Out of Your LEAGUE

Out of Your LEAGUE
Part 1 :: Eidolon
By Seabeast

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokémon or any of its characters. But I do own and claim this story.

WARNING: This fan fic may be violent and may not be suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: You're reading a revised edition to this, just to let you know. Why did I revise it, you ask? Well first of all, the first one was filled with mistakes. And second of all, well, I'm bored. So enjoy! ^~^

:: I ::

Kassin marched through the small village, ignoring the staring eyes of the few incompetent villagers. He was feeling tense, and he was trying to avoid thinking of the reason why. He knew he should feel relaxed and powerful after finally releasing the Shadow Pokémon from their confinement. It had taken most of his lifetime to find and interpret the original Scrolls of the Ancient Ones, and the knowledge they had given him made him the most powerful man on earth. The LEAGUE officials knew this, even if they wouldn't admit it. They were scared of him—terrified, even.

He smiled at this thought, the result causing the villagers to shrink away from him in fear. They had probably heard of him, but hardly anyone could recognize who he was unless they had known him from before. Even when he was wearing his navy blue cloak, the cloak of a TeeKay Master, they didn't know who he was. No matter. Everyone here would be screaming his name as they begged for mercy before the day ended.

Their frightened eyes encouraged him to stride faster as he neared the village center. They should be afraid. His powers were unmatched by any other man on earth.

Except him.

The Prophecies told of a man with more power than any other. Kassin had grown up thinking it was he. After all, he had only been thirteen years old when he had scored in the Top Quarter in the Indigo League years ago.

That was when he had met him.

The Scrolls had told of a single chosen man drawing his power from the current of the world. He was to be fueled by both a Dog and a Bird, and he would be from the great Forest of All, and possess the ability to foreshadow the inevitable with his TeeKay. He, the great Kassin, leader of the Eidolon, murderer of Giovanni himself, feared in all three lands and the oceans between, did not draw his power from any of the Titan Pokémon. Instead, he had TeeKayed with a Mantine. He had known it was special when he found it unattached to any Remoraid.

He had been young then, only fourteen or so. He had just entered the Johto League for the second time and was scrounging around Route 41 when he found a hurt Mantine beside a river. It had allowed him to take it to the nearest Pokémon Center in a mere Lureball. Afterward, it explained that it had been attacked by a Trainer and his Pikachu. After being seriously injured by a powerful Thundershock Attack, it had managed to get itself as close as it could to water before collapsing.

Afterwards, it decided to stay with him rather than return to the wild, and both were surprised when they had Joined after only a few weeks together. Normally a Trainer would stay with his or her Pokémon for years before they would become mentally combined, and even then no one dared attempt it before the age of eighteen.

But their connection turned out to be a good thing. Icewing, the name he had given his Mantine after much consideration, turned out to be very wise and helped Kassin decipher his Scrolls. Together they devised a plan to get rid of the one human that could spoil his future, the named "Dark Spark". Their part of the plan succeeded flawlessly, but the authorities had failed to complete their end.

Kassin tried to ignore the fact that the Dark Spark was still out there, somewhere. The Scrolls had informed him that the man would conquer the Eidolon if not dead when their power was piqued. His force, the Eidolon, was at its peak, but what if they were talking of the newly released Shadow Pokémon? After all, eidolon did mean shadow in another language.

He had taken a chance in releasing them without first killing his rival, but that chance was of no matter now. His Shadow Minions had informed him that the man was currently residing in Viridian Forest, and upon Kassin's command were doing their best to prevent him from eating anything. He and Icewing planned to kill him tonight when he was still weak from starvation.

Kassin had wanted to go straight to the forest and kill him off without further delay, but Icewing had informed him that his other Pokémon hadn't had a good meal in a few days. Pallet Settlement 5 was on the way, so he decided to stop, allowing them to eat and satisfy their hunger for blood.

His brisk walking took him to a large brick building of two about stories. He instantly recognized it as the town center, as it was easily the largest building in town aside from the church. Most technology had been lost as the Eidolon rose in power, and each town had split into smaller settlements when their buildings had been destroyed. Now the arrangement offered them a little more protection from the Shadow Pokémon lurking just outside the threshold.

He stopped at the heavy wooden doors, each burned and scarred from the battles that had taken place there. A large window a little above and to his right was open, and he could hear many voices from inside, all of which were silenced after someone banged a dabble on a podium. Kassin smiled at his luck. Almost everyone attended a town meeting nowadays, without the radio or a news channel to inform them of the outside world. This would be all too easy.

Don't get too cocky, Icewing reminded him from inside her specially made TeeKayball hanging loosely at his waist. There is still a lot that can go wrong.

Kassin acknowledged her advice and swung the heavy oak doors open.

The din of the large room quieted as he stepped inside, closing the door behind him. Ignoring the stare of the villagers, he surveyed the room carefully.

He thought it looked more like a church than a town center. Long wooden benches filled the large room with a wide aisle in the center and a narrow one on each of the sides. The benches ended about three-fourths of the way through the room at the base of a step that stretched to the walls. On the top of two more steps was a tall wooden podium with an elderly man—probably the village leader—standing behind it. Tall, thin windows lined the beige walls with their peeling paint and ended at the roof, which was about thirty feet above their heads. A door behind the podium must have lead to a balcony visible above, though no one was up there.

The elderly man squinted over the top of the square glasses balanced on the tip of his nose to see Kassin as he looked around. "Well?" he asked in a wheezy voice, obviously not used to strangers—especially not Masters—in his town meetings. "Can we help you?"

Kassin flicked his hand, which was pulled up under his cloak sleeve. Feeling the Pokéball roll smoothly down his arm, he dropped it into the shadows of the entrance, using Hidden Power to keep it from making a noise as it hit the thinly carpeted floor. It rolled silently across the rug, coming to rest in an out-of-sight corner.

Pretending he hadn't done anything out of the ordinary, Kassin began to walk slowly down the aisle. All eyes were on him as he stepped up to the podium, flashing his cool grey eyes at the windows as he made mental calculations.

The old man seemed reluctant to let him take his place behind the stand, but stepped aside anyway.

"Greetings pallet Settlement 5," he said slowly, glancing around the crowded room. He didn't see anyone he knew, which disappointed him. He had really been looking forward to making a few pleasure kills. Oh well, his best murder would be made tonight.

"Who are you?" the old man asked from behind him. Kassin turned to glare at him and the man immediately closed his mouth and took a step back. Now that he was this close, Kassin could see the elderly old man was going bald and that age spots covered most of his neck and head. Disgusting. Kassin was glad he would never age like that. He was very close to uncovering the secret of immortality.

Turning back to the crowd, he said, "I'm sure all of you have heard of me, you just don't know it yet." He ran his fingers through his navy blue hair, trying not to let the excitement of killing show in his voice and eyes. Placing his hands on the front of the podium, he continued.

"I'm guessing that by the number of heads in this room, most of Settlement 5 is present, am I correct?" No one moved. "I thought so. Perfect." He grinned.

Age Spots chose this time to interrupt. "Excuse me, sir," he said mildly, the fear of this new stranger showing in his voice. "Why are you here? Do you have an announcement to make from the LEAGUE? Have they found a way to stop those terrible Eidolon? And what about the Shadow Pokémon they have released? Do you have any idea what they are doing? They're everywhere, destroying our limited crops and wreaking havoc upon our town. I believe that we, as citizens of Kanto, have the right to know what's going on!"

The crowd cheered, this form of support making the old man stand up a bit taller. He managed a weak smile. "Thank you." Then he turned back to Kassin, who was staring at him with an amused smile on his face.

"Is that all, old man?" he asked coldly. Age Spots nodded his head meekly and stepped away once again. Coward, Icewing said from inside her TeeKayball. Kassin silently agreed. He then turned back to the crowd.

"People, people," he pleaded, a smile forming on his lips. "Of course I know what the great Shadow Pokémon are doing. I released them myself." He couldn't help but smile at the reaction of the crowd to his simple statement. Women covered their mouths as their husbands held them and glared. Children cowered in fear and babies, although none had the slightest clue as to what was going on, cried loudly. By now most knew who he was, but some didn't believe him. After all, Kassin thought, why should they? No one really expects a world famous murderer to waltz into their town meeting and announce himself.

