AGNPH Stories

Rukario Romance by XD385


The Blackflame Five Attacks

Ash awoke to the sound of giggling as Ruby tickled her newborn son. Their second child, Lucash, had been born the night before. Ruby looked towards the bed and saw Ash smiling as he watched them play. "Look, Lucash. There's Daddy." Ruby pointed towards Ash with a blush on her face. Their son turned and looked towards Ash. After a moment, Lucash jumped from his mother's arms and fell to his knees once he hit the floor.

"Lucash?" Ash asked as his son started to struggle to his feet. After a moment of straining himself, Lucash stood up with his arms out at his sides for balance. With baby steps, he approached his father. Ruby and Ash silently watched as their child walked towards his father. He almost fell over a few times, but Lucash persevered. Once he was standing next to the bed, Lucash raised his arms up to Ash and said, "Papa." Ash was both touched and impressed. It had not even been 24 hours since his birth and yet, Lucash had just spoken his first words.

Ash gently reached down to Lucash and gripped him at his sides and raised him up. "What did you say?" Lucash smiled, "Papa! Papa!" Ash tearfully embraced his son and spoke, "That's my boy." Just then, there was a knock at the door. "Mommy, I'm hungry!" The voice of Sapphire could be heard. "OK, just a second." Ruby walked over to the door and let her daughter in. But Sapphire stopped and sniffed the air. "Mommy, is there someone else here?" Ruby grinned, "Glad you noticed. Come over here." She motioned for Sapphire to follow her over to the bed. Seeing Ash, the little Riolu bounded up to the bed. "Hi, Daddy! Huh?" Sapphire gasped at the sight of the Riolu in her father's arms.

Ruby asked, "Do you know who that is?" Sapphire looked back at Ruby and saw that her belly was smooth and flat now. She looked back at the Riolu and crawled up to him. "Are brother?" Ash smiled, "He sure is. His name is Lucash." Sapphire merely gazed at her little brother, who was only half her size. Lucash also gazed back at her. After a moment of silence, the two siblings reached out with one hand and touched. Lucash spoke, "Sister." Sapphire whispered, "Hi little brother. I'm Sapphire." The tiny Riolu let go of his father and fell forward into his sister's waiting arms. They held each other in a tender embrace without moving or saying a word. "Sapphire..." Lucash said with a smile. "Lucash..." Sapphire replied. Ash looked over to Ruby and asked, "Isn't that just the cutest thing you ever saw?" Ruby giggled, "Nope. I knew Sapphire would make a great sister, but she really surpassed my expectations."

A few minutes passed as the two siblings bonded. Suddenly, their stomachs growled simultaneously. Sapphire looked over at Ruby and said, "Mommy, we're hungry." Ruby giggled, "I should say so. Let's fix that." She then walked over to the bed and took a seat on it. She then took her children into her arms and held them to her breasts. As they both suckled, she gasped, "Whoa... This is different. Feeling my milk being drained from my body from both breasts at once is a unique experience." She then looked down at Sapphire and spoke, "Sapphire, just one more month and you won't need to suckle anymore." Sapphire stopped and asked, "But I like your milk, Mommy." Ruby then smiled, "My body won't keep producing milk for you forever. And besides, it's a sign that you're growing up. It means that you're one step closer to becoming a beautiful woman like me." Sapphire gasped, "Like you?!" Ruby nodded, but she then noticed Sapphire glance over at her father for a second. She then looked back up at Ruby and smiled, "OK! I'll just keep drinking your milk for as long as I can until then!" She then closed her mouth over Ruby's nipple again and began to suck. Ruby smiled, but began to ponder why Sapphire glanced over to Ash when she did. (Strange... Just then? Could she There's no way. Right?)

A few hours after Sapphire and Lucash's meal, Ash took his child outside for some fresh air. He was now standing near where Ruby had pummeled that Hitmonchan several weeks ago. "Man, I can't help but wonder what happened here. Wouldn't be surprised if Ruby had something to do with it." Just then, a voice spoke from behind him, "May I join you?" Ash turned to see the owner of the voice. It was Lucy. "You bet. And did you meet Lucash yet?" Lucy gasped at the sight of Ash's baby boy. "That's right. Ruby gave birth last night." Ash nodded, "Yeah. His name is Lucash." Lucy giggled, "Strange. I can see a slight resemblance between you two." Lucash then reached out to her, "Hi!" Lucy blushed and took his hand, "So beautiful. I know you'll become a wonderful father to him." Ash smiled, "Thanks. Would you like to come with us? I wanted to check out the summit." Lucy nodded, "Oh yes, it's a splendid sight. Let's go then."

