Secrets of the ocean

Can't you hear my storm coming,
Stones falling on to you?
Can't you feel the earth shaking,
Big dark clouds forming now?

Can't you hear my sky shouting
Close, chasing after you?
Deep, dark fear building up,
It's too strong for you.

And I hope you're satisfied,
I hope you're satisfied,
I hope you're satisfied
To see the wind blow over me!
Song of the Storm, Emilie Simon

Ash and his friends smiled. Kumquat Island was finally in sight.

"At last, I'm gonna have my final badge! I can't wait to challenge that gym!"

Misty smiled kindly.

"Some things never change. Are you fine, Lapras?"

"Ra-as."

Kumquat Island was famous for its thermal springs, gorgeous beaches and fancy hotels. A great resort island, all in all. Silver stretched.

"Once Ash's fight is over, I'm going to enjoy the springs. I just love bathing in these."

"I always found it weird that someone who controlled ice could love warm water so much." Tracey noted. "Well, there's no shortage of Pokémon around … or pretty girls."

Ash laughed.

"You got a pretty girl right next to you. A bit boyish, but still pretty."

Misty squealed in surprise while Silver looked at his son with wide eyes. It was the first time Ash cracked a joke about girls. And targeting Misty at that …

"You … you really think so?"

"Yes. I think you're pretty. Especially when you train your Pokémon. You're even prettier then because you're in your element."

Go tell if he was teasing her or being honest. Misty blushed hard and stuttered a bit. Her friend had hit home.

"Let's book a place in a hotel." Tracey suggested. "Then we'll look for the Gym."

"Good idea."

There was a good establishment called Sunbloom Hotel, which was rated five stars according to a guide. The three kids instantly turned to the only adult of the group, whose wealth seemed boundless. Ash had won some nice amounts during his trip in Kanto and the Archipelago, but his mentor was fine with him saving it for later or using it for distractions. So Silver once more ended paying up for their stay, but truth be told, he didn't mind. In over three thousand years, he had had time to accumulate wealth. The innkeeper was surprised when she saw Ash.

"What the … Travis, is that you? Is it you, my son?"

Ash raised a brow.

"I'm sorry, I don't know who you're talking about."

"Really? You're not my precious little boy?"

"No." Silver quietly answered. "He's mine."

The woman, a tall red head with a dark blue dress and yellow cardigan, smiled gently.

"I'm sorry, then. My name is Luana. You kid looks a lot like my son, Travis. He, too, had a Pikachu and left to become a Pokémon Trainer."

"Same here. I've got three badges already. One more and I'll be fighting the Champion. I just can't wait …"

Luana nodded.

"Well, our hotel has workout gym and indoor Pokémon stadium. Feel free to use them."

"Thank you very much. Do you know where's the Gym?"

"Inside the hotel. Maybe you'd want me to arrange a meeting with the Gym Leader."

"Yes, please."

The woman nodded and led them to their quarters. The place was nice and comfortable and the hot springs were very close. Ash decided to have his Pokémon train a bit as a warm-up, all the while leaving Lapras relax. As a result, Ponyta ended up facing Onix while Pikachu, Snorlax and Axew watched. The blue pony dodged the crystal splinters sent by the elder stone snake, her body covering in azure fire as she did. Sensing the threat, Onix used Earthquake. Ash smiled when he saw it stopped Ponyta.

"Earthquake is hard to dodge. One of the ways to do it is to reach a great enough speed and jump to your opponent. That's the best way to avoid it."

The pony nodded and nuzzled her Trainer before going back to the fight. When Onix used the attack, the girl jumped and delivered a brutal Double Kick to her opponent. Ash nodded.

"Come on, chain your attack! Don't give her room to breathe or her next attack will crush you!"

Indeed, Onix suddenly used Dragon Breath against her opponent. Ponyta retaliated with Inferno, much to Ash's surprise.

"You upgraded Flamethrower? Nice!"

The attack barely managed to counter Dragon Breath, though. The crystal Onix was an old creature and had more experience than the little blue pony, though the girl was doing great. Ash nodded. The Shiny Pokémon was making amazing progress.

From afar, Luana watched. The boy had two rare teammates and seemed to take great care of them. His other Pokémon also looked perfectly healthy and agreeably strong. He would provide a good challenge. She came to him and smiled.

"I called the Gym Leader. He is ready for a match whenever you are."

"Right now."

He recalled his Pokémon and called the rest of the group. Luana guided them to the indoor stadium, much to their surprise.

"We're gonna fight in there? Why not the Gym?" Tracey asked.

"Because …" Luana answered. "This is the Gym, and I am its leader. Are you ready, kid?"

