In a different life Ash Ketchum looks upon his world from an unique perspective.


11. 11

Wisps of gray clouds floated across the face of the moon as it crowned one of the small, forest clad mountains that covered the land. In a few days the night sky would be graced with the glory of a full moon. Not that most of the Rocket grunts sneaking through the underbrush of the expansive forests cared.

A bush rustled as Yuu Itou moved through it, dressed in his black Rocket uniform with a giant red R emblazoned on his chest, an emblem that he bore proudly. In his left hand he carried a machete and in his right he carried a hatchet. He was from a small coastal town that had been ravaged by a gyarados attack. As he knelt in the ruins of his home Yuu came to realize the truth. That pokémon were nothing more than monsters, that the only coexistence between man and monster was for man to exploit monster. To exploit them and then exterminate them when they are no longer useful.

And with that realization he joined Team Rocket.

He had been assigned to a unit tasked with locating a hidden group of pokémon, that rumor held, had been abandoned by abusive trainers or had lost their trainers in some fashion. Some rumors even speculated that wounded wild pokémon lived among the group. It was Matthew and his comrades job to capture these pokémon.

As he stepped over a large root, barely visible in the moonlight, he heard the sounds of movement up ahead. Yuu stopped for a second. All of the other Rockets were behind him and there shouldn't have been any other humans in the area. Therefore it was probably a wild pokémon up ahead.

Yuu hefted his axe. If the group that they were seeking did exist Team Rocket couldn't let them know that they were hunting for them. Thus any wild pokémon they encountered had to be eliminated. He was gonna enjoy this. But then again it could be a useful pokémon. He turned the hatchet around so that he could strike with the blunt side. They could just capture this pokémon.

The Rocket Grunt stopped and peered out into the dark forest. Spots of pale moonlight shone down upon trees that were gray in the night, giving them a diseased look. Silence and stillness blanketed the forest as Yuu looked for the source of the noise. He strained both his eyes and ears for any sign of movement.

Nothing. There probably hadn't been anything there in the first place.

Yuu lowered his hatchet and began to move forward again. And then something shot out from the underbrush ahead, too fast for the member of Team Rocket to react properly. He fell backward even as he felt wind brush across his throat. Whatever the attack had been it must have missed.

Dammit, there had been a pokémon out there. And the monster had attacked him. He would make sure that it regretted missing him for the rest of its days.

Before Yuu could get up he felt something warm and wet on his throat. What-?

He tried to take a breath but started to choke instead. Blood, black in the night, ran down his front, covering his uniform and the R he bore so proudly.

More things sped from out of the forest and Yuu Itou knew no more.

Daichi Satou prowled through the dark forest, his crossbow at the ready. He was prepared to kill any non-Rocket that they came across, be it human or pokémon. He didn't care. He didn't care about most things that he did for Team Rocket, so long as they kept paying him. Theft, blackmail, kidnapping, extortion, murder, any criminal activity they offered him money to do, he would do.

In fact the last assignment that he had been on was what led to this current one. He was on a team that was tasked with kidnapping some young pokémon from a prominent breeder. Evidently this current batch was supposed to have some unique and valuable traits that made them very valuable. Especially for Team Rocket. They had planned on abducting the new born pokémon and then giving them to the Team Rocket trainers, who would raise them to be the perfect fighting and killing machines.

But the damn breeder had interfered and they had been forced to kill him first. Deciding to make an example of him, the Rockets had began to desecrate his corpse before they left, leaving only a small number to guard the young pokémon. But they had been interrupted by the arrival of the police. In the ensuing fight they had not only lost several members but a large number of the new born pokémon somehow managed to escape. But later, Rocket intelligence had reported that no humans had taken them in. Further investigation turned up rumors about the hidden village and then this mission was authorized.

They needed to recapture the escaped pokémon as the Team Rocket trainers had been rather upset about losing so many members. They had taken it out on the young pokémon and several had died, costing Team Rocket valuable resources. More of the breeders pokémon were required to ensure a stable pool for battle, breeding, and experimentation.

