a/n: We know it’s been a while, and we hope you enjoy this new chapter. Please understand that this is a first draft, and we may make edits to it before posting on outside sites in two weeks.
Raven was recovering nicely. The little Pokémon had a lot of spirit. Not unlike Fi herself. She authorized the staff to dip into the boss’s supply of Max Revives, Full Restores, and tasty Vitamins. Whatever Raven needed to feel herself again, that was what she was going to get. Fi smiled and stroked the little Pokémon the head as it lay on soft white pillow on a recovery table. It gave a friendly purr and nuzzled against her finger.
“Noibat… Noi…” it said lovingly.
She smiled back at it. “Good to see you, too. I could use a friendly face right now.” She lowered her head a bit, images flickering in her head, making her temper flicker to life, even as she kept a calm demeanor around her winged friend.
“Noi?” the Pokémon asked, cocking its head.
Fi smiled. “Nothing you need to worry about,” she said.
Raven pouted. It didn’t like when Fi tried to keep secrets from it.
Fair enough. Fi sighed. “I need to prepare for a battle. The most important one of my life.”
At the word “battle,” Raven said up eargly. “Noi-noi? Noi-noibat!” it squeaked.
“What?” Fi cried. “No, absolutely not. There’s no way you’re fighting any battles until at least the end of the week!”
Raven screeched angrily, flapping its wings and even baring its tiny, sharp teeth at her. She’d never seen it so passionate.
“Sorry,” she said firmly. “But you’re just not strong enou–”
She stopped short, chest burning. Those words. How many times had she heard this speech? Only it was always someone else giving it to her. Telling her she was too weak. Too fragile. How she couldn’t handle it. And now she was going to turn around and do the same thing to a Pokémon? One of the few allies she had in this place?
She pulled out her radio. “Fi here. What’s the ETA on the boss’s return?”
There was a buzz of static before a grunt answered, “Complications in Saffron City. Target is loose. Expect at least forty-eight hour delay.
Forty-eight hours. This was perfect. Fi had no idea how Giovanni had managed to let Sabrina slip through his fingers. The lady was practically begging for a merger when Fi left, and surely after Misty and Brock, the boss had enough experience with overdosing humans to get that part of it right.
Perhaps his grunts had messed something else. The man was brilliant, but he could only compensate for his lackies’ incompetence so much. He was too soft on them. That would change when Fi became his heir. She grinned at the thought. Then she turned her radio on again.
“Pierce, how we looking on the merger?”
More static. Then she heard Pierce’s voice loud and clear, “The subject is here. We can go at anytime.” There was the sound of footsteps, what might had been the squeal of a door hinge, and then Pierce spoke again, his voice much softer. “I’ll keep the percentage as low as I can.”
“What?” she exclaimed, then covered her mouth, not wishing to bother Raven as it rested. Quieter (though not exactly calmer), she said, “You’re supposed to do the opposite. Get as close to fifty percent as you can. I want to fight as at my full strength and his.”
Pierce didn’t answer right away; Fi wondered for a second if he’d cut the connection. Then, he spoke again. “If I go over fifty percent, he’s a Pokémon, not a human. And a Pokémon can’t be the boss’s heir. Your fight will be pointless.”
“As I’m well aware,” she said. “So I’m counting on you and your lab lackies to get it right.” She looked back Raven, now sleeping contentedly on the pillow, a fiery passion still written on its face. She couldn’t deny it this battle. If Raven felt it could fight, then it would fight, and Fi would guide it.
She grinned. Ash was going down in flames, and her closest Pokémon would be the first to light the fire.
On the radio, she heard the swing on the door hinge again, followed by some incoherent mumbling. “Hang on, one more question,” Pierce said. “Ash wants to know when you plan to have this battle.”
Fi looked at the clock. 9am. It wouldn’t leave a lot of time to prepare, but it would be enough.
“In thirty-six hours,” she said. “The Viridian Gym challenge stadium. Tell the brat not to get lost on the way.” With that, she shut the radio off and stretched her muscled arms above her head. The odds might have been in her favor, but there was a lot of preparation to do.
Ash sat on the end of a medical table, watching Pierce muttering something into a radio. Anxiously, he tapped his heel against the table’s corner. What was it Pierce had to talk about? Couldn’t they just get this over with? If he and Fi were going to fight in thirty-six hours, he needed to be as prepared as he could.
