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View Full Version : The Target, The Victim, The Saviour


Krafty Quill
May 8th, 2006, 01:14 PM
My First post on this site. Please review.
I don't know what rules you guys have about censorship but just put it in the review if there's any problem

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The Target, The Victim, The Saviour

Fan Fiction By Krafty Quill

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Summary
Giovanni’s fury reaches its peak. Frustrated with the millions of failed attempts, he takes the rivalry one step further when he hires a professional hit man to take out Ash once and for all. Ash doesn’t realise that his time is running out. He must declare his love for Misty before it’s too late. He turns to the LEAST expected person for help in the matter.

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Author Notes:

Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me, except The Killer Cloud that is. Kind of corny name I know but I was too tired to think of anything else. This story is made for non profitable purposes, so just read and enjoy people.

This story was supposed to be a One Shot. I had it planned out and everything but the writing turned out to be a lot more than I expected. So I decided to break it up into two parts. Here’s the first. And please review if you really want to see the conclusion.

Youngins beware of the scene! I put a reasonable warning for ya'll young at heart and others who prefer not to read about that stuff. Don't worry, ya'll wont miss much.


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Part I

The staleness that lived in the air of the concealed room could only bring liveliness to those condemned of pure happiness. Affiliates of the extremely rich and excessively corrupt Team Rocket organisation looked up to the man that sat behind the head office’s desk. Two telephones sat on either side of his high-tech computer monitor, silent during the lunch breaks at which he would turn them off and save his ears from their constant ringing. But today, Giovanni didn’t turn them off to eat lunch in peace, but rather, to make peace.

What he considered peace was the end of the war between Team Rocket and that never-ending irritation, Ash Ketchum. Sure, he could have, and if repeated failure was any indication, should have hired better work to handle that segment of his business a good while back. But he couldn’t afford to assign higher-quality resources to what should have been a simple job. Economically, that would have been a great loss.

Thankfully, after the day was done, he wouldn’t have to endure any losses from Ketchum any more. Giovanni stroked the creamy fur of the Persian that sat beside him in an expensive, leather chair much like his own. “Don’t worry darling. Your master’s going to take care of everything.”

“Perr.”

Its feline purrs were one of the few pleasures that managed to soothe him in this world. He rose from his seat and travelled the ruby carpet to get to the window. Slanted window blinds prevented too much light from breaking into the room. The golden aura that littered the outdoors was rather contradictory to his preferable, inner environment. The tiny plant on his desk wilted to the side from the lack of sunlight. It was now an ugly looking thing, and the only reason he hadn’t gotten rid of it was because it reminded him of her.

He ran his fingers atop his dark, gelled hair, smoothing his palm on its flat surface before reaching the sharp tipped ends at the base of his neck. He’d get rid of the plant as soon as possible. His nag for keeping things that were of lesser value was now getting to him. Jesse and James had to go too.

If it wasn’t for the pleasures of her body, she would have been long gone already and if it wasn’t for the alliance with his wealthy father, he would have also been long gone. Suddenly, a pluck from the nearby speaker broke the silence in the room and startled him a little. He turned to look at it.

“Sir, she’s here,” a voice spoke through the crackling of radio air.

“Excellent,” Giovanni responded. “Send her in.” He crossed arms, waiting for his visitor’s entrance with a grin. The Persian wagged its tail with excitement.

The door was barely halfway open when the figure entered the room, closing the door behind it in as much silence as it had opened. The white, open-belly, swimsuit armour she wore brought a new contrast to the dark room. Strangely, her tall white boots made no sound as she approached her hirer, face hidden beneath her hood. “I’m here for the job,” she said in a low voice lacking emotion.

Giovanni smiled, gazing at her slim figure in the revealing outfit. “All about business. I admire that.” But he received no recognition for his complement. He re-thought what he had just said, releasing it wouldn’t look professional had he not lived up to it. He went behind his desk and retrieved a file neatly tucked in the top drawer. “Here’s your target,” he said, offering her the document.

She left his hand lingering in the air for a second before taking the file. As she shuffled through its contents, she learned more about the target. “This boy?” she said, a little disappointed. “The great Giovanni of the ever-so-great Team Rocket fails to eliminate a mere child? I’ve seen it all. I’m now ready to commit to a fulfilled death.”

“He was never the object of elimination in the first place. I dispersed various members of my organization to retrieve as many rare Pokémon as they could from all the regions, Hoenn, Kanto... you name it. But it seems some members are just not as strong as I require them to be. But don’t worry.” He chuckled. “I’ll take care of them.”

“If you don’t want him dead then why call me?”

“Back then he was nothing but a boy to me. I was so naïve to believe that three of my recruits could take care of him with the utmost ease. But that’s a mistake I won’t make again. He’s a special case.” Giovanni fell silent. Suddenly his fists began to tremble, with anger seemingly. Then, quickly, cooled down again. “We wanted nothing more than his Pokémon but now I have certified information that he is very close to challenging the Elite Four, then League Champion, and believe me the challenge he’ll give them will be more than enough. I can’t allow him to be the League Champion. With his current track record with Team Rocket, all the added benefits of being Master will pose a severe threat to all that I have worked so hard for. I cannot allow that to happen.”

“Very well,” she breathed from beneath the white hood. “You need not tell me the cause. Most of my employers don’t.”

“Hrm … sorry. I should have known you wouldn’t be interested in that. Take the file, all the information you’ll need is disclosed in there. Bring me his head and I’ll award you greatly.”

Without another word, she took her leave. Giovanni looked at his hand, noticing that it was still a bit shaky. This had become such an emotional affair. Much too emotional for his liking. He picked up a portrait from his desk and slowly stroked the picture with a gentle finger. “I’m sorry I have to do this. But this is as much for you as it is for me.” He pressed it close to his chest and looked to the skies outside.

ooOOoo

The day was young and the winds were free. A slim finger soared through the air aboard a beautiful Pidgeot. It was a special bird in that where other species of the same kind had brown feathers, it possessed pearly silver, sure to make the clouds unappreciated for their relative dullness. Its rider was dressed as if to camouflage with the clouds, her white cape fluttering behind from the gusts.

The opening of her hood looked down to green herds of bushy tree tops. She was almost at the spot. Crickets and animalistic clicks could be heard even from her position. She would’ve considered this area beautiful in her early childhood. Back when she used to have a name other than The Killer Cloud.

She reached into a sachet attached to the diagonal strip strapped across her torso and extracted a Blue and Red PokéBall, a GreatBall to be exact. She thanked her Pidgeot with a caring brush. The bird understood the gesture, and the order. It spread its wings and began to descend at an astonishing speed, showing no signs of slowing down. Once a good distance above the tree top, its rider beamed a flash of red light that absorbed it back into its home. The Killer Cloud was left to agilely drop down, dodging hard tree bark and passing through itchy leaves before making a clean landing on a thick branch.

Viridian Forest. According to the file, the target had completed his mission of collecting eight Gym Badges. He was now on his way back home, to visit his mother before challenging the Elite Four. A warm soul, she thought, shame he wouldn’t live past the day.

The target was currently in Cerulean and had no Pokémon that could fly. Therefore, he and friends were travelling by foot and had to route through the forest to get to Pallet. It was the perfect spot.

Of course she was far from perfectly hidden within nature but targets hardly ever spotted her and those who did, had effectively seen their last sight anyway. She crossed her arms and sat down, legs hanging over the branch. It was just a matter of time now.

This assignment started off a little strange, with her hirer telling her his reasons and all. She didn’t enjoy hearing her own emotions, let alone others. Yet, she hadn’t seemed to forget how to read them. Giovanni had his reasons, driven by emotion, but she didn’t believe the emotion he displayed back in his office was the driving force. There was another reason.

She shook her head, shrugging it off. It was none of her concern. This was precisely why she preferred not hear more than she needed to. It violated the number one rule of the business and could possibly hinder the mission’s success. She couldn’t let it happen. Five years in the profession and she hadn’t missed a target. And she wasn’t about to break the record.

ooOOoo

“I-I can’t Brock,” Ash said to his friend sitting besides him on the low, steady bridge. He picked up a rock and threw it at the water. It bounced three times upon the blue surface before finally sinking through. “I just ... don’t know how to do it.”

“When I started out I didn’t know how to do it either,” Brock admitted. He was sitting on his bottom with his legs folded and his arms crossed – usually a sign of sincerity to his character. He turned his straight face to Ash, slit eyes considering his companion with concern. A corner of his lips twisted into a half smile, breaking the tension. “It’s funny. For something that is doomed to become a significant part of a man’s life, it has a very insufficient supply of tutors.”

A smile came to Ash’s face. “No offence, Brock. But you still don’t know how to do it.”

“Argh!” he complained about the insult with a hoarse scream. “Hey! Who’s teaching who around here?”

“You’re right.” Ash sighed and bowed his head in defeat. “Go on.”

“As I was saying...” he began. “Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, teaches you like experience does. Practise, practise and practise. I know it may seem like all the practising in the world wouldn’t make a difference but believe me it does. This is something you can’t learn by just reading a book.”

“Sorry Brock, but I’m starting to think girls are something you can’t learn at all.”

“Well no two girls are the same, Ash. But they all have the same basic needs, security, honesty, and the list goes on ... forever,” he muttered to himself. “But by mastering how to satisfy their basic needs, all you’ll have to do is learn to adopt to the little extra each girl throws at you.”

“Wow,” Ash said. It felt like he was talking to a whole other person. “I’ve never heard you talk like this, about girls anyway. I always thought you just go do your goofy thing with your little pick up lines and that was it.” Brock smirked at the backhanded complement but Ash wasn’t done there. “So how come it never works for you? You always end up making yourself look like a fool. I don’t want to make myself look like a fool.”

“So you’d rather not try anything at all, Ash? Is that what you’re saying?” Brock enforced with a little anger. He sighed and calmed down. “Let me tell you something, Ash. You’ve got to live everyday of your life as if it were your last. Fools live, Ash, but cowards don’t.”

The two sat without conversation, letting the soft swishes of wind entertain their ears. Maybe Brock was right, Ash thought. He may not have been doing well but at least he was doing something. He shook his head. This was so much more difficult than facing that last Gym Leader for his final Badge. One would think that the fact that he knew Misty for so long would make things easier. But instead did quite the opposite.

“Pika!”

They were coming! Ash sat up straight and cleared his throat, then turned to Brock.

“Just do what I told you.”

“Right,” he agreed, trying his best to stop the uncertainty from flowing into his voice. Who would have thought the day would come when Ash would have to ask for help with the ladies from Brock? The thought alone put much doubt in his heart.

“Pikapi,” Pikachu handed Ash one of two ice-creams he was holding. He took a seat beside his trainer.

“Thanks, Pikachu.” Ash ran his tongue along its sensationally cold surface. “Mmmm, chocolate, I love it!”

“Here you go Brock,” Misty gave him his. She sat with her legs folded, between Ash and Brock. She turned to Ash so suddenly, he almost dropped his cone. Her ocean blue eyes glared fiercely at him. “Don’t you have something to tell me, Ash?”

Butterflies began to flurry within his stomach. How did she know? Brock wouldn’t have tipped her off. He may not have been the best row model but he understood that for the best to occur, he’d have to do it on his own terms, his own timing. But it was too late anyhow. This was the only time he had left. This was it. He gulped and opened his mouth.

“How rude!” she said before a word could escape him, putting her free hand against her waist. “Can’t you even say thank you? I paid for it, Ash, not Pikachu. It’s the last time I buy you ice-scream!”

“Misty, I – what?” That was unexpected. He began to laugh at himself.

“And you think it’s funny do you?”

“Calm down, Misty,” he said, still shaking some of the laughter from his voice. “I thought you were talking about something else. Thank you very much for the ice-scream.” He took another lick of his ice-scream when something came to mind. “Hey! Brock didn’t say thank you either! Why didn’t you tell him off?”

“Er – Ash, don’t put me in your little feuds, please.” Brock hated getting between them.

Misty ignored the question, convincing herself it was just another one of his excuses. She enjoyed her strawberry flavour treat slowly. Then she looked over to the near distance, towards the entrance of a pack of tall trees. “There’s Viridian Forest, guys. We’re almost there.”

ooOOoo

Footsteps.

She woke up from her half state of sleep. The trees were lousy conversation partners, making it harder to stay awake. She yawned and stretched out her arms.

Footsteps, again. It wasn’t just her imagination. Her eyes surveyed the area for the origin. But she didn’t see anyone. No one ... but ... a Pikachu? The target had a Pikachu! It must’ve been him approaching.

She pressed a button on her wristband, which had the specialised band pop up an arrow launcher. She reached to her back and pulled out an arrow from a cylindrical sachet beneath her cape. Having loaded her wearable Bowgun, she took aim.

The Pikachu drew nearer and there was someone else coming short behind it. She waited for them to get closer so she could get a clear head shot, right between the eyes. But the boy that came into view wasn’t the target but ... one of the target’s friends. Where was the target?

The tall, darker skinned boy seemed to be talking to the Pikachu. Maybe she could learn what she needed to know. She lowered her weapon and listened in.

ooOOoo

“Pika?”

“I know you don’t understand Pikachu but we’ve got to leave them alone. You see, Ash has something very important to ask Misty,” he tried to explain. But Pikachu just sat there, confused, with its head slightly tilted to the side. Brock sighed. “I know it’s hard to understand, buddy. But you’ll get it someday when you meet that special Pikachu.”

Whatever, Pikachu probably thought.

“Don’t worry, they’re just a little further behind these trees,” he said pointing in the direction. “My guide book says there’s another path there. The road we’re travelling will join into theirs and soon you’ll be reunited with your dear trainer.”

“Pika!”

Hopefully, this little ‘scene’ Brock created would give Ash enough time. But he was going to need a lot more than hope to swallow those butterflies.

ooOOoo

“Behind those trees!” she whispered to herself. That was all she needed.

She stood up and jumped across to the next tree branch.

ooOOoo

“‘Let’s split up’, he said,” Misty said, imitating Brock. “What does he think this is? Scooby Doo?”

“Well, it’s a good thing to know your way around places. Who knows? Maybe we could get lost someday and have no clue how to get out,” Ash offered.

Misty suddenly stopped and turned to him. She looked into his eyes and noticed a tinge of nervousness. And she was alone with him. It was all becoming clear. “Ash, why did Brock really want us to split up? And don’t tell me it’s because he wanted to take a look at those ‘rare trees’ we saw on that path. He wouldn’t have needed Pikachu for that.”

**** it, she was too smart. She caught on. He was just going to have to outsmart her with his dazzling charm. Too bad he didn’t have any. He tried to remember everything Brock told him and took one last deep breadth. “Misty, forget about Brock. I orchestrated this entire thing.”

“Ash? Why are you smiling like that?”

He didn’t answer. Instead, he walked with his shoulders high, closing the gap between them. “Misty,” he whispered with his face only a few inches away from hers. “You’re a girl ... and I’m a boy.”

“Ash? Why are talking like that? Are you trying to make your voice deeper or someth- ”

He hushed her with a finger against her lips. “Don’t talk, just listen.” He stepped away and began to circle her in a confident walk. “But Misty, I’m not a little boy anymore and,” he scanned her body and especially her matured chest. “You’re definitely not a little girl anymore. Take a Caterpie. It starts out as an innocent little worm with nothing but development on its mind. Then it jumps into its cocoon, now a Metapod. And when it blossoms, it comes out seeing a whole new world, taking much notice in the opposite sex, attracting it with its beautiful wings. Well, Misty, you’re the Butterfree and you’ve got me whipped.”

“Why ... Ash,” she found herself lost for words. “Why didn’t you tell me you felt like this sooner? I always thought that you didn’t like me. That you looked at me as you would an older sister. Always picking fights with me and being such a brat.”

(SCENE NOT FOR YOUNGINS)

Ash got within her space again. “That was the boy, Misty. I’m ... the man.” He pressed his lips against hers. They were so gentle and tender. She quickly gave into his affection and returned it. Time became a non-factor as they went at it. It felt so good. Ash wanted more. He placed his hands on her arms and began running his fingertips up and down her silky skin. With her lips locked with his, he could feel her moan. He reached for those long legs he always wanted to grab but she broke away before he could get a hold of them.

“Ash, we shouldn’t,” she said unconvincingly and still panting from the passion.

Hot blood was running through his vessels. He couldn’t stop even if he wanted too. He walked up to her again and initiated another kiss. This time, he was really pumped, and ended up smacking her bottom.

She broke off again, and stepped back. She had mixed emotions. She felt a little disrespected from his playful smack but at the time admired the fact that he was in control. Control of himself ... and control of her. And not afraid to show it. She gave into her urges and rushed over to kiss him this time.

Ash’s hands found their way to her legs. He exhibited his strength as he lifted her by the thighs, carrying her to a nearby tree. He pressed her back against the trunk and began to kiss behind her ears, then her neck, her lips, her chin, her upper chest...

She squealed from the pleasure, her heart beating faster with every kiss. She could feel his hard member pressing against her, begging her to open up. “Oh ... you’re far ... from a ... littleboy ... Ash.”

Her words fuelled him further. Her yellow shirt and white lacy undergarments dropped to the ground with a silent thump. He thanked the stars that Brock’s advice actually worked. What a friend. He looked at Misty, red bangs scattered across her face in sweaty heat. She was so hot. What a lover. Her high pitched moans sang songs that aroused him as he fondled her exposed body. Next, small, blue jean-shorts met the clothes on the grass.