Daichi peered through the gaps in the trees. Tonight was a quick scouting mission, to ensure that there were no human witnesses in the area and to clear out the wild pokémon when they should be sleeping. So far they hadn't encountered humans, but they had captured a nest of pidgeys. They would make good covert messenger birds since nobody paid attention to them.

He ducked under a low hanging branch and suddenly felt something coil around his neck and squeeze. Gasping for breath, Daichi was yanked off of his feet, grasping at what felt like a vine around his throat. His crossbow fell towards the forest floor, but before it could hit, another vine shot out and grabbed it. Then the vine retracted and the crossbow disappeared into the trees.

Two more vines wrapped around Daichi's head as he struggled. They tightened and squeezed his head painfully until he let out a whimper that both pained and panicked.

There was a twist-

Tamuki Tanaka heard a sharp crack from Daichi's position. The idiot! They were supposed to be maintaining silence. That was the only reason Tamuki didn't shout at him for being an idiot and blowing their cover. Tamuki clutched his short swords tighter as he walked around a large rock.

Tamuki had grown up hearing war stories from his grandfather, who had lost both legs and his left arm in the great wars that had shattered all semblances of central authority all over the world. He had told the little boy all about both the weapons and the pokémon used in that terrible conflict. The stories had convinced Tamuki that pokémon needed to be strictly controlled lest they devastate the world. None of that 'love' or 'believing in your pokémon' nonsense that the League spouted.

The war stories also convinced Tamuki that the world needed to be rebuilt. His country's former glory could be restored and then increased. So he joined Team Rocket to help unite all the people within the nation and led them to glory under a new banner. They would conquer the world under this banner and then move on to the other planets in the solar system, and then finally found an empire that would reach across the stars, and it would be all thanks to him and the other Rockets.

He heard more noise coming from Daichi's position. It seemed like the idiot was coming closer. He'd have to report the idiot for this breach of discipline. Tamuki turned to snarl at the errant Rocket but there was no one there. Daichi was no where in sight.

Then what was making that-

Four long thin dark shapes shot out from the shadow of a nearby tree. Before Tamuki could even register them one wrapped around his torso, pining his arms. Another bound his legs together, and one more wrapped from his chin to the top of his head preventing him from shouting.

I don't like scum like you talking.

The final shape, a vine from the feeling of the others, whipped the swords that Tamuki still clutched from his hands. Something round and hard hit him in the shoulder and stuck there. Tamuki could feel something starting to creep out from the point of impact, shredding his jacket and entangling him in a net of flora.

Heh. Almost forgot to make it the lethal version of Leech Seed.

Pinpricks of pain came into being all over the captured Rocket's body. Things entered him, pushing through skin, and writhing inside the human's body like a plague of parasitic worms. Every beat of his heart became pain as the tendrils pierced into the organ. Breathing became impossible as his lungs were bound and punctured. Blood, black in the night, began drip down the mass of plant life binding Tamuki.

The idealistic member of Team Rocket tried to scream once before he died. But it was impossible. And so he passed away silently in the night.

All this junk food's probably bad for me, Bulbasuar muttered as the Leech Seed vines gave off a very faint red light and he absorbed their energy. Meh. Everyone's got their vices.

"I think little Oddish was worried about you," a woman's voice remarked to Bulbasaur as he entered the cabin.

The plant dinosaur turned to look at the speaker. She was a woman of average height, wearing red overalls and pink shirt. Her hair was short and blue, the same color as her eyes, and it was crowned with a red head band. Her right hand was bare. Her left was covered with a black leather glove which she rarely took off. Her neck was covered by medical tape, but near the top, by her left cheek, one could make out a trace of crinkled red and black flesh.

Her name was Melanie and she ran the hidden pokémon village.

I'll go check up on her, Bulbasaur replied.

"Could you please check up on her? Or did you just offer to do that?"


Melanie giggled. "That's what I get for asking a stupid question."

I'd mock you, but you wouldn't understand me.

