Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon.
Author Notes: Here it is… chapter 11!
Last Revision: February 18th, 2016.
Also, remember the mysterious black dragoness from the ending of last chapter? Well, her full identity is revealed in this chapter! And let me assure you, she's not what/who you'd expect!
Chapter 11 – Fierce Friends and Feared Foes
Brock glanced anxiously at the clock hung on one of the walls of the Pokémon Center's reception area. The timepiece marked that midday was only a few minutes away, which meant that it had been almost two hours since Ash had departed along with Officer Jenny to hunt down Pokémon Hunter Rico. Although Brock had the utmost confidence that Ash and his Pokémon could defeat Rico and rescue Larvitar's mother, that didn't mean the older trainer didn't feel worried about his younger friend's wellbeing. "I hope they're okay…," he muttered worriedly, slumping against his seat as he observed the clock tick another anguishing minute away.
Bianca glanced at him from where she was seated on the floor with her legs crossed. To pass the time, she was currently helping Smeargle draw some basic artwork with her paint-oozing tail. "I'm worried about them too," she admitted, but then she smiled optimistically. "But Ash is strong and his Pokémon are even stronger. Pikachu and Pidgeot are amazing, and together with Latias and Latios, I'm pretty sure they can defeat this poacher guy no matter what. I believe in them," she said positively.
Brock frowned but followed it up with a nod. "I do trust Ash. I always do," he responded in answer to her optimistic claim. "But he is chasing a rather dangerous bad guy. It's only natural that I worry for his welfare." He turned his attention towards Nurse Joy, who was sitting behind the counter nearby while dealing with some tedious paperwork. "How's James?" he inquired.
"He's fine and sleeping in one of the bedrooms at the moment. Aside from that cut on his chest and minor blood loss, there wasn't much wrong with him. I've already given him all the necessary treatments, so he'll make a full recovery," Nurse Joy informed him while briefly glancing at the older trainer. Brock nodded silently, acknowledging her answer. Nurse Joy then returned to her paperwork.
Jessie, in the meantime, was staring out the window with a yearning expression on her face while maintaining a state of complete silence. Every minute that went by was literal torture for her, but the only thing she could do was wait and hope that Ash, the trainer she had openly antagonized and had been so hostile towards for over two years, could save their beloved Pokémon from Rico and bring them back to her and James.
Brock sighed at the sad sight that was Jessie. 'Just looking at her makes me feel depressed,' he thought sullenly, moving his gaze away from the female Team Rocket member and back to looking at Bianca. "Have you received any telepathic messages from Latios?" he asked her, hoping for a small update at the very least.
"No, I haven't," Bianca answered. "If I do, I'll be sure to tell you, Brock." The girl paused all of a sudden, her eyes widening slightly as a distinct and very familiar psychic presence lightly entered her mind, leaving a quick message in her thoughts before vanishing without a trace.
Brock chuckled upon noticing her distracted expression and pause. "What a coincidence. Let me guess, that was Latios or Latias?" he asked.
"Yeah, it was Latios," Bianca responded, shaking her head a couple of times to clear the lingering mental presence away. "He says they're all fine and are on their way here. They should arrive in a couple of minutes."
Brock smiled and nodded, the sense of worry and stress slowly drifting away from his mind and emotional state. "I hope they were able to rescue Larvitar's mother," he said, and then glanced at Jessie. "And rescue Team Rocket's Pokémon, too."
Bianca frowned sadly, hating to be the bearer of bad news. "They weren't able to save her, since the poacher didn't have her. They did save Team Rocket's Pokémon, though."
"That's… terrible," a distraught Brock whispered, gazing down sadly. "Poor Larvitar, he… he must be crushed." Bianca simply nodded in cheerless agreement.
Jessie, who had vaguely overheard their conversation while she was looking outside, could swear they had mentioned her Pokémon, so she turned away from the window and walked up to them. "The twerp… did it?" she asked, her voice glimmering with hope. "He saved our Pokémon?"
"Yeah, Ash did it," Bianca answered with a rather spiteful and unkind tone, turning to look straight at Jessie. "He has a name, you know. Seeing as he went out of his way to rescue your Pokémon from an exceedingly dangerous criminal, and potentially risking his own life by doing so, I would think you could at least give him the courtesy of referring to him by his actual name," she added harshly.
Jessie, taken aback by the girl's angry reproach, stammered out, "I-I…" before closing her eyes and sighing. "S-sorry. So… Ash," the boy's name sounded rather unfamiliar on her tongue as she said it, "he was able to do it?" she asked.
Bianca huffed in annoyance and turned her head away from Jessie, looking straight ahead. "Like I said, yeah, he did. But he was unable to save the one we were looking for," she added with a grumble, growling slightly in annoyance.
"That's awful," Jessie said gloomily. She was relieved her Pokémon were safe, but oddly, she found herself also feeling saddened by the fact that whatever Pokémon Ash was looking for had been unable to be rescued.
Bianca glared at her venomously. "And we lost her in the first place thanks to people like you!" she snapped resentfully.
Jessie cringed and turned away. "Sorry..." she whispered before backing away, feeling rather hurt at the artist's harsh stance towards her. The Team Rocket thief couldn't help but be surprised. Why did Bianca's words sting her emotions so badly? Every time the Alto Mare artist directed an insensitive comment towards her, she was pained by it. The fact that the comments were true, despite how unsympathetic they were, only made her feel even worse. She silently walked away to avoid further hurtful comments from Bianca, moving towards the infirmary so she could wake James up. She knew that her partner-in-crime would love to be there when their Pokémon were returned to them.
"That wasn't very nice, you know," Brock scolded Bianca disapprovingly.
The young artist scoffed. "So? As long as they are from Team Rocket I don't care about them at all. You know my opinion on this matter, Brock," she stated firmly, her sharp tone leaving little room for argument.
Brock nodded reluctantly, accepting her point of view. "Alright, I won't judge or press on it," he said in acknowledgement. "I'm just saying I'm not entirely okay with it."
"I hope you lecture them about the topic before handing them their Pokémon back, or else they'll immediately return to harassing us," Bianca said resolutely, her arms crossed over her chest. "We've only encountered them a couple times so far in Hoenn and I'm already tired of them. I don't even want to imagine what it was like dealing with them for a couple of years." She grimaced at the mere thought of it.
