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


18. 18

Ash noticed that Kanto seemed to be having an impossible streak of nice and sunny days. For, once more, the sky was blue, the sun was bright, and the air was saturated with heat and moisture. Down in the harbor, he could feel the sea's characteristic salty breeze play across his face as he and his friend's searched for the SS Anne.

"These ships are absolutely gorgeous," Misty gushed, as they walked by ocean liners, cruise ships, and all sorts of vessels.

"I know," Brock commented. "I can't believe that we're getting to take a voyage on one of these! Just think of all the pokémon we'll see. How long is the cruise supposed to be again Aaron?"

Ash looked down at his tickets and the invitation. They said that he and two guests were invited on the SS Anne for a week long cruise. He still had no idea why he had been given these tickets. Ash voiced his thoughts.

"From what I've heard you were the only trainer to get a badge from Surge for the last couple weeks, and the SS Anne typically hosts established trainers and up and coming trainers. It would make sense that you caught their eye." Brock told Aaron. "But quit worrying about this. Accept good fortune as it comes!"

"This is going to be fun," Misty said dreamily. "Sunbathing on the deck..." She could see it now, lounging around in her red bikini while a certain someone fanned her with a palm leaf and occasionally fed her grapes.

"Is that it?" Ash asked, pointing at a ship where there was a crowd of people boarding. It was a long white ship, with layered green and brown decks, a triangular layered prow and a rounded bow, with spearhead shaped decks. A single fin like, red and black edged steam stack rose from the forward part of the middle.

"Yep. See the name's on the side," Brock said, pointing to a spot on the hull where the worlds 'SS Anne' were written. Ash wondered how he missed that, as the group changed course to get on the ship.

Yes! Surrounded by water pokémon! Easy experience! Piakchu crowed from his stop on the back of Ash's head.

Ash was sorely tempted to ask him why fighting pokémon that were weak against his type would be 'easy experience' when the fights would be short and one sided. But he couldn't in the presence of his two human companions.

Besides couldn't he get enough experience from the training spars, fights with other trainers, and gym battles? Why did he want to go fight wild pokémon as well?

Head filled with those questions Ash Ketchum, called Aaron Autumns, followed Brock and Misty's lead in boarding the boat.

In an old abandoned lighthouse Jessie, James, and Meowth put the finishing touches on their plan.

"Alright, since we can't make the apparatus both insulated against electricity and fire proof, we'll stick with fire proof," James said to his compatriots. "Same goes for the shield."

"Makes sense, we prevented all the trainers with strong electric types from getting their invitations. It would just be asking for trouble, dealing with them out in the ocean," Jessie said, leaning against a dusty old wall, thinking of the invitation list that they had spent hours pondering over. "And we made sure the twerp isn't coming."

Everybody nodded, thinking that one of the other two saw to that.

"Jessie, you made the hors d'oeuvres, right?" James asked.

"Already on the ship," the red haired criminal replied, pleased with herself.

"And you made sure the power-point will work with the SS Anne's projectors?" Meowth said to James.

James nodded.

"Did it after getting the contraptions to get the trainers and their pokémon to settle down," he told the scratch cat pokémon. "This is gonna be our best operation yet!"

"All those young trainers, and strong trainers, after we've had a chance to convince them, they'll all join Team Rocket!" Jessie said, clasping her hands together in glee. "And then, after that, we recruit the twerp. I just can't wait!"

She burst into a fight of high class, ladylike, ominous laughter. Meowth and James joined in with their own variations of evil laughter.

"This is cool!" Ash Ketchum exclaimed.

Inside the SS Anne, what looked like a large pokémon convention was in full swing. There were booths selling costumes, specialty pokéballs, tee shirts, showcasing upcoming Sliph Co. products, rooms where breeders were giving speeches, pokémon medical specialists giving talks, and high ranking gym trainers giving tips. People were comparing their pokémon (Ash thought that his were better than any of theirs) and swapping tales. Food was being fried, carnival foods, exotic foods in the shapes of various pokémon were being sold, and people were stuffing their faces.

"Oh, Ken Watanabe is giving a lecture on cross type move inheritance!" Brock said, looking over a time table.