"And I imagine that was some sort of sarcastic retort."

Woman you wound me!

Melanie giggled some more. After a moment she took a breath and grew somber.

"Did you run into another group tonight?"

Yes. Bulbasaur nodded as well.

The human woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her blue orbs opened once more.

"Do you know if they were tracking the hatchlings or us?"

Bulbasaur shook his head.

"Did they talk at all?"

The plant-type shook his head again.

The pokémon caretaker steeled herself in preparation for the next question.

"Did you have to kill them?"

There is the slight possibility that I could have let them go, but I chose to play it safe, the bulb carrying saurian stated, while nodding his head.

The pretty human bowed her head and sighed.

Why do you care if Rocket scum lives or dies? After what they did to your team you should be happy to see them get killed off. Arceus, after what they did to you alone, you should be ecstatic to hear that one of them's snuffed it Melanie. Or three of them in this case.

"I wish it hadn't come to this. Bulbasaur, are you alright? They didn't hurt you or anything, did they?"

Didn't even know I was there until it was too late, Bulbasaur replied, shaking his head.

"At least we get that one bit of good fortune," Melanie said wistfully. "I'm so sorry Bulbasuar. I wish that I never needed to ask you to do this for us."

I don't recall you doing a lot of asking lady. Or initiating this whole, 'I'll protect the village' thing. If I recall correctly, I broached the topic and didn't exactly give you a chance to refuse. Psh. Ain't it just like a human to blame themselves for something that ain't their fault.

"Bulbasaur, you know I can't understand that."

We really need to find some way to translate. Wouldn't it be just great if some idiot who understood pokémon waltzed in here?

Ash Ketchum sneezed in his sleep.

Gesundheit, Pikachu said sleeplily.

I think you should go get some rest. I've been telling the wild pokémon here to spread word about our Rocket situation so that other wild pokémon know to avoid us for the duration of this crisis. I've also been showing the abandoned pokémon the escape routes and asked them to take the little ones with them if they have to leave."

I'm not going to let it come to that. Leaving out the fact that I would never let any Rocket bastards or the like near enough to harm you, I'm not going to let those kids go through any more shit. Their breeder gets killed and desecrated in front of them, several of their number get kidnapped, and it was only through an act of providence that the wild pokémon nearby were able to get them to us. I ain't forgiving Team Rocket for that. And I ain't going to let them lose another home.

"Don't forget to check on Oddish," Melanie said.

And don't forget to go to bed yourself.

"I'm just going to double check on the medicine I'm making, then I'll turn in."

It's like you understood me!

"You know I can't make out your words. You just happen to be predictable, that's all."


Big brother! Is that you? A small voice called out from the dark room where the young pokémon slept.

Hush Oddish. You don't want to wake up the others, Bulbasaur gently chided. An oddish wandered out into the light from the open door. Bulbasaur extended a vine and gently rubbed the little plant-type's head. You okay?

You were gone again. I was scared. Oddish sniffled.

I have to go every night. Make sure nobody's sneakin around. You know that.

But what if you don't come back? Why can't big brother just stay here?

Because I'm in charge of keeping this place safe. Don't worry I know the area too well to let them get the drop on me. Tell you what. Tomorrow I'll show you around. You haven't gotten to explore here yet, right?

Cool! Thank you big brother! Oddish ran to the older plant-type and started to nuzzle him. Bulbasaur sighed.

Alright, time for you to go to bed now.

"And I'm saying that this isn't a shortcut," Misty insisted.

"Yes it is! Look here. According to the map," Brock began. The conversation about navigational choices between the former Pewter City gym leader and the member of the Cerulean City gym soon devolved into petty bickering and heated gestures at the map held between them.

I think I should break this up, Ash whispered to Pikachu.

No, it's fine. They're not really fighting yet, the electric mouse replied.

Of course they are. Look at them. The two trainers were shouting and there was a great flailing of limbs.

Not really. They aren't exchanging blows or saying anything really hurtful. Just try and stay out of this one. And convince them to stick to the main roads if possible. I really dislike being lost. If we don't rejoin civilization soon we might- might- might have to go back to gathering food rather than buying it!

