Symbiosis

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

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7917071/1/Symbiosis

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13. 13

What was he doing?

Ash Ketchum was fleeing to the nearest pokémon center and away from the battle that was going to start behind him. Just as Brock had ordered.

But it wasn't right.

There were people and pokémon back there that needed his help. So what if it was dangerous? Life was dangerous. Living practically guaranteed that you were going to die eventually.

But... what could he do? The human boy slammed his fist into a tree. What could he do to help in a bloody conflict?

What could he do?

Misty sat on the ground, digging around in her backpack for her compression units. Built using the same principles that pokéballs used, compression units stored moderate quantities of matter in capsules. It was a must have for anybody on a long term trip.

Come to think of it, she hadn't seen Aaron use any of these...

How did he fit all his stuff in his backpack? Was he some sort of master folder?

She located the capsule she was looking for and placed it on the ground next to her along with several others she had dug out.

Misty took a breath and then opened one at random. With a flash of light a black, thin, long sleeved chainmail mesh shirt, made from the lightest and most durable alloys known to modern man, materialized on the ground. It would protect her from slashes and thanks to micro-link construction it would help defend against most stabbing attacks as well.

The armor was hideously expensive but her sister insisted that she had gear that was on the cutting edge of science and of the highest quality. Technically this sort of thing was favoritism, none of the other Cerulean trainers got anything like this, but no one had ever wanted to complain. Or to quit sending the Sensational Sister articles about the latest body armors, making sure Misty always packed protective equipment, secretly following her, volunteering to handle the more dangerous gym tasks that she would have been assigned, or constantly checking her temperature to make sure she was alright.

Sometimes it sucked growing up as a gym brat.

But tonight, with the battle looming in the future, she couldn't complain.

Her mail shirt didn't jingle as she slipped it on, the rings were too small. Even with this armor she couldn't get overconfident. It would prevent slashing damage but it would do jack and shit against kinetic energy. Blows from swords and axes could still break bones, cause internal damage, and knock her about.

That was okay. Her hand to hand training had placed an emphasis dodging and flowing around attacks. Stereotypical for a water-type gym, true, but it worked.

Misty opened up more capsules, revealing more armor. Chainmail leggings, gloves, a black helmet (that looked hideous on her, but sometimes one had to sacrifice beauty for not having one's brains splattered all over), and finally a lightweight bulletproof vest. The vest wouldn't stop heavy caliber fire or automatic weapons, but guns and bullets were extremely scarce after the war. Guns were rarely used these days and most of them were loaded with home forged bullets. The vest would easily protect her against those.

She finished putting on all of her armor as the sky lost the last traces of orange and became a study of all the shades between grey blue and black. Shadows, cast by trees and the village buildings, all began to merge as twilight died. The air gained the slightest chilling touch as Misty stood up and gave her gear one final check.

Then she picked up her trench knives.

Trench knives came in many different designs. Misty's had slightly exaggerated brass knuckles and a curved blade. Hers were designed so that she could easily switch from beating her opponents up to cutting them down. The draw back was that her knives lacked the stabbing power of other knife designs.

She had chosen these weapons because they fit well with her style. Plus she could easily switch between fatal and non-fatal attacks with her set of trench knives. It was the same reason Daisy used nunchucks.

Misty's knives had never been stained with any being's life blood before. All the battles she had participated in so far were either battles between League trainers or in gym raids against small groups of weak criminals where the goal was to capture them for arrest and interrogation.

"You going to be okay?" Brock's voice spoke out from the doorway to the cabin. Misty turned to look at him.

As expected of a gym that specialized in rock-type pokémon, Brock was wearing heavier armor. He was clad in a rather heavy looking body suit that was covered in metal plates that wrapped around his body. Misty was willing to bet that under the plates there were layers of kevlar, ceramic strike plates, more plate metal, and padding. And he had probably trained his body so that he was able to take hits without complaint. Unless one had heavy weaponry handy it would be hard to take him down. It would probably be easiest to have a pokémon do it, but he'd be covered by his own highly trained pokémon.

He carried a large and rather wicked looking spiked mace. Misty thought that it looked far to heavy for Brock to handle it in as casual manner as he did.

"You going to be okay?" Repeated the former gym leader. "As a junior member of your gym, I can't imagine you would have experienced any fights like the one coming up."

"I'll be fine," Misty replied. "Or, at least I hope I will."

"You've gone through the psych stuff, right?"

"Yeah. I've been given the psychological counseling from the League as part of the certification process for becoming a gym trainer."

"Alright. Have you killed before?" Brock asked the red head bluntly.

"No," Misty replied, taking a deep breath. "But I've got the training to."

"Misty," the boy from Pewter City put his hand on her shoulder. "Can you do this? If you can't, that's okay. I'll just make a new plan-"

"I won't fall apart on you," Misty reassured the former gym leader. "At least not until after the battle. And you don't have the resources to make a new plan that could work. I've got the hand to hand training, I've trained my pokémon to do both lethal and non lethal versions of their attacks, and I'm sure not going to die because I start blubbering in the middle of a fight. I'll save it til after the fight."

"Alright. Then the only other thing I have to say is, don't die on me. I don't want to explain to Aaron how I ruined his handiwork."

"Don't want him getting pissed that you ruined his save?" Misty teased. "Oh, right. I'll have to try and pull myself together before we see him again," she continued in a more somber tone. "And we'll have to clean the blood off."

"That seems like a good idea," Brock responded. "He didn't blink at all when I talked about the danger that he would be in, but when I mentioned the idea of him killing, he went kind of weird. Just rejected the whole idea."

"He's a kid," Misty commented, toying with her knives.

"You're what, one or two years older than him?" Brock retorted, smirking.

"Depends on his birthday. But I'm a gym brat. I grew up with this sort of thing. He didn't."

"I know what you're thinking," Brock said. "We should probably try to keep as much of this sort of incident from him. Preserve his innocence. And you're right. That's what the League is for. To keep people like him and the citizens of Cerulean City safe. And to eliminate this sort of thing."

"Too bad we weren't there for Melanie," Misty said wistfully.

"We can't be everywhere," sighed the dark skinned boy. "But I really wish I could do something about that..."

"Travel back in time, beat up the bad guys, save her and her team, sweep her off her feet and ride off into the sunset?" Misty teased, a mischievous smile lighting up her face.

"You..." Brock growled, starting to blush.

"End up on a cliff by the sea, hold her close, gaze into her eyes, and then seal the deal with a kiss," Misty continued. "Maybe get married- Owwccch," she complained as Brock pinched and pulled her cheek.

"Be quiet," the blushing boy commanded. They sat in silence for a moment.

"Anyway, riding off into the sunset is the Wandering Ranger's thing," Brock commented, sheepishly.

"Yeah, but he wouldn't beat up the bad guys," Misty replied, snickering. "He'd just let them know he's there and they'd give up."

"Or he'd kill them all before they knew he was there," Brock said, "he doesn't really have a middle ground, does he?"

"Wish he was here. That would solve all of our problems."

"We wouldn't have any problems. He'd of killed them all by now."

"As long as we're wishing for the impossible, I'd like the Elite Four here as well."

"The Elite Four, all gathered together in a place that's not Indigo Plateau? Yeah, that'd solve our Rocket problem, but then we'd have to deal with the ghost problem, ice problem, and dragon problem."

"Oh, that's mostly exaggeration. They only wreck the landscape if they have to go all out. They know how to hold back."

"Heh. Poor Bruno. Nobody worries about him wrecking the landscape."

"And that's why he's the most dangerous of them all. He's harder to spot. But it doesn't matter," Misty finished with a sigh. "They're not here."

"You're right. We are. And we're going to kick Team Rocket's ass's so hard that they'll wish it had been the Elite Four here," Brock declared.

"Suuurreee..."

"Oh ye of little faith."

Melanie took a deep breath as she took out her old archery gear, kneeling by a chest in a dark room only illuminated by the light from the hallway. The chest pad, the arm pad, the bow itself, and the arrows. Her arrows were fletched so that the arrow was fired with the arrowhead parallel to the ground, to better fit between human ribs. She used a longbow, even though a recurve or any sort of more compact bow would have been more sensible. But her father had taught her how to use this bow.

