DISCLAIMER: pokemon and all of its trademarked products and characters are owned by Nintendo, Game Freak and their affiliates, not me. Unfortunately, I don’t as yet have the moolah to buy it off them, unless they’re really desperate and want to sell for AU$5.35 and half a packet of chewies (looks expectantly towards phone. Nothing happens.) *sigh*.
MYTHS, WARS AND THE APOCALYPSE
PROLOGUE: THE HOMECOMING OF ASH KETCHUM
City of lights, the city that never sleeps, the shining city of golden commerce.
For a city so bright, why are the shadows so dark?
“Wow, this place is... gloomy.” Distaste was evident in May’s tone as she regarded the shadow-shrouded buildings in front of them.
“It’s brighter during the day. I guess everyone just went to bed early.” Brock paused to survey their surroundings, crossing muscled arms over a broad chest. “Although, I’ve never heard of a city simultaneously turning off the lights at seven pm.”
Max, anxious, crept closer to the pair, pushing his glasses back on a nose that had become slippery with sweat.
“Wasn’t this place overrun by Rockets a few years ago?” he asked, voice squeaking nervously.
“Yes, but they left when they were defeated.”
Brock nodded his head in agreement with the fourth voice. He remembered, clear as day, the way Ash Ketchum, a boy of ten summers, had obliterated Giovanni easily.
“Yeah, Ash, but what if they’ve come back?”
Max met the fourth member of the group with fearful green eyes, obscured by thick glasses.
The quiet confidence in Ash’s tone reassured the younger boy. The Pikachu on his shoulder chirruped an agreement.
“Well, as much as I’d like to stand here, chatting about criminal organizations, I’d rather have a nice warm shower and a hot meal.” May turned to her friends. “You know where the Pokemon Centre is?”
Brock grinned, white teeth flashing in his dark face.
I never forget where a pokemon centre is.” All those around him knew why. Brock
grinned, and gestured towards a street in the distance. “We have to head down
“Fine, I don’t need a map location, let’s go!”
May shoved Brock in the general direction of where he’d indicated, or at least tried to, being unable to move him.
Brock, who was at least a foot taller and fifty kilos heavier, grinned again.
“I’ll lead the way.” Max followed the oldest member of the group’s lead, as did May, muttering something about macho, dark-skinned brutes with too much testosterone.
Ash, caught in thoughts of his own, didn’t notice that they were leaving until Pikachu chattered a nervous warning.
Ash shook his head to dispel his foreboding thoughts, but they clung like spider webs. He caught up with the others, making sure to stay with the group, for all knew the danger of travelling alone, at night, in a city once plagued with crime.
we won’t get to
“We’ll have to call Misty at the Pokemon Centre to let her know. She’ll be worried if we don’t show up.” Brock was seized by a sudden thought, and grinned as he added, “More specifically, she’ll be worried if Ash doesn’t show up.”
Ash turned to Brock, obviously displeased, and fixed him with a gaze as deep as the shadows that swarmed around them.
“Don’t Brock.” Ash’s tone was as cold as ice. “Just don’t.”
Brock rolled his eyes, and muttered something about some people being blind to the obvious. Ash ignored him, and continued down the road.
“Brock, it’s really dark and it’s starting to freak me out...” whined May, grabbing onto the man.
Brock sighed. “It’s a pity you’re only thirteen...” he muttered, shaking the girl off him. Even so, for all his bravado, he was slightly uneasy. All the same, he called out to the dark-haired boy in front of him.
“Ash, May’s getting all clutchy. Do you think we could take a short-cut?”
Ash nodded vaguely, intending on getting to the Pokemon Centre as fast as possible.
Pikachu huddled against the back of Ash’s neck, arching its back and hissing at the shadows around them.
“Pikachu, calm down. Nothing’s going to happen.”
Pikachu didn’t trust the reassuring words his trainer spoke. He was a pokemon, and pokemon felt things. And right now, Pikachu felt death.
“Brock, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take a shortcut. Think about it. We’re in a dark city, at night, with gods-know what type of thugs hiding in the shadows, and my sister’s a girl...” Max glanced around, sure he’d heard a noise.
“I know, Max. Yes, we’re in a little bit of trouble-”
Max snorted in derision. “A little?”
“Okay, maybe a lot of trouble. But think about it. We’ve got Pikachu, the wonder-pokemon. You and I both know that Pikachu’s got enough power to blow up the whole of Silph Co. if he wants to. Or if Ash wants him to. Nothing to worry about. If we get in trouble, hat-boy up there”-Brock nodded in Ash’s direction- “says the word, and the next thing you know, we’re watching a fireworks display.”
Ash shook his head.
“No, Brock. It’ll be too conspicuous. We don’t want anyone to know we’re coming through here. If people don’t know we’re here, they can’t attack us. Simple.” Ash drew his jacket tighter around him. “Brock, give me a shortcut to the Saffron City Pokemon Centre. I don’t like the looks of things.”
As Brock listed directions, May looked around, silently agreeing with Ash.
The road they were walking on was deserted, not even any cars in sight. The pedestrian malls were empty, and all the shops were closed. Even the street lights were turned off. If anyone decided to attack them, they’d be sitting Farfetch’d...
May shivered, and once more, latched onto Brock. This time, he didn’t shake her off.
“Ash, it’s dark...” whispered Max, and even Brock rolled his eyes at the obviousness of that statement, “Do you think you could get Pikachu to use Flash?”
“No. If anyone saw the light, we’d be an instant target. If you want to die, turn on your torch.”
Max shook his head, grabbing Brock’s other arm.
“Ash, I’m starting to feel like Mankey-bars, what with all these kids hanging off me. There’s the alley we need. Why have we stopped?”