What's wrong with gathering food? It saves money that could be used for other supplies, the pokéraised child replied.

But the store food tastes so good!

Well then, we better get back to civilization soon.

Don't try and be clever with me human. Let's just have a little snack.

Nah, I'm good, Ash said as he dug through his pack for a snack for the electric-type. Snacks just make me hungrier.

Then just eat a meal instead of a snack.


Don't you want to enjoy that nice full feeling.

I have no clue what that feels like. The best I feel after a meal is normal.

Wait, what? Why didn't you just eat more.

Do you know how hard it is to feed a growing human? Poison Lance had to teach me how to manage resources such as food early on. And he was worried about malnutrition from not eating enough until I did some research on the subject. I'm not about to waste money or food, they're both too precious.

You need to learn to- oh, they're just about done arguing. Just give me the food and pretend to be a normal 'can't understand pokémon' human again will you?

Ash was forced to sallow his retort out of necessity. Pikachu munched happily on the poké-snack while standing on Ash's shoulder. Brock and Misty were walking over to Ash.

"Hey Aaron, ready to take a break?" Brock asked.

"I don't care," the boy named Ash replied, shrugging.

He and Brock sat down on a nearby large rock overlooking a clearing where a small sparkling clear stream fell from an incline and gathered in a pool below. Misty sat down next to Ash. The two older trainers began to dig through their packs for something to eat. Pikachu, his snack finished, jumped off of Ash's shoulder.

Ash leaned back and observed the fluffy white clouds drifting overhead. Misty and Brock began to make small talk, their tones civil but terse, occasionally exchanging subtle insults. The pokéraised child rolled his eyes. He really didn't understand humans.

Bulbasaur rested for a bit, lying down in a spot of sunlight painted on the forest floor. In front of him Oddish scampered about clearly delight both to be out of the village and to be spending time with her honorary big brother. It also did the older pokémon's heart some good as well to see the young plant-type play. Her joyful squeals and shouts reminded him why he did what he did and that he was successful in his attempts.

Warmth from the fireball sustained by nuclear fusion overhead feel upon Bulbasuar like a mantle. Even though it reminded him of his inability to use Solar Beam, he was still part plant and the sunlight always did wonders for his type. His eyelids grew heavy but he was experienced enough to know to keep them open.

Besides, he wasn't about to go around napping in the day like some sort of old pokémon. He wasn't old, no he wasn't. Alright, so he had passed up a few evolutions and was of an unusual age for a bulbasaur, but certainly there were ivysaurs older than him! By the standards of the charmander evolutionary line he would be an adolescent by their standards.

Big brother! Big brother! I'm thirsty! Oddish called out from atop a tree root several yards away.

There's a pool just south of here. It's got nice clean cool water, Bulbasaur replied.

Okay! Oddish yelled as she started to scurry off to get a drink. Reluctantly Bulbasuar picked himself up in order to follow her.

"Hey a pokémon!" Brock exclaimed. Ash's gaze shot downward to gaze where Brock was pointing. A small oddish was drinking from the pool, seemingly unaware of the trainers nearby.

"I'm going to catch it!" Brock declared.

"No you won't!" Misty exclaimed. "It's by the water and water is my specialty!"

"Then why are you trying to catch a non-water type?" Ash asked.

"Just to balance out my team," Misty replied, shrugging. She reached to grab a pokéball from her bag.

The oddish looked up and caught sight of the trainer taking out a pokéball. Such things had been a rare and unfamiliar sight back with the breeder. Oddish had never seen the devices in great numbers until the night of the Rocket attack. Watching helplessly as her friends and siblings had been sucked up into the contraptions as the buildings burned and the breeder screamed...

Big brother! Help! Oddish cried out, voice cracking with fear.

"Misty wait!" Ash grabbed the red head's arm before she could release her pokémon.

"Aaron too hard!" the water-type specialist shouted in pain from Ash's grip.

