Traveler

Ash Ketchum has been determined to become the best since he was a toddler. He has his eyes set on a charmander, but a twist of fate led him to the humble Nidoran. Note: Mix between anime and the games.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8466693/1/Traveler

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37. The Storm Part 4

Brock held him back, and motioned to the wall of metal that had shot down to protect Steelix's throat. "Don't worry about falling in. That flap is usually meant to keep water and dangerous pokemon from getting into the stomach, but it'll work just as well for us."

Ash nodded and resolutely held on to one of Steelix's large, blunt teeth as the creature tunneled through the earth. He didn't know how fast they were going, but the minor resistance of thousands of tons of dirt and stone was easily swept away by Steelix's immense strength and control. No movement was wasted.

"How fast is Steelix going?" He called out over the rumbling of the earth and the grinding of Steelix's segments. In the cramped quarters, it was easy to make out.

"Average speed is thirty miles an hour." Brock replied. Ash couldn't see what he was doing in the complete darkness of Steelix's maw. The sharp smell of iron pervaded it completely. "Dig is a pretty useful move. It augments his natural abilities and lets him push the dirt out of the way."

He voiced his understanding and just held on tightly. Ash couldn't say that it was the most comfortable way to travel, but it was certainly better than fighting through the surface. At this point the entire area was covered in water, aside from a few islands. Swarms of magnemite were everywhere and slowly coalesced into even larger swarms. Other electric-types had to take shelter to survive.

Aside from the dangerous magnemite swarms that brought immense lightning storms in their wake and made Ash's hair stand on end, the surface was plagued by large tornadoes, far greater than Torrent could hope to produce. It was only Castform that was able to calm the twisters and at least divert them, if not cause the forces of nature to dissipate.

While Steelix was certainly a fast way to travel, it was an insanely dangerous method. Riding anywhere but on top of its head on the surface could result in the rider falling into the crevasses between the beast's segments and get ripped to shreds as it moved. Being inside could easily result in asphyxiation or accidentally destroy entire segments of the surface by causing sinkholes and the collapse of unsteady buildings. There was a reason Steelix and Onix tended to stay a few hundred feet below the surface.

But they were desperate. If they didn't use Steelix, there might not have been an environment to destroy.

Ash was quiet as they tunneled through the earth. He knew what their mission was now. It had changed. They knew that the situation was bad near the storm, but they hadn't thought it would be this destructive. While they had gone into this thinking that they would simply check the power plant out and leave, that wasn't possible anymore.

If the storm continued to ravage Kanto, the region would shut down. Communications in and out of the storm were completely shot, teleportation was impossible, and the environment was ruined. There was a chance to save the situation before the unnatural storm reached the major cities and caused untold destruction, and they had to take it.

Their mission was to find the source and destroy it. It didn't matter if the Creature was the one sustaining the devastating weather, they would fight it. They couldn't escape unless the storm was disrupted, and all they cared about by now was finishing this mission.

He sighed and closed his eyes as Steelix sought their target. It was getting quite hot thanks to geothermal energy. There was only a limited supply of air in the cavernous maw, and Ash wondered if they would have to surface before they arrived at the power plant.

"We're going to need our full teams for this." Surge spoke up. Ash looked toward the direction of his voice and listened intently. "If we manage to surface inside the power plant like we're supposed to, we'll let them out right then. The plant will be crawling with electric-types, and if they're as aggressive as the last few we'll need every fighter we can get."

Ash nodded in assent. If the power plant was dry, Infernus would be useful. Plume would still be inside of her pokeball, however. With the kind of power the electric-types were throwing around she would be useless.

He was worried about releasing Electabuzz. While the boost in power would be quite useful to her, she was unstable. She would be a liability, so he resolved to release her in only the most extreme circumstances. Surge and his powerful, disciplined team would probably be the main fighters. Brock and Ash would focus mostly on protecting the humans and soaking up damage from the electric-types.

"Don't hold back, Runt." Surge directed at Ash. His tone was serious and held none of the joking Ash had grown accustomed to. "We don't want to kill these pokemon, but if we have to we will. They're too dangerous while under the influence of this storm and its master. One wrong step and we could all die."

