Categories > Anime/Manga > Pokemon > Awakening

Part 13

by Milia 0 reviews

Category: Pokemon - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-03-13 - 17939 words


Chapter 37: The Indigo League (Part 1)

Ashimi couldn't contain her excitement as the helicopter flew from Mount Silver to Viridian City. "The Indigo League may disappoint you," Giovanni warned.

His words took Ashimi by surprise. "The Indigo League is every trainer's dream. It's the most famous of all the regional pokemon leagues, how can it disappoint me?"

"No battle royales, minimal unexpected tricks, lots of rules. It won't be like our battle and pulling a stunt like what you did at Cinnabar Island would just get you disqualified." Giovanni was referring to her rampage rather than the badge battle.

Ashimi laughed nervously, "I'll be careful." When the helicopter landed, Ashimi's friends were waiting for her. She had gotten used to her link with Zero and the distance had been no problem, though it was still relatively short. She started telling them about the battle, not skipping a single detail.

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The remaining days were spent both training and relaxing, though there didn't have time to do too much before it was time to head to the Indigo Plateau. Her friends were allowed to tag along and they all rode on a large comfortable helicopter with two propellers. Though the transport was able to move fast, it chose to move slowly through the sky, alongside several small helicopter pods carrying cameras from various channels. They were all moving at the same pace as the people below, who were traveling on foot, following the trainer holding the torch.

The last stretch of the road was reached and the boy carrying the torch handed it over to a girl with lavender hair. "Doesn't she look kind of familiar?" Jonathan asked.

"You're right..." Volt looked at the TV rather than the window to get a closer look when the camera zoomed in. The camera focused on the girl and he recognized her. "It's that girl from the Vulpix contest. If not for Johnny she might have won or tied with Ashimi."

"Don't remind me," Jonathan groaned.

"I wasn't paying attention to the details at the time because I was focused on the contest, and everyone looked different with all that makeup on anyway. But now I feel like I've seen her face somewhere other than the contest," Ashimi voiced in thought.

A silent pause passed before Zero suggested, "Daala?" They all stared at the TV waiting for the aerial view to switch to a close up again.

Then they finally saw it, she had changed her hair, but she was the same person. "Why is Daala carrying the torch?" Dorme inquired, though she didn't expect anyone to know the answer.

"Looks like the Indigo League might be more exciting than we thought," Ashimi mused aloud.

"In any case, we'll have to watch our backs," Volt cautioned.

"Right, we won't let Daala ruin the Indigo League!" Jonathan agreed.

"Does that mean you're going to use that sword you're carrying?" Dorme half joked.

Jonathan retrieved the sword, pulling it out over his shoulder from the sheath on his back. "If I have to."

"It is a cool new sword," Volt observed the shiny weapon. "A replica of the Master Sword, right?"

"It is more than just cool," Jonathan grinned, "and yes, I always wanted a legendary video game sword and last year I got it."

"Last year?" Dorme blinked in surprise. "How come I haven't see you with it if you've had it for that long? Did you forget it at the bottom of your locker or something?"

"I had my reasons not to take it with me right away..." Jonathan vaguely replied.

"It's because he could barely lift it when he got it," Ashimi revealed.

"Hey, this thing's heavy!" Jonathan pouted, "besides, I can use it just fine now," he defended.

"Can I?" Jonathan handed the sword to Volt, who started making heroic poses with it. "It's not really heavy."

"You don't think anything is heavy," Jonathan grumbled.

"I'll have to agree with Johnny on this one," Dorme nodded. "Which is why you're so good to have around in shopping trips."

"That's an inconvenient... compliment?" Volt breathed unsure.

"It's pretty convenient to me," Dorme smiled.

They finally made it to the stadium and remained in the air. They gathered around a glass floor panel and watched as Daala lit an arrow, the archer, a boy around her age, shot the arrow into the large torch that ignited with the fire that signified the start of the Indigo League. The crowd cheered and music played and several people put on a show in the stadium. The helicopter landed and Ashimi went to join the other trainers to march through the stadium in a few minutes, while her friends and family went to take their seats.

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Ashimi had filled the moment with excitement in her mind, so walking across the stadium felt like so much more than a simple motion. She was filled with joy, as if she had been born for that very moment, until... 'A victory shall be claimed.' It was that voice again. That ominous echoing voice in her head spoke to her again after a long silence. It was evil and mocking, she knew right away it wasn't saying she would win the Indigo League.

Ashimi felt that the victory it mentioned would be her loss. 'Legend...' She tried to stay focused and follow the pace of the people around her. 'I won't let you ruin this for me. I won't let you win!' Darkness enveloped her and she knew nothing of the world as her senses faded away.

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Ashimi felt as if she had fainted, but when she woke up, she wasn't on a bed in her assigned room at the plateau or in the infirmary, or anywhere where she could have been placed to rest. She was standing in the trainer's platform across from an impatient boy and the announcer told her to call out her first pokemon. She didn't know how she got there and it worried her that she couldn't remember.

She knew that the crowds' eyes were on her as she tried to regain her bearings, but one gaze stood apart from the others. Despite the distance Ashimi found herself staring into her father's eyes. She forced a smile and tried to pass her odd behavior as nerves. All her pokemon were in their pokeballs, the rules didn't allow trainers to march with their pokemon during the opening ceremony ever since a battle broke loose a few years ago. Without any time to give it any further thought, Ashimi called out a pokemon. "Wartortle, I choose you!" That made sense to her, since her opponent's pokemon was a Magmar. Yet it didn't excuse why she took that long to make such an obvious choice.

"Finally!" The boy huffed. Ashimi finally took a moment to recognize him and noticed he was the one who shot the arrow earlier. He must be a talented trainer, so type advantage aside, this was no time to space out. She didn't know his name, she assumed that the announcer must have introduced them, but she wasn't quite there to hear it.

The archer said something, but his voice came out distorted to Ashimi and she didn't understand. Then something very unusual occurred. Magmar began to wave a pair of fluffy pon-pons around like a cheerleader. Ashimi stared in confusion, when did Magmar even get the pon-pons? She was sure she didn't have them a few seconds ago. Wartortle was looking uncomfortable and covering his face. "Wartortle, hydro pump!"

The water pokemon obeyed, but the attack didn't have as much of an effect as Ashimi hoped. The announcer was saying something, but she couldn't make out the words. The voices of the crowd mixed into disruptive murmurs that were both loud and impossible to decipher. When Ashimi tried to focus, one thing stood out to her, Magmar was attacking with seeds. How was that even possible?

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In one of the private VIP balconies, Giovanni was throwing a fit, yelling at several people through his ear piece. "Do we have an intruder? Sabrina? Anyone suspicious at all?"

"No sir, nothing to report," Comet's voice replied.

"Nothing on my end either," Pixel added.

"Check the equipment," Giovanni insisted. "Something is definitely wrong with her but nothing is touching her, this has to be some kind of psychic attack!" He looked at the trainer's platform where Ashimi stood. Jessie and James were inspecting the area surrounding the base of the platform, but they didn't look like they found any sort of suspicious device that could be interfering with their psychic sensors. Sabrina could stay hidden if she kept her power suppressed, but not if she was using it on Ashimi. Jessie and James made a final check of the area and went back inside the round stadium building to search the rest of the surrounding areas along with many other Rockets.

"No..." Ash gasped. Misty, Delia, Jonathan, Dorme, Volt and Zero stared at him expectantly. "The attack is coming from the inside. This doesn't make sense, the earrings should have protected her. What could be strong enough to get through? This is... What is this?!" His senses felt clouded, drowned in darkness.

"Ashimi, I'm coming!" Zero began to concentrate, surrounded by a blue light.

'Be careful, aniki!' Nidorino called out as Zero reverted to his default form and began to fade, until he was gone completely. He didn't return to the data crystal though, instead he followed the link of energy straight to Ashimi.

"What's that little glitch doing?" Giovanni growled impatiently.

"He's... He's connected to Ashimi somehow," Ash couldn't really explain it, but if there was one thing he realized, it was that there was a lot his daughter needed to tell him. "He's trying to help her... I think he's taking over so she can focus her energy at a subconscious level and fight whatever it is that's attacking her."

"Possession?" Giovanni didn't like the sound of that. "Can a program even do that?"

"He's not just a program..." Ash whispered. "But I didn't expect something like this. It's because her energy extends out and links to him that this is possible. What I can't explain is how Ashimi even did that. Not even I can link myself to another living creature for an extended period of time, certainly not one as different as Zero."

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Ashimi suddenly went limp and looked as if she would fall over. She slowly lifted her head and blinked her eyes into focus, except it wasn't she who was doing any of that. "Wartortle, use hydro pump gently, straight up." It was Ashimi's voice, as it was her vocal cords that were in use, but it wasn't she who was speaking at all. She moved somewhat stiffly, as if on puppet strings, like a possessed doll, or as being possessed by a doll. The water went up softly and showered down on Wartortle. 'That should wash off some of the stun spores from before,' Zero thought.

Wartortle looked up at the platform with concern. "It'll be okay," Zero assured. The water pokemon knew this wasn't his trainer, the look in the eyes was so different, but the turtle also knew who it was that stepped in, someone he could trust. Zero could see the truth, as the attack to the senses was only reaching Ashimi. Wartortle's opponent was Jumpluff. "Jumpluff, use poison powder!" The archer called out.

"Wartortle, rain dance!" The move wouldn't be very effective against Jumpluff, but it would help wash away the spores in the air, now that Wartortle had recovered enough mobility to do the dance. 'He's using long range attacks because he knows Wartortle is stronger, it's time to charge in,' Zero thought.

"Jumpluff, energy ball!" The grass pokemon began to form a powerful sphere of concentrated energy, ready to fire it in a split second.

"Withdraw and hydro pump, charge in!" Just as Jumpluff released the energy ball, Wartortle retreated into his shell and shot his hydro pump at the grassy ground of the arena. He shot into the air, but Jumpluff was quick to avoid the collision.

Now that they were face to face at close range, the archer immediately tried to recover the distance between them. "Solar beam!"

"Iron defense and brick break!" Wartortle charged in, he was hit by Jumpluff's attack, but delivered a devastating blow and Jumpluff fainted.

The announcer attributed the round to Ashimi. The rules of the Indigo League varied over the years and sometimes they came up with special rules to keep things interesting. This year the trainers battled with four pokemon each, with a fifth pokemon to be called out only in the case of a draw. Once a pokemon was recalled, it couldn't be called out until the next battle. However, if a pokemon was knocked out, it couldn't be called out for the remainder of the league. Ashimi didn't like to catch more pokemon than she could carry because of her concern for pokemon being abandoned and forgotten in suspended animation in a digital storage.

