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  1. #16
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Thanks for the review, Lil Brother! It's always nice to get some feedback from new readers. Here's Chapter Thirteen for you all!

    Chapter Thirteen: Understanding


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    She was in pain. So much pain. It seemed like it was her whole world. It was all she could remember. Her vision was dark, almost non-existent. Occasionally a misty, indistinct figure would appear and then back away. She bared her teeth at the blurry grey apparitions, trying to fend off any more onslaughts. A fresh lance of pain skewered down her back and she trembled, crying out. It was all she knew.

    Her head hurt abominably. There was a horrible, biting sensation, and she could feel herself being absorbed. She knew, instinctively, that the pain had begun there. Now, it coursed throughout her entire body, leaving her trembling on the ground, exhausted, in agony. She could hear noise; it sounded strange, and yet familiar. It had a steady rhythm to it. She felt exceedingly weak, but she managed to turn her head towards the source.

    It was another of those apparitions that occasionally lunged for her. This one seemed different though. There were two auburn orbs in this apparition that radiated calm and protection. She felt slightly safer looking at them, and the pain was a little less too. She focused her eyes on those orbs, not willing to turn away. Another lance shot through her and she trembled, but she kept her gaze on the calming influence of the apparition.

    So much pain... so much...

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    Latias opened her eyes. Her vision was hazy, but the agony she had been in for so long was finally beginning to fade. She trembled as she tried to stand up, but she was too weak. She collapsed heavily, moaning softly. She felt sure that her world was ending. All she knew was pain. Surely if the pain died, she would too.

    But no; she could remember beyond the pain now. She remembered the delicious smell of breakfast as she came skipping down the stairs; she remembered the warm embrace of the person she had begun to consider as her trainer as he reunited with her; she remembered flying through the open skies with her brother, her heart filled with happiness.

    She turned her head slowly, looking back in the direction of the apparition that had comforted her so much. It was gone. In it's place was the trainer, hunched over in sleep, although his arms still encircled her neck protectively... comfortingly.

    A spasm wracked her and she gave a low, flutelike call of pain. She heard footsteps coming from behind her and she turned her head. Although her vision was still blurry and unfocused and the light dark, she recognized the female as being one of her tormentors by her shape. As she drew closer and became more distinct though, Latias began to recognize her. Her hair swung softly from side-to-side as she approached slowly, a bowl of water in her hand. Latias could sense her nervousness and knew that it was because she had tried to attack her the night before. She knew that this girl was a friend though; she remembered being held back by her when she almost fell over the edge of the Colosseum's railing.

    The girl was very near her when another painful spasm wracked her body. The girl backed off swiftly, fear in her eyes. Latias almost cried in desperation; she was devastatingly thirsty. She tried to rise again, but collapsed once more. Her vision began to flicker, and she knew that she was about to pass out from dehydration.

    Then suddenly the girl was next to her. Latias could still sense fear, but was glad that she was doing her best to keep it contained. She felt the trainer's grip on her neck broken gently, and then the soft touch of the girl as she manoeuvred her head and neck towards the bowl of water. Latias drank the water as quickly as she dared, feeling her irritated throat begin to be soothed by the liquid. When the water was all gone, Latias gave the girl a little flute-like call of thanks and then lay her head in the girl's lap. She felt the girl tense when a spasm shook her frame, but at last she seemed to release that it was an involuntary movement, and that Latias had absolutely no desire to attack her. The girl began to speak, although in Latias's exhausted state she barely understood what was being said. The tone was soothing and relaxing though, and Latias felt her eyes closing in sleep.

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    Ash awoke, feeling very stiff. He yawned slightly as he turned his head towards the window and saw sunlight beginning to filter in. He looked down towards Latias, and was surprised to see that her eyes were no longer fixed on him. Instead they were closed in slumber, her head on someone else's lap. He turned and was surprised to see May sitting next to him, her eyes shut tightly in a deep sleep. Her head was resting lightly on his shoulder and her bangs covered her eyes; oblivious to what had transpired before sunrise, he wondered briefly why Latias and May were sleeping in those positions.

    He watched May sleeping for a few more moments. He was feeling ravenous, but he didn't want to accidentally wake May up by taking away her pillow. Her mouth moved slightly and she gave a little sigh in her sleep. To Ash's immense surprise and slight discomfort, she snuggled into his shoulder a little more securely; her arms shifted slightly until they encircled his neck. Still asleep, May gave another small sigh of comfort and turned her head so that her cheek was pressed against his shoulder more comfortably.

    Ash felt his cheeks redden uncontrollably, and a curiously warm sensation began to glow in his heart. He heard a noise and jerked his head towards the window, sincerely hoping that neither Max or Norman were looking in. To his immense relief, the only one at the window was a sleeping Pikachu. He turned his attention towards the table and saw Professor Oak sprawled across two chairs, his head lolling as he snored.

    He turned his attention back to May. Hesitantly, he gently put his arm around May's shoulder, holding her to him more securely. She gave another little sigh and Ash felt the feeling flare up inside of him again. His eyes widened as he suddenly recognized what the feeling was. He tried to fight it for a moment, hoping that he was wrong, but to no avail. He sighed and leaned his head over until it rested gently on May's.

    A sudden, silent tap on the shoulder startled Ash. He swivelled his head around so fast that he cricked his neck. He began to rub away the sudden pain and saw Brock cringing slightly at the unexpected response. Ash patted the ground on his other side and Brock sat down quietly.

    "You're looking pretty comfortable, Ash," he whispered. Ash just let out a quiet groan.

    "I fell asleep last night with Latias in my lap," he said. "I wake up and Latias is in May's lap, with May leaning on my shoulder. Not exactly what I expected to see."

    "At least you didn't push her off," Brock said with a shrug. Ash just sighed and looked back at the window. They sat in silence for a while, watching the sunlight grow more intense. Far off in the distance they heard the Pallet Town Dodrio let out several long and quavering cries, indicating that it had just turned 7 o'clock.

    "I've actually been expecting this for quite a while," Brock said.

    "Expecting what?" Ash asked, confused. Brock waved towards May, still sleeping on Ash's shoulder, and Ash's arm wrapped around May.

    "How many times have you heard Professor Oak, Professor Birch, and Gary say that a Pokemon usually takes after it's trainer?" Brock asked.

    "More times than I can remember. Why?"

    "Have you ever noticed how... close, your Pokemon and May tend to be?" Brock asked. Ash shrugged.

    "Not really," he said. "I know that both of our Bulbasaur are pretty close, but most of the time it just reminds me of our friendship." Brock sighed. This was going to be more difficult than he expected.

    "You may not have known this Ash, but most of your Pokemon are male, and most of May's Pokemon are female."

    "So?" Ash asked, not really seeing where this was going. Brock sighed again, but resolved to struggle on until he made some kind of sense with Ash.

    "You can often tell how a trainer feels just by observing the Pokemon," he said. "Both of your Bulbasaur, both of your Squirtle, your Snorlax and May's Munchlax, as well as Pikachu and May's Eevee have indescribably close bonds. Bonds that go beyond friendship."

    Ash began to see where this was going and felt himself grow warm. Brock opened his mouth to speak again, but Ash forestalled him by holding up his hand.

    "I think you're right, Brock," he said at last. "May and I haven't really seen each other since I completed the Battle Frontier. We've managed to keep in contact through the videophones though. For a little while now, I've started to feel a little strange about her. When I look at her, I feel a tightening in my chest. Brock, I think that I like her as more than a friend."

    Brock was surprised. He hadn't expected Ash to cotton on so quickly. Then he smiled and leaned back slightly.

    "Like I said, I've been expecting it for a while," he said. "Not just on your end either." He watched Ash work this out, and grinned slightly at the look that emerged on Ash's face. Ash opened his mouth to speak, but a weak quaver from Latias attracted his complete attention.

    She had woken up, and was looking at Ash pleadingly with her red-rimmed eyes. Ash felt May stir on his shoulder and he quickly retracted his arm. She yawned and opened her eyes slowly. In one swift motion, she jerked her head off of his shoulder, whipped her arms away from his neck and scuttled backwards. Her face was beet-red as she looked at Ash and realized that he was awake.

    "Morning, May," Ash said cheerily, hoping his real emotions were hidden enough. "Good thing you woke up when you did, I think Latias is a little hungry and tired. I didn't want to accidentally wake you though. You must have been up really late to just fall asleep like that without even getting a proper pillow."

    May gaped at him for a moment, her tiredness preventing her from comprehending his meaning. Then she realized that he was covering for her to allow her to keep a little dignity at her surprise upon awakening.

    "Uh, yeah, I was up real late," she said slightly fast. Then she gave a little nervous laugh. "Guess I'll get Latias some water since she's so thirsty." She scuttled out of sight into the kitchen, her face still a little pink. Ash shook his head and grinned a little. Unbeknownst to him, a blue-haired girl peeking in at the window had seen it all. She gave a huge grin and thumbs-up to Brock; he smiled and returned the gesture. They had both been right.

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    Latias was cured. She was very tired and felt extremely weak, but everyone was rejoicing that she'd managed to fight off the Pokerus, although Ash was still at her side and making sure that she was comfortable.

    "So, Ash, you're coming back to Sinnoh with me, huh?" Dawn asked. Ash nodded from his position next to Latias on the floor. Seeing that she had fallen asleep, he stood up and walked over to the table for some breakfast.

    "Yeah, it's a while since I was last there and Professor Oak's told me that there are other Gyms in the region that I didn't know about before. How cool would that be to win one of every badge in a region?"

    "Sounds pretty cool to me," Dawn said. "Of course, I just want to see my Mom and Professor Rowan again."

    "What are your plans, Max?" Brock asked.

    "I'm going back to Johto," Max said. "I still have three badges to win before I can get into the Silver Conference. How about you, Brock?"

    "Well, I was kind of hoping to go back to Sinnoh with Ash and Dawn," Brock said. "There are still a lot of Sinnoh Pokemon I haven't seen, and there are some really good breeders there too who I haven't had a chance to visit yet."

    "What are you going to do, May?" Norman asked, slicing his sandwich steak. May looked down at the table for a moment before answering.

    "I'm going to Sinnoh too," she said quietly. Norman looked at her in surprise.

    "Why?" he asked. "I thought you would keep travelling in Frayen and try to catch some new Pokemon." May shrugged, unwilling to give the real reasons why she didn't want to go back to Frayen. How could she possibly explain that she didn't want to go back to Frayen because that's where Drew was going?

    "It should be fun!" Dawn said, breaking the silence. "I can't to see you try some Sinnoh contests, May. Maybe I should enter some too, give you a little competition." It broke the ice, and May laughed.

    "I look forward to it, Dawn," she said with a grin. "It's been a while since I had a really good opponent!"

    "Why have you gone red, Ash?" Misty asked curiously from across the table. Ash began to choke on his cereal, and Brock had to thump him on the back.

    "It's not my fault," Ash protested. "May's laugh made it happen." He went back to his cereal, supremely unaware that everyone's mouth's were wide open at this admission, and that May's face had gone so red that it rivalled her shirt in intensity. Norman raised an eyebrow and Dawn did her best to contain a giggle.

    "Hey, Max," Ash said, still not realizing what he'd said, "remember how I promised you a battle one day?" Max's glazed expression of shock at Ash's comment snapped off to be replaced by a look of extreme excitement.

    "You mean right now?" he asked. Ash grinned at him.

    "I'm ready if you are," he said.

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    Ash and Max faced each other on the front path. Brock stood halfway between the two, acting as referee. Everyone else stood behind Brock, watching the two trainers with interest.

    "I hope Max knows what he's up against," Delia whispered to Caroline quietly.

    "Oh, I'm sure he does," Caroline replied. "He watched Ash train his Pokemon for a year and a half. If anything, I'd say Ash needs to watch out for Max - he's never seen my boy battle before."

    "This will be a three-on-three match," Brock announced. "Substitutions can be made at any time on either side. There is no time limit. Challenged ready?"

    "Ready," Max nodded.

    "Challenger ready?"

    "You bet," Ash grinned.

    "Begin!"

    "Mareep, it's showtime!" Max shouted.

    "Cyndaquil, I choose you!" Ash called.

    In twin bursts of light, the electric-type and fire-type emerged. Mareep crackled with electricity as it stared down it's smaller opponent. Cyndaquil gave a little yawn and then charged up it's flame.

    "Mareep, lets start things off with a Tackle!" Max commanded.

    "Cyndaquil, use Smokescreen and follow up with Flame Wheel," Ash ordered.

    Cyndaquil opened it's mouth and sprayed out a large and thick cloud of smoke. The Mareep halted it's headlong charge, unable to see. It could hear a whirring noise from just beyond the smoke cloud. Without waiting for direction, it dashed forwards, hoping to intercept the Cyndaquil. Too late it saw the revolving flames, racing around the Smokescreen at high speed. Max let out a gasp of horror as the flames collided with his Mareep, sending it flying backwards, back arched in pain.

    "Mareep is unable to battle," Brock ruled. "Cyndaquil is the winner."

    "I'm sorry Mareep. Guess I let you down this time," Max said softly as he recalled his Pokemon.

    "Great job, Cyndaquil," Ash smiled. "Looks like our training over the last couple of weeks really worked out! Take a rest now."

    "That was some impressive strategy by Ash," Norman said to Caroline. "He used that Smokescreen to defend and attack at the same time." May overhead and couldn't help nodding her agreement.

    "Yeah," she said. "It almost looked like a contest move."

    "Battlers ready for round two?" Brock asked. Both Ash and Max nodded. "Begin!"

    "I'll choose first this time, Max," Ash grinned. "Muk, I choose you!"

    "Muuuuu," the poison-type burbled as it landed on the path with a spatter. Max gasped and stepped back at the terrifying sight, but on the sidelines Misty, Delia, Professor Oak, and Gary just grinned; they knew that while Muk looked intimidating, she was really the most gentle and affectionate Pokemon of Ash's at all.

    Max glared at the Muk and chose the first Pokemon that came to mind. "Grovyle, go!" he shouted.

    "Vyle," the grass-type yawned, crossing it's arms as it looked at the Muk with a bored expression. Ash was surprised - surely Max of all people knew that Grovyle was weak against Muk?

    "Grovyle, use Bullet Seed!" Max shouted. The Grovyle leaned forwards and fired intensely-green seeds at Muk.

    "Counter it with Sludge Bomb!" Ash commanded. With a huge roar, Muk shot out a spray of purple spheres. They collided head on with the Bullet Seed attack; most of them collided, exploding on contact, but some on each side found their targets. Muk stretched upwards, absorbing the Bullet Seed harmlessly. Max's Grovyle, overconfident in it's own abilities, decided to take the Sludge Bomb instead of dodging. To his immense shock, the attack did a lot of damage. The Grovyle collapsed to his knees, holding his stomach in pain.

