Diamond 112: Give me Future
Diamond 112: Give me Future
The situation was not looking good at the moving fortress' control room. The Iron Masked Marauder had managed to make his way past the fortress' defenses and entered the secured room. Mewtwo used his teleportation to get the Iron Masked Marauder and himself past the door, it was reduced to short range, but it was just enough.
Giovanni released his pokemon into the large control room; they joined the two Persian who were always outside of their pokeballs. Delia followed the same course of action, as did the executives. The room was soon crowded with many different pokemon. Giovanni's two Persian, Golem, Rhyperior, Machamp, Flygon and Garchomp. Delia's Cloyster, Kingler, Mimey and Oddish; she deemed Swablu too young and untrained to join this fierce battle. Ash's Pikachu also joined the fight. Archer's Houndoom and Aggron. Ariana's Honchkrow and Weavile. Proton's Crobat and Salamence. Petrel's Smeargle and Mothim. They were quickly instructed by their trainers to follow Giovanni's lead.
"Everyone tackle, don't let them get away!" Giovanni commanded. The massive array of pokemon charged at Mewtwo and the Iron Masked Marauder, but were stopped by the legendary's psychic powers. "Use your strongest attacks; fill this rooms with beams, electricity, fire, all you have!" If they were going to stand any fighting chance at all, it had to be fast and sudden.
The pokemon were quick to obey in a massive display of power. The trainers got caught in it too, but they made no sounds of complaint, it couldn't be helped. The controls of the fortress were exposed to the release of energy and sparked hazardously, but the adversary was far more dangerous. Mewtwo's power created a massive pulsating energy wave that sent the attacks right back to their origin, knocking out most of the pokemon. The legendary was fighting more fiercely, as if his mind was further lost. Pikachu and Purry, struggled to get up and attack making one final attempt of resistance. They released the last of their energy in the shape of a Thunder and Power Gem attacks respectively. It looked as if it didn't make much of a difference, but the overall sum of the attacks was slowly taking effect.
All of a sudden, the soft ringing sound returned with the intensity of the satellite beam. The Marauder noticed, but his confidence didn't fail him. "It's too late, not even your entire army can stand up to me and once you're dead, it will be my army."
"Team Rocket will never follow you!" Giovanni stood ready to face whatever the Marauder had in store for him. Without his command, the Rocket agents present jumped to the front lines, this included Jessie, James, Comet and Pixel.
"Prepare for trouble!" Jessie shouted.
"Make it double!" James continued.
"We'll save the boss and reduce you to rubble!" Meowth joined Jessie and James for the last line. He was still hurt, but insisted on tagging along instead of resting back at the infirmary with their other pokemon.
"Insignificant fools!" The Marauder glared at the Rockets who were all so loyal to Giovanni. "Mewtwo, show them all true pain, all but Giovanni, let him witness it clearly before he joins them in an even worse torture!" Mewtwo was scratched and bruised all over. His movements where twitchy and his breaths heavy, yet the Marauder kept pushing him, not realizing that even a legendary pokemon wasn't indestructible.
A few attacks couldn't do much on their on, but it was all piling up. "You're the fool, not even Mewtwo will survive much more of this," Giovanni retorted.
The psychic raised his paw, with a light blue glow around him. The same glow enveloped Jessie, James, Comet, Pixel, Archer, Ariana, Proton, Petrel and even Gary and Delia. Though nothing was physically touching them, they felt as if they were being ripped apart.
"Delia!" Giovanni held her, trying to break her free from Mewtwo's psychic grip, but there was nothing he could do about it.
"Who is the true leader of the Rockets? Say it!" The Marauder commanded.
"Giovanni..." Archer replied with a lot of difficulty and a defiant look.
The Marauder observed all their faces, the Rockets all held the same unbreakable determination. "It doesn't matter what you say," he growled. "The others will submit to me, the majority will follow me and those who don't will die along with their leader. Mewtwo, attack!"
