Light momentary blinded Ash as he woke to the sound of screams. Confused, Ash tried to locate the source before he realized it was indeed him that the screams were coming from. Shutting his mouth to stop the loud noise, Ash had to bite back a sob as the pain hit him all at once.
"…hurts," he mumbled, tears falling from his eyes at an alarming rate.
Spasms wracked his body as he continually twitched, small cries escaping his mouth. Worse than the pain was the feeling of being so weak. Biting his lip to stop his cries, the opposite happened as an even louder scream escaped with quite a few drops of blood.
Running his tongue over his bloodied teeth, Ash's vision finally cleared as his eyes bulged. He had fangs! Tongue exploring more of his mouth, Ash realized he had four sharp teeth located on his top and bottom canines. Eyes swiveling around, Ash finally focused on the serious Giovanni.
"What's wrong with me?" he gasped out, pain shooting throughout his body with each word.
"There is nothing wrong with you," Giovanni said, his eyes hard. "Everything is becoming right."
Ash closed his eyes and turned his head away. Feebly, he tried to get his wrists free. Suffice to say with how weak and painful Ash's body was, he failed within a single minute.
"Still fighting, is he?" a voice asked.
Ash didn't bother to look at whoever was talking, instead trying to focus on what was going on. Bright lights glared down on him, causing Ash to wince when he stared into the light more than once. Shifting his weight to try and get a better position on the metal table, Ash grunted as he felt something in between his legs get in the way. Using his body momentum to try and push whatever it was out of the way, Ash almost released a loud wail as a pure shock of pain shot up his butt, spine and finally neck.
"I would suggest not moving, what with the amount of pain you are in," Doctor Lison said, stepping above Ash so that the boy could see his face. "Your body isn't used to its new… parts. Tell me what hurts."
Giovanni moved within Ash's line of sight. Putting his hand on Ash's arm, he pressed down.
"Put down that his arm is in pain," Giovanni said dryly. "Ash, listen very closely to me. We can make this as painful as possible for you, which doesn't bother me, but considering that you are worried for your sake you can either cooperate or continue to ignore us, which thus leads to painful tests."
Ash's glare lessoned, though he still looked murderous. "Everything hurts," he mumbled.
"From which points in your body does the pain come from?" Lison asked patiently.
Ash shrugged before wincing. "My butt hurts."
There was a round of soft laughter from the scientists before Lison said, "That should heal with time, and may provide… useful."
"How would pain in my ass be useful?" Ash demanded. Laughter met his question. Fed up, Ash lifted his head, despite the jolt of pain and gasped. In between his legs was a solid black tail with two white spike like feathers on either side. Shock spread through Ash as he opened his mouth and let out a melodious wail.
The doctors paused in whatever they were doing and Giovanni and Atreus looked at Ash in interest.
"Shut him up," Giovanni demanded. "Give him a sedative to calm his nerves."
Lison quickly injected Ash with a mild sedative, allowing his body to relax and mind to slow. "Lugia's Song," he said wondrously, jotting down a quick note. "Now, Ash, where else are the pains coming from?"
"Fingers…" Ash said moodily, fingers twitching as his mind grew slightly hazy, but not enough for him to drift off.
Lison tapped a finger in interest, ignoring Ash's twitch. "Make sure to get an X-Ray after the subject is calm enough and the side effects stop appearing. What else, Ash?"
"…'Mm back," Ash said, breath hitched as exhaustion hit him.
"Remove the straps," Lison ordered. "Be prepared if he tries to escape."
Ash perked up at that, preparing himself as well. A hand placed under his chin, however, had other ideas. "If you even think about escaping and give these good men a hard time, you can be assured that your beloved pokemon will pay."
Ash jerked back, a look of fear on his face as he nodded carefully. Giovanni's hand moved away and Ash had to quell his instinct of running away as he was released slowly and was helped up. Ash shivered as his body twitched horribly. Once he sat up completely, one of the female scientists gasped. He felt a finger run down the middle of his back and clenched his teeth.
"Amazing, I hadn't expected his body to be able to produce those parts! Even with our science and the DNA, his body's bones and skin can do only so much!"
Annoyed with being unable to see what the big deal was with his back, he turned his neck around and tried to see what the big deal was. His head, unfortunately, was unable to turn far enough.
"Provide the boy with a mirror," Giovanni commanded. "It must be nightmarish for his curious brain to not know what's going on."