    "Grovyle," Max gasped.

    "Muk, get close to Grovyle!" Ash shouted.

    "Grovyle, get out of there and use Quick Attack!" Max said, panicking now.

    As Muk drew closer, the Grovyle managed to get to his feet. He jumped backwards and then shot forwards in a blur of motion. Ash grinned; exactly what he wanted.

    "Take the attack, Muk!" he shouted. Muk stretched upwards, and the Grovyle ran directly into her protective layer of sludge. "Now use Body Slam!" Ash shouted. The Grovyle looked up in terror as Muk collapsed in on herself.

    "Grovyle, try and use Fury Cutter!" Max shouted. Sections of Muk's body seemed to pulse outwards in a sudden flurry of motion. Grimly, Muk held her ground, and in only a few moments, the struggles subsided.

    "Grovyle is unable to battle!" Brock said. "Muk is the winner!"

    "Great job, Muk," Ash smiled as the poison-type gave him a squelch hug. "Want to keep battling?"

    "Muk muuuuu," Muk nodded, turning back to face Max. Max bit his lip. He was down to his last Pokemon while Ash still had all three of his left. He knew he only had one choice to make.

    "Gardevoir, lets go!" he shouted.

    "Gaaar," the Gardevoir murmured as it appeared.

    "Use Confusion!" Max shouted.

    "Fight back with Gunk Shot!" Ash ordered. Muk began to glow blue and was lifted into the air, damage slowly accumulating the longer she was held up. Muk fought for partial control and spat out a stream of putrid juices. The Confusion was only focused on Muk, and Gardevoir was helpless from the retaliation. The fetid liquids splashed on her body and she screamed, inadvertently halting the Confusion as she tried to scrape the Gunk Shot off. Ash saw his opening.

    "Muk, use Sludge Bomb!" he commanded. The purple spheres shot forwards, aimed directly at an oblivious Gardevoir.

    "Protect!" Max defended. Gardevoir instinctively surrounded herself with a glowing green sphere. The Sludge Bomb reflected off of the Protect and barely missed hitting Max. "Now use Psychic and send Muk flying!"

    Muk glomped in surprise as she was lifted into the air. Gardevoir took extra care to spin Muk as she threw her backwards. Muk landed at Ash's feet, defeated.

    "Muk is unable to battle, Gardevoir is the winner!" Brock ruled.

    "Good job, Muk. You did a lot of damage," Ash said as he recalled his Muk with a smile. "Now Cyndaquil, I choose you!"

    "Cinda!" the fire-type squeaked as it appeared for the second time.

    "Use a Flamethrower, followed by Flame Wheel!" Ash shouted.

    A fiery blast of flames launched from Cyndaquil's mouth, expanding over the distance as it rapidly closed on Gardevoir.

    "Use Confusion to stop that Flamethrower!" Max shouted. The Gardevoir held out a glowing-blue arm; the Flamethrower streamed off in several different directions. Max laughed at what he saw as a certain victory. The laugh turned into a stutter of shock. Surrounded in circular flames, Cyndaquil was barrelling down the centre of the Flamethrower by using it's Flame Wheel. The attack smashed directly into the Gardevoir, sending her stumbling backwards.

    Both Pokemon glared at each other for a few moments, Gardevoir panting heavily. Then, with a shudder, she keeled over forwards.

    "Gardevoir is unable to battle! Cyndaquil and Ash are the winners!" Brock announced. Max collapsed on his knees, hugging his exhausted Pokemon before recalling her. He heard footsteps and looked up into Ash's kind eyes.

    "Great job, Max. You and your Pokemon really worked hard out there," he said.

    "I'll never be as good as you," Max said dejectedly.

    "Don't say that," Ash said, griping his shoulder and pulling him to his feet. "Do you think I would have had any chance against Cynthia the day I started out? All it takes is training. I have six more years experience and have competed in five more leagues than you. I know that the battle will be closer next time, just like how you keep getting closer to beating Misty every time you battle her."

    "But you'll always be more experienced than me," Max said, seemingly determined to have a bout of self-pity. Ash wouldn't let him.

    "The first time that I ever competed in a league, I finished in the top sixteen," he said. "You've already beaten me there by coming in the top ten in your first competition. You'll beat me yet."

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    With the match over, all of the spectators apart from May and Dawn had gone back into the house. May watched curiously from the sideways as Ash spoke to Max. She couldn't hear what Ash was saying, but Max was beginning to look a lot more happy now than he had at the end of the match.

    She began to feel a warm glow spread inside her heart.

  2. #17
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    Chapter 14: Gift

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    May watched from the grass as Ash and Max walked past her, chatting about their battle. Her gaze followed them into the house and she gave an inaudible sigh when the door closed. Her heart still had that warm feeling but she wasn't entirely sure what it was, or why she had. She felt a tap on her shoulder.

    "Hey, May," Dawn smiled. "Feel like having a chat?"

    "Why, is something wrong?" she asked.

    "Not on my end," Dawn said, "but you kind of look like you have something you want to talk about."

    May looked at her newest friend, surprised. She still didn't know Dawn very well, but it seemed that Dawn already knew her well enough to tell when she had something on her mind.

    "I guess that I could use a chat," she said. "I'd probably talk to Max or Ash normally, but I don't think Max would understand and Ash...". She stopped abruptly, her face flushing. Not looking at Dawn and not knowing what to do, she began walking around the side of the house into the backyard. With Dawn in step behind her, she headed over to the pond. She pulled aside some reeds and sat down at the water's edge, looking across the water to the tree where she and Ash had talked two nights prior.

    "So, why can't you talk to Ash?" Dawn asked innocently. May looked down at the water lapping against the bank. She felt suddenly tongue-tied, and could only shrug. She chanced a glance at the co-ordinator from Sinnoh and was surprised to see a huge grin on her face.

    "What?" May demanded.

    "Isn't it obvious?" Dawn asked.

    "No."

    Dawn sighed. "Everytime you look at him, you start to feel strange. Your heart begins to dance whenever he looks at you and smiles. When you see him laughing with another girl, you stomach starts to tie itself in knots. Whenever he does something kind for someone, you grow warm and can't help but think how he's always been there for you."

    May looked at her, absolutely thunderstruck. "How... how did you... Is it that obvious?"

    Dawn thought carefully for a moment before answering. "Not to everyone," she said evasively.

    "I just wish I knew why I start feeling like this," May sighed unhappily, looking back out over the water. Dully, she noticed her Squirtle and Ash's Corphish playing in the shallows on the other side. "I just wish I knew what these feelings are." Dawn looked at her completely surprised. Could it be that May had no idea what her feelings were?

    "You've got what I call 'the Brock Syndrome'," Dawn said. May almost looked aghast.

    "You don't mean that I... it can't be that... with Ash?" Dawn nodded silently. "But how did you guess?" May asked, almost desperately.

    "Brock noticed -" Dawn began, but May gave out a loud groan and cut her off.

    "And naturally, he told everyone what he thought," she muttered. Dawn looked at her, surprised.

    "You've got me all wrong," she said earnestly. "Brock didn't notice because of you. He noticed because of Ash. When he realized, he asked me to see if I thought..." She trailed off, suddenly realizing what she'd blurted out. May looked at her, mouth agape.

    "You mean that he..?"

    "Far as I know," Dawn said. She stood up hastily, brushing down her short skirt. "I think I'll go in for lunch," she said, running off to the house quickly.

    May watched her run into the house and then turned back to the pond. Her mind was swirling with Dawn's unexpected revelation. Corphish and Squirtle began racing around the pool. They passed by raucously, but May didn't even notice them. She kept replaying the conversation with Dawn in her mind, and all of her recent moments with Ash.

    She recalled his comment at breakfast that morning when Misty had asked him why he had turned red. "It's not my fault. May's laugh made me do it," he'd said. At the time she had blushed, but the comment had made her feel happy for a reason she hadn't been able to explain. Until now.

    She came back to Earth as Squirtle and Corphish did another lap, splashing her accidentally. She looked down at her wet shirt and sighed. At least this spot in the reeds was safe from view of the house. There was a short patch of grass to sit on, and the reeds kept the place hidden from almost every place in the garden. It was the reason that she'd liked it ever since she'd found it. It gave her a place to think without fear of being disturbed by her brother.

    She touched the wet spot on her shirt and gave a slight grimace of disgust at her memories from Johto. She was well aware that most men were attracted to a woman's chest. She was also aware that her chest was slightly bigger than average for girls her age, and that people had been attracted to her for that reason before. Thoughts raced around madly in her head.

    Does Ash only like me because of my chest?

    Of course he doesn't; I don't think he's ever even seen a girl as anything more than a friend before.

    If I'm his first crush, he may be interested because of them. It is what normally gets a guy's attention the first time he ever notices a girl.

    Ash isn't like Drew. He doesn't like you because of your chest; he likes you for something more.

    You thought the same thing about Drew, and look how that turned out. You remember what happened that night...

    Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP! Ash isn't Drew! He's as different from Drew as Max is from Harley.


    "Squirtle?" May looked up and realized that she was shaking from the memories. Her Squirtle was tugging her arm, looking at her with a worried expression.

    "I'm alright, Squirtle," she said softly. "Just some bad memories... from Johto." Her Squirtle nodded understandingly. He'd been there and knew what had happened. Squirtle patted her gently on the arm and then dived back into the water to finish the race.

    May touched her wet shirt again lightly and lay back on the grass. At least I didn't get splashed much, and it's pretty warm so it should dry quickly. She closed her eyes, her head suddenly buzzing with tiredness. She'd been up later than anyone else last night trying to look after Latias, and she'd woken up pretty early too. The sunlight began to play lightly over her eyelids; she felt suddenly warm and sleepy. Before she had time to take another breath, she'd fallen asleep.

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    She awoke suddenly. She could tell from the light streaming in that she'd been asleep for a couple of hours. Her stomach rumbled; she was nauseatingly hungry. She stretched and then levitated into the air. She moved over lazily to the table where a buffet had been spread out. In the next room she could hear a crowd of people having a conversation.

    Latias looked at the food on the table, wondering how she would be able to eat it. Her arms weren't exactly designed to put food on a plate, or use a fork for that matter.

    "Feeling hungry, Latias?" she heard Brock say as he entered the room. She chirped happily at him, nodding her head eagerly. He chuckled. "Here, let me get some for you. What would you like? A bread bun? Rice balls? Fruit salad?"

    Latias thought for a moment and then pointed to the bread and the fruit salad. Brock grabbed a small plate and bowl from the table and loaded them both up for her. Latias chirruped happily as he put them on the table and rubbed under his neck to say thank you. Then, without another glance, she tore into the food.

    "Glad to see that you're feeling better," Brock said with a smile. He reached out to help himself to some more pasta when the back door slammed open and Dawn burst in. She looked around quickly and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that Brock was the only one in the room.

    "You were right, Brock," she said as she walked over to him. "May does like him, but she didn't even realize it."

    "How did she figure out it out?" Brock asked. Dawn grinned.

    "I just spouted a lot of nonsense and hoped that I was right," she said, and then laughed. "Actually, all I did was describe what I thought those feelings are like. Luckily I was right, and May figured it out in the end."

    "So they both like each other," Brock said, thinking. "The question is, how do we get them to realize it?" At this, Dawn scuffed her legs against the ground.

    "Actually, I think I let it slip that Ash likes her," she said embarrassed. Brock stared at her.

    "That may not be a bad thing in the long run," he said slowly. "May obviously likes Ash, and if she thinks that Ash likes her..."

    "They might get together!" Dawn shouted in excitement.

    "Who might get together?" Ash asked, entering the room. Dawn jumped in fright and Brock accidentally dropped his plate of pasta. Latias went over to him, chirping excitedly. "How you feeling, Latias?" he asked fondly, stroking her on the back. She pressed up against him, still chirping.

    "Whew, good thing Latias was here," Brock whispered to Dawn. She nodded in agreement as he stooped to the floor and began to clean up his dropped pasta.

    "No need to worry," she said back with a wink.

    "So who were you guys talking about?" Ash asked, focused on them again. "Who might get together?"

    Brock looked up at Dawn quickly; she looked down at him nervously. "Uhh, ummm..." he began.

    "You and Latias," Dawn blurted, lying through her teeth. "You both seem to be really good friends, and she's really powerful. I was just saying to Brock how great it would be if you two were together."

    Brock looked at her and groaned inwardly, burying his face in his hands. He'd never heard anything more absurd than someone capturing a legendary Pokemon. Noland befriending Articuno was one thing, but even Brandon's Regirock, Regice, and Registeel weren't really legendary; just extremely rare. He dreaded to think how Latias was going to react. He waited with closed eyes and bated breath.

    "Latias... do you really want to come along with me?" he heard Ash ask. Brock cracked open an eye just in time to see Latias stare at him, completely open-mouthed.

    This can't be good, he thought. Then, to his complete incredulity, Latias's shocked stare turned into the biggest smile he'd ever seen. She nodded her head eagerly before transforming into her human shape. She gave Ash a huge hug before reverting back into her normal form.

    Brock was surprised to feel himself breathe again; he hadn't realized he was holding it in. He turned to Dawn and saw that she was shaking in relief.

    "That was the worst lie I have ever heard in my life," he whispered. Dawn smiled back weakly.

    "Good thing he bought it," she whispered back.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash sighed and stretched out against the tree comfortably. He had travelled through four regions and seen countless night skies, but this spot in the garden was his absolute favourite place to look at the stars. He looked upwards and saw that it had clouded over. He heard a hint of thunder in the air, and realized that there wouldn't be any star-watching tonight. Oh well, he thought. He gave another contented sigh and looked back out over the pond.

    "Ash?"

    He started. He hadn't heard her walking towards him. He turned and found himself looking into May's dazzling sapphire eyes.

    "Hey, May, what's up?" he asked. She sat down next to him and looked over the pond too. A light breeze ruffled past them, and Ash couldn't help noticing how her hair fluttered. His face tinged scarlet and he quickly turned away.

    "Not a whole lot, really," she said softly. "Just thinking."

    "Mind if I ask what about?" Ash asked.

    "Just... stuff," she said, watching the ripples.

    Ash sighed and leaned back. He knew that it was no good trying to probe May if she didn't feel comfortable talking at the moment; she'd tell him when she was ready. Then he remembered something. He reached around the side of the tree to where he'd strewn his travel pack and began to rummage in it.

    May turned her head slightly to look at him. It was true that she was thinking about a lot of things, but Ash hadn't tried to pry. She felt exceedingly glad. It's the mark of a true friend that he'll wait until I'm ready to tell, she thought. She was surprised when Ash suddenly turned to her, holding a canister in his hands.

    "Here, May. This is for you," he said. She took it with trembling hands.

