I have explained my absence as a status update on my profile page, so if you want to know why I haven't been around then please check that update. Thank you in advance and I hope you can forgive my absence.
I DO NOT OWN POKÉMON.
"Hello" – Speech
'Hello' – Thoughts
"Hello" – Pokémon speech/Aura/Psychic communication
'Hello' – Pokémon thoughts
[Hello] – Pokédex Entries
Ash stared at the scene in front of him. It was like something out of a horror movie or a nightmare. The bodies of Pokémon and Human alike were strewn about the impact area – dominated further by the Team Rocket Flag tauntingly swaying in the hot air.
Bile rose in his throat and his mind ceased to function as the screams of injured humans and pokémon echoed hauntingly in his ears – ringing loudly and mercilessly assaulting his senses.
But despite all this … it was his Aura that screamed the loudest. It burned hot under his skin at the taint of death and destruction around him - a searing heat that boiled in the very core of his being.
Ash swallowed harshly in an attempt to wet his own throat and centre himself, but couldn't help the flinch as the action failed to do either. With his Aura threatening to overwhelm him, he didn't hear Erika barking out orders to her assistants, or Brock's attempts to snap him out of his own despair.
But what Ash did see was those imposing and glowing red eyes of the pokémon that had started the chain of events that led them to this moment. There was no voice that accompanied it, nor was there any other form of communication between the two … they merely stared at each other. Then after a tense moment, the presence flickered before it finally muttered, "Go and perform your duty to the world ... Ash Ketchum."
Out in the real world, it was Lance that took charge. Lance limped up to Ash and in one swift movement slapped the boy firmly.
It had the desired effect as Ash's brain registered the pain. It seemed to kick start his brain's functions and he blinked several times before his eyes focused on the acting Champion.
"Now is not the time for you to be spacing out, young man," Lance ordered. "You and your pokémon will assist in the search and rescue efforts."
Ash nodded shakily at the order. He then spent a moment staring at the acting Champion … he was barking out orders like … well the Champion. Realization dawned on Ash. The Champion was a commander in times of trouble or war and war was now upon them once more. Team Rocket had very publicly declared that to Kanto, and he held no doubts that the rest of the world would know by the following day.
Team Rocket … the very thought of the organization was enough to leave the worst kind of bitter taste in his mouth. Mr. Rocket's shadowy figure flashed in the front of his mind – his baritone mocking him and rage followed. Lance, Brock and Erika all froze as the suffocating atmosphere became even heavier... ominous waves of red aura poured out of Ash in startling quantities. It blanketed the area and Brock and Erika gasped as glowing red eyes pierced them through the smoke. Lance however was unmoved. He had spent time with the boy's father Red. He had felt the very fine control that only came with a mastery in Aura. Was Ash powerful? Yes, he was powerful … more so than his father. Was Ash dangerous? Oh, most definitely... but Ash's aura was also raw, wild and unfocussed.
Brock moved to intervene and calm the youth, but a firm hand on his shoulder stopped him. Lance narrowed his gaze at the ex-Gym Leader and shook his head. Lance then shifted his gaze to the youngest amongst them, Ash, and then spoke.
"Find the survivors and assist the police force in their rescue," Lance demanded harshly – there was no time to waste if they wanted to keep damage and loss of life to a minimum.
Brock felt like punching Lance at that moment. It wasn't until Ash's quiet, monotoned voice responded that he stopped himself from following through.
"Understood," came the automatic reply from the red eyed youth. "I am sensing a large group of individuals to the north west of our position – twelve human and one small pokémon."
The almost robotic tone saw Lance cringe internally. He had to remember that Ash wasn't Red. He responded differently and he could sense the minute changes to the boy's Aura. The chilling feeling that was there after the Lighthouse Incident had gotten more prominent. Lance cursed, but there was no time to stop to correct that issue. Pokémon and human alike needed their help.
"You heard the boy!" he barked to the arriving police force. "Officer Jenny... you will accompany Ash in the search and rescue efforts. GO!"
