The ground rumbled as several explosions rattled the structure.
"Come on Misty, this way!" Ash cried, grabbing her hand and running through the seemingly endless hallways, dodging falling concrete. Ash glanced over his shoulder at their pursuers. "Pikachu, use Thunderbolt!"
"Pika chuuuuuuu!" It cried as it charged up an electric shock, detonating in the faces of their followers.
"I think I see the exit!" Misty called.
They rushed on toward the light, hope guiding their steps. But this hope was shattered when a powerful attack dove in between them and the exit, stopping them in their tracks. In this brief moment of vulnerability they were seized by the enemy.
Pikachu began shocking everyone and everything it could as Ash and Misty struggled in the arms of their captors to reach their Pokeballs. Ash and Misty were released as shocks went through the people holding them but before they could react they were almost instantly snatched up by something else: vines.
The leader of Team Rocket stepped forward beside the Venusaur that was holding them in place. His dark eyes cold and calculating stared them down, unwavering as he gave the command for an Earthquake attack. All the people in the room braced themselves as the floor was swept from under their feet but the one taking the most damage was Pikachu, who lay unconscious.
"Pikachu!" Ash cried, fighting violently to try and reach his Pokemon.
Giovanni and his Venusaur were the only members of Team Rocket still left standing; Giovanni had resisted the attack as if he were made of stone. "Sleep Powder," he ordered.
"Hold your breath!" Misty cried before covering her mouth to try and prevent the sparkles from effecting her.
Ash mimicked her movements but it wasn't long before his eyes began to droop. Misty's hand fell limp in his grip and she swayed. "Ash..." she breathed before collapsing in the vines.
No amount of will power would allow Ash to fight the Sleep Powder. The images of Misty and Pikachu laying unconscious and the bone chilling gaze of Giovanni blurred in his mind until his vision was swallowed by darkness.
When Ash woke up there was nature all around him. A bush was right in front of his face, soft grass lie under his body and when looking up, a cloudless sky hung overhead. This confused Ash as the last place he remembered being was inside the Team Rocket base. The sound of scuffing feet caught his attention and he peered through the bush to see Rocket Grunts swarming the area, seemingly looking for something. Horror struck him as he realized they were most likely looking for him, since he had supposedly escaped. 'But then where's Misty and Pikachu? I know I wouldn't have left without them...' Backing away slowly, Ash scampered off in the opposite direction, praying they wouldn't notice him.
When he was pretty sure he had put some distance between himself and his pursuers, Ash slumped against a tree, looking around dizzily. Why was it that everything seemed so big? The tree he was leaning against was practically a skyscraper and he would usually be towering over most bushes. Before he could put too much thought into it, a loud voice startled him, followed by the cracking sound of a Pokeball opening.
His heart stopped. Had he been discovered? But when looking toward the source of the voice, all he saw was a kid with a Cubone. "Oh thank Mew," he sighed. "Hey kid, can you tell me where I am? I kinda need help." But the kid hadn't seemed to have heard him. Instead he ordered his Cubone to use a Bonemerang attack. Ash leaped in shock, barely dodging the bone as it rushed toward him. "Hey! What's the big idea?!" Ash snarled, suddenly aware of heat flaring in his cheeks. From the corner of his eye he could see sparks flying from them. "Wh-what?"
As he was distracted by his body's unusual behavior, the Bonemerang came back for a second round and hit him in the gut, knocking him over with its powerful force. Getting shakily to his feet, he groaned in pain, suddenly feeling very weak. "I'm not a bad guy! Please stop attacking me," he pleaded.
The bone was returned to Cubone's hand and with another order from its trainer, it threw the merciless bone again. Ash braced himself, not feeling strong enough to dodge.
A shrill cry split the air as a Tailow swooped down from the sky and intercepted the attack, deflecting it with a wing. In another swift motion the Tailow streaked over to Ash and grabbed onto him with its beak, lifting him into the sky with incredible ease.
Ash dangled from its grip, looking down at the kid as he yelled at them in a fit of rage. When they left the kid behind, soaring high above the trees, Ash looked up at the Tailow incredulously. "How are you able to lift me?!"
Tailow looked down at him cockily. "A scrawny heap like you? You're as light as a Pidove," he scoffed, voice slightly muffled by holding onto something that looked oddly like a tail.
Ash had a double take moment. "Wait, how are you talking?!"
"The same way you are," Tailow cawed. "Were you born yesterday or something?"
"It sure feels like it..." Ash mumbled, his mind buzzing with questions. Rather than looking down at the swift moving trees, he took a moment to look himself over for the first time since he had woken up. He was shocked to find golden fur covering his now small body and paws where his hands and feet once were. "I'm a Pikachu!" He exclaimed, having a mental breakdown. "Is this a dream or did I really turn into a Pikachu again?"
"What are you talking about?" Tailow asked with eyes that questioned his sanity. "You're an odd one aren't you?"
Ash attempted to compose himself and work out what happened in his mind. Something must have happened in the Team Rocket base but he couldn't remember a thing. He decided to focus on asking questions Tailow could actually answer. "Why was that trainer attacking me? Was it just because I'm a Pikachu?"