Ashimi could send her pokemon to Gary, but he already had his hands full trying to give Team Rocket's pokemon a chance to go outside, run and play every now and then, and those were a lot of pokemon to take turns visiting him. Ashimi wasn't even sure how many Team Rocket kept in storage, and how many were not even allowed to visit Gary, but she wasn't about to add to those numbers. She could only hope the dream world project was completed soon, so that pokemon could interact with each other and their trainers in a digital world, rather than remain in a frozen dreamless coma.

This year's rules were not favorable to Ashimi, but she was still determined to do her best. She reasoned that if her pokemon started to look tired, all she had to do was recall them before they fainted and she could send them out to battle again in the next round after they recovered. For the trainers that adopted that careful strategy, it technically meant that they would be down one pokemon as well, albeit they could still use it in the future. It made for an interesting twist and the opportunity to come back from behind.

The archer recalled Jumpluff and called out his next pokemon. "I won't underestimate you again, go Dragonite!"

'I better be careful,' Zero thought, he didn't want to let any of Ashimi's pokemon faint. "Well done Wartortle, you can rest now, return!" After recalling Wartortle, he called out the next pokemon, the best choice he could think off to face a Dragonite, especially that Dragonite. Even if it might be a bit mean, he couldn't let Ashimi lose. "Chari, I choose you!"

The Dragonite growled in recognition, while Chari huffed as if proudly justifying herself. The Dragonite was missing an antennae from the last encounter with the fierce fire pokemon. The dragon had lived with Gary for a while, who received a visit from Lance and the dragon trainer had taken an interest in the Dragonite. Gary had contacted Ashimi about it and she said to go ahead and give the Dragonite to Lance. This boy must be someone Lance trusted for the Dragonite to have ended up in his hands.

Then Zero remembered why the cyan haired boy looked familiar. Evazan Embo, as the announcer had called him, was known in Johto simply as Arrow and sometimes acted as a vigilante, but he was smart enough to stay away from Team Rocket. He was rumored to help pokemon in the wild too. "Chari, be careful, don't get cocky," despite the warning, the Charizard was ready to do just that.

Chari blew a smoke ring as if to show her superiority and indifference. Dragonite frowned but didn't make a move until his trainer indicated. "Dragonite, use aqua tail!" The dragon pokemon went on the offensive, swinging his tail strongly at Chari.

Chari swung her own tail recklessly, to bat away the dragon's watery tail. A veil of steam emerged from her tail and covered the arena. The fire pokemon couldn't help it but to cringe at how strong the attack was, but she fought not to show it.

"C'mon Chari, try to be careful!" Zero insisted again. Chari flew up to the trainer's platform and perched on the railing, looking into the eyes that were physically Ashimi's with a look that wasn't her own. The perceptive pokemon had realized right away who this was and assumed Zero had a good reason to possess Ashimi. She extended her claw and ruffled Ashimi's hair. "You're treating me like a little kid, aren't you?"

'It's okay chibi, I can handle this,' Chari replied before hopping back into the arena. Dragonite was waiting at the ready and received her with another aqua tail. That time Chari dodged then shot an oversized stream of flames non-stop. Dragonite was quick to get out of the way, but Chari kept up the breath of fire, trying to hit him.

"Stop showing off, you're wasting your energy!" Zero warned fruitlessly. Chari continued until she had to pause to catch her breath. Dragonite was flying overhead.

Chari growled and took to the sky, clawing and kicking in the air, but her movements were so desperate for superiority and so impatient that they came out clumsy, until Dragonite managed to knock her down. "Dragonite, use hyper beam!"

"Chari, get up! Get out of the way!" Zero prepared the pokeball, but at the last second Chari rolled out of the way, dodging the red recall beam and mostly dodging the hyper beam.

Chari didn't escape without a scratch, as her right wing was caught by the hyper beam and it was evident that she wouldn't be able to fly until she took a trip to the infirmary. 'You... you'll pay for that!' The Charizard roar ferociously.

"Chari, let's try this one more time," Zero tried to reason with her. He knew that as long as she had even an ounce of strength left, she would resist being recalled into her pokeball.

Chari nodded, 'fine, I'll listen to you this time, but you better have some good ideas, chibi.'

Zero's first idea was quite simple, yet necessary, "watch out!" Another hyper beam flew by just barely missing the target. 'Okay, so Chari can't fly and her tail flame isn't doing too great. I'll have to lure Dragonite to the ground,' Zero thought. "Use smoke screen and dig!" The smoke screen covered her retreat, as the Charizard dug into the grassy arena. She kept her injured wing flat against her back so as to not further damage it.

"Dragonite, use hurricane!" The smoke screen was easily blown away along with chunks of grass and dirt from the arena. Thankfully, Chari was buried deep enough to stay hidden. "Hiding like a coward, come out and face me!"

"Stay where you are, Chari, we don't take orders from them!" Zero hoped that she wouldn't listen to the taunts.

Seeing as there was no other choice, Arrow sent Dragonite down to the ground with a new plan of attack. "Use earthquake!"

The Dragonite dove to initiate the attack on the ground. "Dragonite is going towards the center of the arena!" Chari surfaced just as Dragonite approached. "Fire blast!" Before the dragon could attack, he was received by a massive blast of flames. Chari didn't have a lot of fire to waste, but this was an emergency.

Arrow made a quick change of tactics that could result fatal if Chari was hit at such a close range. "Hyper beam!"

"Fire fang!" Dragonite had backed up in reaction to the fire blast. Chari quickly pushed herself up with her tail and batted her good wing to jump before he could go further out of reach in the air. However, Dragonite was already too high up and she only managed to bite onto his tail, though it was enough to force him to land. "Dragon claw, just like you practiced!" Chari began a rapid succession of slashes, though it looked more like she was boxing while stabbing with her claws.

Arrow wasn't sure how to counter, so he called for the only attack that might be able to break through the fire pokemon's fighting style. "Dragon rage!"

'Big mistake,' Zero grinned. Dragonite had been lured into fighting how he wanted and now Chari stood on equal grounds. "Keep going Chari, concentrate on dodging and keep him busy. Don't lose the rhythm and don't get impatient, an opportunity will come up!" The exchange continued like a boxing match with claws until finally, Zero saw an opening. "Focus punch!" Chari's stance and delivery were perfect for maximum strength. She bent her knees and stretched them as she brought her fist up to Dragonite's jaw in a solid hit. The dragon staggered back dizzily as a trickle of blood went down the side of his jaw. "Finish him! Giga impact!"

Chari tackled Dragonite with everything she had. He was knocked to the ground harshly, but Chari didn't know if he was knocked out or not, she did know that she was finished, she wouldn't be able to exert herself any longer. With the last of her strength she slashed at Dragonite, too dazed, desperate and fearful of losing to realize what she was doing. There was the red beam of a pokeball, but Chari didn't know it was for Dragonite and tried to block it with her good wing, focusing on resisting it. "Chari! Chari, that's enough! Stop!"

The Charizard finally came to her senses and stumbled back in a daze. Dragonite was finally recalled and Arrow was glaring daggers. 'Is it over?' Chari breathe desperately. 'Did we win?'

"Yeah... We won, you can rest now..." Zero recalled Chari and let out a breath of relief, she was exhausted, but didn't faint, so she could be called out to battle again later. Ashimi wouldn't be happy to find she got an official warning for use of excessive force on a fainted pokemon. One more display like that and she would be disqualified. That Dragonite was certainly unfortunate.

Despite having lost two rounds, Arrow knew that he still had a chance if he won the remaining two, plus the tie breaker, but he wasn't really expecting that to happen. Even the pokemon he had borrowed from Lance failed and the experience in the league was supposed to help Dragonite adapt to battling again. Arrow felt that he had disappointed Lance, whom he had a lot of respect for and he couldn't get himself to focus on the remainder of the battle. "Go Yanmega!"

The bug pokemon buzzed around speedily and it was difficult just following his movements. "Golbat, I choose you!" At least Golbat seemed ready to listen. "Super sonic!"

"Super sonic!" Yanmega responded with the same ability and the super sonic waves seemed to cancel each other out.

"Aerial ace!" Golbat began to fly rapidly, trying hard to hit Yanmega.

"Double team!" The dragonfly's movements sped up even more, enough to create the illusion of there being two. "Quick attack!" Yanmega went on the offensive, but without his pokedex functions, Zero couldn't tell which one was real. Golbat was trying to dodge them both, but it was not easy. "Don't stop moving Golbat, use super sonic!" The waves didn't affect Yanmega too much, but the false image rippled. "Get ready to use air slash... now!" The attack hit the right target, slowing Yanmega's speedy movements and making the double disappear. "Air slash again!"

The dragonfly reacted quickly and dodged. Arrow knew he couldn't allow Golbat to continue getting ahead. "Ancient power!" Yanmega dove from the sky and flew close to the ground before pulling up in a fast fluid motion. Stones and clumps of dirt rose up from the ground after him. The earthly projectiles flew at Golbat from every direction.

"Be careful, Golbat, go higher!" Golbat tried to gain altitude to make the dodging easier but the rocks and dirt were coming fast from all directions and he was inevitably hit. "Golbat!" Golbat fell down to the grassy field. Zero looked down from the trainer's platform, worried that he had fainted. Golbat saw worry reflected on Ashimi's face, though because of his bond with her, he knew the consciousness wasn't her own.

The worry suddenly turned to pain as Zero felt Ashimi slipping away. He looked up just in time to see Ash exchange a few rushed words with Giovanni, Misty and Delia, before leaving the balcony, Jonathan, Dorme and Volt went after him. Zero knew that he sensed Ashimi was in danger, "she can't hold on, we need to finish this." Golbat's sensitive hearing picked up Zero's quiet words. He couldn't get knocked out.

Golbat wasn't as physically strong as Ashimi's other pokemon, but she always encouraged him to take pride in his speed. He couldn't let her down, the battle wouldn't last another round and even if she was ahead, if Ashimi was pulled out of the battle, a forfeit was still a forfeit. Golbat pulled himself off the ground and took to the air again as the announcer expressed his surprise, having initially thought the bat had fainted.

"Golbat, we need to finish this quickly, acrobatics!" Golbat pushed himself beyond the limit to fly faster. The speedy Yanmega kept up with him, but was unable to do anything other than dodge. "Toxic!" A toxic cloud began to form while Golbat continued his impressive flying. The cloud grew in size, but Golbat didn't stop.

"Yanmega!" Arrow called out to his pokemon in concern. The way Golbat attacked while moving so quickly was really something. He had heard that Ashimi never rotated her pokemon, having the same team constantly with her must have made them exceptionally strong. 'If I had known about this...' If he lost now it wouldn't matter, he would never get the chance to call out his strongest ally.

