Soul Guardians

Well here we are, people! Chapter 27! Now that Silver and Lorenzo are missing, Ash, Tia, Bianca and Tio have to rescue them! With the help off Misty and Brock, of course… I do have to say, though, when I named the Team Rockets the 'Darks' I was thinking of their uniform-which is all black apart from the red 'R'- and went from there. If anyone takes offense and wants me to change it, then I'll do it when PM'd or reviewed. I have to admit, this chapter is a little experimental for me.

When I started this FanFic, I wasn't looking for a true anime/manga sort of story; I wanted it to feel REAL… So that means injuries, blood, death… And then I realised, I couldn't write it. I understood it, I knew it; but I couldn't convey it. The closest I ever got was during the chapter revolving around the Pidgeot/Fearow war, and even then I glanced it over. This chapter, I decided I would write it true, while keeping in line with the story so far. If you don't like, say, and if more than half reviews say so I'll go back to usual. But, for now, please enjoy this chapter, and remember; R&R please!




Speech=Translated Pokespeech

(Speech)= My thought

Tio let out a roar of anger, as the Rocket dropship peeled off into the distance. He spun round to face Annie, and everyone there shivered as they saw his face.

You. What is it with you. You try to steal my sister, nearly killing me in the process. You try to steal Ash. You follow us to here, when you should be under arrest. It would be easier to simply rip your throat out here… Tio bared his teeth, a deep growl rising from his throat as Ash quickly darted in between them both. He raised his hands slowly, before speaking.

Tio, calm down..! W-We can't kill her we need to know where they're taking Silver and Lorenzo..! Tio twisted his head to the side, cracking his neck and spat.

And? If we had done with them before, this would never have happened! You're used to legends, Ash; yes, Legendaries are shown as placated and kindly. But we have teeth. And we protect that which is our own and kin. Ash blinked, while Bianca and Tia moved behind Annie to stop her escaping.

Wh-What..? Ash's eyes widened slightly, as Tio spoke again.

Remember the tales of ships lost with all hands..? Kyogre! Volcanoes consuming cities..? Groudon! Tidal storms drowning colonies-Lugia! Waters dried out from the sun-Ho-Oh! Airships struck by lightning-Zapdos! Blizzards burying towns-Articuno! We are able to kill, Ash! We don't, because many Pokémon would be exterminated for it; but we can… And no-one will miss her if we do her now. Rip her throat, or gut her; both are fast, simple, and we taste her flesh and blood. To feel and sense her die, Ash. That is what I want most. Tio darted forwards, pressing his forehead against Ash's. He pushed back, forcing Tio away- a time old rivalry of confronting males.

No! We do NOT kill her! We get answers, and hand her over to Officer Jenny! You were raised wild, Tio; I understand! But we can't kill her! We can't..! Tio pulled back, snarling.

Why not..? You give no straight answer! Your reasons are as human as you were raised; 'we can't because it's wrong!' is NOT accepted if you are a Pokémon! Do you get it?! Ash bowed his head, and was silent for a few seconds.

I understand… He drifted to the side, avoiding eye contact. Tio glared at him, baring his teeth and started to fly towards Annie.

I understand your mind is blunt with anger. Tio looked to the side, in time to take the full brunt of Ash's Dragon Claw attack. He cried out, as he flew backwards. Looking up, he snarled and charged his own Dragon Claw.

Challenge me, Ash..? I was raised wild; I know to fight. After you, I take Annie out. With a shout of anger, he charged at Ash, catching him by surprise. His attack slashed into Ash's ribs, before causing him to break clean through a tree. He hit the ground hard, crying out. Tears darted to his eyes, as Tio slammed him into the ground over and over with Psychic.

You fight me! You defend her! Are you with us, or Team Rocket, Ash?! Tia shook her head, before tackling Tio away from Ash, breaking his concentration. Ash slumped to the floor, groaning. He was covered with bruises and scrapes, and weakly lifted his head.

No, stop! T-Tio, please, don't hurt him anymore..! P-Please..?! Tio glared down at Tia, before his eyes flickered. She noticed his arm was raised, with a Dragon Claw; the tips of his claws inches away from her head. Her eyes widened, before she froze.

T-Tia..? I… I'm sorry… His claws slowly shrank down, returning to their usual size and he lowered his arm.

I… I was so angry… I wasn't thinking… Just… Forgive me… Tia slowly floated backwards, before settling next to Ash. She gently nuzzled him, licking his cheek. Ash smiled at her, before levitating with a grimace.

"Oh, Arceus, k-keep it away… K-Keep it away..! I-I'll talk, j-just… D-Don't leave me alone w-with that… Thing… There..!" Annie's voice startled them all; in the chaos they'd forgotten about her. As they looked over, they saw that she was curled up, trying to get further away from Tio. Tio's eyes widened, before he closed them and shook his head.

I… I'm a danger… I got so angry… And… L-Look what I did… Ash tried to help… And I wouldn't listen… I-It was stupid, and… I'm a threat… To you all… I-I need to leave… He turned around, speeding away from them. Within a few seconds, Bianca tackled him to the floor.

Where do you think you're going..? We need you Tio. He struggled to pull away, but Bianca grabbed his wings. As she pulled them, Tio dropped to the floor as he lost most of his levitating stability.

I'm not a help, I'm a liability… Bianca shook her head, sighing.

Tio, you made a mistake. We all do… And… They'll forgive you. You'll see. But, why did you fight Ash..? Tio rested his head on the floor, sighing again. When he finally spoke, his voice was sad, and resigned.

We're both males, Bianca… We get on, but we're still rivals. Since it used to be just me and Tia, I naturally fell into the role of Alpha male. When Ash joined, he wasn't a threat, so… I wasn't thinking of fighting. But since he's gotten stronger, and claimed Tia… I've been seeing him as a threat. And… In the heat of the moment, I just tried to assert myself as superior… Bianca sighed, gently nuzzling Tio's cheek. She let go of his wings, and levitated away. Tio slowly floated upwards as well, watching Bianca.

Tio, it doesn't matter. Tia will understand, and I do. And I can promise you that Ash will, when you explain it to him. OK? Tio nodded slightly, bowing his head and folding his ears back. Bianca gently nuzzled his neck, before wincing slightly. Tio looked to her worriedly.

Are you OK..? Bianca nodded, gently rubbing her stomach with a hand.

They're kicking… I-It tickles..! Bianca gently laughed, before leaning forwards to nuzzle her stomach. Tio smiled, before licking the tip of her snout.

Thanks for talking to me, Bianca… Me and Ash were raised so differently, our views conflict violently. He smiled at Bianca's blush, before they both flew back towards Ash and Tia. As they entered the clearing, Tia growled a warning at Tio. Ash shook his head and Tia pulled backwards, watching Tio. He sighed, before looking at Ash.

Are you OK, Ash..? I-I'm sorry about what I did… I was so mad about Annie, and Silver and Lorenzo I turned on you as an outlet… Ash levitated, leaning on Tia slightly. He floated forwards, before shaking his head at Tio.

You don't have to apologise… I understand. I mean, we're bound to clash, right? Being brothers, it's natural we argue and fight. Tio blinked, before slowly nodding. He offered a hand to Ash, who smiled as he took it. The two of them shook, while Tia slung Annie onto the floor in front of them.

OK, so we're all friends again now. So, to get answers..? Ash shrugged before looking at Tio.

Tio, you're the most experienced here. What can we do? Tio frowned, before nodding at Annie.

Short of torture, we can just rip what we need from her mind and memory… It'll be a few minutes though. Tio picked Annie up, before flying behind several trees. After a few seconds, a loud, piercing scream rang out. Ash and Bianca shuddered, while Tia simply nodded in satisfaction. Several minutes passed, with only the sound of trees waving in the wind and Pokémon scurrying past occasionally breaking the silence.

How much longer do you think he'll be, huh..? Bianca broke the silence, looking at the trees. She had settled on her side, gently resting a hand over her stomach. Every now and again, a small smile crossed her face as her children moved around inside her. Tia glanced down at her, before shrugging. She had removed the Eggs from the bag, and was slowly rubbing them with a hand.

