AGNPH Stories

Rukario Romance by XD385


Devil of the Eternal Flame


This chapter contains scenes of graphic violence, much more extreme than anything I've written so far. Caution is advised. Beware.

"Get up, all of you! We've slept enough!" Thanatos demanded as the sun rose above the Blackflame Five. Having slept all night, they were now ready to continue the chase. But after taking a quick glance around, Titan asked, "Where's Pearl?" The Blackflame Five looked around for a moment, but found no trace of her. But then Thanatos closed his eye and focused as his Aura became visible. He turned to the south, "Over there?" 

Pearl let out a yawn as she climbed to her feet. "Chesto Berries can't beat real sleep. Even if it was only five hours or so." The young female heard a twig snap and turned to the north. She gulped as her comrades came into view. Hawkeye asked, "What're you doing over here?" Silent Fang also asked, "What were you up to last night?" Pearl yawned, "Recon. I checked ahead and found our target. He doesn't seem aware that we know of his survival." Thanatos then asked, "Why did you not strike him down?" Pearl sighed, "You know that Shadow is with them, along with a variety of other Pokemon. Most of those humans are Trainers after all. And considering how sleepy I was, I wouldn't have lasted long." Thanatos nodded, "Good point. Now let us continue the hunt." The Blackflame Five returned to the trees and continued south while staying out of sight of the road. But Thanatos thought to himself, (Pearl seems unusually focused today. She almost seems to want to help us reach that boy. Or is it a ploy to avoid suspicion? Pearl, you better not be planning to stab us in the back.)

Several dozen miles down the road, Ash's companions and family began to awaken from their slumber. Lucash looked over at Ashton sliding off Chiara's belly. "What does that feel like, Grandpa?" The viscount stretched, "Feels like sleeping on a giant feather pillow." The Lugia giggled, "Am I really that much of a pleasure to sleep with?" Ashton let out a chuckle, "Since I don't have a sleeping bag of my own, I have to make do with what I've got. I didn't make you uncomfortable, did I?" Chiara shook her head as she climbed to her feet, "Not at all. It was actually a pleasure to feel you on top of me." Lucash laughed as he walked over to his father, who was still asleep. Ashton then asked, "Brings back memories, does it not? And now that I think about it, what became of your son?" Chiara thought back for a moment before replying, "Last I heard of him, he had found a home in the Orange Islands."

"Daddy, wake up! Let's go home!" Lucash said as he shook Ash. The Trainer grumbled, "Just five more minutes, Mom.....ACK!!!" He sat up with a start, "What time is it?!" Max checked the Pokenav, "'s a little after 9." Ash began to scramble as he rolled up his sleeping bag and slipped on his jacket. Brock shouted, "Ash, what's the big deal?! I only just finished making breakfast!" The Trainer replied, "We don't have time! We've gotta get outta here! Huh?" Ash looked behind him when Ashton laid a hand on his shoulder. "You seem somewhat frightened about something. Did you have a nightmare?" Ruby also asked, "Yeah, it's not like you to be this freaked out right after you wake up. What happened?" Ash took a deep breath to calm down slightly, "They're coming. The Blackflame Five knows I'm still around." 

Shadow's ears perked up at Ash's confession. He ran over to his Trainer and asked, "How can you be so certain of that? Did you see them?" Ash replied, "It was Pearl. She tracked us down while she was alone and warned me." May then asked, "Do you think she was sent to track you down by the Alpha male?" Ash shook his head, "No way. Pearl was really happy to see me again. She was even crying." Ruby nodded, "She must've really missed you. And she was even putting her life at risk to seek you out. Pearl..... She's something else." 

Ashton then spoke, "So they know you're still alive. Why so afraid? Have you forgotten that I'm here?" Ash looked up at Ashton, "What? Are you saying you might be able to handle them?" The viscount smirked, "I have dealt with deadly assassins, rogue knights, gargantuan demons of legend, and ancient immortal monsters. Five Lucario don't sound all that difficult to manage." But Shadow objected, "Don't underestimate them. Not only are they the finest warriors of my clan. They have an extreme knack for teamwork. Even if Pearl does not assist them, you'll still be torn to shreds if they get the chance." Ashton nodded, "That's a good point. Most of my duels have been against individual foes, not entire squads. Even so, I have a secret weapon should the going get rough." Ruby then asked, "Is it that Grim Reaper scythe thing again?" Ashton gave her a smirk, "Something even better." 

Ashton faced Ash, "But now that we know you're being hunted, countermeasures are needed to keep you safe. Chiara." The Lugia stood at attention, "Yes, my lord?" Ashton pointed at Ash, "You are to watch over our descendant until we escape Hoenn. Never leave his side." She nodded and walked over to Ash, "Well then Lord Ash, it seems I'll be at your command until we leave the Hoenn region." Ash blushed, "Oh c'mon, you're spoiling me!" But Ashton grumbled, "No, still not enough." With a quick swipe of his hand, he snatched a Safari Ball from Ash's belt. "Hey, give that back!" But Ashton smiled, "Sure, but first..." He popped open the Safari Ball, releasing the beautiful Suicune inside. In a flash of light and a shower of sparkles, the elegant Aurora stood before her former master. "Oh? Lord Ashton?" The viscount nodded, "How have you been faring since leaving my side?" She bowed, "Ash is a true pleasure to serve. I don't get out much, but that ball is very cozy on the inside." Ashton grinned, "So I see. You do seem rather relaxed. But enough of that. I have one last command for you as your master." Aurora nodded, "What must I do?" The viscount pointed towards Ash, "Your current master has been targeted for death and must be guarded at all times until we escape from Hoenn. Understand?" But at this, Aurora began to sob, "That.....? Lord Ash, why?! You could've released me so I could defend you! Why did you...mmph?!" Ash ran up to her and covered her mouth. He then whispered into her ear, "I don't know how you know about that, but I'll tell you this. I knew that you were with me, but those guys would've killed you by working as a team. I didn't let you help me because you would've been killed too. And another thing. NEVER tell anyone that I died back then. OK?" Aurora's face changed to one of sheer shock. She whispered, "You kept me out of action to protect me?" She then rested her head against his, "You're every bit of an angel that Ashton is. Thank you." 

Once the situation was made clear to everyone, the gang sat down to breakfast. Brock explained, "We have fresh fruit salad, pancakes, and sausages. Enjoy!" Ashton grumbled as he munched on a pancake. Sapphire asked, "What's wrong, Mr. Ashton? Brock's cooking is really good, but why don't you like it?" Ashton shook his head, "Oh, this is very tasty, make no mistake. It's just not on the same level as Zandria's. I used to eat her cooking all the time after she came to live with me." Ash then nodded, "Oh yeah, I know whatcha mean! I've never eaten food that tasty in my life!" Ashton looked over at his descendant, "How would you know? She died well over 500 years ago." Aurora explained, "She still resides in this world as a specter. She claimed that once she learned all she could about cooking from Mt. Pyre, she would catch up to us." Ashton sighed, "So that explains why she never arrived..." Aurora then joked, "I bet she can't wait to see you again. Should I make sure that there are no interruptions once you both return to the manor?" Ashton became red in the face at this and chuckled, "Uh...sure. You do that!" Lucy then whispered to Chiara, "What did Aurora mean by that?" The Lugia giggled, "Zandria was a very passionate woman. When she and Ashton conceived her child, Zandria went a bit overboard. I had to restrain myself from barging in a few times because they both sounded like they were in pain. But they were just screaming in ecstasy." The modest Lucario turned away with an embarrassed look on her face. "I think that was more than I needed to know." 