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At the entrance to the battle arena in the center of the stadium, Ash had made it past the guards with the use of his Pokemon League connections, or at least that was one theory. Jonathan, Dorme and Volt thought they were scared of his 'get out of my way or else' glare, especially since his well known massively powerful Pikachu was on his shoulder.

"Wait!" Dorme called out. "The battle is still going on. If you take Ashimi away now, she'll be disqualified!"

"She's in danger!" Ash snapped. "The thing possessing her is evil. Zero is making it so that Ashimi can focus on fighting it without worrying about consciously controlling her body or battling, but it's not enough!"

"She's possessed?" Volt and Dorme stared while Jonathan was left in silent thought. "But she worked so hard to get here and the battle is almost done," Volt pleaded.

"Step aside," Ash ordered and it took everything they had for Volt and Dorme to remain still. Ash still pushed past them though, only to find Jonathan blocking his path ahead, "move."

"No..." Jonathan refused. "A risk is better than an assured loss. I think Ashimi was talking about more than just the Indigo League. I don't know the full details, but I understand a little more now and I intend to keep my promise. Give Zero a little more time to win the battle."

"There is no time!" Ash went to push past Jonathan as well, but found himself facing Foxtrot. "Thunderbolt!" There was nowhere to run, Pikachu's immense power filled the hallway and left the Flareon barely standing. "He didn't faint right away, you've trained him well, but you can't beat me in a pokemon battle."

Foxtrot could barely stay on his feet and that was just one thunderbolt. If it had been thunder it would have been enough to make him faint. "You're right, I can't win in a pokemon battle." Jonathan recalled Foxtrot. He unsheathed his sword, holding it in front of him. "How about a sword fight instead?"

"I know you think you're helping Ashimi, but I don't have time to make you understand." Ash charged forward, light accumulating in his hand. A blade of pure blue aura with a white glow sliced the master sword replica in half, but Jonathan didn't move out of the way.

"We all trust Ashimi," Dorme stood on one side of Ash.

"And we know she can get through whatever it is that's happening to her," Volt added, standing at Ash's other side.

"Pikachu..." Ash whispered with a tangible tinge of guilt. The yellow mouse paused for a second, but soon released his electricity, paralyzing Dorme, Volt and Jonathan with his static. Ash walked a few steps forward before Jonathan stopped him again, though he could hardly move. "You're really stubborn..." A sense of danger invaded Ash and he panicked for a second. He projected a sphere of aura to push Jonathan out of the way, sending the boy to crash against the wall, before dashing down the hallway.

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Golbat's toxic cloud covered the whole arena and the bat kept flying through it trying to hit Yanmega, they were both poisoned. "Venoshock!"

"Hidden power!" Yanmega released a mysterious power, glowing and focusing his energy despite all that was happening around him.

Golbat screeched as if in pain, though Yanmega had not physically touched him. "Use hidden power too!" Struggling to concentrate, Golbat focused on what he needed to do. He didn't want to be the first to get knocked out, he didn't want to cost time that they didn't have. He had to be strong, his trainer and friends needed him and believed in him. The glow surrounding Golbat became brighter as the toxic cloud dissipated to give way to the battle of inner strength. With a fierce battle cry, Golbat took on the form of Crobat and finally succeeded, Yanmega fainted.

"Three straight wins despite all the difficulties..." Arrow whispered under his breath. It was true what they said about Ash's daughter being in a class of her own. Most people wouldn't recognize her before this, but after the Indigo League, Arrow was sure that everyone would know who Ashley was. She wasn't like Ash though, not from Arrow's perspective anyway.

As much respect as he had for Lance, the champion was wrong about his fellow champion's daughter being a lot like her father in anything other than talent. She was cocky, he couldn't believe she was actually nervous and chose a type disadvantage on the first round by mistake, she had to be showing off. Then her Charizard was so cruel it got her an official warning. Yet her pokemon were without a doubt very strong and the final round puzzled him.

How did Golbat, now Crobat, overpower Yanmega with hidden power? The mysterious ability was something that was often claimed to be empowered by the bond between the trainer and the pokemon. Perhaps she did care about her pokemon, but maybe only her pokemon and not others.

Honey colored eyes glared suspiciously before the sixteen year old Johto vigilante exited the arena. If there was one thing Arrow knew for sure, it was that he would have to keep an eye on her.

Zero recalled Crobat, "That was amazing!" Then he whispered to the pokeball so only Crobat could hear, "Ashimi will be very proud of you." The last thing he wanted was to, on top of everything, make people think Ashimi was crazy for talking about herself in third person. Zero went down from the trainer's platform, guiding Ashimi's body to leave the stadium and saw Ash a few steps into the stadium.

Ash had rushed out and stopped cold just as Golbat used hidden power. Though she was buried in her subconscious, Ashimi somehow sensed her pokemon's unbreakable spirit at that moment and it gave her the strength to fight against the evil force possessing her. Ash let out a tired and stressed breath, then walked out of the stadium with his daughter, towards the trainers' rooms.

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox


Chapter 38: The Indigo League (Part 2)

Ash, Ashimi, and by extension Zero, entered the room where Ashimi was staying for the Indigo League. Zero sat Ashimi down on the bed and materialized next to her. Ashimi went limp, but slowly reacted, lifting her head as if her body felt heavy. "Thanks chibi, I couldn't have done it without you," she smiled weakly.

Ash sat down beside her while a very uncomfortable silence invaded the room. Ashimi refused to look at him as a million inexplicable worries ran through her mind. She knew her thoughts were being influenced, yet she felt helpless to stop them.

"I'll be going back to the crystal," Zero finally announced. "Permanently, or until the technology exists to get me out, and you'll cut the aura link."

"No!" Ashimi protested. She stood suddenly and the dizziness that rushed to her head made her sit down again. "Your energy is even more mixed up now. This is the only way to keep you here. I'm the only one who can-"

"It's not you!" Zero snapped, raising his voice in a way he never had before. "It's that thing that's keeping me here and I don't want anything to do with it! If you refuse to let me go I'll ask Giovanni to order my deletion. It's for your own good, so he'll definitely do it!"

Ashimi felt her eyes water with desperate tears. "Do you hate us that much?" She whispered. "Do you hate me? Do you hate our friends? What about Comet, Pixel and the others? Why do you want to leave us?"

"You're being selfish," Ash interrupted sternly. "Don't you see you're causing him pain?"

"He's right," Zero admitted. "I'd rather cease to exist than hurt you, this is much worse for me."

"I'm sorry chibi," Ashimi cried. "I guess I have been selfish, I wanted to keep you with me, but you're not my living doll to keep, you're your own person and I should consider what you want... It's just so hard." She understood that things couldn't go on as they were, but she wished she didn't have to face it.

"It'll be okay, I know I'll see you again someday, just try to be patient," Zero smiled sadly.

"Do you want to go say goodbye?" Ashimi finally asked after a long solemn pause.

He did, but not if it meant giving that evil thing the time to influence Ashimi and make her backtrack. "No, I don't need any goodbyes, just tell everyone I said see you later."

Ashimi nodded and watched as Zero faded away back into the crystal. Her eyes were blurred with tears and she didn't see the virtual boy exchange a meaningful look with Ash, as if asking him to make sure the link was cut off completely, so that Ashimi wouldn't strain herself with it again. Once the process was complete, Zero was back in the crescent moon shaped clear data crystal, his previous link with Ashimi's aura gone completely.

"You can't bring him back..." It was a statement more so than a question.

"No," Ash confirmed. "I'm sorry, but I don't have the power."

"Neither do I..." Ashimi admitted.

Ash lifted his daughter's chin to look into her eyes. "Tell me what happened."

"I don't know exactly," Ashimi admitted.

"Just try," Ash encouraged her gently.

'Don't do it,' a voice in Ashimi's head called to her. 'Don't you see he's holding you back? He wants to take away your power! Your pokemon are strong because of me, I push your aura out and make it flow to them. How else would you progress so quickly?'

"Stop it!" Ashimi closed her eyes tightly and held her head. "Shut up Legend, shut up you liar!"

Ash focused his aura to calm Ashimi and sensed something evil retreating into the back of her mind. He would have to coax it out and remove it, but it wouldn't be easy. Maybe if he knew of its origins, he would know where to start. He examined the earrings. During her inner battle the cracks became deeper and the pearls were becoming gray with the loss of their power. "Tell me, please," Ash tried not to show the worry in his voice, but on the inside he was at the edge of panic. It took everything he had to stay calm and keep his relaxing aura influencing the atmosphere.

"I don't know when, I don't know how and I don't know why, but some strange power is in me," Ashimi began to explain. "It talks to me sometimes, it's evil, I know it, but it offered to bring back Zero. It betrayed me, but I thought I could tame it, learn to control it."

Ash sighed, that wasn't a lot to work with. "Let me try to sense what it is." He focused his energy on Ashimi and tried to look for the presence that didn't belong. It was bad alright, bitter, vengeful and angry, but Ash couldn't imagine what it was or where it came from, though it felt strangely familiar. "I'll have to do some research..." He finally concluded.

"It's not a pokemon, is it?" Ashimi inquired.

"No," Ash confirmed, "at least I don't think so. It's more like a spirit, but not really a ghost. Did it give you any clues?"

"Legend, that's what I usually call it. At first I hoped it was a legendary pokemon. The legendaries have always been attracted to your aura, so I was hoping that having these abilities would make them come to me too."

Ash bit his lip, there was no way a legendary would go near her in her current state. Any legendary would be repulsed by the thing possessing her. Maybe if she was completely clean of it, they would approach her some day, or maybe the stigma would remain long after the evil energy was cleansed, but he didn't have the heart to tell her of that possibility. He got up and tried to look optimistic. "Get some rest, I'll be back soon, let all your pokemon out."

Ashimi nodded, kicked off her shoes, let her pokemon out and laid down to rest. Ash exited the room to a worried Misty in the hallway. Jonathan, Dorme and Volt were behind her. Ash talked quietly with Misty for a few minutes, she had been giving the father and daughter a few moments alone.

The news wasn't good, the fact that the thing that had invaded Ashimi was unknown made it even more stressful. Misty went into the room and found it to be crowded since Ashimi had let all her pokemon out to keep her company. The young trainer was vaguely aware of the battle, and Chari seemed to be apologizing for her behavior, though Ashimi was very understanding and told her it was okay, she did feel sorry for Dragonite.

Ash looked at Jonathan, Dorme and Volt, who seemed to be waiting for him to step aside so they could go into Ashimi's room too. "I'm sorry I was so harsh on you three." Pikachu echoed the sentiment, but the three teens didn't make a big deal out of it, since they were focused on Ashimi's well being, plus they would soon find they also had Zero's absence to deal with. Ash and Pikachu disappeared down the long hallway.

