Mewtwo stood, poised, atop the very tip of Mount Silver.
His tail coiled lazily, completely unaffected by the wind whipping around him. Both arms were crossed, adding to the pose of supreme indifference to his cold and windy environment.
The world… is, truly, amazing, he thought to himself. From here he could see much of Kanto and Johto, and the contrast was visible – gleaming skyscrapers in several of the cities of Kanto, while Johto was for the most part more… traditional.
But both, of course, were products of humans. Humans, and their complicated and nuanced relationship with nature – and with Pokémon.
He breathed slowly, letting his mind drift, and his senses expand – showing him life, all over Mount Silver. From the family of Swinub burrowing into the snow, to the Ursaring teaching his son how to climb trees further down, and extending into the air to flocks of Pidgeotto swirling around their nests.
Then Mewtwo noticed something a little more unusual.
His arms uncrossed, and he pushed gently off from the peak – rising a few feet into the air, almost literally walking on the sky as he searched for the owner of the mind he had just felt.
It came closer at speed, dodging through the trees and bulling through snowdrifts, and jumped a stream before loping the last half mile or so over rocky, snow-swept ground.
Raikou, Mewtwo announced, descending to stand on the snow. An unexpected pleasure.
"You are far too hard to find," Molly's friend announced, shaking snow from his coat. "Why can't you stay in one place like most other Legendaries?"
I have a post box, Mewtwo informed him blandly. And an inbox. And a drop box, actually.
The shiny Raikou sighed, tail flicking some of the last powdery white from the tip. "I'm sure you do… but Molly wanted me to deliver this personally."
Mewtwo was intrigued. Molly? I wonder what she wanted…
Raikou replied by reaching into his mane. A bag emerged, which Raikou reached into and pulled out an envelope.
"Here," he said, holding it out.
Waving a hand, Mewtwo took it in a psionic grip and floated it up to a comfortable reading distance, then opened it and perused the paper.
"Okay, ready?" Philena asked.
Shinx tilted her head, looking blank.
"Come on," she coaxed. "We talked about this..."
Shinx pouted, then nodded slowly.
"Right," Philena said encouragingly. "Remember, for now you just need to get the target."
The feline Electric-type crouched down, then pounced – but too late, as Philena twitched the toy out of the way.
"Now, now," she chided. "That's not what we said, remember? It was Spark!"
Shinx rolled her eyes, letting out a yowling purr, then rubbed her cheeks. The movement built up some static, and she held it for a moment before pouncing – this time with a crackle of electricity.
"Good work!" the scientist praised, as Shinx rolled on her back and batted her prize around. "That's just right – now, let's do it again!"
Shinx froze, and gave Philena a hurt, betrayed look – amplified by a purr. "Shiiiiin…?"
"You'll get a treat if you do," Philena told the Electric-type.
That changed Shinx's mind, and she let Philena take the toy back.
As Professor Ivy was about to do the second round, though, one of her assistants came in. "Professor?"
"Faith?" Philena asked, looking up. "Is it-"
The professor had to smile. "All right, you win… here's your treat!"
Shinx ate it in a trice, leaning into Philena's rub and purring happily.
"Aw, she's so cute!" Faith said, then shook her head. "Uh, anyway – Professor Elm said he wanted a word. Something about Articuno – he said he knew you'd researched them before?"
"Well, the Shamouti birds..." Philena said, frowning. "But Brock told me they're not really normal… I'm surprised he's not asking Professor Oak, he or Ash Ketchum would be my first choices."
Faith shrugged. "I don't know, sorry."
"I'll come and look, then," Philena decided. She scooped up Shinx, straightening her legs with an exhalation of effort. "Phew, you're getting heavy!"
Shinx waved her tail lazily.
"Hey, Pikachu?" Ash asked.
Pikachu looked up. "Yeah?"
"Can we have a word?"
"This can't be good..." Pikachu muttered. He got to his feet, pushing the empty ketchup packet he'd just finished towards the bin, and hopped closer to Ash. "What is it?"
"Well..." Ash began, sounding awkward. "I was wondering – in the battle..."
He sighed. "It looked kind of like you were angry. Especially in the middle, I mean."
"I-" Pikachu started, then stopped. "So what if I was?"
"Pikachu, I want to be sure you're okay," Ash said, wincing. "And… you didn't seem okay, so I wanted to check you were."
His starter frowned, then sighed. "I… yeah, I..."
"What?" Ash pressed.