Over the course of two weeks, Ash and his companions steadily made their way to Slateport City. And following after them was the Blackflame Five. But with every three days they would get a night worth of sleep, giving Ash a break from their pursuit. But after nearly two weeks, Max checked the Pokenav while on the move. "We've only got a little over one mile to go before we reach Slateport City! We're gonna make it!" But after several more minutes, a voice whispered, "Gotcha." A bolt of Aura shot out from the trees from behind the group. Ashton felt the sudden sense of malice and turned around. He could tell that the Aura Bolt was heading for Ash. (That arrow is made of Aura! The Flamberge won't work! If I can just.....) Ashton reached for the hilt of his secret weapon under his cape with his left hand and lashed out from the draw, striking the Aura Bolt and reducing it to a flurry of glowing particles. After sheathing his weapon, he shouted, "They found us!" One by one, five Lucario dropped from the trees and stood before the group as they turned around. Brock groaned, "Shoot! We were so close too!" 

Thanatos stared intently at Ash, finding it hard to believe that he was alive and well. "How...?" Ash raised an eyebrow, "Huh?" Thanatos asked again, "How are you still living?" He then shouted, "You could not have survived a strike from an Aura Bolt! I even checked your vital signs myself! How are you still alive?!" Ruby looked over at her boyfriend, "He did what?!" Before Ash could deny it, Lucash screamed, "They did! They killed him!" The infant Lucario dashed out from his companions and readied a Force Palm. "How dare you hurt Daddy! I'll kill you!" But before the boy could strike, Titan jumped in front of his leader and took the blow for him. "That was pretty good for a kid." The hulking Lucario grabbed Lucash by the throat and tossed him back over to the group. "Stay out of this. We only came for your father." But as soon as Lucash touched the ground, he tried to charge his father's killers again. But Ashton plunged the Flamberge's massive blade into the ground in front of him. "Stand down, Lucash. I'll handle this." 

The tiny Lucario looked up at his ancestor and shuddered at the look of determination in his eyes. "These scum wish to do harm to my family. A family that I had to risk my life to start." As he hoisted the Flamberge to his shoulder, Ashton spoke, "I normally do not wish to harm Pokemon, but I'll have no choice but to slaughter all of you if you don't leave us now." At this threat, Thanatos laughed, "Do you not know who we are?! We are the Blackflame Five! The most efficient squad of warriors in the land!" Ashton dully replied, "So I've heard. It does not matter what you call yourselves. You stand no chance against the Angel of the Eternal Flame. Now begone before I reduce your corpses to piles of charcoal." 

At Ashton's insult, Thanatos commanded, "Silent Fang, do away with this eyesore." After extending his Aura Sickles, the sadistic Lucario snickered, "Gladly." In the blink of an eye, he vanished from sight as he closed in. But just before he came within striking distance, Ashton brought the Flamberge down in the blink of an eye into the ground, creating a significant crater and knocking the assassin backwards with the shockwave. Once he came to a stop, Silent Fang shuddered as he climbed to his feet. His face was filled with fright as he panted, "One split second later and I would've been cleaved in two." 

Thanatos applauded Ashton, "Impressive. It would seem that there is some truth in your threats." Ashton coldly replied, "Never make threats you can't back up." But Thanatos then stared at Ashton's face. (Strange..... He has the same markings... The same eyes... The same face..... But why does he look so similar? A relative, perhaps?) That was when Thanatos pulled a fast one. In just a few seconds, he gathered his Aura and launched an Aura Sphere at the knight! (No time to pull it out!) Ashton responded by throwing his head back and then throwing it forward, releasing a massive Flamethrower as his wings of rainbow flames sprouted from his back. There was a blast of wind and a flash of flame and blue light as the two attacks canceled each other out. But the Blackflame Five were left speechless at the sight of Ashton's new form. "What the..... Who are you?!" 

Ashton gave the Blackflame Five one final warning, "I will not say it again. Leave my friends and family alone. Ash did not rape the female from your clan. They fell in love with each other and began a family. And Shadow was never brainwashed. He chose Ash as his Trainer so he could fight for noble reasons, not as a feeble assassin." Thanatos shouted, "Silence! What makes you so certain that is true?!" Ashton then smiled, "Because new recruits for the Knighthood of Rohta must make a vow of honesty. If I were to lie about something as serious as this, I would lose my head." Thanatos became awestruck at this. Ruby then confirmed Ashton's claims, "It's true! Ash saved me when I became gravely injured! He even helped me become a better person! How could you even suspect that he would rape me when I practically offered myself to him?!" Shadow added, "I never betrayed you. I joined Ash because he showed me the errors of my ways. There's no honor in killing someone from our clan just because she found love with someone from outside the clan. Not that you would ever understand a thing about love. He is not my master. He is my friend!" Ashton nodded, "And so you have it. The jury has spoken." 

Thanatos shook his head at the confessions from his former subjects. "It pains me that you would willingly sentence yourselves to death. Fine. If you really have violated our codes, then you will be put to death!" Ashton took a firm stance as he prepared for the Blackflame Five's attack. But Thanatos hesitated for a moment as he examined Ashton's wings. (That boy has wings made of flames and can use Fire type attacks? And he looks just like that boy over there..... Could it be that his powers are shared with that child and that they somehow brought him back to life? And if so, could they have been passed on to his children?) The Alpha male's gaze fell upon Lucash and Sapphire. "There's been a change of plans. Kill the children first! They are the true threat!" 

Ash gasped as he heard Thanatos' command. "They're going after the kids?!" Titan made the first move. With the Aura Axe in hand, he charged Ashton. But when Ashton was about to swing the Flamberge at him, Titan leapt skyward. While Ashton was looking up, Pearl lashed out with her Aura Whip and lassoed it around his neck. "I'm really sorry about this!" After apologizing, Pearl yanked Ashton towards her and slammed him in the chest with a Force Palm when he was close enough, stopping his heart just long enough for him to pass out. Titan came down with his Aura Axe above his head. Shadow yelled, "Don't let it hit you!" But as the group scattered, Titan brought his weapon into the ground, creating a large crater and knocking everyone off their feet and sending them flying with the shockwave. "Unlike Hawkeye's weapon, the rest of our weapons affect nonliving matter." Titan chuckled as he brought his Aura Axe to his shoulder. Silent Fang quickly scanned the battlefield and saw Sapphire come to a stop at the sides, still dazed from being knocked along the ground. "Child #1 has been spotted!" With Aura Sickles at the ready, he dashed towards the little Riolu.

Once Sapphire could see straight, she gasped at the sight of the murderous Silent Fang running towards her at high speed. She screamed and covered her head, "Daddy, help me!!!" As if on cue, Ash jumped in front of his daughter with a truly furious glare in his eyes. "Don't touch my little girl!" As he reached back for momentum for a punch, Ash spoke, "I won't let them hurt you, Sapphire. Trust me. I will protect you!" But Silent Fang cackled, "Fine then! I'll just have to kill you both!" He raised his right hand and began to focus his Aura into the palm. As they came within range of each other, Ash threw a punch at Silent Fang's face. But with his superior agility, the Lucario ducked and sent his hand towards the left side of Ash's chest. "Say good night!" 

