Ash has always wanted to be a pokemon master. When the time comes for him to pick out his first pokemon, he shocks Professor Oak with a peculiar request. One thing leads to another, and he ends up with a loyal Growlithe. How will this unique situation affect the boy's destiny?


12. Kanto 4 Part 4

Wallace faintly smiled, before answering. "You didn't ask."

Ash rolled his eyes, in advance to giving a response. "That's not exactly a typical question to ask someone."

"Fair enough," replied Wallace. "Truth is; I was just happy to have a conversation as plain old, Wallace."

"What do you mean?"

"Fame is a double-edged sword," said Wallace, while reaching into his coat pocket. "People begin to look at you for your title, instead of who you are as a person."

Even though he was extremely tired, Ash listened attentively.

Wallace pulled a small, tortoise-colored, electronic device out of his coat pocket, as he continued. "I guess it was just nice to have a chat with someone that saw me, for me."

"I think I understand," replied Ash.

"It's okay if you don't," mused Wallace. "Even if you don't understand now, I'm certain you will someday."

"Why's tha–"

Ash was interrupted, as Wallace briskly passed over the turquoise-colored pokegear. "Put your number in there. I'd like to be able to reach you if something comes up."

Ash complied, quickly typing his xtranceiver's number into the on-screen keyboard, before handing it back over to Wallace. "Can you give me yours?"

"I'm calling you right now," said Wallace. "Just save the number."

Ash's xtranceiver quietly vibrated against his wrist, before the dark-haired boy added the unknown number as a contact.

"Don't hesitate to call if you need anything," said Wallace.

"You sure?" asked Ash sincerely. "You're the champion of Hoenn. Don't you have more important calls to take?"

Wallace stuffed his pokegear back in his coat pocket, before replying. "Sometimes...but most of the time daily life of a champion is rather dull. You're a friend now. Friends are a higher priority than boring calls concerning business and public relations."

Ash smiled — life over the past couple of weeks had been absolutely crazy. First he'd made friends with one of the most brilliant researchers in the world, Bill Montgomery. Then, without even knowing it, he befriended the champion of a foreign region — Wallace Mikari. And to top it all off, he'd had a casual conversation with the CEO of Silph Co. — Robert Montgomery.

...One thing had definitely been made clear by all of this — without fail, his journey always remained unpredictable.

"Alright then," responded Ash with a nod. "I'll at least try not to call unless it's important...or if something really cool happens."

"Fair enough," replied Wallace. "Now I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. It's probably about time I head back to my room."

"Same," said Ash.

Ash and Wallace accompanied each other as far as they could, before the routes of their destinations diverged.

"Get some good sleep," said Wallace. "And again, good job today. You should be proud of how you faired in that tournament."

"Thanks," replied Ash. "That means a lot. I'll probably see you sometime tomorrow, right?"

"I'm sure we'll run into each other at some point," said Wallace. "And if you and Austin train tomorrow, let me know. I'd be happy to give you guys some pointers."

"Really?" asked an elated Ash. "That would be awesome!"

"Absolutely," said Wallace. "Just give me a call. My league back home knows that I'm on vacation. They promised not to call unless it's an emergency. So the line should be open. I've got that meeting with Robert in the morning. Other than that I got nothing else going on."

"Tomorrow it is then," answered Ash with an excited nod.

"Tomorrow it is," said Wallace. "Until then, I'm off to my room. I can barely stand I'm so tired."

"See ya Wallace," replied Ash, while re-igniting the walk back to the E Wing.

"Later kid," muttered the champion, heading in a different direction…

On the walk back to his room, the only thing Ash could think about was uniting his head with his pillow. Nothing else seemed to matter.


Ash woke up in a jolt, after hearing a clamorous crash emitted from amidst the hallway. He could hear the sound of Growlithe's unsettling snarl, coming from the edge of the bed. It was the type of growl that the canine only disembogued when something was askew.

The dark-haired boy frantically flipped the switch that belonged to the lamp atop the nightstand. Upon illumination, Ash discerned Growlithe's demeanor. The hair on the back of the pup's neck was fully erect, signifying his alertness.

"What is it boy?" asked Ash, as he checked the digital clock on the face of his xtranceiver — it read 2:32 a.m.

The puppy pokemon nimbly leaped off of the bed, before darting over to the door. He looked back at his trainer with unrestrained eyes, beckoning him out of bed. The look on Growlithe's face had Ash worried — he'd never seen his friend's countenance this feral.

Ash briskly got dressed, wiping the sleep from his eyes in the process.

"Did something bad happen?" asked Ash. "Should I bring my stuff?

Growlithe hastily nodded, before impatiently scratching the door with one of his forepaws.

"Gotchya," answered Ash, as he quickly gathered his things, making sure to leave nothing in the room that was his. He did a detailed inspection along the side of his trainer belt. No matter the circumstances, the young boy refused to go anywhere without the entirety of his team.