"Sorry! Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry," Ash said letting go of her arm. "But we really shouldn't try and catch this pokémon."

"And why not?" Turquoise eyes flashed angrily as the girl glared at Ash.

"Look at it. It's awfully small for an oddish, it's obviously scared, but it's having trouble running away. It's probably a very young pokémon out with its mother," Ash answered.

The other two humans took another look at the pokémon. It was a bit small, but neither of them had much experience with the oddish evolutionary line, so they couldn't tell if it was small for its species. But what they could tell was that it was crying and trembling.

"Huh. Guess you're right," Misty admitted, pokéball still held in her hand. "But where's the-"

She was interrupted by vine whipping out of the forest and whipping the pokéball out of her hand. Misty let out a cry of pain and clutched the wounded hand.

A bulbasaur jumped out of the forest, landing between the humans and the oddish.

Bulbasuar growled as he surveyed the humans before him. He didn't know what they had done, but whatever it was had scared Oddish. Plus they were too close to the village for comfort. He had to drive them away.

Bastards, he growled at them, not caring that there was no way three random humans could understand him. Go away!

The bulb bearing saurian launched a Tackle towards the red haired human, who neatly stepped out of the way. His vines lashed out as he landed, but the female trainer dodged each blow with swift and efficient movements. She had some combat training. Either Rocket or League, Bulbasaur couldn't tell. Not good. And there were two others, a tall dark skinned boy selecting a pokéball from his belt and a shorter black haired boy in a cap standing next to a pikachu and just watching.

Crap. One of their pokémon was already out, he couldn't afford for them to let another out. Using Razor Leaf he forced the two older trainers to abandon their attempts to release their pokémon. Following up on the brief moment of opportunity that his last move gave him Bulbasaur lashed out once more with Vine Whip while leaping back to his previous position between the homo sapiens and Oddish.

Get out of here Oddish, Bulbasaur said to the little plant-type. I'll hold them off for a bit and join you later.

Oddish squeaked something back that was probably acknowledgement of Bulbasaur's orders and dashed off back into the woods. Bulbasaur kept his attention on the humans. The dark skinned boy and the red haired girl both had selected pokéballs by now and were preparing to release their pokémon. But then the youngest human surprised Bulbasaur, putting his hands on his companions arms.

"Stop it you guys," the young human said, "the oddish is gone, and this bulbasaur seems like it was protecting it."

Smart human, Bulbasaur muttered.

Not really, the pikachu said. The black haired human's eye twitched slightly. Bulbasaur found that to be weird. But it wasn't time to dwell on such things. He had a perfect chance to withdraw and he was taking it. The plant-type jumped backwards into the forest and ran after Oddish.

"Aaron," Brock began, "I realize that you're new to this and all, but during a battle situation you should never interfere with your allies like you just did. If it had been more heated we might have struck you."

"But you guys were going to attack it," Ash protested, "and it just wanted to protect its friend-"

"We weren't necessarily going to attack it," the boy from Pewter City explained, "but we needed to have our pokémon out on the field in order to make sure that we could counter any attack it made on us. Next time you're in a combat situation, if you haven't had any training, let the more senior League members handle it. Okay?"

"Alright," Ash replied.

"Brock, do you think we should be preparing for possible lethal combat?" Misty asked the former gym leader. "That bulbasaur seemed pretty strong."

"Nah, we should be fine," Brock answered. "But just to be on the safe side, just make sure your equipment is within easy reach."

"I've been doing that for a while now," Misty muttered in reply.

"It's a good habit to get into," Brock returned. "Alright now we just have to figure out the way to Vermilion city."

Pidgey landed on a branch in the upper boughs of the tree, just above the spearow he was meeting.

Howdy, Spearow said to his smaller friend.

Hey, Pidgey responded.

How's the kid?

She's doing great. I don't know too much about hoothoot biology but Hoothoot assures me that Hoothoot is growing properly. She'll be as big as her mother in a couple years.

That's no saying too much.

Oh shut up.

She might end up bigger than you!