"Sally's here, giving a demonstration on moves developed by our gym," Misty told the other two, looking over Brock's shoulder at the piece of paper. "We should go say hi."

"They've got events all week. Including a tournament for all trainers who've been in the Indigo Conference." Brock turned to the other two. "This is going to be a great week."

Ash was excited, but he hoped there was an empty stop to hide away somewhere on the ship. He didn't know if he could spend a week surrounded by so many people. If nothing else, it would be terrible to go that long without talking to his pokémon.

Speaking of pokémon, some movement, separate from the crowd, caught the pokéraised child eye. It was a starmie and a raticate fighting in a raised arena.

Streams of water impacted against reinforced plexiglass as the starmie attempted to hit the bounding raticate. Its attempts were futile and the raticate sped in, catching the core of the water type between its large fangs. Cracks spread throughout the jewel and the starmie went limp.

"Good match," a monocle and top hat wearing man told his opponent, a kid in a green-blue shirt. The kid called his starmie back and then both humans walked to the center of the arena to shake hands.

After the boy had departed, the gentleman turned to the crowd.

"Does anyone else feel like stepping up?" He called out. "Anybody feel like they can match Raticate!"

Ash responded on instinct.

"My Butterfree can," the trainer from the wild areas around Pallet Town replied, making his way through the crowd to the arena.

"Very well then young man," the gentleman said, bowing as Ash climbed onto the trainer's spot on the other end. "Then let us begin."

"Go Butterfree!" Ash shouted, throwing the pokéball. White energy coalesced into the butterfly pokémon, hovering in front of Ash.

I'll do my best! Butterfree declared.

You'll be fun to fight, Raticate said to Butterfree.

"High Jump Kick!" Ordered the monocled man.

"Sleep Powder Dispersal!" Ash ordered at the same time.

Butterfree flew up, dodging Raticate's kick, and spiraled above the arena, releasing a burst of glittering powder. As it fell it dispersed in the air.

"While you'll cover more area, you won't be able to get a high enough concentration of powder on your opponent if you release from that height," said the gentleman.

"Oh, I know. Butterfree, Powder Gather!"

Buitterfree reared back its head, gathering its focus to use its psychic powers. A gentle ring of force gathered the powder that was falling all around Raticate to no effect, and pushed it all at the fanged pokémon.

"Dodge!" The gentleman told his pokémon, seeing the danger. Raticate obeyed, noticing the oncoming powder as he jumped out of the rapidly shrinking glittering ring.

"Tackle!" Ash responded. Butterfree sped down at the rising Raticate. But before Butterfree could connect, Raticate flipped in mid air and hit Ash's pokémon on the head with its worm like tail.

Ouch! Butterfree exclaimed, struggling to regain control of his flight.

"Super Fang!" Raticate leapt at the struggling Butterfree. Butterfree quit trying to fly and dropped to the ground, Raticate flying right over it. The rat like pokémon landed on the other side of the arena and turned to face his downed opponent.

"Agility and Super Fang again!" The gentleman instructed his pokémon. Raticate turned into a brown and white blur and disappeared from sight.

"Confusion everywhere!" Ash countered.

Butterfree instantly reacted to his trainer's command, taking a fraction of an instant to gather his focus and then radiated waves of telekinetic and telepathic force from his body.

The waves slammed into the speeding Raticate, who had launched himself at Butterfree's side. His own speed betrayed him during the initial impact as he hit Butterfree's attack, adding to the damage, slowing him down until he crashed on the floor next to Butterfree. The telepathic force battered his mind, already dazed from the physical force, and knocked him out.

"Well, congratulations young trainer. You are victorious." The gentleman gave another little bow, which Ash clumsily returned.

"Great job Butterfree," Ash said happily. "You were wonderful."

Thanks Ash! I told you I'd do my best. The happy bug type trilled.

Ash smiled and then called Butterfree back.

"Good job Aaron," Brock congratulated the younger boy as he returned to the group.

"Butterfree's really improving with his psychic abilities, isn't he," commented Misty. "Been training those?"

"Yep," replied Aaron proudly, puffing up. He looked around, seeking other battles or event to participate in.

"Hey, there's a free buffet in ten minutes about three decks above us," Brock said, once more reading the time table. He looked up. The former gym leader could have sworn he could Aaron's ears twitching.

