Intro: Hi everyone! This is my first entry in an ongoing story. Please read and review it: that way I can improve the series along the way. I hope you guys enjoy it and the next part will be coming soon. Also, let it be known that I do not own Pokemon or it's characters. Just gonna throw that out there.

This story is rated M for extreme violence, gore, mature themes, sexual situations, dark elements...basically everything that makes an M rated story worth reading!

Hybrids: First Iteration

Strand 1: Infection

It was unbelievably hot outside. The sun was out, beating down on anyone unlucky enough to be stuck outdoors, and the air was humid and muggy. The uncomfortable warmth clung to the air like a thick fog. Even the air conditioning inside the local Pokecenter did little to cool down the midday heat.

Ash Ketchum lazily spun a pokeball around on his finger. He was sprawled out on a blue sofa in the lobby of the conveniently located Pokecenter, one leg hanging off the edge of the cushions. His green jacket and hat were lying on the ground in a heap next to his shoes. He groaned and wiped the sweat off his forehead. The warmth was really starting to get to him. He shifted roughly and tugged at his pants. "This heat is bogus." He announced. "I'm sweating like crazy and it's making my balls stick to my legs."

Across the room, a redheaded girl sat up in the chair she was in. She had been fanning herself with a yellow leaflet, but stopped when Ash spoke up. She twisted up her face and stuck out her tongue. "Gee, thanks Ash. I really needed to know that." Ash, no longer a stranger to the concept of sarcasm, rolled his eyes and continued readjusting himself. The girl sighed and looked away. "But you do have a point. This heat is insufferable."

"What are you complaining about Misty?" Ash asked. "I'm the one in a black t-shirt. You're hardly wearing anything at all." He nodded to her choice of apparel: small cut-off shorts and her usual yellow midriff shirt with suspenders to keep everything in place. She blushed, but only for a second.

"You know, you're probably the only guy who would complain about that." She glared at him and her voice was a growl. "Besides, you're the genius who was so eager to accept Professor Oak's invitation that you couldn't wait until summer was over. You only have yourself to blame, idiot."

"Oh, like it's taking that long." He reached down into his crumpled-up jacket and produced two small badges. "It's only been nine days and I already have the Whirlwind Badge and the Tidal Badge. That only leaves 5 more gym leaders to beat and the Violet Isle League is complete. And with Oak's trainee pokemon, no less." He grinned smugly. "I bet it only takes me another two weeks at the most."

"I know. I was there when you won those badges." Misty said indignantly. She wanted to try and belittle his accomplishment to knock him down a peg or two, but she couldn't do it. He had truly earned them, after all. The headstrong boy had finally learned some strategy to fighting. I guess some things do change. She thought to herself. She pushed the thought away roughly. Some things do change, but most things stay the same. "But you are denser than I thought if you think you can do it in two weeks. If you're making such stupendous time, why are we wasting the whole day in this Pokecenter?"

Ash was about to speak up, when there was a loud ruffling of papers. Both teens turned to the third occupied chair to witness Brock putting down the newspaper he was holding. Sweat was beaded on his face and he did not look happy. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed audibly. "I swear…you two don't ever quit, do you? I was hoping spending time apart during the Hoenn and Battle Frontier leagues would give you guys time to mature, but noooooo." Brock shook his head. Even though they were both seventeen now, they didn't act any different from when they were twelve. There may have been a few physical changes between them-the appearance of curves on Misty and muscles on Ash-but they were still kids at heart. "Listen, it's hot and sticky and all-around miserable and the last thing I want to do is hear you two argue and fight." He picked up his paper and went back to reading.

"Aww, come on Brocko." Ash smiled at him. "We're just letting off some steam. Right, Misty?" He asked, turning his head. She gave him a look that said, simply, that she was not. Ash gulped and went back to looking at Brock. He squinted and read the cover of the newspaper. "Astonishing Pokemon News?" Ash said incredulously. "Are you kidding me? You read that shit?"