Pierce pocketed the radio, then accepted a white lab coat, face mask, and gloves from one of his assistances, all of whom were already wearing the same thing. Ash’s anxiousness eased. Time to get started.
“You’ll be restrained during the transformation process,” Pierce said, sounding bored as he snapped the gloves on. “Strictly for the safety of my staff. When the process is complete, you will be released. Clear so far?”
“Completely,” Ash replied.
Pierce closed up the coat and put the mask on, which muffled his voice a bit, but not so much he couldn’t be understood. “You’ll receive an injection of the serum first. Then you will have to hold the Mega Stone corresponding to your chosen Pokémon.” He gestured, and one of the lab technicians stepped forward with a tray. Ash couldn’t resist. For just a moment, he imagined what it would be like to have each of these amazing Pokémon’s DNA in his veins. To have fists of steel like Lucario. Or to soak up sunlight for energy like Venusaur. Or to soar across the sky with Charizard’s wings.
But none of these would do anything if Giovanni’s ghost Pokémon could still get into his head. He needed immunity against them. And for that, he only had one option. He pointed to the Banettite. Oddly enough, it was pink, with stripes of gray and yellow at its center.
The technician looked confused. “Did you… mean this one?” he asked, pointed to another pink-ish one. The Diancite.
Ash shook his head. “No. I’m merging with this one.” He pointed again, and just to make sure there was no mistake, he added, “With Banette.”
The technician shrugged his shoulders and separated the orb from its fellows, handing the tray to an assistant to deal with. “Very well.”
No one really talked too much after that. The Banettite was placed aside, and Ash was laid back on the table, his arms and legs restrained. Ash wondered… if he took on enough of the ghost-type’s characteristics, could he just phase through the straps now holding him down. He tried to smile at the thought, but somehow losing that much of his humanity wasn’t really amusing him.
Misty had described the merging process to him during one of their chats. So the cold didn’t take him by surprise. He tried to imagine it was like that time he’d walked through a blizzard, holding his Pokémon and protecting them. Actually, if he thought about it, he’d probably done that several times. His friends always told him he didn’t the stupidest stuff for Pokémon. And he didn’t disagree with them. He also didn’t care. Pokémon were his life. And this was the best way he had to protect them. Protect his human friends, too.
As the cold engulfed him, he saw the head scientist hold out the pink and gray orb to him. Even though Ash’s fingers shook, he grabbed it without hesitating. The effect was immediate. He felt a burst of energy coursing through him. His skin glowed, just like a Pokémon’s would during evolution. His whole body began to ache, his breathing became shallow, and for a moment, the edges of his mouth turned upward as if trying to mimic Banette’s unnaturally wide grin.
“Good, good,” Pierce said. “Keep going.”
The pain grew more intense, and Ash screamed. The sounds around him were drowned out by what sounded like a rushing wind in his ears. But he knew the scientists were talking. Anxiously. Exchanging numbers and making calculations.
Then, as suddenly as it had started, the pain left him. He lay on the table taking heavy breaths. His body felt lighter. He wasn’t grinning anymore. Was the transformation over? He opened his eyes and looked around. His skin was no longer glowering, but the cold sensation hadn’t left him. And the lights… they were too bright. He wanted darkness.
Ash put up his hand to shield his eyes, only to find his hand was now gray and clawed. He looked down to see most of his arms had turned the same color. And his fingers shook at the sight.
“What’s the percentage?” Pierce was asking.
There was a lot of typing on a keyboard before anyone gave an answer. “Fifty,” the technician finally said.
Pierce gave a long pause. “Fifty what?” Pierce finally asked. He sounded terrified.
“Just… fifty, sir. Point zero. As fine as I am able to calculate.”
Fifty… I’m exactly half human and half Pokémon. He should have been happy. This would give him the most amount of Banette’s strength while still keeping him his place as Giovanni’s heir. And his mind felt clear for the first time in days. But all Ash could think about was Brock and Misty’s warnings. About what it felt like when you weren’t human anymore. Ash didn’t cry out or yell in fury. But all the same, he felt like he was in mourning.
He would use that feeling. The feeling of loss. He would turn it around and defeat Fi once and for all.