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  1. #46
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar
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    After another long delay, I happily bring you all the next installment!

    Chapter 28: Farewell?


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    Max stood at the summit of one the foothills of Mount Silver. He stood almost perfectly still, his only movement the flickering of his eyes as he scanned the sky. A look of anxiety creased his face as the day dragged on, and the brilliant blue of the sky began to fade to a dusty blue. He was waiting for an old friend, a friend that was already several hours late.

    "It can't be lost," he muttered, biting his lip in worry. "This is where we met last time, and it's internal compass never lets it forget where a place is." His hand loosely fingered the five Poke Balls that lay attached to his belt; the usual sixth now safely back at Professor Birch's lab, courtesy of the nearest Pokemon Centre.

    "Claydol, I need you!" he called, grabbing one of the Poke Balls and tossing it high into the air.

    "Nyen," it hummed, revolving slowly in the air as it descended to within a few inches of the ground.

    "Deoxys is late. We were supposed to meet here at noon, but the sun is setting now. I need you to use your Psychic to try and see if there are any Pokemon in the sky nearby that I can't see. Can you do that for me?"

    "Nyenn," his Claydol nodded, closing it's multiple eyes. Max watched, fascinated, as the air around his Pokemon began to glow a bright blue. Humming, the Claydol began to spin, slowly at first but picking up more and more speed with each revolution. It began to levitate higher off the ground, glowing tendrils from the Psychic spurting off in all directions as the Pokemon spun at a rapid rate. And then the revolutions began to slow, the blue aura dissipated, and his Claydol dropped back to Earth.

    "Anything?" Max asked anxiously.

    "Nyen," Claydol nodded, pointing an arm and slowly turning in the direction of Mount Silver. Max looked with narrowed eyes towards the mountain. A small, dark shape slowly became discernible as it appeared from behind one of Mount Silver's rocky slopes. Max breathed a sigh of relief, but the sigh was quickly cut short when a second shape appeared from behind it. A faint roar came to his ears, and he cringed unwillingly from it's sound. The two shapes circled around each other, passing in front of the dying sun. He squinted his eyes and was able to make out the sight of two tiny pricks of light, one red and the other green, colliding with each other.

    "What on earth is that?" he muttered.

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    Drew grinned, holding on tightly to his Flygon with his knees. It rolled in mid-air to avoid a Dragonbreath from J's Salamence, and then flipped over backwards to dodge a powerful Dragon Claw. J cursed inwardly as the larger but more manoeuvrable Flygon avoided every attack thrown it's way.

    "Fall back and use Dragonbreath!" she yelled, leaning along her Salamence's neck to make sure it heard her.

    "Climb and counter it with a Flamethrower!" Drew shouted. He gripped more tightly as his Flygon soared upwards, twisted around, and shot straight back downwards, intense flames spewing from it's mouth.

    J's Salamence let out a blood-curdling roar that halted Flygon in it's tracks. It charged up towards it's opponent, scarcely noticing the force of the Flamethrower as it charged through the heart of the attack. Drew gaped in surprise as the dragon-type burst out of the Flamethrower, dispelling the flames entirely. At full-speed, it smashed itself into the lower-jaw of Drew's Flygon, sending it reeling backwards in pain. Stunned and disorientated, the Flygon didn't realize when J's Salamence got above it.

    A devastating Dragon Claw crashed down onto the top of Flygon's head, causing it to let out a shriek of pain. The Salamence quickly followed up by spinning, and mercilessly smashing it's thick tail against Flygon's neck, knocking it unconscious and flipping the Pokemon upside-down. At the sudden, violent twisting apart of the world, Drew lost his grip. With a scream of fear, he plummeted towards the foothills that stretched out far below..

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    May moaned as her temperature rose even higher, now at 109 degrees. Nurse Joy looked through her medical equipment frantically, knowing that if it rose just two more degrees, May would die. She grabbed the instruments she would need and darted back to May's side.

