Categories > Anime/Manga > Pokemon > Awakening

Part 14

by Milia 0 reviews

Category: Pokemon - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2014-03-13 - 22583 words


Chapter 40: Friends

When Misty had woken up in the middle of the night to find that Ash was gone, she got a glass of water and went back to bed, too tired to figure out where he ran off to. She stopped by the room Ashimi was staying at and she was still there, asleep in a living cocoon formed by her pokemon.

Ashimi must have been taken in the very early morning. Why her friends were unconscious in the room when they were discovered was probably connected to the strange dreams they had, of which they could only remember bits and pieces. The boy whose name no one could remember was found in the same conditions, though he had the poor luck of somehow sleep walking in the wrong direction and ending up outside, he had a slight cold to show for it.

The dreams had all been part of the same one, which put things into perspective for Ashimi, with an unexpected yet intended result. She didn't doubt her friends, but she willingly and knowingly walked into the trap thinking it was best that way.

In the world of dreams, Ashimi's doubts resurfaced. She was nothing but a name, not her own person. Yet in the endless darkness she found several points of light. "My pokemon..." Lightning, Crobat, Clefable, Furball, Chari and Wartortle were all there. "You really don't care about where I came from or what I am, just who I am... Thank you... But do the others feel the same?"

'Why don't we ask them?' Legend's warped voice echoed in the endless nothingness. "Answer the question, Volt, you were never fond of Team Rocket. You never liked the elusive Ashley either, you couldn't wait to beat her if she ever dared to set foot in your gym."

Volt heard the voice in his dreams and couldn't help it but to answer with his true thoughts. "I hated Team Rocket and its heir... But I don't anymore. Team Rocket is inevitable and even necessary, we need to make it the best it could be. I misjudged Ashimi like I misjudged my brother. I didn't know them, but now I do. Since our battle, I've realized Ashimi is different from what I thought, different in a good way."

"You had no choice but to put up with her, the same as Team Rocket and Electro!" Legend argued.

"That's not true!" Volt defended. "I have a choice and I choose to see past what people are, I choose to look at who they are!"

"Volt... I'm very happy to hear that, thank you," Ashimi smiled and her dream didn't seem so bad anymore. "It looks like you were wrong, Legend."

"Genesis, tell us why you are even here. It is to serve your precious princess and climb the ranks, isn't it? That is the only reason why you acknowledge her!" Legend taunted, sure that it would work this time.

"I can't be called by my real name even in dreams..." The green haired boy sighed. "What is this voice in my head? It can't be my own thoughts because I know my own name. But it does kind of sound like my thoughts except it's not like that anymore. Ashimi is a kind person, right now I could be at headquarters continuing my training and signing up for missions. I would probably make more progress that way, but I would rather be standing by at Pallet because my friend Ashimi is there. I didn't think the Rocket princess was capable of such kindness to someone like me, but she's different from what I expected. I don't have to bend backwards serving her to climb the ranks and I don't care about that anymore. I'm here to make sure my friend is okay."

"You really don't care about rank anymore?" Ashimi was a bit surprised. "Thank you, Ceodore, though that's probably not your name either, I still appreciate that you're here. What are you trying to prove, Legend?"

Legend didn't reply and instead moved on. "Dorme, why don't you tell us how much you despise Ashley. She was always treated in a special way because she's Giovanni's granddaughter, she's your rival even if you're so much better than her. You don't have to tolerate her here in the world of your dreams. You can show your true feelings, you hate her, don't you?"

"Not anymore..." Dorme's voice was quiet at first, then became stronger as she went on. "I thought Ashimi was a pest and I wished she would just go away. But she didn't even try to become my rival, I was the one who declared her as such. We've become true friends now. She's not a spoiled brat, I just didn't know the real Ashimi before, she's actually very nice. If she wasn't the Rocket princess we might have become friends sooner, but I guess we were simply meant to be good friends because it happened anyway."

"Thank you, Dorme, you're a true friend. It's over, Legend, you're not going to make me doubt. Your plan backfired," Ashimi tried to push Legend's influence away, but there was still one more left.

"What about your dear knight? He met you all those years ago only because his parents dragged him off to see the princess. If you weren't the Rocket princess, he wouldn't be so loyal to you. He'll never see you for who you are, he'll only see the princess and nothing more," Legend mocked.

"That's..." Ashimi wanted to say that it wasn't true, but she couldn't find her voice.

"That's not true at all," Jonathan replied instead. "When I was a small child, I was taken to see a princess and I had a very childish view of what the princess would be like. I waited for a while for the princess to fulfill my expectations, but then I realized that she never would. I got over that first impression years ago. Then I left, I told myself I was being silly to waste my time playing with that girl who was just like an ordinary girl more so than a fairytale princess," Jonathan recalled.

Ashimi found herself remembering that time as well. She didn't see Jonathan for a long time and wondered why he didn't play with her anymore. Then he came back one day. "Where did you go? I missed you! Don't you want to be my friend anymore?" She could almost hear the words from her younger self.

"Then I went back because I realized that I had fun hanging out with Ashy just the way she was. I went back because I wanted to and I stayed because I wanted to. The whole princess and knight thing is just an inside joke between two close friends. Even if she had been someone else, even if we haven't met all those years ago, we would still somehow get to where we are today, I just know it."

"Johnny... Thank you for always being there for me, I'll never have these doubts again!" Ashimi focused on fighting off Legend and shattering his hold on her pokemon and friends. Her friends' pokemon were there as well, giving her their support.

Ashimi woke up from her sleep to find her friends and pokemon fainted on the floor. The green haired boy was missing, but she imagined that he should be in the same conditions as the others. Their life aura was stressed. "I'm hurting you all..." Ashimi removed Zero's data crystal and placed it in the fainted Nidorino's paws. "I'm sorry Zero, I understand now how I was hurting you. I don't want to be used as a hostage either. If I was out of the way, Legend could be defeated."

Legend's presence once again crept up from the depths of her mind. 'Do you really believe that?'

'Legend...' Ashimi made a choice. 'You wanted me to think my friends didn't care, you wanted me to doubt them and run away. I still have a hold on this vessel, you can't move it with complete freedom without my permission. I will leave, but not because I doubt my loved ones, it's because I trust them. If I'm out of the way, they'll defeat you, so go on, kick me out of my own body, leave me as a ghost.'

'I'd much rather consume your soul,' Legend hungrily replied.

'You never will,' Ashimi shot back. 'You're underestimating them again, my friends, my pokemon, my family, I won't be a hostage anymore and they will defeat you.'

'We can at least agree on one thing,' Legend voiced in its usual distorted tone. 'There is no reason to remain here.' With an energy that wasn't quite psychic and didn't truly belong to any element wielded by pokemon, Legend's shadowy power surrounded Ashimi and she disappeared.

xoxox xox xoxox

In the morning, everyone was in a rush looking for Ashimi. As soon as Chari was awake enough to fly, she dashed out with Lightning, Wartortle, Clefable, Furball and Nidorino on her back. It might have been a lot to carry, but she was strong and filled with unbreakable determination. Crobat flew beside the group, all of them heading into the distance, following their instinct to try to find Ashimi.

Jonathan, Dorme and Volt rushed outside, calling out Fearrow, Pidgeot and Magnezone respectively. "Wait for me!" The green haired boy called after them.

"Where are you going? You haven't answered my questions!" Giovanni shouted after them.

"Sorry boss, but we don't have the answers!" Jonathan took off on Fearow.

"We'll report it if we find out anything!" Volt added, taking off on Magnezone.

"Reno will stay here and do whatever is needed!" Dorme left as well.

"Who's Reno?" The green haired boy asked. "Wait, you mean me? Don't leave me with the boss when he's angry!"

"I don't know where they're going, but I have some things to look into." Giovanni spoke into his cell phone, Maverick, the jet." A small and fast jet descended from the skies, controlled by the Porygon-Z who had been transferred to the satellite after the battle. "Delia, take care of Team Rocket and don't do anything I wouldn't do." Giovanni boarded the jet and took off.

"Where are you going?" Delia's question was left without an answer.

"Can somebody tell me what's going on, why everyone is leaving and where they're going? Where is my daughter? Why isn't anyone telling me anything?" Misty fumed. "Answer me, Fratley!"

"I don't know!" The boy whose name everyone always got wrong, cried out as he backed away.

"I don't know why Giovanni left me in charge all of a sudden, but if I'm the boss for now, I might as well go to the Viridian headquarters and ask some questions," Delia decided. "Misty, I'm making you my second in command, let's go!"

"Right, the main surveillance team is at Viridian, we should be able to get some answers there." Misty agreed, "and they better have answers!"

Laiki sighed and shook her head, "there goes my day off. Team Rocket is sure to end up with a shortage in both human and pokemon doctors when they're through."

xoxox xox xoxox

As Ash approached the dragon temple with Charizard, Pikachu and Persian, he was intercepted by Lance, who rode on his Dragonite. "Were you just planning to charge in?" The dragon master inquired.

"Pretty much," Ash admitted. He could tell by the aura that Lance was not there to stop him, but he would likely want to keep an eye on things.

"I can only imagine how you feel right now," The dragon master spoke quietly. "But because of Scarlett I can understand in a way. I misled most of the trainers that were at the temple. The place has few guards now. No doubt about it you will be refused an audience, so..."

"Less people will get in the way, which means less will be hurt," Ash finished.

"Is anyone else coming?" Lance cautiously asked.

"No," without another word Ash headed towards the temple and landed in front of it. He didn't recall any of the pokemon, Pikachu never really went into his pokeball, Charizard didn't technically have an official trainer and Persian was Giovanni's pokemon.

Upon approaching the temple they found two people already waiting there. "Took you long enough," Comet greeted.

"Comet, Pixel, what are you two doing here?" Ash asked in surprise. "Team Rocket wasn't supposed to be involved!"

"It's not," Pixel replied and Ash noted that neither of them was wearing a uniform.

"This is, shall we say... family business," Comet added.

"We were waiting for you and I see you added one more to the party," Pixel observed.

"Ready to go in?" Comet asked.

"Let's do this," Ash agreed, he didn't even bother asking how they got there first, they were Rockets, they had their ways, even if they weren't there as Rockets today. The four of them proceeded inside, along with the three pokemon, though Lance recalled Dragonite for the moment.

Most of the temple was clear, but it was only a matter of time before a confrontation occurred. They approached a large hall with marble statues of several dragon type pokemon. At the end of the hall there were double doors adorned with gold that led to the inner chamber. "This is as far as we can go without facing any guards." Lance warned as he entered a number into the keypad next to the door and slid in a card. The doors did not open. "I guess that shouldn't surprise me."

"Not a problem," Pixel stepped forward. "Prism, do you read me?" The Porygon-Z replied from the satellite though only Pixel heard her. "Just barely... Okay, time to do some hacking."

"I thought that Team Rocket wasn't going to be so directly involved," Lance observed.

"It's not," Comet assured. "We're just borrowing some equipment, but the boss didn't give us any orders."

"Then how is it that you're here?" Ash inquired.

"Prism overheard a certain conversation and told Pixel about it," Comet explained. "No one else knows, no one whose only reason to be here might be Team Rocket, we have stronger reasons to be here."

Despite his earlier arguments and the logic about not involving Team Rocket, Ash didn't feel uneasy about their presence. "That's true, if your reasons to be here for yourselves are stronger than your reasons to be here for Team Rocket, then your energy won't link back to it in the same way," Ash mused aloud.

Lance knew there must be an explanation for all that, but this wasn't the time to ask for additional clarifications. He got the basics and knew enough to decide to take Ash's side. He was conflicted because he knew the elders meant to do what was best for the world, but when he thought of his own daughter in Ashimi's shoes, he couldn't justify their actions.

The doors opened and behind them waited two guards in a platform in the middle of the chamber, where the stairs were concealed, surrounded by water. Two Kingdras were swimming in the water, but the real challenge would be the guards and their pokemon. They were dressed in dragon-like armor, warriors as much as their pokemon were. Yet two guards couldn't be all there was, surely there were more hiding in the shadows.

"Meteor," Comet released his Absol from his pokeball. "How many?" The pokemon sniffed the air and signaled a reply. "Really?" Comet grinned, "only seven?"

Seeing as it was useless to remain hidden, the armored dragon trainers stepped out from behind the dragon statues that adorned the elegant temple. One of the guards next to the platform in the middle of the room stepped forward. His armor was dark red, rather than dark blue and it had golden details. It was impossible to tell what he really looked like under the dragon shaped helmet. "Dragon master Lance, this is your last chance to join us."

"I refuse," Lance replied without hesitating. His family could only keep the others busy for so long in a wild Zangoose chase that would lead to nothing. "The ends don't justify the means. You can't hope to do the world a favor by sacrificing and innocent life. Do you not understand? If you wanted Team Rocket to be purified, why fill it with bitter sadness?"

"The elders miscalculated," the leader of the dragon warriors admitted. "They thought Ash could save her and when they realized he couldn't, they hope he would do what was best and never know the truth." He turned his attention from Lance to Ash. "If you must be angry, hold a grudge against the us and not against the world, we will respond accordingly."