He was ready to go for the kill. He began to work his fly open...

“Oh, Ash...”

“Ash.”

“Ash!”

“Ash, Ash, Ash,”

“Ash!”

“ASH!”

(Okay, Youngins can continue here)

He shook his head vigorously, feeling a tad lost as he looked at all the trees around him.

“ASH!” she looked at his face. He looked a little flushed. “Ash? What? ... Are you day dreaming?”

He looked at the red-haired girl to his left. It was Misty. “I-I guess so.”

“Must’ve been some dream. You’re practically sweating.”

“Oh, it was nothing,” he lied.

“I’m sure.” She smiled devilishly. “I didn’t know Brock was into trees.”

Trees? Ash thought. Brock wasn’t into – yes he was! “Oh you mean the whole splitting up thing? Yeah, well he surprised me too.” The path they were walking would be meeting up with Brock’s and Pikachu’s soon. It was either now or never. “Misty, I need to tell you something.”

“Well, go ahead, Ash. You know you can tell me anything.”

He looked at her blue eyes, so calm yet so daunting. They alone frightened him into submission.

“Are you nervous?” Misty detected. “Since when were you ever nervous around me?”

“I-I...” He stopped. He was disgusted at himself. He had to trust Brock’s word and pull himself together. It worked once already, even if it was a dream, no reason it wouldn’t work again. They say if you think big enough, dreams can come true. “Misty, you know Caterpie, right?”

“You mean you built up all that tension just to talk to me about some BUG?” she said. “You know I hate bugs, Ash.”

“No, no, no, Misty. Just listen, don’t talk.” His thoughts were still being shuffled together. But anxiety had him rush the process. “You see, your like a Caterpie, I-I mean, a Butterfree –”

“How dare you call me a BUG! You should be nervous if that’s what you were thinking of saying!” She held her hips and frowned a little.

“No, no, no.” He thought of something Brock would say. “We’ve got to live everyday like it’s our last.”

“?” Misty was completely confused.

Ash sighed, a big breadth. “Never mind...”

ooOOoo

Carefully, she landed on a firm tree branch as silently as she could. She could hear them talking. They were coming. She reloaded her Bowgun and pulled back on the arrow’s tail. She brushed aside the leaves that got in the way of her line of sight with the tip of her weapon. The red league cap was floating ever so close. The red-haired girl was partially blocking her target but not enough to be regarded a problem for her meticulous aiming.

She now had a clear shot but she wanted more than that. She wanted it between his eyes, always striving to maintain standards. It had become a trademark. She traced the movement of his head with her Bowgun, just waiting for him to give her an opening. THERE!

Suddenly, a fierce pair of claws dug themselves into her shoulders. She screamed from the pain as she was lifted into the air by a misplaced Charizard, inadvertently shooting the arrow at some random place. She looked up, angered by the interruption it caused. Her legs dangled in the air helplessly as she gained height. She released her grip from one the Charizard’s shins, to reach for a knife attached to her thigh by a black band.

With a swift slice, it was the dragon’s turn to shriek, or more like growl, forcing it to loose its grip on her. Infuriated white smoke was puffed from its nostrils. Its menacing dark eyes looked down, catching the sight of its falling target. It spun around and nosedived back to catch it, the mild blood leaking from its leg fuelling its fury.

Powerful winds flooded the air around the falling assassin, whipping her cape and hood about. She pulled out her GreatBall but quickly lost grip due to the tremendous downward speed, letting her last hope drop to the earth faster than herself. And if things couldn’t get any worse, that **** Charizard was heading straight for her. Her back cracked with pain as she abruptly met the ground, expressing the hurt with a loud screech.

Survival was all she could think about. She turned her head and found the GreatBall was a hand away. All the power she summoned to crawl towards it accumulated to nothing but a defeated sigh. Her head fell back to ground, her eyes witnessing her time coming to an end in the blurry form of approaching, fiery wings. Then, everything went black.

ooOOoo

“Did you hear that Pikachu?” Brock looked down to the mouse Pokémon.

“Pika.” It nodded its head in confirmation, with a serious glow in its eyes.

“Someone needs help! Let’s go!”

They sprinted to where they heard the screams.

ooOOoo

“I’d love to stay and hear you babble, Ash, but some things are more important.”

“Of course.” He also heard the scream and followed her dash with his own.

ooOOoo

Numbness ate at her bones and rendered her muscles useless. She couldn’t move an inch and could see anything but darkness. She groaned, trying to grit her teeth and re-install any sensation she could. Deep grumbles resonated within her throat and aching itches stung her shoulders.

“Huh? Is she awake?”

A voice. It alerted her into silence. She preferred to remain a non-threat until she acknowledged with whom she was dealing with.

“She doesn’t look awake to me.” It was someone else.

“But I heard her saying something.”

“Funny, I didn’t hear anything, Ash.” This one was female. “Are you sure that Charizard didn’t crisp your brains?”

“Ha ha, Misty,” the boy called Ash scoffed. “Are you sure it didn’t crisp yours? Oh wait! It couldn’t do that. You’d have to have a brain first!”

“Knock it off guys,” a strong, serious tone hushed them both. It could only be a man. “I’m going to have to agree with Misty, Ash. I didn’t hear her say anything either. What did you hear her say?”

“She said ... ‘ugh argh ugh.’”

“Oh yes, the language of the dumb. That explains why only you could pick it up.”

“Dumb am I? Well it was my Pikachu that scared off that Charizard! Not you!”

“ASH!”

“No, Brock, she started it! If I’m dumb then she’s stupid! So stupid she makes her sisters look like geniuses! Either one of them would’ve given us better company. It’s such a shame I didn’t break one of their bikes!”

“ASH! STOP IT RIGHT –”

“And they’re a lot prettier than her too! And –”

A slap. Silence. She followed the sound of footsteps, sketching the position of the owner drifting away. Silence, again. There was so much tension in the air that even someone as cold and dead to emotion as her could feel it.

“Ash ... how could you?” Sobs followed. “You know how I feel about my sisters. I never thought you’d ... you’d ... ever saying something so hurtful.”

“Misty, I...” he tried weakly.

But it was too late, rapid footsteps soon faded to nothingness.

ooOOoo

The beeps of the hospital equipment attached to the woman he saved kept the room from the dead of silence. Ash looked at her lying in bed, her long blonde hair neatly tucked below her head and to the sides of her face. She looked quite young and could easily pass for a teenage prom queen. If she woke up, she probably would be real comfortable with the whiteness of the room. The bed sheets were white, the tiles were white, the walls were white, even her patient gown was white. When they found her unconscious and below that hovering Charizard, she was dressed almost entirely in white.

She looked so peaceful in her sleep. He was glad she was enjoying her stay. Because he wasn’t. Hospitals were one of Ash’s least favourite places; he learned from his plentiful, previous run-ins. But thanks to Brock’s power - carrying her over his shoulders, and that guide book of his, they managed to get to the closest hospital before it was too late. And Misty...

Her Starmie was a great help against the flames of the Charizard. If only he told her that instead of bragging about his Pikachu, maybe she wouldn’t be crying in the next room. He smiled at his small yellow friend sleeping on the floor beside his feet.

But not even Pikachu couldn’t take his mind of Misty. He looked through the crack of the open door, passed nurses and hospital officials that were walking about, and saw Brock comforting her with a hand on the shoulder. He was asking her something and she kept on nodding her head. He left her to find a seat in the lobby and then re-entered the room.

“That was real low, Ash,” he said with his arms crossed.

“I know.” Ash bowed his bead. “It’s just that she always gets me so angry. She takes everything I say and makes a negative comment about it.” A friendly hand patted his shoulder.

“Notice how she doesn’t do that with me,” Brock said, taking a seat next to Ash’s. “She’s testing you. She knows that the truth always comes out when someone’s not in the right of mind. On the brink of death, in the flames of rage...”

Ash shook his head. “But that’s not true, Brock. I didn’t mean anything I said about her or her sisters.”

“Yes, Ash. Unfortunately, the test is a double edge sword. Sometimes it can bring out all the built up feelings within you that you’d rather keep at bay. Or sometimes it can bring out ********. Take a drunkard. There are two types of drunkards. Those that get high and end up saying things and expressing feelings they otherwise wouldn’t. And those that get high and talk the most absolute crap you could ever imagine. What Misty’s trying to do is get you in that ‘mode’ and see how you react. But phase two of the task – which is deciphering whether you’re the truth talker or the crap talker – isn’t so easy. You can guess which one she believes right about now.”

“But why all these tests? Why can’t she just ask me? She thinks I wouldn’t tell her the truth?” Ash shook his head again. “All this complicated stuff is just going to end up getting her hurt when she doesn’t have to be.” He turned to Brock. “There’s something else that’s bothering me.”

Brock paid attention. He never saw a more serious face on Ash.

“When I was saying all that stuff about her and her sisters, there was this deep feeling of satisfaction within me. I wanted to hurt her. I wanted to hurt her so bad. As much as I could. Not physically of course. But emotionally, only because it’s so much worse. I wanted to let it all out and probably would’ve if she hadn’t slapped me. I tried to find everything I knew about her and use it against her. And every word I said made me feel that much better.” He let out a weak laugh. “Am I sick? Maybe I’m the one that should be stuck in this hospital.”

“No. We all get our fair share of episodes. It’s those of us pull ourselves together that end up true winners. And by the looks of it, you need to pull yourself together pronto!”

“What do you mean?”

Brock pointed towards the lobby, directing Ash to the sight of a young man offering Misty a box of tissues. She was smiling and laughing too. “You’re not the only guy she’s ever going to be talking to her whole life.”

Ash felt a sharpness in his chest. He didn’t know what the feeling was. Jealousy, perhaps. “Help me, Brock. I ... I don’t want to lose her.”

“Okay, Brock to the rescue!” he stood up and struck a pose. “First, you’ll have to gain her forgiveness, blah blah. I’ll skip that. I’m sure you already know how to do that. The next step, well seeing as the first approach didn’t work, we’ll try ... wait for it ... a really cool ... pick up line!”

“Er – Brock, somehow I don’t think –”

“Don’t worry little man,” he patted Ash atop his cap. “I’ve got plenty I’ll be willing to lend you. Try this ... Um, sorry, Misty, but could you help me pull out this arrow Cupid shot in back?”

“No, wont work.”

Brock thought, sticking out his tongue a little and caressing his chin. “Alright, how about this ... I didn’t know humans could also perform ‘Attract’ techniques.”

“No. No reference to Pokémon, please,” he said, remembering his previous attempt.

“Okay, Try this one ... did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”

The whole angel thing, Ash thought, rolling his eyes. It was played out. He shook his head.

“Don’t think so? How about this ...”

ooOOoo

Misty fluttered another tissue with a blow of her nose. “I’m sorry. I’m probably finishing all your tissues. I usually don’t cry like this.”

“It’s alright.”

The young man besides her cleared a tear from her cheek with a gentle brush. His well defined cheeks and rigid jaw were to die for. His eyes were blue, just like hers, but much deeper and his hair was dark brown and gelled neatly. He had a cute little half smile too. Even though she told Brock she wanted to be alone, Misty couldn’t help but let him comfort her.

“If you look this beautiful when you’re crying, I probably couldn’t imagine you happy.” He spoke with a deep, melodic voice. “Oh, that didn’t come out too good did it?”

She giggled. “No.”

“Well let me try again.” He grabbed her hand and led her to stand up with him. He placed a kiss on her hand and proceeded to lead her into a twirl. “That’s funny?” he said, once she had made the full three sixty and was now looking at him again.

“What?” Misty got a little worried. Was there something on her face? Something wrong with her clothing? What?

He smiled a half smile. “I would think most angels had wings on their backs.”

“...” She felt her knees get weak. She had to sit down before she fell over. No one had ever been so interested in her. It was a lovely feeling. “Thank-thank you ...” She didn’t know what else to say. She felt so ... stupid.

“What, am I making you nervous?” he said with a face so straight she couldn’t tell if he was being serious or not. “I’m sorry. Sometimes this ‘thing’ just takes over my body and makes me say stupid things.” Misty shook her head slowly as if to say he shouldn’t be sorry. “You’re right,” he said, interpreting her gesture. “It’s not like it’s my fault anyway. I mean, Cupid’s the one to blame.”

“...” Her heart was really beating. His dangerous charm was going to give her a heart attack.

“Come here,” he said so low it sounded seductive. But she didn’t mind. She let him pull her close to his chest with one arm. He used his other hand to caress her red hair.

She felt so warm in his embrace, and his muscles felt so strong. She didn’t want him to let go. Everything seemed to fade away ... her problems ... her sisters ... Ash.

He kissed her forehead. Then his eyes travelled down her body and spotted a PokéBall poking out of her pocket. “You’ve got Pokémon?”

“Yes,” she sighed sleepily.

“Of course you do. Where else would you have learned this powerful Attract technique you’ve been using on me?”

Misty wasn’t even listening to him anymore. She passed the halfway point to dreamland. And nothing felt better. Nothing could take this moment away – beep beep, beep beep, beep beep.

“Sorry, that’s my pager,” he said, freeing his caring grip over her to reach in his pockets. “I have to go, Misty. I don’t think you’ll need these anymore.” He picked up the box of tissues by her side. “My job is done.” He turned around and began walking away when...

“Wait,” Misty said a little louder than even she expected. “I mean, don’t leave me. Please.”

He smiled while his back was still facing her. Then put on a straight face before turning around. “If you really want me to stay, then ... oh, why not? A guy would have to be nuts to ignore the prettiest thing in this hospital. Give me a second, I’ll be back.”

Misty nodded her head feebly and watched him as he walked away. She smiled. Then, she saw Ash approaching. All the coldness and hurt began flooding back into her heart by the mere sight of him. She crossed her arms and turned away from him. Hopefully he would go away if she ignored him.

“Hey, Misty,” he started weakly. “Listen, I’m really sorry about – ”

“Go away Ash.” She didn’t even give him a glance.

“C’mon Misty, look what I made for you! They have this clay for kids to play with when they get bored and I thought you’d really like this.” He held out a carved Togepi.

She still didn’t look at him and left him to hold that position. Minutes passed.

“Er – I’m kinda getting tired here.” But she still said nothing. “C’mon Misty, I’m not going anywhere until you accept this.”

His voice irritated her. She grabbed the **** thing from his hand and didn’t even look at it before tossing it across the room. “There! Happy?”

Ash hung his head. “Misty, please. I’m not very good at this.” Nothing. He started getting agitated by her lack of response. “You know what, Misty? You need to grow up! Stop acting like a baby. I said I was sorry already! I don’t know what else you want from me! And stop acting like it wasn’t your fault too. You’re the one that made me so – ”

“Ash,” she said, quietly. She turned to him so slowly it was frightening, blue eyes dead of emotion. “Go away now. Or I promise, I’ll scream.” She turned away.

Bravely, Ash sat down next to her. She was hurt and he could see it. He tried to think of something Brock would do. He placed a caring hand on her cold shoulder.

“DON’T TOUCH ME!” She shrugged him off violently.

Ash fell off his seat from the loudness of her voice. He looked around, thankful no one saw what happened. “Misty, why are doing this to me?” He got on his knees and put his hands on the chair besides her. “Why, Misty? Why?”

“WHY? Why? You wanna know why?” Her face reddened from the anger. She got extremely close to his frightened face. “I’ll tell you why,” she spoke in a hostile whisper. “Because I hate you, Ash, that’s why! I hate everything about you. Your stupid cap, your stupid Pikachu, everything! All you care about is yourself! You don’t care about how you make other people feel!”

“You have no idea how much I care!”

“Oh, I think I do! You know how my sisters rejected me because they thought I wasn’t pretty enough to be one of them and how I never fit in at home! You know how much it hurts me, Ash! You know. Anyone else, I may have understood, Ash ... but you ... you knew.” Tears began to flow from her eyes. “I just – I just thought you’d never say something like that! Not Ash Ketchum! I thought you ... you ... But I was lying to myself.” Sobs. “That’s why, Ash. That’s why I always picked on you. It’s because I ... I really did ... I did ... You know what? It doesn’t even matter anymore, just leave me alone.”

“Don’t you understand, Misty?” A tear from his eye now. “I can’t! I can’t leave you alone.”

“Leave me alone or I’ll scream, Ash.”

“Misty, I...”

“I SAID LEAVE ME ALONE!”


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End of Part I

Author Notes:

For the record, when I first planned this out, it wasn’t meant to be some soppy Ash and Misty love story. That just sort of ... well, happened. I’m not a romance fan in the least so you can imagine how surprised I was. But seeing as the story’s main concept is so grim – assassination and all - I figured romance would probably add a little more emotion to the story and lighten it up a little bit. Tell me what you think about it.

Hit me up with some reviews people, criticism really appreciated.

Oh, and about that little raunchy scene, sorry if it offended anyone. I wasn’t quite sure where to draw the line. I, myself, didn’t think it was too graphic. But I guess that all depends on the readers. Again, tell me what you think. I warned the youngins, if that accounts for anything.


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monokey
May 8th, 2006, 01:47 PM
WOW! Amazing, i never thought that anyone could think up something like that. I'm really amazed. Keep it up.

Krafty Quill
May 9th, 2006, 07:11 AM
Thanks. I've actually got part two and three both written already. Probably going to post those up, next week?

Krafty Quill
May 9th, 2006, 08:21 AM
Okay, Monkey. You got it. but I'm afraid I'm gonna have to disappoint you when it comes to the length. It's shorter than the previous part and its also the shortest part in the story. But don't worry part three and the final part are long.

