym trembled. There was a loud ripping of the Earth, a shattering fissure of sound that drove both Misty and Molly outside of the gym, both pursuing the source of the sound, of the tremor, of the earthquake of sound. There, before the gym, stood a tall Gyarados, its mouth purring gently. Misty reached for her belt, withdrawing the Pokeball holding her own Gyarados, but lowered it as she noticed two figures standing on the tall serpentine Pokemon's head.
It was clear who this was.
"Alright! You on the Gyarados! Get down here!" snapped Misty, raising her Gyarados once again, "What the heck are ya doing breakin' through the ground and all? Ya could've hurt someone! You're completely irresponsible and stupid! Above all, just stupid for popping up right in my front—"
"Hey! Misty! Up here!"
"Huh?" Misty glanced up at the sound of her name being called. That laugh. That familiar laugh. She stared up at the figures standing up on the Gyarados's head, the figure waving both of his arms back and forth as he shouted, that same laugh filling her ears. Her eyes widened, her scalp tightened over her bones as her hairs stood up on end, her heart racing. She found her lips twitching into a smile, a stunned, amazed smile. There were no other thoughts, no other concepts in her mind, other than memories. The gym being torn down was irrelevant next to the waves of memories crashing down over her shoulders. Memories of joy, of pain, of heartache, of happiness, of victory, of defeat, of loss, of separation, of fun, of hatred, of nostalgia, of regret, and, most of all, of love, filled her body. No words could do justice to that sort of emotion, all those feelings integrated into one ultimate feeling that could be labeled as a reunion.
"Ash!" Misty shouted as the familiar trainer drew nearer as the Gyarados lowered its massive head. He leapt down to the ground, wearing the attire she had first met him in. He looked up at her, smiling that same goofy grin he always wore. What a stupid idiot! He looked like a moron with that smile, that smile showing all those dumb teeth of his, that smile flexing every dumb muscle in his face, every lovely, beautiful, dumb muscle. Pikachu leapt off of Ash's shoulders, and landed heavily in Misty's arms. The poor creature was trembling violently, as though it had just been dragged by a fishing rod across the water while the fisherman was on a speedboat, or had been in a conversation with Sabrina. One of the two.
"I was in the neighborhood, so I thought I'd come by and see ya, Misty! Had to ride a Tauros and Gyarados to get in the neighborhood, but that's not important."
"A Tauros? Wouldn't that hurt?"
"Don't remind me."
"So what's with the Gyarados?" Misty asked, curiously.
"That would be mine," Lola replied, hopping off her Gyarados's back before returning the beast to his sphere.
"Misty, this is Brock's mom," Ash said, hastily, "Can ya believe it? She isn't dead?"
"Yeah, I know that," Misty replied, simply, "I have met her before, ya know."
"WHAT! So everyone else knew she wasn't dead except me? Ya guys really need t' tell me these sorts of things!"
Misty giggled. It was the first real giggle in a long time, the first real instance of amusement she'd felt for years. This, this emotion right here, with Ash right there, was joy, was happiness, was love. It was also being peeved off. "Hey, listen! What gives ya the idea to just rip up the front lawn, huh!"
"What? Your front—GYAH?" Ash stammered as he turned around to witness the damage done to the property of the Cerulean gym, "Lola! Why'd ya go and ruin everything!"
"Well, it WAS close to the gym," Lola replied, shrugging, "If ya didn't get up then and there, ya would've ended up in Cerulean Cave, and trust me when I say you don't want to end up there."
"Why not?" Ash asked.
"Cerulean Cave is a pretty weird place. A lot of people say there's super powerful Pokemon there that'll really hurt you, though I don't know for sure. Even I try staying away from there," Misty replied.
"You're afraid that bugs are in there, huh?"
"SHUT UP!" Misty snapped.
"Oh, by the way, Misty! Just a heads up, remember that girl from Johto? The one with the Unown, and the Entei, and the—"
"You mean Molly Hale?" Misty asked, glancing over at the girl standing at her side of the same name, description, and identity.
"Yeah! Exactly! I heard she's gonna come over to the gym to face ya! Are ya ready for her? I heard she got real good at training, too."
"Uh, yeah, she came over and faced Misty," Molly replied, smiling smugly.
"Oh, really? Do ya know how she did?" Ash asked. Molly cocked her head before withdrawing the Cascade Badge from her pocket. There was a moment of pause before Ash slammed his fist against his own skull. "OH! I AM SO DAMN STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPIII~~IID!"
"Yeah, I know. It's part of your charm," Misty replied, smirking.
"It would appear you found your powerful trainer."
Misty felt the hairs rise up on the back of her neck as even Ash's eyes widened in shock. After the beautiful reunion between the trainer and the gym leader, now Sabrina needed to interrupt the relationship. After all, hadn't she interrupted her life more than enough already? Yes, the woman WAS on her side, but did she have to be so damn creepy about everything?
"Sa—Sa—Sa—" Ash stammered, staring in horror at the newcomer, who stood directly behind Misty, glancing at all the new arrivals.
"I'm glad you're so happy to see me," Sabrina replied, bluntly.
"Were you visiting Misty, or—?" Ash asked, gesturing back and forth, clearly attempting to make sense of the new arrival.
"Not hardly. I'm simply here to invite you to aid us in a little difficult mission we're dealing with," Sabrina replied, "I owe you, regardless, for what you did the last time we met."
"Owe me? But you gave me the Marsh Badge last time, and how is me helping you aiding me?" Ash asked, confused.
"You'll understand later," Sabrina replied, frowning.
"Yeah, she isn't explaining much to me either," Misty replied, frowning.
"I have come to inform you both that Lt. Surge's gym has just been demolished."
"Wait, what!" Ash stammered, his eyes widening, "Lt. Surge? That guy from Vermillion City? Beaten?"
"Not only him, but his two students too who were present. All beaten by a single trainer," Sabrina replied, "And, during the battle, the gym was utterly destroyed. A Pokemon even died during the confrontation."
"Wait, a Pokemon died…?" Ash stammered, staring at Sabrina with a look of horror on his face.
"Yes, one of the opposing trainer's Pokemon, for better or worse," Sabrina replied, unsympathetically, "I suppose you can mark it down to the trainer not bothering to rescue his Rhyperior after it was thrown into the water. He made no attempt to rescue it, and it wasn't like it died quickly. It died from drowning in the water. He didn't even bother to rescue his Pokemon after he left the scene."
Ash stared at Sabrina, his eyes filled with rage, though Misty knew that rage was not focused at Sabrina. Misty would know, as she felt the exact same emotion, though not toward either Ash or Sabrina, or even Lola. No, she knew just who had destroyed Vermillion City Gym. She could see that unshaven face, that smug expression on that bastard's visage: Nathanael Butler. "It was Butler, right?"
"Wait, how do you know Butler?" Ash asked, his eyes widened.
"You know him?" Misty asked, confused.
"He's thinking of ANOTHER Butler," Sabrina sighed, "Butler is the man's last name, not first name like the one YOU'RE thinking of."
"Oh, okay. I was gonna say that didn't seem like him at all, ya know?" Ash replied, laughing at his own mistake.
"This Butler, Nathanael Butler, is part of the Indigo League, an official who wants to shut down three of the Kanto gyms due to them being difficult. Cerulean Gym, Saffron Gym, and Vermillion Gym. He has succeeded in one location, and plans on officially shutting the gyms down in two months time. He'll probably pin Vermillion City's gym's destruction on Lt. Surge going insane at the revelation that his gym will be shut down. I am sure of that much."
"Why are you so certain?" Ash asked.
Sabrina looked at Ash for a few seconds as though she had considered probing his brain to see just what idiotic part of that mess of matter would make Ash forget Sabrina possessed psychic powers, only for the psychic to realize Ash was a brainless idiot. Sabrina didn't even bother responding to Ash's idiotic question as she turned toward Misty. "I have Surge off taking care of business for me. I need you and Ash, and any other trainer you feel certain can aid you, to Cinnabar Island. There is a ship off of Vermillion City leaving for there. Take it."
"Why can't Lt. Surge just go to Cinnabar if he lives right there?" Ash asked, confused.
"Because right now he's in Celadon taking care of some business for me," Sabrina replied, "His objective, I might add, is just as difficult as yours is. Surge and his two pupils are helping me immensely, but their work is meaningless UNLESS you find information on a research island not far off of Cinnabar that was destroyed nearly seven or eight years ago. Find information out on that for me, and then I'll have all I need."
"Where will you be?" Misty asked, curiously.
"In Cerulean Cave. Someone is calling for me there."
"Uh, okay, if ya say so," Ash replied, backing away.
Sabrina turned around, a trio of tickets emerging in her hands. She tossed them to Misty, who caught them hastily. "Those are your tickets. Get there in three days time. You don't have much time! Move now!"
"Three tickets? Who's the third person?" Ash asked, curiously.
"I'll go!" Molly replied.
"I'm not sure you're strong enough—"
"She got a Cascade Badge, and I'm one of the toughest gyms in Kanto," Misty replied, smirking.
It felt so good to smirk like that again.
"Good luck, you three," Sabrina replied, turning toward the pit formed in the wake of Gyarados, "I'm sure you'll need it, but I know you'll succeed. Hopefully." At that, Sabrina hopped off the ledge, hurtling down into the raging water below. Misty darted forward, along with the others, only to find Sabrina levitating over the raging rapids below, the water literally twisting around her as the waves pushed up against the invisible purple shell surrounding her body, enveloping her. She was encased in pure psychic energy as she levitated down the stream, deeper toward Cerulean Cave.
"I'll never get used to that," Ash sighed, "Anyway, why didn't ya tell me your gym was bein' shut down?"
"We were only talking for five seconds," Misty replied, "Not enough time. But let's go down to Vermillion! We need to move fast if we want to get there in time."
"Ya know, I can help bring ya to Vermillion city real fast," Lola replied, smiling wryly again.
"Another underwater current?" Ash stammered, his eyes wide.
Lola nodded. "There's a little stream nearby that goes into a large river. The river stops, but travels into a sewage system. We can get to Vermillion in about twelve hours if we travel by foot, not stopping by the numerous small towns and what have you in between, BUT we'd reach Vermillion City in three or four hours the other way, ya know? It'll be fine. Besides, I don't' think Sabrina ever said when the boat left, did she?"
With that, the four trainers broke out into a sprint. However, Misty realized there was a certain bounce in her step she didn't have before, or hadn't had in a long time. She asked herself, at first, what it could be, but then realized she was asking a dumb question. She glanced toward the man at her side, the man staring forward, his eyes never wavering from their ultimate objective. There Ash Ketchum stood, a man, no that was too stupid of an address, a boy from years ago, standing at her side, running at her side, as he had for years, as THEY had for years.
It was how it was meant to be.
"Surge went mad? That sounds rather out of character for him."
"It's true. You can see the wreckage for yourself if you wish," Nathanael Butler replied, staring straight at the League Officials before him, the Elite Four high above them all, all staring down at him as he spoke to the masses. All those souls, all those men, staring down at him, surprised, yet believing his every word. And, after all, why wouldn't they? He was their honest soldier, their savior. He was the one who came up with the brilliant idea to eliminate gym leaders to raise attendance. If he could convince the League to let people go, then surely he could discredit a violent man by stating he did something violent.
How easy was that?
"I don't believe Surge could do such a thing," Lance said, his fiery hair sticking out of his scalp in sharp angles, staring down at the crowd.
"I disagree," another man from the audience said, "Surge is just the type of hothead who WOULD destroy his own gym. And he even killed Butler's Rhyperior!"
"We have statistics showing Surge is known for violence against Pokemon, and he has gone as far as to kill Pokemon in the past during wartime, so to say that he wouldn't kill a Pokemon is unreasonable, Lance."
"Yes, please explain yourself, Lance."
Having the whole of the League turned upon him, Lance lowered his head, and said, his dark voice filling the arena, "It may seem logical, but need I remind you the only evidence we have for this is Nathanael Butler's word? He WANTED to eliminate Vermillion City's gym, and vehemently convinced the board to vote against my veto until that bill was passed. Do ANY of you find it odd that the moment he gets his way that the gym is destroyed? Does ANYONE find that strange?"
"Surely it may seem unusual that all evidence was destroyed in the destruction of the gym, but that's simply because Surge KNEW you'd think that," Butler replied, shrugging, "He's a soldier. He knows what people look for during a disaster. He knew you'd be suspicious, Lance. He counted on it. However, what he didn't count on was that I would escape alive. My poor Rhyperior is dead, thanks to that bastard." Butler took a second to pause, if only to make it look like he was choked up, before
continuing. "Listen, everyone, he killed my friend. Is that enough evidence for you? I say we arrest him. He needs to be held down before he does more damage. Can we at least agree on that much?"
"Perhaps we should at least restrain him," Bruno replied, his bare midriff visible for all to see, "I do side with Lance on this issue that it seems odd for Surge to behave in such a manor, but I think that both sides need to talk to Surge personally. To simply make wild accusations or to blindly defend him is foolish. We must understand that we all want Surge here alive. Can we agree on that much?"
"Bruno has a good point," Lorelei said, her hands folded anxiously, "I am siding more with Nathanael on this issue, simply because I would never put it past Surge to do such a thing, but my own personal prejudices are getting in the way here. We need to have him fairly tried by an impartial jury. No one man has the right to punish Surge. We need him alive and in control. For all his faults, at least he does respect authority. He doesn't respect anyone else, but he does respect authority."
"Agreed," Agatha replied, "Worst case scenario, I'll be able to extract the truth out of him."
That was true. Nathanael's heart quickened. If the truth was extracted, it would be clear that Nathanael had lied, and then all his plans would be ruined! He frowned, slightly, before smirking. He could just side-step the problem by having Surge be found dead. Yes, dead! Only solution. The BEST solution. He would need to be dead, deader than dead, gone forever. "I agree with your judgement, Elite Four. I suggest everyone joins them in that beautiful decision. Lt. Surge should be captured alive. I will let the law enforcement agencies handle it. I feel my personal prejudices, as Lorelei pointed out, will have an affect on the capture."
"That's a mature decision, Nathanael," Lorelei replied, smiling, "I applaud you for it. If it was one of my pokemon killed, I'd want his head."
"Well, I don't want to hurt the League, you know," Nathanael replied, smiling his best smile. He had practiced for years to get the perfect smile: a hint of uncertainty, gratitude, yet a dash of melancholy that would sell everyone over.
And it did.
Save for Lance.
It was hours after the meeting before Nathanael attempted to communicate with Claude. Nathanael left the League, leaving on his Aerodactyl toward the peaks of Tohjo Falls, where he stayed, feeding his Pokemon the berries at the top of the hill. He unleashed his team of five Pokemon, Magmortar, Tyrannitar, Machamp, Aerodactly, and his fifth Pokemon: the mighty Arcanine. The quintet fed on the enriched berries as Nathanael grinned. He withdrew a two-way communication device, encrypted perfectly so no one other than the other holder could hear his voice.
The other user was Claude.
"Claude, come in!" Nathanael replied, hastily.
"What is it now, Nathanael?" Claude replied in his deep, dark voice after a few seconds of waiting.
"I require your aid once more, Claude, and listen carefully because the benefits you and your organization will receive in the end will be amazing."
"I know, Nathanael. You always deliver your promises. What is it this time?"
"I want Lt. Surge dead. The league wants him dead, but if he's deceased before they find him, or better yet if they NEVER find him, well, then we won't really have a problem, will we?"
"I'll inform the rest of the men, along with Giovanni. By the way, Nathanael, are you enjoying Tohjo Falls? Those berries we generated were pretty good, aren't they?"
Nathanael grinned, wearily, "So you're tracking me with this thing too?"
"We can't let our investments run away on us, can we? We need constant surveillance on you. Besides, now that you destroyed one of the gyms already, the money should start flowing, won't it?"
"Oh yes, you'll get your money, don't worry," chuckled Nathanael, a grin on his lips, "Just make sure you kill Surge. If he's reinstated as Gym Leader, you'll never see a cent, understand? And then you'll be doomed too."
"Why would I be doomed?"
"If I fall, they'll find this device. And if you can track me, they'll make it so they can track you, and you'd NEVER know. So make sure, for everyone's sake, you kill Surge. Understand, Claude?"
"Crystal clear, Nathanael. I'll get right to it. I'm out."
Nathanael lowered the talking device, a grin on his lips as the seconds passed, his eyes widening in glee. He was right there, RIGHT there. All he needed were three gyms knocked down before the money came in, and Claude could be happy. Only then, well, ONLY then would he be able to pursue his final goal. It was a simple matter, really. All he needed was to eliminate one little man standing in his way, and he'd ascend. He was almost there, ALMOST there. And maybe he'd get find pleasure along the way.
Those two women, Misty and Sabrina. What beauties. What beautiful women. He could still smell the scents of their hair as he passed them by, the curves of their hips, the softness of their arms and the delicate tips of each of their fingers. He could imagine the sensation of wrapping his arms around their waists, holding them close, feeling their bodies touching his. It was such a beautiful idea, such a magnificent concept. He longed for them, longed for them so dearly.
