Re: The Journey Never Ends
The Journey Never Ends
Chapter 3: Final Preparations
"But Professor, I have my own duties," Ash said into a blue X-Transceiver. The small video phone was currently transmitting to Oak's lab from a park in the heart of Viridian City. Ash was leaning against a tree, discussing with the professor why he shouldn't go with Allie. "You've seen the news. I can't be tied up as part of some girl's Pokémon journey," he argued.
"Now Ash, you've only given me a reason WHY you two should go together. The world is far more dangerous than when you travelled Kanto. There's no telling what could happen to either of you," the old professor told him. "Would you really send her alone to Cerulean City?"
The trainer sighed. "No, professor," he said, bowing his head in submission.
"And if you're going to try to find out what's going on, don't you think it would be a good idea to have a reason for travelling all across Kanto?"
Though still against the idea, Ash had to admit that Oak's logic was sound. Just like it always was.
"How old is she, anyway?" he asked, trying to find another flaw in Oak's plan. "The girl looks like she's about sixteen. Don't you usually give Pokémon to younger kids starting their adventures?" Ash was looking for any reason to avoid travelling with another person.
"You'll have to trust me Ash," Oak said. "I feel as though she'll play her role in the coming days, too. Don't doubt her.”
Ash was about to make another excuse when there was a loud crash from the lab. Oak frantically dashed off the XTransceiver screen to reach another part of his lab.
"Don't do that Machamp! You can't juggle the Voltorbs! Put them down right away!" the professor shouted in the background. "I'm getting too old for this." Ash chuckled. The professor might not be young, but he was still the best in the business.
Suddenly, the XTransceiver screen displayed an image of purple goo.
"Hello Muk," Ash chuckled.
"Muk!" it cried back at him happily.
"No! Muk, now I have to clean the camera again!" Professor Oak shoved the sewage Pokémon out of the way.
He looked straight into Ash's eyes. "Teach her," he ordered. There was a flash of light, and the XTransceiver screen displayed a "Signal Lost" error.
The Voltorbs must have blown, thought Ash. Knowing that his mentor would be fine, he shoved the XTransceiver back into his pocket.
A yellow rodent, who had been playing with some wild Rattatas in the park, ran back to his trainer.
"Are you ready?" Ash asked him.
Pikachu nodded, his little face filled with determination.
"Good. We've got a long road ahead of us. Now, I need you to do me a favor…"
Allie was playing with Squirtle outside when Ash arrived alone back at the Pokémon Center at dusk. She was throwing a ball to him, and Squirtle was hitting it back to her with a spray of water. Each time he did it, Allie laughed and Squirtle clapped his little blue hands.
"So he's gotten used to you," Ash said gently.
Allie turned around, startled, to see Ash looking down at her. She didn't realize he was standing behind her. Squirtle, still shy, withdrew into its shell.
"Awww… Ash! He was doing really well too!" the new trainer scolded him.
Ash knelt down next to the water Pokémon. He flipped the shell over, and gently stroked a spot on the underside. "I'm sorry Squirtle," he apologized.
The young Pokémon came out of its shell, laughing.
Allie was amazed. "How did you know that he had a ticklish spot there?" she asked.
Straightening up, Ash replied. "I have a Squirtle too. He's in Vermillion City right now." He looked down at Allie's first Pokémon. "Have you decided what you're going to call him yet?"
"Not yet," she said. "I considered calling him Bubbles or Squirt, but both of those are really overused. I haven't really come up with one that fits him." The little turtle hugged her leg. She picked it up and held it.
"So…" she began. “Are we… are we traveling together?"
The experienced trainer nodded reluctantly. "I talked to the professor. He's right. It would be in everyone's interest if I accompanied you. Are you alright with that?"
Allie was awestruck. She was going to travel with the powerful trainer who saved her?
"Y-yeah," she mumbled, at a loss for words. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me yet," he told her. "We've got to go at a good pace. There are places I have to be, too."
"That means that this is going to be a hard journey, are you sure that you're prepared for it?"
She nodded again, enthusiastic.
"Very well. Follow me,” the older trainer instructed her.
The two new companions walked into the Pokémon Center. Ash approached Nurse Joy, handing her a piece of paper with the names of four Pokémon on it. Allie couldn’t make out his small, messy handwriting, but the first letter on the paper might have been a “B”.
"Could you call Professor Oak and ask him to send the Pokémon I've written down?"
Joy nodded. "Yes, Mr. Ketchum. Is there anything else you'd like?"
"Yes, please," he responded. "Could we have two single rooms?"
The trainers waited while the nurse checked the on the computer. "I'm sorry," she said. "They're all taken for the night. Would the two of you be alright with a double room?"
Allie blushed furiously, but Ash, who had travelled with girls before, thanked Nurse Joy and took the key.
The new trainer's embarrassment was not lost on Ash, though.
"Don't worry. There are twin beds and if you like we can even put a dividing screen up between them," he said, reassuringly.
So, the two trainers and Squirtle took an elevator up to their room. Not wanting to seem like a novice in front of Ash, and realizing that she would have to sleep near him eventually while they were camping in the wilderness, Allie convinced him that she would be okay if they didn't put the divider up.
Ash shrugged indifferently, continuing to lay gear out on his bed. Considering the total disinterest he had shown her to this point, she assumed that she didn't have to worry about him trying anything creepy. She was far more vulnerable after being attacked by the Mightyena, and he had saved her then.
Unexpectedly, a yellow blur jumped through the open window and into the room. Allie gasped in surprise and took a step backwards, falling awkwardly. The yellow mouse landed on Ash's shoulder.
"So did he say whether he would come with us?" Ash asked Pikachu.
The electric-type nodded his head.
"Excellent," Ash smiled widely. He turned to the blonde-haired trainer, still lying on the floor. Offering her his hand, he apologized.
"This is my friend, Pikachu. He was my first Pokémon, the one Professor Oak gave me," he explained to her. "Pikachu usually doesn't leave my side, but I needed him to run an errand for me in Viridian Forest."
Allie waved at Ash's partner. "Hi!" she said cheerfully, finally recovered from the shock. Pikachu waved back.
Then, realizing that her Pokémon had vanished during the excitement, she began frantically looking for him. "Squirtle!" she shouted, nervous for the shy little turtle.
It took the combined efforts of Allie, Ash, and Pikachu to finally find a pillowcase covering the little turtle's shell. Scattered sheets were thrown everywhere by the search. Stroking Squirtle’s belly, like she had seen Ash do, Allie managed to get him to come back out.
"It's alright Squirtle," Allie said, petting him gently on the head. "Pikachu is friendly."
Despite being a little hesitant at first, the small blue Pokémon eventually went up to Pikachu. The electric mouse offered him its hand. Taking it, Squirtle sealed their friendship.
As the two Pokémon played happily around the room, Allie went into the bathroom to get dressed for bed.
Lying down on his bed with his hands behind his head, Ash reflected on her. The young blonde was inexperienced, that was for sure. And there was the issue of his other responsibilities. But she showed enthusiasm. And she seemed to be good with Pokémon. He sighed, knowing that Oak would be right about Allie eventually playing a role in his mission.
The teenaged girl walked back into the room wearing purple polka-dot pajamas.
"Good night Ash," she said, as she climbed into bed. Despite the warmth of the night, the girl pulled the sheets over her body. Even though she insisted on not putting a screen between them, Allie was still slightly self-conscious wearing her low-cut top.
"Good night… Allie…" he responded softly, calling her by name for the first time. Allie quickly drifted off to sleep while Ash merely closed his eyes, waiting for morning to come. There were too many thoughts on his mind to sleep well.
Re: The Journey Never Ends
The Journey Never Ends
Chapter 4: Evil in Viridian Forrest
Allie was awakened by the bright sun creeping through the window into their Pokémon Center room. An apple and a note were sitting on the nightstand between the beds. Rolling out of bed, she picked up the paper, reading:
I’ve gone to the Pokémart to get supplies. I’ll be back at 8. Eat and dress so that you’re ready to leave when I return.
Allie was excited; today was the very first day real day of her Pokémon adventure. She changed into her travelling clothes much faster than she usually would and pulled her blonde hair back into a ponytail.
It wasn’t long before Ash returned. The new trainer was sitting on the ground feeding Pokémon chow to Squirtle. As the door opened, she looked up and beamed at him. He returned the smile, though it was noticeably smaller.
“Are you ready?” he asked her.
“Yep!” she cheered. Her ponytail shook vigorously from her energetic head nod.
Ash had several large bags with him. As he pulled the contents out, Allie saw a purple sleeping bag, a ground cloth, and five Pokéballs. The older trainer gestured at them.
“The sleeping bag and ground cloth are for your journey,” he explained. “You’ll need them for when we can’t make it to a Pokémon Center and have to sleep in the wilderness. The Pokéballs are a gift from me.”
“Thanks Ash…” she said, surprised at his generosity and thoughtfulness. He had even taken her favorite color into account when he selected the sleeping bag.
Ash taught her to how to pack her backpack so that everything fit with minimal discomfort. She barely managed to lift it onto her back, as it much heavier now, though Allie noticed that Ash’s pack seemed to be three times the weight of hers.
The two trainers and their partner Pokémon went downstairs to the lobby, where Ash walked over to the counter where Nurse Joy was standing.
“Did Professor Oak send the Pokémon I requested?” he asked.
“Yes sir, just let me get them for you,” she said. Joy walked into a backroom and returned with four Pokéballs.
Taking them from her, Ash carefully clipped each onto his belt. The trainer thanked her, and turned to Allie.
“My Pokémon team,” he explained. “You’ll meet them later. Let’s head out.”
“Ash?” Allie asked once they were on the road. Ash was a few feet ahead setting the pace, and she needed something to slow him down a little. He grunted to let her know that he was listening. “I was thinking. We’re travelling together, but I hardly know anything about you.”
Ash sighed. He knew that sooner or later she would want to know more about him. “I’ll let you ask one question, but that’s all,” he said reluctantly.
“You travelled before. Was… was your Pokémon journey worth it?”
Ash stopped and turned around. His eyes met hers, and she saw years of experience and wisdom in them. “Yes,” he answered confidently. There’s no way to describe everything that I’ve done and you will do. The people I met, the battles I fought, the challenges I’ve faced… They’ve all made me who I am today.”
“And who is that?” Allie asked, curious of the way he answered her.
Instead of giving an answer, Ash turned away from her and back to the road. “I said one question.” They continued in silence.
Twenty minutes later, they stood at the gates leading to Viridian Forest. Although much had changed in Kanto since Ash’s first Indigo League, the forest remained almost completely untouched by human development. It was one of the few places in the world left exclusively for Pokémon, and was filled with diverse species.
Allie trembled as she remembered what happened to her the last time she was here. Noticing her fear, Ash put a calming hand on her shoulder.
“You’re not a helpless little girl anymore,” he reassured her. “You’re a Pokémon trainer now.”
The two trainers looked down at Squirtle, who had pulled himself inside his shell once again to hide from the unknown.
Allie’s teal eyes closed as she sighed. “I’m not sure that makes much of a difference yet.”
Chuckling, Ash added, “It will, though, in time. And I’m here. Don’t worry. Nothing’s going to happen to you.”
They had been walking for most of the day when they reached a clearing. Allie felt as though her legs would fall off.
“Is travelling always like this?” she moaned. “Can’t any of your Pokémon just fly us to our destination or something?”
“There’s no adventure in that,” Ash replied nonchalantly.
The sun had been covered by a cloud, allowing even less sunlight through the dense forest canopy. It was as dark as night.
Allie and Squirtle both lay down on the grass, panting hard. Ash and Pikachu, however, had frozen, listening. Pikachu’s ears twitched as he heard noises that the others could not. The partners cautiously looked around them.
“You’re going to kill my poor feet if we keep…” Ash quickly hushed her. Allie gasped as she saw what he had been watching.
Red eyes appeared in the trees around them. They were moving in a circle around the trainers.
The eyes slowly got larger as their owners came closer. As they entered the clearing, Allie began to shake violently.
About forty of them.
The showdown was so silent that all that could be heard was the cry of a bird in the distance.
Allie began breaking down in tears as Ash moved closer to her to protect her. Pikachu was standing in front of them, ready to defend his friends at any cost. Squirtle was naturally hiding in his shell, this time from real danger.
Ash realized that as soon as he reached for a Pokéball, the dark-types would strike. His Pokémon were useless inside their Pokéballs, and not even Pikachu could handle forty by himself. As the hyena Pokémon drew closer, it seemed as though the journey would end, and on the very day it started.
The leader of the pack, a tough looking Mightyena with a scar across its eye lowered its body to prepare to leap at the trainers.
As it lunged for the kill, a large shape came hurtling down from the sky. Grabbing the leader by his chest, the bird Pokemon’s powerful talon’s hurled it against the tree. The Mightyena collapsed at the tree’s base.
Ash sighed in relief as he recognized the red and yellow crest flowing from the head of a huge brown bird.
The other Mightyena decided that they didn’t want to wait to suffer the same fate. Simultaneously, they jumped at their leader’s attacker, desperate to overpower him by sheer number.
It was their mistake. Smaller, similar looking birds flew out of the trees and began pecking at the pack of Mightyena. Ash watched as several of the smallest ones team up to scratch and poke at the faces of the much larger hyena Pokémon.
The battle barely lasted five minutes. The Mightyena had all run away with their tails between their legs, whimpering from the injuries they had been given. The birds suffered no casualties; not even a single feather had fallen out in the commotion.
Eventually looking up from her position on the ground, Allie saw the first and largest of the birds walk up to Ash. He placed his arms around its thick neck in a hug.
“Thank you, Pidgeot,” he said, face buried in its feathers.
Realizing that it would do no good to travel any further in the growing darkness, Ash decided that the clearing would make a good place to set up camp.
