Intro: Hey everyone! I'm back with a brand new chapter of Hybrids: Outbreak. I told you it would be out quicker than last time, didn't I? Anyway, this chapter is even longer than the last one. There's so much ground to cover! How will I ever get it all done? Eh, I'm sure I will find a way. Anyway, enjoy this chapter, which I am sure will manage to make you all simultaniously like and hate me.
As you are well aware of, I do not own Pokemon or its characters.
Hybrids: Seventh Iteration
Strand 4: Termination
The maniacal laughter of reject hybrids penetrated the silence and filled the dark corridors of the abandoned Violet Isle Medical Center. Their maddening screams of torturous pain and unending hunger echoed against the steel walls, surrounding the shadows with auditory fear. The scampering of clawed feet and beating of leathery wings followed close behind, refusing to be drowned out by the insanity of the rejects' outcry.
Misty ran through the pitch-black shadows as fast as she could, constantly looking over her shoulder for any rejects that may be chasing her through the hallway. Damn beasts! She thought to herself, wishing they would just disappear. She tried her best to concentrate on the path ahead of her and praying she'd get out of the shadows and back into a lit area soon. The rejects must have somehow gotten to the power supply, as several sections she had been through had no lights on.
She saw a dim light ahead of her as the hallway merged into a lobby. She dashed even faster toward the light, her sneakers clopping against the tile floor. As she ran into the lobby, she quickly came to a screeching halt. The first thing she noticed was a splatter of chunky blood on the floor in front of her. She felt bile rise in her throat, but she tried her best to hold it down. She looked up and saw the dead body of a hybrid (she assumed it was a reject) draped over a formally yellow couch that was now stained crimson. It might have been Rattatta hybrid, judging by the buck teeth coming out of its mouth. She looked just beyond the slain body and noticed the back of a standing man faced away from her. His clothes were torn up and bloody, but Misty recognized him immediately; she would have even if he didn't have teal skin.
"Ash!" She yelled out to him. Ash quickly whipped around, striking up a fighting pose as a reaction. When he noticed who it was, his expression softened from a battle glare to a surprised confusion.
"Misty?" Ash asked. He took a step forward. "What…what are you…?"
"ASH!" Misty cried out, tears streaming down her face. She ran up to him and threw her arms around his neck. "Oh, thank God I found you!" She sniffed back some tears. "I…I was so scared…"
"Misty, what is going on?" Ash asked and Misty pulled away slightly. "Why are you in here? You were supposed to stay outside!"
"We were ambushed." She explained. "Brock and I had to run in here to avoid the guards!"
"Shit!" Ash hissed. "Where is Brock anyway?"
"We got separated." Misty bit her lip. "I'm worried about him, but I'm glad I found you." She hugged Ash again. "I was worried about you too."
"It's okay…" Ash reassured her gently, burying his face in her hair as he held her close. Misty sighed and melted into his arms, hugging him tightly and not wanting to let go. Suddenly, however, she felt his muscles tense up and his hands moved to her shoulders.
"Ash? What's going on?" Misty asked. She looked up and her eyes widened in fear. Ash's usually soft expression had been replaced with a cold, murderous glare. He pushed Misty away from him roughly, and then held his arm out. A razor leaf traveled down his arm and tumbled out of his wrist slowly so he could catch it in his hand. Clutching the sharp leaf between his index and middle finger, he spun his arm around quickly. The edge of the leaf caught Misty's neck, tearing a long gash along her throat. Misty's shocked expression froze on her face as her neck exploded in a geyser of blood. She stumbled back against the wall as her blood gushed out onto Ash's face and chest. She hit the wall and slumped down to the ground, unable to do anything but clutch at her throat to put pressure on the bleeding.
Her dimming eyes turned up to face her attacker and she stared at him in disbelief, unable to come to grips with what had just happened. Ash sneered at her angrily, his face contorted in a disgusted look.
"You bitch." He hissed angrily. "You fucking bitch."
"…ah…" Misty tried to respond, but couldn't form words. Blood continued to pour out of her torn throat, leaking between her fingers and dripping down her shirt.
"You thought you were being clever, didn't you?" Ash's continued to growl at Misty's bleeding body. "Well, guess what? You messed up. You may be able to copy her looks and her voice," Ash's eyes narrowed sharply, "but your hair doesn't smell a thing like strawberries."
From the ground, Misty started to chuckle softly. Soon, it became a hoarse laughter as Misty taunted Ash with her haunting giggle. "Well, well, well." She said with an evil smile. "Looks like someone's catching on." Misty quickly melted into a puddle of pink goop before reforming into Clayton, still holding his neck.
"You should have known better than to take her appearance, fuckhead." Ash glared at the downed man. "Anyone else may have fooled me. But not her. I know my Misty."
"That's so sweet." Clayton croaked, still holding his neck. "I think someone should have been a Luvdisc hybrid."
"You're awfully cocky for someone with a slit throat, Clayton." Ash said, tilting his head to the side.
"Oh, please." Clayton scoffed. He removed his hand to reveal the gash had almost completely healed. "Like that's going to stop me. You could have killed your precious Misty with that kind of attack, but I'm a fucking hybrid." He stood up slowly, still a little shaky. "This cut is nothing, you stupid prick. Now that we've both wasted our element of surprise, let's get down to business. Namely, beating the living shit out of each other." He grinned. "Our last fight was cut unfortunately short. Let's make this one really epic." His face melted into pink goo again and began to reform into the metallic Voulger. But he shifted back into pink slime before becoming himself again. Clayton gasped and fell back down to the ground. "What the…" He muttered in disbelief.
"How about we skip the epic fight and get right to the grand finale?" Ash asked, allowing himself a little smirk.
"What the fuck is this?" Clayton hissed at him. "Why can't I transform? What the fuck did you do to me?"
"Oh, I bet you're just feeling a little weak." Ash taunted him. "By the way, I lied earlier. You actually made two mistakes." He held up the razor leaf he had slit Clayton's throat with. There was thing violet liquid coating the sharp edges of the leaf. "You seem to have forgotten that Ivysaurs are dual-type Pokemon."
It took a second, but it eventually dawned on Clayton. "You…you poisoned me?"
"Toxic, actually. A rather potent batch, too. You'd be surprised just how powerful a poison an Ivysaur can make. And I think enough of it got in your blood stream, don't you?"
"You…" Clayton started, but his voice died out as blood started to leak down the corner of his mouth. His skin started to pale considerably and his body was convulsing involuntarily. He tried to move, but found himself immobilized. "You…you can't do this to me. It can't end like this! I am Clayton Arriami, for fuck's sake!"
"Live like a bitch, die like a bitch." Ash said remorselessly.
"I will not die here!" He screamed at Ash, spitting blood into the air. Ash just sighed and lifted his arm up so his upturned palm was facing Clayton's body. The poisoned hybrid's face fell and his angry expression turned into one of true fear.
"Yes, Clayton. You will." Ash's wrist burst open and a torrent of razor leaves flew out of his arm. They tore through the man's weak body, the poison slowing down his regeneration abilities and ultimately shutting down his immune system. Clayton shook with the impact of each hit, his eyes rolling up into his head. When Ash finally ran out of leaves, the assault ended and Clayton's hole-filled body slumped to the ground, leaving a smear of blood against the wall he had been leaning on.
Ash walked over and knelt by the motionless body. He pressed his fingers against his neck, but didn't feel a pulse. Ash exhaled the breath he didn't know had been holding. He started to rise, then stopped. He looked down at the leaf he was holding in his hand. Biting his lip and swallowing his morality, he rolled Clayton onto his back. Holding the leaf tightly, Ash reached down and jammed it into Clayton's right eye. Looking away from his act, he dug around in the socket until he severed enough of the nerves and popped out the eyeball. It hit the tile floor and rolled a little bit. Ash stood up and stepped on the eye, causing it to crush beneath his shoes with a liquid-like squish. "There. Now we're even." He said and walked off, leaving Clayton's dormant, one-eyed body there on the ground, surrounded by a puddle of blood.
