MYTHS, WARS AND THE APOCALYPSE
PART ONE: PEWTER HAVEN UNDER FIRE
to 137,500 citizens of
Also home to approximately 57,000 refugees from Cerulean and Saffron cities, and approximately 342,000 pokemon refugees.
Also home to seventeen Nurse Joys and twelve Officer Jenny’s.
Also home to Brock of Pewter, May and Max of Hoenn, and Gary Oak.
Also home to Misty Waterflower, last of the Cerulean Waterflowers.
Also home to the only member of a once extinct species, a species he wasn’t even born into, but became.
“Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday inhuman bastard... happy birthday to me...”
Ash chanted the traditional birthday song –supplemented with his own words- to himself as he climbed the ladder down to the Pit. The home of Pewters electricity supply and heat source was so-called because it was buried in a deep hole underground, and the only access to it was through the back-door tunnel of the old Pokemon Centre.
The reason Ash Ketchum ventured into territory dark and dangerous beneath the earth, lit by hellish light emanating from the Haven’s generator, was that Pikachu would be grumpy if Ash didn’t come to collect him.
“Piiiiikaaaaa...?” called out the electric mouse that was currently attached to Pewter’s generator. The small pokémon had enough juice in him to power the whole city for six weeks, but now that they had a generator, he merely came to give it a boost every week or so.
Ash’s gloves grew slippery with sweat as he paused to regain his grip on the rusty ladder. He didn’t want to fall, knowing that if he didn’t die from falling sixteen metres onto a metal railing, Misty would kill him for being so stupid.
The pokemon chattered excitedly below him.
“Yes, yes, I’m coming, hold your wild Ponyta.” Ash shook his head, and paused again to blow wisps of black hair out of his eyes.
He finally reached the bottom, black boots thumping onto the grating below him. Underneath, he could see the Slugma winding through the molten rock that the electricity station rested on. The Slugma belonged to a couple of Saffronites, fire trainers who donated their magma-pokemon to keeping the Haven warm.
Pikachu strained at the electrodes that held him, and leapt onto Ash when he disconnected them.
“Hey little buddy, I missed you too. It’s been eight years since I first met you. That’s almost half my lifetime.” He scratched Pikachu behind the ears, and the electric mouse let out a contented purr.
Ash wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his glove –was it just him, or was it gods-damned hot down here?- and headed back up the rungs of the ladder, preparing himself for the verbal onslaught that he would receive from Officer Jenny #3 if he was late for guard duty.
“Ash! There you are! May’s been looking all over for you!” Ash turned when he heard Max’s voice ring out. Max was the youngest member of the Pewter Haven Council, being only eleven, but it was commonly known that he was the most intelligent.
He wiped the condensing steam off his glasses as he stepped into the welding pit, where Ash was currently constructing the first essential pieces of a tank; specifically the turret and cannon.
Ash pushed his scarf down from his mouth, and spoke.
“Yeah? What’d she want me for?”
Max shrugged. “Dunno, it’s got something to do with the Council meeting that Brock’s been organising for weeks...”
Ash stopped listening, letting the boys voice wash over him.
He sighed, pushing his scarf back over his mouth and nose, and drawing his cloak tighter around him. Pikachu, who’d been dozing on a pile of half-finished scrap metal, followed Max as he lead the older boy up the stairs, and into the centre of Pewter Haven.
The welding pit was located within the walls that surrounded the refugee city, and it was only a short walk from there to Council Hall, what was once Pewter Gym.
The boy’s voice washed over Ash, who still wasn’t listening, but instead thinking of the way everyone shied away from him as he walked through the mob.
There was only one man in Pewter who wore black, only one who was avoided like the plague.
Pikachu noticed his trainer’s bad mood, even from the vantage point of his shoulder. He couldn’t understand why Ash felt upset by how he was treated; Ash was dangerous. He couldn’t help that, no more than Geodude couldn’t fly. It was just one of those things.
Pikachu liked Ash; he was his favourite semi-human sentient being he’d even met. Granted, he was the only semi-human sentient being he’d ever met, but he still liked him.
He didn’t understand why Ash let others reactions upset him though.
If you could kill people with a touch, wouldn’t it be natural for people to avoid you?
Ash was not only upset because people were parting before him like a field of grass before a moving Onix, but because no-one had remembered it was his birthday.
He knew it was petty, knew it was childish for him to just want recognition of this day that separated him from his last vestiges of adolescence and into adulthood, but he was eighteen, dammit! Someone should have said something. Surely they couldn’t have all forgotten.
“... and they’re waiting for you inside. I have to go back and help Nurse Joy salvage a Medipack she found in an abandoned caravan; she thinks there might be some useful potions inside.”
“Which Nurse Joy?” asked Ash vaguely, not really listening for Max’s answer, as he knew it would be along the lines of ‘the one with pink hair.’
Max shrugged, and left him standing outside the council hall.
“Here we go...” murmured Ash as he opened the doors, expecting darkness, or perhaps a few desks lit by spotlights. What he didn’t expect was utter chaos.
“Ash! There you are!” Brock’s voice cut through the other voices like a hot knife through imitation butter polyunsaturated margarine spread.
Ash tried to wind his way through the masses of people running –carrying documents, carrying folders, carrying strangely shaped pieces of metal- and though the place was more active than a Beedrill hive on fire, his progress was helped somewhat by the way everyone avoided his touch.
“Where have you been?” Brock grinned at Ash, flashing white teeth that usually made all the girls around him swoon. There was a muffled thump, and his secretary lay on the floor, eyes closed, and paper-work falling down around her like snow.
“Oh, not another one. Why couldn’t I have been this popular when I was a teenager and needed it?” he tried to wake the girl, but she merely sighed. Brock shrugged, and turned back to Ash.
“Been in the welding pit. Officer Jenny #3 told me she was sick of me being late to guard duty, so I got put on construction detail. Making tanks and gun turrets.” There was heavy sarcasm in Ash’s tone which was obvious even through the scarf when he added “Fun, Fun, Fun.”
“Well, Jenny can be a hard Officer if she wants to be.”
one. Does it matter?” Brock grinned again, then grew serious. “The reason why
I’ve called you here is because there’s been a surge in Rocket activity down
south. Especially around
From what little of Ash’s face that Brock could see, Ash blanched.
reports of major damage yet, but the Professor tells me that the guard walls
are being attacked. He wants
Ash looked away for a moment, seemingly focusing on the masses of people filing paperwork and typing on some old computers that had been salvaged from Silph Co. by one of the city’s more enterprising refugees.
“No word from her. You know her house was on the perimeter, how she refused to come in to the centre like everyone else-”
“She was proud of her little plot. She wasn’t gonna let her tomatoes be taken by anyone, come hell or high water.” Ash snuffed a laugh, but Brock could tell he was concerned.
are you telling me this? I mean, I appreciate that Pallet’s my hometown, but...
Brock didn’t answer him, but perched on his desk, which was at the centre back of the hall.
He was silent for a while before answering.
you want to go home, Ash? If you want, we can send you back with
Ash was silent.
no trouble for us. We’re planning –that is, the council is planning- on sending
a scouting force down south anyway. We want to see if there’s been any luck in
“I can’t, Brock. Pallet isn’t home to me any more. I’ve spent almost half my life away from there and besides I can’t leave here because...”
His voice trailed off, and his head turned towards the entrance of the hall, which slammed open a fraction after he turned.
“Brock! Where the hell are you? You’ve got some explaining to do!”
Brock, who’d been unnerved by the way Ash had unerringly turned towards the door before Misty burst through it, was scared now. In all of his twenty-four years of existence, he had only become scared of three things: ghosts, dolls and Misty when she was pissed off.
“Gods have mercy...” he whispered as she stormed towards him. Ash, who was more interested in Misty herself than what she was going to do with Brock, drank in the sight of her.
She was wet, that much he gathered by the way her sneakers –old, battered, dirty and absolutely saturated- squelched on the floor.
That, and the fact her clothes –cut-off jeans and old faded Cerulean Gym t-shirt- clung to her figure as though they had been sprayed on.
Even so, it wasn’t her figure he was watching. Ash had lost interest in girls, knowing that he’d never be actually able to do anything with one, but Misty continued to hold his attention. But, it wasn’t with her body that she held his attention, because to Ash, her body was merely the vessel for her mind, essence and soul.
Ash noble as it sounds, Ash knew whatever affection he felt for her was essentially greedy at its heart.
He cared for her, this he knew, had since he was just a kid, but in the way that she was his closest friend.
Still, it wasn’t this that brought to life the clamouring need inside him, the need that had nothing to do with physical desire, the need that had nothing to do with the fact he was probably –Ash wasn’t sure- in love with her, but the need that arose from the dark thing inside him, the nothingness that Sabrina had referred to, and the constant clawing hunger for sustenance that had nothing to do with food.
Ash was hungry, hungry in a way he would ever deny.
He’d already killed once, and had no desire to do it again, especially to her.
“Ah, don’t kill me Misty.” Said Brock, tough guy image evaporated by the twin blue laser beams that were Misty’s eyes.
“I’m not going to kill you. If I did, I’d never get the water filtration system fixed. The hydroturbine’s broken down again! Why hasn’t it been repaired? It’s rusting through! Oh, hello Ash.”
Ash gave a half wave, and Pikachu leapt of his shoulder, wondering where Misty’s Marill was.
“Marill’s down by the fountain, Pikachu. She’s trying to stem the water that’s pouring out of a hole the size of a Gyarados!” Misty’s voice rose into an almost-screech as she whipped around to face Brock, who raised his hands in supplication.
“Look, we’ve been under pressure lately. We can’t maintain the guard and continue to repair the water system-”
“Well, you should divert some of your guards to fixing the gods-damned thing! We’re going to run out of water, and then we’ll all die of thirst!”
Ash shook his head as Pikachu ran off in the direction of the fountain, hoping to catch Marill. For some reason, the electric mouse was smitten by the water one. He figured it had to do with the fact that Pikachu was his pokemon, Marill was Misty’s, and the gods were cruel.
“Look, Ash’s been put on construction detail. Jenny #3 isn’t happy with him, so why don’t you recruit him into welding up the hole? I’ve got perimeter reports to organise, guard rosters to draw up, my brothers and sisters to train, and housework to do. Floors don’t scrub themselves, Misty. I’ll be busy all day, so you can take your anger out on my message machine. I’ve got things to do, and Ash has a short attention span, so I suggest you give him something to do before he loses his focus.”
Ash looked up at this remark, from where he had been focusing on the droplets of water spilling off Misty’s shoelaces.
“I resent that Brock. I’m not going to be her sla-”
“Ketchum, you’ll do what I say, and like it, got it?” asked Misty. Ash sighed, looked up, preparing to tell her that pretty face or no, it was his birthday and he’d be damned if he was going to let himself be ordered around by a skinny girl who didn’t even come up to his shoulder, even though she was two years older than him.
