AGNPH Stories

Rukario Romance by XD385


Green Dusk

Weeks after departing Pallet Town, Ash and his friends and family found themselves once again on the outskirts of fragrant Floaroma Town. Zandria's newborn daughter, Anabel, breathed deeply. "Mmmm... Something smells pretty." Zandria nodded, "That's the smell of flowers. And you're gonna be seeing lots of them here." However, Ash looked ahead with a somber expression. "Hey, guys? Could you go on ahead for a bit? Pearl and I have something to deal with." Pearl nodded in agreement, knowing exactly what he was referring to. The rest of their companions proceeded onward with the exception of Pearl's newborn son, Sol. "Mama? Where are we going?" The tiny Riolu pup asked, having recently perfected speech. The Genetrix cradled him in her arms and replied, "We're going to visit your sister." 

Ash and Pearl headed towards the southwestern edge of Floaroma Town where a lone cherry blossom tree stood. "That just might be the only one of its kind here... Sure makes it easy to spot." Ash muttered as he recognized it. Sol smiled, "So pretty and pink." His mother smiled solemnly, "Indeed it is..." Upon reaching the foot of the tree, they found a familiar stone embedded in the ground. Where there had once been upturned earth was now a bed of various flowers mixed together. Ash and Pearl kneeled before the stone, reading the inscription carved onto it. Pearl whispered, "Hope..."

After removing his hat, Ash reached out and caressed the makeshift tombstone that bore his and Pearl's first child's name. "Hey there, Hope... Miss us?" Pearl gently lowered Sol to the ground, "We want to introduce someone to you. This is your little brother. Sol." The Riolu child sniffed the flowers before his sister's grave. "Hope...smells nice." Ash sighed to himself, (Maybe it's for the best that he doesn't understand yet...) He then closed his eyes, "He's a really sweet little boy. So warm and bright, like the sun. That's why we named him Sol." But Pearl placed her hand on the tombstone, "But...this does not mean we have forgotten you... You're still our little girl... And you always will be... I promise." 

As Ash and Pearl remained silent while their child relaxed around the flowers, the wind began to blow. As if someone had called their names, the two lovers glanced around as they detected a peculiar presence. It seemed that only Sol did not notice. Seconds later, the wind blew around the cherry blossom tree, many of its vibrant pink leaves getting swept up in the gust. Pearl muttered, "It feels like...something familiar..." The leaves began to swirl around the two lovers as a voice seemed to whisper in the wind. "Mama..... Papa..... Sol....." Ash and Pearl could not hold back their tears as they immediately knew who was speaking to them. "I love much..." Ash began to sob as the trail of leaves was carried away by the wind, Pearl burying her face in her hand. "We love you too.... We love you so much..." The two lovers held each other in a warm embrace while weeping in unison, having heard the voice of their daughter for the very first time. But soon, Sol spoke, "Mama? Papa?" When his parents looked down at him, Sol smiled, "I... I think I heard Hope." Ash smiled as his tears flowed, "So did we, Sol. We heard her too..." 

That night, Ash and Pearl relaxed in the shower together. The Genetrix asked, "Ash, do you really think that was Hope we heard today?" Her lover nodded solemnly, "Yeah... I could almost feel her. I'm sure she was reaching out to us." Pearl brought her hands to her chest, remembering holding her daughters lifeless body moments after birth. "Do you really think that I've atoned? That I've redeemed myself for my crimes?" The Trainer held her hand, "Yeah... I think you have. I mean, Hope probably knows what you did. And if she does, she said it herself." He then embraced her tightly, "She loves you, Pearl. She loves you like a daughter should." The Genetrix sobbed, "Ash... Where would I be if I never met you...?" 

Two days later, Ash and his friends and family neared the vast Eterna Forest to the northeast of Floaroma Town. Lucy muttered, "Eterna Forest. Where time stands still. Or was it where time always flows? I can't quite recall..." Chiara replied, "Whether it always flows or remains still should not affect those who pass through. Though as this forest is quite large, it may take some time to pass all the way through." Ash set his Pokétch to its map function, "Eterna City is somewhere northeast. I hope we don't get lost." Lucy smiled, "Kazeerah and me passed through this forest several times in the past. I think I can lead us without any trouble." Ruby nodded, "Then you do that, Lucy. We'll be right behind you." With a confident grin, the Lucario maiden led her companions into the dense forest. 

Upon entering Eterna Forest, Ashton glanced around. "It's rather dark here. The canopy must be quite thick." Ash nodded, "Yeah, it kinda reminds me of the Ilex Forest back in Johto." Sol asked, "Will we be OK, Auntie Lucy?" The Lucario maiden faced her nephew and smiled, "Just leave everything to me." Zandria then asked, "Is this forest particularly dangerous? I never spent much time here, so I wouldn't know." Lucy brought a hand to her chin as she walked, "Well... I think the most danger we can expect are maybe Dustox and Ghost type Pokémon at night." Lucius stepped forward, "I'll protect you should anything threaten us." As the Shiny Lucario walked beside her, Lucy smiled, "Thanks, Lucius. Though, I don't think we'll encounter any..." At that instant, there was a loud shriek from just behind the group. Zandria snarled, "Cheeky little...." She extended her claws and lashed out with Shadow Claw as she turned around, slashing a Misdreavus. Shrieking in pain, the mischievous Ghost type fled into the forest. Lucy muttered, "That was uncommon... They usually aren't active during the day." Ash chuckled, "When it's this dim in the forest, even during daytime, how can they tell the difference?!" 

