"Hey! Mute! Get over here!" Dr. Namba shouted.
Ash turned and ran over to him, stumbling twice on the way there. He was used to being called Mute by now, although Jessie, James, and Meowth had tried to persuade their colleagues that he wasn't.
"Dr. Namba, what do we need him for?" A Team Rocket grunt asked. "He's just one of those useless trainers."
"I got permission from Giovanni to use him as a test subject." Dr. Namba explained, causing Ash to take a step back in fear. "If our project goes haywire and he ends up somewhere still on this planet, he can't tell anyone what happened to him."
Ash was even more scared now. What were they planning to do with him?
Dr. Namba grabbed his arm. "Come now, Mute. No need to be difficult. It won't change the outcome."
Ash struggled a little, but Dr. Namba's grip was strong and he couldn't slip free.
Dr. Namba dragged him to a machine and pushed him inside, closing the opening quickly so that he couldn't get out.
Ash pounded on the door, trying to break it, but it was no use.
"Start the experiment." Dr. Namba ordered.
The Team Rocket grunts started typing on computers. Ash sank to his knees. Whatever the experiment was, he was about to find out, and there was nothing he could do about it.
A blindingly bright light filled the machine and Ash closed his eyes to block it out.
When he opened them again, he was in a park.
He blinked and rubbed his eyes, wondering if this was real.
'Where am I?' He wondered silently. 'Am I in a video game or something? I don't recognize this place. Am I in another region?' He remembered what Dr. Namba had said about still on this planet. 'Am I on another planet?'
A boy ran over to him. "Um… Hello… Are you new here?"
Ash almost asked who the boy was, but stopped himself in time. What if Dr. Namba was still watching him? He couldn't let Team Rocket know he wasn't mute!
He pointed to his mouth and shook his head.
"You can't talk?" The boy asked. Ash nodded. "I'm Chiro. Um… how about I get you a notepad and pencil?"
Ash nodded eagerly.
As Chiro led him away from the spot where he'd arrived, Ash could swear someone else was watching them.
"I… I can't read it…" Chiro admitted after staring at Ash's writing for a little bit.
Ash hung his head. 'What now?'
"But… I think I know someone who can! Follow me!" Chiro continued.
Ash perked up and followed his new friend back to the park. There stood a huge robot he hadn't noticed before. His mouth fell open a little.
Chiro placed his hand on the foot of the robot and it opened. "Are you coming?"
Ash nodded yet again and hurried after him.
Chiro stepped into a tube and was lifted up it by an invisible force.
Ash hesitated before following. He couldn't lose sight of his friend now!
Chiro was explaining everything to five mechanic creatures.
'Are they pokemon?' Ash wondered, taking a step forward.
Chiro was showing Ash's new notepad to the blue creature.
"It says 'Ash'." The blue creature told Chiro.
Chiro looked at Ash. "Is Ash your name?"
Chiro handed the notepad back to him. "That's a nice name. Hey, if you have any questions or anything, write it down and hand it to Gibson."
Ash was sure the question mark over his head was visible, because Chiro answered his first question right away.
"They're robot monkeys." Chiro explained. "This is Gibson," He motioned to the blue creature. "Otto," The green creature. "Nova," The yellow creature. "Sprx," The red creature. "and Antauri." The silver creature.
Ash wrote 'where am I?' on his notepad and handed it to Gibson.
"You're on Shuggazoom. In Shuggazoom City." Gibson told him.
Ash hesitated for a second before writing 'how do I get home?' and handing it to Gibson again.
Gibson gave him a funny look. "Well, how did you get here in the first place?"
Ash remembered Dr. Namba and shivered. He wrote 'not a story I'd like to share.'
"Are you sure? We're willing to listen… or… well… you know what I mean…" Gibson said.
Ash found himself thinking of his mother and the day Team Rocket separated him from her…
Ash was eating supper with his mom, Pikachu, and Mr. Mime.
Suddenly, men broke down the door, causing the four to turn to see what was going on.
A dart hit Ash in the neck and everything started to go out of focus.
"Ash!" His mother cried.
That was the last thing he heard before he collapsed in unconsciousness and was taken to Team Rocket's trainer prison.
"Don't cry. Is it something we said? We're sorry. Please don't cry." Chiro's voice snapped him back to the present. "Are you okay?"
Ash hugged himself. The truth was that he wasn't okay. He needed his mom. He needed Pikachu. However, not only did he have no way of getting to them, he also didn't know where they were.
"It's okay. Just cry it out." Antauri told him. "You don't have to hold it in anymore. If you want to talk, or write, we're here for you."
Ash cried for a long time. He cried for the rebellious trainers that had been killed; he cried for the unfortunate trainers still prisoner; he cried for his missing family; and he cried for himself.
Finally, Chiro spoke up again. "Why don't we find you a place to stay temporarily? It's getting late and you're going to need a place to spend the night."
Ash wiped away more tears and agreed. Maybe things would be better once he got a good night's rest…