What Ash said, upon meeting her gaze and finding himself battling to control the dark and dangerous urges that rose up inside him, was: “Sure. Anything you say, Mist.”
Brock rolled his eyes, thinking that Misty had Ash on a leash.
Misty smiled, and Ash shivered.
“So... how’s your birthday been? Happy birthday by the way. My eighteenth sucked, I hope yours doesn’t.”
On Misty’s eighteenth, her sisters had died.
Ash digested this, wondering why it was that she had remembered, whilst everyone else had forgotten.
“Okay, I guess. I’m not dying; I have full use of all four of my limbs... pretty good as birthdays go. Sure, you’re the only one that’s remembered, but I can live with that.”
Misty ignored the way the crowds parted in front of them –partially due to fear of Ash, but mostly because of the barely restrained anger simmering below Misty’s calm appearance- and gave him a wan smile.
“Yeah? Would’ve though Brock or May would’ve...”
Ash shrugged, and swept his hood back.
It was a pain dressing all in black in the middle of summer, and even more so considering he was wearing long sleeved shirt, long pants, scarf and cloak.
“You must be boiling under that.”
Ash nodded. “I gotta dress like this because it’s dangerous if I touch anyone. The black’s to let people know not to come near me, and the full-body covering is so that if I brush past someone, I don’t automatically see into their thoughts, or sap their strength. I don’t wear this stuff out of choice. If I got to choose what I wore, I’d be in shorts and a t-shirt right now. It’s too hot for anything else. How many guys have you driven to distraction in those shorts, Mist?”
Misty laughed. Ash smiled, even though she couldn’t see it. He loved it when she laughed; it made him feel like he was partially human again.
“Only three. I’m guessing they’re not short enough.”
Misty, who wore clothes depending on the weather rather than any sense of fashion or modesty, wore a pair of shorts that were, in Ash’s opinion, barely legal.
“If you make ‘em any shorter you’ll be walking around in your underwear. Not that I mind, mind you. If you want to walk around in your underwear, you go for it. I’ll just have to watch from the sidelines.”
Misty rolled her eyes.
“You have a very laviscous mind, Ash. You’re as bad as Brock.”
Both fell silent for a moment.
“No,” amended Misty, “you’re almost as bad as Brock.”
“I have a lavis- lavos- whatever you said mind, because I don’t get a chance to exercise it Mist. I’m only a respectable young man because I don’t get the chance to be anything else.”
Misty laughed again, and Ash felt something stir inside the depths of his mind. He quelled it hurriedly, not wanting to give rise to the sudden, visceral thoughts that demanded blood and sacrifice.
“Yes, well, that’s true,” gasped Misty through her laughter, “but who would you be disrespectable with?”
Ash said nothing, and didn’t meet her gaze.
Either Misty was laughing too hard to notice, or she didn’t want to confirm what he hadn’t said.
When her giggles had subsided, they found themselves wading ankle deep in water as they approached the drinking fountains. Pikachu, sodden and distinctly unhappy, sloshed towards Ash. Marill, whose wetsuit-like fur repelled the water, was trying to stop the stream gushing out by damming it.
“Marill, Ice Beam!” cried Misty, and the gushing water froze as it was blasted by crackling blue energy.
“Interesting sculpture, Mist.” Remarked Ash, turning his head sideways to observe the curved arc of ice.
“Well, Ketchum, get your welding mask on. That waters frozen now, but on a hot day like this, the chances of it staying like that are pretty slim. The sooner you repair that hole, the better. We can’t drain the water, ‘cause the fountain taps an underground stream. Marill’s gonna have to keep freezing it as you work.”
Her small blue pokemon chirruped an agreement.
“Okay... where’s a power source? I’m gonna have to attach the oxy-torch to something. And it can’t be Pikachu, ‘cause if a stray spark from his fur hit’s the water, we’ll all be fried. Well, not so much me or him, I have a tolerance and Pikachu can’t shock himself, but you two.”
Misty chipped at the chunk of ice with a chisel, and indicated a power point, some ten metres away.
Ash shrugged, and concentrated on using the small, electric torch at his belt to weld the hole shut.
“Alpha group in position. Requesting permission to attack immediately. Over.”
“Beta group also in position, requesting permission to begin preliminary attack. Over.”
Through the wash of static, one voice rang out over the others.
“This is Omega. Requests denied. We will attack according to the plan. I repeat, we will attack according to the plan. Patience, kiddies, playtime’s almost here. Over.”
“Beta group here. Yes sir. Over.”
“Alpha group here. Yes sir. Over.”
“Good. Omega out.”
Another wash of static, and the third voice fell silent.
“Pretty good patch job, Ketchum. Will the turbine cover hold?” Misty stood in front of Ash, who knelt in water that reached his waist.
“Should do, Mist. It won’t hold forever. You need a new cover. I can’t perform miracles. The steel's wearing thin, and eventually it’ll rupture again.”
He stood, feeling soggy.
Suddenly too hot to care if he got in trouble with Brock, he yanked his cloak off and pushed his scarf down, wiping away sweat with the back of his gloves.
“Good job, hat boy. C’mon, it’s almost lunchtime and I think Brock’s making some cold salad.”
Ash sighed, and decided that if he was going to walk around in black clothing all day long, it might as well be wet black clothing. With this thought, he flopped onto his back, making a splash. His cloak, sodden, slunk to the bottom of the puddle of water which was rapidly evaporating in the sun.
“Hat boy, if you don’t get off your ass I’ll-”
“You’ll what? Soak me? I’m already wet. You can’t hurt me, cause you’ve gotta touch me to do that, and soggy cotton softens any punches you might care to throw. Apart from that, you haven’t got much option to do anything, so let me lie here. I’m too hot to move.”
Ash looked up at her, shading his eyes with the back of his hand, black hair floating around his head like a dark halo in the water.
“Why do you call me hat boy anyway? It’s not like I’ve worn a hat for years.”
shrugged. “It suits you. Or would you prefer me to call you ‘Ashy-boy’ like
Ash shook his head vehemently.
“Okay then. C’mon, I’m hungry. Get up.”
“Ketchum, I can make your life a living hell. Get up, or-”
She was silenced by a sudden splash as Ash swept her off her feet, using his legs to knock hers from under her. Misty was dumped unceremoniously into the waist deep water, and spluttered as she spat out a mouthful.
Ash was laughing so hard, he didn’t see the look of white-hot rage on Misty’s face, nor his impending doom that approached him in the form of a high powered Water Gun from Marill.
Gasping and spluttering for air, Ash was still laughing even as Misty threw herself at him, knocking him back into the water.
Both Pikachu and Marill watched with some interest as the fight descended into a splash-slinging contest, before becoming embarrassed that their trainers were acting in such a childish manner.
Eventually though, Ash managed to get the upper hand on account of being some twenty or so kilos heavier than Misty. He knocked her down, and laughed, which turned into a grunt as she kneed him in the stomach. No longer a playful game, the contest rapidly turned into a competition to see who was stronger. Ash was the heaviest, and strongest, having a higher percentage of muscle tissue than Misty, but she was faster and smarter than Ash.
Eventually, brains triumphed over brawn, and Misty perched herself triumphantly on Ash’s chest as he lay flat on his back in the shallow water.
“Hah! Got you, Ketchum! Misty one, Ash nil.”
Ash groaned, more worried about the damage to his ego than the bruises he’d find tomorrow morning.
She sat on him, and laughed as she looked down.
To Ash, it was on of those perfect moments of timing.
At the exact moment she threw back her head and crowed in triumph, the sun burst out behind a lone cloud, throwing caressing golden beams down onto her, lighting her up, and shining through her sodden, bloody hair. Her eyes, half-closed, glowed in the light, bright blue, and her eyelashes shone a golden-tinged black. The position she was in cast her figure into profile, and Ash was struck –for the first time in his short, but eventful life- by how beautiful her face was. He let out a low gasp, unable to contain himself, and deep inside him, that dark creature writhed in delight at the thought of casting down such delicate strength.
“Gods help me...” he whispered, and unceremoniously toppled her, pushing her off him, yelping as gloved hands met soft flesh. He threw himself out of the water, and Misty, utterly confused, and more than just a little angry, sat up in the water and turned to look at him.
She would have been prepared for anything on his face, shock, anger, sadness, or fear. Anything, except for what she found.
Ash, sodden and dark, was watching her with a look of such barely restrained hunger that for a moment, he wasn’t human, but some ravenous animal.
She couldn’t bear the desperate yearning she saw in his eyes, and turned away, even as his feet pounded wetly against the pavement, sending him flying from there, from that pool of water, and her, wet and radiant in the sunlight.
“The eventuality of them becoming one is becoming harder to avoid, Sabrina. They are not ready, he is not strong enough, nor has she developed what you said she would.”
<We play a waiting game, Morty. Eventually, all will be right. It is their destiny.>
“All the same, it is a dangerous thing you do. What if she doesn’t, what if she can’t-”
will. As surely as she breathes, she will. She can no more deny herself than
“I know, but I worry, love. I worry.”
do I, Morty. As do
Morty laughed as he felt the assertion that life goes on, as his daughter kicked away within her mother’s womb.
“How do you know she is a girl?”
Sabrina fixed him with an incredulous violet gaze.
“Right, psychic, I got it.”
Sabrina sighed, and her next thought spiralled emptily into the depths of the ether.
<Once the maiden, now the mother... what next?>
Ash shivered. He was cold, even though where he was seated was arguably the hottest place in Pewter Haven. His sodden clothes steamed where he sat on the grill. Pikachu, who sat beside him, shook himself, spraying Ash with water.
He didn’t even blink.
Ash was having difficulty coming to terms with what he knew he was becoming. He remembered the year before, he’d gotten ill. Badly. Fever, cold sweats, delirium, the whole kit-and-caboodle.
Nurse Joy #11 had run some tests, and it had been found that what he had was like nothing they had ever seen before because he was like nothing they had ever seen before.
He wasn’t even human anymore.
Ash sighed, and wondered how in the name of all the gods he came to be in this mess.
All he wanted to do with his life was to be a successful trainer, and to do all the normal things that most people wanted to do. Get drunk, which he couldn’t do because for some reason, his body simply absorbed the alcohol; do stupid things, which he had pretty much down pat; fall in love, which he supposed he was already in, but how many guys who fell for a girl felt an unexplainable urge to drain her every drop of living essence from her body; and settle down and have kids. Considering that he was not even the same species as every one else, this would be a hard one to achieve.
Ash sighed again, suddenly feeling as depressed as Brock must have been all those years ago when his mother died.