__________________________________________________________________________

Part II


White whisks circled within the mug’s hot, caramel contents as the embedded spoon swiftly lapped its course, occasionally causing screeches of metallic tings through its careless slaps against the inner walls. The stirring stopped and the silver utensil was extracted, letting settle the pool of sizzling beverage. Beneath the rising, chocolate-scented steam, a young face danced to the tune of the slothful brown waves.

The pleasant aroma whiffed into Ash’s nostrils as he brought the mug to meet his lips. With a soft whistle, he cooled his drink before letting it slide down his throat, blessing his insides with the affectionate warmth he desperately needed. He lowered his cup and smiled, the taste still trapped between his soiled lips. Hospital food may not have been the best but their hot chocolate was nothing to complain about.

“Thank you, nurse Joyce.”

The young, pink-haired woman illustrated her appreciation of his manners with a smile before taking off, tray of hot chocolate ingredients carried safely in her hands.

She left Ash’s vision through a door labelled ‘Staff’. Ash wondered what the nurses did when there were no people or Pokémon to care for. The empty, pale blue couch in the main lobby was clear of business for the hospital. Aside the couch, a girl sat in a plastic armchair, red bangs hanging about as her face was submerged in her palms.

This was serious. When a water Pokémon magazine could sleep peacefully on the glass table an arm away from Misty’s reach, one would know it was serious. Ash gulped down some more of his drink.

He was out of ideas. Perhaps this was just one of those holes she’d have to dig out of herself. Ash turned away from her, hoping he could find something else to captive his mind on a nearby wall.

Large posters of the human skeleton, or of various fruits that were ‘healthy for you’ failed to hold Ash’s attention for long. Ticks from above managed to excite his ears in the hushed, sterile environment. Looking up, his golden brown eyes discovered a red-rimmed clock, ticking only seconds before it was officially four pm.

They had to get going! He mouthed a handful of hot chocolate, realising they’d have to hurry. It was nice of them to save that woman back in Viridian Forest and bring her to his hospital but she was no longer need of their assistance. The nurses around here seemed like very nice people. They had to be, after all, they were cousins to the nurse Joys of Pokémon Centres. There was no doubt they’d be leaving her in good hands.

Telling Misty it was time to go was the last thing he wanted to do. If she didn't’t scream back, she’d probably ignore him. He could tell her the biggest Weedle in the word was resting on her shoulders and she wouldn’t even take notice of his presence. He’d search for Brock first, and have him tell her. Now, where could he have gone?

The answer was simple. A place like this; with nurses swaggering around in short dresses behind every corner, it was a no-brainer. He turned to the counter and, sure enough, Brock was leaning over it and towards the pretty receptionist on the other side. Ash shook his head but nevertheless moved a little closer to watch his mentor in action.

After several minutes, which must have been a new record for Brock, he left the poor woman alone and made his way towards Ash, head hung and his feet dragging his body forward.

This time it was Ash’s turn to comfort his friend with a hand on the shoulder. “I’m guessing it didn't’t go too well…”

Brock sighed, his face still looking at the white-tiled floor. “Well…” he started low but then all of sudden jumped to his feet, scaring Ash into tipping a little hot chocolate onto his hands. “Actually, she gave me her number!”

“She what?” The shock was so intense that Ash hardly felt the mild burn of the hot drink through his fingerless gloves. “But how…?” He realised that the line of questioning wasn’t particularly supportive behaviour. He shouldn’t have been doubting it, but rather celebrating with his friend. “I mean, good going!”

“See?” Brock stretched out a piece paper with digits to Ash’s face. “I knew I could do it one day. It just takes time! Practise, practise, practise! Just like I told you. Now you believe me?”

“Of course! I do! Hey Mis-” He stopped himself, realising the celebration would have to remain second rate from the lack of her presence.

“Speaking of Misty, you made up yet?”

Ash shook his head.

“GOOD! This may sound crazy, Ash but I think if it wasn’t for Misty dragging me away all the time I’d probably have quite a few numbers by now! Think about it, most of the girls never really reject me. It’s just that she always pulls me away too soon. You should depress her more often!”

“That’s not funny,” Ash said bluntly. He didn't’t want to be a party pooper but he couldn’t escape his feelings. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be happier for you. If anyone, you deserve it the most. It’s just that I still feel kind of bad about this whole thing. The things I said and all.”

Brock didn't’t know what say.

“Don’t worry about me. It’s her you should be worrying about,” he said as he shrugged his head toward Misty. “Brock, could you do me a favour and tell her we better start leaving. Sun’s going to set soon. I’m going to wake up Pikachu and check if the patient’s up. Maybe I’ll get a chance to say goodbye.”

Ash swallowed the last bit hot chocolate in his mug and then handed it to Brock. Uncontrollably, a burp escaped his mouth, airing the first hint of grubbiness in the atmosphere. The chocolaty moustache was cleaned off with a brush of the forearm.

“Sorry.” He whispered to himself as he began to walk away, though unsure if what he was really apologizing for was the show of bad banners.

ooOOoo

The beeps were becoming really irritating. She couldn’t stand it anymore, having all these things attached to her arms. She kept her eyes closed, by choice now, waiting for the opportunity to rise and flee from this place. She hadn’t heard anything for several minutes. Whoever they were, that were in her room earlier, must’ve left.

The oxygen levels in the room were intense compared to the air her nostrils usually mingled with. It had to be a hospital. She still couldn’t figure out how she could’ve gotten to this place though. One minute she was staring death in the Charizard’s eyes, the next she was here.

She shrugged her shoulders a little, testing to see how much of the pain had subsided from her claw wounds. Good thing she managed to fire that arrow before she was winged away by the wild creature. While she lay resting in a hospital bed, the target lay resting in its grave. A cruel mismatch of fortune she had to admit.

Priority number one was escaping from this place. Apart from the blanket over her body, she could feel nothing but the faintest piece of fabric covering her. They had stripped her of her combat gear, weapons and all. It wouldn’t be long before they began to ask questions concerning her parcels. Too much suspicion was never a good thing. She had to get up and start thinking of a way to retrieve her gear.

Cautiously, her left eye began crack open, stinging a little from the sudden rush of light. She could see a green wave, pouncing in the foreground of a black computer screen in coordination with the irritating beeps she’d been hearing for a while now. She scanned around but the slit of vision could only pick up blurs of white as it travelled across the room.

Considering she couldn’t see much, it wouldn’t have been a wise choice to assume no one was in the room. However, if someone was in the room, they surely would’ve said something at the sight her movements.

She opened her eyes.

The light rushed at her. She blinked hard and opened again. Slowly, the silent, roof-fan’s blurry image cleared. Soon, her vision was in full effect. She rose abruptly, tossing aside the sheets covering her andripping awayall the medical equiment on her arms.“…” She gasped at the pair of golden-brown eyes that were fixed on her. But more shocking was the face they belonged to.

“Ah! Finally you’re awake!”

It was a young boy with dark spiky hair. His voice sounded familiar … it was him! It was him that was in the room earlier. She never saw him without his league cap on but she was sure of his identity. He was the target.

She was quiet and still blinking a little rapidly, a side effect of wakefulness Ash believed. He couldn’t help her wake up any further but perhaps he could try to wipe the perplexity from her green eyes. “Sorry if I disturbed you but I thought I’d say goodbye before me and my friends left.”

But she didn’t say anything. She looked like a lost child. “Oh, uh, my name’s Ash. My friends and I found you back in Viridian Forest. We were walking through when we heard this really loud scream and ran towards it immediately. That’s when we saw you and the Charizard…” He told her all about what happened. “… when we finally got to you, you were unconscious, so my friends and I brought you here to recover.”

This was amazing, she thought. She’d heard stories of prey escaping the predator, prey fighting the predator, prey killing the predator but never prey saving the predator. Still, it was foolish of him. Now that she was aware that he was still alive, mission completion now shifted to first priority.

She noticed that she was alone in the room with him. A rear chokehold would probably be sufficient. Then she’d run out before anybody even noticed. She swung her legs to the side, letting her shins hang over the bed and her feet a close distance from the floor. But as she tried to push to a stand, a sharp shock hit her lower back. She yelped in pain.

“Careful!” Ash hurried over to her and grabbed onto her shoulders. “Don’t try to move, you’re still injured. Get back in bed. I’m going to call a nurse to come check you out.”

No, she couldn’t let that happen. “Wait,” she said calmly, but loud enough for the word to have its intended effect on him. “I’ll be alright. Please, I don’t like doctors.”

The doctor was for her own good … but still. Ash could relate. For some reason he felt compelled to help her. That’s when he remembered. His hand dove into his pocket and excavated a blue and white specialised PokeBall, commonly called a GreatBall. He hurried over to her, opened her hand and put in on her palm. “It’s yours. We found it lying next to your body in the Forest.”

Her Pidgeot! Excellent! Now she had a perfect escape vehicle!

Ash watched her face, pale and lost. “You don’t talk much do you?”

“Only when necessary.” She didn’t even look at him that time.

“Oh … well … I told you my name. The least you could do is tell me yours.”

What was the big deal with names? If you needed to address anyone, eye contact was enough of a reference, she believed.

“Ash! Are you ready?” A voice came from the lobby.

“I almost completely forgot!” Ash scratched the back of his head. “I’ve got to go before it gets late! Nice speaking to you … er, whatever-your-name-is.”

No, the target was escaping. She must stop him. She promised herself she’d never miss a hit. And that was precisely what she was going to do. The fact that he may have saved her life was irrelevant and simply a huge mistake on his part. “Wait.”

It worked as it did before, stopping Ash in his tracks as he tossed his bag over his shoulder. “What is it?” He tugged Pikachu, trying to awaken him from a bedside chair meant specifically for visitors.

This gave her time to formulate a plan. The aches were going to slow her down significantly and she wasn’t going to be able to keep up with him at this rate. But she knew her body better than any doctor did. Given a couple of hours she’d be fully healed and capable of completing the mission with ease. But till then it looked like she was going to have to pretend to befriend him, earning his trust so he could let her travel with him … until it was his time.

“Killer Clo-” She quickly rethought. Kyle, Sky, Cloud… “Cloud – er Claudia.”

“What?” Ash said, puzzled.

“That’s my name.”

ooOOoo

“Do you think they’ll be okay with it?”

“It doesn’t matter what they say.” Misty looked down as she reminisced on her past years travelling around Kanto. All the people she met, the friends she made … it was all worth it. But all good things had to come to an end. Her face sprung back up, lucid blue eyes considering him gently. “I’ve already made up my mind.”

He smiled and pulled her close to his chest, arms wrapped around her. Her red hair tickled his chin as it rested on her head. She was quite a catch. Not just a pretty face, but strong-minded as well. The nectar scent of her hair, or the shampoo she used perhaps, pleasantly drifted into his nose as if congratulating him on becoming acquainted with her. “I never want to leave your side Misty.”

That was exactly what she wanted to hear. Somebody who needed her as much as she needed them. Then, in the midst of all this, the door to the far left squeaked open. Misty felt compelled to look its way, where she found Ash holding some girl’s hand as he approached them.

A thin eyebrow rose in curiosity. Misty recognized her. But what was Ash doing with the girl they saved? Holding hands and smiling? She couldn’t believe it; he was trying to make her jealous! An uncalled anger took her soul, causing her to tighten her grip.

“What it is?”

Oh no! He had sensed her irrational emotion. She didn’t want to lose herself to it. She scrapped the whole scene from her direct memory. “It’s … nothing,” she whispered back to him and slowly broke the hug so she could look somewhere where Ash wasn't present.

Ash crossed his arms and looked at the ceiling. Claudia wondered why they were standing right in front of this couple if neither of them knew who they were. But then the red hair, tied up in a shaggy bun atop a side of her head, gave her a clue. She recognised this girl from the file she got from Giovanni. She was one of the target’s, or Ash’s - she should probably start calling him, friends. But the deadness in the air would suggest they were distant strangers.

“Um, Misty, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friends?”

“Yes,” Misty said, still not acknowledging Ash with a look. “As soon as I see one of them.” She sighed to herself. She didn’t want to appear so moody to this guy she just met. But Ash had a way of making her feel things she didn’t want to.

“Humph.” Ash shrugged his shoulders.

“Ash,” Claudia tried. She hadn’t felt more awkward in her life. The two of them reminded her of a married couple who just had a major fight. That was right! She remembered, back when she was still sleeping in the hospital bed. Something about the girl’s sisters. From the sounds of that one, it’d be a while before the silent treatment found its voice.

“Um, hi, Misty. That’s your name right?” But the redhead didn’t reply. This whole friendship thing was a lot harder than she remembered. But even back then, before she became an assassin, she wasn’t so hot at it.

“Yeah, I’m Misty.”

The response saved her sanity. “Well, I’m Claudia. Nice to meet you?” She offered her hand, even though she felt a little like she was talking to a brick wall.

“I’m Daman.” The slightly taller boy besides her took Claudia’s hand. They exchanged smiled then he looked at Ash. The red cap, the Pikachu, it had to be the guy she was telling him about. The guy that made her cry. He didn’t even want to look at her now. How obnoxious. He’d have to teach the little brat a lesson. He stretched a welcoming a hand to Ash. “Hi, you must be *** – er – Ash.”

What? The statement stole Ash’s attention immediately. But when he turned to Daman, he saw nothing but a friendly smile. Felt flames burning up his veins, but saw nothing but a friendly smile. Perhaps it was only a slip of the tongue, his optimistic self told him. By nature he’d always give people the benefit of the doubt. Just like his mother always encouraged him.

“Yeah, I’m Ash.” He shook the hand hurriedly and then turned away instantly afterwards. He couldn’t wait for Brock to get here so they could leave already.

ooOOoo

“You’re back?”

“I just had to say bye to you one last time!” Brock was ecstatic about his success with Joyce. After calling Ash, he dashed to the counter to give her one last message stamped with his trademarked goofy smile.

“What do you mean last time?” Joyce said, a little worried. “I gave you my number, remember?”

Oh yeah, he recalled. It was such a new feeling. “Then, I guess I’ll call you later.”

“Please do.” She smiled from ear to ear.

She was pretty. Brock shook his head furiously, shaking off the clinging effect she had on him. He dashed back to rejoin Ash and friends, waving her goodbye with a backhand.

Once he was out of view, Joyce reached under the desk and lifted a cellphone to her ear. “Yes, I’ve got it.”

“Whoopee! I knew you could do it! This isour best plan yet!” The other voice said.

Joyce reached for her straight, pink hair and pulled it off, letting free a longer beak of dark pink hair that extended from the back of her head. “Of course it is! Now all we have to do is sit back and wait for him to call us so we can track him and the twerp down and steal that Pikachu while they are asleep!”

“I can smell a promotion already.”

ooOOoo

Brock noticed a gentleman standing next to Misty as he walked toward her and Ash. He was wearing a lab coat over a white shirt, the coat’s tail partially covering a pair of beige pants. “Misty, Ash, er…”

“Daman.” The boy finished, standing the same height as the Rock Pokemon Trainer.

“I’m Brock. Good to meet you, man. But I’m afraid I’m going to have to steal these two away from you. We’re late for Pallet.” He tugged Ash and Misty by the collars but they both broke away simultaneously.

“Wait Brock,” Ash said. “Claudia, you know the girl we saved, she said she has some relatives in Pallet and she wants to come along with us. She just went to collect her clothes from one of the nurses. I hope you don’t mind but I kind of already told her she could tag along.”

Brock thought for a second. “Well, Pallet isn’t too far away. We should have enough food packed for one more. But if we don’t I’ve got some reserves anyway. We’ll just fill up once we get back.”

“Not necessary,” Misty said immediately. She took Daman’s hand and they smiled at each other. Then she turned back to Brock. “She can have whatever food was allocated to me. I’m going back to Cerulean. Daman’s going to escort me.”

“What?” Brock and Ash said together; Brock out of pure shock whereas Ash was not mortified by the fact that she was going home, but by the fact that she was going home with him.

__________________________________________________________________________

End Of Part II

So there you have it. Still taking reviews!

monokey
May 9th, 2006, 08:41 AM
WOW! Like the way the story's going, keep it up.

Krafty Quill
May 10th, 2006, 09:08 AM
Wow, this part is really long. So I'm going to have to cut it in two.

Part III-1

“But, Misty … you can’t do that …”

“And why not, Brock?” The concrete suggestion mercilessly struck the sorrow in his voice with uncaring anger. Hard ocean-blue eyes cursed the opposition of her desire. “I’m sure that’s what Ash wants anyway!”

Certainty had never been more misrepresented by her words. Ash knew it. And beneath its cluster of impulsive, burning emotion, her heart undoubtedly pounded with beats of undeniable truth as well. Yet she chose to be steered recklessly by rage’s deceptive hands. He couldn’t understand her.

“No, he doesn’t!” Brock protested on his friend’s behalf. Crossed arms and an indifferent groan thanked him for his helping hand. The battle had become his. “Come on, Ash…” His weak voice begged for his lost ally’s assistance. The battle could not be won alone. “Just tell her you’re sorry so we can all get out of here.”

He would have considered it … if he hadn’t tried it several times already. Only somebody as controlling as Misty would reject an apology now and accept it later – when she asked for it. He kept his defiant eyes from her presence and saved his voice from pointless words.

