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Fanfiction Off the Path

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Gazi, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. Gazi

    Gazi Bird Keeper

    Level 2
    May 27, 2018
    Sequel to my story Changing the Plan.
    Chapter 1

    Log num. 37.

    Update on the Mewtwo situation: He has escaped.

    I’ve known from the start that this was inevitable. Mewtwo is far too powerful to be confined forever. I had hoped to get Mewtwo away from Team Rocket’s clutches, but this was not how I would have wanted it to happen. Mewtwo is still extremely unstable, emotionally, mentally, and, I suspect, physically as well.

    I thought that Mewtwo had developed fully, or at least as much as he could, but I’m beginning to fear that is not the case. The ache in my arm has gradually been getting worse, and there are times when I lose function in it altogether. My cells are not responding well to the invading cells I got from Mewtwo, and I suspect that the same is the case for Mewtwo. I cannot be sure though, not until I study Mewtwo himself.

    Hopefully I will soon have the opportunity to do just that. And if there is a problem, with luck I may be able to find a solution to stop our cells from conflicting with each other. If I can’t find a way to make it stop...no, I must find a way. For both of our sakes.

    Mewtwo’s wellbeing and control is my responsibility and mine alone. I had expected that I would have to travel this path on my own, but I am pleased to say that is simply not the case. I have had the pleasure of meeting a young boy named Ash who has volunteered to help me find Mewtwo. Normally I wouldn’t dare endanger anybody else, but Ash has already encountered Mewtwo, and from what I heard he formed a connection of sorts with him. Mewtwo likely won’t trust me, but he may listen to reason if it’s coming from Ash. Despite the dangers, my best chance of success in my quest is to bring the boy with me. I will simply have to do my best to keep him safe.

    I need to make sure to be on my guard for any potential problems, not just Mewtwo. For all I know, there are dangers waiting just behind me, waiting for me to let my guard down before they strike.

    Maybe I’m being paranoid, but one can never be too careful. I’ve made a lot of enemies, especially since I left Team Rocket. I can’t afford to be too careless and trusting. I would allow myself to relax, except that Ash is not the only one that I’m traveling with. He has brought three companions with him, and they are the ones that I am worried about.

    Sabrina, Koga, and Lt. Surge are all gym leaders, just like I am, but other than that I know nothing about them, except that Giovanni had been the one to introduce Ash to them. I know this isn’t necessarily proof that they are members of Team Rocket. Giovanni could just as easily know them from their work as gym leaders.

    Ash trusts his companions. He says that they are his friends, and all of them have been quick to help him understand his pokémon better and be a better trainer in general. Despite Giovanni’s betrayal, Ash hasn’t considered the possibility that his other ‘friends’ are merely using him.

    I am not so trusting.

    I have considered warning Ash about his companions, but I don’t think I will. From what I’ve heard from Ash, the whole reason why Mewtwo helped him was because he was naive and innocent. If I want Mewtwo to listen to Ash, which I do, then I need him to keep his trusting nature.

    Even if I didn’t need Ash’s help for Mewtwo, I wouldn’t want to destroy his trusting nature. Especially when I don’t actually know for sure that they are actually members of Team Rocket.

    Even if Ash’s friends turn out to be trustworthy after all, I’m not sure if any of them should be on this journey with us. It may be dangerous or harmful for them, and not just because we’re looking for Mewtwo, who is extremely powerful. I am speaking just of traveling on this boat. For one reason or another, none of them seem to be fit to be on a boat in the middle of the ocean for an extended period of time.

    Take Koga, the poison type gym leader from Fuchsia City, for example. We’ve been out at sea for nearly three days now, and I’ve barely seen any sign of him. I don’t think he has come up from below deck once in all this time. Though I haven’t seen Koga myself, I know for a fact that his companions, Lt. Surge and Sabrina, take turns keeping him company. One of them is always at his side, and while I don’t know for sure why, I can take a guess.

    All of the pain medication on this ship has disappeared. I know this because this morning I woke up feeling like my arm was on fire. I went looking for something to dull the pain, but could find nothing. After searching for quite some time I finally went to Lt. Surge, who is the closest thing to a captain that this ship has at the moment, and he says that they’ve run out. Not that there never was any, but that they’re out. This means that there had been pain medication, but it’s gone now. I can only assume that Koga is the one that is hurt. I don’t know how injured he is, but my guess is that it’s fairly bad. If it wasn’t serious, then Lt. Surge and Sabrina wouldn’t feel the need to keep a constant eye on him and all the pain medication wouldn’t be gone.

    It is never wise to travel with any kind of injury. Especially out on the open ocean when there’s no way to get help of it is needed. And if we’ve run out of pain medication and Koga is as injured as I believe he is, then I fear for his well-being.

    Then there is Sabrina, the psychic type (is she psychic herself? Something to look into) gym leader of Saffron City. A strange girl to be sure. I don’t know a lot about her, but she makes me uneasy. She is always looking at me as though she knows some dark secret (which is part of the reason why I believe all three of them are members of Team Rocket). Despite my hesitancy around her, I do feel sorry for the girl. She seems to be plagued with headaches that last nearly all day, and since she seems to be in constant pain I suspect that she saved all of the pain medication for her friend.

    As if that weren’t bad enough, Sabrina seems to be getting sea sick. Not horribly so, as she is still well enough to walk around, and she can even take control of the ship every once and awhile, but I’m still concerned. It seems that Sabrina is dealing with a constant feeling of discomfort, and I’m sure that the fact that the ship has been traveling in circles for the better part of two days now.

    And that brings me to Lt. Surge, the electric type gym leader of Vermilion city. An absolutely infuriating man. He introduces himself as Lt. Surge, but I do not know what he would have been Lieutenant of. His mannerisms and title lead me to believe that he is, or at least was, part of some kind of military. If that is the case, it might explain how he knows how to run a ship like this even though he’s not a sailor.

