Dawn brought no happiness to Aki.

She sat on a rock by the rushing water, just upriver from where the canyon began, one arm wrapped around one upright knee. Behind her was the camp where the forces of Team Rocket that were with her, her forces, tended to the wounded, and took count of the survivors.

Someone walked up behind her.

"What's the damage Dave?" Aki asked, starring out at the rapids, watching the swirls and flows of the whitewater.

"We lost ten operatives," Dave answered. "And thirty-two pokemon. Samantha might not make it through today, and we've got a couple more pokemon in critical condition."

"Leaving us with nineteen personnel, counting ourselves," Aki said, still not looking at Dave. "Could anyone tell if it was an onix or a steelix that attacked us?"

"Rin said that it felt like rock when it hit him," Dave answered.

"Seems like an onix then," Aki sighed. "A pretty powerful one at that."

"I don't think we can take it in a head on fight," Dave told the scarred woman. "We don't have any pokemon with both type advantage and the strength to fight on that level."

"What about paralysis or sleep?" Aki asked. "Do we have any pokemon with moves that have a good chance of putting that thing down without having to fight it?"

"We have a gloom with Stun Spore, a ralts with Hypnosis, and a cottonee with Stun Spore as well," Dave told her.

"If we can get them all to work together and hit the onix with all that at the same time," Aki said, mostly to herself, "and maybe hit it with every type advantage we have….. yes I can have Sneasel try to freeze it…."

"We could try leading it into a trap," Dave suggested.

"It would be easier if we could get its' trainer first," Aki said, finally turning to look at him. Her expression was stoic, but her eyes were puffy and red-rimmed. "But they were well defended. I didn't get a good look, but it seemed like there might have been more than one trainer on that thing's back."

"They had at least one other pokemon, probably more, that could use ice and electric attacks," Dave nodded. "Which could prove troublesome."

"And at least one pokemon that could use Gust," Aki told him. "They managed to stop Scyther that way."

"Too many unknowns," Dave groaned. "And we're under radio silence so we can't call for reinforcements."

"We can at least try to guess what they're going to do next," Aki said. "Let's assume that they have one pokemon for electric attacks, one pokemon for ice attacks, and one flying type."

"And they shouldn't be on the same level as the onix, otherwise I don't think any of us would have made it last night."

"Right," Aki nodded. "We can then assume that the onix is going to be the centerpiece of their strategy. Ideally for us, they would stay in the cave and adopt a passive stance, but I don't think they're going to do that."

"We don't know how much they know about us," Dave said, frowning. "Was last night planned? Or did they just stumble across us?"

"Our luck would have to be pretty shit if they did," Aki replied. "We have to assume that they know how many of us there are. And that they have a rough estimate on how many pokemon we have."

"Why only a rough estimate?" Dave asked.

"Because if it's anything more than that, then we're already fucked," Aki replied. "Fucked without a kiss or a condom."

"Vulgar, but probably accurate," Dave agreed. "So, with a rough estimate of our numbers, a powerful onix, and three other pokemon, what would you do?"

"I'd crush us as soon as possible," Aki told him. "I wouldn't want to let us get up to anything. But since they're not doing that, they either don't know where our camp is or they have something more important to take care of."

"I wonder if they were sent to rescue our primary target," Dave wondered, "or if they're there to rescue our secondary target?"

"We can only hope that it's the secondary target," Aki replied. "If it's the primary target then whoever sent them has some idea about what he knows."

"Which means that this operation was a failure before it even began," Dave clenched his fist. "But we have to assume that's not the case."

"Either way they're going to want to guard our targets," Aki said. "And we're pretty sure there's multiple trainers there. I'm guessing that the onix belongs to one trainer, and the other three pokemon belong to another. Here's what I would do in that situation. I would use the flying type to scout out our location and then I would leave it with the targets."

"So, they could send you a warning if they got attacked," Dave inferred. "Would you leave the electric type there as well and take that bulbasaur that gave us so much trouble."

"Maybe," Aki massaged her brow, "it would depend on what sort of pokemon I had that could use those electric attacks. But either way I would leave a few extra pokemon with the targets, and then attack us in full force."

"Maybe we could create some sort of decoy," Dave suggested, massaging his chin, eyes narrowing. "We setup some extra tents and leave a few people and pokemon in camp with instructions to look extra busy."