Ash scowled at the taller man but still looked at the two mirrors appreciatively as they were positioned. Blinking in surprise, Ash frowned at his back. Ten silver, roundish feathers were positioned on his back, five per side. He touched one with a finger, surprised by how soft they were despite how firmly they were attached to his back.
Ash closed his eyes. What had they done to him?
"Why are you surprised by the feathers?" Atreus asked. "I thought your science was supposed to do anything, even provide wings."
Lison threw Atreus an annoyed look. "His bones and skin are merely supposed to mutate. Humans already have a tail bone, and in this case it would grow to what the DNA provides." He tapped Ash's tail thoughtfully, ignoring the dark scowl. "Wings can be mutated from both the spine and the ribs for a dragon type or a Charizard. Pidgeot was pushing it, but as his fingers were to mutate almost like a bats, feathers would be provided with science."
"But the feathers on his back, where did they come from?" Giovanni asked, running his finger over the feathers.
Ash tried to scoot away but a jerk from both his tail and feathers made him stop.
"There isn't much research on Lugia, I'm afraid," Lison said thoughtfully. "There are no X-Rays of the giant sea guardian, but there are rumors that the hard feathers on its back help it to swim and fly, even providing a psychic aura or awareness. We might know more once we take an X-Ray."
Ash shook as he ran a hand through his hair, gasping as he felt a long spike in his hair. Looking in the mirror, there did appear to be a stiff black horn feather that disappeared into his head perfectly. As Ash looked closely, it seemed even his eyes had changed. They had narrowed, his pupils almost becoming slits and the chocolate brown now had a hint of red.
Ash hid his face in his hands, feeling sharp claws on his nails appear suddenly but not even bothering to check them out. A scientist, on the other hand, didn't feel or even care about his sorrow as his hand was pulled away and looked at by the general audience.
"Claws?" Atreus commented, that bloodthirsty look more evident than ever.
Lison sighed. "Perhaps wings were trying to break through at some point but failed, instead causing his bones to grow irregularly and form claws." He looked frustrated for a moment. "Get the boy ready for X-Rays!" he barked. "We need answers now."
Ash was forced onto his back with little to no warning, causing him to grunt as another shock of pain ran through his body.
"How long before the pain is gone?" Giovanni demanded.
Lison gave a nervous laugh. "We have been working on the boy for twelve hours, sir," he said, causing Ash's eyes to widen. "It might take two days to a week, but considering that he's now part pokemon… perhaps a day might be all that's needed. We will provide him with potions and see how that works."
"Make sure you do," Giovanni sneered, watching the screen as Ash was rolled over a few times to get different angles of his body.
"How interesting," Lison said, looking at both the ex-rays and his own notes. "He will have wings, sir, but they won't come in for at least a week. Do you see how his bones are already growing awkwardly here and here?"
Ash watched the doctor point at different points in his body, only now starting to feel how awkward and even how his arms seemed longer than before.
"The bones didn't make it far enough, given the small amount of time. We also mustn't forget that pokemon, even normal types, are given a special power within their body. That power is now inside Mr. Ketchum's body, though when it shall be released is unsure of. Perhaps with that release will come his wings, which I am sure you are anxious about."
"I'm not," Ash muttered, not all that surprised to feel Atreus's firm hand on his head to shut him up.
"His feathers," Lison said, pointing to Ash's back, "appear to have a small bone in them which is connected to his spine. With practice, the boy should be able to move them and figure out their uses."
Ash suddenly had a flashback of when he had ridden of Lugia as they fought against Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres and remembered how the great bird had allowed the feathers to rise, only to be swayed gently by the wind, or be forced against his back before taking the deep plunge into the ocean.
"His feet look changed, though there is nothing obvious to pinpoint how they will react in time or what they will even look like," Lison continued. "Though I guess it will be the same as the wings when the time comes for them to change. They shall change into Lugia's odd feet that resemble both a talon and a flipper."
Ash looked down at his feet and wiggled his toes experimentally, sighing as they appeared normal to him. He didn't know what that scientist was talking about. His feet looked fine!
"His senses?" Giovanni demanded, watching Ash's eyes start to droop, obviously worn out from the whole ordeal.
Lison gave a high pitched cackle. "If I hadn't numbed his senses and mind the sound and lights would have been enough to send him into shock!"