"Never mind," Pikachu said, waving his tail.
"Ash, can't you just take care of yourself before asking questions like this?" Pikachu snapped, then stopped.
"Pikachu..." Ash began. "Is this about the… Groudon and Kyogre, thing?"
Pikachu didn't answer at first, then swung his tail into the table hard enough that it went whock into the edge.
"Ash, you nearly died!" he said, voice raw. "You're always so careless – and – this time… you heard what Ho-Oh said. You'd have died twice at least if you hadn't had that Sacred Ash!"
"But if I hadn't, then it would have killed Rayquaza!" Ash replied.
"You're more important than Rayquaza!" Pikachu shot back. "Not just to me – to everyone! Don't you remember that you were literally told to save the world?"
"I don't want to be that kind of person, Pikachu!" Ash said hotly. "It doesn't matter how important someone is!"
"But if I'd just been-" Pikachu began, then stopped. Tried again. "It wouldn't be a choice if-"
His cheeks sparked, and he shook his head. "I can't… I can't win, Ash… either I'm too strong, and I hurt you, or I'm not and you get hurt by someone else."
Ash couldn't think of anything to say to that.
Kirlia lunged at her brother, aiming a weak Psychic attack at him, and Roland retaliated by vanishing with a flicker of light.
There was a thump, and Kirlia whirled around – to see her sibling on the floor, sitting up and rubbing his nose.
"Ow," Roland muttered. "I think that didn't go quite as planned..."
"Are you alright?" Gardevoir asked, concerned.
"Yeah, I'm okay..." Roland replied, shaking his head. "I just tried to surprise her, and…"
"I didn't quite see," Max said, helping Roland up. "What did you try to do?"
"I was going to appear behind her and tackle her," the Ralts explained. "But I caught my foot on a tuft of grass, and..."
"I guess that means more practice, then," Max summed up. "It's kind of a pity that we don't have anyone who fights like that to help you learn… do we?"
I would if I could, Gardevoir sent, touching his mind as well so he could understand. But I haven't yet learned this attack, and Ralts – Roland – doesn't know who taught us.
"That does make it tricky," Max agreed. "I wonder if May could help."
They looked over at May, who was working with Blaziken and Glaceon – trying to work out a way that Glaceon could use her Ice to negate both Blaziken's fire and his high-speed martial arts.
As they watched, Glaceon dove forwards. Her fur pulsed with cold, forming a thin frosting on the grass, and the Ice-type did a roll around her direction of travel. That allowed her to fire an Ice attack upwards as she moved, and the spray of Powder-Snow hardened into a thin wall which absorbed some of the force of Blaziken's kick.
"I think she's busy," Max decided. "Uh… well, we could ask Swellow – she's good at moving fast, at least."
"I might be able to help," Lucario offered.
Roland looked up at him. "You could?"
Kirlia joined him, frowning. "I didn't think Lucario could teleport. How did you learn?"
"I can't," Lucario informed them.
"Then..." Kirlia began.
"It's because I've actually fought a Kirlia who used teleportation as a major part of her fighting style," Lucario clarified. "It was in Altomare – she used her teleportation so she could escape attacks, and then to get in a good position to fire her own attacks."
He sat down, crossing his legs to get on a level with the two young Psychic-types. "I think the important things that I learned in that battle are… firstly, that it's good for a teleporter to have a safe position planned out, so they can escape there if they're in trouble."
"Right – so," Max began, looking around. "If Roland had decided he'd jump over there when he wanted to get out of danger."
"That's right," Lucario agreed. "But you have to keep changing it – after a while I worked out where she was going, and I was able to try and exploit that."
"Does that mean I shouldn't have gone behind Kirlia?" Roland asked.
"Not in one jump," Lucario clarified. "Not until you're much more experienced. It's okay to jump away, plan, jump in."
"And what attacks are good to use with that?" Max asked.
"Almost anything," the Fighting-type told him. "Because teleporting means you can pick where you go, it means that almost any attack can work – even more than normal. You could even do something like teleporting high in the air, launching a long range attack and then teleporting back out of danger before you hit the ground."
"Cool!" Roland decided. "Can we try that, Max?"
"Not yet," Max said quickly. "I think if we do that before you've got a lot more practice, your mom might be mad..."
"Perhaps a mattress would be a good idea," Lucario suggested blandly. "Or a trampoline."
Let's see… Mewtwo mused, unfolding Molly's letter to read it.