The Pidgeotto and Pidgey that had come to their aid were now playing with Squirtle and Pikachu. The bird Pokémon happily danced around as the trainers’ Pokémon took turns flying on Pidgeot.
Allie smiled as she looked at them from where she was sitting. Though still greatly shaken from her second Mightyena encounter, she was slowly recovering from the shock.
“I’m going to go get some firewood. Are you alright staying here with the Pokémon?” Ash asked her.
The girl looked into the darkness surrounding their campsite. She nodded, happy at least not to have to do it herself.
“No worries, I’ll get it,” Ash said, vanishing from Allie’s sight.
Twenty minutes later, Ash had a roaring fire going in the center of the clearing. He pulled out several pots and proceeded to mix vegetables and meat together in a stew. Ash spent the next hour delicately cooking it over the fire. Grabbing two bowls out of his backpack, he scooped a hearty amount into each.
Allie took the bowl he handed her and tasted the broth. Instantaneously, her taste buds were filled with wonder as flavor soaked into each of them.
“Ash!” she said. “This is amazing! Where did you learn to cook like this?”
The trainer smiled. “I’ve travelled all over the world,” he answered. “Several of my travelling companions had world class cooking abilities.” Thoughts of the gourmet skills of Brock and Cilan were rekindled in his mind. “My cooking is nothing compared to theirs, but I can happily say that I picked up a few recipes and techniques. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.”
She ate the stew quickly, but not so fast that she lost the flavor of it. The girl relaxed as it warmed her from the inside. Ash, meanwhile, was deep in thought.
One renegade Mightyena in Viridian Forrest was strange enough, he though. This has to be connected to everything else.
“Mightyena…” he murmured to himself.
His companion looked up at him inquisitively.
“They aren’t even native to this region… so why are they here?” Ash wondered aloud.
“Have you seen Mightyenas before?” Allie asked.
“Never in Kanto,” he answered. “There were a lot in Hoenn, but they weren’t nearly as vicious as the ones we saw today.”
Allie shuddered as she remembered their terrible claws and fangs. Her hand rubbed her scar on her arm where one had slashed her two weeks ago. “We were lucky your Pidgeot was here,” she said.
“You could call it luck,” Ash smiled. “But do you remember last night when I told you that Pikachu had a mission in this forest?” She nodded. “Well, it was to find Pidgeot.”
He pulled an old Pokéball out of his jacket. He stared at the scratched and dusty ball for several minutes before addressing Allie.
“Years ago, when I was still a new trainer, my friends and I came across a group of Pidgey and Pidgeotto that had been abused by some Fearow.” He looked over at Pidgeot, with its long red and yellow crest. “My Pidgeotto evolved into Pidgeot in order to defend them. He became the leader of the flock.”
“Wow, Ash,” the blonde trainer said, amazed.
“I promised him that I’d come back. And now I’m finally here to fulfill that promise.” He turned back to face Allie. “Pidgeot is going to come with us and help out. He says that the members of the flock have learned to defend themselves, and that he’ll return to them when we next pass through Viridian Forest.”
The great bird turned and locked eyes with him. It proudly nodded its head, a summer breeze blowing through its crest.
Ash placed a ground cloth next to the fire, and laid their sleeping bags on top.
“You should get some rest,” he told Allie. “It’s going to be at least another day until we reach Pewter City.”
Allie didn’t dress into her pajamas that night, for she didn’t want to change in front of Ash, and she didn’t want to go into the darkness alone.
Re: The Journey Never Ends
The Journey Never Ends
Chapter 9: The Battle Below
Ash's eyes narrowed as the strangers' light turned the corner. For a second, he was blinded by the sudden and intense brightness now filling the dark caverns. But staring at the light, he slowly came to realize that the source was not from a flashlight but from a flickering flame. And this flame was borne not upon a torch, but on the tail of a Pokémon.
Seeing the faces which it illuminated, Allie grinned while Ash threw away the rock he was holding. Standing in front of them, covered in dust and mold from the cave, stood both Allie's rival and the Pewter Gym Leader. Their faces were now revealed in the light, and their words had stopped echoing in the cavernous corner of the path, no longer disguising their voices.
"Mina! Forrest?" Allie cried happily. "What are you guys doing here? I thought you were travelling to Vermillion City, Mina."
The brunette nodded, and opened her mouth to speak. Ash's voice abruptly cut in. "The story can wait till later. We've got something we're dealing with right now, but you can come with us if you want."
Disappointed, but understanding, Allie yielded, "Alright. We'll catch up as we go."
But the other girl, irritated at being cut off by Ash, walked up to him and jabbed his chest with her finger, pouting. "How about a polite 'hello' before you interrupt me and recruit us on one of your little missions? I mean, of course we'll come Ashy, but didn't you miss me just a little?" Mina asked, batting her eyelashes at him playfully. Ash rolled his eyes.
Forrest, meanwhile, had begun beating his head against a rock in protest. Distracted by the handsome twenty-year old, Mina didn't even notice. Allie would have comforted him if she wasn't afraid of becoming the new target of his affections.
"My apologies," Ash said sarcastically. "Mina, Forrest, it's a pleasure to see you again. I haven't stopped thinking about you since we parted. We're currently in pursuit of an evil man who tried to steal Allie's Pokémon last night. Would you care to join us? And afterwards we can chat over a nice tea party."
Allie punched him gently in the back. "Come on, be nice."
Ash rolled his eyes again. "We need to get going," he said as his expression became serious once again. "That man could be getting farther and farther with every second."
The two newcomers exchanged glances with each other. Slowly, Mina began speaking.
"This morning, I was attacked on my way from a Pokémart by a guy with purple hair." Ash's face grew darker with every word Mina spoke. "He didn't hurt me, thankfully, but he did try to run off with my Pokémon. Luckily, all he got were some empty Pokéballs that I had just purchased. But I couldn't just take that lying down! I chased after him. He almost got away by stealing some guy's motorcycle and having his Pokémon use smokescreen, but luckily Forrest showed up and we were able to find an Onix tunnel that led straight here," Mina finished.
"Purple hair…" muttered Allie. “It's the same guy."
"Let's go," said Ash, beginning to continue down the tunnel, his headlamp back on. "We need to catch him."
As the others followed behind him, Allie and Mina once again began chatting about what had happened in the day that they were apart.
"So I finally reached Vermillion City and toasted the gym leader there," she began, speaking quickly and directly. "The 'Lightning American' is a bit full of it. Really cocky guy, but not too strong. Charbron cooked his Magnezones, and his Raichu wasn't too powerful either. Anyway, the route east of Diglett's Cave's southern entrance was closed for safety reasons. There've been a lot of sinkholes in the area."
Allie listened attentively to her friend's adventures. She was so much stronger than Allie was. But somehow, their battle still ended in a draw. Strength must not be everything.
"So I began to go north to Cerulean City. But the underground path that goes directly to it is sealed off right now for some security reason in Cerulean. And the weirdest thing of all was when I tried to go through Saffron City and there was a man wearing black clothing who refused to let me enter. He said something about a spaceship blowing up a building."
Allie laughed uneasily at the strange story Mina just told. What did a spaceship have to do with entry into Saffron City? It seemed curious, but she didn't begrudge Mina for returning to Pewter City to travel through Mt. Moon.
"Wait, so this guy told you that a starship crashed somewhere in Saffron?" asked Allie raising an eyebrow. "That seems a bit-"
But Allie was cut off as she walked into Ash, lost her balance, and fell backwards. The older trainer had suddenly stopped without Allie noticing and she had collided with him. Ignoring the girl dusting herself off on the ground in front of him, Ash's eyes narrowed as he stared at Mina.
"Do you remember if instead of the word 'spaceship,' this man said Rocket?" he asked, each word carefully measured.
Confused but confident, Mina nodded. "I think that was what he said, come to think of it. Why?"
Ash ignored her question. "Forrest," he said, looking towards the young man at the back of the group. "I need you to look after the girls. Catch the thief and make sure they reach Cerulean City safely."
The gym leader tilted his head, puzzled. "Ash, you don't think that-"
"I don't know yet."
Looking down, he noticed Allie still sitting at his feet. He extended a hand and helped her up. "Allie, I'm truly and sincerely sorry, but I need to go look into something. I really wish I could keep travelling with you, but for now at least I have other duties. Don't take risks in Cerulean City. Don't leave the Pokémon Center after sunset. I'll be back as soon as I can." Realizing that he hadn't yet released her hand, he quickly did so.
She nodded, still perplexed.
"Good luck," he said, looking at the younger trainers, sorrow in his dark brown eyes.
Allie sadly watched as Ash left the cave through the same way they had entered. Just when he finally seemed to care about her, he ran away on some other mission. She knew it was important and he didn't have a choice, but still… His light slowly grew dimmer until it finally disappeared.
"Alright," said Forrest. "Let's roll." No longer able to act as merely a chivalrous hero showing off for the girls, his persona now embraced the essence of the strong rock-types he fought with.
"What a jerk, just leaving like that. I don't know how you were able to travel with Mr. Strong and Silent for so long," muttered Mina to Allie half an hour after Ash left.
The three companions continued deeper into the mountain. Occasionally, Mina had to order Charbron to break a rock that was blocking the way. Twice, a caved-in section of tunnel required that the group backtrack to a more open section of the cave to allow Steelix to dig a detour.
The echoing sounds of dripping water and Zubats' cries filled their ears. Finally, the tunnel opened up into a large chamber. The trainers saw a light ahead of them and knew they were almost there.
"She was right. I am useless," a man grumbled. "I can't even steal a few Pokémon from their idiot trainers."
Allie scowled at this comment. This was certainly the jerk they were looking for. Mina returned Charbron to his Pokéball to hide his flame from the sight of their target. The three crept through the darkness, being careful not to make any noise to alert him to their presence.
The man continued to groan about his situation. As Allie was walking, the oversized sweatshirt Allie borrowed from Ash caught on one of the stalagmites. It tripped her, throwing her to the hard rock cavern floor. She was fine, but the noise made the thief turn his head suspiciously.
"Whoever's out there," he shouted in Allie's direction. "Show yourself."
Receiving no answer, the man began walking towards where Allie was crouched behind a large boulder. Mina and Forrest, who were farther than Allie into the cavern, were forced to watch from hiding as the man walked right past them to where Allie was. Reaching behind the rock, he grabbed the hood of Ash's sweatshirt and twirled Allie around the rock and back to the hard ground in front of him. The man stepped down hard on her wrist to prevent her from getting up.
"So," he spat at her. "You thought you would dare to sneak up on me? Do you know who I am?"
"Yes, I do know," she whispered defiantly. "You attacked me last night and tried to steal Squirtle. Then you tried to steal my friend's Pokémon. You're a scumbag and a thief."
Allie was determined to show courage even in the face of her current situation, especially after last night. But an old saying goes that "There is a thin line between bravery and stupidity." She learned this lesson the hard way as the man kicked her in the side of the head.
Moaning in pain, Allie tried to stand up again but failed. She was dizzy, and the world was blurring. But she still heard the man's voice as clear as could be.
"Stupid girl," he cackled. "I'm no petty thief, and I would recommend against making that mistake again." He drew himself up to his full height, trying to seem more impressive. The effort was in vain, though, as his purple hair was streaked with sweat and dirt, and it was apparent that this man hadn't showered in weeks.
"I am James, the last member of Team Rocket."
The words meant little to Allie, who had grown up after the downfall of the organization. But Forrest felt his stomach drop as he realized who the thief was and what evil group he was connected to.
"I know you too," he smirked as he knelt down beside her. "You're that pretty little girl from last night. Maybe I should have kidnapped you instead of Squirtle," he laughed harshly. "I suppose I should thank you for giving me a second chance to make you my prize." James reached towards Allie's long blonde hair.
Realizing that he had let this go on too long, Forrest sprung from his spot. Mina stepped out behind him.
"Don't touch her, James," he shouted. "You're a lot of things, but you aren't evil."
"The big twerp," the man gaped, staring at Forrest in surprise. Looking closer, he noticed the young age of the brown haired boy. "No, you're not Brock," he laughed nastily. "Trick of the light. You must be one of his silly little brothers. Hey, I have a question. What's wrong with your mom that you all had to be cloned from your father?" James taunted.
Forrest's hand clenched into a fist as the heartless man laughed at his own joke. "You leave my mother out of this," he muttered. "This is between us." Regaining his composure, Forrest continued. "By the power invested in me by the Indigo Pokémon League of Kanto, I, Forrest of the Pewter City Gym, place you under arrest."
The last Rocket laughed cruelly at him. "Are you really this stupid? Do you expect me to turn myself in or do you plan on beating me in a battle? I assure you, twerp, neither will happen."
Reaching into his pockets, James pulled out two Pokéballs. "Surrender now, or prepare to fight!" he shouted, tossing the balls into the air. A Wheezing and Bisharp leaped out of the Pokéballs, charging menacingly towards Forrest and Mina.
"Crobat, airslash! Geodude, hit them with rock throw!" he shouted to his Pokémon, which had already appeared and began executing his orders. Mina reached to her belt for Charbron, but Forrest held out a hand. "Stay back," he whispered to her. "This could get tricky."
Forrest tucked his head and charged at James. The two tumbled to the ground while grappling with each other, each trying get on top. Mina screamed as she saw James' fist collide with Forrest's face. Running forward to where Allie was struggling to stay conscious, she bent down over her friend.
The other battle was taking place high above them. Rocks and sludge flew in the battle between Geodude and Wheezing, while Bisharp leaped from rock to rock slashing at the flying purple bat.