Ash shook his head, placing a finger on his lips.
“Shh...” he whispered, “Pikachu says something’s wrong...”
The small yellow pokemon leapt off Ash’s shoulders, and edged towards the alley, tail erect, ears upright, and the merest crackle of energy flaring off his fur. Pikachu was ready to shock if he needed to. The small pokemon slunk into the shadows, and disappeared from view as they swallowed him. He could still scent his trainer, the others in the group, but there was something else, another scent...
Unsure of what it was, but certain it proved no danger, he ran back to his trainer to give the all clear.
Ash gathered the golden pokemon into his arms.
“Pikachu says the alley’s okay. There’s Rattata, but not much else. C’mon, if Brock’s directions are right-”
“And they are.” Interrupted Brock.
“-and they are,” continued Ash, “then it’s only a ten minute walk.”
He entered the alley, the others following, unaware that the strangeness Pikachu had scented was going to prove very, very wrong indeed.
“I don’t like this alley. It stinks.”
it’s full of garbage. It’s not exactly going to smell like Roselia, is it now?
Look, we’ll be out of here soon enough, there’s the exit.”
The dull archway Brock had pointed to was suddenly blocked, and the little light from the moon above dimmed.
Max didn’t finish his sentence, as Brock’s hand clapped over his mouth. The group spun, and the sense of foreboding that Ash had ignored and tried to silence flared into life.
“Gods! It’s a trap!” he yelled, as the entry of the alley was blocked, not by Rattata, as Pikachu had scented, but by large bulky shadows.
“Right, kiddies, hand over everything you got.” The voice rumbled near Brock, who bristled. He was twenty-one, dammit, not some little kid to get picked on in the playground and have his lunch money stolen...
“And you’ll let us go?” asked Max, the tremble in his voice obvious.
“No. It’s more fun when we take your stuff when you’re alive, rather than robbing corpses.” This came from the second shadowy figure, the one nearest the exit.
Pikachu, whose inner sense had been screaming that something was wrong, now knew what had been strange about the scent. The taint of rotting flesh. And from what he could see, even in the darkness, the thugs were covered in Rattata pelts. One of them even had a Rattata skull for a belt-buckle.
“Pika!” he screeched, and leapt off Ash’s shoulder, glowing with a sudden, savagely white light.
“Oh, look, it’s a Pikachu. Stupid little electric rat. Go, Golem.”
There was a sudden flash of red, and the crack of crumbling masonry.
“GOOAR!” roared the serpent-headed rock pokemon as it burst forth, smashing the walls of the alley in its eagerness to attack.
May screamed as it ran forward, and Brock grabbed her and Max, heading back for the exit, and through the first thug.
“Move it, you bastard!” yelled Brock, heading into the surprised thug with a rugby tackle. May screamed again.
“Shut up, May!” yelled Brock. The first thug was bowled over, and the trio ran, hearing the distant rumble of thunder, followed by a screech from Pikachu, and the sudden, shocking sound of lightning colliding with stone.
“Pikachu, Thunder!” Ash’s voice, distorted with rage.
“Brock! We can’t just leave him!” cried May, “he’ll die if we do!”
There was another sudden crack of lightning.
“You think that’s the sound of Ash dying? I only wanted to get you two out of the way! Swampert, go!” Brock flung a pokéball out, and the roar of the swamp-pokemon echoed through the empty streets.
He dropped May, grabbing the girl by the shoulders.
“There’s a Police station not far from here. Even if the rest of the city’s closed, I know that won’t be. Run for it, May, and take your little brother with you. Get the Jenny’s.”
May just stared for a moment, blinking.
“Gods, May, don’t just stand there! Run for it!”
The girl nodded, tears starting in her eyes, grabbing her little brother’s hand. She ran, dragging Max after her, not looking back.
Another flash of lightning lit up the alley, and Brock could see the first thug trying to get up.
“Try and take my money, will you?” he asked, cracking his knuckles. “Swampert, Mud Shot!”
Pikachu screamed with rage, launching another bolt of white-hot electricity. His trainer was in danger, his friends were in danger and this lump of animated rock thought it could challenge him? Hell no...
“Pikachu! Knock it out now!” called out his trainer, and Pikachu needed no encouragement. He felt the electricity build up, felt the energy enlarge his cheek pouches, felt the sparks and tensed...
“PIIII... KAAAAA... CHUUUUUUUUU!”
The Golem didn’t know what had hit it, partially because it was attacked so fast the attack was over before it even realised it had begun, and partially because it was unconscious before it hit the ground.
“You little brat! I’m gonna tear you apart!” roared the Rattata thug, lunging for Ash. Pikachu, startled by the sudden attack, wasn’t fast enough to counter it, didn’t get there in time.
The thug collided with Ash, knocking him to the ground, his head cracking on the pavement. He gasped, and caught a fist to the chest. And another. One to the stomach, and one to the side of the head. He tried to struggle, but it was useless. Distantly, through the pain, he heard the crack of breaking bone, Pikachu crying out, and the thud of the other thug hitting the pavement as he was hit by an attack from Brock.
Ash blinked, coughed and tasted blood.
Time seemed to slow as he saw the man's fist –adorned with rings of Rattata bone- come towards his face.
Something inside him jolted, and he pushed up a hand, catching the man’s fist in his palm.
Then, as skin collided with skin, Ash felt something go wrong.
Something deep within the recesses of his mind struggled free of old ties, growing stronger and snapping them like dry twigs. Shackles cast off, this strange presence seeped into his brain, flooding nerves and synapses with dark, deliciously powerful energy. Ash screamed as his thought processes rearranged themselves, as defences he didn’t even know he had sprang to the fore, as talents long forgotten rewired themselves, as knowledge long hidden wrote itself in white-hot lines across his mind.