Giovanni sneered. "Make sure nothing becomes a danger to him. I can't have his sense of smell suddenly skyrocket enough to make him useless."
Lison's chuckle wasn't as evil as he gazed at the now asleep Ash on the table and gulped at Giovanni's glare. "His senses should be fine, sir. His brain should catch up within a day; therefore stabilizing his body and making him become used to such intense senses and instincts."
Giovanni nodded. "Good. Atreus," he said, looking at the man. "Be prepared. His training starts tomorrow."
Lison jumped. "Sir, are you sure we should start so early? There may be side effects or mental instability—"
"We are already on our way to Mew Mountain," Giovanni interrupted. "The boy is stronger than you give him credit for, and if problems do arise, they shall be dealt with. Now, prepare him." And with that said, Giovanni left, leaving the scientists to stare at their project.
Atreus looked down at the sleeping boy, eyes narrowing slightly before he too left.
Ash groaned as consciousness slowly made its way back to him. Snuggling deeper into the surrounding blanket, Ash let a single eye open. Plain white walls met his gaze as he slowly eyed the room. Sitting up, Ash winced as his back stretched painfully.
Looking around at the plain room, Ash noticed two doors. One was heavily locked, which he guessed was the exit, and the other led to a small bathroom that contained a sink, shower and toilet.
Looking away from the room, Ash allowed his eyes to settle on his hands. Curling them into half fists, Ash watched as his new claws lengthened, looking both deadly and sharp. Eyes closed in frustration, Ash threw the blankets off him furiously and leapt out of bed, ready to burst out of the room and attack anyone or anything with all he had.
Well, that had been the plan. As soon as Ash jumped out of bed, he forgot that he now had a new limb. Tail curling around his legs, Ash crashed into the tile floor with a painful grunt.
"That went smoothly," Ash grumbled sarcastically, raising himself carefully into a crouching position.
Shivering, Ash realized that all he had on was his black bed pants. Lifting himself up carefully, Ash walked toward the bed slowly, afraid he would crash land on the floor again.
Even with his slow pace Ash did trip.
"Stupid tail!" Ash roared, now rolling around on the floor in a pathetic attempt at wrestling his tail away.
Not only did it hurt when he gave a particularly hard yank, this did nothing to further improve Ash's situation. The best way to get rid of the tail was to chop it off, but as Ash didn't have any sharp objects or want to be in astounding pain, Ash dejectedly admitted to himself that he would need to stop acting stupid on the floor.
"What to do? What to do?" Ash whispered furiously, standing back up carefully.
Taking a tentative step forward, Ash grimaced as his tail brushed against his feet, once again almost tripping him. Closing his eyes in frustration, Ash thought about how Pikachu would walk. The electrical mouse always carried his tail above the ground, not once letting his little feet come into contact with the tail.
Looking at his behind, Ash only just realized how stupid he must look. It would be just his luck for a Team Rocket member to walk in and catch him staring at his butt with a wondrous look as if it told all the worlds secrets.
Huffing, Ash tensed, imagining his tail to move to the left. To his surprise, it moved the exact way he wanted.
"Now move to the right," Ash urged, continuing to stare at the appendage.
After a moment of nothing, Ash groaned in frustration, letting his hand scratch his head in confusion. Perhaps if he tried tensing up again… There! Well, that was easier than Ash thought.
Move to the left…
Move to the right…
Go up and down…
"Ok, enough fooling around," Ash muttered, moving around the room much more gracefully.
Checking the bathroom, Ash scowled at the lack of a window or a device that could help him escape. Running back to the main room that only held the small bed and door, Ash ran at it, pushing against it with all the strength he had.
"Open!" Ash hissed, slamming against the hard metal painfully. To his surprise, the door burst open, and in spurred several Team Rocket members. Ash staggered backwards, watching the black clad Rockets warily.
The one in the front, the probable leader, spoke. "We are here to escort you to Giovanni and his loyal tamer, Atreus." It was obvious from the sneer and crinkled face as he recited his speech, this Rocket was just a bit too jealous of Atreus's position. "Will you be coming with us willingly?"
Ash looked at the five Rocket's in disgust. "Of course not," he snapped, barely letting the last word roll off his tongue before he shot at the door,
knocking the Rocket's away.
"Thought not," one muttered.
"Get him!" another commanded.
