AGNPH Stories

Rukario Romance by XD385


Family Fun

Ash looked himself in the mirror as he checked his outfit. It had been two months since he returned home from Hoenn and his 13th birthday was a day he greatly enjoyed. His mother had gotten him a new outfit to celebrate his journey to Sinnoh. However, he was still wearing his heavily damaged attire from his journey in Hoenn. He then tried on his previous hat, which was still undamaged. He then shook his head and placed it on a dresser. "I don't need it this time." He then left his bedroom and headed downstairs.

Once he was in the living room, Ash was greeted by Ruby. "So then, are you ready to head out for Sinnoh, dear?" Ash nodded, "You bet! I'm rested and ready for the road! But first, I need to make a phone call." He then went into the kitchen and picked up the phone before dialing the number to Brock's home in Pewter City. 

After a few rings, Ash heard the phone being answered. "Hello? This is Brock of the Pewter Gym." Ash replied, "Hey there, Brock!" The young Gym Leader laughed, "Oh, Ash! Haven't heard from you since your birthday! You doing good?" Ash nodded, "Yup! Anyway, we're almost ready to head out for Sinnoh! Are you coming?" Brock was silent for a moment before replying, "Sorry, Ash. I'm gonna sit this one out." 

Ash gasped, "You're not coming? Why?!" Brock replied, "I have something more important to... OK, that's enough, honey. I'm on the phone." Ash asked, "Uh...Brock? Who're you talking to?" Brock chuckled, "My girlfriend." Ash raised an eyebrow, "Wait... You actually found a girlfriend? Who is it?" Brock replied, "Her name is Lokoko." Ash grumbled, "Lokoko... Why does that name sound....." Ash then gulped, "Brock, have you forgotten?! Lokoko was just a mirage that was whipped up by that Ninetales back in Johto! She was never real!" Brock laughed, "I know that! That one may have been an illusion, but now I'm living with the REAL Lokoko." Ash asked, "Wait... So that mirage was an illusion of a real person?" Brock replied, "Well...kind of. Lokoko is the name of the very Ninetales who came up with that illusion." Ash then asked, "And how do you know this?" Brock smiled, "Because she's right here and told me herself." Ash then shouted, "She's there with you?!" A second later, a beautiful feminine voice spoke over the phone, "Hello, child. Are you still well?"

Ash gulped, "Is this.....the same Ninetales from that mansion?" She replied, "Yes. And as my dear mate just told you, I am Lokoko. Are you faring well since we parted ways?" Ash grumbled, "Now that you mention it, I did have a really bad case of indigestion after eating those leaves. How'd the heck did you make them taste so good? I could swear I was eating a big juicy piece of turkey!" Lokoko giggled, "You have my apologies. But I hope you do not mind too much that I am keeping your friend away." Ash replied, "Naw, it's no problem. It's not like I'm his boss or anything. But why did you come all the way from Johto to find him?" Lokoko sighed, "Because I love him. That is why I wanted him to stay with me when we first met."

Lokoko then spoke, "Yes? Of course, dear." A few seconds later, Brock's voice spoke, "You heard her. She came all this way to find me out of love and I couldn't bring myself to turn her away. After all, I'm not the only human guy to have a Pokémon fall in love with me. Right?" Ash blushed, "Ya got that right, Brocko. So you're staying home with Lokoko to catch up on lost time?" Brock replied, "That's part of the reason..." Ash then asked, "And what's the rest of it?" Brock sighed, "Ash... I... Lokoko and I want to start a family of our own."

Ash was speechless for a moment before speaking, "Brock... You're serious?" He replied, "I mean it. Lokoko requested that I get her pregnant. And I accepted. It's probably going to take some getting used to, but I'll make this relationship work. I've finally found true love, and I'm not gonna waste it." Ash smiled, "All right. I just know you'll make a great dad. And I'll respect your decision to stay home. We'll manage without you." Brock sighed, "Thanks, Ash. You're a good friend. And next time we meet, maybe we'll have our own little ones for your kids to play with." Ash grinned, "I'll hold you to that. See ya, and good luck, Brock." He then hung up the phone, proud that his friend had finally found what he desired most. 

Ash returned to the living room where the rest of his family was waiting. Lucash asked, "Is Mr. Brock coming?" Ash shook his head, "No. He's got some family matters to deal with, so he's staying home." Sapphire then cried, "But then who's gonna cook those yummy meals for us?!" Ash sighed, "Yeah... I was wondering that myself..." Just then, Shadow asked, "I'm sure we'll find a way to cope. So, are we ready to head out?" Just as he was about to reply, Ash remembered something. "Actually, not just yet. I need to check on something first." He then went to the front door, "I'll be right back." Ash then left the house and headed to the western border of Pallet Town. 

Ruby sighed, "So now we're heading to Sinnoh.... Wonder what it's like over there..." But she then looked over at Lucy, who seemed very worried. The young mother walked over to her 'sister' and took a seat next to her. "What's wrong? Don't you know? We're going to see your homeland. You're going home." But Lucy replied, "You don't understand. I was hoping I would never have to see that place again."

Pearl noticed her sister speaking with Lucy and walked over to them. "Don't want to go back? Why? Does it have something to do with your clan?" Ruby asked with a hint of concern in her voice. Lucy only silently nodded. Ruby then asked, "Is someone hunting for you?" Lucy did not show any sign of a response to this. But Pearl then spoke, "Hey, have you forgotten? You're not alone." She then set a hand on Lucy's shoulder, "Don't forget, you're like a sister to Ruby, which means you're my sister too. We'll make sure no one gets to you." Lucy gave Pearl a surprised glance, "Really?" Ruby smiled, "Count on it! Pearl was the most powerful woman in the Blackflame clan, and I'm no pushover either. If anyone wants to lay their hands on my little sis, they'll have to get through us first!" Lucy smiled, "I... Thank you." The two sisters then surprised her further by embracing her from both sides. Pearl grinned, "Atta girl. You're in good hands. Leave any threats to us." Lucy smiled, "OK. I know I'll be safe with friends like you."

