Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon or any of its characters
Team Rocket had been fast, their strike timed to catch everyone off guard. One would think he'd come to expect their interference at any day's notice, but if that were the case, Ash Ketchum wouldn't be stuck dashing through a forest following a Meowth-styled air balloon. If there was one thing he appreciated about Jessie and James, it would be the added flair to everything they did. It certainly made tracking the dramatic duo that much easier.
The day had started off well enough. Unbeknownst to him, his mother had prepared a celebratory feast in his honour at Professor Oak's corral, inviting the numerous friends and even rivals he'd made on his long pokemon journey. The fact she was able to track and contact the many people he'd met during his time in various regions was impressive and slightly scary if Ash were being honest. Even pokemon such as Charizard and Squirtle who normally spent their time away from the laboratory had been called back to join the celebrations. And he could have sworn he even spotted Primeape among the crowd, the champion pokemon apparently taking a break from the ring for this special occasion.
A part of him was embarrassed by all the attention and praise, but he couldn't deny he was happy. After all, he'd finally done it. After traversing numerous regions, and falling just short every time at the Pokemon League, he Ash Ketchum had finally triumphed at a Pokemon Conference.
It was a moment he'd never forget, the memories cemented permanently into his head. The crowd's roaring cheers as his Pikachu stood back up, the look of shock from his rival, Trip, as the commentator announced him winner. It was a great feeling, being a winner. And even though he lost to Elite Four member Grimsley, he was still extremely proud of how far he and his team had gotten.
But accompanying the euphoria of victory, was a small sense of relief. Determination was a characteristic he housed in abundance, but even the most determined of individuals would falter at the many complete losses and near wins he had suffered. It wasn't something he liked to talk about, but a small seed of doubt had been lodged into his mind, eating away at his motivation and drive. The win at the Unova Conference gave his spirit the boost it needed and now his dream of becoming Pokemon Master didn't seem so distant.
Shaking free from his thoughts, Ash felt a smile creep onto his face as he looked around. His many friends and companions were all chatting with each other, clearly still ecstatic about his win. All his pokemon were happily mingling, introducing themselves to his newer ones from Unova.
It was truly great to be back in Pallet Town. Despite the thrill offered by battling and travelling, he did miss the peace and serenity provided by his small hometown. He was actually planning to settle down for a bit to train and bond with his pokemon before heading out to a new region.
A sudden weight on his shoulder directed his attention to the arrival of his best friend. He turned to face Pikachu. The small rodent shot him a confused look, trying to discern the reason for its trainers silence. After all, he wasn't joining in on the celebration that was obviously thrown in his honour.
"Nothing's wrong buddy. I was just thinking." Ash answered with a smile. Pikachu was incredibly perceptive at times and it honestly didn't surprise him anymore when the questions it asked were spot on.
The mouse pokemon responded with a skeptic look, it's face scrunching up to convey sarcastic questioning. 'You really think I'd buy that.' However it didn't push the issue to his relief, most likely letting it slide to avoid dampening the mood of the party. Instead, it opted at pointing to his group of friends, urging him to join in on the fun. Ash quickly complied.
"YEAH! YOU'RE RIGHT BUDDY. LET'S PARTY!"
And with that shout, Ash went and joined in on the celebrations.
Ash spent most of his time catching up with old friends. Misty and Brock were first to congratulate him. The former made her usual jabs, jokingly expressing her disbelief at his victory. However, the pride and happiness in her eyes spoke the exact opposite. May and Max were both as lively as ever, though the younger boy had to be the most excited person at the party. He continuously gushed about how cool winning must've been and was relentless with his request on meeting Ash's newly acquired pokemon. Promising to take him to meet his pokemon later, Ash left them to go talk to Dawn. Unlike Misty, she spoke about how she had always believed in him and how she just knew he could do it.
Even Gary Oaks, his ex-rival, was eager to offer his congratulations. Their friendship had been slowly mending over the years, but it didn't take long for a challenged to be issued. After all, Ash and Gary wouldn't be well, Ash and Gary if they didn't battle once every while.
"Surprised aren't you, Ashy boy? But I want to see how much you've improved. You were my rival after all."
