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Old February 15th, 2018 (10:29 AM).
BZRich64's Avatar
BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
The Mustachioed Machamp
     
    Join Date: Apr 2013
    Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
    Age: 23
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Quiet
    Posts: 145
    Chapter 24
    Spoiler:
    “Here we are, Cerulean City.” Misty announced halfheartedly to the rest of the group as they reached the outskirts of the city. “The floral lagoon city and town of bursting water, my home town.”

    “I guess this marks goodbye, then.” Ash said to her, a little sadness present in his voice.

    “I’ll go ahead and stick with you until you get to the Gym.”

    “Alright then,” Ash pointed off into the distance. “Off to the Cerulean Gym we go!”

    Misty pushed his arm a few inches to the right so that he pointed to the opposite end of town.

    “It’s that way.”

    The two marched off towards the Gym, but Carmine and Brock stayed behind for a moment.

    “What do you think that was about?” Brock asked the older trainer.

    “It looks like they’ve grown attached to each other.” Carmine answered. “And the bonds formed on a Pokémon Journey are not easily broken. That’s something I’ve learned from experience.”

    Carmine started walking after Ash and Misty, leaving Brock to catch up to them.

    * * *

    Gary and his cheerleaders were riding on their way to Vermilion when Gary received a call on his Pokégear. He answered the call and the girls all sat in silence as they waited for the call to be over. Finally, Gary pulled the device away from his ear and put it back away in his pocket.

    “What was that about?” One of the girls asked him.

    “It was my dad.” Gary answered. “He said that he just got a bunch of tickets to the S.S. Anne and decided to send some of them to us.”

    The girls were all ecstatic with that news. The S.S. Anne was known far and wide as the biggest and most luxurious cruise liner in the country and actually getting on it was considered nearly impossible by most.

    “He said we’re supposed to pick up the tickets at the Vermilion Pokémon Center and that the ship leaves tomorrow.”

    * * *

    When they reached the Cerulean Gym, Ash went straight to the pool in the center of the room, while Carmine and Brock sat on the bleachers to the sides and Misty walked around to the other side.

    “Where’s the Gym Leader?” Ash asked.

    “There are four Gym Leaders here.” Explained Misty as she reached the opposite end of the pool. “And I happen to be one of them.”

    Ash was caught off guard by this statement at first. But then he thought back and realized that there were signs leading up to it.

    “I guess that would be why Brock knows you.”

    “Yep. We tend to hang out at Gym Leader meetings since we signed up for our positions around the same time.”

    “Well then. Misty, I challenge you to a Gym Battle!”

    Misty held out a Pokéball that she had already pulled out of the console she was standing next to.

    “I accept your challenge, Ash. But be warned, I may be the youngest of the four sisters that run this Gym, but I’m also the strongest.”

    “If you’re the youngest, then shouldn’t that make you the weakest?” Ash asked.

    “No, why would you even think that? First off, I’m the only one who actually puts any effort in training and actually trying to do my job. And even if that wasn’t the case, being younger wouldn’t automatically make me weaker.”

    It was obvious that Ash had unwittingly hit a sore spot for Misty.

    “I was just trying to make a joke. I didn’t mean for you to take it personally.” Ash held out his arm towards Misty. “Now, let’s get this started! Pika, I choose you!”

    Ash’s first Pokémon ran along his arm and jumped off of it to the edge of the pool. Pika had a look of determination as he readied himself for the fight.

    “Go, Staryu!” Misty threw the Pokéball out over the pool and a brown, star-shaped Pokémon with a red gem in its center came forth from it and hovered in the air above the water. “Let the battle begin!”

    Pika launched a Thundershock at Staryu, who dodged the attack and flew around the room. The Water-type was spinning around so fast as it moves that it now looked more like a disk than a star. Pika kept trying to hit its opponent with Thundershock, but Staryu was able to dodge every blow with ease.
    Staryu was able to make its way around Pikachu and Tackled it from behind, knocking the Mouse Pokémon into the pool. Pikachu splashed around helplessly as Staryu went in for another Tackle. The star-shaped Pokémon rammed itself against Pikachu and they both went deep into the water. That was a mistake.

    “Pika!” Ash yelled. “Now’s your chance! Volt Tackle!”

    Pika could not actually here his master’s voice from below the water, but still knew what to do. The Electric rodent shot straight out of the water and high into the air while engulfed in electricity. The electricity spread throughout the water and zapped Staryu as Pikachu landed safely on the ground.

    “It looks like this battle is over.” Ash said smugly.

    “Don’t be so sure of that. Staryu! Recover!”

    Misty’s Pokémon lifted itself weakly out of the water and began to glow for a second. When the glow faded, Staryu appeared to be fine, as if it hadn’t even started the battle yet.

    “Okay…” Ash said weakly. “I didn’t expect that.”

    “As long as Staryu still has any energy left, it can Recover from anything you can do to it!”

    “Then I guess that means I’ll just have to make sure your Staryu doesn’t have any energy left!” Ash grabbed the brim of his cap and turned it backwards on his head. “Pika, new plan: don’t let up until Staryu’s down!”

    The Mouse Pokémon nodded at Ash and used a Quick Attack to knock himself into his opponent and the two fell back into the pool again. Pikachu then let out five blasts of Thundershock that spread throughout the pool, each hit doing massive damage to Staryu. Staryu tried to flee the pool into the safety of the air to use recover again, but before it could heal itself, Pikachu jumped out of the water with a Quick Attack and knocked Staryu back into the water with a Brick Break, before charging back into the water with a Volt Tackle.

    Pikachu jumped out of the pool again to stand before Ash. The two were just about to celebrate their victory when Staryu rose out of the water again, and then collapsed in from Misty.

    “Wow!” was all Misty could say at first. “I guess you win.”

    The young Gym Leader walked around the pool, over to Ash.

    “Here’s your Cascade Badge. I’m still shocked you were able to beat Staryu so quickly though.”

    Ash grinned. “I don’t think you were quite as ‘shocked’ as Staryu though.”

    Misty glared at Ash for a second. “Oh, just take the badge and leave already. I also wanted to give you this.” She handed him a Pokéball.

    “You’re giving me a Pokémon?”

    “It’s a Krabby that I caught while fishing on Route 1 just before… well, it was shortly before we met. I already have a Krabby in my collection and I was just going to trade it away for something else, but I figured you could use a Water Pokémon in your team.”

    “I guess this means goodbye then.” Ash said as he took the Pokéball from her.

    “I’m sure we’ll meet again.”

    The two looked at each other before Ash turned to leave, Carmine and Brock following after him. Misty slowly walked back over to her Staryu and returned the fainted Pokémon to its Pokéball. She put the Pokéball back into the console that, in addition to storing Gym Pokémon, also worked like one of the Pokémon healing machines found in Pokémon Centers. She then noticed something odd.

    “Misty? When’d you get back?” A familiar voice sounded from the entrance of the Gym.

    “Hi, Daisy.” Misty turned to greet her oldest sister. “I just got here. Why aren’t your Pokémon here?”

    Daisy blushed as she walked closer to her sister. “Well, you see… that’s kind of a long story…”

    “Where are your Pokémon?” Misty was becoming deeply concerned with her sister’s behavior.

    “Well… shortly before you left I met this guy named Bill who runs the lighthouse up north and we really hit it off. He’s a big Pokémon fan and being with him, I learned more about Pokémon and started to take more of an interest in them. I decided to start training so that I could do a better job at being a Gym Leader but I’ve been too embarrassed to let the others know, so I’ve been doing it in secret.”
    Daisy spoke so fast that Misty was barely able to process what she said.

    “Wait a minute. Did you just say that you’re actually going to start taking your Gym Leader responsibilities seriously?”

    “Yes.” Daisy voice was barely more than a squeak.

    Misty pondered that for a moment before speaking again.

    “If I leave for a while, would you be willing to take charge of the Gym?”

    “That’s what we already do.”

    “I don’t mean like what you have been doing. I mean, will you actually take responsibility of the Gym as a full-time Gym Leader?”

    Daisy hesitated before answering. “I guess so. Where are you going?”

    Misty gave a huge smile. “An adventure.”
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    Old February 16th, 2018 (7:54 AM).
    BZRich64's Avatar
    BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
    The Mustachioed Machamp
       
      Join Date: Apr 2013
      Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
      Age: 23
      Gender: Male
      Nature: Quiet
      Posts: 145
      Chapter 25
      Spoiler:
      “Oh no!” The mysterious Pikachu worried to herself. “She’s not here. She’s already left Cerulean City. How am I supposed to find her if she can be anywhere at any time?”

      “I might be able to help with that.”

      The sound of another’s voice started the Pikachu and she shot a bolt of electricity towards its source.

      “Wow, that was a close one for me.”

      The voice came from behind Pikachu now. She turned around to face her visitor.

      “Wait a minute…” A sudden realization came to the Pikachu. “I know you. You’re her Abra!”

      “Guilty as charged.” The Psi Pokémon said, or rather thought, to the Pikachu. “My name’s Abraham.”

      “What are you doing here?”

      “Well, as I know you are already aware, I am a Psychic-type with the ability to read the minds of those around me in order to detect danger. Thanks to those abilities, I know what’s going on and how important it is to keep Yellow away from ‘him’.”

      “Yellow?” The Pikachu asked questioningly.

      “That’s what she goes by now. She doesn’t remember her real name.”

      “So why are you here, anyway? You still haven’t told me.”

      “I was getting to that. I know how important it is to prevent ‘him’ from finding Yellow, so I’m here to offer you a deal. I’ll keep you informed of where she goes and what she does. I’ll even teleport you so that you can continue to keep a close eye on her yourself. All I ask in return is that you keep ‘him’ from ever finding her. But that’s already what you’re trying to do, so it shouldn’t be any problem for you.”

      “This is a trick.”

      “No, it’s not. I genuinely care for the wellbeing of my new trainer and I do not want any harm to come to her.”

      The Pikachu eyed Abraham from head to toe, trying to find any sign of deception, but to no avail.

      “Fine.” She said at last. “But I still don’t trust you.”

      “Of course not. Trust is something that must be earned over time.” Abraham agreed. “Or if you can read thoughts and know someone’s true intent, but I guess you’re not quite developed enough for that.”

      Pikachu tried to hide her shock from that, not that it mattered. “How much do you know?”

      “Everything you do.”

      * * *

      Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle continued on their way in the seemingly hopeless pursuit of Charmander’s trainer, Damian. With no leads to go off of and absolutely no idea where they were going, the group eventually wandered up to a Pokémon Center. Squirtle looked up at the sign on the front of the building and read it aloud.

      “Rock Tunnel Pokémon Center, Route 10.”

      Charmander and Bulbasaur both stared at him in amazement.

      “You can read human?” Bulbasaur asked.

      “Of course I can! I’m sure Charmander here can read too, right?”

      “No.” Charmander replied.

      “Huh, that’s odd. Didn’t your trainer ever teach you?”

      “No.” Charmander looked down in embarrassment.

      “Are you implying that you had a trainer that taught you?” Bulbasaur asked, intrigued.

      Squirtle took a deep breath and pulled out a locket that was tucked into his shell. He opened the locket and showed his companions the picture inside. It showed a young girl with light blue hair and eyes holding a younger Squirtle. The girl in the photo was wearing the same unusual, pointed sunglasses that Squirtle now wore.

      “Her name was Samantha, but to me she was Sam. When she was young, she was become stricken with an illness that left her physically weak and unable to interact much with people her own age. Her parents bought me as an egg from a breeder and gave me to her to be her companion. We were happy together for many years, but the illness returned and she passed away. Sam’s parents released me into the wild shortly after with only this locket and these shades to remember her by.”

      Bulbasaur and Charmander both stared at Squirtle in awe and sadness.

      “But rather than let grief and sadness take me over,” Squirtle continued. “I chose to continue on for both of us! That’s what led me to found the Squirtle Squad and it is why I strive to be the best that I can be!”

      Charmander and Bulbasaur weren’t sure what to say, but then someone walked out of the Pokémon Center, diverting everyone’s attention. It was a blue-haired boy that appeared to be in his mid-teens wearing a pink shirt and brown vest.

      “Damian!” Charmander yelled excitedly.

      Charmander’s trainer looked down on him and smirked.

      “You remind me of my old Charmander. The gullible idiot’s probably still waiting for me to come back to get him, even though I’ve already replaced him with a whole team of stronger Pokémon.” Damian said before starting to walk off.

      Charmander felt the whole world melt around him into an endless void of nothing as he heard Damian’s words. His trainer had abandoned him. His worst nightmare had come to pass. Charmander was quickly snapped out of his depression and back into the reality around him as Squirtle suddenly hit Damian with a Water Gun.

      “Aagh! What was that for?” Damian asked in shock. “You know what, never mind. I’m leaving.”

      The trainer lifted up a Pokéball, from which a mighty Braviary sprung forth. Damian climbed onto Valiant Pokémon’s back and Braviary flew off.

      “Well.” Bulbasaur said blankly. “Now what?”

      * * *

      Daisy walked into the Pokémon Center and looked around. She quickly found the person she was waiting for and walked up to a woman wearing a delivery service uniform.

      Hello, I’m Teala from Mystery Gift Deliveries.” The woman introduced herself. “Can I help you with something?”

      “Hi, I’m Daisy Oak. You should have a package for me.”

      “Oh, yes. It’s right here.” The woman pulled a sealed envelope from her bag and handed it to Daisy.

      “Thank you.” Daisy said as she walked away.

      Teala continued to wait around in the Pokémon Center for a while, before Gary walked in and approached her.

      “You have a package for me.” Gary said.

      “Do I. What’s your name, sir.” She asked in response.

      “Gary Oak.”

      The woman reached into her bag and pulled out another envelope, this one much thicker than the one she gave Daisy.

      “Here you go, sir.”

      Gary pulled the envelope from her hand and walked off. “Smell you later!” He said as he gave a sort of half wave back to Teala.

      “Interesting.” Teala said to herself. “Two Oak’s getting similar packages from the same person, who’s also an Oak. I wonder what that’s about. Oh, well. That was my last delivery here for the day.”

      * * *

      “It’s about time you got here.” Lt. Surge said as Ash, Carmine and Brock reached the Vermilion Gym. “The S.S. Anne is going to set off in just a few hours. Do you still want four tickets?”

      “No.” Ash sighed. “We only need three now.”

      Lt. Surge handed three of the tickets he had to Ash, who took them and was about to leave when suddenly a voice came yelling from over the distance.

      “Wait!” A girl was cycling towards the Gym at top speed and made an abrupt stop as she reached them. She was wearing a light blue jacket and denim shorts over a white shirt that, upon further inspection, was actually part of a swimsuit; as well as a blue, triangle-shaped backpack with a single strap that went over one shoulder and under the other. The others almost didn’t recognize her at first until she took off her bike helmet to reveal her familiar orange hair.

      “Misty!” Ash said excitedly. “What are you doing here?”

      “To be able to go on a cruise on the S.S. Anne is like a once-in-lifetime opportunity.” Misty answered. “There’s no way I’m missing this.”

      “But what about the Gym?” Brock asked.

      “I already took care of that. Now, are we going or not?”

      “What’s with the new outfit? It looks like you’re planning on a longer trip than just the S.S. Anne.” It was Carmine’s turn to ask Misty something.

      “I was on what was just supposed to be a weekend fishing trip when we met before, but stuff came up and I missed my ride back home. Since this isn’t a fishing trip, I didn’t feel like just wearing my old fishing clothes.”

      “It’s good to have you back.” Ash said.

      “It’s good to be back.”
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      Old February 17th, 2018 (9:05 AM).
      BZRich64's Avatar
      BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
      The Mustachioed Machamp
         
        Join Date: Apr 2013
        Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
        Age: 23
        Gender: Male
        Nature: Quiet
        Posts: 145
        Chapter 26
        Spoiler:
        The crowd waiting to get on the S.S. Anne was a big one. Hundreds if not thousands of people were waiting on the dock of Vermilion Harbor where the famous luxury liner was going to set sail from. Red and Yellow were waiting among the crowd for Daisy to meet up with them.

        “Hey, guys!” She called out as they came into her view. “I’m sorry I’m late.”

        “It’s no problem.” Red said as Daisy reached them.

        “So you managed to get a ticket?” Yellow asked.

        “Yeah. I had to call my dad and have him order me one, but I did manage to get it.”

        The three continued chatting for a bit until they were interrupted by an unexpected group of visitors.

        “And here I thought this was supposed to be a private cruise. But I guess this is just open for any old losers to show up.”

        “Hey, Kat! Good to see you.” Daisy ignored her brother’s sarcastic remark and greeted her cousin instead.

        “Good to see you, too. How’s life been for you?”

        “Don’t just ignore me!” Gary shouted angrily.

        “Then maybe you should give us a reason to pay attention to you.”

        Gary was about to retaliate with an insult towards his sister when suddenly someone ran into them and they both fell to the ground.

        “Hey! Watch where you’re going… Ash?”

        Gary looked up at his old friend-turned-rival in surprise.

        “I thought I heard your voice.” Ash said.

        “Wow, I guess the gang’s all here.” Daisy remarked enthusiastically. “What are the odds?”

        “Yes.” Carmine grumbled. “It seems almost a bit too coincidental. I feel like at any moment now a certain someone is going to turn up and tell us Team Rocket is here.”

        “You’re intuition serves you well.” Everyone was startled by the sudden appearance of Looker. “But the time to speak of our current problem has not yet come. We will discuss things when we get to the privacy of our cabins.”

        And just like that, Looker disappeared back into the crowd as quickly as he had shown up.

        “Who was that?” Red asked.

        “Didn’t Team Rocket disband years ago?” It was Gary’s turn to ask questions now. “Why would they be here?”

        “It’s a long story.” Ash answered. “And it looks like we’re all probably going to have to catch each other up on what’s been going on later, so we might as well wait until then before we start talking about it.”
        Just then, the crowd suddenly started moving as the S.S. Anne opened up for passengers to board it. The group went along with the crowd onto the luxurious ship and made their way to their rooms. They were all stationed on the same deck along with Looker and his team as well as a few other people.

        * * *

        “Come on, Charmander. You need to get up.” Bulbasaur tried to nudge the Fire-type onto his feet.

        “No.” A crying Charmander insisted. “You heard Damian. I’m worthless, I don’t deserve to do anything but sit down and wait for the end.”

        “We all know that’s not what he said!” Squirtle yelled at Charmander with ferocity to his speech. “And besides that, he’s wrong. You are strong and you have the potential to be far stronger than your former trainer could have ever hoped for you to be. I see what you can become. One day you will be a Charizard, revered by everyone as one of the strongest and most courageous Pokémon of the Kanto region. The humans use your species and your evolutions as a symbol of power and a national icon.”

        “Really?” Charmander asked in amazement as he finally stopped crying.

        “Yes, and I know exactly how we are going to prove that you are better than him.”

        “How?” Both Charmander and Bulbasaur asked.

        “Damian wants to take on the league challenge by earning eight Gym Badges and entering the Pokémon League, right?”

        Charmander nodded.

        “Then all we have to do is earn eight Badges ourselves and beat him in the League.”

        The others just started at Squirtle in confusion.

        “What are you talking about?” Bulbasaur finally asked. “We can’t do that. Only humans can enter the league.”

        “I admit that I haven’t figured out all the details of how we’ll pull this off yet. But I’m confident that if we work towards this goal, anything will be possible.”

        * * *

        Ash, Brock, Carmine, Misty, Red, Yellow, Daisy, Gary and his cheerleaders all sat around Looker’s room along with Looker himself, Lance, 009, Wes and Rui. Having 19 people in a room meant to only have 5 at the most was a very tight fit. They had just finished catching each other up on what had happened to each other since the four trainers had left Pallet Town.

        “So, why are you here, anyway?” Ash asked Looker. “Is Team Rocket here?”

        “We have heard from a reliable source that several of Team Rocket’s highest ranking agents are hidden somewhere on this ship. They are planning to steal all of the Pokémon on the ship before we make land again.”

        “That’s terrible.” Daisy said.

        “Ja, that’s why we need to stop them.” Looker continued. “And I would ask that all of you look for suspicious behavior in the other passengers and report anything out of the ordinary to us. Now, I believe that is all that must be discussed for now. You may now leave to do whatever it is you wish to do. If we need to speak to any of you again, we will contact you.”

        As the trainers and their traveling companions left the room, Red and Yellow approached Carmine.

        “There’s something I wanted to ask you.” Red said.

        “What?”

        “When we were talking to Bill up at Cerulean Cape, he showed us a video of a news report from when a giant, Black Tyranitar attacked in Johto. The video cut out just as two trainers rushed up to fight it.”

        “So?”

        “The two trainers were you and Mr. Ketchum.”

        “Wait, what?” Ash was startled to overhear that.

        “That was a long time ago.” Carmine said. “What did you want to ask?”

        “How did the battle go? What happened?”

        “We beat it, obviously.”

        “But how? That thing was huge and extremely powerful. What happened to it after that?”

        “That’s not really something I feel like talking about right now.” Carmine turned to walk away and nearly walked right into Kat.

        “Hey, I couldn’t help but overhear that you’re a strong trainer.”

        “And?”

        “Would you mind having a battle with me?”

        Carmine put his hand up to his face and sighed.

        “Why did I agree to come here.” He put his hand back down and looked Kat in the eyes. “Fine. I heard that there are some places to battle up top. Let’s get this over with.”

        * * *

        Meanwhile, three decks above, Team Rocket were having a meeting of their own.

        “So we’ve all got our cover stories straight, right?” Attila asked his fellow agents.

        “James and I are a married couple enjoying our anniversary. We can’t have kids on our own, so we have Meowth as a surrogate. We’ve also never met any of you before, we just happen to be on the same floor as you.” Jessie said.

        “And I’m just a normal Meowth, so noes talking or walking around on my hind legs while I’m in public.” Meowth added.

        “Oakley and I are newlyweds on our honeymoon.” Said Hun.

        “And we’re also on our honeymoon.” Annie gestured towards Attila as she spoke. “Oakley and I are sisters like in real life and you two are close friends from childhood, so we all know each other and specifically wanted to have a shared honeymoon.”

        “And you?” Attila looked towards Hunter J, sitting in the corner of the room stoking the Zorua in her lap as usual. The small fox Pokémon seemed more relaxed than normal, almost like it could feel a familiar presence somewhere on the ship.