Amy treaded softly through the dimly lit hallway on the top floor of the hospital. She had to find Ash and warn him about Cassandra. Her footsteps echoed in the silence and it made her heart pound with fear. She wished she had waited for Yuki or Nathan to come with her. Now she was alone and, although she felt capable of defending herself, she had no idea if she was going to have the courage to fight.
Cassandra. Her own sister had come close to killing her, just like she did to Cole, the poor guy. She made a conscious effort to avoid any shadows on the ground, not trusting them anymore. Her sister could be in any of them, just waiting for her to misstep. Amy shuddered with fear. Her sister's dark powers scared her immensely and, if watching Yuki train was any kind of indication, she had every right to be afraid.
She eventually reached a dead end with a large wooden door. Without a second thought, Amy threw the door open, hoping it would lead to a stairwell. Unfortunately, the room was just a large operating room with several gurneys, some equipment and no other way out. More importantly, in the center of the room, was a pile of three dead bodies. They were all hybrids, although Amy didn't recognize any of them. Sitting on the pile of corpses was her sister Cassandra, who was busily licking the blood of her long, sharp fingers. She turned to Amy and smiled viciously, the yellow rings on her body glowing brightly. Amy was suddenly glad the single overhead light sufficiently illuminated the room and created few shadows.
"Hello there, sis." Cassandra held her dark smile. "I was wondering if you would give chase all this way."
"I'm s-stopping you, Cassandra." Amy said, trying to keep her voice steady.
"Does it look like I'm going anywhere?" The Umbreon hybrid responded. "I don't need to get to Ketchum immediately. I can wait to kill him until later. I decided I wanted to be the one to finish you off. Us being family and all."
"We're not family." Amy's clenched fists shook with ire. "You…you are no longer my s-sister. My sister died a long time ago; all that's left is a d-dark shell."
"Ouch." Cassandra looked wounded. "Words hurt, sis."
"S-so will my kicks." Amy responded, striking an uneasy battle pose. She wasn't sure if she could actually fight her sister, but she had to try, for Ash's sake.
"Ooo. Clever." Cassandra stood up, wiping the remaining blood on her fingers onto her hips. "I wonder if your body is as fast as your wit." With that, Cassandra leaped forward with unbelievable speed. Amy only had time to lift her arms up in front of her face before her shadowy sister was upon her. Cassandra raked her sharp claw-like fingers across Amy's bare arms, leaving deep scratches along her skin. Amy cried out in pain, dropping her arms and stumbling back. Cassandra wasted no time and grabbed her by the throat, wrapping her fingers tightly around the girl's neck. Amy gasped and choked as Cassandra's fist tightened. She struggled against the grip, but her sister was much stronger than she was.
"I've wanted to do this for a long time, dear sister." Cassandra smirked evilly. She lifted Amy off the ground. The girl's feet started kicking and she pried at the black fingers around her neck, but to no avail; it wasn't enough to get Cassandra to drop her. Amy's eyes rolled up into her head as she started to loose oxygen. "Look in my eyes, Amy." Cassandra taunted her. "I want to see the look in your eyes." Amy managed to bring her eyes back around so she could look her sister dead on. Then Amy's pupils flashed white.
Cassandra shouted in pain as an explosion of color behind her eyes temporarily blinded her. She dropped Amy to the floor and stumbled backwards, rubbing her eyes. Amy landed on the ground hard and she started to take in deep breaths.
"You bitch!" Cassandra screeched, trying to focus her blurry vision on her sister. She squinted and stumbled around wearily. Amy saw her chance and got to her feet. She ran forward, her hands curled into fists and hoping for one good hit. She drew back her fist, but Cassandra was faster and she dropped down low, sweeping her leg around and knocking Amy backwards. The girl let out a surprised shriek as she fell onto her back, her head slamming against the tile floor hard. Cassandra stood straight up and put her foot on Amy's chest, pressing down roughly. Her eyes focused and her wobble vanished.
"Using a psychic attack on a Dark-type?" Cassandra laughed. "Here I thought you knew something about Pokemon. Easy enough to fool you, though."
"Ugh…" Amy groaned, and then she screamed as Cassandra pushed down on her chest harder.
"Wait for it…wait for it…" Cassandra put one hand to her ear as she increased the pressure. Then a lout snapping noise from inside Amy's chest as one of her ribs cracked. Amy's pained screams intensified. "There we go." Cassandra smiled. She lifted her foot off of Amy's chest. Amy shifted to her side and started to pant and wheeze, her eyes tightly shut closed.
"Oh God….oh God…" Amy groaned, clutching her chest.
"You big baby." Cassandra snorted. "You know, I don't even want to kill you anymore. You are just a waste of my time. Useless." Cassandra shook her head in disgust and turned to leave, then stopped. "Then again…" She strode back over to Amy's twitching body. "Maybe I can use you. You like this Ketchum boy, don't you?" Cassandra smiled as Amy's eyes widened. "Does he like you back? What would he do to save you?"
"What…what do you…" Amy coughed up some blood as she tried to speak. The trickle of crimson liquid trailed down to her shin.
"How would you like to be Ash's damsel in distress?" Cassandra bent down and grabbed Amy's chin, stroking her cheek with one long, sharp finger. "Do you think he would turn himself over for your safety?"
"No…don't…" Amy's words were chopped up an uneven.
"I'll take that as a yes." Cassandra smirked. "First, let's make sure all the fight is out of you." She withdrew her hand from her face quickly, then jammed her sharp fingers into Amy's torso. Amy's eyes widened and her mouth hung open, yet no sound emitted from her throat. Cassandra ripped her fingers free from the girls body, leaving torn wounds along her body. "And once more for good measure." Cassandra added before piercing the girl's sternum a second time. Amy screamed this time, a throaty torturous yell. Her antennae twitched about wildly, building up massive kinetic energy, before the two ends slammed into one another. A powerful multi-colored beam fired out from the place where her antennae met. It fired right through Cassandra's head, not so much as damaging her face, but wrecking havoc on her mind. She felt a pain akin to an intense migraine shoot through her brain and Cassandra immediately withdrew her fingers before falling flat on her back and rolling away from Amy, screeching and clutching her head.
"Augh!" She wailed. "My head is on fire!" Amy panted wearily as she watched her sister roll around, gripping her skull. She groaned and tried to get to her feet, stumbling a bit before rising up. Cassandra finally pushed past her throbbing headache and forced herself to stand up as well. She gritted her teeth as she stared her sister down. "You little bitch." She seethed, then groaned as her loud voice only made the pain in her head worse. Amy didn't respond to her and just focused on staying upright. "Forget what I said earlier. You are so dead." Cassandra wasted no more time and flung herself at her sister.
"No!" Amy yelled, causing her chest to throb. Her wings began to beat furiously and create a strong wind. Cassandra's feet left the ground and, with a grunt of confusion, she flew back into a stack of gurneys. Metal and plastic flew out into the air as the contraptions fell apart beneath the force of her body hitting them. Amy's wings stopped and she began to wheeze uncontrollably. She quickly caught herself and turned to run for the door while she still could.
"Not so fast!" Cassandra yelled at her. The Umbreon hybrid held the broken wheel of a gurney in her hand as she rose to her feet. She chucked it as hard as she could into the air. It flew on its arc straight to its destination, shattering the singular light bulb overhead. The room was suddenly plunged into darkness. Amy stopped short in shock.
"Oh no." She whispered to herself and tried to start running at full speed again. Unfortunately, the darkness swelled around her and slammed into her chest with the force of a baseball bat. Pain shot through Amy's nerves like an electrical current and the sudden shock to her system caused her to black out. She fell to the ground and was enveloped in darkness.
Ash slinked down the long staircase, trying his best to stay as silent as possible. The less attention he drew to himself, the easier it would be to find the virus. The last thing he wanted was more reject hybrids on his trail. He kept a close eye on the stairs above and below him.
