Gem Dust

by

Melchior the Mewthree

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Chapter 1

The Mouse And The Fox

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Ash had been through strange situations before. He had participated in quests and adventures that few people even dreamed of having. He had saved the world so many times he lost count. He had faced odds that average fifteen-year-olds would piss themselves just to think about. He had been through all kinds of unusual situations and predicaments.

But his current situation sure beat the shitting hell out of every single one of them.

He had woken up in the middle of a desert. Red sand, jagged rocks and frail, dry and leafless bushes scampered all over his vision. Not to mention a blazing sun just over his head. At first he just lay there, taking on his surroundings, and trying to remember how he had gotten there. He found that he couldn't. He couldn't remember anything at all before he appeared there. He still had all of his memories, all of his life, except for the few hours (or where it days?) before the event of waking up there.

His first instinct was to seek for his friends and his pokemons. He moved his arms so to have a support to stand, when he saw something about them that made his blood turn to ice. He lost count of how long he stared at his arm, unable to believe it. Then, after moments of denial, his mind started to accept the truth.

He had fur.

His arm was completely covered in dark brown fur. Not only that, but his nails were now retractable claws. More out of curiosity than anything else, Ash looked over at his body. He saw his feet; paw like, with brown fur as well, and with three toes each. As he stood up, he also realized that he stood on those toes solely. He tried to make his now bigger feet stand the way a human would, but a sharp pain quickly convinced him otherwise.

He looked at his clothes. They were the clothes that he had been wearing throughout his whole journey through Hoenn, only that they looked more like rags than anything else. He felt his head, realizing that he had an only slightly muzzled face, with a wet nose, as well as long furry ears with curled tips. He had also lost his hat, which made him show a grim expression; he really liked his hat.

Last, but most definitely not least, he noticed he also had a tail: a long, thin and flexible tail, with the almost axe-like lightning bolt at its tip. The tail waved around on its own, and Ash found it rather hard to make it obey him at first. After taking the time to process all of this, Ash figured out that he had transformed into something else; something different and quite unique.

He was, plain and simple, a Raichu-hybrid.

Ash thought that was a dream. He pinched himself, hard, realizing only too late that his claws were really sharp, and they dug on his skin easily, releasing the red liquid within. Even through the pain, the sight of blood was rather comforting. It was red. Well, duh Ash, he thought sarcastically. What did you expect? Green?

Seeing as physical pain was not going to wake him up from that particular dream, Ash decided that the best thing he could do was to try to find someone or someplace, preferably civilized, on that wasteland. So, with at least a vague goal in mind, Ash set off on his strangest adventure yet.

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The manor's garden was vibrant, filled with the fragrance of flowers and grass. Beautiful trees outlined and crossed all of its extension, the afternoon sun casting an unreal light on it. And it was in the deepest part of that garden that a certain girl stood in front of a tombstone.

The Vulpix-hybrid wasn't like most of the others. She had the six curled tails, the fox-like ears and face, and the padded three-toed feet. But, differently from other hybrids of her specie, her fur was white as snow, which gradually darkened to blue at her feet, ears and tails. She was fifteen, and already showed great beauty, as well as white-golden hair and eyes green as leaves, that emanated an aura of youth and life, though right then they had a look of melancholy. She was wearing a white, flowing dress.

She used slim hands to place the bouquet of red roses that she carried on the tombstone. She joined her hands, closed her eyes, and prayed with a soft voice.

"May the Gods protect your spirit, and may you rest in peace."

"Cassandra!" came a female voice from far behind.

Cassandra opened her leafy eyes and turned around to meet the running form of her sister. She was like average Vulpix-hybrids, with the red fur, as well as red hair and brown eyes. She was a foot shorter and three years younger than Cassandra, and her personality was one to match.

"Cassandra, papa was looking all over for you!" she told her, stopping to catch her breath. She probably went through the whole house trying to find her, Cassandra mused. "He said you're going to be late!"

