Essence

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?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11113835/1/Essence

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26. Kanto 8 Part 2

He paused before reaching out to shake their hands, "I am Sebastian Trobee, head scientist of the Capture Device Department, nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you, too," answered Ash as he shook Sebastian's hand. "My name's Ash Ketchum. I'm a pokemon trainer from Pallet Town."

Sebastian gave Ash a nod of acknowledgement before turning to his attention to Austin.

"I'm Austin Turner from Fuchsia City," said the chiseled faced teenager while he also shook Sebastian's hand. "I'm a pokemon trainer as well."

After shaking both of their hands, Sebastian gave them an awkward grin before turning his head toward Robert.

"So, you're here for a tour…" mumbled the old techie. "Why didn't you tell me ahead of time, Boss? I would have had the squad tidy up a little bit."

"Psht!" Robert blustered, "you, tidy up, I don't believe it for a second!"

"Boss!" scoffed Sebastian, clearly offended. "That was uncalled for."

"What do you mean it was uncalled for?" questioned Robert. "Sebastian, we've been having this same conversation for years, and things never change. The last couple of times I've come to this floor this place has been a pigsty."

"But, but, but," stammered Sebastian, "our lives revolve around capture devices. Doesn't it make sense that this room would be flooded with them? Do they really constitute for what you would call a mess?"

"They do when you have to watch every step you take because you're afraid of slipping on a pokeball," said Robert. "All I ask is that you keep them off of the ground. As long as you finish your work, I don't care how unorganized your workers' stations are. However, since I have to come down here on the occasion, I would appreciate it if you would pick all of the capture devices up off of the ground. At my age, I'd rather not take a tumble if I don't have to."

"Fair enough, Boss," said the old techie. "We will try and keep them off of the ground."

"Thank you," retorted Robert. "Now, would you mind leading the way to the vault…I would like to show Ash and Austin what we have stowed away inside."

Sebastian's body tensed up as he registered Robert's words, "B-but, Boss—"

"No buts!" scolded Robert. "If it weren't for these kids, it would have fallen into the clutches of Team Rocket a long time ago! If anyone has earned the right to see it, it would be them!"

As Robert laid into Sebastian, Ash watched while they got a multitude of surprised stares from the technical specialists around them. Up to this point, almost all of them had stayed immersed in their work, thus the change in the atmosphere was especially apparent.

"Alright, Boss, I understand," mumbled Sebastian while slouching his shoulders and dropping his head. "Follow me."

"Wise choice," huffed Robert as he adjusted his watch. "Bill, Sabrina, boys, let's go. I wish to show you what you risked your lives to protect."

All four of them nodded as they began to follow Sebastian and Robert to the other side of the fourteenth floor.

XXX

"Wow, look at it," said Ash with gleaming eyes as he stared ahead at the pristinely designed capture device.

It was spherical in shape, just like every other capture device, although its upper-half was dark purple with two fuchsia pink circles at the very top. Located right above the release button was a bold, white, capital M, signifying its name: Master Ball.

"This is it," said Robert with a smile as he carefully handled the Master Ball. "The Master Ball: the ultimate capture device. It is capable of catching any pokemon, of any level, on the first try."

"Damn…" drawled Austin, "I like the way it looks."

"Thank you," inserted Sebastian with a smile, "I came up with the design. I'm glad you like it. I had a tough time choosing between purple and silver. However, we decided to stick to Saffron's prestigious colors. It was born here after all."

"A great choice," added Sabrina, bearing one of her rare smiles. "It's beautiful. I desire to have one of my own."

"I'm sorry, Sabrina, but that's just not possible," retorted Robert as he showed the Master Ball to each of them slowly in order to give them a good look. "The Master Ball is one of a kind, and we plan on keeping it that way."

Sabrina's initial reaction was a minuscule frown before she nodded her head in understanding.

"But, Dad?" questioned Bill, "this is a monumental breakthrough. You can't keep it to yourself. The Master Ball could change everything."

Once everyone had gotten a good look, Robert placed it back in the small, armored safe that it had previously resided in. The safe was located within a massive vault in the far corner of the fourteenth floor. The vault required a multitude of different fragments of Robert's DNA such as a strand of hair, a swab of saliva, a finger print and even a pinch of blood.

Needless to say, there was no way that Team Rocket would have ever gotten in without having kidnapped Robert. The corrupt organization had all of the major details planned out perfectly. Luckily, destiny put Ash and his friends in the right place at the right time…

"That is exactly why it must remain alone and a secret," replied Robert with sincerity in his voice. "Bill, can you imagine what would happen if the general populace could get their hands on something like this? It would be a disaster. No longer would catching powerful pokemon require skill. Anyone with money could become powerful beyond measure."

He paused.

"The Master Ball can catch anything and everything on the first try. The stamina of the pokemon doesn't matter. Its power-level doesn't matter. Its breed doesn't matter. Nothing matters. The Master Ball will always win. It is absolute."