Jonathan, Volt and Dorme entered Ashimi's room, it was so full they could hardly move. Dorme held Nidorino, who seemed to already know this was coming. 'Aniki knew he would have to leave. He thought it would be best this way...' Even so, Nidorino would still miss him very much.

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Ash needed to have a word with Lance. He stopped as he spotted a young woman down the hallway, "Scarlett, do you know where your father is?"

"He went somewhere with Arrow, to the conference room, I think." Scarlett made an uncomfortable pause. "Is there something wrong?" She already knew the answer.

"Yes..." Ash couldn't deny it, "I just don't know exactly what it is yet."

" I hope this can be solved soon. Sorry, I'm in a bit of a hurry, so I need to go now, I'm the mediator between the league's security team and Rocket security," and making then work together would definitely be a challenge. Giovanni already had the stadium in lock down, ready to arrest anyone who looked suspicious. No one went in or out, snipers blend in with the crowds, and the general public wasn't even aware that it was happening.

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Walking towards the elite conference room, Ash passed Giovanni down the hallway. He was yelling into a cellphone while Delia worriedly walked beside him. He shut the phone off angrily and looked at Ash, "what did you find out?"

"Not much..." Ash admitted with worried frustration. "I have some research to do."

Giovanni stood in his way. "You know something you're not telling me." He glared.

Ash couldn't help it but to look down. "In the past, I had a good reason not to tell you. As for now... Now I've come to realize that what I thought I knew might have been wrong, so I have nothing accurate to say." He paused than added, "but it might be linked to Team Rocket, maybe it was Sabrina or someone else who caused this. There is some evil thing residing in Ashimi, I just don't know what it is, so it's very hard to pull it out... It's powerful, very powerful. Right now, I just don't know..."

"I'll increase the guard even more," Giovanni finally concluded. He had more questions for Ash, but now wasn't the time to argue.

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Ash arrived at the door to the elite conference room. There were two people inside, one whom he recognized as Lance. It took Ash a moment to recognize the other presence, since he wasn't too familiar with it, it was the boy known as Arrow.

"Are you saying she acted that way by accident? How is that even possible?" Arrow questioned. "I admit I underestimated her, but..."

"I feel bad for Dragonite too, but I can't help it but to think there's more to this," Lance insisted. "I know Ash and I know how he must have raised his daughter. Even if she is the heir to Team Rocket, I just can't believe, she'd be purposefully cruel. She was acting strangely and there was... an issue I'm not at liberty to discuss. I need to talk to Ash, I'm sure he'll shed some light in all of this."

Ash took that as his cue to knock on the door. He announced himself in that way, but didn't wait for a reply before entering the conference room. Arrow nodded with stiff politeness and excused himself, closing the door behind him as he left.

"I was about to go talk to you," Lance sat down, feeling that this would be a long and complicated conversation.

Ash dropped into the next chair, placing his elbows on the polished round table and sighing into his palms before looking at Lance seriously. "I think my interpretation was wrong... This is bad, very bad..."

The way Ash sounded so tragic made Lance give him a look of alarm. He remembered when Ash confessed his vision to him, determined not to let it come true. Ashimi was only a toddler when Ash told Lance about the prophetic dream, which he had the night after Ashimi was born. Ash had tried to tell himself it was all in his head, a product of fatherhood nerves, but it eventually sunk in that it had to be a lot more than just a blurry nightmare. He applied himself to his studies more, albeit there was little left to be found about the aura.

The dream, the warning, had been blurry and hard to interpret. What Ash could gather from it was that Ashimi would inherit the power of Team Rocket and it would bring either great prosperity, or a terrible disaster. Seeing that Giovanni had become rather fond of his granddaughter and that he intended to make her his heir where Ash wasn't quite up to the task, Ash began to fear that his daughter would grow up to be corrupted by power.

Ash's solution was to make sure that power didn't go to her head. Ashimi was always around talented people since she was born. She was tutored by well known professors and researchers, including Gary Oak, until she became old enough to go on her pokemon journey.

Given her upbringing, it was to be expected that she turned out to be strong. Yet winning the Indigo League on her first try and moving on to her more official Rocket training at such a young age was something that Ash thought shouldn't happen. She wasn't ready, and he thought it would be best for her to continue pursuing her journey until she was more mature, until who she truly was became so solidly cemented, that her situation could not change her.

The champion of each Indigo League tournament was chosen from the previous champions. They could battle if a consensus wasn't reached. Ash would make sure that Ashimi didn't lose interest in traveling just yet, by providing her with a challenge. He stepped up to take his place as champion that year, ready to defeat his daughter for what he was sure was her own good.

Lance knew about Ash's plan and took the spot of the highest ranked elite four. His daughter would come before him and two other well known past champions before them. The elite selection of that year was the talk of every region. Volt was sure Ashimi would have a much harder time than he did, since the elites of his year were not all past champions as they were this year. Some people where even calling this year's Indigo League impossible to win.

Ash pushed forward with his explanation. "The power that the vision pointed to wasn't Team Rocket, it was something else, some evil spirit that's already in Ashimi. She doesn't know how she got it, but the fact that Sabrina made it so that her aura was exposed couldn't have been a coincidence. I don't understand this at all, if something so evil was lurking around, how did I not sense it?" Ash's frustration and worry was immeasurable.

Lance took in all the information, he paused, thinking about it with perplexity. "I don't know," he regretted to reply. "This has caught me off guard. The prophecies of the dragon masters, they fit in with your initial interpretation and I truly thought that if your daughter could be kept safe from corruption, then Team Rocket could be purified in a sense. I need to contact the elders about this."

xoxox xox xoxox

When Ashimi woke up from her long sleep, she hardly had time to shower, change, eat with her friends and hastily head out to the arena. A lack of battling wouldn't slow down the process of her aura being consumed, in fact, it was Crobat's, then Golbat, energy which momentarily woke her up when she subconsciously perceived it. Ashimi stepped on to the trainer's platform. Her deep bond with her pokemon should help her regain some of her aura's strength.

Jonathan stood at the door to the center of the stadium behind the platform where Ashimi was. Dorme and Volt were watching from other similar doors left and right, just in case they had to rush in to tend to any kind of emergency. The boy whose name no one could remember was there as well, at the door on the opposite side on the arena, behind Daala.

Ash approached quietly. "Johnny... I'm sorry about before, I was especially hash on you. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, and I should be the one apologizing," Jonathan quietly replied. "I know what's going on now. Ashy told us everything over lunch, but back then I wasn't sure. I told her I would take her side and I thought that if I kept my word she'd tell me what was going on. Sorry for being so stubborn."

"Even a princess needs to be told no every now and then." Ash reminded.

"I can tell her no..." Jonathan pouted. "It's just that the occasion to do so doesn't come often."

"Right and if she told you to jump off a cliff, you probably would, and I'm not sure if that's good or bad anymore," Ash laughed lightly.

Jonathan shrugged, taking the statement out of its metaphorical context. "Sure why not? I mean, it's not like jumping off a cliff is such a big thing to ask for and if whatever is supposed to happen to stop me from dying doesn't happen, then Nya can teleport me to safety, sounds simple enough to me."

Ash sighed and shook his head, though Jonathan didn't seem to understand the reason behind the expression. "Either way, you might have helped more than you know. Ashimi took a turn for the better after being close to her pokemon for a while. Stopping the battle abruptly wouldn't have been a good idea after all," Ash concluded. "Upsetting her makes her aura more vulnerable, I know that, but I was so worried I panicked."

"Ashy has a strong will..." Jonathan looked at the trainer's platform where she stood. 'I hope that's enough to get through this...' They quietly stood at the entrance, watching the battle take place. 'This will certainly be an interesting match,' Jonathan thought. With the instinct of a Rocket, he could pinpoint the location of the snipers in the crowd. The transparent energy shields that protected the public from stray attacks were in place, but they wouldn't stop the snipers' lasers.

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Ashimi was surprised at who her opponent was, though she guessed they might be facing each other at some point. The girl in the trainer's platform opposite to hers was just standing there glaring intensely, so Ashimi decided to make the first move. "Clefable, I choose you!"

"Go Braviary!" Daala's newest pokemon emerged from his pokeball. The powerful eagle immediately took to the skies and wasted no time in commencing the attack. "Brave bird!" Braviary dove towards Clefable, starting the battle with a strong attack.

"Telekinesis and dodge!" Clefable jumped aside, focusing her power on slowing Braviary to have enough time to dodge. After the attack missed, Braviary took to the skies again. "Use gravity!" Clefable focused hard and the eagle began to lose altitude, struggling to stay in the air. "Focus blast!"

"Land, Braviary!" With some difficulty, the bird landed, losing only a few feathers to the attack. "Hyper beam!" No time was wasted before going on the offensive again.

"Watch out!" Clefable looked like she intended to dodge, but she suddenly stayed still, a shadowy aura surrounding her. She used a light screen so powerful that when the hyper beam collided with it, it broke apart into smaller beams that faded away. "Clefable?" Ashimi gasped in worry.

Clefable's telekinesis grasped Braviary's form and smashed him against the rocky terrain of the arena. She repeated the motion a few times while the bird cried out unable to escape. She held him in place, feathers flying everywhere with his constant struggle, and finally finished the battle with a powerful focus blast point blank.

"Braviary, return!" Daala recalled her injured fainted pokemon. "It seems you've decided to show your true colors all the way in the league. I'm not about to let that stop me though. Go Houndoom!"

xoxox xox xoxox

While the battle took place, Arrow passed by the exit where the boy whose name no one could remember stood. The green haired teen looked back and went to investigate, purposely heading down the opposite hallway. Arrow returned to the now empty hallway leading to the center of the stadium, bow in hand. The green haired boy, returned, appearing behind the cyan haired archer. "Want to take a shot at the princess?" He released Gyarados from his pokeball, "he might want to take a bite at you."

Arrow chuckled dismissively. "I know very well it wouldn't be that simple. I just want a better look at the battle."

"Fine, but no funny business. The league guards might have let you come this far because you know Lance, but I won't give you any special treatment. Gyarados and I are watching you and this Gyarados was trained by Ashimi herself," he proudly declared. Arrow raised an eyebrow at the announcement, but didn't say anything.

