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Thread: Golden Light, Voltaic Strike (AdvanceShipping)

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    Default Golden Light, Voltaic Strike (AdvanceShipping)

    Oh yeah, it's the idiot that brought you the pwnsomeness of After Hoenn: The Journey of Faith, and the mysterious maker of A Forgotten Legend and Shattered Sword. Guess what? I'm back, and this time, we're doing the story a little differently.

    Crowd around, because a story unlike anything else is about to begin! Again!

    Golden Light, Voltaic Strike

    Rated PG-13 for alcohol and sexual themes.

    Ages-

    Ash Ketchum: 28
    May Birch: 27
    Max Birch: 22
    Brock Harrison: 33
    Sarah Birch: 5


    Morph One- Reunion



    It had been a while since he had stopped traveling with the others, wanting to pursue different goals than May, Brock, and Max. It had been a while since he had been home, but he had just wanted a break. A break that was standing at two years, with no sign of stopping. Ever since the marriage had fallen through, it had just been him and Pikachu, his best friend.

    Ash hadn’t changed much since his days as a youthful, excited trainer. His clothes had gone through an alteration, he couldn’t be expected to wear that ridiculous garb forever, could he? Instead of the sleeveless hood he had once worn, a plain yellow shirt fluttered lightly in the wind, his muscular limbs seeing through the cloth. A pair of black pants hung baggily on his waist, with two dark sneakers. He wasn’t badly dressed for a trainer.

    The hair trailed down his back, embroiled in a ponytail with two knots tied into it. Already, it was on his shoulder blades, always growing larger and larger, like the sinking feeling he normally felt in his stomach. A small chain on his neck, pure silver, had a small ring hanging around it, the last remnant of his life with her. He glanced down at it, breathing deeply.

    “Damn,” he muttered, his fierce black eyes dulling at the sight. It wasn’t as though he didn’t have contact with her, he had to send the stupid check every month, to pay for what he wasn’t allowed to see. Sometimes that was just it about life, it kills you with irony.

    Pikachu sat on his shoulder, the little yellow mouse his eternal companion. Its red cheeks sparked, its beady black eyes staring around them, looking for someone, someones, their friends. Its lightning shaped tail stuck out, giving people from the side the impression that a sharp object was sticking out of its trainer’s head. It too was older, but still held the spark that Ash had long since forgotten.

    “So, she’s gonna be here is she?” he asked, looking up at the atrium’s sign, proclaiming Pokemon Contest Championships, in broad, red letters. “Well, I hope she brought Sarah. Shouldn’t be leaving her at home alone.” Shuffling his feet, he made his way through the doors, entering the Contest’s main arena.

    Almost at once, bright lights dazzled him, colors swirling around him. He passed through the crowds circling around the battles, dodging through the traffic on the floor. There are too many people here, he thought, yawning slightly, already getting bored. “Sure she’ll be here Pikachu?” he asked, turning to his partner.

    “Pi!” it squeaked, confirming what Ash had said. Its eyes were already scanning the floor, searching for any familiar faces in the crowds. She would be here, that was true, but since it was the Contest Festival, there was a good chance that the others might be here, supporting her. After all, he was the one that hurt her, not the other way around.

    “Let’s get something to drink,” Ash muttered, dodging through the swarm of people around him. What is this, a nerd convention? He ignored the thought, remembering that he himself came here every year, even if it didn’t do a bit of good to help him. “I’m thirsty.”

    Pikachu nodded, and Ash made his way through the public, careful not to let people recognize him. He preferred his privacy, one of the main reasons he kept such little contact with everyone, he didn’t want the paparazzi after him, not again. It had taken a year to ditch them. Now, with his new look, he stood a chance at blending in, without a name.

    He pushed open the bar doors, one of his safe havens. Ignoring the dusty atmosphere, he settled himself into a bar stool at the front of the establishment, making eye contact with no one. At least twenty drunks were inside, slurring in their own misery. Ash didn’t want to know, he had enough misery in his life. Pikachu climbed off, getting onto the table in front of its trainer.

    “Beer,” Ash muttered, as the barkeep walked past the counter. “Now.”

    The keep, a young man with an eye patch, glanced him up and down, before going next to the register, grabbing a mug as he did so. Raising the tap, he poured a draft of cool amber liquid, sending foam all round the cup’s tip. Coughing away from the cup, he shoved it down the shiny surface of the counter, before it was caught by the man.

    “Five bucks,” the one-eyed man muttered, reaching for a cigarette from under the counter. Ash passed him the money as he lit the thing, blowing smoke into the air.

    “You know, that’s bad for you,” Ash replied, tipping the tankard back to take a long draught from the beer.

    “Yeah, the alcoholic tells the smoker what he does is bad,” the barkeep said, chuckling at the irony.

    “I’m no alcoholic, I just like the taste,” Ash sighed, setting the drink down, over half of its contents gone. “What’s going on today?” he asked, changing the subject. He looked out the window to the rest of the center, filled with contest trainers.

    “Didn’t you hear it out there?” the keep asked, pointing outside with a finger. “We’ve got the championships for the Coordinators today, it’s never a good business day fer me. After all, drinking just makes it tougher to fight.”

    “Guess you’ve got a point,” Ash thought, gazing out of the glass. “It ain’t a good day for me either.”

    ***

    “Uncle Max, I wanna play!” the child said happily, her bright black eyes shining through the crowd of people. Max held fast to her hand, making sure his niece couldn’t get away and get into trouble.

    Why did May pick me for guard duty? he screamed silently, the girl getting behind him and leaping onto his back, begging for a piggyback ride. Already his green shirt was creasing, feet worn from chasing after Sarah. “Hey, think we can sit down for a sec? I’m getting sort of tired.”

    She smiled, as he lifted her onto his shoulders. “Yay Uncle Max!” she squealed with delight, as the man lumbered his way towards a decent place to sit and maybe revive himself from looking after the little girl. Passing through the arenas, Sarah and Max glanced over the various battles going on, watching people win, lose, whatever.

    “Is Momma going to win?” Sarah asked, dropping her head to look at her uncle.

    “She’d better, or we’ll all in trouble,” Max replied, grinning. Scanning the room, he spotted a diner in the corner for the spectators with an open food court. Max followed the surging crowd like a wave, and soon washed up in a small haven of food, without masses of people moving around him like a herd of Pokemon.

    “Here we go Sarah,” he muttered, setting the child down into one of the vacant seats. He felt tired, one of the normal effects of babysitting Sarah, he always felt so old. Having a niece had definitely been one of those things that put gray hairs in a person, but thankfully, the black locks had remained intact, slightly longer then his journey days. His glasses were smaller, more narrow and straight.

    He adjusted the lens, making sure to keep the girl within sight and reach. “You want to eat something?” he asked, checking the court for whatever they had available. “I think they have pizza here.”

    “Pitza!” Sarah said happily, it was always funny to hear her pronounce the word, never getting it right, but always so cute you didn’t care. “Pitza!”

    “Sure thing kid,” Max replied, getting up with her to head for the pizza stand. As they walked, he looked down again to see the little girl, May’s beautiful daughter. Her brown hair was grown out, braided into small pigtails that reached down to her shoulders. But it was probably the eyes that Max noticed the most, dark and black, fierce but gentle.

    They were his eyes, and Max knew well enough not to mention it. Saying Ash’s name near May or Sarah was enough for a death sentence according to his sister. I wonder if she even knows who her father is, he thought sadly, helping her up to choose her meal. No child should be kept away from their father. It was May’s silent revenge against Ash, forbidding him to see his own daughter.

    Times really have changed since it happened…Max’s head drifted off as Sarah’s demanding attention got the better of him, and he turned to watch her devour her plate of cheese and ham pizza. Such a happy child, for all the misery the people around her had shielded her from.

    “Max, what’s up?” The shout made Max turned around to watch as Brock attempted to move through the crowds. The big man grinned, waving as he was cast aside into the food court, where it was easier to move around without being attacked every second by pushing people. He was expelled, but jumped up instantly, from the group, and started to make his way towards the table where Sarah and Max were sitting.

    “You old dog,” Max chuckled, grasping Brock’s hand in welcome. At least one thing hadn’t changed, and that was Brock’s personality. His hair, was if possible, even more spiky then it had been when they had traveled together. Silver was worn on a vest he had on, with black underneath. “Good to see you.”

    “Same buddy!” Brock passed him, and set himself down at the table, next to Sarah. “Sarah, have you been being a good girl for you mom?” he asked, passing her a few chocolates that Max knew he gave to the girl every time he saw them.

    “Yup!”

    “Have you been a good girl for Uncle Max?”

    “Nope,” Max muttered, making Brock laugh, his eyebrows hiding his eyes. “She’s a little demon.”

    “Sarah,” Brock said, faking the usual voice that got Sarah to behave, “say sorry to Uncle Max.”

    Sarah smiled. “Sorry Uncle Max, I’ll be good!” she chirped sweetly, though Max had known her long enough to know the promise would only last an hour at most.

    ***

    “AND THE WIN GOES TO…MAY BIRCH!”

    The announcer blared for everyone to hear, signaling the end of her match. The opponent, a small boy half her age, had already left the arena by the time May recalled Skitty into the Pokeball, placing it once more on the belt clip she carried.

    She smiled, winning was one of the few pleasures that she had not denied herself. She brushed the long strands of brown hair from her eyes, the azure color shining before the otaku surrounding her platform. Dusting off her hands, she made her way out of the arena, heading for the elevator.

    The lower decks, where the people clustered around, were where the battles in the Championship were held. The higher area was reserved for the spectators, who came simply because they loved the growing interest in Contests, and to swarm famous coordinators like her. Her fan mail could have kept a region happily supplied in paper. Sometimes this gets on my nerves, she thought, as the doors closed, taking her to the upper level. Hopefully, Max hadn’t been overrun with guard duty, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble finding them.

    She wore a simple clothing, nothing to draw attention to herself, even though every person in the building knew who she was. Black leather pants, high heels, and a red blouse. Nothing to draw attention, except from…

    “Hey babe,” said someone in the crowd, followed by a massive horde of whistling that soon began to issue from the area. The man who started the catcalling, a large, beefy idiot wearing a shirt with her face on it, grinned through a buckle of horse teeth, his head shining like a silver dollar.

    “Here we go again,” she muttered, rubbing her head. “Which of you do I need to kill for everyone to shut up?” she asked, turning around to face the gathering of sweaty nerds. She cracked her knuckles, she knew how to fight off idiots.

    The one who had spoken, obviously the leader of the flock, stood up, stepping forward to her. His nostrils flared, burning with desire. “Come on baby, we all know that ya ditched that husband of yours, Ash. You look like ya need some loving!”

    “You’re just begging for me to beat you up, aren’t you?” she asked coolly, though secretly burning with rage. “Happy to oblige.” She struck out, swinging her foot and sending the man flying with a kick to the face, knocking him into next week. The crowd parted like a sea as the man shot through it, slamming into a nearby wall.

    “Mention Ketchum’s name to me again,” she growled, her eyes growing fierce, “and you’ll be sorry you ever met me.” Fuming, she turned on her heel and headed for the nearest place to buy a drink. It didn’t take her long to find it either, a small, illegible sign on the front warning minors away. Perfect, she sighed, before making a dash for it, dodging through the crowded walkways. She threw down a person even, to reach the spot. A nice drink was exactly what she needed after that.

    She glanced round the room, seeing only a few people inside, only one person that appeared conscious, sitting next to a half empty tankard. His hair was long, down to his shoulders in a ponytail set in two braids, with a bright yellow shirt, almost golden, on his muscular chest. A sober drunk, but a drunk nonetheless.

    “Mai Tai,” she muttered, resting her elbow on the counter. The dull pain in her heart started up again, brewing up again at the…mentioning of his name. “Damn groupies.”

    “Life sucks, don’t it?” asked the man beside her, his back turned to her. His voice was dull and tired, the voice of a person without a reason for being. “What’s your story?” he asked, taking a sip of his beer.

    “Nothing,” she replied, just as the bartender came with her small drink. “Just the life of a celebrity, marriage, divorce, things like that. You ever get things like that?”

    He chuckled, nodding behind his back. “Used to have a wife, then it sort of fell through. Can’t even see my kid, she doesn’t let me come near the house.”

    “That’s pretty harsh, I do the same thing to my ex,” May answered, heart throbbing with anguish. “But he deserves it, after how much he hurt me.”

    “Don’t you ever think about how he feels, not being able to see his own daughter?”

    “It doesn’t matter,” May retorted, sipping on her drink. “After what he did-” She stopped, turning very slowly, making sure she had heard correctly, towards this stranger. “How do you know I have a daughter?” she asked carefully.

    “She’s my daughter too May,” the man sighed, putting the drink to his lips. “I deserve to be able to see Sarah.”

    “Ash…” May’s voice faltered, as the man swirled around to reveal her former lover, in all his glory. There was a definite difference, for one thing his hair was really long! His eyes! The eyes she used to love, the fierce beauty of the black pools, who she was reminded of every time Sarah smiled, were nothing but dull pits. They barely blinked, she was unsure if it was hatred or sadness.

    “Nice to see you too,” Ash mumbled, raising his glass to her. “To your good health,” he muttered, tipping the glass back, taking a long drought from its contents.

    “What are you doing here?” she asked, feeling a twinge of fear. But Ash wasn’t like those other criminals, he wasn’t a criminal. No matter how much had changed, Ash was just Ash.

    “To see Sarah,” he replied carefully, nodding to her. “That’s why I come every year, to see my daughter. You think I’m here to see you?”

    She stammered, of course he wasn’t there to see her. Not when…“You can’t talk to her,” she retorted stubbornly. “I’ve made that clear with you. So leave.”

    “I’m not bothering anyone here,” Ash shrugged, glancing around the room. “I’ll leave when I see her. I‘m not going to talk to her, so give me that much.”

    He stood up off the stool, and for a moment, May was afraid he might punch her. His face had nothing in it, neither angry nor calm. “Pikachu, let’s get going,” he muttered, and the yellow mouse leapt up from below the counter on his command. Ash looked at her once more, face full of sadness, before he started for the door.

    As he brushed past her, he muttered, “How would you feel, if your own daughter didn’t even know you existed?” he asked, exiting the bar and vanishing into the crowd. May could only stand there, welling in her own sorrow.

    She lowered her head, everything he had said was true. He had been a good father, he had been a good husband. “I’m sorry Ash,” she murmured, feeling a tear coming to her face. “You…we hurt each other so much. And it can’t be taken back. Nothing we say or do can.”

    “Sarah…” she muttered, opening her pack to pay the owner for her drink. Throwing down a few bills, she opened the door and fled from where she saw Ash head.

    ***

    Ketchum,” said a voice from inside his pocket. Ash jumped slightly, checking to make sure that no one had noticed his leg speaking, and slipped his hand down, retrieving the cell phone that he had been given. The small golden device was flashing, signaling that something was wrong.

    Ash ducked into a discrete corner, making sure no one had seen him. He flipped open the phone, putting it to his ear. “This is Ketchum,” he muttered, making sure no one was watching him. “I’m at the location, just like I was ordered. What’s wrong?”

    We’ve received a report that a terrorist is planning to attack the event,” the voice replied. “To deal with this, a second agent is being dispatched to join you. One with the type of firepower to combat a terrorist threat.”

    “You’re sending me a spandex?” Ash asked, feeling slightly annoyed. “Listen, I can handle a terrorist. I don’t need one of your dumb tights showing up. I’ll handle this on my own.”

    You have new orders,” the voice continued, as though he had not spoken. “Orders are to secure a safe passage for Number 0, Gold, into the competition. You will not interfere in his plans or get involved.” The voice paused, sighing, “Try and have some fun Ketchum. I know what you had to give up for us. Do something for yourself for a change.”

    “How nice of you,” he finished, the line cutting dead. He put the communicator back into his pocket, feeling the wave of depression that usually followed. “Just what I need, a damn spandex,” he muttered, looking up at Pikachu. “Ever think I made the wrong choice?” he asked, though he always knew what the answer was.

    “Kachu,” it replied, it didn’t know. Ash stood up, shuffling through the crowds.

    “I gave everything up, and this is the result,” he said, glancing through the happy crowds of people, couples walking to a fro with their children, it almost brought a tear to his eyes, remembering how he and May used to walk like that, Sarah taking her little baby steps in between them. That memory made him smile. It’s only a memory now, he whispered silently, before blending into the crowd, nothing more then a passing stranger.

    ***

    Brock grinned, listening as Max recounted another story from his traveling across the world. “So let me get this straight,” he said, as Max paused for a drink. “You mean that you and her were,” he glanced at Sarah, who was making a mess out of her food, “alone for long periods of time?”

    “That would be correct,” Max grinned, laughing with him. “I’ll tell you all about it later though.”

    “We’re leaving, now.” A voice made Brock and Max turn, to see a haggard May crossing her arms to their left. She looked as though she was about to start crying, her face was flushed.

    “Jeez, what happened to you?” Max asked, looking her up and down. “You lose your match?”

    “I won, now let’s go.” May’s voice sounded urgent, demanding. “Sarah, come with Mommy.”

    “Mommy!” Sarah shouted, jumping from her chair to hug May’s leg. Her mother picker her up, wrapping her in an embrace. “Win Momma?”

    “Yeah,” she replied, feeling her little arms around her neck. “I won honey.”

    “How about we carry this celebration to somewhere away from this crowded place?” Brock asked, a smile on his face. “Good work May.”

    “Thanks,” she answered, setting Sarah down gently on the ground, keeping the girl’s hand in her fingers. “Come on, let’s get going.” Max stood up, and followed his sister and niece to a door in the food court which lead outside. Brock followed, checking out the women as he did so.

    Ash watched as they left, in the crowds of people surrounding him, shrouding him from their sights. He saw the happy face Sarah had made when she saw May, and it pained him inside. She’ll never look at me like that, he thought, walking into the food court behind them, just to get away from the sea of people. I wish she knew me.

    He watched in surprise as Sarah turned around, just before Max, Brock, and May made their way out of the convention center. Her eyes flew around one final time, before they rested on him, for just a split second. His eyes stared at her, and her eyes looked back. Just for that fleeting second, his heart felt happy, even if she didn’t know who he was. Sarah and May vanished behind the door, headed for the world beyond, leaving Ash behind.

    “I love you Sarah,” he muttered sadly, his eyes dark. “I love you May.”

    Pikachu nodded, feeling the pain its trainer felt. “Pi,” it reminded him, pointing to where they had come in, the main atrium to the center.