"I've had enough of this!" Ash shouted. "You think you're noble sacrificing yourself for the sake of the world? I'm not the boss of Team Rocket, I'm not the future king. The one who wanted to turn Team Rocket into a prosperous kingdom was Ashimi. My father will have his revenge and even if it is unfair, I don't think I will be able to bring myself to stop him!"

"But the aura-" the dragon warrior leader began to argue and was cut off.

"You know nothing of the aura!" Ash formed a ball of energy in his palm and shot it. That was all that was needed for the battle to begin.

The two Kingdra emerged from the water and each dragon warrior released their own companions, Haxorus, Garchomp, Flygon, Hydreigon, Goodra, Tyrantrum and Dragalge. Haxorus' materialized in the path on Ash's attack and deflected it. The pokemon looked very strong and appeared to be wearing some kind of metal cape on his back.

"Peachy, Pyro, show no mercy!" Pixel released her Pikachu and Charizard from their pokeballs.

"Meteor, Shenlong, let's win this!" Comet already had his Absol out, he called out Gyarados as well.

"Dragonite!" Lance's strongest pokemon reappeared once again out of her pokeball and ready for action.

"Pikachu, thunder!" Ash called out.

"You too, Peachy!" Pixel sent her Pikachu to join in as well. They were a very powerful pair, but the Kingdra resisted their initial attack.

The dragon warriors didn't need to give their pokemon directions, they charged into the battle with their companions already knowing what to do. Comet caught the spear before it could strike him, holding it as the dragon warrior pulled it back. "Meteor, perish song!" The Absol began to sing a solemn tune that was hypnotizing. Comet let go of the spear and dodged as Flygon swooped by and started a sand attack. Though the temple looked clean, sand began to emerge out of the hallow statues, floating towards Flygon, and surrounding him in a tornado that spread all across the room.

Pixel's shield of magnetic light could be seen and another of the dragon warriors made it her target. Her Garchamp rushed ahead, claws outstretched, he was met with a powerful fire blast point blank. Pyro batted his wings to blow the sandstorm away while he breathed fire and with help from Ash's Charizard the battle field once again became clear of that obstacle. Peachy dashed in from the side and focused her energy on Garchomp, it seemed to have no immediate effect, but it would in time. "Peachy, watch out!" The dragon warrior had realized what was going on and attempted to defend her pokemon. Peachy tried the lightning laser technique on her, but her dragon-like armor prevented it from being effective.

A volt tackle from Ash's Pikachu halted the warrior's advance, 'I don't like it when you do that,' he complained about the technique.

'There's no need for mercy, these people want our boy's trainer dead,' Peachy reminded. 'Not even Ash is holding back.

Pikachu glared at the battle and clenched his paws. 'This once... for Ashimi...' The two electric mice charged in together and dodged Garchomp.

The Kingdra twins targeted them with hydro pumps, but the electric duo was faster. They dodged the hits and attacked them with volt tackle and thunder, close enough so that the Kingdras couldn't help it but to succumb to their power. 'Garchomp won't see it coming now!' Peachy focused her energy along with Pikachu.

This was a technique he would rather not use, but this was a desperate time. 'Lightning laser!' The thin but deadly lines of light hit Garchomp's heart from opposite directions and the pokemon fell, twisting and turning on the floor in pain. 'That should be enough,' Pikachu decided.

'I know, I know, no overkill,' Peachy rolled her eyes, 'I mean no unnecessary kills,' she corrected. 'I better get a big cake after this!' Gluttonous as ever, the thought of a celebratory meal was always a good motivation to battle harder.

Garchomp's partner was dodging all of Pixel's electric charges and her spear was starting to overload the shield. She was sure one more simultaneous hit from her spear and Garchomp's claws would shatter the cyborg's shield. Just as she was certain her opponent would be defeated, she heard her pokemon cry out in pain and fall. "Garchomp!"

"You'd best leave the battle field if you care about your pokemon," Pixel warned. 'Prism,' she called out in a message. 'Recharge me... Prism? I just lost my last bit of signal in here. Oh well, I'll have to make what I have last.'

The cyborg thought that she was rid of one dragon warrior at least, but Garchomp soon went back on his unsteady feet and his trainer pointed her spear at Pixel. "This is our last stand, three have left us, but the remaining seven dragon warriors will stay loyal to the elders!" She charged in, shattering the energy shield and readying her spear for the kill. Pyro had flown to chase after Flygon, but broke away from the battle and released his fire upon Garchomp's trainer to defend his own. She screamed, trapped in the armor that had suddenly become very hot, but realized it wasn't as hot as it should be if it had been a direct hit. Garchomp had jumped in front of her to shield her from the blast. "Garchomp!" She gripped her spear as tears flowed from her eyes for her fallen comrade. Determined, she charged recklessly, right at the fire pokemon, who retaliated swiftly, sending her flying across the battle field.

Flygon gave chase to Pyro and attacked with dragon claw, but was blasted out of the way just in time by a hyper beam from Shenlong. Pixel glanced at Comet with a smile then focused her mechanical sensors on the dragon warrior woman, scanning for vital signs. "She's alive, just knocked out, at least she landed out of the way of the battle, but it's over for Garchomp, she should have taken the warning... No, she was ready to sacrifice both of them."

Comet looked towards Meteor, who was still using his power to weaken the consciousness of all those who heard his song. His own pokemon were trained to resist it, as were Pixel's. His earpiece and Pixel's integrated cyborg components would protect them and he trusted Ash' was strong enough with the aura. Surely someone like Lance would be unaffected as well, but even if the dragon warriors and their pokemon tried to resist the enchantment, their insecurities and doubts would be their downfall. He punched a dragon warrior in the face, he had been Hydreigon's trainer and now that he was out cold, Comet could focus on Hydreigon. "Keep at it, Meteor!" Making sure no one got too close to the dark pokemon, he rushed into the fight again.

Flygon took to the air, only to be batted down again by an iron tail from Ash's Charizard. He landed, right next to Persian, who was clawing at Dragalge and badly poisoned. Charizard landed next to them and blasted Dragalge away with his fire. 'Finish him off, I'll take care of her!'

'I don't want anyone's seconds!' Giovanni's Persian protested, though he did knock out Flygon with night slash.

The temple suddenly shook violently once, twice, three times. The ceiling began to cave in, forcing the combatants to dodge falling debris and exit the structure via the opening on the ceiling. 'That's enough Prism, you don't need to go all out with the laser just because we lost contact,' Pixel communicated. 'Another blast like that will be too much, we can't have the lower levels collapse, we need answers from the people hiding there. Play support instead.'

'Affirmative!'Prism chirped in relief, she was in the atmosphere, thus only Pixel heard her, via their wireless communication.

'You'll have to tell me how you talked him into that later,' Pixel grinned. Prism's laser wasn't that strong, she recognized this weapon as being Giovanni's personal defense satellite, controlled by Maverick, whom Prism seemed to like on some days and dislike on others. Prism did however have support capabilities in her satellite and soon put them to good use.

A bright light shone upon Persian, he left as if the gravity around him was lighter and the air heavier. The light faded and he felt much better, his poisoning was gone. He hissed at the skies where he saw an odd star, threw his head back in a prideful gesture and ran off to find another target, since Charizard had stolen his.

Four of the dragon warriors had surrounded Ash since the beginning of the fight, all of them wearing blue armor, as the one in red went after Lance. He had no time to command his pokemon as he dodged their spears, focusing on the aura to predict their movements. He finally saw an opportunity and cut the end of one of the spears with his aura blade, taking the opening to jump out of the middle of the circle they had formed around him. His breaths were heavy and the weight of the situation was taking its toll, but Ash refused to give up.

His blade turned to a ball of energy which charged at the four warriors, breaking apart and crashing against them. One held his spear in front of him and it was broken by the force of the attack, the defensive stance proven insufficient, he was thrown several feet back. Another rolled out of the way, dropping her spear in the process as debris fell from the collapsing ceiling. Now only one of the four was armed, but the others, though tired, were not out of the battle yet.

They dodge the falling pieces of the ceiling and jumped to escape from the collapsing structure, some climbing on their own and others holding on to their pokemon. When the dust settled, they jumped down from what was left of the ruined walls and resumed their fight. Ash made his blade of aura larger and charged at the dragon warrior who was still armed. The other three came at him from all direction. He broke the spear of his opponent, but the others were too close. He ducked out of the way of a punch, jumped to dodge two simultaneous kicks and with the long blade of energy outstretched, her spun to hit all four of the warriors that surrounded him.

The aura cut through their armor as if it was butter, but only lightly burned their flesh as it exploded into bolts of electricity on contact until the blade was no more. The warriors were tossed aside, static still clinging to their forms, alive, but knocked out. Breathing heavily, Ash looked at Comet and Pixel, shaking his head. "Garchomp is dead," he frowned at her, then looked at Comet with the same expression. "Did you see where you threw that guy you knocked out?"

"No," Comet admitted, "I was busy beating up that Hydreigon," he pointed to the unconscious pokemon. "Oh wait, there he is," he pointed, spotting the dragon warrior.

"He's alive," Ash sighed. He wondered if the dragon warriors were just being used and felt bad for them. He knew his friends were trying to do this with as few casualties as possible, for his sake, but it was still hard to think they were storming the dragon temple.

"I was more concerned about Hydreigon biting my head off, but yeah, I was careful" Comet replied.

"And I wasn't the one who ordered the satellite canon to be shot," Pixel added. "Prism went and convinced Maverick all on her own. Charmed him or something." Prism protested at what she perceived as teasing.

"I know, I'm just stressed. We need to," Ash's words were interrupted by Tyrantrum attempting to eat him.

"Focus on the battle?" Comet completed for him.

Ash jumped back, "yeah, that!" He dodged Tyrantrum's tail as it swung towards him and tried to call out his blade of aura again, but he put too much power into his last attack and it wouldn't respond. Yet he felt as if he could do more than that. 'The perish song!' He realized. It's sweet melody lulled the targets into thinking that they wanted nothing more but to escape their present. It prayed on their insecurities and had significantly weaken the dragon warriors and their pokemon, for they must have known about the truth of the elders' actions and even if they chose to be loyal, they might still feel bad about it. But why did it affect him too? He thought the aura would protect him...

"Ash? Ash!" Pixel called out in alarm.

"Hey you overgrown lizard, back off!" Comet jumped on the pokemon's tail, running up her back until he reached her head. "The twerp is not a meal!" He jumped and kicked the center of the pokemon's skull and she lost consciousness.

Ash chuckled, "you've been hanging out with Jessie and James too much lately," he joked.

"Now I know what to call you when you space out," Comet countered. Shenlong came up next to him after having finished his business with Goodra. The other pokemon were all done with their battles as well. Meteor ceased his song since every enemy was knocked out, or not found in the case of Haxorus and the red armored dragon warrior.

Ash didn't really want to address it, but he couldn't ignore it. "It was the perish song, I shouldn't be affected by it, but I was because I don't know what's right anymore. I want revenge so badly, but I know that won't solve much, that's not the way of the aura. I... I just want my daughter to be safe."

"We'll find some answers here..." Pixel voiced quietly.

"That's true," Ash breathe, "but they might not be good. I'm sorry Zero was targeted too, his data..."

"Will be fine," Pixel interjected. "I didn't think I could become a cyborg years ago and here I am, technology will get better and he'll be restored." Ash didn't reply, it wasn't really a matter of technology anymore.

"That's right, Zero will be okay and Ashimi will be saved, if you don't think it's possible you can't make it possible," Comet voiced.

"Right, I can't let despair get to me," Ash nodded. There was one thing that he still didn't understand... "Where did Lance go?" They all looked around, but the dragon master was nowhere to be seen and Ash was too tired to extend his senses to a distance beyond his immediate surroundings.

xoxox xox xoxox

When the ceiling collapsed Haxorus extended the metal on his back to reveal a pair of mechanical wings, that he used to take off from the area, carrying his trainer with him. Lance had gone in pursuit, riding on Dragonite. Haxorus landed in the mountains near mount silver and the red armored dragon warrior got off. Dragonite landed in a peak nearby and Lance got off as well. "What do you hope to accomplish with all this, Abeloth?" The champion demanded.

The dragon warrior removed his helmet, casting it aside, his yellow eyes glaring coldly at Lance. His dark hair was cut short, contrasting with the bright red of Lance's hair. "You were supposed to be our leader, you were supposed to be an example. But you ran off with that outsider, that traitor who left the dragon clan, and yet the elders still welcomed you and even made your daughter one of us. Where are they now? Serving as part of a distraction so you can attack our elders. Traitors, all of you!"

"Do you really think everyone was tricked?!" Lance argued back. "The elders have made many mistakes, they have grown out of touch with reality and many of our clan finally had enough!"

"So they're letting Ash decide? He should pass judgment on our people?" Abeloth shouted in indignation.

"He's the chosen one by the legendaries..." Lance reminded.

"That doesn't mean anything! He is just as selfish as everyone else, otherwise he would have agreed with the elders!" Abeloth continued to argue.

"Ashimi is innocent in all of this, a true dragon master can't stand by and let an innocent person be sacrificed," Lance firmly replied.

