Introduction: Here we come to the second part of the Noir Mask Trilogy. I've been looking forward to doing this part of the story for quite awhile. A couple of the other Pokemon stories I've done are sort of a setup for this, though Trial of the Phoenix is the setup for something else too. Anyway, this is where things start to come together.

Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon.

Chapter 1: Alex Dantes Is Dead

Marie Dantes awoke from another night of troubled sleep in her Celadon City apartment. She looked at the digital clock on her nightstand. The display read 6:30 AM, not too early yet not too late. Marie sighed to herself after seeing the time, for though she was still tired she knew she could not get back to sleep. Marie had not had a descent night's sleep in twelve years. Though sleep would come for Marie, troubling dreams had always disturbed it.

The black phone on the nightstand suddenly began to ring. Immediately Marie picked it up and answered.

"Agent Noir Mask?" a woman's voice on the other end of the line asked.

"What is it?" Marie asked with a hint of irritation in her voice.

"Uh, I hope I didn't wake you up." The woman's voice said somewhat nervously.

"I just woke up." Marie said impatiently. "Now what do you want?"

"Oh, well Giovanni would like to see you in his office as soon as possible." The woman's voice explained.

"I'll be right there." Marie sighed.

With that, Marie hung up the phone and picked up the other item she kept on the nightstand, a black half mask with light-blue lenses. She slid the mask on and got out of bed. A few minutes later Marie had finished putting on the rest of her outfit, which consisted of a black shirt with a red R on the chest, a short white skirt with a red stripe near the bottom, white gloves and boots, a black cap with a red feather sticking out the right side, and a white cape which covered her left arm. Marie sighed after checking herself in the full-length mirror in her room one last time. Her costume was a constant reminder of the life she had trapped herself in. But it was a life she had to live in order to escape the hell she had been put through.

Thirteen years before, Marie's older cousin Andre framed her a crime she didn't commit and saw to it that she was sent to the living hell that was Scorch Gate Prison. After living two years in that hell, Marie was made an offer by Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, to join his organization in exchange for an early release. Marie took the offer, but in doing so she had trapped herself in another hell altogether. The only thing that had been keeping Marie going was her burning desire for revenge against Andre and the close friend that had betrayed her, Lisa Flare. Those thirteen years ago when Marie tried to escape after she had been sentenced, Lisa had sold Marie out to the police. And since that time Marie had wanted revenge.

Marie had come close to getting her revenge against Lisa two times. The first was ten years before during a mission to Ecruteak City to capture the Legendary Pokemon known as Ho-Oh. The second time was two months before when Marie had been assigned the mission of capturing a young man known as Alex Blaze. Both times Marie had failed to get her revenge on Lisa. And because she had to perform her duties as a member of Team Rocket, Marie could not afford to go out and hunt Lisa down.

With every part of her costume in place, Marie ventured out of her apartment and went off to see her employer. One ride down the elevator later Marie was in the secret headquarters of Team Rocket in Celadon. As she walked the dimly lit halls to Giovanni's office, many of the Team Rocket members she encountered ran off or whispered among themselves as soon as they saw her. Being the internal affairs agent of Team Rocket had caused many of the other members of the organization to become afraid of her. And Marie had preferred that they were afraid, because she didn't want anything to do with them otherwise.

At last Marie had arrived at the office and was let in by the secretary. When Marie entered, she saw sitting behind the desk a man with slicked back brown hair wearing an orange suit with a red tie. This of course was Giovanni.

"Ah, Noir Mask." Giovanni observed after looking up from a document he was reading. "Prompt as ever I see."

"I came as quickly as I could sir." Marie told her. "What do you want to see me about?"

"I have a different sort of mission for you this time." Giovanni told her. "I'm going on a little trip to the Hoenn Region and I want you along as a bodyguard in case Team Aqua or Team Magma tries anything against me."

"If I may ask sir, why are you going to the Hoenn Region?" Marie inquired.

"Team Rocket has gotten a rather interesting business proposal that requires my personal attention." Giovanni explained. "It seems that the head of the Dantes Corporation, Alex Dantes, has died recently."

Marie was startled greatly by this news, for the man that Giovanni had referred to was her father. Though she was doing a good job of maintaining her composure, Marie felt like she had been kicked in the chest.

"Is something wrong?" Giovanni asked when he noticed Marie's startled reaction.

"Uh, not at all sir." Marie quickly lied.

