Chapter 7/Final:True Strength, Truer Beauty

Ash was coming around. He appeared to be alright. He noticed that he was a bed. Something happened that brought him into this bedroom. He wanted to move from beneath the blanket when he noticed that he...couldn't. Pinned. He peered to the one in sight. He eyeballed to his right. Wall and no more...until he saw an arm seep from beneath the blanket. Who could that be? It was a human arm so Pikachu was not it. He lifted the covers...Mina! She was on top of Ash, preventing him from moving too much...which may be a good thing. Ash's right shoulder was bandaged up good with blood staining it. Yet why was Mina on Ash in bed under the blanket and over his body? It's not as confusing as it sounded. 'Sheesh!' he minded. 'Mina said that she's fallen for me...but this is a bit much.' Ash rose a little bit to try and lift Mina, not in her sailor outfit but not naked, from his chest. That's when he felt a ravaging stinging sensation in that bandaged shoulder. He grasped that shoulder in the pain that was inflicted. 'Man! My shoulder took some serious damage from Malachite. All for protecting mom...and Mina!' His mind wandered back to when he and the scouts were fighting that mutant and Malachite.

(Flashback to before)

Jessie and James were reverted back to normal. Malachite was still fixed on destroying Mrs. Ketchum. Malachite was ready to carve Ash who defended his birth mother. Malachite was fast. All Ash could do was block Malachite with his own body. A risky maneuver. Unaware to anyone, Meowth was unaccounted for. That wouldn't last. He pawed Malachite in the face, disrupting his attack. Awesome counter. Ash was fast, Malachite was faster and Meowth was just nasty quick. Ash acted fast and got his mother inside where it was safe. "I'm not much for favoring the twerp," Meowth snapped. "But I'd rather have him alive than dead. He's more fun that way." Uh, thanks? Balanced once more, Ash squared himself to fight hand-to-hand with Malachite. Sidestepping from the house, Ash had diverted Malachite's attention from his mother and onto himself...and the scouts. Bayleef and Bulbasaur chose to retreat when they saw Malachite extend an arm out. A blast of force struck the crowd. Pikachu used his Iron Tail to dig into the dirt to prevent being flung from the area and away from Ash. Raye stood with a paper that had Japanese symbols. She held it in front of her face.

"I call upon the power of Mars," she chanted as Malachite sprung to attack Ash who was winding up an uppercut. "Fireball...Charge!" She flung the paper which burst into a fireball. It was heading for Malachite when a freak breeze of wind altered the direction. Of all the dumb attached onto Ash's shoulder and coated his entire arm in flames. It didn't stop Ash. Malachite was in striking distance and in one swift motion...swift and burning motion, CRACK! Ash smashed his burning knuckles into Malachite's chin. If being hit by a scorching fist wasn't bad enough, the flames kicked up into a pillar of 1000-degree fire with Malachite in the middle being burned alive. The flames on his arm were snuffed, showing only damage to the sweat-tee. Arm was okay. If the flames from Raye did not harm his shoulder, what did? Ash retreated to an arm length from Mina. Out of the fire, Malachite dive bombed toward Ash and Mina. He picked up speed so quick, Ash needed to rely on defense. The blade was back out and Malachite wasn't going to be denied again. The thrust...SPLAT! Ash jumped to grab Malachite but the thrust sent the blade into his shoulder and the blade had gone through it. That did some significant damage. Ash screeched in agonizing pain from his arm being stabbed through and through.

"Ash!" Mina cried out. Ash was hurt badly, yet he vowed to fight on. Serena was wanting to stop Malachite but with his blade embedded into Ash, what could she do?

"It's unfortunate that your life had to end this way," Malachite snarled. "If you were a member of the Black Moon, you disgraced the name." That's when something unusual occurred. The mark on Ash's forehead appeared to have "unfolded" and create an "O" as a replacement. The black moon-shaped mark not only changed shape but shifted color as it verted from black to blue. His eyes became blue as well. "What's this? The mark is altered." Could it be that the mark now was from King Quarnt? 'He does bear the mark from his father, but that means the reason his mark change had to be Queen Beryl. This is the king's true mark!' Queen Beryl altered the king's mark? That could be why Ash held the mark for so long.

"Venus, hit me with everything you've got," he groaned in pain and fatigue.

"Ash, I can't!" Mina cried out in fear of hurting Ash more.

"I'll be fine! Do it!" He held onto Malachite's arm with all the might remaining as blood was gushing out by the pint. He did not want Malachite to go without punishment.

"Don't die on me! Venus...Dragon!" Dragon? She unleashed the beam which then took form of a dragon...and struck Ash and Malachite. The beam became a pillar which suddenly shifted from gold to blue. As if the weirdness wasn't done, the pillar shrunk to where it was a ball in Ash's good hand while gripping the bad one on Malachite's bladed arm while in mid-air. This had to be what Ash anticipated. He was fine. Mina beamed a glee.