The glow around Jessie, James, Comet, Pixel, Archer, Ariana, Proton, Petrel, Gary and Delia became brighter than broke into lightning. All ten of them fell motionless to the floor, albeit they were still conscious, their bodies were prevented from movement by Mewtwo's psychic power. The legendary floated towards Giovanni who gently placed Delia behind him and faced Team Rocket's greatest creation. The Rocket leader desperately tried to fight back, emptying his gun of all it's bullets half at the Marauder and half at Mewtwo, they had no effect what so ever on either of them. He then prepared to fight back with his bare hands; he wasn't going to give up until his final breath was extinguished. Unfortunately he didn't get the chance to do anything before Mewtwo's psychic power surrounded him, making him unable to move. The pain was unbearable, but Giovanni refused to give up. Yet the only thing he could do was glare defiantly at the Iron Masked Marauder, who stood triumphantly behind Mewtwo.
xoxox xox xoxox
Ash was still connected to the machine and thus the PorygonZ. "They'll be killed if this doesn't stop," Diamond spoke to Ash through the connection they currently shared.
"We're trying to stop this, but that pokemon is too powerful. At the same time, he's in pain, we can hear him crying on the inside," Sapphire elaborated.
The mental images of the other PorygonZ surrounded Ash, looking to him for guidance. "Don't give up," Ash struggled not to sound tired so as to not discourage them. "Keep trying, I'll go over there too, you'll be fine fighting from here. Direct me to Mewtwo."
The PorygonZ complied and allowed the connection to Ash to be projected through the invisible beam they aimed at Mewtwo. The connection process was very painful, showing how tormented the legendary pokemon was in his subconscious. The scene changed and Ash was no longer in the outer space-like scenario. The place looked certainly endless and dark, but it lacked the points of light from before. There was instead a single dim glow in the distance that Ash hurried towards. "Mewtwo!" He called out through their link.
The faint glow took shape into the form of Mewtwo, but he looked much younger, like a frightened newly hatched pokemon. "I can't wake up," he whimpered. "It hurts so much, I don't know what's happening, I can't wake up. Who are you? Why are you here? Your energy... it's not bad."
The pain reflected in Mewtwo's frightened purple eyes was terribly deep and desperate. He longed to disappear if only to end it. Ash was shocked by the sight, he knew that Mewtwo was not doing well, but the emotions around him were simply too strong. Ash hugged the image of the young pokemon. "It's going to be okay, I'll help you wake up."
"How can you?" The small Mewtwo asked. "There are others out there. They are being hurt by some terrible creatures, I can feel it. They're all around, shapeless and dark, evil. There's a voice telling me what to do, it's commanding me to attack the creatures. Forget about me, please help them. I'm weak; I can't beat him, the leader of the creatures. He scares me!"
"Is that what you're sensing?" It was no doubt part of the brainwashing. "That's not the way things are. That voice is bad, don't listen to it, don't fight. Your friends will be safe, I'll make sure of it. You have to stop listening to that voice, stop fighting!"
"Friends?" Mewtwo repeated unsure. "I have friends? I can't remember... My friends..." Ash felt his energy fading away. He was trying to support Mewtwo's true self so that he could wake up and regain control of his body, but his mind seemed to be too far gone. Was this truly the point of no return for Mewtwo?
A pink light appeared in the distance, piercing the endless darkness, a high pitch voice called out, "mew!" The form of Mew appeared before the young Mewtwo and Ash, "mew..." The pink legendary joined them in a group hug, releasing a soft calming glow. Then they heard the melodious psychic voice of Mew, "this trance feeds on malice, hatred and anger. Don't give into those emotions, don't think of the pain. Think of the good things of life, let go, forgive, think of peace..."
xoxox xox xoxox
At the control room, the Iron Masked Marauder was sure of his victory. He still didn't doubt it when the glow around Mewtwo began to diminish. The legendary's soulless eyes changed and were once again full of life, a brilliant endless violet. For a split second his eyes focused, he saw the leader of Team Rocket, a man he couldn't bring himself to fully forgive, but have come close enough not to seek vengeance, allowing himself to let go of the leftover anger in his heart. Mewtwo was filled with regret and uncertainty, though he tried to maintain a grip on hope and think about what was precious to him. He didn't know what would happen now, he didn't know if he would survive, he didn't know if he wanted to survive, then he collapsed.
xoxox xox xoxox
The young Mewtwo had faded away from the psychic space were Ash and Mew were. Ash was weak from the entire ordeal and felt as if he would fade into nothingness. "Mew!" Mew's soft glow surrounded the young man, shielding him from the grave danger that exhaustion signified without properly disconnecting his mind from the machine. Ash heard Misty's voice calling his name as Mew carried him in a warm light. He smiled peacefully; he knew that everything would be alright, the battle had ended. He listened to Misty's voice, allowing himself to relax thinking of her.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was the morning of a new day by the time Ash finally woke up. He slowly opened his eyes to find himself in a room he had seen few times before. His disoriented mind couldn't place were he was, thus he mumbled, where am I?" His voice was groggy with the remnants of a deep slumber.
