Ch. 1: Return of the Betrayed
The cold wind of the north blew down upon Mt. Silver. Within a secluded glade well hidden from prying eyes, there lay a cottage. Built of fine wood and strong concrete and brick, the cottage was the residence of one Satoshi Mortis.
Ash stood out atop a high cliff, looking out to the south. Down there, he knew, were all the places he had once visited. He loved coming to this spot, for it gave him clarity and calm. It was his only solace and refuge from all the hate and cold anger that burned within him, hardening his soul. He still remembered the traitorous actions of his friends all those years ago. But it was a fleeting memory, for he was past that.
The boy was no longer there. Instead, upon the cliff there stood a tall man, clothed in black, a cloak of the darkest sable draped over his back. He was in meditation, contemplating his decision to return.
Ash? a male voice spoke to him in his mind. He knew who it was. No need to hide, Mewtwo, and I know Pikachu's there with you.
The leaves rustled behind him. Out came the catlike psychic Pokemon, his faithful companion Pikachu walking alongside him.
Ash, how are you? Pikachu asked. For a long time, the two could communicate telepathically. He replied, I'm fine, Pika. Just.......it's been so long since I've hidden myself from the world. To suddenly come back is....changing.
But it must be done, my friend. Mewtwo answered. For better or worse, you must show yourself once more. For the world faces its greatest danger yet. You and a few others are the only ones who know of the danger that is coming; the rest are ignorant of the coming war.
I know. Ash thought. I was once one of those ignorant people. Just like my erstwhile friends still are. After seven years, they are still blind to the changing winds. A kernel of hatred escaped his calm features. He stomped upon a beautiful sunflower. And still ignorant of the betrayal they committed!
Ash, I know how you feel. his mouse companion said. Believe me, I too rage at them for just abandoning you like that.
As do I. Mewtwo joined in. Your former companions chose to believe in the facts rather than in the truthful words of their friend. They willingly blinded themselves, and they threw you into the pit. He paused before asking, Do you believe in the concept of karma, Ash?
I do, and believe me, Mewtwo, their karma will soon be upon them.
How do you know this?
I don't. I just know that in the coming war and my return, they will suffer a great loss. He sighed loudly. But not as great a loss as the one I was forced to endure.
Both Pokemon nodded, feeling compassion and sympathy for their human friend. Since his wrongful branding as a criminal and murderer, Ash had to suffer so much. The loss of his mother was just the first of many trials and hardships that were thrust upon him. For the past seven years, he was forced to live as a wanderer, forever moving from one location to the next, staying briefly in the home of a fellow ally before having to flee. He was also forced to live in isolation and secrecy, for if even the slightest hint of his existence was revealed to the world, the world would not stop until he was found and killed, such was the panoply of lies heaped upon him. Not only that, but he did the task of bringing down the four most dangerous evil organizations in the world by himself. Though aided by his secret allies and loyal friends, it was Ash that bore the brunt of the duty.
And that duty almost cost him his life. Mewtwo remembers perfectly the day he himself was captured and tortured, and it was Ash who saved him, though at great cost to himself.
I feel your guilt, Mewtwo. Ash said to him. Don't feel bad. I willingly went into that hellhole to save you, and I'm glad to have paid the price.
I know, and I will be eternally grateful for your selfless act. But I wish it did not have to cost you so much. The ravaging of your flesh, and the loss of your right arm......
I've since replaced it with a bionic arm, Mewtwo. I'm glad Mr. Stone was kind enough to graft it onto me himself. He really was a nice man.
The three remained in silence for a time. Mewtwo and Pikachu kept looking on at their master and friend, both feeling the many emotions that put him in great turmoil. Mewtwo felt that Ash didn't want to return; there was a part of him that wanted to hide from the world and live alone, safe from all the hatred and disgust the world had for him. But his greater part knew he had to return and save the world yet again, as befitting his role as the Chosen One. But he could tell Ash only agreed to this reluctantly.
There is an old proverb spoken by ancient philosopher and war general of your region, Ash. Mewtwo said. It will not give you comfort, but perhaps it will make you understand you are needed. "Great men do not seek power; they have power thrust upon them."
How does that help, my friend?