Once Ash had assured himself that everyone was accounted for, he was ready to go. He slowly opened the door, before looking both ways to make sure that the corridor was clear.

"I don't know what's going on," said Ash. "Where are we going?"

The pup used his nose to quickly lead Ash a short distance down the hall. When the lavishly decorated corridor opened up into fork, Growlithe took a swift right, leading Ash sharply around a corner.

That's when he saw it.

Smeared across the wall was a muck of red liquid. It didn't take a forensic scientist to deduce that the scarlet smudge was fresh blood.

"Holy-" blurted Ash, as he simultaneously covered his mouth in attempt to silence his trembling voice. He looked down at Growlithe, who was using his olfactory glands to pick up the scent. Ash's hands remained wrapped around his lips, as he saw the tiny dapple of blood pressed up against the tip of his friend's nose.

Growlithe glanced up at Ash with a perturbed expression, before suddenly darting off down the hall. Ash didn't have time to process. In order to keep up with the canine, he was forced to sprint at full-speed. Hopefully the noise of his lumbering foot-steps didn't disturb anyone's sleep. But considering the circumstances, he didn't really care

The distressed canine led Ash into the E Wing's lobby and out of the lodging zone. It was quiet — the only sound that could be heard was the insipid background music that continuously looped through the ship's radio-caste system. Ash's spine tingled and his skin crawled. Between the fresh splotch of blood, and the empty corridors; his current predicament felt like a scene straight out of a horror film.

The duo passed through the lobby, and into one of the D Wing's multiple entrances. Ash was perplexed that he still hadn't seen a single person. Even though it was the middle of the night, he expected that there would at least me some staff members up and about. The majority of the ship's night life was in wing's A through C. Therefore, it made perfect sense that there weren't any passengers active in the upper wings. However, that didn't change the fact that the S.S. Anne was supposed to be staffed and serviced 24-hours a day. It was one of their main marketing points. The fact that the E and D wing's we're presently vacant was extremely bizarre.

Ash's breathing was beginning to grow heavy. Growlithe had him running at a high-pace, and he had no idea how far the pup was going to take him. They brusquely passed through the D wing's lobby, before coming to an abrupt stop at the edge of the quiescent wing's lodging zone. Ash watched, as his canine began to steadily creep forward, using his eyes to portray to Ash that he was to follow suit.

They moved meticulously — careful not to make any noise. Ash wasn't quite sure what was going on, but he trusted the judgment of his starter. His eyes grew big, as he saw a second helping of fresh blood. This time there was a lot more than a mere splotch; it winded across the slick tile like a serpent, creating a trail to follow. Ash gulped, before whispering a prayer to an unknown higher-power.

The stream of blood swerved down the entirety of an abbreviate hallway, before snaking around a corner, and coming to a sudden stop. The trail ended in front of a door that read: "employees only."

Growlithe was about to use his forepaw to scratch on the door, when Ash interjected with a harsh whisper. "Wait!"

The puppy pokemon looked up at Ash with ferocious eyes — anger evident in his disposition. Ash wasn't exactly sure what to think of his pup's behavior.

…It was as if Growlithe already knew what had happened.

"We have no idea what's behind that door," whispered Ash, as he looked at his friend sternly. "We need backup. Something strange is going on aboard this ship."

Growlithe temporarily challenged Ash with his gaze, before eventually conceding with a disappointed huff.

Ash was slightly surprised by Growlithe's stubbornness. The pup had never directly opposed a command before. Even if it was only for a split-second; it was troublesome. If the blood wasn't enough of a sign to prove that something horrific had taken place, Growlithe's intense behavior was. His canine was his most trusted ally. He was the heart of his team — always choosing to lead through loyalty and faithfulness to his trainer. However, right now Growlithe wasn't himself. He had been consumed by worry and malice. Whatever had caused this reaction was more than likely atrocious.

"Come with me," whispered Ash. "I have to make a call."

Despite his reluctance, Growlithe obeyed orders. The puppy pokemon followed his trainer back around the corner and down the hall, moving as scrupulously as possible. Once the lodging hall opened back up into the D Wing's lobby, Ash did a brief scan of his surroundings.

It was still empty.

He led Growlithe passed the front desk, over to the one of the lobby's private bathrooms. The door was heavy and lockable; the perfect place to make a discreet phone call. He walked over to the luxurious restrooms back wall, as far away from the door as possible. He couldn't risk the phone call being listened in on. Especially by an S.S. Anne staff member . Presently, there were way too many signs of some kind of corruption amongst the ship's work crew.

In attempt to calm his pup down; Ash gently stroked the fur behind Growlithe's ears, prior to flipping through the contacts programmed into his xtranceiver. Antecedent to pressing the on-screen call option, he anxiously clicked on the icon corresponding to the number he needed to dial.

The tiny backlit screen read: "Calling Wallace", as it began to ring.




Ash cursed under his breath, as he apprehensively feared an ignored phone call. "Dammit! Dammit! Pick up the phone."




