Citrine Isles - Chapter 31 - Diatomic_Rex - Pocket Monsters | Pokemon (2024)

Chapter Text

Pikachu continued to watch his trainer paced back and forth on the same stretch of pavement for what must have been hours.

“Aw, come on!” the riolu muttered under his breath, constantly worried for something that might not even happen. He had finally stripped out of that ridiculous get up that his grandfather put him in.

They sat quietly on a street corner, not too far away from the stadium where Team Rocket had chosen to make their trap. So far, the crowd that had gathered around it had stayed the same size.

Meanwhile, Pikachu sat silently nearby. The electric rodent felt torn about what might or might not happen in the next few hours or so. While he wanted to save Vulpix, he didn’t want her rescue to come at the cost of Ash’s health and wellbeing. Which probably made him something of a hypocrite, since he was more than willing to put himself in danger whenever Ash wanted to do something dangerous.

“You feeling okay, Pikachu?” Staryu’s voice intoned from behind the rodent.

The Electric turned his head, just in time to see the starfish land in front of him. He crossed his arms and let out a sigh. “Sort of. I’m just… I’m worried about Ash getting hurt. If Team Rocket lures their target, that means there’s going to be a real fight. And you know, that means Ash will put himself in it.”

Staryu nodded. “I can’t say I am eager to have Misty fight in a real battle, either. I worry for her safety, yet I know I can’t really stop her. I know I can only be here.”

Pikachu certainly understood that. While technically, he knew he could stop Ash if he managed to beat him down and maybe lock him in a room, the riolu was the sort of person to not let something like injury to keep them in bed when there was something they felt really strongly about. In short, hurting Ash to stop him from getting hurt was counterproductive. “Is it wrong that I wish Team Rocket can’t lure this… ditto or whatever it is?”

“No, I admit that I would want the same thing, but that just puts a delay on the inevitable,” Staryu replied. His gaze turned skyward. “Sooner or later, there will be a confrontation with this cretin. Perhaps such a fight then may not involve our companions, but we know them. They’ll seek him out because he has someone we care about.”

“Right,” Pikachu muttered, looking down at himself. He already knew the lengths would go for his sake. While Vulpix was not close with Ash and Brock’s relationship with the fox was very different from the one Pikachu shared with his trainer, that didn’t mean the boys wouldn’t move heaven and earth if it meant saving her.

“Look on the bright side, Pikachu.” Staryu called out again, drawing the rodent’s attention to himself. He moved one of his limbs over his crystal as if it were his heart. “Our friends won’t be alone, because we’ll be standing by their sides.”

“Yeah… standing…” Pikachu nodded faintly. It was a weird thought but ever since his trainer had become a riolu, the two of them had been on the same footing. Before, the obvious differences in species and height made it possible for the rodent to only come up to his trainer’s knee at most. Now… what did this mean?

The rodent didn’t have much time to think about this, however. Instead, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that Ash stopped moving, his eyes transfixed on the stadium.

Pikachu promptly leapt out of his seat and towards the Fighting-type. “Ash, something wrong?”

“There’s… so much fear and rage,” the pup muttered under his breath, painting towards the stadium. “It’s so much that I could feel it from here.”

Pikachu’s ears fell. He had long since learned that his trainer’s ability to feel things was accurate enough to tell if there was danger or not. Which meant that if there was a very good chance that their target was nearby.

The others walked over, concerned.

“Are you certain?” Brock promptly asked.

“... Maybe?” Ash said, crossing his arms. “I mean, there was plenty of that already ever since we got here, but I think that’s because a lot of people are scared and fearful for their friends and family.” He then shook his head. “But there’s alot more of it than there was like twenty minutes ago.”

Then, suddenly, the stadium’’s top section began to frost over as string shot webs started to cover the top section. Meanwhile, a faint glow seemed to emanate from within the stadium.

“Ew!” Misty made a disgusted face. “Did they really have to do that?”

“Yes,” Brock replied flatly. He then took one step forward and way. “Come on, I think Team Rocket found their target.”

Ash nodded his head and walked behind him. Misty and Staryu followed soon after. Pikachu, not wanting to get left behind, leapt onto all fours and dashed forward. The rodent sincerely hoped that the small army that Ash’s grandfather led would have been enough to stop a single ditto.

A series of loud cracks burst from the stadium. The sounds of fighting and moves used reverberated onto the streets. Many of the Pokémon who had gathered to see what was going on ran for cover once they were aware danger was present. Yet, that only served to invigorate the former humans under Pikachu’s watch.

Ash and Brock redoubled their efforts, running as fast as they could until not a minute later, they were right at the stadium’s gates, with everyone else not far behind after them.

Most of the people who visited had already been off, with only a few who made unintelligible shouts remaining. At the door to the gate, a familiar blaziken stood guard, along with a trio of combusken.

“Halt!” Captain Blaziken barked before abruptly changing his tune. “Tajiri? And company? What are you doing here!?”

“I have to help my grandfather!” Ash shouted at the top of his lungs.

Pikachu walked over and nodded his head. No matter what happened here and now, he was always going to give his best friend whatever support he could.

“This is a restricted area!” the blaziken uttered. “My orders are to keep noncombatants from entering. And I’m sorry to say, but your status aside, you are still a civilian.“

Brock made a low yet threatening growl. It was clear to everyone present that it was a simple order, one where the Blaziken captain and his squad would get out of the way. Captain Blaziken scowled back, unwilling to budge. Pikachu knew that both sides had something they wanted to do.

Yet as the two squared each other up, a series loud crashes and reverberated into the admissions hall. The echoes of distant explosions and discharges of elemental shook rattled everyone in the room. Several of the Pokémon present had decided to take that as their cue to leave, but not Pikachu or his friends.

“That doesn’t sound good,” Pikachu pointed out. If that was what they could hear from their current position. Then who knew what else was inside? “Like, that’s alot of fighting going on.”

Misty spoke. “Look, Sir. I know we’re not part of your group, but I don’t think that sounds like the army soundly defeating a single Pok-Maiju!”

The combusken started to look worried. They turned to their superior for guidance.

Captain Blaziken turned to one of his subordinates and he pointed at them. “Go, check what’s going on!”

The fiery chicken dashed through the doors.

Meanwhile, everyone else that stayed behind looked at each other. “What are you hoping to accomplish?” said the Captain.

“My friends are there,” Ash shouted. His paws were clenched into fists. “I… have to fight for them. I know I’m not a soldier or even a guard like you, but… I still want to fight for them!”

Pikachu placed a paw over his friend’s back, giving Ash his support. Even with his reservations, his fears, the rodent wanted, more than anything else, to be at his side, no matter the road taken. If that meant going to battle, a real battle where injuries were something that took time to heal or worse, then so be it.