There was a moment of dread and tension as Silent Fang sent his hand into Ash's chest, a burst of his Aura shooting out of the other side of his body. Ash froze for a moment before gagging, blood oozing from his mouth. Ruby, tears in her eyes, screamed, "No... What have you done to him?!" Silent Fang sneered, "His heart has been torn to shreds. If you have any last words, you better tell him now." Ashton, who had just regained consciousness, roared with the Flamberge above his head, "You barbarians!" But before the viscount could strike, Thanatos intercepted him with a Jump Kick, sending Ashton flying a good distance before hitting the ground. "Stay out of this. It does not concern you." Ashton growled, "Don't tell me what to do!" But as Ash's world began to turn dark, Silent Fang chuckled, "I'll gonna take my time and wait for death to settle in. I'm not going to make the same mistake twice. I'm not budging until I know you're dead. But don't worry. You're little girl will be joining you pretty soon." Ash's head bowed as his breathing became weak, his hat sliding from his head to the ground between him and his murderer. 

In his mind, Ash thought to himself, "What can I do?! I don't want them to die! Ruby. Shadow. Lucash. Sapphire! I'm about to lose them all!" He heard screams of agony as the Blackflame Five carried out the 'justice' for their betrayals. "Daddy, they got Mommy! Don't let them get me too.....GAAAHHH!!!" Ash screamed, "Lucash!" Shadow roared, "Don't touch her! She's my friend's daughter! Sapphire, run...ugh..." The sound of a liquid being sprayed across the ground was heard, followed by the shriek of a little girl. Ash dropped to his knees, "No....this is just a dream! It has to be!" 

Ash shuddered in rage and fear, "But if I don't do something, this dream will really happen!" Ash clenched his fists, "What gives them the right to decide how we live our lives?! Ruby and Shadow deserve the best! And my kids..... What did they ever do?! Are they trying to kill them just because they were born?!" Ash pleaded as a strange and hot presence began to grow inside him. "I won't let that happen..... They're trying to kill them just because they're trying to live their lives the way they want to. The Blackflame Five doesn't care about why. They're as low as they come. I'll never forgive them. For the suffering they've forced onto Ruby and for all the lives they made Shadow take....." Ash growled as he stood up, "I'LL KILL THEM ALL!!!" 

Silent Fang screamed in shock and pain as flames suddenly engulfed Ash's body. He jumped backwards and shook his hand. "It burns! It hurts! I'll never be able to use my arm again!" But Titan ran over to him and grumbled, "You crybaby. Your fur was only singed. Your skin is fine." But a sudden blast of heat sent the lightweight Silent Fang tumbling backwards while the heavier Titan stood his ground. "What's with these flames...?" But as the flames grew in intensity, they began to compact around Ash's body and seemed to form a layer of sorts that looked slightly familiar. Ashton gasped, "Does he... Does Ash have access to the Eternal Flame as well?! I never knew that it was passed down to all of my descendants!" Ash simply stood in place for a moment and slowly began to raise his head. When he gazed ahead at Thanatos, the Blackflame Five froze in shock at the sight of his eyes. They were now a vivid pink. But Ash soon closed his eyes as the Z-shaped markings under his eyes began to become bolder and longer. But the upper tip of the one under his left eye began to creep up his face and over his eyelid. The mark stopped moving after almost reaching Ash's hairline. His face snarled as his teeth grew fangs. But when he opened his eyes again, Ash's pink eyes were now more feral and bloodthirsty, not at all like the eyes of a human. He bent his legs, bringing his body closer to the ground. The cloak of flames surrounding him began to take on a unique appearance. A pair of ears grew from the top of the cloak while a thick bushy tail stood up behind Ash. It was at the sight of this new form that one name came into Ashton's mind. "So that's it. He has Zangoose blood flowing through his veins!" 

Sapphire gazed up at her father. His new form was both amazing, yet terrifying. "D...Daddy?" Without even turning around, Ash spoke to his daughter with a voice seething with malice, "Get outta here, Sapphire. I don't want you to see what I'm gonna do to these guys." Ash's cruel pink eyes gazed ahead at Thanatos. A second later, Ash vanished. The Blackflame Five felt a rush of wind pass them and before they could even turn around, Ash was in front of Thanatos with a raised fist. The Alpha male gasped, "What?! When did you..." He was cut off as Ash slammed his fist into the Alpha male's face, sending him crashing through the forest nearby. A cloud of dirt and dust could be seen rising over the trees as Thanatos barreled through the trees for almost half a mile. Aurora gulped, "That was..." She remembered the duel Ashton had on the high seas against a Kyogre golem that was being commanded by Archibald of the Leviathan when her master sent the Sea Basin Pokemon through the entire hull of the Leviathan with a single blow. 

Ash stood where he was for a moment almost as if he could not believe what he had just done, as did everyone else. His body still shaking from the immense rage and bloodlust in his mind, he gazed down at his right hand. He slowly began to raise his arms over his face. At that instant, Thanatos came sprinting out of the forest towards Ash. "You weasel! No one touches me like that and lives!" But just before he could strike the boy, Ash brought his arms down and let out a scream of wrath, sending Thanatos flying backwards and sending a massive firestorm in all directions. Everyone shielded themselves from the flames any way they could. But once they could see again, everyone looked around in horror as the trees around them were ablaze. Ash growled, "You had your chance to leave us alone. Now I'm gonna tear you guys apart!" 

Ashton gasped, "The Eternal Flame combined with the cunning and sadistic nature of a Zangoose will mean disaster!" The viscount dashed over in front of the boy before he could target the Blackflame Five. His arms spread, Ashton shouted, "Ash, leave them to me! I promise, I will make them pay for what they have done to your family! You must calm yourself! Trust me!" But Ash leapt at Ashton with an arm raised. Then, to the viscount's horror, a pair of claws extended from his hand! "No... Stop this!" But the boy slashed his ancestor across the face, spilling his blood across the ground. Ashton brought a hand to his face and groaned in agony. He tried to take a look at Ash. The Trainer's left hand now had two claws sticking out from between his index, middle, and ring fingers. They were also covered in Ashton's blood. His knuckle glove had also been shredded when he extended them. (He's more like a Zangoose than I thought.) Ash snarled, "I'm only telling you this once. Don't get between an avenger and his prey." 

Lucy looked on in sheer horror as her dearest friend attacked his own ancestor in cold blood. "No... He's just like..." Her mind drifted back to a moment she wanted to forget. Herself, covered in gold and black, caught in a fierce battle of life and death. There was a moment of blurred vision. When Lucy could see again, the Blaziken that she had come to view as a sister was falling over a cliff into the ocean below, all by her own hands. Lucy's eyes began to pour tears of fear and desperation. She stood up and dashed towards Ash. "No, don't go down that path! You mustn't follow such evil thoughts! It will only end in tragedy!" Ash turned around at Lucy's pleas and looked on in bewilderment as she threw her arms around him. "Come back..... Don't make the same mistake I did.... Come back to me..."

Ash's face quickly went from surprise to rage as his right arm reached up. Another pair of claws extended from his hand, destroying his other glove. Ruby gasped, "He wouldn't! Ash, don't break your promise to me!" As he heard his girlfriend's plea, Ash stopped his arm at the last second, bringing his claws just an inch from Lucy's frightened face. His face was now a contorted mess of clashing emotions. But Lucy was still terrified by her best friend as this was the first time he had ever raised his fist against her. Still restraining himself, Ash whispered, "Ashton..... Get everyone away from here..." The viscount replied, still clutching his face, "I see. I'll get them out of here. But promise me something. Don't die on us yet." Ash nodded, "Got it." But Lucy pleaded, "No, don't leave us! Huh?" Lucy gasped as Ash brought a hand to her face. Despite being entirely composed of flames, the cloak that now seemed to be a second skin felt like a soft layer of fur. Ash gave Lucy a reassuring look of worry and kindness, although his cruel pink Zangoose eyes seemed to speak otherwise. "I won't abandon you, Lucy. Just give me a little time to clean up here." But the pacifist Lucario begged, "Revenge isn't worth seeking! Just let it go!" Ash scowled at her, "This isn't revenge. This is justice. Ruby was neglected throughout her life because of them and Shadow was forced to kill countless rival clan members under Thanatos' orders. If I don't kill them now, who will stop them from hurting others?" 