Mina helped Allie crawl to her feet. The blonde girl was gently holding her injured head and wrist, carefully shielding them from debris from the sky battle. They watched the results of the battle, fear in their eyes. Forrest's Pokémon seemed to have the upper hand in the air, but James was older and stronger than the gym leader, and had beaten Forrest into submission.
The last Rocket stood up, dusting himself off. "You see, the mistake you made is assuming that I was the same man I was when I followed your brother and Ketchum," James smirked. "I am not.
"I've wasted so many years of my life trying and failing to steal Pokémon. I've never won. That's why she left. And now, I've changed. I will win, at any cost. Because without her, it hardly matters…"
Mina, who had been supporting some of Allie's weight, was forced to dive out of the way as a fainted Geodude crashed where they had been standing. She pushed Allie to the side of the cave as the spot they had been standing was reduced to a crater.
A mad gleam was now in James' eyes. "She's gone now. But I will win. I shall win one final victory for Team Rocket!"
Forrest struggled to his feet, horrified of what he knew was coming. "Don't!" he shouted with the last of his energy.
James had lost what little remained of his sanity. Lifting his head to the cavern roof above, James screamed his last, suicidal plan for victory.
"Wheezing! Self Destruct!"
There was a bright explosion from above. The methane and other gases that the poison-type had been spewing ignited. Allie could faintly hear Mina and Forrest shouting, James' insane laughter, and the sound of falling rocks.
The tunnel walls and ceiling were collapsing around them. Cracks were appearing in the floor now. Allie barely had time process what was happening when she felt the cold hard rocks she was laying on fracture apart. So tired from the battle, Allie was unconscious before the floor gave away. But no matter where her mind went, her physical body was still free falling into a dark abyss.
You could no longer call it a cave. The entire thing collapsed upon itself, burying everyone in it alive.
Ash was having difficulties of his own, though not to the extent of one who has just had thousands of tons of stones dropped on one's body. Completely unaware of the danger he left his young charge in, the trainer was occupied trying to make it safely to Saffron City.
He and Pidgeot had seen it as soon as they were high enough in the air. The only way Ash had missed it that morning was because of the darkness. There was a huge cloud of smoke rising from where the city was located.
That was several hours ago. Now, Ash and Pidgeot were flying for their lives. A huge crowd of people had surrounded the city, and every one of them seemed intent on shooting him out of the sky. Ice beams, fireblasts, hyper beams, and more came blasting towards them. Ash's hat had a bit of ice on it from a close call with a blizzard attack. Pikachu was nearly incinerated by a flamethrower.
Pidgeot made a steep dive into the city. He landed in an alleyway, to hide them from their attackers. Ash quickly jumped off its back and began sprinting to where the smoke was coming like a beacon. It seemed peculiar that he didn't pass a single person on his way to his destination, but he didn't have time to worry about it.
Ash was usually a very stoic, composed trainer. But on this occasion, what he saw made his knees tremble. Where the Silph Company building had stood, there was nothing but flames. The ground was completely flat, no building wreckage or anything. It was as if the building was never there, just a patch of ground with a pattern burning in it.
The trainer couldn't believe his eyes. He had been at Silph just a few weeks ago sampling a security product. Ash traced the pattern in the flames with his finger. He drew in midair a letter that made his very core shudder with fear.
Re: The Journey Never Ends
The Journey Never Ends
Chapter 10: Emissary of Evil
“Great job Squirtle, thanks for all your help.”
Ash gazed out across the barren site where, until recently, the Silph building had stood. After waging a war against the inferno, the fires had finally been put out, but the terrible mark was already burned into the ground.
Standing next to him, directing the teams extinguishing the remaining embers, was a Squirtle wearing pointed sunglasses. The Squirtle Squad, led by one of the first Pokémon Ash had travelled with, had come to Saffron to help fight the fires.
Ash continued to stand pensively as Squirtle and Pikachu walked down into the field to more closely monitor the squad’s progress.
The spot of ground was devoid of anything but ashes. There should have been some charred wood or melted steel from the missing sky scraper. But there were neither, and this troubled Ash. Buildings don’t just vanish into flames.
A police woman with light blue hair approached Ash.
“We’ve swept the perimeter of the city and we unable to find any trace of the people who were blocking the entrances. They seem to have fled when rescue teams began arriving. We’ve got officers and Growlithes still searching the outskirts of town.”
“Thank you, Officer Jenny,” said Ash. “Have you discovered what ignited the fire?”
“No,” she answered. “Nor is there any trace of the building’s remains. We’re currently interviewing the city’s residents to see if they saw anything suspicious.”
“Alright, let me know if you find something right away.”
Officer Jenny saluted him. “Yes, sir.”
Ash sighed as she walked away, staring once again across the burned plot of land. News of this disaster would soon spread around Kanto. With all of the troubles already occurring in the region, this could be enough to start a panic. There was little he could do except finding out what had transpired, and trying to prevent it from happening again.
As he stared across the barren wasteland, he suddenly got a strange feeling that someone was watching him. Turning around, he glanced at the police line. There were police officers, ambulances, and reporters already on the scene. But one lone figure caught Ash’s eye. Leaning against a streetlight, there was a man dressed in a long black coat. Though a dark hood obscured his eyes, the man was clearly staring at Ash.
The trainer moved towards the perimeter of the area. He approached the reporters as if he were going to give a press conference so as to not alert the mysterious stranger. Television and radio reporters began shouting questions at him.
He stopped just short of where they waited at the edge of the police line.
“I have time for only a single interview tonight.” Silence fell as the reporters waited anxiously for his next words. Ash lifted his hand, pointing randomly into the crowd. “You,” he said, looking into the bright eyes of a young woman. He beckoned her towards him, the other reporters shrinking back, clearly disappointed that they weren’t chosen.
The woman crossed the police line, and Ash bent down and whispered into her ear. She nodded, pointing to a white news van not far from the mysterious man.
The two walked towards the van, fighting their way through the multitudes of journalists. The reporter slid the back door open, and they climbed inside. It was much smaller than Ash had imagined. He and the woman sat facing each other, their knees touching in the cramped van.
“I’m Selena. Thank you for allowing me to ask you some questions, Mr. Ketchum,” the woman said. She seemed to be about the same age as he was, and rather pretty, too. Her black hair was in two long pigtails which reached to her lower back, and she wore a forest green mini-dress over black jeans.
“Ash,” he said, waving away the formalities. “I’m not here for publicity. There’s a suspicious man outside, and I needed a way to watch him without scaring him away. There’s a good view of him from your window.”
Selena’s face fell. “Oh. I thought you were actually going to allow me to interview you. I’ve been told you don’t like the media, but when you pointed to me, I thought…”
“Hold on,” Ash stopped her. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t speak with you. I believe he’s watching us, so he needs to see me talking to you.”
The young woman nodded. “Alright, what do you want me to do?” she asked.
“You can tell your viewers that the tragedy which took place tonight at the Silph Company is unprecedented. The building appears to have burned down in a large fire. The criminal behind this has not yet been identified, but every resource is being used to determine what caused the disaster,” he said, vaguely. He watched as Selena scribbled down his words on a notepad. She paused, trying to decide what to say next.
“Can I ask you something? Off the record, I promise.” The trainer nodded reluctantly. “I’ve only been a reporter for several months. But in that time, so many strange things have been happening. Where have you been?”
The question startled Ash. It was just like the kind a reporter would ask, but Selena asked it more innocently, as if she actually cared where he had been.
“I’ve been working to discover what’s been going on,” he answered plainly.
Selena lowered her notepad. “Ash,” she said, her voice growing somber yet steady. “You were a hero to our generation: a sign that we could reach our dreams no matter how young or unknown we were. And now you’ve just disappeared. To the people you swore to protect, it’s like you abandoned them, abandoned us.”
This stung Ash. He wasn’t fond of the spotlight, but he was still fulfilling his duties quietly. But he never considered that people didn’t realize this. He slammed his fist against a high tech piece of machinery next to him, making Selena jump.
“Is that what people really believe?” the trainer shouted. “That I’m doing nothing? That I’m forsaking my duties? If it seems like I’m not doing anything, then it’s only because people like you spread rumors that I’ve disappeared instead of reporting on real news.”
Ash was standing now, towering over Selena. The young woman was cowering in fear. Shame replaced Ash’s anger, and he slumped back into his seat.
“I’m sorry. That was unprofessional and uncalled for,” he mumbled, his head in his hands.
“N-no,” stuttered Selena. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to attack you like that. It’s just that you were a hero to a lot of people, including me, and no one ever hears from you anymore. I know you didn’t abandon us, but a lot of people feel like you did.”
Ash sighed. He had let his anger against the media go too far and forgotten that there were real people in the world who wanted to know if they were safe. “I’m working hard to protect the citizens of Kanto. Believe me,” he said. The girl nodded.
“Ash… I want to help you, somehow,” Selena murmured.
“Tell the people of Kanto what I just told you. Tell them that I promise to do my best to protect them. Don’t twist the news like every other reporter I’ve ever met.” Selena nodded again.
Ash relaxed in his seat. Perhaps there were still honest people like Selena in the world. “So I was your hero, eh?” he chuckled, winking at her.
The young journalist blushed. “I watched all of your battles in the Pokémon League. You’re an amazing trainer. Your determination inspired me to become a news reporter to help people see that there were incredible people like you in the world.”
“I apologize for inspiring such a career,” Ash joked, “but I’m honored to hear that.”
Suddenly, Ash stood up, startling Selena. “No! He’s gone?” Ash was staring wide-eyed out the window at the streetlight post where, until a minute ago, his mark had been standing. “Impossible, he was just-”
But Ash’s words were cut abruptly short as the van turned on and began to move. The sudden acceleration caused Ash to lose his balance and fall on top of Selena.
“Damn it,” Ash shouted. “Sorry Selena.” The poor girl beneath him had had the wind knocked out of her and was unable to reply.
The back of the van was divided from the front by a solid sheet of steel, so they couldn’t see the driver. The man, whoever he was, must have entered the van while Ash was distracted and hijacked the vehicle. Ash struggled to his feet, trying desperately to unlock the back door, but it was jammed.
“Is there any way we can send a signal using the television broadcast to let the police know where we are?” the trainer asked, turning to the woman.
Selena shook her head dubiously. “The engine and the hardware can’t work at the same time. I think we’re stuck in here.”
Ash had played right into the stranger’s hands. They had been abducted.
“Stand back Selena,” he grimaced, reaching to his belt for a Pokéball.
There was a flash of red light, and a small green Pokémon sat in the middle of the van.
“Bulbasaur, use solarbeam on the door!” Ash instructed it.
The grass type nodded, concentrating on focusing the energy in the bulb on his back. Seconds later, a huge beam of light tore through the back door. Ash grabbed Selena by the waist, and the two jumped out of the van closely followed by Bulbasaur. They tumbled onto the road, slightly bruised, but otherwise uninjured. Thankfully, there were no cars immediately behind them.
“Are you alright?” the trainer asked Selena. She nodded, shaken from their fall. The van, however, was still quickly getting farther and farther away. “Razor leaf!” Ash coughed, choking on the dirty air from the van’s exhaust.
Bulbasaur obeyed, shooting four shuriken-like leaves at the van’s wheels. Each one slashed its target, creating large gashes in the tires. The vehicle swerved out of control, mounting the sidewalk and almost hitting several late-night pedestrians. It finally slowed to a stop, and Ash began walking towards it.
A man, the same man whom Ash had seen earlier, leaped out of the car. He and Ash stood staring at each other for several minutes.
“Will you surrender, or do you wish to fight me?” Ash asked, loudly and clearly, stepping forward boldly. Bulbasaur bounded in front of him, ready for the latter.
The man replied by pulling out a Pokéball. As he threw it, a red light materialized into a large black bird.
“HonchKROW!” it cried, flapping its wings threateningly, but Ash held his ground.
“Shadowball,” the stranger snarled.
A black mass of energy gathered in front of Honchkrow. It flew directly at Ash, who neatly sidestepped it. A huge cloud of darkness spread, obscuring the streetlights and making it almost impossible to see.
By the time Ash, Selena, and Bulbasaur could see again, Honchkrow and its trainer were barely visible in the dark sky, far above the city.
Ash turned back to face the reporter. She was trembling. He put a strong hand on her shoulder, and pulled a lock of her long black hair out of a bloody cut on her forehead.
“I need you to tell the police what happened. I’m going after him. We’ll meet again. Be strong.”
“Thank you Ash. But I want a proper interview next time since you decided to trash my van,” she said with a smile.
Ash chuckled. “Alright. You have my word.”
Bulbasaur returned to his Pokéball, replaced by Pidgeot whom Ash quickly mounted. The trainer shouted a command, and they flew away.
It was only by Pidgeot’s keen eyesight that they were able to pursuit the shadowy bird and black-clad rider in the dead of night. The chase lasted several hours until Honchkrow finally began to descend. Based on their direction and proximity to water, Ash assumed that they were now in Vermillion City.
Honchkrow landed at the end of one of the long piers protruding into Vermillion Harbor. Ash and Pidgeot landed several yards away. The wind was strong, and the sea breeze was buffeting them with droplets of water from the rough sea below.
“Have you given up yet?” Ash called through the howling wind. The man’s back was turned to him.
The stranger returned Honchkrow to its Pokéball. He turned to face Ash, the hood still obscuring his face.
“I was sent as an emissary, nothing more. I have a message for you.” said a gruff voice.
“My master extends an invitation to you. He would like to offer you a place in command of his new organization. Ash Ketchum, will you stand by his side as a member of Rocket Nation?”
Ash threw his head back and laughed. “The day I join Team Rocket is the day I turn my back on my morals, my friends, and who I am. Your master should never have sent you.”
“You are wrong, Ash Ketchum. We are not Giovanni’s horde of fools. We are Rocket Nation, and you will one day fight by our side, regardless of what you say now.”