Officer Jenny nodded and spared Ash a glance. He looked so … robotic. Like he was there physically but not in spirit. His movements were sluggish even though he was focused on the task at hand. Jenny shook her head. Ash was already directing reluctant police officers to locations nearby, though none of them appeared particularly thrilled by being told what to do to a seemingly fresh pokémon trainer. Ash had already released his pokémon by the time she caught up. Using their unique skills to aide in the rescue efforts. Mismagius was using her psychic abilities to lift rubble while Bastiodon was using his strength to clear the rubble that had been moved by Mismagius. His other pokémon such as Combusken and Charmander were using their Crush Claw and Dragon Claw attacks to help break the debris left in the street to clear an area for the medics and for Nurse Joy to assist in treating those injured.
Officer Jenny blinked at her officers as they carefully steered clear of the red-eyed youth. Oh, they certainly realized that he was a boon in their efforts, but even they had seemed to sense the chilling atmosphere he had been projecting. She wanted to seriously punch Lance for that, but she knew that nothing good would come from assaulting her superior. She surveyed the area … Brock and his pokémon were being utilized like Ash's physically gifted pokémon, not that that surprised her – the ex-Gym Leader's rock types being particularly helpful.
Erika's grass types weren't really helpful to the search and rescue efforts, but they were very useful to the medics and Nurse Joy. Their Stun Spore and Sleep Powder attacks assisting in providing those injured with numbing pain and getting those who were unable to get pain medication by putting them into an induced sleep.
Ash was thankful that the attack had not knocked out the connection to the lab's network. Transferring several of his team for pokémon like Bastiodon and moments ago, the Squirtle Squad. The Squirtle Squad was assisting the other water types in subduing the fires that still burned hot. Ash drank the last of his water in his bottle, and ignored his fatigue as he sat down in his meditative stance. He allowed his aura to flow out of him and into the area. He spied several pokémon still trapped with their trainers. He directed Mismagius to the areas and had her lift the rubble under his careful instructions, lest the rubble crush those still trapped. Once those trainers and their pokémon were safe and being seen by Nurse Joy or the medics, Ash moved to a new location to continue the orders given by Lance. He did it automatically at first but by the second group were rescued, he had been more thorough in the task.
The whole situation had Ash realizing that it wasn't enough to be a Champion … no … he had to be a Commander, a leader and most importantly, a symbol. He saw how those affected by this attack looked at Lance. He inspired those around him to be their best in times of crisis. He idly wondered if his father was the symbol people looked up to … personally he couldn't see it considering the man up and left his mother to raise a child on her own … though at the same time he felt that the man's power was unrivalled. Lance's immediate reaction to his aura and the orders that followed indicated that the acting champion knew his father … intimately if he was knowledgeable about the inner workings of aura.
'His initial reaction is indicative of more than a passing knowledge of aura,' Ash thought with a narrowed gaze at the acting champion. 'He has either researched the topic or has been in contact with an Aura User in past experiences. Riley perhaps? Unlikely. Riley's influence rarely leaves the borders of Sinnoh. A Guardian of Rota? Also, unlikely. They guard their secrets more than even the Sinnoh conclave does. That narrows his exposure somewhat. Research is a possibility, but the only texts I am aware of are written in the ancient dialect of Pokélantis, and I highly doubt that the man can read that text. Dragon speech perhaps, but not the texts from Pokélantis. Furthermore, Mr. Rocket commented on my aura capabilities in comparison to my father, and as he is the presumed founder of Team Rocket, he likely been on the receiving end of aura in his past … conclusion: Acting Champion Lance Blackthorn is acquainted on a personal level with my father as he is the only common denominator in this matter.'
Ash's gaze seemed to be sensed by the man in question, as he turned to the youth. The flicker in Ash's eyes told the man that he'd deduced the connection between his father and him.
'Damn,' Lance internally cursed. 'I underestimated Red's son's intelligence. I must tread carefully in my responses to his enquiries. The President of the Pokémon League won't be pleased if he figures out our role in his father's disappearance.'