After a while, Ash reached the forest at the edge of Pallet Town. After walking along it, he soon found the path that led through the forest. Not wanting to keep his family waiting for too long, he broke into a run. After a short jog, Ash found himself at the rusty iron gates of the Crimson estate. Quite noisily, he shoved the gates open and walked up to the heavy wooden door. He then used the brass knocker to clank on the door several times. A minute later, he smiled as the door was opened from the inside. But he soon took a step back in surprise. "What the..... James?!"

The former Team Rocket operative stood in the doorway while dressed in a fancy black suit, perhaps a tuxedo. He then spoke, "Good day, Master Ash. How may I help you?" Ash raised an eyebrow, "MASTER Ash?" James replied, "Ashton has instructed us to address all of his relatives with 'Master' or 'Mistress' if we feel the need to do so. I was just trying it out." Ash then laughed, "You know, that's the first time you ever called me by my real name!" James snickered, "That's because you're not our enemy anymore! Now then, what did you need?" Ash nodded, "Right, I wanted to see Ashton." James then led the boy inside and closed the door behind him. 

Once they were just outside Ashton's bedroom, James spoke, "Ashton is inside, as is Lady Chiara." He then turned and continued down the hall. Ash then gave the door a few knocks. He heard Ashton's voice reply, "You may enter." Ash then pushed the door open and found Ashton reading a book while Chiara seemed to be instructing Jessie on how to properly dust. The young woman was dressed in a black and white maid uniform. Ashton looked up from his book and smiled, "Ah, Ash. Welcome. Is there something I can help you with?" Ash replied, "Not really. I just wanted to ask you something. My family and I were getting ready to head out to the Sinnoh region. I wanted to ask you if you'd like to come." 

Ashton closed his book and stood up, "The Sinnoh region, you say?" Ash nodded, "Yep. But not right away. We were going to take a little vacation in Johto first before taking a ferry to Sinnoh." Ashton nodded, "A pleasure cruise? I do believe I will take you up on your offer. Chiara, what say you?" The midget Lugia turned and nodded, "It has been over a century since I last visited Sinnoh. I would gladly accompany you." Ashton smiled, "There you have it. Now then, when are we due to leave?" Ash replied, "Whenever you're ready." Ashton nodded, "I see. Return home and we will join you shortly." Ash smiled and ran down the hall to the front door.

Ashton spoke, "Jessie, please see Ash to the door." The maid nodded, "All right. Just as long as that Pikachu isn't with him." After Jessie left the room, Ashton swapped his shoes for durable traveling boots. He then retrieved the Flamberge from the wall and placed it on his back. He then reached into a nearby chest and pulled out a blue sword in a scabbard. "Seems we're going to be traveling for a while." The sword spoke, "I see. Then keep me at your side, as always." Ashton then hung the sword on the back of his hip, concealing it under his cape. He then turned to Chiara, "Shall we be going?" She bowed, "After you, dear." Once they were out in the hall, the two lovers passed James again. Ashton spoke, "James, Chiara and I will be gone for a while. You and the other two are in charge during our absence. Should you need to defend the estate, there are weapons within the armory." James bowed, "I see. We'll hold the fort while you're away, sir." Ashton smiled, "You have my thanks. And as always, do not bother with maintaining the courtyard aside from the tombstones. It's just not worth the trouble anymore." He then proceeded outside the manor with Chiara by his side. While Chiara took to the air, Ashton ran as swiftly as he could down the forest path.

Only minutes after returning to his house, Ash heard a knock at the door. When he answered it, he found Ashton and Chiara standing before him. "That was fast! Are you sure you got everything you need?" Ashton replied, "The only thing a knight needs while traveling is a weapon and his friends. I think I'm very well covered." Ash then turned back to the living room and called out, "OK then, let's get going!" At this, his friends and family began to shuffle out of the house. But before he could close the door, Ash heard his mother call, "Ash, one moment!" Delia then shoved the door open, "Why are you still wearing those old rags? What happened to the new outfit I got for you?" Ash pointed to the new backpack he was wearing, "Oh, it's all in here. We're not going to Sinnoh right away. I'll only put those on once I've officially started my Sinnoh League challenge." She then smiled, "I see. So you want to have a REALLY clean start. Just make sure you use clean underwear everyday." Ash grumbled as his family burst into laughter, "Mom, do we really need to go over this again?" 

Just then, Ash noticed that someone was missing. "Hey, where's Pikachu?" Delia then felt something grab her leg. When she looked down, she replied, "Oh, here he is!" Ash then saw Pikachu peeking out from behind his mother's leg while tightly gripping it. He called, "Whatcha waiting for? Let's go!" But Pikachu only gave him a worried stare. Just then, Sapphire called, "Come on, Pikachu! Let's go so we can have fun, like back in Hoenn!" But at Sapphire's words, Pikachu became somewhat blue in the face and he gave a pathetic whimper, "Piiiiika..." Ash grumbled, "I don't get it... Are you sick or something?" Just then, he felt something tap on his shoulder and turned to see Ruby looking up at him. "Ash, could I have a word with you in private?" He nodded and spoke, "Uh...excuse us for a minute." He then followed Ruby to the side of the house. 

Once they were alone, Ash asked, "So what's up?" Ruby frowned, "I think I know why Pikachu is so hesitant to come with us. It's about Sapphire." Ash gulped, "Oh boy, what'd she do?" Ruby laughed a little, "I've noticed her playing with him at times while we were in Hoenn. It seems that when she wants to play and you're too busy for her, she turns to Pikachu for a playmate. And most of the games she plays with him are a bit too.....girly for a male like him. I'm sure he wants some time without her for a while." Ash scratched his head, "I'm not sure if I like it. Pikachu and I have been together since I first became a Trainer. I know I still have Shadow and Aurora, but still..." He then remembered, "Oh, right. If I ever need him for a battle, I can call Professor Oak." He then nodded, "All right. If he really wants to relax at home for a while, I'll let him. I just hope Sapphire matures a little before we get back." Ruby giggled, "I'm sure he will appreciate that."

