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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"Alright, I think we've been here long enough," Brock said, grabbing Eve's arm. "As soon as the ground's stable we're going."

The roaring grew in intensity, filling the air around them, until they could feel the vibrations tingle in the soles of their feet. Bits of dust were shaken off of the roof by the quaking of the ruins and fell in streams around the room.

"Screw waiting," Eve shouted over the din . "I don't want to meet what's making that noise."

"Not a bad idea," Misty agreed, clutching the egg to her chest. "Let's get going!"

Brock shrugged.

The trio stumbled across the room, swaying and tilting like the stupidly inebriated. They burst into the hallway, scrambling towards the exit.

Just before they reached it the quaking ceased and with it the roar.

Misty and Brock glanced at each other.

"That's never a good sign," Brock stated.

"Pokéballs out?" Misty said, reaching into her backpack.

"Pokéballs out," Brock agreed, reaching for his own.

They burst out of the temple and back into the ancient city. Brock and Misty looked around frantically, searching for the source of the roaring. Eve keep her eyes on the exit.

"Come on," the archaeologist shouted, tugging on the trainers' arms. The trio moved, running down the street, Misty still clutching the egg to her chest. The archaeological trapping that had formerly covered the ruins had been scattered and torn by the quake. More loose stones had been scattered about and the shaking had torn off more chunks of masonry from the aged structures. Brock, Misty, and Eve scrambled over the new obstacles and dashed for the exit.

Before they could get out, they were interrupted by the source of the roaring.

Out of nowhere a pokémon dropped in front of them.

Gray stony skin. Purple wing flaps. A bulbous stomach. Two horns on the back of the head. A cruel beak over a toothed under jaw. A devil's tail.

It was a pokémon rarely seen in the modern days. Aerodactyl. The prehistoric pokémon of the skies.

Brock stared at the pokémon, hands curling around pokéballs, muscles starting to quiver. He took a step forward, corners of his mouth turning upward.

"Misty, take Eve, and find another exit," he said, eyes locked with the aerodactyl's. "I've got this."

Misty took one look at Brock, grinned, and grabbed Eve's hand.

"Do you know of any other ways out?" The red head asked the archaeologist.

"W-we found a couple of exits in the back," Eve answered. "We might be able to get out through there, but it's largely unexplored."

"Alright, are they hidden?" Brock asked, slowly backing up.

"No," Eve replied shakily.

"You two take one of the exits and I'll try to take the other," Brock said. "You should leave now."

Misty nodded, and tugged Eve towards the rear exits.

Thou shalt not exit from this place, the aerodactyl growled and then he roared.

Fellow guardians, attack!

There was the sound of beating wings and more pokémon streamed into the city. Blue and white flying types that Misty recognized as wingulls, and another flying type, green with white wings, with red, gold, and black markings over their bodies. They were xatu, though Misty was ignorant of their name.

"Why did it have to be flying types," Misty muttered through gritted teeth, pulling on Eve's arm and drawing them both into a run. "Let's get to that exit!"

The pokémon streamed over Brock and the aerodactyl and after the two fleeing women. Brock looked away, trying to check up on the other humans. Swift as a snake, the aerodactyl lunged forward, jaws snapping shut just short of Brock's arm.

Brock jumped backward and threw a pokéballs. White light blazed. Geodude bellowed, standing between Brock and the prehistoric menace.

The aerodactyl roared back in challenge.

"What is it about flying type flocks making a good source of pokémon minions," Misty asked the world as she and Eve ducked through a doorway.

"They do?" Eve said, looking over their shoulder.

"Well, this is the second time a powerful pokémon has sicced a flock of smaller flying types on me," Misty replied, leading the two through a hole in the old stone walls. "I'm wondering if this is just something that happens or if flying types just don't like me."

"I thought they were only attacking us en masse because that other pokémon ordered them too," Eve responded as they passed through the hole.

"And how do you figure that?" Misty asked, before sprinting into the street.

"Well they didn't attack until it roared," Eve answered. Misty shrugged and threw her pokéballs.

"Go Starmie! Go Staryu!" There was a blaze of white light and the two water type pokémon were out. "Staryu, cover us with Ice Beam! Starmie, use Ice Beam on anything that gets past Staryu!"