"Free... food..." Aaron's head slowly turned to look at Brock. The boy rushed over to Brock, Pikachu hanging onto the back of his head for dear life, and snatched the time table out of Brock's hand.

"I'll meet you guys there!" The young trainer called out as he sped through the crowd, looking for the nearest staircase.

Brock and Misty just stared. And then they looked at each other.

"That was..." Misty searched for the world.

"Weird. Let's go make sure he doesn't make a scene."

"Pamphlet cannon?" Meowth read off the list.

"Check." Jessie answered.

"Pokeball identification and suction device?"

"Check," James answered, looking at some readouts on an electronic screen.



"Sleeping gas grenades, grenade launchers, and we remembered to change the sprinklers into gas emitters?"




"Buffet is ready?"

"Check." Jessie said, hefting her weapons. Behind her, Ekans sat coiled, waiting for the operation to start.

"And that should be everything," Meowth said, putting down the list. "We wait until everybody's at the buffet and then we pounce!"

Food! Food! Everywhere! And he didn't have to pay!

It was a large room, with chandlers hanging overhead. The buffet tables were near the back and there was a stage near the front. It wasn't carpeted and some of the tables had folding chairs. Large red curtains hung in front of the stage.

But most importantly, it was filled with food!

Ash rubbed his hands together gleefully, making sure the drool collecting in his mouth stayed there. He started to run for some plates, but Pikachu gave him an electric shock.

Manners! Get in line and wait to get a plate and then your food. The electric rodent scolded his singed trainer. Ash nodded glumly and then went to the end of the line.

And when Brock and Misty arrived, that's how they found their friend, patiently waiting in line, Pikachu standing on his shoulder and tersely tapping his foot.

"From your little 'episode' below, we thought that we'd find you face first in the buffet tables," Misty commented, amused.

And he would have been if not for me. Pikachu glared at Ash.

"I'm just hungry," Ash replied. He had been raised in the wild, where he had never had an opportunity to gorge himself to his heart's content. A free buffet, probably all you can eat, was far too good to pass up or not get excited about.

Misty and Brock got in line as well and Pikachu directed Ash through the buffet line, using his time in the city and watching T.V. at the appliance shop to tell Ash when he had put enough on his plate.

Only animated characters put more on their plate, he told his disappointed trainer. So I'm guessing that it would be rude for you to have more. If you're still hungry after this, just go get seconds.

Ash sat down at an empty table and started to eat. While he was doing so, the man he had battled earlier stopped by, a well dressed woman on his arm.

"Well hello there young man," the gentleman said. Ash, for the first time, noticed that he had an odd accent. "I was just telling my fiancée here about our battle."

"He kept going on and on about it," the woman drawled in the same accent.

"I was wondering, is that Butterfree of yours looking to settle down anytime soon?" Asked the gentleman. "Because if he's rearing to do so, Raticate has indicated that he'd like to continue roaming, and I say a trade would be in order."

"Sorry, Butterfree wants to stick with me," Ash replied.

Don't reach for any food until the conversation's over, Pikachu warned.

"That's a mighty shame," the gentleman sighed. "We've only got so much time before the wedding and I'll be forced to stay home for an extended time. It's a great place for all sorts of pokémon, just not Raticate."

"I'll tell anybody looking to trade to go to you," Ash told the man.

"Much appreciated young man. What's your name?"

"Aaron Autumns."

"John Sutherland. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I'll leave you to your meal young man." With a tip of his hat, the gentleman and his fiancée left.

Ash returned to his food, eagerly digging in, only remembering to use the proper utensils because of Pikachu's glare. Brock and Misty soon joined him.

"I can't believe how crowded it is," commented the red haired trainer. "It's almost like every trainer on board is down here right now."

"I wonder who's catering this thing," Brock muttered between munches. He started scanning the information pamphlet. "Ever hear of the JJM catering service?"

"Nope." Misty replied, enjoying a meat dish. "But they do great work."

Pikachu sniffed curiously at the food, and then sat straight up, ignoring Ash's surprised and curious look. The electric rodent stood on his hind legs, looking around and sniffing.

"Pikachu what's wrong?" Ash asked.

I know that smell.