"Hey!" Brock yelled at him. "Language!" He nodded in the direction of two young trainers who were handing their pokemon over for healing. Ash smiled sheepishly and Brock sighed. He wasn't sure when it happened, but Ash had developed a habit of swearing. He probably thought it made him seem older, but it usually had the opposite effect. "And just because you've learned some new vocabulary doesn't mean you need to flaunt it."

"Oh, haha." Ash muttered. "A lesson in maturity from the guy reading tabloids." He laid back down and went back to spinning the empty pokeball on his finger. "What are you reading about anyway? Are aliens stealing trainers' Miltanks? Maybe it's a report on a new pokemon that's 6 feet tall, hairy, and has a large zipper on it's back." He instinctively went for his pocket to pull out some treats for Pikachu, then stopped when he remembered his empty shoulder. Oh yeah…

"Humorous." Brock said, not looking up. "Actually, it's a story about some recent sightings in the Violet Isle region. Pretty close to where we are, actually. Apparently, some hikers have claimed to have seen a half man-half pokemon in the woods."

"Oh, this I have to see!" Misty exclaimed, getting up from her chair. She walked over behind Brock and read over his shoulder. Ash rolled his eyes, but got up and walked over next to Misty anyway.

"Does it happen to mention on the sobriety of these hikers?" Ash asked, looking at the photo. "Oh, come on! You can even tell how badly it's been edited. You can practically see the airbrushing." He pointed to the picture. Misty punched his arm and Ash winced.

"Jesus!" He seethed through his teeth. "What the fuck was that for?"

"Language!" Brock said, his voice a little tenser.

"Let Brock have his fun." Misty scolded the other boy. "He doesn't ruin your hobbies, does he? Hell, he even agreed to come along with you while you complete Oak's challenge."

"Yeah, I know. So did you. Although, I vaguely remember you both having alternate reasons for joining me." He looked skyward innocently. "Something about a great Pokemon breeding library for Brock and I think you mentioned something about getting a tan and meeting some hot guys."

"I could be at that library right now." Brock mumbled. "Instead of listening to you two go on like third-graders at recess."

"And I should be at the beaches." Misty complained. "I could be meeting cute guys, instead of being stuck here. No offense Brock, but you two don't exactly fit the criteria for being 'hot'." She was lying, but then again, she was good at it.

" 'No offense, Brock?' " Ash asked. "What about me?"

"Well, I wanted to offend you." She gave him the same smug grin he had given her earlier. Ash narrowed his eyes.

"Well, you're not exactly a shining example of your gender either." Ash replied. He was also becoming quite adept at lying. "If you really want to get a tan, there's a nice bright sun out there. It might do you some good; I don't think many 'cute guys' are going to go for you with your pasty white complexion."

"Oh, that's it." Misty said and she slugged Ash on the arm again. Ash was expecting it that time, and showed no sign of pain. She punched him twice more and Ash's resolve started to falter. Thankfully, Brock stepped in by reaching behind him and grabbing the redhead's arm.

"Okay, enough with the domestic abuse already Misty." He said, his eyes still on the article. "I don't want to have to put you guys in a time-out." Ash and Misty gave each other one last death stare, and then went back to the paper. Misty was the first to break the awkward silence.

"It looks like they merged his picture with a Charmander." She said. "They even included a tail there."

"Actually, it's a Charmeleon." Ash said, pointing to the photo. "See the bump on the back of head? It resembles the…uh…the…" His voice faded away as Misty glared at him. She did not like being corrected. He coughed to clear his throat.

"Regardless of what he is, he sure is ugly." Misty said. "I can't imagine ever being able to stand being around someone who looks like that." She stuck her tongue out in disapproval. "What a freak."

"Gee, how compassionate." Ash said. "You truly are a humanitarian, Mist." She went red and glared at him.

"Whatever!" She pouted. "It doesn't matter, cause he, I mean IT, doesn't even exist. You said it yourself." She walked off in a huff and plopped down on her chair, her arms crossed. Ash winced as if he had received another one of Misty's punches. She really took that one personally. Ash hated it when he said the wrong thing. There were always touchy areas that they tried to stay away from when they fought, but once in a while, one of them managed to hit a nerve. Admittedly, he did it more often then she did. They always forgave each other soon enough, but there was awkwardness for a while after.