    “Yeah,” Ash replied, turning from the door, his lost love and daughter leaving his mind. “It’s time to go to work, isn’t it?” Pikachu nodded again, and they vanished once more into the sea of people, blurring into non-existence. Nothing more then a passing shadow, a lingering memory that could not be forgotten, yet could not be remembered. Déjŕ vu, to be seen and dismissed.

    The people of the convention, the Contest Festival, the Championship, continued with their lives. Nothing changed for them, they were perfectly happy. They knew nothing of what was coming, only concerned with enjoying themselves to the fullest. A terror attack was not known to them, not even in their vaguest minds. Only one person knew, and he wasn’t even going to be allowed to stop it.

    Right now though, Ash Ketchum was only concerned with his daughter, wondering how she was, who she was. It was one thing to see your daughter, another to know your daughter. He just wanted to see her, to talk to her, to let her know who he was. Was that so much?

    The life of a PKM agent sure was a bi*ch.
    _____________________________________

    Confused? Good, that means you have no idea how things got this way. One chapter a week will keep you all happy, this is going to be a mini series to boost the moral of theAdvanceShippers! Review if you can, it's good to be back!
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

  2. #2

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    OK... guess I'll review!! I didn't see any mistakes, so... oh. That's a good thing. XD

    “I love you Sarah,” he muttered sadly, his eyes dark. “I love you May.”
    Aw, poor Ash!

    Well, I'm done.

    ~Kitteh

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    Well, well. If it isn't the famous author of "After Hoenn: The Journey of Faith". Power Shot, another of your creations have been born once again. Say, didn't you planned to create the blacksmith fanfic first before creating this new story?

    Anyway, it's good to see you back in action, Power Shot. I look forward for your next chapters.

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    if this is anythin like After Hoenn then this is gona b 1 hell of a story. just what did Ash do 2 May that was so bad anyway?
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    I'm afraid that someone's gonna die soon.

    I'm anxious to see the end of this.
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    Power SHot great story once again but i have one question, if he went away for 2 years, and Sarah is 5 doesnt that mean she should have a 3 year bond with her father? so shouldn't she know who her father is?










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    oo la la...a nice, developing advanceshippy story!~ Well well, it was a great first chapter. Good package of a lot of mystery, a bit of suspense, and some action (in May's part :P) for the first chapter. Some mistakes here and there, but nothing too serious to make me vomit. ahaha, I'm a very picky reader. XD

    Good quantity of comic relief too, and I like writers who handle it very well--unlike myself, who's too serious for my own good. >.>; I sensed a tiny bit of angst at the end, with Ash really sad about not knowing his daughter and his broken relationship with May and his complaining about his unfair life as a pokemon agent. And that's a good thing for angst suckers like meee. Oh joy. XD

    That being said, I'm awaiting the next chapter. =D

    <3
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    Now, we're wondering what happened. Now, seeing as this is from Power Shot, I think this will be good...
    Q.

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    awsome fanfic so far.I hope the next chapter comes soon,what did ash do to her the suspince is killing me!

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    Hm..good start. I already know where this story is heading, and pretty much is a good direction. Well, update your next chapter.

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    Last edited by Jemi Rose; 18th May 2006 at 2:26 AM.

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    Uhhhh...probably not. In fact, I'm fairly certain no one will be able to tell what's gonna happen. And being me, I'm certain. Anyways, despite the agony of AP Exams and SATs, here it is. Review.

    Morph Two- 0

    “Glad we got out of there,” Max sighed, breathing relief. The convention center might have been massive, as big as the Celadon department store almost, and that was just the main floor! Now, the giant building faded into the distance as the four walked down the road, a massive rectangle of machinery. “It’s good to be in the fresh air again.”

    “I swear, every year that place gets smellier and smellier,” Brock jested, covering his nose in. “Smells like a bunch of otaku!”

    “What’s otaki mean?” Sarah asked, looking up from May’s side.

    “It means big, smelly nerd,” Max replied, holding his hands out to indicate a fat person. “Like most of the people inside.”

    “It means Uncle Max?” Sarah asked, putting her hand in her mouth.

    Brock chocked, and even May had to hold back the laughter as Max went ballistic.

    ***

    “Get out of my house! I never want to see you again!”

    Ash didn’t sleep, he couldn’t. No matter how he twisted in the cramped space, nothing could get her shout out of her head, nothing could get the tears she had shed from his eyes. Every night he woke to the image, the last time he and May were together. The last time he had held her, the last time…

    It couldn’t have lasted for long, he thought, pulling out the communicator. Not after I became an agent. She could never understand…the instant I became one, our fate was sealed. His secrets, his missions, how could she have known her husband was an agent? How could she know, when he was sworn to keep the knowledge to the grave? And how could I keep it from her, when I loved her with all my heart?

    He shifted, knocking on the post of the small bed. He looked up, his chest bare, the ring still dangling from its chain. He never wore it on his hand, never again could he do that. It was golden, pure, beautiful. May had chosen it for him, the last remnant he had of her, and Sarah.

    Ketchum,” said his pocket, a younger voice penetrating the room. “Ketchum.”

    Ash sighed, shoving his hand into his pants, retrieving the communicator. “This is Ketchum,” he stated, flipping it open. “0?”

    Correct,” the voice replied, 0’s voice serious. “Have you prepared my entrance into the Championship?”

    “It’ll be taken care of tomorrow,” Ash replied, he had already made the arrangements. “You are being entered in the Contest under the alias Martin Brown. You have a match tomorrow against an opponent named Smith at noon.”

    Understood.” 0’s voice paused, he must have been recording all the information. “My badge will be delivered to me, I will send my coordinates later tonight. Where will you be located in case I need additional assistance?”

    “Wandering the Championship,” Ash replied, rubbing his eyes. “I…have a few attachments at the Festival. I plan to watch how she does in the competition. I asked for the assignment for that reason.”

    Maintain no contact with her, if it can be helped,” 0 ordered. “Stay out of conflict unless ordered otherwise. Understood?”

    “Understood,” he said, cutting the line dead. He looked at the communicator for an instant, before flipping it back into his pocket. “Is that all they are to me, attachments? Is that all anyone is to me?” His eyes looked at himself, the muscular form, the good looks. “What good are they, if I can’t be with the woman I love? What good is my love, when it can never be returned?”

    The clock read two in the morning, but for Ash, it was time to go to work. He sat up in the bed, sweat dripping on his body from the heat of the room. It might have been that he had long since learned to live without comfort, without the needs of a normal person.

    Without love. The voice in the back of his head kept bugging him. Shut up, he told it, sitting up and pulling his shirt back on. The chain rattled, but he ignored the sound. “Let’s get things rolling,” he muttered, standing up from the bed, he never liked wearing pajamas. Too hot for him.

    He brushed his way out of the room, heading for the center. It might have been locked to civilians, but he already had a set of keys ready, jingling in his left hand pocket.

    ***

    The moon shined through the hotel room, keeping May awake as she tried to sleep. Sarah was lying quietly in her own bed, thumb nestled into her mouth as she dreamt. My baby, she thought, watching her breathe. My baby girl.

    She’s my daughter too, Ash’s voice retorted, vibrating through her head. May pushed the pillow over her head, his face coming into her mind’s eye. His calm, but scarred look, the emotionless eyes, the chain he wore on his neck, his ring. How would you like it, if your own daughter didn’t even know you existed?

    She couldn’t imagine a life without Sarah, for all the chaos she loved to create. Her daughter had inherited the rebellious spark she had, and…Ash’s heart. The man she had loved was not as gone as she wanted to believe. Ash’s eyes and heart still lived on inside Sarah, the same kind nature, but mischievous attitude.

    “May Birch,” said a soft, low voice.

    May startled, jumping as her name called to her. A young man had spoken, a man seemingly her age. Someone is in my room! May thought, terrified.

    “May Birch,” the voice said again, penetrating through the silence of the room. “I wish to speak with you, if you wouldn’t mind. I am not here to harm you.” It wasn’t very reassuring, but the earnest in the voice always made people believe its owner. It made it much easier for the man to do his job.

    “Y-yes?” May asked, turning very slowly on her bed to face the voice’s origin, the window leading into the world beyond, moonlight basking her face. A figure was standing in front of the glass, clad in black clothes with a golden hue.

    “I am agent 0, of the PKM,” said the voice, raising a hand. A golden light issued, as a hologram appeared from his right arm, flashing the special badge of the PKM, a bright triangle with a 0 in golden writing in the middle. “I am also known as the Golden Ranger.”

    “Huh?” May asked, rubbing her eyes. “You’re a Ranger?”

    The dark mask he wore seemed to smile, he nodded briefly. “I am here to inform you of something highly important, that you must keep secret. Are you fully awake?”

    May nodded, setting herself up into a half-sitting position. “Why do you need to see me?” she asked, eyes trailing all over his uniform.

    “We do not usually involve civilians with our operations,” he began, remaining perfectly unmoving, “but given the circumstances, there is no other option. Someone is after your life, and they will kill you during the competition, unless I am capable to stop them.”

    “Kill?”

    0 noted the tone in her voice, changing from half-asleep to terrified. “Kill you,” he repeated. “And the entire convention if they can. But we have reason to suspect that they have a reason for attacking you directly, we are working on the problem.”

    “Why would someone want to kill me?” May asked, trying with all her might to remember if anyone had ever wanted her dead.

    “We do not know,” 0 replied. “Remain calm, we will not allow them to harm you.” And once again, he noted as his voice had the same soothing effect, calming her nerves. It was one of the reasons he did what he did, to protect and serve. “We will find a way, no matter what we will not allow you to be harmed, and we will certainly stop any attacks on the convention.”

    May nodded, the chilling grip in her heart settling to a mild frost. “Why do you keep saying we?” she asked, looking him over, even if she could see him very well. “Aren’t you just one person?”

    “There is always another,” he answered simply. “We are never just one.”

    She nodded, accepting that she was in good hands. “Do you always wear that costume?” she asked, looking at him. There was some gold, but not everywhere. Parts of the suit were midnight black. “It can’t be good in the heat.”

    “I do when I’m working,” he said, his head moving as he glanced around the room. “Is that your daughter?” he asked, his eyes trailing on Sarah as she slept.

    “Yes…this is Sarah,” she said quietly.

    “She’s beautiful,” he said, his voice soft and soothing. “She takes after her mother.”

    “Thank you,” May breathed, feeling a small burn on her face. She lifted her hand to it, before realizing she was blushing. “I’d bet you’re pretty good-looking under the suit too.”

    A small chuckle issued. “If I am, you will never know.”

    May blinked, but when she opened her eyes, her window was closed, and no golden figure stood in her bedroom.

    ***

    “Ketchum.”

    “0.”

    “Let’s get to work.”

    Ash nodded, he had been kept waiting for twenty minutes. Wherever 0 had been, he sure had taken his sweet time about it. “Yes sir,” he muttered dully, before taking out the set of keys he had been given for the assignment. “Shouldn’t be a problem for me though, I can handle a thing like this.”

    “PKM says differently,” 0 replied, his dark mask unmoving. “That’s why I was sent here.”

    “Think you can demorph?” Ash asked, feeling a twinge of annoyance. “That little spandex suit makes me sick. How do you stand wearing that?”

    0 said nothing, prompting Ash’s silence. The key fit in, the door sliding open quietly, revealing the entrance into a dark convention center. “Rangers first,” Ash joked, before 0 moved forward, walking into the darkness without hesitation.

    “I have a face under this mask,” 0 quoted, reciting the verse, “but it is not my true face. My true face is this mask, and my face my own mask.”

    “That doesn’t make sense,” Ash retorted, shutting the door behind him, locking it securely.

    “And that is why you shall never be a Ranger,” 0 replied calmly, his back turned to the tall man. “Unless you can learn to embrace the mask yourself, you can never hope to be what you want to be.”

    “You don’t know anything,” Ash retorted bluntly, following 0 down through the empty paths through the center. It almost wasn’t the same, without the rippling sea of people. “You don’t know what you took from me.”

    “I took nothing,” 0 said, not looking back. “You took from her, and thus, yourself. She is, after all, your soul mate. Or at least she was, when the difficulties in your assignments became too great for you to manage.” He was barely speaking, almost whispering, and yet Ash could hear every single, solitary word. “You are the reason for your failed marriage, a true agent could balance both without her knowledge.”

    “Well,” Ash muttered, glancing at the floor, “you didn’t give me a choice, as I recall.”

    “You always have a choice,” 0 finished, vanishing into the darkness of the center. “The question is, what was the choice?”

    “I’ve always hated you,” he growled, but there was no answer to his threat. Ash clenched his hands, wishing he could strangle the egotistical moron. How dare he lecture me, when I’m the one who…Never mind. His anger would wait until later, when they had finished their work.

    “Did you hack into the files like you were ordered?” 0 asked, as though he had not heard.

    “I got your crap in,” Ash grunted, nodding. “I’ve already told you everything you need. I hacked into the entrance thing, set you in. What more do you need?” He didn’t wait for 0 to answer, so he flipped out the badge for coordinators in the contest. “What took you so long anyway, you spandexes aren’t supposed to be late?”

    “I was visiting a special interest in the case,” 0 answered, his mask looking down onto the arena below him. The glass allowed a perfect point of view for a spectator, but took up literally no space. Ingenious design. “The target of the terrorist attack might be the Festival, but there is an anomaly that suggests the motive may be deeper then blowing everyone up.”

    “Who might that be, oh mighty 0?” the other muttered sarcastically, tossing the badge at 0’s head. His hand came up, grabbing it swiftly between two fingers.

    “May Birch,” 0 said, turning around to him. “Now, it is strange, is it not, that out of all the cases you take on every year, this one continues to appear, on duty guarding the Coordinator’s Festival? Are your ties not as severed as we are to believe?”

    Ash shifted, putting his hands in his pockets. “Her appearance is entirely coincidental here 0, I am here for my daughter. A few days of watching her is not too much to ask.”

    “She does not need to know you,” 0 muttered, lowering his head. “Your daughter is a part of your past life, not your present.”

    “You try living without your flesh and blood, knowing that she doesn’t know,” the man muttered, eyes angry. 0 did not answer, keeping to himself under the mask. If Ash didn’t know better, he would think that there was no one in the suit at all, but that wasn’t the case. Whoever 0 had been before he was the Golden Ranger, he was no longer that person. Time had transformed him into the spandex that stood before the tall man.

    “It does not matter,” 0 stated, changing the subject. “What matters is this mission, and whatever lingering feelings or emotions can be held back until the mission is complete. Do not disobey what has been ordered by you to do.” Ash looked on as he pulled two items from wherever he kept his belongings, throwing them to the second agent. “Put those on,” 0 instructed.

    “What are these?” Ash asked, holding up the pair of golden gloves he had grabbed out of the air.

    “Golden Gauntlets,” 0 muttered. “Put them on.”

    Ash did as he was told, slipping them on carefully. They melded to his skin, fitting perfectly, golden light shining in the dark center. “What are these for?” he asked, waving them in front of his eyes. They didn’t even feel like a part of him, perfectly covering his hand to the middle of his forearm.

    “If I should need a decoy to escape, they will allow you to create a camouflage that will take on my suit’s appearance. If I should die, they will transfer my morpher to you, so as it doesn’t fall in the hands of an enemy. Do you understand what this means, Ketchum?”

    “PKM standard procedure, maintain the illusion we cannot be defeated,” Ash replied, remembering the rulebook. “When a Ranger is destroyed, they will combust and their weapons and morpher is transferred to a second standby agent.” It meant that, should 0 be defeated, the morpher would pass onto him to use. “I understand what you are putting in my hands. I’ve done it before.”

    “I know Ketchum,” 0 said, before the two resumed their stroll. “I remember well.”

    “I remember perfectly how you got me into this,” Ash growled, clenching a hand. “Without you interfering, I wouldn’t have-”

    “Wouldn’t have what?” 0 asked, turning around sharply to face the junior agent. “Realized your destiny? Saved your wife? Become what you were born to be?”

    “I wouldn’t have become a stranger to my daughter,” he responded, feeling the ache inside him grow.

    ***

    ...Three Years Ago...

    Ash glanced around the café, taking a sip from the coffee in his hands. “Ugg,” he muttered, feeling the warm bitter taste run down his throat, “I can’t stand this stuff May, you know that.” Across from him, May smirked, almost enjoying his anguish.

    “Drink it up,” she ordered, though the smile on her face showed her delight. “You don’t want Sarah to see you, she might start refusing foods.”

    Ash looked at his daughter, still in the baby stool. Her hair was short, auburn like May’s, and tied into a small pigtail. Sarah’s big black eyes looked around widely, trying to tell what was going on around her. “She’s only two, there’s no way she can even say no,” he replied, bringing the coffee to his lips, trying to ignore the taste on his tongue.

    “What do you think Pikachu?” May asked, turning to the little mouse on her husband’s shoulder. Pikachu glanced at her, then turned to Ash, then returned to its Pokemon food, deciding that it was best not to get involved with the quarrel.

    “Pikachu agrees,” Ash pointed out, before gaining a jolt from his companion, shocking him in his chair. “Okay…maybe not,” he corrected, seeing the spark in the red cheeks. Sarah giggled as puffs of smoke emitted from his head.

    “Awww…baby thinks it’s funny when Daddy gets jolted,” May teased.

    “Yeah, hilarious,” Ash muttered, setting down the cup, empty.

    “Is Daddy mad?” May asked, laughing.

    He smiled, looking at her happy face. “Not anymore. Let’s get out of here, we’re supposed to already be at the battlefield.”

    “All right,” May replied, picking up after Sarah’s discarded food. For some reason, she felt it was needed to throw her Brussels sprouts at the wall, creating a small montage of green vegetables. “Come on baby,” she cooed, picking her up off the high chair. Sarah laughed.

    Ash flipped out his wallet, handing a few bills to the stunned waitress. “Next time we’ll warn you before we bring her here,” he joked, passing by the young girl to where his wife and child were standing. Pikachu sighed, patting its head with its paw.

    “Well,” Ash offered his arm, a broad smile on his face, “shall we?”

    May grinned, taking his arm, Sarah in her arms. The three made their way down the street, passing away from the destroyed café. The waitress was still standing there, looking at the green vegetables plastered in the wall. They had formed a weird, but familiar pattern, of a ball halved by a line and small circle. The lines were irregular, but the design was uncanny.