Lucy tried to speak, but she could not bring any words from her mouth. As much as she hated the idea of killing, Ash was right. Thanatos would never stop being the warmonger that he was. There was no telling how many more would die if something was not done about him. She let go of Ash and sank to her knees. "Just don't make them suffer." Ashton then grabbed Lucy and carried her over his shoulder and ran for the forest. "Let's evacuate! This is his fight now!" Shadow asked as the viscount passed him, "Are you certain he'll be fine?!" Sapphire screamed, "Daddy, don't! They'll...hey?!" Sapphire gasped as Aurora snatched her up in her jaws and dashed after Ashton. "Sorry, dear. But if it's what my master wishes, I will obey." As everyone fled through the burning forest, Lucash asked, "Grandpa, will Daddy really be OK?" The viscount frowned, "It's not him I'm worried about. It's his victims I fear for." Shadow gagged, "What?! Are you saying Ash can really hold his own against the entire Blackflame Five at one time?!" Ashton looked at him and replied, "I know the Eternal Flame better than anyone. And I can safely assume that those fools are as good as dead." 

Ash stood his ground as the Blackflame Five gathered together. Pearl was having a difficult time accepting that the boy she loved was a monster in human flesh. Hawkeye asked, "Should we pursue our targets?" Thanatos shook his head, "No, not yet. It would seem that this boy is a much greater threat to our people than I imagined. Before we proceed after those traitors, we must deal with this one first." Silent Fang then extended an Aura Sickle from the spike on his right hand. "Allow me." In a flash, he sprinted towards Ash and slashed across his neck, keeping his arm outstretched as he came to a stop about a dozen feet behind him. But after a brief moment, Ash spoke, "I think you dropped something." Baffled, Silent Fang turned around. (Did I miss?) To his shock, Ash was holding a Lucario's spike in one hand that had been melted off near the base. Silent Fang looked down at his right hand and screamed in horror at the sight of his right hand's spike having been melted off! 

Thanatos shouted, "You scum! How dare you cripple one of our own like this! Unforgivable!!!" But Ash dropped the spike to the ground and grunted, "Shut up. It's almost worthless to begin with. This guy's the only one I know who can really use them effectively. The rest of you see them as nothing but jewelry." Thanatos growled, "What was that, you rat?!" Ash's fierce eyes glared at the Alpha male, "I said you guys are gonna die here." Ash then took a deep breath and threw his head back as he let out a roar, a Sacred Fire vortex swirling around him! The Blackflame Five shielded themselves from the intense heat as they waited for the flames to die down. Once Ash had finished shouting his battle cry, he dropped down on all fours and shouted, "None of you are getting outta here alive! I'll kill you all!!!"

Thanatos led the charge as the Blackflame Five readied their Aura weapons. "Follow after me!" But when the Alpha male closed in to strike, Ash vanished and kicked him in the back a split second later! Silent Fang swooped in from behind Ash with a left-handed Aura Sickle, but the enraged Trainer moved faster than the Lucario could see and struck him in the back of the head with a lash of his tail using Iron Tail. "Darn it, that hurt! Good thing that was a.....wait a sec! Is that tail solid?!" Titan grumbled, "It must be. But how is that boy able to use Pokemon moves?" Thanatos growled, "So that explains how he came back to life. This kid isn't human! He's a monster!" But when Ash heard this, he growled, "Monster?! Yeah right!" Hawkeye then asked, "If you're not a monster, then what the heck are you?!" Ash gave them a truly wicked smile and replied, "I am a devil!" Hawkeye laughed, "Sure, like THAT makes any difference! Now hold still!" But when he lunged at him with a Force Palm, Ash dashed up to him and shoulder barged the sniper, only to intercept him a second later from behind with a Fire Punch! Titan then tried to take a swing at Ash with his Aura Axe, but he vanished and appeared behind the hulking Lucario before firing a Flamethrower from his mouth with a roar, sending Titan crashing along the ground and frantically trying to put out the flames on his tail. Pearl lashed out with the tip of the Aura Whip, but Ash vanished in a second. The female looked around in a panic as she saw occasional afterimages of the boy, but he came up from behind and punched her in the back of the head with his claws retracted. 

Thanatos was steaming mad when he came back for more, but Ash slipped behind him again and began to pummel the Alpha male with earthshaking blows and rapid slashes before smacking him away with an Iron Tail. Silent Fang dashed up from behind Ash, but the Trainer slashed him away with an upward swing of his claws. Hawkeye then attempted to strike at Ash while he repelled Silent Fang, but the boy thrust his claws into the ground for leverage and horse kicked Hawkeye in the gut. Titan then came down from above with an overhead swing with the Aura Axe, but Ash jumped up past the weapon and brought his elbow down into his head, sending him face first into the ground. Thanatos then tried to dive down into Ash with a Force Palm ready, but the Trainer kicked him away with both legs at once. Silent Fang and Pearl then closed in for a pincer attack as Ash touched the ground, but he leapt at Silent Fang and sent a Fire Punch into his face before catapulting off of him towards Pearl and knocked her away with Shadow Claw. But upon landing, he sent out three ropes of fire from one hand, which then snatched up Titan, Thanatos, and Hawkeye. They were then thrown at each other and crashed into each other headfirst. But before they could separate, Ash scorched them with a massive Blast Burn, engulfing them in a flash of fire!

The Blackflame Five regrouped after taking some heavy hits. Hawkeye wheezed, "We've never had any experience against something like that. What now?!" Ash growled, "There's nowhere to run! Not anymore, at least!" He then leapt skyward while holding one hand straight up. A high-pitched squeal was heard as intense flames began to flare around his hand. "Let's see you get around this one!" With that, a massive plume of fire bombs shot up from Ash's hand and began to rain down all over the forest like a shower of napalm! Thanatos shouted, "Everyone, scatter!" The Blackflame Five dispersed in every direction as they tried to evade this hail of death.

Chiara removed her large hand from Ashton's face. "Feeling better?" The viscount ran his fingers over his face, checking for any grooves from the deep cuts that Ash had dug into his skin. "Not even a scar. Thank you, Chiara." The Lugia nodded, "Serenade documented all her medical knowledge and I learned all I could from it." The group had escaped into the forest and was now resting in a clearing while they waited for the fight to play out. But Sapphire soon pointed upwards and said, "Oooo, pretty fireworks!" But when Shadow looked up, his face went pale with horror. "What the hell is that?!" Ashton looked up in time to see a storm of flames raining down towards them. 

"Aurora, quickly!" The Suicune nodded and sprayed a torrent of water from her mouth into the ground, drenching it. Once enough water had spread around them, Ashton made several quick hand signs and shouted, "Ninja Art: Water Style! Water Wall!!!" As soon as he finished the chant, the water at their feet shot up around them and formed a massive swirling cylinder of water! Every single fire bomb that struck the wall was extinguished. Lucash shouted, "That's so cool, Grandpa!" But the viscount replied, "Don't bother me! I must not lose focus!!" Even though they could not see past the Water Wall, everyone could hear the forest going up in flames as each fire bomb exploded upon hitting the ground. Lucy shuddered, "Stop..... Please stop before it's too late..." 