Brock glared up at Ash, ready to admonish him, but thought better of it. Something about Ash's face made it clear he already felt bad. Instead, he buried his face back into the newspaper. Ash scratched the back of his head, trying to come up with the right words to say.

"Look Misty, all I meant was…" He trailed off when she turned away from him rigidly. Ash hung his head. No amount of fast-talking was going to get him out of this one. "Sorry." He said eventually, his voice barely above a whisper. Misty didn't move for a moment, then sighed and slouched down. Ash let out a deep breath. She still wasn't looking at him, but he knew that body language. It meant she wasn't going to hold a grudge.

"I think I'm going to take a nap." She said eventually. "We're not going anywhere until tomorrow anyway." The finiteness to her words left no room for argument. Ash wasn't going to fight her on this anyway. She got up and walked toward the hostel room they had rented for the evening, closing the door behind her. Ash watched the door for a few minutes, then sat back down on his couch and ran a hand through his black hair.

"Smooth." Brock said eventually.

"Yeah, I know." Ash grumbled. He picked up his hat and started to fan himself with the brim. It felt like it was getting even hotter.

Several miles away in an abandoned hospital, three scientists were busily scurrying around a small laboratory. They were carrying tubes of blood and bone marrow from station to station, performing tests and muttering to themselves. The dim light was not ideal conditions for work, but they weren't given much else for illumination and they couldn't give up the time it would take to find more light sources.

When the sliding door opened, the men nearly dropped the tubes they were holding on to. There was something about the boss's appearance that made the hairs on their neck stand on end. The tall man walked into the room from the shadowy hallway, smoke rising from the cigar he was smoking.

"Progress report." He said simply. His voice was rough and commanding. The men looked at each other nervously.

"W-well, sir…" One of them stammered, staring at the linoleum floor. "You see, we did what we could with the limited time you gave us…and…"

"Is it finished?" The boss interrupted the scientist.

The man sighed and held up a vial. "Yes. But it is only a prototype. We haven't had a chance to properly test it."

"That's not your job. Your job was to develop it. I'll handle the testing." The boss walked over and pulled the tube from the man's hands. "In fact, now that I know the serum is complete, I can send out for the test subject right now."

"I can't believe someone would volunteer for this kind of thing." Another scientist muttered out loud. The malicious grin that spread across the boss's face made him wish he never spoke up.

"Who ever said anything about it being voluntary?"

Ash stared at the white ceiling long into the night. He couldn't sleep at all. Too many thoughts were rotating through his mind. Not the least of which was the girl sleeping on the bunk beneath him. Misty hadn't so much as spoke to him since earlier that day and Ash hated getting the silent treatment. It wouldn't be so bad if she wasn't just a few feet below him. He almost wished he could switch with Brock, who claimed the separate bed on the other side of the room. But both he and Misty were out cold. He was just going to suck it up and deal.

It felt weird not having Pikachu by his side. He had left his friend behind at home to help his mom was certain chores, since it was Professor Oak's wish that Ash complete this league with just the six training Pokemon he lent him. Ash was never one to back down form a challenge, but was beginning to wish the he could have argued to being along his yellow companion for company. He had Misty and Brock, of course, but at times like this, neither one would suffice. Brock would tell him his guilty conscious was his own fault and Misty…well, she was the problem.

Ash rolled over and began to contemplate his strategy for the next gym in order to get his mind off things. Let's see…Nurse Joy had said that Gym Leader Trevor liked using fire Pokemon, especially Magmar, so it would be a good time to give Poliwhirl a chance to shine. Geodude might even get a chance to evolve into…

There was an audible crash and Ash sat up straight. He looked over to the doorway. It had come from the lobby. He quickly, yet quietly, crawled out of bed and climbed down the ladder to the ground. Misty and Brock were still sound asleep. Ash would just have to check this out himself. He pulled his pants and t-shirt on and tiptoed to door. Slowly creaking it open, he slipped out into the main lobby, closing the door behind him.