        “I don’t really care. I’m just here to enjoy myself and make sure things don’t fall completely to pieces for you.”

        Attila stared angrily at her.

        “What do you care, anyway? I’m not even a part of Team Rocket, I’m just a mercenary. Even if someone notices me, they can’t connect it back to you. And make no mistake; I have no intention of being found out.”

        “Fine. That’s good enough, I suppose. Just keep a low profile.”

        Jessie, James, Meowth left the room together. After waiting a few minutes, Attila and Hun left as well, leaving Annie and Oakley alone with Hunter J.

        “So girls,” Hunter J said, “I have something I want to talk to you about.”
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        Old February 18th, 2018 (9:58 AM).
        BZRich64's Avatar
        BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
        The Mustachioed Machamp
           
          Join Date: Apr 2013
          Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
          Age: 23
          Gender: Male
          Nature: Quiet
          Posts: 145
          Chapter 27
          Spoiler:
          “So how do you want this?” Carmine asked to the woman that had challenged him to battle. The whole group had moved up to the top deck where several battle fields were drawn out for passengers to fight.

          “How about a single battle, six-on-six.” Kat suggested.

          “No good.” Carmine replied. “I don’t have six Pokémon on me that I can use here, and I don’t want it to take that long. How about a four-on-four double battle?”

          “Sounds good.” Kat pulled out two of her Pokéballs and held them up. “Let’s get this battle started!”

          Kat called out her Beedrill and Exeggcutor, while Carmine sent out a Crobat and an Ursaring. Without hesitation, both trainers started calling orders to their Pokémon.

          “Beedrill, Focus Energy! Exeggutor, use Egg Bomb on Crobat!”

          “Crobat, use Double Team. Ursaring, hit the walking palm tree with a Feint Attack.”

          Crobat created several illusory copies of itself, while Exeggutor tried pelting it with eggs, but the attack missed and hit the copies instead. During this time, Beedrill was storing up energy for its next attack, while Ursaring faded into nothing, leaving only the yellow ring on its belly visible before rushing up and striking Exeggutor. The Coconut Pokémon found itself, knocked down to the ground and pelted by Crobat’s Air Slash attack.

          Beedrill stabbed one of its stingers into Ursaring with a Poison Jab that left the Pokémon staggering back and poisoned. Unfortunately for Beedrill, Ursaring’s Guts ability made it so that she was now even stronger due to the status condition. The Hibernating Pokémon struck Beedrill with a Slash that send it hurtling towards the ground.

          Exeggutor managed to launch another Egg Bomb through Crobat’s Air Slash, disrupting the move long enough to get back up and whack the Bat Pokémon with its head in a Hood Hammer attack, knocking it down. Exeggcutor used Hood Hammer on Crobat again while Ursaring hit Beedrill with a Hammer Arm, leaving both Pokémon knocked out.

          Carmine and Kat swapped out their fainted Pokémon with a Scizor and Nidoqueen, respectively. Nidoqueen fired a Hyper Beam at Ursaring, who tried to counter with its own Hyper Beam, but was too slow and was knocked out by the attack. Meanwhile, Scizor used Swords Dance to heighten its offensive capabilities and Exeggutor used Trick Room.

          As Carmine sent out his final Pokémon, Feraligatr, the entire field was suddenly filled with a maze of feint purple walls that were almost invisible, yet very real. Scizor tried to use Quick Attack on Exeggutor, but instead crashed into one of the walls, opening itself up to be hit by Exeggutor’s Wood Hammer. After being hit by the attack, Scizor was able to strike Exeggutor with its own X-Scissor attack, knocking the Coconut Pokémon unconscious.

          Kat called in her final Pokémon, the Charizard she had received when she had first started her Pokémon Journey. Charizard was able to pass through the Trick Room maze to enter the battle, but once it was out of its Pokéball, it became trapped inside with the others.

          Carmine’s Scizor and Feraligatr were able to hit Kat’s Nidoqueen with an Iron Head and an Ice Fang while it recovered from the energy loss of its earlier Hyper Beam. Nidoqueen collapsed as Charizard came in and used Flamethrower on Scizor, knocking it out as well.

          “It looks like we’re both down to only one Pokémon left.” Carmine said. “I must admit, you’re doing better than I thought you would. Both of our remaining Pokémon are still fresh, but mine has the type advantage, so it’s clear who’s going to win this.”

          “Don’t be so sure of that.” Kat smiled as she spoke. “Charizard! Use Thunder Punch!”

          Charizard drew back its fist, which became engulfed in an electrical charge.

          “Quick! Ice Punch!” Carmine was almost beginning to panic.

          Feraligatr drew back its own fist now, the air around it beginning to freeze. The two Pokémon struck each other at the same time. There was a short pause as the two Pokémon locked eyes, with each other’s fists pushing against the other’s cheeks. Then, they both hit each other, using the same attacks with their other hands. The two continued to stare at each other for a moment as they stood there, until finally they both collapsed and the Trick Room dissolved around them.

          “I guess it’s a tie.” Kat said flatly as she withdrew her Charizard into its Pokéball. “That doesn’t happen often.”

          “It’s been a long time since anyone besides Graham has been able to match up against me.” Carmine did the same with his Feraligatr. “A very long time. Either I’ve gotten rusty or you’ve got to be the best trainer of your generation. Probably the first option.”

          * * *

          Attila and Hun made their way to the top deck of the S.S. Anne to observe some of the other passengers for reconnaissance. They both casually leaned against the railing overlooking the next deck while facing opposite directions. Hun overlooked the lower deck while Attila watched the deck they were on.

          “What do you think is taking our ‘brides’ so long to get here?” Hun asked his stoic partner, who didn’t answer him. Hun turned to look at Attila and noticed that he was staring intently at someone in the crowd on the opposite end of the deck. Hun looked over to see who got his attention and first noticed a familiar hat. “That’s the boy from Mt. Moon isn’t it?”

          “Of course it is.” Attila growled.

          “This isn’t going to be a problem, is it?”

          “Why would it. If anything, steeling that son of a Growlithe’s Pokémon is going to make this far more enjoyable. I may just keep that Charmander of his for myself just to spite him.”

          “You’re a very vengeful person, Attila. All he did was try to stand up to you. You would have flattened him in an instant if we hadn’t been called away.”

          “Exactly. I should have beaten him there, but I didn’t. That’s what needs to be fixed.”

          Before the two could continue their conversation, Annie and Oakley finally arrived. The two were smiling about something as they walked up the stairs to where Attila and Hun were waiting.

          “What took you so long?” Hun asked the girls.

          “Oh, nothing.” Oakley said.

          “Anything to report?” Asked Annie.

          “Well, there’s-” Hun started to say before Attila cut him off.

          “Nothing. There’s nothing to report yet. Everything’s going smoothly so far.”

          * * *

          “What do you want?” Gary asked Ash, who had just walked up to him after the battle between Carmine and Kat.

          “I want to see how far we’ve come since we all started.” Ash pointed dramatically at Gary. “And so, I challenge you to a battle!”

          “No, thanks.” Gary said smugly as he turned away. “I don’t really feel like a battle now, maybe tomorrow. It’s not like we don’t have plenty of time.”

          “Wait, how long does this cruise last anyway?” Ash wondered aloud.

          Gary shot a strange look at Ash. “You really need to pay more attention to these things. Although, I guess you’ve always been like this, haven’t you.”

          “What’s that supposed to mean?”

          “I’ll let you figure that out on your own. But yeah, we’ll be getting off back in Vermillion in a little over three weeks. Twenty-five days, to be exact.”

          “Three weeks?” Ash began to panic. “I didn’t think this would even last one week! I’m going to fall behind everyone at this rate!”

          “Fall behind who?” Gary asked. “We’re all on here with you. Or have you picked up some new rivals since you left Pallet that you didn’t mention earlier?”

          “Oh, right. I guess you are all here. I got carried away for a moment- Ow!” Ash’s sentence got cut off as one of the other passengers bumped into him.

          “Oh, I’m so terribly sorry.” The woman said. She was a tall woman, who at first appeared to be rather heavyset but on closer inspection that was due to the heavy fur coat she was wearing that obscured her actual body shape. She had long, bushy black hair with red-dyed tips and her eyes were a strikingly light blue. “Are you alright?”

          “Yeah, I’m fine.” Ash said as he looked up to see the woman. “Are you?”

          “Of course, why wouldn’t I be?”

          “I don’t know. Something just seems… off about you.”

          The woman looked down on him with disdain. “How rude. Kids these days have no respect for there elders.”

          “Sorry, Ma’am. I didn’t mean to be rude. You just feel like…” Ash tried to find the right way to described the feeling. “Like you lost something, I guess.”

          “Ma’am? Do you have any idea who I am? I am…” The woman suddenly lost all of her anger. “You may call me Madame Darhk. As it happens I have lost something very dear to me which I’m currently looking to find. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to continue my search.”

          “I hope she finds whatever she’s looking for.” Ash said as Madame Darhk walked away.

          “You’ve always been good at making friends with strangers.”

          Ash didn’t realize that Gary was still there and gave a huge jump of surprise when his rival spoke up.

          “What?” Gary asked.
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          Old February 19th, 2018 (8:17 AM).
          BZRich64's Avatar
          BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
          The Mustachioed Machamp
             
            Join Date: Apr 2013
            Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
            Age: 23
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            Nature: Quiet
            Posts: 145
            Chapter 28
            Spoiler:
            Ash entered an elevator and pressed the button for go down to the deck his room was on. After Gary turned down his challenge, he wasn’t really sure what to do. He was also learning that having both Pika and Volty rest on his shoulders was tiring and probably not good for his neck. As he waited for the doors to shut, a familiar girl walked in behind him.

            “Hey, Misty.” Ash greeted the Cerulean Gym Leader. “Where are you headed?”

            “I want to find someplace to eat. How about you?”

            “I don’t really know.” Ash shrugged. “I’m not really sure what to do right now.”

            “Then why don’t you come with me?” Suggested Misty. “We can eat together.”

            Ash hesitated to answer at first, put Pika gestured that he wanted to go eat and Volty hopped off his shoulder over to Misty’s.

            “Well, I guess if these two want to go, I might as well.” Ash chuckled.

            The doors closed and Ash and Misty tried to decide what kind of food they were in the mood for. They couldn’t really agree on anything before the elevator stopped and the doors opened, so they went to find a map with the various dining facilities available on the ship and their locations. After studying their options carefully, Ash finally pointed to a spot not far from where they were.

            “How does this place sound?” He asked Misty.

            “As good as anything, I guess. Come on, let’s get going.”

            * * *

            The Surfing Snorlax was an outdoor café on the S.S. Anne. Sitting at a small, two-person table were Wes and Rui, who had just finished having an early dinner together and were now discussing their current events.

            “So, that ‘aura’ ability you have. That’s what let you identify Shadow Pokémon back when we were going up against Team Cipher, right?” Wes asked his vaguely mysterious partner.

            “That’s right.” Rui Confirmed.

            “And you say that your powers are even stronger now…”

            “Where are you going with this?” Rui asked her companion.

            “So, if your powers are as developed as I understand them to be, then could you just be able to sense who here are members of Team Rocket so that we can go after them right away?”

            “I’m afraid I can’t. My powers aren’t quite to that level yet, and an aura only reflects someone’s nature, not necessarily everything that they do.”

            “Well, it was worth a shot, I guess.”

            The two sat in silence as they watched Ash and Misty sit down at a table on the other end of the café and order a meal.

            “They remind me a little of us.” Rui mused.

            “A daring trainer and his annoying redheaded companion?”

            Rui gave Wes a light punch in the arm in response to his joke.

            “Okay, okay. So you’re not that annoying. But what do you mean?”

            “Well…” Rui began. “I can’t really put it into words very well. The ability to see aura is in many ways an extra sense that most people don’t have. And like the other senses, it can’t really be described to someone with no frame of reference for it.”

            “Try.” Wes urged Rui.

            “Well, their auras are a similar frequency to ours. Although there also a bit different.”

            “What do you mean by frequency?”

            “I’d need to start with the basics to really explain it. Every person and Pokémon has an aura. Each individual’s aura has a unique pattern to it that only they have, but they can have similar auras to each other. Normally, people who have a similar aura are able to get along really well because that makes it easier for it to connect to each other, and it also allows some humans and Pokémon to bond more easily than others. Take that boy and his Pikachu for example; they both have an almost identical aura and seem to be like the best of friends, even though according to our records they haven’t known each other very well.”

            “So, does that mean I have a similar aura to that Pikachu as well?” Asked Wes.

            “Well, no.” Rui said. “As I mentioned, it’s hard to describe. Auras are primarily marked by a few aspects, the most commonly accepted terms for which are frequency and affinity. Frequency is the unique wavelength which identifies each individual’s aura and is unique to that person. Kind of like a fingerprint. You and the boy have similar frequencies, as do I with the girl. An affinity is more like what the aura looks and feels like, and is a bit harder to describe how it works. That boy and his Pikachu have yellow, electrified auras that bond well together, while you’re more of a metallic silver aura. That girl’s aura is a watery blue, while mine is sort of a wavy light purple.”

            “So, an aura’s affinity basically amounts to a color and an element?” Wes guessed.

            “I guess that’s one way of putting it. Although it’s not quite that simple.”

            “Of course it isn’t.”

            “I was heavily simplifying my descriptions of them. For example, that girl’s aura isn’t really just like water. It’s really more like a river. But then there are other people have ‘water’ auras that are more like rain, or an ocean.”

            “You’re right, this is complicated. Why don’t we move on to something else?”

            “I was thinking we should probably be heading back to check in with Looker.” Rui said. “It’s getting late and the sun’s already setting.”

            * * *

            Red, Yellow and Daisy had decided to call it a day and head back to their rooms, but before they called it a night, Red and Daisy wanted to do some planning for what to do when they got back to Vermilion.
            The tickets Bill had given Red and Yellow were for a single room, and Daisy managed to get the next room over, so Red and Daisy decided to swap so that the girls could share a room, the one the three were in now, while Red was on his own next door.

            The two trainers sat beside each other on Daisy’s bed with a map sprawled out in front of them, while Yellow played with her Magikarp. Maggie was swimming around a large fish tank built into the far side of the room along with Daisy’s Poliwag. The two Water-type Pokémon were chasing after Yellow’s hand which she was moving along the outside of the glass.

            “So when we get back to Vermilion, we should go north up Saffron.” Red said.

            “But I haven’t challenged Surge yet. And what if Saffron City’s still closed?” Daisy pointed out.

            “Okay, then we’ll stay in Vermilion for a day so you can get your next Gym Badge, but there’s no way an entire city will be closed off for that long.”

            “A city shouldn’t be closed like that in the first place. What do you think is going on there.”

            “I don’t know.” Red shrugged. “Maybe a gas leak or something?”

            “Bad things are happening in Saffron.” Red and Daisy both looked over at Yellow as she spoke unexpectedly. “We won’t be able to go there anytime soon. Not that we should try.”

            “What do you mean?” Daisy asked the younger girl.

            “I don’t know exactly. It’s just a feeling.” Yellow then turned back to continue playing with Maggie and Poliwag.

            “I guess we’ll head east to Lavender Town then.” Red said, still looking uneasily at Yellow. “Then we can go south and make our way around to Fuchsia, maybe see if we can take a ship over to some of the islands down there.”

            “I guess that sounds like a plan.” Daisy said. “See you in the morning then.”

            Red left the girls’ room to head to his own. As he walked to his room, he felt like he was being watched. He turned around to see what it was and got a glimpse of movement at the far end of the hallway.

            “Probably nothing.” Red tried to reassure himself. “Just another passenger heading off to call it a night.”

            Despite that, he still felt uneasy as he opened the door and entered his room. Even as he got ready for bed, something was nagging at him from the back of his mind. He knew that Team Rocket were aboard the ship, but could the two members he encountered back in Mt. Moon be among them?
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            Old February 19th, 2018 (9:29 AM). Edited February 19th, 2018 by Cavespider_17.
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            Cavespider_17 Cavespider_17 is offline
            Charlie
               
              Join Date: May 2017
              Location: U.K or D.K depending on where you politically stand.
              Gender: Female
              Nature: Serious
              Posts: 60
              Chapter 1- Review
              Spoiler:


              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post

              And now, almost four decades later I can still remember that day as if it just happened.
              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
              And so, without further ado
              Grammatically, seldom use conjunctives at the start of a sentence, elsewise they can lose their powerful effect. Also, I assume you are basing this version of Oak off of the games at this point, and not the manga or anime. If it is the version from the anime you have to be careful, since it is stated he has poor memory.

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
              Trainers-to-be were sitting
              This should be “trainers-to-be”, unless you are assigning it as a title, or a rank, or titled-job.

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
              Well I guess we'll just save him for last and hope he shows up
              This sentence doesn’t quite make sense. Is it Ash being saved? Or a Pokémon? If it is Ash you need to change “for” to “until”, if it is a Pokémon, you need to add “a Pokémon” or “one” into the sentence.

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
              and did as the others.
              This sounds a tiny bit awkward, rephrasing it or adding to it might help.

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
              Grass-type Bulbasaur; Gary, you have chosen the Water-type Squirtle
              Correct use of semi colon 
              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
              Water-type Squirtle; and Samuel,
              Incorrect use of semi colon. With a semi colon, as a list, you either have “and” or “;”, having both isn’t correct. If it is as a sentence break, both sides of the semi colon need to make sense on their own.
              I brought my umbrella just in case it rained; it was raining hard.
              I brought my umbrella just in case it rained. It was raining hard.
              I brought my umbrella just in case it rained and it was raining hard.

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
              of sting
              You are missing the indefinite article here.
              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
              What?!"
              Interabang required. “‽”

              Summary:
              ֎ Overall the story seemed to make mostly logical sense, however, my question about Oak’s memory is still important in regard to canon.
              ֎ Grammatically, as it went on the grammar mistakes were more or less far and few between, however, I would check through your semi-colon and conjunctive usage.
              ֎ Plot wise, the story is so far reasonably true to canon/parallel in regards to the anime, with some extended sections, which does add to the overall interest created in the text.

              ֎ In regards to new paragraphs, I would add an extra space between each, as it currently is quite hard to detect when a new paragraph has been started.
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                #32   Link to this post, but load the entire thread.  
              Old February 19th, 2018 (9:30 AM).
              Cavespider_17's Avatar
              Cavespider_17 Cavespider_17 is offline
              Charlie
                 
                Join Date: May 2017
                Location: U.K or D.K depending on where you politically stand.
                Gender: Female
                Nature: Serious
                Posts: 60
                Chapter 28- Review

                Spoiler:

                Quote:
                Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
                button for go down
                Should be “to go down”


                Quote:
                Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
                Chapter 28
                Although there also a bit different.
                Should be “they’re”
                Quote:
                Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
                Chapter 28
                even though according to our records they haven’t known each other very well
                This sentence comes across quite awkwardly. I would reword it.

                Quote:
                Originally Posted by Glitch the Lifehacker View Post
                Chapter 28
                going on there.”
                Should be “going on there?”


                Summary:
                ֎ Overall the short interaction between the characters
                ֎ Some grammar mistakes, particularly with shortened words.
                ֎ Logic wise, everything made sense and functioned.
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                Old February 20th, 2018 (9:13 AM).
                BZRich64's Avatar
                BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                The Mustachioed Machamp
                   
                  Join Date: Apr 2013
                  Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                  Age: 23
                  Gender: Male
                  Nature: Quiet
                  Posts: 145
                  Chapter 29
                  Spoiler:
                  Looker gazed towards the sunrise as dawn arrived on the first full day of the S.S. Anne. As he watched the sun slowly make its way into the sky, Looker pondered over what had brought him to this moment. Several high ranking agents of Team Rocket were somewhere aboard the ship, planning to kidnap every Pokémon aboard. All because the International Police had not properly taken care of the old Team Rocket five years ago, allowing them to reform now.

                  Looker had been a part of the team sent in to take down Team Rocket. It was his first mission as an agent for the International Police and he had been serving under his mentor, Agent Adonis, who had taken Looker under his wing ever since he first joined the International Police.

                  Looker turned around to face some of the other passengers walking by, on their way to either take in the view or find a good spot to get breakfast. Among the group, Looker spotted the trainer known as Red and the young girl known as Yellow. According to what they said yesterday, and confirmed by Misty, Yellow had apparently been fished up from a stream with no memories and wasn’t even sure if that was her real name. Looker felt he could relate to the girl’s plight. After all, he had been in similar circumstances once, years ago.

                  As the crowd moved, Looker spotted Lance talking to a tall, red-haired woman and decided to walk up to them. As he approached the two, Lance noticed him and called Looker over.

                  “Hey, Looker, good timing. I wanted to introduce you to Lorelei here.”

                  “So, you’re Looker.” The woman said. “Lance was just filling me in about you and this whole ‘Team Rocket’ thing going on.”

                  “Was he now?” Looker gave Lance an aside glare.

                  “It’s alright.” Lance tried to reassure him. “You can trust her; she’s one of my fellow Elite Four members.”

                  “The Elite Four.” Looker mumbled. “I have heard that term before, but what does it mean?”

                  “The Elite Four once served as the last challenges a trainer had to face before they could take on the League Champion.” Lance started to explain.

                  “But when the Pokémon League switched over to the current tournament system, we were repurposed as Gym Leaders.” Lorelei continued his explanation. “But we retained our old titles and we serve as leadership council of sorts within the League. We facilitate the various meetings with the League as well as make important decisions such as opening new Gyms. The status also offers other perks, such as being privy to the goings-on within the region and helping to stop potential threats such as the one we’re facing now.”

                  “Hm.” Looker closed his eyes and nodded slightly. “I suppose that would make sense as to why Lance would let you in on this. I’ll let you do whatever you want to help. Although I would appreciate it, Lance, if you would let me know before you bring others into our inner circle.”

                  “Yeah, sorry about that. I do want to let the other two Elite Four members in on this, just to give you a heads up on that.”

                  “Fine.”

                  “By the way…” Lance started to say. “I wanted to ask you something. When you first got here, it seemed like you had some kind of an accent and your speech was a bit off, but you don’t seem to have it anymore.”

                  “Da.” Looker nodded again. “This is not my native tongue and it took me a while to readjust to speaking this language. Now that I’ve had some time, the lessons I’ve learned about how to speak it properly have returned to me.”