She idly wondered how he was doing.

It had been a long time since she had used the bow. She had refrained from hunting during the days before she had started the village, when she had been aimlessly wandering the forest, a walking shell of a being consumed by grief. She had paid no mind to the hunger consuming her. She had paid no mind to anything until she had come across a wounded pokémon.

Melanie had treated it and then collapsed. The pokémon had watched over her while she was out and gathered some food for her. When she awoke, it was to the pokémon's worried gaze and a pile of edible plants.

Not long after that Melanie founded the village.

"Bulbasaur?" A gruff voice broke the silence and she turned to look at the plant-type standing in the doorway. His head was tilted and he looked on her with an expression of confusion and sorrow.

"What is it? Do you think Brock's plan won't work?"

A shake of the head.

"Are you worried that some Rockets will get to the hatchlings?"

Another shake.

"Are you worried that Brock, Misty, or their pokémon will be hurt? Well, their pokémon, I get that you don't really like them yet."

Once more Bulbasaur shook his head.

"Are you worried that I'll be hurt? I've got the safest position out of all of us. I should be fine, especially with you and Misty out there protecting us."

She didn't bother asking if he was worried that he would get hurt. She already knew that he didn't care what happened to him if he could protect everyone. It was both inspiring and sorrowful. Inspiring for the obvious reasons, and sorrowful in that living was not one of his top priorities.

Melanie had never given up. Even after her team was killed and she was disfigured she had kept going. Her village was proof of this. Whenever she wavered, whenever she had started to ponder about dying, she asked herself a question.

What could the dead do?

Sacrificing one's self should be the very last resort, Melanie thought. The action that should be undertaken only if it was the single way to achieve all of one's important goals. Some would claim that Melanie's way of thinking was cowardly and that those that followed it would get their comrades killed rather than sacrifice themselves, but Melanie could easily retort that saving one's comrades was always one of anyone's important goals.

But Bulbasaur didn't think like her. He would be content to die in a battle such as the upcoming one, no matter the other options. In Melanie's eyes this was wrong. She had to do something to correct this while she still could.

During their time together, Melanie had been able to piece together some information about Bulbasaur's life before the village. She knew that he had traveled a lot, through Orre if she guessed correctly, and hadn't been impressed by what he had seen. There had been other things that were harder to put together, but it took no effort to see that Bulbasaur hadn't had an easy life. His scars alone said that much.

Bulbasaur needed companionship from people who were younger and more full of life. Someone who would have a normal life. Someone who would be travelling the world. A trainer who wouldn't have to deal with incidents like the village all the time.

Somebody like Aaron Autumns. An ordinary boy, with an ordinary past, with two gym leaders to protect him and who could deal with any incidents like the current one without getting him involved. It would do Bulbasaur good to go with him. Melanie would have to find some way to make it happen.

But she realized that her thoughts had wandered and she needed to find out what was bothering the plant pokémon.

"Well, are you worried that I'll get hurt?" She repeated her earlier question.

Bulbasaur hesitantly wiggled his head. She was close, but that wasn't exactly it.

"Well, what's the matter then?"

Bulbasaur gently reached out with a vine and brushed the leafy end against her gloved hand. Melanie could see the sorrow in his eyes as he looked at her hand and then at her weapon.

Ah, so that was it.

"You didn't want me getting involved with the darker side of life again," the pretty blue haired girl stated. "Or the hatchlings."

Bulbasaur nodded. Melanie was sure that if he wasn't so... stoic- no that wasn't the word... gruff- again not it... weathered was the word that fit best, that he'd be shedding tears.

"It's alright Bulbasaur. You'll protect us from the worse of it. Besides, I'll be killing Rockets. It would be hypocritical for you to object to that." Melanie gave a mischievous smirk.

Bulbasaur snorted.

"It'll be fine," reassured her guardian pokémon, drawing him into a tight hug.

"It'll be fine," Melanie repeated. If there had been more light in the room an observer would have been able to see the tears starting to leak from her eyes.

"Alright, the village is located here," Vincent Yamamoto, the leader of the Team Rocket operation said, pointing to spot on the map. John Baker, the combat team leader, looked the map over from the other side of the rock it had been placed on.

"We know they don't have the strength to stand against us openly," Baker stated, "or they'd have behaved differently."

"True. So unless a gym leader has suddenly stumbled into the village, they don't have the power to launch a counter attack. Which means that we should follow standard Rocket operation doctrine. Split the teams into squads and have them approach the area through multiple attack vectors. The defenders are probably going to fortify the area, but if we keep them distracted we can have the combat team take them by surprise. They should have pickets or scouts, inform the squads to let them escape. That way we can let them think that they know where we're coming from. After that we'll mobilize the combat team. We need them to move fast, so they'll need to take the easiest terrain... here, through this gully."

"It should work, given what we've seen of their strength," Baker agreed. "Unless they've got something up their sleeves. I suggest that you and I accompany the combat team to mitigate the effects of any surprises.'

"A sound idea,' Vincent replied. "But if they have explosives then that could end up taking us out as well. Let's trail different groups so we can still support them if we must, but we won't be caught up in any attacks."

"Yes sir!"

"Good. Give the orders. Prepare to move out! We'll be taking the hatchlings tonight!"

Pidgey lurked within the forest, investigating different locations as night fell. He was supposed to be looking for signs of Team Rocket's movements, but he was distracted by his need to find Hoothoot. Hopefully she was in hiding until the Rockets were gone.

The flying type gulped nervously as he surveyed the area. He knew that his warning might come in the form of his absence rather than his return. He had fifteen minutes before he needed to report back and knew that he had five minutes until he needed to start heading back to the village.

Pidgey thought he heard a noise in the direction that lead away from the village. The flying type tilted his head to get a better look. A little ways off he thought he saw movement. He needed to investigate that. It was either a wild pokémon that needed to be sent to the village or it was Team Rocket.

Pidgey cautiously fluttered to a tree nearer to the disturbance. He wished he and Hoothoot had switched places, she had night vision, and she would have been able to teach their daughter better.

He alighted in the upper boughs of the tree he had chosen. Pidgey knew that he would have to wait a bit before the source of the disturbance would make itself known.

The brown pokémon heard the noise of plant life being pushed aside and human footsteps. He hopped up to a higher branch and peered in the direction that the sounds were coming from.

He caught sight of the black uniform with the giant red Rs. Team Rocket grunts, five of them, screened by their pokémon, mostly ratatta's, nidorans, raticates, and a shandshrew. Every human had some sort of weapon ready. Pidgey waited, he needed to know if this was another scouting party.

His heart raced as they passed under his tree. One group. He needed to see another to be sure. But it might be that they were attacking and only sent one group down this way.

Wait, why was he panicking. Pidgey knew that he could fly back before this group reached the village. He wouldn't have to worry about them beating him back.

But if there were other groups, coming from areas he didn't know about...

The Rockets were several yards passed. It would be the perfect time to flee. But Pidgey desperately wanted to know if this was the attack or not. With incomplete intelligence Brock would be forced to tip their hand. But if might mean that the Rockets would be scared off and the League could send reinforcements before the next attack.

Pidgey decided to err on the side of caution. Waiting until he was sure that the Rockets and their pokémon weren't paying attention Pidgey took to wing and hurried back to the village.

Ash Ketchum came to a decision.

Bulbasaur sat outside with what would be his two human comrades during the upcoming fight. Nobody talked. It suited the plant-type just fine.

He snapped one his vines to burn some of his restless energy. Brock and Misty were doing similar things, including some warms ups, to deal with their own anticipation. Bulbasaur briefly wondered how many nights they would have to do this. Nobody at the village had any idea what day the Rockets would discover the village and attack, only that the attack would take place at night.

Although if Pidgey didn't get back soon then the fight would probably be tonight. Bulbasaur hoped that Pidgey was hurrying back and not wasting time fluttering about as some flying-types were want to, his daughter was worried sick about her father. And if Pidgey was wasting time then there would be Bulbasaur to pay.