    The door to the emergency room smashed open and Ash, Brock and Pikachu burst into the room, all three panting heavily. Nurse Joy shrieked with fright at the sudden intrusion, dropping her instruments on the floor in the process.

    "Nurse Jo-"

    "There's no time for this now, Brock!" she screamed, forestalling the love struck breeder. "If I don't get this lump on her chest removed, she'll die!" Ash stopped cold at the sight.

    "I knew it," he muttered.

    "Knew what?" Joy shouted, stooping to pick up her equipment with fumbling fingers. Ash hesitated a minute, trying to think of how to say what needed to be said.

    "We know that it's impossible for the disease to be transmitted between Pokemon and humans, but Ash thinks that May has somehow been infected with the Pokerus," Brock said baldly. Nurse Joy stared at them both, her mind racing.

    "I have a Pokemon that was infected with the Pokerus before," Ash added. "It had the exact same symptoms, and it had the same growth that may does too." Nurse Joy made a snap decision.

    "Brock, there's a videophone in the corner. I know almost nothing about Pokerus, but there is one person who knows a hell of a lot. Call Professor Oak. His number is -"

    "Professor Oak's lab was destroyed," Ash interrupted. "He's staying at my Mom's house until it's rebuilt. You should try there instead."

    "Got it," Brock nodded, running over to the corner. Nurse Joy turned back to May, a scalpel clenched tightly in her hands.

    "Ash I need you to hold her steady. I tried to touch the growth before and she attacked me," she said as she lowered the instrument to within an inch of the pustule.

    "Delia, we need to talk to Professor Oak right away. It's an emergency; is he there?" Ash heard Brock say as he strode quickly up to the bed, trying to avoid looking at the growth for reasons of modesty. Nurse Joy took a deep breath, moved the scalpel in close and dropped it with a shriek of surprise as the thermometer beeped once again. The instrument fell onto the growth, and with a yowl of pain May lunged forwards, her eyes staring madly as her hands closed around Joy's throat.

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    Forrest knocked nervously on what he hoped was Dawn's and Rey's bedroom door, hearing the chatter within cease abruptly. He had never been very good when it came to dealing with girls, especially the pretty ones. His training with Lt. Surge had been more of a joint deal than anything else. He was going to help Surge with speed attacks, while Surge helped him cope with girls. He hoped that Surge's coaching would pay off now.

    "Who is it?" he heard a clear voice call, and his knees trembled slightly. This was definitely a girls room.

    "Umm, my name is Forrest. I'm Brock's brother." There was a pause and then he heard footsteps approach the door. Nervously, he stood up as straight as he could as the door opened. His knees melted away as he found himself staring into two of the most beautiful blue eyes that he had ever seen.

    "Yes?" Dawn asked him quizzically.

    "I... my... ahh..."

    "Oh, wonderful," a second voice said from behind Dawn sarcastically. "He's as lovestruck as his brother."

    "Rey!" Dawn shouted, looking back over her shoulder at her roommate, her cheeks turning crimson. She turned back to Forrest and her eyes softened as she saw how nervous he was. "What's the matter, Forrest? Where are Brock and Ash?" At the sound of Ash's name, something in Forrest's brain clunked into place.

    "Oh, uh, Ash wanted me to keep you two away from the emergency room because of how bad May is." Dawn stared at him for a moment, and then Rey shoved her way into the doorway. Forrest gasped, almost falling over at the sight of her sparkling emerald eyes and luxurious long brown hair.

    "Well, that was a pretty stupid thing to say," she said sarcastically as she forced her way past Forrest into the hallway. "If you tell us not to go somewhere, we're obviously going to anyways." Forrest stared after her, his brain not really working.

    "She has a point, you know," Dawn said kindly as she squeezed past and walked down the hallway too. Forrest watched them both walk towards the emergency room, a sinking feeling in his stomach.

    "I guess Lt. Surge still needs to teach me a bit more," he mused, before the reality of what had just happened sank in. "Hey, wait!" he yelped after them, only to realize that they had turned a corner and vanished.

    "I guess I should have tried to keep them away by not mentioning it at all," he muttered, starting off after them.