While trekking through the forest, Ash allowed all his Pokémon out to get some fresh air. Shortly afterwards, Aurora approached her Trainer and asked, "Lord Ash, our destination is Eterna City, is it not?" Ash replied, "Yeah, it is. But you don't have to keep calling me that." The Suicune blushed, "Forgive me. Force of habit. But in any case, the Gym Leader, Gardenia, specializes in the use of Grass type Pokémon. Correct?" Her Trainer nodded, "Yeah, that's what I was told. Why?" Aurora smiled, "I wish to assist you in the battle for the badge. Is that fine with you?"

Ash frowned at Aurora's request. "Well, I wasn't planning on having you battle. You're a Water type, and they don't hold up well against Grass types. I was thinking of letting Gligar or Ember try." However, Aurora smiled, "Do not forget, I have much experience in battle. And, being a Suicune, my overall power is above average. What is more..." She turned and fired an Ice Beam at a tree, leaving the trunk covered in frost. "I am quite skilled in the use of Ice type moves. And plants do not fare well in extreme cold." Ash glanced in surprise at the use of Ice Beam. With a sheepish grin, he muttered, "I totally forgot about that..." He then stroked the Suicune's face, "OK, you got yourself a deal. You're up first when we get to the Gym." Aurora bowed elegantly, "I shall give it my best, Lord Ash. All I ask is that you guide me."

That evening, the group sat around a campfire as Zandria grilled hotdogs over the open fire. Lucius smiled, "Nothing like good old camping cuisine cooked over a fire." The Zangoose placed a hot dog on a bun, "You got that right. Ketchup and mustard are on the side." Anabel asked, "May I have one too, Mama?" Zandria grinned, "OK, but I'll have to chop it down to size for that tiny mouth of yours." While Pearl enjoyed her meal, Ash fed their son by hand. "Open wide, here comes the Wingull." Sol opened his mouth as wide as he could and chomped down on the hotdog. Meanwhile, Ruby chatted with Rukaria. "So, any sign of your heat returning?" The blind Lucario maiden shook her head, "Not yet. It can take months for a heat cycle to begin." Ruby asked, "Are you sure its not menopause?" At this, Rukaria glared at her with her pale eyes, "Are you saying I'm getting old?" Ruby chuckled nervously, trying to laugh her way out of her predicament. 

Within the Team Galactic headquarters in Veilstone City, Cyrus spoke over the phone. "Yes, they are currently within Eterna Forest. They should emerge in no more than three days. Hold your position and be discreet in the capture." A young man replied, "Easier said than done. My men are growing restless and are demanding that we just march into the forest and capture the target directly." Cyrus explained, "That is not advisable. Some of her companions are very powerful and the one who is closest to her is extremely dangerous when provoked. Wait until she is caught alone before capturing her." However, the young man on the other end of the call asked, "But sir, what exactly is it we're supposed to get out of capturing a weaker than average Lucario? I don't see the logic in this."

Cyrus, sensing his subordinate's doubt, explained, "Saturn, that Lucario harbors a special power. A power that can reshape the world into what it should be. As our resources have nearly run dry from paying massive fines, she is our last chance to fulfill Team Galactic's goal. But do not, and I repeat, do NOT capture her within sight or earshot of her companions. Doing so will mean the death of you and your men." Saturn sighed, "All right, I get it. I'll tell them to bite the bullet and show some restraint." Cyrus ended the call and turned to his personal computer. He then opened a video file that showed a top-down view of a creature coated in flames surrounded by five Lucario, four of them holding weapons that glowed blue with their Aura. There was no sound, but the carnage that followed was terrible to behold. In the end, nearly the entire battlefield was painted red in blood. Despite the morbid nature of the footage, Cyrus' face remained sternly emotionless. He muttered, "We have the key. Now all that is needed is the vessel." He then closed the video file and returned to his desk, awaiting contact from Saturn in a few days. 

That night, Lucy watched her companions sleeping peacefully in sleeping bags. All except for Chiara, who was simply too large to fit in one. Her eyes fell upon Ash, but she was surprised to find that he was the only one within the bag. "Strange... Ruby always sleeps with him... Where is she?" The Lucario maiden glanced around, noticing her 'sister' wrapped up in a spare blanket on the other side of the campsite. "She's over there? But why?" But the voice of the Angel of Doom spoke in her mind, "It is most puzzling, is it not? She is the woman he is planning to marry someday, yet she has chosen to sleep alone tonight. Why is that?" Lucy closed her eyes and thought back to Ruby's recent encouragement for her to further her relationship with Ash. Remembering Ruby's words, Lucy walked towards the sleeping Trainer. "It's because...she's giving me a chance..."

Lucy kneeled before Ash and nudged him gently. "Ash... May I ask you something?" When he showed no response, Lucy pinched his nose shut to disrupt his breathing. Ash coughed as he sprung awake, "What the... Lucy?" Nervous, she asked, "May I...make a request?" The Trainer, somewhat annoyed that he had been awakened so abruptly, replied, "Yeah, sure. What is it?" Lucy took a deep breath and asked, "May I....sleep with you tonight?" 