The only difference was that he didn’t have a knife...
He stood, and walked to the edge of the railing, looking down upon the molten rock and Slugma below.
How easy would it be to just fall, and fall, and feel nothing but pain and then eventually release as his flesh was consumed in flame.
“Phew, it’s hot down here! Hey, Ash, what are you doing so close to the edge?” May’s voice, pleasing as it was, drilled through Ash’s thoughts like a Drill Peck from a very big Fearow.
“Nothing, May. Who sent you down here?”
He turned and the teen shrugged, brown pigtails wilting in the heat.
“You know who. Brocky’s worried about you.”
May was the only person Ash knew that could get away with calling Brock that more than once. Admittedly, others had called him that too, but generally it was only once, because afterwards they would be trying to collect all of their teeth and be crying “pleath! Don’t hurt me! I’m thorry!”
“Yeah, well, he can continue to be worried. I’m not coming up again to the surface until everyone else is dead.”
“Yeah, well, that’ll probably be by next Thursday considering there’s a score of Rockets heading this way. They’ve got tanks, guns and a whole lot of ammo. They’ve got some pretty heavy duty pokemon power too, so if they come here you won’t have to wait long before you can come up.”
She smiled at him, her normal effervescent expression belied by the fear in her eyes.
“Oh.” said Ash, unable to think of anything else to say.
“Yeah, ‘oh’. Anyways, Brocky would appreciate it if you saw fit to grace him with your presence so that you can explain your actions to him.”
Ash was stunned.
“Brock said that?” he asked, incredulously.
“Well, no,” admitted May, “what he said was ‘get Ash to haul his ass up here right now before Misty tries to kill me for not having him up here. Now, May!’ I think that was about it.” She paused. “No wait, every second or so word started with ‘f’ and Misty was throttling him when he said it, so he sounded a bit choked.”
“That certainly sounds like Brock. Misty’s mad at me right?”
“Actually, no. She wants to know why the hell you were looking at her like she was a piece of...” May took a deep breath, “double chocolate triple tiered quadruple fudge chocolate chip caramel sauced mud cake with icing five centimetres thick and a side dish of ice cream. Oh, and a cherry on top.”
“Oh. Um.” He paused for a moment, trying to figure out why the hell May was watching him so expectantly.
“What?” he eventually asked.
“Well? Why were you looking at her like she was a... you know what I said, don’t make me repeat it.”
Ash thought for a moment, considering his answer for a long time, before he finally spoke.
May just knew that his next answer would enlighten her as to the truth of what was going on between Ash and Misty. She waited with baited breath as he opened his mouth to speak.
“I...” he started.
“Yes?” asked May.
“..Don’t know.” finished Ash, brushing past her, and climbing up the ladder, Pikachu running after him.
May’s scream of frustration could be heard on the other side of the Haven.
“This is Charlie group, heading towards Pewter Haven. Request permission to launch and immediate attack upon arrival. Over.”
“Charlie, this is Omega. Permission denied. You are to follow the plan. I repeat, you are to follow the plan. Do not harm the target. Do not harm the target. Do you read me? Over.”
“Yes, we read you. Do not harm the target. But how can we do that sir? If we use the missile the target will-”
“I don’t care how you do it, just do it! If you don’t you’ll be dropped in the Carvahna pit!”
The sound of a nervous swallow crackled over the radio.
“Yes sir. Over.”
“Ash, I’m putting you on scout duty for two weeks.” Brock filled in the necessary paper work as he spoke. “By then, whatever has come between you and Misty should be over.”
“Fine.” Ash’s tone was as dead as the expression in his eyes.
“You’ll report to Jenny #9, and her commander, Jenny #1.”
“Will do.” Ash’s voice was still toneless, as though he were speaking on autopilot. Even Pikachu looked distant, eyes looking beyond the walls he faced as he perched on Ash’s shoulder.
“You’ll be given your weapon and ammo reel when you report for assigning tomorrow night. You’re leaving at nightfall because it’s less likely that your group will be spotted by Rocket Scouts.”
Brock was becoming disconcerted. He didn’t like the vacant look on Ash’s face, nor the empty silences where he said nothing other than meaningless affirmations.
“Ash, are you okay? You seem... distracted.”
Ash fell silent. The look in his eyes told Brock that’d he better be damn careful about what he said next, and damn sure in his abilities when the first punch was swung.
“Okay, you don’t have to tell me, but if something’s bothering you...”
Still Ash said nothing, and Brock trailed off in the face of the look he got from Pikachu, who regarded him with cold, amber eyes that said ‘you’re on thin ice, thin ice indeed. And it’s starting to creak...’
A lazy spark from Pikachu’s fur earthed itself on Brock’s wooden desk.
“Fine. Well, you can leave now if you want, and watch out for May. She wants to disembowel you with a rusty fish hook for some reason.”
Ash shrugged, not really caring if May disembowelled him or not, even if it was with a rusty fish hook.
He left without another word, and Brock shivered at the memory of the look in Pikachu’s eyes.
“Something ain’t right with that Pikachu...” he muttered, turning back to the pile of paperwork that faced him as the head of Pewter Haven Council.
To say that Ash felt numb would be a lie.
Ash felt like something was eating away at his insides, eroding his being, tearing him inside out.
This terrible sensation caused another, echoing one to rise up from the small place inside his mind where he still thought of himself as human.
You’re going insane, it whispered. You’re driving yourself insane.
No I’m not! I’m not doing anything, retorted Ash angrily. It’s not me that’s the one who killed Emilio! It’s not me!
It’s in your head. How can it not be you?
It just isn’t! That’s all. Someone put it there, not me.
Who, then? Who was the one that put it in your head? Who?
Ash couldn’t answer, and berated himself for arguing with the voices in his head. As he wandered aimlessly, he wondered if he really was insane. Wasn’t hearing voices in your head a sign of insanity?
“Pika...” murmured Pikachu, trying to comfort his trainer, who felt as lost as a feather blown on the wind.
“Thanks, little buddy, but it’s not working.” He scratched Pikachu behind the ears, and perched on a bench.
Around him flowed the crowd that was Pewter Haven. Those people that had jobs to do for the Council, the ordinary citizens, the children out on a school excursion, the pokemon trainers. All of them split around him, moving out of his way even though he was seated, and wet, and unlikely to do anything to them.
Ash felt empty.
He knew he wasn’t, knew that inside him was, at any one time, a couple of litres of blood, assorted vital organs, gods-only-knew how many little cells and molecules and organelles, all going about their daily business. There was also the remains of the toasted sandwich he had for breakfast, but that was probably mush by now.
With all that stuff inside him, how did he manage to feel empty?
It was the same as saying he felt alone, even as he was surrounded by people and pokemon of all shapes and sizes.
“I’m going crazy Pikachu. I’m going nuts. Wouldn’t it be much easier if the whole sorry escapade came to an end?” his voice was so heavily tinged with sadness, it seemed to sink into the little pokémon’s soul.
“When she looked at me, she looked away, as though she couldn’t stand what she saw. I wonder what she saw in me. I wish I knew, so I could take it back, and not have to worry about...” his voice trailed off, as he couldn’t bear to the say the words out loud.
Hurting her, he whispered in his mind, I wish I didn’t have to worry about hurting her.
No one told him what had happened all those years ago, no one told him that Misty would die if he touched her, but he knew it. He figured it out, from when he’d overheard Brock and May talking.
He sighed, stood and decided that he may as well try and figure it out as he walked. Things always came easier to him when he walked.
Misty shivered, though not due to cold.
She sat in her room in the house that had been given to her as hers. Marill rubbed her head against Misty’s leg, trying to get the red-head human to pat her, or at least scratch her behind the ears. Misty drew the blanket closer around her.
She felt cold, even though it was at least thirty-five degrees outside.
She felt scared, even though she knew she had nothing to be scared over.
Her head ached, as it did more and more often these days; raging, splitting headaches that niggled at her mind, and threatened to overcome her. Her fingertips tingled, as did every other square centimetre of skin on her body. She didn’t understand what it was that the prickling, nagging sensation, the one that burst through her pain like a Wailord erupting out of the water, was trying to tell her.
She flopped back against her bed, shivering violently, unable to stop her teeth chattering, and unable to resist the hot white light that burned her irises, even though she knew no such light was near her.
Her eyes, hot and grainy, fell shut, and she was swept into the tides of unconsciousness like a paper boat in a whirlpool.
Marill whined nervously, afraid for her trainer, and licked her cheek.
Misty didn’t stir, but she moaned in her sleep; a sad, anxious moan.
Marill, fearing the worst, leapt off the bed, and ran towards where she knew help lay.
<It’s happening, Morty. The first signs. Soon, she will awaken the sleeping beast buried within her mind.>
“A question, love. Why did you bind these abilities away from them? Why hold back a part of them? I know it was you. I can sense you all over their minds.”
<I do what I do because I do what I do. There is no other reason. Fate is a cruel mistress. Sometimes, she requires me to do things I would rather not. This was one of them. I knew what she would become even before she was born, even before I was aware of the task that the three had chosen for me.>
“That doesn’t answer my question.”
<No, Morty, it does not. Nor will it. Even I cannot explain such an occurrence. I knew that I had to, so I did. Simple. Do not worry yourself overly much. It is all proceeding as woven, as set within the pattern. All we must do is watch, and wait for the signs, any signs that a thread is coming loose.>
“You are a very enigmatic woman when you want to be, you know that?”
<Of course. I am fate. I know everything.>
“Her pupils are dilating normally... although it’s obvious that the lights are on, but no-ones home. She’s not just asleep, she’s unconscious. She won’t wake until her body’s ready.” Nurse Joy pocketed her penlight, and closed Misty’s eyes. Her normally happy face was serious when she spoke. “She needs to rest. I think you should know, sir that she’s complained of headaches for some time now. I have prescribed pain relief, but even the strongest of prescription medicines –morphine, ibroprufen- do nothing. I do not know what to do to help her. I would recommend a CAT scan, but we do not have the machinery installed at the hospital. I can do nothing to help.”
Brock frowned, crossing his arms. Behind him, Max and May waited anxiously.
“There’s nothing at all? Nothing?”
The nurse shook her head sadly.
“What about it being psychosomatic? The headaches could be a symptom of an underlying mental problem.”
“I considered that, sir,” reproached the nurse, “and no problems, mentally or otherwise, would lead to headaches as vicious as these. It is still an option though; has she had a falling out with someone, someone close? I understand that she has no remaining family, but the loss of a close friend, and the grief at such a parting, even if the friend is still alive, might be the cause of her problems.”
“Very well. I’ll try and talk to Ash. Maybe he knows what is happening. May, can you stay here? I don’t think Misty should be alone when she wakes up. Max, you help Nurse Joy take her things back to the hospital. Nurse, if you think of anything else, don’t hesitate to tell me.”