"Well, if you don't plan on making any more of them, I presume that you have no plans of allowing the Master Ball to be available to the League?" asked Bill.

"As of now, I have no plans of making it available to anyone," said Robert. "If it were up to me, it would remain stowed away in this vault until long after my death."

A question stirred within Ash's mind as he listened to Robert's words.

"Why was it created then?" asked the ten-year-old boy. "If you don't plan on using it, why go to the trouble of making it, especially when its existence puts you at risk to people like Team Rocket?"

"Good question, Ash," answered Robert with an amused smile as he turned his attention over to Sebastian. "I'll let the brains behind its existence answer for me."

Sebastian raised his hand up to his chin as he appeared to be in deep thought, "Boss, there are several reasons why the creation of the Master Ball was necessary.

"That's true," retorted Robert, "but what's the primary reason? Why did we start the project in the first place?"

"Ah…protection of course," answered Sebastian with a quirky smile.

"Protection?" queried Austin. "How can a capture device protect you?"

"Austin Turner has a good point," added Sabrina. "Up to this point, the existence of the Master Ball has only caused trouble for Saffron and the Montgomery family. How exactly does it offer us protection?"

"We're not talking about protection from an organization like Team Rocket," said Sebastian matter-of-factly.

"Then what are you talking about?" asked Bill with curious eyes.

"We're talking about—" started Robert before getting interrupted by Sebastian.

"I got this, Boss," he interjected. "It's rare that I get an opportunity to talk about my creation."

"Okay…" drawled Robert, "I apologize for interrupting. Continue then."

"We're talking about protection from pokemon," said Sebastian. "The creation of the Master Ball was necessary to ensure that we can protect ourselves in case of a catastrophe."

"…Protection from pokemon? A catastrophe?" queried Ash, clearly intrigued. "What are you talking about?"

"Ash, you're aware of Legendaries, right?" retorted Sebastian as he stuck his hands in the pockets of his pajama pants.

Everyone in the bare vault went quiet at the mention of the word Legendaries.

"I'll take that as a yes," replied Sebastian with a brief burst of laughter. "Anyways, since you've heard of Legendaries, I assume that you are aware of the ones that are rumored to dwell within Kanto."

"Moltres, Aritcuno, Zapdos and Mew!" blurted Bill, unable to control himself.

That is correct, Bill, although I wasn't asking you," huffed Sebastian before turning his head back toward Ash. "You do know of these four Legendaries, right?"

Ash responded with a nod while reflecting back on the stories that Professor Oak had told Gary and him growing up.

"Of these four Legendaries, which one is said to be the strongest?" asked Sebastian with anticipation in his eyes.

Ash didn't even have to think about it.

"Mew," retorted the ten-year-old boy with confidence in his answer.

"Correct," answered Sebastian. "Researchers that have devoted their lives to studying Legendaries would classify Mew as an S-rank Legendary, which would make Mew one of the rarest and strongest pokemon on the planet."

"S-rank?" questioned Austin. "What does that mean?"

"S-rank is one of six classifications that scientists use to sort out how rare and powerful a Legendary is," explained Sebastian. "The six classifications are C, B, A, S, SS and SSS. C is the lowest and SSS is the highest. Most Legendaries fall in the C through A range. A handful of Legendaries bear the S-rank. And only a few Legendaries occupy the range SS to SSS."

"Damn…" drawled Austin, "I've never heard of a classification system before."

"That's because it's information that is withheld from the general public," said Sebastian. "However, since the boss trusts you enough to show you the Master Ball, I assume he has no qualms about me sharing this with you. "

"None whatsoever," interjected Robert. "I would have told them if you didn't."

"That's what I thought," retorted the scientist with a smirk before pivoting his eyes back over to Ash and Austin.

"Anyways, given that, Mew, the highest ranked Legendary in Kanto is an S-rank," said Sebastian, "and that Mew is rumored to be extremely placid, Kanto doesn't have a lot of tragic legends in its past. Therefore, there isn't a big focus on the Legendaries in our region, which has resulted in an utter lack of defense against them if something unexpected ever occurred."

"Unexpected…" said Ash. "But Legendaries are legendary for a reason. Few have been seen in recent years, and the ones that have didn't do anything that could be labeled as threatening. I'm confused. What are you guys so worried about?"

Sebastian opened his mouth to respond, but was quickly cut-off by Robert, who clearly wanted to be the one to answer Ash's question.

"That's not entirely true…" interrupted Robert with a solemn look on his face, "there was one incident."

"An incident?" asked Bill, who looked confused for the first time since the conversation began.

"What are you referring to, Robert?" asked Sabrina, clearly intrigued.

Ash's nerves spiked the second that Sabrina finished asking her question. It was rare that Sabrina didn't know about something. Not only was she usually in the loop because of her status as a gym leader, but she also had an incredible amount of insight due to her psychic powers. The fact that Sabrina didn't know about this incident worried him.