Although too dark for Lucy to see it, Ash blushed a deep red at her request. "You...want to...sleep with me?" Lucy nodded, "Not in the sexual term. I...just want to be near you. And it's...rather cool out tonight..." The Trainer nodded, "Sure, I don't mind. There's enough room for both of us." He held the bag open to allow Lucy to slide in. Once comfortable, Lucy smiled, "It's much warmer in here... Thank you, Ash." He replied, "Anytime, Lucy." But she soon blushed as she felt Ash embrace her from behind. "Lucy... I...have something difficult to say..." Sensing the nervousness in her friend's voice, Lucy gulped, "Um... I'm listening." He whispered, "I... I just want to say... You're precious to me... And I'm really glad I found you back in Hoenn. You're one of the sweetest friends I've ever had. And..." He then brought his lips to her left ear and spoke quietly, "Don't take this the wrong way, but....I....I love you..." 

Lucy froze in utter disbelief as she heard the three words she never imagined would be spoken to her. (Ash... You.... I can't believe you just said that...) She quickly pinched herself to ascertain if she was dreaming, which she found that she was not. (It's real... He really said...) She then asked, "Ash... Are you serious?" The Trainer nodded, "Dead serious. You're one of my most precious friends, Lucy. I love you. And I always want to be there for you." Lucy's only reply was a tiny whimper as she shed tears of joy. As her back was turned, Ash could not tell that she was crying. "Thank you, Ash... You just made my night..." As the two friends fell asleep together, Doom pondered to herself. (Something feels different. Like a twist of fate draws near. What is about to happen?) 

The following morning, Zandria baked waffles for her friends and family. "Got butter, fruit, and syrup if you want any." Anabel and Sol adored the strawberries with their waffles. Chiara added grapes to hers, "At this rate, we should reach Eterna City in two days or so." Ash smiled, "Awesome. I can't wait to see how tough Gardenia is." Soon, Lucy walked over to him. "May I have this seat?" The Trainer chuckled, "What seat? This spot doesn't belong to anyone. You can use this patch of grass if you want." The Lucario maiden giggled as she sat beside her friend, "I suppose you have a point there. But thanks." 

As they ate their waffles, Lucy whispered to Ash, "When we get to Eterna City, will we go out for dinner together?" The Trainer winked, "As always. You know of any good spots in town to grab a bite?" Lucy smiled, "To be honest, I'm in the mood for Chinese. And I know of a modest little restaurant specializing in that type of cuisine. I don't think we need to dress up for it though." Ash nodded, "Sounds good to me. Been a while since I had any rice dishes." Lucy giggled, a faint blush on her face. 

After breakfast, everyone decided to take a break from the trek through Eterna Forest and relax. Lucius challenged Ashton to a sword duel while Rukaria watched with great interest. Ash and Pearl watched Sol climbing a tree. "They say curiosity killed the cat, but does it apply to Riolu?" Ash chuckled, knowing that his son was fairly high off the ground. They did not have to wait long for the answer as Sol lost his balance on a branch and fell toward the ground. "Sol! Mommy's coming!" Pearl dashed for her son, but froze as he began to float in the air. "What the..." 

Knowing that it was the work of a Psychic type move, Ash smiled, "Thanks, Chiara!" But the Lugia replied, "I didn't do anything!" Pearl spoke up, "I... I think I'm doing this... But how? Lucario aren't Psychic type Pokémon!" As the young mother took her child into her hands, Ash explained, "But you're not a Lucario anymore. You're a Genetrix now." Shadow added, "Actually, Lucario can learn some Psychic type moves with training, but I know for a fact Pearl never learned any." Ash then flipped open his Pokédex and cycled through the list until he found Genetrix's entry. "If anything has the answer for that, this does." Upon selecting the type details, the Pokédex spoke, "Genetrix. Element type is combination of Steel and Psychic." 

Pearl stood aghast as she heard Ash's Pokédex speak her new element type. "Steel and...Psychic?" Shadow smiled, "Just because you have a stronger mind now doesn't mean your body is weaker. I'm sure you can still do plenty of damage with your bare fists." Pearl nodded and set Sol down before taking a step back. "One way to find out." She then punched the ground as hard as she could. Sure enough, she left a significant hole in ground. "Yup. I've still got my strength." Ash asked, "But since you can use Psychic type moves more easily, how about you practice with them?" Chiara added, "Being a Psychic type myself, I may be able to tutor you in how to use them." Pearl grinned, "It sounds like a fun challenge. I'll take you up on your offer, Chiara." 

Ash decided to let out all of his Pokémon while trekking through the forest to let them get some exercise and fresh air. As usual, Ember stayed close to Lucash while they played. But some time later, Ruby pulled Ash into the nearby trees without the rest of the group noticing. Ash asked, "What's up?" Ruby tapped her ear, "Sorry, but I needed to get some distance between us and them. Lucario have good ears, you know." Ash looked over his shoulder, "Oh, right. A private conversation. Anyway, what's up?" Ruby replied, "I just want to ask you some things. How are things going with Rukaria and Lucy?" After chuckling a little while blushing, Ash explained, "Things are going good. Chiara healed her womb, so she can have kids again. I'm just waiting for her to go into heat." The young mother smiled, "Good to hear. She really has gone through a lot of pain. Be good to her. And what about Lucy? Have you broken the ice yet?" 

