Scars of the Past
As the sun rose over Sinnoh, Rukaria awoke to the scent of breakfast being prepared. As she sat up, she found her new companions scattered around her, sleeping in sleeping bags or otherwise dozing. A voice asked, "Ready for a meal fit for a king?" Rukaria turned to face the campfire at the middle of the campsite and saw Zandria hard at work cooking up the first meal of the day. She was stirring a pot of oatmeal with honey and frying eggs and meat over the fire. Rukaria sniffed the air, "Mmmmm, that smells awesome." But the Zangoose smirked, "It'll taste even better. Would you mind waking the others?" Rukaria nodded and looked around, thinking of whom to wake first.
Rukaria's eyes fell upon Ash's sleeping bag. But as she got closer, she noticed that Ruby was in there with him, sleeping peacefully with her lover. But as she observed them for a moment, Rukaria snickered as a prank formed in her head. She looked around and found a stick. With the stick in hand, she snuck to the end of the sleeping bag and began gently poking the stick around where Ruby's legs were likely located. As she poked, Rukaria spoke quietly with a tone of urgency, "Ruby, wake up! A Spinarak crept into your sleeping bag!" The Lucario mumbled, "Huh...? What's a...Spinarak?" Rukaria paused before replying, "You really don't know? It's a spider-like Pokémon. And they have some nasty venom." Ruby then groggily mumbled, "That's nice.........wait..... Spider? Venom?! In the sleeping bag?!" She then began to squirm while kicking her legs with Rukaria giggling all the while, "GET IT OUT! SQUISH IT! STOMP IT! KICK...... Uh....." Ruby froze as she felt herself kick something that caused Ash to wake up with a sick look on his face while trying not scream. Ruby gulped, "Oh no....... Did I just....?" Finally, Ash could not keep his mouth shut any longer and let out a yell of agony, waking up everyone else in the campsite.
A minute later, Rukaria looked on while blue in the face as Ash was curled up in a ball, whimpering in pain. Ruby cried, "Oh man, I'm so sorry! I panicked when I felt a Spinarak crawling around in the sleeping bag! I didn't mean to kick you there!" Pearl then stepped forward and made Ash uncurl himself, "Poor baby.... Just be still for a minute." She then placed her hands upon the crotch of his pants as they were engulfed in a blue glow with her Aura. As the pain receded, Ash groaned, "Ruby..... There was a Spinarak in there?" When she nodded, Ash frowned, "Spinarak are Poison type Pokémon. Aren't you Steel types supposed to be unaffected by poisons and venom?" At this, Ruby's face became completely blank, "We're not...?" She then crawled over to the sleeping bag and sniffed around inside it. "Hey... I only notice two scents in here!" She then turned to Rukaria and growled, "Rukaria.... Did you....."
Having been cornered, Rukaria bowed her head, "I'm sorry! I only wanted to play a prank on you, but I didn't expect Ash to get hurt in the process..... Sorry..." Ash sighed, "The pain's gone and I'm hungry. If I get a full stomach, all's fine with me." Ruby snickered, "You're all too easy to please, dear." She then shrugged her shoulders, "Looks like he doesn't mind. After all, he's the one who got hurt, not me. Just be more careful with your jokes. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt." Rukaria giggled nervously, "Will do."
As everyone got started on breakfast, Rukaria began to ask Ashton more questions. "So, what is the Flamberge? Were you really raised by a Gardevoir and Gallade? How many times did you beat that Sir Garyson?" Ashton grumbled, "In order, a zweihander, yes, and.......a few hundred." Zandria then asked, "So, what's it like eating food prepared by someone with centuries of experience?" Rukaria smiled, "It's amazing! I had always wondered what the passionate Zangoose lover of the Vulcan Warrior's cooking was like! Now I can hardly wait for lunch and dinner!" The Zangoose snickered, "That famous, am I? Maybe I should start a cooking class."
As he munched on French toast, Ash was being carefully eyed by Ruby. Every several seconds, she would cast an uneasy gaze upon him. At one point, Lucash noticed and asked, "What's wrong, Mom? Something on Dad's face?" Ruby only smiled reassuringly, "Oh, I just think he looks quite handsome today. Can't keep my eyes off him." Lucash chuckled, "Yeah, he does look pretty cool with those torn clothes. Kinda like an action movie hero." Ruby snickered, "I never thought about it like that. But you're right!" As Lucash went back to enjoying his oatmeal with honey, Ruby looked back at her lover. But she soon frowned, (I truly love him..... But after what he tried to do... Does he really love me? Or does he even care...?)
A short while later, everyone had finished breakfast and were on their way north. Sapphire then asked, "Miss Kazeerah. How far is it to Jubilife City?" The Blaziken shrugged her shoulders, "I guess a good three days if we don't bump inta any problems and the weather stays fair." A moment later, Kazeerah snapped her fingers, "Right! There's a cozy lil inn somewhere down the road. We can crash there t'night!" Sapphire smiled, "A hotel?" Rukaria replied, "Not quite. Just an inn for travelers." But a moment later, Rukaria broke into a run as she sprinted ahead of the group and out of sight. Ash raised an eyebrow, "Huh? Where's she going?" Chiara smirked, "As most commoners say, 'When you gotta go, you gotta go'. At least I think that's the way it goes." Shadow then asked, "Should I keep an eye on her?" Ash shook his head, "Nah, she's fine."