"Before I tell you what happened," said Robert, "I'd like you to try and list all of the Legendary pokemon sightings that have occurred within the past ten-years. Most of them are common knowledge, so it shouldn't be that hard."

Ash took a moment to think as he tried to remember all of the Legendary sightings that he had either heard reported through the news or had been told to him by someone he knew. He hadn't done a ton of research on this topic himself, so for the most part he was going off of occurrences that he had randomly heard about.

"Well, five years ago, there was a supposed sighting of a zapdos in an abandoned power plant north of Lavender Town," said Sabrina. "It had been feeding off of the electricity from some of the machinery that was still functioning. I got a call to go check it out, since I was the closest gym leader that wouldn't be at a disadvantage. By the time I got there, it was gone, but there was a lot of evidence that something exorbitantly powerful had been dwelling within."

She paused as she released a sigh.

"The place was an utter wreck, and all of the plant's electricity had been entirely drained. It was completely barren. There wasn't so much as a fraction of an ampere, and all of the electric pokemon that used to make the abandoned power plant home were gone. Although I didn't see it myself, I have no doubt in my mind that a zapdos dwelled within that building. The aftermath of its presence was way too powerful to be anything but a Legendary."

"Yeah, I remember that," said Bill. "It was a big deal. There hasn't been a wild Legendary sighting in Kanto since then."

"That's true," said Austin. "I was pretty young when it happened, but the only other Legendary sighting I've heard of in Kanto was when a moltres was spotted looking out at Knot Island from the very top of Mt. Ember. All of the pictures came out pretty blurry, so some people think that it's a conspiracy. However, the people on Knot Island that saw it with their own eyes swear it was a legitimate moltres."

"Yup," said Robert, "those are the only two documented sightings in Kanto over the past ten-years. Kind of crazy, wouldn't you say? How they remain hidden is a mystery to me, especially when you factor in some of the foreign ones' mind boggling immensity?"

As Ash soaked in the fact that only two documented Legendary sightings had taken place in Kanto over the past ten years, he remembered something pivotal that had happened to him at the beginning of his journey.

In subsequence to his struggle to outrun the angry flock of spearow that had tried to kill him in between Pallet and Viridian, Ash had seen a miraculous pokemon.

Although he hadn't thought about it for a while, the image would forever remain ingrained in his head. He had seen a gigantic, golden bird with rainbow colored wings soaring above him. Its presence was mesmerizing, and he knew that it couldn't be anything other than a Legendary.

He didn't know its name, but it most certainly wasn't one of the four Legendaries that were said to live in Kanto.

His guess was that it was either foreign or an unknown Legendary. Most likely, it was the former rather than the latter. Ash doubted that something willing to fly in broad daylight, so close to Viridian City, had gone completely incognito throughout history. The world was old, and pokemon along with mankind had occupied it for a long time; surely someone else had seen the golden avian before.

"Ash Ketchum, I believe you have something you would like to share with us," said Sabrina, stealing Ash's attention away from his internal rumination.

Obviously, Sabrina was referring to his memory regarding the majestic bird he had seen at the beginning of his journey.

During the time that Ash had spent training with Sabrina, the psychic virtuoso didn't have any of her powers, so Ash didn't have to worry about the thought that Sabrina was reading his every thought. Now that she had fully-recovered, Ash had yet to get used to the fact that she could be inside of his head at any moment.

More than likely, she had gotten curious as to what Ash was pondering about after noticing his concentrated disposition. Ash also recognized the fact that Sabrina likely already knew about his miraculous experience. She had sifted through his memories when they had first met. There was no doubt that the memory of a Legendary would stick out amongst the rest.

"Did you see it?" queried Ash, already knowing her answer.

"Yes," said Sabrina as she nodded her head with vacant eyes. "I've been aware of this encounter for a while now. The moment we met, this memory shined bright amongst your psyche."

Ash formed a half-hearted smile, "figured as much."

"What are you guys bloody talking about?" questioned Bill with a look of frustration. "I don't like being out of the loop."

"It sounds to me like Ash has something he's been keeping to himself," said Austin as he folded his arms impatiently.

"Ash, my lad, what is it?" asked Robert with a curious expression. "You can tell us anything. You know that, right?"

The ten-year-old boy stood firm, although he had been slightly flustered because of the tirade of questions.

"I'm not hiding anything," said Ash earnestly. "There has been a lot that has happened ever since I met you all of you, so I haven't thought much about what I saw. Not to mention the fact that I'm not exactly sure what it was."

"You've got my attention," said Robert as he centered the entirety of his focus on the dark-haired boy.

"Bloody hell!" blurted Bill with an elated expression on his face, "you've got mine as well!"

"Me too," said Austin as he scratched the back of his head.

"This sounds interesting…" drawled Sebastian as he raised his hand to his chin, "elaborate please."

"Hmm…" drawled Ash as the memory of the golden bird illuminated within his head, "um, well, it happened on my first day as a trainer."