Ash frowned.

"I am. What are the modalities?"

"A double-battle. You've heard of it before?"

"Yes. Two vs. two and the last with a Pokémon wins."

"Indeed, except here, the first to lose a Pokémon also loses the match. Do you know which Pokémon you'll use?"

Ash smirked. There was one he really wanted to try. The second depended on which Pokémon his opponent would send, but he still had his idea …

"Lapras, go!"

Luana nodded.

"A Lapras? Alright. Alakazam, Kingler, here you go!"

The boy's eyes lit up. Kingler? And here he wanted Lapras to try herself with Freeze Dry! Then he saw Luana's second teammate and weighted his options. According to Silver, Alakazam could mega-evolve. Remembering Fergus's powerful Gyarados, and knowing full-well how deadly the Psychic Pokémon was, he hesitated a moment. Onix or Ponyta? Onix's attacks could easily be blocked by Alakazam, who could shatter her hide with a swing of his spoon. On the other side, the crystal snake had a wider move range and was more experienced than the pony, who wouldn't last long against Kingler … unless the crab was kept at bay by Lapras.

"Well, what is your second teammate? Don't tell me you want to back down from that fight!" Luana teased.

Ash smirked.

"Not a chance! Ponyta, time for your first Gym Battle!"

The Shiny Pokémon emerged in a burst of azure fire. Lapras winked to her. The girl answered and starred at her opponent.

"Let the fight begin!"

(Play Sakura's Theme, from Street Fighters IV)

Luana made the first move.

"Kingler, Bubble Beam to Ponyta!"

"Lapras, freeze them! Ice Beam! Ponyta, combine Agility and Flame Wheel on Alakazam!"

In perfect coordination, the two Pokémon made their moves to counter their opponent. Lapras froze the stream of bubbles aimed to Ponyta, who rushed against Alakazam. The Psychic Pokémon answered with Protect, followed by Psycho Cut. Ponyta winced but held on. It would take more than that to bring her down.

"Ponyta, put the pressure on Alakazam! Inferno! Lapras, Kingler's all yours!"

Luana raised a brow.

"You're having your Lapras challenge my Kingler? Lapras is a Water/Ice type. Most of her attacks are no use against Kingler. Kingler, ignore her and get rid of Ponyta!"

Ash merely smirked. He knew perfectly what he was doing. By having Kingler ignoring the Transport Pokémon, Luana was leaving herself wide-open to the boy's surprise weapon. In the bleachers, Misty was totally aware of the situation.

"It's the first time I see Ash use his head so openly. Usually, he looks more like the kind to rush in without thinking, but in fact has something in mind. I'm surprised Luana hasn't noticed his strategy yet."

"She does." Tracey smiled. "She just got it wrong. Ash's plan isn't the one she thinks he has."

Silver nodded.

"Indeed. She believes Alakazam is Ash's main target when he wants to take Kingler instead. Lapras knows Body Slam, Thunderbolt, Dragon Dance … and Freeze Dry. Freeze Dry is an Ice-type move, but it is super effective against Water Pokémon. This tactic is called the 'Superweapon Surprise', when someone hides the fact they possess a deadly weapon, only to reveal it at a critical moment. That's what Ash is doing."

Indeed, while Ponyta was keeping Alakazam on his toes with Stomp, Double Kick and Inferno, Lapras was using Brine and Ice Beam on Kingler. As expected, the moves didn't do much but polish the crab's chitin. Luana sighed.

"And here I thought you'd be an interesting challenge … Time to end this! Kingler, Crabhammer on Ponyta! Alakazam, Focus Blast on Lapras!"

Ash's grin widened.

"Finally getting serious? Alright, no more playing around! This fight has lasted long enough!" His eyes briefly glowed blue from a surge of Aura. "Time to fight back, girls! Ponyta, take Focus Blast for Lapras and use Morning Sun! Lapras, point-blank Freeze Dry on Kingler!"

Ponyta jumped in front of the energy sphere and rolled away. Lapras didn't take time to watch her friend, choosing to focus on her opponent. Ash's plan was all about timing. She had to act fast or lose. Taking her breath, she released a bone-chilling wind on the red crab that froze on contact. Ash cheered.

"Yes! Ponyta, are you alright?"

The pony turned to him and nodded. She tried to rise, only for her body to glow brightly and morph. A horn grew on her head, her size increased, her mane became thicker … When it faded, Ponyta was now a blue-fired Rapidash and her eyes were blue as well. Ash remained silent a moment. The creature was beautiful.

"Sky Flame … You really deserve your name."