    If my theory is correct though, then it’s very possible that Lt. Surge has some kind of traumatic experiences, as I know many recent soldiers have. Could one of these experiences had something to do with the ocean, or a child, or both? If so, it would explain why Lt. Surge seems so distant and almost anxious when he’s behind the wheel. He does his best to hide it, but I know trauma when I see it. Was there some kind of boating accident caused by a wild pokémon that caused a child to be injured or worse?

    The reason I believe that a child has something to do with it is because whenever it’s Lt. Surge’s turn to take control of the ship (he and Sabrina switch off) he insists on having Ash at his side. Lt. Surge gets extremely on edge when Ash isn’t in arms reach, and the man has yelled at the boy any time he has seen him closer than five feet to the railing of the ship, as though he’s scared that he will fall overboard.

    I don’t know what happened, and I don’t necessarily need to know, but if the trauma is serious enough that it’s keeping Lt. Surge from doing his job as self proclaimed ‘captain’ of the ship, then maybe he shouldn’t be out at the ocean at all. Usually it’s not so bad, but whenever Lt. Surge gets any kind of readings from the equipment that suggest that a large pokémon, or even a large group of pokémon, is in the area, he will turn the ship around and find an alternate route. This combined with the way that I continuously say that we need to change course, as I can sense when Mewtwo has left for a new location, has made our progress extremely slow.

    The longer we’re out at sea, the higher tensions get. And I’m sure that now that there is no more pain medication and Koga might begin to be in even worse pain than he has been, that things will just get worse from here. Hopefully I’m wrong, but somehow I don’t think I am.
  2. Gazi

    Gazi Bird Keeper

    Level 2
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 2

    Ash grinned slightly as he leaned against the railing and watched his pokémon all enjoying themselves. Pidgeotto and Butterfree were up flying in the sky chasing each other, though they never went far from the ship. Squirtle, who never got very many chances to go swimming, was having a blast in the ocean. Ash was worried about him, of course, Squirtle just seemed so happy, and just so long as he stayed on top of the surface and in sight Ash didn’t see a problem with it.

    Pikachu and Bulbasaur were playing a game of catch. The two of them were tossing a pokéball back and forth between each other, with Pikachu running on the railing and Bulbasaur following behind him on the deck. Charmeleon was at Ash’s side, leaning against the railing next to him. Pikachu and Bulbasaur sometimes got reckless and bumped into Ash and Charmeleon, and that would normally irritate the fire pokémon, but he hadn’t given them a second glance. Charmeleon’s attention was focused solely on Pidgeotto and Butterfree.

    “Looks like somebody’s ready to evolve.” Ash jumped when he heard Lt. Surge’s voice behind him. He backed away from the railing so quickly that he accidentally stepped on Charmeleon’s tail and tripped. He would have fallen to the deck if Lt. Surge hadn’t caught him. “Watch yourself, kid. You don’t want to end up hurting yourself.”

    Charmeleon growled and finally tore his gaze away the flying pokémon to glare at Ash. The boy was scared for a moment that Charmeleon was going to use flamethrower at him, but Lt. Surge gave the pokémon a warning look, and he backed down and looked back at Pidgeotto and Butterfree.

    “You need to learn how to stand up to your pokémon.” Lt. Surge scolded slightly as he helped Ash sturdy himself. “They’re just gonna walk all over you.”

    “Sorry.” Ash said sheepishly. He just wasn’t like Lt. Surge. He wanted to be best friends with all of his pokémon, not be their master. But he knew that the man was right.

    “And another thing. What have I told you about being that close to the railings?” Lt. Surge scowled. Ash had known that the scolding was coming, he was just glad that Lt. Surge wasn’t completely freaking out at him like he did sometimes. Lt. Surge must be in a relaxed mood.

    “I know, I know,” Ash said. “I just wanted to keep an eye on Squirtle.”

    Lt. Surge looked slightly ill. “You let your pokémon swim in the ocean? Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?” Lt. Surge creeped closer to the railing to find Squirtle for himself, but he seemed to change his mind before he got there. “Bulbasaur, can you get Squirtle?”

    “Bulba,” Bulbasaur nodded and sent a vine whip off towards the ocean. “Bulbasaur!”

    “Squirt!” Ash heard Squirtle respond and a moment later Bulbasaur drew back his vine whip and pulled Squirtle back on board. Squirtle looked a little disappointed that his fun had been ended prematurely, but he didn’t complain much about it.

    “What’s the big deal?” Ash asked. He knew that Lt. Surge was scared of something or another in the ocean, but he never really said what was bothering him. Ash didn’t mean to be nosy, but he was curious, and a bit worried.

    “There are dangerous pokémon that live in the ocean,” Lt. Surge said quietly, like he was afraid of being overheard by said pokémon. “Unlike any pokémon you’ve ever seen.”

    Considering Ash had seen Mewtwo, he seriously doubted that was true. But he wasn’t about to say so. And just because the pokémon that Lt. Surge might be talking about might not be as strong as Mewtwo didn’t mean that they weren’t big, powerful, or dangerous too.

    I’ll be more careful.” Ash promised. He still wanted to give Squirtle a chance to swim around, but he supposed that could wait until they landed on an island and the water wasn’t so deep and dangerous.

    “Yeah, you’d better be.” Lt. Surge scowled as he glared out over the railing like the sea had personally offended him. He sounded kinda mad and grumpy, but Ash knew that he was just worried.

    “So, uh, what were you saying about evolving?” Ash asked partly to change the subject to something a little less ominous, and partly because he really was curious about what the man had meant.

    “Huh?” Lt. Surge dragged his eyes away from the ocean and looked at Ash almost like he had forgotten that he was there, even though he had talked to him just a few seconds ago. “Oh, your Charmeleon’s about ready to evolve.”

    “He is?” Ash looked over at Charmeleon, who looked as confused as he was.

    “You can’t tell?” Lt. Surge gestured to where Pidgeotto and Butterfree were. “Your Charmeleon can’t take your eyes off of those guys. He wants to be up there flying too.”

    “And that means that he wants to evolve?” Ash didn’t really understand how that worked.

    “Trust me kid, Charmeleons are perfectly happy keeping their feet on the ground. It’s Charizards that want to be up in the air. If your Charmeleon feels like it wants to fly, that means he’s ready to get wings of his own.”