The others stood by Ash, making it clear they also shared his goals.

The blaziken looked at them, his eyes unflinching. He let out a sigh. “If you young ones want to be involved, you have to follow orders, my orders, do you understand?”

The combusken all gave their superior a confused look.

“There’s five of them and they’ve gone through three Emera trials already. They have some competence and I don’t think we can hold them all from getting in while assisting our brethern,” the Captain answered. He pointed at the large door behind him, where the battle continued to rage on. “Plus, those sounds there tell me that things are not optimistic.”

Ash made a grimace. “I mean, I… never really… trained to follow orders, I guess?”

“It’s not that hard,” Pikachu reassured him. Though as he said that, he remembered that it took a while for he and Ash to really… be in sync with the other. “It’s just…. You have to trust the guy giving them, right?”

“Right…” the riolu drawled.

“What I am asking for isn’t much. I’m just saying, if things are bad enough that I have to let civilians enter battle, I’d rather you all act with some manner of coordination,” the Blaziken explained. He placed a feathered claw onto his chest. “I swear

Pikachu blinked. Huh, so, basically, Blaziken was going to essentially be the trainer for everyone? Was that what being a Captain was like?

"Sir! It’s chaos out there!” the combusken shouted as he came running into the room. He took a dead stop and nearly collapsed onto his knees. “Everyone is overrun! It’s like a small army has been dropped into our laps!”

Captain Blaziken groaned. “Then, we have to reinforce!” He pointed to one of the other combusken. “Yu, I am dispatching you to call for more reinforcements. This situation must be contained at once!”

The combusken in question dropped both of his wings to his side and bowed his head. He then rushed out of the building.

The blaziken captain turned to Ash. “Well then, Tajiri. This is your moment to shine.”

The riolu nodded his head, an unusual, grim determination about him. “I know.”

Misty squinted his eyes at Ash. Meanwhile, he rubbed her paws against her fins. Brock narrowed his eyes, as if focusing on the danger ahead. Meanwhile, Staryu’s body went rigid as he bulked up and hardened his body.

Pikachu steeled his heart. Though he knew of the danger, he also knew that this was his best shot at keeping his friends safe.

And then the next second they rushed in.

Misty would have preferred to stay with the others, but her conscience wouldn’t let her. Ash and Brock were about to get themselves hurt once again, and she didn’t like the idea of just sitting back and letting others get seriously injured. And besides, a part of her felt a little responsible since she was the one who encouraged Vulpix to talk to Brock about her crush. One thing led to another… and that’s why Vulpix had been separated from the rest of the group and captured.

The buizel dashed forward on all fours in bounding leaps. While she could have easily ran using her legs alone, her current posture felt better to her. Within the stadium, they passed by several food stalls and concession stands that were built into the walls. And that when they went up a ramp and through some stairs.

“All of the other entrances have been blocked off to limit our opponent’s options,” the blaziken answered. He pointed ahead, towards an entry way that shone stars ahead. “We’re going to be going through the stands before we head to the arena. After that, we’ll try to make our way to the ground and assist who we can!”

“Yes, sir!” both of the Fire-types shouted.

“Right,” Misty affirmed. She didn’t really know anything about being a soldier or being under someone else’s authority, but she and her friends were allowed in as long as they heeded the blaziken captain’s orders. She figured it was probably a smart idea to follow the command of a trained professional.

A moment later, they passed the threshold and found themselves in the stands. Most of them froze upon seeing the carnage right before them. Pokémon of all sorts battled one another everywhere in the stadium, each locked in a series of engagements with others, most not even stopping as their opponents showed signs of serious injury. One croagunk fought off an entire flock of birds that tried to jab and nip his limbs, whilst nearby an almost glowing venomoth hunted a squad of ariados. Another fight involved a chansey that spewed poison and fire on everyone that was nearby her. And at the center of it all, Ash’s grandfather fought against… himself?

Misty shivered. What was going on here? Why were there so many Pokémon using moves that were the wrong type? She figured that Ash’s grandfather was fighting a ditto, so that explained the second lucario, but there were so many Pokémon here!

“It’s… a sight,” Staryu muttered. The levitating starfish gently placed himself beside his trainer. “I can’t say I was expecting things to go this badly.”

Misty nodded her head. Her expectations for how tonight would have gone down did not involve so many Pokémon being here at all once.

“... There’s so much pain…” Ash looked sick to his stomach. He touched his arms and his legs, as if to check if they were still there.

Misty frowned, concerned for the riolu. She figured that this was the downside of being such a natural empath; Ash could see something like this and he probably felt whatever else suffered through. “Ash, it’s not your pain.” she said as she grabbed onto him.

“Yeah! We’re here for you!” Pikachu chimed in.

The riolu’s back straightened upon the buizel’s paws touching him. He turned towards Misty, a look of relief on his eyes. He gulped. “Yeah, I know, it’s…. Just so much.” His closed his eyes and then put on a brave face. “We have to put a stop to this and find our friends!”

“Vulpix is there…” Brock altered them, in a low growl.

“Where?” Misty turned to the lycanroc. She hadn’t seen Vulpix, then again, there was just so much to take in all at once.

The canine didn’t have a chance to answer.

Instead, Captain Blaziken stepped forward and took control. “We don’t have too much time to dawdle. We have to move forward as a group and save who we can. Then we have to take down our biggest threat.”

“Yes…” Brock agreed. The lycanroc flexed his body and bared his fangs.

Staryu turned one look at Misty and spun himself until he flew above her.

Captain Blaziken led the charge downwards and towards a group of Pokemon engaged with each other.

A monferno had fallen into the benches and was unable to pick himself up. The monkey clutched at one of his arm, though the ture extent of his injuries couldn’t be determined. His opponent, a kangeskhan, tore away at the benches and cast them aside in an attempt to reach him. Her scales were a deep navy blue with a few patches of the typical brown and beige left over.

“Take her down!” Blaziken barked as he dove right in. He leapt into the air and thrust one of his feet downard as he made a dive.

“Wait! Don’t-” Monferno called out.

And then instead of making contact, Blaziken… fell right through the kangaskhan and made a hard landing into the benches. He made a painful looking crash as he busted through stone walls.

Seeing this, Kangeskhan made a furious roar and pounded her chests. She took up some of the benches and threw them at Misty and her friends.

The buizel sidestepped out of the way with her superior agility.

Misty had no idea what just happened and why Captain Blaziken went through the kangaskhan, but decided it didn’t matter. Kangeskhan was hostile and that more or less determined what they had to do.

Misty leapt into the air and rapidly closed the distance. She landed right in front of Kangeskhan, which promptly angered the reptilian Pokémon.