"Tell him not to worry, Krina," Cassandra said. "I'll be there in just a minute."

Krina was about to turn when she spotted the tombstone. "Oh yes. It's her anniversary, isn't it?"

Cassandra eyed the stone with the same slight sadness. "Yes. It makes ten years today."

"I'm sure papa will come see her soon. He's not one to forget this."

"He never did."

The two sisters stood there for another moment, then, without a word, Krina returned to the house. Cassandra watched her go, then looked at the grave once more. Then, for some reason, she had a strange feeling; one that she could not place. She looked at the orange afternoon sky, as if trying to find an answer. She shrugged it off soon enough. She had no time for that.

She turned to the large house and started walking, but the feeling did not leave her, and she thought it wouldn't so soon.

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The moon shone brightly among the countless stars, more visible now than in any other time of Ash's life.

He was lying on his back at the sand, his head rested on his hands and his tail waving around lazily beside him. He had actually grown quite used to his new 'self', and mused on what he was truly capable of. If he was half-pokemon, he probably had pokemon powers as well.

For a moment Ash almost stood up to test his theory, but he didn't. The sand felt comfortable in his feet, or hind-paws if you prefer, and stargazing was one of his favorite sports after pokemon training. Even in the deepest wildernesses Ash had been he had never seen the stars with such clarity. He could actually pinpoint the Milky Way in there. Ash only frowned to the fact that none of his favorite constellations were there.

Ash stood up abruptly. None of the constellations he knew were there! In fact, that whole sky was completely alien to Ash. Alien. Could that be... another world? Considering what already happened to him, he wasn't in any place to dismiss that possibility. But Ash didn't want possibilities. He wanted answers. He wanted to remember what happened before he ended up in that place, wherever or whatever it was.

The black-haired teen sighed heavily and lay back down. Another world, huh? Had he been sent there with his pokemon and friends instead of a fur coat and a tail, he might have enjoyed the whole thing. Now, he just wanted to go home.

It was about then that Ash's eyes caught something flying in the sky, approaching his spot from the west, where the sun had set. It was too far for him to see clearly, but it seemed to be big, and avian. A Pidgeot! he thought. It might help me get out of this dump! I just hope it's not wild and run away instead of helping me.

But, how was he going to get its attention? There was nothing around to make a fire with, only sand and rocks. The whole place was a useless wasteland! And the Pidgeot was almost on top of where he was! Ash was so frustrated that he started kicking sand and calling out all kinds of names a fifteen-year-old shouldn't call, until he noticed some sort of flashing in the corners of his eyes, as well as a faint scent of ozone. His cheeks! Electricity! He could use his powers to signal it!

Ash started focusing in his cheek-sacks. It was almost instinctive, though he had to work around it a little to get the things to really produce enough power. He raised his right-hand to the sky, focused his power in it and, when it really started to power up, the fur in his arms raising with static and small, bright bolts traveling through his fingers...

"Raiii... CHUUUU!!!"

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Cassandra had a big smile in her face as she watched the starred sky above her, feeling the wind ruffling her fur and her tails as she rode her Archeot through the desert. She had arrived at the site much early, despite her father's preoccupations, and had a lot of time before reaching the city. For now, she only wanted to savor the clear air in her lungs and to watch the night sky.

"Eot!" her ride cawed beneath her, breaking her from her spell.

She looked down at its head. "What is it, Breven?" she asked it, but the huge lightning bolt traveling towards the sky at some distance from them was all the answer she needed. "Holy mother! What was that? Quick, Breven, let's check!" The Archeot looked at her with a hesitant look. "Don't worry, Breven. I'm sure it's safe," she told him. He nodded his feathery head, and changed his route towards the source of the bolt.

She wasn't truly sure it was safe, and she normally would never expose herself that much. But her instincts told her that she had to go there. And she always trusted her instincts.

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Ash was fighting back tears of pain as he looked at his smoking, charred hand. He had no idea he was that powerful. If he could only use that power without killing himself in the process...