After trekking up Mt. Pyre for a bit, Lucy noticed a cloud of white mist crawling down the path towards them. "Is that Zandria?" Ash noticed and waved, "Hi, Mom!" A familiar voice giggled, "I'm still getting used to being called that. Still sounds great though!" As soon as the mist stopped in front of them, it solidified into a Zangoose. She then noticed the Riolu on Ash's shoulder. "That Riolu's too small to be Sapphire." Ash smiled, "Yup! He was born last night. His name is Lucash." Zandria blushed and brought a hand to her face, "Oh my, just like Ruby's kid." Ash nodded, "Yeah, he's Ruby's kid too." Zandria then shook her head, "No, not her. I meant the Ruby I knew way back when. Her child was also named Lucash." Ash laughed, "Really?! Cool! But anyway, do you want to join us?" The Zangoose nodded, "Sure. I've got nothing else to do today."

The four of them proceeded up the mountain path and after about twenty minutes, they reached the summit. Ash marveled at the scenery. "The fog is gone. Man, I can see for miles! I'll bet that's Lilycove City over there. And that's the Safari Zone right there!" The Trainer pointed back and forth, prompting a laugh of excitement from Lucash. Lucy giggled, "He really seems to like you." Ash looked down at her, "Now that I think about it... Lucy, would you like to become my son's godmother?" Lucy gasped, "Me?! But I..." Ash then held Lucash out to her, "Say hi to Aunt Lucy." The Riolu reached out to her and said, "Auntie Lucy!" Lucy hesitated for a moment, but tears began to form in her eyes as she slowly reached out for the baby. "A family of my own....." The Lucario took the Riolu into her arms and held him to her face. Lucash responded by giving her a little lick on the cheek. "Yes..... Yes, I'll be your godmother."

Ash walked towards Lucy and set a hand on her shoulder, "I think Lucash really wants you for his godmother. That means you can't turn your back on him." Lucy smiled, "I know, and I gladly accept." Just then, Ash asked, "Um, Lucy? What was with what you just said a second ago? Did something happen to your own family?" Lucy turned away for a moment, but then said, "I guess there's no harm telling you." She then faced Ash and spoke, "I'm an orphan. I never even met my parents." Ash frowned, "Well I guess that's better than Ruby's deal. Her parents completely abandoned her when she evolved. I don't even want to think about what she must've felt when they did that." Lucy sighed, "I guess she was right. We do have a lot in common." Ash asked, "Really? What else happened?" Lucy remained silent for a moment before saying, "I'm sorry. I will not disclose that information to anyone. Please understand." Ash then surprised her by kneeling down and giving her a hug, "It's OK if you don't want to tell me, but I want you to know something. I want you to be happy. A sweet girl like you deserves a lot more than what you have now. If there's anything I can do to make your life better, just let me know." Lucy blushed as Ash embraced her, "You would do whatever it takes to make my life better?" Ash nodded, "Yeah. Just say the word." Lucy set a hand on Ash's face and whispered, "Thank you."

On the way back down the mountain, Shadow came running up to Ash. "Hey, Ash. There's something I need to...huh?!" He stopped at the sight of the Riolu in his arms. He gave the child a quick sniff, "Hm, I thought I noticed an unfamiliar scent in your room. Who is this?" Ash smiled, "This is Lucash. He was born last night." Shadow felt a warm grin creep across his face, "It's a boy? Cute. For some reason, he really brings you to mind." Ash snickered, "That's why he's called Lucash. Ruby named him." Shadow then remembered, "Speaking of Ruby, she wanted me to tell you something. She wants to stay here for a week in order to let Lucash gain a little strength for the rigors of the road." Ash nodded, "Sounds good to me. I'll bet Lucash would love to try out Zandria's cooking." The Zangoose laughed, "I'm sure he would. I know some dishes that babies would like."

Just after sunset, Ash and his children went off to bed while Ruby decided to take a walk as Shadow patrolled the mountain. But unknown to them, a form was swimming towards the dock. The creature pulled itself up to the shore and got down on all fours before shaking the water from its body. It then silently made its way inside.

Passing by the tombs of various Pokemon, Shadow stopped at the smell of something strange. A weird look came across his face as he said, "Wet fur?" He then called out, "OK, who goes there? I can't help noticing that you're still wet from a swim." The intruder grunted, "Darn it. Stand down, Shadow." The creature stepped out from behind a tomb and stepped into the light coming from a lamp. "Pearl?"

The two Blackflame Six members stood before each other. "Pearl, what now? Why would you swim all the way out here?" She replied, "I need to speak with Ruby. Where is she? It is extremely urgent." Shadow frowned, "I'll point out her location if you tell me what it is you need to see her about." Pearl sighed, "I need to let her know what the Alpha male has decreed. Her husband has been marked for death."

