...Readers...if you're still around...I'M SO SORRY! What's it been, like two and a half months since an update?! Ugh I've been so BUSY. Homework everywhere, tests, projects, extracurricular stuff...then I discovered my undying love for Gravity Falls, I've finally started reading Ouran High School Host Club, Tumblr is the most distracting thing EVER, I've been working on other stories, and of course, writers' block! There's just no end! Once again, I'm truly sorry -w-' Although, speaking of new stories, I posted a brand new one-shot about two months ago! Chandelure's Flame! I'd appreciate very much it if you'd give it a read/review, if you haven't already. It is rated T though, so be warned if you're below that mark.

Onto this new chapter now! Like I said before, this is Cilan's rendition of how the Striaton Brothers became the Shadow Triad. This is all headcanon for me, and I think it makes sense...I don't know, it's what happened in this story, at least. This was the part I originally came up with, then the rest of the story just sort of sprang up around it. I THINK I remembered everything...ah, I'll explain in the next chapter if I forgot anything. Ask if you're not sure. Anyway, you've waited more than long enough! On with the story, finally!

Chapter 9 (Cilan's POV)

I don't remember much...maybe I never knew it at all...footsteps? Some sort of vehicle? Was that a voice? Whatever happened, my brothers and I were whisked away from our comfortable apartment in the Striaton Gym and dumped into a harsh white room in who knows where. Confused and unsure about what to do, I tried to remain calm as best as I could, but...who knew our lives would never be the same again?

The man called Ghetsis came and spoke to us in that dreadful room. He said that everything we had been taught about Pokemon was a lie; humans and Pokémon could never be friends. In the end, the brutality of humans calling themselves trainers would triumph over everything, and the balance of the world would be thrown into chaos. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, but I never fully realized the truth of that statement until looking back at that moment...things would have been totally different if I had just not believed him against my own logic: my parents, my conscience, other gym leaders, believed anyone other than him...!

Far from realizing our mistake in joining his cause, Ghetsis lead Chili, Cress, and I out of the white room and into another, this one smaller and dark.

"You are to wear these clothes while operating with Team Plasma," Ghetsis told us, revealing three black full-body outfits, including masks with white wigs attached.

"Black? Really? I'd go with red, myself," Chili said, grinning ear to ear in the way only he can.

"No arguments!" Ghetsis boomed, causing Chili to cower back slightly and look at Ghetsis in confusion. Ghetsis relaxed a bit (I now realize he was attempting to prevent us from seeing his true nature), then said, "I mean, they must be this way. These are to conceal your identities from trainers who might try to stop you outside of Team Plasma operations. We want to stay as secretive as possible until we're fully ready to start the destruction of the trainers' power."

"Makes as much sense as anything else that's happened today," Cress commented as we each took a black suit. Ghetsis grinned deviously.

"From this day forth...you three are...the Shadow Triad."

From then on, Ghetsis would periodically call for us to come and assist him or the grunts with, well, basically odd jobs. Moving equipment, transportation, general assembly and headcounts, seemingly random things that we never fully understood the purpose of. Our work seemed harmless enough, yet we still kept it secret from absolutely everyone on account of Ghetsis' orders. No one knew; not our parents, not the restaurant staff, not even our own partner Pokemon. Slipping into the relatively comfortable routine of behind-the-scenes work, I began to believe that we made the right decision in joining Team Plasma. Ghetsis was saving us in his own way, and that was saving us from a life of mistreatment of Pokémon. Naturally, I was ecstatic that we were making a real difference in the Unova region-possibly the world! Oh, what an illusion I was under...

A few months into our affiliation with the mysterious group, the work began to change...it changed so much...

It was around that time that we were first introduced to N. He was the true "king" of Team Plasma, even though his adoptive father Ghetsis seemed to be running the show. In our brief meeting, we were suited up in our disguises, so it was really a one-sided introduction.

"N, this is the Shadow Triad. It will become a pivotal part in the later stages of our plan," Ghetsis introduced us, once again putting us together as one single entity, not even individuals. N never looked us in the eyes, but only nodded slightly then continued along with Ghetsis. Something about this N character made me feel at peace, yet intensely uneasy at the same time. I'm still unable to perfectly place this unique and strange flavor, even to this day.