Ash could feel the intense gaze of everyone around him as they listened attentively to what he had to say.

"Growlithe and I were about an hour or two outside of Pallet, on our way to Viridian City, when we decided to stop and train."

He paused.

"We had been working on Ember when he lost control because of fatigue. There was a stray flame that got away from him and landed behind a large slab of rock," Ash gulped as he remembered the sound of the spearow that had been the recipient of the Ember. "All of a sudden, I heard an ear-shattering screech that nearly busted my eardrums. It was awful."

"What was it?" asked Austin in a curious manner.

Ash let out a quick burst of laughter as he thought about how rotten his luck had been at the time. "It was a spearow."

"Bloody hell," scoffed Bill. "That friggin' sucks. Of course, it was a spearow—one of the most aggressive pack-oriented pokemon in all of Kanto. My guess is that its cry wasn't just a reaction to the Ember. It called its pack, didn't it?"

"Yup," retorted Ash as he shook his head on account of his misfortune. "Next thing I knew, Growlithe and I were running for our lives from a flock of pissed off spearow."

"How'd you get away?" asked Robert. "Spearow are relentless little buggers, especially when they're in a pack. There's no way they ever got tired of chasing you. What happened?"

Ash let out a sigh as he remembered what had happened next. "Well, obviously there was a lot of stuff going through my head at the time. I thought about becoming a decoy and letting Growlithe escape, but I came to the conclusion that sacrificing myself wouldn't work. Even though I had only known Growlithe for a couple of hours, he was way too loyal to just let me die."

"Good choice," said Sabrina, matter-of-factly. "You're right. The growlithe line is way too loyal for a plan like that to work. It would have just been suicide for both of you."

"I know," retorted Ash, "that's why we just kept running. Battling wasn't an option because of our severe lack of numbers, and we had been chased way off path, so the chance that someone would come to our rescue was nonexistent."

"And…?" questioned Austin with wide-eyes. It was pretty apparent that he was completely engrossed in the story.

"Just when I was about to give up hope, I smelt fresh water. I owe it to Professor Oak. If it weren't for everything he taught me about the wild, I would be dead."

"Fresh water?" queried Bill. "How did the smell of fresh water save you?"

"I had been running alongside a river," replied Ash, "but I was too exhausted to notice it until I was hit with the smell. Once I tracked down the river with my eyes, I noticed how strong the current was. It was powerful, and a current as strong as this one had to be going somewhere."

"A basin," guessed Bill.

"Exactly," said Ash. "It led to a basin. At the time, I wasn't positive that I would be able to use it to get away. However, as I continued to gain ground, I started to hear the crashing sound of what had to be a waterfall. It was way too loud to be anything else. I could hardly hear myself breathe as I continued to run."

"What happened next?" asked Robert with anticipation brewing in his eyes.

"The waterfall happened," retorted Ash matter-of-factly. "It came up fast. And when it did, we did the only thing that we could."

"Damn!" blustered Austin, "you jumped?!"

Ash simply nodded.

"How did you know you'd make it? There's no way you could have possibly known how far the drop was!" retorted Austin.

"I didn't," answered Ash with a shrug, "I had no other choice, though. At that point in time, we couldn't stop. It was either we jumped, or we were killed by the spearow."

"Good point," said Robert. "Often times, when we're backed up into a corner, we do things that we never thought we could."

"It was definitely one of those situa—" managed Ash before being interrupted by Bill.

"What did you do with Growlithe?" interjected the pokemon researcher. "That much water is bad for a fire-type. In combination with the shock from the fall, it could have killed him."

"That's why I returned him," said Ash with a nonchalant shrug.

"Are you saying you returned him right before you jumped?" questioned Sebastian.

"Nope," answered Ash as he scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "But, now that you mention it that probably would have been a good idea."

Everyone in the room gave him a look of astonishment as they processed what that meant.

"Bloody hell, Ash, you returned him while you were falling?!" asked Bill.

"Yeah," replied Ash. "It took a lot of concentration, but I managed."

"Damn…" drawled Austin. "That's incredible."

"You can say that again," added Robert before whistling signifying that he was impressed.

"I kind of find it hard to believe," said Sebastian with doubt in his voice.

"I can assure you that he is not lying," articulated Sabrina with a slight edginess to her tone. "Ash Ketchum's memories match his story."

In response to Sabrina's words, Sebastian's eyebrows lifted, depicting that he was at least somewhat astonished.

Ash simply ignored Sabrina and Sebastian's comments while preparing to continue his story. This had already gone on for way too long. He just wanted to finish sharing his experience, so that Robert could finish explaining why the creation of the Master Ball was necessary.

"Anyways," said Ash, interrupting the trivial side conversation that was going on around him, "as soon as I returned Growlithe, I hit the water. It was awful. I didn't get a chance to prepare myself for the impact, so it was extremely harsh. The collision with the water almost knocked me out, but I managed to remain conscious enough to realize that I was sinking fast."