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"It's happening again, but its different this time," Ash realized. "The bond between Ashimi and her pokemon protects her, but it also exposes the pokemon in a similar way to her, it's getting stronger. C'mon Ashimi, balance things out..." Ash hated to admit it, but until he could figure out how to get that thing out of Ashimi, all that could be done was to try to diminish its effects. Stopping the battle wouldn't do any good either. Legend could attack at any moment anyway, and simply chose to have inconvenient timing.

xoxox xox xoxox

Ashimi was more concerned about Clefable than about what pokemon Daala just called out. "Clefable! Are you back to normal? Clefable!" She felt her father's aura nearby and allowed it to soothe her. 'I won't let you use me as a link to my pokemon,' she focused until Legend's influence left Clefable.

"Are you okay?" Out of her trance, the pink pokemon nodded and gave a thumbs up to reassure her trainer, though the look in her eyes made it clear the experience was disturbing. "Take a break now, you'll be alright, return." Though Clefable could still battle, Ashimi couldn't leave her out there after what she went through.

"Are you going to battle or not?" Daala asked impatiently. She would rather express herself beyond words at that point, but with all the snipers around, it was best to show polite patience. Besides, even if Arrow didn't live up to her expectations, she still owed him her promised good behavior for getting her into the league last minute. Badges were not a problem, she still had her old set from Johto, but she didn't have the best track record legally speaking with the twists her vigilantism took at times.

"Lightning, I choose you!" Ashimi sent out her Pikachu to the battle. 'You leave him alone, Legend!' She warned in her mind.

'Don't worry, I will,' Legend's distorted reply echoed in Ashimi's mind. She was surprise it was even talking to her again. 'But only if you fight hard. If you don't win quickly, I'll have to interfere. Why don't you show that move your little Pikachu tried so hard to master, now he's strong enough to do it right. The lightning laser, a move developed by Team Rocket, not found in the wild, only a skilled few electric pokemon get to master it.'

'You want to see it? Fine, I'll show you we're strong without you!' Ashimi focused on the battle again. So far Lightning had been doing little else than dodging fireballs. "Sorry for the wait, let's win this! Thunder wave!" Static flooded the arena, making it hard to move.

"Fire blast!" Houndoom continued shooting flames, struggling against the static that clung to him and hindered his movements.

"Double team!" Lightning dashed around Houndoom speedily, creating the illusion that there were two Pikachus. Ashimi watched for an opportunity and finally called out, "lightning laser!"

'Don't for get to aim for the heart...' Legend mocked.

Houndoom's fire blast hit the false image, while the real Lightning's attack reached him. The canine stumbled in pain that seemed inexplicable given the thin point of light that had hit him. He fell in agony and remained on the ground, breathing heavily.

"Wait, don't make another move yet, Lightning, just keep your guard up." Ashimi took this as an opportunity to show she wasn't the bully everyone assumed she was after her previous battle. Houndoom was conscious, but he wasn't getting up.

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Arrow took a step forward, and was blocked by Gyarados. "Let me pass, I need to see what's wrong with Houndoom."

"You can see just fine from here," the green haired boy snapped.

Arrow clenched his teeth in anger and frustration, but he didn't back down. "Salamence!" The massive dragon emerged from her pokeball, providing Gyarados with an opponent other than her trainer. The two beasts growled, clawing and biting at each other. Arrow took advantage of the distraction and dashed into the stadium.

The green haired boy couldn't chase after the archer with Salamence in the way. Gyarados was very strong, but struggled against the powerful dragon and there wasn't enough room in the already terribly cramped hallway to call out Milotic for backup. "Snipers!" He yelled into his phone, which was set on a communication channel private to the Rockets on security and broadcasted the message to all of them. "Watch out for Arrow!"

Arrow froze as the boy's alarmed shout reached him beyond the growls and roars of the battle. He dropped his bow and arrows and proceeded slowly, keeping his hands where they were clearly visible.

Daala watched as Arrow stepped into the arena while the announcer couldn't help it but to comment his perplexity. She knew something must be terribly wrong. The hit didn't appear to be that bad and she was giving Houndoom a moment to recover when Arrow walked over to the fallen pokemon. Daala held Houndoom's pokeball to recall him, but Arrow shook his head. With growing worry and confusion, Daala stepped down from the trainer's platform and joined Arrow. "What's wrong with him?"

"It looks like Houndoom suffered a minor heart injury. He should be okay, I think, but needs to be kept in observation just in case. This isn't just a ripped muscle or a broken bone, it's internal, so it's sensitive. It's best not to recall him now," Arrow explained.

"But recalling him will help him heal," Daala petted her pokemon gently, wishing she could take away his pain. "The mechanism in the pokeball can speed up tissue regeneration and even slow internal bleeding."

"He's not bleeding," Arrow clarified, "and the last thing you want right now is for his heart tissue to regenerate too fast. Trust me," he insisted. Daala finally nodded quietly and helped Arrow carry Houndoom away.

Ashimi watched in disbelief. "What just happened?" The announcer gave her the victory because her opponent forfeited the match, but she didn't feel victorious at all.

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Later, Ashimi ran into the medical facilities at the stadium with Lightning in her arms. Houndoom was on a bed. Laiki was there, Daala glared angrily and Arrow stood in a corner leaning against the wall, with his arms crossed and eyes closed as if in deep thought. Salamence was back in her pokeball and his bow and arrows were on his back.

Daala glanced at Ashimi with a hateful look then continued what she was about to say, as if the redhead wasn't even there. "Why can't Joy do this?"

Arrow sighed, as if he was tired of trying to reason with her, but couldn't find it in himself to blame her for her worries. "She's a Rocket, but she's also a skilled doctor who knows a lot more than any Joy."

"More than all the Joys put together," Laiki grumbled in annoyance. Yes, she was a Rocket, no she didn't have the obligation to help Houndoom. If Scarlett had not stopped by earlier and personally requested her help, Laiki would have told them to take their precious Houndoom and go fish. Yet she did help them, even if it was for someone else's sake, so they could try to be civil, they were the ones that needed her after all, not the other way around.

Arrow didn't acknowledge the doctor's comment and continued. "Furthermore, she knows exactly what this is, most Joys wouldn't have experience dealing with this kind of thing."

"You know," Daala interrupted.

"I've only heard about it," Arrow clarified. "Plus I'm no doctor, all I know how to do is basic first aid and this is well beyond that."

Ashimi left the vigilantes to their conversation and turned her attention to Laiki for the time being. "What happened?"

"Nothing too serious," Laiki smiled. "Lightning laser was developed to be used on machines, though it has peculiar effects on muscles. It can internally burn tissue to fuse it together, cause superficially invisible, but quite annoying internal scarring, and it can even damage vital organs. If the heart tissue had fused together completely, it would be very hard for the heart to pump blood and it might stop all together."

"Since the attack wasn't maintained for long, the tissue was pushed apart by the natural flow of blood before it could be forced to fuse," Laiki explained. "In other words, the pipes of the valve, were not narrowed or blocked. Houndoom will make a full recovery, provided no unnecessary troubles arise." By that she referred more so to Daala's behavior than to Houndoom's possible health issues.

Ashimi felt her eyes water, but she didn't allow herself to cry. Lightning looked up at her with pained discomfort. "It's not your fault," she assured him. "I shouldn't have asked you to use that power. I'm sorry," she hugged the Pikachu tightly. "Daala, Arrow, I know you may not believe me, but I didn't mean for any of your pokemon to be seriously hurt. I'm sorry, I really am."

"I don't believe you," Daala growled coldly. Arrow remained silent, as if he had not heard, but everyone knew he had.

"Don't waste your breath, princess, these ingrates are not worth it." Laiki walked to the door. "I think I've done enough to accomplish Scarlett's request. If anything comes up, call Joy," the doctor left the infirmary.

Ashimi knew that no matter what she said, she wouldn't be able to change what happened or convince them of her sincerity, so she quietly left.

After Laiki and Ashimi were gone, Daala inquired. "What's your angle, I still don't get you. You help people and pokemon but you don't mess with Team Rocket. I thought you were just cowardly, but you put your life on the line back there for Houndoom. You challenged a Rocket guard and you knew there were snipers ready to kill you at any second when you stepped into the center of the stadium."

"I don't mess with Team Rocket because it's too big and it can't be taken down without an organization on its level to counter it. Of course, Team Rocket won't allow such an organization to form. I had my hopes set on Ash's daughter changing things, just as Lance did. Lance still has hope, but I lost mine. Dragonite is in Scarlett's care now. I'll go back to the way things were, training pokemon for a while, then releasing them so they can take care of their comrades in the wild. I'll return the Exeggutor you left in my care if you want, but you can keep Braviary. I'll release Jumpluff and Yanmega, then it'll be just Salamence and me again, just like old times, yet different."

"You can release Exeggutor, he belonged to a friend and keeping him would only bring back memories. You caught your other pokemon, for the league, didn't you? I suppose you were always more so a vigilante than a pokemon master hopeful. You should have used Salamence in battle from the start. She's on a whole different level than the rest of your pokemon." Arrow made no reply and Daala looked at him with intense curiosity as she continued. "You said you lost hope in Ash's daughter and what do you mean by different?"

Arrow looked at Daala, she already knew what he was talking about, but he answered anyway. "I'll take her down and end Giovanni's bloodline."

xoxox xox xox

Ashimi returned to her room where her parents and friends were waiting. She had wanted to check on Daala's pokemon by herself and apologize. She had been meaning to apologize to Arrow as well, though she wasn't truly expecting either of them to accept her apologies. She couldn't really tell them the full story. It would complicate things too much if too many people who didn't need to be involved knew.

"I apologized," Ashimi announced. "They were mad at me," she petted Lightning gently, "but I expected it. Anyway," she let out a tired breath that was very unlike her. "I've decided to quit the Indigo League." She watched as everyone reacted with surprise, but remained silent to let her finish speaking. "I know you didn't expect me to decide that, but you were going to suggest it, right dad?" Ash could only nod in affirmation. "Being with my pokemon helps me stay strong, so battling wouldn't be a problem, if not for the possibility of my pokemon being taken over. Now that we know that can happen, I understand that it's best not to take the risk."

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox


Chapter 39: Legend

After leaving the Indigo Plateau, Ashimi visited Pallet Town to try to relax. Misty had temporarily left the Cerulean gym in the care of Daisy's eldest son, while Ash attempted to find a way to free his daughter. At the living room in Gary's house, Ash and his childhood friend were discussing the happenings over coffee. "Your coffee is always amazing," Ash put down his cup and sighed, wishing that the warm liquid could ease him more than just momentarily.

"It comes from years of practice doing research late into the night," Gary replied. "Speaking of which, you look like you haven't slept in days."

"Not since the league..." Ash admitted. The Indigo League was still going on, though Gary knew what he meant.

"That was four days ago, you won't be able to do much like this," Gary frowned. "Take my word for it, after the second day, the brain turns to mush and doesn't recover until you sleep, no matter how much caffeine you have in your system."