“Yes, sir.” The nurse left, Max in tow, and for a moment, May and Brock watched Misty sleep, her fretful Marill waiting for her to wake.
“Is she going to be okay, Brock? I can’t stay for very long, and I don’t know if she’ll wake up before I leave. I just gotta know: is she going to be okay?”
Brock looked down at the girl, and for only the third time in all the years she had known him, May saw fear in Brock’s eyes.
“I hope so, May. I hope so.”
“This is Delta group
“This is Echo group. The
“This is Omega. Very good kiddies, now it’s time for a quick nap before the fun really begins. Set up camp and prepare to wait. Do not attack. I repeat, do not attack. I know it’s tempting, but DO NOT ATTACK. Over.”
“Yes sir, Delta group are biding their time. Over.”
“Yes sir, Echo are waiting patiently for the signal, sir. Over.”
“Very good kiddies. Daddy is very pleased. Omega out.”
“Brock, I’ve got to get some sleep. I’m leaving for scout duty tonight, and if I do-”
Brock interrupted Ash, who rubbed sleepy eyes as he stood in his doorway.
Ash’s expression was impossible to read. It wasn’t just that the majority of Ash’s face was covered by the scarf; it was that what little emotions showed in his eyes had been stunned.
When Ash spoke, his voice was impassive, but Brock could hear the underlying strain that threatened to crack through.
As Brock filled him in, he noticed the tenseness in Ash’s frame evaporate, and that those eyes, so previously blank, filled with a dark and terrible hunger.
Brock tried and failed to suppress a shudder.
Either Ash didn’t notice, or he didn’t care. His mind was obviously preoccupied with her, and it was all Brock could do to catch up with him when he started to run.
Ash wasn’t the fastest person Brock had ever met, but now urgency lent an edge to his speed, and Ash fairly flew as he ran.
Marill looked up as the human that smelt of earth burst through the door, followed closely by the marillrillma, the empty-creature that panicked when he saw her trainer. He ran up the stairs, up to the open loft that was used as Misty’s bedroom, taking the stairs three at a time.
“Ash, she’s not going anywhere, take your time! If you fall and break your neck, she’ll-”
Ash ignored Brock, and knelt by Misty’s bed. His hands were gloved, but even so, he hesitated to touch her.
He gently, slowly and his touch lighter than that of a feather, brushed away a wisp of hair from her face. She didn’t stir, but Ash jolted back when he touched her.
He yanked his scarf off his face, and the glove off his hand, staring at his fingers in shock, wonder and just a little fear.
“Ash! What’s wrong?”
“When I touched her, I felt something. Something through the glove. That’s impossible. How could I feel something through the glove?”
Brock was concerned, but Ash wasn’t finished yet.
“It wasn’t a memory, it wasn’t even part of her, it was a... sense of something. A sense of change.” He turned to the older man, worry showing in dark-amber eyes.
“She’s changing, Brock. She’s changing. But...” he turned back to the sleeping woman, and his voice was both painful and joyous when he spoke. “...into what?”
“Their auras have collided. Why isn’t she dead?” Morty’s tone was as blunt as his words.
“You said that she would die if their auras collided. You and I both know that although the aura is usually confined to the boundary of the skin, hers is not. Why isn’t she dead?”
<Misty will not die just yet. Aura collision occurs constantly. Your aura collides with mine on a frequent basis. In fact, at the moment, you are open to any suggestion I might have due to this fact. How do you think I communicate with a mind such as yours?>
“Do not change the topic. You said she would die.”
<And die she will. Misty will die eventually, as will Ash, and it will have been their joint decision to do so. And their deaths will result from aura collision also.>
“You lied to them.”
Morty turned to her, hoping to see some fragment of guilt in her eyes over her duplicity.
Instead, he found the sure knowledge that she was right.
Morty turned away, aware that the fate of the world –indeed the fate of the human race in all future worlds- rested on the whim of a woman who could, at any moment she chose, turn him into a small ornament.
Somehow, Morty felt that this was not ideal for humanity’s continued survival.
“Delta group, this is Omega.
Begin first phase of the attack on
“This is Delta. Yes sir, it is understood. All targets will be destroyed, no prisoners taken, no quarter given. Over.”
“Good. No looting. Just destruction. And warn the boys that any slaves taken will be surrendered to team leaders, then destroyed. We want no witnesses. Over.”
“Yes sir. Over.”
“Good. Omega out.”
The first thing Misty felt when she woke up was a headache.
A bad one.
Misty had been plagued with headaches for sometime now, longer than Nurse Joy had realised, but this headache took the cake in terms of pain.
Misty decided it would probably be wise if she didn’t open her eyes. She tried to relax and concentrate on something else, rather than the ring of pain between her temples, which was constantly tightening, and felt like barbed wire digging into her skin.
She could hear voices, faintly, so faintly, but she tried to discern what was being said.
Gradually, the words became clearer.
“... put your gloves back on. If she wakes up and you touch, she’ll be dead before we can ask what is wrong. Scarf too, please.”
“I don’t see the point of the scarf. Why do I have to wear something over my mouth? It’s not like I’ve ever been touched on the mouth.”
“There is always a possibility. I listen to my secretaries’ talk about you all day and how ... gorgeous... they think you are. I don’t hesitate to think that if one of them caught you alone they would yank that scarf off you in no time flat.”
Ash, for that was who the second voice was, fell silent.
Knowing him, he was probably either blushing, or sending Brock an artic glare.
She supposed the latter, as she hadn’t seen Ash blush for over three years now.
“It’s not a scarf, Brock. It’s a length of some sheer fabric, like opaque gauze.”
“Where did you learn such a big word, Ash? Don’t tell me you’ve been reading, or heaven forbid, learning something?” Brock’s voice was mockingly incredulous, and in response to this, Ash told Brock to go copulate with himself.
Misty decided it was time to make her presence felt.
“Language please, Ketchum,” she managed to whisper.
Her throat felt as dry as sand.
“Misty!” the sound of Ash’s voice was like chocolate for the ears.
“Welcome to the world of the living, Misty. Scarf boy’s been worried about you.” Brocks voice, a baritone rumble that dripped from his tongue like honey from a comb.
Misty opened her eyes, and winced at the bright light that seared her retinas. Of course, the light streaming in through the open window was bright, as it was midday, but not nearly as bright as she supposed. Her eyes were raw and bloodshot.
“Mist, you look terrible.”
“Ash, she could easily have said that of you. Look, she flinched when she woke and saw your face.”
Ash told Brock to go copulate with himself again.
“Ketchum, don’t swear in my house. Marill is an impressionable young pokemon, as is Pikachu.”
The golden and blue mice pokemon looked up at Misty’s words, and Marill leapt onto the bed, licking her trainers face.
“And for the record, Brock, I am of a mind to agree with your secretaries. I flinched at the light, not at Ash’s appearance. It’s too bright in here.”
She cupped her hand over her eyes, wincing at the bright light that seared against her vision.
“I’ll shut the curtains.” As Ash busied himself, fussing over Misty in a way that reminded Brock of a mother Pidgey, Brock grew pensive.
He still remembered that night in Saffron, and he knew the symptoms of whatever disease had found its home in Ash well.
For weeks before they had arrived in Saffron Ash suffered from headaches. Bad ones. Brock couldn’t help the boy; no pain-killers seemed to work. After the headaches came the sensitivity to light. They’d had to stop travelling for a week as Ash had been temporarily blinded from exposure to sunlight. After that, there was the final symptom: loss of appetite and nausea. Ash Ketchum, the boy with the bottomless stomach, had been unable to hold down a glass of water.
When Ash had recovered, they made their way onwards, Max, May and the patient himself convinced that whatever had plagued Ash had passed on.
Now Brock understood why Ash had been sick.
His body had been preparing itself for a massive change, a change that the poor boy, still weak from his few weeks of illness, had been unable to resist.
Misty was developing the same signs.
According to the nurse, the headaches had already been, now she was light-sensitive.
Only the final stage left.
He figured that Misty wouldn’t give in without a fight, though.
Misty was fiercely private. She’d almost killed the man responsible for a violation of her body, and sure as hell she wasn’t going to let some part of her mind tell her what to do.
But... if she was weakened...
Brock was about to expand on this theory when his mobile rang.
It was a private number; only the commanders of the other places left alone by the Rockets knew the number.
He excused himself from the room –wondering if it was really a good idea to leave Ash and Misty alone- and answered the call.
Ash, who’d had to lean over Misty to tie shut the curtains, leant back in his seat by the bed.
“I was worried about you.” He murmured, and there was a strange look in his eyes that Misty couldn’t –or wouldn’t- recognise.
“Yeah, well, I was worried about me too.” She smiled at him, and he smiled back. They could hear Brock talking to someone in the background, but to them, the voice was insignificant.
Misty, whose eyes were still sore, but whose headache was receding somewhat, felt strange.
She remembered the way Ash had looked at her, before, whilst they were in the water.
There had been a... hunger... in his eyes, a hunger that caused strange, but not unpleasant sensations to ripple down her spine.
She knew that the boy from Pallet cared for her, in some way or form, just as he knew that she cared for him.
He didn’t know that she loved him, though, and love him she did. What had started as a childish crush had grown into something much, much more over the years.
She knew she would eventually have to tell him one day, but for everyday that passed, let that day be tomorrow.
She didn’t know if she could trust herself to cope with his rejection.
And as for the hunger in his eyes...
It reminded her of the barbaric lust she’d seen in his eyes, shortly before he’d...
She blinked, trying to reassemble her thoughts.
If it was lust that she saw -and she wasn’t entirely sure it was- she didn’t know how she would cope.
Misty distrusted men. It wasn’t that she hated them, some of her closest friends were male, but she who had been hurt so very badly in her past hadn’t entirely regained her trust in the male side of her species.
But then... Ash technically wasn’t the same species as she was anymore.
She’d overheard the nurses talking a few years back.
Ash wasn’t human anymore.
But then... if he wasn’t human... what was he?
“Misty? Why are you staring at me?”
Misty –to her eternal horror- blushed.
“Sorry. Just thinking.”
Ash seemed hesitant. She knew what had come between them before had put them both on edge, especially her, but she reasoned with herself as she straightened up in the bed: was that any reason for her to ruin their friendship?
“Ash...” she began, nervous as to how she was going to ask him, “Why exactly did you-”
Her sentence was cut off by the wrenching of the bedroom door as it was flung open.
“Pallet’s under attack!” yelled Brock, “Pallet’s under attack! Council meeting in five minutes, and Ash you’ve gotta be there too!”
Ash blanched at the thought of his hometown being attacked, and especially his mother being in danger, but he turned to Misty, as if waiting for her question.