The Blackflame Five almost ran right into each other as soon as the flames stopped falling. But all five were mortified at what had become of their surroundings. The forest that covered the area was now completely engulfed in flames as a massive forest fire burned out of control. Ash dropped back to the ground looking no more satisfied than before. Thanatos shouted, "For you to attack the very environment itself! How low are you willing to go?!" Ash growled, "I don't care what I have to destroy to get the job done! Until I make you all suffer for what you did to Ruby and my kids, I'll never rest!" Titan, consumed with misguided rage, charged at Ash with the Aura Axe over his head, "What're you saying?! You're the real monster here!" But when he swung downwards, Ash hopped sideways a little and let the axe strike the ground instead. Titan looked to his side and saw Ash give him a most unnerving stare. His eyes were still filled with rage while his face seemed to be filled with joy. He then spoke, "You die first." 

With claws on both hands extended, Ash slammed Titan in the gut, sinking his claws into his flesh. But the burly Lucario hardly even groaned in pain. Ash then proceeded to land Blaze Kicks and Fire Punches on his foe and even nailed him with several Iron Tails before sending Titan flying backwards with a back flip kick to his chin. But when Titan landed on his feet, he looked ahead as Ash dashed at him at extremely high speed with a hand dragging behind him. "DIE!!!" He blazed past Titan with a clawed hand outstretched. They both just stood there as if waiting for time to catch up to them. Titan's hand soon opened and dropped the Aura Axe, but it did not disappear right away. Hawkeye laughed, "Looks like your aim could use a little work!" Ash then surprised him with a sinister grin. "Wait for it." Thanatos then grunted, "Knock it off. You obviously missed him. Titan, get your nerves together and attack!" But the hulking Lucario stood perfectly motionless. Thanatos then roared, "Titan, get it together, you slacker! Pick up your axe and kill this whelp!" Ash then laughed, "Five...four...three...two...and one..." As soon as Ash finished counting, blood began to spill down the middle of Titan's body from the top of his head to the bottom of his torso. Soon, his body split into two perfectly equal halves and fell away from each other as his internal organs spilled out. Pearl let out a scream of sheer horror at the terrible brutality of Titan's death. Ash then gave her a stare that chilled her to the bone. "You're next, Pearl." 

Pearl turned to run, but Ash dashed at her at high speed and caught her by the neck before slamming her against a tree. The hand he was holding her with had its claws retracted so as to not skewer her. But his other hand had its claws extended and ready to tear her to shreds. Hawkeye was about to fire an Aura Bolt at Ash from behind, but Thanatos grabbed his arm, "Don't! You might hit her instead!" But as he gazed into Pearl's eyes, Ash's eyes began to quiver as he struggled to hold himself back. But as she was being pinned to the tree by the neck, Pearl whispered, "It's OK. Kill me. I deserve it." Ash remained motionless, one half of his mind demanding him to tear her apart while the other half told him to spare her. Pearl continued, "Shadow..... He told you, didn't he? About why there are no other Lucario clans in Hoenn?" Ash gagged, "I remember..... I had to...order him to tell me... He was crying as he said it....." Pearl nodded, "Yes. Thanatos ordered the massacres of every Lucario clan we could find, even our allies. And it was all because they did not share his policies. You can't even imagine how many clans were wiped out because of us. Whatever clans we did not find must've either have disbanded or went into hiding. So you see, I deserve to die. Go ahead, hero. Give me my punishment." But Ash whispered, "Pearl, you almost got yourself killed trying to save me. I think it's time that I returned the favor." Ash then took a step back with Pearl still hanging from his hand by her neck. With a mighty toss, he threw her towards the tower of water in the distance. As Pearl went flying towards his companions, Ash turned to the last three members of the Blackflame Five and growled, "Who's next?!" 

Ruby began to pace back and forth as she worried for her boyfriend and sister. But just then, she looked up at the sound of a splash as something solid crashed through the Water Wall. Chiara noticed and caught the object with her large hands. Ruby recognized the creature at once. "Pearl!" She ran over to her sister as Chiara set her down. "Are you OK?! You look hurt!" But Pearl replied, "It's just some bruises. I've had worse." But Shadow ran over to her and asked, "But what are you doing here?!" Pearl sighed, "Ash..... He spared me. I thought for sure he was going to tear my head off...but he got me to safety." Shadow then asked, "Pearl, what's going on out there? Is Ash still..." Pearl nodded, "He's doing fine. At least in body. But Titan....." Ruby asked, "What about him?" Pearl then brought her hands to her face and wept, "Ash...killed him.....cut him in two... He split him in half down the middle!" Pearl cried in complete shock from the sight of the horrific killing. 

Ashton's face went blank from the mention of Ash killing someone in such barbaric fashion. (What has he become? The Eternal Flame is indeed unrelenting when angered, but this goes beyond anything I've ever heard of. Ash..... He's no Angel...) Lucash then came over to Pearl and pointed at her, "Mommy, who's this?" Ruby replied, "This is your aunt. Her name is Pearl." Lucash then looked up at his aunt and brought a hand to her face, "Auntie Pearl? It's OK. Daddy will be fine. I just know it. Don't cry." The Lucario then snatched up her nephew and cried more. "I'm so sorry. Please forgive me for what I did to you and your father!" Lucash replied, "If Daddy forgives you, then I will too."

Back on the battlefield, Thanatos ran past Titan's remains and snatched up the Aura Axe. Due to his greater agility, he could swing it around much faster and with just as much force as Titan could. But Ash's speed was greater still and he danced around every swing. But Hawkeye soon fired an Aura Bolt at Ash while it seemed he was not watching. But Ash ducked the shot and nearly caused it to hit Thanatos instead! He then dropped down on all fours and took off into the burning forest, staying behind only the first row of trees. Hawkeye shouted, "I got him!" He then began to fire off many Aura Bolts in rapid succession, narrowly missing Ash as the trees messed with Hawkeye's aim. But the boy soon let out a snarl and came out of the trees while still evading Hawkeye's shots. He then let out a roar as he dashed towards his prey. Hawkeye began to fire an almost constant stream of Aura Bolts at Ash as he began to panic. By now, Ash had decided to stop humoring Hawkeye and ran straight ahead without making any effort at dodging his shots. As it turned out, the Aura Bolts would just glance off the layer of flames on Ash's body! When Ash reached Hawkeye, he thrust his fist into his gut and raised him up before bringing him down on the other side, slamming him into the ground on his back. 

Ash growled, "Now it's time I paid you back for what you did to me!" Ash extended the claws from both hands and thrust them into Hawkeye's chest while his hands were turned inward. While this was indeed painful to Hawkeye, Ash decided to turn it up a notch and ripped his claws out to the sides, tearing open the Lucario's chest and revealing his ribcage and the internal organs around and near it. But despite the truly excruciating pain he was in, Hawkeye was able to form his Aura Bow again and fired an Aura Bolt pointblank into Ash's face, causing the boy's head to fly backwards as if he was doing the limbo. Hawkeye panted, "I.....I got him!" But Ash soon grinned with a bloodthirsty smile and opened his mouth wide before throwing his face forward and down into Hawkeye's chest. A second later, he threw his head back with a spray of blood following him as Hawkeye let out one last scream of pain that was extremely short. Thanatos and Silent Fang looked on in silent terror. Hanging from Ash's teeth was Hawkeye's heart. 

Ash faced his two remaining enemies and smirked, blood dripping from his mouth as he took Hawkeye's heart in hand. "Blood just doesn't taste that good. Better burn it off." Ash's hand then became covered in flames. Over the course of ten seconds, the smell of cooked meat began to fill the air. Ash made the flames disappear and now held a nicely cooked Lucario heart in his hand. He then took a bite out of it and smiled, " that's tasty." As he watched Ash enjoy his snack, Silent Fang grumbled, "And they say I'M sick in the head." Once Ash had finished his meal, he belched, "Pretty tasty. Who wants to end up on my dinner plate next?" 

