Awakening

Chapter 43: Legacy (Part 2)

Jonathan wondered through the dark tunnels of the mountain, trying to regroup with his friends. He saw a strange light ahead and went to investigate. Odd shapeless shadows were casted on the walls of the large cave chamber, making little sense in relation to what it held. One figure stepped forward, surrounded in a shadowy mist and Jonathan was shocked to see him. "You're... me?" To his surprise, he found himself staring into a face identical to his own, in every way, except for the evil reflected in his eyes. "What are you?" He demanded uneasy.

"I'm you," a twisted version of his voice replied. "And I have a very important thing to ask myself. What is it that you hope to accomplish?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Jonathan challenged, "we're going to defeat Legend!"

"That's not what I asked," the copy shook his head. "What is it that you intend to do? To be the ideal Rocket ? What does that mean? What do you hope to accomplish? Aren't you bored? It's all pointless and boring isn't it? Your greatest fear is coming true. After this battle, it'll happen, what you fear the most."

"I don't fear anything!" Jonathan snapped. "Are you looking for a fight? Then why don't you just say it?"

"I wanted you to answer me first," the copy calmly insisted with a mocking air. "But I see that you won't, so I'll answer for you. All your life you've been a Rocket, it's all you know how to do. Your greatest fear is to lose your motivation, because then you'll have nothing. you've been going on missions and staying active, you've been training hard and climbing the ranks, but there's something missing, you've been bored."

"What are you, some kind of mind reader? If you are, then you should know I fully intend to defeat you. you should know I'm completely loyal to Team Rocket and that I'm happy with the life I live..." Jonathan paused, and glared at the copy. "It's true though, things have gotten a bit boring since Ashy's been asleep, but it's only natural to miss my best friend. That's about to end now, she's back and Zero came back with her, so things will be back to normal. Ashy will probably want to visit more regions and there's still so much of this world that Zero needs to see too. Maybe we can get Dorme and Volt to come too."

"That is your wish..." The copy grinned evilly. "It can never be, it will shatter sooner or later. You wait for the princess to return and restore things to the way they were, but that can never be. She has changed, she has mentally aged well beyond her years and mastered the aura after training non-stop for over three years. Her master, her pokemon and Zero are the only people she's had any direct contact with, she's grown out of being the little princess and is ready to take her place at the head of Team Rocket at any time. It's over, it's about time you were left behind, it had to happen eventually."

"Ashy wouldn't do that," Jonathan insisted.

"It would be better if she did, at least then it would be easier than to watch her fade away and become someone else..." The shadowy creature laughed. "It's sad, really..."

"I've had enough of you, Foxtrot, go!" The Flareon materialized outside of his pokeball and from the shadowy copy, another identical creature appeared, mimicking the form of the original. "So you copied me and now you're copying my pokemon. It doesn't matter, I'll show you the power of the original, fire blitz!"

The two Flareons, one real and one made of shadows dashed towards each other, their breath of fire flooding the chamber with light and dark light. The shadows reflected on the walls wavered strangely, like paper in the wind, still defying how shadows should normally function. The strange dark light tried to consume the flame, but the real fire shone too brightly and the false Flareon had to jump back. Foxtrot didn't relent, determined to finish the battle quickly. There was something in the atmosphere that gave him a sense of unease and he refused to be caught off guard. When Foxtrot attacked with overheat, the fake copied the move, the cave chamber once again filled with dark and light fire. It looked as if the real fire was victorious again, but the false Flareon remained unscratched. Foxtrot charged in and tackled the fake, he attacked with giga impact and was sure it was successful, but the fake remained the same, unharmed and unfazed.

'Something's not right...' Jonathan thought. He looked around and realized the shadows had grown larger reflected on the walls. A dark substance that move like water but had the consistency of fog mover from the walls to the ceiling and floor, threatening to swallow the whole area. Foxtrot didn't quite understand what was going on, but he quickly returned to his trainer's side. Jonathan watched him back down from the fight, it was as if Foxtrot had read his mind and moved before he could speak a warning. This had to be some sort of trap, the attacks were not having any effect and the shadows were growing. "Show yourself, show your true form!" Nothing happened, but the shadows continued to move unnaturally.

Jonathan recalled Foxtrot and tried sending out a different pokemon. Upon releasing Jolteon into the battle field, the shadowy Flareon took on her appearance and countered her thunderbolt with a dark light version of the same attack. The same thing occurred with Vaporeon. Jonathan recalled all his pokemon and tried to figure out the situation. When it looked like he was overpowering the shadow, it turned out to be all the opposite. "I guess there's only one thing left to do..." He approached the shadowy copy and walked past him.

"Wait!" The shadow began to walk along with the real one. "What are you doing?"

"I'm ignoring you, you're just an illusion after all, so there's no need to waste my time fighting you," Jonathan decided. "I'm going to look for the source."

"The source is yourself..." The shadow voiced.

"Myself..." Jonathan thought for a moment, then grinned victoriously. "Then this should be easy, thanks for the clue..." He focused and the shadows on the walls began to shrink and retreat, until the fake was gone as well.

The world turned into a blur and Jonathan found himself getting up off the ground. "You overcame it, that was faster than I thought." A glowing sword floated before him, a crystal Honedge.

"Who are you?" Jonathan got to his feet, staring at the rare pokemon in puzzlement. Something about him made him feel at ease.

"An ally," Honedge confirmed. "That illusion was created by a psychic, he's not too far from here. You were able to break free, which means you must have understood it."

"Yeah..." Jonathan nodded a bit uneasy. "I haven't been sitting around these past few years, I've trained hard and that includes a few courses on how to resist psychic attacks. I have no special powers of my own, so there's only so much I can do, but I can still fight. all I had to do was face my worries and remember that even if everything changes and nothing seems right in the future, I'd still do the same thing here and now..."

"But that's not really what you believe, you have hope for the future and surely it's not baseless," Honedge asserted.

"You're right..." Jonathan looked into the darkness of the tunnel ahead. 'I'm being silly thinking Ashy would change into a whole different person. Although, it still bothers me that I get so bored when she's not around, I suppose I'm just too used to being around her, yeah, that's it...' Focusing back on the present, he looked at the floating blade. "Can you tell where the psychic is? Is it Sabrina?"

"Up ahead, turn right, then left, then go down the middle, I see the source of the psychic energy there, a man covered in shadows," Honedge replied.

"Not Sabrina... could it be Tornado?" He had been spotted a few times but always slipped away, then eventually disappeared. Jonathan hurried ahead, determined to face the mysterious Tornado.

Following Honedge's directions, they arrived at another cave chamber inside the large mountain, a deep way in. They found the man covered in shadows, his expression empty and lost. "He is the one who attacked you. I wish I could help more, but I can only offer a thin layer of protection, as most of my energy has already been exhausted," Honedge explained.