Rapidash turned to him and nuzzled him a bit. She then looked at the frozen Kingler and smirked before rushing with …

"Flare Blitz!?"

Luana perceived the threat and so did Alakazam. The Psychic Pokémon immediately mega-evolved in a thick-bearded, five-spooned, purple-wearing sage and launched five simultaneous Psycho Cuts. Lapras stood in their way and froze them with Freeze Dry. Before the Pokémon could ready another attack, Rapidash had reached Kingler and shattered the ice prison with Double Kick. The blow had enough strength to send the crab flying out of the arena, knocking him out in the process. With one teammate down, Luana could only acknowledge her defeat. She lowered her head.

"Fair enough. You win this one."

The referee raised his hand.

"Luana lost one of her Pokémon. The winner of this round is Ash Ketchum!"

(End music)

Ash immediately jumped to Rapidash and took her in his arms.

"You were amazing! I wasn't expecting you to evolve, even less during your first Gym Battle. You did wonderfully! And you too, Lapras. You were excellent, especially when using Freeze Dry."

He kept praising them for a moment before turning to Luana. The woman had a grey shell-like badge in hands which she gave with a smile.

"You completely tricked me during this fight. I wasn't expecting a boy that young to use strategy like you did. Well played."

"I had a good teacher. Besides, I already competed in the Indigo League. Went up to the semi-finals. I have a bit of experience behind me."

"I can tell. Well, this is the Jade Star badge. Here you go. Good luck against the Champion."

"Thank you, Ms. Luana."

The boy placed the badge alongside the three others in his case. Now, off to Pummelo! They spent some more time at the springs and gave Tracey more time to finish his pictures, especially a colored one of the Shiny Rapidash, then took off to the next island. They just didn't expect to be caught in a violent storm during the trip. The dark clouds came from literally nowhere. In a matter of minutes, the waves had reached ten feet and even Lapras couldn't fight against them. Silver winced.

"We have no choice! Ash, start playing your flute! Whatever caused that storm, I hope it will stop or a Legendary will save us."

"Can't you do it?" Misty asked.

"Not without Odin. Had I still had him, we'd have taken the aerial way. It isn't an option anymore. Not take your oxygen condensers and put them on!"

Rather than carrying huge and bulky diving equipment, the group used smaller hand-sized devices that condensed the oxygen in water and served as breathing apparatuses. Ash summoned his golden flute and played Lugia's song again and again, in hopes someone would answer. The only thing that answered was a giant wave that sunk the group. They lost consciousness in seconds.

§ § §

"Do you think they'll wake up?"

"They will. They had oxygen condensers on them and the girl had a team of Water Pokémon that helped us take them to the sub. Besides, look at their vitals. Nothing to see here. They are all fine and healthy."

"Okay …"

Ash's eyes fluttered. He was in a brightly-lit room with two faces above his and what felt like a hospital bed under him. The faces retreated when his eyes fully opened.

"See? I told you they'd wake up."

"It's only one out of four, Doc."

Now Ash could see clearly who was talking. It was a middle-aged man with black hairs and … short pointed ears? Was he still dreaming? The boy at his side had bright blue hairs and aqua eyes and both were wearing lab coats. The elder man smiled.

"How do you feel, son?"

"Fine, I think. Am I dreaming?"

"Nope. You're well awake. I'm Dr. Enzo Takeshi and this is my assistant, Sylvio. I guess you're wondering where you are and how you ended up here. That's common questions for those who wind up in my care."

"Then I guess I'm gonna ask them. My friends and I were caught in a storm. Not even my Lapras could take us out."

Enzo's face darkened.

"Yeah, the storm. You and your friends drowned, only to be rescued by a team of sea guards that wander the sector especially for cases like yours. They took you here, in New Naibel, and entrusted you to us. Your friends are in neighboring rooms."

Ash nodded and looked at himself.

"When can I leave?"

"Right now. Your clothes are in the bag right next to you and your Pokémon are at the Center, right next to the hospital. You and your friends didn't suffer anything serious."

"Thanks doc. Now, if I may … what about your ears?"

Enzo laughed.

"Ah, that! Everyone from the surface asks that question. Ever heard about the Ancients?"

"I have an Ancient as my ancestor, a powerful Aura Guardian called Sir Aaron. Also, my mentor is one."

"I see. Actually, my father is an Ancient. To be exact, he's an elf while my mother is a human. I'm a hybrid, that's why I have short yet pointy ears. Also, you may not see them right now but Sylvio has gills on his neck due to being a pureblood naiad. They're closed right now because we're in the air, but once underwater, they instantly show up. Usually, though, the blue hairs are a clue that he's not human."