I don't know. Normally, I wouldn't mind but Team Rocket has messed up our lives so much… I can't help but feel like it would be good if she was in so much pain, she couldn't even cry out… Ash's ears flicked backwards, as he looked back at the two girls. He sighed, before stretching.

I don't know what to think, personally… I admit, I dislike Team Rocket a lot… But it still seems strange, to want them to suffer… I guess I do still think like a human too much, huh Tia..? Tia gently nuzzled Ash, before smiling at him.

That humanity is what helped me fall for you, Ash… Even as a human you were selfless, uncaring about self-injury when helping others… I was a complete stranger, and you didn't know I was a Pokémon, but you still helped me. Ash nodded, smiling back at her. He levitated slightly, before shifting and sitting down, legs crossed. Tia laid down in his lap, head curled around to lay next to the Eggs. He gently placed a hand over them, smiling as he felt small movements from within.

"Of course I did, Tia… I admit, I did it because I wanted to help… But there was also a sense of something… Looking back, I suppose I could say that I knew from the start that I loved you…" Tia crooned gently, as Ash stroked the back of her neck. There was a rustle from the treeline, as Tio stepped out. Annie was slumped over his shoulder, and her eyes were closed. Tio looked around, before sighing.

She's unconscious. I pushed too far and too hard for her mind to cope. She'll wake up in about two hours. We drop her at the Police Station, and then get Brock and Misty. We need to work together to rescue Lorenzo and Silver. Bianca looked up at him, nodding.

OK… Where's their base? Tio shuddered, before turning to look to the west. He pointed that way, and spoke with a heavy voice.

That way… In the heart… Of Mt. Silver. That is where their base lies, and where Lorenzo and Silver are being taken. Bianca gasped, while Tia whined. Ash looked around at the others, before speaking.

Mt. Silver? Isn't that where the League is being held..? Tio nodded, before answering.

Yes, but it's worse than that. The League takes place at the base of Mt. Silver. Team Rocket's base is in the heart of the mountain; deep inside, and with only one entrance. There's many tough, hardy Pokémon up there. Most Legendaries avoid it though… The more spiritual ones know of a ghost, a wraith… It haunts the peak of the mountain, and challenges lost souls to battles. Then, it either leaves with a loss or takes the opponent to safety with a win… Ash nodded, as he looked at the mountain. After hearing of the ghost, it seemed less awesome and inspiring, and rather fearful and destructive… And somehow, Team Rocket had gotten a secret base into it.

We need to get the others. Brock and Misty will be a big help, if we end up in a fight. Tia spoke up, looking back towards Blackthorn. Bianca nodded, still staring at Mt. Silver.

Yeah. We need as much help as possible if we're going to rescue Silver and Grandpa… Tio nodded, as the others levitated upwards. Their faces were set, and it was plain to see that they would stop at nothing. Tio slung Annie onto his back, before the four of them sped off towards Blackthorn. As they flew through the forest, Tio drifted closer to Ash.

Ash, about earlier… Really, I'm sorry… I didn't mean to snap at you like that… Ash shook his head, looking at Tio as they flew onwards.

It's fine. I understand it, Tio. You've been through a lot, and you hate what's happened-and whoever caused it. And when they took Silver and Lorenzo, and forced that choice on you… Let them escape, or choose who lives… It was too much. Tio spent several seconds in silence, contemplating this.

So, what you say is… It was too much..? I couldn't take the stress, and took it out on the first thing to confront me… Tio nodded, before continuing. I get it now. Thank you Ash… It's helped, that I could talk to you… Ash grinned, as he weaved through a cluster of trees.

It's no problem, Tio. I'm glad I could help. The four of them slowed slightly, as they drew near the edge of the trees. Apart from Tio, they all landed on the path. As the three of them assumed their human forms once again, Tio simply turned invisible.

I'll drop Annie at the Police Station and meet you all back here, OK? Ash, Tia and Bianca nodded, before turning to each other.

"We need to get Brock and Misty. We know where they are, but who gets who?" Bianca asked. Ash looked at them both, before pointing to the south of the City.

"I'll go down to the river. Misty's there with Electra, and we need them both. Since Brock's in the market area, you two should go get him; you might need to drag him away from any women there…" Ash explained. Bianca and Tia nodded, before running towards the market area. Ash faced Tio, before nodding his head towards Annie.

"When you say you'll drop her off… You actually meant drop her, didn't you?" Tio laughed slightly, before using Annie's arm to point towards the City.

Eh, she's not gonna be badly injured… I was gonna drop her on the roof… Ash grinned, before starting to walk into the City. He called back over his shoulder, before he began to run.

"Make sure she lands on the right building, at least then! We'll be back soon!" Ash sped off towards the City, quickly covering the ground he'd lost to the girls when they left. He soon passed them by, only to have Annie zoom past him as Tio flew her towards the Police Station. As Tio flew towards the heart of the City, Ash peeled off towards the southern side. Bianca and Tia, upon reaching the city, headed towards the western quarter. As the four of them split up, they all focussed on their task, knowing that time was of the essence; who knew what Team Rocket was doing right now to Silver and Lorenzo..?

(With Lorenzo and Silver, Unknown location inside Mt. Silver base)

Lorenzo groaned, as his eyes slowly opened. He placed a palm against his forehead, as the first poundings of a headache made their self-known immediately. He sat up, looking around himself. The room he was in was a granite grey colour, and had a rough texture as his hand brushed it. He paused, checking again.

"This IS granite… So, I'm underground…" He looked up at the ceiling, wincing as his eyes were blasted by the light of a single, unshaded light bulb. He looked down again, realising just how dry and sore his throat was. He coughed, before spotting a door. As he stepped towards it, he felt something soft underneath his foot. A yelp rang out from behind him, and Lorenzo spun round to see Silver. As he looked down, he saw that he'd trodden on Silver's tail.

"Sorry, Silver… I didn't see your tai-Whoa!" Lorenzo's apology was cut short as Silver's tail jerked upwards, wrapping around his waist and pulling him towards Silver. As soon as he was near enough, Silver wrapped his arms around Lorenzo and dealt several large licks to Lorenzo's face. Lorenzo finally got an arm free, pushing Silver's tongue away with a hand. Silver pulled back, revealing Lorenzo's face and hand now sodden with saliva.

-L-Lorenzo, you're awake..! I was worried about you…- Lorenzo dragged a hand down his face, scraping most of the viscous liquid away and shaking it onto the floor.

"I'm fine, Silver. No need to worry… But please, don't lick me like that again, OK?" Silver nodded happily, before looking at the door.

-A R-Rocket brought food a-and drink in earlier… I-It's in the corner.- Lorenzo nodded, smiling at Silver.

"OK… I need something to eat, and my throat is dry as a des-…ert…" Lorenzo's words trailed off as he saw what Silver classified as food and drink; a large heap of raw fish, still scaled, and a large container of milk. Silver walked over, before flipping a fish in the air and catching it in his mouth. He swallowed, before turning to Lorenzo.

- D-Don't you want anything..?- Lorenzo shook his head, turning to the door. He began to walk towards it as he spoke.

"No, thank you… Raw fish and milk isn't quite suited to me at this age, Silver…" Silver nodded as he started eating again.

-O-OK. I-I'm still hungry, though, so I'm gonna have s-some more…- Lorenzo nodded as he banged a fist on the door. He stood there only a few seconds before a metal grille slid open, revealing a pair of eyes glaring at him.

"What is it, mister?" The Grunt asked. Lorenzo pointed back towards where Silver had demolished roughly half of the fish and was now drinking the milk.

"That might be fit for a young Lugia, but I can't eat or drink it; raw fish isn't good, and honestly I can't stand milk… Do you have something else I can eat or drink?" The Grunt sighed, before looking away and closing the grille. Lorenzo heard muffled voices, and after a few minutes the grille opened again.

"We'll get some bread and water for you. Damn scientist thinks humans can live on the same stuff as Pokémon… Don't worry old timer, you're both important enough to get good meals." The grille slammed shut again, and the faint sound of footsteps receding into the distance came through the door. Lorenzo turned around, to see that the milk container was on its side and empty, while Silver was napping next to the remains of the fish.