White-blue light shone from a beam, tendrils of cold power spiraling around it. The flock broke apart as the beam lanced into, hitting only a xatu that was too slow. It fell to the ground with the sound of cracking ice.

"Come on," Misty ordered, dragging Eve forward. "Starmie, Staryu stick with us!"

Ice cracked, beams flashed, and flying types attacked. Blasts of water impacted around the fleeing humans, slices of air cut around and behind them, and cawing wingulls tried to swoop in. Staryu and Starmie countered and counterattacked, preventing any harm from coming to the humans as they fled the city. While they worked, Misty stuck the egg in her backpack.

"There!" Eve shouted, pointing as they came to the end of the street. There was a worn hole in cavern wall. The two humans made for it amidst the bursting attacks.

Brown stone surrounded them, sheltering them from the hostile flock. Misty glanced over her back to keep an eye on her pokémon and the attackers. Starmie and Staryu were keeping up the fighting retreat, following them into the tunnel.

"Staryu, Starmie, freeze the entrance shut!" She shouted. Twin Ice Beams lanced out, spiraling around the tunnel walls, growing a barrier of ice.

"Keep it up," Misty shouted, tugging Eve to a halt while she supervised her pokémon. "I don't want them breaking through until we're long gone."

Ice cracked and grew, crystals filling yet more of the tunnel. Attacks rang out from the other side as they slammed against the barrier, shaking the ice.

Misty watched, mentally calculating, and waiting several tense moments before speaking.

"Get back here," she said. Red light lanced out and sucked the pokémon up. The red head turned to the archaeologist. "Let's get some distance."

"Mmmmmm," Ash savored the bite, slowly chewing on the juicy bite of steak sandwich. Around him his team was making similar sounds of enjoyment as they munched on the human food Ash had ordered for them.

What, what, what is this magical elixir? Pikachu said, cradling a bottle of red condiment, licking at the open top. Such magnificent flavor, such exquisite texture, such perfection!

"It's ketchup," Ash muttered out of the side of his mouth while he chewed.

Why have I never been given this stuff before, Pikachu said, turning to Ash, clutching the bottle tightly. It's far too awesome for me to have not had this before!

Eh, Bulbasur shrugged, looking up from his fish salad. It's not really that great.

How dare you say that! Pikachu gasped, turning to the grass type. Such words-

Hey, why don't ya let me have a little bit? Primeape asked, munching on a ham sandwich. I wanna see how it tastes.

Over my desecrated corpse! Pikachu's cheeks sparked, whirling to the fighting type.

Oh, quit getting so upset, Squirtle munched on a fish taco. I've never eaten it, but I've used it as fake human blood before. You can find it in just about any human store that sells food.

Why would you need fake blood? Pidgeotto asked, perched on the back of a chair and picking at some sushi.

Needed to fake a murder scene for a prank, Squirtle answered. That was a fun week.

Nobody tried to eat you that week? Magikarp said, resting by a bowl of pokéchow.

No plenty did, including a joltik, Squirtle smiled. That was part of what made it so fun. The Squirtle Squad gained two members that week.

Ash glanced around to make sure there were no humans within hearing distance.

A joltik, really? Ash asked. How did that work?

It was sleepy and we were trying to hide, Squirtle answered. There was a rather angry mob of ursaing that wanted to honey and feather us.

How did you manage that, Ash inquired further.

Well, when you're as cool as we were-

Stay away from the ketchup! Electricity crackled and Primeape yelped. Ash rolled his eyes.

Pikachu, play nice, Ash sighed.

Not when ketchup is on the line!

Pikachu, you've just discovered it, Ash said. If you just guzzle it now you might get tired of it later. Now if you give a little bit to Primeape you won't get tired of it so quickly.

See, that's the sort of talk I would expect- from ketchup stealing thieves! Pikachu shouted. Come any closer and I'll shock you.

I think we may need to stage an intervention, Bulbasaur interjected.

What's an intervention? Charizard asked, looking up from his two orders of spare ribs.

It's something that humans do when another human has a problem, Ash explained. But normally we have to gather around and wait for him to come to us- or at least that's how it went in the story Poison Lance told me about the intervention that Lucas helped with.

