The mysterious Pokéball
As Ash was preparing his bag, Silver went to find him.
"Getting ready for the Orange Islands?"
"Yeah. I can't wait to be there."
The man nodded.
"We'll fly using Charizard and Odin. There's a blimp between Pallet Town and Valencia Island, but I don't really trust them. They're too fragile and besides, I have a bad experience with them."
"What kind of experience?"
"Well … let's say the last one I took crossed a storm and a lightning bolt fell a little too close. The hydrogen used to keep it afloat lit up like a giant torch. I only escaped using my Ice Wings. Don't want that thing to happen twice."
"Oh. Okay ..."
The boy packed a pair of swim suits. His surrogate father sat on the bed.
"That apart, who will you take with you?"
"I dunno. Professor Oak asked us to go and bring him the Pokéball, but I want to explore the Archipelago before going home. Will it be okay?"
"I don't see any harm in that. Besides, as long as it's with us, I don't see anyone foolish enough to try and steal that little ball."
Ash was thoughtful.
"I'd like to train Haunter, Wigglytuff and Wartortle more, or even Fearow. They are the weakest of the group. But, at the same time, I want to have room for the Pokémon I meet who'd want to go with me."
The man grinned.
"Then take only Pikachu and Axew and use the Transport System later to get those you want. How 'bout it?"
"Sounds good. So, Pikachu and Axew, huh? Okay."
The baby Dragon snuggled against his adoptive father. Ash cuddled him a bit before putting him in a casket he used as a bed. The little creature rolled in it before falling asleep. Ash grinned.
"He's so cute. Just like a baby."
"But he will grow eventually."
"Yeah. You showed me Fraxure and Haxorus. It's hard to believe he'll one day become a monster like these."
"And Haxorus isn't even the most monstrous of the lot. Salamence and Hydreigon are by far the worst of the lot, and let's not get started on the land shark that's called Garshomp."
Ash laughed. Dragon Pokémon weren't the rarest type around, but due to the large number of Legendaries that were part Dragon and the fact the majority of pseudo-legendaries were Dragon or had it as secondary type, raising one such Pokémon always gave a special feel. The boy fell asleep with dreams of Legendary Pokémon flying under the sun, between the azure tides of the sea and the endless sky.
That night, the clatter of tiny claws took Ash off his sleep-induced bliss. The kid knew the walking sound of every Pokémon in this house. This one didn't belong to them. His breathing tense, he faked sleep all the while spreading his Aura over the house. The clatter became close … then something nibbled his hand, which was falling from the bed. The boy froze. Slowly, he turned his head to see the creature that was licking his fingers. His eyes widened. Axew!? The baby dragon was standing against the wooden frame of the bed and toying with his father's fingers, licking and nibbling them. Ash swiftly pulled them off, causing the baby to fall on his paws. It didn't stop him. Clumsily walking on all four, the little creature went to where the hand now was and used his tail as a counterweight to get on his hind legs, giving him the height to reach the five-fingered limb. Ash watched the scene with care. Once his fingers were back in the creature's claws, he started playing with them again. A smile grew on the boy's face. Axew was able to walk! His little baby was growing. Rolling on the side, he took the young Dragon and put him on his stomach. Axew crawled toward his face, earning a twitch from Pikachu, before nuzzling his father's face. Ash scratched the back of his head.
"Well done, Axew. Well done."
Keeping his 'son' in a tight embrace, the boy fell asleep again, taking the nighttime event as a good omen for his journey.
The group gathered next morning for breakfast. Simon and Ritchie would go to Johto while stopping at the younger boy's hometown while Ash, Misty, Brock and Silver would fly to Valencia. Professor Oak confirmed Ash's decision.
"There is a kind of Pokémon League in the Orange Islands, complete with Gym Leaders and a Champion. It would indeed help you sharpen your skills."
Ash grinned. Looking at his baby draconic son, he told them what had happened that night. Misty's eyes were wide.
"Axew has started walking? He grows up fast!"
"Yeah. He is only a few weeks old so I find it a little surprising. Still makes me happy."
As a proof, the Tusk Pokémon valiantly stood up and made a few steps. Simon raised a brow.
"Clumsy, but that's it."
"He is totally cute!" Delia cooed.