"Malachite, if you meet up with Queen Beryl again, tell her that she has no custody of me, despite the concept that she's my stepmother." Finally, he flung his arm and crushed Malachite with an ultra large blue beam. Malachite was sent off to the distance. It was over. Ash slowly drifted back to Earth where Mina was there to catch his descent. She cradled Ash in her arms, almost as if he was a child. Blood continued to drain from the wound. The scouts surrounded Ash and Mina, hoping that Ash was going to pull through. It would be a while.

This was a breakthrough. Ash was never a member of the Black Moon clan. His father was forced into a marriage with Beryl to gain the power. Whatever planet or universe Ash's father came from, all suspicions about him were erased. He was wondering what the heck he unleashed on Malachite. That's when Mina started to stir. Well, almost. She headed onto his face and just began to smother her lips on Ash's face. The lips connected, drving Mina to pick Ash's head. Man, she really wanted him. Ash simply surrendered to her temptation. "My hero," she muttered weakly. She was too fascinated in Ash's soft lips to know that he wanted to move. That's when Raye appeared and shoved her hand in between the two smooching lips. That woke Mina completely.

"Gosh, he just bailed you from being a pin cushion and this is what you pay him?" she sarcastically greeted. Mina simply sighed. What could she say?

"Come on, Raye," Ash scoffed. "It's like what you saw before we transported here." When Mina kissed Ash, not orally rape his face. That's when something clicked in Ash's head. Raye was also out of her uniform...and that his mother would've been able to view the change. That could not lead to anything pleasant. "So, Mom knows of your secrets?" Raye nodded, the truth exposed to others of the Ketchum family.

"Amy figured it was safe since it directly involved your family or your mom in this case. There was another kingdom where Queen Beryl might have borrowed power using access of your father's." Right, King Quarnt. Mina rose off of Ash to allow him to get onto his feet. He winced when he used his right arm for leverage. That pain was too great. Raye pulled him up onto his feet using his left, his good arm. They exited the room where Ash, Mina and Raye spotted Serena, Amy, Lita, Ash's mother and Pikachu. They were discussing something.

"I had to feel silly that I mistaken Mr. Mime for my son," the mother explained. "Of course, it was also my first Pokémon that I captured." The girls enjoyed a chuckle from that goof.

"If Ash was my kid and that happened, Delia," Serena murmured. "I would've made the same mistake." That's when the girls heard footsteps from the staircase. Turning, they saw the hero who stopped Malachite.

"Perhaps, but you'd panic more than mom did," Ash teased. Serena grumbled, figuring that maybe she would not panic.

"So, how's the arm feeling?" Amy jumped to the injury update. Without the shirt on, the blood was apparently showing.

"Believe me, I think I'll feel better when it comes to surgery. It's still a wreck and I may want to put off training for a little while." With an injury like that? Ash was right-handed. Yeah, that made sense. That's when Ash became serious. It had to do with dear old dad. "Mom, what was my father like?" The question was coming. Delia tried to act innocent.

"Come on, Ash," she tried to brush off. "Your father was a busy guy and that-"

"Mom!" That serious tone snapped Delia out of denial. Ash had this superpower that he had to inherit from his old man. There was a time for a confession. The time was now.

"I found your father in the woods around Saffron City. He wore such unique clothes, I couldn't make out what he was about. Yet, there he was hurt. He was covered in wounds and seemed weak. Common sense had to ask what happened to him and where he got those injuries but I was still young and helpful, I just went to giving him first aid. While being treated, he kept muttering at something, almost angered at someone. That's when I witnessed some of his wounds were healing...all except the ones from under his eyes. I couldn't figure out how. But one day, I feel in love for him to the point where we threw adolescence out the window. He had such a...passion that was irresistible. Nine months later, you were born. Your father was never any happier than seeing you frolicking around the plains. Your passion for Pokémon was rather unmatched. That's when he told me that you had something inside that would protect a value no one else would try to obtain. Then, two years after your appearance...he left. He told me that he had unfinished business and wanted to keep you from trying to follow him."

This new information...Ash was led on false beliefs. "So this whole time, you devised an idea on my dad's wishes and said that he was out on a long Pokémon journey on his own when he knew that Queen Beryl was searching for him. He didn't want me to follow him and get caught in his scuffle." That about said it all. Ash would be angry at Delia for lying to him, but since his father wanted to keep Ash safe, all he could do was groan. The king cheated on the queen and settled with Delia for a better future. "The odd thing about this is that I understand why he didn't want me involved and that without meeting Mina, none of this would've happened." Meeting Mina set the stage for everything to unravel. The scouts became sympathetic to Ash.

"Well, that could explain the cool marks under Ash's eyes," Lita joked as she rubbed those marks.

"Well, just imagine if you didn't," Mina spoke. "I saw the look on Latoya's eyes. She was excited to see you once more." Ash's cheeks blushed red, embarrassed that he had more admirers than what he wanted to believe. Serena and Delia laughed at Ash's priceless face. Suddenly, there was a ring. A phone call? Ash got up and walked over to pick the receiver.

"Ketchum residence," he identified. "Ash here." That's when May came on the screen. Oh, boy. She was mad.