“You see, I told you!” Misty said to Brock, Ash’s silence being evidence to her claim. The faintest of disappointment surfaced in her heart. Too uncomfortable to maintain, she shed it the moment her conscious detected it. “It’s fine, really. I’m a big girl now. I can take care of myself.”

“I’m sure you could.” Daman said in his deep, reassuring voice. “But with me by your side, you won’t have to.” He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her to himself.

As much as Brock supported disapproval here, he couldn’t argue with the facts. Age had done her mind well – though unapparent at times - and the entire badge hunting adventure had given her more than enough experience in travelling. There was no doubt she could return to Cerulean on her own, especially given its relatively short distance.

“Alright, Misty,” he submitted. “We’ll break up here. Hope you get back home in one piece.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of her.”

The sight of Daman’s white lab coat just reminded him that she would be moving with a medical apprentice. “You better,” Brock warned him. Then he turned to Misty. “I guess this is goodbye, then?”

“ … I guess so …” Sadness just managed to infiltrate her voice.

“Delia’s definitely going to be disappointed,” Brock sighed, now burdened with the task of explaining Misty’s disappearance to her. “You know how much she loved you.”

Ash’s mom! Her blue eyes widened with recollection. She had completely forgotten the promise she made to his mother. The night she and Ash’s other companions had dinner in Pallet. Delia made her promise…

“You’re right.” Sincerity. The sudden shift in emotion startled both Brock and Daman into bewilderment. “I’ve changed my mind. I’ll come with you to Pallet Town.”

“You will?” Bits of hope sparkled in his slit eyes. Even though Ash was depicting the exact opposite, he couldn’t help but feel a little glad – and made sure not to show it.

“I have to see Delia. But right after that I’m heading for Cerulean!”

“Of course.” Suspicion hid in his words. Brock was confident that Delia would change her mind one way or another.

Misty held Daman’s hand and smiled. “Oh yeah, Daman’s coming with us too.”

“But you know we’re short on food supplies,” Ash’s voice finally woke up. “Not to mention, Claudia’s coming with us already.”

“Oooohhhhh! So you can bring along your little friends but I can’t?” Misty said, flaring a little.

“Calm down, Misty.” Having just made her change her mind, Brock didn’t want to do anything that would make it change back. “Ash’s just trying to be thoughtful.” He patted the boy. “I’m sure carrying one more person wouldn’t kill us…”

A chime sounded from behind them. Everybody turned around to see the high-tech door slide into the wall to its left, providing a rectangular opening for free passage between the rooms. And through the door came Claudia…

The practically recovered patient strode towards them in a confident walk, concealing her intentions within gentle green eyes and an innocent smile. The whiteness of her thin, swimsuit armour and low hanging cape would deem her an angel to the uninformed. A fatal mistake made by most unfortunate witnesses of her appearance.

She took stance beside Ash and crossed her arms, stealing a glance from him with her forearm-length, auburn wristband - classified as an antique by some and as a weapon by those well-versed.

“Hey everyone,” Claudia said, too enthusiastically for the party’s spirits. She knew putting on a friendly face would soon demoralise the rumours of its simplicity. But she had to persist. “So, are we going or what?”

ooOOoo

The sun had exhausted the sky’s blue course and now shied away from the vastness of the horizon, taking its brilliant golden symphony with it. Dusk whispered its soft but chilling winds to the travellers swimming the metre tall grass.

Brock was in lead position, probably because he was physically the strongest and held the guidebook he, Ash and Misty depended on throughout their journey. Misty and Daman followed closely behind him, Daman shoving aside the lengthy grass for a clearer path for both him and Misty.

Croaks began to grow louder as the wildlife anticipated the coming of night - at which time they would be most comfortable. Misty’s phobia fed off the swats of tiny, flapping, insect wings, making her edgier with each taunting second. But she suppressed the urge to reveal her fear to Daman.

“Ah!”

She gasped a little too loud when three pairs of minute feet landed on her neck. With a shake of her head, she chased the little creepy-crawly away.

Daman swung around and found a goofy smile on her face. “What’s wrong?” he asked, looking worried.

“Er – Nothing. It’s just really cold.” Which wasn’t entirely a lie.

“Yeah, and this whole place is crawling with huge, big-eyed bugs!” Ash teased from behind the pack.

**** it, Ash! Why’d you have to say that! A throaty grumble escaped Misty’s gritted teeth. To add to the humiliation, Daman chuckled, painting her pale cheeks red.

“It’s okay, Misty,” he said, the moment his joyful mouth recovered. “We all have our fears. But I tell you what, why don’t we have a little picnic tonight?”

“Picnic? At night?”

“Yeah,” he answered for her excitedly. “It’ll be fun, I promise. Just me and you, what’d you say?”

That sounded different and fun. Plus, it was only her and him! “Of course!”

Perfect. This was going to be his big chance to impress her, and hopefully achieve much more. Daman smiled to her, though he was really only happy with himself. He put a warm arm around her waist and led them forward.

Ash could feel the jealousy prickling in his stomach extend its route to include his blood vessels. It turned the itchy tips of grass painfully tickling his arms seem like nothing more than extraneous waters under a very sturdy bridge. That gelled blonde hair … deep melodic voice … conniving smile … is that what she really wanted?

The base of the stale strands of grass flattened at the force of hard-hearted, shoe soles. In much likeness, his morale suffered the same. The sleeping emotion cracked through the casket of indifference, and broke into his voice. “What does she see in him, anyway?”

“Pika Pi?” The Pokemon agreed with him, mirroring the question in his own tongue. This was the first time he heard Pikachu since his long nap.

“Just tell her how you feel.”

His hung head was fished out from the addictive pool of despair, hooked by the thin line of hope as soon as his troubled soul clutched onto the bait of her simplistic words. Golden-brown eyes escaped the shadows of his cap’s bridge, reflecting the glitters of optimism sourced from the girl that walked beside him.

Blond threads fluttered softly in the catching gusts, savouring their time away from the white hood’s confines. An expression long lost to the world awakened on her face; natural pink lips curved to one corner, welcoming conversation.

“That’s not going to work. Not with her.”

“Why not?” Sincerity stood in the heavens of virtuous hierarchy. Claudia didn’t understand how it could fail to produce anything but itself. Perhaps, her abandoned relationship with human emotion had formed a void too dark in her soul - too dark to be candled by her few hours of pretence. “I’m no relationship specialist but I think the idea might just be crazy enough too work.”

If she only knew, Ash thought, hurt by the shimmers of hopeless hope forming in her eyes. “Don’t worry about me and Misty. We’ll make up. We always do.”

“Alright. I guess it’s none of my business anyhow. But do one thing for me.” Her smile faded and her voice lowered. “Promise me, you’ll make up soon. Life doesn’t last long and I’d hate to see you drift off to the plane of eternity unfilled.”

“Pika?” The suspicious voice came from Ash’s shoulder.

“What are you trying to say, Claudia?”

Conversation had pinched bits of her covert thoughts once again, leaving its muddy trails for her to mop up. “I don’t mean to sound angst. There just words of wisdom an old man once told me.” Cliché, but effective.

“Okay,” his simple mind accepted. “I’ll remember that.”

Ash scrimmaged through his memory bank for something more uplifting that she’d probably like to talk about. “That wristband of yours,” he started, eyeing it as he spoke. “It’s not just a wristband is it? It looked like some sort of Bow and Arrow thingy when we found it laying next to you.”

“You’re right.” Against her injured arm’s wishes, she pulled it from the burying grass so they could both see it clearly. “I’ve just got to push this button and a bow will form here at the top.” Internally, she snickered at the irony of him investigating his own demise.

“Ah,” Ash said in awe. “Are you some sort of hunter of something?”

“Well, I guess you could say that…”

They put their mouths to rest and ordered their bodies forward. Pallet sat at least an hour away. Not a problem for their trained feet, but an impossibility for their needy stomachs. The last thing Ash recalled eating was the ice cream dessert after lunch. He tried to push any teasing thought to the back of his mind - where they couldn’t encourage his tummy’s groans.

With every tiring minute the skies grew darker and the air, colder. Misty’s small yellow top and short denim shorts betrayed her comfort when they became complements to the cold. Thank goodness Daman’s close-by warmth stayed true to her person.

When leaders fell, it was much expected that the entire team would follow. Despite his rock hard determination and need to pose a suitable example for the travellers on his trail, Brock’s durable stomach began to cave in. Torturing cramps upset his belly and the cold air burned in his lungs. But nature wasn’t without mercy.

The tall, overgrown meadow abruptly came to an end, levelling out to clean, flat green. Brock’s overjoyed knees fell to the earth, kissing the grass through beige trousers. He showed a backhand to the rest of the party that had just met the blissful grounds.

“We’re camping here for the night.”

Not a single one of them could disagree. Misty could’ve sworn she felt a tinge of hot air brush against her arm. She dismissed it however, deciding it was her elated mind overworking. Then another pulse of warmth jabbed at her. It was no delusion. She smiled the moment she realised what it was.

She grabbed Daman’s hand and tugged him unexpectedly, leading him into rushes of growing warm air. He discovered the cause of her madness when he looked ahead. Clouds of thick rising stream pervaded the air above their source. The mist thickened as they drew closer to the steaming pond. Misty dropped to her knees in front it, and tugged Daman into the same position.

“A hot spring!” She exclaimed to him. It came as a surprise to her too. This route held no such festivities the last time she’d been here. Considering it was a quite a while back however, the possibilities of the manmade marvel wouldn’t be too implausible.

Ash shook his head, wondering what stood to the far left that could cause such behaviour. Claudia just smiled, pretending she was happy that they were. Suddenly, the faintest of life essence alerted her body, confirming her suspicions of a stalker on their trail since the hospital.

Claudia had no clue what possessed her to lift an arm to the back of Ash’s head. Her hand captured a darting, potentially dangerous arrow only centimetres away from its ****ed destination. Its momentous winds carried on, unaffected by the ceased arrow, wafting past his ears. He turned from the sensation and found a smiling Claudia with her hands so obviously hidden behind her back.

“Everything okay, Claudia?”

“Er,” she stalled, dropping the arrow into the tall hungry grass behind her. “No … actually. You know what? I er – I dropped something. My special something – my necklace! Yes, I dropped my necklace back there, somewhere,” she said pointing in the distance they had just arrived from.

“That’s funny … I don’t remember you wearing any necklace…”

Pikachu shook his head in doubt also.

“Of course you wouldn’t! I dropped it!” Claudia said. “It was given to me by a very important person in my life. I have to go back for it!”

“Want me to come with you?” His words stopped her in mid-turn.

“That’s okay. I know you’re tired. I’ll be back in a flash.” With that, she sped off, running through the tall grass.

Ash was half glad she didn’t let him go with her. He didn’t think his stomach would allow it either way. He remained here, where he could be of use. Pikachu leaped to the ground as Ash knelt down next to Brock, helping him set up the foundation of the tent.

ooOOoo

Yellow grassy tips irritated her speedy lower body as she zoomed through the elevated grasslands, white cape billowing behind her. Even her mind was pacing. Questions concerning the other assassin’s unwelcome presence tormented her. The bright, white figure that disturbed the dark shade of pre-night came to an abrupt stop before a sick looking tree.

Light pants escaped into the air. Jade eyes took to the high, sallow leaves, inspecting the culpable foliage with sheer interest. A dark figure took offence to the observation and dropped to the ground, hurling yellow leaves about in its hasty rustle.

“Why are you following me?” Her cold voice mingled well in the atmosphere.

A twisted smirk responded to her curiosity. Extremely dark eyes journeyed her body, admiring its developed maturity with wishful intent. “You’ve grown quite a bit … ‘Killer Cloud’ … or should I say … Claudia…”

“What?” Fright pinched her body at his unwarranted knowledge. “How long have you been tailing me?”

His strong shoulders bounced to the tune of his malevolent laughs. “My dear, you ask all the wrong questions.” He pulled out a cylinder of folded paper from his black, baggy pants. “Silly girl … in spite of your overstated opinion, you’ll always be an amateur to my eyes.” He held the gift for her to take. “This file would have been sure to turn those clueless little nurses’ heads.”

She snatched the file holding details of her briefing from his hand. From now on she had to exercise extreme caution.

“You should be more careful.” He mirrored her thoughts, running a hand through his untidy black hair. She put the file in some sort of case beneath her cape, not showing any gratitude for his recovering it. To add to the rudeness, she was being selfish with her pretty green eyes. “What’s wrong, Claudia? Aren’t you forgetting to thank me?”

Silence.

“Oh, I understand.” A sinister grin took his lips. “You don’t know how. Well, perhaps you could answer a question I have for you.” He licked his lips and took a step closer to her, unfolding the arms uncovered by his black muscle t-shirt. “Do those cute little lips of yours still house the sweet taste of innocence?”

His words revived long, buried memories of her past. Coldness began to chill her icy soul. The winds, as if given orders, ruthlessly bit at her vulnerable body. Her face was flushed of emotion and paled to the white of her attire. Darkness began to consume the very light around her … drifting her subconscious hours back … days back … years back…

O-O-O-O-O

“…and they said I was too tomboyish to play with them!” The young girl held her dampened face in her hands. Distressed giggles escaped her silent weep.

A warm hand smoothed her golden locks and encouraged recovery with a shake of her shoulder. “They don’t understand you, that’s all. I’ve seen some of them and I must say, none are prettier than you.”

“Really?” She sobbed.

“They don’t even come close.”

His voice … his words … this is what she had longed for most in this world. Acceptance. That’s all she ever wanted. Even her best friend – former best friend – didn’t understand her. “But my friend … he said … he said … the other girl’s in class were way prettier than me! And … and … he’d rather ask one of them to the dance…”

“Then he’s a fool. Girls are a dime a dozen but rarely do any mere mortals come across an angel.”

This guy, he was different, she thought. She let him wipe her tears away, her worries away. Then, something began to warm her insides. Her heart was plagued with this feeling … this warmth …

Before she knew what she was feeling, his lips had somehow found their way to hers. She couldn’t stop him. She didn’t want to stop him. He pinned her wrists in one strong hand above her head as he laid her down on the couch. His hands began exploring her bare legs and up her short white dress.

She flinched from his touch and he sensed that. “What’s wrong? Have you never done this before?”

Bravely, she shook her head.

“Don’t worry,” he reassured her. “I promise I’ll be gentle.”

His smile was so trusting. She was forced to believe. And so she closed her eyes and allowed his wandering hand up her skirt. But this time, he bypassed all temptations to make it straight to her heart. It was beating faster and faster beneath his palm. He looked deeply into her innocent green eyes.

“Listen to your heart because it is all you can trust in this world.”

She heard his words and did as he told her … she really believed she heard her heart that day … and so when the question came …

“What does it say?”

She answered…

O-O-O-O-O

Cold. So cold. She shivered. Strange, stray lips hung disgustingly close to hers. Out of pure instinct she recoiled and pressed a button on her wristband, two half-circles poked out to either side to form a round bow. As quick as a natural reflex, she loaded the weapon with an arrow from the quiver attached to her back.

“Not this time.” She gritted her teeth. Her hot, sweaty face trembled with memorable emotion, strong, scorching pants burning the air she shared with the close enemy. “I should kill you right now.” Incredible fury distorted the words as they came out.

The pointy arrow stared at his Adam’s apple with hurtful intent. He could do nothing but retreat, peaceful arms in the air hoping to settle the berserk mistress. “Calm down.” Her breathing was so fast, her face an infuriated red, her eyes … hurt … pleading … innocent … “You’ve remembered…”

“YOU BASTARD!”

“Amila, don’t be foolish.”

“DON’T YOU DARE … call me … that.”

This emotion was unknown to him. Never had he seen her cheeks so scarlet. For once, he believed her threats to be more than just that. But after all these years, how could she still feel this way? Especially since she was a major tool to her own despair. “Don’t act like you had nothing to do with all this!”

“How dare you,” she hissed. “I was young … I was only thirteen … I didn’t know any better. But you should have. I may not have fought you off physically but I didn’t even have to try for it to be considered unfair. You took advantage of me - of a lost, little child.”

“I-”

“But no,” she cut him off. “That wasn’t all you’d take from me. You took my feelings. My warmth. And left nothing but coldness to feed my lost soul. And now you dare threaten to take my target? You should have anticipated this meeting would be your last.”

“You’re target?” He asked, sounding very surprised. “That boy? I know nothing of targets. I’m not on assignment and never will be again. My days of killing are over.”

She laughed, believing truth could never exist in his world. But she responded as if that had not been the case. “So you thought you’d come and convince me to leave too? You brought me into this world of joyful killing, why not take me out, right? Wrong! I’d rather die doing this than return to your filthy hands. Draw your weapon now. We finish this today.”

“Ami – Claudia, I don’t want to fight you. I’m telling you I came here of my own free will! I wasn’t sent here by anyone to intercept your target. That arrow fired, it wasn’t meant for the boy.”

“Oh, I know,” Claudia said spookily. “That was for me.”

“No, it was-”

“Save it for hell,” she interrupted. “Draw your weapon now or die shamefully before my feet.”

Deadlocked eyes exchanged stern glares, stirring heavy emotion into the biting air for numerous shy minutes. Unacquainted with her recent will, he feared any other option but compliance. His hand dove into his pocket and emerged with a red and white sphere. The PokéBall split open and let out a stream of red current that quickly took form of a huge bird.

“Fearow!” A deep croakiness crawled out from its snapping beak. Famished black eyes preyed on their challenger callously, built-up thirst threatening to unexpectedly leap forth. Following the order of its trainer, it bowed down to allow for trouble-free mounting.