After coming back over to his family, Ash knelt down to Pikachu and whispered, "I know you want to stay away from Sapphire for a while. If you want, you can stay here with Mom until we get back." Pikachu gave him a grateful gaze and smiled. Ash patted his little friend on the head, "You be good for her." He then stood up and spoke, "Mom, I'm letting Pikachu stay home this time. Can you keep an eye on him?" Delia smiled, "If he wants to stay, I have nothing against it. I'll make sure the little sweetie stays comfortable." Ash then gave his mother a hug, "Thanks, Mom." She then looked ahead at Ashton. "Ashton, can I trust you to keep my little boy safe?" The viscount smiled, "You have my word. Ash is in good hands." With that, Ash and his family said their goodbyes before heading south towards the border of Pallet Town.

After a short walk, Ash and his family passed by a local convenience store when Lucash asked, "Daddy, why did you want to ask Mr. Brock to come along?" Ash replied, "He's really good at cooking. But since he can't come, I'm a little worried about how we're gonna feed ourselves while on the road." But as they passed the store, a voice replied, "Why bother asking an amateur to cook for you when I'm the best girl for the job?" Ashton froze, "That voice..... Zandria?" Ash smiled and turned to the owner of the voice, "Hi, Mom!" Leaning against the brick wall of the store was a familiar Zangoose. She smirked and looked over at them, "Told ya that I'd catch up to you. Sorry if it took me a few..." But Zandria's face suddenly turned to one of disbelief as she saw a familiar face mixed in with the crowd. (He wasn't lying after all...)

Ash soon noticed that Ashton was staring at Zandria while motionless. "Um...Ashton? Are you feeling...wha!" Ash yelped as the viscount shoved him aside as he broke into a run towards the Zangoose, who also made a dash for her long-lost lover. As they neared each other, Ashton dropped to a knee and held his hands out as Zandria sailed into his arms. The two tightly embraced each other in silence, daring not to let go. Pearl asked, "Who's she?" Chiara smiled, "That is Zandria, one of Ashton's eight lovers." Ashton whispered, "Where have you been for the last 500 years?" Zandria sobbed, "Gathering knowledge on culinary arts... But no dish could ever satisfy me like you could..." The two lovers then sealed lips, tears cascading down their faces.

Chiara walked over to her lover and 'sister' and rested a hand on their shoulders, "There now, there's no reason to weep." After a moment more, the two lovers stopped crying and slowly stood up. Zandria then looked over at Chiara and asked, "Hey. Eaten any good books lately?" The Lugia smirked, "Yes, but all the nutrition goes to my head." The two ladies then let out an aww as they embraced each other. Chiara smiled, "Good to see you after so long, Zandria." The Zangoose replied, "And you look as if you haven't aged a year since I last saw you. Have you been watching over Ashton during my absence?" Chiara blushed, "Only for the last five months or so. I did not know that Ashton had been revived until he summoned me."

Ash came over to Zandria and asked, "Did you find all you were looking for, Mom?" The Zangoose removed herself from Chiara's wings and nodded, "Sure did. Once I was done, I went out looking for you. I'm kinda embarrassed that it took me this long to find you." But Ashton asked, "Wait... You've already met?" Ash nodded, "We met back on Mt. Pyre in Hoenn." Zandria added, "It was from him that I learned you were revived, although I didn't expect you to be as succulent as I recalled." Ashton began to sweat, "Uh... Mind what you say in front of the children." Zandria purred, "Oh, don't worry. I'll behave."

As Zandria got caught up with the rest of the group, she asked, "So then, where you all going now?" Ash replied, "We're on our way to the Sinnoh region." Zandria grinned, "Sinnoh? Yeah, they've got some great cuisine there. Especially the seafood. You should stop by Canalave City. They have some awesome shellfish dishes. And then there's that restaurant near Lake Valor. I have to recommend everything on the menu. And then there's a little café just north of Solaceon Town....." Chiara then whispered to Ash, "Just a fair warning, but once she starts talking about food, it's not easy for her to stop." As the group listened to Zandria go on about Sinnoh's cuisine, they headed south to the shoreline with the intention of taking the same oversea shortcut they had used to get from Vermillion City to Pallet Town two months ago.

Later that evening, Ash and his family were on their way across the sea on a ferry. Ashton walked up to Ash on the stern's deck and asked, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you say we were going somewhere else before going to Sinnoh?" Ash nodded, "Yeah. I wanted to take my kids to a place for a 1-week vacation." Ashton smiled, "A little getaway? And where are we heading?" Ash replied, "Just a little to the southwest of Azalea Town. That's in Johto." Ashton brought a hand to his chin, "Johto...? Ah yes, the region where the kingdom of Clavice once resided. But where exactly are we going?" Ash replied, "It's a place called Altomare. I even have a few friends over there."

Ashton raised an eyebrow, "Altomare, you say? And what kind of place is it?" Ash smiled, "It's an awesome city that has canals instead of roads. There's all sorts of old art and architecture. Great food and music too." Ashton asked, "Canals? Roads paved with water?" Ash replied with a nod. Ashton then brought a hand to his chin and walked away, "Why does that description sound so familiar?" 

As the sun began to set a couple of hours later, Lucy stood at the bow of the ferry while watching the sun descending over the horizon. Just then, a voice asked, "Whatcha doing up here?" She turned around and saw Ash approaching her. She smiled, "Just watching the sun set over the ocean. I don't get this kind of opportunity very often." Ash nodded, "I see what you mean. Looks like the sun's just melting into the water." He then walked over to her and leaned against the railing as he watched the sun go down.

After a moment, Ash asked, "You're from Sinnoh, right?" Lucy silently nodded. Ash asked, "Did you come from a clan too?" Lucy nodded, "My clan is the Skydiamond clan." Ash grinned, "Skydiamond, huh? That sounds Are they tough?" Lucy nodded, "They have to be. Part of our warrior's duties involves hunting demons." Ash gulped, "Demons? As in REAL demons?" She nodded, "Yes, but the world usually doesn't know about such dangers because the clan hunts them down before they can cause great harm. Well...usually." 

Ash smiled, "I'll bet your clan will be happy to see you back home. I'm sure someone misses a nice girl like you." But Lucy sighed, "Ash..... I need to tell you something important that I want you to keep a secret." He looked at her with concern, "Sure, what's wrong?" Lucy frowned, "I am....what you might say...not on good terms with my clan. It would be in my best interest to never see them again. In fact, I was very hesitant to come with you to Sinnoh." 