Tailow shook his head, making Ash sway unpleasantly. "It's because you're a shiny Pikachu. Your kind is very rare and so humans go crazy when they see one. You didn't want to be captured did you?"
"No way! Of course not!" Ash said. 'Who knows what would happen to me if I was captured...' Looking down at himself again he realized that he was a darker golden than his Pikachu. "Thank you for saving me. Where are you taking me anyway?"
Tailow stared forward as he answered, eyes glazing over as if he were drifting off. "A place where you never have to worry about trainers trying to capture you again... It's called Paradise."
Ash blinked. "Paradise?" He echoed.
The tree line cleared out, replaced by a large stretch of water. After traveling a little ways over the water, Tailow stopped at a random spot, hovering over it.
"Why have we stopped? Where's this Paradise place?" Ash asked.
"Listen up, I'll only tell you this once. When I let go of you, go under and find Mudkip, he will escort you the rest of the way. Enjoy your stay." Before Ash could protest, Tailow released his hold on his tail, leaving him to flail helplessly as he plummeted down into the water.
Ash sank down to the bottom where soft sand lie and looked around frantically for the fore mentioned Mudkip. Swimming in a random direction he caught sight of something blue and made his way toward it quickly, relieved to see a Mudkip. It leaped up swiftly from the dirt when seeing him, gesturing with its fin to follow before swimming off.
Ash followed, cheeks puffing up as he tried to hold on to the breath he had. Mudkip made its way through a cave, Ash hard on its tail. After what seemed like forever to Ash, they broke through to the surface, where sweet oxygen greeted Ash's lungs.
Mudkip waited patiently as he gulped in the air. "Sorry, the water tunnel is always hard to get through. It's not too much farther now."
Ash nodded, oddly able to make his ear twitch. "I'm ready."
Without another word, Mudkip led on. After a long while of swimming, light finally entered the cavern and Ash had to shield his eyes from its harshness.
When it was dim enough to open his eyes, Ash gasped in wonder. Before him lie what most would refer to as a literal 'paradise'. There was plenty of greenery and water, cliffs towered on all sides while still showing a large stretch of sky. A thundering waterfall crashed down from one of the cliffs and into a large pool. Pokemon laced the area wherever he looked.
"Welcome to Paradise," Mudkip announced, leading him up to land.
"It's amazing!" Ash said, still gawking.
Mudkip looked past him, fin twitching. "I'll leave Arcanine to explain the rest," it said and scampered back the way it had come.
Before Ash could question who Arcanine was or where to find him, a booming voice arose behind him. "Welcome newcomer."
Ash spun to face Arcanine, looking up with huge eyes. Arcanine were already large to humans but to a Pikachu, they were like humongous beasts. "Hi," Ash said.
"Have you come here merely for a visit or to stay in Paradise?" Arcanine asked, his eyes warm and welcoming.
Ash paused for a moment, considering his situation. He had turned into a Pikachu somehow and he needed to go rescue his Pikachu and Misty but he also knew that being attacked had weakened him more than he was willing to admit and that he couldn't risk being caught by trainers. "I don't know actually. I was saved by Tailow and brought here. I would love to see what this place is like."
Arcanine nodded. "That's fine. You are free to leave whenever you wish, though most of us prefer to stay." He turned and began walking away, pausing to look over his shoulder. "I could give you a tour if you wish."
"Sure, that'd be awesome!" Ash exclaimed and bounced behind him.
Arcanine led the way through Paradise and there was never a moment when Ash wasn't in awe from its beauty and serenity. All of the Pokemon were at peace, like they hadn't a care in the world. There was plenty of food, water and shelter. Families of various Pokemon nested together, their babies rolling around in the warm sunlight.
Looking up, Ash caught sight of some mouth watering berries in a tree; his stomach rumbled at the thought of them. Without a second thought, Ash launched himself up the tree skillfully. As a human he already climbed like a Mankey so becoming a Pokemon only strengthened that talent. When he reached the branch holding some of the berries, he reached his paws out to grab some when a sudden bolt of electricity hit them by the stem, knocking them to the ground.
Rather than investigating this bolt, Ash continued to reach for more berries, coming to the same conclusion each time. Finally he glared down at the source to find a Jolteon with a pile of berries next to him, which he was digging into. Climbing down the tree, Ash leaped in front of Jolteon, cheeks sparking as his anger flared. "Hey what's the big idea of taking all those berries before I could grab them?!" He snarled.
Jolteon looked up from his gorging, not at all ruffled by Ash's hostility. "Hey chill, Sparkles. I didn't see you up there."
"Oh really?" Ash spat, eyeing Jolteon suspiciously. "Then why did you take each berry I was reaching for?"
"Alright fine," Jolteon sighed. "I did do it on purpose, just to mess with you." He smirked before pushing some of the berries to him. "Here, have some berries. No hard feelings right, Sparkles?"
"Gee thanks!" Ash said and scarfed down the delicious berries. "And stop calling me Sparkles," he added with his mouth full.
"Sorry dude, I call all shinies Sparkles," Jolteon said, continuing to eat.