Loud crying winds agitated her ears as the ferocious fowl slapped cold air to her face, fluttering her locks and cape crazily behind her. Her eyes immediately took refuge behind a shielding forearm. Suddenly, the winds settled. Cautiously, her eyes emerged but found nothing. Nothing until they took to the skies, catching the escape artist red handed metres above and away.

She let out her own Pokémon. “The enemy.” Claudia exposed the coward to her silver-feathered Pidgeot with a pointing index finger. It nodded at once and lowered its inviting back. Claudia hopped onto position and winged to the dark heavens.


<>End Of Part III-1<>

Krafty Quill
May 10th, 2006, 09:23 AM
I should probably warn you that this part has got a little bit of intense language to it. One part particularly, so I'm just gonna point it out when you get there.

Part III-2

“Did you get him?” The woman asked anxiously, heating her arms with the friction of rubbing palms.

“I-I don’t know, Jessie.” James countered her anxiety with even more anxiety. “I’m not exactly a professional at this.”

A fractious grumble resonated behind her grinding teeth. Her part was played to perfection and so she expected the same from him. “If you’d have just done your job properly we’d be back on the ground by now!” - Where it was warm, she sighed to herself.

“I know, Jessie!” He whined in a stop-yelling-at-me voice. “Firing an arrow isn’t as easy as fooling some boy into giving you his number.”

“James’s right!” Meowth spoke up, gleefully. His head barely stood halfway inside the carrying basket – which meant his privileged, feline body was exempted from the night’s cruel winds. “You needa cool down, Jessie. It aint easy shootin’ anything from –”

That familiar menacing glare cut off his ungrateful contribution to the conversation. Unfortunately, the tightly packed basket walls couldn’t exempt him from Jessie’s fury. And being so high in their traditional Meowth blimp gave him no escape routes but the daunting fall back to Earth.

“I-I mean, Jessie’s right!” He decided this opinion was safer. “You shouldn’t be complainin’, James. That bow’s got high-tec aimin’ tools free to your disposal. Not even a Zubat could miss with tha–”

Suddenly, an extremely sharp tip found itself an inch from his face.

“You were saying...” James taunted.

“Er – I was sayin’ shut up Meowth because you couldn’t do better if ya tried?” The cat offered. He sighed, zipped his mouth, and then sat down peacefully.

“James!” She spat out excitedly, causing the called to fumble his weapon clumsily. “Someone’s coming!”

James jumped up immediately, taking aim at the first thing he saw – which happened to be clear air. “Where?” The shakiness in voice was so apparent.

Jessie slapped the back of his head before pointing in the exact position his eyes were ‘focused’ on. She pulled out a pair of binoculars and viewed the skies more efficiently. “It’s ... some guy on a Fearow ... and he’s coming this way! Quick, James, shoot him!”

“Shoot him?” he whined. “But these arrows aren’t made for harming people! They explode into nets on contact, remember? There only good for snatching that boy’s pesky Pikachu!”

“Just do it already! It may not kill him but it’ll slow him down!”

“But-but-”

“Enough!” She snatched the bow from him, literally taking matters into her own hands. But by the time she figured how to work the target scope, it was too late. An all-too-familiar POP sounded from above. The punctured balloon blubbered hot rushing air from its entrails, sending the Team Rocket grunts well on their way ... singing the dying echoes of their infamous finale...

“Looks like Team Rocket’s blasting off again!”

ooOOoo

Claudia reloaded her specialised bow, having sent an arrow right between the eyes of the oversized Meowth head. It could’ve attracted unwanted attention, and like most things at the moment, it was really irritating her.

The Pidgeot deciphered the word, quicker, from the nets of thrashing winds. Her wings paddled the cooler, more humid, air resting closer to the grey skies, harder and harder as she strived to limit the space keeping her from her chase.

An arrow’s tail slid back, stretching a thick, elastic band into a concave position so far back that relieving the tension would hurl the arrow more than thirty metres forward. Green eyes squinted, the hard winds complicating the focus on the target ahead. Claudia battled to keep her aim steady as the bouncing bird below kept them airborne.

Nevertheless, her chance arrived. Unlike the first two attempts, she widened her eyes and captured his position perfectly. In a show of confidence, her target had swooped around and was now hovering in a single spot. He foolishly locked on her eyes with his own. Such insolence wasn’t without punishment.

A swift whistle cried out as air scurried out of the charging arrow’s path. Quickly, the Fearow hassled the shot with strong flaps of its wings, revolving winds rapidly in an inverted cone spinning atop the ground. The arrow was easily lost in the huddle and redirected to some random point in the sky.

The storm grew... And grew...

Claudia covered her face from bits of flying rock and sand. She could hear her Pidgeot squealing from its incapability of doing the same. The ravaged bird stumbled in midair, darting off in any direction it could escape the horrible Gust attack. Unfortunately, no such direction was accessible for long.

Her blond locks whipped about helplessly and her mind was disoriented from all the sudden movements of her vexed Pokémon. Claudia’s eyes shut, closed. The berserk winds continued to circle her. Her mind was growing sick, nauseas from the rapid disposition. Then, suddenly, with one last wail, the winds settled. Was it all over?

No.

Faster than her speedy eyelids, a huge thump knocked her shoulder before she could open her eyes. Her shrill scream escaped in chorus with her Pidgeot’s. All too abruptly, the pair travelled the tall grass and crashed hard into the ground. Claudia tumbled multiple times before mercifully coming to rest.

The pain was back. The burning in her shoulders, it was unbearable. The sting of exposed cuts tortured her face. But her instinct was healthy and ready. Her eyes quivered open. Close. It was close. Her Bowgun. She crawled over, fingers digging into the ground for better leverage.

She stretched her arm for it when a harsh boot kicked it away. Pidgeot. But all that was left of her vibrant form were lifeless, sleeping feathers blanketing her unconsciousness body. Claudia screamed out as a strong boot pressed her injured shoulder.

A sadistic smile lowered before her face. He grabbed her wrists and roughly pinned them together above her head. “Just like old times eh...” He laughed. His head bowed down, inhaling the hot breadths of her exhausted pants. A repulsive, slimy tongue mopped the dirt off her cheek. “Yeah, you like that?” he hissed.

It was useless to struggle. Her arms were dead weight and his grip on her wrists was just too strong. His lips began to sink to her face again. She summoned all the strength she could and spat at him.

He cleaned the droopy, clear solution from his cheek with a hand. He laughed hysterically then suddenly stopped. A hard smack crossed her face, twisting it to the side. “You little *****.” He gripped her throat with the hand that wasn’t binding her arms. “Is that how you repay me for being so gentle all those years?”

Her closed throat pleaded for more air. But all she could do was choke and gasp.

He released her throat and laughed as she swallowed huge breadths of air. “I thought you were a sweet little girl,” he teased, tracing below a cut with a ginger finger. “You don’t like it when I’m gentle?” His voice began to grow darker and deeper. “Well, maybe you’ll like it better when I’m rough!”

She thought of screaming when she heard the zip of his pants. But she couldn’t. She was ... afraid. Afraid he’d only hurt her more. Afraid. After all these years she convinced herself she had grown stronger ... it was all a lie. A delusion she designed to distract her from herself. The fear ... it never died. She wasn’t a cold evil ***** ... she was just lost. Afraid, and lost

A tear, that could only belong to a child, slithered down her pallid cheek.

His body lingered above hers, shadows chilling her fearful body even further. Dark, daunting eyes were fixated on her humble breasts. She had matured quite finely indeed. The only flaw on her body was the distracting clothes. He wanted to tear them off so bad but always dreamed of enjoying her while she kept them on. He looked into her eyes one final time. But saw nothing. “What’s wrong? Don’t I excite you anymore?”

She didn’t say anything. Her breathing was shockingly normal considering what he was about to do to her.

The apathy began to agitate him. “Fine,” he grunted. “You’re not the only one who has grown my dear.” He laughed evilly. “But I guess I’ll just have to show you what I mean.” His hand ducked into his open pants...

“AHHH!”

The highest pitch she had ever heard him sing. Tears fell from his eyes, landing hard on her plain face. Grunts and curses exited his lips as he searched down his crotch and found a firm knee implanted in his delicate regions. The pain was too much for a single hand’s grasp; he released the grip on her wrists and held himself with both hands.

Claudia remained unmoved, face still dangerously calm.

His red, teary face boiled with anger. “WHY YOU – AHHH!”

No. That was the highest pitch she had ever heard him sing. The second knee jab was death-threateningly severe, evident from the thick, dark crimson that trickled down her leg. She easily peeled him off with a single foot.

Bravely fighting the pain, Claudia found her way to her feet once more. Brown patches dirtied most of her fair armour. The winds blew her cape about, taking a small triangular piece of fabric as a souvenir with them. The groaning man clutching his traumatized crotch was kicked hard in the belly, the force of the boot flipping him onto his back.

“Pleh ... please...” He stuttered from the sight of the blood submerging his hands. Dark red dripped off his trembling fingers. He looked up to the cold, calm, face of death, her golden hair wearily dancing the breeze’s way. “Please ... Killer Cloud. You don’t have to ... to be a killer ... not anymore ... Claudia ... just please, let me go ... I wasn’t sent here by anyone ... I didn’t –”

All the excuses in the world couldn’t save him from the blade of her hunter’s knife, ending its twirling course downwards deep in his forehead. With unmoving eyes, Claudia knelt down before him and yanked the impaled knife from his brains. Her dead eyes looked into his dead eyes. She whispered one last message uncertain to reach his attention...

“My name … is Amila.”

ooOOoo

The ruby carpet threatened to lose its brilliant shade had his worried feet continued to wonder pointlessly back and forth. Giovanni’s hands met behind his back, safe from his immediate path – or more like circuit. Anxiety had never struck him so, especially when it came to business matters.

Regrettably, all his investments in this project relied on hope. The assassin hadn’t contacted him since she left his office, leaving him pondering her success in the unsatisfying light of hope. But, hopefully, his sent partner will see to it that his updated goals were accomplished.

That boy was a handful. He smirked, as the thought reminded him of someone he knew very well. Great mistakes were punished more greatly. Leaving this assignment in the hands of outsiders would qualify as a great mistake. Exactly why, he had to personally see this one through to the end.

He went behind his desk to soothingly stroke the resting Persian. Understandably, it had grown tired of his impatience. He’d be back before it knew it. It would open its eyes to a new Giovanni, a more peaceful man. A man due for birth once Ketchum had been dealt with accordingly.

The room was cold, even for him. His arms dove into the warm sleeves of the black, leather jacket that had been hanging amongst the other coats on the rack. He was ready to head out when the dying plant resting on the table reminded him that it wasn’t dead, yet. It wasn’t too late.

He boxed it immediately and held it beneath an armpit as he headed for the door. An abrupt buzz shook his thigh through the depths of his pocket. He pulled out the cell phone and pushed the answer button quickly so as to prevent its tone from waking his beloved pet.

“Giovanni, sir. We’ve just received word of the associate you sent out.”

ooOOoo
(This part's got some language to it. Skip to the next 'ooOOoo' if you'd rather not read)

A shirtless Brock sat in the hot spring with his arms stretched to the sides. He tapped his phone against the grass as he relentlessly thought of the perfect words. Suddenly, a splash of warm water slapped his face back to reality. He wiped the water from his eyes to get a clear view of the now condemned.

“...hello?” Ash said, concluding a sentence constructed entirely out of chuckles. “You seem so preoccupied that you’re forgetting to enjoy the hot spring! What’s wrong?”

Ash knew the reason he was dipped in the warm waters was to soothe him of the worry he had for Claudia. It had been hours and she hadn’t returned. But he probably shouldn’t have to worry about her; she was a hunter after all. That had to account for something.

He was right, Brock thought. “It’s this number that’s troubling me,” he admitted to his friend.

“Oh, I see... Why don’t you just call her already before she forgets she gave you her number?”

“I would, but I don’t know what to say. What should I say, Ash?” He was so desperate that he had forgotten who he was talking to. Considering his success with Misty, the more appropriate question would be... “What shouldn’t I say, Ash?”

Ash gave him a disapproving frown when he realised what he was trying to say. “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, Brock, but just remember you failed too as a teacher. I was following your advice after all.”

“Oh really?” Brock sang. “Did you make her feel good about herself?”

“Wha...?”

“Did you make her feel safe around you?”

“Make her feel sa-”

“Did you use the pick up lines I gave you?”

Ash shook his head. Brock never told him any of these things before – except the useless pick up lines - not in a direct language he could understand anyway. “Give me some real advice,” he said. “And give it to me straight this time,” he added just before Brock was about to open to his mouth.

“Okay, Ash.” Brock lowered his head a little and crossed his arms. The clear water teased his sincerity by wobbling his serious gesture silly. But through the rising steam, Ash could see profoundness sparkling within the tiny slits of his face. “This is my secret weapon.”

This was serious. Ash nodded, anticipating the utmost, complicated but truthful, outlook Brock had on girls. His lips began to move...

“Serenade her.”

Ash fell into the water from the anti-climax. He rose and shook his wet hair, still not trusting what his ears told him. “You mean I should sing to her?”

“Exactly.”

“Where have you been living, Brock?” He asked bluntly. “Not in this world if you still don’t know what my voice sounds like. Listen to me. I can’t sing to save my life. And there’s no way I can compete with Daman’s bass.”

“Don’t give me that! Anybody can sing if they really try.” He was doubtful of his own words but still delivered them with the utmost conviction. “Besides, it’s not about how you sound. It’s the thought that counts. You may, and probably will, sound like a fool to both of us but her ears have a different scope. She’ll think you’re cute for being brave enough to make a fool of yourself just to tell her how you feel in a creative way.”

Ash shook his head. That wasn’t being cute; that was being ridiculous. But there was nothing more that could hurt his dying progress any further than it already was. Maybe when she finally decided to forgive him he’d try it on her. With a heart already half filled with regret, he said, “Okay. What should I sing?”

Now he was talking, Brock thought. “I’m sure you know this song. Just sing along everybody! That means you too boys and girls at home.” He received the most puzzled look on Ash’s face with that line. “Sorry – I always wanted to say that,” he explained. “Let’s warm up with this song.” He cleared his throat and began:

I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was
To catch them is my real test, to train them is my cause (Ash nods)
I will travel across the land, searching far and wide
Each Pokémon to understand, the power that’s inside (Ash smiles)

POKÉMON! Gotta catch ‘em all! (Ash joins in)

Ash: It’s you and me!
Brock: I know it’s my destiny!

POKÉMON!

Ash: Ohhhhh, you’re my best friend!
In a world we must defend!

POKÉMON! Gotta catch ‘em all!

Brock: Our heart’s so true!
Our courage will pull us through.
Ash: You teach me and I’ll teach you!

PO-KE-MON! Gotta catch ‘em all.

Brock: Gotta catch ‘em all! yeah...

(Ash cheers: Verse 2, Brock, Verse 2, Brock!)

Brock:

Every challenge along the way, with courage I will face
I will battle everyday, to claim my rightful place

(Ash signals that’ll he take it from here)

Ash:
Maybe Brock may just be right, but he will never be
The kind of guy a girl could like, his future looks so bleak!

“POKÉMON! You gotta – oh it’s you and me – uh huh, it’s my des...” Ash trailed off when he realised Brock wasn’t singing along anymore. His lips twisted into an unfunny frown. “Come on, Brock. So I didn’t know the lines. I had to improvise.” Brock said nothing. “Enough warming up, let’s move on to the song I’m suppose to sing Misty.”

He wanted to improvise, Brock thought. Two could play that game. “Sing her this:

I wanna suck Misty’s breasts, like no one ever has
To touch them is my real test, to bang her is my cause
I will travel across the land, learning doggy style
Each girl I find will understand, thepowerthisdickhas inside...

POKÉMON! Gotta fu- (Ash shook his head through the entire curse filled chorus)

Every challenge along the way, I see her tits in my face
I will battle everyday, toputmydick in its rightful place
I only use Vaseline, cause there’s no better cream
Banging her without a condom on, has always been my dream!

(Ash shook his head and exited the hot spring before Brock started with the second chorus. He had had enough.)

ooOOoo

Tamed flames leaped happily before the two onlookers, chasing away the pitch black night with their blazing, orange glow. Daman fed the campfire a discarded shard of litter he found next to him, adding to the thick, cylindrical logs’ fuels.

“Wow. It’s beautiful.” During her long travels with Ash and Brock, Misty had never seen either of them summon anything this glorious. It was shaped perfectly like a huge eye drop and burnt so peacefully. “How do you get it so ... pretty and under control?”

“It? Well, it, was born pretty, its getting it under control that’s a problem.” He intentionally spoke to breed mystery within her. “Sometimes it’s happy and its heart is so warm it just wants to love everything. That’s when I love it the most. But sometimes it’s so sad and its heart just wants to burn out.” He saddened his tone in the last statement.

“But you know what I do to cheer it up?” His was voice overly animated with joy. Misty shook her head. “I do this...” His palms travelled up and down her arms lovingly.

She was confused at first but then realised what his higher mind was thinking. Pretty ... and under control, she asked him. He turned it around. He wasn’t talking about the fire. He was talking about her the whole time. But his complements weren’t without the proverbial backhand. “Did you just call me an ‘it’? And what do you mean you’ve got me under control?”