"What in the world are you doing back home, Ash?!" she bellowed in anger. She was jealous. "Making out with your superhero squad?" Wow. How did she know who else was there? Oh wait, they watched that battle on the monitor where a news helicopter viewed the scene. Max peered at the screen, noticing the bloodied bandages.

"Whoa, Ash!" he perked up. "Looks like you had a bit of a tough time in that battle we all saw." That's a light way of putting it. Ash chuckled, almost confident that he would bounce back.

"Don't worry about me, Max," he lightly snickered. "I'll be back in action in a month." Max believed that he would be alright, as well as May...for all the wrong reasons.

"Oh sure," she exaggerated. "And in the meantime, you'll be having sex with all those girls by your side, right?" Geez, how old did May think Ash was? Knowing how flustered May was, Ash had to ask the obvious.

"Since when did you ever care about what I've done?" May became befuddled. It was as if Ash sense the frustration she had with the whole scenario. May began to mellow. Deep breaths. There you go. "Besides, the reason I came here was the plot to kill my mom and I had to prevent it. Thankfully, I did with their help." Finally, it dawned on the brunette stuck in Hoenn. If keeping Delia alive was his made May look foolish.

"For some reason, I can't blame you for that action," she returned a more calmer tone. "I did see that conversation involving our moms and that your mom looks so much younger than mine." That was rather thoughtful to say. "So, you're sidelined for at least a month, huh? Seeing how bandaged that dominant shoulder of yours is, you may need some rehab to throw a Pokéball once again. By the way, nice muscular chest you've got." Tell that to Mina. She was all over that chest.

"Thanks. So, I'll be back with you guys in a month."

"Yeah and that way, you can explain how you got that mark removed." Well, not removed. More altered.

"You bet." Both gave their farewells and hung up.

"Guess she didn't seem too upset that since you told her why you're home," Serena studied. Raye let off a huge sigh. What for?

"If you could pay attention to a phone call, why couldn't you pay attention to your homework?!" she scowled. Wait...Serena wasn't paying attention in school? It may have been two completely different items but to say attention as the link, it did make sense. All Serena could do was balk at the allegation.

"Sounds like someone needs a tutor," Delia teased. Ash, Amy, Mina and Lita cackled at the failings of the head sailor scout.

"Can we first get Darrien before we discuss our futures?" Serena groaned. The rest of the day came by fast. Soon enough, the scouts had transported themselves home after making sure the Ketchum mother and son don't speak a word about their identities. It would be a few weeks before Ash was back in action. Still with that wounded arm, it never stopped Ash from trying to teach his Pokémon new attacks and abilities. Working through the pain, he was psyched to get back on the road with the rest of his traveling friends. Then, Ash was ready to resume. Thanks to connections, Ash got a few lifts and rides to return with Pikachu at his side. May, Max and Brock were glad to have Ash back in their corner. Then, something interesting happened one night. Ash couldn't sleep. Was it the pain from that battle? Was it the battle itself? He wandered away from camp and searched around. He reached a lake. Kneeling down, Ash splashed himself in the face. It's nighttime. He did not need to wet his head to stay awake. Maybe his face was irritated.

"Well, I was about to wake and tell you to come by the lake," spoke...Mina? With echoes? Ash was a bit spooked but turned to see...nothing? Ash heard a voice. Where did it come from?

"Mina?" Ash wondered. He continued to look, trying to find that voice. That's when he saw a cavern that emitted light. She had to be there. Ash entered the cavern and looked some more. That's when his eyes were covered.

"Gotcha!" There she was. Mina...what the heck? She wasn't in street clothes nor her sailor outfit...her normal sailor outfit. Ash looked to her, wearing the outfit of Sailor V. Tell you what, she didn't look half-bad in it.

"I thought you wore orange. What's up?" Mina giggled while she removed her oversized glasses.

"Well, the Dark Kingdom's no more and we're enjoying a little vacation. So I thought I come back to my hero and see how he's been doing." Nothing overdoing. She was just wondering about Ash's progress through his adventures.

"Well, I'm getting myself ready for the Evergrand Tournament in about a couple of weeks. Rest for me had been rather tight." Better not have said that. Mina's face became of a mischievous plot.

"You know, I think I know how I can help with that." How? She grasped Ash's shirt and peeled it off, exposing that chest and a scar above the shoulder where Malachite stabbed him. She clamped the shoulders and leaned in for to kiss him and lower him onto the ground. Now, Mina was mounted on Ash...and she wasn't about to release him. Outside, Pikachu came by the lake when he noticed that Ash was gone. He was searching when... "Wow. I don't know about your legendary dad but I think you've inherited that from him."

"What can I say?" Not much now. Pikachu heard Ash's voice echo from the cave and chose to sneak a peek. All he needed was one look...and he was shocked to see a little more of Ash than he would've wanted. All Pikachu could do after that would be to walk from the entrance and back to camp. Ash was safe with Mina there. That's...all he could ponder. Let's hope May doesn't notice.