High class and lady like evil laughter rang out in the buffet room. Two other voices joined in, both male. The entrance to the room was suddenly closed, bulkheads cutting everyone inside off from the rest of the ship.

"Prepare for trouble!" Ash, Misty, and Brock immediately prepared, grabbing their pokéballs and looking around for Jessie.

"And make it double!" Mist began to creep out from under the curtain.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!"

The curtain began to rise, revealing a two shadowy figures standing back to back. One held a rose in their hand and had their face in the flower.

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

"Jessie!" The mist was blown away by a burst from the giant fans hidden backstage.


"Team Rocket blasts off at the speed of light!"

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth that's right!"

At the words 'Team Rocket' every trainer had grabbed their pokéballs and started to release their pokémon.

"Un-un-un," Jessie scolded, wagging her finger. "Not right now!" James hit a series of buttons. A wall constructed of some sort of clear material dropped down in front of them. Streams of water, blasts of fire, streams of sharp leaves, assaults by vines, and even a small Hyper Beam broke upon it.

"Behave or we'll take those away from you," James shouted, referring to the trainers' pokéballs.

Ash noticed some small electric attacks hitting the barrier and marring it slightly. Pikachu might be able to break it, but Team Rocket would have some sort of counter measure...

Both he and Misty turned to Brock.

"Plan?" Misty asked.

"Too crowded for Onix. I'll have to use Geodude. Misty have Staryu and Starmie concentrate on breaking through at a single point. Geodude will attack that point once you're finished. Aaron, I hate to ask this off you, but could you be a distraction? Go up there, grab their attention and don't let them catch on to what we're up to." Misty and Aaron nodded.

"Go Geodude!"

"Go Staryu! Go Starmie!" White light blazed and three pokémon floated before them.

"You two use Water Drill on a spot in the top right corner," Misty ordered as the other trainers futile assault continued. Her pokémon nodded their top arm in acknowledgement and then flew off

"Geodude break on through when they're done!" Brock told his pokémon. Geodude nodded and sped off after them.

Ash and Pikachu dashed to the front of the crowd, weaving between attack pokémon and people. He skidded to a stop in an empty area right in front of the stage.

Their plan was working perfectly! The shield was keeping the trainers and pokémon distracted from the sleeping gas slowly working its way down from the chandler. And when the trainers did notice, Jessie could open up with the sleep grenades to finish them off, and James with the pamphlet cannon to give them something to read before they fell asleep and woke up in the auditorium.

Yes, Jessie, James, and Meowth thought to themselves, nothing could go wro-

"Hey! Good guys!"


It was the twerp and his pikachu!

"I thought you made sure he wasn't coming!" Jessie hissed to James.

"I thought Meowth had it," James protested.

"I was sure Jessie said that she had it," was Meowth's panicked reply.

"We're fucked!" They cried out in unison.

"Pikachu, Thunder!" Yellow power blazed and the arcing column of electricity slammed into the barrier, the remnants of the water attacks carrying the current everywhere. Pikachu stopped the attack from flowing through the streams of water that Misty's pokémon were emitting, but, other than that, he let the attack run wild.

Crackling yellow tendrils played all over the surface, warping and melting the places they touched. The entire barrier began to shiver, then shake, and finally warp. Sparks jumped off the top and flew into the descending gas.

The gas was an invention of James. He had been looking for a non-flammable version of the standard Team Rocket sleeping gas and had achieved it. Unless the fire attack ignited the air itself Jame's gas wouldn't light. However there was an odd quirk. Electrical current of a certain strength would ignite it.

For a moment nothing happened. And then a fiery flower bloomed overhead, sending a wave of hot air downward. People and pokémon hit the deck to avoid being scorched. It was also the final straw for the beaten barrier. It shattered into hundreds of pieces that fell to the ground.

Jame's had secretly re-wired the ship in order to install the equipment necessary for the plan. In doing so he had to remove some safeguards, such as a few critical surge protectors. After their plan had been carried out, the SS Anne was supposed to immediately return to port instead of continuing on its original course, minimizing the danger of the missing protectors. It was supposed to have been relatively safe.

And Ash wasn't supposed to be on board.

The ship rocked as scattered explosions bloomed. Klaxons and alarms blared. Meowth, James, and Jessie stumbled backward and then vanished backstage.