Lance sighed in relief as Ash's gaze left him and narrowed in on the remains of the Game Corner – his eyes flickering with aura as he extended his senses. A frown indicated something of importance, so Lance moved over to the youth that he had to be careful of.
"What is it?" he asked the youth.
"There is a faint aura signature coming from the depths of the debris indicative of a pokémon that's still alive," Ash replied – his gaze on the remains of the once fancy building. "I am also sensing several dozen signatures that have recently passed. Correct me if I'm wrong, acting champion, but wasn't the Game Corner licensed by the Pokémon League to distribute pokémon as prizes?"
Lance paled at the implication. There were pokémon still inside the centre? He cursed and immediately called for assistance.
"There's no time," Ash stated plainly. "I'll be able to fit through the gaps to get to the pokéball the lifeform is thankfully inside of … the device saved the pokémon's life – and before you protest, it has to be me that goes in as I can navigate the path as I go. It's impossible for me to direct another person or pokémon from out here as my aura is low."
Lance nodded to the youth – giving him his permission.
Ash wasted no time and started squeezing his way through the opening of the ruined remains. Carefully he moved through, only pausing to send minute portions of his already low aura or to prevent the path from collapsing on him. After a tense and careful journey, he came upon a semi caved in room that was littered with dead pokémon. He offered a silent prayer to them as he honed in on the only shelf that lent precariously over the sewer system. He sensed the aura of the pokémon inside the pokéball and managed to grab it just in time as the shelf collapsed on itself and plunged into the darkness of the sewers. He gently let his aura out to let the pokémon know it was now safe, and was rewarded with a shy push back.
'Psychic type and female,' Ash recognized the unique characteristics in the pokémon's aura – he sent another wave of soothing aura and felt the pokémon respond once more, this time communicating that she felt safe in his hands. Ash pondered if the pokémon could use Teleport, but he couldn't risk her safety by calling her out. He smiled softly as the pokémon even went as far as to shyly brush against his like a child would to a parent or guardian, but then blinked as the psychic type bonded herself with his aura. He had never had another pokémon willingly bond to him of his or her own volition. Yes, Combusken had done so as a Torchic, but that was the unconscious bond of a baby pokémon to a parent. This bonding was from a pokémon that was aware of what she was doing.
It was perhaps the one act that day that saw his heavy heart and aura warm a little and make him feel lighter than he had since the Lighthouse Incident.
Lance, Brock, Erika, Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny all breathed a sigh of relief as Ash returned to the outside world with the pokéball in hand. He looked deep into Lance's eyes to indicate the severity of the situation and told him of the dead bodies of the pokémon inside the ruins.
"There's more," Ash spoke. "This pokémon … she has willingly bonded with my aura, and I refuse to break that trust by handing her over to you unless it's to have her checked by Nurse Joy."
Lance frowned at the declaration, but with all that had happened he merely nodded. "Very well. We've done all we can tonight. Let's all get some rest and reconvene tomorrow."
The group nodded and Brock moved to steady a swaying Ash. "I'm fine, Brock. Just tired from using so much aura."
Brock nodded but still held him steady. "Be that as it may Ash, you're exhausted and need help to get to a bed before you fall down."
Ash surprised the ex-Gym Leader by shrugging slightly in response. Brock grinned and helped him over to Nurse Joy. He spoke so those could hear him physically as well as through his aura to the psychic type pokémon that had entrusted her life and future to.
"I'll be passing you to someone who I trust implicitly and will check to see if you're healthy, okay?" Ash spoke.
Nurse Joy teared up at the comment. It never ceased to warm her heart that Ash trusted her as much as he did. There was always a level of something in Ash's words that just let people know he was speaking truthfully to them. Officer Jenny heard it also and smiled for her friend, but internally frowned as she thought about Ash's mother Delia. She knew from the hysteria and desperation in her voice and countenance when they spoke over the Video Phone that the woman knew he'd been telling her the truth about not taking drugs, but she also found it difficult to understand why Delia jumped to conclusions. When it came to the topic of drugs, Delia did tend to jump the gun, metaphorically speaking. There was usually an underlining feeling that there was more than met the eye regarding the matter – something unspoken but important to the 'big picture.'