A few minutes later, the group saw Rukaria standing in the middle of the path up ahead. But as they got closer, they noticed that she was leaning heavily on the Hyup Do like a walking stick, her stance shaky. Before anyone could speak up, she spoke, "About time you young whippersnappers got here. You have any idea how long you've kept me waiting? It's not polite to keep a lady waiting." Pearl gulped, "Why do you sound like an elderly woman? You seemed like a fine young lady a few minutes ago." Rukaria wobbled a bit, "A few minutes to you rascals is like several decades to me." Ash then shrugged his shoulders, "I knew you were old, but just how old are you?" Rukaria froze for a moment at this. A second later, she lashed out with the staff handle of the Hyup Do and brought it down on Ash's head. "Who's getting old?!" Ashton snickered as he shook his head, "Not wise, Ash. Never ask a woman her age."
As they continued on with Pearl riding on Ash's shoulders while tending to the lump on his head, Ash asked, "What was the deal with you acting like an old lady a minute ago?" Rukaria sighed, "You're right. I'm much older than I seem. So instead of feeling down, I try to add a little humor with it. Of course, I don't FEEL like an old hag, mind you." Lucy then asked, "At what age was it when you stopped aging?" Rukaria began to think back, "If I remember correctly....... My late teens. Maybe early twenties."
After another hour or so of walking, Ashton asked, "Rukaria, may I ask a request of you?" Her ears perked up, "A request? From you?!" Ashton backed away slowly, "Don't go crazy on me now. I just wish for you to demonstrate something." Rukaria's face was beaming, "Yes, please name it!" He nodded, "Would you please show us how you use.....um....." He pointed at her pole weapon, "What do you call that again?" She smiled, "It's a Hyup Do." The viscount nodded, "Ah, yes. That. As I was saying, would you care to give us a demonstration on how you wield it?" She nodded readily, "Of course!" She then turned to her companions, "Please give me some room. This weapon has an extensive reach." Everyone backed away until they were a good thirty feet from her. Rukaria then stood her weapon straight up while gripping it in her right hand. She then took a deep breath, "Been a while since I did this with an audience."
After gathering her focus, Rukaria raised her left hand with her arm stretched out. Suddenly, she pulled her arm back and raised her right hand with the Hyup Do in it. She then let the weapon fall to her left and into her left hand while taking a low stance, holding her weapon horizontally. She then stood straight up while sticking the blade out to her left. She then slowly moved the weapon to her right just before swinging it counterclockwise in a spin, making one full rotation and stopping as her stance became low yet again. As she rose, Rukaria spun the blade at the tip several times like a mixer. She then rose and held the Hyup Do horizontally with her right hand near the bottom of the hilt and her left near the top. She performed a wide swing that caused the blade to fly up as she gave a small jump, raising the Hyup Do over her head before bringing it down with an overhead swing, striking the ground. The instant she struck the ground, Rukaria spun to her right with a horizontal swing of her weapon and rotated twice before spinning her weapon up behind her, holding its hilt near the bottom while holding her weapon against her back, the blade above and behind her head with the momentum causing it to stick out over her outstretched left arm.
After taking no more than a second to regain her composure, Rukaria spun the Hyup Do counterclockwise twice before stopping it while it was pointing out to her left in both hands. She then twirled it around her body twice before stopping mid-swing and twirling the weapon clockwise in a circular motion, twice at waist level, then once at ground level as it swept the grass, and then followed up with an acrobatic sideways flip. She then lashed out with the tip of the Hyup Do's hilt before striking the same area with the blade. She then lastly spun the blade at the end like a mixer once more, before thrusting the weapon straight out while holding it perfectly lateral, holding onto just the tip of the handle. She then pulled it back and began to swing it around vertically at her sides at high speed before swinging it clockwise once with the weapon ending up behind her once again, only this time while Rukaria was standing on one foot with her other leg raised off the ground and her spare arm held horizontally for balance. Seeing that she had finished her demonstration by her cease in movement, everyone burst into applause.
Pearl smiled, "Magnificent! You really know how to use that weapon! I was actually a bit afraid to go anywhere near you." Rukaria grinned happily, "Well, I've had plenty of time to develop my skills." But as she looked around at her companions, Rukaria's eyes fell upon Ashton, who was applauding heartily. She smiled, "You...were pleased by my performance?" Ashton laughed, "More than pleased. I was quite impressed! You carry yourself well with that weapon and show a great deal of confidence. I seldom see that level of talent with a weapon of that size and length." Rukaria remained silent for a moment, but soon broke into tears, "I..... I've been praised by.....the Angel of the Eternal Flame?" The viscount gulped, "Oh boy, not again. Don't lose it now! I want none of that behavior!" Rukaria then wiped her tears away, "Sorry... It's been a long time since someone appreciated me like this."
Later that day, the group came across a modest little inn at the edge of the forest on the side of the road. Kazeerah pointed, "Here's the inn I was talkin' about. Now's a good time ta pack it in fer the night." Sapphire nodded, "I'm tired. What time is it anyway?" Shadow looked up at the sky and checked the position of the sun, which was quite low in the sky to the west. "It's getting fairly late by the look of things. Maybe we should stop here for the night." Ash nodded, "All right. We'll crash here tonight."
A short while later, everyone decided to take a dip in the heated baths in the back of the inn. On the women's side, Kazeerah grumbled, "Not hot enough. I'll fix that!" She sunk her wrists below the water's surface and let them flare, causing the temperature of the water to jump by several degrees. Lucy giggled, "Much better. Thanks, Kazeerah." The Blaziken rubbed her little sister's head, "Anytime, sis." A moment later, a voice called out from behind the lockers nearby, "Mommy?! Do I have to take off my clothes to come in?" Ruby replied, "I'm afraid so, dear. There are places where clothes will just get in the way. A bath is one of them." The voice spoke again, "All right... If you say so." A moment later, Sapphire stepped out into the open and slowly made her way into the hot tub. "Whoa... Pretty warm." However, Rukaria whispered, "Ruby, how old is your daughter?" The young mother giggled, "Just shy of one year. She evolved the day before we met you." Rukaria's pale eyes went wide, "That young?!" Ruby nodded, "Yep! She has grown well. Maybe too well."