Half-expecting Ruby to inquire about his growing bond with Lucy, Ash blushed, "It's coming along slowly..." But Ruby was quick to notice the shade of red in her lover's cheeks and smirked slyly. "Ooh, I see you're blushing. Are you starting to fall for her?" Ash grumbled, "Cut it out!" But Ruby asked, "Tell me the truth, Ash. Do you love her?" The Trainer sighed, "To be honest...... Yeah. I do." Ruby clasped her hands together, "Oh, honey... I'm so proud of you. I knew it would happen someday. She needs you, after all. Now, did you tell her yet?" Ash frowned, "No... I don't know if I should." The Lucario asked, "W...why not?" With a solemn expression, Ash replied, "I don't think she cares about me like that."

Ruby never expected to hear Ash tell her that Lucy did not love him in an intimate manner in the least. "Ash... What are you saying?" Ash sighed, "Well... Back in Oreburgh City, I found out she had asked Shadow to be her boyfriend. And she even told me that she prefers same-specie couples. That means she would choose a Lucario over me any day. So... I have my doubts about her actually returning my feelings if I ever confessed." However, Ruby glared at her lover, "And yet, she has been going out with you on dates. Right?"

Noticing the hostile tone of Ruby's voice, Ash took a step back. Ruby explained, "What is a date with a boy and girl anyway? A private night together to bond, right? If she actually chooses to go with you, doesn't that mean something? She even came to me because she was worried I may get jealous. I encouraged her to go ahead with her plans. And that's not all." Ruby raised her voice slightly, "She was there when Ho-Oh brought you back! She allowed you to bathe with her and more! She even went searching for you on the night you died!" She then growled, "And don't forget, Ash Ketchum. She chose you over Kazeerah. She would rather be with you than her own sister. Why would she part ways with her sister to be with you? Because she loves you! That's why!"

Having been thoroughly scolded, Ash felt a twinge of guilt in his heart. Remembering everything Ruby spoke of, he also recalled when Lucy told him the truth about her, the Lucario exile Outcast, and the reasons leading up to her departure from the Skydiamond clan. (And...she trusted me with the knowledge of her darkest secret... She never even told Kazeerah, but she told me...) Ash rubbed his eyes as tears began to form. Ruby asked, "So, did I get through to you?" Her lover nodded with a grateful smile, "Yeah. And you're right, Ruby. She... I think you're right. She's shy, so that must be why she hasn't come out and said it yet. I guess I just had a moment of weakness. I'm glad you were here for me." He then kneeled and embraced his lover, "Thanks, Ruby. I love you." The Lucario smiled as she kissed him, "No problem, dear. I love you too." Once Ash stood up, Ruby asked, "Are you gonna tell her once we catch up to them?" Ash grinned nervously, "Um... Not yet. I'll tell her when I muster up the confidence for it." Ruby giggled, "Looks like her shyness rubbed off on you a little." Ash looked the other way with his arms crossed, "Eh... Maybe..."

After no more than three days of wandering the vast Eterna Forest, Ash and his companions emerged from the eastern borders to see a city on the horizon. Eager to earn his second Sinnoh League badge, Ash broke into a run. "He certainly wastes no time in reaching for his goals." Chiara muttered, amused by the Trainer's passion. The rest of the group chased after him, trying to avoid losing sight of him. Less than an hour later, the group stood just outside Eterna City. Ash grinned, "Well, here we are. Eterna City." Lucy added, "This is a very old city that has been around for a long time. Even though many of the buildings are modern, there are still many signs pointing to its history." Pearl spoke while cradling Sol in her arms, "Before you challenge the Gym, we should stop by the Pokémon Center. Right?" Ash nodded, "Good idea, Pearl. I want to make sure Aurora's ready for this."

Atop a nearby building, a man with blue hair curved upward at the sides that gave the impression of horns or cat ears observed the newcomers with the aid of binoculars. "Heh... Right on time. And the Lucario with the right ear drooping forward is with them too." A young man with sea green hair in a bowl cut style wearing a futuristic uniform of gray and black looked through his own pair of binoculars to confirm the claim. "Finally! I've been bored stiff waiting! Let's get 'em, Commander Saturn!" The man with blue hair shouted, "You moron! Did you even see the company she's keeping?!" Saturn looked back through his binoculars, "I was curious of the reason the boss told us to not capture her directly. And now I know. Six Lucario, one Riolu, two Zangoose, a guy using one heck of a sword, and a Lugia. A freaking Lugia!" Saturn then pointed down at the distant group, "How're we supposed to beat that?! Even if we have them outnumbered, there's no way I'm taking chances with a Lugia!" Saturn's subordinate gulped, "Oh... Now I get it." Saturn then smirked, "Don't worry. We'll get a chance. I want you guys keeping tabs on the entire group while they're here. Once the target is a good distance away from the rest with no more than one of her companions near her, we act."

A short while later, Ash and his companions stood before the Eterna Gym. Lucius asked, "Hey, why is there ivy growing all over the outside of the building?" Rukaria chuckled, "I guess it's their way of proving that they specialize in Grass type Pokémon here." Ash raised his hands as he shook his head, "And I thought the Celadon Gym idolized Grass types too much. They made the roof look like a Gloom's top, but this place is covered in REAL greenery!" He then reached for his belt and took Aurora's Safari Ball in hand, "I'm not expecting this to be easy." He then faced Ashton, "I'll guide her the best I can, Ashton. If things start to look bad, I'll forfeit the match." The viscount smiled gratefully, "I trust you, Ash. After seeing how well you guided Shadow in your match against Roark, I know she's in good hands." 

