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Exquisite Corpse 2020: Ash Betrayal I

Negrek

Triple Cross
Staff
Our exquisite corpse writers have been hard at work behind the scenes, and now at last it's time to unveil the first Franken-fic to emerge! This is one of our two Ash Betrayal corpses, with contributed sections from the following authors:


The completed story appears below, and the author of each section is named under a spoiler tag so you can have fun trying to guess who wrote what part. Feel free to leave your comments or reactions in this thread!

Thanks to everyone who participated in this corpse. I hope you had fun writing your sections--judging by the wackiness that occurred, I think it's safe to say that you did! All that said, let's get to the good stuff!

Thousand Roads' Exquisite Corpse 2020
Ash Betrayal I

"Pika-pi!"

"Pikachu..."

Ashton Ketchum stood in the doorway, the light from the hall casting a pallid rectangle of illumination on the bedroom. His shadow partially blocked it, his spiky black hair and limbs stretching into grotesque silhouette against the bedsheets.

There was red everywhere.

Pikachu was covered in ketchup, ketchup bottles arranged in rows around the bed--Ash's bed--like a leering audience. There was a nearly-empty glass bottle discarded on the floor. Several of them, in fact.

Ash's stomach churned, the bile rising at the back of his throat like poison, like Arbok Acid.

"Pika-pi pi pi-ka-chu pi pi pi!" Pikachu said desperately. He leapt off the bed, slipping in the ketchup and setting red spatters clear across the room, not that you could really tell where the extra had landed.

The room was a warzone, like Ash's heart.

"Pi pi pikachu!"

"That's enough," Ash said. "We talked about this." Tears sprang to his eyes unbidden, and he whirled angrily, stalking away and down the hall.

Pikachu's protests followed him.

After everything... after everything they'd been through...

Pikachu had promised. He'd promised over and over that he was clean, that it was a thing of the past, a mistake, a dalliance. He'd never touch the stuff again.

And yet. The room, the bottles, the spatters...

Ketchup. Fuck ketchup.

Ash did vomit then, just making it to the washroom on time, heaving and leaving himself draped over the bowl afterward.

"Pika-pi!"

"Don't touch me!" Ash said furiously. "Pikachu... you... you promised." His voice broke.

Tears were streaming out of Pikachu's brown eyes, Krookodile tears. Ash knew how it went. How it would always go. Over and over and--

"I'm leaving, Pikachu," Ash hissed. "Don't follow me."

"Pika pika pi pika! Pika ka chu! Pipipi! Pika--"

Ash slammed the front door of the house.

After a hard walk down Route 1, the tears had dried on Ash's face, but there was a hole in his heart, eating him, dissolving his body down to sludge. He let the wind off the sea buffet him, thinking of the news of a new opportunity, a new region to visit, that he'd been excited to share with Pikachu. And... that. That had happened instead.

Ash found himself dialing Cynthia's number on his pokegear. The Sinnohnian champion had been promising her a Riolu, and Aura Training besides.

Keleri

----​

As the line rang and rang, Ash's stomach soured. Was she going to let him down too?

He was done waiting--he'd waited enough. Cynthia had told him once that he had an open invitation to visit anytime he liked, so he would take her up on that, right now. Flights weren't too expensive this time of year, and he had no reason to stay.

Throughout the flight to Undella Town, he was restless. It wasn't the cramped space or the man snoring next to him or the stale air but the waiting. Too much time to think. When the Unovan sun finally hit his face, his eyes were tried and his mouth was dry, but he felt a weight lift off his soul.

His feet knew the way from the times he'd walked these streets before. However, he wasn't far from the airport when his pokegear began to ring.

"Cynthia, hey." Ash kept his voice level, not wanting her to know how relieved he was that she hadn't abandoned him like the others.

"Hey, sorry I missed your call! Between the news outlets and the League, I've been running around like a wild pokemon. I've been meeting to get in touch though. I heard ...."

Ash cut in. "I'm in Undella Town."

"Oh!" She paused, and again Ash had to wonder how much he could really trust her. "That's a surprise!"

"I was thinking now would be a good time for that Aura training we'd talked about."

"Well now is sort of ...." She sighed. "Why don't you just come over? We can get takeout and talk."

When Cynthia opened the door for Ash, she greeted him and smiled, but seemed it ... off. "I wanted to wait for you before I ordered. Do you like dim sum?"