"And why should we believe you?" Age Spots demanded. Although his face was set, Kassin could see that he was trembling. "You are nothing but a stranger to us. You may even be someone from the LEAGUE trying to pull a prank on us."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Kassin countered. "The LEAGUE are nothing but dirty scum that don't deserve their own Pokémon." Crossing his arms over his chest, he turned once more to the crowd. Everyone was staring at him intently, waiting to know if this was a hoax.

"I apologize," he said. At his words, the crowd sighed in relief, but their sighs quickly turned back into panic as he spoke his next words. "Allow me to introduce myself; I am most widely known as the leader of the feared Eidolon, murderer of the great Rocket leader Giovanni, destroyer of the original Pallet and many other civilizations, Avenger of the Wrong and the Demon of Souls. But I like to think of myself as just a simple murderer named Kassin. Do you like it? I picked it out myself."

As he finished there was a mad rush for the single door. Everyone had heard of him, and everyone wanted to get as far away from him as possible. However, most people backed away when they saw the familiar flash of red light that signaled the opening of a Pokéball.

Kassin smiled as an enormous blood-red Charizard materialized. Sitting on his hind feet, he was twice the size of anyone in the room, and he knew it. Spreading his giant wings and crushing a few people against the wall in the process, he beat them rapidly and straightened his long neck, roaring in defiance. Even Kassin, who was used to Zippo's roars, had to keep himself from covering his ears at the earth-shattering sound. A few people were blown backward by his wings, landing on one another and adding to the mass confusion.

Age Spots fled to the door behind him; the one that led to the balcony. Curious as to what he was up to, Kassin followed, knowing that Zippo would take care of anyone trying to escape. He wouldn't kill unless Kassin gave his word, but he would keep the people from getting out.

He strode quickly to the door and up the narrow stairwell, grinning despite himself. He loved this part of his job. Shoving open the single door at the top, he found the old man crouched low against the solid banister, out of sight of everyone below. Kassin folded his arms across his chest and stared coolly at him until his gaze cause the man to look up.

"W-what do you w-want?" he asked softly, his voice shaking. "I have five children, a-and twenty-two grandchildren! Have they done something to anger you so that you must punish them by taking my life?"

Kassin raised his eyebrows at this pathetic attempt to live. New, yes, but still pathetic. "Punish them?" he asked coldly. "Punish whom? Unless you are of some relation to the Ketchums, you have done nothing to anger me."

"Then what do you want?"

"Nothing. I just want to feed my Pokémon." He took a step closer as he reached inside his cloak for a special 'ball, the warmth of it in his hands telling him it was the right one. "Although I guess you should know that my Pokémon's favorite food is flesh. Human flesh, that is."

Before Age Spots could respond, he held the TeeKayball in front of him and watched as a navy blue light announced the arrival of his mind-partner, Icewing.

The old man's eyes widened at the sight of the enormous Mantine that took up almost the entire balcony. He noticed the resemblance in the markings between them and instantly paled. He now knew that Kassin was indeed telling the truth. No one but Kassin himself would be able to harness the power of this massive creature, and it had been rumor that he only fed it special food. No one really knew what.

Kassin ignored the man, who was now sweating profusely in fear, and walked over to the balcony. Zippo looked up and saw him, glee shining in his murderous brown eyes at the prospect of killing. Kassin nodded his okay and the Charizard instantly reared, lashing his tail at the people and catching one on fire.

Deciding that his other Pokémon should share in the feast as well, Kassin reached under his cloak and brought out three more ordinary Pokéballs, along with a black and orange one with a red band and button. Pressing the buttons on each one, he let them loose on the ground floor below him.

He watched in silence as a large Typhlosion with fire running all down his back appeared, closely followed by a small Gligar, a black Noctowl, and a Crobat the size of himself.

The Gligar was a deep ash grey, his leathery wings an ebony black. Instead of the ordinary rounded stinger of his species, this one's was pointed and gleamed the same silver color as his claws and horns.

The Crobat was a darker maroon color than her race, with red wings. She had small pincers at the top and base of her huge wings that shone red. The two fangs protruding from her mouth were large and dripping with saliva at she eyed her meal hungrily.

The Noctowl was entirely black, its eyes glowing an eerie orange. It was exactly double its normal size and all of its features were sharper and more deadly.

The flash of orange light as the Noctowl appeared caught the eyes of everyone in the room. People stopped climbing the windows, trying to escape, and eyed the Shadow Pokémon with fear. The room was suddenly filled with screams.

Quiver the Typhlosion walked on all fours to join Zippo at the door while the others flew to the windows to pick off the people attempting to open them. One by one they grasped them in their pincers, claws, and mouths, and brought them down to the ground to throw them haphazardly in a heap on the floor. Each was careful to tear off a limb or slash a hole in each of their victims, making sure that once they were down, they stayed down.

The Gligar and Crobat took one wall, leaving the other for the Shadow Noctowl. Kassin sensed a deep respect coming from the two towards the Shadow Pokémon. He smiled. Most Pokémon would run away in fear at just the smell of a Shadow out of instinct, but his merely let them alone. He had raised them well.

"Nuri, no!" the old man suddenly screamed, lurching forward over the balcony. Kassin gazed over in his line of vision and saw the Gligar flying low overhead with a small girl, his claws buried deep within her back. Gligar sailed harmlessly out of Age Spots's reach and flew up to a windowsill to eat his barely living prey.

Kassin watched emotionlessly as the old man fell to his knees, weeping. Blood from the girl had splattered on his back as the Gligar flew overhead, and it covered his hands in a trail that lead to her body, which was now lying in pieces on the floor—well, except for the torso, which the Gligar was happily munching on.

"Nuri," Age Spots murmured, his head in his hands. "She was my eldest granddaughter."

Kassin knelt beside the old man to look him in the face. His square glasses had slipped off and his aged eyes were red and bloodshot. "Tell me, old man," he said quietly. "Do you have any other family here in Settlement 5?"

He nodded. "Everyone. All thirty-two."

Kassin shook his head. "Oh no, it's only thirty-one now. Very soon it will be thirty. Then zero."

Age Spots looked up at him with a tearstained face. "What do you want from us?" he asked as his nose started running. Kassin had to keep from laughing at how pathetic he looked.

"Us?" Kassin asked casually. "My dear man, you're the only one alive."

Age Spots pulled himself up to look over the balcony and gasped. The floor was littered with bodies, most of which were in a pile next to Zippo and Quiver, who were eating them happily. The floor was covered in claw and scorch marks and was stained with blood. Gligar and Noctowl were perched on separate windowsills, eating, while Crobat sucked the blood and bodily fluids from her victims.

As Kassin and Age Spots watched, Gligar swooped down and tried to steal one of the bodies from the pile. Zippo stopped gnawing on his human leg long enough to snort a stream of fire at the Flyer. Gligar screamed in rage before flapping off to sit once more on his windowsill, his tail clicking against the glass pane in irritation.

"Zippo, you share those, all right?" Kassin said. Zippo looked up at him and snorted. Then, groaning, he grabbed an almost complete body of a man and tossed it in the Gligar's direction. The Gligar immediately swooped down to feed, screeching his thanks happily.

Kassin then turned back to the old man, who was staring silently around the room, a blank expression on his face and his eyes unfocused. "What did we do to deserve this?" he asked when he noticed Kassin watching him.

Kassin reached into his cloak and produced a box of cigarettes. He struck a match on his cloak and lit one, putting the box away as he tossed the match carelessly into a pool of clear liquid that had been spilling from a pipe near the wall. The gas lit instantly, fire racing across the balcony and spilling over the edge to catch on the floor. Kassin put up a Barrier to keep from getting burned, but the old man wasn't so lucky.

"What, no TeeKay?" he asked as he puffed on his cigarette. The man's face was pouring in sweat with the enormous fire only a few feet away. He didn't answer.

"What's your name?" Kassin asked suddenly. Age Spots turned to him, the glazed look back on his face.

"Why do you care? You're just going to kill me, anyway."

Kassin took a deep breath from the cigarette and blew the smoke out through his nose and into Age Spot's face.

"No reason," he said calmly. "Are you, by any chance, the village leader?"

The old man nodded timidly. "Was," he said.

"Ah, so your name is Lane. Excellent."

Now the old man look confused. "How did you—"

"I make it a point to find out the identity of my partner's victims before they are devoured. As you ought to know, leaders and all together important or smart people are Icewing's delicacy," he said, his hand sweeping in the direction of the Mantine that had been hovering quietly throughout the murder, a thick blue Barrier surrounding her entire body to ward off the heat. "She won't dilute her diet with anything less. Besides, you know what they say; you are what you eat."