Ash screamed again, but this time it turned into a snarl.
He dug fingernails into soft flesh of the thug’s palm, and laughed as he tore his way into the fools mind.
It was child’s play. The mind of the man was as weak as the flesh, muddled by alcohol and drug abuse, and the man’s pathetic defences were swept away like a sapling in front of a tsunami.
Memories, thoughts and knowledge were absorbed, and the life energy of the fool, that shimmering, glowing thread in the fogginess of his mind, was laid bare.
Ripe for the taking.
Ash screamed again, as the thing that was him yet not him, drained it out of the fool.
This time, the thug screamed, but it was cut abruptly short.
One hundred and twenty kilos of dead flesh thumped against the pavement as Ash pushed the body –drained of anything of use- off him.
He didn’t know what he’d just done, couldn’t accept it, because he –the part of him he considered as Ash- hadn’t actually done anything. That other, newer yet familiar part of him had been the one that killed the thug (for there was no doubt he was dead) and stolen his thoughts and memories. He tried to sit up, head reeling, thoughts whirling like a cyclone.
He felt so tired...
For a moment, everything he saw flickered, and then he saw nothing anymore.
He was unconscious before his head hit the pavement.
<Power surge... I did not think that he would survive. He is the one who has the power... I know, I recognise the signs... it is him. It has to be. It is time.>
The voice was cold, female and reminiscent of the weavers who had once held the cloth of life within their hands.
“The maiden, the mother and the... other one. Which one are you, Sabrina?”
Sabrina smiled, but there was no happiness in it. Only cold resignation.
It scared him to see such darkness in her eyes.
<Whichever one I need to be, Morty. Whichever one I need to be.>
“Maybe so, Sabrina. Where will we need to go?”
Brock couldn’t believe what he’d just seen. Ash, being beaten into a bloody pulp by the Rattata thug, had raised a hand, almost weakly, and then, in that horrible moment where the world had shaken, and all had been dark, killed him.
He didn’t know how, refused to accept that it was Ash that had killed him –the boy was only fifteen for gods-sakes- but he had, and he’d laughed while doing it.
And now, he lay there, looking for all the world as though he were dead...
Brock kicked away the other thug, who lay muddy and unconscious on the ground.
His Swampert peered curiously over his shoulder.
“Ash?” asked Brock, “Ash?”
Pikachu, who’d been startled by the scream, and had hid in the crumbled rock left by the attacking Golem when the world had shook.
Pokemon could see things humans could not, and even though Brock had felt the world shake, Pikachu had seen the shadows that had poured off Ash, seen the tendrils of darkness sink into the thug, seen them drain the poor bastards life force, seen the tendrils sink back into his trainer, and had heard him scream.
He was unconscious now; brain shutting down all non-essential body functions in order to cope with the massive amount of new information it had been given.
Pikachu slunk out of the shadows, edging towards his trainer nervously.
All the pokemon had heard of beings like this, it was one of the oldest –and most frightening- pokemon legends, but pikachu hadn’t known that the old legends were real...
Brock crouched down, trying not to think about the dead body that lay only a metre away, and reached out a hand to touch the boy...
He didn’t understand what had happened, but he knew the thug had died when Ash had touched him, bare skin to bare skin... maybe it wasn’t a good idea to touch him, at least until he knew what had happened.
Brock shrugged out of his jacket –returning his Swampert as he did so- and threw it onto the boy, and making sure that he didn’t touch Ash’s skin any where, lifted the boy up, and turned to Pikachu.
“Do you know what happened there, Pikachu?”
The pokemon knew perfectly well, but didn’t think the older human would understand, so said nothing.
“Me neither. But I know that if we go to the police, as I told May and Max to do, they’ll ask a lot of questions. Questions I don’t think Ash can answer. I’d better catch up with them.”
He slung Ash over one shoulder, and headed out of the alley, the electric mouse pokemon following.
“Pikachu, I figure our cover’s blown anyway, so Flash as bright as you like.”
Pikachu, who’d been scared when he had seen the shadows seep out of its trainer, didn’t need to be told twice.
May was frightened.
When Brock had told her to run, she’d seen fear in his eyes. The only things she knew Brock was scared of were dolls and ghosts, and she didn’t see any of those in the alley, although she supposed there could’ve been an old doll in the rubbish bins...
“Sis, there’s something following us!” hissed Max.
The pair had run when Brock had told them to, but May knew that neither she nor Max were that fast.
Whatever was chasing them would catch up in no time.
“We can’t out-run whatever it is, so we may as well stand and fight! Go, Blaziken!”
The flaming bird pokemon screeched into the night, fire shooting out of its beak.
The figure running towards them was lit up by a smaller figure, one that glowed with a bright light...
“May, it’s Brock! And,” Max squinted into the bright light heading towards them, “I think that’s Pikachu! Don’t attack!”
The pair turned to face the running figure, and as it grew closer, they recognised the outline of the taller breeder.
“Brock!” cried May, as she ran towards him, “you’re okay!”
Brock gave her a wan smile.
“Yeah, but I don’t know how long for. I just became an accomplice to murder.”
May looked confused. “What do you-?”
time May. We gotta get to
May recognised the bundle on Brock’s shoulders. She could just see a tuft of black hair...
“That’s just it. Listen, it’s a long story, and we gotta get him to safety before something happens again. C’mon.”
Brock turned, and started running towards the exit of Saffron, and towards Cerulean.
“Hey! Wait up!” called May, and ran after him, followed by her stunned brother and fire bird pokemon.