Jenny returned from her thoughts as the pokéball opened to reveal the pokémon inside and instantly cooed as it was revealed to be a Ralts.
Ralts was a humanoid Pokémon with a white body. She had thin arms and legs that widened toward her feet. There was a wispy extension trailing off the back of her feet, creating the overall impression of a nightgown or oversized dress. Most of her face was covered by green hair that resembled a bowl cut, but a pair of pinkish-red eyes curiously peaked out from under her locks, while a shy smile was visible as she gazed at Ash. She had two flat, red horns on top of her head: a large one toward the front and a smaller one at the back. They all knew that Ralts used their horns to read people and Pokémon's emotions, and judging by her smile at Ash, they knew she was feeling warm and safe with her new trainer.
Ralts ducked behind Ash's legs at seeing everyone but would occasionally peek out from behind his leg to get a feeling for those around her. She refused to let go of the red-eyed youth's pants and Ash's gaze showed realization at the action. She had been in a room, unable to move whilst in her pokéball and was surrounded by the feelings of death and pain as the pokémon around her died.
Ash's aura soothed those fears and was the first warm emotions that she had felt in a long while. Plus, she appeared to be genuinely happy to be bonded to him. Ash carefully leant down, picked her up, and let her snuggle into his arms – if she needed any more reassurances, then she had them by that one act alone. Ash introduced Ralts to Nurse Joy, and she let the Nurse check her over.
Whilst this was happening, Ash aimed his device at Ralts, missing the startled look that Lance gave at seeing something that had once belonged to Red.
[Ralts: The Feeling Pokémon: If its horns capture the warm feelings of people or Pokémon, its body warms up slightly.]
[This Pokémon is Female. It has the ability Trace. It knows the moves: Growl, Confusion, Shadow Sneak and Double Team. Note that Shadow Sneak is an Egg Move.]
Ash placed a hand on Ralt's head and gently pet the Feeling Pokémon. "I am pleased to welcome you to our makeshift family Ralts. I promise that should you wish to battle; I will train you to the best of my ability, and if you do not, then that is completely fine too … you are welcomed no matter your decision."
"I will be the best Pokémon I can be for your team, Aura Guardian," Ralts shyly replied.
Ash chuckled quietly – though Brock heard it and silently cheered. Ash continued to pet the psychic type and replied. "It's Ash, Ralts. You never need to address me so formally."
Ralts happily cried out her name and jumped from a Nurse Joy's surprised arms into Ash's. Ash smiled softly, this time the Pokémon Nurse witnessing it, and hobbled over to the bed assigned to him by the police force – their looks of respect following his steps. Ash congratulated his pokémon team on their hard work and allowed them all to greet their newest addition to their group. Ralts soaked in the positive emotions and beamed at the assembled pokémon... she was happier than she had ever been in her short life.
Ash stood across the make shift battlefield staring at his opponent.
Acting Champion Lance Blackthorn stared back.
Ash had been surprised when Lance approached him after those that could be rescued, were in fact rescued and asked if he would like to battle. Ash wasn't so foolish to believe he was at the champion's level … yet. But that mattered little as he gazed at the champion. Lance frowned and threw a pokéball into the air. His signature pokémon, his Dragonite materializing onto the battlefield.
Ash didn't need to be an Aura User to feel the pressure and power in the pokémon before him. There were no defects … nothing that could be exploited outside of type advantages, and even then, he anticipated that Lance had trained his Pokémon to account for any possible outcomes. There was an unnerving lack of information being returned by his opponent as well … unlike Mr. Rocket who exuded conflicting information, Lance exuded absolutely nothing.