Brock sighed, his mind going over many of the times they encountered the troublesome trio over their journeys across Kanto and Johto. "A lot of patience, Bianca. A lot of it," Brock said finally after many moments of slow not-so-nostalgic thoughts.
"I figured," the artist mumbled. Smeargle just blinked and stared at the two humans, rather confused about what they were talking about. She did figure it had to do with past experiences of the group she was now part of, but without anything useful to say, not that the humans would understand her words anyway, she went back to drawing for her new trainer. Bianca was a wonderful friend, and the Painter Pokémon wanted to make her proud with her natural art skills.
"They aren't entirely bad people, you know," Brock commented, and then hurriedly continued at the glare Bianca threw him. "I've dealt with them, like you said, for over two years. I think they're more imprudent misguided misfits than actual criminals. I've seen other Team Rocket members, like Annie and Oakley for example, and other real bad guys. Next to them, Jessie and James are nothing serious at all. They're more like a pestering annoyance. Sometimes, they have even tried to help us. I already have in mind what I'm going to lecture them on when we give them their Pokémon back. I hope I can get them to change their minds about it."
Bianca shook her head several times. "I judge by what I see, Brock, and until I see a change in them with my own eyes, I won't change my attitude towards them. If you get them to change their ways, then I might give them a chance."
"Fair enough," Brock said. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a shadow pass by one of the windows. "I think it's them," he spoke as he turned to look at the door. Bianca did the same, glancing towards the entry as the Pokémon Center's double glass doors parted open and a familiar blue dragon entered, followed by an equally familiar large cream and brown avian.
"Where's Latias?" Bianca asked instantly, noticing the absence of the female Legendary in the arriving group.
Latios bristled slightly at the mention of his sister. "Rico managed to knock her out, by cheating," Latios answered, rather irritated by this fact. "She's resting in her Pokéball." Bianca frowned worriedly for her best friend's health.
The group then heard a couple of screams. "Hey, stoooo-" Meowth cried out in horror, but it was too late. The Normal-type's plea was followed up with the sounds of a painful crash of flesh against glass before a few moans accompanied them. Nurse Joy winced.
Latios blushed in embarrassment as he glanced at his back, seeing Arbok, Weezing and Meowth slumped against the Pokémon Center's glass doors and painfully sliding down towards the pavement under the doorway. "Oops, I should have stopped towing them. I forgot those kinds of doors close when you go through them…" he said telepathically, his mental tone embarrassed.
"Too bad for them those doors weren't automatic…Nurse Joy should really invest in some," Bianca said, glancing at the nurse briefly.
"I've been having budget problems lately…" the nurse grumbled.
Pikachu snorted, barely stifling a laugh. "Latios, you know that was totally on purpose," he stated. Latios glared at him silently.
Nurse Joy walked up to them, conveniently forgetting all about the doors. "Do any of your Pokémon need treatment? Also, where's Officer Jenny?" she asked as she examined Pidgeot, Latios and Pikachu. All three of them were marred with some minor injuries, but Latios seemed to be in the worse shape out of the trio.
"Officer Jenny is heading to Rustboro to put Rico in jail," Ash answered as he hopped off the eon dragon's back, a soundly asleep Larvitar cradled in his arms. Latios acted perfectly normal at the mention of the poacher he had killed without anyone realizing it. "And yeah, four of my Pokémon will need some treatment."
"Four? Why only four and not all six of them?" Bianca asked curiously as she walked towards him, eyeing each of his individual Pokémon. Latios' condition clearly worried her.
Latios briefly turned to glance at her. "Larvitar and Phanpy didn't really fight," the dragon answered mentally.
Phanpy pouted as he jumped off the dragon's back, landing on the ground quite neatly. "But we did something important! We helped all those poor Pokémon!" the infant exclaimed.
"I never said you didn't help out, you did help a lot and it was great. I just said you didn't actually fight. You were great in what you had to do and I'm proud of that," Latios explained, giving more depth to his answer as he looked down and smiled gently at the kid. Phanpy nodded in understanding and jumped around happily, elated that he had made his uncle proud.
Ash walked towards Nurse Joy and handed her a Pokéball, the one containing Latias, while being careful not to disturb the sleeping Larvitar cuddled to his chest. "Here, that's my Latias. She was knocked out with a dart of some sort," the Pokémon trainer informed her.
Nurse Joy nodded. "I'll make sure to analyze her blood and use the appropriate medication," she said as she took the spherical device. Pikachu jumped over to the counter as Latios and Pidgeot moved towards Nurse Joy, as they too were awaiting medical treatment.
"Please follow me. My Chansey and Blissey should have everything ready by now," Nurse Joy said in a slightly commanding voice as she turned around and began to walk towards a large double-door at the back of the reception which led to the medical bay. Pikachu, Latios and Pidgeot followed her. Soon, all of them had disappeared through the doorway.
Brock glanced over at the sleeping Larvitar. "No luck, then," he commented sadly, cringing when he noticed the faint trails of moisture on the Rock and Ground-type's cheeks, indicating he had cried a lot.
"Yeah, he was devastated. He cried himself to sleep on the way back. Right now he needs to rest this off," Ash said back as he looked at his surrogate son with a sullen expression. "We did our best to cheer him up, and it seemed to work. Latios said he and Latias will talk about their past to cheer him up."
"Can you set him down? I need to cut down the psychic powers I'm using to help you keep him in your hands," Latios asked telepathically. Ash nodded and walked to the chairs lining the wall of the reception and very gently set Larvitar down on one of them. The infant Rock-type shifted a couple times, but then fell completely still save for the delicate motion of his chest with every breath he took, remaining sound asleep.
"Poor little guy," Bianca commented, a saddened sigh escaping her. "I hope we can find his mother soon… Do you know who has her now?"
"No, all we know is that Team Magma has her. Who in all of Team Magma? We have no idea. It'll take a while to figure out," Ash answered as he sat down beside the seat in which Larvitar had been laid down on. Phanpy walked over and nudged Ash's leg. The young Pokémon trainer smiled down at his other surrogate son and picked him up, placing him on his lap. Phanpy squealed softly and nuzzled Ash's chest, prompting Ash to lovingly hug and pet him.
Brock hummed, thinking over the situation they had at hand regarding Team Magma and Larvitar's mother. "Our best option right now is to learn more about Team Magma, and then follow up with what Latios suggested. Seek help from other Legendary Pokémon. Hopefully, we can have them add finding Tyranitar to their objectives if they do agree to deal with Team Magma," Brock said hopefully. Bianca nodded once, agreeing that it was probably the best plan as the group didn't have the collective strength needed to fight a large organization like Team Magma. They needed all the help they could acquire.