The handwriting was quite good, which the Psychic-type approved of – clear communication was important – and he read in silence for the first few minutes.
Dear Mr. Mewtwo,
I wanted to write you a letter, because I realized that I hadn't said thank you enough for how you helped save my family. Not just Mom and Dad, but Entei and Suicune and Raikou and Eevee. I love them all, and I thought it would be a good idea to say thank you again for all your help.
I was thinking about it a lot recently, because I'm doing lots of studying and training with Eevee – I still want to be a Pokémon Trainer, but I know it's going to be harder than I thought it was then.
Do you know a way to grow up quickly?
That made Mewtwo pause.
Technically… he did, after all, even if he'd destroyed the equipment. The flash-clone tanks wouldn't make a template grow any faster, but they accelerated the development of a clone so it took mere seconds.
Shaking off that thought, he went on.
I'm trying to become a Pokémon trainer early, but Tracey – Mr. Sketchitt – says that it's fine if I can't do the early exams, because they're much harder.
Last time we tried doing the exam he said it wasn't right to say Eevee was the answer to everything, even though she is. I guess that's because not all Eevee are able to do what Eevee can.
I'm still going to study, though!
Mewtwo left off reading for a moment to look up at Raikou. Do you want some kind of shelter? The wind up here is quite cold.
"That would be nice," Raikou admitted.
Mewtwo focused his enormous psionic power, lifting at least a ton of snow into the air, then compacted it into blocks.
Laying them at a rate of several a second, he quickly and efficiently built them into a round igloo with a single exit tunnel.
Better? Mewtwo asked.
"Warmer," Raikou confirmed, his voice coming out of the ventilation hole. "Very courteous of you."
Mew insisted that I make some, Mewtwo told him. It seemed easier to learn than to wait until her mind changed. It was only a few minutes with a book, anyway, and he had fun for most of the morning.
"That sounds like something Molly would like to hear," Raikou commented. "Maybe you should write back and tell her some of the things you've been up to."
Mewtwo looked contemplative, and went back to reading the letter.
Lugia looked down, head dipping so he could look under his wing. Yes, Silver?
Are we nearly there yet? We've been flying a long time, and I'm getting tired…
Not much further, Lugia assured his son. You're much better at flying long distances than last year, by the way.
Thanks, Silver smiled briefly, then looked down. But this is still tiring. How come we're not swimming? We usually do some of that when we go back to Mom's house.
His mother slid in beside them, adjusting her angle so Silver could ride her slipstream. That's because we're not going to my house, dear.
We're not? Silver said, taken aback. But I wanted to spend time with Oliver!
You can go once we're done, Lugia told him, smiling. But this is, I'm afraid, more important.
We're going inland, he said, after a few minutes. Why are we going inland?
Because the Pokémon we're going to go and visit don't live by the sea, his father said. Tell you what, Silver.
The young Lugia looked up.
If you're a good boy, then – as long as you want us to – we'll help you learn how to fly with a human on your back. Do you think that's something Oliver would like?
That sounds cool! Silver agreed, nodding – earlier resentment gone. Thanks, dad!
They flew on, through a cloud which slicked their wings with condensation, and then Lugia led them in aiming for a mountain pass.
This is the easiest route, he said. And Silver, remember to use your powers to keep yourself warm.
I'm not a chick, dad, Silver protested. I can remember to stay warm myself.
Just making sure, Lugia smiled. It is quite cold up ahead.
Brock pulled the comb through Ninetales' fur, straightening it out and making it smooth and even so it lay just right.
"Nearly done," he said, inspecting the tail from all angles and giving it another comb. "And… that looks done!"
"Good," Ninetales said, lifting that tail away and putting another one in its place.
"Are you sure you're not making me do some of them twice?" Brock asked, chuckling. "This better be the last one!"
"It is," Ninetales agreed. "But you might need to clean out the comb."
Brock agreed, scraping Ninetales-fur out of the teeth so the comb was fresh and ready. "There we go… now, let's start on that last tail."
"Hi!" Mawile called, waving. "Oh, can I help?"
"Sure," Brock said, retrieving a spare brush. "Can you do her back? I think there's a few spots I missed."
"Thank you, Mawile," Ninetales smiled. "It's a pleasure."
Mawile got to working on the fur. "That's okay… I thought, hey, I'd like to do some brushing of hair, but… well, Goodra doesn't have any and I don't have much..."
She sighed. "And Pikachu sounds unhappy… I don't know how to help, though."
