Volume 6: Rise of the Shadow Dragon.

21 years ago

The spring afternoon was warm and breezy. Not a cloud could be seen in the sky as the brilliant greens of the gardens greeted Giovanni. The air was crisp and 'tasty' which caused him to heave a tranquil sigh. Having finished work early, he quietly approached a beautiful, young woman who slept soundly on a daybed in the shade of a willow tree. Seven months pregnant with their first child, she looked like an angel.

Oblivious to his silent approach, Giovanni watched her like this for several moments before gently placing a kiss on her forehead. She was his everything, his sole light in this darkened world. Yet even in her sleep, she shifted uncomfortably in his presence. There was a rift between them; he couldn't ignore the fact any longer. After finding out what he was capable of, she'd become afraid to even be around him. She feared him and his growing power, though no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to convince her that he would never hurt her.

A sketchbook that lay across her stomach slipped and Giovanni caught it before it hit the ground. The woman's hands were stained with pencil and he could clearly see that she'd spent the morning sketching again. This seemed to be the only thing she could find comfort in. She no longer worked on her research. Hell she hardly even wrote in her journal anymore.

Giovanni flicked though several drawings of Dratinis and other small Pokémon common the gardens - one of which slept soundly at her side. The young Meowth heaved a sleepy yawn when it noticed Giovanni's presence and he placed a finger to his lip to shush it.

A breeze blew several pages on the sketchbook and soon enough Giovanni found his eyes falling on a sketch of a Dragon so fierce it wasn't like any Pokémon he'd ever seen before. Deep, black eyes glared up at him from the page and a fanged snarl greeted him. It was long and almost serpent-like, with sharp, angular claws and scales. It appeared as if to be no part of this world, as its back half seemed to just fade into the paper. But what was of most interest was that it was missing a tooth.

Giovanni watched the picture for several seconds; intrigued and yet horrified that something so disturbing could possibly come from the mind of a woman so pure.

He closed the sketchbook and put it down it on the table beside them. Then finding a spot on the daybed, he sat down beside his wife and carefully placed a hand on her stomach. He felt the light kick of their daughter as; alerted by his presence she greeted him. She was strong like her father; active and lively she had already caused both of her parents many restless nights.

Giovanni had done everything in his power to make Aisha as comfortable as possible in these later stages of her pregnancy. He would stay up with her and walk with her when she couldn't sleep. Even as he watched her he couldn't help but feel peace. She was… beautiful.

It didn't take long for the woman to stir in his presence. She blinked in the afternoon sunlight and shifted under the weight of his hand.

"Giovanni," she whispered with a cracked voice.

"You've been having the nightmares again haven't you?" he said as-a-matter-of-factly and she followed his gaze to her sketchbook on the table.

A pained look soon fell over her face as she struggled to pull herself upright to sit beside him.

"You've been like this for weeks Aisha. I need you to talk to me," Giovanni continued.

"I'm worried," she replied.

"About the child?"

She was hesitant, her eyes falling to her feet and her hands gripping the edges of the daybed. "Giovanni, I don't worry about the things that an expecting mother should worry about. I don't worry about the health of the child or what to name her." She glimpsed him in the eyes, a face now fraught with concern. "I worry about her growing up in a world like this. I want to take her to the temple, Giovanni. For her to be trained and educated there in the ways of the Dragon Clan."

"Aisha…" Giovanni heaved a weary sigh, rubbing his temples with his forefinger and thumb. "We discussed this. I've already made an agreement with your mother, she will train her."

"I don't trust her."

"Your own mother?"

The fear in her eyes was soon replaced with a solemn glare. "I fear the path she's taking you down, Giovanni. She is driving a wedge between us, and she despises me because I fight her. I fight her because I don't want to lose you to that same darkness."

"You're making no sense Aisha. You won't lose me." It wasn't his intention but he was starting to get irritated at her. "But like it or not, Sa'lu is the best possible person to give her the training she needs for the things that are in store for her. It's not negotiable."

"You would rather bring her up as a clone of yourself and my mother? Do you know what she will become?"

"She will become what I need her to be."

"Sa'lu will use her to challenge the Dragon Temple."

"Don't be ridiculous!" Giovanni snarled with more force than he'd intended.

Suddenly hurt, Aisha had to look away, her eyes filling with tears. She swallowed before pulling herself to her feet and placing a protective hand over her stomach. There was coldness in her voice now as she faced him before walking away. "Then I fear this will be the death of me."

21 years later…. The same day Team Rocket took over the Goldenrod Radio Tower

The loud explosion rocked the ship, knocking everyone standing off their feet. A huge, blue monster burst from its metal prison, ripping the ship's hull like paper. With a mighty splash it hit the water only to disappear into the ocean's depths.

A red headed woman in Team Magma garb stepped up to the rail with a com on her ear and a wide smirk on her face. "This is Shelly," she spoke into the com. "The plan's a success."

Watching her from beneath his hood, Lance quietly stepped from his hiding spot in the shadows with his hands upon his hips.

"Bravo!" he copied her smirk.

The woman immediately jumped and spun to take him into her sights - a single Team Magma agent.

Lance continued, "I wouldn't expect any less for the strategic commander of Team Aqua. Nice work and nice disguise."

The look of startle on her face returned to her confident smirk as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Thanks. You're not exactly a Team Magma member yourself are you?"

"I'm only here to help," Lance replied with a smile. "I realise how important it is to release Kyogre to the sea. How else can it be controlled with the red orb?"

"That's right!" Shelly nodded. Unfazed by his presence, she quickly tore off her Team Magma disguise to reveal the scuba suit she wore underneath. "And very soon we shall have the power that allows Team Aqua to rule the world!"

Without taking a second glance, she clambered the rail and leapt.

Lance frowned as he watched her land feet first into the crashing waves, allowing the strong ocean swell to carry her away.

"Don't count on it," he replied in an undertone. "You may be powerful Team Aqua, but so am I."