Was it his fault for wanting younger women?
He grinned to himself as the seconds passed, his fingers flexing along their own structures, his eyes widening as he imagined their bodies on the ground on Tohjo Falls. He longed to reach out for the images of the women before him, the figures he had imagined into existence, but alas, his hands passed through air seeing as how he had nothing, no woman, nothing. He wanted them so much, and what Nathanael Butler wanted, he received.
(Author's Note): Just to clear a few things up before continuing…regarding the character of Nathanael Butler, his design, for those curious, is based on that of Ryouji Kaji from Neon Genesis Evangelion, though NONE of his personality and charm is borrowed. I feel the need to state this after noticing a lot of people referencing Evangelion in Pokemon fiction…I mean, Ikarishipping? Comashipping? I'm sure HALF of the people who support Comashipping don't know what they're discussing when they refer to Comashipping…additionally, despite Butler's sexual deviance, though rape or some other horrible imagery MAY occur in the future (I don't want to spoil what is to come), I DO NOT WRITE LEMONS! I will not write a lemon. I have a sense of respect, guys! I may describe a sex scene, but I HATE BEING EXPLICIT ABOUT IT! I mean, really? It's just so uncalled for in a romantic adventure POKEMON fan-fiction to write hard-core sex scenes…Besides, THIS IS A T-RATED FAN FIC! I WILL NOT WRITE SOMETHING THAT WRONG IN A T-RATED FAN-FIC!
Just settling the matter now. Enjoy!
"WHY IS TRAVELING FAST ALWAYS SO PAINFUL?" Ash stammered as Gyarados rocketed down the river toward Vermillion. It wasn't like this was the first time he had traveled on water. He had been on the SS Anne before, and he had ridden a Lapras all over the Orange Islands with Misty and Tracey, but in all honesty, never before had he ridden by Gyarados! Pikachu clung to dear life on Ash's arm, cutting off the circulation to the hands that desperately struggled to hold onto any sort of scale or object he could have a good grip on.
Why was it that Misty had no trouble clinging to the Gyarados's mane, as Lola stood up on the skull of the great beast itself, both proud and tall against the oncoming raging hurricane winds pushing against them?
Molly, at least, for better or worse, was in Ash's shoes. Had it not been for the Ursuring she had summoned holding her down against the great beast's surface, holding onto the massive scales with its great claws, she would have slipped off the beast into the raging currents below. It was a god thing she had that huge teddy bear to hold onto her. Even so, the poor girl was white in the face, terrified at the prospect of voyaging even a single meter further down the river, despite the fact that, every second, they traveled a dozen meters further toward their destination.
Another thing that bothered Ash was how Lola had described the water passageway as a stream or a little river. Little? Had Lola ever seen a little stream? If so, she'd realize that massive, raging rapids with sharp rocks that literally tear up its shoreline just so the river seems to be in constant expansion does NOT qualify as tame by any means. If anything, it's utter insanity! It was a huge river, huge intense rapids that threatened to swallow Gyarados up, or at least severely injure him, if he didn't constantly sway back and forth, riding around the rapids, moving so fast as to nauseate him.
Why couldn't he have kept his Pigeot? Maybe then he could've flown to Vermillion. He should've called Charizard from Johto, but no! He needed to be stupid, didn't he? He needed to be intellectually inept, didn't he? What a stupid move on his part! He was stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID! He would have hit himself in the head, but Ash didn't think letting himself slip into the intense depths of the river was truly worth the cathartic impulse of hitting himself on the head.
"So how long is this?" Ash screamed out as the air rushing past them filled his lungs with air violently and intensely.
"Not longer," Lola replied, smiling as the wind tore through her locks of hair, her strands of brown hair spiraling through the air.
Ash glanced over at Lola, how she stood so firmly on her Gyarados, before his attention was deviated. There stood Misty, her smooth skin shining against the sun above, the water reflecting and refracting the massive star's light against her skin from below. Misty could have probably been a mermaid in a past life, or perhaps a Dewgong. She adored the water, so perhaps the process of traveling across the intense rapids around them was, to her, thrilling. Ash didn't see it, but, judging by that smile on her lips, she must be enjoying herself to some extent.
Ash hadn't seen her smile like that since, well, the last time he saw her.
Eventually, after an infinite chasm of time, they reached Vermillion. The first thing Ash did upon landing was vomit into the river, along with Pikachu and Molly. Misty and Lola had no problem hopping off the Gyarados's back, a smile on their lips as they glanced over at the sick trio. "You guys are a bunch of babies," Lola giggled.
"Well, ya get used to it after awhile," Misty replied, shrugging, "That's every day with Ash."
"Thanks a lot, Misty. We don't see each other for a couple years, and you just start insulting me again?" Ash replied, with a scowl on his lips, yet a laugh in his heart. Maybe the laugh was because he was so glad to be on solid ground? In any case, for a second, Misty's face contorted into what could only be described as a hurt expression, but maybe Ash had only imagined that change of expression, as instantly after looking sad, she looked mad, despite there being a slight smile on her lips.
"Oh, but that's the thing! I could spend a decade apart and still feel the same way!"
"The feeling's mutual!"
"Pika!" Pikachu stammered, urgently stepping between the two of them, his arms outstretched, as though he were trying to separate a fight.
"Hey, guys! We don't have time for this!" Molly stammered, "The ship leaves in ten minutes!"
"TEN MINUTES!" Ash stammered.
"Yeah, it says so on the tickets," Molly replied, the tickets in her balled up fist.
"Hey, how did you get those?"
"They fell out of your pockets," Molly replied, hopping onto Ursuring's back, gesturing for the others to join her.
"They fell out and you didn't tell us?" Ash asked, hopping on, clinging to the hair of Ursuring's back as Pikachu hopped on Ash's shoulder, clinging for dear life.
"Yeah, I saw that too. I was gonna have Staryu go and grab 'em for you, but Molly caught them, so it was okay," Misty replied, taking a seat beside Ash.
Lola chuckled a little before turning back toward the river. She recalled Gyarados into the water, and, with a little grin, shouted, "Gyarados, bite Ursuring in the ass!"
One nibble later, and Ursuring was sprinting ferociously down Vermillion City.
All the while, as they sprang down the roads, Misty had her eyes on one thing. She didn't focus on the people darting out of the way of the massive bear, nor was she looking to see that they didn't run headlong into some sort of vehicle coming straight toward them. Rather, all she saw, as it was on the Gyarados ride, was on Ash's face as it screwed up in horror, holding her head low to the bear's shoulders with Pikachu. He did this sort of thing with his nose, where it scrunched up, where his eyebrows knotted together to shield his eyes from the wind.
It was cute.
Before she knew it, the trio of humans, and Pikachu (and Ursuring too) had arrived before the SS Anne. The ticket person didn't seem to really know how to respond to the arrival of a great bear bounding toward them, but only managed to lamely accept the tickets as Molly hastily shoved them into his hands. Molly returned Ursuring to his ball, her hair visibly astray, as Pikachu steadied himself on Ash's shoulders, trembling violently as the trio of humans walked up toward the ship's deck.
The fresh sea air filled the girl's lungs as she progressed alongside toward the dock, staring out at the city as the seconds passed, and as the ship slowly pulled away from the city. There was a sound of joy and euphoria amongst the couples on the deck, only for her to glance over at the others with her. Molly was in a fetal position, perhaps struggling to remain as still and stable on the rocking ship, clearly relieved to have lived passed the insane transportation she had traveled on for the past three hours and ten minutes. Pikachu was comforting her gently, patting her on the little of her back.
Ash, however, was right beside Misty, though for the wrong reasons. He was vomiting neatly over the edge of the ship, his face green as the seconds passed, his entire body rocking nauseously as the moments passed, visibly sick from all that traveling and rushing around they had undergone the whole time. Misty couldn't help but giggle a little bit as she glanced down at his rocking, nauseous form. "You're such a wimp."
"Hey, give me a break here. I don't travel by bear that often, or by Gyarados."
"Oh, c'mon, it wasn't so bad."
"Just how the heck can ya not want to puke after all that?" Ash stammered, his eyes wide.
"Eh, I just trust the water is all."
"Trust the water? That still doesn't explain the bear."
"Just doesn't bother me is all."
"I guess I'll just accept that. You're weird."
Misty giggled, her cheeks filling with blush. "Is that why you came down to Cerulean? Just to call me weird?"
"Well, actually, the main reason I came by was just to talk, see how you were because, well, I missed ya."
Misty's cheeks turned scarlet. "You missed me?"
"Well, I was kinda curious about you, too."
There was no backing down now. "Well, ya see, I keep thinking about all those years ago when we used to travel around a lot, do you remember? All that time ago? It was fun, ya know? And, well, I realized that I just wasn't having a lot of—er—that is to say—" Misty lowered her head, her mouth too dry to continue. Why couldn't she speak. So often she had too many words to say, or had to say the wrong words that weren't right, so why was it now that even the wrong words weren't coming out? Why was it that she had, after years of having a sharp tongue, gone tongue tied?
"What're ya tryin' to say, Misty?" Ash asked, curiously.
"I—er—I miss ya, you twerp!" Misty spat, "That's what!" She couldn't say the rest of her statement. That's all that came out. There wasn't anything else she could possibly say, whether she wanted to or not. Her mouth was simply sealed shut, her throat collapsing upon itself, her vocal cords pulled tight so no vibrations could emerge. She couldn't say the words deep in her heart, nor, honestly, did she want to. After all, all Ash seemed to know her as was as a friend. If she told Ash everything, how she truly and honestly felt, then maybe he'd never see her the same way again. Things would get awkward.
It was better to stay the same.
"Aw, well, Misty, I missed ya too!" Ash laughed, blushing as he scratched the back of his head, "I've really wanted to see ya for awhile now, too. That fishing lure you lent me reminded me a lot of you, ya know."
"Fishing lure? Oh! That one!" Misty remembered handing Ash that lure that was in her likeness. She smiled for a moment. "That was one of my favorite lures, too."
"Do you want it back—?"
"No!" Misty said abruptly.
"Oh, okay," Ash replied, simply, turning back to the ocean for a moment or two. A second of silence passed before the boy said, a smile on his lips, "I kinda like the lure, ya know."
"Guess ya have good taste."
For the rest of the ride over to Cinnabar Island, the long trip over to the island down far away, Misty could not say those words, those special words she had wanted to say, and yet couldn't speak. Well, she could speak words, but not the words she really wanted to say. She could tell Molly stories of the past several years between the day they first met and the day of their reunion. She could tell Ash how it felt to run a gym as she did. Yet, she couldn't say those words she wanted to say, the strong words burning in the depths of her heart, the words that seared the inside of her throat, the inside of her lungs, every second, every instant, every moment. Whenever Misty would stare at Ash's face, she'd find blood rushing to her cheeks, only to suppress her emotions with a witty comment or snarky sarcasm.
If she was overly friendly, she might just give in to her emotions.
Finally, the ship pulled up to Cinnabar, and, upon pulling up to the glorious island, the trio, and Pikachu, came to realize one crucial fact that stampeded over them in a sudden onslaught of revelation. "HOW THE HELL DO WE GET TO NEW ISLAND!" Ash screamed, frustrated and confused.
"Maybe we could swim there?" Misty suggested. At that comment, Pikachu suddenly darted up Ash's back, and hid underneath his hat, the bulging mass on the boy's head trembling and shaking under the scarlet and pewter fabric. Judging by Ash's horrified expression, it looked as though the master wished to join his dearest friend.
"We don't even know where it is. We'd get lost if we just tried swimming there," Molly pointed out, much to Ash and Pikachu's relief.
"Well, true, but how else are we gonna get there?" Misty asked, confused, "I mean, how else could we possibly get to New Island?"
"Did you say 'New Island'?"
Misty glanced over her shoulder to see a girl approaching them that towered over her, a rather large girl if she did say so herself, with a rather fake looking tan and strawberry blonde hair. She was rather large-chested, almost obscenely so, and yet she didn't seem to have any balance issues. Surely that was a lot of weight to have on the front side. Still, the very pretty looking girl was standing nearby, and she seemed to be a ticket to New Island.
Misty was listening.
"We can take you to New Island."
"Who's 'we'?" Molly asked, curiously.
"Oh, I mean me and my sister—er—my sister and me," the girl said in a rather high pitched voice, a girlish giggle behind each word.
"Uh, okay," Misty replied, her eyes narrowed. So a girl came out of nowhere to offer her a ride to an obscure island? Seemed too good to be true, and it probably was. "How much do you want for it?"
"Oh, it's free! We have to go up there anyway to pick up—er—Magikarp for the—er—Casino Prize pool," the girl replied, covering up the pauses in her sentences with seemingly random fits of powerful giggles.
"Okay! Alright! I'm in!" Ash cheered, despite Pikachu's cheeks sparkling slightly as he glared at the girl.
"Shouldn't we try and think this through a little?" Misty asked, warily.
"Nah! If there's one thing I know, Misty, it's that I am an excellent judge of character!" Ash declared, proudly, despite Pikachu hiding his face behind his hands in shame.
"I am an excellent judge of character, and I know that Nathanael Butler is a thoroughly despicable man, but he'll fulfill his promises."
Claude stood over the computer monitor, staring into the eyes of his two underlings, both dressed in black outfits, a scarlet R emblazoned on their chests as they stared out at their superior, a tense expression in each of their faces. The Rocket Admin didn't see a huge reason to worry. From the beginning, Nathanael Butler had been one of the large benefactors for their project, a huge service to which, without, since the disaster nearly eight or seven years ago following the failure of Giovanni's last long term project, Team Rocket itself might have gone under.
Butler is the reason Team Rocket is still in existence.
"Are you sure? There's something about him that just rubs me the wrong way," Cassidy replied on the other end, her head lowered, her large mane of auburn hair shimmering in the dim overhead light, his long two tails of hair spreading out in a long angle. Her masculine partner with dark hair remained silent, but his face betrayed his inner agreement with his partner's statements.
"I know for sure. He will not fail us, nor should we think he will," Claude laughed them off, waving off their concerns, "Everything is riding on our communication with Butler. Now, tell me, is everything going ahead smoothly?"
"Yes sir, everything so far in this lab is going smoothly. We have almost created a stable prototype, and we should be able to test it in the coming few hours. We're extremely excited on this end, and I'm sure you are too."
Claude's lips curled into a broad grin on his lips. "How long do you suspect it will take before the stats can be transferred to us?"
"Did you download it yet?"
"Thirty seconds. I need thirty seconds!"
"We don't have that much time, Watson! Get it done faster!"
Lt. Surge glanced anxiously over his shoulder, his Raichu perched on his broad shoulders, his tail aimed toward the threshold, sparks flying from the electrical bolt. He was ready to kill, ready to attack, as was Surge. His gym was gone, his entire life up until then had been destroyed thanks to Nathanael Butler. All that to waste, thanks to that bastard. For screwing over his life, Surge was going to screw him over. Big time.
"Twenty seconds," his disciple Watson said, bending over the keyboard. The man was a broad guy, just like Surge, though he had learned how to use his electrical Magneton, the Magneton levitating in the air over the numerous computers, to hack through firewalls and other sorts of cybernetic defenses in war time. He was a master of gathering intelligence and manipulating digital data, and now had a place to use such great potential.
"Two grunts are coming," Elle mumbled, his female deciple, dressed entirely in black, her brunette hair tucked into a bun behind her head as she withdrew a single ball from her side, releasing the ideal Pokemon chosen for this job. With a muted flash of light, Rotom emerged, a spark of energy surging through the air that dove into the ceiling, a ceiling covered with pipes and electrical circuitry. There was a muted light, at which Surge became very still. He listened, heard the footsteps drawing nearer, almost frantically. The guards knew where they were. They were aware, they were on their tails. All their work until then would all be for naught!
The sudden screech of metal and the sudden silence told Surge he had nothing to fear.
"We got it," Watson laughed, unplugging the laptop and numerous back-up hard drives he had hooked up to the massive supercomputer, returning them to a metallic briefcase. He turned toward the others, and nodded. Rotom returned to Elle's side, in the form of pure, unrestrained energy. Lt. Surge pushed away, daring with Elle as Rotom flew into the circuitry again, doing just what he had done to the two guards who had ran toward them seconds earlier: throw metal pipes through their chests to silence them forever more.
In a competitive battle, that would qualify s unnecessary, even by Surge's standards.
This was not a battle.
This was war.
Judging by the numerous poles sticking through the ground, grunts impaled on their metal stalks, Rotom had a lot of work to do.
"Take their Pokeballs," Surge snapped silently as he passed, removing the Pokeballs from the grunt's hips as they passed.
"Isn't that just insult to injury?" Elle asked, obeying the order, along with Watson. "Is there any real point?"