"I think that it's best to leave that to Ash and Pikachu," Ninetales suggested. "For now, at least."
"I'll check on them tomorrow," Brock decided. "If they sort it out before then, it's not something we need to bother them about."
"I guess..." Mawile agreed, a little sadly. "But I still w- I still think I should be able to help."
She finished a run of the comb, moved it back to the next spot, then gasped suddenly.
"Look!" she said, pointing. "A shooting star!"
Brock and his Pokémon turned to look, and watched in surprise as a bright shooting star – bright enough to be seen clearly even before sunset – blazed across the sky.
"Wow..." the Fairy-type said, as it vanished from view. "How big are they?"
"Usually pretty small," Brock told her, resuming his brushing. "About the size of a grain of sand – but that one might have been quite a bit bigger."
"They're that small?" Mawile said. "Then how come we can see them?"
She held the brush over her head. "Do they come really close?"
"No, they're just bright," Brock said. "They burn up about fifty miles in the air – the air's really thin that high up, but it gets thicker very quickly. So as the meteor falls into the thicker air, the air can't get out of the way in time, which means it's squeezed."
Mawile nodded along, her brush slowing. "And what then?"
"Well, when you squeeze something, it gets hotter," Brock told her. "And there's so much squeezing that the air gets hot enough to melt rock – just from the force of the meteor crashing into it. And that means it melts, and the hot air and the hot meteor glow – that's the shooting star."
"Fifty miles high..." Mawile said, trying to imagine the air so high up.
Then she frowned. "Wait… what about Rayquaza? Wouldn't he stop them?"
"I think they're too small for him to be bothered with," Brock said. "Small ones come down all the time."
"Yeah, look!" Stantler said, nodding. "There's another one!"
Brock frowned. "Hmmm… maybe we should watch the meteors tonight. If there's this many already, it could mean there's a good shower going on."
"And do you make a wish on them?" Mawile asked.
"I think that's Jirachi," Stantler said, uncertainly. "Unless both work?"
"I think if you wanted to test that, you should wait until when Jirachi's not in the camp," Brock said, stripping more fur out of the comb. "Okay, Ninetales, I think that's done."
"Thank you, Brock," Ninetales said, standing and shaking her fur out. "I feel much warmer."
"But you're a Fire-type," Brock pointed out.
"So? I still feel the cold," she shot back, sticking her tongue out.
Stantler waved his antlers in the air. "This is cold?"
"...okay, it's not," Ninetales admitted. "But it's breezy. That counts."
"If you say so," Brock chuckled, standing up. "Thanks for the help, Mawile."
"It was fun!" Mawile replied. "And I learned something, too, about meteors… what's the difference between a meteor and a shooting star?"
"There isn't," Brock explained. "They're just two different words for the same thing – well, almost. A shooting star is the trail a meteor leaves."
Quilava spun in place, then bounced forwards – electricity sparking about her – and whooshed past Houndoom.
He turned, skipping around in a half-circle, and lashed at her with his tail – which she avoided, then bounced on the ground and reversed direction with a flash of flame.
Electrical energy built up again, and she darted in – this time striking, making Houndoom explode.
"Woo!" Quilava said, uncurling and skidding to a halt. "Got him that time!"
"Yes, you did," Houndoom said, not looking up from his book. His spade-tipped tail bent down, flipping a page over, and he frowned. "An oar? Who fights duels with an oar?"
"Houndoom?" Quilava prompted. "Can I have another few targets, please?"
The Fire-type turned, placing a paw on the spine so his book didn't close. "You need more? Again?"
Quilava nodded. "Yes – I'm getting better at hitting."
"Fine, then," he replied, tail curling, and spawned four more Beat Up shadow-clones. "Just let me know when you want to start trying that shield thing, that might actually be exciting..."
The other fire-type sighed. "Sorry, Houndoom – I know this is boring. But I want to be able to use this, so that I can actually fight Water-types effectively."
"Got it," Houndoom said, softening. "I know, this kind of thing takes a long time. At least I've got a book."
He looked up. "It might be a good idea to go in soon, though, it is getting dark."
"Just let me do these four," Quilava requested, then stopped. "Hey, look!"
Houndoom's head came up. "What's that?"
"Shooting star, I think," Quilava said. "Down to the south and west – it's pretty bright!"
She shook her head. "Okay, right, Wild Charge."
There was a flicker of flame as she charged up, then spindashed away to come around for an attack run.