Really? Bulbasaur raised a non-existent eyebrow. I always thought an intervention was when you knocked out the crazy one before he did something dangerous, tied him up, and then waited for him to go through withdrawal or crazy times.

If we had to wait for Pikachu to go through crazy times then we'd never go anywhere, Pidgeotto said.

True, if I had waited for Pikachu to be done being crazy before I started the journey, I would still be in Professor Oak's lab, Ash agreed.

Oh, this is pick on Pikachu day, is it? Pikachu muttered. Well at least I wasn't stupid enough to try and send my only pokémon away to try and take a ferrow by myself. Or order a pokémon to try and summon a lightning bolt.

It's not crazy if it worked, Ash said, before taking another bite of his sandwich. And Pikachu, drop the stupid ketchup would you.

They ate in silence for a while, enjoying the human food that they really shouldn't have been having. But guilty pleasures are all the more delicious, especially with the threat of discovery by irate worriers. But, if Ash guessed correctly (from browsing a couple of pamphlets), the dig was the opposite way from the pokémon center. In order to catch him and his team eating Brock and Misty would have to run all the way from the dig to the -

"There's an emergency at the dig!" A shout broke the peaceful silence of the meal. "There's some sort of wild pokémon attack going on!"

Ash and his team exchanged looks. Food was dropped and everyone took off running, leaving behind only footprints, dust, and a couple of bills of currency.

Rocks cracked as the aerodactyl was slammed back. Geodude pressed the assault slamming his fists into the body of the prehistoric pokémon, driving it further away from the ancient city. Aerodactyl slapped him away with a wing, sending the rock type tumbling down the tunnel. The flying type's tail curled around a loose rock and then hurled it down the tunnel.

Geodude backhanded the projectile, shattering it.

Brock and Geodude had engaged in a fighting retreat to one of the rear exits, making sure that their attacker was following them, not going after the other two.

"Press the attack!" Brock shouted from the tunnel entrance. Aerodactyl turned to the human, preparing to lunge at the trainer, and then was tackled by Geodude. The two tumbled back towards the city.

"Seismic Toss him down the tunnel!" Brock shouted. "We need him out of here!"

Geodude grabbed the old monster by the tail and began to spin it around. He released his grip and let the other pokémon go flying back down into the tunnel.

"Punch it and keep punching it until it's away from these ruins," Brock ordered, eyes intent on the prehistoric rock type.

Geodude grabbed the ground and thew himself forward at the aerodactyl before it could recover. A right hook smashed into its face, sending it skipping over the rock floor. Brock's pokémon followed, readying an uppercut. Aerodactyl rolled back and grappled with Geodude once more.

The two fought through the tunnel, crashing into the walls, smashing rocks, trading blows and bites. Brock followed from a cautious distance, waiting for an opportune moment.

Aerodactyl slammed Geodude into the wall and then into the floor. Geodude rolled and backhanded the flying type, knocking it into the light at the end of the tunnel.

Geodude slammed his fist into the back of the prehistoric pokémon's head. Aerodactyl fell forward and rolled, snarling and trying to take to the air.

"Keep him down," Brock shouted. If the aerodactyl could take to the air then it could use its superior mobility against them, using long range attacks and hit and run tactics to wear down his pokémon. "Get him back down here!"

Geodude grabbed the pointed tail of his foe and threw him onto the mountainside.

Ash and Pikachu slid to a halt right behind a group of people staring at a nearby mountain, tending to prone people and pokémon, and arguing among themselves.

"What happened," Ash asked, panting slightly. Some of the people turned to him.

"Eve and the tour group went into the dig and stirred up some angry pokémon," one of the people answered.

There was a commotion from the crowd and everyone turned back to the mountain. Ash noticed a grey shape shape struggling on the mountain. He figured that it was the one of the pokémon that had been stirred up. But there was another burst of movement. A swarm of flying types and a splotch of red-

Well, whether or not it was Misty, they did need help.

"Let's go!" Ash shouted and dashed around the crowd. "Pikachu get ready to Thunder that anything that gets too close."

Here we go again, Pikachu sighed, but nonetheless he had a small grin on his face.

Geodude slugged the aerodactyl and dodged a retaliatory rock. Looking back up he was met with a wing to the face.