"I see there's no way we can understand each other," Abeloth concluded. He separated his double spear into two, forming two weapons of equal length out of it, and he tossed one half to Lance. "The one who should be wearing the red armor is you, but you didn't even look surprised when you found me at the temple, as if you didn't care. You dishonor your heritage, you think you're doing the right thing by saving that girl and sacrificing many?"

"There has to be a better way, but you were right about one thing, there really is no way we can understand each other," Lance stood defensively, holding the spear at the ready. "Especially if you insist on claiming you're sinless after abandoning your closest companion!"

"That Dragonite was weak, Haxorus is strong, strong enough to defeat your Dragonite! The victor will be the one who's right!" Abeloth charged at Lance. At the same time Haxorus extended his mechanical wings and hurried towards Dragonite. The two dragons let out fierce battle cries as Abeloth's spear collided with Lance's. The men struggled against each other until their weapons broke contact, but not for long. They jumped from one mountain peak to another, running close to the edge, their spears often colliding, attacking and blocking.

The two dragons were in the air, their trainers far too busy to guide them, the beasts were left to their own devices, to apply what they had learned. Dragonite attacked with hurricane, but Haxorus blocked with his metal wings, then faced the currents, propelling himself forward with his powerful mechanical enhancements. He crashed into Dragonite, dragging her down towards the ground with ever increasing speed. Dragonite struggled to get free before the deadly giga impact hit, just barely escaping with a thunder wave at the last second.

Albeit the force of the crash was greatly reduced, Dragonite still hit the ground with a cloud of dust picking up around her. She got up as fast as she could, knowing that her rival would be relentless. The force of a dragon pulse slowed her down and she just barely dodged Haxorus' claws. Dragonite knew that she couldn't compete in the air, Haxorus' metal wings were too powerful and no matter how fast she tried to move her own, she couldn't match his speed. She couldn't stay on the ground either, she was an easy target to be hit from the air, so she gained altitude.

Determined not to give up, Dragonite attacked with Aqua Tail, as Haxorus came closer to slash at her. She managed to land the attack, and Haxorus was forced to back away. He shot a hyper beam, which Dragonite dodged. She was going to take the opportunity after the failed attack to fight back with a hyper beam of her own, but she was assaulted by a multitude of sharp knives that were shot from Haxorus' wings and couldn't fight back. Dragonite felt her senses blur, realizing the knives were poisoned. She struggled to fight back, but her dragon rush missed the target because of her numb senses and Haxorus countered with outrage.

Dragonite fell, she breathed heavily, holding on to her consciousness with all she had. "Dragonite!" Lance's voice made her eyes snap open and she weakly lifted her head to look at him. She cried out in warning, causing him to turn at the last second to defend himself from Adeloth's attack. She couldn't be a distraction to him, his worries for her would cost him his life. She tried to push herself up, but Haxorus wouldn't allow it. He shot a focus blast which badly injured her right wing, and partially damaged her left. She cried out in pain, knowing that she would be stuck on the ground for the rest of the battle that she could only hope wasn't her last.

Lance's Dragonite could hear the odd sound of Haxorus' wings above her. She turned on her side and looked up in time to see him charge another hyper beam. This was it, he was preparing to finish her off, like his trainer no doubt told him to. The poison continued to circulate through her body, weakening her along with her injuries. Even then she wouldn't give up. From the corner of her eyes, in that split second she could see Lance struggling to get away from Adeloth, trying his best to run to her. His cape was ripped to shreds and there was blood pouring out from a wound on his side, next to the rips. A little higher and to the side and the enemy's spear would have pierced his heart.

The brightness of the hyper beam overtook her senses, but other than the hotness of the attack, Dragonite felt no pain. Her wings throbbed and her whole body ached, but she had not been slain, that last attack had been redirected by a brightness that could have only been another hyper beam. Another Dragonite landed beside her. She gasped in recognition, he had been Adeloth's pokemon once, though he traded him in search of a stronger partner and ended up with an enhanced Haxorus, that no doubt cost him more than the price for which he sold his Dragonite. He somehow ended up with Lance later on, the same Dragonite no doubt, though he was short one antennae.

Haxorus roared in anger at the newcomer that interrupted him, he flapped his wings again, knives shooting out of them at the two Dragonites. They tried to stop the projectiles with hurricane, as they shot in all directions and were nearly impossible to dodge. Alone neither could have done it, but together the knives fell short of hitting their target. The female noticed that the newcomer was carrying something in his front paws, which he gave her before quickly stepping forward as if to create a distraction. She knew what that liquid was, a rare elixir developed by Team Rocket, which they didn't share with just about anyone. Lance had obtained one, which he entrusted to Evazan, alias Arrow.

Lance's Dragonite didn't want to use all the elixir for herself, it was rare, even within Team Rocket, but she knew she needed to drink a portion at least, so she did. She quickly rushed forward with a hyper beam and gave the other Dragonite the remainder of the elixir. He had gotten hurt keeping Haxorus busy. He didn't want to drink the elixir, so she had to practically shove it at him. By then Haxorus had recovered and the two Dragonites had to dodge left and right out of the way of his focus blast. Haxorus positioned his wings to shoot poisoned knives again, as Lance's Dragonite was no longer poisoned thanks to the elixir, but nothing happened, he was too wasteful with his ammunition and had run out.

The Dragonite with one antennae was shocked that the other of his kind could recover so much of her strength with only a portion of the elixir. He fought Haxorus for less time and took just as much elixir, but wasn't as refreshed as her. Lance's Dragonite was truly on a class of her own, a class that he thought he could never reach. He tried to focus as she told him they would have to work together. Two against one wasn't fair, but she didn't care at the moment, she was more worried about Lance. Haxorus went on the attack with hyper beam, but couldn't keep up with trying to hit the two targets at once. With an angry roar, Haxorus caused an earthquake that shook even the duel happening in the peaks nearby. To his surprise, both Dragonites took to the air in response.

The male Dragonite noticed then that Lance's Dragonite wasn't completely healed after all. Her right wing was still hurt, albeit useable, but painful. He realized that it wasn't that the elixir was especially effective for her, but she was simply more determined to make the best of the situation. She had already been trying to get up when he arrived, even if all logic dictated that she was about to die. There was no way she would abandon her trainer, she fought for Lance and that made her stronger. It was a bond that he had never known.

Haxorus was getting angrier, losing his concentration. He attacked with outrage, switching his targets because when he attacked one, the other would attack him, he was getting tired though. Lance's Dragonite nodded at her ally, they needed to finish this quickly, she wanted to check on Lance. Enraged, Haxorus shot one hyper beam after another, not taking the time to aim and letting his anger get the best of him due to his poor training. The two Dragonites took the opportunity and aimed from opposite sides with hyper beams of their own. The dual attacks were a direct hit that finally sent Haxorus crashing to the ground, fainted. Lance's Dragonite landed, unable to go on with her injured wing. The other Dragonite helped her up, so they could fly towards Lance.

The two Dragonites arrived on time to see the end of the duel. Lance demonstrated his superior skill and knocked Abeloth's spear out of his hands. Exhausted, the red armored warrior's legs gave out and he could no longer stay on his feet. His breaths were heavy and angry, yellow eyes glaring with loathing. It only got worse when he saw the two Dragonites behind Lance. "You!" He snapped at the Dragonite who had been his pokemon. "I trained you from the start, I made you evolved, and this is how you repay me? You were always weak, no matter how hard I tried to make you strong, but now you are a traitor!"

"That's enough," Lance reprimanded. "You betrayed him, you abandoned him when you should have been supportive and caring. You can never understand the bond between a true dragon master and pokemon. You've lost, admit defeat and never return to the dragon clan!"

"Very well..." Abeloth turned around, and looked at his fainted pokemon down below. It was only a distraction though, he turned again, pulling out a gun that was hidden in his armor and aiming at Lance. A flash of light blinded him momentarily and a sharp pain invaded his senses. His limbs went numb and the gun slipped out of his hand. When his eyes refocused he saw red, an endless sea of red from the hole that the hyper beam had cut clean through his chest. He fell back and died before he even hit the ground.

Lance turned around, startled. He stared with wide eyes at the one who had broken the unspoken golden rule. His own Dragonite turned her head to look at the culprit. She had began to move and was already several steps ahead from where she landed, intending to shield Lance, but she would have been too late and even if she still tried, she knew it. The male Dragonite looked at the ground in shame. Lance gently reached up and placed his hand on the dragon's shoulder. "You are strong, you just needed to find your strength, but this is not the way. Don't fight in hatred, fight to protect those you care about. You are free now, and so you will remain. Find your happiness and know that you're always welcome in my home."

The Dragonite nodded. He was hurt and tired, but it wasn't anything life threatening. He would heal well enough in the wild. He did want to give Lance a ride back though, since Dragonite really needed to give her wings a rest and heal. Lance accepted the offer, recalled his Dragonite into her pokeball to rest and got on the male Dragonite's back.

xoxox xox oxox

Hidden in the rocky terrain, two people witnessed Lance's battle. "I let him go and he ended up coming here. I guess he had unfinished business with the trainer who hurt him," Arrow voiced.

Daala scowled, "I knew it, those were just some random pokemon you caught last minute for the league, your true power lies fighting with a spear by Salamence's side. She hid her power when she fought that Rocket's Gyarados, but she could have won at any moment."

"I was a dragon warrior once, there were ten of us then. Lance's wife was qualified, regardless of what the elders said, but she never joined. Lance was our leader, Scarlett was there as well, one of the ten chosen. Abeloth was always jealous of Lance, as for me, I felt trapped in that life and wanted to go out there and do something that felt like I was making a difference. I put down my spear and picked up a bow, Salamence has been with me through thick and thin, I can't imagine even being alive without her. But even if I care about Salamence more than for my own life, I've never been able to truly connect with any other pokemon in the same way, not even close," Arrow confessed. "I try to help them in the wild and I've even caught many pokemon and trained them for some time, but I always let them go. I guess it was simply meant to be this way, just Salamence and me, doing what we can to help the world."

"Well, now that you've seen this, you can truly put your past behind. I know you were torn between your loyalty to the elders and to Lance. Now we both know the truth," Daala fell silent, lost in thought.

Arrow nodded, "the whole truth, revealed by the elders themselves. I guess they thought they could convince me to join their side. What do you think?"

"I'll have to side with the elders on this one. Although, now that I know what happened at the Indigo League really wasn't Ashimi's doing, even if I'm still upset about it, I feel that I can accept her apology," Daala admitted.

Arrow sighed, "I can see both sides of the argument and that's why I couldn't bring myself to join either. So I just..."

"Let things happen on their own, but you still had to keep an eye on your idol," Daala finished for him. "Either way, that evil inside Ashimi is, ironically, Team Rocket's enemy too, even if it was born from it. They'll try to save her and if they can't do it, I doubt anyone can. As much as it pains me, Team Rocket is the most powerful force in the world. I still don't like the idea of having anyone rule over people, sometimes I think it's best for people to just rule themselves, albeit I see how that can get out of hand too. As things stand now, my priority is the evil not running wild..."

"You want to sacrifice her..." Arrow concluded. "I won't stop you, I don't disagree with your logic to put the majority first, but I can't go against Lance or Ash or... or even Giovanni himself if he's truly trying to save his granddaughter as his granddaughter, rather than just his heir. We don't know that, there's no way to know, but I know Ash must be sincere, because Lance trusts him and I trust Lance. I'm still on the fence, if there's a way for both sides to win, I'll pick that, but for now... I guess I'll be busy figuring it out." Arrow called Salamence out of her pokeball and climbed on her back. She was once again his only pokemon, the others had been set free to live in the wild.

Daala stood in thought until he disappeared in the distance and finally realized that standing there thinking wouldn't bring her the answer she so desperately wanted. She couldn't change Arrow's mind and if they met in opposite sides of the battlefield he would be her enemy and a formidable opponent. The sooner she came to terms with that the better. She called out Braviary, regretting the fact that the only pokemon who could carry her out of the remote mountains was that one, yet she knew she could never bring herself to part with him.

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox


Chapter 41: Aura

Dragonite landed in the dragon temple and Lance jumped off his back. He thanked him for the ride and Dragonite left, he had a lot of things to think about and taking a break away from it all in the wild would do him good. "We were just about to go out looking for you," Ash greeted. He noticed the wound and immediately went to have a closer look. "You're hurt!"

"It's nothing serious," Lance insisted. "See? The bleeding has almost stopped. I can take care of it later, for now, let's proceed." Lance began down the stairs in the center of the ruined chamber before anyone could stop him. The stairs led to a long underground hallway with a more antique style to it, more dragon statues primarily from Dragonite's evolutionary line, and torches to light the way.

Ash, Lance, Comet, Pixel and the pokemon arrived at another set of doors that were carved with pictures of dragon type pokemon and adorned with golden details, they looked to be very old. Lance pushed the doors open and went inside. The next room was dimly lit with torches of blue fire and it contained seven throne-like seats arranged in a semi-circle. Only one of the seats was currently occupied, by a man with a long white beard, an elderly man and woman stood, looking very uneasy as they held ancient texts. "So you've come," the man in the throne spoke.