Kangeskhan thrust one of her fists, projecting some sort of shadowy mass. She threw it at Misty and scored a direct hit.

The buizel rolled to the side stopped herself from being knocked back. She pushed forward and channeled her power into her fins, a trick she had been practicing. Small, controlled jets of water formed at her fits, turning into blades. Whoever named the technique “Liquidate” had an odd sense of humor. She lunged towards the kangaskhan and lashed the edges of her fins against the strange Normal-type’s hide.

Kangeskhan reeled in pain and anguish. She went and made another attack, this time an overhead slam.

Misty barely had time to dodge out of the way. She took a step backward and let it crash in floor right in front of her.

“This feels wrong,” Pikachu muttered. The rodent charged up electricity and discharged it at the kangaskhan.

Then to top it all off, the combusken cornered it on all sides. They blasted her with so much blazing fire that she was engulfed in it.

The Pokémon howled in pain and agony, though it was clear that as much as she wanted to, the damage was too much. She took a step forward and immediately buckled onto her knees. And then fell onto her chest. Kangaskhan still tried to get up, tried to fight, but she wasn’t capable of even moving.

“What was that?” Misty found herself asking.

That is the result of some sort of mad experiment,” said the injured monferno. The monkey pushed himself off the floor and onto one of the surviving seats. He grabbed onto one of his legs, clearly suffering from debilitating pain. “I don’t know what it is, but it gave Kangaskhan the Ghost-type.”

“Like a Mantle?” Captain Blaziken got up, leaning slightly more to one side than before.

“I have no idea! Probably.” Monferno shrugged. He pulled some bandages from a sack by his side and started to wrap his foot in gauze. “Look, I’m no help to you, Sir. I’ll just get out of your way as soon as I can.”

“Do what you need to,” the Captain replied as he turned his back.

Misty’s eyes detected motion coming right at her. She turned her head abruptly, just in time to see a fiery streak blaze right in front of her. The rocket punched through the tangled mess of webs that formed an impromptu roof, setting it on fire. Then a half second later, it detonated into air, showering the whole building in a sea of sparks. She did not have time to think about it.

“We have to keep moving!” the Captain barked. Though he was injured, he hobbled forward as fast as he could, going down some stairs and towards the very edge of the arena. A rhyhorn came right at him, its body glistening with golden scales. With a precise motion, the blaziken thrust a fist right at the rampaging Pokémon’s knee. It knocked the creature off course and into a wall.

“That’s not going to work for long! Jump!” the Captain barked.

Without any further words, Misty leapt off the stands, towards the arena floor. It might have been a good story or two down, but the buizel wasn’t afraid of such risks, not any more. She conjured water into her arms and glided down on fake wings.

The rest of the group didn’t bother with anything so fancy. They just took a leap and landed on their feet, with Staryu gently hovering himself downwards with his natural levitation.

“Wait, where are the others?” Pikachu asked, as he noticed that only he and his friends were present.

Misty looked upwards. Rhyhorn blasted a cone of purple dragon fire at Blaziken and his soldiers. The three warrior Pokémon took cover against the attack, bracing themselves and a wall. As soon as Rhyhorn let up, the combusken leapt out to flank the rhinoceros. Meanwhile, Captain Blaziken turned to face his volunteers. “What are you waiting for? Save General Tajiri!” he shouted.

“But….” Ash looked like he wanted to jump in to assist the three Fire-types.

“Ash! Do what he says!” Misty grabbed onto the riolu’s hand and pulled him back to reality. She turned her attention to the battle happening at the center of the arena, where Mister Tajiri took a beating at hands of someone who looked just like him. “Your grandfather isn’t in good shape either!”

The Fighting-type grunted, accepting the situation. “Right!” he barked.

The five of them raced forward, their attention focused at the center. Mister Tajiri had found himself knocked down and was practically on his knees. The other lucario conjured a blazing sphere with a clear intent to use it.

Misty chose to make the first attack. She opened her mouth and spat out a sustained Water Gun. The attack in itself didn’t cause too much harm, but it definitely caused the enemy lucario flinch, to hold his sphere away from the oncoming water.

That was when Pikachu made his move. His cheeks sparked brightly, as he gathered in energy for an attack.

Seeing this, Misty cut off her Water Gun.

“Thunder Bolt!” Pikachu shouted as he let loose. The electrical strike raced towards the water and hit home, electrocuting the much younger lucario and blasting him backwards several steps.

Ash dashed forward, shouting ”Gramps, are you okay?"

"You shouldn't be here!" Mister Tajiri shouted, his voice quaking with both anger and relief. "You should be at home, defending it!"

"Mister Tajiri, I hate to tell you this, but your grandson doesn't really listen to authority all that well," Misty groaned. Ash had routinely gotten into trouble because he was willing to disregard what matters if he felt strongly enough about it. "Besides, you didn't exactly ensure he'd stay at your house!"

The old jackal grunted, though a slight laugh emanated in his throat. It was hard to tell, because he had a hard time breathing.

"Can you stand?" Brock asked as he approached.

The old lucario tried to rise, but he only got himself an inch off the ground before he fell back down. He shook his head.

"Then this makes everything more complicated." Staryu said as he hovered nearby.

"We've got incoming!" Pikachu snapped, calling for everyone’s attention. He launched bolts of lightning into the air, as a fiery lucario flew right at him.

Ash leapt forward and pushed the rodent away, just as the enemy lucario crushed the ground where they stood with a clenched fist. It was only by the narrowest of margins that neither of them were hit.

“More… interlopers…” the younger lucario growled at them.

Brock leapt from behind the lucario, his jaws extended. Yet before he could grab on, the Fighting-type thrust an elbow backwards, knocking the wind out of the lycanroc without even turning his head. Brock’s bite missed. And then to follow it all off, the lucario kicked Brock to the ground.

“Get him!” Misty lunged forward, conjuring blades of water at her fin tips. She swiped them in the lucario’s direction.

In response, he elbowed Misty and sent her a step back. Pikachu blasted him with electricity. Meanwhile, Ash retaliated by closing for another punch.

The lucario went to backhand Ash, but the riolu ducked underneath. He pressed on and slammed a fist right at his leg.

This caused the much taller Fighting-type to reel backwards. He threw a kick at Ash, who raised his hands in a block.

Staryu flew several feet above everyone. “Wonderous Whirlpool!” he shouted, just as he let down an entire column of water right where the lucario stood.

Seeing her opening, Misty took a running start and forced the water in her body out in the form of an Aqua Jet. She rocketed forward with intense speed and gave the lucario a watery high speed tackle fast enough that it knocked the lucario out of the whirlpool and onto the ground.