He laughed at the offence taken to her face, concerned lines running along her forehead in the crimson light. She was easily calmed by his mere smile. “If it makes you feel better you’re the prettiest ‘it’ I’ve ever seen,” he joked. “And I’ve totally got you under control.”

“Really?” She challenged.

“Yeah, I can make you smile...” He smiled, and like a foolish little girl, she submitted to his contagiousness beam, blushing at how easy she made it for him.

“And, I can make you laugh...”

This one was going to be a lot tougher, Misty devoted herself. But while she concentrated on his gorgeous blue eyes, his playful hands slyly found her sensitive waist. His fingertips danced atop her thin blue dress, jerking her mouth into uncontrollable laughter until she cried for him stop.

“And, I can make you feel good inside...”

He whispered in her ear for her to close her eyes and she complied with full trust. At his prompt, she opened her mouth wide. He preyed that he’d do whatever he wanted to do quickly because the cold was getting to her mouth. Soon, the tip of her tongue felt the rough texture of fruity skin. Her teeth dug into the fruit, its sweet juicy sensation travelling down her tongue and into her belly. Strawberries definitely made her feel good inside.

“Oops,” he said. “You made a little mess right there. Let me clean it up for you.” He took a finger and drew off the strawberry juice that was trailing from the corner of her lips. He held his scented finger before her lips for a while, giving her the unexplainable desire to lick it off for him. But he beat her to the punch, dipping his finger into his own mouth and sucking it dry.

“And, most of all, I can make you do this...”

She closed her eyes and held her hands out just like he told her to. Her wondering mind was put to rest when she felt a somewhat silky surface in her hands. Beneath this surface was beating warmth. Whatever it was, it could fit in her hands and it felt almost alive. Suddenly, she felt a pair of hands cup her own, forcing her to hug this thing under his guidance. It was as if he was afraid it would jump away. Finally, he gave her the order to open her eyes.

Slowly, her eyelids rose. Huge round nose, tiny black eyes, small ivory horn, it was so cute ... such a cute - “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Her extremely loud shriek startled Daman, causing him to loose his grip on her hands and giving her the power to toss the creature metres away, far into the tall grass. She was breathing fast and shaking her hands frantically as if they had been dipped in poison. All the meanwhile, Daman had fallen on his back and was laughing hard with his hands on his stomach.

Misty didn’t take to that lightly. “What’s the big idea putting a Weedle in my hands?”

He recovered quickly and sat back up. “I was trying to show you that I could take away your fear. But I guess it’d didn’t go all that well.”

“Darn right, it didn’t! Don’t ever try that again.” Her fury was gentled by the mischievous smile - even though it was gloating about how he had embarrassed her, she couldn’t help but forgive it.

“You don’t have to tell me twice. You know, I really thought I had you fixed for a second there. You should have seen your face! You look so cute when your scream.”

“What? How mean!”

“I’m mean? You’re the one that threw that poor baby Weedle miles away. That strength... I’m almost afraid to be sitting next to you right now.”

“Yeah, well I can get a little carried away sometimes,” she admitted.

“Yeah, and when you do, little baby Weedle tend to get carried far away.” After one final snicker he decided to call it quits with the jokes and reached into his pocket. “You know, if you passed that last little test, I was going to give you this.”

Her keen eyes couldn’t catch sight of the item in his hand. She couldn’t help but be extremely curious. “Really, what is it?”

“It doesn’t matter. You didn’t pass.”

How dare he? After putting her through all that trauma, he wasn’t even going to at least show her what it was? Indignation soon hijacked her body, making her launch a stretched arm toward his hand. He tried to fight her off but she inadvertently knocked him onto his back as she continuously tried to yank his hand out his pocket.

Their eyes met during in the confrontation. He was all laughs and she was all tough. But both their emotions melted into one. Soon, Misty had lost all interest in what he was hiding from her. She was lost in his now messy blond hair and deep, moving eyes. Their smiles faded together and a powerful urge she couldn’t quite control rose from her gut to her lips. She leaned in, slowly, anticipating his gentleness. Only millimetres away did she decide she wasn’t brave enough, offering him her cheek instead. She pulled away after his peck.

How dare she? Getting him all wound up just to be stingy with her delicious, cherry lips. He really did appreciate all she did to make herself beautiful for their little private event. She told him the silky, sleeveless dress she was putting on had always remained dormant in her backpack for special occasions. He was glad to be considered as such.

Looking up, he was captivated by her fair cheeks and cerise lipstick. Her seawater eyes glittered apparently shy but deeply hidden within, they were calling for him. The campfire heated their intertwined souls, ginger light shining on her pleasure longing face. He couldn’t fight the urge anymore.

His hands firmly gripped her waist and powered her on her back as he rose to rest on his side. She yelped from his awesome strength but nevertheless remained trusting of his intentions. He leaned forth, and this time, she closed her eyes and mildly puckered her lips.

He pressed ever so gently against her lips and seized the opportunity of one of her gasps to slide in his tongue. She accepted gracefully, massaging his muscular arms as he took advantage of her lips. Their noses rubbed against each other as they frequently shifted position.

Daman pulled back for a breather. She was still panting when he ordered her to sit up with a finger – the ‘come here’ motion. “Good girl,” he whispered low and seductively to her as he pulled off her hair band. Her red bangs fell to her shoulders, obscuring her face with intensified maturity. She shook her hair about, messing it to go with the muddled lipstick.

Both Ash and Brock were fools not to pluck fruit from the succulent tree growing right in their own backyards, Daman thought. He couldn’t look at Misty any further without touching her. He laid her down once again and commenced with the tongue tying. Sooner than he anticipated, he was ready to get started.

As soon as his hands travelled a little over her knees, she flinched. It was like she had never been touched before – which, if it was the case, he’d consider himself king. “What’s wrong? Have you never done this before?”

Bravely, she shook her head.

“Don’t worry,” he reassured her. “I promise I’ll be gentle.”

His smile was so trusting. She was forced to believe. And so she closed her eyes and allowed his wandering hand up her skirt. But this time, he bypassed all temptations to make it straight to her heart. It was beating faster and faster beneath his palm. He looked deeply into her innocent blue eyes.

“Listen to your heart because it is all you can trust in this world.”

She heard his words and did as he told her … she really believed she could hear her heart … and so when the question came …

“What does it say?”

She answered…

<>End Of Part III-2<>

Author’s Notes:

About Ash’s mom, I read somewhere that her name was Delia or Deliah or something along those lines. You’ll have to excuse me if I spelt it wrong, I wasn’t entirely sure. And about that warm up song, if you don’t remember it, it was the theme song for the very first Pokémon season I believe. I can email it to you if you want.

You know the drill guys, I feed of reviews! And to those of you who were kind enough to add this story to your favourite list but forgot to review, I’d really appreciate your input. Part IV marks the undeniable finale. Stay tuned!

monokey
May 13th, 2006, 02:36 PM
This just keeps on getting better. Not much that i suggest you could add. Keep it up, when will there be a new chapter:classic:

Krafty Quill
May 15th, 2006, 04:52 AM
Another Long Part.

Part IV-1

Millions of bright specs populated the pitch black heavens while the half-eaten, pale moon ruled in the absence of its golden brother, starving the earth of the warm, loving light only day could bring. Even the thick, silver-lined clouds held no shard of optimism for a peaceful night. Frighteningly cold winds haunted the campsite below, wailing songs of death in their inevitable waft.

A hooded figure took slow steps. Its white cape, darkened by the gloomy glow, fluttered gracefully in the devilish aroma. Further shadowed beneath the hood, mechanical breadths puffed foggy balls that dissolved in the accepting atmosphere. Unevenly, shoulders limped in concord with malevolence’s daunting dance ... left, pause, right, pause...

The wind carried morsels of burnt ash to her attention – or rather disinterest - as lazy feet were dragged passed an extinct fire site. Crispy, black logs, still packed close together, hid the orange glimmers that held proof of life’s intervention in the evening’s prior hours. The presence of the living still hung in the chilly air, calling her lethal therapy to cure its faulty state of existence. She carried on forth, willing and able to comply with its request.

So many steps forward, a warm haze clouded the air with its mild thickness, distastefully invading the path she followed. Hurtful green eyes took offence to the source, the gleaming calm spring water. Light ripples moved the surface, still unsettled from the company of a body - or two. By her hands, these same beasts would never disturb the water’s tranquillity again.

More steps forward, a one-man green tent stood proud in the near distance. As she approached it, she discovered that the somewhat violent winds failed to falter its dwelling member from noisy slumber. Shutting her ears from the ugly snores, she slithered around the tent, careful not to alert the three bulky, sleeping bags resting a few steps away. Like a hungry mantis salivating above scraps of food, the darkness of her hood hovered above the conscious deprived gang.

Twitching rodent ears threatened to wake, only flutters away from the detection of her presence. But really, they were only threatening themselves, for should they have awoken, the very life that pulsed through their yellow, triangular prisms would be sniped away with no hesitation. Quite a cruel punishment for only carrying out their duty of protecting the boy - who undoubtedly slept in the bag beside them.

As a Pokemon, as his Pikachu, it was only doing its job … but so was she.

The boy’s features were veiled within the sleeping bag. His eyes must have been shut considering the nonsense escaping his mumbling lips. And there she stood above him, ready to do fate’s bidding. An equipped bow escaped from its purpose-restricting prison as she pealed the white cloak off her wrist. Against temptation, the loaded arrow remained still - possibly savouring the long-sought moment.

For him, fortune couldn’t have come at a better time.

A new emotion was born. Not in her heart, but in her mind. She had never killed an unaware target. Unaware, in the sense that its mind was lost to the conscious environment. To follow through with the order now would be to kill the dignity she so caringly upheld since she became an assassin. No. It was not a fitting end for the target – and especially not this target.

Her eyes slid to the sleeping bag beside him. Long, strands of hair reached out from the uncovered top. It was too dark to be sure they were red, but nevertheless, the obvious scent of her femininity gave away her identity.

For her, fortune couldn’t have come at a worse time.

ooOOoo

Ash twirled around uncomfortably in the sleeping bag, groaning about each position his confused body turned to find. The stuffy air he managed to conjure was of no help either. Defeated, his eyes opened. He poked his head out of the bag to get fresh air. His face tingled with delight in the relatively cool environment.

To his unadjusted eyes, the night was just as dark as the insides of his sleeping bag. He folded his arms and pillowed his head. Pikachu’s silent snores from his left him made him smile. And everyone on his right was being their usual quiet selves. Their silence in combination with the blinding darkness would tell him that his friends weren’t present at all if he hadn’t known better.

He took a deep breadth then looked at the star-filled, blue-black sky. It was beautiful. Just like it was the last time he saw it … with Misty. It made him realise just how silly this whole feud was. That, and the fact that no matter how strongly his feelings were against her, they’d never last a night in his tender soul – or even half a night, evidently. That’s why the moment the sun rose, he’d go to her and tell her –

Snooooooore!

Nearly deafened by the loud snore, he turned straight to the source. It was coming somewhere from the right. Misty had her moments now and then but she’d never be able to produce anything so horridly croaky, not even by choice. Her sweet, gentle, feminine, vocal chords were completely incapable of –

Snooooooore!

Brock? Somewhat strangely, Brock was usually the most silent of the three. The only noise he ever made in his sleep was when he murmured some random girl’s name. Which reminded Ash of the one time he heard Brock breathing real deeply … and rapidly … and he could have sworn he heard Brock’s hand underneath the covers moving so –

Snooooooore!

Two down and only one left. By way of elimination, Ash identified the crazed Snorlax. It was none other than Daman! He wondered if Misty would still be so infatuated with lover boy if she knew of all the ruckus he made in his sleep. Well, at present she certainly didn’t seem to mind at all. Both she and Brock, and even Pikachu for that matter, were sound asleep through the entire ordeal. Too sound asleep … come to think of it.

His eyes had now adjusted to the moonlight and he could see a little more than he could before. With his new found ability, he turned to the sleeping bag beside him, were Misty usually slept. His ears concentrated as much as they could, bypassing Daman’s snores, to try and pick up any faint hint of Misty’s presence. But nothing. He squinted, focusing his eyes on were she should have been lying but found nothing but an utterly still sleeping bag.

For reasons unknown to him, his heart jumped up his throat. Rashly, he crawled out of his bag and made his way towards Misty’s. His had trembled in the air, unaware of what he’d do if Misty really wasn’t there, but even more afraid of what she’d do if she was there. He gulped down hard and dropped his hand.

Nothing. Nothing but fabric. He flattened the bag, feeling up and down its entire surface for anything but she wasn’t there. His heart began pounding very fast. Of course she could have just woken up for a little stroll but she never did on a night this cold. Not to mention whenever she did try to sneak out, he’d always notice her leaving but never revealed the knowledge to her. And even if he didn’t notice her leave, all he’d have to do is lift up his head and find her sitting a couple of feet away.

But she was gone. It was very possible that this was all just his mind overworking, but somehow … he had a feeling. A bad feeling. His wandering fingers ran into something rigid and flat. It was a sheet of paper. He grabbed it and crawled back to his sleeping bag. He dove inside and pulled out a tiny flashlight to create just enough light to see what was on the paper.

His hands trembled even more when he finished reading the short message left specifically for him. He got to his feet and clenched his fist, crumbling the paper before dropping it on the ground. He looked at Pikachu and the others. He had to let them sleep. He didn’t want to endanger anyone else’s lives. With a final deep breadth, he began to walk away from his friends, determined, with only one question in mind…

Who’s Amila?

ooOOoo

Fearful tears surfaced on Misty’s forehead. Cold fingers were clutched around her arm, forcefully pushing her forward as they directed her in a strange path. If it wasn’t for her bound wrists at her lower back, she would have tried to fight back. And her taped mouth wouldn’t even allow her to scream for dear life. It was hopeless to do anything but comply.

The winds relentlessly bit at her bare legs and arms and fluttered her nightdress about. This was no time to be taking a stroll. Her big toe abruptly found a rock deep in the tall grass, causing her to fall to the ground knee first. But before she could weep from the pain, she was roughly yanked back to her feet by the collar of her nightdress.

Misty gritted her teeth beneath the gag. She couldn’t believe Claudia could be so cold. Stay away from strangers, stay away from strangers … her mother’s song always went. Why didn’t she listen? A tear trailed down her cold, pale cheek. She probably deserved this for being so naïve. The hunter’s knife … the Bowgun … the clues were all there.

But if she, Ash and the others were still alive than surely somewhere deep within this abductor’s heart was a glimmer of good. Misty believed if she could only get the gag of her mouth, she could possibly talk down Claudia by tapping into that glimmer of good. For the next couple of metres, Misty moaned non-stop until Claudia finally threw her to the ground from impatience.

“What is it?” She hissed.

Misty struggled to her feet. Her chest stretched out and came back in, scooping in all the air her lungs could hold with each breadth. She was still scared, but she had to play this right. Claudia stood crossed armed before her, masking her frustration with her calm posture. This was it. Misty cast her eyes towards something on Claudia’s belt. She jerked her head toward the object as her sealed lips hummed its name.

It took Claudia a while to make sense of the gestures. Amongst other things strapped onto her utility belt, there was a small flask. The girl wanted water. Or, she wanted to be smart and try to do something that would alert her friends. They must have been miles away by now. The captured had to believe she had a good set of lungs if she was going to scream that loud. Sinister thoughts clouded her mind. Lungs would be useless if they were cut out from her chest cavity and left to rot in the wilderness…

The sharp blade squealed as it slid out of the sheath wrapped around Claudia’s thigh. She flipped the dagger around so its steel blade stuck out from the pinkie side of her clenched fist. Her free arm stretched forward, slender cold fingers clutching Misty’s neck tightly before throwing her back first against a hard tree trunk. Giving her no time to recuperate, the white shadow zoomed up to her face.

Widened eyes traced the course of the knife’s pointy tip as it explored her sweaty face. It would have been sketching its tracks in a red shade if it had been pressed against her delicate skin a tad harder. Tears began to flood Misty’s eyes, frozen of fright to move an inch from their watery source. The shadow within the hood drew closer to her face…

“I remove this handkerchief, you drink.” The hostile whisper was barely decipherable over Misty’s panting nose. “Anything else … and you’ll have to paste those lips back on with your own blood.”

With no further warning, Claudia slid the blade in the small space between Misty’s lips and the hugging gag. She nipped it off with a flick of her wrist. Misty still didn’t speak as Claudia freed her red wrists from the imprisoning cloth that had bound them for over ten minutes. Instinctively, the redhead caught the flask that was lazily tossed to her.

More water trickled down her chin than actually entered her mouth. Misty’s mind was plagued with guesses of what Claudia’s evil intentions could’ve been. She couldn’t think of any thing her, Ash, or any of them for that matter, could have done to make Claudia this angry. Angry wasn’t even the word for it. It was like her mind had done a complete one-eighty, turning her from the joyful girl she was to this, this … empty vessel. Why did she insist on taking out her personal issues on them? What did they ever do to her apart from saving her? And befriending her out of pure virtue? Why was she acting like this? Why? Why? …

“… Why …”

Misty shut her lips the second she realised the potentially fatal error. She watched in horror as the dark outline in front of her slowly turned to face her. The flask slipped between her trembling fingers.

“Why? … You ask?” A tiny glint of untrusting warmth moved with her words. “The answer’s simple. I do this because it’s what I get paid to do. Because it’s what I’m good at. I’m an assassin. Nothing more and nothing less.”

