Well, this is my odd new fic. Set years (in the 10-15 range) after the end of Johto. It's a mystery of the fantastic (as in, "Horror fantasy", not "Whoa, that's good!") variety, perhaps a relative of series such as Twin Peaks and to a lesser extent the X-Files.
Part I : The Fall of Night
The skies of Kanto were dark, still carrying in them the hint of the rainstorm that had fallen mere hours before, the same rainstorm that had kept the helicopter pinned down at the Cerulean Air Force Base. It was a delay, but yet another delay piled atop many others.
"When will we get to Lavender?" one of the passenger yelled over the engine's noise.
The pilot, as usual, ignored her. He had been doing mostly that since they had finally been able to leave, saying little others than reports.
With a scowl, Misty Waterflower turned away, shaking her head. Most of the people she knew would have chided her over her short-temperedness now. It seemed they had nothing better to do over the last few years than pick on her slightest faults, as if they somehow believed she hadn't suffered enough."
"They don't know…" she hissed darkly as the valleys of the Rock tunnel region passed below her. How many years had it now been since she had traveled through them with Ash and Brock? Too many, for sure. She was a woman of the world now. She had her responsibilities, and no time for walks out in the wilds.
A slight noise drew her attention, rising from besides her seat. It took her a moment to identify it for what it was, the static of a signal-less radio. Annoyed – if she couldn't have any useful information from the pilot, then she'd rather have silence – she reached to turn it off, only to find the radio's button already on the off switch.
"Are you doing that?" she asked the pilot, frowning. He didn't seem to ear her, tugging at his earphones. For a moment she thought to tear them away from his head to get an answer, but decided against it. Not only it might be dangerous, but also the sound definitely was coming from her own radio.
"Doing what?" he finally asked back, removing the earphones entirely.
"That noise," she pointed at her radio. Shouldn't it have been obvious? There was not much in the whole helicopter worth asking about, was it?
"I don't know what that is!" he told her back. "I get the same with my earphones!"
Misty made as if to answer, then shook her head, deciding against it. Just as she turned away from the pilot, she thought she heard something.
"What did you say?" she asked the pilot. He must have been talking to her if the radios were down, as they seemed to be.
"I said nothing! I think that was on the radio!" the pilot replied again.
Misty frowned, picking the radio again, putting it to her ear. Had she really heard something, or had that been a figment of her imagination?
There was nothing beyond the static noises. Helplessly, Misty shrugged. It must have been her imagination, then – as if she needed to be turning insane and hearing voices on top of everything else! She simply did not like it.
"Where am I?" she heard suddenly. This time there was no mistaking it; it had come from the radio. Again, she tried to switch it off, but to no effect.
"All the frequencies appears to be the same!" the pilot told her as she tried to wrestle with the selector, hoping to perhaps at least get something more interesting.
"Damn," she swore, forgetting herself for a moment. Even with her alleged short temper she had mostly managed to steer clear of swearing so far – proof, as far as she was concerned, that she was nowhere near as bad as her friends told her she was.
"Help me!" the voice screamed yet again. There was something oddly familiar to it, a ring Misty thought she could almost recognize. It was a woman's voice, for certain, or else that of a panicked young man.
"Sounds like one of the gym leaders!" the pilot pointed out.
"Where am I? What are you?" the voice drew higher, more pitched. Misty frowned. Where had she heard a similar voice before – which gym leader did it belong to?
"Which one?" she asked the pilot. Perhaps he could help her further, come to think of it. Galling as it was to admit she needed the help…
"I don't know! I don't really know them!" he replied. "There's Lavender ahead," he pointed. "The landing's going to be hard with no radio contacts!"
Misty nodded absently.
"I did nothing to be here! Let me go!" the voice went on, its panic obviously rising. Who had she heard talking like that before, again?
Try though she might, no memories came.
The Lavender helipad had been cleared to make room for the incoming helicopter. Most of the staff here knew better than to trifle with their regional gym leader – the Cerulean one. There had been talks of a Lavender gym more than once, but they had all fallen flat over this or that point of League law.
There were only two men waiting for her now, hardly the delegation one would have expected to see for a visiting gym leader. Misty Waterflower had neither the reputation of a good gym leader nor the love of the citizens of the two cities she represented. Too many of them had been at the receiving end of one of her temper flares, and even most of her friends had left her by now.
"Poor Misty," one of the two waiting men observed, pushing aside a strand of pale brown hair that had fallen on his face. "Nothing's been going her way for the last few years, as it?"