Silent Fang dashed at Ash with his only Aura Sickle ready, "Desecrating the body of our finest sniper is an outrage!" He took a few swings with the blade, but gagged when Ash kneed him in the gut. "Outrage? Are you saying murdering a young lady just because she fell in love with someone from outside your clan is even less of an outrage?" He then sent Silent Fang flying upwards with a Blaze Kick to the chest. But as Silent Fang reached the top of his climb, Thanatos charged at Ash with the Aura Axe in hand. "This is for Hawkeye and Titan!" But when he brought the axe head down with an overhead swing, Ash reached up with one hand and caught the blade. "Stay outta this." He then blasted Thanatos with a Heat Wave to create some distance between them, but did not let go of the Aura Axe. Taking the weapon in hand, Ash wound up for a swing. Silent Fang fell back towards the ground headfirst. But as he fell in front of Ash, the Trainer swung with the Aura Axe too quickly for it to be seen. Just after that, he reached out and grabbed Silent Fang's head and pulled away as his body hit the ground. Ash then held the assassin's severed head above him and recited, "To be or not to be. That is the question." He then looked over at Thanatos while holding the head from the top. "That just leaves you and me." He then closed his hand into a fist, crushing the upper half of the head before dropping it. 

Thanatos bared his teeth in both frustration and anger. "How... How could you have disposed of them so easily?!" Ash then dropped to all fours and extended both sets of claws, "Does it matter? You're still gonna die here." But he then gave Thanatos a less angry look and one that was more frustrated. "But before I tear you apart, tell me. What really happened to Iron Claw? Shadow told me about him. Why did he choose you to succeed him?" 

Thanatos gave Ash a look that showed he did not expect an outsider to know of his predecessor. But he shrugged his shoulders, "No harm in telling you. He chose me because I was the strongest Lucario of the Blackflame clan. Second to him, that is. The Alpha male must be strong enough to deal with any threat that targets the clan. Still...... He never understood the greatness of a Lucario's claws and for this, I loathed him." Ash growled, "What?! Choosing you to be the next Alpha male should be a great honor! Why did you hate him?!" Thanatos replied, "He believed that the wellbeing of our claws is only a secondary interest. He viewed me as being a misguided fool!" He then raised his hand to his scarred left eyelid, "See this?! I sacrificed this eye so that the claw on my left hand would remain intact! But I was still ridiculed as someone who made a worthless sacrifice for a virtually useless appendage! But I eventually couldn't take it anymore. And when that gang of thugs known as Team Aqua struck, I was given the opportunity I was searching for." 

Ash asked, "Opportunity? You mean when Iron Claw died from his injuries from driving them away?" Thanatos smirked, "Yes. At least that's what I told the clan. The fools never even guessed the truth." Ash snarled, "You didn't....." Thanatos continued, "The wounds Iron Claw suffered in that duel were significant, but were by no means fatal. He was only too weak to walk. And of course, he was also too weak to defend himself. So I took maximum advantage of the situation and claimed my title of Alpha male." Ash dug his fingertips into the ground, "You're an even lower excuse of a leader than I thought. Iron Claw was a good man! Now I'll make sure to make your death as painful as possible!" But Thanatos chuckled, "You really think it'll be that simple? I'll have you know that during this entire confrontation, I've been using less than half of my real strength. It just so happens that whenever I've gone all-out, my foes have never even been able to touch me. Now you will understand why my name is Thanatos, the master of death!" 

Thanatos hunkered down as he began to growl. His Aura became visible and his body began to tremble. Before long, his Aura was surging just as fiercely as the inferno around them. "I'll say it again. No one has ever laid a hand on me in this state. Any last words before you...gah?!" Thanatos looked down at the sight of Ash with one of his hand's claws buried into his abdomen. He then looked up at the Alpha male and smirked, "Never before, huh? Looks like you just lost your title of Untouchable." Thanatos growled and shouted, "You..... I'LL KILL YOU!!!!"

Thanatos made his Aura surge, blasting Ash a good distance away from him. "Now it's my turn!" At speeds that no one could track, Thanatos dashed up to Ash and grabbed him before thrusting his palm into his stomach. Ash gagged from the impact and fired a Flamethrower at pointblank. This made Thanatos back away to evade it at the last second, but Ash was behind him before he knew it and sent him flying through the air with a Crush Claw to the back. Ash then leapt after him and soon caught up to him in the air. Thanatos tried to counter with a Force Palm once Ash was within range, but the Trainer grabbed his arm and pulled it past him before striking him with Close Combat. The sheer power of the attack coupled with its type advantage caused Thanatos to scream in pain as it wreaked havoc on his body. The impact also sent him flying towards the Water Wall in the distance. Once Ash fell into a burning tree, he catapulted off of it after his quarry. 

Thanatos soon shot right through the Water Wall and above Ash's companions. But Shadow detected his Aura and threw an Aura Shuriken upwards to intercept him. The Aura Shuriken buried itself into Thanatos' leg, causing him to grit his teeth in pain. A few seconds after Thanatos flew through the other side of it, Ash came crashing through the Water Wall and out the other side. As he saw his father for a brief second, Lucash shouted, "Go get him, Dad!" 

Thanatos hit the ground and bounced a bit before Ash caught up with him. But as the Trainer closed in on him, Thanatos dug a hand into the ground to stop himself and let out a Metal Sound in Ash's direction. The high-pitched screech was unbearable and Ash brought his hands to his ears to block it out. But while Ash was dealing with the ringing in his ears, Thanatos sent an Aura Sphere at him! "Let's see you dodge this one!" Ash saw the blast coming at the last second and turned tail and ran. The Aura Sphere was close behind him as Ash ran on all fours. No matter what he did, he could not escape it. But he then had an idea. Ash made a very wide turn and was soon running back towards Thanatos. He shouted, "At least I'll take you with me!" But the Lucario gasped, "You wouldn't really...?!" It was then that he caught on. (Oh come on, that's the oldest trick in the book.) Thanatos readied a Dragon Pulse in his mouth as he waited for Ash to get out of the way at the last minute. As soon as Ash vanished in an intense burst of speed, Thanatos released the Dragon Pulse from his mouth, countering the Aura Sphere and destroying them both in a flash of blue sparkles. 

"OK, where'd you go this time...what the?!" Thanatos found himself wrapped up in a rope of fire that was extending from one of Ash's arms. "Trainers have to be ready to use every strategy they can think of. And I have over two years of experience as one!" Ash then moved his arm downwards, bringing the end of the rope down like the end of a whip. Thanatos felt the wind being knocked out of him as he hit the ground hard. Ash then began to swing his arm around wildly, slamming Thanatos into the ground here and there. Ash then began to make a very wide horizontal sweep with his arm, making the rope swing around fairly close to the ground. Thanatos went crashing through countless burning trees before the rope released him, sending him flying back towards the area where his three comrades were slain. But as he hit the ground while in mid-flight, Ash caught up to him and rammed him with a Flare Blitz, causing great pain to the Alpha male as he was sent the rest of the way over to his teammate's corpses. 

Thanatos came to a stop near Titan's two halves. Ash soon caught up to him and dipped his right hand's claws into Titan's blood and licked it from them. "Blood tastes best cold. Can't wait to try yours." Thanatos panted, "This kid..... What the hell is he? Some sort of immortal demon?" Ash then asked, "Any last words?" But the Alpha male chuckled, "Amazing. Truly amazing. It's been a long time indeed since I experienced a battle this intense. But I will still win this duel." Ash then laughed, "I must've hit your head on that last one. You feel all right?" Thanatos smirked, "Laugh while you can. Once I'm done with you, there won't be any trace of you left." 