Ash was silent for a moment before placing a hand on Lucy's opposite shoulder and pulling her close to him. "Lucy... I don't know what happened to you back there, but I won't let anyone hurt you. If your clan comes after you, I'll keep them away." Lucy looked up at Ash and asked, "Really?" He looked down at her and smiled, "That's a promise. You're my friend, so it's my duty to protect you." Lucy sighed as she embraced him, "Thank you..." Ash patted her on the head, "No problem. And before I forget, they're having music in the dance hall. You wanna have some fun?" Lucy giggled, "Only if you're my dance partner." The two friends then headed inside to enjoy the party for the evening.

A couple of days after leaving Vermillion City, the ferry docked at the port of Altomare. As they left the ferry, Sapphire smiled, "Wow, look at all this water! And those long skinny boats!" Chiara giggled, "Those are called 'gondolas'. They are the primary form of transportation here." Ruby smiled, "And you said you've been here before, Ash?" He nodded, "Sure have. Now let's find that hotel so we can...huh? Something wrong, Ashton?" The viscount was gazing back and forth at his surroundings with a mystified expression. "I feel as if I've taken a step back in time... The architecture here reminds me of my home." Zandria grinned, "Then you should feel right at home here." Ashton nodded, "That I should." 

After leaving the harbor and making their way along the streets, Ash and his family took some time to browse some vendors that were selling various glasswares. Ashton, Zandria, and Chiara had gone their separate ways to explore as they saw fit, with Zandria checking out the local restaurants while Chiara visited the local museum. Ashton simply wandered wherever he pleased as he took in the scenery. But as he examined some more glassware, Ash looked up and saw a familiar girl observing some jewelry several stalls down. When she stood straight up, Ash recognized her pink shoes, deep green socks, light green shirt, and her light brown hair styled like tall fluffy ears. He called out, "Hey, Bianca! Long time no see!" The girl looked to her left and quickly spotted Ash. But after a moment of observing him, she turned and ran. 

Ash gagged, "What the..." Ruby asked, "Do you know that girl?" He replied, "Yeah. She's an old friend. Her grandfather and she run a museum here." He then took off running after her, "Come on, Bianca! You know who I am!" Lucash shouted, "Dad, wait up!" He and his sister dashed after him. Shadow asked, "Should we follow them?" Ruby nodded, "Yeah, I think something's wrong here." The two of them, including Pearl and Lucy, ran after them while trying to not lose them in the winding paths that made up the city. But as they rounded a corner, Ashton happened to spot them. "Hm? What's the hurry?"

Ash followed Bianca for a short while before he seemed to lose her trail. "Aw man, where'd she g...ah?!" Ash yelped as someone grabbed him by the hand and pulled him along. "Bianca, what's wrong with you?! And where are you taking me?!" The girl did not reply as she yanked him along while still running. At one point, she led Ash under an arched fence of sorts that was covered with ivy. But as they reached the end, Ash yelled, "Wait, stop! We're gonna hit the wall!" But Bianca continued running without stopping as she seemed to be heading directly towards a stone wall in the shadows. As he closed his eyes and braced for the imminent impact, Ash was pulled through the wall as if nothing was there. 

A moment later, Ash slowly opened his eyes as he noticed that he was not being pulled along anymore and that he had not slammed into a hard surface. He then found himself in a familiar garden with many trees and ponds. "Oh..... I forgot about this place...heheheh..." He then noticed Bianca standing before him. "So...uh...hi. It's been a while, but I hope you haven't forgotten me." However, Bianca slowly walked towards him and placed a hand behind his head. "Um... what're you doing?" But Bianca's only response was a tender kiss as she closed her eyes while sealing lips with the boy. Ash began to sweat, (Again?) But he soon shivered as the kiss became more intimate as Bianca forced her tongue into Ash's mouth. Ash shuddered, (Oh man... I hope Ruby doesn't see this...)

Just outside the garden, Ruby and the rest of the Lucario and Riolu came to a dead end. Lucy asked, "Is this really where they went? But then how did they disappear?" Shadow then carefully sniffed the air and followed it to a wall in the shadows. "Strange... I can feel a faint breeze coming from this wall. But there's no opening..." But as he reached out to examine it, his hand passed right through it. "Is this....." He then walked right through it. Sapphire called out, "Wait for us, Mr. Shadow!" The Riolu ran right through the false wall, immediately followed by her family. Pearl gasped as she came through the wall, "Whoa..... Where's this?" They found themselves in a vast garden that seemed like a city park. But Ruby shouted, "Ash, are you here?!"

At the sound of a voice that she did not recognize, Bianca broke the kiss and looked around frantically. Ash wiped his mouth with his sleeve and called back, "I'm over here, Ruby!" A second later, Bianca backed away as a number of Lucario came into view. "Daddy! Don't run away like that!" Sapphire cried as she ran to him. "Hey, I'm sorry about that. But Bianca dragged me over here for something." He then faced Bianca and asked, "And why did you drag me over here anyway?" But the girl only remained silent as she warily eyed the Lucario standing next to Ash. "Huh? Are you scared of them? Don't be afraid. They're not dangerous." However, Bianca remained silent. At this, Ash grumbled, "What's wrong with you? I don't ever remember you being this shy or quiet." But it was then that Ash gave her a shocked gaze, "Wait... Are you....." Bianca nodded with a smile before being engulfed in a bright light. When the glow receded, Ash gasped, "Latias?!" 

The Eon Pokémon let out a high-pitched cry as she floated forward and tenderly nuzzled Ash. "Man, I should've seen right through that disguise!" He then turned to his family and smiled, "Looks like I was wrong. This is Latias. Like Bianca, she's an old friend of mine." Latias only continued to nuzzle Ash while cooing happily. Ash stroked her neck, "Easy there, I missed you too." Lucy smiled, "I think she likes you." Ash laughed, "Oh, I have a hunch it's a lot more than that!" Ruby then smirked, "And what's that supposed to mean?" Everyone let out a laugh at this.