Upon entering the Eterna Gym, everyone found that the entire layout was constructed like an indoor garden complete with grass, trees, bushes, and flowers. Ash smiled, "The Celadon Gym is like a greenhouse. It's cool to see this Gym isn't more of the same. I just hope Gardenia doesn't have a Gloom." The group proceeded further into the building, searching for what may be the main battlefield for official matches. They soon came to a large room with a square-shaped garden in the middle with trees and bushes at the sides but mostly empty in the middle. "Is this the spot?" Ashton asked while glancing around. A young woman's voice replied, "You got that right! Welcome, challengers!" Everyone glanced up, seeing the source of the voice sitting on one of the tree branches. "I'm Gardenia. So, who's here for a badge?" She jumped down from the branch, her short green cloak fluttering for a second as she fell. Ash pointed his thumb at himself, "That would be me. Ash Ketchum!" 

Gardenia gazed at her challenger intently for a moment, a whimsical smirk on her face. "Ash Ketchum, huh? I heard some good things about you from Roark. When he told me you beat him with just one Pokémon, I couldn't wait to see you in action myself. Are you gonna use the Lone Wonder strategy on me too?" Ash chuckled, "I don't know about that, but I've got a lot of confidence in the first Pokémon I'm sending out." Gardenia smirked, "Now I'm really excited! Let's get started!" Ashton drew his sword, "I shall act as the judge, if you would allow it." The viscount ran to the sidelines and held the Flamberge in his hands vertically as Gardenia returned to the far side of the battlefield. Once the rest of his companions stepped off the grass and to a safe distance away, Ash enlarged his Safari Ball to functioning size. "Let's do it, Aurora."

Ash tossed his Safari Ball into the air. A second later, it burst open in a flash of light and shower of glittering sparks. Gardenia stared in disbelief, "Hold on... A Suicune?! And that mane... That's not an ordinary one!" Aurora smiled, "Indeed, I am. I shall be your first opponent." Ash smiled, "Are you ready for this, Aurora?" The Suicune nodded, "I am, Lord Ash. I shall follow your command." But Gardenia grinned as she reached for a Poké Ball, "Don't be so sure of yourself. Sure, Suicune may be pretty strong, but my Pokémon have the advantage." She then threw a Poké Ball, which burst open to reveal a small turtle-like creature with two tiny leaves on its head. 

"Whoa, I don't recognize that." Ash spoke as he pulled out his Pokédex. The device spoke, "Turtwig, the Tiny Leaf Pokémon. Its shell is made of earth and when it absorbs water, it becomes harder." The Trainer smiled, "It must be the Sinnoh region's version of Bulbasaur. But we can take it!" Aurora stood ready, her hexagonal crystal shimmering as sunlight shone in through the windows along the upper walls. Ashton raised his sword, "This is an official duel for the....the..." He then glanced over at Gardenia and asked, "Pardon me, but what is the name of the badge for this Gym?" As their companions hit the floor with a crash out of embarrassment, Gardenia replied, "It's the Forest Badge." The viscount cleared his throat, "Yes, the Forest Badge! Up to three Pokémon may take part per Trainer. There is no time limit. Let the battle commence!" 

Gardenia pointed towards Aurora, "Let's get started, Turtwig! Start with a Bite!" As instructed, the small tortoise ran towards the Suicune with jaws open. "Such speed! Unexpected for such a portly creature!" Unable to evade entirely, Aurora yelped as the surprisingly heavy Turtwig chomped down on her deep blue mane. "You cheeky...!" Ash called out, "Just blow him away with Gust!" Aurora smirked, "Gladly." At that instant, a powerful whirlwind was conjured up around the Suicune, the Turtwig not able to hold on. Upon releasing its grip, the Turtwig was tossed into the air and landed with a surprisingly loud thud. Gardenia grinned, "Don't make this too easy for us! Turtwig, use Razor Leaf!" The tortoise quickly regained its footing and launched a flurry of sharp leaves from the two leaves atop its head. Ash pointed, "Aurora, counter with Bubblebeam!" The Suicune took a quick breath and blew a cloud of bubbles into the flurry of leaves. For each leaf, a bubble collided with it and burst explosively, knocking the leaves away.

Ash grinned, "Ya see?! We can take anything you dish out!" But Gardenia smirked, "I see I need to stop holding back. Turtwig, wrap this up with Leaf Storm!" At Gardenia's words, a flurry of leaves began to swirl around the tortoise. Aurora gulped, "This could be a problem..." But Ash called out, "Don't be afraid, Aurora! Stop it with Whirlpool!" The Suicune gasped, "Whirlpool.... Of course!" She sprayed a torrent of water from her mouth, creating a large puddle at the Turtwig's feet. A second later, the water engulfed the tortoise in a massive liquid cyclone! The exasperated Turtwig could be seen being carried in the current. Gardenia gazed upwards, "You've gotta be kidding me!" Ash then pointed, "Checkmate! End it with Ice Beam!" Aurora nodded and launched a beam of frigid energy into the whirlpool, freezing it instantly. The Turtwig could be seen in the frozen structure, unable to move. Ashton pointed his sword towards Ash, "Turtwig is unable to battle. Round 1 goes to the challenger!" 