Brock leapt on top of the other Pokémon and bit at his arms.

Pinned, the lucario threw a punch as Brock to dislodge him, but Misty closed the distance and conjured the blades of her Liquidate yet again. She slashed the jackal’s arms.

The lucario howled in pain.

Ash went to close in for the kill. He leapt forward, his palms extended.

The lucario saw this and then he changed. The agile and dexterous form he had rapidly grew in size, stature, and strength. Poliwrath simply lifted the arm Brock grabbed onto and housed the wolf into the air. With one flick of his wrists, he threw the wolf onto Ash, sending them both crashing onto the ground.

Seeing this, Misty took a step back, but she was too slow.

Poliwrath swung a big, meaty fist right into her belly. The buizel was knocked into the air.

Misty might have gotten thrown into the stands if it were not for Staryu catching her and breaking her… rise?

“Are you alright, Misty?” the starfish asked.

“I'm fine… thanks,” Misty answered. Ouch, her ribs shook. She probably broke something. Trying her best to put on a brave face, she turned to the new poliwrath. “So, you’re the ditto that’s been causing everyone problems?”

The amphibian didn’t answer for what felt like a good minute. Instead of answering the question. “You may call me ‘Verge’, and I will not stop until I am perfect. Cease this meddling.” Strangely, the poliwrath’s body was unmarred by injury, as if the beat down that Misty and her friends pulled off hadn’t been translated to the new body. On the other hand, the new creature was missing an eye, which was odd.

Misty stared back, her guard up. Pikachu walked to her side, charging up an attack. Meanwhile, Brock and Ash recovered and went to surround the poliwrath. Staryu flew overhead.

Then Poliwrath made his move. He unleashed a massive torrent of water right from his mouth and launched it all over.

“Hydro Pump!” Ash shouted.

Every scattered in an attempt to avoid getting hit.

Misty rocketed underneath the poliwrath’s cone of fire, but by then she was too late. Verge then… became a buizel.

Misty was stunned, startled by how lifelike and perfect seeming her duplicate was. She tried to ignore it, tackling her clone into the ground. But Verge had other plans. The imitation buizel conjured a jet of water and flew off into one of the other battles going off in the arena. Misty gave chase, but a stray discharge of electricity forced her away.

By the time the attack had passed, she couldn’t find her double. It was like she vanished in a cloud of upturned dust. “Where did she go?” she demanded.

“I don’t know, but we have to find him before he escapes, or else all of this would have been for nothing!” Staryu called out. “Your copy might have even changed to be someone else entirely by now.”

Brock, Ash, and Pikachu followed behind her. “Then what do we do?” Ash asked. “How do we stop him?”

“Finding him,” Brock answered, seriously. “We have to split up and see if we can bag him. And if not, help who we can.”

Misty nodded. She didn’t like the idea of splitting up, but they had to find Verge and take him down before he escaped. On the other paw, while they were able to beat down the much stronger ditto by taking advantage of their numbers, if they split up, they would not have that advantage.

“Alright!” Ash called out and pointed in one direction. “I… think I saw him go this way!” And then he ran off before waiting for acknowledgement.

“Hey, wait!” Pikachu shouted as he followed.

Misty turned to go talk to Brock, only to see that the lycanroc had already selected where he wanted to go.

Staryu was the only one who remained behind. “We should probably check with Mister Tajiri, too” he suggested. “Perhaps get some medical supplies.”

Misty nodded her head… and felt a wave of dizziness come over her. Ouch, that punch to her midsection hurt. “That’s probably a good idea.”

Brock knew he had to find that ditto before he escaped, yet his heart also wanted him to go elsewhere.

While the entire stadium was full of Pokémon battling it out, the lycanroc’s keen eyes were able to pick out the fight that mattered most to him.

With his powerful legs, the lycanroc rushed as fast as he could. He found himself at what appeared to be a small dug out in the arena, where under normal circ*mstances competitors would have rested when they weren’t needed for sporting events.

Now, it was manned by several Pokémon, all desperately trying to push back a small horde of Pokémon that had surrounded them. Meowth held up some sort of improvised rocket launcher made from a bunch of fireworks; he fumbled at the controls as a raichu blasted a bolt of fire in his direction. He ducked behind a trench and narrowly avoided a burn.

Victreebel and Weezing threw bombs made of caustic sludge at her. Both failed to land a hit In response, Raichu howled something. Both Poison-types were picked up off their feet and were telekinetically thrown back.

James went to intervene. The pikachu charged and tackled the more evolved rodent.

In return, a jigglypuff with a streak of hot pink in her hair charged at him with manic fury. “Stay away!” She screamed as she proceeded to tackle James to the ground and beat him senseless.

However, the last fight present had Brock’s near complete attention. Cinder and Vulpix were locked in a struggle against each other, both foxes slinging moves at each other at a distance. Vulpix, her body warped with patches of irregular white fur, charged at the zorua, throwing out waves of fire and ice in equal measure. Cinder narrowly avoided what she could, slipping away into corners and trenches.

Yet, for all of her abilities, the zorua found herself blasted out of the open. Fire scorched her body and wore away at her ability to fight. Cinder fell where she stood, her body covered in burns.

Vulpix stepped closer and began to draw in breath. She unleashed a cone of fire in Cinder’s direction.

Brock took action. He leapt right in between them, letting the fire sear his hardened pelt. Though the heat warmed his body, it failed to penetrate deep enough to cause significant damage. More importantly, Cinder was unharmed, the flames unable to reach her.

“Brock!” Cinder groaned, her voice weakened. “What are you doing here?”

The lycanroc turned his gaze. “Helping,” he said before returning to Vulpix.

Vukpix’s Flamethrower winded down a few seconds later, short of breath to maintain the attack. The fox looked at Brock with weary eyes that seemed to bounce around, waiting for something.

“Vulpix?” Brock asked, trying to understand what was going on. He didn’t understand where all of these Pokémon came from, nor did he know why they were attacking. The fact that Vulpix was relentlessly pursuing Cinder indicated something was very, very wrong.

Vulpix didn’t reply. Instead, she jerked her body back in immediate surprise and threw frozen stalactites at him.

The lycanroc quickly gathered his will and conjured stones. He threw them at the ice spikes and shattered them into pieces. “Vulpix, what’s going on?” he shouted. He wanted to understand, he wanted to know. Since when was Vulpix able to conjure Ice?

But Vulpix didn’t answer him. She continued to throw more and more ice spikes in Brock’s direction, as if her life depended on it.

Brock countered again, sending more Rock Throws to interrupt the attack. The first few, he was able to incept, but past that, the frozen Ice Shards penetrated and cut at his sides. The lycanroc staggered backwards, his injuries starting to mount. While the Rock-type hurt that badly yet, if he did nothing, he’d ultimately fail to achieve anything. He had to make a move.