    “Really?” Ash excitedly looked at Charmeleon. “You’re going to become a Charizard soon? That’s so cool!”

    “Char.” Charmeleon nodded and held its head up proudly.

    “He’s probably just waiting for the right time.” Lt. Surge smirked and put a hand on Charmeleon’s head. “You know, like when he’s in the middle of a battle or you’re falling off a cliff or something so he can make a dramatic save and be the hero.” Charmeleon huffed and turned his head in annoyance. Ash just laughed, because that did actually sound like Charmeleon. He was a really nice pokémon, but he loved to be acknowledged for just how awesome he was.

    “Don’t make that face, you know it’s true.” Lt. Surge chuckled at Charmeleon’s annoyance. “What about the rest of your pokémon?”

    Ash frowned slightly in confusion. “What about them?” He didn’t entirely know what Lt. Surge was talking about. This actually happened fairly frequently.

    Lt. Surge sighed slightly in exasperation. “When are you planning on evolving the rest of them?”

    “Uh, I don’t know.” Ash bent down and picked up Bulbasaur. “I guess just like with Charmeleon, they’re just waiting for the right time.”

    Lt. Surge looked at Ash in a strange way, like he felt sorry for him or was completely confused by his words. “Look, I get that you wanted your pokémon to decide for themselves if and when they were going to evolve, but you can’t seriously still think that.”

    Ash glared slightly at Lt. Surge. He was happy to get training advice from Lt. Surge and the others. His friends all knew a lot more about raising pokémon than he did. The problem came when their advice directly conflicted with how Ash believed he should treat his pokémon. Giovanni had tried to get Ash to stop treating his pokémon like pets or friends. Ash didn’t need Lt. Surge sharing his own opinion like it was the only right way to train pokémon.

    “I’m not going to force them to evolve.” Ash insisted fiercely.

    Lt. Surge put a gentle, calming hand on Ash’s shoulder. “Hey, hey, calm down. I’m not forcing you to do anything. I just...really think you should think about this. You’re heading into a dangerous situation. If you want your pokémon to protect you, don’t you think they’ll do better if they’re bigger and stronger. You know, if they’re evolved?”

    Ash looked at his pokémon, and besides Pidgeotto and Butterfree, who were still flying around, they were all paying close attention to what was being said. Charmeleon looked proud and fierce, like he was willing to pick up the others’ slack and keep Ash safe himself. Pikachu looked slightly annoyed, but also concerned. Pikachu looked thoughtful, though not very happy. Squirtle did look intrigued by Lt. Surge’s words.

    “...I’ll think about it.” Ash promised. He wasn’t necessarily against evolving his pokémon. That was why he still had the thunderstone that Lt. Surge had given to him before. He just felt like it should be up to them. “But...wait, how do you know we’re going into a dangerous situation?”

    Lt. Surge rolled his eyes. “Believe it or not, Blaine’s not as good at keeping a secret as he thinks he is. I may not know exactly what’s going on, but the more the old scientist tries to keep everything under wraps, the more convinced I am that it’s something really dangerous.”

    Ash bit his lip and flinched ever so slightly. He didn’t know how that made sense. People kept secrets all the time, but that didn’t necessarily mean that it was because of something dangerous. He couldn’t exactly say this though, because Lt. Surge was right, the secret was something dangerous.

    “Now, I’m not going to tell you to keep your nose out of business that you have nothing to do with, because goodness knows that would make me a hypocrite on an entirely other level, but...just watch your back.” Lt. Surge warned.

    “Stop trying to scare the boy.” Blaine said as he came up on deck and approached them. Lt. Surge rolled his eyes in annoyance when he saw Blaine. Ash sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. Here they go again.

    “Hey, I’m not the one dragging some kid along to do my dirty work for me.” Lt. Surge said irritably. Ash didn’t understand why, but Blaine and Lt. Surge just couldn’t seem to get along with each other. Ash knew that Blaine was suspicious of the other man, and Lt. Surge hated people who decided they didn’t like him before they ever got to know him.

    “That’s not what he’s doing.” Ash protested, because it wasn’t. Ash was helping Blaine with something, but the scientist wasn’t taking advantage of him. At least, Ash didn’t think he was. But then again, Ash had thought the same thing about Giovanni, and just looked what happened there.

    Ugh, Ash hated this. He didn’t want to be too scared to trust anybody. He didn’t have to make friends with everybody he met, but he didn’t want to make enemies either.

    “Whatever you say, kid.” Lt. Surge said like he didn’t believe him, but wouldn’t bring it up again.

    “Ash, I need to talk to you.” Blaine said. He was trying to hide it, but Ash could see that Blaine was favoring his left arm again. Mewtwo must be acting up again.

    “Yeah, okay.” Ash nodded as he looked at Lt. Surge. The man shrugged and turned Ash’s hat so it was on sideways.

    “Hey, no need to say anything, I know when I’m not wanted.” Lt. Surge put his hands in his pocket and made his way below deck. He stopped in the doorway though and turned to look back at Ash. “Just think about what I said.” With those words Lt. Surge was gone, probably to check up on Koga again. Ash didn’t know what was wrong with the ninja, but even though Lt. Surge and Sabrina hadn’t said anything, they were worried.

    “What was that man talking to you about?” Blaine asked. Ash couldn’t help but laugh slightly at the accusing suspicion in Blaine’s voice. He really, really didn’t like Lt. Surge and seemed to be looking for any reason to blame him for something.

    “He was just trying to give me some advice.” Ash said. “I really don’t get what your problem with him is.”

    “I just want you to be careful with what you believe when he talks to you.” Blaine said. Ash nodded, because he was trying to be careful about it. When Lt. Surge told him he should evolve his pokémon, Ash listened to what he had to say, but ultimately used his best judgement on the matter. He may be trusting, but he wasn’t an idiot.

    “What did you want to talk about?” Ash asked. “Is it Mewtwo again?”

    “Isn’t it always Mewtwo?” Blaine grimaced in pain. “He’s getting worse.”