Ash narrowed his eyes in thought as he appraised the Dragonite before him. 'This Dragonite is definitely male. He is by far, the strongest dragon type I have ever seen. Even the giant Dragonite didn't feel this strong – older yes – but power wise hers was raw and untrained. Lance's Dragonite has been trained by the undisputed best in Kanto and Johto. Based on that, I will have to unfortunately assume that this Dragonite will have the ability Inner Focus so that rules out any advantage by flinching him … not that I expected to have a speed advantage in the first place … especially judging by the lean musculature visible. It's frustrating that I cannot deduce any possible weaknesses.'
He frowned in thought. 'I could use Luxray considering the typing advantage... but I have not properly ascertained her skill level as much as I'd like. It seems I have to go with one of my older team members.'
Lance allowed the boy to decide in peace, but didn't have to wait as long as he expected.
"Come forth, Froslass," Ash spoke.
Froslass materialized on the battlefield, but for once she'd felt the severity of the upcoming battle and merely hovered in front of her precious trainer.
"A reasonable choice, young man," Lance commented.
Ash nodded to his opponent and then glanced to the sidelines towards Brock. Lance followed suit and raised a brow at the ex-Gym Leader. He got the impression that Brock was not pleased by this situation.
"This will be a 1 vs 1 pokémon battle between Acting Champion Lance Blackthorn, and Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town," Brock unhappily stated. "The battle will be over when one trainer's pokémon is defeated and neither trainer has the right to substitute. Furthermore, should I, the referee, demand an end to the battle, then the battle will be over. Are these terms accepted?"
Both Ash and Lance nodded once almost in unison.
"Then, battle begin!" Brock declared loudly.
"Dragonite, hold and defend, when necessary," Lance ordered firmly.
"Froslass be ready for a counter attack," Ash spoke. "Use Icy Wind then use Confuse Ray."
Froslass cried her name and then the field was suddenly covered in ice as the Icy Wind took hold. The power of the attack stunned Lance momentarily but overall, he wasn't worried. While it was powerful and held the type advantage over his Dragonite, he knew that his pokémon was resilient enough to take minimal damage from the ice type move. He saw the tell-tale signs of the Confuse Ray – internally thanking Agatha for revealing the signs of its use – and finally spoke. You'd have to strain to hear it since Froslass' move was so strong. One would think that someone had ordered her to use a powerful Blizzard attack.
"Dragonite, use your wings to clear the field then counter with Dragon Breath," Lance countered calmly.
And then … Dragonite moved.
Ash could only stare as with a single flap of his wings; the Icy Wind was blown away … literally.
That normally wouldn't have surprised Ash, but the follow-up Dragon Breath was performed so smoothly, so efficiently and so quickly that Ash didn't even have time to order a dodge. Thankfully, Froslass managed to get out of the main blast as it tore through her Confuse Ray, but she was severely hurt in the process. Ash stared at his pokémon and he just understood … as much as it pained him.
He was no match for Lance.
Just as he had been no match for Mr. Rocket.
Ash bit the inside of his cheek and tasted blood as the bar was raised.
He thought he was closing in on Mr. Rocket's strength, but Lance? No, he now knew that he was nowhere near their level … and if he wasn't even near their level, then how strong did he have to become to break through the pinnacle that he had previously thought he was close to reaching? No! He needed to break through the level he had limited himself to … he needed to make sure he was the best.
"I forfeit," Ash intoned as he returned a hurt and nearly fainted Froslass.
Brock gaped at Ash – never had he thought that Ash would ever forfeit a battle. Nevertheless, he was proud of the youth that he was overprotective of.
"This battle is over!" Brock declared, "The winner is Acting Champion, Lance Blackthorn."
Ash nodded to the man to let Lance know he was thankful, but left with a slightly frustrated air about his countenance. Brock followed after Ash and once he was alone, Lance frowned. He had given the son of his friend a glimpse … a mere taste of the power of the elite, but he felt bad for the boy. If the boy was to grow to equal his father, or Arceus forbid, become stronger than his father then this show of power had been necessary. It didn't mean he had to like beating the boy so soundly though.