"So, we could attack the cave while they're not there," Aki said. "It's not a bad plan, but we would have to keep an eye on the cave without them knowing about it. And given how they managed to sneak up on us, I'm not sure that we could do that."

"What else could we try?"

"Any trap or trick we try to come up with relies on them not know what we're up to," Aki replied, eyes narrowing as she looked back over the rapids. "What we really need to do is figure out how good they are at scouting."

"We don't have much time," Dave reminded her. "They could attack again at any moment."

"I know, I know," Aki sighed. "But I can't go ahead with a plan that might get any more of my people killed. I've let too many die already."

"You couldn't have known that they'd pull a full grown onix out of their asses," Dave told her. "It's my fault-"

"Oh, not this again," Aki growled. "If you don't think I can't be blamed for what happened last night, why do you think you can be blamed for the target suddenly breaking pattern?"

"Then you agree that you can't be blamed for last night then?" Dave asked with a small smile.

"You're a bastard," Aki said, gently punching him in the arm. She also had a small smile on her face.

"The real question is, do we try to figure out how good they are at scouting, or do we take a gamble and assume we can pull one over on them?" Dave asked.

"We don't have time to test them. But we do need some eyes on them," Aki replied, her own eyes narrowing. "Think you can go take a look at them for me?"

Ash woke up very late in the morning, having barely gone back to sleep before the sun rose.

It had been a busy night. He, Brock, and Misty had gone over some basic tactics with Bulbasaur and the Squirtle Squad (who didn't know that he could speak properly yet), and then he had helped them clean up the cave. After that Brock taught him some basics on how to look over the wounded man. Only after that did Ash get to go to sleep.

Ash gently moved Pikachu off of his chest and then sat up in his sleeping bag, taking a look around the cave. Pokemon were scattered about, sleeping in huddled groups. Melanie was nearby, curled up under a blanket, sleeping atop a gently snoring tauros.

"Breakfast?" A quiet voice said from Ash's side. Ash turned to find Brock with a plate of hot eggs and breakfast potatoes.

"Sure," Ash replied, quietly slipping out of his sleeping bag and taking the offered breakfast and a spoon. He wasted no time in digging in.

"I had concerns about the best way to prepare the powdered eggs, but it looks like I did a good job," Brock commented as he watched Ash vacuum up the food.

"I guess," Ash, who had been raised on a diet of dried meat, raw berries, and raw vegetables, said between bites. "Why are you up so early? Didn't you have first watch?"

"Yeah, but I'm used to getting up early," Brock answered. "I've learned how to function without sleep."

"Oh," Ash replied, trying not to think about horrible that sounded, and then turned back to his breakfast.

Ash had nearly finished with his breakfast when Misty joined them. She shuffled forward like one of the dead who walked, large dark bags under her eyes, which in turn, were barely open.

"Food. Give me." She managed to grunt out.

"Here you are!" Brock said in a cheery voice. Misty did her best to glare at him.

"Hate you. So much." She grunted, but still took the food.

"Would you me to make some coffee?" Brock asked.

"No. Too young. All of us. Growth stunted." Misty grunted out between bites. "Just need actual sleep."

"You're obviously not used to having to do things in the early morning," Brock commented happily. "But don't worry. Eventually you'll get used to it."

"I think she needs Pikachu to- uh, what's it called- jump start her!" Ash said. "She needs a jump start from Pikachu to get going this morning!"

"I will drown you both," Misty growled. "Aaron, let's see if you find it funny when you have to stand watch and still get up in the morning."

Any food for me? Pikachu yawned, waddling over to join them. Ash gave him a few of the potatoes from his plate before getting up to locate his backpack and get some chow for the electric type.

"We'll have to feed our pokemon before we set out," Brock said. "We should get everyone ready to move in an hour and then we'll move out."

Ash and Misty nodded. They finished their breakfast with little conversation and then released their pokemon to feed them. Then they began the process of waking up Melanie and the pokemon under her care.

"Mmhmmm," Melanie made a noise while rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. "Is it morning already?"

"I-er, um, made some breakfast if you'd like," Brock told her, cheeks red. Ash was really curious as to why that kept happening when Brock talked to Melanie.

(Misty, meanwhile, just rolled her eyes.)

"Thank you," Melanie said, smiling up at the former gym leader, who grew even redder.

Up and at em! Bulbasaur shouted at the group of snoring squirtles, snapping his vines for emphasis. There was a sudden burst of movement and the thudding of shell hitting shell as the water-types scrambled to get up.

