And this was the last part of the original short story. The flashback scene also appears in Calling All Retrievers, though of course in script form.
Chapter 8: The Light Ball
As Slick and his Pokemon camped on the banks of Route 110, Lightning found himself sitting in the shade of a tree, listening to the whirrs of bicycles crossing the steel bridge overhead A little ways off, Insyte and Rush were off bickering with each other as usual, while Shanala curled up on a rock and fell asleep.
Leaving Rush, Insyte, and Lightning to rest up after a particularly tough training session last night, Slick had gone out fishing with Leroy earlier in the morning. From Rush's and Insyte's comments, Lightning gathered that Slick was having little success.
From between the tree's roots, the Pikachu watched the others idly with a yawn, relaxing in the cool breeze. It was nice to kick back and relax every now and then, watching time float by, alone with his thoughts.
The Pikachu glanced down to the volt charm next to him. It had been months since he last looked at the golden orb, let alone took it out of his Poke Ball. And now here he was, somewhere in the wilderness, holding this mysterious sphere.
Why was it so special, again? Ah, right, it'd been the reward from his last mission with Team Retrievers. Or was that just something he'd made up? He rubbed his face, feeling annoyed that he couldn't remember what actually happened and what was a dream.
"Now just where've you been hiding, mouse?" hissed a voice from behind him. Lightning froze as Insyte and Rush emerged from behind the tree. How long had they been there, watching him? "Look at that, Rush. Someone thinks he needs a little boost to his bolt! "
Leaves rustled as Bailey dropped down from the branches overhead, flapping to the ground. "Man, do you two ever shut up?" yawned the Wingull, waddlng over to Lightning. Her eyes widened as she saw the Pikachu's volt charm. "Hang on! When did you get a light ball?"
Trying hard not to move, Lightning found himself at a loss for words as usual. Did Bailey mean the volt charm? What was the volt charm, anyway? He'd never really figured out what the volt charm was, or what it was supposed to do.
Rush patted the Wingull's head, earning an annoyed peck from her. "Hey, hey, be nice," chuckled the Marshtomp, resting back on his haunches. "Maybe it was a gift from Slick or something. For his sparkling ninja."
Insyte rolled his eyes. "Oh, yeah, because these are so easy to find, maybe there's one up your butt," scoffed the Umbreon. " Have you any idea how rare these are? No way Slick can afford one."
"That's enough from you, Darky," said Bailey loudly, swatting Insyte until he moved aside. Lightning gulped as the Wingull trotted up to him. "Hey you. Where'd you get the light ball? Family heirloom?"
"The vol..." He caught himself, just barely. "The light ball?" He fumbled for words, staring at the volt charm. Team Retrievers, his last mission with Team Retrievers. No, that was just a story, right? "Um... maybe I stole it?" said the Pikachu tenatively
Bailey blinked. "Whoa there! Are you saying you're a thief?" laughed Rush, slapping Lightning's back just a tad too roughly. " That's kinda shady, don't ya think? But also cool in its own way, I guess!"
Insyte groaned. "Shut up, he's just messing with you," said Insyte, shoving the Marshtomp aside. The Pikachu shrank back from the Umbreon. "All right, very funny, kid. What're you hiding? Answer Bailey's question."
He tried not to sound nervous as Bailey and Insyte stared at him. He couldn't bring up those stories again! Not when they didn't believe them. Not when even he didn't believe them. "A... an Eevee gave it to me," choked out the Pikachu finally. "It was the last mis... the last time we saw each other."
Bailey's eyes narrowed. "Haha! Who's the Eevee, eh?" chuckled Rush, giving the Pikachu a friendly punch that made him wince. "Whoops. Anyway, she your girlfriend or something?"
At that moment, a flailing Slick tumbled off Leroy's back and into the water with a great splash. "Right, I'd better go check on the boy," sighed the Marshtomp, hurrying over to the bank. "On my way, Slick!"