Finally, he reached the bottom floor of the stairwell. A grey sign marked "B3" adorned the wall next to a metal door. Ash took a deep breath and slowly pushed the door open. Peering out, Ash took a quick watch for any hybrids or Rockets, but found none. He carefully made his way into the hall and tiptoed silently toward the doors at the far end. When he got there, he stopped and read the lettering on the doors. They were all marked 'Laboratory' followed by a number. Ash took a wild guess and chose door number five. The door was thankfully unlocked and Ash slipped right in, closing it behind him.
The room was pitch-black, but Ash quickly found the light switch and illuminated the room. His eyes widened immediately; the room was filled with vials and beakers of a smoky black liquid. Ash's mind flashed several garbled memories of the operation he underwent all those months ago. The pain from the experiment was still fresh in his mind and with it, the syringe that Giovanni stuck in him. He was sure of it; this was the same substance he had been infected with.
Ash grinned to himself. This was it. He was here. After all this time, he finally found the hybrid serum. He took a few seconds to take in the long-awaited sight, and then rolled up his sleeves. Now it's time to bust it all to hell. The prospect of that ensuing destruction filled him with an odd sense of glee.
He took several steps forward to the middle of the room, trying to decide where he wanted to start first. Then the door behind him slammed open and Ash whipped around quickly. Commander Avarice was standing in the doorway, dressed in full uniform, a dark smile painted across his face. The light from the ceiling shone against his slicked back hair. At least eight Rocket grunts stood behind him, although more could have been obscured from view. Ash bared his teeth and struck a fighting stance, shooting Avarice a warning glare. Avarice just smiled and started to slowly clap his gloved hands.
"Wonderful detective work, Mr. Ketchum. I am actually surprised you managed to get this far. I'm impressed."
"You son of a bitch." Ash growled, baring his sharp teeth. "I remember you. You were there when I was first dragged off for this God-forsaken experiment."
"So your memory hasn't completely eroded yet. How fortunate."
"Not for you." Ash's eyes narrowed. "You hurt my friends back then and now I have a chance to get even."
"Is that so?" Avarice arched one eyebrow. "Well…we'll see about that." He held his hand up nonchalantly. "Disperse." He said back to the Rockets. The grunts all looked at each other with odd looks.
"Commander Avarice? What about…" The lead Rocket started, but Avarice shushed him.
"You will be of no further use here. I will deal with this whelp." Avarice said, continuing to stare Ash down. Ash balled his hands into fists and bared his sharp teeth at the other man.
"Give us a chance sir!" Another Rocket exclaimed. "We can take him!" Avarice just sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Very well." He waved his hand and stepped aside. "By all means, have at him." The Rockets all let out a battle cry and rushed into the room, holding their guns tightly. Their battle cry died down when they noticed Ash's bright yellow eyes narrowed dangerously and his mouth turned in a menacing scowl. Ash opened his mouth and screamed, a blast of bright light emanating from his throat. The Rockets all screeched in terror as the Solarbeam engulfed their bodies and incinerated their skin. Within seconds, all eight grunts had been reduced simply to piles of ashes and several pairs of disembodied feet. The yellow glow in Ash's eyes died down and his pupils returned to blood red.
From his position several feet away, Avarice shook his head sadly and made a sighing sound. "I tried to stop them." He shrugged. He looked down at the feet sticking out of the ashes and grunted. "What a mess."
"Do you see what you're dealing with now, Avarice?" Ash asked. "You better get out of here before I annihilate you with this entire lab."
"With what? Another Solarbeam?" Avarice scoffed and held his gloved hand up. "That would be a more dangerous threat if you still had the energy for another one."
The surprised look on Ash's face was only there for a second, but that was enough time for Avarice to see the boy betray his fears. Ash knew he had revealed too much with his shocked expression. "How did you know…?" Ash began, then his eyes widened.
"What a very good question, Mr. Ketchum. I would offer you an answer, but it would seem you have come to your own conclusion."
"You're a hybrid, aren't you?" Ash whispered. "That's how you managed to get into Brock and Misty's heads. It wasn't that Hypno at all, was it?"
"Very astute reasoning. You hit the nail on the head. I am Commander John Avarice: the very first hybrid."
"The very first hybrid?" Ash repeated, his voice still a whisper.
"Yes. The original experiment conducted by Sir Salazar so many years ago." Avarice's simple smile did not change, but his expression got noticeably darker. "I was given a genetic sampling of my master's most prized Pokemon." He held his hand out triumphantly. "His extremely powerful Mr. Mime."
Ash blinked a few times, then started to chuckle before erupting into full laughter. "A Mr. Mime?" He asked between laughs. "Are you serious? That's your super powerful hybrid type?"
Avarice grumbled and his smile disappeared. "Cheeky brat. I see you need a lesson in humility."
"What are you going to do? Double Slap me to death?" Ash asked, still chortling. Avarice just reached to his side and pulled out a red Stun Stick. Then he ran full speed at Ash. The boy immediately stopped laughing when he saw Avarice rushing at him and he stepped to the side as the man got near. Avarice twisted and spun around, striking Ash in the chest as if he anticipated the quick attempt at dodging all along. Thousands of volts poured through Ash's body causing him to convulse several times before stumbling several feet back and falling flat on his back.
How the hell did he do that? Ash wondered and he tried to get back up, but Avarice was practically on top of him before he could fully come to his senses. He jammed the end of the rod into Ash's throat roughy. A flash of electricity illuminated the rod and shot through Ash's neck causing it to close up and cease air flow. Ash's eyes widened and his hands flailed about wildly. Avarice pulled the rod away again and Ash's throat opened back up just in time for a massive gush of blood to erupt from his throat like a fountain. Ash clutched at his neck in an attempt to stop the bleeding, but the surging electricity was still bursting vessels of blood in his throat lining. He rolled over to keep himself from drowning in his own blood. Avarice slammed the Stun Stick back down, this time onto the back of Ash's head where his skull attaches to his spine. Ash's world exploded into an array of painful colors and he screamed in agony as he felt his brain start to cook from the heat of the lightning charging around in his skull. Avarice removed the rod once more, leaving a burn mark on both sides of his neck. Ash's vision blurred and refused to focus as Avarice stood above him triumphantly.
"Any more wisecracks, Mr. Ketchum?" Avarice asked. "Or can we talk like men?"
"We're not men anymore." Ash growled and spun around, swinging his feet in a sweep kick. Avarice jumped backwards, avoiding the leg completely. Ash's vision improved just enough for him to see Avarice's location clearly. He held his hand out and fired a barrage of razor leaves at the man. Avarice stood still while the sharp projectiles approached him, then quickly made a waving motion with his hand. A transparent wall, seemingly made of pure light, appeared in front of him and the razor leaves bounced off the wall harmlessly. The wall vanished as the last leaf ricocheted off. Ash's mouth dropped in disbelief.
"What the Hell?" Ash asked.
"I'm afraid you are in over your head, Mr. Ketchum." Avarice smiled and his eyes focused on the downed boy. Suddenly, Ash's world devolved into pure pain and he clutched the sides of his head, letting out a loud torturous cry. His ears filled with a high-pitched screech and a massive migraine tore his brain in two. An intense pressure pushed on his skull like his head was in a vice grip. Tears streamed down Ash's face as the intense pain blinded his every sense.
Avarice smiled as he walked over to the screaming boy who was gripping the sides of his head. "Poison types are very susceptible to psychic attacks, aren't they?" He asked rhetorically. Ash just seethed painfully in response. He waited for a few minutes, enjoying the agonizing moaning of the boy on the floor. Then he broke his stare of concentration and the pressure in Ash's mind disappeared instantly. Some pain still lingered and it took Ash a few minutes to recover. In that time, Avarice reached down, and grabbed the back of Ash's head roughly.
"Show me your nightmares, Ketchum." He hissed in the boy's ear. "I want to taste them." Ash opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly his world vanished from him into a field of white.
"Ash?" The soft voice that posed the light question floated through the air like a feather on the wind. The melodic tone of the voice was music to Ash's ears and the boy held his eyes closed for a few seconds to linger on the sound.