"Ash!" Misty had been nodding off next to Ash. She became fully alert when she realized he was awake. "You're in a guest room at the Viridian Gym." She gently caressed his face, relieved that his previous fever was completely gone. "The doctors said you weren't seriously hurt. They said you were only exhausted and would recover after sleeping for a few hours." Misty didn't want to admit it, but in the back of her mind she feared that Ash would fall into a coma worse than Sabrina's and not wake up for a long time, if at all. Every time such a possibility surfaced in her mind, she would push it away and tell herself she had to have faith and believe Ash would be okay.
"Pikapi!" Pikachu had received medical attention, but refused to stay away from Ash, so Misty took him to his trainer. The small yellow pokemon had been sleeping next to Ash for several hours.
"It's good to see you too," Ash petted his long time pokemon companion and gave Misty a reassuring smile. "I'm okay, a bit sore, but I'm sure it's nothing serious. How is everyone? Mom, dad, Gary, the pokemon and everyone are okay, right? What happened to Mewtwo and Mew?"
"Mew?" Misty questioned with a perplexed look. "I didn't see Mew and no one has mentioned anything about Mew.
"Coming and going so quickly, showing up suddenly and leaving without a trace, that sounds just like Mew," Ash breathed.
"The others are okay," Misty assured. "The pokemon are resting and recovering. Gary is staying with them supervising everything. He said he didn't quite trust Laiki and her team of Rocket medics to do the job, though they have been effective. Gary and Laiki have been bickering the entire time... or bickering and flirting in her case. She just doesn't know when to give up, even if she claims she won't do anything to Gary because Delia told her not to." Misty's expression went from light and relieved to concerned. "Mewtwo is the one who's worse off. His injuries were pretty bad and he had to be taken into intensive care. I heard that he was supposed to have been physically stabilized, but somehow, his life is still hanging by a thread, as if his own psychic power is working against him. Your father has a large team of experts working on keeping him alive." That was all that could be done for the time being. The issue of Mewtwo's freedom would be addressed later.
Ash frowned, "poor Mewtwo, he must be feeling guilty because of what the Iron Masked Marauder made him do. Even if he wasn't conscious of his actions he must have sensed the pain and assumed the worse." Ash paused solemnly, his expression sad. "I still don't know how many pokemon fell in battle. Of all the trainers who had their pokemon at the Oak laboratory, I know I'm not the one with the biggest loss. I know most of mine were strong enough to survive, but that doesn't make it any less painful. All of this because of the Marauder..." Anger flashed through Ash's face in a fierce expression similar to the one Giovanni had when facing the Iron Masked Marauder.
"The Marauder is just barely alive. I'm pretty sure they're only keeping him alive to get information out of him later." Misty revealed. "Delia witnessed the whole thing and told me all about it. After Mewtwo was freed from the mind control he collapsed, weak and exhausted. Once Giovanni was free of the psychic hold and the Iron Masked Marauder was unprotected, Giovanni pounded him to a bloody puddle. I actually saw him when he was being taken away in critical condition. He was an unrecognizable blob; I'm pretty sure every bone in his body was broken."
"As cruel as this may sound, I don't feel sorry for him," Ash admitted. "Given all the terrible things the Marauded did, I would have probably reacted in the same way." Ash sat up slowly, to avoid having dizziness rush to his head.
Misty saw the action and protested. "You can't get up so soon, stay here and rest. I'll let your parents know that you're awake, they've been coming over to check on you every hour or so."
"That's all the more reason not to lay around worrying everyone. Besides, I really want to visit the pokemon and Mewtwo. I need to see him," Ash was determined and Misty knew he wouldn't change his mind.
"Alright, but try to take it easy." Misty watched as her fiance slowly got up as if testing his body to have the strength to stay on his feet. He felt tired, but it was nothing alarming.
The couple was heading to the door when it suddenly burst open with Brock, Lily, Violet and Daisy running in followed by Kenobi and Lando, the last two moving at a more civilized pace. "Ash!" Brock threw his arms around his dear friend, being joined in the same action by Misty's sisters, who dragged their youngest sibling into the group hug along with them.
