Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon.


"What do you mean, I'm off the mission?!"

"Exactly what it sounds like! You're not coming with us!"

Ash rummaged through his drawer in search of anything that would be useful to him in the coming days. He inspected knives, rifle magazines, and body armor to take with him only the finest. Only problem is, he already planned out his inventory hours ago. He just needed an excuse to keep his hands busy and to avoid looking at the fuming redhead by his side.

"I'm on Team S, aren't I?" Huffed Misty.

Ash suddenly slammed the drawer back into the built-in wall dresser and glared at her. His voice was unexpectedly calm but his facial expression told otherwise. He took an ominous step forward, while she nervously took one back, alarmed by his ever-changing moods. "You've been here, what, a few weeks? And you want in on a mission of this caliber? Ha! Don't make me laugh." There was no hint of amusement in his eyes.

"I-I've proven myself dozens of time," stammered Misty.

"You landed a mere punch on my jaw. Yes, that's definitely going to stop Team Rocket in their tracks." Ash rolled his eyes. "So you think you can do everything now? I haven't even taught you how to properly shoot a handgun yet!" Ash inched forward into the girl's space.

Misty continued taking steps backwards but stopped when she felt the smooth surface of the wall against her back. Ash stepped closer to her until mere centimeters separate their bodies. Misty could feel his body heat emanating from him. She had to crank her head to look at his face. She knew what he was thinking but she wasn't going to be so easily intimidated.

Ash tilted his head down to look into her eyes. "You're far from ready."

As usual, Misty continued to be stubborn. She stared defiantly at Ash. "Maybe the problem lies in my instructor."

Ash's eye twitched. "My teaching methods are perfectly fine, mind you."

"Ha! Then why couldn't you get me ready in a few weeks?"

"Key word here is weeks. Please, most of the Trainers around here have months and years under their belt. You're like a little toddler holding a gun. Highly dangerous. Little girls shouldn't play with big boy toys." Ash drawled the last words to mock Misty's stubbornness, but quickly regretted saying the words. Misty was even more dead set on arguing now.

"Are you kidding me, Ketchum? There are tons of girls on the force. And May! She's on Team S, isn't she?" Misty was getting worked up.

"May has been a Trainer for years. Once again, you're forgetting the most important fact about you. That you've only just begun training!" Ash was exasperated. She just couldn't see reason. Why was she so dead set on joining the mission anyway? "You leave me with no choice. I'm pulling the Boss Card."

"The… Boss Card?"

Ash cleared his throat. "Misty Waterflower, as your superior officer and commander of TRAINERS, I order you to keep watch over the base and our belongings during the next few days as a reserve soldier. Should anything happen at HQ, you'll be the first to be called into action." He grinned cheekily.

Misty stared at him in shock. "You jerk! You know as well as I do that nothing of the sort is going to happen!"

"Exactly." Ash turned around and headed towards the exit door.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to discuss strategy with Gary."

With that, the door closed behind Ash, leaving Misty alone in his room. She forced herself to take deep breaths in slow intervals, calming herself. Misty looked at the ground and tried to stop the threatening tears from falling.

I wish you'd stop leaving me behind.


Team Satoshi.

Otherwise known as Team S.

It is composed of only the finest Trainers, including two commanders. Ash is the leader of the squad with Gary as his right hand man. May is a real pro at espionage and Pokémon battling, mostly using her past contest skills to create diversions. Misty is the newest addition to the team, through Ash's insistence (to keep an eye on her). And there is one more man in the squad but he is currently away on a reconnaissance mission.

It is probably risky to have two commanders out in the front lines, but Ash wouldn't have it any other way. Desk jobs don't sit well with him.

Ash strode down the hall towards the elevator. He punched in the number for Gary's floor and patiently waited out the long descent. Gary likes to live deep underground. Said he wanted to stay close to the lab, but Ash couldn't understand why. Ash prefers to get away from all of it, so he lives at the highest floor. The Peak.

Ash rubbed his face with both of his hands, trying to shake off his agitation.

Team Satoshi is to lead the defense.