There was sadness in his eyes, and that same need as she’d seen before, but there was something else as well...
A kind of tenderness she’d never seen before.
“Go, Ash. You gotta go. I’ll be fine.”
For a moment, his gaze focused on hers, and for the longest second Misty had ever felt, his eyes were molten with a fierce and powerful longing, a longing that caused a strange, echoing aching sensation inside of her to cry out for him.
He nodded, and fled, Pikachu in his wake.
Misty shivered, unable to bear that yearning that she had seen in his gaze.
“This is Delta. Wish to report that attack on Pallet was successful, however some survivors –we think half a dozen- escaped. Over.”
“Not good, kiddies. Get those stragglers before they hit somewhere with reinforcements. As for the other groups... prepare yourselves for the next phase of the plan. Over.”
Half a dozen voices echoed an agreement to the static voice of their leader.
“Yes sir. Over.”
“Good. Omega out.”
Ash felt strangely numb as he listened to reports of how his hometown was dying. Apparently, there’d been a surprise attack launched by Team Rocket, and the town had fallen to the massive amount of soldiers. Gary Oak was leading the only group of survivors towards Pewter, and Brock had already organised a group of soldiers to go out and meet them.
Ash hadn’t been included, and he knew better than to protest.
He knew perfectly well the reason why Brock hadn’t let him go –and the reason May was regarding him with such pity in her eyes- was because his mother had been reported as among the dead.
Her body hadn’t been found, but Ash knew she was dead.
He could feel it.
It was curious that he did not know how much completeness she leant him until said completeness was removed. There was another aching emptiness inside him, the emptiness left by the loss of the only parent he had ever known. Ash had never known his father, and didn’t think he was alive in any case, but now he truly was an orphan.
Pikachu, who had been almost as devastated by the news as he had, nuzzled up against him, amber eyes large and sorrowful. Strangely enough, pokemon weren’t affected by his... disability; it was only humans who were drained.
Brock dismissed the council, and turned to Ash, who looked as vacant as an empty stretch of desert.
“Ash? Go talk to Misty. She’ll want to know what happened. I know things are a bit tense between you two at the moment-”
Ash’s head, which had previously been hanging down, snapped upwards, and Ash let out a sound reminiscent of the hiss of an angry Arbok.
“-and I know you’re probably going to kill me for asking what’s going on between you two –especially at a time like this- but I have to know.”
For a moment, Ash’s eyes were cold and empty. Then, much to Brock’s surprise, tears shimmered in the boy’s eyes.
“Gods, Brock, what am I going to do? My mother’s d-d...” Ash took a deep shuddering breath, “dead, the worlds going to hell on a hand-cart, I’ve got some weird disease that means I can’t maintain physical contact, I’m in love with someone who I feel a unwholesome and incredibly seductive desire to harm in any and all ways possible, and to make things worse, I’m not even the same species as her! I’ve not even been eighteen for a full day yet! I’m just a kid! I can’t cope with this!”
Ash let out a strangled moan, and slumped forward, sobs shaking his shoulders.
“I’m surprised at you, Ash. If anyone could cope with something like that, it’d be you.”
Ash looked up, tears staining his scarf.
“After all,” continued Brock, “you’re Ash Ketchum, wonder trainer. You’ve earnt more badges than most people have ever seen, you do things most people can’t dream of, and you’ve won the affection of the most amazing woman I know. And believe me, I know heaps. Yes, your mothers dead. So is mine. You know what that did to me. I don’t want to see the same thing happen to you. I don’t mean to sound cold, but snap out of it!”
The sudden shout caused Ash to shudder.
“Yes, you’re suffering, and more than most and in ways I can’t even begin to imagine. But here’s a news flash: just because you’re hurting doesn’t mean you can give up. You’ve had pain before, maybe not as bad as this, but you’ve coped. Start coping now, scarf boy, or you’re gonna die like the rest of us. Stop thinking about your problems, and start thinking about what you’ve got.”
Ash blinked, and the tears slowed.
“She’s gone, and that’ll leave a hole. Especially when you’re close to her. And it won’t go away, and it won’t ease, but eventually you’ll be able to put it out of your mind until it’s easier to bear. And yes, I’ll admit you and Misty are pretty fucked up right now, but hey, what relationship isn’t? And don’t go giving me anything about how you didn’t mean what you said, 'cause anyone’s just got to look at you Ash to see the truth. Your problems will sort themselves out, but only if you put some effort in. Right now, it’d be smart for you to start concentrating on how you’re going to get revenge on those Rocket bastards. After all, you’re the only one who stands a chance against them.”
Brock gave Ash something that wasn’t a smile, but not a frown either.
“Now get on with it, scarf boy, or I’ll have to go talk to Misty myself.”
Ash blinked again, stood, and moved mechanically out of the room, not being able to think but to wonder at how that was the longest speech he’d ever heard Brock say.
Pikachu, who was grateful to the older man for snapping Ash out of his dangerous emotional state, nodded at Brock, and followed Ash out.
Brock sighed and shook his head.
“That was a very nice thing you did.” Brock shrugged at hearing May’s voice. He’d thought she was outside, but she must’ve snuck in through the backdoors.
“No, I just did what had to be done. Misty would’ve probably done the same, and probably wouldn’t have sounded like such an utter bastard in doing so.”
He turned to the teen, who regarded him with thoughtful blue eyes.
“You better not go thinking I’m a nice guy now.”
She smiled, but it was sad.
“I know you’re a nice guy. Still, Misty’s dying right now so I doubt she would’ve been able to help Ash, even if she does love him.”
Brock grunted. “So you can see it too, huh?”
“Yep. It’s kinda obvious. Still, both Ash and Misty can be dense when they need to be, and I guess they didn’t really want to become too close because there’s the whole Ash not being able to touch thing.”
“Yeah, there is that. I think something’s happening to Misty, and I think it’s the same thing that happened to Ash. I’m not sure, but I think.”
“Maybe they’ll balance out. Everybody knows those two are going to end up together. It’s just one of those things, like the sky being blue, and you being girl-crazy, although that seems to have swapped around. All the girls are crazy about you, it seems.”
“I could’ve used that when I was sixteen and driven crazy by testosterone, not twenty-four and responsible. Oh well. At least your brother doesn’t have an excuse to yank me by the ears any more.”
“There is that.”
The pair turned to the doors where Ash had departed from, their manners serious.
“He’s gonna be okay, right?”
“’course he is. He’s Ash Ketchum, remember?”
“Ash! What happe-” Misty cut herself off mid-sentence when she saw Ash’s face.
Ash who’d climbed the stairs on autopilot suddenly found himself in her arms, being comforted by her, his head buried in her neck, her hair acting as a barrier between the two of them. Distantly, he could feel her rubbing his back and could hear the soft, murmuring sounds she made as she held him.
“I’m sorry...” she whispered.
“What for? You didn’t do anything.” Ash managed a feeble laugh, but it sounded choked.
“If I hadn’t got sick, you would’ve been sent to Pallet and maybe you could’ve-”
“What? Got myself killed most likely. It was going to happen anyway, Mist.”
He raised his head, and met her gaze. The churning emotions in the pit of his stomach raged again as all of his conflicting emotions regarding her came to the fore.
Unbeknownst to Misty, she slowly raised her hand, and tugged his scarf down, not touching his skin.
They were only a few centimetres apart, maybe less, and he was suddenly aware of the fact that he was sitting on her bed, beside her, her mouth was so close to his own...
On Misty’s part, the blood that screamed out for him seethed inside her, and the sudden, irresistible urge to meet his mouth with hers was overpowering...
Ash knew what was going to happen. She was going to kiss him, he’d kiss her back, and in doing so, seal her fate. She was going to die, and he couldn’t do anything about it...
The aching loss inside him intensified at the thought of losing her, and Ash knew that if he didn’t do something about it, he’d die from the pain of losing her.
“We can’t...” he whispered, as she moved closer, and his eyes closed. “We can’t!” he jerked back, inwardly berating himself for refusing such a glorious thing, but not wanting to face the emptiness her death would bring.
“I don’t want you to die, Mist. If you were gone, I don’t think I could handle it anymore...”
Misty closed her eyes.
On her part, she was sure that Ash had not meant what he’d just said, and didn’t want her.
“You don’t have to lie to me to make me feel better-” she began, but Ash cut her off.
“I’m not. You have no idea how badly I want you, but we can’t. If I lost you –and you’re the most precious thing I have left- it’d kill me.”
She opened her eyes, and saw in his gaze the emotion she’d refused to recognise, unable to believe it was there.
Judging by the startled gasp he gave, it was obvious to her he’d seen the same in her eyes.
Neither of them needed to say it, for they both knew. There was silence, during which, Ash rearranged himself to lie beside her, albeit above the covers.
“How long, Mist?”
“Since I met you, I guess. How long?”
“Since I was eleven.”
Both fell silent again. Then...
“I owe Brock twenty dollars.”
Misty turned to Ash, incredulous.
“When I was thirteen, Brock bet me twenty dollars that I’d be as lovesick as he was by the time I turned eighteen. He was right.”
“This makes things complicated.”
“Well, for starters, there’s the fact I can’t touch you, or vice versa. There’s also the fact that I wouldn’t actually know if you wanted me to, considering what happened to you in the past. Then there’s the fact that I’ve got this uncontrollable desire to hurt you, which I don’t want to do, and as well as the fact that I want you so bad it hurts.”
Misty nodded, slightly scared by Ash’s words, but also –in a strange way- comforted by them.
“We have a lot of problems.” She agreed.
“Sabrina, this is getting dangerous. It won’t be long until they-”
<Calm yourself, Mortimer. What they are experiencing is essential to their development. All humans need pain to experience pleasure.>
“It’s not that I’m worried about. The pair are very close. You can see their auras interposing, and nuzzling up against each other. You know what such a situation usually leads to.”
Morty’s silver eyes opened wide when he caught the sly grin that she gave him, as she raised an eyebrow.
<Do I, Morty?>
To his surprise, and much to Sabrina’s amusement, Morty felt hot blood rise in his cheeks.
She knew exactly what the pair were going through, as she’d experienced it herself some eight and a half months ago, he realised belatedly.
<Yes, I know what is going to happen, but it will not. Not yet. They are close now, closer than they have ever been, but they need to be inseparable for what little hope I have in them to be rewarded.>
“It is a grave risk, my love.”
<That is true. But wasn’t I the one who told you that when you first meshed your aura with mine? I do remember that, even as I remember your reply...>
“Without risk, there cannot be a reward.” murmured Morty, and the smile Sabrina gave him reminded him as to why he’d sought her out in the first place.