Ash was being suffocated together with Pikachu on his shoulders. To avoid being squished with his trainer, the electric pokemon shocked all those around them. The electricity wasn't too harsh, but it was just enough to remind them of the concept of personal space. With a collective "ow," they backed away to give them some breathing room.
Delia and Giovanni had paused at the door for a moment, watching as the others rushed in. Delia finally walked inside and examined her son with a look of relief. "I'm so glad you're awake!" She hugged him gently, so as to not knock the air out of his lungs like the others before.
"I was so worry!" Brock dramatized, in as much of an emotional state as Misty's sisters. "When we heard about the nuclear plant in the news, we rushed over here even if they advised people to stay away. They said that all of Pallet Town was destroyed by the explosion," he grieved.
Ash blinked in utter confusion, "nuclear... what?" To the best of his knowledge, there were no nuclear plants or generators in Pallet Town, or Kanto for that matter. He had only heard about the ones in Unova.
"I take it there's more to this than what the media is spreading," Lando theorized aloud. He glanced almost shyly at Giovanni, wondering if it was okay for him to ask. "May I inquire?"
"You can inquire what you must from the executives. There's much to be done and we'll need supplies," Giovanni replied somewhat tiredly from not having slept at all for along time.
Petrel appeared at the door and announced, "it's time to get this show on the road. The press wants a word with you two," he motioned towards Lando and Kenobi, his eyes pausing on the young Antilles. "If you don't get out there, your father will have to speak to the press instead."
Giovanni's expression showed discomfort at that possibility, "go, now."
"Yes, right away!" Kenobi glanced at Violet as if excusing himself with his eyes and swiftly left to face the press.
"Right... supplies and the press," Lando nodded unsure, he was still getting used to his new role.
"I'll explain things," Petrel offered, "now let's go!"
With Petrel, Lando and Kenobi gone, Ash looked at his parents, searching for an explanation, joined in the curious look by Misty. "Some nuclear research was being conducted illegally at Pallet Town by a company with headquarters at Unova," Giovanni explained. It was a company that stood in the way of his energy source secret monopoly in Unova, but not for long. "Unfortunately, there was an accident that caused an explosion, which led to a chain reaction."
"The effects on Pallet Town were devastating," Delia continued, "but the gym leader and mayor from Viridian City are doing everything they can to help. As for the presence of several vessels that seemingly disappeared into the forest. It's all part of Viridian City's help efforts. The roads were closed off and there were actually pretty few witnesses. The Pallet Town survivors were given some therapy with the help of psychic pokemon," which might involve forgetting a few things or interpreting them differently. "At least the situation is under control now and Pallet Town will be rebuilt."
"That's quite the story..." Ash tried to let it all sink in. The world would still be unaware of Mewtwo, yet would they all believe the excuses? "Will it work?"
"Some have no doubt already figured out the truth," Giovanni admitted. "But when the 'official' version is so well backed they will have trouble spreading their own interpretation. People tend to let go of things in time, the majority does anyway. As for those who don't, we'll deal with them in a case by case basis."
"I see, so there might be some more allies..." Ash wasn't sure if treating each case separately meant extending an invitation to join Team Rocket to those who proved smart and determined enough to uncover the truth, but it could be a possibility.
"The truth?" Daisy repeated perplexed.
"It almost sounds as if what was on the news wasn't..." Violet fell silent as realization overtook the three oldest Waterflower sisters.
"This is all something related to Team Rocket?" Lily dared to voice.
"A battle against an enemy of Team Rocket, who has already been defeated." Giovanni explained, hinting with his casual expression that he wasn't going to elaborate further.
Ariana arrived, pausing at the door and looking in. "I'm ready for the virtual conference. All the gym leaders have been contacted and Archer is already in a long distance meeting with the government officials. Will you be joining us?"
"You can handle it," Giovanni decided to leave the remaining tasks to the executives. Everything was set up already and he had previously discussed the details with them.
"No problem," Ariana nodded and observed Giovanni and Delia's tired faces. "Get some rest, both of you, leave the rest to us. Daisy, Violet, Lily and Misty Waterflower, I'll need you to come with me to the virtual conference with the other gym leaders. It shouldn't take more than an hour or two."
Still a bit confused by the situation, the elder Waterflowers followed Ariana. Misty looked back at Ash with a reassuring smile, "see you soon."
"Yeah, see ya," Ash looked at the confused Brock, who seemed to know the least about what was going on. In the end it was decided that Brock could be included as an ally due to his connections to Ash and the Kanto gyms. "Go on, ask if you can tag along too, but make sure not to say too much." Ash looked at his father, searching for confirmation.