                  Lorelei cleared her throat to draw the others’ attention back to her. “So, Lance told me that you’ve been letting civilians into this little operation of yours.”

                  “Da, er, yes. Several trainers have gotten involved in skirmishes with Team Rocket, and I felt it only fair that they know what is going on. There are also two other Gym Leaders among them.”

                  “Yeah, that’s what Lance told me. Misty and Brock, right? Those two sure are interesting.”

                  “What do you mean?” Looker asked.

                  “Those two are both the youngest Gym Leaders in the region right now, and yet they’re able to keep up with the others perfectly. Within a few years, they’ll probably be on par with us in the Elite Four. Of course, Misty owes the majority of her success to being my protégé. I’ve taught her almost everything she knows. I’ve also heard that Bruno trained Brock as well. Those two will probably end up succeeding us when we eventually retire.”

                  “And why are you telling me this?”

                  “I thought you wanted to know?”

                  “No.” Looker shook his head. “I have little interest in the inner workings of the Pokémon League. My primary concern is Team Rocket.” He paused for a moment, then added, “And if we are to continue this conversation, we should do so in private.”

                  “Suit yourself.” Lorelei shrugged as the three walked back to the room Looker had made into a makeshift base on the ship.

                  * * *

                  Daisy was hurriedly walking through the hallway to an elevator. Red and Yellow had already gone ahead to get breakfast, and she wanted to catch up to them. As she turned the corner, she was stopped by an elderly man with a thick mustache, wearing a dark blue suit and matching bowler hat.

                  “Excuse me.” The man sounded rather desperate. Like he was trying his hardest not to panic. “I need your help. My granddaughter has gone missing and I can’t find her anywhere.”

                  “I’ll help in any way I can.” Daisy said without any hesitation.

                  “Thank you so much.” The man said gratefully. “She slipped away from me because she wanted to play, but my old legs just can’t go as fast as they used to. If she managed to make her way to the elevator, she could be just about anywhere on the ship by this point.”

                  “Have you tried asking someone to put out an alert or something to get a search going?” Daisy asked helpfully.

                  “I haven’t seen anyone else since I lost her. I had just finished searching this floor when I ran into you.”

                  Daisy started to walk towards the elevator behind the man and gestured for him to follow her. “Then let’s go see the captain. If anyone can help you find your granddaughter, it would be him. He should be able to call an alert or something to get the crew searching.”

                  “Yes.” The man said. “That sounds like a good idea. The best idea, really. Thank Arceus you arrived when you did, I was just about to lose hope in being able to find her if she’s lost on a huge ship like this. Now, let’s get going.”

                  * * *

                  Jessie and James were at the Surfing Snorlax, sitting at a table overlooking the lower deck so that they could observe the people down below. Meowth was curled up beneath the table and pretending to take a nap.

                  “So, when are we actually going to get started?” James asked quietly.

                  “Start what?” Jessie responded.

                  “The mission.” Was James’ answer. “Just sitting around like this isn’t going to do anything.”

                  “Attila said that we needed to do a lot of reconnaissance to see what it is we actually need to do. It will probably only be a few days. Why are you asking?”

                  A waiter walked over and handed the pair the drinks they had ordered when they first got there a few minutes ago.

                  “I’m not sure.” James took a sip of his warm beverage. “I just can’t help shake this uneasy feeling, like something’s about to happen. What happens if we fail the mission? What will-”

                  Before James could blurt out any sensitive information, Meowth reached over and scratched at his ankle, pretending to stretch. James bit back a yelp and kept his mouth shut for the remainder of their stay at the café, except to continue drinking. After they had finished their drink’s Jessie and James got up and left, with Meowth trailing behind them. The feline Pokémon was having trouble walking on all four of his legs like a normal Meowth would, because he had grown so used to walking on only his hind legs like a human. It had taken him years to learn how to walk like that, and reverting to his natural stance after so long felt wrong to him.
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                  Old February 21st, 2018 (7:38 AM).
                  BZRich64's Avatar
                  BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                  The Mustachioed Machamp
                     
                    Join Date: Apr 2013
                    Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                    Age: 23
                    Gender: Male
                    Nature: Quiet
                    Posts: 145
                    Chapter 30
                    Spoiler:
                    Ash made his way to the battling area on the top decks of the S.S. Anne. Gary may have turned down his challenge yesterday, but Ash was determined to get a battle. As he climbed up the stairs, he looked around to find someone that looked like they could offer him a good fight. To Ash’s surprise, the ‘battle deck’ as it was known, was almost completely empty. There was a battle going on at the far end, with a few spectators watching, and a few people looking at the ocean view over the railings, but they didn’t seem like trainers. Ash turned around in disappointment, but then saw Red coming up the staircase behind him.

                    “Hey, Ash!” Red called up to him. “You looking for a good training match too?”

                    “Yeah.” Ash answered. “But there’s no one here.”

                    “Then I guess we’ll just have to fight each other.” Red said as he caught up to Ash at the top of the stairs.

                    “You’re on! Let’s do this!”

                    “Alright, then let’s get ready.”

                    * * *

                    After Red and Yellow finally gave up on waiting for Daisy to join them for breakfast like they had planned, Red decided to go up to get some practice in for Pokémon battling. Yellow wasn’t really interested in watching him fight right now though, so Red dropped her off at her room so that she could play with her Pokémon, Maggie and Abraham.

                    Yellow was currently trying to teach Maggie how to do some tricks but to no avail. Meanwhile, Abraham sat in the corner of the room, fast asleep in the chair that Red had been sitting in last night.

                    “Come on, do it like this.” Yellow straightened out her arms and legs while lying on her bed and rolled across it. “Now it’s your turn.”

                    Maggie tilted to one side and then the other before straightening back up again.

                    “No, Maggie. I want you to roll over.” Yellow complained as she sat back up. “It’s really easy to- whoa!”

                    Yellow practically fell off the bed as Abraham suddenly appeared next to her. The Abra held up his right hand, which began to glow purple. Maggie became enveloped in a similar glow and was spun around the way Yellow was trying to get her to roll over before the glow vanished from both Pokémon and Abraham Teleported back to the chair in the corner of the room.

                    “See, Maggie!” Yellow told the Fish Pokémon. “If Abraham can figure out how to make you do it in his sleep, then you should be able to do it easily.

                    Maggie tried to roll over again, but again, only swayed to one side and back up again.

                    “Seriously, Maggie, this should be so simple.”

                    * * *

                    Ash and Red stared each other down from opposite ends of the field drawn onto the battle deck’s floor. Between the two trainers, their Pokémon faced each other as well.

                    “Sandshrew!” Ash called out. “Use Poison Sting!”

                    Sandshrew rushed at its opponent and jabbed it in the face with his claw, inflicting the opposing Pokémon with Poison.

                    “Paras!” Red called out to his own Pokémon. “Counter that with Poison Powder!”

                    Paras sent out a wave of the poisonous powder from the mushroom on its back and inflicted Sandshrew with the status condition as well. With both Pokémon now poisoned, Sandshrew jumped back and swung one of its claws in front of itself, sending out white star-shaped projectiles. Paras tried to dodge, but the Swift attack turned around in midair to hit it. Not letting its opponent get a hit in, Sandshrew ran up close and clawed wildly at his opponent with Fury Swipes.

                    “Paras! Fury Cutter!”

                    The Bug-type struck Sandshrew with its claw. Sandshrew used Defense Curl to brace itself for the next hit, and Paras used Fury Cutter again.

                    “This is your chance Sandshrew!” Ash cheered his Pokémon on. “You know what to do next!”

                    The Mouse Pokémon spun forward in a Rollout attack and ran into Paras. Paras turned to face its opponent again, but Sandshrew curved back around and ran into Paras a second time. Paras tried to use Absorb to weaken Sandshrew, but it was no use as Sandshrew struck Paras again, this time knocking it out.

                    “Good match.” Red said as he returned his fainted Pokémon to its Pokéball. “I honestly wasn’t expecting you to win with a type disadvantage.”

                    “Well, I guess I’ve just improved a lot. I guess I have Carmine to thank for that since he’s the one who actually got me to start training for this kind of thing.”

                    “Yeah, traveling with an experienced trainer does give you kind of an advantage. Not to mention two Gym Leaders. I have to make do by figuring things out on my own.”

                    “I kind of feel bad about it.”

                    “Don’t.” Red reassured Ash. “It’s your duty as a Pokémon Trainer to use every resource at your disposal. That includes the help of those with more experience than yourself.”

                    The two friends walked up to each other and shook hands. After a long silence, Red finally spoke up.

                    “By the way, you haven’t heard anything from back home recently, have you?”

                    “No, why?”

                    “I just haven’t checked back in since I left. I’m starting to wonder if there’s anything going on back home.”

                    “Well, I haven’t called my mom or anything, either. In fact, she’s probably getting worried about me.”

                    * * *

                    Daisy and the older man she was helping approached the entrance leading to the Captain’s quarters. No one was outside, so Daisy knocked on the door as she walked up to it and a voice came from inside telling them to come in. Daisy opened the door and the two stepped inside the room.

                    Daisy was caught off guard by how sparse the room seemed. Aside from a large bookshelf in the far corner from the door and a desk directly across from when she was now standing, there was barely anything in it besides a couple chairs and some sea charts and pictures hung up along the walls. The captain sat at his desk, looking over some papers.

                    “Can I help you with something?” The captain asked as he looked up at the two walking in.

                    “Yes, I have a problem.” The old man said. “My granddaughter ran off and now I can’t find her anywhere.”

                    “Well, that is good timing. You see, I was just about to make an announcement that a girl had just been found. I would assume she’s your missing granddaughter.” The captain pointed over to the wall opposite him, where a young girl was napping in a chair. “She wandered over here and promptly fell asleep before she could tell me where she came from.”

                    “That’s my granddaughter alright.” The old man said with a sigh of relief as he walked over to pick the girl up. “She’s always so energetic that she tends to wear herself out quickly. Thank you, both.”

                    The man nodded before walking back out of the room, leaving Daisy alone with the captain.

                    “And what about you?” The captain asked her.

                    “Oh, nothing. I was just trying to help him find his granddaughter.” Daisy responded. “Thanks for helping him out, I guess I’ll be going now.”

                    “Hold on a moment.” The captain said as she turned around to leave. “You are a Pokémon trainer, are you not?”

                    “Yes.” Daisy said hesitantly. She still hadn’t quite figured out how people always seemed to tell that right away, just from a glance.

                    “You wouldn’t happen to be interested in teaching one of your Pokémon how to cut down trees, would you?”

                    “I’ve never even thought about that.” Daisy answered honestly. “Why?”

                    “I may not look it now, but back in my day I was known as the “Cut Master”. I was renowned for my ability to train Pokémon how to use the move Cut to chop down trees, whether it be to make logging easier or ever just to clear a path blocked by overgrown foliage. If you want, I can teach your Pokémon how to use the move Cut. It’s the least I could do.”

                    “I guess I don’t really see why not.” Daisy shrugged. “It could come in handy, I guess. Bulbasaur could probably learn it.”

                    “Great!” The captain exclaimed as he stood up from his chair. “I’ve been wanting an excuse to start training Pokémon again for quite some time now. So let’s get started.”
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                    Old February 22nd, 2018 (9:02 AM).
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                    BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                    The Mustachioed Machamp
                       
                      Join Date: Apr 2013
                      Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                      Age: 23
                      Gender: Male
                      Nature: Quiet
                      Posts: 145
                      Chapter 31
                      Spoiler:
                      One week has passed since the S.S. Anne set off from the Vermilion Harbor. Ash made his way up to the battle deck at the top of the ship to have a training battle with Red, which had become part of their daily routine. Ash was met with a surprise, however, as it was not Red that was waiting for him. Gary stood at the top of the staircase, standing alone with his arms crossed and looking rather impatient.

                      “What are you doing here?” Ash asked his rival.

                      “I was bored. I figured I could liven things up a little by fighting a strong opponent, but I guess you’ll have to do instead.”

                      “Hey!” Ash yelled in indignation.

                      “And here I thought you’d be happy that I’m finally taking you up on your challenge.” Gary shrugged while giving a sly smile. “But if you don’t want to fight, I guess I can just try to find someone else that’s willing to.”

                      “No!” Ash waved his arm in front of him in a useless gesture in an attempt at adding emphasis “I’ll fight you and I’ll beat you.”

                      “Okay then,” Gary shrugged again. “But don’t complain when I wipe the floor with you. Now, let’s get started so you won’t have to wait as long for your inevitable defeat.”

                      * * *

                      Carmine sat in a folding chair sitting near the S.S. Anne’s pool, looking around at the crowd around it. He spotted a couple of women sitting across from him that seemed oddly familiar. One was a blonde in a pink and black swimsuit, while the other had silver hair and a purple and black swimsuit. Carmine was sure that he had seen those two before, but where? And when?

                      “So what made you join Team Rocket?” Carmine nearly jumped out of his chair out of shock at Brock’s sudden appearance, his thought process of trying to figure out who those two girls were being cut off.

                      “You’re just determined to find out more about me, aren’t you?” Carmine replied, rather annoyed. “Are you trying to become a detective or something?”

                      “No, actually I want to be a Pokémon breeder. Or maybe a doctor, I’m not quite sure yet.”

                      “Then why don’t you just leave me alone then?”

                      “Your life just seems really interesting. I want to hear more of your story.”

                      “Well, if it will get you to stop pestering me, then I will tell you something.” Carmine relented. “My joining Team Rocket had to do with my sister. There, so stop asking me annoying questions and go do something else.”

                      Carmine didn’t need to tell Brock twice; as the Gym Leader had just noticed the two women that Carmine had been watching. Without a word to Carmine, Brock was off to flirt with the two.

                      Carmine just sighed and shook his head while muttering to himself. “Things weren’t too bad when it was just me and Ash. Or would that be Ash and I? Anyway, he may have been a little incompetent starting out, but the kid’s a fast learner like his father. But now that those two Gym Leaders are here, this is getting almost unbearable.”

                      Carmine paused for a moment, a revelation coming to him.

                      “Wait a minute, the kid doesn’t even still need me. He’s got two Gym Leaders to watch him now. That’s it, the first chance I get I’m calling Delia and seeing if I can Weedle my way out of this so I can just go home.”

                      Carmine pulled his PokéGear out of his pocket but stopped as he was about to dial Delia Ketchum’s number. “Then again, with Team Rocket back it will be really dangerous for them. And who knows how strong this new iteration is in comparison. Those two with the talking Meowth that I fought back in Viridian were weak enough not to be a threat, but that girl in the mask we ran into in Mt. Moon was much stronger. And Looker said they have Shadow Pokémon now. I didn’t really pay much attention to that stuff that was happening in Orre last year, but I know those are supposed to be dangerous.” Carmine put the PokéGear back into his pocket. “I might need to stick around just in case.”

                      * * *

                      “Fearow! Use Peck!” Ash ordered his Pokémon as the battle started. The giant bird hit his opponent with its beak, sending the other Pokémon back.

                      “Don’t just take that, Nidorino!” Gary yelled. “Give him a Peck of your own!”

                      The purple Poison-type charged head-first at Fearow and jabbed the Beak Pokémon with its horn. Fearow struck back with a barrage of Fury Attack. Unfortunately for Fearow, it accidentally grazed itself against one of Nidorino’s spines and poisoned itself in the process. Nidorino flipped around and hit Fearow with a Double Kick, though the Fighting attack didn’t do much against the Flying-type Pokémon.

                      “I think it’s time to use that move Carmine taught you.” Ash said to his Fearow. “Fly!”

                      The Beak Pokémon flew up out of Nidorino’s reach, dodging a Horn Attack in the process, and then dive-bombed the Poison-type, sending Nidorino reeling back from the powerful hit.

                      “You’re not done yet, Nidorino! Use Horn Attack!”

                      Nidorino charged at Fearow, which wasn’t easy as he could barely keep himself upright due to fatigue. The attack hit and Fearow was knocked down by the blow. The bird Pokémon was too weak to lift itself back up into the air again, so instead used Mirror Move. The air in front of Fearow solidified into a mirror, from which a phantom image of Gary’s Nidorino charged out and struck its doppelgänger with the same Horn Attack that he had just used on Fearow. Both the mirror and the phantom Nidorino evaporated back into the air while the real Nidorino collapsed onto the ground and fainted.

                      Gary stared at the battle with his jaw hanging slightly ajar. “How did…” He mumbled. “How did you beat me?” Suddenly he was yelling. “There’s no way a loser like you could be able to defeat me! You must have cheated somehow!”

                      “I didn’t cheat.” Ash defended himself. “I beat you fair and square. Er, I should say we beat you. I can’t take all the credit for myself.” Ash petted his Fearow before returning him back to his Pokéball.

                      “I still don’t believe this.” Gary went on. “We will have a rematch someday and I will correct this mistake! Ash Ketchum, be on guard because the next time we fight I will wipe the floor with you!”

                      Gary called his Nidorino back into its Pokéball and turned to leave. After taking a few steps, he turned back again for a moment, “Smell you later, loser!” then stormed off.

                      Ash watched as Gary left, angry at being accused of cheating, but then it slowly donned on him and Ash’s frown turned into a giant smile of pure joy. “I! BEAT! GARY!” Ash jumped up and raised his fist into the air, nearly knocking Pika and Volty off of his shoulders. “Oh, sorry guys. I forgot you were there for a moment. Can you believe that I just beat Gary? And in our first Pokémon battle, even?”

                      “Pi-Pikachu!” Pika said excitedly as he leaped down to the ground in front of Ash, turning around to face him.

                      Volty used Quick Attack to run over next to Pika in a flash. “Pikapi-Pi!”

                      * * *

                      Hunter J had grown tired of waiting around in her room. So shortly after the Team Rocket agents she was supposed to be babysitting left for their ‘daily reconnaissance’ she left and took a walk around the ship.

                      “What do those fools even need any more reconnaissance for?” Hunter J thought to herself. “If I was in charge here, we’d have taken over the entire ship and I would have taken my pick of the rare Pokémon here with buyers lined up for the others and I would even be holding some of the passengers for ransom.”

                      She turned a corner and immediately stepped back behind it. She pressed a button on the Snag machine on her left arm, activating one of the many enhancements she had added to it. A small bug-like drone only about an inch tall flew out from the machine and flew around the corner. On Hunter J’s visor, a screen popped up showing the video feed from the drone’s camera.

                      “What’s he doing here?” Hunter J thought as she walked back the way she came, keeping an eye on the video to make sure that the man she saw hadn’t seen her. “What are the odds that the one person who could actually blow my cover happens to be here, on the opposite side of the planet of where he’s supposed to be right now?” She gave a sort of grimacing half-smile from her mixed emotions from this revelation.

                      “I suppose even if it’s under poor circumstances, it is nice to see you’re doing alright.” She muttered to herself. “Wes.”
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                      Old February 23rd, 2018 (7:35 AM).
                      BZRich64's Avatar
                      BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                      The Mustachioed Machamp
                         
                        Join Date: Apr 2013
                        Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                        Age: 23
                        Gender: Male
                        Nature: Quiet
                        Posts: 145
                        Chapter 32
                        Spoiler:
                        Ash, Misty, Red, Daisy and Yellow all sat around is Daisy and Yellow’s room. On Daisy’s side of the room, she and Red were sitting on her bed. On Yellow’s side of the room, she and Misty were sitting. Between them was Ash, who had pulled up the chair and was sitting in it backwards, with his chin leaning up against the headrest.

                        “What should we do now?” Daisy asked the rest of the group.

                        “I don’t know.” Ash answered. “There’s so much to do here, and yet half the time it feels like there’s nothing to do.”

                        “Let’s play a game!” Yellow suggested cheerfully.

                        “Like what?” Misty asked her.

                        “How about Hide and Seek?”

                        “We’ve haven’t played that.” Red pointed out. “How would you even know how to play?”

                        Yellow shrugged. “I don’t know. I feel like I used to play it a lot before…” She trailed off for a moment. “I know that I like it and I’m sure that I’m good at it.”

                        “We’ll,” Ash said. “I guess that’s good enough for me.”

                        * * *

                        “When are you finally going to move on with your plans?” Hunter J asked to the agents of Team Rocket when they all met up for the evening.

                        “When we’re ready.” Attila answered her. “Why do you suddenly care?”

                        “No reason.” Hunter J replied, almost too quickly. “I’m just getting bored. It seems like you already have all the information you should need for this, and yet you just keep observing rather than acting.”

                        “She has a point.” James said. “We already know who all of the strong trainers are and what Pokémon they have, as well as what rare Pokémon are here to take.”

                        “I know that.” Attila responded. “But what we need is the right time to strike.”

                        “What about tomorrow night?” It was Annie’s turn to speak. “There’s that big fire dancing show being held outside. From what we’ve been able to gather, almost everyone’s going to be attending it. It seems like the perfect opportunity to set our trap. And then the commotion should lure out the few people not watching the show so that we can get them to.”

                        “That does sound like a plan.” Attila put his hand to his chin in thought. “How does everyone else feel about that?”

                        Jessie, James, Meowth, Hun and Oakley all nodded and voiced their approval.

                        “Then we’re all agreed to set our trap at tomorrow’s fire dancing ceremony.” Attila turned to Hunter J. “Does that satisfy you?”

                        Hunter J just gave a sly smile and leaned back in her chair. “I’m never satisfied.”

                        * * *

                        Ash had been chosen as the first to be ‘it’ in hide and seek, and had already found Misty trying to hide behind a large potted plant just down the hall from where they stared. The group had decided to stick within the hallways and staircases three levels of Daisy and Yellow’s room. Ash and Misty were searching the lowest of the levels for the others. They turned a corner in the hallway and were surprised to find someone else lurking about at the opposite end.

                        “I’ve seen her before.” Ash whispered to Misty, not wanting to draw the other person’s attention. “She said her name was… Madame Darhk, I think it was.”

                        “What’s she doing?” Misty asked as she pulled Ash back around the corner.

                        “She said before that she was looking for something. Maybe she’s still trying to find it?”

                        The two peered around the corner.

                        “Is she… sniffing the air?” Misty wondered aloud.

                        “Yeah.” Ash confirmed. “She’s sniffing around the walls like she’s tracking something be scent.”