    "Ash, what is this?" she asked. He leaned over and pressed a small red button at the base of the canister. The opaque covering vanished, leaving the glass through which May could see a red-orange egg glinting sully in the moonlight. May began to feel her eyes glistening with tears.

    "Ash... is this..?"

    "It's an egg from a Charizard," he said. "Liza found it with Charla in the Charicific Valley, and she gave it to me. She thinks that it could be from my Charizard."

    "Ash..." she whispered softly. To his complete surprise, she threw her arms around him and began sobbing into his shoulder.

    "Wha?" he managed to stutter out. She continued to cry against him. Uncomfortably aware of her chest pressing against him, he patted her awkwardly on the back for a few moments. A horrible feeling of repetitiveness rose up inside him, but he didn't know what else to do. At last, May stopped and broke away from him.

    "Ash, this means more to me than you realize," she whispered.

    "Why?" he asked, confused. She gave him a truly radiant smile; he felt captivated by her gaze and couldn't turn away.

    "Because it's a gift from you," she said. He felt his face burn, and he finally managed to look down.

    "It's just a Pokemon egg," he muttered, completely embarrassed. "I just thought you'd like it since I have Charizard, and you already have a Bulbasaur and a Squirtle."

    She smiled at him, even though he wasn't looking at her. He really is a nice guy, she thought. I know he'd never hurt me like Drew did.

    A loud clap of thunder broke her train of thought and a rain drop landed squarely on her nose. She and Ash both leapt to their feet. "Come on, lets gets inside," Ash shouted, grabbing her hand and running to the house.

    Panting, they managed to make it inside before the downpour really started. May looked down.

    "Umm, Ash?"

    "Yeah?"

    "Could you let go of my hand, please?" she asked. He let go with a start.

    "Sorry," he said sheepishly. "I didn't even realize." May laughed and then dashed upstairs, holding the canister carefully.

    "Race you to bed," she called down. "We have an early start tomorrow!"

  3. #18
    Sig By Blue Dragon Ino-Chan's Avatar
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    Dear, God! This is so good!

    Do you mind if I put it on Word to print and show it to my friend?

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  5. #20
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Chapter 15: Rey

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    May's eyes snapped open. She glanced around the dark room for a few moments before she found the digital clock. She gave a slight groan when she saw the time: 5:42. She pounded her pillow once in frustration. It was the fourth time she'd woken up that night.

    She closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep again. She rolled over. She punched her pillow back into shape and tried sleeping on the other side. She opened her eyes and looked at the clock again: 6:03. With a resigned groan she sat up and began looking for her toothbrush and a towel. It didn't look as if she'd fall asleep again.

    Might as well get ready for the trip, she thought. No point in just waiting for everyone else to get up and then end up clogging the bathroom. She glanced over at Dawn snoring lightly on the bed and shook her head. She's had that bed every night.

    She grabbed her clothes and crept out the door into the hallway, taking care not to accidentally trip over Misty on her way out. She shut the door softly and tiptoed down the hallway towards the bathroom. She paused at the landing, surprised to see a light on downstairs. Her heart began to pound as she heard movement. I hope it isn't a burglar, she thought.

    Still holding her clothes and towel in one arm, she fumbled quickly with the Poke Balls on the belt that was always attached to her pants. She found the one she wanted and released the Pokemon inside quickly, hoping that whoever was downstairs wouldn't hear the Ball opening.

    "Vui?" her Eevee asked.

    "There's someone downstairs," May whispered quietly. "I think it might be a burglar. I'll need your help if it is."

    "Eievui," her Pokemon nodded. Slowly, May began to creep down the stairs. Her hands felt suddenly sticky with trepidation and she noticed that she was shaking a little. Pausing, she took a couple of deep breaths and then nodded, steeling herself.

    She began to quietly walk down the last few steps, Eevee at her heels. She stopped at the foot and slowly peeked her head around the corner to see who was in the house.

    "Good morning, May," Professor Oak smiled.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "I'm sorry I startled you, May," Professor Oak chuckled. "I've gotten up early every morning to look after the Pokemon for so long now that it's just become a habit."

    "I thought that you were a robber," she said faintly, holding the mug of tea the Professor had made for her. Ash laughed from the other side of the table.

    "Only you could mistake Professor Oak for a thief, May" he chuckled.

    "And what are you doing up so early?" May asked him accusingly. Ash shrugged.

    "The same as you; I couldn't sleep either. I came down only a little while before you did and saw that Professor Oak was already awake, and looking really bored."

    "I haven't had anything to do since my lab burned down," the Professor explained. "I'm so used to working as soon as I get up that it's quite a shock to just sit around doing nothing for a couple of hours. The only company I've normally got this early is Noctowl."

    "Professor Oak was just telling me about his theory on why Latias was infected with Pokerus," Ash said to May. The Professor nodded.

    "You see, May, everything on this planet is connected. Humans and Pokemon eat, drink, and interact with each other. When we die our bodies are returned to the earth so that new plants can grow and feed others. I hate to sound cliché, but the simplest name for it is the Circle of Life. Are you following me?" May nodded; it seemed pretty straightforward so far.

    "Good. Now, while everything on the planet may be connected to everything else, living creatures are more closely linked to other living creatures than, say, a rock. And it divides again; humans connect on deeper levels to each other than to Pokemon, and vice versa. But then in Pokemon it divides again; a Ralts will connect more easily to other Psychic Pokemon than to a Ground type; within the Psychic grouping, it is closer to those in it's own evolutionary line than to Hypno. And of course, a Ralts will always connect more easily to another Ralts than to a Kirlia. Understand?"

    "I think so," May said slowly. "It makes sense, but I can't quite see where you're going with it."

    "It's because there is one group of Pokemon where these connections don't work," the Professor said. "This group of Pokemon is unique - in this group there are over 30 different species of Pokemon, and they represent nearly every type. Some of them are ancient in origin, so old that they are considered myths. Others are so rare that they are nearly one of a kind."

    "Legendary Pokemon," Ash supplied.

    "Exactly," Professor Oak nodded. "All of them are rare, and most are impossible to capture - although there are a few exceptions. They are so valuable that some people spend all of their lives searching, just to catch a brief glimpse of one; your uncle spent most of his life trying to catch sight of a Moltres, Ash."

    "I still don't see what this has to do with Latias and the Pokerus," May said, puzzled.

    "Legendary Pokemon are intimately connected with one other; at all times they can sense the presence of other legendary Pokemon, as well as how they are feeling. When the collector Lawrence III tried to capture the legendary birds in the Orange Islands, they could sense what was happening. When Zapdos felt Moltres's absence, it claimed Fire Island as it's own. The guardian Lugia sensed Moltres's capture and went to try and free the legendary Pokemon.

    "Why did Suicune suddenly appear to try and help Celebi when it was caught and corrupted? How did Rayquaza know that the Deoxys was hiding in LaRousse City; in fact, how did the Deoxys know that the core of another Deoxys was being kept there? Why did Rayquaza suddenly appear over the stadium, and attack only Latias? It all boils down to the connection that legendary Pokemon share with one another."

    "So... you're saying that you think it was this connection between Rayquaza and Latias that passed on the Pokerus?" May asked.

    "It's the only thing that makes sense," Professor Oak replied. "Legendaries are so closely linked that they don't need physical contact to pass on the Pokerus." He sighed and looked towards the window and the dark world beyond. "Unfortunately, if I'm right, it means that other legendaries could also be infected. I have no idea how close they'd need to be to pass on the disease through their connection, but if it's any great distance than we could be looking at an epidemic."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Now you'll be sure to look after yourself, won't you?" Delia asked as she fussed over Ash.

    "Of course I will," he said, trying to wave her away as she attacked his head with a comb.

    "You will treat all of your Pokemon equally, won't you?" Professor Oak asked, stepping in front of Delia. "You've never had so many Pokemon on your team at once while you travel, and they'll all need extra-special care. It's one of the reasons why most trainers are only allowed to carry six at a time."

    "Don't worry, Professor," Ash said with a smile. "I'll be sure to look after them all. I'm only taking one of my Tauros though; I'll leave the rest here to help rebuild the lab."

    "Thank you, Ash, they'll do wonders I'm sure. Now, I have something for you, May," he said, moving to the side and allowing Delia to attack Ash's hair again.

    "For me?" she asked, surprised.

    "Yes. You haven't caught anywhere near as many Pokemon as Ash, but you've proven yourself to be an exceptional trainer who takes amazing care of their Pokemon. So, I'd like to give you this." He placed an ordinary PokeDex in her hands.

    "A PokeDex?" she asked, confused.

    "Yes and no," he said. "You see, a PokeDex isn't just a protable encyclopedia, it's also your ID. It can tell anyone who you are, what you've captured, what Pokemon are on your team at the moment, and the number of Pokemon you're allowed to carry. This is called an Ex-Dex. It stands for "Expanded PokeDex, and it's the same thing that Ash got when he became a Frontier Brain."

    "You mean, I can carry more than six Pokemon?" she asked. Professor Oak nodded.

    "That's right," he said. "I know that you'll treat all of them well, so this is my gift to you."

    "Thank you," she whispered. "I really appreciate this."

    "We know," Norman laughed, stepping forward. He wrapped his arms around her daughter and hugged her tightly. "Travel safe," he said.

    "We'll miss you, but we'll be waiting at home when you come back," Caroline added as she joined the hug. May gently detached herself from the two.

    "We'd better get going now," she said. "Bye Mom, Dad. I'll see you soon, Max. Good luck in Johto!"

    "Right back at you," Max said with a grin.

    Waving backwards at the crowd of friends and family, Ash, May, Brock, Dawn, and Pikachu began to walk in the direction of Viridian City. A light breeze ruffled the grass around them and helped to cool them momentarily from the delicious warmth of the sun.

    Ash stopped at the top of the hill closest to Pallet and turned momentarily, looking back at the town. His house was no longer visible, but the destroyed lab was plain to see. He stretched and looked up at the sun before turning back to his friends.

    "Looks like we're finally travelling again," he said with a grin.

    A clawed hand came rocketing out of the bushes and snapped itself around Pikachu.

    "Hey!" Ash shouted, whirling towards the bushes as Pikachu was retracted.

    "Prepare for trouble!" an ominous voice snarled.

    "Are you still after Pikachu?" May asked in amazement as Jessie stepped out of the bushes. "I'd have thought that after ten years of failure you'd have given up."

    "Think again, twerp," she smirked. "Looks like I've got Pikachu in the bag. Soon as I get back to headquarters I can use a Dark Ball and give your yellow rat to the boss!"

    "I'm not going to let that happen!" Ash shouted. "Heracro-"

    "Seviper, Poison Tail!" Jessie shouted. Her Seviper burst from the Poke Ball, tail glowing a menacing purple. It held it's tail at Pikachu's throat; Pikachu instantly stopped struggling. From the trees behind them, a figure burst out and wrapped his arms securely around May, pinning her arms tightly to her sides. She screamed in fright as he dragged her backwards a few paces.

    Ash turned again, the Poke Ball in his hand. He looked in dismay as his eyes met Drew's.

    "Well, this is a problem, isn't it," Jessie said with a toying smile. "The girl or the Pokemon? Who are you going to save?"

    "Drew won't hurt May," Ash said confidently. "He's just keeping her safe. All I need to do is take out your Seviper." Drew snorted and Jessie giggled.

    "Riiight, Drew won't hurt May," she said with a raised eyebrow. "How can you be so sure he won't try something else?"

    "Get off me!" May screamed, trying to stamp on Drew's feet.

    "If you go for the girl, say goodbye to your Pikachu," Jessie said menacingly, nodding to Seviper - the Poison Tail was flicked an inch closer and Pikachu strained to move it's neck away.

    "If you try to save Pikachu, you can forget about travelling with May," Drew added. Ash stood in the centre, his mind torn as he turned from May to Pikachu, and back to May again.

    Dawn tried to reach for a Poke Ball surreptitiously.

    "Take your hands away from your Poke Balls," Drew snarled, watching her every move. Dawn swallowed and slowly moved her hands away.

    "Looks like we've won this one, twerps," Jessie said with a smile, beginning to edge around in a circle until she stood next to Drew. "We've both got what we wanted. Come on Drew, let's go."

    "Vine Whip!" a voice shouted. Ash twisted as several vines shot past him, much thicker than those on his Bulbasaur and Bayleef. One of the vines shot into the extendable arm that Jessie was holding, snapping it in two and causing it to spark dangerously; a second smashed into Seviper's head at full force, knocking it out cold. A second pair wrapped around May and shot into Drew. He doubled over in pain and let go of May, who was quickly reeled in.

    "Why you..." Drew growled as he got to his feet, clutching his stomach. "Flygon, come on out!" With a roar, his Pokemon appeared.

    "Heracross, I choose you!" Ash shouted, finally able to send out his Pokemon.

    "Flygon, use Flamethrower!" Drew yelled.

    "Venusaur, counter with Solarbeam!" the voice commanded.

    "Heracross, Megahorn!" Ash shouted.

    The Flamethrower and Solarbeam collided, causing an explosion. Heracross burst through the smoke with a glowing horn and smashed into Flygon's unprotected belly. The Pokemon gasped and freefell to earth at the intensity of the attack.

    "Flygon!" Drew gasped. He recalled his Pokemon, gave the group a dirty look, and ran back into the forest. Ash, May, Brock, Dawn, and Pikachu all turned to Jessie, who stood seemingly rooted on the spot, and still holding the sparking arm.

    "Ummm," she managed to squeak out before the power shortage in the arm overloaded. It exploded, and with a scream, Jessie was launched high into the air.

    "Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off again," Ash said softly before turning to see the Venusaur and it's owner approaching. She wore a sleeveless blue shirt with matching socks and a red skirt. Her long brown hair cascaded down to the small of her back, and was held down in places by the strap of the yellow bag she carried over one shoulder. Her green eyes sparkled underneath a brimmed white hat.

    "Good to see you again, Ash," she said with a playful smile on her face. "I was wondering if I'd see you before you left on another journey again. Good thing I came after you; it looks like you were in quite the dilemma."

    "Rey," Ash said, stepping forward with a huge grin. "Have you started training again?" May, Brock, and Dawn all stood and watched in shock as both Rey and Ash broke into laughter and embraced.

    A cold pit formed in May's stomach and began to spread upwards. Her eyes began to glisten as she held back tears and stepped backwards. With a sob, she turned and ran down the path, holding an arm to her eyes.

    "I'll go after her," Dawn said, and quickly followed May, with Pikachu close behind.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Pain coursed throughout his body again, but this time he knew that it was not external. This time, he knew that it came from within. A cloud seemed to hang heavily directly over his head as delusional images swam before his mind. He clasped a three-fingered hand to his heart and did his best to shut out the images, but still they came.

    They know, he thought. Somehow they know. They've found me here, and now they're trying to incapacitate me, make me helpless so they can capture me! I've been here too long, I need to go on to Vermillion City. I've... Nyyaaarrrrhhh!!!