"Sure ...." He dragged the word out, watching her face. "Is this a bad time? I could go if that's what you want." A challenge.

"No, no, it's fine! You'll just have to excuse the mess. The League has given me so much paperwork to get through lately."

Her kitchen table was covered in papers. She shoveled some of them out of the way, adding one stack to another, so that two spaces were clear for them to sit and eat. While she called in the order--steamed buns, potstickers, fried rice and spring rolls--he sat at the table and waited. He looked around at the handtowels printed with flowers and the new coat of paint on the walls. Cynthia twirled a pen in her hand as she spoke. She was't even wearing her belt. This is who she was now, he realized. He felt tense and trapped in Cynthia's kitched as much as he had on the plane. Cynthia was still talking to him, at least, but it was clear he couldn't count on her to fulfill her promise.

He'd have to get stronger on his own.

As he sat there, he looked up and caught the gaze of Cynthia's lucario, watching from the doorway into the hall. In that gaze, he saw boredom and frustration that mirrored his own. And a burning desire to grow strong again. Maybe, Ash thought, he wasn't alone after all.

OldSchoolJohto

----​

Except he was alone. The bus stop never asked for people to sit at it, after all. Ash distinctly recalled that a marill that had tried to take a rest on one of its seats had been unceremoniously yeeted into the woods across the street. It seemed to tolerate Ash - maybe because he was waiting for the bus?

Oh well. Ash pulled out his pokedex, flicking through what were now his only options. Contacts of all his friends that he had travelled with over the years – years? Wasn’t he still ten? Ashe blinked, returning to the studying of his pokedex. It was strange: no matter what he did, he never could seem to hit the call button. It almost felt like a dream. Ashe tried to press the button over and over. His finger managed to miss the button every time. He just wanted to call Misty. Come on…

The gengar that had been the bus stop all along stopped being the bus stop and began to play with Ashes cap. Ashes looked up. He dropped his pokedex in surprise, but it disappeared before it could hit the ground. Ashes jumped off the thin air he had been sitting on, and he tried to kjhferwdculigue

He trIed to dtzsildvfip

Wslfjkl’PuekaWhlbiy;v

APuekaWwge

KhWoNug

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UPleHouh

PsfgrEmpleHsuffbg9

The pristine white walls of a hospital room. Ash was conscious for only a second.

Asduhgs;oeaptigafpiweyfpa[‘idsfva;se9’yovaerifyweg[‘F;sdgfiuwtrpPeeeeeeelS9wegfsgvc;/osaugsd;fgagsiygdsi;yf;asigdfg0---

The bus stop formed again, the scenery around Ash stabilizing. Confused at the sudden dizzy spell that he had gone through, Ash picked up his pokedex again. A marill walked down the path and sat on the bench. When Ash looked a second time, it was Pikachu instead. Ash smirked, lovingly rubbing Pikachu on the head. He had his old buddy back. And a burning desire to grow strong again. Maybe, Ash thought, he wasn't alone after all.

SparklingEspeon

----​

Or so he had thought at first. The Pikachu beside him evaporated to bubbles, along with all the other pokemon around him.

"What the—Oh, sweet cabbages!" Ash dropped down unconscious before he could utter another word. Perhaps eating random mushrooms in the forest wasn't the best idea.

When Ash came to, he found himself atop a sturdy bed in a white room. The walls were completely sterile and there were no windows.

"Huh?" Ash asked. He tried to sit up, but then he noticed he wasn't alone in the room.

In front of his bed sat a woman on a stool. Her skin, hair and long sparse dress blended in with the room. It was almost hard to see her body's outlines. She stared at him with her deep red eyes with a smirk.

"Um, who are you?" Ash asked, clenching the bed frame.

"Hello Ash Ketchum."

"How do you know my name?" A cold sweat ran down his cheek.

"Do you recall what happened to you? You were driven away by your friends and family and died in a forest after eating mushrooms," she said.

"Well yeah, I know that. I was there."

"Even though you've always helped people, everyone you knew suddenly turned their backs on you in a ruthless manner."

"Wait how do you know about this? You weren't there!"

The woman began to laugh. A little at first, but then it grew to a maniacal cackle.

"So you've seen right through me!" She put a hand over her face and pulled off her disguise to reveal a man wearing a black suit and a professional looking hairdo. "It was I, Giovanni Giovanni!"