Age Spots made an odd, high-pitched squeaking sound before Icewing launched herself forward to grasp him in her powerful jaws. His legs kicked about for a few minutes, but Icewing held him tight until he suffocated. Once the body was limp she proceeded to eat him. Throughout the ordeal not a drop of blood was shed. Kassin smiled. She had always been a tidy eater.

He turned around, deciding to let her eat in peace, and surveyed the burning room. The fire had spread everywhere and was now devouring everything in its path.

Zippo and Quiver were still eating, a large pile of human bones accumulating on the floor at their feet. A loud pounding noise was issuing from the door behind Zippo, who was pressing his tail firmly against it to keep it from opening. The fire mixed with his tail flame, making it burn brighter than ever. Quiver's back flame was mingling so well that Kassin couldn't tell where it ended.

The other Pokémon, however, weren't so lucky. Gligar and Crobat were perched on the highest windowsill in the room while Noctowl was flapping madly in a corner, its bright orange eyes flashing as it tried to stay out of the firelight.

Kassin mentally cursed himself for forgetting how much Shadow Pokémon hated light and recalled it into the orange and black Shadowball.

Turning around, his eyes met Icewing's, an exact replica of his own aside from the fact that they were slitted. Knowing what he had in mind, she sailed silently over the edge as he caught hold of her ribbony tail. Normally it was razor sharp, but she was able to soften it in times like these.

She carried him over to the door and he released her tail. Stepping over to Zippo, he patted his pebbled back. "Ready to take the town?" he asked.

Zippo huffed in apprehension and stood, his outstretched wings balancing him. Quiver padded over on all fours, eager to join them.

"Hold on," Kassin said. Walking quickly over to the door, he reached his hand into a box hanging on it and felt cool metal spheres of about one inch in diameter. Minimized Pokéballs. Too bad Pokémon weren't allowed in town meetings as a safety precaution. Looks like that was one safety measure that had just backfired. The Pokémon that had been connected to some humans in the meeting would be dead of course, but the rest would suffice for his new Eidolon recruits. He would separate them later.

Before he could ask, Quiver had slashed through the metal hinges on the box. Kassin held it under his arm as he stepped back from the door. Zippo's tail was still holding it shut, but the men outside were about to break the door down. Gesturing to the door with his free hand, he nodded toward Zippo and Quiver.

"Shall we?"

:: I ::

Brock Takeshi Slate hesitatingly reached for the dark brown communicator sitting on his desk, then drew his hand away. He glanced once around the small office he was using for the time being—they were using his larger one for tests—as he made sure no one was watching him. Why on earth had they ordered him to do this? Informing agents of their missions was not his department.

He reached once more for the communicator, his hand hovering over the small ovular device, and this time snatched it up. Dialing the all-too-familiar number quickly, he held it in front of his mouth and leaned back in his chair.

He waited a few seconds for an answer. It always took her a while to pick up, especially if she was busy with something.

Finally there was a small click, and then a feminine voice answered:

"This is Agent Misteara."

"Hey, Misty, it's Brock." He didn't want to tell her right away. He was very familiar with her temper.

"Oh, hey, Brock. What do you need?"

"Oh, nothing. Can't I just contact you once in a while?"

"Knowing you, no. Why, what happened? What are you trying not to tell me?"

He sighed. She always knew when something was up. "Look, Misty, something happened earlier today that I think you should know about." He paused.

"Okay, so what is it?" she asked innocently.

"Well, um, you see. . ."

"Brock, just say it and get it over with. I know you're no good at this these things."

Brock sighed. Exactly, he thought. So why are they forcing me to do this to my best friend?


"Okay, okay, I'll tell you." He took a deep breath before continuing, deciding to just tell her everything at once instead of stretching it out. "Pallet Settlement 5 has been destroyed. Everyone is dead. We've searched the ruins, I was even there myself with Tracey, and there were no survivors. We think it was the Eidolon, but we're not sure. The village leader is missing, so we believe it was Kassin himself, as that's kind of like his signature."

Silence. "Misty?" No answer. "Misty, are you okay?"

"No," she said bluntly.

"Look, if it makes you feel any better, Delia and Sam weren't there. Sam was over here with Wisdom helping us with research on the Shadows, and Delia was visiting someone in the Orange Islands."

Still no answer. "Misty?"


Brock sighed. "I'm really sorry about this. I know that Settlement 5 was like a second home to you after. . .well. . .you know. I'm really sorry."

"Do Delia and Sam know yet?" she asked quietly.

"No. Drake's going to each of them personally to tell them."

He was quiet for a few minutes. He knew how much this meant to her. After Ash had disappeared years ago she had stayed with Delia Ketchum when she couldn't take her sisters' chanting anymore. All of her friends had been in Settlement 5, except for those that were here in the LEAGUE.

"Why did you tell me?" she asked suddenly. "Why didn't Drake?"

"Would you rather Drake had told you?"

"No, I'm just wondering."

"Oh. Well, I don't know. Maybe it's because he knows we're best friends."


"Are you going to be okay?"

"Yes. No. I don't know."

"Where are you?"

"Pewter A. Why?"

"Well, I would tell you to go to my dad's house for a while, but I'm afraid you've got another assignment." He shuffled through the mound of papers on his desk until he found a silver and gold envelope with a silhouette of a Lugia in flight on the front. "Want me to read it to you?"

"Sure," she said emotionlessly.

Flipping open the jacket, he read:

Agent Misteara:
Your mission is to investigate the disturbances in and around Viridian City. Spies have informed us of movement deep in the forest and thefts, mainly of food, have been reported in both Viridian and Pewter. We have great reason to believe that the Eidolon are involved due to the abnormal amount of Shadow Pokémon residing there. You are to discover what they are planning and stop it by any means necessary. You are encouraged to use your most powerful Pokémon and may be given more than the usual six.
We wish you luck-
Drake Cytris
Board Director

There were a few pages of information explaining the Viridian conditions such as stats on population, weather and climate, exactly where the activity had been reported, eyewitness reports, and a map showing where the thefts had taken place.

"Misty, the thefts have all been on the border of the forest," he said after reading her the information. "It looks to me like whoever is committing those crimes doesn't want to enter the city. And if I didn't know any better. I'd say the reported activity is almost exactly where our old cave was."


"Yeah, you remember. That one we stayed in whenever we passed through Viridian Forest while we were still traveling."

"Oh. Right."

Brock leaned forward in his seat to look a little more closely at the papers. "Misty, be careful. I know Drake and the Board think it's the Eidolon, but I don't know. It might just be a common thief with a connection to a Shadow Pokémon, if that's even possible."

"Are you saying that the Board is sending me out to break up a gang or something right after they give me the word that my home has been destroyed?"

Brock sighed. "Yeah, I guess so. I voted against letting you go, but a field agent doesn't have much say in important decisions."

He could hear Misty's sigh from the other end of the line. "Okay. I'll go."

"Aren't you going to send for some more Pokémon first? Your Starmie is getting bored over here."

"Nah, I'll just take Feraligatr."

"Are you sure that's wise? What if this is an experienced murderer out there?"

"Then I'll bring him in. Look, Brock, I'll be fine. I've been in worse missions than this."

"Yeah, I guess so. Good luck, Misty. And be careful."

"All right. Later, Brock."

Before he could say anything else there was the familiar beep as she disconnected. Brock placed the communicator on his desk once more as he leaned back in his chair, placing his hands behind his head and his thick black leather work boots on his desk. There was still a thin coating of blood around the bottom from when he had checked out Settlement 5 earlier. He would never forget that scene. Bodies everywhere, spread across the small town. A fire had leveled all of the buildings and bones suggested that something had eaten half of the population.

Misty hadn't taken it well. After ten years of friendship, he knew that the only time she was actually feeling emotion was when you couldn't detect it. Ever since Ash had disappeared she had sort of closed up. He knew she felt that she was responsible for what he did, even though she could have done absolutely nothing to prevent it.

He suspected that her last mission had been a decoy to draw away one of the LEAGUE's top agents. He didn't tell her his opinion for fear of her reaction to the fact that she had been on a wild goose chase while Kassin had killed some of her closest friends. After her parents had been killed in a shipwreck when she was just a little kid, Delia had become like a second mother to her. Her sisters were out of the question; even Brock had lost interest in them after observing the way they treated her—like she was an inferior just because she wasn't pretty. Brock inwardly disagreed. His interest in her remained that of an older brother—his wife would kill him if he tried anything anyway—but he had to admit that over the years she had become rather beautiful. Besides, he knew her heart was taken.

