AGNPH Stories

Rukario Romance by XD385


The Aura Connection

"Are we almost there yet?" Lucash asked for the twentieth time. Nearly everyone present replied, "NO!" After nearly twenty days, Ash and his friends and family had returned to the Kanto region by ferry. After docking in Cerulean City, they were now heading west in the hopes of reaching the city of Rota to attend the annual 'Hero of the Year' festival. Ash constantly paid special attention to Pearl, who was still silently mourning the loss of her newborn daughter. While still believing that she was cursed for her involvement in the genocide of the Lucario clans of the Hoenn region, she would occasionally clutch the Oval Stone that was hanging from her neck like a pendant, as if hoping that salvation and atonement was not beyond her reach. 

Ash constantly held Pearl's hand, showing her that she was not alone in her sorrow. "Hey, could we take a break soon?" Ash asked, wanting Pearl to rest whenever convenient for their companions. Everyone agreed and they set up a temporary campsite. To help pass the time, Zandria made sandwiches to feed her friends and family while they rested. While they waited, Ash inched towards Ashton to have a discussion in private. "Ashton, you got a minute?" He whispered, trying to avoid anyone hearing him. The viscount nodded, "Absolutely. What do you need?" However, the Trainer sighed, "It's about Hope..."

Ashton glanced over at Pearl, hoping she did not overhear Ash speaking the name of her deceased daughter. Upon seeing that their companions were oblivious to their discussion, Ashton whispered, "What about her?" Ash sighed, "I...heard from Shadow about when you met with Ho-Oh. Something about...having the power of resurrection in your hands?" The viscount glanced down at his hands, able to still feel Ho-Oh's strength resting within them. "Yes... Are you wondering why I did not try to use one of them to revive your child?" Ash silently nodded, "You took the words right out of my mouth." 

Remembering Ho-Oh's words, Ashton sighed to himself. Within his hands rested two doses of the phoenix's life-restoring power. When used on a corpse, the dead would return to life. However, the viscount sighed. "Birth is a mysterious process. Even though the child sometimes moves within the womb on its own, it is not until it completely emerges from the mother's body that it springs to life. Before that moment, the child is as lifeless and still as a corpse." He then curled his hand into a fist. "To be honest, I am not certain if it would've had any effect. If the child was truly dead before birth, then it was never alive to begin with. Even Ho-Oh can't revive something that has always been as inanimate as a stone."

Listening to his ancestor explain, Ash asked, "But... What if Hope was alive from the start? If she died before being born, shouldn't the Eternal Flame inside her have revived her?" Ashton nodded, "If that is the case, then yes. She would have been revived for certain to pristine form. But.... She may have died again... And the Eternal Flame can only revive its host once every lifetime. But even if I could revive her..." Ash frowned, "Then... Why didn't you?" Ashton solemnly bowed his head, "Pearl insisted that I do not..."

Ash lightly gasped, never expecting Pearl to refuse Ashton's aid in reviving their daughter. "But why? That's not like her. Pearl was looking forward to becoming a mom. Why would she want her child to stay dead?" Ashton explained, "She believes that if her child is revived, it will die shortly afterwards. It seems she is taking this 'Blackflame Curse' business quite seriously." Ash shook his head as he whispered to himself, "Pearl..... You're not the same person from back then... You've changed for the better. Please understand that someday... For me. And for Hope..."

Days went by as Ash and his companions made their way to the west, nearing the foot of Mt. Moon. Lucius fumbled with a map he had acquired of the Kanto region as Ash's Pokétch only had map data of the Sinnoh region at the time and could not provide any directions to their current destination. "Any idea if we should go through or around this place?" Ruby asked, slightly impatient with Lucius' poor folding of the map. "Um... Just a second... According to this map, we'll have an easier time if we pass through the mountain and take the first path on the right we see afterwards. Anything we should be on the lookout for?" Ash replied, "Aside from an eccentric scientist named Seymour and the occasional Zubat, we've got almost nothing to worry about." Sapphire then asked, "Seymour? Who's that? And is there anything else weird about this place?" Her father shrugged his shoulders, "Well, we might see some Clefairy skipping around. Maybe even a few Clefable or Cleffa. But don't bother them. I was told that the ones who live here should be left alone." 

Upon entering the tunnel within Mt. Moon, the group found that trails of light bulbs still hung from the ceiling. The only differences from the previous visit were that there were much fewer as they had been placed much farther apart from each other. They were also of a lower output, being dimmer as to not disturb the nocturnal Pokémon native to the mountain tunnels and to not give off as much heat. All the while, Ash stayed alert for the presence of Seymour, the scientist that helped him discover Team Rocket's operation there over two years earlier. However, despite claiming to have decided to live on Mt. Moon with the Clefairy, Seymour the scientist was nowhere to be found. During the trek, Ash entertained his companions by telling them about his escapades in the tunnels that day. But despite coming across an occasional Clefairy skipping merrily along, Pearl remained silent with a solemn expression on her face. 

After traveling through the Mt. Moon interior for a few hours, the group emerged through the western entrance. Rukaria then asked, "Where to now, Lucius?" The cloaked Shiny Lucario fumbled with the map for a moment before replying, "Just northwest from here. It should take us a few days if the terrain isn't too rough." Ashton breathed a faint sigh of relief, "Good... I don't want to have to pass through Slatis. Those earthquakes are a nuisance..." Everyone present turned and faced the viscount. "Earthquakes...? Seriously?!" Lucy asked, having not expected the Kanto region to suffer from any significant natural disasters. But Shadow then asked, "Wait a second.... Where exactly IS this 'Slatis'? I've never heard of a town called that." Chiara sighed, "That's because the town has long since been renamed. It is referred to today as Pewter City. What is more, the tectonic shifts around the area have long since stabilized, bringing an end to the many natural disasters that occurred there." Ash laughed, "Earthquakes? Seriously, Ashton. Get with the times! I'm sure Brock's family wouldn't have settled down there if it were dangerous!" Ashton looked away shyly, "You have a point there, Ash..." 

Days passed as Ash and his friends and family trekked towards Rota, the path being almost constantly uphill. After four days of exhausting hiking, they reached the gates of the ancient city. "Can't...take another....step..." Sapphire dropped to her knees, overwhelmed from the difficult journey, despite taking less than a week to reach their destination. Pearl panted, "Same here... Let's just find a place to stay and call it a day..." Only Ashton, Chiara, and Zandria seemed to be only mildly tired from the trek. Lucash groaned, "What gives, Grandpa?! Why are you, Aunt Chiara and Grandma OK while we're beat?!" Chiara giggled, "I confess that I levitated myself at times when the terrain became exceptionally tough." Zandria smirked, "I'm just a specter. I'm not tired because my body technically isn't alive to begin with. Though I guess I should take it easy at times for the sake of my kid..." She gently caressed her swollen belly, now almost halfway through her pregnancy. Shadow then asked, "And what about you, Ashton?" The viscount chuckled, "I've had to journey miles between towns, sometimes while clad in full suits of plate armor with a layer of chainmail underneath. This walk was nothing compared to those endeavors!" Some of the others stared at him with dumbfounded expressions, clearly not expecting such a response. Ash gulped, "Wow... Uh... Sorry we asked." 

The group shuffled into Rota slowly, taking their time to recover from their long trek. But upon taking a look around, Ashton froze in bewilderment. Compared to the other cities in the Kanto region, Rota looked far less modern. The architecture was reminiscent of the medieval towns that Ashton was so familiar with, giving him the impression that he was now 500 years in the past. "I need to remember what year this is. I feel as if Garyson will pat me on the shoulder any second now..." Ashton muttered as he shuffled about, feeling extremely nostalgic. 