Never one to turn down a challenge, Ash quickly agreed to the battle. He sent out his Pikachu while Gary chose to go with his Umbreon. A crowd swiftly formed around them. It seemed everyone was eager to see him showcase his skills.
However, before any of the boys could even utter a command, there was a loud explosion. Smoke engulfed everything, and when it finally cleared (with the appreciated help of his bird pokemon of course), Ash was shocked with what he saw. Rocket grunts surrounded them from all angles, and they wasted no time in sending out their pokemon. Anticipating a battle, his friends prepared their pokemon as well, while civilians such as his mum, slowly began to creep back.
"GET EM!" shouted one of the rocket grunts.
And with that signal, all chaos broke loose. Due to how quickly the situation had escalated, it actually took a few moments for his brain to process what was happening, so for a while, Ash just stood there, mouth gaping like a brain dead magikarp. All around him trainers were screaming out moves as pokemon struggled to keep up with attacks. From the corner of his eye, Ash could see his pokemon holding their own without him, expertly fighting off their opponents.
Charizard was sending flamethrower after flamethrower, burning up any opponent that dared to oppose him. Sceptile was calmly cutting down pokemon with his leaf blade.
Suddenly there was another loud explosion, but this time, it had come from Professor Oaks' laboratory. Looking over towards said building, Ash could see an all too familiar Meowth balloon emerging from the roof.
"HAHAHAHA. Catch us if you can you twerp," exclaimed Jessie as she stared directly at him.
"That right," cheered James.
"MY RESEARCH!" yelled Professor Oak, panic evident in his eyes. "It contains information that could be dangerous in the hands of a criminal organization like Team Rocket.
That wasn't good. Calling out to Pikachu, who immediately rushed to his side, Ash ran off to pursue the Team Rocket trio.
"Don't worry Professor, I'll get it back!" yelled Ash. "Lets go Pikachu!"
And just like that, Ash left, completely ignoring the cries of Professor Oak to wait for back up. He couldn't just stand around while Team Rocket escaped with such important information. And from the sound of intense battling behind him, backup wouldn't be available for quite a while. They didn't have the luxury of waiting. Besides, he and Pikachu had defeated Team Rocket countless times before. This time would be no different.
This led to his current predicament now.
The chase took him deep into a forest. Despite having absolutely no idea where he was going, he followed their balloon doggedly. It wasn't easy though. Even with his athleticism, stray branches and shrubs grabbed at his clothes, slowing him down. Avoiding the wild pokemon was also quite taxing.
The balloon eventually slowed down though, and Ash could see it steadily land in an open clearing in the forest. They probably ran out of fuel, he thought, smirking to himself. Refusing to let this opportunity go to waste, he increased his speed and jumped out into the clearing. What waited for him though was the last thing he expected.
There, in the middle of the open land, stood Jessie, James, Meowth and more importantly Giovanni.
But why? The infamous Rocket Boss rarely left his hideout, preferring to have his grunts do the dirty work.
"It's been a long time hasn't it, Ash Ketchum? But worry not; I haven't forgotten you or any of the things you've done to get in my way."
Hearing the man's slick voice, Ash felt himself tense and from the side, he heard Pikachu let out a low growl.
"What are you doing here, Giovanni?" he questioned harshly, a mix of caution and anger in his tone.
"No need to sound so upset," replied Giovanni, a smirk evident on his face. "And to answer your question, I'm here to get rid of you. Permanently!"
"BRING IT OUT!"
Giovanni's unexpected presence had been a huge distraction. Too caught up in his thoughts, he had conveniently ignored his original targets. Bad move as it allowed the Rocket Trio to push a button that transformed the basket of their balloon into one of their usual metal contraption. It resembled, to his disbelief, a machine gun and was as large and extravagant as one could expect from a group like Team Rocket. The machine was connected to a small seat that sat behind a control panel.
Eager to please his boss, James hopped onto the seat, pressed a few buttons and turned the gun to point at him.
It started to load up and Ash knew right then and there he had to move. Responding to his brain's urgent orders he jumped aside just as the machine shot a bright, white beam at him. When he looked back, Ash saw smoking patch of grass where he had previously stood.
"Darn you!" Cursed the blue haired man. He quickly angled the gun for another shot.
To his relief, Pikachu chose to intervene, angered by the sight of its trainer being attacked. The loyal pokemon released a barrage of electric bolts. But to his shock and horror, a shield activated, protecting James from any real damage.