An ASSASSIN! Misty stepped back, feeling her soul nearly abandoning ship at the curse of a word. To think, all this time they’d been frolicking with a killer. One seemingly proud of her occupation. What exactly did she mean ‘nothing more and nothing less’? Was she trying to say she wasn’t even human? If Misty was going to die she wasn’t going to leave silently. A lump travelled down her throat as she carefully chose the words of what could be her final conversation…

“… No, Claudia. You’re not … you’re not a killer.” Claudia tilted her head a little but she didn’t say anything. Misty hoped it was out of interest. Choosing to believe that, she continued.

“I don’t know what this cruel world did to you but you don’t have to be like this. Believe me, I know how it feels to be rejected … and worse … by those closest to you … family.” She paused and thought about the whole situation with her sisters. And this whole thing with Ash. How stubborn of her. The shadow of death had to be cast upon her; had to help her find the common sense that had been boxed and tossed to corner of her heart. A tear ran down her cheek.

“But you know what, Claudia? We don’t have to be like this. It may not seem so at times but we choose our emotions. The way we feel … it’s always us. No matter how bad we want to, it wouldn’t be fair to accuse other people for making us feel the way we do. I understand that now. You helped me understand that. Now, please, let me help you.”

“Help me?” Claudia repeated, her eyes frozen in concentration of the words. “How, how can you help me?” She shook her head furiously, ridding her mind from Misty’s corrupt words. “You can’t help me!” The anger was back with a vengeance. But Misty remained calm.

“Of course I can. You just have to let me. We’ve already helped you once, we saved your life, remember? Give me a chance and I can save it again…”

“No, no, no. No! I didn’t ask you to save my life!” She raised her knife. “Shut up or I’ll kill you too!”

Too? Misty gulped. But she couldn’t stop now, not after making all this progress. “Please, Claudia. Why would you want to kill me? Why would you want to kill anyone? How is it going to help make you feel the way you want to feel? Killing me won’t change anything. It won’t –”

“I said shut up!” Misty fell silent instantly, shivering at the sheer volume. Claudia broke out in a frighteningly, exaggerated laugh. “You’d make a good opponent. I can see. You’ve got the potential in you. Lucky one, you’d be dead already if you were my target. Thank the stars you’re not.” She put the knife back in its sheath and crossed her arms.

“Tar-target?”

“Ash.”

An unfamiliar emotion stabbed her heart. Misty had no idea what it was about that name… Images of the league cap, the Pikachu, everything she said she hated about him just drifted within her broken mind. The coldness flowing in her veins warmed … heated … boiled … exploded! “NO! Leave Ash out of this! It’s me you abducted from the campsite! It’s me you want. Kill me!!” She spread her arms to her sides, making her heart a clear target for the assassin.

Claudia shook her head. “Foolish. Have you forgotten what you preached of emotions only seconds ago? ‘We choose.’ Is this the weak emotion you decide to choose?”

“Yes.” Not even a millisecond passed before Misty uttered the word.

“No. You’re not my target. Ash is.”

“AARGHH! I swear, if you kill Ash, you better kill me too, because if you don’t … if you don’t … I promise I’ll kill you myself!”

The words brought a smile to Claudia’s lips. “I knew you had it in you. Ha. Perhaps, we’re not so different after all. But I have no reason to regard your words as anything but.”

A bulge formed from out of Misty’s enraged fingers. She ran up to Claudia and threw the fist as hard as she could straight at her face. Claudia’s arms were still crossed when she lazily lifted a hand and caught Misty’s charging fist with ease. Misty’s eyes widened, shocked at how weak her disgraceful attack was. But that was all the strength she had. If she couldn’t do anything with that, then there was no hope.

Suddenly, Claudia tugged Misty’s arm violently, putting her knee in the path of the falling redhead’s stomach. Tears forcefully dropped to the earth from Misty’s eyes, now with her knees and one hand on the ground, while the other held her winded gut.

“Pathetic,” Claudia spat. She lifted a boot and stomped Misty’s back hard, sounds of cracking bone muffling with the helpless girl’s yelp. Snake eyes feasted on the defeated girl squirming on the ground. A sinister smile mirrored her thoughts. She knew the perfect punishment.

ooOOoo

The slits were fully open and the dark brown eyes ever hidden within revealed, dancing in tune with the exposed beauty before him. A tall, pink-haired woman conserving her sheers with skimpy, pink matching lingerie, slothfully toyed with the long silver pole connecting the stage to the roof. Her every move calculated perfectly to entice her prey.

Despite the reckless blinks of blinding colourful lights, he couldn’t bring his eyelids down for a second, not even to blink. She jumped off stage, mischievous eyes taunting him as she swung her gorgeous body his way. His weak, melting mind was loosing control of his eager body with each step she drew nearer.

Like an innocent little girl, she lowered her bottom onto his lap and began tracing all over his face with a delicious finger. “You like to play games?” She teased.

“Yes, nurse. I do.”

“You know what my favourite game is?” He shook his head. “Doctor. You know how to play Doctor, don’t you?”

“Of course, Joy.” He struggled to stay focused on her face as her fingers massaged his spiky hair. “You’ve come for a check up, I presume. Well, let me take your temperature. Open your mouth wide so I can put this thermometer –” The thermometer ‘accidentally’ dropped and shattered on the ground.

“Oh no!” She gasped with a hand over her mouth. “It’s broken!”

“Don’t worry. I’ve still got this.” He licked his lips slothfully. She caught on quickly and leaned in with parted lips. This was it, he thought, shutting his eyes as she drew nearer…

Snoooooooooooore!

He recoiled quickly. “Was that you? Did you just –”

Snoooooooooooore!

“**** it, just once can’t I have it my way!” He cried out before the entire room turned black.

His eyes jolted open to cold darkness. He wiped his disappointed teary eyes just in time to catch another waft of that disgustingly loud snore. Enough was enough. He wasn’t going to wait until morning to dish out one hell of an *** whipping. Especially not after a dream like that! His upper body zapped up almost zombie like when –

SMACK!

Brock massaged his nose as he picked up the crumbled ball of paper that had fallen into his laps. His sleepy mind quickly discovered that simply unravelling it wasn’t going to help him read it any better. He ducked into his sleeping bag and used his flashlight to shed light. The muscles of his tired face trembled wakefully when he finished reading the message.

Ash and Misty were in trouble. He got to his feet and examined their sleeping bags with help from his flashlight, only to see the flaccid, black plastic blowing weakly in the air.

“Pika?” Pikachu frowned, eyes squinting from the interrupting light that hit his face.

“You’re still here!” Brock exclaimed. That could only mean Ash was complying with the letter’s demands. Brock’s fist pumped with courage. He couldn’t let Ash do this alone. By the sounds of it, he was going to need all the help he could get.

Snoooooooooooore!

Unfortunately that meant him too. Bravely, he got on all fours and crawled into the Snorlax’ den. “Daman!” He tried. “DAMAN! DAMAN!” Not even hard tugs could shudder him awake. “Ah!” Brock snapped his fingers as he devised a plan. “Pikachu…”

Soon, the yellow mouse came walking in tiredly. After much reluctance (he knew of the agonising feeling disturbance brought whenever he was dreaming peacefully and didn’t think good of doing the same), he agreed to shock the boy awake if it meant Ash needed his help.

“Argh…” Daman groaned sleepily as a tiny spark of electricity hit his body.

“Daman?” Brock couldn’t tell if he was still asleep or not.

“What … what is it?” He mumbled.

“Wake up! It’s Ash, he’s missing! We have to -” But the snores were back as quick as they had left. He was just asking for a fully charged Thunder attack. But then Brock quickly thought of something less hazardous and probably more effective. “Oh Daman…” he sang. “Misty’s missing!”

“WHAT!?” Daman was sitting up with his arms crossed and eyes wide open before Brock could even detect his movement. “Wait a minute here, you’re telling me Ash is missing –”

“So you were awake the whole time!?”

“Sshh, I’m trying to figure this out,” he hushed the rock trainer like he was nothing more than a child. “You’re telling me that right now, in the middle of the night, Ash just suddenly goes missing AND so does Misty?”

“Yeah…”

“You know what this means don’t you?”

“Of course!” Brock exclaimed. “They’re in trouble. Get your lazy behind up so we can go help them!”

“No,” Daman said, shaking his head. “IT MEANS I’M GONNA KILL THAT LITTLE RUNT FOR TRYING TO SHACK UP WITH MY GIRL!!”

“Wha…” Brock and Pikachu sweat-dropped. “For once, just once, can’t you get your mind off girls!?”

Pikachu sweat-dropped; Brock not realising he should be last person to give that bit of advice.

“Not this girl…” Daman sighed, almost sounding defeated.

“Whatever, man. Let’s just go before it’s too late.”

“Wait a minute. What kind of trouble are you talking about? And where are we going exactly?”

“Pika Pi?” Pikachu thought the same thing.

Daman caught the letter when Brock chucked at it him, and began to read out loud.

To Ash,

Business is business.

Meet me somewhere north east of your campsite the minute you get this letter. Just keep moving north east, you’ll find us. And make sure you come alone. No Pokemon and No friends. Or else…

In case you’re wondering, she’s with me. Any hope you have of seeing her will be vanquished if you’re not here by mid morning, alone.

What takes nine to make, but only a second to break?

Wonder.

I’ll see you there.

Signed, Amila.
“Oh no, this is horrible!” Daman said, crumbling the paper.

“I know.” Brock shook his head. “Ash doesn’t even know which way north east is!”

Daman and Pikachu sweat-dropped. “Well, I guess we better get going.”

End Of Part IV-1

Krafty Quill
May 15th, 2006, 05:04 AM
Part IV-2

A stray shadow swam in the grass, everything from its belly down mouthed in the tall meadow. The grass hissed as each step fought its way through the wild plains. The crickets gurgled their scratchy voices, and eccentric hoots speculated about the intruder from the luxury of tall trees. Silver shimmers outlined the leaves bathed in darkness, the moonlight being the night’s only comfort.

North east, his body pushed on. Every move his limbs tried was calculated with only half of mind – the same half of mind, further stunted of navigational talent. Physically, he moved forward, though uncertain any proceeding step moved harmonically with progress. With crossed arms, and hands climbing into his short black sleeves, he fought the doubt and pressed on in that direction.

For he didn’t need a campus or a guide book to inform him of things so obviously trafficked in nature’s sway. Harsh winds smacked his face, chilled his ears red, tossed his hair back, bit his arms cold. The mouth that spewed these winds could only be of wicked lips. But caring lips too, for they continuously warned him not to advance their way. That’s where the danger was. That’s where fate rested. That’s where he needed to go.

What takes nine to make, but only a second to break?

Somehow, he felt the agenda of this meeting was associated with the answer. But this riddle, like every other in his life, would have to join the queue at the back of his mind that led to the head office of irrelevance. Instead, he directed his attention to the path ahead. Nothing but open darkness and the occasional tree sprouting from the tall grass.

After more searching, Ash contemplated turning back or trying another route when he caught sight of a glowing orange partially hidden behind a wall of trees. Streams of smoke lifted into the sky from somewhere beyond the trees. He was too far to confirm it with his nose, but he was sure it was a burning fire. Flames began to light up his heart. His arms shot to his sides, ready to burnout the adrenaline pulsing within them. His steps came quicker, feet pressing harder against the ground to launch his body further ahead.

Pants escaped his burning lungs, louder and hotter, as his sprint led him closer. Finally, he pressed his body close to one of trees and shifted his head, cautious eye surveying the area for any obvious traps. All he could see was a professionally done campfire burning into fresh timber. Feeling confident that no one was there, he squeezed his body in the space between the trees.

When he made it through, he realised he was standing on a circular pitch of flat, green grass and tall trees outlined the area’s entire circumference. The campfire stood guard in the centre and across the grounds to far end he could see … a figure! His heart started racing only seconds before his legs did the same. As he got closer, the figure began to take more shape. Its body was wrapped tightly around a tree by thick, brown ropes and its head hung, defeated, red bangs drooping down.

“Misty!”

Her head rose, responding to the call, watery blue eyes saddening his spirit. “A-Ash…”

Metres before he could fish out any word from his bottomless river of apologies, his bare feet skidded to a stop. From nowhere, a white blaze had dropped a distance before him. The figure rose to a stand and threw her hood back, revealing motionless jade eyes that thrilled the hairs on the back of his neck to attention.

“Claudia…” He didn’t even know what to call her anymore. “Or Amila, should I say. Whoever you are, please … just leave us alone!”

“Ash!!” Misty gasped when Claudia suddenly raised her Bow to him.

Apart from gritting his teeth and throwing his hands in the air, there was very little else Ash could do. “Why are you doing this!? I saved your life and this is how you’re gonna repay me!? Come on, I know it’s not you in there. The Claudia I know would never do this. Just tell me who’s forcing you to do these things. I promise, I’ll help you stop them.”

One corner of her lips lifted. “I’d say … you’re the one that appears to be in need of help.” He looked so helpless in his blue pyjama pants and black t-shirt. But there would be no more excuses for her not to kill him. “Sure. I’ll answer your questions. Only because I feel it’s the least you deserve.” She paused, running his questions through her mind once more.

“Everything I do is of my own will. No one forces me to do anything. The reason I’m doing this, well, it’s my job. And you, unfortunately, are one big pay check waiting to be cashed.”

“Because of money,” Ash hissed, disgusted. ‘Business is business,’ she wrote in the letter. Even though, there was a deeper reason to all this she keep away. Hidden, but it was there. He could sense it. “You mean even after I saved your life, you’re willing to take mine?”

“Free a wild beast from a snare and attempt to pat its head during lunch hour. What do you think would become of your hand?”

“But we’re not wild beasts! We’re human. We’re smarter than that.”

“Not of all us, apparently…” came a weak voice from behind Claudia.

She turned to Misty. It was always foolish of prey to remind predators of her presence. “And you, I was going to let you live…” The weapon locked onto the tied up redhead. Clever, she may have been, but not smart enough to outwit the assassin. Right on cue, Ash lunged for her while she had her back turned, only to have his nose smash into tough knuckles.

Claudia lowered her arm and turned back to Ash, green eyes boasting over his laid down body. He shifted his body weight onto an elbow pressing in the ground and used the back of his other fist to clean the blood leaking from his nose. His body shuddered, mouth open in surprise, as she aimed an arrow at him. This was it. Given his position and the measly metre that spaced his nervous eyes and the staring arrow, it would be impossible to stop her from shooting or even dodge the arrow.

His eyes slowly shut, passing winds muffling Misty’s cries as he fell back into the darkness…

NO!! Not Misty…

Dying here would almost certainly ensure Misty’s death. Determination heated into offensive fury and seeped into his heart, coupling its power with every beat. He couldn’t let her die. The power grew hotter and hotter until it would turn into something not even he would know. He couldn’t let her die, no matter what…

A powerful energy surged through his body, strengthening each and every muscle it travelled. Little by little, he could feel himself growing stronger in ever limb and shockingly lighter too. Soon, he was floating in the darkness behind the closed curtains to the windows of his soul. A strange mystical force pulled his body upward, his back slowly evaporating from the ground. Strong as his body, and as light as his soul, he clenched his fist, embracing the strength that surfaced to his usability. His feet finally touched ground.

His eyes shot open at once.

Claudia gasped, her weapon glaring at him tremblingly at the burning flames in his eyes that accompanied the rebirth. She cursed at herself for not firing when he was down and sure not to retaliate. Suddenly brave, he took slow steps forward, blue aura surrounding his body and lifting his apparently weightless hair to the skies. In less than a second this time, she let loose an arrow heading straight for his head.

Everything went quite. Ash’s senses were completely shut from nature’s noise. His focused ears picked up the snap of the arrow as it left her bow. The thin spear snailed in the air, progressing no faster than a paper airplane. He smirked and ran right towards it. With one hand, he grabbed it and snapped it in two, letting it drop to earth as nothing more than useless twigs. Golden-brown eyes shot at Claudia, calm and menacing.

He cried out to the skies as he clenched his fists and channelled all the energy his body could hold to his fists. In a swift movement, even he didn’t know he could do, he flew forward with an arm stretched ahead. His fist felt nothing when it hammered into Claudia’s face. The assassin was thrown back several metres, piercing thick tree trunks with her body, head first, until she was nothing more than a bad memory.

He’d done it.

Having served its purpose, all the energy left his body. The blue aura that surrounded him blinked out instantly. Still puzzled, he gazed at his palms. What was he?

“Ash!”

The girl’s cry broke his thought immediately. Later. Right now he’ll go claim his reward. He ran towards the tree that Misty was wrapped to and tore off the thick ropes with a single hand. She toppled on top him from the sudden loss of support.

He met the joyful tears watering her blue eyes with an unwavering stare. They were captivated by the peaceful silence, lost in each other’s gazes. Misty’s cheeks began to grow red when she realised how tightly Ash was holding her around the waist and how close his lips were from hers. “Ash…”

Ash didn’t say anything. He didn’t want this moment to be broken up by a slip of his clumsy tongue. No, he’d put the little bugger to better use. He put a hand at the back of her head and gently lowered her face to his.

“Ash…” She whispered.

“Ash.”

“Ash!”

“ASH!!”

“What now!” he pouted.

The silence turned uncomfortable.

His eyes blinked once.

Abruptly, his head hung cold. His blurry vision whizzed clear, startling his eyes with dangling white toes. A simple wiggling exercise proved that they were, indeed, his. Out of fright, he beckoned his hands to meet his feet. But he couldn’t move his hands!