As they soaked in the hot tub, the ladies chatted amongst themselves. While they chatted, Rukaria turned to Ruby and asked, "Ruby, may I ask something about Ash?" The Lucario mother nodded, "Go right ahead. What do you need to know?" Thinking back to when Ash asked her to keep his actions a secret between them, Rukaria thought out her question carefully. "Did something.......awful happen to Ash recently? Something that may have caused him to become depressed?" Ruby bowed her head with a frown for a moment before replying, "I don't want to talk about it..."
Rukaria, more curious than ever, begged, "Ruby..... I know it may be painful, but will you please tell me what happened?" The young mother sighed, ".....Fine. To be blunt, Ash did some horrible things when he was not in true control of himself. He thought he was a monster and tried to 'protect' us from him by destroying the closest 'threat' to his friends and family." Rukaria only stared at her with confused eyes. Seeing that she did not understand, Ruby sighed, "He tried to kill himself to protect us from him. There, I said it." Rukaria brought her hands to her chest, "I... I see....." However, Ruby shook her head, "No, it's fine. I got through to him at the last minute. He understands the truth now..... I hope....."
While Ruby and Rukaria chatted, Pearl turned to Lucy, "Enjoying yourself?" The Lucario maiden nodded, "Yes, very much." Pearl then slid over next to Lucy and looked down, comparing their breasts as they floated half submerged in the water. "You're not too busty, but you have a cute frame." Lucy blushed, "That's very kind of you." But Pearl then asked, "Have you ever considered getting breast implants? I'm sure you could stand to have yours a little more like mine." Pearl gave her own right breast a playful jiggle, causing the large mound to sway in the water a bit. Lucy nervously gazed at Pearl's chest for a moment before nervously replying, "Um...... I don't... I mean..... Well, while I do think that you and Ruby look very pretty with those.....large breasts; I...don't like the idea of ME having large breasts at all. I just don't." Pearl raised an eyebrow, "Are you serious? You don't mind spending the rest of your life with those little things?" She nodded, "Yeah... I'm perfectly fine with how I look, thank you."
As they soaked a while longer, Pearl sighed, "I wish they had mixed bathing. Wish Ash could come in here." Pearl blushed as she began to daydream. "Mmmmm..... A shame I'm not in heat yet. Wouldn't you like him to come in here and give you some love too, Lucy?" As she began to picture Pearl's words in her head, Lucy brought a hand to her mouth as she became a little green in the face. Pearl gasped, "Lucy, don't lose your lunch here! Easy now." After a moment, Lucy breathed deeply, "Phew... That was close." But Pearl grumbled, "What's wrong with you? First that shower, and now this? Why do you flip out every time you think of sex? Were you raped or something?" Lucy only bowed her head and quietly replied, "I'm not going to answer that....." Pearl saw Lucy's expression and reached out to her, "Oh... I'm sorry. Bad memories?" Lucy nodded, "Yeah... Don't ask, please..." Pearl sighed and gave the young maiden a hug, "OK, I won't ask. But if you ever need a man to soothe your old wounds, Ash is that man. Trust me. He did mine." Lucy looked towards Pearl with just a slight grin, "All right. If you speak from experience, I'll trust your judgment."
Later that night, Ruby lied awake in bed while Ash slept peacefully next to her. As she stared at the ceiling, her thoughts trailed back to the previous day. She then looked to her side at the boy she had fallen in love with. Even though she had gotten him to realize that he was not the monster he thought he was, doubt still lingered in her heart. With a heavy sigh, she climbed out of bed and grabbed a nearby blanket. She then lied upon the room's sofa and covered herself before quickly drifting off to sleep, away from the boy she loved.
To the north, the Skydiamond clan Oracle leaned against a tree in meditation. A voice spoke, "Oracle, any signs of the Angel of Doom?" The Oracle turned to face the Alpha female, "No. It would seem she still lies dormant." Tia nodded, "Good. With this strange twist of fate recently, I am somewhat uneasy." But after a moment, Tia asked, "Tell me. Have our scouts come across him yet?" The Oracle shook her head, "He has been very careful to hide his tracks after his banishment. He knows that he is an exile. And he knows what will happen if our scouts encounter him."
Tia looked to the starry sky and sighed, "I had been the Alpha for a fairly short time...... Was I being too lenient?" The Oracle replied, "Nonsense. You did your duty. He performed a vile act and was punished for it." But Tia shook her head, "Still..... With what he did, it could've caused her to be....." The Oracle frowned, "True. Few within our own clan know who exactly the Angel of Doom is. Even he was not aware." Tia bowed her head, "He's still out there. And if he crosses paths with her again, it may mean..." She then looked to the night sky once again, "Is banishment truly a fitting punishment for rape? Even if it was done with the clan's greater good in mind?"
A few days later, Ash and his companions finally arrived in Jubilife City. With the towering buildings and many people going about their business with smiles on their faces, it truly seemed to be a pleasant metropolis. Chiara smiled, "Welcome to Jubilife City, the city of joy."
Ash looked around, taking in the sights and sounds. "Looks like a cool place. I'm pretty sure I'll get outta this slump after a good night's sleep here." He then looked at Ruby, "How about we go grab some lunch?" But Ruby did not seem to hear him as she continued looking straight ahead. "Ruby, are you sick? You've been kinda quiet for the past few days." The young Lucario mother shook her head, "Huh? Oh, lunch? Sounds like a plan!" She gave her lover a reassuring smile. But Zandria grumbled, "Why go looking for lunch when I can whip something up?" Lucash licked his lips, "I'm with Dad. Let's try something else for a change of pace." Zandria smirked and turned her nose up while looking away, "Fine. But you'll be crawling back to me by suppertime begging for the good stuff. Mark my words!"
