Summary – Years in the future, Ash Ketchum is an agent of the Pokémon League sent to investigate the disappearance of an old friend. The evidence leads him to Cerulean City, fatal battles and a deadly conspiracy that could threaten all he holds dear. Pokeshipping.
A/N – There are flashbacks interspersed throughout the whole story. They do tie into the overall development of the story-line. So be vigilant, every little detail is crucial. Enjoy.
All We Know Is Falling
d i n o b o t
Chapter 1 – All We Know
"I hate these things."
Ash swallowed nervously as he fidgeted with his tie. He undid the top button of his new dress shirt, allowing him to breathe. Ash never liked ties, suits or anything fancy; but today was different. Ash cautiously peered away from his newly shined shoes and looked around.
Within his company were dozens of people, some he knew and some he didn't—all wearing black. Ash worked his way through the densely packed crowd. He stopped and carefully lifted his hand, placing it on the shoulder of another boy.
"I'm sorry," he said solemnly.
The other boy turned around, his spiky brown hair bent in the light dusky breeze.
"Hi, Ash," he said softly. "Thank you for coming."
"No problem, Gary," Ash responded by shaking his head. The two remained in an awkward pause. Ash was never good in delicate social situations. A mere apology seemed cliché but a hug might be too forward. He elected to break the silence regardless.
"I'm sorry for your loss. I really am," he finally said.
"Yeah, I know you are," Gary nodded. "Grandpa was a wonderful man – smart and brilliant. My father was never around and he was like a father to me, you know?"
"I know. He was like a father to me too. He did so much for me and my family. Professor Oak started me on my dream to become a Pokémon Master. His guidance throughout the years is invaluable. He even kept my Mom company when I was away."
"Yep, that's Gramps," Gary chuckled. "He was kind and always did the right thing."
Ash nodded in agreement. Another uneven silence carried itself between them. This time Gary dismissed it.
"I'm gonna miss him," Gary said, smiling through his newly forming tears. "I don't know what to do next" he wiped them away.
"Well, the lab is still in your family's name, isn't it? Maybe you can continue running it."
Gary sighed; the notion of filling the shoes of the renowned Samuel Oak was a daunting task. The Professor was widely known and well respected as evidence of the distinguished attendees present at his funeral. Various Professors from other regions, Gym Leaders and League Officials were there all mixed in with his many friends and colleagues.
"I don't know, Ash. I mean, there's so much to do to run that lab. Sure, I was Grandpa's intern for a while so to speak, but he did most of the heavy research. I just followed his lead. He taught me all I know," Gary placed the palm of his hand on his forehead. "Not to mention there's the bills, upkeep, Pokémon to take care of, maintenance—" Gary trailed off despondently.
"I'm sure you'll do fine," Ash reassured him.
His solace did not alleviate his concern, but it did lead to a powerful realization. Gary confidently lifted up his head and beamed.
"Grandpa would've wanted me to continue," Gary exclaimed. "I owe it to him to carry on his legacy; it would make him happy. I want him to be proud of me."
"I bet he is."
"People will see," Gary whispered. "I'll carve out an even greater legacy than Grandpa did. I'm going to accomplish more. I'm going to be better—" he turned to Ash, eyes burning zealously. "You'll be there right, Ash?"
"Sure, you got it!"
"Grandpa was like a father to you too, Ash. Do you know what that makes us?"
Ash thought for a moment; "Uh—Family?"
"Brothers," he corrected him, extending his hand. Ash gratefully shook it.
"Well, I better go. I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow," Ash said gesturing to his ride outside.
"Oh right," Gary smirked, embarrassed for his temporary lapse in memory. "So, when you're done with the League's training you'll be what, a Pokémon Ranger?"
"Nah, when I'm done the Rangers will be calling me 'sir,'" he boasted, pointing to his chest.
The two laughed, shared a quick friendly goodbye and parted.