It was around 10 AM when the two groups finally left Pallet Town. Simon and Ritchie took the path to Viridian City while Ash and Misty rode Charizard. Silver and Brock were on Odin. They came in sight of the blimp station around 3 PM and decided to head for the Pokémon Center where the orange dragon was returned. Following the seaside path, they finally reached Professor Ivy's lab. The problem was: no one was there and the lights were out. Ash frowned.
"Something isn't right."
He closed his eyes and let his Aura invade the place. A grin crossed his face.
"There are three people in the basement. I think they are young girls. And they're coming."
Indeed, three brown-haired girls with big glasses emerged from the floor.
"Who are you?"
"And what do you want?"
"We've come to see Professor Ivy. Samuel Oak, of Pallet Town, asked us to retrieve an item from her, a Pokéball."
The three girls looked at one another.
"Professor Ivy is not there."
"She's at the beach."
"Working with the Pokémon."
The three jumped from the hole.
"We will guide you!"
The group of four followed the three sisters to the bay, walking on the sandy path that neared the sea. Ash let Axew down, leaving to Pikachu the care of keeping him on his legs. When the little dragon was tired, he climbed on the mouse's back and rested a little before resuming his walk. Silver grinned. Ash was really behaving like a father toward his Pokémon. He wondered how the boy would react toward other baby Pokémon hatched under his care. As they neared the beach, a Gyarados suddenly emerged from the water. Ash instantly summoned an Aura Sphere while snatching Axew to safety against his chest. His eyes met that of the creature … and he mellowed instantly. The Pokémon didn't mean to scare the group. A woman with purple hairs appeared at its side, surrounded with a Cloyster and Poliwhirl.
"You did great. Your strength is growing every day."
The sea serpent meowed like a cat, happy. The three girls looked at the woman.
"Professor Oak's friends have come!"
"They want to talk to you!"
The woman turned to the group.
Stepping on Gyarados, she jumped before the four. Brock looked at her. Tall, purple-haired with curvy shapes and a well-toned skin, she had dark green half-closed eyes and was wearing a dark blue swimsuit under her white lab coat. A smile crossed his face. The woman was pretty …
"Follow me, please. I will show you the Pokéball."
The group returned to the lab and followed the scientist to a corner of the room. Here, on the pod of a transporter, was a golden and silver sphere with two letters on it.
"This is the Pokéball Oak told you about." She activated the transport machine. Nothing happened. "As you can see, we are unable to transfer it, nor are we able to open it."
Misty raised a brow.
"You can't open it? Really?"
"Yes. We tried everything: crowbar, screwdriver, flamethrower, Pokémon attacks, and even dynamite! Nothing worked."
"Why not try to throw it like a regular Pokéball?" Ash asked.
"We did. It was useless."
Brock took the ball and looked at it under all angles.
"How strange. There are G and S engraved on it. And the materials are different from that of regular Pokéballs. Where does it come from?"
"We found it on the beach one day. We called it G.S. Ball because of the letters."
Silver took it.
"G.S. Ball, you say? Can I give it a look?"
Closing his eyes, the man let his Aura surround the sphere, all the while searching his memories.
"I have seen similar balls in the past." He turned to Professor Ivy. "Before settling with Ash's family, I was an adventurer. I saw some of these. They are Ancient creation."
"Yes. The G.S. Balls were made by the Ancients, G and S standing for Godly Seal." His eyes narrowed. "The Godly Seal Balls were made with very special materials designed to seal away a powerful Pokémon such as an evil Legendary or a rampaging Shiny Hydreigon. This one is made with gold and silver, but not any kind of them. The materials have the feel of Ho-Oh and Lugia. In fact ..." The man closed his eyes and opened his senses. A smile crossed his face. "It isn't gold and silver. This Pokéball was crafted using one of Ho-Oh's golden feathers and one of Lugia's silver ones! I have no ideas what Pokémon is inside, but to use such materials to craft a Godly Seal, it must be incredibly powerful!"
Professor Ivy raised a brow.
"So, you're saying that this Pokéball was made by the Ancients as a way to keep a powerful Pokémon under lock and key? Do you know what is the key to it?"
The man shook his head.
"I wasn't the one who made it. Every Godly Seal Ball has a different way of opening. Only those who crafted this sphere have an idea of what it holds and how to unlock it."
Ash looked at his mentor. If even he didn't know more about the golden ball … He took the sphere and placed it in his bag.