On the other side of the false wall, Ashton was looking around. "There's nowhere else to go... Did they just vanish?" But as he closely examined the walls for anything like a switch or pressure panel, his hand passed right through one of the walls. "Hmm? There's an empty space? A genjutsu?" He then took a step back and made a hand sign before saying, "Release." But after a moment, he saw that there was no change in the wall's appearance. "Hmmm..... So it's not a genjutsu... But it is still an illusion." He then walked right through the illusion and found himself in a vast garden. Ashton then heard familiar voices and approached them. But when he saw his companions in the distance, he froze at the sight of a Latias cuddling with Ash. "A city where the roads are paved with water..." Ashton then slowly approached the group, his eyes fixed on Latias. 

As Ash and Latias caught up on lost time, Lucash turned and spoke, "Hi, Grandpa! How'd you find us?" Everyone else turned to face him. Shadow asked, "So you found that false wall? Any idea what it was?" But when Latias saw Ashton's face, she stood transfixed. She then slowly floated forward. Ash noticed and asked, "Latias? What's up?" Ashton and Latias continued to stare into each other's eyes as if they were peering into their very souls. To the shock of everyone, Latias spoke, "Father?" Ashton's face soon melted into a warm smile as tears began to form in his eyes. "Latias..... You've really grown..." 

Latias flew forward into Ashton's arms as she cried, "Father...! Father!!! I missed you so!" Ashton tenderly embraced her, "There's no need for tears, my child... Don't cry..." But Ash then asked, "Ashton...? Do you actually know her?" Once Latias had stopped crying, Ashton spoke, "Know her? She is my daughter." Everyone stood aghast. Ruby shouted, "Your daughter?! But...she looks so.....young! How long ago was she born?!" Ashton laughed, "You don't know?! Latias are immortal." But Ash then asked, "Wait..... Latias can talk?!" The Eon Pokémon turned to him, "I can talk? Oh yeah! I can talk! I guess I just forgot how to over the years!" Ashton then asked, "If that's so, how did you remember how to just now?" Latias blushed, "Um... I guess... I think I remembered because when I saw you, I remembered all the times I spoke to you." Ash laughed, "Well, you do have a cute voice." Latias blushed very deeply, "Thanks..." But just then, she flew over to him and took both of his hands between hers. "Ash, now that you're back, let's go on a date!"

Ash gave Latias a frightened gaze, "What...did you say?" She smiled, "Yeah! Just the two of us! We can ride the gondola, then a lovely candlelight dinner, and then we can kiss under the moonlight!" Ruby was too shocked to even object to what Latias was saying. Ashton then spoke up, "Latias, I don't think you..." But when she heard her father speak, Latias embraced Ash from behind and smiled, "I've got an even better idea! Daddy, can Ash and I get married?!" Ash completely lost it and shouted, "SAY WHAT?!" She smiled, "Come on, Daddy! Just like you and Mommy! I'll take really good care of him!" She then began to nuzzle Ash, "Just think Ash. We'll exchange vows at the altar, then go on our honeymoon, and then we can make babies!" Ash became very blue in the face as his family looked on in confusion and disbelief. Latias then looked at her father again and pleaded, "Pretty please, Daddy?! Can I marry him?!" 

After a moment of embarrassment, Ashton regained his composure and looked at Ash, who was frantically shaking his head with a terrified expression. Ashton then let out a sigh and spoke, "I really don't have anything against it, but I don't think that's legal." Latias let out a whine, "Awwwww, but why not?!" Ashton replied, "Because marriage between family members is forbidden in most cultures." Latias gave Ashton a shocked gaze, "Family members..... As in 'incest'?" Ashton nodded, "Yes. You are the daughter of Laura. But Ash is a descendant of Zandria, another one of my lovers. So that would technically make the two of you cousins." Latias muttered, "Aunt.....Zandria...?" Ashton nodded, "Yes. That makes Ash her grandson in a sense." 

Latias released her grip on Ash as she felt her heart break. Tears began to form in her eyes, "But him..." Ash looked back at Latias with a twinge of guilt in his heart. She muttered, "Why...? I only love him..." Latias then collapsed to the ground and buried her face in her arms, weeping bitterly. Ash then looked back over at Ruby, who seemed to understand Latias' feelings for Ash. Even though she had agreed to share him with Lucy and Pearl, there was nothing she could do about their blood ties. 

Ash sighed as he knelt next to Latias, "Hey, Latias....." The Eon Pokémon slowly gazed up at the boy she had fallen in love with. She then cried, "Don't look at me..... I'm a sick twisted girl who fell in love with one of my father's offspring..." But Ash raised her head with a hand, "Maybe it's not normal for cousins to fall in love with each other, but we are family, right?" Latias silently nodded. Ash then smiled, "Instead of cousins, how about we be siblings?" Latias gave Ash a surprised gaze, "Siblings? As and sister?" Ash nodded, "Yeah." Latias then quickly dried her tears and embraced Ash, "I love that idea! Now I have a little brother! And he's such a cutie too!" Ash chuckled, "Um...easy there, sis." She then looked over at Ashton, "Even though we're technically cousins, can Ash be my new little brother?" Ashton laughed as he raised his hands while shaking his head, "I don't see why not. Go on, have at it!" Latias squealed, "You're the best, Daddy!" She then squeezed Ash tightly, "Oooooh, you're the best little brother in the world!" Ash's family let out a burst of laughter as Ash blushed deeply.

After introductions were made, Latias floated over to her father and gave him a hug, "I still can't believe you're back, Daddy." Ashton smiled, "Truth is, I didn't expect this either." But as they hugged, Latias got a mischievous gleam in her eyes as she carefully reached for something under Ashton's cape. "Hm? What are you....HEY!" Before Ashton could stop her, Latias pulled away from Ashton with something in her hands. A voice spoke, "Lady Latias, unhand me!" But the Dragon type giggled, "Only if Daddy can catch me!" In her hands was a sword crafted from a beautiful blue metal. Ashton grumbled, "Latias, I'm not in the mood for this. Return Soul Calibur to me." But when he lunged for his daughter, she floated up out of his reach. "What's wrong?! Don't tell me you're out of shape, Daddy!" Latias then flew up and over the canopy of the trees in the garden and out of sight.