    “Is Mewtwo mad again?” Ash asked, because it seemed like Mewtwo was always angry, and it was only getting worse.

    Blaine nodded. “I’m not sure if anything can calm his anger at this point. It might be foolish to try.”

    Ash frowned slightly and helped Blaine roll up the left arm sleeve of his shirt. Without asking, Ash began to unwrap the bandages. He didn’t know why Blaine had them wrapped up all the time, but it couldn’t be healthy. “Why do you have this wrapped up all the time? Does it help with the pain?”

    “Not exactly.” Blaine said as they both looked at the deformed skin on his arm. “It somewhat dulls my connection to Mewtwo, though that may be why I haven’t been able to narrow down on his location.”

    “Maybe you could try not wearing these bandages for a little bit.” Ash suggested. “It might help.”

    “Yes, it might.” Blaine agreed as he rolled down his sleeve again and put the bandages in his pocket. “Are you sure you want to help me with Mewtwo? I don’t think I can stress enough how dangerous it will be.”

    “I know.” Ash said, and he did. He had met Mewtwo himself, had seen how powerful he could be. He was aware of the risks, but it wouldn’t feel right to walk away at this point. “I want to help him.”

    Blaine smiled. “I thought you would say that.” Blaine straightened the hat that he was wearing, and for the first time Ash took notice of it. The hat looked normal, a white fedora with a red band around it, but it was the little feather sticking out of it that caught Ash’s attention. He hadn’t really paid much attention to the hat that Blaine had been wearing since they had started their journey on the boat, but now he couldn’t take his eyes off of it. There was just something so...familiar about that feather.

    “Where’d you get that?” Ash asked, pointing to the feather. Blaine smiled and carefully picked the little feather out of his hat and held it out to Ash.

    “It’s called a Rainbow Wing.” Blaine said. “I found it a few years ago when I took a journey to the Johto region.”

    “What kind of pokémon did it come from?” Ash asked as he looked carefully at the feather. He didn’t think there were any flying pokémon in the Kanto region with this coloring.

    Blaine grinned mischievously, like he had a secret. “They say that the feather comes from a legendary pokémon with rainbow wings.”

    Ash felt completely breathless. A pokémon with rainbow wings? “Do you mean Ho-Oh.”

    Blaine looked shocked. “How do you know about Ho-Oh?”

    “I-I think I saw it.” Ash said quietly. “Back when I first started my journey. That’s...that’s why Giovanni was so interested in me in the first place.” Ash handed the feather back to Blaine who seemed somewhat reluctant to take it back.

    “That’s...intriguing.” Blaine carefully put the feather back on his hat. “I wonder...” Blaine trailed off, and didn’t seem to show any signs of continuing.

    “...Wonder what?” Ash asked. Blaine shook his head.

    “I’ll tell you later.” Blaine said. “For now, I have to figure some things out for myself.”

    “Alright,” Ash was disappointed, but he didn’t let it show. He knew that Blaine had a lot of work that he still wanted to do. Ash didn’t like being kept in the dark, but he didn’t want to pressure Blaine into sharing something with him that he wasn’t ready for.

    “Watch out for yourself.” Blaine said. “And be careful out here. You never know what dangers can lie in the ocean.

    As much as Blaine and Lt. Surge tried to act like they didn’t have anything in common, they both said that the ocean was dangerous. Ash would have trusted either one of them, but for them both to have said it? Ash would be an idiot for brushing their warnings to the side.

    Though he was left to wonder; just what was out there?
    Wings likes this.
  3. Gazi

    Gazi Bird Keeper

    Level 2
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 3

    Koga closed his eyes and slowly breathed in through his nose. He inhaled until his his ribs started to burn. Even then, he pushed through the pain and continued to draw in breath until the pain became near unbearable. Only then did he breathe out through his mouth just as slowly as he had breathed in. It was painful and difficult, but that wasn’t going to stop him from doing his exercises.

    Koga usually did his meditation sitting down, and he would mentally block out any of his surroundings that might be a distraction. At that moment though he was taking a different approach. He had been spending far too much time these past few days sitting down, and he felt the need to get his body moving. Lt. Surge wanted him to take things easy, but that just wasn’t in Koga’s nature. Injured or not, he needed to be mentally and physically prepared for anything.

    Koga began to breathe in again as he silently slid one of his feet forward. He raised his arms and slowly pushed them forward, shifting his main weight to his front foot as he did so. Koga then began to shift his weight more to his back foot as he drew his arms back to his torso, as though he was pulling something back to him.

    Koga focused on his breathing and slow movement. He let his movements be inspired by the motion of the boat and sound of the ocean. If he really concentrated, he could almost forget about the constant pain in his chest.


    Koga grimaced and couldn’t help but let out a slight grunt at the sudden flaring pain in his ribs. He faltered in his exercises, and with most of his weight on just one of his feet, it wasn’t really the best time for faltering. Koga would have lost his balance and fallen to the ground, but he was caught by firm, solid arms that just had to belong to Lt. Surge.

    “Well, now you’re just showing off.” Koga grunted. His pride made him want to get to get to his feet, but he knew that Lt. Surge wouldn’t loosen his grip for a few minutes, so there really wouldn’t be any use in even trying.

    Koga expected Lt. Surge to smugly brag about how he had, once again, been able to sneak up on him, even though Koga was the one who was the ninja. Lt. Surge usually took every opportunity he could to act like an arrogant jerk, in the best possible way. Koga was usually annoyed with Lt. Surge’s cocky behavior, but at this moment he actually missed it. He definitely prefered it when Lt. Surge goofed off much more than when he got all serious.

    “So I’m guessing your chest doesn’t feel any better?” Lt. Surge asked. It sounded like he was trying to be lighthearted, but it was so forced that it was almost funny.

    “If anything, I think it’s gotten worse.” Koga shifted his weight slightly, and Lt. Surge seemed to see this as a sign that he should sit him down on the ground again, because for some reason the man seemed to have a thing against chairs.

    “Yeah, that’s what happens when we run out of pain meds.” Lt. Surge frowned guiltily, like it was his fault that they had run out. “I really don’t know what to do for you at this point.” He finished quietly.