Ash took a cautious stance at Thanatos' threat. "Yes, you know it too. You've seen how the other members of the original Blackflame Six can use unique weapons forged from their own Aura. Well, now it's time to show you mine." Ash made a lunge at Thanatos with claws extended, but the wily Lucario leapt skyward to evade him. When about 800 feet above the battlefield, Thanatos' Aura surged fiercely as he floated in place. "You should feel honored! Only the most powerful and skilled warriors have lasted long enough to witness my final trump card!" 

Shadow and Pearl shuddered as they felt a terrible foreboding. Max noticed Shadow's panicked expression and asked, "Shadow, what's up?" The Lucario gulped, "It's happening....." Brock then asked, "Happening? What is?" Pearl answered, "Thanatos' own Aura weapon. The fact that he's about to use it means he's getting desperate." May then asked, "Desperate?" Shadow nodded, "Yeah. If he's going to use it, Ash must be much more powerful than we could ever have expected. Thanatos only uses that thing against his opponents when nothing else works." May then asked, "What is this final attack of his?" Shadow shivered, "You've heard the name before. It's the Aura Cannon." 

Ruby turned to face Shadow, "Aura Cannon? Thanatos mentioned that name when we were not very far from Lilycove City. Just what is it?" Pearl explained, "It's a massive wave of his Aura fired from his hands. Anyone who gets caught in that blast is as good as dead. When they're consumed by the Aura Cannon, their body's cells are broken down on a molecular level by the sheer intensity of his Aura. In the end, nothing remains of his target." But before anyone could panic, Shadow spoke, "But it comes with a price. When he uses the Aura Cannon, Thanatos must take an entire day to rest. It's that taxing." 

Lucy asked Pearl, "If he can't even fight after using the Aura Cannon....." Pearl nodded, "Yeah. If Ash can find a way to escape or survive the Aura Cannon, there will be nothing stopping him from ending the Alpha male's life. It's an all-or-nothing shot. If this attack fails, Thanatos is finished." Ruby looked towards the direction she was feeling the presence of Thanatos' Aura from and whispered, "Come back to me in one piece, Ash. You still haven't fulfilled your promise to me."

Thanatos raised both hands over his head and began to focus his Aura towards them. The more of his Aura he gathered, the brighter his body glowed. The ground below him even began to shake as his Aura resonated with power. Ash simply looked up at him as he waited. But he then noticed the bodies of the Blackflame Five nearby. Wanting to make sure they would not be destroyed, Ash ran a little ways south to insure they would not get caught in the blast. Thanatos saw him running away and shouted, "Don't bother! There's no getting around this one!" Ash stopped and turned around. He then bent his legs more than usual as if preparing for a sprint. Finally, Thanatos screamed, "Farewell, human scum! Aura Cannon, FIRE!!!" 

Thanatos threw his hands down until they were pointing towards Ash. At that instant, a colossal wave of Aura roared from Thanatos' palms. The blast was wide enough to engulf the average Pokemon Gym. But Ash stood his ground and waited. After a tense moment, the Aura Cannon struck the ground, but Thanatos kept the blast going. "Yes, suffer! Know the pain you caused my comrades!" But a voice replied, "Well, you'll soon know the pain of all the lives you and your 'comrades' have ended!" Thanatos looked down and could make out a faint red glow moving up through the Aura Cannon itself at high speed! "No... No one can survive this! NO ONE!!!" A second later, a pair of claws struck the Lucario and even impaled him on the arm they were attached to. As he gagged in pain, the Alpha male's Aura rapidly dwindled. As they floated in the air for a few seconds more, Ash muttered, "Game Over, Thanatos." 

Ash pulled his arm out of Thanatos' body and fell back to the ground, landing as lightly as a feather. But Thanatos hit the ground with a crash. Ash looked on for a moment as Thanatos struggled to his feet. He could not even stand up straight without wobbling. Ash noticed this and said, "That Aura Cannon thing. That was your last shot, wasn't it? You were betting everything you had on that last attack to kill me." Thanatos stared at Ash in both rage and fear. But to Ash's surprise, the Alpha male dropped to his knees and pleaded, "You are the superior of all warriors I have ever met in battle. A fighter without peer. I am humbled by your prowess." 

Ash gave Thanatos a skeptical gaze, "What're you up to?" The Alpha male went on, "You have triumphed over me in all areas. Name a request and I will fulfill it. Anything at all." Ash still frowned, "Fine. Never hunt anyone who leaves your clan for love. Never do war with other clans again. And if you know what's good for you, stop placing ones' entire value on their spikes. You can't judge someone by how they look." Ash then glared at Thanatos, "And never harm my family again." Thanatos nodded, "You have my word." Ash then turned to leave, "Good. But I better not ever see you again." But as he began to walk away, Thanatos replied, "Don't worry about that. Your eyes will never see me or anyone else ever again." Thanatos then lunged at Ash from behind with the last ounce of strength he had and plunged a type of blade into his back that was composed of his Aura and was extending from his palm. "I am the greatest warlord of the Hoenn region. I will never accept losing to human filth such as you." But his expression of pride soon changed to one of utter terror as Ash's head began to turn to face him. When his fierce pink eyes met Thanatos' lone red eye, he growled, "Look's like your last chance just flew out the window." 

Before Thanatos even had the chance to beg for his life, Ash punched him in the face, sending him back north towards his comrades' remains. Once Thanatos came to a stop, he pressed himself up with his arms and saw Ash running towards him on all fours. "No, stop! Wait a second!" But Ash would not hear of it. He grabbed Thantos and threw him skyward. He then jumped after him and shouted, "Now you'll understand the suffering of those you had murdered!" Ash then slashed at Thanatos, sinking his claws deep. But before Thanatos could fall, Ash jumped at him again, slashing across his body. With every slash Ash unleashed on Thanatos, he picked up speed, the intervals between each strike getting shorter. Soon Ash began to leap from tree to burning tree as he raked his flaming claws along Thanatos' body. A spider web of flames formed as Ash jumped back and forth from each tree while slashing Thanatos on the run. After an uncountable number of slashes, Ash leapt skyward and dove down towards the Alpha male, who was facing upwards at him. For some reason, he could not open his mouth to scream in terror. Ash shouted, "This is for Iron Claw!" With that, he cut right through Thanatos with a deadly X-scissor attack. 

Ash landed in a heap, a shower of blood falling around him. Following after the blood were numerous thuds as bits and pieces of the Alpha male began to litter the battlefield. Ash looked upwards as the forest burned around him, his pink eyes returning to their original dark brown color. The layer of fire that formed a second skin of fur disappeared in a flurry of embers. And his claws extended back into his hands. Ash's clothing was now tattered and ripped from the attacks that managed to get through to him. Before he collapsed, he whispered, "Justice is served." 

Ashton looked up as he felt a sudden calm. "It's over." He then released his hands, causing the Water Wall to fall around them. To everyone's horror, the entire forest was ablaze. Chiara spoke, "Aurora, please assist me." Together, the Lugia and Suicune performed a Rain Dance that quickly brought on a deluge of rain, steadily putting out the flames. Ashton nodded, "Well done. That should keep the damage to a minimum." Ruby then asked, "But what about Ash? Is he safe?" Ashton replied, "Let's find out." But as he began to walk back towards the battleground, Ashton noticed that everyone was following him. He threw up an arm, "No. I'm the only one who can see this. Trust me on this one." But Shadow replied, "Ash is my friend and Trainer. I must check on him." Ruby added, "I won't take no for an answer. I'm coming and you can't stop me." Ashton sighed, "Fine, but under no circumstances can the children come over. Got it?" Everyone nodded in agreement.