Mere minutes after arrival, Ash began to look around in confusion. "Kinda quiet for a festival." Rukaria asked, "Are you sure we came here at the right time?" Ashton replied, "I suppose we could always ask." The viscount then proceeded over to an outdoor deli and spoke to the clerk. "Pardon me, my good sir. Is there a festival happening soon?" The clerk replied as he tweaked his mustache, "You mean the Hero of the Year festival? I'm afraid you missed it. Happened a few months ago. Won't happen again until next year." 

At the words of the deli's clerk, Ash felt a chill run down his spine. One by one, his friends and family glared at him with annoyed or outright angry gazes. "Er... Uh.... Heheheh... I guess I lost track of time more than I thought..." But Ruby cracked her knuckles, "Not good enough, hun. We walked for miles through rugged mountainous terrain to see this festival, and it happened months ago?!" Sapphire frowned, "Go on, Mommy. Daddy needs a spanking." In fear of his companions ganging up on him, Ash brought his hands together and pleaded, "Hey, hang on! I'll find some way to make it up to all of you! Just please give me a chance!" After a moment, Ruby backed down, "Fine. I'm too bushed to beat you up anyway. But you better stick to your word. I don't think either of us wants to leave until we've had a good enough time worth the trouble of getting here." The Trainer nervously nodded, "Yeah, I don't blame you. But I know just the place for us to rest while we're here. Follow me." Ash led his companions, ever fearful that they might attack out of frustration.

The destination Ash had in mind was none other than the famous Rin Hotel. Everyone was given their own rooms promptly, butlers carrying their belongings to their assigned rooms. Rukaria was the only exception as she would not let anyone lay a hand on her weapons. And a short while later, all of the ladies were lying face-down on padded tables while hotel employees gave them massages. Sapphire giggled, "Wow, that's nice. A little lower, please." Her masseuse replied, "Is here good?" Her hands kneaded Sapphire's lower back. "Ooh, yes! Right there!" Ruby sighed, "This really hits the spot. Ash made a smart choice taking us here... Ooh! That felt good..." Rukaria giggled as her masseuse applied greater pressure to get through her thicker fur. "That's nice. Higher... Higher.... Now lower..." Lucy sighed as her masseuse kneaded her shoulders, "I hope this isn't too much trouble..." Her masseuse replied, "It's no trouble at all, miss. Our pledge here at the esteemed Rin Hotel is to make all our guests as relaxed as possible. Humans or Pokémon." The Lucario maiden grinned shyly, "Why...thank you." Zandria waved her fluffy tail as her masseuse kneaded her shoulders, "Mmmmm, that's just what I needed." Chiara rested atop two tables brought together to accommodate her size. Her masseuse used his legs as well as his hands to massage her while kneeling on her back. "Be sure to get those scapula. Flight puts a lot of strain on them.... Ooh. Just like that." Even Pearl, despite her depression, could not help but smile as her exhausted body was tended to so tenderly. 

Elsewhere in the hotel, all of the males relaxed in hot tubs. Lucius sighed, "Good move, Ash. Most guys love a good soak in a hot tub." Shadow nodded in agreement, "Nothing beats a hot bath." Lucash cuddled with his father, "I don't have to use soap this time, right?" Ash shook his head, "Nope. Just a good long soak in hot bubbling water." However, Ashton sighed, "Delightful... Though I have to wonder how they managed to get water from a hot spring when there are none in the area." Ash chuckled, "They didn't. The water is heated by machines and pumped into this pool." Ashton cocked his head slightly, "Machines...?" Everyone else remained silent for a moment before Shadow sighed, "Never mind. You wouldn't understand." 

Later that night, Ash rested in bed with Pearl. He lied awake, still worried about her. "Pearl... Do you feel any better yet?" The Lucario sighed, "No..." Ash responded by embracing her from behind, "Pearl... I'll say it again. You've atoned for what you did. Hope... Her death was just a terrible stroke of bad luck. Let's try again next time you go into heat. I know it'll work out then." But Pearl quietly asked, "Do you really believe fate is so forgiving of war crimes?" The Trainer remained silent for a moment before replying, "Yes... At least if you're willing to take responsibility for your actions and work to atone for them. But...that's just what I think..." After a moment of silence, Ash whispered into Pearl's ear, "We came here so you could relax and regain your confidence. So please... Let's have a good time starting tomorrow." Pearl replied as she placed her hand on her lover's, "All right..... I'll try." Before falling asleep, Ash smiled, "I'll always love you, Pearl. Never forget that." 

The following morning, Ash led his companions towards the center of Rota. Eventually, Sapphire gasped, "Daddy.... Is that a castle?!" Hearing her words, Ashton gazed ahead, seeing a grand castle in the center of the city. "That's.....Cameran Palace?" Ash nodded, "You know about it too?" The viscount nodded, "It was from that castle that the Kingdom of Rohta was governed during its early days. Even after the royal families chose to move to a location closer to the nation's borders for easier communication with the neighboring Kingdom of Clavice, Cameran Palace remained." Chiara nodded, "And if memory serves, the castle itself is the site of the annual competition where it is decided who becomes the next 'Aura Guardian' in a stadium. Correct?" Ash nodded, "Yup! And I was the winner last time. Let's go check it out. Some of the castle is open to the public, so we'll be let in." Ash led on, wanting to show them the castle where the renowned "Hero of the Wave" once resided. 

Upon crossing the great stone bridge that connected Cameran Palace to the rest of Rota, Ash and his companions stood before two guards. They were clad in tunics with a layer of chainmail underneath. The rest of their attire seemed more modern, consisting of leather attire with the exception of their helmets, which seemed to be composed of Kevlar. They held partisan lances, ceremonial in appearance but still honed to deadly sharpness for use to fend off intruders. Ash asked, "Hey, we can come in, right?" One of the guards replied, "Tours of the Cameran Palace begin at 11 AM. Until then, commoners are not permitted entry. Good day." 

Ruby grumbled, "11 AM... That's in another two hours at least." Lucy sighed, "We may as well go find something to do to pass the time." The group turned and began to head back towards the Rota proper. But after going no further than ten feet, Ashton stopped and turned to face the guards. Their tunics bore the city's coat of arms. "That crest..." The coat of arms was mostly red in color. It depicted a shield with three swords sticking up into it from below on three angles. In the center of the shield was an avian shape, possibly a phoenix. "The Rohta crest?!" 

Rukaria soon noticed that Ashton was not following them and alerted her companions. When they turned around, Ashton was standing before the two guards. "Uh... What do you guys think he's up to?" Ruby asked, somewhat worried that Ashton was about to overreact to something. The viscount stared at the guards as he placed his hand on the Flamberge's hilt. As he was not wearing his cloak at the time, the guards were able to clearly see Ashton's sword on his back when he initially turned to walk away. Reacting accordingly, they held their lances with both hands as they prepared for a potential assault. Their guess proved true as the viscount suddenly drew the Flamberge and held it out towards the guards with one hand in similar fashion to a rapier. As he drew his blade, the guards held out their lances in a defensive stance. 

"Ashton, knock it off! You're gonna get yourself arrested!" Ash shouted, worried that his ancestor was about to use fatal force. As expected, Ashton launched an attack on the guards, beginning with an overhead swing. However, the two guards brought their lance heads together to catch the great blade as just one would not be able to withstand the sheer weight of the strike. "Quick thinking in a tense situation." Ashton muttered as he began to duel the guards. He swung his sword around unusually slowly for his strength, the guards working together to subdue him. After rotating around them a few times while dodging and lashing out at them, Ashton ended up back at the very spot where he challenged the guards. The two tense sentries held their lances out cautiously, fearing another attack at any moment. "Flawless teamwork to overcome a single adversary. Brilliant." 