"Ash…is that you?" mumbled the Champion's tired, disembodied voice. "It's nearly three in the morning. Why are you calling me?"

"Thank God you answered. I'm sorry for the inconvenience," muttered Ash quietly. "But there's been an emergency."

Wallace's voice fortified, as he replied. "I'm listening."

"My Growlithe and I came across something extremely worrisome," stuttered Ash. "Can you meet me in the D Wing's lobby? It can't wait. Bring your pokemon."

"...Okay, I'll be there soon," said Wallace.

Ash could hear the evident sound of scrambling through the phone, as Wallace was hastening to get ready.

"Can you explain what's going on?" asked Wallace. "Are you hurt?"

"I'm not," said Ash. "But, someone is."

"Who?" asked Wallace.

"I don't know," said Ash. "Something's going on aboard this ship. My Growlithe and I found a trail of blood in the D Wing's lodging zone."

There was a momentary pause, as Wallace seemingly processed Ash's words.

"I understand. I'm on my way," said Wallace. "Is the lobby clear? Are you sure you're safe to wait there?"

"I'm in one of the lobby's bathrooms with my Growlithe," answered Ash. "The door's locked, so I think I'm safe for now. The entire E and D wings are completely clear of any staff from what I can tell. How far away are you?"

"I see," replied Wallace. "I'm just leaving my room in the C wing. I should be there in a few minutes, so stay where you are."


"I'm going to hang up," said Wallace. "Which bathroom are you in? I'll knock when I'm there."

"The one closest to the front desk," answered Ash.

Ash heard the distinguishable sound of a pokeball release in the background, as Wallace held the phone away from his ear.

"Follow me Swampert, something's come up," said Wallace, before directing his voice back towards the pokegear. "Alright, you said bathroom by the front desk, right? See you in a few."


After the call ended, Ash hit the sleep button on his xtranceiver. He looked down at Growlithe, who was still restless. The pup's eyes were in a vacant daze, as he sat up straight, facing the door.

"Try to relax," murmured Ash. "I made a call to a friend. Whatever's going on aboard this ship, he'll help us sort it out."

Growlithe looked up at Ash with pleading eyes, as his mental state shifted from anger and fear, to solemnness. He quietly whined, while pacing in circles around Ash.

Ash crouched down into a squat, meeting his pup at eye level. He softened his eyes — gently stroking the tuft atop Growlithe's head. As Ash's serene poise rubbed off on him, the canine's countenance seemed to slightly settle by installments. The boy spent the next couple of minutes contemplating what could have caused such an adverse reaction. A loud noise and the smell of blood may be enough to get a member of Growlithe's species riled up. But this was different. It felt more personal. Almost like Growlithe had seen the crime take place, and felt the emotions involved.

His rumination was cut short, when there was a solid knock on the door. Ash was quick to answer, slowly cracking the door open for the champion. The dark-haired boy was relieved to see Wallace. Before a visual, there had been a strong looming thought in the back of his mind — what if someone else was on the other side of the door?

It was evident that Wallace had just woken up. His hair was all over the place and his eyes looked tired. His attire was elegant, but slightly less formal. He wore a slim, white dress-shirt with a staggering turquoise design. Wallace's polyester pants were a rich purple, depicting a certain air of royalty.

"Are you alright?" asked Wallace, as Ash and Growlithe filed out of the doorway.

"Yeah I–"

Ash's response was interrupted, as he saw the creature that stood by Wallace's side. It was definitely foreign, unlike anything that he had ever seen. The large, blue, fish-like reptilian stood on its bipedal legs, eyeing Ash with its beady, yellow eyes. The two, semi-circular, black fins on its head flopped back and forth, as it gazed down at Growlithe.

Ash glanced over at his pup, who appeared to be somewhat flustered by the strange pokemon. "It's okay buddy. It's one of the Champion's friends."

"Swampert, try and look a little less intimidating," groaned Wallace, as he lightly smacked the back of its neck. "Ash is our friend."

The pokemon known as Swampert shot its trainer an annoyed grimace, before holding its three fingered hand out to Ash.

The dark-haired boy was slightly dumfounded, while he shook the foreign beast's scaly hand. Swampert muttered something in its native tongue, as it released itself from the handshake. After its hand was free, it leaned over and patted a bewildered Growlithe gently on the head.

"That's better," said Wallace, before changing the subject. "Now Ash, show me where you found the blood."

"Okay…" said Ash, as he took his eyes off of the amazing exotic pokemon. "Follow me."

Accompanied by Growlithe and Swampert, Ash led Wallace across the lobby and over to the D Wing's lodging zone. They moved quietly — careful not to make any significant noise. Ash was astonished by the dexterity of the bulky, assumed to be water-type. Despite its powerful build, it was easily capable of concealing the sound of its movement.