To call Team S on this mission, means it will be a challenging one. Team Satoshi only takes on the threatening missions; other than that, the squad is busy overlooking base activities.

To take Misty along on this mission…

Ash groaned. Why can't she see that that will be a stupid decision. She's not READY. Ash would never forgive himself if she got herself hurt when his attention is diverted by some Team Rocket goon.

Or worse. Killed.

He can't keep her at base forever. But just this time.

Let me protect you.

The elevator dinged with its arrival and the metal door slid open. Ash stepped out and made his way towards Gary's door. He knocked twice and counted till five. Gary opened the door right on the second.

"Hey, man. Come in."

Gary led the way to his living room. It has a sleek, masculine theme. His furniture and walls were either black, white, or purple. The couches were boxy and the coffee table and side tables were clear glass. Gary sat in the armchair while Ash chose the black, leather sofa. The huge, flat screen TV is on mute, displaying a news channel. Gary likes to keep up with current events; he uses them to predict enemy movements. A laptop sat on the coffee table; blueprint maps of the research facility were open on the screen.

Gary noted the deep furrowed eyebrows and dark look on Ash's features. "Wanna talk about it?"

Ash shook his head. "Not really." He sighed. "Let's talk strategy."

"Right." Gary rotated the laptop screen to face Ash. "So the research facility is about a quarter-mile wide and long. A square you can say. Hidden deep within the forest between Cerulean City and Vermillion City. We'll take the Jeeps since the facility is deep within the forest. There's a trail that we can follow. Now, notice an eight foot fence around the perimeter, but it's not electrified. In case wild Pokémon will be harmed, you know. Security cameras are set up every fifty feet…"

Gary looked over at Ash, who appeared to be in deep thought. However, Gary doubted it's related to the mission, since Ash hadn't even noticed that Gary stopped talking! A deep "v" was beginning to form between Ash's brows.

"…"

"…"

"…Ash."

"…"

"Yeah, Misty. Just head on over to my room; I'll be there in a sec."

Ash's head whipped around so fast it was a wonder he didn't get whiplash. His attention was immediately on Gary's front door, but there was no redhead in sight. Gary, on the other hand, sighed and leaned back in his chair, shaking his head.

"Ash, your head is not in the game. We can't have that."

"I know, I'm focused now."

"No, you're not," Gary told him sternly. "Sort it out before the mission. We can't have you distracted while lives are on the line."

Ash stayed silent for a few minutes, then released a huge sigh. "I had a fight with her."

Gary waited patiently. No need to question who "her" was. He had a pretty good idea of the only person capable of making Ash lose his cool.

"She… she wanted in on the mission. I lost my cool. She's a newbie. A mission of this caliber for a start? It's a freaking suicide decision." Ash sighed. "I took her off the list. We fought. I left to settle down at a buddy's room under the pretense of discussing strategy."

Gary leaned back and contemplated this. "I see where you're coming from. But let me ask you this: Suppose she was ready, and another mission comes along, would you still try to find an excuse to put her somewhere else?"

"I…" Ash knew the answer.

"She's tougher than she looks. Let her make her own decisions." Gary placed a hand on Ash's shoulder. "By then, I know that she's properly trained by our rock-solid commander. So I have no worries."

Ash nodded in agreement. Already forming an intense training schedule for the redhead.

"I'm kicking you out."

"Huh?"

Gary covered his mouth as he poorly executed a fake yawn. "I need my beauty sleep. We have a big day tomorrow. Shoosh!"


Ash broke into a sprint for his last lap.

Instead of heading back to his room, Ash decided to go to the gym, thinking the exhaustion and exercise would help clear his mind. Countless reps, weights, and stretches later and he still didn't feel satisfied.

Ash wiped the back of his neck with the towel. There's no use postponing the inevitable. He has to return to his room sooner or later. The machine beeped once, notifying Ash that he just completed his 6 mile mark. Ash decided that was a good time to stop and headed to the showers.


Ash gently pushed the door open, praying to the gods that the heavy door didn't have a squeaky hinge and alert the redhead of his presence. Ash peaked inside the small opening he made to see that all of his lights were off inside his room. He tiptoed inside and shut the door quietly.