"I know, but..." Ash trailed into silence, if he was just going over the same scarce ancient texts that he had already checked before, maybe he should instead use that time to recover his energy and be refreshed enough to perceive every detail of the material Misty went to get. "You're right, I should take a nap, wake me up when Misty gets back from Viridian."

Giovanni had continued the research missions and whenever the Rockets discovered something that could be related to the aura, they would report it to him. The Rocket boss would then call Ash to have a look and figure out if the artifact in question was genuine, rather than just old, and how useful to his studies of the aura it could be.

Misty had volunteered to get the new material, though it took longer than she thought. What was recovered turned out to be degraded pieces of yellowed paper that had to be pieced together and scanned, as the original articles were too fragile to be handled without the proper tools and care.

"Sure, you can-" Gary fell silent as he realized that Ash didn't even try to make it to a bed and was already sleeping while sitting on the couch.

xoxox xox xoxox

Outside, Ashimi looked over the vast land of the Oak research lab and pokemon reserve. She brushed Furball, grooming his shiny coat to perfection. "You didn't miss much, really, the battle with grandpa was way better than the Indigo League." Gary's young son, petted the feline cheerfully. "Soft like a plushie, isn't he?" Ashimi smiled.

She noticed something in the sky, a Salamence with a human rider. The dragon was intercepted by a Fearow, Pidgeot and Magnezone, all three carrying their respective trainers. The Salamence landed and was recalled, the trainer let at sword-point towards her. Ash felt bad about Johnny, so he got him another sword to replace the one he broke.

"Arrow," Ashimi voiced unsure. She wasn't expecting to see him again, let alone so soon. She could ask her friends to relent, but she knew they wouldn't.

"What, no tanks?" Arrow asked sarcastically. He felt the cold edge of the sword against his neck, but refused to acknowledge it.

Ashimi wasn't in the mood for a back and forth, so she went straight to the point. "Why are you here?"

"I had to see you for the final time, to see what kind of person you are," Arrow replied in a critical tone.

"I am... unavailable right now, maybe some other time..." Ashimi turned away and continued brushing Furball.

"You heard her," Volt half growled.

"Time to get lost," Jonathan added.

"What are you hiding?" Arrow insisted.

"Your corpse if you don't leave." Dorme held on to his temporarily confiscated bow and arrows.

"I should have known that coming here was useless. Farewell, Rocket princess, may your loyal bodyguards watch over you," Arrow walked away, his goodbye wasn't just sarcasm, it was a warning. He knew the lasers in the atmosphere must be active, along with satellite surveillance. He knew he was locked on the second he got close to Pallet Town, even before Ashimi's trio of guards stopped him. But she couldn't live like that all the time, there had to be a moment when the Rocket empire lowered its guard and he would cease the moment, even if it cost him his life. He paused for a moment and looked back when Ashimi's loud voice echoed.

'The Rocket princess, that's all you are, if not for your heritage they wouldn't give you a second glance,' Legend mocked, the twisted voice echoing in Ashimi's mind.

"Stop it!" She yelled, "that's not true you liar!" She breathed heavily as rage mixed with fear that it was right overtook her.

The little boy beside her cried out and Ashimi returned to her senses. "It's okay sweetie, I'm not mad at you. I wasn't yelling at you, I'm sorry I startled you." The boy quieted, but doubt and distrust filled his big green eyes and he dashed away. "Wait, don't go!"

"I'll get him," Dorme handed Volt the bow and arrows then ran after the young toddler, she caught up to him and picked him up. He seemed to be okay now.

Ashimi sighed, now even children would be afraid of her. Furball rubbed against her legs to comfort her while the rest of her pokemon arrived from playing with the other pokemon in the Oak land, having rushed over when they heard her scream. "I'm okay everyone, really..."

"Move," Jonathan ordered.

Arrow kept walking, he has seen enough anyway and now he found an explanation for Ashley's strange behavior. He was escorted by Jonathan and Volt out of Pallet Town. The vigilante didn't try to turn back, he knew he wouldn't make it far if he did. Salamence could take on Fearow and Magnezone to knock his escorts out of the sky, but the lasers in the atmosphere would take him out. If it was night time, he could probably see them, glimmering overhead like strange stars. He wondered what Daala would say if she knew the truth, that the direct descendant of the Rocketto mafia was insane.

xoxox xox xoxox

In the living room, Ash found himself in a vast darkness in the world of his dreams.

"The mission was a success," a young man with brown and blond hair spoke to a regal woman. A Persian and a Vulpix stood by his side.

"Barely," the woman pouted lightly. "But it will do, even if you go back again, the rest is out of ours hands."

The blurry vision faded. Ash recognized the boy who once called himself Skye. Now that he was well versed in the aura, he not only remembered him, he knew him, the boy was a descendant of his. The glimpse of the future warned him of a turning point in destiny that not even time travel could resolve should it proceed badly, because if it did, the force would be too strong to be erased by time.

Seeing that dream again, the same dream he had when Ashimi was a newborn, felt different from simply remembering it. Now he could look deeper into it, in ways that a mere memory wouldn't be sufficient to allow. Why would something as powerful as time travel fail? What was the origin of that evil creature known as Legend?

Another series of images came, blurry and fast. A baby glowing with pure white energy, swirls of black surrounding her. The same girl appeared again as a young woman standing on a hill. A large crowd surrounded her, shadowy faceless figures with glowing red Rs on their chests, they raised their hands as if in salute, and the darkness they possessed flowed towards the woman. She received it all and the now dim white that shone around her faded into nothingness. She became a shadow and her eyes glowed red.

Ash stirred in his sleep, but didn't wake up. The second and third parts of the dream replayed, with him noticing more detail each time. The baby, the white light that grew around her, the way the darkness accumulated. Then the woman he knew to be the baby as a young adult, his daughter. Her light faded, consumed by the darkness and Team Rocket was all around. He could only think of his original interpretation, but it couldn't be right, it wasn't Team Rocket that would corrupt Ashimi, it was Legend, but what was Legend?

xoxox xox xoxox

Dorme exited the Oak residence, rejoining her friends outside. Ashimi had sat on the grass absentmindedly staring into the distance. "Our little friend is napping," the blond announced.

"Looks like we have another visitor," Volt looked at the fence that separated the Oak land from Pallet's main road.

Ashimi wasn't really listening to the conversation around her. Jonathan tried tapping her on the shoulder, but she didn't notice. 'You're nothing without your birthright, they'll never see the real you and they wouldn't care if they did. You're Giovanni's granddaughter, you're Ash's daughter, but you're nothing on your own.' Legend wouldn't shut up and Ashimi didn't know how to stop it. Worse yet, she couldn't bring herself to complain anymore because she kept thinking that it was telling the truth this time.

A Gyarados climbed over the fence, his body stretching and dropping to the other side, then moving forward like a snake. The boy on his back hopped off and thanked the pokemon for the ride, then recalled him into his pokeball. He rushed over to join the group around Ashimi. "Hey everyone!" He went down on one knee in front of the spot where Ashimi sat. "Lady Misty, Lady Delia and Lord Giovanni himself will be arriving here very soon." Seeing as she made no response, he continued. "Is there anything you need, princess?"

"Don't..." Ashimi's blank face suddenly gained an expression of anger. "Don't call me princess!" A burst of shadowy energy emerged from her and went into the pokemon closest to her at the time, Furball. The feline's form grew larger, but this was no ordinary Persian, his eyes were glowing red, his fur turned pitch black and his claws and fangs grew much larger than normal.

A helicopter landed nearby and Giovanni exited, his attention caught by the spectacle. Furball tackled the green haired boy, but only to get him out of the way as he dashed towards Giovanni. "Stop this at once!" Giovanni shouted in his most commanding tone, with a fiery fearless glare that left no question about who the boss was.

Furball stopped cold as the swirls of shadowy energy left him and his fur regained its natural light shade. His fangs still protruded from his mouth and his claws were still very long, but his eyes looked normal, genuine, conscious. The shadowy energy retreated into Ashimi, causing her to yelp in a mix of surprise and pain. She shook as if assaulted by a sudden fear, then a terrible burning rage.

Ashimi closed her eyes tightly, shutting off the world around her. When her senses refocused, she could perceive whispers of comforting words and the familiarity of her mother's arms. "Mom... Grandma... Grandpa..."

"What was that?" Giovanni questioned. His two Persians were with him, though Purry thought the evolution was pretty cool and was more likely to congratulate her son than to worry.

"Furball!" Ashimi gasped. She broke away from the protective embrace and held her now evolved pokemon. "Does it hurt? Are you okay? I think it left you... I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" She held him with tears in her eyes, petting his soft fur. Furball tried to comfort his trainer, to tell her that everything would be okay and that he wasn't hurt.

Ashimi slowly lifted her head and met Giovanni's questioning eyes. "It was afraid for a second, Legend... Then it was as if it remembered that it no longer answered to you and it was angry."

"No longer?" Misty questioned with sudden urgency.

"I don't understand," Ashimi admitted. "It just felt that way."

"How is that even possible?" Giovanni thought aloud, "they've found nothing..."

"Let's see what Ash has to say..." Misty breathe. The possibility of Legend being something linked to Giovanni's past was a point she brought up, though that conversation ended abruptly due to unexpected circumstances.

xoxox xox xoxox

Earlier, Misty had arrived at the Viridian Rocket headquarters to personally pick up deliver the top secret documents related to the aura to Ash, or rather, the information retrieve from them. While they were being prepared, she went to see Delia.

Misty found Delia at the hall in front of Giovanni's door, with a cell phone, just finishing a call. "Thank you, Lance, I'll let Ash know." Though there was nothing new to say, as the elders insisted on blaming Team Rocket, albeit they said, 'the evil of Team Rocket' rather than simply 'Team Rocket' and Lance pointed out the importance of that phrasing, indicating that Team Rocket, even if it did control the world, didn't necessarily need to be seen as a force of evil.

Delia hung up and turned her attention to Misty, sharing the information Lance just gave her, which was more so a recap of what Ash had been told long ago. "I'm going to check on a few things, you go right in, make yourself at home, there's cookies and tea."

Before Misty could protest, Delia had opened the door to Giovanni's office and gently guided her inside, closing the door after her. Misty's ears were assaulted by the Rocket boss loud voice, which culminated with the slamming of the phone accompanied by a sickening crack that meant it was now broken. Misty stood frozen, rooted to the spot with a deerling caught in the headlights expression.

"What is it?" Giovanni growled impatiently. "Do you have something to say?"