When they neared the site of the blood, Growlithe's nose began to quiver. As they re-approached the scene, Ash could see the ferociousness reignite in his canine's expression. He wondered if maybe the pup's feral behavior was caused by the species' rumored ability to smell emotions. It made sense. If Growlithe was truly capable of picking up an emotion's scent; it was possible that the pup had felt the anguishing feelings akin to the incident. Ash made a mental note to explore this theory sometime in the near future; it may also have something to do with Growlithe's bizarre case of social anxiety.

The fresh blood lied in the same spot as before, coiling through the hallway towards the "employee's only" passage.

"Damn...that's a lot of blood," whispered Wallace, as they approached the door. "Ash it's up to you if you want to go any further. I don't want to be held responsible for what you might see. Swampert, prepare for a confrontation — things could get ugly."

The foreign water-type emitted a low, quiet grunt as it nodded its head.

Ash glanced down at Growlithe, who had a look of determination depicted across his face. The dark-haired boy gulped, before conjuring the courage to see this thing through to the end.

"I'll come," said Ash. "Growlithe and I would like to help if we can."

"Alright then," muttered Wallace, while attempting to pry open the locked door. "We can't waste any more time."

"It's locked…" groaned Ash, while rolling his eyes. "How are we going to get in?"

"It's not a problem," said Wallace, as he diverted his attention towards Swampert. "Break the lock quietly with ice beam and hammer arm."

Swampert took a deep breath, before emitting a silent, white beam. The temperature in the room temporarily fluctuated, as the frigid emission caused the room to turn cold. It lasted for the blink of an eye, before dwindling away. In wake of the quick-fire ice beam was a medial-sized slab of frozenness. It enshrouded the door's handle — protruding out of the door like a minuscule ice-berg.

"Try not to be loud with the hammer arm," commanded Wallace. "Hit it just hard enough to destroy the lock. We want to remain unnoticed for now. The fact that this mess wasn't cleaned up is very strange. Whoever did it obviously isn't worried about covering it up."

Swampert winded back its' right arm, enshrouding it in an orange blanket of energy. Ash could literally feel the power stored within its extremity, while the orange gilled creature swiftly struck the slab of ice. The impact was quieter than Ash would have expected, as the miniature iceberg in addition to the handle and part of the door, were severed from their originally crafted positions.

"Damn," said Ash, as Swampert easily pushed the door open in wake of the aftermath. "That was awesome."

"Yup," replied Wallace, while rubbing his eyes. "Swampert's ice beam tends to make most inanimate objects relatively brittle. Under normal circumstances, hammer arm would have done the job on its own. However, the volume from that approach would have been an issue."

"Makes sense," whispered Ash. "Are you ready?"

"Of course," answered Wallace with a smirk. "I was about to ask you the same question. Let's go."

Wallace and Swampert entered through the doorway, while Ash and Growlithe followed closely behind. The entrance revealed a long, narrow corridor. The trail of blood snaked its way all the way down the hall, before taking a sharp left turn. It was evident that a body had been dragged; and judging by the sheer amount of blood it was most likely dead. Whether it was human or pokemon was unknown. A lot of the earth's animalistic creatures had the same red-colored blood as the human race.

"Move quietly," whispered Wallace, as they traveled down the hall, while following the smeared scarlet trail. "Keep a look out behind us, Ash."

"Okay," replied Ash quietly, as he looked down to make sure Growlithe was still by his side.

The puppy pokemon glanced up at Ash with dangerous eyes, attempting to portray to his trainer that he was ready for confrontation.

As they approached the point where the trail diverted, Wallace signaled for them to stay put, before covertly glancing around the corner.

"It's clear," said Wallace, as he confidently stepped forward. "Come on let's go."

Ash, Growlithe, and Swampert obediently followed the Champion, while he led them down another hallway. This one was much shorter, quickly revealing another division within the corridor. Just before the hallway veered left, there was a cracked open door.

…In front of the door the trail of blood finally ceased.

In attempt to signal for them to be silent, Wallace placed a single finger up against his lips. He carefully maneuvered around the puddle of blood, placing his ear up against the sliver of open space in between the door and the frame. Behind the door, they could hear a conversation between two men with rough intonations.

Ash followed suit, precariously dodging the blood like it was an explosive in a minefield. He crouched down to the ground, pressing his ear to the crack in order to successfully eavesdrop…

"So according to the executive leader, the plan should have already been completed," said the lower of the two male inflections.

"They were supposed to have the target out of here by 1:45," replied the other young, rough sounding man. "So unless there were some unforeseen complications, I believe you're right."

"God...this plan's been in the woodworks for so damn long," groaned the deep, scratchy voice.

"It's going to be worth it though," replied the younger of the two voices. "The world's reaction is going to be priceless."

"When they find out that Team Rocket is back," said the deeper inflection. "The region is going to breakout into an uproar."