Houndoom returned his gaze to his book. "Oh, I see – it was longer!"
"Sneasel?" Todd asked, rubbing his gloved hands together. "Can you get the camera from my bag?"
Sneasel nodded, took two quick steps through the snow to reach his leg, and climbed up it with sure, easy motions. On reaching the waist, she switched to climbing up his bag using loops put there for the purpose, and she was soon undoing the zips.
Extracting the big, high-definition camera, she unwrapped it from the blanket it was kept in and passed it around to her friend.
"Thanks," Todd said, checking it over before turning it on. "Okay, it'll just take a moment..."
Sneasel tapped his shoulder, and pointed.
Todd followed her gaze, squinting through the snow drifting down in light flurries, and after a moment he saw it – three moving shapes, mostly white but broken up by both light and dark blues.
"Huh," he said, recognizing them. "I guess we've got extra visitors."
Noticing that one was smaller than the others, he focused in the camera and took a picture – then two more, following them around to their landing.
"Should we say hello?" he asked Sneasel.
That would be appreciated, Lugia replied. I remember you, Todd Snap – it is a pleasure to see you.
"Thank you, Lugia," Todd said, bowing slightly. His breath misted in the air, and he watched as the other two Diving Pokémon came to stand just next to the one who had addressed him. "You're here for the same reason we are?"
Notwithstanding our lack of photography equipment, I believe so, Lugia said with a little smile. Lead on.
Sneasel jumped down from Todd's backpack again, and scurried off – waving for her partner to follow.
Todd took a quick snap of the cave mouth, then headed inside. The bulk of the walls cut off some of the cold wind, and he let out a grateful sigh before continuing.
Behind him, the younger Lugia piped a question, and his mother replied in musical tones.
Would you be able to provide me with some of the prints of those photos you took as we landed? Lugia requested. I'd like to see what they look like.
"Sure," Todd agreed. "Do you want me to keep them private, or is it okay to use them in an article?"
I think I can't complain about an article, Lugia consented, his mental tone amused. I wonder what they will write about me.
Sneasel signalled from up ahead, and Todd decided not to reply – electing instead to keep quiet.
A few seconds later, and they arrived in the main room of the nest. An Articuno was sat next to a circular snowdrift, with another standing a little way off.
The second Articuno looked up, recognized Todd, and nodded to him before trilling a comment to Lugia.
Todd shifted to the side a little, letting the Lugia family through, and got out his camera.
The air hung still and chill, and then the first Articuno – the female – shifted her wings expectantly.
Readying his camera, Todd exhaled to calm his nerves and began to take photos.
The first few showed both Articuno, anxiously leaning forwards. Then there was a white flicker from inside the snowpile, and a blue head poked up through the drifts.
"Cuuuuuu~no!" the female carolled, reaching down to help, and her hatchling struggled out of the snow.
Another white flash came as it emerged, and the second one was not far behind.
Todd took photograph after photograph, moving around to get a better angle on occasion, and was particularly touched when Silver leaned out to touch one of the infant Ice-types.
Sneasel was sometimes on his shoulder, using her own smaller camera to get pictures from a different angle, and sometimes jumping down to get close-up shots.
Her partner was fairly sure she'd used a depth-of-field trick to show the proud father out-of-focus behind the newly-hatched chick.
Then, as the mother took her children to one side to give them their first meal, the other Articuno glanced at Lugia and spoke. "Arti-~ticuno, no..."
Lugia listened, then turned his attention to Todd. He wishes to thank you, Todd Snap – for making this possible, in helping him meet his mate. And he gives you full permission to do what you wish with all the photos you took today.
"Thank you," Todd replied, blinking quickly. "It's been an honour."
Mewtwo finished reading.
That was… odd, he said.
Raikou poked his head out of the igloo. "You sound puzzled."
I am, Mewtwo told him. Molly suggested a movie idea to me.
The other Legendary did a double-take. "Wait, she actually sent you the movie idea?"
I can see you're familiar with it, Mewtwo observed.
"She was talking about it for hours," Raikou replied. "Well, on and off – she kept coming up with new ideas in the middle of studying, and – actually, come to think of it I'm not sure what she would have put in that version."
Well, there's three powerful and noble and brave Pokémon in it, Mewtwo began.
Raikou cringed. "Oh, dear… I'm flattered, but..."
You may be right to be, Mewtwo said. Apparently these Pokémon are each in charge of their own kingdom, and the kingdoms are all threatened by something nonspecific.