Misty swallowed hard, Giovanni always made her nervous. He was her father-in-law and that perhaps concerned her more than the fact that he was the boss of Team Rocket. "Yes," Misty summoned her courage and asked about something that was bothering her. She had not planned to confront Giovanni, but she was there, so she might as well make use of the opportunity. "Do you know anything about Legend? Something related to Team Rocket, something supernatural?"

"I haven't messed with the supernatural in years, not since before Ashimi's birth," Giovanni replied with little patience. Ash had explained why he never told him of the prophecy until now. He thought Giovanni might let it happen if it made Team Rocket more powerful. "I have paranormal researchers on the job just in case anyway. Is that all you wanted to say?"

Misty's head was pounding. She already had a headache when she arrived, but now it was at a point where it was impossible to ignore. She had gotten no rest since the Indigo League incident and had little appetite. She felt a wave of dizziness hit her, but it wasn't the first, so she ignored it as she had before. She wanted to say something else, but her thoughts were muddled by the ache in her head and the numbness in her limbs, so she could only think of sitting down. "I... Can I..."

Giovanni noticed something was off. He stood, walking around his desk with a look of questioning impatience. If she was just babbling, even if she was his daughter-in-law, she was about to get an earful. "What?" He snapped, tired of the sudden silence, and she promptly fainted.

Giovanni caught Misty and deposited her into the nearest chair as carefully as possible. He reached for the phone on his desk to find a broken mess, which he threw across the room. Misty woke with the noise and looked around disoriented. She recalled where she was and struggled to her feet. "The documents..." She shook her head in an effort to clear it. "Excuse me," she stumbled for the door, gripping the handle for support.

"You're obviously ill," Giovanni observed sternly, but he wasn't yelling anymore.

Misty shook her head, "it's just exhaustion, but right now there's no time to-" another wave of dizziness assaulted her and she clenched her teeth as she fought it off. She gripped the door knob tightly and let herself out.

"Go to the infirmary," Giovanni ordered.

Misty shook her head, suddenly feeling stubborn, her mood wasn't any better than his after all. "I don't have time for that. I'm going to help, I'm going to make sure Ashimi is okay."

Delia return with a case holding a small data chip inside. "The documents are ready... Misty, are you alright, sweetie?" She frowned and eyed her husband, "Giovanni didn't yell at you, did he?"

"She fainted," Giovanni informed. "Take her to a doctor."

"Of course!" Delia placed a gentle hand on Misty's arm, "let's go, dear."

Misty pouted and glared. Giovanni knew that if he sent anyone else to escort her, she would slip away, but she didn't have the heart to disappear on Delia and leave her to worry. "I'm fine, really," the redhead insisted. "I should be taking the data to Ash." It wasn't to be transmitted wirelessly due to its rare nature, not that many could interpret it anyway, better safe than sorry. Besides, Giovanni had his suspicions about a certain group, who would be best left in the dark if they truly didn't already know. Ash didn't want to be far from Ashimi and he didn't want to take her out of the calming environment of the Oak land.

"Sweetie, if Giovanni of all people is sending you to see a doctor, then you're going to see a doctor," Delia's voice was gentle yet she spoke with finality. "Besides, I didn't have the chance to take a good look before, but you're clearly more than just tired. Have you been eating properly?"

Misty sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. "No," she admitted. "I've been very stressed and it's making me nauseous."

"You can't take care of Ashimi if you don't take care of yourself," Delia reminded. "She doesn't need to worry about her mother's health on top of everything."

"I know..." Misty massaged her temples. "Let's just make it quick."

xoxox xox xoxox

In the Oak living room, Ash was submerged in a deep sleep. The woman in his dream was Ashimi, but she was older. That part of the dream didn't correspond to the present and it wasn't exactly the future either, but a possible future. He began to realize that the two portions of the dream that took place in the future, near and far, were indicative of the same thing. The future would come, it was inevitable. The light... The darkness... There was something more about that, he almost had it... Then he jolted awake.

Ash saw Gary as he went out, though the researcher was focused on the helicopter and didn't notice Ash was awake. Ash saw the change in Furball and how the evil energy retreated from Giovanni, but only the small portion that was in Furball. Then it hit him, he had the last piece of the puzzle. The dragon elders had been right, it was Team Rocket, the evil of Team Rocket, and it was inevitable.

Ash rushed out, he accompanied his daughter inside, with Misty on her other side, Delia not far behind and her pokemon all around. He calmed Ashimi's aura and suggested taking a nap. Though Ashimi wasn't normally the type to nap, she agreed, just to get away from everything in slumber. Her pokemon crowded around her in Gary's guest room and her friends were there as well.

With a bitter silence, Ash received the new information and studied it. His findings provided the final clarification and that only made him feel worse.

xoxox xox xoxox

That night... "Of all the places to sit," Giovanni looked up out the window of what once was Ash's room.

"I'm not coming down," Ash called back stubbornly, he needed to be alone to organize his thoughts and Pikachu's quiet presence beside him was the only company he was willing to tolerate. Giovanni responded by retracing his son's steps and climbing onto the roof of the small house. Ash sighed, "you expect me to talk."

"After coming all the way here, you better," Giovanni confirmed. "Misty asked about Team Rocket's involvement in the super natural even if we had already talked about it after the league. Delia spoke with Lance and got a repetition of what you told me after the league, but there's more to it and something tells me you just solved the puzzle."

"I did," Ash admitted, "but I can't blame you, because if I do I'll have to blame myself too. I don't think Sabrina was trying to be evil, but she did choose the sacrifice that would be made and I can't accept that. Maybe we really are alike. I mean, I've never thought about ruling the world, but if I must choose between the world and my loved ones, I wouldn't play the hero, I'm not that noble. Sabrina set things up for the evil to be slain and I'm worried she'll come back to finish the job."

"Details," Giovanni insisted, "explain it so that it makes sense, no more missing pieces."

Ash nodded and took a deep breath. "Team Rocket has done many things. All the consequences, all the negative energy, it will stay until it is balanced out, and while it stays, it will serve as a negative influence. Don't you think it's strange how Team Rocket has developed? You'd think we should have more than a handful of vigilantes protesting. The general public has accepted Team Rocket and the fear is fading. Team Rocket's rule is beginning to be perceived as normal, why isn't there more bitterness? Where has all the negativity gone?"

"Legend..." Giovanni realized. "Legend is the legendary Team Rocket, or the consequence of it. It's a supernatural manifestation... That's why that power retreated from that furball, it responded to me when it was in a small quantity, but the amount that resides in Ashimi won't listen to me."

"Exactly, while it was spread out in the hearts of many, I couldn't sense it because it's normal for some darkness to reside in the hearts of people, no living creature in this world is pure good or pure evil. Then when it got to Ashimi, it hid behind her own presence. That explains my dream," Ash briefly went over the three parts of the dream briefly, then elaborated.

"The people of the far future can't do anything about this with time travel, because this is destined to happen as long as Team Rocket exists. They wouldn't want to get rid of Team Rocket, plus even if they did, the world would meet a worse fate, since Team Rocket did contribute to many things that turned out to be vital, including Pokerus. It's ironic, but in one way or another, without Team Rocket's influence, pokemon could be extinct, the world could fall under the rule of a different force, who knows what could happen..."

"At least we agree that Team Rocket is necessary, albeit for different reasons," Giovanni voiced.

"The negative energy is still an issue though. If it got out of hand Team Rocket will be so hated it wouldn't be able to maintain its rule. That's the third part of the dream, an older Ashimi rising to power, a possible future that will never be, because she won't obtain that evil from Team Rocket in the future, she has it now. That part of the vision indicates that facing that evil is inevitable." Ash fell silent, the next part was very hard to explain.

Giovanni ended the silence and prompted, "and the part with the baby?"

"No one is pure good or pure evil... Except a pure good newborn child or a pure evil supernatural manifestation, but neither remains pure for long." Ash continued with difficulty. "The vision, if I had interpreted it correctly from the start, would have given me a choice. The first part told me that I had to choose or destiny would choose. The second and third parts were the options. Do nothing and have the evil fade through the generations. Team Rocket could still be salvaged then, possibly by a future leader, but each leader would have to do their part, a reminder that facing this was indeed inevitable. The Rocket rule would be filled with battles and wars. Negativity and positivity are attracted to their opposite, but only in hopes of consuming it. It would have been hard, and both the Rockets and the world would suffer through the generations, but in the end, I think things would settle into a prosperous kingdom."

"The other option was to make Ashimi remain pure good for a period of time longer than normal. Even children have mischief, the smallest specks to balance their purity. Yet Ashimi was always so innocent, if she got into mischief it wasn't out of real mischief, but because she was playing and honestly didn't think she was doing anything she shouldn't. She never lied, she always trusted. I thought she was just a little sheltered, but that it would be okay because she would mature at her own pace through her journey."

Ash's voice caught in his throat. "I thought the dream was telling me, do this or suffer the consequences, but it was actually telling me to choose a consequence and I chose the worse one. I studied the aura, I tried to protect Ashimi, to purify her energy. She was filled with so much goodness that she connected with pokemon easily and attracted success. But because she was imbalanced, she was also a magnet for evil. Yet as long as she remained pure good, it couldn't touch her."

"It was inevitable though. No matter what I do, kids grow up, they get angry, jealous, frustrated and that's normal. But the darkness hiding in all the hearts connected to Team Rocket, directly or not, had already been attracted to her light. When that insignificant little bit of darkness appeared, it opened the door. Don't you see?" Ash snapped in self directed anger.

"This evil could have been diminished through the generations. But I used my aura to purify hers, I told her they were just relaxation techniques, but I thought I was saving her. Instead of saving her what I did was choose to sacrifice her. Instead of the evil being diminished through the generations, it all collected in her. If it takes over completely, the evil side of Team Rocket will be personified through Ashimi, her very soul will be consumed with no hope of reincarnation, and Legend is clinging to her so much that I can't remove it."

Ash's voice almost failed him as he confessed, "I don't know what to do." Tears rolled down his face. "If only I knew about those documents sooner, they held a warning related to the text I studied years ago, about balance and the consequences of extremes."

As Ash went on, several details stood out to Giovanni. "Team Rocket is destined to rule the world as its kingdom with what you just explained in the first part of your dream. It'll be easier for the world if it's purified now, rather than through the generations. In any state that it may be, I will not dissolve Team Rocket. Yet that future doesn't guarantee Ashimi's survival because she is not your only descendant."

"I'm so terrible, I was so caught up in thinking I failed that I didn't realize Misty wasn't taking care of herself." Giovanni could point out that Ash was in the same state, but he remained silent and didn't interrupt. "When Misty told me she was pregnant I just about fell apart, but I couldn't tell her I doomed Ashimi, so I put up an act and avoided her. When I realized what I had done, I held on to the future for hope. If those people, the woman and her son, were my distant descendants then Ashimi had to have lived. But now I don't know, there's no way to tell, they could be the distant descendants of Ashimi's sibling. If that's the case then there would be no paradox even if she..." Even if she died, though he dared not voice the word.