Brock sighed for what felt like the millionth time that day. He wished Ash were still here.

:: I ::

A pair of bright orange eyes peered out from a knothole in a tree trunk. The eyes searched silently through the forest and, seeing nothing of any interest, disappeared into the black hole. An instant later a midnight black Ledyba flew out, its pointed feet gashing the bark lining the hole as it took off into the twilight sky.

The two pairs of golden brown eyes that had been watching from an extremely prickly bush followed the Bug, then searched around for any other sign of a Shadow Pokémon.

Seeing nothing but the branches swaying softly in the wind, a tall, dark figure arose from the bushes. The silvery clouds sailing across the purple sky shifted and the figure was bathed in moonlight.

Seeing this, the man instantly ducked back down into the thorn bush, the small Pokémon on his shoulders clinging on with tiny yellow paws.

This isn't right, he said mentally to his partner as he lifted a thorny branch away from his face. There have been way too many Shadow Pokémon here. There weren't nearly this many in the last forest.

Maybe they like Viridian better, the Pikachu responded from his shoulder.

Or maybe they just like us. Do we taste good?

I don't know.

Well, let's get back to Viridian. A few of the stands might still be open on the outer edge with some food. Either there's a lot more of these Shadow Pokémon than we thought or they eat twice their own weight in food because there's nothing left.

The duo made their way to the city, careful to keep hidden in the shadows. The going was slow and they had been deep in the forest. After more than an hour of this the sky was completely dark, the only light coming from the moon and stars. The man stopped walking suddenly and sat down.

We might as well stop, he told Pikachu. At this rate we'll reach Viridian way after everything is shut down. I guess it was kind of stupid to try and get there at night. Too many Shadows out.

But night travel has been our method for years, Pikachu argued.

Well, it looks like we're going to have to change it. It's either be seen by humans or Shadow Pokémon. I personally believe we stand a better chance with the humans.

Pikachu was silent for a few minutes, watching the wind ruffle through his Master's dark black hair. So where do you want to stay? We can't sleep without shelter anymore, and our cave is on the other side of the forest now.

The human sighed, leaning against a tree and resting his head on the rough bark. He knew he would have to get up soon, before a Shadow Pokémon tried to make a midnight snack out of them. He opened his eyes to keep lookout and, seeing the branches, smiled.

What? Pikachu asked, curious. What are you smiling at?

This is an ash tree, he communicated. He indicated a large tree to the left of them with his mind. And that's an oak. The plant lining the base is poison ivy, there's an elm tree a little further behind it, and that—he frowned at the evergreen tree behind the elm. That's a cypress.

Pikachu glanced at his TeeKay partner as he stared at the tree his father had been named after. He had disappeared before his son had set out on his Pokémon journey at ten, and they had only recently overheard a group of campers saying that a man named Cypress and his Raichu, Sparx, had been rising in power in the Eidolon.

Ash, it's not your fault, he told him solemnly. There's nothing you could have done.

Yeah, I know, he replied. He stood up suddenly. Let's go back to that Rhydon den we found earlier. Maybe we can talk her into letting us spend the night. After all, she should know we're not going to hurt her calves after saving one earlier. She seemed like such a nice—

He froze. Pikachu went stiff on his shoulder, yellow fur bristling with unused electricity. Something was wrong. The forest had become way too quiet. Pikachu's sharp ears had notified Ash that the birds had suddenly become silent and the bugs weren't making a sound.

Ash's dull human ears, although sharpened incredibly after living years in the forest, couldn't pick out anything. Pikachu suggested that he enter his mind to try and pinpoint something, and he agreed. Sometimes he could hear things Pikachu couldn't since he wasn't used to being able to hear, see, and smell as well as the mouse.

Pikachu slid aside as Ash's mind entered his own. It was common knowledge that a TeeKay could enter the mind of his Pokémon partner, but a Pokémon couldn't enter the mind of his Master. Ash and Pikachu had tried many times while residing in the forest, and although they had come close, it had never really worked.

Ash sensed Pikachu's uneasiness when he couldn't find anything either. The only other time the forest had gone silent like this was when someone had released the Shadow Pokémon.

Ash released his partner's mind and slipped back into his own body. Pikachu didn't bother asking if he'd heard anything. Instead, he asked if he felt strange.

How do you mean? Ash asked as he peered behind the ash tree he had just been leaning against.

I don't know exactly how to explain it, the mouse said uneasily. I just feel like something big is about to happen. You know, like. . .like. . .

Like when we were exiled? Ash finished for him, looking him in the eye. Like when Giovanni was murdered? Like just before the Shadow Pokémon were released?

Pikachu didn't respond.

You know, Pikachu, Ash continued, I'm beginning to think you have the uncanny ability to sense important events. The Scrolls do tell of a Pokémon with the ability to foreshadow the inevitable. Hey, why don't you call up a storm? I still don't feel right about this.

Ash took the time as Pikachu powered up to remember the long hours of studying that he had done years ago. After he had been exiled, he had sneaked back into his house to get the things he would need to live outside. While in the attic, looking for the money he had stashed away for Misty's new bike, he had accidentally knocked over a box with a bunch of old yellowed papers and scrolls.

Taking them with him to the forest, he had been able to decipher the strange writing only after hours of staring at it. He was then able to predict that something was going to happen in the near future. After years of waiting, nothing had happened. Then, only a few short weeks ago, the Shadow Pokémon had been released, making living a whole new challenge with them lurking about everywhere.

After that incident, he had gone back to his earlier hiding place to dig them up once again from where he had buried them after learning all he thought he could. Pouring over them once more, this time with the aid of Pikachu, they had predicted that another life change would occur soon. Maybe this was it.

A few clouds rolled in from the west, breaking Ash's train of thought. Sensing that Pikachu wanted a little help, he concentrated his own powers into calling up the lightning storm. The thunder had just started to roll in the distance when he heard a creak far above him. Pikachu was too busy with the storm to hear it, but Ash flashed a warning through his mind. Without much thought, Pikachu curled his hind legs and launched himself from Ash's shoulders just as something landed where he had been, making Ash feel ice cold, like he had just walked into an ice cube.

Ash fought to keep his knees from buckling under the weight of whatever had fallen on him as the thing struggled to get at his neck. He brought his hands up to pry it away, but drew them back after they were cut on its surface. A deep, searing pain in his shoulder told him the attacker had cut him. Ignoring the pain, he threw his shoulders forward in an attempt to throw it off. All it did was cause the creature to fall onto his chest and tear away at him there.

Suddenly Ash saw a flash of orange as the moonlight hit his attacker's eyes. Shadow Pokémon. And, by the feel of the rough, spiny skin and sharp claws, a Sandslash.

Pikachu caught his thought of a Shadow Pokémon and rushed over, body illuminated in electricity. Ash began to power up himself, trying to keep the Sandslash away from his throat and heart at the same time. Then Pikachu struck, tiny paws scrabbling to catch in the Shadow's eyes. Suddenly Ash released his electricity, forcing it to surround himself.

The electricity didn't have much effect on the Ground-Type Pokémon, but the light did. The Sandslash screwed its eyes shut at the flare, struggling to get away. Ash managed to get his hands under it before throwing it away from him, Pikachu leaping from its back to land back on Ash's shoulder. Ash winced as his paws hit his raw skin, his black cloak torn where the Sandslash's claws had dug into him. The pair heard it crashing through the underbrush in a frenzy to get away, crying in pain.

Ash and Pikachu didn't move, using the light to ward off any other Shadow Pokémon that might be watching them. Pikachu moved to Ash's other shoulder when he realized that his left one was torn. After a few minutes of silence they released their hold on the electricity and the light immediately disappeared.

"Was that it?" Ash panted. The struggle and sudden light had been enough to reveal their presence to anyone nearby, so there was no more need to mind-speak. "Was that what you felt?"

"Chu," Pikachu said in his own language. After living outside among various Pokémon, Ash had learned to instantly decipher any Pokémon's language as soon as it was spoken. Except for the Pokémon he hadn't met, they all sounded like English to him.