<Do not trouble yourself. He will do nothing to hurt her. He cannot. It is against his nature to do so. When she has reached her full potential –if she reaches her full potential- you will see what will happen. Till then, do not trouble yourself.>
Brock came with (a) Nurse Joy to visit the pair, as he knew Ash was still at Misty’s. What he didn’t expect was to find the two of them, fast asleep in her room with the curtains drawn, lying side by side, not touching except for her hand tangled in his gloved one, and Pikachu and Marill at the foot of the bed. The pokemon where tangled together in a way that made separating blue fur from golden almost impossible. Both pokemon raised their heads, and Brock and the nurse smiled as they left the room.
Both knew that the pair needed the rest.
“Delta reporting sir. Wish to reply that we cannot find the survivors. I repeat, we cannot find the survivors. They might have met up with a scouting party from Pewter. Over.”
“This is Omega. Not happy. Find those stragglers, or die trying! If you need to, chase them towards the groups lying in wait near Pewter. Let them die as they come in sight of the city’s gates. Omega out.”
“Yes sir. Over.”
Max, who was mapping the outer wall, looked up when he heard the sound of gunfire. The refugees from pallet, along with scout force #3, where running to the gates, under a hail of gunfire. A lone voice, one that might have been nasal in its owner’s youth, cried out.
Bullets pinged harmlessly off a transparent shield. What alarmed Max the most, even as he grabbed his radio and barked orders into it, was that most of the gunfire seemed to be coming from the woods leading up to the Haven.
Area that was believed to be uninhabited now held Rockets.
As the snipers flooded the wall, and as the Rocket’s firing were picked off, and as the screeches of armoured bird pokemon –who swooped and killed unsuspecting soldiers- rang out, Max found himself huddled in a corner, wishing that Brock would hurry up and get here.
they were lying in wait outside the city’s gates? That’s foul,” May shook her
head as one of Pewter’s many Nurse Joy’s attended to the bullet wound on
Brock, who watched as the younger man winced, but didn’t make any other sounds as the needle she was using to stitch his flesh went in and out, in and out, frowned.
“Max tells me they were lying in wait outside the Haven as well. If they’ve been there for a couple of days –and I think they have- they’ve had plenty of time to get in and out. Why haven’t they?”
might be planning to do the same thing as Pallet: surround it, then take it
over at night-fall. But, it looked like there was more than one group out there,
and considering Pewter is surrounded by mountains, they might be hiding in
“Pewter’s a fortress. Why would they bother?” asked May.
“Maybe they’re after something inside.”
Ash, who still looked half asleep, was leaning on the door frame. He yawned as he walked up to them. His eyes were wide awake, though.
“It’s like the method Clamperl hunter’s use. Attack the body from all sides. It can’t ward off all the attacks, even if it is well defended. Eventually, it’ll spit out the pearl. Maybe they’re hoping that we’ll give up whatever or whomever they’re after in order to stop the attacks. They’ll be counting on you, Brock, to want to ensure the safety of every person here at the cost of one life.”
It seemed to Brock that Ash knew a lot for someone who’d just woken up. And then there was the slight matter of the purple tinge to his irises. Where that came from, he didn’t know...
He rubbed his eyes with a hand, and when you could see his eyes again, the violet was gone.
“How’d I know that?” he asked to no-one in particular.
looked over at
“How’d she die?” he asked softly. The words barely caused a ripple across the fabric covering his mouth.
House burnt down. Mimey was found some miles away, with her body. He’d
teleported out after he heard the shot. We tried to give her a burial, but the
Rockets came too fast. She was burnt on a pyre like the rest of the bodies we
you.” He turned back to Brock. “Why didn’t you wake me? Pikachu and I could’ve
“And get shot in the process, after which your girlfriend would slaughter me, revive me, and slaughter me again.” He gave Ash a brief grin. “Speaking of our favourite red-head, how is she?”
“Asleep. She felt a bit nauseous before, but I think she’ll be okay.”
I missing something here? When did Ash have a girl-friend? I thought you
couldn’t... you know...”
“Ashy-boy here is very much enamoured of a certain red-haired, blue-eyed, drop-dead gorgeous water trainer.” Brock grinned at Ash, who shrugged, and rummaged in his pockets.
“Here. That’s what I owe you.”
A twenty dollar note was thrust at Brock, whose eyebrows threatened to disappear into his hair.
“Me and Mist sorted things out. She loves me, I love her. We’re cool.”
You mean you and that bossy, irritating, scrawny, red-haired braargh-”
asked Ash innocently, but there was a sheen of madness to his eyes that made
play nice. Don’t make me put you in time out.” This from Brock, who couldn’t
help but smile. He hadn’t liked
“We were rivals once. Don’t make me hate you again.” He blinked, and the anger in his eyes faded.
well, now that we’ve finished brandishing testosterone like some sort of
weapon, I would like
“Delta? Delta are you there? This is Omega. Pick up now. Over.”
Nothing but a wash of static.
“Delta! Answer now! Over.”
“This is Omega. Delta group MIA, presumed dead. Proceed to the next phase at nightfall. Omega out.”
“What has you so thoughtful, Sabrina?”
<Gary Oak should be dead. Perhaps the patterns I have woven are not as strong as I thought they were...>
<It is not a question of who has died; it is the question of who will die. I do so hope it is not him, or even her. It will ruin my weaving as surely as a Skitty ruins a ball of string.>
“I hope so too. If it does, we’re... well, fucked.”
Misty shivered pleasantly. The bed covers were warm, but she was happy for some other reason... the fogginess of sleep evaporated, leaving her with the memory of her and Ash’s last conversation.
It seemed for once, the fates were kind.
It was a pity she had no idea that the fates were only seemingly kind, and were so for their own purposes.
“Well, your refugees will have to stay in the barracks for now. Later on, we’ll arrange some more permanent accommodation, but for now that’ll have to do. Gary, any members of your little group able to fight? Conventional warfare or otherwise. We’d appreciate all the soldiers we could get our hands on.”
“I can fight with Alakazam, Jolteon and my other pokemon. I don’t know if any of the other trainers in my group will be able to though...”
“That’s okay,” piped up May, “as long as we’ve got your Alakazam we can reflect bullets.”
“May, you’re supposed to be helping Nurse Joy(s). Not hanging around, bothering me.”
“Nurses Joy sent me away ‘cause I was too noisy.”
Brock rolled his eyes. “Why am I not surprised...”
May poked her tongue out at him, and to her surprise, Brock retaliated in the same way.
“Brock, stop acting like a four year old. What do you want me to do?”
“Huh? Oh, right. Ash, I want you to go back to construction detail.”
the incredulous look on Ash’s partially covered face, Brock continued. “Yes, I
know you can fight as well or even better than
“It’s not fair. Why is my life dictated by what she says?”
“Because you love her. Simple. Get used to being ordered around by her, because that’s what’s going to happen for the rest of your life.”
“Oh well. At least it’s her that’s ordering me around.”
Now I suggest you head back to her house. She might be waking up. Oh, and show
barracks are past Misty’s house. I’d have to stop in, check on her, and-” Ash
cut himself off. “Right. C’mon
walked off, leaving a puzzled
Misty’s house was a modest construction, quite like the other houses being small and more of a cottage. Ash smiled. He slept at the barracks like most of the young men and women, but he liked Misty’s house.
how come she gets a house and I have to sleep in barracks?” asked
“Misty is responsible for the Haven’s water supply. Without her, we’d have no water. She maintains the pipes and the machinery, makes sure the underground spring is clean and not too greatly taxed by its use, and when we had a drought last year, she used her water pokemon to supply Pewter with water for three days. That’s why she’s so important.”
“It’s not that great a house,” he sniffed, as Ash opened the door.
“Hey, don’t you need a key? Why’d she leave it unlocked?”
“Simple,” said Ash as the walked into the modestly furnished lounge, “No-one in Pewter steals. The reason being, the last thief was caught by Brock.”
“We buried what was left of him three days later. Stupid fool tried to steal from Brock’s house.”
stairs led to Misty’s bedroom –
The stairs looked old, and treacherously creaky. Strangely though, Ash didn’t make a sound as he walked.
you better have not brought a stranger into my house,” Misty’s voice sounded
Misty yawned, and smiled up at Ash, standing at the top of the stairs.
“Only if he’s not with you. What’s up?”
“Brock told me to come and visit you.”
“And since when do you do what Brock says?”
“Since it involves him getting me out of the way so he and Max can strategise.”
“Hmm. You were never really good at strategy. Well, I suppose I’d better get up.”
“You still feel sick?”
Misty shook her head, tangled red hair rustling over her pillow.
“Just a little tired. My eyes aren’t sore anymore either.”
C’mon, I’ve gotta show
Misty yawned again and stood.
Gary, who was still waiting at the foot of the stairs, was getting impatient.
“C’mon, Ketchum! Are we going or what?”
“Calm yourself, mister Oak. If you want to be mad at anyone, be mad at me for being slow at getting out of bed.” The voice that replied was female, and Misty’s.
Misty, who’d managed to change into something other than her pyjamas –with a blushing Ash startled and whipping around to face the other way- and brushed her hair.
“Well, let’s get on with it. Marill, here. Pikachu, your trainer’s here.”
Pikachu, who’d been sleeping in Marill’s basket, told Ash to come back later in Pikachu.
Ash grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, was Thunder-shocked for his insolence, but didn’t care.
we gotta go. Do you really want
Pikachu perked up immediately, sparks crackling from his cheek-pouches.
All set, Ash headed down stairs, followed by Misty.
At the sight of her, Gary Oak realised why exactly Ash Ketchum was smitten.
To his eyes, she was average height, and slender; boyish hips hugged by a pair of cut-off jeans. She was pale, only the faintest dust of freckles across her nose. A stubborn chin was offset by full lips, and her hair –red and long- curled around her face.
Her eyes were what caught his attention, though.
Blue as the summer sky on a cloudless day, and deep as the ocean in winter.
Blue eyes that held the potential to storm, or calm.
Ash sent him a look as if to say “Now you see?”
“Satisfied, mister Oak? If you’re finished giving me the once over to see how I captured the affections of Ash Ketchum, can we go? The sooner you get to the barracks, the sooner I can go and check on the water fountain –not that I doubt your ability to weld Ash, I just want to check on it, is all.”
Ash rolled his eyes.
“Sure, Mist. You don’t doubt me at all.”
“Well, Ketchum, you have to admit you don’t have a very good track record. The last thing you welded turned into a pile of molten mush.”
“That was because I didn’t know how!” said Ash hotly, “but Officer Jenny #5 taught me how, thank you very much.”
Pikachu snorted in derision.
Pikachu. You’re supposed to support me, you know. Not bag me out.”
Gary, who was becoming impatient, crossed his arms.
“Can we go now? Much as I’d like to stand here admiring the... huh, architecture... I’d like to get Jolteon to a nurse.”