Ash's eyes grew big and his lower lip trembled, at the sound of the infamous name. There wasn't a single soul in Kanto that hadn't heard of the devilish crime-syndicate, known as: Team Rocket. Team Rocket was a massive underground organization, whose foundation was rotten to the core. Where their name arises, chaos soon follows. Not much is known about their leadership, or who is amongst their ranks. But, their organization is responsible for several large-scale crimes over the past decade.

…The bombing of Fuchsia City's city hall in, 2005.

...The chaotic armed robbery of the Celadon Department Store in, 2007.

…The robbery of the Pewter Museum of Science in, 2008.

…In 2010, there was the abduction of several scientists, stationed at the Pokemon Lab on Cinnabar Island.

And those are just to name a few. Team Rocket's account of tcransgressions, would make a yellow-book look like a travel brochure. Fortunately for the region of Kanto, the organization had remained dormant for the past five years. No one knows why. Some people say that they lost sight of their original goal and therefore disbanded. Others believe that there was fallout amongst their ranks, causing an internal implosion. But most people are convinced that they've been biding their time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.

Regardless, one thing was absolutely certain; their presence on this ship was unnerving.

The lower inflection gratingly coughed, before continuing. "Dammit! We've got to do something about this kid's body. The atrocious smell is starting to get to me."

"Just bear with it," replied the other disembodied voice. "We've only got ten minutes until we're supposed to report to deck."

"Do you think we should have cleaned up our mess?" asked the deeper voice. "Don't you think we could get in trouble with the executive if we get caught?"

"Na…it's no big deal," replied the young, raspy inflection. "Besides, we did the woman a favor. The damn squirt was snooping around the ship. If we didn't kill him, who knows what could have happened."

"Well, I know we had to kill him…" said the lower intonation. "But what if someone traces the blood?"

"Eh…whatever," retorted the raspy man. "The ship will be up in flames in thirty minutes anyways."

Ash nearly fell over, as Wallace finally had heard enough. The Champion burst through the door in a fury, confronting the two wicked men.

"What the hell!" shouted the man with the raspy intonation. He looked to be around his mid-twenties. He was relatively thin, and his countenance looked corrupt. You could see the sin oozing through his eyes, as he glared at Wallace.

"Dammit Sid, I knew we should have cleaned up that mess!" bellowed the other Rocket, while reaching for a pokeball that was fastened to his uniform's belt.

The man with the lower inflection was a large, boarder line obese, middle-aged man. After a brief observation, Ash was able to deduce that they both wore the same black jump-suit. Painted across their chests was a big red "R" — recognizable as Team Rocket's infamous logo.

"Disarm and constrain, Swampert!" commanded the champion with fire in his eyes. "Try not to cause too much damage, I want to interrogate them.

The exotic water-type barreled into the room, simultaneously firing a lightning-fast barrage of water-guns. They honed in on their targets, destroying the clip in between their pokeballs and trainer belts. The result was a distinct clattering sound, caused by the cluster of metallic spheres colliding with the tile. The impact between the spheres and the ground thankfully didn't result in a release, since the capture devices had yet to be enlarged.

With a violent thrust of its palms, Swampert proceeded to send both of the disgusting humans hurtling towards the wall. Upon impact, he subsequently emanated a flurry of ice beams. The temperature in the room, once again dropped for a fraction of a second, as the beams of ice tore through the air. They struck both of the Rockets at four points, binding them to the wall with cuffs of hailstone. The two men lied against the wall — limbs stretched out like a staryu.

As Wallace approached the two men with an unrestrained dogma, Ash noticed the battered body wedged into the corner of the room. He gagged at the sight, barely managing not to throw up — he'd never seen something so abominable. There were multiple lacerations around the abdomen, an evident sign of a stabbing. The young boy was drenched in his own blood, and his eyes were still open portraying an image of hopelessness. How someone could do something like this to a child his age was heinous.

But, unfortunately, the gruesomeness of the sight wasn't the worst part about it.

…The repugnancy of the murder wasn't what caused Ash's stomach to drop and his body to tremor.

He knew him — Ash recognized his face.

It was the boy he'd battled against in the last round of the preliminaries.

It was Chance Chapman — the trainer with the promising pidgeotto.

Growlithe scampered over to the boy's body. His whine was solemn, as he sniffed at the pokeballs attached to Chance's belt. There were four red and white spheres fastened around his trainer belt. Ash held his breath, as he pushed through the foul smell of the mangled body. He knew what he had to do. He had to deliver Chance's pokeballs to someone that could properly take care of them, preferably Professor Oak. The Professor's corral was well known for being one of the best domestic pokemon reserves in the region. They would be safe to mourn under the Professor's watch.

Ash glanced over at Growlithe, who nodded his head in approval. The dark-haired boy detached Chance's pokeballs from his belt, before using an untainted part of Chance's jacket to too wipe the blood from the mechanical orbs. He pulled off his backpack, before placing the quartet of pokeballs in one of the middle pockets. The ten-year old boy simultaneously heard the cry of painful sounding grunts behind him, as Wallace interrogated the criminals.