"Fine..." Giovanni allowed it. The importance of not angering Team Rocket had already been clearly established.
"Oh... um... right..." Brock went out of the room to catch up with Ariana and the Waterflowers.
A short moment of silence passed as Ash was alone with his parents, aside from Pikachu and the two Persian that followed Giovanni. "Can I see Mewtwo?" He cut to the chase and asked what he so badly wanted to ask, though his voice came out with an almost shy tone to it.
Giovanni examined Ash's expression; it was a mix of hope and worry. "You can, but he's currently in a coma."
"Even so, I want to see him," Ash insisted.
xoxox xox xoxox
The room where Mewtwo was kept was understandably of maximum security. Even if Mewtwo was injured, a legendary was not to be underestimated, plus any unauthorized personnel had to be effectively kept out. The place was deep underground, which required several elevators, keycards and codes to reach. The room was spacious, but seemed cluttered with so many supplies, machines and people. Binks was there, with Aayla observing the procedures as he worked with several other scientists to try to better Mewtwo's condition.
The scientists opened a path as they saw the boss, the lady and their son approach. Ash looked at Mewtwo's still form as he lay in bed. He had many wires and needles attached to him and a glowing collar around his neck. The legendary had an expression of pain constantly on his face. "Mewtwo..." Ash gently whispered and placed his hand on top of Mewtwo's paw. The second his fingers made contact the entire world around him appeared to freeze. "Mewtwo?" Ash called again, but his voice remained unheard, he could only speak through the psychic link that Mewtwo had opened. Ash appeared to be motionless with his eyes closed to everyone else.
"I am here," Mewtwo's psychic voice replied and a ghostly image of the legendary appeared before Ash, floating above his battered body. "I have no true recollection of the events that have recently passed, but there was pain and I somehow know you helped me overcome it. My brother was there as well," he referred to Mew. "He contacted me through a psychic link and offered to take me to safety, but I didn't have the will to leave. I told him that I would wait so that I could speak to you. Mew won't tell me of what I did while I was not myself. I knew you would come and in my state, I couldn't be used for anymore evil while I waited. Please tell me, what happened?"
Ash took a deep breath and tried to organize his thoughts. "The Iron Masked Marauder did some terrible things," he stated with all certainty. "You didn't do anything bad. You were hurt by the Marauder like the others. You're innocent; you have nothing to feel guilty for! You said you could open the door to a journey without limits. If you can do that, then go. Go where you can live in peace, you shouldn't have to leave, but maybe later you can come back and you won't have to hide."
"Maybe that day will come..." Mewtwo's image began to fade. "I still feel that I owe the world a great debt for the pain I was forced to cause. When the day comes that I no longer need to hide, I will openly repay my debt. I will search for that day, for the bright future, even if it has to be born out of darkness..."
Ash opened his eyes, no longer connected to Mewtwo's psychic link. The legendary's face seemed a little more at ease now. "Rest and recover Mewtwo, then one day you will find a bright future, I promise."
Several hours later, after Ash had already left Mewtwo's room, all those present there at the time were rendered unconscious with a heavy sleep. The PorygonZ were recovering from the strain of the confrontation with Mewtwo and their newfound emotions. At the same time they had to handle the information processing, spreading and monitoring in relation to the recent happenings to influence the public's interpretation with the various outlets of the media.
The beam that blocked teleportation power was not at work. Precautions were taken with a collar containing micro-technology that would prevent teleportation being placed on Mewtwo. Mew made his way in and out with some fast teleportation. He freed Mewtwo of his confines and took him away. There was also another in Mew's company caught by the security cameras as they disappeared.
xoxox xox xoxox
The above ground gym area was filled with refugees, survivors of Pallet Town, who were being tended to by the gym personnel, Rockets in disguise. They would be given places to stay in the city until Pallet Town was rebuilt. When Giovanni was given the news about Mewtwo's escape, he was, as expected, very angry about it. Even so, he still had to make an appearance for people to see him and be further reassured that they could count on the city's gym leader. After that was over, Giovanni glanced at Ash, as if calling him. The Indigo champion had been helping out and trying to keep everyone calm and relatively optimistic while Brock, Misty and the Waterflowers were still busy with their meeting.
