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Catastrophe at Stone Cove
                LH-chan! '99

Part 2



Pikachu struggled in James’ grasp, electricity crackling on her cheeks.Though she knew her thunder attacks wouldn’t work against Team Rocket’s suits.
Nearby, Jessie rummaged through the myriad junk lying about the cave in which they were hidden from anyone intent upon arresting them.Finding the object she sought, she stood up and walked back toward James and Pikachu.
Pikachu recognized the object immediately."Pi pika!"She yelped, doing the only thing she could think of.She bit James’ hand.
James yelped in pain, and would have dropped Pikachu—as it was, the little mouse all but escaped—but Meowth was standing beside James’ feet and caught Pikachu as she fell.
"Relax, Pikachu," the villainous cat pokémon said.
"Yes," Jessie agreed, advancing upon them."You’re on our side now."
Pikachu continued to struggle, the energy of the object Jessie held making her fur stand on end.A Thunderstone, evolutionary stone of electric-type pokémon.Jessie reached out with the stone and touched the little mouse.
"Pi...ka...pika...chu!"Pikachu howled.The stone’s energy filling her tiny body as she tried to fight the stone’s force, tried to will herself not to transform—to no avail.The silver light of evolution engulfed her.

****

With Bulbasaur’s help, everyone had managed to reach more vertical ground, but still found themselves unable to revive Ash.Now they raced as quickly as they dared through the streets of Stone Cove.
"I don’t see anything that looks much like a hospital!"Misty said, her concern deepening for her friend—who remained slumped unconscious in Brock’s arms.
"Hold it right there!"A familiar voice exclaimed from behind them.
Brock nearly dropped Ash as he turned to face the speaker.
"All right you thieves," Officer Jenny continued, brandishing handcuffs."What did you do with those stones?!"
"We’re not thieves!"Misty insisted, as Brock collected himself."We’re pokémon trainers!"
"Please, Officer Jenny," Brock stammered, blushing uncontrollably."Can you tell us where the hospital is?Our friend Ash is hurt!"
"Ash?Could you mean Ash Ketchum?My relatives have told me great things about him."Jenny said to herself."I guess you’re not thieves after all."
"I just said that!"Misty exclaimed."But he’s been hurt, we need to get him to a hospital right away!"
"Oh," Jenny said, "I hadn’t noticed.But I’m afraid Stone Cove has no hospital."
Brock and Misty looked downcast, unsure what to do—Stone Cove was so far from everything.
"You could always take him to the Pokémon Center," Jenny continued airily.
"Great idea!"Brock complemented her, turning a brighter shade of red."Where is it?"
"Right there," Jenny said, pointing over Brock’s shoulder to the building directly behind him.It’s sign labeling it the "Stone Cove Pokémon Center."Misty stood on the building’s lowest step, waiting, a sweatdrop on her forehead.

****

Slowly, the world came back into painful focus as Ash opened his eyes."W-what happened?"
"Oh, good you’re awake," Nurse Joy said with a smile, as she happened past the boy on her rounds."I was worried, I don’t get too much experience treating human patients."
"Nurse Joy?"Ash said, confused, blinking to clear his vision."I’m in the Pokémon Center?"
Joy nodded an affirmative.Indeed, he was lying in a white-sheeted bed in the Pokémon Center recovery room—the many other creatures nearby proof of that—his chest and forehead wrapped in bandages.
"Nurse Joy," Ash wondered, "what happened?"
"Well, from what you’re friends told me, you were all caught in some sort of trap," Joy explained, "you were injured, and since Stone Cove has no hospital they brought you here."
"A trap!"Ash jerked upright as he realized the situation."Team Rocket!Where’s Pikachu?!"
"Calm down, Ash," Joy insisted, pushing him back against the pillows, "or you’ll worsen your injuries.I don’t know anything about your pokémon, but your friends might—they’re just outside if you’d like me to call them."
Ash breathed a sigh of relief, "Yeah, thanks."

****

Joy met Brock and Misty outside a moment later, as the pair talked with Officer Jenny.
"Nurse Joy," Misty said as she turned toward her."How is he?"
"He’s fine," Joy said with a smile."In fact he just woke up a few minutes ago.Now his only problems are a bump on the head and a few cracked ribs."
"Can we see him?"Misty asked.
"That was exactly what I was coming to tell you," Joy said.
"Great, thank you Nurse Joy," Misty said, turning toward the recovery room.Dragging Brock—transfixed by the girls surrounding him—behind her.