Ashton made his way back over to the battlefield with Ruby and Shadow in tow. The flames had almost died away and trekking through the trees was no trouble. But when Ashton came within sight of it, he froze. Shadow asked, "Why did you stop?" Ashton slowly walked forward, "What the devil happened here?" Shadow and Ruby stepped out of the forest and gasped at the sight before them. Titan's body was perfectly cleaved in half. Hawkeye's chest had been torn open and his heart removed. Silent Fang's body had been decapitated and his cranium crushed. It was then that Ruby noticed someone missing. "Wait a second... Where's Thanatos?" Shadow took a quick sniff of the air and gulped, "Everywhere." 

Littering the battlefield was Thanatos' bones, muscles, and various organs. Ashton walked over to one and shuddered, "All of these have been carefully removed so that every single muscle, bone and internal organ was separated. This muscle here is a bicep. This bone here is an entire ribcage. Here are the vertebrae. And this is both lungs." Ashton went on for a few more minutes identifying every piece of the Alpha male he could find. But Ruby then called out, "I found him!" Ashton and Shadow ran over to her and found her kneeling over Ash. Shadow quickly checked Ash's vital signs and breathed a sigh of relief. "He's fine. Just out cold."

Ashton looked back at the remains of the Blackflame Five as he hoisted Ash onto his back while trying to make sure the Flamberge would not hurt him. "Poor kid. No child should ever have to experience what he went through. But even though the Alpha male is dead, the rest of the clan may seek revenge. It is best that we escape Hoenn as soon as possible." But as they headed back to the rest of the group, Ashton reminded them, "Let's make our way through the forest to avoid passing by that area. The children don't need to see this. And don't tell Ash about what he did. No child needs to know about that." 

That night, Ash came to at the docks of Slateport City. "Wha...? How long was I out?" At this, Lucash and Sapphire jumped up to him. "Daddy, are you OK?!" Ash dropped down from his ancestor's back and embraced them, "Yeah, I'm fine....huh?! What happened to my clothes?! They're wrecked!" Chiara explained, "You got caught in the crossfire when Ashton dealt with the Blackflame Five." Ash nodded, "Hmmm, yeah. Those guys. But we're almost home free, right?" Brock nodded, "Yep. We purchased the tickets and are ready to board." But before taking his ticket, Ash turned to May and Max. "You guys coming?" May sadly shook her head, "Sorry. Max and I aren't ready to leave yet. But don't worry. The Blackflame clan isn't after us." Max nodded, "I know you can't come back to see us, but maybe we can come visit you sometime." Ash smiled, "That sounds great." He then reached out and gave May a hug. "I'm so proud of you, Ash. Make sure you become a father who everyone can look up to." 

Once they boarded the ferry to Kanto amidst Ashton's complaints about the ferry not having any sails, Ash noticed that they had one extra passenger. "Pearl? What're you doing here?" The Lucario ran up to him and embraced Ash. "Don't tell me to leave. There's nothing left for me in the Hoenn region! I'm sick of that place! Take me with you!" But before anyone could object or approve, Ash reached down to her face and made her look up at him. "I was actually about to run back down the gangplank and go looking for you. Of course you can come." The Lucario looked over at her sister out of the corner of her eye. Ruby showed her approval with a playful wink. Pearl tearfully embraced Ash, "Thank you..... Thank you for giving me another chance at life." 

Later that night, a search party arrived near the scene where the Blackflame Five had met their end. "Sir.....are these...?" A deeper voice replied, "Yes. It would seem that the Blackflame Five has been wiped out. Including the Alpha male." One of the other's spoke, "Good riddance. I was getting sick of having to go to war with every single clan for stupid reasons." Another voice spoke, "I guess this means you're in charge from now on, Beta male." The deeper voice spoke again, "You mean ALPHA male, don't you?" The voice chuckled, "Ah, yes. Forgive me." The deeper voice spoke again, "Everyone makes mistakes. Don't worry about it." But a voice asked, "But who or what could've done this? Taking out Titan, Hawkeye, and Silent Fang is one matter. But bringing down Thanatos is an entirely different challenge! You know the kind of power he wielded!" The new Alpha male replied, "Yes, and Pearl is missing too. But she could not have done this. This is also too barbaric for any Pokemon I've ever heard of. But that's not saying Thanatos did not deserve such a fate. I'll never understand why my father chose a monster like him to be next in line." He then spoke, "Let's return home. There are going to be some changes starting soon. And find as many surviving clans as possible. Tell them that Thanatos is dead. This is a new era of peace." But as his comrades made their way home, the new Alpha male looked to the sky and spoke, "Shadow, my son. I pray that you are doing well."

On the ferry to Kanto, Lucy took a shower as Ash and his family slept in bed. She brought a hand to her chest. "Those eyes...... Just like the ones in my dreams..... That fury. The willingness to attack even his family.... Ash. He's the same as me..." At that moment, a darker version of her voice spoke in her head, "And that is why you seem to be a perfect pair. You have so much in common, it's ridiculous." Lucy shook her head, "Not you again. I told you before; I won't do anything to hurt my friends." The darker voice replied, "But you want the power to protect them, do you not?" Lucy cried, "Not if it means risking their lives in the process!" The darker voice spoke again, "But what about him? The one with the same inner rage and power you have? You saw what he did to his ancestor. He could've taken an eye if he wanted to." Lucy then screamed, "LEAVE ME ALONE!!!" At that instant, she slipped on the wet floor and bumped her head. "Ow..... At least that stopped it." 

After her shower, Lucy walked over to Ash in bed and gazed down at him. She tenderly brought a hand to his face. She whispered, " are the best friend I have ever known. But like you, I have an inner darkness that I am afraid to reveal to anyone. Even you. But that doesn't mean you can't trust me. And to that, I have a request to ask of you." She climbed in bed and whispered into his ear, "If I ever become something I'm not supposed to be..... Something that shouldn't even exist..... I want you to save me. You're the only one I can trust about this. You're the only one with the power..... The determination..... The love..... You're the only one who has what it takes to save me should that ever happen. Please, promise me that you will always be there to save me." At this, Ash set his hand over hers and whispered in his sleep, "That's a promise, Lucy....." The Lucario tearfully whispered, "Thank you." She then pulled the covers over her and went to sleep.

At the bow, Ashton gazed out at sea. He could not get Ash's horrifying new form out of his head. "Ashton, it's very late. You should be in bed." Ashton turned and spoke, "I can't right now. I can't get him out of my head. You saw that face yourself, Chiara." The Lugia sighed, "I know. And I thought you could be scary when angered." Ashton explained, "The first time someone harnesses the power of the Eternal Flame is always the scariest. They have no idea of how to handle it and lose control. I'm really not surprised that he tried to kill me at that time." 

Chiara then asked, "You know, this is only the second time a human with the Eternal Flame inside him has discovered it. Should we refer to him as the Angel of the Eternal Flame as well?" Ashton surprised her with a stern frown, "No. That would be an insult to him. For one thing, an angel has wings while he does not. I am also called that because of my honorable demeanor. But he..... Ash is exactly the opposite. He makes his opponents suffer. He brings new meaning to the term 'savagery'. And he will even attempt to kill those who try to get between him and his prey. Even if they happen to be his friends or family." 

Ashton scowled, "He's no Angel. He is a Devil. The Devil of the Eternal Flame."

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