Excusing himself casually, Ash followed Giovanni to the office upstairs, away from the noisy crowds at the gym. The door was shut to prevent interruptions and Ash knew the topic of conversation would be Mewtwo, though he had not yet heard that Mewtwo was gone. Giovanni opened a video file on the computer on his desk, still without a word. He turned the flat screen over for Ash to see it. The video was in slow motion with small numbers on the bottom right showing the rate to which it was slowed and on the bottom left there was the date and time. Mew appeared with Celebi and then they and Mewtwo were gone.
Ash gasped in surprise, he wasn't expecting Mewtwo to leave so soon. He thought the legendary would stay and recover in the Team Rocket facilities for a while before agreeing to Mew's escape plan. He must have not wanted to be there any longer, possibly seeing it as an unneeded risk after having his final conversation with Ash. "I didn't think he would leave so soon."
"You did know that he was leaving," Giovanni stated with a serious expression. Ash kept his eyes on the screen, unable to look up from it. They were at that disagreement again. "I also knew an escape attempt would come," Giovanni admitted. "What I wasn't expecting was for Mew and Celebi to be there."
Ash remembered Mewtwo's words and finally looked up from the screen, revealing his conclusion. "Mewtwo has gone to search for a bright future. He must have learned how to time travel from Celebi. They're gone; I don't think they'll come back to this place, to this era... I'm sorry I didn't mention seeing Mew, I didn't know what Mewtwo would do, but I did know that Mew was watching him with psychic powers. The combined power of Mew and Mewtwo would have been too much for the beam from the satellite, more so if they also had Celebi, even if it had been activated." Giovanni's expression was unreadable and it worried Ash. "Are you angry at me? Disappointed?"
"I didn't expect you to reveal what you knew," though Giovanni's voice was neutral and even, the words bothered Ash.
"That's not how it should be," Ash argued, "that's not what I want. You can count on me, we disagreed on this, but I'm sure there are things we agree on. I want to help; I want to do something that will be useful to you, something to make you proud! Please, don't think of me as someone you can't count on!" Ash had that fiery determination again, the stubborn resolution that reminded Giovanni of himself, albeit it was in a different context.
"I might keep that in mind," Giovanni voiced. The conversation was left in that, as Giovanni was busy with Team Rocket business.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, at one of the long hallways of the Viridian Rocket headquarters. "Somehow, I don't believe you're lost." When some people wonder around one could assume they lost their way. However, there were some that always seemed to know where they were going, even when they were not yet sure where they stood.
Ash snapped out of his thoughts and noticed that Comet was there, having arrived seconds earlier, emerging from the opposite side of the hall. The noises of the underground Viridian Rocket Headquarters once again became apparent to him beyond the mental block he placed upon them. "I guess I was kind of spacing out, wasn't I?" Ash replied in what was becoming known as typical Ash fashion to the rockets who were somehow familiar with him. "There are pokemon I can no longer count on, pokemon that are not coming back. I know other trainers have it worse, but still... The big catastrophe is over; it's just that picking up the pieces is harder than I thought. It makes me wonder if that's how my parents felt after they broke up years ago... and that's not even the same topic."
"In other words, you're confused. Well, I'm no expert on stuff like this. As a Rocket I would say, be strong and get over it, but that doesn't really help." Comet admitted. "I suppose you already heard a bunch of encouragement anyway."
"Yeah, I just need to know how to follow it." Ash paused in thought, "I think Misty was right, that I'm simply not yet used to the idea of Team Rocket and that's what's really keeping me from getting on with my life." Ash fell silent for another moment and curiously asked, "have you ever lost a pokemon like that?"
"Yeah, Zangoose," Comet revealed. "My pokemon were strong and I didn't have any trouble going through the Rocket training, so I thought I was set. It wasn't enough... I was overconfident and that mistake cost Zangoose his life."
"Wow, I had no idea. You always seem so carefree I never thought something like that happened." Ash went over his words again as Comet grinned with a hand in the cookie jar expression. "Right, right, you're a Rocket, you need to be strong and get over it, but how did you? I don't want to think you just disregarded it."
"I didn't make a big fuss, but I was disappointed," Comet recalled. "I started trying to get to know my pokemon better after that and it helped. I was able to train them better, know their limits and what they needed to improve. I wish I had been more careful back then, but regretting it won't change it, so it's best to let go of the frustration and keep the lesson."
"Building a stronger connection with my pokemon... and making sure they're so powerful this never happens again." Ash mused aloud. "That's what I should be doing. I'll make my pokemon so strong that nothing will be able to hurt them!"