Lightning stared as Rush dove into the water and paddled toward the spluttering, flailing trainer. Then, Bailey suddenly flew in front of his face, wings flapping and talons waving, startling him into dropping the volt charm. Catching the charm, Insyte tossed it up to Bailey.
"Good boy, Insyte," said the Wingull, landing on a low branch with the volt. Distressed, Lightning tried to grab it back, but couldn't reach. "Oh, calm down. We'll give it back in a second. Useless to us anyway."
Anxiously, the Pikachu waited as Bailey examined the light ball. What was the Wingull so fascinated about, anyway? Was it just because the volt charm was something rare? Rare or not, he really hoped he'd get it back.
Meanwhile, Rush and Leroy dragged a drenched Slick out of the river and onto the sunlit bank. "And here, we thought you were like a Meowth when it came to water," sighed Leroy, flopping down next to Slick as Shanala dried the boy off with her hot breath.
There was a pop of static, and Bailey gave a shrill cry. Catching his light ball as it fell, Lightning stared up at the Wingull, worried. Uh-oh. Was it his fault? "Ah! Sorry about that," said Lightning quickly. "Uh... what happened, exactly?"
Flapping to the ground, Bailey looked at Insyte grimly. Her feathers were sticking up, but somehow, she seemed otherwise unhurt. "You're not going to believe this," said the Wingull finally. "Hey, so, you rememberSektek
's stories? Did he ever talk about a volt charm...?"
The Pikachu froze. Did Bailey just call him Sektek? Not Lightning, but Sektek. His old name. "I... I don't really know anything about this light ball," admitted the Pikachu, looking down at the volt charm. "I... I know it might be valuable, but that's it. And I sometimes see electricity in there."
Insyte sighed. "Ever heard of the Spear Pillar?" asked the Umbreon, frowning at the Pikachu. Lightning shook his head. "No? Hmph. Everyone should know what that is. How about...'Temporal Tower'
The Pikachu froze.Temporal Tower.
Why? Why was he hearing that name again? Watching the Pikachu's reaction, Bailey nodded and glanced at Insyte. "You've got to be kidding me," muttered Insyte, clawing the ground. "This stupid brat! Bailey, you really think...?"
The Wingull spat on the ground. "Yeah, it seems pretty likely now," replied Bailey, dejected. She prodded Lightning. "Hey, you. You know all those stories you used to tell? About Treasure Town and Team Retrievers and... all that other stuff?"
The Pikachu nodded silently, feeling his heartbeat in his throat. The Wingull glanced away. "Well, uh... looks like they might've been more than just stories after all."
"Huh?" Lightning felt as if he was splashed with ice water. Where did this come from? No, no. They were stories. Not memories. They were blurred and filtered, like a distant dream. That's what everyone had been telling him all along. So he couldn't let himself believe in them anymore, right? "But... but-"
Insyte swatted the Pikachu on the head. "Don't gloat over this," warned the Umbreon. "We're sorry, all right? It's just, everything you said sounded it came out of a history book. But screw it, you probably can't read anyway."
Lightning stared back at them numbly. "The Spear Pillar is all that's left of a flying castle called Temporal Tower," explained Bailey. "Legends say it was almost destroyed about three thousand years ago, but was saved by a pair of heroes. Just like in your stories. It all matches up."
Temporal Tower. The tower that River and Saffron climbed on that fateful day. River and Saffron, Ilun and Elias. And Ilun... Ilun never came back.
"As for Treasure Town, it's probably the Canaan Ruins west of Olivine," mused Bailey thoughtfully. "The bay seems like the right shape, and those caves might've been a guild at one point..."
Insyte frowned at Bailey. "No way. That place? How do you explain the Sharpedo-shaped cliff, then?"
Bailey shrugged. "They say the cliff at the west side of town used to be several hundred feet longer. Maybe, there really once was a cliff shaped like that."
The Wingull described the ruins and the surrounding terrain. Slowly, Lightning's thoughts thawed as he listened. Yes, these ruins did sound a bit like the town from the Pikachu's memories... stories... memories.