"Ash?" The voice repeated a second time. Ash opened his eyes to the blank whiteness around him. He searched for the source of the voice, but saw nothing. He swiveled his head around in confusion.
"Ash…where are you?" Her voice echoed again. Ash craned his neck to each side and turned around in place, but there was no one but him in the whiteness.
"Ash…please…I need you…" The voice repeated, the melodic tone breaking up into a choked sadness. Ash's brow furrowed in worry. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. His lips quivered for a second before he opened his mouth to speak. His throat was dry and his first words came out hoarsely.
"M-Misty?" He asked, his voice cracking as if he hadn't used it for ages.
"Ash!" The voice screeched loudly from behind him. Ash pivoted around on one foot and the serene white backdrop instantly shifted to a dark dungeon room. The powerful odor of blood and mold emanated from the stone walls. But Ash hardly noticed this; his attention was raptly focused on the torture rack ahead of him. Misty was lying down on the rack, her arms and legs firmly manacled to the wood. She was also stark naked and wriggling for freedom.
"Misty?" Ash asked weakly, not believing his eyes. His heart sank deep into his stomach. She may have been naked, but Ash felt no arousal. The fear in her eyes held his attention. Then, there was a third figure in the room, approaching the redhead from the shadows. Ash's eyes widened as he recognized the gaunt man approaching the rack. It was Clayton Arriami. "What the fuck is this? You're supposed to be dead!" Ash whispered, narrowing his eyes. Then Clayton reached down to his jeans pants and pulled down the zipper. Ash's eyes widened again, this time is realization of what was going to happen. "Oh no. Oh God no." He whispered in disbelief.
"Ash…why won't you save me Ash?" Misty whispered, her wide eyes dancing with fear as she watched Clayton shed his clothing.
"NO!" Ash screamed, his eyes bulging from his head. "Don't you fucking touch her, you piece of shit!" Ash screamed. He tried to move, but found himself glued to the spot. He flailed his arms wildly, but his legs wouldn't budge. "Misty! MISTY!" He yelled to her, but she didn't seem to hear him.
The minute Clayton's clothes had hit the cold ground, he snapped into action. In a flash, he was upon Misty's pinned form, grunting and snarling. Misty let out a sharp cry of tortured pain as the man forced himself on her, taking advantage of her immobile body.
"MISTY!" Ash screamed again, his voice filled with fear, rage, and guilt.
"Ash…" She groaned in pain, her eyes shut tightly. Tears streamed down her cheeks as Clayton continued his assault, his hands gripping her wrists tightly. "Ash…please save me…" Her words died out into another painful shout.
"You son of a bitch!" Ash yelled at Clayton, tears running down his own face. "I'm going to tear your fucking head off!"
"Ash…why won't you save me?" Misty whispered before breaking into a sobbing fit. Ash's rage dissolved into an overwhelming feeling of guilty uselessness. His shoulders slumped and he shut his eyes tightly. Even then, all he could see was Clayton violating the girl he loved.
"No…" Ash whimpered. "This can't be happening…this can't…" He groaned and opened his eyes again, the vision almost worse with his eyes closed. Then the sight before him took an unexpected and very disturbing turn. Clayton's body melted into a gooey pink substance before reforming into a new body. He was still nude, but his body was now that of Ash himself.
"A-Ash?" Misty asked weakly, then cried out again as the new Ash resumed his previous movements. "No! Ash! Why are you hurting me? Stop! Please stop!" She sobbed. "Why would you do this to me?"
"No…NO!" Ash's fragile mind was starting to snap and he shook involuntarily. "Misty! It's not me! It's...Oh, God…" He bit his lip until it bled, unable to turn away from the horrible sight of his own image raping Misty. The naked Ash turned his head to face his counterpart and a dark smile stretched across his face, as if taunting him. This was too much and Ash's mind broke down. His legs allowed movement for the first time since the ordeal started and Ash collapsed to the ground, curling into a fetal position. Try as he may, he could not turn his eyes away from the horrid sight ahead of him.
Her screams assaulted his ears. Her violation assaulted his eyes. Her pain assaulted his heart. And all he could do was sit there and cry. Hours turned into days. Days turned into months. Months turned into years. And Ash could do nothing but watch.
Avarice relished the twisted look of pain on Ash's face. It had taken just a few seconds to bring the boy's mind into a state of pure chaos, but he knew for Ash it was much longer. Exactly how long was up in the air, but Avarice knew it was long enough to break him down. He could see the boy's nightmare in a third eye and he reveled in the torture being inflicted. Every feeling of hurt, ire and guilt fueled him further. He could feel his body rejuvenating from the nightmare he was forcing on the kid in his grip. After a minute, Avarice felt fully refreshed and he let go of Ash's head. Ash gasped loudly as his brain was restored into reality. His eyes remained wide open as he looked around wildly, trying to figure out what had happened.
"What? What's going on?" Ash sputtered. "Where's Misty?"
"Where is Misty, you ask?" Avarice smiled. "What an odd question."
"Avarice?" Ash asked weakly, his eyes focusing on the pale man. "What are you doing here? Where's Misty and Clay-" He stopped as his mind finally caught up with his mouth. "That…that was a dream?"
"More like a hallucination." Avarice responded. "But one pulled from your own subconscious. A nightmare that seems to be particularly damaging to your psyche."
"You bastard!" Ash hissed. "What possible reason could you have for putting me through that?"
"Besides the fact that it has severely weakened you?" He asked. Ash looked at his feet reluctantly. Avarice told the truth; he felt weaker and less capable of fighting with the memory of the horrible nightmare still fresh in his mind. "There's also the fact that feeding on your perverse dreams has given me a much needed boost."
"Dream Eater?" Ash guessed.
"Very good." Avarice nodded. "Nothing escapes you, does it?"
"So you got stronger and I got weaker." Ash grunted, trying to shake off the vicious memory burned into his mind. "That doesn't seem very fair."
"Did you expect it to be?" Avarice asked. "I'm the leader of Team Rocket now. I don't play fair."
"Leader?" Ash asked. "So Giovanni is dead then." He allowed himself a small smile. That means James did what he went there to do. "That must be a bit of a blow to the Rocket morale."
"Are you serious?" Avarice raised one eyebrow. "I waited forever for someone to finally take him out."
"Wait…what?" Ash cocked his head to the side in confusion. "You wanted Giovanni dead?"
"That arrogant fool had no idea of the power he was toying with." Avarice snorted. "Here he held the key to the next step of evolution in his hand and he was going to use it to fund his petty criminal organization. He even had the gall to refuse his own discovery so he could stay human." Avarice shook his head in disgust. "What a waste of potential."
"So what?" Ash asked. He didn't really care what Avarice's motivation was, but if he could stall for enough time, he could regain his strength before the hybrid took further measures against him.
"So what?!" Avarice nearly choked on the air he was breathing. "It showed his true colors, his extreme cowardice in the face of fear. It is the nature of all creatures to desire power. To seek it out and better ourselves. That is what drives all living things. And Giovanni turned it down because of his fear of the unknown. That is why I had to surpass him as leader."
"You knew James was coming for him, didn't you?" Ash asked. "I bet you knew the plan the whole time."
"Of course I did." Avarice said. "But I let you break in here. This way, I could be rid of Giovanni, maintain the trust of my underlings, and as an added bonus, kill you and your little band of vagrants."
Ash growled to himself, but maintained his cool. As much as he wanted to defend himself and his friends, he knew he wasn't nearly strong to provoke Avarice yet. "So what makes you so much more adept as a leader?"
"My cause is so much more pure than that of that common criminal." Avarice's eyes glimmered with ambition. "I plan to instigate a new order; a race comprised entirely of hybrids. All those who refuse to evolve will be eliminated. Thus the era of humanity will come to a blessed end."
"I don't get it." Ash said. "You used to be human. Why do you want to destroy them so badly?"