    “Ketchum’s daughter sure knows her stuff,” the waitress muttered, before she began to scrape off the Pokeball picture from the wooden walls.

    ***

    ...Present...

    “That’s my last happy memory, before you came into the picture,” Ash muttered, lowering his arms. He wasn’t proud of what he had done, had he known what it would cost him he would have never done it. “But there was no choice, was it? I had to help those people, and you even gave me the chance to back out. But I didn’t take it, did I?”

    “Your choice was your own,” 0 replied, his mask shrouding the face Ash knew was under the mask. “I gave you the chance, to not walk down my road of life. You did not take it. Your actions are of your own consequence.”

    “I don’t regret saving those people,” he admitted, not meeting 0’s gaze. “But if I had known what would happen, if I had known what I was getting myself into, I would never had done it!”

    “Really?” 0’s interest rose, his head perking up. “Would you, even with all the knowledge you have now? What you said that day says differently.”

    ***

    ...Three Years Ago...

    “I have to help you,” Ash insisted, pushing 0 up against the wall. The dark warrior groaned in annoyance, annoyed at his own weakness and the stranger’s strength. “You aren’t strong enough to even stand, let alone fight those enemies.”

    “H-how can you say something like that?” 0 asked, his visor looking up. “You don’t even have anything to do with this, you need to get to safety.”

    “You can’t move, you aren’t going to be saving the day spandex,” Ash retorted, restraining him from moving. Blood was soaking through the suit, dampening patches in the gold and black cloth. Pikachu nodded from the ground, 0 was in no condition to fight. The Golden Ranger was trapped, the enemy was too powerful.

    “Fine then,” he muttered, moving his head to look at Ash. “You’ll have to do it for me.”

    “What?”

    “I need you to become me,” 0 replied, trying to move his arms. “The people need the Golden Ranger, and I can’t save them. Can you do it?”

    Ash looked down at the broken agent, he was right. If 0 could not do anything, then someone else would have to do it for him. Ash looked at Pikachu, who nodded its head. “If the people need the Golden Ranger,” Ash said, his eyes blazing, “then I’d say it’s morphing time.”

    0’s visor seemed to smile, before the man’s body began to break down. The suit was replaced by a uniform of pure black, with a golden shirt underneath. On the shoulders was a bright 0 in golden writing. Ash looked at his hands, with two golden circles on the morphers’ edges

    0’s face was bloodied, most of the suit shining with crimson liquid. Dark hair grew out into a mane, his eyes fierce yellow like his suit. 0 tried, lifting up his hands weakly. “Accept them then, the 0 Spirit Gauntlets.” Ash nodded, unclipping both morphers from 0’s hands.

    “How do I use them?” he asked, putting both gloves on his hands, the two yellow disks spinning.

    “The 0 Gauntlets work on the principles similar to the Pokeballs,” 0 explained, his mouth barely moving. “To use them, a Pokemon must be scanned into the Spirit, creating a Ranger suit to be used by a PKM Ranger.”

    Ash felt them in his hands, it seemed simple enough. “Wait,” he said, stopping short. “What happens to the Pokemon I use?” he asked, looking directly at him.

    “As long as the morpher is kept safe, nothing,” 0 answered. “But if a morpher, or a Ranger, is destroyed, their Pokemon goes with them. Since my morpher can take two Pokemon, my spirit will remain within.”

    “Pikachu,” Ash said, feeling the morphers in his hand. “Just like when I first became a trainer, I choose my best friend, who’s stuck through me through everything.” Ash turned to face his Pokemon, standing up with his fists curled. “Will you fight by my side again, to save those who can’t save themselves?” he asked, looking into its beady eyes.

    “Pi!” it replied fiercely, ready to risk its life alongside Ash.

    “You make a good team,” 0 murmured, watching on. “Capture its spirit, and morph.”

    The 0 Gauntlets glowed.

    ***

    “Digital Analyzer!” Ash roared, pressing both his palms together. “Capture the Spirit!”

    Golden light blasted straight from his fingertips, filling the empty warehouse with bright color. The PKM morphers glowed, sensing the Spirit within Pikachu. Slowly, the mouse began to break apart, as two beams of light struck its form, assembling it into the morphers’ energy. The circles of light changed, forming into two lightning bolts on both. They glowed, before ceasing as fast as they began.

    “The morphers have completed creating your Ranger form,” 0 announced, passing his blessing. His yellow eyes gazed over at the new replacement. “Call forth your Pokemon Spirit, and transform. Allow no one to see your face, for in a face is our weakness. No one may know a Ranger’s identity save in times of true crisis.”

    “I’ll do my best, and come back for you,” Ash replied, raising both hands together. “It’s hero time.”

    He raised both morphers, crossing them before his face. “Golden Spirit!” he shouted, throwing both hands out. “Pokemon Power!”

    0 watched on, as the world around him began to glow with bright golden force. Ash even looked like a Ranger, his eyes blazing with intensity, the seriousness in his face, the power of his bond, Pikachu’s willingness to fight alongside its trainer.

    I think I’ve found a new recruit, 0 thought, as the transformation began, and a new Golden Ranger was born.
    _______________________________________

    And yes, you still have no idea about the costume of 0. Or Ash for that matter, but I promise, it shall be revealed soon!

    Review if ya can!
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

  12. #12
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    loved the chapter.Very descriptive too.Keep the great work up!

  13. #13
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    Pretty cool stuff, man. Glad you pointed me toward the direction of this fic. But, I gotta ask...when we gonna get the super action. I want to see how links with Power Rangers. I guess I have to tune in. Good grammar. But, spellcheck's your friend and you know that. As for these two chapters, sounds like you got quite a setup. So, I take it Ash and co will get great power.

    Just remember...with great power comes great responsibility. I'll keep an eye on this fic. I know I don't post in Shipping much but hey..it's okay. Either way, good stuff!

    LX
    I am the author of the webcomic, Starbolts and host of the comic review show, Comic Showcase. Please check out the action here: http://starbolts.blogspot.com

    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cferra1227

  14. #14
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    Well, this chapter has some fighting, though not as much as I know you all want. Enjoy, and leave a review if ya can!

    Morph Three- Explosions


    “Keeping a close watch on her, right?”

    Ash murmured into his com link, so not to disturb anyone who might walk by. The last thing he wanted was to have someone find out what he was. Well, maybe a few people, he thought to himself, before pushing the thought from his mind. He was there to do a job, not wonder what might have been. A stiff jacket was covering him, ebony like the night, hiding most of the gauntlets he now wore.

    Pi,” replied a cracked voice into the link, Pikachu was in place to watch Sarah and May, already inside the center. Ash would not be suited for the task, even though he could have had it been anyone else. Anyone else, but them. He didn’t trust himself around his former wife or his daughter, not after yesterday.

    “Seeing May was almost too much for me,” he said quietly, making sure not even Pikachu could hear him. “I couldn’t bare to see Sarah, the pain would hurt me. Better to just watch from afar then.” He nodded to himself, looking through the seas of people wandering around, like lambs to the slaughter. “0 better know what he’s doing.”

    Ash felt the cloth on his hands, reminded once more of the gloves the Ranger had given him. If it came down to it, Ash would have to assume the form, he would have to become the Golden Ranger again. And it will seal my fate, Ash thought, remembering how only once he had seen 0 outside of his uniform. The Ranger didn’t even have a name, or, if he did, Ash never learned what it was.

    Could he be a Ranger? He was always on the short list, 0 never allowed him to forget that he had the potential to become his successor. Potential, but never the motivation. Ash hated spandex agents like 0 or the others for turning him into an agent.

    “Time for work,” he muttered, pushing the thoughts out of his head. There was a time for moping about his life, and there was a time to save others. His eyes hardened, but were still dull, and the former trainer made his way through the center, his feet leading him on. 0 would be fine, he was better than Ash when it came to combat.

    “Could I be one, if it meant dooming myself to this life till I die?” he asked himself, the two halves of him coming into conflict once more, the present Ash who was the hardened PKM agent, and the past self that held to a past with May.

    A future he had denied himself.

    ***

    0 overlooked the crowds of people from above, on the neglected third floor. It was amazing how little people remember, if you really thought about it. There were the two floors people knew about, the main lobby where the seas of crowds swelled and surged below him, and then there was the coordinators platforms below the sea, where they battled free from distractions. The floor below the sea made it possible to do so, letting people gaze below while causing little harm to the facility.

    Then there was the floor he was on, isolated from the others. The dark hallways reflected the inside of the Ranger’s mind, dark and mysterious, a puzzle that could never be figured out. Below the platforms, there was a place of total darkness, where 0 had made most of his base of operations. A few intelligence gathering machines stood down there, where no one dared to go.

    He had a lot of time to think, he realized, glancing at his uniform. He wore the thing so often, it seemed more of his true self then his real body had ever been. “My face is my true mask,” he repeated, reciting his favorite verse. “And my mask my true face.” That was the way of a Ranger, and he was their leader. It had once been 1, Red, but times had changed since he had become a Ranger.

    He glanced down as Ketchum made his way through the crowds, heading for the fourth platform. 0 knew why, his former wife would be fighting there, with his daughter and friends. “Perhaps Ketchum’s attachment is not all bad,” he pondered, raising a hand to his chin. “It reminds him of what he has lost in his line of duty.” The memory of loss often strengthened resolve, he had noted, in his past.

    0 had a lot of time to think.

    ***

    “So, nervous any?” Max asked, yawning and stretching. He wasn’t really a morning person.

    “Uh…not really,” May murmured, keeping her eyes on the ground. She hadn’t been able to sleep a wink the night before, the premonition that the Golden Ranger had given her was almost too unbelievable. Why would someone want to kill me? May thought silently, keeping a careful grip on Sarah’s hand with her left palm. What would happen if I died?

    And why was she thinking of Ash? Her mind returned to him, the man she had loved. Had, she reminded herself, feeling Sarah’s fingers. However hard she tried, the memories came to her every day, every time she had a moment alone. And then, he had returned here, out of all the contests.

    He never left an address on the mail he sent her, never telling her where he was. She simply assumed that he had returned to traveling around, like they used to before they had Sarah. Ash had settled down when the baby girl came, and began to grow less active in the whole “traveling” business. Maybe it was because he had finally grown up, when there was a child to take care of…

    No. After Sarah was born, he became distant, always on the road. After the Golden Ranger coming into their lives that day, his eyes began to dull, his heart turning dark and cold. No matter what she tried, he was either asleep when she got home, Sarah resting peacefully in her crib, or he was gone when she awoke, feeling for his body in their bed.

    There…must have been…someone else…her mind trailed off, feeling the thud of her heart within her chest. The notes of the accusation still rang false, but when she had asked, he had not denied it. He simply stood there, his dull black eyes staring at her while Sarah walked around the house.

    “Hey, booth babes!” Brock exclaimed, steering his fox-eyes straight into a mass of beauties standing in a show arena on the other side of the center. “Wanna check that out?” he asked, grinning at the other two. His eyes were stuck to his face, twisting into binoculars to ogle the babes.

    “I’m in,” Max said almost at once, raising his hand with glee.

    “Pervert,” May muttered to him, a slight grin on her face. Max had grown up, it was hard remembering that she no longer had to protect her little brother, when he was much stronger and taller than she was. “Here, at least take Sarah for a little while, I…just need some rest for a little bit.” She hated lying to her brother, but he nodded, smiling at his niece before the three left, making their way through the crowds.

    Feeling Sarah’s hand leave her own, she felt like a link, a part of her, became absent. Her motherly attachment was strong in her daughter, May always wanted to protect Sarah from the world, from strangers. From Ash, the voice in the back of her head said.

    She turned away from the trio, when she saw him again, in the crowds. Ash was watching again, but not her. He watched on as Sarah led Max and Brock through the crowds, her smile striking through the sea of otaku. He never looked at May, not straight in the eyes. The dull orbs gazed on to his daughter, before the man that owned them sighed, turning on the spot and heading in the other direction.

    “Ash…” she murmured, watching as the new coat swished behind him, his burst of hair twisting in the small winds circulating around the room. “Ash.”

    She wasn’t aware of making the choice, the decision to follow him. Her legs simply moved, independent of her willpower, her own commands that told them no, to go and sit somewhere, anywhere, as long as it was away from the man in the dark coat. But still she followed his footsteps.

    “May.” His voice was devoid of almost all the emotion that she had remembered, as she came up behind him, standing facing his back. He could not face her, not after the day before, not after what he had done to her. But he spoke to her, hands in his pockets, head bent.

    Inside, his heart ached, hurting so much more then when she was away from her. At least he could not see her, when he was away. He could not see her hurt eyes.

    “Ash,” replied the maiden, taking a tentative step forward. “I…wanted to talk to you, for just a moment.” Her voice faltered, cracking at the end. Already her eyes were warm, her face red. “Would…that be all right?”

    “Do whatever you please,” he replied, before resuming his walk. He slowed his face, allowing her to follow through the crowds, to a place that would be more suitable for the conversation. She picked up her pace, trying to keep up with his long strides. He did not look at her, keeping his gaze forward and away. What’s her problem? he asked himself, trying to figure that out.

    He really does hate me, May thought, feeling a sickening drop in her stomach. Why is this hurting me so?

    Ash felt the deep pit of nothingness that was his heart, but moved on regardless. They approached one of the cafeterias slowly, side by side, yet their gaze never met. Ash’s eyes were shrouded by the bangs on his forehead, but May felt their look, that dull glance. He led them to a small table in the corner, where they would be noticed by few.

    Ash held out May’s seat for her, and allowed her to sit down, before sitting down himself opposite her. May stared at the table, not wanting to see the dull look again.

    “How’s life been for you?” May looked up, shocked that Ash would even consider starting a conversation. His expression did not change, but at least the tone was more friendly. Not his old self, but she would take it.

    “Well…it’s been busy,” she replied carefully, feeling the sting of crimson against her cheeks. “Sarah’s been learning how to cause all kinds of trouble, I’m thinking about buying a leash for her.”

    “Heh,” Ash muttered, as a waitress headed over to where they were sitting. The brown hair woman, a young girl probably in her early twenties, chewed religiously on her gum while the two picked up their menus.

    “What’ll it be?” she asked, a ditzy look embalmed on her face.

    “Beer,” Ash muttered, tossing away the menu. “Now.”

    “This early in the morning?” the girl asked, her eyes widening somewhat until Ash’s gaze trailed on her, and she wrote it down in her book. “One beer for you,” she muttered, blowing the hair out of her face. “And for you ma’am?”

    “Can I just have some tea please?” May asked, putting the menu down before her. “Green, if there’s any.”

    “Sure thing ma’am,” the waitress replied, jotting it down in her notebook. She looked up, taking in the image of the woman she was serving. “Hey, are you…May Birch?” she asked, a slight grin appearing on her face.

    “…Yes,” May answered, nodding her head.

    “Can I, like, have an autograph from you?” she asked eagerly, holding out her receipt notebook and a pen. May sighed, but took the book anyway.

    “Sorry, it’s just that after so many times, it gets sort of old,” May excused herself, signing the book with the pen. “Being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” She smiled slightly, before giving the girl back her things.

    “Wait a sec,” she said, glancing at the dark man she was with. “Are you Ash Ketchum?” she asked, looking him up and down. The stranger sure looked like the mysterious trainer, tall and handsome.

    He looked up at her, his face questioning. “What’s it to ya?” he asked, looking her up and down.

    “Well, it’s just that I am one of Ash’s biggest fans,” she squealed, clasping her hands together. “Are you really him?”

    May started to speak, but Ash cut her off. “Afraid you got the wrong guy Miss…” he glanced at her nametag, “Crystal. I happen to know for a fact that May Birch despises Ash Ketchum with all her heart, so don’t go running to the paparazzi just yet, got it?”

    “Yes sir!” she finished, turning around to get their food.

    May watched her leave, before turning to him. “You really didn’t have to do that,” she murmured, bowing her head lightly. “Thank you.”

    “I said the truth,” he answered, turning back to her. “Whatever we had once, that’s all gone. Now, all that’s left is the memories of better times, and Sarah. And I only have one half of that deal.” His eyes revealed nothing, but it was clear he was still feeling the pain.

    “Why did you do it?” May asked, rubbing her hands together. “All that time I shouted, I never once asked you why you had to hurt me like that. Could you…at least tell me that?”

    Ash held his head up, for a second even considering telling her the truth, to hell with what 0 would do with him. He saw her eyes, so innocent, so pained. I never did deserve her, he sighed inwards. She deserved better then what I did. “I never did mean to hurt you,” he said at last, trying to find the words. “I know you think otherwise, but it was never my intention to ruin what we had.”

    “Then…what happened?” she asked, her hand lifting from her lap, and resting into his clenched hand. “Why did we fall apart?”

    Ash looked down at her hand, soft and warm as it always was, before gazing back at her. “It was my fault,” he said, looking into the deep azure seas of her eyes. “It was something I did, that I can never take back, no matter how much it hurt you or how much I wish I could go back and say no. I was foolish, not thinking about you. And after I did it, I-I couldn’t stop.”

    He withdrew his hand as the waitress returned, and took into it instead the alcohol that was his favorite drink. “I guess that’s why we fell apart May,” he breathed, tipping the neck of the bottle. “I was never really worth your time, and I’m sorry that I couldn’t return your feelings the ways you wanted me to.”

    He reached into his pocket, and pulled out a few bills. “For the drinks,” he said, tossing it onto the counter. “Good luck in your matches tomorrow.”

    “Ash, wait,” May said, as he began to stand up. “Please don’t leave like this.”

    “I will always love you, May Birch,” Ash whispered, looking at her eyes. For an instant, the dark pools weren’t as dull, the spark brightening the gaze for an instant, nothing more. “I only wish I could love you the way you deserve to be loved.”

    Ash turned, and walked away, coat swishing in the breeze. May sat there, tea steaming in front of her, watching him become nothing more than a face in the crowd, disappearing into nothingness. “Ash…” she whispered, feeling a tear slide down her cheek.

    A drop fell into the tea, ripples forming along the rims of the small cup. The steam rose, the tea bag slowly spreading the flavor around its contents.

    ***

    Ketchum.”

    Ash grabbed the com link, flipping open instantly. “What?” he asked bitterly, detest in his voice. The last thing he desired was to speak with 0 immediately following a confrontation with May.

    Did you tell her anything?” 0’s voice sounded urgent.

    “No, I maintained bearing,” he replied, checking to make sure he wasn’t being listened to. “She wanted to talk about us. Before you. It does not concern the PKM in the least.”