"We'll keep it with us during our journey across the Archipelago. Since it comes from there, maybe we'll find our answers during this journey. If we don't, we'll go to Professor Oak."
"And if even he doesn't ..." Silver smiled. "I have a few friends who specialize in Ancient history and culture. They'll find what we want eventually."
The group decided to rest a little before going back on the road. Brock turned to the professor.
"So, I heard each Pokémon Professor has his own field of competence. What is yours?"
"I study the physiological difference between the Pokémon from Kanto and the Orange Islands. As you can see, even though we have the same Pokémon, their aspect slightly differs from that of the mainland."
Indeed, the spots on Paras's mushrooms and Vileplume's petals differed, just as the wing motives of the local Butterfree. Ash looked at her.
"Does that mean you're raising every kind of Pokémon near your lab?"
"Indeed. That is why we need a lot of space. And food."
The three assistants came with a large tray. Instantly, the local fauna went to take its food, the Pokémon helping themselves under the gentle eyes of the group.
"I wonder what kind of Water Pokémon you have around."
"Well, you can go at the bay, if you want. And … what is this little Dragon in your arms? I have never seen one like that before."
"It's an Axew from Unova." Ash smiled. "Lance gave it to me as an egg and he recently started walking. Since he is more of a pet than a real Pokémon, he isn't accounted as a teammate, not as long as he doesn't know an attack."
"Ash is as mercilessly protective over him as I am over that raven head. And it means a lot. When your Gyarados showed up and scared us, he was at this from throwing an Aura Sphere at it. So trying anything foolish against that baby is highly discouraged. It won't end well."
Ivy raised a brow.
"This boy has Aura?"
"Yeah. It goes in the family … and funnily enough, on both sides! But it's more present in his mother's line than his father's."
"Professor! We have a problem with Butterfree!"
The group turned to the trio. Indeed, a young Butterfree was crawling on a branch, totally ignoring the food in the red bowl. Ivy sighed.
"I don't know what's the problem. These aliments should have every nutriments he needs to grow, and yet he obstinately refuses to eat them!"
Brock came to the food and tasted it. His face lighted up.
"I know! Say, can I borrow your tools?"
Using his and the professor's tools, the young man started making a mix that soon smelled deliciously sweet. When the Butterfree felt it, he instantly came and devoured the food in a few minutes. The professor was impressed.
"How did you do it?"
"I learned during my journeys that because a food is good for its health, it doesn't mean a Pokémon will eat it. Every Pokémon has its own tastes and Bug Pokémon are usually fond of sweet food."
"I feel ill at ease being a Pokémon Professor and yet having less experience than you in such a field."
"Brock knows a lot about Pokémon. He wants to become a great Pokémon Breeder later."
The three assistants jumped at him.
"Please, teach us! Teach us how to take better care of the Pokémon!"
The eldest of the three quickly called her sisters back.
"Hey, we haven't decided who would make dinner today!"
The four girls led the group to the living area. The place was a mess. The professor looked down.
"We're always so taken by our work that we never have time to do household. As a result, we call this area the 'little dump'."
"Even Adriel's house isn't that dirty …"
He turned to Brock who seemed to have the same idea as he did. Folding both of their sleeves, the men went and grabbed cleaning tools.
"And here we go ..."
A quarter of an hours later, the place was bright and shining. Half an hour later, dinner for eight was ready and on its way. Ivy looked at both of them.
"Well, I've never seen men being so good at house cleaning."
"I used to do it all the time for my siblings. Cleaning house is an habit to me."
"And I used to help Delia with cleaning too." Silver added. "And even before that, before Selene died and Sowilo and Hinode left home, I used to being charge of keeping my own house clean."
Ash raised a brow.
"Selene, Sowilo and Hinode?"
The man looked down, his eyes suddenly dull with sadness.
"Selene was my wife. I loved her dearly until a man went and killed her. In retaliation, I went after him and killed him to avenge her. Sowilo is the son we had together and Hinode is his adopted elder sister. They are grown adults, now."
Ivy raised a brow.
"But you can't be older than thirty! If your children are adult now, it means you'd have to had them at a very young age! And that's not counting the time you spent with Ash and as an adventurer!"
The man shrugged.
"I'm older than I look, really. In fact, I seem to be thirty but I'm nearing the late fifties."