Not wanting to get caught in the crossfire, Ashton's companions kept their distance. But the viscount soon smiled, "That will do, lads." To the guards' surprise, Ashton returned the Flamberge to its resting spot on his back. One of the guards shouted, "What do you mean?! Didn't you just try to kill us?!" But Ashton chuckled, "That was merely a test. It does my heart good to see that the knights of Rohta still live on in this generation. Your skills are solid and commendable." The other guard asked, "And what do you know of the knights of Rota?" Ashton crossed his arms and smirked, "I am Ashton of the Knighthood of Rohta. I am not your enemy, but your ally." 

The two guards of Cameran Palace did not expect their opponent to be one from their own ranks. One grumbled, "If you are one of us, you should've said so in the first place! So, you wanted to enter?" Ashton nodded, "Indeed, but I also wish for my friends and family over there to accompany me. Is that fine with you?" The two guards glanced at each other and nodded. One waved at Ashton's companions, "You lot are permitted to enter! Just wait a moment!" The other guard went over to an intercom on the wall nearby and pressed a button. "We have an off-duty knight requesting entry. We're sending him and his companions up." A young woman's voice replied, "Very well. Guide him to my location." But as he heard a voice emanate from the intercom, Ashton muttered, "The wall.....spoke?" 

One of the guards motioned for Ashton's companions to follow him as he walked up the stone stairs towards Cameran Palace. However, Ashton approached the wall and examined the area near the intercom. "Where did the voice come from? Can a stone wall truly be alive?" He nervously bowed, "Er... I am Ashton. May I ask you your name, Miss Wall?" The remaining guard stared at Ashton silently, not able to understand what he was seeing. (Is this boy for real?) Just then, Zandria's voice shouted, "Ashton! Come on! You'll get left behind!" Hearing his Zangoose lover's voice, the viscount bowed to the wall, "My apologies, but I must be going. May we speak again soon, Miss Wall." As Ashton ran up the steps to join his friends and family, the remaining guard sighed, "What? Is he not of this era?" 

The Cameran Palace guard led the group through the stone corridors directly up to the great wooden doors that stood at the entrance to the throne room. Standing before the door were two more guards clad in the same attire as the escort, but they were armed with swords and shields instead of lances. Ashton quietly muttered, "I was almost expecting Richard and Benjamin to be standing guard..." The two guards pushed the twin doors open as the escort explained the situation. One faced Ashton, "Her Majesty will see you now." Ashton raised an eyebrow in surprise. (Her Majesty? Could it be...?) 

Once inside the throne room, Ashton glanced around in confusion. "The design... It's so familiar..." Ash pulled his ancestor down the red carpet that led to the throne itself. As they neared the throne, a familiar voice spoke, "Oh, is that you, Ash Ketchum?" Ash grinned, "Yup! Long time, no see! How are things, Ilene?" The queen of Rota, clad in her royal pink dress and gold crown with green jewels embedded into it, smiled, "Things have been peaceful since your departure. I am still grateful for your heroics at the Tree of Beginning. If you ever wish to visit at any time, tell the guards your name and they will grant you access. It is the least I can do for you." However, Ashton stared in bewilderment. "I have seen illustrations, but....." Shadow asked, "Ashton, what's wrong? You see a ghost?" The viscount then asked, "Could it be are immortal, Lady Rin? Can you really still be alive today?" 

Much to Ashton's surprise, Ilene burst into laughter for a moment. She soon caught herself, "My apologies, but you are not the first to suspect that. Though you are partially correct. Queen Rin of a thousand years past was my ancestor. My name is Ilene. And are you the knight who wished to see me?" Ashton, realizing his error, blushed, "Oh good lord, I did it again... Well, yes. As a knight of Rohta, I thought I would be granted permission to enter the castle in order for me and my companions here to explore it." Ilene nodded, "Well, that was unnecessary if Ash Ketchum was with you. He and his friends are welcome here anytime." However, Ilene soon frowned, "Hmmm..... Are you truly one of Rota's knights? I do not recognize your face. What is your name?" Ashton replied, "I am Ashton Redford Crimson." 

Ilene, upon hearing Ashton's full name, stared at him perplexed. "Ashton... That name does not sound familiar at all... No, I am certain of it. There is no one in Rota who is named Ashton." But the viscount shook his head, "You misunderstand me. I did not serve the city of Rota. I served the KINGDOM of Rohta." Hearing this, Ilene gasped, "The kingdom?! But the Kingdom of Rohta was disbanded at least three centuries ago!" Ashton smiled, "And I lived during those days. 600 years ago. I was reborn only recently, but my memories remain intact. And as a knight of Rohta..." He then kneeled before the queen, "I am honored to be in your presence, my queen." 

Mildly dazed from trying to understand Ashton's explanation, Ilene's gaze fell upon Ash and his group who were standing a short distance behind Ashton. "Hm? They are....." The queen then spoke slightly louder than normal, "So many Lucario! Ash, have you become a Lucario specialist?" The Trainer laughed, "Actually, only Shadow here is a part of my Pokémon team. All the others are my friends and family." He proceeded to introduce his companions, "This is Ruby, Pearl, Lucius, Rukaria, and Lucy. And this is Zandria and Chiara. And these..." Ash held Sapphire and Lucash at his sides, "These are my kids. Lucash and Sapphire." Sapphire bowed, "A pleasure to meet you, Lady Ilene." She then whispered to her father, "Did I do a good job, Daddy?" Ash whispered back, "You sure did. Like a real lady." However, Ilene asked, "Your children...... Truthfully? Well, I won't ask for the details, but they seem very healthy and very well-mannered." Lucash grinned, "Thanks, your Majesty. Our dad is the best, so don't worry." Ilene giggled, "You must be a great father for them to think so highly of you." Ruby grinned as she nudged her lover, "You bet he is. And he's great in bed too!" Ash brought a hand to his face and grumbled, "Ruby, not here..." Everyone else burst into laughter, their voices echoing through the vast stone room. 

Once everyone had stopped laughing, Ilene suddenly noticed something. "Wait... Ruby, was it? Your voice..." The young mother replied, "What about my voice?" Ilene gasped, "It came...from your mouth?" Ruby shrugged her shoulders, "Um... Yeah. We Lucario are skilled in human dialects." But Ash explained, "Um... There was a Lucario here when I won that tournament last year. But unlike the rest of you, he spoke with telepathy." But Ruby then frowned, "Wait... Seriously? You met a Lucario and did not know what I was when we first met?" Ash blushed as he nervously chuckled, "Oh man, I knew you were gonna ask me that. But there was a good reason why I thought you were a completely different Pokémon." The Lucario shouted, "What made you think I wasn't a Lucario?!" The Trainer explained, "Well, the Lucario I met had those three spikes while you didn't, my Pokédex identified you as a Rukario instead of a Lucario, and that Lucario didn't have....well...those." He gently poked Ruby's breasts. The young mother frowned, "Uh... I guess you have a point. Kinda like how Gardevoir and Gallade look similar, but are still different." 

