Chapter 11: La Muerte de Ramón Salazar

The steel cart sunk to the bottom of the sea after Ash and Paul's wild ride. But while the cart sunk to Davy Jones' Locker Room, Pikachu recovered on the other side of the gap. In the slow motion replay, Ash and Paul snagged fallen hatchets before the cart left the tracks. The boys leaped from the rim of the cart and within reach due to the cart's momentum, Pikachu leaped off of Ash and landed hard on the other side. Pikachu looked down to see Ash and Paul using the farming tools to stay on the side of the cliff. ("You two okay?") Pikachu squeaked in concern.

"We're hanging around, Pikachu!" Ash punned, disgusting Paul.

"Really?" he spat. "You want to joke about our cliffhanging situation?" Well, who knew Paul was trying to be funny? Ash climbed back up before reaching and assisting Paul. "Remind me that this is the first and only adventure I have with you, let alone all of them." Paul didn't like all this hardcore action? He had the hardcore, venomous attitude.

"Most of them won't be alive if you reconsider." Walking down a lit tunnel, there was a decorative tablet which Paul took. A portion of an adjacent wall collapsed, allowing the two to press on. They exited the tunnel and found a building further up the cliff only to enter. "I'll admit...considering our history, I never would imagine you as a person that enjoys peace and quiet." Paul darted his scowl away from the chipper boy from Pallet.

"Perhaps when guys like you and Barry aren't disrupting me. And besides, I think you're enjoying this trip away from the Pokémon World. All I know, you wanted to get away from Team Rocket." Ash never frowned on the notion of the people who sent the rivals into this hellhole. They entered the foyer where there was a sight for sore eyes...that want to stay sore. A giant statue of Salazar.

"At least they're far nicer than him. They aren't trying to kill us." Not like the cloaks. Ash ran toward the Salazar statue as Paul shot the cloaks back. The Mankey was back to work as he crawled to the back of the statue, flipping switches and levers. Pikachu was electrocuting the cloaks back. Flipping the last lever, Ash returned to Paul with more cloaks on their tails. However, they weren't the only ones. The statue was moving! The statue broke from it's pedestal and pursued everyone. Ash whipped out the revolver and shot apart the lock on a door leading to the outside. Everyone got out through the door.

"¡Corre!"a cloak shrieked as the statue burst through the wall. One tiny bridge, a dozen cloaks, two kids and a statue...not a good recipe. Ash dropped a flash grenade which blew up behind the two and blinded the cloaks. They couldn't have picked a worst time to stop. The statue tripped and fell onto the bridge, destroying it and crushing those still seeing a light...and not the good kind. The bridge was gone...but not those trainers. They were safe.

"That was pretty unnerving." Hearing that from Ash told Paul that he was a bit scared.

"Toughen up!" he huffed. "It only gets worse from here on out." Ash couldn't wait for what could be worse than the statue. Paul was on his way into the upcoming tower.

"Yep, he's enjoying himself." Pikachu wasn't too sure it was the case.

("Maybe he's homesick,") he theorized. They pursued Paul into the tower where an applaud echoed. It was Salazar. He had his remaining giant cloak by his side.

"Welcome," he greeted. "It's so nice for you two to join us. Though, I should scrutinize the likes of you, Mr. Paul. You see, the sacred rite that's about to begin and this tower shall endow the girl with magnificent powers. She will join us; become one of us!" Ash was a tad hindered. He couldn't afford to lose Ashley to the slime of the parasite.

"I'm surprised you would choose her instead of me," he offered. "I'd be more compatible for this rite." Salazar shook no.

"I appreciate your volunteering support, Mr. Ketchum. However, we need a female to perfect the rite, a symbolic marriage." That's why they needed Ashley, a symbolism? "But don't fret. I've prepared a ritual just for him." The point to Paul fueled his anger as he threw the hatchet he kept. SPLAT! The blade pierced into Salazar's hand...and Salazar got terrorized in a hurry, feeling the excruciating pain from the hatchet. It's a surprise that the hand didn't come off. The giant removed the hatchet and flung it back at Paul who ducked clear. The giant escorted Salazar into an elevator which rose to clear the scene. "Kill him!" The cloaks entered in droves, forcing Ash and Paul to arm themselves. Paul wanted this mess all alone.

"Get Ashley!" he roared to Ash. Ash didn't need a second to think and began climbing staircases, shooting those in his way. Paul gunned down those on his level. With Pikachu on his shoulder, Ash arrived at a lift and activated it while his little Pokémon shoved the boxes off, crushing some of the cloaks attacking Paul. When the lift stopped at it's limit, the two moved their legs. Reaching a new door, they found an observatory which Salazar stood in anticipation.

"Well, my best friend has found his way up here...but you're a couple minutes late. I've finished the ritual and she's being escorted to be with our leader, Saddler." Ash growled. He was too slow!

"That's just lovely," he scolded. "And to think, we were getting so well along." Salazar began walking up steps to the top with eerie pink flame shooting out from the goblets.

"I think it's time I pay my due respect to your undying but stubborn will!" Tentacles shot out from behind Salazar and wrapped him and the giant cloak. "Mr. Ketchum, death!" The tentacles retracted and "fed" the two to bulbs protruding from the wall. Ash wasn't liking the problem. It was about to get more hideous. A huge skull attached to vines appeared from the wall with red eyes and a disfigured jaw like some of the parasites before. It hissed at Ash and Pikachu who needed to act. Behind it was an obscured and deformed version of who Ash had been chatting with for a long time since losing contact with Ingrid. Then again, it was holding Ashley away from them so it pretty much evened out.