The flutter of wings. Ash snapped his head up, and realized that the Pidgeot had started to come for him. Success! he cried in his mind. But it was still far, too far for him to normally hear it, but it was probably the Raichu's sensitive hearing.

As it came closer, Ash realized it wasn't a Pidgeot, at least not totally. It was a griphon-like mix between a Pidgeot and an Arcanine, with the head, wings and front legs avian, while the hind legs and the tail were canine. Ash was so mesmerized by the creature, seeing that his 'other world' theory was even more possible now than before, that he didn't even notice the rider stepping out of it.

When Ash really saw her close to him, he gasped, involuntarily taking a step back. It was a half-human, half-Vulpix girl, about his age, if not slightly older, with the slightly muzzled face, paw-like feet, and everything in between. What really caught his attention was the fact that her fur was white, a darker blue in her feet as well as the tips of her tails, instead of the dark red Vulpixes usually had. Even though she wasn't like any other girl Ash had seen so far, he found her quite beautiful, the animal characteristics giving her a slight cuteness.

"Um, excuse me?" she asked him, snapping her fingers a few times in front of his face.

Ash blinked once, twice, then realized he was staring and blushed. "Oh... ah, sorry."

She tilted her head to the side, examining him. Ash found it rather uncomfortable, blushing even more, though he didn't know if she could see it through his fur.

She giggled softly. "You're cute when you blush, you knew that?"

She could see it. Damn. Ash felt even hotter.

"Though I've never seen a half-Raichu before." She looked closely at his face. "Where are you from, anyway?"

Ash didn't know what to tell her. She'd probably think he was crazy if he said he was from another world. Who wouldn't? But, what could he say? Might as well say the truth. "I'm from Pallet Town. You?"

Her ears flicked at the sound of his hometown, her face one of puzzlement. "Pallet? I've never heard of a Pallet before," She placed a finger in her lips, trying to remember of any Pallet she might have heard of before.

It wasn't like Ash expected any other answer from her. He sighed. "Well?"

"Huh?" she said, abruptly cutting herself from her thoughts. "Oh, right! I'm from the city of Equinocius. My name is Cassandra. Cassandra Theilior."

Equinocius? Interesting name for a city. Ash was curious about it, but decided to leave that for later. "My name is Ash. Ash Ketchum." He raised his hand to shake hers, but then saw the burns all over it, as well as realizing the throbbing pain once more. He frowned at it, feeling even more embarrassed, if that was even possible.

She gasped at the sight of his wounded hand. "Oh, Gods, look at your hand! You wait right here!" she said, running to her Archeot.

"Hey, wait..." Ash began, thinking she was leaving him. But all she did was reach for her bag, which Ash hadn't noticed before, wrapped around the pokemon's neck. He was still marveled by the uncommon specie. He could only imagine what Prof. Oak would say if he ever saw it. Then he wondered what he'd say if he saw Ash. The old man would probably have a heart attack.

She returned with a green glass bottle in her hand. "Now, show me your hand." Ash obeyed, raising his arm. She opened the bottle and put some creamy liquid in her other hand. She placed the bottle on the sand, rubbed her hands together, and then rubbed against Ash's. He winced. "Now, I know it stings." she said, rubbing more gently, "But you'll be thanking me later."

A sudden wind started picking up, ruffling their clothes. Ash looked at Cassandra, noticing how her hair looked more like tendrils of pure light than actual hair. He saw that they were not exactly blond, but a mix of blond and a bluish-white. In the moonlight, it was simply too beautiful.

Cassandra noticed him staring at her again. It was her time to blush. "Um... you're staring at me again." she told him.

Ash, never the brightest bulb in the box, blinked another few times before realizing it himself. Embarrassment started to become the usual feeling of the night for him. "Oh, eh... sorry... again."

She giggled. Her laugh was also another thing that caught Ash's attention. It was like the sound of tiny twinkling bells. Her tails waved around as she worked, and Ash decided to look at them to distract him from her touch. It was amazing to see that each one of them moved in a different way, two never in the same position. It was like each one had a mind of its own. He became faintly aware that his own tail was moving as well, though a little too excitedly.