"Staryu, Starmie, return!" Misty called out, holding up both pokéballs. Two beams of red light shot out and the pokémon were recalled. Brock follwed suit with Geodude.

Emergency protocols activated and the bulkheads opened. Everyone started streaming out and the captain's voice sounded out over the intercom.

"This is not a drill. All hands evacuate. Assist the passengers in boarding the life boats and then abandon ship. Life boats are on deck two; please make your way there in a calm and orderly fashion. I repeat this is not a drill."

All the trainers who had been trapped inside started streaming out, racing for the decks. Brock and Misty shoved their way through the crowd, trying to reach Ash, who was climbing up on the stage.

"Aaron!" Brock shouted angrily. "Get down from there. We've got to get out of here!"

"But we can catch them!" Ash protested. "It's the perfect opportunity!"

They aren't escaping this time! Pikachu growled from Ash's shoulder.

They hadn't been expecting him. If he could defeat them here...

Then the fear that had been lurking in the back of his mind since the encounter in the Viridian forest would finally go away. Knock them out and then turn them over to the police. Ash didn't think that they knew his last name and no cop would believe their claims about him being able to speak to pokémon.

"The ship is sinking! There isn't any time!" The former Pewter City gym leader cried out, starting to advance on Ash. Misty followed close behind.

Ash shook his head and finished clambering onto the stage, eager to begin the pursuit. Brock swore and started after him, as the room emptied.

And then an explosion burst through the floor, sending the three humans and one Pikachu flying, tumbling head over heels, until everything went dar-

Pikachu came to in an upside-down hallway covered by an inch of water and rising.

Ash! The pokémon called out, looking around for his trainer, but the human was nowhere to be seen.

Ouch... Pikachu rubbed the back of his head, noticing the small lump there. What had happened?

Right, the floor blew up.

It didn't matter; he just needed to find Ash. The electric rodent stood on his hind legs and sniffed the air. He couldn't find Ash's scent, but he could pick up Brock and Misty's. They would be looking for Ash as well and neither had mammalian pokémon that could sniff him out. Well, maybe Zubat, but Pikachu wouldn't trust that pokémon' senses in the current situation.

Pikachu took off, scrambling over debris, squeezing through rubble and navigation other obstacles on his way to join the duo. Occasionally he had to swim through rooms and hallways that were filling with water.

He found the two squeezing through a gap between the ceiling and a large pile of wreckage. Pikachu ran up the other side, stood on his hind legs before them, and raised a forepaw in greeting.

Hello, he said.

"Pikachu," Misty exclaimed, delighted by the electric pokémon's sudden appearance. She wiggled a bit and forced herself through the small space. She looked around.

"Where's Aaron? Isn't he with you?"

Pikachu reminded himself that she couldn't understand him and shook his head.

"Do you know where he is?"

Another shake.

"Dammit Aaron," she swore.

"If the idiot had listened to me and run..." Brock growled.

Pikachu frowned. He was the one who called Ash and idiot, not the gym leader.

"Did you see any way out on your way here?" Brock asked Pikachu. Pikachu shook his head. Brock sighed.

"We need to identify a way out before we search for Aaron," Brock said, rubbing his chin. "We can look for him on the way out."

"We also need to ascertain the state of the ship," Misty added. "So we know how much time we've got and how safe it would be to simply punch through the hull."

"Good thinking," Brock replied. "Pikachu you need to stick with us. You're the only one who can sniff Aaron out."

Pikachu nodded resigned. He had figured that something like this would happen.

Misty picked Pikachu up and hugged him to her chest. He snuggled into the softness and the warmth to help offset his anxiety concerning Ash that was gnawing on his insides. Idiot, getting himself lost like that.

"I don't know how we got this separated," Brock began, "but we should have ended up on the same floor..."

"Unless another explosion opened up another hole," Misty pointed out. "And if there was water there, Pikachu might not be able to track him."

Neither one of them brought up the obvious possibility that Aaron could be dead. Pikachu was thankful for that.

They continued down the hallway and had Pikachu point out the way he had come from, so they could avoid it. Brock had Geodude rearrange some wreckage so the humans could get through. Occasionally they asked Pikachu if he could smell Aaron/Ash, but the electric type never could.