“Gods, Brock, what you’re telling me doesn’t make sense. How could Ash kill someone? Ash gets upset when he injures pokemon in battle. How could he purposely injure a human being?”
Brock sighed, and took a sip of his coffee. He shivered, and rubbed his bare arms. Ash wasn’t wrapped in his jacket anymore, but somehow Brock didn’t think he’d ever wear that particular item of clothing again.
“I didn’t say he did it on purpose. It looked like an accident to me. Although, that still begs the question as to why he was laughing...” Brock shivered again.
“You got any blankets, Misty?”
The red-head seated opposite him at the table nodded.
“Yeah, we got some in the cupboard. I’ll go grab you one and I probably should get one for Ash, too.” She stood, and left the table, blue eyes scanning the reclining form of Ash Ketchum, who still lay on her couch, unconscious.
She took in the black hair, stained clothes –which was why she had spread a towel over the couch before Brock laid him on it- and grubby shoes. His face was deathly white, in direct contrast to his shockingly black hair.
It was true black, not black with blue highlights. Pure black.
Ash didn’t move as he lay on her couch, and if it weren’t for the steady rise and fall of his chest, she’d probably have said he was dead.
Those familiar features, familiar and dear to her in a way she couldn’t fathom, were frozen along with the rest of him, eyes closed and sooty lashes resting on high cheekbones, that cute button nose, cherubic mouth slightly open.
His lips were tinged faintly blue, and Misty knew it was one of the first symptoms of shock.
“Misty, are you gonna grab those blankets, or are you going to stand there looking at Ash?”
Normally, Misty would’ve blushed bright red at the suggestion that she was staring at Ash, but now she sighed and that was all.
“Is he gonna be okay? Tell me Brock. Do you think he’s going to be okay?”
Brock thought for a moment.
The slender red-head turned to him, blue eyes brimming with tears.
“How can you be sure? How?”
Brock gave her a warm, reassuring smile.
“Because he’s Ash Ketchum, that’s how.”
Misty sighed, and headed off to the linen cupboard, passing the spare room in which May and Max slept, both exhausted by the night’s events.
Pikachu lay curled at Ash’s feet, and was so deep in his thoughts, he didn’t even look up when Misty tucked the blanket around his trainer. He did rub against her hand when she scratched him behind the ears though.
Out of all the humans he knew, she was his second favourite, after Ash, of course.
“He’ll be okay, Pikachu. Here Brock. And no, before you ask, I’m not tucking the blanket around you.”
“How come he gets special treatment?”
Misty gave him a long look, sipped her hot chocolate and sat down at the table, looking back over at Ash.
“You know perfectly well why. He gets special treatment because he’s Ash Ketchum.”
“And the fact that you’ve got a crush the size of a Gyarados on him has nothing to do with it?”
Misty shrugged noncommittally.
“It’s more Wailord size, actually. But no, I’m worried. He’s been out cold for about three hours now. What if he doesn’t wake up?”
“He will. And when he does, I’m gonna ask him to explain exactly what happened.”
Misty just watched Ash sleep, wondering what on earth was going on inside that head of his.
Pikachu, too, watched his trainer, but unlike Misty, he merely wondered how in the name of the poke-gods he was going to survive whatever Ash was involved in now. He’d lived through three prophecies, four badge quests, three countries, one set of islands and an archipelago and now he felt like he might not survive through what ever mess Ash had got himself mixed up in this time.
He, unlike the others, knew perfectly well what Ash had done, knew how it had been done and knew why too. What he didn’t know was why a human had been given that ability. Humans had difficulty accepting everything that pokemon could do, so how the hell could Ash accept what he was capable of?
No, as far as Pikachu was concerned, there were some tough times ahead for his trainer, and he knew that Ash would suffer a lot in trying to live through them.
“Pikachu...” he murmured, shaking his head, ears flopping. “Pikachu...”
Ash was having trouble. He could feel the other’s memories sloshing around in his head. They weren’t his memories. He hadn’t been orphaned, joined the street-gangs of Saffron and eventually become the leader of the Rattata-Killers, so named after the pelts and rings they wore, the gang that started after his younger brother died after being gnawed to death by a hungry Rattata. Ash hadn’t been the one who had found the body, with the face all chewed off...
Ash struggled to separate his memories, struggled to reassert who he was. His name was not Emilio; his name was Ash, Ash Ketchum, born to Cordelia Ketchum and an unknown man...
<Time to wake up, Ash Ketchum.>
Stunned, Ash tried to figure out where the words he’d heard had come from. They’d arrived in his head without travelling via his ears.
<You know who I am. I am the maiden who spins the thread, I am the mother that weaves it into cloth, I am the other one who cuts the fabric with shears... I am one, but three. And you, you are human, but not. There has not been one of your ilk alive for over five millennia. I should know. I know all, I see all, I predict all. And I end all.>
Ash felt the echoes of those words bounce around in his mind. He was so confused.
<Do not worry, Ash. All will become clear. Till then, I give you a warning. Do not touch the girl. Do not touch her skin, her hair, her face. Do not touch her.>
<Do not touch who?> called out Ash, shocked to discover he could communicate like the other voice. <Do not touch who?>
<You will know when you see her.>
And then, as quickly as it came, the other voice was gone, leaving Ash alone with only his darker side and the memories of Emilio for company.
“He’s still not awake?” asked May as she nursed her bowl of cold cereal.
Brock shook his head, and reached for the milk.
“Nope. He’s been like that all night. Hasn’t moved a muscle.”
“How oo ou ow?” mouthed Max around a mouthful of soggy cornflakes.