"There!" she told him. He looked at his hand. It actually didn't seem that bad anymore, though they still throbbed, especially when he moved his fingers.

"Thanks."

"Now, that was nothing. I was passing by here anyway, so why not help someone in need once in a while?" she tells him cheerfully. "What are you doing in the middle of the desert anyway?"

"I'm... lost."

"Really? Where are you going to them?"

Ash couldn't answer that question. He knew nothing and no one around that place. What was he going to tell her? Wait, didn't she say... "Equinocius."

She looked surprised. "Oh, really? Well, then, lets go. I'll give you a ride."

Ash politely accepted. He wasn't going to spend a single other minute in that desolate place, plus he was starving. He couldn't wait to get some food. He wondered what kind of food this place had.

Ash felt a great exhilaration building inside him as he hoped up the canine bird. He loved flying on the back of pokemons. He had done so few times, and all of them were amazing. But, this time, as he tried to balance himself in the back of the Archeot, something was in the way. It was Cassandra's tails. "Um... excuse me, but... um, your tails?"

She looked back puzzled. "Huh?" Then she saw how he had little space in her mount. "Oh, sorry." she said, parting her tails sideways, three to each side.

Ash now had more space, but he felt himself redden due to him brushing against her tails.

"Now, hold on tight." she told him.

He looked around, then asked, "Um... where?"

"In my waist, or else you'll fall of in the take off."

Ash was a ripe tomato now. Her waist? She wanted him to grip her waist? He wondered what would May say right now if she saw him. But, as she wasn't there, he might as well enjoy it a little. Just a little. He hesitantly put his hands in her waist. His right one still stung, though it was now seeming like it was loosing feeling. He was slightly concerned about that. Had he burnt some nerves or something?

Cassandra, on the other hand, was blushing as well. For some reason, having him hold her like that felt good. She had found him quite attractive. And he looked so cute when he blushed like he did. That probably meant he wasn't much used to deal with women. He was probably still rather innocent in these matters. But, of course, that could be just her imagination going wild, like it usually did.

"Breven, lets go! We can still make good time!"

"Eot!" the pokemon cawed, and for a moment Ash though he understood it saying something like 'Right!'. It was probably just his imagination.

Breven took off into the night sky. It was really fast, and for a moment Ash squeezed his hands on the girl's waist harder, making her jump slightly. He eased his grip afterwards, more out of embarrassment than anything else.

They flew towards the west, where Ash had been going, the Archeot and its occupants soon nothing but a single dot in the desert sky.

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Khanaah stood within the translucent room, its walls, floor, windows and doors made of glass and gems. The light was filtered from the outside, giving it a magic atmosphere.

She was clad in long, black robes that hid most of her figure, her light purple muzzled face only partly seen through the hood. Her eyes were a glowing silver as they surveyed the object sitting in a pedestal in front of her. It was an ebony stone, so dark that none of the light that lit the room could lighten it. The stone actually seemed to absorb the beams around it.

The doors behind her opened, and another creature entered the crystal room, his steps muffled by padded feet. He had black and gray fur covering all of his body; his hands had sharp, long, curved claws, and his face was wolf-like. He had red eyes that seemed to be in a constant glare, and was dressed in black robes as well. A Mightyena-hybrid.

"The Lord has asked the results of your surveillance," he told her in a growl-like deep voice.

She didn't turn, and remained silent for a moment. Then she said, "Tell him that the child has arrived."

"Very well," he said. "Anything else?"

She seemed to ponder about it, then, "No."

He nodded. "The Lord also said he wishes to see you later today." He turned and headed towards the doors. "Make sure you'll be there."

The doors closed with a loud clunk, and Khanaah was left alone with the stone once more. She focused on it again, and then reached out to touch it. It felt smooth and cold, and something flashed in her mind and she did so. A name.

"Ash."

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