Brock broke down a door and they entered another hallway, looking for a staircase or a viewport. This one had a hole melted through it. Brock knelt down to examine the edges.

"Acid," he commented without touching. "Team Rocket went this way. Pikachu, can you smell Aaron at all?"

Pikachu sampled the air and shook his head. He could only smell Team Rocket.

"Arcues damn idiot," Brock muttered. "Headstrong fool." The young man's fist tightened to the point of pain.

"He's not so bad..."

"He charged into a battle that was way over his head, could have gotten us all killed, and now he charged after Team Rocket and got us into this situation," Brock replied angrily.

"He's young-"

"Only a year or so younger than yourself."

"- and most trainers don't have to deal with multiple encounters with Team Rocket in their first couple months. And he at least thought his actions at the village through, no matter how ill advised they were," Misty protested. "And the Rockets here have been stalking them for who knows how long? And we had the first good chance to capture them..."

"It wasn't a good chance to capture them," Brock retorted. "A good chance to capture them wouldn't include risking your life by staying on a sinking ship."

"He's inexperienced, not an idiot," Misty returned.

"If he was merely inexperienced he would have known to listen to us and run away. But no, he goes chasing dangerous criminals through explosions..."

"Alright he's an idiot," Misty admitted. "But still not as bad as you're making him out to be."

Hey! Everyone at the village needed our help, protested Pikachu. And those Rockets know his secret. Maybe secrets plural.

"See, Pikachu agrees with me," Misty said.

Yes, Ash is an idiot.

"He's Aaron's pokémon. He's supposed to be loyal and respect his trainer-"

I'm supposed to respect him? That's news.

"- and for all you know he was agreeing with me."

"Nah uh."

"Ya uh."

"Nah uh."

"Ya uh."

"Nah uh."

"Ya uh."

Quit bickering, I found the scent, Pikachu spoke up as they came to the corner. He wiggled out of Misty's grip and scrambled down the hallway and around the corner. Brock and Misty followed to find him on his hind legs pointing to the upside down ruins of a stair way.

"So he's alive," Brock gave a small sigh of relief. "And he's heading towards the hull... what's he planning?"

"Probably to punch his way through and then hang on to Squirtle," Misty suggested.

"Without Pikachu?"


"Maybe he thinks we'd be heading up there as well," Misty replied.

"Why? There could be a lot of other places to get out."

"He might not know that. But we can ask him when we find him. We need to find a way up-down?- these stairs."

"I've got an idea." Brock was reaching for a pokéball...

"I thought you were going to use Onix." Misty rubbed her arms briefly. "Have him be a living staircase instead of having Geodude haul us up."

"Couldn't risk bringing Onix out here. Not only does he really hate water, I don't know how fragile the ship is currently. Don't want to break it up." Brock replied.

Pikachu pulled on the former gym leader's pant leg.

He went this way, come on. Pikachu was nearly jumping up and down from his impatience to find Ash.

"Alright, alright, hold your horses." Brock sighed. Misty knelt down and picked up the yellow pokémon once more. Pikachu tugged on her shirt and pointed.

"We know, we want to find your trainer as well," the red haired trainer whispered in his ear. Pikachu nodded and then resumed pointing.

The group followed the scent trail through a couple more hallways, using Geodude to clear some debris so Brock could get through and then found themselves at another staircase, this one filled with water. Pikachu smelled the trail going into the water and indicated this to his human companions.

"I got this." Misty grabbed a pokéball. "Go Goldeen!"

White energy blazed and Goldeen appeared in the water.

I hate it when you call me out when there's nobody to fight, the water type complained, swimming in little circles.

"Goldeen, can you find the route through?" Misty didn't ask the pokémon to make sure there was a route through. There had to be otherwise...

Goldeen nodded and dove under the water.

About a minute later she resurfaced.

"Did you find a way?" Goldeen nodded in response to her trainer's question. "Can we use it?" Another nod.

"Brock, Pikachu, you guys ready?" Misty asked the other two. Both human and pokémon nodded.

"Wait, Brock, got any rope?" Brock nodded and reached into his backpack, pulling out a length of rope. Misty tied it around her waist, and let a good long portion trail behind her.