“How do I know? Because Misty stayed up all night watching him, that’s how. She didn’t sleep a wink, which is why she’s asleep now.” He jerked his head in the direction of the armchair facing the couch, where Misty slept, head resting on her arm, ruddy hair pooling around her face.
“You let her stay like that even after she’s gone to sleep? Why didn’t you move her?” asked May gesturing at Brock with her spoon and splattering him with milk.
“Because, oh enthusiastic one” remarked Brock dryly, wiping milk out of his eyes, "Misty would wake up and kill me. Misty is very wary of the opposite sex, and personally I don’t wish to find a pocket knife –for I’m sure she’ll have one on her somewhere- embedded in my skull.”
Max nodded. “I oodn’t eiver.”
May shot a glance full of meaning at her younger brother, and Max shut up, and continued eating his cereal.
May looked back over at the slight figure curled up in a ball on the chair.
“Why?” she asked, brow furrowing.
“It’s not for me to say, but her last boyfriend was an asshole.”
“Most men are.” Remarked May absently as she turned back to her bowl, almost choking on a new mouthful when Ash gave a groan.
Brock went over to the couch, stepping over Max, who’d fallen out of his chair.
“Ash?” he asked, getting down on his haunches, “you awake?”
Ash mumbled something, and rolled onto his side.
“Ash? Speak to me.”
Pikachu, who’d been asleep on Misty’s lap, leapt off the girl and leapt onto his trainer.
Ash’s eyes flicked open, and he blinked once or twice, trying to wake up.
“Misty, wake up! Ash’s awake!” called out Brock, and Misty gave a start.
“Huh?” she asked groggily, rubbing sleepy eyes. “What’d you say Brock?”
The boy in question tried to sit up, failed, and fell back against the arm of the couch.
“Ooh... did someone get the number of that Snorlax?” he mumbled sleepily.
“Ash! Oh, you’re okay! Thank the gods!” cried May as she and her brother ran in from the kitchen.
Pikachu crawled onto Ash’s chest, nuzzling his trainer under the chin.
“Hey, little buddy... Brock, what are you... Misty? Gods, where am I?”
He pushed the blanket off him, tried to sit up again, and groaned in pain.
“Ash, what’s wrong?” asked Max, who was staring at the boy as he rested his head against his palms.
ribs... oh, feels like someone took a sledgehammer to them... and my head
aches...” he raised his head, and met Brock with confused amber eyes. “How’d we
end up in
“You don’t remember? You don’t remember what you did?” asked Brock, concerned.
Ash shook his head and winced at the movement.
Brock looked up at Misty, who bit her bottom lip.
“Oh gods...” whispered Brock, who was not normally a religious man.
“What did I do Brock? It’s gotta be something bad judging by the look on your fa-”
The fogginess of sleep washed away and Ash suddenly knew what he had done.
For a moment, his eyes were wide, eyelashes fluttering like startled Butterfree. Then, as that moment ended, reality flooded back, and suddenly Ash knew.
“Oh gods... I’m gonna be...” Ash stumbled to his feet, and made it to the bathroom in time, slipping on the tiles in his haste.
When the sound of retching ceased, Brock ventured in. Considering he’d nursed ten children and been vomited on at least ten times, he could cope with people being sick the best.
“I’m a... a... a monster!” Ash spat the word, retched again, and bent back over the toilet.
“That guy deserved to die, Ash.”
“No he didn’t!” cried Ash, rearing up on his knees, “he wasn’t much older than you, and his life was hard. He was orphaned when he was six, and he watched the Rattata eat his little brother. Eat him, Brock! He joined the street gangs, and then he made his own. Sure, he was a crook, and sure he tried to kill us, but that doesn’t justify what I did! If it was even me...” Ash’s voice trailed off, and he flushed the toilet.
He rinsed his mouth out at the basin, and turned to Brock.
“He didn’t deserve to die. And now he’s dead.” Ash went pale. “What if the police-”
Brock shook his head.
“They won’t. He’s dead in an alley in a city overrun with crime. The police won’t care about another body.”
Ash looked confused.
“Overrun with crime? But I-”
Misty, who was standing in the doorway, interrupted him.
“Things changed when you left for the Sevii islands. The Rockets came back, and now they control all of Saffron and most of Celadon. They burned down Saffron Gym while Sabrina was still inside.”
<But that doesn’t mean she’s dead...> whispered a voice in Ash’s mind.
knowing her, she probably teleported out. Rumours say she’s in the
Brock, who’d been thinking for a moment, spoke up.
“How did you know what happened to that guy? You didn’t know him before, so how could you have known all of that stuff?”
Ash shook his head.
“I...” Ash closed his eyes, trying to figure out how to explain to them what he’d done. He didn’t quite understand it himself. He could still feel that dark delicious power inside of him, coiled at the back of his mind like an Ekans rearing to strike...
“I saw it. In his mind.” That much was true at least; he’d seen the memories before he killed him. Before he drained the shimmering thread of Emilio’s soul.
“I saw all his memories before I... before I...” Ash couldn’t say the words, and stuttered to a halt.
Brock backed away a step, without even noticing he’d done so.
“You saw it in his mind? How the hell could you have done that, Ash? You’re as psychic as a banana. How in the name of the gods could you have done that?”
Ash opened his eyes again, and was hurt that Brock had backed away, hurt that his friend was scared of him.
“In my head, when I grabbed his fist... I felt something come loose. Like it was held back, and then its bonds snapped. I felt it. It hurt. And then... I had to... I had to... could not stop it... it’s like it was a part of me, but not me...” he trailed off, seeing the stupefied look on Brock’s face.
“You wouldn’t understand.” He stated, and the finality of his tone lent Misty chills down her spine.
“You’re right, I don’t. Unless you can do a better job of explaining than that, I don’t think I will either.”