Ash looked over to the counter and saw Nurse Joy was sitting in her chair, head slumped over onto the desk. Her arms hung limply at her side and her back was rising and falling slowly. Ash grinned. Joy had just fallen asleep. The bang must have been from her head hitting the counter. She was probably dead tired.

Ash's smile slowly disappeared as he noticed that something was sticking out of the back of her neck. Sensing something was wrong, Ash silently made his way to the side of Joy's desk. As he got closer to her, he realized the object that was embedded in her neck was a dart. Ash carefully pulled the sharp instrument out of her neck. He stared at it in awe and confusion.

Now what the hell is this about? Ash thought to himself. He twirled it in his fingers a few times, and then sniffed the tip of the needle. Just as he thought: sleeping powder. Probably from a Butterfree, but it could be Vileplume as well. As he began to piece together what was going on, Ash slowly slunk down and pressed his back against the desk. Something bad was going down. He looked back to the door he came from. He needed to wake Brock and Misty. Then they could-

His thoughts came to a screeching halt when he heard a door open on the other side of the desk. Sweat began to bead down his forehead as he struggled to be as quiet as possible. He heard three sets of footsteps and voices whispering. He slowly inched over toward the edge of the desk so he could eavesdrop.

"…not in this room either." Said a man's voice.

"That only leaves two more guest rooms." A female's voice spoke up. "Let's get to work and finish this mission before someone gets suspicious."

Ash mustered up some courage and peered out from around his wooden hiding spot. He only caught a glimpse of the three intruders, but that was all he needed. Black suits, black caps, and a big red "R" on their chests. Ash's face contorted into a scowl. Team Rocket. Wonderful. Ash reached to his belt. The footsteps were moving again. The next room in their path was his, and he was not going to let these two-bit crooks get the jump on his sleeping companions. Gingerly and swiftly, Ash removed a small Pokeball from his belt and let it enlarge in his hands.

"Surprise, assholes!" Ash yelled, rolling out from his position right in front of them. The members each let out a stifled cry of shock. Ash held the Pokeball out and a red beam shot from the front onto the ground in front of him. The red light took the form of a round bug with antennae and then turned into a real creature. The purple ball of fur stared at the Team Rocket members with its large red bug eyes. "Venonat! Supersonic!" Ash commanded, putting his hands to his ears. The Pokemon nodded, then opened it's small mouth wide enough to emit a piercing screech into the air. The Rockets put their fingers in their ears and groaned in pain. Ash smiled victoriously, but it didn't stay long. The nearest member drew his foot back and kicked Venonat away, sending the light bug half way across the lobby. It's screech ended, turning into a high-pitched wail of pain. Ash suddenly wished he had his own Pokemon with him. His current roster just wasn't battle-hardened enough. Ash got to his feet and ran over to his fallen partner. Venonat pushed itself onto its feet, but swayed dizzily.

Ash looked back at the Rockets, and saw them reach for their belts. Ash waited for the Pokeballs to come out, but was instead shocked to see them pull guns from the holsters at their sides. They lifted the weapons up and aimed them at the boy. Ash's eyes went wide.

"Shit!" Ash exclaimed, picked up the wobbling Venonat and dove behind the nearest couch. There were muffled gunshots, followed by a hail of darts crashing into the back wall. Ash took a few deep breaths. Guns! Freaking guns! This wasn't right…none of this smelled right at all. "Venonat, I need you to stun spore those guys over there." Ash said. The bug chirped in reply, so Ash lifted him up above the couch top. There was another round of shots and Ash quickly brought Venonat back down. The poor bug had three darts lodged in it's body.

"Venonat!" Ash shook it several times. "Are you all right?" The bug snored in response. Ash cursed and returned him to his Pokeball. He grabbed another from his belt. He got an idea and chucked the sphere into the air. The Rockets fired more darts at the flying object, but the projectiles just bounced off. When the Pokeball hit the ground, a red beam shot out and formed into the waiting Bulbasaur.

"Bulbasaur!" Ash yelled frantically from behind the sofa. "Leech Seed! Vine Whip! Acid! ANYTHING!"

"Bulba!" The reptile cried and let loose a blast of spores into the air from the bulb on it's back.

"Don't breath it in!" The female Rocket hissed. "It's leech seed!" She quickly loaded another dart into her gun.