"Go Starmie!" Light blazed and the purple water type pokémon waited in the water.

"Alright you two," Misty said. "Grab onto the rope and don't let go."

Brock and Pikachu followed her instructions. Misty jumped in the water and grabbed hold of Starmie.

"Goldeen, show Starmie the way out. Starmie, follow her." Both of her pokémon nodded. Goldeen dived and Starmie followed a second later, pulling Misty along. Brock and Pikachu jumped in the water as soon as there was room and were then towed along.

Half a minute later everybody resurfaced in another part of the ship. They crawled out of the hole in the ceiling of what appeared to be a third class bunk, the humans and Pikachu gasping for air. They sat on the ceiling for a minute, catching their breaths.

Pikachu sniffed around. Ash had been there. That was good; it meant they didn't have to search for another route through the water. Although they could have had Goldeen take Pikachu alone to see if Ash had been there. Pikachu wondered why they hadn't done that. He trusted the two, he was just curious as to their reasons.

This way! He went this way! Once more Pikachu tugged on Brock's pant leg and pointed. Misty scooped him up and they continued after Ash. They left the room and found themselves in a hallway with view-ports all along one wall. Misty rushed over to the nearest one in order to ascertain the state of the ship.

A magikarp swam by and looked in the window, curious as to what was going on. As Misty watched the orange pokémon slowly drifted upward. Correction, the ship slowly sank.

"Capsized and sinking. Great. Brock, could you use Zubat to see if there's anyone but Aaron and us left on the ship?" Misty asked the rock type specialist.

"No way. All the water and stuff would screw with his echolocation." Brock replied.

"Dammit. We'll just have to see if we run into anybody else on our way out. We'll also need to reach Aaron before he decides to punch through the hull."

"Do you know where it's thinnest?"

Misty thought for a moment.

"I think it's by the engine room, in order to dump heat more efficiently. It doesn't matter. We need to get out of here before we reach a dangerous depth." Misty put Pikachu down.

"Pikachu, run," Brock told the electric pokémon. "We'll keep up."

Only if I slow down, Pikachu replied. He scampered off, chasing down Ash's trail.

It was a long journey through the capsized and sinking SS Anne. They had to crawl up upside down stair cases, swim through submerged hallways, and avoid impaling themselves on broken railings and the like. All throughout the journey the only sign of Ash was his scent.

Finally they ended up on the lower decks and then the engine room. Fires burned everywhere in the large metal expanse that was the engine room, machinery scattered all over, and the engines themselves were blacken and bent, from the change in the orientation of gravity and the feedback from Pikachu's attack. A broken walkway extended above them for a short distance. Ash's scent led through the empty space to the doorway on the other side, and Pikachu could smell both Bulbasaur's scent and Butterfree's.

He pointed to the door across the room.

"How are we going to get across?" Misty asked, surveying the area.

"I've got an idea. Go Geodude!" Brock released his pokémon once more.

What do you need me to do? Brock's pokémon asked his trainer.

"I need you to make us a series of handholds and footholds," ordered the trainer from Pewter City. "Make sure both Misty and I can use them."

Gotcha boss. Geodue moved to the right and punched the wall a couple of times, creating an indent for the humans to grab. He then went low and repeated the processes, creating a slightly different shaped indent for them to put their foot in. He continued the process, edging his way over to the other wall and across the room.

Pikachu climbed onto Misty's head and then the two trainers began to follow Geodude, using the indents to cling onto the wall. It was a grueling process, they occasionally had to wait for Geodude, and they were both slick with sweat before it was over. The walls were uncomfortably warm to the touch and were growing worse, heated by the fires below. It was a huge relief when they finally reached the other side.

Brock called Geodude back right away and then they continued. There was one more utility hallway and then another empty room. Well almost empty. There was a human and a couple pokémon in there, staring at a hole in the floor that led to the bare metal hull.

Ash! The human turned around at Pikachu's delighted cry and managed to catch his speeding yellow pokémon.

"Pikachu!" Ash hugged the pokémon close. "I was worried about you. Where were you? I was about to give everybody a plan to get out if I didn't make it back in time and go look for you."