                        “That’s not normal behavior is it? I mean, I know rich people can be eccentric, but still.”

                        Suddenly, Madame Darhk snapped her attention towards their direction. Ash and Misty hid behind the corner.

                        “Do you think she noticed us?” Ash asked.

                        “I don’t know. But, did it seem like her eyes were glowing to you?”

                        ‘Let’s just get out of here.”

                        Ash and Misty ran back down the hallway and up the staircase to the next floor up before they finally stopped to catch her breath.

                        “I don’t understand.” Ash said between huge breaths. “She seemed perfectly normal before, although with a bit of a temper. But down there she seemed so, so…”

                        “Bestial?” Misty suggested.

                        “Yeah. Like she wasn’t even human.”

                        The two looked at each other.

                        “Let’s just try and get back to finding the others and pretend this never happened.” Misty suggested.

                        “Agreed.”

                        * * *

                        Gary stared out across the ocean, leaning against the guard rail of one of the S.S. Anne’s observation decks.

                        “What happened?” He asked himself. “How could I let Ash beet me? I’ve always been the best, ever since we were kids. I mean, sure, Red’s always been pretty close to my level and I’ve always let Daisy take the lead on our group stuff because she’s the oldest, even if it’s only by a few minutes. But Ash…”

                        Gary tried his best not to start crying, but the tears came anyway.

                        “I’ve always been better than Ash at everything we’ve done. Why was he able to beat me now? I’ve got to be the best and yet… and yet I lost our first battle. What does this mean for the future? Have I not been training hard enough? Have I let Ash reach, or even pass, my level? What the Distortion World is going on?”

                        Gary tightened his grip on the railing and he looked up at the clear blue sky above the ocean’s waves.
                        “No, I won’t let this happen.” He told himself. “From now on I’ll put in twice the effort, twice the work. By the time we reach the Pokémon League I’ll be so far beyond Ash’s level that he’ll never be able to catch up to me again.”

                        In the distance, Gary thought he could make out the form of a large, silver bird-like Pokémon rise from the ocean and dive back in. The young trainer smiled at the beautiful sight of the majestic Pokémon and took it as a sign.

                        “I will defeat all in my way to becoming the Pokémon Champion, and from there work my way up even higher until I have become a Pokémon Master!” Gary shouted off across the ocean. “I will achieve my goals, or my name isn’t Gary Bluesea Oak!”

                        * * *

                        Ash and Misty had now successfully found both Red and Daisy, but didn’t tell either of them about their earlier encounter.

                        “Wow, she wasn’t kidding.” Daisy said in astonishment. “Yellow really is good at this.”

                        “We’ve searched the entire area and still haven’t found her.” Red added.

                        Ash and Misty both looked nervously at each other while the other two weren’t looking.

                        “Well,” Ash started to say, “I guess we could try looking at the lowest floor again.”

                        Misty shook her head.

                        “We may have overlooked somewhere down there.”

                        She shook her head even harder.

                        “And with all four of us, we’re bound to find her if she’s down there.”

                        Misty was starting to get dizzy from shaking her head when Red and Daisy turned around to face her and she stopped.

                        “Sounds good.” Red said.

                        The four made their way down to the lowest floor within their game’s boundaries and, much to Ash and Misty’s collective relief, Madame Darhk wasn’t there. The group made their way to the opposite end of the hallway from the staircase they used to get down there when they finally found Yellow hiding behind a large trashcan.

                        “It’s about time.” Yellow said. “I was starting to think you forgot about me.”

                        “How could we forget about you?” Red asked.

                        “Well, it’s been a while and none of you had even been down here until now.”

                        Red and Daisy looked over at Ash and Misty.

                        “I thought you said you looked down here before you found either of us.” Daisy said.

                        “We did…” Ash started to say.

                        “I guess we just didn’t look over at this part of the hallway.” Misty interrupted. “We didn’t think anyone would actually be on this floor, so we didn’t look as thoroughly as we should have. Isn’t that right, Ash?” She shot him a strange look.

                        “Y-yeah…”

                        The other three looked at them inquisitively, but when the two didn’t say anything else, Yellow spoke instead.

                        “I guess this means I’m it now. I’ll count to ten and you go hide.”
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                        Old February 24th, 2018 (8:44 AM).
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                        BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                        The Mustachioed Machamp
                           
                          Join Date: Apr 2013
                          Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                          Age: 23
                          Gender: Male
                          Nature: Quiet
                          Posts: 145
                          Chapter 33
                          Spoiler:
                          Almost all of the S.S. Anne’s passengers gathered around the upper decks just before sunset as a group of fire dancers and their Marowak were preparing for their performance.

                          “What’s up with those Marowak?” Ash asked Carmine, as their group sat down in their seats, near the center of the crowd.

                          Carmine looked closely at the Bone Keeper Pokémon and saw what Ash was talking about. They were much darker in color than the Marowak native to Kanto, with slimmer bodies and dark markings on their skulls. In addition, they carried longer bones than normal, with ghostly teal flames at each end.

                          “I’m not sure.” Carmine answered honestly. “I’ve heard that some Pokémon look different depending on where there from. Maybe that’s it?”

                          “According to the brochure, the fire dancers come from the Alola region.” Explained Brock. “Apparently the area is famous for having a lot of unique Pokémon like Marowak.”

                          “That’s interesting.” Said Misty. “I wonder what other Pokémon are different there.”

                          Someone sitting next to the group shushed them as the show began and the performers began their dance.

                          * * *

                          Attila and Hun overlooked the crowd watching the fire dancers from a higher deck. As the performance seemed to reach its climax, Attila raised a radio and spoke into it.

                          “It’s time.”

                          As the two watched, remote detonated smoke bombs began going off throughout the crowd. Panic and confusion spread among the people from the sudden smoke, which granted the perfect opportunity for the other members of Team Rocket to start steeling Pokémon in the chaos. Attila and Hun moved towards the stairs to join them in the thievery, when they were stopped by Looker and Lance.

                          “Where do you think you’re going?” Looker asked them.

                          “So you must be some of the International Police agents here to stop us.” Attila calmly said to them. “Well, I guess that’s too bad for you, because you’re already too late.”

                          Hun threw a smoke bomb onto the ground between the Team Rocket agents and the International Police. As the smoke cleared, Attila and Hun were gone.

                          “How’d they do that?” Lance wondered aloud.

                          “It doesn’t matter.” Looker said as he turned to go back down to where the crowd was. “We need to help down below.”

                          The two ran back down, and passing them going the other way were Red, Daisy and Yellow. The trio was trying to escape the chaos going on below as people moved around in panic. Unfortunately, as the two reached the upper deck, they discovered that Attila and Hun hadn’t fled very far.

                          “Well, well, well, who do we have here?” Attila said as the two walked back into the open. “If it isn’t that brat from Mount Moon, and his little friend. And look, he’s got another friend with him.”

                          “I’m afraid that you have a bit of a problem.” Said Hun as the kids stopped running. “You see, you managed to get away from my friend here without paying the proper price for getting in our way. And you see, he really doesn’t like it when that happens. So I’m afraid any plans you had for the future are going to have to be cut short. Permanently.”

                          Red motioned for the girls to get behind him. Yellow did so, but Daisy stayed firm by his side.

                          “I don’t know who you are!” She shouted to the Team Rocket duo. “But you’re dead wrong if you think you can beat us!”

                          Laughing at her remark, Attila called out his Skarmory. “So you need your girlfriend to stand up for you now?” He mockingly asked Red. “How about we have a little fight, punk, just you and me.”

                          Red pulled a Pokéball up from his waist, but stopped from calling out his Pokémon as Yellow squeezed tightly around his arm.

                          “Don’t do this.” She told him. “It’s a trap. Let’s just have Abraham get us out of here.”

                          “She has a point.” Daisy agreed. “Despite by bluff, I don’t think we can take these guys on.”

                          Red shook his head and took a step forward, raising the Pokéball in front of him. “If I don’t fight him now, he’s just going to find us again, and again. Plus, we need to help protect those down below from having their Pokémon stolen. It’s our duty as Trainers to protect those in need. Now, go Charmeleon!”
                          He threw the Pokéball and his starter Pokémon landed on the ground in front of him.

                          “Hm.” Attila grunted. “So you’ve gotten stronger since Mount Moon. I guess that’s not really a surprise, but it will make this more interesting just the same. Skarmory! Pulverize that overgrown lizard with Steel Wing!”

                          Skarmory flew up and dove down towards Charmeleon, its wings glowing in white light that seemed to make its feathers expand in length. Charmeleon countered by breathing an Ember at the Armor Bird Pokémon. The attack hit Skarmory directly in the face, forcing the bird to stop its attack. Charmeleon followed up the attack with another Ember, this one hitting Skarmory in the chest. Skarmory let out a Metal Sound to disorient Charmeleon and lower its defense, to which Charmeleon responded with another Ember. Skarmory sent out a volley of Swift. The white star-like energy projectiles twisted their trajectory to avoid the Ember attacks that Charmeleon used to try and stop the Swift, and struck him down. Some of the Embers struck Skarmory and forced it down to the ground. This allowed Charmeleon to launch another Ember at the Steel-type, causing Skarmory to collapse.

                          “What?” Attila muttered in shock before regaining his composure. “Why you little-”

                          “Attila!” Hun called out to his partner. Attila tried to turn to see what the other was calling him for, only realize that ice was slowly crawling up his legs and freezing him in place.

                          “What the?”

                          “I hope you weren’t planning on hurting those kids.” Lorelei said as she walked up to them alongside her Jynx. She then turned to Red and the others. “If you’re going to flee, then do so now. Otherwise I suggest you go back now and help the others.”

                          * * *

                          Hunter J smirked as she watched the panic going on outside via her drone’s camera. It was definitely a much less tactical approach than she would have gone with, but it looked like they were getting the job done all the same. She stood up and walked towards the door so that she could join the others in steeling Pokémon, because after all, she wasn’t going to let them have all the fun. But when she opened the door, Hunter J was greeted by an unexpected visitor standing there.

                          “You!” Madame Darhk almost literally growled at Hunter J.

                          “Do I know you?” Hunter J asked as she down towards the various Pokéballs hung around her belt.

                          “YOU TOOK MY SON!” Madame Darhk shrieked in reply. “GIVE HIM BACK!”

                          Madame Darhk lunged at Hunter J, only to be repelled by the Ariados that the Pokémon Hunter had just released from its Net Ball.

                          “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Hunter J said in a relaxed voice, as if this were not an unusual occurrence. “I only take humans if I intend to hold them for ransom, and I’m not currently holding anybody. So, unless you’re a Poké- wait a minute.”

                          Hunter J pressed a button on the side of her visor to activate its Aura Vision mode and then began to laugh.

                          “Okay then. I guess I do remember you. It was three years ago now, if I remember correctly, in the Lostlorn Forest of Unova.” She held up a Premier Ball in a taunting fashion. “I’m afraid your little pup here has become one of the prized jewels of my collection, so to speak. I don’t intent on giving him up anytime soon, Zaroark. Although I must saw, your human is impeccable for a Pokémon. I think the only other I’ve heard speak as well is that Meowth with Team Rocket. Of course, I plan on taking him from them as well when I get the chance.”

                          “You’re a monster.” Madame Darhk seemed to slowly melt away into her true form, the Illusion Fox Pokémon. “Now give me back my son!”

                          Zoroark knocked Ariados away with a Night Slash, but the Long Leg Pokémon landed feet first onto the wall and was able to strike back with a Night Shade.

                          “Must I repeat myself?” Hunter J said. “Your Zorua is mine now, and I’m not giving him back to you.”
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                          Old February 25th, 2018 (9:49 AM).
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                          BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                          The Mustachioed Machamp
                             
                            Join Date: Apr 2013
                            Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                            Age: 23
                            Gender: Male
                            Nature: Quiet
                            Posts: 145
                            Chapter 34
                            Spoiler:
                            The Zoroark that had formerly been Madame Darhk glared intently at Hunter J.

                            “I said GIVE ME BACK MY SON!” She howled. “I wasn’t giving you a choice!”

                            The Dark-type Pokémon jumped out of the way of a String Shot from Hunter J’s Ariados and raised her arms above her head. Her eyes began to glow brightly as a dark aura surrounded her. Zoroark then launched the dark aura at Ariados in a Night Daze attack. Ariados tried to strike back with Fell Stinger, but Zoroark disappeared for a moment only to appear right next to the Bug-type and hit it with a Feint Attack, knocking Ariados away. Zoroark followed up the attack with a barrage of Feint Attacks until Ariados fainted and collapsed onto the ground.

                            In a fury, Zoroark turned back to Hunter J, only to find that she had fled during the fight. Turning to face the Ariados again revealed that it too was gone. Zoroark lifted her head back and gave an anguished cry. Her son’s captor had evaded her, and her chances of reuniting with him suddenly felt lost. Regardless, she ran down the hallway, making a mad dash on all four legs, in the desperate hope of finding her son again.

                            * * *

                            Ash, Misty, Carmine and Brock huddled together trying not to get in the way of people running around in the confusion created by the smoke. But then suddenly the smoke was cleared away in a sudden gust of wind. The four looked over to see where the wind had come from to see a Honchkrow flying in the air. The Big Boss Pokémon then flew down and perched on the outstretched arm of an distinguished looking old man with a thick gray mustache and wearing a tan colored three-piece suit and bowler hat.

                            “That ought to do the trick.” The man said as the people around started to calm down. “Although, I’m curious as to where that smoke came from in the first place.”

                            With the smoke cleared, Ash turned to face the others just in time to see a woman reaching for the Pokéballs around Carmine’s belt. He was just about to warn Carmine, Sneasel came out of its Pokéball and slashed her across her face as Carmine reached down and grabbed her by the wrist.

                            “And what do you think you’re doing?” He looked down at the woman and recognition donned on him. “Wait a minute, I know you.”

                            “No you don’t.” The woman said as she tried to pull away while holding her cut cheek, which was starting to bleed lightly.

                            “Yes I do. I saw you and your sister before but couldn’t quite place you. But now that I see you up close I know exactly where I know you from. Your name’s Oakley right. You joined Team Rocket with your sister right before I left. I helped you two in your recruitment training.

                            “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Oakley insisted as she managed to slip her wrist out of Carmine’s grasp. “I was just reaching down to grab something I dropped and then your Pokémon attacked me out of nowhere. Keep that thing under control!” She mimed picking something off of the ground, but it was clear that there was nothing there.

                            “No you weren’t.” Carmine said. “Besides, he barely grazed you.”

                            “I saw you reaching right for his Pokémon.” Ash added.

                            Oakley froze as a crowd was forming around them, trying to see what was going on. But then a large shadow passed over the crowd, pulling everyone’s attention away to see the Salamence flying overhead. Oakley used the opportunity to run away, meeting up with Annie at the other end of the deck.

                            “That was close.” Annie said to her sister. “You’re lucky you managed to get away.”

                            “Luck had nothing to do with it.” Hunter J said as she ran up to the two. “That was sloppy of you. Now come on, were leaving.”

                            “But what about the others? We can’t just leave them in the middle of this.” Annie asked.

                            “Forget them. If they want to stay here and get caught, that’s Team Rocket’s problem. But as of our agreement last week, you don’t work for Team Rocket anymore, you work for me. And as your new boss, I’m ordering you leave those weaklings behind as we make our getaway.”

                            “Don’t think you’re getting away that easily!” Wes and Rui ran up to stop the trio. Wes had his Espeon and Umbreon out and ready to attack.

                            “We don’t have time for this.” Hunter J said, and suddenly the Salamence flying around launched a Hyper Beam in front of Wes and Rui before landing besides Hunter J. The attack scorched the floor in front of the two and prevented them from continuing their pursuit.

                            “Come on, this is our ride.” Hunter J said as she climbed onto the Dragon Pokémon’s back. Annie and Oakley followed suit and they flew away from the S.S. Anne.

                            Wes clenched his fists tightly as he watched them get away, a look of intense anger on his face.

                            “Woah,” Rui said as she saw Wes’ reaction, “there’s no need to be that angry.” Rui said in concern for her friend. “So what if a few got away, we can still get the others.”

                            “That’s not what my problem is.” Wes said as he headed back towards the crowd, which was beginning to thin out as people went back to their rooms.

                            “Then what is?” Rui asked as she dashed to catch up to him.

                            “Never mind, right now. It’s not important anymore. As you said, there are more we need to help catch.”

                            * * *

                            Seeing what was happening with the others, Jessie, James and Meowth decided that it was best to just lay low and sneak away from the crowd rather than risk making a scene by trying to steel any more Pokémon. They just needed to get away with what they already managed to get.

                            “Who even teaches their Pokémon how to use Defog?” James muttered to himself as they walked back inside. “That move is almost completely useless is most situations.”

                            “Well, it came in handy for them this time.” Jessie replied.

                            “Yeahs, unfortunately for us.” Meowth whispered as he tried to keep up with the other two. “It might be better for one of yous ta carrys me, I can’t go very fast on all fours anymore.”

                            Jessie picked up Meowth and tried to stay in character by holding the Scratch Cat Pokémon like he was a baby.

                            “This’s humiliatin’.”

                            “Quite now, Meowth can’t talk.” Jessie whispered nervously between clenched teeth in a tone that could be mistaken for someone talking to a baby if they weren’t really listening to her words.

                            The three made their way back out on the other end of the deck. This was the agreed upon rendezvous point, but no one else was there yet.

                            “I suppose Attila and Huna are the only others still here at this point.” Jessie observed.

                            “But what do we do now?” James asked.

                            “I guess we just wait here for them so that we can make are getaway.”

                            “It would have been nice if they had actually told us how were supposed to get off of here.” James complained.

                            “I suppose they wanted to make sure we couldn’t leave without them. It’s hard to work with people as secretive as those two.”

                            “And yet they ain’t the ones what left us here.” Meowth chimed in, then pointed up to the sky. “Hey, wait a minute! Are they’s comin’ back for us?”

                            Jessie and James looked up and saw that indeed, Hunter J’s Salamence was flying back towards the ship.

                            “I knew they wouldn’t leave me behind!” Jessie declared excitedly. “Girls got to stick together, after all.”

                            “Something doesn’t seem right though…” James said.

                            As Salamence reached the cruise ship, suddenly it opened its mouth and let out a huge Flamethrower, scorching the hull of the ship.

                            “What’s going on?” Jessie panicked.

                            “Are they’s tryin’ ta kill us?”

                            “Quick, let’s get inside before they fly back and strike again!” James yelled as he started to run away, but Jessie pulled him back.

                            “Don’t be dense, you can’t just run towards the fire!” She yelled at him. “Besides, who knows what kind of damage that did to the inside of the ship. We’re better off staying here.”
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                            Old February 26th, 2018 (8:39 AM).
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                            BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                            The Mustachioed Machamp
                               
                              Join Date: Apr 2013
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                              Chapter 35
                              Spoiler:
                              As Jessie, James and Meowth tried to figure out what to do with the sudden fire aboard the S.S. Anne, Hun walked out from the smoke, limping towards them. His clothes were scorched and his flesh was burned. The three also noticed that Hun’s legs and boots were strangely wet.

                              “Are you alright?” James called out to the injured Hun.

                              “I’ll be fine.” He grunted out as he reached the trio. “It’s nothing that time won’t heal.”

                              “But where’s Attila?” Asked Jessie. “Is he alright?”

                              “He’ll be here shortly. He just has something else he needs to do first.”

                              Hun sat down on a box to rest and the group of four waited for their fifth member to arrive.

                              * * *

                              Red, Yellow and Daisy frantically ran away from the blazing fire that had suddenly erupted from where Hunter J’s Salamence had attacked the ship. They made their way towards the life rafts, like everyone else on board was doing, but then suddenly Yellow stopped.

                              “We need to keep going!” Red warned as he turned back to face her.

                              “We can’t!” Yellow pleaded. “Maggie’s still back in our room! We need to go back for her.”

                              “Looking for this?” All three turned around to see who had spoken, and were not happy to see who it was.

                              Attila was standing there. His clothes were damaged from the fire, one of the lenses of Attila’s sunglasses was shattered and his boots were still yet from the ice Lorelei had trapped him in earlier. In his hand, he clutched the tail of a flailing Magikarp.

                              “Maggie!” Yellow yelled to her Pokémon, then turned to its captor. “Let her go!”

                              “If you insist.” Attila held Maggie out over the railing and began loosening his grip to drop the Pokémon into the ocean. He laughed at the girl’s distraught reaction, but then stopped when an Abra appeared in front of him. Abraham spun around in midair and smacked Attila across the face with his tail. Unfortunately, the shock of the blow caused Attila to lose his grip completely. Maggie slipped from his fingers and fell off the side of the boat into the ocean.

                              “No!” Yellow screamed as she ran to the railing to see her Pokémon plummet into the sea.

                              Red knelt down besides Yellow and put his hand on her shoulder to reassure the girl. “Don’t worry. Maggie’s a fish. She’ll be just fine until we can find her again.” He then stood back up and faced Attila. “As for you on the other hand, I can’t make the same promise.”

                              Attila just laughed at Red’s threat and pulled a smoke bomb from his pocket. He threw it to the ground and by the time the smoke had cleared, Attila had walked off in the direction of the fire, already too far for the trainers to safely follow him.

                              “Come on,” Daisy said as she grabbed Yellow by the hand. “Let’s get to a life boat. I’m sure Maggie will be waiting for us.”

                              * * *

                              After the fire started, Looker’s team shifted their attention away from trying to find Team Rocket, instead focusing on helping the ship’s crew get all of the passengers to safety. They were guiding people make their way to the lifeboats, while advising those with Pokémon to Surf or Fly away if they could, so that they could make more room for those who couldn’t. Lorelei had her Pokémon create an ice platform off the side of the ship, which Lance’s Dragon Pokémon were flying people onto.

                              “Shouldn’t someone be working on putting out the fire?” Rui yelled to the others.

                              “I’m on it!” Wes shouted back and started running over to where the inferno was continuing to increase in size and intensity. He pulled out an Ultra Ball as he ran, calling out the Pokémon that was held inside. “Go, Suicune!”

                              The majestic Legendary Beast of Water emerged from the Ultra ball in a full gallop and fired a spray of Hydro Pump from its mouth. The crystal clear water washed over the flames and subdued them. Soon other trainers sent out their Pokémon to help put out the fire as well.