Son of a- Geodude cursed, bouncing down the mountainside.

The fight had carried them up the rocky terrain, the landscape hindering neither rock type. Brock on the other hand, was breathing heavily, and trailing behind the fight.

"Geodude," he shouted, straining to make sure that his pokémon could hear him, "use Smack Down!"

Aeordactyl had tried to take wing again, only to be stopped by Geodude's projectile.

"Hit him with everything you've got!" Brock ordered, grabbing Onix's pokéball. He'd bring out the big guns when he had a-

There was the cawing of flying types and Brock turned to look. Misty and Eve were sprinting down the mountain; Misty had released her pokémon and they were trading attacks while they humans made a break for it.

Sounds of combat made Brock turn back to his pokémon.

"I really, really, really hate flying types!" Misty shouted, jumping off a ledge and turning her landing into a roll, taking care not to roll onto the egg. Eve cried out as she tried to follow, not managing the roll nearly as well. Blasts of water and scraps of psychic energy impacted about them as the flock attacked. Ice Beams lashed out, super effective in dealing with the flock, and Water Guns flowed, as Misty's pokémon held off the attackers.

Misty helped Eve up and they continued their escape down the mountain. If they could make it to civilization then there would be either some form of defense to drive the pokémon away or at least some form of shelter.

Why couldn't Aaron have been in better shape, Misty complained to herself. They could've really used his Pikachu.

The flight continued down the mountainside. The humans ran, skidded, jumped, fell, jolted, scrambled, screamed, whined, and rushed down the rocky mountainside.

"I did not get my doctorate at age nine to be some sort of adventure archaeologist!" Eve screamed. "I hate you! I hate pokémon! I hate this mountain! I hate life!"

"Shut up and let me think," Misty shouted back. They needed a distraction...

"Starmie! Staryu, get over here!" Her pokémon responded whirling close by. Misty whispered her plan and they spun off again.

The flying types closed in again, only to be dissuaded by a barrage of Ice Beams. One Ice Beam scythed over the mountainside leaving a gleaming swath of ice to catch the sun, reflecting the light right at the flock. Sunlight engulfed their vision and there were cries of pain.

When they were able to look back they only saw clouds of dust scattered about the slope.

Oh great, one of the xatu moaned. This is going to make so many pokémon unhappy.

Ash saw the ice glistening in the summer sun and figured that it had to be Misty coming down the mountain.

He scrambled up the rocks, pulling himself up bit by bit, scanning for his friends. Down below, in the camp, an evacuation was in progress and the police were being called in.

Ash saw several clouds of dust and a circling group of mixed flying types. They evidently noticed him as well, because they quit circling and started heading towards him.

Pikachu, a warning Thunderbolt and then shout at a couple of them to come down so we can see if we can't talk this out, Ash said to Pikachu, not taking his eyes off of the incoming pokémon.

Aye, aye, Pikachu complied with a sizzling, crackling lance of electricity that arced right in front of the incoming flock. The flying types broke and scattered to avoid the attack.

Flying vermin! Pikachu shouted. We are willing to negotiate for the terms of your failure! Send down a couple of representatives or things will get nasty!

Ash sighed. He probably should have specified that Pikachu do it diplomatically. Well, at least it looked like they were complying. Or, at least coming down so that a select few individuals could have the pleasure of trying to thrash them six ways from Sunday.

What do you two want? Four pokémon, two wingulls and two xatu landed before them. We've got intruders to find.

Yeah, Ash rubbed the back of his head. About that.

The four flying types looked at him. The four flying types looked at each other.

That's it I'm done, one of the wingulls said. I'm just done with this. So many generations that were mostly uneventfully and then we get today.

We must've had some bad mushroom yesterday, one of the xatu said. We would have foreseen something like this happening if this were real.

Honestly, even if we did foresee something like this happening we would probably wouldn't believe it and dismiss it as a dream, the other xatu said.

We'll just pretend that you're real, the remaining wingull said, turning back to Ash. What do you want- wait, is he the one we've been waiting for? Is he the one the prophecy spoke of?

Which prophecy? One of the xatu asked. We've got a whole archive full of them. That's how we learn to read the Illusion Alphabet, remember?