"Don't worry, I can do the rest!" Jonathan called out his three eeveelutions and Fearow. Identical copies of them appeared made of shadows. Yet it felt different this time, it wasn't an illusion in a dream, this time, he would truly be facing Tornado's power. There were no growing shadows on the walls, but Tornado's power was instead drained with every attack the copies made, as they simultaneously fought.

The two Fearows circled each other in the air, the real one attacked with drill peck, the fake responding in the same way. Their beaks moved as swords colliding with each other. The real Fearow flapped her wings to gain the upper altitude then went down on her opponent with a flying attack. Seeing as copying the moves wasn't working, the shadowy Fearow tried to gain the advantage with u-turn. The attack was successful, but the real Fearow was far from defeated. She recovered quickly and dodged the incoming pluck attack with aerial ace, flying quickly to land another hit on the enemy.

The cave chamber was filled with fire from the lava plume attacks the two Flareon exchanged. Foxtrot moved forward, switching to fire blitz and pushing his opponent back against the wall. The shadowy Flareon sunk into the wall and emerged up from the floor behind him. The rock smash hit Foxtrot before he could turn around and the fake tried to finish him off with strength. Foxtrot recovered just in time to respond with fire fang. The shadow seemed to flicker to get free from the bite, but as soon as it became solid again to attack, Foxtrot was ready and swiftly attacked with giga impact, smashing the shadow against the cave floor.

Sparks flew across the arena, as Jolteon fought her shadowy twin. They both dashed into each other with wild charge, colliding in a bright light. Static collected in Jolteon's fur, while her shadowy counterpart remained the same. She hissed and attacked with rock smash, the shadow sinking into the floor to avoid the hit. Jolteon discharged a series of thunderbolt attacks all around, tricking the shadow into reappearing in one of the spots between her attacks. She reacted quickly with a charge beam, which took her opponent by surprise enough to make room for another rock smash, which that time hit the target full force.

Snow mixed with the static in the air and the flames all around creating a heavy steam all over the cave chamber as the two Vaporeon released their blizzard attacks. The fake tried to attack with hydro pump, which was frozen by the real Vaporeon's ice beam, the solid ice batted away with his tail, the pieces assaulting the shadow like knives. The enemy melted into a black watery substance then separated into two identical Vaporeon shaped shadows. The two attempted to tackle the real Vaporeon from both sides, but he dug into the ground to escape them. Vaporeon emerged a few feet away, releasing a shadow ball the second he jumped out of the tunnel. It hit one of the shadows, making it evaporate into nothingness, while the other retaliated with last resort.

The attack hit Vaporeon hard and tossed him back several feet. He got back on his feet as quickly as possible and dodged out of the way of the incoming shadow, who tried to reach him with strength. The shadow ran into a stray flame left from Foxtrot's battle, giving Vaporeon an idea. With a warning to his sister, he pushed the shadowy water type further back with an ice beam and Jolteon attacked with thunder. Leaving him to her, Vaporeon shot a hydro pump at the false Flareon and Foxtrot covered Jolteon's back with a powerful fire blast to the fake electric type.

Among the chaos the tree eeveelutions were creating by mixing up their battles, a shadowy Fearow fell, thrown out of the air by the force of the real Fearow's sky attack. Wind, fire, water and lightning flooded the battle field with the shadows sinking into the ground in retreat and not daring to appear in the same way anymore. A Gengar appeared next to tornado, as if she had been watching the whole battle go by, while keeping herself invisible. The shadows emerged from the ground again, but they were piled together into a shapeless form that wrapped around the ghost and took on the form of mega Gengar. "This ends now..." Her voice echoed, she was the same Ghastly who had accompanied Janebelle before.

"Together they will be powerful opponents," Honedge warned. He was glowing and shaking in mid air with the effort of trying to keep Tornado's psychic influence away. Jonathan and the pokemon could still feel a sort of pressure that made it hard to breathe and heard voices that rung out in their heads, trying to confuse them, but they knew it would have been a lot a worse without Honedge's protection.

"You're right about one thing... This will end!" Jonathan aimed his sword at the monstrous ghost, which was a lot bigger than a regular mega Gengar should be. "Nya, are you ready?" The purple feline emerged from her pokeball and perched on Jonathan's shoulder, meowing eagerly. She might have been trying to sound menacing, but in the end she only sounded cute.

Mega Gengar released a series of shadow balls in rapid succession. Fearow flew around them, her agility being pushed to the limit. The eeveelutions spread around the spacious cave chamber, dodging the attacks as well as the falling rocks. The mountain shook, as if vibrating in response to the ghost's dark pulse, which flooded the area and amplified the effects of Tornado's power. "I can't hold it any longer!" Honedge warned.

Jonathan's sword broke as it collided against another shadow, the blade being unable to take more of the colossal power it was being exposed to. The shadows surrounded him and tried to consume them in their darkness, but the pile of shadows found that it was on top of the empty ground and their target was several feet away. Nya tried to support herm allies with her psychic abilities, she knew little in the way of attacks, but had various abilities that could b used to assist, such as heal pulse. It wouldn't be enough though, Fearow, Foxtrot, Jolteon and Vaporeon were being overpowered. The dark pulse flooding the area made it hard and painful to even move, while the shadow balls didn't cease.

A shattering sound echoed and suddenly, the pain duplicated, causing Jonathan and his pokemon to collapse. He lifted himself up with difficulty and saw Honedge on the ground, the crystal pokemon's energy had been completely drained and they were now at Tornado's mercy. The world around him spun out of control, many frantic voices echoed in his head and it felt as if the very oxygen he tried to breathe was made of fire. "Honedge, lend me your blade... Nya, let's do this one more time, as fast as you can."

Jonathan picked up Honedge and faced mega Gengar. Nya tried to shield them with her psychic abilities, calm mind to try to focus and light screen to lessen the pain. She then teleported a short distance at a time, it was all she could do in the current conditions. Jonathan dashed forward between teleportations slashing at any shadows in his path, disappearing before the enemy could retaliate. He appeared right in front of mega Gengar and slashed at him with Honedge, Nya focusing her abilities on strengthening and protecting the blade. Mega gengar was cut as if it were a curtain covering the true pokemon inside, wispy black smoke came from within, "now!"

Four hyper beams entered the opening making the giant pokemon explode. Dark energy became smoke and few in every direction as the facade of mega Gengar melted to reveal Ghastly, in her true form without the forced evolution of Tornado's power. Tornado fell down on his knees, breathing heavily. The pain subsided and Jonathan looked at his exhausted pokemon. They give it all they had to make those powerful hyper beams and Nya was too tired herself to be able to heal them, she had given everything to empower Honedge and had nothing left. "Well done everyone, return." Having recalled, Nya, Fearow, Foxtrot, Jolteon and Vaporeon, Jonathan glared at Tornado, who remained silent.