Nevertheless, Pikachu didn't relent, refusing to give James any time to attack Ash. Its determination was not without results, as cracks began to slowly form in the shield. James himself seemed unsure at what to do. Pikachu's attacks were both quick and relentless and he was split on whom to aim for. His boss told him to get rid of the boy but the Pikachu was becoming quite problematic, with its powerful lightning attacks that didn't seem to be running out anytime soon. To be sure, he turned away from the panel to face his boss.
Ash on the other hand, could clearly see the amount of energy the multiple assaults had drained from Pikachu. The yellow rodent was panting heavily as it continued to summon more lightning.
"ENOUGH PIKACHU! STOP! YOU'VE DONE ENOUGH! HE'S DISTRACTED."
To his relief, the pokemon stopped, but not completely. Pikachu remained wary, and Ash could see its cheeks sparking, a sign that it was powering up for another attack.
"Boss! Who do I shoot at?"
"The boy of course!" he heard Giovanni exclaim. "Ignore the pokemon. It's the boy who gets in our way!"
Intimidated by angry man, James immediately set his sight on Ash again, who unfortunately, was quite tired from his run in the forest. Seeing an opportunity to finish the job, James started up the machine and this time it didn't look like Ash would make it. The machine finally finished loading and shot out its powerful beam.
Ash closed his eyes, ready for the searing pain associated with being slowly disintegrated to come.
Looking up, he was met with the sight of bright thunder pushing back the beam. Pikachu, as sharp as ever, had anticipated this turn of events. His beloved pokemon had come to his rescue yet again.
Though Pikachu seemed to be exerting a high amount of its power, both attacks were at a stalemate and none seemed to be backing down.
"COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT PIKACHU!"
"MORE POWER YOU IMBECILE!"
Both cries were loud and filled with emotion. But it was Ash who emerged victorious, as Pikachu, encouraged by the support of it's trainer, let out passionate cry and doubled the power to it's thunderbolt, completely overwhelming and pushing back Team Rocket's beam.
To his dismay, upon contact with the thunder, the machine did not shut down, like many of the Team Rocket inventions. Instead it started to glow and shake, sparking violently. Ash couldn't help but regret sending an ELECTRIC type attack to a most likely electric powered machine.
Ash knew running on foot would not get him out of this one. So instead, he lunged for Pikachu, wrapping his arms around the small Pokemon. If he was going to die, he was going to make sure his pokemon survived. Just liked he predicted the machine let out a loud screech before exploding.
Ash felt himself get engulfed in the explosion, but surprisingly, there wasn't much pain. Instead he simply felt tired. His eyes started to droop and before he slipped into unconsciousness, he felt Pikachu tighten its grip on his shirt.
When Ash came to, he noticed to his disbelief, that he was still alive. He was still in the clearing, but there was no Team Rocket anywhere and more surprisingly, there were no tell tale signs of an explosion. Where were the patches of burnt grass, or the scorched trees?
Something struggled violently against his stomach and Ash hastily recalled squashing Pikachu to himself in an attempt to protect it. The poor pokemon was probably suffocating from the strength of his embrace. Opening his arms, he let it jump out and take large gulps of air.
"Sorry pal," he said, scratching his head in embarrassment.
Pikachu obviously didn't care though as it shocked him painfully before yelling in what he assumed was anger. Despite the aches, he couldn't help but grin widely. It was apparent Pikachu was simply worried about him. Said pokemon stopped shouting as soon as it saw his goofy smile. It settled with shaking its head at its hard-headed trainer.
Speaking about worries, Ash was rather concerned about his friends. Did they manage to drive off Team Rocket? Pushing himself off the ground, he allowed Pikachu some time to hop onto his shoulder before running back to town.
When he arrived at the edge of Pallet Town, he saw to his relief, no burning buildings or screaming people. The town looked just as peaceful as it was this morning. So his friends did manage to defeat Team Rocket. Feeling all worries wash away, Ash slowly made his way back. Now that everything was over, the adrenaline was starting to fade and the exhaustion from such an extreme confrontation was getting to him. He need some sleep. His bed was practically calling to him, and from the way Pikachu rested it's check against his head, the pokemon agreed with the sentiment.