"We're gonna just release 'em," Surge replied, "These people are willing to just let their Pokemon die after a moment's notice. Do ya really think we shouldn't help these guys out a bit? Probably abused. Probably more than willing to have a bite to eat in this place, ya know?"
There was a moment of silence as they darted through the graveyard of grunts before Watson asked, a grin on his lips, "Where do you plan on releasing them?"
As Surge neared the exit of the metallic facility, Rotom emerging from the circuitry, its energy waves faint and worn out as Elle returned it to its home, the lieutenant said, with a broad grin, "Right here."
Surge and his two comrades threw the stolen balls into the depths of the location, unleashing an armada of Rattatas, Koffings, Ekans, and Grimers upon the monstrous remains of Team Rocket's Cerulean City base. As the Pokemon infiltrated their own base, Surge took a step back with his two comrades, their Pokemon in their Poke Balls, Raichu on Surge's shoulders, he slammed the door shut on the base, leaving it to its own destructive devices.
"So what sort of data is this supposed to be on?" Watson asked once the trio were far away from the base, hiding from a nearby Officer Jenny, whose Growlithe were sniffing around the vicinity, the wanted posters asking for Surge plastered nearby.
"No clue," Surge replied, "Only that broad Sabrina knows."
"So now you know. Does it all make sense to you?"
The figure in the shadows stared back at Sabrina, its brilliant eyes stares in the depths of infinite darkness. Had Sabrina never possessed eyes just as luminous before, she may have been unnerved. However, the psychic was not so easily bothered by such things. She was, for all intents and purposes, a woman of rather firm emotion. A little thing like a monster in the darkness could barely make her heart beat out of rhythm.
"The story makes sense, but there are some things I do not see. Is it true that you come to me for some sort of aid?"
"What aid could I supply a woman such as yourself?"
Sabrina grinned. "I need your power."
"My power? And why would you need my abilities?"
"Simply because the enemy we're dealing with has the potential to be the strongest trainer in existence, if he reaches his goals. If he manages to succeed in doing what I have just told you he plans on doing, then everything in this world can and will suffer. It's not a laughing matter. This is a dead serious subject matter. Even someone in your situation may suffer."
"Someone in my situation? You are aware that there is no one else in my situation."
"If he manages to succeed, there will be. There will be."
Part 6"Are you sure you're actually sailors?" Misty asked, her eyebrow raised at the questionable sailboat before them. The thing was quite literally constructed out of what appeared to be washed up plywood and, if her eyes didn't deceive her, string. That's right! String you'd find in a ball of yarn was what held this whimsy little raft together. This thing couldn't survive the waves formed from a child hopping into a pool, let alone violent rapids or a tsunami. Not to mention the crew of the ship looked oddly familiar.
The girl with the overly large boobs constantly adjusted her breasts, as though they couldn't stay in one place at a time, which, the more Misty thought about it, probably was the case. Her partner was also female, a woman with bright red hair and a rather *****y aura about her. Misty didn't know what it was exactly, but there was a spice in her glare that sent minor shivers down her spine, but not so much due to the woman being intimidating and more because she feared hearing her shrill voice bark orders toward the other girl or that Meowth that kept tagging along the ship, purring at every opportune moment.
Didn't Ash see the obvious danger in even associating with these people?
"Ah! Cool! So how fast does this thing go?"
"Faster than, uh, a flying rocket!" the intimidating girl said after a momentary pause.
Could they be less obvious?
Misty glanced at the others through narrowed eyes. "You know, you could just tell us where to go. That ship looks like it couldn't survive a head-on collision with a Magikarp. Just saying."
"Oh, ye of such little faith," chuckled a voice that emerged from neither girl's mouth, though there was a sudden kick that lead to the Meowth soaring into the raft, twitching weakly.
Once on the raft, the two women rowed rather fiercely. Though Ash was enthralled by the surrounding birds flying in the sky, and Molly was left looking a tad nauseous, Misty remained on guard. Her fingers were wrapped around Gyarados's Poke ball as those two obvious fakers rowed onward. Who did they think they were fooling? They were clearly Jessie and James, Team Rocket thugs. Wasn't it obvious? Was she the only one genre savvy enough here to understand this old cliché? Was she the only one who was in a right state to notice an obvious trap when it walked up in front of you, crapped on your feet, and laughed at you?
"Hey! Look Misty! It's a Dewgong out there! A Dewgong!"
An hour passed before Cinnabar Island disappeared from view. However, before them was nothing. There was no island on the horizon, no nothing. Pikachu was agitated, sparks flying from his cheeks as the seconds passed, the little mouse glancing over at their benefactors with a strained expression, a distinct lack of trust spread across his face. The two rowers' lips curled into smiles as the second passed before, finally, Misty could take it no longer. Clearly these two were not whom they claimed they were, and even a mentally retarded baby on some sort of hallucinogen could see they were fake.
It just so happened Ash was denser than that.
Misty withdrew a pin from her hip, at which Ash cocked his head, confused.
"Hey, whaddya got there, Misty?"
Misty casually approached the girl whose boobs seemed to drift across her chest, and poked the breast with the pin. There was a loud pop as the woman's chest ripped open, releasing a torrent of helium that surged through the air as her deflated balloon-boob soared into the air, leaving her chest awfully lopsided and the skin beneath the balloon, the muscular chest muscle, awfully moist from sweat. A second passed where Ash stared at the man, where Molly vomited off on the side of the raft, and where the girl's partners shook their heads in shame. Ash glanced at the deflated balloon, back at the man, and then back at the balloon. He reached down, pinched the hole in the balloon as though to ensure it was real before blowing into the balloon, refilling it with air, before placing it back against the man's chest, holding it there for a moment before the balloon popped in another location, and deflated once more.
"You're not a girl!" Ash stammered backing away.
"You're quick on the uptake," Misty grumbled.
"I suppose it's inevitable! Prepare for—"
"Gyarados, Pikachu, fry 'em," Misty grumbled, summoning her massive sea serpent from its small containment. As the grand beast emerged from the depths of the water, towering over the two goons and Meowth, Pikachu's cheeks sparkled with an almost gleeful glint as a grand bolt of energy surged from the little rodent's body, surging into the trio's bodies, throwing them off of the raft and into the air, only for Gyarados to slam his tail across their stunned forms. As their bodies skipped across the water, the sound of their helpless screaming filled the air, only to be smothered under the water.
They'd probably be back before the day was out.
"Wow Misty! How did ya know it was them?" Ash asked, awestruck.
"You're kidding, right?" was what Misty wanted to say, however, all that emerged with a shallow shriek as the boards from beneath her drew apart, leaving her standing on a crumbling raft. Pikachu's thunderbolt, as useful as it was for eliminating goons, had torn the raft asunder! They were standing on a platform that, in a matter of moments, would be nothing more than a few drifting logs.
Molly reacted first. She summoned her Kingdra, and hopped onto its back, holding onto its neck for dear life. Pikachu hopped on Ash's shoulder, fearful once more as Misty grabbed Ash by the wrist, tugging him toward her as she leapt onto her Gyarados's welcoming head, pressing him against the moist surface as the great serpentine beast surged through the water, waves flying into the air in the two water Pokemon's wake. The world flew around their eyes as the seconds passed. She had no idea where to go. Those two had been their only guides. Now they were stranded in the water! For someone who had believed herself to be intelligent, to be so damn smart, she sure was stupid when she thought of it.
She had just stranded them!
"Hey, what's that in the distance?" Ash shrieked in fear.
Misty looked out before them. There, many hundreds of meters away, was an island. There it was! Perhaps Jessie and James had brought them close enough to New Island to reach it! A grin on her lips, she leaned forward, the hurricane winds pushing against her running through her long strands of hair as she shouted, a smile on her lips, "Full speed ahead, Gyarados! Let's get to New Island."
Pikachu cried at this.
After several minutes of surging through the water, they made it on the shores of New Island. Misty recalled Gyarados to its ball before the three trainers, and Pikachu, stared up at the structure before them. A grand stair case lead up to a massive castle stretching up into the clouds. The austere structure, possibly powered by a broad windmill, was austere in structure, the walls plain yet incredibly foreboding. There was a sense of cruelty about the place, as though something here was inherently wrong and improper about this area, and yet another feeling prevailed in Misty's mind.
Had she been here before?
"Hey, Misty, does this castle look familiar?" Ash asked.
"Yeah, but I can't say from where. Do you remember something?"
"I don't like this place," Molly mumbled, "Let's—"
"Who is that?"
The three glanced up at this, and, on neutral reflex, hid. They knew not who it was, nor did they understand just what was going on. They simply knew one simple thing: they did not want the speaker to see them. That was one thing they could not allow, no matter what. There was something wrong about that voice, something cruel and foul. Something wicked. Something downright evil.
And, sure enough, a Rocket Grunt emerged from the stairway, a flashlight in hand. Misty drew back, hoping the rays did not shine upon her. The man took a few steps closer, glancing to and fro, searching for that voice he had heard, searching for the speaker a mere ten meters away, right around the corner he stood at. A simple turn, a simple glance, and the trio would be doomed, swarmed from all angles by enemies, potentially beaten, potentially tormented, potentially killed.
But nothing happened.
"Dammit. I'm on guard shift for an hour and already I'm hearing stuff. Dammit." The guard turned, shaking his head, clearly going off to question his sanity from that moment. That would have been the end of it, had Molly not withdrawn her Pokeball, silently releasing a Sneasel that dashed forward, quite as a falling leaf, silent as the dead person in the grave, and silent as the Rocket Grunt who tumbled into the ocean after the little Pokemon slashed across his head with its great claws
Silence is golden.
"Smooth," Misty whispered.
"I try. Sneasel, take out the rest of the guards," Molly whispered.
"You sure it's a good idea to do that?" Ash asked as Sneasel disappeared without a trace, a blur in the air, "Someone might notice all the guards are knocked out, and then what?"
"It's better than just walking in with the entire place seeing us," Misty replied, softly, "Besides, I don't think these guys are really going to look out for their friends, do you?"
"I guess not. Even so, couldn't we just—"
"Is that a Sneasel?"
Dammit! That plan went over nicely!
"Pikachu! Blow a hole through the wall so we can get out of here!" Ash whispered as Pikachu shot electricity into the wall behind them, debris flying in all directions. Misty glared at the idiot. Great way to conceal your presence! Why didn't they just get a megaphone and shout out the exact location they were standing, along with their social security numbers and pants size? Oh yeah, great idea! Blow a hole through the wall so the enemy could follow them!
The sound of Sneasel shrieking in pain filled the air, but so did the sound of splashes following the sounds of humans screaming out in pain. Regardless, the sound of sirens filled the air, swarming around them, enveloping the very air they breathed as the trio darted through the hole as Pikachu fired bolt after bolt into the hole, expanding it wider as debris flew behind them. Misty continued to choke on dust as the sound of a Sneasel coughing filled her ear. Molly's Pokemon had returned, its claws bloody, covered in injuries itself, but for the most part alright.
The sound of footsteps rang behind them.
"Pikachu! Blow those guys away! Thunder the walls so we can seal 'em off!" Ash shouted as Pikachu did as he was told. The bolts of energy bursting from Pikachu's cheeks collided with the walls behind them. In a sudden burst, rocks tumbled down, and the sound of screams filled the air for an instant, before all was muffled behind the rubble. At least, it would have been had the roar of the ceiling continuously tumbling behind them not filled the air.
"Oh! Great idea! Blow the ceiling up so we get caught in the cave in too!" Misty stammered while running behind the others, Pikachu rapidly tearing apart the rock in front of them with bolts of energy.
"How was I supposed to know it wouldn't stop?" Ash stammered.
"It's basic physics! Even I knew that!" Molly stammered.
"Then why didn't you say anything!" Ash stammered.
"Because you did it before I could!"
Finally, light broke through before them as the trio and Pikachu tumbled forward, the floors tumbling down behind them as the ceiling fell through. The trio gasped for air as they took a second to appreciate just where they had landed. Before them were dozens of test tubes filled with undeveloped fetuses, strange creatures that could barely be called Pokemon, yet indirectly resembled them. Their eyelids were not formed, or their limbs were still only tiny twigs, or perhaps they had the likeness of their full form but had yet to truly grow to the appropriate size or proportion. Before each green cylinder, however, stood dozens of scientists, each one formerly observing the scientific environment before their little interruption. Now, naturally, all eyes were on the newcomers, the ones standing before them, the one who had emerged from the fractured wall, where the sound of screams still rang out through the air. There was a silence in the room, despite the pandemonium outside of the chamber. Each second passed like a millennia before Ash took a step back, a shaky smile on his lips.
"Uh, hi?" Ash stammered, sweat forming on his brow.
"What in the he—oh, it's you again!" From the back of the room emerged two familiar faces. There they stood, Team Rocket elite: Butch and Cassidy. The latter stood in the forefront, hands in the pockets of a lap coat that rested over her Team Rocket uniform, a look of livid fury on her face. Behind her Butch stood, his fists clenched, his chest puffed out importantly, as he glared at the intruders, a look of hatred on his face.
"Not more of them," Molly grumbled, Sneasel behind her, claws bared.
"Boys, you know what to do," Cassidy replied, snapping her fingers. At once, the multitude of Rockets in the room converged upon them, throwing a volley of Pokeballs. From their depths emerged a great light. Before Ash and the others could even grab their Pokemon, a legion of vines emerged around them, wrapping themselves around their limbs, holding them against the cracked walls in the shape of crosses. An army of Bulbasaurs stood before them, each one with a livid expression on their faces.
"Whaddya—?" Ash stammered, his throat squeezed by the vines. Misty wouldn't have been able to even utter that much; the vines were squeezing down on her windpipe, making it harder and harder to breath.
"I'm surprised outsiders like you even knew about New Island," Cassidy chuckled, taking a few steps forward, hands still in her pockets, "But I suppose I'm used to surprises nowadays. Well, I suppose you found our Pokemon cloning site, not like it'll do you much good anyway. It is, after all, only one of multiple locations."
"Cloning sight?" Molly stammered.
"Multiple?" Misty croaked.
"Yup!" Cassidy laughed, "We have sights like this all over the Kanto region. It's all part of our job, but we can't tell you—"
"PIKACHUUUU~~~UUUU!" The roar of the rodent surged through the air as a torrent of energy filled each vine, traveling to the helpless Bulbasaur attached. The Pokemon were thrown backward, against their masters, who were thrown against the testing tubes, the glass shattering behind them helplessly as embryonic fluid spilled onto the floor. Cassidy and the others were distracted for but a minute as Pikachu shot volts into the other Bulbasaur, his body exhausted as Misty found herself able to breath, and able to reach for her Poke Balls.
"Staryu! Rapid Spin!" Misty shouted, summoning her star shaped Pokemon as it spun through the air, spiraling around the Bulbasaur, lifting them off the ground from the momentum surrounding the creature before throwing them through the multiple test tubes, a trail of fluid following them as the embryos and fetuses tumbled helplessly onto the ground, drying up in an instant.
"Damn it! No!" Cassidy stammered, rising to her feet as the trio darted away, toward the first exit they could see: a door on the opposite end of the room. Many of the thugs tried to move, only to slip on the fluid over the ground, falling flat on their faces into the wet juices.
Once behind the threshold of the lab, they turned to their left to find, to their horror, the entire half of the hallway had fallen upon itself, blocking itself off. Evidentially, Pikachu's custom tunnel had done a lot more damage than they had previously imagined. She had to hand it to the mouse for really ruining a Team Rocket base. However, there was no time for that. They turned the opposite way, toward the right, and ran down the hall, the ground wet and spongy. Adrenaline was pumping through every vein, every fiber of her being.
It was almost fun.
The sounds of Rocket grunts filled the air behind them as hasty footsteps rang through the hallway, razor leaves flying off against the walls, scrapping the sides harmlessly as the projectiles helplessly passed them by. One drew close enough to Ash's cheek to draw blood, but it was barely even a flesh wound and the blood was so little that even Molly wasn't grossed out by it. Finally, they found a ladder, which they hastily pulled themselves up, the sounds of screaming drawing closer with every slow step taken up the ladder. Why was it that people on ground could move faster than someone on a ladder, especially three humans, a Pikachu, and a Sneasel stuffed onto the same ladder (Staryu flew up)?
After progressing up the structure, Staryu shot down the ladder, tearing the rungs apart before firing a Hydro Pump into the oncoming torrents of Rocket Grunts, throwing them all against one another and the ground, just to be safe. Staryu rejoined its mistress as Misty and the others darted down the hallway before them, away from the oncoming Rocket grunts, and into, to the trio's surprise, a dinning room completely devoid of people.
"Do you guys feel déjà vu?" Ash asked, glancing around hastily for an escape, only to find, to all their surprise, a stadium outside a glass threshold.
"A little, yeah," Misty replied, darting forward, hoping beyond hope Gyarados could soften the inevitable fall if they leapt over the stands into the sea she heard lapping the cliff behind the stadium.