Speak of the devil, there was Pidgey now.

Bulbasaur waited for the flying type to land in front of them before speaking up.

Find anything birdie?

Stuff it weed. I saw a group of Rockets kitted out for a fight. Don't know if they were a scouting party or part of an attack.

How were they deployed? Bulbasaur demanded of Pidgey. Did they have their pokémon out?

Yeah.

They haven't done that before. Didn't trust them enough to use during scouting operations. Go to your daughter. You've done your part.

I can do more, Pidgey protested.

Go. To. Your. Daughter. Bulbasaur commanded. If you must do something then help Melanie with the hatchlings. And tell the older pokémon here to evacuate. None of them are in any state to help us.

Fine. Don't die weed.

Feh.

Pidgey took off towards the cabin where Melanie was sheltering the hatchlings. Brock and Misty turned to Bulbasaur.

"Is the attack coming?" Brock asked the plant-type, his voice calm. Misty fidgeted nervously as she stood next to him.

Bulbasaur nodded. Brock took a deep breath and then slowly released it. Misty started to breath faster, her fists clenching, and bent over a bit as her muscles tightened from the frantic explosion of nervous emotions that Bulbasaurs answer had ignited.

"Very well. Misty, release your pokémon and take your position." Brock ordered. "Bulbasaur, you know what to do. I should be able to catch the combat team in the gully or after they've passed through, but if I've missed them and they come here, just focus on holding out long enough for me to return. Remember to prioritize the trainers, if the Rocket trainers are down, their pokémon might take the opportunity to escape. And don't die."

And with that Brock took off into the forest.

Misty took a couple seconds to calm herself, before grabbing her pokéballs.

"Go! Staryu, Starmie, and Goldeen!" The red haired trainer cried out, throwing the red and white orbs. With a flash of light her three water type pokémon appeared.

"Staryu, you're with me. Starmie, you handle any pokémon in the air and support us as necessary. Hide until the fighting starts. Goldeen, you're in the water. Take out anyone who comes close." Misty said to her pokémon.

Her three pokémon complied. Goldeen flopped into the water, Starmie hid against the cabin, and Staryu stood next to Misty.

You lot ready to fight? Bulbasaur asked with a smirk.

Hatched for it, Staryu replied.

As ready as I'll ever be, Starmie answered.

I've been waiting far too long for another one, Golden said eagerly. Ohhhh, this will be good.

"Everybody, we're going to need to use lethal force. Got it. This isn't a battle between League trainers," Misty told her pokémon.

Even better, Goldeen said happily, wiggling in the stream.

Fine, Staryu replied.

I was afraid of that. Starmie sighed. But I'll do it, don't worry... right you can't understand me. I wonder if I could convince Ash to teach you...

Well, it'll be nice fighting alongside you lot, Bulbasaur told his temporary comrades. And just remember, the Rocket's ain't getting the hatchlings! If they want to even reach the door, they'll have to crawl over a hill made of the bodies of their teamates!

"Zubat," Brock whispered to the pokéball he held in his hand, "I need your ears."

He knelt and place the pokéball on the ground. Then he reached into his belt and pulled out a square yard of tightly folded black cloth which he used to cover the pokéball. The boy from Pewter City then released his pokémon, with the cloth helping to conceal most of the flash.

He hadn't trained Zubat to operate blind or at night, like he had started doing so with his other pokémon after the fight with Aaron, but he didn't need to.

Brock tossed the cloth aside, there wasn't time to refold it, and then turned back to Zubat who was hovering by the former gym leader's head.

"Can you hear anyone?"

Zubat nodded.

"Can you tell if they're in a group or not?"

Another nod.

"Can you hear multiple groups?"

Another nod.

"Zubat, in which direction is the nearest group?"

Zubat indicated a direction to the right of the way Brock had been headed.

"And the biggest group?"

Zubat indicated a direction slightly to the left of the nearest group.

"Alright," Brock said, formulating a plan. "Worst come to worst I want you to get out of here. Got it? You haven't had enough training to participate in this fight. You'll be helping Onix navigate, nothing else."

Zubat, a little sad, nodded.

"Don't be like that. I'll probably be fine."

Zubat looked a little doubtful.

"Hey! I can take care of myself."

Zubat looked more doubtful.

"I swear. You know, I bet Aaron doesn't have this problem. Most of his pokémon respect him!"

John Baker held his walky-talky close as he awaited word from the vanguard teams. Vincent had decided to give Team C a chance at redemption by using their squads as the vanguard. Their duty was simple, ensure that the routes were safe. Either by disarming any traps they encountered along their way or setting them off. It didn't matter to the Rocket leaders.

He had the first combat group following a vanguard squad, the one that was taking the route that led through the gully. John himself was following several tens of yards behind. If he was on hand when they first encountered resistance then he could crush the main force of the defenders. Possibly. They might be waiting to ambush a later group in order to keep the Rocket forces separated. But the first squad from the combat team was the largest squad so it wouldn't do them much good. But if they somehow could get...

This was why John hated operating with minimal intelligence. He couldn't tell what the enemy could do, or what they were likely to do. All he could do was make plans to minimize the damage of any surprises they might encounter.

It was time for a check in.

"Vanguard Three," he said, pressing the talk button, "anything to report?"

"Nothing so far sir," was the reply he received.

He checked in with the other vanguard squads. They all reported the same thing. The attack seemed to be progressing smoothly.

John was busy putting the walky-talking away when he noticed that the first combat squad that he was following had stopped. That was odd. He looked down at his two pokémon. His growlithe and his rhyhorn were both standing at attention, like he had trained them to when they were out of their balls and didn't have orders. He turned back to the combat team. His instincts were telling him that something was about to happen.

"What's going on?" John said, using the walky-talky to communicate with the nearby group. It seemed somewhat wasteful but there might not be time to run the message over.

"We heard a noise out in the forest, off the route, to the west. Trying to identify it. Probably nothing."

"Don't worry about it. I'll investigate. Keep going."

The combat team started to move once more. But before most of them had taken two steps, there was a brilliant flash of light off in the woods, and a roar.

"Onix!" The rock-type's deep voice sounded through the trees that the pokémon itself was smashing through as it charged the combat squad.

In the dark they could only see a long, segmented, and bulbous shape rush them. Those nearest to it briefly felt the ground beneath their feet tremble before it reached them.

It slammed into the center of the group, sending man and pokémon alike flying like leaves in autumn. Their screams filled the air as their shattered bodies hit earth and tree.

"Onix!" Another cry as the damned stone serpent spun, lashing out with its tail to clear out more of the combat group. Those that were frozen in surprise or shock were caught by the living rock. Very few of those Rockets or pokémon survived.

Others managed to dodge the blow, leaping both above and below the attack. Fire, lightning, vines, claws, fangs, and even a beak, retaliated. Orange and yellow light lit the night illuminating the grey monster.

It reared back, towering over the Rockets and their attacking pokémon, and roared once more. Its voice shook the clearing and gave everyone pause, even John.

But if it was trying to break the spirits of the men or their pokémon its roar failed. The combat team and their pokémon were both too well trained for that to happen.

More attacks hit it, fire blasting its face, vines beating out a savage beat on its body, raticates and doduos clawing, biting, and pekcing at it, and their trainers attacking it with weapons. But if the giant pokémon gave no indication that it even noticed their attacks. It simply turned and began to move away.

John and his pokémon were rushing to join the fray, when the combat team leader noticed two shapes detach themselves from the stone leviathan. A vaguely spherical shape with two arms and a human, probably a teenager from their size. He guessed that first shape was a geodude and the human was the trainer of the two rock-types.

Both started fighting the disorganized Rockets immediately. The geodude used a spinning backhand to take out a vulpix that was about to launch an attack on the human. Its trainer landed feet first on a Rocket, knocking the woman out, and then calmly stood up. Another Rocket charged him, attack from his side. The new trainer calmly used their mace to cave his head in without even looking.

John Baker knew that this was not good.

"Rhyhorn use Horn Attack on the geodude! Growlithe Fire Fang the trainer!"