Ash's eyes widened. Silver had indeed told him the Ancients had several sub-species, but he didn't think he would see some with his own eyes. Enzo smiled.

"The entire population of New Naibel is mainly made of Ancients and people who stayed behind after being rescued. We don't come to the outside world because we're believed to be extinct and the local gods don't like us much. This said, there are some Ancient communities scattered here and there across the world, and some of us live secretly among your kind."

"That's right. My mentor told me about the Five Ancient Kings and the Legendary Craftsman. Also, I saw an Ancient Queen come back to life at Shamouti. Her name was Nathea. Arceus tried to kill her the moment she appeared, but Giratina held them back from fighting."

Sylvio smiled.

"We felt it. Since all of us Ancients can use Aura, we were able to tell when Nathea returned. There was a huge celebration. Do you know what she's doing right now?"

Ash decided to lie.

"I don't. I only saw the event from afar, as a bystander."

"I see. Well, thank you. You can take your leave."

"Thanks doc."

The boy quickly dressed and headed to the Pokémon Center. The moment he left the hospital, he froze. He was in a corridor whose ground was covered with a strange, multicolored and somewhat organic substance, but what was above was even more stunning. A kind of force-field served as walls and ceiling, holding back the big buckets of watery doom above. And every place that wasn't a building had a floor in the substance and a force-field ceiling. Then it hit him. New Naibel was an underwater city! That was why no one ever managed to find them! But wait, if they rescued people at sea, how did they prevent the rescued from telling the world about them? Anyway, Silver wasn't joking when they said Ancient technology was much more advanced than the actual one. An underwater city with force-fields! Awesome! The boy went to the Center to retrieve his team. Upon saying he was one of the four people from the storm, the nurse led him to a room which held several Pokémon. Pikachu, Rapidash, Axew, Onix, Lapras and Snorlax immediately jumped at him. Joy smiled.

"Alright, they're yours. For them to greet you like that, you must be a caring Trainer."

Pikachu chuckled. This part was a bit of an understatement. Ash then noticed the nurse had slit pupils and a red tail in her back. The woman nodded.

"Right. Like most people here, I am a hybrid. My father was a tree-walker, a kind of Ancients with prehensile tails, green eyes, slit pupils and infrared vision. Yes, seriously. We have a second lid for this. I have it too, and just like my tail, it's very useful for my work."

"No ways! Even the Nurse Joy is part-Ancient!"

The woman laughed.

"Indeed. My mother was rescued during a shipwreck. She decided to stay and fell for my father. Usually, my father's kind prefers woodlands but he seems just fine in New Naibel. His name is Tellac. Me? I'm Xochita Joy."

"You've got an exotic name!"

"Tree-walkers name always sound exotic. They make a point to keep them so to remember their lost land."

"Yeah, I heard the Ancient's world was destroyed in a war."

"Indeed."

Ash retrieved and returned his friends before looking outside.

"How do you make these force-fields? I've never seen anything like this before."

"Actually, this is a hydrostatic field that pushes back water and is powered by a power plant that uses the energy from sea currents to make electricity."

"Wow!"

"Isn't it ever? The seven other underwater cities are built on the same model."

"What? There's more?"

"Yes." The nurse smiled. "When the Ancient world merged with this one, parts of the Southern Archipelago merged with the Orange Islands to form the region you now know. Of course, most Ancient cities were destroyed in the process. Our ancestors first rebuilt them on solid ground, before hiding underwater as time went on and it became clear our kind belonged to the past. The eight Underwater Cities are New Naibel, New Releis, Neo Araman, Neo Atlantis, New Daria, New Manae, Neo Avallon and New Shanabi."

Ash nodded. Naibel, Releis, Araman, Atlantis, Daria, Manae, Avallon and Shanabi. He wondered where they were located.

"You know a lot about history."

"History is a topic everybody here is good at. If we forget our history, we forget who we are, where we come from and are denied our rightful legacy as Ancients. Every one of us must know who he is and what is the burden of being an Ancient, a foreigner. An Outworlder. When Eä still existed, we were quite distrustful toward those who came from other worlds. Now is our turn …"

The boy couldn't help but note that, despite being half from the Pokémon World, Xochita was fully identifying to her father's culture. The door suddenly opened to reveal Misty.

"Ash, you're alright!"

"Misty! Finally awake?"

"Yes. I was surprised when I saw the doctor had pointy ears! And I heard his assistant had gills too!"

"Of course! They're Ancients. New Naibel is a city of Ancients. Even Nurse Joy is one!"

"No ways!"

"I promise!"