Ash's shoulder and chest started throbbing where the Sandslash had cut him. Pikachu felt his pain through their link and immediately began to lick his wounds. Ash let him without protest. A Pokémon's tongue had natural healing powers.

~Are you going to be all right?~ Pikachu asked as he peeled his cloak and shirt away from the skin on Ash's chest. His cloak now had a permanent gash in it that he would have to mend before the cold season came again.

"Fine. I just need to rest for a few minutes." Despite the fact that he was in very good condition, he was still breathing heavily from his struggle. He could feel his cloak and shirt getting damp as they soaked up his blood, although Pikachu was doing his best to keep them away from the wound. Ash held the fabric away so the Pikachu had his paws free to hold on and let him resume to clean his chest wound. By the feel of his tongue as could tell that he was cut just below his throat. He had always been lucky.

~Are you sure? This wound is pretty deep.~

"I'm fine Pikachu. I just need to eat something and I'll—"

Something behind them crunched. In an instant Ash spun around, feet spread to keep his balance and arms in front of him for protection. Pikachu dashed to his back, forepaws resting on his shoulder, the claws of his feet clinging to the fabric of Ash's cloak. His cheeks sparked as a warning to whoever was out there.

It wasn't their style to call out. Years of experience and one fleeting moment when they thought they had been caught taught them that calling out not only revealed their position, but made it next to impossible to hear the enemy approaching. So the pair stood there, tense and ready, waiting for an attack. Nothing.

Ash's injured shoulder and chest muscles began to cramp from his unmoving position. He wanted desperately to move his feet to a more comfortable position, but once glance at the dead leaves surrounding him said that wasn't such a good idea.

He was about to give up and just sit down in sheer exhaustion when the wind changed. It suddenly started blowing harshly into the pair's faces, bringing with it the smell of water—a little cold and harsh, but another part soft and smelling of the ocean—the smell of fear and of dried blood. And the smell of death.

He could feel Pikachu's fur rise against his cheek, felt the sparks he was involuntarily emitting from his body at the familiar smell, and the strange one. Ash tensed his sore muscles as he stared into the dark trees, trying desperately to figure out where the source of the smells was hiding.

This is it, Pikachu, said Ash mentally. This is what I predicted and what you felt. A showdown with Kassin.

:: I ::

Misty sighed as she picked her way through the foliage of Viridian Forest. She had been searching the woods for over an hour and still no sign of any 'activity'.

She'd rather do practically any other assignment but this. Searching the woods wasn't even in her field, it was more of a job for the outdoor department, someone like Brock who had Pokémon trained for outdoor survival or that blended in naturally with their surroundings.

Something dark raced across the ground just in front of her and she jumped. It had looked like a Shadow Pokémon, a Sandslash maybe? But weren't Shadow Pokémon most famous for attacking anyone and everyone they came across? Why hadn't it attacked her? Then again, it might have been a bug. She shuddered at the mere thought.

She didn't have much time to ponder this, however, before all sound simply ceased to exist. She hadn't thought the forest had been that loud anyway, but soon realized that bugs, birds, and Pokémon alike had been making a quiet but insistent background noise the entire time she was there. Now she couldn't hear anything.

At first she thought she had gone temporarily deaf, but after a few moments of standing perfectly still to hide her position she heard a loud screeching sound. The sound echoed through the still silent trees, sounding impossibly loud in the intense silence. Listening hard, she heard what sounded like a struggle taking place in a clump of trees just a few meters ahead of her.

A few seconds later there was a flare of light, closely followed by a shrieking sound. Seconds afterward a Shadow Sandslash came racing past her feet, eyes closed from the bright flash of light.

The light died down and was dim for a minute or two, then went out completely. Misty thought she heard panting, but she wasn't sure. She didn't dare move closer for fear of causing whatever was out there to hear her. Did two Shadow Pokémon ever quarrel?

"Was that it?" a voice suddenly asked. Misty jumped, not expecting there to be another human out here. Her hand went instantly to the TeeKayball hanging at her waist, the only Pokémon she had decided to bring with her. "Was that what you felt?" the male voice continued. He sounded tired and out of breath. But who was he talking to?

"Chu," another voice said. A Pikachu? Misty was glad Lt. Surge had raised that Pichu to a Pikachu and then evolved it to a Raichu—after teaching it Agility. It had sharpened her Pikachu-deciphering skills. She remembered a time when she could translate all of Pikachu's language, but not anymore. She hadn't heard one speak since Lt. Surge's, and that was a few months ago.

Wait—weren't Pikachu banned in the Eidolon? Weren't all Electric Pokémon? With the exception of Cypress's Raichu, she thought they didn't allow them in their gang for fear of some ancient prophecy or something.

"Pikachu pi pika pika?"

"Fine. I just need to rest for a few minutes."

"Pika pi? Kachu pi pikachu."

"I'm fine Pikachu. I just need something to eat and I'll—"

Something behind Misty crunched.

She heard a shuffle from the direction of the voices as she spun around. She peered around into the darkness but couldn't see anything from lack of moonlight. While she had been listening to the man and his Pikachu, clouds had been forming overhead. She didn't dare look up to see how much was left before the moon came out again.

She stood there for a minute, tense and unmoving. All of her senses told her that something was just out of eyesight, watching her. A cool wind picked up, blowing her long red hair out behind her. She ignored it and tried harder to penetrate the fierce black forest ahead of her.

"Well, well, this is a surprise," a voice said suddenly, making her jump. But instead of the tired, friendly voice the first man had been speaking with, this one was deeper, darker, and colder. Misty froze as she recognized it.


Are you all right? Feraligatr asked from inside of his TeeKayball. Should I come out?

Misty debated this for a moment. She could use her partner's strength and Attacks if he suddenly lashed out at her, but what about the light? Then she remembered that he obviously knew where they were anyway.

She was only mildly surprised when the crystal blue light from Feraligatr's 'Ball mixed with the common red light of another. Of course Kassin would send a Pokémon out. He was famous for believing in his Pokémon more than other humans.

She clipped the TeeKayball to her belt as Feraligatr materialized in front of her. She briefly glimpsed a large dark green form before the other Pokéball's light went out.

They stood there for a moment as Feraligatr flashed questions through her mind, asking what he should do. He wanted to Attack, but she knew he wouldn't without her consent. What if it's a Type you're bad against? she asked him. What then?

Then I'll try my hardest anyway. You should have brought Togetic, at least.

I know. I just didn't think we would meet someone like Kassin in the middle of Viridian Forest! What Type does he favor?

His TeeKay is a Mantine named Icewing, remember? That's all I know.

Me too. I guess we'll just have to wing it. Ice is strong against Flying, right?

Yes, but it's weak against Water, which evens it back out. Neither of us have the advantage.

Misty sighed. We need an Electric Type.

None reside in Viridian Forest.

I know. Try a—

But before she could finish her command, Kassin spoke again.

"Quiver, light up."

Instantly a red light filled the clearing. Misty had to squint at its brightness, but after a few seconds she could open her eyes fully again.

It was a Typhlosion, a rather large one at that. He looked to be over ten feet tall, the brittle dark green fire-resistant fur bristling at the heat waves rolling over them from the large fire covering his entire back. His curved claws were extended and his teeth bared in a snarl, the flickering firelight making him appear more like a monster than a Pokémon.

Now, with the limited light, Misty could see that there was a man beside him, just out of reach of the flames and about ten feet directly in front of her. His six-foot figure looked dwarfed by the large Pokémon standing beside him, his long, navy blue cloak ending just above his feet. He had his arms crossed in front of his chest as he stared at her, a small smile forming on his thin lips. The flickering firelight revealed shortish dark blue hair and a young, evil looking face. He had a long fang dangling from his left ear, the very tip a dark red color. His cool grey eyes looked menacing, but they looked excited as well.

Kassin smiled, his teeth glinting in the flickering light. "Excellent. I've been wanting to test my Fire-Types against Water."

As he said this, his Typhlosion stepped forward, forepaws clenched in front of him eagerly. Feraligatr instantly stood in front of Misty, protecting her. The fire reflected off of his crystal blue scales as he flexed them in anticipation of battle.

"Let's make this simple," Kassin said, not looking the least bit intimidated by his disadvantage. "One on one. No time limit. No Potions or ability-enhancing items of any kind. Old League rules."

"You only make the rules so you can break them," said Misty evenly.

Kassin grinned. "You're right. Let's begin. Quiver, Swift!"