So, Brock leapt forward. He gathered energy into body and sent himself forward like a blazing silver comet.

Vulpix retaliated preemptively. She sent forth a cone of frozen wind in the lycanroc’s direction.

Brock attempted to evade, to avoid incoming Icy Wind. He leapt to the side, maintaining his current approach.

Yet, Vulpix’s aim rang true; she caught Brock in her attack.

The lycanroc rapidly slowed and ice and frost gathered at his joints. He pressed on, pushing himself even as the frigid winds threatened to cover him in a block of ice. Each step felt more difficult than the last, each heart beat more turbulent than before.

Yet he was closing in. Vulpix was within arm’s reach. He just had to reach her!

That was when Jigglypuff tackled the lycanroc and sent him to the ground.

The lycanroc twisted his body and spun in a roll in a desperate attempt to shake her off. Jigglypuff continued to wail on the Rock-type, tearing at his neck with energized fangs. He managed to break her off his neck but the oddly ferocious jigglypuff continued to bite at his wrists.

With one more heavy, he kicked off his attacker and sent her several feet away. Brock quickly rose, but Jigglypuff swung in for another attack.

A rocket then abruptly detonated right in front of jigglypuff’s face. The pink puffball fell onto her rear in a sudden daze, injured but alive.

“You okay, Mutt?” Meowth called out as he tossed aside the now expended rocket tube.

“Took you long enough.” Brock nodded his head and went to catch his breath.

There was a lul in the fighting, with Vulpix, Jigglypuff, and Raichu all forced back and wounded. They were battered and exhausted, having fought before Brock had even showed up.

Team Rocket was also in pretty horrible shape too. James was nursing some sort of head wound, whilst Victreebel had several leaves darkened to burning. Weezing was completely deflated and unconscious. Meowth was the only one relatively uninjured, but he didn’t have any more rockets to launch.

“What’s going on?” Brock demanded. “What’s happened with Vulpix? Why are we fighting?”

Cinder stumbled beside Meowth before collapsing. “Vulpix and the others… I think they’re afflicted with some sort of extreme rage.”

Brock felt his stomach sink. There were so many Pokémon here; all of them were victims subject to experiments? Was that why they all had unusual powers for their species? “We… we have to help them!” he urged.

“Yeah, about that.” James stumbled, clutching his belly. “They don’t exactly want help.”

And then as if to answer back, Raichu launched a searing bolt of psychic force at the pikachu.

James managed to deflect the attack, forcing it to rebound using his electricity to steer it away.

Brock didn’t like the idea hurting the innocent, especially not someone who he cared about. But if there was any other way he could have helped them, he could not see it.

The lycanroc drew upon the power inside himself, conjuring several large stones by his side. He cast them forward with a thought, striking Raichu on her belly.

The rodent didn’t even bother evading. Raichu reeled back from the impact, but the large Electric-type continued to march forward. She quickly charged up and let loose several bolts of electricity in a frenzy.

Brock leapt out of the way.

Victreebel threw out several leaves from his body, cutting Raichu’s outer layer.

Vulpix charged forward, her body covered in frost. She let loose a powerful gust of frigid wind at the giant pitcher plant.

James shouted as he leapt in the way, ice coating legs. Despite that, he charged up his cheeks and let loose a retaliatory bolts of lightning.

Jigglypuff howled, bouncing forward with her fluttering steps. She dove right at Team Rocket, but gave Brock some payback.

The lycanroc threw himself at the pink puffball, allowing the creature to bite at his front legs. Jigglypuff took several vicious bites, drawing small pin pricks of blood with surprisingly sharp teeth.

Brock felt a strong temptation to bite back, to tear in response, but his more rational side knew that he had a better idea.

Vulpix launched a searing Flamethrower at James and his Victreebel. Brock leapt in front of them once again, but this time he raised his paws and let jigglypuff take the brunt of the blaze.

Jigglypuff screamed. She attempted to leap out of the blaze, but Brock bit onto the puffball’s body and forced her to stay within the literal line of fire until Vulpix stopped.

Brock and dropped Jigglypuff to the ground. She weakly laid there, injured and barely conscious.

The lycanroc looked at his work with some satisfaction, his heart beating with enthusiasm. He had defeated his foe, subdued them, even kept them alive.

Raichu took one look at the lycanroc’s work and cast a wave of psychic force in Brock’s direction.

The Rock-type suddenly felt himself picked up off of his feet and slammed into the wall right in front of him.

Raichu focused on his will yet again and then projected psychic attack.

Brock leapt out of the way, just in time to see the ground where he stood crushed under telekinetic force. He ran to the side and conjured several stones. He threw them at Raichu.

This time, the rodent intercepted the rocks and split them apart with her psychic powers. Then, as a follow up, she discharged bolts of electricity at Brock.

The lycanroc took several hits, unable to evade all of those strikes. One of his leg muscles momentarily locked up as the electrical force burned his body.

He crashed to the ground.

Raichu continued to throw lightning in his direction.

Brock, seeing as he didn’t have much time, his power over the earth to create a small trench for himself, one that took him half a foot below the ground. The lightning struck the earth, failing to hit him entirely and absorbed into the ground.

He flexed his locked up leg, letting the feeling return to the limb. Yet even with most of his functions restored, he couldn’t leave; Raichu continued to hammer electricity in his direction and Vulpix looked about ready to unleash yet another breath attack.

Brock knew that his only way out was to go further down, to strike below… or so he thought.

James rocketed forward. On an actual rocket, no less.

Raichu telekinetically grabbed onto the rocket and sent it veering off course. James, like a maniac, leapt off of the rocket and tackled Raichu to the ground. The rocket he had been riding on flew upwards and exploded into a shower of sparks.

“That was for my friends!” James headbutted the raichu.

The female rodent reeled back and threw herself at James.

Meanwhile, Vulpix saw that James was nearby and through a stream of frost in his direction.

Brock jumped out of his small trench and leapt into the fray. The Rock-type slammed his body into Raichu and bit at her exposed flanks. Raichu struggled, trying to get free. She bathed her body in electricity and allowed the current to flow into Brock.

The lycanroc let go, thrown back. He pushed forward to intercept, only for Vulpix to cast shards of ice in his direction. He narrowly avoided the strike and in the process knocked Raichu to the ground.

James tackled Vulpix to the ground and shocked her. Vulpix struggled, recklessly throwing fire and ice in a desperate attempt to gain leverage.