"Where are our Pokémon?" Jessie asked as she walked out of the hallway leading to the bedrooms, a rather sleepy-looking James trailing behind her groggily. She wasn't in good shape either due to lack of recent sleep, but she was having an easier time dealing with it than the blue haired male.
"They stayed outside after Latios… uh, brought them back here," Brock answered awkwardly, pointing towards the double glass door and omitting the fact that Latios had smashed them into the door quite painfully.
"Okay, thanks!" Jessie exclaimed as she grabbed James' arm and pulled him rather hurriedly towards the door. Jessie pushed open the doors and stepped out along with James. She glanced around rapidly, scanning the clearing in which the Pokémon Center was situated. Her eyes instantly saw the Pokémon she was looking for as they were leaning on the walls beside the doors. Meowth was rubbing his head, while the other two were grimacing in pain from the impact with the glass entry nearby. "Arbok!" Jessie screeched loudly as her eyes watered. She lunged towards her beloved Pokémon.
"Weezing, brother!" James yelled, instantly forgetting completely about his chest injury and his exhaustion as he lunged at Weezing, wrapping his arms around the two-headed Pokémon's bigger head.
The two Pokémon's heads snapped up in an instant, clearly startled at the familiar sounds of their trainer's voices and the wonderful feeling of their hugs. Finally, all worry, depression, anxiety and stress abandoned the semi-villainous trainers as they were reunited at last with their beloved Pokémon. Jessie and James' eyes were moist with tears as they hugged their Pokémon tightly, glad the nightmare with Rico had finally been left behind them forever. Arbok and Weezing were no less emotional, nuzzling and pressing against Jessie and James with equal fervor and delight while repeatedly squealing their names. Weezing rubbed his body against James' chest and head and Arbok coiled his serpentine body around Jessie and pressed her tightly in a hug, being careful of his physical strength while doing so.
Meowth pouted at the fact that he was excluded from the emotional reunion. "Hey, what 'bout good 'ol Meowth!?" he yelled in exasperation, putting his paws on his hips in a scolding manner.
Both Jessie and James parted from their Pokémon, with more effort on Jessie's part, and looked at him. They smiled and opened their arms, Meowth immediately ran towards them and leaped into their arms, and both Jessie and James caught him and pressed him in a double hug. "We missed your yapping," Jessie said softly.
"As annoying as it is," James added fondly. Arbok and Weezing snickered quietly at the comments, while Meowth purred and rubbed his head against them.
The Team Rocket agents were so submerged in the emotions of their reunion that they failed to notice the Pokémon Center's doors open and close. "Well, I see you three are quite happy," Brock commented as he walked up to them. "Sorry to interrupt, by the way. But this is very important."
Jessie, James, Meowth, Arbok and Weezing stopped their actions and turned to glance at him. "Uh, yes, we are happy," James answered awkwardly, finding the interruption quite bizarre.
"Tell the twerp we said thanks a lot," Jessie added, feeling rather out of place, just like James did.
"His name is Ash, Jessie. Have you forgotten what Bianca told you no more than ten minutes ago?" Brock sternly corrected her, making her wince at the tone he used. Brock crossed his arms over his chest, glancing at each human and Pokémon in front of him for a few fixed instants before moving on the next. "I hope this has taught a very valuable lesson to you three. Do you now understand why stealing Pokémon is a very bad thing that shouldn't be taken lightly?" he asked sharply, his tone implying he wasn't kidding around at all.
"Uh…" Jessie hesitated, looking down in shame and guilt as nothing coherent to answer with came to her mind. Even if she was happy to have her Pokémon back, all the emotions she had felt since Rico had attacked them and up to the current moment were still very present and fresh in her mind.
"Yes?" James answered uncertainly, uncomfortably gazing at Jessie and Meowth for support. They shrugged at him without a word, signaling to him that they were at the same loss of words as he was. Like Jessie, he too had all the feelings of hurt very fresh in his mind.
"Trainers can have wonderful and very deep bonds with their Pokémon, like the one you two have with Arbok and Weezing, for example. And you two felt firsthand what happens when that bond is broken by something as wicked as thievery. Every time you two try to steal someone's Pokémon, you are fully willing to make them go through exactly what you guys just went through… all that pain, suffering, stress, depression, hopelessness and countless other terrible feelings. Do you feel comfortable knowing that that's what you three are fully willing to do to others?" Brock asked them, his voice neutral and calm as he conversed with the thieves and their Pokémon. "Are you three perfectly okay and glad to live knowing that you center your life on inflicting this kind of pain on others?"
"It's just that… uh… we… I…" Jessie stammered incoherently, unable to answer the breeder in the making's lecture with a straight face.
"We… don't?" James answered uneasily. His eyes widened slightly as he realized what he said. "We… don't… like it… not at all…"
"You've been trying to do this to Ash ever since that day you met him over two years ago, and his bond with Pikachu is just as strong, if not stronger, than the one you two have with Arbok, Weezing and Meowth. If you two succeed in stealing Pikachu, this is how Ash would feel. Every single pain you suffered is what Ash, an innocent and naive twelve-year-old boy, would have to experience. You two truly suffered from what Rico did to you. Do you really want to live knowing this is the true nature of your so-called work?" Brock asked sharply, his voice transforming from calm to firmer and harsher.
"No…" James responded sadly, now feeling like reeling back in disgust at the idea of robbing others' Pokémon. After what Ash had gone through to save his precious and beloved Weezing, now he felt that he just couldn't try to rob him ever again.
"…" Jessie remained completely silent, as did Meowth, Arbok and Weezing.
"Now you finally understand the true nature and moral damage behind what you do for a living," Brock added to his lecture. "And really, be honest with me. Do you three really think you'll be able to succeed?" he asked the trio.
"Huh?" Jessie asked, confused. James and Meowth stared at the trainer, equally baffled.