“Eternity stands between that day and today,” Ash shouted. “You’re under arrest for kidnapping, affiliation with an illegal organization, and in connection with the disappearance of the Silph Company. Stand down.”
Sirens could now be heard through the wind. Flashing lights were getting clearer through the fog.
“Hear my words, Ash Ketchum,” the stranger decreed, walking backwards towards the edge of the dock. “Rocket Nation has risen. And even you will be unable to resist our power.”
Ash realized a moment too late what the man was doing. The trainer began running towards him.
“Don’t do it,” Ash warned. It was too late. The messenger stepped backwards off the pier’s edge and fell, vanishing from sight.
By the time Ash reached the edge, the man was gone. Huge waves far below crashed against the posts, making it impossible to see a body floating below.
A police car pulled up behind him, lights flashing. Squirtle and Pikachu jumped out, quickly followed by Officer Jenny.
Ash bent down and spoke to the Pokémon. “Squirtle, thank you so much for your help in Saffron. I need you to do one more thing for me.” The turtle nodded. “Have the Squirtle Squad scan the waters for the body of a man dressed in all black. I need to know if he survived.”
Squirtle nodded again, hugging Ash’s leg.
“I know, buddy. I missed you too. We’ll see each other soon.”
Pikachu jumped on Ash’s shoulders, waving goodbye to his fellow Pokémon.
“So Selena told you what happened?” Ash asked, standing to speak with the police woman.
“Yes sir. She said you were flying south, so we came right away.”
“Thank you,” Ash whispered. “Follow up on the investigations. Let me know if the Squirtle Squad finds anything, or if there’s any evidence to indicate what happened to the Silph building.”
“And you sir?” Jenny inquired.
“I have to get back to Cerulean City. I have business there.”
Ash had begun walking away when Officer Jenny stopped him. “Ash, there was another suspicious occurrence today.” The trainer raised an eyebrow. “A section of Mount Moon has caved in. Rescue teams have been unable to find any survivors thus far.”
Pidgeot and Ash were airborne before Jenny even completed her final sentence.
Re: The Journey Never Ends
The Journey Never Ends
Chapter 11: Alone in the Underground
Darkness. Pain. Exhaustion.
These were the only three things running through Allie’s barely conscious mind. It took several minutes before Allie regained even basic cognitive abilities. Her memory of what had happened was very blurry.
Slowly opening her eyes, the trainer looked up from where she lay, still not daring to move. There was no light in the cave now, a problem she eliminated by gradually reaching up to her headlamp. The low ceiling appeared to be made of many different boulders piled against each other and held together by friction. If even a single rock had fallen differently, they would all have fallen on top of her.
Allie’s attention was brought back to the ground by a searing pain in her leg. Gritting her teeth in pain, the girl felt as though a Snorlax was sitting on it. Looking down her body, she saw a massive boulder sitting right on her calf.
“I’m never going to catch a break,” she grumbled. Mightyena, James, and now even Mt. Moon seemed to have it in for her.
“Is anyone out there?” she choked into the darkness. No reply. Forrest and Mina must just be somewhere on the other side of the rocks; they simply couldn’t hear her and would come looking for her soon.
But after several minutes, Allie began to panic. What if they weren’t able to find her? What if they were more injured than she was? The blood from her leg had begun to pool around her, soaking into her shorts and coating her legs.
There were two things she could do: wait for help or take matters into her own hands. Allie’s fists clenched as she decided that if she was going to start helping herself, now was the time. She pulled out Squirtle’s Pokéball and released him.
“Squirt!” the tiny turtle exclaimed, immediately seeing the seriousness of Allie’s situation.
“Don’t worry,” she reassured him, wincing with pain as she tried to sit up. “I’ll be fine. I just need you to break this rock. Can you do that?” she asked, hoping he would be able to without collapsing the cave on them.
Squirtle tilted his head inquisitively, walking around and studying the spots where the base of the rock was pressed tightly against Allie’s leg. Grinning, he nodded at her.
“Great…” she managed to whisper. “Just gently use water gun to break away at the bottom of it. No need to use hydro pump this time.”
He nodded, beginning to blast the rock with a steady stream of water. The water ran down the rock and across Allie’s leg. The cool temperature felt good on the bleeding wound, and before Allie knew it, the pressure was gone from her leg and she was able to crawl out from under the large boulder.
The leg had been torn open when the rock had landed on it, and the resulting gash was responsible for the blood dripping everywhere. After cleaning it out and wrapping it with her headband to keep it from bleeding, she struggled to her feet. She tried to brush the cave dust and grime off Ash’s sweatshirt, but most of it was caked on. Her legs threatened to give away from the loss of blood, but, determined to find her friends, Allie began walking. Squirtle followed closely, not wanting her to fall or faint.
They spent what felt like hours navigating the treacherously narrow pathway. It was a relief when the path finally started going back up. As path grew smaller, Allie was forced to crawl and squeeze through tight tunnels. All the while, a faint Pokémon cry resounded through the tunnels.
The partners eventually came to a split in the tunnel.
“Hold on,” Allie told Squirtle. “I read a book about caves once. The path that has a draft coming through it should lead us to the surface.”
Squirtle clapped his hands, relieved to finally have good news. His face, however, quickly became full of despair as Allie went a few feet into each branch of the tunnel, then collapsed hopelessly against a rock.
“There’s no fresh air in either direction,” she moaned. Her legs were too weak to go any farther, and the air was getting thinner. Squirtle began tugging on her shirt.
“We’re stuck Squirtle, I’m sorry. There’s nothing else I can do about it.” Despite her resignation, Squirtle continued to poke her until she finally looked up.
“Squirtle Squirt Squirtle!” he said, pointing to the left path.
Allie looked at him, confused. “Are you saying we should go that way?” The tiny turtle shook his head and waved his arms frantically.
Allie stared at him for several minutes, listening as a gradual thumping became louder and louder. The ground began shaking and Allie finally realized what he was trying to say.
“Come on! Let’s go!” she shouted as she led Squirtle down the right path.
This tunnel was wide enough to stand in comfortably, much to Allie’s relief. The ground was trembling more and more violently as they continued deeper into Mount Moon. The trainer had no idea what was following them, and she had no desire to find out.
They walked quickly, going as fast as they could in the dark and treacherous cave.
The walls were rapidly converging. Allie finally stopped mid-stride, hopes dashed. It was a dead end. There was no way out.
“I guess we’ll have to go the other way and take our chances,” she told Squirtle, who promptly began shaking his head again. “We obviously can’t go-”
Her voice was immediately silenced by the largest tremor yet. Allie turned back to see the way they had just come, and felt her stomach drop.
Coming towards her was a raging Onix. It was beating its head and tail against the stone walls in fury, threatening to create a cave-in. She quickly backed against the wall blocking her escape. She was cornered.
Squirtle jumped out in front of her, ready to loyally defend his trainer, but Allie was torn. If she battled it, the ensuing chaos would surely cause the tunnel to collapse on all of them. But if she just let it keep coming, who knew what it would do to them. She couldn’t even remember if Onixes ate humans.
As the beast drew nearer, the blonde haired trainer realized that it wasn’t very large for an Onix. It only seemed to be about fourteen feet, instead of the usual twenty eight. The rocks that made up its body were smaller as well. Despite its relatively small size, the Onix was more furious than any Pokémon she had ever seen.
I wish Ash were here, Allie thought, shutting her eyes tightly so she didn’t have to see Onix come any closer. He’d know some way of calming a baby Onix.
Her own words from the previous evening came back to her. “I can’t expect you to always come flying to my rescue. I can’t be a burden forever. I need to become strong.”
She opened her eyes again, desperate to find something to stop the rock snake. She found what she was looking for sticking out of its tail. There was sharp, arm-length piece of stone jammed into one of the last rocks segments which comprised its body. It must have hit the Pokémon when the cavern collapsed.
Allie looked down at Squirtle.
“Alright buddy. I’ve got a plan. Aim hydro pump at his eyes. Don’t hurt him though, or we’re as good as dead.” Squirtle gave her a bewildered look. “Trust me on this.”
The tiny turtle pulled its head back, and let out a huge jet of water from its mouth. The hydro pump hit Onix squarely in the eyes. Blinded by the sudden rush of water, it was forced to stop in its tracks, only feet away from Allie.
The trainer took this opportunity to sidle around the body of the great stone serpent and climb up on its tail. Onix, distracted by Squirtle, ignored the pest crawling on its back, although Allie was still almost thrown off or crushed into a wall several times.
She grabbed onto the rock protruding from the stone tail. Onix shifted his focus to her, furious that she would dare touch his injury. Allie was shaken vigorously and finally thrown off against a wall.
This is the end, she thought, preparing herself mentally to be flattened by his tail.
But the final blow never came.
Allie looked down, and realized what she was holding. The stone splinter was in her arms, and Onix had stopped thrashing around.
Onix was looking intently at her. As Allie stood up, he wrapped his tail around her. She flinched, but never felt any pain. Onix lifted her up off the ground and brought her close to his face. His touch was surprisingly tender, and held her securely.
He’s hugging me? Allie wondered. Squirtle was below them dancing happily.
Allie and Onix stared into each other’s eyes for several minutes, before Allie decided to ask her new friend for help.
“Onix, we’re trapped in this mountain with no way to get out and too deep for anyone to find. Can you help me?”
The rock snake nodded confidently, gently placing Allie back on the ground. Allie and Squirtle stood aside as he began digging a hole where the dead end had been. He dug straight down, and finally disappeared from sight in the darkness.
Allie approached the edge of the hole carefully. The hole seemed bottomless. She didn’t have any Pokémon who could fly her down, so she was going to have to climb. The depth of the hole worried her though, for if she slipped, there was no telling how far she would fall.
“I don’t know Squirtle, shouldn’t we be heading up if we want to get out of here?” Allie asked cautiously.
Before Squirtle could respond, the spot where they were standing collapsed into hole, hurling both trainer and Pokémon deep into the pit.
Allie, exhausted and weak from losing so much blood, lost consciousness before her mind even registered that she was falling.
The first thing Allie noticed when she woke up was a strange pressure on her chest. Opening her eyes, she saw a small pink Pokémon leaning over her face. When it noticed her blinking, it tumbled backwards and rolled off her stomach.
Allie sat up and looked around, amazed. She appeared to be on the grassy shore of a beautiful lake. The only light she could see was cast from the full moon high above her. The moon was reflected in the water below, completing a scene of utmost serenity. Confused, the girl began rubbing her eyes to see if they were fooling her.
Why aren’t I underground? she wondered. The last thing she remembered was preparing to enter Onix’s tunnel, and now she was at a tranquil lake at night. She glanced down at her leg; the skin was still stained with her blood, but the pain was gone and the wound was closed. Am I even alive?
Squirtle lay collapsed next to her. He was breathing steadily, but had also apparently survived the fall. Allie returned him to his Pokéball, still trying to figure out what happened.
Surrounding her were hundreds of Clefaries and Cleffas. All of them were staring at her. Looking toward the center of the lake, Allie saw an island of rock rising up from the water. Ten Clefairies danced in a circle around the edges of the island. Their apparent leader stood in the center: a Clefable.
The leader turned to face Allie, and all the Pokémon on the beach began chanting. “Cleff! Cleffa! Cleffa! Clefairy!” they hummed, swinging their arms back and forth in a pendulum motion.
The large pink fairy Pokémon continued to stare at the trainer, now beckoning her to him with a stubby finger.
Without hesitation, Allie began walking into the lake, fully clothed. It seemed to her to be a strange thing to do under the instructions of a Pokémon, yet she did it anyway. The feeling of the warm water touching her body was intoxicating. It flowed through the clothing, penetrating every inch of her skin.
The water was up to the girl’s chest when Clefable indicated that she should stop walking. The longest strands of her ponytail floated in the water around her. Allie couldn’t remember a time when she had felt so comfortable. She moaned as she stretched her neck backwards, lowering the back of her head into the water.
The chanting and pendulum motion of the Clefairies had grown faster. Clefable had joined their dance, now skipping around ceremonially on his island. Allie watched the detailed ritual carefully.
The moon above them was growing larger, until the entire lake reflected its shadow. Then, with deliberate precision, the swinging of the Clefairies stopped, and the leader lowered his hand, gesturing once again at Allie.
A blinding moon ray descended dramatically from above, surrounding Allie, and lifting her slowly out of the water. Her body floated upwards in midair, watched closely by the fairy Pokémon. As the brightness of the column of light intensified, the trainer swore she could hear a call to her: “Farewell, Allie Dogwood. Beware the one who was not born.” Her last sight before she closed her eyes was Clefable solemnly waving goodbye to her from the island.
Allie was now standing at the bottom of the rocky base of a mountain. She was a little confused as to what had happened with the Clefairies and slightly disconcerted that the voice which spoke to her seemed to come from Clefable, but otherwise in good spirits. She decided that she wouldn’t tell anyone about Clefable’s warning, that it must have just been a crazy hallucination. The experience at the lake had refreshed her body and mind, and she felt ready and able to continue on, though the trainer was unsure for how long.
As she looked around at her surroundings, a glint of metal caught her eye. The girl bent down and picked up what appeared to be a black and gold bottle cap. Dismissing it as just a piece of litter, she pocketed it, intending to dispose of it later.
Just past a line of trees, Allie thought she could hear voices. Hoping they were friendly voices and not more criminals, she set off to go find their owners.
The sun was almost directly above her head, beating down upon her. It was good to be warm once again, instead of the intense cold which she had dealt with since entering the cave.
As soon as she made it past the trees, the trainer was immediately greeted by the familiar voice she had been hoping for.
“Allie! You’re alright!” Ash’s voice said, filled with relief. He ran up to her, overjoyed to see her safe and well. The girl beamed. Finally safe and secure with someone who could protect her, Allie was overcome with exhaustion and her legs gave out.