Ghastly weakly floated towards him, "do you think this one is your greatest concern aside from Legend? He was weak in the end, so Legend left me in charge. This man is not my master, his power is mine to command!" Ghastly suddenly glowed brightly, pulsating with a force that threw Jonathan back several feet. Tornado let out an earsplitting wail as all his energy left him. He fell motionless to the floor, dead, while Ghastly once again took on the form of Gengar. She had been feeding off Tornado's energy the whole time and used the last of his strength to recover.

"Give me your aura, I will use it to strengthen my blade for the final blow!" Honedge urged.

"I don't have any aura powers," Jonathan replied, dodging the rays of dark light that Gengar shot at him.

"All living creatures have aura, even if they cannot control it. Do not resist and I will be able to project your aura on my blade," Honedge explain.

"Alright, do all you can, take my energy," Jonathan moved in for the attack, purple and black ghostly energy came at him, making approaching the target very difficult. He narrowly dodged, the rock formation next to him, in front of which he stood a second ago ignited into black flames and melted into ashes in seconds. He was feeling the exhaustion of the battle, plus Honedge was using his energy now too. He pushed the fatigue to the back of his mind and rushed forward, narrowly evading the attacks until he was so close he could only block.

The crystal blade shone brightly, empowered with his energy and it collided against a shield of shadowy power. Honedge vibrated with power as stones fell from the cave ceiling and Jonathan's boots dug into the ground by the force at which he was being pushed back. With one last burst of power, Gengar released all her accumulated energy, the shadowy power passing left and right of Honedge, cut apart by his blade, striking Jonathan like a thousand needles. He refused to give up and Honedge glowed brightly, cutting through the shadow power and into Gengar, who became Haunter and finally Ghastly again. The crystal blade cut all the way through in a fatal wound that could send even a ghost to its grave. Ghastly was no more, dissolving into wisps of shadowy energy and disappearing at last.

Jonathan fell to a sitting position, then fell back as the dizziness rushed to his head, exhausted, but victorious. "We won..." he breathe heavily.

"Ghastly was no longer of her own mind..." Honedge, his crystal blade now lacking light, spoke solemnly as he lay motionless on the ground, the handle of the sword still in Jonathan's hand. "She was corrupted into a tool of Legend and that man... He was had been truly dead for a long time now, a vessel that only carried power and not a soul. Restoring them would have been impossible. We cannot allow this to continue. I can feel Ash pouring life into Mew and the Tree of Beginning, if don't hurry his fate will be the same as Sir Aaron..." Honedge's voice turned quieter as he spoke, until he said no more. Jonathan made no sound or motion to reply, his fingers loosening their grip on the sword handle until his hand went limp.

xoxox xox xoxox

Dorme and Volt made their way through the cave as quickly as they could. They were filled with a strange mix of concern and anticipation for the coming battle, but most of all, they were looking forward to seeing their friend again. Volt found himself wondering about things he should not be wondering about at the moment, but figure he might as well get it out. 'Johnny said he didn't mind...' he reminded, recalling with the ease that the other boy had stated the fact.

"Of course I don't mind if you ask her out, I think you should!" A small protest with a reminder and all that Volt got in response was a laugh and a carefree reply. "Yeah, we did date, but it didn't last long and now I'm surprised either of us even thought it would. I think she said something about liking her idea of me more than me and I guess I liked being liked. In the end Dorme and I had to laugh at ourselves for it, but as you know, we're still good friends." Volt could almost feel the pat on the back and see the same encouraging grin on his friend's face. "She's not going to wait if you tell her an auction for a collectible just came up, she doesn't collect anything so she wouldn't understand. She expects a lot of attention, and can get annoying when she's in hair care mode, but then you must be used to that by now. If you can survive that, her shopping trips, and make sure not to... what did she call it... 'geek-out' about comics more than once a week, you'll be fine. Don't try to correct her when she talks about sparkly vampires and weird stuff like that, she can't stand not having her mythology her own nonsensical way. Just don't rush it, you'll know when the time is right to ask her."

"Volt!" Dorme called out again, this time getting a reaction at least. "Quit spacing out!" She snapped.

"Do you want to go out with me?" Volt blurted out all of a sudden.

Dorme stopped running, she looked at if she wanted to appear scolding, but couldn't stop smiling. "Idiot... "

"Is that a no?" Volt frowned. This was not the time and he knew it, but he couldn't take it back now.

"Actually, I was going to ask you out when we were in Kalos," Dorme revealed. "I had a romantic evening planned out and everything, though given the situation we're in, they'll probably send someone else to check on Kalos, which is fine by me, I don't want to leave Kanto just when Ashimi and Zero are returning. It's just too bad I'll lose my dinner reservations..." She went on about the restaurant she wanted to dine at and about how difficult it was to get reservations, especially on such short notice, noting that it would have been impossible if not for her Rocket connections.

Volt half listened to the speech about the restaurant as the realization hit him, Jonathan knew about this. That's what he meant by not rushing and waiting for the right time. He didn't say it because Dorme needed further convincing before she would consider the possibility, he said it because he knew of her intentions and tried to help preserve the occasion without revealing it. "Dorme..." Volt snapped back into reality, all too aware of their situation now that he got the question off his chest. "Maybe we should talk about this later. I mean I know I was the one who brought it up, and I'm happy you agreed, but..."

"But we need to go help Ashimi beat up Legend first?" Dorme supplied with a grin.

"Right!" Volt smiled back and they were on their way.

Dorme turned a corner into another tunnel, she wasn't sure where she was going, but she wouldn't get anywhere if she didn't move. She made it into a large cave chamber with clear signs of a recent battle and screamed. Volt appeared in a split second next to her, following her trembling finger to where she pointed at Jonathan's still form. "No! Is he dead?"

"Not unless your screaming can wake the dead, " Jonathan groaned as he sat up.

Dorme pouted, but couldn't help it but to smile in relief, "very funny."

"Looks like you had a rough time," Volt observed.

"Not as bad as Tornado," Jonathan glanced at where the dead body still lay. He stood up and picked up Honedge, "you okay?"

The crystal blade pokemon began to float, "I will recover," he assured. Volt and Dorme switched between staring at Jonathan, Tornado and Honedge with questions in their eyes. "I'll explain, but I'll have to make it quick..."

xoxox xox xoxox

The shadowy spear narrowly missed its target as Stella moved with amazing speed and gripped Arrow's throat. "Wake up, or I'll kill you!" She shouted at him with uncharacteristic anger. She was usually quite good at keeping her cool, but people who gave into mind control annoyed her. She was the daughter of an urban legend after all, yet she did not give into the need to murder needlessly and rejected her father's instinct. She was herself and anyone not strong enough to guard their own identity deserved a good beating. She heard Daala yelling, but paid no attention.

The helmet of black energy dissolved into smoke from Arrow's head to reveal his pained expression. "I'm trying..." he gasped. He was tossed aside by the mysterious woman whom he knew now couldn't possibly be an ordinary human.

"I feel it stronger than ever, the need to kill, the need to consume something delicious and forbidden." The white haired woman looked at him as if he were food. Her eyes were wild and hungry with the temptation of human meat. "Yet I will not give up... How long have you been here? How long did it take for Legend to use your own insecurities to break your mind? That won't happen to me... It won't..." Though she insisted on that, her look was increasingly wild.