After looking around for a while, Ashton asked, "Where do you think would be a good place to purchase a new cape?" Chiara replied, "A new one? Whatever happened to your.....oh." She recalled when Soul Edge ripped it to shreds after Ashton had tossed his previous cape at him as a diversion. Kazeerah then asked, "What's the big deal? Why would ya need a cape?" Ashton replied, "Don't you know anything about traveler attire? A cape is a traveler's necessity. And I need a new one." Lucy then pointed down the street, "I've been here before. There should be a tailor somewhere near the TV station. It's that really tall building to the north with radio dishes on top." After a moment of scanning the horizon, Ashton saw the building that matched Lucy's description. "Ah, got it! All right, I'll rendezvous with you later." Without a second thought, Ashton took off towards the TV station. But as they walked into town, the group was unaware of a pair of red eyes watching them carefully. The owner of the eyes grumbled, "Can't follow them in there without drawing attention to myself..... Have to wait until they leave."
After reaching the TV station and asking around for directions, Ashton found himself standing outside the local tailor. When he stepped inside, he was greeted by a young woman with short blonde hair who spoke with a noticeable French accent. "Bonjour, monsieur! In the market for anything that speaks magnifique?" With a smile, the young viscount replied, "Why yes, miss. I am in need of a new cape." The tailor brought a hand to her chin, "A cape, mon ami? All capes are custom-tailored for the buyer. I shall have to craft a new one just for you, monsieur." She then stood behind him and tenderly placed her fingers on his shoulders, "Ooh la la, a cape would look tres bien on you! What color would you prefer?" Ashton grinned, "I have always had an eye for shades of blue. Does that work for you, miss? Oui oui?" The tailor smiled, "Oh, oui oui! Blue it is! Now, be still for a moment."
The tailor pulled out a tape measurer and measured the width of Ashton's shoulders and the length from his shoulders to his feet. She then cut a sheet of cerulean cloth and got to work with a sewing machine. Not much later, Ashton gazed at himself in a full-length mirror, his new cape draped across his back. The tailor looked over his shoulder, "Tres bien! Tres bien indeed! You look magnifique! A pleasure doing business with you, monsieur." Ashton nodded, "I am most grateful. And now for your payment." He then reached into the pouch on the back of his right hip and laid a few gold coins on a nearby counter. At the sight of the coins, the tailor spoke, "Sacrebleu! This currency is very much out-of-date!" But Ashton shook his finger, "Maybe so, but it is worth far more now than it was back then. A little gift from me to you for this fine garment you wove for me." Seeing the truth in his words, the tailor took the coins and smiled, "That they are, mon ami. Safe ventures, traveler. Should you need a new cape yet again, please return. Au revoir!" With a friendly handshake, Ashton went on his way. "Now the hard part..... Where am I going to find the others in this maze of steel and stone towers?"
Later that night, Lucash came knocking at Ash's hotel room. "Dad? Are you there?" Ash opened the door and smiled, "What's up, Lucash?" He frowned, "Is there something wrong with Mom? She's been really quiet today. Kinda creepy. And she always looks so..... I...can't describe it." Ash grabbed his son by the shoulders, "Is she all right?" Lucash then pointed down the hall to the stairs, "I saw her on the roof. She's just...looking out over the city." Ash paused for a moment before closing the door to his room behind him, "I'll go check on her. You and Sapphire get to bed." The Lucario child hugged his father, "OK. Be good to her, Dad. Good night." He then went a little further down the hall and stepped inside the room he was sharing with Sapphire. Once Lucash was out of sight, Ash walked towards the stairs, a terrible feeling of dread in his gut.
As he climbed the stairs to the roof, Ash began top sweat profusely. He knew something bad was about to happen. When he reached the top of the stairwell, he hesitantly reached for the doorknob. As he slowly turned it, Ash peeked through the gap. At first, he did not see anyone. But once he stepped outside, he saw the city of Jubilife all around him, the many buildings lit up with lights. The roof had a fence set up around the edges to prevent others from falling off. After glancing around for a second, he saw her. Ruby was standing at the southern edge of the roof, just gazing out over the rooftops.
"Ruby? Are you feeling all right?" Ash asked with a hint of uneasiness in his voice. Ruby did not respond to his question. Nervous, he slowly approached her. But when he was within ten paces from her, Ruby spoke, "Not another step." As instructed, Ash stopped dead in his tracks. He asked, "Ruby, you're freaking me out. Are you all right? I'm worried about you!" But the Lucario mother spoke with her back turned, "I wonder about that." Ash took a step back, "What're you talking about? I'm serious! Lucash told me about you and I came up here to check on you!" A moment passed before Ruby replied, "I don't believe you."
Ash could not believe what he heard. Ruby had always trusted him. "Ruby... What's wrong? I'm not lying when I say I'm worried about you. Did something happen?" She replied, "Yes. Something happened. Something terrible." Ash gulped, "What?" Ruby slowly turned to face him, "The boy who I thought loved me tried to hurt me and my children." Ash began to sweat as he spoke, "Ruby, I told you I'm sorry. I'm even over that now! I don't want to kill myself anymore!" But his Lucario lover shouted, "Maybe that's true, but for how much longer?! How do I know you won't try it again?!"