    Incorrect,” his commander retorted, his voice cracking lightly in the communicator. “A matter has come up, our resources have confirmed a bomb has been smuggled and placed near Ms. Birch. Find it.

    “Any detail specs that might help?” Ash asked, his eyes widening. “Tell me 0. Now.”

    Small,” 0 muttered. “Rectangular. The size of a card, but with enough force to blow up a twenty yard radius, maybe more. Something like a credit card, or a book…”

    “…or a tea bag?” Ash finished, breathing hard suddenly. “Would it be something like that?”

    He didn’t wait for 0 to answer, clicking the device shut. Ash ducked into a corner, looking for a hiding spot. “Where’s a damn phone booth when you need one?” he growled, eyes scanning around. Then finally, he spotted what he needed, a broom closet for the janitor. Ignoring all traces of common sense, he ran for it, smashing through the door leading inside, before wrenching it shut again.

    “Golden Gauntlets, do your thing!” he shouted, raising both in his hands. Bright light flashed into the air, and he transformed into the copy of the Golden Ranger, but an identity he could use nonetheless.

    ***

    A bright flash of light exploded from the small door, forcing it apart without a struggle. Everyone turned, looking for the source of the attack, before a figure stepped out from the closet, glowing in radiant light. Black and gold clashed magnificently along his helmet and armor, lightweight but effective. None could see him clearly, he was bathed in golden light.

    “Excuse me,” he said, his voice not his own. Something inside the uniform was helping him, masking his identity completely, his voice even sounded like 0’s. “I’m here on PKM business,” he said, before breaking into a run, blasting through the crowds of people like they were nothing, heading for the cafeteria, praying that it wasn’t too late.

    The golden clad fighter raced on, dodging past people, objects, and Pokemon in an attempt to reach where he had left her. He could let her die, no matter how he had messed up their lives, no matter all the terrible things they had done to each other.

    He jumped up to defeat the surge of people, barely more then a blink of lightning to most others. The Golden Gauntlets might have been cheap imitations of the morphers 0 had, but they still gave him what he would need to defend himself and others.

    And he saw her, waiting for the tea to soak up the rest of the supposed bag. His visor could even tell him of the weapon, cleverly concealed like that. He descended down to the ground, landing firmly on his feet. He glanced around, noting that several civilians were staring at him, probably because he was the brightest thing to look at.

    He didn’t speak, but grabbed her firmly in his arms, she was too dazzled by his appearance to be able to tell who he was. Grabbing the cup, he drained the tea until he saw the weapon, crude but it would be effective.

    “0!” he roared into the visor’s uplink, praying that the old Ranger would have some advice. “How do I get rid of this thing?!”

    There was not reply.

    “0!”

    Again, the link was silent.

    He looked around frantically, hearing the screams around him now that everyone had realized what he was holding in his hands. “0?!” he heard a voice shout in his ears, and knew it was May. “What’s going on?!”

    “Get down,” he answered, gripping it firmly in his hand. The agent threw May to the side, out of harm’s way as he threw the bomb as far as he could, in the opposite direction. “EVERYBODY ON THE GROUND!” he roared, running as far as he could away from the bomb.

    The bomb exploded, the ranger, and everyone else, was thrown from the force. The golden form scanned around, seeing May’s body fall into an abandoned contest arena opened by the explosion.

    ***

    “No!” he roared, leaping down the railing to where May’s body lay, blood dribbling from her head. The agent rushed down, all thought of his mission gone, all of the hurting memories vanishing in an instant, as the body of his lover lay still. “May!”

    She wasn’t answering him, he bent down before her form, a tear forming in his dark eyes. Pikachu leapt down from where it had been hiding, landing straight beside its trainer. “May!” he called out again, touching her gently with his gloved fingers, feeling the delicate hair ruffle in the breeze surrounding them.

    “May…” he whispered, holding her head on his massive chest, her brown locks clashing against his golden chest. “Don’t leave me, please May. I beg you.”

    “Momma?” a voice said from behind him, a voice he had not heard speak to him…for a very long time. He turned with his woman in his arms, to see Sarah Birch standing before him, her eyes red with fear. “Momma?” she asked again, looking at the stranger holding her mother.

    The man didn’t speak, feeling what he had been searching for, a pulse beating in May’s chest against his body. “Yes,” he said finally, relief washing over him. “Your mother’s going to be fine.” His heart almost broke again, keeping his identity secret even from his child. “She’s alive.”

    “Momma’s gonna be okay?” Sarah asked, almost as though she was unsure of the stranger’s words.

    “She’ll be fine,” he assured her, their eyes meeting. Her scared, worried expression, his cold watching visor. What he had wanted for so long was here, and he could not reach her. “I’ll help you get her out of here.”

    He stood up, cradling May in his arms like an infant, her head draped back. The people around them on the floors were panicked, terrified. Whoever this terrorist was, he was an expert. Sarah stood behind him, the divided family making their way towards the elevator leading to the others levels, the escape hatch.

    The masked warrior positioned May carefully, nearing the elevator, and making sure she would not be harmed. Freeing an arm, he roared, striking at the welded opening to their escape route. Even with one hand, he forced his way through, Pikachu rushing past his heels to the small room beyond.

    “Get in,” the man ordered to his daughter, who followed the command without hesitation, sprinting inside. Checking once more that May was all right, he made his way through. “Pikachu, hit it.”

    The mouse Pokemon nodded, leaping up and punching the emergency hatch switch below the floor buttons. The red switch glowed, and he turned to look at Sarah. “Grab my uniform,” he said to her, reaching up to grapple a handle with a gloved hand. He felt a sharp tug on his belt, and knew that Sarah had listened.

    Just as the elevator plunged down into nothingness.

    ***

    “0!” he shouted, as the cables above the elevator stopped, sending them into a hell of darkness that he knew 0 would be in. And sure enough, in the faraway, he was there, standing waiting for him. His arms were crossed, he was clearly not happy with him.

    “Cadet.” 0’s voice was calm and reasonable, but there was definite impatience in his tone. “What are they doing here?” he asked, looking back to see the child the rookie agent called his own, and his former wife in his hands. “I thought I told you to keep an eye on her, not bring her to my hideaway.”

    The man was in no mood for 0‘s garbage. “There is no choice!” he protested, looking back from where he had come. “Did you not see what’s going on up there?”

    “The threat has been neutralized,” 0 stated calmly. “The only threat is that the police cannot maintain the security of this facility, and that you have jeopardized yourself with bringing those two here.” Sarah was hiding behind the other Ranger, clearly terrified of the other dark man dressed in golden colors.

    “Fine,” the other snapped, kneeing to set May down onto the ground gently, making sure she wasn’t harmed in any way. “I’ll just use my Eraser on both, that’ll take care of both problems. After that, I can take them out of here.”

    “Mister?” Both masked men turned to see where Sarah was standing, over the unconscious body of her mother. “Misters, what’s gonna happen to Mommy?”

    “Your mother will be fine, Sarah Birch,” 0 replied mechanically, a rehearsed response he had no doubt said a thousand times. “We are preparing to take you back to your hotel room.” If possible, the girl was even more frightened of 0 then she had been when she had found the stranger and her mother.

    “Momma?”

    “Your mother will be fine,” the copy said, pulling out a small vial from his belt, a smelling salt for May. Opening the cap, a foul aroma entered the room, which he lowered into May’s face, shaking it lightly in front of her nostrils. May’s head shifted in protest, before her eyes opened drowsily to see the a stranger covered in dark clothing standing over her, the visor on his helmet covering his expression.

    “Ash?” she asked absent-mindedly, taking a hand offered to her by the man, covered in dark cloth. The face was shrouded in shadows, but for a moment she could have sworn she saw Ash.

    “No,” the voice replied harshly, it was 0’s voice speaking. He was dictating what the other would say, keeping the rookie silent. “You have been injured in an attempt on your life. We are planning to remove all traces of this location you are in from your mind. When you awaken, you will find yourself safely in your hotel room.”

    “My daughter…” May’s voice mumbled, her eyes searching through the empty room for her child. Sarah ran towards her, wrapping her little arms around her waist.

    “Momma!” she cried, sobbing into her mother’s red dress.

    “Sarah!” she exclaimed, drawing her daughter close. Her eyes full of tears, she looked back up, but the two men were hidden in the shadows, their faces shrouded. One was taller then the other, but both were wearing gold.

    “Prepare the Eraser,” one, 0, commanded, turning to the taller man. May saw his hands, covered in golden cloth, hesitate, before he drew a small cylinder from his pockets. There were a few switches on the back of it, which were flipped through before the taller man held it up to their faces.

    “Goodbye…May,” the second one said, his voice broken, sounded so familiar. She had met that man before somewhere…

    “Ash?” she asked again, but a golden light came up, and May knew no more.
    _______________________
    Yes, that was all right. Expect another next week! Next week the Golden Ranger's full form will be revealed in detail, with a picture even.

    Morph Four- Tsunami Coming Soon!
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

  15. #15
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    Hey, awesome job! I noted some few mistakes, but hey it was good!

    ~*Jemi Rose*~
    ******************

    Would you like to marry some of your favorite characters? in either anime or movies? then check this website out www.MYFCOnline.com
    Last edited by Jemi Rose; 14th May 2006 at 11:34 PM.

  16. #16
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    Time for a spoiler, because I don't think this fic is getting the love!

        Spoiler:


    YES! Note, changes will most likely be made, just felt like getting that off my chest!
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

  17. #17
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    Oh no. I'm still reading this fic of yours with great interest. Sad part is, May is the month of being 1 step closer to work everyone's ***es off for their final exams and whatnot. Summer holiday for all students closing in very quickly like it happens every year.

    For my review for the previous story, it saddens me to erase minds. Reminds me of MiB every time. I wonder how long you plan to continue with this story, Power Shot? Will it be any closer or more than your first story?

  18. #18
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    I read this story of your with interest as well, but as mew151 has said, the exams are coming and pretty much everyone is going to be study. But, I will read your story! Whenever you update that is...

    ~*Jemi Rose*~

  19. #19
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    This thing is good so far! You make it long but not boring!
    Banner: Me | Clubs: May/Drew/Harley/TR
    Member of the Gay Alliance; I'm Openly Gay

    Bishie: Totemo Harley | Ship: Cactus Thorn
    Couple: Harley x Jessie | Song: Together
    Game: XD Gale of Darkness | Character: Netto Hikari

    Friend Code: 4039 5205 2554

  20. #20
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    OKAY! Who did it this time? Who lowered my rating like that?

    What have I told people? I don't mind if you critisize, but if you're going to lower my rating, be a man and tell me why. That's why I write the fic, to find things wrong with my writing. And I can't do that if people annoy me with useless rating lowering. Again, whoever did it, be a man and tell me why. And if it's a ContestShipper again, I think you're just making your own Shipping worse for it. Not saying that all ContestShippers are all bad, just that some really hate me for writing one story. Jeez...

    Seriously, do not rate the fic badly because of the Shipping content. I would think that you would not want me to do the same to your fics. If it is a problem with the writing, tell me. Goodness knows I would like some critisism.

    Morph Four- Tsunami

    “Ash!”

    May bolted upright, her chest heaving as she did so. Sweat dripped from her face, terror gripping her heart. She was blind, she couldn’t see. Darkness flowed around her, she felt something on top of her, restraining her lower body from moving. She felt for the restraints, pulling them away from her body. It was only then when she realized where she was.

    She was in her room, the darkness nothing more then the night of the sky outside her hotel room. Her breathing slowed, hyperventilation dying down carefully. She put her hand to her chest, feeling her heart beat faster and faster as her eyes adjusted to the darkness around her, the light ceiling coming into view in her azure eyes.

    They swerved, turning to the bed next to hers. There, on the light mattress, was Sarah again, dreaming nothings with her thumb firmly inserted into her mouth. Gently, May wiped the sweat that was beading on her forehead, her hand coming across the freezing feeling of her head.

    Why…am I so scared? she asked herself, drawing the covers to herself. Where had she been last? There was Ash, she couldn’t get him out of her head. We…we were talking, she remembered, recalling what the dark man had said. He said that he loved her, and she felt her heart skip a beat. Then 0...The bomb returned to her thoughts, the frantic save that 0, the Golden Ranger, had made. Then there was nothing, a blank in her mind.

    Ash…He came back to her thoughts, the great love she had lost. No, the man who betrayed me, she reminded herself, nodding. Then why did she not believe her own words as she once did? The words rang false in her mind, whenever she tried to find fault in Ash

    He hadn’t answered her, he couldn’t even meet her eyes when he asked him why.

    Why did you leave us? What was so important you couldn’t even tell your wife? Her eyes fell over Sarah, the baby that had not known Ash, her father. If some trace of the man was left, it was nothing more then a dream. Sarah was still very young when Ash left.

    When you made him leave.

    ***

    “What do you think Pikachu?”

    Ash stood over the rooftops, gazing into the room May slept in. She had awoken, and was watching Sarah sleep. He watched her gentle hair flutter, her deep blue eyes gazing on the child. Ash was still in his Ranger guise, the black and gold cloth masking his appearance. It seemed easier to watch her in the double suit 0 had made him wear, at least her eyes would not shine with hate if she saw him.

    But…today she had been different. Her eyes still did not trust him, but she was questioning. The last time, when he had left, her eyes were hateful, wishing his destruction. Now they were lost, like him. “Should I have told her?”

    Pikachu stood perched on the dark shoulder, watching with its trainer. “Kachu,” it muttered, watching as Ash crossed his arms.

    “Would it have made her happy?” Ash asked, slightly confused. “It’s the truth, and the truth is always the best course of action. That’s…that’s why it didn’t work out. Because I couldn’t be honest with her, the PKM forbids it.”

    “Chu.”

    “Yeah, I lied to keep her happy, but I,” Ash took a breath under the dark helmet. Lowering his face, he continued, “I knew she wasn’t. She was happy for Sarah, but not for me. I could see the sadness behind the azure eyes.”

    He watched her, as she turned her head out of the window. Ash didn’t mind, the sky was dark, she wouldn’t see his image. The twilight sky was the perfect cover for him, his dark suit blending in perfectly into the surroundings. His mask hid the pain he felt, looking down on her. How he missed her touch, her scent, her loving gaze.

    Ash sighed, could he ever truly be happy?

    May glanced out of her window, seeing the pale darkness of the outside city. Skyscrapers towered around her room, with the street so far away she could barely see it. Across the street, a sole entity stood on the landing, his solitary form motionless. His body was covered by the darkness, masking his form in the midst. For a second, she thought she saw a tint of gold, but then the clouds covered the moon, creating pitch black outside.

    “0?” she asked, pulling herself from the bed and walking over to the window. May held her clothes tightly against herself, nearing the plate of glass. Slowly, not wanting to wake Sarah from her dream, the woman gently clicked open the switch, opening the window to see if it was the golden warrior.

    “Yes?”

    May nearly jumped out of her skin, glancing at the man outside the window, standing carefully on the ledge outside her room. He was staring out ahead of him, not wanting to face her. He passed it off as one of 0’s ploys.

    “I…it was you that saved me today, wasn’t it?” May asked, feeling for a strange reason her face blush. “I remember something about a bomb, you stopped it, didn’t you?”

    Ash stared silently forward, considering his next words. He should not be speaking to her in the double suit, but…the suit had picked up her voice, it was directly plugged into a tap 0 had no doubt set in the hotel. He could not resist.

    “…Yes,” he replied carefully, making sure to match 0’s voice. It was hard, 0 spoke much more calmly then he did. “I did that.”

    “I didn’t know if it was you, you’re always watching me, aren’t you?” May asked, resting her arms against the window sill. “I…wanted to thank you. My daughter, she’s everything in the world to me, and I can’t leave her. She needs someone to look over her.”

    “What about her father?” the masked man asked, tilting his head towards her. “What about him?”

    “He’s…Sarah doesn’t know him,” she answered, lowering her eyes. “He’s at the center, but he isn’t allowed to go near her. We…separated a few years ago, I don’t think either of us are over it. I haven’t dated in…I don’t think I have since I met him.”

    “Perhaps you’re still in love with him,” the man considered, his voice betraying nothing. “I would not know, I am not ordered to have such notions. Maybe you should listen to your heart, rather then your head.”

    “What do you mean, you aren’t ordered to have…what?” May asked, the man’s words were confusing.

    “It means that I don’t do love,” he answered for her. “I can’t, because I cannot share this life with another person. I can’t do that, not anymore.”

    “Anymore?”

    Ash sighed, wondering what it would accomplish. He could not tell her the truth, he would simply be lying to her again. “I used to have a wife,” he said, altering the story for her. “I had a great love, and a child. I was very happy, until I was taken from them, for this.” He looked down at his suit, which for some reason he and May had never seen clearly. “If I had the chance, I would give it all up, to be with her one more time, to tell her I’m sorry, to tell her the truth.”

    May sighed, gazing up at his form. “Do you think she would forgive you, if she knew the truth?”

    “I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things.” He turned to her, his visor looking into her eyes. “Would you forgive your husband, if he told you the truth about his secrets?”

    “I don’t know either 0,” she answered. “I…I saw him twice in the last two days. There’s…something wrong with him 0. He looks terrible, though he won’t admit it. His eyes have become dull, like he’s blind. And where there was love in his voice, there’s nothing but emptiness.”

    “People change,” he replied, resting his back against the wall. “How they change is their own choice, not one we can make for them. It is up to the person to determine their course in life. Maybe you should speak to him, and not a stranger.”

    “But I can tell he doesn’t want to talk to me,” she said dully, her hair blowing in the breeze. “He’s angry at me.”

    “Don’t be so quick to judge a man’s appearance,” he answered, feeling a form of hope soaring within him. “It might be his shield, his defense against his emotions. If you tried, you might break the barrier, and find the answers you want.”

    He stood up, breaking away from the wall. “I will continue my surveillance of you elsewhere, it is not fitting for me to speak with you.”

    “I like talking with you,” May answered, standing up as well. “You can come in if you like.” She opened the window wider, but he did not move.

    “I’ll be seeing you, May Birch,” he finished, feeling for his belt. A small cable gun appeared in his gloved hand, and he latched the end to the plateau he stood on. “Try and get some sleep, you have a battle tomorrow.”

    He dropped from the landing, and swung out of sight. May caught the fleeting glance of gold before he vanished into the darkness.