His pokémon surged into action on both sides. Foliage snapped and was crushed beneath Rhyhorn as it charged the geodue that was busy slamming its fists down on both of heads of a doduo. Growlithe followed, fire gathering in its mouth as it leapt towards the attacking trainer.

In the orange light of the fire pokémon's attack John could make out some details of the attacker. From what little bare skin there was he could tell that the trainer was dark skinned. And from the shape he could tell it was a boy.

The boy turned to deal with the attacking growlithe, putting his arm between the attack and his body. Growlithe bit down on the limb but failed to penetrate the armor that the trainer was wearing. The trainer used the momentum from Growlithe's attack to spin and crush in the face of a Rocket that attempted to stab him in the back.

John had drawn his short sword and was ready to engage the boy in hand to hand fighitng, supported by his pokémon and his fellow Rockets, when he heard a crash followed by a scream and a groan. His Rhyhorn had been flipped on its back, landing right on top of one of his men. He didn't see the geodude- But there was a gloom headed right towards his face...

Brock shook his arm as he completed his turn, throwing the growlithe off of him. His mace sped down to crush its skull but the fire type partially evaded the blow. With a sickening crack the mace shattered its right foreleg.

It whimpered as it rolled out of range. Brock knew it wasn't out of the fight yet, if nothing else it could use long range fire attacks. Had he not been in the middle of a battle, it would've broken Brock's heart to know what had happened and what must happen to the pokémon.

Enslaved by cruel men and tortured until it had no will left, treated as a mere tool, and used as a weapon against those who would save it, the growlithe's life was a horrible one. And now, unless fortune smiled on them both, Brock would have to kill it to save others from its fate.

This was why the League had such strict rules about the treatment of prisoner. Rocket prisoners had an unfortunate tendency of dying.

Brock ran forward, kicking a raticate out of the way without breaking stride, and then brought his mace down on the arm of a Rocket that was moving to support the growlithe. The man briefly screamed before Brock kicked him in the stomach and sent him into a nearby tree.

There was a clang and he felt his helmet vibrate. The gym leader reversed and saw a Rocket with two hatchets swinging at him. That was good. Brock hadn't seen anyone equipped with the right weapons to take him out so far. As long as they kept attacking with their weapons, kept going for lethal attacks, Brock was somewhat safe. When the Rockets were doing that, they weren't trying to dogpile him. That would be the best way for the group to take him down.

Brock let fly a left cross, his armored hand breaking the man's nose. Without missing a beat the Rocket tried to hack the limb off. Brock used his mace to smash the hand holding the hatchet instead.

The boy from Pewter City had trained for this. Trained all of his life in fact. Trained by his father. Trained by his mother. Trained by everyone at the gym while he was growing up. He had spent countless hours learning martial forms, how to use both his body and mace as weapons. When he was old enough he had spent the time training his body, hardening it, and building up his muscles. And when he had received his pokémon he had trained with them as well.

He trained their defense, building it beyond the impressive amount that their type had given. His training had given them a resistance to their weaknesses, as Geodude demonstrated by flying through a storm of Razor Leaves to punch an oddish into an electabuzz. He had trained them and himself until he was able to look Bruno in the eye and say that he deserved to be a gym leader.

These men were no match for him. Many of their pokémon came from a common pool and lacked proper training. And those who had their own pokémon never devoted enough attention to them. Even though they were the combat troops they neglected their pokémon in favor of other pursuits and vices. None of them had the training or the will to stand against Brock and his pokémon.

Brock's mace whistled through the air as he used it to send blood and brains flying, to shatter bones and weapons, and to beat the enemy down. In the space of three seconds two Rockets fell dead at his feet and he had engaged another Rocket who used a short sword.

This Rocket's uniform was different from the others. He dodged a swipe of the mace, feinted with his sword, and then attempted to grapple Brock. Brock guessed that he was probably one of their officers given his skill level.

He forced the man to back off by kicking at his shins. Two more Rocket's attacked him, one on either side. Brock caught a machete in his armored left hand and took a hatchet blow to his right shoulder. His armor protected him well enough. He pulled on the machete, jerking the attacker on his left between him and the officer, and swung out with his mace to his right, trying to guess where the attacker was. Brock guessed right, and his mace caved in the left side of the pretty blonde Rocket's face.

The man with the machete let go of his weapon, realizing that he needed to sacrifice it to escape, but it was too late. Brock kicked the side of his knee and the man cried out. The gym leader permanently silenced him with the mace.

Flames covered his vision, probably the growlithe using some sort of long ranged fire attack. Brock's helmet and armor were insulated enough to prevent the heat from harming him but the gym leader could be taken down if he overheated. Brock also knew that the officer and his men would capitalize on his lack of vision and attack.

Brock surged forward and checked the officer in the stomach, the height difference working for Brock for once. The Rocket grunted and threw himself backward to avoid Brock's follow up blow. He then counter attacked, his sword flashing in the light of the moon as he tried to stab and slice Brock through the small gaps in his armor.

Brock caught the sword on his mace and pushed against the man. A feral grin spread across his face, under the helmet. Brock knew he would have to hold them here. Reinforcements were probably headed his way, though Onix would be focused on disrupting them. If Brock failed to stop the combat teams then they would overwhelm Misty who would have her hands full with the Grunts that Onix would miss.

It was time to do or die.

Misty and Bulbasaur waited back the village staring into the dark depths of the forest. They could hear roars and screams from the fighting out in the forest, as well as the occasional flash of light from fire or electrical attacks.

Misty shivered. They weren't very pleasant sounds.

Wisps of smoke rose up from the forest at several points, giving the full moon gray tattoos as they floated before the celestial orb.

Bulbasaur grunted as he heard noises in the forest getting louder. He could make out footsteps and speech. It was the first batch of Rockets that had managed to escape Onix.

Come on you bastards! He shouted, challenging the attackers and warning Misty. His vines were writhing and lashing like angry snakes as he charged towards the noise. Misty and Staryu took up defensive stances behind him.

Five Rockets and ten pokémon burst out of the woods. Two humans carried duel hatchets, one had a machete, another a club, and the last one had spiked brass knuckles. There were three scarred ratattas, a cyndaquil, a tentacool, a zubat, two beedrills, and a machop.

Misty knew what her first move should be, have Staryu take down the cyndaquil. Her heart and mind rebelled against potentially killing the small and frightened looking pokémon, but she knew there was no choice.

"Staryu Water Gun the cyndaquil!" The order was given and a jet of high pressure water streaked across the clearing. It hit the cyndaquil with a burst of hissing steam and sent the small fire type flying back into the forest. Misty thought that she saw it cough up a dark liquid as it tumbled away. She squashed the guilt that welled up inside her. There was no time for that.

The Rockets shouted orders to their pokémon. Bulbasaur interrupted with an autumn's day worth of Razor Leafs. Rockets and Rocket pokémon were forced to scatter or die. One leaf clipped a beedrill's wing. It buzzed angrily as it fell. The other beedrill also abandoned the air to avoid the last of the leaves. Both poison types turned towards the plant type and Misty knew what was coming next.

"Barrage Counter!" She order Staryu as she heard the Rockets order the beedrills to use Pin Missile. Barrage Counter was a move developed by her sisters and taught to all pokémon that trained at the Cerulean gym. It was a variation of water gun, where the pokémon sprayed a wide area jet of water to slow or stop numerous projectiles.

The wall of water met the storm of needles and the needles clattered to the ground. The scattered Rocket pokémon started to charge the outnumbered defenders, while their human masters held back. That was how most fights went down. Pokémon from both sides would fight in the middle and their trainers held back, unable to cross the area where the pokémon were fighting. Unless one side pulled off a flanking maneuver, or the pokémon fight moved, neither side was able to engage the other in hand to hand combat. Half the time fights ended with one side's pokémon breaking through and taking out the opposing trainers.

The three rattatas attacked Bulbasaur together as the plant type counter charged. Vines lashed out and grabbed two ratatta tails as Bulbasaur and the remaining ratatta exchanged Tackles. The ratatta was forced back, skidding through the grass that glistened from the fallout of Misty's attacks. Bulbasaur followed up by using the other two ratattas as living flails. All three screamed in pain, barely audible over the repeated smacks of flesh hitting flesh.