Gardenia recalled her Turtwig out of the frozen vortex, though the ice remained where it was. "Gotta hand it to you, Ash! I never imagined someone would have the guts to try and intercept my Turtwig's Leaf Storm just before it could launch!" Ash chuckled, "Yeah, those really powerful moves usually have a slight delay before being used." Gardenia nodded as she reached for another Poké Ball, "True, true. But don't think it's over yet! I'm just getting started!" She threw the ball, which burst open to reveal a small round pink Pokémon with what seemed to be an even smaller clone of itself hanging from the leafy stem atop its head. Ash once again pulled out his Pokédex , which spoke, "Cherubi, the Cherry Pokémon. Cherubi's attached small ball holds the nutrients needed for its evolution." Ash asked, "Then doesn't that little ball on the side work like an evolution stone?" Gardenia nodded, "When you put it that way, I guess it does. But it only works on Cherubi. But enough questions!" Ash frowned, "Watch yourself, Aurora. This reminds me of a Bellsprout I battled during the Indigo Plateau championship. Just because it's small and hasn't evolved yet doesn't mean it's a pushover!" 

Gardenia pointed towards Aurora, "You're very right about that, Ash! Size doesn't matter! Use Magical Leaf!" The Cherubi launched a flurry of sparkling leaves at Aurora. "That's just a souped-up Razor Leaf! Aurora, use Bubblebeam again!" Aurora nodded and unleashed a cloud of explosive bubbles. However, the leaves kept going and struck her hard, knocking the Suicune to the ground. Gardenia laughed as her Cherubi began to draw in sunlight for a Solarbeam, "That's a good theory, but Magical Leaf is a type of attack that NEVER misses!" Ash gulped, (That Solarbeam will be lights out for sure... What to do... Oh!) He then called out, "Aurora! Stand up and get ready!" Although Ashton was frightened that it seemed Ash was setting Aurora up for certain doom, the Suicune seemed perfectly calm as she regained her footing. "Good fight, Ash! It's not often I get to K.O. a legendary Pokémon!" Gardenia laughed as the Solarbeam neared completion. But the Trainer smirked, "Who said anything about Aurora getting beaten?" Gardenia gasped, "Wait... What do you mean?!" Just as the Solarbeam was fired, Ash shouted, "Mirror Coat!" The hexagonal crystal on Aurora's forehead glowed brightly as a translucent wall appeared before her. Gardenia screamed, "NO WAY!!! SUICUNE CAN LEARN MIRROR COAT?!" As if to answer her, the Solarbeam bounced right off the Mirror Coat and exploded into the Cherubi with shocking force. The tiny Grass type was sent flying past Gardenia and slammed into the wall, completely out cold. Ashton breathed a sigh of relief, "Cherubi is unable to battle. Round 2 goes to the challenger!" 

Gardenia grumbled under her breath as she recalled Cherubi, "It's all because legendary Pokémon are so rare that we have no idea what kind of moves they can use. If I had known Suicune could use Mirror Coat, I would've had a way around it." Gardenia reached for her third Poké Ball, "OK, you've got me against the wall. But this is where I really shine!" The ball burst open, revealing a bipedal Pokémon with what seemed to be a masked face and elegant white hair on its head. It had a cape of sorts composed of long leaves and a red and blue flower on its hands. Once again, Ash pulled out his Pokédex. "Roserade, the Bouquet Pokémon. Roserade is the evolved form of Roselia. It lures enemies with its sweet aroma, and attacks with dancer-like elegance." Ash smiled, "Cool! I never knew Roselia could evolve!" Gardenia replied, "That means that it's even stronger too! Let's do it! Make or break time!" 

Ash called out, "Let's make this quick! Use Ice Fang!" Aurora dashed towards the Roserade, failing to notice its eyes glowing green. Gardenia smirked, "Grass Knot." At her words, Aurora felt her forepaws being held in place. "Wha...oomph!" The Suicune fell flat on her chest, her feet having been tripped by a few blades of grass tied together. "Magical Leaf!" Unable to climb to her feet fast enough, Aurora felt the full force of the sharp leaves against her face. She quickly jumped back, stinging from the scratches on her face. Ash shouted, "Quick! Use Ice Beam!" But just before Aurora could fire, Roserade countered with Flash. Unable to see, Aurora's attack missed and struck the wall behind Gardenia, coating it with a layer of ice. Once Ash had regained his vision, he gasped, "Aurora, heads up!" The Suicune glanced up just in time to see a fiery Weather Ball plummet into her face. 

Aurora screamed as her face was scorched, her paws trying to sooth the pain any way she could. Ashton panicked as he watched his lover suffer. He turned to Ash and shouted, "Ash, that's enough! Please!" Ash too felt guilt seeing his loyal and beautiful companion in such agony. "I..... I forfe..." But before Ash could complete the sentence, Aurora called out, "Do not say it, Lord Ash! I am not finished yet!" The Suicune climbed to her feet, her face marred with first degree burns. She glared at her Trainer, "I will defeat my opponent and earn you that badge. I swear." Ash could only mutter, "Aurora..." She then faced Ashton, "Please, dear. Have faith in me." Ashton, holding back tears, nodded silently. But while Aurora spoke to Ashton, Ash noticed the frozen funnel of ice behind Roserade. "Heh. I see a way through." 