                              “He has a Suicune?” Lorelei asked, dumbfounded. “Where did he get that?”

                              “I actually forgot he had that.” Rui chuckled lightly. “He has an Entei and Raikou, too. They were some of the Shadow Pokémon we captured and purified last year.”

                              “That’s amazing.” Lance said in awe. “Having one Legendary Pokémon is impressive enough, but three? That’s almost completely unheard of.”

                              Looker cleared his throat, reminding the others to get back to work helping people off the ship.

                              * * *

                              “Here he comes now!” Hun announced as the limping figure of Attila became visible as a silhouette highlighted by the flames he was walking away from.

                              Jessie and James ran over to the injured Attila and helped walk over to where Meowth and Hun were still waiting. They set the large man down on a box beside the one Hun was resting on so that he could rest for a moment as well.

                              “I guess it’s time to call this mission a loss.” Attila grumbled as he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a radio. He pressed the talk button and held it up to his mouth. “This is Attila. Commence evacuation protocol. I repeat, commence evacuation protocol. Get here as fast as you can, over.”

                              “So, what now?” Jessie asked, somewhat frantic. “How are we supposed to get off of this burning ship?”

                              “I just called for a ship to come pick us up.” Attila explained, then looked over to the fire. “Hopefully they can get here in time.”

                              “I can’t believe the others would have betrayed us like that.” James commented.

                              “I can.” Attila replied. “I just can’t believe I didn’t see it coming.”

                              They all stood in silence for a moment as they waited for their getaway to arrive. Eventually that silence was broken when Meowth noticed a drop of water land on his head, followed by another.

                              “Is it rainin’?” He asked.

                              “Someone must have had their Pokémon use Rainy Day to help with the fire.” Hun said as he held one of his hands out to feel the rain drops coming down. “Smart tactic.”

                              The rain quickly went from a light sprinkle to pouring down hard, and the area became increasingly dark as black clouds filled the previously clear blue sky. The fire had almost completely been put out at this point by the combined efforts of the trainers and their Pokémon working to extinguish it, and the rain finished up their job quickly.

                              “I don’t think this is just Rainy Day.” James said as the rain started to come down harder. “This feels more like a storm.”

                              Just as he said that, a bolt of lightning came down from the sky, the deafening sound of thunder echoing throughout the ship.

                              “Something ain’t right here.” Meowth said worriedly. “Dat definitely ain’t a Rain Dance causin’ dis.”

                              The storm worsened as huge waved crashed against the hull of the S.S. Anne. A whirlpool suddenly formed off the starboard side of the ship, from which a mighty figure emerged.

                              “Shadow Force.” Attila cursed in a low tone that the others couldn’t hear over the loud winds. “I didn’t realize that Magikarp was about to evolve.”

                              Water rushed down the sides of the Atrocious Pokémon as Gyarados glared down at Team Rocket, ready to attack them.

                              “I’m here.” The unmistakable monotone voice of Agent Masque came from over the radio Attila was still clutching in his hand. “Jump off the port bow.”

                              She didn’t need to tell them twice, as the group made a mad dash to get away from Maggie’s wrath as the Pokémon readied a Hydro Pump to blast at them. But as they ran, another Gyarados rose up from the water, followed by another and another until a dozen wild Gyarados surrounded the ship, much larger and more powerful than the freshly evolved Maggie.

                              “And it’s attracted the attention of a nearby school of them.”

                              The newly arrived Gyarados began swimming in a clockwise circle around the S.S. Anne in preparation for one of their dreaded Dragon Rage attacks. Maggie tried to stop the others, but she was too weak to stop even one of the toughened elder Gyarados from performing their move. Trainers from the aboard the ship sent out their strongest Pokémon to try and stop the Gyarados, but it was already too late. Once a school of Gyarados begins their group Dragon Rage, they become an unstoppable force that only the strongest of Legendary Pokémon could interfere with. Even the mighty Thunder of Wes’ powerful Raikou couldn’t even faze the twelve Gyarados.
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                              Old February 27th, 2018 (8:42 AM).
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                              BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                              The Mustachioed Machamp
                                 
                                Join Date: Apr 2013
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                                Age: 23
                                Gender: Male
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                                Chapter 36
                                Spoiler:
                                “Can you believe it?” Ash wondered aloud in shock. “We were all having a good time and then… all of that, one thing right after another.”

                                Ash, Misty, Brock and Carmine were all sitting on the back of a Lapras, slowly drifting away from the S.S. Anne.

                                “I’m never going on another boat as long as I live.” Brock said.

                                “I’m just glad I have my trusty Lapras here to ferry us away.” Misty sighed. “Everyone has all of their stuff, right? If we left anything behind, we can’t exactly go back for it. It’s extremely hard to stop a single rampaging Gyarados and I don’t think anything could stop twelve of them at once.”

                                “There are advantages to just keeping all of your stuff in your bag with you at all times.” Carmine added. “It lets you leave anywhere at any time without having to worry about that. Not that it’s much comfort right now with this going on. I just hope everyone else ends up all right.”

                                “Do you think we should head back?” Ash asked the others. “See if we can help anyone?”

                                “Looker’s team were already working on that and I’m sure they have it mostly under control.” Carmine answered. “Or at least, no less under control than it would be if we were still there. I know this is hard to think about, but you can’t help anyone if you can’t help yourself. Even though helping others is important, you need to look out for yourself first.”

                                “You right.” Brock said. “That is hard to think about. I don’t think I can agree with that philosophy.”

                                “We can’t Surf back there anyway.” Misty pointed out. “The storm is making the water to dangerous.”

                                “Where’d you get a Lapras, anyway?” Carmine asked the Water-type specialist. “Aren’t these things supposed to be really rare and almost impossible to find?”

                                “She was a gift from my mentor. She raises them as a hobby and gave me this one. ” Misty stroked the head of the Transport Pokémon’s head. “She’s not much for battling, but she’s a great Surfer and a good companion for long trips.”

                                The Lapras neighed back happily at the compliment, then returned to seriousness as she tried to make her way through the storm. Though the storm quickly seemed to fade away.

                                “Hey!” Ash shouted while looking back at towards the S.S. Anne. “It looks like there’s something going on back there.”

                                Misty turned her Lapras around and the others noticed it as well.

                                “What is that?” Brock asked.

                                “I don’t know.” Carmine answered seriously.

                                * * *

                                After Red had defeated Attila’s Skarmory, Abraham had teleported away to get Pikachu in case Team Rocket would try anything else. Unfortunately they had been to late in returning to stop Attila from taking Maggie and they were all now paying the consequences. Pikachu watched in horror as the Gyarados continued circling the ship.

                                “This is it. There’s nothing more I can do.” Pikachu said to herself, trying her hardest not cry from despair. “I’ve failed in protecting her. My only hope is that Abraham can safely teleport her away from here and that he will continue to protect her in my place. And here I thought ‘he’ was the only one that I truly needed to protect her from.”

                                It was then that Pikachu noticed that the rain had stopped falling. Not that it had stopped raining, but that the individual raindrops had stopped in midair.

                                “No!” Pikachu felt even more dread seep in as she looked around. The Gyarados had also stopped, encased in a faint purple glow. The people onboard the ship, their Pokémon, everything. It was almost as if time itself was being held in place by some immeasurable power. A force strong enough to seemingly control reality itself. “It can’t be.”

                                Only Pikachu was still capable of movement and, she knew, Yellow would also be unaffected by this power. Pikachu ran to find Yellow and, sure enough, the girl was looking around trying to figure out what was happening. The girl grabbed Red by the arm to try and break him out of the spell and, much to Pikachu’s surprise, it worked.

                                “What’s going on?” Red wondered aloud as he was brought back into motion.

                                “I’m scared.” Yellow hugged Red tightly, her arms squeezing Red’s waist. “I don’t know what’s going on, and I feel… I feel…”

                                “What do you feel?” Red held one arm around Yellow’s back and rested the other on her head, trying to comfort the girl.

                                “I feel something coming. No, someone. I don’t know who or what it is, but I feel… terror.”

                                “Nothing will happen to you.” Red said gently. “I’ll make sure of it.”

                                Pikachu watched the emotional scene as it happened below her. Pikachu knew now that letting the boy protect her was the right choice. In fact it looked as if it was the only right choice that she had made. She was about to hop down to great Yellow, that they could have at least one last moment together before the end. But it was too late.

                                Pikachu felt his presence first, then caught a glimpse of movement descending from above her. Yellow did the same, with Red looking up to see what the girl was looking at. The three all saw the same dark, cloaked figure fall gently from the storm onto the upper-most point of the wrecked ship.

                                “You will not harm the girl.” His voice rang clear throughout the entire scene as he spoke to the Gyarados. Yet despite this, his mouth did not move, for he did not speak at all. Thoughts were projected straight from the mind of the powerful psychic. “She is mine, and mine alone. And now that I have found her, no one will harm her ever again. No one will use us again. We will finally be free at last.”

                                “Who do you think he’s talking about?” Yellow asked in a low whisper, trying not to attract the stranger’s attention.

                                “I think he means you.” Red replied, equally quite.

                                “Yes, I mean the girl.” The hooded figure floated down to where the two were standing. “Now, you will give her to me.”

                                Pikachu fired a Thunder attack at the stranger, who raised his arm up and absorbed the lightning bolt into its hand. In the process his hand slipped out from under the sleeve of his cloak, revealing three long, gray fingers with bulbous tips.

                                “What are you?” Red asked.

                                “Give me the girl!” The stranger reiterated.

                                “I don’t want to go with you!” Yellow screamed at the cloaked figure.

                                “Yes, you do. You just do not know it right now due to your absence of memory.”

                                “No. You feel… bad. You are bad! You’re the reason I lost my memory, aren’t you?!”

                                The stranger slowly lowered his hand down again as it became apparent that Pikachu would not try another useless attack. He was silent for a moment before finally saying: “It was an accident. I did not mean to harm you, but they had to pay for what they had done. For what they would do. Now, come with me.”

                                “She said she doesn’t want to.” Red walked out in front of Yellow, as if shielding her with his own body.

                                “Silence, boy!” The stranger thrust out his hand and Red was lifted up into the air by a psychic grasp around his throat.

                                “No!!!” Yellow couldn’t bear to see her friend in trouble and dashed out towards the stranger, tackling him to get him to stop strangling Red. This didn’t knock him down, but it did surprise him enough that he released his grip on Red, who fell back to the floor.

                                “What are you doing?”

                                “I’m protecting my friend from you, monster!” Yellow held out her arms in defiance against the mysterious cloaked figure. Red had been protecting and saving her ever since they met, and it was her turn to return the favor.

                                “I see now that your mind has become poisoned with misconceptions and lies. I will have to correct that.”

                                “How many times do we have to tell you?” Red asked as he managed to get to his feet. “She’s not going with you.”

                                “Silence!” The mysterious stranger lifted his hand towards Red to choke him again.

                                “NO!” Yellow held out both of her arms towards the stranger and a white light radiated from her, spreading around her entire body and engulfing the entire ship and everything around it.
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                                Old February 28th, 2018 (7:21 AM).
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                                BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                The Mustachioed Machamp
                                   
                                  Join Date: Apr 2013
                                  Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                                  Age: 23
                                  Gender: Male
                                  Nature: Quiet
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                                  Chapter 37
                                  Spoiler:
                                  The first thing Red noticed was the feel of the sand beneath him, followed by the sound of waves crashing against the shore. He slowly opened his eyes and sat up, to find that he was on what appeared to be a small deserted island. Beside him was Yellow, who was also just waking up.

                                  “Where are we?” She asked as she got up. “What happened?”

                                  “I’m not sure.” Red had to grab his forehead due to a throbbing headache. “The last thing I remember was…” He tried to think. “The S.S. Anne was on fire, and then it there was a storm. I think… Some Gyarados showed up and were going to destroy the ship?”

                                  “I remember that. And that mean guy from the mountain tossed Maggie away.” Tears started to well up in Yellow’s eyes.

                                  “That’s right. The Gyarados must have wrecked the ship and we washed up here.”

                                  “I’m never going to see Maggie again, am I?” The tears started flowing down hard as Yellow cried. Red hugged her tightly to comfort the girl.

                                  “You don’t have to worry about that.” The two quickly turned around to find the source of the new voice. Behind the, was a large rock, roughly 20 feet in height and shaped almost like a giant fang. At the base of the rock was a small cave, inside which they could faintly see a small figure standing there. “Your Gyarados was the one who brought you here. She should still be swimming around the island.”
                                  Just then, Red and Yellow heard the sound of something emerging from the water and they turned around to see a Gyarados waiting there.

                                  “Maggie!” Yellow hopped to her feet and ran over to her Pokémon. Red followed her as the girl hugged her first Pokémon, her arms not even reaching half way along the massive Pokémon’s thick body. Red handed Maggie’s empty Pokéball to Yellow, who took it and recalled Maggie back into it. “I’m never letting you out of my sight again!”

                                  “It’s always nice to see such happy reunions.” Said the figure in the cave.

                                  Red turned back to see the person again, just in time to see the entire cave lit up by a blue lightning bolt. The lightning was being held by the person in the cave like a staff or walking stick, its light revealing the man’s features. But he wasn’t a man.

                                  “You’re a…” Red was dumbfounded. “You’re a Pikachu?”

                                  The Electric Mouse Pokémon chuckled, his voice being surprisingly deep for something of his small size. “Yes, I am a Pikachu. But I’m not a normal Pikachu as I’m sure you can tell.”

                                  The Pikachu walked out of the cave and into the sunlight, allowing Red and yellow to get a closer look at him.

                                  “You’re cheeks are blue.” Yellow noticed. “And your ears and stripes to.”

                                  “A Pikachu with blue markings…” Red muttered to himself. “That sounds familiar…”

                                  “I should hope so.” The Pikachu laughed again. “Otherwise that would mean that your kind have stopped telling the stories of my exploits. For you see, I am…” The Pikachu paused for dramatic effect. “Pikoa! Guardian of the Seas!”

                                  * * *

                                  “I think I’m starting to get seasick.” Brock groaned.

                                  “We’re almost to land.” Replied Misty. “I’m sure of it.”

                                  “How many hours have we been out here?” Ash asked aloud.

                                  “I’m telling you we’re almost there!”

                                  “I think I see something!” Carmine stood up and lost his balance, almost falling off the Lapras.

                                  “Sit down!” Misty yelled at him. “And I see it too. The shore’s just up ahead.”

                                  Lapras surfed towards the land and eventually the group were able to make their way onto a sandy beach overlooked by a steep cliff.

                                  “Not ideal.” Brock said. “But it’s better than being on the water for any longer.”

                                  “How are we supposed to get up there?” Ash asked the others as Misty recalled her Lapras.

                                  “I thought you were supposed to be an expert climber.” Carmine pointed out. “It’s the one thing you’ve always been good at.”

                                  “That doesn’t mean I can scale a thirty foot cliff!”

                                  “How about we just go over there?” Misty pointed down the shore, where the cliff steadily sloped down to shore-level.

                                  “Right. I knew that was there.” Brock said a little too defensively.”

                                  * * *

                                  “How do we get back to land?” Red asked Pikoa.

                                  “You’re on land.” The unusual Pikachu pointed out. “But if you want to get back to the mainland, I can help you out. Just ride your Gyarados across the ocean, I can guide you.”

                                  Obediently, Yellow pulled out Maggie’s Pokéball and tossed it out over the ocean. Maggie dove into the water and surfaced again by the shoreline. Red lifted Yellow up onto Maggie’s back and then climbed on himself. He then held a hand out to help Pikoa get on, but the Pikachu instead ran out to the waves and leapt out onto the water. He seemed to slide along the surface as if her were surfing as a wave formed below him that seemed to follow his will.

                                  Pikoa surfed a lap around Maggie, who was slowly swimming away from shore. As he went out in front of her, he gestured back for Maggie to follow him, which she did. They made their way across the ocean at breakneck speed until they finally reached the shore. Red and Yellow climbed off of Maggie onto a long section of some kind of boardwalk.

                                  “If memory serves,” Pikoa scratched his chin, “This is what you humans would know as Route 13. If you head north you should reach Lavender Town, south will lead you Fuchsia and west should take you to… Vermilion, I think.”

                                  “Thanks for your help!” Yellow called back to him.

                                  “Yes, thank you.” Red added. “I don’t know what we would have done without you.”

                                  “It was no trouble at all!” Pikoa nodded back to them. “It’s just nice to get company once in a while. Until we meet again, humans!”

                                  Pikoa surfed away while Red and Yellow waved in goodbye. When he had left, the two turned around and made their way north to Lavender.

                                  “I used to hear stories of Pikoa when I was young.” Red commented as they walked. “But I always thought they were just old myths. He’d have to be thousands of years old at this point.”

                                  “What kind of stories were they?” Yellow asked inquisitively.

                                  “Mostly stories about a surfing Pikachu who could control the waves and carried as staff of lightning. He would go around helping fishers and sailors when they were lost at sea. But those stories are thousands of years old. He certainly matches the descriptions given in those old stories, but he’d have to be ancient.”

                                  Red let out a depressed sigh, which caught yellow’s attention.

                                  “What’s wrong?”

                                  “I’m worried about my mom.” Red answered with sincerity. “She’s probably worrying herself sick right now, and I mean that literally. I need to find a phone.”

                                  “But don’t you have one of those PokéGear things like what Daisy has?”

                                  “I wish.”

                                  * * *

                                  Ash’s group made their way along the shore until they managed to reach the end of the cliff, then decided to walk up the cliff to get a better viewpoint to figure out where they were. To their surprise there was actually a small town at the top of the cliff.

                                  “I’ve heard of this place.” Brock said. “This is Maiden’s Peak.”

                                  “How do you know that?” Ash asked him.

                                  Brock pointed to a statue of a woman situated at the center of the cliff’s peak, overlooking the ocean.

                                  “The town is named for that statue, which is said to hold the spirit of a young woman who waited for her lover to return from an ancient war long ago. They say that she waited, standing there, for her lover’s boat to return from the war. But the boat never returned, so she waited until her body eventually turned to stone.”

                                  “I wonder if the boat was destroyed by Gyarados?” Ash mused.

                                  “It wouldn’t surprise me.” Misty said. “Gyarados are renowned for their legendary tempers. Boats thses days have to be specifically designed not to attract them.”

                                  “Then I wonder what caught the attention of the ones who attacked the S.S. Anne?”

                                  “We may never know.” Carmine said seriously. “Though I’m more curious about what that white flash was right before we were blown away from the ship.”

                                  “I just hope everyone else mad it.” Ash hung his head down.

                                  “I’m sure their all just fine.” Misty reassured Ash, though she didn’t really believe her own words. “Some of the best trainers in the area were on that ship. I’m sure they managed to get everyone to safety.”
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                                  Old March 1st, 2018 (9:14 AM).
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                                  BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                  The Mustachioed Machamp
                                     
                                    Join Date: Apr 2013
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                                    Chapter 38
                                    Spoiler:
                                    Gary woke up in an unfamiliar hospital room, looking up at a plain, white ceiling. “Where am I?” He muttered as he sat up.

                                    “Nice to see that you’re finally awake.” Kat stood up from the chair beside Gary’s bed that he had been sitting in.

                                    “What happened?” Gary asked his cousin.

                                    “The ship went down. No one knows exactly what happened, but they found all of us washed up on the shoreline near Route 11. We’re in a hospital in Vermilion right now. I heard that they’ve had to get doctors from all over the region here to treat everyone.”

                                    “Where are the others? Is Daisy alright?” Fear was starting to sound in his normally prideful voice.
                                    Kat pointed to the next bed over. Gary looked over to where she was pointing and saw that Daisy was lying unconscious in the bed.

                                    “The doctor said that she has a mild concussion and a few minor injuries here and there, but that she’s in fairly good shape. Apparently everyone is in pretty good shape considering what happens, but that just adds more confusion as to what actually did happen. Kat sat back down again. “By the way, Mal, Sue and Ciel are all over in the waiting room. Ali and Cleo are on their way home to Pallet. They said that they can’t put up with this anymore.”

                                    “What about Ash? Red?”

                                    “I’m afraid that no one’s seen them.” Kat looked down to the ground. “They weren’t with the rest of us when we were found. Lorelei of the Elite Four said that Ash and his traveling companions should be fine. She saw them riding off on a Lapras which she was adamant would be able to take them safely through even the worst storms. They probably just made their way to a different shore then the rest of us. We don’t know about Red or the girl he was with though.”

                                    “I feel like I’m largely responsible for what happened to that girl.” A doctor who had just entered the room. “I was the one who signed off to let her go with him.” The doctor forced a smile, which years of practice made sure looked completely genuine, and turned to Gary. “Hello, my name is Doctor Sallow and I will be overseeing your recovery. How are you feeling, today?”

                                    “My entire body feels sore and I have a bad headache.” Gary complained.

                                    “I’m sorry to hear that.” Doctor Sallow said while checking the clipboard hanging from the end of Gary’s bed.

                                    “Do you have any idea when my sister will wake up?” Gary looked over to the unconscious Daisy.

                                    “She should be waking up any moment now, actually.” The Doctor said as he put the clipboard down and turned towards the girl.

                                    Sure enough, Daisy’s eyes flickered open as she slowly became aware of her surroundings.

                                    “What happened? Where am I?” She asked as she sat up and raised one of her hands up to her forehead.

                                    * * *

                                    David Oak set his phone back onto its receiver and looked up. He was sitting at his desk in his home office back in Pallet Town. Sitting in the many chairs that lined the room were friends and family. They all waited with baited breath.

                                    “That was the hospital.” David announced. “Gary and Daisy are both awake and fine, but I’m afraid there’s still no sign of the others.”

                                    The members of the Oak family and most of their close friends that were there all gave a collective sigh of relief. The two women who were sitting off to the side of the room, however, still looked depressed. Delia Ketchum tried her hardest to remain calm with the situation for the benefit of the other woman, and overall was doing a fairly good job of keeping her composure. She placed a comforting arm around the woman that was sitting in the seat beside her, who was taking the news, or rather the lack of news, much harder than Delia was.

                                    Sariah Redwood was a rather frail woman. Ever since her ex-boyfriend left her almost eleven years ago and she was left to raise their son on her own, Sariah’s health had been in a constant and continuous state of decline. Over the years she had been reduced to little more than skin and bones, with a sickly pale complexion. She also had coughing fits that she was normally been able to keep relatively under control, but had recently started to become more and more frequent with time.