"Sleeping..? At least you're tired and full enough to do that Silver…" Lorenzo walked over to Silver, sitting down so that his back was to the young Lugia's stomach. He tilted his head back, resting it against Silver's soft stomach, and closed his eyes. In a few minutes, the sound of Silver's breathing and the quietness around them had lured them both into a deep sleep.

Lorenzo sat up with a jolt, as the door slid open. A Grunt walked in, carrying a metal tray. He handed it to Lorenzo, who took it from him. He looked down to see it had a loaf of bread, and two litres of water in a bottle.

"Thank you for this." Lorenzo spoke; despite being a prisoner, he was still well-mannered enough to say thank you. The Grunt nodded, looking at the remnants of Silver's meal.

"Wow. Scientists under-estimated this little guys appetite… That was meant to last him a whole twenty-four hours… I'll get more brought down soon. When we come back, we'll take the tray as well." The Grunt left the room, closing the door. There followed the unmistakable, dry and clicking, sound of a key locking a door. Lorenzo lifted the loaf, sighing as he tore it in half.

"Well, it's dry… but more than I was expecting… I wonder why they've decided to take this much care of me… It's Silver they wanted, after all-… Of course..! If they have me, then they can keep Bianca and the others away, so that this place stays safe…" He bit into the bread, tearing a mouthful free. After a few moments of chewing it, he swallowed before nodding to himself.

"If I'm used to keep the others away… They have more time to do whatever they want Silver for… Which can't be good, no matter what they say. So a priority is to either get the others here to rescue us, or we escape…" Lorenzo sighed as he opened the water. Soon after he drank some, Silver woke up sniffing.

-W-Water..? Are we free, L-Lorenzo..?- Lorenzo shook his head, sighing.

"Sorry, Silver… I just opened a bottle of water I had-… You can smell water..?" Silver nodded, as he shifted so his head lay next to Lorenzo. He looked up at him as he replied, nose still twitching slightly.

-Y-Yeah… I-It's a way to find the sea if I get l-lost… I can track th-the water's location.- Lorenzo nodded, capping the water slowly as he thought an idea through.

"Silver… When that door opens, can you see if you can smell water?" Silver nodded, as he frowned in confusion.

-Y-Yeah, I can… B-But why, Lorenzo..?- Lorenzo smiled, as he pointed at the bottle.

"This water isn't labelled. It's bottled somewhere in this facility. So, either they've got a water collector for rain water…" Silver's eyes brightened as he finished Lorenzo's idea.

-O-Or they've got a fresh w-water supply..! We can get out..!- Lorenzo nodded, as he rubbed Silver's neck. Silver smiled slightly, as he nuzzled Lorenzo.

"We just have to hope there isn't any grating or filtration systems in the supply itself… I doubt I can hold my breath as long as you can hold yours, Silver." Silver nodded, frowning slightly.

-I-I could go ahead, see wh-what it's like…- Lorenzo sighed and shook his head slightly.

"No good, sorry Silver… I'd probably get caught waiting… If we DO break out, we've got to be fast." Silver nodded, slightly, as his tongue licked up a splash of water from Lorenzo's hand. He blinked, before telepathing Lorenzo.

-I taste salt, and… metal… stone… soil…- Lorenzo blinked, surprised by Silver's knowledge.

"You get all that from the drop of water..?" Silver nodded, grinning.

-Yep! D-daddy told me about it… A-Apparently, L-Lugia can taste the… ions..? in water… W-We can tell where it came from.- Lorenzo nodded, tapping his chin. He uncapped the bottle again, turning to face Silver.

"Open your mouth." Silver did, exposing his teeth; sharp fangs, designed to break scales and bone. His tongue lay flat, but it still twitched every few seconds. Lorenzo reached his arm into Silver's mouth, and tipped some water into it. He pulled his arm out, as Silver closed his mouth. He swallowed after a few seconds, before standing. He leaned over, licking the wall and leaving a damp streak.

-I-It's this stone…- He stepped closer, and licked the door, leaving another damp streak on it too.

-A-And this metal… B-But I can't place the soil… It's… Hard, and full of stone and tree…- Lorenzo frowned, looking up at the ceiling.

"Stone and bark..? Soil containing bark is in a lot of places, but stone..? That's normally near rocky or mountainous areas. If we're underground, and it's the same rock as this room… Which is granite… We're inside a mountain, Silver..!" Silver nodded excitedly, and looked at the door.

-S-So we can escape, then..? If I s-smell water..?- Lorenzo nodded, before pausing.

"The metal you tasted… It shouldn't be there if it's like the door… So there's a grate over its entrance, and possibly the overflow… But salt..?" Silver nodded, licking his lips.

-Y-Yeah… The salt is because the s-stone is salty… A-And salt washes off…- Silver scraped his nose against the wall in several places, until a small amount of white powder drifted down from the wall.

-S-See..? Salt. S-So, this area must have b-been submerged… Or had a w-water flow in it before… Th-The salt is where water dried up.- Lorenzo nodded again before asking another question.

"So, is it salt water, or just salty?" Silver frowned slightly, before answering.

-J-Just salty. S-Salt water would taste different, it has d-different plants and P-Pokémon than fresh water… A-And we c-couldn't be below sea water, the r-roof would leak…- Lorenzo nodded, when suddenly the door opened. Silver immediately sniffed the air, before a couple of grunts dragging in a large sack and container of milk, filling the air with the scent of fish. They left the supplies near the remains of Silver's previous meal, and one Grunt lifted the tray from Lorenzo's lap.

"We'll bring another meal in five hours, grandpa. Hold tight till then." The door shut, and once more it was locked, before Lorenzo turned to Silver.

"Anything then..?" Silver's eyes were closed, and he was mumbling something under his breath. Lorenzo didn't bother listening in, he wouldn't be able to understand anyway. Finally, Silver's eyes opened and he grinned.

-F-Fresh water, running. I-I could hear s-some sort of m-machine… M-Maybe a purifier..?- Lorenzo shook his head slightly, looking at the door.

"I don't know… It could be, but then again they mentioned scientists earlier… So this must be a research lab, then. Which means they can have any amount of machinery that generates noise in this place. It could be a purifier, but most likely it's some other mechanical equipment." Silver nodded, rubbing a wing over his nose.

-O-OK. But then, we h-have a way out right..? S-So, when they open the door, w-we could break out..?- Lorenzo nodded, before rubbing Silver's head.

"Most likely. But then again, it depends… If we wait, and your nose is good enough, we can tell which way it came from; so we'd know whether to go left or right. But we could get out straight away, and you could sniff out which direction to go from there." Silver nodded, smiling broadly.

-Y-Yeah..! We can do th-that..! I can smell a way out using th-the water..!- Lorenzo smiled back at Silver, before drinking from the bottle of water again. After several mouthfuls, he capped it and nodded at the door.

"We make a break for it when the door next opens, OK? That's five hours to get ready. We should probably eat and drink, though. We don't know where the closest source of food and water is from here, and it would be too dangerous to stay near here and spot it before leaving. We'll have to swim away as soon as possible, and as far as possible…" Lorenzo picked up the bread and began to eat, while Silver began to eat the fresh pile of fish. Both of them were nervous, but excited as well; they were ready, they had a plan, and they knew exactly what to do when the door opened. As they finished their meal, they settled down to wait.

(Four hours, fifty-nine minutes later)

Silver looked at Lorenzo, who smiled reassuringly. He looked at the door, when a though occurred to him.

"Silver..? What attacks do you know..?" Silver blinked before running his tongue over his feathers.

-I-I know… Weather Ball, R-Rain Dance, Extrasensory a-and Whirlwind… Wh-Why do you want to know, L-Lorenzo?- Lorenzo simply grinned, as the sound of the door unlocking came to them.

"When they open that door, use Whirlwind." Silver nodded, as the door slid open. A Grunt stepped into the room-and immediately shot out of the door again with a scream, as Silver flapped his wings and summoned a large Whirlwind which sped into the corridor. The powerful gusts of wind swept along the corridor, forcing the Grunts back. Silver and Lorenzo ran into the corridor as the Whirlwind dissipated, looking around. Silver sniffed the air, before turning to the right.

-I-I smell water, d-down here!- Silver took of down the corridor at a slow pace; it was designed for humans, and Silver had to stoop low.