As the trio moved toward the stands, a great force flew past them. Ash barely pulled out in time as a powerful Primeape slammed against the stadium floor, the very material of the stands shattering under the force of the impact, the dust soaring into the air as the mammalian glanced over, a glint of fury in its eyes. Misty drew back as Staryu dove protectively before her, stretching out its arms as, to Misty's horror, her belt radiated with energy as a yellow Psyduck emerged before her, hands on its head in confusion.
As though she wasn't having enough problems.
There, in the threshold, were Butch and Cassidy, behind them a dozen guards, Poke Balls in hand, a fearsome expression in their eyes. Butch had a triumphant glint in his eye as, extending his hand before him, he shouted, at the top of his lungs, "Primeape! Blow 'em away!" The Primeape, at the sound of that order, leapt forward, slamming his fist into Staryu's core, throwing it backward. However, the little Pokemon caught itself, but not before Butch's Primeape slammed a kick straight into its core, rapidly punching it down into the Earth after the poor creature doubled over from the kick.
"Houndour! Flamethrower!" Cassidy shouted, summoning the onyx Pokemon as it leapt forward, flames in its mouth. Ash and his partner drew back as a jet of fire flew straight for them. However, from the nearest tip of Staryu's five pointed form exploded a jet of water that flew through the flames, straight into Houndour's throat, throwing it backward through the glass behind them.
Pikachu's thunderbolt hit Primeape in the meantime.
That didn't keep Staryu from fainting from his injuries.
"Staryu, return!" Misty snapped, hastily, "Go, Corso—"
"Psyduck?" Psyduck interrupted his own trainer, looking up at her with pleading eyes.
"Get lost!" snapped Misty, "If I needed a headache, I woulda called you out!"
"Sneasel, get the grunts," Molly snapped, the jet black Pokemon lunging forward to attack the Rocket grunts, claws bared. Before the grunts could even draw a Pokeball, the creature was upon them, slashing across the air, drawing blood with each passing second, the Pokeballs thrown out of their hands and against the floors, stands, glass, helplessly. Cassidy turned around, hastily, and withdrew a single ball. Just as Sneasel drew his great claws back to slash it aside, Butch moved in, releasing a Hitmontop! With a flurry of kicks, Sneasel was thrown to the ground, Cassidy's own Sabeleye freed from the depths of its own ball.
"Shadow ball!" Cassidy shouted, demanding the Sabeleye to draw its hands toward its core, a sphere of darkness swirling around its own hands. Before anyone could respond, the sphere collided into the stunned Sneasel, blowing it into the air, darkness swirling around it in a violent tornado. The Sneasel screamed in pain for an instant before being thrown into the air, only to land at Molly's feet, broken and defeated, twitching weakly in pain.
"Any other tricks?" Cassidy asked as the Rocket Grunts reached for their fallen Pokeballs, their hands bloody.
"I have one!" Ash snapped, withdrawing a single ball, "Go Tauros! Rough these guys up just like you roughed me up with that stupid ride through the forest!"
Indeed, the great bull did just that. It darted toward the enemy lines, horns drawn. Before the Grunts could attack, they fled, fled like cowards into the threshold as the Tauros darted after them, the very ground shuttering at the sound of its hooves slamming against the ground as though a field full of Tauros were stampeding down the dining area. All the grunts fled, that is, except for Butch and Cassidy. They glared out at the invaders, a look of loathing on their faces, as Sabeleye and Hitmontop were joined by, after a flash of light, Mighteyana and Raticate. The quartet of Pokemon glared at the trio before them, Pikachu standing protectively before Ash with Psyduck at his side.
"Snea…" Sneasel moaned, weakly, before Molly returned him to his ball. A glint of fury in the young girl's eyes, she threw the Pokeball from her hip out before her, summoning her Ursuring to battle, the bear roaring with the might of a thousand atomic bombs out through the air, slashing through the air as it darted toward Sabeleye. The specter drew back, a black aura surrounding its body as the energy condensed into a sphere.
Had Psyduck not darted between Ursuring and Sabeleye, the attack would have blown the great bear's skull through the stands as what happened with Psyduck. But rather the yellow bird took the hit, and Ursuring evaded the attack, drawing his claws back, only for Hitmontop and Mighteyana to tackle the bear, holding him down as the former kicked him rapidly, spinning through the air like a top tipped 90 degrees, while the latter clawed and tore at his flesh. Sabeleye loomed over the three, another Shadow Ball forming within its hands, its diamond-like eyes glinting in glee.
Psyduck rose from the rubble, its eyes glowing great azure, a mighty aura surging around its body, raging like the sea caught in a typhoon. Had Cassidy and Butch noticed the little critter emerging from its crater, maybe they could have saved Sabeleye when a great arrow of psychic energy radiated outward, surging through the air, slamming into the ghost, throwing it through the air, into the stands, as a great explosion of psychic energy radiated everywhere. Maybe, had they been able to save Sabeleye, they could have avoided Ursuring throwing both Mighteyana and Hitmontop off of him, only for the great bear to crush Mighteyana under his own weight and for a second burst of psychic energy to throw Hitmontop through the air, straight into Butch, throwing the poor criminal into the kitchen, straight through the table, and into a wall.
But they didn't regard the pathetic bird as anything more than a joke.
"Butch!" Cassidy stammered, turning to face the others, "Dammit! Raticate! Iron Fang!"
The Raticate leapt over the Ursuring and Psyduck. A jet of psychic energy flew out at the rodent of unusual size, only for the energy to pass harmlessly behind it. Misty watched as its prominent tooth radiated with pewter energy. Ash turned toward Pikachu, and shouted, "Iron Tail!"
That was enough for the little rodent. It kicked off the ground, sprinting toward the Raticate as its own tail glowed blazing white. It leapt into the air, toward the Raticate flying toward the trio like a comet from space. They were about to collide, soaring straight toward one another, as the rat extended his teeth, the fearsome might of the Raticate's mouth enough to pummel the yellow rodent. However, the agile Pikachu pressed its hands on the enemy's skull, pushing itself up into the air. As Raticate flew beneath the Pikachu, the latter hurdled over the other, shifting its weight in the process as his tail flew like a blurred hammer through the air, slamming straight into Raticate's ribs! The helpless enemy shrieked as it was thrown against the stands, rubble flying in all directions as the very stadium shuddered.
Ursuring rose to its feet, and roared over the fallen Mighteyana. Cassidy stared out in horror before her as Psyduck, Pikachu, and Ursuring drew nearer, flexing their claws. The girl lowered her head, her eyes filled with fury. "This isn't over! Alright, c'mon out—" Before she could even reach for her belt, a familiar grunt filled the air behind the girl. Before she could even turn to face her adversary, Tauros had already tacked her, throwing the helpless woman through the air, spinning against the glass before falling back down, bloody and broken. Before she could even rise to continue fighting, Ash had already recalled Tauros, as Misty had recalled Psyduck and Molly had recalled Ursuring. Before Cassidy could speak as she rose to her feet, her eyes bleary and her forehead bloody, the trio and Pikachu had darted up the stands, Misty had summoned Gyarados, and they were surfing through the air, the wind tearing around them as they hurdled passed the cliffs below, and collided with the surface of the water, flying into the ocean, salt filling their mouths.
A second passed before Ash stammered, the Gyarados dragging them away from the now burning New Island, "Let's not do that again."
With a smile on her lips, Misty said nothing. Nevertheless, as she thought about it all, what had just happened, she realized the strongest emotion she felt right now was nostalgia. They had done crazy stunts like that all the time, and now they did it again. How could she never want to do that which she had longed to do for years following the parting? Judging by Molly's trembling joints, that escapade had taken a lot of out of her. Her eyes were wide. Perhaps adrenaline had driven her forward before, but now as the situation settled in so did the realization that she could have died a million times back there, that she had just risked her life for a cause she didn't understand.
And that scared the poor girl.
However, it made Misty only smile.
"They didn't even let us finish the motto," Jessie moaned as she pulled herself onto shore.
"Ya think they'd maybe let us win for a change," Meowth moaned, shaking himself dry as he helped James pull himself up as well.
"Ah well, it wasn't like we expected that plan to work anyhow," James said, "We only did come up with it on the fly. I mean, if I didn't hear them say they wanted to guy to some island, we would have just pulled that same trick we did in Saffron City. It's a good thing I was wearing that voice recording thingy so you prepared for my arrival, even if all you did use was everything you found in the dumpster!"
"That was an oddly specific description," Meowth mumbled, "You sound like one of those exposition dumping people in a poorly written fan-fiction!"
"what's a fan—"
"Where are we?" Jessie interrupted, glancing around at the austere burning castle before them.
"I get the vibe we've been here before," James mumbled, "Looks like somewhere we'd be, what with the disaster and fire everywhere. It feels like my relationship with you, Jessie."
"Run away! Tauros!" The trio glanced up to see a dozen men jumping off the cliffs of the island into the sea, swimming away into the ocean, struggling to move with injured limbs and blood flowing freely from their bodies.
"Hey, Meowth, weren't there Sharpeedo in that water?" Jessie asked.
"Aren't they attracted to thrashing creatures that are weak and bleeding?"
"Wouldn't want to be in their shoes."
"What in the blazing hell are you three doing here?" Once again, the trio looked up to see two figures standing high above them, both ragged and bloody, but, for the most part, as intimidating as ever.
"Cassidy!" Jessie snapped.
"And Botch!" James snapped.
"It's Butch! Get it through that rock thick skull into that almond sized brain of yours!" snapped Butch, furiously punching the air only to reawaken his own injuries, his entire body clenching up in pain as he tumbled to his knees.
"So what's going on here? Another one of your little missions?" Jessie asked, "Where are we, anyway?"
"To answer your first question, yes, we've been trusted to be part of the biggest mission any Team Rocket official can ever hope to receive, which is a lot more than what you can say for yourselves."
"Why you little—"
"In regards to the second question, this is New Island."
"That's where the twerp wanted to go," James replied.
"The twer—you mean the brat with the Pikachu?" snapped Cassidy, her eyes widening in fury.
"That's right. Why? Did he come her and ruin your big important mission?" Jessie asked, never before more grateful that she had failed at capturing Pikachu. If she had, after all, the twerp and his friends wouldn't have been able to total this place and ruin Cassidy's reputation.
"Dammit! But it's alright. The plan isn't over just yet. We'll be reassigned to the other base."
"The New Island base has fallen."
Claude turned around at the sound of that voice. The sleek figure behind him stirred, his blue hair falling over his back and forehead with a dark glint. He walked closer, a leather jacket over his Team Rocket attire, his eyes malicious and cruel as they always were. He was always so placid about even the worst of news, delivering it as though it were a minor setback, a setback so minor he couldn't be troubled by the irritation of telling someone else about it.
Claude, however, had much riding on this plan.
"How do you know that?" Claude stammered, his skin moist, already knowing the answer before his partner ever opened his mouth.
"I'm psychic. I know. Just like how I know Lt. Surge just murdered forty-five Team Rocket grunts guarding the Celadon base. I also know that Sabrina knows where our other two bases are. However, I also know how to stop them all." He said this last statement with a glint of glee in his mouth, with euphoria and pleasure soaking through every pore.
"Do you now?" Claude chuckled, a nervous tone in his words, "Okay then, I trust you completely, Frollo. Do not fail me."
Ah, Reunion. =3 Already read this at ff. net and thus, knows how it ends- muhahahahah! and loved it. Really, really really did. =3 And not just because Sabrina's in it, though that's the reason I found the fic in the first place.
Interesting, realistic characterisation for all characters (I hated Nathanael with a passion and I'm not ashamed to mention that I liked Frollo for the first chapters he appeared in- I have a very weak spot for all psychics....), though it ended up being a bit too bloody for my likings...
The Time goes by Here's my Key Philosophy And take your Time
So naturally A Freak like me To trust in me
While you'll receive Just needs And you'll find
Lyrics from:Guru Josh Project:Infinity 2008
...Do we have a phantom one-star reviewer? =/ I hate it when that happens. People who do that intentionally without leaving a review have no balls, seriously.
Tangent aside, welcome. Since you've asked for a critical review, I'm probably going to be a little harsh and thorough here. (And that's a bit of an understatement.) Apologies in advance if I go a bit overboard.
Not to mention AAML isn't usually my cuppa, but hey.
The problem with this is mostly because it's an attack description. Keeping things concise means your writing gets punchier, harsher, and quicker, which conveys the same kind of tone to the battle as a whole, if that makes sense. In other words, if you can communicate by keeping only the absolutely necessary images in a single sentence, your battle ends up being more exciting because your readers' attention stops wandering thanks to long, overdrawn lines.
Also, if you have to come up with an adjective for "water" because you already used it in a sentence, chances are, you really should stop somewhere before that point. Especially if you're using its chemical formula in lieu of anything else. (I mean, you start off with a flowery description of what a Hyper Beam looks like, and all of a sudden, we see a harsh scientific name. It just doesn't meld well together.)
Also, horror usually isn't unrelenting. (Unrelenting means "rigidly," "relentlessly," "cruelly," that kind of thing. While you could stretch the word and say that it could apply to horror, it usually doesn't because it implies something a little meaner.)
At this point, I'm going to stop pointing out the sentences that I thought were incredibly wordy. There's a lot of them, and to be completely blunt, it tends to soften the moment more than it really should. As in, the longer your sentences go on, the harder it is to focus on what's going on. Likewise, as I've said earlier, shorter, more concise sentences convey a straightforward, to-the-point kind of tone. I've already said that this tone is good for battles because it preserves the suspense, but it's good in general because the less you say in a sentence, the more you can preserve any tone. The reason why is because the reader's mind isn't wandering thanks to sentences that go on forever, so they're completely focused on the idea that you're trying to convey to them.
See, the singular is "Chansey." Notice how there's a vowel in front of the Y? This dictates that the word only needs an S at the end in its plural form because you don't want to change more than one letter when it comes to pluralizing Y words. Or, in shorter terms, think of it like monkey and monkeys.
Now, why do I want to talk about them? Because you use them. A lot. What's wrong with that? Same thing that's wrong with writing long sentences.
See, every bit of language is like sugar. With the right amount, you can sweeten up what might be a tasteless pile of flour and eggs. Use too little, and the people tasting it will say it's boring. Use too much, however, and the people tasting it will be turned off your cooking for awhile. My point here is that parentheticals are good to use sparingly. You can convey a statement if you want to make it feel abrupt – like it needs to be attached to something. However, doing it too many times in a single sentence (read: more than once) causes the whole thing to gain a jerky, disjointed feel. It just feels like there's more side notes than actual content in the sentence, which is something you want to avoid.
Or, in other words, sugar is a very difficult thing to learn how to use, but if it helps, read the sentence aloud as you proofread it. If your own attention starts to wander or if it doesn't quite sound right thanks to all the hanging clauses, chances are, you'll want to change it.
No, I mean that seriously. See, one of the reasons why AAML isn't usually my thing is because, well, a lot of people like to mess with what little characterization the cast has. I'm not saying that you definitely are. I'm just saying that this is a reason why I'm probably going to be more critical than usual and ask you a bunch of questions about why characters are doing things that don't seem to match up with what they do in canon. A lot of people think that the anime characters don't really have personalities, but that's actually not entirely true. There's things that they do here and there that suggest certain personality traits; it's just up to a fanfiction author to put those clues together and come up with a bigger picture.
Not to mention it feels out-of-place as it is. You don't want to stop an entire sentence for the sake of sharing a bit of information. Instead, try to integrate facts into the story. For example, instead of saying her name is Jean in its own parenthetical, try having Misty address her by name.
In that case, a better way of saying this might be something to the effect of, "It just didn't make sense to her to assume that hat could fit on anyone else's head." Of course, play around with it to find the best way to phrase things, but you'll want to capture the fact that she's not using raw intellect to come to this conclusion.
Basically, what you're doing when you create sentences like these is you end up with a comma splice, which is a type of run-on sentence wherein you try to merge two independent clauses (phrases that could stand alone as sentences) into one improperly – as in, by just using a comma. It's not just awkward grammar, really. It also tends to change the way the sentence is read: rather than indicate that there's a hard separation between the statement and the question, you have the two run together. Think of it a little like two flavors of ice cream. They might taste great if there's a definite separation between the two, but if you let them soften up and run together, you get something different and not quite as effective.
So, yeah. Comma splices. Try to avoid them.
Also, while you're editing this phrase, you'll want to insert a period where the last comma is. The reason why is take a look at the word right after this quote. Notice how it's capitalized? That's your signal that you need to put a period there because the sentence has already ended. See, it's a bit awkward, but dialogue tags (the part outside of the quote) only get commas surrounding them if the quote is incomplete. For example, if you said this:
"Well," he said, "scratch that."
That would be kosher because you're interrupting a sentence to throw in the dialogue tag. In this case, however, you're not interrupting a sentence, so because you're not signaling that one of the sentences has ended (because, if you notice, the part before this tag didn't get a period, what you're actually saying is this:
Well, it's just that, well, you're a great trainer, Well, scratch that, a phenomenal trainer.