“Right now, I’m wishing I didn’t wake up.” He grimaced at a sudden flash of pain, and rested a hand on his ribs. “What...?” blood suddenly blossomed over his shirt, and Ash’s eyes opened wide.
“Ash!” called out Misty, but her voice was strangely distant as Ash fell, fell to the floor and kept on falling, down into the dark where no-one could help him.
Gingerly, Brock peeled back Ash’s shirt, and grimaced.
“Broken ribs. These two have punctured the skin.” Two white nubs of bone protruded from the base of Ash’s ribcage. “Must’ve taken a while for ‘em to work though the skin and the pleural layers.” Brock turned to the girl, who stood anxiously at his shoulder. “He would’ve broken these yesterday, when that thug –or Emilio as Ash insists on calling him- punched him. I’m surprised he could cope with the pain. I’ve had a broken rib before, and they hurt like hell.”
Misty shrugged. “Ash is tougher than he looks. I’ve fought him a couple times, and even though he never landed a blow on me, he survived whatever I dished out.”
“Mm. You have a mean left hook, as I recall. Gave me a black eye for a week.”
Misty nodded, pleased with herself. Abruptly, the smile on her face faded as she turned back to the unconscious figure of Ash on the floor.
“Look, he must’ve been hurt bad for there to be bruising.” Remarked Brock, leaning over the boy. “See, there’s bruising at the site of puncture, and all down his left side... hey, that cut wasn’t there before!”
A gash opened up on Ash’s side, where the skin had been smooth and unmarked. Blood bubbled up from the word, growing ever faster, and spilling over onto the tiles. “Misty! Get a first aid kit or something! Hurry!”
The girl didn’t need to be told twice.
As wary as Brock was of the boy, sure that there was something Ash hadn’t been telling them, he knew he had to put pressure on the flow, for it looked like a deep gash.
His fingers, positioned over the cut, sank into soft bloody flesh.
-Something dark, snapping at his mind, latching on, draining him, drawing out memories painful and best forgotten-
Brock snatched his fingers back, gasping with shock and pain at the violation of his mind.
In his sleep, Ash screamed.
A boy, no older than twelve by the looks of him, barefoot and in jeans, stumbled into the bathroom.
Tear tracks stain his dark face.
He slumps down against the bathroom wall, stifled sobs bubbling up past his lips.
In the distance, small children can be heard playing.
They’re too young to understand, much too young to know how bad their situation is.
Mother dead, and father gone...
The boy lowers his head, and lets out a strangled moan.
“Why’d you have to die, mama? Why couldn’t you have held on? Why didn’t you go to the hospital like papa said?” A boy’s voice; husky and newly broken. He chokes back another sob, and hugs his knees to his bare chest. He closes his eyes for a moment –and they’re so slanted it’s hard to tell they’re closed- and whips a knife from a pocket.
A small pocket-knife, slender and coldly beautiful.
The steel of the blade gleams in the fluorescent light, and the boy opens his eyes.
Cold steel presses against warm flesh.
The cold of the blade in direct contrast to the warm beat of blood beneath the skin of his throat.
How easy it would be to slice, feel the sharp kiss of the blade knife through his carotid artery, feel the red liquid flow through the wound, down his throat and onto the floor...
“Would death be painful? Would I lose consciousness, slip into sleep and not wake up?”
He sighs, and distantly a child is heard to sob, crying out his name.
“Were you afraid when you died, mama? Or did you know, even as Jade was born, that you had to leave?”
He looks imploringly to the heavens, but the neither his mother or the gods answer his questions.
The child is screaming now, screaming for his attention, and the love of the oldest member of the family present.
His younger brothers and sisters join in with the squalls of his baby sister, crying his name.
“Brock! Brock, where are you? BROCK!”
He sighs, the pocket knife is closed, and he leaves the bathroom, knowing that other lives –ten of them in fact- depend on his continued survival.
“I wish you’d never left, mama...”
When Misty entered the bathroom, she didn’t expect to find Ash lying in a puddle of his own blood, nor Brock huddled in the corner, cradling an injured hand.
“Brock! He’s bleeding to death! Why haven’t yo-”
This was true. Ash was pale before, but he was a wraith now.
Brock turned to her, and the hurt in his eyes –which were wider than she’d ever seen them, and so dark as to be pools of ink- was enough to stop her accusations.
His tone gave her the impression of a wounded Growlithe she’d seen once. The pokemon had been huddled in a corner, and when its trainer had reached out to touch it, the dog-pokemon had snarled, and barked, all the while giving the impression of a creature crazed with pain, but with enough self-control to not viciously savage the hand that fed it.
Not yet at any rate.
It was a warning not to go too far.
For the first time in her life, Misty realised there was hidden depths to the breeder from Pewter, hidden depths she didn’t think should ever be plumbed.
Ash moaned, and his fingers curled in on themselves.
Misty let Brock be for now, obviously seeing Ash as her first priority. She laid a towel on the pool of blood rapidly spreading over the white tiles, and reached out to place pressure on the wound...
<I wouldn’t touch him, girl. You might not like the results of such physical contact.>
Misty gasped as the voice seared into her mind, the words being transported into her head without needing to travel through such an ordinary medium as her ears.
“Brock, did you...?” Misty’s voice trailed off, even as she said the words.
She turned to the man, and was stunned and a little bit scared to see tears spilling over carved features. Brock didn’t seem to notice the tears, and Misty didn’t think she should draw attention to the fact.
“I wouldn’t touch him, Misty. Who knows what he’ll do to you?”
Misty looked confused.
Brock sighed, and stretched the fingers of his left hand, as though trying to see if they still worked.