"It's a good job they had to carry you down here, huh, Silver..? Otherwise, this corridor… Would be too small for you to fit…" Lorenzo gasped; his old age wasn't exactly best suited to escaping from buildings. Silver glanced under his wing, back at Lorenzo.

-D-Do you want to r-ride on my back..?- Lorenzo shook his head, as they kept running. Ahead, he could just make out another T-junction in the way.

"I'm fine… Which way, Silver..? Left or right..?" Silver sniffed at the air again, looking left and right. He paused, and rubbed at his nose with a wing.

-I… I d-don't know… Th-The scent's gone…- Silver frowned and turned around, sniffing the air. He glanced up at the ceiling, and his eyes widened.

-Uh-Uh Oh…- Lorenzo looked at where Silver was staring, and his heart sank; there was an air vent there. Silver pressed his nose against the vent, sniffing the air. He pulled back, looking nervously around.

-Th-The scent's coming from th-this… I-I don't know wh-where to go from here... S-Sorry, Lorenzo…- Lorenzo sighed, resting a hand on Silver's back as the Diving Pokémon sniffed, eyes tearing up.

-I-I-I w-wanted to help… E-Escape… B-But, I… O-Only got us in d-deeper trouble…- Silver sniffed again, as a tear rolled down his cheek. Lorenzo sighed, stepping around to look Silver in the eyes. The young Lugia blinked another tear from his eyes, and shook his head.

"Silver, it wasn't your fault… We didn't realise there would be vents… But don't cry OK..? We can still get out of here… But you need to listen to me, OK..?" Silver sniffed again, rubbing his left wing over his eyes. He looked down at Lorenzo, smiling slightly.

-O-OK… I will… Th-Thank you Lorenzo…- Lorenzo smiled, as he rubbed Silver's head gently. He looked up at the ceiling, as an idea crossed his mind.

"Silver, if you use Rain Dance, will it be in this corridor, or out in the open?" Silver looked up, before looking at Lorenzo again.

-I-It will make a large storm ou-outside this place... Wh-Why's that, Lorenzo..?- Lorenzo grinned, rapping a fist against the wall.

"This place is underground, right? So, there'll be stairs and lifts. If water always flows downhill, then we can simply follow it upwards, and get out of here." Silver nodded excitedly, dealing a large lick to Lorenzo's face.

-Th-That's a great idea..! B-But there's not enough room h-here, Lorenzo…- Lorenzo nodded, turning around and looking back the way that they had come from as he dragged a hand over his face, clearing of the saliva tha clung to him.

"That room we were in, Silver… Did that place have enough room in it?" Silver thought for a few seconds, before nodding.

-Y-Yeah, it did..!- Silver grabbed the back of Lorenzo's shirt, and started to run towards the room again, after placing Lorenzo on his back. They quickly entered the room again, where Lorenzo slid off of Silver's back and to the floor. He backed away to the wall, while Silver took a deep breath.

(For when Silver hums the song below, there'll be a link in my profile for it.)

-O-OK… I-I'm gonna use Rain Dance…- Silver took several deep breaths, before a deep, reverberating note emerged from his throat. He started to croon a slow, haunting melody as his head weaved from side to side. His body slowly began to sway, and he raised his arms to his side. The tune he was humming slowly picked up in pace and beat, while he began to move from side to side. His head raised up as his arms began to slowly wave, and he began a slow, pacing dance. As Lorenzo watched, a deep blue aura formed around Silver. His eyes began to glow as well, and a deep reverberation sounded from above.

"What… Was that..?" Silver began to dance faster, and his head snapped up. He froze in place, and his mouth opened up. Suddenly a deep, angered roar spilt forth from his mouth, causing Lorenzo to step back in shock. The roar ceased after what seemed like several minutes, and Silver slowly closed his mouth. He stood there for several seconds, before relaxing. The aura faded from around him, and he stood there panting.

"Silver..? Are you OK..?" Silver nodded, as he looked up.

-It'll be here soon…- Lorenzo blinked in confusion. Before he could ask what Silver was talking about an extremely faint, rumbling boom shook the room. Silver's eyes widened, as he placed a wing over his mouth.

-I-I didn't mean to m-make such a big storm… Oh d-dear…- Lorenzo gulped, when the door shot open to reveal several grunts with Pokémon ready to battle. He stepped back, as Silver lowered his head to eye level with the Grunts.

-L-Lorenzo..? I d-don't know if the storm is s-safe… I-I don't think I can c-control it…- Lorenzo sighed, and patted Silver's side.

"Relax… Let's deal with one problem at a time, OK?" He pointed at the Pokémon, feeling that long-lost rush of excitement; he'd missed battling Pokémon over the years, and now he was doing it again.

"Silver, use Extrasensory."

(Outside Rocket Base, with the others)

Ash looked back at Misty. She was sat on his back, eyes wide with fear. He drifted over to Tia, who was watching the growing storm over Mt. Silver.

What is that..!? Ash called out to her. Tia looked at him, before shaking her head sadly.

I don't know, but it isn't good..! We can fly through it, and a lightning strike won't do more than daze us, but Brock, Misty and the Eggs might be seriously harmed..! Ash nodded, when Tio and Bianca flew over. Brock was riding on Tio, and he shouted over to them through the howling winds.

"This storm came up out of no-where, Ash..! It's too dangerous; if you or Tio get hit, then it could knock Misty off of you or me off of Tio..! It's worse because this lightning could arc!" Tio called out as well, as a blast of lightning speared from the clouds towards them, making Bianca dive away.

He's right; we'll have to go in low! So far it isn't bad, but if it starts raining, we'll be living lightning rods! And unlike the Pokémon with the ability, we're screwed if hit while wet! Think of when you leave a steak on a barbeque for too high a temperature, but too little time! Ash frowned, shrugging.

No idea, Tio. What's that like? Tio sighed, as an ominous rumbling heralded a sudden downpour. As rain ran down their feathers, he looked Ash in the eyes.

Burnt, charred and blackened on the outside, raw and bleeding inside. The lightning will cook us in our skins if we're hit! Ash gulped, as several flashes of lightning struck the mountain ahead of them. The three of them dove down towards Bianca, staying just above the trees. Ash looked up again, to see the storm clouds.

It doesn't look good up there… Tio looked up as well; the sky was dark, and the clouds were a mixture of black and grey, an angry mix that showed the potency of the storm.

This isn't natural, Ash..! Look at it; it's centred on the mountain. Silver must be summoning it to mark his locati-AGH! Tio threw himself to the side, as a bolt of blue electricity struck the tree he was above. The tree glowed white for half a second, before exploding into fiery wooden chips. Several of them pattered off of the Eons, and Misty cried out as a splinter embedded in her hand. Ash gulped, before his eyes widened.

Tio! Look; what's that!? He pointed towards a place on the mountain; what looked like a large, deep crater was rapidly filling with water, and something metallic glinted there. Tio frowned, before Bianca spoke out.

That's a door, isn't it..? Why is it there? Shouldn't it be more hidden..? Nature-or, rather, chaotic nature- answered Bianca's question. A lightning bolt struck the door, causing it to glow and sizzle in the rain, blowing a large chunk of rock away from the mountain around it. The four of them sped towards it, halting at the crater's edge. Tia pointed towards the door, crying out.

Oh no..! Someone's opening it..! Ash stared, as a rounded handle in the middle of the door turned. There was a second of nothing; even the storm held its breath for the moment. Then, with a slurping, sucking sound, the door was forced inwards. Within seconds, the half-filled crater was draining into the Rocket base, air bubbles ripping free, along with grunts and Pokémon that would surface, only to be pulled under again.

Oh, no… G-Grandfather..! Bianca called out, tearing forwards. Tio shook Brock to the floor, and darted after Bianca. He tackled her away from the door, just as she started to dive in.

NO! Let me go..! W-We have to save him..! Bianca struggled against Tio's hold, tears mingling with the rain as they dripped down her cheeks. Tio gently held her, stroking her back.

Bianca, we need to be careful… We might get trapped in there, and we can't breathe underwater… OK..? Bianca fought for a few more seconds, before going limp.