"Nothing. I can't offhand think of anything happy in her life ever since Ash left public life," the second, taller, answered, closing his narrow dark eyes.
Both of them knew how taxing the work of a gym leader truly was, of course. They had both held their own gym for years already, although the second one had the most experience in that domain. Pewter had been his for years upon years. His companion had taken up the Viridian post far more recently.
"I don't know how she can really stand it," Gary replied slowly. He had only the dimmest memories of Misty in the days back when she had been travelling with Ash, but few of them were in any way similar to the depressive young woman he now worked with. "I heard she had taken up drinking."
"I wouldn't be surprised," Brock shook his head sadly. "I don't know whatever possessed Ash to up and run like that. She was just about to ask him out or something like that, as I understand it. They had spent years as friends, and she wanted things to move further. At least that's what she told me. And then his mother dies and he just…"
"Vanished," Gary completed. Brock's summary was good as far as it went, he had to admit. Not for the first time, he wished he could tell Brock and Misty more, but no, what he knew was not his to reveal. If Ash wanted his whereabouts known to them, he would make sure they knew. So far, he obviously had no such desire.
"Do you really think we need to drop this on her the second she lands?" Brock shifted uncomfortably, pointing at the folder Gary held. In Misty's absence, the police had more or less taken them in as representatives of Kanto's government. But the second she arrived.
"Do we have the choice?" Gary replied softly. Some days as he woke, he wondered how he had come to change so much as he had. Then he would invariably shake his head, turn away from the mirror, and thanks his lucky star that he in fact had. His old self had been nothing more than a bastard.
"I guess you're right," Brock nodded. More than once some of the younger gym leaders – and especially the three of them, had denounced the growing power of the league. It had done no good, and the Pokémon League had effectively become the true political power in Kanto, an unelected government. Ash would perhaps have been able to turn the tide, had he been around, but he had already vanished by then.
"Poor thing," Gary shook his head again. "I don't think she deserved that." Who could ever deserve it, he asked himself.
"Do you mean Misty?" Brock turned slightly toward him, cocking an eyebrow.
"Misty. Or…" he hefted the folder. "Her, too."
A strange noise rose from his belt radio.
"What's that?" Brock asked, frowning.
"Sounds like just static…" Gary began, then frowned. That had been a voice among the static.
"That sounds like…" Brock began as the screams grew clearer.
"But that's…" Gary shook his head, pointing at the folder. "I mean, it's just impossible…"
The voice rose again, and this time, there was no mistaking it, both the words and sound all too familiar as a last semblance of pride surged forth into it.
"I am the gym leader of Saffron!" the yell came. "Let me go at once!"
Then there was a long scream, punctuated by what appeared to be a sinister laugh of some sort. Then there was no more sound, and the radio fell dead in Gary's hand just as, outside, a helicopter landed. Out came a scowling Misty and a frowning pilot.
"Did you hear that on the radio?" she asked them as she entered the room, spotting them at a glance. "What was Sabrina playing at?" she questioned, her eyes showing nothing but restrained fury.
"If someone was playing, it was not Sabrina," Gary informed her wearily, taking the folder and putting it in her hands. "There's no way she could have been playing. Or doing much of anything at all," he continued. "Are you positive that was Sabrina's voice?"
"Yes," she returned firmly. "The last just had to be her – I'd recognize that tone of voice out of a thousand."
"I agree," Brock nodded. Gary voiced no disagreement. He had heard the psychic's gym leader's voice often enough to recognize it just as surely as his two companions did. That had been Sabrina.
"Look at that," he pointed at the folder, frowning darkly. He had hoped the other two would tell him he had been wrong to think it was Sabrina, or at least that they had their doubts – that perhaps there was a chance they were wrong. But no, of course – they all agreed it had been hers.
"What's the meaning of…" Misty began, her scowl deepening. "You can't be serious!"
She let the folder drop to the floor as Gary nodded darkly. "I'm as serious as I ever was. The body was found last night, and the police wanted Brock and I to pass the preliminary report along to you. I don't think there's any doubt there either."
"But if Sabrina's dead, who did all the radio screaming?" she protested weakly.
"There's no telling. Either she didn't kill herself…"
"Which the police thinks highly unlikely," Brock swiftly pointed out.
"Else we're mistaken about the owner of the voice, which is entirely possible," Gary continued his enumeration, praying that one at least, perhaps both, would admit to the possibility. To his dismay, both of them shook their head.
"That was her," Misty stated, her voice firm, her eyes challenging him to say otherwise.
"Then what do you make out of this?" Gary answered the challenge.
Misty frowned but did not answer.