Ash delicately caught her in his arms and held her close against his body. It wasn’t exactly a hug, but coming from Ash, it was definitely a sign of affection.
“Thanks, Ash,” Allie managed to whisper, face buried into his chest. He patted her on the back.
“Thank goodness you’re alright. I... we’ve been really worried about you.” They stood there for several minutes, each happy to be with the other once again. “Come on,” said Ash. “We’ve got to get back to the others.” He turned around and bent down. “Climb on my back.”
Allie mounted Ash and held her arms around his neck as he put his hands under her legs and hoisted her up. The older trainer easily carried the girl through a meadow filled with blooming flowers, until at last they came to a site where several large canvas tents were pitched. Several figures in jackets emblazoned with red crosses hurried up to them, but Ash dismissed them.
“I’ll take care of her. Go help out the remaining search crews. There might have been others in that cave.”
Ash lowered the girl gently to the ground, now supporting her with an arm around her waist. Allie limped into the spacious tent, where she was welcomed by the grinning faces of Forrest and Mina. They were sitting together on a bench on the far side of the tent. Both looked worse than when Allie had seen them last; Forrest had one arm in a sling and Mina had bandages wrapped around her forehead. Each was visibly exhausted from their ordeal.
“You had us worried sick,” Mina scolded her as Ash helped her sit down on a cot. “I don’t know what we would have done if you didn’t show up. What happened to you?”
Ash hushed the brunette. “Let me treat her injuries before you interrogate her. She’s probably even more fatigued than you are.”
Allie smiled. “Actually, I feel great. I mean, I’m drained, but I’ll still be able tell you guys what happened.”
And so, Allie recounted the details of her adventure to the other three trainers, all of whom were listening with rapt attention. Ash sat at her feet with a medical kit on his lap as he checked up and down her body for injuries. As she described her experience at the lake, Ash looked up at her.
“I don’t think you were actually above ground yet,” he explained. “I would assume you found an underground water source, and that the Clefairies were using moonlight to heal you and make the moon seem to appear in the sky. That also explains you don’t have any wounds despite all the blood on your legs. The dance they performed seems to have been metronome, which helped them teleport you up to the surface.”
“Oh,” Allie nodded. “That makes sense. It was so surreal being down there; the water was so soothing.” She closed her eyes, remembering the amazing feeling of the water on her skin. “But I’m really glad to be back with you guys.”
“Neat, Allie,” Mina grinned. “It must have been awesome to see all those Clefairies. Instead, I was stuck with this guy,” she said, jabbing Forrest with a finger.
“Come on,” he whined. “We made a good team. Neither of us would have survived alone.”
Mina winked at him. “I know. Just playing,” she giggled.
Ash rolled his eyes. It was good to have everyone together again.
“So Ash, where were you while all of this was happening?” asked the blonde-haired trainer.
He grunted, closing the first aid kit and sitting down next to Allie. “After Mina told me that something was going on in Saffron City, I went to go see what was going on. There was a large fire in one of the main buildings. It may have been an act of terrorism, but I can’t say for sure yet.” The others stared at him, knowing that he wasn’t giving the full story. Ash shrugged. “Then I was told that the cave collapsed so I headed back here. That’s all there is to it,” he insisted.
The girls still looked as they wanted to hear more, but Ash was definitely not in the mood to tell them the specifics. Forrest decided to change the subject. “And that’s when he showed up here and found us underground. I can’t believe you managed to survive that long Allie.”
The girl tilted her head curiously. “How long?” she asked.
“You don’t remember? You were in that cave for more than a full day. Ash pulled us out last night, but he stayed out all night searching for you.”
A day. She didn’t think it was that long, even though she felt like she had been separated from everyone for a month. It must have been because she spent so much time unconscious, or perhaps it was a trick of the Clefairies that made time pass faster. Either way, she was grateful that she was once again among friends and that it hadn’t been a longer ordeal.
Suddenly remembering why they had been put in such a dangerous situation in the first place, Allie turned back to Ash. “Did you find him?” she inquired.
The expert trainer shook his head. “No. Not yet. James may have been crushed in the collapse, or he may have escaped. Don’t worry about him,” he reassured Allie. “If he’s alive, they’ll get him.” Ash sighed. “He wasn’t like that a long time ago. I don’t know what changed him.”
“He kept talking about ‘her,’” Mina pointed out. “Maybe a lost love?”
Forrest shook his head. “He was alone Ash. No Jessie, no Meowth. I wonder if whatever made them leave also made him a bit less mentally stable.
“Could be,” Ash contemplated. “So, where are you guys going now?” Ash asked the group. “Allie and I will be travelling to Cerulean City; you guys are welcome to join us if you want,” he said. “Forrest, I know you have to head back to Pewter, but it wouldn’t hurt to get rested up before you leave.”
Forrest and Mina exchanged playful looks. He grinned. “Sure, I’ll come with you guys for a little while.”
Mina grabbed his arm. “It’ll be fun for you to get out of that stuffy gym for once. You’ll get a chance to see the world,” she declared. "And even better, you'll get to see me every day!"
“We should depart soon if we want to get there by tonight,” Ash told them.
Forrest nodded in agreement. “Don’t want to get there after dark,” he said, a dark expression creeping across his face.
Ash crossed the tent and threw Allie’s backpack to her. “Are you feeling strong enough to go?” he asked her. “It isn’t that far, and you can use me for support if you need to. You guys probably want showers as soon as possible.”
She nodded. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“Alright,” he said, grinning. “Then we better get on the road. Pikachu!” he shouted.
The electric mouse bounded through the tent flap and leaped onto Ash’s shoulder as the others were collecting their gear.
“You guys ready?” the eldest trainer asked.
Allie and Forrest nodded, but Mina merely stood with a hand in front of her mouth in surprise.
“Is everything alright Mina?” Forrest asked her, placing his hand on her shoulder.
Allie turned to see her friend staring at Ash.
“A Pikachu? On his shoulder? Could it be?” the brunette mumbled incoherently.
Ash looked away, knowing what she had finally figured out.
“Ash… Ash Ketchum,” Mina said, her voice growing more and more excited. “You’re Ash Ketchum, the Pokémon League Champion!”
An uncomfortable silence fell in the tent as everyone turned to stare at him.
Re: The Journey Never Ends
The Journey Never Ends
Chapter 12: The Secret of Cerulean
Ash Ketchum... the legendary Pokémon Master.
Allie was sitting on a bench in the women's shower room at the Cerulean Pokémon Center, thinking to herself. After Mina had revealed Ash's identity, the champion had reluctantly acknowledged that she was correct. Allie was stunned. She knew that he hadn't been telling her everything, but it still hurt her that he had been hiding such a huge secret. Did he think she wouldn't be able to handle the truth, or did he think she was so below him at it didn't matter to her?
Allie sighed. He was a mystery. Ever since the revelation, he had isolated himself from the others, speaking only when he had to. The journey to Cerulean had been short, but uncomfortably quiet. The group reached a Pokémon Center by late afternoon, empty but for a visibly anxious Nurse Joy. There, Ash instructed the girls to shower and get comfortable, making them promise not to leave under any circumstances. Allie inquired why, but the only answer she received was a stern look from her mentor.
Standing up, Allie began to peel off her bloody and grimy clothing. It felt good to finally be out of the disgusting clothing she had worn in the cave for two days.
She stepped into the shower and turned on the water. Cool water ran down her skin, slowly warming up. Her swim in the underground lake had felt good, but now she was finally able to clean the sweat, blood, and dust from her body and wash her hair.
Mina's voice came drifting over the wall dividing their two showers. "I still can't believe that Ash is the champion. Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"I didn't know either," Allie admitted as she rubbed shampoo through her long blonde hair. "He never told me. I could tell he was powerful, but I never saw him battle so I didn't know how powerful," she explained. "But I guess he's the best of the best."
"A true Pokémon Master..." Mina said, voice filled with awe. "He's living our dream, Allie."
"He doesn't seem too happy though," Allie thought aloud. "I mean, I guess he's content, but he's always so serious. It must be a lot of responsibility." She bent down and began scrubbing her legs. A mixture of dirt and blood washed off of them, turning the water at her feet a dark red. "Why didn't you figure out who he was until today, Mina?" Allie asked.
"Pikachu," Mina answered shortly. "His Pikachu was always gone every time I was traveling with you guys. People always say that the champion is known for carrying a Pikachu on his shoulder. He always avoids the media, so most people don't know much else about him. I've only ever heard his name a couple of times, so I didn't recognize it immediately."
It seemed impossible to Allie that Ash the Champion and Ash her friend were the same person. Why had he hid his title from her? And why was he acting like it changed things between them?
"So Allie, you've travelled with him for a while now. Have you ever seen him without his shirt? I bet he's pretty hot," the brown haired girl said.
The spontaneous question caught Allie by surprised. She blushed. "Um, no, I've never seen that."
"He is pretty good looking, though. You got pretty lucky to travel with a hot Pokémon master."
Sighing, Allie continued to stand with her back to the showerhead, letting the water run down her spine. Ash was finally becoming friendly. Why did he care that they knew who he was? It didn't change anything about their friendship.
"Allie! Earth to Allie! Are you still there?"
"What? Oh, sorry Mina. I spaced out for a second."
Both girls turned their showers off and stepped out to dry themselves. Allie began rubbing herself with a Marill-embroidered towel as Mina continued the conversation.
"He's so handsome. I know I said his attitude was obnoxious, but it's actually pretty attractive," she admitted. "I wonder if he has a girlfriend..."
Allie laughed. "Mina, really? What about Forrest? Weren't you just flirting with him earlier today?"
"Oh, yeah," Mina giggled. "Let's just say that we had an adventure of our own beneath Mount Moon." Allie looked around the divider at the mischievous expression on her friend's face.
"Nothing dirty or anything, but being stuck in a cave for twelve hours really brings people together," Mina told her.
Allie raised an eyebrow suspiciously.
"Nothing happened down there!" Mina insisted, her face beginning to blush. "I mean, we snuggled a little, but that was just to keep warm!"
Allie smirked, quickly retreating to her side as Mina began throwing clothes at her.
It was like being in a ghost town. Ash and Forrest passed dozens of abandoned shops and homes, void of all life. Few humans and Pokémon were still in the city. The two were traveling alone, having insisted that the girls shower and rest at the Pokémon Center, leaving them with specific instructions not to leave under any circumstances. Now that they were in Cerulean City, Ash knew that the dangers were greater than ever.
The champion and gym leader solemnly walked side by side in silence until they reached their destination, the large, colorful building with a giant wooden Seel on top of it. Ash had great memories of this gym, home of one of his closest friends. As they approached, a woman with black hair stepped out of the building.
The newcomer wore a torn pair of jeans and a dark purple tank top. She crossed her arms, dark blue eyes sparkling mysteriously.
"Greetings, Ash and Forrest," she said mystically. "I was already aware you were coming."
"Naturally, Sabrina. It's been too long." Ash replied. "What brings you so far from Saffron?"
"You wish to know why I am here to greet you instead of your dear friend Misty," Sabrina guessed. Ash nodded. "Very well. Have you heard the rumors, champion, of The Creature of the Cape?"
"Both of us have, as you already know," Ash answered her, gesturing to Forrest. "That's why we're here."
"That's why we're here, Ash. The boy is here for a girl," she said matter-of-factly.
"I'm a gym leader too, Sabrina, don't talk to me like I'm a kid," growled the rock expert, taking a step forward. Ash put an arm across the teen's chest.
"Take it easy, we're all on the same side," he reminded the rock-type trainer.
Sabrina laughed. "My mistake, Forrest. You'll have to excuse me for that; I hadn't properly outgrown my childhood when I was your age," she explained, glancing at Ash. She took a step forward, and gave the other gym leader a quick kiss on the cheek. "I hope that does for an apology," Sabrina said with an air of false innocence, winking to him.
Forrest face flushed red. "I-I..." he stuttered. “Err, yes... It does...”
"Quit fooling around," Ash scowled at them. "We've established that we're here for a reason, but why are you here, Sabrina? And is Misty alright?" he asked, his tone becoming more urgent.
"Your friend is perfectly safe, though no longer in this region. We forced her to evacuate the city along with most of the other residents. She's in Johto right now."
Ash relaxed at the good news. If something had happened to Misty while he was on the road, he never would have forgiven himself.
"As for me, I came here to investigate The Creature. It has a strong psychic presence in our world, one of the most powerful I have ever felt."
"Does that mean you can track it?" Ash asked her.
Sabrina shook her head regretfully. "Sadly, I am only able to feel its power while it is actively using its powers. Other than that, it seems to be able to hide its psychic aura."
"So are we dealing with a psychic Pokémon or not?" Forrest asked shaking his head in confusion.
"Not any like any Pokémon that anyone has ever seen," Sabrina replied grimly. "And it is a far more powerful psychic than even I."
The group stood there as the severity of the situation sunk in.
"Ash... I think we need to tell the girls. This is a matter that concerns them as long as they're in this city," Forrest finally said.
The champion nodded reluctantly. "I know. Sabrina, we're going to head back to the Pokémon Center."
"Alright," the psychic said. "I'll come with you. I can monitor the psychic energy levels from there. And I'll be able to meet your special friends."
What does she mean by "special?" Ash wondered, not sure if he wanted to know what Sabrina foresaw using her powers.
"You know exactly what I mean, Ash Ketchum," she winked at him as he rolled his eyes.
The group had reserved two double rooms at the Pokémon Center: one for the guys and one for the girls. The two rooms were connected by a great room with couches and tables. It was here that Mina and Allie were sitting, their full attention focused on the flat screen television affixed to the wall.