OK… OK… I-I'm sorry, Tio… Tio gently let her go, nodding slowly.

It's fine, Bianca… They both turned around as a wet glug came from behind and below them; the last few air bubbles escaped, before the base finally stopped taking water in. Slowly, the water level of the crater began to rise again.

It's stopped, Bianca… We can go now. BUT, we are VERY careful… I don't want to lose you, OK? Bianca nodded, looking in horror at the drowned Rocket base. Somewhere inside, Lorenzo and Silver were trapped… She looked up, sniffing slightly. Suddenly, a lightning bolt shot from the sky and slammed into her. Dozens of electric blue arcs caressed her body, as she spasmed. A single scream tore itself free of her throat, before the electricity darted from her into the water. Some sprang across to Tio, but he ignored them as he grabbed Bianca's arms. Bianca sagged against Tio, as her eyes closed.

B… Bianca..? Bianca, don't… N-No… Tio levitated for a few moments, mumbling and gently shaking her. He could hear her breathing, but it was ragged and slow. Common sense regained a foothold, and he turned around, dashing towards the others. As he arrived, he saw looks of horror and shock on their faces, while Brock ran over, standing next to her and clearing the leaf litter from the ground.

"Tio, put her down! I need to look at her!" Tio nodded slowly, gently setting Bianca on the floor. He floated there, until Brock pushed him away gently. He offered no resistance, simply moving with the push.

I… I couldn't do a thing… I couldn't help her… I… I could only watch… I-I'm useless… I can't protect Tia from Team Rocket without almost dying, I can't protect Bianca without HER almost dying… I-I can't do anything… He blinked, as he laid next to Bianca. He gently nosed his head under her arm, gulping as it limply fell to the floor again.

B-Bianca… Please, don't go… I-I need you… WE need you… Ash, Tia and Misty backed away, giving Tio and Brock space. They settled down a few feet away, where Ash and Tia shifted back to human form. Misty wrapped her arms around Togepi even tighter; she was shaking, and not just from cold.

"I… I… I can't believe it…" She whispered, more to herself than the others. Togepi turned to face her, and gently placed his arms against her stomach; it was the best hug he could give to her.

M-Mommy… Don't cry… Please… Ash rubbed a hand over his face, before punching the floor.

"Damn it, we can't do a thing… And… Bianca's pregnant still…" Tia stayed silent, before sighing. She stood and shifted again, handing the backpack containing the Eggs to Misty.

If anything happens to them, I'm taking you underwater with me Misty… She turned to Ash, slowly offering her hand to him.

We… Need to do it. Tio's too distraught, and if Bianca… If Bianca… Lorenzo needs to be here just in case, and Silver… He was closest to her… They both need to be here… Ash nodded, taking her hand. Tia pulled him up to his feet, where he shifted. They slowly flew out over the crater, where they embraced each other.

Ash… I-If we… don't get out… I love you… Ash sighed, shaking his head.

You'll get out, Tia… No matter what I have to do, I'll get you out first, OK? So, no… If I don't get out… I love you, Tia… The two of them kissed, a short sweet one that lasted no more than a few seconds; and then they pulled apart, and smoothly dived into the Rocket base.

Within seconds of entering the flooded shaft, they stopped next to a lift. Ash charged a Dragon Claw, and tore it open. A rush of bubbles shot past them, and Ash quickly used Psychic to grab two large ones; and placed them around his and Tia's mouth. They drew in a breath, before staring at each other; on the air they could taste the fear and panic of people and Pokémon.

-Not everyone made it out of there Tia… Do you want to go back..?- Tia hesitated, before entering the lift. She head-butted the base of it, until a panel fell out of the floor. They could see it slowly drifting downwards, towards the bottom of the shaft. She quickly tore a larger hole, before diving into it.

-Does this answer your question?- Ash smiled slightly, before following her. The two of them swam deeper, before reaching the base of the lift shaft. The corridor was pitch black, and they could only see a few inches ahead. Motion behind them made them look, as a Staryu and Starmie floated behind them.

Misty sent us to help.

Where do you need us.

Ash and Tia smiled at them, as they spoke. Despite being so different, the voices were identical. Even speaking one at a time, they couldn't tell which one was which.

-At the front, please… Can you glow?-The Starmie moved ahead of Tia, before emitting a bright glow. The Staryu did the same for Ash, and the four of them swam onwards. After a while, the group reached a T-junction. Ash and Tia looked at each other, before sighing.

-I'll take the right path.-Ash said. As far as he could tell, the right hand way went deeper while the left hand path didn't change depth at all. Tia nodded, before nuzzling him.

-Take care, Ash…-Ash smiled, and traced the tips of his claws gently down her cheek in a loving gesture.

-And you…-Ash and the Staryu headed right, while Tia went left with the Starmie. Ash swam along, conscious of the receding glow behind him. As he swam, he noticed doors; some were open, and full of shadow. Ash turned away if he thought he saw shapes in the room. Some were closed; most were drowned rooms anyway, but rarely one would have a sealed microclimate in them. The lights still didn't work, though; the generators were flooded. Ash tried to ignore the moments when something shouted out, and pounded the door; it was never Silver or Lorenzo.

We should take care of them, Ash. I think it's kinder to break the door, rather than starve them. Ash glanced at the Staryu, then away; its light was filling a canteen, and there were dozens of shapes floating about.

-What do you mean? It sounds horrible…-Ash moved around a corner, seeing air bubbling out of a vent near the roof. The bubbles were collecting on the ceiling, and a large pocket of air was gathered there. He angled upwards, pushing his lead into it and drawing in a few deep breaths. He quickly sealed a new pocket of air around his mouth, and dived under again, continuing the search.

It's simple; it takes weeks to starve, Ash, but only minutes to be claimed by the sea… Don't we spare them suffering? Ash was silent for a while; he simply swam on with the Staryu. After reaching a dead end; the water had rushed in so powerfully it had torn doors free, and they had stuck in a stairwell, blocking all access; they turned back. Ash finally answered, carefully considering words.

-It might be… Less painful… But, the rooms are sealed… So won't they choke..? Lack of air causes you to pass out, right? So, they'll just… go to sleep…-The Staryu was silent, to, until they entered a new passageway. It turned slightly to see a Grunt pounding on the door, screaming something they couldn't hear.

Perhaps… But the fear before then is so much. It's odd, isn't it..? Two Pokémon discussing humane treatment for what most of us consider sub-human... The Staryu drifted over, its glow filling the room. Beyond the Grunt was another one, a woman; she had a bandaged arm and was slumped against the wall. Ash drifted over, his hearing just making out words.

"P-Please..! Help my wife..! Forget me, but get my wife out..!" Ash looked around, sighing. He shook his head slowly, before scratching a claw over the glass. Carefully, he wrote out a message for the Grunt. Staryu read it aloud, as the hope drained from the Grunts face.

We can't… We're too far under water now. You'd all drown before we get halfway, and even then, you'll be killed by my brother. If you stay here, you'll just fall asleep… It's kinder to do this. I'm sorry. Staryu floated there, before facing Ash. It bowed to him, before turning and carrying on the search.

I… Understand now, Ash. Your decision makes no sense to me, because I live under water… But, these humans can't… I cannot imagine drowning, but it must be similar to when a fish is stranded out of water… Lungs filling up, yet unable to get oxygen… You're sparing them, when I would have doomed them. The Staryu's glow dimmed momentarily, a manner of showing sadness, or self-disappointment.

-Staryu, we all make mistakes… Yours was simple. I could see your points, and they made sense. But I know the fear of drowning, remember? Of being trapped, with no way out but through water too deep… That day, when the S.S. Anne sank… It took you, Starmie and Squirtle to rescue us… We still owe you our gratitude, Staryu.- Staryu nodded, as they finally reached another sealed room. This one had a slow trickle of bubbles running from the top of the door where it was buckled, and the grille in the door was open-but no air was flowing through it.

There must be very little air in there, Ash. There's no bubbles from the grille. Ash nodded, and turned away.

-I can't stomach anymore Grunts or Pokémon who were too late… Let's go-…- Ash froze, as a familiar voice rang through his mind.