However, as he came nearer to town, Ash couldn't help but notice something strange. He saw specks of people moving about, but where were all the pokemon? His town was a kind community and considering the fact that a renowned Pokemon Professor lived in it, it was usually very welcoming towards Pokemon.
Normally, the town would be brimming with pokemon. Rattatas could be seen running all around the place with scraps of food in their mouth while Pidgeys could be spotted resting on the many trees in town. But Ash could see no pokemon, no Rattatas or Pidgeys. And as he thought back, he remembered encountering no pokemon on his way back from the forest either. Strange considering how many he saw while chasing Team Rocket. Things were getting very suspicious, so he increased his speed towards town, eager to get to the bottom of this mystery.
As he got nearer, he could see a group of people running towards him. They all wore an awfully familiar black outfit with a red R right in the middle. A few members of the crew were hugging a compact brown suitcase. It was Team Rocket! Ash panicked. He thought his friends had taken care of them. Was he wrong? Was everyone being held hostage? But everything looked fine from a distance.
Deciding that panicking would get him nowhere, Ash raised his arms to block the upcoming rocket grunts. They wouldn't be allowed to get away with their crimes. The rocket grunts came to a stop when they saw him, confused but not intimidated.
"Oi, move it brat. We're in a hurry!" one of them said.
"No way, I'm gonna stop you right here and now!" yelled Ash. "GO PIKACHU!"
Said pokemon hoped off his back and stood in front of the rocket grunts, letting out a low growl. Now Ash knew Pikachu could be very scary when it needed to be, but when the rocket grunts all stumbled back, eyes wide, he raised an eyebrow. They couldn't even form a proper sentence, opting to simply stare and point at Pikachu.
"Is-Is th-that a REAL pokemon?" one of them finally stuttered.
Again, Ash raised his eyebrows. Obviously Pikachu was a pokemon. What else could he be? These grunts were acting as if they've never seen a pokemon before, which was strange considering pokemon inhabited the whole world.
One of the grunts eventually snapped out of his shock and looked up to glare at him.
"I don't who you are kid," he spat "But we're not going down even if you have a real pokemon with you."
And just like that, he pulled out a rod from under his shirt. Extending it to its full length, he pressed button and the stick started to spark. His friends quickly followed suit. Ash began to feel nervous. They weren't going to send out their Pokemon? They were actually going to physically fight him!
"GET HIM BOYS!" yelled the grunt just as Ash let out his own command.
To his horror, Pikachu, who had to dodge the assaulting grunt last minute, released no attack. It hit him like a tonne of bricks. Pikachu probably exerted all its energy in their previous encounter with the Team Rocket leader and now it had no strength to battle.
"PIKACHU!" he yelled in panic. The pokemon dodged yet another hit. This went on for minutes and Ash could only watch in terror as his best friend fought for it's life.
"Whaddya know, this thing ain't so tough," the leading grunt mocked as he continued to attack.
Ash felt himself shake, both in anger and fear. Pikachu was burnt in some places of its fur; unable to fully avoid the rod brushing it's body. Despite its high resistance to electric based attacks, Pikachu wasn't completely immune to its effects. And it seems exhaustion not only prevented his Pokemon's attacking ability, but lowered its speed and defenses as well.
"Finish them!" the grunt howled, triumph in his eyes.
Ash knew he had to get to his pokemon; he wouldn't let Pikachu get hurt because of his foolish decisions. But before he could even take one step forward, a figure suddenly jumped in front of him, blocking him and Pikachu from the grunts. Seizing the opportunity he swiftly crawled to Pikachu, pulling it into an embrace.
"Sorry buddy," he whispered, tears forming at the edges of his eyes. "I promise I'll get some help, so rest. You've worked hard enough."
However, despite his promise of finding help, he did not move. The closet place with a healing machine was Pallet Town, and that path was blocked by the grunts. Instead, he chose to pet Pikachu on the head softly, allowing the mysterious figure in front of him to do the work. As guilty as it made him feel, there was nothing he could do.
"How dare you bastards set foot back here after what you did," the figure growled. Ash felt his eyes widen. Despite his oblivious nature, even Ash could feel the absolute hatred and anger laced within the voice. If he were being honest, based purely on his tone, Ash would peg this person as even more of a threat than Team Rocket.