Ash scowled but voiced his understanding. Surge's words were true, even if he desperately hoped to avoid the deaths of any pokemon. They weren't in control of their actions right now. It was the storm making them deadly.

The rest of the journey was spent in silence. They knew what they had to do and how to do it. Ash made sure to take as few breaths as possible. It was getting harder to breathe as Steelix tore through the earth. He thought that he could feel the immense steel serpent angling upward, which made him grab onto its tooth even tighter.

After an untold amount of time spent in total darkness, Brock spoke. "We're nearly there. Get ready to jump out."

Ash clasped his hands together and had a determined scowl on his face as Steelix suddenly surged straight upward. He held on tightly to avoid falling against the flap of metal, although he nearly lost his hold when Steelix burst through the earth with a mighty roar of grinding metal.

He winced as he slammed against the tooth that was about as large as he was. Ash would definitely have some bruises tomorrow.

All thoughts vanished when Steelix lowered its head to the floor and opened its maw, which revealed a white hallway that was lit by bright lights, although they flickered constantly.

"Get out!" Surge roared. He released all of his pokemon as he leapt out. A pikachu growled and leapt at him, but Surge expertly caught it. Although the pikachu's body exploded with energy, Surge's gloves were resistant enough to keep the voltage from hurting the giant. A moment later the man threw pikachu into the wall, where it was zapped by an angry Raichu.

Ash released Nidoking, Torrent, Dazed, Infernus, Tangrowth, and Sneasel. They quickly realized what was going on, although Nidoking stood by Steelix's open maw and protected Ash as the trainer jumped out.

He quickly moved to where he would be protected by Dazed's shields, but blanched as he saw dozens of electric-types racing toward them, minds filled with nothing but anger. They didn't like their home being disturbed. Ash was sure that many more would appear shortly.

"Steelix, block the hall! The rest of you, hold off the electric-types!" Brock shouted. His face was hard and set, a mirror of Surge's. All of his pokeballs released their contents onto the other side of Steelix's massive body, which was curled up in a pile of rubble and earth.

Brock stood by Ash as the battle raged. Dazed stayed with them and protected the vulnerable humans with a shield of shimmering energy, although it strained under the constant rain of ruthlessly powerful bolts of electricity. His hair stood straight up, although his hat kept it from being noticeable.

Surge backed up to stand with the other humans, although Raichu stayed out in battle. His electric-types were simply devastating to the horde of furious pokemon. Although their attackers were powered up to be a match for Surge's pokemon in an ordinary situation, Surge's pokemon had gained just as much strength from the storm.

While Ash's pokemon did their share in holding back the tide with well placed Ice Beams, Flamethrowers, Stun Spore, Blizzards, and gusts of cold air, Surge's team did the real damage. Surge had a wild grin on his face as the humans watched his pokemon casually take on the horde.

Raichu and Electivire were particularly dangerous. Each fired off Lightning Bolts large enough to blast through most of the hall with terrifying ease, with neither showing any sort of strain. Jolteon growled and fired hard, sharp bits of its fur into its opponents, which usually stabbed straight into their shoulder or chest before it paralyzed them and neutralized most of the electricity fired in return with a shield of arcing energy.

"Damn it!" Surge suddenly roared. Ash's eyes widened as he spotted what had elicited Surge's statement. A large swarm of protective magnemite had raced into the hall and looked as though they were ready to kill.

"Fire Blast!" Ash shouted. Infernus, who looked to be having the time of his life, roared and reared his head back. An instant later he spat a huge ball of fire into the midst of the swarm, which exploded. While the magnemite held devastating power at their disposal, they hadn't gained anything defensively. They were helpless to resist the heat and the force behind the explosion that sent most of the swarm straight into a wall, where they collapsed to the ground helplessly.

Most of the electric-types were stunned by the explosion, even if they weren't hurt as badly as the swarm. They stumbled backward, momentarily helpless. Surge took full advantage of it. "All of you, Lightning Bolt!"

Ash squeezed his eyes shut as Surge's pokemon each released the immense beam of electricity. He heard pained screeches from the horde as they were overloaded with their own element. When it quieted, Ash opened his eyes and saw that most of the horde had been knocked unconscious by the three Lightning Bolts.

"Good. We've got to get a move on." Surge growled as he took in the piles of unconscious electric-types. "I need to get to the generators to see what's going on. At the very least we can cut the supply of power to the plant and snap some of these pokemon out of it."