Ash tried to calm his lover down, "Ruby, quit it! You're scaring me....." But the young mother would not listen, "I know you can be dense at times, but I was sure you were not stupid. How could you not tell the difference between your actions and those of something that was not you?!" Ash could no longer speak as he listened to Ruby break down in tears. "I thought you loved me... And maybe you are over that mistake. But how can I be sure you won't try that again? I can't trust a man who would destroy himself because he thought he was a threat to his family when he really wasn't! I wouldn't even be surprised if you tried to get Rukaria to kill you when you first met her!" Ash was struggling to hold back tears as he asked, "Ruby..... What're you saying?" The Lucario growled with tears falling down her muzzle, "You still don't get it? Fine, I'll be blunt." She then shouted, "Get outta my face! I never want to see you again!"
As Ruby screamed her demands, Ash could barely believe what he heard. The woman he had fallen in love with had lost all faith in him. At that moment, he could not stop the tears from flowing. His vision blurred as his head pounded. Without a word, he turned and ran back down the stairs all the way down to the ground level and towards the entrance of the hotel. Just before he could reach it, Lucy came in with a soft drink cup in her hand. "Hm? Is something wrong...ACK!" Lucy yelped as Ash shoved her out of the way and bolted out the door. Narrowly stopping her drink cup from being knocked out of her hand, Lucy turned to call out to Ash only to find him gone. "What was that all about?" But as she was about to go about her business, Lucy felt a small drop of liquid on her hand. She licked it off, thinking it was some of her soda. But she was surprised to find that it tasted salty. "It's salty? Sea water? No......." She then looked back at the hotel's front door, "Tears."
Ash pushed his way through the crowds of people that blocked his way. He did not have a destination in mind. He could barely think at all with his mind clouded with remorse. By the time he stopped running and actually looked around him, he was a full mile out west of Jubilife City. He had no idea just how long he had been running, nor did he care. But he could not ignore the exhaustion his body was experiencing. Overcome with fatigue and sorrow, he collapsed and fell forward, weeping with his face buried in his arms. However, as he cried, Ash was not aware of the pair of red eyes looking down at him from a nearby tree. The owner of the eyes thought to himself, (Just him? Well, maybe this will work out.)
A moment passed before Ash stopped crying as he heard footsteps approaching him from the front. He slowly tilted his head up until he was looking ahead. A figure approached him in the darkness. "I've been watching you, boy. And I think you can help me out." A Lucario soon came into view. At first, Ash thought it was Shadow. But he soon dismissed that possibility as he did not recognize the voice. The Lucario was clearly male and did not have any unusual characteristics. Ash sighed, "Leave me alone... I just want to cry in peace." But the Lucario persisted, "Oh, but I insist. I need to ask you about someone you are currently travelling with." Ash just buried his face in his arms again without a word. The Lucario spoke, "I'm looking for someone from the Skydiamond clan. Young female, flat chest, right ear drooping forward. Sound familiar?" But as he heard the description, Ash remembered that Lucy claimed she was not on good terms with her clan. He soon slowly tilted his head up until he was staring at the Lucario, "You're looking for Lucy."
The Lucario from the Skydiamond clan nodded, "Yes, that's her name. Now tell me, where is she?" Ash's stare quickly turned into a wary glare, "Not yet. What do you want with her?" The male nodded, "Don't trust me, huh? Can't blame you. First impressions are important, and I haven't done anything to earn your trust. But I'll be honest; you'll be doing my clan a big favor by telling me where she is." But Ash slowly stood up, "Lucy is a very special friend to me. If you want me to tell you where she is, I need to know everything you know about her. And about you." The Lucario nodded, "I get it and I don't fault your logic. Very well. I was originally an outsider, but the Skydiamond clan took me in and I became a hunter of demons." He paused for a second before speaking his name, "Outcast. That is what I came to be called."
Ash stared at Outcast carefully, watching for any hostility. "OK, so you're called Outcast? So what does the Skydiamond clan want with Lucy, especially since she wants nothing to do with them?" At this, Outcast chuckled, "You know, that's the funny part. I don't know why they want her back so badly. All I know is that they've been searching for her and want to bring her back. So if I bring her back with me, they'll surely reward me and even allow me to return as well." Ash raised an eyebrow, "Let you return? Why? Were you kicked out or something?" Outcast frowned, "Exiled, to be precise." Ash gulped, "That's a pretty ugly word. What for?" Outcast snorted, "A leader gone soft, that's what."
Hearing Outcast's explanation, Ash asked, "Gone soft? In what way?" Outcast sighed, "You know that the Skydiamond clan's first priority is the hunting and elimination of demons, right?" Ash nodded in reply. "Well, our Alpha..... Actually, maybe it'll be better for me to start from the beginning. There was once a little maiden within the clan that had no combat skills whatsoever. And since it is practically required for all clan members to be able to fight, I took it upon myself to train her in the arts of combat." Ash replied, "You mean Lucy?" Outcast nodded, "Exactly. Our training went on for days, then weeks. And even after all that time, we never saw any results. Not even a simple Quick Attack. She truly started to look like a hopeless case."
Outcast continued, "Under the Alpha's orders, the training would likely have been put on hold. However, I know all too well that when it comes to protecting the world from evil monsters, you need to do whatever it takes to get the job done. So in order to try and bring out Lucy's fighting spirit, I had to resort to desperate measures." Ash gulped, "I don't like where this is going. What kinda measures are you talking about?" Outcast replied, "It occurred to me that nothing beats fear as a motivator for someone to fight back. So I decided to draw out her fear by threatening to perform one of the most horrible things you can do to someone in a woman's eyes." Ash thought this over, "Um..... And what's the worst thing you can do to a woman?" Outcast frowned, "One word. Rape."