"Well, think about it. You've been trying to rob us for two straight years with no success. We've foiled every plan you've made and smashed every single robot you've brought our way. You three are only wasting your life and your time trying to rob us, and also, take note… if you can't beat us now, how will you beat us in the future? Bianca has recently become a trainer, and soon she'll capture more Pokémon. I only have one Pokémon with me at the moment, and I can guarantee you that I will get new friends as we travel through Hoenn. Ash will most likely also get many new Pokémon in his travels, given how friendly and eager he is about new Pokémon. And most importantly, Latias and Latios are only getting stronger each passing day. We, as a group, are all getting stronger each and every day," Brock explained calmly, his words clearly holding truth in them. "You three will never defeat us. At the rate you three are going, you're only doomed to be like, seven hundred thousand five hundred and thirty-third best to us."
"Don't you mean second best?" Meowth asked.
"No," Brock said flatly. Team Rocket winced.
James sighed in dismay, but he had no way to prove Brock wrong. "True…," he admitted grudgingly, but the thought did linger in his mind. 'Is there truly no way for us to defeat the twerp and his group?'
"That means your Pokémon robbing career is reduced to something quite simple. You are trying to do something impossible every day, which is defeat us, that has results you two now hate, which is the pain you inflict upon others by doing so. Is that how you want to live your lives?" Brock questioned them. "You three have a lot of potential to be good and friendly guys. I don't believe you are evil or irredeemable. I've always believed you three can be good with the correct path laid down before you. You can definitely do something better than this," Brock said gently.
"…" Jessie, James and Meowth remained completely silent, their gazes held low and looking towards the dirt, unable to look Brock in the eye as they reflected each and every one of the former Gym Leader's wise words.
"If you three, after this entire ordeal with Rico, still go back to Pokémon robbing as if nothing ever happened, then in my mind, you will be the most hypocritical and hopelessly ungrateful scumbags I have ever seen," Brock finished, his eyes narrowing (even more!) as he looked down at them. "You three learned today that stealing Pokémon isn't what you three really want to do. With that in mind, I want you all to think, really think, about what you three really want out of your lives, and I really, sincerely hope that whatever that may be, that it'll allow you to amount to more than what you are now." Brock ended his lecture and turned around and walked back into the Pokémon Center, leaving a quiet Team Rocket trio silently thinking over each and every one of his words.
Brock walked back inside the Pokémon Center and sat down beside Ash and Bianca. "I'm done with them," he informed them.
"Do you think it'll work?" Bianca asked curiously, glancing at him.
"It's entirely up to them," Brock answered her. "I just hope that I said the right things and brought up the right points with them." Sadly, he knew that he couldn't impose something on them, and that ultimately they were the ones to decide what to do with their lives.
"Oh well," Bianca replied disapprovingly. She turned when Smeargle nudged her leg and showed her a drawing she had made. Bianca smiled and leaned down to review her new Pokémon's basic drawing that she had just made.
"I hope they stop being bad guys," Ash wished with optimism. "That would be great. I'm willing to give them a chance." One of Ash's hands was petting the sleeping Larvitar's head gently while the other was caressing Phanpy's back. The infant was still comfortably seated on his lap. "It'd be great for both us and them."
"Yeah, it will be, Ash," Brock answered, and then changed the topic as he felt there was nothing more to discuss regarding Team Rocket. "So, will we depart after Nurse Joy's done healing your Pokémon?" the former Pewter Gym Leader asked the young trainer curiously. "It's still early midday, so there's a lot of time left in the day to get some traveling in to Rustboro."
Ash frowned as he thought hard for a few instants about the matter. "Nah, we'll stay here until tomorrow. My Pokémon have been in a lot of really tough battles in the last few days. Team Magma, Team Rocket's robot Slaking, Norman, and now Rico… I think they deserve a day off to recover and rest up. Have some fun too," the young Pallet Town trainer answered, displaying a small smile as he did so. "Rustboro City can wait for now."
"Wow Ash, your maturity surprises me," Brock said, chuckling slightly. "The Ash I knew from Kanto would hurry everyone up for the sake of running to the next Gym battle," he said jokingly, a small fatherly smile present on his lips.
Ash shook his head softly, holding back a small chuckle at the words and tone Brock used with him. "My Pokémon deserve a day off."
"Very well," Brock spoke back, easily agreeing with Ash's decision and approving of it. "Let's wait until Nurse Joy is finished, then." Ash nodded and resumed paying attention to his two children while Bianca continued her art session with Smeargle.
The rest of the day was quite normal for the group. After Nurse Joy had finished treating Ash's injured and exhausted Pokémon, Team Rocket had dropped by so Arbok, Meowth, and Weezing could receive some medical treatment as well from the injuries they had sustained from the entire ordeal with Rico. After their own treatments were taken care of, they had a satisfying meal and then departed from the Pokémon Center, declaring that they wanted to think about their future alone and away from the group. Ash and Brock didn't impede their departure and let them leave.
Ash's Pokémon greatly enjoyed their trainer's decision to let them rest for the day. Pidgeot, Latios and Pikachu decided to go out into the nearby woods to rest in the wonderful scenery and peace of nature. Meanwhile, Ash stayed in the Pokémon Center with Brock, Smeargle, Bianca, Phanpy and Larvitar. Sadly, Nurse Joy said it'd take Latias several hours to wake up due to the specific cocktail of drugs Rico had used against her.
All the time they rested in the woods, Latios' mind was thinking on what stories to tell the group and specifically, Larvitar, assuming that Latias agreed to tell them, of course. The entire group seemed very eager to hear about their past, and he couldn't really blame them due to how zealously they defended their history sometimes. To the Eon dragon's surprise, he found himself slightly missing some of the Legendaries that so dedicatedly made his childhood actually bearable and enjoyable. This left him with a small glint of hope that he would meet up with them again soon. Latios decided that the perfect time to tell the stories would be during the hours of darkness. When everyone would get ready for bed, said tales would act as a sort of bedtime stories. And by then, Latias would definitely be awake.
The afternoon went by quickly for the group, and it wasn't long before the sun slowly slipped down to the horizon and night settled in …
Flying towards the Johto region at a speed several times faster than that of sound was a titanic black dragoness. Her elegant and graceful gigantic body fluidly swam across the night sky with practiced ease. The natural darkness of the night made the dragoness appear almost invisible due to her black scales blending into the pitch-dark sky. The long distance between Hoenn and Johto was of little inconvenience to the dragoness, her massive speed easily making it a relatively short journey for her.