"Do I need to move Steelix?" Brock asked shakily. Ash suspected this was one of his first real battles. The others probably hadn't been as intense as this.

Surge shook his head. "We aren't going that way. It'll take us outside. Leave Steelix here and keep any others from following me and Ash. You don't have the firepower to press forward like we do."

"Understood." Brock replied seriously. He released two more of his pokemon. One was a large, ancient creature with a blue dome atop its head while the other was a Rhydon. "Rampardos, Bruna, you're coming with me. Fight off every electric-type you see."

The two massive creatures grunted in response and took a position in front of Brock. "Good luck, you two. Stay safe."

"You too." Ash nodded before he followed Surge. The massive gym leader had released two more pokemon. One was a large canine with blue and yellow fur while the other was a gigantic Electrode. Both followed Surge loyally, although their power was displayed through the arcs of electricity racing over their bodies.

His friends took up their positions around Ash. Sneasel followed right on his heels, barely noticeable amongst the larger, more powerful battlers. Nidoking and Dazed took his sides, while Torrent floated a bit behind him. The dragon-type was high enough to easily blast any attackers with an Ice Beam without hurting his teammates. Tangrowth followed a bit behind. Infernus stood behind Dazed with a wreath of flames around him.

"Team Rocket isn't here." Surge sneered. Ash looked over at him. After fighting the horde of powerful electric-types, which had certainly done a number on his friends, he wasn't surprised. The organization wouldn't be able to survive here for long. Nothing would. "Maybe they set up a machine or used the Creature, but we won't find any around here."

Ash nodded silently. There wasn't much to say. They just needed to keep fighting.

"There are more pokemon here." Surge warned as they stepped through the silent halls. There were scorch marks everywhere, and the machinery that had been here before was disrupted. Wires hung from the ceiling, likely torn out by scavenging pikachu. "But we aren't too far. To get to the control room, take a left at the end of this hall, then a right, then head straight down. It's where the generators are as well."

"Why are you telling me?" Ash questioned. Did Surge think something would happen?

"Just playing it safe." Surge replied. His voice echoed throughout the long hallway unintentionally. "There are dangerous pokemon here. You need to know."

The trainer nodded with a frown, although he didn't say anything else. Tension pervaded the air. He could hear electric-types rummaging around and the crackle of electricity from elsewhere in the power plant, but there was no attack on the two.

Surge and his pokemon stayed in front as they took a left, but they suddenly froze. Ash stopped as well. Infernus and Nidoking stepped out to see what was wrong, but Dazed instantly raised a barrier around Ash and Surge.

"Lightning Bolt!" Surge shouted. Ash's eyes widened imperceptibly when he realized that there was fear in his voice. He squeezed them shut when the massive blast of electricity ripped through the air in a blinding flash of light, but opened them as soon as possible. The gym leader motioned at him to go. "Ash, get out of here! I'll hold them –"

Dazed's barrier shattered as an immense explosion wracked the area. Ash hissed in pain as he was hurled into a wall, where he fell down to the cool tiles of the floor. His ears rang slightly as he struggled to pull himself up. He winced as he felt pain shoot throughout his back whenever he moved.

His friends were fighting. Dazed silently pulled him to his feet with a flicker of energy, and Ash managed to see an immense battle between his and Surge's pokemon and another horde of electric-types. This one was smaller, but no less dangerous.

He paled when he spotted Surge's form crumpled on the floor. As fear shot through him, he looked at Dazed, who had erected another barrier around him. "Get him out of the fighting."

Dazed nodded. Her eyes flashed and her pendulum swung toward her. Surge's massive body, which had quite a bit of blood gushing out from small yet deep cuts, quickly levitated over to him. Ash knelt by the man's unconscious form and sighed in relief when he realized Surge was breathing.

"Can you do anything about the wounds?" Ash asked hopefully. He didn't even care about the battle at the moment. With the help of Surge's empowered pokemon it would be a breeze. Even the electrode or voltorb that had exploded right next to them would be easily dispatched by Nidoking.