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    The next few moments were a blur of confusion for Ash. The thermometer beeped, Nurse Joy yelped, and May leapt forwards, trying to strangle her. There was a lot of yelling coming from the direction of Brock and the videophone, and then the breeder ran forwards, trying to prise her May's hands away from Nurse Joy's neck. May backhanded him in the gut with one arm, doubling him over onto the floor with pain.

    As he reached over May's shoulders with both arms, the door burst open and Dawn, Rey and Forrest fell into the room, skidding to a halt as they saw what was happening. Dawn screamed at the sight of May strangling the Pokemon Nurse, and May recoiled at the sound, letting go of Nurse Joy as she clamped her hands to her ears. At the foot of the videophone, May's pack burst into flames, unobserved by all but one. "What's happening?" Professor Oak shouted from the videophone, unable to see anything that was happening from the smoke.

    Ash wrapped his arms tightly against May, trying to prevent her from harming anyone else in her incapacitated state. May let out a high-pitched scream of fright and turned, trying to claw her attacker. Unfocused blue eyes met worried black eyes that were filled with worry, concern, and love. Ash continued to hold onto her protectively, never once blinking or looking away from the Coordinator. Slowly, miraculously, she relaxed, her arms snaking around him in turn and her head gently coming to rest on his chest.

    As Nurse Joy climbed unsteadily to her feet, Ash held May tightly. He could feel her fever even through his shirt, and tears began to cloud his eyes. The thermometer beeped one final time, and May's sapphire eyes turned glassy, the last sparkle slowly fading. Her tight grip on Ash turned limp, and her breathing steadily slowed until it halted altogether.

    "Ash..." she whispered.

    Tears began to stream down his face as the girl whom he loved moved no more, her light frame resting on his. His body shook and convulsed as he fought back the sadness, staring into two sapphire eyes that had always seemed to be full of joy, to be full of life. He slowly lifted off his necklace, half-a-ribbon dangling from the end. Tenderly, he put it around May's neck before kissing her gently on the forehead.

    "May..." he said softly. "I... I'm sorry..."

  2. #47
    Where the miis are at. Lil' Psycho.'s Avatar
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    Matkin you're a good writter you now that. The last chapter made me feel like I was actually there, crying.

  3. #48
    The Golden Boy The Pig King's Avatar
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    Masterfully written, as always. You certainly seem to be killing characters a lot recently, both here and in your other fic, Searching for Truth.

    Banner by anime_aficionada.



  4. #49
    ... Amphlosion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazikenEX View Post
    Masterfully written, as always. You certainly seem to be killing characters a lot recently, both here and in your other fic, Searching for Truth.
    Characters can be brought back to life, remember. Also sortof true for the real world (you can be brought back even if your heart stops beating). What I'm wondering if this strain is contagious like it is with pokémon.
    ...

  5. #50
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    Chapter 28.5: Fight (April Fools Chapter)

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    As her body cooled, Ash looked at her with tears in his eyes. She was dead. There was no doubt about it. Her eyes were glazed over and the spark had left her irises. The girl whom he had travelled with, trained with, and fallen in love with had left him forever. Dawn crept forwards slowly and sat on the bed next to him.

    “Ash,” she whispered, “I’m sorry for this. She shouldn’t have died this way.”

    “No,” he answered hoarsely. “She shouldn’t.”

    “But… life goes on, right?” she continued. “You can’t grieve for her forever and, well, now that she’s out of the way, I think you should be with me.”

    “Huh?” Ash, Brock, Forrest, Rey, and Nurse Joy all said in unison.

    “I mean, she’d be dead now anyways thanks to the Egg Bomb that I put in her pack a couple of days ago, but at least this way it’s Mewtwo’s fault and not mine,” she went on.

    “So that’s why her bag exploded and there was all of that smoke,” Professor Oak said thoughtfully from the video screen. Rey rolled her eyes and turned of the monitor.

    “You put an Egg Bomb into her bag?” Ash said blankly. “Why?” He frowned. “Come to think of it, how?”