"I came for answers," Ash stepped forward. "I want to know how to save my daughter."

The leader of the elders who sat on the throne knew that Ash would not relent. "No matter the consequences..."

"If you had someone you cared about you would understand," Ash argued back, before the old man could voice any further critiques.

The elderly man and woman, also part of the council, stepped aside and remained silent, watching the exchange. The leader shook his head, "that is why such attachments are not good. Still, I will tell you all, it makes no difference. The evil of Team Rocket is trapped in your daughter, it will consume her soul if it is not vanquished. The sacrifice of her life will in turn kill the being that resides with her. It does not matter if you kill me as well. Her vessel is its vessel, the evil had become a living creature that must be slain. To save her soul, you must end her life, there is no other way."

"That's a lie!" Ash snapped. "Those texts you hold," he turned his attention to the other two elders. "Are they where you got this information? I want to see them." Ash didn't wait for them to react and snatched the ancient tattered books, looking through them feverishly.

"Where are the others?" Lance inquired in the moment of silence.

"They fled the temple," the leader of the council replied. "Though the choice was unanimous, after they realized what was happening, your betrayal, they left."

A long silence overtook the room, which lasted for a long time. Only the sounds of old yellowed paper being handled could be heard in the deafening quiet. "There is a way," Ash finally spoke. "A being of greater power than the host can remove the evil and carry it in her place, though both the new host and the evil creature would have to be willing."

"The evil would still need to be defeated and giving it a more powerful vessel would only make that harder," the elder cautioned. "That is if it even agrees. It will not go into a vessel it thinks it cannot control. It might not agree to go with you."

"I'll trick it, I'll force it, I'll do something..." Ash concluded. A noise was heard from outside and a familiar presence entered the range of Ash's senses. He considered hurrying out, but instead waited until the presence arrived. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see if you've found anything," Giovanni replied. He was a lone, a fact which surprised everyone. "For what it's worth, I'm not currently the leader of Team Rocket."

"The executives?" Ash assumed.

"I was in a hurry and left your mother in charge," Giovanni was a bit worried now. Last time he took the afternoon off and left Delia in charge she added a baking training course for field agents. Electro never got over the shock of having failed a field agent training, as he prided himself on his top scores. Though if Misty was with her, and still fuming, maybe this time he should worry about a high count of Rocket agent casualties by drowning.

"Oh... Well I found the answer, so I'll be going now," Ash began to walk away, giving his friends a quick glance that requested their silence.

He didn't get far though, as Giovanni blocked his path. "What did you find?"

Ash knew he wouldn't escape without answering, so he stopped going in circles and did. "I can take Ashimi's place, in theory, I'll find a way to make it work."

"There might be a better way than that," Giovanni eyed the three elders with fury. "I'm sure I can convince them to speak." Lance looked as if he was debating if he wanted to protest or not, but before he could decide, Giovanni paused as he received a call. It had to be an emergency, Maverick wouldn't allow any other calls to reach his cell phone at the moment if it wasn't. Giovanni answered the phone to hear surprising news. "Take her to Viridian, maximum security, I'm on my way."

"What's going on?" Ash asked suspiciously, there was a strange sort of uneasiness in his father.

"Ashimi has been found," Giovanni revealed.

Ash's eyes widened, "you mean she was missing?" He didn't question it further before rushing out on his way to Viridian.

"We'll go on the jet," Giovanni called out to Ash, who had rushed up the stairs with Charizard and Pikachu. Persian remained, glad to be back with his trainer, he was very tired and could use a bubble bath and some gourmet treats. Giovanni was about to say something more, but then he recalled he wasn't supposed to be in charge of Team Rocket for the time being, so he left.

Before anything more was decided, the elder leader pulled out a small bottle from his robes, the other two followed, drinking the liquid that was contained within. Comet and Pixel, who had been standing next to the stairs, and Lance who was closer to the middle of the room, tried to stop them, but it was too late. The three elders fell dead, as if they had agreed to escape the terrible fate that they were sure they would suffer in the most extreme way.

xoxox xox xoxox

Earlier, at the Viridian Rocket headquarters. "Looks like another dot on the radar," Jessie sighed. "Butch and Cassidy better be taking care of the pokemon, I can't believe they of all people were assigned to watch the daycare while we're here," she complained.

" It's the only way we can be close to the real action. What if something important happens and we can't do anything about it because we're stuck at the daycare? We can't leave it closed for too long, it's an important Rocket trading post," James reminded. "Besides, Meowth is there to make sure everything's okay."

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Jessie grumbled. They were not aware of Ashimi's disappearance and assumed she, Jonathan and the others were still safe at Pallet Town. "The machines are way too sensitive," Jessie complained as she walked out of the main surveillance center, towards the hanger area. "Every time some Abra teleports we have to investigate. We probably won't find anything this time either. Let's just check it out so we can come back and clock out."

"Sleep," James smiled at the thought. His caffeine rush had run out and he could certainly use a good rest.

xoxox xox xoxox

After Legend had teleported Ashimi away, she reappeared in New Island. There was no one there, nothing but old ruins. She could feel Legend trying to eat away at her consciousness. She wasn't going without a fight, she would weaken it as much as she could. She was there for some time, until none other than Sabrina herself teleported in front of her. "Sabrina!" Ashimi gasped in surprise.

"Your wish has almost been granted, with the evil energy that came from Team Rocket trapped within you, it will become a prosperous kingdom." Sabrina removed her hood, for the first time in a long time, willingly revealing her face. She had not visibly aged, but there was a glow in her eyes that spoke of great power. She was clearly not someone to cross, her intimidating presence made that obvious.

"Why did you do all this?" Ashimi shouted. "If you haven't broken the seal, then this wouldn't have happened!"

"I am not like those hypocrites," Sabrina stepped close to Ashimi, looking into her eyes. "Can you make a blade of aura?"

Ashimi shook her head. "I don't have enough control to make a blade, but I can make a small orb," she replied before she could stop herself. "It doesn't matter, I'll still fight back!"

"It might not be enough, but Ash will certainly finish the job. I think I've angered him enough for him to play his part," Sabrina decided.

Ashimi looked at the psychic with confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"I will take the evil from you. Once I am its vessel, you must kill it, kill me. If you cannot, it doesn't matter, your father will," Sabrina explained. "this way your wish comes true, the evil will be defeated. Team Rocket will still have its faults, but they will be easier to deal with. Do not let it become so dark again."

Ashimi stared at Sabrina for a long moment. "You're doing this for the good of the world... This was part of your plan all along. Is there no other way? Do you really have to die?"

Sabrina laughed, though there was surprisingly no bitterness in her voice. "You truly are like your father." That was all the answer she gave before moving on. "Concentrate now, you must channel the evil to me."

"I.. I can't.." Ashimi muttered unsure.

"Again, it doesn't matter... I'll just have to force it out." At Sabrina's command, Ashimi found herself unable to move.

Ashimi's whole body ached as she felt that she was being ripped apart, though she had no physical injuries. She screamed, but her voice was too far from anyone to be heard. Sabrina's power surrounded her and she felt a terrifying evil leave her. She sensed it as she never had before, as it truly was. It felt as if the process was endless, the energy moving from her to Sabrina. An eternity passed before the pain stopped, but Ashimi still felt the pull of Sabrina's energy.

"It is done..." Sabrina tried to let go of Ashimi's energy, she tried to entrap the evil within herself, but it struggled strongly against her psychic grip, then it slipped away. She had the being within her body, but it was not imprisoned. "Why..?" How could her power fail her?

'You fool!' Legend growled fiercely. 'Do you believe psychic energy can affect me? I am beyond such elements!'

Sabrina realized her mistake too late. She trusted that her power was stronger than the aura, and in a practical sense it could be, yet for the delicate matters from within, only the gentle influence of the aura could suffice. It was a different kind of power, a power that did not force things to happen, but gently prodded them to take a certain course. Sabrina tried hard to break the link with Ashimi, but she couldn't. A ghostly version of Ashimi began to emerge from her body, her spirit was being pulled out of the vessel.

Several cries pierced the air as Ashimi's pokemon landed. They rushed to her, but were stopped by a psychic shield unwillingly generated by Sabrina. It hurt to get close, but they pounded on it, trying to break through. Not long after, Jonathan, Dorme and Volt arrived. They too tried to break through the shield to reach Ashimi, calling out all their pokemon at once to help in the arduous task.

After several desperate moments, Sabrina pulled down the shield and everyone rushed to Ashimi, who was surrounded by a strange kind of energy. "Don't go near her!" Sabrina called out in warning. She forced her telekinesis to respond and tried to pull them back. Jonathan, Dorme, Volt and the pokemon, they were struggling so strongly, wanting so desperately to reach Ashimi, and Sabrina was exhausted from the ordeal. She couldn't summon enough of her power to hold them all back.

Lightning, Chari, Clefable, Furball, Crobat, Wartortle and Nidorino, who had Zero's data crystal, slipped out of Sabrina's psychic grip and reached Ashimi. As soon as they touched the ghostly glow around her, they two became as specters, leaving their bodies behind and fading away. Sabrina understood now that she severely underestimated her opponent, or perhaps more so she overestimated herself. Yet she would not give up, she would find a way to entrap the evil and vanquish it. She couldn't let it take control of her power, she needed to leave, go back to her secret home where she could concentrate without interference, where she was at peace, where she was at her strongest. Sabrina teleported away, her destination unknown to anyone but her.

When Sabrina disappeared, Jonathan, Dorme, Volt and their pokemon were freed from the psychic energy that held them back. They stared at their fallen friends unsure of how to help them. The energy around them was fading and the ghosts had all vanished. Jonathan stepped forward cautiously. "I think, whatever knocked them out stopped," he hurried forward and tried to wake Ashimi. "Ashy? Ashy wake up?"

"Is she? Are they?" Dorme gasped.

"She has a pulse, but it's very weak," Jonathan answered. "What about the pokemon?"

Dorme and Volt quickly checked for vital signs. "They're alive, barely," Volt replied.

xoxox xox xoxox

In the air, near New Island, "got it, we're almost there," James ended the call. Jessie had insisted on driving the helicopter, she rarely let him drive regardless of if they were traveling by land air or sea. He didn't mind too much though, as there were few close calls to be had in the open skies. "The priority of the alert we're investigating has been upgraded. Reinforcements are on their way. They want us to let them know right away if it's another false alarm so they can turn back."

"You mean another bunch of Abras and Kadabras having a wild party?" Jessie huffed. She had gotten excited about catching Sabrina too many times to think of this occasion as anything other than a false alarm. Even so, she would investigate just in case there was anything at all to be found. "I'm tired of going back empty handed. This time, if it's just a bunch of psychic pokemon making a ruckus, we're catching them." When the helicopter arrived at New Island, Jessie and James were very surprised at what they found...

xoxox xox xoxox

After Ashimi and the pokemon faded away, they found themselves in a strange place filled with endless swirls of color. Ashimi was surprised to see all her pokemon there and wondered just where they were. She was even more shocked to find Zero. "Chibi?"

"Aniki!" Nidorino rushed to his trainer and Ashimi was surprised to realize she understood him.

Zero hugged his pokemon and looked around in puzzlement, asking the question in all their minds. "It's good to be back and all, but where are we?"

"I don't know," Ashimi replied. "I was with Sabrina and Legend... It felt as if I died..." She looked around in alarm, the last images she recalled before awakening up there flooding her mind.

"Me too," Lightning admitted and was followed by more agreements from the other pokemon.

"I can understand you all," Ashimi voiced, "I mean, not just understand you because I know you, I can understand your words. Are we all dead?" She wondered in sad fright.

"You're not dead, come this way," a gentle voice called. Ashimi, Zero and the pokemon followed the voice and found a Gardevoir. "I am the keeper of this place, the space in between. I cannot let you go any further, if you move on to the afterlife without your vessels, you will lose your link to them and be unable to return."

"Vessels?" Clefable wondered.

"You mean our bodies?" Chari asked.

"Yes," Gardevoir nodded.

"Then we really are ghosts," Furball concluded.

"More so spirits, since you are not held back by unfinished business, but rather you have been removed from your physical forms," Gardevoir explained. "When living creatures come here before their time, they can enter with their bodies, that will be transformed into energy and be carried within their soul. When that is the case, their appearance changes, they could resemble any living being, except humans, though I'm not sure why no one seems to take that form here. The same thing happens when you pass away, except the vessel is left behind and the memories of the past life become locked deep within your soul. Your case is neither of those. You are here in spirit, without your vessels, but not because your bodies have perished. You are still linked to them, and that is why you reflect their current form. As long as you don't proceed any further, you will not lose that link. If you go beyond this point, the distance will be too great, you will become completely detached from your bodies and they will die." Gardevoir made sure to stress the warning.

"We'll make sure not to do that," Wartortle shuddered.

"Yeah, we'll go back right away," Crobat added.

"As soon as we know which way is back," Lightning nodded.

"Could you give us directions?" Ashimi inquired.