THREE YEARS LATER
Pikachu yelled his name as electrical energy sparked from the small red circles on his cheeks. The electric attack surged from the yellow rodent's body, shattering a small target in the middle of the floor. Pikachu weaved his way through a series of small rings then high-jumped off a platform. As he fell another target rose from the ground. Pikachu somersaulted in the air, perfectly landed and swiped the air with an Iron Tail attack. The last target lay in pieces on the floor.
Ash ran beside Pikachu forcing through his own set of obstacles. He climbed up and over a small wall. He flipped off and landed softly on a thin balance beam. Ash crossed it with a series of acrobatic flips and spins then sprung himself onto a giant mat; gasping a long wooden staff. He twirled it evenly between his fingers as five mechanical pillars rose from the ground and surrounded him. Ash spun the staff between his hands and attacked. Using three fluid motions he struck all five pillars cleanly. A small mechanical 'ding' echoed through the training room signifying the course's completion.
Ash walked to a control panel steadily rising from the floor and tapped a few buttons, eagerly watching the display panel.
Agent: Ash Ketchum
Level of difficulty: Hard
Completion time: 18.02 seconds – new record
Collective targets hit: 20/20 – new record
Ash smirked, wiping the beads of sweat from his brow. He turned to his Pokémon trotting up beside him.
"Well Pikachu, shall we go again?"
"Piiikaa—" Pikachu shook his head and fell to the floor completely exhausted.
The doors to the training room slid open as another joined them. The figure remained in the threshold and crossed his arms.
"I should've known you'd be here," he mumbled.
"Hey, Brock," Ash said as he placed Pikachu on his right shoulder. "What's up?"
"What's up?" Brock repeated annoyed. "Ash, do you have any idea what time it is?"
"Sure I do," he shrugged confidently looking at his wrist watch. "It's almost 6:3—Oh," he trailed off as he realized the actual time – 11:45pm.
"Do you remember a little appointment we had earlier tonight?"
"Uh—yeah," Ash uneasily rubbed the back of his head. "Sorry about that."
"We had a double date, you and I. Remember, Joy was going to set you up with one of her friends? We all waited forty-five minutes at the restaurant for you to show. Don't tell me you've been here for the last five hours! I bet you don't even have your phone on you, huh?"
"Uh, no," Ash stammered. His ignorance only pushed Brock further.
"Relax, Brock," Ash said wiping sweat off his face with a small towel. "I lost track of time, that's all. I just forgot."
"Ash, this is the second time this month you've done this to us!"
"What's your point?" he dumbly started back.
"We all appreciate your work ethic but you're too consumed in it. It's okay to take a break. It's okay to come up for air once in a while, you know."
"I know that," Ash stoically answered.
"No you don't! You've almost never been outside Pokémon League Headquarters for anything social. Remember the Pokémon League function in Vermillion City a while back?"
"What about it?" Ash asked rolling his eyes.
"It was a big deal, Ash. You blew us off that time too! The League made it clear that every employee was supposed to attend, especially agents. People were really counting on you to show up!"
"Like who? Who was missing me there? All those functions are boring and tedious anyways!!"
"Uh, look that's not important," Brock dismissed the question. "You just don't get it Ash. People were counting on you and you let them down."
Ash remained silent. The evidence overwhelmingly stacked itself in Brock's favor. He could not deny it even for a young man as dense as Ash Ketchum. He was the only agent in the Pokémon League who never took a vacation day or a leave of absence. He only left the Indigo League Complex for mandatory field exercises and assignments. His life the last three years essentially was work, training, eating and sleeping. He had little room for a personal life, especially for…
Ash lowered his head. "Look Brock, I'm just really busy right now; that's all. Can we just let it go?"
Ash's response did not satisfy his friend, but he slowly nodded and forgave his latest infraction. It was a lost cause. Brock walked towards the exit but stopped in the threshold forcing the sliding doors to remain open.
"Just promise me something, Ash," back still against him. "Promise me you'll try to be more balanced. You're a good agent but the great ones find the balance."
He left, the doors closed and so did their conversation.
"Well buddy, what do you want to do next?" Ash looked to his Pokémon still snoozing peacefully on his shoulder. Ash chuckled and shook his head.