A short while later, Ash and his friends and family began to explore the castle. Their first stop was the grand ballroom where Ash first met Sir Aaron's Lucario during the party after the tournament. "Hardly feels like the same place now that there aren't any guests around." A moment later, Lucash called from the far end of the room, "Dad, who's this?!" The Lucario child seemed to be pointing to something on the wall. Out of curiosity, everyone approached the spot and gazed up at the wall. Ash smiled, "Oh, him?" Hanging on the wall before them was the same painting of Sir Aaron that Ash had tried to mimic while holding the legendary Aura Guardian's staff. "That's Sir Aaron. He was a great hero from a thousand years ago who was a knight from Rota....... Huh?" Ash's eyes opened wide as he noticed something in the portrait that had not been present before. Standing beside Aaron in the picture was his faithful Lucario disciple. "How did he get there?! I know for sure Lucario wasn't in this picture when I was here!" But a voice spoke, "Very true, Ash. For reasons we cannot explain, Sir Aaron's Lucario was added to the painting you see before you shortly before you departed Rota." Ilene stood behind the group, equally puzzled by the strange change in the painting. 

"The painting changed? What exactly could that mean?" Ashton asked as he turned to face the queen. "I wish I could answer that... I have hired paranormal investigators and even enrolled the aid of Psychic type Pokémon, but answers still elude us..." However, Chiara asked, "Wait... Ash, tell me. What was this Lucario like when you first met him?" The Trainer explained, "He had been sealed somehow into Aaron's staff. I think when that happened a thousand years ago, Lucario thought that Aaron was abandoning the kingdom instead of planning on saving it. But later, we found a weird 'Time Flower' that showed a recording of sorts, kinda like a time capsule, that Aaron had left for Lucario, saying he wanted him to survive and not get dragged down with him. And in the end....." Ash's expression darkened as he gazed downward, "On that crazy day inside the Tree of Beginning..... He sacrificed himself so I wouldn't have to... We only knew each other for a few days, but he died as my friend..." 

There was a solemn silence as Ash retold the tale he knew of Sir Aaron's pupil. But Chiara muttered, "In other words, this Lucario, having believed a false assumption for a millennium, came to learn the truth about his friend?" Ash nodded silently. When the wise Lugia scholar glanced back at the painting, she nodded, "I cannot say it is exactly what happened, but I have a theory." Ilene gasped, "You know?!" Chiara frowned, "Perhaps. My suspicion is that upon learning the truth about Sir Aaron and dying knowing that truth, this Lucario's revelations may have triggered a time paradox. In other words, this discovery...may have rewritten history itself." 

Everyone present stared at Chiara in shock. Ilene muttered, "History was changed? As in...Lucario in the past was somehow enlightened to the truth?" Chiara nodded and asked, "I suppose. But was this painting crafted in honor of Aaron's actions on the day he protected Rota?" Ilene nodded, "Indeed. I believe this portrait was painted so he would never be forgotten." Chiara then smiled, "Then Lucario surely must have aided him to have been added to the picture as well. Master and pupil assisted each other in keeping this kingdom safe." Ashton applauded, "Most brilliant, Chiara." But a moment later, Ilene frowned, "Actually.....there is one other thing..." She then motioned for her guests to follow her. "Please, come with me." 

The queen of Rota led her guests towards the open courtyard of Cameran Palace, ponds and flowers decorating the area. She soon directed them to what seemed to be a pair of stone monuments. "The day after the crisis ended a year ago, my servants discovered these. They had not existed here until then, yet there was no sign of unlawful entry into the castle, so there was little chance it could be a prank." Lucius approached the stone tablets. "They seem to be tombstones..." The one on the left was fairly large and artistic, as if it had been designed for royalty. The one on the right was smaller and humbler in design, but had an air of nobility about it. Both were in impressive condition without signs of weathering, as if they had been tended to on a daily basis. Lucius read the inscriptions upon the larger tombstone aloud. "Here lies Sir Aaron. Hero of the Wave." 

There was an audible gasp from the group as Lucius revealed the name of that who had been buried before them. Ilene muttered, "Sir Aaron... His body was never recovered after his demise while protecting the kingdom... How could he have been buried here?" Lucy replied, "Perhaps that other tombstone has the answer. Lucius?" Lucy's brother nodded, "Just a sec." He then read the inscriptions on the smaller tombstone, "Here lies Lucario. Noble and loyal disciple of the Hero of the Wave." Ash spoke out, "How could he be buried here?! I saw him die! He just...faded away... There was nothing left to bury..." However, Chiara replied, "Then this surely was not set here the day after, but long ago. When these two died of natural causes." 

Everyone present turned to face Chiara as a stunned silence fell over the courtyard. "Are you all listening? Then let me explain." Chiara cleared her throat, "If this time paradox theory is correct, then it is likely that instead of being sealed away into Aaron's staff, Lucario refused and convinced his master to let him come along to assist him. Through their combined efforts and teamwork that come from bonds of master and pupil, they resolved the crisis plaguing Rota without either of them perishing. They returned as heroes and lived out their lives until dying of natural causes." Ash slowly turned to face the tombstone of his lost friend and smiled faintly, "I thought you died too soon, had a good life after all." 

Ilene brought a hand to her head as she tried to take in the discoveries that had been revealed to her. "An event so grand, it changed the flow of time itself..." She slowly wandered off, dazed from the knowledge she had received. Ashton asked, "Do you believe she will be all right?" Zandria shrugged, "If she's the queen, she must have some pretty strong resolve. She'll probably be fine." But before they could follow, Ash tugged on Ashton's sleeve. "Hey, Ashton... Could I ask you a favor?" The viscount nodded, "Of course. What do you need?" The Trainer then asked, "You got a special gift from Ho-Oh, right?" Ashton nodded in silence, knowing what his descendant was referring to. Ash then pointed toward Lucario's grave, "Could you...bring him back?" 

Hearing Ash's plea, Shadow asked, "Is that really possible? Someone who's been gone for almost a thousand years...?" Ashton gazed at his left hand, knowing full well that the power of resurrection now rested within him. "Yes... It can do such a thing. But why? Do you really want to see him again so badly?" Ash clenched his fists, "Are you kidding? Do you know what it feels like to watch a friend die after knowing each other for just a few days? Knowing that you'll never know how much deeper that bond could've gotten?" Ashton warmly smiled and patted the boy on the shoulder, "Say no more, Ash. I'll do it. Now, stand aside for a moment." But before Ashton could get any closer to the tombstone, Ash held him in a warm embrace. "Thanks... You don't know what this means to me..." 

Ashton stood beside the tombstone that marked Lucario's grave and seemed to be gauging the length of something. "Should be about this long..." He signaled his companions to give him some room. He then made a few hand signs and planted his palm onto the ground near the tombstone. "Earth Style: Terra Shield." At those words, a slab of earth jutted up from the ground that was not quite hard enough to be stone, lifting the tombstone with it and the strip of grass that laid before it. And wedged in the wall of earth was a simple wooden coffin. Ashton then stood at the narrow end of the Terra Shield and held his hand against it. "I need one of you to push that thing out. I'll keep this wall of earth stable so it doesn't collapse when the coffin is removed." Rukaria nodded, "I've got this. Hang on." The blind Lucario maiden stood at the side and held up her right hand. She then thrust her palm into the side of the coffin, pushing it out with Force Palm. The coffin then fell onto its side, the lid falling off and spilling its contents all over the ground.

"AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!" There was a yell as most of Ashton's companions shouted at the sight of Lucario's bones scattered before them. Zandria snickered, "Gotta admit, I didn't see that coming." Rukaria blushed, "Oops... I guess I should've done it slowly." Chiara brought a hand to her chin, "So this is what a Lucario's skeletal system is like?" Along with the bones, there was a dull yellow vest and moldy blue shorts. Shadow muttered, "He's probably gonna look just like me when he's flesh and bone again." Ashton then asked, "Lucius, could you return that coffin to its previous resting place?" The Shiny Lucario nodded, "Sure. Hang on." He placed the lid back onto the empty coffin and slid it back into the gaping hole in the Terra Shield. "Well done. Now..." Ashton placed his hand on the ground near the wall of earth, canceling the jutsu as the Terra Shield retracted into the ground, leaving almost no trace of what had occurred. 

Ashton stared down at Lucario's remains, seemingly studying them. "I believe it would be best to put these back in order before reviving him..." Rukaria smiled, "Leave it to me. I know something of Lucario anatomy." The blind maiden set her Hyup Do against the wall nearby and began to rearrange the bones. "The foot bone connects to the leg bone. The leg bone connects to the knee bone. The knee bone connects to the thigh bone. The thigh bone connects to the hip bone....." Rukaria went on chanting the song, causing Lucash and Sapphire to sing along in unison with her while coaxing smiles and even laughter from the others, even the deeply depressed Pearl. Rukaria even took the time to slip the bones inside the dusty old clothes of their wearer. 

Once Lucario's skeleton had been reassembled, Ashton signaled his companions to stand back. "I pray this takes effect..." Ashton held his left hand open as a tiny flame rested in his palm. "Is that Ho-Oh's...." Lucy asked. Chiara nodded, "Most likely." Ashton kneeled before the bones before him and released the flame over the ribcage. As the tiny flame entered the ribcage, the skeleton was engulfed in searing flames. Everyone jumped back in surprise as the bones burned. However, they seemed to gain form as time passed. Moments later, the flames receded, revealing a familiar Lucario lying down, seemingly unconscious. Even his ragged clothing had been restored to pristine condition, their colors vivid and bright. Ash stepped forward, "Is he...?" Ashton listened closely, hearing faint breathing. "Indeed. Your friend lives again, Ash." 

Ash stared down at Lucario overwhelmed with emotion now that his old friend had been restored. "Well, what are we waiting for?! Wake him up!" But Ashton restrained his descendant, "Not so rough, all right? He's been out of touch with this world for nearly a millennium. Be gentle." The Trainer nodded, "Oh, right. Got it." He gently shook the sleeping Lucario, "Come on, Lucario. Rise and shine. We've got a lot to catch up on." Slowly, the Lucario rose from his thousand-year slumber. He grunted as he opened his eyes, shielding them from the morning light with his hand. A voice suddenly entered the minds of everyone present, "Where am I...?" Ash replied by holding his spare hand, "You're in Cameran Palace. Welcome back, Lucario." Once his eyes had adjusted to the light, Lucario gazed at the face of his old friend. But instead of being elated to be with him again, he asked, "Who...are you?" 

Ash laughed at Lucario's apparent ignorance of his identity. "Oh, come on! You know who I am! We went through so much together!" But the Lucario shrugged his shoulders, "Honestly, I know not who you are. Although...your Aura... It is strangely similar to his..." Hearing Lucario's words, Ash frowned, "You said that last time too... You really don't remember?" Lucario nodded, "I would surely recall someone with the same Aura as..... Ugh?!" He held his head suddenly, "This feeling... As if there are memories in the back of my mind... What are they? I can't...recall..." Chiara then stepped forward, "Allow me. I may be able to help bring them to the surface." The Lugia scholar gently held her hands near Lucario's head as they glowed with psychic energy. They gave off a pleasant hum, calming the Lucario. "Now, just relax." Lucario closed his eyes, very nearly falling asleep. As if in a trance, his memories began to resurface. "I see...myself being released from Sir Aaron's crystal staff... A thousand years past... The boy whose Aura is the same as his...... Ash Ketchum." 

Lucario opened his eyes and gazed up at his friend. "I remember... You... You were my...friend." Ash nodded with a warm smile, "Yeah, I am. And I'm glad to have you back, Lucario." The Lucario smiled, but soon frowned, "I'm sorry...for distrusting you until so close to the end..." But the Trainer patted his old friend on the shoulder, "It's OK. You're back now, so that gives us plenty of time to compensate for your lost time." Lucario nodded, "Indeed.... Wait....." He then asked, "How can I be here?! I recall perishing within the Tree of Beginning!" But he then looked down, "But if I died..... How did I.....with Aaron... The kingdom...saved... Decades later.....I died again?" He then held his head, "What happened...? I perished, then died again in the past?" 

Ashton, puzzled by Lucario's obvious confusion, stepped forward and sat down next to the dazed Fighting type. "Easy now. Tell us from the beginning." Lucario took a deep breath, "I remember...perishing within the Tree of Beginning to stabilize it.... Then...I found myself with Sir Aaron... My eyes stung from sand getting in them... But I... It felt as if the time up to my death within the Tree of Beginning was just a dream..." Lucario then explained, "But...I remembered learning the truth. I knew what was coming, and prevented Aaron from sealing me within his staff. I insisted we go together, so that I may be able to protect him from the fate I knew would befall him if he went on alone." He then closed his eyes, "The rest is...foggy at best. The next thing I remember is the two of us awakening. Half of our Aura was gone. We were weakened, but we were alive." He then gazed to the sky, "We returned to Rota. We were hailed as heroes. And I lived out my days here. With my friend..." Chiara then smiled to herself, (Theory confirmed. The result was indeed a time paradox.) 

Ash helped Lucario to his feet, "That means you had a pretty good life, right?" Lucario nodded, "Yes. I don't know how, but my memories from the future reached me in the past. And I have you to thank for this, Ash Ketchum." The Trainer blushed, "Aw, shucks. It was nothing. But if you really wanna thank someone, thank Ashton. He's the one who brought you back from the grave!" The Lucario turned to face Ashton, who smiled, "It was no trouble at all, my good man." The revived Aura Guardian nodded, "I only pray this lifetime will prove to be just as enjoyable....." Lucario suddenly stared at Ashton with a shocked expression. "Your Aura... It's..." Ashton asked, "What about my Aura?" Lucario explained, "I know Ash's is virtually the same as Sir Aaron's, but yours... Not only is it the same strength. It FEELS identical as well. How can your Aura be so similar to his?! And your face and hair... They too are similar to his. How...?" 

Ashton was perplexed by Lucario's findings. While at first skeptical, he could not forget that Lucario knew Sir Aaron on a personal level in his previous lifetime. He grumbled, "The only way to be sure would be to search through my family's records back at the Crimson estate. If there is anything in the world that may have information pointing to any possible connections to the Hero of the Wave involving my family tree, my estate's study would surely contain it." Chiara nodded, "Actually, there is one book in the study I have not read, although it is more of a tome. The only reason I never touched it was because it is quite old. I feared it would fall apart if I did anything with it." Ashton smiled, "Then that book likely holds the answers we seek. But we'll be careful when handling it." 