"I hate to do this to a friend's time we parted ways." Not so fast. A heavy gate fell behind Ash. Trapped. It's only got worse. Vines wrapped and ensnared Ash, lifting him away from his Pokémon pal.

("Ash!") Pikachu wailed in concern, and good reason. The vines were squeezing Ash from the waist.

"What a pity this is," Salazar moaned. "All of your hard work and for what? A painful, crushing death!" Ash needed help...but his blue veil came back, revealing a grin. Salazar wasn't sure what to think here. "Are you accepting death? You kids seem to take everything in stride! No matter. Soon, I'll rid your rivals. At least your afterlife will be...more peaceful that way." Ash wasn't afraid of him any longer.

"Not quite that," he continued to grin. "You just happen to be like the gym leaders back home: underestimating me!" He swung his glowing hand which smashed into the vine which combusted. Salazar's paining scream sounded like a bunch of women in horror movies all at the same time. Ash fell to the pit below and needed to get out. Spend all the time in the world. Gary returned.

"Allow me!" he called down as he pulled the trigger to the RPG he had. It hit the body of Salazar, blowing him to smithereens. The skull collapsed onto the platform, dead from the loss of it's "heart" that was Ramon Salazar. Ash climbed back to see his old rival...who was less than happy with how it handled himself with Salazar. "Once again, you put yourself in danger without any thought of others. Man, what do you think I have to tell your mom if you did bite the dust?" All Ash did was smile. He had a retort.

"The same thing I would tell Reggie and Prof. Oak if anything happened to you or Paul." Gary just sighed like he didn't get the idea. We're pretty sure he did. "So, any luck with Ada?"

"Yeah, she did supply me with the RPG I used and told me about other moments with Leon. Also, she spotted Saddler on an island a couple of miles from here." Knowing Saddler's location, Ash pondered Ashley's dilemma.

"That's where they took Ashley. Let's regroup with her." Straightforward but Gary wanted to remind Ash of Paul again.

"What about..."

"Paul? I'm pretty sure he'll be with her." Ash passed through the door, leaving Gary to wonder if he even had a plan on how to deal with Saddler and rescue Ashley. Nevertheless, he followed down the tower to a garage with a boat idling. Ada and Paul, like Ash predicted, were there.

"Shorty?" Paul questioned. Ash acted a throat slash, indicating that Ramon was no more. "Good." Ada hopped into the driver seat.

"You boys need a ride?" she asked. Nice gesture. Ash nodded.

"At least you didn't stick your gun to my back like last time," he remembered. He and the other boys hopped on for the ride on the boat. At least there weren't so many spears like none. "Why help us, Ada?"

"Leon was a good man, always believing in justice back in Raccoon City. I should know because I helped him during the outbreak in the city back in the US. Since the villagers looked more stable than the citizens affected by the T-Virus, which could explain why Leon was killed so easily. It's rather ironic that little children are doing a grown man's line of work." Something that shouldn't have come to this point if not for Team Rocket and Gary was ready to chew at him about it.

"Well, if Team Rocket hadn't stopped digging, we wouldn't be hunting down the president's daughter," he pointed out. Obvious enough.

"I think the moment Ash acquire his old voice from back in Hoenn, everything has been working for us up to now," Paul added. Well, just about. They couldn't stop the flies from taking Ashley. There was an island fast approaching. This had to be the island where Saddler had Ashley. Parking by the side of the island, Ada whipped out a gun fitted with a grappling hook.

"Sorry, boys," she apologized. "I have some business to attend. Later!" She hooked herself up the mountainside and Gary had a good look at her as she flew up...and the others saw the passionate smirk on his grill.

"Now that is a fine piece of tail," he complimented. Gary's a guy. Let him have an opinion or two. Paul groaned at his...assessment of Ada.

"That would be something I'd expect from him," he pointed to Ash. Why Ash? Did he have a preference with women? "Considering that he hangs out with that lecturer of a breeder." That's when he switched his look of envy to inquiry. "Do you...have a preference when it comes to the opposite sex?" Ash didn't think for a second on that question.

"No, should I?" he asked. Gary shook his head to say nothing wrong with no real preference. "The way I see it, if I'm liked by someone, I'm liked. If loved by someone, I'm loved. If hated..." He stopped and remembered that these two were rivals, nowhere close to being loved by them. "Get my point?" Gary and Paul didn't realize how philosophical Ash was with women and romance. That's when a call rang in. It couldn't be from Salazar. He's worm meat. Ingrid? "Talk to me." A laughter...a dark laughter flooded the receiver. "Ozzy..."

"Oh, don't try to flatter me," he murmured. "I am not that so-called 'Prince of Darkness' musician. And I've already learned of Salazar's death. However, you and your friends shouldn't get too confident because you eliminated my...little subordinate."

"Takes one to know one. Keep in mind, we trainers are naturally born strategists. We're already a few moves ahead."

"So you say. Face me if you can. You won't survive long." A challenge. Ash grinned.

"Es tu funeral!" The gauntlet has been thrown down as both hung up. The boys raced ahead. The fate of Ashley Graham was on the line.