    “Oh, you silly boy,” Dawn teased. “You two were all over each other, and I had to get rid of her somehow so that we could be together. As for the how, I just borrowed it from Rey’s Exeggcute and slipped it into her bag.” Rey gasped.

    “So that’s where my Exeggcute’s other egg went!” she exclaimed. Then, her eyes narrowed. “Wait a minute, what do you mean so that you could be together? Now that May’s out of the picture he’s mine. I’ve known him longer.”

    “I know him better!” Dawn retorted.

    “Back off, Missy,” Rey warned.

    “Just toddle on off and accept that he’s mine,” Dawn snorted back. In a burst of light, Latias released herself from her Poke Ball and assumed her human form. She draped her arms across Ash’s shoulders and began to yell at Rey and Dawn silently.

    “Wow, lucky Ash getting all of that attention,” Forrest remarked to his brother as the girls continued to argue.

    “It must be nice to be so popular,” Brock moaned, twiddling his fingers.

    “Ladies, ladies, please!” Nurse Joy shouted, stepping into the centre. “This is a Pokemon Centre! There’s a time and a place for something like this, and that would be in five minutes out back. I have a special pitch set up for this kind of thing, and you can fight over Ash there… in bikini’s.”

    “Say what?” Dawn and Rey yelped (Latias mouthing the words in her own surprised manner).

    “Well, the boys and I have to get as much entertainment out of this as possible,” Nurse Joy blushed.

    “The bikinis are fine by me,” Dawn declared.

    “They’re fine by me too,” Rey agreed. Latias looked sad, gazing down at her own clothed body.

    “Umm, Latias doesn’t have a bikini,” Brock said. “She’s never really needed one before.”

    “She can borrow one of mine,” Rey offered.

    “Your bikini will be too big for her,” Dawn objected.

    “Hey, I’m not complaining,” Brock muttered, earning himself a smack on the ear from Dawn who had overheard.

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    “The fight between Rey, Dawn, and Latias is about to begin!” Referee Joy declared officiously. “The winner will be the last girl left able to fight on! Extra points may be awarded for ripping off an opponent’s bikini! The winner of the fight gets Ash Ketchum! Begin!”

    With a screech, the three girls launched themselves at Ash simultaneously. They bounced off the ropes that surrounded the pitch and collapsed into a heap, before struggling to untangle themselves and hit one of the others with a punch, kick, bite, or scratch.

    “Hey, Ash, how are you taking this?” Brock asked, keeping his eyes firmly focused on the battle and enjoying the sight of clothes flying everywhere. “I mean, ten minutes ago May was alive and now you’re being fought over.” Ash shrugged.

    “I miss May, but this is the next best thing to being with her,” he answered with a sly grin.

    “It is pretty fun to watch,” Forrest admitted.

    “No kidding,” Ash said. “I mean, come on; what guy wouldn’t want to see three girls in a catfight over him?”

    And they all lived happily ever after.

    Well, except for Rey and Dawn, who lost the catfight to Latias. And May, because she was dead. But everyone else was pretty happy after the fight (especially Brock. Hooo boy, was he ever!)

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    Oh, and as I'm sure you've all guessed... April Fools!

  6. #51
    Where the miis are at. Lil' Psycho.'s Avatar
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    you got me exited over a new chapter, thank you.( I dropped your toothbrush in your toilet)

  7. #52
    Rhyperior lover Rhyperior's Avatar
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    You forgot Noland's Rhydon in chapter 8.
    Sorry for pointing that out. But you know, I am a Rhyhorn, Rhydon and Rhyperior lover.

  8. #53
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar
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    It had no purpose in the plot, which is why it didn't actually do anything.

  9. #54
    ... Amphlosion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MASTER29 View Post
    you got me exited over a new chapter, thank you.( I dropped your toothbrush in your toilet)
    Same, and I left a slightly less than pleasant review about it >.> Though I didn't put the whole word in <,<
    ...