"Come on boy," said Ash, as he stood up from his crouch. "There's nothing else we can do here."

Growlithe murmured, before following Ash over to Wallace and the two shackled Rockets.

"Tell me where the bomb is now!" ordered Wallace, as he punched the heavier of the two Rockets in the gut.

The alto-toned man coughed up blood, as he answered with a barbarous laugh. "Even if I knew, I wouldn't tell you — Wallace Mikari."

Wallace responded with another powerful uppercut, before replying. "You must know something!"

The man retorted with another maniacal laugh, as a stream of blood dribbled down his chin. "I do know this. You better start moving if you want to stop this ship from blowing up. The clock's ticking."

"Why is Team Rocket doing this?" asked Wallace vehemently. "What's your motive?"

The man snickered under his breath, before sadistically smiling from ear to ear. "Power; what else is there?"

"I see…" said Wallace, before changing the subject on account of the man's insanity. "I have one more question. I overheard you talking about a target. Who was it?"

The heavyset rocket instantaneously glanced at his younger accomplice, who gave him a smile bearing nod. "I guess it won't bring any harm to the operation. It's already been done anyway. The executive has kidnapped Robert Montgomery — good luck finding him."

Wallace's eyes bulged and his expression contorted, as he grabbed the man by the hair. "Tell me you didn't!"

The masochistic Rocket laughed, while the champion viciously ripped at his scalp.

The skinnier of the two Rockets interjected; his countenance was cold and unembellished. "He's not dead, if that's what you're saying. The executive made it perfectly clear that no one was to harm him — the Boss needs him."

"Boss?" asked Wallace. "Is the Boss different from the executive?"

"The executives are the Boss's most trusted members…" hissed the raspy-toned Rocket. "The Boss is our leader."

"The Boss, eh?" thought Wallace aloud, as he turned to Ash. "Let's go Ash…we're done here. We've got to get everyone off of this ship. We don't have much time."

"Hold on," pleaded Ash. "I have to know something before we go."

"Very well," muttered Wallace. "But make it quick. Lives are at stake."

Ash directed his attention towards the raspy-toned Rocket, before asking his question. "Why did you kill the kid? Why did you kill Chance?"

"He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time," said the Rocket. "He overheard us talking about the plan."

"So, you killed an innocent kid," answered Ash. "Because he was wandering the halls at the wrong time."

"Pretty much," replied the Rocket known as Sid, while creepily licking his lips. "I also like the sight of blood."

"You monster!" howled Ash, as he threw his fist at the man's face.

Wallace quickly interposed, grasping Ash firmly by the wrist. "Ash, we don't have time for this. We have to go!"

"He killed an innocent kid!"

"And many more will die if we don't hurry!" scolded Wallace. "The S.S. Anne is about to blow! We have to warn the rest of the passengers!"

Ash looked down at Growlithe, who frantically gestured his head towards the door. "Okay. I see your point."

"Alright, so we need to find the ship's intercom system," said Wallace. "Follow me. My guess is that it's in the A Wing."

"Wait…Wallace," said Ash, as he gestured towards the two Rockets. "I know they probably deserve it, but what about them? Are we just going to leave them here?"

Wallace frowned. "I don't like the prospect of leaving anyone to die, but we don't have a choice. We can't let them go free. If they disclose that we have knowledge of the bomb to their associates, they could destroy our chances at saving the rest of the passengers."

"I see what you're saying," replied Ash with a contemplative expression. "But…"

"No buts!" barked Wallace. "Every second we waste is vital! Ash these are the tough decisions you to make, when you've been given the opportunity to make a difference. If we have to let two evil souls perish in order to save thousands, it's really a no brainer. This is the choice we must make!"

Ash gulped, as the two Rocket's fates had been decided. "I understand."

Ash and Growlithe followed Wallace and Swampert out of the room. As they exited the small cabin, they could hear a duet of crazed laughter coming from behind them.

"Remember our names kid — Sid and Jack!" hissed the scrawnier of the two Rockets. "I hope our deaths haunt you for the rest of your life!"

Wallace responded by shutting the door, muting the voice of the psychopathic Rocket. "Don't listen to him, Ash. This one's on me. I made the choice, so let me live with the pain."

Ash didn't know what to say. He simply remained quiet, while Wallace led them down the hall — back towards the entrance. The trail of blood was even more ominous the second time around. Knowing that it belonged to someone he knew, made the experience that much more repugnant. As hard as Ash tried to fight off the intrusive thoughts, he couldn't remove Chance's mangled body from his mind. The blood, the smell, the look of hopelessness in his eyes; he couldn't disintegrate the awful cerebral impressions. His mind had been scarred by the image of a mutilated boy. His psyche had forever been tainted, by his first encounter with pure evil.