The psychic shook her head. Ash wasn't surprised, but sighed despondently nonetheless. He would have to wait until the battle stopped. Surge's pokemon could get their trainer to Brock. Brock was the one with most of their medicine and supplies. All he and Surge had brought were Paralyze Heals and potions. It was assumed that Dazed could protect them for the most part.

He glanced at the battle and saw that it was mostly over. While electricity still crackled through the air, it was mostly on the part of Surge's team. They fought ruthlessly from what he could see, each attack enough to do major damage to another pokemon.

Ash suddenly saw Tangrowth hurled backward from a blast of electricity, the force behind it too powerful for the grass-type to resist. It seemed that most of his pokemon had managed to stick behind Surge's to avoid getting hit, but Tangrowth was unlucky.

Tangrowth was recalled just before several more bolts of electricity exploded at his former position. Each were powerful enough to finish him off for good had Ash not acted quickly.

"Dazed, knock them out." He snapped, fury pounding in his mind. Dazed nodded silently. Ash walked out behind her and his shield and watched with satisfaction as her eyes exploded with bright blue energy. An instant later all of the opposing electric-types were frozen in an aura of psychic power. Surge's pokemon were ruthless in dispatching them with Lightning Bolts, their strength so great that they could easily fire off the hyper beam variant one after the other.

He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Tangrowth's near death had sent a shock through his body. Adrenaline pounded in his blood and numbed his pain, but he realized that he had to change up his team. Some of his friends simply couldn't survive the ruthless power of the resident electric-types.

When he opened his eyes, the battle had ended. All of his pokemon watched him attentively, and Surge's team was huddled around his body. Electivire whirred angrily and electricity crackled through its fur, but Raichu simply curled up on Surge's red chest and whined. Jolteon paced anxiously, followed by the canine. Electrode sparked furiously, but didn't look as though it would explode.

"Take him back to Brock." Ash ordered. Electivire whirred at being commanded by someone beside Surge, but Raichu hissed and motioned for the hulking electric-type to pick Surge's body up. His voice wavered a bit. "He should be fine, just make sure Brock gets to him as soon as possible."

Raichu chattered worriedly and leapt up onto Electivire's shoulder. The electric-type was large enough to cradle Surge's immense body, although it put an obvious strain on the large creature. Electivire started moving, protected by several vengeful electric-types.

Ash watched them take the corner before he turned to his friends. He didn't need any of Surge's pokemon. They could fight just as well without the other team's distraction. The trainer frowned as he looked over his friends. Each had taken a hit, aside from Dazed and Sneasel.

Nidoking looked fine. His incredible resistance to electricity was enough to weather the greatest of the electric-types' assault. He had a few scorch marks, but was otherwise unscathed.

Torrent looked a little worse, but mostly fine. His bands of armor negated most damage from elemental attacks, plus he was naturally tough. There were a few nasty hits, but he could easily weather on. Not much could take a dragon-type down.

Dazed was safe. She mostly negated electric attacks with her shields and had stayed out of the crossfire for the most part. Ash knew she would stay out of trouble and could be an invaluable fighter against the electric-types besides.

Infernus simply looked angry. Flames licked over his body and cast a dark glow about him. His eyes were dark with fury and Ash could tell that he ached to finish this fight. It was obvious that he'd taken quite a few hits from the empowered electric-types, but was too tough to simply give up. Infernus never accepted defeat, and he'd fight on until there was nothing left to fight.

Sneasel had evaded the blasts of electricity. He looked completely fine, other than his fur standing straight up. But Ash kneeled down in front of him.

"Sneasel, I'm recalling you." He said seriously. The dark-type hissed and shook his head. His feather twitched. "You can't fight these pokemon. You're strong, but one hit could kill you."

Even though the dark-type hissed and did his best to convince Ash otherwise, he was recalled. Ash wouldn't let one of his friends meet their end in this power plant. Surge and Tangrowth had come close enough.

"I'm releasing Oz." He told Nidoking. The poison-type nodded, although his narrowed eyes showed his displeasure. There was no love lost between the two. "Grab her when I release her, but don't hurt her."

Nidoking snorted. The others cleared a space for Oz as Ash released the electabuzz.

Oz howled in fury as she was released. Lightning appeared in her fists and she prepared to attack everything in sight and begin a rampage. Before she could even begin, however, Nidoking grabbed her roughly. She struggled, but Nidoking's immense strength easily stilled her.