"I used to be a Rocket grunt, but that doesn't stop me from realizing how much more superior I am as a Commander." Avarice crossed his arms. "Don't you see, Ketchum? Once I have a clan of hybrids ready to change the world, we will come to absolute power. No more hiding in shadows. No more running from those that would persecute us. No more being hunted for who we are." Avarice smiled darkly. "You ask me why I want to destroy the humans, why don't tell me why you defend them? You know what they would do to you if they caught you. Half the populace wants to kill you and the other wants to dissect you for scientific research. You could join my cause, you know."
"No fucking way." Ash growled.
"I knew you would say that." Avarice sighed. "Proving you to be as foolish as Giovanni. Denying your own genes to hold onto your humanity. It's sickening to watch." The hybrid narrowed his eyes. "Even if you did somehow manage to pull this suicidal mission of yours off, what kind of existence could you expect to have afterward? You're risking everything for the chance to have a substandard life!"
"The life I'm fighting for is not my own." Ash growled at him through gritted teeth. Avarice raised one eyebrow, then smiled.
"Of course." He said. "Well then, Mr. Ketchum, if your life isn't that important to you, allow me to relieve you of it." He drew the Stun Stick from his side again and jumped at Ash. Ash prayed he had enough to strength in him and braced for the familiar pain he had become accustomed to. Twin vines ripped through his skin and shirt and extended out from his back, wrapping around the legs of a steel table. The vines retracted and pulled Ash along the ground as Avarice landed right where Ash used to be.
"Too slow, Mimey!" Ash taunted as he came to a halt. The wines immediately let go of the table and Ash got to his feet. He still felt weaker than normal, but he was strong enough to fight, at least for a while.
"Well, well. It looks like someone can fight again." Avarice pointed his Stun Stick at Ash. The red rod crackled with electricity. "It's about time this got interesting."
By the time the incessant growling and scraping of the reject hybrid hoards died down, Brock was so tired he was hardly able to stay upright. He couldn't hear the vicious creatures that had been following him anymore, so he assumed he must have lost them. He took a deep breath and tried to resist collapsing on the ground.
Instead, he resorted to leaning against the wall next to him. The illuminated hallway was coming to an intersection with another hallway and he stopped just short of the junction, panting and wheezing. He let his head hit the wall roughly and he groaned. Now he was all alone inside a hospital filled with Rocket grunts and reject hybrids. And the one person he was supposed to protect was on the entire other side of the building. He didn't know how things could get any worse.
His ear perked up as he heard sound coming from the adjoining hallway. Fear filled his mind and body, and he quickly pressed himself against the wall as tightly as possible, holding his breath. Several seconds later, he watched a woman with pure black skin dragging a young girl down the hallway. Her back was to him, thankfully, but Brock remained motionless, too scared to breathe. That must be Cassandra, the Umbreon Hybrid that James had warned them about. If what James said was true, Brock certainly did not want her to notice him.
That was when he recognized the girl being dragged along the ground. It was Amy, unconscious and bleeding. His heart seized up. She looked to be in a bad way and he didn't think Cassandra was taking her along for a family reunion. He bit his lip in a nervous fashion, wracked with indecision. He couldn't just stay here and let Cassandra take Amy away, but just what was he supposed to do? He stood no chance against her.
Think, Brock! Think! He hissed to himself mentally. Cassandra was quickly leaving his site range. There has to be something you can do! Suddenly, a hand grabbed Brock's shoulder and flipped him around. Brock began to let out a surprised yelp, but a hand quickly covered his mouth.
"Shhh!" Seth whispered, trying to calm Brock down. He looked past the tall man and saw that Cassandra had thankfully not heard the muted yell. She continued walking down the hall. Brock took a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief as Seth let go of the man's mouth. "It's just me."
"Seth! Jesus, you scared the hell out of me." Brock whispered. "How did you get there?"
"I walked through the wall. Ghost hybrid, remember?" Seth looked around to make sure no one else was eavesdropping. "I saw Cassandra leaving with Amy but I was unable to stop her myself. I'm going to need your help, Brock."
"I don't know how much help I will be in this case." Brock said sadly. "I can't stand up to a reject hybrid, let alone a full-fledged one."
"Don't worry. I have a plan." Seth said. His confidence drained a little and he looked less sure. "Well, it's not a full plan yet. More like an idea."
"Is it a good idea?" Brock asked weakly, not sure if he wanted to hear the answer.
"Yeah. Well, I think so, anyway. I dunno, I've never come up with a plan before." The young boy shrugged sheepishly. Brock groaned and bit his lip again.
The quiet air of a large, mostly empty laboratory room was interrupted by a low hum and dinging sound from the electronic device beside a large mechanical door. The steel door suddenly swished open and Ash's body flew into the room as if he had been shot from a cannon. He collided with the steel floor and skidded across the metal for a few feet until he came to a stop. Ash groaned and looked up into the overhead rafters while he tried to regain his balance.
Avarice walked into the room, smiling to himself. "What's wrong Ketchum? Giving up already?"
"Not on your life." Ash hissed, forcing himself onto his feet. "I'm just warming up."
"Well, you should probably start picking up the pace, then." Avarice said and rushed at Ash, swinging the Stun Stick he was brandishing. Ash grunted and jumped backwards, barely dodging the crimson club as it parted the air in front of him. Two vines ripped out of his back and flailed out in front of him, trying in vain to whip Avarice's swiftly moving body. He seemed to see each attack before it happened and he successfully dodged every attack, no matter how fast the vines cracked at him. Avarice finally got bored of Ash's attempts at attacking and swung the Stun Stick around quickly, striking each of the vines. Electricity charged down the vines like a pair of wires and the when the shock hit his body, Ash stumbled back. He managed to maintain his footing, however. The continued abuse from the red rod had given him a slight advantage; he was building up a resistance to the pain it inflicts.
"Is that all you got?" Ash taunted, narrowing his eyes dangerously. Small streams of blood flowed down from the corner of his mouth. "Come on, why don't you stop fucking around and get down to bus-" Ash's words ended in a loud scream as Avarice struck him with another psychic attack, sending his brain into constant throbbing spasms.
"You're awfully cocky for someone who has yet to score a single hit in." Avarice said, tapping his foot and watching Ash drop to his knees. "I think the type disadvantage is a little to high of a handicap for you."
"Fuck off." Ash growled, gritting his teeth. He clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white. He refused to hold onto his head and let the throbbing continue unabated.
"Trying to fight it?" Avarice laughed. "I don't think it's working very well for you, Ketchum." Ash yelled out in an angry burst of adrenaline and stuck his arm out, firing a steady stream of razor leaves at him. Avarice merely sighed and waved his hand. A light screen appeared in front of him and the leaves just bounced off harmlessly.
"Dammit!" Ash exclaimed, dropping his hand in exhaustion.
"I would have thought you would have learned by now." Avarice shook his head in disappointment. "I can foresee anything you throw at me. As long as I'm concentrating on you, you will never be able to get a hit in." He walked over and held out his Stun Stick. "Do you know why I use one of these contraptions instead of a good old-fashioned gun?" He asked. "I like the personal feeling of a club. Guns are too impersonal. Besides…" He spun the rod around in his hand before pressing it to Ash's temple. The electricity jolted into his skull, burning his forehead and causing Ash to scream in blinding pain. "…I can't torture someone as well with a firearm." He smiled without any sense of joy. "I taught Klaus everything he knows about torture. Surprised?"
"I've got a surprise for you, jackass." Ash hissed, and then pushed himself off his knees onto his feet seamlessly, knocking the Stun Stick aside. He swung his arm around, revealing the razor leaf he had hidden in his fingers. Avarice jumped back out of the way of the attack. Ash knew Avarice would dodge every attempted slice, but at least he was on the offensive now. That had to count for something.
He backed Avarice up to the door before the hybrid finally used his hand to catch's Ash's arm and stop his attack in mid movement. His eyes locked on his opponent and Ash's mind burst into flames again. He tried to calm down and soothe his aching mind, but he couldn't fight it. The power it wielded over his poison side was too much. It was like sticking his head into a vice grip and letting it crush his head.