It's a bit confusing, but the short form is that unless you're interrupting a sentence (or unless the dialogue that the tag is associated with comes after it), the dialogue tag gets a period.
That's why I feel a little uncomfortable with this plot so far. If anything, the League should probably pat Misty on the back for doing her job, given the fact that it's a gym leader's duty to test trainers to their utmost limits. They do this by using any legal means in a battle to prevent the trainer from getting their badge. If the gym leader proves to be an excellent trainer, then it's the challenger's job to go and train until they're worthy enough to come back and try again. Sure, this sort of means the League shrugs off instances where trainers get a thrashing from a gym leader, but then again, considering you're working with anime canon, that's pretty much what they usually do anyway.
Not to mention the fact that there's apparently more than eight gyms in Kanto's Pokémon League, so if challengers get thrashed by Misty, they could always try another gym. Beyond that, there's no set order for the gym circuit, so trainers don't necessarily have to go to Cerulean City for their second badge. Ash and the game trainers just do because Cerulean City would be the second place with an open gym that can be easily accessed from Pallet Town.
In other words, the entire business about league participation being down 42% just because of Misty just doesn't quite sit well with me. Misty's just one gym leader, after all, and all trainers have a whole range of different options open to them besides just getting constantly thrashed by her.
Second, you'll want to avoid using exclamation points in your narration. It's just not a good practice because you want the narrator to come off as an entity removed from the thoughts of the characters. Sure, the narrator sets the tone (and is completely free to ask questions), but you don't want them to get excited about events because it risks portraying them as unreliable.
Second, be careful about homophones. The word that refers to hitting something is "rapped." "Wrapped" means he covered it with his knuckles, which evokes very strange mental images.
Also, it does seem strange that Ash's mother has so many pictures of Misty. After all, Ash has had a lot of companions. Brock and Tracey, for example, who are noteworthy in that Brock came to live with Mrs. Ketchum for awhile (after the whole Ivy incident) and that Tracey is the assistant to Delia's closest companion. Then, there's May, who got along pretty well with Delia, and Dawn (who she admittedly never really got to know, but still). Of course, Ash may just be focused on only Misty, but then again, it's not like May and Dawn aren't significant to him, either. (He even fried their bikes as well.)
That's another thing that AAML authors tend to do that makes me uncomfortable. Ash has had a lot of companions, and a number of those were female. Yet, not a lot of authors take the time to address those companions and his relationship to them. (Those that do tend to ignore characterization for the romance, but I'll put off ranting about that for now.) Don't forget that if you're working with canon characters, the best thing to do is to address canon. As in, don't ignore canon for the sake of the plot or romantic elements. Rather, work with canon. Try to get your writing to a point where you can bridge a gap between your work and canon. Think about canon while you play with the characters so that some element of what the creators put out for each character answers the question of why they act the way they do. For example, why is Ash focused on Misty only instead of his other friends? Perhaps have him act friendly towards Pikachu until something significant happens that forces his attention to center on Misty. (Significant meaning something major that would hone his sights down to her. I mean, chances are, Delia doesn't have pictures of just Misty, and given the fact that Ash has strong ties to all of his companions, it just doesn't sit right to have him ignore their pictures completely and pay attention to only one.)
Alternatively, use canon as a springboard for building backstory. As in, answer the question of where Ash was these past few years and why Misty would be at the front of his mind as a result. Did something happen between the other characters and Ash that would have driven him closer to Misty instead of them? Has he been hearing stories about how she's getting stronger and stronger? Has he recently been through Cerulean City? Misty's focus I can understand because he was the last significant traveling partner she's had, but Ash is a bit harder because he travels with so many people that he cares about that you'll have to figure out how to get him to focus on only one, basically.
Or, in other words, canon. Sure, it might seem like it's not well-established, but Ash still got some semblance of a personality. As a fanfiction writer, you're slightly restricted in that in order for everyone to swallow your story (instead of just AAML fans who only look for the romance parts anyway), you'll need to make the characters and the backstory recognizable, and to do that, you need to look at canon and combine it with your story so that the fic responds to some of the things that happened in the anime in ways that make sense.
Now, don't get me wrong by the fact that I pointed out a lot in the above. The premise sounds like it could be interesting. I mean, basically, the story starts off looking like a "gym leader nearly gets kicked out of the League and then gets tangled in love as they struggle to figure out how to save their gym" kind of story, and that's a plotline that could seriously be interesting if done right. Not to mention that, hey, even if I have a lot of beef with the average AAML fic, I like the idea of the pairing.
The problem is mostly in the execution.
To start things off, grammar. You've got a lot of problems with commas that you'll want to look into, and the best way to straighten yourself out there is just to know the rules. Sorry that's not a bit of helpful advice, but commas are obnoxious to get used to because there's a lot of rules involved with using them and because they're the most prevalent mark of punctuation in essentially any written work except maybe poetry. In any case, this just means that everyone trips up on them now and then, and there's really no easy way to explain how to use them. (There's the period test I mentioned earlier, but really, the best way to figure out how to avoid screwing up with them is just to find a guide online, sit down, and memorize the rules.)
Also, as you've probably noticed earlier, there's a couple of instances where you might have avoided an error or a misspelled word if you were careful with the proofreading stage. Given the fact that this is otherwise very readable (as in, besides the commas and the next problem I'll go into, it looks like you get the basics), all I can say is you've got to be careful when you go back over your work. Get a beta if you have to. (Tip: Do not use the beta reader search on FFNet to find someone to work with you, for the love of all things good and holy. Nine times out of ten, the people who say they're good with grammar can't spell their way out of a paper bag.)
Finally in the mechanics department, wordiness. Like I said earlier, there's a lot of places in this fic – especially in the beginning – where you try to get a sentence to do more than it really should. Remember that you shouldn't rely on dependent clauses (the kind attached to sentences with commas, at least) to describe what's going on and that it's okay to split things into multiple sentences. The wordier you get, the more you lose track of what you were trying to say and/or the more your reader forgets that there was a point in that entire shebang. The trick to writing is simply to find a way to be concise without being dry, which is perfectly and completely possible. If it helps, figure out what the core meaning of your sentence is and only include phrases that relate to it, rather than some outlying object. For example, if the core point to your sentence is describing a Hyper Beam, don't slide into a description of the Houndoom reacting to pain because that, at its heart, doesn't describe the Hyper Beam itself.
Now, for the plot and characterization department. It feels a lot like you're wandering away from canon without a solid explanation, sorry to say. For example, Ash completely forgets that Pikachu is seriously injured (to the point where it can barely drag itself into the Ketchum household), and when he's reminded, he just blows Pikachu off in favor of focusing on eating and thinking about Misty. (He doesn't even acknowledge anyone else who might be in the pictures his mother is keeping.) Now, considering the fact that this is the same Ash Ketchum who once dove off a cliff to save Pikachu, dumped all his Pokémon before hitting every region except Pikachu, risked his life on multiple occasions to rescue Pikachu from Pokémon thieves (Team Rocket, Hunter J, et cetera), and a bunch of other things I can't remember off the top of my head, it just doesn't really make sense that he'd put mooning over Misty before taking care of Pikachu.
Beyond that, it's not mentioned how old Ash is, so I'm going to assume it's a few years after canon. So, I can understand that he's now mature enough to hold a relationship. What I don't quite understand is why Misty? This is a question a lot of AAML writers don't really answer because they just figure that Ash would eventually go back to liking Misty after all those years. Yet, they don't really take into account that Ash moves on pretty easily. He's had a lot of companions and met a lot of characters, some of whom he's forged pretty close relationships with as well. To start things off, there's Angie (who's close to his personality), May, Dawn, Melody (first kiss), Latias... and if you don't mind homosexual relationships, you've got Paul (who "speaks" to Ash in a language Ash can really understand: battling), Barry, Brock, Tracey (if you really stretch the imagination), Gary (who became close to Ash after the Johto League), and several others. And in the new season, Ash gets Dento and Iris. The point is there's a lot more people in Ash's life than just Misty, and although they were good friends, there's really no reason to assume that Ash will have as strong of a crush on Misty years down the line, especially since he was just a kid when she left. Emotions towards people are liquid things: they change over time, especially if two people aren't in contact with each other that much anymore. Just think of how you feel about your first crush, after all. Unfortunately, there's a lot of stories that don't take this into account and just have Ash constantly think about Misty instead of, say, battling, his Pokémon, or his other companions. Also unfortunately, to build a believable (and likeable – as in, someone who wouldn't just blow off Pikachu) Ash, you'll need to avoid being like those other stories and think about Ash's relationships with Pokémon and other people. Think about his priorities and work from there. Instead of having him naturally think about Misty constantly, what about having him not think about her until there's a situation where he's forced to think about her? You've already set up a potential situation with her gym, and it'd be more in-character for Ash to go out of his way to help a friend instead of just help her because he secretly only thinks about her. Perhaps go from that angle?
Speaking of which, the gym. I've already gone into a lot of detail about why the League might not actually care that Misty is that strong, but I'd just like to emphasize the "it'd be like putting out a fire after half the house is consumed" part. Like I said, Sabrina curb-stomps trainers. Lt. Surge literally puts them in the hospital. Giovanni used a flipping Mewtwo without thinking twice about it. And this was all just before Ash challenged each of them. Considering the fact that time has elapsed since the first season, it just doesn't make sense that the League would be doing something about it right then, years down the line. Admittedly, I haven't read much further than the first chapter, so I don't know if this is just because of a change in management. If it's not... then yeah. It might not sit completely well as a plot unless you find a good reason why the rules suddenly changed and why Misty is getting the boot so soon compared to her fellow gym leaders.
Not to mention, as I've said, there's also the part about how Misty single-handedly brought down the participation rates of the League's annual competition. You'll probably want to figure out how this happened, considering there's more than eight gyms in the Kanto circuit (and you can thank Gary Oak for bringing that up) and considering the fact that there's no set order to how a trainer should take them down.
In all, I'm going to have to pause here and be frank with you. It's a decent read. Don't get me wrong about that. It's just missing those stones in the foundation that would make it a solid story. Right now, it reads like a lot of other AAML fics that just seem to exist only to make Ash and Misty angst about each other, but because you want to work with such a fresh plot, you'll want to be wary of the pitfalls other AAML writers fall into. All of them can be summed up with one word, and that word is "canon."
Shortly put, it's okay, but it needs a bit of polishing and a lot of attention to canon details to be particularly good.
Psychic*Absol - lol, glad you enjoyed it! Truthfully, when writing both Nathanael and Frollo, I intentionally wanted them to appear, at first, like really cool, perhaps even, to an extent, affably evil characters who the reader would feel betrayed by when they revealed their true colors. Nathanael was an ******* to the highest degree, and Frollo was that sort of sociopath no one wants to see succeed, but, in the end, kinda likes despite his cruelty. And then we have...all the stuff that happens later, and you feel repulsed by him. I tried to do the opposite with Claude, making him unsympathetic and then sympathetic...but he left a lot less impact on readers, it seemed...
Too bloody, huh?
JX Valentine - Seriously, this is the type of review I was most looking forward for by posting it here. Critical, yes, but thorough. As one writer to clearly another, thanks for putting in all that detail. And, seeing as how you put so much effort into posting your critique, I feel it's a little unfair if I don't give you an almost equally long one in return.
Now, to acknowledge your points, yes, the sentences do get a little wordy at times, and, for the most part, I understand exactly what you're saying. However, there are a few points I need to argue.
At a few points, you're stating that what I say borders on narm. All those instances were entirely intentional. I was hoping to make the reader smirk a little despite what was clearly a melancholy scene just to lighten the mood a bit.
In regards, however, to implying a narrator was unreliable...I don't like writing reliable narrators. It's too cut-and-paste, really.
In regards to my story ignoring canon, quite frankly, I believe that I stayed pretty close to what the canon featured. Yes, I do imply that Ash did still harbor feelings for Misty over all this time, but, as you'll see if you continue the fic, he neither is head-over-heals for her now all too nuts about her. Misty is a bit more focused, and I find it amusing how you didn't complain about her being too OOC. However, the entire time Ash is with Misty later on, more often than not I focus on how Misty wants Ash, and how Ash feels subtle twinges of desire here and there for Misty but nothing more or less. This fic is 110,000+ words, and there is no reason to rush their relationship.
Additionally, this fic is an AAML fic, true, but it is also an adventure fic. Most fan-fics that are AAML are brief, so I can understand why you'd just assume this is how the entire fan-fic is like...truthfully, this is more the tip OF the tip of the iceberg. Read a little more, and I'm sure you'd see the fic changes tone drastically. More characters, old and original, are introduced, and Ash and Misty don't even come together until the third chapter, and their meeting certainly isn't obnoxiously lovey-dovey either. In fact, mild spoiler comin' up, Ash really seems to regard Misty as an old friend he realizes he has feelings for while Misty is more romantic but afraid to push things. Not to mention that Ash, as any human being, is not 100% focused on his love interest. That's just...boring...
Also, in regards to the whole Kanto League thing and there being more than eight gyms...I acknowledge all that later. In fact, the unnecessary nature of this plan is a central plot point, if not the plot altogether. A romantic story is good and all, but it can't carry a fast-paced 110,000+ word story...that's just painful...
Grammar? That's different. I can't rebuttal your points, and it's clear that you probably have taken several college courses on the subject of grammar while I've just entered it. However, I don't feel that the majority of the flaws truly destroy the fic's quality, though they do keep it from really being powerful, especially run-ons in action scenes. I understand your criticism, and completely agree with you on that one.
All and all, I recommend you finish the fic before commenting on the quality of the fic as a whole, but you gave a great report card on what an intelligent reader thinks after the first chapter, which is very important to me.
For your story, you're trying to create a pretty straightforward narrative. You're not actually trying to make the reader guess what is and isn't true to the story because that's not where your mystery is supposed to lie. As in, you're supposed to get the reader to ask what's going to happen to Misty and if she'll make it through that situation. You're not supposed to get them to ask whether or not the events that are taking place is what actually happened in the story.
Unfortunately, adding exclamation points in the narrative causes the narrator to seem biased towards a particular character, which means that the narrative becomes unstable. It causes the reader to second-guess the narrator: your audience can't quite tell if the narrator is exaggerating or if everything they say is true. As I've said above, for your kind of story, you'll want that straightforward narrative because forcing a reader to second-guess your narrator serves absolutely no purpose here and actually distracts them from the romantic plot you actually want them to focus on.
That and throwing in exclamation points makes it feel like the fic was written by a preteen, to be perfectly and probably overly blunt. It's just not good form in any case.
That being said, in this chapter, it does look like Ash is overly head-over-heels for her (and therefore OOC) because he'd rather think about her than his apparently injured and exhausted Pikachu. In fact, he's angsting a little bit about how long it's been since he's seen her, and he doesn't seem to notice anyone else's picture in the room except hers. (And, well, his.)
Unfortunately, that's... not really Ash. Ash's priority has been shown repeatedly in the anime to be Pikachu, and he's not the kind of person who would just shrug off every other companion and focus on only one. Sure, it's also been a few years (presumably), but his life centers around Pokémon. He wouldn't angst, he wouldn't ignore Pikachu, and so on and so forth.
Again, not to be blunt, but I'm just not particularly impressed. It's not like your fic's all that bad. In fact, it's better than a lot of other AAML fics I've read. It's just that what you need to understand is that if you want to get a reader to keep going (besides the average FFNet/AAML shipper faire, of course), you'll want to get your first chapter to shine and establish that what people are reading isn't going to be like those other fics where Ash and Misty aren't OOC and the entire fic isn't focused on their relationship. In order to do that, you'll need to show it as early as your first chapter, not tell me continually that your fic is going to defy the expectations that I've already gathered thanks to what you've opened with.
Sorry to be blunt, of course, but all I'm saying is that your first chapter establishes expectations. If you want to convince a reader that your fic isn't just going to be like everything else, you'll need to be careful with your first chapter and make an effort to give them the hint that you're not going in an expected direction because that's the first thing your audience will see. I'm not telling you to rush into the relationship. (If anything in that regard, I'm actually telling you to do the opposite.) All I'm saying, in general, is that if you don't want to make me think this fic is like a lot of other fics I've read, don't make your first chapter like the first chapter of a lot of other fics I've read.
Meanwhile, in response to this, it depends. A grammatical error can make it more difficult for a reader to push themselves through a chapter, particularly when it comes to run-on sentences. Likewise, the placement of a comma can potentially change the meaning of a sentence. (There is, for example, the classic sentence, "The panda eats shoots and leaves" versus "The panda eats, shoots and leaves.") While, yes, grammar isn't more important than word choice, it's still important to maintain the flow of a story, and it's expected of a writer -- any writer, even if they're doing it for fun -- to exert effort in the proofreading stage in order to polish each chapter to the best of their abilities.
But of course, I also never said that grammar destroys any story (although you have to admit that it's difficult to enjoy a fic if it looks like this). I'm just saying that it's in your best interest to make sure you go through that proofreading stage. The fewer errors in your fic when it comes to grammar, the more the grammar nazis can enjoy what you're trying to do. Especially when it comes to fixing up those run-ons.