Her powerful eyesight easily took in the scenery below her with perfect detail despite the sheer speed of her flight. Her eyes instantly caught sight of the blue dragon she had been flying in the direction of. A massive wave of air boomed all around in her wake as she came to an almost abrupt halt instantly. Despite the massive amount of kinetic energies involved in such an action, the draconic entity seemed completely unaffected by it.
At a much more sedate pace, the dragoness began flying downwards to the grassy plains that expanded below her, the black dragoness' eyes focused on the other dragon she was levitating towards. "Hello," she greeted gently, her voice airy and soft.
The father Latios turned to look at her. He didn't seem surprised at all by her sudden appearance, it was clear he had sensed her a long way back. "Hello to you too," he responded in greeting, giving a small curt nod of respect. "Did you put a protective shield up around my children like I requested you to?" he asked, quickly jumping to the most important topic in his mind.
The dragoness released a small breath of amusement at how quickly the Eon Pokémon jumped to the topic, but she could understand why he did it. "Yes, I did," she answered. "I put a thin ghost shield around the twins. Using them as the epicenter, the shield will move along with them no matter where they go. They'll be completely safe under my watch," she informed him as she approached the elder Latios steadily, stopping several dozen feet in front of him. Her huge towering form loomed over the comparatively much, much smaller Latios rather ominously, despite the fact that the friendly meeting indicated that they got along quite well. The pale glow of the moonlight above them created a dim illumination that glistened softly on the Latios' reflective feather down and the dragoness' shiny black scales.
Latios smiled gratefully. "Thank you," he said appreciatively as he glanced up at her face. The dragoness nodded once, making the moonlight glitter softly across her face and neck as she did so.
The dragoness slowly lowered herself a bit more so she didn't tower over the blue dragon too exaggeratedly, letting her long tail coil a couple of times in the soft grass. The being looming above the Latios was a fearsome yet elegant and graceful draconic Pokémon. She was a very large serpentine dragon easily over a hundred feet long with shiny, deep black scales covering the entirety of her lustrous body. Two red-tipped, rudder-like fins sprouted from her 'shoulders' and two other segments of her long body, with her tail ending in two red-tipped triangular fins. Lining the sides of the dragoness' sleek body were radiant golden ring-like rune markings starting with a large golden circle on her forehead. The dragoness had two arms that ended in three-clawed hands and two large upward pointing horn-like structures jutting out from the back of her head, with two smaller ones sprouting from the underside. Two soft ridges lined the upper side of her head above her eyes, which were two prominently visible bright golden irises placed against a pitch-black sclera. Her slightly opened mouth revealed a long row of vicious, red-colored teeth with two white fangs on the underside of her upper snout. The female black Rayquaza's features seemed to radiate a youthful and feminine aura. "You're welcome, Latios," the shiny Rayquaza spoke gently.
"What brings you here? I thought that after setting up the protection around my children, you'd return to Sky Pillar afterwards, Skailyn," Latios wondered, tilting his head slightly in curiosity.
The black Rayquaza, whose name was now identified as Skailyn, gave a single nod. "I thought I would too, but a little something came up," she answered as she began to think about the events she had seen with the twins, Ash and Rico. "You can pick up my thoughts to know the whole story."
Latios' eyes radiated a soft glow, not intruding or seeing into the shiny Rayquaza's mind, but instead just picking up the thoughts she was giving off. Within a fraction of a second, he had a complete picture of what had happened, which caused him to frown at the ending. "It's good you had Frost fix that. Otherwise, my son could have gotten him and Ash in serious trouble for that. Trust me, I know human laws."
"I know you do, but that's not the topic I'm referring to. It's that poacher's Pokémon. As you saw, he had a Banette among his Pokémon. A poor injured soul that Frost brought to me earlier this day after she recovered him from wandering around aimlessly in the woods. What I saw in the poor soul was… horrible, to put it bluntly." She shook her head a few times in disgust. "He was what some circles of criminal humans call Slave Pokémon, and what they do to create them is outrageous. I understand Pokémon can do anything they choose with their lives, from what is deemed to be either good or evil in the path of life they take. But these Pokémon don't even get that choice in this circumstance. From hatchlings, they are raised as nothing but slaves and monsters destined to be unwaveringly obedient to their masters until their very deaths," Skailyn explained, her voice shaking from the growls that were arising from deep within her throat. "And they have many ghosts and dragons in their possession, some of them still young, in these horrible conditions because being powerful types, they are quite popular to use. As the princess of both the Ghost and Dragon kingdoms, I feel it's my duty to help them."
Latios frowned. "You know we don't try to get involved into human affairs too often, Skailyn. We usually just let humans be and solve their own problems unless they openly intrude into our affairs. Bad things happen everywhere and it's usually not up to us to pass judgment on each and every one of them, even if we are gods," he said wisely, his eyes eyeing the dragoness carefully and seeing her reactions. "We let life follow its natural trail and only exert our will on it when necessary."
Skailyn nodded once to his miniature lecture. "I know that, Latios. But... these Pokémon, they don't deserve anything of what's happening to them. They're being tortured until they break when they're nothing more than hatchlings. No one deserves that. They need help, and those humans, they're not going to stop. There's just going to continue and continue. And who's to say that, if we don't step in now, these tortures won't become more and more common? I want to do this because no one deserves this fate," she explained, her voice firm. "Plus, being the daughter of the Dragon King and Ghost Queen, arguably it is my affair to help these ghosts and dragons, and in the process help every other Pokémon trapped in this nightmare."
Latios stared at her silently, his eyes judging. "Well? You bring this up to me instead of Rayquaza because…" he left the sentence hanging, waiting for her to explain her motives.
"I can't do it alone. I'd ask my father, but, he'd have the same problem as I. Most of these horrors happen in human cities. I can't get in and out of there on my own without being noticed and neither can he. Not with my massive size, especially if I'm bringing hurt Pokémon out as well. I can't stop these humans and help these Pokémon without some human seeing me even under the cover of night. Some humans who may see me might think the wrong thing about my actions. That's why I need your illusion and psychic powers, Latios. To cover me while I deal with these… vile monsters," the black Rayquaza explained. "Plus, you're the one that has skill and experience when it comes to dealing with humans and their inventions."
Latios hummed softly, quietly thinking about the Legendary Princess' words. "I see, that's a noble way to think," the Eon Pokémon commented. "You sound a lot like your parents when talking like that. Giratina and Rayquaza would approve of it."
