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Fanfiction Off the Path

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

  1. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    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.
    Absolute Zero likes this.
  2. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    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 Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    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 Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    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 100
    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!
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  6. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 5
    Blaine sighed and looked over his research notebooks and journals. He had left most of his things back at his lab on Cinnabar Island, but he still had a fair amount of research with him, and he didn’t know what to do with all of it. Blaine didn’t think that it would be practical to bring all of his things ashore, especially when he still didn’t know if he could trust their traveling companions. But he didn’t want to risk being away from his work for the same reason.

    As much as he didn’t want to, he had to compromise. Blaine reluctantly grabbed his summarized research notes on Mewtwo. He had many journals that were packed with notes and observations about Mewtwo, but this one book had a broad summary of all of it. Blaine also grabbed a map of the Sevii Islands. He put these things in a bag that he would take ashore with him. The rest would have to stay on the ship. However, Blaine wasn’t about to leave his things unattended.

    “Ninetales, I have a job for you.” Blaine grabbed one of his pokéballs and let out his pokémon. The cabin was a little compact and crowded for Ninetales to comfortably stay in long term, and Blaine felt bad about that, but he had a job for her to do. “I need you to guard my research for a few days.” He gently stroked Ninetales soft fur and smiled fondly at her.

    “If I need my things, I may send Ash here to grab something for me. You remember Ash, don’t you?” Blaine asked. Ninetales nodded and let out a noise that was something like a whine. Blaine had previously introduced Ash to all of his pokémon, to be sure that they were all familiar with each other. “If someone else comes in here or tries to take my things, I want you to stop them, but don’t hurt them.” Blaine didn’t want to cause harm to anybody, but he had to protect his research. His work was much too sensitive to be seen by just anybody.

    Ninetales nodded again. She was ready and willing to accept her task. Blaine appreciated her loyalty and devotion to him. All of his pokémon were much more loyal than he deserved. Blaine knew that Ninetales would dutifully do as he asked. He would have to make it up to her later.

    With one more grateful pet Blaine shouldered his bag and left his pokémon. He closed the cabin door behind him, but didn’t lock it. He didn’t want to give his traveling companions any reason to believe that he had something to hide, even if he did. Blaine hadn’t been given any reason to believe that they would try to snoop through his things, but he was still cautious.

    Blaine went up on deck and looked over the ship railing to see Koga and Sabrina sitting on the beach, meditating together. Blaine watched them for a few moments and frowned in concern. He had known that Koga was injured, but he wouldn’t have ever guessed just how bad it was. The man was struggling to breathe. If that wasn’t a problem, Blaine didn’t know what was.

    Blaine wished that he could be of assistance, but he didn’t know anything about chest injuries. If Ash was the one that was hurt, Blaine would go out of his way to help him, but he didn’t think his help would be well received by Koga. The ninja seemed reluctant to accept help from Sabrina, and they had known each other for years.

    Blaine may not be able to help Koga himself, but he knew that he would be able to help by allowing him to have the time to heal. Blaine was still concerned about taking a break from looking for Mewtwo. He couldn’t shake the feeling that any hour that he wasn’t out there looking for Mewtwo was an hour that he would spend causing trouble for everybody around him.

    There wasn’t much that could be done about it. Blaine couldn’t in good conscience put somebody else’s health and safety at risk because there was a possibility that others might get hurt.

    Blaine sighed and made his way to the gangway that the others had lowered. Because they weren’t at the island’s port, and they had only been able to get so close to the island, the gangway stopped about five feet away from the shore, and just like everybody else Blaine had to jump into the ocean and wade the rest of the way.

    Blaine grimaced when he jumped into the ocean. Call him a stereotypical fire pokémon trainer, but he had never been a fan of being wet. He liked the look and atmosphere of the ocean, which was why he enjoyed living on an island, but he could do without ever getting wet. He was just glad that the water was shallow enough that it didn’t reach all the way to the bag over his shoulder, because if his notes and map got wet, he would be extremely displeased.

    Blaine walked right past Koga and Sabrina, who didn’t even spare him a glance, and Blaine didn’t expect them to. They may be travelling together, but they weren’t friends. Blaine was more than happy to allow them their space, just so long as they returned the favor.

    Keeping a tight hold on his bag, Blaine made his way to the line of trees near the shore. They hadn’t set up camp yet, but he wanted some privacy to come up with a plan. Just because he couldn’t actually be searching for Mewtwo didn’t mean that he couldn’t at least be productive.

    When Blaine was far enough from the shore that he didn’t have to worry about being overheard, he sat himself on a wooden stump. He took his bag and placed it on the ground next to him. Blaine retrieved his notes from his bag, and opened the notebook with the intention of finding any information from the research that he had long since memorized. Blaine had scarcely been able to read just two words before his arm spasmed in such pain that he couldn’t even keep his grip on his own book.

    Blaine cried out in pain and didn’t even notice as he dropped his notebook. He clutched tightly at his left arm with his right hand, but it did nothing to ease the pain. His arm felt like it was tearing itself apart from the inside, and he didn’t know how to stop it. The pain was only truly in his arm, but Blaine felt it in his entire body. Blaine had gotten used to this pain caused by Mewtwo’s instability and anger, but this pain felt like something more. It was nearly identical to the short but powerful flare of pain that he had felt just before that explosion on Cinnabar Island.

    Mewtwo had been furious and powerful at that moment, but he had also been nearby. If Mewtwo was near…

    Blaine grimaced and struggled to roll up his shirt sleeve. His left arm was so swollen that it was much more difficult than it honestly should be, but he was eventually able to do it. Blaine undid the pin that kept his bandages in places and with trembling fingers hurried to unbind his arm. He let the bandages fall to the ground as he gently put his hand on his arm. Just that small amount of contact made the blemishes on his skin burn and boil in reaction. If that wasn’t because of Mewtwo’s hatred for him and all humanity, Blaine didn’t have a clue what could be the cause.

    Still, he hoped he was wrong. If he was, indeed, right, then there was no time to waste. He had to find Mewtwo soon. There was no other option.

    Blaine bit his lip and took his hand off of his arm. The flesh of his arm continued to pulse angrily. He was all too used to his arm behaving like it had a mind of its own, but this was an entirely other matter. The skin had looked like a terrible burn for quite some time, but at the moment it resembled a wave of lava, flaring to the right.

    Blaine frowned and turned his arm so it was pointing in the direction of the fleshy wave. As he suspected, though it still came as a bit of a shock, the wave turned with his arm until it was flaring up over his wrist. It seemed the wave was indicating in a particular direction. Considering just whose DNA was in his arm, Blaine didn’t need more than one guess as to what the wave was pointing to.

    Perhaps it hadn’t been a bad idea to take a break on this island afterall. Blaine was closer to Mewtwo than ever. Now he just needed to think of a way to find him.

    “Blaine!” The man turned to see his young traveling companion and one friend in this group run up to join him. Blaine was about to wonder how Ash had found him, but then he saw Pidgeotto and Butterfree flying just above the boy’s shoulder. Ash must have sent his pokémon to look for Blaine. The man was disappointed in himself that he hadn’t noticed them at all, but he had been far too preoccupied with his own pain to really be aware of any of his surroundings.

    “Ash, you’re back already?” Blaine didn’t think he had been out here for all that long. Had he really lost track of time?

    “Lt. Surge was in a hurry.” Ash said as he came closer and sat down on the ground near Blaine’s stump. “He wanted to get some pain medicine that he found to Koga.” Ash lifted a small bottle that Blaine hadn’t noticed he was holding and smiled. “He said there was enough for you to have some.”

    Blaine had only really been annoyed and confused by Lt. Surge, as he never knew what to think of the man, but at that moment he felt nothing but gratitude for the outspoken soldier. “Thank you.” Blaine said, and he didn’t think he had ever been more grateful in his life. Ash’s smile looked somewhat strained as he twisted the lid off and took two small tablets out. He handed them to Blaine.

    “Does your arm hurt a lot?” Ash asked in concerned curiosity.

    “More than it ever has.” Blaine admitted. He put the pills in his mouth and swallowed them dry. “Mewtwo’s nearby.”

    “He is?” Ash’s eyes widened in surprise and alarm. He looked around anxiously, as though he expected Mewtwo to just appear from behind a nearby tree.

    “He’s probably not on this island.” Blaine said. He suspected they would have long since heard or seen a sign of Mewtwo if that was the case. “But he can’t be more than a few miles away.”

    “What’s the plan?” Ash frowned thoughtfully. “Do we go look for him?”

    “I really don’t think he’ll be in any mood to listen to us if we try to reason with him.” Blaine said as he glanced at his arm, which was still throbbing painfully. “And I doubt either of us are fit to go against him in a battle.”

    “So...what can we do?” Ash asked slowly. He seemed to be a little scared, not that Blaine blamed him. He was feeling pretty frightened himself.

    “We can do our best to prepare.” Blaine said. “How are your skills as a trainer?”

    Ash grinned eagerly. “I’m pretty good, though we’re a little out of practice.”

    Blaine smiled encouragingly and got to his feet. He had always admired spunky young trainers. Back when he had still run the Cinnabar gym, he had looked forward to battling trainers with spirit, and he probably would have loved nothing more than to have a battle with someone like Ash.

    “Let’s see what you can do.” Blaine said as he reached for one of his other pokéballs.

    “Okay, but, uh, can we battle with you using one of my pokémon?” Ash asked, which Blaine thought was an odd request.

    “If that’s what you want.” Blaine frowned. “I warn you though, I do best with fire pokémon.”

    Ash smiled broadly at Blaine’s words. “That’s okay. I was going to ask if you would use Charmeleon anyways.” Ash put a hand in his pocket and took out a pokéball. He opened it and let out his Charmeleon, who was probably the most tempermental of all his pokémon.

    “Any particular reason why you want me to use Charmeleon?” Blaine asked. He saw Charmeleon watching him out of the corner of its eye, and he raised an eyebrow at the pokémon in return. Charmeleon huffed and turned his head away, pretending that he hadn’t been looking in the first place.

    “Lt. Surge thinks Charmeleon’s ready to evolve.” Ash put a hand on Charmeleon’s head. “He thinks that he’ll evolve if he’s given a reason to. Charmeleon hates losing, so I thought that having him battle Pidgeotto would give him that little push that he needs to evolve.”

    Blaine’s frown deepened. So Ash was planning on annoying Charmeleon by having Pidgeotto fly out of range from his attacks, forcing the fire pokémon to take his attacks aerial. If Charmeleon really was ready to evolve and was just waiting for the right moment, the strategy just might work, but it still wasn’t something that Blaine himself would do. “I thought you wanted to let your pokémon decide for themselves when and if they would evolve.”

    “I do.” Ash said without skipping a beat. “Charmeleon wants to evolve, and he’s ready for it, I can feel it.” Ash looked at Charmeleon, as though looking for confirmation, and by the way that the fire pokémon nodded, he got it. “He’s just holding back because he feels like it’s not what I want. He did the same thing when he was evolving from a Charmander to a Charmeleon.”

    So Charmeleon, despite his attitude and occasional disobedience, was desperate for approval from his trainer. Blaine didn’t know how Ash could know for sure that this was, in fact, Charmeleon’s motivation, but the boy seemed so sure that Blaine didn’t dare question him. And if he was right about his pokémon’s feelings, then this push just might be what was best for Charmeleon. It was enough of a possibility that Blaine was willing to not question Ash about his decision, though he did make a note to confront Lt. Surge about this, because that man was far too invested in Ash’s personal training decisions.

    Ash stood in front of Charmeleon and looked him in the eyes. “Now, Charmeleon, you haven’t really trained under someone else, but I want you to listen to Blaine just like you listen to me, even if you don’t agree with him, okay?”

    Charmeleon huffed and some smoke came out of his nostrils, but he reluctantly nodded. Ash grinned at his pokémon’s willingness to cooperate. “And try to remember what you learned from Koga, okay?”

    “What did Charmeleon learn from Koga?” Blaine asked as Charmeleon came to his side, ready and eager to train.

    “He’s been helping all of my pokémon learn how to control their attacks better.” Ash said as he gestured for Pidgeotto to come get ready for the battle against Charmeleon.

    “Koga’s been mentoring you?” Blaine frowned slightly. He didn’t pretend to know a lot about the ninja master, but from what Blaine had heard and seen, he was a solitary man that minded his own business. Why would he help Ash? “How did you manage that?”

    “Lt. Surge just asked him.” Ash said cheerfully, and that just brought to mind a whole string of questions that Blaine hadn’t even realized he had been pondering.

    “How did you befriend Lt. Surge anyways?” Blaine asked. Before their journey, he had never met Lt. Surge before, but back when he had accepted gym challenges he had heard many young trainers complain about how Lt. Surge was a bully who mocked their inexperience. Ash was the first child he had met who not only liked Lt. Surge, but looked up to him.

    “I don’t know.” Ash shrugged. “It just kinda happened.” Ash frowned slightly. “You know, he’s actually really nice. I don’t know why you don’t get along with him.”

    Blaine sighed. He was embarrassed to say that he didn’t actually have a good excuse. People sometimes just didn’t get along with each other. They could learn to resolve their differences, of course, but it was much easier to just avoid conflict, even if that meant avoiding the other person.

    “Honestly, I don’t know either.” Blaine admitted. He was about to ask Ash about the circumstances that had lead him to meet Lt. Surge and Sabrina, as it was really curious that a child who wasn’t taking the gym challenge came across so many gym leaders anyways. Before Blaine could say anything else, Charmeleon huffed and glared back at him. It seemed Charmeleon was done with waiting.

    “Alright, we’re going.” Ash laughed slightly as he looked at Blaine apologetically. “Are you ready to go?”

    “As ready as you are.” Blaine nodded at Charmeleon, who smirked as the flame on his tail flared brightly.

    “Pidgeotto, use gust, and aim for the tail.” Ash said. Blaine knew that it wasn’t the boy’s intention to put out Charmeleon’s flame, but probably to provoke him. Pidgeotto shot into the air and did as Ash asked.

    “Dash forward.” Blaine said simply. Charmeleon shot him an odd look, but ran ahead anyways, ducking under the gust of wind as he did so. “Use skull bash.” Charmeleon jumped up, ready to ram his head against pidgeotto.”

    “Fly out of the way!” Ash cried out. Pidgeotto screeched, and despite the trees and branches in the way, he successfully dodged out of the way. “Stay out of Charmeleon’s reach and use whirlwind.”

    “Stand your ground.” Blaine said. Charmeleon growled and crouched low. He dug his claws, both on his feet and on his hands, into the ground. The wind from Pidgeotto’s attack whipped around him, but Charmeleon stayed where he was and didn’t retaliate. He did curl his tail under around him in an attempt to protect the flame from the wind, but other than that he didn’t move.

    “Keep it up!” Ash told Pidgeotto.

    “Wait.” Blaine said quietly to Charmeleon. “Wait for the right time.”

    For a few tense moments the wind continued blowing with fierce force. But Blaine knew that no attack could last forever. There was always a moment, however brief, after a pokémon finished attacking when they were vulnerable, and that was the moment that Blaine was waiting for.

    Finally, he saw his chance, the moment when Pidgeotto’s exhaustion forced him to stop the long-held attack. “Now.” Charmeleon, who had been waiting for Blaine’s signal, let out the flamethrower that he had been building up during the wait. Blaine had known that Charmeleon would attack how he felt was best just as soon as he was given the signal. It was Blaine’s opinion that pokémon battled best when they worked from their own instinct.

    Charmeleon’s flamethrower hit Pidgeotto straight on, which knocked the flying pokémon to the ground. This wasn’t enough to discourage Ash.

    “Use sand attack.” Ash commanded without skipping a beat. Pidgeotto screeched and used its wings to push dust and dirt into Charmeleon’s face. As was common with this attack, the dust got in Charmeleon’s eyes, forcing him to close his eyes tightly. “Now use quick attack.”

    “Brace yourself.” Blaine warned. He knew that while Charmeleon could easily dodge, he might end up even more disoriented, and could very easily be caught off guard by another attack. It might just be safest to bare through this one attack.

    Charmeleon growled lowly and became stiff. At that inevitable moment when Pidgeotto’s body impacted with Charmeleon’s , the fire pokémon was pushed back, but he was able to get a grip on Pidgeotto’s body. Charmeleon pushed at Pidgeotto, but the flying pokémon pushed right back. The two of them were the same size, but Pidgeotto had more momentum and weight, so even though they looked like they were evenly matched, Blaine knew it was only a matter of time before Charmander lost the wrestling moment they were in, and would find himself vulnerable.

    Charmeleon seemed to recognize this as well, but he hadn’t accepted it. Charmeleon roared fiercely and his tail burned brighter than it normally did. Charmeleon’s body seemed to strain, as he pushed himself to his limit, and then he found a way to go beyond it. There was a bright flash of light from Charmeleon’s body, and it lasted for a few tense moments. Through the blinding light Blaine could see Charmeleon’s body getting larger. Blaine smirked at the sight. Ash had been right. Charmeleon had been ready for evolution, it had just been a matter of finding the right motivation.

    When the blinding light faded away it revealed that where Charmeleon had been standing, a proud and powerful looking Charizard was in his place. Charizard roared again and unleashed a flamethrower as he did so. With his new size and strength, Charizard was easily able to toss Pidgeotto back against a tree.

    The battle probably still could have gone on from there, but Ash didn’t seem to have any interest in the battle anymore.

    “You did it!” Ash laughed cheerfully as he ran up to Charizard, jumped, and wrapped his arms around his neck. Charizard’s eyes widened and he looked shocked at Ash’s sudden display of affection, but he awkwardly pat his trainer’s back with his claws. “I knew you’d be able to do it.”

    “Remarkable.” Blaine muttered. He didn’t think he had ever actually seen a pokémon evolve just by will alone.

    Ash laughed and finally let go of Charizard. “Look at you, you’re so big now!”

    Blaine chuckled, the boy was just so enthusiastic and eager. He considered telling him that his Charizard was actually small for his species, but ultimately decided against it. Ash was ecstatic, and Charizard was proud. Blaine would just feel guilty for ruining this moment for them. Besides, size really wasn’t everything. Blaine had met some pretty spunky and small pokémon. Determination was just as important, if not more so, than size and brute strength.

    Ash gave Charizard one last grin before he turned his attention to Pidgeotto, who was just getting to its feet. “Hey, buddy, you did great. Take a long rest.” Ash took out Pidgeotto’s pokéball and returned it. Ash then turned to Blaine. “How much preparing should we do before looking for Mewtwo?”

    Blaine frowned and looked down at his arm. “As much as we possibly can. Something tells me that we won’t find Mewtwo, even if we looked. He’ll find us though.” He couldn’t say how, but he knew it. When Mewtwo did find them, they had to be ready for him. At least, as ready as they possibly could be.

    Blaine knew that he and Ash, as well as all of their pokémon, would do as much as they could to be ready for Mewtwo. He was worried that it wouldn’t be enough. After all, how could one prepare for something that was created to be the ultimate weapon?
  7. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 6
    Lt. Surge grunted as he slung another tent over his shoulders. They had to set up camp, which meant that they needed places to sleep. Usually setting up a base of operations was Lt. Surge’s number one priority when he was travelling for work, but he’d had other things on his mind. When Sabrina had crashed against the coral, it had really messed with his head. He had known that they were safe, but he hadn’t felt safe. He had been so sure that they were being attacked by some stray pokémon. Nothing else had mattered at that time.

    Sabrina’s Alakazam’s calm mind had been a lifesaver. He had still felt in danger, but at a point that he could manage. He had been in the military, and was currently a Team Rocket agent. These weren’t careers for the faint of heart, and Lt. Surge had managed to get higher up positions in both his areas of work. He wasn’t afraid of dangerous situations, he just...really could not handle anything that even remotely resembled the incident with Silver and that large bird pokémon.

    Lt. Surge had needed that little extra time to finish collecting himself. He would have been able to calm down on his own, but the whole reason why he’d been freaked out in the first place was because of what had happened to Silver. Sabrina, Koga, and Lt. Surge could take care of themselves, but Ash was just a kid. A really naive kid who was so sentimental that he wouldn’t evolve his pokémon unless he knew that it was what they wanted. Someone like that needed to be protected, and it was a lot easier to protect somebody when they were right at your side.

    Lt. Surge had started spending so much time with Ash because he wanted to be sure that he was safe, but when one spends a lot of time with somebody, they either grow to hate them, or really care for them. Lt. Surge had never been one for hating, but even if he was, he didn’t think that it was possible to hate Ash.

    The kid was so optimistic and cheerful. He had a willingness to learn, but still that stubbornness to hold onto what he knew. Lt. Surge had always felt neutral about kids, but when it came to Ash, that neutrality turned to a complete fondness. Even if he thought that Ash was too soft on his pokémon, and that could be pretty annoying sometimes, he couldn’t help but admire his insistence. Ash was a proud kid. He respected that.

    Going into town with Ash had been just what Lt. Surge had needed. Being able to stretch his legs for a bit had felt pretty good, and Ash’s excitement at getting off the boat after so long had been contagious. Just being near the kid had helped calm Lt. Surge down from his little shut down before.

    Lt. Surge would have been content to hang out in town for the rest of the day, but they weren’t there for a social visit. Koga had needed some pain killer, and the sooner they got that to him, the better. And because Lt. Surge was in a giving mood, and he really wasn’t as much of a jerk as people seemed to think he was, he had made sure to pick up something extra for Blaine to use. Lt. Surge didn’t know what was up with his arm, but he felt a little bad about making him bare through the pain up to this point.

    No matter how much he didn’t get along with somebody, he wouldn’t wish pain on them...unless they were in a situation where either he he had to get hurt, or the other person did, in which case he wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever he could to make sure that the other person was the one who was in pain. Some people thought this was cruel, but Lt. Surge didn’t think it was. It was survival.

    When they got back to where their ship was, Lt. Surge let Ash take some of the pain reliever to Blaine while he went to get some to Koga and put the rest on the ship. He was worried about Koga, but the ninja was way too proud to tolerate letting somebody hover over him. Sabrina was meditating with Koga, who had taken some pain reliever, so Lt. Surge could afford to give him some space.

    After restocking the medicine cabinet, Lt. Surge had grabbed the camping gear and brought it up on deck. He could easily just carry the three tents ashore himself if it weren’t for the fact that Sabrina had crashed into the coral. They weren’t too far from shore, but Lt. Surge knew that nobody would want to sleep in a wet tent, and jumping into the water would definitely come with the risk of splashing the tents.

    Fortunately, he had a backup plan.

    “Alright, Magneton, let’s go.” Lt. Surge grabbed four of his pokéballs and released his Magneton. He’d been critiqued for having so many pokémon of the same type, but he ignored all of these critiques. If people worked with so many pokémon of the same typing more, maybe they would come to learn new things that they hadn’t considered even possible before.

    Magneton, as their name implied, gave off magnetic signals. Their magnetic energies often reacted to each others, and Lt. Surge had figured out how to use this to his advantage. One of his favorite things to do was have his four Magneton arrange themselves in a pyramid like formation. Three of them in a triangle at the bottom, and one of them at the top to finish the connection. The Magneton’s magnetic energies would create an energy field that was so strong that it was practically solid. Lt. Surge could actually stand firmly on this barrier, and he could trust his pokémon to not let him fall. And if they could carry people, they could carry objects.

    “I need you guys to take these things to land.” Lt. Surge dropped the tent bags to the ground. He stepped back to give his pokémon room to work their magic. The four magneton arranged themselves into the pyramid around the bags, established their magnetic connection, and were able to carry the tents.

    Lt. Surge watched his his pokémon for a few moments, just to make sure that they made it. There wasn’t anything to worry about. His Magneton could handle much harder tasks than this. Still, it was always better to be safe than sorry. If he had the time, he always liked to make sure that work was done right. And he always enjoyed watching his pokémon at work.

    Once Lt. Surge saw his Magneton drop off the tents on the beach he let his gaze wander further down the beach. He glanced briefly at Sabrina and Koga before he focused on the trees just past the beach. He crossed his arms when he saw Blaine stepping out of the forest. Now there was a man who looked like he was up to something. Not that that was news. The whole reason why Lt. Surge, Sabrina, and Koga were here with them was because Giovanni thought that Blaine was up to something.

    They just needed to come up with a way to find out what that something was.

    Even though Lt. Surge had a job to do, that task was pushed to the back of his mind when he saw Ash follow Blaine out from the trees, and the kid had a proud looking Charizard at his side.

    “Way to go, kid,” Lt. Surge smirked proudly. Despite Ash’s weird philosophy about evolving his pokémon, he had still evolved his Charmeleon. Evolved pokémon were always stronger than the non evolved ones, but Charizard was definitely up there when it came to brute strength. If Ash was going to fully evolve just one of his pokémon, Lt. Surge was glad that it was Charizard.

    Now Ash just needed to learn how to control that power, and if there was one thing that Lt. Surge knew, it was brute force.

    “Hey, Ash!” Lt. Surge waved to the kid, who smiled broadly and ran to the edge of the beach.

    “Hi!” Ash waved enthusiastically back. “Look! Charmeleon evolved!”

    “So I see.” Lt. Surge laughed. “Hang on, I’m coming over.” Lt. Surge brought two of his fingers to his mouth and he whistled sharply. The sound carried over to his Magneton , who obediently came back to his side. Without even having to ask his pokémon positioned themselves in the pyramid formation. He hung on to the top Magneton as he stepped onto the electric force.

    “Alright, guys, let’s go.” His Magneton floated him back over to the beach. Lt. Surge knew that he could just jump into the water and walk right over, but he wanted to get to the beach as quickly as he could. Besides, Ash probably hadn’t ever seen a Magneton do something like this before, and Lt. Surge liked to show off what he had discovered.

    Ash stared at the Magneton like they were pokémon that he had never seen before. “You’re-you’re floating!”

    Lt. Surge grinned as he jumped down from his Magneton’s magnetic force. “Ash, you haven’t lived until you’ve flown with your pokémon.” There was just nothing like it. And now, Ash could experience it for himself. Lt. Surge gestured at Charizard. “Do you two want to give it a try?”

    Ash and Charizard looked at each other in confusion. “...Flying?”

    Lt. Surge raised an eyebrow at the two of them. “He’s got wings, doesn’t he?”

    “Well, yeah,” Ash admitted. “But I haven’t really thought about flying with him before.”