    Koga sighed and leaned his head against the wall. “Whether you believe it or not, I am a grown adult. I don’t need you to babysit me. I can bare through a little pain.”

    “This isn’t a little pain.” Lt. Surge glared at him. “You can’t even breathe without it making your chest hurt. Like it or not, that’s serious, and you can’t make me not worry about it.”

    Koga sighed, because he knew that Lt. Surge was right. The man always made it his business when somebody that he cared about was hurting or in danger. “I honestly don’t know why you’re so concerned. You know that this isn’t the first time that I’ve broken a rib. I healed just fine back then.”

    “Yeah, but you had access to actual medical treatment back then.” Lt. Surge reminded him. “And no offense, but that was years ago. You’re older than you were back then.” Koga scowled at the reminder. He was by no means an old man, but he wasn’t in his prime anymore, and that was becoming increasingly more obvious with every year that passed. His body was just not aging well.

    “I still feel like I should be recovering better than this.” Koga huffed in annoyance and winced at the pain that flared because of it. Lt. Surge snorted slightly. At least he wasn’t being as serious anymore.

    “Why don’t you call up that friend of yours that helped you out last time?” Lt. Surge rubbed his nose. “I’m sure that Branco’s had his fair share of chest injuries.”

    Koga rolled his eyes. “His name is Bruno, and you know it.” Despite his annoyance, Koga considered the idea. Bruno of the Elite Four was a master of fighting type pokémon. He did passionate, rigorous training by himself, so even though Koga didn’t actually know for himself, he believed that it was safe to assume that he’d dealt with injuries like this before. And Koga knew that Bruno liked to do his training up in the mountains, where he wouldn’t have access to medical treatment. He probably would have an idea of what Koga should do.

    And besides that, it had been a long time since Koga had seen Bruno. It would be nice to catch up again.

    Koga had met Bruno years ago after an assignment from Team Rocket had taken a bad turn. He had been assigned to lead a search for a legendary pokémon. The search had lead them through a series of tunnels, but then a cave in had happened and he suddenly found himself separated from the rest of his group. Koga had spent hours trying to find his way out, but he wasn’t getting anywhere quickly. He had been exhausted and injured from his mission, and could barely keep himself moving.

    Koga had been wandering blindly, wishing desperately that he had thought to bring his Golbat on this assignment with him, when he’d run into Bruno. The man had been training in the area, and had taken notice of Team Rocket’s presence. He had been in the tunnel caves to investigate what they had been doing there when he had stumbled upon Koga.

    Bruno had immediately recognized him as a member of Team Rocket, as he had been wearing his uniform, but he had still helped him out of the cave and brought him to the camp that he had been using during his training. Bruno had been suspicious of Koga at first, and had interrogated him about what Team Rocket had been up to. Feeling indebted to the man that had helped him, Koga told him that they had been looking for the legendary bird Articuno, who they heard had been seen in the area, but hadn’t been able to find it.

    Bruno hadn’t trusted Koga at first, but he had allowed him to stay at his camp anyways. In fact, Bruno had insisted on it. Koga had been hesitant, but he hadn’t been in any state to refuse, so he had stayed the night. Koga hadn’t trusted Bruno any more than Bruno had trusted him, and because they hadn’t trusted each other as far as they could throw each other, they had both just stayed up all night long, just to be sure that they weren’t attacked when their backs were turned.

    Bruno had spent the majority of the night training. Koga had watched Bruno for a bit before he had started to mimic his training. Koga was a martial artist, just like Bruno was, but their styles were nothing alike. Koga was intrigued by all fighting styles though, so he had given it a try. After some time Koga showed Bruno some of his own training, and after that the two of them had spend the rest of the night just talking about what else they had in common, and by the time morning came they had become closer friends than either of them had expected.

    Koga had only seen Bruno a handful of times since that first meeting, though they did regularly exchange messages delivered by flying pokémon, sharing what they were up to.

    “I suppose I could see what he has to say.” Koga said slowly. “But we’re in the middle of the ocean. Neither Golbat nor Venomoth are strong enough fliers to get to wherever Bruno is.”

    “Ash’s Pidgeotto might be.” Lt. Surge pointed out, and he had a point. Pidgeottos were known to be quite strong fliers with large territories. Even if Ash’s pokémon was unaccustomed to flying over the ocean, Koga didn’t doubt that he would manage it.

    “I would feel better about it if his Pidgeotto was a Pidgeot.” Koga said. He knew that Pidgeotto would be able to handle the journey, but this was certainly an example of when a pokémon would be even more capable if they were fully evolved.

    Lt. Surge scowled. “Good luck convincing Ash to evolve it.” The soldier was extremely bitter, and Koga didn’t understand why.

    “Alright, what happened?” Koga asked tiredly. Lt. Surge was clearly upset about something, and Koga was sure that his friend would tell him what was on his mind without any kind of hesitation.

    Lt. Surge sighed and glared at the wall across from them. “I’ve just had a conversation with Ash. Whatever he and Blaine are up to, it’s dangerous, but the kid still seems to think that it’s a good idea to let his pokémon decide whether they want to evolve or not.”

    “I don’t see the problem with that.” Koga admitted. Just because pokémon were usually a lot stronger when they were evolved that didn’t mean that they were completely useless when they were unevolved.

    Lt. Surge huffed and got to his feet. He began pacing around, and Koga realized how bad it was. Whatever was on Lt. Surge’s mind, it was really bugging him. “...When I joined the military they recommended that we fully evolve our pokémon. They even provided us with evolutionary stones if we needed them.”

    Koga nodded, indicating that Lt. Surge should continue. “Of course, not everybody did what we were all but ordered to do. Either they really didn’t want to, or they weren’t able to get their pokémon fully evolved before leaving, but...it really wasn’t pretty.” Lt. Surge shook his head. “I lost count of how many people and pokémon got...hurt, because of it.”

    “Ah,” Koga understood now, but Lt. Surge wasn’t done yet.