When Gary had been seen to a nurse –who sternly admonished Misty for being out of bed, even though the girl protested she was fine- and then shown to the barracks, Misty and Ash walked slowly back towards the water fountain.
It was darker now, the sun starting to set and draping long shadows over buildings and statues.
“See? It’s in one piece like I told you it would be. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
“I suppose it’ll do... although I do think you could’ve done a better job.”
“With a pocket welder? I don’t think so. And stop complaining. It’s in one piece isn’t it?”
Misty gave him a non-committal grunt.
Pikachu and Marill behind them chattered quietly in their own language, and Ash noticed no-one was out beside them.
Both sat on a bench, and due to some internal impulse, Misty laid her head on his shoulder.
Ash didn’t mind.
The water burned in gold light as the sun set.
“All units surrounding
Pewter: prepare for attack. Do not attempt to storm walls. Simply attack all
weaknesses and entrances. It’s play time, kiddies. Over.”
“Yes sir. Over.”
“Will do sir. Over.”
“As you say sir. We’re going to have fun tonight! Over.”
“Good. Omega out.”
“Pewter’s defences are impregnable. What hope do the Rockets have of succeeding in their attack?”
<The Rockets hope to force Pewter to retaliate, in which they will expose a weakness. They seek their target.>
“And who exactly is that?”
<One of Brock’s closest friends. I am certain that he will not sacrifice their life, even if it were for the lives of the whole of Pewter. For Brock, it has always been all, or nothing.>
“You mean Ash.” stated Morty, certain that he was right.
Sabrina turned to him, and smiled.
<Do I just?>
Pewter awoke to the smell of smoke.
“We’re under attack!” screeched one of the many sentries on guard, “we’re under attack!”
The wall the missile had been fired at still stood, although it was horribly blackened and still steaming from the weight of the explosion.
“Gyarados! HYPER BEAM!”
The screech of the dragon pokemon woke what little remaining people there were in Pewter who had been still asleep.
The walls shook as Brock made his way along them, and white hot light flared as a massive stream of energy was fired at the gates. The gates, made from the stone of his father’s deceased Onix, stood still, holding up against the beam, but was charred and blackened.
“Gods above us...” whispered Brock as he surveyed what lay before him.
Thousands of Rocket soldiers. Tanks, missile launchers. Pokemon of all shapes and sizes, and all types.
Another Hyper Beam was launched at the gates, and Brock shaded his eyes from the burning light.
“Attention Pewter Haven! Attention Pewter Haven! You are surrounded. You cannot win. Fulfil our commands, and your deaths will be swift!”
He squinted, trying to focus on the speaker, but could not see through the smoke. The voice itself was crackly, electronic. He couldn’t tell if it was male or female, or even human.
One thing was sure though; this was his city. He was not giving up without a fight.
“Gather the snipers! Wake every pokemon trainer you can find! Get Gary Oak, Misty and Ash up here now!” Brock barked out orders, and the guards on the ramparts ran to obey them.
“Fulfil your commands?” he asked to no one in particular as he looked down on the swarming Rockets below him “Not bloody likely.”
The sky above them burst with light, and for a moment Ash was confused.
“Fireworks?” he asked, as sparks rained down upon the city. The sharp smell of gunpowder filled the air. “No, not fireworks... we’re under fire!” The sky above him, as if in answer to his question, filled with flying shadows.
Misty beside him swore, and jolted upright, leaping off the bench.
“Marill! Ice Beam!” she cried as the shadows swooped down on them.
As chunks of flying ice filled the air, and the screeches of dying pokemon echoed around them, Ash realised that the shadows were armoured Pidgeot. Hundreds of them.
“Again, Marill! Ice Beam!”
A liquid bolt of pure cold energy shuddered through the approaching horde, and frozen feathers rained around them. In the distance, Ash could see houses set alight by swooping and flaming Charizard.
“Piiii... Kaaaa... CHUUUUUUUUU!”
For a moment, the dark night was light by flashes of electricity, and nothing could be heard over the crackle of static.
Misty and Ash huddled down, waiting for the rumbling that filled the air to subside.
In the distance, someone screamed.
With large, muffled thumps, dead and dying bird pokemon rained around them, denting and cracking pavement as their armour smashed against the concrete.
“Mist! Those houses are on fire!”
“Marill, Rain Dance!”
The skies above them opened, and rain poured down. To Ash, it was if though someone had tipped a giant bucket of water over Pewter.
Around them, the streets filled with civilians running, and pokemon trainers fighting.
The swooping Charizard’s screeched in pain as their wings buckled under the weight of the cascading rain.
“What the hell is going on?” asked Misty as they stood.
“I don’t know, but I’m sure-”
“Ash! Misty! Quick, you guys have gotta get to the gates!” Ash turned as May’s footsteps, splashing ever nearer, rang out.
“What’s going on May?” asked Misty, who signalled to Marill.
Abruptly, the rain stopped, and the deafening hiss of water falling could not be heard.
Instead, the night was filled with the sounds of screaming pokemon, and cracking masonry.
“We’re under attack! Brock wants you guys up at the gates as soon as you can get there! It’s Rockets!”
Misty looked helplessly about her.
“What about here? Those Charizard aren’t the only ones. We can’t just-”
“I’ll take care of here. Max is coming, too. Don’t worry.” Her blue eyes were alight with the fires of war. “You just get up to the front. And...” she hesitated, and when she spoke next, only Misty could hear her.
“And tell Brock to be careful.”
Misty took in the shy smile and the worried eyes, suddenly understanding.
“Okay. C’mon, Ash. We gotta go.”
Ash nodded, not sure he understood what had just passed between the two women, but following Misty’s lead anyway.
As they left, May cracked her knuckles, and called out her first pokemon.
“Let’s see... Beautifly, go! Hyper Beam!”
<An attack. Those poor fools.>
“Love, I am confident that Brock of Pewter and his allies will succeed. Do not cast my beliefs into doubts by pitying them.”
<I was not talking of Brock and his allies. Ash will show them no mercy.>
it’s about bloody time!” shouted Brock over the racket that surrounded them.
“Didn’t think you were gonna show up!”
“Well, we were surrounded! We had to fight off the hordes that were descending on central Pewter!” yelled Misty as another missile collided with the walls, exploding into a fireball of red and orange. The shocking crack of its collision deafened those around them.
“What did you say?” asked Ash, shouting to be heard above the ricocheting roar of gunfire around them. “Oh, this is hopeless! Pikachu, THUNDER!”
The ominous rumble above them overwhelmed all noise, and lightning seared through the sky, crashing against the ground and into Rocket troops.
People screamed, and then all was silent.
For a brief moment, the world held its breath.
Then, noise came rushing back, heralded by the roar of gunfire, and the crash as a battering ram –carried by half a dozen Machamp- slammed into the gates.
“Hah! They won’t get through! That’s Onix stone! They ain’t gonna get through that in a hurry.” Brock grimaced as the walls shook again, and Ash swayed to balance himself.
“Didn’t see him. We ran into May, though. She’s fighting in central Pewter. She told me to tell you to be careful.”
“She’s what? Ah, I can’t control that girl. I told her to join with the nurses leading the children and those who can’t fight into the shelters.” Brock grimaced again, and threw a pokéball into the air.
“Crobat! Ultrasonic!” A piercing screech rang out, and hundreds of Rockets screamed in pain as they clutched their ears.
“And as for me being careful... why in the names of all the gods should she worry about me?” Brock’s tone was casual, but Misty could see that he was pleased that she was worrying about him.
Next to them, a missile was fired, heading directly to a Rocket tank driving towards them.
Ash shaded his eyes as it collided with the dark-grey vehicle and burst into flames. A few Rocket soldiers crawled out. Distantly, he watched as one man burst into flames, his screams of pain cutting through the other noise. Another soldier shot him in the back, putting him out of his misery.
Misty shook her head.
“This is insane. What do they hope to gain? We may be surrounded, but Pewter is a fortress.”
“Yes, but maybe it’s not victory they want. Maybe they want something... or someone.” Gary Oak stepped passed a group of guards carrying ammunition.
nodded by way of greeting, and Pikachu sparked at
The two pokemon nodded, and launched a double Thunderbolt at the Rockets.
Pikachu smiled smugly when he heard the resulting explosion.
“Yeah. But what?” Misty asked.
“It don’t matter, Blue eyes. They ain’t gonna get it. You there! Aim for the missile launchers, not the soldiers! You with the Charizard! Fire Blast their battering ram! And for gods sake’s, load some more ammo into that launcher.”
As his orders were obeyed, Brock smiled grimly.
“I don’t care what they want: if it’s in my city, they ain’t getting their filthy paws on it. If you three want to help, I suggest you move around the walls, keeping your eyes out for any attacks. They won’t just attack us from the front. Do what you can, and maybe we’ll get out of this alive.”
“Gods almighty...” breathed Gary Oak as he surveyed the damage around him. What had once been a mountain was now a smouldering pile of rubble that had given birth to another army.
“There’s too many of them. What will we do?” asked a soldier that looked up to him for orders.
Those bastards killed my grandfather. They destroyed my hometown, ruined my home, and destroyed the childhood memories I once had. If they think they are gonna get away with this, they thought wrong.
“Call out all of the pokemon your men have got. Sort them into elemental groups: fire with fire, water with water, and so forth. Arrange them so that any attacks collide. If any know Hyper Beam, get them to use that. Aim directly for tanks, missile launchers, or flyers. Don’t worry about the infantry; I’ll take care of them. Disable any long range attacks, and they’ll have to get real close to try anything and that’ll mean they’ll be in range of my pokemon.”
And then they won’t know what’ll hit them.
“Look, they’re coming out of the forest! What do we do?” Misty’s voice was calm, but Ash could hear the faint edge leant to it by fear.
attacks. See those flashes of light over there?” Ash gestured towards the south
there!” she snapped, turning to a sniper. “Call out all the pokemon you have.
Everyone, do the same.”
Red flashes lit the parapets as pokemon –of all shapes, sizes and elements- burst out of pokéballs.
“Line ‘em up. When I give the order, attack with the strongest, non-physical attack you have. Aim for the forest, the tanks, the launchers, the flyers. Infantry will get caught in the crossfire. Follow my lead!”
Marill leapt off her shoulder.
“Ash, when I say so, get Pikachu to launch the strongest electrical attack he has in the jet of water Marill will shoot.”
Ash nodded, and Pikachu sparked in anticipation.
All around them, trainers issued commands, and pokémon tensed.
“FIRE!” screamed Misty, and a multi-coloured fireball of immense proportions roared towards the forest. Trees disintegrated under the enormous weight of the multi-coloured energy.