It doesn't. It just tells this: you were an ordinary boy who wanted to journey out into the world and live life to the fullest. But fate had a greater purpose for you. It's why you were selected as the Chosen One. You were not given the choice to become a hero, Ash. The choice was forced upon you; all you were required to do was accept it.
He could tell his words were having an effect on Ash, for Ash visibly calmed down, an expression of acceptance upon his face. Thank you for your wisdom, Mewtwo. The truth is harsh but refreshing.
Mewtwo inclined his head. You're welcome.
Ash turned to take one last gaze at the view before him. So peaceful, it was deceiving in the great turmoil he could sense. Then he turned and began to walk to his companions. It's time, my friends. We leave now.
An hour later, Ash was ready to leave the solitude of his cottage home. He turned to take one last look at the abode he had built with his own hands, though he smiled as he remembered his true friends had pitched in. They had secretly taken the time to help their fallen companion to make a home for himself. He would be eternally grateful, as he knew the risks they were taking in helping "a criminal." More so because their girlfriends and family would get suspicious if they were gone too long. Fortunately, for seven years, nothing of that level occurred.
He was about to turn and travel down to Viridian City, where the competition was taking place, when he felt an aura approach him. At first, he tensed, but then relaxed as he recognized the aura, her bright pink energy cascading around her.
"Pikapi?" asked Pikachu. Ash petted his friend to calm him. "Relax, Pikachu. It's her."
From a hidden, winding path that led to his cottage came a young 23-year old woman. She was a beautiful figure, lithe yet strong, for she was one of the first to aid Ash after his "judgment." Ash remembered a time when she wore her flowing magenta hair into two fluffy bunny ears held by twin pearl decorations. Her blue eyes spoke of compassion and warmth.
"Hey, Ash!" she waved. Ash waved back. "Sakura. Been a while since last saw each other."
"So is it true? You're coming back?" she asked, a hopeful tone in her voice. Ash nodded, though she saw not his reluctance. "Yeah, I am. The world needs me again. Though I'm so tired."
She felt nothing but sympathy for him, and she placed a hand upon his shoulder. "I know, Ash. It's hard for you having to save the world so many times from many dangers. And I know you hate having to hide your face from the world. But believe me when I say this," and she spoke the rest to him telepathically, her relationship with her Espeon having long granted her the ability of telepathy and telekinesis.
Everything will turn out for the better, Ash. I know it.
Thank you, Sakura. answered Ash, for he could also communicate telepathically with her. You've really supported me through all this.
Not just me, Ash. All of us have. Gary, Ritchie, Paul, Drew, all the others. Not just in providing you shelter and friendship, but in fighting alongside you as well.
If only my former friends could see the truth of this. he thought sadly. If only they could see the truth.
They will, Ash. And it will be hard for them. But they shall suffer the guilt of betraying their best friend.
He noted her brief spark of sadness; he knew it was because her best friend, and his former lover, would suffer the most. Worry not about Misty, Sakura. She will suffer, there is no way around it.
I know. It's just...she's one of my best friends. I will endure such anger from her when she finds out I've helped you. She'll think I'm a traitor.
But only briefly. Trust me, you will salvage your friendship with her. Ash said. Sakura nodded and hugged him, which he happily returned. Yes, he was still the kind and compassionate Ash, beneath all the coldness and anger that lay in him.
"You want me to drive you to Viridian City?" asked Sakura. Ash declined. "No. I don't want to endanger you or anyone else who's helped me. It'll be the same as always whenever I venture out into the world: alone and unsupported."
"I understand." she replied, and together, they walked down to Route 28, which wasn't far from Ash's cottage up in the mountain.
Is the crystal ready? he asked telepathically. "It is. Gary has it in his lab. He'll be expecting you. she replied. "Good. Take care."
"You too. But remember, you will never be alone."
"Thanks. I'll see you and the others soon." he replied, and kissed her on the cheek to which she just smiled. "Espeon, let's go." she said, her Pokemon coming out of her Pokeball and proceeding to teleport the two away. Ash was alone again, save for Pikachu. "Flygon, come on out!" he threw a Pokeball, and the Dragon-type creature emerged.
"Fly us to Viridian City, my friend."
Thus was Ash Ketchum returning to the world, but this time, he was not going to disappear again.