                                    Unlike some of the others in Pallet Town, Sariah was not a particularly wealthy person, and her medical expenses would have outright bankrupted her long ago if were not for the generosity of Delia and the Oaks, who were willing to pay her medical bills for her. But even so, life was an uphill battle for Sariah, until recently when her health had finally started to balance out. But now the stress of current events was quickly undoing any progress she had made and if anything she was now in worse shape than ever.

                                    “Red will be just fine.” Delia reassured Sariah.

                                    “I’m sure he probably just ended up on another beach and is looking for a phone right now to let you know he’s fine.” Professor Oak added.

                                    “Thank you. That means a lot to me.” Sarah said between her crying and a few coughs.

                                    The phone rang again and David picked it up almost instantly. His eyes grew wide as the person calling started to speak and a live video of the caller popped up on the phone console’s display.

                                    “Yes, she’s right here.” He spoke into the phone. “Hold on a moment, I’m going to put you on speaker.”

                                    David pressed a button on the console and turned it around so that the others could see who it was.

                                    “Hi, Mom!” Red called out over the phone. “I called home but there was no answer. I figured this was the next best number to call. I’m doing just fine!”

                                    Sariah instantly started to feel better at the sight of her son, alive and safe. She let out another cough before greeting him in return.

                                    “I’m so glad you’re okay, Samuel.”

                                    “Hi, Red’s Mom!” Yellow came into view of the screen and waved at the screen on the phone they were calling from until Red pointed her to the camera.

                                    “Who’s that?” Sariah asked in confusion.

                                    “Oh, right.” Red embarrassment was made clear by the expression on his face. ”I keep forgetting to call and let you what’s going on. This is Yellow.”

                                    Red told them the story of his adventures since leaving Pallet Town. He was fairly detailed for the most part of his story, but he did make sure not to mention their meeting with Pikoa. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of that encounter, so he thought it would be best not to mention it to anyone yet.

                                    “And so we made our wayup north to the Route 12 Gateway, which is where we’re calling from using a payphone. The way to Vermilion was blocked by a sleeping Snorlax, and they’re know to sleep for days on end, so we’re going to head up to Lavender Town next.”

                                    “Well, be safe.” His mother replied. “And make sure to check in more often.”

                                    “And if you see Ash, tell him to call in more, too!” Delia added, confident that if Red and Yellow had made it to safety, that her son and his friends would too.

                                    “I will. Goodbye!” Red waved to the screen as he reached over to end the call.

                                    “Bye!” Yellow added just before the call ended.

                                    “Well that certainly puts a heavy weight off of all of us.” David said as he turned the phone back to its normal position. “It’s good to know Samuel is alright.”

                                    “Although I am a bit curious about that girl, Yellow.” Professor Oak stroked his thin thoughtfully. “I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen her somewhere before, but I can’t seem to place her anywhere. That’s why I didn’t bring it up.”

                                    “I suppose it’s only natural that Red would be good with taking care of people like that.” Sariah said. “After all, sometimes it felt like he was taking care of me as much as I taking care of him when he was growing up.”
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                                    Old March 2nd, 2018 (7:34 AM).
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                                    BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                    The Mustachioed Machamp
                                       
                                      Join Date: Apr 2013
                                      Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                                      Age: 23
                                      Gender: Male
                                      Nature: Quiet
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                                      Chapter 39
                                      Spoiler:
                                      After awaking on land with no memory of how she got there, Zoroark made her way north. The Dark-type Pokémon was succumbing to fatigue and had no idea where she was going or how she would get there, but she was determined to get there.

                                      She started moving at a sprint, but eventually had to slow down to walking, and then she had to crawl. Eventually she was just dragging herself across the ground as she reached a heavily wooded area that reminded her of somewhat of her home. It was at this point that whatever little strength she had left was gone and she blacked out for a while.

                                      * * *

                                      Built around Maiden’s Peak was a small town called Maiden’s Village, which was currently celebrating its annual Summer Festival, as Ash and his companions soon learned after entering the village. Paper lanterns and strings of lights lit up the whole area as the sun set over the horizon and the sound of drums could be heard in the distance. People filed the streets, dressed in traditional celebratory garb as they participated in various games and activities, or just generally enjoying themselves.

                                      Ash’s gang were too tired to really get involved in any of the celebrations however, and decided to just find somewhere to stay for the night. The small town did not have a Pallet House or even just a Pokémon Center, so they had to search around for a small, very traditional inn. The group checked in for the night and went off to their rooms.

                                      “Now that were settled in, I’m going to call back home and let everyone know we’re alright.” Carmine announced to Ash and Brock after they had settled down into their shared room. “Although I should probably find somewhere private to make the call from, first. These walls feel like they’re paper thin. Isn’t that right, Misty?”

                                      “It’s almost like the walls are actually made of paper.” Misty agreed. Despite being in the next room over, it still sounded as if she was right there with the others.

                                      Carmine walked out of the room, leaving Ash and Brock to get ready to go to bed. The beds were of an old design, like everything there, and seemed to be little more than just mats on the floor.

                                      “I’ve stayed somewhere that feels so… rustic.” Ash noted. “It feels really weird.”

                                      “I like it.” Brock said. “It gives me an idea of what it was like for people back in older times.”

                                      “I know, right.” Misty added in, still in the other room. “It’s so nice to just take a break from the modern industrial society and enjoy a simpler time.”

                                      Ash shrugged. “I guess I just don’t see the appeal. Although it looks like Pika and Volty seem to be enjoying it.”

                                      The two Pikachu were resting at the foot of Ash’s mat. They were curled up so that their heads were resting against each other’s sides and their tails formed a ring wrapped around them.

                                      “Is that normal behavior for Pikachu?” Ash wondered aloud.

                                      “Pikachu are known to huddle together for warmth at night.” Brock pointed out.

                                      “I think they already fell asleep.” Ash observed. “And I think I’ll join them.”

                                      * * *

                                      Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur had been wandering around ever since their confrontation with Damian and deciding to challenge the Pokémon League by themselves. Unfortunately they had yet to find a way to do so without a human trainer, so they had been spending their time wandering in a desperate attempt to find anything that could help them in their goals. They eventually found themselves traveling south on Route 6, where they found an unfamiliar black and red Pokémon collapsed onto the ground. The Pokémon seemed to be sleeping, but awoke as they approached it.

                                      “Are you alright?” Bulbasaur asked the barely conscious Pokémon as he lifted it up to its feet with his vines.

                                      “I must find…” the Pokémon moaned, “my son.”

                                      “Well I’m afraid you won’t be able to find anything in the shape you’re in right now.” Charmander told the mysterious Pokémon. “Come with us, we’ll help you recover your strength so that you can continue your search.”

                                      The group made their way off the beaten trail and made a small shelter. Bulbasaur fashioned a leaf into a cup, which Squirtle filled with water for the black Pokémon drank graciously while Charmander went off in search of berries to eat.

                                      “Thank you.” The Pokémon said. “My name is Zoroark.”

                                      “Hmm…” Squirtle thought about something. “Have we met before?”

                                      “I don’t think so.” Zoroark answered.

                                      “It’s just…” Squirtle said. “Your voice seems very familiar to me.”

                                      “I know!” Bulbasaur chimed in. “You sound like that one won weird lady we met that one time.”

                                      “The human woman who could understand our speech.” Squirtle remembered.

                                      “I know what you’re talking about.” A look of realization crossed Zoroark’s face. “That was me.”

                                      * * *

                                      Giovannni sat alone in his office watching a news report about the S.S. Anne.

                                      “Interesting.” He said to himself.

                                      Just then a small red light started flashing on Giovanni’s desk. He quickly turned off the news report and pressed a button underneath the desk and nine large screens slid down the wall in front of him. The center screen lit up to show a slightly plump blonde man in a white suit.

                                      “Are you insane?” The man yelled furiously at Giovanni. “What were you thinking, pulling a stunt like that?”

                                      “I assure you, destroying that ship was not our intent.” Giovanni politely told the angry man. “It was merely an unfortunate coincidence.”

                                      “Like the Distortion World it was! The Foundation was barely able to make it through the Cipher incident last year without anyone getting suspicious. The last thing we need right now is you complicating things any further. Another stunt like this and we’re cutting you off!”

                                      “Relax, Mr. President.” Giovanni’s calm demeanor remained completely unfazed. “The International Police can’t even touch us without having to risk Operation Pay Day taking effect.”

                                      “You do realize that scheme of yours would affect everyone, right?” The blonde man was clearly uneasy with the mention of Giovanni’s contingency plan. “Not just the police, but every government would be ruined. Even the Foundation would be affected if that happened. Even you would be.”

                                      “That’s exactly what makes it so effective of a threat.” Giovanni replied. “No one wants it to happen, even you. Which is why the Foundation will maintain its support of Team Rocket.”

                                      The blonde man stared angrily at Giovanni, then finally spoke. “I’m calling a meeting of the council.”

                                      “Go right ahead.”

                                      The man pressed a button on his white desk and slowly, one by one, the other screens each lit up to show another member of the mysterious council until only one remained blank.

                                      “I hereby this meeting of the council to order.” The blonde man announced. “As president of the Foundation, I make a movement too…”

                                      The man trailed off as suddenly the last screen lit up and an unexpected guest joined their meeting.

                                      “I hope I’m not too late.” Said Hunter J.

                                      “Who are you.” Asked the man in white asked angrily. “How did you reach this channel?”

                                      “You would know me as Hunter J.” The woman said slyly. “As I understand it, your little club is now short a member now that Es Cade is in prison and Cipher has disbanded. I am here to announce myself as his replacement.”

                                      “Es Cade didn’t have a replacement.” Pointed out a bespectacled, red haired man. “None of us do.”

                                      “But she has a point.” Said a serious looking man with light blue hair. “We need a tenth member and Es Cade is gone.”

                                      “But how do we know we can trust the lass?” Asked a large, heavily tanned man.

                                      “Giovanni can vouch for me, can’t you?” Hunter J said with a flirtatious smile.

                                      “You pouched two of my agents and left five more to die on the wreckage of the S.S. Anne.” Giovanni explained. “The only thing I have to say about you is that you cannot be trusted.”

                                      “They chose to join me.” Hunter J explained. “And your other men made it out just fine, from what my sources say.”

                                      “I like this woman.” Said a man with long, puffy green hair. “I vote for her to join.”

                                      “This isn’t up to a vote, yet.” The man in white said. “Although we do need to replace Es Cade’s seet on the council. In one week the nine of us will meet to discuss possible candidates. After that we shall hold a vote. If we vote for you to join “Hunter J” then we will contact you. Otherwise you are not to contact us again. If you have not heard from us by the end of the month than you are to destroy the transceiver you used to reach us and forget this frequency. Tell no one of our existence or the consequences will be dire for you.”
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                                      Old March 3rd, 2018 (7:56 AM).
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                                      BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                      The Mustachioed Machamp
                                         
                                        Join Date: Apr 2013
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                                        Age: 23
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                                        Chapter 40
                                        Spoiler:
                                        “I guess this is it.” Pikachu muttered to herself, lying still on a sandy beach in some unknown place, unable to open her eyes for fear of where she would find herself. “I have failed her. After I tried so hard to do everything in my power to stop him from taking her, he was still able to get to her anyway. What was I even thinking? There was no way I could stop him. He’s too powerful for me to stop. For anybody to be able to stop.”

                                        “Well, it may seem that way, but clearly someone or something was able to stop him, otherwise we wouldn’t still be around to think about it.”

                                        Pikachu was shocked to hear the familiar voice, but not enough to open her eyes. Not that it would do any good as the voice was projected into her mind, meaning that even if she did look around, Abraham wouldn’t be there to see anyway.

                                        “So I guess that means I’m still alive at least, or else you’re dead too.” Pikachu thought back to the Psychic Pokémon.

                                        “No, you’re definitely alive. I’d say probably somewhere on one of the islands south of the Kanto mainland. I can’t quite pinpoint your location to bring you back, but I can still connect to you via the psychic link we’ve been using to communicate.”

                                        “Oh, goody.”

                                        “Yellow’s safe by the way. I’m not quite sure what happened but we washed up on an island and were able to find our way back on Maggie, being guided by some sort of ancient water-Pikachu-deity thing. I’m not really sure what he was.”

                                        Pikachu’s ears perked up at the news.

                                        “She’s safe? I never thought she’d be able to get away from him in a direct confrontation.”

                                        “Well she did, somehow. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him continuing his pursuit. My guess would be that whatever happened drained enough of his power to force him to retreat and recuperate. Hopefully it will buy us enough time to find a more permanent solution than just ‘keep a low profile and hope he doesn’t find her.’ Because I think we both know that isn’t going to work.”

                                        “For someone who doesn’t actually talk, you’re quite the chatterbox.” Pikachu remarked.

                                        “I only seem that way to you because you’re so stoic.”

                                        “And what do you propose we could do to stop him, anyway? What could possibly stop something with his power.”

                                        “A Legendary.”

                                        “What?” Pikachu said blankly.

                                        “I don’t know how we’ll find one or get it to help us, but the only solution in fighting something that has been granted such power would be with something that already has enough power to equal it. A Legendary Pokémon.”

                                        “Good luck with that.” Pikachu sighed. “I’m just going to enjoy my rest here and find a more practical solution.”

                                        Abraham didn’t say, or rather, think, anything else. Pikachu took that as a sign that he had left their mental conversation for the time being. She continued to lay there motionless for a while before finally deciding it was time to get up and figure out where she actually was. She crept one eye open, and then the other, before standing up and taking a look around.

                                        “Well, none of this looks familiar at all.” Pikachu said to herself. “Though that’s not really all that surprising. I guess I should probably try and find some higher ground to get a better look around.”

                                        * * *

                                        Pika was suddenly rolled onto the ground, falling hard onto the wooden floor. Pika opened his eyes to see what had disturbed them, to see Ash leaving the room. The trainer was still in his pajamas and seemed to be in some sort of trance as he walked out the door. Pika shook his partner awake and Volty opened her eyes groggily in response.

                                        “What?” Volty asked sleepily.

                                        “Something’s wrong with Ash.” Pikachu whispered to her, not wanting to wake the others about this matter, yet. “He just left without us.”

                                        Sleepiness suddenly left Volty as she was shocked awake by that information. “Should we go after him?”

                                        “Of course we should.” Pika responded. “Come on, before we lose track of him.”

                                        The two Pikachu ran out of the inn and chased after their trainer. Pika ran as fast as he could, while Volty used her Quick attack to make short sprints so quickly that it looked almost like she was teleporting. They caught up to Ash as he made his way slowly towards the statue of the maiden. Pika and Volty each grabbed onto one of Ash’s legs and tried to pull him back, but they were not strong enough. Finally, Pika gave up on that idea and shocked Ash with Thunderbolt.

                                        “Aagh!” Ash yelled, then looked around in confusion. “Wait… where am I? What am I doing?” He turned back to see his two Pikachu, who looked relieved to see that Ash had regained his senses. “What’s going on, guys?”

                                        Suddenly, a wall of ghostly fire encircled the trio, trapping them in the spot.

                                        “You will not escape so easily.” A deep, raspy voice echoed through the flame-lit field. “She is expecting you, and I will make sure that she is denied your presence no longer. She has waited too long already.”
                                        Pika and Volty leapt onto Ash’s shoulder as the three all looked around to try and find the source of the haunting voice. A spectral image suddenly faded into view in front of them of a dark sphere surrounded by a purple fog materialized. Two big white eyes suddenly opened wide on the sphere and a huge mouth spit out its tongue before the sphere vanished into nothingness again.

                                        Ash fell to the ground in shock from the sudden ghostly appearance and he instinctively reached down to grab his Pokédex, which had been left back at the inn.

                                        “Who… who are you?”

                                        “I am the one who will reunite the maiden with her lost love. The one who has spent countless centuries waiting for his soul to return here. You may call me…” The sphere suddenly appeared behind Ash’s shoulder. “Ghastly!”

                                        Ash stumbled forward at the sudden appearance of the ghost and almost walked right into the ghostly blue flames surrounding them.

                                        “But what do I have to do with that?” Ash asked, fear evident in his voice.

                                        “Why, you have everything to do with it, of course.”

                                        Pika jumped at Ghastly and swung down its tail in a Brick Break, but the attack passed harmlessly through the air as the ghost faded away again. Pikachu landed on the ground and looked around in confusion.

                                        “Oh, don’t think you’ll be able to get the best of me that easily.” Ghastly’s voice haunted the air. “The maiden has been waiting a long time for her love to return to her and now that I am so close to reuniting them, I won’t let anything stop me.”

                                        * * *

                                        Looker and his team, currently consisting of himself, Lance, 009, Wes, Rui and Lorelei, made their way back to their headquarters in Viridian with the aid of 009’s Alakazam.

                                        “I never thought I’d miss this place so much.” Wes remarked.

                                        “That could have gone much better.” Said Lance.

                                        “Ja.” Looker agreed. “Though we should be grateful that it did not turn out worse.”

                                        “How could that have gone worse?” Rui asked.

                                        “Everyone on that ship could have drowned at sea.” 009 explained. “But as it happens, there are no confirmed casualties. Almost everyone was accounted for when we awoke after the storm, and those who weren’t have since been confirmed as alive.”

                                        “But I am curious as to what attracted those Gyarados.” Lorelei said. “All I can think of would be the fire. But who’s Salamence was that, that started the fire in the first place?”

                                        “I believe that the Salamence in question belonged to the mercenary known as Hunter J.” Looker explained. “The International Police have been after her for quite some time, but we have been unable to capture her or even learn her true identity.”

                                        “Her name is Jael Jaeger.”

                                        Everyone turned to look at Wes.

                                        “How do you know that?” Looker asked him.

                                        “Jaeger.” Rui mouthed the name in recognition. “But that’s… it’s your…”

                                        “It’s my last name.” Wes confirmed. “Because she’s my mother. At least with the biological sense of the term, anyway.”
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                                        Old March 4th, 2018 (8:16 AM).
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                                        BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                        The Mustachioed Machamp
                                           
                                          Join Date: Apr 2013
                                          Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                                          Age: 23
                                          Gender: Male
                                          Nature: Quiet
                                          Posts: 145
                                          Chapter 41
                                          Spoiler:
                                          Pikachu hopped back onto Ash’s shoulder as the sound of Ghastly’s laughter echoed around them. The Ghost materialized again in front of Ash and continued speaking. Pika and Volty took the opportunity to strike, sending out dual Thunderbolts which collided in the air to merge into a larger electric strike which was able to zap Ghastly directly. The ghost reeled back from the blast towards the flames behind him. But to the shock of Ash and his Pikachu, Ghastly did not actually touch the fire. In fact, the entire ring of fire seemed to move back to keep Ghastly within it, forcing Ash to take several steps forward to avoid being burned by it.

                                          “Why do you continue to fight against the inevitable?” Ghastly asked in a pained voice. “No matter what you do, I will unite the lovers.”

                                          “I still don’t know what you’re talking about!” Ash shouted in frustration.

                                          “It would appear that you need a sample of my power to get you to cooperate. Now… let’s see what it is you fear most…”

                                          Ghastly faded away again and for a moment there was complete silence. A shadow formed on the ground beneath where Ghastly had been and slowly grew out of the ground. Ash and his Pikachu watched in shock as the shadow took form.

                                          * * *

                                          “Alright, we had a little setback, but now it’s time to get back on track!” Gary said triumphantly as he walked out of the hospital alongside his sister. Kat and the others trailed behind the two. “Onwards to Lavender!”

                                          “You’re going to Lavender Town?” Daisy asked her brother in surprise.

                                          “Yeah, what’s it to you?”

                                          “Well, I was thinking about going with you for a bit, but if you’re going to that haunted ghost town then count me out.”

                                          “What? Don’t tell me that you’re afraid of a few ghosts.” Gary teased her.

                                          “You know those ghosts are just rumors, right?” Ciel asked the two.

                                          “No they’re not.” Kat argued. “I’ve seen a few.”

                                          Daisy froze up in panic at that remark.

                                          “Of course, they’re only Ghost-type Pokémon.” Kat teased.

                                          “I don’t care.” Daisy waved her hand through the air in a dismissive manor. “I’m not going to Lavender Town with you and that’s that.”

                                          “I never said you could come, anyway.” Gary pointed out.

                                          * * *

                                          “You’s called for us?” Meowth asked as he, James, Jessie, Attila and Hun hesitantly walked into Giovanni’s office. Their leader looked upset about something, but his frown quickly changed into a slight smile as he saw them.

                                          “Yes.” Giovanni said calmly. “I wish to discuss your mission. You failed to capture any Pokémon, three of your teammates went AWOL and you’ve attracted the unwanted attention from some very powerful people.”

                                          The members of Team Rocket all froze, each waiting in anticipation for what horrible punishments they would receive from their failure.

                                          “However,” Giovanni continued, “that means our membership in only down by three traitors and the world now thinks much more highly of our threat. This has served as an even greater example of what happens when people try to interfere with us than I ever could have hoped. You may have failed the mission that you were assigned, but you’ve still done will enough to earn yourselves a promotion… Elite Squadron.”

                                          The five stood there in surprised shock. Seeing their reaction, Giovanni decided to continue further.

                                          “However, you will need to fill out the missing positions of your team, so I have hand selected three new members of your Squadron.” He waved towards the door and Agrnt Masque walked into the room, followed by Butch and Cassidy. But something seemed odd about the two. They seemed cold and emotionless, while their eyes seemed like they no longer reflected light. They had been changed in the same way that Masque had. Their hearts had been closed up, leaving them as only shadows of their former selves.

                                          “As it happens, I don’t have another assignment for you quite yet. So I suggest you do some training to get to work better with your new teammates. That will be all for now, you may go.”

                                          * * *

                                          “Behold your greatest fear!” Ghastly laughed evilly. “It is…” The ghost’s voice faltered. “you?”

                                          The black mass had formed into a duplicate of Ash, though the copy did have a few noticeable differences. The copy didn’t carry himself with quite the same air of confidence that the real Ash had developed and looked almost like he was slightly younger. A duplicate of Pika rested on the fake Ash’s shoulder, but with no Volty besides him. The copy stared meekly at Ash, who looked back with unease.