It was only after his introduction to Ashton that Lucario noticed the rest of Ash's companions. "A Zangoose... And you are a Lugia, though quite small. And....." He stared in surprise at Ash's Lucario companions. "So many Lucario! I thought my kind are reclusive by nature!" Ruby grinned, "Well, we are. But we all bumped into Ash by chance for our own reasons." Lucario then turned to Ash, "Are you their master as well?" The Trainer snickered, "Only Shadow 'belongs' to me. But the rest are my friends and family." Lucario frowned, "Family? How so? You do not seem to be at all Lucario." Ash motioned for Lucash and Sapphire to approach him. "Lucash and Sapphire here are my kids. And Ruby is their mom." Hearing this, Lucario staggered for a moment. "Humans and Lucario can breed together...? What other discoveries have been made in my absence?" Ruby giggled, "Man, you HAVE been out of touch with this world for a while. In any case, I'm Ash's fiancée and Lucash and Sapphire's mother. The name is Ruby." Shadow held out his hand, "I'm Shadow, and as he claims, Ash is my Trainer." Lucario shook Shadow's hand, "It's a pleasure." Lucius then held out his hand, "I am Lucius. I hail from the Sinnoh region." But as Lucario faced the Shiny Lucario, he gasped, "What's this? Why do you wear that cloak?" Lucius replied, "It's a trench coat, to be precise. See?" He then removed his coat, revealing his natural form to Lucario. But the revived Lucario stared, "Such bizarre coloration... Yellow instead of blue? Cyan instead of yellow? A mutation?" Lucius chuckled, "Yeah, I know these colors are a bit off, but they're all natural! I'm what is called a 'Shiny' Lucario. It's a very rare occurrence, but Shiny Pokémon are virtually no different from ordinary ones." Lucario nervously shook Lucius' hand, "I...see. For a moment, I feared you were a victim to a plague of some sort." Rukaria stepped forward next. "I'm Rukaria. I too come from the Sinnoh region." But when Lucario faced her, he stared in bewilderment. "What..... Your fur coloration... Your eyes... A curse? And...what is this presence?" Lucario closed his eyes as his dreadlocks seemed to float parallel to his head. "Your Aura... Most perplexing. It's black?" Rukaria sighed, "Yes, it's because of a curse. But don't worry too much. It's not contagious." Lucario opened his eyes, "I shall take your word for it." He then faced Pearl, "And you are?' However, she only frowned with a sorrowful expression. Ash stepped forward and whispered into Lucario's ear, "She's Ruby's big sister. Her name's Pearl. She had a miscarriage a few weeks ago, and she took it pretty hard." Lucario nodded and asked, "Pearl, was it? It is a pleasure to meet you." The young maiden nodded halfheartedly, "Same..." Soon, Lucario noticed Lucy standing just behind Ash. "Hm? I think I overlooked you." But as he reached out to her, Lucy ducked behind Ash entirely. The Trainer smiled, "Hey, you don't have to worry about him. He's a really honorable guy." Lucy shyly peeked out from behind him and spoke, "I'm...Lucy." Lucario smiled, "It is a true pleasure, but do not be shy. I am no threat to you." But Ruby then asked, "Hey, how are you speaking without using your mouth?" Lucario replied, "I use my Aura to project my voice as a type of telepathy. I'm afraid speaking human dialects are beyond most Pokémon." But Ruby smirked, "Then how am I speaking with my mouth? I think you just never tried it." Lucario stared, but then cleared his throat. "If you can, I will try as well." He began to grunt and growl as he tried to manipulate his voice enough to speak. After a moment, he managed to mutter, "I aaaam...Lucarrrrio. I serrrrved...Sirrrr Aarrrrron." Ashton chuckled, "A good first try, but try to avoid rolling your Rs." Lucario blushed as he spoke with his Aura, "I will practice to improve. Until then, I will speak as I always have." 

As the group engaged in casual conversation, asking Lucario about his life in the distant past, Ashton eventually asked, "Lucario, have you lived here in Rota all your life?" Lucario replied, "Yes, though Sir Aaron and I did travel the Kanto region from time to time in order to train and keep watch over the various settlements." Ashton then pondered his reply, remembering that his son, Atlas, had a daughter who fell in love with a Lucario who resided at the northern edge of the Kanto region. "Did you ever settle down and start a family?" The Lucario shook his head, "No. My role as an Aura Guardian and servant of Sir Aaron left little time for romance." But Ashton frowned, "Are you absolutely certain? One of my children had a daughter who had a relationship with a Lucario who resided in this area." Lucario then asked, "And when was this?" Ashton replied bluntly, "Around 500 years ago." Hearing this, Lucario stared, "I beg your pardon? 500? How is that possible? Are you immortal?" The viscount replied, "Not quite. I simply have a cycle of reincarnation that causes me to be reborn 500 years after death." Zandria then nudged Lucario, "For the record, the son he's referring to is my boy, Atlas." Lucario laughed, "And how can you still be alive?! Do you get reborn every 500 years as well?" The Zangoose smirked, "Nope. I died around 500 years ago. And I am STILL dead." She then burst into a puff of white spectral mist and reformed on the other side of Lucario's body. "You see, I'm a specter." Lucario's eye twitched, "A ghost... Now I've seen everything..." 

Ashton pointed towards Ash, "What is more, Ash here is a direct descendant of my and Zandria's child. He has Zangoose blood flowing through his veins." Lucario could only stare at his friend upon hearing this. "Zangoose? He... Wait..." The Lucario began to think deeply, "Actually..... There woman..." Rukaria asked, "A woman?" Lucario continued, "Yes. A young Lucario female. She was in the company of an ambassador from a foreign land, who arranged to give her to a noble who resided in Rota. During her stay at the castle, she was in heat. I tried to ignore it, but it became unbearable for her. She eventually pleaded with me to mate with her in order to end her heat cycle. I agreed. And..." Lucario sighed, "Is it possible that she became pregnant?" Ashton replied, "More than likely. And if she had her child in Rota, then it is likely that her descendant....." Zandria smirked, "Found love with my son. And that would make you..." Ash muttered, "My...ancestral grandfather." 

Lucario's mind went blank for a moment as he made a most shocking discovery about himself and his friend. "I was a father... And never even knew...?" Slowly, he began to shuffle away from the group. "Lucario...?" Ash spoke out. His friend replied, "I need...a moment to collect myself..." He then dashed out of sight. Ash asked, "Do you think it was a good idea to tell him that?" Ashton sighed, "I felt he had the right to know. I apologize if it harmed him." 

A short time later, Lucario sat atop the bell tower of Cameran Palace, the highest point in the castle. His gaze faced north, the Tree of Beginning in plain sight in the distance. He muttered, "I never imagined... How could I have had a child and never known?" Just then a voice spoke from behind him, "It's not your fault. I'm sure breeding info was pretty vague back then." Lucario glanced over his shoulder, seeing Ash approaching him while trying to keep from slipping off the steep roof of the bell tower. "But then again, a girl in heat is pretty much guaranteed to get pregnant. Unless she and her lover are incompatible, that is." As Ash took a seat, Lucario asked, "Just HOW did you get up here anyway? Accessing the roof shouldn't be possible for an ordinary human." The Trainer snickered, "I have my ways." Lucario failed to notice a few embers falling from Ash's shoes. 

As they gazed at the Tree of Beginning, Ash and Lucario remained silent for a time. Eventually, Ash asked, "So, what would you have done if you found out that girl had your baby?" Lucario sighed, "I would've stayed by her side and raised our child with her. If I was not so dedicated to my duties, I would've taken the time to track her down in Rota." Ash replied, "Ya know, you're not the only one to go through life not knowing a thing about someone from your family." Lucario glanced at his friend with a confused expression. The Trainer explained with a glum look, "I never knew my dad. All I know is that he became a Trainer and took two weeks to reach Viridian City when he left home. Though sometimes.....I think my mom might have just been making the whole story up. I'll never know for sure now, and I'm too afraid to ask her."