    Throughout Cerulean City, people stopped and stared, puzzled and a little afraid. They had all heard the scream.

    Spread-eagled on a rooftop, the caped figure lay immobile and unconscious; utterly helpless.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For those of you wondering who Rey is, she's partly an OC and partly not. As some of you might have guessed from the description, she's based on the female trainer of FireRed/LeafGreen (and in this story, one of the two other trainers who started from Pallet with Gary and Ash; remember those two?)

  6. #21
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Chapter 16: Capture

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    James looked longingly at the apple trees on the side of the road. He glanced up and saw Paul walking resolutely onwards, hands in his pocket, completely silent. He sighed and trudged on after him, stomach rumbling.

    Travelling with Paul hadn't exactly been a fun experience. They had walked almost non-stop, resting only infrequently. On the rare occasions when they did stop, Paul battled his Pokemon against each other relentlessly. It had been a real shock to James the first time he saw a five-on-one battle.

    "We're almost there," Paul said, breaking the long silence that had stretched between them at last. James hurried up to where Paul was standing and realized that he had only been talking into his Poketch. He saw Paul glance back at him and then turn back, lowering his voice and covering his mouth with his hand. He spoke for a few more moments, nodded once and then deftly shut the lid.

    "My father is going to meet us here," Paul said, sitting down on a fallen log.

    "Eh... why not just keep on going if that's where we're heading?" James asked.

    "Because," Paul said, his dark eyes boring into James, "he wants us to wait here. Okay?"

    "Okay," James muttered. Then his expression brightened as an idea struck him. "Come on out," he called, throwing four Poke Balls into the air. In a blaze of brilliant red light, Cacnea, Carnivine, Mime Jr, and Fearow appeared. He smiled happily as they stretched in midair. The smile quickly turned into a little shriek of horror and pain as Cacnea and Carnivine enveloped him fondly in a tight hug.

    "Pathetic," Paul snorted, turning to look into the forest.

    "What's so pathetic about letting out your Pokemon for a little fresh air?" James asked, feeling slightly abashed for some strange reason.

    "You mean that you actually want them to enjoy themselves?" Paul asked.

    "Well yeah, why wouldn't I?"

    "Because Pokemon are just tools. They aren't supposed to enjoy themselves,; their only purpose is to be used in battle. You let them have fun, and they'll start thinking you're all friends."

    "But we are," James protested. Paul snorted again.

    "It's pathetic," he repeated. "Friendship makes a Pokemon weaker. If they think that you'll forgive them when you lose a battle, they'll just give up as soon as they start getting hurt."

    "That's not true!" James shouted, leaping up in anger. Paul looked at him coldly.

    "Oh really? Then tell me; when was the last time you and your 'friends' won a battle?"

    James looked at him, a sinking feeling in his chest. Perhaps Paul was right. It had been a long time since he'd won a battle. Several years in fact.

    "You see?" Paul said softly. "Being friends with a Pokemon just holds you back. You can only unleash their full power if you treat them like the inferior creatures they are." He turned and looked back into the forest. "Good, he's arrived."

    James looked and started. Ringed in the trees around them were a group of people dressed in black, a large red 'R' splashed across their chests. A tall, broad-shouldered man dressed in an orange suit stepped forward. His gaze rested on James for a moment and a contemptuous smile curled across his face.

    "Good work, Paul," he said, turning to the lavender-haired trainer. "It looks as if Cassidy and Butch have failed since you've brought him... alive." Paul shrugged.

    "He was stuck in a tree and being attacked by a flock of Fearow when I found him. Apparently he was in the Colosseum with the others when a Hyper Beam knocked them all off in different directions. It could be that your mercenaries are still trailing the other two. I figured it was best if I brought him back for you to deal with personally, father."

    Giovanni nodded, his sharp gaze wandering over a trembling and clearly bewildered James. "Didn't my son tell you?" he asked silkily.

    "T-tell me what, s-sir?" James stammered. Giovanni took a step forward and kneeled so that he was at James's level.

    "My dear, dear, James," he said softly, almost kindly. "You've cost our organization a pretty penny over the years; too much for so little result. You're expendable. I recently sent out a Rocket duo to try and find your little trio. Their sole orders were to kill you on the spot." James blanched, and Giovanni reached out to clasp his shoulder. "But now that you're here..." he whispered.

    He whirled and thrust James away from him; the white-garbed Team Rocket member stumbled backwards and was grabbed by several of the grunts.

    "Take him back to headquarters," Giovanni snapped. "I'm not in the mood to deal with him now. Put him in Silver's cell. I'll finish with what's left of him later. Seize his Pokemon and store them away. Paul, I want to see you in my office the moment we get back. Move!"

    In minutes, the forest was still and silent. There was no sign of the confrontation that had just occurred aside from a small Fearow which perched hidden in a tree, it's tears streaming to earth.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Not including our first specimen we have now obtained a Raikou, Suicune, Regice, and Uxie, not forgetting the Rayquaza that terrorized Southern Kanto," Giovanni told his son, reclining slightly in his chair. Paul nodded slowly.

    "Quite the accomplishment," he drawled, "especially with capturing that Rayquaza. But forgive me; you need one specimen of every legendary Pokemon, and yet Latios is dead - your henchwomen saw to that." A crooked smile crossed Giovanni's lips.

    "Oh, I imagine that Annie and Oakley are quite relieved to still be incarcerated at the moment," he said. "Their mission was simple: capture Latios and Latias. I still do not understand why they chose to try and steal a trinket and kill Latios instead of the simple recovery that I outlined for them. It is of no importance, though. There are other Latios in the wild, and Professor Namba has recently discovered their migration routes. We should soon have one under our possession, enlarging our collection."

    "And as more legendaries are captured, brought here, and infected, the rest will feel a stronger and stronger urge to come and free their brethren, because of their connection to one another" Paul stated, knowing what his father had planned to say next.

    "Exactly," Giovanni said., "and once we have one of every species collected here we will be able to call the ultimate Pokemon back to this reality. Now, I have a new mission for you. I need you to go to Hoenn. We have uncovered evidence that Celebi is currently residing in Petalburg Forest; I want you to capture it."

    "We're talking about a legendary Pokemon," Paul said. "With the exception of Brandon's weakling Regirock, Regice, and Registeel, none have ever been captured. I don't think it's possible to poach a Pokemon with the kind of hidden strength that Celebi has." Giovanni stood and looked out of the window.

    "Several years ago, we almost caught Celebi," he said. "I sent out our number-one field specialist at the time; Vicious. He collaborated with Namba to produce one of the ultimate Poke Balls. It captures any Pokemon, even those belonging to other trainers, without fail." He turned and threw a black sphere at Paul, who caught it in reflex.

    "A Dark Ball," Paul muttered, examining it closely. Giovanni nodded.

    "A Dark Ball," he acknowledged. "Use this to capture Celebi. Take someone with you, I don't care who. Just bring me back Celebi as quickly as possible. Stop by in Johto on the way back; I need you to pay a visit to Kurt of Azalea Town. He has something that I require for our purpose."

    Paul nodded silently and watched as his father sat and faced the window again, understanding that he was dismissed. Stiffly, he turned and left his father's office. He walked down the hall and quickly descended down a flight of stairs. He knew exactly who to take with him.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    James shrank back as far as he could, doing his best to avoid meeting the fiery gaze of his cell-mate who sat on the floor opposite him.

    "I've been waiting a long time to get my hands on a Rocket," the man growled. James gulped nervously. "I don't know even know why I'm in here; perhaps you can shed some light on the mystery?" he continued.

    "I'm afraid I can't," James said, licking his dry lips nervously. "All I know is that they're holding me here until they're ready to kill me."

    "Probably hoping that I'll do the job for them," the man chuckled darkly, his long steely-grey hair swinging as he got to his feet, cracking his knuckles.

    "A-are you going to?" James asked almost inaudibly.

    "Nah, I'm no murderer. Although I sure would like a shot at that Giovanni and that Namba! If I still had my Salamence..."

    "You mean that you don't?" James blurted out.

    "What kind of mud do you have for brains, half-pint?" the man demanded. "You think your boss is foolish enough to put me in here with a Pokemon? My Salamence or Chikorita could break me outta here with no problem. Huh, I don't even know how they managed to catch me."

    "Is your name Silver, by any chance?" James asked hesitantly.

    "Sure is," the man drawled. "Silver's my name, and Pokemon is the game. My goal is to have a real battle with Moltres one day; without being interrupted by Team Rocket."

    James gulped as the man took several strides towards him, grabbed him by the collar, and pinned him up against the wall.

    "I don't know what you guys have against me, but I sure ain't impressed," he breathed. "I want to know why I'm in here, and I want to know now!"

    "Put him down, Silver," a cold voice drawled. Silver half-turned, still holding James by the shirt.

    "What do you want, half-pint?" he asked.

    "I've come for him," Paul said, pointing at James. Silver looked at Paul scornfully.

    "Why, because you're worried I might hurt him? Don't want your friend damaged?"

    "He is being given his last chance at life," Paul said flatly. "He's coming with me on a special mission. Now put him down. Don't make me use my Electivire."

    "Tough kid," Silver taunted, "having to hide behind your Pokemon. Tell you what, why don't you come in here without any Pokemon and try to get him away from me."

    "I don't play that way," Paul said, tossing a Poke Ball into the air and releasing his Electivire. "Thunderbolt," he ordered. Silver screamed as the volts coursed through his system, forcing him to drop a terrified James to the ground. Paul watched him emotionlessly, allowing the attack to continue for a good deal longer than was necessary. At last he raised his arm, and the Thunderbolt stopped. Silver slumped to the floor, groaning slightly.

    "Out," he ordered James.

    "I... I don't understand," James murmured as he crawled out of the cell, followed closely by Electivire.

    "I told you, you've got one last chance to save your life," Paul said impatiently as he slammed the cell door shut and took out the key. "We're going to Hoenn. I want to be back in forty-eight hours, so you'd better not slow me up."

    "Hoenn?" James asked. "But, what about my Pokemon?"

    "You can take your Cacnea," Paul said. "The rest stay here. Now move."

    "How do I know I can trust you?" James asked shrewdly. "You've already lied to me once, about the six-course meal." Paul rolled his eyes, whirled and grabbed him by the shoulder. They stared at each other for a moment.

    "You have to trust me because you'll die if you don't," Paul hissed. "If you don't want to die, then follow me." He strode off quickly, leaving James rooted to the spot in bewilderment.

    In the cell, Silver regained consciousness. He let out a moan of pain as static electricity crackled across his body. He struggled to his feet and leaned heavily against an iron wall. He cursed in surprise as the wall swung outwards, sending him crashing to the ground. Dazed, he looked up and realized that he was in the hallway. He scrambled to his feet and examined the wall closely.

    "That kid," he whispered. "He forgot to lock the door!" He let out a laugh and cracked his knuckles. "This is going to be fun," he grinned. "Let's see how Team Rocket handles this!"

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As ever, please review! If you have any questions feel free to ask them, and I'll answer next time around. I'd also like to point out that this chapter was written long before Cacnea was given to Gardenia.

  7. #22
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Very interesting. Although I have to admit, when I read "Silver's cell", I was wondering why Giovanni would imprison the GSC Rival, but that was explained when we met the fellow.

    And WHOO DARK BALLS. Those need to be used more.

  8. #23
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    Dang, it's still good.

  9. #24
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Thanks, both of you! This is just a short little chapter. Still, I hope you enjoy!

    Chapter 17: Memory


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    May squinted slightly as the bright sunlight washed over her face, almost seeming to tickle her eyelids. Grumbling sleepily, she rolled over. She stretched, and bolted back her hand as she felt it touch something warm and soft. Panicking, she moved as away from the unknown entity as fast as she could while her lower torso was still entangled in a sleeping bag.

    She stared at the sleeping bag that had lain next to hers in early-morning confusion. Then, with a slight motion, Drew's head appeared from beneath the cover. She relaxed as the previous days events came back to her. She had been on her way to Ecruteak City when she'd met Drew training his new Furret for the next contest. It had been getting dark, so they both decided to camp where they were, and travel to the next contest together.

    May looked at him and smiled. It would certainly be nice to have someone to travel with again. She been going solo for so long, that she was actually quite lonely for some human company. Heck, she was so desperate for another person to talk too that she wouldn't even mind if Max showed up out of nowhere and started to bug here.

    She cast her eyes downward, feeling sad at the thought of her brother. Here she was in Johto, while he was on his own journey in Hoenn. She wondered briefly what Pokemon he'd caught, and how many badges he'd won so far. She gave a little sigh - she hadn't been able to get in touch with him since she'd left for Johto.

    Thinking of Max, she couldn't help remembering her other friends. She thought briefly of Brock, wondering if he was still at the Pewter Gym now or if he'd gone on after -

    She closed her eyes, shaking her head to lose the thought that had been dangerously close to breaking through again. Ever since their group had split up, she couldn't even think his name without feeling a twinge of pain. And thinking about him brought a world of loss.

    "I don't know what's wrong with me," she muttered to herself. "I can think of Max and Brock, so why is it that everytime I think of... of him, I start feeling so depressed?"

    "Hmm? Thinking about me?" she heard Drew ask. She snapped her head upright, pink tinges in her cheeks.

    "No, no, of course not, why would I be thinking of you?" May asked, laughing nervously as she waved a hand in dismissal. Drew shrugged.

    "I dunno, but you were thinking about some guy and I figured there was as much a chance of it being me as the next guy."

    "Eavesdropper," May muttered. Drew laughed and stood up, stretching in the sunlight.

    "Come on," he said, "lets start breakfast. If we eat quickly enough, we could make it to Ecruteak by nightfall."

    "Sounds good," May said, jumping up. "You cook the food, I'll do the fire."

    "Good luck with getting it started," Drew snorted. "Remember the trouble you had last night? It's a wonder you ever had a fire when you travelled with Max, Brock, and-"

    "Brock normally lit the fire, he was good at those kinds of things," May cut in quickly. "I'll get it started though, don't you worry about that."

    "Sure, I'd like to see you try it," Drew bantered humourously. "Looks like we'll be having cold bread instead of toast."

    May grinned as he turned and began to rummage in his bag for the food. Making sure that he couldn't see her, she quietly called out a Pokemon, set up a tepee of sticks, and whispered her instructions. Drew turned and gaped at the hot fire that sat between them.

    "Hey, how'd you make a fire so big so quickly? How'd you even get it
    lit?"

    "Trade secret," May smiled, enjoying his confusion. Drew stared at her, completely astonished, and May laughed at his amazement. Then Drew caught sight of the Blaziken standing behind her.

    "Hey, that's not fair! You used your Pokemon to start it!" Drew protested.