"I know they would," Skailyn said confidently, thankful that she had convinced the Latios to aid her. "So," she continued, clapping her claws together expectantly. "Let's go now, Latios. I have a lot of humans to deal with and you a lot of hiding to do," she urged him impatiently.
Latios chuckled in amusement, deciding to play a bit with her. "You're sounding a bit bossy there, Skailyn. You're only a teenager, even if you're close to adulthood you should know to respect your elders, not order them around to do your bidding. I know your parents raised you better than that," he said, a teasing smile on his lips while his eyes reflected a mirthful look. "I couldn't have been gone that long."
Skailyn scoffed in glee and shook her head a couple times, an equally mirthful expression on her face. "Oh, bite my tail scales, Latios."
Latios made a fake frown. "Didn't you hear a word I said?" he asked playfully.
Skailyn let out a throaty chuckle and leaned down, lightly bumping her head onto the older Legendary's wing and side. "Look who talks about bossy now. You sounded worse than my father does when you ordered me to place something around your children to protect them."
"Okay, okay, you're right with that point," Latios conceded, nuzzling the black Rayquaza's cheek with his neck. "But, as an adult and very good friend of your parents, I do have some rights to order you around and as a teenager you have the obligation to obey me."
Skailyn rolled her eyes slightly, having no way to snap back at that. "Fine, you win this time. I'm asking you to do me a nice favor as your lovely friend."
Latios smiled warmly. "That's better," he said humorously.
Skailyn hummed softly, pressing into the older Latios' side. "I missed you," she whispered gently and sweetly. "The last century without you around felt like a rather long one," the Sky High Pokémon added, giving the Eon Pokémon's side and wing a tender and affectionate lick with her tongue.
"I missed you too, sweetheart," Latios replied kindly, his voice fond and nostalgic. "I missed everyone in general. It's good to be back and out of the Soul Dew."
"I imagine it is," Skailyn responded as she pulled back slowly, rising and towering over the smaller Latios once more. "Shall we be on our way then?" she asked, her voice a lot more serious as she dropped the playful act.
Latios nodded. "Sure, I'm done here anyways. I can spare a quick travel to Hoenn," he answered. "Plus, with how angry I see you are, I'm pretty sure you won't take long to deal with these human enslavers," he added, eyes narrowing slightly as he added a serious undertone to his voice, not doubting the female shiny Rayquaza's capacity. The Latios began to slowly rise into the sky, gradually reaching the dragoness' height. As she watched him ascend, the shiny Rayquaza followed his altitude. Suddenly, both Legendaries disappeared into the night, generating a massive, deafening sonic boom blowing harshly in their wake, the grassy plains below them flattened as the wind was upset from its nightly peace by the departure of the two dragons rapidly moving towards Hoenn…
'I wonder what all these machines are capable of…' a certain evil spirit speculated gleefully while gazing from several thousand feet in the sky at the Team Aqua fleet amassed below him. His contemplating gaze stayed several long moments on each of the vessels before moving on to the next one.
He had learned everything there was to learn about Team Magma when he spied on them and read the souls and minds of their operatives, and after learning of Team Aqua through Team Magma, he had spent the last few hours secretly spying and learning everything there was about them as well. 'I still don't like their respective goals. I did not create the Red, Blue and Jade orbs for stupid things like expanding oceans or land. I created them to wage war against Legendaries! But I can still use these teams to fight the Legendaries. I'll come up with something,' he thought to himself darkly, his astral mind racing with hundreds of thoughts and ideas of how he could use Team Aqua and Team Magma to his benefit.
'But I do wonder why humans changed so much overtime… We humans were very different in the past, we were as Pokémon, powerful ones at that… Why do humans now consider themselves a separate species from Pokémon? Humanity has become very bizarre since my day… they are weak and powerless… No attacks, no special abilities, no control of aura, no magic… nothing,' the spirit thought as he teleported down, reappearing near one of Team Aqua's warships. 'But now they have these things… machines… war machines… I wonder how efficient they truly are…' In his mind, he weighed the pros and cons of the ancient humans compared to machines, evaluating them while wondering which would be more efficient and useful. Of course, he knew a lot about the mechanical contraptions from all the minds he'd been reading in Team Aqua and Team Magma, but it wasn't the same as actually seeing them in action himself rather than knowing what they could do from mind reading.
The malevolent specter looked down when he noticed some unusual activity in the fleet amassed in the quiet night. What seemed to be a sort of hovercraft had exited the main Team Aqua submarine ship, quickly speeding towards another one of the behemoth-sized warships, which had the inscription Sea Titan on its side. The spirit's soul sight easily allowed him to see through the metal and precisely identify its occupants, some of which he recognized as the administrators of Team Aqua. A large segment on the side of the Sea Titan began to slide open, revealing a large landing dock with several dozen smaller aircraft already in it. The hovercraft landed on it, carefully entering an unoccupied space in the landing dock. Once the small transport vehicle was in, the steel barrier slid back into place.
To the spirit's surprise, the colossal metal aircraft began to lose altitude until it crashed into the sea, causing a large wave to surge out in all directions. The harsh landing of the Sea Titan barely disturbed the rest of the airships, submarines and ships. The roar of powerful engines echoed as the ship began to move forward, submerging until it was completely beneath the waves. 'Interesting,' the spirit commented to himself in interest, and had he had eyebrows he certainly would have raised one. 'I wonder how that thing would fare in a battle against Lugia, Kyogre or maybe Kyurem,' the spirit speculated, his mind racing and trying to picture the battle in his wicked imagination. But without seeing the airships in action himself, it was hard to make accurate assumptions. 'Well, I guess I'm done spying on Team Aqua for the moment.'
The spirit paused for several moments, thinking what his next destination was. 'I'll go and see what the progress of Latios' brats and that extremely interesting human boy is.'
The spirit's astral energy let out a small vibrating hum of dark power as he prepared a long-ranged teleport towards the general area he had spotted the children in last time. However, instants before he teleported the spirit suddenly froze, sensing a dangerous block in the way. 'That stupid she-dragon! Damned Skailyn!' The spirit cursed angrily, his dark aura flaring angrily. Out of anger, the spirit picked a nearby teleportation destination and vanished in a small flicker of power.
With a glimmer of energy, the spirit materialized in a new location, which was near to his original picked destination before cancelling the teleport. "Oh… great…" he said sarcastically as gazed at the sight before him.