"You need to calm down." Ash said seriously. He stepped close to the electric-type. "I know you're angry and powerful right now. But I don't need the anger. Tangrowth has been badly hurt and I need your strength. Calm down."

Although Oz whirred and struggled for another few moments, she calmed down after she began to discharge immense amounts of electricity into Nidoking. He easily weathered the storm. When Oz seemed to be back to normal, Ash ordered Nidoking to let her go.

"That's better." He said soothingly. Oz nodded and bared her fangs, although not in an aggressive manner. "Let's go. Every electric-type here is an enemy. They feel the same anger you did. Be prepared."

She nodded and took point. Ash smiled and motioned for his friends to assume their positions as he recalled the instructions Surge gave him. He was rather glad the gym leader had that little burst of inspiration.

Ash took a deep breath and began to move. He didn't know how much further they had to go, but they needed to hurry.

XX

His skin tingled in a painful manner as the team reached the doors that would lead them into the control and generator room. He took a deep breath and looked back at his friends, who seemed just as determined as he was.

None of them were badly hurt. Although they'd had a few more run-ins with small packs of angry electric-types, which mostly consisted of pikachu, electabuzz, and voltorb, along with the odd swarm of magnemite, they had evaded damage for the most part. They all had a few new burns, but Dazed had done a wonderful job of shielding the team and had disabled the more potent enemies.

He suspected that they'd left around fifty electric-types in unconscious heaps behind them. Nidoking had been forced to use Earthquake several times now, although Dazed had teleported the team a few inches above the ground as he did so.

Of his friends, Infernus had taken it the worst. He'd been in the front of every battle. Infernus had easily torn through every rogue pokemon they fought, but had taken many wounds in the process. He would certainly have a soak in magma when it was safe. Ash didn't even know how his friend managed to stand after the wounds he'd sustained, much less carry on and fight.

Oz had done well. She managed to block quite a bit of electricity with the incredible power she possessed, although she'd fly into an uncontrollable rage every few minutes. Ash managed to snap her out of it by getting Nidoking to grab her and absorb some of the excess electricity.

Ash took a deep breath and stopped his recollection. He was a door away from potentially stopping the storm. Although he didn't know what he had to do, he was determined to find out. There was something in there, probably put in place by the Rockets. Whether it was a machine or the Creature, he would do his utmost to destroy it.

"Let's do this." He said softly. Dazed's eyes flashed as she blasted the doors open, which resulted in a sound much like a thunderclap.

His breath was stolen from him as he entered the room, which bore no sign of the destruction the rest of the plant had suffered. He looked around and noted that everything was working perfectly, just as the plant had been designed to do.

Ash frowned when his pokemon fell to their knees. Nidoking kept his mighty head directed at the floor as he kneeled to the presence in front of him. Torrent, Dazed, and Oz did the same, although Dazed kept her eyes focused on Ash.

The only one who refused to submit and stood alongside Ash was Infernus. His friend stared up at something with nothing but bloody determination in his eyes. Just as Infernus would never submit to any foe, he would not submit to anything that others saw as greater.

He followed Infernus' defiant gaze and froze when he saw the object of his friends' prostration.

The power plant's ceiling had been destroyed, which showed Ash the black clouds that swirled above and dominated the landscape for miles. They were curiously calm, and no rain or wind slipped through the gaping hole into the power plant.

But that wasn't what had snatched their attention.

A swirling shell of electricity, circling in an unnatural sphere, was on the top of one of the machines that was directly beneath the destroyed roof. His eyes widened when he saw the form of a massive bird hunched up inside of the sphere, so large that the avian creature put Plume to shame.

He could feel a gaze like a thousand bolts of lightning set its focus upon him. The shell suddenly surged upward in a beam of pure energy, a great column that was visible for miles around. Ash squinted, but refused to look away as the form of the dreaded creature was revealed.

A great bird looked down its spear-like beak at him. While hunched, it was about two or three feet taller than him. Its legs, bereft of any sort of protection from the harsh elements, were as tall as Ash and ended in wickedly clawed talons that gripped the machine so tightly that it bent inward under the great force.