Ash looked down at Growlithe, who appeared to be going through a similar mental digestion. The pup had been just as affected as Ash — maybe even more so. If Ash's hypothesis was correct, Growlithe had felt the murder take place with his aromatic awareness. Witnessing a murder and seeing its aftermath, are two entirely different cataclysms. Ash wasn't entirely positive how different the mental affects of witnessing a murder visually or aromatically would be. But, he was sure that Growlithe's trauma was probably worse than his.

"Ash, can you call Austin?" asked Wallace — interrupting the boy's mental assimilation. "We'll probably need his firepower."

"Okay," stuttered Ash, as they passed through the "employee's only" door, back into the D Wing's lodging zone. "I'll call him right now."

In search of Austin's pokegear number, Ash flipped through the contacts compiled within his xtranceiver. Once he found it, he quickly pressed dial.






"Yes…" griped Austin hazily, as he picked up the phone.

"Austin. It's Ash," said the ten-year old boy. "There's been an emergency. Wallace and I need your help."

"An emergency?" mumbled Austin. "What kind of emergency?"

"Like…this ship's about to blow up in twenty-five minutes kind of emergency," replied Ash. "Team Rocket's on this ship. They kidnapped Robert Montgomery."

"…What the f-!"

Austin's verbal explosion was interrupted by Wallace, as the champion grabbed Ash's wrist in order to talk into the xtranceiver. "Austin it's Wallace. I need you to grab all of your important stuff and meet us in the A Wing's lobby in five minutes. This place has been completely infiltrated by Team Rocket. Do not trust anybody on staff. Like Ash said, we only have twenty-five minutes in counting. Grab your pokemon and anything else that's important, hurry!"

Wallace indelicately released Ash's wrist, as he cantered off in a jog. "Ash, Swampert, Growlithe — lets go!"

Ash held his xtranceiver up to his lips, as he followed Wallace at a high-pace. "See you soon man."



The A Wing wasn't nearly as empty as the upper wings. It was far from busy, but there were still a few active passengers. Ash and Wallace spotted Austin, who was anxiously pacing back and forth by the lobby's unoccupied front desk. Ash watched as the chiseled face teenager's eyes lit up, when he caught a glimpse of them rapidly approaching.

"Ash, what the hell man? You can't tell me that the ship's about to blow up, and then hang up the freaking phone," scolded Austin.

"What else was I supposed to do?" asked Ash. "I don't have time to explain. We've got to get this ship evacuated."

"He's right," interrupted Wallace. "Austin, there is no time to argue about anything. Time is ticking as we speak."

"Fair enough," groaned Austin. "What do we have to do to make sure that nobody dies?"

"Well, we need to inform the entire ship of what's going on," explained Wallace. "The fastest way to do that is to use the ship's PA system — which is located in the wheelhouse on the bridge."

"And where's that?" asked Austin.

"In the A Wing," answered Ash. "That's why we're here."

"The A Wing is the biggest part of the ship," stated the young teen, facetiously. "Where in the A Wing are we supposed to go?"

"I know the way," replied Wallace. "My first day aboard the ship, Ariana took me on a tour of the bridge. Follow me."

"Alright," answered the two boys simultaneously. "Let's go."

Wallace led the group through the lobby and passed the A Wing's lodging zone. The A wing's cabins were few and far between, signifying their diminutive selectivity and enormous size. The wing consisted of numerous deluxe penthouses and the ship's casino. It also served as the primary entertainment wing, consisting of the bulk of the ship's night life.

As they neared the edge of the lodging zone, Austin spoke up. "Why don't we try and disarm the bomb?"

"We have no idea where it is," muttered an exhausted Ash, while they entered the A Wing's state of the art casino. "The Rockets we interrogated didn't even know its location."

"Dammit!" cursed Austin. "Wallace, do you really think that we'll be able to get everyone off?"

"It's hard to say," huffed Wallace, as they sprinted through the casino. "All we can do is try our best!"

In response to their haste, the squadron of five got several confused stares from the gambling passengers.

"Why aren't we informing the people that we're passing by?" asked Austin. "Wouldn't it save us time?"

"Not necessarily," answered Wallace. "People are skeptical. In order to ensure that they'll take the alert seriously, we need to do whatever we can to deliver the message in a credible way. The only people with access to the ship's intercom system is the Captain and the Cruise Director. The passengers are much more likely to listen if the message is delivered through the system."

Ash checked both of his peripherals. To his right was Growlithe. The puppy pokemon looked to be holding up well. Ash wasn't surprised; his starter's endurance training had been rigorous over the passed month. To his left was Wallace's Swampert. The foreign water-type didn't even seem phased by the long-distance lope — which was to be expectant of a Champion's pokemon.

However, Ash himself was feeling the throes of exhaustion. And after taking one good look at Wallace, he could tell that the champion was as well. The grind of pushing their bodies to the limit for an extended period of time was starting to wear on them. Wallace wasn't nearly as tired as Ash, though. The champion's mature body, and evident proof of physical conditioning, had him prepared for times like this. Ash, on the other hand, was merely ten years old. His body was premature and fragile — years away from its physical prime. Right now, there wasn't all that much Ash could do other than persevere through the strain.