"Stella!" A familiar voice called. Electro arrived at the scene, his blue Pikachu on his shoulder.

Stella breathe heavily, then relaxed. "I won't give up... Because the life I live now is precious..."

The armor that surrounded Arrow faded into smoke as he finally broke free from Legend's control. "I won't give up either... whatever was, whatever will be... I won't give up." If nothing else, he could at least count on Daala to be there for him as she had been for the past two years, and that was enough.

xoxox xox xoxox

Ashimi made it to the center of the mountain with relative ease. She knew her father was at the core several feet above. As for Legend, it awaited below, underground at the base of the mountain. It was allowing her to approach, no doubt feeling confident in its victory. Ashimi hurried to the battle, knowing that her friends were facing their own battles as well. She arrived in a deep underground chamber that lit dimly up with many crystals on the walls. A cloaked figure stood across it, a doll was a few feet away with an injured and weakened Gengar holding it protectively though he could barely stand. Ashimi could feel an invisible shield around them, she wouldn't be able to get near them. The doll held the vital energy of Sabrina, but she felt weak, drained of all her power. The vessel that was once hers was now under Legend's control along with most of her power.

"You do realize you're facing me on my own terms." Legend spoke and though the voice came from Sabrina's mouth, it wasn't really hers. It was a warped echo that couldn't really be called the voice of a human. "Not that I'm expecting you to give up." The chamber soon became flooded with brainwashed pokemon that made their way in through tunnels that opened and closed behind them.

The guardians of the tree where notably absent and Ashimi felt reassurance in knowing that there were some with a spirit so strong that Legend couldn't control them, though they were still unable to defeat it. Ashimi released all her pokemon at once, flooding the cavern with bright lights before it returned to its dim illumination. Her loyal Raichu, Lightning, jumped off her shoulder and joined the others. It was something that had happened when they returned, Lightning had trained hard and grown so strong in spirit that when he returned to his body, he evolved even without a thunder stone.

Wartortle had reached his final evolution as well and emerged from his pokeball as Blastoise. The others had increased their power too and would have evolved if they weren't already in their final forms, though somehow there was still a change in them, they looked undeniably stronger, especially Chari, whose tail flame was bigger and brighter than that of most Charizards. This was what they had been training for, and they didn't hesitate to begin the battle.

A multitude of Dugtrio emerged from the ground, shaking up the entire chamber. Blastoise resolved to cover the surface in ice with his ice beam. This significantly hindered the Dugtrio's attacks, as they weren't as effective trying to reach their opponents from the walls and ceiling. Blastoise kept the floor frozen, creating a constantly regenerating wall at their feet. If the ice cracked, it was smoothed out so quickly that the effects of the earthquake were inconsequential.

Chari coated the ceiling and walls with fire, keeping the flames going to rid them of the remaining Dugtrio threat. The small pokemon might not be too strong on their own, but when many got together like that, they were dangerous. The ice on the ground was no problem for the rest of Ashimi's team, they were used to making their way through more difficult terrain. The ice beam was strong enough to keep the ground frozen despite the burning walls and ceiling and the pokemon slid by, using the terrain to their speedy advantage. Taking control of the battle by creating a unique arena was part of the training Ashimi and her team had gone through.

Crobat filled the area with super sonic waves as more pokemon poured into the chamber. A dozen Arboks surrounded the group, their movements somewhat sluggish due to their lack of coordination because of Crobat's super sonic waves and the difficulties of the terrain. The Arboks began to attack with acid spray in every direction, but Ashimi's pokemon dodged the deadly liquid. Most of the Dugtrio had been knocked out by this point because of the fire and ice. Clefable's eyes glowed as she focused her telekinesis and lifted the Arboks in the air. They struggled against her mental grip, but a thunder attack from Lightning made them stay still enough for Clefable to cause their long bodies to be entangled in a mass of living knots. She flung them against a wall in an area where there were still flames left. They collided heavily and fell to the ground.

The cave swallowed up some more of the flames as it made way for another tunnel to open and close after depositing more combatants into the battle field. A group of five Parasect rushed in, but stopped abruptly when a breeze and blur went past them. They felt the shifting of air again, as it moved to give way to something that was moving very fast. The blur was accompanied by an odd sort of mixture of pain and relief as the parasitic plant that overtook them was cut off. They attempted to attack with poison powder, only to realize the mushrooms they intended to use for that purpose have been discarded. A smug looking Persian appeared in front of them, seemingly out of nowhere and the identity of the blur they had witnessed became clear. Furball swiftly swung his tail at them, with only one being miraculously fast enough to jump allowing it to pass under, though that was the one at the far end of the row. Before the Paras even hit the ground again, an electrical current from Lightning's thunderbolt made its way to the target and they were all knocked out.

The ground shook again as the stone walls, floor and ceiling swallowed up the fire and ice in them, in an attempt by Legend to get rid of the arena's obstacles. A group of varied pokemon entered the chamber next: Poliwrath and its younger evolutions as well as Muk and Grimer. The water types tried to flood the cave chamber with the Muk and Grimer polluting the water. Lightning and Furball were quick to release a powerful double electric attack all over the area while Blastoise hovered using his water canons as a sort of jet pack and Clefable floated with her psychic levitation. All the pokemon touching the ground were severely electrocuted and the plan to flood and poison the area was stopped. Chari gave the finishing touches by evaporating the remaining excess water, leaving only a few small puddles.

The cave chamber itself began to shrink, though Clefable interfered, willing it to remain large and wide with her own telekinesis. Blastoise followed up by creating strong pillars of ice to hold the walls apart. Crobat speedily zoomed by, barely perceptible to the naked eye, and threw a sludge bomb at Legend. It bounced harmlessly against the psychic shield, but it was still a daring move. A look of annoyance came across the face that was originally Sabrina's as the cloak was discarded. Her clothing were similar to what she would wear in the time when she first met Ash, but devoid of any bright colors, now gray and black, they were torn and dirty, as if the current inhabitant of the vessel simply didn't care.

Out of annoyance rather than a sense of danger, Legend raised the hand of the vessel it now commanded as if to snatch Crobat out of the air. Then its head snapped to the side where Ashimi now stood next to the Gengar that held the doll. She poured her energy into the doll, stabilizing Sabrina's consciousness within. Legend laughed, "was a distraction really needed to obtain that useless creature? I care not if you take it." The warped voice took on different tonalities as it spoke, as if people of different, ages, genders and regions, were each speaking a group of syllables from near and far in various volumes and tones.

Chari landed near Ashimi and picked up the Gengar who wouldn't let go of the doll. He was too weak to try to summon any of his ghostly abilities and could focus only on protecting his trainer. The Charizard quickly flew to the other end of the large chamber while Ashimi replied. "Then you won't mind if Sabrina watches from over there until I return her body to her."