He quickly summed up what the nurse had told him. The red head was wide-eyed.

"Great Kyogre! I knew Silver was an Ancient, but I didn't think I'd see others!"

"Now I think of it, his friends at Shamouti were also Ancients. Adriel, Stellan, Lucy …"

"Got that right."

She soon reunited with her team and was thanked for their training. Apparently, they had been a great help when the sea guards came to rescue the group. The two went to the main plaza and looked for a place to stay, at least until Tracey and Silver woke up. The artist soon joined them. Silver only awoke after three hours.

"For someone as strong as him, I'm surprised it took him so long to wake up." Misty noted.

The man's team was with the kids. Blitz sighed.

"Silver isn't completely invincible. His powers are nothing compared to what they originally were, and he has a phobia that hardly ever shows: the fear of drowning."

Ash's eyes widened, remembering the shipwreck during the Kanto journey and how Silver had nearly drowned during the incident. Looking back at it, travelling across the Islands should have been a torture for him. What with the perpetual risk of a storm …

"When he was young …" Blitz explained. "Silver fled home on a ship and fell off board during a storm. He would have died if a creature similar to Gyarados didn't rescue him. Ever since, though he doesn't mind taking a bath, being under huge amounts of water makes him ill-at-ease."

"I see."

Armed men with Golduck appeared. Silver frowned.

"What do you want?"

"The mayor wants to see you. It is important."

The foursome followed the men up to a high spire in the middle of the city. Unlike most building, this one was made of only the solid ceiling and the hydrostatic field. A man was waiting for them. He has blue hairs, aqua eyes, a pale skin, and looked in his early forties. His outfit was made of white pants and sandals decorated with lapis lazuli, diamonds and turquoises, a long white coat spotting wave motives and finally, a net shirt that revealed sculpted abs. Silver bowed.

"You wanted to see us. Why?"

The man looked deeply at the silver-haired Ancient.

"Silver Nor Shadow. The Shadow of Tarnished Silver. The Guardian of Ice. I was surprised when I heard one of my rescue teams had found you."

"And I thank you for that. I think I would've died without them."

The mayor smirked.

"For someone who used to be one of Eä's strongest Elemental Guardians, that's a surprise. But I didn't call you to talk about the past. I know your reputation. And I know from certified sources that your travelling companions are powerful in their own rights. Am I right?"

"You are. Ash is my adoptive son and personal student, Misty is a Water Master and Tracey has his own qualities. What do you want?"

The man sighed.

"Your help. My name is Lucano, mayor of New Naibel, one of the eight Underwater Cities. I wonder if you know it, but every one of us keeps an artifact that once belonged to our world. Some of these are simple items. Some possess tremendous power. The artifact New Naibel was keeping is the Tide Pendant."

Silver's eyes widened.

"The Tide Pendant!? You mean, the pendant that once belonged to the water god Ocean and he entrusted to the Leaders of the Archipelago during the war that destroyed Eä?"

"Exactly. This jewel has the power to control the tides, which makes it a deadly weapon in the wrong hands. Someone … stole it."

Silver froze. At the same time, Misty looked at her friends.

"A pendant to control the tides! I thought it was just a rumor, but if it's true and it was indeed stolen, we're in trouble."

"More than you believe." Silver frowned. "I was here during the war. Eä was fighting invaders from the Gods' former world. Ocean entrusting the pendant to the Leaders of the Archipelago was his final act before being killed. With it, the Leaders were able to control the sea and literally turn the tides in their advantage … until the invaders sent an army so great that even with the pendant, the Archipelago would lose. The Leaders decided to trap the islands instead and fled. When the army invaded them, they blew up every single city and finally used the pendant to sink the rest. The invading army was gone … but so was the Archipelago. I remember seeing the event on TV. The water wall was ten miles high for a hundred long. It completely submerged the Archipelago in a single sweep. No one could believe it."

Neither could the three kids. A wall of water ten miles high for a hundred long!? That was insane! Lucano nodded.

"So true. I was here too. I was only ten at the time, but I remember seeing it with my own eyes as the ship I was in reached Naya Harbor. For a moment, I believed Ocean had returned and was punishing our enemies. The pendant harbors tremendous powers. It's a divine artifact, after all. And it was stolen by …"

"The Rocket Rebels."

Everyone turned to see a familiar trio enter. Ash grinned widely.

"Jessie! James! Meowth!"

The boy jumped at them and hugged them tightly. The trio returned the embrace before looking at the mayor.

"The rebels managed to sneak into this city and steal the Tide Pendant. We were warned that the artifact was powerful, but to sink an entire archipelago in one wave? We have to get it back. And fast."