The one who will be given the egg! The wingull answered.

We don't have a prophecy about that, the xatu told him.

Then how do we know who to give the egg up to? Do we have a way to test who is chosen?

Nobody's chosen, the xatu rolled its eyes. There's a way to determine who is 'worthy', we're supposed to let those who know the sacred phrases and words and perform all the rituals retrieve the egg. Honestly most of us are pretty sure that it's simply a way of identifying a member of the royal family.

But we have to have a prophecy about the human who can speak properly, the wingull insisted. Something as strange as this must have been prophesied!

Uh... Ash interjected.

No we don't actually have a prophecy about a human who can speak correctly, the xatu replied. Not every strange thing is significant. This is just a random oddity.

Guys, can you talk about this later, Ash interrupted. I need to talk to you about my friends.

Your friends? One of the xatu asked. Do you mean the egg thieves?

Possibly, Ash answered. Was there a dark skinned boy and a red haired girl?

Yeah, the pokémon nodded.

I guess that's them, Ash confirmed.

Well then, I have nothing-

What exactly happened? Ash hurried up and interrupted. I mean, I know them well enough to know that they wouldn't just steal something. There's got to be more to the story than that.

Willing to be your life? A xatu spoke up, turning to fix a glare on Ash. His fellows followed suit. The two xatu began to glow as they marshaled their powers, and the wingulls opened their mouths, preparing their own attacks. Pikachu began to growl.

Always, Ash said nodding, without the tiniest bit of hesitation.

Sorry to disappoint you, but there isn't, one of the wingulls stated. They set off the alarm when they removed the egg from the podium. We heard none of the scared words nor saw any evidence of the rituals. The word for beings that waltz into a place and take what is not theirs is thieves and that is what your friends are. I guess it's time -

Well, there's also archaeologists, Ash said.

Archae-whats?

Archaeologists. People that find the remains of bygone civilizations and collect artifacts to study those civilizations. All the people down there are archaeologists and my friends came here to get a tour of the dig.

Huh. So that's why- the xatu said, dropping out of attack stance. But this isn't a bygone civilization. We're still here. This is a hidden civilization, not a bygone one.

How well hidden? Ash asked.

...

Well now I just feel like a jerk, one of the wingulls said, relaxing, and rubbing the back of its head with a wing. Do you think that if we found some way to ask them they'd just give us the egg back?

Yes they would, but just a heads up, I can't translate for you guys, Ash informed them. I have to keep the fact that I can speak properly a secret.

Well, we can figure out something-

We've found them! A cry came from the flock. Everyone turned to the source of the cry, catching a glimpse of Misty and Eve sneaking down the mountain. Everyone get them.

With a cacophony of squawks, caws, and screeches, the flock resumed their chase.

Ash looked at the flying types in front of him. They shrugged.

So much for that idea, the xatu said, rolling its eyes. Sorry about this. Everyone get him!

Before they could move there was a crackle and a flash of yellow. The four flying types fell over, singed and unconscious.

We should have just done this from the start, Pikachu said. Let's go help them!

Aaron, what are you doing- Starmie began, still blasting ice as Ash and Pikachu caught up, -you know what. I'm not surprised and it's not really necessary to know.

The flock swirled, maneuvering to attack the new human. Ash threw his pokéballs.

"Go Pidgeotto! Go Squirtle!" Squirtle and Pidgeotto came out running and flying. "Pidgeotto, Gust! Squirtle, Bubblebeam!"

The flock veered around the tornado launched by Ash's pokémon, several right into the stream of bubbles launched by Squirtle. The wingulls shook off the water type attack, but most of the xatus were blasted out of the sky. Some managed to teleport of the way.

Both types spiraled upward, swirling together, and turning over in the sky to launch another attack. Misty and Eve slid underneath the flock and launched themselves towards Ash. Misty landed on her feet, sliding to a stop. Eve crashed and rolled to a stop.

"That was stupid," Eve agreed, picking herself up and wincing. "What now?"

"Aaron, you got a plan?" Misty asked, keeping an eye on the approaching threat.

"Use Pikachu," Ash answered, also keeping an eye on the flock. "Once they come close enough he'll shock them."

"Ah," Misty said, still looking at the flock. "I think that might be an issue."