Misty prepared to back the plant type up as the other Rocket pokémon continued their charge, but they flowed around the busy plant type. What's more, the Rocket humans also began to charge. She realized what was happening. The numerical inequality meant the Rockets could use their pokémon as shields while they swarmed Misty. It was also an attack born of desperation, they had lost nearly half their pokémon already.

"Bubblebeam!" Staryu let loose a stream of hard hitting bubbles, blasting away at the Rockets like the machine guns of old. The attackers weaved and dodged, trying to avoid as many bubbles as they could. Misty saw several humans and pokémon stagger as they were hit.

"Tentacool Bubblebeam!" An opposing stream of bubbles raced towards Misty and Staryu. They separated. Staryu soared to the right of the group, exchanging high velocity bubbles with the tentacool the entire time. Misty's pokémon managed to knock the club wielding Rocket before Misty jumped into the middle of their group.

Four on one was not good odds, even considering the skill difference. She needed to move quickly and aggressively to even the odds. They hadn't been expecting her to attack them yet. Misty had an instant of surprise.

The water type specialist nailed one of the hatchet wielding Rockets with a one-two punch combo to the jaw, followed by a knee between his legs, and then finished him off with a right cross. The brass knuckled part of her trench knives made sure that the Rocket wouldn't get up any time soon.

She flowed around the falling Rocket to gain a quick reprieve. It was just in the nick of time too; the man's comrades were attacking where she had been.

Three on one, better odds. Still not good odds. The other hatchet wielder was on her right, the man with the machete on her left, and the one with the spiked brass knuckles was in front of her, separated by the prone body of his comrade.

Misty feinted to the right and then dashed left. She had hoped to catch the machete wielder by surprise but his reflexes were too good for that. Instead she was forced to catch the machete with an x-block using her blades. The gym trainer didn't bother pushing against him, he'd overpower her and it would give his teammates a chance to attack.

Instead she released the block and spun around him. His back was exposed, her blades were ready-

murderer

-and she ran past to assault the flank of the man with the spiked knuckles. He ducked and dodged her flurry of punches and was about to drive his weapon into the underside of her chin when there was an eruption of pain in his right kneecap. He stumbled.

Misty was unable to capitalize on the momentary advantage as his comrades ran in. She slipped behind him and kicked him in the rear. He stumbled forward, forcing the other Rockets to change course. Misty launched herself at the man with the machete again.

Once more blades clashed, but this time Misty slammed her helmeted head into his unprotected jaw. He didn't stagger, but he quit pushing against her blades. She flowed around him, to his side, and let loose another right hook. The Rocket managed to turn with the blow but this time he did stagger. Misty prepared to finish him off.

She was interrupted by a hatchet to her shoulder. That member of Team Rocket had moved faster than she thought he could.

The blow hurt, but her armor stopped the hatchet from penetrating, and the force of the blow wasn't enough to dislocate her shoulder. Misty managed to roll forward and take a low stance when he tried to follow up. He wasn't able to stop his charge in time. Misty rebounded and hit him with a brass knuckled punch to the nuts.

His two remaining comrades winced in sympathy as he went cross eyed. The red haired trainer finished him off with a rising uppercut and then jumped over the prone body to make sure that it was between her and the other two Rockets.

Misty panted as both sides paused. Her style of fighting was energy intensive. She would have to finish these two quickly in order to rest up for the next wave.

Two on one odds. She'd had better but- Oh. Apparently Bulbasaur had finished off their pokémon and decided to take one of them off of her hands. Those spiked knuckles really weren't a help against vines wrapped around the throat.

One on one. Much better.

She moved while the other Rocket was still distracted by Bulbasaur's sudden entrance. He caught her coming out of the corner of his eye. The machete wielder jumped away and drew his head back to avoid the blow to the side of his jaw...

Too slow for either of them.

Misty had launched another right cross and the man had jumped to the right. But the blades on her trench knives stuck out away from her center. What he had done was move his throat into the path of her blade.

Sharpened metal met flesh. Flesh parted. Blood spurted. Misty's fist continued across his throat before it jerked away. She had overextended the blow on purpose to set up a follow up spinning elbow strike.

Elbow met bloody jaw with a sharp crack! The last Rocket staggered and made a gurgling sound. Then he fell forward.

Misty felt something wet on her hands and elbow. She looked down. There were splotches of dark liquid all over her right hand and left elbow. She mentally reviewed the last few second in her head.

Oh, Arceus. She-

murderer

murderer

murderer

murderer

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murderer murderer murderer murderer

murderer murderer murderer murderer murderer murderer

MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER MURDERER

MURDERERMURDERERMURDERER

-MISTYtookadeepbreath

Sherememberedthecyndaquil.

Misty remembered Melanie. She remembered the hatchlings cowering inside.

She remembered the two Rockets back at the Viridian pokémon center and the fear she had felt when they had tried to steal her pokémon.

Another deep breath.

Then she spat on the body.

Vincent Yamamoto ran through the forest as fast as he could. John Baker and the combat team squads were being massacred by a lone trainer and his geodude. The boy was focusing on merely holding Baker off while killing the other members of the combat team. Casualties were high; two squad had been lost already and a third was being mauled. Meanwhile an onix roamed the forest killing Grunt squads left and right. The way it found each group was unnerving, onixs weren't known for their tracking ability.

Their wave strategy had worked against them this night. Had they moved the combat team as one group they could have overwhelmed the trainer and the geodude, or at least forced the onix to stay and support them. Instead he was able to slaughter each wave before the next could arrive. Meanwhile his onix was able to roam the countryside, the mountain pokémon ignoring and smashing through any difficulties presented by the terrain, and rush isolated squads without needing support.

And they still had no word on the defenses around the village proper. Hell, Vincent didn't even know if a squad had made it near the village proper without being smashed, squashed, broken, crushed, and torn apart by that damned onix.

He needed a new plan quickly. He brought his walky-talky up to his mouth.

"Combat Squad Five, take a route that has already been cleared," Vincent ordered, "or whichever route has been cleared the most. Combat Squad Four keep moving to assist Combat Team Leader. All Grunt squads are to abandon stealth. Make your audio and visual profiles as large as you can. Draw attention away from Combat Squad Five. I'm moving to assist Combat squads Four and Five."

Confirmations were spit out of his walky-talky as Vincent hurried to help Baker. They would still win this battle.

Another man fell to his mace, his blood splattering all over Brock's front. The former Pewter City gym leader took a moment to catch his breath, while geodude continued to subdue the Rocket pokémon while the humans circled him warily. This wasn't his preferred method of fighting, his style was more stationary, emphasizing defense and strong attacks. His current situation, however, called for him to keep moving to avoid being swarmed. Brock needed to avoid the Rocket officer while killing all of his men. Individually he was no match for Brock, but with his men supporting him the officer could be deadly.

Geodude threw the rhyhorn across the clearing, the stone body breaking the bodies of humans and pokémon alike. That rhyhorn didn't want to go down. Geodude had been smacking it around for the duration of the battle, when not busy beating down other pokémon, but nothing seemed to stick.

The Rockets tried to rush Brock while he was resting. Brock took action and ran at them. He checked a Rocket, who had a honest to Arceus battle axe, sending him soaring backwards. Blades and clubs bounced off his armor as he cleared the group.

Brock skidded to a stop, whirling around and swinging his mace downward and shattering a spear raised in a hasty block by a petite brunette. Another swing broke three of her ribs and one more swing broke her neck. She toppled to the ground, her jade green eyes going blank.

There were four left, not counting the officer. If he could finish them quickly then he could take down the officer before the next wave arrived. It would be tiring. But it was a good plan.

Brock stood his ground, letting his head droop, as the remaining Rockets rushed him to the front. The officer came charging in behind them. Brock let his weariness take him and fell to one knee. His attackers adjusted their stances as they readied to descend on him.

Right as they reached him Brock exploded into action. His spiked mace swung low, shattering a shin and sweeping the Rocket's leg out from under its owner. Brock slammed his head into the chin of the falling man and teeth crunched together.