Ashton growled, "That little...... FINE!!!" He then growled as a pair of wings emerged from his back that were composed of flames that flickered in a rainbow of colors. He then took to the air and after his daughter. As Ashton flew out of sight, Pearl laughed, "Looks like Latias is a real handful for him!" But Ash spoke, "Hey... I know this is gonna sound crazy...but I..." Shadow asked, "What?" Ash finished, "I could swear I just heard that sword talk!" Lucy added, "I think I heard it too. There was another voice." But just then, a voice spoke from behind them, "Good ears. That sword did speak." When the group turned to face the voice, they found Zandria standing a short distance away. "I saw everything. Latias definitely inherited some of her mother's personality traits." Ash asked, "Then that means you saw her steal that sword?" Zandria chuckled, "Just like old times. Whenever Latias wanted to play and Ashton wasn't in the mood, she would take something valuable or expensive from him and refuse to give it back unless he caught her." Ash smirked, "I just hope he's not too rough on her."

Latias flew through the canals of Altomare just inches over the surface of the water while tightly clutching Soul Calibur to her chest. She looked over her shoulder and did not see Ashton anywhere behind her. But she then looked up and saw him coming straight down at her in a nosedive! "You'll have to do better than that, Papa!" Latias then gripped Soul Calibur's hilt in her mouth and tucked in her arms, making her form more streamlined. At that instant, she accelerated, causing Ashton to narrowly miss her. "Darn it! Hold still!" With a quick flap of his wings to stop his descent, Ashton took off after her. "Latias, I'm not in the mood for this! Return that sword NOW!!!" But Latias was just out of earshot and did not hear him. Ashton grumbled and flapped his wings hard to catch up. He followed her everywhere she went, making sharp turns with every fork in the canals and startling tourists that were riding gondolas as he zoomed by. 

After several minutes of pursuing his daughter, Ashton groaned, "What in the world am I doing? Latias is one of the fastest flyers in the world! There's no way I can catch up with her like this!" He then made a hand sign as his wings began to dissipate. "I'll just have to....." He then dropped into the canal below, but skimmed across the water as if he were on skis. "Now I've got her!" As soon as he regained his balance, Ashton took off running across the water as he focused his Chakra into his legs for enhanced performance. 

After a moment of not hearing her father yelling at her, Latias looked behind her again. But to her shock, she saw Ashton running atop the water. What was more, he was steadily gaining on her! "You'll never catch me, Papa!" Latias then looked ahead and focused on flying. Ashton grumbled, "Even at this speed, I'm only barely able to catch up..." At one point, Latias made a sharp turn down another canal. But Ashton could not change direction as quickly and ended up running along the wall of several buildings rather than slowing down. He then continued the chase atop the water's surface while dodging and weaving around various watercrafts that got in his way, spooking the passengers as they watched him pass by.

After several more minutes of pursuing his daughter, Ashton noticed a shadow descending over him and looked up. A voice called out, "Ashton, is that Latias you're chasing?!" He replied, "Indeed, it is! Seems she's been residing here for a long time!" Chiara flew down next to him as Ashton slowed down slightly so she would not fall behind. Chiara spoke, "Why are you pursuing her like this? Did she take something from you again?" The viscount nodded, "Yeah. She stole Soul Calibur from me. And she won't return it unless I can catch her." Chiara then smirked, "In that case, leave it to me. I once visited this city in the past and studied it thoroughly. I know these waterways like the back of my hand. You follow Latias for now." Ashton nodded, "All right then. I'm counting on you!" Ashton then followed Latias down another fork in the canals while Chiara took the other route.

After a while longer, Ashton began to wheeze, "I can't keep this up... Chiara, what are you planning...?" As if to answer his question, a geyser of water erupted from the canal ahead of Latias! The Eon Pokémon gasped, "Huh?! What's that?!" A second later, Chiara emerged from the geyser and drew her wings back before flapping them at Latias. At that instant, hurricane-force winds erupted from nowhere! Latias let out a shriek as she lost her grip on Soul Calibur. The light blade was sent flying backwards by the wind until it landed in Ashton's hand. He then adjusted his grip on it and returned it to its scabbard. 

As Latias caught her breath, she saw the midget Lugia floating in front of her. The Lugia shook a finger at her, "Naughty child. Aren't you a little too old for these games by now?" Latias gazed at the Lugia before her as she got the feeling that they had met before. Chiara then smiled, "I have to say you're just about as wild and unpredictable as your mother. I just hope your brother is a little more mature than you by now." It was then that Latias asked, "Aunt Chiara? Is that really you?" The Lugia nodded, "It has been too long, child." The young maiden flew up to her aunt and embraced her, "I missed you! I remember all those stories you used to tell me! And you still look so majestic!" Chiara patted her on the back, "I'm glad that you longed for me so. And I have thought fondly of our time in the past as well." But just then, Ashton cleared his throat as he stood behind Latias with his hands on his hips. Latias blushed as she turned around to face him. He glared at her with a very stern face. Latias bowed her head, "I'm sorry, Papa... I was just so happy to see you that I..... I just wanted to have some fun with you like we did so long ago..." Ashton let out a sigh as he walked over to her and set a hand on her shoulder, "Truth is.... I had a good time myself. It was quite fun to run through the canals at that speed, never stopping as you led me through the city." She glanced up at him, "Really? You're not mad?" He shook his head, "Not at all. But next time, don't get my attention by stealing something from me. Just ask and I'll spend as much time with you as you want." Latias then gave Ashton a quick kiss on the cheek, "OK! I promise!" Ashton then signaled for Chiara to allow him to board her. Once he was firmly seated on her back, Ashton asked, "Now then, would you mind leading us back to that garden? Chiara and I don't know the layout of this city as well as you do." Latias smiled, "OK! Just don't fall behind!" She then took to the air as Chiara followed the Eon Pokémon back to the secret garden of Altomare. 

A short while later, Latias and Chiara descended through the treetops of the secret garden and saw Shadow taking a swim, Ruby breastfeeding Lucash, and Ash pushing Sapphire on a familiar swing hanging from a tree. Zandria seemed to be speaking to Pearl and Lucy while resting on a stone bench. But when they saw the three land, everyone ran over to them. Ash asked, "Did you get that sword back?" Ashton nodded as he hopped off of Chiara, "Yes, thanks to Chiara." Just then, Zandria spoke, "You really are the spitting image of your mother, Latias. Well.....maybe most of the time." But Latias flew over to her and embraced her, "Aunt Zandria, you're back too!" The Zangoose rubbed her head, "Not even death can keep me away from my passions! Cooking and your father!" But just then, Ash asked, "Hey, Ashton. Before I forget, I want you to know that I'm pretty sure I heard that sword talk before Latias flew off with it." Ashton grinned, "That reminds me. I have some more introductions to make." He then grabbed something under his cape and pulled it out. "Everyone, I would like you to meet an old friend of mine. The spirit sword, Soul Calibur." 