    “I was tempted to not evolve some of my pokémon.” Lt. Surge admitted. “My superior convinced me to evolve them, and if he hadn’t then I swear I wouldn’t be here today. My pokémon saved my life, but they wouldn’t have been big or strong enough to do that if I hadn’t evolved them.”

    Lt. Surge stopped his pacing and just stared at the wall. There was nothing there, but Koga knew that Lt. Surge was seeing something that he couldn’t. “I just don’t want the kid to get hurt.”

    “None of us do.” Koga agreed. “But it’s ultimately his decision. We can’t force him to evolve his pokémon.”

    “I know.” Lt. Surge practically growled as he ran a hand through his hair. “I just...I don’t know.”

    Koga didn’t know what to tell his friend, but he was spared from having to think of something when the ship lurched suddenly as though they had hit something. The sudden motion caused Koga to irritate his ribs again, and it was a lot more painful as it had been before. Despite the pain, Koga believed that Lt. Surge was reacting worse to the lurch than he was.

    Lt. Surge’s eyes were wide and he looked almost scared. His body was tense and he had instinctively reached for his pokéballs, though he didn’t use any of them. “What was that?”

    “We may have hit something.” Koga grunted breathlessly as he curled inwards and tried to catch his breath. It wasn’t going very well.

    Koga had thought that Lt. Surge had looked scared before, but it was nothing compared to now. The man looked absolutely horrified, like he was living his worst nightmare. Koga’s pain may be near excruciating, but he would say that Lt. Surge was in more agony than he was.

    “Why don’t you go on deck and see what’s going on?” Koga suggested through clenched teeth. He was sure if he made his pain more obvious, Lt. Surge wouldn’t dare to leave his side, and that wouldn’t be good for either of them. Koga would put himself through more pain in an attempt to hide any of it from his friend. And he knew Lt. Surge well enough to know that his anxiety would just get worse if he didn’t take action.

    A determined look came to Lt. Surge’s eyes. “Yeah, I’ll do that.” Lt. Surge hesitated for a second before picking one of his pokéballs and letting out his Raichu. “”Keep an eye on Koga for me, Raichu. I’ll be back soon.”

    Koga hated how Lt. Surge spoke as though he was incapable and needed to be taken care of. But if the only way that Lt. Surge felt comfortable to leave him alone was if he left his pokémon with him, then so be it. Koga just needed Lt. Surge to leave, and he couldn’t help but breath a sigh of relief when he did, and then immediately regretted it.

    Koga unwillingly let out a noise that was a mix between a groan and a whine. Over these past few days he had gotten used to a consistent throbbing in his chest, with the occasional flare of pain that usually went away just as quickly as it showed up. The pain caused by the sudden lurching of the ship still hadn’t died down. In fact, it was just getting worse.

    “Rai?” Lt. Surge’s Raichu frowned in concern.

    “I’m fine.” Koga said stiffly. His chest hurt so badly that Koga found it hard to draw in breath through the pain. He couldn’t just survive without air, so Koga reluctantly tried to draw in a deep breath, and just this simple act caused his ribs to flare worse than they previously had.

    Koga swore breathlessly, a habit he had picked up from Lt. Surge, and clenched his eyes tightly closed. He couldn’t breath. He physically couldn’t handle taking in more air than a little bit at a time, and it just wasn’t enough.

    Koga’s pride prevented him from admitting it out loud, not even to Lt. Surge’s Raichu, but he was starting to think that he was not, in fact, fine.
  4. Gazi

    Gazi Bird Keeper

    Level 2
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 4

    Sabrina’d had enough of being out on the ocean. She wasn’t a seafaring person in the first place. The boat on the waves had been tolerable at first, and so had her psychic induced headache, but after three days of nonstop stomach aches and headaches, she was starting to just feel very sick, and she was tired of feeling really sick.

    Sabrina thought that she had been as patient as she could be, but her patience had worn thin. There was only so long she could deal with Lt. Surge and Blaine having a competition about who can be responsible for the most divergences and turnarounds. Sabrina had dealt with it for three days, and she was done with it.

    So when she was able to drag Lt. Surge away from the steering, the first thing she did w as find where the closest island was, and that was where she directed the ship. Fortunately for her they had reached the area of the ocean where a series of islands were located. Some people called them the Orange Islands, some people called them Sevii Islands. Sabrina honestly didn’t care what the islands were called, she just cared that there was some dry land nearby.

    Sabrina knew that the other passengers, but most especially Blaine, would be frustrated with the change in the path, but she really didn’t care. She wanted to get rid of her headache. She wanted to stop the ridiculous rocking of the waves. Most of all, she wanted to find something out there, be it medicine, herbs, magical healing water, she seriously didn’t care, but she needed something to give to Koga, because even if that man didn’t complain, he was in a lot of pain, and it was only getting worse.

    Sabrina was able to see the closest island in sight when Blaine came barging into the room. Sabrina knew that this would be happening, and she had warned her pokémon about it beforehand. They knew what to do.

    “I know that it’s frustrating that we’ve been changing course so much, but-what are you doing?!” Blaine’s casual and apologetic tone quickly turned to confused and furious when he ran into the reflection barrier that Kadabra had set up at the entrance.

    “I’m making a change in the itinerary.” Sabrina said simply as she kept her eyes on the island that they were steadily getting closer to. “We’ve been at sea for too long. We’re going to be spending a day or two ashore.”

    She could feel Blaine’s frustration and desperation behind her. “You don’t understand just how time sensitive the work that I’m doing is. We cannot afford to take a break.”

    Sabrina slowly turned and glared coldly over her shoulder at Blaine. “Are we any closer to finding whatever it is you’re looking for than we were three days ago?”

    Blaine seethed quietly. He didn’t answer her, because they both knew what the answer was. Whatever Blaine was chasing after, it wasn’t too keen on being found and was doing whatever it could to avoid them. Blaine may not be able to find whatever it was while they took a day or two off, but he also wouldn’t find it by sailing around in circles, and they all knew it.

    “That’s what I thought.” Sabrina turned her attention back to the ocean before her. “We won’t be able to help you find what you’re looking for if we’re injured, sick, exhausted, or just generally overworked. If we take some time off now, we won’t have to quit altogether later.” Blaine didn’t say anything to argue against her, so either he knew that she was right, or he had realized that there was no point in trying to persuade her.