That's my job! Squirtle protested while his squad formed up behind him.

Then you should have already done it! Bulbasaur told him. We're getting ready to move out. While things would be so much more peaceful if we left ya'll here, I'm afraid everyone would get mad at me if I tried that.

Ah, go stuff your bulb, you overgrown weed, Squirtle shot back with a yawn. Alright, you heard the pokemon. Everyone eat and then we're off!

The squirtle squad hustled over to Melanie's sacks of dried food that had been salvaged from the village and then dug in. The other pokemon from the village joined them.

"Do we have enough food?" Ash asked Melanie. "For the journey I mean."

"The herbivores will need to find some food along the way," Melanie answered. "But we should have enough for everyone else."

It took everyone an hour and a half to actually get ready. Brock sent out his zubat to scout around the area and Ash sent Pidgeotto out to get a bird's eye view of their surroundings. Neither one was able to find any sign of Team Rocket in the nearby area.

"Is it possible that they've given up?" Melanie asked.

"Maybe," Brock answered. "But I doubt it. If they're willing to chase that man all the way out here and attempt to kill everyone's he's met, then they're probably not willing to withdraw that easily."

"Speaking of our guest," Melanie said, "I think he might be coherent this morning. We should try to talk to him before we set out."

"We probably should," Brock sighed, looking at his watch. "Aaron, Misty! Get over here."

Aoba woke to an unfamiliar ceiling, a pounding headache, and a body in pain. While this in and of itself wasn't an uncommon occurrence for the scientist (end of semester parties back in school had been wild) what was strange was that the ceiling in question was a rock ceiling. He was in some sort of cave.

What was he doing in a cave? Why did he hurt? And where was Ted-

Memories surfaced, hitting Aoba like a speeding truck. Ted was buried in the cold earth. People were trying to kill him. And he was in a cave because…



So, actually, he didn't know why he was currently in a cave. Aoba tried to sit up, but his side burned when he attempted to do so. He gave up on that and decided to just lie back and ache for a while.

He drifted in and out of sleep a few times. Noises filtered in from somewhere else in the cave, but Aoba didn't feel like risking more pain to try and see what was happening.

"Is he awake?" Aoba heard a young man's voice ask during one of his wakeful periods, where he hadn't bothered opening his eyes.

"Check and-"Aoba coughed as he tried to talk. "-and find out, why don't you."

A gentle hand rested on his forehead. It was surprisingly cool to the touch.

"It looks like your fever's gone down," a woman's voice said gently. "Would you like some water? Or a wet rag?"

"Water- "Aoba croaked. He hadn't realized just how dry his throat felt until he started talking. "-water would be nice."

"I'll got get some," the woman's voice said and then the hand vanished. About a minute later she spoke up again. "Here. Drink it slowly."

"Thank you," Aoba managed to say. He opened his eyes and reached towards where her voice had been.

Before him was a pale woman with blue hair, a darkly tanned young man with brown hair, another pale girl with orange-red hair, and a boy with black hair. Various pokemon stood with them, though Aoba didn't recognize the different species off the top of his head. The blue haired woman had a cup of water for him.

Never before had lukewarm water tasted so good nor had it ever felt so good.

"Where am I?" Aoba asked once he had managed to get some of the water down.

"You're in the wilds between Saffron and Vermillion," the young man said. "What's your name?"

"It's- "Aoba almost didn't tell them his name in case they were with the people trying to kill him, but he realized that the people trying to kill him probably already knew both his name and appearance. "It's Aoba," he told them. "Who are you?"

"I'm Brock," the brown-haired young man said.

"My name is Melanie," the blue haired woman said with a gentle bow.

"I'm Misty," the red head said.

"Aaron," the black-haired boy said.

"How are you feeling?" Melanie asked.

"Awful," Aoba replied and then took another sip of water. "I have pounding headache. I have severe throbbing pain in my side. I feel lethargic."

"Any sensitivity to light or other stimuli?" Melanie asked, looking critically at his face and side.

"I don't think so," Aoba managed to grunt out. "I'm guessing that my wounds are infected?"

"It would appear so," Melanie agreed with a nod. "Do you have any medical training yourself?"

"Not really." Aoba answered. "I was a biochemist."

"Why is Team Rocket trying to kill you?" Misty asked.