One of the remaining Rockets dropped their weapon and grabbed the former gym leader's right arm. They finally realized that the best strategy would be to trap his limbs and then finish him off at their leisure. Brock sacrificed his weapon right away, letting it fall to the ground, and then grappled with the Rocket. The others were forced to back off as to avoid hitting their comrade.

Brock dominated his opponent and hurled him at the officer. It would buy him a bit of time to deal with the others.

Two daggers stabbed downward, seeking gaps in his armor. A club swung towards his groin, hoping to distract him. A large cleaver sliced towards his left arm.

Brock twisted as he threw a punch towards the dagger wielding Rocket. He wasn't exceptionally fast for a gym leader, but he was faster than the Rocket combat team. His fist broke the other guy's nose and put them in enough pain to keep them out of the fight.

The club bounced off of his outer thigh and the cleaver missed. Brock then dropped his upper body down and unleashed a mule kick at the cleaver wielding Rocket. He caught the man in the stomach and knocked the wind out of him. The club came for him again, but Brock righted himself, catching the arm in the process, and in a series of grappling moves, proceeded to break the arm.

As the Rocket fell, Brock took the opportunity to finish off the man with the cleaver with a haymaker.

Then the officer was upon him.

Moonlight glinted off the sword as it dart to and fro in an effort to get past Brock's armor. The rock-type trainer was forced to abandon retrieving his mace in favor of warding off the officers attacks.

Grunts echoed through the clearing as the officer danced around Brock, throwing everything he had into the attack. He, like Brock, knew that now was the perfect time to finish him. He was hoping either to stall long enough for reinforcements to arrive or take out the gym leader then.

Brock made sure to catch his opponent's blade on the toughest parts of his armor. He tried to counter attack but the Rocket kept dancing out of his range. Brock needed his mace back in order to end this fight before more Rockets arrived.

Thrust. Slash. Stab. Thrust. Slash. Stab. Stab. Stab.

During the last attack the officer overextended himself. Brock took the opportunity to throw him. The man rolled but Brock gained a bit of time. His eyes frantically searched the clearing for the spot where he dropped his weapon.

There.

His mace was sticking out of the ground at an angle, the spikes keeping from falling on its side. It was to the left of Brock and the right of the Rocket midway between the two. The officer's eyes met Brock's squint.

Brock's opponent dashed for the weapon to prevent the gym leader from retrieving it. Brock purposefully waited a fraction of a second before doing the same thing. The officer dove for the mace. Brock let him.

The officer's hand closed around the mace and he started to roll forward, arms to the side, in order to regain his stance. But Brock interrupted his roll by stomping on his back. The man cried out as Brock pushed him into the ground with his foot. Another stomp, another scream, and Brock's mace was dropped. One more stomp to break the sword hand, a cacophony of pops, cracks, and screams.

Brock bent over, picked up his mace, and stomped on the officer's upper back to stop him from getting back up.

John Baker knew that he had several broken bones in his right hand. His left arm didn't feel so good and every movement made his back feel like it was being consumed in white hot flames. He was having trouble with his vision; it was like trying to see through a long dark tunnel.

The Rocket tried to get up. He pushed through the pain from his limbs and forced his back to move. He needed to get up. He was John Baker. He did not fail. He would not fall here. He had survived so much already. The Fuchsia city ninjas had failed to put him down. Fires from the Cinnabar volcano and the contingent of gym trainers didn't finish him. His brush with Bruno, during which so many Rockets had been captured, had ended with him escaping.

No, he would not fail here.

He let loose a strangled scream as his opponent stomped on his back again. The ground met him again and he couldn't stop himself from moaning in pain.

No. He refused to let it end.

John Baker picked up his head. He saw the armored boy before him, mace raised, and then there was moveme-

Brock sighed and wiped some of the blood splatter off of his helmet. It had been a hard fight but the Rockets were down and their pokémon were scattered. He sat back on his haunches and tried to get his breathing and heart rate under control. Beside him Geodude lowered himself to the ground, also tired from his efforts.

Had that been all of the combat team? Brock wasn't sure. He had no idea about the numbers or the organization of the Rockets other then what the League knew. Undoubtedly Team Rocket was going to change up their structure and tactics and the League would have to get new intel and the high placed traitor would warn Team Rocket when the League had that...

Dammit. It looked like it would never end. Nights like this would reoccur for an unforeseeable amount of time, ending in tragedy, victory, or some bittersweet mix of the two. People and pokémon would continue to die, innocents killed by Team Rocket, League members falling in battle or tortured at some Rocket hideout, pokémon being stolen and broken, and innocents of both species taken by Team Rocket to be forced into doing their bidding would fall at the hands of the League in order to save others.

For a moment a dark rage mixed with despair welled up in Brock, a mass of strangling vines, a poisonous miasma, black lightning, smoke choked fire, painful, hot, and suffocating. In that moment he wanted to feel hot blood flowing over his hands as someone in a Rocket uniform begged for mercy and then he would break them...

But the moment faded and there was only an emptiness left. Grief rapidly filled that emptiness, followed by despairing acceptance. It would never end. Even if they defeated Team Rocket someone else would simply take their place. Brock's head fell and he let himself sag.

But there was one more emotion piping up. One that reminded him that once it was much worse. Team Rocket had worked openly in the past. They had nearly been able to take major cities, casting a shadow of the violence of the world shattering war on the recovering country. Every man, woman, and child had nights like the current back then. Nowadays people like himself were able to shoulder most of the burden and spare those like Aaron or most of Pallet Town, Viridian City, Pewter City, and all the other Kanto towns. Even if Team Rocket and their ilk would never be gone, Brock could still lessen their influence and make the world a better place.

Brock chuckled.

He forced himself to return to thinking about business. He wasn't sure, but he didn't recall seeing any of the Rockets trying to communicate. Hopefully that meant that either he had finished off all of the combat team or that they would still come down this route. Misty should only have to deal with the Grunts.

He just needed a moment to rest. One minute before he heard crashing and roaring from large pokémon and the battle-cries of Team Rocket members. Yes one minute without the sounds he was hearing behind him.

Dammit.

Brock jumped to his feet, taking a ready stance. Geodude groaned and floated up to take his place beside his trainer.

More Rockets were charging him, pokémon arrayed before them. At their head was a large Nidoking, spewing Poison Stings as it attacked. Among the humans was a scarred green haired man in one of the Rocket officer uniforms. Two wicked looking sai daggers gleamed in the moonlight as he spun them into a better grip.

Brock and Geodude glanced at each other and nodded. Bellowing their own war cries they rushed towards the approaching enemies.

Not a single Rocket would get past, Brock swore to himself. He would stop them all here or die trying.

Misty sighed as Staryu hit a stray Rocket pokémon with Tackle. Other than the brief bit of excitement earlier with the Grunt squad it had been quiet on her end. Evidently there were no problems on Brock's end or Onix's end. That was a good thing.

Bulbasaur was resting in front of her, lying on the soft grass. His part of the fight hadn't really been tiring but he wanted to be at one hundred percent when the next fight came. Also, apart from the screams, it was a nice night out. Perfect for stargazing or moon watching.

Dammit, a bit of smoke drifted in front of the area he was watching. Some people could be so inconsiderate, Bulbasaur thought to himself as he heard another dying scream.

Hmm. What was that? It sounded like movement in the forest nearby. Bulbasaur groaned and picked himself up. Another lost Rocket pokémon to knock out.

Wait ...it sounded rather large... or like several entities. Another group then. Time to get work.

Set one foot here and I'll destroy you! Bulbasaur shouted. If they were just a group of pokémon he might scare them off. If they were a Rocket group then Misty would know they were coming.

His vines came out again as Misty and Staryu took up fighting stances. Time to go again.

A magmar, an electabuzz, two houndooms, and a muk exploded out of the woods, launching fire, lightning, and Sludge Bombs at the defenders. Misty dove out of the way as a fireball exploded where she had been standing. Bits of ember drifted down like glowing snow as she rolled into a crouch. She was forced to move again when she saw the electabuzz look her way. A bolt of yellow electricity scorched the area where she had been.