The five members attempted to get a firm grasp on Ash, but he fought tooth and nail. Snarling, Ash pushed and pulled against the Rockets, doing surprisingly well as he pushed them away and dragged himself out the door as they attempted to drag him back.
"Damn, he's strong," one grunted.
"It's because of the stupid experiment!" the leader said angrily. "Darn it. Jason!" he finally barked, holding onto Ash's thrashing from with all he had.
"Get it around his neck now!"
"Let me go!" Ash screamed. "Where are my pokemon? You better not have hur—eck!" Ash choked as something thin was forced around his neck.
Before Ash knew it, the force around his neck and the hands on his back pressed him against the wall. Struggling, Ash lashed out with his tail, sending the four Rockets flying. Forcing his way forward, Ash gagged as the fifth Rocket held him still with the choker.
"Don't let go, you fools!" the leader yelled.
Ash turned his head painfully, trying to see what was around his neck. He barely had time to even see the Rocket's grinning face before three more thin pieces of rope were shoved around his head and tightened.
"Get him down… steady," the leader commanded calmly as the four Rockets forced Ash to the ground. The fifth one waited for any sudden movement.
Ash breathed harshly, one eye closed as he lay on his knees on the ground. His open eye traveled to the long poles that were attached to the pieces of rope around his neck. Ash felt his body give a momentary shiver of rage.
They were the same leashes that Pokemon Catchers used on wild pokemon that were giving city people a hard time!
"Get him up slowly… Hold him!" the leader shouted as Ash gave a particularly hard shake, almost managing to dislodge the poles from the Rocket's hands. "Listen closely, boy," leader threatened. "You can either come with us willingly or we can drag you all the way to the boss's room by your neck."
Ash glared, taking hold of two poles with his hands. "I'll never come willingly," he snarled, giving a hard yank.
"Take him," leader commanded.
Ash was more or less dragged out of the room and into a plain white hallway. It seemed the whole building was a boring color.
Ash scrambled to his feet as he pulled against the leashes with his hands and neck, almost choking in the process. His breathing was becoming pitched and his sore body was failing him, but Ash could honestly say that the Rocket's weren't breathing evenly either.
"Grab his tail!" one of the grunts ordered angrily as Ash nailed him right in the chest.
"With what, you idiot?" another snapped. "Rope won't go around it. Just lengthen the pole."
Ash shook frantically as the four poles extended and he was even farther away from the five grunts. He scowled angrily. At least when they were close he could hit them with his tail and shake the poles easier.
"Let me go!" Ash screamed, almost falling to the ground as, in his haste, he swung his tail out wildly and hit his own legs. As he began his decent, the leashes caught his fall, momentarily suffocating him as half his body remained frozen in midair.
The Rocket's dragged him into an elevator as he momentarily lay on his back and held him tightly as they made it to the top. Ash eyed his guards cautiously as he breathed heavily. Shifting over to the left a bit from his crouching position, Ash winced as two ropes jerked him back, ceasing all movements.
"Final level," the leader intoned as the elevator door opened, showing an elaborate room.
Ash barely had time to take in the sight before he was dragged into the room. Fighting frantically, Ash gave a whine as the guards attached the poles to the ground to some metal hooks, forcing him to stay in one place. He could barely move his head an inch. Snarling, Ash slammed his tail on the ground as he glared at Giovanni's sitting form behind a large desk.
To his astonishment, Ash felt the room move and couldn't help but wonder how powerful his tail was. To his disappointment and reluctant relief, Ash realized that the room was indeed moving, but not because of his tail. The room was moving the way one does on an airplane. It was strange that he hadn't felt this sensation before, but Ash assumed it was because of his frantic state.
Glancing out the large window that made up the whole back wall of Giovanni's office, Ash gasped as he realized he was in some sort of flying base as he saw the clouds in the sky passing by. Looking around quickly, Ash could only see various cabinets that held belongings that were probably Giovanni's, computer screens that showed the whole base, a map, a radar system and several other screens.
There were control panels everywhere, all being run by Rocket's. This was obviously the main room, as well as Giovanni's main office where everything was overseen, operated and what drove the giant ship.
Ash shook a bit and grabbed the rope around his neck, feeling it carefully.
It wasn't rope, per se, but it wasn't metal or plastic. He gave it a hard tug, not surprised it didn't break.