"I find it peculiar that the documents containing the warning resurfaced now, as if to provide some kind of clue on how to defeat Legend by knowing what it is," Giovanni pointed out. His suspicions about that certain group resurfaced. There was no use in trying to keep them in the dark, they already knew, they knew so much more than they pretended to know. "How could my agents missed such an artifact for so long, how could everyone miss it? Who gave you the first portion?"

Ash's eyes widened as his train of thought let him somewhere dark. "Lance... But he wouldn't purposely give me incomplete information. Even if Ashimi's sacrifice might be better for the world, he has a daughter too, he would understand." Before Giovanni could present an argument, Ash reached another realization. "The elders!" He could feel his heart beats quicken as he reached conclusions. "I've never spoken to them, they always communicate through Lance. If they tricked Lance, he would believe he's being honest and I wouldn't sense any traps from him."

"They knew Team Rocket's rule was inevitable, so they sped up the path to a prosperous kingdom by gathering all the negativity in one place and setting things up for a showdown," Giovanni concluded in anger. "They're giving you clues expecting you to slay the evil, because they know you're the only one strong enough to do it. If her soul is consumed she will not reincarnate, but it has not been consumed yet."

Ash's expression became horrified, "they want me to kill her. They want me to sacrifice her life to kill the evil and save her soul. No two lifetimes are the same, I can't just throw her to the afterlife and hope next time goes better. Plus her soul might be injured in the process and I don't even want to think of what consequences that would bring, consequences that could last for countless lifetimes."

"I'll order an expedition to the dragon temple immediately," the fire in Giovanni's eyes was fierce. This would not be a mere investigation, in would be a severe punishment.

"No," Ash ordered darkly. "Don't make Team Rocket's deeds worse, it'll all go back to Ashimi. Team Rocket can't be involved, you as it's leader can't be involved. I'll be the one to carry the consequences. Misty's sharp, I managed to make her drop the questions because she was tired, but tomorrow she'll be full of energy and ready to squeeze every drop of information out of me. I don't want her to do something crazy and your secrecy is about impossible to crack, so I know she won't get anything out of you. Please watch over Ashimi and tell mom to make sure Misty doesn't strain herself, she'll listen to her, mom has her ways to make people listen. I'm going to get some answers, I'll be back soon."

"You'll need back up." Before Ash protested with the same Team Rocket argument, Giovanni specified, "not in the name of Team Rocket."

"You and those who are Rockets are too closely linked to Team Rocket," Ash argued.

"So are you," Giovanni pointed out. "Besides, if the primary reason to do this is because they want to, rather than for Team Rocket, it'll be each individual's karma to carry, not another of Team Rocket's deeds. Plus it's all for the sake of saving Ashimi."

Giovanni's male Persian emerged from the window and climbed up to the roof, declaring his willingness to go on the mission. Furball's evolution and the way everyone kept pointing out how much like Purry he was, further contributed to his determination to get back into the action like he decided after Ashimi and Giovanni's pokemon battle royale. "You want to go?" Giovanni patted the feline's head, "you've been more stubborn than usual lately."

"I'd rather not involve the pokemon," Pikachu protested and Ash had no choice but to add, "except you."

"No pokemon? That doesn't make sense," Giovanni argued. "There are other weapons, but pokemon power will be useful. There will be a lot of security, there won't be much of a chance of getting too far undetected. So basically, you're going to break into the temple and force your way to the elders' chamber, that will require power."

"I'm also going to hold a bunch of old people hostage and extract information from them, by force if necessary and I don't want to ask my pokemon to assist me in torturing the elderly, or anyone for that matter." It felt so strange to say it, but Ash knew that though the way of the aura taught him otherwise, he would lose it when he faced the people that decided sacrificing his daughter would be worth it in the long run. His attention was caught by a light above and he realized he had been so lost in thought he didn't notice Charizard until he was in hearing distance.

The fire pokemon landed and communicated with Ash without problems despite not speaking the human language. "You saw the Indigo League on TV and came to give Chari an earful? I think she learned her lesson... And what do you mean you want in, you weren't even here to hear the whole conversation." Charizard insisted and Ash finally agreed. "We should leave right away, before they start to expect it."

Before anything more could be said, Ash's phone rang as he received a call from Lance. "Ash, sorry to call so late, but I really need to talk to you," the dragon master sounded very worried and angry. "I started to have suspicions and... We've been tricked."

"I know," Ash frowned. "Listen," he spoke seriously. "I'm going to get some answers from the elders. I'll beat them out if I must. Don't get in the way, tell your family to stay away from the temple and get the innocents out. If anyone gets in the way..." Ash didn't finish, but he didn't have to.

There was a long tense silence until Lance finally replied, "I understand."

After hanging up, Ash climbed on Charizard's back along with Pikachu and Persian. "We'll be back soon," he told his father before taking off.

Giovanni watched him go and when he was out of hearing distance he looked into the skies, his eyes locked on what appeared to be a peculiar star, "make sure of that."

xoxox xox xoxox

When the morning came, just as Ash expected, Misty was looking for him. She was planning to dust things off at the house where Ash grew up, so they could get settled in and stay in Pallet for a while, since the town had such a peaceful atmosphere. Delia insisted on helping, filled with the nostalgia of her home of many years.

Giovanni excused Ash, saying he had gone off to discuss a few things with Lance, and hoped the topic would be dropped before everyone gathered for breakfast. Delia, Misty and Laiki, who had arrived late the previous night, had already prepared it. Mostly Delia and Misty, since Laiki was used to buying food and never really cooked.

"Did Ash have a sudden burst of inspiration last night? I woke up in the middle of the night and he wasn't there, so I thought he might have gone out to clear his head. You went after him didn't you?" Misty inquired, already knowing the answer. She began to set plates on the table, handing a bunch to Giovanni.

"Yes," Giovanni replied simply. It made sense that she would think that he was the last to speak to Ash, since he was the only one who knew where he had gone. Yet Misty's attitude seemed different today, rather inquisitive. Giovanni made a note to escape back to the Viridian headquarters before Misty and Delia somehow dragged him into cleaning duties, he had already been half-tricked into helping set the table.

Misty went on about looking forward to hearing Delia's stories about what happened at each corner of the house when Ash was a little boy and about her plans to tell Ashimi, who was currently sleeping in, about her future sibling. Giovanni gave her a questioning look that made her smile, though it was only a half smile weighed down by her worries despite not being aware of the whole situation. "What Ashimi needs right now is to be surrounded by positivity. It's not easy, but I know I need to be strong for her. I also wanted to thank you."

"Thank me?" Giovanni questioned.

"Yes," Misty explained. "I thought I was just nervous because of the Indigo League, but I was meaning to get a pregnancy test just in case my symptoms where more than that. With all that happened I had so much to worry about that I forgot. I know the doctor was just giving me a full check up by standard procedures, but if you hadn't sent me there, I still wouldn't know about the baby. A baby's aura is very small, it hides behind the mother so to speak, so Ash wouldn't notice unless he was specifically looking for it, and even then it's hard to sense. I've been so worried about Ashimi that I disregarded my own health. Pregnant or not, it was going to catch up with me, I might have gotten myself bedridden or maybe lose the baby if I kept that up." She paused a took a deep breath, "so thank you, I know we don't talk often, but I hope to change that."

Giovanni couldn't help it but to wonder if Ash was really exaggerating when he claimed that Misty had the ability to smell secrets. Laiki's green eyes were watching him like a Staraptor and he knew for a fact that she did have a mysterious ability to sense secrets. If he ordered her to do something at headquarters during her day off, she would know for sure something was up, and find out even faster. So instead he waited for Misty to look away as she peeked out of the kitchen to see what was taking so long, and shook his head at Laiki. The blond gave a quick nod, acknowledging the order to remain silent, but it was clear she was dying to know what was going on.

She didn't have a lot of time to dwell on it, as Gary rushed in. "She's gone," everyone's attention immediately focused on the researcher. "Delia went to get Ashimi for breakfast, but she wasn't there. Jonathan, Dorme, Volt and Ashimi's pokemon were on the floor of her room as if they had sleepwalked and fainted. Delia's trying to wake them, they're a bit lightheaded, but otherwise alright."

No sooner had the explanation finished when they all rushed into Ashimi's room. Jonathan, Dorme and Volt were still dizzy, but had managed to sit up, Ashimi's pokemon were in the same condition, along with Nidorino. They were disoriented and could only go on about a strange dream, yet they had no idea where Ashimi could have gone. Jonathan, Dorme and Volt's pokemon had been sleeping inside their pokeballs, which were found on the floor next to their trainers, their condition was no different than the pokemon that were outside.

Giovanni began to question the security team immediately. The satellite surveillance showed no indication of Ashimi leaving and no psychic energy was detected. Then a thought occurred to Giovanni. Legend was immense, it had to be, yet it could hide behind Ashimi's aura. It's powers were clearly growing as Ashimi absorbed more energy, what if it could teleport? It technically wouldn't be psychic energy, it was a type of negative energy that they didn't have the equipment to detect.

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox


Chapter 37: Giovanni calling Zero a glitch is a reference to Vanellope from Wreck it Ralph, since Zero was in part inspired by the Sugar Rush racers and in part by Megaman. The rules of the Indigo League were partially based on the Nuzlocke Challenge. Zero's line "finish him!" Was a reference to Mortal Kombat, since a fatality almost happened. XD I'm sure you've noticed by now, but Chari is rather sadistic.

Chapter 38: Lance's daughter, Scarlett, is named after his daughter from Nafatali's fanfiction series, The Inheritance. Nafatali is rewriting the series as an awesome original steam punk story. Ash's quote: "This is bad, very bad..." is a reference to Bob from Reboot.

Chapter 39: Some parts of Ash's dream were inspired by a certain dream sequence in Blessed Defiance by Rocketlord6485 (which I also recommend.) The talk about Pokerus and the past danger of a pokemon extinction are references to events that take place in Don't Give Me Diamonds.

xoxox xox xoxox


Evazan Embo aka Arrow: A sixteen year old boy from Johto known as a vigilante in his home region. He has cyan hair and honey colored eyes. He generally avoids Team Rocket and sticks to catching small time criminals that slip under the radar, and helping pokemon in the wild as a sort of ranger. This is because he hoped that Ash's daughter would change Team Rocket for the better. He has a deep respect and admiration for Lance. Following the long standing tradition of this story, Evazan's name also comes from Star Wars.
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