A huge jet of water burst out into the midst of the Rockets, and Pikachu let loose a thunderbolt.
Water sparked and crackled, and glowed white-hot as it collided with tanks.
The Rockets lucky enough to be caught in the centre were simply vaporised, electrified water simultaneously exploding every cell in their bodies, and those unlucky to be caught on the outskirts screamed in horrible agony as they were torn in half by the massive weight and power of the attack. Those around them sobbed in pain as limbs were torn, partners decapitated, pokemon having enough sense to flee their trainers and head back into the decimated forest.
Time slowed to a stand still as the people from Pewter took in what their attacks had done.
The Rocket forces had been halved, and those left alive were in shock.
“It’s not over yet,” murmured Ash, as those remaining prepared for another attack.
Around them, many pokemon lay unconscious, having given their all in the attack before. Their trainers attended to them, crooning praise.
“Marill...” whispered Misty, “get ready.”
She didn’t know why, but Misty ordered Marill to ready an attack. Beside her, Ash did the same.
Pikachu glowed, lighting up the area around him, gathering energy like a small sun. And Marill was lit up too, ice-blue energy glaring off her fur like sun on snow.
Ash and Misty met each others gaze as their pokemon launched a twin attack, but an attack like no other seen before.
Above the two small pokemon –Marill’s paw in Pikachu’s- clouds coalesced, pouring across the sky like ink through water. Lightning sparked through clouds, gouging holes in charred earth as rain bombarded the battered ground.
Chunks of ice, each bigger than a man’s head, shattered where they hit, skewering Rockets with ice fragments. A howling wind picked up, and more than one Rocket was swept off of his feet, and into the path of a lightning strike.
The clouds above them swirled, a vortex opening above the attacking troops –who had stopped, and were staring open mouthed at the sky- black clouds on black sky, and not a single star to be seen.
A rumble started; quiet at first, then reaching a crescendo that shook the ribs and rattled the heart.
A bolt of energy –a kilometre wide and round- screamed out of the sky, tendrils crackling off it and hissing as they made contact with the rain soaked ground, blazing through the remainder of the troops, scattering them like ashes –and ashes was all they were, for the attack had torn them apart like paper- melting tanks into puddles of metallic sludge. For a moment, there was nothing but the crackle of energy and the scream of the wind.
Then, the clouds parted, and the stars came out.
“This is Charlie! We are under attack! Somehow, they’ve managed to fight back! I repeat, we are under attack! They’re doing some sort of multiple attack and- Gods above and below, what the hell is tha-”
Nothing but a wash of static.
“Charlie? Charlie group, do you read me? This is Omega! Charlie group, pick up now! Over.”
More static, deafening in the sudden silence.
“This is Omega. Charlie has been taken out, I repeat Charlie has been taken out. Rally the remaining troops for a last attack. All or nothing. Omega out.”
The whole of Pewter Haven had seen the blinding flash of light that had served as Ash and Misty’s combined attack.
“Gods above and below...” breathed Brock, still in shock from what had just happened.
Beside him, his soldiers stared in horror.
“Remind me never to piss that pair off,” someone muttered, and Brock nodded in agreement.
May, still in the thick of it with her younger brother, looked up as the attacks from flyers ceased.
Both her and Max had seen it, and both had clutched each other in fright.
As the light faded, and the stars shone above them in a sky blessedly clear of flying, swooping, screeching pokemon, both took a deep breath.
“If I ever try to tease Ash again, please slap me. I don’t want to end up like that.”
May nodded, thinking to herself never again would she borrow anything from Misty without her express permission.
His Jolteon blinked in shock, huddling close to his trainer.
the gods that they’re on our side. If they supported the Rockets...”
In the dark shadows of the parapet he stood upon –alone, for all of the guards having long fled in fear- his eyes narrowed.
Seeds of jealousy, once sown, do not need much encouragement to blossom.
<As I said, Morty, no mercy. None at all.>
Morty said nothing; still reeling from the blow that had not only shaken the physical world, but had sent swirling eddies of shockwaves into the aether.
“Love, how can they control such power? And I know she contributed too –I could feel it- but such is impossible for any human to contemplate.”
<for Homo sapiens, yes. But what of Homo superio? What then? They ceased to be human long ago, Morty. Now, we have two members of two different species wondering around.>
Morty frowned, confused.
<Morty, the boy is one species, the girl another. Both of them are interdependent. It is not obvious yet, but soon you will see.>
Morty sighed, still not understanding, but with his inexhaustible fount of patience, prepared to wait for a time in which he would. Another problem rose to the fore within his mind.
“What of Gary Oak?”
Oak will die. He was meant to be dead, and though my pattern has worked around
him, he will soon die. Even as we speak, his death draws nearer and the method
of such rallies its strength outside Pewters doors.>
“He will die at the Rockets hands.”
<No. He will die at his own hands, by his own devices. It is his scheming that will bring his life to an end. Rockets do not tolerate traitors.>
“This is Omega. Prepare the final assault. All units to congregate at the front entrance to Pewter Haven. I repeat, all units to congregate at the front entrance to Pewter.”
A sudden wash of static cut across the broadcast, cutting out words and orders.
“...weap...at the read...fire at my ord... simult... prepare the...”
Another wash of static, and all sound was cut off.
“They’re on the move,” murmured Ash, as the pair huddled in a corner of the parapets.
Around them, guards raced past in a flurry, gathering weapons, people and pokemon in order to head around to the front of the defences.
No seemed to notice the pair, hidden as they were in the shadows.
“Yeah,” Misty leant against Ash, trying to make them as small as possible in order not to be found. “But where to? After what we did, I’m surprised they have any troops left.”
“We destroyed a small segment, Mist, nothing more. I have the feeling that they will be heading for the front. Maybe rallying for a last attack.”
“Do you think Brock can handle it without us?” asked Misty quietly, as the stream of guards heading for the front slowed, trickled, then ceased all together.
Ash, who was very much aware of how close the pair were, curled in the shadows, and how much he didn’t want to move right now, nodded. For once, the clamouring need inside him had fallen blessedly silent, perhaps sated by the destruction that had been wreaked mere moments before.
And though he couldn’t directly touch her, he could still feel the warmth of her body as she leaned against him. It was something that he didn’t really want to lose.
“I’m sure Brock’ll be fine. After all, we did our part. I don’t think he’ll begrudge us a few moments,” he murmured as Misty pulled closer, “alone.”
Misty didn’t reply, having tangled herself around him, and fallen asleep.
In the darkness, Ash smiled to himself.
“Hey, where’s Ash and Misty?” asked May as she caught up with Brock on the parapets above the gate.
“Dunno. Guards say they haven’t seen ‘em since they pulled that lightshow trick. Haven’t seen Gary Oak either.” Brock shrugged, and picked up what appeared to be a telescope of some kind.
Looking over at the congregation of Rockets, he seemed to be searching for something. When he appeared to find it, he lowered the glass.
“Take a look May, and tell me what you see.”
May did as she was told, focusing the lens until she could see the thousands of Rockets massed below them. There were only thousands now, not the hundreds of thousand there had been before. The attacks from the people and pokemon of Pewter had obviously hit their marks. She looked over the crowd, noting that there were only a few tanks left, and no missile launchers. Trying to see what Brock had seen, she looked northwest, and found it.
“Gods above...” she whispered as she lowered the looking-glass. “What the hell is that?”
“I don’t know.” said Brock quietly, and as she looked at him, she could tell he was worried. “That’s what worries me.”
He sighed, then yelled for more guards to start looking out for any signs of attack.
“I really shouldn’t be wandering off, but seeing as Misty and Ash have disappeared, we gotta find them. Where’s your little brother?” he asked as the pair headed along the wall.
“Max? He’s in the infirmary. Got hit with a piece of shrapnel.”
“How is he?”
“Well, he was out cold last time I saw him, but the nurses said he’d be fine.” May shrugged. “I did tell him to stay below the parapets and watch for attacks, but something caught his eye and he lost what little wits he normally had.” She rummaged around in her pockets for a moment, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper, handing it to Brock.
“He’d made up some sort of radio thing, saying he might be able to listen in on the Rocket broadcasts. He wrote down what he heard.”
Brock glanced at the paper, and stopped.
“Dear gods...” he murmured, folding the paper and stowing it in a pocket on his jerkin.
“You have no idea.”
The pair walked in companionable silence for a while, before Brock spoke.
“I did tell you to go with the children to the bomb shelters, you know.”
“Well, I did tell you to be careful, and I’m not the one with the bloody gash on my left arm.”
Brock blinked, and looked down at his sleeve.
“I didn’t even notice it was there. Must’ve got hit with something.” He tried to wipe away blood, but it seemed to have dried.
“Ah well. And why were you worrying about my welfare, hmm?”
May said nothing, and even in the darkness –which was sparsely illuminated by lights every few feet along the wall- Brock could tell she was blushing.
“Because you don’t worry about yourself,” was all she said, and it was obvious by the tone in her voice that the conversation was over.
Brock continued to watch her for a while, but then began his search for Misty and her beau.
Gary Oak made his way down the parapets, slinking past groups of guards. His Jolteon didn’t understand the need for silence and stealth, but followed his orders none the less.
He didn’t know why, but he needed to contact the Rockets.
The whole reason they attacked this place was to gain access to a certain person. I bet my pokéballs it’s Ash. Why is it always him that everybody wants? They seem to forget that I was always the better trainer...
He grimaced as he slipped around a corner, and towards where he knew a small hole had been made in Pewters wall. If he could slip out, he might be able to get to the Rockets, and make a deal.
I give you Ash Ketchum; you give me what I want.
His Jolteon looked up at him, worried. He could smell something strange about his trainer... something not right.
END PART ONE
NOTES: is anyone surprised that Gary Oak is a traitor? Sure as hell I ain’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Gary Oak; I just think his character
is one that is more suited to the less savoury side of life. In my other fic’s,
he’s either dead, or an imbecile. I remember writing one when I was younger and
Okay, back to this section of my fanfic. Yes, Ash and Misty are a couple, and yes, May does have something of a crush on Brock. I can’t help but put a little romance into these things. It’s just too easy! Oh, and Sabrina and Morty will continue to be in following parts. They aren’t main characters, just... observers. They’ll alter things if they have to, to make what Sabrina has seen happen.
Forgot to put my email address in for any of you would-be reviewers and critics out there. For the reference, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, I know it’s bizarre (pulls face).
You don’t have to remind me. I really gotta do something about that...
(To my friend: I don’t care if you don’t have an email address, I need a review! And a proper one. None of this “it was good” stuff, okay? Do it, or I’ll make good on all those promises of impending and painful death! :) )
Well, have to go, unfortunately homework beckons. (Why can’t the poets of the romantic era analyse their own damn work...)
Will update as soon as possible.