"Move Bulbasaur!" Ash yelled. The spry Pokemon realized what was happening and began to run around frantically.

"Hold still, damn you!" The female said under her breath. She took aim and fired, but the dart hit the rug next to the darting creature.

"Good job! Now try to vine whip!" Ash called. Bulbasaur obediently and slung it's vines out and wrapped around the female Rocket's arms. With a sharp tug, the Pokemon chucked the woman into the Pokecenter's front door with a loud smack. She fell to the ground in pain. "All right! Now the other two! Go for the guns!"

But it was too late. The other two got time to refill their guns and with the ineffective leech seed cloud gone, and they fired at the Pokemon. Bulbasaur started to run, but one dart caught him in his hind leg and another in the base of his bulb. The reptile screamed in pain, then slumped to the ground, unconscious. There was a beam of light and the Pokemon returned to its dormant Pokeball. Ash quickly reached back down to his belt. Now what? Wait…Geodude! The darts would easily bounce off his rock body! Ash went for the furthest ball when he heard a heart-wrenching sound: the door to his room opening.

"What the HELL is going on out here?" Misty grumbled, rubbing her eyes. She was standing in the doorway in her white nightgown. "I swear to God, Ash, if you're practicing your battle techniques at this ungodly hour, I will…" Her voice trailed off as she opened her eyes and saw the two male Team Rocket members standing there, holding their guns. She let out a loud scream of terror as the two members lifted their guns and aimed at her.

"No!" Ash yelled jumping up from behind the couch. He vaulted over the furniture and charged the remaining Rocket members. They swiveled around in time to see Ash crash into the nearest member, sending him tumbling to the ground. Ash went with him, landing on top of his opponent roughly. Ash reached for the man's weapon when he felt a bee-sting at the top of his spine. He reached behind his neck and felt the small dart lodged there. The grogginess began to take effect, and he couldn't even react when the man he was on top of brought his gun hilt around and smashed it into the side of Ash's face. There was pain, but it felt distant. Ash fell off the man and landed on the ground, blood oozing down over his left eye. There was a gunshot and a second dart tip entered Ash's chest. He was vaguely aware of Misty screaming his name. He tilted his head to the side slightly to watch Misty rush out toward him, then double back into the room as the two men chased after her while reloading their guns. Two more shots, faint and barely audible. Things were going black and Ash struggled to stay awake. He reached out toward the door as best he could before he was rolled onto his back. He saw the female rocket standing above him, wearing an expression of anger. She lifted her foot and brought it down on the boy's face. The pain was too far away to notice, but the last thing he remembered was the sickening crunch.

Jarring pain slowly brought Ash back to consciousness. He groaned out loud as he tried to move. His body felt like it was on fire and his head was throbbing. He was still feeling groggy from the sleeping powder and everything was blurry. Slowly, the boy reached around for the dart and yanked it out of his neck. He tossed it to the ground roughly and checked his torso. The dart that had hit his chest was already gone.

His eyes finally started to focus on his surroundings and he could tell he was in a jail cell. The walls and ground were a drab gray concrete. He managed to sit up and take a look around. He immediately regretted it as the movements of his head sent searing pain through his body. All the pain from earlier was hitting him now and it was worse than anything he could ever remember feeling. He reached up to his head and felt stitches across the area where he was hit by the gun. I'm stitched up… He mused. At least I have hospitable captors. He brought his hand lightly down to his nose. There was a brace across the bridge and it hurt to touch. He realized the boot to the face must have broken it and the brace was helping to fix it. He winced as he finished examining his wounds. Note to self…diving headfirst into a group of armed enemies is not a proper battle technique.

His mind snapped into place when he recalled why he implemented such a flawed tactic. Misty! Brock! Ash turned around quickly, ignoring the pain, as he looked for his friends. He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Misty lying on the ground and Brock leaning against a wall corner. Both were still unconscious. Ash slowly moved over to Misty's dormant body. There was a dart lodged in her neck in a similar manner to that of Nurse Joy. Her face was screwed up in a look of pain and Ash immediately felt sorry for her.