“I tried to apply pressure to the wound, and as soon as my fingertips sank into the gash, something, I don’t know what it was, snapped at my mind. He was in my head, Misty. Ash Ketchum was in my head, and he rifled through my memories like they were his own.” Brock’s face was harder than she’d ever seen, tears or no. In fact, the tears merely brought to mind a waterfall cascading over broken stone.
He nodded his head at the prone boy, and his voice, when he spoke, was reminiscent of the deep rumble of a mountain, shortly before it became a volcano.
“No-one has the right to do what he just did. Either Ash Ketchum is hiding something, or there is something seriously wrong with that boy.”
<I would say the latter.>
Both of them heard it, and if Misty looked shocked, Brock looked terrified. And angry. Very, very angry.
Something in the centre of the room, very near where Ash lay, and almost above it, warped. A dark slit appeared, a few centimetres off the floor. The slit widened, becoming a doorway, and out stepped a tall man, blonde hair held back by a grey headband. The man had a pleasant, smiling face, with eyes that were half-closed and seemed sleepy. He was dressed in grey, and he was barefoot. He held out a hand, and a woman followed him. She was tall also, almost as tall as the man, and regal in her bearing. Her eyes were wide awake, and showed nothing, violet irises curiously blank.
“Go to hell, Sabrina. I don’t know who you are, but you can follow her.” remarked Brock, huddling even closer to the walls of the corner.
<Now Brock, is that anyway to talk to someone who has the power to turn you into a small decorative ornament? And Morty surely has something he can do. He’ll probably cast your soul from your body and doom you to an eternity of wandering the earth’s surface.>
The man shrugged, and rolled his eyes, indicating to Misty with a sleepy smile that some people never learn.
“Actually, Sabrina, I don’t do that kind of thing. You’re the one who kills and maims. I’m just here to clean up your mess afterwards.”
He frowned as he looked down at the sleeping boy, and closed his eyes at the sight of blood.
“Morty? The gym-leader from Eucreteak? I didn’t think you would be disturbed by the sight of blood.” Remarked Brock dryly.
“I’m not. The boy has only a tenuous hold on his thread Sabrina, and it’s starting to fray...”
Sabrina sighed, and waved a hand vaguely in the boy’s direction.
The blood-soaked towel flew up in the air, flew into the bathtub where the tap turned itself on, rinsing away the blood. The blood on the floor coalesced and shimmered, transmuting into something else. Rubies, gleaming in the bright light. The white nubs of protruding bone on Ash’s chest shook and melted with a hiss as they were reformed. The flesh where the bloody gash had been closed over, and the skin was smooth again. The bruises faded, and Ash, who’d been letting out low, animalistic moans, fell quiet. His hands relaxed, and the movements of his eyes behind his eyelids indicated he was merely asleep.
<Satisfied, Morty? Or do I need to give him a hug and a kiss as well?>
The sarcasm in her tone was obvious, and Morty sighed.
“Sabrina, I wish you were more agreeable sometimes. He could have died, and then all of your plans would have been for nothing. I’m sure you know how long it would take for the world’s current situation to replicate itself. At least another five millennia. And I do not think you are very patient.”
Sabrina ignored him.
<As for you, Brock of Pewter, once boy now man, although with a boy’s memories, freshly unearthed from where they were buried... I would recommend that you watch the boy. You have experience with child care; make sure he does not do anything ‘stupid’. If he does, he is likely to die. He will be very weak for the next few days.>
Brock blinked, and slowly stood, unfolding from the crumpled heap he had been.
“Fine. Just stop talking in my head. Having my mind invaded by him is bad enough, and I don’t need you giving me a headache as well.”
He gestured towards Ash, who lay on the floor, as before.
Misty, who’d been silent for some time, finally spoke.
“Okay, I can understand that you’re psychic and so’s he. Because of that, you can travel in ways never thought of. That explains the slit in the air. As Sabrina’s psychic, she can change things. That explain why Ash is suddenly all better and there’s a lot of rubies on the floor. I can understand why you don’t want me to touch him. Ash hurt Brock when Brock touched him, so I can understand why you don’t want that to happen to me. But what I can’t understand is why you are here.”
Her blue eyes were bright with something that looked like panic.
“All will be explained if you have patience. All in good time, Misty.”
Sabrina’s voice was as cold as her eyes.
“All in good time.”
Max was staring to hear some very strange things from the bathroom.
First, there was the sound of someone being sick, then people talking, then a muffled thump, then someone screaming.
“Do you think we should go and have a look?”
May shook her head at her brother’s question, not wanting to risk Misty’s considerable wrath by disobeying her.
“If they want us, they’ll call us. Are you gonna eat your cereal or what? Mum always said we had to have a good breakfast before having a big day, and I get the feeling that this is going to be a big day indeed.”
“Your young friends are becoming quite concerned. I suggest we take this conversation into the lounge.” Sabrina met Misty’s eyes and Misty found herself marvelling at how someone could just cut themselves off from their emotions. The woman smiled at her, and it was all the more disturbing for how sinister it was.
“Morty, take care of the boy, would you? Come along. Max is becoming quite vehement in his opinions of whether or not something is wrong.”
Brock glared at Sabrina, and voiced a thought.
“If no-one can touch Ash, how are you going to move him? It’s not like you can just...”
His voice trailed off as Morty held his hand some ten centimetres above Ash’s chest, and the boy rose slowly off the ground. Morty’s eyes, normally a soft silvery-grey, glowed violet. He headed for the door, Ash’s floating body following him.
“Oh.” said Brock, and as he followed Sabrina –who knew her way down the hall without needing to ask for directions- he felt a vague sensation that what followed next was going to be something he would never forget.