"Welcome back to Pokémon News Network!" announced the newswoman. "We now go to our junior correspondent, Selena Skystar, for her account of the horrific events in Saffron City last night. Selena had the honor of doing an exclusive interview with legendary trainer Ash Ketchum, Indigo League Champion."
A young woman appeared on screen. Her hands were clenching a microphone, her face and arms scratched from jumping out of the van with Ash the previous night. Selena was visibly nervous, yet determined to tell her story.
"Thank you, Kelly," Selena began. "Yesterday morning, a fire devoured the Silph Company building located in Saffron City. I was on assignment to report on the devastating inferno when Ash Ketchum approached me for an interview. In the middle of a question, our news van was hijacked while we were in the back. Ash had his Pokémon get us out of the van, then confronted the hooded man who had attempted to kidnap us.
"After a brief skirmish, the criminal fled on the back of his Honchkrow. Ash pursued him until the man vanished into Vermillion Harbor. Anyone with information should contact the Saffron City Police Force as soon as possible.
"Oh my God," Allie mumbled. That explained what Ash had been doing while they were in the cave. She felt bad for him; it must be hard to have so much responsibility, and then to have people follow him because he's famous. Maybe that's why he was so secretive. But why did he think that it would change how she thought of him?
"Fascinating. You were lucky that Ash didn't shirk his responsibility to you like did with his duty to the rest of Kanto," the anchorwoman commented cruelly.
Selena froze for a moment, weighing her next words carefully. "You're wrong, Kelly. He never abandoned me and he never abandoned Kanto. The last thing Ash said to me... He wanted everyone to know that he does care about us, and he's working ceaselessly to find out what's going on."
The television suddenly turned off. "She was a reporter with enough courage to speak the truth. They are far too uncommon,” a voice said from the back of the room. The girls spun around in their seats to see Ash standing in the doorway, flanked by Forrest and a woman Allie had never seen before.
"Allie, Mina... We need to talk," Ash began, his voice more grave than ever. He set the TV remote down on a small coffee table. "This is Sabrina, the gym leader of Saffron City."
"Hello," the psychic greeted them. She sat down delicately in a large armchair. "It's a pleasure to meet you both. I wish we could battle so that I could see your strengths, however, now is neither the time nor the place."
"Girls, you need to listen and not interrupt me," Ash instructed them solemnly. "Very few others know what I am about to tell you."
Forrest crossed the room and sat down on an empty couch. Mina stood up and walked over to where he was, wrapping her arms around his neck and sitting down on his lap. No matter what Mina claimed, they were clearly together. Ash glared at them playing with each other's hair, as he took Mina's seat next to Allie. Forrest gave him an apologetic look, though he continued rubbing Mina's shoulders. The flirtatious gym leader finally found someone who didn't refuse his advances, and he wasn't going to let her go.
"This is serious," the champion reminded the teenagers. "You have all been dragged into our problems, and for that, I'm sincerely sorry. Part of the reason I never told you about who I am is because I didn't want you to get wrapped up in it; that's the same reason I didn't want you to come with me at the beginning, Allie. I'm sorry for how impersonal I can be sometimes, but being champion isn't as glorious as it seems.
"You've seen what happened in Saffron. Someone is plotting against Kanto. I don't know who they are or what they want, but I'll find out." There was a silence as everyone took in what he was saying. "Sabrina, you know more about The Creature than I do, would you mind explaining?"
The woman nodded. "Several months ago, girls began disappearing from Cerulean Cape, a scenic point just north of here. Only a single girl escaped, claiming that a monster had tried to take her away." Sabrina sighed, her hand moving to her long hair. "Unfortunately, her psyche hasn't recovered from the shock; she's practically lost her mind, the poor girl."
"How many victims have there been?" Mina asked somberly, lifting her head off Forrest’s shoulder.
"Twenty-five since the attacks began, all girls between the ages of twelve and twenty," Sabrina told them, her grim eyes watching them closely.
Allie was horrified. To have so many girls vanish into nowhere... The idea was unthinkable. And to make it worse, both she and Mina were around the same age as the victims.
"I came to Cerulean City to investigate its use of psychic energy," Sabrina continued. "So far, I have been unable to determine what The Creature is. Ash was on his way to help find it when he met you, Allie."
So that was his mission all this time. As champion of Kanto, he had set out to discover what was going on in Cerulean and the rest of the region. It all made sense now to Allie.
"So what happens now?" she asked, looking at Ash.
"Misty, the Cerulean gym leader, left the city. First thing tomorrow morning, I want you and Mina to do the same. You two are in as much danger as she was, and we can't risk your lives. Take the Underground Road south to Vermillion City. From there, the two of you can travel to whichever town you want to collect badges, as long as you avoid Cerulean."
Leaving Ash to travel with Mina... Allie had mixed feelings. On one hand, she would be with a friend her own age, who spoke with her often. But Ash had finally begun to warm up to her; it was kind of depressing for their paths to diverge now.
"What about you guys?" Mina wondered aloud. The other trainers exchanged glances.
"We'll be staying to investigate the cape," Forrest answered her, averting his eyes from the girl gazing at him.
"You're leaving?" Mina asked incredulously, now glaring at Forrest. The usually stoic gym leader was looking down at the floor to avoid her piercing green eyes. There was a dead quiet in the room.
"I need to stay here, Mina, and it's too dangerous for you to be with me right now," he explained. "This is something I have to do, to protect you and everyone else."
The brunette stood up, putting her hands on her hips. Allie had seen her take a similar pose before when teasing Ash, but this time it was completely serious.
"For me, sure," Mina snorted. "You have a Pokémon master and a legendary psychic who are already staying to search for it, and you still have no choice? I'm pretty sure that they'll be able to handle it without you. You should come with us."
Allie didn't hear the next words Forrest muttered under his breath, but everyone saw Mina's reaction. The girl pounded her fists against his chest in fury. Small, shimmering tears began flowing from her eyes.
"Duty?" Mina screamed at him. "You spend your days leering at every girl you see, finally find someone who likes you back, and you want to lecture me on duty. You're a joke Forrest, a joke. Duty before love, huh Forrest? Keep down that road and you'll go the same way as the glorious champion sitting behind me. No friends, just his precious title which he doesn't even tell those who have a right to know!"
Ash didn't react at all to the comment or even Mina's tirade in general. It wasn't the first time he had heard such accusations.
"Mina, I don't want to leave you," Forrest insisted, standing up and placing his hands on her shoulders. She turned her head, refusing to look at him. "You need to leave this place for your own safety, and I need to stay to help Ash and Sabrina to make this city safe for you and others. I'm not abandoning you."
The girl finally looked up at him, directly in the eyes. Allie almost thought they would reconcile before parting, as Mina stroked Forrest's cheek tenderly. Her hopes were dashed, however, as the gym leader was slapped across the face. "Be safe," the brunette whispered, bursting into tears and running into her room. The door slammed behind her.
An awkward silence permeated the air in the room. Forrest stood there for several minutes, finally turning around and walking silently back to his bedroom.
After the door closed, Sabrina stood up. "I should take my leave now," she said casually.
"You don't have to go just because of that," Ash told her.
The gym leader shook her head. "I need to monitor the psychic plane for irregularities. I'll be in my room if you need me. Good night."
The two remaining trainers waved to her as she left the suite. It was just Allie and Ash now, silently gazing at each other.
"So I guess this is it," Allie whispered, breaking the silence.
"Allie..." Ash said. "I'm sorry I got you into all of this."
"No, Ash, it's not your fault. You protected and taught me; that's what you were here for. Thank you, Ash. Thanks for caring."
They stood there in silence again. "Let's not say goodbye until tomorrow," Ash said.
Allow nodded, trying to hold back tears. She hadn't always liked how Ash acted around people, or the secrets that he kept, but in the few weeks they had known each other, she had grown so close to the older boy; it was like leaving an older brother.
"I'm going to bed,” she told him. “It's going to be another long day tomorrow, and I need to make sure Mina's alright."
Blue and brown eyes locked. "Goodnight, Allie."
The champion watched her as she left the room. Allie Dogwood... It seemed as though they had been traveling together for years, even though it had only been several days. In that time, Ash had grown closer to the girl than he had to anyone for years. She was the first friend he made since becoming champion.
As Allie entered the girls' room, she saw Mina lying face down in her bed, sobbing.
"I acted like an idiot," she cried into a pillow. Although she wasn't facing Allie, the blonde trainer knew that Mina was talking to her. "Of course it's not his fault, I feel awful for saying all that."
"You just didn't want to leave him," Allie reassured her. "You care about him and don't want him to be in danger." She thought of Ash, and realized she felt the same way, though knew better than to try to change his decision.
Mina nodded her head, still not looking up. "I hope he forgives me."
Allie changed and climbed into bed, quickly falling asleep properly for the first time since Pewter. Tomorrow, the next part of her adventure would begin.
A strong hand was gently caressing her soft blonde hair when Allie woke up. The room was dark; the lights were off and no sun rays came through the window shades. It must have been the middle of the night.
As she realized that someone was sitting on her bed, stroking her hair, her tired mind slowly began thinking about what was going on. The bed was sagging where the person was sitting, and Allie had rolled to where the bed was lower and curled up against the stranger's body.
Realizing she was awake and confused, the person spoke before Allie reacted. "It's just me, Allie. Don't worry."
Ash's voice? What was he doing there? And why was he stroking her hair? It felt good, but still, it wasn't like him.
"What are you doing here, Ash?"
He put a finger on her lips, hushing her. "Come with me. I need to talk to you about something."
"Can't it wait till morning?" Allie asked, rubbing her eyes sleepily.
"No," Ash answered briefly as he helped her out of bed. "This is something I need tell you now. Grab your jacket."
"What about the rest of the group?"
The older trainer glanced at the sleeping form of Mina in the other bed. "They'll be fine; we'll be back before they even wake up. Come on, we need to go."
Allie pulled her purple jacket on over her fleece pajamas, unsure of what to make of what was going on. Ash waited patiently as she slipped into her sneakers and walked over to where he stood by the door.
"Let's go," he told her, leading the girl out of the room and down several flights of stairs to the rotating door at the exit of the Pokémon Center. She stopped cautiously as he reached for the door, feeling as though something was wrong.
“Ash, you said not to go outside under any circumstances,” Allie pointed out, taking a step backwards.
He shook his head, grinning at her. “Come on Allie, do you really think that I would drag you outside if there was any danger? The Creature has only ever been seen from at dusk; it’s midnight now. Anyway,” he chuckled, his purple eyes twinkling, “You’ve got me to protect you.”
Ash may have been acting strangely, but Allie trusted him. The older trainer offered her his hand. The girl grabbed it, and he led her out into the night.
Ash was awakened in the middle of the night by an urgent knocking on the bedroom door leading to the common room. Groggily standing up, he walked over to door.
As he opened it, the pale, terrified face of Mina stared at him.
"She's gone, Ash. She's not in her bed or any of the rooms. Allie's gone."
Re: The Journey Never Ends
The Journey Never Ends
Chapter 13: The Creature of the Cape
"It's beautiful, Ash," Allie whispered, staring up into the endless night sky. From the grassy cape, she could see thousands of stars stretching on for eternity, unhidden by the lights of man.
"I wanted you to see this," Ash smiled, looking down at the girl curled against him. "It's one of my favorite places in the world."
The trainers sat there for what felt like hours. Allie stretched her body, allowing her head rest on Ash's lap. He began stroking her long blonde hair, sending shivers down her spine.
It was completely surreal. Everything seemed perfect.
But it wasn't. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
After nearly falling asleep on Ash's lap, she had opened her eyes to look up at him. As Allie began to grasp the sight of what was above her, she was overcome with a more intense fear than she had ever felt. The kind face of her mentor was gone, replaced by a hideous shape, glaring down at her.
The young girl jumped to her feet, spinning around to stare at the metallic body. Even though Ash had never described it, Allie knew immediately what it was. The Creature of the Cape had lured her to its hunting grounds. Terrified, Allie backed away from it slowly.
"What's wrong, Allie?" it spoke with Ash's voice. "Come with me. I'm your friend."
But Allie ignored his words, and was now running along the steep cliff, followed closely by The Creature. It was floating swiftly towards her, rapidly gaining ground. All she could do now was run and hope for the best.
Her Pokémon were still back at the Pokémon Center, along with the only people who could help her. She had been fooled and manipulated by the evil powers of The Creature. Allie's self-doubts came floating back into her mind; she was useless, gullible, and weak. Remembering that this wasn't the time for a self-evaluation, she shook these thoughts from her mind.
Allie struggled for breath as she ran as fast as she could. Her hair was soaked with cold sweat. Fear, doubt, and exhaustion filled her. The Creature had vanished from sight, but Allie knew it was still out there somewhere, waiting for her to make a mistake.
As she reached the edge forest, a dark shape suddenly stepped out from behind a tree. Before Allie could scream, it grabbed her.
"Allie, calm down! I'm here." It was Ash's voice again. Fear surged through Allie. Refusing to fall for The Creature's trick again, the girl struggled against her attacker.
"Get away from me! You're not real, Creature!" she screamed, writhing aggressively in his arms.
"Creature?" he grunted, trying not to let her run off. "What the hell are you-" Ash's voice was cut off suddenly as the girl punched him in the face with as much force as she could muster. Finally breaking free of his grasp, Allie pushed past Ash, leaving him confused, dizzy, and bleeding from the lip.
"Wait, Allie! Stop, I'm Ash!" he shouted into the darkness, holding his sleeve to his lip. "What's gotten into her?"
"Chu," sighed Pikachu, poking his head out of a tall patch of grass that had hidden him from Allie's sight.
"Come on, buddy. We need to catch up with her before something else does."