Comet chuckled, "you remind me of the boss right now."
"I do?" Ash blinked, not really expecting such a comment.
"Yeah, you both really like strong pokemon, and power does make things easier," Comet agreed.
"There's something else," Ash was on the verge of a discovery, he could feel it. "It's like an idea is about to come, but I can't quite picture it. I guess it'll come when it comes." It was a solution to his dilemma inhabiting the hidden corners of the back of his mind.
xoxox xox xoxox
That night at the Viridian gym city rooftop. "Did you talk with your parents?" Misty inquired as she and Ash sat cuddled together.
"Yeah, mom's closely supervising Pallet Town's recovery. She's pretty busy with that and dad's busy with the media and business. Things are stabilizing now, the one who needs to stabilize is me," he admitted.
"A lot happened and it was all very fast. Now that everything is slowing down you need to sort out your thoughts," Misty advised. She let out a deep breath, resting her head on Ash's shoulder. "I have a lot to think about too, we all do. It's not all complicated though; your mom was right when she said everything will sort itself out. We can live one day at a time and look forward to the good things. Like the Indigo League and... our life together."
"The Indigo League!" Ash exclaimed, "I almost forgot, it's less than a week away! I have to train, and set up an alarm clock!" Ash paused and took a deep breath, "I guess we have a lot to do, don't we?"
"Yes we do, but we should probably think of the wedding after the Indigo League, I know you won't b able to concentrate otherwise," Misty teased.
Ash didn't deny it, instead admitting it with a fond smile, "you know me all too well. It's already the end of fall now and there's the Indigo League in the winter... When did they start delaying it for a month a year to vary the season? The first time I participated it was always in the summer, but I can't remember when they changed it."
"I don't remember the exact year either," Misty admitted, "but I do remember the reason for the variation was something about fairness, so that certain types of pokemon couldn't take advantage of the summer weather in every tournament."
"I guess the League was bored or something and decided to be picky," Ash laughed. "Not that it bothers me; it's more interesting this way. Mom and dad are getting married in the spring. It's kind of odd attending my parents' wedding when for most of my life I thought they were already married," and that his mother was a widow. "What do you think of the summer for our wedding, it's what you wanted, isn't it?"
Sometimes Ash surprised Misty with details she didn't expect him to recall. This was one of those times. She had mentioned long ago when they were just starting to date and not yet thinking about getting married, that she would love to have a wedding in the summer near the ocean, albeit she was only teasing him at the time. Seeing Ash's knowing smile, she knew the suggestion was no coincidence. She smiled back and expressed her approval with a kiss.
Somehow everything would work out, Ash knew it, he just needed to see it more clearly. Team Rocket was far more than he could have ever guessed before, there was more than one side to it and all those sides were part of a magnificent whole.
xoxox xox xoxox
The next morning, Giovanni, Delia and the executives were having a quick meeting. Delia had just finished sharing her report as the head of the Pallet restoration project, which was giving Team Rocket's business allies a lot of positive publicity and public support. Unexpectedly, Ash burst into the conference room loudly announcing, "I have an idea!" Then he paused, looked at all those present, calmed his rush of excitement and spoke in a more even tone, "sorry for the interruption."
Giovanni wasn't sure if he was annoyed at Ash's outburst or curious about what idea could be so important that he had to share it right away. "This idea of yours better be good," he spoke sternly.
"It is!" Ash felt all eyes on him. He was used to the attention from being at the spotlight of pokemon battles so it didn't bother him too much. "When Team Rocket takes over the world..." Somehow, to say when felt much more natural than to say if and the word flowed out automatically. "...It'll be easier to manage with the public's support. People right now are in favor of your gym leader image so when the take over is complete and all that is revealed, it might help to ease the public's worries. If people start to change their view of Team Rocket from villains to heroes then it will be good in the long run."
"Point acknowledged," Giovanni interrupted, this was the same argument he had with Delia many times before and he would present the same explanation. "However, Team Rocket is also the mafia and it cannot function properly if it stops acting as such."