Lucario sighed to himself, "I know the pain of learning I had a child too late to be in its life. And you know the solitude of never knowing your father." Ash replied, "But we are both related, even if it's a very distant relationship." The two then gazed at each other. Ash then asked, "Lucario... Or should I say...Dad?" The Fighting type was initially shocked, but soon smiled warmly, "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, my boy." The two held each other in a warm embrace. Soon, Ash asked, "Um... Dad? Since I'm...well...part Lucario and all that, do you think you could teach me how to control my Aura without those gloves I had?" Lucario chuckled, "Gladly. Just be aware that it takes time and effort to master Aura manipulation. Even so, I shall teach you all I know, pup!" Ash grinned, "Awesome! Let's start once Pearl's all better. We came here on vacation so she could recover from the pain of her miscarriage." Lucario nodded, "Wise choice. Rota is a very peaceful city that is popular with tourists and travelers."

After chatting a minute more, Lucario stood up. "I wish to return to your companions. Do you need me to carry you down?" Ash shook his head, "Nah, I'll manage. I'll catch up soon." Lucario nodded and jumped from the bell tower, curious of how Ash got up there in the first place. He focused his Aura into his feet just before contact with the ground to cushion the shock of the landing and disappeared into the castle. Ash smirked, "Time to go commando." A veil of flames began to cloak him, becoming the Devil of the Eternal Flame. Ash then extended a rope of fire from his hand, which grabbed onto the roof of the bell tower. With the flame cloak's hand anchored in place, Ash jumped backwards and dropped down until he swung towards the bell tower and planted his feet against the side. He then began jumping away from the tower as the flame cloak's arm stretched further and further, allowing him to drop lower with each jump. Eventually, Ash landed on the roof of another section of Cameran Palace. After retracting his cloak's arm, Ash repeated the process until he was back on solid ground in the courtyard. "That takes care of that. Hope no one saw me..." Ash quickly dispelled his cloak of flames and ran inside the castle interior, hoping to rendezvous with his friends and family.

A week passed as Ash and his friends and family rested in Rota. They traveled to every corner of the historic city to enjoy all it had to offered. But every afternoon, Ashton would return to the entrance of Cameran palace to speak to the wall that had an intercom in it. "So, what have you seen in your time here, Miss Wall?" Ashton asked, still not noticing the intercom nearby. A moment passed without the wall providing an answer. The viscount continued, "Still shy as ever, eh? Well, what can you tell me about this grand castle?" As the viscount continued to 'converse' with the wall, the two guards stationed at the bridge stared at him. One asked, "Should we tell him?" The other snickered, "Let's leave him be. This is proving to be amusing." 

Back in her hotel room, Pearl rested upon her bed, clutching the Oval Stone that hung from her neck. After nearly thirty days since the birth and death of her daughter, Pearl's depression was hardly any better. She could still see her child's lifeless body, and the many children she murdered during her missions with the Blackflame Six. However, despite her refusal to ever allow herself to breed again, Pearl was now facing a perplexing dilemma. Possibly due to having a miscarriage, her heat cycle had begun unusually early as if to compensate her for the loss of her daughter. 

Pearl closed her eyes, trying to ignore the burning in her womb. Her maternal instincts began to resurface in the back of her mind. "I can't... I don't deserve it... Never again... Never again will I breed..." However, she began to hear her lover's voice echoing in her mind, reminding her of his sympathy and forgiveness. Tears began to fill the Lucario maiden's eyes as her mind began to relent under the strength of her dream to have a child with the boy she loved and her surging maternal desires. "I can't ever expect the Lucario clans of Hoenn to forgive me, but..... I can't keep living like this... Ash... I think you're right..." Soon, the Oval Stone in Pearl's hand began to glow. "I... I have to learn to forgive myself... Ash... You truly are...the mate I have longed for..." As she let her long-harbored regret leave her psyche, Pearl's body was engulfed in a blinding light. "I love you... My darling..."

Minutes later, Ash returned to the Rin Hotel and proceeded to his assigned room with a sack of freshly baked goods and hearty deli meats, staples of Rota's inhabitants' diets. Knowing that Pearl was still inside, he knocked on the door. "Pearl, I know you're not in a good mood, but I brought you some food. And I think you'll like Rota's specialties." However, Pearl replied with groans of discomfort. Concerned, Ash stepped inside. "Something wrong? Did you eat something bad this mor....." Ash stared at his lover, "What the.... Who are you?!" But the maiden before him gazed at him with red eyes filled with powerful adoration and passion. "Just the person I wanted to see." 

Before Ash could retreat, Pearl sat up and lunged at him. Her aim was true as she snatched him up in her arms, embracing him tightly. "Oh, honey... I love you so much..." Ash managed to pry his head away from her chest, amazed that his skull had not been punctured on her chest spike. "Hang on! Who are you?!" Pearl replied, "Can't you tell, dear? It's me. Pearl!" Ash pushed her away, "Back up! Let me look at you!" As they gazed at each other, Pearl asked, "Hang on... Did you shrink? I don't remember you being shorter than me." Ash gazed at Pearl, dumbstruck. "Your Oval Stone's gone... Pearl... Did you...evolve?" 

The creature that stood before Ash bore a significant resemblance to a Lucario, but the differences were still obvious. Pearl had grown past five feet, now standing at five feet and three inches. The black fur strips that laid across her face that resembled a blindfold now curved downward slightly just past her eyes. Her ears had become semi diamond-shaped, one quarter of the diamond cut off where the ears connected to her head. She also had a total of five dreadlocks that were now streamlined and pointed at the tips instead of being teardrop-shaped, two hanging from each side of her head as two hung from just behind her ears while the last was connected to the very top of her head. The two at the sides of her head reached down to her shoulders while the three that hung down the back of her head reached past shoulder length, the central lock of hair being the longest. Pearl's facial structure had changed slightly as well, now having more feminine eyes and a more pronounced lower jaw. Her vest had undergone a change as well. Two short sleeves extended over her shoulders with black rims at the tips. Near the bottom, her vest had extended slightly past her waist, having become somewhat tattered in appearance as parts of her vest hung in stylishly cut strips. Just above her waistline, the vest parted, revealing part of Pearl's newly-changed blue belly. Her blue tail was now slightly longer as well. The black fur on her hands now resembled mitts as the fur was no longer parallel to the blue fur on her arm, making them seem that they could be slid off. The spikes on the back of Pearl's hands had become narrower and curved backwards, the tips pointing backwards instead of upwards. Lastly, the fur on Pearl's upper legs had gone from blue to black, two small circular pieces cut out on both left and right sides at the very tips. Her lower legs reflected the change as they were now blue instead of black. Pearl gazed at her new body, "What have I become?" Ash responded by pulling out his Pokédex and pointing it at his lover. A female voice spoke from it, "Genetrix, the Nurturing Pokémon. An evolved form of Lucario. Very little information is currently available, but research points to all cases involving female Lucario that were in possession of an Oval Stone at the time of evolution." Ash closed his Pokédex, "That's it. The Oval Stone was the trigger!" 

Pearl glanced down, realizing that her Oval Stone that had been worn as a pendant had vanished. "It's gone? Just like an evolution stone. Maybe this 'Genetrix' evolution to Lucario is like what the Gallade evolution is to Gardevoir.....oof!" Pearl gripped her belly, feeling the telltale signs of her heat cycle. "What's wrong? You ate something bad after all?" Ash asked, somewhat concerned. However, the newly-evolved Genetrix gazed at him with a deep blush and lustful eyes. "Oh, I'm just fine, hun. But there's one thing that can make me feel even better." She then gripped the bottom of her vest and yanked it over her head, "Come on, dear! Let's make puppies!" 