    Lt. Surge shook his head. Ash was an imaginative and adventurous kid, and he’d never even thought about flying on his pokémon? “You’re so lucky I’m here.” Lt. Surge eyed Charizard, who huffed in annoyance and turned his face away. “Why don’t you give flying a try? Unless you think you can’t…”

    Charizard roared and blew some fire into the air. Just as Lt. Surge expected, Charizard rose to the challenge and rose up into the air with one powerful burst of his wings. Lt. Surge could tell by how nervous Ash seemed to be, and how unsteady Charizard looked that this was Charizard’s first time in the air. There was definitely room for improvement, but it wasn’t a bad first attempt.

    Charizard flew around for a few minutes to get used to his brand new wings before he came back down. Charizard looked proud of himself, and he was also the happiest that Lt. Surge had ever seen him. Evolution had been good for him.

    Lt. Surge put his hands on his hips and looked at Ash. “You want to try?”

    “Um, I don’t know.” Ash took a step back. “Maybe Charizard should be more used to flying?”

    “That would probably be best.” Blaine said. Lt. Surge rolled his eyes. Couldn’t the scientist learn how to mind his own business. Even though Blaine was wearing sunglasses, Lt. Surge could just feel his judgemental gaze. “Ash’s Charizard is smaller than the average Charizard is. He may not have the strength to support any riders.”

    Lt. Surge scowled. “If Charizard is bigger than Ash, he can support him.” In fact, Lt. Surge was positive that Charizard was strong enough to fly riders bigger than he was. Lt. Surge looked at Charizard and frowned at the disappointment in the pokémon’s eyes. Charizard was strong and eager to prove himself, so Lt. Surge said that they should give him the chance.

    “Will you ride Charizard after you see that he can take it?” Lt. Surge asked Ash.

    “O-of course.” Ash said quickly. There wasn’t even a trace of hesitation in his eyes.

    Lt. Surge nodded before he turned to Charizard, a look of determination in his eyes. “You ready to show these guys what you can do?”

    That stubborn fire returned to Charizard’s eyes as the pokémon roared. He was ready.

    “Let’s do this.” Lt. Surge gripped Charizard’s shoulder and hoisted himself up onto the pokémon’s back. Charizard grunted slightly at the unexpected weight, but he didn’t buckle. Lt. Surge had to adjust his position, as he was actually bigger than Charizard was, but he was able to find a position that he thought would work.

    “I don’t think-” Blaine began to voice his concerns, but Lt. Surge wasn’t going to hear it.

    “Too bad,” Lt. Surge put a hand on Charizard’s head. “You just need to get into the air, and you’ll do just fine.” The hardest part would be getting off the ground.

    Charizard huffed and bent his knees. Lt. Surge bent down closer to Charizard’s neck as the fire pokémon’s wings rose, and an instant later Charizard kicked off the ground at the same time as he flapped his wings. This was enough to get them off the ground, but if they didn’t get more air they wouldn’t be able to stay up there for very long.

    “Come on, Charizard,” Lt. Surge barked. “You call this flying?” Maybe it was a little harsh, but Lt. Surge knew from experience that people with stubborn fighting spirits listened best to strong commands. Charizard would push himself if he was pushed to do so. And if Charizard was able to fly Lt. Surge around, he would be able to fly anybody.

    Charizard let out a flamethrower attack as he continued to flap his wings strongly to get higher. It was clearly taking a lot out of him, but once Charizard got his momentum going, it only got easier and it wasn’t long before they were fifteen feet into the air.

    “Now, let’s try some real flying.” Lt. Surge leaned forward and pushed slightly on Charizard’s neck. Despite never being ridden before, Charizard understood the unspoken command. He flew forward, and when Lt. Surge increased the pressure on his neck, Charizard flew faster. He was a quick learner.

    Now to see if his reflexes were just as quick.

    “Pull up a little higher, but don’t lose this speed.” Lt. Surge said as he flew Charizard up over the water. “I want to try something.” Lt. Surge kept his eyes on the ocean below them as Charizard climbed higher into the air. Finally, when it looked like they were finally high enough and the ocean below was deep enough that they wouldn’t immediately hit the bottom of they fell, Lt. Surge made his move.

    “Alright, Charizard, dive!” Lt. Surge tightened his grip. Charizard looked back at him, but when he saw the seriousness in Lt. Surge’s eyes, he obeyed. Charizard gave one more powerful flap of his wings before he dove down. Lt. Surge didn’t bother telling Charizard to pull up just before he hit the water. Charizard, who was a fire pokémon, would know to avoid the water. And Charizard was extremely proud, so he would try to impress Lt. Surge by getting as close to the water as he could. He could do this.

    Charizard dove until he was about fifteen feet away from the water, at which point he began to pull up. Lt. Surge would normally want the pulling up to be sharper, but that was too much to expect from a first time flyer. And it was a good thing that Charizard pulled up when he did, because as it was he only just avoided diving straight into the water. Charizard’s feet brushed against the water, but no more than that. And with just a few flaps of his wings Charizard was flying parallel to the ocean, just a few feet above it.

    “That’s how you do it.” Lt. Surge cheered enthusiastically. Charizard roared proudly, as well he should. Lt. Surge thought that it was a good time for them to return to the shore, but when he glanced at the ship he thought of another thing he could do to that related to their mission.

    “Fly as close to the ship as you can.” Lt. Surge said. He smirked as Charizard did as he said. These past few days every time Lt. Surge saw Blaine he was writing in one of those notebooks of his. Lt. Surge found Blaine’s know-it-all attitude to be annoying, but the scientist’s obsession with knowing what’s going definitely made it easier to find the information that he was hiding. It was just a matter of knowing where to look.

    Lt. Surge knew that Blaine would either have his research and notes on him, or kept hidden on the ship. Considering how many books and research Blaine had brought with him, Lt. Surge doubted that he had brought it all ashore with him, which meant it was on the ship. Fortunately, Lt. Surge knew exactly where on the ship Blaine had stayed. If he was lucky, he’d be able to take a look in through the window and see what was going on in there.

    Lt. Surge pulled Charizard back to slow him down a bit as they neared the window that he needed. “Steady, Charizard,” Lt. Surge muttered. He leaned closer to the window and smirked at what he saw. Just as he thought, there were a lot of books in there. Like, a library’s worth of books. There was also a Ninetales in there, looking like it was guarding the door.

    “Looks like somebody’s got something to hide.” Lt. Surge leaned back as Charizard flew away from the window, but he leaned back too far and began to lose his balance. Lt. Surge yelped as he fell off of Charizard’s back back and landed right in the water.

    Falling into the water was always shocking and potentially painful if you hit it from high enough and at a bad angle. Charizard hadn’t been nearly high enough for Lt. Surge to get hurt from the fall itself, but the ship was resting on a coral reef near the shore, and Blaine’s room was so close to the front of the ship that Lt. Surge hit the coral just as much as he hit the water, and it was not fun.

    Lt. Surge fell head first into the water. He hit his head on the coral beneath the water, which knocked the air right out of him. This wasn’t a good thing to happen at all, but especially not in the water. Lt. Surge’s vision went dark for a few moments. He was vaguely aware of somebody grabbing his arms, but he felt it as though they were phantom pains, more of an impression than anything else.

    Lt. Surge little by little became more aware of his surroundings, and though it took a bit, he eventually became aware enough to notice that his head wasn’t under the water. A few moments later his vision began to clear up and he saw Charizard standing on the coral next to him, and both Ash and Blaine were there too.

    “Th-that was…” Lt. Surge groaned and put a hand to the back of his head. He winced when he felt a warm wetness there. He brought his hand back and frowned at the blood he saw on his fingers. He let out a low laugh. “-Not what I was expecting.”

    “Are you okay?” Ash looked concerned.

    “I’m fine.” Lt. Surge tried to get to his feet, but the same hands that had pulled him out of the water were now holding him down.

    “No, you’re not.” Blaine gently touched the cut on Lt. Surge’s head, which made the soldier cry out in pain and try to pull away from the scientist. Blaine wouldn’t let him move. “Do you realize how dangerous that was?”

    “Hey, I only fell because I was acting like an idiot.” Lt. Surge scowled as Blaine kept on probing at the cut at the back of his head. Was the man trying to cause him more pain? “If Ash doesn’t do that, he’ll be just fine.”

    “You don’t know that.” Blaine said sharply. Lt. Surge chose to ignore him.

    “Kid, how ‘bout you try flying out for yourself?” Lt. Surge suggested to Ash. Blaine all but groaned in indignation.

    “You must be delirious if you still think that’s a good idea.” Blaine finally let go of Lt. Surge’s arms and stood up. “In case you haven’t noticed, you’re bleeding.”

    “It’s not like they’re gonna go flying over the coral.” Lt. Surge rolled his eyes before turning to Ash. “I’m serious though, kid. Fly with Charizard. It’ll get you to trust him more, and if he knows you trust him, he’ll be more likely to listen to you.” Lt. Surge had seen this to be the case countless times.

    Ash, who had been watching the two adults in concern and slight confusion, finally looked excited at Lt. Surge’s suggestion. “Okay!” Ash eagerly turned to Charizard, just like Lt. Surge knew he would. Most kids were eager to take a ride on a pokémon, and Ash had already shown that he was eager to do anything that he could to be friends with his pokémon. This opportunity just wasn’t one that he would pass up.

    Charizard crouched and lowered his head so that Ash would have an easier time getting on his back. This was Ash’s first time on Charizard, but he looked completely comfortable on his pokémon’s back. He was ready for this.

    “Just be careful.” Blaine called out as Charizard took off into the air and Ash gave an excited shout.

    “Relax, old man.” Lt. Surge stood up and winced at the pounding in his head that came with the sudden movement. “Plenty of trainers ride on their pokémon. It’s not a big deal.”

    “It is a big deal if someone gets hurt.” Blaine shoved his hands inside his pockets. “You can act like a fool all you want, but leave Ash out of it. He‘s reckless enough without picking up bad habits from you.”

    Lt. Surge glared at Blaine. “How am I a bad influence? All I did was encourage the kid to fly around with his Charizard. If the pokémon can carry me, it can carry Ash.”

    “I told you before you went on that idiotic joy-ride that Ash’s Charizard is smaller than most.” Blaine said coldly. “We didn’t know for certain if he was strong enough to carry the weight of a child, and yet you, a fully grown adult, thought that it would be wise to just take off and see how things went.”

    Lt. Surge shrugged. “Look, you can study and observe things all you like, but if you really want to know what will happen if you do something, the fastest way to learn is to just do it.”

    “That’s also the fastest way to get yourself killed.” Blaine looked up at the sky where Ash and Charizard were flying around. He frowned, clearly displeased. “Train your pokémon and live your life however you please, but don’t force others to join you.”

    “Hey, Ash wanted to fly with his Charizard.” Lt. Surge crossed his arms. He wasn’t forcing anybody to do anything.

    “Was it his idea?” Blaine asked. Lt. Surge opened his mouth to answer, but Blaine cut him off before he could begin. “No, you were the one who decided what Ash should do with Charizard, just like how you’re the one who has decided that Ash should evolve his pokémon.”

    “They’ll be stronger.” Lt. Surge said automatically. He didn’t understand what the big deal was. So what if he thought that Ash should evolve his pokémon?

    “But it’s not your decision to make.” Blaine turned his attention back to Lt. Surge, who felt his blood boil. He may not be able to see other man’s eyes, but Blaine’s tone made it perfectly clear just how much contempt he was feeling. “I can’t stop you from mistreating your own pokémon, but I won’t let you teach others to do the same.” Blaine turned away from Lt. Surge and began the walk back to shore.

    Lt. Surge scowled as he watched Blaine leave. That scientist sure knew how to run his mouth. Who did he think he was? To say that Lt. Surge mistreated his pokémon, even though Blaine had barely even seen Lt. Surge interact with his pokémon before. What was he basing his judgement on? The fact that he didn’t like the advice that Lt. Surge gave to Ash?

    Lt. Surge glared up at the ship. He felt lousy. He hated it when people acted like they knew everything about him, when they really knew nothing at all. However, there was one good thing about this little chat with Blaine, and that was that Lt. Surge didn’t feel even the least bit guilty about snooping through his things.

    Why should he feel bad for spying on a man who had made it perfectly clear just how much he hated him?
  8. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 7:
    Lt. Surge rubbed the back of his head and winced. His head was throbbing painfully, but he didn’t know if it was just from hitting his head on the coral, or if Blaine’s words to him had anything to do with it too. Lt. Surge knew that he wasn’t exactly the most easy going person in the world, and he was hard to get along with. He enjoyed pushing people’s buttons, and when they reacted, he reacted in turn.

    Lt. Surge got annoyed with people often, especially people who acted like they were better than him, but he didn’t usually let somebody else’s words get under his skin so easily. One doesn’t become a Lieutenant in the military if they get their feelings hurt because somebody doesn’t like them. Lt. Surge was used to ignoring and ridiculing harsh criticism, but there was just something about Blaine that made it hard to do so.

    Blaine didn’t agree with Lt. Surge’s training style or advice, and he wasn’t the first. Lt. Surge wasn’t going to go out of his way to get Blaine’s approval. He just didn’t care enough to even put in the effort. But as much as Lt. Surge didn’t care about what Blaine thought, his words about how he was a bad influence on Ash, and was somehow training his pokémon ‘wrong’, really bothered him. Lt. Surge wasn’t about to admit it to anybody else, but the scientist’s words made his blood boil.

    Lt. Surge didn’t know why he was getting so worked up. It was frustrating, and this frustration made him feel even more worked up. Lt. Surge was frequently told by Sabrina that he had a lot of aggressive energy, but this was the first time that he could actually feel it himself. He had the powerful urge to just hit something, but he resisted it. He could use that aggression to help accomplish their mission. But first, they had to come up with a game plan.

    Lt. Surge walked along the shore and grabbed the tent bags that his Magneton had dropped off. He slung all of the bags over his shoulder and headed further up the beach where they could set up camp. He had planned on setting things up in the forest, but he had seen Blaine storm off in that direction, and he wasn’t all that eager to chance running into him. They would be fine on the unsturdy beach, at least for a few days.

    “You look ready to kill those tents.” Koga commented casually. Lt. Surge turned to see his ninja friend sitting on a nearby rock. He somehow hadn’t noticed him before. Koga got to his feet and approached Lt. Surge. The ex-soldier was so surprised to see Koga moving around like normal that when the ninja grabbed for one of the tent bags, he wasn’t able to move to stop him.

    Lt. Surge raised an eyebrow at Koga as he accidentally upset his ribs and flinched in reaction. Koga didn’t seem eager to let go of the bag, so Lt. Surge humored him. “Well, I’m definitely ready to kill something.”

    “Or someone,” Koga looked at him knowingly. “I saw your little disagreement with Blaine.”

    “That wasn’t a disagreement,” Lt. Surge growled irritably. “The self righteous jerk just lectured me about how much better he is than me.” Blaine didn’t actually do that, but it sure felt like he had, and Lt. Surge needed to rant.

    Koga smirked. “If you’re looking for a way to get back at him, we still have a job to do.”

    Lt. Surge chuckled. “Hey, I’ve already started. I just learned that Blaine keeps most of those notebooks on the ship, and has his Ninetales guard them. And if someone tries this hard to keep something secret, then it’s gotta be something worth learning about.”

    “Not necessarily,” Koga reminded him. “But in this case, I think that you may be right.”

    “Course I’m right,” Lt. Surge knelt down at the sand and felt the texture of it. When he was sure that it was fairly solid, he dropped the tent bags on the ground. This spot was as good as any. “But forget about the stuff on the ship. You’re the master of secrets here. If you’ve got things to hide from those around you, what would you do with the most important secret?”

    Koga frowned throughtfully and looked towards the forest that Blaine had walked off into. “I would keep it by my side at all times.”

    “That notebook of his,” Lt. Surge smirked darkly. “He’s always writing in that thing. If we’re going to learn anything, it’ll be from there, we’ve just got to find a way to get our hands on it.”

    “Leave that to me,” Koga gently set down the tent he had picked up. “Finding secrets is a big part of being a ninja,”

    Lt. Surge eyed Koga dubiously. “Do you really think you’re up to sneaking around?”

    Koga glared coldly at Lt. Surge. “I’m more than capable of swiping a simple book. I’m not inept, Surge.”

    “I never said you were,” Lt. Surge stood up and put his hand on Koga’s chest. He pushed slightly on it. Just that little bit of pressure made Koga flinch and draw in on himself slightly. “What I’m saying is your ribs are broken, and you shouldn’t push yourself. You’re hurt, so just let yourself be hurt. Let me or Sabrina grab the notebook.”

    Koga scowled and in one swift movement he moved his hand forward and struck Lt. Surge sharply in the jaw with his palm. Lt. Surge grunted in pain as his head was knocked back. He staggered back and tripped over the tent back. He would have hit the ground, as well as his head again, but something stopped him mid-fall.

    “Enough,” Sabrina said fiercely. Lt. Surge breathed a sigh of relief as the Abra in her arms used its psychic powers to gently set him down on the ground. “What are you two doing? This isn’t the time for us to begin fighting with each other.”

    Koga huffed and turned sharply. For a proud ninja, he was far too good at storming off dramatically like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Lt. Surge scowled and rubbed at his jaw, which was really starting to hurt.

    “Stubborn idiot,” Lt. Surge grumbled. Somehow, Koga’s hit to his jaw was making his head hurt even more. He felt like his brain had been rattled up, and it made him feel slightly nauseous. He didn’t plan on getting to his feet anytime soon.

    Sabrina sighed and knelt next to him. “Matis, you are the single most stubborn and idiotic man I’ve ever met. You’re really not one to talk.” She pulled his hand away from his jaw, just so she could have a feel at it herself. “You must stop hovering over Koga,”

    “Hey, I’m not hovering,” Lt. Surge objected. “And if I am, you were doing the same thing an hour ago.”

    “Yes, because Koga couldn’t breath this morning,” Sabrina looked him in the eyes. “He has pain reliever, he’s not hurting anymore, let him at least attempt to regain some of the pride he feels he’s lost.”

    Lt. Surge rolled his eyes and winced when it made his head throb even more. “I really don’t understand what he thinks is so dishonorable about getting hurt by a freaking Nidoking.”

    “Well, I don’t understand why your pride got bruised because a man you don’t like is behaving like he doesn’t like you.” Sabrina said in a completely even tone, but when Lt. Surge looked at her she had a small teasing smile on her face.

    Lt. Surge snorted and shoved Sabrina slightly. Her sense of humor didn’t show through very often, so it was always hard for Lt. Surge to stay mad at her whenever she did. “You think you’re so smart, don’t you?”

    “I do,” Sabrina got to her feet. She brushed off her pants and held a hand out to him. “I’m going to take a walk along the shore. You’re free to join me, if you want.” Lt. Surge knew that Sabrina had more than a little stroll in mind. This was her excuse to find a quiet place to scheme in peace. Lt. Surge usually loved brainstorming with Sabrina, but he wasn’t really in the mood for it at the moment. And his head was protesting against the very thought of standing up and moving around.

    “Nah, I think I’m just going to hang around here for a bit.” Lt. Surge adjusted the tent bags and leaned back against them. “Have fun, though. And make Giovanni proud.”

    Sabrina smirked. “I always do,” She held her Abra close to her chest as she turned and walked away.

    Lt. Surge sighed and closed his eyes. He was sore all over, and just ready for a break. He didn’t want to deal with his judgemental traveling companion, and he really didn’t want to deal with his friend’s frustratingly annoying stubbornness and pride. He just wanted to take a nap.

    “Lt. Surge!” He groaned and opened his eyes to see Ash’s Charizard landing on the ground. Ash jumped off his pokémon’s back and excitedly ran to Lt. Surge. “Did you see how great Charizard did? He was so awesome up there.”

    “Lt. Surge grinned. “I told you you’d love it, didn’t I?”

    Ash nodded and smiled broadly at his Charizard, who looked just as happy. “Yeah, you did.” Ash turned back to Lt. Surge and looked in slight confusion at the tent backs. “What are those?”

    “Stuff for camp,” Lt. Surge said. “We’ve gotta sleep somewhere, don’t we?”

    “Oh, yeah,” Ash laughed and rubbed the back of his head. “I forgot about that.” Lt. Surge didn’t blame him. It had been a pretty eventful day.

    “How ‘bout you help me set things up?” Lt. Surge turned to one of the bags and opened it. Ash bent down and grabbed the tent inside the bag. He tried to pull the whole thing out in one pull, but he ended up tripping over his own feet and crashing into the sand as he did so. Well, at least he got the tent out.

    “I’ve got it!” Ash scrambled to get himself out from under the tent, but he ended up getting himself tangled up even more. Lt. Surge chuckled and got to his feet so he could help the kid out.

    “Stop squirming, kid,” Lt. Surge said. Ash stilled for a moment so Lt. Surge could free him. Once he was untangled, Ash laughed sheepishly.

    “Thanks,” Ash looked at the tent in Lt. Surge’s arms. “Uh, is that a tent?”

    “You bet it is.” Lt. Surge tossed it on the ground. “What, you never been camping before?” Ash shook his head. Lt. Surge smirked. “Kid, get ready to be frustrated.”

    Ash blinked in confusion, but he didn’t go running off. He was way too willing to be helpful, even if it involved doing something that he probably wouldn’t like. Lt. Surge honestly felt sorry for the naive kid, but not sorry enough to not accept Ash’s help to set up the tents.

    Lt. Surge was extremely experienced with setting up tents, especially these tents, as they were his. However, he didn’t have a lot of experience teaching a kid how to do it. Lt. Surge may be a leader, but he had never been a very good teacher. He could easily set these tents up by himself, but he thought it might be fun to teach Ash as he went.

    It definitely wasn’t fun. Every time Lt. Surge gave Ash a simple task to do, the kid struggled with it for a few minutes before Lt. Surge had to step in and help before Ash broke the poles. And then Lt. Surge would struggle with this same task to undo whatever mess Ash had somehow been able to screw up. It was frustrating, tedious, and took an impossible amount of time to set up just one tent.

    “That...that was ridiculous,” Lt. Surge said as they finally pound in the last tent peg. But at least they had finished...with the first of three tents. “This is going to take forever.”

    “It might be easier if you chose more stable ground.” Blaine said as he stepped out of the forest and approached them. Lt. Surge scowled. Did the scientist have a life goal to force himself into any interaction between Lt. Surge and Ash, just so he could tell him what he was doing wrong, which, apparently, was everything.

    “If you’re so smart, why don’t you do it yourself?” Lt. Surge challenged. Blaine raised an eyebrow at him.

    “Very well, I will,” Blaine put down his back and his notebook, and suddenly Lt. Surge’s irritation disappeared. If Blaine was going to leave his notebook out in the open just so he could prove a point, then Lt. Surge was all for the scientist criticizing his every movement. Blaine’s sense of superiority might just give Lt. Surge the chance that he needed to find out what he was up to.

    Blaine, to his credit, didn’t just take down Lt. Surge’s previously set up tent, he just got to work on a new one. Lt. Surge crossed his arms and took a step back, partly to get out of Blaine’s way, but mostly to bring himself closer to the abandoned notebook. He knew that it would be a mistake to make his move now. If he left Blaine alone for a bit, he would let his guard down, and Lt. Surge would have an easier time getting the book.

    Five minutes later Lt. Surge was beginning to think that Blaine was significantly distracted. He was just about to move when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Lt. Surge turned slightly and glanced towards the movement. The second he saw Koga he quickly turned his attention back to Blaine. If he looked at Koga, it would just draw attention to him. Lt. Surge thought that Koga was being hasty and wasn’t ready for this kind of subterfuge when their target was just a few feet away, but that didn’t mean he was going to give away his position.

    Lt. Surge kept his eyes on Blaine, but his ears were focused only on Koga. The ninja’s steps were practically silent, but Lt. Surge had learned how to hear the practically silent. With every step that Koga took, Lt. Surge mirrored his moves. He did his best to keep himself positioned between Blaine and Koga. He also slowly backed up closer to where Koga was, just in case his friend needed backup.

    Lt. Surge could hear when Koga had reached the notebook. The steps stopped, but he could hear Koga’s breathing, and it sounded somewhat strained. Lt. Surge that Koga was pushing himself. Slow walking wasn’t exactly strenuous, but Lt. Surge knew Koga. He didn’t have to see his friend to know that he was far too tense. Koga’s muscles were locking together, and when he bent down to pick up the notebook, it was causing too much stress to his chest. He needed to relax, or he would choke.

    ‘Come on, ninja boy,’ Lt. Surge thought silently as he tensed and got ready to move. A moment later, almost as though Koga had heard his unspoken words, Lt. Surge couldn’t hear the sound of his breathing anymore, which made him even more tense. He knew Koga’s pain hadn’t gone away, he was just trying to hide it. Koga was holding his breath to keep himself from making any noise. This was a normal strategy of his, but these weren’t normal circumstances, and Lt. Surge really doubted Koga’s capabilities. Sooner rather than later he would crack, and it wouldn’t be good for their work.

    After a few tense moments the pain became too much and Koga let out a low grunt. The very instant that he did, Lt. Surge moved. He snatched the notebook from Koga’s hands and flipped it open to a random page, and not a moment too soon. Blaine, at the sound of Koga’s grunt, turned towards them to see what was going on, just like Lt. Surge had worried he would. At least this way he knew that he would be the one with his hand caught in the cookie jar, not Koga. And Lt. Surge knew that if he could play his cards right, he could cause Blaine to believe that his motivations were more mischievous than malicious.

    “Well, what’ve we got here?” Lt. Surge said teasingly. He held the notebook up with one hand and used the other one to hold back Blaine, who had stormed up to him. “A nerd notebook?”

    “That is not yours,” Blaine said hotly as he glared at Lt. Surge. “I demand you give it back to me, right now.”

    “Come on, I’m not hurting anything,” Lt. Surge said as he turned through the pages of the notebook. “I’ll give it back, I just wanted to see what you were...up...to…” Lt. Surge trailed off when he noticed what was actually written in the notebook.


    The cloned pokémon, the dangerous one that had escaped, Blaine’s notebook was full of nothing but information about that monster, Mewtwo. It made sense that Blaine would write about him, as he was the lead scientist behind his creation, but what Lt. Surge didn’t understand was the other things in this notebook.