The flying types weren't dive bombing the group. Instead they were soaring into a new formation and the xatu had started to glow purple.

"Okay, in that case I think we might need to run," Ash said, nodding. "Time to go everyone!" As one the humans turned and ran, their pokémon following close behind.

A massive blast of water carved through the rocks behind them, blasting up a cloud of dust and sending rock chips flying. Ash and company ducked as they were pelted with the stinging shrapnel.

A stream of xatu swept down while they were scattered and converged on Eve. The archaeologist shrieked as they closed in around her; she started to glow purple and rise into the air, carried by the minds of the flying pokémon.

"Oh no," Misty moaned, wincing. "Aaron, do you have any way to catch her?"

"Uh," Ash said, trying to think, "maybe?"

The fight between Geodude and the aerodactyl had taken the two to the lowest peak, Brock following close behind. Geodude had kept in close, constantly on the attack. Pummeling away at the rock/flying type, not giving it any time to take wing or use a special attack. Rocks had been thrown and crushed, ground cratered, heads bashed, tails pulled, and all sorts of dirty tricks and painful attacks had been traded.

"Alright Onyx," Brock whispered to his pokéball. "When you come out, you come out fast and you hit that pokémon hard." He kept his eyes on the fight, waiting for the best moment for Onyx to jump in.

Geodude clasped his hands together above him and then swept them down in a great two handed blow. Aerodactyl rolled to the side, and slapped Geodude away with one wing. Geodude bounced away, sending rocks skidding. Aerodactyl threw back his head, opening his mouth, light beginning to pour out, and Brock threw the pokéball.

White light blazed from the pokéball and white light blazed from the aerodactyl's mouth. Onyx charged and Aerodactyl tried to doge. Onyx's charge clipped Aerodactyl, sending him careening through the air.

Geodude came in before the aerodactyl had landed, slamming his fist into the back of the other pokémon's head. Aerodactyl shrieked in pain, limbs thrashing wildly. Geodude was slapped away with one gray wing.

The prehistoric pokémon lunged forward, wings gaining purchase in the air. He soared upward, finally free from Brock's pokémon, light shining in his mouth once more.

Brock glared upwards.

"Onyx, give Geodue a boost, would you?"

Geodude jumped onto the tip of Onyx's tail. The stone snake looked upward, judging distances and the wind. He flicked his tail and threw the grey stony projectile that was Geodude.

Aerodactyl's Hyper Beam grew in strength, white light washing the color out of the surrounding landscape. He reared forward, ball of destructive energy in mouth, aiming at Brock. It was more than enough power to wipe him from the map.

Brock didn't flinch under the light.

However, Aerodactyl did flinch under Geodude's fist. The grey head snapped back. A column of light lanced into the heavens, piercing through the clouds painting everything white.

Geodude's hands snapped Aeordactyl's jaw shut and the energy exploded. Brock could feel the vibrations from the ground, watching as his pokémon and the aerodactyl fell from the sky, singed and trailing bits of smoke.

Well, Brock, this would be a great time to recall me! Geodude shouted falling. His trainer might not be able to understand the exact words, but hopefully he would pick up on the general idea.

Brock took out two pokéballs. Red light lanced out of one, recalling Geodude.

The other was hurled at the falling aerodactyl. Light flashed and the pokémon disappeared. A pokéball, glowing red, fell, shaking as it did so. It bounced off the mountainside, continuing down until Brock caught it under his foot.

It shook one more time and then was still.

"Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!" Ash muttered, running underneath the flock.

We will take her back and deliver her for judgement! One of the wingull cawed.

Yes, we know! You've said that three times already! Another shouted.

Is it really worth it? A xatu asked. I mean I know it's traditional that we guard the sacred treasure of the city from all trespassers, but come on! It's been over a thousand years, nobody really knows what's going on, and those ice beams really hurt.

Quiet! The first shouted. We all know our duty!

You're not mom!

No, but this is what she would've wanted us to do!

Too bad this was a really bad time to try and negotiate with them (again), because Ash thought he had a couple ideas on where to start.

First, rescue archaeologist. Then attempt to sow dissent if there was still need.

Well, they'd need to cut away most of the enemy from their victim.