"This is getting boring." Avarice sighed, watching Ash shake and convulse from the psychic attack. "I am far too superior for this to even be sporting. You aren't worth fighting at this point."
"How about if we make it two-on-one?" A voice from above said. A lean figure dropped down from steel rafters and landed on the ground behind Ash. Both men craned their necks to see who the intruder was. Ash's eyes widened and his lips curled into a semi-smile.
"Gary!" Ash exclaimed, immediately gripping his head and regretting screaming out his friend's name. Gary Oak was indeed standing in plain view, his usually spiked hair disheveled from crawling around in duct vents.
"Well, well…the Pokemon Master. This certainly is a twist. But that wasn't too smart, Mr. Oak." Avarice asked. "Now that I know you are here, I will be able to foresee your every move. You lost the biggest thing you had going; your element of surprise."
"My element of surprise has nothing to do with it." Gary replied. "I'm just a distraction." He took a deep breath as Avarice's eyebrow's knotted in confusion, then let out an exclamation. "Pikachu! Thundershock!"
"Pika!" The yellow Pokemon shouted as it leapt from the rafters at Avarice, its red cheeks sparking. A blast of electricity fired out from its tiny yellow body and rushed at Avarice. The man growled and jumped back through the doorway, not expecting the sudden attack. He landed just outside the room, but that was all that was needed. Pikachu landed on Ash's shoulder and let loose another surge of lightning at the device that controlled the doors. The sudden shock fried the system and the mechanical doors closed shut instantly as a security measure, locking Avarice outside the room.
"Pikachu!" Ash exclaimed, unable to believe what he was seeing.
"Chu!" The rodent cheered happily and hugged the side of Ash's face warmly. Ash hugged the Pokemon back, laughing in complete surprise. "How did you…"
"I brought it here." Gary spoke up, walking up to the duo. "I figured I could use the help in tracking you down. It wasn't pleased at taking orders from me, but once I told it we were coming to rescue you, it was all for the mission. Turned out to be a good decision; not only did it steal a key to free me from my cell, its nose was instrumental on locating you in here. If it wasn't for Pikachu picking up your scent, we never would have found you."
"Rescue me?" Ash asked. "I heard on the news you were hunting me down!"
"Yeah, I was so I could capture you and put you in captivity. That way, no one would be out to kill you." Gary sighed. "Sorry, but you were going to die if any other group got their hands on you, so I had to act quickly to prevent it."
"I'm just glad you're okay." Ash replied. "After what they did to Lance, I was worried about you."
"Lance?" Gary asked. "What's wrong with Lance?"
"They turned him into a hybrid like me. I can only assume the same goes for Lorelei and Bruno." Ash nearly jumped when he heard a loud pounding from the other side of the metal door. "Shit, we don't have much time. Avarice is going to find a way to break back in here any second."
"Well then, let's go." Gary said impatiently. "There's an open ventilation shaft on the opposite side of the room. That's how we got in. We need to get you out of here."
"No." Ash said, standing firm. "I need to stay and fight Avarice."
"WHAT?" Gary asked incredulously.
"Pika?" The pokemon on his shoulders echoed the other man's remark.
"I need you to take Pikachu and destroy the virus. There is a large lab down the hall, but it may not be the only one." He winced as he heard another loud pounding on the door. He turned to see a large dent in the steel.
"You need to come with us!" Gary exclaimed. "Avarice is far too powerful for you to stop by yourself!"
"Exactly!" Ash yelled back. "Avarice is too strong to let run free. Even if I can't beat him, I can at least distract him." Gary's eyes widened as he saw the determined look in Ash's eyes. Pikachu shook with fear; he knew exactly what his master was talking about it.
"You can't honestly think I'll let you commit suicide like that." Gary said seriously.
"It doesn't matter what you think, guys." Ash said, hands on his hips. "Here are the facts: if that virus survives tonight, Avarice will use it to destroy the human race. Avarice is way to powerful to just ignore. Someone needs to keep him busy and he will tear the both of you in two before you can even blink." Gary winced at the words. "This is important, Gary. I need you to find the virus and eliminate it."
"Okay, Ash." Gary nodded, his voice hoarse. He held his arm out. "C'mon, Pikachu."
"Pika!" The small electric rat hissed angrily. It clutched to its owner's shoulder valiantly.
"Pikachu, please." Ash pleaded his friend. "Gary's going to need your nose. You have the best chance of tracking any remaining traces of the virus."
"Pika!" It cried out in desperation, he clutched onto Ash's shirt, begging Ash not to separate them.
"Do it for me, okay Pika-pal?" Ash asked.
"P…P…" The Pokemon sputtered, then sullenly dropped its head. Sadly, it nodded in agreement. It jumped to Gary's arm and looked back at its master. "Pika Pikachu."
"I love you too buddy." Ash scratched the pokemon behind his ears. He tried hard to choke back any incoming tears. "Go make me proud, okay?"
"Chu!" The rodent saluted. There was another pound on the door.
"Okay, go!" Ash commanded them. "And Gary…if you see Misty, tell her I love her." Gary gave Ash an odd look for a second, and then regained his composure.
"You can tell her yourself." He replied.
"No, Gary. I don't think I will be able to." Ash said sadly. Gary tried his best to keep an emotionless expression.
"I'll make sure she knows." Gary responded.
"Thanks. Now go!" Ash yelled. Gary nodded and he ran over to the ventilation shaft he was talking about. Ash watched his two friends disappear into the small hole, and then turned to face the door. He took a deep breath and balled his fists. There was one more loud pound and the door caved, breaking off the hinges. Avarice stood in the doorway, looking as angry as Ash had ever seen him. By his side was a short, thick man with rough grey skin and two massive tusks jutting out from the side of his mouth. He snorted and stamped his feet.
"Donphan!" He screamed, his words marred by the tusks in his mouth.
"You have managed to anger me, Mr. Ketchum." Avarice said, slicking back his hair. "You will regret that soon enough."
"Talk, talk, talk." Ash said, narrowing his eyes. "Let's see you actually do something about it."
"Don't worry, you will." Avarice took a step forward, then paused. "Wait…where is the Pokemon Master and that Pikachu?"
"They're gone." Ash said. "It's just you and me."
"Clever. But you are going to have to do better than that." Avarice smiled slightly. "You won't catch me off-guard so easily."
"It's your move, asshole." Ash said, crossing his arms.
"Hmm. Of course." His eyes carefully scanned the rafters. "So you've decided to take advantage of the fact that I need to concentrate on someone to foresee their futures. Well, about time you started presenting a challenge. I guess that means I can step this up a notch." He held his hand out and pointed at Ash. "Donphan! Rollout attack!"
"Donphan!" The stout man screamed and he began to charge at Ash. The Ivysaur hybrid was caught off guard by how fast the fat man could run. Suddenly, the Donphan hybrid curled into a somersault and rolled right at Ash, picking up speed as he went. Ash quickly jumped to one side, barely managing to avoid the impending hit. The man didn't stop until he ran full force into the wall. The whole room shook from the collision and Ash fell off his feet onto the ground. The short man didn't even stop for a second. He uncurled and charged at Ash again before returning to a somersault position.
"Shit!" Ash exclaimed and his vines burst free from his back before shooting up into the air and wrapping around one of the rafters. He pulled himself into the air quickly as the hybrid rolled around beneath him. When he reached the steel beam his vines were holding on to, he grabbed a hold and heaved himself up on top of it. The Donphan crashed into another wall and the room shook again, nearly tossing Ash off the rafter. He held on barely by wrapping his body around it.
"One more time, Donphan." Avarice commanded his hybrid. The stout man grunted and rolled full speed into the nearest wall. Ash watched the hybrid carefully, gripping onto the steel beam and awaiting the crash. With all eyes off of him, Avarice reached to his side and pulled a revolver out of a concealed holster. He gave the chamber a quick spin and pointed the barrel of the gun into the rafters. He pulled the trigger and loud gunshot echoed through the room. Ash didn't even have time to look for it. The hot bullet entered his shoulder and tore through his muscles until it ripped its way back out the other side. Ash screamed in pain and gripped his shoulder to stop the sudden flow of blood and try and ease the searing pain. It was then that the Donphan hybrid smashed into the wall, shaking Ash off the rafter and back down to the ground. Ash hit the steel floor hard, his back cracking as he landed. Blood shot from his wound like an explosion from the sudden impact. Ash grunted and seethed as he clutched at his bleeding arm.