A whine from his Dragonite saw Lance move to his dear partner to pet his head. However, upon arriving beside the impressive dragon type, he spotted why his Dragonite was whining and was left blinking dumbly.
For at the base of Dragonite's wing … was ice.
Normally that wouldn't be an issue, but he'd trained Dragonite to withstand more than a full powered Blizzard, but it was more than it seemed. Ash's Froslass hadn't reached its full potential, and yet, it actually hit his partner. Hit him enough to mark the base of his wing.
Lance smirked at the retreating aura user … he'd be watching him even more closely now – and not just because he was Red's son now. No, he was Ash Ketchum and he was going to be a force to be reckoned with once he grew into the true power that he could harness and wield.
"Ash, wait up," Brock called. "Don't be upset by your loss, Ash. You did your best and that's all you can do especially against a champion."
"You misunderstand, Brock," Ash returned – a thoughtful look on his face. "I'm not upset I lost, I mean yes in a way I am, but it's because I now see the level I need to reach … the level I need to not just defeat Mr. Rocket or Lance and his Elite Four … but the level I need to achieve to find out what happened to my father. There's more at play here than just a few trainers and their pokémon - I can sense it."
"Careful there, Ash," Brock warned. "That's the Pokémon League you're accusing of being involved in the disappearance of anyone, let alone a Regional Champion."
"Do not try to dissuade me Brock," Ash growled.
"I'm not!" Brock responded harshly. "I'm not saying the Pokémon League is all sunshine and rainbows Ash, I'm merely saying to be careful. Many people have gone up against them and have all failed. Make sure whatever it is that you're looking for is infallible. Make sure there's absolutely no way for them to argue against your points."
Ash blinked at the older boy as he huffed. "I'm sorry, Brock."
"No worries, Ash," Brock replied with a smile. "Do you have any leads?"
"Actually..." Ash spoke quietly. "I do."
Brock raised a brow to prompt Ash to continue.
Ash suddenly became serious as he whispered his answer, lest others could hear him. "Saffron City," he spoke. "Bill left a Last Will and Testament … and knowing Bill … he'd leave clues about his research and those that were helping or backing him."
"Then there's my need to improve and refine me and my pokémon team's training regime." Ash hummed.
"And why would that be necessary right now, Ash?" Brock questioned.
Ash turned to Brock with a small grin. "I may not be at their levels yet, but I can tell you one thing … Froslass' Icy Wind … grazed Lance's Dragonite. Call it luck if you want, but for a split second it felt like I could sense where everyone was … and the energy they were expending. That leaves me to conclude that my pokémon and I need to get stronger because I don't think they've reached their limits and I can honestly state that I don't think I've reached my potential either..."
Brock stared as Ash continued his walk to collect his belongings. 'If Ash can get stronger than he currently is … then what is the limit of his strength in the future?'
Brock shivered – sometimes it was best not to tempt fate by asking questions that were better left unanswered.
In Saffron City, a young woman snapped her eyes open and gasped for air. A large man burst into the room and shushed the young woman.
"Easy dear," the man soothed – brushing his hands through her lavender colored hair. "What's wrong, Sabrina?"
The now identified Sabrina gasped once more before levelling her glowing eyes on her father. "The anomaly … it's ... almost here … it's heading this way now! I can feel the nothingness from it and all I can see are those red eyes haunting my visions."
Sabrina's father stiffened and paled at the implications. "Do we have time to get you somewhere safe?"
"No, father," Sabrina shook her head to emphasize her point. "You don't understand … it's coming and I must be here to greet it..."
Sabrina's father exhaled sharply. "Very well … let's make preparations to welcome this anomaly..."
I am terribly sorry for the lateness of this update and the shortness of it. If you haven't read my status update explaining my absence then you are welcome to do so on my profile. I hope you enjoyed this update and I hope to update again soon.
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