To the reader,

You have found the sequel to the Guilty and the Innocent. Enjoy!

Kasan Soulblade

Twin paths One end

chapter one

Prelude: Dynamics of Tension

Ash yawned, kicked his feet against the chair and watched as Pikachu was laced with small wires with weird mini plate-like plastic patches put over his head and face. Pikachu yawned, did a little stretch and lay on his back while Professor Oak attached the last pad and then walked to a small waist high machine and turned it on. On another table less then five feet away was a Persian who was blissfully napping, a mess of wires hooked the feline to a different machine yet it was of the same type. Sitting besides his Persian, on a lab stool, was Leonado Giovanni, ex-head of Team Rocket, criminal mastermind, murderer, and thief. He lazily petted his sleeping Persian, dressed as always in an orange suit, wearing a crimson tie that wrapped around his thick neck and lead the eye to those blank expressionless features. A fearow sharp nose and twin black eyes gazed over everything in scorn, showed nothing, offered nothing to even the most trusted. The petting was mechanical, not a tender warm gesture, just a repetitive motion that had nothing behind it. As if sensing the scrutiny Giovanni turned from his Persian and stared at Ash.

Ash cringed back from those eyes, went back to watching Pikachu sleep.

Professor Oak smiled, then his the gesture by screening his face behind a clip board.

"Well both come back as being healthy, the brain activity is not sporadic nor is it sub par…"

"Meaning?" Ash scratched at the back of his head, as much as his first edition Poke-League hat would allow.

"Both Persian and Pikachu are in ideal health; I think it best to let them sleep in the lab as they had a long night last night."

"Mmm…" Ash nodded, stood and stretched and Oak dropped his screen to look at him piercingly.

"Let me guess. Pikachu kept you up?"

"He got lonely so I stayed up wi' him." Ash mumbled, rubbing his eyes.

"Ah, well your Mother called and she asked me to see you take a nap, which is exactly what I'm going to do. You can make yourself at home on the couch."

"Wasn't Giovanni sleepin' there?"

"I don't harbor some dangerous disease boy; you'll hardly catch anything from me."

Ash grumbled something not so complimentary under his breath and Giovanni gave him a long hard look. Things were crazy, dead criminals living with Professors, Leonardo being a hero and a villain, it was just nuts. At least Pikachu was taking it alright, sparing a look at the electric type who was blissfully sleeping on the table less then ten feet from a Pokemon who on command would probably rip him in half.

It was confusing and crazy, Ash rubbed his eyes and looked at Professor Oak.

"I'll do that."

X

"Checkmate." Samuel grinned, knocking over Leo's king with an extended digit.

"Hurmph." Leo glared at the board then acknowledged defeat with a sigh. "Must you do that? It's a rather juvenile display."

"If you act young then you stay younger longer." Samuel countered. "Plus consider my job, I'm surrounded by children, some of their habits have to rub off."

Leo righted his King, set up the board for yet another round. About mid game there was a knock on the door frame, Leo didn't bother to look up but Samuel turned.

"Oh hello Ash, awake at last?"

"Yep, Pikachu's up too so we'll be heading out now."

"Pika pi!" The small yellow mouse chirped from Ash's shoulder.

"Alright, I'll tell you how the experiment went tomorrow alright, I need some time to go over my notes…"

"You mean you need to kick Giovanni's butt."

"Go run along home little boy." Leo hissed, his black eyes flashing with anger.

"Pika.." Pikachu sighed.

"Ash, please be civil to Leonardo, he is my guest…"

"Pikapi!" Pikachu poked Ash on the head.

"Why's everyone taking this OK, you can't tell me that this doesn't weird you out just a little?"

Oak chuckled. "It's strange, but that's nothing new. As a researcher I find that situations are like this are much like…"

"Not Poke-poetry!" Giovanni and Ash roared.

"…a norm." Samuel gave them both a long hard look. "If there is anything strange, it's your shared hatred of poetry."

Ash poked his small friend and the yellow mouse let go of his ears and sighed in relief.

"If three completely different people do not like your work perhaps that means something?" Leonardo said delicately.

"That you all are uncivilized literature haters." Oak sniffed, sounding offended. "It could mean that."

"Chu!" Smacking his face with a paw Pikachu sighed, showing all their feelings that Oak would never learn.

"We'll be going, see you Professor!"

"Goodbye Ash." Professor Oak smiled at him.

"Really Samuel, perhaps you could… find another past time."

Ash lingered by the door to listen to how this would turn out.

"So says the man with none."

"I have a past time!"

"Training, or counting money?"

"Sam…" Giovanni growled that name ominously. "That goes a bit too far for my tolerance, even though you stand in my good graces."

There was a long pause. "It was… still your demand that I quit my poetry is almost as offensive."

There was the sound of someone getting up. "I imagine you were busy before I came, Samuel, and I would be loath to keep you from your studies."

"Leo… you don't have to…"

"I'll retrieve Persian and see myself out. Have a good evening my friend."

"Still as touchy as ever…" Professor Oak sighed to himself. "Tomorrow Leo?"

"If I am not busy… perhaps."

Ash decided now was a good time to get going, before Giovanni spotted him and decided to do Team Rocket-ish things to him, because if Professor Oak was in Giovanni's good graces Ash knew that he was in the worst possible standing with the ex-member of Team Rocket. After all you didn't win any points for shocking Rocket grunts with Thunder and soiling so many plans that the organizations started to go into debt. Oh Ash knew just how touchy Giovanni was and he knew that if Professor Oak wasn't there to keep a very tight leash on the man that everyone in Pallet would be in serious trouble.