Ash nodded.

"Count us in."

"Yeah." Misty smiled. "The Rebels are old enemies of ours. We'll stop them once more."

Tracey shook his head.

"We can't let them have an item like the Tide Pendant. We'll help you."

Silver's eyes hardened.

"The pendant belongs to us. It is a gift from one of our gods. We will get it back in memory of Ocean."

"Thank you. We'll give you one of our subs and whatever else you need. We must get the Pendant back!"

An hour later, the Rocket trio and the group were inside one of Naibel's fastest submersibles. According to witnesses, the Rebels were heading to a small island near south-west of Pummelo. The locals called it Salvy. Jessie nodded.

"There was suspicion that the Rebels had a base here. We were going to look for it when we were caught by a storm."

The two groups landed on the beach of a small bay, away from prying eyes. As it turned out, the island was covered in lush forest and had a mountain in the middle. A flower field filled with Vileplume could also be seen from afar. Now, how to find the hidden base? Tracey smirked.

"Knowing the Rebels, they are most likely going to find us first. After all, Ash is an important target to him since he is Giovanni's son."

No sooner had he said that that the group fell in a pit trap. Said trap led them into a sealed room with no apparent door. Silver looked at Tracey.

"Smart kid."

"Thanks … but where is Misty?"

Misty looked at the trap she had narrowly avoided. She couldn't see the bottom of it and even though her friends were below, she didn't feel like following them. A rustling in the bushes made her take a poke-ball. Whatever it was, she had to be careful. She was in enemy territory, after all. Seeing a tree, she quickly climbed in. A clever move for, a few moments later, two men in black clothes and a red R appeared.

"That was quite the catch! That annoying trio, the silver-haired man and Giovanni's young son! The boss's gonna be happy …"

Misty frowned. If she followed these guys, she could find the base and rescue her friends … given they didn't escape on their own while she was away. This was more than a probability. She jumped down the tree, the poke-ball still at hand. It held Starmie. In case of a fight, he would be more than happy to jump in the action and kick some rebel ass. She went after the two, hiding behind trees, rocks and bushes until they reached a lake. Moving a rock, they entered the cavity that had appeared in the ground. The girl grinned. She was about to follow when someone grabbed her arm.

"What do we have here? An intruder?"

Misty didn't answer. Instead, she sent her elbow in his nose and span to deliver a knee between the legs. The man bent in two. His Pokémon, a Primeape, jumped on the girl who released her starfish partner. One Psychic later, the monkey was gone. Its Trainer took a knife, only for Misty to twist his wrist and Starmie to knock him out with Power Gem. Misty smiled.

"Well done, Starmie!"

A noise in the bushes made them abruptly turn, only for a small Poliwag to appear. The creature looked at them with wide eyes. Misty hesitated a moment before pushing the rock and entering the passage that appeared, Starmie still at her side. Footsteps behind indicated the tadpole was following. Trainer and Pokémon looked at one another and shrugged. They followed the steel corridors, listening to any noise and looking for clues to their friends' location. Poliwag followed the whole time.

Ash took a poke-ball.

"Rapidash, go!"

The Shiny Pokémon appeared and whined.

"Open the door!"

The creature nodded and charged Inferno. A burst of fire later, the crew was out.

"Now, let's find the Tide Pendant before the Rebels actually use it!"

Silver smiled.

"The Pendant is a divine artifact. It's chock-full of Aura, so we shouldn't have trouble locating it."

He released Riyo who stretched.

"I've heard what you said. Alright, where is it?"

The Lucario closed his eyes as Ash did the same. The boy smiled.

"I'll have a Lucario too, one day. They're really cool."

"Thanks. My kind is the traditional partner of Aura Guardians."

Son enough, the two had located the jewel.

"It's right in the middle of the base, in the command center. The local Rebel leader is there too."

Jessie smiled dangerously.

"Two birds in one stone. Let's go."

She released Arbok and Lickitung while James took out Weezing, Parasect, Growlie and Victreebel. Soon, the group was storming the base like devils. No amount of Pokémon or weaponry was enough to stop them, not even guns thanks to Silver's ice powers and Ash's Aura Shield. The command center was heavily fortified. Two Aura Spheres, a Fire Blast, Inferno and Flamethrower later, it was open. A man was waiting for them, clad in black and red. A necklace made of a golden chain on which was hanging a translucent turquoise sphere was hanging in his hand.

"Hello to you too. There are less brutal ways to knock, you know?"

Ash looked at Tracey, then at the Rocket trio and his mentor. His face was dead serious.

"Pikachu, Thunderbolt!"