"I guess we kinda overdid it, didn't we Pikachu?" he asked again knowing full well Pikachu wasn't listening.
Ash continued walking down the hallway. He wasn't tired despite his five hour training workout. He was wide awake and full of energy. They entered into a large employee lounge. Ash delicately placed the slumbering Pikachu on a small couch and made his way towards the refrigerator. He took a cold water bottle, twisted off the top and halfway guzzled it down in one sitting. He wiped off a stray line of water running from the corner of his mouth with his forearm.
A gathering crowed caught his attention. Various employees huddled around a large flat screen television mounted on the wall furthest from him. The commotion intensified as Ash approached.
"Hey, what's goin' on?" he asked, squeezing himself through the closely knit crowd. A dozen people awarded his inquiry by simultaneously shushing him. Ash frowned and focused his attention to the television.
BREAKING NEWS: "In case you've just joined us – Pallet Town's Researcher Gary Oak is missing. Authorities have declared him missing since this afternoon…"
"Gary?" Ash whispered.
The television screen panned to a shot of Pallet Town and then to the Pokémon Lab. A few officers were shown setting up a perimeter of the lab with yellow police tape; even Officer Jenny was there with a notepad questioning various bystanders in the background.
The skinny attractive reporter spoke again: "There are still some preliminary reports coming in, but the local police force is stating there are no witness and no suspects as of yet—no word if this has any Team Rocket involvement. No word yet on an official statement from the Pokémon League Headquarters. A source says the Elite Four will continue waiting until they decide on an agent to investigate the situation..."
The reporter went on: "Gary Oak comes from a highly respected family line of Pokémon Researchers. He assumed the lead researcher in Pallet when his grandfather Professor Samuel Oak sadly passed away three years ago…"
Ash pulled himself out of the crowd. He walked to the couch and gently took his seat beside his sleeping Pikachu. He tilted forward and stared at the tile floor.
"This is it," he said in an undertone. "This is my chance!"
Ash rose and ran down the hallway. He decided to leave Pikachu on the coach. He knew full well the consequences of waking an exhausted electric Pokémon.
Ash reached the elevator at the end of the corridor and pushed the button to the top floor. The doors opened then shut, and hummed its way to the highest level of the complex. A small 'ding' sounded as Ash rushed out of the elevator. He pushed through a swinging glass door and crept passed a small receptionist desk. A large set of metal doors stood before him.
RESTRICTED: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY
He turned around; starting him in the face was a tall blond receptionist with glasses. Ash gulped and stepped back.
"Young man, what do you think you're doing?" she looked him up and down.
"I need to see them."
"You know the rules," she pointed at a clipboard with a list of names attached to it. "You have to make an appointment just like everyone else!"
"Look, I don't have time for that!" Ash shouted. "It'll just take a second!" He turned and headed toward the doors.
"Hey, wait right there!"
Ash burst the doors open and entered into a dark room. The only source of light emitted from a skylight on the ceiling, letting just enough moonlight to illuminate a large elevated table. Four figures speaking inaudibly stopped with the sudden interruption.
"What's the meaning of this?" one of them yelled.
"I'm so sorry, masters" the receptionist bowed respectfully. "He wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. I tried to stop him—"
The four distinct figures murmured among themselves. Finally, one raised a hand.
"Its fine, you may leave us."
The receptionist politely bowed again and closed the doors. They echoed loudly as they closed like a rusty door to a jail cell.
"Agent Ketchum," Agatha's voice coldly addressed him. "This is highly unorthodox."
Ash swallowed nervously. "I know it is. I—I needed to speak with the four of you."
"Oh, and what would we have to talk about?" Agatha rose. She clutched her petrified wooden cane in her wrinkled grasp.
Ash swallowed hard again. He did not think this through. "I'm sure you already know about the news from Pallet. I want to be sent on that assignment."
"Agent Ketchum, the rules are clear," Lorelei reminded him in a soft voice, her glasses reflected in the ghostly moonlight. "Assignments are chosen by the four of us. Agents must bend to the will of the council."