We began to be called further and further away from Striaton City, slipping away only in the dead of night in our dark suits, long after everyone had left the gym and Pansage, Pansear, and Panpour had fallen asleep. Then came the times that really caused me to begin doubting our choices-we started the liberation process. Liberation...what we did was a disgrace to the word...I'll just come out and say it: we were downright thieves. We began persuading people to release their Pokemon, and those who refused were persuaded by force. For these "persuasions," we were occasionally loaned three Pokémon from Team Plasma's stock-a Lilligant for me, a Basculin for Cress, and a Heatmor for Chili. These Pokemon seemed heartless. They had a business relationship with everyone they came in contact with, unless of course you were an enemy. In that case, watch out.

Realizing that we were getting into something very serious, I became nervous and paranoid, especially during gym battles. Chili and Cress were able to shake it off pretty well, but most days, I was just a mess. I always remembered one trainer in particular who stood out to me for some reason. A young, brunette girl with an Oshawott as her partner Pokémon. Her attitude in battle was just amazing. There was an air of confidence about her that was simply inexplicable. I lost relatively quickly to her, yet I knew we would be seeing her again, somehow...

We were taking Pokémon from regular people, not thugs and criminals like Ghetsis had made them out to be. Every time another Pokémon was released, a little voice in the back of my head kept saying it was wrong and that we shouldn't be doing this. Chili and Cress felt the same way, I could just tell. However, Ghetsis' reassurance could always talk louder than my conscience. The worst part of it was...I...I actually began to enjoy the thrill of taking others' Pokémon...I wasn't sure why, though. It was completely against my nature, yet it felt so good...and I hated myself for it. I hated myself every second!

One night, we were called all the way to Aspertia Town. It was a big move-if we could take out the soon-to-be gym leader's Pokemon, we could prevent a huge amount of trainers from gaining power. That night...that night was important for everyone. I saw something I wish I could forget, yet I'm glad I saw it at the same time. I watched as a grunt stole a little girl's Purrloin-not an uncommon sight anymore-then violently kicked her away, most likely injuring her severely. The little girl's brother had been trying his best to defend her, but now he could do nothing but cry with her, both of them gasping for air and scarred by what had just happened. I couldn't take it. We weren't just stealing Pokémon anymore; he were hurting people, kids at that. We had destroyed a child's special relationship with her Purrloin. I blacked out from the shock, and when I awoke, I had awoken from more than just unconsciousness. I was free of Ghetsis' lies and word-twisting, and there was no way I was going back.

Normal POV

"Wait, wait, wait, hold on just a minute," Ash interrupted, "I have to know one thing before you go on."

"Ok, what?" Cilan asked, confused.

"Is that night the reason you're afraid of Purrloin?" Ash asked a little more eagerly than the mood called for. Cilan recoiled from the shock.

"Huh? N-No, that's not it! Please, don't remind me of it!" Cilan pleaded.

"Wait, so you mean he hasn't told you what happened?" Chili butted in and Ash shook his head no.

"Heh, then you'll never get him to talk," Chili snickered and Ash sat back in his chair, pouting.

"A-Anyway..." Cilan said, about to resume his explanation.

Cilan's POV

"You saw what happened, I know you did," I said to my brothers. We were back in the privacy of our dorm in Plasma Headquarters. "How can you ignore the fact that we're hurting innocent people any longer?"

"Innocent? I know you heard Ghetsis! Those people are brutes who mistreat and hurt their Pokémon!" Chili retaliated.

"Chili, you know in your heart what we're doing is wrong. Ghetsis has been lying to us," I continued, "I don't know about you, but I can't stand helping him out one more second."

"But..." Chili said weakly, finding it hard to accept the fact that we had been deceived for the past few months.

"You're right, Cilan," Cress said, stepping forward. He had been quietly observing Chili and I. "I won't help that man any longer. We've suppressed our own logic long enough."

"Cress?! How can you renounce Ghetsis just like that?" Chili exclaimed.

"I renounced him long ago, and the same is true for you, Chili. We knew we were being deceived this whole time, but we were too scared to acknowledge it. As much as it hurts, accept the fact that we cannot keep destroying people's partnerships with their Pokémon." Cress replied, and a pang of guilt and realization flashed across Chili's face.

"...Okay. Okay, you're both right," Chili finally admitted, "We won't help Team Plasma's cause any longer. But it's not like we can just quit...remember Ghetsis' promise of 'less desirable circumstances'?"

"Don't worry," I said, smiling in spite of myself, "I've got a plan."

While it was true that quitting wasn't an option, that didn't mean we had to keep up our regular work. We quietly counteracted Ghetsis' plans in any way we could-slipping trainers' Pokémon back to them in secret, stopping a "liberation" in progress...anything we could think of to slow Team Plasma's destruction of Pokémon partnerships.