    ***

    The next day, all went on as planned. The PKM had been there, and erased the memories that needed to be erased. It was like nothing had ever happened, only the memories Sarah and May held were kept. Even Brock and Max weren’t spared, it was like the day before had not happened. PKM had covered everything to the last detail, or rather 0 had. Unfortunately, due to an electric shortage, the events the day before had been cancelled.

    It was a good story, everyone’s minds would naturally develop memories. So the next day, it was business as usual. Ash ducked through the crowd, the bomb was just the first of many things to come. He and 0 had been told to work double hard, the protection of May Birch and the Festival was of primary importance now.

    May’s battle would take place in the second arena, 0 had asked him to look over her while he attended to certain matters the Ranger was not willing to discuss. Ash didn’t care, the thought of seeing her again gave his heart a small jump, and he had spoken to her the night before, maybe she would follow “0’s” advice. He would have to wait. Pikachu was in position, ready to alert him at the slightest trouble from the above floor.

    He straightened his coat, the black leather clashing against the golden shirt he wore. It was purely coincidence that he had packed so much yellow and black, it did not mean anything. Just because some of the Rangers wore their color in civilian form did not mean he did. He didn’t even belong to the group, the top-ranking cadets, that were given morphers. And he didn’t want to, he had been denying the Blue position for months. His excuse was it wasn’t his color, and the number 2 didn’t suit him.

    He pushed the promotion thoughts out of his head, and concentrated on the mission at hand. The crowd above the platform was immense, May was a big catch for the Festival, and not just because she was reigning champion. She was simply too attractive not to allow in, and the Festival, like all other events, required sex appeal. And May Birch delivered that, Ash could vouch for it.

    She was beautiful, even though her eyes betrayed the calm appearance she was giving off. She was afraid, and he wanted to comfort her, take her in his arms and tell her it would be all right. But he couldn’t, she was not his to protect, not anymore. So he watched, the fat stomach of Munchlax body slamming onto an unready opponent, and defeating her completely

    He felt longing.

    The contest ended shortly, in fact it was barely a contest. May was in a class of her own, graceful and beautiful, yet with her own inner power. He supposed it was the real her he had fallen for, and had lost as a result. It was over shortly, sadly, Ash enjoyed a fierce battle. But with May, it was normally very fast and furious, which held entertainment of its own value.

    The roar of the crowd rushed around him, but he felt nothing, none of the old rush. He couldn’t bring himself to cheer, to shout his support. His eyes grew duller, remembering the times when he had been happy. When May had been happy. When Sarah had had a family. She looked up into the group clustered above the arena, gazing down at her, scanning the sweeping crowd. He did not disappear like he was trained to, instead he allowed her to try and find him.

    May felt exhilarated, the blast of her battle surging through her. She was still alive, she knew, as she glanced over the crowd above her, her undying fans. Maybe…he’s up there, she thought, looking through the faces for Ash’s look. Watching over me.

    She saw them, the dead eyes that were trapped forever in Ash. The dark pools, dull and glazed, watched her from the stands, the dark hair blowing in the breeze inside the center. She lifted a hand, reaching for him through the vast emptiness of air and glass separating them. The crowds would think she was saluting them, but her eyes were glued to his, sapphire against onyx.

    A hand lowered from the pockets of the dark coat he wore, the fist uncurling into a fragile palm with fingers. They reached back, through the glass and air, to find hers once more. Ash answered, stretching his hand as far as he could. May did the same.

    May blinked, shutting her eyes for that brief instant, but when her eyes opened again, he was gone, vanished into the crowds. Her heart fell, she turned and headed for the elevator, reason leaving her mind. 0’s words flooded back to her. I…I have to speak to him, no matter how much he hates me, she swore, walking towards the doors leading to the upper levels. Sealing the doors behind her, she jammed her fingers on the buttons, desperation coming across her. The elevator rose instantly, and she was thankful that they had finally invented buttons that understood urgency. It wasn’t long before she arrived on the floor, and burst through the door.

    “Ash!” May called, turning her head everywhere to find him. The thousands of people around her, clustering around her, surrounding her, how was she supposed to find one person? Then the otaku came, again and again, to ask her out. And again and again, they slinked away to nurse their wounds. May felt woozy, unable to cope with the amount of people.

    She felt someone take her hand behind her, and she was jerked away from the crowds, the massive surge of people following like waves. May couldn’t see her savior, only knew to follow him, and outran the hoard of fans, rushing for the nearest quiet place.

    A library. Or, at the very least, a small bookstore inside the center. Deciding not to question her tall hero, May dashed after him, making it into the store before the nerd herd could find her. The door slammed shut behind them, and the people inside turned to see two very fluster people entering their domain.

    May breathed a sigh of relief, her face flushed. She felt tired, strange after a simple run from the paparazzi, she’d been going to the gym specifically for dodging them. The woman sank onto the wall, leaning onto her rescuer. “Well, at least that’ll keep me in shape,” she panted, feeling dark leather against her cheek.

    “At least your okay,” Ash replied, making her jump slightly. He turned his head, glancing down at her with a forced smile on his face. “It probably wouldn’t be good for the Festival for someone to be trampled to death.” He looked very calm, though the eyes were the same.

    Why do I keep looking at them? The eyes, one of the few things she had noticed about Ash, was the only thing she had noticed. Sure, they were dull and lifeless, but he had changed in many ways, not just his optics. His body under the coat, she could see it was pumped with muscle, stronger then steel. He was filled out better too, not in the bodybuilder class but definitely bigger then the tall, skinny kid he had been.

    His hair was longer too, she noticed, tied into the tail at the back with two strands. “Have you been working out?” she asked, hoping to start a conversation.

    “I don’t have much to do,” he replied, helping her away from the door. “I try and do what I can to keep busy, working out is one of them.”

    “It really suits you.”

    “Thank you.” He fell silent afterwards, considering where she wished the conversation to turn to. “Have you been running lately? I faded into obscurity, but the paparazzi still give me a hard time sometimes. Nowhere near as bad as you though.”

    “I’ve been trying to stay in shape, keep myself busy as well.” She brushed herself off, before starting into the store. “Come on,” she huffed, getting away from the door, “it’s quiet here. Why don’t we stay a while?” She smiled, looking up at him. He had a full head and neck on her, a serious contrast from the skinny boy that was only an inch taller then she was in the past.

    The smile on Ash’s face became less forced, and he rose to his full height. “All right,” he said, following her through the bookstore.

    They wandered through the small area, finding excuses to stop and glance over the isles of books. May did all the talking, Ash simply walked behind her, speaking only when she asked him something or directed something to him. He stood quietly, observing how she had not changed as much as he had thought in the time apart. She still knew how to laugh and smile, things he had forgotten. He was barely paying attention when a large object was thrown at him, striking him hard in the head.

    A large book slammed into him, knocking the man to the ground. Everything instantly came clear to Ash’s ears, especially the laughter coming from May’s mouth. “And this is funny how?” he asked, rubbing his nose, feeling the sharp sting that came with it. At least nothing was broken.

    “I’m so sorry,” she giggled, trying to cover her mouth. “I-just wanted you to see something, and you looked like you were out of this world. I just wanted to wake you, not knock ya down!”

    “Nice you find it funny,” Ash grumbled, rising from the ground. As he did, a very cross manager came up towards them, barely taller then Ash’s stomach. A massive moustache hid most of his face.

    “Keep it down, youngin’s,” he scolded them, wagging a sharp finger. Ash didn’t know how to handle it, he wasn’t used to people telling him what to do, outside the PKM. He saw May run up from behind him, and she bowed deeply to the manager.

    “Sorry, a book fell onto my friend here,” she lied, raising herself. “We are attempting to find something, and having trouble doing so.”

    “Well, keep it down,” he growled, pointing a finger at Ash’s stomach. “This one looks like a thief.”

    Ash jerked, making the man flinch. “I’m no thief, thieves don’t look as good as I do,” he joked, before turning around, continuing the walk May leading him forward. The manager shook his head, before finding something else to be interested in.

    Ash felt the book in his gloved hands, wondering what could have been so important that May had felt the need to throw it at him. “Hey, why’d you throw this at my head?” he asked, checking the book’s title.

    Chicken Soup for the Wife’s Soul was written in fine letters on the top, sinking deep into his memory. May walked up in front of him, looking at the book as well. “There’s…something in there, if you have the time, I’d like if you read later. I’ll have the manager mark it for you to see later.”

    Ash nodded, tucking the book under his arm, keeping it near him, but not enough to make it seem like he was indeed a thief. Ash glanced on the shelves, before sighting something that perked his memory. “Well, if you’re going to give me a book,” he said, reaching over her to take a small novel from the shelf, “I want to return the favor.”

    He landed her the small version of a story he had kept with him, as it related so well to what he had went through. “This is a good story, I hope you like it,” he said, handing her the book. She glanced over the cover, she had never seen the book before.

    V for Vendetta?” she asked, her eyes widening.

    “Don’t be so quick to judge,” Ash said. “You may find you actually like it.”

    “I’ll get to it,” she promised him, turning to face him. “As long as you read my book, I’ll read yours.”

    “It’s a bet then.”

    ***

    Both left the shop, confident that the paparazzi had moved on to other people and things. And with the sunglasses that May had also purchased, she stood more of a chance alone in the crowd then before. May had a small bag with her book inside, Ash’s was tucked into his coat. They both walked through the crowds, passing through them gently, as if they were not a part of the world beyond.

    “You…should probably go find your daughter,” Ash said, turning his head away from her. “I’m sure she would want to know you have won your match.”

    “Ash…” Her heart fell, something was wrong. Why did she feel so bad, when only the other day she had been making lists about what she would like to do to him involving flames? “Would you…would you like to meet your daughter?” she asked, feeling her face grow crimson.

    Ash stopped thinking, running into a large person in front of him. After apologizing to the now ice-cream covered man, he turned back to May, a startled look on his face. “What?”

    May swerved her eyes, unsure of meeting his gaze. “Would you like to meet Sarah?” she asked, raising her face to meet his.

    Ash’s heart soared within him, and to ruin the perfect moment, as her hand slid into his, the phone inside his pocket began to vibrate, signaling that something was going on. He slid the other hand into his pocket, not taking his eyes off of May for an instant.

    “Ketchum,” he muttered into the phone, his dark eyes annoyed. A voice was speaking, but May couldn’t tell who was calling him. Finally, Ash muttered, “Got it, I’ll be there in a sec.” He flipped the phone shut, and stuck it back into his pants. “I’m gonna have to take a rain check on that,” he said to her, his voice dropping. “Someone needs to talk to me.”

    “Oh…” May’s face drooped, and she stared at her feet. “…Okay.”

    “May.” Ash hesitated, before his hands met her face, lifting it up to face his own. “There is nothing in the world I would rather do right now then go with you, nothing in the whole world. But…there is someone who needs to see me. I’ll come back as soon as I can.” He lowered his head, pecking her lightly on the forehead. “I’ll see you in a minute.”

    Leaving her with a scarlet face, Ash bolted into the crowd, already running through his head what he was going to do to 0 for disturbing him. Swinging past the crowd, ducking through the surging audiences gazing on the battles, Ash found an unused elevator, and jammed himself into it, punching the key for the bottom floor, where 0 would be.

    “0!” Ash roared, the instant he was released. The gold fighter was in front of him, standing with his arms crossed. He wanted to punch the visor straight off, but settled for grabbing both sides of the neck, lifting the shorter man into the air without a second’s hesitation. “Mind explaining why you dragged me away, before I rip you apart?”

    “Release me Ketchum, before I make you regret your blinded eyes,” 0 retorted, throwing both his arms out to strike Ash’s gut. The grip loosened, and Ash crumbled to the floor, clutching his stomach. “Don’t be deceived by your stupid hopes, they will never happen. When will you understand that to be a Ranger you must become nothing to anyone?”

    “I don’t want to be a Ranger!” Ash protested, raising his body angrily. “Stop trying to make me you, I can‘t be what I hate!”

    0 stood silently, waiting for him to regain his composure. When he saw that Ketchum would be doing no such things, fists clenched into steel at the thought of attacking his body, he decided to speak. “Tell me Ketchum, why do you hate being a PKM agent, much less a Ranger?”

    “You stole my life from me,” he retorted stubbornly, his voice little more than a growl.

    “Then why, Ketchum, do you stay?” 0 asked, turning the visor up. “If you hate it so much you’d rather do all that then be a Ranger, why do you stay?”

    “You won’t let me leave,” Ash reminded him. “Don’t think I didn’t try to get out, but you got your way and forced me in. I can’t leave.”

    “My orders mean nothing, you are my successor whether you like it or not,” 0 said, pacing up and down. “And I will not have someone like you leave, you are too valuable to this organization.”

    “Why? What makes me so important that you have to annoy me any time I try and do something for myself?”

    “You are to wield my morphers, when I am gone! Accept that and move on!” 0’s voice had lost its control, the first time that Ash had ever known him to be so passionate about anything. “Nothing can change your fate Ketchum, you lost her because of yourself. You lost them, and found us.”

    He swerved, snapping a finger abruptly. Lights emerged, and a computer came into view. “Today, we received a report of an agent from another organization. PKM confirmed it is the agency targeting Ms. Birch. He is wearing a strange uniform, similar to PKM Ranger design.”

    “So why can’t you find him?” Ash asked, putting his thoughts away.

    “I have found him.” A map of the center appeared, and a dark dot emerged on the console. “Do you still have the Spirit Gauntlets with you?”

    Ash nodded, raising his hands. The golden gloves held fast in his clenched hands, as colorful as his chain.

    “Keep them with you, and man the post down here. Should anything happen, you know what to do, correct?”

    He nodded again. “Only until a replacement can be found,” Ash said, telling him the honest truth. He could not be a Ranger, he was not qualified to be one like 0 was. “I cannot be a Ranger.”

    “Very well then,” 0 finished, vanishing into nothing. “Goodbye Ketchum.”

    Ash nodded, though the way 0 had said it made it feel like the last time he would hear it.

    ***

    0 rushed through the crowds, barely using any of his power. He was nothing, even with his morphed form. He blasted through the crowds like bolts of lightning, keeping to the tops of the booths and shops, nothing more than an ebony shadow. He needed to hurry, he was certain the terrorist would make his move soon. May Birch was near the proximity he had chosen, and with her daughter near too. It would be a far too tempting target.

    0 soared, feeling as light as a feather as he leapt from the rooftops, locating the area had had found to be the terrorist’s domain. This particular one was a person he knew quite well, and was more of a demolition specialist then an actual fighter. But the fact that an agency had technology like PKM worried him, the suit the stranger wore bore the same tech designs the Golden Ranger uniform did, with a few things missing and added. He had sent the specs to PKM to be analyzed.

    He had not regrets, what he was about to do. The scanners had picked up a bomb in the area, and he knew it would be waiting for May. He knew that there was one way to stop it, and that would be to take it full on. The target was always more important then he was, he had learned that long ago.

    Did he wish it was another way? Of course he did, the bomb could harm innocents. He was not innocent, for all that he denied. He had dragged Ketchum into the PKM against his will, and destroyed the man’s happiness. What right did anyone have to see themselves as a hero after his life?

    There was much he had never told anyone, he had never said aloud. He was in a way no different then Ash, probably why he could see Ketchum in the Golden Ranger suit more then anyone. Ash had a family, no matter how much he had distanced himself. He had no friends, he had severed all his ties, though he took part in various matches to keep up some form of his former image.

    He spotted May Birch in front of him, she was easily recognizable in the crowd. She was the one with the terrorist mark on 0’s visor, warning him that she was the target. She was coming close, and 0 could detect the faint bomb that she was nearing. He would have to create a distraction if he was to save the center.

    He snapped his fingers, and a bright yellow shock formed in his fingers. Continuing the race against time, 0 planted his hand against the wall near him, bringing to life the electric jolt he had created. RSP was a very useful system, he thought, as the lightning crack sprang up the wall, aimed directly for the small nozzles on the top. It only took that little display of power to empty the center quickly.

    It began to rain down water, the sprinklers under the idea that 0’s jolt was an actual fire. People began to scream in shock, vacating the area as fast as humanly possible, the intercoms calling for them to leave to allow repairs to be done to the waterworks. 0 wondered how stupid people really were to believe those announcements, and if he had ever been that dumb.

    He dove down the moment it was clear, the suit protecting him against the rain coming down, and headed straight for May Birch and Sarah. Nothing else mattered, she needed to be protected. That was his mission. He was almost to her when he appeared, the dark stranger.

    He looked so like 0, it was hard to believe he wasn’t. The suit was pitch black, with a white oval visor and ebony tunic on the chest. Dark gauntlets and black boots, with gloves made up the cloth, looking exactly like 0 save for one thing. Where in the center of 0’s chest was the image of a bird surrounded by gold, there was a white boulder. On his arms, in the midst of the new waves of screaming around the people, was a massive launcher, a missile lodged directly into the center.

    “May Birch, I am here to kill you,” he hissed, the dark voice chilling them to the bone. 0 leapt over them, standing before the two, arms raised in defense.

    “No you don’t,” 0 replied, keeping his helmet facing the dark murderer. “May Birch, get away from here. When he is finished, he will come after you. You must find your allies, and run. Go!” He heard the scampering of feet behind him, and knew she had obeyed.

    “Fine, I’ll kill the most powerful Ranger in the damn PKM,” the ebony spat, holding up the launcher. “They’ll reward me for that, at the very least. Then I can take the wench with me.”

    “Don’t think I won’t go down without a fight, stranger.” 0 lowered his form, shifting into an attack mode. He was planning to battle till he could not longer stand, which would be very, very soon. “I’ll take you with me, at the very least, to use your terms.”

    The missile would fire soon, the instant that the dark one grew tired of speaking to 0. The finger was itching with desire to kill him, but he needed to buy as much time as he could. It was clear, however, that he was in no mood to speak, he was an assassin. 0 could respect that he wished to finish his own mission, if nothing else.

    “We could really use someone like you in the PKM,” he said, crouching low.

    “Too bad you don’t have a ‘Blow Crap Up’ section,” the man retorted, aiming the sights on the Golden Ranger. “And too bad your organization is now minus one Ranger. We have six.”

    “One of us is worth a million of yours,” 0 retorted. “In the PKM, we are never alone.”

    He leapt up, just as the missile fired.

    ***

    0 floated, time seemed to stop around him. He saw the missile as though in slow motion, and knew there was only one way to stop it. He crouched in midair his feet touching the smooth steel of the gray bomb as it passed under him. The explosive noise was blocked out of his head, and he grabbed the neck of the missile with a single hand, twisting to ride the bomb.