"Pidegotto, Gust, strong as you can, right in the middle!" Ash shouted, pointing. "Funnel them towards us!"

Ash's pokémon unleashed a ferocious windstorm, sucking up squawking wingulls and xatu. Some struggled against the winds, others simply used the attack as an opportunity to dive bomb Ash.

Ash waited a few precious seconds, letting them come dangerously close before he took action.

"Pikachu! Get them!"

Pikachu jumped out in front of Ash, electricity crackling from his cheeks. A buzzing column of yellow power engulfed the pokémon caught in the windstorm, casting them from the sky.

Ah shit! One of the wingull shouted. Can't we just drop her and get out of her?

No! We're fine so long as we all stick next to her, the de-facto leader replied. They can't blast us without hitting her.

Ash conceded that they had a point. His maneuver had cut down on their numbers, but they still had their human shield. He needed to get around that.

"Pikachu! Pidgeotto! Both of you get up there and, uh-" Ash tried to think of the human word for sharp shoot, "-point shot anyone you can do safely!"

I really hope you mean sharpshoot, Pikachu remarked, jumping onto Pidgeotto's back.

They took off into the air and trailed after the flock, small shocks nipping at the flock's metaphorical heels, blasting individual flying types out of the air.

Haven't we done this before? Pidgeotto asked.

You mean being attacked by flocks of flying types, working together in an aerial battle, or... screw it, I've done this song and dance a couple of times, Pikachu sighed, blasting another wingull out of the sky. This is pretty much how Ash and I got started. Looks like we've come full circle and not much has changed. Not exactly the best year, now that I think about.

Well, you've got a bunch of new comrades, plenty of new experience and your human has new human friends, Pidgeotto replied, dodging an attack.

Well, not a bad year then either, Pikachu said, shrugging and launching another electric attack.

The enemy flock was whittled away by the flying/electric team. Soon only the very core, the bare essentials necessary to carry Eve were left.

"Alright, um..." Ash tried to think as he ran.

"I think I might be able to handle this part," Misty shouted, now running after them. "But only if you've got a way to catch her."

"I don't!" Ash replied. "None of my team is strong enough to catch her if she falls!"

"Well, catch her safely that is," Ash said after a moment, thinking about Bulbasaur's vines. He was pretty sure that solution wouldn't safely work here.

Maybe if he and Primeape teamed up...

A pokéball shook and Charizard released himself.

I can do it! The fire type shouted. Once I'm under her I can catch her.

"I think he's volunteering," Misty added, unnecessarily.

Ash glanced at his pokémon as they rushed to keep up with the flock, Charizard awkwardly running. He glanced back at Eve.

He flipped his cap around and nodded.

"Let's do this."

Charizard ran ahead, trying to catch up with the flock. Pidgeotto pumped her wings, forcing herself upwards. The enemy wingulls and xatu noticed the maneuver and began to climb themselves.

Ash hissed. The greater height made things more dangerous. No choice but to go through with it.

"Now," he shouted.

Pidgeotto darted around the flock and spun around, wings splayed out. Pikachu let loose a war cry sending out a multitude of small tendrils of electric power. Flying types squawked and scattered, releasing their hold on the archaeologist.

Crap!

Not good!

Run away!

Eve screamed as she found herself in free-fall towards the rocky earth below, awaiting a very painful landing.

Charizard let out a roar as he ran forward, trying to position himself under the falling human.

Misty winced and looked away.

With a loud roar Charizard took the the air, wing muscles burning as he thrust himself up and forward. His arms curled around Eve and he managed to snatch her out of the air.

Sunnova- Charizard snarled, gliding downward. His feet scraped the ground and his flight turned into a rolling crash, blowing up clouds of dust.

"Charizard!" Ash shouted, running over to the downed pokémon. "You alright?"

Ouch, shit, oww, I think I'm going to wait a bit before trying this flying thing again, Charizard said, wincing as he picked himself up, and letting Eve down.

"That was a first," Eve said, still holding onto Charizard as she put one foot and then the other on the ground. "I owe you one," the archaeologist said, turning to Charizard.

Charizard grinned back.

It was- ow - nothing, he replied. Ash, can we hurry back to the pokémon center? My wings really hurt.