"I realize that, but I—"
"But you don't, Ash!" Bruno interrupted him in a low husky tone. "If you did, you would wait for our decision and respect it!"
Ash stood in silence. The four masters coldly stared back at him.
"I'm ready," he firmly said. "I know you don't have faith in me, but this is something I can do—trust me!"
"Trust?" Lorelei responded. "Agent Ketchum, trust is earned not given freely."
"Frankly, you've given us no reason to trust you with a high priority assignment like this," Agatha said in a crackled voice.
"You've never given me one! Every mission you've sent me on are all small. What did I do? Why won't you let me on this assignment?" Ash raised his voice impatiently.
"Young man, every assignment is an important one!" Bruno roared. His intensity silenced the debate.
"Ash," the last figure steadily rose, flinging his cape behind him. "The reason why we are not giving you this assignment is because we have already chosen another agent."
"Oh," Ash trailed off. "Who is it?"
"Right behind you, Ash."
Ash turned around. A male figure with shiny purple hair stepped from the shadows.
"Paul…" Ash grumbled.
"Paul is a fine agent" Lance said. "He has succeeded in every mission he's been assigned. We've chosen him to lead this investigation."
"Him?" Ash defiantly retorted. "Paul's from Sinnoh, he doesn't know the Kanto Region like I do. Plus, this happened in Pallet, my home town. Who better to lead the investigation than me?"
"Your objections are noted," Agatha waved a stern finger. "But our decision is final."
Ash lowered his head, his bangs hid his eyes. A defeated paused hovered in the cold air.
"Hold on a moment," Lance finally said. "Agent Ketchum has a point."
"I—I do," Ash stammered.
"As qualified as Paul is he still needs to know the surroundings. Perhaps it would be prudent to send two agents on this mission. Ash knows the territory, he could prove useful." The other three Masters nodded in agreement. They dare not object to Lance's request.
"Then it's settled. Ash will accompany Paul on the mission. But let it be known Agent Ketchum, you take your orders from Paul."
"I understand," Ash sighed, peering back to Paul, smiling much to his amusement.
The two quietly exited the room. The giant doors piercingly closed behind them. Ash beat Paul to the glass door and walked ahead of him down the hallway busily belting orders.
"So, I was thinking we could start with the phone records. We need to cross reference the numbers on the lab's list with the list the League has. We need to know who has called within the last six months. I want to know who he's been talking to. Also, get in touch with the local police force; we need to coordinate with them. It's good to find out what they've been doing so far. We'll go to the crime scene first. We'll do some interviews and check the place for anything out of the ordinary. I think there might be security footage we can see and then we'll—whoa!"
Paul grabbed Ash and pulled him back, spinning him around by his shirt.
"Listen, you punk!" Paul snorted. "This is my investigation—mine! You're just here to tag along. If it were up to me I'd be going solo without having to drag you around!"
"What are you saying?" Ash tore his grip from his shirt, "that I'm incompetent, that I don't know what I'm doing? You're wrong; I'm the best agent in this League!"
"Please," Paul sarcastically replied. "The only reason you're on this investigation is because you got sympathy from the Dragon Master. You don't have what it takes, Ash!"
This time Ash grabbed Paul's shirt collar. He unhooked a Pokéball from his belt and enlarged it. "Oh yeah? Let's go right now! I've beaten you before and I can do it again!"
"Ash, I'm not going to battle you," Paul stated calmly.
Paul laughed. "Scared? No, I'm not scared." He loosened himself from Ash's tight grip. "Ash, nobody is questioning your skills. You finished the entry level training and advanced level training in half the time it took everyone else. All your Pokémon are fully trained and capable. You've completed every assignment at near perfect efficiency. Hell, if I took a look at the training logs they'd tell me that you spend the most time in there. Everyone knows it!"
"Then why?" Ash demanded the answer.
Paul pointed to Ash's head. "Its not here that's the problem; it's—" his finger gradually lowered to his chest. "Here."
They both remained silent.
