Dedicated to the fans
Who have stuck with the series
From 1997 to 2013
This is for those
Who still believe in Ash
The violent quake from a nearby explosion demanded his attention, and he quickly and gracefully rose to his feet. Although his stature was unshaken by the loud disturbance, his expression was one of great concern, and he readied himself for battle. He clenched his hands and allowed a shadowy, dark energy to build up in his fists.
A second explosion. This one was quite literally upon his doorstep. A black cloud of smoke and debris billowed his way, but he remained standing, undaunted. A long, eerie silence followed. He looked on apprehensively, waiting for whatever would inevitably come his way. Just as the smoke began to dissipate, two rapidly spinning discs emerged from the fray. He launched his dark energy toward them with precise aim, destroying them both. The number of discs seemed to multiply, however, and suddenly there were five or six sets hurdling after him. He, again, destroyed them all with relative ease—save the last pair. He somehow missed that one, and he paid for it dearly: The discs latched onto his wrists and ankles like shackles.
He was then brought to his knees with a quick but potent shock of electricity. He endured the pain well and again tried to build dark energy in his fists. After failing to do so, he realized that the shackles had rendered his powers completely useless. He was now at the mercy of whoever his captor was. After a few long moments of his humiliating incarceration, a large group of humans moved in and surrounded him with some sort of weapon aimed directly at him, he supposed, in case he tried to escape (as if he could). His eyes narrowed, recognizing their uniform.
"Well, that was surprisingly easy," commented the leader as he strolled right up to him, his shoes scuffing the ground as he stopped directly in front of his nose. "Really, I expected more of a fight. It seems you've lost your touch in the years since I last saw you. I'll be sure to fix that."
"Ah, you seem to recognize me."
"It would be impossible for me to forget you, Giovanni. The question is, how do you remember me?"
"I think you underestimate the scientific prowess of my research team," Giovanni said. "Besides, there were records: hand-written journals, electronic data, research papers. I poured years and millions of dollars into you. Did you honestly think a simple wipe of my memory—however strong—would prevent, much less deter, me from finding you again?"
The shackles tightened and another, more powerful jolt of electricity shook him. The pain was excruciating, so much so that his vision went fuzzy and left a loud ringing in his ears. The shock subsided, and he gasped in a much-needed breath of air. He wanted to stand, but all energy had abandoned him. After sorting through the white noise buzzing in his mind, he weakly lifted his head and, without a trace of fear in his voice, asked with a sneer, "What do you want?"
Giovanni smirked, and he opened his mouth to speak.
Giovanni's voice faded and became blurry. The answer to the question was blotted out; the words became a mesh of low-toned noises strung loosely and carelessly together.
The scene was achromatized, whittling down to a dim, gray pallet before his eyes, and then dissolved completely. The setting, the people, everything, faded into total oblivion. The clarity of these events was lost as a dark fog gathered around the memory, edging out the details.
Ash's eyes flew open, and he sat up sharply, knocking Cilan in the head as he did so. The Pokémon Connoisseur staggered backward, his hand instinctively moving toward his forehead, the place which had been impacted. Iris, who along with Cilan had been hovering near Ash's bedside, jumped slightly upon the violent collision. After recovering from her mild shock, she grabbed Cilan's wrist and pulled it down to examine the damage on his head. Already, the connoisseur's fair skin was taking on a nasty purple hue.
"Oh, look what you've done," Iris sighed, addressing Ash. "That's going to leave a mark—on both of you. Hold on, let me get some ice to help the swelling."
"I'm sorry, Cilan!" Ash exclaimed, gingerly rubbing his own bruising bump as Iris left.
"That's quite all right, Ash. I know you didn't mean it all," Cilan said politely, giving the boy a sheepish smile. "That must have been some dream you were having!"
Ash's head perked up curiously.
"Dream?" he asked in confusion as Pikachu leapt onto his lap.
"Pika Pi!" exclaimed the mouse-like Pokémon in concern.
"I think a nightmare is more like it," Iris said as she re-entered the room with ice packs in hand. Both the afflicted trainers gratefully accepted the cooling agents and made good use of them. "You were tossing and turning in bed and groaning so loudly that you woke both Cilan and I up. What were you dreaming about?"
Ash thought long and hard about that one. He desperately tried to recall the details of whatever happened in his dream, but flat-out could not. He closed his eyes and thought for a moment longer: He vaguely remembered having a conversation with someone, but who?
"Giovanni," Ash repeated quietly, though the name was meaningless to him. It sounded familiar, but he couldn't put a face to it. If he had ever met a Giovanni, it had to have been many years earlier.
"What was that?" Iris asked.
"Y'know, I honestly can't remember." He suddenly grinned. "Maybe I hit the place in my brain where all my memories are kept when Cilan and I bumped heads, and that just knocked the dream right out of me!"
"Oh, that's quite impossible. You see, you hit the area associated with the prefrontal lobe, and the memory functions of the brain are located-" Cilan stopped himself from going further into his long-winded scientific explanation once he saw the death glare Iris was giving him. "Anyway, it's not important. Perhaps it's better you don't remember. From the way you were writhing around in your sleep, I'm sure it's something I wouldn't want to dwell on." He tilted his head. "I think the real question is, what prompted you to have such a horrible dream?"
Before Ash had a chance to answer, Iris leaned over the bed and felt his forehead.
"Well, you don't have a fever," she said. "Maybe it's from all the adrenaline you had tonight after you found out—what's her name?—Misty is visiting you in Pallet for the holidays. You were practically bouncing off the walls."
Iris suddenly had a very sly, knowing expression painted on her face. Ash looked slightly confused at this, but smiled and patted Pikachu on the head.
"Yeah, Misty's an old pal of ours," he said. "It'll be good to see her and my mom for Christmas." Iris's face fell, and she sighed.
"Never mind," she droned, obviously let down. "You're such a kid."
Ash opened his mouth to retort, but Cilan cut him off before he and Iris could start bickering.
"Well, if you're all right, then I suggest we should all try to get back to sleep," Cilan interjected. "Your flight leaves early tomorrow, and Iris and I have to set off for the Village of Dragons and Striaton City."
Ash nodded, forgetting why he was even upset.
"Right," he agreed with a yawn. "Well, I'm sorry for waking you two up." Ash pulled the covers over himself again. "G'night."
"Good night," Iris replied, crawling back into her own bed.
"Pleasant dreams," Cilan said.
Ash didn't go to sleep right away, though. He stared at the ceiling for a long while, still thinking about the name. ... Something stirred in his memory: the sound of Giovanni's deep, resonant voice. Nevertheless, Ash couldn't for the life of him remember what they had talked about. The words had somehow slipped through his fingers like tiny grains of sand on the beach, impossible to relocate and pick out individually.