“Ash!”

He swung his face towards the voice as fast as his neck would allow. Hot pants played with two long, red hairs, blowing them away from a strained face. Ash looked up and learnt that her wrists were squeezed with a thick brown rope that dropped from somewhere high up on the tree she was bound against. It didn’t take him long to realise he was tied up in exactly the same way.

Misty gave a weak smile. “What a time to go daydreaming.”

“Again?” Ash sighed, disappointed in himself. “What happened?”

“Well, you remember when you tried to attack her from the back?” He nodded reluctantly. “She kind of saw that coming and counterattacked with the back of her fist. You got knocked down and your nose started bleeding. Then that’s when she pointed that bow and arrow of hers at you. I got really scared that she was going to shoot you so I kind of called out your name. And that’s when you just fell back with your eyes closed and … passed out.”

It was just a dream! Ash shook his head, very disappointed. What was going on with – wait! “Where is she?”

“I don’t know.” Misty glanced at the fire still burning in the centre of the area for second. “She was sharpening her knife a couple of minutes ago. I think she gave up on you when you didn’t wake up after so long. I’d say you were out for over fifteen minutes.”

“That long?” Ash said, shaking his head again.

“Well at least it’s nice to see you were having a … good dream…”

“What?” Ash said, confused. Using her eyes, Misty guided him to the bulge in his pants. He could feel the blood rushing to his face like never before. Of all things, why did he have to bring that back with him from the dream?

The giggle he hadn’t heard for far too long finally graced his ears. “Don’t worry. It’s only natural for a growing boy,” she teased.

“Oh great … the only thing more embarrassing about this is having a girl explain it to you.” And she was only about two years his senior.

“You’re taking this way too hard, Ash.” She smiled, enjoying every minute. “I mean, lots of guys do it all time. More than you even.”

“Really?” Lots of guys? “Even, Brock?”

“Every Nurse Joy or Officer Jenny! Scratch that, any pretty thing in a skirt that manages to stumble down his path.” They both laughed together for the first time in a while. “Why’d you think I pull him away as fast I can!?”

Ash could sort of understand that. If he was ever alone with a girl when he felt like that he probably wouldn’t be able to trust himself either. But something was just off about this whole topic. Why was Misty so pleased with her analysis of both him and Brock, and who knew how many other guys? “Hey! What are you doing looking down there anyway!?”

“Oh please, Ash. Don’t give me that.” The calmness and cheerfulness in her voice surprised even herself. Usually she’d be hotter than a tea kettle if Ash accused her of anything! “You know, Ash, I could ask you the same question…”

“What! Er – I don’t know what you’re talking about!” He laughed to himself, nervously.

“Really?” Misty said in her matter-of-factly voice. “Remember that time you, Brock and I went to that restaurant where they served us way too much food? Think it was called Not-Yet-Ate or something…”

Ash remembered the events of that morning very well…

0-0-0-0-0

Breakfast was all Ash could think about the second he woke up. Thankfully, he didn’t have to wait long before he found himself sitting behind a round breakfast table, Pikachu sitting in his laps. A long pole passed through the centre of the table, stretching out into an umbrella at its peak to shield the diners from the morning sun.

Ash took a whiff of the fresh, revitalising air. “This is just great! We should eat at these outdoor restaurants more often!”

“Pika!” His Pokémon agreed.

“This is good and all but the food looks a little much,” Brock said as he skimmed through the menu.

“I really need this. I’m willing to Pokémon Battle my butt off to make up for the cost.”

“Not expensive, Ash.” Brock twirled the menu so his friend’s eyes could read without complications. He pointed out a certain item. “That’s twelve slices of toast for only that much!!” His finger stammered to the printed price.

“Whoa! That’s a deal and a half!”

“That’s twelve slices! Who could possibly finish all that!?”

“Ash and his stomach of course.” Misty joined them, having just visited a restroom inside the restaurant.

For some reason, Ash’s eyes wandered to her legs as she passed him to get to her seat. Was it just him, or were those shorts getting shorter and shorter…

Minutes later, Ash found himself stuffed only halfway through his dish. The mountain of scrambled eggs was too much for even his greedy stomach to conquer. Brock was munching away at his fifth slice of toast and Misty was nibbling on the first of two ham and cheese sandwiches. Maybe he should have also ordered a ‘kiddie’ meal. He remembered Misty specifically asking for two servings of milk for her tea and boy did she get them; two full cartons of full cream milk sitting to either of her sides.

For once, in the presence of food, his mind began drifting elsewhere. Somewhere it probably shouldn’t have been. He quickly directed his attention back to his plate of eggs and bread. The mere sight of it all sickened his stomach. He was ready to give away his first meal. “Misty, I’ve got way too much on my plate. Would you like some legs – er - eggs?”

Brock snickered on the side and Ash was smiling nervously. Misty didn’t know what had gotten into them. “No thanks, Ash. I’ve got way too much as it is. And this is supposed to be a kiddie’s meal! But maybe our taste buds just need a little adjusting. Help me get mine done and I’ll help with yours.”

He looked at the two tall cartons of milks and his own plate. Either way, he wouldn’t be able to finish but at least with the milk, he could wash down that nasty egg sensation tickling his tongue. “Fine. Let me drink from those big jugs of yours.”

Brock choked on an impossibly small pea. Misty rushed to his side and slapped his back desperately, unaware of the chuckles that frolicked between his chokes. When she turned to Ash, his head had turned into a large red tomato with spiky hair sprouting out. “Why are you blushing so much? Did I miss something?”

“He he,” Ash sweated. “It-it’s nothing. Just pass me some of your milk.” He wiped his forehead, just glad that she had no idea of what happened…

0-0-0-0-0

“…But you did know all along.”

Misty smiled guiltily at the accusation.

“Misty,” Ash asked, almost wishing she wouldn’t respond. “How about Daman?”

“Daman.” Flames from the fire were reflected in her eyes as she thought of the mentioned. “He’s something else. He’s the only guy who ever really liked me.” Ash’s soul was crushed at the words. “He’s the only guy who’s ever been interested in me, in that way…”

“In that way?” She didn’t mean – no, she couldn’t mean – “You mean…” She nodded her head much to his discomfort. “But you didn’t – I mean, you wouldn’t – you guys didn’t – he didn’t hurt you.”

“Hurt me, no! Nothing like that,” Misty reassured him. “In fact, he was quite a gentleman. Before we were about to…” She coughed. “He asked me if I wanted to. At least, I think he did. He told me to ‘listen to my heart’ and then asked me what it said.”

“And?”

“And I told him. It said … you. Ash. And … that was it.”

Faster than any emotion could break into their hearts, the white assassin dropped before them from nowhere. Her teal eyes killing the moment at once with moving glares. “Ah,” she said, looking at Ash. “You’re finally awake. Now we can resume our little affair.”

“What affair!” Ash spat. “If you want to kill me go ahead but leave her out of this. If you want to kill me … why aren’t I dead already?”

“Because, young one, killing in you slumber wouldn’t be good practise. Even I have standards.” She lifted her weapon at him one more time. “What takes nine to make, but only a second to break?”

That **** riddle again, Ash sneered. It was disgusting how much twisted pleasure she was getting from all this. He fought the ropes binding his wrists but that proved more painful than helpful. When he turned to Misty a glimmer of light shone in her eyes, making her face somewhat excited.

“Life…”

“What?” Ash said, only hearing a low whisper.

“A life, Ash. On average, a baby lives in its mother’s womb for nine months before being born. Ironically … it doesn’t even take a second for that life to be taken away…”

Ash’s expression was in awe, both amazed at how much Misty seemed to know about these things, but also afraid that that answer could only be symbolic of his fate.

“Clever.” But before Claudia could shoot the arrow, a dark blaze came smashing into her. Her Bowgun fumbled from her grip and tumbled away from her reach. Her and her new aggressor were struggling on the ground, the man in the black pyjamas overpowering her.

“Daman!” Brock had Claudia pinned by forearms. She was struggling to break free but Brock was sure he could hold her … as long as she didn’t get a hold of her Bowgun that is. “Daman, quick! Get the Bowgun!”

Daman stood shivering from about the same distance Brock and Claudia were away from the weapon, only in the opposite direction. Brock wasn’t looking too good and if she somehow managed to get the weapon before him then they were all going to be doomed. How did he get himself into this situation?

“Daman, I don’t know how much longer I can hold her,” Brock said, noticing her tugs and pulls were getting more violent.

Ash and Misty both looked at the frozen Daman. All he had to do was sprint over and get the Bowgun and it would have been all over. His nerves were shaky, obviously not use to this type of dire circumstances. “Daman!” Ash and Misty shouted together.

He was shaken at their loud voices. It was now or never. He turned to Misty’s worried face, hurting from seeing her tied up like that. All he could do was his part and hope for the best. “That’s one fine piece of *** Brock, but it’s not worth my life!” And with that he turned around and disappeared into the trees.

“Coward!” Brock shouted. Suddenly he felt a hard knee ram into his gut. He peeled over, holding his winded belly as Claudia regrouped and got back to her feet. He could see her in the corner of his eyes going back for the Bowgun. This couldn’t be happening. The only chance he had now was to go look for help. It didn’t seem like he had time for that but If Ash and Misty were still alive than she probably wasn’t planning on killing them, only kidnapping or something.

A yellow mouse figure jumped into the light of flames, giving Brock the cue he needed. Unfortunately for them, Claudia had retrieved her weapon. With hardly no time to focus on aiming on the charging Pikachu, she fired an arrow that pierced its tail and carried it off to a far tree. The arrow’s point was pinned into the trunk and Pikachu was dangling by his injured tail upside down, blood trickling staining its yellow fur down to its head.

“Pikachu!” Ash cried.

“Not so fast,” Claudia whispered to herself before firing another arrow in Brock’s direction. The swift arrow soared flawlessly through the air, only ending its course at the base of Brock’s neck. It stopped him dead in his tracks, his weak body fainting face first into the ground with the arrow pointing out of the back of his neck.

“Brock!” Misty cried out, tears pouring from her eyes.

“Now, you.” Claudia shot an arrow straight at Ash. Halfway through its course however, it was taken in by a stray ball of fire. It dropped to the grass as nothing more than useless ashes. Claudia looked in the sky and found a Charizard, gliding down to the ground with a passenger on its back.

“What…” She gasped as the black dressed rider dismounted the dragon like creature. A rectangular box was fixed beneath his armpit and he held a large, blue bag, its contents bulging out. She looked to his face… “Giovanni? Why did you stop my arrow? It was certain to kill the boy, just like you wanted. And that Charizard…”

Giovanni tossed the bag to her feet. “Things have changed. Your mission is to be aborted, immediately. You’ll find exactly what I promised you in that bag. The full amount. Take it and leave. The boy’s mine now. That will be all.”

ooOOoo

Claudia suddenly stopped, the clattering coins in her bag muting to nothingness. After all that? She turned back and looked at the group of trees that hid Ash and others from her sight. By contract, the only person who could call of the hit was Giovanni. But why? Perhaps, he wanted to do the deed himself to be extra sure. As his client, she could nothing but accept his wishes. But…

Never fail a target…

The heavy bag dropped to the earth with the sound of rustling gold. She turned around, winds carrying her cape closely behind.

ooOOoo

“Consider yourselves lucky,” Giovanni said through hard eyes the moment Claudia was out of view. “I did nothing heroic today so don’t even curse at me with your words of gratefulness. There’s only one person you should thank.” He stood the box in front of his feet and stepped away. “Charizard,” he shrugged his head towards the tied up trainers.

Charizard acknowledged with a stream of flames to the open air. Could it be possible? Ash thought. Could – “Is that –”

“Yes.” Giovanni was right to expect the question. “I’m surprised you didn’t remember what used to be one of your own Pokemon sooner. Especially seeing as this isn’t the first time it’s saved your life.” Ash remembered the Pokemon that had knocked Claudia out of that tree in Viridian.

Charizard cut the ropes gripping Ash and Misty with quick swipes of its claws. The two trainers fell down to their knees immediately. Ash didn’t move as his muscles were still adjusting to being reused. When, he finally looked up no one was there. Only a simple box stood where Giovanni had been a minute ago. Somehow Pikachu had managed to escape the arrow that had had him pinned and was running towards Ash with tearful eyes.

Unfortunately Brock still wasn’t moving. While Misty had run over to check him out, Ash picked up a letter on top of the box and began to read:

Dear …

I don’t even know what to call you. Pest … boy … Ash … … son.

That’s right. Your mom and I made a decision not to tell you when you were still very young. You see, when I was as little as five I could feel this deep sinking in my belly. At first, I thought it was simply my passion of food playing with me. But I was wrong…

Years later my hunger grew. Grew to include of all sorts of things - money, control, power … you name it. Soon that hunger transformed into rage. Whenever I didn’t get my way, I made **** sure no one else got there’s either. I always believed I could control it but everybody told me I was lying to myself. A curse passed down from father to son, for eons, every cursed member failing to overcome it. My father gave up on it. He gave up on life and took his own when he was considerably young.

I promised myself I wouldn’t be the same. Swore that I could control it. Years down the line, look where I’m at now. Now more than ever, I’m convinced that this ire cannot be controlled. It’s a curse that will live in our bloodline for as long as we exist. The only way I could imagine it would stop, is if the very hosts that house this parasite would be exterminated

I swore that it would end with me. That I would never have children. It would’ve been best for the world not to have anymore demons like us. No, I wouldn’t let it happen…

But then I met your mom.

To this day, I don’t know what attracted me to her. Hope. Hope seemed to flow in her veins, live in her heart and smile in her eyes. It devoured me and I strongly believed this godly thing living in her soul could be a cure for my curse. So, I gave in. And that’s when you came into the picture. Ironically, that’s the exact time the evil came back to me. And came back harder than ever. My punishment for doing something that would jeopardise its existence, I believe.

In fear of hurting you and your mother, I left. If there was any hope of you overcoming this fiend from within - than it would have been to your advantage not to know of its existence. After all, you can’t acknowledge what you don’t know. And so I drove my evil filled body off and left you in the tender care of your mother’s hope and love.

I doubt your mother told you this but I was a trainer just like you. And a good one at that. I defeated all the gym leaders but lost against the Elite Four. The depression of the loss, coupled with my evil aura led to the creation of Team Rocket. Look how powerful of an organisation we can be. Now, imagine how powerful we would’ve been had I defeated the Elite Four and became Pokemon Master. With all those additional resources we would have been literally unstoppable.

Exactly why I had to stop you from becoming a Pokemon Master. I know the evil lives inside you too. It is simply waiting for a tragic and misfortunate event to trigger its activation. I thought the best way to stop this was to have you taken out. But then I realised something.

You have a much greater chance of overcoming the evil. You have your Pokemon, your friends, your mom… Things I never had. And most of all, you have faith from your father.

I trust you can overcome it.

Return the flower to your mom. It represents our never dying love for each other and all the faith I have in you. Don’t let it die.

Tell Deliah, I said (tears smeared out the rest of the sentence)

Good Luck.
Ash looked down and opened the box. Inside, was an old wilted plant. It spilled over to one side. “How am I supposed to keep it alive?” He whispered to himself. “It’s already dead … dead … dead…” The word echoed in his mind about the same time he felt a deep stab in his chest.

Timidly, his eyes glanced down and found a long arrow impaled through his flesh and bones, piercing his heart right in the centre. Blood drooped from his chest and leaked from his lips. His groogy eyes caught a glimpse of a white cape disappearing into the fuzzy trees before his legs gave up supporting him.

“Ash!” Her voice faded as he fell back. Defeated, he landed on his back with the arrow sticking out from his bloody shirt. He could hear her weeps and feel her tears showering over his face. He used every ounce of strength in his body to give her a weak smile.

Darkness began eating away at his peripheral vision. Brock’s words played over and over in his mind…

Cowards don’t live, Ash. Fools do…

Another weak smile. How true.

His eyes closed to the world.

Misty cried over his body, not caring that his blood was staining her nightdress. Pikachu’s ears folded back. Brock came walking groggily to the two…

“Is he…”

____________________________________________________________________

The End?...

…Thee Rebirth?...

......The Second Killer Cloud?...

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Author’s Notes

Whoo *wipes forehead.* Finally done. I was getting tired of writing this story (maybe you noticed the different quality of work towards the end) but I felt I had to finish it. That’s my first full fic done and boy am I happy. That last box is basically a couple ideas I have if I was to make a sequel.

So, what do you guys think? Think Ash died?

Originally, the title of this story was to show the transition of Ash moving from being a target to being a victim and then a saviour. But I thought I’d through in a couple more interpretations; one being that Ash was the target, Claudia the victim and Giovanni the saviour. There some more, try and find them. I guess it depends on how you interpret the characters and events. You can have your own opinions and remember no justified answer can be wrong. And you haven't figured it out yet, Giovanni didn't send that guy in Part III, he only ever sent Charizard.

Thanks for reading. I’m probably going to take a break from Pokemon fiction for a while. If I feel motivated to write anything I’ll be back.

Please Review!!! And Thanx again Monokey for yours!

But till then, peace.

monokey
May 15th, 2006, 07:22 AM
Wow....who would of thought it? Ash is a demon? wow i like the way there are twists in your chapters, Ash dies - that was totally unpredictable. A very nice fanfiction well done! I look forward to your next one.

[Edit]
sorry, so ash wasn't a demon he's just day dreaming.