But the girl was long gone into the darkness. The brush was getting thicker now; thorns and bristles tore into Allie's legs through the flannel pajamas. She stumbled into several dead ends, forcing her to backtrack through the woods. The Creature must nearly be upon her by now.
As she dodged left around a large pine tree, she tripped over a huge root, falling face first to the ground. Cowering in fear, her only thought was of The Creature finding her there, immobilized by fear.
"Allie?" a feminine voice asked from above her.
Raising her head meekly, Allie nearly laughed with relief at the person she saw. A small flashlight hung around a girl's neck, illuminating her familiar face.
"Mina, what are you doing here?" she asked, climbing to her feet. "It's really dangerous."
The brunette grinned at her. "I know, but I couldn't just let everyone else have all the excitement. I'm here to help you. We need to get out of here now, though."
"W-wait," Allie murmured suspiciously, reaching to Mina's flashlight and bringing it closer to the brunette's face. Bright green eyes stared back at her, with one eyebrow lifted in confusion.
Content that Mina was who she claimed to be, Allie nodded, her courage returning. "Let's go."
The two girls set out through the dark forest. The area was deadly silent. Not a single Pokémon stirred. An ominous wind blew through the air, making the girls shiver. Determined to escape, they continued running.
A bright purple flash blinded the girls as they entered a clearing. As they regained their vision, Allie and Mina recoiled in horror and fear at the monster standing before them.
Its body was humanoid, though strangely misshapen. The Creature had two arms and two legs, although they were thinner and longer than any human's. A long tail emerged from its back, snaking back and forth menacingly. A metallic armor covered its entire body.
Both girls were paralyzed as they watched the floating figure raise an arm towards them. Allie couldn't tell whether it was from fear or The Creature's power that she was unable to move her legs and escape. This was far worse than the Mightyena; there was no telling what could happen now. As The Creature's gauntlet twisted and contorted, Allie felt an overwhelming force upon her shoulders. She fell to her knees, too weak to stand. Although she was unable to look away from The Creature, a groan from next to her indicated that the same thing had happened to Mina.
The Creature slowly lowered itself out of midair and to the ground. Allie watched with horror as it began to walk towards them. Allie tried to move, but the effort was both painful and exhausting. She grimaced. This was it.
A small rustling towards the back of the clearing caught Allie's eye. The Creature approached Mina slowly, reaching towards her chin.
"Mina! Allie!" a voice shouted from behind The Creature.
Calmly turning around, it stared at the young man standing in the center of the grove. There, the Pewter City gym leader stood with a large stick in his left hand and a Pokéball in his right.
"Leave them alone, you monster!" Forrest yelled, charging at The Creature.
It extended its arm yet again. This time, the hand seemed to grasp something invisible. Forrest immediately collapsed to his knees, reaching for his throat in panic. The Creature seemed to be choking him from a distance using its psychic powers. The girls watched in horror as Forrest's oxygen-deprived face turned blue.
"Stop it!" Mina managed to scream from her spot on the ground. The Creature spun around to face her. It jerked its head to the left. Forrest was lifted off his feet and hurled at a tree, where he collapsed, unable to open his eyes.
Mina was breathing very heavily now as The Creature extended one slender finger towards her chin. The girl whimpered in pain before letting out a piercing scream that shattered the silence of the night. Allie could hear a dull thud beside her, but was unable to turn her neck to check on her friend.
The Creature stepped sideways into Allie's line of sight, its hand inches away from her face. She closed her eyes, preparing for the worst.
But the finger never touched her. She opened her eyes cautiously. The Creature was staring over her head at something behind her.
"Dragon Rush!" she heard Ash's voice shout. At first, she didn't understand what was happening. Was it the real Ash or just another of The Creature's tricks?
Understanding came a moment later when a dark blue blur hurtled over her head and slammed into The Creature. The impact knocked The Creature back to the far edge of the grove. As the smoke cleared, Allie could see a massive blue dragon grappling with it.
"Garchomp, use hyperbeam," Ash called, stepping out from behind Allie. A blast of light surged from the mighty land shark's mouth, but it was quickly deflected by a purple energy field emanating from the monster's armor. The tree which it collided with was reduced to cinders instantaneously.
A cold hand touched Allie's forehead, instantly breaking the spell which had rendered her immobile. Her exhausted body collapsed to the ground. The girl looked up and saw Sabrina moving back towards where Mina had been. The psychic's eyes were glowing green, and her face was focused in supreme concentration.
"This is like nothing I've ever seen before. I don't think there's anything I can do," she said, her voice filled with despair.
Allie gasped, horrified, as she looked at Mina. The brunette's body, clothing and all, had begun disintegrating into miniscule specks of glowing dust, which were blowing away into the air. Her legs had already vanished, and the spell had begun spreading up her torso.
"Thanks Allie," she grinned weakly. "Thank you for everything...please tell Forrest... I love him."
"Mina, no," Allie mumbled, too stunned to say anything else. She tried to reach out and touch her friend, but Sabrina pulled her hand away with a warning glance. The affliction had spread to the rest of Mina's body now.
"Goodbye." Her face dissolved into nothingness and the girl was gone.
Tears welled in Allie's eyes. She had lost her family long ago, and now one of her best friends was gone. Wherever she went, whatever she did, sorrow followed her.
She felt a hand on her shoulder. It was warm and caring. The real Ash was kneeling beside her.
"I'm sorry Allie. I know you two were very close. You need to get out of here, though," he said kindly.
The girl shook her head. "I-I'm not leaving her. It's my fault she's gone," she cried into his shoulder.
"Only that monster is to be blamed. Don't worry," he reassured her. "We'll avenge her. I promise this won't have been in vain." The girl nodded with what little strength she had remaining. Her last sight before passing out was of The Creature staring across the grove at her, too busy fighting with the raging dragon to stop its prey's escape.
Ash lifted her limp body off the ground. A bruised and weakened Forrest hobbled over to where they stood, clutching his side.
"Glad to see you're alright. I need you to take Allie to Lavender Town," Ash instructed him. "You'll both be safer there."
"What happened to Mina?" Forrest asked suspiciously. "Where is she?"
Ash sighed, realizing that the gym leader had been unconscious as Mina vanished. A dark shadow passed across his face. Being no stranger to loss, Ash could sympathize with him, but there was no time now.
"Go. We can only hold The Creature off for so long. You two need to get out of here."
"What happened to her?" Forrest repeated slowly, dreading the answer. His eyes were even more narrow than usual as he glared at Ash.
"I'm sorry. She's gone. There's nothing anyone could do," the champion replied somberly. "But Allie can still be saved. Please take her."
Ash didn't know exactly how Forrest would react. He was relieved, however, as Forrest's grim face became filled with resolve. Just like the strong stone types he fought with, the Pewter City gym leader always stood firm, even in times of tragedy.
"Alright, give her to me," Forrest said. Ash handed the unconscious girl to the strong teenager, tenderly moving a piece of hair out of her closed eyes.
"We'll remember Mina when this is over," Ash promised him.
Forrest nodded somberly, turning around with the girl hanging in his arms. He walked into the forest surrounding them, and the two were gone.
The elite trainer, meanwhile, turned his attention back to the battle still raging. Fires blazed in several trees unlucky enough to be hit by stray hyperbeams. Across the clearing, Garchomp was mercilessly tearing at The Creature's armor with its teeth. Several dents and tears had been created during the fight.
"Enough," Ash shouted. "Restrain it."
"Gaaaar," the Pokémon roared, grabbing the plated waist of The Creature, holding it in place. It struggled, but was no match for the physical strength of the dragon type. The trainer and the psychic approached it cautiously. Up close, it was only slightly taller than Ash.
"Just as I thought," Sabrina muttered. "Its psychic power has been diminished now that the armor has been damaged."
"So what does that mean? The armor is the source of its power?" asked Ash.
"No, but it certainly amplifies it," she responded. "Be careful not to get too close to it, it does still have incredible abilities."
"Then why isn't it attacking us?" Ash wondered, staring at the silver mask obscuring its face.
"I don't know. It could be that it isn't used to being challenged. Before now, it would only abduct girls while they were alone at the cape at dusk. It's been acting strangely the entire night." Sabrina took a step closer to it, studying it carefully.
Ash stood by as she walked around The Creature, studying the composition of its armor. It stood motionless, but Ash got the sense that it was paying more attention than it seemed. Garchomp shifted its weight uneasily.
Sabrina returned to standing in front of The Creature. It extended its arm towards her, causing Ash to take a step forward. To his surprise, the woman responded by lifting her own arm and touching a crack in its steel gauntlet. The rest watched as both fell into a trance. They stood there, completely silent and oblivious. But in another plane of existence, Ash knew they were communicating. He hoped that Sabrina knew what she was doing.
The gym leader and The Creature stood there for several minutes exchanging psychic energies.
There was a sudden crash as one of the burning trees snapped in half. Ash ran forward with Pikachu, but they were too late to stop the top half of the tall pine tree from crashing down where Garchomp, The Creature, and Sabrina were standing. As he stared on in disbelief, flames consumed the majority of the clearing.
At last, two figures emerged from the inferno. Garchomp was walking forward carefully, carrying an injured Sabrina through the flames. The thick dragon-type skin had protected them from the blazing flames.
Ash and Pikachu ran forward to help them out of the rest of the burning flames. Sabrina was badly burned, but had escaped any more serious injuries. Out of the corner of his eye, Ash thought he saw a dark silhouette rise out of the fire and fly into the sky.
"We need to get her back to the city," he ordered Garchomp.
"Pikaaa," Pikachu wondered, gesturing into the flames.
"It's already gone. We need to take care of-"
But he was cut off as Sabrina began screaming and writhing in Garchomp's arms. One of her boots connected with its chest and pushed her backwards to the ground.
Ash returned Garchomp to its Pokéball, then bent down and tried to calm her, but she nearly hit him in the face. She was having some kind of a seizure, and just getting close to her was dangerous. But the fires were growing closer and closer to where they were, and Ash had no way to move her. Suddenly, she let out a wail that deafened the trainer.
"Pika Pi?" asked the electric rodent as sparks began flying from his cheeks.
"No. Shocking her might stop the spasms, but we can't risk hurting her."
"Pi," Pikachu agreed gloomily.
"Ash," Sabrina choked. "Ash Ketchum."
Pikachu and Ash glanced at each other and then back at the girl on the ground. Her face was twisted in pain, and there were tears flowing from her eyes.
"Ash Ketchum!" she screamed.
"I'm here, Sabrina. Speak to me," he told her.
"No… not Sabrina… Two…"
"What are you talking about?" Ash asked. A thought occurred to him. Two… Two minds, one body. "Are you… are you The Creature?" he muttered.
Sabrina's hand reached to her own throat, clawing at it viciously. Her long nails drew blood, and she began gasping for air.
"Bulbasaur," Ash called, releasing the green Pokémon. "Use vine whip."
The grass type gave him a quizzical look as he recognized the target, but obeyed anyway. Four strong vines reached out and grasped each of the psychic's limbs, lifting her into the air. Sabrina continued to struggle against the vines, but was restrained from further hurting herself.
"Now tell me. Are you the Creature of the Cape?" Ash demanded.
"Ash Ketchum," it said through Sabrina's mouth, struggling as if it was fighting itself to speak. "I am no Creature. That which man does through me is his crime, not mine."
"Who are you, then?"
"You have been told, hero. The answer lies in memories forgotten." Sabrina threw her head back and screamed maniacally. Her eyes began glowing and she let out one final scream before her head fell onto her chest.
As they flew back to Cerulean City on Pidgeot, Ash reflected on the terrible events of the night. Allie had been manipulated somehow. There was no other explanation for her behavior. And because of it, Mina was now either dead or in the hands of mysterious evils. Despite Sabrina's trance, they were no closer to knowing any of the answers.
What is The Creature? he wondered. "And what does it want with us?"
Re: The Journey Never Ends
The Journey Never Ends
Chapter 14: Turn of the Journey
“Damn it, Ash. She’s gone because of that thing, and you let it escape.” The sound of a youthful and angry voice penetrated the wall separating the bedroom and the common room in a Lavender Town Pokémon Center suite.
“There was nothing else I could do. Sabrina was hurt and unstable. I was in Cerulean to stop The Creature, but the circumstances changed. This was a rescue mission.”
“And a great job you did at that. Two of them are severely injured, and the other is…” the voice began choking up.
“I told her to stay in her room. She acted against my orders and took the risk to help a friend. We all did.” He paused. “Forrest, I know how much she meant to you, and I know what you’re going through. It’s not your fault. No one is to blame except the people behind the attacks.”
After a brief silence, the first voice spoke again, this time much calmer. “I couldn’t do anything Ash. It almost killed me too. I couldn’t protect her.”
The world faded back into darkness. It was not yet time to wake up.
She was running from The Creature. After Ash and the others had almost managed to save her, it killed them. They were disintegrated just like Mina. And now she was on her own, running again.
Every time she turned a corner, the cold mask stared blankly at her. It didn’t matter how much she ran, The Creature was always one step ahead of her.
Hope was gone. It was only a matter of time before it stopped toying with her. As she tripped, it appeared over her.
“You belong to him…” The Creature hissed, looking down at her. “You will be his…” She looked down at her chest, and saw it nearly gone. The sensation made her sick to a stomach that she didn’t have anymore.
“Allie, everything will be at ease. Join us.”
“NOOOOO!” she cried, rolling out of bed. It couldn’t be real. Not this time. She landed on her hands and knees on the floor, sweating and panting like the dream had actually just happened. The horribly realistic nightmare had affected her, or perhaps it was the actual event.
“Allie, what’s wrong?” Forrest shouted as he burst through the door. “Is everything alright?”
He glanced down just in time to watch her throwing up violently on the floor. As she sat up, she saw Forrest’s sympathetic expression.
“I-I’m okay. We’re safe, right?”