-H-Hello..? I-Is anyone out there..? W-We need help..!- Ash spun around, as Silver called out to him. He swam up to the grille, looking through it, but was unable to see anything but a solid while wall.

-S-Silver? Are you there?!- Ash shouted. The wall shuddered slightly, and Silver's head dipped into view. He looked at Ash, before grinning at him.

-I-I knew someone would come..! H-Hurry, Ash… L-Lorenzo's running out of air..!- Ash gulped, before trying the door. But the buckled shape wedged it in the frame, and Ash's movements only dislodged more precious air. He pulled back, glancing around frantically.

-I might have an idea, but you won't like it… I need to seal the door. Once that's done, I can fill it with air…- There was a moment of silence as Silver presumably relayed the information to Lorenzo, before replying.

-O-OK. D-Do it. I'm keeping Lorenzo above the water, but there's barely any air left for us…- Ash didn't reply, he simply placed his hands against the top of the door. He gritted his teeth, before pushing as hard as he could. The metal bent slightly, but a sharp crack rang through the water, stabbing painfully into Ash's ears. Tia telepathed him almost immediately afterwards, her voice filled with worry.

-A-Ash..? Are you OK..?!- Ash shook his head, when he suddenly remembered something.

-Tia, you know Ice Beam right..? I need you to come here. I found Lorenzo and Silver. But we need to get them air, and soon. If you seal the door with ice, then we can simply use Psychic to pull air bubbles down and into the room, right?- Tia was silent, before replying to his question.

-I-It makes sense, but I need to get there… If you start getting some sort of air down there, I'll see what I can do.- Ash grinned, before looking around.

-Got it. I'll see what I can do Tia. Good luck; oh yeah, and there's an air pocket on your way. You can grab some fresh air there.- Ash didn't wait for Tia's reply, he simply started to collect the air bubbles with Psychic and, once gathered, he pushed them back into the room. He quickly used Psychic to stop the air leaking out again, and settled to wait for Tia. Within a minute, she quickly arrived, before examining the door.

-I freeze this, Ash, and how do we get them out?- Ash pointed to the grille in the door, grinning.

-We can get air through that, the water will get out of it. And we can smash the ice, and break them out. We can teleport Lorenzo, and we can lead Silver out of here.- Tia nodded, before opening her mouth. A chill blue glow began to grow, before a beam of ice shot towards the door. As it hit, the water around the door froze immediately, encasing it in a thick sheet of ice. Tia closed her mouth, and pulled back. The cold had frozen a spear of ice in the water, spiking across the width of the corridor.

-OK… Let's get some air here…- Tia broke the spear of ice off, watching it float down the corridor. Her eyes glowed, before several dozen bubbles raced towards the door. Tia scraped the grille clear of ice, and her and Ash moved the bubbles through the grille. A small push of water displacement brushed their feathers, as the air filled the room by a small amount.

-This will take so long, Ash.- Tia complained as she compiled another bubble of air. Ash nodded, as he did the same.

-I know, Tia. But we only need to get them some air. Silver can hold his breath for a long time, he's a Lugia; Lorenzo is our main concern. We get him air, and teleport him outside. We can guide Silver once Lorenzo's safe.- Tia nodded, as the two of them continued to fill the room with air. After a while, Silver spoke again.

-O-OK, Ash, we have enough air. N-Now what do we do?- Ash looked at Tia, before the two of them nodded at each other. The dug their claws into the ice, before cracking it in several places. As the first few bubbles of air leaked from the ice, Ash gripped the door. Tia did the same, before they braced up against it.

-Silver, you and Lorenzo need to take a deep breath. We're going to open the door now, OK?-

-OK, A-Ash. We'll do that.- After a few seconds, Silver rapped the door with a wing. Ash nodded, and he and Tia gritted their teeth, before heaving. The ice shattered, as a stream of bubbles ripped from the door. Another tug, and the sharp sound of creaking metal pre-empted the door ripping free. As the door fell to the floor, a final flood of bubbles left the room. Tia darted in, before grabbing Lorenzo. He'd begun floating near the ceiling but had slowly sunk down to the floor.

-Lorenzo! Take my hands!- Lorenzo reached out, grabbing hold of Tia's hands. She pulled him close, embracing him before teleporting in a bright flash. Ash darted towards Silver, who was looking at him.

-Come on, Silver! I can get you out of here!- Silver nodded, before following him out of the room. Ash began to lead Silver out of the ruined Rocket base, easily following the bubbles out. Suddenly, however, a wave of darting lights sped towards them. Ash froze, eyes widening as the lights in front of them lit up temporarily.

-Silver, go back! There's a lightning bolt coming!- The two of them turned around, rushing back the way they came. But it wasn't enough; nothing can outrun liquid conducted electricity, and the wave of lightning overran them. Ash twitched as the electricity sparked along his body, jumping to the walls and back. But Silver cried out, as the powerful lightning ran throughout his body. He curled up as well as he could, shuddering as the lightning ran through and past him. Ash darted backwards, moving around to face Silver.

-Silver, are you OK..?!- Silver shuddered again, before slowly opening his eyes. He nodded, before shaking his head slightly.

-I feel… Dizzy, but I should be OK…- Ash nodded, before Silver's eyes widened.

-I-I breathed out… I'm not holding any breath…- Ash gulped, before nodding. He turned around, pointing up towards the last few bubbles.

-Follow those, Silver! Go! I'll follow you but you go first!- Silver nodded, turning around and swimming after the bubbles; thanks to being under water, he was able to twist and turn, dodging any obstacles and escape the base. Ash smiled as Silver headed away from him and upwards, before he turned around. He paused, placing a hand on his forehead and leaning in the wall.

*D-Dizzy… Head hurts…* Ash shook his head, before heading back into the base again. He sighed, navigating by memory; he knew where he wanted to go, and what to do. After a few minutes he managed to find it; the door with a message in the window. Ash looked in, seeing the Grunt holding his wife; the water had somehow risen to waist depth. Ash rapped the window, as the Grunt looked over. His face lit up with relief, ans Ash nodded. He scratched the glass again, as the Grunt read the message slowly, struggling in the light.

"Take… a breath… I'll get you out… Oh man, th-thank you… W-We'll leave Team Rocket after this… I promise…" Ash nodded, before jabbing his paw on the glass. A few cracks ran out, and the Grunt backed away. Ash covered his eyes with a hand, and drove his other paw forwards; his claws easily shattered the glass, and the water flooded in. Almost immediately, the door swung into Ash as the water forced it open. He pulled his arm out, moving into the room. He shook his head slightly, dazed from the door's impact.

*Damn it, they won't be able to hold… Breath for long… OHHH, woozy…* Ash wavered slightly, before shaking his head. He grabbed the two Grunts, one in each arm, and turned around, diving towards the door. He spun out and around the corner, following the corridor. He pulled the Grunts with him, holding them close. He quickly headed up the corridor, making sure to keep the Grunts safe.

*Why am I doing this..? They're Team Rocket… Why should… I save them…* His eyes drifted closed, before snapping open again. He shook his head, and grinned as he saw the lift shaft. He quickly entered it, before pushing the Grunts above him. Halfway up, he slowed. The Grunt looked down, before taking his wife and pushing off the wall. Ash watched as he pulled her towards the surface, both of them fading as his vision blurred. He coughed, lungs burning, as the last of his air was used up. Ash tried to move, but couldn't find the energy. He slowly started to sink again, feeling the first few tendrils of choking water worming into his mouth.

*Tia… I-I'm sorry… Please, forgive me…* Ash slowly closed his eyes, making one last attempt to climb out; when suddenly something grabbed his arm. He slowly opened his eyes, expecting Tia or Silver; instead, he was shocked to see the Grunt. He nodded at Ash, taking a better grip on his arm. The grunt took hold of the emergency ladder on the wall, and began to pull Ash upwards. Ash floated slowly, before gagging. He coughed again, before immediately drawing a breath. He bucked, panicking as his lungs filled with cold water. The Grunt scowled, before pulling again. He pushed Ash above him, before quickly beginning to climb faster. Ash coughed again, before the Grunt pushed him into the lift itself. Immediately, Ash's arm was grabbed and he was pulled out of the lift, and the water. He coughed again, leaning forwards and vomiting out all the water he'd breathed in.