A chill slivered down Shadow's spine as he heard something he never would have expected, even from the arrogant Thanatos. "He's what?" Pearl explained the situation to her former teammate. Shadow growled, "What right does that scum have?! Fine. Ruby is taking a walk along the path on the outside of the mountain." He then pointed towards the stairs to the second floor. With a nod, Pearl dashed up the stairs and out the door to the mountain path.

Pearl bounded up the rock walls of the path leading up Mt. Pyre and looked back with each jump to check if she had passed her sister. After a good while, Pearl came to the summit. "Did Shadow give me false information?" Pearl then made her way towards the summit in the hopes that Ruby was up there. Sure enough, she saw the form of a Lucario standing in the moonlight. "Sis!" Pearl dashed towards her sister as Ruby turned around. "Pearl?!" The two sisters held each other in a warm embrace. "Good to see you again, Pearl."

Pearl soon broke the embrace and spoke, "Ruby, I didn't come here to catch up on lost time. I'm putting my life at risk just by leaving my post." Ruby asked, "Post? What?" Pearl explained, "I have been positioned at the water's edge to watch for you and your group returning from Mt. Pyre." Ruby then asked, "Why?" Pearl shuddered, "So we would know when Ash would leave Mt. Pyre. We can't go after him as long as he's here since Mt. Pyre is holy ground." Ruby then asked, "Go after him? What does our clan want with Ash?" Pearl sobbed, "He has been marked for death."

Ruby screamed, "Marked for death?! Why?! Our clan has never even encountered him before!" Pearl explained, "It has nothing to do with what he has done. Hawkeye survived his encounter with Shadow. Up until he left us, Shadow had always shown unwavering loyalty to the clan. That, and Thanatos is certain that you knew of the penalty of mating with someone from outside the clan. He is now certain that you and Shadow were captured by Ash. He believes that he raped you, resulting in the birth of your daughter, while Shadow was brainwashed. Therefore, Ash has been labeled a prime threat to our clan and has been marked for termination." Ruby fell to her knees, "How could they even suspect that? Ash is the sweetest and most compassionate boy I have ever known. Why would they even consider that such a darling boy like him could perform such a dreadful act?" Pearl then kneeled in front of Ruby and set a hand on her shoulder, "That's why I came here to warn you. I don't want Ash to die because of a misunderstanding caused by mere suspicions."

A moment of silence passed as the two sisters dealt with the knowledge that the boy they loved was being targeted for death for a crime he never committed. Finally, Pearl spoke, "Ruby, take your family and get out of here. You must escape from Hoenn." Ruby then spoke, "Lilycove City is close by. Once we board the ferry for Mossdeep City, we'll be out of danger." Pearl shook her head, "No. Not many know this, but the Alpha male and Titan have knowledge of the shipping routes in Hoenn. They will chase you to the ends of the sea as long as you are still in the Hoenn region. Please, get out of here as soon as possible and never return."

Ruby asked, "But does this mean I'll never see you again?" Pearl set both hands on Ruby's shoulders and smiled, "Don't worry. Once I know you and your family has left Hoenn, I'll leave the Blackflame clan behind and follow you." Ruby breathed a sigh of relief, "Thank you." However, Pearl spoke, "But remember, if the Blackflame clan locates Ash, there will be nothing I can do to defend you, even if Shadow teams up with me. Two members of the original Blackflame Six are no match for the other four."

Ruby asked, "I'll ask Ash to find us a ferry home when we leave in a week. But what about you? Won't the others know you met me tonight?" Pearl replied, "No. The seawater from the swim back to shore will get rid of your scents." Ruby then asked, "Before you leave, may I show you something?" Pearl nodded, "I still have an hour before I swap shifts with Hawkeye, so sure." Ruby then motioned for Pearl to follow her. The sisters made their way back down the mountain by jumping down from each path to the one below to save time. They then headed inside and up to the third floor. When they reached the inn, Ruby whispered, "They're asleep, so keep your voice down."

Ruby nudged the door open, which had been left unlocked. Pearl stepped inside and noticed a pair of Riolu sleeping with Ash. One was smaller than the other and was male. "Sis, did you...?" Ruby smiled, "His name is Lucash. I gave birth to him last night." Pearl then made her way over to the bed and looked down at Lucash. "He brings his father to mind somehow. I can see how he got his name." But when her gaze fell upon Ash's face, tears began to gather in her eyes. Knowing that this would possibly be the last time she would see him, Pearl lowered her face towards his. "Just this case we never meet again..." The Lucario sealed lips with the Trainer, her tears flowing free. Ruby watched in silence to avoid awakening her family.