Bulbasaur plunged his vines into the ground and ripped up a chunk larger than Misty. He ran forward, streams of fire shattering on the impromptu shield, lightning grounding itself on the uprooted earth, and poisonous sludge splattered and soaked into the shield. Bulbasaur crossed the distance and swung his earthen club at the magmar. But the flaming pokémon sidestepped the attack and drew in a deep breath.

Bulbasaur tried to move the shield between himself and the upcoming fire attack but a ball of fire exploded behind him. The plant-type stumbled. He dropped the hunk of earth and was left defenseless.

Misty and Staryu were busy avoiding the elctrobuzz as coruscating streamers of yellow energy danced around the clearing. The two houndooms were behind Bulbasaur, the muk was lurking near the treeline, and five human members of Team Rocket made a break for the cabin.

It happened in the blink of an eye. A short and powerful blast of water smashed into the magmar. Steam exploded everywhere and the fire-type screamed. A whirling blur sped across the face of the moon. It descended into the Rockets, scattering four, and hit another on the head. His neck twisted into an unnatural angle with a loud crack and he fell like a puppet with its strings cut.

Starmie had evidently decided, and rightly so, that the fighters on the ground needed support. Well, they needed their nuts pulled out of the fire, but needed support sounded better to Bulbasaur.

He dashed away from the collection of fire type pokémon, shooting a stream of Razor Leaves at the electrobuzz, aiming high. Yellow power flared as the electrobuzz turned from its assualt on Misty and Staryu. It burned through the flying leaves and just over Bulbasaur's head.

"Staryu, get the fire types and the muk! Starmie you help!" Misty bellowed. Bulbasaur could handle the electrobuzz. It couldn't handle four pokémon it was weak against.

Misty sprinted into the scattered Rockets, setting one up for a running right cross. Under the light of the moon she could see that his uniform was different from before, even if she couldn't make out the details. Factor in their relatively strong pokémon as well and she could guess that these were members of the combat team. What had happened to Brock? How had they gotten past?

No time for questions, time for punches. She threw another right cross. Her brass knuckles raced towards the man's jaw, unforgiving metal ready to shatter another jaw.

Surprisingly, it didn't. Faster than a striking ekans, the Rocket turned with the punch, neutralizing most of the damage. Almost too fast for Misty to notice his right fist, wearing a regular set of brass knuckles, shot towards her face like a spring uncoiled. Acting on instinct she tilted her head to the right, metal skidding off the edge of her helmet.

Wasting no time Misty ducked under his arm, and with a series of steps that had been ingrained in her from childhood, twisted to his side. One kidney punch, elbow strike to the back of the head, another dodge, two steps in retreat, a punch that turned into a slash along the Rocket's arm, and finally an uppercut, the Rocket was down.

Yes, definitively part of the combat team, that man had been more skilled than the Grunts from earlier. And now three of them were converging on her.

A bladed spear (where the hell did they get that) slashed downward, forcing her to sidestep into the rush of a man wielding two reverse bladed knives. The red haired trainer dodged and weaved as she reversed, unable to counter attack. She heard movement behind her and threw herself to the side. A club swept through the area her legs would've been.

The spear returned, stabbing down to pin Misty like a collected butterfly. The Cerulean trainer launched herself forward, only to be set on by the other two Rockets.

So it continued, the three members of the combat team coordinating their attacks, trying to trap the helmeted red head. Misty continued to duck, dodge, and flow around their attacks, searching for an opportunity to strike back. Sparks flew each time she was too slow or too late in dodging an attack from bladed weapons, leaving scratches on her armor. Each time the club clipped her Misty grunted in pain.

She bent backward at the waist, spine parallel to the ground, the moonlight flashing off the spear's blade as it barely cleared her helmet. A reverse bladed knife whistled by her throat. The club impacted the ground where Misty had been a moment before.

Each breath burned. All the clothes under her armor were soaked in sweat. Her legs ached from constant use. Her arms burned each time she was forced to block or deflect. She was tiring. Not too fast. But enough. At her current rate she wouldn't be able to fight anyone after the three she was currently facing.

A man's voice screamed from inside the cabin. Misty stopped herself from looking, unlike the man with the spear. There was a split second of opportunity. Misty flowed under the pole and inside his guard. The Rocket member was quick to put an arm between his throat and her, even as he tried back off. Misty didn't bother trying to get past it. She simply stabbed a blade into his right shoulder.

She withdrew before the other two could attack. The scream must've come from a Rocket who had snuck into the cabin. If she looked now Misty knew that she would see the door to the cabin open and light from inside spilling out onto the hill. Melanie evidently could still wield the bow.

F*ck, the spear wielder wasn't as impaired as she had hoped, Misty noted, backpedaling furiously away from a storm of stabbing attacks. Time for plan B.

The water-type specialist started to retreat strictly backward, no more side stepping or other similar moves. Each step she took taking her closer to the stream and the pools.

Orange light flicked behind the Rockets as the grass caught fire. Staryu and Starmie were locked in a heated engagement with the two houndooms and the muk, fire and poison arcing through the sky as they sought the two star pokémon. The magmar lay in pieces, cut apart by pressurized streams of water. Bulbasaur was busy beating down the electabuzz with another hunk of earth.

A step back. Another step back. And one more step into cold water.

Almost there.

Another stab from the spear. Another slash from the knives. Another crushing blow from the club. The attacks weren't letting up. And it was harder for Misty to move as she waded deeper into the stream.

But the club wielder set foot in the water.

"Goldeen!" Misty called out. And the fish-like pokémon that had been lying in wait responded.

She erupted out of the water, droplets catching and returning the light of the moon, as she soared. Her horn pierced flesh and bone, entering the Rocket under his chin and exiting at the top of his head. His eyes were wide in death as he toppled backwards.

Goldeen thrashed and flipped away from her victim and back into the stream. For a split second the other two Rockets stared in surprise and Misty took it as an opportunity to move.

Bursting out of the water, she was on the spear wielder before he could react. Her knives and knuckles became a silver blur under the full moon, beating and cutting the man all over. She sank her left knife into his right shoulder, by the earlier wound, and used it as leverage to spin him between her and his comrade.

She started hauling away on his face, her right fist reducing it to a bloody mess. He was tougher than her earlier opponents. One blow wouldn't put him down. She would use as many blows as she needed to.

It was then everything went wrong.

Rockets and pokémon appeared out of the forest, flat out sprinting for the cabin. They mustve just arrived and saw that all the defenders were occupied. They chose a spot between the stream and the battle between the League and Rocket pokémon to enter the clearing and made no attempt to join those fights.

There was no time. Misty swung her fist and a human's lifeblood was splattered all over her, a second red baptism. She yanked her blade out of the dying man's shoulder and pushed him at the man with the reverse bladed knives. Before she could take off after the newcomers he swatted his comrade away and rushed her. His attacks were fierce, fast, and desperate. Misty was forced to give him her full attention.

Bulbasaur tried to disengage from the almost beaten electabuzz, but the electric-type would have none of it. It upped the frequency of its attacks, electricity dancing everywhere. Staryu and Starmie were in a similar situation.

Misty waited on the defensive for her foe to slip up. He let one slash grow too wild and then she slipped within his guard. He was able to protect his throat, so Misty simply slammed her blades into his kidneys. He gasped and she threw the crown of her helmeted head into his chin.

She let go of her trench knives and started to wail on him with her armored fists. She sent blood and teeth flying. The Rocket staggered back and she kicked him between the legs.

He fell to his knees and Misty took the opportunity to retrieve her knives. Blood spurted as steel left flesh. The Team Rocket associate dropped his own weapons in favors of holding his wounds closed.

Misty dashed towards the cabin. There were far too many men for Melanie to handle. She needed to get inside-

Four Rocket Grunts and their pokémon had detached themselves from the main group and were waiting for her. The only way into the cabin was through them.

Misty charged.

The battle was fierce. Metal clanged on metal between streams of fire and electricity. Sai daggers flashed and slashed and Brock's mace crushed bone, weapon, and flesh alike.