A Pokémon jumped before the man and absorbed the attack. A Marowak! The creature twirled his bonemerang and sent it to Pikachu, only for Ash to catch it with an Aura-filled hand and throw it back. The Marowak retrieved it and glared at the boy. His Trainer sighed.

"What kind of manner is this? They never taught you brat to present yourself before striking, at least?"

"Doesn't matter. We want the Tide Pendant back. Give it now or we fight."

"At least your intentions are clear. Well, no can do. I won't return the pendant. Its power is too impressive that we let go of it. With this, Giovanni is a dead man and the Orange Archipelago is ours."

"You moron!" Silver snarled. "This pendant holds the power of a god! The Ancients used it to sink an archipelago the size of this one in a single attack! If you can't control it, there won't be anything for you to rule!"

"Oh, we don't plan on starting big right from the start! We're not that stupid! Thanks for telling us the limits of this jewel, though. Sinking an archipelago in one move? Interesting. I wonder how well it will do on land …"

He ducked under one of Ash's Aura Spheres. Silver was surprised by Ash's aggressiveness. The boy wasn't so violent most of times. There, he was downright ruthless. The man frowned. Raising his hand, he made the pendant glow. The island shook.

"I hope you have an escape pod, because this island will soon disappear. Let's go, Marowak."

He was about to jump to an open door when something round and blue jumped and slapped his hand twice, making him drop the pendant. The creature retrieved it and gave it to a person located at the broken front door. Ash smiled.

"Misty!"

Misty patted the creature.

"Well done, Poliwag. You know, it took me some time to find you. Until I saw the remains of your fights. You're dirty fighters, you know …"

"Of course …" Tracey joked. "Since you're a Water Master, your fights are cleaner than this."

Silver quickly jumped in front of the Rebel leader. The man growled.

"It doesn't matter! The island is doomed anyway! We're all going to die!"

"Not if I can help it."

Misty closed her eyes and held the Tide Pendant. She could feel the strength of the sea raging inside, its might, slow and unstoppable. She would stop it. Now that she could feel the underwater fluxes, she focused on them and deprived the surging wave of its strength, until only a medium-sized tidal wave hit the shores. Nothing serious. A smile crossed her face. As she held the pendant, she could feel her mind embracing the magic sealed inside. She was a Water Master. She commanded Water Pokémon. And with this jewel, she could command the sea as well. The power of a god in the palm of her hand, the power of Ocean, Kyogre or Lugia! It was amazing! For a moment, she was tempted to use it, to summon the waves and play god …

'The Leaders of the Southern Archipelago used the pendant to summon a giant tidal wave that wiped away the fleet trapped within their cities. Doing this, they also destroyed the archipelago.'

Not happening. Misty instantly snapped out of her trance and shivered. For a moment, she had felt incredibly strong and it had nearly driven her mad. Now she knew how power could corrupt people. This pendant was dangerous in more ways than one. She looked around and grinned at the sight of Victreebel holding a beaten Rebel leader and Ash rubbing his fists with a victorious smile. He most likely was the one behind the bruises. Pikachu was standing over Marowak with his ears in the back and his fangs bared, Silver was smugly smiling and Jessie, James and Meowth had a dangerous smile while looking at their victim. No guess what would happen to him …

"Well, we've got the pendant back. Mission complete." Silver smiled. "Let's return to Naibel."

The way back was peaceful, even though Misty seemed nervous. Not so surprising, the little Poliwag stayed at the girl's side all along.

"Looks like he likes you." Tracey smiled.

"Once we're at Naibel, I'll be sending Omastar at Cerulean City and catch him. He's a cute guy, and he helped us retrieve the pendant."

Poliwag jumped in happiness. As soon as they arrived at the hidden city, they gave Lucano the pendant personally. In return, the mayor allowed Jessie, James and Meowth to keep the Rebel Leader. Then Misty told what she felt as she used the jewel. The man nodded.

"Wielding god-like powers is a double-edged sword for any mortal. Many held this pendant and felt the urge you felt, that to abuse its might. But you resisted, which is a good omen. You are a Water Trainer, right?"

"Right."

"And this among two Aura Guardians. Never felt the desire to have powers equal to them?"

"Are you tempting me here? Well, it's not gonna work. I've been around Silver and Ash for long enough that I'm happy as a normal girl. I don't need superpowers. My fists and teammates are enough to take me out of any trouble."

Lucano chuckled.

"I like that answer. Then I guess you won't mind if I entrust the Tide Pendant to you. It will be a major asset during your journey, and you proved level-headed enough to resist the temptation of misusing its powers. I safely assume Ocean's legacy is safe in your hands."