"Don't bother trying to break free from the material," Giovanni said at last, coming to stand in front of Ash with his arms folded behind his back and his face stern. "That leash could hold an outraged Salamence." Giovanni paused to assess Ash's angry form. "You do seem to be getting used to your new form. You don't act as if you have a new body; you even seem to be using your new gifts for your benefit."
"This isn't a gift," Ash snarled, slamming his tail to the ground angrily. "This is just messed up." Ash struggled against the leashes, pulling at them fruitlessly. Ash struggled with all his strength before he realized something. "Pikachu," he whispered. "Brock… Dawn… What have you done with my friends?" Ash shouted, fighting with a new vigor.
Giovanni starred down at Ash unmercifully. "They are safe," he said after a moment's pause. "They are unaware you are within Team Rocket's grasp. I could not risk anyone knowing who took you or even realize you were missing."
"Of course they'll miss me!" Ash laughed in triumph. "It's not like we split up where they would think I've simply decided not to meet up with them. They were there the day Atreus attacked us!"
Giovanni smiled thoughtfully. "Ah, Atreus," he murmured. "One of my more talented members. He is very creative with making people disappear without others realizing it."
"What do you mean?" Ash demanded hotly, stubbornly believing that his friends would realize he was gone.
Giovanni waved the question away. "That is not important. Atreus will tell you once I've released you to him."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ash demanded, attempting to back up, momentarily forgetting about his bindings before almost choking again.
"Your training begins now," Giovanni said coldly. "With you, Team Rocket shall take over Mew Mountain and soon, the world."
Ash opened his mouth to speak before snapping it shut when the floor around him and the poles were soon lowered. Ash looked up just before the top above him closed and saw Giovanni's smirking face. Ash grit his teeth as he was put in total darkness as his little box lowered into some unknown room.
Once Ash was lowered to the ground, Ash looked around frantically. He was in an at least twenty foot room both wide and long. It was a dull gray since the whole room was made of metal with strange little openings and coverings surrounding the room. Standing directly in front of him was Atreus.
"Ah, I see our training is about to begin, little weapon," Atreus said, his hands folded behind his back the almost exact same way as Giovanni's.
"Don't call me that!" Ash snapped. "And I'll never help you or your insane boss with Mew Mountain."
Atreus shook his head, giving a small smile. "Don't think about Mew Mountain right now. All that matters is getting you strong and used to your body."
Atreus snapped his fingers and the rope around Ash's neck were
unlatched. The poles fell to the ground before being pulled into a small hold in the ground. Ash looked at Atreus nervously as he rubbed his neck.
"Now that that's out of the way, attack me," Atreus commanded coldly.
"Wha—?" Ash was cut off by a punch to the face. He was sent tumbling. "What was that for!" Ash shouted, rubbing his cheek. All he received was
a kick to the chest that sent him sliding.
"Attack me now!" Atreus shouted, sending shiver's down Ash's spine by the malevolent tone. "Weak little weapon, attack me now!"
"Stop calling me that!" Ash shouted, throwing a punch of his own. Fist almost on Atreus's face, Atreus grabbed Ash's wrist and threw him towards the wall, grinning darkly as he heard the loud grunt.
"Attack me," Atreus demanded coldly, stomping his boot on Ash's back, right in between the feathers.
Ash pushed against the boot, eyes shut and teeth clamped down in rage and exhaustion. Tail swinging like a whip, Ash almost thought he would hit Atreus this time. To his surprise, a large hand caught the limb easily and pulled Ash into the air.
"Let me down," Ash screamed, kicking his legs out awkwardly and trying to use his new claws to scratch at Atreus's legs.
"If you insist," Atreus said mildly, dropping Ash on his head. He didn't give the boy time to recover as he kicked him away.
Atreus continued with this abuse until Ash was nothing more than a bleeding and shaking mess. Ash whimpered as he curled up into a ball, giving a surprised yelp as his tail was picked up.
"Stop it," Ash said weakly, kicking his legs and arms out pathetically. "What have you done with my pokemon and friends?"
Atreus chuckled. "Even after all that all you care bout are your friends and pokemon." He held Ash up by the tail where he hung limply as he stared up at him.
Atreus brought out a controller and pressed a light red button. A part of the floor opened up, revealing a six foot opening full of water. A murky liquid was bubbling slightly as Ash was unceremoniously dropped in.
Ash shot up from the two foot feet of water, coughing and sputtering as he glared at Atreus. "What was that for?" he demanded, rubbing his head. "And I keep saying, where's Pik—mm!"