“This is going nowhere,” Brock breathed. Vulpix and Raichu were still standing, willing to fight despite their own injuries. Maybe, whatever it was that they were on dulled their ability to feel pain. While the lycanroc and pikachu were able to keep fighting for now, it was clear with how many resources they expended they weren’t going to prove victorious if something didn’t change.

And so, as James continued to struggle against Vulpix, Brock reached into himself, into the wellspring power that was at his heart.

He had very little practice using his powers beyond the very basics, to use his own Essence in a way that was more than just simply hitting his opponents faster and harder than before. That had to change.

The lycanroc dredged up what he could, to draw on strength that he had only just come to understand. He had heard of a technique, one that many Rock-types used to hold and immobilize their opponents.

He had never tried it before, in fact, had never even had his own Pokémon use the technique either. Yet, Brock was desperate, he was willing to learn on the fly.

The wolf conjured stones around his body once again, but this time, he arrayed them close to each other, enough that they were touching.

Raichu tackled James and flung the pikachu off Vulpix.

Brock saw his opening move. He stepped forward and pushed his new move forward like a tidal wave. Rock Tomb swept at Raichu and pinned her against the ground. She struggled weakly, though she could barely move.

The lycanroc imagined himself holding onto the rodent, preventing her from escaping.

Raichu attempted to zap her prison, but couldn’t blast it with electricity alone. James lunged at her and butted his head against hers; she fell unconscious before she could break free.

Brock let go of his Rock Tomb, allowing the stones he conjured to remain behind.

Vulpix saw this and shot lances of ice at Brock.

Brock conjured his Rock Tomb once again, forming it as a shield against the attack. The icy spikes shattered against the stony walls. Despite that, Vulpix continued to lob blast after blast against the rock hard barrier.

The lycanroc sent his Rock Tomb forward and threw it at vulpix

The fox struggled with all of her might, throwing attacks in every direction in a panic. She shot out at anything she could her neck towards.

Brock drew closer to the frightened fox even as she continued to fight back. “Vulpix!” he pleaded, desperately holding onto his technique to prevent the fox from escaping.

The fox turned her head abruptly, trying to line up another attack.

Brock cautiously stepped forward and adjusted the grip of his Rock Tomb, restricting her movements even more. “Vulpix, stop. You’re not in any danger.”

Yet Vulpix didn’t act like she heard him. She continued to struggle as if for dear life. She even tried to bite at her own wrists in a desperate attempt to get free.

“Maybe I should knock her out?” James rasped as he stumbled over.

The lycanroc shot the pikachu a look, which sent the rodent scurrying to the nearest hole.

“Right, uh… Carry on!” James rubbed the back of his head.

The Rock-type went within arms reach of his charge. Vulpix continued to resist, though she had greatly exhausted herself in her struggle. “Vulpix, it’s me, Brock.”

The fox looked at him, as though he was a complete stranger. She stared intently, watching for danger.”

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Brock said, though he had a good feeling that Vulpix wasn’t in the right mental state to understand him. It didn’t matter, not when there were ways to communicate that didn’t need words.

“I’m your friend,” he said softly. “I’ll help you, okay?”

Vulpix stared, though her struggles diminished. Maybe it was the fatigue setting in, maybe it was because she was lowering her guard.

Brock continued to work. “I’m going to let you go, okay, Vulpix? Just, don’t run away. I’ll help you,” he stressed.

Vulpix stared, not answering. She was waiting in anticipation.

Brock saw that this was his one chance to earn her trust in her current state. Otherwise, they’d have to go back to fighting. He let go of his hold of Rock Tomb, allowing the stone’s he contoured to loosen their grip and fall to the side.

Vulpix stared, bewildered. She looked like she was about to bolt, though was kept from leaving as if by an invisible force.

“See, I’m your friend,” he pleaded.

The fox looked up at him, her eyes tired. “You have… pretty eyes,” she rasped. And then she fell, exhausted.

All things considered, Brock felt that was a victory. The lycanroc gently licked his companion’s face. There was little he could do now, especially since he felt like he was about to fall over at any minute himself.

Cinder ran by, handing out bandages and salves from her pack to anyone who needed them. She then dashed over to Vulpix and went to treat her.

Brock leaned up against a wall, too tired to think much of anything else. At the very least, he could make out that most everyone immediately present was alive and in need of an extended recovery, but that was to be expected, honestly.

Yet, one thing came to mind, a simple question that came from James’s mouth. “Hey, why does your Rock Tomb look like a hand?”

Brock blinked for a second, confused as to what was being asked of him. He looked down at the two Rock Tombs he had confused and noticed an oddity about them. Normally, when a Pokémon used Rock Tomb, they just created and telekinetically created boulders to hem in and restrict an opponent’s movement. Yet, for some reason, Brock’s personal rendition of the move created two stony hands that grabbed on and held whoever was trapped inside.

… That wasn’t normal.

Ash ran as fast as he could, his eyes scanning for any sign of Verge at the edge of the stadium. The riolu leaned on his innate senses, feeling through the suffocating pain and suffering that flooded the area to find any trace of the ditto who caused all of this. Right now, he wanted more than anything to put a stop of this.

The stadium’s fighting had begun to wind down, with many Pokémon injured and unconscious. The soldiers had managed to rally, coordinating their efforts together where their opponents simply relied on brute force and endurance. Some of the soldiers even began to tend to the wounded, even though there was still plenty of fighting to be had.

Ash wished he could have helped the injured, but the ditto was still loose. He had to be found first, or else… he could have easily done something like this again.

“Ash,” Pikachu called out, grabbing onto his partner’s shoulders for emphasis. Ash looked his best friend in the eye, wondering what it was. “You found something, Pikachu?”

Pikachu pointed down at the wall, more specifically, at a large crack in the wall that was just large enough to crawl through. “Someone made this.”

Ash neared the wall and found a horrid stench wafting out. “It smells like… sewer.” he stuck out his tongue. And then he corrected himself. “It probably leads to the sewers.”

“And that’s probably the point,” Pikachu answered. He shook his head. “Verge liked to hide out using the sewers, he’s probably made this tunnel to run away.”

“I thought the sewers were supposed to be closed off.” Ash grimaced. Then again, this opening probably required digging through all of the rubble and debris to get through a stable section of the sewers… and from there, one simply needed to go home free. “Are we sure he’s gone through here?”

“No and even if we did go through, there’s probably many different routes he could have taken.” Pikachu answered. “But, if he did go through here…”

“We have to stop him,” Ash completed. He grimaced. He didn’t like the idea of having to go into a sewer, but he liked the idea of a dangerous criminal roaming free even less. He considered his options and decided that before he made a choice, he had to determine if there was someone down there at all. He reached out with senses and… felt something, someone down there. He couldn’t tell how many there were or what they felt like, but he could sense there was a presence to consider. “I think someone’s down there.”