"Team Rocket? They're the ones trying to kill me?" Aoba managed to say before he started coughing. As far as he knew he had never done anything to offend the criminal organization. "I don't know," he told Misty honestly.

Team Rocket had not been involved with his transgressions on Cinnabar Island. Aoba didn't understand how the two could be connected.

And then his head throbbed more urgently and Aoba suddenly found it hard to keep his eyes open.

"I'm sorry," he managed to croak out. "I need to sleep."

"Please do," Melanie told him. "But I have to warn you that we're going to have to move you soon. Do you think you can walk, or will you need help?"

"I'll need help," Aoba replied, eyes closed, and sinking back into darkness. His last thought before sleep reclaimed him was that he didn't need help.

He needed Ted.

"Do you think he was telling the truth?" Misty asked the others while they finished getting ready to move out.

"I don't know," Brock answered. "But we'll have to take his word for now. Aaron, do you need anything before we split up?"

"No," Ash said, shaking his head. He remembered what Brock had told him about taking care of Aoba and Ash remembered basic tactics that he had gone over with Bulbasaur and the Squirtle Squad.

"Okay," Brock said, placing one hand on Ash's shoulder. "Good luck and don't get killed."

"Aaron, if you get yourself killed, I will do horrible things to your soul," Misty told him.

"Well, the same goes for you!" Ash shot back. "Don't do anything stupid like telling Brock to leave you alone to fight Zapados McBossyPants!"

"If I ever have to fight Zapados it will be because you thought you needed to attack it with your bare hands shrimp!" Misty rebutted.

"Break it up you two," Brock sighed. "Alright, let's get going. Go Onix!"

Everyone, people and pokemon alike, pressed themselves up against the walls as the large rock-type appeared. Onix had to wind his way through several chambers in order to keep his body in the cave, and even then, it was a tight squeeze.

"Dig a tunnel, sloping down at thirty-degrees," Brock said. "Go one hundred meters and then stop."

You got it Brock, Onix rumbled and then started digging into the cave floor. Rock and dirt were either consumed or crushed as the stone serpent sped through the ground faster than most creatures could run. In his wake there was a gently sloping tunnel.

"Alright, move everyone into the tunnel," Brock said. All the pokemon from the village, Ash, Melanie, and Aoba huddled on Tauros, filed into the tunnel behind Onix. Brock and Misty followed.

Brock then directed Onix to dig another tunnel, one that led towards the Yi-Lin Memorial Pokemon Center that was the destination of Aaron and Melanie. The tunnel didn't break the surface however.

"Right, and now we wait five minutes after you leave to break through?" Ash said.

"Right," Brock nodded. "We'll see you safe and sound at the pokemon center."

"Or else," Misty said with a glare that didn't seem entirely serious. And then the gym leader and the gym trainer departed on the back of Onix.

Alright! Let's blow this popsicle stand! Squirtle shouted after five minutes.

Is that a human phrase? Ash whispered to Pikachu.

You really haven't heard it before? Pikachu shook his head. You poor benighted soul you.


Water gun! The squirtle squad blasted forth several jets of pressurized water, forming one large blast, that blew open the end of the tunnel. Everyone filed out and back into the sunlit forest.

"Boss!" Aki turned her head to look at the subordinate who had shouted. "My sandshrew is trying to tell me something's coming underground, and I don't think it's Dave's team!"

"Everyone look alive!" Aki shouted, standing up. She and thirteen of her subordinates were spread out in the forest about a mile away from the cave. She had dispatched Dave and four others to scout around the cave where their target had been holed up in last. "Pokemon out and get ready to fight! If you feel tremors beneath you then move!"

She had barely finished giving her orders when the earth tore open and the onix charged forward. In the light of day, when she knew what it was, and that it was coming, it didn't look like a monster anymore.

It looked like an enemy.

She saw its trainer riding on its back. It was a darkly tanned young man. He fit the description of Brock, the gym leader from Pewter City, whose possession of an onix was well known. But what, Aki wondered, would the gym leader from Pewter City be doing out here?

"Scyther, take out that trainer!" Aki shouted, jumping to the side and releasing her pokemon. "Raticate, get ready for anything!"

The onix barreled past her, smashing trees as it went. White lights blazed all over the forest as the forces under Aki's command also released their pokemon. Special attacks lanced out, fire, electricity, beams of psychic energy, and jets of water. Some hit and splashed over the onix's thick hide, failing to penetrate the creature's defenses. Others missed as the onix sped past at a speed of over fifty miles per hour.