"As I was saying," Giovanni continued, "with Alex Dantes dead, his nephew, Andre Dantes, has taken over as head of the company. And since his takeover, Andre has contacted us and has offered to make the resources of the Dantes Corporation available to Team Rocket in exchange for a certain piece of technology the research department has been working on."

"I see…" Marie responded. "When do we leave?"

"Our plane leaves tomorrow night at 9:00." Giovanni answered. "Until then perhaps you should take the next two days off. You seem a little out of sorts."

"…Yes, thank you sir." Marie replied.

After being excused by Giovanni, Marie went back up to her apartment. She went into the bedroom, slipped off her mask, and fell to her knees and began sobbing on the foot of the bed. In a flash, two of Marie's Pokemon emerged from their balls, which hung behind Marie's cape. The first was a bipedal fox-like creature that stood at about five feet tall. Its fur was mostly grey, but its upper torso was covered in thick black fur. There was also a large mass of red fur on top of its head that was tied back in a ponytail by a teal orb. The creature also had a pointed snout and ears. This was one of Marie's most loyal Pokemon, Zoroark.

The other Pokemon that had emerged was a shadowy creature that hovered in the air. It had a head of white hair that billowed like a flame and left only a single light-blue eye visible. Around its neck was a red growth that resembled a necklace of large red beads. The rest of its body was black and tattered. This was another of Marie's most loyal Pokemon, Darkrai. The two Pokemon looked at Marie with concern. It was not long before Marie had noticed that they had come out.

"I just learned that my father is dead." Marie told both of them sadly.

Marie continued crying after telling her two Pokemon of the sad news she had received. Just has Zoroark was about to put a clawed hand on Marie's shoulder to try and comfort her, Marie's crying suddenly turned to laughter.

"I also found out something else today." Marie told the two Pokemon with a somewhat insane smile. "I'll be seeing Andre again soon. And soon I'll be able to make him pay for what he did to me."

With that, Marie continued laughing. Both Zoroark and Darkrai looked at each other with troubled expressions over Marie's sudden shift in behavior.

In another part of the world, Lisa Flare stood on the deck of a boat looking out over the ocean. In the distance the raven-haired girl could see her hometown, Lilycove City.

"Good view, huh?" a voice suddenly asked, snapping Lisa from her thoughts.

Lisa turned around to see a young man in his early twenties with long black hair tied back in a ponytail. The young man was wearing a blue vest over a black t-shirt, and blue jeans. This was Lisa's friend, Ash Ketchum. Perched on Ash's shoulder was a yellow rodent-like creature with long pointed ears with black tips and a tail shaped like a lightning bolt. On its cheeks were large red circles. This was one of Ash's most trusted Pokemon, Pikachu.

There was another Pokemon standing at Ash's side. It stood on its hind legs and resembled a jackal. It had red irises and the fur of its arms, legs, tail, and some of its face was blue, while the fur of its paws was black. There was also a band of black fur around its eyes that made it look as if it was wearing a mask. The fur on the creature's torso was cream-colored and made it look as if it was wearing a shirt. Metal spikes protruded from the creature's chest and the back of the paws on its arms. This was another of Ash's Pokemon, Lucario.

"Sorry, didn't mean to disturb you." Ash told Lisa. "Mind if I join you?"

"It's fine, go ahead." Lisa told him.

"So, how long has it been since you've been back in your old city?" Ash asked as he strolled up next to Lisa.

"About eleven years." Lisa answered, not once taking her eyes off the ocean. "I haven't been back since I first went to Johto…. You know you, Misty, and Bolt didn't have to tag along with me."

"Hey, Professor Oak just happened to ask me and Misty to go run a little errand for him in Lilycove." Ash shrugged. "As for Bolt, he has some gig in Hoenn I guess. It's a total coincidence."

"Uh, huh." Lisa said in a disbelieving tone.

"So why are you coming back to Lilycove after eleven years?" Ash asked.

"My father asked me to." Lisa replied. "He wanted me to attend this funeral, and considering who it was I thought it was only right to attend."

"Who died?" Ash asked.

"…Alex Dantes, my father and he were good friends and business partners for many years." Lisa explained after a moment. "In fact, I was a good friend of Mr. Dantes's daughter, Marie."

"Wait, when we first met ten years ago after you captured Entei, you said you were trying to get over the death of a friend." Ash realized. "That friend wasn't Marie, was it?"

"…I'm going back to my cabin for a bit." Lisa suddenly told him. "This sea air is starting to get to me a bit."