Legend only laughed, "let us continue."

"No, not like this," Ashimi glared. "I know this mountain holds many pokemon prisoner, not only from the Kanto region but also many others. You're just getting started, but as you can see, this won't work. If you think you can tire us out, you are very wrong. Stop this and cut to the chase, if you won't fight for real, I will!" With great intensity, she formed a ball of blue energy in her hands and threw it at Legend who swiftly dodged out of the way, teleporting. Without missing a beat, Ashimi ducked out of the way of a punch that came from behind and spun, her hands shining with the aura, ready to shoot it at her opponent, yet she found nothing but empty air.

The brainwashed pokemon stopped pouring into the chamber, instead Ashimi could sense them being sent out where they found Team Rocket right outside the force field that surrounded the Tree of Beginnings. She focused on her own portion of the fight, trusting the others to take care of the mind controlled multitude that came from Legend's base. Lugia appeared, though Ashimi knew it was not real, only a manifestation of Legend's power. The pokemon let out a roar and began to freeze the cave chamber. Sword-like spikes of ice emerged from the walls and shot through the air. Crobat evaded them, Chari dodged some and melted other, while the other pokemon similarly found ways to keep themselves from being impaled.

Ashimi saw Legend standing upside down on the roof and began to run in that direction, she jumped and instantly Chari flew by, catching her in mid air and heading towards Legend, her breath aflame. Legend teleported again but was hit by an orb of aura that Ashimi shot before her opponent reappeared. With enough focus she could predict the location of the teleportation. She jumped off Chari, letting her join the others in the battle against the false Lugia, while she went in Legend's pursuit. Though all of Ashimi's pokemon were fighting together, their attacks never hit each other and often complimented each other, they were very attuned to each other after all their training.

The ice melted from the cave chamber to be replace by lava. Clefable held Lightning, Furball and Blastoise in the air along with herself and Gengar, while Chari and Crobat flew. electricity and a poisonous mist was shot from Lugia's mouth in powerful beams that were aimed at Clefable. Blastoise intercepted them with hydro pump, the electricity following the pillar of water and the poisonous mist diminishing. Clefable, despite her already present effort, dispelled the rest of the poisonous atmosphere with her healing and support abilities. Chari let out a series of fire blasts straight at Lugia, who was protected by an invisible shield, the spherical shape of which could be seen when energy collided with it.

Furball suddenly landed on Chari's back then fearlessly leapt towards Lugia, claws out. The false legendary opened its mouth as if to bite or even swallow the Persian, but was hit by a hyper beam from the feline, the force of which threw Furball back, landing on Chari's back again. Before Lugia could recover and put its shield in place again, Crobat zoomed towards it like a bullet and hit the target hard with fly, then released a series of shadow balls straight at Lugia. Lugia roared as spears of ice followed, stabbing it with their sharp points thanks to Blastoise alternating between hydro pump and ice beam.

The fire that flooded the chamber faded and Lugia was unable to remain in the air and landed heavily. Lightning dashed in with Volt tackle, knocking the false legendary back. Together, all the pokemon combined their power in hyper beams to finish the illusion of a legendary. Rayquaza suddenly appeared, materializing out of thin air as Lugia melted into black smoke. It spun and spiraled, it's body untouchable with the electrical currents that surrounded it, steam came from the false legendary indicating it's unusually hot temperature.

Legend landed on Rayquaza's back, running up the length of its body to its head. Ashimi shot another blast of aura energy but knew she couldn't be able to hit it from that angle. She jumped onto Rayquaza's body, fighting to keep her balance and coat her body, especially her feet, with the aura so as to not be affected by the heat coming from the illusion of a legendary. She hurried towards legend while Rayquaza shot beams of energy that seemed to change in element every time, water, fire, electricity, darkness and everything in between. Poisonous petals danced around the chamber, coming from everywhere and nowhere.

Legend attacked Ashimi with the psychic power stolen from Sabrina and she had to focus on blocking her influence, making her own aura flow as it should, preventing Sabrina from forcing it to move differently. Chari broke free from the battle and snatched up Ashimi, tossing her onto her back. She wouldn't need to dodge then since Chari would do it. That was the way the Charizard was, a sort of big sister to the other pokemon, always watching out for them and especially for her trainer. Legend tried to knock Chari off balance, but Ashimi shielded them both, they moved as one, their fire and aura orbs complimenting each other perfectly.

Chari dove in the air, her flames encasing Legend, who momentarily had to focus on defense. Rayquaza switched the attack on the other pokemon towards Chari as she passed. The split second was costly as a powerful Hydro pump hit Rayquaza in the face. Crobat was once again blasting Legend with shadow balls and sending super sonic waves to diminish the affectivity of the psychic energy concentration around it. Than Lightning fell from above with an unusual vertical volt tackle that knocked Legend off Rayquaza's head. The Raichu had hopped on Chari as she passed and jumped off when she was high enough. An iron tail to the head from Furball and it looked like Sabrina's body had been knocked out. An explosion rung out with Clefable's metronome, followed by several hyper beams from all the pokemon and Rayquaza was gone, melted in smoke.

There was a moment of silence in which only heavy breaths were heard. Ashimi and her pokemon could go for hours, though the atmosphere in the chamber was so heavy that it made it harder, none the less, they were still feeling very strong. Legend lifted Sabrina's form off the ground with an impatient expression. Ashimi frowned, "why don't you stop the act? You might have needed a vessel in the past, but now you don't, you have enough power to exist without one. Besides, if you truly wanted to destroy Sabrina for capturing you, you would have done it already. That body is only a hindrance to you." As if to prove the point, Lightning sent out very precise electric pulsations that invaded the vessel's nervous system and caused every indication of pain to flare up, well beyond the real extent of the injuries.

Legend cringed then laughed, "I suppose that's true." A dark shadowy mist emerged from Sabrina and form an orb of surprisingly bright light, though it was dimmed as it continued to come out, surrounded in darkness. It's aura, it's living energy, felt evil, yet not pure evil, Ashimi realized now that her senses were much more precise and harder to overwhelm. The other part that wasn't evil, wasn't good either, it was more so neutral, that was the only word she could assign to it. She thought of the energy as aura because it was indeed living energy, but it was strange, it didn't have any links to a personality. She had thought that after Legend manifested as a separate being, it would develop a personality of its own. She had been the magnet that attracted the evil energy, thus Legend turned out like this, but at its core it was neutral. It could have gone the other way, albeit if it drained the good energy from Team Rocket, then she didn't want to think about how the organization would become. It couldn't drain all the evil from it of course, the members would still be people who were not pure good or evil.

Then she realized it, Legend was not a being alone but a manifestation of many beings. It copied traits from all the members of Team Rocket, the strongest traits resurfacing, though the more powerful it became, the more energy was mixed in, the less unified those traits became, except for one thing, the need to plot and destroy. Legend was a time bomb, she realized, it would take as much as it could, then, when there was little left to take, it would explode, that's what it intended to do now, to explode in a massive wave of destruction. The core of it all puzzled her.