    ‘Mewtwo is nearby’. ‘I can feel his anger’. ‘It won’t be long now’.

    It sounded like Blaine was tracking Mewtwo. Lt. Surge didn’t understand how he was doing it, or why, but that wasn’t the part that really caught his attention.

    ‘Ash is the key to calming Mewtwo’. ‘This work may not be possible without him’. ‘The boy is too trusting’.

    “...What is this?” Lt. Surge narrowed his eyes at the book, and then turned his glare to Blaine, who looked equally unimpressed.

    “That is none of your business,” Blaine said harshly as he put a hand in his pocket, possibly to reach for his pokéballs. Lt. Surge was far too infuriated to be intimidated.

    “Well, I’m making it my business.” Lt. Surge turned the page of Blaine’s notebook. He clenched tightly at a couple of the pages. “You’re using a child to help you tame your killer clone, and you think you have the right to lecture me about being a bad influence on the kid?”

    “Mewtwo is not a killer.” Blaine snapped. “Now, I’m warning you-”

    “Not a killer?” Lt. Surge tightened his grip on the pages, ripping them out slightly, which just irritated Blaine even more. “Tell that to all those people at the labs it destroyed on Cinnabar Island.”

    “Surge,” Koga warned softly, but he was ignored.

    “Do not talk about Mewtwo like you know him.” Blaine reached for his notebook again, but Lt. Surge held it over his head. It was one of the advantages to being so much taller than everybody else in Kanto.

    “I know enough about it,” Lt. Surge said. “I know the freak clone of yours is the most powerful weapon in the world, and you’re manipulating a child to get it.”

    “Th-that’s not what’s happening.” Ash protested desperately. He ran to stand between Lt. Surge and Blaine to try to stop things from escalating. “Please, I volunteered. It was my idea to help Mewtwo.”

    “That doesn’t make what Blaine’s doing any less manipulative.” Lt. Surge said coldly. Blaine was doing the exact same thing as Giovanni had done. Ash had been interested in finding a legendary pokémon he thought he had seen, and Giovanni had taken advantage of that. He had used Ash’s desire to serve his own personal needs. Now, Ash, for whatever reason, wanted to help Mewtwo, and Blaine was more than willing to let him, just because the kid’s help would be useful. How was this any different?

    “Why do you care so much about finding your precious creation?” Lt. Surge asked Blaine, though he didn’t know why he even bothered. There would be very few excuses that Blaine could give that he would accept. Lt. Surge’s boss may want to use Mewtwo as a weapon, but at least he was open about it. Blaine didn’t get to act so high and mighty when he was no better.

    “Mewtwo is far more than just a clone or a weapon,” Blaine said slowly. “He’s a living being,” Blaine pulled a pokéball out of his pocket and let out his Magmar. “But I don’t expect you to understand that.”

    “Let me guess why,” Lt. Surge scowled. “Because I’m too stupid?” Blaine wouldn’t be the first person to make the assumption.

    “Because you’re a soldier,” Blaine gestured with his hand, and in an instant Magmar released its flamethrower attack. Lt. Surge didn’t have time to move out of the way before the fire hit his arm, right near his elbow. Lt. Surge grunted in pain and dropped the book, just like Blaine intended. What Blaine hadn’t intended, and didn’t notice, was that Lt. Surge had kept his grip on those couple of pages. They were ripped right out of the notebook and were clenched in his hand.

    Not that the pages were what Lt. Surge really cared about at the moment.

    He bit his lip so hard that it nearly started to bleed as he drew his arms close to his chest. Lt. Surge didn’t like to show weakness, but he couldn’t help but draw slightly in on himself in pain. His arms burned.

    “Wh-Blaine!” Ash turned and glared angrily at the scientist. “What was that for?”

    I-I didn’t mean to cause pain,” Blaine said quietly, though there wasn’t really much true remorse in his tone. Lt. Surge was actually relieved that Blaine didn’t sound sorry, because what was the point of doing something if you were just going to regret it seconds later? Do good, do bad, Lt. Surge honestly didn’t care, but whatever you did, stick to it. “However, I desperately needed my research back.”

    There are better ways of-of doing that.” Lt. Surge said through clenched teeth, which just caused more pain to his jaw. He knew he should stop, but he was unable to. Despite the pain, he forced himself to stand up straight. The middle of his arms were in that uncomfortable middle phase between burning pain and numb nothingness. “What does me being a soldier have to do with-with...with not understanding something?”

    Blaine sighed in irritation. “I don’t mean that all soldiers are like you, but many that I’ve met are.”

    “Like what?” Lt. Surge growled.

    Lt. Surge could tell that Blaine was glaring at him from behind the sunglasses. “As a soldier, you’ve gotten into the habit of mentally separating your ‘enemies’ from other people. You’ve been dehumanizing those you consider your enemies, and you don’t think much better of those that you regularly associate with.”

    “Well, you just know everything there is to know about me, don’t you?” Lt. Surge crossed his arms, partly to make himself seem more aggressive, and partly in an attempt to soothe his burns. “And why am I the monster here? You’re humanizing something that you’re trying to control.”

    “Guys, don’t do this,” Ash put a hand on Lt. Surge’s own, while his other hand settled on Blaine’s arm. “Please, don’t fight.”

    “It’s not a bad thing to have sympathy for another living creature,” Blaine said in a low, quiet, voice. “Maybe you should try it sometime.”

    Lt. Surge tensed and felt his breath get caught in his chest. He clenched his fists and tried to get himself to calm down. It didn’t work very well.

    “Matis,” Koga put a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t listen to him,”

    “...I gotta take a walk,” Lt. Surge moved the hand that had the papers from Blaine’s notebook on top of Koga’s. He moved as though he was going to pull Koga’s hand off his shoulder, but that was just for show. When Koga felt the papers on the back of his hand, he subtly moved his hand until his palm was facing Lt. Surge’s. Without giving Ash and Blaine a reason to believe that they had something to hide, the information switched hands.

    Once Koga had a grip on the papers, Lt. Surge walked past him and stormed into the forest. He didn’t make it very far before he felt a tugging on the back of his shirt.

    “Lt. Surge, wait, please.” He stopped at the pleading tone in Ash’s voice. “Where are you going?”

    “...Leave me alone, kid,” Lt. Surge said tiredly. “I need some space.”

    “I don’t think he meant anything.” Ash said desperately. Lt. Surge slowly turned and looked at the kid, who looked upset, but also extremely determined. Ash wasn’t just going to let him walk away from this, not if he could do anything to stop it. “He’s just protective.”

    “Doesn’t matter,” Lt. Surge slowly brought a hand to the feathery pendent around his neck.

    “No, I guess it doesn’t,” Ash bit his lip and kicked his toes into the dirt. “You still got your feelings hurt.”

    Lt. Surge grimaced. He wanted to deny Ash’s claim, but his chest was hurting just as much as his head, his jaw, and now his arms, and he couldn’t even try to claim that it was for any other reason than Blaine’s words getting under his skin. “I’m fine, Ash.”

    “No, you’re not.” Ash protested firmly. He was such a stubborn kid.

    “Yes, I am,” Lt. Surge insisted. “And if I’m not, then I will be in a few hours.”

    “Do you really have to be alone?” Ash pleaded. “Why can’t you just stay at camp? I’ll make sure Blaine doesn’t try to talk to you anymore.”

    Lt. Surge chuckled lightly and tilted Ash’s hat down to cover his eyes. “Thanks for the offer kid, but I need some time to myself.” He needed to be able to recharge without having to worry about being interrupted.

    “...Fine,” Ash pouted. “But if you’re not back by tomorrow, I’m coming after you.”

    “I’m counting on it.” Lt. Surge smirked slightly. He put his hands on Ash’s shoulders and gave him a light push back towards the beach. “I’ll try not to keep you waiting.”

    “You’d better not,” Ash tried to glare at Lt. Surge, but his gaze quickly softened. “Good luck,” Ash looked like he desperately wanted to stay, but he turned and walked away anyways. Ash was respecting Lt. Surge’s decision, and he was grateful for that.

    Lt. Surge watched Ash walk away. As soon as the kid was out of sight, Lt. Surge’s smirk quickly slipped off his face. His proud stance faltered, as there was nobody around to keep up appearances for. Lt. Surge didn’t like to show how unnerved he was, even if there was nobody else around to see it. He was just too exhausted to keep up the facade, especially since Blaine’s words from before wouldn’t stop playing on repeat through his head.

    ‘You’ve been dehumanizing those you consider your enemies’

    That all-mighty jerk had no right to say anything about him like he knew him. No right at all. Even if Blaine was right, he didn’t understand anything.

    Lt. Surge growled and punched a nearby tree. It stung, did nothing to make him feel better, and probably did more damage to his hand than to the tree. Lt. Surge shook out his hand and then drew it back into a fist so he could hit at the tree again, even harder than he did before. Lt. Surge shouted furiously and continued to punch at the tree with both fists, all while pretending that it was Blaine’s face he was punching, not some wood.

    And if he hurt his hands in the process, then so be it. Blaine wasn’t the only one he was mad at.

    Blaine didn’t understand. So what if Lt. Surge dissociated any potential connection he might have to his enemies? He didn’t have a choice. Blaine was right, Lt. Surge was a soldier, always had been, always would be. He lived his life like he was constantly at war, because that was what his job required. Lt. Surge knew he wasn’t a good person, he never pretended to be. He humiliated, used, and hurt people and pokémon alike on a daily basis, and wasn’t even phased by it.

    Not because he didn’t have sympathy for others, but because he didn’t allow himself to feel it. His work in Team Rocket had involved stealing pokémon from innocent trainers, forcing them to evolve, harming them to make them stronger. That was his job, and it had been even worse back when he had been in the military. He had seen horrors, and he had caused more than his fair share of them.

    After several minutes Lt. Surge struck the tree one more time, and kept his fist up against the now shredded wood. Lt. Surge closed his eyes tightly and breathed deeply as he leaned his head against the trunk.

    This...this was why he had taught himself to not think too deeply about the personal feelings of those whose lives he affected. It was just too much for him. He couldn’t handle it. Blaine’s accusation that he dehumanized others, it wasn’t inaccurate, and that was why it hurt so much. Lt. Surge was well aware of what he was doing, and he didn’t need to be called out about it. But Blaine didn’t understand that Lt. Surge did this for a reason, because it was the only way he could continue to function without breaking down all the time.

    He didn’t have a choice.
  9. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 8:
    Koga frowned as he looked down at the paper in his hands. It was just a single sheet of paper in Blaine’s report about Mewtwo, but it was enough to get an idea of just what that scientist had in mind. He wanted to catch Mewtwo. He had some sort of connection with the artificial pokémon. Koga couldn’t know just by looking at this one page just what Blaine wanted Mewtwo for, but he didn’t sense any malicious intentions from him.

    Than again, the scientist hadn’t hesitated to order his Magmar to attack Lt. Surge. Humans weren’t meant to endure pokémon attacks. The intense pain in Koga’s chest reminded him just what kind of person had their pokémon attack other humans.

    Koga saw movement out of the corner of his eye and he swiftly slipped the stray paper under his tunic. He turned to see Ash coming out from the trees. He was walking slowly and was hanging his head slightly. Koga didn’t know Ash all that well, but he knew that he was far too energetic and happy to look so forlorn.

    Koga would normally leave Ash alone to figure his own issues out, but he knew that Ash had been following Lt. Surge, who had stormed off after his confrontation with Blaine. Koga frequently got annoyed with his friend’s hot headed tendency to go looking for a fight, but in this particular instance he was more concerned than anything. Lt. Surge was incredibly thick-skinned. It wasn’t common for his feelings to get hurt, and even more uncommon for him to show his inner pain, but he’d really been slipping these past few days. Not only was it clear that Blaine’s words had affected him, but they had hurt him deeply enough that Ash, who was an extremely oblivious child, had been worried enough to go off after him immediately.

    And now Ash had returned, and he was by himself, looking more defeated than Koga had ever seen him. Whatever was going on with Lt. Surge, it was worse than Koga had first suspected. Koga watched Ash for a moment, trying to decide if he should go and talk to the boy about Lt. Surge. He may be able to find out more about what was going on, and if not he could possibly say something to reassure Ash that Lt. Surge was just fine.

    Koga hadn’t been sure of what he should do, but when he saw Blaine approach Ash to speak with him, only for the boy to turn and try to leave, he made his decision. Koga frowned and made his way to the pair. It was clear that Ash didn’t want to speak to Blaine at the moment, which was understandable, but the scientist wasn’t taking no for an answer. When Ash tried to leave Blaine just grabbed Ash’s arm. It didn’t seem to be in a harsh way, but it was forceful.

    “Ash, I need to talk to you,” Blaine said in a hushed voice. He didn’t want to be overheard, but Koga was close enough, and trained enough at listening to other conversations, that he heard him anyways.

    “Leave me alone,” Ash said coldly, or, at least, he tried to be cold. Ash just sounded like a little child, upset, confused, and conflicted between wanting to be left alone, and craving other people’s company. Koga couldn’t force Blaine to leave him alone, but he could be a buffer.

    “Ash, perhaps it would be good for you to hear him out,” Koga came and put a hand on the boy’s shoulder. He looked at Blaine, his gaze unwavering, sending the unspoken message that he wasn’t going anywhere. Blaine didn’t look amused, but he didn’t attempt to make him leave. Blaine let go of Ash’s arm and stepped back, giving them room.

    Ash shifted uncomfortably and pet Pikachu, who was sitting on his shoulder. He reluctantly looked at Blaine and frowned. “You attacked Lt. Surge. You hurt him.”

    Blaine sighed and took off his hat. He handed it to Ash, who took it and began to finger the rainbow feather that was stuck into the band. “I promise, Ash, I never meant to hurt him.”

    “But you did,” Ash furrowed his brow at the hat. “He doesn’t want to come back yet. He basically told me that he wasn’t doing so good.”

    Koga flinched at Ash’s words and tightened his grip on the boy’s shoulder. “He said that?”

    “Actually, he said that he was ‘fine’,” Ash said, his tone suggesting disbelief. “But he also said that if he wasn’t fine, then he would be in a few hours. And then he said that he wanted to be alone.”

    Koga sighed in irritation and slight concern. “Whatever Matis’ state is, it’s far from fine.” Lt. Surge was not the kind of person who enjoyed being on his own. He craved social interaction. When he was on his own, he was more vulnerable to his personal demons. Lt. Surge wasn’t in a stable mental state at this moment, and at most times this would be when he would seek out company, but instead he was avoiding them all.

    “What is wrong with Lt. Surge?” Blaine asked, looking at Koga. The words sounded like an insult, but Koga knew his question was coming from a place of concern. Blaine’s words had triggered Lt. Surge, but he hadn’t meant to provoke him. Not to this extent.

    Koga ran a hand through his hair. It felt strange to be talking about his companion behind his back with the man who had upset him, but he knew all too well that if they wanted to finish their assignment, they needed Blaine to trust them. At this point, after the confrontation, the best way to do that was by being honest with him.

    Besides, Blaine was a scientist, he had created a self-aware artificial pokémon, he was a smart man. He had likely already figured out what was wrong with Lt. Surge, he was just looking for confirmation. Koga could give that to him.

    “You weren’t far off when you accused him of lacking empathy,” Koga said. He kept his gaze focused on Blaine, but out of the corner of his eye he saw Ash turn to look up at him in concern and confusion. “He cares about others, he just pretends that he doesn’t.”

    “Wh-why would he do that?” Ash asked. He looked almost pained at the thought that this man who he had started to look up to to would try so hard to hide his humanity.

    “Because he’s been hurt,” Blaine said plainly, an understanding tone in his voice. “It is normal to feel guilty for being the cause for someone else’s pain. This guilt can be so intense that it hurts. Sometimes, people try to make the guilt go away by trying to fix the problem, or make up for what has been done,” Blaine put his hand on his left arm, his injured one, and Koga saw a flash of understanding in Ash’s eyes.

    “But one can’t always fix what they’ve done,” Koga added. Stealing pokémon, forcing them to evolve and get stronger against their will. Hurting, or sometimes even killing people and pokémon during a war. Losing a child that you were responsible for. These were all things that Lt. Surge had done, and he couldn’t change it. He couldn’t replace or fix what he had taken. “Sometimes, one just have to live with the guilt of what they have done, and it can become too much to handle.”

    “What could Lt. Surge have done to make him feel this guilty?” Ash asked earnestly. “He’s so cool.”

    Koga grimaced. He wished that he knew. Koga suspected that most of Lt. Surge’s guilt stemmed from what happened to Silver, but the man hadn’t opened up to anybody about what exactly had happened. All they knew was that he blamed himself. “That’s something that you’ll have to ask him.”

    “Maybe I will,” Ash said, a clear look of determination in his eyes. Koga didn’t doubt that he meant it. Lt. Surge wouldn’t talk to Koga or Sabrina about Silver, but the ninja wouldn’t be surprised if he talked to Ash about it. Lt. Surge had a really soft spot for the kid.

    Blaine tightened his grip on his arm. “Alright, you answered a personal question of mine, so it’s only fair that I answer a question of yours.”

    Koga felt Ash stiffen under his grip. He had some questions, that was for sure, but he didn’t want to make Blaine suspicious of their work, so he kept them to himself. Besides, he knew that Ash had questions of his own. Blaine may have opened the conversation up to questions, but he would be more receptive of them if they came from a confused child.

    “I-I know that all of your notes about Mewtwo are in that notebook,” Ash said quietly. “But I-I really don’t get why it’s so important that the others don’t know about it.”

    Blaine was silent for a moment, and Koga knew that the man was eyeing him, hesitant to say anything at all. Ash seemed to notice Blaine’s reluctance as well, and he wasn’t happy about it.

    “Blaine, you said you would answer a question.” Ash sounded disappointed, and extremely distressed. Koga could feel Ash’s shoulder shake under his hand “I’m-I’m tired of hiding things, and lying, and keeping secrets from each other. Please, j-just…” Ash trailed off and hung his head slightly.

    “Hey, hey, don’t do that,” Blaine swiftly took off his sunglasses and put them in his pocket. At the same time, he knelt down in front of Ash and looked him in the eyes. “I’m sorry. You’re right, of course you’re right, I did say I would answer your question, and I will.”

    Blaine lifted his gaze and met Koga’s stare. His words were directed at Ash, but Blaine felt as though he was talking to him. “I didn’t want the others to know about my work because I was worried that they were involved with Team Rocket.”

    “T-Team Rocket?” Ash’s surprised and almost pained tone caused Blaine to direct his gaze back to him, which Koga was grateful for. He was careful to not show any reaction to Blaine’s words, but for all he knew this lack of a reaction may be exactly what could confirm the suspicions. “Why would you think that?” Koga was wondering that exact thing.

    “Because I’m paranoid,” Blaine slowly stood up, and Ash lifted his head to follow the movement. “Ash, you don’t know what kind of people work for Team Rocket, I do. Giovanni primarily employs two kinds of people, those in power, and those with special skills. That was why he employed me.”

    “Wh-what do you mean?” Ash asked quietly.

    “I’m a skilled scientist,” Blaine said. “But I’m also the Cinnabar Gym leader, a person with power and influence. Your friends are a lot like that.”

    “They’re...they’re gym leaders, like you, and like...like…” Ash shook his head and trailed off. “And then Sabrina’s psychic, Lt. Surge is a soldier, and Koga’s a master ninja. I guess they are kinda like you.”

    This wasn’t good. Koga had to change the conversation before Blaine had Ash suspecting them as well.

    “What is this business with Mewtwo anyways?” Koga hesitated for just a moment before he reached into his tunic and pulled out the paper that Lt. Surge had handed to him. He held it out to Blaine. Koga knew that revealing that he had a page of Blaine’s notebook would either confirm the man’s suspicions that they were there to spy on him, or returning it could be the one thing that could gain his trust. Koga was taking a risk doing this.

    Blaine slowly accepted the notebook paper and looked at it, an unreadable look in his eyes. After a tense moment Blaine looked up and met Koga’s gaze. Blaine then proceeded to tell Koga about Mewtwo. Koga doubted that Blaine was sharing everything, but he would have been surprised if he did. Koga was actually surprised at just how much Blaine was telling him. He was clearly trying to appease Ash.

    According to Blaine, Mewtwo was an artificial pokémon that he had created. Koga had been aware of this, but what he hadn’t known was that Blaine had used some of his own DNA to create Mewtwo. This shared DNA had created a connection between the scientist and the pokémon. It was this connection that had caused Blaine to quit his work for Team Rocket, and it was also the reason why he wanted to catch Mewtwo, because he understood him. What Blaine didn’t say, but what Koga understood anyways, was that Mewtwo was too unstable to be left on his own, and Blaine didn’t trust Giovanni to control him, which was probably wise.

    “How are you planning on finding and catching Mewtwo?” Koga asked.

    “Oh, Blaine has a built in Mewtwo tracker,” Ash said enthusiastically. He looked at Blaine with wide eyes. “Can you show him?”

    Blaine laughed slightly at Ash’s excitement. “I don’t see why not,” He rolled up his shirt sleeve, and Koga was shocked to see the mutilated skin there. Human skin wasn’t supposed to look like that. “This is where Mewtwo’s DNA is. It points right to Mewtwo.” Koga didn’t know how that would work, but when he saw the slight movement in Blaine’s arm, he believed it.

    “And we’ll catch him with this!” Ash reached into the side pocket of his backpack and pulled out a purple and pink pokéball. Koga felt his breath catch in his throat when he saw it. He had never seen a Master ball for himself, but he knew what they did, and just how rare they were. He had been surprised when he had heard that Team Rocket had gotten their hands on a Master ball.

    “Where did you get that?” Koga asked in quiet awe.

    “Giovanni was going to use it to catch Mewtwo, but I grabbed it from him before he could.” Ash said proudly. Koga stared at Ash in shock before he started laughing. From what he had heard, Giovanni never let that Master ball out of his sight, and Ash had just snatched it from him. Koga would have to make sure to never underestimate Ash. That boy was far more resourceful than anybody gave him credit for.

    “Well, it sounds like you have the means of catching Mewtwo, as well as a way to find him,” Koga eyed Blaine critically. “But legendary aren’t just difficult to catch because they’re hard to find. They’re extremely powerful, and I don’t imagine that Mewtwo will be all too eager to be caught.”

    “We know,” Ash said, and his tone was strangely serious. He had, indeed, considered how difficult and dangerous this may be. “We know we’ll probably have to fight him. We’ve been trying to train for it.”

    “Perhaps some more training would be good,” Blaine looked at Koga, a questioning look in his eyes. “Ash tells me that you’ve helped him train his pokémon. He could use some more help.”

    Help with training, that was something that Koga could do. “What type of pokémon is Mewtwo?” Koga knew that he was psychic, but he didn’t know if there was another typing in there.

    “He’s just psychic.” Blaine said. Koga nodded as he considered what they could do with that. Psychic pokémon were weak to ghost, dark, and bug type pokémon. None of them had any ghost or dark pokémon. However, Ash did have a Butterfree.

    “We can work with that,” Koga reached into his pocket and grabbed one of his pokéballs. He opened it to let out his Venomoth. “Get your Butterfree, and let’s get to work.”

    “Okay,” Ash said eagerly. He offered Blaine’s hat back to him. Blaine took his hat, but instead of putting it back on he grabbed Ash’s hat off his head and replaced it with his white fedora. Ash smiled and then laughed when Blaine put Ash’s cap on Pikachu’s head. “Thanks.” Ash didn’t say what exactly he was grateful for, but he didn’t have to.

    “Come on, we have work to do,” Koga pulled slightly on Ash’s shoulder to lead him down the beach where there would be room for them to train.

    “Why are we working with Butterfree?” Ash asked even as he grabbed Butterfree’s pokéball. He may not follow completely blindly, but he was still obedient.

    “For one thing, your Butterfree is fully evolved.” Koga pointed out. He was all for letting Ash make his own decisions about evolving his pokémon, but there was no denying that fully evolved pokémon were almost always stronger. “It’s also a bug-type,”

    “And bug is good against psychic!” Ash said loudly. He was smiling broadly, proud and excited to have remembered the type advantage. Ash’s smile dimmed slightly after a moment. “But the only bug-type move that Butterfree knows is string shot, and that doesn’t do damage.”

    “But it does slow down your opponent.” Koga pointed out. “It doesn’t matter how strong your opponent is. If they can’t move, they can’t attack you, which means they can’t beat you.”

    “Got it,” Ash’s eyes flashed with determination. He looked at Butterfree. “Do you think you can do it?”

    Butterfree nodded slightly and fluttered into the air. Venomoth flew up to join Butterfree. Koga reached for another one of his pokéballs. “If you’re going to rely so heavily on string shot, you need to make sure you have the speed and accuracy to make it work.” He let out his Golbat, who was the fastest of all his pokémon. “We’re going to have Butterfree practice on Golbat and Pikachu.”

    “”Alright,” Ash held out his arm and Pikachu ran off of his shoulder and joined Golbat. “Buddy, just try to avoid Butterfree’s string shot. Butterfree, try to hit the two of them.” Koga knew that Ash and Butterfree would just get frustrated if all they did was jump into this without thinking, but he didn’t say anything. Ash and his pokémon would learn best if they experienced this frustration for themselves.

    Just as Koga had expected, Butterfree’s attempts at hitting Golbat and Pikachu with string shot didn’t go very well. Butterfree’s aim wasn’t half bad, and its speed was above average, but it was no match for Pikachu or Golbat. By the time Butterfree’s released a string shot, its target had already dashed out of the way. Koga watched them go for some time before he nodded at Golbat, who quickly sent out a razor wind attack.

    Ash’s eyes widened in alarm. “Butterfree, keep an eye out for that razor wind!” Taking heed of its trainer’s warning, Butterfree stopped attacking and was on guard. A moment later it dove out of the way, just before Golbat’s attack hit.

    “Mewtwo’s not just going to sit around and let you hit him with string shot,” Koga said. “You need to be prepared for Mewtwo to attack.”

    “Should Butterfree dodge or defend?” Ash asked, and it was a fair question.

    “What do you think?” Koga asked. Ash needed to learn how to trust his instincts as a trainer. Koga had never met Mewtwo and seen him in action, Ash had.

    The boy was quiet for a moment. “Mewtwo’s really strong. I don’t want any of my pokémon to be hurt by his attacks, so I don’t want them to be hit at all.”