Pearl broke the kiss and stroked Ash's face. "Stay safe.... Stay alive for me..." Pearl then silently left the room and shut the door behind her. Ruby asked with a worried look, "You really love him, don't you?" Pearl sighed, "Did you forget? I know a good man when I see one and he is the best I've seen so far." Ruby looked towards the door for a moment. She then looked back at her sister and whispered, "You know, I would normally be pretty peeved at the sight of you kissing him." Pearl prepared herself for a punch from Ruby. But the Lucario continued, "But after seeing just how much you adore him, I can't help but smile." Pearl gasped, but Ruby grabbed her hand, "I'm sorry for being so selfish before. Promise me we'll meet again." Pearl embraced her little sister, "That's a promise."

Over the course of a week, Ash taught his son how to speak and basic skills, such as math and reading. He even introduced his son to all the Pokemon he trained. But as they stood at the dock, Ash gave Zandria a tender hug. "So, you're going to stick around here for a little while longer?" Zandria replied, "Yeah, but only until I've learned all I can from this place. You take care, OK?" Ash gave her a kiss on the cheek, "OK. I'll see you later, Mom." With that, the entire group then boarded the ferry and waved as Zandria saw them off. "Say bye to Grandma, Lucash." Ash said as he held his son up. The Riolu waved, "Bye!" The Zangoose smiled, "So young and innocent. He really is just like Ruby's kid."

As the ferry moved towards the shoreline, Ruby decided to bring up Pearl's warning to Ash, but did her best to avoid scaring him with the details. "Dear, got a minute?" Ash nodded, "Sure. What's up?" Ruby then said, "Something doesn't feel right. It's like something really bad is going to happen." Ash cocked his head to one side. Ruby then begged, "Ash, let's go home! I can't shake the feeling that something terrible is going to happen to you!" Ash could tell by Ruby's eyes that she was not joking in the least. He sighed, "OK. As soon as we get back to Lilycove City, we'll figure out which ferry takes us home." Ruby breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you....."

For the next twenty minutes, the ferry glided through the sea. Ash checked that everyone was prepared once the ferry docked. Once they were ready, everyone headed east towards Lilycove. But not before catching the eye of a certain sentry. "Just before my shift ended too. Hehehehee. Wait a second....." A closer look revealed a second Riolu with the Trainer that Hawkeye had identified as Ruby's rapist. "He did it again? Shameful." Once the group left his sight, the sinister Silent Fang dropped from the trees. "There's no escape now." In a blur of cobalt blue, the assassin was gone.

That night, Ash watched as Ruby fed her two children. Brock asked, "Hey, Ash. You think this food is OK for a baby?" Brock had made a special stew that had mashed vegetables and some chicken. He had made it in a way that made chewing unnecessary. Ash tried a spoonful and smiled, "Yum! I bet Lucash will love it!" Right when he said that, Lucash finished nursing from Ruby and walked over. "Something smells yummy, Daddy!" Ash then poured his son a bowl and handed it to him. "It really is yummy. Try it." Without even bothering with a spoon, Lucash plunged his mouth into the bowl and gulped away. Once he raised his head to get in a breather, he smiled, "This is very yummy!" But before he could plunge his face into the bowl again, Ash grabbed him and smiled, "Glad you like it. But let's work on your table manners first."

A few hours later, Silent Fang stood before Thanatos. Titan and Hawkeye stood at the sidelines while Pearl watched from a distance. She knew that there could be only one reason why Thanatos would call for an assembly at this hour after placing them on high alert. Silent Fang spoke, "Sir, the rapist of that defector has returned to shore. He is on his way to the east. Chances are he intends to escape by sea."

Thanatos spoke, "Well done, Silent Fang. And what of Shadow?" Silent Fang continued, "He seems to be doing well. However..." Titan asked, "What? Has something else happened?" Silent Fang nodded, "It seems that the boy raped the girl again. There was a second child with them that seemed no more than a week old." Thanatos clenched his fists, "Again..... That scum must be destroyed before he strikes again." Hawkeye then asked, "But what of Shadow? He is still loyal to that human. What if he defends him?"

Thanatos paced back and forth. "It was not his decision to join that boy. If Shadow interferes, subdue him. But under no circumstances will you use fatal force against him. The same goes for that nameless female." Hawkeye then asked, "But what of her children?" Thanatos nodded, "They may have been conceived from rape, but they are still her children. Do not harm them." Titan then asked, "So when do we head out?" Thanatos growled, "Right now. It will take us nearly 24 hours to reach them if they continue heading east. If we are to reach them before they escape by sea, we must leave at once." Thanatos then took off to the southeast with Silent Fang, Titan, and Hawkeye in tow. But Pearl stood in place for a moment with her heart consumed with dread. "Please..... Ash. Ruby. Please. You must get away." After saying a brief prayer, she followed her comrades.