"You could never separate your feelings from the task; that's why they didn't consider you. Your stupid heart gets in the way of what needs to be done. You're a liability; the League doesn't want you to compromise the mission." Paul arrogantly smirked again. "That's why they wanted me, to get the job done right. Let me do the job I was actually assigned to do."
"Fine," Ash mumbled under his breath. He would submit—this time.
"That's better," he nodded happily. "The Elite Four has already briefed me on the mission. They gave me all the intelligence they had on the situation."
"Really?" Ash asked, walking beside him. "Is Team Rocket behind this?"
"From what I've gathered, it most likely is. Giovanni is up to his old tricks again."
"But why would they kidnap Gary?" Ash wondered.
"That's the million dollar question," Paul reiterated. "But we won't know that until we get to Pallet Town and find some hard evidence. You know the drill – the plane goes up in an hour. Get your gear together, four Pokémon and be ready on platform 'D.'
"Got it," he walked the opposite way.
"And Ash..." Paul stopped him. "Try to keep up."
"Don't worry about me—I can take care of myself!" The two separated as the hallway forked into two different paths.
Ash ran. He forgot Pikachu on the couch! He darted from the elevator down through the hallway. His eagerness outgained his balance as he came sliding down the tile toward the sleeping Pikachu.
Horrible idea, Ash.
Ash fell to the ground. Pikachu poked his nose over the couch at his electrified trainer. Ash groaned and regained his balance. Pikachu cooed an apology.
"It's alright, buddy," Ash assured him. "I should've known better."
Ash extended his arm, allowing Pikachu run up it and rest on his head. The two made their way outside the complex and headed to the living quarters. Ash opened the door to his two bedroom apartment and walked inside. Pikachu jumped off his head and immediately ran to the kitchen in search of a midnight snack.
Ash walked to his desk; he stared at a silver medium size case holding a dozen Pokéballs. His hand reluctantly hovered over the case, then finally selected three Pokéballs and attached them to his belt.
Ash opened the front desk drawer. As he flipped through some papers, one dropped from the pile and danced its way to the ground. He bent down to pick it up. The paper was old, creased and wrinkled. Ash sighed, wondering why in the world he kept this stupid thing.
Unfolding it, Ash read the letter carefully from beginning to end; from "Ash, its…" to the ending word "Misty."
Without a word, he folded the paper back up and slid it in his pocket. Ash called Pikachu, exited his apartment and shut the door behind him.
A man walked down a cold metal hallway dressed in a black jump suit. He wore gray gloves and boots with a small "R" stitched on the chest. He reached a large set of sliding doors with another giant "R" painted red on them. He tapped in a seven digit key-code on the panel next to it. The doors granted access, allowing him inside.
The room was completely dark. He walked a few feet from the entrance, knelt down and bowed his head. The doors slid shut cutting off the only source of light. A series of red lights turned on revealing a sinister looking figure covered in the shadows.
"You wanted to see me, Boss?" the Rocket grunt humbly asked.
"I want an update on your progress!" the figure demanded.
"We're close to completion; we've just had a little hang up," he nervously responded.
"WHAT?! A little hang up?!" the Boss shouted. The Rocket henchmen quivered in fear. "Didn't the stolen information help with the progress?"
"Y-yes, sir" the Rocket stammered. "But, we still can't find a Pokémon to complete the process. We've tried so many but every trial run has proved unsuccessful. What should we do, sir?"
The figure released an agitated groan. "There is one option," an eerie smile crept across his face. "Take your men and head to Cerulean City. Execute plan B."
"Yes, sir. I'll dispatch our team as soon as possible," the Rocket obediently replied.
"Good—oh, and how is our prisoner?"
"He's in our brig, sir."
"Excellent, make sure he stays there" he said, giving a menacing grin. "Our plans are almost complete."
The Rocket grunt walked out of the room as fast as he could, shuddering to the insidious laughter echoing throughout the compound.
"Nothing can stand in my way now!"
TO BE CONTINUED
"This isn't what you wanted…" – All We Know, Paramore