"Impossible! Then this whole thing—"

"Indeed, it was all a ploy to isolate you to exact my revenge!"

"What?! None of this makes any sense!" Ash yelled at the top of his lungs.

Adamhuarts

----​

He stared at his friend’s face, trying to make sense of what was happening. It seemed different—colder, harder, as if carved from the stone of a very old tomb.

A tomb ... Ash felt like his mind was trying to tell him something. Too bad he wasn’t so good at listening. Hang on. The air felt different too, but in a familiar way. Thick and electric and somehow purple.

Ash shook his head, taking a step back. He remembered ... something. A tightness that had clamped down on his mind like a squeezing hand and twisted. An anger that made his blood rage and shout, but it hadn’t been his own anger. And there had been a coldness, an icy burn beneath each rippling wave of anger. That coldness had looked out from his eyes and turned friends into enemies. Turned the whole world into a battlefield, in which the only life that had value was his own.

“You!” Ash shouted.

Malice sparkled in the eyes that watched him back. “So you remember me, Ash Ketchum?”

“We sealed you away!”

The ghost-king laughed. “Oh, you certainly tried. But I hid a part of myself deep inside you, and there I slumbered. You make a poor host, however. Your anger is a fleeting thing, sparks that die in the open air. My anger is an inferno. One day even Ho-oh will burn it in, and she will scream as my people screamed when she seared their bodies away.” Its hands clenched into fists. “Yes, I will get my revenge on her. But first I will get my revenge on you, Ash Ketchum.”

And the King of Pokelantis smiled.

Pen

----​

Ashura Ketchum formed a blade made of aura on his arm and charged the King of Pokelantis, Ash Ketchum. King Ash jumped away and threw out his pokéballs, releasing all his Pokémon. Ashura growled and fought them back with blasts of aura.

“You coward!” Ashura shouted. “You couldn’t even get revenge by yourself. You had to be possessed by the spirit of the King of Pokelantis to find justice!”

“I’m the King of Pokelantis now, and everything else. Go back to your own world – this place is mine!”

Ashura sneered and lunged, knocking away King Ash’s Sceptile. Then, suddenly, a burst of lightning split into the room, striking near where King Ash stood.

“None of you deserve revenge as much as I,” said the newcomer, another Ash. “None of you have suffered as I have.” This Ash sparkled with electricity… Before, he and Pikachu had been captured by Team Rocket, but his friends never tried to rescue them. Instead, he endured excruciating experiments where he was combined with Pikachu, giving him Electric powers.

“Not another one,” Ashura said. “Bah, no matter. I will get revenge on you both!”

The fight resumed; Ashura using his aura, Pika-Ash throwing Thunderbolts, and the King of Pokelantis commanding his Pokémon. King Ash sent his Pokémon on Pika-Ash, but Pika-Ash fainted them with a powerful bolt of electricity. King Ash was caught in the aftermath. He fell; Pika-Ash advanced, then Ashura struck them both from behind, smacking them against the wall.

“Finally!” Ashura said. A ball of aura swirled in his hand. “Revenge!”

“No, stop!” a voice cried. A great boom sounded overhead, and the wall broke open. Arceus, creator of the worlds, jumped in, bearing a rider on his back. The rider dismounted, running toward the Ashes.

“Ugh, I know this guy,” Pika-Ash said. “He’s the one who brought me to this world.”

King Ash struggled to his feet. “How dare you invade my domain? Prepare to meet justice!”

You.” Ashura turned. “What are you doing here? We all know you don’t want revenge, Red.”

“Please, you all are making a mistake,” Red said.

Ashura spat. “I hate this guy. Revenge was in his hands, then he threw it all away.” He looked toward the others. “Want to gang up on him?”

The two other Ashes rose and nodded.

“No,” Red said. “I’ve traveled the dimensions seeking a way to fix what I did to my own friends after I thought they betrayed me. In doing so I discovered a secret, the hidden truth of all our worlds. Don’t you wonder why all our loved ones suddenly betrayed us? Why it didn’t seem to make sense? Well, now I know why.”

He stepped forward. “All of this is a dream, and has been for a long time. None of this is real – we’re in a coma! Our friends betrayed us because it’s time to reject this fantasy and wake up.”

The other Ashes faltered. “N-Nonsense,” the King of Pokelantis said. “This… this cannot be true.”