    "Whatever works," May said, smiling sweetly. "Now, I think you said you were going to cook breakfast?"

    Muttering darkly to himself, Drew put a few slices of bread in a frying pan and began to cook them over the fire. May smiled inwardly as she sat back down on her sleeping bag and watched him do all of the work.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    May was jolted out of her memory by the sound of Dawn gasping as she drew closer to the rock where May sat. She stood there a moment, holding a hand to her chest as she took ragged breaths before flopping down next to May.

    "Boy, you can really run," Dawn gasped. May didn't respond.

    "Why'd you run off like that, May?" Dawn asked. "Didn't you want to meet Rey? She seems like a really nice person."

    "Oh she does, does she?" May asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Let me ask you something, Dawn. The other day, you let it slip that Ash likes me after I tell you that I like him. So what happens? He gives a big hug to this girl who just comes waltzing up when he's never even given me a little hug, the girl he's supposed to like. So what does that tell you, Dawn?"

    Dawn looked at her fellow coordinator who glanced away, refusing to meet her eyes. Still, Dawn had seen the tears beginning to trickle down her cheeks.

    "I think you've got it all wrong, May," she said softly. "Ash doesn't like Rey in that way at all. They're just childhood friends who were separated by their journeys. That hug he gave her was just an 'its-great-to-see-you-I-haven't-seen-you-in-years-how-have-you-been' hug, not an 'I love you' hug."

    "Then why hasn't he ever given me a hug, when we've been separated like that?" May asked, her voice fluctuating slightly as she tried desperately not to cry. Dawn sighed.

    "I don't know him as well as you, or Brock do, May," she said. "But if I what Brock told me is right, Ash lost all contact with her. He hasn't spoken to her since the day before he started his Pokemon journey, and that was ten years ago. He hasn't even been able to just say "hi" over the videophone. At least you two were able to keep in touch." She stood up and brushed a little dust off her skirt.

    "I'm going to go back," she said. "I think you probably should, too. Rey and her Venusaur did save you after all; you should at least say thank you." May nodded quietly and spoke almost inaudibly.

    "You go ahead. I'll be there soon." Dawn nodded and headed back towards Ash, Brock, and Rey.

    May waited until she heard her footsteps fade, and then released all of the raw emotion that was pent up inside of her. The wrenching feeling that she had unfairly judged Ash; the guilt that she hated Rey before she'd even said one word to her; her memories of travelling with Drew in Johto.

    "What went wrong?" she whispered to herself. "What changed him from a friend to a monster?"

    She sat there for what seemed to be a long time until she had cried all of her emotion out. Then, wiping her face with her sleeve, she got unsteadily to her feet and began walking back to her friends.

  10. #25
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Chapter 18: Conversation

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "If she'd only gotten a little closer to the trees. We could have grabbed her!" Cassidy complained to Butch. He peered nervously out from behind the bushes and motioned for her to lower her voice before answering.

    "At least we know that our guess was right; she is following those kids. All we have to do is follow them, and she'll turn up eventually."

    "I wonder where James and that Meowth have gone," Cassidy frowned. "It's weird that she was working with that green-haired kid instead of her partners. Do you think something happened to them?"

    "I hope so," Butch muttered, his head turned away. "I still don't think I could kill them."

    "Neither do I, Butch," Cassidy said. She grabbed his arm and forced him to meet her eyes. "But we've got to. If we don't, it's our own necks on the line. Now come on, let's keep following these kids. It looks like their going to Viridian City, but I don't want to risk beating them there only to find out that they've bypassed it."

    "Sure. Whatever," Butch answered unhappily.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rey watched curiously out of the corner of her eye as May ran off, followed quickly by Dawn.

    "I wouldn't worry too much about it," Brock said before she could ask. "I'm sure Dawn will sort it out."

    "She seems very, ah, emotional," Rey said, looking directly at Ash. He hesitated for a moment.

    "Good to see you again, Rey," he said weakly, spreading his arms wide. She looked at him, completely unimpressed.

    "Don't try and pull the innocent act with me, Ash Ketchum," she said. "Maybe I haven't seen you for a couple of years, but we were best friends growing up and I know you a lot better than you realize." She stepped close until her face was right in his, and lowered her voice to a whisper. "I know what it feels like; I've been there. I also know what it feels like to be treated badly. You'd better treat her right, or I'll be coming after you."

    As Ash began to sweat, Rey stepped back and spoke normally again. "Even Masters get caught up in their training," she said to him. "Just try to remember the people around you too, 'kay?"

    Ash stood still, a little unsure of what to do as Rey turned and greeted Brock. "I guess she doesn't know me a well as she thinks she does," he muttered under his breath, beginning to wish that he'd run after May instead of Dawn.

    "So, Brock, do you remember our battle?" Rey asked. He laughed.

    "Do I ever! That was one of the best battles that I ever had as gym leader! I thought I had you beat easily when Geodude took out your Rattata in one attack, but your Bulbasaur was fantastic; I still can't believe that you combined Razor Leaf with Petal Dance to make a Leaf Storm, even though your Bulbasaur didn't know the attack. Using Petal Dance to create a cloud of leaves, and then using Razor Leaf to propel it into Onix was just fantastic. I still haven't seen anything like it since."

    Rey laughed. "How'd Ash do against you?" she asked.

    "Well, he won the second time, but it was kind of a fluke. I actually ended up just giving him the badge because he walked out in the middle of the battle."

    "What?" Rey asked, completely shocked. "Why would he do that?" Brock smiled, remembering the first time he'd battled the fourth trainer from Pallet.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Gym was dark; as usual, Brock kept his eyes partially closed. Over time he had discovered that this helped him to sense both his and the opponent Pokemon's movement in battle. It was a technique that he would adapt for life, although he did not know it at the time.

    The heavy stone doors slowly creaked open. Brock stirred on the hard, granite seat; he could only assume that this was the fourth and final beginning trainer from Pallet Town. He was determined to win this match, feeling mortified with himself for losing three in a row against rookies.

    "I'm here for a Gym Battle," the trainer declared boldly, stepping forwards. Brock made out a Pikachu at his side and grinned inside. If this trainer was using a Pikachu, the battle should be a piece of cake. The lights snapped on and Brock vaulted from his chair, landing neatly on the gym floor. He recited the rules of the Pewter Gym and Ash sent his Pikachu forward.

    Moving back to his battle box Brock decided to end the match right there and then, sending out his Onix. The Pikachu shot out a weak electric attack which did absolutely nothing to the rock-snake. One quick Bind attack from Onix, and the match was over. He watched as the young trainer ran from the Gym with the Pikachu in his arms, feeling a little sympathy. He could only imagine how humiliating it must be to lose so badly...

    He was surprised the next day when the trainer returned, looking more confident than ever. They began the rematch, with the trainer sending out a Pidgeotto and Brock choosing Geodude. It didn't take long for the flying-type to be knocked out, but Ash stunned Brock by choosing his Pikachu as his final Pokemon. He was stunned again when a much more powerful electric attack than the one used the day before knocked out his Geodude cleanly. A grudging respect began to grow for the young trainer; even though both of his choices were at massive type disadvantages, the trainer refused to give up and found ways to win. Brock could see raw talent, and he admired the boy for it.

    He knew that the match was his to win though, and he sent out his Onix for a rematch of the day before. He watched grimly as the rock-type used a Bind on the Pikachu again. The young trainer shouted out an attack command desperately but the electricity had absolutely no effect, deflecting off of Onix to smash harmlessly into the ceiling. Brock knew that he'd won again.

    Then Onix roared out in pain; Brock gasped in shock as the sprinkler system, razed by the electricity, short-circuited and sent torrents of water downwards, drenching everything on the field. He didn't see what happened next but a blinding flash lit the Gym and Onix crashed to the floor, releasing the Bind as it moaned in pain.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Wait, let me see if I've got this right," Rey interrupted. "Ash won the match because the sprinklers went off?" She roared in laughter, causing Brock to frown.

    "In our first match I could see that the Bind attack was really hurting Pikachu, and it was in no state to fight. So I called the bind off. Ash forfeited the match and took his Pikachu to the Pokemon Centre. In our rematch, it was Onix who couldn't fight anymore, because of a fluke more than anything else. The water combined with the electricity to do what electricity alone couldn't do. But Ash called off the match again. He knew that winning because of malfunctioning sprinklers wasn't really winning at all. He just walked out of the Gym, there and then."

    "So why'd you give him the badge if he didn't beat you?" Rey asked.

    "A gym badge signifies a trainer's skill; defeating a gym leader takes lots of hard work to do. But what happens if a trainer comes close to victory and just can't quite pull it out in the end? Ash may not have had the raw power or the right strategy, but he proved that he had the right heart. That's why I gave him the badge."

    "Wow," Rey said. "I didn't realize that there was more to gym battling then just beating a trainer. So how come you decided to leave the gym and follow Ash?" Brock chose not to answer straight away, diverting his gaze instead to the large Venusaur that stood nearby, eyes closed as it rested in the sun.

    "So, I'm guessing that this evolved from your Bulbasaur?" he asked her. She nodded proudly. "Yup, the same. I've kept her with me all of this time, even though I never actually competed in a League."

    "Why not?" Brock asked, surprised. "You did a fantastic job against me, and I've always thought that you could get into the top eight." Rey shrugged.

    "It just never worked out for me," she said. "I was doing really well at first, but by the time I got to the sixth gym I'd just worn my Pokemon out. I was travelling so quickly that I never trained my Pokemon properly. I never did beat the sixth gym, or any other gym for that matter. I just wasn't strong or smart enough to realize that I had to train my Pokemon before I could battle with them." Ash finally snapped out of his thoughts and wandered over.

    "What other Pokemon do you have, Rey?" he asked, looking at her Venusaur.

    "Take a look!" she smiled, throwing two more balls into the air. In the familiar burst of red light, a Farfetch'd and a Xatu appeared.

    "Awesome, a Farfetch'd and Xatu!" Ash said, gazing at the two Pokemon. "You must have had a hard time catching them, they're both really rare!"

    "It's easier than people think," Rey smiled as Dawn reappeared in the group.

    "She's on her way back," she said to them. "I think she's okay now." Rey looked uneasily in the direction that May had run.

    "Do you think I should go ahead?" she asked them.

    "No," Dawn said, shaking her head. "I think you should be here; I kind of got the feeling that she wanted to talk."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I hope you liked this chapter even though it was short and mostly filler.

  11. #26
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    I like the explanation for why Brock keeps his eyes closed the way he does.

  12. #27
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Thanks for the comment Blackjack; I figured it was about time we were given a reason for his eyes, =P. Here's the next installment, and it's my longest chapter yet!

    Chapter 19: Lessons


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    Dawn stopped and stared at the sight that spread out before her. A wide grin split her face and she dashed back to where Ash, Brock, May, and Rey were resting.

    "Guys, it's just up ahead," she said excitedly. "It's Viridian City!" Rey jumped to her feet and looked north eagerly.

    "Then let's get moving!" she said. "We've gotten here a lot earlier than I thought we would. Come on guys, if we hurry we can get some good room at the Pokemon Centre!"

    "The Pokemon Centre!" Brock exclaimed, a goofy smile beginning to spread over his face. "What are we waiting for then?" Without looking back, he tore off down the path. Rey stared after him open-mouthed and looked sideways at Ash.

    "Is he always this, uh, enthusiastic about going to a Centre?" she asked uncertainly.

    "Let me put it this way," Dawn intervened, a wicked grin on her face. "His goal is to become the world's greatest breeder."

    "Oh, that would explain it," Rey said, failing to noticing the double entendre as she began walking down the path with Dawn right behind her. May and Ash both rolled their eyes at each other as they followed, Pikachu on Ash's shoulder as usual.

    "How long do you think it will take for him to get to the Centre?" May asked Ash.

    "Probably about a minute," he answered with a laugh. He turned a corner and saw Dawn and Rey frozen in shock. A Rhydon stood in the middle of the path, Brock just in front of it. It snorted at them and flexed it's arms menacingly when Brock shuffled slightly to the side.

    "Rhydon," a voice called out, "I told you to stop them, but you weren't supposed to scare them." The Rhydon turned and they saw Noland walking up the path towards them, a cheery grin on his face. "Sorry about that," he said as he recalled his Pokemon. "We've had a devil of a job trying to find you. All of the press are still here believe it or not, and we've been hard pressed to keep them away from Pallet Town."

    "You mean the other Frontier Brains?" Ash asked. Noland nodded.

    "That's right. It's been a couple of days since that Rayquaza attacked and vanished, but because you went straight back to Pallet Town everyone still wants to know what happened to you. Half of the planet seems to think that you just disappeared into thin air!" Ash felt a sudden guilty surge.

    "What about Cynthia?" he asked. "I can't believe that I don't know this, but did she get out okay?"

    "Yeah, she's fine," he said. "She left the Colosseum when her last Pokemon was taken out by the Rayquaza, so she got out before it collapsed. She came straight to Viridian City. I can tell you that it's been a couple of very trying days for her; the press won't stop asking her about where she thinks you are, how she feels the match was going, etc. She's only stayed here as long as she has because we were all waiting for you to show up, and none of us knew how long that would be."

    "Why not just call his house?" Brock asked. "That would have been the easiest thing to do."

    "We tried, dozens of times," Noland explained. "The line was disconnected; we think that the Professor probably did that so that the press couldn't call, just to give you a couple of days peace from the media."

    "So how come you've all been looking for us?" Dawn asked.

    "Well, only Anabel, Lucy, and I have actually been trying to find you," Noland said. "Greta, Tucker, and Brandon have all been handling the press with Cynthia." He laughed. "It's a dream job for Tucker, I can tell you that! You know how much he loves the limelight. At the rate he's going, he'll have a talk show on every channel before the month is out!" His face grew serious. "But as to why we've been looking for you, it's so that we can get you into Viridian City as quietly as possible. I know it isn't ideal for secrecy, but the Pokemon Centre is the only place that we were able to book rooms at."

    "So how do we avoid the press?" Ash asked, frowning. He loved being a League Champion, but he absolutely hated the constant media coverage that seemed to follow him from town to town.

    "There's a passageway nobody knows about that goes straight to the Pokemon Centre. We'll use that so you can get there without anybody noticing. Tomorrow we'll call a press conference for you, and that will hopefully be the end of it."

    "Brilliant," Ash muttered. "More time to embarrass myself on camera." Noland laughed.

    "Don't worry, we'll keep it brief," he chuckled. "And we'll make sure that they all understand that you aren't going to let yourself be followed by news crews anymore." He casually threw a Poke Ball into the air, causing a brilliant green light to shoot straight upwards. He caught the Ball and laughed as he saw them all shielding their eyes.

    "That's just to let Anabel and Lucy know that I've found you," he explained.