The Typhlosion instantly fell to all fours, craning his neck around to bite off some hot fur from beneath the fire. He turned his head back around and spit them at Feraligatr, the fur becoming hard and deadly as it flew through the air.

Feraligatr ducked, his forelegs hitting the ground silently as he sank to his more maneuverable form, closely resembling an alligator. The sharp fur changed its course to meat him, dropping to Feraligatr's eye-level. Feraligatr opened his mouth and let loose a powerful Water Gun that engulfed the fur and slowed it down. He cut off the Water Gun and let the fur-spikes hit him faintly, bouncing off of his tough-scaled skin and falling to the ground harmlessly.

"Impressive," Kassin said, sounding amused. "So you LEAGUE agents really do know how to fight. I wouldn't know, I've simply killed them off as I found them. Icewing has become very good at that."

"So why are you Battling me?" Misty asked, trying to stall for time as she thought of an Attack that might result in a one-hit KO.

"You are the infamous Agent Misteara, are you not?" he asked. "I've heard that you were the one that broke up my attempt to take over Indigo Plateau. Because of your interference, that plateau remains a LEAGUE stronghold to this day."

There. She had it. Feraligatr picked up her train of thought and reared back, preparing a Hydro Pump. Kassin saw what he was doing and froze. "Quiver, Roar!"

The Typhlosion took a deep breath as he stood. Then he let loose an amazingly loud roar that reverberated through the still-silent forest. The sound forced Feraligatr to close his mouth and cover his small ears, the power for the Hydro Pump lost. Misty covered her ears, too, wondering if Feraligatr would be able to withstand the Attack and continue the fight.

The roar finally ended after a few seconds, the sound still echoing off of the trees in the distance. Misty and Feraligatr released their ears and looked at Kassin, but he seemed unaffected by the roar.

"Now, Take Down Attack!"

Quiver fell to all fours once more and charged toward Feraligatr at an amazing speed. Feraligatr sank to his lowest position to reduce the impact and waited for him to come just a little bit closer. . .

There! As Quiver entered Feraligatr's reach, he spun around and swiped him with his thick, powerful tail, knocking the beast off his feet. The Typhlosion went crashing into the dirt head first, skidding at least ten feet before he finally came to a halt at the base of a tree.

But Feraligatr wasn't finished yet. He crawled over to the fallen Pokémon, who was shaking his head as he tried to clear it, and aimed a Water Gun at the fire spreading over the length of his back.

Quiver screamed in rage and pain as the Water Gun ended. The fire flickered for a few seconds, then went out completely. Kassin didn't even flinch as he fainted. He reached beneath his cloak and unclipped a Pokéball, recalling the Fire Pokémon. When his hand reappeared it held three more Pokéballs; two regular red-and-white and one black-and-orange. He pointed to the abnormal one. Now that there was no more firelight, Misty realized that the moon had come back out, casting everything in an eerie silver color.

"Ever seen one of these?" Kassin asked, smiling. Misty didn't answer. "Didn't think so." He put the two Pokéballs in his left hand as he brought the odd one up to look at. "This is a ShadowBall. Our scientists have only recently invented it to capture Shadow Pokémon. Actually, they've had the design for a while now. They could only put the finishing touches on it after they had a specimen to study. And, as you know, it's only been a few short weeks since I released the Shadow Pokémon. Meet my first ever, Noctowl."

As he finished his statement, he threw all three 'Balls into the air. The first two came out in the normal red light while the Shadow Ball shone orange. Misty and Feraligatr watched as a black Noctowl, an extremely large Crobat, and a small Gligar materialized in the air in front of them. Each varied in color from their normal species, and each was a completely different size. The Crobat was as big as she was.

Luckily, Feraligatr was no ordinary Feraligatr. He was ten feet tall, the tallest ever recorded of his kind. She knew that Kassin bred his Pokémon to be the meanest, toughest, biggest, and strongest ever, but no one had any idea how. Feraligatr had gotten that big on his own—without the help of drugs and other chemicals to make him grow.

Before Kassin could say anything, the Noctowl dove at Feraligatr, trying to peck his eyes out. Feraligatr closed both sets of eyelids and swatted at it with his tail, Misty using their mind-link to tell him where it was. But the Shadow Pokémon was too fast. It easily dodged Feraligatr's swipes to come down hard with its pointed beak on his skin. With a start, Misty realized that it was hitting on the same spot between his eyes. Feraligatr's arms were too short to cover it up and they both knew that the spot would eventually weaken enough for his skull to crack.

Finally, Feraligatr put up a Barrier with a Focus Point on his head. The Shadow Noctowl shrieked in rage before flapping wildly, trying a Whirlwind Attack. Feraligatr was too heavy to fly up into the air, but he did have to dig his claws deep into the earth to keep from being dragged across the ground.

The sight of the struggling Feraligatr motivated the Gligar and Crobat to attack. The Crobat flew over to Feraligatr and emitted a solid black ray from her huge mouth. He couldn't dodge or Gligar and Noctowl, who were both beating madly as they tried to lift him from the ground, would pick him up in what was now a double-Attack.

As soon as the Confuse Ray hit him Misty swayed on her feet as Feraligatr released the ground. In an instant he was flying through the air toward Misty. She was able to dodge just in time, but he was forced to slam into a tree upside-down, his tail flipping back over underbelly. Gligar and Noctowl stopped their Attack and he fell to the ground to land hard on his head.

Misty rushed over to him, feeling the shock in her own body. But before she could reach him he was rushing back over to the trio of attackers, teeth bared in an unmistakable snarl. Just before he reached them he flashed Misty a message saying he was okay. The shock of hitting the tree had gotten rid of his Confusion.

When he was about ten feet away he leapt at the nearest of the three—the Crobat—and caught her in his powerful jaws. Shaking her back and forth like a dog he proceeded to weaken her, but never kill it. Misty knew that when she was too weak to battle he would release her.

The Gligar tried to help his friend by stinging Feraligatr repeatedly with his pointed tail, but Feraligatr simply shook off the Attacks, concentrating wholly on getting the Crobat out of the match. The Noctowl didn't seem to care about its fellow Pokémon; rather it sailed onto a high tree branch to watch.

Finally, the Crobat fainted. Feraligatr dropped her and turned to growl at the Gligar, who was now attached to his back as he tried to Bite him. Feraligatr rolled over onto his back, crushing the Gligar underneath his massive weight before flipping right-side up again. But the Gligar didn't come with him. He was still lying on the ground, his wing jutting out at a weird angle.

Feraligatr ignored him and turned to the Noctowl, who was staring at him with its pupil-less orange eyes. He flashed Misty an idea to get rid of it and both instantly formed crystal blue Energy Balls in their hands. The pair threw them at the Shadow Pokémon, making it shriek and spit as it screwed its eyes shut in pain. Misty didn't know much about Shadow Pokémon, but she did know that their one weakness was light of any kind.

Kassin knew he had been defeated. Without reluctance, he recalled all of his Pokémon, the Noctowl first, and put them away. He then drew another Pokéball, this one silver on the bottom and dark blue on the top, the black band surrounding it signaling that it was a TeeKayball. Misty paled. This was what she had been dreading.

"All right," he said quietly, "enough playing. Those three were newer Pokémon, none with much Battle experience. I would have been disappointed if you had lost. Zippo will be no good against a Water-Type TeeKay, so I won't bother. Let's just see how well you fare against Icewing."

Without pressing the button a navy blue light spilled out of the TeeKayball. Misty and Feraligatr watched in dread as a Mantine appeared in a large gap between the trees. She was huge, at least twenty feet from wingtip to wingtip. The normally small horns on the top portion of her head were large and pointy, even larger than the fangs protruding from her mouth.

Be careful, Misty warned Feraligatr. With this as his TeeKay we won't know what Attacks he's about to use. Use Ice Attacks and try to take it out as soon as possible.

Feraligatr nodded, but Misty wasn't relieved. This would be a challenge for both of them.

Before Feraligatr had a chance to do anything, the Mantine attacked, her movement slowed by the fact that she had to bend her wings to fit through the smaller gaps in the trees. Feraligatr managed to dodge her Tackle Attack the first time, but the second time she hit him in the stomach.