She knew of Legend's development, but if it had been only evil energy being attracted to her, she would have absorbed it, but she didn't. In the end, Ashimi grew out of her stage of a pure child and became a person with faults and virtues, who got angry, jealous or bitter as often as any normal human being, even when the good traits won out. Why during all that time had she been the magnet but not the core? What prevented the energy that once inhabited her vessel from merging with her own? It all spun around that core, that was Legend and she had to know what it was to defeated it.

Deoxys appear in attack mode, but its figure was warped and could hardly retain the Legendary's appearance. Sparks flew as Lightning and Furball combined their electrical abilities. Clefable played a defensive role for the time being while Sabrina reclaimed her human form. Blastoise' hydro pumps and Crobat's shadow balls blasted into the ceiling as Deoxys quickly moved. Chari was with Ashimi, trying to get closer to the dark orb that threw shockwaves at them that could not be seen but were sharp like knives. Ashimi had to sense them, guiding Chari to dodge by communicating directly with her aura, there was simply no time for words.

Deoxys' image wavered as if it wasn't even there, Lightning and Furball changed to a different strategy, letting a soft flow of electricity escape them, the energy moving as it pleased and revealing the true location of the energy that Legend had released to project the image of Deoxys. With Sabrina's aura having successfully transferred from the doll back to her body, Clefable joined the others, save Chari who was currently busy with Ashimi, in dispelling the energy with another team hyper beam. Deoxys disappeared, though the black smoke was several feet away, where the hyper beams had hit.

Furball scaled the rocky walls of the cave, then jumped towards the dark orb, releasing a powerful thunderbolt. Clefable gave Lightning a boost for another vertical volt tackle, though like Furball's energy, Lightning when right through, crashing into the ground below. The Raichu jumped out of the crater he created and looked up, wondering how that was even possible. It looked like Legend was making an effort to keep a distance from Chari, but why if their attacks weren't working. Blastoise's hydro pump further confirmed the usual situation, going through the orb and colliding with the cave ceiling. Crobat charged in with aerial ace but also went right through the target. They realized than that it wasn't Chari's fire blasts that Legend was paying attention to, it was Ashimi.

"Legend, you're not even pretending to have a physical form now," Ashimi realized.

"I don't need it, why waste energy emulating it?" Legend replied, "come, consume all your energy uselessly." Black smoke flooded the cave, Legend's strategy was to drain their power. Any pokemon that was not so well trained would have been brainwashed, but they were strong, yet putting all that energy into defense, into keeping their free will, would eventually take its toll.

"You say come, but you're trying so hard to keep me away," Ashimi glared. Chari finally landed next to the other pokemon and Ashimi jumped off her back. 'You don't want me to know what you are,' she thought. If that was the case, then she had to know, she had to resolve the inconsistencies. She knew for sure Legend had to have a core, hence why it didn't fuse with her in the past, or with Sabrina later on after the psychic was no longer able to hold it prisoner, she couldn't stop the energy from flowing towards Legend, only slow it. Ashimi needed answers, anything else would be a waste of effort if they had no real direction. She sat on the ground and closed her eyes in concentration.

Legend's shadowy energy moved as if in uneasiness and it attacked, but it found itself colliding with a shield that encompassed Ashimi and the pokemon, as well as Gengar and Sabrina, who could only watch at that point. The psychic had recovered her powers, but she would need a lot of rest before she could use them again. For a second Sabrina wondered how Ashimi could focus on finding her answer and protect everyone at once, then she realized there was actually very little thought flowing from her to the shield. The psychic couldn't do much with her powers except sense, so she did.

Sabrina realized then that the missing seal upon Ashimi's aura was indeed still missing, but she fashioned a sort of artificial one with her own aura, surely that was no easy task to master. She could allow other auras to flow into her, though those auras had their own core, her pokemon. Their will influenced her aura and she allowed it with full trust in them, receiving their energy and allowing them to focus her power for her while her mind was concentrated in other matters. The artificial seal of energy allowed access only to her pokemon, strongly blocking any other possible influences. They truly were as close to being one as they could be without entirely merging into a single creature. The trust and the bond between them was something beyond all possibilities.

The vision that Ashimi saw was an unexpected one, she could feel her father's aura as if he was nearby, though he was a distance away, above her underground location. The flow of energy was strong and she felt the answer lay with him, though not in his consciousness. Ashe felt his daughter's inquiry and focused on it, while still allowing his energy to flow out into Mew. The Tree of Beginnings wasn't as close to death as when he first began the process now. Ashimi saw her own father as a boy leaving Pallet Town. Her attention was caught by Ho-oh and by the burst of energy that occurred at that point in time.

The flow of Ash's energy indicated that he had not been aware that such a tremendous amount of energy was released at that very moment. He didn't realize that he had been an inch from death and that his aura, that he didn't even know about at the time, had partially healed him, enough so that his injuries were mere scratches in comparison to what could have been. Ho-oh had flown overhead then, the pokemon becoming caught in the invisible burst of energy that came from the chosen one, his powers suddenly amplified immensely. The legendary bird granted a wish, but it was a wish that was so strong, it could not normally be granted, not even by the power of Ho-oh and Celebi combined, yet with the great power of the chosen one, his aura refusing to perish so soon, the wish was granted, a wish of eternal happiness.

For years Ash was living in a waking dream, until one day, he was reunited with misty and they talked. He still had the same personality, the same thirst for challenges, even if he had matured in many ways, he was still a boy at heart and he was content with that. Yet during Misty's time apart from Ash, the haze of the dream had lifted slightly and she spoke of the future, of growing up and of things that teenagers often dream of doing when they become adults. Such hopes, such dreams, such challenges seemed unappealing at best for a the most part in the past, yet Misty spoke of growing up as an adventure.

Misty was filled with impatience, it seemed, as if adulthood couldn't come soon enough, yet Ash, had wanted to be a boy forever. He contradicted her, they argued and in the end, as they always did, they reconciled, and traveled together for a while. Then finally he let it go, his aura released the grip it had on Ho-oh and the frozen flow of time picked up again. The haze of the dream lifted and once again, Ash continued to age. Yet no one knew, no one was aware of the fact that a little over a month away from eleven, for ten years, he had been ten years old. He moved on with his life because of the curiosity Misty awoke in him, and yet to him, it seemed normal, like he had grown out of wishing to be an eternal child as soon as anyone else, those years, were forever sheltered in a dream-like haze that no one questioned.

The flow of time is a peculiar thing, the timelines are attracted to each other, seeking to merge. "Destiny is not a prewritten path, destiny is the influence of our other selves trying to reconcile their choices with our own." Master Aaron had once said. The timelines would try to merge, and when the differences between them were sufficiently blurred, they would. The acceptance of those years as normal was a part of it, the lack of awareness of the irregularities in time was ignored because everything else was as it should and in another timeline, those extra ten years didn't exist, so why should they be questioned? The merge blurred them away, yet they existed and only the aura of the chosen one could fuel such a powerful wish, with Ho-oh serving as the medium.