    Koga nodded. “So we need to work on being swift and agile.” And if Butterfree could increase its speed, then it may have an easier time hitting its targets with string shot. It was certainly worth a try. Koga held out a hand and gestured for Venomoth to join Butterfree.

    “What are you going to have them do?” Ash asked. Koga didn’t answer, he just gestured to their pokémon. Venomoth could train himself, and he could figure out how to persuade Butterfree to follow his lead. Without Koga needing to say anything, Venomoth silently communicated with Butterfree, and then the two of them were dashing through the air, taking turns chasing each other.

    “They look like they’re playing.” Ash said happily.

    “They’re training,” Koga said. He pointed at how Venomoth was diving out of Butterfree’s reach. “Do you see how Venomoth is leading Butterfree along? Sharp turns, quick angles, he’s leading by example.”

    “Venomoth’s really fast.” Ash commented.

    “And if Butterfree continues to follow his lead, he’ll learn how to move just like Venomoth.” Koga said.

    “Won’t that take a lot of time and practice?” Ash asked.

    “Not necessarily,” Koga gestured to Butterfree, who had finally managed to tag Venomoth. Butterfree then quickly dodged out of the way as Venomoth went after him. “Look at how Butterfree’s moving his wings. Instead of flapping out, and then level with its body, it’s flapping in, and then level.”

    “Hey, that’s how Venomoth flies.” Ash tilted his head slightly. “I didn’t know that made a difference.”

    Koga chuckled slightly and crossed his arms. “It doesn’t, but it means that Butterfree is mimicking Venomoth, and he’s a fast learner. If they continue to fly together, they’ll continue to learn from each other.”

    “So we just leave them alone?” Ash furrowed his brow slightly. “That doesn’t seem like very good training.”

    “Pokémon in the wild can become fantastic fighters on their own,” Koga said. “Training works best when the trainer considers a pokémon’s natural strengths and weaknesses.”

    “So sometimes it’s good to let them do their own thing?” Ash asked.

    “Very good,” Koga nodded. He could see the slight disappointment in Ash’s eyes, and couldn’t help but be amused. Ash enjoyed working side by side with his pokémon. “Tell you what, while we leave these two alone why don’t you show me what you remember about what I’ve taught you.

    Ash’s expression immediately brightened. “That sounds awesome.”
  10. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 9:
    Lt. Surge grimaced and crossed his arms. He was used to being shocked with electricity. He was a master of electric pokémon, and one didn’t get as good as he did without getting shocked dozens of times. It didn’t even faze him anymore. If he had been asked a few hours ago, he would say that he could deal with a little burn, no problem. Electricity burned, so there couldn’t be too much of a difference between that and a fire burn. He couldn’t expect just how wrong he would be.

    His arm burned so badly, it was ridiculous. People thought that Lt. Surge was intimidating, but they saw nothing wrong with a reclusive old man who lived in a volcano and had only fire pokémon. It was just messed up. Lt. Surge knew that pokémon could be dangerous, but he hadn’t really been on the receiving end of pokémon attacks. It made him wonder who thought it would be such a good idea to give this powerhouses to a bunch of children, because this just wasn’t safe.

    After Ash had made his way back to the beach Lt. Surge had wandered around the forest for a bit. He hadn’t known where he was going, and he hadn’t cared. He just needed to be moving, to be doing something with himself. Physical activity gave him something to focus on that wasn’t the thing that he needed to avoid thinking about. He knew that Sabrina and Koga would both lecture him, or give him a disappointed look for just distracting himself from his problems. They were always going on about how unhealthy and dangerous it was to always avoid the things he didn’t want to think about, but they weren’t there, so he could avoid his problems to his heart’s content.

    Lt. Surge just wandered around the forest until he couldn’t ignore his burn anymore. Then, and only then, did he stop, and that was just so he could soak his arm in a stream. Though he had only meant to sooth his burn, Lt. Surge soaked his hands as well. He watched in near fascination as the running water washed the dry blood from his fists. He had known that he had battered his hands pretty badly, but he hadn’t paid much attention to them. He had been too concerned with punching away his frustrations.

    Now that Lt. Surge was forced to do nothing but soak his hands and arm, he was forced to confront the thoughts that he had been trying to avoid for the last few hours.

    Why did Blaine insist that he was such a good guy? Sure, he hadn’t actually said that he was, so at least he had that going for him, but he definitely acted like he thought he was better than they were, which might be even worse. And Blaine obviously thought that he was better than Giovanni, at least as far as being trusted to catch Mewtwo went. As frustrated as Lt. Surge was with Blaine, he had to admit that Blaine would probably be better for catching Mewtwo, and that just infuriated him even more.

    Lt. Surge didn’t know what his problem was. Giovanni was his boss. The whole reason why Lt. Surge had to be around Blaine in the first place was because Giovanni wanted to be sure that Blaine didn’t do anything to stop him from getting Mewtwo. Lt. Surge had never had a problem with Giovanni catching wild pokémon before, so why should this time be any different?

    Lt. Surge asked that question to himself, but deep down he knew he was just wasting his time. He knew the answer to the question, he was just avoiding thinking about it, because that was what he was good at.

    It wasn’t that Lt. Surge thought that Blaine was a better trainer than Giovanni, or that he thought that the scientist was more qualified to control a legendary pokémon. The one and only reason why Lt. Surge even considered that Blaine would be a good trainer for Mewtwo was because it was clearly what Ash wanted.

    Lt. Surge had gotten way more attached to the kid than he had ever thought he would. At first Lt. Surge had just trained Ash because somebody had to. He had quickly gained a bit of respect towards Ash, he admired his drive and willingness to put in the effort. And even though Lt. Surge complained about Ash’s reluctance to evolve his pokémon, he admired the kid’s close relationship with his pokémon. Lt. Surge’s experience in the army had taught him that if you take care of your pokémon, they’ll take care of you in return.

    Lt. Surge hadn’t meant to become protective of Ash, but Giovanni and Koga had a big influence in that way. Giovanni had been projecting his grief about what happened to his own kid onto Ash. And Koga had been letting his parenting instincts reach Ash from the very start. Their general feelings of protectiveness had sparked something in Lt. Surge that caused him to feel the same way, and he didn’t know what to do about it.

    Lt. Surge was used to feeling the need to protect. It was why he had joined the military in the first place. He never hesitated to do anything that he could to protect those that he considered his own, out of a sense of duty if for no other reason. But that wasn’t what was going on with Ash. Lt. Surge wanted to protect him, but it wasn’t because he felt obligated to, it was because he wanted to. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Lt. Surge was fond of Ash.

    Lt. Surge wasn’t the kind of person who let himself get close to people easy. He didn’t go out of his way to make friends. He was close to Sabrina and Koga, but other than them he wasn’t buddies with people. And suddenly Ash just waltz right in, and Lt. Surge feels the need to not just keep Ash safe, but to keep him happy.

    Lt. Surge hadn’t thought a lot about how fond he was of Ash, because it had never mattered before. But now Ash wanted to help Blaine find Mewtwo before Team Rocket could, and Lt. Surge was tempted to just let it happen, because that was what Ash wanted. Sure, Lt. Surge didn’t want Ash anywhere near Mewtwo, and he was furious at Blaine for using Ash to find him, but he wasn’t mad for the reasons that he should be.

    Giovanni had been planning on using Ash’s apparent ability to attract legendary pokémon to find Mewtwo, and here Blaine was trying to do the exact same thing. Lt. Surge should be mad because this had been Giovanni’s plan, and Blaine was interfering with Team Rocket’s business. But no, Lt. Surge barely considered that thought. He was far more concerned with how Ash could be in danger.

    Lt. Surge didn’t know how or when it happened, but he was more concerned about the well-being of a child that he had only met a few weeks ago than he was about the job that he’d had for years. What was wrong with him?

    Lt. Surge growled and brought his hands out of the water. He didn’t want to just hang around and do nothing with himself. He had to do something, even if that something was just going back to town and picking up some burn heal. Most trainers thought that burn heal only worked on pokémon, but that wasn’t the case. Burns were burns, whether they were on people or pokémon. Lt. Surge had discovered this when he had been in the military, just him and his pokémon. He had been injured pretty badly, and desperate to do whatever it took to feel better, including healing methods that were typically reserved for pokémon. Not everything had worked, but the heal burn more than did the trick.

    Besides, Lt. Surge was sick of being stuck in his own thoughts. He had a job to do, and he refused to let his sentimentality keep him from doing it. He didn’t have as much information about Mewtwo and what Blaine wanted with it as he wanted, but it was something worth reporting. Lt. Surge remembered that there were phones in town. He could call Giovanni while he was there getting some burn heal.

    Because Lt. Surge hadn’t been paying attention to where he was going while he was wandering around the forest (a stupid, idiotic move on his part. He was getting careless) he had to get creative to find his bearings. He ultimately decided that the best way to get to town was to just keep walking the way that he had been going through the trees until he came to a beach, he would find what side of the island he was based on the sun’s position, and then make his way to the town from there.

    Lt. Surge wasn’t happy with his backup plan, but an hour later it ended up working just the way he knew it would. Lt. Surge smirked as he made his way to the pokémon center that just so happened to double as a pharmacy in this particular island. His solo survival skills were rustier than he would like them to be, but he still had it.

    Lt. Surge picked up some burn heal, more than he needed for his burn, because it was always better to be safe than sorry. Lt. Surge grabbed some other things too, just in case. After making his purchases Lt. Surge went to the phones. He hesitated for just a few moments before he dialed the numbers that would forward him straight to Giovanni. Very few agents could directly contact their leader. Their either had to be forwarded to Giovanni through their superiors, or called by him directly. Lt. Surge was high enough a rank to contact his boss directly. There were perks to being good at one’s job.

    “Lt. Surge,” The man instinctively straightened at attention when Giovanni answered the call. The man didn’t look shocked to hear from him, and he didn’t look upset about it taking too long either. “Anything to report?”

    “Blaine’s trying to track Mewtwo,” Lt. Surge said. “He’s planning on using Ash to help him.”

    Giovanni’s expression didn’t reveal how he felt about that. But Lt. Surge was familiar enough with his boss to know that his expression was only this steeled if he was trying to hide his reaction. “How did you come across this information?”

    “Blaine keeps a journal on him at all times.” Lt. Surge said. “I didn’t get a good look at all of it, but I know that much for sure.”

    Now Giovanni allowed himself to look pleased. Would it be possible for you to get your hands on that journal?”

    Lt. Surge scowled. “Koga or Sabrina probably could,” For all Lt. Surge knew, they already had. “But Blaine won’t let me anywhere near the thing. That guy doesn’t trust me.”

    “Blaine has always been a solitary person,” Giovanni said. “He doesn’t trust anybody other than himself. You can work around it.”

    “No, I’m not saying there’s a lack of trust,” Lt. Surge said. “This guy distrusts me. He’s always watching me, always quick to jump to the conclusion that I’m doing something wrong. I don’t need to be this guys’ best friend, but if I’m the one looking for information, Blaine will catch me.”

    Giovanni furrowed his brow slightly. “Do you think your presence is jeopardizing the job?”

    “You know me, boss, I’m not a whiner,” Lt. Surge said. Koga and Sabrina may beg to differ, but Lt. Surge knew how to put personal feelings aside for work. He’s been doing it for years.

    Giovanni was quiet for a moment, and Lt. Surge could practically see him thinking things through. “Very well. Sabrina and Koga can handle this job. As for you, I may have another assignment for you, much more up your alley.”

    Lt. Surge raised an intrigued eyebrow. He felt a little spark inside of him, a feeling that often came when he was about to get a job that interested him. “What’s the job?”

    “One of our squad teams has managed to track down and capture the legendary bird Zapdos.” Giovanni said. Lt. Surge whistled lowly at the words. Legendary pokémon had always interested him, like they interested most people. Zapdos was an electric type pokémon, which made it that much better.

    “Doesn’t that complete the trio?” Lt. Surge asked. He didn’t know for sure if Team Rocket had their hands on Articuno and Moltres, but he knew that they had been after them for a few years now, and he’d heard rumors that they’d finally been caught. Giovanni tried his best to make sure that only the agents who were directly involved in an assignment had access to the information. However, rumors had a tendency to float around, and often they were to be believed.

    Giovanni looked slightly amused at Lt. Surge’s words, but he didn’t confirm or deny them. “We were hoping to use Zapdos to lure out another legendary pokémon. However, we’re having a hard time getting Zapdos to behave for us. You’re a master of electric pokémon. Do you think you’re up for the challenge of taming a legendary bird?”

    “I’m always up for a challenge,” Lt. Surge said confidently. When is this happening?”

    “Immediately,” Giovanni said. “I need you to find a way to get to Thunder Island.” Lt. Surge didn’t know exactly where that was, but he had no doubts that he’d be able to find it.

    “You got it, Boss,” Lt. Surge grinned. He had an excuse to not be involved with this whole Mewtwo disaster. And he loved the challenge of taming a powerful pokémon. “I’ll get there soon as I can.”

    “See that you do,” Giovanni said, and with those words he ended the call and the screen went blank. Lt. Surge stretched and made his way out of the pokémon center. He knew there was a port around town. He may be able to rent a small boat that he could take to Thunder Island, or at the very least find a ferry that would take him to a larger island and he could get a boat there.

    When Lt. Surge got to the harbor he quickly found that he wouldn’t be getting off the island by boat. The island was so small that the ferry to and from the island only came once every week, and just Lt. Surge’s luck, it had left earlier that day. If there wasn’t a ferry, there definitely wasn’t a boat available for renting. He would have to find a different way off the island.

    Lt. Surge sighed and sat down at the edge of the water. He didn’t know how he would get to Thunder Island, though he would probably have to use a flying pokémon. It made things more inconvenient, but he wasn’t going to complain. He wasn’t all that eager about setting sail. He had tolerated it earlier because Sabrina had been there to calm him, and he had been focused on keeping Ash safe and Koga’s pain to a minimum. If he went out on his own though, there wouldn’t be anything else to focus on. Just him, and the vast, deep ocean with who knows what hiding under the surface.

    Lt. Surge hated how scared he was of the ocean now. He felt fine with at now, sitting on the shore, while the skies were clear and the waves were calm. Lt. Surge almost felt a sense of peace, sitting there watching the sun rise in the horizon. He could almost pretend that there was nothing dangerous out there.

    Lt. Surge closed his eyes and just listened to the sounds of the water against the shore. He let go and lost himself to the sea, in a way that was more calming than harmful. He didn’t mind this so much.

    “Lt. Surge!” The soldier opened his eyes and looked up to see Ash on his Charizard flying down to see him. He got to hiss feet just as they landed. Ash hopped off of Charizard and quickly ran to Lt. Surge’s side. “You’re okay!”

    “Didn’t I tell you I would be?” Lt. Surge rolled his eyes and put his hand on the kid’s shoulder. “Please tell me you didn’t spend all night looking for me.”

    Ash shook his head. “No, just the past half hour. I told you if you weren’t back by morning that I would go looking for you.”

    “Yeah, I guess you did.” Lt. Surge said apologetically. “Sorry, I guess I lost track of time.”

    “Is your arm okay?” Ash grabbed Lt. Surge’s arm to take a look at it. “No permanent damage?”

    “It burns like crazy, but it’ll be fine,” Lt. Surge assured him.

    “That’s good,” Ash looked relieved, but still slightly upset. “What about the, uh, other stuff? About what Blaine said to you about not caring about others?”

    Lt. Surge grimaced. “Look, I’m fine,”

    “Koga said that you pretend that you don’t care about people,” Ash said.

    “Koga said that?” Lt. Surge looked at Ash in shock as he felt a small feeling of betrayal. Ash nodded and that betrayal turned to annoyance. “What else did he say about me?”

    “He said that you do it because you feel really bad about something that you did,” Ash looked at Lt. Surge with wide, concern filled eyes. “What happened, anyways?”

    Lt. Surge sighed and sat back down on the beach. Ash quickly sat at his side. “I’ve done a lot of things I’m not exactly proud of, but so has everybody else. I’m just a little cautious about getting close to people, because in the end either I’ll get hurt by them, or they’ll get hurt by me.”

    “It doesn’t have to be like that,” Ash insisted. Lt. Surge shook his head. Ash had no idea. He was so young, so naive. “...Were you hurt by someone before, or...or did you hurt them?”

    Lt. Surge didn’t answer for a moment. He knew that he should, that Ash deserved to know the truth behind their protectiveness of him, but it was just so hard to talk about. Lt. Surge did his best to ignore things, and he’d never talked about it with anybody else before. He was tempted to just stick to that pattern, but he knew that he really shouldn’t. Just look at where keeping things bottled up had gotten him.

    “...His name was Silver,” Lt. Surge said quietly. “He was just a kid, about your age. I was supposed to keep an eye on him,”

    “What happened?” Ash asked slowly, cautiously.

    Lt. Surge took a slow, deep breath and glared out towards the ocean. “I lost him,” Ash looked at Lt. Surge’s dark expression with alarm before he slowly turned and followed his gaze out towards the ocean. Ash paled slightly.

    “So that’s why…” Ash trailed off, but they both knew that he had been about to mention Lt. Surge’s fear of the sea. “But...but it wasn’t your fault!”

    “Giovanni thinks it was,” Lt. Surge scoffed.

    “G-Giovanni?” Ash furrowed his brow. “What’s he got to do with anything?”

    “Well, Silver was his kid.” Lt. Surge said.

    “What?!” Ash’s expression would have been almost funny if the situation wasn’t the way that it was.

    “That’s kind of why Giovanni was so possessive of you,” Lt. Surge said. “I mean, also because of your whole attracting legendary pokémon thing, but it’s also ‘cause you remind him of his kid.”

    “I do?” Ash looked at his hands, almost like he was looking for the similarities that he shared with a boy that he had never met before.

    “I mean, you two are way different,” Lt. Surge said quickly. Ash was cheerful and optimistic, and cared about his pokémon more than anything in the world. Silver was more cynical, and while he respected pokémon, he didn’t necessarily love them. “But you’ve both got this attitude about you. You stick to what you think is right, and don’t change for much.”

    “So...we’re both stubborn?” Ash frowned in confusion.

    “Your words, not mine,” Lt. Surge said almost automatically. He laughed when Ash just shoved him. “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing though. Not many kids stick to their guts as strongly as you do.”

    “You shouldn’t listen to Giovanni,” Ash said. “He’s a bad guy,”

    “Sorry to break this to you, kiddo, but the world isn’t split into good guys and bad guys,” Lt. Surge said. “Everybody’s just something in the middle. Just look at Blaine, he created a pokémon with every intention of using it as a weapon, and you don’t think he’s bad, do you?”

    “Of course not,” Ash almost looked insulted at the implication. Ash was quiet as he thought for a seconds before he smiled broadly. “If nobody’s a bad guy, then that means that you aren’t either.”

    Oh, Ash had no idea. “It means I’m not a good guy either,” Lt. Surge said. “I’m just me.”

    “You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Ash tilted his head slightly. “Of course you’re you. Who else would you be?”

    Lt. Surge didn’t know what he could say to that, so he didn’t say anything. Ash continued. “You know, Koga’s really worried about you.”

    Lt. Surge rolled his eyes at Ash’s sloppy attempt to change the subject. “He worries about everybody.” This was the reason why they hadn’t done many assignments together since Janine was born. Lt. Surge didn’t like to feel babied, and Koga had a tendency to extend his parental protectiveness to everybody he remotely cared about.

    “Blaine’s kind of worried too,” Ash said, and that caught Lt. Surge’s interest. He had thought that the man would be glad to have him gone. “He really didn’t mean to hurt you, he’s just got a lot of stuff on his mind, and he took it out on you because you happened to be there.”

    “Sounds familiar,” Lt. Surge grumbled. He didn’t know how much he believed that Blaine was actually concerned about him. He couldn’t care less about how Blaine felt about him, but for some reason just the very fact that Ash said it made Lt. Surge want to believe it. “Look, I’m sorry, kid, but I can’t go back to camp with you.”

    “What?” Ash’s eyes widened in panic. “You said you were fine! You said you would come back!”

    “I know, but things change,” Lt. Surge stretched. “It’s got nothing to do with you, or Blaine, or whatever mess you’re trying to throw yourselves into. While I was gone I was just given a new job to do, and I’ve got to go.”

    “A job?” Ash didn’t look as scared as he did, but he still seemed disappointed. “What job?”

    “Some friends of mine have found a powerful electric type pokémon, and they’re having a hard time getting it under control.” Lt. Surge shared as much information about his new assignment as he dared to. “They want me to help them.”

    “O-oh,” Ash rubbed the back of his head. “How long will that take?”

    “Lt. Surge shrugged. “Hard to say,” Each pokémon was different as far as taming them went. It could take a few hours, or a few months. “It’ll probably take a while though.”

    “B-but we have to leave,” Ash said almost desperately. “Blaine doesn’t want to stay here for a long time. He wants to leave before Mewtwo leaves the area.”

    Lt. Surge shrugged and put his hand around the pendant around his neck. “I guess you guys will have to leave without me. You’ll be fine, Sabrina and Koga can probably handle the ship as well as I can.”

    “B-but,” Ash frowned and looked at the ground. “I don’t want to leave you.”

    “It’s not like we’ll never see each other again,” Lt. Surge promised. “As soon as I’m done with the job, I’ll come back.” He didn’t know why he was making the promise. He wanted to be away from Ash and the conflicted feelings of sentimentality he felt when he was around him.

    “But you don’t know where we’re going,” Ash protested. “We don’t even know where we’re going. How will you find us? And even if you did know where we were, what if you couldn’t get there fast enough to meet up with us? How do I know you’ll even want to come back at all? What if-”

    “Kid, calm down,” Lt. Surge put his hand on Ash’s shoulder. “I told you I’d come back, didn’t I?”

    “I-I guess so,” Ash said reluctantly. “Where are you going anyways?”

    “A place called Thunder Island.” Lt. Surge said. “I’ve got to go just as soon as I find a way to get there.”

    “What? Aren’t you taking a boat?” Ash asked. Lt. Surge shook his head.

    “There aren’t any boats available. I’ll probably have to borrow someone’s water or flying pokémon to get there.” Lt. Surge said.

    A strange look came to Ash’s eyes. He looked up at Charizard who had made himself comfortable at their side. Lt. Surge watched curiously as Ash and Charizard just looked at each other, seeming to have a silent conversation. He had no idea what was going on, but Charizard seemed to understand just fine. Charizard nodded, and Ash smiled, though it looked somewhat strained and a little forced.

    “You okay with this, bud?” Ash stood up and walked over to Charizard. He put a hand on Charizard’s face, and smiled when his pokémon leaned in to his touch. Charizard growled in agreement and nuzzled Ash slightly. “You’re really great, you know that? I couldn’t ask for a better Charizard.” Ash threw his arms around Charizards neck and embraced him tightly. After a long moment Ash stepped back from Charizard, and Lt. Surge was alarmed to see Ash’s eyes were wet. Was he crying?

    “What’s going on?” Lt. Surge asked. He got to his feet and approached Ash, though he kept his distance a bit. “Are you okay?”

    “I’m fine,” Ash wiped his eyes and smiled at Lt. Surge. “But if you need a flying pokémon, I want you to take Charizard.”

    “...What?” Lt. Surge stared at the kid in disbelief. “You’re not serious,”

    “I’m totally serious,” Ash said, and he certainly sounded like he knew what he was saying. “You and Charizard know each other. I know you’ll keep each other safe.”

    “But...but he’s your pokémon,” Lt. Surge said quietly.

    “I know, but I want to lend him to you,” Ash said. “If you borrow Charizard, I know you’ll come back to return him to me.”

    “A-are you sure?” Lt. Surge didn’t know how he felt about this.

    “I’m sure,” Ash reached into his pocket and pulled out a pokéball. Charizards pokéball. “Please, take Charizard with you.”

    Lt. Surge looked at Charizard, who nodded at him. It seemed like the kid and his pokémon both knew what they were doing. “You’re about to take on Mewtwo, and I’m not about to let you do that without a powerhouse on your side.” He reached into his pocket and grabbed one of his own pokéballs. He held it out to Ash. “As long as I have your Charizard, take my Electabuzz with you, alright?”

    Ash smiled and the two of them exchanged pokéballs. “Yeah, okay. Good luck with your job,”

    “I think you’re the one who needs luck, taking on Mewtwo,” Lt. Surge chuckled slightly. “Watch out for yourself, kid. And watch out for your pokémon too. If you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.”

    “I’ll remember that,” Ash promised. Lt. Surge nodded and walked over to Charizard, who lowered his neck to make it easier for Lt. Surge to hop on his back. He smirked and jumped onto Charizard’s back, just like before.

    “You ready to do this, Charizard?” Lt. Surge asked. Charizard straightened and used flamethrower. He was as ready to go as Lt. Surge was. Charizard crouched and spread its wings before taking off into the air. They circled around in the air for a bit. We’ll see you around, Ash,”

    “Bye!” Ash smiled broadly and waved both of his arms. Lt. Surge smirked and saluted back.

    “Alright, Charizard, let’s go,” Lt. Surge put his hands on Charizard’s horns, guiding him off towards the ocean. “We’ve got a job to do.”
  11. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 10:
    Darkness surrounded her. Sabrina didn’t like darkness. She liked to know what was going on in the world around her. How was she supposed to be in control if she couldn’t even see anything?

    Sabrina felt a cold feeling come over her. She tried to wrap her arms around herself, but found that she couldn’t. She couldn’t move her arms at all, or even feel them. She couldn’t feel any part of her body. It was as though she was just existing, there, but not there. She couldn’t hear anything. The only thing that existed was the cold and the shadows.

    Sabrina had no sense of time when she was in the darkness. She could have been there for a few moments, or for an entire eternity. Eventually Sabrina noticed a low ringing noise. It was quiet, barely noticeable at first, but it gradually grew louder until it was nearly overwhelming. Just when Sabrina didn’t think she could take any more the noise cleared enough for her to understand exactly what she was hearing.

    It was a song, albeit a rather short one. The haunting melody echoed all around her. It sounded like it could be a soothing tune, but it just sounded cold and sad to Sabrina. But when the song abruptly ended, she felt a sense of dread come over her. Something was coming.