He took a breath as he paused.

"The momentum of the fall, in combination with the gravitational pull caused by the waterfall, had caused me to plummet deep within the basin. If I would have lost consciousness when I hit the water, I would have definitely drowned. Fortunately, I didn't. I can still remember the suffocating feeling of running out of air as I desperately tried to swim up to the surface. I've never been so exhausted in my life."

"What happened to Growlithe's pokeball when you hit the water?" asked Bill curiously. "Did you manage to hang onto it?"

"Yes, I did," answered Ash. "There was no way in hell I was going to let go of that pokeball. Who knows where it would have ended up if I let go?"

"Good point," retorted Bill. "However, it's pretty extraordinary that you managed to hang on to it regardless of how determined you were."

The ten-year-old boy was about to reply to Bill's response, but Austin quickly interrupted.

"So, given that you're here with us right now," said the teenager, "it's pretty obvious that you managed to make it to land. What happened after that? Did you lose the spearow?"

Ash placed his hand on Growlithe's pokeball, which was fastened to his trainer belt, as he recounted the rest of the story.

"The second I surfaced, I checked to make sure that the spearow had stopped following me. There was no sign of them. They must have thought I was killed by the impact because they were gone. My plan had worked, and we were finally safe."

Ash mindlessly unclipped Growlithe's pokeball as he shared what had happened next.

"Once I made it to land and took a moment to catch my breath, I released Growlithe. We just laid there for a while, completely barren of energy. We shared a sentimental moment together, gazing up at the clouds as we rested in the fact that we were both still alive."

He looked down at his starter's pokeball as a small smile formed across his face.

"I remember saying something to Growlithe, but I can't remember exactly what it was. What happened next kind of stole the moment."

"What happened?" questioned Robert.

"Yeah, Mr. Ketchum," said Sebastian while raising one of his eyebrows, "what did you see?"

"A bird," answered Ash with a massive grin. "Growlithe and I saw a giant bird."

"A giant bird?" queried Bill, clearly desiring more details. "Are you referring to the King's Nature? Is this where you found Pidgeotto?"

"No," retorted Ash, "I didn't run into Pidgeotto until the Viridian Forest. This was something else. It was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard of before; whatever it was had to be a Legendary."

He focused his eyes solely on Bill as he continued.

"Bill, its presence was even greater than Dragonite's. All it did was soar over me, and I could sense that it was different."

A look of glee formed in his friends' eyes as they thought about what Ash was sharing with them.

"Everything this boy says is true, right, Sabrina?" asked Sebastian as a flurry of emotions could be spotted flickering within his eyes.

"Yes," retorted Sabrina with a small hint of agitation in her voice. "He hasn't so much as exaggerated. How many times do I have to tell you, everything Ash Ketchum has said completely aligns with his memories."

"I'm just making sure," retorted Sebastian. "The claim that Mr. Ketchum is making is monumental. A Legendary hasn't been spotted in Kanto for quite some time. I just wanted to make sure that what he just told us is true before I get too excited."

"I understand," answered Sabrina, reclaiming her typical emotionless disposition, "but there is no more reason to doubt. Unless I say otherwise, Ash Ketchum is being truthful. Quite frankly, you're pissing me off. I shouldn't have to keep reassuring you. Ash Ketchum is a trustworthy trainer, and he has no reason to lie."

Sabrina's words meant a lot to Ash. Over the past couple of weeks, he had gotten the hint that the gym leader had grown rather fond of him. However, her emotionless countenance made her hard to read at times. It made him happy to know that someone like Sabrina had his back, albeit he understood where Sebastian was coming from.

The head of the Capture Device Department had only just met him. And despite the fact that he was in the company of some rather trustworthy people, it made sense that a man as intelligent as Sebastian would be skeptical of a first-year trainer. Ash was only ten after all, and a lot of kids his age told all kinds of fabricated lies in order to get attention.

Simply put, Sebastian's skeptics made sense. Ash wouldn't hold it against him.

In reaction to Sabrina, Sebastian turned his attention towards Ash. "I apologize if I offended you. However, I've heard a lot of outlandish stories over the years, so I tend be a bit of a skeptic. Anyways, since Sabrina has confirmed that you are indeed telling the truth, I have to ask—do you think you saw one of the three elemental legends of Kanto?"

The room became quiet as everybody anticipated Ash's answer.

"No…" retorted Ash as he decisively shook his head, "it wasn't one of the three elemental birds; at least, it didn't look like it. I've seen paintings and sketches of Zapdos, Moltres and Articuno. It didn't look like any of them."

There were multiple looks of confusion as Austin, Bill, Robert and Sebastian listened to Ash. For obvious reasons, Sabrina was the only one to remain calm. Most likely, she already knew the identity of the pokemon Ash had seen. A trainer as knowledgeable as her definitely knew a fair amount of information regarding all kinds of Legendaries.