“I’m sorry, but it is.” Out of nowhere, Delia appeared on the battlefield. She bore a sorrowful expression on her face.

“Mom!” cried Pika-Ash. “But Team Rocket – they killed you to get to me.”

“I’m okay,” Delia said, “but I’m not actually your mother. Your real mother is waiting for you on the other side. Please, she misses you.”

Ashura looked from King Ash to Pika-Ash. “You guys can’t be believing this.”

Pika-Ash stared wistfully at Delia, not seeming to hear. The King of Pokelantis looked down. “I… I always wondered. Maybe… we should hear Red out.”

Ashura was taken aback, then his face formed a twisted sneer. “I always knew you weren’t committed. You don’t deserve revenge!”

Ashura lunged and formed an aura blade on his arm. King Ash didn’t have time enough to react. He stumbled backward, but Ashura slashed him across the chest. The King of Pokelantis fell to the ground, bleeding out. Pika-Ash started, but Ashura flung himself at him too. Ashura cut Pika-Ash’s throat.

“You betrayed me too!” Ashura screamed at Delia. He swung his aura blade into her. She shattered into shards of light, but she just reformed in a different location.

The room filled with all of Ash’s friends – Brock, Misty, May, Dawn, and everyone else. “We’re sorry,” Ash’s friends said. “Please, forgive us and wake up.”

“Never!” screamed Ashura. He slashed at his friends, but couldn’t actually cut them.

“Please, Ash,” Red said. “I know revenge is tantalizing, but it’s not the only way. Our friends hurt us, but they only meant to help. It’s hard, but you need to forgive them and move on.”

Ashura panted. He turned. “If I can’t get revenge on them –“ he looked at Red “– then I’ll just get revenge on you.”

Red’s eyes widened, but his Arceus protected him from Ashura’s first attack. Arceus fought against Ashura, but rage powered his aura. Arceus went down. Red sent out his other Pokémon – all Legendaries – in desperation.

“I’ll kill you,” Ashura shouted, “like I killed the other Ashes. Then revenge will be mine!”

“You didn’t get revenge on anyone except yourself, Ashura,” Red said. “Pika-Ash and King Ash and you and I are all aspects of the same person. We are all Ash. You only hurt yourself.”

Ashura’s eyes widened. He roared, redoubling his effort.

Red continued, “I was once like you, but even though things will never be the same, we can still move on. I realized I could move on from my hatred, and Pika-Ash and King Ash were beginning to realize too. We felt regret, which means you do too.”

“No, never!” cried Ashura, but he paused, halting the battle.

Red shook his head. “I got revenge on my world, Ashura, but it wasn’t what I really wanted. I know it isn’t what you want either.” He hesitated briefly, then recalled his Pokémon. He threw his pokéballs to the ground.

He walked toward Ashura. “Here, take my hand and we can move on. Together.”

Ashura hesitated. He looked at his friends around him. They pleaded with him, acknowledging that they caused harm but that they were sorry. Could it be true? Could this all be fake? Maybe… maybe his real friends were waiting for him, in a world beyond this one.

Ashura looked toward Red. Red got revenge, then rejected it. Ashura imagined a world where his friends were completely gone, washed away in a blaze of vengeance. Would he really want to live in a world like that?

In the end, there was only one thing Ashura could do. To his friends, Ashura whispered, “I’m sorry. He took Red’s hand. Red smiled. In forgiving his friends, Ash had finally forgiven himself.

Red and Ashura burst into light, as did the bodies of King Ash and Pika-Ash. The light combined together, and Ash shot toward the sky, toward a whole new adventure.

Equitia
[/spoiler[
 
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Phoenixsong

the world's scariest violinist
Partners
  1. custom/skiddo-steplively
  2. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong2
  3. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong3
  4. custom/skiddo-iametrine
every time the ash in a coma theory is mentioned take a drink—

Chef's kiss. Magnifique. If only all the Ash Betrayal fics in the world included ketchup relapses and marill yeeting, then perhaps I could take them seriously. Beautifully done, all of you.

(I think you accidentally credited Pen twice, and one of the two should probably be OSJ since I don't see her credit anywhere?)
 

RisingDawn

Snommunism!
Location
Pakistan
Pronouns
He/Him
......There are no amount of words that can describe this beautiful piece of art. This thing is a paradox. A good betrayel fic is something I thought can never exist. Good job on this
 
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