No shouting, yet, he thought. Ash let his eyes adjust to the dark and scanned the room to pinpoint Misty's location. This is more dangerous than a ticking time bomb.

Once his night vision kicked in, Ash noted that she was nowhere to be seen. A cold feeling slithered down his back.

Ash began moving before his brain registered what was happening. He stumbled around the partition separating the living room from the kitchen. Misty wasn't there. The bathroom door is ajar and dark. She's not in the bathroom. Panic rose in Ash with each passing second. Ash dashed through the living room and glanced in the bedroom. Among his sheets, laid his girl.

Misty was curled up in a fetal position under his white sheets. Her red hair is a definite contrast to the bed. Her form rose and fell with each soft breath.

Ash sighed in relief and sagged against the wall. He thought for a second that he lost her. That he had gone too far and she would forever be lost to him.

Ash walked over and sat where Misty's body concaved. The bed dipped under his weight but Misty did not wake. Ash brushed back a strand of red hair that was covering her face. His fingers lingered a second longer on her skin before pulling away. Ash let out a long sigh.

By some unknown force, Ash felt the urge to kiss her. And he did. He slowly leaned down and brushed his lips across her forehead. Ash closed his eyes and reveled in the moment. His heart quivered as he pulled away, as if his own heart was protesting his actions.

Not yet, he told himself.

With his last remaining energy, Ash removed his socks and shoes and slid in beside Misty, not caring anymore how mad she would be when she wakes up. He hasn't slept in his own bed for over a month.

I'll just say I needed to get a good night sleep for the mission.

Ash turned on his side and cushioned his head on his arm. He gazed at Misty's sleeping face.

You don't… realize how much of a hold you have over me.


"Alright, men! Let's pick up the pace," Ash's booming voice echoed off the garage walls. Trainers everywhere were scrambling to make their final check of supplies. Once they were satisfied, they began to file in the vehicles. "Hurry up! When we come back, we'll have a feast!"

Various shouts rose up in delight and energy. It was the crack of dawn, yet the morale was unusually high.

Gary glanced at Ash while he was loading equipment onto the back of a Jeep. He, along with everyone else, noticed the shine and fire in Ash's eye. It piqued his curiosity.

Hmm, I'll ask him later. Gary smirked.

"We're leaving in five minutes! Anyone who isn't ready will just have to run after the Jeeps." Ash shouted for the last time and turned around.

About fifty feet ahead of him was Misty, who was staring at the ground. Her hands were clasped behind her back and she toed the concrete floor. He could tell that she was still irritated by the way her lips formed a pout and the way her eyebrows were drawn in. But as he stared at her, she didn't walk away. Or look up to meet his eyes.

Is she… here for me? Ash's heart raced with joy. He grinned and began walking to her.

Thirty feet.

Twenty feet.

Fifteen feet…

"Hey there –" Just as Ash opened his mouth, Misty looked up and began running full speed to Ash. Ash felt paralyzed as he saw the beauty making her way towards him. He lifted his hands to get ready to catch her.

Only to feel the breeze as she skipped by and went over to Gary.

"Gary, be careful on the mission, okay?" Misty said.

Gary laughed, "No worries. You'll be seeing my handsome face again soon." Ash didn't turn back. He didn't watch their interaction but he could practically feel the devilish grin that Gary was making behind his back.

Misty nodded.

Gary winked and went back to the Jeep to get settled in the driver's side.

Ash's left eye twitched and he felt like a fool as he lowered his arms back to his sides. Gone was the energy from before, it was replaced by disappointment and annoyance. Ash did a one-eighty and made his way to the Jeep.

Just as he was about to walk past her, he felt a tug on the back of his shirt. Thinking it was his imagination, he continued to walk until the tug became more prominent. Ash halted but didn't look back.

"You… better come back. You hear?" The girl told him.

The corner of his mouth drew up but he did not show his glee. He replied gruffly, "I guess," and walked off.

Ash made his way to the same Jeep as Gary and got in the passenger seat. Pikachu leaped onto Ash's lap just as he sat down. The Trainer rubbed his friend's ears.