With that, Lisa walked off. Walking past as Lisa left was a young woman with long orange hair wearing a pink jacket, a blue and white-stripped shirt, and a short blue skirt. The young woman tried to say something to Lisa, but Lisa left too fast for her to get a word in.

"Oh, hey Misty." Ash greeted to the young woman. "I thought you were out by the pool."

"Well we're going to be docking soon, so I thought I'd change and see where you were." Misty explained. "What's wrong with Lisa?"

"I guess I brought up some bad memories for her." Ash answered. "We were talking and Lisa brought up an old friend of hers, Marie Dantes. I think that's the close friend of hers that died before she came to Johto."

"Wait, Lisa's dead friend was a girl?" Misty said with a surprised look.

"Yeah, why?" Ash asked.

"Well the night of the day we met her we were talking and her friend came up in conversation." Misty explained. "At the time it seemed like her friend was some boy that she really liked but never had the nerve to tell him how he felt. But maybe I was wrong."

"You might've been reading too much into things." Ash suggested.

"Yeah, maybe…" Misty agreed, though in the back of her mind she wondered if perhaps she hadn't been reading too much into what Lisa said about her supposedly dead friend.

About half an hour had passed, and soon the ship carrying Lisa and the others docked in Lilycove harbor. Lisa, Ash, and Misty walked off onto the docks, joined by a young man with spiked blond hair wearing sunglasses, a yellow vest over a black t-shirt, and faded jeans. Slung over his back was a red electric guitar. This of course was the group's friend, Bolt Hanson.

"Hello Lilycove!" Bolt called as if he were up on stage greeting a crowd.

"So when is your band performing here?" Misty asked Bolt.

"About five days." Bolt answered. "The rest of the group still has to get here. So until then uh… what're we doing?"

"Lisa's going to a funeral." Ash told him.

"Oh…" Bolt said looking a bit crestfallen. "Hey no, that's cool. Funerals are… yeah."

"Look, none of you have to stick around for this." Lisa told them.

"We know. We're just a little worried about you Lisa, that's all." Misty informed her. "You look like you could use some friends right now."

"…Fine." Lisa sighed. "Let's go then."

As soon as the group reached the end of the dock they found waiting for them a black stretch limo. Standing in front of the rear door was an old bald man with white bushy eyebrows wearing a chauffeur's uniform.

"Ah, Ms. Lisa. Your father was afraid that you wouldn't make it in time." The old man said. "The funeral is this afternoon, you know."

"I know Jennings." Lisa said to the old man. "I came as quickly as I could."

"And I see you brought some friends with you." Jennings observed. "Shall we get going then?"

"I guess we better." Lisa replied. "C'mon you guys."

With that, Jennings opened the door and Lisa and the others got in side. After a few minutes the limo drove into a neighborhood filled with large white mansions. Soon the limo pulled into the driveway of a two-story mansion at the end of the road that was slightly larger than the rest. As they got out of the back of the limo, Ash, Misty, and Bolt all had stunned looks on their faces as they beheld the mansion that was apparently Lisa's home.

"So… you're rich?" Bolt asked.

"My family is." Lisa answered. "Surprised?"

"Well, you sure don't give that impression." Ash pointed out, referring to Lisa's usual outfit of a red t-shirt with a denim vest and shorts.

Stepping out of the front door of the mansion was a rather handsome man with black hair and beard who had green eyes and was wearing a black suit and tie. The man smiled as soon as he saw Lisa.

"Well, I'm happy to see you've finally come home." The man said to Lisa.

"Hey dad." Lisa said as she went up and gave them an a hug.

"I see you've brought a few friends with you." Lisa's father observed.

"Oh yeah. Guys, this is my dad, Desmond Flare." Lisa said to the others.

"Nice to meet you, I'm Ash Ketchum." Ash greeted.

"And I'm his girlfriend, Misty." Misty added.

"And I'm Bolt Hanson." Bolt said with a bow.

"It's a pleasure to meet you all." Desmond told them. "Well then, I think we should take this inside."

A few minutes later the group had gone into the large sitting room of the mansion. As Ash looked around he noticed a picture on the mantle of the fireplace. He went over to take a closer look. The picture was of a ten-year-old Lisa, wearing an outfit similar to her current one with the addition of a red ball cap. Being held in Lisa's arms was a a small orange bird with a large head with a yellow tuft of feathers on top. Ash recognized the bird as a Torchic.