When they reached the other side of the casino the A Wing opened up into a second antechamber. This lobby appeared to be much more bent towards entertainment based guest services. It was busier than the other lobbies they had passed through — which was expectant of the A Wing. Ash noticed that the people appeared to be peeved by the delay of service. The front desk was once again unoccupied — which didn't come as a surprise. If what the two Rockets from the D Wing said was true, the majority of the Rocket infested staff was probably reporting to deck in order to escape the explosion.

After jogging through the lobby, they followed Wallace into a narrow, abbreviate corridor.

"Are we almost there?" asked Ash, while breathing heavily.

"It's right up ahead," stated Wallace, as they approached another, employee's only, door.

Upon advent, Wallace swiftly reached out and pulled on the door's handle. Surprisingly, it was unlocked — which saved them a considerable amount of time. The champion swung open the heavy door, before hastily signaling the rest of them through.

"Keep your eyes peeled," warned Wallace. "Now might be a good time to release a pokemon, Austin."

"Gotchya," answered the teenager, as they trotted down the corridor.

The messy haired teen unclipped a pokeball from his belt, before pressing down the release button. In a flash of incandescent, white light a powerful looking golduck was revealed. It momentarily paused — confused by its current whereabouts.

"There's been an emergency!" explained Austin. "Follow us! Be prepared for battle!"

The blue, bipedal, duck-like pokemon accepted the command with engaged eyes, as it cantered alongside its trainer. It cracked open its' long, cream-colored beak and used one of its sharp, webbed claws to tap the red jewel embedded into its forehead. In concurrence with the tap, a wide, purple-tinted light encompassed their surroundings. Ash recognized the technique as light screen — a status move that helps protect against elemental attacks.

"Good thinking, Golduck!" praised Austin, as they turned around a sharp corner. "That'll give us protection from unwarranted projectiles."

"Hopefully we won't need it," stated Wallace, as they neared a door at the end of the corridor. "This is the passage to the wheelhouse. The intercom should be in here."

The champion heaved open the door, antecedent to instantaneously dashing to the right of the embellished room. Ash's eyes bulged, as a flurry of purple coated needles, were fired at the door like a round of ammunition poured fourth from a tommy gun.

"Swampert, intercept!" commanded Wallace.

The foreign water-type rushed forward, using all four of its limbs to quickly cover ground. It gaped open its mouth, before unloading an enormous, hard-packed ball of mud at the enfilade of toxic needles. It caused a muculent explosion — filth flew everywhere in response to the collision, temporarily obscuring everyone's vision of the room.

Ash quickly turned to Austin. "Did you see its source?"

"No...I didn't," answered Austin. "But that was a flurry of poison stings. It's got to be some kind of poison-type."

"Must be…" muttered Ash, as he looked down at his fuming fire-type.

"Good thing you put up that light screen," said Austin, to his golduck. "It kept all of us squeaky clea-."

Austin's doltish statement was interrupted by a charged up Ash.

"I see it!" howled the ten-year old boy, as a vehement cobra pokemon unveiled itself. "It's an arbok!"

Behind the purple-scaled, serpentine pokemon., Ash could see the form of its trainer. The creepy looking man that commanded the fully-evolved arbok wore the same black jump suit as the Rockets from the D Wing. Furthermore, his weasel-like countenance was familiar. Ash recognized him. He was the man that had signed him up for the tournament on his first day aboard the ship — Reid.

Wallace sprinted back over to the boys, who both stared ahead at the creepy Rocket. "You two, do you see the intercom system over there?"

Ash examined Wallace, who was pointing towards the right side of the room. The right half of the wheelhouse served as the ship's command center. Pushed up against a fiber-glass wall, was a gangling counter that bore all kinds of buttons and controls. Through the transparent wall, you could see the bridge-deck and the eerie, black ocean. The only light that could be seen was the reflection of the stars — which was about to alter, on account of the explosive fire that would engulf the S.S. Anne in less than twenty minutes.

"I don't see it," blurted Austin. "There's way to much crap over there to single anything out."

"Is that it?" asked Ash, as he pointed at a small, radio-like device, situated to the right of the annular steering wheel.

"Yes!" shouted Wallace. "Go make the announcement! I'll take care of the Rocket!"

"What should I do?" asked Austin anxiously.

Wallace pointed over to the other side of the room, while Swampert fired another mud bomb in order to fend off a second barrage of poison stings. "Go check if they're alive!"

Before Ash headed over to the intercom system, he glanced over at the left side of the wheelhouse. Pushed up against the wall were two limp bodies. The idle men wore proper navy-blue captain's attire — their formal hats lied a few feet from their bodies, stained by scarlet-red blood.

"Dammit!" yelled Austin. "I didn't notice them until now! Let's go check on em Golduck!"

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