Ash felt his blood chill at Outcast's claim. "Rape...? No... You didn't...!" Outcast replied, "The fool brought it on herself. Even with the threat of rape looming over her, she still did not fight back. So I was forced to go through with it. I had some of my other comrades pin her down as I violated her. Even with all that pain and humiliation, she still did not unleash her fighting spirit. Thinking that more pain would bring it out, I persuaded my comrades to do the same to her. And yet, even after all that effort and punishment, we got no results at all. I called it quits for the night. And that's when everything turned upside-down for me. That pitiful maiden disappeared and my comrades even went so far as to report their and my actions to the Alpha herself when their 'guilt' overwhelmed them. I am not proud of what I did, but it had to be done. But those fools charged me as a criminal and I was exiled for trying to help turn a helpless little maiden into a potent ally in our war against the dark evils of this world. I searched the Sinnoh region for years while evading the scouting parties of my clan. If I could find and bring her back to the Skydiamond clan, maybe then they would be willing to give a second look at my methods and see the errors of their ways. And then I found her traveling with you several days ago. And that brings us to this moment."
Ash clenched his fists in anger, "I can't believe what you did to her..... You're sick! Lucy is a sweet and loving girl! She never deserved to be raped!" Outcast sighed, "I wasn't expecting you to understand. We are possibly the only barrier between your kind and the monsters that would've likely brought this world to the brink of ruin long ago. And the best way to do it is to eliminate all demons as soon as they have been discovered and so on. Hesitation will only lead to tragedy. You'd do well to remember that. Now, I'll ask again. Where is Lucy?" Ash's only reply was a hateful glare, "I'm not telling you squat. Either you turn around and promise to never bother her again, or I will pulverize you!"
Outcast chuckled at Ash's threat, "Pulverize me? Kid, I like your spirit, but you're not making a very smart move. All members of the Skydiamond clan, including exiles, are hardened warriors that far surpass the average Lucario fighter. We are trained to fight and kill evil abominations that make kids like you hide under their beds at night. Now tell me where she is, or I might have to beat the info out of you." Ash growled, "Go ahead and try. You'll never get the answer from me! Lucy is precious to me, and I even promised to never let the Skydiamond clan touch her! You're not getting to her while I'm still standing!"
Outcast laughed, "Precious? Don't tell me the two of you are in love. Is she your mate or something?" Ash's glare turned into a conflicted gaze. He soon looked down and replied, "I...don't know. She's special to me.....but I'm not sure if I love her like that yet... I'm not sure if we'll ever become lovers or just stay friends, but....." He then glared back at Outcast and growled, "I'll never know the answer if you take her away from me! You're not taking her back! Got it?!"
As they argued, dark storm clouds had begun to gather in the night sky. Outcast shrugged his shoulders, "Fine, I won't ask for your help anymore if you're going to be stubborn. I'll just follow your scent back to her. Shouldn't be that hard." But as he started to walk towards him, Ash took a defiant stance with his hands curled into fists. The Trainer growled, "Didn't you hear anything I said? You're not getting to Lucy while I have anything to say about it!" By this time, Outcast's patience was starting to run low. He grumbled, "Look, kid. I don't want to resort to it, but I will kill you if it means securing that woman. I don't want to dirty my hands anymore than I already have, so stay out of my way." He then let out a growl, "OR ELSE."
Ash took a boxer's stance, "Talk all you want. I'm still not letting you take her away. If you're gonna fight, then bring it!" Outcast's only response to this was a stern glare as he stood perfectly still. But the next time Ash blinked, Outcast went sailing into him with a Mach Punch to the gut. Ash let out a groan as he gagged from the sudden blow. Outcast muttered, "Last warning. Stay out of my way, or you will perish." When he retracted his arm, Outcast walked past Ash as the boy dropped to his knees while gripping his belly in pain. "Oh man...... I didn't even see that happen....."
After taking a moment to catch his breath, Ash climbed to his feet, "I'm not.....done with you yet!" He then turned and ran towards the Lucario. But as he threw a punch at his head from behind, Outcast ducked the blow and tripped Ash up with a leg sweep to his feet. Causing Ash to fall forward and land on his face. As he recovered from his trip, Ash grumbled, "I got grass in my mouth......" But as Outcast walked by him, Ash reached out and grabbed his foot, "I told you..... You're not getting to Lucy as long as I have something to say about it!" Without a word, Outcast turned to face him and kicked Ash in the face, sending the Trainer flying back a short distance before landing once again on his face. "You truly are hopeless."
As he gripped his face in pain, Ash growled, "You're not....going anywhere near her!" At Ash's continued defiance, Outcast grumbled, "Kid, you can barely stand. What makes you think you can....... Wha.....what is this?!" As Outcast looked on, a veil of flames began to engulf Ash's body, taking on the silhouette of a Zangoose. The boy began to growl in a frightening manner, a pair of black claws extending from between his fingers on both hands. When he raised his head and glared at the Lucario, Outcast became tense as he saw that Ash's eyes were an intimidating shade of pink as they were now the eyes of a Zangoose, the markings under his eyes now bold with the left tip of the one under his left eye now extending up and over his eyelid and forehead. Outcast backed away as the host of the Eternal Flame climbed to his feet, "This overwhelming presence of malice..... Are you......a demon as well?!"
The Devil of the Eternal Flame glared at Outcast in the same manner as a predator cornering its prey. He bared his teeth angrily, fangs having grown in. The Lucario growled, "You.... You don't scare me! I have taken down my fair share of demonic entities before! You'll just be another one added to my list!" But instead of attacking, Ash's eyes went wide as he muttered, "Demon?" He then looked down at his hands, his black claws still extended. His eyes quivered in fright as he remembered watching his own hands lash out at Lucy and Ashton days before when the evil Soul Edge possessed him. He shuddered, "No...... I won't let that happen again! Calm down..... Stay calm..." Ash closed his eyes, tears beginning to trickle down his face as the memories flashed through his mind. Slowly, the veil of flames covering his body began to recede from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. His claws retracted into his hands as the Z-shaped markings under his eyes returned to normal. When he opened his eyes again, they were the familiar dark brown color that they had always been. "I won't...let that happen again... Not after that..."