    It was so powerful, that not even his weight was slowing it down. The fires behind him blasted the Ranger through the air, he kicked his foot upwards, surfing through the air with the bomb. 0 piloted the craft, aiming it straight upwards, trying to figure something out. He could not crash it into the ceiling, that would destroy the center and harm thousands of people.

    Gripping the shuttle with his gloved palm, he maneuvered his feet, forcing the missile to change direction. It bent in the air, creating a perfect U turn headed straight back for its owner. 0 grinned underneath the visor, seeing through the man’s visor at the look of panic that was no doubt running through his head.

    “Care for your own medicine?” 0 growled, steering the missile straight for the man.

    A communication entered the visor, and Ketchum’s voice emerged instantly, shouting warnings and protest. He ignored it, this was the only way for him. 0 roared, and kicked the missile down, sending it straight into the floor. He barely saw as the dark man ducked, getting as far away from the impact zone as possible.

    The head hit the floor, and an explosion echoed through the center. 0’s face was peaceful, even as he was torn apart, the Golden Ranger had taken his last breaths. The suit came apart, and he felt his Spirit leaving the morphers, and the morphers themselves coming undone from the uniform he wore, the person he was. His skin simply vanished, and he sighed.

    Good fortune…Ash…Those last words came out in the suit’s final testament, and the Ranger became no more.

    ***

    Ash shouted in frustration.

    No, this couldn’t be happening. But he could not deny what was happening, 0’s body vanishing into the blast that consumed a large area of the center. He scanned the computer, searching for his life signal. There was none, 0 was gone.

    Ash raised his hands to his face, wanting to shout in anger. The hands, the gloves glowed with golden light. He was being transferred the morphers 0 owned, the morphers that were who he had been. The final proof that 0 was gone, when a Ranger died, their morphers were given up, passed on to an agent who held the gauntlets for the transfer. And that happened to be him.

    The golden disks bound to straps made of iron formed in his palms, the last remnants of 0, the only remnants of 0. He held them tightly, clenching them in his fists. It wasn’t fair, that to do what he needed…he had to sacrifice everything again.

    He didn’t have a choice. When he thought he would always have the final say, stupid 0 had been right. The morphers glowed in his hands, they were his now. The man called 0 was gone, destroyed by the morphers’ powers. Even 0’s form had vanished, dissimilated rather then give it to the enemy. 0 was a soldier to the end.

    The morphers in his hands were circles, with small straps on the ends to attach them to his wrists. 0 was gone, his hardened voice would never be heard again. Now it was time to pass the torch, and allow Ash to take his place. The agent clenched them in his hands, hell spinning around him as the unknown terrorist rammed through the center, swinging guns like crazy, blasting into the air, getting closer and closer to her. To May.

    “Pikachu, to me!” he shouted, standing up in midst of the chaos. He heard a scampering, as the mouse leapt down from its perch, landing directly on his shoulder. Both watched from high ground, calculating a strategy that might work. “Pikachu, we have to…we must do what is needed.” His voice hurt, he remembered the sacrifice that it would cost both of them to transform. “Will you become the Morphing Spirit again? Will you fuse with me once more?”

    Pikachu knew that Ash was really telling it what would happen, Ash knew Pikachu would do it. It supposed that Ash needed to make peace with the fact that they would both die if they lost while morphed. “Pi!” it shouted, flipping down onto the ground to face its trainer. “Pikachu!”

    Ash nodded, it had given its consent. Wordlessly, he pulled out the morphers, strapping them to his hands. The Golden Gauntlets he was wearing simply melted into them, giving them added power. Both disks spun as he placed them on, setting them into place.

    “Name…” a voice asked, Ash knowing it was the morphers. “Rank…Number…”

    “Ash Ketchum,” he replied, clearing his throat. After this, there is no going back, the voice in his head reminded him. 0 has passed on, no one else will be able to activate the morphers save for you. Think about your friends, your family, everyone. You’ll never be able to have that life again. Ash pushed it away, for once ignoring the dark messenger within the corridors of his mind.

    That is why I must do it. To save them, I need the power. For the power, I must be willing to sacrifice everything. That’s what being a Ranger is all about, to protect people and Pokemon above all other things. He grinned, his mind made up. His dark eyes glistened, the spark slowing returning to where it had long laid dormant.

    “It’s morphing time!” Ash roared, clamping both hands together. “Agent Ash Ketchum, undercover protector. Present rank: Agent 0 of the PKM!”

    “Agent…accepted…” the morphers replied. “Please contain Spirit for PKM Ranger Mode.”

    Ash glanced down at Pikachu, it was what they both wanted. To save the world, like they had so many times before. “Ready Pikachu?” he asked, preparing the scanner once more, just like those years ago. This time it would be permanent, his Pokemon would never escape from it. And neither could he.

    “Pi!” Pikachu nodded, standing tall with its trainer.

    “Digital Analyzer!” he shouted, aiming both morphers at Pikachu. “Capture the Spirit!”

    Bright golden light burst from the disks, striking hard against the mouse Pokemon’s body. Pikachu grunted, before its body began to vanish and feed the morpher. Ash felt a tear come to his eyes, but put it away. Crying could come later, when the center was safe again. His first, and greatest Pokemon, his only friend during his years in the PKM, vanished finally, its eyes glinting in determination as the morphers began to convert a suit for Ash to use, the suit of the new Golden Ranger.

    The disks transformed, turning into sharp lightning bolts once more, brief zigzags bonded to his body by metal straps. They were gold clashed against black, midnight stripes that spanned his wrist. The preparations were complete for his accession, something 0 had probably planned for him ever since meeting him.

    “My name is Ash Ketchum,” he recited, modifying the words that 0 had often said. “I am now 0, also known as the Golden Ranger.”

    He lifted both morphers to his face, crossing them before his eyes. The world around him fell silent, the area completely empty. It was good, he wanted no interruptions. “Golden Spirit!” he shouted, throwing the morphers out sideways. “Pokemon Power!”

    The world glowed golden.

    ***

    “Help!”

    May screamed, grabbing Sarah in her arms and running. The masked assassin, the one 0 had warned about, was coming. His jet-black suit that masked all characteristics about him was unmistakable in the panicking crowd, surging like the sea around her, eager to escape the fate of others who had crossed him, and found themselves beaten down.

    He would be there soon, she was sure of it. No matter how fast she ran, or how far she went, he would get her. He held no weapon now, taking out the people in his way with quick blows to the head, sending them slamming to the ground. “0!” May shouted as a final resort, rushing. It wasn’t long though, before he was upon her, seeing her in the visor in the crowd. Sarah was screaming in her arms, but she kept going.

    To stop meant death, she knew this. Ignoring all but fleeing, she felt something hard collide with her body, her back feeling pain. It was only then she realized she had tripped, shielding her child with her own body from harm. She looked up, seeing the man’s dark mask, seeing her own terrified reflection in the visor.

    “May Birch,” the voice said coolly, coming from the man. “I am here to kill you, and that brat you hold.”

    People panicked and fled, rushing from the area instantly. Only Brock and Max remained, jumping in front of her and Sarah, getting in the man’s way. Their eyes betrayed their fear, but they did not act on it, standing against him.

    “That’s as far as you go,” Max ordered, holding up a small red and white ball from his belt. “No one, whoever they are or how late Halloween is, messes with my big sister!”

    “You’ll have to go through both of us,” Brock said, cracking his knuckles.

    The mask smiled. “That seemed all right.” Without a pause, the man leapt forward, raising both hands. Brock put up his dukes, jabbing him in the head. Searing pain met his wrist, Brock was unaware that the mask was made of solid steel. The masked murderer’s head bent lightly, but the redness in the breeder’s knuckles were obvious. He sent a chop to the fox-eyed man’s head, dropping him without a sound.

    “You’re next,” he said to Max, kicking him hard in the chest. Max was thrown back, his back striking against the center’s walls. He fell, blood dripping from his back, staining the green shirt he wore crimson underneath. May back away, eyes blurring as her friends were defeated. 0 had been destroyed, but she cried his name.

    “Help me!” she screamed, putting Sarah behind her, the child’s head wailing in fear. “Someone, please save us!”

    “No one is coming,” the man hissed, turning towards her. His black suit hid everything, only the symbol in the middle, a rocky circle, was colored white, glaring at her. A white visor, in the shape of an oval, turned to face her, a fist forming in both gloved hands.

    May screamed again, as the fist came down hard.

    ***

    Golden light shot through the center, the fist not meeting the maiden’s face. The black warrior wasn’t moving, his hands held by a second fighter. A fighter clad in gold. May and Sarah opened their eyes carefully, the light coming from the second blinding.

    It was 0.

    “Miss me?” 0 asked, his voice turned into a fierce growl. The other began to stutter, but not before 0 delivered a kick that sent him flying, soaring to the other side of the center. His screams could be heard, but 0 knew he wasn’t done. The scanners within his visor told him that much, the life reading still strong. Ignoring the opponent, he turned his focus to the wife now lost to him forever, and the daughter who would never know he existed.

    “Are you all right?” he asked, bending down to offer a gloved hand to May. He was still so bright, she could barely see the dark glove whose palm was covered in golden armor. She took it, and 0 helped her rise to her feet, carefully assisting Sarah as well.

    “0?” she asked, how was that possible? Hadn’t he died, she had seen his body blow up into pieces that vanished. “Is it really you 0?” Her face was very hot, she realized, she was blushing at the golden fighter. The Golden Ranger glanced down at her, his dark helmet asserting the damage she had taken. Finding none, he nodded.

    “I am 0,” he answered, his voice matching perfectly the former who had held the title. The synthesizer within the suit allowed him to do so, casting the illusion that a PKM Ranger could never be destroyed, as long as another was there to take their place. “I’m here to save you.”

    The light died down, and May breathed as she got her first true glance at the uniform he wore.

    His chest was a mass of gold, shining as bright as the sun. There were gauntlets as well, the same color. The aura that surrounded 0 gave the impression that he was indeed a mass of gold, but that was not the case. His boots were dark yellow, as were the covers he wore on the palms of his hands. The helmet was ebony, but with a golden triangle in the center that made up the visor.

    Everything else was black. The armored leggings he wore, the protection on his arms and gloves, it was all darkness. The helmet was a crown of black, hiding everything about him. 0’s body rippled with muscle, the proof of hardened years of training for this moment. Then her eyes were cast onto the symbol he wore, in the direct center of the chest.

    It was dark, a mouse-like image embedded on his uniform. It stretched from the golden belt to the pectorals, covering more then half of the chest in ebony. A triangular face that stretched upwards, branching into two long ears, before coming down once more to make up the Spirit that fueled the transformation. In the lower face were two red ovals, two red cheeks as crimson as blood. It was the face of a Pikachu, modified for the Ranger.

    0 had been reborn.

    And he was very, very angry.

    “Get over here, so I can beat you down!” he commanded, bracing himself as the black murderer appeared once more. Their faces showed nothing, but electricity sparked from 0 his presence threatening. “You do not harm the innocent.”

    “I kill who I am told to, PKM,” he replied dully, pulling out a sword from his back, a katana etched in black color. “You have no hold over me, so save the sentimental speech for someone who cares.”

    0 glanced at the sword, and felt his hands clench within the gauntlets. “As you wish,” he answered, raising both fists. “May Birch, get you, your daughter, and your friends out of here. I will see to this.” He altered the tone in his voice, more gentle yet forceful. He needed her out of the area, he could not fight when he was worried about her.

    She nodded, turning to Sarah. “Come on baby,” she said, her shaky voice stuttering. Sarah gazed towards the Golden Ranger, fear in her eyes, before she nodded, running for her life. May grabbed Max, and Brock got up, despite the crippling pain, and the four bolted from the empty center, leaving 0 to face the dark one.

    “Now,” 0 said, growling lightly, “where were we?” He clenched his hands, noticing the weapon in the other’s hand. The suit he was wearing was not equipped with such artillery. “I need a plan,” he muttered, bracing himself for the opponent’s rush.

    Welcome 0,” a voice said into the com link. Its voice was high and squeaky, like a mouse’s. “I am the Morphers you used to activate me. I am here to assist you.

    0 couldn’t believe it, it was too good to be true. “Pikachu?” he asked carefully, hoping.

    Correct, Agent 0,” Pikachu replied, its voice barely contained with excitement. “It seems that as I created the suit that you are presently in, I can communicate with you. This is quite enjoyable, my voice is being translated into human language for easier usage. Do you agree?”

    “It’s nice to hear your voice again,” 0 said, maybe being a Ranger wouldn’t be all bad. “Now, how’s about we figure something out for the guy with the sword?”

    Affirmative.” A screen appeared in the visor for 0, indicating a special program for his usage. “Activating Ranger Spirit Powers.”

    “What’s that?”

    RSP, a system designed for the Golden Ranger’s use,” Pikachu replied, showing a small scan of the suit. “It allows you to use my abilities, which were transferred into the suit. This is a new standard not in use when you were given the suit before.”

    “Got it.” 0 clamped his hands together, feeling a small tingle form in his fingers. A small yellow shock formed, charged with electricity.

    “Hey, you gonna fight or what?” the black suited man shouted, swinging the weapon over his head.

    0 grinned. “Let’s see, we have a super-suited man with a sword, versus me. I don’t know who could possibly win in that kind of battle. Maybe…me!” 0 sprinted forward, not waiting another instant. He’s gonna pay for threatening May! 0 swore silently, keeping his personal thoughts to himself, and leapt into the air, defying gravity.

    0 soared down, dodging the sword swipes with ease, like he had been doing it all his life. The dark man seemed stunned, trying frantically to kill him. Such a pity, 0 thought, swinging a kick towards the katana’s hilt, sending it flying to the ground behind him. A punch soon followed, smashing into the visor with armored force, breaking a large gash into the steel. 0 could see the man’s eyes now, wide eyed with fear.

    “W-what are you?” he asked, the blue tingling with fear. 0 smiled under his mask.

    0 paused for a moment, almost unsure of his response. He was many things, several of which he was not proud of. A liar, a savior, a father, and now, a Ranger. “A protector,” he decided, removing his hand from the murderer’s face, “of people that count on me.”

    His feet came up, and the stranger knew no more.
    ______________________

    ADMIRE THE SIG! And review if ya have time. But seriously, don't lower the fic rating without good reason. It really ticks me off...

    And I'm out! Read the Shattered Sword for more super hero action in the latest chapter!
    Last edited by Encyclopika; 25th May 2006 at 2:50 AM. Reason: double post
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

  21. #21
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    Morph Five- Evaluation

    0 stood silently over the chaos, watching through the golden visor the scene below. Rescue vehicles were on the scene immediately. There was a small hole in the ceiling, nothing compared to the sinking crater below the ground, exposing the basement. Many of the arenas were destroyed, not even the PKM would be able to handle a problem like this. The truth would have to be told, or at least, a part of it. PKM was a very special agency, one that was known to the public thanks to the Rangers that were a part of it, but it also was required by the governments that employed it to remain as undetected as possible.

    “That won’t be happening,” 0 said quietly, he had been silent for long enough. So far, no one had seen the new Golden Ranger up on the landing, across the street from the center the Festival took place at. He was almost relieved at the thought of its destruction, so far the reports had given no fatalities save for one, the mystery murderer covered in black armor similar to the Ranger’s own.

    He clenched the gloved hands, feeling two small bands in his hands, the morphers he had confiscated from the man. It meant that someone had developed technology potentially rivaling to the PKM, though it did not have the RSP that his suit came with. He had assessed that portion already, thanks to the scanners in his suit.

    Agent 0...” Pikachu’s voice entered his ears, returning him to the world that surrounded him, rather then his own thoughts. “Message from the PKM. Patching through for you.”

    “Thanks.” It was difficult for 0 to accept, now that the moment had passed, that he was a Ranger now. “This is Agent 0,” he said, as the com link in his suit came online. “What is it?”

    Ketchum,” said a tired, grayed voice, the voice of his supervisor. “What are you doing in that suit? Where is the real 0?”

    0 shifted, that was strange. Normally, the PKM were always on top of things, though they were probably confirming what had happened from an eyewitness. “The previous 0 is dead,” he cited, remembering how the missile had been averted from May. “I was given the morphers in his place. I am now the Golden Ranger.”

    That will be determined later,” the voice replied. “For now, you must return to HQ for evaluation. The Festival has been called off due to terrorist attacks. You will return, and bring with you the morphers from the terrorist. You will then be given your next assignment.”

    “I’ve got them right here,” 0 answered, dangling the morphers in front of his visor. “I’ll be back in three days.”

    You have one.” The line went dead, and 0 pocketed the morphers in his belt.

    “Stupid hicks,” he grumbled, looking down at his wrists. The golden lightning bands were bonded to him, just like his Spirit, Pikachu. He would learn to live with it for a few days, then they could separate him from them. “We have one day Pikachu, and it takes half a day to return to HQ. What do you recommend?”

    Well, I believe it may be wise to practice with the morphers, and the Golden Ranger abilities if you plan to continue using them,” it replied, its voice strangely mechanical. “You won simply because of blind luck this time. Next time they may send someone greater, the murderer mentioned there were five more.”

    “First, how’s about we tone down the robot talk?” 0 asked. “Is that really how you speak?”

    Oh, thank you Ash,” Pikachu sighed, breathing a sigh of relief. “I just felt like playing the part of your Spirit.”

    “You’re more then a Spirit Pikachu,” 0 answered, chuckling lightly. “If it wasn’t for you, I couldn’t become this and save May and them. You’re more then my armor, you’re my best friend, and after this is over, you still will be. I’ll never look at you differently.”

    Thank you Ash.”

    “Don’t mention it buddy,” he replied, swerving his head. “Come on, I think we’d better go check up on May and Sarah, make sure they’re doing all right after today. And I should swing my the hospital and see how Brock and Max are doing, I think they got hurt in the crossfire.”

    Sounds like a plan,” Pikachu said, enjoying its returned freedom of speech. The suit it had become prevented it from having much without Ash’s consent. It was nice to be of help to its trainer, and now its bonder. “The fastest way there is…” A screen appeared on the visor, with a map of the city attached, showing two dots, one for the hospital and the other for the hotel, “these.”

    “Let’s get rolling, I think I’ll take off the suit for now,” 0 said, raising his hands. “Power down!”