The bird's eyes emanated a great golden light that made Ash feel as though he had been thrown into an electrical socket. Arcs of lightning ran through its feathers even in its passive state, and the aura it emanated was far greater than even Torrent's. Whereas Torrent's presence bespoke of dignity and wisdom, the bird's aura bespoke of power and primordial strength.

It suddenly straightened its posture and unfurled its great, spiky wings. Ash unconsciously backed away as dozens of lightning bolts descended from the stormy heavens and struck the creature, summoned by its smaller movement. The bird squawked, and thunder boomed in tandem. He could hear the storm roaring outside, along with the boom of countless bolts of lightning.

He stared at it as the bird squawked again, and the thunder shook the earth for miles around. Its long, narrow beak opened and closed once more, and he heard the explosion of lightning. Electricity exploded from its body with every slight movement, even when it didn't attract a hundred lightning bolts. All he could smell was ozone, which was a scent he would be happy to never smell again.

Ash couldn't believe it. Before him stood one of the Legendary Birds of Kanto, the second he had seen in his journey as a trainer. It was a bit smaller than Articuno at only eighteen feet high, but felt even more powerful. Nothing could have prepared him for seeing another of the primordial avian creatures.

Zapdos didn't attack him, unlike Articuno. It simply looked down at him with its alien, glowing eyes and let loose a thunderous squawk every now and then. His friends remained in their worshipful positions, aside from Infernus. But even Infernus knew better than to attack the great creature.

Its large, spiky feathers seemed to surge as it squawked again. Lightning surged around it, and Ash finally grew brave enough to speak.

"You need to leave!" He shouted. His voice echoed around the chamber, which was silent aside from the crackle of Zapdos' feathers and the roar of the storm.

Zapdos' glowing eyes pulsed, and Ash groaned in pain as it let out a shriek, one that was so much more than anything Plume had ever made. It was less a sound than an expression of the displeasure of a force of nature. Thunder rolled through the facility, and the lights flickered for a moment. When they finally failed for a few moments, the lightning surrounding Zapdos was bright enough to illuminate the entire chamber.

"Leave!" Ash demanded, supported by Infernus' defiant roar. The rest of his friends seemed helpless to resist Zapdos' might aura. "You're destroying Kanto!"

The Bird stopped at that and cocked its head at Ash. Its eyes pulsed with ancient, powerful energy and it opened and closed its beak. More lightning danced across its body, completely harmless to the Legendary.

But it made no attempt to leave. It simply regarded Ash as Ash would regard an insect. To it, Ash was so far beneath its notice that he might as well have been a caterpie.

He clenched its fist as it squawked something at him. The force and energy carried with the powerful expression made him stumble backward, but he refused to back down in the face of the powerful creature.

The storms had to stop. They had shown no sign of weakening, and with the power Zapdos emanated just by existing he didn't see the storm faltering any time soon. But if he couldn't convince the bird to leave and take its deadly storm with it, he would have to try and convince it by force.

It was a doomed prospect, and he knew it. But there was nothing else he could do in this situation. Electric-types could communicate with each other through electrical signals, but he suspected that even attempting to communicate with the great bird would result in permanent damage to Oz.

But he had to do something.

"Infernus, Fire Blast!" He shouted. The air stood still for a moment as his team realized what he had ordered. Ash could tell that they stared at him in shock and horror.

Infernus, however, gleefully carried out the command. He happily spat an immense fireball that burned its way through the air until it dissipated mere feet from the force of nature before them. The magmar growled in frustration when the Fire Blast was destroyed by the bird's presence, but didn't focus upon his failure.

Zapdos' eyes suddenly exploded with energy. Its body no longer consisted of flesh, blood, bone, and feather. It was lightning and storm clouds, given form by energies far beyond Ash's understanding. The Legendary stared down at Infernus furiously, and for a moment Ash thought that he had condemned his friend to death.

Zapdos squawked, but it wasn't even recognizable as mundane sound. Thunder tore through the earth and shifted stone and soil and lightning crackled from the sky and struck the great bird. Its eyes pounded with its yellow energy and a tiny arc of lightning separated from the storm that composed its body.

Before it could smite Ash and Infernus into nothingness, two Ice Beams, a concentrated Psybeam, and a blast of lightning, empowered by Zapdos' presence, shot toward it. Zapdos didn't even feel the attacks as they were disrupted by the field of electricity around it, but was aware of their presence.