As for your recommendation, the reason why I haven't read the rest of the fic yet (even though I could very well have) is because of exactly what I said above and because of the exact reason why I stopped to give you a review: to tell you that the first chapter is a first impression. Sure, it doesn't say everything you need to know about a story, and of course, a story's twists and turns very rarely happen as early as the first chapter. However, if you want to convince the reader to keep going, the worst thing you could do is give them the slightest impression that they've read this kind of thing already.
Once again, thanks for the response.
In any event, fair enough, the narm attempt didn't quite turn out correct. I will admit that, but I still have to disagree about the narrator part. Truthfully, this fic takes place form numerous different points of view, and each one has a slightly different interpretation of a given scene. If you were to look into the mind of a real human being, they'd interpret different events differently. Perhaps they aren't full-blown unreliable narrators, but they do put a spin on everything that is, in essence, unreliable. The reader is shown different perspectives on characters, and it's up to the reader to interpret the actual actions and each character's spin on it to truly determine what a character's real characteristics are. Once again, excitement does come into play. Even more so, I think using the exclamation point sparingly does not make a story of any sort look amateurish. Like all things, in minimal quantities, it is fine, but in excess? No.
In regards to all the comments about Ash being OOC, while I'm not sure I completely agree, I can at least understand WHERE some of the flaws came from. I am a huge fan of Pokemon from Kanto to Johto, but the later sagas felt very forced and very difficult. If anything, I felt that Ash's character arc skipped development and hurtled toward derailment. Yes, his essential goal remained intact, but there is a different between a goal and personality, and while Ash did possess personality, however watered down by this point it was, it wasn't as memorable to me as the Ash from Kanto to Johto, who I felt had a much more compelling character arch. Perhaps it was that nostalgia that made me write Ash differently.
Now, as for Ash angsting...really? I felt it was more like "Oh, wow, haven't seen HER in a while..." like nostalgia more than genuine depression. Now Misty is angsting more because her life is hollower without him, which you can probably see from the fic and me explaining it is redundant. I don't think I realized Ash sounded angsty...and even now I don't see it, but my perspective is tainted by being the writer, so thanks for bringing that to my attention.
In regards to Pikachu...I got nothing. That is a genuine mistake on my part.
But seriously, in regards to it sounding familiar, of course it does: it's an AAML fic. They all sound familiar if you're walking into it with the mindset that this is all a huge set-up to get Ash and Misty together. Ash is just stopping by his house, and visits Misty more out of a spontaneous urge than anything else. I think, and no offense here, your perspective is that the moment they unite together they're going to suddenly go into mushy lovey-dovey mushy stuff...and while you're wrong, once again, that is your perspective after the first chapter. You're very right: in comparison to the rest of the fan-fic, the first chapter is very weak. The later chapters are much stronger and all that, but this initial chapter served more just to hold your hand as the descent into the plot begins, and is actually the shortest chapter in the fan-fic. Still, all this is no excuse for an underwhelming first chapter, and all I can really do is encourage you to read the fic. I like how critical you are, as I rarely receive this level of critique.
I apologize about double posting, but here's the next chapter. BTW, if you wish to just go straight to the full story, here's the Fanfiction.net link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6090923/1/Reunion
"Will you stop saying sorry, you idiot!"
"Okay, I'm sor—er—"
As the black haired child seated to them but a few seats away had his head knocked into his knees after the fiery youth sitting beside him rammed her knuckles against the back of his head, Jessie and James could not help but stare. Sure, they had seen plenty of idiotic squabbles over the years, many of which occurred between them and the Rocket Elites seated a few chairs away, but nevertheless, never had they seen two Rocket Elites seated next to one another argue so damn much!
"You ever get the feeling that destiny just happens to put us together with the weirdest guys on the planet?" Meowth asked, bored.
"Yes, I think it all the time. I guess it's why I'm with you two," Jessie replied, equally as flat.
"Yeah, ag—HEY!" James stammered, staring back at Jessie with a look of horror across his face.
"It's not like it's a huge secret you're strange. You dress up in women's clothing all the time," Jessie replied, sighing, "I mean, seriously, why don't you ever offer to wear the male costume, anyway?"
"Because more often than not the stores you drag me to t' buy those stupid costumes only sell women's clothing!" James bellowed, an accusatory finger pointed Jessie.
"Yeah, well, I—" Jessie began, but was interrupted when an aluminum can flew through the air, slamming into the back of her skull. Jessie tettered forward, falling onto James's torso, the two of them colliding against the floor of the plane in a heap on the ground. The fiery Team Rocket member rose to her feet, only to see the scarlet haired girl seated a few seats away reach for another empty can of soda at the side of her arm, a smug little grin on her lips.
"What in the name of Arceus did you do that for!" James snapped, jumping to his feet.
"Well, you guys just wouldn't shut up," the girl replied, shrugging, only to chug a full can of soda, gulping loudly as the fluid flowed down her throat. As her head was tilted back to swallow the remaining drops in the bottom of the can, Jessie and James could see the dark haired boy, rather small and not very masculine looking at all, urgently gesturing towards them with a shaky grin, as though to warn them not to argue with her unless they wanted to be beaten up like he was.
The girl lowered the can, glancing over at Jessie, cocking her head slightly, shifting her eyes in an amused fashion. Jessie hated that look. It was as though that little brat thought she was so much better than her, so overwhelmingly superior! It was starting to piss her off more than usual! "Look, you little brat, didn't your parents ever tell you not to throw junk at people older and wiser than you?"
For a second, a look crossed the girl's eyes, only for her to smile yet again. "Nope. Sorry."
"Little brat!" Jessie lunged for the girl, only for James to restrain her, holding her back. James felt Jessie's firm rear end rub against his upper thigh, sending a rather sudden rush through his body. What an odd sensation. It was as though he were tipping over the edge of a cliff, the fear of falling down and down and never stopping (a sensation he was by now awfully familiar with thanks to them regularly being knocked into orbit before falling back down to Earth), integrated with a sensation of want, of joy.
Of course, after Jessie elbowed him in the solar plexus, this moment of joy died fast.
"Don't mess with those two, Jessie," chuckled Cassidy, who was looking out the window of their private little plane, "Those two happen to be some of Team Rocket's greatest soldiers: Shi and Ka."
"Shi and Ka? Soldiers? They aren't even ten yet!" Jessie snapped, in shock.
"Hey, I'm fourteen!" snapped the scarlet haired girl, "A lot younger than you, old hag!"
"What did you call me?" Jessie snapped, eyes narrowed.
"You heard me! Old hag!"
"Is she usually this confrontational?" James asked the boy as the two males slowly backed away from their vehement partners.
"Yes, but usually it's directed to me," the boy replied, sighing.
"By the way, out of curiosity, just so I don't call you 'that boy' or anything, are you Shi or Ka?" James asked, confused.
"I'm Shi, and she's Ka," the boy replied in his now familiar soft, high voice.
"Are you from Kanto too?" James asked, curiously.
"No, actually, we're from another place. Really far away," Shi replied, glancing off, his lips set in a frown.
"Oh, I see. Runaways?" James asked, the cacophony of insults growing louder as Jessie dragged the previously uninvolved Cassidy into the argument, the three women breaking out into an all-out insult brawl.
"Not exactly. Well, sort of," Shi replied, "We're sort of—well, it's kinda—it's sorta like—yeah."
"I don't follow," Meowth said, joining the conversation.
"It's hard to talk about, especially to someone like you," Shi replied, his voice soft and downcast.
"Well, we've heard stranger things before," James replied, shrugging.
"Well, ya see, the truth is—" There was a loud crack of thunder right outside the plane as Shi explained everything, making it impossible for James or Meowth to hear. "And I'm not lying."
"Uh, I didn't think you were, but could you perhaps repeat that? I didn't—"
A female voice interrupted both the conversation with Shi and the massive torrent of screams behind them. "We have arrived in Fuchsia City Base. Thank you for your patience. We will be unloading shortly." Resigned to never knowing the truth, James and Meowth joined Jessie and the others as the three teams entered the hidden Team Rocket base that was located in the mountains just beyond Fuchsia City's borders. Hidden in the mountains and cliffs, it was regarded by most as merely a research facility, and nothing more. The trio had heard of this place before, but doubted the boss would ever hold them in high enough regard to let them in.
Nor did he ever.
They just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
After the New Island Base was completely obliterated due to the fires raging out of control, the massive cave-ins that caused the building to fall upon itself, and all the scientific data demolished due to water damage, a Team Rocket plane came to salvage the survivors. How they knew the base was destroyed at that instant was still a mystery to Jessie, James, and Meowth. Did they have sensors telling them the moment the base went down? There were rumors of a psychic amongst the Team Rocket elite known as Frollo, so maybe he knew the base had fallen? Regardless, the how's and why's were truly irrelevant when one realized the grand picture.
They were in on an important Team Rocket mission!
"So that's the only reason you're here? Amateurs," sighed Ka as Cassidy rationalized why the "three bozos" were joining them.
"Amateur! I don't have to take that from a girl going through puberty!" Jessie snapped, only for James to hold her back once more, "Oh sure! You think you're so tough! How the hell did you get here, anyway?"
"Well, we were tracking an Entei," Ka replied, "Of course, as with any Rocket Elite, such a difficult job was really easy."
"So you caught an Entei?" Meowth asked, raising an eyebrow in surprise.
"Well, uh, it narrowly escaped," Ka replied.
"You mean you startled it when you jumped out to catch it," Shi mumbled under his breath.
"Idiot! Don't lie about it! It was all your fault for being too damn slow to keep it from running! I had a great plan, and you screwed up! You're such an idiot!"
"Stop saying that!" Ka snapped.
Eventually, they reached the austere research facility, that truly looked no different than your ordinary scientific building: plain white walls with the occasional window to let sunlight in, but beyond that, nothing truly visually appealing. Jessie and James both wondered whether or not they could add some spice to the place, make it look less like a boring office building and more like a modern evil lair!
However, upon walking into the building, they saw that outside appearances could be awfully deceiving. After passing through the rather attractive yet simplistic lobby, reached the elevator, and, and inserted a specific key Cassidy had in her pocket into a special slot by the call button, they reached an area that bore no resemblance to anything that had floated through any of the Rocket Trio's minds. The elevator had descended to the bottom-most basement, where test tubes covered the tables, where great cylinders filled with liquid lined the walls, each with what appeared to be partially formed fetuses floating around in the center of the juices. They were so primitive it was hard to determine just what they were, but it was clear they weren't human.
"This place looks a little creepy," Ka mumbled under her breath.
"So you haven't been here either?" Jessie mumbled, a smug grin on her lips, "So much for the big shot Rocket Elite crap."
"Hey! I just never needed to sink low enough to actually look at what the lower level members had to do," mumbled Ka, glancing snobbishly at the other workers as they toiled away on concepts that probably were more complicated than anything she had ever thought of. Then again, the complexity of their procedures probably were too complicated for any of them to understand, but Jessie didn't say that for obvious reasons.
"Ah, so you've finally arrived."
Jessie and James, along with Meowth, glanced up at the sound of that voice. There, standing before them, was a slender figure dressed in black leather that trailed behind him, drifting in the wind as he walked. His blue hair fell over part of his face, trailing down to his shoulders as he neared them. Something about the man sent a chill through the air, an uncomfortable vibe throughout the entire room. There was something rotten, cold, perhaps meticulous even.
"Commander Frollo, we've come to report the status of New Island Base with Commander Claude," Cassidy said, lowering her head courteously toward the superior Rocket officer.
"I know. I can see that much," Frollo chuckled.
James glanced at him, cocking his head in confusion before realization dawned upon him. Pointing a finger at the man, his jaw opened, he stammered, "Are you that—"
"Am I the psychic everyone keeps talking about? Yes, I am," Frollo replied, turning around, "Come this way, children. We have little time."
"Little time for what?" Shi asked, his brow sweaty in Frollo's presence.
"Soon the enemy will come to attack. I have raised the security of both this base and the base in Victory Road, for it's all but inevitable that Sabrina will attack both in the near future. I can sense she will."
"Sabrina?" Cassidy asked, "As in the Saffron City gym leader?"
"Yes," Frollo replied, "I can sense it."
"Why would she want to attack bases she shouldn't even know about?" Butch asked, his eyebrows raised in confusion.
"She plans on resisting an appeal made by one of our men inside the Indigo League Officials, a man who wants to destroy a couple of the gyms in order to raise attendance in the League. He argued that some gyms were too hard for trainers, and thus figured that, by eliminating them, he'd raise league attendance rates."
"Why'd he want to do that? Aren't there a lot of other gyms people could go to?" Meowth replied, frowning.
"Of course there are. However, by eliminating other gyms, his paycheck grows in size, and he's using that money to fund our research on cloning. We require his money to advance, you see."
"But you still didn't answer why Sabrina wants to destroy our labs," Ka asked, agitatedly, "What's she gonna get out of this?"
"We have data linking our man to Team Rocket, along with the money trail and plans," Frollo replied.
"Why don't you just delete that so she can't steal it?" James asked, "Wouldn't that be a whole lot easier than having to fight off angry gym leaders? Sabrina would sense you deleted them, and realize there's no reason to fight, right?"
"You don't understand! Those records are to be used to ensure that our man follows through with the promise. If he steps out of line, we'll simply go public with the records, and ruin his reputation. He's going to need to follow us if he wants to even hope to survive in the real world, and reach his own goals."
"Never you mind, Shi. It is not your business to know why our mole is aiding us when he could just continue living his cushy job at the league. After all, we all have hidden agendas, don't we?" Frollo asked, smirking down at the boy, whose brow grew sweatier still.
"What does Sabrina want with this, anyway?" Elle asked, staring at the hard drives in her hands.
"Who knows?" Lt. Surge replied, leaning tensely against the mouth to Cerulean Cave, his fists clenched tensely as the seconds passed, staring up at the moon high above them. "I didn't look at the data. She just said copy everything down, and don't look at it. I don't know ****."
"You know what I think?" Watson asked, glancing up at the others.
"Do I care?" Lt. Surge asked, tensely.
"I think this is some sort of black mail we can use against that bastard Nathanael, ya know?" Watson said, smirking, "Maybe he has ties with the Rockets. Think of that one?"
"Of course I did. Only thing is what sort of mud did we just dig up?" Lt. Surge mumbled, frowning, "Did we just happen to find something really juicy, or is this just another piece to a larger puzzle? And, more than that, why did Sabrina say leave no survivors?"
"Because I'd hate to have too many of those Rockets survive."
Lt. Surge jumped into the air as Sabrina appeared from the air itself, staring at the others with that same stoic expression on her face, those eyes that pierce through flesh and blood and see straight into the recesses of a man's soul. They were cold eyes, eyes dark and cruel. If any woman was capable of destroying Nathanael Butler, it was this cold broad, no contest. Lt. Surge grinned in spite of his shock. "I knew you'd have some reason. So what sort of data is this, anyway?"
Watson handed the data over to Sabrina, who smiled. She opened up the keyboard to the laptop hooked up to the hard drive, and rapidly punched keys. Her fingers danced across each of the buttons, a slight smile forming on her lips as the seconds passed. Finally, after a dozen or so minutes, she rose up, handed the laptop to Watson, and smirked. "This is useful, but the puzzle is not yet complete."
"What else do you want us to do?" Lt. Surge asked, eyes wide.
"I need you to come with me to Fuchsia. To my knowledge, the three we sent to New Island should be coming shortly there as well."
"What makes you so sure of that?" Lt. Surge asked.
"I'm guiding their Gyarados."
"I'm so bored," Ash groaned, leaning against the scale of the Gyarados's head, stretching his arms out lazily as the seconds passed. How long had they been on Gyarados's head? The moon was high above their heads, gazing down upon them as the seconds drawled on. His eyelids were heavy and he struggled to keep them awake. However, every time he did, the great beast's head would bob up, rousing him hastily from his slumber, knocking the back of his skull against the top of the creature's hard head.
"Really? I don't' think I can sleep like this," Misty replied, glancing up at the moon, "I mean, wasn't that exciting?"
"It was, but now I wanna sleep," sighed Ash, laying his head back down. Molly had no trouble sleeping, nor did Pikachu. The Gyarados was moving slower than it had before, and was moving at just the right pace: fast enough to keep moving forward, but slow enough for the girl and little Pikachu to snuggle up together against the Gyarados's fins. They were comfortable, but Ash was not.
"Can't you just close your eyes and just relax?" Misty asked, her eyes narrowed.
"This Gyarados keeps waking me up."
"Yeah! It's really bugging me!"
"I can always return it to its Pokeball, and just leave you in the water. How does that sound?" Misty asked, smirking slightly.
"I'll take the Gyarados," Ash replied, hastily glancing away.