  10. #55
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar
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    Heheh, actually Amphlosion, I think your review was my favourite one! Soon as I saw it I thought "Mission accomplished!"

  11. #56
    Rhyperior lover Rhyperior's Avatar
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    Oh my god!You make me really said.It has type advantage against Rayquaza.And you're saying that it has no purpose in the plot?Is it Noland's fault or is it your fault?

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  13. #58
    Rhyperior lover Rhyperior's Avatar
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    I see. I am adding author creativity to my story too. XD
    Last edited by Rhyperior; 4th April 2008 at 07:18 AM.

  14. #59
    ... Amphlosion's Avatar
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    Now get off these forums and get on that chapter
    ...

  15. #60
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar
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    As you wish, Amphlosion.

    Well, these next two chapters are, quite possibly, the two most important to date. I've introduced so many different plot elements and it's time some of them were wrapped up. There's lots going on, and we'll find out the answers to some of the oft-repeated questions.

    I'd intended to make this a double-update and have it up... two days ago, actually. Well, that didn't happen so you'll have to settle with a single-update for now!

    Now, on to the chapter!

    Chapter 29: Egg


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    Tracey stretched his back, groaning as he felt the stiffness. Still, as he worked his shoulders in an attempt to relieve a knotted muscle, he had to admit that the strain and back pain was definitely worth it. Rebuilding the lab would take time, but it was going much more quickly than any of them had anticipated.

    We were very lucky, he reflected. The Rayquaza had destroyed most of the lab, but the foundations weren’t damaged. That alone had saved them a month’s work. Professor Oak had also been very cautious when he had originally built the lab. The basement, where he kept his research and backed-up computer data, had been reinforced by two-inch steel walls during it’s construction. It meant that months, years of research was safe from harm. It meant that all of the decades Professor Oak had put into studying his unpublished data, and that the millions of yen he had spent on ancient Pokemon artefacts was not a waste.

    Tracey turned and surveyed the land. In just a few days they had already finished reconstructing the skeleton of the lab, and they would soon be able to start on the more solid constructions. The extra hands they had to use was a huge bonus. Caroline had returned to Hoenn, but Norman had volunteered to stay and help rebuild. Gary had decided to postpone returning to Sinnoh, and Rey’s parents had also volunteered their help. Even Delia was chipping in, in her own way of course. Each night the workers would troop down to the Ketchum residence and be greeted by a massive spread. It was the perfect way to relax and unwind after a long and hard day of work.

    He had to admit, though, that as welcome as all the unexpected help was, the biggest factor had been Ash’s 29 Tauros. Usually, they were filled with energy and rampaged around the lab’s grounds completely carefree. Now they were, well, filled with energy, and their strength and eagerness to help was the main reason why the skeleton had been erected so quickly. Lots of other Pokemon, including Gary’s Blastoise, Nidoking, and Nidoqueen, as well as Norman’s Vigoroth and Slaking, had also been a huge help, but there was no doubt that it was because of Ash’s Tauros that the first stage of work had been completed so quickly.

    “Hey,” a voice called out from behind him. Turning, Tracey was surprised to see that only a few feet away, a dark-haired young man stood casually with his hands in his pockets, an expression of polite interest on his face.

    Wow, he’s quiet. How’d he manage to get so close without me hearing him? he wondered. “Hey there,” he said aloud with a friendly grin to the man. “Come to help with the rebuilding? You’re a bit late for today’s work, everybody’s just finishing up. Want to join us for supper? We’ll be heading down the hill in a mi-”

    “Thank you, but no,” the stranger interrupted. “I’m not here to help rebuild. I’m looking for Professor Oak.” Tracey frowned.

    “You do know that we’re in the middle of a huge reconstruction, don’t you? The Professor really doesn’t have any time to spare for journalists, or to answer any trivial questions.” The stranger’s eyes gleamed curiously.

    “I’m well aware that you’re in the middle of rebuilding the lab,” he said softly. “I’d have to be blind - and deaf - not to have realized it by now. As for my question…” He smiled slightly, and a sudden shiver ran down Tracey’s spine. “I can assure you that it is a matter of vital importance.”