Before the spirit was a massive dome of purplish-black energy that completely concealed everything inside it from his eyes and also made him feel quite uncomfortable just from being in close proximity to it. It was obvious he wouldn't be able to cross it at all. 'Latios didn't lose time, it seems,' the spirit thought sourly. 'When I saw the twins and their group back in my old chamber, there wasn't a shield. Now there is one. It means Latios still has me very present in his mind. And most importantly, it won't be long until the twins are reunited with him and will be put even further from my reach. It'll be much harder to do anything to them.'
The spirit gazed at the shield for several moments, and then released a vibe of anger and frustration. 'I should have tried doing something when I had them that night near my chamber! I should have expected this!' the spirit thought angrily. After ranting mentally for several moments, he paused, collecting himself and calming down as he knew a tantrum wouldn't get him anywhere. He allowed more cold and calculating thoughts to enter his mind, pondering how to adapt to this new situation. His mind processed the things that had drawn his interest that night back in Oldale Town. The young Latias and Latios, and one of the humans he had seen with them. 'That human… Ash, if I'm correct with his name. It's been a long time since I saw an Aura as powerful and concentrated in a mortal soul as the one he had… his Aura, with proper training could be even stronger than mine when I was in my prime. I need it! Along with the twins… having a taste of their power, along with my already existing research and tricks, might give me the edge I need over the Legendaries.'
'If Latios is having Skailyn protect them, I'll need some of my old toys with me, just in case,' the spirit thought darkly, and with a flick of his powers, he teleported away yet again. The spirit reappeared in what seemed to be a hidden chamber of sorts, completely sealed by walls of rock on all sides. The entirety of the chamber was marked with magical runes running through the stone. In the center of the room were three perfectly aligned pillars of marble. Each of the pillars had a ring of a distinct color circling around them. On the left was a red color, on the right was a dark blue tone, and the final one in the center was green-colored.
The spirit let out a deep, contemplating hum, gleefully eyeing the pillars in which his beloved creations, the Red, Blue, and Jade Orbs, rested. The spirit glided forward and let his powers brush the center pillar, the one with a green circle.
There was a loud buzz of vibrating energy as the green circle began to glow brightly, pulsing with power as the sealing spell keeping it in place was unlocked. Akin to a spider web, dozens of lines consisting of tiny runes in an ancient language began to spread all over the pillar, slowly cracking the marble until it began to fall apart, revealing that a spherical orb was hidden in the pillar.
The perfectly spherical artifact possessed a lively emerald color with a crystalline texture along with faint traces of energy flowing inside it. 'The Jade Orb…,' the spirit thought gleefully. 'One of my ultimate masterpieces, without a doubt…' The ethereal being reached forward and slowly took the floating orb in his ghostly hold. 'It may not have the same effect of complete control and dominance on Skailyn as it does on Rayquaza, but it will still hurt her badly,' the spirit thought, enchanted at the prospect. 'This will keep that pesky brat off me, in case she manages to somehow track me.'
The spirit glanced at the red and blue marble pillars, which contained the Red and Blue Orbs. Just like the Jade Orb had the ability to completely control and manipulate Rayquaza, the Red and Blue Orbs had the ability to seize control of Kyogre and Groudon, respectively. Comically, the spirit had no clue why he inverted their colors when he created them. It seemed like a good idea at the time. 'I'll leave the Red and Blue Orbs here for those Team Aqua and Team Magma groups to track. Let's see if they're worthy of my creations,' the evil spirit thought as he gazed between both of the pillars. 'And to think, these aren't my only weapons. For waging war against those damned legendaries, I have many more artifacts like these, and if the legends get more active against me, I might need…more of them…' The spirit let out a dark laugh which resonated deeply within the chamber, and then teleported away, completely disappearing along with the Jade Orb…
Meanwhile, in Team Rocket's headquarters in the mountains of Kanto…
Annie and Oakley coolly walked down the long metallic hallways leading to the research labs of the facility, where they had been summoned by their supervisor, Professor Sebastian. "I wonder what Pointy Beard wants now," Annie murmured wonderingly.
"Whatever it is, I hope it involves us going to kick a Legendary's ass. I'm sick of waiting in here! I want field action!" Oakley snapped, clearly irritated after days of pure boredom. "If Sebastian doesn't have any action for us, I'm kicking his egghead butt up and down the length of this base, and then all the way to Master Giovanni's office along with a complaint."
Annie giggled at her sister's remarks. "I'd be amused to see that," she commented. "I kinda want to leave the headquarters too. It's so boring and not-stylish in here. There's too much dull grey and metal and fashion disaster uniforms in here. Plus, I'm in the mood to get some new diamonds and clothes…"
Oakley sighed at her sibling. "Don't you care about something that isn't fashion, clothes and silly jewels?" she asked, exasperated.
"Uh, nope," Annie answered, taking out a pocket mirror and checking it to see if her oversized ponytails were still perfect. Oakley shook her head in frustration. Both agents arrived at the massive entrance to the labs. Oakley took out her identification keycard and slid it across the keypad besides the massive metal entry. There were a couple of beeps and flashing lights, and then the doors started sliding open as the access was granted.
Annie and Oakley made their way inside the lab, a massive room easily a couple hundred feet long with a roof at least several dozen feet tall. Massive pieces of machinery and equipment that were way too complicated for Annie and Oakley's understanding lined the room as far as they could see. Over fifty scientists, all dressed in the same white lab coats with a red 'R' emblazoned on them, could be seen everywhere operating the machines and computers. Many Pokémon could also be seen aiding the scientists, mostly Psychic-type Pokémon. "So, where's Pointy Beard?" Annie asked the closest scientist, a woman who was holding several stacks of papers.
"Who?" The scientist asked, completely confused.
"Professor Sebastian," Oakley corrected her sister.
"He should be near the testing area on the south end of the lab. Just look for a big glass tank filled with black energy, it's impossible to miss," the scientist answered while pointing in the general direction of where she was telling them to go before resuming her duties.
Annie and Oakley nodded and walked towards where the scientist woman had pointed, their eyes idly scanning the work of the numerous scientists and their psychic-type assistants. Soon enough, they saw a large glass tank filled with a dark, vile-looking energy that was connected to several dozen computers, large display screens and machines. "You summoned us, Professor Sebastian?" Oakley asked politely, stepping up to the professor.