Feraligatr went flying back to hit a tree. Sliding to the ground once again, he managed to land on his feet this time, snarling as Icewing tried another Tackle. Just before she hit he brought his short yet powerful arms up in front of him and grabbed her horns, pressing all of his weight against the tree to stop her from coming any closer. It did get the Mantine to stop, but as soon as his clawed hands hit those pointed horns Misty felt a hot, searing pain in her own. Squinting in the fading light as the moon tried to hide behind yet another cloud, she saw a dark, thick liquid oozing down Feraligatr's arms.

Icewing and Kassin smirked when they saw the blood, and Icewing pressed harder, her tail lashing out behind her as she pushed. Suddenly a large crack echoed through the woods as the tree Feraligatr was leaning against began to bend under the tremendous weight. The Mantine saw this and brought her tail up to lash at the bark beneath Feraligatr's lower body. Misty gasped as she saw the seemingly willowy tail slice cleanly through the tree, making it fall over with Feraligatr on top and Icewing flying up high overhead to circle back around.

"Give it up," Kassin called as Feraligatr weakly pushed himself up from the ground and tried to stop the blood flow by clenching his fists together tightly. "Your pathetic Feraligatr doesn't stand a chance."

And what other choice do we have but to fight? Misty questioned silently. Suddenly she heard thunder rolling in the distance. She took a chance and looked up at the sky to see thick black clouds moving in from all around to bunch up overhead. She frowned. Hadn't the sky been almost clear earlier? What was causing all of these clouds?

Then a sharp pain lashed through her left side. Looking at Feraligatr, she saw that the Mantine had glided silently in to gash him with her horns. She was now hovering just above Kassin.

Misty turned her attention back to Feraligatr, who was doubled over in pain from the long tear in his side. Blood was rolling down his legs and pooling on the ground around him to mix with the dirt at his feet. Misty began to feel the aching throb in her own side. She started to go forward to help him when something caught her foot. She suddenly felt as if she had been drenched in ice water. Spinning around quickly, she saw the large, dark form of a Shadow Mankey holding her ankle and glaring at her.

Feraligatr, you've got to do something! she yelled, trying to pry the cold hands away from her feet. I'm stuck!

Frustrated, she hit the Mankey on the top of the head, which was nearly level with her own. "Keeeeeeeyy," it growled, its eyes glowing an even brighter orange. Suddenly it flipped her over. Years of training and experience taught her how to land properly and without breaking anything, but she only just managed to do it in time.

Suddenly Feraligatr's roar pierced the night. Misty was too busy with the now attacking Mankey to look up, but one scene from Feraligatr's mind told her all she needed to know. As she had been falling over from the Mankey, Feraligatr had rushed at Icewing, hoping to catch the Mantine off-guard as the she watched the struggling human. Icewing had flicked her tail on the ground, spraying sand and dirt into Feraligatr's eyes. Blinded, Feraligatr had stepped back, roaring in pain. That had caught Misty's attention.

It took less than a second to review the unfair Battle scene, but that was more than enough time for the Mankey to knock her down, placing its foot on her stomach to prevent her from getting up again. Despite her struggles, its foot stayed firmly in place as it watched Kassin for its next orders. Misty used this time to see how Feraligatr was doing, but instead felt a powerful Thunderbolt coursing through his body. The Attack was drained significantly before she felt it, of course, but it still hurt like nothing she had ever felt before. Well, physically, anyway. She gritted her teeth to keep from crying out, but Feraligatr, who was feeling it full force, was roaring in rage and pain.

Finally, after a few seconds that seemed like hours to Misty and Feraligatr, the Thunderbolt ended. Feraligatr stood there for as long as he could, his hide sizzling from the Electric Attack's extreme heat, as he tried to gather his strength for an Ice Attack. But he was too tired. After one more deep breath he collapsed—not fainted, but hurt and tired enough that he couldn't fight anymore. The blood oozing from his side-wound and hands continued to pool around him, soaking his underbelly, sides, and tail.

Kassin walked slowly over to Misty, careful to tread harshly over Feraligatr—who could only manage to groan—and stared at her with an evil grin on his face.

Rage was filling her body as her temper took over. "You dirty—" she managed to say before the Mankey pressed down hard enough that her air supply was cut off. She tried to get up by throwing the Mankey down by the ankles, but it didn't budge. Finally, when her struggles became less and less energetic, Kassin waved his hand. Shadow Mankey immediately released enough of the pressure for her to breathe normally again. It then proceeded to use its other foot to grab her hands with its finger-like toes and placed them under the foot that was holding her down. Now she could barely move.

Kassin knelt beside her, still smiling. "I like to play dirty," he said softly as he trailed a hand down her cheek and neck, slowing down as he reached her breasts.

"Well so do we!" a man suddenly yelled from Misty's other side. Kassin yanked his hand back as he looked up just in time to see a foot smash into his face, sending him reeling head-over-heels into a tree. Misty used the distraction to try and break free from the Mankey.

She glanced up and saw a man in a midnight black cloak drop down from a swinging vine to land silently on his feet. Upon further inspection, she noticed a deep gash in his upper chest and left shoulder.

Kassin stood up slowly, Icewing helping him up with her tail which, amazingly, didn't cut him. He wiped a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth and turned to glare at the man. "You. . ." he said breathlessly."You have ruined my plans for the last time!"

Without warning the Mantine rushed at him, teeth bared as it prepared to Bite. The man leaped high into the air and grabbed another loose vine while Icewing's momentum slammed her into a tree. As Misty watched, she realized that one of the TeeKay's horns had drilled deep into the bark and was protruding out of the other side.

The man released the vine and stood once more to glare at Kassin, his eyes two golden brown pinpoints in the dark night. Thunder rolled loudly overhead, and Misty heard the first raindrops begin to fall a few miles away. The forest remained eerily silent for some time as the two just glared at each other.

"I've been waiting for you, Ketchum," said Kassin suddenly. Misty froze. Ketchum?

"I even had a team built up," he continued. "All were new and weak against your Element, but all were good. Unfortunately, this bitch over here took care of them before you came."

"Don't call her that," the man said softly. Misty instantly recognized the voice as the man that had been speaking to the Pikachu earlier, but her mind was still backtracked on what Kassin had just said. Ketchum?

"And why not?" Kassin asked evilly, crossing his arms. "She isn't yours. A thief like you doesn't deserve one of the top agents in the LEAGUE. You didn't deserve her back in the Indigo League, and you sure as hell don't deserve her now."

The man glared at him, but remained silent. Misty's mind was still reeling. Did he say Ketchum? As in, Ash Ketchum?

Yes! Feraligatr suddenly yelled. He was busy gathering back his strength as the two talked. Now form an Energy Ball and get rid of that Mankey so you can help him!

But he's a—

Forget what they told you and help him! Don't you remember when you were kids? He's the same guy! He wouldn't have come to help you if he weren't! Just ignore the present!

Misty knew he was right. And she also knew that it was very stupid of her not to have used an Energy Ball earlier. The Ball was kept hidden under the Mankey's own foot as she formed it. Ash and Kassin kept talking, unaware of her actions.

"I didn't know you in the Indigo League," said Ash coolly. As Kassin glanced at Icewing's progress of getting out of the tree, Ash glanced at Misty. Suddenly she understood: he was buying her time.

Kassin cast an evil grin at him. "Didn't you?"

Icewing broke free at the same time that Misty released her Energy Ball. The pure blue light traveled straight up the Mankey's leg and into its heart. The Shadow Pokémon shrieked as it released her and scrambled head-over-heels away and into the forest.

Misty kneeled and looked in Ash's direction in time to see Icewing slam into him from behind. His slim body went right between the two horns and they managed to do the minor damage of ripping his cloak as she stopped her Tackle. Ash went soaring off of her smooth, curved, sailing toward Misty.

She watched as he managed to twist around in the air and land sideways on his feet and hands, keeping his balance. He skidded to a stop just beside her and she stood up with him. He glanced once out of the corner of his eye at her and she smiled in reassurance. She was willing to help.

Kassin strode over to stand beside his partner, laying a hand on her damp back as she hovered a few feet off the ground. "Perhaps if we kill one of you the fight might be made a little more interesting."

As he spoke his Mantine powered up for a powerful move. Ash stood in front of Misty, although she was a little annoyed at this, but before Icewing released the Attack she turned to Feraligatr, who was just managing to stand on all fours again.

"No!" Ash yelled, turning to the trees to Misty's left. "Pikachu, now!"

Misty watched as a small yellow mouse came charging out of the trees and jumped up to land gracefully on Icewing's back. The movement broke the Pokémon's concentration, and she tried to turn her head to look at what had landed on her.