The next day, Ash and his companions made their way to the east. There were almost no oddities that day and as hours passed, the sun began to set. Ash asked, "What do you think Mom will do when she sees her first grandson?" Ruby giggled, "Faint, probably. But I'll make sure to catch her if that happens." Lucash asked, "Grandma?" Ash nodded, "Yep. Her name is Delia." Ruby then looked down at Sapphire and giggled, "I'll bet Grandma will be so happy to see how much you've grown, Sapphire." The Riolu smiled, "I miss Grandma too." But when they were only one mile from Lilycove City, a voice shouted, "That's far enough!"

A male Lucario dropped from the trees and crafted what seemed to be a bow consisting of his Aura. In the process, the strip of black fur on each of his upper arms glowed blue. He then formed an arrow from his Aura and held it ready. A second voice shouted, "Hehehee! Don't start the party without me!" Another male Lucario appeared out of nowhere in the blink of an eye. The spikes on his hands were twice the length of the average Lucario. Another Lucario jumped forth from the forest around them. He stood about one foot taller than the average Lucario and his body was covered in scars. Lastly, Pearl jumped forth from the forest, a look of deep regret on her face. Shadow growled, "Hawkeye. Titan. Pearl. Silent Fang." Ash asked, "You mean they..." Shadow gulped, "Yes. They are the Blackflame Five. But where's..." A voice spoke, "You're not going anywhere, you human scum." Another male Lucario stepped forth from the forest. His left eye was tightly shut while a gnarly scar covered it, a sign that his eye had been violently destroyed. Everyone present felt a terrible sense of malice emanating from him. "Thanatos."

Sapphire and Lucash were both intimidated by Thanatos' presence and took shelter behind Ash's legs. Shadow demanded, "For all five of you to be here, it must be serious. What? Did you hunt me down to request my aid for something?" Titan shrugged his shoulders, "Well, it would be a help to us if you assist us, but you don't have to." May then asked, "Then why are you here?" Hawkeye replied, "We are here to punish the human scum who twice raped one of our own while brainwashing and turning one of the original Blackflame Six against us." Ash asked, "Rape? Brainwash?! What gives you that idea?!" Titan shouted, "Don't play dumb with us! You are the scoundrel who enslaved two of our own!"

Shadow stepped forward and snarled, "How can you even suspect that I was brainwashed?! Did it ever cross your minds that I may have willingly followed this boy?!" Thanatos grunted, "Impossible. Your loyalty to us was unprecedented. The odds of you abandoning us for a lowly rapist are nonexistent." At this, Ruby screamed, "Shut up! Ash never raped me! He accepted me for what I am! He showed me that my value could never be placed on three useless spikes! I fell in love with him! You can't punish me for that!" Thanatos chuckled, "Love or not, you know the penalty of mating with someone from outside our clan. Are you saying that you chose this lowlife human as a mate KNOWING that?" Ruby then surprised him with a smile, "Some things are worth dying for. I couldn't care less about being marked for death for finding love with Ash. You can't decide who someone falls in love with."

Thanatos began to chuckle at Shadow's and Ruby's claims. Shadow then asked, "What makes you laugh?" The Alpha male howled, "That's rich! I never imagined that a human could corrupt your minds to such a degree!" Shadow growled, "You stupid son of a..." Thanatos then gave the group before him a harsh glare, "Seeing as how you and that worthless female can't think straight with that scum nearby, we'll just have to break your servitude to him." With a wave of his hand, Thanatos gave Hawkeye the signal to fire. The sniper released his grip on the Aura Bolt, sending it flying towards Ash. But before it could strike him, the shot was intercepted by something! After the two Aura projectiles vanished in a burst of blue fire, Shadow growled, "You're not the only ones with Aura weapons." In both of Shadow's hands was a shuriken formed from his own Aura.

Thanatos chuckled, "You're something else, Shadow. Very well then." One by one, the other Blackflame Five members began to form their Aura into their signature weapons. Hawkeye took aim with his Aura Bow while Titan forged his Aura into a large axe. Silent Fang projected his Aura from the spikes on his hands and made the blades curve backwards, forming the Aura Sickles. Pearl silently extended a rope of her Aura from a hand and wrapped the Aura Whip around her body. Thanatos then laughed, "There's no need for me to bring out the Aura Cannon. I'll only step in when I need to."