He sat down next to her and slowly lifted her head and laid it down in his lap. With careful precision, he removed the dart from her neck. She moaned in pain as the needle left her skin. Ash quickly began to stroke her hair, trying to calm her down. Her whimpering became quieter and quieter until it was gone completely. Ash was pleased to see the hint of a smile forming on her lips.

He looked back over at Brock. He didn't see any visible darts, but the man was certainly out cold. He didn't seem to be in pain though, which was good news. He concentrated on running his fingers through Misty's hair to keep her calm. The back of his mind was running furiously, trying to devise where they were and how they were going to get out of here. Ash's left hand brushed by his belt, but realized his Pokeballs were gone.

"Dammit." He grumbled. He looked past the bars of their cell, but it was just empty hallway in two directions. Nothing but cement walls either way. There was no indication of where they could be. His gaze shifted to the bars themselves. They were slightly rusted in some areas. Maybe if Brock and I worked together we could break through the rusted areas. Ash looked back at his companion and wondered if he should wake him up.

"…Ash…" He heard a little groan from his lap. Ash looked down to see Misty squirming around. Her eyes were still closed, but she looked scared. "No…Ash…please leave him alone…" She mumbled, grasping at thin air.

"Hey, hey." Ash gently shook her shoulders. "Wake up, Mist. You're having a nightmare. It's me. Ash."

Misty's eyes flickered open as Ash's shakes brought her out of her deep sleep. "A-Ash?" She asked. "What…what's going on? Where…" She groaned as throbbing pain hit her head. Ash immediately went back to stroking her hair and Misty was surprised how much it helped calm her down. She laid her head back down and realized she was lying in Ash's lap. Her face went crimson, but she hid it by turning to face his body. As if just remembering something, she slowly reached up to her neck.

"I already took care of it." Ash said simply. He caught her blush, but decided not to think much of it. "I don't know where we are, just that we're in a jail cell of some sort. Brock is sleeping in the corner."

"Is Team Rocket really behind this?" She asked after a few seconds.

"I don't know. It sure seems that way, but they fought with guns, not Pokemon. A very non-Rocket maneuver, if you ask me. But frankly, I'm less interested in who they are than what they want."



"Will you…will you tell me everything's going to be all right?"

"Yeah. Things…everything's going to be all right." Ash said, still running his hand across her head. He only wished he could believe it for himself. He sighed and closed his eyes. "Well, as long as they stick together, we can handle anything that comes our way."

"Ironic, then, that we've come to break you up." Came a snearing voice from outside the cell. Ash looked up immediately and Misty rolled around. A man and a woman were standing outside of the cell door. They were two of three members from the attack on the Pokecenter.

"You two!" Ash growled.

"How's the nose?" The girl asked with a smirk.

"Peachy. How's the headache?" Ash retorted. His eyes scanned the duo. "Where's your friend?"

"In intensive care." The man said angrily. "With a broken arm and three shattered ribs."

"He deserved it." Brock said from behind them. Ash craned his neck around to see the man sitting in the corner, glaring back at the two Rockets. He wondered how long he had been awake. "I only regret not being able to share the experience with you."

"Well, don't get any ideas." The woman said. "We're only here for the kid." She pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the cell door. "Don't be idiots. Make this easy on yourself."

"Ash?" Misty asked weakly as Ash slowly set her head on the ground and stood up. He still felt awful and the sudden rise in elevation caused him to become light-headed.

"Fine. You want me? You'll have to fight me."

"I tried to warn you." The woman sighed. She pulled a small red rod from her belt and held it out. The man did likewise and they opened the door and marched inside. Ash immediately ran at the woman, taking a swing with his fist. The drugs were still coursing through his veins and his punch was far off. The woman pressed the red rod to Ash's side.

Volts of electricity shot through Ash's body, setting his nerves on fire. Ash screamed and fell down from sheer shock. He quickly grasped his side and groaned. Misty shouted his name and began to crawl closer to him. "Well, what do you think? Stings like a Voltorb, huh?" The woman grinned. "It's just one of the new advances Team Rocket is making. I'm sure you'd love to see it in action more, huh?" She kicked Ash's stomach and he coughed up some blood onto the gray floor. "Give up? Or do you still want to play the her-ow!" The female rocket yelled out and Misty dug her nails into the woman's leg.