    "How did you do that?" Brock asked curiously. "I've never seen a Poke Ball let out a green light before." Noland just shrugged.

    "You'd be surprised what Poke Balls can do," he said. "The technology behind them is incredible. How can such a small device hold something as large as a Gyarados or as heavy as a Snorlax without getting bigger and heavier? How come they can catch some living things like Pokemon, but not others like humans? How can a Poke Ball tell the difference between sending out a Pokemon to battle and sending out a Pokemon to be permanently released? How can they be transported over the Internet to another location with the Pokemon still inside?" His eyes gleamed.

    "Technology is incredible if you just take a look beneath the surface. I'm examining Poke Balls now. I've even been in contact with Silph Co, although they actually don't know that much about Poke Ball technology themselves. They were amazed when I told them my discovery about the green light. Imagine inventing something and not knowing how it worked, or what it's capable of doing!"

    "Scott really made the right decision when he made you the head of the Battle Factory," May laughed. Noland grinned.

    "What can I say? The man knows what makes people happy. Oh, hi Lucy."

    The Pike Queen stepped sedately out of the bushes, brushing a stray leaf off her tube top. She nodded to Noland and looked around the group. A very slight smile crossed her lips when she Rey, but she was distracted when Brock bounded forwards and clasped her hands as he bent on one knee.

    "Lucy, the days since I last saw you have seemed as barren as the surface of the moon. I've waited day and night to be at your side once again!" Lucy looked down at him, small red patches on her cheeks. "My Queen," he began, "I-" He let out a high-pitched scream and collapsed, twitching.

    Lucy stood rooted to the spot in surprise as the Pokemon that had just materialized behind Brock lowered it's arm, the purple palm fading back to the usual black. It looked at her and let out what sounded like a short chuckle before turning, grabbing Brock by the shirt, and dragging him into the bushes.

    "Croa... croa... croa..." it muttered as it re-emerged from the undergrowth.

    "Ummm, what was that all about?" Rey asked, feeling a little creeped out.

    "I told you that his goal was to be the world's greatest breeder," Dawn said with a wicked gin. Rey's eyes widened as she realized what Dawn had meant earlier.

    "So... he doesn't want to be a Pokemon breeder?" she asked faintly.

    "Oh, he wants to be that too," Dawn assured her. "He just wants to find a girlfriend first."

    "And you feel safe around him?"

    "Croagunk keeps him under control," Ash chuckled. "Besides, it's more of a personality quirk than anything else. Every time a girl has actually fallen for him, he realizes that she isn't the one for him."

    "So he just goes around falling in love with every girl he meets, hoping to find the right one?"

    "Yeah, that sounds about right," May laughed. Rey looked as if she was about to be sick; noticing this, May hastened to reassure her.

    "Don't worry," she said, "you get used to it pretty quickly."

    "Get used to what?" Anabel asked as she came around a corner in the path.

    "Brock," May answered, seeing Ash open his mouth to respond and feeling a twinge of jealousy.

    "He is a little unusual," Anabel laughed. "But you're right, you do get used to him quickly. You know, I was always a little offended that he never fell for me like that."

    "Well, that is because we all thought you were a boy," Ash laughed. Anabel winced, although only May and Lucy noticed it.

    "Yeah, no kidding," she muttered, looking down at the ground. Lucy quickly intervened.

    "Are we ready, Noland?" she asked.

    "We sure are," he grinned. "Dugtrio!" In a flash of red light, the ground-type appeared. "Dugtrio, we need you to dig us a way to that tunnel we found earlier."

    "Trio!" the Dugtrio acknowledged. It dug downwards and was quickly lost to view.

    "Wow, that Dugtrio's fast," Ash said admiringly.

    "It's still a fairly new capture, so it needs some training," Noland said. "It's definitely fast, but the attacks just aren't strong enough yet."

    "Here, you should try giving it some of my homemade Pokemon food," Brock said, reappearing suddenly in the midst of them and in perfect health. Everyone jumped at his appearance. "It's a recipe I started with my Onix and Geodude, and when my Mudkip evolved into Marshtomp I was able to perfect it. It's made specially for Ground-types."

    Recovering quickly from his shock, Noland reached out and took a proffered piece. He popped it into his mouth and chewed gingerly for a few moments. He swallowed and beamed. "That stuff is fantastic!" he exclaimed. "Brock, I think that food would be perfect for my Dugtrio. How much do you want for a bag of it?"

    "Take it, it's a gift," Brock said. "I don't make Pokemon food to make money; I do it because I know that the Pokemon enjoy it. I don't have any more of it on me, but as soon as we get to the Pokemon Centre I'll make a batch for you."

    "Thanks, Brock," Noland said, clapping him on the back gratefully.

    "Do you have any food for water-types?" Lucy asked, smiling at him. At the sound of her voice, Brock seemed to go into a dreamland.

    "Croa... croa... croa..." Croagunk exhaled as she raised an arm, the palm glowing purple. Brock started and moved smartly out of the way, fishing in his bag for a sample of the water-type food to give to the Pika Queen. Anabel rolled her eyes as the Dugtrio came barrelling back up the tunnel.

    "Trio!" it said proudly to Noland.

    "Great job, Dugtrio," he said, looking at the ground-type fondly. "Lead the way for us now."

    The Dugtrio moved down the tunnel, followed by Noland, Rey, Dawn, Anabel, Ash, Pikachu, May, Brock, a watchful Croagunk, and Lucy. The passageway sloped steeply downwards and they all had to move sideways to try and prevent themselves from falling over. Dawn stumbled and almost collided with Rey, but a watchful Anabel managed to steady her just in time.

    "We're here," Noland called, what seemed like hours later. He jumped down from the tunnel that Dugtrio had made and looked back; Rey was peering nervously downwards, looking too scared to move. "It's easy," he said to her reassuringly. "Just crouch when you land."

    "It's a ten foot drop," Rey said flatly. "There's no way that I'm jumping from something this high." Noland sighed and released his Venusaur.

    "Use Vine Whip to help her down," he said.

    "Saur," the Venusaur nodded, sending out a solitary vine which wrapped around Rey's waist. She gave a little squeal of shock as she felt herself lifted off of the ground.

    "No, no I don't like this! Put me down, put me down!" she began to scream hysterically, struggling so hard against Venusaur that it was forced to send out another vine to secure her. The moment her flailing legs came into contact with the ground they buckled and she collapsed, shivering, her eyes wide and unseeing.

    "Venusaur, help the rest of them down," Norman said as he hurried over to Rey in concern. Dawn looked at Rey curiously as she was lifted down with Anabel; the ride didn't seem that bad to her. She watched Noland speaking to Rey quietly as Ash, Pikachu, May, Brock, and Lucy were all lifted down.

    "Where are we?" May asked. Dawn tore her gaze away from Noland and Rey and realized that they were in what seemed to be a large stone tunnel. The passageway was fairly wide, but the air seemed slightly dank. She reached out to touch a wall and found that it was damp with some kind of moss.

    "This is a tunnel. It was built many years ago," Lucy said. Seeing the confusion on everyone's faces, Anabel decided to elaborate.

    "It was built by the Kentou forces during the last of the Cyas Wars," she explained. "You all know about those, right?" The group looked at each other and shook their heads simultaneously. Anabel sighed.

    "The Cyas Wars involved the armies of four regions," she said. "Kentou, Shannah, Gotou, and Whoeen. All four were fighting for one goal; not for land, or money, or slaves, but for a Pokemon so strong it was said to be the ultimate Pokemon. Few had ever seen it, and yet everyone was convinced of it's existence. It's name was Cyas. Every region wanted to be the one who possessed this powerful Pokemon. And so they all declared war on each other, under the impression that whoever won the war would be able to control Cyas.

    "It was the bloodiest set of wars that the world had ever seen," she said, shaking her head. "There were three of them; each time one region was defeated one war ended and another began. The first region to be defeated was Whoeen. They were said to have the strongest army, but Kentou, Shannah, and Gotou signed a truce that would last until Whoeen was defeated. When that region fell the truce ended, and they turned on each other again.

    "Shannah was the next region to fall, defeated violently by the Kentou forces. At the conclusion of the second war, though, Kentou had lost a considerable amount of it's army. Gotou seized it's chance and invaded the Kentou region. They had thousands more fighters than the Kentou army, and drove them back. Somehow, they managed to separate the Kentou forces into two separate bodies; one fled north to defend the home of their ruler, Cameron Castle. The other was forced south to Veredeen.

    "In the battle to the north, the red Kentou forces did their best to hold Cameron Castle from the green Gotou army. Despite a moment of friendly-fire in which some of the red forces accidentally attacked one of their own who was clad in the blue-black tunic of Shannah, they managed to hold off Gotou. Still, the Kentou forces were about to fall when in the distance a magnificent light arose and spread over the battlefield; believing it to be the wrath of Cyas over their actions, both Kentou and Gotou dropped their weapons and walked away in peace.

    "The light did not spread as far south as Veredeen however; here the Kentou army was badly outnumbered. To compensate they built tunnels for cover in a attempt at defeating the enemy through a hit-and-run tactic. The tunnel plans succeeded, and many Gotou lost their lives. Suffering from a heavy loss of life, and having just received word from the northern body of the mutual surrender, the Gotou forces retreated from Veredeen.

    "The Cyas Wars ended with no victor, and Cyas itself was never seen. As time passed and language changed, most names were altered. Kentou was what is now Kanto; Gotou was Johto, Whoeen became Hoenn, and Shannah changed to Sinnoh. Having never been seen since the Wars, the legend of Cyas faded into obscurity. This tunnel was one of those built by the Kentou army. Professor Alden, a renowned archaeologist, discovered it a couple of years ago."

    "Wow," May said. "I never knew that Hoenn used to be at war with Kanto. Does that mean that Ash and I are natural enemies?" Anabel couldn't help smiling.

    "Only if you want to be," she chuckled. "The Cyas Wars were the last in our world's history, and they ended over 500 years ago. There's been peace ever since."

    "Come on guys," Rey called, seemingly recovered from her fright. "Let's get going, this tunnel is giving me the creeps."

    "Where does it go anyways?" Brock asked as they set off, with Noland in the lead.

    "It actually goes into the basement of the Pokemon Centre," Noland said. "Just before Professor Alden was called in, Nurse Joy found out that the basement floor was sinking in one spot. She called in Flint from Pewter City to repair it, and that was when they discovered the tunnel underneath. At that point, Nurse Joy called in Professor Alden."

    He stopped in what seemed to be just another stretch of tunnel and looked up, where a thin square of light filtered down. He turned to his Venusaur and nodded. The Venusaur reached up with another Vine Whip and knocked the square aside.

    "Who's first?" Noland asked.

    "I'll go," Brock volunteered, and he was quickly hoisted up by Venusaur.

    "Rey?" Noland asked.

    "Not me!" Rey yelped, backtracking into Ash.

    "You have to go up sometime, Rey," Dawn pointed out. Rey's eyes were wide with fear again.

    "I thought there'd be stairs, and I'd rather stay down here if there aren't any," she murmured, beginning to shake. Noland sighed and looked at his Venusaur.

    "Use Sweet Scent," he said. Seconds later Rey relaxed and slumped against Ash, her eyes half-closed as her head lolled against his chest.

    Ash was glad that the darkness shielded the glare from May that he could feel on his back. He breathed a silent sigh of relief when Venusaur lifted her up and Brock had dragged her from the vines into the basement. Ash volunteered to go next, and was surprised to see that Rey had already recovered from the calming scents.

    At last they were all in the Pokemon Centre's basement; Noland recalled Venusaur and carefully pushed the floor square back in place. "Lead the way, Lucy," he said. The silent Frontier Brain nodded her head and lead the way up to the main floor.

    She looked around for a moment, trying to find the hallway she wanted. She then quickly led them down one hallways, around a corner, through the emergency room which held a badly injured Meowth, down another hallway, and finally into the lobby.

    Lucy stopped short in surprise at the scene before her. Curious about what was happening, they all filed out behind her and gaped.

    An enraged Tyranitar stood by the counter, blood on it's arms and a discarded Poke Ball at it's feet. Nurse Joy stood in between it and it's trainer, trying to stop the massive Pokemon from attacking the young man.

    "Tyranitar, please stop," she begged. The Tyranitar simply roared and tried to slash over her shoulder at the trainer, who dodged backwards.

    "Cruz, stop!" he pleaded. The Tyranitar lunged again, forcing it's trainer back again; this time he hit the wall. He looked for a way out but realized that he was trapped. Visible hate shone out from the out-of-control Tyranitar's eyes as it knocked a desperate Nurse Joy across the room. She screamed in pain as she slammed against the wall and fell, motionless.

    Ash reacted without thinking; in a flash, Sceptile had been called out and a devastating Leaf Blade connected with the back of the Tyranitar's head. Distracted, the larger Rock-type whirled and slammed a surprise Dynamic Punch into Sceptile's throat. The grass-type screeched as it flew backwards, barely managing to land on it's feet.

    "Bullet Seed and then Leaf Blade again!" Ash roared.

    Sceptile unleashed a barrage of glowing seeds as it began to run towards the Tyranitar; Growling viciously, the Tyranitar conjured up a Stone Edge; the series of small stones burst form under the floorboards and soared towards the Bullet Seed where it collided. Both attacks shattered on impact, unleashing clouds of dust. Through it Sceptile leaped, it's left arm blade elongated and glowing bright green. It connected with the Tyranitar's defensive Dynamic Punch; both Pokemon held their positions, glaring into each other's eyes.

    The Tyranitar balled it's other fist and swung again; Sceptile countered by using Leaf Blade with the other arm. Again, both attacks collided and the Pokemon held their positions. Sparks began to fly from the first impact as both Pokemon had their energy drained from the fused attacks.

    "Pound attack!" Ash shouted. Sceptile wrenched it's right arm free and twisted his body; the Dynamic Punch whistled past Sceptile's ear. The grass-type kept turning and felt his massive tail connect with Tyranitar's head. The rock-type crashed to the ground face first.

    "Leaf Blade again!" Both arms began glowing again and Sceptile leaped into the air above Tyranitar. The rock-type turned, just in time to see two streaks of green lights slash over it's face. With one last final grunt of pain, the Tyranitar fell still. Sceptile landed awkwardly on all fours, just beyond the downed Tranitar.

    "Sceptile!" Ash yelled, running over to the injured and exhausted grass-type. "Sceptile, are you okay?"

    "Tile," Sceptile reassured him, reaching over to a nearby plant pot and snapping off a twig to place in it's mouth.

    "Nurse Joy!" Brock shouted, running over to the slumped woman. She moaned slightly in her unconsciousness and her head dropped another inch. Croagunk burst from it's Poke Ball, ready to stab Brock with a Poison Jab; seeing the situation at hand, it halted the attack and jabbed at a Poke Ball on Brock's belt instead, recalling itself.