"Well my name is Ash."
"Ash?" Jolteon looked at him strangely. "Were you owned by a human once or something? Cuz most Pokemon are named after what they are."
"Yeah, I guess you could say that..." Ash muttered.
A shadow fell over them and Ash looked up to see Arcanine. "Ah, I see you have made a friend already," he mused.
"Well Jolteon, perhaps you could show our newcomer where he could sleep tonight. He doesn't know his way around here as well as you do," Arcanine said.
Jolteon dipped his head. "Alright, I'll do that Arcanine."
Arcanine nodded, flicking his ears to Ash. "Enjoy your stay here in Paradise. If you ever need me, I live in those cliffs." He looked in the direction he was referring to before bounding off with incredible speed.
Silence followed his leave, which Jolteon broke before Ash had the chance to. "You can stay with me if you're cool with that. The sun will be going down soon."
Ash looked toward the sun to see that it was dipping behind the mountains, bathing Paradise in a warm orange glow. "That'd be great, thanks."
After finishing off their meal, Ash followed Jolteon as he led him toward his sleeping place. They stopped at a large tree with roots sprawled across the ground. In between the gnarled roots lie a small cavern with moss and leaves lining the floor. Ash crawled in, collapsing as soon as his paws hit the cushy lining. "It's so soft," he sighed.
Jolteon settled down a little ways from him, laying his head on his paws. "Night Sparkles. I'll show you some of the best places in Paradise tomorrow."
"Night," Ash said, too tired to lash out at him for calling him that annoying nickname again. Sleep overtook him instantly but his dreams were haunted by his worry for Misty and Pikachu.
Ash woke up abruptly the next morning from a sharp pain in his side. He leaped up, letting out an instinctive shock of electricity. Looking to see what caused the pain he saw that Jolteon's spikes were dug deep into his skin. Jolteon rose slowly, pulling away to draw the spikes out of Ash.
"Sorry Sparkles, I must have rolled on you," Jolteon said with a yawn. "I'm not used to sleeping with others."
Ash winced as he rubbed his sore spot. "It's fine..." He was still a Pikachu, which meant he was stuck in a very long dream or what was happening was real.
They walked out into the sunlight and Ash's stomach grumbled almost instantly.
"I heard that," Jolteon said with a smirk. "Come on, let's get some breakfast."
As they were foraging for food, they came across a large crowd of Pokemon who seemed to be fussing over something. "What's going on over there?" Ash asked.
"No idea," Jolteon said and led the way over.
Ash found Arcanine towering over most of the Pokemon in the crowd and made his way to him since Arcanine was one of the only Pokemon in the crowd he knew. "What's going on?" He asked.
"An egg was found in Paradise and no mother Pokemon is claiming it. No one knows where it came from," Arcanine responded.
Ash's eyes sparkled. "Wow! So you have no idea what kind of Pokemon it will hatch into?"
Arcanine shook his head.
"Awesome," Ash enthused and made his way closer to the egg.
Arcanine joined him. "It seems that it's close to hatching."
Ash looked up at Arcanine. "Can I feel it? I'll be careful, I promise!"
Arcanine hesitated a moment before nodding. "Alright go ahead."
Bursting with excitement, Ash walked closer to the egg, feeling the eyes of all the gathered Pokemon on him. The egg was red and yellow with blue bubbles all over it. Ash reached forward and touched it. "I can't wait to see what you hatch into," he told the egg, stroking it gently. "I bet you'll be awesome."
The egg suddenly burst into light, making Ash leap back in shock. "Whoa, is it hatching now?"
The light's intensity brightened overwhelmingly and a cracking sound split the air. Ash watched in wonder as the light began to take shape and then vanished completely, leaving a baby Keldeo lying on the ground.
"A Keldeo," Ash heard Arcanine breathe behind him. "How can this be?"
"Whoa..." Ash said and stared at the baby. He had once met a baby Lugia so it was possible for legends to hatch from eggs but it was very rare.
The Keldeo began looking around with its eyes clenched shut, whimpering softly. Finally, it stopped in front of Ash and its eyes slowly fluttered open. When its eyes met Ash's, his heart stopped and his muscles tensed. Its eyes sparkled a luminous sea green color with such intensity that it seemed they were staring straight through to his soul. The world came to a stop and all he could do was stand gawking and staring at the Keldeo. Its eyes were painfully familiar.
Ash's mind drifted off and the world fell away from him as he was taken into the sky. Clouds floated around him and in the distance he could see a Rayquaza flying about. From the clouds a vision of Misty formulated and walked slowly toward him.
"Her name shall be Mist..." A voice boomed.
Involuntary tears filled Ash's eyes. Why was Misty in a vision of the clouds? Why did the Keldeo look just like her? Did something bad happen to her in the Team Rocket base? He wasn't a baby Pokemon so why was she?
But the clouds offered no answers to his unspoken questions and before he knew it, the vision was over, returning him to the clearing where the Keldeo still stared up at him.
"Daddy?" She squeaked, her voice soft and bell like.
Ash's throat was clenched with emotion. "Hey Mist..."