Actually... I've been thinking. It's going to be hard to care for a growing pokémon as I am. I mean dealing with predators, having to gather enough food, and all the human stuff that's been going on, is going to be tough. Maybe too much for a pidgey like myself. So I've been looking for ways to evolve soon.

That should be easier for you than it would be for me, Spearow admitted. You double evolutionary pokémon evolve sooner.

But I haven't really been working on it. I sorta wish now that I traveled with a trainer for a bit-

Then you wouldn't have met Hoothoot and had Hoothoot.

You and your stupid logic. But anyway, I've been talking to some other pidgeys in the area and we're going to be forming a sparing group of sorts. Do you know anybody who would want in on this?

I know a couple. And count me in. I'll be uncle Fearow instead of uncle Spearow in no-

Spearow was interrupted by the poisonous barb that burst through his head, trailing blood and brain fluid as it embedded itself in a different branch. Pidgey gaped, frozen in shock, as the suddenly lifeless corpse of his best friend slumped and then fell out of the tree, hitting the forest floor with a quiet thud.

"Alright, anyone else see any wild pokémon? I don't want to keep recalling and releasing Nidoking here. I might get annoyed and forget to tell him to watch where he's waving his tail," A human voice shouted from down below.

Pidgey quit breathing for an instant, his body going perfectly still, and his eyes scanning the area for any sign of another Poison Sting.

"Nothing? Good," the human's voice was accompanied by a flash of red light. There was no more noise for a short time until the voice spoke up again, closer this time. Obviously these humans knew how to move quietly.

"Alright, you should all know why I called you lot here. Status reports, all of you."

"No change in personal sir! We've explore sectors five and eighteen, nothing there."

"Minor injuries sustained from a trap in sector twelve, sir. Pitfall trap, apparently designed more for delay purposes than infliction damage. I request more personal to comb the surrounding sectors."

"Show me some evidence that it isn't another red herring and I'll think about it," the voice that commanded the nidoking replied.

"Yes sir! Nothing else to report."

"Three men went missing last night in sector sixteen."

"I do believe that makes nine total, the highest number of casualties any of the teams have suffered. Either you are getting close to the objective, or you are incompetent. Describe the manner of that you have your subordinates carry out the operation."

"I had them move in groups of three, spread out but staying within shouting range, to comb the forest for any wild pokémon or signs of the village-"

"Shouting range? I would imagine that such a broad group radius would make visual tracking of allied assets rather difficult no wouldn't it? Something that would be needed if they were individually taken out in perfect silence. As has been the pattern with several other nocturnal incidents. Incidents where the missing Grunts turn up in some pit, or at the bottom of some pool, or beneath the roots of a rather large tree? Given previous events I would be inclined to say that a deployment like that is rather incompetent."

What followed was the sound of flesh hitting flesh, the rustling of cloth, more flesh hitting flesh, a sickening crack, a muffled scream, more cracks, and then a percussion ensemble of flesh hitting flesh.

"Now that Team C has lost their leader," the human in charge said, sounding a little out of breath, "you can have some additional personal. But I also expect you to take over their responsibilities as well. Am I clear on this?"

"Yes sir!"

"Good. Finally, Combat Team? Your preparations?"

"They are complete sir. Or at least as complete as they can be while working with nothing but Grunts."

"Our resources are scarce. You know that. The only reason for our continued existence is the mole we have in the upper ranks of the League, not manpower or training. But I digress. We need to identify what the thing that has been harassing us is."

"Possibly a gym leader?"

"No, current intelligence indicates that all the gym leaders who could be responsible for the problems that we've been having are still in their home cities. In fact the only leader who has departed is Brock of Pewter City, and I doubt that a leader who uses an onix would be so subtle. Besides the League does not seem to know about the village."

"A member of the Elite Four perhaps?"

"Does the land look like it's become a glacier, a haunted wasteland, or been ravaged by dragons? The only one who would possibly bother with subtle is Bruno and even he would leave signs of his presence. Even if our intelligence on the Elite Four is nowhere near our intelligence on gym matters, we can at least tell where they've been."