Misty jumped from her chair.
"You're really that old!?"
Inside his head, the man was grinning.
'No. I am older. In fact, I am an immortal who's over three thousand years old and my children are just as immortal as I am … and still in their twenties. Go know why, when our world merged with this one, a great number of Ancients stopped aging altogether and became immortal. Sowilo and Tany are among them. Oh yes, and Lucy too. She already had a long lifespan thanks to Nathea, but after the Merging, it increased tenfold.'
He still kept these thoughts to himself, not so willing to have people know the truth about him. Who knows what would happen if it did … This evening, the professor and one of her assistants were watching a strange ritual among the Vileplume.
"Look for the angle! Is it right?"
Brock appeared at their side.
"What are you doing?"
"I could ask you the same. Why aren't you asleep?"
"I couldn't. What's happening?"
"The Vileplume are spreading their pollen at the edge of their territory to prevent intruders from coming."
Indeed, the Grass and Poison Pokémon were going all around their territory, pouring pollen on the trees and grass as a dangerously poisonous barrier to protect themselves. Suddenly, the young girl screamed.
"There he comes!"
Oblivious to the threat, a Raticate was rushing straight to the trap … and fell in. The toxic pollen invaded its air ducts making him rattle all the while intoxicating him. Ivy's immediate reaction was to jump after it.
"Call the Center, quickly! We have to-koff! Koff!"
The young girl immediately obeyed. Brock was about to go to the lab when Ash appeared.
"I sensed something was wrong. What's happening?"
"Professor Ivy tried to save a Raticate from Vileplume pollen but was caught by it too!"
"I see. Stay here, I'm dealing with it."
Closing his eyes, the boy generated a small Aura Shield and came to the woman and the Pokémon. As he hoped, the shield protected him from the pollen and allowed him to reach the two. Frowning, he managed to grab the professor and put her to safety before doing the same with the Raticate. Once both were safe, he fell on his knees, exhausted. Brock came to his side.
"It's still as tiring to use?"
"Not really. The hard part was to hold the shield with one hand. It requires a lot of concentration and I don't really have that kind of training. And it also uses more Aura."
An ambulance finally came and took the three. In the end, Ash simply needed to rest while the two victims of the toxic pollen were given antidotes that quickly put them back on their feet.
"Professor Ivy, I thought I had told you against doing such stunts! If that kid didn't take you away, you could have ended worse!"
Ivy looked down.
"I know. What about the Raticate?"
"He's fine too. This boy did a great job but I still wonder why he wasn't affected by the pollen."
"He used an Aura Shield." Brock explained. "Ash is an Aura Guardian as well as a Trainer. He used his shield to protect himself from the pollen, but holding it with one hand isn't something he is used to do, so he needs to recover, now."
He looked at his friend's sleeping form. Axew had crawled in his arms and was resting with him, with Pikachu on his stomach. The next morning, after a good breakfast, the group readied themselves for departure.
"It's time to go." Ash grinned happily. "But where is Brock?"
"Dunno." Misty answered. "I haven't seen him since we finished eating."
A roar echoed from atop the roof. Watched by his Onix and helped by Zubat, the young man was fixing the tiles.
"There. Now this house won't have to fear the rain again."
"Looks like he decided to stay."
"Yeah. I feel like I'll learn a lot more about Pokémon if I stay here alongside the professor. And besides, this house needs someone to take care of it."
"If this is your choice ..."
He went as his brown-skinned friend got down and held his hand.
"I'm glad you found a place where you'll be able to learn how to become a good breeder. It's your dream, after all. And dreams are very important to those who hold them. So … good luck. Think about us from times to times."
"Don't worry. I will. And you, come and see me when you can."
"Of course, I will! You and Misty are my best friends!"
The two smiled and waved at one another as the group left. Still, inside, Ash felt sad. Brock had been a very good and helpful friend, almost like family. And it hurt him to leave him behind. Sensing his sadness, Silver rubbed his back and hummed.
I can't believe this moment's come.
It's so incredible that we're alone!
There's so much to be seen and done,
It's impossible not to be overcome.
Will you forgive me if I feel this way?
Cuz we've just met. Tell me that's okay.
So take this feeling an' make it grow,
Never let, never let it go ...
Don't let go, Bryan Adams