“Then we know what we have to do.” Pikachu nodded his head. He then leapt down the hole first.

Ash followed suit, jumping in feet first. He stuck the landing and found himself in a dark tunnel, one ruined by a cave-in on one side. Immediately, he covered his nose, finding the stench unbearable. His eyes adjusted to his surroundings, allowing him to make out vague shapes in the dark. Nearby, he could see a familiar shape shifting nearby.

“Pikachu?” Ash called out.

Pikachu responded by lighting up his cheeks, illuminating the area around him in a soft yellow light. “I’m here, was just wondering if lightning up was safe.” he called. He turned his back and turned to look around. “What’s all of this?”

Dust and rocky debris covered the floor, whilst nearby were the remnants of what looked like iron cages strewn about. Pots with what appeared to be old grandfather clocks were situated near the pile of broken cages.

“I don’t know, but it looks like alot of stuff,” Ash commented. Really, one had to wonder how one Pokémon could move so much. Maybe, by teleporting? Levitation? It probably didn’t matter. He reached out with his senses, trying to pick out the lifesigns he felt earlier. Sure enough, it was deeper into the cave. “I sense someone down this way!”

Pikachu nodded. He rushed ahead, his light illuminating the path forward.

Ash trailed him, his eyes glancing for any sign of who they were looking for.

As they neared a split in the tunnels, Pikachu turned backwards to ask Ash for directions.

Ash contorted his face in a frown, sensing something wasn’t right. While he could feel there was someone in the immediate left, he also sensed that there was … something else nearby? He couldn’t tell, nor make note of where exactly “it” was.

“This way!” Ash said, pointing towards the source he could more easily discern.

Pikachu nodded and hopped in that direction, his light illuminating the path. He dashed over several yards in the blink of an eye, fast enough that Ash had to call the rodent back.

“You’re too far!” Ash called out.

Pikachu turned to his friend, confused. He did a quick scan of the area. “I don’t see anything nearby.”

“That’s because whoever we’re looking for… is very good at hiding,” the riolu answered. The area immediately around him was barren, save for a bunch of debris scattered on the floor. Yet to his senses, there were signs of life, the largest of which hid between a false wall.

Ash drew power into his paws and tore a thin section of wall like it was made of paper; or more specifically, it was paper.

An eevee shrieked in panic and surprise. “GAH! You won’t get me you….” she blinked. “Twerp!?”

“Jessie?” Pikachu gasped. “What are you doing here?”

“I… uh.” she shook her head. She leapt out. “None of your business!”

“Some business! Who are you even marketing to?” Ash scoffed. He felt like he could make an argument that this was his business, but he was more upset that he came all this way over Jessie.

“Hey, uh, is the fighting over?” Arbok slithered out from the same fake wall Jessie hid behind.

“Mostly,” Pikachu answered. He gestured and pointed towards the exit. “Come on, let’s get out of here before-”

Suddenly, a wave of rancid water rushed at all four of them, knocking them to the ground. The light in the tunnel immediately dimmed as Pikachu no longer tried to maintain his light.

Ash rolled onto his chest and pushed himself up off the ground. His eyes turned towards the source and found his enemy, just like his enemy found them.

“THERE. YOU. ARE!” a muk crawled out, his body glistening in a multicolored pattern, atypical of Kantonian muk.

“Get away you… freak!” Jessie coughed, desperately rising to her feet.

The muk extended a gooey arm and threw it right at Jessie.

Ash leapt in and shattered the arm with a well placed fist, showing himself in slime. “Ew!” he looked down at himself in disgust. Well, it has been a while since he took a bath.

Muk reformed his splattered arm, but as he did so, he gathered sludge into his other hand.

Pikachu came in, his cheeks sparking. “Thunder Bolt!” he cried out and shot a lance of brilliant electricity into the muk’s body.

Only it wasn’t a muk anymore. Instead, a sandslash came rushing out at Pikachu. The Ground-type rushed forward as a spiky ball.

Pikachu side stepped, managing to avoid the oncoming attack.

Ash, too, leapt out of the way, but he immediately learned this was a bad idea when he heard Jessie shriek.

“GET OFF ME!” the eevee cried, her body caught in the sandslash’s razorsharp claws.

“No. I will not waste this opportunity! I will be perfect!” the sandslash cried out.

Arbok came rushing in, his fangs extended and dripping toxious poison. He lunged in and bit the sandslash… only to recoil as the sandslash suddenly turned blue. The snake winced in pain. “Ow!”

There was no doubt in Ash’s mind now. This was Verge, once again. Which meant that as they attacked, he was going to change his forms into a Pokémon that benefited him. “Pikachu,” he called for his partner. There was barely any light available, but this would have to do.

Pikachu turned to face his partner.

“Tag team? Strike him at the same time!”

The rodent smirked, he flexed his tail. “Yeah, way ahead of you.”

Ash leapt forward, his palms extended with blue fire. He rushed the sandslash and threw a Force Palm in his direction.

As expected, the sandslash’s body became incorpoeral, becoming that of a dark scaled marowak. The Force Palm went through him, the force of the attack going into the walls.

That was Pikachu came from the other side, his tail flashing with silvery metallic light. He swung down at the marowak’s body, cutting at his arms and legs. Jessie fell to the ground, released from her grip.

Ash then took his chances and leapt at Verge, his jaws extended. He sunk his teeth into the marowak’s flesh and drew blood.

Verge retaliated and smashed Ash’s skull with his boney club. The riolu found himself knocked into the walls, cracking the stones in the process. Ash tried to stand, but his chest felt numb, afflicted with some sort of deathly cold. He pressed a paw into his chest and tried to mend the injury as best as he could.

The marowak attempted to swat Pikachu away with his fiery bone. Pikachu parried the blow with his tail, knocking the attack away.

Arbok slithered to the side and and spat out a globe of acid at the marowak.

The lone Pokémon reeled back in pain, the wounds he had taken starting to mount. He fell onto all fours, his body rapidly growing in size. Suddenly, a venusaur so large that it barely could fit into the tunnel stepped forward.

Arbok attempted to slithed away, but the venusaur trampled him with one heavy stomp.

“Arbok!” Jessie cried out.

“If you care so much, why don’t you help?” Pikachu spat.

Venisuar inclined a glance a both of them, intrigued.

Jessie’s eyes lit up with a burning anger, one so bright, that Ash felt like he could have seen it from the other side of the city. The eevee charged forward, her body bathed in a burning intensity. She tackled the much larger Pokémon and sent it back several paces.

Verge sent one foot down on Jessie, stomping the fox into the floor. The Normal-type survived, but was clearly injured and needed to catch her breath.