Suddenly a loud boom of thunder spilt the sky. Rain began to pour from above as Pikachu started his famous battle cry.

"Piiiiiiiii kaaaaaaaaa CHUUUUUUUUU!"

A large bolt of lightning came down to strike the Mantine. Misty covered her eyes at the intense light and looked away. She could feel Feraligatr doing the same, but she didn't know what Kassin or Ash were doing.

After a few seconds of blinding glares, the light faded away. Misty opened her eyes to see Icewing lying on the ground upside-down, wings fluttering weakly, Pikachu standing on all fours, panting heavily, next to her, Kassin on his hands and knees as the powerful Attack gradually ceased, and Ash staring at Kassin intently.

"Had enough?" Ash asked, folding his arms across his chest. Misty noticed that his voice was a little strained. Sweat was starting to show on his forehead. She then realized that he must have given Pikachu his own energy in order to use that Attack. A human using a Pokémon's energy—and vice-versa—even if they were TeeKayed, took a lot out of them.

Kassin didn't answer. Instead, he held up the silver-and-blue TeeKayball and watched as Icewing was zapped inside. He must have been extremely string if his Water Pokémon had survived that.

"I'm not finished yet," he said softly. "Go, Zippo!"

Ash and Misty watched as a huge, blood-red Charizard appeared. He roared once at the rain that was still falling from the dark sky, but his tail flame stayed lit. Without a command, he slammed his large clawed foot on the ground, sending everyone off their feet. He then walked over to Pikachu and swiped at him with his massive tail.

"Pikachu, no!" Ash yelled as his friend went flying through the air to hit a tree. His small form slid to the ground, barely conscious. The Charizard huffed, smoke billowing from its nostrils.

Suddenly Ash and Pikachu started glowing a bright yellow. Misty watched, fascinated, as Pikachu stood again, looking refreshed. Ash, however, collapsed to the ground, as he had already been on his knees. Misty wanted to help him up, but Feraligatr was now standing on his feet and glaring at the Charizard. He needed her help to Attack.

Kassin climbed shakily to his feet to stare at Ash, who was panting heavily on the ground. "Stupid to waste your energy like that," he muttered. "Especially in a losing battle." He then turned to look at Feraligatr, who let loose a low snarl as he noticed the murderer's gaze.

"Come on, Zippo," Kassin said, stepping up to the huge dragon. "Fly home." As he was climbing onto The Charizard's back he turned to smirk at Misty, who was now helping Ash to his feet. "You might at well leave," he called. "Leave him there or you're both dead. Just a word to the wise."

And with that he was gone, his Charizard having used the powerful HM Fly.

Misty looked down at Ash, who was still panting heavily. "Are you going to be all right?" she asked, concerned. She could feel her old emotions starting to bubble up again and she desperately wished they'd go away.

"Yeah," he said weakly.

She smiled. "I don't believe you. Come on."

She hooked one of his arms around her shoulder and hoisted him up. He managed to stand halfway upright by leaning half of his body on her. She glanced at him and their eyes met, their faces only inches apart. His eyes looked weary, but they also held a spark of excitement.

Suddenly Feraligatr flashed a warning through her mind. Something dark. And orange.

A Shadow Pokémon!

Before she could move she heard a thump and Pikachu's angry chattering as he Battled something. Ash immediately slumped back onto her shoulder and she held him up, not daring to look around at the scene. Feraligatr gave her the information as he slithered over to help.

A Shadow Pokémon! It looks like a-a Nidorino! It's attacking Pikachu! He's almost got it off, no! It swiped him with its horn!

Ash took in a sharp intake of breath as he said that. Misty knew he must be feeling the pain within his own body, and wanted desperately to help him, knowing that she couldn't.

Feraligatr finally reached the tiny mouse and pried the two apart. Throwing the Nidorino off into the trees, he held the Pikachu close. Misty managed to turn herself and Ash around to see them.

"Pikachu," Ash muttered. Misty glanced up to see Pikachu's limp form cradled in Feraligatr's arms. But Feraligatr was staring intently over her head.

Um, Misty? We have a problem. . .

But Misty didn't need to turn around to figure that out. Sneaking up stealthily behind Feraligatr were a line of black forms, orange eyes glowing menacingly in the pouring rain.

"Ash. . ." She nudged him. He had his eyes closed as he rested on her shoulder. "Ash, wake up! We have a problem!"

"Huh?" he asked wearily. Opening one chocolate eye, he caught a glimpse of the nearing Shadow Pokémon. "Oh no." His face paled.

Suddenly Pikachu was struggling in Feraligatr's arms. Feraligatr only held him tighter as he stared around at the Shadow Pokémon. They're making a circle around us! he realized.

"Let him go," said Ash loudly. Misty looked at him, but he was taking his arm back from around her as he stood on his own.

"Ash, what—"

"Do it, Feraligatr."

Misty watched in surprise as Feraligatr willingly obeyed, setting Pikachu on the ground. Misty stared. No TeeKay was supposed to listen to anyone but their one human partner!

Pikachu got shakily to his feet before scampering to one side of the circle. The Shadow Pokémon were growling menacingly at him, but he ignored it. Now, with them being so close, Misty could make out all sorts of large, powerful Pokémon in the ring.

"Misty, listen," Ash said quickly. She turned to look at him. He had his hands on his knees as he tried to remain standing on his own. "I want you and Feraligatr to leave."


He sighed. "Don't argue, Misty, just do it. Go. Me and Pikachu can hold them off while you run."


"Misty! This isn't your home!"

"Its not yours, either!"

"You don't know that!" He sighed, the exhaustion of yelling taking away his breath. "Listen," he said quietly. "You go. We stay. End of story. We've got enough energy for one more good Attack."

"And then what?" Misty demanded. "Wait for the next group to tear you apart while you're lying unconscious on the ground?"

"What do you care?" he yelled back.

Um, Misty. . . Feraligatr warned. She looked up. The Shadow Pokémon were closing in.

"I'm not leaving," she said stubbornly, crossing her arms.

Ash looked at her in exasperation. He didn't have the energy to fight with her. "Fine. But I'm not responsible if you get killed." Turning back to Pikachu he said, "We've got to do this now or never. Come on."

Pikachu stopped growling at a nearby Shadow Nidoking to run over to Ash, perching on his left shoulder. Misty caught Ash's wince as a paw scraped against his shoulder wound.

"Put Feraligatr away," he said, ignoring the pain.


He glared at her. Misty sighed and did as she was told. Clipping the TeeKayball to her waist she looked at him. "Now what?"

"Stand back," he said softly. "You're about to find out why they call me the Dark Spark."

"You're the Dark Spark?" Misty asked, but he didn't answer. Instead, he had his eyes shut in concentration, his face matching Pikachu's, as they powered up.

They stood there for a few seconds, unmoving. Misty stared to get nervous. The Shadow Pokémon were closing in.

"Um, guys?" she asked. A small Beedrill swept down on her and she dodged it. "Guys?"

They didn't answer. Misty could faintly hear Ash chanting something under his breath. She listened harder and heard, "Not Misty, not Misty, not Misty. . ."

Suddenly the pair began to glow a bright yellow as they filled with electricity. The nearing Shadow Pokémon backed away, frightened of the bright light.

Then they erupted in electricity. The bolts went flying around the clearing, searing straight through trees and jumping up high into the sky. Misty turned around and shut her eyes, not daring to damage them in the fierce light. She felt something warm nick her arm, but she didn't dare open her eyes to see what.

The light went on and on and she began to feel dizzy. Then she didn't feel very well. Feraligatr's loss of blood is getting to me, she thought. Slowly, she began to sway on her feet until she fell to her knees. Then she fainted.

:: I ::

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hi, people! Well, the first part has been finished and revised. Granted there are still probably a few mistakes, but hey—nothing's perfect, right? Anywho, I hop you enjoy the rest of my fic. I know it's taking me a while to write, but if I rush it wouldn't be as good as it is, right? Right. Aw, fudgermunkies, I'm at Erin's house and her, erm, number six key doesn't work, so I can't type a little face. Dangit! I just tried again! Errrr. . .*ahem* I'm done ranting now. REVIEW!!! Please? (and for those of you at the Tower, E-MAIL ME at Oh, I love e-mails so much. . .) I'll give you a shiny pink Igglyfluff. . .(insert winking face here)