"Well, that looks painful." Avarice smiled and holstered the gun. "No one came to your rescue, so I assume there was no one watching me up there. I guess we really are alone. How nice."
"You had a gun the whole time?" Ash managed to ask between gritted teeth. "You fucker…I thought you said you didn't like using a gun!"
"I don't." Avarice shrugged. "I prefer to work with the Stun Stick. It's so much more…personal. But sometimes, distance provides an issue. Come on, did you really think I'd let personal preference come between brutal efficiency?"
"Ugh." Ash groaned and stumbled to his feet. "Well, you're going to need to do more than that. I've been shot before."
"I didn't think it was enough to kill you. But it will make you more sporting." He smiled. "Donphan! Flail!"
"DONPHAN!" The round hybrid snarled and charged at Ash, swinging his massive tusks from side to side. Ash held out his good arm and felt a mass of razor leaves travel up his arms. They ripped through his wrist and fired out at the charging hybrid. Each leaf seemed to throw the man off course and he eventually fell onto his side, skidding across the ground at Ash like a discarded hockey puck. Ash summoned his vines again and they wrapped around the injured man's legs tightly before he got a chance to get up. Ash began to pivot in place, swinging the massive man around and around until he eventually got airborne. The Donphan hybrid squealed unhappily. Once he was going fast enough, Ash's vines released the hybrid's ankles and sent him flying at Avarice. Avarice sighed and created a wall of light in front of him. The man's body hit the wall hard, but neither the wall or Avarice budged. The man slumped to the ground, unconscious.
"Pathetic." Avarice snorted. "I expected better, really."
"Rule number one, jackass." Ash said, panting and holding onto his bleeding arm as the vines retreated into his body. "Always check the type advantage before sending a Pokemon into the field."
"Indeed." Avarice sighed. "However, there are some other factors that can come into play. More personal aspect, in fact." He reached to his side and grabbed a pokeball, recalling the Donphan hybrid. "I would actually like to apologize for what I'm about to do next, Mr. Ketchum. I take no pride in it, but you have forced my hand."
"More of your big talk, Avarice?" Ash asked. He pulled his hand away from the wound and dropped a revolver bullet onto the ground with an echoing clink. His wound was still open, but healing quick. "You are failing to intimidate me."
"No, I'm afraid this is more than intimidation." He reached to his side and pulled out another pokeball. "This is merely playing to your weaknesses." He tossed the pokeball onto the floor. "Grimer!" He called out. "I choose you!" The ball opened up and a red beam shot into the air, forming into a goopy mess in the center of the room.
"A poison type?" Ash asked as the red beam faded and left a purple glob of sludge. "That's not one of my weaknesses."
"No all weaknesses are type-based, Mr. Ketchum." Avarice said. Ash cocked his head in confusion as he looked at the Grimer. It had no discernable face, which Ash found very odd. He stared for a bit before the violet sludge parted where Ash assumed the head to be. In a strange twist, there was a mostly human, probably female face hidden behind the veil of grime. Ash's eyes widened and he choked on the air he was breathing.
"Ash?" The Grimer asked weakly, her voice bubbling like she was gargling with crude oil. "Is that you?"
"M-mom?" Ash whispered. His hands began to shake and he took a step back. "No. No, this can't…this can't be…no…"
"Ash. Oh, my dear boy." Delia Ketchum put her sludgy hands to her mouth. "You really are alive…"
"Mom. Oh God, Mom." Ash's voice was unsteady as he reached out one hand.
"My little boy…" She garbled, oozing closer to Ash.
"I didn't devolve her past the point of speech. I wanted to allow you two to have the chance to say goodbye. I'm not a total monster." Avarice said, smiling sadly. "Okay, Grimer. You know what you have to do."
"No…no, no, no. Not against my Ash." She stared back at Avarice. The cold, unfeeling expression in his eyes was enough of an indication. She turned back to Ash worriedly. "ASH! RUN!"
"Wh-what?" Ash asked, still flabbergasted by the sight of his mother as a Grimer.
"Grimer, Sludge Bomb attack!" Avarice called out. Delia lifted her arms and, with a look of pure torture on her face, began to shoot globs of purple gunk at Ash.
"Whoa!" Ash yelled and jumped back as two globs hit the ground and began to eat away at the metal floor. He stared in shock for just a second before moving out of the way of another blob of sludge
"Run, Ash!" His mother yelled at him as she fired out sludge bombs. "I am so sorry!"
"Avarice, you BASTARD!" Ash screamed as he rolled out of the way of another hunk of grime. "I'm going to kill you!"
"Not before you kill my Pokemon." Avarice said. "Grimer, keep using Sludge Bomb."
"No, no, no…" Delia kept muttering to herself as she continued her assault on her son. Ash dodged the chunks of poisonous goop as he ran toward his mother. He could stop her, he knew he could. He had to.
He ducked under two close shots and closed the gap between them. He grabbed his mother's arms and held them apart. Her oozing sludge-like skin burned the palm of his hands and Ash cringed in pain, but he quickly fought past it. "Ash…" His mother said sadly, staring at her son with moist eyes. She continued to fire out sludge bombs, but they hit the opposing walls. "I missed you so much."
"I'm getting you out of here." Ash said, defiantly.
"Do you really believe that?" Avarice laughed. "You really are a fool. Grimer, Poison Gas."
"Go, Ash!" Delia screeched at her son as the flaps and folds of her murky skin exuded a violet gas that permeated the air. Ash quickly dropped his mom's arms and he pulled his shirt up over his mouth and nose. The gas still stung his eyes and Ash knew he had to get out.
"Sludge Bomb attack again!" Avarice commanded. Ash dove backward from his mother as her stubby arms stretched forward again and began to fire globs of grime again. Ash performed a backwards somersault as the goop flied over his head and he continued to roll around, dodging globs of acidic goo before he left the poison cloud.
"I'm sorry Ash! I can't stop!" Delia cried out, tears streaming down her face.
"I understand!" Ash yelled at her and turned to Avarice. "YOU! You are fucking dead!" He screamed. He sidestepped a pair of flying sludge bombs, and then his vines shot into the air again, wrapping around a rafter between the two men. Ash shot up into the air as the vines reeled him up then he stopped halfway, and swung at Avarice, his feet out and legs straight. Avarice sighed and created a wall of light in front of him. Ash collided with the invisible obstruction with a loud crack. Ash grunted in pain; it felt like he just ran full speed into an actual wall. His vines let go of the beam and fell to the ground harmlessly, as did Ash's body.
"Oh come on. Did you really think that was going to work? Seriously?" Avarice scoffed. "You are slipping Ketchum."
"Fuck you!" Ash rose to his feet in a flash and grabbed at Avarice's neck. Avarice was faster, however, and snatched Ash by his own throat first. Ash coughed and gagged as Avarice tightened his grip.
"You're too slow." Avarice said.
"And, ironically, you're too predictable." Ash sputtered. Ash's vines flew into the air, wrapping around a beam, and Ash lifted his body into the air so he was horizontal with Avarice's grip. Two sludge bombs that were aimed at Ash hit Avarice square in the chest. The man immediately let go of Ash and stumbled back. The acidic blobs of poison began to eat away at his clothes and Avarice quickly discarded the shirt before the poison could get to his skin.
"Grimer! Stop the Sludge Bombs!" He yelled. Ash took this opportunity to drop to his feet and use his vines to grab Avarice's arms. The preoccupied man, stared in shock that he had been duped and before he could properly recover, Ash pulled him onto the room, twirled him around, and chucked him through the air. Avarice body collided with a rack of chemicals in beakers and he fell to the ground, covered in odd substances.