"Shit," muttered one of the grunts. Well that confirmed it. This new figure obviously meant business to inspire such worry from the previously cocky grunts.
Having thought that, Ash was surprised to see the back of a teenage boy, just a bit older than himself, when he looked up to examine the figure more carefully. From his view, Ash could see the boy had light yellow hair and wore a citrine yellow jumper along with black pants and tall brown boots. Overall, the boy looked quite normal.
Well, that was until Ash noticed the two ears, sticking from the top of boy's head and the tail at his back. That certainly surprised him. Despite his bewilderment, he still noted the ears followed a familiar yellow with black tip pattern and that the tail was shaped like a thunderbolt.
"Who cares if he's one of them, we can still take him!"
The yells snapped him from his stupor, and his mind immediately began processing the grunt's exclamation.
One of what? To his disappointment, the grunt didn't expand on his statement. He simply approached the STILL unknown figure with his electric rod. Ash felt alarmed at the sight. That was the tool that defeated Pikachu! How could a boy, no older than himself, handle that?
In contrary to his belief, the boy just chuckled, apparently unconcerned with the incoming threat.
'An electric rod," he mocked casually. "Who do you think you're dealing with?"
And with that, the brutal beat down began. The mystery boy was extremely skilled. He dodged the grunt's attack with much grace and agility and his punches were swift and hard. What surprised Ash the most was the electric sparks surrounding the boy's hand. It didn't look like it affected the boy, but whenever he attacked a grunt; the sparks seemed to electrocute them.
Realizing that they were fighting a losing match, the grunts started to back away, looking for a chance to escape. Suddenly their eyes landed on him and Ash felt his stomach drop.
"GET THE KID!" they yelled.
Ash tried to move but for some reason, he couldn't. Perhaps it was the fear. However, the grunts never touched him as the mysterious boy grabbed him and tackled out of the way.
This unfortunately, gave the grunts an opportunity to chuck a smoke bomb and escape.
Ash almost didn't care though as he was still in shock. Managing to snap himself out of it, he waited for the smoke to clear. When it did he looked around for the mysterious, blonde boy. He needed to thank him but he also needed to ask him a few questions. Ash saw the boy heading back towards Pallet and immediately chased after him.
"HEY! WAIT UP!"
"HEY, WHO ARE YOU?"
Still no reply.
"HEY DON'T IGNORE ME!"
Feeling extremely annoyed, Ash increased his speed and grabbed the boy's shoulder, effectively stopping him.
"Hey, stop walking, I need to ask you a few things."
The boy shrugged his hand off and continued on.
"WHY THE HELL ARE YOU IGNORING ME JERK?"
This seemed to get him as the mystery boy stopped walking and turned around, finally letting Ash get a glimpse of his face.
"WHY YOU ASK!"
"THE ENEMY JUST GOT Awa…"
For some unknown reason, he stopped mid sentence and stared. Ash was honestly quite creeped out. Was there something on his face? He rubbed his cheek just in case and felt nothing. So what was wrong then? Just a few seconds ago, the kid was yelling so enthusiastically, but now he was gaping as if he'd seen a ghost.
Snapping out of whatever trance he was in, the boy started to talk again.
"H-h-how…? No… But…" he muttered, obviously conflicted.
I"-is th-that r-really you Ash?" he finally whispered, voice trembling and shock still evident on his face. However, despite that, Ash could sense the hope in his voice even if it was hidden.
Okay, this was getting weirder by the second. Apparently the boy knew who he was. Even with his horrible memory, Ash was 100% sure he had never met a boy with ears, tails and fighting skills.
"Well, yeah I'm Ash Ketchum. But sorry, I don't know who-"
But this time, it was he who was interrupted as the boy tackled him into a suffocating hug all while crying and whispering.
"Its really you. You're really alive."
A/N: Just an idea that popped into my head after browsing the web and seeing artworks depicting the human designs of pokemon. This chapter probably has hundreds of mistakes, sorry about that. I'll probably do something about it later.
Anyways, hope it was a good start. I tried not to reveal too much. Hopefully things weren't too boring, but setting the base of the story is necessary. Please leave a review. Hopefully this idea interests others as much as it does me.