    Tracey eyed him. “The Professor left for a phone call about half an hour ago,” he said. “He’s taking it at the Ketchum’s house. Go down the hill towards Pallet Town and turn right. It’s the third house on the left. There may be a Mr. Mime sweeping or gardening outside.” Without a word, the stranger nodded, turned, and left. Tracey watched him go, apprehension flittering around his gut. Danger hung around this person. He could see it as clearly as a Lucario could aura. He could feel it. Something bad was about to happen. And if it did, the Professor was much better equipped to handle the situation than he was.

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    “Kurt!” Professor Oak exclaimed, his eyes racing across the screen; he could hardly believe what he was seeing. “What… what happened to you?”

    “I was attacked,” Kurt answered quietly. “Somebody stormed into my workshop, stole my last Apricorn Ball, and paralysed me.”

    “Kurt, you need to see a doctor right away,” Oak said, eyeing the injuries on Kurt’s face and arms.

    “It’s not important,” Kurt said roughly. He fixed the Professor with a watering, aggrieved eye. “Professor. Sam. He wanted the GS Ball.” Professor Oak went cold.

    “Did… did he get it?” he whispered, almost afraid to ask. Kurt hesitated before answering.

    “No,” he said finally. “But he knows that you have it, Sam. I’m sure he’s travelling to Pallet as we speak.” Professor Oak paused.

    “What do you mean ‘he knows that I have it’?” he asked. “I thought you still had it.”

    “I gave it to that girl with the Pidgeot, like you asked,” Kurt answered. “What was her name… May. Didn’t she give it to you when she arrived in Pallet?”

    “No,” Professor Oak said in a strangled voice. “She arrived the morning of Ash’s match, and then what with the Rayquaza attack… I’d almost forgotten about it until now.”

    “Then you're both in danger!” Kurt shouted. “He’ll get to Pallet and search you out, and when he finds out that you don’t have it he’ll start to track her down too!”

    “May is travelling with Ash at the moment; she’ll be safe enough with him,” Professor Oak said slowly.

    “And what about you, Sam?” Kurt asked. “This guy is ruthless. Once he found out I didn’t have the GS Ball anymore, he used his Pokemon to knock me out. He won’t be afraid to do the same, or worse, to you.” At this Oak grinned, and there was no fear in his gaze.

    “I don’t like his chances, facing off against me, Gary, and Norman,” he said, a hint of steel in his voice. “Now tell me: what did he look like, and what Pokemon did he have?”

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

    Immediately after his video call with Kurt, Oak dialled up Professors Elm, Birch, Ivy, Rowan, and Aspen to see if any trainer had recently exchanged their Magnezone for a held Pokemon. After hearing a chorus of “no’s”, and gaining their assurances that they would contact him straight away if any such exchange was made, he slumped at the table feeling mentally exhausted.

    “Dinner will be ready in a moment, Professor,” Delia whispered as she passed by him, a massive salad in her arms. That’ll wake you up a bit.”

    “I really hope so, Delia,” he sighed, rubbing his eyes. “There’s just so much going on; I feel as if my mind is about to explode.”

    “Oh, it’ll sort itself out soon enough,” she smiled. “Then you’ll wonder what there was to be so stressed about.” He nodded absentmindedly as she bustled back off to the kitchen, his mind filled with worry. He was jerked out of his stupor by the sound of the phone ringing. It stopped abruptly on the third ring and he heard Delia’s voice.

    “Oh hi, Brock. How are you all? Where are you calling from?”

    “Delia, we need to talk to Professor Oak right away. It's an emergency; is he there?” Brock asked, ignoring her questions. A sudden flitter of apprehension ran through Oak’s body. He stood quickly and made his way to the videophone as Delia turned towards him.

    “What’s the problem, Brock?” he asked as soon as he reached the monitor.