    Immediately after Sabrina thought this there was a sudden fire that seemed to just explode right in front of her. She should have been burned alive, but Sabrina didn’t feel any heat at all. She barely had time to marvel at this before a pillar of ice shot up through the fire. Despite the contrasting elements, the ice didn’t calm the fire, and the fire didn’t melt the ice. They just coexisted with each other. It was almost beautiful in a way, but then lightning came down and struck the ice and the world sunk into chaos. Suddenly all three of the elements were at war with each other. Alone, these weren’t elements that should be taken lightly. All at once though, it was a disaster waiting to happen, and Sabrina was terrified of what could happen.

    Sabrina was so overcome with fear of the elements before her that she barely noticed that the song had returned. She only really noticed it because it wasn’t like it was before. The song was the same, but it seemed to come from one specific point. The song was quiet at first, and as it grew louder Sabrina knew that it was because the source of the melody was coming closer. The louder the music got, the more chaotic the elements became. Though, maybe it was that the more chaotic the elements were, the closer the source of the song came.

    Finally when it sounded like the song was right behind her Sabrina whipped around to face it and found herself staring right at a feather that she was all too familiar with. It was the feather that she had seen in her last vision, and had seen every day since around Lt. Surge’s neck. Sabrina lifted her hands, not even noticing that she had control of her body again, and cupped them around the feather. The moment she touched the silver feather the song sounded less haunting and sad. It still wasn’t a happy tune, but it was a beautiful soothing one.

    Sabrina just stood there and listened to the feather’s song, losing herself to it. She had been unsettled about this experience up to this point, but if she could just stand here and listen to the feather she would be completely fine with it.

    But, of course, she couldn’t be that lucky. Just as Sabrina was starting to allow herself to relax there was a loud pokémon roar. Sabrina, startled, turned to face the possible threat, but there was nothing around her, not even the fire, ice, and lightning. Sabrina wildly looked around the darkness, desperately looking for anything that might be out to get her. When she couldn’t hear or sense anything more she slowly turned her attention back to the feather in her hands and noticed in alarm that it had disappeared, along with it’s song.

    Sabrina barely noticed the feather’s absence before she heard the roar again, except this time she noticed that it wasn’t just one roar, it was three distinct pokémon cries, one on top of the other. And after listening to them for a moment Sabrina realized that these weren’t angry pokémon out to do some damage. The roars weren’t a warning, they were a cry, a plea.

    Sabrina didn’t know what lead her to do it, but she began to walk towards where the pokémon cries had come from. She walked through the darkness, with nothing to guide her except the occasional roars. After some time Sabrina heard thunder rumble above her. Mixing in with the thunder was the cry of just one of the pokémon. Sabrina knew that she was near at least one of the pokémon that she was looking for, but she didn’t stop. She just continued walking.

    The more Sabrina walked the louder the thunder and roar became. Eventually the thunder grew so strong that it seemed to shake the very ground around her. Even before this particular roll of thunder had died down Sabrina could feel a heat beneath her feet. It was just warm at first, and then slightly uncomfortable, but before too long it truly began to burn. The heat spread from her feet, up her legs, and seemed to engulf her entire body. The hotter she got, the more Sabrina noticed a strange crackling sound in the air, mingled with another one of the pokémon cries.

    Despite the pain, Sabrina continued walking. The burning heat lasted a lot longer than the thunder had, but it did eventually end. It wasn’t immediate, but Sabrina began to feel small droplets of water land on her. It was just a little sprinkle at first, but it grew stronger and stronger until it was a complete downpour of water, accompanied by the final roar. The rain and last roar drowned out the intense heat and the cry that came with it until the pain was completely gone. And then, the rain ended as well.

    And as sometimes happens after a storm, a rainbow appeared, stretching out in the darkness rs, and it has that same feel to it.high above Sabrina. She didn’t question how there could be a rainbow when there wasn’t any sun or light to cause it. She just watched as the rainbow seemed to dance and shimmer in the nonexistent sky before before it changed right before her eyes. It was still a rainbow, but it almost seemed to take on the shape of a bird. A rainbow bird.


    The rainbow bird began to fly away. As it did Sabrina heard the three roars again. The pokémon almost sounded like they were in pain. The rainbow bird passed over Sabrina’s head as it left, leaving a single feather behind it. Sabrina reached out and grabbed the falling feather, and the very moment that she touched it the rainbow bird disappeared completely from sight.

    The roaring pokémon were devastated about this. Sabrina felt her hair stand on end as a brief static shock went through her right arm before the thunder and its roar seemed to head off in that direction. Sabrina felt water slide down her back as the rain and its mystery pokémon went off behind her to search for the rainbow. Sabrina also felt a quick burning on her left arm before the heat and final source of crying left as well.

    Sabrina held the rainbow feather flat in her hand. She remembered seeing this feather in her last vision, and, more recently, in Blaine’s hat. Sabrina didn’t understand its significance, but she knew that it had to be something special. Possibly having to do with why no matter which way Sabrina turned the feather it always adjusted itself so that it was pointing right towards where the rainbow bird had disappeared. The feather just danced around her hand for a moment before it shot off after the rainbow, almost as though it was magnetically pulled away.

    Once again, Sabrina was left alone in the darkness. No feathers to guide her, no elements to harm her, and no lost pokémon to remind her that she wasn’t the only thing in existence. Sabrina was on her own to conquer the shadows, and that was not something that she wanted to do. She just wanted company, from anything or anybody, she didn’t care what. She just didn’t want to be on her own.

    Suddenly the darkness brightened. It was still unbearably dark, just barely darker than complete blackness, but it was still an improvement. At least Sabrina was able to see a form in front of her. Sabrina approached the form and found that she couldn’t walk anymore, but when she tried to move it was more of a float instead. It was only after Sabrina realized this did she notice that her surroundings felt thick and dense, and the darkness was much more of a dark blue than a black color. Was she underwater?

    Sabrina drifted closer to the figure in front of her, a feeling of dread building up inside. She needed to know just who, or what, this figure was, but somehow she didn’t think she would like what she saw. When Sabrina was just a few feet away the darkness cleared enough for her to make out who was in front of her, and it shook her to her very core.

    It was a child, one that she hadn’t seen in five years, but she recognized him immediately. There was no mistaking that maroon hair. It was Silver.

    Once Sabrina overcame her shock she tried to get closer to the boy, but found that she couldn’t. It was very odd. Sabrina didn’t think twice about it, but when she saw Silver’s expression she felt panic build up inside of her. Silver looked scared for his life. He was reaching desperately for something, but no matter how far he reached, hs couldn’t quite reach what he was aiming for, and this just scared him even more. Sabrina could do nothing but watch as Silver struggled. After a few moments Sabrina noticed something strange happening. Silver’s shoulder length hair gradually became shorter and darker. His face changed slightly. Sabrina didn’t fully know what was going on until his clothes began to change as well. Suddenly she realized that she was no longer looking at Silver, but at Ash.

    Despite it being a different boy, he was still doing the same thing. He still looked scared, he was still reaching for something just out of his reach, and he was still struggling desperately.

    This went on for a moment before Ash became Silver again. He looked even more scared than he did before. He was really pushing himself, but Sabrina could see his eyes gradually become unfocused. If they were truly underwater, he was probably drowning, and he knew it.

    Once again Silver became Ash, and it was so unnerving for Sabrina to see the normally energetic and cheerful boy look so terrified and weak. He was dying.

    The image of Ash lingered for a moment before it quickly shifted back to an image of Silver, and then right back to Ash. Back and forth, back and forth, Silver and Ash, maroon and black. This happened so rapidly that it made Sabrina sick to her stomach. She couldn’t keep track of who was who. At one point she was sure that she was seeing both boys at the same time, even though there was still just a single body there. Whoever she was seeing, they were getting weaker and weaker, until they just couldn’t fight it any more and their eyes closed.

    Sabrina knew that she wouldn’t be able to reach the boys, but she tried anyways. She desperately reached out to them, but as she did so she felt a powerful psychic energy coming up from above them. The psychic power was powerful and strong, and Sabrina couldn’t get away from it. The power quickly became overwhelming, and it scared Sabrina more than she could say. She needed to get away from this dangerous force. She needed to escape the image of Silver or Ash drowning right in front of her. She just needed everything to stop.

    And, suddenly, it did.

    “-brina?” Sabrina?!” She felt a child’s hand on her arm, and Sabrina’s eyes snapped open with a shock. She gasped for breath and sat up so suddenly that she nearly hit Ash, but she barely noticed, and definitely didn’t care. Her breath came out short and fast, and she couldn’t bring herself to calm down.

    “Hey, it’s okay,” Sabrina flinched when Ash took her hand. She instinctively tried to pull away from him, but her held on. “It’s okay. It was just a nightmare.”

    “N-no,” Sabrina drew her legs close to her chest and tried to make herself smaller. “It...it wasn’t…” She didn’t even know what she was trying to say. She couldn’t think clearly.

    Ash frowned in confusion. “Did you have a vision?”

    “I-I don’t…” Sabrina trailed off. She didn’t know what she was thinking. There was only one thing that she could think of clearly, and that was the frightening psychic energy that she had felt. “Too much...there’s too much power.”

    “What?” Ash’s brow furrowed slightly. “What power? I don’t know-ah!” Ash cried out in alarm and jumped back slightly, dropping Sabrina’s hand as he did so. “Your cuffs, they’re sparking!”

    Sabrina heard Ash’s words, but she didn’t really register them. She was only vaguely aware of Ash’s hands tugging at her psychic cuff links. Sabrina only truly understood what was going on when Ash managed to open and pull off one of her cuffs, and it felt like a gate had been opened. Sabrina sighed as it felt like psychic energy rushed from her head down to her fingertips, and then continued out with such force that it was almost visible. Sabrina swore that she could see Ash being pushed back slightly by the sudden power.

    Sabrina immediately understood what had happened, and she felt a rage come over her. She quickly unlatched the other cuff and tore it off as quickly as she could. Sabrina took the cuffs in her hands and, without thinking twice about it, she threw them as far as she could into the ocean in front of her. Sabrina couldn’t normally throw all that far, but her psychic energy pushed the cuffs out so that they fell beyond the coral reef. Sabrina hoped that it would be enough to keep the cuffs from drifting back to shore, because those things deserved to rust at the bottom of the ocean.

    Ash stared in shock at the spot where the cuffs had hit the water. “...I guess you really didn’t like those things,”

    Sabrina let out a slow breath through clenched teeth. Suddenly feeling drained she sat back down on the ground and buried her head in her legs. She could feel Ash sitting next to her. “My father gave those cuffs to me. He thought it would be good for me to restrain my powers.”

    “Why would he want to restrain your powers?” Ash asked. “I thought he was psychic too.” Sabrina was surprised that Ash had remembered.

    “He is,” Sabrina confirmed. “But he has never been as powerful as I am. My powers scared him.”

    “Why were you wearing the cuffs if they blocked your powers?” Ash asked. “That sounds terrible.”

    “As much as I despise my father’s fear of me, he is right about one thing,” Sabrina said reluctantly. “When I get emotional, my powers are harder to control. Traveling with you, I knew that I would be pushing myself more than I’m used to, and I didn’t want to lose control of my powers, so I got into the habit of wearing the cuffs, but now…” Sabrina began to seeth again.

    “Did the cuffs break?” Ash asked. “Is that why they were sparking?”

    “They were probably just overheating because they were being overexerted at the moment,” Sabrina said bitterly. “The cuffs weren’t getting rid of my powers, or even weakening them, they were just holding them back, keeping them at bay. But if something that is gradually moving forward is suddenly stopped in its tracks, it begins to build up instead, like a dam in a river. It stops the flow, but doesn’t get rid of the water. If the water doesn’t have a way out, it will just keep on building up until there’s too much, and then it will burst free and crash through everything in its path.”

    “That doesn’t sound very good.” Ash said, and it was such an understatement that Sabrina couldn’t help but laugh. “But if this buildup happens whenever your powers get blocked, why hasn’t this happened before? You’ve been wearing those things for awhile.”

    Sabrina frowned and lifted her head away from her knees so she could look at her hands. “I usually take them off to sleep. That must have been enough of a break to let out enough psychic energy to keep things from getting out of control. I forgot to take them off last night though, and, of course, this whole business with Mewtwo doesn’t help either.”

    Ash frowned slightly. “Mewtwo? What’s he got to do with anything?”

    Sabrina sighed and brushed her hand through her hair. “In a way, I can feel his power. He has very strong psychic energy.”

    “Wait, how long have you felt his power?” Ash asked, and Sabrina couldn’t tell whether he sounded worried, or concerned. Possibly a little of both.

    “Since before the incident on Cinnabar Island.” Sabrina said. She didn’t know if they were still trying to keep their knowledge about Mewtwo a secret, but she hoped they weren’t. She was tired, somewhat frightened, and just too unfocused to think about what she should be keeping secret.

    “That long?” Ash winced slightly sympathetically. “But Mewtwo’s so strong. Doesn’t so much extra energy hurt?”

    “In a way,” Sabrina said. It was had to explain how psychic energy felt, especially since Sabrina had no idea what it was like to live without these abilities. But, yes, too much energy hurt, that much was for sure. “I am curious though as to why it’s so much worse this morning.”

    “I thought it was because you slept with those cuffs.” Ash tilted his head in slight confusion.

    “That’s most certainly part of it,” Sabrina said. “But it feels like something more than that.” Sabrina just couldn’t shake the lingering feeling of dread. She wasn’t exactly scared or unnerved because of the dream, she had long since recovered from that, but she felt like something was going to happen. She had felt a very similar feeling just before Mewtwo escaped from Cinnabar Island. Either Mewtwo was up to something, or he was much closer to their location than he had ever been before.

    “Ash!” Sabrina and Ash were both startled by Blaine’s panicked cry. They turned to see the man running towards them. “Oh, Sabrina, you’re here too. Good, we have to leave. Right now!”

    Ash looked from Blaine to Sabrina, a clear look of concern in his eyes. “Something’s wrong with Mewtwo.” It wasn’t a question, it was an observation.

    “I’m afraid so,” Blaine said, and he looked about as well as Sabrina felt. Blaine was sweating slightly, and favoring his arm more than he normally did, which was saying something. “He’s angry.”

    If Mewtwo’s psychic energies were as powerful when he was angry as Sabrina’s were when she was, then it was no wonder she was feeling it.

    “Yeah, okay,” Ash said. He stood up and then held out a hand to help Sabrina to her feet. “Will you be okay?”

    “If your plan works, I will be,” Sabrina said. She didn’t actually know what Blaine and Ash were planning to do about Mewtwo, but she knew it had to be something. Blaine was far too smart to just jump into something without having not only a plan, but a couple dozen back up plans as well.

    Neither Sabrina nor Ash mentioned that they were planning on staying on the island for another day. If they had to leave, then they had to leave.

    As they made their way back to the ship Sabrina hung back with Ash while Blaine hurried to make sure that they were ready to leave. “Ash, when you go with Blaine to face Mewtwo, you need to be careful.” Sabrina knew that she and Koga couldn’t go with them. Sabrina would be far too vulnerable to Mewtwo’s abilities, and would be more of a liability than anything. If Koga wasn’t injured, he would probably be helpful, but with his ribs still broken it was just too risky. They didn’t want him to get any more hurt than he already was.

    “I’ll do my best.” Ash promised, which Sabrina was glad for. She wasn’t nearly as connected to Ash as Koga and Blaine were, but the two of them would freak out if anything happened to the boy. Sabrina didn’t want to deal with the aftermath if that happened.

    Sabrina knew that Blaine would do his best to keep Ash safe, but he might be distracted about Mewtwo. That was why she and Koga were planning on lending some of their pokémon to Ash for a little bit. If they were going up against Mewtwo, then Ash might be able to make use of both her and Koga’s Venemoths, as well as Koga’s Golbat.

    Their pokémon might be vulnerable to psychic attacks, but they knew how to take care of themselves, and had experience, and right now that was exactly what Ash and Blaine needed.

    That, and a lot of luck.
  12. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 11:
    Ash frowned as he looked out towards the ocean ahead of them. The skies were incredibly clear, except for straight ahead where there was a secluded storm cloud. That was where they were headed, so that had to be where Mewtwo was, but even if Ash hadn’t already known that he thought he would be able to make an educated guess. There was just a sense of dread coming from over there.

    “Are you doing alright over there, Ash?” Blaine asked. Ash felt a little bad for worrying the scientist, because Blaine didn’t look so well himself. They were so close to Mewtwo, who was probably not doing very good at this point, and it was starting to show.

    “Yeah, I’m fine.” Ash smiled, to try to ease Blaine’s concern. Are we almost there?”

    “We should be getting close now,” Blaine said. He gestured to the ocean under the storm. “Do you see that bit of land over there?”

    “Oh, yeah,” Ash squinted. Now that Blaine had pointed out it, he could see some dark spots in the distance. It didn’t really look like an island though, it was far too small. “What is it?”

    “If I were to take a guess, it’s an atoll,” Blaine said. When Ash looked at him in confusion he explained a little more. “It’s like a cross between a coral reef, and an island. Mewtwo’s probably there resting.”

    “A coral reef?” Ash looked behind them where he could see the S.S. Anne in the distance. “I guess it’s a good thing the others stayed behind, huh?”

    Blaine chuckled in amusement. “Yes, it is.” They had all agreed that Koga and Sabrina would stay in the ship, while Blaine and Ash took one of the lifeboats to get to Mewtwo. They hadn’t taken the coral into account when they had split up, but it worked out pretty well. The S.S. Anne was just far too big of a ship to get through a coral reef easily.

    While Ash really hadn’t wanted to split up, Koga was too hurt to be involved in a battle, and Ash had seen how hurt Sabrina could be when she was overwhelmed with psychic power. This way, they would be safe, and Mewtwo would probably be calmer about their presence if it was just Ash and Blaine.

    Ash knew that this was the best plan, but he still felt really uneasy about it. Last time he had gone against Mewtwo, he hadn’t been there to try to catch him, but Bulbasaur and Charmeleon had still gotten really hurt. Mewtwo wasn’t going to let himself get caught without a fight, and while Ash was always ready for a good battle, he was reluctant to get into an actual fight. Pokémon battles were supposed to be for fun, maybe for pride, not as a means of bullying your way into getting what you want.

    Ash still didn’t know what he was supposed to do when they faced Mewtwo. They had come up with a bit of a plan, but Ash didn’t know how well it would work, or what he would do if things went wrong. The only bit of comfort he had was that he didn’t just have to use his own pokémon, he had four other pokémon loaned to him from trainers that had more experience and power than he did.

    Ash looked down at the five pokéballs in his hands. Four normal pokéballs, and the Master ball. Inside the pokéballs there were two Venomoths, one being Sabrina’s and the other was Koga’s, a Golbat, also loaned to him from Koga, and Lt. Surge’s Electabuzz. Ash had meant to train with Electabuzz a bit before using him, because Lt. Surge had said that electric type pokémon were always tricky to work with, and Electabuzz was particularly stubborn. Ash didn’t know how he would be, but he hoped that he behaved himself, at least for this one battle.

    Ash didn’t entirely understand why he had the Master ball instead of Blaine. Mewtwo was Blaine’s creation, nobody understood the powerful pokémon as much as he did. Blaine hadn’t said as much, but Ash knew that he had a plan for taking on Mewtwo. Was Ash having the Master ball really part of that plan?

    As they neared the atoll Ash felt a strong breeze push at them. This wasn’t a normal gust of wind, this was a warning for them to stay away. The clouds were getting darker, and the seas were getting rougher.

    When Ash could actually make out the atoll in front of them, beyond it being just a dot in the distance, he began to feel truly nervous. To calm himself down, and also to feel ready for trouble, should Mewtwo decide to attack them, Ash let most of the pokémon out of their pokéballs.

    “Stay close, you guys.” Ash let out Pidgeotto, Butterfree, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, as well as Koga and Sabrina’s Golbat and Venomoths. Electabuzz didn’t come out, but mostly just because he was too big for the little boat. As soon as they got to dry land, Electabuzz would be coming out.

    “Be aware of the wind,” Blaine warned as Pidgeotto, Butterfree, and the Venomoths began flying next to them. Golbat seemed to be content to just perch on the little railing of the boat. Squirtle was swimming in the ocean next to them. Pikachu was comfortable on his regular spot on Ash’s shoulder, and Bulbasaur was hanging out on his lap, keeping an eye on the others to make sure they didn’t get seperated.

    After what felt like no time at all, they reached the atoll. The wind was so strong at this point that Ash had no idea how the flying pokémon weren’t being blown away. Ash and Blaine both jumped off of their boat. While Blaine pulled the boat onto the atoll to keep it from drifting off, Ash let out Electabuzz and gathered the rest of the pokémon. He didn’t know how he would manage being responsible for nine pokémon, but he would have to figure it out. He wasn’t going to let anything happen to any of them, not even the pokémon that weren’t actually his.

    Ash didn’t know how he would manage it, but he was going to make sure that all of them would be getting out of this safely. Him, Blaine, all of the pokémon they had brought with him, and Mewtwo too. Things would work out, they just had to.

    “What are you doing here?” Ash felt a shiver go down his spine at the sound of the voice that seemed to echo right in his mind. He turned to see Mewtwo floating in front of them, and he did not look happy.

    “We-we’re here to help you.” Ash said as confidently as he could. It wasn’t much, but it was something. “Do you remember me?”

    Mewtwo eyed him cautiously. “You’re the innocent that was used by that man.”

    Ash felt a shaky smile creep onto his face. Mewtwo remembered him, thought of him as innocent, maybe that would work in their favor.

    “Who is the man with you?” Mewtwo asked suspiciously. Ash glanced quickly at Blaine, who was stiff and looked like he was going to be sick. “Another human that is lying to and using you?”

    “Uh, no, I mean, I don’t think so,” Ash said. He was fairly confident that he could trust Blaine, but he hadn’t forgotten that he had thought the same thing about Giovanni just a short time ago. “He’s my friend. He wants to help you too.”

    Mewtwo’s eyes flashed and Ash felt a wave of psychic energy come over him, pushing him away. “He’s a human. He has an ulterior motive, humans always do.”

    “But...you don’t think I do, do you?” Ash frowned. Mewtwo was so distrustful of Blaine, even though he didn’t know anything about him. Mewtwo seemed far from trusting Ash, but he didn’t seem all that bitter towards him. Why was that? What made Ash so different from Blaine?

    Mewtwo eyed Ash so intensely that he wondered if he was staring into his very soul. “You’re young. You haven’t learned to be cruel.”

    Ash flinched slightly. “You really think that people are that bad?”

    Blaine put a hand on Ash’s shoulder. “It’s not his fault.” Blaine’s voice was quiet, cautious. “Mewtwo’s only experience with human was from Team Rocket, and I can guarantee that he would have known nothing but pain and fear from them.

    Mewtwo’s psychic energy flared again. He was angry, but for one reason or another he hadn’t attacked them yet. Ash didn’t necessarily want to be attacked by Mewtwo, but he did wonder what was going on. “How would you know that? Who are you?”

    Blaine sighed. He took off his lab coat and let it fall on the ground. This was one of the few times where Blaine had left his arm unwrapped, so as soon as his jacket was off they could see how messed up his arm was. If Blaine hadn’t explained to Ash what was wrong with his arm, he never would have been able to guess. Mewtwo on the other hand had no such problem.

    “You,” Mewtwo nearly growled, sounding more furious than Ash had heard before, and that was including when Giovanni had been trying to catch him. Ash’s eyes widened in alarm. He took an instinctive step back. Before he could even think of saying anything to calm Mewtwo, the powerful pokémon suddenly disappeared. An instant later Mewtwo reappeared behind directly in front of Blaine.

    Ash didn’t even stop to think. “Bulbasaur, use vinewhip!” Bulbasaur wasn’t able to move fast enough to stop Mewtwo from hitting Blaine with a psywave, but Bulbasaur managed to wrap his vinewhip around Mewtwo’s arms before he could do any more damage.

    Ash knew that Bulbasaur’s vineship wouldn’t hold for long. They had to get started with their plan. “Venomoths, use leech life, Golbat, use bite.” Even though they weren’t his pokémon, they were quick to obey. The Venomoths flew to either side of Mewtwo and used leech life to drain away some of his energy. Golbat came in from the front and managed to not only bite him, but was also able to get a leech life of his own in.

    They weren’t able to do much more than that. Mewtwo broke away from Bulbasaur’s grip and sent a psywave in their direction. Because the venomoths had been next to him, and Bulbasaur had been behind him, they were able to get away safely. Golbat, being the one right in front of Mewtwo, hadn’t been so lucky. Golbat let out a pained cry as it was knocked back. Golbat likely would have been sent flying into the ocean, but Blaine, having recovered from his own attack, jumped in and caught it.

    Ash was worried about Golbat and Blaine, but he couldn’t focus on them. They had to slow Mewtwo down. That was the plan. “Venomoth, Butterfree, use stun spore. Be careful to not get too close to Mewtwo.” Stun spore should be able to paralyze Mewtwo. Still, Ash wasn’t about to take any chances, “Electabuzz, Pikachu, use thunderbolt.”

    The two electric pokémon charged up their attacks and sent them towards Mewtwo. He was too fast for them though, and the thunderbolts missed. Electabuzz immediately changed the direction of his attack to follow Mewtwo, and Pikachu followed the example. Mewtwo just dodged again. Their attacks weren’t even hitting, let alone working to paralyze Mewtwo. They had to do something new.

    Ash suddenly remembered what Lt. Surge had told him about thunderbolt, how it sent a lot of energy to a single place. All of Ash and Pikachu’s training with Lt. Surge had been to get Pikachu’s attack to be more of a bolt. But if thunderbolt didn’t work, what was the point? Even if it did more damage than a wave of electric energy, it wouldn’t do them any good if it didn’t hit.

    Ash clenched his fists. “Electabuzz, switch to thunder shock. Pikachu, forget everything that Lt. Surge told you. Just fill the air with electricity.” Electabuzz changed attacks. Pikachu continued to use thunderbolt, but it changed his way of attacking to match Electabuzz’s thunder shock. Ash flinched slightly when he felt the electric energy in the air. He could feel his hair stand on end. He was beginning to feel a little paralyzed himself. If this didn’t work on Mewtwo, nothing would.