"So what's the damage?" Brock asked.

Everyone had regrouped at the pokémon center to lick their wounds. The people from the dig camp and their pokémon were being looked over to make sure that there weren't any serious issues from Aeordactyl's attack. Eve was getting a more thorough check-up, and Misty was tending to her pokémon outside. Ash and Brock were sitting in the lobby, the two of them having just arrived after the center's staff had finished looking over their teams and Brock's new addition.

"We'll have to stay here another month," Ash replied. "But there was no permanent damage to his wings. I wish I could have thought of something else, but I didn't think anything else would be safe enough."

Brock gave a small sad grin.

"Yeah, I know what that's like," the former gym leader replied. "But now you've got time to think about what you need to do differently next time."

"You're right," Ash nodded, already thinking of tests and drills he could run his team through. "But it still feels bad."

"Well, it always could have been worse," Brock pointed out. "You might have gotten Charizard hurt and failed to save Eve."

"True, but that just means I would've felt worse now, not that I shouldn't feel bad now. I mean I could have thought of something better and saved Eve without getting anyone hurt. Should I feel even worse because of that?"

"Isn't that why you're feeling depressed now?" Brock asked. "I'm saying that it unrealistic to expect yourself do perfectly in the situation you found yourself in. You did better than most people would have done and certainly better than anyone has a right to expect from you."

"I expect better," Aaron replied looking down.

"Well that's..." Brock trailed off, lost in thought for a moment, and then sighed. "That's perfectly human. We're all rather foolish like that now that I think about it. But it's not such a bad thing. This foolishness can help drive us to improve. And when we learn to recognize and master this foolishness, maybe one day we can move on."

"But we can't go yet," Ash replied. "We've got to wait another month while they put Charizard through some more therapy."

"Sorry, I didn't mean that literally," Brock said, shaking his head. "I was starting to talk about two different things there."

"Oh."

They were quiet for a moment.

"We're not going to be able to make this year's Indigo Conference if we stay here another month," Brock told Aaron.

"That's okay," Aaron replied. "I can get the rest of the badges in Kanto and start training for next year's."

"There isn't going to be one next year," Brock said. "The Indigo-Johto merger will being going on and there won't be time for a Conference in Johto or Kanto while that is happening. And then they still might postpone the next one to give everyone time to get badges under the new system."

"Then I'll have a year to train," Ash responded. "Or," a thought struck him, "I can go visit one of the other regions in the meantime."

"Really?" Brock raised an eyebrow. "Which one did you have in mind?"

"Well, none yet," Ash answered, shrugging, "it's just an idea. Maybe someplace quieter than Kanto."

"It's been a hectic year, hasn't it," Brock leaned back.

"Yeah, but..." Ash thought for a moment, "... well it's been a full year. It's been good and it's been bad, and it was a little weird in places. Well, very weird in places, a little bit-" Ash searched for the human word for nonsensical or contrived for a moment, but only came up with a blank, "silly at times. There's plenty of stuff I'd like to go back and do better, but it really could have been worse."

"Well, maybe next year will be better," Brock said. "We've all got some growing to do."

Ash just shrugged and looked around.

"Where's Misty?"

Outside the red haired trainer leaned against the wall, surrounded by puddles of water and next to a discarded hose. Her pokémon had been inspected, hosed down, and retrieved. Now she was examining the strange egg. She was surprised that Eve and her team hadn't tried to claim the egg yet. They were probably planning on asking for it later. Or they forgot that she had it. Honestly it didn't matter.

Something so small, yet so much trouble. So much trouble. So small, so warm. It didn't really make sense. Why was this egg in the altar in the first place? How could it still be alive after all these years? Why were there pokémon guarding it? Why was it shaking? And cracking?

Misty's eyes went wide as she noticed the egg's activity. The shell that had withstood the ravages of the ages was now starting to shake and crack, moved by some internal force. The barrier that had stood so strong was slowly and inexorably destroyed by the force of new life forcing itself into the world.

Two tiny arms burst through small holes near the top. Two tiny feet burst through the bottom. And the very top popped off and the new pokémon greeted the world with wide eyes and a smile.

And the first thing that it saw was the wide eyed Misty staring right back.

Mommy!

 
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