Something changed in it. Although it was still Lightning and Storm made manifest, its earlier anger seemed to be tempered by something else. Zapdos was silent as it cocked its great head of lightning and darkness and examined Ash and his friends.

Its eyes, alit by an inner storm, dimmed. Ash's breath was stolen from him as he watched the great bird slowly transform from the titan that could destroy the power plant with a beat of its wings into the majestic bird he had first seen it as.

Zapdos' eyes were still bright as it suddenly gave a tiny flutter of its wings. Five tiny arcs of electricity jumped from its spiky feathers and crackled toward each of his friends. Ash watched in horror as all of his friends, even Nidoking and Torrent, collapsed to the ground. Infernus' body went slack, despite his sheer will to fight on.

Ash felt like rushing down to his friends, but a quick glance showed that they were all breathing. He took a deep breath and met Zapdos' burning eyes once more. The trainer ignored the lightning that surged through his body simply by seeing the bird's power and continued to stare at Zapdos.

It sent another roll of thunder crashing through the world as it squawked yet again, but Ash felt a knife of fear twist into his gut when its eyes grew brighter. He expected a bolt of true lightning to strike down from the heavens and reduce him to ashes for his insolence, but nothing came.

Zapdos thundered at him one more time before it beat its wings and took to the stormy skies. Ash crushed his hands to the sides of his head as hundreds of bolts of lightning split the sky and the earth groaned underneath the energy released by a single flap of the mighty creature's wings.

His teeth rattled and his bones shook, but after a few moments he steeled his will and looked upward just in time to see Zapdos enter the storms as the focus of countless blasts of electricity. A few more rolls of thunder pounded the earth before they slowly grew more and more distant. After ten more seconds, they disappeared entirely.

Ash stared at the sky for moment in disbelief at what had occurred. It was hard to believe that he had seen a second of the Legendary Birds, much less that he'd seen the Bird of Lightning. Zapdos was said to only appear in storms of lightning that covered the entire earth, which certainly seemed to be the truth. He wouldn't have minded if the legends mentioned that Zapdos caused the storms as well.

It was hard to believe that he was so lucky. Not many trainers saw a single Legend in their life, let alone two in their first year of training. He wondered if all Legends were as powerful and majestic as Articuno and Zapdos.

Articuno had frozen an entire cavern system while asleep and proved capable of conjuring a blizzard simply through beating its wings. Zapdos had created a storm that threatened to encompass all of Kanto without putting effort into it. It was disturbing, in a way. Creatures that he couldn't even begin to understand held so much power over the world and nobody could do anything about it. The Creature seemed capable of going toe to toe with them, but he didn't know for certain.

Not that he wanted the Creature anywhere near the Birds. He didn't want the Creature to defeat one of the majestic Legends. That wouldn't bode well for anybody.

Ash sighed and shook his head. There were more important things to worry about. Surge was badly injured, there might be electric-types roaming the power plant, and he didn't know how long it would take for the storm to dissipate. His foolish attempt to stop the storm might not have saved anybody. Zapdos might have taken it somewhere else.

He returned the friends that had stood up to a Legend in his defense and walked out. Hopefully he wouldn't encounter any angry pokemon on the way. They probably weren't thrilled with Ash for removing the source of their unearthly power.

XX

As it turned out, he had nothing to worry about. Any pokemon he crossed simply seemed confused, as though they had left a dream. A few had growled at him if he drew too close, but for the most part they left him alone.

Now he, Brock, and the unconscious Surge were in the power plant's rather dull atrium. It was just another hallway, but one that led to the outside. Appearances weren't too important in a power plant built solely for pokemon to feed in.

"He's going to be alright." Brock announced as he stood up from the injured Surge. Raichu and the others of Surge's team quickly rushed over to their trainer and stood by his side. "That Voltorb did a number on him, though. He needs to see a real doctor when he gets back to Vermillion. There's shrapnel inside of him that I might not have gotten and some of his burns are too severe for the potions to heal completely."

Ash sighed in relief, although unease settled in his stomach. How would they return to Vermillion? It was dangerous to travel since the storm hadn't dissipated yet, and he wasn't sure how they were supposed to traverse the lakes the storm had created in the first place. Northeastern Kanto might as well have been an ocean, albeit a shallow one.