    “May’s ill,” Brock said. “There’s a pustule on her chest, and Nurse Joy needs you to help guide her through the operation. We think it might be -” Professor Oak stared over Brock’s shoulder at the scene playing out in front of him, oblivious to the tail-end of Brock’s sentence.

    With an inhuman screech, May lunged from the hospital bed and fastened her hands around Joy’s throat. There was a moment of surprised thrashing, somebody off screen screamed, and then a burst of acrid, black smoke drifted upwards, completely obscuring the screen.

    What’s happening?” he yelled. But there was no response, save for a scream.

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    The rushing noise of the wind blowing past his body stopped. This is it, he thought calmly. I’m dead. I can’t hear or see anything. The world is black. It’s just me and my thoughts. Alone, forever. Something suddenly tickled his nose. Grimacing in irritation, he tried to brush it away but found his arms were unresponsive. Strange, he thought. Why would my nose itch if I were dead? Drew opened his eyes.

    The ground hovered in front of him, mere inches from his nose. A stalk of grass was rubbing against his nose, quivering from a very slight breeze. He squeezed his eyes shut tightly before opening them again. The ground was still there. But why am I floating? he wondered. I fell thousands of feet. Why aren’t I dead? That was when he noticed his vision was tinted violet.

    It’s a Psychic, he realized. Somebody stopped my fall using Psychic.

    “So, it’s you,” he heard a familiar voice say. Then came a snort. “I wouldn’t have stopped you if I’d known who you were.” The purple haze in front of his eyes vanished, and he dropped. Grimacing and rubbing his nose, he twisted his neck and saw a person whom he had sincerely hoped he would never have to see again.

    “Max,” he said with a curt nod, scrambling to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye he saw his Flygon held in place a foot or so above the ground, contained in another Psychic. It was still unconscious. He turned his gaze back to Max and immediately recognized the two Pokemon he had called out; Claydol, levitating in slow circles around it’s trainer, and Gardevoir, her body glowing violet and her eyes closed as she concentrated on keeping Flygon in the air.

    “Think you can let my Flygon go now?” Drew asked the younger trainer. Max shook his head, an ugly look on his face.

    “No. Not until you explain to me exactly why you did it.”

    “Did what?” Drew asked, playing dumb. Max’s expression got even uglier.

    “You know exactly what,” he hissed from between clenched teeth. “You betrayed my sister. You broke her heart and chased her out of Johto. I want to know why, and I want to know now!” Drew shook his head scornfully.

    “I don’t have to explain myself to you,” he said. “Wait until you grow some stubble on your chin before you even think of having the audacity to interrogate me.” He grabbed Flygon’s Poke Ball and withdrew his Pokemon, the red beam easily piercing through Gardevoir’s Psychic. “I’m out of here,” he sneered, flicking his hair out of his eyes as he turned to walk away.

    His body froze and his mouth opened in a soundless scream as his entire body was assailed by a fierce burning sensation. His vision turned purple again, although this time it was a darker, more menacing shade. Slowly, against his will, his body turned until he was facing Max once more.

    The young trainer ignored Drew and crouched to the ground, watching at his Gardevoir with an expression of slight interest as she held the Coordinator in place.

    “Being a Gym Leader’s son, I’m privy to some information that you would never find in any textbooks or PokeDex’s,” he said softly. “For example, did you know that there are actually three variations of the move Psychic? Every trainer knows about Stage-2 - that’s the kind used in battle to halt and damage an opponent. You’re experiencing it right now. Most trainers know about Stage-1 too, the painless variation that can be used to get fruit from a tall tree… or stop somebody from falling. But almost nobody knows about Stage-3.” Here he rose and turned his attention back to Drew, who tried not to wince as the pain wracked his body spasmodically.

    “Stage-3 Psychic is a blast of intense pain. It generally takes years of dedication and practice before a Pokemon can use it effectively. Even those who do know about it rarely try and teach it to their Pokemon; it just takes too long for them. But if a Pokemon does learn how to use it…” He paused. “It’s strength is equal to that of a Legendary Pokemon’s Stage-2 Psychic. It even affects dark-types.” He looked for a moment at the setting sun before returning his focus to the helpless Coordinator.