"Then play both sides," Ash replied with a look of confidence and determination in his eyes. "The heroes, the villains, the mafia, the vigilantes, Team Rocket can be all of them as it is convenient. People will see two sides of Team Rocket and support the one they like best. They could be mafia allies supporting the criminal side, or civilians supporting the protectors side, either way they'll all depend on Team Rocket. That's what you wanted, isn't it? I don't know the full details, but if Team Rocket is affected, the entire market is affected, especially the most vital products. This way the world will depend on Team Rocket even more and their power will be extended. People will become a part of Team Rocket by counting on it, then the world won't be able to go on without it. At the same time, Team Rocket's good side will be able to expand and it will be beneficial to everyone. "
The last part wasn't the best argument, but making the world even more dependant on Team Rocket was. A moment of silence invaded the conference room as all those present deliberated. Delia was smiling proudly, that was what she was searching for, an idea just like the one Ash presented. It would benefit the take over while establishing a more solid good side to Team Rocket. With that seed within the organization, it would hopefully grow in time.
"When seen from that perspective..." Archer quietly voiced. The conference room was filled with "hmm..." and such 'thinking' noises. The executives exchanged thoughtful expression as if communicating in a secret visual language, before finally nodding and looking at Giovanni. Their deliberation was complete, they were willing to further elaborate on the suggested strategy if their leader so decided it.
As impatient as ever, Ash spoke up again, "it's a good idea, I'll prove it!"
Giovanni grinned, though he wasn't about to let Ash put such a plan into motion without proper strategizing. "There is something you can do."
"I'll do it!" Ash firmly declared, his expression serious and resolute.
"I don't think it's such a good idea to agree to do something before you know what it is," Giovanni stated with a true mafia lord atmosphere that would frighten most, but not the select few in that room. "You've already agreed, so I'll hold you to your word, there's no turning back now." He let the suspense hang for a moment longer before revealing the task. "Win the Indigo League and defeat all of the elite. It has to be a clear victory, not just a lucky close call. Show the world that your skill and power as a pokemon trainer is undeniable and absolute. It won't be easy, I'll make sure the strongest challengers from all the regions are there this year."
Ash smiled with determination, "I won't let you down." He was looking forward to such a colossal challenge rather than being intimidated by it.
xoxox xox xoxox
In the far future, Vandel, Givan and Dia were making their way through a thick forest. "Things sure are better in this version of the future. The cities are big, but there are still some secluded places like this."
"I hope you don't regret this," Givan voiced with a tone that hinted he would be saying 'I told you so' if it applied.
"I know, I know," Vandel remembered the conversation he had with his mother before going off on his journey around the world. "I won't regret it. This is something that my ancestors did, maybe even the great Giovanni and many of his descendants."
The queen's initial response was along the lines of "a prince traveling the world on foot like in the distant past? It's unheard of!" It all ended with "do whatever you want brat boy, but I'm banning you from the castles for the next year. Let's see how much you like wandering around then!"
"I'm sure we'll discover many things on this journey and make precious friends." Came Dia's cheerful voice with her usual sweet and positive tone.
"And we'll have to keep you out of trouble," Givan spoke and with a sly grin he added, "or help you get into it."
"I suppose adventure is in your blood," Dia asserted, "I'll have to be the one to keep you both in check, but I'm all up for some fun."
"You two seem more cheerful now," Vandel smiled at his pokemon. "I guess we should all be, we have a bright future to look forward to!" He dashed into the forest momentarily going several steps ahead from his pokemon, then stopped when he thought he felt there was someone else there. It was the sensation of being watched. When he turned to look, there was only an unidentifiable shadow fading away into the thick forest. The two pokemon easily caught up to his trainer, being faster than a human could be. They seemed perplexed that he was just standing there. Seeing their expressions, Vandel answered their silent question. "I thought there was someone there. I guess it must have been my imagination, or maybe a wild pokemon!" He dashed further into the thickness of the forest somewhat carelessly, only to be chased away by a group of Beedrill.
Hidden from view, floating above the treetops, Mewtwo watched the scene unfold. "Even if Team Rocket rules this world, there might still be a chance for a bright future..."
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. It's finally over! Thanks to everyone who sent me reviews, you inspired me and gave me the will to continue the story. Thanks to Nafatali and Rocketlord for writing awesome stories and drawing awesome art. This has been by far the longest story I've ever written, I thank God I didn't give up and actually had time to work on it. I didn't expect it to be half this long when I started it. It has been quite the experience; this story taught me a lot about writing. I hope you all enjoyed the ride as much as I did. As I mentioned before, there will later be another Pokemon story, but before that happens I need to finish another fanfic novel that I'm currently working on. It's a Slayers story titled "To Live Another Day", which will be updated from now on with the same schedule that "Don't Give Me Diamonds" followed.