Lucy gasped as sunlight shimmered along the blade. "That sword is such a beautiful shade of blue." At her compliment, a voice spoke, "Thank you." Everyone jumped a little at the sudden sound of a feminine voice with a sage-like tone. Ash nodded, "There it was again!" Ashton chuckled, "Do not be alarmed. Soul Calibur here has a soul of her own. In a sense, she is a living sword." Lucy nodded, "I see... You mentioned a 'Soul Calibur' two months ago at your home. So this is it?" Ashton nodded, "Indeed." He then held the sword out to Ash, "Would you care to hold her?" Ash smiled, "Sure!" He then took the sword in hand. "A pleasure to meet you, young master." Soul Calibur spoke. Ash gulped, "It's...pretty weird having a weapon talk to you." But Soul Calibur added, "You have a wonderful soul. Very kind and sympathetic." Ash blushed, "Uh...thanks?" 

After Ash returned Soul Calibur to Ashton, Latias asked, "Daddy, how's Mommy doing?" But Ashton frowned, "Your mother..... She is..." Chiara spoke up, "She died two weeks after your father. She starved herself to death." Latias sadly bowed her head, "Oh... I suppose that's fine. I wasn't ever expecting to meet her again..." But Ashton then asked, "And now that I think about it, where is your brother? Where is Latios?" Latias immediately looked away from her father. Before he could ask again, Ash spoke up, "Ashton... I think I should be the one to tell you this." Ashton could feel a tone of remorse in Ash's voice and feared the worst. Ash explained, "A little over a year ago when me and my friends came here to visit, something really bad happened and....... Latios...died saving Altomare."

Ashton's eyes went wide with horror. He muttered, "My gone...?" Latias silently nodded to confirm this. After a moment of silence, Ashton asked, "Where is his grave?" Latias looked towards the far end of the area and spoke, "I'll take you to him..." She then slowly floated towards the far side of the garden with her friends and family following her. 

After a short while of walking, Ashton and his companions stood atop a stone formation with a fountain at its base overlooking another pond. And near the edge was a stone pedestal with a crystalline orb resting upon it. Latias spoke, "That is the Soul Dew, the source of life in Altomare. My brother's soul sleeps within it." Ashton then slowly approached the pedestal as tears began to form in his eyes. When he stood before the Soul Dew, he gently set a hand on it, gazing into its ocean-blue color. He whispered, "Just one year..... If only I had met my end just one year before... I could've been there for you..... I could've.....saved you..." Tears then began to cascade down his face, "Forgive me..... I failed you..." But as he said those words, the Soul Dew began to glow. Lucash pointed, "What's going on?" Latias gasped, "Brother..." 

In Ashton's mind, a voice spoke, "Father... Don't blame yourself..." Ashton looked up in surprise, "Who's there?" He then found himself surrounded by absolute blackness. " I?" The voice spoke again, "Don't cry, Father... It pains me to see a hero such as yourself in tears..." A bright light began to shine before Ashton, forcing him to avert his eyes. When the light died down enough, Ashton looked towards it again. He froze, "My son..." Floating before him was Latios. He was translucent while giving off an ethereal presence. His bold red eyes gazed upon his father, "Dad... So you live once more?"

Ashton dropped to his knees, "Latios..... You are..." The Eon Pokémon spoke, his voice sounding like that of a boy in his early teens, "Father, I never thought I would see you again in this world. Is Aunt Aurora and Chiara faring well?" Ashton nodded, "Yes, they are well. And Zandria continues to linger in this world as well as she strives to improve her cooking skills." Latios chuckled, "Aunt Zandria as well? I really miss her cooking. A shame that I lack a stomach now." Ashton then bowed his head, "It's my fault that such a fate befell you... I shouldn't even be in your presence..."

Latios floated down to his father, "Look at me. Do my eyes show hatred?" Ashton looked reluctantly into the eyes of his son. To his surprise, he saw no contempt. Only a deep longing. Latios spoke, "My fate was never your doing. I willing gave up my life to protect my sister and the people of this city. Just like you almost did in the Far East long ago." Ashton then began to sob, "I swear... I'll find a way to remedy this... I'll find a way to bring you back..." But Latios threw his arms around his father. Despite being ghostly in appearance, Ashton could still feel his son's feathers against his flesh. "I know of the Eternal Flame within me. In 500 years or so, I will return to the world of the living. You don't have to do anything for me now, Father." Before Ashton could object, Latios pleaded, "Father, promise me you will not squander your life searching for a way to revive me. Only do so if the opportunity presents itself." Ashton then embraced his son, "I... I will honor your wish..." His son whispered, "I love you, Father..." Ashton whispered, "I love you, my son..." 

Latios spoke, "If you ever wish to speak to me again, simply come to this place. I'll always be here." Ashton nodded, "I'll remember that..." But just then, the voice of Ash shouted, "Ashton, what's wrong?! Are you OK?! We're going back to the hotel!" Ashton turned around and, despite seeing nothing but blackness, replied, "Go on ahead without me. I'll catch up later." Latios asked, "Aren't you going with them?" Ashton smiled, "Not yet. I want to spend some time with you. I have over 500 years of catching up to do with you, after all." Latios grinned, "Has it really been that long? Time seems to stand still when you don't age!" As Ashton and Latios laughed together, Ash and his friends and family left the garden. In their eyes, it seemed that Ashton was merely kneeling while embracing air and talking to himself. Ash asked, "What do you think he was doing?" Latias smiled with a tear in her eye, "He was speaking with my brother."