"That is why I'm here, but you need not be in such a rush. You are in no danger of dying as long as you don't go beyond this area. Plus we looked into that world and your vessels are being taken care of, they are in no danger. Before you return, there is someone who wishes to speak with you," Gardevoir explained. "Please, come with me."

Ashimi wondered who would want to talk to her in such a place. The group followed Gardevoir a short distance, though they weren't sure how to measure distance in a place that was an ever changing swirl of colors with no sky, ground or gravity, not even any air. They felt weightless and moved simply by willing themselves to float. They weren't even breathing, though it only felt strange when they stopped to think about it.

Gardevoir took them to a Lucario who was in mega form, though strangely that seemed to be his ordinary appearance, his only form. They thought about Gardevoir's words and realized the mega Lucario could be anyone, a different pokemon, or even a human who had lived in their world before. "I have brought them, like you asked," Gardevoir's soft voice informed.

"Thank you," the mega Lucario nodded. "I will take care of guiding them." It seemed that he already knew who they all were.

"Very well, I shall leave them in your care," Gardevoir agreed. She turned to Ashimi's group. "Please listen closely to sir Aaron's words." Gardevoir floated away, leaving everyone in shock.

"Sir Aaron?!" Ashimi gasped. "That Sir Aaron, from the stories? The aura master?"

Aaron laughed lightly, "everyone is used to calling me sir Aaron, but there is no kingdom for me to be knighted here. I'm just another soul, though I chose to stay in the afterlife, rather than rejoin the cycle of life, perhaps one day I will."

"Sir Aaron, I have to know, did you meet Lucario?" Ashimi asked. "My father told me the story of the tree of beginnings, did the two of you ever meet again?"

Aaron smiled, "yes, I was reunited with my dear friend, we studied the aura together for several years and mastered a technique to retain our memories at least in part when we reincarnate. After all, the memories of past lives are never lost, only locked away. I sensed something was happening in the world, it looked as if you might end up here sooner than expected. I thought the evil within you would overtake your vessel and expel your spirit. That is why I asked Gardevoir to direct you to me, so that I could help you return before you lost the link with your body and you could continue to fight the evil."

"Things took an unexpected turn when Sabrina trapped the evil in herself. Her soul struggles against it as we speak, but she will not surrender her vessel with ease. Lucario went ahead to the world of the living, hoping to help in the battle. Although, he knew that the form he might take was unpredictable, as was the place where he would appear. His past memories have not manifested yet, so I cannot recognize his aura at the moment. I could find him if I narrowed it down, but there are simply too many places to look and too many energies to sense as things stand now. If his memories awaken though, at least in part, his aura might resonate with mine and he would be easier to find," Aaron explained.

The aura master made an offer, "I wish to train you in the aura, I believe it can be of use to you in the coming battle. The flow of time will seek its balance one way or another as it always does, but the details of the journey, though only droplets in a giant river, may feel as floods to the individuals who live through them. Will you stay here and train?"

Ashimi's first thought was to agree, but then she remembered that these were not ordinary circumstances that she was in. She vaguely recalled seeing Jonathan, Dorme and Volt and their pokemon before fading away, if they were there, then their bodies would be safe. She wasn't sure where she had been, only that she was on an island, south of Cinnabar if she had to take a guess, because there were many small islands in that area. Their bodies were probably taken to Viridian City where they would be kept safe under maximum security, so that wasn't an issue, but that wasn't the only thing to consider. "I'm free of the evil and now Sabrina has it, in the end she didn't mean to let me make the sacrifice. I can't just leave her to face that thing alone. Besides, our friends and family will worry if they think we're all in a coma. Plus, even if I may not be able to do much, I think I will still be able to help at least a little, now that I'm free."

"I can contact Ash in a dream and tell him where you are," Aaron offered. "In time, you might even learn to do so yourself, though that particular technique isn't really of priority at the moment. As for being able to help, yes, you would be able to, and if it was vital, I would tell you to go, but Sabrina has a strong will. Her techniques cannot truly defeat the evil, but she can entrap it. I will not hide the fact that it will bring her suffering, but there is not much that can be done if she cannot be found. I know she is there in the world of the living and I know she is entrapping the evil, but I cannot locate where exactly they are, I don't think that's possible right now."

"In other words, even if I go, the help I could give isn't all that much," Ashimi realized.

"Not as you are now. It would be best if you remained here and prepared, then returned when it becomes time for the final confrontation. Either Sabrina will reveal herself, or the evil will emerge," Aaron explained. "Team Rocket is searching and I will continue searching as well. However, I will not keep you here if you do not wish to remain. I only hope that you will consider the option, you cannot change your mind once you decide to go back. The portals to the afterlife that could allow you to come here with your vessel have been closed for the past few years and show no signs of reopening in the near future. I can sense your souls are firmly linked to your bodies, but removing them again, without weakening the link would be dangerous."

"So another trip here is out of the question..." Ashimi mused.

"Not until the end of your life," Aaron nodded.

Ashimi thought about it for a moment longer and decided. She would miss her old life, but being here was more important, she could return to her life later as long as the link with her body wasn't lost. Besides, it would be amazing being trained by Aaron. Making up her mind, she communicated her choice, "I'm ready to start the training, Master."

Aaron smiled and nodded, glad to have gained a new student. "Very well, I will guide the rest of your companions back and we will begin training, but there is something I must do with Zero first."

"I'm not going anywhere," Furball protested.

"Same here!" Lightning added, they were followed by similar declarations by Chari, Wartortle, Clefable and Crobat.

"This training is for aura users, but I am not opposed to your staying if you wish, and I'm sure you can find other ways to participate," Aaron replied. "Your pokemon are very loyal," he couldn't help it but to smile, recalling the bond he shared with Lucario. They were apart for now, but he knew they would be reunited again.

"I'm staying too," Zero decided. "I'm not even sure how I ended up here in the first place."

"If aniki is staying, then I'm staying!" Nidorino declared.

"It seems we'll have more company than expected, but it is alright, maybe you can help me set up some tests for Ashimi," Aaron laughed. "As for how you ended up here, Zero, this is the space between the living world and the afterlife, your spirit is here because it became detached from its current vessel, a crystal I believe. In other words, it's the same circumstance as the others, you are no different. I admit I am not particularly experienced in what they call technology, but here you are not a... what's the word... program. Here you don't have that aspect of your physical form, you are only energy, a soul. Because of that, the flow of your energy can be restored by your will and the chaotic flow that plagued it can be healed. That is what I hope to help you do, with some meditation, you can restore your energy to its proper flow so that you can project your vessel normally in the living world."

"Like finding myself to debug, sounds deep," Zero mused. "But all the things you said, does that mean I'm not in danger of becoming a missing number? A virtual being that ceases to function because it can't handle being truly alive?"

"You are already alive if that's what you're asking. Your body will become technology in that world, just as the others will be encased by flesh. You will probably live a very long life, but nothing lives forever in that world, so you will end up here eventually," Aaron revealed. "Well then, since everyone is staying, let's head over to the space I've prepared for the training and continue our discussion there."

"I was wondering about that," Ashimi admitted. "It's kind of hard to do a lot of different training when there's nothing to train with except our imagination."

"The imagination is a powerful thing," Aaron led the group through the endless swirls of colors to a sort of bubble. The bubble was about twice the size of Chari, but the space contained within was much larger. Aaron faded into the bubble, followed by the others, who were amazed at their surroundings, vast fields, blue skies and a castle in the distance in the middle of a lake.

Yet the skies bent oddly, as if to remind them that though the space was wide, they were still inside a bubble and there were no other people to be found. The town and castle in the distance were like paintings on the inside of a large sphere. It was a place created by Aaron's memories, he could recreate any place he could remember, but if he tried recreating people they would not be real, so he preferred not to. None the less, the place did provide enough room to train and already had various contraptions set up with logs, ropes and boards like an obstacle course.

xoxox xox xoxox

Aaron managed to get in contact with Ash through his dreams and explained what had happened. The bodies of Ashimi and her pokemon were transported to Viridian City where they were kept safe. The search continued, but there was no sign of Sabrina anywhere. Tornado sometimes appeared to cause trouble and his powers seemed to be slowly growing. He wasn't as much a priority as Sabrina and Legend, but Team Rocket was keeping an eye on him too. Psychics were tricky to detect, especially since the equipment couldn't currently differentiate between human and pokemon psychic powers in use and the targets could teleport at will.

To counter that, new technologies were being developed that could block psychic powers from being used in wider areas. It seemed as if it would work given some time. Tornado still slipped away after his latest encounter with Team Rocket, but he couldn't do much before being forced to retreat. Ash suspected that he had been in contact with Legend and received a portion of his power. Tornado had changed, becoming more chaotic as if that drop of Legend's power was enough to corrupt him terribly. With the negative energy being so concentrated in one spot, it had mutated in a sense, become very powerful and more firmly its own entity.

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As time passed, Ashimi's training continued. A log attached to a rope swung like a pendulum towards her. She dodged and continued on, balancing on a long thin board. Another smaller log came, along with a larger one ahead. Feeling unable to advance, Ashimi pushed the smaller log and tried to get past the larger one. The large log moved much slowly and still stood in the way when the smaller one came back and pushed her off the board she was balancing on. "Ow..." The bubble simulated the living world all too well, gravity included. Ashimi removed her blindfold and pouted.

"If you try to force the flow of energy to go in one direction..." Aaron reminded.

"It will only return to take its course more strongly," Ashimi recited.

"Now tell me, what should you have done?" Aaron patiently inquired.

"Run faster?" A shake of the head of her instructor told Ashimi that was not the answer. "Step back, wait for the way to be clear and then move forward?"

"Yes," Aaron nodded. "Now try it again."

Ashimi knew that the pattern would not be the same, that was the convenience of having an imaginary training course, it could change any time. She practiced with exercises like that, developing her aura sight. Her favorites however were the active combat exercises that she could do with her pokemon. She could form orbs of aura as well as blades now and maintain them.

The obstacle courses and mazes weren't so bad though, her most challenging effort went into meditation, sitting still was still not her forte, but at least she had Zero to sit with her, since it helped him find himself or debug or rather both. Often the pokemon would sit with them too, or join in other aspects of the training in their own way. That was how it continued for endless days, as the passing of time blended together and became almost imperceptible.

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox


Chapter 42: Legacy (Part 1)

"When's she going to wake up?" The three year old boy asked his daily question again. Ever since he was introduced to his sister, he had been curious about that, though no one could give him a real answer.

"Probably soon, since she's been this way for a while," Jonathan replied. At least he hoped it was soon.

Things had changed in ways that sometimes annoyed Giovanni. The world had recognized that it relied on Team Rocket whether they wanted to or not, so they mostly decided to do just that. Wherever, Legend was, it was gathering all the negative energy it could find. Team Rocket was still Team Rocket though, so when it wasn't being respected it was respected and feared, albeit that only happened on occasion lately. Giovanni found that a more aggressive empire where he was given a reason to put people in their place was easier to manage than this alliance of sorts where everyone was set on going to Team Rocket with their problems.

Just that morning, queen Ilene had been requesting an investigation to see if anyone had crossed the forbidden border and did something to cause the withering of the time flowers. They were a prized product and no fancy mansion was complete without a time flower centerpiece in its garden, showcasing a recording of the latest elite party. The flowers withered when they were kept too far away from the Tree of Beginnings and not even the best gardeners could come up with a solution, but that only meant that people would keep returning every few months to buy a new time flower, regardless of how expensive they were.

The Tree of Beginnings had been a difficult subject in the past, but in the end Ash managed to convince Giovanni that it was worth leaving it alone for the time being, since time flower revenues and the profitable alliance with queen Ilene were good deals. Plus a free legendary was better than a dead legendary anyway. While the tree itself was left alone, Mew wasn't, and anyone who spotted the rare pokemon would attempt a capture, just not when the pink feline retreated into the tree.

"Hey Johnny," the three year old looked up with a sparkle in his eyes and Jonathan knew that some odd idea was coming.

"Yes, Aaron?" Ash and Misty's son had been named after the aura master who was training their daughter. He had Ash's dark hair and Misty's eyes.

"Sis is a princess right? And she's sleeping, so she's like sleeping beauty. That means that if you kiss her, she'll wake up!" The little boy explained his logic as if it were the answer to everything.

"That won't really work in this case..." Jonathan attempted to reason with the boy.

"Try it!" Aaron insisted. "Or I'm telling mommy!"

"But I didn't do anything," Jonathan pointed out.

"That's what I'm telling her!" Aaron nodded in determination. "I'm telling mommy that you won't wake sis and that it's your fault she can't play with me!"

"It really doesn't work that way," Jonathan tried to explain. He heard someone coming and it was only a matter of time before they got past the last line of security. Depending on who it was out there, as there were only a handful of people allowed in that room, he could be saved or teased. "Because... because I'm not a prince!"

"Oh," Aaron frowned in disappointment, then his face brightened again. "I'm a prince, right? You can borrow being a prince."

"That's not something that can be borrowed..." Jonathan voiced.

Volt approached the pair, curious as to their conversation. Before he could ask anything, Aaron spoke first. "Volt! Where can we find a prince to kiss sis?"

"A prince?" Volt blinked in confusion. "Why does she need a prince? She can't date if she's asleep."