Atreus covered Ash's mouth with his hand. "Hush, little weapon," he said softly, ignoring Ash's glare. "This is healing water. I can't continue our training when you can barely stand." Carefully, he removed his hand.
"What training? All that happened was you kicking my butt," Ash complained.
"You could have fought back."
"It was pathetic," Atreus sneered. "I've had a harder time taming a Rattata."
Ash scowled. "Not training me," he muttered as Atreus pushing him into the water so that only his head was above the water. He looked up at Atreus warily as he felt his body soon relax, the blood washing off as he could almost feel his cuts and bruises heal. "Where are my friends?" he asked again, this time a soft plea.
"They are safe."
"That's what Giovanni said," Ash snapped, unable to keep control of his anger.
Atreus swatted Ash on the head. "Do learn not to interrupt others, little weapon."
"Stop calling me that!" Ash snarled, only to huff as he was ignored when the man continued on.
"Your friends are unaware that you are even captured," Atreus continued as if Ash hadn't said anything. "My psychic pokemon removed your friends and pokemon's memories of the day I captured you."
"That still doesn't explain why they won't know I'm missing," Ash interrupted, ever the impatient one. Another swat made Ash's head spin.
"New memories were replaced," Atreus explained. "Giovanni could not afford your friends to come searching for you and could not allow Team Rocket to be in possession of your pokemon, knowing you would strive to escape with more strength than you are doing. One always has more will power when trying to save others than trying to get out alone. Your pokemon are with your dear professor back in Pallet Town. The old man and your pokemon are none the wiser of the real reason they were returned."
Ash felt his heart sink. "What… what do they think?"
"If your pokemon and friends were to think back on the situation all they would remember is you talking to them about joining the Elemental League for a while and should split up. It would of course be easy for them to split up as your young friend, Dawn, cares only for ribbons and the older one, Brock, enjoys traveling and only learning to improve future breeding skills."
"What's the Elemental League?" Ash asked, both angry and curious.
Atreus looked surprised. "You're not very informed of the smaller leagues, are you?" He ignored Ash's irritated huff. "The Elemental League is made up of five small islands a bit a ways from the Sinnoh Region. Four islands represent the four main elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire. The fifth, which is in the middle, is the point of registration and where you return once all four badges have been acquired. Someone from the main representative registers you randomly and chooses an island. No previously owned pokemon are allowed, which is exactly why your friends and professor will understand your need to return your pokemon to your home town."
"Wait, how come owned pokemon aren't allowed in that league?" Ash asked, intrigued by this new league.
Atreus sighed at Ash's lack of knowledge. "At each pokemon center on the islands you are given a pokemon benefit to that element before allowed to train while you attempt to find the gym. The main elements are, obiously, Water, Fire, Air and Earth. The islands are vast, despite being smaller than other well known islands. Once all badges are obtained, which is quite hard and many give up, all you can use are the four pokemon given to you in the league."
Ash nodded, blowing on the water softly to see it ripple. "But what about professor Oak? Did you brainwash him too?"
"Of course not," Atreus said patiently. "I had no time for that. All I had was two weeks to track you. If I was late punishment would have been fierce. I was on my last night before I finally caught you." Atreus grinned and patted Ash's head affectionately. "You were a rare one."
Ash slapped the hand away angrily and shot out of the warm tub, his body shaking with rage as water dripped off him and his sleeping pants clung tightly to his legs.
"What gives you the right," Ash ground out, "any of you, to do this to me? Have you done this before?" he demanded.
Atreus looked unconcerned. "What goes on in the science labs are none of my business, though I had heard rumors that two others had been made before you. A young male and female. They were a success, though unneeded and unworthy and were… disposed of."
Ash saw red. "You bastard!" he roared, running at Atreus with as much fury as possible, unaware that his eyes were glowing bight red.
Atreus smirked at the sight, easily dodging each thrown punch and tail attack. He didn't think of it as a graceful tail whip since it was far too jerky for an actual pokemon attack.
Ash screamed as he tried everything he could as he attacked Atreus. As the one-sided battle got longer and longer, Ash got sloppier and tired. Atreus, the ever opportunists, used this to his advantage and beat Ash into the ground.