People and pokemon scattered before the onix as it tore through the group. It reared up and then dove back into the earth.

"It's going to come around again!" Aki shouted. "Shout a warning if you think it's going to come up near you!"

Instinct prodded her to look at the hole that the onix had emerged from. She caught a flash of color and threw herself to the side. A pressurized jet of water blasted through a tree behind where she had been standing.

"There's a second trainer or pokemon in the first hole!" Aki shouted. "Everyone keep an eye out!" Aki looked again, but the flash of color was gone. The trainer or pokemon had probably withdrawn back into the hole dug by the onix.

Aki grit her teeth. It was going to be a long fight.

Ash ducked under a tree branch and emerged into a hilltop clearing while the rest of the group took a break. He shielded his eyes from the afternoon sun and got out his map to confirm his location. While he was doing so the Squirtle Squad followed him into the clearing.

How do we get him to speak properly? One of the squirtles asked.

He can't do that dummy, Bulbasaur was just pulling our legs, another replied.

Maybe he's like a machine, yet another said, and we have to hit him to make him work right.

But where should we hit him?

You know, Ash sighed, I am protected by a trigger happy pikachu. You sure you want to be talking about this here?

Ha! The squirtle with angular sunglasses laughed. I wonder if that's what Bulbasaur wanted?

Well, if you keep this up, he might just get it, Pikachu warned, cheeks sparking.

So, this is why you were so loyal to your trainer, Squirtle, the leader wearing angular sunglasses, said. He can speak properly so he's more like a pokemon.

He's too stupid to be a pokemon, Pikachu said, waving away Squirtle's comment. I stick with him because someone has to watch over him.

He thinks I'm adorable, Ash mock-whispered to the Squirtles, and I accidently taught him how to summon lightning.

Stupid things are often cute, Pikachu agreed.

Aren't you the one who's always calling himself cute? Ash asked with a grin.

I said often, not always, Pikachu huffed. This is yet more proof of your intelligence deficiency. You need someone like me to-

Try and electrocute anything regardless of type immunities? Ash said, still grinning. You aren't any smarter than me.

I was never stupid enough to tell my comrades to go get help while I decided to go back and try and fight a tyranitar by myself! Pikachu crossed his forepaws and glared at Ash. Yes, I'm still mad at you for that.

Awwww, you can't even deny that you care, Ash said, wrapping Pikachu in a hug.

What! Why! You- eeerrrgg. Fine. You win this round Ash, Pikachu muttered from within Ash's arms.

Anyway, Ash said, turning to the Squirtle Squad, Pikachu still in his arms, we should probably talk about tactics some more.

Didn't we already do that? Squirtle asked.

That was when Brock was here, Ash replied. Now that I don't have to pretend not to be able to speak properly, we can go into more detail.

Why couldn't you speak properly in front of Brock? Squirtle inquired. Do you forget how to do so when around people?

No, I just don't want them to know, Ash answered. It would lead to too many awkward questions. So, tactics.

Hmmmmm….. Squirtle curled his forepaw into something like a fist and rested his chin on it. What we went over with Brock should suffice.

But we can do more now, Ash replied. Like we can try combining your Water Guns with Pikachu's attacks. Or maybe we can try to figure out how to quickly flood the ground if they try using Dig to attack us!

That could work! Squirtle said. Maybe if we had something to blast some holes in the ground first, to make it easy to saturate-

We'd need to get the timings down- Ash said.

We'd need to focus on volume over pressure-

Uhh…. No offense, one of the squirtles wearing round sunglasses spoke up. But this sounds a lot like being trained.

Yeah, another agreed.

Oh, right, Squirtle sighed.

What's wrong with-Ash began, before remembering the squad's comments from when they had first encountered each other. Uh, is this about your previous trainers?

Fuckin' humans, one squirtle growled.

She threw me away like trash, another spoke up.

My buddy here lost to a luxray and her trainer called her weak! Another shouted, patting the back of one of their comrades. It was fully evolved and had type advantage! Who the hell would've thought she could win!?

More squirtles shouted their grievances at Ash. Squirtle grimaced and crossed his arms.

Okay, you've made your point, he told his squad and then turned back to Ash. Look, we know not all humans are bad. And personally, I'll admit that there are a few good trainers. But none of them will ever trust a trainer again. And they aren't too keen on doing anything that seems like training either.