"Knowing Ashy, she'd sooner battle," Jonathan laughed and hoped the subject would drop.

"Good point," Volt nodded. "Anyway, I'm here to say goodbye to Ashimi before I head to Kalos tonight. It took some effort, but I finally cleared my schedule, being a gym leader can get busy at times." He approached the middle of the chamber where Ashimi slept, her pokemon were all around her in a similar state. Ash used his aura techniques to keep the energy flowing through them so that their physical forms would not deteriorate with the lack of movement, and Misty was Ashimi's personal nurse during her coma. "Hey, Ashimi, I finally got some time to go on another Rocket mission. I'll be heading off to Kalos tonight, maybe you'll be awake by the time I return and Zero will be back along with you and the pokemon."

Another person entered the room, having made it past the multiple locks, armed guards and various security measures. "Volt, you're already here, came to visit Ashimi before the trip? I had the same thing in mind." Dorme made it across the chamber to where Ashimi was. "That's a lovely kimono Misty got her, the cherry blossom theme is pretty, I think I'll do her hair." Sometimes Dorme came by and took care of Ashimi's hair, giving her various styles. She carefully worked on the long red strands, weaving two braids that went around her head like a tiara and leaving the rest down. "There, that's a style fit for a princess. Maybe by the time I get back you'll actually be able to thank me for keeping your hair nice during the past few years. Can't wait to see the Chibi, I'm going to hug that little guy forever."

That was what they always said, that the next time they saw each other, Ashimi would be awake, though so far, it had not come true. It had to happen eventually, when Legend revealed itself Ashimi would return, or when she felt that there was nothing more to learn from Sir Aaron, whatever happened first, though it would most likely be the former. At least Sir Aaron managed to contact Ash in his dreams, so they knew Ashimi was okay and Zero was with her.

"I haven't been to Kalos in such a long time, I think the last time I was there was before you even started your journey." Dorme continued talking to Ashimi, though she couldn't reply and probably couldn't even hear. "The good news is that Volt is coming too and he's really good at carrying shopping bags," Dorme smiled mischievously.

Volt gulped and took an involuntary step back. He gave Jonathan a look of distress, but he only grinned in return and reminded, "you're the one who wanted the mission." Volt couldn't deny that, at least he could take comfort in the fact that Dorme didn't get upset when he told her he would be going to Kalos instead of Jonathan as it was originally planned. She merely recited her plans to him as if she was just as happy.

"I'm going to check out the Tree of Beginnings and see if I can find any signs of trespassing. I'll be back before tonight, so I'll see you off then," Jonathan announced.

"Dorme," Aaron suddenly piped up.

"What is it, sweetie?" Dorme smiled at the little boy.

"If there are princes at Kalos, could you bring one for sis?" Aaron requested.

Dorme laughed, "her prince might be closer than we know."

"Really?" Aaron's eyes shone with anticipation. "Then he's coming here, and he'll wake sis, and we can play?"

"Don't worry, your sister will wake up soon, with or without a prince, I'm sure of it," Dorme replied. "It's a good thing too, because most princes, except you, are not smart enough to know when they like a girl and take years to figure it out. If she had to wait for a prince she'd be asleep for another five years." Dorme laughed as if it was some kind of private joke that flew over everyone else's heads. "I think I'll tag along to the Tree of Beginnings, if we take one of the new hovercrafts it won't take long."

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For the most part, things looked peaceful in the area surrounding the Tree of Beginnings. Save for the dried up time flowers, there was no indication of anything being wrong. Jonathan, Dorme and Volt got as close as possible to the mountain, without getting close enough for its defenses to activate. "Any ideas?" Jonathan inquired.

Dorme shrugged, "none."

"Should we get a bit closer?" Volt asked.

"I suppose," Jonathan agreed. "If we're too close I'm pretty sure we'll notice right away, or be made to notice, then we'll just get away."

The three quietly approached the mountain, but there were no signs of hostility, so they continued getting closer. "This is weird," Dorme finally voiced. "We should have been attacked by now."

"I agree, there's definitely something wrong here," Volt added.

"Let's check it out," Jonathan headed further in. He knew they weren't supposed to be there without official authorization and proper equipment, but nothing had happened so far. "You think Mew is okay?"

"If the boss had caught him, we would have heard about it. Maybe Mew stayed away for too long or something?" Dorme theorized, though none of them knew exactly how the Tree of Beginnings worked.

They venture further into the mountain, receiving no interference from anyone. They paused in front of a tunnel and, as they had gone that far without finding anything, they went in. "Do you think the Tree of Beginnings is..." Volt fell silent, but his friends were already looking at him expectantly, so he finished, "dying?"

"It does feel like a lifeless mountain," Jonathan observed. "Isn't this place connected to Mew? Can legendaries even die? I always thought they were so powerful that a natural death was not possible and who would have the power to hurt a legendary badly enough to kill it? Who would have the power without Team Rocket knowing about it?"

"Good question," Dorme let out a breath, she was starting to get impatient with the uneventful exploration, it further made her feel that something was very wrong. "This whole place is always being guarded and I didn't hear anything about intruders being detected, I'm sure the boss would have had a say in that."

"Yeah, and who could get past all the satellite security and all that stuff?" Volt added.

The situation reminded Jonathan of something that made him pause. "Legend..." he voiced in a small whisper, that did not go unheard by his companions. "Ashy was closely guarded and she was taken anyway."

"Are you saying that Legend is here?" Dorme gasped.

"Or used to be," Jonathan clarified. "If it were here now, it should have detected us and kicked us out, maybe in a way that we would think it's the normal defenses kicking in. There's no point in letting us go this far."

"Could Legend really intrude in a place like this undetected?" Volt tried to make sense of it. "It's made of negative energy and this place is..." The Vermilion gym leader suddenly reached a realization, "it's full of life and positive energy, if Legend was strong enough to keep itself unaffected, then it would be the perfect hiding place so Ash wouldn't be able to sense it."

"If that's the case then-" Dorme fell silent as she peeked into another tunnel past a close corner and drew in a sharp breath. "Look at this!" She pointed, unable to comprehend the sight before her.

"Regirock... Registeel... Regice... Statues?" Jonathan carefully approached the stones and observed their details. "I've never seen the real ones in person, but these are exactly like the holograms from the Rocket database, and that's supposed to be pretty accurate."

"Am I the only one who thinks it makes no sense for mere statues to be here?" Volt inquired, hinting at a theory that felt too much to be true, yet he had to wonder. "I mean, who sculpted them and why here? Unless..."

"Unless they're not rocks? Could Legend have done this to the actual pokemon?" Dorme stared at the statues, as if expecting them to show signs of life.

"That's what we'll have to find out..." Jonathan called headquarters, this was definitely something worth reporting.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Something's off..." Ash met up with the group at the Tree of Beginnings. "This place is definitely still alive, I can feel it, and it still feels powerful, but it's odd that it's not doing anything." Ash closely examined the stone statues.

"Are they...?" Dorme quietly asked.

"Yes," Ash confirmed. "They're real... Something definitely happened here, even if I can't sense it, it's so strange. It might be the work of Legend, but at the same time this petrified state seems familiar, as if it was done with a massive amount of psychic energy, like what happened to me in the past. Back then, my aura drew power from everyone around me, they gave me their energy without even realizing it, but for the longest time I didn't remember." Ash paused and stared at the petrified pokemon for a long moment. "I think I can free them."

Ash closed his eyes in concentration as a soft pale blue glow surrounded him. Jonathan, Dorme and Volt gave him some room and watched quietly. 'It's time...' a voice echoed in Ash's mind, but he didn't stop what he was doing. The soft glow surrounded the pokemon one by one as he focused on each individually. Several moments passed at that rate. 'You must be careful...' Ash continued his task, though the voice gave a warning, it was soothing and he felt like he could trust it. Finally, the three pokemon were free from the stone, though they were far too weak to take any action, they just laid there, fainted, but they were alive and would eventually recover if they rested. 'She'll be there soon...'

Ash's eyes snapped open as he got out of his concentration trance and recognized the voice. "Sir Aaron!" He tried to reestablish the communication. He had never spoken to Aaron outside of dreams and even then, it was very brief. Ash realized everyone was looking at him expectantly and he smiled as he understood the news. "Ashimi is coming back!" The mountain shook violently all of a sudden as if awakening from a long sleep, but it did not immediately attack them, instead what was really going on was revealed. Ash's sudden happiness turned to worry, "Legend..." he gasped.

"Here, now?" Volt looked around as if expecting the fiend to appear anywhere.

"The strength I feel isn't from the mountain, it's from Legend, it was hiding behind the energy of the Tree of Beginnings, that's why no matter how strong it got I couldn't find it! Mew must have been resisting this whole time, unable to communicate with anyone." Ash clenched his fists in frustration. "I should have come here, I should have checked in person."

"No one could have known..." Jonathan quietly voiced. "So what now? We find Mew?" Assuming the legendary was still alive.

"Yes," Ash agreed, "the Tree of Beginning is very weak, but definitely still alive, Legend is still partially hiding behind its aura. Mew should be here, and Legend..."

"What?" Dorme gasped, "Legend is actually still here? But we walked right in and you freed the pokemon!"

"It wasn't easy," Ash admitted. "This must be the reason why Sir Aaron is sending Ashimi back, it's time to face Legend. It must have known that someone would investigate if the time flowers were affected and I would likely end up coming here. It let me free the pokemon so I would use up my energy, but that won't be enough to stop me. Ashimi will probably come here, I can't help it but to worry about her, but I trust her and I trust Sir Aaron taught her well. She might even be able to teach me a few things later." Ash walked towards one of the tunnels. "I'll go on ahead and find Mew, you three meet up with Ashimi and return here, call for backup too. I want to welcome her, but I really can't wait another second before going after Mew." Without allowing any room for arguments, Ash dashed into the tunnel.

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"Ashimi, wait!" Misty called out from the bridge of the massive battle airship she was on. Giovanni was on the same vessel and the only reason Delia agreed to stay behind at headquarters, was because someone had to take care of little Aaron. The young boy didn't know exactly what was going on and why his sister had to leave so soon after waking up, but he knew there was a certain tension in the air that made him uneasy. His grandmother was very good at keeping him calm though, cookies were an excellent distraction for small children. Right now the commanding vessel was in pursuit of Ashimi, who had taken off on Chari, with her pokemon.

"Don't worry, everything will be fine," Zero materialized in the airship. He now had the appearance of a teenager rather than a child, having become able to change into a more suitable projection to his mental age after his code was completely debugged. He could move freely through the wireless signals and could basically teleport anywhere the signal reached by digitalizing. He was currently borrowing Prism's satellite for those functions, though he was sure he could get his own later.

'That's right, aniki and I will be there too!' Nidoking cheered. Like all pokemon, he could be digitalized, and when he was, Zero could take him along when he teleported through the wireless.

"See you later!" Zero disappeared again, taking Nidoking with him.

"Wait a minute!" Misty called after him, but he was already gone. "There they all go, rushing in, Ash is in there too," she frowned. Well she wasn't about to be left out. She looked at the mountain where Ashimi had landed, she would have to hurry if she was going to catch up, but suddenly the airship shook and was thrown slightly back.

In a split second the deck was in turmoil as Giovanni shouted orders and the airship tried to break through an energy barrier that now surrounded the mountain. The lasers bounced off dangerously and the missiles exploded on the surface of the shield, their force redirected outward. A multitude of shadowy creatures began to emerge from the mountain and pass beyond the shield to the outside world. They were identified as pokemon, though they were clearly being controlled by Legend. Misty watched the chaos unfold, wishing she had time to get inside the shield before it closed her off.

"They can be captured!" Butch and Cassidy's son informed. Misty focused on that new information, as Giovanni issued commands to his troops. Apparently the controlled pokemon were harmless if they were caught. Doing so required them to be weakened, but it would be significantly faster than attempting to get rid of them permanently, especially with how lifelessly they moved while under Legend's control. It was only a theory, but maybe they would fight beyond their very lives if not captured. They were not using ordinary pokeballs, but rather a special edition of Team Rocket made pokeballs that was more forceful with the capture and locking mechanisms.

The airships continued to blast at the shield, though they were now being careful of the energy that bounced off. The ships began to move further back to more effectively dodge the consequences of their attempts to break through the shield. "I'm going out," Misty ran off before Giovanni even had the chance to reply. She would get some of those Rocket pokeballs and capture as many pokemon as she could before they reached the town.

xoxox xox xoxox

The mountain's expected defenses activated, though they were being controlled by Legend. Ashimi's return was expected and now that Legend had gathered all the power it could, it was ready for a showdown. It would not hide any longer, it would have the battle that was inevitably going to happen. The mountain shook with tunnels opening up and a strange substance dragging Jonathan, Dorme and Volt in different directions.

xoxox xox xoxox

Volt struggled free of the odd goop that tried to restrain his movements. He was in a large chamber with multiple tunnels that opened up to give way to several pokemon and closed behind them. The pokemon were surrounded in a strange shadowy aura and Volt knew right away they had to be being controlled. There was no telling how many pokemon wandered into the mountain, or were possibly lured in discreetly, to serve as Legend's army in this moment. "If it's a battle you want, I'll show you the true power of the Vermilion City gym leader!" Volt wasted no time in summoning all his pokemon; Raichu, Electabuzz, Magnezone, and the two Electrode, Celes and Rodes appeared from the red beams of their pokeballs.