    Dawn marched over to the Tyranitar's stunned trainer, glaring daggers at him.

    "What's wrong with you?" she shouted. "Can't you even control your Pokemon?"

    "I don't know how it happened," the trainer protested. "I found a Meowth in the forest that had been hurt real bad. I caught it and asked Tyranitar to bring it here. It didn't want to, but it took it here anyways. As soon as I came in, it just started to attack me!"

    "That still doesn't explain why you can't control your Pokemon!" Dawn yelled. "Just look at all of the damage it's done!" She gestured around the ruined reception area; the desk was broken in half, and the damaged computer was sparking menacingly. There were scorch marks on the walls, and the floor was ripped open, revealing dirt and rock from when the Tyranitar had used Stone Edge. There were even a few cracks in the wall from when Nurse Joy had been slammed into the wall.

    "What kind of trainer are you?" she screamed, working herself into a real fury.

    "Dawn, that's enough," Ash snapped. She stopped her tirade, surprised at the harshness of his tone. Then she glared at him and vented some of her fury out on him too.

    "No, it's not enough!" she burst out. "You don't even know what you're talking about, you've never had a Pokemon ignore you before! I have with Buizel, but I learned how to control it after a couple of days; this thing evolved into Tyranitar and it still doesn't listen. The trainer doesn't have an excuse for-"

    "The trainer has every excuse!" Ash retaliated angrily. "When a Pokemon evolves it's personality changes. It can go from respecting it's trainer to hating it's trainer in a matter of minutes! That isn't the trainer's fault."

    "How would you know?" she yelled. "You've never been in that situation! You've never had a Pokemon hate you! If the Pokemon suddenly hates the trainer, then it must be because of what that trainer did to the Pokemon before it evolved."

    "Charizard!" Ash yelled, throwing his Poke Ball. The fire-type roared as it appeared, looking for it's opponent. "Use Flamethrower on the hole in the floor!" Ash ordered. Charizard blinked in confusion but followed his directions without question.

    "Now use Steel Wing on that plant to slice off a twig for Sceptile to use!" Ash told it. Again, Charizard was confused but he used the attack readily. "Good," Ash said. "Thank you, Charizard." He turned to Dawn.

    "What does that have to-" Dawn began, but Ash interrupted her.

    "I caught a Charmander that had been abandoned by it's original trainer. As time passed Charmander got stronger, and we became incredibly close. When my Charmander evolved into Charmeleon, it wouldn't do anything I asked," he said. "It got even worse when it evolved into Charizard. I treated it as well as I could, but for some reason it just suddenly hated me. I lost in the Indigo League because of it, and it even let Team Rocket kidnap Pikachu just because it was hungry!" Charizard looked uneasily down at the ground, scuffing it's feet. Dawn stood there with her mouth open, her face reddening in embarrasement.

    "I know exactly what this trainer is going through because it's happened to me too," Ash continued. "It's happened three times in fact, and one of the other two was Pikachu!" He looked sideways at the Tyranitar's trainer. "The trainer can't be blamed if the Pokemon suddenly hates it; but the trainer does have to realize that it's their responsibility to get the Pokemon to trust them." The trainer took this as his cue. He stood up and proffered a hand to Ash.

    "Good to see you again, Ash," he said. "I haven't seen you since we were both in the Whirl Islands."

    "Hello, Ritchie," Ash said unsmilingly.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So this chapter had a freaked-out Rey, Croagunk, a history lesson, Croagunk, Ritchie, and Croagunk. Not too bad for one chapter I guess. How many of you realized that the mystery trainer in Chapter 11 was Ritchie? And I wonder what Cyas is...

  13. #28
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    I figured I'd spoil everyone with a double upload this time, =P

    Chapter 20: Recapture


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    400 years ago...

    The man stared at the cowering peasant that lay in front of him with his forehead touching the ground. Pure anger shone from his eyes as he looked disdainfully down. His guards on either side both shifted nervously as they felt his dark aura pulsing. It had not been long since their king came to power, but already the evil that corrupted his heart was beginning to lay claim over the castle courtyard.

    "Rise," the king commanded, his voice filled with menace. Trembling, the peasant slowly stood, looking into his lord's eyes. Any hope of forgiveness was vanquished the moment that he stared into those soulless orbs. The king smashed the back of his hand against the peasant's face, his bejewelled fingers scoring deeply against the flesh. The peasant reeled momentarily but kept his position.

    "Please, my Lord..." he whispered. "Please... I have done my best..."

    "You have done nothing but fail," the king snapped. "Your time here is over. Guard!" The man on the left snapped to attention and saluted the king. "Take him to the Stark Pit!" the king commanded. The guard paled, but he saluted again and dragged the stunned peasant away.

    The king swept around and walked back to his throne. Settling himself imperiously upon it, he glared majestically down at his court. Not one of them managed to suppress a shudder as his eyes swept over them. Seeing them flinch, the king grinned to himself. As it should be, he thought.

    "What news of the war?" he asked casually.

    "My Lord," one man said, stepping forwards. "I bring news from the north. Cameron Castle was successfully defended by the Kentou forces."

    "Damn them!" the king gritted, smashing a fist onto his chair arm.

    "The Gotou army and the Kentou forces both surrendered to each other. The word is that a Ho-Oh passed over the battle, spreading a light as it passed that prevented both armies from continuing the battle."

    "HO-OH!" the king roared, leaping from his seat. He strode forwards, grabbing the hapless man by the neck of his tunic. "Are you sure that it was Ho-Oh?"

    "My Lord, I can only report what others have t-"

    "Was it a Ho-Oh or wasn't it?" the king shrieked.

    "It was, my Lord," the man gasped. The king dropped the man and paced angrily across the room, muttering darkly to himself.

    "Ho-Oh again. It always appears to destroy my plans, the moment when they are about to come to fruition. No, this is the last straw! I will not take this anymore!" He whirled and the court fell back as they felt his evil spirit seem to flow across them.

    "I want Ho-Oh found and captured!" he ordered. "Bring it back here, and we shall see just how powerful it is. Ho-Oh will regret the day that it crossed the king of Pokelantis!"


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Present Day...

    Paul peered through the thick brush of Petalburg Forest, trying to spot a sign of his quarry.

    "Come here Celebi," he hissed quietly as he spotted a shadow moving slowly along the forest floor. He smiled as he realized that there was no Pokemon on the ground; this could be either a flying-type... or a Celebi. Without taking his eyes off of the shadow, he reached down to his belt and drew out a ball.

    "Paul, just what's the big idea?" James demanded as he came crashing through the underbrush. "I asked you if we could have a quick break five minutes ago and you said no, but now you're just sitting in the bushes!"

    "Idiot!" Paul roared as he bolted towards the shadow.

    "Wheee," the surprised Wheezing moaned as it turned to see the angry Paul charging right at it with James following close behind. The moment that he caught a glimpse of the Pokemon, Paul threw the ball in reflex. It smashed into the Wheezing, enveloping the poison-type in red light. The light shattered and the ball rolled away, coming to rest at Paul's feet.

    Paul looked down at the Poke Ball, feeling simultaneously furious and relieved; furious that he had accidentally grabbed a regular Poke Ball instead of the Dark Ball, and relieved that he hadn't wasted his only Dark Ball on the Wheezing. He snorted as he stooped and picked up the Poke Ball, looking at the Wheezing in distaste.

    "Only a Wheezing... what a waste," he muttered, turning away. "Come on, James."

    "Sure," James said, following Paul slowly but looking over his shoulder at the Pokemon.

    "Wheezing whee," the Pokemon called, floating after them. James stopped moving and Paul turned in frustration. He was stunned at what he saw. The Wheezing had approached James and actually appeared to be trying to hug him with it's gaseous body, tears streaming from its four eyes.

    "I... I don't believe it," James whispered.

    "James, move it," Paul repeated impatiently, but the blue-haired trainer didn't seem to hear. Gritting his teeth in frustration, Paul walked over the grabbed James by the arm. "Leave it. You saw what happened, my Poke Ball bounced right off. It belongs to someone else and can't be captured. My father may be the head of Team Rocket, but I don't steal other people's Pokemon. Now let's go, we have a Celebi to catch."

    "But," James began. Paul's temper snapped.

    "But nothing!" he roared, spraying James with flecks of spit. "It can't be captured. You want to see the Poke Ball fail again? Watch!" He snatched a random Poke Ball from James's belt and threw it hard at the Wheezing. The ball made contact and a red glow spread over the poison-type. The Wheezing was called inside and the ball bounced back to James. Paul stood rooted.

    "What just happened?" he asked quietly.

    "Wheezing," James whispered, his eyes shining. "Wheezing, it is you!"

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Oish! Ready for the conference, Ash?" Greta asked with a grin.

    "No," Ash replied, rolling his eyes.

    "Hey, don't let Tucker hear that! He'll try to answer every question himself," Greta laughed.

    "I wouldn't mind that," Ash muttered.

    "Oh, I doubt that very much," Cynthia said calmly, striding towards them.

    "Cynthia!" Ash yelped in surprise.

    "Good to see you, too," Cynthia grinned. "Now look, I know that you really don't want to do this interview, but the press won't leave you alone until you do it. At least here the Frontier Brains and I will be able to do it with you."

    "She's right, oish!" Greta agreed. "Now come on, the press is waiting."

    "Where are the other Brains?" Ash asked.

    "They're already in the conference room," Cynthia answered. "All of your travelling companions are with the public, behind the press."

    "I guess we should go then, huh?" Ash asked, looking at Pikachu who was perched on his shoulder as usual.

    "Pika," Pikachu agreed, nodding his head.

    Cynthia smiled at the pair and then moved to the side to let Greta through. The Champion followed the Arena Tycoon, and Ash fell in step behind them. He blinked as dozens of bright lights suddenly flashed in front of him, and the accompanying clamour of voices each trying to make themselves heard made his ears hurt. He turned his head away slightly and followed Cynthia to his chair. He sat down with Cynthia on his left, and he looked to see Anabel on his right.

    "Good to see you again, Ash," Anabel smiled, patting his arm. "I heard about that battle in the Pok-"

    She was interrupted by a relative flurry of flashes; Ash groaned inwardly as he saw the reporters in the very front row pushing forwards, taking seemingly endless amounts of pictures, and all trying to make their question the one that was heard. Just behind them Ash saw the second row of reporters shaking their heads disapprovingly at the ones in front. "Paparazzi, lowest of the low," Ash lip-read one of them muttering as they looked down at their notes.

    "Ketchum! What is your relationship with Salon Maiden Anabel?" one of the paparazzi yelled.

    "Mr. Ketchum, how long has this been going on?" another shouted.

    "Mr Ketchum! Mr. Ketchum!" more clamoured. Ash sat there dumbfounded, Anabel clearly embarrassed, neither of them knowing what to do or say until...

    "CHUUU!" Pikachu roared, a massive burst of electricity erupting skywards, where it hit the roof and dissipated. The paparazzi were silenced immediately.

    "Yes, well," Brandon coughed, leaning into his microphone. "This conference has been called to deal with any and all questions that the press has regarding the events of the battle that was interrupted, and only this event." He glared at the paparazzi and even the most defiant were cowed, although several still wrote quickly in their notebooks.

    "Ash and Cynthia will answer any questions that you direct towards them, as shall the Frontier Brains. At the conclusion of this conference, neither Ash, Cynthia, nor any other involved party expects to be questioned about the matter any further. Now, without further ado, I would like to call forwards our moderator, for lack of a better term. Dome Ace Tucker, if you please?"

    "Thank you, Brandon," Tucker grinned as he leapt forwards. He paused for emphasis and the audience leaned in expectantly. "Any questions?" he asked and the audience sagged with disappointment, having expected him to make some sort of shocking and sweeping statement.

    "Mr. Ketchum, we all saw your first few Pokemon choices; what others had you selected for the battle?" one woman asked, taking advantage of the lull.

    "That's not something I can answer," Ash said. "I'm sure you can understand, since my opponent is sitting next to me. When we schedule a rematch, you'll see what they were."

    "Do you plan on using the same Pokemon?" a man asked.

    "That depends on how we do the battle," Ash answered. "If it's a fresh start then probably not. If we just go from where we left off when we were interrupted, then yes I'll use the same Pokemon."

    "Cynthia, same question?" the man asked.

    "My answer is the same as Ash's," Cynthia responded.

    "What's your opinion on how you were faring in the battle?" a woman asked Cynthia, who shrugged.

    "Every battle creates different situations," she said evasively. "Ash certainly had the upper hand at one point, but several of his Pokemon had been badly hurt. I don't want to sound vain, but it probably wouldn't have taken much effort from a fresh Pokemon to knock each of those out to even the battle score."

    "Ash, what will happen to the Battle Colosseum?" another woman asked.

    "As a Frontier Brain, I really hope that it'll be rebuilt," Ash answered. "I'd like it if the rematch could be held there too, but that all depends on how quickly it gets rebuilt."

    "What are you going to do in the meantime?" a newspaper reporter asked.

    "I'll be training with my Pokemon in the field," Ash answered.

    "Where?" one paparazzi demanded. Ash eyed him.

    "Anywhere that isn't close to a member of the paparazzi," he said coldly. Several newspaper and television reporters laughed appreciatively.

    "What's your relationship with Anabel?" the paparazzi pressed.

    "This is not relevant to the conference," Lucy interjected.

    "It's relevant if I say it is," the paparazzi snapped insolently. "Well?" he demanded aggressively. Without bothering to respond, Ash lightly threw two Poke Balls into the air. In twin bursts of light, Gallade appeared alongside a tall simian that was wreathed in flames and appeared to be dressed in war paint; Infernape. Without waiting for a command from Ash, they both headed towards the paparazzi member, grabbed him by the arms, and dragged the struggling busybody from the tent.

    "Any more questions?" Ash asked calmly.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Paul gritted his teeth and threw his Poketch to the ground in fury.

    "That... pompous... arrogant... son of a..." he ranted. James watched in surprise.

    Moments ago, Paul had gotten a call from his father (James had ducked out of the video screen's sight as a precaution). Paul had spoken briefly and then tuned in to a wireless TV channel that was broadcasting the twerp's press conference, live. Watching it, James thought that the twerp had handled himself maturely; apparently Paul thought differently.

    "What's the big deal about the twerp?" James asked. "Why do you hate him so much?"

    "Because he's WEAK!" Paul shouted angrily. "Someone like him should never have gotten where he is today! I beat him every time we ever battled! Every time! And then he manages to beat me once, and the press are all over him and he's hailed as some sort of 'master'." He roared and smashed his fist into a nearby tree angrily. Dislodged by the impact, a light green stone fell from the branches and landed at his feet.

    "What's that?" James asked curiously as he looked at the stone, noticing that it was a perfect rectangle.