    Ash frowned slightly when he noticed that the air on his right was noticeably more electric than the air on his left. Ash knew that Electabuzz was stronger than Pikachu, but this was the first time that he was able to actually feel it for himself. He and Pikachu had been working so hard to get stronger, but they still didn’t compare to Electabuzz, not even when Pikachu was using thunderbolt, which was a stronger attack than thunder shock. Would they ever be able to catch up?

    Ash shook his head. This really wasn’t the time to be thinking about that. He had to focus on the battle at hand. Afterwards, they would be able to work on improving themselves.

    Mewtwo dodged Pikachu’s thunderbolt again, but it couldn’t dodge the stun spore and electric energy in the air. Mewtwo flinched ever so slightly. Ash probably wouldn’t have noticed it, except it was exactly what he had been looking for. Mewtwo was paralyzed. It wouldn’t hold him at bay for long, but it would give them the opening that they had waited for.

    “Now, Butterfree!” Ash shouted. They had a very short time frame. Mewtwo wouldn’t be paralyzed for long, so if they were going to slow him down with string shot, it had to be quick.

    Fortunately because of Butterfree’s training with Koga’s venomoth he was able to send out a string shot before Ash had even finished giving him the signal. Mewtwo tried to teleport out of the way, but Butterfree’s string shot held him in place. Just for good measure, Bulbasaur used his vine whip to restrain Mewtwo even more.

    “Please, calm down,” Ash cried out desperately. He slowly approached Mewtwo, even though with every step he took he could feel Mewtwo’s energy pushing him back. Mewtwo didn’t want him there, but Ash needed to reach him, whether he wanted him to or not. “You need help.”

    “I don’t need anything from the likes of you.” Mewtwo sent a psywave in Butterfree’s direction. He probably wanted to get away from the string shot attack. Ash wanted to cry out for Butterfree to move out of the way, but the attack moved too fast and would have hit before he could even get a word out.

    Even if Ash had been able to warn Butterfree, there was no way that he would have been able to dodge in time. Butterfree wasn’t fast enough, but Venomoth was. Koga’s Venomoth dashed towards Butterfree and put himself between him and the attack. Butterfree was still hit with the psywave, but not nearly as much as Venomoth was. The attack hit Venomoth straight on, pushing both of the flying pokémon back.

    Ash caught both Butterfree and Venomoth. “Are you two okay?” Butterfree responded somewhat weakly, but it was enough to let Ash know that he was at least somewhat okay. Venomoth on the other hand didn’t seem as lucky. Venomoth was unconscious, and he seemed to be seriously hurt.

    Mewtwo broke free of Bulbasaur’s vine whip, and he tried to break free from the string shot, but it wasn’t as successful. Butterfree’s string shot lingered on Mewtwo, slowing him down, just like it was supposed to. At least something had gone right.

    Mewtwo was furious, and he moved forward to attack them, but he was stopped in his tracks by a circle of fire. Ash looked behind him towards Blaine, who had his Magmar, Ninetales, and Arcanine at his side.

    “I understand your anger, but there’s no need to lie to the boy.” Blaine said. “You need me, and you know it.”

    “How could you possibly know that?” Mewtwo said darkly. Ash could practically see the psychic energy coming off of Mewtwo in waves. That combined with the fire surrounding him made Mewtwo look pretty scary. Ash had known from the start that Mewtwo would be dangerous, but this was the first time that he felt more scared of Mewtwo than concerned about him. Ash didn’t know what he could say or do at this point, he felt like he couldn’t think clearly. Fortunately for him Blaine took over from here.

    “I know because I can feel it.” Blaine lifted his arm. “I can feel your anger, your pain...and your instability.”

    Mewtwo’s eyes flashed. “What do you mean?” Mewtwo still sounded angry, but it didn’t sound like he was seconds away from attacking them, so Ash supposed that was a step in the right direction.

    “You’re not as stable as you should be,” Blaine said, and he sounded really sorry about it, like he blamed himself. “I don’t know if it’s because I left too soon, and none of the other scientists knew how to make sure you grew as you should, or if you should have spent more time in the stabilizing mixture. Whatever the case, I’m sorry.”

    “I don’t want your apologies,” Mewtwo said, which just confused Ash. If he didn’t want an apology, and he maybe didn’t want to attack them, then what did he want from them? “How do you expect to change this?” Ash hoped that Mewtwo’s question meant that he was considering accepting their help.

    “I’ve been continuing with my research,” Blaine said, “I think I know how I can make you more stable. I created you with my own DNA. I’m a part of you, and you are a part of me. I don’t think we’re doing ourselves any favors by being at odds with each other.”

    “There it is,” Mewtwo was back to sounding like he wanted to attack them, especially Blaine. “You expect me to join you?”

    “H-he just wants to help you.” Ash spoke up. Mewtwo turned his gaze back to him.

    “He wants to help himself,” Mewtwo said. “He says I’m unstable, but he’s suffering from our unexpected connection just as much as I am.” Mewtwo glared at Blaine. “And someone like you would surely take advantage of having me under your control.”

    “I don’t want you under my control,” Blaine said fiercely.

    “Then what do you want from me?” Mewtwo asked. “What did you create me for?”

    Blaine looked stunned at the question. He didn’t seem to have an answer, but Ash found himself speaking up to cut the silence. “Does it matter?”

    Mewtwo and Blaine both looked at Ash in shock. He felt slightly nervous to be put on the spot so suddenly, but his sense of determination overpowered it. “If Blaine had a reason for creating you, why should you let it affect you? Nobody’s saying you have to become who someone else says you should be. Just be who you want to be.”

    Mewtwo was silent for a moment. “...What right do I have to do that? I’m not a regular creature, I’m a clone, created from the DNA of two different beings.”

    “Well, so was I,” Ash pointed out. “I mean, I’m not a clone, but I was ‘created’ because of my parents DNA.”

    “That’s different.” Mewtwo said. Ash started shaking his head before he even finished getting the words out.

    “How? Because you weren’t born in the ‘normal’ way? That doesn’t matter.” Ash felt himself growing bolder the more he spoke. “You have feelings, don’t you? You have a mind of your own, you have dreams, wishes.” Ash smiled. “As far as I can tell, we’re not so different.”

    Ash took a step towards the flames that surrounded Mewtwo. The fire was hot, but he ignored it. “I know you were hurt by Team Rocket. I know you’re mad. I probably would be too. I can’t begin to understand what you’ve been through. You’ve been alone all your life. But you don’t have to be alone anymore.” Ash barely hesitated before he held his arm out to Mewtwo, practically putting it through the flames. He heard Pikachu cry out in alarm, and Blaine’s warning shout. He ignored them, and he ignored the fire burning his arm. He had to reach Mewtwo. “Come with us. Please.”

    Mewtwo was silent for a long, tense moment, and Ash forced himself to keep his hand in the fire throughout it. Finally Mewtwo closed his eyes and seemed to come to a decision. “I can’t.” Mewtwo shot into the air. Ash had half expected this, so he lunged through the fires and jumped. He was able to get a grip on Mewtwo’s tail just before he began to fly off.

    “Ash!” Blaine cried out desperately. “Let go!” Mewtwo had noticed that Ash was holding onto him, and he had stopped flying further out, but he didn’t bring Ash closer to the bit of land that he had left.

    “I can’t,” Ash tightened his grip on Mewtwo’s tail, looking him in the eyes. “I’m not letting you be alone anymore.”

    “Why are you doing this?” Mewtwo asked. He sounded slightly in paid, and very confused. Ash smiled at him.

    “Because I want to be your friend,” Ash said. “This is what I do for my friends.”

    Ash heard a screech. He turned to look behind him and saw Pidgeotto flying up towards them. For a moment Ash was afraid that Pidgeotto would attack Mewtwo, so he was relieved when Pidgeotto gently wrapped his talons around Ash’s arms. Pidgeotto gently pulled Ash away from Mewtwo. It was a little scary that the only thing keeping him from falling in the ocean was the grip of his pokémon. He trusted Pidgeotto, but he was bigger than the bird pokémon was. Pidgeotto was struggling to hold Ash up. They were still in the air, but Ash didn’t know how long it would last.

    Ash reached into his pocket and pulled out the Master ball. He held it out towards Mewtwo, who had turned to face him and Pidgeotto. “Come with us,” Ash pleaded softly. “If you don’t like it, you can leave whenever you want. We both know you’re strong enough. But it couldn’t hurt to try, right?”

    Mewtwo hesitated again, just like he had on the ground. There was something different about it this time though, a different look in his eyes. Mewtwo’s hesitance lasted longer than it had before. Finally he sighed and slowly reached out a hand. Ash stayed completely still. Mewtwo was close enough that he could just touch the Master ball to his hand and catch him, but he didn’t move. Mewtwo had to make this choice himself.

    Finally Mewtwo touched the Master ball. He disappeared in a red glow and went into the Master ball. Ash let out a breath that he hadn’t even realized he was holding. They’d done it. Mewtwo was coming with them. He was safe.

    “Let’s get back to the others, Pidgeotto,” Ash said. He held tightly to the pokéball with both hands. Pidgeotto screeched and slowly began to fly back to the atoll. They had barely begun the short journey when a strong gust of wind hit them. Ash instinctively moved his left hand, his uninjured hand, to cling to Pidgeotto’s talon. Ash thought that his right hand would be enough to hold on to the Master ball. He had overestimated his tolerance for pain.

    Without the adrenalin of the situation, the pain seemed to hit him all at once. It had hurt before, but it was so much worse now. Ash couldn’t even close his hand all the way around the Master ball, he could barely move it at all. Ash did his best to hold the Master ball against his chest, but it slipped from his grip and he couldn’t do anything but watch in horror as the Master ball that Mewtwo was in fell towards the ocean.

    “No!” Ash struggled in his pokémon’s grip. “Let me go!” Pidgeotto let out a low noise of disagreement and tightened its grip. Ash wasn’t going to take no for an answer though. He had to get Mewtwo. Ash pulled at the talon’s holding him until one of them loosened ever so slightly. Ash took advantage of this and struggled even more until finally Pidgeotto’s talons slipped and let go of him.

    Ash briefly heard his pokémon and Blaine cry out towards him before he hit the water. Ash had to bite his lip to keep himself letting out all of his air. He still felt his breath got knocked right out of him, but at least it didn’t really. Ash wouldn’t have to waste time to get some extra air. He could just go after the Master ball before it sunk too far.

    Ash cursed the fact that the Master ball was heavier than pokéballs. If Mewtwo was in a normal pokéball, it would be floating, and Ash could just grab it and swim back to the atoll.

    Ash swam as quickly as he could. He forced his eyes to stay open, even though the salt water made his eyes sting. He had to keep them open to find Mewtwo. He had to get him. Ash just barely kept himself from letting out a sigh of relief when he finally caught sight of the Master ball. Mewtwo was right there. He could do this, he just had to swim a little farther.

    When Ash was nearly at the Master ball he reached for it with all his might, stretching his good hand out as far as it could go, while using his legs and other arm to keep swimming down. He was so close. Just a little more and...got it!

    Ash wrapped his fingers around the Master ball and quickly brought it close to his chest. He had caught Mewtwo, and he wasn’t ever going to let him go again. Ash smiled to himself and closed his eyes. He had saved Mewtwo. Everything was going to be alright now.

    Ash felt something tugging on his arm. Thinking that it was something trying to drag Mewtwo away from him, Ash curled in on himself even more. The tugging stopped for a moment, but then started up again, this time at his hair. Ash grimaced and reluctantly looked to see what was pulling on him so much and his eyes widened when he saw a very familiar Squirtle there, and he looked desperate.

    “Squirt, squirtle!” Ash’s Squirtle grabbed his arm again and made Ash wrap his arms around his neck. Squirtle began trying to swim up. It wasn’t working though. Ash was too big and heavy for Squirtle. Ash knew that if he helped they would be able to manage it no problem, but he couldn’t get his legs to move. He was just so...tired.

    “Squirt!” Ash suddenly opened his eyes at Squirtle’s harsh tone. He hadn’t even realized he had closed them. Once Squirtle had seen that Ash was awake and slightly more awake, he began to try swimming again. They weren’t sinking any lower, but they weren’t rising either. They weren’t going anywhere, and Ash knew that it would continue to be that way unless something changed.

    Ash rested his head against Squirtle’s shell and slowly began to close his eyes again. He heard Squirtle call out to him, but it sounded like it was from far away. He felt bad about disappointing his pokémon, but he couldn’t keep himself awake anymore. He just hoped that Squirtle would take the Master ball up to the surface for him.

    Shortly after Ash had closed his eyes and stopped responding to his pokémon, there was a flash of light so bright that he was aware of it even though his eyes were closed. Along with the light Ash could swear that he could feel Squirtle’s body changing, slowly but surely getting bigger. Ash didn’t know what was going on.

    Eventually the bright light faded. As it did, Ash was vaguely aware of a strange feeling at his arms, like he was moving. Why would that be? Ash forced himself to crack his eyes open, and yes, they were definitely moving, but how? What was different?

    Ash lifted his head from the shell to look at Squirtle, who was focusing on swimming to the surface as fast as he could. Ash knew that this was definitely his pokémon, but there was something different about him. Ash could barely keep his eyes open, let alone focus enough to think of what it could be.

    It felt like it took forever, but finally they broke through to the surface, and Ash immediately began to cough up water that he hadn’t even realized he had accidentally breathed in. Once he no longer had water in his lungs Ash began to gulp for air. He had never realized just how good it felt to do something as simple as breathing.

    Once Ash was comfortable enough with his breathing that he didn’t think the air would be taken from him again, he looked down and laughed slightly in relief when he saw the Master ball still resting in his hands.

    “W-we did it,” Ash slumped across Squirtle’s shell, except, he realized that it wasn’t Squirtle’s shell. “You-you’re a Wartortle?” Ash’s pokémon turned and smiled at him. It was a different face, bigger, and a different shade of blue, but it was still his same pokémon. “You evolved...to save me?”

    “Tortle, wartortle,” Wartortle began to swim back to the atoll. They weren’t too far away from it, but Ash knew that he probably wouldn’t be able to make it on his own. He just held on tight to Wartortle’s shell and Mewtwo’s Master ball.

    “Ash!” He lifted his head to see Blaine swimming towards them. Ash stared in shock for a moment.

    “B-Blaine?” Ash frowned slightly as the scientist swam up to meet them. “What are you doing? I thought you hated water?”

    “I hate the thought of you drowning even more,” Blaine swam up right next to Wartortle. He took one of Ash’s arms and draped it over his shoulders. Ash’s other arm was draped over Wartortle’s shell still. He felt a little nervous that he could no longer hold the Master ball up to his chest. He didn’t know if he trusted the grip of his hand alone. But Blaine and Wartortle were right there. If Ash accidently let go of the Master ball before they got to land, one of them would get it.

    Ash hummed quietly as he just let Blaine and Wartortle take them to the atoll. “What were you thinking?” Blaine asked. “What you did was incredibly reckless.”

    “I had to get Mewtwo,” Ash muttered. Blaine sighed and tightened his grip on Ash.

    “You did amazing, Ash,” Blaine said, “I just wish you would have done it in a safer way.”

    “I’ll try to do better next time,” Ash apologized.

    Blaine laughed quietly. “Please, I would prefer it if there was no next time. I don’t want you to find yourself in any more dangerous situations.”

    Ash laughed right along with him. “I can’t make any promises. Trouble just seems to find me.”

    “Yes, I suppose that’s true,” They finally got back to the atoll. Once they were on land Wartortle let Ash go and ran to greet the other pokémon. Bulbasaur seemed to be surprised about Wartortle’s new evolved state, but everybody else just seemed to be happy for him. Ash watched his pokémon interact with each other in amusement before Blaine took Ash’s injured hand, bringing his attention away from the others.

    “You’re so reckless,” Blaine muttered. You need to be more careful,” Blaine brought Ash to the boat where their bags are. Blaine searched through his bag for a moment before bringing out a small pair of scissors. “Hold still,” Blaine used the scissors to cut off Ash’s glove. Ash didn’t understand the reason why at first, but when Blaine gently began to pull the glove away from his hand he realized why. Ash’s ruined glove was sticking to his skin, probably because of his burn. It hurt so badly, but it would probably hurt even more if they had tried to take off the glove in a normal way.

    After Blaine got the glove off he put the scissors back in the bag and pulled out what looked like a burn heal. He sprayed it on the burn. Ash flinched when he felt the slight sting, but he did his best to hold still.

    “It doesn’t look that bad,” Blaine said. “It may take some time to heal though, so don’t irritate it any further.” Blaine took his lab coat and ripped some off of the bottom. He used this as a makeshift bandage and gently wrapped it around Ash’s hand. “Does it feel okay?”

    “Yeah, it feels loads better now, thanks.” Ash said. He looked down at his unhurt hand, where the Master ball was. He held it out to Blaine, who accepted it.

    “I’m the one who should be thanking you,” Blaine said. “I probably just made matters worse by coming here.”

    “You did what you thought was best for both you and Mewtwo,” Ash reminded Blaine. He didn’t think it would be fair for Blaine to blame himself for the bad things that had happened. When Blaine was done treating Ash’s burn he turned his attention back to the pokémon. “We couldn’t have done any of it without those guys though.”

    “No, we couldn’t have,” Blaine agreed. “I suppose we owe Koga and Sabrina, for lending you their pokémon.”

    “Their pokémon!” Ash’s eyes widened in concern as he suddenly remembered that Koga’s Golbat and Venomoth had been hit by Mewtwo’s attacks. “Are they okay?”

    “They should be fine,” Blaine led Ash to the other pokémon. Golbat was awake, though still clearly hurt. Venomoth was still unconscious, and Butterfree was hovering anxiously nearby. “We should get them back to their trainer though.”

    “Yeah,” Ash agreed. He helped Blaine to get the lifeboat back in the water. Blaine returned his pokémon to their pokéballs, and Ash returned Koga’s and Sabrina’s pokémon too. He kept his own out though. He felt a little shaken, and he felt a little better when his pokémon were all right at his side.

    Blaine manned the lifeboat on his own. Ash had volunteered to help, but Blaine insisted that he couldn’t do much with just one hand, even if he wasn’t still so weak. So Ash quietly sat back and leaned against Blaine. The sea was a lot calmer than it had been earlier. It was rocking the lifeboat gently, almost soothingly. It felt so nice, and Ash was so tired from what had happened. He closed his eyes and let the ocean’s gentle rocking lull him to sleep.
  13. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 12:
    Koga hadn't been eager to let Ash go off on his own to face Mewtwo. Even if Ash meant to calm and possibly even tame Mewtwo, Koga had doubted from the start that Mewtwo would be so easily caught. Koga had never met Mewtwo before, but he had heard enough to have an idea of just how intimidating a force he could be. Sabrina was terrified of the artificial pokémon, and she wasn't easily scared.

    Koga was nervous and worried about Ash. Typically when Koga was worried about something, he tried to ease his concerns by doing something productive with his nervous energy. He couldn't go after Ash and Blaine, he knew he couldn't, so he directed his energy elsewhere.

    "It's okay," Koga said quietly in that tone of voice that he usually reserved for when Janine was sick or hurt. He gently ran his fingers through Sabrina's long hair. She was leaning against him, clinging so tightly to his arms that he was sure that it would cause bruising. It was uncomfortable and slightly painful, but he wasn't going to say anything about it. He was there to offer comfort to Sabrina, and if this was what she needed, this was what he would do.

    The two of them were sitting on the floor in the control room of the ship, and Sabrina didn't seem the least bit interested in moving any time soon. She was muttering nonsense under her breath. Koga couldn't understand a word that she was saying aside from the occasional word or phrase, things like 'anger' and 'pain'. She had always been sensitive to Mewtwo's emotions, but now that they were so close to him, and she was no longer wearing the cuffs that obstructed her powers, the feelings were so much worse.

    Sabrina had been a mess all day. While Koga had manned the ship, and Blaine had instructed him where to go, Ash had stayed at Sabrina's side, offering what little comfort he could. When Ash had went off with Blaine, Koga had taken over the job of keeping Sabrina company.

    Sabrina was upset, but it was manageable. Koga couldn't make her feel better, but he could be there for her. It didn't seem to help all that much, but the way that Sabrina was clinging to him told Koga that he was at least doing something, even if it was just grounding her to reality.

    Koga thought that things were somewhat decent, especially when Sabrina relaxed slightly and let out a breath of relief. For a very brief moment Koga thought that things would look up from there, get better. Sabrina seemed to be nearly completely recovered when all of a sudden she tensed and pulled herself away from Koga's chest, though her grip on his arms only tightened. Her eyes were dazed and distant. She was seeing something that wasn't there, and whatever it was it scared her.

    "Ash," Sabrina said the name quietly, almost breathlessly. "Silver," Sabrina's grip tightened at the name of the boy that had gone missing. "My dream…"

    Koga frowned. "What dream?" Sabrina didn't say anything. She didn't react like she had heard him at all. Koga shook her slightly. "Sabrina, what dream are you talking about?" Had she had a vision? Was Ash in danger? What did Silver have to do with any of this. Koga wanted answers, but Sabrina was too far gone. She wasn't in any state to talk, and Koga didn't know how to calm her down. He thought maybe it was time to call in someone that did.

    Koga stood up, bringing Sabrina to her feet along with him. He slowly guided her to the video phone on the control panel. Koga freed one of his arms from Sabrina's tight grip and turned it on. Koga automatically put in the numbers to call up Team Rocket headquarters. He wanted to talk to Lt. Surge, who had been assigned by Giovanni to another mission. No matter where in the world Lt. Surge was, either he or somebody that he was working with would have a communicator. Headquarters would be able to forward him to Lt. Surge, he was sure of it.

    A few short moments later Lt. Surge's image came onto the screen, and he certainly looked much more relaxed than he had been when he had left. Maybe some time on his own had done some good for him. "What's going on, ninja boy?"

    Koga didn't know how to explain the situation, because he didn't fully understand it himself. So instead of explaining things, Koga pushed Sabrina into a chair, which he dragged in front of the video phone screen. Lt. Surge's grin slipped away when he saw the state that Sabrina was in. "She had a vision, and you're better at dealing with this kind of thing than I am," Koga said.

    Lt. Surge nodded, his eyes softened. "Alright, girl, you wanna talk?" Lt. Surge's tone was much more gentle than it usually was. This wasn't the first time that Koga had heard this caring tone from Lt. Surge, but it always caught him off guard when he heard it.

    "Matis…" Sabrina blinked. Her eyes cleared up slightly. "I need to ask you something."

    Lt. Surge smiled encouragingly. "Sure, hit me with it."

    Koga watched the exchange quietly, not knowing what to expect. He didn't know what was on Sabrina's mind.

    "Matis, did Silver drown?" Sabrina said bluntly. Koga and Lt. Surge looked at her in shock. She had never been one for beating around the bush, but this just seemed tactless, even for her. "And was there a powerful psychic pokémon nearby when it happened?"

    "I-I…" Lt. Surge seemed to have a hard time finding his words, which was concerning in and of itself. He looked cornered, and when this happened Lt. Surge either reacted by attacking, or by taking control of the situation and his emotions. Lt. Surge closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, the fear and shock in them was completely gone.

    "Yeah, that might have happened," Lt. Surge said, and his tone was as guarded as his eyes were. "There was definitely a powerful pokémon there, and it probably caused a storm. The waves nearly tipped the ship, and it kn-knocked Silver overboard. That's the last I saw of him."

    Koga frowned, looking from Sabrina to Lt. Surge. He'd had an idea of what had happened to Silver, but Lt. Surge had never opened up to either of them about this. Koga didn't know whether to be relieved or even more concerned that Lt. Surge was finally willing to talk about it. What had changed?

    Lt. Surge had been blaming himself for what happened to Silver for years now, but from what Koga could tell, that blame was just causing unnecessary pain. Lt. Surge may have been with Silver at the time, but there was nothing that he could have done to save Silver. If the boy had been knocked overboard, it wasn't something that Lt. Surge could have seen coming. He couldn't have prevented it beforehand. And at the moment it happened, Lt. Surge would have surely had his hands full keeping the ship from capsizing. If Lt. Surge had gone after Silver, the boat would have gone under, and they both would have died. Koga understood Lt. Surge's feelings of guilt, but it hurt to know that his friend had spent all this time suffering alone. Koga could have helped him.

    "Koga said you had a vision. What exactly did you see?" Lt. Surge asked. His tone sounded like he was trying so hard to sound casual, but it just made him sound distressed and desperate.

    Sabrina didn't normally sugarcoat things, but even she saw that Lt. Surge wasn't exactly in a very healthy mental state, and she didn't want to make him worse. She sighed, and her eyes cleared up ever so slightly. She was still holding Koga's arm, and it was only because the grip on his arm tightened that he could tell how unstable she herself was feeling.

    "It wasn't exactly a vision," Sabrina said. "It was more like a premonition in a dream. I barely remember it." Sabrina was much more convincing than Lt. Surge was when it came to hiding her emotions. If Koga hadn't seen Sabrina completely breaking down just a few minutes ago, he probably would have believed her. "It probably didn't mean anything. You know that my visions aren't always accurate or even necessary. Sometimes they're just random."

    Lt. Surge frowned, and Koga was relieved to see genuine confusion in his eyes. He wasn't hiding behind a mask anymore. "But even the pointless dreams are sparked by something, aren't they? What caused this one?"

    That was an excellent question, one that Koga hadn't considered before, but now it was the only thing he could think of. Sabrina had mentioned Ash before she had mentioned Silver. If Sabrina had seen Silver drowning in her dream, what had she seen of Ash? Koga knew that the way she had seen Silver may have nothing to do with what she saw of Ash, but considering the boy was currently out there in the middle of the ocean, he didn't have a very good feeling about this. Then there was the fact that the whole reason Ash was out there was so he could find Mewtwo, who was a powerful psychic pokémon, which Sabrina had mentioned when she'd asked about Silver. Koga didn't know what all of this meant, but he didn't feel very good about it.

    Koga wanted to ask Sabrina just what she had seen in her dream, but he kept quiet. She was probably wise to not speak in detail about her dream to Lt. Surge. He was already so upset, barely holding on to his control. Koga didn't want to know how Lt. Surge would react if he heard of just how Silver looked as he was drowning. His reaction would probably be even worse if Sabrina revealed that she had seen something similar happening to Ash.