"Wait," answered Robert, "Ash, if it wasn't one of the three Legendary birds of Kanto, what could it be? The only other Legendary known to be native to Kanto is Mew, and it is said to be a bipedal, feline pokemon."

Ash pivoted his eyes between Robert and Sebastian as he answered. "I believe you guys mentioned something about foreign Legendaries. Maybe it was one of those?"

"Hmm…" drawled Sebastian, "It's definitely possible. There isn't anything that binds a Legendary to their native region. As a matter of fact, many believe that most of the Legendaries originated from the same place before being distributed by the Creator."

"Creator?" questioned Ash, whose question was accompanied by a plethora of interested eyes.

"Eh…" retorted Sebastian, disregarding the topic with an additional wave of his hand, "it's just an old legend. Let's not get off topic."

He paused before engaging Ash with a much more serious disposition.

"Can you describe the avian's features?" asked the scientist. "Did you get a good look at it?"

"I can, and I did," answered Ash quickly and definitively. "I'll never forget what it looked like. It was magnificent."

All of a sudden, Sabrina interjected. "If you need any help, let me know. I can see the memory too after all. I'm sure you'll manage, but I'm here just in case you need my assistance with a description."

"Thanks, Sabrina," said Ash with a smile as a vibrant image of the majestic, golden bird shimmered amidst his thoughts. "I'll be fine, though. I remember pretty clearly what it looked like."

"I knew you'd say that," replied Sabrina, bearing a faint smirk. "I just figured I would extend the offer."

Ash gave Sabrina a friendly nod before turning his attention back over to Austin, Robert, Bill and Sebastian.

"Would you please share now, Mr. Ketchum?" asked Sebastian. "I'm starting to get anxious."

"The old man's got a point, Ash," inserted Bill. "Don't leave us hanging any longer."

Robert and Austin both nodded in agreement as they waited for Ash to speak up.

"Alright, alright, jeez," laughed Ash. "Let's see…

He took a moment to close his eyes while he pictured as clear of an image as he could. He saw gold, red, yellow, green and white—which were all different colored feathers he remembered seeing on the bird.

He remembered the glowing green stripe that wrapped around the avian's neck, the golden yellow beak that pierced the heavens as it soared, and the black rings that encompassed its primordial, red eyes.

Ash recalled the brilliant, yellow crest on top of its head, and he remembered the rainbow colored trail that it left in the sky every time it flapped its prismatic wings…

"…A golden rainbow" murmured Ash as he daydreamed over the beautiful Legendary.

"A golden rainbow?" asked Austin. "I thought we were talking about a Legendary."

"We are talking about a Legendary," answered Ash as he regathered his sense of reality. "When I think of the bird, I picture a golden rainbow. The bases of its wings were red and gold and the tips were green. However, as it flew, it painted a beautiful rainbow in the sky. It was breathtaking."

"…Golden" started Robert with bright eyes.

"…Rainbow" finished Bill as he racked his brain.

"What else!?" questioned Sebastian excitedly. The scientist's eyes shined bright and a massive grin was beginning to form on his face. "What else do you remember!?"

Ash could tell that the scientist had an idea of what it was. He just needed a few more details in order to be sure.

"It had a large, yellow crest on top of its head," said Ash with confidence, "and black rings around its scarlet red eyes. When it flew over me, I couldn't help but feel happy."

As soon as Ash finished his last sentence, Sebastian let out a burst of joyous laughter, acquiring the befuddled attention of everyone in the room.

"Ash Ketchum, no wonder everyone here thinks so highly of you!" exclaimed Sebastian as he jovially patted the ten-year-old boy on the back. "You've been acknowledged by the very essence of divinity! The Legendary you saw will only show itself to the anointed one."

"Huh?" questioned Ash. "What are you talking about?"

"Yeah, Sebastian," interrupted Robert, "what in the bloody hell are you talking about?"

"Oh, come on, Robert," retorted Sebastian. "You've heard the legend of the chosen."

"…Cho—" managed Robert before Bill abruptly interrupted.

"'Until the day that the pure of heart is approved by the Guardian of the Skiesno eyes shall fall upon her rainbow wings. When the tower fades, her presence will follow, waiting for the day the chosen's journey begins' bloody hell," mused Bill with a look of astonishment on his face. "Ash...you saw Ho-Oh."

"You're bloody kidding me!?" exclaimed Robert.

"Ho-Oh?" queried Ash. "What's a Ho-Oh?"

"Now, just for clarification purposes, I'm assuming you guys aren't talking about the little owl creature in Johto, right?" asked Austin in a befuddled manner.

"No, Austin Turner, that is a hoothoot," retorted Sabrina with an amused expression on her face. "Ho-Oh is a legendary fire/flying-type native to Johto—at least according to legend. To my knowledge, no one has seen it since ancient times. The only proof of its existence available to the public is a sacred flame that has burned for centuries in the Dragon's Den in Johto, and a shrine that exists at the top of the Tin Tower in Ekruteak City."

She paused.