"That won't hold him for long!" Ash yelled and used his vines to wrap around his mother's arms, pulling her toward him quickly.
"Ash!" Delia exclaimed as she flew through the air toward her son.
"Come on! We have to hurry before he can issue another command! Cover your ears!" Delia obediently put her hands up over her ears, or where Ash assumed her ears should be and pulled her along as they ran through the halls.
Avarice got to his feet slowly a few moments later, so shocked that he had actually been tricked. He hadn't felt true pain for such a long time it was a shock to his system. He looked around the room but saw both Ash and Delia were gone. He screamed in rage and chucked an unbroken beaker against the wall, shattering in into a thousand pieces. He seethed for a few seconds before taking a deep breath and standing up straight. He adjusted his gloves and slicked back his hair. He could see them both in his mind's eyes and it would only be a matter of time before he found them. There was no rush. He took a moment to compose himself further, and then marched out of the room in a civilized manner.
Ash yanked open the door to a supply closet, dragged his mother into the room with him and slammed the door shut. He leaned against a wall and took a deep breath. "Are you all right?"
"I'm better now that I'm with you again, Ash." Delia said softly. She started to move in to hug her boy, but thought better of it and kept her distance, or at least as much distance as the closet allowed. "I thought you had died. I thought for sure…" She started to sob again, the tears mixing with the sludge of her body.
"Mom…" Ash muttered sadly. He was unable to say anymore. The adrenaline he was surviving off of was wearing thin and the reality of the situation hit him like a sack of bricks. He really looked at his mother for the first time. Her face was intact, but that was all of her that remained. The rest of her body was gone in a sea of sludge. Ash couldn't even touch her without it burning at his skin.
"I'm so glad…I got to see you…one more time…" Her words were scattered among her sobs.
"I'm getting you out of here, mom." Ash said. "That's why we need to go now. Avarice will be able to find us easily so we can't stay in one pla-"
"No." Delia shook her head. "That's not going to work."
"What? What do you mean?"
"Ash, honey." Delia's words were soft, but painful. "I'm Avarice's pokemon now. I belong to him. He commands me as he wishes."
"We got away once, we can keep you away." Ash insisted. Delia shook her head.
"He will use me to kill you, Ash. I can't let that happen, don't you see?"
"Mom…don't talk that way." Ash commanded her angrily. "You're leaving this place alive! Understand?!"
"You know as well as I do that there is very little chance of that happening. Avarice controls me." Tears started to flow down her face anew. "I don't want to kill my son."
"Mom…but what…you can't…how…" Ash spurted out questions, not knowing how to ask the one thing that burned at his mind.
"Ash…my boy…I need you to free me." She said, trying to put it delicately.
"WHAT?!" Ash screeched, backing against the wall. "NO! NO WAY!"
"There's no other way." Delia said softly.
"I'm not going to kill my own mother!" Ash yelled at her angrily. "How can you possibly suggest that? Do you think I'm even capable of doing that?" His eyes radiated hurt as he searched hers for an answer. The answer he got was not the one he had hoped for. Her silence told him everything. "Oh God…"
"Every moment of my life is nothing but pain, Ash." Delia said softly. "Searing pain both physical and mental. Do you need me to tell you everything Avarice has done to me? Both before and after the mutation?"
"No." Ash croaked weakly. "I don't want to know."
"And I don't want to live this way anymore. And I certainly don't want to be Avarice's tool anymore." She reached out and touched Ash's arm. It burnt like Hell, but Ash hardly felt it at that point. "There's only one way to free me."
"Mom…" Ash sputtered, hoping he could come up with something, anything that could dissuade her. But he had nothing. She was right. She was horribly, terribly right.
"I wouldn't ask you to do this unless it was necessary. You know that, right?" Delia asked, carefully choosing her words.
"Yeah." Ash whispered. "Yeah, I do."
"Okay." She let go of his arm and leaned back against the wall. "I am sorry for this Ash. I'm sorry for all of this."
"It's not your fault, Mom." Ash said weakly, choking back his tears. He took off his shirt and wrapped it around his hand. "I'm sorry I can't save you. I'm sorry I let you down."
"You did no such thing." His mother garbled with her sludgy voice. "I am proud of you, Ash." Her words made Ash feel even worse as he pressed his clothed hand to his mother's sternum.
"This will hurt for a short bit." Ash instructed her, trying to keep his voice level.
"I know." His mom assured him. Ash took a deep breath and looked his mom in the eyes.
"I will kill Avarice for you. I swear to God. He is a dead man." Ash growled. Delia smiled and this time, it wasn't sad.
"Right then…you looked just like your father." She said happily.
"I can't wait any longer." Ash said weakly. "Another minute and I will lose my nerve."
"Then go ahead." Delia instructed him. Ash nodded and bit his lip as he felt the razor leaves travel up his arm. His wrist burst open and the leaves tore through the shirt wrapped around his hand and fired into Delia's body. She shook and convulsed from the hits as the leaves tore apart her insides. Her hands involuntarily grabbed at his arms. Ash didn't care at that point. He couldn't help but stare at the pained expression her eyes and the rivulets of blood the leaked out of her mouth and down her lips. Tears formed at his eyes and streamed down his cheeks and he watched his mother die in his arms.
Finally, the assault of sharp projectiles ended and Ash pulled his hand away. A large pool of blood was formed around her abdomen. Ash gulped back the bile that was threatening to expel itself from his throat. He looked into his mother's face again. The pain in her eyes was gone replaced by a look of relief.
"Thank you for freeing me, Ash." She said, coughing up blood as she spoke. "I…I love you, my son." Her last words garbled out as her head fell back and her eyes rolled into her head. Her hands lost their grip on Ash's arms. She went slack against the wall and slumped to the ground, the last traces of life leaving her body.
"I love you too." Ash whispered to the dead body. His chest shook a few times and he let out a few choked cries into the sudden silence. Then he dropped to his knees and began to bawl his eyes out, crying and screaming to the walls. He felt empty, like he was drained of all he cared about. James was right: Ash didn't know what he was talking about that day at Jessie's grave. He couldn't survive the pain of killing someone he cared about. All Ash wanted to die was curl up in a ball and die.
But he couldn't. Not yet. Not while Avarice was still alive. Ash felt the rage of his Pokemon side come to a boil. He wanted vengance. He wanted justice. He wanted blood. The anger eroded Ash's mind and he willfully let the floodgates open and allowed himself to embrace the dark side of his animal instincts once more. His blood red eyes filled with hate as he cried into the steel floor. Avarice would find him soon, and then he would have his revenge.
But for now…he had just enough time to mourn for his mother. He looked up at her dead body, slumped in a corner in a pool of her own blood, and he began crying all over again.
To Be Continued…
How many people hate me right now? I wonder how many people forgot about Delia? And those who remembered, how many expected this? I'm guessing not many. Ash killing his own mom...yikes. Did anyone see James' comments in chpater 17 as foreshadowing? Because it definitly was. Poor Ash...looks like he's reached the point of no return, just like James. Too bad...I was beginning to like the guy.
But! This chapter also marks the death of Clayton! No character has been more hated or despised than him and I can only assume his death was followed by cheers. Funny story, Clayton started the series as a comic relief. Annoying as hell, but ultimately harmless. When he turned into a cold, unfeeling, dastradly monster, I was surprised, but liked how he turned out. He was my favorite character to write, because he angered so many people. And now he's finally dead. His death may seem a bit of a cop-out because he dies like a punk, but that's really what he deserved.
Now, once again, your list of moves:
Ash's Move List - Vine Whip, Razor Leaf, Toxic, Solarbeam
Avarice's Move List - Foresight, Reflect, Dream Eater, Psychic
Delia's Move List - Sludge Bomb, Posion Gas
Well, next time is the big one. One last update. The grand finale. The series closer. The conclusion of Hybrids: Outbreak! It's been a long road, and I'm thankful for every one of you readers! I look forward to finally giving you some closure. See you at the end!