    Koga was paranoid and concerned about Ash, but he could be patient and wait until he knew for sure that something was wrong. Lt. Surge had never been good at playing the waiting game. Lt. Surge was always likely to do something foolish and rash, but that was especially true if he thought that someone he cared about was in danger.

    Koga didn't know what to do. He was desperate to help Ash, but he didn't know how, or if the boy even needed help. Koga would love to talk with his companions about this, but he hesitated. It seemed like anything he said would make either Sabrina or Lt. Surge mentally breakdown, so he would be brainstorming this on his own, at least for now. Koga tried to think of what he could or should do about this situation when he heard the fluttering of wings. Koga froze and turned towards the door. Something was there.

    Not even a moment later a Venomoth came flying into the control room. Koga relaxed. That wasn't his own Venomoth, he could tell, but it was definitely Sabrina's. The venomoth didn't seem urgent or rushed, which it would be if there was trouble. Venomoth would never have left Ash and Blaine, not when it had been given specific orders to stay with them. If Venomoth was back, then Ash and Blaine were too.

    Sabrina smiled slightly when she saw her Venomoth. She let go of Koga's arm and held her hand out to her Venomoth, who hurried to her side and nuzzled her hand. Sabrina's pokémon weren't normally all that affectionate, but Koga had seem them quick to offer comfort when they could tell that their trainer was distressed.

    With his arm free, Koga stepped away from Sabrina and Lt. Surge. "I'm going to go check up on something. Keep an eye on each other." Neither Sabrina nor Lt. Surge was in a completely stable place of mind. Koga didn't exactly trust either of them on their own, but they could watch each other.

    Koga slipped out of the control room. He closed the door behind him, and once he did he ran towards the railing. Koga had been able to see dark storm clouds in the distance before, but they were gone now. He couldn't care less about the storm clouds though, at the moment his eyes were drawn to the small lifeboat that was approaching the S.S. Anne.

    As the lifeboat came closer Koga could see Blaine manning it. The lifeboat seemed extremely crowded, with all of Ash's pokémon crowded on the boat, as well as Electabuzz. It took some time for Koga to see that Ash was there too. The moment that Koga saw the boy, he felt himself relax. Ash was okay. As the lifeboat came a little closer Koga felt his concern come back all over again. Ash looked like he was unconscious, and his hair looked soaking wet.

    Sabrina's dream, she saw Silver drowning, and Ash…

    Koga leaned over the railing. "You're back?" The lifeboat was right next to the S.S. Anne at this point. Electabuzz stood up and grabbed the ladder that hung down the side of the ship. Blaine grabbed the ladder as well as he cautiously got to his feet. Blaine grabbed Ash and gently lifted him. Koga was worried that Blaine was going to try to climb the ladder while carrying Ash. They would both just end up falling into the ocean.

    Fortunately Blaine passed Ash off to Electabuzz, who had much sturdier upper body strength than Blaine did. Electabuzz would be able to hold onto Ash, and climb up a ladder at once. Especially with the help of Ash's Bulbasaur, who climbed onto Electabuzz's shoulder and used his vine whip to secure Ash to Electabuzz.

    Koga stepped back as Electabuzz climbed up the ladder and over the railing. Electabuzz put Ash down on the deck of the ship before he turned and lifted Blaine up too. The rest of Ash's pokémon were quick to follow, and Koga was surprised to see that Ash's little Squirtle was now a Wartortle. In the short time that they'd been gone, Ash's pokémon had evolved. It must have been an eventful time.

    "How did it go?" Koga asked. "What happened to Ash?"

    "We were able to get Mewtwo," Blaine reached into his lab coat pocket and pulled out the Master Ball. Koga was impressed, but he was more concerned for Ash. "This crazy boy went to great lengths to make it happen." Koga didn't think he wanted to know just what those lengths were. He just wanted to make sure that Ash was okay.

    "We should get him to the infirmary," Koga said. Blaine had already reached down and pulled Ash up over his shoulders.

    "Lead the way," Blaine said. Koga nodded and began to make his way below deck, where the ship's infirmary was. Ash's pokémon followed right behind them, all of them looking anxious and concerned about their trainer. Koga didn't know if any of them were hurt, but he could worry about that later. Ash's well-being took priority at the moment.

    Koga brought them into the infirmary and gestured for Blaine to lay Ash on one of the beds. Now that Koga had something to focus his concerned energy on, he got to work. Koga started on the most obvious injuries first, the scratches on his shoulders. As Koga touched them, he heard Ash's Pidgeotto whine slightly.

    "It's not your fault," Blaine said gently. Koga glanced back to see Blaine kneeling on the ground, stroking Pidgeotto's feathers. "You did your best. You couldn't have known what he would have done," Blaine looked up and caught Koga's eye. "Pidgeotto was flying, holding Ash by his shoulders, and its grip slipped."

    That explained the scratches, as well as Pidgeotto's distress. "He'll be okay," Koga said. "Ash isn't exactly hurt, he's just tired. His injuries are superficial."

    "His burn might not be," Blaine said, and he sounded nearly in pain at the comment. Koga hadn't noticed any burn, but a quick glance at Ash's hand showed that it was wrapped up with ripped bits of Blaine's coat. "I did what I could with the resources that were available, but if that burn isn't treated his hand may be left permanently damaged." Koga hadn't seen the burn himself because of the makeshift bandages, but he took Blaine's word for it. If anybody knew the dangers of a burn, it would be the fire-type pokémon expert.

    The scratches would have to be taken care of, as they were fairly deep, but the burn was definitely the first priority. Koga gently began to unwrap the bandages. When he saw the burn on Ash's hand he quickly understood what Blaine was so concerned about. Koga didn't know as much about burns as he did about poison, but this looked pretty serious.

    "Do you know how to treat this?" Koga asked Blaine. The scientist nodded and took off his lab coat. Blaine also removed his glasses and rolled up his sleeves.

    "Where's the first aid kits?" Blaine asked as he came up behind Koga, who stepped aside.

    "I'll get them," Koga said. The S.S. Anne was far from a hospital, but they'd made sure to make sure that they had a sufficient amount of basic supplies before they left the island to go after Mewtwo. Koga laid out one of the first aid kits and went through it, taking out the things that he knew Blaine wouldn't need or use. Blaine immediately got to work.

    Koga didn't want to sit to the side with nothing to do. He finally had a chance to help Ash, and he wasn't going to waste that. "Were any of the pokémon hurt?"

    Blaine tensed, but his hands were completely still. Even though his emotions seemed to be high strung and easily triggered, he was being completely professional about this. "Not too badly, I think, but your Golbat and Venomoth were both hit by Mewtwo's attacks. Venomoth was knocked out. I'm sorry."

    Koga took a deep breath. "Don't be. I sent my pokémon with Ash to protect him. They're strong, they'll recover." If Golbat and Venomoth had gotten injured, it was because they had been doing their jobs. He wasn't upset about it. "May I see them?" Koga didn't want to crowd around Ash as Blaine worked, but he needed something productive to do.

    "Yes, of course," Blaine reached into his pocket and pulled out two pokéballs, which he handed to Koga. "Ash was holding these as he fell asleep. I picked them up so he wouldn't drop them."

    "Thank you," Koga took his pokéballs and turned to put them on the pokémon healing machine. They would get better soon. As soon as Koga set down his pokéballs Ash's Butterfree flew over and fluttered anxiously near them. Koga remembered seeing his Venomoth and Ash's Butterfree flying cheerfully with each other. They definitely enjoyed each other's company. It seemed like Butterfree was much more fond of Venomoth than he had originally suspected.

    "It's alright," Koga put his hand on Butterfree's head. "Venomoth will be just fine, and he'll be back with you before you know it."

    "You sound more concerned about Ash's pokémon than your own," Blaine commented. Koga looked towards him. Blaine's eyes were focused on Ash, but he was addressing Koga anyways. His tone didn't sound accusing, just curious.

    "I know how strong my pokémon are." Koga said. "Butterfree doesn't. It can be really distressing to see someone you care about in pain." Especially when that care was as deep as what Koga suspected Butterfree felt for Venomoth.

    Blaine glanced briefly at Koga, halting his work on Ash's hand. "Do you often put others pains and discomfort above your own?"

    At first Koga didn't understand what Blaine was talking about. It didn't sound like him at all. Then he remembered how he'd kept his curiosity about Sabrina's dream at bay to protect Lt. Surge from knowledge that would distress him, and the way that he had sat with Sabrina and let her cling tightly to him, despite the physical pain it caused. Then there was what happened between him and Giovanni. Koga had stood up to his boss because the way that Giovanni treated Ash just didn't sit right with him. Koga had expected that Giovanni wouldn't let him get away with questioning him on this particular matter, but he had done it anyways, because he couldn't just sit idly by and let an innocent boy be ruined.

    "I didn't use to," Koga said, and that was true. Back when he'd first started working for Team Rocket, he had probably been the single most unempathetic agent that had ever worked under Giovanni. It was why he had moved up the ranks so quickly, because he was willing to get the job done, no matter what sacrifices had to be made. That all changed after Janine had been born. Suddenly, he couldn't bring himself to hurt a child, or a parent, because whenever he even thought about it all he could imagine was his daughter, and he would never dream of hurting her.

    "What changed?" Blaine asked. He was back to focusing on Ash's burn, but his question didn't sound any less sincere than his previous one did.

    Koga closed his eyes and considered Blaine's question, and what exactly it meant to him. "...Because I began to have an idea of what it would feel like if our situations were reversed."

    A slow, sad smile crept onto Blaine's face. "You and Lt. Surge both seem to make empathy sound like a dangerous weakness."

    Koga scoffed. It was a fair observation. "That's because sometimes it can be." Caring about someone meant making yourself vulnerable to being hurt if anything were to happen to them. It was dangerous. These past few years though, Koga had just come to realize that it was a risk worth taking.

    "I agree that too much empathy can be dangerous," Blaine said quietly. "But that's more because if you put others above yourself too often, you may end up hurting yourself." Blaine looked at Koga again, a kind but strange look in his eyes that was hard to decipher. "You can't take care of anybody if you don't make sure that you're okay in the first place." Koga could tell by Blaine's tone that he was saying this to him specifically. Koga just didn't understand why.

    "What are you saying?" Koga asked.

    Blaine sighed and shook his head. He began to slowly rebandage Ash's burn, with a proper bandage this time. Once Blaine had made sure that the bandage was secure he turned and faced Koga. "What I'm saying is that you need to let your chest heal. You may not have been pushing yourself or making it worse, but that doesn't mean that you've been doing anything to make it better, because you've been so busy focusing on those around you."

    Koga wanted to argue that it wasn't the case at all, but he couldn't. If Ash hadn't gone with Giovanni to Cinnabar Island, Koga would have stayed at his gym until he was fully recovered. Now, Ash was no longer with Giovanni, and they had successfully been able to get to Mewtwo before the rest of Team Rocket could. Ash would be fine without him, but Koga didn't feel right leaving him, or any of them.

    Blaine seemed to recognize the conflict in his eyes, because his gaze softened. "I won't try to tell you what to do. You're a grown adult, and you'll probably do what you want. All I'm asking is that you think about what I've said. Ash wouldn't be very happy if something happened to you because you're not taking the personal time that you need.

    "No, he wouldn't," Koga recognized that much. Ash enjoyed their company and welcomed their help, but he cared too much about them on a personal level to feel okay with any of them putting their own well-being on the back burner because they thought it was necessary. Ash had been supportive about Lt. Surge going off on his own because he'd needed space. Ash had even loaned his own pokémon to Lt. Surge to make it easier.

    Perhaps this was something that he should consider at a later time. Right then though, now that Ash's burn had been taken care of, those scratches on his shoulders needed attention.

    "Why don't you go tell the others that you've returned," Koga said, unintentionally referring to Lt. Surge as much as Sabrina, even though Lt. Surge wasn't there. "We need to figure out where to go from here."

    "Yes, alright," Blaine agreed, though he sounded reluctant. Blaine picked up his lab coat from the floor and draped it over a nearby chair. With one last concerned look, though Koga didn't know if it was directed at him or at Ash, Blaine left the infirmary and closed the door behind him.

    Koga listened as Blaine's footsteps retreated down the hall until they were out of earshot, then he turned his attention to Ash's scratches. They were fairly deep, but not too bad. They should heal easily with little to no scarring, as long as they were treated. Koga got to work, though as he treated the cuts his mind wandered and he found himself thinking about what Blaine had said to him.

    ...Perhaps it was time that he finally take Lt. Surge's advice and write to Bruno.
  14. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 13:
    Blaine winced and rubbed his arm, which had started to feel strange. Like an itch, but beneath the surface of his skin. He could barely remember the last time that his arm had felt completely normal, but this was different than what he was used to. Mewtwo wasn't furious or in pain, but there was certainly something going on. Blaine slipped his hand into his pocket and took out the Master ball.

    "Don't worry, brother, whatever's going on, we'll figure it out together," Blaine said quietly. It felt odd to call Mewtwo 'brother' when they barely knew each other, but it also felt strangely appropriate. He and Mewtwo shared each other's DNA, 'brother' seemed like a pretty good description, even if it wasn't perfect.

    Blaine was relieved to have Mewtwo with him, but he knew he couldn't relax yet. Mewtwo was still unstable, and they had to figure out how to fix it. Blaine didn't want to keep Mewtwo as a captive for the rest of his life. Mewtwo may have been created to be a weapon, but he was much more than that. He had his own free will, and Blaine doubted that Mewtwo would ever willingly choose to belong to someone else. Their current situation was temporary, and they both knew that it couldn't last, but it was a start, and a step in the right direction was better than nothing.

    Blaine didn't know exactly how they should proceed from here. He had an idea of what he may have to do, but he wouldn't know for sure until after he did a thorough examination of Mewtwo's physical state. Blaine wanted to do it sooner rather than later, but he knew that he probably shouldn't do it immediately. Mewtwo wasn't the only one who needed help right now. Koga was injured, Ash was unconscious, and though Blaine hadn't seen Sabrina since returning to the ship, he knew that she had a sensitivity to Mewtwo, so he wouldn't be surprised to find out that she was in a bad place at the moment.

    Blaine trusted Koga to make sure that Ash was okay. The ninja Master may come off as distant, but he was far from cold-hearted, he was just professional. This could be a good thing, but a bad one as well, depending on the circumstances. Blaine was a little worried about Koga, but he couldn't do a lot about that. If Blaine exhausted himself trying to fix everybody else's problems, he would just be doing the exact thing that he was worried that Koga was doing. Blaine knew that Ash wasn't in any immediate danger at the moment, so it was easy to push aside his concern for him enough so that it wasn't on the forefront of his mind.

    Blaine's priority was Mewtwo, and always would be, but against his every instinct he knew that the right thing to do would be to make sure that Sabrina was okay. At the very least he had to make sure that Sabrina was in a stable enough mental state to handle prolonged exposure to Mewtwo. If she couldn't, then Blaine would have to take Mewtwo elsewhere, because he wasn't going to endanger anybody else because of his mistakes. Not Sabrina, and not Ash. Mewtwo was his responsibility, and his alone. Blaine would appreciate any help he could get, but he wasn't going to accept that help at the cost of someone else's safety. Never again.

    Blaine walked towards the control room, which was where he was pretty sure Sabrina was. It was a little strange that, with how big the S.S. Anne was, there were very few rooms that any of them actually spent time in. When Blaine was right outside the control room he hesitated for a moment, just to gather his thoughts and figure out what he wanted to say. He hadn't really spoken to Sabrina one on one before. He hadn't meant to linger for long, but then he heard Sabrina's voice.

    "-Sounds like you've been doing better," Sabrina said, her tone gentle and almost fond. Blaine felt a little bad for thinking it, but he thought that this was one of the few times that he had actually heard her sound normal and human. She was always so distant. Or maybe she was just a little closed off with those that she didn't entirely trust. He was the same way. But it seemed like Sabrina at least had people that she was willing to open up to.

    Blaine wished that he had somebody like that. But he was too much of a loner, and that was his own fault.

    Blaine didn't mean to intrude in Sabrina's personal space, and he fully intended to leave and just talk with her later, but as she continued talking he heard her say just one word that grabbed his attention and refused to let go. "So you've finished your work with Zapdos? Do you know what Giovanni has lined up for you next, or are you ready to come back?"

    Blaine froze before he could even begin to leave. Work for Giovanni? It was clear that Sabrina was talking to a member of Team Rocket, and she was being so familiar with them as well. Blaine could just assume that it was because Sabrina was in cahoots with Team Rocket, if she wasn't an agent herself.

    "What, do you miss me?" Blaine glanced into the room when he heard Lt. Surge's voice. He saw that Sabrina was on a video call with the man, and quickly pulled back before either of them could see him. It made sense that she would be so familiar with Lt. Surge, but did this mean that Lt. Surge was a member of Team Rocket? Blaine had been suspicious of this very thing ever since he laid eyes on the soldier, but he had desperately hoped that he had been wrong. As cautious and distrustful as he was, he didn't actually want all of Ash's so-called friends and companions to actually be associated with Team Rocket. Ash was just a child, he deserved better than this.

    "Honestly though, I don't know what's going on with the boss right now," Lt. Surge continued, confirming Blaine's fear that he was, in fact, a member of Team Rocket. "He doesn't have me actually doing anything, but he's insisting that I stay on hand, just in case."

    "So, what's the problem?" Sabrina asked. Blaine dared to glance back into the control room and he saw her sitting in a chair, resting her elbows against the control panel and looking completely engaged in their conversation. "All of us used to get work like that all the time. It means that Giovanni believes that there's something about to happen that he may want you to deal with for him."

    "Yeah, but you know what? I haven't done a lot of work these past few years, and I haven't been put on stand-by like this since...since…" Lt. Surge trailed off, a distant and almost depressed look in his eyes. Blaine felt a small pang of guilt when he realized that he recognized that look as being the same one that Lt. Surge had had when they had last seen each other. When Blaine had accused him of being unfeeling and incapable of empathy.

    Sabrina sighed and her eyes softened. "You've been thinking about Silver a lot lately. Have things always been this bad?"

    "Well, they've never really been good," Lt. Surge said. "But I'm usually able to push these kind of thoughts to the back of my mind and avoid thinking about it. And before you say something, yes, I know, it's not a healthy coping mechanism, but it's the best I can do, alright?"

    Sabrina, who had been about to say something, seemed to change her mind. "So, what changed?"

    Lt. Surge shrugged and fingered the pendent around his neck. Blaine narrowed his eyes and stared at it. He had never really taken notice of Lt. Surge's necklace before, and he didn't really remember what it looked like, but he knew that he had never actually seen Lt. Surge without it. It seemed like an odd thing for a man like him to carry around with him all the time. Why was it that when Lt. Surge seemed distressed that his first instinct was to cling to that pendent? Blaine wouldn't be surprised if it was something he used to ground himself.

    "Well, uh, I guess Ash did?" Lt. Surge made a strange face. "I mean, the kid himself didn't change, but the way I see him did. He's not just a kid that Giovanni wanted me to help train and maybe protect. That's how it started, but then I really started to spend time with him, and he kinda became more than just a job to me. I-I want to be around him, and I want him to be happy. I'm used to kids being scared of me, but this one looks up to me, and this whole thing just reminds me so much of what happened to Silver, and-"

    "Matis," Sabrina had been perfectly content with letting Lt. Surge ramble, but she seemed to find it necessary to cut in at this point. "I know what you're thinking, and don't you dare even go there. Nothing is going to happen to Ash, and even if it did it wouldn't be your fault...and what happened to Silver wasn't your fault either."

    Blaine knew he shouldn't be listening. This was a private conversation that he had absolutely no part in. He was sure that neither Sabrina nor Lt. Surge would be very eager to open themselves to him. They didn't know him, and he wasn't entirely sure just what he knew of them.

    Lt. Surge ran a hand through his hair and chuckled, though it lacked any sign of humor or joy. "You know, you are Koga are starting to sound like broken records, with how many times you keep saying that."

    "Well, you'd better get used to it," Sabrina said sternly, though not unkindly. "Because we'll continue saying it until it finally gets through that thick head of yours."

    Lt. Surge smiled, though it looked somewhat strained. There was clearly something on his mind, and Sabrina seemed to recognize this too because she stayed silent and waited a moment for Lt. Surge to gather his thoughts a bit. "Hey, Sabrina? You ever wonder just what we're doing?"

    Sabrina frowned, and Blaine found himself mirroring her expression. "What do you mean?"

    "I mean all the stuff we do for Giovanni. Does it ever feel just, I don't know, kinda off to you?" Lt. Surge asked. "Like, you know me, you know how I get a thrill out of catching and taming powerful pokémon. I like that people look at me with nothing but respect in their eyes when I'm here, and they listen to me. I like how others can trust me to get my job done. I like how Giovanni isn't acting all weird around me and is keeping me close because he thinks he might need me. I-I like feeling needed." Lt. Surge's words made it seem like he was perfectly happy working for Team Rocket, but there was just something about his tone that implied that this was far from the whole story.

    "So what's the problem?" Sabrina asked, and there was genuine concern and curiosity in her tone. She wasn't there to convince him to stop complaining about his work, she was there to listen wholeheartedly to whatever he had to say.

    "...The problem is that I still feel like this is the last place that I want to be right now," Lt. Surge said quietly. "I just...I don't want to do this anymore. Do you...do you ever feel like that too?" Lt. Surge's tone made it clear just how desperate he was to have someone who at least had an idea of how he was feeling, someone who could relate and give him advice on how to move forward. Blaine was surprised to realize that he himself related to what Lt. Surge was saying, far more than he was comfortable with.

    Blaine was a scientist. It was the dream of most any scientist he had met to do something meaningful, something that would leave their legacy in the world for the rest of time. Being the lead scientist responsible for creating an artificial pokémon was just about the best legacy that Blaine could have asked for. His work would have been recognized by the world. He would have been seen as one of the most brilliant scientists of all time. People would have recognized him for who he was and what he had done, and he would be more than just a washed-up nearly forgotten gym leader. Blaine's work on Mewtwo should have been his greatest accomplishment, and it was, but he had never been satisfied with it the way that he had hoped he would.

    It could be a great feeling to accomplish a dream that you've worked so hard for. However, it can be a horrible and confusing feeling if when you achieve that dream, you find that at great as it may feel, it's not a dream that you truly want anymore.

    "Sometimes," Sabrina admitted, though Blaine could tell that she hadn't truly felt this way in the same way that he and Lt. Surge had. Everybody doubted their dreams and hard work sometimes, and wondered if it was truly worth it at all. But Blaine didn't think that all that many people experienced this anxiety inducing feeling of confusion, to not even know what it is that you want anymore, even though you already had it.

    "If you're not happy with not doing work, you could talk to Giovanni about it. I'm sure he'll have work for you." Sabrina said. It seemed as though she just thought that Lt. Surge was antsy about not actively working on something. If Blaine correctly understood what Lt. Surge was feeling, doing active work for Team Rocket would just make it worse.

    Lt. Surge grimaced and ran a hand through his hair. "No, I mean I don't know if I want to be doing any of this anymore." Sabrina leaned back slightly, looking alarmed.

    "You...you want to quit?" Sabrina sounded appalled at the mere suggestion. "Because of a child?"

    "It's not just because of Ash," Lt. Surge said, and he just sounded so tired. "I mean, he's part of it, sure, but I'm just not feeling it anymore."

    Sabrina sighed and straightened up in her seat, putting on her usual professional persona. "Giovanni won't just let you leave so easily. You know that, don't you?"

    "Of course," Lt. Surge scoffed and rolled his eyes. "He's too much of a control freak to let anybody walk away without a fight." Blaine had experienced that for himself. Giovanni was the kind of person who believed that if you didn't work for him, then you were either working against him, or were just an obstacle that needed to be eliminated. "But you know me. I'm not just going to roll over and let him walk all over me."

    So Lt. Surge was planning on leaving Team Rocket. It wasn't what Blaine had expected, but somehow he wasn't surprised. A part of him didn't fully believe that Lt. Surge was truly leaving, that this whole thing was just a trick to get him off his guard. Blaine usually listened to his more skeptic side, but he wanted to overcome it this time. He was eavesdropping on their conversation, he had no reason to believe that they knew he was there. A part of Blaine believed that people didn't truly change, but he didn't actually want to believe that. If he actually thought that Lt. Surge couldn't change, then he would have to admit that he couldn't change either, because their circumstances were incredibly similar.

    Blaine would be truly hypocritical if he still insisted on seeing the worst in Lt. Surge.

    "Well, I wish you luck with that," Sabrina said, somehow coming off as both sincere and uninterested. Sabrina stiffened and suddenly stretched her arms out and leaned back in her chair. Blaine had no idea what she was doing. She then leaned back further and tilted her head back so far that she could glance behind her. Before Blaine could even pull back behind the door again, Sabrina caught his gaze. She didn't look surprised, which meant that she had known that he was there the whole time. At first Blaine was confused about how she could have been aware of his presence when he had been careful to not be seen. He then felt the weight of the Master ball in his pocket, and he felt like a fool for not realizing it before.

    Sabrina was sensitive to Mewtwo's powers. She had been able to sense his power even when Mewtwo had been far away. Mewtwo may be in the Master ball now, but Blaine could still feel his emotions through his arm. If Blaine could feel it, then of course Sabrina could too.

    Sabrina straightened and got to her feet. She adjusted her outfit a little bit. "Blaine and Ash have returned. Blaine would like to have a word with you," Blaine hadn't expected to be called out like this. He hadn't intended to talk to talk to Lt. Surge, but now that Sabrina had mentioned it he knew that he couldn't just leave things as they were. Not when Lt. Surge had left when they'd been on such bad terms with each other. Blaine didn't have to become particularly friendly with Lt. Surge, but he felt the need to make amends.

    "Blaine?" Lt. Surge raised an eyebrow. He looked shocked, but not angry or hesitant. Things had calmed down enough between the two of them that they should be able to have a civil conversation. "Uh, yeah, sure, we can talk."

    "You'd better," Sabrina turned and made her way towards the door. Blaine stepped back, giving Sabrina room. She closed the door behind her and gave Blaine a critical look. "Let me be perfectly clear with you. I don't know you, I don't trust you, and I think you're crazy to try to work with Mewtwo. However, you seem to understand Matis in a way that I don't right now. If you can help him figure out what he wants, then I'll tolerate it. If you make him feel worse though, I will reconsider my decision about Mewtwo."