    “So tell me, Drew,” he said. “Are you prepared to experience Gardevoir’s Stage-3 Psychic?”

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

    Ash hugged the limp body of the Coordinator to his chest fiercely, hot tears cascading from his eyes. He was oblivious to the movements and words of his companions, his gaze fixed on the girl he had loved; the girl he loved still, even in death. Oblivious to the heat of the fever that still burned through her clothes, he rocked gently back and forth, unable to accept the fact that she was really gone.

    Something clunked gently against his foot. Surprised, he automatically reached down and picked the object up, staring at it uncomprehendingly. He didn’t understand why this, of all things, would be here in a Pokemon Centre.

    “Char!”

    Everyone started at the sound, and as one their eyes sought the source. Standing in the shredded and charred remains of May’s knapsack was a small Charmander. It ignored them all, it’s gaze fixed sorrowfully on the prone body of May as it moved towards her on somewhat unsteady legs.

    “A Charmander?” Rey asked. “Why did May have a Charmander in her bag?”

    “Liza gave me an egg that Charla - Charizard’s mate - had laid before I battled Cynthia,” Ash said softly. “I gave it to May just before we left Pallet Town. I… I guess it must have just hatched.”

    “Char!” the little Charmander squealed, trying to scrabble it’s way onto the bed. Dawn came forwards and gently lifted the newborn onto Ash’s lap. The Pokemon hummed, curled itself up comfortably, and reached out to touch May’s body with it’s snout.

    A blinding orange glow cascaded through the room, forcing everyone to shield their eyes. The light was almost unbearable, amplified by the whitewashed walls and colouring every inch of the room in an orange tint. Rising high above the shouts of shock was the sound of the Charmander humming, a long, loud drone that reverberated throughout the room, it’s body the source of the light. Slowly, the intensity of the glow faded, although the people and walls were still painted in an orange light.

    “No… It’s impossible!” Professor Oak shouted from the screen as the light became bearable and he beheld the Charmander. “I-It’s impossible!

    “What’s impossible?” Rey yelled above the humming.

    “What the Charmander is doing!” Brock shouted.

    “I don’t get it!” she screamed as the Charmander’s humming stopped. “There, that’s better,” she sighed. “Why is what the Charmander doing impossible?”

    “There are three criteria for a species of Pokemon to be selected as a starter-type in a region,” Professor Oak explained. “It has to be a grass-, water-, or fire-type, have two evolutions, and have one of three abilities. For a fire-type, that ability is always Blaze. But what this Charmander is doing now is not Blaze,” he said, gesturing at the still-glowing Pokemon.

    “What is it doing then?” Dawn asked.

    “It’s Flash-Fire,” Brock answered.

    “Yes, Flash-Fire,” Professor Oak agreed. “When a Pokemon has the Flash-Fire ability, it absorbs any fire-type attacks that are targeted at it to power up it’s own moves. To be more precise, it absorbs the heat of the fire and makes it’s own moves hotter. Because the heat is absorbed, it makes the actual fire-attack useless. A flame with no heat has no power; it’s the heat that does the damage in an attack, not the actual flames themselves.

    “When a Pokemon has used Flash-Fire, the power of it’s attacks will remain the same, but the intensity is increased. And because it’s the heat from the fire, and not the fire itself, which activates the ability, Flash-Fire can occasionally be activated without needing a fire-type attack,” he concluded. Realization dawned on Rey’s and Dawn’s faces.

    “So… you mean that this Charmander is trying to use Flash-Fire to absorb the heat from May’s fever and bring down her temperature?” Rey asked in disbelief.

    “Exactly,” Professor Oak confirmed. Then his face fell as he looked back at May’s body, still held in Ash’s arms. Ash himself was still staring at the Charmander with a look of pure astonishment on his face, not having heard a word that the Professor had said.

    “But I’m afraid it may be too late,” Oak said softly. And that was when they heard a sound that gave them all hope.

    Beep…

    Beep…

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