    While Kadabra kept Blaine out of the room, just in case he took it upon himself to get them back on track, Sabrina focused on getting the ship to the island. She didn’t think it was that much of a problem. She may not be a sailor, but Lt. Surge had taught both her and Koga the basics on how to command a ship like this, and neither of them had forgotten. Sabrina could handle sailing a ship on the open water.

    It was only when they got right up close to the island did Sabrina see a potential problem. She was used to the open water, but too late she realized that, unlike Koga, she had never learned how to pull a ship into port. Sabrina was willing to give it a try, but she thought that she might just damage the ship and the island port if she tried to do it while only having a basic idea of what to do. Sabrina considered her options, and decided that it might be best if she turned the ship to the other side of the island and let the anchor down in some shallower water. If Lt. Surge wanted to redo the job himself, Sabrina wasn’t going to stop him. At the moment, she just needed to do what she felt most comfortable doing.

    Things went fairly smoothly for a bit, but then Sabrina tried to get just a little too close to the island. She was going slowly, careful of the shallower waters, and it seemed like everything would be fine. Sabrina hadn’t seen the coral just under the surface of the water, and they ran right into them. They were going slowly enough that Sabrina doubted the ship got damaged, but it definitely lurched, and that was a horrible shock.

    “”What are you doing?” Blaine demanded. Sabrina glared over her shoulder at him.

    “Calm down, we just hit some cor-agh!” Sabrina screamed in horror and clutched at her head as she felt a sudden and overwhelming feeling of panic well up inside of her. She knew that the feelings weren’t her own, which meant that somebody else nearby was filled with so much anxiety that she was feeling the effects of it too. Sabrina was most sensitive to the emotions of others when either she wasn’t feeling well herself, or if she was close to the other person.

    Sabrina brushed some hair that had fallen into her face back and stumbled back. The panic was so strong that she could barely think, let alone move, but she had to get to her boys. One of them was hurting, and she had to help them.

    Sabrina pushed past Blaine, ignoring the questions that he aimed at her. She would deal with him when she knew for herself what was going on. Sabrina went out on deck and kept a hand on the wall to keep herself steady as she tried to make her way below deck. It wasn’t quick going, especially since her inexplicable panic was just getting worse. Sabrina was almost to the door that would lead below deck when it was thrown open with so much force that she stumbled back in alarm.

    Lt. Surge stormed through the door aggressively, and Sabrina didn’t have to wonder just where all of the fear was coming from. Lt. Surge looked stern and determined, and anybody else might think that he was a man on a mission, but it was more than that. Sabrina could see the fear-filled distant look in Lt. Surge’s eyes.

    “Lt. Surge?” Sabrina pushed all of her own feelings to the side to focus on her friend. She approached him, but then flinched when he gripped tightly at her shoulders.

    “What did we hit?” Lt. Surge asked stiffly.

    “Calm down, Matis,” Sabrina said as gently as she possibly could. “It’s okay. We-I hit some coral. Nobody’s hurt, nothing’s going to get us, nothing is wrong.”

    “N-no.” Lt. Surge looked wildly out at the ocean, like he was seeing something, or at least looking for something, that just wasn’t out there. “No, no, something’s out there. Something’s...where’s...where’s the kid?”

    “Matis, Matis, look at me.” Sabrina put her hand against Lt. Surge’s face and made him look at her. “Ash is just fine. We’re all fine.” Her words weren’t doing anything to calm Lt. Surge. He was panicking, and Sabrina needed to get him to stop before he really spiraled out of control, for his own good.

    Sabrina took a deep breath and reached for one of her pokéballs. Still keeping one hand on Lt. Surge to ground him, she let out Alakazam. “Use calm mind.” She ordered. Alakazam didn’t hesitate to use the move on Lt. Surge, though Sabrina could feel the reaches of the move herself.

    Lt. Surge was still extremely tense, and there was still a deep fear in those blue eyes of his, but gradually he began to relax and calm down. Sabrina could still feel just how terrified he still was, but she knew that he had at least calmed down to the point that he wouldn’t do anything rash and foolish.

    Sabrina stood there with Lt. Surge for a few minutes as he gradually began to relax. He had stopped responding to her, and it didn’t take long for her to realize that he was mentally shutting down. It wasn’t the ideal situation, but Sabrina thought that it was better than how he had been before.

    Sabrina took Lt. Surge’s hand and gently guided him to sit on the ground. “I’m going to go get Ash. Stay here and wait for me, okay?” Lt. Surge didn’t respond, he just rested his elbows on his knees and clutched at his hair with his hands. Sabrina hadn’t expected him to do much more than this. She turned to Alakazam. “Continue to use calm mind. Make sure he doesn’t do anything foolish while I’m gone.”

    Sabrina got to her feet and went to look for the boy. She had barely made it three steps when Lt. Surge’s Raichu came running out from below deck, and it looked scared.

    “Rai, raichu, rai!” Lt. Surge’s Raichu barely spared a glance of concern at its trainer before going over to Sabrina and tugging on her pants. “Raichu!” Sabrina knew that something was wrong. She was tempted to look into Raichu’s mind to get an idea of what was bothering it so much, but she had the feeling that they really didn’t have the time to spare for that.

    “I’m coming.” Sabrina could find Ash after she knew what was going on with Raichu. Lt. Surge’s pokémon looked relieved at her words and it immediately turned around and made its way back below deck, with Sabrina right at its heels. Raichu lead Sabrina into the room where Koga had been staying, and she immediately saw what the problem was.

    “Koga!” Sabrina rushed forward and knelt by the ninja’s side. He looked like he was in absolute agony, and considering he had the tendency to hide his pain, this most certainly wasn’t a good sign. “What’s wrong?”

    “C-can’t brea-breathe.” Koga said breathlessly, and all of a sudden Sabrina felt a wave of fear hit her all at once. Alakazam was calming Lt. Surge, so that fear was coming from Koga, which concerned Sabrina even more than the fact that he was in pain.