"Listen very closely, little weapon," Atreus warned. "You need to stop worrying about others and care about yourself. I had my Ditto's transform into you and your Pikachu before having my psychic pokemon temporarily give them your personalities. That is how your professor was fooled when they gave him the phone call. Humans tend to not think of situations such as this and would never suspect anything amiss."
Atreus stepped on Ash's tail to keep him in place on the floor. Ash's feeble kicks and punches to his legs did nothing, especially with his armor. "I assume you would like to know what your friends are thinking, don't you?"
Ash tensed, giving a curt nod as he looked up at Atreus.
"Espeon," Atreus called softly, releasing a pokeball from him shirt pocket.
Ash glared at the purple fox as it appeared in a burst of white light. "Traitor," he whispered venomously, ignoring the narrowed purple eyes.
"Espeon was only doing its job," Atreus tutted. "Espeon, show Ash the memory you placed in his pokemon and friend's minds."
"Esss," Espeon hissed softly, gem glowing.
Ash's eyes grew wide and his body grew slack as he saw a vision erupt in his mind...
The night air was cool and silent with the stars shining brightly. It was a rather perfect night, being as it wasn't really cold. Ash, Dawn and Brock sat around the camp fire while their pokemon lounged by their sides.
"Hey, guys," Ash said, his face thoughtful. "Do you remember that kid in the pokemon center about a day back telling us about the Elemental League?"
Brock frowned. "Really? That's interesting."
"What's interesting?" Dawn asked.
"Just that there aren't a lot of trainers that know of that league as it's rather unpopular with its high failure rate," Brock explained. "But I don't believe I remember him. Go on, Ash."
Ash grinned. "Well, I was thinking of trying it out."
Dawn and Brock looked at each other hesitantly. "I don't know if that would be a good idea," Brock said. "There aren't any pokemon contests for Dawn and you know that I was going to study the various fighting pokemon once we reach Veilstone City for a while."
"Exactly!" Ash said excitedly. "For a while," he repeated slowly. "That will give me plenty of time to check out this Elemental League while you study the fighting types and Dawn wins a new ribbon! We could always meet up later at Pastoria City. You guys know how long we take when we spend time on only one particular thing at a time before moving onto the next thing before heading off to the next city. If we do this, we'll all have enough time and finish quicker."
Brock looked thoughtful while Dawn looked cheerful.
"That's a great idea, actually! Not only will it give me time to do more girl shopping, but we can each focus completely on what we want."
Brock nodded in agreement. "It does seem like a good idea when you put it like that." Brock knocked a fist into his open palm. "I'm up for it. We can keep in contact and just meet up later."
"Great!" Ash said excitedly. "Did you all hear that?" Ash asked the pokemon.
They gave excited cries, each one curious about their next adventure.
"I hate to say this, you guys," Ash said, "but I'm not allowed any pokemon with me. They have strict rules and actually give you specific pokemon that can only be used."
There were outrageous cries and it took quite a few tries to get them to calm down. In the end they all agreed that they would do whatever would make their trainer happy.
"I'm sorry, Pikachu," Ash said to the electrical mouse with a grim tone. "You'll need to go into a pokeball."
Ash sighed. "I know, buddy, but it'll only be for a minute, and I'm sure all our friends back at Professor Oak's will be excited to see you."
"Chu puki," Pikachu sighed before giving a grim nod, though his narrowed eyes clearly expressed his irritation.
The rest of the vision was Ash, Dawn and Brock parting ways before everything went blank and Ash's eyes regained focus. He 'awoke' with a large gasp, his eyes wide as he stared at the floor in horror.
"They honestly… honest… don't…" he stuttered.
"They honestly have no idea what has truly happened," Atreus said as he watched Ash carefully, his foot already removed from Ash's tail.
Ash brought his knees to his chest and tucked his arms around them, his eyes vacant and his mind reeling with thoughts.
"You have no one but yourself, weapon," Atreus said coldly, breaking Ash away from his thoughts. "It won't be long for you to break and serve Team Rocket without question."
Ash narrowed his eyes, tightening himself up in his ball. "Don't call me that," he whispered dangerously.
Atreus smirked as he pulled out a rod. "I believe we shall begin again. You wasted your chance to heal in the tub."
Ash glared as he was sent rolling by the metallic rod. He didn't move as the rod landed on his body while, with each whack, Atreus repeatedly said, "Weapon, weapon, weapon…"
And each time Ash said, "I'm not a weapon, I'm not a weapon, I'm not a weapon…"