    Golden light flashed, surrounding him in an ethereal glow. The force inverted, and Ash Ketchum began to appear, forming from the Golden Ranger’s body. The long locks of hair emerged, ebony like the night surrounding him, and his body appeared, covered by dark cloth. Dark pants, a gold shirt, and a black leather jacket. On his neck dangled the ring, but for once he put it out of his head. The fierce eyes, previously dulled by the years apart, glowed through the seeping darkness with intensity.

    “We’d better get moving,” Ash, the Golden Ranger, said, before falling to the ground, and breaking into a run. The streets whizzed beside him, Pikachu’s voice in his ear as he began to make his way east, towards the hotel. Protecting the target was his first priority, and he knew that. At the same time though, the agent was excited at what May had said, about meeting his daughter. He hoped she was being serious.

    ***

    May shivered, drawing Sarah close to her. The day had been too tiring on them, and the attempt on their lives had not been pleasant. The dark man was still in her head, swords and guns and everything flashing through her mind. She drew the blanket closer to her and her daughter, wanting to forget so terribly his white visor, his voice’s hiss.

    But 0 had saved them, rising from the dead to protect her life twice that day, first with the missile, and then in combat. The Golden Ranger continued to amaze her, with his sage advice and brutal battles. He was a true hero, one that the PKM could be proud of, whoever was in the organization. She sighed, Sarah had not spoken since they had returned to the room with the police, Officer Jenny keeping everyone away for them to rest.

    “Are you all right honey?” she whispered to her child, hugging her tightly. “Did the bad man hurt you?”

    The girl sighed, her dark eyes glazed. “Mommy, was that man in black a Ranger?” she asked, turning her head behind her, to her mother who cradled her on the bed, wrapped in her embrace. “Was the man in yellow a Ranger?”

    “The man in gold is 0,” she replied, brushing Sarah’s hair out of her face. “He’s a friend, he saved us today. The bad man…he looked like one, but he’s not a Ranger. The Rangers are good people who protect us, no matter who they are behind the masks they wear. They never ask for anything, they help people.”

    “Then why did the man who looked like a Ranger try to kill Mommy?” Sarah asked, her eyes fearful. “I don’t want Mommy to go anywhere, specially to the hospital with Uncle Max and Brock.”

    “I’m not going anywhere,” May reassured her child, patting her dark hair. “Why don’t you try to go to sleep, and forget about how hard today was?”

    Sarah nodded, climbing out of her mother’s bed, and started for hers, sinking into sleep almost the instant she hit the covers, falling into a deep slumber. May sighed, wishing she could sleep like that, after an attack like the one they had gone through that day. Maybe the child was stronger than her mother.

    A knock issued from the hotel’s door, followed by a soft whisper. “Hey, mind if I come in here?” it asked, the voice panting and urgent. May only needed a moment to realize it was Ash’s, and the ragged voice was probably from the running he had to do to get past security. She stood up, keeping the blanket close to her, for she was wearing nothing more then her pajamas under it. May crept to the door, her brown hair trailing behind her, before she unlocked the latch sealing the outside from the room.

    Ash opened it instantly, sending the door flying and wrapping her in a powerful embrace. His hands came around her, but she did not shrink away as she once would have, the powerful limbs would not release her for one, jerking in fear. He was so relieved, to see her in one piece. “I…came as soon as I heard,” he murmured into her ear, his pants growing less and less. “Are you both all right?”

    And for the first time in a long time, May wrapped her own arms around him, pulling him closer, needing the comfort that only two people could give one another. “Yes…0 saved us. We both got out fine, so did Max and Brock.”

    “I’m not worried about them,” he replied, feeling her hair against his face. It was…so soft and gentle, the way it used to be. “I’m worried about you two.” His voice was shaking, he really was scared for them. “Nothing broken?”

    “We’re fine Ash.” Truth be told, she was happy that he was so worried, and she was so happy to be back in his arms. “We’re fine…” She sighed, feeling his chest against her face, his face against her hair. They stood still very quietly, before she realized she was wearing very little, and he was beginning to notice. She pulled him away gently, holding his arms. “Did you…meet that person you were talking about?”

    “I did.” He gave nothing more, but she didn’t really care. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there, but at least 0 protected you. I’ll…I will be there next time…”

    She smiled, looking up into the hidden eyes. The dark room shrouded them both, all save for the glitter that was on his chain, the wedding ring he could not bring himself to remove. May had forgotten where hers was, but it wasn’t really important. “Thank you Ash,” she sighed, gazing up into the hidden eyes. “Thank you for…wanting to be there, if that’s anything.”

    “I feel really weak right now,” Ash replied, feeling the pit welling up into his stomach. “I couldn’t be there, and I almost lost you both, when you’re already lost to me…I guess that doesn’t really make sense, huh?” He chuckled lightly, though it wasn’t all that funny. He needed something to keep himself going.

    “I guess neither of us have moved on.” They both turned to their child, sleeping in her bed. Ash’s eyes came alive, looking down onto his daughter. May felt for his hand, taking it gingerly between her fingers. “She has your spirit,” she said, looking with a parent’s eyes at the girl.

    “Your daughter is very beautiful May,” Ash answered, tightening the grip gently. “She has your looks.” His face broke into a true smile, one of ultimate satisfaction. It had been so long since he had seen Sarah, he had dreamed of meeting his daughter for a long time. “It’s too bad she’s asleep, but at least she’s safe. I’m happy to see both of you aren’t harmed.”

    He withdrew his fingers, and looked at May. “Is the Festival being cancelled?” he asked, changing the subject.

    “The center is destroyed, I really don’t think there’s much else they can do. Sarah and I will probably go back to my parents with Max for a while, before heading to our home.” She missed his hands, and reached for them. Ash put his hands in his pocket, though he did so unwillingly. She could see the pain in his features.

    “I have to go May,” he said, not meeting her eyes. “I don’t know when I’ll see you and Sarah again, so that intro we planned will have to wait. But I promise I’ll come back, and I’ll tell you everything you want to know. 0 will protect you, I’m sure of it, but I need…to go somewhere.”

    She nodded, she didn’t think he would stay. He was a traveler, and it was how he dealt with his emotions. “Can you tell me where, if nothing else?” she asked, pulling the man close to her. She felt the dark breath from his nose, she was so close to him.

    Ash paused, unsure what to tell her. “Somewhere close,” he decided, his heart hurting. It was no longer the dull throb he had felt, it was real and painful, threatening to spill all his secrets, old and new, towards the woman he loved, the woman he had left for the duty that now called. He had traded the bliss of his marriage for shackles he could not escape from. He glanced behind her, at the moon shining through the window. “The moon’s full tonight,” he said, turning her to face the window. “When I’m gone, I’ll look at it every night. I always have, because I knew you could see the same moon I did. It…helped me feel connected to you, I guess. If you ever feel lonely, just look out there and know I’m looking back.”

    She glanced over the orb’s surface, seeing the craters. She felt his hands leave him, and turned around. No one was in the room, even the door was locked. May sighed, feeling her heart race for the first time in years. Ash was gone, but he had certainly left an impression that would not be forgotten.

    ***

    Agent 0 arriving,” chimed a voice above Ash’s head. The agent sighed, he hated visiting PKM, it was one of those things he did only when necessary. He glanced at the morphers, it had become necessary. Ash stepped out of the small room he had sealed himself in to enter the HQ, and the doors swung open to admit him. A small hiss issued as steam erupted from the room elevator, and Ash stepped through.

    “Ketchum!” blared a voice from his left, the instant his dark shoes stepped out into the narrow metal corridor. Ash felt someone grab him, and suddenly met the floor with strange intensity. He felt someone on top of him, and groaned slightly. He knew exactly who the voice belong to, and what they wanted.

    He turned his eyes, meeting the gaze of PKM 3, White Ranger, Serena. Her white hair was strewn around his body, her lithe form concealing the unbelievable muscle power she had within her. “Gerroff me,” Ash groaned, feeling pain enter his shoulder. “What have I asked you about tackling me?”

    “Sorry Ketchum,” she replied sweetly, though the green eyes betrayed her intents to cop plenty of feels. He now had to keep locks by the dozen to keep her out of his station. “You know how I don’t know my own strength…or should that be sorry sir?” She grabbed his wrists, showing the new lightning morphers Ash was wearing. “You’re 0 now.”

    “Not for long,” Ash answered, pushing her off him. “I’m returning them the instant I can, I told you I’m not a Ranger. You and 0.”

    Serena looked troubled, she sure was overdramatic. “Pweeaze Ashy? Pweease be a Ranger for Serena?”

    Ash stood up, groaning lightly. “No 3, I can’t. You know that, and I can’t change my feelings about being a Ranger.” He rose to full height, practically dwarfing her in comparison. Serena stood up as well, not in the least bit hurt at his emotion-lacking self, it was the best part of the new Golden Ranger.

    She was very beautiful, for an agent. She should have been a model, not a Ranger. Her long silver hair flowed the her waist, while her emerald eyes gazed intently at him. She was barely up to his chest, and she had to stand on tiptoes in her black boots. The white jacket and white shirt she wore covered her bountiful chest, her lithe body under the shirt and black pants. The number 3 was engraved on the left side of her uniform.

    “I know you want it sir,” she giggled, laughing at his serious face. “Just get in there and take the job you know you were chosen for. It’s time you got off your high horse.” She took his hand, and began to pull him straight through the HQ, not waiting for him to reply. Ash jerked, but was unable to defeat her powerful grasp.

    He sighed, why did she have to out him of all people? Ever since he had arrived, Serena had made it a point to flirt with him as much as she could, especially since agents had to obey Rangers. Oh, the torture she had put him through in, from innuendo to ‘accidentally’ bumping into him in the shower. But nothing the White Ranger did made any difference in his manner towards her, completely and totally robot. And she found that strangely…enticing.

    “I can find my way through here on my own!” Ash protested, hauling to keep his arm attached to his body. “Let go 3!”

    And she did, sending him sprawling to the floor. Ash groaned again, he always seemed to be getting injuries around Serena. “As Agent 0 of the PKM, I order you to calm the hell down!” he shouted, pulling rank in the desperate hope that she would stop. But Serena was a good soldier, and stopped, allowing Ash to get to his feet, as gracefully as he possibly could.

    “Bout time you used that,” she grinned, leading him through the narrow metal corridors, practically skipping like she always did when he arrived. Serena led him deeper into the fortress that was known as PKM HQ, seeing various stationed agents awaiting their next missions. Ash had been lucky, allowed to live outside to maintain his image, he rarely returned to HQ unless needed, or if a mission came up. He really didn’t like it there.

    Ash did not wear the PKM uniform like Serena did, which was specially tailored for her Ranger rank. 0 had had one as well, and 1 had one also. 2 had died some months back, so he couldn’t really remember about him. It didn’t matter, Ash decided, as he neared the briefing room.

    Serena stopped in front of two large doors made of wrought-iron, with a small console to its right for identifying agents that appeared before the chambers, where the highest ranking members of PKM gathered. No one ever saw their faces, but Ash had never been asked before them for such an important reason. The disarming and removal of Ranger morphers were by no means a simple task, he was sure it hadn’t been done before. Then again, every Ranger before him had been willing.

    “Scanning for Rangers is slightly different,” she explained, pulling up the sleeves of her jacket, revealing snowy-white morphers very much like Ash’s. “For regular agents, they give their name and number, but for Rangers, we also add our designation. Like this.” She stood in front of the console, her wrists out.

    Ranger locked,” the console said, scanning the morphers. “Please verify name, rank, and number.”

    “Serena Brine,” she replied clearly. “Agent 3 of the PKM, White Ranger.”

    Welcome Agent 3,” the machine replied, its monotone annoying.

    “You’re up,” Serena said, pointing to the console. “Just repeat what I did, but with your info.”

    Ash nodded, stepping forth towards the screen. He pushed up the leather jacket he was wearing, exposing the morphers 0 had given him, the ones holding Pikachu’s spirit. He held them over the scanner, which emitted a red beam to check the morphers for bugs or fakes.

    Ranger locked,” it repeated dully, boring even for Ash. “Please verify name, rank, and number.”

    Ash nodded, clearing his throat. “Ash Ketchum,” he said, pausing before the second part. “Agent 0 of the PKM, Golden Ranger.”

    Welcome Agent 0,” it replied, the doors opening instantly to admit them both. “Agent 0 is expected for evaluation, Agent 3 is not. Please explain irregularity.”

    “Chaperone for new Ranger,” Serena answered, passing in front of the machine. “Open the doors.”

    Complying request…” The machine’s voice fell silent, and the iron doors began to creak open. Ash wasn’t intimidated, it was simply a ploy the council used to scare cadets entering. He was more then a cadet, even before 0 had died. He just wasn’t afraid of much. As soon as enough of the door was open, he strolled in, hands in his pockets and Serena skipping at his heels.

    Agent Ash Ketchum entering council chambers,” the machine droned, the agents ignoring it. They walked down a much larger corridor which led to a single circular room before them, with the same small chair that sat in the dead center of the room. Ash’s ears picked up the shuffling of papers above him, a mild cough from a councilman, and knew what they were, just old men trying to frighten him.

    He did not frighten easily.

    Ketchum,” stated the familiar councilman, who normally spoke to him. His voice was quiet, almost a whisper, while the others murmured. Ash could hear at least ten. “You are here to be evaluated in the case of your new temporary rank of Golden Ranger. Do you understand this?”

    Ash nodded. “I do.”

    Very well then. Ranger Brine has asked to testify on your behalf, so we shall begin.” He shuffled his papers, coughing mildly to get the excess air out of his system. “You are presently in possession of the Golden Ranger morphers, correct, received from the prior Agent 0?”

    “I am,” Ash replied, holding up his wrists, exposing the bracelets to the council. “0 entrusted them to me before he died. They passed on to me, and I contained a Spirit into them due to the necessity of a Ranger in a mission. During this mission I also obtained a second set of morphers from a terrorist, which leads me to believe that another agency might be in possession of PKM technology.”

    Ash Ketchum?” the voice asked.

    “Yes?”

    Cut the crap,” he answered. “I know full well you do not speak like this. It will not buy you points with the council.”

    “I’m not trying to buy points, sir,” Ash explained. “I’m trying to get these morphers off me. I want a transfer to my old grade, I don’t want to be a Ranger.”

    That will be considered later,” the voice answered, a bright light suddenly turning on, blinding Ash mildly. “Those morphers you obtained from the terrorist will be examined by Agent 3 later, you will give those to her. Now, the biggest matter is of the mission. Report.”

    “My assignment was to protect May Birch and assist Agent 0,” Ash answered. “During this mission, the center used for the Festival was destroyed, and the event called off. May Birch, her daughter, and friends are all returning to Petalburg for an undetermined amount of time. I request an extension on this assignment, as I still believe her life to be in danger.”

    May Birch is still a pressing matter to the PKM,” he answered. “Request granted, on condition that Agent 3 be allowed to accompany you in protecting her, and keeping your personal feelings void during the mission.” The other members agreed, and Serena was practically bouncing with happiness. “Agent 3, do you have objection to this?”

    “None sir,” she answered, her bearing straight but easily seen through. “It would be an honor to assist our new Golden Ranger.”

    Very well,” the voice finished. “Now, the final matter at hand, whether Ketchum should be allowed to keep the Ranger morphers given to him by 0. Play the transmission received by PKM from 0 precisely two hours before death.”

    Ash sat very still, realizing that he was not going to have a say in this. If 0 said that he would be a Ranger, the PKM would make it so. Again, he cursed the man for dying. He could only sit, as the transmission began to play, 0’s dead voice echoing through the dark chamber.

    “…It is with a dear heart that I must bid farewell to the PKM, after many years of service,” it said, Ash’s head sinking lower. “My morphers have been programmed, and will be received by the agent Ash Ketchum, whom I have chosen as my successor. He is loyal to the PKM, and will use them with honor. I have given him the Golden Gauntlets, which will permanently bond the morphers to his DNA lock. No one else can use them save for Ketchum…”

    That’s where the transmission cuts off,” the councilman said, the voice echoing with silence. Ash stared at the floor, his eyes pained. “Do you have anything further to say Ketchum?”

    “Would it matter if I did?” he asked.

    No, it would not,” the chairman answered, and Ash heard a foot shuffle. “It is then with great pride we confirm onto you the rank of PKM Agent 0, Golden Ranger. Congratulations Ketchum. Meeting adjourned.”

    Ash stood up and, without waiting for Serena, walked out of the room, head bent. The bracelets felt hard on his skin, dragging him down. This was his punishment for saving his only love, for saving May. Damn you 0, he cursed silently, making his way towards his living quarters, ones that he rarely visited, but ones that he needed to see.

    ***

    He were always peaceful there, he noticed, when he opened the small door that led to his quarters. The card key he owned, and guarded from Serena, slid easily through the hatch that allowed him access. The doors hissed, before he was admitted, wall coming apart to admit him.

    He passed through the opened door, the doors slamming shut after him. He punched the button on the wall, locking himself inside, before gazing around what little he could call a home.

    He passed through the metal atrium, the blank walls looking back at him, before entering his living space, a desk, a chair, and a bed was all the furniture he ever needed. A single mat, without a bedspread or pillow, and a hard wooden desk and chair. He hated comfort. Ash dropped his jacket on the chair, and removed his gold shirt from his chest, exposing the great, powerful muscles that had allowed him to live this long. He saw bruises from the mission, but ignored them. They would heal in time.

    “Ashy!” shouted a voice, his door opening to admit Serena in. He groaned inside, why couldn’t she just leave him alone? Serena bounded into the small room, tackling him once more and landing both of them on the hard mattress of Ash’s bed. “Ashy…” she purred, carefully positioning herself on top of him, grinning madly. “Ashy, I didn’t know you were such a man, throwing me onto your bed so fast…”

    “You threw me on the bed!” Ash protested again, trying to shove her off but failing. “How did you get in here?”

    “Picked the lock, it isn’t very hard ya know,” she giggled, releasing him and standing up. “Come on, I have something for you.”

    “It isn’t handcuffs again, is it?” he asked, rubbing the back of his head, where a small bump had formed from colliding with the headboard. “I remember the last time you found your way in here…” It was an experience that he did not want to repeat under any circumstances.

    “Nope, even better!” She reached for the floor, where a large parcel had been thrown aside during the Ranger’s charge, colored gold. “The council wanted you to have this, they said it would be a good idea.”

    Ash reached for it, grabbing out of her hands before she could do anything, and felt light cloth inside it. “What is this?” he asked, turning towards her.