"Don't get me wrong, it still doesn't make sense," muttered the Wingull. "You're just a kid. How could you have lived three thousand years ago?" She lifted her folded wings in a shrug. "But this world's full of strange, inexplicable things. Maybe this is just one more."
Lightning stared at the ground. The stories seemed so bizzare, so fantastic, so impossible to him now. How could they be real? "But, but I was just a little kid. Maybe I did imagine everything...?"
"Ugh, knock it off," said Bailey irritably. She nodded at the Pikachu's light ball. "Your light ball's the proof. It's not like a modern one. It's got a higher density, and the crystal structure's all different. They didn't call it a light ball, either. They called it a volt charm."
~ In the past ~
From the trailhead, Spark-Tail, Leaf-Light, and an Absol stared up towards the mountain ahead, their Team Retriever neckerchiefs blowing in the wind. Dry chaparral plants lined the arid slopes, as the hot sun beat down on their backs, and they shielded their eyes with their paws.
Four months since the red light in the skies. A crying Saffron had returned to town alone--without Elias, without Ilun, and without River. Bit by bit, piece by piece, she shared the harrowing tale of her journey. And so the town had mourned their lost heroes, until two weeks ago--when River turned up on the beach.
Sektek still remembered the shock when he and Leaf-Light heard about Ilun's death. The old Linoone had died like a hero, taking a fatal blow so that River and Saffron could fulfill their duty. But still he didn't understand why Ilun had to die. And anything that Sektek was feeling, it must be twice as horrible for Leaf-Light.
With both his wife Laurel and his partner Cory dead, Ilun had left his entire estate to Leaf-Light, who would inherit Team Retrievers when she became of age. In the meantime, Sir Tane would manage it in her stead. But the Eevee didn't care. She just wanted her father back.
"Well, well, this is it," said the Absol, turning back around to face the trio, reaching into his bag to pull out the job description. "All right, let's review. We're searching for a Nidorino, last spotted somewhere on this mountain. The reward's a volt charm." Smiling grimly, he nodded to each of them. "Let's do this, Team Retrievers!"
~ Back in the present ~
Sektek took a deep breath. There was quite a bit for him to absorb. To think that the others would accept the stories as memories, just when he'd started to accept the memories as stories. He wiped his eyes, and his paws came away wet. Why were his eyes watering?
Lying in the grass, he stared at Shanala and Rush by the water. Under the afternoon sun, Shanala and Rush looked like River and Saffron, playing on the beach. "Thanks, Bailey," said the Pikachu quietly. "So, um... how'd you... uh... know all this?"
The Wingull grinned. "I used to live near some archaeologist dig sites. I picked up a lot of information on this sort of thing." She spread her wings and hopped up into the air. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna check in with those dorks."
The Pikachu watched as Bailey flew over to Slick. The others all treated him like a kid, and he thought of himselfe as a kid. But it seemed he was thousands of years old. Thousands! He could barely wrap his head around a single year, let alone a thousand.
He'd been dreaming in darkness for three thousand years, but he couldn't remember what that felt like. Sektek took in his surroundings, the lush trees, the swaying grasses, the rolling waves, the glint of cyclists along the paved road overhead. The past didn't feel real anymore. Only this felt real.
Groaning, Insyte lifted his head and stared at Sektek. "Ugh, what is it?" said the Umbreon irritably. "You're still not happy? We were wrong. You were right. What more do you want from us?"
Startled, the Pikachu quickly shook his head. "No, it's- it's... something else," mumbled Sektek, staring off into the distance. "Well... I didn't really think about it too much... I mean, it feels strange... and... I guess I thought I knew everything back then. But... now that I think back, well... the past was scary."
Insyte closed his eyes. "Things always turn out that way," said the Umbreon bitterly, curling up into a ball.
Breathing deeply, Sektek stared into his light ball, muttering to himself. "But also... if I wasn't imagining those days, then... was Venvel real, too?"
TO BE CONTINUED