                                          “I don’t get it.” Ghastly rematerialized next to the real Ash. “Are you truly afraid of yourself?”

                                          “No.” Ash said, more to himself than to Ghastly. “I don’t think that’s me. Something’s different about him.”

                                          The fake Ash assumed a fighting position, with the fake Pikachu’s cheeks sparked with electricity.

                                          “Come on! Let’s battle!” The fake Ash challenged his true counterpart.

                                          “I guess I don’t have a choice.” Ash held out his right arm, giving Pika his cue to enter the battle.

                                          Pika hopped onto the ground between the two Ashes, his mirror duplicate doing the same. Ash and his counterfeit copy both gave their Pikachu their first orders and the two Pokémon acted at once. The fake Pikachu launched a Thunderbolt at Pika, who shrugged off the attack and retaliated with a Brick Break. Pika’s tail slammed against the imposter and sent him flying out of the ring of fire.

                                          “Looks like you won this fight,” the duplicate Ash said, “but how about a rematch?”

                                          “You don’t have another Pokémon.” Ash pointed out.

                                          Another illusory Pikachu materialized when the first one had stood. Ash sighed as the battle begun again. The copy Pikachu tried to use Thunderbolt again, only to be knocked away by another Brick Break.

                                          “Wow, you’re good. But I bet you can’t beat me again.”

                                          “I think I’m starting to get it.” Ash said as Pika defeated a third copy. “This isn’t me at all. Or at least, not the me that I am.” A fourth Pikachu showed up, and Pika defeated it like the others. “It’s would I could have been. What I could still be.” Pika defeated a fifth Pikachu. “This is an Ash Ketchum who never learned, a me that has dedicated so much to becoming a Pokémon Trainer that he has forgotten his, no, my true goals.”

                                          “Come on. I’ll win eventually!” The fake said after Pika defeated yet another copy Pikachu.

                                          “I still don’t understand.” Ghastly said.

                                          “I always thought that I wanted to be a Pokémon Trainer and eventually become a Pokémon Master. It’s what we all wanted to be back in Pallet Town and I felt I had to surpass my friends. But seeing this me has made me realize something.”

                                          “What?”

                                          Ash turned to the Ghost. “I want to be more than that. I want to grow up. If I were to pursue that goal endlessly, I’ll never really amount to anything. I can’t afford to let life pass me by as I widdle away my time were working towards endless pursuits.”

                                          “That’s deep.” Ghastly nodded wisely. “And I was just trying to scare you to death. Literally.”

                                          “I still don’t understand why you want me.”

                                          Ghastly looked at Ash, then to the copy. The ghost decided to let his illusions fade away and the wall of fire surrounding them died down.

                                          “I’m assuming you’ve heard the story of Maiden’s Peak?”

                                          “One of my friends told me about it earlier.”

                                          “Well, after the maiden passed on, I agreed to help return her love to her. I’ve been spending the centuries since then looking for him, but obviously humans don’t live this long. So, instead of searching for him, I’ve been looking for someone who shares his soul. And as it happens, I’ve found it in you.”

                                          “But I’m not him.” Ash pointed out.

                                          “I know. I let my quest take over me, much like you’re worried will happen to you. But now I realized that I failed my quest long ago and will never be able to reunite them.”

                                          “That’s okay.” Ash jumped when he heard the sound of a woman’s voice behind him. He then got an even bigger scare as he turned to see who it was and saw the maiden’s ghost floating there. “I understand and I think that after all this time that we have finally met the point where we must both move on.”

                                          “You’re right, Hanami. It is time. But what should we do now?”

                                          “You could help me in my quest.” Ash said once he regained his senses. “You are a Pokémon, right Ghastly?”

                                          “Yes.” The Ghost-type Pokémon eyed him warily. “But I thought you were giving up on becoming a Pokémon Master.”

                                          “Don’t be ridicules.” Ash smiled. “I’m not giving up on my dream just yet.” He then dropped his smile and his tone became more serious. “I just need to make sure that I don’t let it take over me and I’m sure you can help with that.”

                                          “Fine.” Ghastly nodded. “You have a deal. But what about you?” Ghastly turned back to the maiden’s ghost.

                                          “If it is alright, I would like to travel with you as well.” The woman said. “At least until I find something else to do.”

                                          “Sure.” Ash said, holding out his arm to shake her hand. “Of course you’re welcome to.”

                                          The maiden. Hanami, looked down at Ash’s hand and giggled. Ash then pulled his hand back in embarrassment, realizing that a ghost had no physical form, and therefore could not shake his hand.
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                                          Old March 5th, 2018 (8:12 AM).
                                          BZRich64's Avatar
                                          BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                          The Mustachioed Machamp
                                             
                                            Join Date: Apr 2013
                                            Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                                            Age: 23
                                            Gender: Male
                                            Nature: Quiet
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                                            Chapter 42
                                            Spoiler:
                                            Daisy walked up to the Vermilion City Gym and held out Bulbasaur’s Pokéball. “This is it.” She said to her starter Pokémon. “We probably should have done this before getting on the S.S. Anne, but oh well. We’re going this now.”

                                            She walked into the large industrial building and immediately her hair began to frizz up from the acces static hanging in the air.

                                            “What…” Daisy had no idea what was going on.

                                            “Welcome to the Viridian Gym.” Lt. Surge greeted Daisy, who was greatly intimidated by the large man, standing at almost twice her height. “I’m guessing your here to earn the Thunder Badge.”

                                            “That’s right.” Daisy managed to get out. “My… my name’s Daisy.”

                                            “Alright. I think I remember seeing your records. Daisy Oak, right? You’ve got two badges already?”

                                            “That’s right.” Daisy confirmed.

                                            “Good, good. Then this will be a one-on –one fight like your previous Gym battles have been. Get to your position and we’ll start the match.”

                                            Surge jogged up to the opposite end of the battle field while Daisy nervously walked over to her end, still uneasy about the electricity flowing through the room. She called out her Bulbasaur while Surge sent out his Pikachu.

                                            “Use Sleep Powder!” Daisy called out to her Bulbasaur, who sprayed out a wave of pollen from the bulb on her back towards Surge’s Pikachu as it charged up to her for a Thunder Punch. The attack caused Pikachu to trip and fall to the ground asleep. Taking the opportunity, Bulbasaur launched a volley of Razor Leaf and lashed out with a Vine Whip. Both attacks hit Pikachu at the same time, knocking the Electric rodent back and also jarring it awake. Pikachu rushed up for another Thunder Punch, this time dodging out of the way of a Razor Leaf and hitting Bulbasaur right in the cheek. Electricity rushed through Bulbasaur with the shock of impact, paralyzing the Grass-type.

                                            Pikachu prepared to hit Bulbasaur with an Iron Tail, but was interrupted as Bulbasaur was able to spray a puff of Poison Powder right into Pikachu’s face, sending the Mouse Pokémon stumbling back in a coughing fit. Bulbasaur tried to take advantage of this by charging forward in a Takedown, but her paralysis left Bulbasaur unable to move fast enough and Pikachu was able to back away and fire a Thundershock at Bulbasaur.

                                            Bulbasaur launched another Razor Leaf, sending two of the leaves arcing forward in two directions. Pikachu easily dodged the attack and started running up to Bulbasaur to hit it with another Thunder Punch. Fortunately for Bulbasaur, she hadn’t really been aiming for Pikachu with that move and the two leaves finished their arcs, returning towards her and striking Pikachu in the back, knocking him to the ground.

                                            “This is it, Bulbasaur!” Daisy encouraged her Pokémon. “Finish the battle!”

                                            Bulbasaur lashed out with a Vine Whip, knocking Pikachu unconscious and winning the fight. With the battle won, Bulbasaur began to glow and grow into its evolved form, Ivysaur.

                                            “Very good.” Surge clapped lightly as he walked up to Daisy. “You’ve earned this.” He handed a Thunder Badge out to Daisy, who graciously accepted it.

                                            * * *

                                            Ash quietly snuck back into the inn, making sure not to wake anyone. Pika and Volty rode on his shoulders while Ghastly and Hanami silently floated behind him. As Ash reached his room, he reached into his backpack and pulled out an empty Pokéball, holding it out to Ghastly who gently bumped his against it and was engulfed by the red energy.

                                            “I’m going to go back to sleep now.” Ash whispered to Hanami as quietly as he could. “See you in a few hours.”

                                            “Actually…” Hanami said at her regular speaking voice, worrying Ash that she would wake up the others. “As a ghost, I can only be seen or heard when I choose to be. As such you will not be seeing me again until I choose for you to. I would also like to keep my presence a secret.”

                                            Ash nodded to the ghost girl and lied down on his sleeping mat, Pika and Volty returning to their resting place by his feat. Hanami watched as the boy fell asleep and after a while Ghastly left its new Pokéball.

                                            “He is the current vessel of Katsuo’s soul, is he not?” He asked her.

                                            “I cannot say for sure.” Hanami spoke mournfully. “It could just be a coincidence that he looks and feels the same as him. But either way it would be unfair to end the boy’s life just so that I could be reunited with my love. I have waited for over a thousand years for him to return to me, and I can surely wait another lifetime.”

                                            * * *

                                            “So what you’re saying is that you have the power to make yourself appear human?” Squirtle asked as he, Charmander and Bulbasaur finished listening to Zoroark’s story.

                                            “Yes. I just told you that a few second ago.” Zoroark pointed out.

                                            “I know. I was just confirming it to myself while I think.”

                                            “What are you thinking about?” Asked Charmander.

                                            “I think I have an idea. We need someone to help us go through the Pokémon League and Zoroark need to find her son. I think we can help each other out.”

                                            “How so?” Zoroark questioned.

                                            “You can turn into a human and register as a Pokémon Trainer. We could then go around collecting all of the Gym Badges while searching for leads on where this Hunter J lady is.”

                                            “That would never work.” Said Bulbasaur. “They’d see right through the disguise immediately.”

                                            “No, I think he’s on to something.” Charmander added.

                                            “Is no one going to ask me what I think?” Zoroark asked.

                                            “Right, this decision should be Zoroarks.” Said Squirtle. “Take your time to think about it.”

                                            “I don’t need any time. I’ll do it.”

                                            “Really?”

                                            “I have nowhere else to go.”

                                            * * *

                                            “Wow! That’s the biggest building I’ve ever seen!” Yellow looked up in awe at the massive tower before them as she a Red reached Lavender Town.

                                            “I think that would be the Pokémon Tower.” Red explained. “It’s supposed to be the tallest man-made structure in the region.”

                                            “Neat! Can we go there?”

                                            “I don’t think that would be a good idea.” Red said. “It’s a… well, it’s a cemetery.”

                                            Yellow’s cheery disposition faded away. “What?”

                                            “Or I guess it would be more accurate to call it a mausoleum.” Red looked down at his feet as they continued to walk through town. “If I remember correctly from my history classes, it was first built thousands of years ago after the Great War. Ever since then the tower has been built up and restructured several times. People and Pokémon are still buried within to this day.”

                                            “Do we have to stay here?” Yellow asked.

                                            “We’re just going to stay the night at the Pokémon Center and leave in the morning.”

                                            “Alright.” Yellow looked uneasy. “But, is this place haunted?”

                                            “People have claimed to see ghosts in the area for centuries.” Red looked at Yellow and saw how frightened she seemed. “But there’s no such thing as actual ghosts, of course. It’s just Ghost-type Pokémon and people thinking they see things that aren’t really there.”

                                            “Let’s just hurry to the Pokémon Center.” Yellow said.

                                            The two walked a couple more blocks and took a turn, reaching a friendly looking, red roofed building they both recognized immediately. The Pokémon Center seemed highly out of place when surrounded by the old and faded pinkish-purple stone houses that filled the rest of the town. Red walked inside the Pokémon Center, with Yellow right behind him and they were greeted by a friendly nurse.

                                            “Hello and welcome to the Lavender Town Pokémon Center. Can we heal your Pokémon?”

                                            Red walked up to the counter the nurse was standing behind and handed her his Pokéball, which the nurse placed in a healing machine. While he was waiting for that, Yellow wandered around and found a creepy looking woman with unkempt bushy black hair standing off to the side.

                                            “Do you believe in ghosts?” The woman asked as she noticed Yellow.

                                            “N-no.” Yellow stuttered out.

                                            “Your right of course. Ghosts don’t exist. But then again, what’s that hand on your shoulder?”
                                            Yellow jumped up in freight and turned around to see what the woman was talking about, but didn’t see anything there. The woman cackled in delight from Yellow’s overly dramatic reaction to her joke.

                                            “That’s not funny!” Yellow whined.

                                            “It was for me. But seriously, kid. Ghosts aren’t real.” The woman paused for a moment in consideration. “Spirits on the other hand are all around us.”

                                            Yellow froze up as Red walked over to her and rested his hand gently on her shoulder. “Come on, let’s go.”

                                            “Hold on!” The woman shouted. “Wouldn’t you like to have your fortune read before you go?”

                                            “No thanks.” Red herded Yellow away from the creepy woman as they went to the resting area to stay for the night.
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                                            Old March 6th, 2018 (7:59 AM).
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                                            BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                            The Mustachioed Machamp
                                               
                                              Join Date: Apr 2013
                                              Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
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                                              Chapter 43
                                              Spoiler:
                                              Ash woke up again in the morning to find that the others were already up and packing. The maiden’s ghost was nowhere to be seen, like she had told him.

                                              “About time you woke up.” Carmine said to him. “You back to your old sleeping habits?”

                                              “No. I just woke up in the middle of the night and it took me a while to go back to sleep.” It wasn’t the whole truth, but Ash didn’t exactly lie either. He got up and packed his own things, which didn’t really take long since everything was already in his backpack.

                                              When they were done, Ash, Carmine and Brock met up outside the inn with Misty and the four headed west. It didn’t take long to reach the edge of town and soon they were hiking through the wilderness.

                                              “Where are we going, anyway?” Misty asked.

                                              “Wherever we end up.” Ash answered her.

                                              “Which according to this map would be Lavender Town.” Brock clarified.

                                              “Bleh.” Misty stuck her tongue out in distaste. “Do we need to go to the ghost town?”

                                              “Don’t tell me you believe in ghosts?” Carmine mocked the Gym Leader.

                                              “Of course not. It’s just creepy, is all.”

                                              Ash couldn’t help but grin at the irony of their conversation as he looked over to where he imagined Hanami was floating. For a split second he thought he saw her flicker into sight, smiling back at him and trying not to laugh, before she vanished again.

                                              “What are you smiling about?” Misty yelled at Ash, snapping his attention back to the others.

                                              “Oh, nothing.” Ash lied. “It’s just fun seeing you get scared.”

                                              “Why you little…” Misty punched Ash lightly in the shoulder.

                                              “Come on!” Ash shouted as he started to run. “The faster we get there the faster we can leave!”

                                              “Oh, you’re on.” Misty stopped and reached into her backpack, pulling out her bike. “I can get there faster than you can!”

                                              “Ah, youth.” Carmine sighed as Brock ran to catch up with Ash and Misty. “Why do people always seem to get so nostalgic for it?”

                                              * * *

                                              Wes’ Espeon and Umbreon nuzzled up against his hands as he slouched in the chair opposite Looker’s desk.

                                              “There you go.” He told the International Police officer. “A full report of everything I know about my mom. Can I go now?”

                                              “Hmm…” Looker looked through the papers that Wes had handed him. “Yes, I think this should be good for now.”

                                              “Great.” Wes said sarcastically as he got up and turned to leave, his two eeveelutions trailing behind him.

                                              “Although I do have one more question.” Looker said before Wes was able to get out the door.

                                              “What?”

                                              “This report says that she was a member of the gang known as “Team Snagem” but that she left them to join Cipher, leaving you in the care of Snagem’s leader.”

                                              “Yeah, I know.” Wes said irritably. “That’s kind of the entire point of the report.”

                                              “But you never mentioned your father at all.” Looker continued.

                                              “What father?” Wes said in a mocking tone. “I never knew who he was and it’s not like Mom ever mentioned him at all.”

                                              “I see that this is a sore subject for you.” Looker noted.

                                              “Yeah, no kidding. Now can I go?”

                                              “Yes, of course.”

                                              Wes stepped out of Looker’s office, leaving the brown trench coat clad officer alone.

                                              “The higher ups will be very glad to have this.” Looker said to himself as he read through the report again. “But what were the odds that I would recruit the son of a mercenary that Team Rocket hired. I can’t tell if this is just a coincidence or if there is something more going on here.”

                                              Looker was snapped out of his thoughts by a knock on the door.

                                              “Come in.” He said.

                                              009 walked in and sat in the empty chair that Wes had been in only a moment ago.

                                              “What do you want?” Looker asked the girl.

                                              “I was wondering if I could take a look at that report when you were finished with it.” She explained.

                                              “Why?” Looker asked inquisitively.

                                              “I just want to know more about the people we have to go up against.”

                                              Looker studied 009’s face carefully, but the girl’s face was as unreadable as ever.

                                              “Fine. I’ll let you see it when I am done. But for now I would like to be left alone.”

                                              “Of course.” 009 stood up again and left, closing the door behind her.

                                              Looker sat there staring at the door for a moment. The girl had been placed under his supervision for several months before they had been assigned this mission, yet he felt like he hardly knew her at all. Tulip Black, known by the codename 009, was the youngest recruit the International Police had ever had, a record previously held by Looker himself years ago. She had apparently been working towards the position her whole life and had some of the highest test scores they had ever seen. But when it came to anything not involving her work for the IP, she was like a black slate. She didn’t seem to have any interests, any friends, or even any family. Any attempt at learning anything about her personally had been met with nothing until finally he just gave up on pursuing the matter.

                                              * * *

                                              “Here we are, Lavender Town.” Mal said as she drove into the small city.

                                              “I can’t believe we had to pull an all-nighter just to get here.” Ciel complained.

                                              “What are you talking about? You barely even drove at all!” Mal yelled at her younger sister.

                                              “Can you keep it down up there?” Kat asked, having just woken up from a nap.

                                              “Why are we here anyway?” Asked Sue.

                                              “Because I felt like it.” Gary said.

                                              Mal pulled into a parking lot behind the Pokémon Center and the five got out. Gary walked around to the front of the Pokémon Center with the others following him in.

                                              “Welcome to the Lavender Town Pokémon Center! May we heal your Pokémon?” The nurse asked.

                                              “No thanks.” Gary told her as he walked over to a map of the town hung up on one of the walls.

                                              While he looked at the map, the girls went to sit down on some nearby couches to rest for a bit. After sitting down, Kat happened to look up to the entrance to the sleeping area and noticed pair of familiar faces walking out and decided to get back up and walk over to them.

                                              “Hey, kid.” She said to Red. “What’s up?”

                                              “Oh, hey.” Red was visibly startled by the sudden appearance. “What are you doing here?”

                                              “Ah, nothing.” Kat shrugged and pointed over her shoulder with her thumb. “Gary over there just thought he wanted to check the place out for some reason.”

                                              “Hi, miss.” Yellow waved at Kat.

                                              Gary noticed his cousin’s conversation and walked over to her to see who she was talking to.

                                              “Oh, it’s just you two.” He scoffed as he saw Red and Yellow. “And here I thought we might actually meet someone interesting here.”

                                              “Like who?” Yellow asked.

                                              “I don’t know.” Gary said a little more defensively than he meant to.

                                              “All kinds of people come here to see the Pokémon Tower.” Kat said. “Some have family or ancestors buried there while others see it as more of a tourist attraction.”

                                              “A very morbid tourist attraction.” Gary added.

                                              Yellow started to look worried as she remembered just where they were and Red was just about to walk her out so that they could leave when another boy and girl entered the Pokémon Center.

                                              “Gary?” Ash yelled in surprise as Misty put her bike back in her bag. “And Red? What are you guys doing here?”

                                              “Wow, I didn’t think we’d all be meeting up again so soon.” Red said.

                                              “Yeah, unfortunately.” Gary snickered. “Although Daisy won’t be here. She wimped out and decided she doesn’t want to be anywhere near this place.”

                                              “That’s no way to talk about your sister.” Kat scolded him.

                                              “What? It’s not like she’s here.”

                                              “That just makes it worse.”

                                              “Would you all just keep quite over there?” Ciel called from over on the couch. “Some of us are trying to rest.”

                                              Brock then walked in on the scene, with Carmine following shortly after. The Pokémon Center looked on at all of the steadily growing commotion going on and gave a defeated sigh. She decided to just back away instead of trying to calm things down.
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                                              Old March 7th, 2018 (7:25 AM).
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                                              BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                              The Mustachioed Machamp
                                                 
                                                Join Date: Apr 2013
                                                Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                                                Age: 23
                                                Gender: Male
                                                Nature: Quiet
                                                Posts: 145
                                                Chapter 44
                                                Spoiler:
                                                The Department of Pokémon Training building in Vermilion City was unusually empty. A lone worker nodded off behind a counter while he waited for anyone to show up. After a while, a young woman walked in and approached the worker, who snapped back to attention.

                                                "What can I do for you today?" He asked her.

                                                The woman appeared to be somewhere around her late teens to early twenties, with long bushy black hair that turned red at the tips and she wore a furry black and red coat over a black dress. She had a Squirtle with her that seemed to be wearing an oddly angular pair of sunglasses.

                                                "I'd like to apply for a Pokémon License." She said to the man while looking him with her strikingly bright blue eyes. She had a foreign accent that he couldn't quite place.

                                                "Sure." The man said eagerly. "All you have to do is fill out this paperwork."

                                                The woman took the stapled sheets of paper and pen that the man handed her and walked off to a nearby chair to fill it out. The worker watched her as she filled out the form. If he didn't know any better he'd say that the Squirtle was actually telling her what to write down. But that wouldn't make any sense, would it?

                                                When she finished, the woman returned to the counter and handed the forms back to the man.

                                                "Will this suffice?" She asked.

                                                "It sure will, Miss, uh…" He looked down at the name filled out on the form. "Zahira Darhk, is it?"

                                                "That is correct." The woman confirmed.

                                                "Okay, then. Now all we have to do is get a license filled out for you."

                                                * * *

                                                Daisy walked along the path from Viridian City to Celadon City at a leisurely pace. Now that she had finally earned her third badge and caught up to Ash and Red, she was hoping to quickly be able to earn her fourth and possibly pass them in badge count. Daisy's walk was uneventful at first, but then suddenly her bag began to shake violently.