“Completely,” he responded. “Are you feeling okay?”
The girl glanced down at the mess in front of her, becoming slightly nauseas again at the sight. “I’ll live. I feel a bit better now. That nightmare was just really intense.”
Forrest helped her to her feet. “If you’re up for it, it would probably feel good to take a shower and get cleaned up. It’s the first door on your left when you leave this room. There are some extra clothes in there you can wear. I’ll see if I can get housekeeping to wash the carpet.”
“Thank you.” She ran a hand through her long blonde hair, hanging loose of its usual ponytail. It was oily and clotted, far messier than it had been that night at the Cerulean Cape, with more than a few days’ worth of grime in it. “Hey Forrest?” she asked as he was turning to leave. “How long was I asleep for?”
“Three weeks, Allie.”
“Oh. Thanks,” she said.
The gym leader strode out into the great room and turned on the television. The ten o’clock news was on, apparently about how the Pokémon League had declared both the Cerulean City and the cape to be forbidden to all travellers. Selena Skystar, the young woman who had done the report on the Silph building, was discussing the mysterious attacks on national television. Normally, Forrest would be concentrating more on her beautiful body than the information presented, but his mind was too focused on something more important than either of them.
The same thoughts had haunted him ever since he had arrived in Lavender Town with the girl in his arms. He discussed it with Ash when the champion paid them a visit a few days ago, but even wisdom Forrest knew was true didn’t lessen the pain. Putting his face in his hands, he waited for the inevitable discussion.
Half an hour later, Allie emerged from the bathroom in a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. Her hair was wrapped in a towel and steam emanated from the bathroom behind her.
“Better?” he asked without looking up.
“Much,” she thanked him. The girl sat down on the opposite couch and put an Azurill pillow on her lap. “So where are we now?” asked Allie, crossing her legs under her.
Forrest sighed, knowing that it was time to confront the past. “I brought you to Lavender Town after you passed out. How much do you remember about what happened that night?” He saw a dark expression flit across her face. “Sorry. I guess you don’t really want to talk about it.”
Allie looked down at the floor as the terrible thoughts filled her mind once again. “No, it happened. I never want to think of it again, but that’s just not realistic in this world. Where is everyone?”
“Ash is somewhere doing something important. I don’t know any details, but he seemed pretty stressed when he came to visit you.”
“He was here?” she asked, mildly surprised. With all the things happening in Saffron and Cerulean, she didn’t really expect him to be able to stop by.
“Yeah,” Forrest replied. “Just a couple of nights ago. We talked briefly, but apart from that, he didn’t leave your bedside the whole night.”
Ash had been there for her, just like always. She imagined the young man standing over her body, concerned for her safety. For someone so reserved and cold to strangers, he was truly a compassionate person to his friends.
“Anyway,” the gym leader continued. “He says he’ll be back as soon as he can be. Apparently there are some matters of state delaying his return.”
“Alright. What about the others?” Allie asked, concerned about what may have happened after she fainted.
“Sabrina tried communicating with The Creature. According to Ash, it began to work, but she’s been in a trance ever since. And Mina...”
As the room went silent, the trainers heard Selena Skystar’s voice telling viewers that the Silph Board of Directors had met and formulated a plan to rebuild their company through a plan they were referring to as the Restoration. Neither trainer was listening, though, preoccupied with their own thoughts.
“This is my fault,” she grimaced. The eyes of the stuffed Azurill bulged as she squeezed it involuntarily. “I couldn’t resist the power of The Creature. If I had stayed in my room, she would have been perfectly safe.”
“I was powerless,” he mumbled. “It was my duty to be strong enough. The only reason I’m even here right now is that I offered to help her through Mount Moon. She didn’t even want me to come, but I followed her. What does it matter that I can hand out some meaningless badge to other trainers if I can’t protect those closest to me? I was there to be her guardian. I was there to protect her. I failed.” He looked away at last, filled with shame.
“Forrest… the last thing she said was to you.” Forrest didn’t move, so she continued. “She said she loves you.”
As the strong rock-type gym leader of Pewter City, Forrest was often called stoic and resolute by trainers and citizens. And on the outside, this appeared true. But Allie knew her words affected him on an emotional level because of the relationship he and Mina had shared.
“I’m sorry Allie. You were the one to experience that horror the worst. It’s unfair of me to be telling you how bad it was.”
“It was bad for everyone,” she reminded him. “But blaming ourselves won’t help anything. So what are we going to do now?”
“We wait,” a voice said from the corner of the room. Forrest and Allie spun around and stared at the figure standing behind them. Unnoticed by either of the two, a young man had entered the room. Allie’s grim face broke into the first smile since that dark night.
“Ash!” she exclaimed, running across the room to greet him. The girl threw her arms around him and leaned her head against his chest. The champion put one arm around her and another on her head affectionately. Pikachu hopped of his shoulder and hugged Allie’s leg.
“Thank Arceus,” he whispered to her. “How are you?”
“Better. My dreams were awful and I can’t get the memories out of my head, but I don’t feel quite as bad.”
“Good, good. You’re safe. When we realized you were gone… you have no idea how scared we were.”
Allie laughed weakly. “Well, thanks to you guys, I’m still here. It’s good to know you would have missed me so much though. You do care about people after all.”
Ash rolled his eyes and separated from the girl. Sitting down on one of the couches, he stretched out his legs on a coffee table. “We wait,” he continued as if the emotional moment hadn’t interrupted his train of thought. “Even though you’re feeling better, I don’t want to push you too hard. You had a rough couple of days, and even if you are recovered, there’s no reason to take any chances. When you feel back to normal, we’ll depart for Celadon City.”
“Wait, do you mean that you’re coming with me?” Allie asked excitedly.
Ash nodded. “Along with the Elite Four, I spent much of the past few weeks looking for The Creature, but it seems to have vanished completely. We’ve barred all travel to and through Cerulean as a precaution, but there’s nothing else we can do until more clues turn up,” he explained. “In the meantime, the League’s agreed that I should continue traveling the region to investigate suspicious activity. I thought we needed to split up for your safety back in Cerulean, but without that reason and without a companion, all that would do is make your journey more dangerous.”
Although she was happy that she would be able to continue traveling with Ash, Allie knew that the real reason he was staying with her was because he wanted to make sure she was alright and Mina was unable to go with her. Losing Mina wasn’t a good price to pay to stay with Ash, but at least she would have someone with her after the tragedy at the cape.
“Alright, good. Thanks Ash.”
The older trainer turned his attention to the gym leader seated on the opposite couch. “Have you decided?” Ash asked him.
“Yeah,” Forrest said. “I’m going to return to Pewter City and resume my duties as gym leader.”
Allie turned her head back and forth from the two boys in confusion. “Wait, Forrest, why don’t you come with us?”
He shook his head in reply. “Like I said, I was here to protect Mina. Now that she’s gone, there’s really no reason for me to tag along with you guys. We’ve all got things we’re meant to do, and in my case, I need to do my duty as a gym leader.”
“So are you leaving now, or what?” she asked. Mina’s death had affected her as well, but it didn’t mean she was giving up.
“I’ll stay until you guys are ready to go,” Forrest said. “I’m not in a rush to leave; I just have other duties I need to attend to now that Mina’s no longer here.”
“Allie, when was the last time you had a meal?” Ash asked, changing the subject. “I bet you’re famished.”
Allie looked down at her slim body. She had always been a little on the thin side, but as she was in the shower, she had noticed that her body was severely undernourished. Three weeks without meals had taken a toll on her, and now she was little more than a skeleton with skin.
Before she could answer, her stomach growled its approval. The trainers and Pikachu all laughed at the timing.
“Come on then,” Ash chuckled. “There’s a restaurant on the first floor of the center. They serve breakfast all night there!”
Allie’s first meal in nearly a month was delicious. Pancakes and syrup, roast beef, three bacon cheeseburgers, and hot wings were satiated only a small part of her appetite. Ash had made the mistake of telling her that the bill was on him. It stunned him that she was able to eat so much. Where she put it all was the greatest mystery. It reminded Ash of his appetite many years ago.
Good spirits filled the air. Even Forrest cheered up enough to make a pregnancy joke about Allie’s eating habits. The next thing he knew, his ice cream sundae was in his hair. Retaliation ensued, and the three friends departed the restaurant much happier and stuffed than they had been for many weeks, covered in the leftovers of their food.
Ash had to hang back and apologize to a very irate Nurse Joy for their behavior. Allie saw him slip her several Pokédollars. The nurse winked and left to clean up their table.
After showering again to get the spaghetti sauce out of her hair, Allie returned to her room. Her mess from earlier had been cleaned up, but Allie wasn’t too keen on going back to sleep. The amusing dinner had temporarily distracted the trainer from her fears, but the memories began returning as soon as she was alone.
As she lay in her bed, she heard two voices coming from the great room. They both sounded familiar, but the only one she recognized immediately was Ash’s. Creeping to the door, she opened it just a crack so that she could see what was going on. The lights were off, but Allie could see Ash standing in front of the television, conversing with an older man. A blue XTransceiver was connected to the television, apparently streaming the video chat to the larger screen.
“Birch is coming to Kanto to study the appearance of Mightyena in Viridian Forrest. Hoenn Pokémon behavior is his specialty, so hopefully he’ll be able to figure out what’s going on with them. Also, I’ve been to Saffron, and Sabrina’s awake and well. She doesn’t remember what happened after the tree fell, but she’s alive and stable,” said the man on the television screen.
“Excellent. Thanks Professor. ”
“How’s the girl doing since you returned?”
“She’s awake. There have been no signs of post-traumatic stress, which is somewhat surprising given the circumstances. Overall, Allie seems to be recovering quite well,” Ash replied.
“I should say so, Ash. She’s peeking in through the door behind you.”
Before Allie could retreat to her bed, Ash opened the door and grabbed her by the neck of her t-shirt. “I wasn’t spying Ash, I promise,” she insisted as Ash led her to the television screen. “I couldn’t get to sleep, then I heard you guys, and…”
She stopped pleading as she recognized the man on the television. “Professor Oak?” she said, incredulously.
“Allie, it’s so good to see you. Ash and I were just talking about some of the things going on right now. How’s your journey going so far?” he asked kindly.
“Pretty good. I earned the Boulder Badge from Forrest and caught a Vulpix, but then some crazy stuff started happening.”
“Ash has told me all about it. I’m sorry you’ve been in so much danger,” Oak apologized.
“No, this experience has been really good for me. Ash has always been there to protect me, so I know I’m safe. Thanks for making him go with me. I think he’s really enjoying being around me.”
The older trainer gave her a playful shove and they both grinned.
“Good to see you two are getting along so well. I hoped as much. Anyway, keep up the good work and-” Oak was cut off as purple goo covered the screen. “Really Muk? Again? You realize that you’re not actually hugging Ash, just my computer, right?”
Allie raised an eyebrow, but Ash just chuckled and pretended to hug the sludge Pokémon back. “I’ll see you guys soon. Don’t worry.”
“Muuuk!” it cheered happily.
Oak finally managed to push Muk out of the camera frame, but the screen was still covered in a transparent layer of sludge. “Well, I’ve got some things to take care of with the Pokémon, but again, I wish you guys the best of luck and stay safe.”
“Thanks Professor,” both the trainers said in unison. The television screen changed to show a “call ended” message and Oak was gone.
“Well, goodnight Allie,” Ash said. As he began moving to disconnect the XTransceiver, she grabbed his hand.
“Actually Ash, I was wondering something,” she stuttered, blushing. “Could you stay in my room tonight?” she blurted out, mildly embarrassed to ask the question. “I’d feel a little safer if you were there.”
Ash nodded and they left for his room. As Allie climbed into bed, Ash took a seat in the corner of the room. It was strange. Back when they had been in Viridian City, she had been embarrassed to share the same room with him. Now she had invited him to watch over her while she slept.
“Good night Ash.”
Seven days passed by. Allie spent her time taking walks and window shopping around Lavender Town as she began feeling better. Forrest and Ash spent most of the time without her, but Ash was often busy dealing with the Pokémon League through phone calls and Forrest sometimes went off on his own to think about Mina. At those times, she was accompanied by Squirtle and Ruby during her adventures in town. Her Pokémon had been relieved to see her the morning after she woke up, and stayed by her side since then.
It was enjoyable, but Allie was eager to return to her journey. Now that The Creature of the Cape had disappeared, Ash was much more relaxed about the fact that he was traveling with her. In addition to wanting to protect her more now, he also had less responsibility to worry about.
And now at last, it was time to set out. After having Allie meticulously inspected by the doctors at the Pokémon Center, Ash agreed that it was time for them to journey on.
It was a windy morning, and Allie was glad to be back in her purple jacket. Forrest had carefully sown the tears in it that had occurred while she was running from The Creature. Citing his brother’s sewing ability for the source of his own abilities, Forrest had managed to look brand new.
“I want to thank you Allie,” Forrest told her as the three trainers walked to the western edge of town. “You made sure to relay Mina’s message to me. That stopped me from making any rash decisions.”
“You’re welcome. It was really important to her. I think… I think that she was trying to say that even though she was dying, it was worth it to get to know you.”
Forrest’s eyes were wet with restrained tears. “Thanks Allie. Good luck to you two. This is where our paths split.”
“Are you sure you have to go?” Ash asked.
“It’s my duty to be a gym leader. It’s yours to save the world.” Ash scowled, but acknowledged the truth to Forrest’s words. “Avenge Mina for me. Good bye.”
They waved to Forrest, who released a Crobat and climbed on. “Take care of each other,” were his last words before he vanished into the dawn sky.
“Well then,” Ash grinned. “We’ve got another couple of long days ahead of us. Let’s go.”
Walking beside Ash on the road, Allie knew that she was where she belonged.