“Most impressive,” the Grass-type commented.

Ash finally managed to take a stand, having mended the injury he suffered. He charged in and punched the venusaur squarely on the face.

Verge reeled back a step. He snarled, “You will not stop me!” He then took a lumbering step forward and tried to trample Ash.

The riolu leapt backwards and avoided getting crushed.

Pikachu channeled electricity from his body and tried to bind the large Grass-type’s legs with electricity. The venusaur suddenly found it difficult to move forward.

In response, Verge sprayed a jet of acid into the rodent’s direction and blasted the rodent several yards.

“Pikachu!” Ash shouted.

The venusaur was not intent on letting up. Despite his pain and the Thunder Wave taking their toll, he brought his other foot down and tried to flatten the Fighting-type.

Ash managed to evade yet again, but this time, slipped on something and fell onto his rear.

Verge raised both of his legs and made one final attempt to crush Ash.

Ash braced himself, not thinking he had the time to escape the attack. And to his surprise, he wasn’t trampled.

Instead, the riolu noticed a shimmering barrier forming just a inch away from his nose, one that stopped Verge from completing his attack.

Ash turned his head to the side and noticed Pokedex rising from his back. “Dexter!?”

The rotom made a long burst of static in what sounded like a yawned. You should have woke me up, you know! You could have gotten hurt.

“Sorry, almost forgot you were there,” Ash admitted. Granted, how Dexter managed to sleep through all of that fighting before, was a question to ask later.


Verge let out what sounded like curse. “You are a nuisance who stands in the way of progress.” He raised his foot again and attempted to smash the Reflect barrier Dexter created. When that failed, he tried again, this time causing spiderweb like cracks to form.

I recommend escaping. Dexter said.

Ash agreed. He leapt out of the way, just in time for the Reflect barrier to shatter.

Jessie charged back in and blew out a crystalline haze of frost towards the venusaur. This promptly caused several of his leave to wither.

“Fascinating,” Verge commented, his breath heavy. “I… I must study this. But at another time.” Then, his body started to glow.

Ash knew it wasn’t a Solar Beam, since he wasn’t collecting sunlight, but he knew it was some kind of beam attack. He rushed forward and out, “Dexter!” He didn’t know what moves Dexter knew, but right now, he didn’t think of anything else that would have helped.

On it! The rotom responded by conjuring a barrier in front of his trainer, just in time to intercept the Hyper Beam that left Verge’s mouth

Dexter’s barrier held up for a second, yet shattered as the continued beam tore into the impermeable forcefield. Everyone was sent flying back, parts of the tunnel caving in around them.

Ash felt a ringing in his ears, his skull aching. The riolu took stock of himself and his surroundings. He was alive and intact. Dexter was next to him, knocked out cold. Arbok was nearby, though he was out of the fight ever since he got stepped on.

Pikachu… he didn’t Pikachu or anyone else for that matter. But he felt their presence.

He pushed himself off the ground and found it hard to stand. He stumbled forward, leaning against a large rock for support.

The ringing in his ears still made it hard to hear, though he was aware of… someone talking, even if he couldn’t make out the words.

He stepped closer and found… an oddly colored eevee hovering over Jessie.

“... be here soon,” the eevee commented. She looked identical to Jessie, even featuring some of the same injuries and wounds, only she was colored as if a toddler dumped a whole vat of dyes onto her fur. “Must… gather, must escape,” she rasped.

Ash took a deep breath and tried to steel himself for what might have been one more fight. This had to be Verge, though he… she… was trying to copy Jessie and doing it poorly, he didn’t understand.

Then the off-colored eevee walked over to Pikachu. The rodent tried to push the eevee away, but lacked the strength to resist.

“Pika… chu…” Ash gasped, trying to rebuild his strength, to save his friend.

Verge walked over to rodent and became him, in every way, save that his colors were just like Jessie’s. He even had Pikachu’s injuries, though he didn’t seem bothered by them. “How…. fascinating. Another oddity. Why are you so different?” Verge questioned. He brought a paw to his chin. “... I wonder.”

“Unhand my friend!” Ash stepped forward, his paws clenched into fists. It felt a little weird talking o someone who looked almost exactly like his best friend.

Verge scowled. He seemed quite annoyed. He backed away from Pikachu. “You are persistent. Annoying, but perhaps something to research.” Several thuds distantly echoed from the tunnel. He frowned.

Ash could sense several lifesigns entering the tunnels and approaching rapidly. No doubt that the fighting had finally attracted the attention of people topside.

“No matter,” Verge said. The strange Pikachu started to walk deeper into the sewers. “I now have tools to become perfect, all I must do is…” He then abruptly stumbled onto the floor.

Ash blinked, surprised that this happened. He looked down at Verge’s feet. He noticed that they were now made of stone.

The ditto saw this and abruptly changed forms. He became an eevee… except his feet were that of a Pikachu’s and still made of stone. “What is this?” he rasped. And then suddenly, one of the eevee’s ears was suddenly made of stone.

Ash stared. He sensed an intense panic going through the ditto.

Verge rapidly shifted forms, all in a desperate attempt to become something else. From eevee to riolu to zubat to ratatta to dubwool… to all sorts of Pokémon that Ash didn’t know the name of, the ditto tried to escape his fate. Yet with each successive transformation, more and more of the shapeshifter became calcified.

The riolu could only look in horror. While he saw Verge as a bad guy for everything that he did, this was still not pretty to look at.

“What… is happening?” Verge rasped, with the only thing left of himself his head and one of his eyes. And even then, with himself unable to change, more and more of his body calcified. “What did I do wrong?”

“You lost control of your own Essence,” a familiar voice spoke with cruel satisfaction.

Ash turned and found his grandfather walking over, with Misty helping the old lucario to walk.

“Old… fool,” Verge rasped, his mouth the only thing left of himself that he could move. “What is this? Tell me.”

The old lucario shook his head. “You simply found the price of perfection. This is the natural result as no Maiju can contain so many different types of Essence without consequence.”

“I was… promised…” the ditto made his last words. And then, Verge completely turned to stone, a mishmash of different Pokémon parts.

Ash felt oddly sympathetic, like he felt like he could relate to the situation at hand. He turned to the others, unsure of what exactly just happened.

Pikachu laid on his back and drifted into unconsciousness.

Misty made a disgusted face.

Gramps walked over to his grandson and placed a paw over his shoulder; Ash winced in pain. The old lucario backed away when noticed this. “Ash, I…” he shook his head. “We should go.”

Ash looked up, feeling the adrenaline leave his body. He was… so tired.

Citrine Isles - Chapter 31 - Diatomic_Rex - Pocket Monsters | Pokemon (2024)
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