He voiced his thoughts, to which Brock laughed. "The storm's already weakened. I haven't heard any thunder in a long time, and it sounds like the winds are dying down." Brock's tanned face grew serious. "What did you find? I can't imagine Team Rocket being able to maintain a machine in these conditions."

The trainer paused, unsure as to whether he should tell Brock about Zapdos. He knew the League wouldn't hold it accountable or try to track it when they were already busy with the Creature, but he wasn't sure that the truth should be revealed. Some might see the power of the Legends as a threat.

In the end, he told the truth. "Zapdos."

"C'mon, tell me the truth!" Brock laughed. When Ash just stared at him, his face fell. "You're serious?"

"Deadly."

Brock sighed and massaged his temples. "I don't even know what to say, Ash. That's going to have to stay on the low. I'm not sure whether anyone would believe us in the first place."

"You're a gym leader." Ash replied confidently. "They'll have to."

The rock-type leader smiled. "Maybe. I'll have to think about. Lance and the rest of the Elite Four will, but some people won't be so amenable. It'll take some work."

Ash nodded. He figured it was time to ask how they'd get back.

"Teleportation." Brock told him. A grin was on the older boy's face when he saw Ash's expression. "Well, that or we ride Steelix back to civilization then teleport. There's no way we can get through otherwise unless you want to fly."

He shrugged. Plume would probably be happy to take him, but the storm was still too dangerous at the moment. It was the reason why they hadn't opted to fly on pidgeot in the first place. The storm made it incredibly risky to fly in and to think about flying above the clouds was just idiotic. They'd go unconscious in a few minutes.

"Look, I'll take care of Surge." Brock said kindly. "You've been through a lot. Go rest. There's not much you can do anyway."

"Alright. Wake me if you need me." Ash replied. Although it couldn't have been more than two or three hours since he'd woken up, he was exhausted. At the very least he could get a nap. He'd make sure to revive his friends when it was done. By then some of their damage should have been healed.

XX

He looked at the sky in amazement. Brock had told him that it had cleared up, but he couldn't believe that he could actually see warm, blue sky. After weeks of dull grey it was wonderful, just as great as when he'd seen it in the Caverns.

There were still dark clouds, but for the most part it was a calm white. The change was astounding. It looked like Zapdos had decided to take its massive storm along with it. Ash could just hope it decided to slumber somewhere that it wouldn't hurt anyone.

Ash figured that he might as well check and see if communications were up now. Without the swarms of magnemite and the constant lightning, signals might be able to transmit.

For now he decided to try and call Lance. When he called his mother he wanted to have plenty of time to catch up. He'd have to hurry if he wanted to get to their home before she left for Greenfield. It was almost December.

He quickly dialed the Champions number and waited patiently for Lance to pick up. It only took a few seconds before the screen flashed to life and showed Lance's concerned face.

"Are all of you alright?" Lance demanded. His face seemed far less tense than the last time Ash had spoken to him, even through his worried expression.

"Brock and I are fine. Surge got hurt, but we just need to get him to a doctor when we get back to Vermillion." Ash explained. Lance nodded and some of the worry left him, although he looked curious about Surge.

Lance suddenly grinned wildly. It made him look much younger. "I don't suppose you've heard the news, right?"

Ash nodded cautiously.

"I'll send you a few files. But I figured that I should tell you that the money will be added to your account shortly." The Champion told him. That put a smile on his face. He wasn't exactly greedy, but he thought he deserved the money after the trials he and the others suffered through. "But I think I should tell you about the opportunity I mentioned while telling you about the job."

That got his attention. Ash stared at the screen curiously. The last reward Ash had received from the Champion after a job well done had hugely advanced his career as a trainer. Hopefully this one would do the same.

Lance was obviously trying to keep a grin down when he continued. "There's a ship ready to take you to Knot Island when you get back to Vermillion. I've sent the ticket to the gym. It'll tell you everything you need to know about the ship."

"Why am I going to Knot Island?" Ash asked with narrowed eyes. He never thought he'd return to the Sevii Islands. "Are there more Rockets?"

"Nothing so boring." Lance laughed. He crossed his arms and met Ash's eyes. "I'm asking you to come train with me."

XX

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