"LET'S MOVE!"

Engines revved up. The garage doors lifted, revealing the early morning forest. Jeeps and trucks filed out after one another and they were off.

The group set off with heated energy. Battle cries and shouts echoed off the walls. Ash didn't join in the uproar verbally, but he was hiding his grin behind his hand.

In his mind, one word was repeated over and over.

YES!


Twelve hours later and the team arrived at the research facility.

From dawn to dusk, the group drove through countless miles of trees and land to reach the building. Luckily, drivers took turns handling the vehicles so nobody was thoroughly exhausted.

The Jeeps drove into the enclosed garage and waited in the dark. After a few moments, the ground shifted and the platform they were on descended.

Ash shifted in his seat to stretch. He looked back to see May sleeping in the backseat with Pikachu. He placed his hand on her thigh to shift her awake.

"Hmmm?" A frown graced her features.

"Wake up, sleeping beauty. We're here."

Gary let out a loud yawn as he turned off the engine. "I can't wait for some grub!"

The platform stopped at five hundred feet underground and blinding lights turned on. Ash scowled as he shielded his eyes from the blasted intrusion. He swung out of the Jeep and noticed a snow-white haired man in a lab coat making his way towards him.

Talk about being pale as a ghost.

But somehow it looked good on him. The lack of color makes him look otherworldly. The most striking feature was his eyes. Ice-blue. The man gave a friendly smile and extended his hand.

"Commander Ketchum, I am so grateful that you have come to our rescue. I am Professor Rowan, the head scientist of this establishment." Professor Rowan's eyes shown with appreciation for the man in front of him. Ash shook his hand with a firm grip.

"Hello, Professor Rowan. My team and I are always willing to offer help." Ash felt Gary come up to his side. "This is Commander Oak, my partner."

"How do you do?" Gary asked in greeting.

"Ah, the famous researcher who studied the Eevee evolutions! I hope that I will have the opportunity to discuss your findings with you some time?"

"No problem! I hear you have made progress in your research with the evolution of Kabuto…"

The two hit it off on research talk and Ash felt it was time to step back. He walked back to the Jeep where May is sitting. She was rubbing her eyes of the last traces of sleep.

"Grub time?"

Ash shook his head. "First, I have to give the orders."

"Boo."

Ash smirked and rounded the Jeep so he could stand to face the Trainers. Pikachu leaped onto Ash's shoulder. May followed the two and stood by Ash's side. She let out a shrill whistle to draw attention then returned to her stance with her hands on her hips.

"Listen up! Any day now, Team Rocket will arrive here to wreak havoc. Our mission is to protect this facility: people and Pokémon. With minimal… damages. Since we don't know when they are coming, teams will take turns surveying the perimeter. Do I make myself clear?"

"YES, SIR!" The Trainers answered back.

"Always know, that I'm proud to be serving with you. Let's all make it back to base in one piece!"

"YEAHHHHHHHHH!"

With that, Ash ended his speech. The morale of the Trainers was high. Ash made his way back to the Professor and Gary, both with passion in their eyes.

"Would you mind giving us the tour, Professor Rowan?"

"GRUB TIME!"

"Pi Pikachu!"


Misty swirled her spoon around the edges of her cereal. It has been more than twenty-four hours since the team set off for the research facility. During the night, without Ash or her electric friend to keep her company, the place was…

Lonely.

The dark bags under her eyes showcased how much sleep she lost by tossing and turning in the night. The brief dreams she had were vivid, violent, and…

Dark.

Misty shook her head to clear her doubts. They'll be fine. He won't go down that easy. She sighed and looked around the cafeteria. The cafeteria was noticeably emptier but there were still reserve Trainers about. Misty didn't feel like talking to anyone so she chose a table off to the side by herself.

I wish I had talked to him more…

Misty slammed her spoon down.

No, he will come back. So no more moping!

She slapped both of her cheeks and went back to finishing her cereal. The chair next to her slid out and a body sat down at her table. Misty looked up to find an auburn haired man grinning out her.

"Hey, Misty!"