The question still stood, what did all that have to do with Legend? The ten years were extraordinary, but to the current situation, almost inconsequential. Another vision entered Ashimi's mind and she cringed at some parts of it but managed to remained focused enough not to lose the vision. Not everything that Giovanni had done in the past was noble, but there was a certain fire to it, a determination, an ambition, if he had been able to use the aura... Then the answer hit her. Ash's power was used to fuel the wish granted by Ho-oh, he could only project it on occasion in small portions after that because it had been drained. After that, he eventually recovered and was now able to use the power he possessed long ago without knowing it.

People's auras stirred during those years, some grew, other's diminished, but the changes were not much for people whose lives were not eventful, Giovanni's aura grew greatly. His seal was so tightly closed that he couldn't let it out, yet it was too much, a storm had started that increased the magnitude of the aura he was unable to release, the peculiarity of the timeline putting the weight of so many events into such a supposedly small period of time, though time was perceived normally for him in the moment, amplified the effect and began a chain reaction. It was a concentration of energy that serve to recharge Ash's drained power, to make most people's aura merely spin in circles with little changes, and to make Giovanni's aura more concentrated and volatile. Years later the effect culminated, long after the effects of the wish were gone. Ash was a grown man with a child of his own at that time, yet Giovanni's energy could no longer continue to accumulate and it almost killed him with the pressure. Ashimi didn't know of it, but Ash recalled it as the time when Giovanni retired from taking on both humans and pokemon in the ring, his tremendous power also explained by the aura contained within him.

The doctors linked the incident, akin to cardiac arrest, yet nothing like it, to high blood pressure, which was believable enough, but not at all the cause. What happened was the seal of his aura being broken with such force, that the burst of energy itself, fused the pieces together, expelling the excess energy and sealing up the aura once again. He recovered after a short coma of less than a day and lived on as if it was nothing. Ash had been in a far away region at the time and though he was aware of the aura enough to get an odd feeling of alarm, he was too far away to understand what it really was, and in the end believed the doctors, after all, the seal had been repaired and felt about the same. Yet Giovanni had no physical ailment, it was something that could not be understood by looking at the body's symptoms, because it was something of the aura. None the less, at Delia's insistence, he slowed his pace in life if only a little.

The process was not as simple as excess energy flowing out after the ten years accelerated it to grow too quickly as the many events and ambitions were crammed into a tiny space in the merging timelines. Something left along with it, a shard of Giovanni's own self, not a shard of his persona, but a portion of one of the concepts that formed it: ambition. Not all of it escaped, he certainly had enough ambition to solidify his hold on the world, yet he was more patient, less rash, able to wait instead of impatiently bringing out the heavy artillery immediately. Archer once said he never thought Giovanni would grow out of that almost boyish stubbornness he possessed to have his way immediately, he didn't, it had left him, yet he was truly strong to continue as if he had lost nothing.

Ashimi opened her eyes with understanding reflected in them. Ash's energy disconnected from their communication link after the vision was over and he returned to continuing his effort with Mew, focusing on that. This thing, this Legend, it called itself that because at its core it was formed from Giovanni's wish to be a legend. It was a concept though, it was not Giovanni and it was not any of the entities it had possessed. It was ambition and if she took away all that evil energy surrounding it, it would be that, neutral and pure.

She wondered what Team Rocket would be like without Legend to cleanse it in a way. She wondered what it would become without it. She wondered if Giovanni would have been more aggressive in his take over if this hadn't happened, though she knew the answer to that one was probably a yes. He might not approve of her plans, he might decide that having an heir that kept Team Rocket unified and in charge wasn't enough after all. He might disapprove of her ideals and think of her as too weak to make such ridiculous ideas work. Had his approval of her been only because he was missing this shard to further fuel his already intense fire?

Seizing on the sudden rush of questions and concerns that plagued her mind, Legend intensified the attack on Ashimi. She snapped to attention, realizing that the dark orb had been smashing into her shield with strong smoky tentacles. Her pokemon looked tired, Legend was a tremendous force and they were giving all they had to protect her while she searched for the answer. As a being of pure energy, knowing what it was would be vital to influencing it, now Ashimi had the answer, but her shield shattered and a shockwave tossed her pokemon aside as they tried to withstand the effects. The dark smoky tendrils wrapped around Ashimi, Legend's influence trying to make its way into her aura.

Legend understood, it focused on her doubt, her insecurity, it could force its way past the seal she made of her own energy, that was it's only true weakness. Master Aaron had assured her that regardless of what kind of seal she had, doubt was everyone's weakness, so this condition made her no different, it didn't make her weaker, but as she was invaded by a terrible pain, she found it hard to concentrate. Master Aaron had pushed her to the limit during training, yet his well meaning presence was always such a comfort even in the greatest challenges, now she was surrounded by a force so evil that no training could even emulate it.

Ashimi struggled to regain her focus, realizing that her pokemon had not broken the link with her and their energy flowed wildly, almost desperately into her as they tried to free her. They would exhaust themselves and be exposed to the danger of the atmosphere around Legend if they kept that up. The wall behind her fell apart, but it was not opening up into a tunnel summoned by Legend's will, it was torn down. Zero, Jonathan, Volt and Dorme rushed in, Zero was the most prepared having witnessed Ashimi's training, but it was clear the atmosphere was not good for any of them.

Sabrina had been tossed aside with Gengar doing what he could to protect her. They weakly watched the event unfold, unable to move, Ashimi knew she couldn't take much more of this and though her methods were harsh and not something Ashimi agreed with, she didn't hate Sabrina, who had in the end, tried to take responsibility for her actions. Her friends were calling her name, she had to go to battle so quickly, this wasn't the reunion she pictured. She had to protect them, she had to shield them from Legend, she refused to let them be hurt. Her aura flared with great determination, her energy making her friends and pokemon glow as her protection enveloped them. Her pokemon's wish to keep her safe and their deep bond made them take on their mega forms as they gave her their power.

The concept of ambition had driven humans and pokemon alike since the beginning of time. Facing off against it was no easy task, yet it was only that, a concept without a drive of its own. Ashimi felt herself becoming stronger with her own determination, she would reach her goal and nothing would stop her, she would protect those dearest to her and if they were there, she could figure out the rest. 'I know what you are, Legend. You wish to destroy because you cling to the echoes of will that reside in the energy that circles your neutral core. Without that direction, you are nothing, yet you have no will, you are but a concept, unfit to even be referred to as an entity. Release that evil energy, let it fade away and be purified and I will offer you a will, not an echo, but a true will. Come to me shard of ambition and I will be your new master!'