Sebastian, a tall man with bowl-cut grayish hair and a pointy goatee, focused his attention on the two elite operatives. "Yes, I did," he answered curtly. "It's time for you two to move out. I dispatched Attila and Hun to a mission yesterday. It's now your turn to leave," he continued.
"Great!" Oakley exclaimed eagerly, unable to contain her excitement on the matter. "It's about damn time."
Annie, in the meantime, walked closer to the dark energy tank in pure curiosity, examining it closer. "What's this?" she asked inquisitively. "It gives me the creeps."
"That's pure, condensed dark energy. At its current state, it's stronger than any Dark-type Pokémon you can think of. That is one of the many components that make up the Prison Ball," Sebastian answered. "Giovanni was able to obtain more funds from…dubious sources and more scarce materials, and tasked me and Namza to see the possibility of either making more Prison Balls or making the existing ones stronger. It depends on what's more efficient." As usual, everyone was completely oblivious to the pronunciation error they made on Doctor Namba's name.
Off in an adjacent area of the base's labs, Doctor Namba sneezed. "Ugh, why do I have the feeling I should be yelling at someone for messing up my name just now?" the balding scientist muttered in annoyance, sniffling and rubbing his nose.
"Wow, you think you can make more of them?" Oakley said, eyes gleaming at the prospect.
"It's very complicated. The Prison Ball contains many components that are extremely scarce or very hard to obtain, like the energy Annie's looking at. Thinning out dark energy to such a pure state is very hard. It also has some components that are already extremely limited to begin with. That is why they can be extremely expensive and why our starting batch was only five Prison Balls. I'm debating with Giovanni over what's better, to improve the existing ones or to make more," Sebastian explained patiently. "I think that we, at the moment, severely lack many of the Prison Ball's critical components to make more. So improving the ones we have now is the best path to take, in my opinion. Hopefully that can change."
"Too bad," Oakley muttered, saddened. But she still didn't let the matter affect her too much. "So what's our assignment?" she asked, changing the topic to the more important one at hand.
"I want you two to obtain more intelligence about the Legendaries. Our archeology teams brought to me a very interesting story earlier today," Sebastian started. "Are you two familiar with the Kingdom of Pokélantis?" the scientist asked, glancing between both Team Rocket women.
"Uh, not that I know of," Oakley answered after several moments of thought. "And if I don't know, then Annie doesn't either."
"Hey!" Annie yelled at her, angered. Oakley and Sebastian completely ignored her.
"We don't exactly know much either," Sebastian admitted. "But rumors say that Pokélantis was once a very powerful civilization during the ancient times. The world's best archeologists place its existence between three thousand to ten thousand years ago. It is said to have been the strongest ancient civilization in the world. For some mysterious reason, it was destroyed in a very short time. It's been suggested due to the archeological evidence found in numerous ruins that a possible war between Legendary Pokémon and the kingdom of Pokélantis was what ultimately caused their demise." Sebastian turned to one of the scientists operating a computer. "Put the tablet image on the main screen," he ordered. The scientist complied immediately, and within instants a large screen on one of the walls showed the image of what appeared to be an ancient porcelain tablet.
"Wow…" Oakley commented, eyeing the image on the massive screen with awe. "Fascinating."
"Indeed," Sebastian agreed. The image of the tablet on the screen depicted what seemed to be a massive ancient city, on the tallest tower of which was a human figure carrying a staff, facing off against an avian-like Legendary Pokémon spewing massive torrents of apocalyptic flames. "That's apparently the Legendary Pokémon of the skies, Ho-Oh."
"And one of our apparent targets," Oakley added, nodding once.
"Yes. It seems that there's a story surrounding this civilization, that during its war against Legendaries, the leader, known as the King of Pokélantis, managed to trick Ho-Oh and sealed it into a stone sphere, trapping it forever inside the ruins of one of their cities," Sebastian explained. "I want you two to head out towards the known ruins of the kingdom of Pokélantis and investigate them to see if you can find their famous 'sealed Ho-Oh' somewhere. If not, we might at least find inklings that lead us to the real Ho-Oh's location," the scientist elaborated. The image of the tablet faded and a map of the Kanto and Johto regions appeared, on which at least a dozen red flashing dots could be seen.
"Let me guess, those dots are where the known locations of said ruins are?" Oakley guessed, putting her right index finger on her chin.
Sebastian nodded. "Yes, so far, twelve city-ruins of Pokélantis have been discovered. It is claimed that there are more, but these are the only ones we have knowledge of. The sealed Ho-Oh might be contained in one of them. Investigate and report your findings to me at once. Also, take your Prison Ball in case Ho-Oh is actually there. If Ho-Oh isn't there, we might at least find clues regarding the fable of this civilization's war with Legendaries and hopefully, a definite answer. They had to know something about them."
"Understood!" Oakley said energetically, feeling eager to finally be deployed on a field mission. She was more of an action girl than an office girl.
"A helicopter is waiting for you in the hangars. Better hurry up," Sebastian informed them.
"A helicopter? That's so not a stylish way to travel around. I want a transforming rocket car again!" Annie gushed. "That one we had back in Alto Mare was cool, even if I crashed it…"
Sebastian sighed in exasperation. Annie could be annoying sometimes, though her fighting prowess and spying skills were unmatched, even among Team Rocket's elites. "Whatever, ask the hangar crew if they have one. I think they do, as long as it moves you around to the cities you can take whatever you want. I've updated the map with the ruin locations on the helicopter's computer. You can ask the hangar staff to move the data onto the vehicle that you two prefer. Now leave."
Oakley nodded and turned to leave, and Annie followed her as she did so. "Think we can actually find Ho-Oh?" Annie asked curiously.
"I don't know," Oakley answered sharply, eyes narrowing. "But we'll give it a try at least. Let's go!"
Sebastian watched as the two women walked away, and once they were out of sight, he turned around and resumed his work on Team Rocket's ultimate plan, the destructive Project Incarceration.
Author Notes: And with this, chapter 11 ends! It was a shorter chapter than usual, but I'm still happy about it. In it, we got to see some of the good guys and bad guys!
How was the new Legendary we met today? To all those of you who guessed that the Legendary Dragon from last chapter was Giratina, you were wrong! It was Giratina's daughter. It's a close guess, though. That I do admit.
Also, the Legendary Pokémon meetings won't stop here, because with the kid Latios' stories of his past, we will meet several new Legendaries next chapter! Isn't that cool?
Hope you guys enjoyed, stay tuned for Chapter 12!