Ash realized that the Blackflame clan was after him. He turned to his companions and said, "It's me they want. I don't think they'll hurt you guys if you don't step in." Ruby then began to gather her Aura for an Aura Sphere, "You're mad if you think I'll let them take you away from me again!" But as she took aim while Brock and May reached for a Poke Ball, Silent Fang snickered, "Oh no you don't!" In a flash, he dashed up into the group and landed a single blow on each of Ash's companions except Shadow. A second later, they collapsed to the ground. Before Ash could scream in fright, Silent Fang explained, "Don't worry. They're just sleeping soundly. We have no desire to harm anyone else. But as for you....GAH!" Silent Fang screamed in agony as Shadow nailed him in the gut with a Force Palm. The assassin flew backwards and began to roll along the ground screaming, "It hurts! I'm dying! Why?!" Shadow shook his head in disgust, "He never did have much stamina or pain tolerance."

Titan shouted, "Compose yourself, Silent Fang! Don't let the boy get away!" The hulking Lucario leapt towards Ash and brought the Aura Axe down hard. Fortunately, Titan was not built for speed and Ash easily ran out of the way. "I'll lead them away! Take care of everyone, Shadow!" Ash ducked and jumped various attacks from the elite members of the Blackflame clan as he ran west. Thanatos shouted, "Don't allow that scum to escape!" All five of them began to pursue Ash. But Shadow growled, "No...... I won't let you harm him!" But just after Shadow left the group, Lucash began to climb to his feet, having only barely evaded a direct hit. "Daddy....." Knowing that his father was in danger, the newborn dashed after Shadow down the road.

Ash ran as fast as he could as the sun began to disappear over the horizon. Above him, storm clouds began to form as lightning streaked across the sky. In the trees nearby, the Blackflame Five closed in on him. (Forgive me.) Pearl then lashed out with her Aura Whip in an attempt to lasso Ash's legs. But at the last second, Shadow jumped in the way and caused the whip to wrap around his arm. "Not on your life!" With a good yank, he pulled Pearl out of the trees and slammed her in the face with a Force Palm as she fell towards him. Ash looked back, but Shadow shouted, "No! Don't stop! I'll handle them, but you must get away! Please!" Ash gave Shadow a final glance that said, "Don't die on me." Once Ash turned and ran, Shadow turned to face his former teammates. "He is my friend. Don't you dare lay a hand on him!"

Thanatos and his comrades fell from the trees and stood before Shadow with their Aura weapons ready. The Alpha male asked, "Why? You were always so loyal to us. Why leave us behind for this worthless child?" Shadow sobbed, "Because he showed me the errors of my ways." Silent Fang asked, "Errors?" Shadow continued, "Yes. My errors of living as an assassin who killed traitors, even those who had a good reason for betraying the clan....." The Blackflame Five remained silent. "Ash..... He reminded me of the sacrifice my father nearly made for me and my mother... And I remembered only after I brought him to the verge of death." He wept, "I nearly killed a loving husband and father who was willing to protect his family, even at the cost of his life! I wasn't trying to kill them out of honor! I was doing so for the sake of murder! I never questioned why I was taking the lives of so many....." He then looked directly towards Thanatos, "I killed so many..... So many fathers, mothers, and even children! All murdered by my hands! What was the point?! Just because they were from different clans gave you no right to declare war on them!"

Shadow fell to his knees, "In the back of my mind, I always told myself that it was for the best. That my loyalty to the Blackflame clan came before the lives of our former allies...... What a fool I was!" With tears cascading down his face, Shadow climbed to his feet and growled, "What was he thinking? I never thought I would say this, but it was a mistake. My grandfather must've been mad to choose you to succeed him!" He formed an Aura Shuriken in each hand. "I'll correct my grandfather's mistake. Starting with your life!" The Lucario then tossed both shuriken at the Alpha male, but Titan jumped in the way and took the attack himself! The two shuriken buried themselves into his chest before disappearing in a puff of blue flames. "Pah, only a flesh wound."

Thanatos smiled, "Thank you, Titan. But won't those leave two more scars?" The hulking Lucario replied, "Maybe, but these scars represent the people I have defended time and again. I always wear them proudly." Thanatos then looked past Titan at Shadow, "You really are hopeless. For you to have become this deluded is something else." Shadow then formed another pair of Aura Shuriken, "Keep telling yourself that. Ash is the best friend I have ever He is the only friend I have ever known. He forgave me even after I attempted to murder his family in cold blood. I owe him more than you know, and I'll even give my life to make sure that he lives on!" Thanatos chuckled, "Silent Fang. Titan. Take him down. But make sure you don't kill him." Silent Fang readied his Aura Sickles, "Finally. I've been wondering what it would be like to face the Shadow." Titan then hoisted his Aura Axe to his shoulder, "Avoid using fatal force? With this thing, that won't be easy." Thanatos then spoke, "Hawkeye, you follow that kid. But under no circumstances are you to kill him. Got it?" The sniper nodded, "OK." But as he leapt through the tree branches to the west, Shadow turned and screamed, "Never!" He then tossed both shuriken at him, making them curve in mid-flight to avoid missing. But before the shuriken could reach him, Hawkeye turned in mid-jump and fired a pair of Aura Bolts from his Aura Bow in quick succession, canceling out the two shuriken.