"There's a good boy," Misty replied, giggling. There was a moment of silence as the two drifted onward, moving farther down the great ocean, the waves lapping up against the sides of the serpent, rising into the air only to sprinkle and spray against the young adult's leg. The seconds passed, a smile on his lips for a moment before Gyarados made a slight turn to avoid a Dewgong, a creature that spun into the air, the sparkling droplets of water following it into the air like a family of faeries emerging from the brightest hole in the ocean. As Misty marveled at each droplet and just how it refracted the light of the moon, Ash tumbled over, damning the majestic creature and all its interruptions to Ash's beauty sleep.
"Isn't it beautiful?" Misty asked, in awe.
"Not really," Ash responded.
"Oh, you're just jealous you're not that great," laughed Misty.
"No, I'm just bugged it keeps making Gyarados turn," mumbled Ash, resting his head against his arms in resignation.
"You're such a little kid," Misty grumbled, holding her head in her hands, looking out at the beautiful sea, the horizon in the far away distance, the moon high in the sky, the stars visible for all to see. Ash followed her gaze, only to see into the great heavens above. "I know you might not like the Dewgong, but you have to admit the sky is pretty, right?" Misty asked, a childish grin spread across her lips.
"Yeah, it's nice, I can't lie about that," Ash replied, finally cracking a grin.
"Yeah." Another awkward silence filled the air for several minutes, the only sound reaching their ears being the churning of the ocean. "So how's May these days?"
"May? I haven't seen her in a while."
"Weren't you going on adventures with her, too?"
"Well, I was, but we had to leave her and Max when we went to Sinnoh."
"Oh, so was it just you and Brock over in Sinnoh?"
"No, there was this girl named Dawn."
At once, Misty felt her cheeks burn red at the sound of that name. Ash had traveled with another girl? It was bad enough he had almost replaced her with May, but another one? Did Ash really care about her anymore? Did he have eyes for her? Was she just another girl to him, another replaceable girl? "So, uh, what was Dawn like?"
"Well, she was really young, kinda afraid—"
Misty let out a sigh of relief before interrupting Ash again, "How young?"
"Oh! That's a relief."
"Why does her age matter, exactly?" Ash asked, confused.
Misty stared at him a good long thirty seconds to confirm with her very eyes that Ash Ketchum had just asked a question with a painfully obvious answer. It seemed that, no matter how old he became, Ash was still a complete idiot when it came to noticing when a girl was in love. Frowning, her cheeks filling with red, Misty mumbled, "You're hopeless, ya know that, Ash?"
"What? I'm serious, why would it matter?" Ash stammered as Misty lowered herself to a squat over her Pokemon's head.
"It doesn't matter. Don't worry about it," Misty sighed, frowning.
"Okay, if you say so." Ash replied, glancing away.
Ash glanced away, glancing at Molly and Pikachu for a second. He sighed. Misty was being really weird again. Was this how all girls were at one point or another? Why would it matter how old Dawn was? It wasn't like they were going out or anything, Dawn and him. He had always thought he had a thing for that guy Paul, or maybe someone else, but that was just him. What did he know about dating and love, though? He never even had a girlfriend, after all.
He glanced at Misty, about to make a comment regarding a memory he and Dawn shared, but the comment soon fell to the wayside. Misty was right in front of the moon from his angle. The halo of light bathed the girl in a lovely aura of yellow, soft gentle brilliance enveloping her, swallowing her up before his eyes. Her soft face, the gentle slope of her lower chin into her throat, the smooth, slender cheeks on her face, soft enough to stroke yet not soft enough to truly pinch. Misty had kept her hair up, yet Ash continued to wonder what she'd look like if she took that ponytail out. He was sure it would look nice draped down that slender neck of hers, the slender softness of it so enticing, almost begging to be touched—
What the hell was he thinking!
Misty was his friend, and it was best that way. As he had learned by watching Brock, acting out on your impulses usually left you battered and bloody. In Brock's case, it also left you with a slap across the face and a pulled ear. He giggled at this, only for Misty to glance over, the sides of her face reflecting both the beautiful light of the heavenly sphere behind her and the water which refracted the said beautiful light of said heavenly sphere.
"What're you laughing about?" she asked, confused.
"Just thinking about—" However, before Ash could finish, a Dewgong rose from the water yet again, flipping its tail majestically before Gyarados's eyes. The beast, in shock, coiled back for an instance. Ash watched as Misty lost her balance, tumbling backward, spinning through the air, only to land straight into Ash's chest. The two slumped further down the Gyarados's body only for the beast to stabilize itself, find itself under control, and swim onward, through the torrents of water as it progressed further down the ocean.
Misty was laying against Ash's chest, her hands spread out to cushion her fall. Ash felt the full weight of her body against him. For a scrawny girl, she sure was heavy. Or perhaps that was simply Ash being a physical weakling. The weight of her chest against his own, her soft, sleek torso rubbing against Ash's. Ash had pulled his own hands in front of his own body to block the impact of collision, and now his hand was pinned between his abs and her midsection. His fingers propped, at first absentmindedly, but soon deliberately, across her belly. Her flesh gave under his fingers, but only slightly, only enough. Ash felt his legs entangled with Misty's sleek thighs. They were locked around each other out of complete accident, yet neither party so much as bent their knee. Rather, they simple stared at one another, eye to eye, face to face.
A sensation ran up Ash's body, a sensation of joy. There was a reason they had fallen together like this. There was a purpose for it. They were meant to be in this position, with Misty's moist leg pressed against Ash's inner thigh, with Misty's fingers pressing delicately against his own rib cage, as the Cerulean Gym Leader exhaled, slightly, quickly, rapidly as the seconds passed. Her heart was racing, just like Ash's, and neither seemed to be able to breathe properly. Quick gasps of air, as though they had just run for miles, but their inhalation was so shallow, not deep at all, nor should it have been. Their eyes were locked, and all they saw was the other's face.
"I'm losing feeling in my legs."
Misty hastily rose to her feet, blushing deep red as Ash slowly moved his now numb legs. "Are you okay? I'm sorry! Lemme help." Misty drew down just as Ash leaned forward to probe his legs. The result was apparent to Ash before it even happened, yet it was still just as unavoidable: they clonked heads. The two staggered backward, holding their respective skulls as Pidgey swirled around their heads. After a few discombobulated seconds, Ash glanced over at Misty, who was rubbing her head, her hands so slender, so beautiful, each little digit so soft and gentle.
The same digits that had touched his chest.
What was he thinking? He couldn't think that way! Misty was his friend! Just friends! Just friends! Just—
"What is it, Misty?"
"Would you mind if, maybe, after this is all done, if you could stay with me for a little while?" Misty asked, curiously.
"Oh, yeah, of course I will," Ash replied, smiling, "I came over because I wanted to see you."
Misty flushed deep red at the sound of that statement. "You came to Kanto because you wanted to see me?"
"Well, that's why I went to Cerulean. I came to Kanto to see everyone. Still, I was most excited about seeing you."
Misty could only blush.
"So, uh, what are you gonna do next?"
Ash considered this. "I heard there's another league I could try competing in. I might go there."
"Oh, I see," Misty replied, frowning. After all was said and done, her gym would be torn down, or perhaps saved. If it was torn down, then she could travel with Ash. If it wasn't, then she'd be tied down to one city, and Ash would have to one day leave her again. Then again, if the gym was save, then her honor would be restored, she'd continue being a gym leader, she'd always be by the water, her love.
Water was her love.
Ash was also her love.
Which love did she love more?
Misty lowered her head slightly, her bangs falling over her large eyes as the distant sounds of Bird Pokemon cawing through the air filled her ears. She glanced up, noticing the sensation of warmth crawling up her neck. She turned around only to see the sun rising into the air, slowly ascending higher and higher into the sky as the seconds passed by. The sky turned red as though a rose were blooming, its petals being thrown into the sky by the low, strong winds, eternal winds that dragged the paintbrush petals across the sky as the rose ascended, slowly changing from scarlet to yellow, before her eyes. The water reflected the metamorphosis, dying crimson like beautiful blood before converting into crystal blue once more. There on the horizon was a city, though what city Misty could not determine. Its structures stretched into the sky, outlined against the rising sun, beautiful as it always was. Misty's lips curled into a smile, her shinning teeth reflecting the light off the sun, like the moon reflecting the light of the heavenly star.
"Isn't it beautiful?" Misty asked, glancing up.
"I need t' sleep."
With that in mind, the third person omniscient narrator typically can't express emotion because, as I've mentioned not too long ago, it's not human. At most, it conveys tone through word choice, but it should never convey it through exclamation points because it's supposed to be a lofty observer, not someone who's actually expressing a reaction to the events as they unfold. The reason why I say this is because if a narrator actually does express more emotion than it should, then the rest of the fic comes off looking like a work written by a younger author (who frequently falls for the mistake as I've described it above) or more of a comedy scene (which grants the narrator a distinct voice intentionally). Given that the rest of your scenes look fairly serious, you probably don't want the tone this kind of thing actually invokes.
Anyway, by the time the Orange Islands rolled around, Ash grew out of the "I am a jerk who just barely realizes his Pokémon are in danger" stage I mentioned earlier. After all... well. *motions to "Charizard Chills"* Beyond that, even in the OI season, he wasn't much of a romantic person, and by Johto, he definitely was focused on his development as a trainer. It's just one of those fundamental aspects of his personality, really, because it underlines his determination and what he's more likely to care about above anything else.
Not to mention there's still that focus on his friends I was thinking about earlier. That scene he had with Gary at the end of the Silver Conference is one of the things that tends to stick out in my mind, just because it reminds me that he cares deeply for pretty much everyone he thinks of as a friend. On the other hand, I'm more of a Palletshipper, so this might just be more of my interpretation.
Misty, just for the record, actually proved herself to be more romantic in these seasons. Not only was there the jealousy thing in the second movie, but she's also mentioned marriage on more than one occasion. "Wherefore Art Thou, Pokémon?" for one, and "The Heartbreak of Brock" for another. Okay, sure, you weren't talking about Ash. I just wanted to let you know that it's definitely believable to have Misty be the more romantic type.
That and it's a bit oddly dramatic for just nostalgia.
It's just that I've read a lot of fanfiction in a lot of genres, including AAML. I know AAML can be adventurous and different. As much as I hate Ace Sanchez's idea of characterization (oh god the clichééééééés...), there's always "Pokemon MASTER" as an example. It's an AAML fic at its heart, but it's also a dark fic, an adventure fic, even a little fantasy. And, to be honest, although the characters are practically OOC, it does a decent job at juggling its genres. You don't immediately know that AAML is its primary pairing, and even when Ash and Misty encounter each other, you barely get any idea that they will eventually hook up. (Unless, of course, you read it exactly the same as "Kaji + Misato = lovin' in the elevator?") It's extremely subtle with its pairing until the time comes to start playing up the romance. As a result, it's actually fairly exciting to watch the actions around them unfold and see how each event drives them closer and closer together (if, again, you ignore how little it seems to like canon).
Long story short, yeah. It's actually entirely possible to go into an AAML fic and read it as if you're expecting Ash and Misty to break down into mush. That's why I don't go into a romance fic expecting that, and that's why I just ripped apart your first chapter to comment on the plot and characterization.
So, yes. I never said I was expecting, in every AAML fic, Ash and Misty to get lovey-dovey. (In fact, as you can probably tell, I really, really enjoy fics where they aren't.) I said I was expecting them to be in a relationship eventually because it's obvious thanks to the AAML tag. However, I also said I already have certain expectations because you seemed to be raising the same flags as a lot of other romance fics and that if you didn't want me to have those expectations, you'll probably want to go back and take a good look at your first chapter to see if you can figure out a way to avoid raising said flags.
Or in shorter terms that're going to sound a little confrontational (but I was never good with non-confrontational words, so forgive me here), you'll want to stop trying to tell a reader that your fic is different and start trying to prove to her that it's different through your story. To make it clearer, as I've said repeatedly, your first chapter establishes expectations. My review was on your first chapter because of this, and my comments are geared towards that chapter only. Don't tell me that it changes in later chapters or that I'm wrong because it's rather moot for a review that's only focused on how well you opened the fic. Show me that I'm wrong by avoiding the same mistakes a lot of AAML fic writers make in their first chapters.
As in, yeah, the review of the first chapter was just a review of the first chapter. I might continue onward to cover the other chapters, but the review that comes out of that will be for something completely different. The review that I just gave you is just for how well the opening -- the first glimpse the reader gets -- did as an opening, basically. Any other review will actually be for how well the story is progressing. I know not every reviewer does it this way, but eh. Every reviewer also has their own style, right?
And again, I'm sorry if I'm confrontational. I just don't like it when authors assume that I'm drawing conclusions I'm actually not drawing. It happens, though, so there's no need to apologize. I'm not blaming you or saying you did it intentionally, either; the only one who can clarify what I'm trying to say is me, you know? And I apologize if I was at all unclear about things.
Oh, I didn't mean to sound confrontational either. >_< I tend to be the type to steer away from confrontations to more peaceful solutions in general, so I apologize for that much.
Anyway, onto your points...I feel that we've addressed the first chapter pretty thoroughly. If you do continue, I look forward to seeing your reactions to everything. Funny you mentioned Kaji and Misato in the elevator, though, because I've done a few Evangelion fics (probably more than any other series...save for maybe Sailor Moon...)
Part 8"Is everything going according to plan, Claude?"
Claude smiled, folding his arms over the massive scarlet "R" emblem on his chest, his aged face twisted into what could only be described as a grin, despite the rather crinkly laugh lines around his lips. After all, how could he not be happy at this moment? Despite two bases falling at the hands of the enemy, despite all that, the data was still intact. It was only a matter of time before everything fell into place, before his dreams came true.
"Of course, Nathanael. We've had a couple minor setbacks, but according to my good partner Frollo, the enemy will come here, where we'll ensnare and destroy them. Once we get them out of the way, well, then things will get a whole lot simpler for us as a whole."
"You sure seem confident," Nathanael said, his face emblazoned on the monitors before them, his grin lazily placed over his poorly shaven jaw, "So, why're you confident you're going to win, anyway? What sort of team have you assembled this time, hmmm?"
"Well, Frollo is debriefing them now, and—"
"And is now standing behind you."
Claude jumped a little, his locks of white hair bouncing in the air as he glanced over his broad shoulders to see Frollo standing behind him, a line of six Rocket Elites behind him. That psychic, despite being his partner, was quite an odd man. From teleporting behind him without him being aware of it, to reading his thoughts and plans before Claude himself had even fully formulated them, everything Frollo did cemented the image that he was a man to be reckoned with, despite his slight physical build. Next to a hulking giant like Claude, Frollo was the last person one would suspect as being a threat, yet the only people not intimidated by those wicked, cruel eyes were fools.
"As you can see, we have the best of the best amongst us," Frollo replied, bowing a little.
"Since when have we been the best?" a purple haired man asked his long scarlet haired partner. Claude glanced over at the pair, his eyes passing lazily over the purple haired youth, but his eyes were frozen when they landed on the girl. That body, that face, that hair. The hairs on the back of Claude's neck stood up as he stared at her, his eyes wavering in their sockets, his mouth agape in shock. It couldn't possibly be. He knew her daughter was in the ranks of Team Rocket and everything, but what were the chances that this would happen? From what Frollo had forewarned him, they had picked up Butch and Cassidy from the rubble, then two others that he didn't recognize who weren't part of the team before Shi and Ka were called over from Tohjo Falls.
How did they find Miyamoto's daughter?
"Wow!" a scarlet haired girl who was clearly the youngest of the group stammered, her eyes wide and her jaw agape as she stared headlong into the monitor where Nathanael's face shined brightly like a vision of God in Heaven. Her black haired partner, a boy of around the same age, who had to be the one named Shi, glanced over at her, anxiously, as she stammered, "Uh, my name is Ka, I'm fourteen years old, and many people tell me I should be a model in years to come. What's yours?"
Nathanael chuckled, flashing a rather amused smile, at which Ka blushed deep red, and Shi's eyes narrowed. "Well, my name is Nathanael Butler, and I'm the benefactor of this little operation. I'm in my thirties, though I'd rather not say how far along I am, and, well, I'm open to all sorts of experiences."
"Oh, I know what you mean," Ka replied, blushing even brighter than before, "I'm a pretty open minded girl myself, ya know? I mean, to anything, really. So, uh—"
"He's twice as old as you are at least," Shi muttered.
"Shut up, idiot!" the girl shouted into her partner's face before turning back to Nathanael, holding herself somewhat timidly, "So, uh, will we ever meet in person?"
"Eventually we might," chuckled Nathanael, "However, that'll only happen if you do exactly as Claude orders you, okay?"
"Right, exactly, I'll do every word he says!" Ka replied, grinning a deep, broad smile as she saluted the television set, unabashed, her eyes filled with a light not unlike that of someone filled with passionate admiration. Shi, on the other hand, while not necessarily angry or even truly jealous, appeared anxious, shifting his weight from foot to foot, his hands occasionally clenching and unclenching as the seconds passed. He looked absolutely uncomfortable.