Volt realized that one of the shadowy figures was not a pokemon, it was a person, but their identity remained a mystery because of the heavy dark fog around them. At least the shadows around the pokemon were not thick enough to hide their identity, not that it made things much better: they were all ground types, or a combination of another type and ground, two Sandslash, two Marowaks and three Golems. 'Are you ready?' A confident yet empty female voice was heard telepathically and Volt assumed it was the shadowy person. 'Who am I you ask? It doesn't matter who I used to be, now and forever, I am part of the Legend.'

"You... can read my thoughts," Volt glared at the girl. This would not be easy if she could predict his strategy.

'The air here is thick with psychic energy, even a non-psychic like yourself can manage telepathy. Connect your mind with your pokemon and lead them in battle without words and without pause. May they move as fast as your thoughts...' The mysterious girl went on the attack. She voiced no commands and Volt could no longer hear her voice in his head, but the pokemon reacted as if they knew what she wanted them to do.

The three Golems rolled towards Volt's pokemon in a bulldoze attack. He didn't even have time to speak when his pokemon were already moving out of the way. That in itself was not strange, the peculiar fact was that they moved as he pictured them in such detail that Volt realized he didn't even have to think in full sentences for the telepathy to work, it was as if his pokemon could sense what he wanted them to do and understood his mental images and thoughts.

The Marowaks tossed their bone clubs like boomerangs and Raichu sprang up, spinning in the air to bat them away with his tail. The clubs were tossed aside and the Marowaks rushed to retrieve them. Celes and Rodes rolled at them with great speed and tackled them away from their weapons. Simultaneously, the two Sandslash went after Electabuzz. They slashed at him rapidly, but Electabuzz was fast and evaded their hits, looking for an opening to fight back wouldn't be easy, but after a while the Sandslash slowed down a little and Electabuzz took the opportunity to hit them both with brick break.

Magnezone released super sonic waves into the chamber, focusing on the three Golems. Two of them crashed against each other and took a moment to go on the attack again, but the third did not relent. Magnezone responded by attacking with flash canon. The affected Golem tried to evade and crashed into a wall as it rolled. The other two were back in the battle and attacked with explosion. Magnezone was thrown back unconscious because of the double point blank explosions. A terrible pain invaded Volt, all of a sudden when Magnezone fainted and he was temporarily disconnected from his pokemon, he suspected the girl had something to do with that side effect. All his team felt it too, as if Magnezone's pain affected them all. Rodes acted rashly in the desperate moment and rushed towards the remaining golem. They both detonated on impact and fainted.

Volt gasped and tried to regain his bearings. "Magnezone, Rodes, return!" He recalled the two fainted pokemon out of harm's way. No doubt about it, Legend was drastically increasing the strength of the pokemon he controlled. Usually not even an explosion or two could knock out his pokemon. "Don't give up!"

The two Marowaks had picked up their bone clubs and were ganging up on Celes. Volt willed her not to explode. Raichu hurried towards her with great speed in a wild charge. He tackled one Marowak throwing him into the other and pushing them both down. The shadowy energy around them increased and they threw Raichu off. Celes joined him and they faced off against the Marowak pair together, evading the swings of their clubs, which they didn't seem as willing to throw as before. Celes attacked with a thunderbolt, although it wouldn't be effective, it was a good distraction. Raichu took the opportunity to hit both Marowak with iron tail and Celes charged in to tackle them when their bone weapons were lowered. She ran over both, pushing them on top of each other and as they tried to get up, Raichu finished them off with giga impact.

At the same time, Electabuzz was fighting the two Sandslash. They had managed to injure him with their sharp claws, but Electabuzz didn't show any signs of giving up. The two Sandslash attacked at the same time with poison jab. Electabuzz dodged and responded with low sweep. Since Electabuzz was taller, the Sandslash were focused on attacks coming from higher and were thrown out of balance. Electabuzz quickly went on the attack again with focus blast. One of the Sandslash was hit, but the other one dodged out of the way and countered with x-scissor, Electabuzz tried to dodge, albeit one of Sandslash's claws still reached him. Electabuzz jumped back and used another focus blast, they weren't expecting him to recover so quickly, so both the Sandslash were hit and tossed back in a pile. Wasting no time, Electabuzz used giga impact and knocked them out.

For a moment it looked as if the battle was over. Electabuzz, Raichu and Celes went to regroup with Volt when without warning a Rhydon broke through the cave wall and crashed into Celes with drill run. Raichu and Electabuzz hurried after them, but were interrupted by a massive Onix emerging from the cave floor. Celes tried to roll away and position herself for a counter attack, but the Onix attacked with earthquake and Rhydon took the opportunity to attack with megahorn and knocked her out. "Celes return! Electabuzz, Raichu, be careful!" Volt knew that they had already heard his thoughts, but he said it anyway. These pokemon were massively strong and they just kept coming, the others were probably in a situation that was just as bad. Suddenly, a portion of the cave wall behind the mysterious girl collapsed and a tall man in a military style Rocket uniform rushed in. He tossed what looked like a grenade at the girl's feet, though instead of exploding, it produced an electrical current that knocked her out. "Electro!" Volt gasped at the arrival of his brother.

"Hey!" Volt grinned and gave a thumbs up, Pikablue, the blue pikachu, hopped on his shoulder and Electavire stood beside him. Onix and Rhydon looked confused and unsure of what to do. "This place is under lockdown with some strange shield, but a few of us made it close enough to get in before it activated. I saw a Charizard carrying a redhead girl land near the peak of the mountain, I'm sure she already made her way inside..."

Volt smiled, "Ashimi's here!" He didn't have much time to celebrate, as the shadows around the unconscious girl faded and he stared in surprise. "Janebelle? I thought she was dead."

"I feel bad about lying to you, little bro, but that was a cover so we could interrogate her without Ashimi trying to interfere. She was released when we made sure she had nothing more to say and kept under watch in case anything suspicious happened, or if she led us to discover anything," Electro explained. "She eventually slipped away and we never heard from her again. There were suspicions that she might have been kidnapped by Tornado, but I'm not sure how she ended up here." The shadows around Onix and Rhydon increased and a multitude of Dugtrio emerged from all around the cave walls, floor and even the ceiling. The chamber shook with many rocks falling down. Electro picked up the unconscious Janebelle and hurried towards his brother, "take her and get out of here!"

Onix and Rhydon, roared fiercely with a renewed will to fight, it all had to be Legend's doing. "I can't leave you here!" Volt argued.

"Do what I say, that's an order!" Electro shouted. "Besides," he added in a softer tone, "Ashimi's going to need all her friends by her side if she's going to win this."

"You're right..." Volt realized. "You better come out of this alive!" Volt recalled Raichu and Electabuzz then went on the retreat, taking Janebelle with him.

xoxox xox xoxox

In a different area of the mountain, Dorme was battling a mysterious unknown opponent. She had called out Pidgeot to face her opponent's Braviary. Braviary started things off with aerial ace. Pidgeot dodged the hits and responded with hurricane. Braviary flew high, close to the tall cave ceiling and dove down, defying the strong winds in a an air slash. Pidgeot had to cease his attack to dodge out of the way of Braviary's claws. The eagle flapped his strong wings and caught up to Pidgeot in mid air, they became locked in combat with slash and peck attacks. Neither pokemon had time to break away from the close combat to use a different attack. There was nothing more to do but to keep fighting, there weren't any openings and Braviary wasn't lowering his guard.

Suddenly the mountain shook and rocks fell from the ceiling, causing the two bird pokemon to separate to dodge the falling debris. "Go for it Pidgeot, hurricane!" Braviary didn't have enough time to recover from his frantic flying to dodge the falling rocks and the hurricane attack caught him off guard. He tried to regain his balance in the air and countered with brave bird, but he was met with a hyper beam from Pidgeot, which finally knocked him out. 'I think I'm getting the hang of this telepathy thing,' Dorme thought. 'Too bad it's only temporary while we're in the mountain... Though I'm pretty sure the mountain isn't supposed to be this way normally.'

The shadowy figure recalled Braviary, the mystery person had only spoken a few words. Dorme knew she was a girl and there was something familiar about her. The next pokemon she called out was Venusaur and Dorme knew right away who she was dealing with. "Daala!" The vigilante didn't reply, she only sent Venusaur on the attack. Dorme knew that if she focused hard enough, only her pokemon would be able to hear her thoughts, as it happened with Daala, who showed no reaction to her identity being discovered. Dorme thought it was odd that she was hiding her face in the first place. She had been rather inactive lately, but she never have trouble with people seeing who she was in the past.

Venusaur began with a storm of razor leaves, which Pidgeot blew away with hurricane, as a gust wouldn't have been strong enough for the massive amount of leaves. Following the leaves, Venusaur's vine whips extended towards Pidgeot with such speed, that the bird couldn't dodge out of the way. He was trapped and pulled towards the grass type that held her opponent captive and prepared to fire a solar beam. Pidgeot's wings took on a metallic texture as he broke free from the vine whips with steel wing and dodged out of the way barely on time. The solar beam still caught his tail feathers, though he was still able to fight, albeit he was feeling out of balance in the air.

Venusaur attacked with petal dance before Pidgeot could fully recover. The bird tried to blow away the petals, though he couldn't do it before taking damage. Pidgeot bravely dove in for an aerial ace attack, which hit the target, but at the same time he was hit with Venusaur's takedown. The two pokemon were tossed back by the force of the impact and Pidgeot fainted. Venusaur roared as Dorme recalled Pidgeot and sent out her next pokemon: Bellossom. The smaller grass type charged against the much larger pokemon with a leaf storm, Venusaur replying with the same attack.

Bellossom took advantage of her speed and agility to dodge the leaves and get closer to Venusaur. She attacked with two consecutive energy balls, but Venusaur released a solar beam she had been charging behind the furious curtain of leaves. The attacks collided, tossing the pokemon back, especially the lighter Bellossom. 'Don't give up, we can do this!' Dorme thought as she focused on finding an opening. Bellossom, got up and out of the way just in time to dodge Venusaur's tackle, which sent the larger grass type crashing against the cave wall. Bellossom didn't waste the opportunity and used grass knot before Venusaur could fully recover. She followed up with a solar beam, Venusaur tried to fight back with a solar beam of her own, but it was too late. Bellossom's powerful solar beam collided with the target and knocked her out.

Daala wordlessly recalled Venusaur. "I know we can talk to our pokemon with our minds, but the silence is really getting to me!" All that could be heard were the sounds of the battle and nothing more. Daala wasn't usually this quiet, which made Dorme conclude that she must really be being controlled. Remaining silent still, Daala summoned Donphan to the battle field.

Donphan went on the move immediately with rollout. Bellossom jumped out of the way to avoid getting flattened by the larger pokemon. Dorme knew that Bellossom wouldn't be able to get in for a close range attack, in fact it was too risky to even try. Her best chance was to put some distance between the two pokemon and use long range attacks. While Donphan hurried to roll after Bellossom, the grass type attacked with toxic, filling the battle area with a poisonous mist.

Donphan became inevitably poisoned, but didn't even slow down on his attack. He rolled across the cave chamber and partially up a wall with the momentum, then pushed off sideways and landed heavily with an earthquake attack. The cave chamber shook violently and rocks fell from the ceiling. The earthquake threw everyone out of balance, Donphan hurried towards the fallen Bellossom, running her over. Bellossom remained flat on the ground for several seconds while Donphan assessed the situation.

Suddenly, Bellossom jumped up and used venoshock, Donphan was hit hard, but Bellossom was in too much pain and could no longer fight. None the less, she gave it her best effort and released her stun spores before fainting. Dorme recalled Bellossom and released Hitmonlee from his pokeball. Donphan was kicked across the cave chamber before he could react and crashed harshly against the wall. He slid down and tried to get on his feet, but another solid kick knocked him out.

Daala recalled Donphan and released her next pokemon, Rapidash. The unicorn dashed into the battle without hesitation with a flame charge attack. Hitmonlee jumped out of the way and dashed around Rapidash. The unicorn turned and charged in with mega horn. Hitmonlee evaded the hits until he was up against the wall. Seeing her opponent was trapped, Rapidash went for the final hit, but Hitmonlee jumped high, flipped in the air and landed on Rapidash's back.

Hitmonlee jumped off the unicorn as her flames flared to cover her entire body. The fighter waited a moment while charging a focus blast, then released it as Rapidash approached. Rapidash simultaneously attacked with fire blast and both pokemon were thrown back by the explosion that resulted when their powers collided. The combatants were left barely able to stand. Rapidash went on the offensive again with fire blast, Hitmonlee quickly dodged and stomped his feet as he stayed on the move, while causing an earthquake just strong enough to throw the fire type off balance. Hitmonlee took the opportunity to finish the battle with mega kick. Just before the kick landed, in a split second Rapidash released the last of her fire and left Hitmonlee burned.