"Leave him alone!" She screamed and began to scratch the Rocket's leg as much as possible. The woman howled out and struck down with the rod, hitting Misty's forehead roughly. The blow was enough to send the girl to the ground, but the accompanying shock left a burn mark as well as a bruise.

"Stupid bitch!" The Rocket seethed. She lifted the rod again, but Brock collided with her from the side. He grabbed her hand and squeezed hard until she dropped the rod. He used his other hand to grab her by the neck and slam her against the bars.

"You made a big mistake." He hissed. The man came at Brock from behind, but Brock let go of the woman's wrist and drove his elbow back into the man's gut roughly. He grabbed a fistful of the man's suit and swung him around into the bars as well. He moved his hand up to the man's throat and held both Rockets there, gasping for air. "I think I owe you each a broken arm and few shattered ribs."

Suddenly, Brock let them both go and grabbed the sides of his head. He screamed and dropped to the ground, clutching his head as if it would explode. The two Rockets looked at each other, then turned around. Walking up to the jail cell was a tall man in a long-sleeved black dress suit that stood out against his pale skin. He had slicked back black hair and a simple smile that had no happiness. Both hands were held behind his back and his stride was both practiced and militaristic.

"Captain Avarice!" The two Rocket's saluted sharply.

"At ease." The man said simply. "I came down here because I assumed these three might give you trouble." He smiled at the three figures currently on the ground. "Although it would seem they will give us no more problems tonight."

Ash crawled over to Misty and pushed some hair away from her bruise. She whimpered softly, still trying to recover from the shock the rod had produced. His eyes darted over to Brock, who had stopped yelling, but was still clutching his head. Ash glowered and pushed himself to his feet. The Rockets turned back around and immediately picked their red rods off the ground. Avarice raised one eyebrow.

"Still standing? Very impressive. Although I'm sure I can change that soon enough." He held one of his hands out. He was wearing black gloves. He snapped his fingers and a Hypno walked out from behind him. "Shall we have a repeat of your friend's affliction?"

"If you think you have what it takes to stop me." Ash said. "But I guarantee I'll take all three of you down before I fall."

"Really? How interesting. You think you're so strong, don't you Mr. Ketchum? Well, unfortunately for you, I know your weak points." He snapped his fingers again. This time Misty let out a loud scream. She held her head like Brock had done, tears streaming from her eyes. Ash immediately bent down next to her. He tried to comfort her, but she just kept yelling.

"Stop it!" Ash yelled at Avarice. "Stop it right now, you son of a bitch!"

"Now, now. I hardly think language like that is necessary."

"I'll fucking tear you apart!" Ash screamed and charged at the man. The two Rockets intercepted him and started hitting him with their red sticks. Ash just kept fighting them, trying to get to Avarice. The man just gave Ash his simple smile. Ash's eyes went wild. He wanted to wipe that smug grin right off his face. The repeated rod hits eventually dropped Ash to his knees, but he kept hitting the Rockets until he lost all his energy.

"Please…" he said after a moment. "Just stop…I'll go along with you. Just leave my friends alone."

"See? Was that so hard?" Avarice asked. He snapped his fingers again and Misty immediately stopped screaming. Brock let go of his head as well, as if he was never in any pain at all. Ash slumped down, finally letting the weight of everything hit him. The two Rockets grabbed his arms and lifted him up. Ash was too drained to fight back.

"Wait! No, you can't do this!" Misty yelled, pulling herself up onto her knees. "Ash!"

"Stay down." The female Rocket growled. "We're taking him with us."

"Like hell you are." Brock started to get up when Ash stopped him.

"No, Brock." Ash said. "Just stay down."

"What? But, Ash-"

"They only want me." Ash said. "They won't hurt you if I go peacefully."

"You actually expect them to keep that promise?" Brock seethed. "They'll come for us later."

"And I want you there to protect Misty." Ash stated. Brock shut his mouth, then nodded. Ash nodded back and then let the two Rockets drag him from the cell.