The Electric-type clapped his paws over his eyes, groaning theatrically. "She didn't even finish coming up with the villain..."
I may be being a little harsh, Mewtwo amended, after a moment of thought. There are suggestions as to who could be the villain – I'm rather amused by this one, who seems to be based somewhat off Gary Oak.
Raikou sighed. "Please tell me it's not one of the ones where she included herself as the heroine..."
You'll be glad to know that she didn't, Mewtwo said, smiling faintly. Instead that's a special Eevee who can talk to all three of the rulers as a member of their own Type.
He read that section of the letter again. Actually, with editing this would be quite reasonable. There's scope for political drama, action, and some impressive visuals – Suicune's castle in particular is made out of a waterfall, with rainbows of spray everywhere. If it's possible, it would look very nice...
Mewtwo folded the paper up, and teleported it away with a click of the fingers.
"Not as bad as I feared, then," Raikou summarized, with some relief. "As for the letter as a whole… did you enjoy it?"
It was an interesting read, Mewtwo confirmed. And, now I've had time to think about it, your suggestion has some merit… perhaps I'll put something together and send it to Molly.
Raikou nodded, shaking snow from his fur. "I think she'd enjoy it."
With that, he turned to go – then stopped.
"Where did you teleport the paper?"
My office, Mewtwo told him.
"You have an office? That would have made this a lot simpler..."
There was a crackle as Pikachu fired off a succession of high-speed lightning bolts, then turned. "What is it?"
Ash crouched down. "Pikachu – I want to talk. I think we need to."
Pikachu's brows furrowed for a moment, then he nodded. "Okay – okay, sure. We can talk."
After a pause too short for Ash to speak up, he went on. "I'm not angry, Ash – I just…"
"Pikachu, I know how you feel," Ash said. "I know what it feels like when you can't keep your friend safe… when you see them in horrible pain, and you can't do anything."
Pikachu didn't say anything.
"I just wanted to say..." Ash paused. "I'm not sure what I wanted to say, but… I don't blame you."
"Why not!?" Pikachu exploded. "Ash, it's my job to keep you safe!"
"No it's not!" Ash replied, just as forcefully. "You don't have to make yourself powerful enough to take on the world, Pikachu – not on your own."
His hand went down towards his belt, then he pulled it away. "And you need to realize – we're all part of a team, Pikachu. You, me, Lucario – Charizard – everyone! You don't have to be strong enough – you can't – but we can be!"
Pikachu took a step back, ears lowering. He began to speak, stopped, then started again. "Ash...I – why do you have to make this so hard?"
A tear dropped from his eye, and he swiped it away with a paw. "If I failed you-"
"You didn't," Ash replied instantly. "You can't – not you. You've done some amazing things, Pikachu, and you only just lost against the Pokémon a Champion uses to beat really difficult challengers. And if we did it again, we'd know his tricks."
He gathered the Electric-type up in his arms. "So stop it, Pikachu – stop pretending you need to be perfect or you're no good at all."
Pikachu stiffened, then relaxed.
"You're Pikachu," Ash said, more softly. "My friend, tough and fast and – and my best friend, and the best Pikachu in the world. I don't want someone who focuses only on being the strongest they can possibly be."
He swallowed. "I want you – so don't dare change yourself because you think it's what I need."
Pikachu was silent for a long minute, nuzzling into Ash's chest.
"Ash?" he said, eventually. "Can you at least promise me you won't try to block any more Primal Pokémon attacks with your face?"
"No, really," Pikachu replied, though he was smiling too. "Your face needs all the help it can get."
"I don't know, Pikachu..." Ash said, a little teasingly. "I'm pretty sure my head's the only thing hard enough to block some of those attacks."
"I… can't argue with that," Pikachu replied. "At least be careful?"
"Sure," Ash agreed, relaxing his grip. "I'll be careful."
"And if you forget that, then I'll shock you," Pikachu added, cheeks sparking. "It might finally get you to remember..."
"I dunno," Ash frowned. "I've been shocked pretty hard before."
"I've got whole new kinds of shock to try out," Pikachu promised warningly.
"Don't make me go looking for the rubber gloves!"
Not quite an Ashes Nowhere To Be Seen chapter, but he's not in focus much.
Following up on an old plot thread or two, checking in on how people have been doing since their last appearances... oh, and the thing with Ash and Pikachu.
Incidentally, Houndoom's book is about a famous samurai.