He was right.
“So, you understand that I and my companion Morty are merely here to prevent something incredibly dangerous from happening. Too many people have died. We do not wish to see another death, nor does Morty.”
“I would’ve thought that Morty wouldn’t have minded about the death part.” Remarked May, regarding the quiet man with narrowed eyes.
Morty smiled softly, and spoke in a voice that was a sigh.
“I do not like death, May. I cannot help that I was born a Seer. My abilities –and indeed, my destiny- were decided before I was even conceived. I do not wish to see the death of those who hold so many threads among their hands. Indeed, if Misty were to die, it would bring about the death, destruction and downfall of many.”
He said this quietly. Hands folded in front of him, face serene but those eyes were haunted.
“How could Misty’s death bring about the death of many? I mean, sure she might not be a life-guard down at the Aquatic Centre, and someone could drown but...” Max trailed off, nervous in the face of Sabrina’s gaze.
“Misty’s death would cause more trouble than you realise. Her sisters would be devastated, crashing their car and killing them. Rudy of Trovita would commit suicide, Brock would become depressed, eventually leading him to revert to his old manic-depressive cycle and eventually return to his old habits of self harm. May would become disenchanted and reckless, eventually dying of a motorcycle accident. Max, you would become a drug addict, your parents would divorce, and as for Ash...” she looked down at the boy who lay on the couch, still sleeping.
“...he would no longer be able to control the gnawing hunger within him, the hunger whose appetite was only whet by its first kill, the hunger that eats away at him steadily, gradually eroding his mind and morals, gradually turning him into a monster. Misty’s death, as the one person in the world he cares for the most, would result in his loss of sanity and loss of control of the nothingness inside him, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands as he tries desperately to fill the raging emptiness.” She smiled at this, as though it were some amusing joke. “Does that answer your question, Max?”
Max gaped, May shivered, Brock blanched and Misty looked down at Ash.
“What’s going on Ash? What’s happening to you?”
Ash, sleeping deeply, didn’t answer her.
“All I can tell you is that you must not touch him. Especially you, Misty. If your skin meets his, if your auras collide, he will kill you as surely as being hit by a freight train will, although his method will be a lot neater. All of the rest of you will merely experience what Brock did; an invasion of your mind and memories snatched from your thoughts. Unless, of course, he tries to drain your essence. Then, you will die.”
Sabrina looked down at the sleeping boy, and for a moment, for a brief moment, pity flickered across her face. Then, that brief flutter of emotion was gone as quickly as it came.
“I know that this will be a hard trial for you girl. I know of the affection that is building up in you, know of your utter lack of control in stifling it, no matter how hard you try. I know at one point it will reach a crescendo, and you will die, a slow, painful death if you do not heed my warning. Do not touch him; no matter what. Take refuge in your loneliness, and know that what he feels is a thousand times worse. In every meaning of the word.” For a moment, she looked up, her eyes boring into Misty’s, and she knew what Sabrina was telling her. Then, the eyes of both the women fell to the sleeping figure of Ash, fifteen and already a murderer.
“He will suffer. It is his destiny to, but it is also his destiny to do great and wonderful things, as painful as they will be. In the years to come, this will become clearer than ever. Heed my words. Do not touch the boy, for such a touch from him is the touch of death.”
She fell silent.
<His fate is woven, then?> he asked, aware that no-one but Sabrina could hear him.
<Yes. As is hers. I dare not say what she will become, for even I do not know if such I thing is possible. In all the possibilities I have woven, in all the patterns I have laid; only one came with a future in which she accomplishes her given task. One. I dare not chance fate by telling her what is at stake.>
<Sabrina, you are fate, all three of them.>
Sabrina smiled then, and the group who watched, marvelled at the poignant compassion of that smile.
There was a loud *pop*, and much quicker than they had come, both Sabrina and Morty disappeared.
For a moment, the group was silent. Then...
“Gods help us,” breathed Brock.
“I know what you mean.” Replied May.
Max nodded his agreement, but Misty looked down at Ash, who slept on, unaware of just how important and dangerous he had become.
“Gods help you, Ash Ketchum,” she whispered, “and me. For some reason, I get the feeling we’re going to need it.”
“-eaking news from
NOTE: okay, for anyone who read my first fanfic ‘The Company’, I forgot to
include a disclaimer. Oops (grins bashfully). Anyway, as I said at the top of
this, I don’t own pokemon. I am not the reincarnation of the creator of pokemon
(who as far as I know, is still alive). If I was, I certainly wouldn’t have
picked the body of an Australian teenager. I’d probably have come back as the
Queen of England, or the Emperor of Japan or even the president of the
Okay, as for this fanfic, this is the first part of I don’t know how many, it all depends on how much I write. This is probably going to be my first and last many-parted fanfic, as I usually write them in big chunks. Don’t mind any minor spelling mistakes, spell-check doesn’t pick ‘em all up, and you can only read through a piece of work so many times before it becomes mush. As I’m working on six fanfics at once (six, count ‘em, six) and am working towards my TEE (for you Americans and other people from other countries, that’s final exams) don’t expect this to be finished in a hurry. I’ll do as best as I can, and though I can type pretty fast I can’t perform miracles. Doesn’t matter if you don’t review me or not, cause I write for myself and close friends who’ve asked me to. (NOTE: if you’re a friend of mine, and you know who you are, I want reviews, dammit!).
To finish off, if you haven’t read ‘The Company’, please do so. The first fanfic I have submitted and my first finished (and in my opinion, my favourite. Or at least until this fic gets finished, and until I complete the one about vampires...).
Hope you enjoyed it, and I’ll try to update as soon as I can.