Th… Thanks… He slowly looked up, seeing that it was Bianca pulling him along. Ash started in surprise, before coughing more water up.

B-Bianca..?! But… I thought that… You were out cold… He coughed again, dragging in a deep breath. Bianca nodded, lifted Ash out of the water and pulling him onto the shore.

I was. But Brock helped me get up again; I just got knocked out. Apparently, it's like being hit with Electra's Thunder… Ash nodded, looking out across the lake. In the middle of it, Tia was pulling the Grunt towards the shore, where his wife was slumped on her side. Ash looked over to see Tio starting to move towards her.

T-Tio… Don't… Tio looked back, scowling again.

Ash, they're Grunts. They'll report our location. We have to do something… I understand you don't like what I do, but I'm putting everyone here first… Ash nodded, before slowly levitating, leaning against Bianca slightly.

They… Promised… They would leave Team Rocket… I believe them… The man came… back and saved me… I would have drowned… Had he left me… Tio sighed, looking down. He nodded, watching as the man checked his wife. He pulled a small metal object from his belt, and removed one from his wife. He turned around, before throwing them into the river.

See, Tio..? They're not going to report us… We need to let them go… Who knows, it… Might help us later. If they spread word, we saved them… Then Team Rocket would be… Less likely to attack. Tio sighed, shaking his head.

I doubt it works that way, Ash… But I'll do nothing… We'll spare them… For better or worse. I just hope you understand the risks involved here… Ash nodded, levitating fully. He coughed again, before shaking his head.

Man, that was close… I gotta thank him later… How's Silver? Did he get out in time? Tio nodded, pointing to where Brock was examining Silver.

He took a wrong turn, but got out OK. He was a little blue, so Brock decided to run a check on hi- Tio was cut off by the sound of a large sneeze. The three of them turned to see Silver rubbing a wing over his nose, while Brock stood stone still; with several large blobs of whatever Silver just sneezed over him running down his face. For a moment everyone was silent; then they all broke out laughing, while Brock simply ran over and jumped into the new lake. Silver sniffed, before sneezing again. He groaned, before rubbing his nose.

I-I think I've gotten a c-cold… He sneezed again, before Bianca sighed. She flew over to a tree, and quickly pulled several large leaves down. She floated up to Silver's eye level, and handed him the leaves.

If you sneeze, try to catch it OK? I don't think Brock wants to end up covered in more of your sneezes… Silver nodded, taking the leaves. He quickly buried his snout in them as another sneeze rocked his body, while Bianca gently rubbed his back. Silver moaned, and coughed several times.

I really… D-Don't feel good… Silver moaned, as he shivered. Brock climbed out of the river, sighing. He trudged over to his backpack, dripping water where he went. He opened his backpack before reaching in and pulling out a large blanket. He shook it out, before throwing it over Silver's back. Silver sighed slightly, as the thick woollen blanket settled on him, and he started to warm up.

"OK, Silver. This should help. I'll start making some medicine…" Brock crouched next to his backpack, before pulling out several berries and a mortar and pestle. As Brock began grinding up several berries, Ash flew across the lake to the Grunts. As he arrived, Tia flew up to him. She slammed into Ash, wrapping her arms around him in an Ursaring hug. She squeezed him close, as Ash hugged her back. Tia kissed him, before pulling back-and slapping him hard enough that he slammed into the floor.

What the HELL were you doing, Ash Ketchum!? You almost drowned! You want to die that much, I should kill you myself! How do you think I would raise our children, without a father?! You IDIOT! Ash quailed before Tia's rage, slowly raising his arms.

T-Tia, I didn't mean to… I was just trying to help… They might have children… D-Don't kill me… Tia floated over him, panting, before hugging him again. Ash froze, unsure how to deal with her sudden mood swings.

Oh, Ash… I-I'm sorry… But I was so SCARED, and you didn't come up… I-I thought I lost you… Ash gently hugged Tia back, before speaking in a soothing tone.

Tia, I would NEVER leave you… I'm sorry if I did scare you… Honestly… Tia sniffed, before pulling away slightly. Ash smiled at her, before letting go.

I need to speak to these two, Tia. I'll change behind the trees; they can't see my human form, OK? Tia nodded, before looking towards the trees. She gestured towards them as she spoke again.

Lorenzo's back there. He wanted some time apart, after seeing Bianca. He knows she's awake, but he was so scared at first. I'll get him. Ash nodded, as Tia moved behind the trees. After a few seconds she came back around, leading Lorenzo around the lake and towards the others. Thankfully, Silver's storm had now calmed down to simply a heavy downpour of ice cold rain. Ash floated behind a closely grown cluster of trees, before shifting. He stood, before stretching.

"Don't come around, you two. I trust you, but I still need to stay unknown. OK?" The male Grunt answered him, as Ash sensed him moving toward the water.

"Of course. I understand. Thank you for saving us… We owe you so much for this." Ash nodded to himself, as a groan came from the female Grunt.

"Ow… My head-Gah! I-… I think my arm's broken, Max… And… How did we get out..?" Max walked over, crouching next to his wife.

"Easy, Alice… The base flooded somehow. The door was slammed into you as the water hit, breaking your arm and knocking you out as you hit the floor. I fixed your arm up, and… And we were saved. We would have drowned, or suffocated, but… Remember the targets? The Eons? One of them saved us." Ash spoke up, figuring now would be a good time.

"Erm… Excuse me? I rescued you both. Everyone was for leaving you. But I didn't because I believe that humans can improve their selves. You-… We… Everyone, human or Pokémon can. It's your choice. I don't care, if you stay in Team Rocket or not; but even if you are an enemy, I don't leave anyone to… such a horrible fate. I rescued you in good faith, that you would change. I know I can't force that on you… But I can hope. You're free to go now, and… Good luck, whatever your choice." Silence followed Ash's small speech, before he was answered by Max.

"I… Understand. You rescued us hoping we would change our ways… Hoping we would become better people. Thank you for this; a second chance… I'll resign when we're picked up in a few days." Alice followed on from Max, speaking as well.

"I see what you mean, Eon. But I ask this; why should we leave, and change? I understand, and respect your wishes, but still; you do not control us. What then, Eon?" Ash sighed, answering slowly.

"Then I would let you go still. I would stop my brother killing you both. I can't guarantee I will be successful, but I can earn you time; time to run, hide, escape… Or, if you are that blind, to fight him. But I'd rather you change, even if I cannot force you to. Go, both of you. I'll wish you luck, whatever you choose. But leave now, before my brother changes his mind." There was silence, before the Grunts stood. Max stepped towards the trees, carefully, before slowly pushing his hand in. After a few seconds, Ash took the hand and shook it.

"We'll do what we see as fit. I can promise I'll change my ways. Alice, I can't speak for… But I'll support her choice. Good luck with your time, Latios. May you live well." Max withdrew his hand, and the sound of him and Alice running slowly faded away. Ash sighed, running a hand down his face.

"I hope they're safe, whatever their choice." Ash stood there for several moments, before turning and walking back towards the others. He slowly approached them, as the group turned to face him. There was a silent question written on their faces, one that Ash was cautious to answer. But, he did.

"They're gone. The guy's promised to resign, his wife… Is grateful but unsure. I hope she will, however." Tio nodded, as the others simply stood in silence. After a while, they simply started to gather everything they needed; repacking the backpacks, returning and greeting Pokémon and sorting out rides back to Blackthorn. Soon, they all set off again towards the City. During flight, Tio flew close to Ash again.

Ash… This was too easy. You know that, right? Ash sighed, as he nodded.

I know. But I can't think of any reason, apart from them not expecting a rescue so soon. Tio nodded, looking back one last time; the rain was dying down revealing a new lake; and at the bottom, still open, was a titanium door with a watery crypt below. And within it, those who were too old, slow or weak…

This place is a water-logged mausoleum Ash… Wait here. Tio spun around, tearing towards the lake and diving in. As they watched, Tio closed the door and sealed it shut. His eyes glowed, before he returned to the others.

I broke every piece of the locking mechanism. That door will remain shut for ever now. No-one should disturb those who have passed on. Grave robbers simply ruin their peace. Ash nodded in agreement, smiling at him.