Standing next to Lisa was a girl who looked about the same age as Lisa with long blond hair, fair skin, and violet eyes. The girl was wearing a green summer dress, and it didn't take much for Ash to figure out that the girl was Marie.

"I see you've noticed the picture of Lisa just before she went on her journey." Desmond said as he stepped up next to Ash by the fireplace. "I was worried about her of course, but obviously she's been able to take care of herself."

"Say Mr. Flare, is this girl in the picture Lisa's friend Marie?" Ash asked.

"I'm going to go get ready for the funeral." Lisa said as she suddenly got up from the blue couch she was sitting on and went upstairs.

"She still hasn't gotten over Marie's death." Desmond sighed. "You'd think that after ten years… but then I guess that kind of pain is hard to overcome."

"Mr. Flare, how did Marie die?" Misty asked.

"She died in an accident in prison I'm afraid." Desmond said grimly. The group was greatly startled by this news.

"Wait, back up!" Bolt cut in. "Lisa's friend was a jailbird?"

"It's hard to believe a girl that young could be sent to prison, isn't it?" Desmond admitted. "But I'm afraid it's true. Marie had stolen a priceless artifact from the Lilycove Museum. Marie was caught and sentenced to a place called Scorch Gate. But before she was sent there Marie tried to escape, and Lisa helped to apprehend her. It wasn't something my daughter wanted to do, but after a little convincing she saw that it was the right thing to do. If only it didn't end is such tragedy."

"Maybe Lisa still feels guilt over Marie's death." Misty suggested.

"I suppose that's true." Desmond agreed. "Marie's crime and death hit everyone very hard. Though the hardest hit were Lisa and Marie's father. Alex was crushed when we got the news of the accident. In fact I think it may have led to his early death."

"Yes, but we must try and get over the tragic events concerning my young cousin and move on." A voice cut in. Everyone turned to see a rather dashing looking man with blond hair and violet eyes wearing a black suit and tie.

"Andre, it's good to see you." Desmond greeted. "How're you doing?"

"Oh, I'm holding up as well as can be expected." Andre told him. "I see you have company."

"Oh yes, these are some friends that Lisa brought with her." Desmond explained. "Everyone, I'd like you to meet Andre Dantes, Alex's nephew."

Andre looked around the room and then went over to Misty.

"It's a pleasure to meet such a lovely young lady." Andre said to Misty before kissing the back of her hand, causing Ash to glare at him. "Might I ask what your name is?"

"Oh, uh, Misty." Misty replied with a blush.

"Charmed." Andre said in a suave manner. He then looked around the room and saw Bolt. "Wait a minute, aren't you the front man for Raging Thunder?"

"No way dude! You know my band?" Bolt asked enthusiastically.

"I must confess I sometimes listen to your music at the office." Andre told him. "You're Bolt Hanson, right?"

"That's right." Bolt confirmed. "And my band has a gig here in five days. I can get you back stage if you like."

"I'd be delighted." Andre told him. He then went over to Ash. "And who might you be?"

"Ash Ketchum." Ash replied, giving Andre a suspicious look.

"Well it's a pleasure to meet you." Andre said as he offered to shake Ash's hand. "So I assume that you're a Pokemon Trainer."

"Among other things." Ash replied, not once taking Andre's hand

Pikachu and Lucario also glared at Andre. Lisa reentered the room wearing a formal black dress. Andre quickly noticed her, thus breaking the tension.

"What a joy this is." Andre said as he went up to Lisa. "The girl who to this day I still consider a second cousin has returned at last."

"Hi Andre." Lisa said with a smile.

"How are you doing?" Andre asked her.

"Okay I guess." Lisa answered. "It isn't easy being back here."

"Well you still did the right thing by helping the police catch Marie." Andre told her. "You shouldn't continue to beat yourself up about it. Come now, the funeral will be starting soon. You're all invited to attend by the way."

"Yes, we should get going." Desmond agreed.

With that, the group began to file out of the room, though Ash, Pikachu, and Lucario stuck behind for a moment and watched Andre from behind.

"You know guys, there's something I don't trust about that Andre guy." Ash said to the two Pokemon.

Author's Note: The first bit of this chapter was a bit of a review. There was a reference to my very first Pokemon story, Fire for Ice. Not my best work, but Marie/Noir Mask does play a fairly important role in it. Anyway, here is where Andre is fully introduced. And obviously he's not as nice as he seems. You've probably noticed that Ash is a fairly different character from before. This Ash is sort of the character I thought he should've developed into. But more on that at a later date.

Please review and let me know what you think.