Outcast stared at the human boy standing before him, wondering what had just transpired. "Kid..... What the hell was that?!" Ash weakly replied, "I don't know..... I don't even want to know..." But as he watched Ash pant in mental exhaustion, Outcast gulped, "That veil of flames..... Such a devilish form. This kid... There's no doubt in my mind that he is at least possessed, if not a demon himself. If I let this guy go....." He then took a defensive stance, "Any last words, beast?" Ash looked ahead at the Lucario, "Huh? Last words?" Outcast growled, "You're not normal, from what I just saw. Even in exile, I am a member of the Skydiamond clan of Sinnoh. Under the authority of the Alpha and the Oracle, I shall eliminate any and all unholy demons that walk the earth! Prepare yourself!" Seeing that Outcast was now on the offensive, Ash raised his fists in a boxer's defensive stance, "Fine. Bring it on!"
Outcast made the first move as he dashed towards Ash, his hand curled into a fist. As the Lucario lashed out, Ash threw up his left arm to block the blow. But his body was not meant to stand up to a Fighting type Pokémon's strength as he heard a sickening crack when Outcast struck his arm. Ash let out a shout of pain as the bone in his arm cracked under the strain of the impact. In retaliation, he lashed out with his right fist, aiming for Outcast's face. But the Lucario warrior easily ducked it and countered with a kick to Ash's gut. Struggling against the pain, Ash surprised his opponent with an elbow jab to the lower chest, causing him to stagger back as he was thrown off balance. "Gotcha this time!" Ash reached back with his right fist and punched Outcast in the face with as much force as he could muster. The Lucario winched at the blow, "Not bad for a human. But...what about this?!" At that instant, the Lucario warrior drove his fist into Ash's body with Counter, striking with double the force Ash had used against him. While he was stunned, Outcast blew Ash away with a potent Force Palm, sending the Trainer rolling across the ground.
As Ash struggled to climb to his feet, the storm clouds above began to pour rain as lightning raced across the sky. Outcast frowned as he watched his enemy regain his footing. Ash panted, "I won't...let you take her away..... Lucy is....my friend..." But Outcast rolled his eyes, "Don't kid yourself. What would that girl want with a monster like you?" At this, Ash roared as he made a dash for the Lucario with his right hand curled into a fist, "YOU'RE THE MONSTER AROUND HERE!!!" When he came within range, Ash lashed out at Outcast's face, failing to notice the glowing orb of Aura in his right hand. As he ducked the punch, Outcast reached back with his right hand before plunging the Aura Sphere into the left side of Ash's chest. The wave of Aura shot right through Ash's body like a laser without drawing blood. Ash's eyes went wide as he did not even know what hit him. A second after the Aura Sphere ran its course; he gagged as blood spurted from his mouth, splattering onto Outcast. Despite his injury, Ash still glared defiantly at his enemy. Completely fed up with Ash's stubbornness, Outcast kicked the Trainer away from him and into a tree. "You brought this fate upon yourself."
Ash stumbled to his feet as his vision began to blur. "What the..... What did you...?" Outcast replied, "That burst of my Aura ravaged your heart. You won't even last twenty minutes." Ash coughed up more blood as he felt his strength starting to leave him. "You..... I'm gonna...." The Lucario warrior turned his back as rain fell around him, "Another demon bites the dust. Now for that pitiful maiden." As Outcast walked away while staying under the trees, Ash tried to run after him. But he could not even remain standing as he fell backwards; collapsing at the base of the tree he had been thrown against. As his vision began to go black, he muttered, "Lucy..... I'm sorry....."
Lucy had been trying her best to follow Ash's scent through the crowds of people that blocked her way in Jubilife City. After a significant amount of delays and difficulty, she managed to reach the western border of the city and followed Ash's trail into a forested area. But as the rain came down, following the trail became much harder. "Not now... The rain will wash the trail away. Ash, where did you run off to?" But after a few more minutes of searching, Lucy froze as a new scent blew in on the wind. "This scent...... Oh god...... Not him!"
Glancing around her, Lucy noticed some movement in the distance as something approached her. "Who... Who's there?!" A voice replied, "Now there's a voice I haven't heard in a while. Have you forgotten me? The one who tried and failed to teach you how to fight against the demons of this world?" Lucy shuddered in terror as a Lucario came into view, his upper body covered in fresh blood here and there. Lucy took a step back, "Outcast....." He smiled, "So you do remember. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It's not easy to forget the person who took your virginity." Lucy held a hand to her mouth, trying to keep herself from vomiting as the horrific memories came flooding back to her, the male youths of the clan restraining her as Outcast loomed over her like a master preparing to flog his slave.
Lucy caught her breath, "Why..... Why are you here?!" But Outcast threw his hands up, "Not what you're thinking, that's for certain. While I am in exile, I still hold the clan's interests in high regard. I am here simply to bring you home. The Skydiamond clan has been searching for you for quite some time now." Lucy shook her head, "My answer to you is the same as my answer to all others who have tried to convince me to return. I am not going back and you can't change my mind." But Outcast insisted, "I'm afraid that's not for you to decide. You are direly needed back home, even if I am not aware of the details. If you won't do it for your clan, consider the rest of the world. You know the horrors we are sworn to destroy. Your absence from your clan may be endangering our future as the vanguard against demonic forces. Please reconsi...... Why are you looking at me like that?"