Ashimi reached out into the endless darkness that was Legend and finally grasped the light in its core. The evil energy broke apart from the cycle around the core and dispersed wildly, flying in every direction. A light of purity shone from above, as Mew's innocent and playful good will was empowered by Ash's aura and amplified to diminish the energy being released from the mountain, lessening its possible negative effects. The cave fell silent and all was stillness. The glow faded with the danger passed and Ashimi felt her senses fade, as the shard of ambition settled into its new home.

xoxox xox xoxox

Epilogue

(Ashimi's Perspective)

That day, when I woke up again I finally got the reunion I wanted. Everyone was there and the room was filled with joy. Dorme fussed a bit about how my hairstyle got messy, though I had no time to consider my hair when I left, I hardly had time to get out of that pretty but impractical kimono and into a much more easy to move in Team Rocket uniform. Everyone told me stories and asked to hear mine and whenever I said something I noticed that Johnny smiled as if reassured of something upon hearing me. I wonder if he thought I would be different, he seems glad I'm not all that different though. There are things I now know, things I understand, but I'm still the same person in the end. I spent time with my friends and family, caught up and rested.

My little brother, Aaron, loves creepy pasta stories, though I'm not sure mom would be too happy that I'm sharing them with such a young child. I learned a lot of stories from Master Aaron, he would tell them to me as rewards in my training. He didn't call them creepy pasta of course, as the concept was unknown to him until I explained it, but his so called Clefairy tales certainly fit the description. Clefairy tales were oddly dark and tragic in the past.

Mew was left weak, but will recover. Sabrina has gone off somewhere, I'm not sure how she managed to slip away, but she did. I feel that she is alright and she'll probably lay low and recover for some time. I have no intentions of going after her and wish for our next real meeting, because I know someday we'll meet again, to be peaceful. Team Rocket is recovering too in a sense and people are a little more reluctant to ask for help, wondering what they were thinking before. Yet their positive experiences are still there to influence them, even if the cloud of grudges was in part restored, Mew couldn't purify it all. It's okay though, this is more truthful, it makes more sense, it's how it should be and I'm not going to take any shortcuts in making Team Rocket a prosperous kingdom.

I heard that Lance has become the new leader of the dragon clan. Though he claims it's not like that, that he's only the leader of the council, people are calling him the dragon king. Arrow and Daala were arrested by Team Rocket for a while, but soon after handed over to Lance. He was basically told they were his problem and he would have to respond for their actions, but I don't think they'll cause him any trouble.

Janebelle's memories are not coming back. I examined her aura and found that they were not deeply buried but somehow stolen away along with her psychic powers. Legend probably took that at the same time she was released from the mind control. She has no powers now and no past she can remember, but maybe it's best that way. Jessiebelle was overjoyed to have her back and I think that this time she will be a good mother to her. I sent Butch and Cassidy's son to visit her from time to time. Try as I may I can never truly remember his name, but I'm somehow inclined to always guess, inexplicably sure that I'll get it right next time. Jessiebelle behaved well for the most part, save for the fact that she eventually caused a commotion trying to arrange a wedding for Janebelle and Johnny. Ironically, Janebelle flat out refused to marry a stranger, as she did not remember Johnny, and claimed to be in love with... What is that guy's name?

I've been traveling around, taking it easy, Johnny and Zero are traveling with me again and Honedge decided to come along too, though he pretends he's a regular sword sometimes and lets Johnny carry him so he doesn't attract too much attention. Volt joins us whenever he gets a break from the gym and we run into Dorme pretty often. I might try out the Indigo League again... Dad said it might not be a challenge as things stand now, but that it would be fun. I've been more involved in Team Rocket too, I think grandpa's relieved that people's attitude towards it makes sense now that Legend is gone, even if it means that keeping things under control might be more challenging at times. That'll be my job when I'm eighteen, but there's still some time left to prepare and I know grandpa will likely keep an eye on things after he retires, likely for the rest of his life, I'm kind of grateful for that, actually. We'll see how it goes.

That day... After things calmed down and I had a moment alone with grandpa, I told him about the shard of ambition. It had not melted into my aura yet, so I offered to return it to him. He looked thoughtful, as if picturing what he might be inclined to do if he had it. Then he told me to keep it as a gift. Sabrina contacted me by telepathy, she had been keeping an eye on things it seems, and somehow sensed that I had not returned the ambition shard. Only an exceptional psychic could have such a keen sense for matters of the aura, she's certainly one of the kind. She didn't expect an answer though, and broke the communication link before I could reply. I guess she simply wanted me to ask myself the question.

That shard was a precious treasure from my grandfather, I couldn't destroy it. It wasn't a matter of an easy way out of the battle. This sort of mutually beneficial agreement was my only possible course of action that I wouldn't regret, I think. Ambition in itself is not bad, and let's face it, if I am to fulfill my plans, I'll need plenty. I think Sabrina was warning me, telling me not to change, so I went to talk to Johnny about it. We're always around each other, just like before. I think he finds my presence particularly calming somehow, though I don't really understand why, since I'm not one to dwell in inactivity, but he's always been pleasant to have around. I told him to tell me if I was changing, though I suppose it might not be so obvious if he's around me all the time and subtly changes along with me...

End

The scene with Jonathan and the copy was inspired by Persona 4 Golden. I've used the multiple timelines that seek to merge theme before in Don't Give Me Diamonds, though it is a minor theme used to describe a "what if" as links to the background of a supporting character who appears in later chapters. I also used it in the background of Loyalty, which is one such alternate timeline. I hope the concept wasn't too confusing, feel free to ask if you need clarification.

I also realize I went all Puella Magi with Giovanni and his karmic destiny (though I just called it the flow of aura so as to not complicate things more), as well as with the whole 'concept' thing, just ignore this part of the notes if you're not familiar with Puella Magi.

There is also a sort of prologue to this story, which I had posted as a one shot in Endless long before I got the motivation to actually write the whole fanfic, but it's not really vital to the story.

At the time of my writing this, Jonathan and Ashimi were ahead in the pairing poll in my profile, so yeah, they ended up paired together, sort of, though as Dorme said, Jonathan will likely not even realize how he feels for a long time. Her prediction was actually a hint at the when.

As for the ending, I'm purposefully leaving it open. Ashimi could have achieved her ideals, or she could have turned out similar to Giovanni. All that was established is that Team Rocket does rule in the future, but the specifics of how were left up to interpretation.

This story turned out longer than I thought, but isn't it always like that? Plot bunnies tend to hide their true power at times. Anyway, this will likely be the final story in my pokemon universe, though if anyone wishes to contribute to the continuity or write an alternate universe, you're welcome to.

I might eventually post some of those creepy pasta stories Ashimi heard as drabbles, but that's it. I think I'll continue to focus more on visual art now, as I have been doing lately, so if you want to see what I've been drawing, make sure to visit my Deviant Art (MikariStar), Fanart Central (AzureMikari) and my site Fantasy Bit, there are links in my profile if the urls below get cut off. Also feel free to friend on any of those sites, I love hearing from other people who are into this fandom. My twitter is MiliAzure and if you want to email me, there's a form at Fantasy Bit.

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