I- I get it, Ash muttered. He had heard stories, from his classmates and caretakers about people who threw away their pokemon. Not released them, but abandoned them, whether they were originally wild or not.

Ash personally couldn't imagine such a thing. He couldn't imagine how a person could do such a thing and not succumb to guilt.

But there were many things Ash Ketchum didn't understand about humans. And there were many things that Ash Ketchum didn't understand about pokemon either. Life was full of wonder and mystery, but some mysteries were cruel, some were petty, and some were just mean, like an unpleasant grime that left one feeling dirty long after the substance itself was washed off. It almost didn't matter what the answer was if the question alone could taint.

Sorry, Ash said, rubbing the back of his head with the arm that wasn't holding Pikachu. I didn't mean it like that.

It's alright, one of the Squirtle Squad said, we'll give you pass because you're weird.

Thanks, I guess, Ash replied. He looked back at the map, and then at some landmarks, and confirmed their position. I guess we should rejoin the others.

Dave stood at the opening of the tunnel that lead away from the cave where his targets had been hiding; a newly dug tunnel that had allowed them to slip away. He closed his eyes and clenched his fists.

They hadn't considered this and Dave knew that they should have. Now he would have to determine if they were just relocating the targets to somewhere nearby or were evacuating them to somewhere that Team Rocket couldn't reach.

Dave took a deep breath. He couldn't currently account for the onix, so it was probably attacking the rest of the team. There was a chance that they could handle the onix and its trainer. There was no chance that they could complete the mission while they were fending off the onix.

Dave knew what he needed to do. He got out a notepad, scribbled a message, and then released the messenger pidgey.

"Take this to Aki," he told his pokemon, "and then come find me with her response."

Sure thing Dave! The pidgey chirped and then took off with the message. Dave nodded and turned to the four people under his command.

"We're going to have to split off the main group," Dave told his team, his tracking team. "The combat operatives are probably busy with that onix now and if we go back for them our targets might slip away."

"Shouldn't we help them?" One of his people asked. Dave shook his head.

"We might be able to make a difference against that onix, but we would have to let our targets escape," Dave told his subordinates. "The boss told us this mission was of the utmost importance. He's not the sort to exaggerate."

"We all had our reasons for joining Team Rocket." Dave continued, making sure to look each of his subordinates in the eye. "Some of us joined because we believed in the cause. Some of us joined because we thought it would give us a better life. And some of us were born into it, we're here because Team Rocket is our family."

"And we can't let that family down," Dave continued, letting his voice grow louder. "Aki and her team will do their best to deal with the onix. That gives us a chance to do our best and kill our targets. Our family needs us. Let's go."

His subordinates nodded. And with that they were off.

Aki wiped the sweat from her brow as the late afternoon sun shone down on her. Her hands trembled, her legs trembled, her whole body was shaking. She struggled not to pant as she leaned against the tree.

Her subordinates were in little better shape as they rested in the woods around her. A few of them were tending to their wounds, or the wounds of their comrades or pokemon. Only a few, because people and pokemon didn't tend to be wounded when a large onix attacked.

They tended to die instead.

It had been grueling trying to fight that onix. Aki had tried to rally her people, but the onix's trainer made sure to keep them all separated. In the end Aki had simply focused on keeping the trainer's attention while her people made a run for it.

Aki had done her best to bypass the onix and kill the trainer, but the onix never stayed above ground long enough for her to have a shot. And the other trainer lurking in the onix tunnels and made sure to keep Aki on her toes with water and ice attacks.

Aki closed her eyes and took several deep breathes. She hadn't heard from Dave all day. She needed to ascertain their situation before she could decide on her next course of action.

She caught her breath for a few more minutes and then stood up, ready to put together a scouting party to find Dave and his group. But before she could do so a pidgey fluttered down next to her. It had a note attached to its leg.

Aki recognized the flying-type and grabbed the message. She read it, then closed her eyes and sank back against the tree again.

Dave was safe. And he was on the trail of the targets. Aki took another deep breath. Maybe the mission could succeed after all.

"He made the right call," she said to the flying type, before getting up to find a pen to compose a return message.

AN: I'd like to thank BlackCatSpecialist for beta reading.

Don't forget to review!

EDIT: Doc manager ate my line breaks somehow. Re-added.