As a gust of wind blew from behind him, Lucy noticed a new scent as the wind carried Outcast's scent towards her. Her eyes went wide with fright. (That scent... It's him. But that blood on his fur... It's still wet... No. He didn't...!) Once again, Outcast demanded, "Why are you staring at me like that? I'm not here to rape you!" But Lucy asked, "That blood..... Whose is it?!" Outcast glanced down at the crimson liquid that was staining his fur, "I had forgotten all about that. Some human kid tried to interfere with my search for you, so I had to punish him." Lucy frowned, "You...... Ash deserves no such harm! He is my friend! You shouldn't have hurt him!" But Outcast snorted, "Oh please, that beast? I saw what he was hiding. He was a demon, just like all the others who have met their demise at the hands of the Skydiamond clan. But he at least had some control over his dormant malice. If he had at least stayed out of my way, I may have been willing to leave him be. However, I was forced to deal him the clan's judgment." Lucy gasped, "Judgment..... No!"
Outcast grumbled, "Cut it out. You know the fate of all evil monsters that walk the earth. I was simply performing my duties and put that scum out of his misery. It's his own fault for giving me reason to harm him." At this, Lucy screamed while trying to hold back her tears, "Where is he?! Tell me!" But the Lucario warrior shook his head, "Does it matter? If he isn't dead by now, he soon will be. I sent an Aura Sphere through his heart. There's no way he'll survive with that kind of injury. Just another demon put in his place."
Lucy could scarcely believe what her rapist had just told her. Ash was dead? "How could you....... He was.... He was my....." Tears began to fill her eyes, memories of her dear friend flowing through her mind. She remembered when he first stumbled across her by accident in Hoenn as she boiled ramen, then when he put his life in danger trying to lure the Blackflame Five away from her, and then the night he asked her to dance on the ferry as they left Lilycove City. So much had happened between them. And now he was gone. Lucy dropped to her knees as she sobbed, "You can't even begin to understand what he was to me...... He was my friend.....and you murdered him! Why?!" Lucy fell forward, collapsing on the ground as she wept loudly.
As her sorrow overwhelmed her, another emotion began to fill Lucy's mind that she had learned to fear. Rage. The more she thought about how much Ash really meant to her, the angrier she became. This man had once stolen her virginity. And now he had stolen one of the best friends she had ever known. Her mind became unstable as she craved revenge and retribution, but held herself back knowing that nothing good would come from such desires. But in the depths of her mind, a familiar voice spoke, "Why do you hesitate? Make this fool feel your agony!"
Lucy immediately recognized the darker tone of her own voice. "No... Even after all he has done, I shouldn't....." But the voice of her darkness growled, "Are you mad?! Raping you may have been forgivable, but now he has murdered someone most precious to you! He must suffer for this crime!" Lucy sobbed, "I know...... I know! Ash... He was my friend. And now..." But the dark voice scolded her, "How much longer are you going to lie to yourself? You know as well as I do that you loved him far more than a friend should." At this claim, Lucy shook her head, "Don't say that..... Humans and Pokémon could never....." At Lucy's continued display of denial, her darker voice shouted, "Enough of your lies! You have seen enough proof over the last several months! You loved him! You wanted him! But now....." Lucy remained silent for a moment before speaking, "But..... I don't deserve him like that...... He would never...feel that way about me....." However, the darker voice corrected her, "You are wrong. Did he not say it himself? That boy died trying to keep him away from you. To protect you. He died to keep you safe. He died FOR you. Do you truly believe a mere friend would die for someone he considered to be just a friend?"
As she listened to her darker half speak, Lucy began to accept the truth she had been trying to convince herself to be false. "He loved you. Possibly just as much as you longed for him. In time, he may have turned out to be your husband. Imagine it. The two of you walking down the aisle and swearing oaths." As she listened to her own voice speak, Lucy's mind began to wander. She could almost picture herself in a lovely white wedding gown. And standing next to her was Ash Ketchum, now a handsome young man and clad in a white tuxedo. As the two of them slowly began to lean towards each other for the kiss, Lucy felt a small smile creep across her face. But the darker tone of her voice spoke, "Only now, that possibility is gone. Forever." At those words, the picture in Lucy's mind shattered like a stained-glass window. She once again felt a terrible emptiness in her heart. The darker voice whispered, "He loved you, and you may have been destined to find love together. But now he is dead. And the one who murdered him stands before you." Lucy began to give into her sorrow and anger as the dark presence began to fill her. "What this man has done is unforgivable. For the boy you loved, the boy who gave his life for you, he must suffer!!!"
Outcast sighed as he watched Lucy weep before him, the rain soaking her. He grumbled, "A shame I didn't get to you sooner. You didn't deserve to befriend a monster like him. He was probably planning on slaughtering you for a meal anyway." But at this, Lucy growled in sorrow and anger, "No..... YOU are the monster here...." He looked down at her, noticing her Aura starting to billow around her. However, the blue coloration steadily turned a dark purple. "He was more than just my friend..... I loved him...... And I know he loved me..... But you..... YOU!" Outcast looked on in bewilderment as the blue fur on Lucy's body began to shift to a golden hue while the yellow fur covering her torso darkened into an almost black shade of blue. As her dark Aura surged around her, Lucy steadily climbed to her feet while Outcast slowly backed away from her with uncertainty.
As she regained her footing, Lucy glared ahead at Outcast; her red eyes now a frightening crimson hue as they continued to pour tears. He shuddered, "Such bloodlust..... Who the hell are you?!" Lucy replied, "I..... I am Lucy Hikari...... Ash was a.....very precious companion.... And now.....I will not allow his passing to be for nothing...." She then roared, "I......I will not let you get away with this heartless and senseless murder! I have forgiven you for what you did to me.... But this.... NEVER!!! You are a beast. And I....am your Doom."