"The shrine has a statue of Ho-Oh, which is titled: Guardian of the SkiesGuardian of the Skies is referenced in a multitude of different pieces of ancient literature. However, it's most famous appearance is in the Legend of the Chosen One, which is a legend that supposedly has been passed down to all of the regions since the beginning of time."

"Wow…" drawled Ash, "so, let me get this straight. Does that mean I'm part of a legend?"

"If you saw Ho-Oh, it's possible," interrupted Sebastian. "However, I can't know for sure. I'm not an expert on ancient prophecy, and the Legend of the Chosen One is a lengthy one. Unless one of these guys has a copy of it on them, you're going to have to wait for a definite answer."

He took a breath as he raised his hand to his chin.

"The only parts I know have to do with the 'Guardian of the Skies' and the 'Guardian of the Sea', which are references to Ho-Oh and another Legendary from Johto named Lugia. Ho-Oh's role is to approve and bless the Chosen One at the beginning of his/her journey, and Lugia's role is to help the Chosen One with a great task. The rest I don't know."

"I only know the part about Ho-Oh," said Bill, "I kind of wrote the legend off as a fairy tale and never extensively looked into it."

"Same," added Robert.

"I've never heard of it at all," said Austin with a shrug.

"Other than Ho-Oh and Lugia, I know there are some references of Mew, but I don't know what they are," added Sabrina, "Anytime I've tried to study the legend, I've gotten a strange feeling that told me to stop. I didn't think it was worth the trouble to dig. I figured if destiny wanted me to look into it, I would get a more positive feeling about it."

"That makes sense," retorted Austin as Ash took a moment to process what was going on.

"Does anyone here have a written copy of the prophecy?" asked Ash. "If so, is there any way I can borrow it?"

"I have a partial copy at the gym," said Sabrina, "but if you truly want to pursue the idea that you might be the Chosen One, you should probably get a complete copy."

Bill interrupted, "I'm pretty positive that there is a complete copy in the library at the Montgomery Lighthouse. That place is full of rare and valuable books. I think I remember coming across it pretty recently."

"There is," added Robert as he turned his attention towards Bill. "Your grandfather was rather fond of prophecies and legends. He kept a copy somewhere in the library. I remember listening to him read out of it when I was a kid. Most of it went over my head, but I do remember the part about Ho-Oh rather clearly."

"Gotcha'," answered Ash before looking at the younger of the two Montgomery's. "Bill, do you think that you can track that copy down and send it to me whenever you return to the lighthouse."

"Absolutely, my friend!" exclaimed Bill as he nodded his head. "That shouldn't be a problem."

"Great," said Ash with a straight face as he mused about the prospect of playing an instrumental role in history.

At this moment in time, he didn't quite know how he felt about it. He had a feeling that the role of the Chosen One would lead to a surplus of inconvenient circumstances similar to what he had dealt with on the SS Anne and in SaffronIf that was the case, Ash could see the legend becoming a nuisance. He was just ten after all, and his dream was to become a pokemon master, not a historical icon.

He had no qualms about helping out when necessary, but if necessary turned into all of the time, his outlook might change. He wasn't a superhero or an anime character. He was Ash Ketchum: a ten-year-old boy with a big dream.

Now, maybe it was possible that his dream and destiny's purpose for anointing him as Chosen coincided. However, Ash didn't want to think about that right now. If it was meant to happen, destiny will put it all in place.

Besides, all of this stuff about the Chosen One had yet to be confirmed. It was highly possible that everyone was getting excited for nothing. He hadn't read the legend. As a matter of fact, he'd never even heard about it.

Until Bill sent him that copy sometime in the future, he would choose to keep his mind focused on his journey. That was really all he could do. He would wait until he studied the prophecy himself, surely then he would be able to find out if there was any truth to the claims that his friends were making.

"What's on your mind, Ash?" asked Bill with curious eyes. "You've gotten quiet all of a sudden."

"Um…yeah," drawled Ash, "I was just thinking that I would rather think about this later. Right now, it would be nice if we could finish up this conversation and see the rest of headquarters. There's not much I can do about this prophecy until I read it myself."

"Understandable," retorted Robert as he folded his arms and leaned back against the wall to get comfortable. "Where were we before you told us about Ho-Oh?"

"We were talking about Legendary sightings," articulated Sabrina. "We were discussing how prior to Ash's sighting of Ho-Oh, there had only been two documented Legendary sightings in a Kanto within the past ten-years."

She paused.

"You were supposed to tell us about an incident that had happened recently," said Sabrina monotonously, "something involving a Legendary."

"Ah...yes, the incident," muttered Robert with a frown as he twisted his mustache. "It all started about a year ago. That's when they disappeared…"

"Disappeared?" asked Ash with curious eyes.

"Who?" added Bill.

"The who is unfortunate, although it's not quite as complicated as the what," retorted Sebastian, confusing everyone in the room other than Robert.