    “Calm down.” Sabrina gripped Koga’s shoulder and lifted him to sit up straight. “You need to give yourself room to breathe.”

    “I can’t.” Koga said, but Sabrina wasn’t hearing it.

    “Yes, you can.” She insisted. “Just follow my lead.” Sabrina took Koga’s hand and put it on her chest so he could feel her breathing. It took a few minutes, but little by little Koga began to mimic her breathing. It was strained and obviously caused him great pain, but at least he was breathing again.

    “Is that better?” Sabrina asked. Koga nodded stiffly. “Do you think you can stand?” Another nod, though it was definitely more hesitant and cautious. Sabrina helped Koga slowly get to his feet. “We’ll get you some help ashore, okay?”

    “J-Janine.” Koga grimaced as he stood, and then scowled at himself for the pain he was in. “I-I have to…”

    “We’ll arrange for you to call her.” Sabrina promised. “But that means you’ll have to get better so that you’ll be able to talk to her.” Sabrina waited for Koga to get used to being on his feet before she began to lead him out of the room. Upon getting up on deck Sabrina saw that Lt. Surge was more aware than he had been when she had left him, and that was probably because Ash was now sitting next to him.

    When Ash saw Sabrina come up with Koga he got to his feet, his eyes wide in concern. “Are you okay? What happened?”

    Sabrina and Koga exchanged a glance. None of them had told Ash about Koga’s injury, it just hadn’t felt necessary, but there was only well that they could hide the fact that the ninja had broken ribs. When Koga didn’t answer, Sabrina took it upon herself.

    “When Koga learned that Giovanni was taking you to Cinnabar Island, he confronted him about it, and...well, not very many people are able to stand up to Giovanni and get away with it.” Sabrina said.

    “G-giovanni did this?” Ash paled and looked like he was going to be sick. “Why...Why’s he so mean?” Sabrina didn’t think that she had ever heard Ash sound as young as he did in that moment. She forgot sometimes that he was still just a child.

    “He likes to have things his way.” Blaine said. Sabrina hadn’t even realized that he was on deck with them. “People like that don’t know how to take no for an answer.”

    “Which is why one should always be cautious when dealing with them.” Sabrina said. She knew that her words would pretty much be ignored. Koga and Lt. Surge hadn’t learned how to pick their battles with Giovanni, and she imagined that Blaine and Ash wouldn’t be much better. Still, she had to try. Nobody could accuse her of not at least warning her companions.

    Sabrina sighed and watched as Lt. Surge’s Raichu went to join its trainer and curled up against him. Lt. Surge smirked weakly and put a hand on Raichu’s cheeks, which sparked slightly at the contact. Lt. Surge had to have been shocked, but he didn’t even flinch. He was so used to getting shocked by his pokémon that it barely bothered him anymore, and Sabrina didn’t know if that was impressive or concerning.

    Blaine also seemed to be watching Lt. Surge, and there was a strange expression on his face that Sabrina just couldn’t interpret. She hoped that this was a sign that he, at the very least, was realizing that they needed this break. “Do you see why we need to go ashore?” Sabrina asked.

    Blaine slowly exhaled impatiently as he looked from Lt. Surge to Koga. “...We’ll stay here for three days, no longer.” Blaine adjusted his white hat and walked off. He was clearly agitated, but Sabrina didn’t think that he was nearly as irritated as he acted like he was. After all, he had given them three days, and all Sabrina had initially asked for had been just one or two days. He wouldn’t have doubled their time off if he truly didn’t care about their wellbeing. She just wished that the scientist wasn’t so confusing, because Sabrina was just getting mixed messages from him.

    Ash frowned as he watched Blaine walk off. He looked vaguely disappointed, but also incredibly confused. “I’m sorry about him. Blaine’s a lot nicer than he acts like he is, he’s just a little stressed right now.” It was a bad sign indeed when a child felt the need to apologize for the behavior of an adult.

    “We’re all stressed right now.” Sabrina said. “That’s why we need this break.” Ash nodded in agreement.

    “Is there something I can do to help?” Ash asked, and he sincerely had the desire to help.

    Sabrina looked at Koga. “If you would go find a town and pick up some pain reliever, it would be a big help.”

    “I can do that.” Ash looked excited at the thought of doing some good.

    “I’ll go with him.” Lt. Surge got to his feet. “I could use some air.” Lt. Surge probably just felt the need to feel productive, and he would do so by making sure that Ash didn’t get himself into trouble. Sabrina didn’t think that it was healthy for Lt. Surge to hover over Ash, but at this point she thought that it would actually do them all some good. Sabrina couldn’t worry about Koga and Lt. Surge at the same time.

    “Be back before dark.” Sabrina said, and she felt like such a mother hen for saying such a thing. Ash and Lt. Surge could both be reckless sometimes, and Sabrina didn’t want to be the one to have to go out to look for them because they lost track of time training.

    “Okay!” Ash took Lt. Surge’s hand and all but pulled him away to go find a town on the island. “Let’s go!”

    Once the three of them were gone Sabrina was able to focus all of her attention on Koga. “What do you say we get started on setting up camp?” If they were going to be docked for the next three days, Sabrina for one didn’t want to stay on the ship. Camping wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but it was better than staying in a musty old ship that rocked when there was too strong of a breeze.

    “Sounds like a plan.” Koga agreed. “But remember to keep your eyes open for where Blaine puts his research. If we’re going to find out what he’s up to, we need to get our hands on those notebooks of his.”

    “And do it without bringing suspicion to ourselves.” Sabrina smirked ever so slightly. “It sounds like a challenge.” And there was nothing that Sabrina loved more than a challenge.
  5. Wings

    Level 54
    Jun 11, 2017
    Hey, not sure if you like comments being left on this thread, but I just wanted to say that I really like the pacing of the story and the overall structure of the sentences and the word choice. What strikes me the most is how well you balance dialogue tags with actions and don't have very many "filler" dialogue tags--only the ones that are necessary! Overall I really like this. I almost never read stories featuring Ash, but this one really caught my attention and think you have some well-developed writing!
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