Thank you Tio. Ash looked towards Silver, who was flying with Lorenzo on his back.

I know it sounds odd, Tio, but this has really helped Lorenzo and Silver bond… Tio nodded, smiling sadly.

Yes… But it was a very bad scenario… But let's not dwell on the past. We're safe now, and able to keep going. Ash nodded, as the light rain finally dried out and the clouds began to dissipate. They had managed to rescue Silver and Lorenzo, but at what price…

(Team Rocket's primary laboratory, R&D division, genetics department)

The scientist tapped away at his computer, bringing up images over several screens and computer banks. One of them showed a three dimensional representation of a Lugia, while another had several constantly changing bar graphs on them. Most of the screens, however, were devoted to a long chain of shifting letters and numbers. Slowly they began to lock; a letter there, a number here. As they locked, the shifting lines joining the sequence froze. As more of them locked in place, the others did faster and faster. Slowly, a definitive shape formed; a double helix structure, twisting to the left.

"Incredible… The target's DNA is an X-Pattern helix… These are incredibly rare to find…" The scientist tapped a few more keys, and the screen in front of him flashed up with an information box.

Target data received at 2257 hours today, from Rocket Laboratory Delta. Lab functions unresponsive, all surveillance systems down. Major generator faults and pressure spikes. 90% of staff fatally wounded. Immediate response team recommended.

The scientist cursed, and turned around to face his superior.

"Sir! The Delta Labs have had a massive accident; ninety percent of staff have been fatally wounded and all electronics are unresponsive. We can't even access the cameras, phones or main board!" The head scientist was stood on a raised dais in the centre of the room, five scientists around him. The computer banks were organised in a hemisphere, and he could oversee them all. He nodded, stroking his chin thoughtfully.

"Dispatch Alpha RRTS and Beta EmTec squads Garcia. Get me an Eye there as well, Hutchinson." Garcia and Hutchinson nodded, before they both began tapping at several keys. As Hutchinson continued to type commands, Garcia placed a finger to his headset, and gave the order.

"Alpha double RTS and Beta EmTec, you are cleared for dispatch. Your target is the Delta Laboratory facility in Mt. Silver. Ninety percent casualties, so be prepared; especially as Delta was primarily a research and storage lab. Something might have broken from its container. HazMat gear order is given. Deploy in T-minus five minutes." The head scientist turned around, as the door behind him slid open.

"Ah, Giovanni. I was wondering when the alert would reach you." The leader of Team Rocket strode up to the scientist, staring at the screens.

"I don't care for you humour, Doctor. Simply tell me what happened exactly, and what it is like down there. Most importantly, did we get the samples? Remember, I do not care for failures Doctor Mach." Mach nodded, before looking at the scientist on his left.

"Hutchinson, how much longer for our Eye?" Hutchinson typed away for a few more seconds, before turning around.

"It will be over Delta laboratory in two minutes sir- Mr. Rocketto! It's an honour that you come here." Giovanni waved a hand at the scientist, who turned back to his monitor.

"I understand, Dr. Mach, that Garcia is in charge of security and any threats. Hutchinson is in charge of the satellites, or 'Eyes' as we call them. But tell me, what does Hadlow, Earl and Swales do?" Giovanni asked, gesturing to the other three scientists. Mach nodded, pointing to each one in turn.

"Hadlow is resources and personnel. He manages everything going in and out of the laboratories. Earl is the programming expert. He makes sure there are no bugs or viruses in the mainframes and he keeps the internet access locked down. As for Swales, he is in charge of the Pokémon division. He manages bedding, food, and any other type-unique requirements. Just to cover them over, Hutchinson is in charge of communications and satellite feeds. Garcia is our own CBRN specialist, as well as security and personnel. He knows any threats and how to deal with them." Giovanni nodded, as all five scientists continued to tap away. Earl turned around, before speaking.

"Sirs, we've got an anomaly. There's a huge geological orientation and graduation change to the base entrance, especially the density of almost every room inside, with huge variations as we go." Giovanni nodded, while Mach turned towards Hutchinson.

"Hutchinson! Eye?" Hutchinson stabbed a key, and the main screen synchronised with his terminal. It showed a thick layer of rapidly clearing cloud cover, before the satellite finally managed a clear view. Immediately the scientists began shouting to each other as they saw the water-filled crater.

"Density reading equates to severe flooding!"

"Generator feeds back online, massive water content in pipeline!"

"Camera feed from five minutes ago live; someone opened the sealed door and flooded the base!"

"Genetics research completely submerged; water-borne contaminants spreading throughout the base!"

"Contaminants mixing; unknown reactions occurring!"

"Main door lock is permanently disengaged! No way in!"

"SILENCE!" Mach shouted, and immediately the flurry of reports ceased. All of the scientists stared up at him, waiting.

"Now we are calm… Hutchinson, basic report. Garcia, relay all information to Alpha and Beta teams." Hutchinson typed away at his keyboard, flooding his screen with information.

"Sir, the laboratory entrance is flooded; something blasted away the rock around it until this crater formed. Satellite shows it's most likely a thunderstorm; the rain would have filled the crater as the lightning blasted stone like a mining explosive."

"I see. Garcia, what do you have on the RRTS and EmTec?" Garcia frowned at his screen, tapping several keys.

"They've dispatched already, and are near the area. But we lost all contact with them a few seconds ago. Most likely the static currents from the storm are shorting the communications channels and the radios." Mach sighed, before nodding again.

"Hadlow, what about you?" Hadlow sighed, his face pale and haggard.

"We… We managed to secure some footage from cameras… Two Grunts opened the main door, flooding the whole compound. Most of the staff drowned, and a few were killed by machinery. Very few are still alive, but they're running out of air if still in the rooms. I can isolate the chemicals spilt too-… Sir, we need more than HazMat teams in there. The mixtures created something incredibly acidic; the metal is untouched, but it's eating through the glass around the camera. We lose the footage as it reaches the lens." Mach sighed, before shaking his head.

"We need to make sure the teams don't enter the labs. Get them out of there, and someone try and start a purifier up. Earl, Swales?" Both of them turned around, delivering their reports in order of being named.

"Sir, the whole mainframe is… eroding. If the chemicals are there, then they've corroded or destroyed the circuit boards. We're running on backup power, and even that's wearing out from use and chemical exposure. The whole base is going dark, technologically; I can't even access security recordings."

"The Pokémon are all gone. Some that are capable teleported or escaped by swimming; the Fire, Ground and Rock types are guaranteed gone, they never stood a chance. What few survived the flooding would no doubt have been chemically exposed by now." Swales, Hadlow and Garcia typed away, sharing information. Eventually, Garcia turned around, ready to supply a compiled report.

"Sirs, this whole laboratory has to be treated as a ground zero event. We don't know WHAT happened in there exactly, or what chemical reactions occurred. But if that main door opens, then the whole area could become contaminated." Mach nodded, and tapped his own keyboard several times.

"The laboratory is a lost cause, Giovanni. But we got the Lugia DNA. An agent took the sample while it was unconscious and we received it a few minutes before the lab sealed itself. The sacrifice of that laboratory wasn't in vain." Giovanni nodded, rubbing his forehead.

"Isolate and purify it. Like that Latios DNA we got from Annie and Oakley, in Alto Mare, I want it able for use. If I am to harness the power of Legendaries, I must first have their powers… And while the ability to dominate minds is impressive… The ability to control the weather will be so much more better…" Giovanni grinned, as he clenched his fist. Several pens in the room spontaneously burst, the pens shattering inwards. Mach nodded, as he pulled up the Lugia DNA.

"I'll begin synthesis as an injection when we purify it. This time, with a fresher sample, we should be much faster. As for you five, I want constant surveillance of the base, chemical analysis and as much recovered security footage as possible. I want to know what happened." Giovanni nodded, smiling to himself.

*Soon, I shall control the power of the Gods… And then, make them mine…* He laughed as he rubbed his hands together, watching the scientists at work; trying to access the teams, or striving through the DNA chain.

*Yes… VERY soon… And perhaps the Latias DNA will strengthen my own Psychic powers…* A low sinister laugh left Giovanni's lips, as his plan continued to unfold…