    Blaine frowned. "What decision would that be?" Blaine didn't fully understand Sabrina's threat, but still found himself feeling intimidated.

    Sabrina hummed quietly to herself and just walked away without another word. Blaine didn't know what Sabrina had meant, but he had the feeling that he would in fact regret upsetting her this time. Not that he had any intention of upsetting Lt. Surge further than he already had, but he felt uneasy not knowing for sure what would happen if he accidently did.

    Once Sabrina was gone Blaine stayed outside the room for a moment to gather his thoughts before he went in to speak with Lt. Surge.

    "Hey, old man," Lt. Surge greeted. Blaine's instinct was to feel insulted about the disrespect, but he refrained. Blaine liked his proper titles, but he had known Lt. Surge for long enough to know that, despite the name that he himself went by, he liked to refer to others by endearing nicknames. He constantly called Ash 'kid'. Sabrina was 'girl'. Koga was 'ninja boy'. If Lt. Surge referred to those that he cared about with these kind of names, then Blaine thought that it may be a good sign Lt. Surge to have given him a nickname too. "What's going on with you?"

    Blaine took off his sunglasses and slipped them into his pocket. He liked to have his sunglasses on, because they allowed him to have at least the illusion of privacy. He liked not being an open book at all times, but at this particular moment he thought that some vulnerability would work in his favor.

    "I wanted to apologize," Blaine found himself saying. It wasn't exactly what he'd had in mind, but it felt like what he needed to say, and what Lt. Surge needed to hear. "I rebuked you for pushing Ash to evolve his pokémon, and I now realize that I shouldn't have done that."

    "Wait, really?" Lt. Surge's eyes widened. Whatever he had been expecting, this wasn't it. Lt. Surge narrowed his eyes in slight suspicion. "What changed?"

    Blaine frowned and subconsciously rubbed his arm, even though it wasn't hurting at this particular moment. "I took Ash with me to get Mewtwo, and I now realize that you were right about that too, I should have just kept Ash out of it." Blaine felt a twinge of panic because he was speaking openly about Mewtwo to an individual that he knew for a fact was involved with Team Rocket. He pushed down that panic. If he wanted Lt. Surge to recognize that he understood what he was feeling to some extent, then Blaine knew that he would have to open up to him.

    Lt. Surge's cautious expression slipped into one of pure concern, and almost all of Blaine's doubts about Lt. Surge's sincerity about leaving Team Rocket fell away. If Lt. Surge meant to stay with Team Rocket, then Blaine would have seen a sign of jealousy or a lust for power in his eyes, but all he saw was concern for a child. Lt. Surge cared more about Ash's wellbeing than in getting Mewtwo for Team Rocket's destructive purposes.

    "What happened? Is he okay?" Lt. Surge asked urgently.

    "He'll be just fine," Blaine was quick to reassure him. "A little scratched up and tired, but nothing too serious...But he would have been a lot worse off if it weren't for the fact that his Squirtle evolved into Wartortle." If Squirtle hadn't evolved, Ash likely wouldn't have been able to walk away from the incident at all. Blaine felt ill just thinking about what could have happened.

    Lt. Surge was quiet for a moment. "...Sabrina mentioned something about drowning," Blaine didn't miss the way that Lt. Surge clenched tightly at his pendent. "Is that what…" Blaine nodded. Lt. Surge let out a shaky breath and brought his hands up to his face, though he was still holding onto his necklace with one hand. Lt. Surge clutched at his hair at took in a few deep breaths. He was clearly distressed, and Blaine felt bad for being the one to trigger such a reaction, but something told him that Lt. Surge's anxiety stemmed from more than just a place of concern and worry.

    It took a few moments, but Lt. Surge eventually recovered. "Ash is okay though, right?" The proud man's voice was quieter than Blaine was used to hearing from him. It was strange to hear the massive man sound so small.

    "Yes, Ash is perfectly safe," Blaine said. "Koga is with him now."

    Lt. Surge sighed in relief. "Good...that's good."

    "I blame myself," Blaine said honestly. "Ash shouldn't have been out there at all. I encouraged him to do what he thought was best for his pokémon, but he's just a child, he doesn't truly know what is best for either him or his pokémon." Blaine wasn't speaking to Lt. Surge anymore, but more to himself and the other man just so happened to be listening to him. "If he'd evolved his pokémon, he likely wouldn't have been in danger in the first place." He didn't blame Pidgeotto for not being able to keep a firm enough grip on Ash to keep him from falling into the ocean, but he knew that if Pidgeotto had been a Pidgeot, he would have had no such trouble.

    "I get what you mean," Lt. Surge chuckled, though it sounded somewhat pained. "I don't know how Koga can do this all the time, to be able to watch out for a kid and keep them both safe and happy. Like, if you tell the kid what to do all the time, they'll just be miserable. They'll be happy if you let them make their own decisions, but then their decision might blow up in their face because they don't know any better. What are you supposed to do then?"

    Blaine could tell that Lt. Surge was speaking from experience. Maybe it was the same experience that made him seem empathetically closed off, and why he was so fiercely protective of Ash. Blaine was curious as to what happened, but he didn't dare ask. He didn't need to know the details to guess that this was yet another thing that they surprisingly had in common.

    "You know, Ash misses having you around," Blaine said. "You could always join us again. I can promise that things will be different this time." Blaine wasn't just asking Lt. Surge to travel with them once more. He wanted Lt. Surge to truly join them. Help them to assist Mewtwo and defy Team Rocket. Blaine didn't specify because Lt. Surge shouldn't know that he knew of his involvement with Team Rocket, but he thought that Lt. Surge couldn't know what he meant anyways.

    Lt. Surge smiled weakly. "You know, I may just take you up on that offer. I could use some time off." Blaine knew that Lt. Surge didn't do things by half. If he was going to be rejoining them, it would be for real this time. "I don't know when I'll be able to get away, but I'll definitely let you guys know when that happens."

    "I look forward to it," Blaine said, and he was surprised by just how much he meant it. He truly was looking forward to Lt. Surge's return. He thought it would be good...for all of them.
  15. Gazi

    Gazi Prismatic Knight

    Level 34
    May 27, 2018
    Chapter 14:
    Mewtwo couldn't really remember when his life truly began. He had just been created, and little by little he began to be aware of the world around him. This awareness came and went, and Mewtwo didn't think his memories were arranged chronologically, so he had no idea just when his life technically began. He blamed his confusion on the experimental state he'd been in before he'd escaped.

    Being in that test tube had been terrifying, and even though those were his very first memories Mewtwo wished that he could forget all about it. He had been trapped, unable to move, unable to think properly. He'd been nothing more than an experiment. After escaping Mewtwo had sworn to himself that he would never be back in that state. He wouldn't allow himself to be vulnerable and under someone else's control ever again.

    And yet here he was, in a pokéball that had been created specifically to hold him. And yet somehow he had willingly entered into the pokéball, knowing full well what it might mean. He was not only letting himself be held in a small space, but he was putting himself in the hands of the very individual that had created him to be a weapon in the first place.

    Despite how unappealing and frightening the situation seemed, Mewtwo wasn't afraid. He had made his decision, and though it was still too early to tell what the future would bring, as of this moment he didn't regret his decision. The Innocent, Ash, had asked him to take a chance, and that was what he was doing.

    This was the first pokéball that Mewtwo had ever been in, and it was different from what he had expected. He had thought it would leave him feeling claustrophobic and helpless. He had half expected the Master Ball to cause his mind to become muddled just like the test tube had, but none of that had happened. Mewtwo was aware of himself, of his past, and his thoughts. He didn't even feel crowded or cramped. He just existed.

    Somehow, Mewtwo was perfectly aware of what was going on in the world outside of the pokéball. He could hear Blaine speaking to him, and to the other humans that he was traveling with. It was nice to be aware of what was going on. Mewtwo still would have preferred to be out and about for himself, but he was willing to be patient.

    Mewtwo trusted that Ash wouldn't allow him to be left in the Master Ball for too long. Still, he was surprised when he was let out of the Master Ball a lot sooner than he had expected. He didn't have any way to track the passage of time, but if he had to guess he thought that only a few hours had passed. Certainly not more than a day.

    Mewtwo frowned and looked around in confusion. He didn't know where he was. It was a small room, but Mewtwo didn't feel trapped. There was an open window to the left of him where he could see, hear, and smell the ocean. There was also an open door in front of him, leading into a hallway. The room itself was empty, with Blaine being the only other being there.

    Mewtwo stared at Blaine, half expecting the man to do something, but the man did nothing other than take off his lab coat and sunglasses. Blaine looked perfectly calm, and Mewtwo could sense that he was just as calm as he looked.

    "I hope the Master Ball wasn't too uncomfortable for you," Blaine said. Mewtwo had heard people say similar words to him before, but in the past it had been in a condescending and mocking way. Blaine though, he sounded sincere. Mewtwo still didn't know how he felt about the man, but he didn't think he was an enemy.

    "No, it's fine," Mewtwo said cautiously. He may not believe that Blaine was going to harm him, or even use him, but he didn't know what the man had in mind for him. Mewtwo didn't know what to expect, and he didn't like being in the dark. "What did you bring me out for?" He couldn't imagine that Blaine had let him out of the Master Ball just to give him the chance to stretch his legs.

    "I wanted to see for myself just how stable you are," Blaine said. He bent down and grabbed a notebook from his lab coat pocket. Mewtwo's eyes were drawn to Blaine's arm. It didn't match the rest of his skin, but it didn't look nearly as bad as it had earlier. Mewtwo didn't really understand how their connection to each other worked, but maybe this was something that they could figure out together.

    "How would you do that?" Mewtwo asked, genuinely curious. He had seen plenty of scientists in his life, but he didn't really know how they worked beyond just experiments.

    "To begin with, could you put your feet on the ground and stand rather than float?" Blaine asked. Mewtwo blinked and looked down at the ground. He hadn't even realized that he'd been off the ground. Mewtwo eased up on the powers that were keeping him up until he was standing on solid ground.

    "How does it feel?" Blaine asked as he walked around Mewtwo, a critical but not unfeeling look in his eyes. Mewtwo turned his head to keep Blaine in his sights. "Any pain? Discomfort?"

    "Nothing like that," Mewtwo answered. He felt absolutely nothing just standing there.

    Blaine frowned slightly and stood in front of Mewtwo once again. "Can you take a step towards me?"

    Mewtwo saw no reason why not. He had never walked before, but he felt stable enough standing. He felt like he could do this. Mewtwo confidently, but still cautiously, took a step forward. His legs didn't give out beneath him, but it was a close thing. Mewtwo's legs shook slightly, and after just one step he had to take a moment to find his balance again. Blaine watched with intrigued eyes as Mewtwo moved his tail from side to side in an attempt to find the balance that he'd had.

    Once Mewtwo was sure that he wouldn't fall over just by standing there, he began to bring his other foot forward. While temporarily standing on one foot, Mewtwo was just as balanced as he'd ever been, but the moment that he brought his foot forward and placed it back on the ground his leg crumpled and he found himself falling forward. Mewtwo was about to use his psychic abilities to catch himself when he felt human hands catch him.

    "Are you alright?" Blaine asked as he pulled him up and back to his feet. Blaine looked as confused as Mewtwo felt about why his legs weren't cooperating with him, but he also looked genuinely concerned. "Do your legs hurt?"

    "...No," Mewtwo said slowly. He wasn't uncertain of that, he would definitely know if his legs hurt, but he was caught off guard by the worry in his tone. Mewtwo was also confused by the sincerity he saw in his eyes. He knew that humans were perfectly capable of sincerity and concern, as he recognized such emotions in Ash. He just hadn't really seen a grown human show such concern, let alone for him.

    "Fascinating," Blaine muttered to himself. The man knelt to get a closer look at Mewtwo's legs. "You're perfectly capable of standing, even on just a single foot, but it seems that walking is too much for your body to handle...I wonder why that is." Mewtwo recognized that tone all too well. Blaine was, after all, still a scientist at heart, just like the scientists back at the lab. If Blaine saw a problem in front of him, his first thought would be to try to solve it, and he would enjoy doing so.

    That tone was the same that the scientists had used when they had come across an obstacle in their experiments. Usually that tone meant that Mewtwo wasn't going to enjoy what was going to come next. And yet that look of sincere concern never left Blaine's eyes. Mewtwo didn't understand it at all. Were not all scientists like the ones who had experimented on him?

    "How did you come to work for that man?" Mewtwo asked, speaking of Giovanni. "Were you tricked into helping him?" Mewtwo knew that was what had happened to Ash, which is why he didn't blame the child for his involvement.

    Blaine paused and slowly got to his feet. "Unfortunately, I don't have that excuse. I just let my ambitions cloud my judgement." Blaine sighed and leaned against the wall. "When Giovanni first approached me about creating a pokémon, with all of the funds and equipment that I could ask for, I jumped at the chance. I didn't consider what the repercussions could be, not until after…"

    Blaine trailed off and rubbed his arm. He didn't have to say more for Mewtwo to know what he was talking about. It had to be because of their connection. Blaine had found empathy for Mewtwo's pain, because he suddenly began to experience it for himself. A part of Mewtwo wanted to resent Blaine for only feeling concern for him only after it began to affect him directly. However, just as their connection had made Blaine feel Mewtwo's emotions, He could feel Blaine's sincerity. Neither of them could ignore their connection, even if it might make both of their lives easier.

    "...Why can't I walk?" Mewtwo asked. It was changing the subject rather abruptly, but he didn't want to linger on the subject any longer than was necessary. It was uncomfortable. Blaine seemed to be just as eager to move on as Mewtwo was.

    "I'm not sure," Blaine said. "I have a theory though. You see, human bodies grow slowly, giving their nerves and muscles time to grow along with the rest of the body. Once your cells were stabilized, your body grew so rapidly that your muscles may not have had time to grow nearly as much, so they're not nearly as strong as they should be." Blaine grimaced and shook his head. "You may not want to hear this, but the container you were kept in had fluid that stabilized you. If you had stayed in that fluid for longer, you may have become more stable.

    Mewtwo frowned. Blaine was right, it wasn't what Mewtwo wanted to hear. However, Blaine was his creator. He probably knew better than Mewtwo did how his body worked. "If I was...there again, would my body stabilize?"

    A thoughtful expression came to Blaine's face. "Yes, it might. I wouldn't want to put you back into a lab, never again. However, I might be able to figure something else out, if it weren't for the fact that I don't remember exactly how to make the fluid. I wasn't able to bring all of my notes with me when I left Team Rocket. They're probably back on their computers."

    "Well then, we'll have to figure out how to get them." A voice that Mewtwo had never heard before said from the doorway. Blaine and Mewtwo both turned to face the newcomer.

    "Koga," Blaine greeted him. The scientist looked cautiously back at Mewtwo. "This is…"

    "Mewtwo," Koga crossed his arms, though he didn't seem to be angry, or was trying to be intimidating. He just seemed to be a little cautious, but Mewtwo couldn't fault him for that, considering he felt the same way about the man. "Yes, I've heard a lot about him. He certainly seems much less destructive than I've been lead to believe though."

    Blaine chuckled slightly and rubbed his arm once more. "Well, he's certainly a lot calmer than he's previously been. He still has a lot of power, that wasn't exaggerated."

    "No, I didn't think it was," Koga stepped into the room, though his steps were careful and calculated. Part of that came from his caution, but Mewtwo couldn't help but notice the way that Koga's breath hitched slightly and his arms seemed to tense occasionally. Remembering the way that his own legs had given out beneath him at the simplest of movements, Mewtwo wondered if Koga was also having physical problems that maybe weren't so visible at first glance.

    "After all," Koga looked at Mewtwo curiously, like he was trying to figure him out. "Very few things can scare Sabrina the way that you do."

    Mewtwo blinked. He didn't know who this 'Koga' was, let alone who Sabrina was. Blaine didn't seem concerned about this man, so Mewtwo thought that maybe he wasn't an enemy. Still, Mewtwo didn't like knowing what this man was doing here. Why did Blaine trust him so much with Mewtwo's existence? "Who is Sabrina?"

    Koga's closed off and calculated gaze softened ever so slightly. "She's a friend of mine. Her, ah, abilities made her especially sensitive to your powers."

    "She's psychic," Blaine clarified.

    "A psychic human?" Mewtwo hadn't known that humans were capable of having such abilities. Just how far did this 'Sabrina's' powers go? "I would like to see that."

    Blaine and Koga exchanged glances. Not a word was said between them, but they seemed to be having a conversation through their gazes alone. Blaine's eyes reflected concern and a cautious question, while Koga's were hesitant, but still determined. After a moment the two of them turned back to Mewtwo.

    "So long as the two of you stay calm, I suppose it couldn't hurt," Koga closed his eyes. "If either of your emotions get the better of you though, please don't stay near each other. Your sensitivities will just make both of you feel worse, and then we'll all have a psychic mess on our hands."

    "I'll keep that in mind," Mewtwo said. Now he was even more curious about meeting Sabrina. What did Koga mean about her being sensitive to him?

    "In that case, Sabrina said that she'd be working in the control room. You'll probably find her there." Koga said.

    "Did you want us to be there with you two?" Blaine asked quietly, almost uncertainly. "Or do you think it would be better if you had some privacy?" Koga gave Blaine a strange look. Mewtwo was also confused by the question, though probably not for the same reason that Koga was.

    "You would trust me enough to let me be on my own?" Mewtwo had thought that, at least at first, Blaine wouldn't want to let him out of his sight.

    "I told you that I didn't want to control you," Blaine gave Mewtwo a small smile. "We may be stuck with each other for now, but that doesn't mean that you have to ask my permission. If you want to see Sabrina, and if you want to do it on your own, then that's what you should do."

    Mewtwo found himself returning Blaine's small smile with one of his own. He wasn't used to smiling. It was an unfamiliar feeling, but not an unpleasant one. "Thank you," Mewtwo levitated off the ground and went out the door. As he was leaving he could hear Koga speaking to Blaine, but he didn't stick around long enough to hear what was being said.

    Mewtwo didn't know exactly where the control room was, but now that he knew that Sabrina had psychic powers, he could use his own powers to sense just where she was. In an instant he could feel a strong but unthreatening psychic presence nearby. Mewtwo floated down the narrow hallways of the boat towards where he felt the powers coming from.

    Mewtwo found himself at the doorway to a large room that had all kinds of machinery all over it. There was a Kadabra standing close to the door, and he seemed to be using the move reflect towards the doorway to make a barrier. Kadabra didn't attack Mewtwo when it saw him, but there was a clear warning look in its eyes. Beyond the Kadabra there was an Alakazam standing next to a young woman. This must be Sabrina.

    'Stay out of sight', Mewtwo heard Sabrina's voice in his head. Alakazam's eyes glowed. Sabrina was using Alakazam's abilities to speak to him. Mewtwo didn't know what Sabrina's request meant, but he instinctively obeyed her.

    Sabrina didn't even glance towards Mewtwo. Her focus was on a computer screen in front of her. Mewtwo didn't know exactly what she was looking at, as he couldn't see it for himself, but a moment later he heard a voice coming from the screen, and it was a voice that he knew all-too well. It made him seeth to just think about that man.

    "I hope you have your report ready," Giovanni's voice came over the computer. "I was expecting some news about Mewtwo a long time ago." Mewtwo froze. He knew that Giovanni would be looking for him, but was this girl helping him? Why was Blaine traveling with someone who might be working with Giovanni?

    "We've had a busy past few days," Sabrina said calmly. I do have news about Mewtwo, but it's not very good." Mewtwo frowned slightly, confused. What bad news did she have? She may not have Mewtwo, but he was right there. Why wouldn't she claim that they nearly had him (even though he would never allow himself to be caught by Giovanni or any of his people)?

    "What happened?" Giovanni's tone was angry, which it often seemed to be when things didn't go his way. Mewtwo had seen most men tremble in fear at the man's intimidation, but this girl wasn't the least bit fazed.

    "Blaine caught Mewtwo with the Master Ball, but then it fell into the ocean and sank," Sabrina said. "Ash nearly drowned trying to get it back."

    "What?!" Giovanni raised his voice, though Mewtwo was surprised to hear that he sounded equally furious and concerned. "...Is he okay?" Mewtwo was surprised. His impression had been that Giovanni didn't care about anybody but himself, and yet here he was, showing blatant concern for a child that he had manipulated and used. Mewtwo didn't understand it at all.

    "He's alive," Sabrina said quietly, for the first time her tone wasn't cold and professional. She sounded uncertain, almost shy. "And he'll recover."

    Giovanni let out a quiet sigh. He sounded almost relieved. "And what of Mewtwo? Is there a way to recover the Master Ball?"

    Wait...Giovanni thought that the Master Ball, and Mewtwo, was at the bottom of the ocean. Sabrina hadn't exactly lied to Giovanni, but her words weren't entirely truthful either. She had to know how her words would come off.. Why would she be deceiving Giovanni when it seemed as though she was working for him?

    Sabrina took a deep breath and touched her hand to Alakazam's arm. Mewtwo could feel a quick psychic energy as Alakazam used calm mind. Sabrina instantly visibly relaxed. "I do not think that it would be wise to continue to try to get Mewtwo under your control."

    Giovanni made a sound of frustration, but Sabrina continued before he could really say anything. "Lt. Surge has told me that you had work going on with other legendary pokémon. You could focus more resources on them instead. Forget about Mewtwo, at least for now."

    "...I'm not planning on giving up on anything," Giovanni said sternly. "But we do have other work going on that is in a rather difficult phase right now. Perhaps you're right." Giovanni sighed in barely audible frustration. "Be on the lookout for your reassignment. I'll get back to you shortly. In the meantime, make sure that Blaine doesn't have any new tricks up his sleeve. Whether he has Mewtwo or not, he's still a force to be reckoned with."

    "Understood," Sabrina said. "We'll keep an eye out," She turned off the computer screen, ending her call with Giovanni. Sabrina let out a breath and finally turned towards the doorway to face Mewtwo, who was watching her cautiously. Sabrina nodded at Kadabra, who undid the reflection barrier. Mewtwo felt Kadabra's psychic barriers dim as he stopped actively using them, but he also sensed a surge of psychic energy as Alakazam strengthened the power of his calm mind. Sabrina didn't look like she felt uneasy, but it was evident that she was relying on her pokémon to keep her calm.

    Mewtwo hadn't thought ahead of what he wanted to say to Sabrina, as he had mostly just come to witness the extent of her powers, so he found himself just saying what was on his mind. "You're scared of me." It wasn't a question.

    Sabrina gave him Mewtwo an odd look. "I think someone would be a fool to not fear you."

    "If you're afraid of me, then wouldn't you rather me be captured and controlled?" Mewtwo asked. It wasn't that he wanted to be back under Giovanni's thumb, but he just wanted to understand. What were Sabrina's motivations?

    Sabrina scoffed and she crossed her arms, not defensively but in annoyance. "You're too powerful to truly be controlled, even by Giovanni. You escaped your captors once, you'll do it again, and I don't think you'll be nearly as merciful to your enemies the next time around."

    "So you would rather let me go free?" Mewtwo didn't understand this girl.

    "I would rather you be free if that's what it takes for you to be content and not destroying the world." Sabrina said. "Do what you want with your life, but I want nothing to do with it."

    Mewtwo didn't know how he felt about this girl. Humans seemed to be a lot more complicated than he had thought. Blaine had been doing something bad, but he was sincerely trying to make up for his mistakes. Sabrina was working for the man who wanted to control Giovanni, and she didn't seem to regret this fact, and yet she was still helping Mewtwo, despite the fact that she was terrified of him. Why were humans so conflicting in their motivations and actions? It made it very hard to know whether to trust them or not.

    If this girl didn't want to have anything to do with him, then Mewtwo thought that the least he could do was honor her wishes. He had no emotional connections to her, and he didn't care that she wanted nothing to do with him. He wasn't going to upset her by going against her wishes, not when she could so easily tell Giovanni where he was. Mewtwo didn't like that she was afraid of him, but there wasn't a lot he could do about that. He couldn't control what he himself was afraid of, let alone the fears of someone else.

    "...Mewtwo?" He and Sabrina turned when they heard Ash in the doorway. "You're here!" Ash laughed excitedly as he ran in closer to them. Ash looked like he wanted to embrace Mewtwo, but he stayed a few feet back. "Are you okay? You're not going to leave, are you?"

    "I don't currently have any intention to," Mewtwo said with a small smile. He may not know where to go from here and who he could trust, but Mewtwo knew that Ash was right about one thing. He didn't have to do this alone. Ash wanted to help him, as did Blaine, and even Sabrina had done him a huge favor. Mewtwo was still going to be cautious around humans, because he didn't want to be hurt again, but he wasn't so stubborn that he was unwilling to accept help when it was offered to him.

    Ash looked from Sabrina to Mewtwo, curiosity in his eyes. "What were you guys talking about?"

    "We were making a deal," Sabrina said simply. She caught Mewtwo's eye, really looking into his gaze for the first time. Up to this point Mewtwo had thought that all of the psychic energy he had felt had come from Kadabra and Alakazam, but at that moment when he saw the way that Sabrina's eyes flared purple, he felt power flare out from her. She really did have some extraordinary abilities.

    "Good luck," Sabrina smiled slightly. She returned Kadabra to its pokéball and walked past Mewtwo. Before she left the room she looked back towards him one more time. "I really do mean it," Sabrina really did sound sincere, but even though neither of them had any plans to go somewhere else, Mewtwo had the feeling that she was saying goodbye.

    "Thank you," Mewtwo said to her, and only her, blocking his message from Ash's mind. He knew that Sabrina had heard him, but she didn't acknowledge his words. She just left. Mewtwo still didn't know if she was friend or foe, or something in between. Whatever the case, he was grateful for the help.

    Mewtwo turned his attention away from Sabrina and to the boy in front of him. "Are you injured? Sabrina mentioned that you were hurt."

    "What?" Ash looked down at his hand, which was bandaged and seemed a little stiff. "No, I'm fine, I promise. I'm just glad I was able to reach you." Mewtwo didn't know if Ash was talking about the Master Ball, or how he was able to convince him to join them. Either way, Mewtwo was glad for it too.

    He may not know what he was doing, let alone how he should go about doing it, but maybe doing it with others would help. It was certainly worth a try, and while it may be a risk, it was one that Mewtwo was willing to take.

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