"Why not keep it? You've been doing that for three thousand years!"

"And never did it leave Naibel in this time lapse. We failed our duty. Now is your turn to watch over the pendant."

Misty sighed.

"I guess I really don't have a choice. Alright, then. If I get mad with power, at least Silver and Ash are here to stop me."

The simple thought made her shiver. Lucano nodded.

"Now, before a stranger leaves Naibel, we give him a serum that erases his memories of the time within our walls. You are different. Not only is one of you a famous Ancient, but you also helped us prevent a serious disaster. You and your three friends will keep your memories intact. Go now. And don't tell anyone about us."

"That's a promise."


And done! Two more chapters and the story is over. You all know what's going to happen next ... and you know what? I can't wait to start writting. I have some cool ideas in mind for Ash's fight against Drake, but I first need to know: can I make my own mega-evolutions? I know some of you hate fakemons with a passion, so I don't want to deceive you and invent fake evolutions if you don't like it. Well? Also, I made a new poll in my profile to know which music will be used for Ash vs. Dragonite. The two musics are pretty epic, but your vote will help me decide which will be the final battle theme. Personally speaking, I like both.

Now, I'm quite happy with the Gym Battle. Yes, Luana's Alakazam mega-evolved, but it was kinda useless ... and Ash played her like his golden flute. Yep, kiddo can be sneaky. The group even comments on it! For New Naibel, its design is based on the Gungan cities from Star Wars. Those ho saw the Phantom Menace know what I'm talking about. And you get to know more about the Ancients. Yep, for them to sink what amounts to a small continent, they were pretty desperate ... Naibel and the other cities come from a novel I finished writting and is called The Maiden from Hell. I'm also a real novelist aside from those little fanfics. I even have a map of the world I'll post on DeviantArt soon. My boyfriend made an upgraded version for my birthday ... Now, about those reviews ...

- Adjuster: the rating will mostly remain T, but some scenesI'll actually warn about beforehand wil lbe rated M. I did the same with another of my fanfics.

- HinekoAkahi: mega-evolved Aura Sensitive Gardevoir = total party kill. Also, you and I have the same problem about updates ...

- LightRayPearlshipper: sorry, I find it funnier that way. I hope I did better here. And sorry for the type mistake ...

- Amalgam24: wait for the third movie to know. You'll like it.

- Siggimondo: you forgot to comment Oak's Corral. For the Chekov's Gun, you'll see later on and, for theTrue Names, they are either in the profile page or in the data files at the end of each story. And indeed, a Pokémon revealing his True Name to his Trainer is always a special event. Yes, Axew is badass. ANd you know what? He'll evolve in Johto so expect more of it. For the reviews at the end, several of you ask the same questions and do mostly the same comments, so answering here is faster than PM. However, when a reviews needs a private answer, I PM the reviewer. I did it before several times. Finally ... thank you.

- WhiteEagle1985: did I say that? Oh, I must've forgotten ...

- SaiyaStyles: so you're fine with fan-made mega-evos? Alright. Two votes for, zero votes against (somebody also said yes in another story).

- Stallion6 of Deviantart: *wink*

- Babii Panda: Ash is getting a Dragonair, Flygon, Altaria, Garchomp, there's always Charizad's possible mega-evolution, his wife will be a Dragon and he'll end up raising a baby Giratina. Finally, he'll have an artifact to control Rayquaza and, later, Zekrom. For the Dragons of Kalos, I can't say anything because it's spoiler. The Siver Soul will be introduced in the story after Hoenn. Ho-Oh will indeed spend some time with Ash and ... just read next chapter when it comes. Finally, Ash and the Silver Soul won't always stay together since both have their own families to care. As said by the Council, this time, Ash's counterpart is a dude. And since I prefer to be careful with any kind of Yaoi ... The fandom has a bit of an issue here.

- avengeme: you must've loved this chapter then. Unfortunately, Misty won't be the happy one. She won't follow him too, but will be here during the clash between Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza. Also, why do you think I take my time to update? I want things to fit like puzzle pieces (I love puzzles). Psyduck will eventually overcome his trauma, and people will start to rightfully shiver. Finaly, Ash won't rotate team members. I prefer he does every region with only the Pokémon he catches here. He still spends a month at Pallet Town caring for his friends after each journey, though.

- Latias4lyfe: bingo.

- Advent of Shadows: if you like battles, you're gonna love the next chapter. Warning, awesomeness ahead.

- anon: Ash will be married and with children when going to Kalos. Serena romance won't really be an option ...

Well, see you next time. I've got to prepare a really big battle. And don't forget the poll!