Dorme knew Hitmonlee couldn't go on like that. He was a step away from fainting, so she recalled him. Daala released her final pokemon into the battle, Houndoom. Dorme called out the last pokemon she had as well, but she didn't feel backed into a corner at all, because this one was her strongest and she was feeling confident about winning. "Go, my beautiful Ninetales!" Dorme grinned victoriously, she knew there was no way Houndoom stood a chance.

Houndoom growled threateningly and refused to back down, the dark canine dashed towards his opponent and tried to attack with giga impact. Ninetales jumped out of the way and retaliated with a strong hyper beam, that came so fast there was no way for Houndoom to dodge. The dark type was thrown back several feet, colliding with the cave wall. For a second it looked like a one hit knockout, but Houndoom got back to his feet surrounded by a bright glow. This was Daala's secret move, her final chance to win. Dorme stared in shock as mega Houndoom stood before her, now on equal grounds with Ninetales.

The power of inferno burned around mega Houndoom as he dashed in for a beat up attack. Ninetales didn't even have time to counter now that Houndoom was so much faster in mega form. The fox howled and tried to break free from the close combat they were locked in. She blasted him with fire and tried to use it as a distraction, but mega Houndoom remained unaffected and broke through the flames, attacking with fire fang. Ninetales howled in pain, the blood from the wound soaking her beautiful fur. "This can't be!" Dorme ran to her pokemon's side in desperation, but Houndoom jumped and stood in front of her. Dorme stopped, knowing that the dark fire pokemon could incinerate her in a few seconds.

Ninetales howled as if calling her opponent back to fight her, angry that he had threatened her trainer, her voice echoed with her power and the psyshock hit mega Houndoom hard. Before the canine could recover, Ninetales reached out to him with her tails as if to curse him. "Houndoom!" Daala reacted quickly and tackled mega Houndoom out of the way, in too much of a rush to even think of recalling him. The shadowy energy around her faded and her eyes became focused. Houndoom returned to his normal form, giving Daala a confused look. The worry she felt seeing her pokemon about to be cursed freed her from the trance and from Legend's control, at least for a moment.

The shadowy energy returned around Daala, also appearing around Houndoom. "Ninetales, psyshock them both!" Ninetales used just enough power to knock them out. Dorme looked at the unconscious trainer and pokemon, she didn't know what to do with them, but one thing was for sure, she couldn't just leave them there. She recalled Houndoom back into his pokeball and called back Ninetales to rest as well, then picked up the unconscious Daala, hoping she could regroup before running into any more trouble.

xoxox xox xoxox

Volt emerged from a tunnel into a larger cave chamber, at the end of which he saw light. He hurried out to the surface of the mountain and saw the shield that surrounded it, trapping them inside. He looked down over the edge as many shadowy creatures shaped like pokemon and actual pokemon covered in shadows emerged from the base of the mountain. The latter were brainwashed pokemon, no doubt, and if he had to take a guess about the former, they were probably manifestations of Legend's power, and if that was the case, they wouldn't be defeated until it was. He saw Misty outside of the barrier further away, she was with Jessie, James and several others, fighting off the shadowy creatures.

A laser blast hit the barrier and threw Volt back, but the shield remained in place. From the other side of the mountain inside the barrier, a dragon pokemon flew towards Volt. She landed and the rider jumped off her back. He didn't say anything before sending Salamence on the attack. Volt released Electrabuzz and Raichu from their pokeballs to defend against the dragon breath. It was two against one, but Salamence was well rested, while Raichu and Electabuzz were not, so it all even out in the end and the battle could go either way.

The electric pokemon worked together to counter with a massive thunder attack, the energy of all the combatants exploding in a colossal display of power. Raichu disappeared into the mountain with dig, while Electabuzz used another thunder attack. Salamence attacked Electabuzz with dragon claw, just as Raichu jumped out behind her and used volt tackle. Salamence was forced to turn her attention towards Raichu, giving Electabuzz some time to recover.

Dorme appeared from another tunnel and spotted the battle. As she approached, the intense noise of the fight woke Janebelle, who gave Volt a confused look. "Janebelle?" She seemed defenseless enough, so volt set her on her feet, with Dorme watching, unknown to him.

"Who are you? What's going on?" Janebelle stared in perplexity, then her expression turned almost panicked as she realized there was something else, more vital, that she didn't know. "Who am I?"

At a loss, volt could only reassure her, "it's okay, I'll get you to safety somehow."

"You're here to save me?" Janebelle gave volt a long studying look, then stood on her tiptoes and stretched up her arm, reaching up just high enough to touch his hair. "You have such pretty golden hair."

Before Volt could react, Janebelle was suddenly on the floor, knocked out and a furious looking Dorme was glaring at him. "What do you think you're doing letting some suspicious girl touch your hair? I worked hard to make it as pretty as Johnny's!"

Volt jumped back, "I didn't mean to, I'm sorry! Wait a minute, why am I apologizing? I didn't do anything wrong!" Dorme growled and Volt gulped, "but I'm sorry anyway?" He offered unsure. "Aren't you more concerned about her being Janebelle, the girl who we thought was dead?"

"I don't care if she's the ghost of princess Aquamarine!" Dorme pouted.

"Ow..." Daala, who had been dropped by Dorme when she rushed out to get Janebelle away from Volt, had a rude awakening with the impact and dizzily got on her feet, examining her surroundings in confusion. "Arrow?" She looked at the shadowy figure on the opposite side of the battlefield. "Arrow!" She tried to approach him, but it was clear that he didn't recognize her or anyone else.

"Looks like you're awake, I mean really awake," Dorme observed. "What's going on?"

"Arrow and I had been tracking Tornado, or rather, Tornado was letting us follow him, I should have known it was a trap. The consequence is what you see," Daala explained with a tone of defeat, yet the promise of revenge. "Legend is controlling him, and it was controlling me too, wasn't it?"

"It looked that way," Dorme confirmed. She watched the battle progress, while also keeping an eye on Daala. There wasn't much she could do to turn the tides, her pokemon were not fit to battle Salamence, she was certainly a lot stronger than expected.

Raichu and Electabuzz landed another hit with a double thunder and it finally looked as if Salamence was close to fainting, but their electricity was drained and they wouldn't be able to fight on much longer either. The energy shield around the mountain flickered and one of the missiles from the Team Rocket armada went through. The barrier was back up quickly, but the damage from the missile was done and an avalanche of rocks fell down upon the ground. Volt recalled his exhausted pokemon before the falling rocks could further harm them and retreated. They thought Arrow would retreat, but he just stood there.

"Arrow!" Daala called out to him, but there was no way she could get to him on time. Salamence hurried towards him and shielded him from the falling rocks, both becoming buried under a big pile. Daala rushed over and started pushing the rocks aside, Volt and Dorme soon joined her. Salamence was injured and barely conscious, but alive. It looked like Arrow was unconscious, but he was still breathing and the shadowy energy was gone from around him. Salamence's actions must have somehow snapped him out of it at the last second. "It's okay, I'll make sure he's alright," Daala petted Salamence gently and returned her to her pokeball. Arrow woke with a start and stared wide-eyed at his surroundings. "That was fast," Daala returned the pokeball.

Arrow looked both shocked and in pain. "No..." He closed his eyes tightly as the shadows surrounded him again. The translucent black energy clung to him like armor and extended as a spear in his hand. His eyes were once again lifeless and lost.

"Arrow..." Daala stepped back in alarm. "Let him go, Legend, let him go!" She shouted in anger and frustration.

Arrow didn't reply, but he nearly stabbed her with his spear if not for the sky attack that knocked him off his feet. Altaria landed near the group and Stella jumped off her back. She had managed to get in when the barrier flickered earlier. "Daala, Arrow, Janebelle, I must detain you here, in the name of Team Rocket, do not resist. Dorme and Volt, you must regroup with Ashimi, she is somewhere in this mountain, find her and support her in this battle, that is your mission. Hurry up and go!" Not daring to question Stella when she was looking so ready for a fight, Volt and Dorme headed back inside the mountain through the tunnel.

xoxox xox xoxox

In a different area of the mountain... "Ashimi!" Zero looked around but found nothing that indicated where she could have gone. They got separated fighting off an ambush of shadowy creatures not long ago. "I guess it's just you and me, Nidoking."

'I'm ready, aniki, we'll fight through this maze and find Ashimi!' Nidoking replied with great determination, though it would take more than that, as the shadowy beings were coming back.

The shadows took on the shape of pokemon, though sometimes only partially and sometimes they were mixed up with the body of one creature, mismatching limbs and the head of another. "I could sense the satellite signal for a second, I'm pretty sure that was the force field flickering and now look at these creatures, Legend's getting sloppy. Ashimi mentioned she sensed her father moving closer to the core, he must already be there by now. Let's do our part too, Nidoking!"

Nidoking began by slowing the shadows down with earthquake and following up with thunder. He didn't stop there, releasing attacks in rapid succession. Two shadow balls, and then two more, collided with four shadowy enemies, but more were moving in fast. Zero zapped a few of them with his electrical powers, it was part of what he was meant to have, that he couldn't use before due to the bugs that used to plague his system in the past. The shadowy creatures kept getting stranger as they poured into the area. One had the body of a Drapion, Scyther arms and wings like a Flygon, another had a Heracross horn on a Reuniclus body with Barbaracle claws, and so on.

Focus blast, mega horn, fire blast, hyper beam, giga impact... Nidoking fought strongly and defeated many shadows, but there were simply too many and Nidoking was getting exhausted. "Sorry Nidoking, I can't do much without a satellite and even if I had one, all I could do inside here is..." Suddenly, Zero felt a wireless signal nearby and hurried towards Nidoking, then as soon as he reached him, they both disappeared.

Nidoking looked around in confusion, 'aniki?'

"I teleported us," Zero explained. He grinned over at Pixel, who had sent the signal to him, Comet was with her too. "It's okay now, hop into my data storage and rest."

'Okay, see you later aniki...' Nidoking faded away, he was digitalizing into Zero's own data, as he now had the capacity to carry data in himself, including pokemon data.

"You look even more like Comet now," Pixel ruffled Zero's orange and blue hair.

"You think so?" Comet observed, with an identical grin on his face.

"Yeah, you both definitely have the same cocky grin," Pixel nodded.

"Too bad we don't have much time to catch up now. You should be on your way to find Ashimi," Comet reminded. The shadowy creatures began to pour into the cave chamber they were at, having followed Zero. "Leave the rest to us."

"Right! Let's catch up after we win this!" Zero hugged them both then went to try to regroup with Ashimi.

xoxox xox xoxox

Ash reached the core of the Tree of Beginnings, where he found a bright bubble of light forming a shield around a feline silhouette. The light came from a crystal blade, a Honedge. It was rare to see such a pokemon in Kanto, especially one with such an appearance. Ash had seen a crystal Onix before and heard of other crystal pokemon being discovered, though they were extremely rare, and he had never heard of a Honedge before. The aura that came from the sword was soothing and familiar. The shield faded to allow Ash passage, though the glow still surrounded the pink feline.

"Mew..." Ash knelt beside the legendary, he had been weakened considerably because of the state of the Tree of Beginnings. He looked at the familiar blade, "you're..."

"I have been trying to protect Mew," a calm male voice echoed from the sword. "Mew is still fighting, the Tree of Beginnings has not given up. I sense Master Aaron's pupil is already here, she seeks out the Legend to put an end to this."

"Ashimi..." Ash wanted to run to her immediately and his intention was clear in the flow of his energy.

"I cannot feed Mew's energy for much longer, you will be most useful here. I have become exhausted," Honedge admitted, "but there is still something I can do if I go. You are the only one who can help Mew. You must trust your daughter to defeat the Legend and help her from here, this is the task you must do."

It was difficult to accept it, but Ash knew that Honedge was right. "I understand... Leave Mew to me." He began to project his aura onto Mew, taking Honedge's place. The energy flowed through the Tree of Beginnings with renewed vigor, Honedge had truly been at his limit, which made Ash wonder what more he could do in such a state. "Are you really..."

"It is I," Honedge replied before Ash finished the question. "My memories are unclear, but I know what I must do. I leave Mew and the Tree of Beginnings to you, I must go and do all I can..."

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox


Chapter 40: I borrowed some more names, as per the usual references: Genesis and Reno are from Final Fantasy VII, Ceodore is from IV and Fratley from IX, Abeloth is from Star Wars. If you're curious about what Abeloth was going on about Lance's family, they are alternate universe references about a certain someone in Nafatali's fanfic, The Inheritence. Ash using the aura to fight was inspired by another of my favorite stories, which you should also read, The Enigma Chronicles by Rocketlord6485, both Echoes and Sedition have some awesome action and character development as well as some very interesting origin stories.

Chapter 41: There's a little reference to the beginning of The Enigma Chronicles: Sedition by Rocketlord6485, in the end of this chapter. Pretty easy to see if you've already read it. It was that story that made me develop an interest in Aaron's character.

Chapter 42: Ash was petrified in the first movie during the battle of Mewtwo vs. Mew, those memories were locked away, but resurfaced years later due to Ash's aura abilities.
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