    "I- I don't know," Paul answered as he stared down at it. The stone was fairly large, about two feet long and over an inch thick. He reached down and picked it up, wiping off some moss that had grown over the surface. "The rightful bearer of a Plate draws from the Plate it holds," he read aloud. He snorted and dropped it, trudging off again.

    "Come on, James," he said. "We've still got a Celebi to find and catch." James hesitated for a moment before picking up the plate. He was surprised at how light it was considering it's size. He tucked it under his shirt and ran off after Paul.

  14. #29
    Sig By Blue Dragon Ino-Chan's Avatar
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    So, Chimchar evoled and Weezing came back.

    Any way, is the Meowth, THE TR Meowth or what?

  15. #30
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar Retired Staff
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    Good timing with your question, Ephraim! We find out this chapter...

    I hope that you all enjoy it; I think it's my favourite so far (but not for the Advanceshipping at the end)

    Chapter 21: Beginning


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    His eyes snapped open. They roved around the room, taking in the clean stainless steel surfaces and the comfy beds of varying sizes. He sniffed the air in trepidation and scented disinfectant. A Pokemon Centre, he realized.

    He sat up and swooned almost immediately as waves of dizziness and nausea crashed through his brain. "Ouch," he moaned as ripples of pain shot through his body.

    "So, you're finally awake," he heard a voice say. He turned and saw who had spoken; a trainer dressed in the most ludicrous green outfit that he had ever seen.

    "How long have I been out?" he asked the trainer. The trainer jerked back in surprise.

    "You can talk! Wow, I can't believe it, a talking Meowth!"

    Meowth glared at the trainer. "Hey! Maybe I kin talk, but dat don't mean I like bein' ignored! Who are you, and how'd I get here?"

    "My name's Ritchie," the trainer answered. "I was walking through Viridian Forest when I found you. You were out cold and really badly hurt. You were alone, so I thought maybe a Fearow had attacked you or something and your pack had abandoned you. The only way I could get you here on time was by capturing you." Meowth's eyes widened in horror.

    "You... you caught me?" he asked faintly. Ritchie nodded.

    "Yeah, and my Tyranitar brought you here."

    "No way, nuh-uh, I ain't no Pokee-ball Pokemon!" Meowth snapped. "You gotta let me go!"

    "Let you go?" Ritchie asked, completely taken aback. "Why would I do that? You could be a great member of my team; maybe you'll even evolve into a Persian!"

    "I ain't ever evolvin'," Meowth shrieked. He broke down into tears. "What'll Jessie n' James do widout me? I can't be a Pokee-ball Pokemon, I can't!"

    "Jessie and James?" Ritchie said slowly, screwing up his face in concentration. "Wait, I remember some people with those names. They were from Team Rocket and tried to capture a Lugia. And..." his voice trailed off and he looked at Meowth with a hard expression. "And they had a talking Meowth," he finished.

    "Dat would be me," Meowth glared back. "We didn' even want dat Lugia, we just didn' want Cassidy n' Botch ta steal it foist."

    "Well that settles it," Ritchie declared. "There's no way that I'm going to release you. Not until I teach you how to be good, anyways."

    "Dat's inhuman!" Meowth shouted angrily.

    "Good thing you're a Pokemon, then," Ritchie said bluntly. He raised a Poke Ball.

    "Don't you dare," Meowth warned.

    "Meowth, return!" Ritchie commanded, pressing the button in the centre. A red beam of light shot out from the ball and collided with Meowth. He screamed as the paralysing effects of the beam enveloped him and he was drawn back into the Poke Ball.

    Ritchie lowered his arm and stared at the Poke Ball clasped in his hand. He felt sick inside, and his heart was pounding. He delicately lowered himself into a nearby chair, never once taking his eyes off of Meowth's ball. What have I done? he wondered. Is... is this why Cruz refuses to listen to me, why it attacks me? What right do I have to keep a creature captive if it wants to be free?

    He shuddered, but placed the Poke Ball on his belt. Even though Meowth clearly didn't want to be a part of his team, he would work with the Pokemon until he came to accept Ritchie as his trainer. He knew that all of those years in Team Rocket must have corrupted the Pokemon somehow, but he felt confident that he could reach the good in it's heart. He'd start in Pewter City.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash stepped outside of the conference building and took several deep breaths. He felt distinctly glad that he'd asked Gallade and Infernape to remove anybody who was causing a problem at the conference, but he felt a little ashamed too. Did he really have to resort to using his Pokemon as bodyguards?

    "Ash?" he heard someone ask. He turned and saw Anabel standing at the doorway uncertainly.

    "Oh, hey Anabel," he said. "Man, those paparazzi really get annoying, huh?"

    "Tell me about it," Anabel said, shaking her head ruefully. "It didn't stop when the conference ended either. All of the paparazzi surrounded me the second that you left and started asking me the most ridiculous questions you can answer." Ash shook his head in disgust.

    "I guess some people have nothing better to do than spin lies about other people's lives," he said bitterly. "All my life I've wanted to be a Pokemon Master. I've caught, trained, and become friends with my Pokemon, all just to follow my dream." He gestured back in the direction of the conference room. "My dream never involved that."

    "There are always a few hurdles in our paths," Anabel said. "Being a Frontier Brain doesn't get you as much publicity as a League Champion, or even a Gym Leader if you consider Juan, but there's enough of it to make your life stressful. We all handle it in different ways. Tucker can't get enough of the media attention, that's why he asked Scott to build the Battle Dome in a city. But on the other hand there's me, and I just can't stand the publicity. That's why I built the Battle Tower as far into the wilderness as you can get."

    "You prefer the wild to civilization?" Ash asked mischievously. Anabel smiled impishly.

    "Maybe, but I'm not a total outcast! I just prefer the quiet of the forest."

    "I hear that," Ash said quietly. He looked around at the sight of Viridian City in distaste. The air seemed to cling to the skin and felt gritty, not fresh. Several pieces of litter dotted the area; as he watched, a passing teenager threw a half-empty water bottle carelessly at a garbage can. It clanged off the side and rolled to a halt at Ash's feet. He watched as the clear liquid seeped out onto the pavement and turned a deep shade of brown as it collected all of the grime stuck to the street.

    "Give me a forest or a field any day," he muttered.

    "Now that you've spoken to the press, where are you planning on going?" Anabel asked.

    "Vermillion City, I think," Ash said. "Brock's brother, Forrest, is there training at the moment, and I think that Rey wants to have a practice battle with him. After that we can catch a Vermillion ferry to Canalave City in Sinnoh. How about you?"

    "Oh, I was just going to head home to the Battle Tower," Anabel said softly. Ash looked at her curiously. She seemed almost disappointed about something, but he couldn't think why. "You know," Anabel began, "Tohjo Falls actually runs north to the ocean. There's a little port town up there that almost nobody has heard of, and it's a quick ferry ride from there to Canalave. It'll probably save you quite a bit of time since you won't have to circle Kanto, and it's really untamed wilderness up there with lots of strong wild Pokemon."

    "Thanks Anabel," Ash said, "but I think I'm still going to go to Vermillion City."

    Anabel looked at him, crestfallen. Her heart pounded, but she didn't know what else she could say to try and change his mind. She would never admit it out loud but she really did care about Ash, in a deeper way than mere friendship. She knew that several people including Brandon (and probably half the planet now that the paparazzi had gotten involved) had guessed her feelings, but she did her best to keep them under wraps.

    Ash looked at her carefully. Although she had never said anything, he had long ago guessed her true feelings. He knew that she couldn't help it, and inwardly he admired her ability to hide how she felt. Of all the Frontier Brains, Anabel was the one he felt closest to. And maybe, in an alternate timeline, he'd have felt something more for her than he did, but...

    But he loved May. It had taken him several years to realize it, but now that he had he couldn't stop thinking about her. He wanted to be with her, not Anabel. He knew that it would destroy Anabel if he openly mentioned this to her, so he had tried to keep some distance between them recently.

    Too much distance, he realized. I haven't spent any time with Anabel for a couple of months. I could blame that on all of the training, but it's no excuse to shun her. Heck, I've been with Scott more often than Anabel, and he's been in Johto for two months now. He looked down at the ground uncomfortably. Anabel spent a lot of time at the Battle Tower, but the Battle Frontier didn't exactly get a lot of challengers despite it's prestige. Most trainers were too obsessed with the more famous regional leagues to spend any time challenging other championships. She must get really lonely out there, he realized, and he felt even more ashamed.

    He knew that Anabel considered him one of her closest friends, more so than any of the other Frontier Brains. He also knew that it was probably all down to an age difference, since the other five Frontier Brains were all at least ten years older than Anabel. It's more than that, he thought. I don't have any issues connecting with the other Brains, but Anabel does. He sighed. It was all down to personality; where he was outgoing, she was introverted. She couldn't connect to the others because she was just too shy with the age difference.

    She doesn't have many friends, and one of the only ones that she does has been shunning her. I feel so angry with myself because of that. Keeping a safe distance is one thing, but ignoring altogether... He looked up at Anabel. She was staring at a fixed point in the distance unblinkingly. Ash felt sure that she was holding back tears. It would make her so happy if we just spent one night at the Battle Tower, he thought. I can't deny her that.

    "Tell you what," he said, breaking the long silence. "I'm still going to go to Vermillion City, for Brock's and Rey's sake. Plus, there's a friend there that I want to check in on too. But I promise this; once we're done in Vermillion City, we'll come back and go to Tohjo Falls. I just can't resist the chance to see all of those wild Pokemon." Anabel looked at him in surprise.

    "Really?" she asked.

    "I can't miss the chance to spend some more time with one of my friends, can I?" Ash grinned. Anabel smiled, and Ash realized just how long it had been since he had seen her so happy. Inside, he still felt horrible about his recent treatment to her, but he was glad that he still had the chance to mend any damage he had done.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "At last!" Paul shouted triumphantly, bursting from the shrubbery. The Celebi whirled in surprise. It eyed the lavender-haired trainer in puzzlement. Then it's eyes fell on the black sphere in the trainer's hands; they widened. That ball was all too familiar to Celebi. It turned and made to escape, but Paul was ready.

    "Mismagius, Mean Look!" he shouted. The Mismagius emerged from the shadows; Celebi was flying straight for it and had no chance to avoid looking in it's eyes. Twin pupiled purple orbs floated through the air from the Mismagius and sank into Celebi's eyes. The legendary Pokemon desperately tried to teleport away, but to no avail.

    "Dark Ball! Go!" Paul barked, throwing the ball at the Celebi. Celebi screamed as the ball made contact and it was sucked inside by a navy light; the ball rolled once and then clicked. Paul then did something very rare for him. He laughed. From the nearby bushes, James shuddered at the sound. He had never heard a laugh sound so cold-hearted and evil before. Still, he had to admit; Paul's strategy of sending out Mismagius ahead of time in anticipation of Celebi trying to escape had worked wonders.

    "James!" Paul barked, halting his laughter abruptly.

    "Yes?" James asked nervously, moving into the open. Paul's eyes bored into him coldly.

    "We're finished here," he said. "It's time to go back to Rocket Headquarters." James paled.

    "Will... will the boss let me live?" he asked hesitantly.

    "Who knows," Paul said, shrugging uncaringly. "That's for him to decide. I'll put in a word for you, but to be honest, a couple of days work doesn't exactly make up for ten years of incompet-." He paused as his Poketch vibrated in his pocket. Grimacing in annoyance, he fished it out and punched in a few buttons.

    "Text message," he muttered as he read the screen. His eyes narrowed and he stuffed the Poketch back into his pocket, along with the Dark Ball. "Right, change of plan," he said, stretching his legs. "We've got a stop to make on the way back."

    "Where?" James asked.

    "Azalea Town," Paul answered. He set off at a run through the forest. Sighing, James shifted the plate under his shirt so that it rested more comfortably against his stomach, and then followed Paul into the undergrowth.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "So you're telling me that instead of travelling on a luxury cruise ship, we have to struggle through a heck of a lot of untamed wilderness, fighting off all of these wild Pokemon?" May asked, her arms crossed and her foot tapping the ground as she leaned against a wall.
    "Uh.. yeah, that's pretty much it," Ash said from his bed with a nervous grin.

    "And why exactly do we want to do that?" she asked. Ash sighed and looked around the Pokemon Centre bedroom where Brock, May, Rey, and himself were staying, trying to come up with an answer.

    "It's been a long time since I was in the field; and I mean actually out training where there aren't many people. I'm tired of being stuck near cities and being mobbed by the press and hundreds of fans. It won't be any different on the boat than it is here in Viridian."

    "At least on the boat you have a shower and a bed," May pointed out. "Besides, what's wrong with training in the forest on the way to Vermillion?"

    "It's still too close to the city," Ash said. He paused and tried to think of the best way to word how he was feeling. "It's not... it's not pure enough," he finished.

    "Pure enough?" May asked. "What do you mean by that?"

    "Vermillion's only a day or two away from Viridian. The route's pretty busy, and you're never far away from all of the city grime, even if you take Diglett's Cave. I want to feel a clean breeze. I want to walk through forests, not parks. I want to see clear streams, not sewer lines." His voice had a pleading note in it, and May sighed relentingly.

    "Okay then, Ash, it's fine by me if we go north through Tohjo Falls." Then she smiled. "I can understand how you feel. I love the city, but after spending so much time travelling I just get urges to spend some time away from the cities too."

    "Thanks, May," Ash smiled back, giving her a quick hug. There was a shattering sound and Ash and May leapt back, their faces both scarlet. Dawn looked back at them, a broken glass of juice at her feet.

    "Oops," she said, beginning to blush. "Umm, sorry... I think I'll just go over here now," she indicated, pointing in the direction of the lobby. Ash groaned and held his head, collapsing back to his bed.

    "Brilliant," he muttered. May giggled, and he turned to look at her in exasperation. "What?" he asked.

    "Your face,' she grinned. "You look so embarrassed!"

    "I'm not surprised," he muttered. "Now Dawn's going to think that there's something going on between us."

    "Maybe there is," May said without thinking. A full ten seconds of silence passed in which Ash and May just looked at each other. As she realized what she had said, May's cheeks began to resemble the shade of ripe tomatoes. She felt sure that somebody could have toasted bread on them if they wanted to at that moment.

    "Do you... do you really mean that, May?" Ash asked quietly.

    "Well... yeah. I wouldn't have said it if I didn't, Ash," she responded.

    "Wow, this is kinda awkward now, huh?" he said after another brief silence. May knelt down next to him and looked him in the eyes.

    "Only if you make it that way," she said quietly.

    Ash gazed into her eyes, losing himself in the deep sapphire pools that radiated light, joy, compassion, and love. He didn't know how it started, or who began it, but when he regained some semblance of organized thought he realized that he and May were locked together in a tight embrace with their eyes closed, their lips glued together, and their tongues on fire.

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