"Possibly a contingent of Pokémon Rangers?"

"Possible, definitely a possibility we should consider. Combat Team, have your examinations of the bodies indicated anything regarding this possibility?"

"No sir. We lack the proper facilities to preform a proper autopsy and it is hard to identify the injuries with the bodies in the state that they are. But from what we are able to tell, they lack variance. It's like its the work of a single individual."

"Wait, you mean like the Wandering Ranger?"

Pidgey could smell the fear from the humans down below after that question.

"N-n-n-o-oooo, hiding the bodies doesn't exactly fit his M.O.," the voice that responded to Combat Team said.

"Besides if it were him, he'd have probably killed you as an ironic answer," the man in charge stated with only the smallest trace of fear in his voice. "I think we can discount him as a possibility. Can anyone think of anything else?"

"Perhaps a local pokémon..."

"Are you suggesting that one of those monsters is capable of this?"

"A pokémon which was well trained?"

"Only if directed by a human. Maybe whomever's in charge of the village has a former gym pokémon..."

Pidgey had regained his breath and the humans seemed to be engrossed in their own conversation. He needed to get far away from these humans and warn Hoothoot and get his family to the village so he could warn them as well.

Praying that one of Arceus's thousand hands would shelter him Pidgey took off, flapping his wings with all of his might, covering the area behind him with a quick Gust to deflect any poison stings.

The humans shouted something but Pidgey was too gaining too much distance to hear them.

"Who made this bridge?" Ash asked his companions as they stood before a rope bridge.

"What do you mean?" Brock asked.

"There aren't any trails here," Misty interjected. "And no sign of civilization. So why is there a rope bridge out here?"

"That's a good point actually," Brock admitted. "And I have no clue. But it sure is convenient."

"I don't trust it," Misty declared, folding her arms. "Can't we just find some place to swim across?"

Ash and Brock looked down at the river below. Their overactive imaginations made it seem like the rapid, rushing, relentless river below as beckoning them. They glanced back at Misty.

"What? It's not that bad," the water-type specialist replied.

"I'd rather find some place the canyon narrows a bit, climb down, jump across, and then climb back up," Brock suggested.

Ash and Misty looked down at the canyon walls. Their overactive imaginations made is seem like the rugged, jagged, and brutal looking rock walls of the canyon were hungry. They glanced back at Brock.

"What? It's only a little climb," the rock-type specialist asked.

Take the bridge idiot, Pikachu said. Take the bridge before those two maniacs get you killed.

"I'm going to use the bridge," Ash told his companions.

"Oh fine," the red haired trainer replied, pouting a little.

"As long as it here," Brock said starting to walk across the suspended wooden boards.

The bridge creaked ominously, but it didn't snap and fling Brock into the waters below. Taking that as a good sign, the trio started to cross the bridge.

Naturally they were about half way when one of the ropes snapped and flipped the bridge on its side. Pikachu grabbed onto Ash's shoulder as the human grabbed the new top edge of the bridge.

"Shit!" Brock twisted his body to survive the upcoming landing and hit the water with a large splash. His head poke above the water as the river swept him away.

"Brock!" Ash cried out as the boy from Pewter City vanished from view. Ash looked to both sides, desperately looking for Misty. He didn't see her.

"Misty!" The boy shouted desperately. There was no sign of-

"You really can't tell?" The voice of the Cerulean City gym member sounded out from below him. The pokéraised child looked down to see Misty clutching his legs, holding on for dear life.

"Oh, phew," the leaden weight of panic vanishing from Ash's chest making him feel light. "You really need to gain some weight. This can't be healthy."

"What is with you and your obsession with the nutritional well-being of others? You were worried that the condition of the fur on that one clefairy indicated that it wasn't getting the proper vitamins, and then-"

"It's a bad habit of mine," Ash admitted as he started to edge towards the opposite wall of the canyon.

Due to the fact that Poison Lance passed his worry wart tendencies on to you.