"Ash! No! Don't leave!" Misty shouted after him.

"I'll be okay." Ash said. "We'll be together again soon, I promise." The female Rocket rolled her eyes as she locked the door behind them. Avarice just smirked and led the two Rockets and Ash down the hall. Brock crawled over to Misty and put his arm around her shoulders. The girl immediately threw her arms around him and buried her face in his chest.

"Don't worry." Brock said. "Ash will be okay. He's been though worse than this. Besides, I managed to send Zubat out for help before they knocked me out. It shouldn't be too long before Officer Jenny finds us. We'll get through this." Misty nodded her head slowly, but didn't say a word.

After what seemed like an endless number of hallways, Ash finally found himself in a small operating room. He had deduced that he was in a hospital of sorts as he was being led around the complex, but this was the first room he had entered. It made his jail cell look cozy. There were various instruments scattered through the room. There were two steel tables in the center of the room, each with a light hanging over it. Several doctors were already waiting in the room.

"All right." Avarice said. "Get him on the table."

"What are you sick bastards planning, anyway?" Ash asked, but his question fell on deaf ears. He contemplated trying to make a break for it, but with Avarice standing right there he knew he wouldn't get far, especially given his current state. He let the two Rockets remove his shirt, lift him up and strap him to the table. The leather bonds were tight against his skin. He struggled against them for a second before realizing how hopeless it was. "Look, guys. I appreciate the thought, but it isn't time for my annual check-up yet."

"Ah, there's that humor I was expecting." Came a voice from the dark corner. There was a flicker of light from a flame, then just a cloud of cigar smoke. The man stepped out into the light.

"Giovanni!" Ash hissed. He hadn't expected the Team Rocket boss to be here.

"Ah, I'm glad to see you aren't so drugged up you don't recognize me." He smiled darkly. "I trust you're finding the accommodations pleasant?"

"Quite comfy, really. Although my pillow could use fluffing."

"Of course. Well, enjoy your flippant tongue while you still have it, boy. You are dismissed Captain."

"Yes sir." Avarice saluted then closed the door behind him. The light was dimmed to just the one hanging above his head. Ash strained to keep his vision.

"All right. I'll bite. What the hell is going on?" He asked eventually.

"We're just going to run a few tests on you, that's all."

"Tests?" Ash asked, failing to keep his voice steady. Giovanni walked into the light holding a long syringe filled with odd black liquid. Two doctors followed him, each wielding a large scalpel-style blade. Ash's eyes went wide and he started to struggle against the ropes. Giovanni smiled at him with a look that a lion might give an antelope.

"Try not to struggle, Ketchum. You'll need to conserve all the energy you can. Because this is going to be very, very painful."

Ash's screams echoed through the air, carrying throughout the building. Misty sat straight up, her eyes wide with fear. She looked around frequently, trying to find out where the sounds were coming from.

"Brock…Brock, it's Ash." Misty said, her words barely a whisper. "Oh God! They're killing him!" She got up and ran over to the door. She grabbed onto the bars and started to shake them violently. "STOP IT YOU BASTARDS!" She screamed into the hallway.

"Misty." Brock said softly. He walked up to her and put his hands on hers.

"Ash! Oh God no! No! Ash!" She continued to yell. Ash's tortured screams continued, unabated by Misty's protests. She started to cry again, new tears running down her cheeks. She turned around and buried her face in Brock's shirt again. "I can't take this Brock! I can't listen to this!"

"Shh." Brock sat her down. "Come on. Try and get your mind elsewhere." He was having a hard enough time hearing his lifelong friend's pain, but he had to stay strong for Misty. He had promised Ash as much. Misty began to hum an old tune that Ash had used to sing while they traveled. It did little to help her nerves and the screams continued to haunt her endlessly. She covered her ears, but even then all she could hear was the pained sounds in the air.

The screaming continued for several hours, then, as soon as it had started, it stopped. Misty perked her head up as the yells died out. She waited endlessly for any further sounds but she received none. The screams were gone and there was nothing but silence now. Misty didn't know which was worse.

To Be Continued…