                                                "What's this?" Daisy reached into her bag and pulled out the source of the shaking: the portable incubation chamber she had been given to keep her egg in. "Oh, wow. I actually forgot I had this with me for a bit. It looks like it's hatching."

                                                The pink egg covered in white star-shaped marking shook and began to crack open. Daisy watched as the egg became engulfed in a bright white light similar to the one that encased a Pokémon upon evolution. As the light faded away, a newly born baby Pokémon appeared in the egg's place. The incubator automatically opened up and the pink star-shaped Pokémon with conical green ears fell into Daisy's other arm.

                                                "Oh, it's so cute." Daisy said as she put the incubator away and pulled out her Pokédex. "Cleffa, huh? Well I'm sure that you'll make a very nice addition to our team."

                                                "Cle!" Clefa squealed happily, gazing up at Daisy with sparkling green eyes.

                                                "Oh, look at that! You can already talk! Kind of." Daisy held up the baby Cleffa in front of her face. "Come on, you baby star, you! Let's get going."

                                                * * *

                                                Charmander and Bulbasaur sat out back behind the Department of Pokémon Training, waiting for the others to return. Charmander was drawing lines on the ground with his stubby fingers while Bulbasaur was lying down, trying to take a nap. After a while, Charmander looked up from his doodles to see the two figures of Squirtle and Zoroark walking towards them and nudged Bulbasaur back awake.

                                                "So, how did it go?" Charmander asked excitedly.

                                                Squirtle smiled as Zoroark reached into her coat and pulled out her new Trainer Card.

                                                "Wow!" Bulbasaur and Charmander both looked at it in amazement.

                                                "It just goes to show how flawed the system is if they can allow for something like this to happen." Squirtle said in a snobbish tone of voice. "But who cares? It sure worked out for us well enough!"

                                                "Now!" Charmander pointed his finger out dramatically in a random direction. "We move off to get our first Gym Badge!"

                                                Bulbasaur and Zoroark followed Charmander as he marched off in the direction he was pointing before Squirtle had to run up ahead of him and redirect them to the correct way to get to the nearest Gym.

                                                "Right." Charmander said Mareepishly. "I knew that. I was just testing you."

                                                "Sure, you were." Squirtle said sarcastically. "How about you just leave the navigation to me, for now."

                                                * * *

                                                "Well, I think we'll be going now." Red said to the others as he grabbed Yellow's hand and began guiding her out of the Pokémon Center so that they could finally leave Lavender Town.

                                                "What?" Gary asked mockingly. "Are you scared of a few ghosts?"

                                                "No." Red answered. "We just don't feel like lingering around here."

                                                "Fine, fine. Coward." Gary called to them as they were about to walk out the door.

                                                "No." Yellow suddenly stopped. "Let's stay."

                                                "Are you sure?" Red asked her, concerned. "You know you don't have to cave into bullying like that, right?"

                                                "I'm sure." Yellow turned back to face the rest of the crowd. "In fact, how about we all go up to the highest floor of the tower. We'll see who's afraid then."

                                                "I'm not sure I like that idea." Ash said.

                                                "Oh, shut it." Gary snapped at him. "There's no way I'm turning down a challenge!"

                                                "Then it's settled." Yellow said. "I'll see you all at the top."

                                                Yellow smiled and ran out of the Pokémon Center. Red turned to the others and gave an embarrassed half-smile before going after her.

                                                "Well, that was a thing." Misty said flatly.

                                                "Come, on!" Gary called to his cheerleaders as he stormed out after Red and Yellow.

                                                "Yeah, there's no way I'm doing that." Ciel said.

                                                "Me neither." Ciel and Mal both agreed.

                                                "Fine, then." Kat sighed. "I guess I'll go after him alone. You know, for hired chaperones, you people don't really do much."

                                                "I guess we're going to." Ash said as he headed out after Kat. Misty, Brock and Carmine begrudgingly followed.

                                                * * *

                                                Zoroark, or rather, Zahira, walked into the Vermilion City Gym. Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur all followed after her. The four all looked around inside and noticed the electricity floating between the pylons on the ceiling.

                                                "Well, I'm out." Squirtle said matter-of-factly as he turned around to leave. "Tell me when you get the badge."

                                                "Wait, what?" Charmander asked, astonished. "What about our goal?"

                                                "I don't mean I'm giving up on that. I'm just not comfortable with all this electricity. I am a Water-type, after all."

                                                "But you're the only one who knows what we're doing!" Bulbasaur called after him.

                                                "I'm sure you can figure it out." Were Squirtle's last words before heading out the door.

                                                Lt. Surge noticed the commotion and headed over to see what was going on.

                                                "Hello there!" He said as he walked up to the disguised Zoroark. "Are you here for a Gym Battle? Or maybe some tips on Pokémon Breeding?"

                                                "The Gym Battle." Zoroark said with a huge awkward smile that looked almost like a grimace as she limply held out her hand.

                                                "Of, course you are." Surge said. "Everyone's always here for that. What's the point of even having a hobby if no one else is ever interested?" He reached out and shook her hand vigorously, with much more force than she was expecting, causing her to wince. "But never mind about that. If it's a Gym Battle you want, it's a Gym Battle you'll get. Now, I don't remember seeing you in the Pokémon League Records before. Are you just starting out?"

                                                "Yes." Zoroark said. "I just got my license today." Then, as an afterthought. "My name is Zahira. Zahira Darhk."

                                                "Well, Zahira, if this is your first Gym Battle, then this will just be a simple one-on-one battle."

                                                Surge walked over to the other side of the room while Zoroark looked back and forth between Charmander and Bulbasaur.

                                                "Which one of you should I use?" She asked them.

                                                "I'll do it." Bulbasaur said as he turned to face the Gym Leader. Charmander walked back behind Zoroark.

                                                "Are you ready?" Lt. Surge called out after letting out his Pikachu.

                                                "I guess so." Zoroark said back.

                                                "Then let the battle begin."
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                                                Old March 8th, 2018 (8:45 AM).
                                                BZRich64's Avatar
                                                BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                                The Mustachioed Machamp
                                                   
                                                  Join Date: Apr 2013
                                                  Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                                                  Age: 23
                                                  Gender: Male
                                                  Nature: Quiet
                                                  Posts: 145
                                                  Chapter 45
                                                  Spoiler:
                                                  Pikachu charged up for his opening move of Thunder Punch. Bulbasaur interrupted the move by reaching out with his vines and wrapped them around Pikachu, lifting him up the ground. Pikachu struggled to be let free from Bulbasaur's grasp and send a Thunderbolt running down the vines, shocking Bulbasaur and forcing him to release his grip.

                                                  Pikachu was able to guide his fall to bring him closer to Bulbasaur and slapped him across the face with an Iron Tail. Bulbasaur retaliated by launching a Leech Seed at Pikachu. The seed hit Pikachu on the top of his head and small vines grew out to latch itself onto the Electric-type Pokémon, slowly draining his health and transferring it to Bulbasaur.

                                                  Pikachu then tried Thunder Punch again, but Bulbasaur picked him up with his vines again, this time launching his Razor Leaf attack at the same time so that Pikachu was hit before he had a chance to react. Bulbasaur then followed up with another Razor Leaf, but Pikachu was able to react in time sending a shock down the vines and getting free before the leaves hit. Unfortunately for Pikachu, Bulbasaur was planning on that and had been preparing his strongest move, Solar Beam.

                                                  Bulbasaur finished gathering enough solar energy for the attack right as Pikachu was about to land on the ground. The Seed Pokémon opened up its mouth and a beam of raw solar energy blasted out. Pikachu took the brunt of the attack head-on. As the energy dissipated, Pikachu was still standing there, almost out of energy. The Leech Seed then drained a bit more of his health, which served as the last straw for Pikachu, who then collapsed onto the ground.

                                                  "It looks like you win." Lt. Surge said. "Congratulations!"

                                                  The Gym Leader walked up to Zoroark and handed her a Thunder Badge. "Here you go."

                                                  Zoroark accepted the badge, thanked him and walked out with her Pokémon. Lt. Surge watched them leave as he heard Rotom enter the computer terminal behind ham and he turned around to face it.

                                                  -You do realize that woman wasn't actually a human, right?-

                                                  "Of course I realized that."

                                                  -Then why did you let her fight.-

                                                  Surge shrugged his shoulders before replying. "I thought it would be interesting. I've never seen a Pokémon try to command another Pokémon in a fight like that before."

                                                  -Sometimes I worry about you.-

                                                  "There's no need for that. I know the Pokémon League Rules like the back of my own hand and there is no actual rule against a Pokémon entering the league. If anyone else is going to have an issue with it, then that will be their problem, not mine."

                                                  -Yes, and this is the same kind of rule exploitation that lets you use a Pikachu that is as strong as a Raichu, with moves that it shouldn't be able to have at its level, just because you bred it yourself locally.-

                                                  "Yep. The rules say that the lowest level Gym Team has to consist of a single basic-level Pokémon that is native to the region. They don't say anything about how powerful that Pokémon can or cannot be." Surge confirmed.

                                                  -And yet you still can't use me for a battle.-

                                                  "I'm sorry Rotom, but you're not native to Kanto. I may exploit loopholes in the rules, but I don't break them. If we get called to an expedition tournament or something along those lines, I'll be sure to use you, but for Gym Battles, I just can't."

                                                  -Fine.-

                                                  * * *

                                                  Ash looked up at the Pokémon Tower as he stood outside its entrance. The dark, intimidating stone structure suddenly seemed much larger than it had when he had noticed it earlier. Misty, Brock and Carmine caught up to him as he stared up.

                                                  "Aren't you going inside?" Carmine asked.

                                                  "Y-yeah." Ash stuttered nervously. "I was just waiting for you guys."

                                                  "Pika!" Pika chimed in.

                                                  Ash swallowed his fear and opened the door leading inside the ancient mausoleum. Despite the spooky atmosphere of the tower's outer wall, the first floor was actually quite pleasant. The floor was lined with green tiles that were well polished and a yellow reception desk stood over to the side, right next to the staircase leading up to the second floor.

                                                  "Welcome to the Pokémon Tower." A receptionist said as she saw the group walk in. "How may I help you?"

                                                  "Uhh…" Ash was thrown off-guard by the unexpectedly pleasant lobby and did not know what to say.

                                                  "We're fine for now. Thank you." Carmine told the receptionist as he grabbed Ash's arm and pulled him towards the stairs.

                                                  The two walked up the steps with Misty and Brock keeping close behind them. Carmine let go of Ash as they reached the second level and Ash was left stunned for a completely different reason than he had before.

                                                  The first floor of the Pokémon Tower may have been unexpectedly pleasant, but the second floor was exactly what Ash had expected the inside of the tower to be like. The floor tiles when still green, but they did not look like they had been cleaned in any way for a very long time. Stone graves were packed so closely together that they only left narrow paths between them that formed a sort of maze. But none of that compared to the light, purple mist that seemed to permeate throughout the entire chamber.

                                                  "What is this?" Misty asked in disgust.

                                                  "This is what happens when you pack too much death in one spot." Carmine explained. "It attracts Ghost Pokémon like Venomoths to a candle. Normally a place like this would hire Channelers to exorcise them from the area, but it looks like they haven't been able to keep up with it. Ghost-types are attracted to high places, which means that it should only get worse as we get higher."

                                                  "I'm thinking that maybe we should head back." Brock said. "I'm not sure this will be worth it."

                                                  "No." Ash said. "We're going to the top."

                                                  "But why?" Misty whined.

                                                  "Oh, just quit your whining and do as the boy says." Misty and Brock both jumped in fright while Carmine only reacted with mild surprise to the sudden appearance of a Ghastly behind them. "He is your leader, is he not?"

                                                  "G-g-g-ghost!" Misty screamed.

                                                  "Oh, right." Ash said. "I haven't introduced you yet. Guys, this is the latest addition to my team; Ghastly."

                                                  "When did… what?" Brock clambered.

                                                  "I caught him while you were all sleeping last night." Ash explained.

                                                  "Well, you didn't really catch me so much as I agreed to go with you, but the result is the same. Hello, everyone."

                                                  "I would complain," Carmine said, "but that would make me a hypocrite. I get into all kinds of stuff while you guys are sleeping and don't tell you about it."

                                                  "Wait, what?" Ash asked. "Like what?"

                                                  Carmine smiled. "We should probably get going."

                                                  * * *

                                                  A few floors up from where Ash's group was, Red and Yellow were trying to make their way up the tower.

                                                  "This was a bad idea." Yellow admitted to herself.

                                                  "Don't feel too bad." Red tried to comfort her. "You had no idea it was going to be like this."

                                                  The two turned around a corner in the pathways between graves and realized they just walked into a dead end.

                                                  "Man, it's so hard to see through this fog." Red commented. "Come on, let's find a different way."

                                                  They turned around and noticed a dark mass rising in front of them.

                                                  "Ooooagh…" The being moaned as it moved closer to them, revealing the form of a woman with long, gray hair and wearing white robes. The woman's eyes were glossed over and she moved like a marionette being controlled by an unskilled puppeteer. "You… should not… have come… here…"

                                                  Each word that came from her mouth between raspy breaths sounded like the gasping of someone who had spent a week wandering through the desert with no source of water.

                                                  "Stay back." Red warned the woman, putting his arm in front of Yellow to shield the girl as she clung tightly to his leg.

                                                  "You… will be… punished…"

                                                  The woman let out a howl as her arms rose up high and a ball of gas sprung out from her mouth. Red sent out his Charmeleon as the ball of gas formed into a Ghastly. Charmeleon blasted the Ghastly with an Ember and the Ghost-Pokémon seemed to explode into nothingness. The woman collapsed onto the ground as the fog around them cleared up.

                                                  "What happened?" The woman asked as she sat back up again. "Where am I?"

                                                  "Where in the Pokémon Tower." Red answered cautiously.

                                                  "Yes. That's right." The woman stood back up. "The other channelers and I were trying to clear up the Ghastly infestation here when something caught us off guard. The Ghastly were able to overpower us and take over our bodies. I didn't… I didn't harm you, did I?"

                                                  "No."

                                                  "That's a relief." The woman wiped her forehead of sweat. "But the others are probably still possessed. You should leave now while you have the chance. I'll work on freeing the others."

                                                  "No." Yellow said to Red's surprise. "We'll help you. What do we need to do?"

                                                  The woman looked at her in astonishment. "Well, I suppose you could try to find the other channelers and free them the way you freed me while I work on expelling the infestation. But be careful."
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                                                    #50   Link to this post, but load the entire thread.  
                                                  Old March 9th, 2018 (7:36 AM).
                                                  BZRich64's Avatar
                                                  BZRich64 BZRich64 is offline
                                                  The Mustachioed Machamp
                                                     
                                                    Join Date: Apr 2013
                                                    Location: Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
                                                    Age: 23
                                                    Gender: Male
                                                    Nature: Quiet
                                                    Posts: 145
                                                    Chapter 46
                                                    Spoiler:
                                                    Pikachu sat beside a fire that she made herself by gathering some fallen tree branches she found around the island she was on and blasting them with a Thunder Shock. She was stranded on the small deserted island she had washed up on with no way of getting across the ocean that surrounded her in every direction. Her only hope was that some friendly Pokémon or ship would pass by and see her fire.

                                                    "In other words," Pikachu thought to herself, "I have no hope left."

                                                    As she sat there, the fire slowly began to die down over time. Pikachu shifted some of the branches, causing the fire to flare back to life.

                                                    "Well, this is boring." Pikachu muttered to herself.

                                                    "Why, hello there!"

                                                    Pikachu jumped back from the unexpected, deep booming voice that came from behind her.

                                                    "Who are you?" She asked the stranger who had suddenly shown up out of nowhere.

                                                    "Shouldn't that be obvious?" The stranger asked. He appeared to be a Pikachu, but with blue markings around his body. "I am Pikoa, Guardian of the Seas! Do the Pikachu of these regions no longer pass down the stories of my many heroic tales?"

                                                    "I, uh…" Pikachu lost her train of thought for a moment as she noticed that this 'Pikoa' was not standing just offshore as she had originally thought, but on the water itself. "I didn't grow up in the wild. I do not know any of the stories they pass down, about you or otherwise."

                                                    "Oh, okay then." Pikoa sounded a little relieved. "That is understandable. Anyway, I just happened to be Surfing by when I noticed you here. I just wanted to come by and see if you needed any assistance. I happen to be in the business of rescuing stranded Pokémon and people. If you want, I can take you back to the mainland."

                                                    "And what would that cost me?" Pikachu raised one of her eyebrows inquisitively.

                                                    "My, you are quite the mistrustful type. Would you mind if I asked you what happened to make you this way?"

                                                    "I would mind that very much, actually." Pikachu said defensively.

                                                    "Well to answer your question, it will not cost you anything to get a ride back to the mainland." Pikoa said, dropping the subject. "It is my duty to help all those in need of my assistance, with no reward or payment needed."

                                                    "I don't see how anyone could possibly live like that."

                                                    "Trust me, when you live as long as I have, you start seeing things in a different light. Things go away over time, but the impact you can make by doing something good lasts forever."

                                                    "Quit the motivational speech." Pikachu snapped. "Let's just get going already."

                                                    "Alright then, just hop up here." Pikoa gestured to the raised section of water he was standing on. "Don't worry. You will be able to stand on it just fine."

                                                    Pikachu hesitantly approached Pikoa and eyed the water carefully. After a moment of consideration, she hopped onto the wave and, to her surprise, Pikoa was right.

                                                    "Alright then." Pikoa said. "We're off!"

                                                    The two Pikachu sped off towards the mainland. Pikachu silently cursed herself for agreeing to this as she tried to keep herself from getting sick. She had never experienced anything like this before and hoped she never would again.

                                                    * * *

                                                    Ash stepped out onto the next floor of Pokémon Tower. Ghastly floated along beside him while the others stayed a little bit behind, still uneasy by the presence of the Ghost Pokémon. Ash made his way through the maze of graves, looking down to make sure he stayed on the path when suddenly he crashed into someone and was knocked down to the ground.

                                                    "Ouch." Ash said as he hit the floor.

                                                    "Watch where you're going, loser." Ash recognized the voice instantly.

                                                    "Gary?" Ash stood back up as his rival did the same.

                                                    "Oh, great." Gary gave an exasperated sigh. "I can't believe a loser like you managed to catch up to me. Obviously it's only because the fog is making it so I can't see where I'm going, but still."

                                                    "Who are you calling a loser?" Ash snapped back. "I managed to beat you in our battle!"

                                                    "That?" Gary asked mockingly. "That was simply beginner's luck. Trust me when I say that it won't happen again. In fact, why didn't we have a rematch, right here, right now?"

                                                    "Um…" Ash hesitated for a moment as he looked around at their current surroundings. "Wouldn't that be kind of disrespectful to the dead here? Plus it would be nearly impossible to fight in this environment."

                                                    "I hate to say this, but I guess you're right. As soon as we get back out of here, though, it's rematch time."

                                                    "You're on!" Ash said excitedly as Gary walked off. "Hey, wait! Where are you going?"

                                                    "I'm beating you to the top, obviously. What else?"

                                                    * * *

                                                    Route 7 was a grassy area that was surrounded mostly by thick trees, much like most of the routes in Kanto. It was here that Daisy saw a city's skyline come into view as she was walking.

                                                    "You see that?" She asked the baby Cleffa cradled in her arms. "That's Celadon City. It's where I'll be fighting my next Gym battle."

                                                    "Cle!" Cleffa raised its hands up joyfully.

                                                    Daisy continued on her way to Celadon, but soon her steps began to falter and she came to a stop as she noticed a nearby bush was rattling violently. A Vulpix suddenly pranced out of the bush, startling Daisy. The orange Fox Pokémon looked up as it noticed Daisy, then turned around and fluffed its tails out tauntingly. Daisy shifted Cleffa into one arm and reached her now free hand into her bag, pulling out a Pokéball and thrusting it out.

                                                    "Bubble!"

                                                    Poliwag came out of the Pokéball and immediately sprayed a barrage of water bubbles from its mouth, blasting the Vulpix with perfect aim. The Vulpix turned back and looked injured, not in body but in pride. The Fire-type's face then turned to anger as its six tails stood on end and began to glow in a blue fire. A similar fire grew around Poliwag and suddenly the Tadpole Pokémon became burned. The injured Poliwag then sprayed a Water Gun at its opponent, nailing Vulpix right in the face. Vulpix retaliated with an Ember, but before the attack even hit, Daisy had thrown an empty Pokéball at it.
                                                    Vulpix was sucked into the Pokéball via the standard red light and the ball shook on the ground a few times. The red light on the front button turned off as the Pokéball stopped moving. Daisy recalled her Poliwag and pulled out her Pokédex to check what it had to say about her new Pokémon as she walked over to pick Vulpix up.

                                                    "Well girl," Daisy said as she picked up the Pokéball. "Welcome to my party. I'm sure you'll be very useful in our next Gym Battle. From what I've heard, the Celadon Gym Leader is a Grass-type specialist." Daisy put the Pokéball in her bag and looked down at Cleffa. "It's nice how things tend to work out like that, don't you think?"

                                                    "Cle,cle!"

                                                    * * *

                                                    "We did it!" Charmander yelled happily as he, Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Zoroark made their way out of Vermilion. "I can't believe we actually did it!"

                                                    "Don't get too excited, now." Bulbasaur tried to calm Charmander down. "That's only one badge. We still have seven more to go. And that's just to enter the League Tournament. We still have a long way to go before we're done."

                                                    "I know." Charmander looked down at his feet, embarrassed.

                                                    Zoroark, still in the guise of Zahira Darhk, held the Thunder Badge towards the light of the sun, admiring how the light reflected off of it.

                                                    "Are you going to pin that to your jacket?" Squirtle asked her.

                                                    "I'm not wearing a jacket." Zoroark reminded him. "It's just a part of my Illusion ability."

                                                    "Right." Squirtle said. "I forgot about that."

                                                    Zoroark pulled a small dark case out from the inside of her jacket. She opened up the case and placed the Thunder Badge inside. "That being said, I can keep some stuff tucked into my fur. Like this badge case."

                                                    "Where did you get that?" Charmander asked.

                                                    "I got it with the license." Zoroark explained.
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