"Whatever you just said Pikachu," Misty began, "I probably agree with you."

Ha, she thinks I'm insulting you.

"Exactly," Misty responded.

"We need to head downstream to look for Brock," Misty said as soon as the two humans had regained their breath after making it to the other side.

"How long till he's dead?" Ash asked, picking himself up. Misty shot a glare at him.

"He's a gym leader," Misty replied. "He had to go through worse during the survival test. He'll be fine. Now let's get going."

They headed down the canyon keeping an eye on the river for Brock. When the difference in elevation between the canyon walls and the river started to decrease as they went downhill, they started to look for any sign of Brock leaving the river.

It was unfortunate that their attention was peeled for all the wrong things to detect the trap under the tree branch that they were walking under. A net sprung up around them and yanked them up in the air, leaving them dangling from a tree branch.

"Okay," Misty deadpanned. "There's a net trap in the middle of nowhere. And a bridge that I'm almost sure was also a trap. Somebody's got too much time on their hands."

"We have to get out!" Ash began to panic. "If we don't get out then there'll be nobody to help Brock. And if nobody helps Brock, the river will push him into the ocean. And then a bunch of mean pirates will kidnap him and do pirate things to him and make him clean the decks and then they'll make him walk the plank and then sharpedos will eat him. Misty we've got to get out of here!" He finished clutching her tight. Misty's face turned bright red.

"Course. Let me go, I can get us out of here in a jiffy." Misty reached down the side of her shorts and pulled out what looked like a cross between brass knuckles and a knife.

"What's that?"

"Trench knife. I shoulda had it ready during the whole spearow thing, but I wasn't expecting any trouble around Pallet Town. Hang on to the net, it's dangerous to fall when there's a knife out." She began to cut the lower part of the net open, bit by bit, while Ash grabbed the other side. Misty made sure to grab onto her side of the net before cutting the final few strands.

Aaron/Ash yelped as the bottom of the net fell away and he was left hanging from one side. Misty put her knife away and dropped down, landing in a crouch. She glanced around, looking to see if the one who had made the trap had been alerted by her and Aaron springing it.

Just let go you pansy, Pikachu told Ash. The electric rodent jumped down and landed right next to Misty and looked up expectantly. Ash rolled his eyes and followed suit. The landing caused a stinging pain in his feet but he remembered to try and roll to reduce the damage. Pikachu jumped back on his shoulder and then the two trainers stood up and brushed themselves off.

"Aaron, Misty, there you guys are," a familiar voiced called out. Heads turned and the duo say the missing member of their trio. Brock, looking none the worse for the wear, was rushing over to them.

"Brock!" Ash cried out, glad to see his companion once more.

I knew the fall wouldn't kill you.

"How was the water?"

Brock glared at her.

"Where'd you go?" Ash asked.

"Funny story that."

Big brother can we do this again sometime? I still had fun, even if there were those scary humans there. Oddish said to Bulbasaur as they relaxed by the river of the hidden village.

The village was really a village in name only. There were three buildings, four if you counted the shack that covered the entrance to the power generator room underground. There was the cabin where Melanie and the younger pokémon slept, food was prepared, and other domestic activities. There was the medical building, where Melaine made the medicine and kept the injured pokémon for treatment, and then there was the equipment and storage building.

A creek flowed through the village, cutting the clearing that it was built in into halves, and providing water for the small pools on either side. Water pokémon lived in them and some of the other pokémon played in them.

Sure, Bulbasuar replied, yawning. It was the perfect time for a nice nap, to get some of the sleep he wasn't getting during the nights when he was busy killing Rocket Grunts.

Yay! Thank you big brother! Oddish squealed while nuzzling Bulbasaur.

Bulbasaur mumbled something as he shifted position, trying to get comfortable.

Oh, Melaine's back! Oddish said, before hurrying off to greet the human caretaker of the village.

Bulbasaur sleepily glanced up. Oddish squeaked in fright. Melaine had company, the three humans they had encountered earlier.

Ah hell no.

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