To be fair, Claude was just as uncomfortable with Miyamoto's daughter in the room.
"So, Nathanael," Frollo replied, taking a few steps, the younger man's white hair bouncing in the air as he passed, his black attire and jacket drifting in the nonexistent winds with an almost insidious wave, "I take it that, if Surge arrives, which he will, that your orders are to kill him and his two partners on sight?"
Nathanael's lips curled into a broad little grin upon hearing this, his eyes glowing with an amused, off-handedly wicked light. "But of course. Your orders are to kill all of the intruders."
"Wait, kill!" the Meowth at Miyamoto's daughter's feet stammered, surprising Claude yet again. A Meowth that could speak? Then again, why not? The girl was Miyamoto's daughter, after all. "Don't ya just mean t' capture 'em or just rough them up a little?"
"No, I mean kill," Nathanael replied.
"As in render unable to breath, to ensure their heart cannot beat ever again, to see to it that they never saw the light of day ever again," Frollo replied, "Really for a talking Pokemon you sure cannot understand simple concepts."
"I know what kill means!" the Meowth stammered, "I just didn't think ya'd mean we really had t' kill someone!"
"Oh, but we must. We can't have that man going around ruining the plans we have by ruining Nathanael's good name now, can we?" Frollo asked, arms folded over his chest.
"But surely there's another way than just killing them," the purple haired boy stammered, his eyes widened.
"There isn't," Frollo replied, laughing, "If you're so worried about killing, then just capture them and give them to us." Claude didn't need to be a psychic to see the stress on the boy's face, his lips pulled tight, his eyebrows knotted. He didn't need to be a psychic to tell the Meowth was in agreement with its master. He didn't need to be a psychic to tell that Miyamoto's daughter agreed with the other two.
Just like Miyamoto.
"I will leave the rest in your faithful hands, Claude," Nathanael chuckled, "Don't fail me."
As the screen faded to black, Claude was left staring at it, blankly, his eyes lowered to the ground. They couldn't fail. If they did, all that Claude had longed to succeed at, all that he had tried to plot and plan, all the effort put into the last eight years of searching, would've been in vain. All the trips taken to recapture Mewtwo after he escaped Giovanni's grasp eight years earlier, the rediscovery of New Island and the lab developed there, Giovanni's sudden case of amnesia when it came to the topic of Mewtwo, and, in the end, convincing Giovanni to make himself, Claude, the head of the Pokemon cloning operation once more.
All was riding on this one moment.
"I will not fail, Nathanael Butler."
The moment Gyarados pulled up to the beach, Ash hopped off of the head of the great sea serpent, the sand around his feet bouncing into the air as he took several steps forward, glancing around anxiously as Misty and Molly disembarked, Pikachu hopping off of the beast onto Ash's shoulders, grateful once more to be on solid ground again, sighing in relief. Gyarados was returned to its ball in a flash of scarlet light as Misty pocketed the sphere that was now in possessions of her great long serpent.
Before them was a grand city, its buildings stretching into the clouds above them. Though not as huge as Saffron or Goldenrod, the field of buildings could easily fit a dozen Pallet Towns within its area, filled with stores, a Pokemon Center, a gym, and an entire field filled with Pokemon known as the Saffari Zone. Returning to the place where he had first captured his Taurus reminded Ash of the pains he still felt in his testicles from where those damn shoulder blades hit him in his most vulnerable place.
"Wait, where are we? This isn't Cinnabar—wait a second. This is Fuchsia City, isn't it?" Molly asked, glancing around, curiously.
"That is correct."
Ash leapt into the air as a dark haired figure emerged from the depths of oblivion. There stood Sabrina, a critical expression on her face, her eyes narrowed hauntingly as she took several steps forward, her arms at her sides as her long mane of greenish purple hair bounced in the wind, drifting eerily like a ghost's mane. No matter how "good" Sabrina became, it didn't change the fact that she could still be creepy as a Darkrai's nightmares.
"You need to give us some warning! I mean, really!" stammered Molly, who, in her fright, had leapt a foot into the air, like Ash, but as opposed to Ash, she tumbled headlong into the sand, her eyes covered with moist pebbles of eroded Earth. She was tearing as the pellets of sand stunk the corneas of her eyes, her voice louder than Misty's when she was vehement, and, take Ash's word for it, that was pretty damn loud.
"I apologize," Sabrina said, a hint of genuine regret in her voice, but, for the most part, sounding as though she was, for all intents and purposes, indifferent, "However, we need to act immediately. There is no time to waste."
"Why's that?" Misty asked, curiously.
"Because as we speak, Nathanael gets closer and closer to getting exactly what he wants." Emerging behind them was Lt. Surge, a man Ash hadn't seen in years, a man with massive arms folded over a gigantic, broad chest. At his side were two cohorts, a rather muscular male and a woman who looked as though she could bench-press both Misty and Ash without breaking a sweat. To say she was even female pushed what qualified as female in Ash's books. Even now, the sight of Surge, as Ash remembered the beating he had been dealt at his hands, sent chills up his spine. Surely now if they were to have a rematch, Ash would destroy him, but, even as he thought of it, the prospect of battling Surge would have to wait for another time. Right now, there was something else they needed to do.
"You went to New Island, did you not?" Sabrina asked, cooly.
"Yeah, we did," Ash replied, nodding.
"And what did you find there?"
"Team Rocket," Ash replied, simply.
"And what were they—"
"We know what we saw, and we know you know what we saw too!" Misty snapped, "You're the psychic here, and I'm sure you told those three about what we were gonna see too, right?"
Sabrina grinned, slightly. "Perceptive. You're absolutely right, too. And I also know that, as of now, half of Team Rocket's cloning facilities are currently obliterated."
"Wait, half! You mean there's another base?" Ash stammered. Destroying one hadn't been difficult, no, but to think that such a large scale operation had never been noticed by anyone in the surrounding area was a little hard to believe. What, did they pay people money not to rat them out? Was it in a remote location like New Island? Where was the other base? It wouldn't be somewhere stupid, like, say, in a casino in the middle of Celadon, right? Now that would just be idiotic!
"No, they're two more bases," Lt. Surge replied, "We took care of the first one, which was in a casino smack dab in the middle of Celadon, then you destroyed the second, and now the third one is right here in Fuchsia City."
Ash sighed. "I can't believe they'd put a base in the middle of Celadon—"
"There's more important things than that to worry about!" snapped Misty, rounding on Ash.
"Indeed. There is an enemy you all need to be weary of," Sabrina said, her voice whispery and fearsome.
"Who's that?" the muscular girl asked, "I'm pretty sure that they won't be able to stand up against us."
"It's a psychic by the name of Frollo," Sabrina said, "He's an equal to my power, and, to be completely honest, a rival of mine."
"You know this guy?" Ash asked, curiously.
Sabrina took a second to pause before continuing. "Frollo was the first person ever to defeat the Saffron Gym many years ago. He beat me with great difficulty, yes, but he was the first to ever overtake me in battle. Apparently, he was my equal in power at the time, but, as the years passed, he'd develop his psychic abilities, growing stronger and stronger as I too developed my strength. However, after Ash defeated me, I learned that the power of love does enhance the strength of psychic bonds between a trainer and Pokemon. However, while I developed my bonds with my Pokemon, he'd developed his psychic abilities in a darker, crueler fashion."
"How so?" Ash asked, feeling his body grasped in a rather powerful, potent chill as he stared at the visibly shaken up Sabrina, a woman who often was completely stoic. However, Ash could see her wide eyes, her trembling fingers, and her pale skin covered in sweat. If a woman like her was so terrified by such a man, then what kind of horror laid in the future for Ash if he were to run into this monster?
"He killed people and Pokemon alike, and absorbed their psychic energies into himself."
There was a moment of silence as Sabrina stared at all of them in turn. Finally, after a second, Misty stirred, her skin pale and sweaty, her eyes wide with terror as the seconds passed, her lips puckering outward as words formed between them. "What kind of monster does that?"
"Well, clearly he does," Lt. Surge replied, frowning slightly, "How exactly does he assimilate their minds?"
Sabrina frowned, "The moment one dies their mind and soul are ejected from the body. What Frollo does is simply assimilate the minds with his psychic abilities, an act forbidden by God and nature. It's the same as cannibalism, really. Your body absorbs the nutrients of the flesh eaten. However, unlike cannibalism where that nutrients can be assimilated and then passed through the body, the collective mass of energy cannot decrease in intensity, so it quite literally adds to one's permanent power level. Within Frollo's mind and soul resides the minds and souls of a thousand murdered humans and their Pokemon, all absorbed into the sick recesses of his mind."
"How do you know all this?" Molly asked, terrified.
"Because I could sense that Frollo has touched Nathanael's mind."
There was another moment of silence, as Ash absorbed the meaning of those words. After doing so, he rolled the thoughts around in his brain for a second before asking, confused, "Uh, he what?"
Sabrina frowned, "His psychic energies have come in contact with Nathanael's."
"Oh." Ash nodded for a moment before asking, a toothy grin on his lips, "What does that mean?"
"He read his mind."
"Oh! I see. Why couldn't you have just said that?" Ash asked, curiously.
"It sounds less impressive."
"Can't argue with that."
"So do you know what he read from Nathanael's mind?" the male at Surge's side asked, curiously.
"I can tell you that Frollo knows exactly what Nathanael is truly planning, and is readily willing to aid him to a point. However, Frollo has his own scheme, his own agenda, though as to what that is, I don't exactly know," Sabrina replied.
"I never knew Team Rocket had such monsters working with them," Misty replied, "I'm starting to miss Jessie and James already." Her arms were trembling as goose bumps rose on her skin. Ash's lips frowned into a tight little frown. He reached out for her arm, rubbing his thumb up the scale of her soft flesh. Misty glanced over at Ash, a gesture that sent a strange sensation surging up the scale of Ash's body as she did so. What was this feeling? Why did it feel so good?
"It's okay, Misty. Worst case scenario, I'll just punch the guy right across the face," Ash laughed.
"If you encounter Frollo, leave him to me," Sabrina said, "No one else can handle that level of psychic energy. You'd be killed without difficulty. Only a psychic can stop him."
"But he's stronger than you, right?" Ash asked, anxiously, "Wouldn't he just beat you and then absorb your mind? We should stand together and fight him as one!" Ash couldn't let their friend be beaten by that bully, that monster. It wasn't fair for anyone to have to stand up against such a demon on their own. He wouldn't let his friends be killed, not now, not ever! They had gone up against Team Rocket hundreds of times in the past, and always managed to overcome the odds and beat them. They couldn't let them win this time just because they hired a lunatic!
Sabrina smiled. "You truly are every bit as much of a help as I remember."
"Yes, I'd say you'd make a great hero when you grow up, but I'd be lying."
"Hey! What's that mean?"
"How can you grow up to be a hero if you're one already?"
Ash blushed at this. "Uh, thank you."
"It's not a problem. Alright, listen: Lt. Surge is wanted by the Pokemon league because Nathanael has convinced them he is a threat. We need to be careful the police do not interrupt our operation."
"If the police are after us, why are we having this meeting in the middle of a public beach?" Misty asked, curiously.
No one responded at this.
"You know, that's a very good point," Lt. Surge replied, glancing shiftily toward the area around them, "Maybe we should—"
"There's no point," chuckled Sabrina, "In ten seconds, I'm going to teleport you all to a Pokemon Center, and then into the woods as close to the base as Frollo will let us. Ready?"
"Wait, what—" Before Ash could even finish speaking, his body was consumed by brilliant light as all reality faded away before him, sparks of psychic energy swirling around him, ensnaring him in a net of brilliant pewter light. He felt his feet leave the ground as a sensation of tugging from within his navel pulled him backward, through space and time, before all around him disappeared once more.
Sabrina stared at the patch of sand where her comrades had been. She sighed as she reflected upon the great sacrifices they had all gone to in order to bring her plan this far. However, unfortunately, there was one instrumental step in the plan that was required to prove Surge's innocence and discredit Nathanael forever more. She sighed, slowly, as she withdrew a PokeGear from her pocket, opening it up next to her face after hastily dialing a specific, short number.
"Hello, this is the Fuchsia City police. Name your emergency."
"Yes, this is an anonymous tip. I sighted the fugitive Lt. Surge heading into the mountains north of the city."
"Are you sure this is a good idea, Jessie?" James asked, glancing over at his red haired companion.
"Of course this is! If we do this job right, then the boss will finally respect us for all the good stuff we've done in the past, and finally give us all the meaty projects again, right?" Jessie replied, a lack of commitment in her voice. She couldn't fool James. After all, she was just like James in so many ways. What was the point of being respected by the boss if they had to kill someone, or anyone? What if they had to kill the twerps?
If they killed the twerps, then they'd finally be able to capture Pikachu. But how rewarding would it be, how fun could it be, if they had to kill people to retrieve it? All the fun of being an outlaw was the freedom, the mischief of it all. But murder? That wasn't mischief at all! It was evil! Pure and unadulterated evil! Sure, the three of them prided themselves on being bad guys, but there's a limit to what they'd do and what they wouldn't do.
They actually grew to like the twerp, too.
"I know I ain't doin' nothin' for that Frollo guy," Meowth snapped, "Somethin' about him gave me the creeps, real bad."
"I know. The moment he opened his mouth he just really left me feeling like I needed a shower," James mumbled, holding himself as he trembled.
"But guys, he's a psychic! He can probably tell we don't like him, but if we don't disobey, maybe—"
But before Jessie could finish, a voice rang out through the air, a high, yet still boyish, voice that the trio recognized almost instantly. "I won't do it! I'm not just gonna let people walk all over me anymore!" For a moment, all was silent, before a whispery voice in the distant spoke, but, alas, the words were muffled by the walls between the source of the sound and the trio of listeners. So, like any good eavesdropper, the trio slowly lurked around the dark corners of the walls, their ears open for the sound of voices in the distance. Finally, after several seconds, they came in range of voices.
"Listen, Shi, you don't have many options in this world but to listen to me," the whispery, foul voice of their psychic superior said, drifting through the hallways of their base, the white haired, slender deity hiding in the shadows as the dark haired boy lowered his head in shame, his face covered in dark, humiliated shadows. "All you have is me, my will, my orders. If you don't listen to me, then it's back to the pit."
"I know! But I can't kill anything! And neither can she!" Shi stammered, his eyes staring horror-struck upon the ground."
Frollo's wicked lips curled into a sneer, his flawless face filled with an evil vileness that no man could comprehend. The gaze could kill a thousand innocent Butterfree alone, and staring into those irises filled with malice made Jessie, James, and Meowth feel as though they were staring into the brutal massacre of said beautiful creatures. "But you seemed to have no qualms about murdering everyone before."
"But that was different!"
"You brought this suffering upon yourself. After killing everyone where you came from, what's a few more bodies on the murder list?"
"Shut up! I didn't—I mean—"
"Don't deny it! You're just as wicked at heart as I am," the psychic replied, grinning, his eyes glinting with unbridled cruelty, "And what's with all these cries of pain, anyway? We all know who you're doing this for. It's all to ease your own conscience, right? To make yourself feel better as you run away from responsibility again?"
"No! And you know that's not why!"
"But it is, isn't it? Isn't that the entire reason for everything you've done in your life you sniveling coward?"
"No! I'm doing this for her!"
Frollo's lips curled into that wicked grin once more. "Oh, for that girl who takes pleasure in beating you once you're down? What could you possibly find out of helping that hopeless *****?"
"She's not a *****. You know what I did to her. All the horrible things I did—this is the least I can do."
"Well, we all know the extent of your desires is just to have sex for her. You don't care if she lives or dies, right? You showed your true colors last time she was in need of your help and you never went—"
At that moment, the boy darted toward the psychic, drew back his fist, and threw it toward the man. For an instant, it appeared that the helpless psychic, not even bothering to put up a defense, was about to be torn to shreds, but, before the trio's very eyes, the boy screamed in pain, crumbling to the ground as he grabbed at his hair and scalp. His veins were bulging out of his skin as he shrieked to high heaven, crying for his messiah to salvage him from the eternal pain, no doubt.
Soon, the screams died away as Shi gasped for air, panting weakly on the ground as the psychic stood over him, glaring down at him with a look of pure, sour glee. "So now you finally see what you must do. If you disobey me, I'll kill both of you, and send you back to that hell world. Of course, your girlfriend won't know when you die first she'll wake up somewhere else. I'll take great pleasure in watching her cry over your body before I kill you. Or maybe I should keep you separated forever so you'll both be miserable and alone." The psychic turned around, walking deeper into the shadows, away from Shi, away from the trio, away from all hope of redemption. "Remember, I brought you into this world, and I can just as easily take you out."
Shi remained on the ground, head lowered in shame before, to the trio's astonishment, tears began to run down his cheeks, his face contorting as he sobbed alone in a pathetic heap on the ground, his entire body trembling with sadness as the seconds passed. As he sobbed, the trio left him alone, left him along with his emotions, if not only to put more distance between them and the villain they answered to.