****

A moment later, Brock, Misty, and Joy stood at Ash’s bedside, grim expressions on the faces of the former pair.
"Misty, Brock, you’re okay!"Ash smiled, eyes seeking his little yellow mouse."But where’s Pikachu?"
"Brock looked away, speaking only two words."Team Rocket."
"What?!"Ash exclaimed, sitting bolt upright.
Nurse Joy took a step toward him."Take it easy, Ash."
He swung his feet over the bedside, finding his shoes nearby."Sorry Nurse Joy.I hafta save Pikachu!"
Pulling on t-shirt, cap, and overshirt, he raced out the door at full speed.
"Ash, wait!"Misty called, as she and Brock followed him out the door, scarcely able to keep up.
Nurse Joy threw up her hands, exasperated.

Barely out the door, the group all but plowed into Officer Jenny.
"Whoa!What’s going on?"She asked authoritatively.
"Officer Jenny," Ash stared, wincing as he stopped abruptly."My Pikachu was stolen, I hafta save her!"
"A Pokémon theft!"Jenny exclaimed, flipping out her notepad."I’ll have to take a report."
"You already did," Misty informed her."Remember, the two Team Rocket members with the talking Meowth?"
"You know," Jenny thought aloud, flipping through her notepad."I hadn’t noticed, but that matches the description Nurse Joy gave of the robbers who stole the evolutionary stones from the center this morning!"
"This Jenny sure is scatterbrained," Misty whispered, a sweatdrop on her forehead.
"Yeah, but isn’t she pretty," Brock said, blushing.

****

"Rai...chu," the glowing mouse growled, her voice deepening as the evolution light faded.
Team Rocket shared an astounded glance as the newly evolved Raichu regarded them, but Jessie collected herself after a moment and produced a Pokéball.
"R-raichu, come."She commanded, aiming the beam at the mouse.
Raichu willingly swirled into a sphere of glowing pink energy, entering the Ball.
Team Rocket stared astounded once more, this time at the Pokéball, the realization sinking in...
"We finally caught Pikachu!"
"An’ now she’s even more powerful!"Meowth added.

****

Once Jenny was certain of all the details, it didn’t take the group long to reach the pit trap they’d fallen into.Especially as they tried to keep up with Ash's speed.
Following Brock’s directions, as he was the only one to see Team Rocket escape, the group was soon hot on their trail.

Suddenly, Ash—running far ahead of the others—stopped abruptly, staggering to lean against a tree for support.
"Ash!Are you alright?!"Misty implored, as the others came racing to join him.
"Yeah..." he assured them with a floppy grin; his breath coming short from running.He leaned harder on the tree, one arm clamped across his chest."All this running just kinda hurts is all."
"Maybe you should wait here while the rest of us search for your Pikachu."Jenny suggested.
"No!I’m okay!"Ash insisted."I hafta help save Pikachu!"
"Stubborn..." Misty grumbled, knowing the boy was downplaying his pain, and that he would almost certainly make matters worse.

It was then that an all to familiar voice rang through the trees around them:"Prepare for trouble!"
"Make it double!"
"To protect the world from devastation!"
"To unite all peoples within our nation!"
"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"
"To extend our reach to the stars above!"
"Jessie!"
"James!"
"Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!"
"Surrender now, or prepare to fight!"
"Meowth, dat’s right!"

"Team Rocket!"Ash exclaimed, all thoughts of pain forgotten as he whirled to face them."Give Pikachu back right now!"
"I don’t think so, little boy," Jessie answered.
"Instead," James picked up, "you should meet the newest member of the triumphant Team Rocket!"
"Go, Raichu!"Jessie yelled throwing a Pokéball between the two groups.
"Raichu?!"Ash, Misty, and Brock said, nearly in unison; each as perplexed as the last.
"Rai cha!"The mouse exclaimed, reforming from the energy sphere.
"Where did you losers get a Raichu?!"Ash exclaimed.
"Simple, boy..."Jessie started.
"...We evolved your Pikachu with the Thunderstone we stole."James picked up.
"Meowth, she’s loyal t’ us now," the cat added.

Ash sank to the ground, disbelieving."Pikachu..."Tears began to fill his eyes.
"Rai chu?"The mouse said quizzically.A jumble of feelings seemed to wash over the little Pokémon.Somehow she wanted to run to the boy, to be in his arms as a comfort to him.Though the purpose of his sorrow seemed out of her reach.
Then she found that she could not consider it any longer.Her master had given an order:"Raichu, Thunder!"
Sparks leaping from her cheeks, Raichu did as she was commanded, lashing out at the group with a powerful electric blast.

Ash collapsed alongside the others, his tears turned to steam by the heat of the attack.
"Pikachu...no..."He gasped, voice all but inaudible, reaching a charred glove out to the mouse.
Then all was darkness...


     Legalities: Pokémon © the zillion people who own the series, none of whom are LH-chan, who just borrowed their characters for a brief thrashing. =^_^=


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