"Ritchie! You didn't go on the mission?"

"Nah, my team is placed at the base this week. Fuuuun." He pouted. "So what have you been up to?"

"Nothing much." Suddenly a brilliant idea popped into her head. Her head snapped up and she looked at Ritchie with giddiness. The auburn haired man sweatdropped with nervousness.

"You're not doing anything in the next few days, right Ritchie?"

"Err…"


"Sir! A large number of unknown vehicles have appeared on the radar!"

"How close?"

"About ten miles from the base coming from the south!"

Ash stood up from the chair. Everyone in the command room turned to look at him. Anticipation electrified the silence.

"Trainers, let's move!"

At once, everyone scattered as Ash gave the order. An intercom alarmed the whole building into action. Trainers gathered their weapons and Pokémon. Once they were ready, they were to join their teams at their assigned areas.

Ash hurried to the next room to gather his own possessions. He clipped on his utility belt, which contained his knives, guns, and pokeballs. He patted them once, wishing his team luck. After putting on his bullet-proof vest, he met Team S outside in the hallway. Gary has a serious expression, but you can tell from the twinkle in his eyes that he was excited. May playfully saluted Ash.

However, someone was missing…

"Pikachu!"

The electric Pokémon took his place on Ash's shoulder. Now, everything was in place.

"Right, show time."


A team of Rocket goons crept up to the back door. One of them made a hand signal to the others. Together, they kicked the door open and rushed in, guns held high.

"Move, move, move!"

About fifty Rockets scattered throughout the dark building. Some of them made it into the central room which housed Pokémon for observation. A Rocket rushed towards what he thought was a silhouette of a Cyndaquil.

"Gotcha!" He leaped forward and caught the Pokémon inside a sack. But that was too easy. It wasn't even struggling. The Rocket grabbed the Cyndaquil inside and held it out. It felt soft… like a plushie –

"Ugh!"

"All units! All units! Steve is struck down! Trainers' presence confirmed! Turn on night vision specs!"

"Permission to open fire granted." Ash's voice sounded over the radio. He was standing in the control room, overseeing the action with hundreds of cameras.

While Rockets were stunned by the surprise attack, Trainers used the brief time to take down one-fourth of the total number of Rockets. Soon, bullets were flying left and right inside the research facility. All in the dark.

Trainers evacuated the scientists and Pokémon to an underground safe house about five miles away. This is a battle between TRAINERS and Team Rocket.

"Bill, I leave you in charge of this room. Keep me updated through the radio." Ash spun around to face Gary and May, both looking ready for action. "'Kay, team. We will be heading towards the right wing. They're struggling over there."

"Sir!" May saluted Ash.

"Let's move."

Gary opened the door and the trio exited into the hallway. As soon as the control room door closed, a distinct thud could be heard, indicating that the door locked itself.

Guns held close, Ash led the way to the right wing with May following him and Gary bringing up the rear. They made their footsteps light in order to not draw attention. Ash turned on his goggles and soon his entire vision turned green.

On the third intersection, Ash raised a hand and everyone stopped. He peeked around the corner to find a glowing white outline of a Rocket. Swiftly, Ash raised his gun and shot him in the chest.

The Rocket went down with a loud thud. Ash waited for a few seconds to see if anyone will come. He didn't hear any footsteps and approached the fallen Rocket to check on him. He was not breathing.

The trio proceeded down the hallway until they can hear shots being fired. Gary glanced to the right and saw a staircase. He pointed at it to Ash. Ash got the message and soon Gary was off. May and Ash crouched by the doors. Ash gave the signal to quietly open the double doors and they slipped inside the battlefield.

Ash darted to the side of a ten foot machine to hide behind. May ran in the opposite direction. From what he can see, there were about fifteen Team Rocket thugs in the room.

Ash took a deep breath, then he pivoted and started shooting. He scored two Rockets and they both went down. Ash whipped back around once bullets started flying in his direction.

"We have another Trainer coming from the left side. Ugh!"

Ash glanced over to see that was May's kill. He nodded and rose up again. He saw a Rocket member sneaking up on a Trainer, but took him down before he could do any damage.