That night, Ash fell asleep with Ruby beside him. But as he drifted into a dream state, Ash found himself in what seemed to be an inferno with bright orange flames all around him. Everything seemed to be blurred. But he soon heard the sound of battle and death screams and turned to face the direction they were coming from. He could see six figures of sorts moving while five of them seemed to be focusing on the sixth. One by one, five of the figures fell and did not arise. The lone figure that remained standing seemed to have its back turned. But it then slowly turned and looked at Ash over its shoulder. While everything else was blurred, the eye that was glaring at him was terribly clear. A vivid pink eye that was filled with wrath. At the sight of this creature, Ash awoke in a cold sweat. He looked around and found that he was back in his hotel room with Ruby by his side. After calming down a bit, Ash went back to sleep. This time, the nightmare did not return.

Over the course of their vacation in Altomare, Ash and his family visited many sights and tried many foods. And on one occasion, he even took a gondola ride with Latias as they spent the day together as siblings. But with every night, Ash experienced the same nightmare all over again. And with every night, the dream became more and more clear. On the sixth night in Altomare, Ash saw something that would haunt him forever.

Ash found himself once again surrounded by an inferno. But this time, he could make out the many trees that were burning around him. He then turned to face the direction where he always saw the six figures fighting. And he felt his blood chill when he saw them. He instantly recognized five of them. Each of them was a Lucario. They were Ruby, Pearl, Shadow, Lucash, and Lucy. The sixth figure was a creature that seemed to be engulfed in flames. Ash felt his pulse quicken as he watched the creature of flame strike down his family and friends one by one, their blood spraying as its claws tore through their flesh. After the last of them fell, Ash waited for the creature to turn and face him. And soon, it did just that. But Ash felt tears begin to fall from his eyes as he saw the face. The eyes were no different from before. But the face of the creature beneath the layer of flames.....was his own. He was staring at himself. His eyes were filled with rage while his face was eerily emotionless. Ash's mind became hazy as he realized that he had just watched himself murder five of his most precious companions. 

Ash awoke with his face soaked in tears. He looked around frantically and found that he was still in bed and that Ruby was sound asleep next to him. He gazed down at her for a moment before placing a tender kiss on her cheek. "Stay safe..." he whispered as he began to hurriedly put on his torn and ragged clothes. He knew what the dream was. It was a warning. He knew that there was something wrong with him. And in time, he would slaughter everyone he held dear to him. Ash then quietly snuck out of the hotel room and ran down the hall, leaving behind his backpack, Poké Balls, and all of his supplies. 

Ash left the hotel in a panic and ran down the street, relieved to find that there was no one around. He then made his way to the harbor. But much to his surprise, he found absolutely no one there. And much to his dismay, there was not even a single ferry docked. He groaned, "Oh man..... I need to get outta here!" But just then, a voice spoke from behind him, "What's wrong, little brother? Why are you over here?" Ash turned and saw Latias floating behind him.

Trying to avoid suspicion, Ash replied, "I was...uh...looking for a ferry back to the mainland." Latias giggled, "That's too bad. The ferries don't run this late. It's almost midnight, you know." Ash let out a groan, "You've gotta be kidding me....." But just then, he had an idea. "Latias, could you do me a favor?" She smiled, "Anything for you, Ash!" He smiled, "Could you give me a lift to the mainland?" Latias raised an eyebrow, "Why? Shouldn't you leave with everyone else?" Ash frowned, "Latias, I'm going to be totally honest with you. I...can't tell you why I need to leave right now." Latias gave Ash a concerned gaze, "Why?" But Ash pleaded, "Please. I need you to trust me. I need to leave Altomare NOW." 

Latias was silent for a moment, but replied, "I'll take you, but only if I can tell them where you're going." Ash replied, "If they really want to know..... Tell them I'm going to Sinnoh." Latias nodded, "All right. Then I guess I'll take you." She then floated over to him and turned around. "You better hold on tight. I'm not as big as Latios." Ash nodded and climbed on. It was a bit of a tight fit, but Ash was able to steady himself by tightly wrapping his arms around the base of her neck. "OK then. Hold on tight." Latias then levitated over the city's rooftops and began to fly northeast. 

After around half an hour of flight, Latias dropped Ash off at the shoreline of the Johto mainland. Once Latias left for Altomare, Ash began to head north, knowing that there was a harbor in Goldenrod City. But before he began the long walk to the city, he gave one last look towards the southwest and whispered, "I'm sorry, Ruby..."

After a short while of walking through the Ilex Forest, Ash began to grow weary and disoriented as voices began to echo in his head. He brought a hand to his head, "Shut up..... Where are these voices coming from...?" A trio of voices began to speak nonstop, spouting random sentences that seemed dark in nature. "Massacre! I'll burn you alive! Taste fear! There' turning back. Drown in the cesspool of darkness! You conceited wretched human!" Ash began to grip his head as the voices continued shouting in his mind. "Enough already! I don't want to hear anymore!" At his command, the voices came to a stop. But a moment later, Ash thought he heard one of the voices speak someone's name. "Huh? Me?" The voice then spoke again, seething with malice. "You will pay.....for what you've done..." Ash began to feel a sense of panic, "What're you talking about?! What did I do?!" It continued speaking, "You will never run away from your sin! You have no right to live! It is a sin for you to be alive!" 

Ash dropped to his knees while gripping his head as tears began to pour from his eyes. "No... I haven't done anything! You're wrong!" But the voice did not cease. As it continued to scold Ash, visions from his nightmare began to flash through his mind, the face of his rage-blinded self still fresh in his memory. "No... That was just a dream! I didn't kill anyone!" But the voice roared, "You will never run away from your sin! In the end, you will give in to despair!" By then, a cloak of flames began to enshroud Ash. He began to sob as he dug his fingers into the ground, "I'm not a monster.... I'm not a killer... I'm not!!!" As the flames encompassed his body, Ash let out an inhuman scream as a pillar of flames shot through the canopy of the forest.

As he lay collapsed upon the ground, the flames that encompassed Ash's body began to take on a beastly form. The flames atop his head extended and resembled ears. A trail of flames extended from the base of his spine and took on the form of a long and bushy tail. Ash sobbed as he struggled to his knees, his breathing labored. He then looked straight ahead at the forest path to Goldenrod City. His eyes were now a frightening shade of pink and no longer looked human. The Z-shaped markings under his eyes were now bolder while one end of the one on the left side of his face extended up over his eyelid and forehead.

In a voice wracked with pain and desperation, Ash growled, "Must...get to...Sinnoh....."

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