Gardenia smiled, "I applaude your resolve, Ash. But this ends here." The Roserade seemed to be drawing sunlight into the flowers on its hands. Ash smirked, (She knows Aurora will use Mirror Coat. So she probably has an idea to counter it. But she doesn't know about THIS!) He then shouted, "Aurora! Use Extrasensory on the Whirlpool!" Gardenia gasped, "Wait... On what?!" Aurora smirked as she sent a telekinetic pulse towards the towering ice funnel, shattering it into many sharp fragments. The fragments remained airborne as Aurora kept her focus on them. She then glared at her opponents, "You should know by now.... The Northern Wind can be harsh and unforgiving!" Ash then pointed at the Roserade, who had just turned around to see the floating ice shards. "You know what to do now, Aurora!" The Suicune called out, "Behold! Artic Punishment!" At her words, the entire swarm of ice fragments shot down towards the Roserade.

There was a loud shattering sound as the countless shards of ice collided with the ground around the Roserade, glittering 'sand' flying into the air. A moment later, an unconscious Roserade lied facedown with a few ice fragments embedded into its body. Gardenia reached out to it, "Is... Is she...?" Aurora shook her head, "Do not fear. I made certain it would not be fatal." Gardenia breathed a sigh of relief as she recalled the Roserade back into its Poké Ball. Ashton was equally relieved as he pointed his sword towards Ash. "This battle is over. The victor of this duel is the challenger!" Ash ran out to Aurora and firmly embraced her around the neck, "Aurora... Thank you." He then placed a gently kiss on her muzzle prompting a blush from the Suicune. She soon smiled, "It was an honor, my lord. And a refreshing experience." 

Gardenia approached Ash as his companions gathered around him and Aurora to congratulate them. "Man, when Roark said you are one hot shot Trainer, he knew what he was talking about. I usually don't get that fired up during a battle." She then handed him a green badge that seemed to consist of three squares on an angle with the two smaller ones connected to the larger square's bottom sides. She then grinned, "I'll let Maylene and Fantina know you're the real deal." Ash then applied a burn ointment to Aurora's face, "We earned this together, didn't we?" The Suicune smiled, "Indeed, we did." 

That evening, everyone went their separate ways to explore the historical Eterna City at their own leisure. However, just like every first night after their arrival in a town or city, Ash and Lucy proceeded to the closest restaurant they could find. Lucy pointed, "Right over there." Ash inhaled deeply, "Mmmmm, I can smell the egg rolls now." The location Lucy led her date to was a humble Chinese restaurant. Its small interior indicated that most customers likely ordered carryout instead of eating within the restaurant itself. Ash smiled, "I can see why you said casual dress was OK. It doesn't look too pricey." Lucy giggled, "Easy on the stomach and on the wallet." 

Upon entering, Ash and Lucy found simple oriental chandeliers hanging from the ceiling with what seemed to be jade ornaments hanging from them. However, it was difficult to confirm if they were real jade or plastic. Ash took a menu and sat in a booth with Lucy by his side. "You want some egg rolls?" Lucy nodded, "That sounds lovely. And maybe some wonton soup. As for the main course... Perhaps pork fried rice?" Ash nodded, "OK. I think...I'll go with snow peas beef." The Trainer closed the menu, approached the counter, and placed their orders. 

Minutes later, Lucy sipped her soup slowly while Ash munched on an egg roll. "Chinese food always tastes pretty exotic. How's the soup?" Ash asked, wiping some sweet and sour sauce from his chin. Lucy smiled, "Warm and satisfying." She then passed him a bottle of soy sauce. "Thanks, Lucy. But I don't need it. Plenty of sauce is already on my dish." Lucy blushed, "Oops. I saw some rice came with it, so...yeah." Ash replied by patting her on the shoulder, "No problem. That leaves plenty for you." But as the two friends ate, Lucy sighed to herself. (Simple chitchat... Eating together... Just the two of us...) She then closed her eyes with a blush on her face, (It's almost like we're married...) 

At the end of their meal, Ash and Lucy broke open their fortune cookies. Ash read his fortune to himself. (Be patient. What you seek will soon be within your grasp.) The Trainer blushed deeply, remembering what he had planned to tell Lucy upon returning to the hotel they were staying in. However, Lucy's fortune was direr in nature. (Be on guard. Potential danger will be near soon.) Ash soon noticed Lucy's worried expression and asked, "What's wrong? Something creep you out?" The Lucario maiden chuckled reassuringly, "Oh... Nothing. Just a silly prediction that probably doesn't mean anything." Ash smirked, "Yeah. Even if someone does come after you, I'll protect you. Remember?" Lucy smiled warmly, "Thank you... I haven't forgotten your promise." 

Ash and Lucy left the restaurant and headed back to the hotel they had chosen to stay in. However, a pair of Team Galactic operatives were watching their every move from atop a nearby building. One spoke into a mouthpiece, "Commander Saturn, the target and her escort are returning to the ambush point. Are you in position?" Saturn replied, "Yes, we're ready to intercept them. What about the others? How close are they?" The other operative spoke over his mouthpiece, "The closest of their companions is five city blocks. And they seem none the wiser." Saturn smirked, "Excellent. Contact me if anything... What? Now?! OK, fine! Hurry up and go! But if you don't finish in time, we'll be leaving without you." One of the Team Galactic grunts asked, "Um...sir? What was that about?" Saturn grumbled, "Just one of my men having to run to the bathroom. In any case, continue to monitor the others at all times and hurry to the rendezvous point to the east. Once we have what we came for, we need to pull out FAST." The grunt cut the connection and began to pack up his gear with his colleague. 