"Blast!" Shadow shouted as his target disappeared from sight. "Keep your eye on the prize, amateur!" Silent Fang cackled as he lunged for Shadow's throat with his Aura Sickles. But Shadow turned and blocked the swings by holding a pair of Aura Shuriken and intercepting Silent Fang's attacks. "Using throwing weapons as melee weapons? That takes some skill!" But Shadow then forced one of Silent Fang's arms upward to throw him off balance. "Too bad!" But when he lashed out with an Aura Shuriken, Silent Fang vanished after seemingly splitting into two translucent copies. "Double Team?!" As if to answer this, a Low Kick struck Shadow in the back, sending him towards Titan, "You are correct, sir!"

As Shadow flew towards Titan, the hulking Lucario pulled his fist back and then plunged it into Shadow's abdomen. The Lucario gagged as blood spurted from his mouth and he dropped to his knees. (I forgot. Titan specializes in endurance and brute force. He's not one for speed under pressure, but he's almost like a wall of bricks!) But when Titan tried to bring his fist down into Shadow's skull, the sly Lucario evaded at the last second and countered by sending a Force Palm into Titan's chest. (He's done. That's should've ravaged his heart.) But Shadow was soon corrected when Titan grabbed him by the throat and slammed him into the ground, knocking the wind out of him. But as Shadow tried to catch his breath, his eyes looked skyward in horror as Titan brought his Aura Axe down into his left leg.

Shadow screamed in searing agony as the Aura Axe sank deep, spilling his blood and splitting his bone. He frantically flailed about as he tried to sooth the pain any way he could, but the leg had been very nearly severed from his body. Only the opposite side of his leg and a thin layer of muscle was holding it in place. Titan hoisted his axe to his shoulder again and sighed, "Sorry about that, but it had to be done." But Shadow roared, "Monsters! Demons! I'll kill you!" Thanatos then spoke, "Titan. Silent Fang. Let's catch up to Hawkeye. Pearl, you stay here and tend to Shadow's injuries." The lone female nodded and looked on as her squad went ahead without her.

Pearl walked towards Shadow and dismissed her Aura Whip. She then kneeled next to him and began to focus her Aura into her hands, so much so that they began to glow blue. As soon as her Aura came in contact with Shadow's leg, the pain immediately dulled. But Shadow wept, "Why, Pearl?! How could you?! I thought you loved him!" Pearl sobbed, "Don't remind me! You think I don't care what happens to him?! Ash is the only boy I have ever felt this way about. You can't understand how angry I am with myself knowing that I am powerless to save him."

Shadow glared at Pearl as she restored his leg. "I want to save him, but there's nothing I can do. Even if I somehow convince Silent Fang, Titan, and Hawkeye to help me fight him, Thanatos would still slaughter us. You know the kind of power he wields." Shadow sighed, "I know. The only other clan member who was stronger than him was my grandfather." Pearl then whispered, "No more. Once I heal you the best I can, I'll try to stop Thanatos any way I can." But Shadow asked, "You know how stubborn Thanatos is. If you object to his methods, you'll be putting your life at risk. Why?" Pearl smiled, "It's like my sister said. Some things are worth dying for." After a moment more, Pearl stood up. Shadow's leg looked no different than before it was smashed. But when he tried to stand up, Shadow collapsed in pain. "There is some damage that my Aura can't heal. You'll just have to wait for time to heal it." The young female then dashed down the road, hoping she was not too late. As Pearl left his sight, Shadow sobbed, "Ash......forgive me..."

Ash came to a section of the road that spread out into a wide clearing. He then noticed that it had begun to rain heavily. " better not be dead." Just then a voice spoke, "Interesting. This thunderstorm is the ideal backdrop for your demise." Ash turned to face the owner of the voice and found Hawkeye standing before him. "What do you want?" The sniper chuckled, "I was ordered to keep tabs on your location. I was also ordered to not kill you. But that doesn't mean I can't rough you up a bit!" The sniper then charged at Ash and attempted to punch him in the face. But at the last second, Ash ducked and sent his fist up towards Hawkeye's face! "Wha...DAOOWW!!!" The sniper yelped from the unexpected counterattack as Ash uppercut him in the jaw. Hawkeye staggered back and brought a hand to his face. Ash then laughed, "Shadow was right. Your hand-to-hand combat skills suck!"