Geodude battle the nidoking, taking time to land blows on other pokémon when he could. Brock did battle with the Rocket commander, occasionally pausing to crush someone else's skull.

Brock bled from cuts all over his body, where the sai daggers had found chinks in his armor. Geodude was in a similar condition as the nidokings ground-type attacks and strength batter the rock-type.

The mace swept downward in a powerful crushing blow but the Rocket commander danced out of the way, trying to catch the handle of the mace in the prongs of his dagger. That was how the fight had been progressing thus far. The green haired Rocket commander sought to disarm Brock while not inflicting small wounds on the gym leader. Brock simply tried to land a blow.

The gym leaders left arm shot out, forearm perpendicular to the ground, and swept away a hatchet blow from a different Rocket. He traded a wound from the commander's sai dagger in exchange for crushing the other attacker's skull.

Once more he needed to finish off all of the mooks before he could hope to deal with their boss. Every muscle protested each time he swung the mace, the exertion of the previous fight and his new collection of cuts were taking their toll.

Under the light of a burning tree Geodude and nidoking duked it out. Stone fist met purple fist under a shower of glowering embers. Blows were exchanged resulting in a staccato of stone on flesh and flesh on stone. Shadows danced a barbaric dance all over the nearby forest, moving with both flickering flame and blood seeking combatant.

A wild uppercut from Geodude sent the poison-type pokémon skidding backwards, right next to Brock. For a second the two pokémon froze, staring at each other.

Brock let out a brief cry of pain as the purple tail whacked him across the chest. The blow from the pokémon sent him flying across the clearing, and into a tree with a loud thud, shaking its branches. He fell limply to the ground.

The Rocket commander said nothing. No words had been exchanged in the entirety of their battle. Their breath was better saved for killing the enemy. So he rushed forward, seeking to finish his downed foe.

Geodude tried to intervene, but was thrown to the ground by Nidoking. He watched helplessly as the Rocket commander raced across the clearing, daggers plunging for a weakness in Brock's armor near the throat.

A sickening sound filled the clearing. A silver weapon arced into the forest. The green haired man jumped back, cradling his crushed hand close to his chest.

Brock had pretended to be down in order to catch his enemy off guard. He was now shakily getting to his feet, mace held at the ready.

"Nidoking kill him!" Ordered the wounded Rocket commander. He thought he heard rumbling from somewhere, but he dismissed it. There were more important things to worry about.

Nidoking kicked Geodude out of the way and ran towards Brock. No need to waste energy with special attacks when he could simply crush the human.

Brock stared at the pokémon rushing him. He wasn't as wounded as he had pretended to be but he still was pretty out of it. Dodging this would require precise timing. Dodge too soon and the pokémon could correct its course. Too late and he would die. But in his current state Brock didn't know if he could time it right.

What was that rumbling?

Trees snapped as a long grey blur exploded out of the forest and barreled into Nidoking. The poison-type yelped as it dug a furrow in the earth on its back. The grey blur wound itself around the poison/ground-type and squeezed. Hard.

There was a crack and Nidoking went still. Onix roared, shaking the confidence of the remaining Rocket pokémon and their trainers.

Vincent Yamamoto took stock of the situation. Broken hand, several squadmates dead, plenty of their pokémon defeated, and a giant stone snake. Time to go.

"Retreat!" He shouted. "All units retreat!"

He took off into the woods, keeping an ear out for the onix. The rest of the combat squad and some of their pokémon did the same. Others, sensing opportunity, ran from their beaten masters, becoming free once more.

Onix let out another earth shaking roar to hurry them along. Then the granite serpent turned to broke, concern evident on its face.

"Don't worry Onix," Brock said shakily. "I'm fine. I just need a minute. Where's Zubat?"

The blue flying pokémon landed on top of his head.

"Zubat are there any more groups advancing?"

Zubat leaned over Brock's forehead, head lining up with the trainer's squint, and shook his head.

"Are there any at the village?"

Zubat concentrated for a second and then squeaked. He furiously nodded his head.

"Arceus fuckin dammit! Onix, we need to go help Misty!"

Misty was exhausted, outnumbered, and her opponents had their pokémon with them.

A dagger tried to plunge into her stomach, but her armor stopped it. Instead she took what felt like a very hard jab. Her heel gouged the ground as she skidded back, only to be hit with a flying hatchet to the face. Her helmet shuddered and her head snapped back.

Her instincts screamed, and despite the two earlier blows, Misty forced herself to move. Wicked looking fangs from a raticate tore a strip of armor off of her shoulder. Had she not moved they would've sunk deep into her flesh.

A machop dashed in front of her, grabbed her arm, and then threw her away from the cabin. Grass and stars and grass and stars and grass flashed in front of her as she tumbled. She landed on her back, letting out an omph, forced herself to roll over. She needed to get up...

She looked up and saw a Rocket with a club standing over her. When did he get there? When did they get so fast?

She let out an eep as she scrambled backwards, club narrowly missing her head. The Rocket rushed forward and kicked her in the stomach while he brought his club back up.

White hot pain erupted around the area of impact. And it stayed there. Misty fell back down to the ground, dazed and out of breath, in terrible pain.

It was already too late. Earlier she had heard the sounds of human screams, cries, and the calls of surprised pokémon. Melanie and the hatchlings were long dead and gone.

Still she tried to get back up. There was no reason. Misty simply refused to quit. Nothing more. Nothing less.

The man with the club sneered as he stood over her and hefted his weapon up high. Misty slowly began to move a trench knife into position to block it. The Rocket let out a snort of derisive laughter.

And then he was gone.

For a moment Misty saw a grey shape with arms floating in front of her.

Onix roared, Geodude bellowed, and Brock charged silently. The three remaining Grunts were quickly overwhelmed, blood and guts splattered all over living stone and metal mace. The pokémon that were fighting Staryu, Starmie, and Bulbasaur took one look at the carnage and then turned tail and ran.

"You okay?" Brock asked Misty, kneeling beside her. He slung one of her arms over his shoulder and helped her to her feet.

"Misty? You there?" He asked concerned.

"Yeah. But... the cabin... a group..."

Dammit. They had failed.

What! Bulbasaur yelled as he felt his heart shatter. No! Melanie!

He had failed her. His best friend and he had failed her. And the hatchlings too.

Hot tears filled the eyes of the plant-type. Little oddish would be gone. She would be whipped, beaten, and broken by Rocket trainers, and then trained with the most brutal methods in order to become nothing more than a tool for those evil men. Or she would be given to the Rocket scientists, to whom ethics and empathy were a joke.

Fuck it. Fuck it. Dammit. Dammit. Arceus damn mother fuckers! Give them back!

A wild storm of painful emotions swirled inside of him. His insides felt like they had been thrashed with a running lawnmower even as red hot rage exploded from his mouth in the form of his shouted curses. Wild panic and dread ran through his legs like lightning, making him run to the cabin.

Honestly, he would have rather died during the battle and remain ignorant of their fates.

He knew what he would see. A nearly empty building, a couple of inner doors hanging forlornly off of their hinges, cooking and medical supplies strewn everywhere, a battered and bloody blue haired body staring lifelessly up at a blood stained ceiling...

Arceus no! Please Arceus...

Please...

Bulbasaur reached the door and ripped it open with a vine. He could hear voices.

"No, keep your feet flat. See, like this."

"Won't sitting like this make my feet fall asleep?"

"You'll need to be sitting like that then. By the way, did you hear the door open earlier?"

"Yeah, but Butterfree would've warned us if it was more Rockets. Can I have some tea now?"

It's just Bulbasaur.

Oh. I wonder how he did out there?

Inside the cabin lay piles of sleeping men and pokémon. They occasionally twitched and mumbled as Bulbasaur walked over them. He didn't care. He was too busy staring at the sight at the end of the hallway.

Melanie sat at a low table, pouring tea into a cup. Behind the table were the hatchlings, talking excitedly among themselves, Pikachu keeping a watchful eye on them. They were all still alive. Bulbasaur looked at the other end of the table.

Sitting uncomfortably in a seiza and waiting for a cup of tea was Ash Ketchum.

No other human had made Bulbasaur happier than he was in that moment.

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