While our plan did help, it was nowhere near enough to shut down Team Plasma, and Ghetsis eventually had enough power and resources to attack Unova's central symbol of Pokémon power: the Pokémon League. I knew Ghetsis' power was great, but I never knew how great until that day.

Utilizing N's special ability to communicate with Pokémon, Team Plasma was able to successfully summon the legendary Zekrom to the Pokémon League, as well as raise an entire castle in the place of the Champion's chambers. I was in awe of the power demonstrated there, yet also revolted that it was being used for the wrong reasons. All seemed lost at that point. Who could have stood up to a legendary Dragon Pokémon combined with the power of all of Team Plasma?

I got my answer soon: the trainer who had beaten me in the Striaton Gym what seemed like so long ago. She was now armed with a powerful Pokémon team and her partner Samurott, and I learned her name was White. Chili, Cress and I watched from the shadows as she skillfully subdued Zekrom's power using the other legendary Dragon, Reshiram. All but beaten and betrayed by his own adoptive son, Ghetsis made one final stand against White, but the damage had been done. Ghetsis was defeated.

The rest of Team Plasma had been held off by the collective effort of the other Unova Gym Leaders. We feared that our secret might have been put in danger based on the fact that we were the only leaders not to show up, but we were able to keep it under wraps by saying we hadn't received the word of what was happening in time. After that, N left on a journey of his own to rethink his truths and ideals, and Ghetsis went missing. With their king gone and no leader to speak of, the rest of Team Plasma disbanded and scattered, and that was the end of it. Or so I thought.

Now, of course, this is where the part you know about comes into play. Our encounter with that small team of Plasma grunts a few weeks ago was the first I learned of their reformation. As we were fighting them off, a grunt who had seen me without my disguise once before recognized me. I had hoped he would keep quiet, but I'm assuming he reported my resistance to...whoever runs Team Plasma now, or what's left of it. It could be just a rag-tag group of stubborn grunts who want to keep their cause alive, but I fear it's worse than that.

Which finally brings us to how I believe Chili, Cress and I were turned into Pokémon. I believe Ghetsis has returned and utilized one of his secret projects to do this to us. Whether it's a type of punishment for resistance or a part of something greater, I'm not sure. All I know for certain is this: if Ghetsis is back, it spells trouble for us, all of Unova, and quite possibly the entire world.

Normal POV

All was quiet as Ash and Iris took in the impact of Cilan's story. It had grown quite dark outside, and the lively streets of Striaton City calmed down as the street lights flickered on. After a moment, Ash stood up slowly and wordlessly. He made his way down the hall, entered his temporary sleeping quarters, and shut the door firmly. The rest of his company stared after him, unsure what to make of the situation.

"Guess we won't be seeing him until tomorrow," Chili said after a while, searching for a way to end the silence, but it persisted longer still. Finally, Iris stood up as well.

"I-Iris?" Cilan said, stopping her.

"...I'll have to think about it," was all she said before she followed Ash's path to the bedroom, softly shutting the door behind her. The brothers let out a mutual exhale of bated breath before turning to their partner Pokémon, who had been quietly taking in the story sitting on the floor the whole time.

"Pansage?" Cilan said, leaning over to see his Pokémon, Chili and Cress doing the same. After a moment, all three of the Pokémon smiled and nodded.

"(We all believe your story,)" Pansear assured them.

"(That's right. We may not know much about this Team Plasma, but it sounds like an honest story to me,)" Panpour added, "(Don't you think, Pansage?)"

"(Of course,)" Pansage said, "(You three are like family to us. We'd never give up on you.)"

"That's truly great to hear!" Cilan said, relieved.

"Thank you for believing in us," Cress said with gratitude.

"You just can't ask for better partners that Pansear, Pansage, and Panpour, can ya?" Chili said with a grin.

The brothers returned their Pokémon to their Pokéballs for the night, then took their places to sleep on the couch and lounge chairs. Thoughts of Ash and Iris' opinions were running through their minds. None of them were sure about how this night had gone for them, but they hoped it would be clearer in the morning...

Yes! Chapter 9 is done! So happy :D Ok, I will certainly try to get the next chapter up faster. Maybe we can get this thing finished by the time summer's over, huh? As always, thanks for reading, and a special thanks to everyone for enduring my long update gaps... ^_^;; As for the next chapter...you'll just have to wait and see ;D Follow me on Tumblr, like the Facebook page, follow/favorite, and/or review! (Reviews are THE MOST APPRECIATED THINGS IN THE WORLD THANK YOU) Thanks for the read! See you all soon!