Hawkeye growled, "Suck?! Maybe when compared to his, but there's no way a mere human twerp like you could match me!" Ash then raised both fists in front of his face and widened his stance, "If that's true, prove it!" Hawkeye gave Ash an odd look, "What kind of style is that?" Ash replied, "It's called boxing. Hitmonchan like to use it." Hawkeye then dashed at him, "You're no Hitmonchan! Get real!" But before he could reach him, Ash nailed Hawkeye in the face with a few quick jabs. "Keep your left up and jab with your right!" Once Hawkeye was off balance, Ash slugged him with a potent right cross, knocking him into the mud. "Looks like he's down! One! Two! Three! Four.....oh! Round 2! FIGHT!" Hawkeye grumbled as he climbed to his feet, "I'm not gonna accept this... Fine! You want a fight?! I'll give ya one!"

For the next three minutes, Ash and Hawkeye squared off in a freestyle boxing match. At least it seemed to be a boxing match. Ash was doing very well against Hawkeye. But the sniper was so frustrated; he even tried mimicking Ash's fighting style! After knocking Hawkeye down three more times, the Trainer gloated, "That makes three! It's a TKO!" Hawkeye, with blood dripping from his nose and a swollen eyelid, struggled to his feet. "Unreal..... Am I really that pathetic?" Ash shrugged his shoulders, "Maybe, but you can still improve. Now scram before I...URK?!" Ash felt a sudden chill at the base of his neck. "I...can't move?!" But a moment later, Ash fell limply into the mud face first. Hawkeye groaned, "It's about time you got here."

Ash could not even move his head. But he soon saw Silent Fang stand in front of him. "Can't move? That's because I barely nicked your spinal cord with my Aura Sickle. All communication between your brain and the rest of your body has been cut off. It'll wear off in about ten minutes, but you won't even be around by then." Ash then heard the voice of Thanatos, "Well done, Silent Fang." But before the Alpha male could say anything else, a voice shouted, "Wait!" A form stepped in front of Ash's face. He recognized it right away. "Pearl?"

Thanatos asked, "Pearl, what's wrong?" Pearl stood before Thanatos and held her arms out to her sides, keeping him away from Ash. "This is a mistake! Ash is not the monster you think he is! He never raped my sister! And he most certainly did not brainwash Shadow!" Thanatos then asked with a suspicious stare, "And how would you know of this?" Pearl sighed, "I encountered them about two months ago......and I can assure you that my sister bore his children because they had fallen in love with each other. He would never rape someone." Thanatos then asked, "And how are you certain of this?" Pearl then confessed, "Because he never raped me. I love him, but he never took advantage of me."

Thanatos simply stared for a moment, and then shook his head, "Unbelievable..... How could you fall victim to his wiles?" Pearl shouted, "It's true! He would never...UGH!" Pearl gagged when the one-eyed Lucario sent a Force Palm into her. The shockwave left her body almost completely numb. "I'll let you off with a slap on the wrist this time. But if you ever let a lowly human seduce you and fill your head with lies again, you will receive the steepest penalty possible." Pearl fell in a heap in front of Ash, her face just inches away from his own. "Titan, get her out of the way." But before the hulking Lucario could drag her away, Pearl tearfully whispered to Ash, "I'm sorry... I tried..."

Once Pearl was a good distance away from the battlefield, Thanatos turned to Hawkeye. "What the devil happened to you?" The bruised and humiliated sniper grumbled, "I never was that good at hand-to-hand combat. That kid took full advantage of it." Thanatos grunted, "Care to do the honors then?" The sniper sneered, "With pleasure." Hawkeye then ran over to a tree at the edge of the clearing and jumped up to a low branch. He then molded his Aura into his Aura Bow. "You're mine now."

Hawkeye slowly drew an Aura Bolt and held it in place, savoring the moment before the kill. Thanatos and Silent Fang ran to the edge of the clearing to give Hawkeye a clear shot. Ash was looking directly towards Hawkeye's position, unable to turn away from the sniper who was about to take his life. Pearl, still paralyzed, was also looking towards Ash. Tears flowing down her face, she looked away and closed her eyes the instant Hawkeye released his grip on the Aura Bolt.

As the rain poured down and lightning flashed across the sky, there was a massive flash of blue light followed by an agonizing death scream. But unlike the cry of a child, it sounded more like the screech of a phoenix whose flames had been snuffed out for the last time. And when the blue glow died away, there was an eerie silence. A silence that was broken only by the weeping of a young woman who was not able to save the boy she loved so dearly.
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