Actually he was arguing with us, trying to convince us to get ready to leave without him, Bulbasaur interjected. But we wouldn't hear of it.

"Aaron!" Brock shouted angrily. "What the hell were you thinking!"


"I told you to get out of there, but you didn't listen and look where we ended up!"

"Eh, sorry?" Ash said meekly, rubbing the back of his head. "I honestly thought that it would take less than a minute to catch them."

"And then how would we restrain them? They're both experts at hand to hand combat!" Brock tore into Aaron. "And what about getting them to the lifeboats? Unless you were willing to kill them?"

"No, I didn't think about that! But it's not like you knew that the floor would blow up!" Aaron protested. "But can't this wait?

"Fine, but once we get to land we're going to have a long talk." Brock growled.

"Aaron, you're an idiot," Misty said and left it at that. She then looked at the hole and through it the hull. "Are we both thinking the same thing?"

As Ash and Misty talked, Pikachu wandered over to the rest of Ash's pokémon.

Why'd he decide to come here? The electric pokémon asked the group.

I told him to, Squirtle replied. It's a good place to get out of the ship.

Why'd you do that? I didn't think you had much experience with sinking ships or the ocean.

I got an... anonymous tip.

What does that mean?

I mean I got a tip from some people who've proven themselves talented, who didn't want any conflict, and who want Ash alive.

YOU T-! Squirtle covered Pikachu's mouth with his forepaw.

Yes, I took directions from Team Rocket. They stopped by while Ash was unconscious. They gave me the directions and then left, if they wanted to do something to him they could've done it then and we wouldn't have been able to beat them without Ash's help.

"Alright, you hang onto Squirtle, I'll hang onto Staryu, and Brock'll hang onto Starmie." Misty said. "Just follow me."

"How are we going to break through?" Ash asked.

"I think it's a good time to use Onix," Brock answered, reaching for Onix's pokéball.

"Give us a second," Misty told the former gym leader. "Do you have more rope?"

Brock took out three bundles of rope and handed them to Misty. She tied one around her waist and to Staryu and instructed Brock and Ash to do the same with the pokémon they would be using. They did so.

"Alright, now you can use Onix," Misty told Brock.

"Go Onix!" With a ship shaking roar the stone serpent appeared before them. Ash took the opportunity to recall all of his pokémon except Pikachu and Squirlte

"Onix, there will be a lot of water involved," Brock began. Onix shied away fearfully. "But I'll return you right away. I just need you to break open the hull over there. Can you do that?"

Only if you make sure to return me right away, the rock type replied hesitantly. He nodded to Brock and then turned to the hole. Onix reared back and then struck forward, smashing through the exposed hull. Red light blazed and he was sucked back into his pokéball just as the water began to flood in.

"Hold your breath everybody!" Misty shout. "Starmie, Staryu, Squirtle! Get going!"

The three water types surged up the onrushing water, pulling their human passengers plus Pikachu along. It took a couple of seconds to get through the opening as they struggled against the current. But when they got through, the humans found themselves in a world dyed blue. The water felt uncomfortable but the pressure wasn't unbearable. It was fortunate that the SS Anne hadn't sunk very far yet, the trapped air giving her a little bit of extra buoyancy.

A couple of magikarp swam by as the group ascended. Brock and Ash noticed them through their discomfort; both were finding it difficult to continue holding their breath. Misty had no such trouble, she had been trained for worse.

With a small splash everyone surfaced. Brock and Ash gasped for air while Misty looked around.

"Alright, I can make out some land from here," she told the other two. "Starmie, Squirtle, make sure to follow me."

Alright Misty, Starmie replied.

If it'll help the boss, Squirtle responded.

"After this I want a real vacation," Brock gasped. "Something without Team Rocket please. Lots of pretty women. Maybe a Jenny or Joy convention."

"What is with you and older women?" Misty asked. "It's a bit creepy. And wouldn't it be statutory rape on their part?"

"The age of consent in Pewter City is fifteen," Brock responded, "and I'm sixteen, almost seventeen. Most Joys and Jenny's are only a couple of years older."

"Really? I thought you were younger. I guess you must really be in touch with your inner child."

Ash didn't butt in to the conversation. If they were busy bickering Brock might forget to yell at him later.

And so they made their way back to land.

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