Ash blushed at Pearl's surprising promiscuous behavior, especially during her deep depression. However, he soon noticed something different about Pearl's torso. "Huh? What happened to your yellow fur?" Pearl came out of her lustful trance and glanced down at herself. All around her, she was covered with only blue fur, the yellow fur from her previous form being completely absent. "Hmm... All blue, huh? I'll bet I'd be hard to spot while skinny dipping." Ash brought a hand to his face, "Sheesh, what's wrong with you? First you're depressed, then you're wanting to mate?!" Hearing this, Pearl brought a hand to her head, "I'm sorry... I just... I can't explain it. It's always been my dream to have a child of my own with the man I love, but after I evolved... That desire became a powerful urge. It's almost all I can think about." She then pleaded, "Ash, please! I can't take this anymore! Let's have a baby!" 

Slightly intimidated by Pearl's direct approach, Ash took a step back. "But what about the Blackflame Curse? Aren't you afraid that your baby will die before it's born?" Pearl replied, "I don't care about that anymore! I at least want to try!" The Trainer gulped, "What happened to your mind? Is it normal for Genetrix to have such powerful maternal instincts?" Pearl calmed down for a moment, "Genetrix is called.....the Nurturing Pokémon? As in...nurturing to children? Helping raise them? If so, that would make sense..." She then pleaded, "Ash, I'm in heat right now. Will you please help my dream come true?" Initially taken aback by his lover's brazen pleas, Ash smiled warmly, "OK. I promised that we'd start a family together. So let's fulfill that promise. But not just yet. Let's wait until tonight. Think you can manage that?" Pearl happily nodded, "Absolutely. That will only make the moment sweeter." Ash then laughed, "Good. Now put your shirt back on! I'm not in the mood yet!"

Hours later, Ash locked himself in his hotel room. Pearl had chosen to remain inside for the day to avoid alarming her friends and family with her new form. Upon seeing her lover enter, Pearl smirked, "Is the Alpha male ready?" Ash snickered, "Knock it off, Pearl! You're making me blush!" The Genetrix pulled her vest over her head, revealing her ample blue breasts. "These will have even more milk in them soon." Ash blushed, forgetting that Pearl had been lactating since before the birth of their daughter. Her body seemed oblivious to their child's death, as her breasts were still filled with milk. "Now, show me my love's hot bod." Ash could not help laughing at Pearl's teasing. But a second later, his eyes noticed a slight oddity in Pearl's body. 

"Pearl, this is gonna sound silly, but are you wearing shorts now?" Ash asked, staring at her black thighs and hips. The Genetrix glanced down, "I don't think I am..." She then gripped the black fur and tugged at it. "What the..." Upon closer inspection, she found that her 'fur' was separated from her body. "Can it be?" She proceeded to slide her 'fur' down to her feet, revealing that her black fur had become a pair of shorts. Ash blushed, Pearl's entire body covered in blue fur. "I guess there's always the chance of a Riolu's evolutions to gain or lose a piece of clothing. Looks like you've got both now, Pearl." The Genetrix looked over her completely bare body, grinning, "Mmmm... I like this new look." Ash stared in arousal, his manhood starting to become erect. "Pearl... You're so slender and gorgeous and... Just... Wow. I can't believe how beautiful you are!" Pearl gazed at her lover most tenderly, "It's all thanks to you, hun. I believe it was my sheer love for you that caused me to evolve." She then fell backwards onto the bed, "I've been waiting for this day ever since I became an adult, dear. Now, make my dream of motherhood a reality, sweetheart." 

Enticed by his lover's new body, Ash crawled onto the bed after undressing. He propped himself up over Pearl, an uneasy grin on his face. "Something wrong, dear?" Pearl asked, noticing her mate's odd expression. "Oh... Um... It just feels awkward now that you're taller than me. I think I'm just a few inches shy of five feet." Ash blushed, nervous about mating with a woman who was somewhat taller than he was. Pearl giggled, "Talk about a switcheroo. But don't worry. I'm sure in a few years you'll become the tallest of us. I'm kinda jealous, to be honest." Ash chuckled, "Yeah, but I won't let that stop me from giving you what we want. I just hope that our next kid is born without any problems." Pearl nodded, "Same here, hun. Now, take me!" Without a second thought, Ash plunged into his lover, hilting himself to her in an instant. 

"Oh god, you're just like before! A perfect fit!" Pearl gasped as Ash entered her. Ash groaned, "Man, it's so hot! Now I know why it's called a heat cycle." But the Genetrix tapped his nose, "No time for chitchat, dear. We have a job to do." Ash nodded, beginning to thrust into the Genetrix. Pearl gasped as she gripped the blankets, loving the feeling of her true love mating with her. The knowledge that their coupling would also produce a child only added to her ecstasy. But soon, Ash asked, "Hey, mind if I have a drink?" He licked Pearl's swollen pink nipples, prompting a shudder from the beautiful Genetrix. She replied, "Well, that's what they're there for, right? Drink up, sweetheart." Ash closed his mouth over one nipple and began to suckle. Seconds later, a stream of warm milk began to fill his mouth. It was oddly sweet. "This is some really sweet milk, Pearl. Our kid's gonna love it." Pearl giggled, "Until then, help yourself."

The two lovers continued their mating, Ash steadily suckling from Pearl's breast. Minutes later, Ash felt a familiar pressure building up inside him. "Pearl, I'm getting close..." The Genetrix howled, "Do it, Ash! Do it! Please!" She then threw her arms around him and held her lover close. "Make me...a mother..." Before Ash could offer a reply, he gritted his teeth and groaned, "Pearl... I love you..." He then hilted himself to her as he released his sperm into her, the Genetrix's insides quivering in orgasm. Pearl's face became red with a deep blush as she sighed, the burning sensation in her womb being washed away by a wonderful sensation of relief. "It's happening... Oh, Ash... I love you so much..." Once their orgasms subsided, the two lovers kissed deeply, their hands gently caressing Pearl's belly as new life began within her. The two lovers held each other's spare hand in a loving grasp. Ash whispered, "Boy or girl?" Pearl giggled, "A boy this time... I'm sure of it." Ash then helped his lover up, eager for a shower before bed. "Want a little extra fun under a warm rain, huh?" Pearl grinned with a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she pulled her startled mate into the bathroom. Moments later, the moans of love and passion combined with the sound of running water filled the hotel room. 

The next morning, Ash gathered everyone into the lobby of the hotel. Lucius gasped, "What the...?! Who is THIS?!" Everyone stared in bewilderment at Pearl's new form. Lucario asked, "The form is similar, but....distinctly more feminine. What is she?" Ash chuckled, "Believe it or not, this is Pearl! Last night, she evolved into this! According to my Pokédex, this evolution is called Genetrix." Ruby stared, "Pearl... Seriously? Is that you?" The Genetrix answered with a familiar voice, "Yes, sis. It's me. And it looks like I'm your big sister for life. Literally!" Lucash grinned, "Wow, Aunt Pearl. You got tall! You're even taller than Dad now!" The Genetrix patted her nephew on the head, "For now, at least." 

Once Ash had explained the events of the previous night and Pearl's imminent pregnancy, everyone proceeded to gather up their belongings for their trip to Pallet Town. Lucario asked, "Where exactly is this town?" Ashton replied, "Directly south from Sla... I mean Pewter City. We will pass through Verda..... I mean Viridian City on the way." Chiara explained, "There is a western path leading out of the city that will take us just a few miles east of Pewter City. And the best new is that it's all downhill." With Chiara as their guide, everyone proceeded to the western gates of Rota. Along the way, Pearl gazed to the sky, silently apologizing to her victims during her days as a member of the Blackflame Six. (I will be the best mother possible..... It's the best I can do to atone...)

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