After riding the elevator up to the floor their rooms were on, Ash and Lucy stopped just outside the door to one of the rooms. Lucy gazed up at her date and smiled, "That was another great time for me, Ash. Thank you." The Trainer replied, "It was a good time for me too, Lucy. I really enjoyed it." But he soon blushed, "Um... Lucy? I...have something important to tell you." The Lucario maiden's right ear perked up slightly, "Yes?" Ash took a deep breath, (This is it... I'm gonna be true to myself.) He then looked down at Lucy and gulped, "I've been putting a lot of thought into this. And I know we've been through a lot together." Lucy nodded, "That's right. It's been nearly a year since we first met. Hoenn, Kanto, and now Sinnoh. I'm grateful that you stumbled across me, even if it was by chance." But Ash held her hand between both of his, "Yeah, but that's not what I was going to say..." Lucy could see the hesitation in his eyes, as if he was trying to force himself to say something very important to him. (Those eyes... Is he...really...?) Ash gathered his courage and muttered, "Lucy... I'm not going to hide it anymore. I... I lo...GRAAAH!!!" 

Ash quivered as he was struck by a Thunder Wave from behind. Lucy gasped in fright, "Ash?! What happened?!" A young man's voice replied, "We are what just happened." Once Ash collapsed to the floor, Lucy's view was no longer obstructed. Standing a fairly short distance behind Ash were two men clad in futuristic-looking uniforms with a Drowzee in front of them. The man with sea green hair smirked, "That specialized training paid off in the end." Lucy screamed, "What did you do to him?!" The man with blue hair explained, "That was just a Thunder Wave. He'll be fine, but he's in no condition to move right now. But that's beside the point. You're coming with us, Angel of Doom."

Lucy took a step back at the mention of the demon that slept within her psyche. (How do they know about her...?) Saturn smirked wickedly at Lucy's obvious fear and explained, "Surprised that someone from outside the Skydiamond clan knows about it? We went through a great deal of trouble to get that information from the clan's archives without them finding out about it. We need your help, and we're not taking no for an answer." Ash groaned as he tried to look up at Lucy, "What're...they talking about?" But the Lucario maiden replied, "It's not important. But..." She then took a defensive stance as a determined glare covered her face, "I won't let you hurt Ash!" However, Saturn chuckled, "So you CAN fight without using moves. But we're running short on time. No telling what the Skydiamond clan will do if they find out about this. Drowzee, knock her out." Before Lucy could react, she fell into a deep slumber from Hypnosis. Saturn then tossed a Heal Ball at the sleeping Lucario and watched as she was sucked in. Surprisingly, the ball locked without shaking once. "Whoa. How can something this weak be worth the boss's time? I've seen Magikarp resist harder than that!" As Saturn picked up the ball and fled with his partner, Ash yelled, "Bring her back! I'll find you! And when I do... You'll be sorry!" But he soon sobbed, "I'm sorry, Lucy... I failed you." 

Nearly twenty minutes later, Lucius stepped off the elevator and turned to face Ash's direction. "What the... Ash?!" When the Shiny Lucario ran to his friend's side, he asked, "What's wrong? Why are you just lying down in the hall?" Ash growled, "They took her... They took Lucy!" Lucius gasped, "What?! My sister?! Who?!" The Trainer groaned as he struggled to move, "I didn't see them! They zapped me with a Thunder Wave from behind! But... I did see one of them when he stepped past me..." No sooner had he said that, the door to the restroom opened a short distance behind Lucius. "Hooo... No more ramen and calzone in one day..... Huh?" Ash and Lucius stared at the man who was also staring at them in a moment of awkward silence. Ash's eyes scanned his uniform, "Those boots and those gloves... Yeah! They're a lot like the ones worn by the one I saw! He's with them!" Startled, the Team Galactic grunt turned to run. But before he could even reach the end of the hall, Lucius zoomed by him and drew his sword. As he raised his sword's tip to the grunt's throat, the man froze in fear. Lucius glared at the man and growled without moving at all, "You've got some explaining to do. And you better start talking if you wanna stay alive. Where is my sister?!" 

Saturn and his subordinate ran frantically for the eastern edge of Eterna City. Once clear of its borders, they came to a helicopter that was on the verge of take off with three other Team Galactic grunts inside it. One shouted over the noise of the rotor blades, "Did we do it?!" Saturn replied, "Yeah! But that guy with the weak stomach couldn't make it! Get us outta here!" The helicopter quickly became airborne once everyone was strapped in their seats and began to fly east, the sun setting over the horizon in the west. 

Back at Team Galactic headquarters, Cyrus received a call from Saturn. "Was the operation successful?" Saturn's voice replied, "Yes, it went off without a hitch. Had to leave a man behind due to a long bathroom break, but we couldn't risk it with the target's companions in town." Cyrus then asked, "And the target. She is unharmed?" The blue-haired commander replied, "Yes, I made certain she wasn't hurt. Knocked her out with Hypnosis and nothing more. Even used a Heal Ball to insure she'll be awake by the time we arrive. Expect us to set down in around two hours." Cyrus smirked coldly, "Well done. I shall make the necessary preparations. As soon as you return, get out front with our main forces just in case the one who was left behind is interrogated. We cannot afford to allow any hostile forces access to our headquarters until the target has agreed to assist us." Saturn nodded, "Understood. Saturn out."

Cyrus turned to his personal computer and opened a familiar video file titled 'Proof of Betrayal'. He paused it at the start and waited at his desk. He then chuckled slightly, "At last...The Angel of Doom will be mine... Everything flawed will come to an end..."

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