"All right, Trainers! Let's take them down!" Ash shouted. Trainers cried out their agreement and the amount of firepower increased.

Pow Pow Pow!

Ash shot three bullets at a Rocket. He fell down a moment later. Ash took cover and checked his ammo. Still good. He could feel the adrenaline running through his body. His body was alight. Ash examined the scene again and fired at a thug's thigh, which made him fall to the ground. Ash fired again to end his misery.

SMACK!

"Gah!" Ash became alert. The shriek sounded over the radio so that meant a Trainer got hurt.

"Uwah!" Another Trainer down. What was hell?

Ash peered over the corner and searched for the cause. Then he found it. About a hundred feet away was a Jolteon tackling and electrifying unsuspecting Trainers.

Ash swore under his breath. "Pikachu!"

His yellow friend bounded up beside him, ready for action.

"Pikachu, I need you to take out that Jolteon for me. Can you do that?"

"Pi Pikachu!"

"Careful, buddy. It looks fast."

Pikachu got the message. It focused on its target then used Agility to zig zag its way and tackle the Jolteon.

"Jolt!"

Nice one, buddy. Ash spotted a Rocket readying his gun at Pikachu, but Ash was quicker. Another one down.

Ash took a survey around the room. About nine Rockets were left standing and at least two Trainers were injured.

Let's end this quick.

Ash unclipped a pokeball from his belt. He held it up to his lips and whispered, you're up, buddy.

He tossed it to where most of the Rockets were gathered. No one noticed a thing until a blinding white light spilled out.

"Primeape!"

"Uwaaaaaaaaah!"

Team Rocket cries echoed off the walls and the amount of firepower decreased. Ash could hear the pounding of flesh as Primeape's fist collided with Rocket goons. This was almost too easy now.

Ten minutes later, the room was silent. Ash guessed that Primeape had finished all of them by now.

"Bill, would you mind turning on the lights in the right wing for us?" Ash requested through his headset.

"Certainly, Commander."

Before long, the room was bathed in light. Ash reached up to remove his goggles. He abandoned his hiding spot and moved into the open space. Other Trainers rose up and began to cheer for victory.

"YEAAAAH!"

Ash found himself smiling along with his subordinates. Primeape came up to Ash, taking deep breaths. Ash crouched down and ruffled its fur.

"Great job, Primeape. You deserve a good rest."

"Primeape!"

Primeape returned to its pokeball in a stream of red light. Ash stood up and beamed at his soldiers.

"I'm not… done yet…" A grave voice sounded from behind a pillar. A bulky thug rounded the corner. The left side of his face was beaten to a purple pulp and he suffered several bullet holes through his uniform. He raised a shaky arm and took aim at the nearest person. Which happened to be May.

"NO!"

Ash dashed and somehow made it in time. He tackled May to the ground just as a gunshot sounded. A second later, another gunshot was fired. It came from Gary, who stood on a hanging walkway over the whole room, holding a rifle. He was fighting from above the battleground the entire time. He cursed his mistake at letting his guard down.

May and Ash both fell to the ground, with Ash landing on top of her. May wiggled her way out from underneath him and held his head in her lap. She turned him so that he was laying on his side rather than his back, which was getting soaked by his blood.

"Ash? Ash, speak to me!" May's shrieks became hysterical.

"Don't worry… It's just a graze."

"Just a graze?! I can see the bullet in your back, Dumbass!"

Ash hissed at the searing pain lodged in his shoulder. "Heh, is that it? It's nothing to me."

"Someone call Nurse Joy!"

Well, if a doctor is coming, then I guess it's alright for me to go to sleep. Right?

"Ash? Ash, stay with me. Ash? Ash!"

Soon, May's slaps on his cheeks felt like nothing at all.


AN: Hey guys! TRAINERS is one year old today! Yay! It's summer, so I will be writing a lot more from now on so expect great things! BTW I tweaked the previous chapters just a little bit... mostly grammar stuff.

Remember! Reviews make me extra happy! And THANK YOU all for waiting! Your words encourage me to write on.

FlowerInDarkness