"Wait a second," said Bill as he scratched the back of his head, "what the bloody hell does that mean?"

"It means…" said Sebastian, "that approximately one year ago, a group of whose and a group of what's vanished without a trace."

Sebastian's words were immediately answered by a slap in the back of the head by an annoyed Robert.

"Stop being so confusing!" scolded Robert before turning his attention back over to the rest of the group. "In normal human terms, Sebastian is trying to say that a group of people and a group of places are missing."

"Okay…" drawled Bill, "so now I understand what you're talking about—"

"How is that possible?" interrupted Austin. "What exactly do you mean by without a traceLike, the people were kidnapped? The places were destroyed? I don't get it."

"Without a trace means without a trace," retorted Sebastian as he gingerly rubbed the spot on the back of his head where Robert had slapped him. "They seemingly vanished off the face of the earth. We have no idea what happened to them?"

"Hmm…what people and what places have vanished?" asked Bill with a contemplative disposition.

Robert cleared his throat, garnering everybody's attention, before speaking up.

"Before I tell you, I need you to promise that you won't tell anybody about this. This is highly classified information. Lance and the Elite Four went to great lengths to make sure that what I'm about to tell you didn't get out to the public. We don't want to freak out the general populace."

Ash nodded, agreeing to stay quiet. If the Champion had deemed the information too much for the public to handle, he figured that there had a good reason. The League didn't keep secrets for no reason.

There was a purpose for everything they did. At least, that's how Ash had always perceived things. Who knows, maybe he was justifying their decisions because he looked up to the position that they occupied.

Robert continued.

"I'll start by explaining the situation regarding the disappearance of the places, since they were the first to go," said Robert as he fiddled with his tie. "It happened within the span of a week. Eleven large, unpopulated, tropical islands that served as wild pokemon reserves disappeared."

He paused.

"They were isolated and protected by the League. Only a small division of League officials and researchers were aware of their existence and allowed clearance to conduct research on the islands."

Everyone in the room looked at each other in bewilderment while soaking in what Robert had just said.

"Eleven wild pokemon reserves secret to the public and most of the League," said Bill, "Where? Information is one thing, but how do you hide eleven islands? They must be far away."

"Actually, they aren't," retorted Bill, "they're just a few hundred miles north of Kanto and about five hundred miles east of the small Holon region. The eleven islands make up an archipelago that used to belong to the Holon region, albeit it was Lance's idea to quietly purchase it from Holon roughly five years ago."

Robert let out a sigh before continuing.

"Lance originally intended to populate the untamed archipelago and turn it into the site of an unofficial summer gym circuit, resembling the Orange League, but it didn't work out."

"Why not?" questioned Ash with an inquisitive look on his face.

"Yeah, why not?" asked Austin. "It sounds like a pretty good idea to me."

"When I first heard about it, I asked the same thing," said Robert. "However, Lance had a good reason to terminate the project. It was way too dangerous. Those islands were uninhabited by humans for a reason. They're different."

"Different?" questioned Austin. "Why?"

"Without going off on another long tangent, the quick answer is that they're home to a lot of exorbitantly powerful wild pokemon. Due to disgruntled native pokemon, any attempt at establishing a town or a city failed. For whatever reason, the majority of the species are feral and do not take well to human occupancy," explained Robert."

"Weird…" drawled Bill before raising his eyes curiously, "I thought you said that the islands consisted of reserves."

"They do," retorted Sebastian, cutting off Robert. "However, they don't resemble your typical bordered reserves that exist in mainland Kanto. Once Champion Lance deemed them too dangerous to colonize, he decided that they would serve well as self-sufficient wild reserves in and of themselves. Other than a select few pokemon researchers – who work out of structures that more closely resemble fortresses than pokemon labs – and the ACE trainers that guard them, no one dwells within the islands."

"Okay, Robert, Sebastian, I think everyone understands your description of the islands," said Sabrina. "Would you mind elaborating about their disappearance?"

"Oh, of course, the disappearance…" muttered Robert as he scratched the back of his head. "It's pretty self-explanatory, although that doesn't change the fact that it is hard to believe. A year ago, they mysteriously vanished. One second they were there and the next they were gone. No explanation. No logic. Nothing. It's as if they never existed."

Their eyes collectively glanced back and forth as they tried to come up with an answer to the bizarre phenomenon.

"Obscuration? Unstable coordinates? Rapid descent? Surely, there is an answer. Islands just don't vanish, Dad!" blurted Bill.

"Calm down, Bill, don't you think that Kanto's best researchers would have considered all of those solutions. There is no weather phenomenon that has made the island difficult to reach. The coordinates have surely changed, but they were never unstable beforehand, and the archipelago wasn't a drifting island," retorted Robert.

He paused.

"Rapid descent is impossible, nevertheless, we looked into it," continued Robert. "The island didn't sink. Kanto's had submarines dive as deep as five-thousand meters, and they found nothing. We've had high-level wailord dive even deeper—nothing."

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