    Serena propped herself onto the chair, grinning happily. “Put it on, you’ll see,” she said sweetly.

    Ash sighed, and the agent stood up and headed for the bathroom to change.

    Serena watched him go, her eyes trailing over his muscular body. She wanted him so badly, and he had no idea how much, Ash assumed she just had a thing for annoying him. “Now, where’s his underwear drawer?” she whispered to herself, grinning wildly, the emeralds of her eyes burning.

    “What the hell?” Ash asked from the bathroom, he must have opened the package. “I’m not wearing this stupid thing!”

    “Put it on!” Serena instructed. “Don’t make me do it Ashy!” She heard a sigh, and the ruffle of clothes being changed. She giggled at the thought of Ketchum naked, but ignored it as she searched for wherever Ketchum hid his clothes. She looked over the desk for some clue, and she noticed something she had never seen before in Ash’s quarters.

    On the desk was a small frame, facing the wood of the desk. Curious, Serena looked towards it, touching the small white wood with her fingers. She lifted it from the surface, a small picture sitting in the bright frame. It was Ash, but there was also other people in the picture.

    There was a man, with fierce, jagged black hair, with the eyes of a fox. He was grinning broadly, standing next to Ash with his arm around him. There was another person as well, a slim man with soft dark hair and big glasses, on the other side of the Golden Ranger. Ash himself was in the center, a great smile on his face. In his arms was another woman with auburn hair and sapphire eyes, and he held her tightly against himself.

    And there was a small bundle in the woman’s arms, with a little head sticking out of the white cloth, with midnight black hair just like Ash’s. Serena stopped, staring at the photograph.

    “Thanks for waiting,” she heard a voice say, Ash exiting from the room. She held the photo and turned slowly to face him. He was dressed just as she was, with alterations done to his uniform. He wore a dark jacket, similar to hers, but with a deep golden 0 on the right side of his chest that stretched from the collar down to the lining on the bottom. His pants were also black, as were his boots. But the shirt he had on was deep gold, even more so then the one he had previously been wearing. “3…” his eyes swerved down to notice what she was holding. “Put that down.”

    “No.” She stood up, keeping the picture held tightly to her chest. “So…this is the reason you can’t be a Ranger, isn’t it?” Serena held it up, wanting confirmation. “Is she the reason?”

    “That is the woman I gave up for this 3,” he answered, keeping his eyes forward. “That is May Birch, who we have been assigned to protect. And that is her daughter, Sarah. And my friends.”

    “I know that,” Serena snapped, putting the frame down hard on the desk. “So, you’re gonna try and get back with her on this mission, huh? Well, I’m not gonna let that happen Ash, you’re too important to this agency. You’re the best Ranger we could have…”

    “I am not a Ranger!” Ash shouted, forced her back. “I’ll say it a thousand times I’m not!” His eyes were furious, anger blossoming in his heart. “Don’t you understand 3, what the PKM took from me? Don’t you understand that my daughter has no idea who I am, and never will because being a Ranger means you can’t have someone special in your life? And don’t you understand that no matter how hard I could try, I can’t return to what I had, to the family I want?”

    She couldn’t, no matter how hard she tried. “I lost someone too, Ash, when I came here,” she replied, looking up at him, forcing him to meet her gaze. “You know who I lost, but I never gave up. I stayed and became who I am because of it. Where’s your mark?” she asked, feeling a tear coming to her eyes. “Where’s the band that holds you to what you cannot have?”

    Ash slipped his hand into his shirt, pulling out the golden ring he carried, dangling it on its chain in front of her. “I never took it off, because the only thing this place has done for me is breed hate in my heart.” He stared her down, she knew she couldn’t beat him in that contest. “So just drop it 3, because I’m not in the mood for this. If we have to work together, know that I am in no way using the morphers. I don’t have anything against you 3, but I am not a Ranger.”

    Serena nodded, though she felt a strange disappointment in her heart. Ash was a plaything for her, nothing more, she reminded herself, and stood up. “Come on Ash,” she said, starting for the door, “the Council said they had some things to show you, for the Golden Ranger.”

    Ash followed, though he was never going to use any of the weapons that she was planning to show him.

    ***

    “This is what the former Golden Ranger referred to as the 0 Cycle.”

    Serena pulled the covers off a large object in the center of the main hanger, exposing what Ash thought was the most beautiful vehicle he had ever seen. It was like a modified Harley, but was more lithe and speedy, clearly designed to go very, very fast. The main part was a mesh of golden darkness, black striped with golden etches. A 0 was displayed before the handlebars, completing the perfect bike of Ash’s dreams.

    “Unfortunately, the brakes need a little work right now,” Serena said absent-mindedly, kicking the side of the bike. “But you’ll get the hang of it pretty fast, or you’ll crash into a wall.”

    “That’s reassuring,” Ash muttered dryly, following her away from the 0 Cycle towards a strange looking door with the number 0 marked in gold on the door. “What’s this?”

    “This would be the weapons room for the Golden Ranger,” Serena answered, opening the door. She stepped forward into a brightly colored room with golden walls, beckoning him to follow her. Ash complied, simply because he didn’t want another conflict with her. Out of the entire PKM, for all her annoying gestures, Serena was the only person that made it entertaining to come back to the base, and she laughed at his overly serious nature, never taking him seriously. It was difficult for him to see her so sad, she was a friend. He would apologize when they got to Petalburg.

    He glanced at a small computer in the corner of the room, and noticed that the whole room was completely empty save for him and her. “Where are the weapons?” he asked, following her towards the console.

    “We’re going to make them,” she told him, opening the computer. “The computer can analyze a Ranger’s morphers and Spirit, and create new weapons based on that.”

    Ash nodded, he decided to play the game. Unwillingly, he stepped up into the scanner that every computer in the PKM seemed to have. “Let’s just get this over with,” he murmured, holding the bracelets over the console. “Yada yada yada, Golden Ranger,” he said, wanting more then ever to leave.

    Scanning for Spirit…” the voice said, running a red light under the morphers. It was not long before Pikachu’s face appeared on the screen, smiling broadly.

    Hello Ash!” it said, grinning.

    “Hey buddy,” Ash replied, smiling at the sight of his best friend. “How are you doing in there?”

    It’s actually quite nice,” it answered, chasing its tail. “In here I can speak and play and do mostly anything when the Ranger uniform is not in use. So, what exactly did you need me for Ash?”

    “We are going to modify Ash some weapons to suit his new Ranger status,” Serena answered the Pokemon, giggling that at least Ash’s Spirit was fun. “Think you can give me a hand?”

    No problem,” Pikachu answered, the mouse grinning. “What kind of weapons do you have in mind?”

    “Well, tradition states that all Rangers must have one melee weapon and one blaster weapon,” Serena answered, typing onto the screen to startup the program. “So, how does a sword and a shotgun sound?” She turned to Ash, who held no objections considering he found this a waste of time to issue him anything when he would not morph.

    I think I can do that,” the electric type nodded, closing its eyes. “I’m gonna need a second, but it shouldn’t…there!” Pikachu released the program, and a golden light appeared in Ash’s hands. “Here comes the melee weapon!”

    Ash felt a metal appear in his hand, a handle materializing from Pikachu’s power. It felt smooth, but firm in his grasp. The golden light transformed into a saber, bending horizontally across his hand, before shooting up at an angle, forming what looked like a lightning bolt, but was in reality a sword.

    How is it?” Pikachu asked, peering at its creation. “I think I’ll call it the Bolt Blade, since it looks sort of like my tail. How does that sound?”

    “Bolt Blade?” Ash asked, testing the weight of the weapon in his hands. It was light, but durable, with a four feet long blade. “Sounds a little babyish, doesn’t it?”

    “Hey, I have a weapon named the Snow Staff,” Serena objected, putting her hands over her hips. “I don’t think it’s babyish, it’s just part of the motif that Rangers use.”

    “Whatever you say,” Ash retorted, keeping a grip on the sword. He twisted it, keeping it perfectly stable. “I’ll need to practice with this.”

    “Rangers don’t practice,” Serena replied. “Your Ranger suit is already fitted with everything needed to use that weapon.”

    “Sounds simple enough.” The Bolt Blade glowed, before vanishing into pieces of light, flooding into the right bracelet morpher. “So, how do I use it?”

    “Activating the program in the suit,” Serena explained. “Now Pikachu, how about that blaster?”

    Comin’ right up!” Pikachu concentrated again, and again golden light flooded into Ash’s hands, transforming into a long, single barrel shotgun, with jagged black and white lightning stripes across the surface. It was the same size as the Bolt Blade, only designed with projectiles in mind. “That will be of use, it shoots lightning charges at people. I’m gonna call it the Lightning Laser.”

    “Great, another original name,” Ash answered, gazing through the sights the gun had. It would be a useful weapon, and it vanished into the left morpher, ready to be summoned at any time by the Golden Ranger. Which would not happen, because Ash was not planning on morphing. “Are we done here?”

    “That should do it,” Serena answered. “Thanks for your help Pikachu.”

    Not a problem 3,” Pikachu replied cheerfully. “Call me again if you need any more help.” The screen went blank, and Pikachu returned to the morphers to continue being the Spirit, waiting to be summoned to help Ash.

    “Your Spirit has more personality than you do Ash,” the White Ranger giggled, already forgetting their quarrel. “Pikachu might be the side of you that knows how to have fun.”

    “I’ll keep it in mind,” Ash answered dully, before turning from the room. “I think we’re done here, we should prepare for the mission.” Serena heard a crack of lightning, and Ash was gone in an instant.

    “I think he’s close to mastering the RSP system,” she sighed, before walking out of the room herself. She had her own things to prepare, several cases of luggage filled with clothes.

    ***

    Ash cleaned out the room, it didn’t take very long. The PKM would be providing a safe house for himself and Serena, so it wouldn’t hurt for him to plan ahead for anything. He grabbed the gun under his bed, checking to make sure the safety was on the pistol, before tucking it into a satchel he would take to carry his few belongings.

    “Pikachu?” he asked, knowing that the Pokemon could hear him. He headed for the bathroom, and gathered his toiletries, a shaver and a toothbrush, along with a small black comb.

    Yes Ash?” the Pokemon asked, its voice spreading through the living quarters. “What’s up?”

    “I was just thinking something,” he answered, tossing the items into his bag. “You think 3 has a motive in coming with me on this mission?”

    I think if you’re going to be partners, it might make more sense to call her by her name, and not her designation,” it replied. “She cares for you, or at least, your well-being Ash. She is a friend.”

    “She annoys me,” Ash muttered, stashing away a few provisions under the bed, a few clips and food. “She lives to make me uncomfortable.”

    Don’t worry too much about it,” Pikachu replied soothingly. “Remember how you used to be just like her when you were younger? Try and have some fun, Serena can show you how. She seems like a nice person.”

    “I’ll keep that in mind,” Ash replied, his eyes hitting the frame Serena had picked up. “I wonder why she got so worked up about a photo,” he muttered to himself, picking up the last photo he had of them, and remembering that he was going back to them a Ranger, their protector. He put it inside his satchel, closing the bag tightly. “I’d better get going, it’s a long way there for Serena, two seconds for me.”

    RSP is a useful system Ash,” Pikachu agreed, and the man made his way out of the room, making sure to get his civilian clothes. There was no way he was walking around wearing the stupid PKM uniform Serena had made him put on. The door shut fast behind him, and the Ranger made his way left, towards where the exit to the PKM would be.

    He hoped that Serena was not bringing her entire wardrobe.

    ***

    “It took you long enough,” Ash sighed, an hour later as agents hauled various suitcases towards the chopper he was leaning on. The thin helicopter wasn’t going to be able to hold all the luggage that Serena had chosen to take with them. He slung his satchel over his shoulder, already dressed in civilian form, looking more like a biker than anything. He then noticed that she wasn’t wearing her uniform either.

    Serena had opted for something more…casual. With jeans to tight they looked painted on, she strode out to him with red heels, and a white shirt that exposed her naval. A few bracelets dangled from her lithe wrists, and her silver hair was tied into a bun. Ash groaned, she looked more like a ***** then an agent.

    “And why do you look like that?” Ash asked, putting his ponytail out of sight. At least her hair was neat, though it looked like she wanted him to notice her.

    “I wanna have fun on this mission, so I figured I’d wear something so I wouldn’t stand out,” she answered sweetly, Ash noticing the masses under her shirt even without having to look hard.

    “I think everyone’s going to pay attention to that,” he muttered, looking away. “Come on, get your stuff onto the helicopter, we’ve got work to do.”

    She nodded, and turned to the agents, all of whom seemed to have blood leaking from their noses from staring at her shirt. “Load ‘em up!” she ordered, and the people rushed to obey her, hastily putting up all the luggage, to Ash’s disbelief. It seemed impossible that such a large amount of material could fit into a small copter like the one PKM had given them to travel to Petalburg.

    “Thank you!” Serena said sweetly, bowing low towards the agents when they were through. All of them disappeared instantly, probably due to the display she had given them. “Nyahaha, rookies are so easy to mess with,” she cackled, before skipping back to where Ash was waiting. “Is that all your taking?” she asked, pointing to the satchel he was holding.

    “It’s all I need,” he replied, tossing it aboard the craft. “Let’s get going.”

    He climbed aboard, followed by her, and entered the pilot’s seat immediately. He did not know how well Serena could fly a chopper, but from what she had just done, he really didn’t want to know. He could fly well enough, so he would pilot. Plus, he had seniority in terms of rank to her.

    “Get in,” he ordered, shutting the hatch behind her, “and buckle up.”

    She nodded, getting into the co-pilot’s seat and buckling up tightly. Ash was known for somewhat reckless yet effective driving and piloting. Ash put on a set of headphones, and turned on the chopper. “Agent 0 to control,” he said into the microphone. “This is Chopper A, requesting admission to the air.”

    Chopper A, please stand by for dock opening,” a static voice crackled back, before the ceiling above them began to open, exposing them to the bright sky above them, blue with the radiant sun streaming down on the two. “You are clear for launch,” the voice muttered, “good luck Rangers.”

    “Roger.” Ash started the engine, the blades above them spiraling on command. After waiting for the momentum to build, Ash raised the copter into the air, and out of the hanger, into the beautiful sky above. “Adios PKM,” he said, reaching the desired altitude needed to travel through the air. “Ready 3?” he asked, looking over to Serena.

    “Ready Ash,” she replied, and both Rangers began to head east to Hoenn, to continue their mission. The morphers confiscated from the terrorist were still in Ash’s satchel, he would give them to Serena later, when there was time, and when May was safe.
    __________________

    And it is with that I present the White Ranger, Serena Brine, along with Ash's and her confusing relationship of lust and total lack of Ash's interest! Stay tuned for more, we're getting to the good part soon!

    NEXT: Morph Six-Acceptance Coming Soon!

    SEE X3! IT IS PWNSOME! Review if you can, I'm out of school suckas!
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

  22. #22
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    Oct 2005
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    Oh yeah! Ah, and in case anyone has further doubt, Serena's appearance has bumped the rating. This is now an R rated fic, for sexual chaos, foul language, and awesome violence!

    Morph Six- Acceptance


    “Grab your things, I’m not taking them in for you.”

    Ash landed the chopper two miles out of Petalburg, making sure to activate the stealth mode that would keep them under the radar. It was quiet, he noted, as the blades dimmed above him, and he stepped out onto the solid ground again, grabbing his satchel as he did so. The Golden Ranger glanced around the dark woods, trying to figure out where he was.

    He had already removed the surveillance materials needed for the mission from the craft, so that was not the main problem in moving into the safe house the PKM had provided for him and his new partner. The main problem was his partner or, more specifically, the luggage that Serena had chosen to bring with her, numerous amounts of baggage with clothing inside.

    “You could lend a hand,” Serena whispered in the dark forest, so as not to alert any invisible people to their presence.

    “You’re the one who chose to bring your wardrobe,” Ash pointed out, grabbing the bags with the equipment inside. “I brought the bare necessities, like you should have. This will be a good lesson for you.”

    “No fair.” She pointed at him, surrounded by what looked like ten massive bags of matched luggage. “You can use RSP in civilian form, I don’t even have the tech in Ranger form. The least you could do is take nine, or ten.” She raised her head hopefully, praying he could help. Or would.

    Ash sighed, she was never going to learn to control herself if he did everything for her. But at the same time, he was her partner, it might be a good idea to help her out, the argument they had had had not been pleasant for either side. “Pikachu,” he muttered, raising his left morpher, “activate RSP.”

    Done,” the voice inside the morphers replied. Ash grumbled to himself, before he issued a crack of lightning, and vanished into thin air. Serena grinned to herself, men were so easy to manipulate if given the right bait. Soon she heard another crack in the distance, and two bags disappeared from before her feet into thin air. She thought she saw Ash’s face for an instant, but it was gone. It took several trips to make it, but eventually the bags were all gone from her feet, and Ash was standing before her, hands in his pockets.

    “Let’s get going,” he said, without a trace of exhaustion in his voice. She nodded, smiling sweetly.

    “Thank you Ashy,” she whispered, leaning up as she passed him, into his ear. “I’ll return the favor later.”

    He chose to remain silent, and followed by her side quietly towards Petalburg. He refused to speak, preferring to be wrapped in his own thoughts. The darkness was not a problem for either Ranger, they had both had the training needed to overcome problems seeing in the dark. The forest slowly transformed, turning from a lush vegetation to hard concrete as they neared the city, glancing up and down at the various skyscrapers and buildings surrounding them, a different kind of tree, sprouted from the fruits of mankind.

    They noted people passing by them, harmless drunks, students, trainers nursing their Pokemon from battles, but ignored them for the most part. Ash simply wanted to get to the designated area they would be staying at, as promised by the PKM, a home had been provided for them to stay in for the mission. It was located on the opposite side of the gym, with a perfect view of the family that May was staying with to recuperate from her attacks. She would be safe with two Rangers guarding her.

    Serena glanced up again at Ash, and saw that he was once again lost in the world the man had made for himself, one of self-loathing. Why couldn’t he ever just be cheerful and happy, like she was? She saw two people across the street, both arm in arm, and decided she would make him happy, or at least, extremely uncomfortable.

    She grabbed his arm, and yanked it around hers, binding him fast before he could notice. Ash snapped out of his trance instantly, and jerked to where she was walking, holding his arm like it was the most natural thing in the world. “Wh-what are you doing?” he asked, trying to control his voice this time.

    “Blending in,” she yawned, snuggling closer to his warm form, and relishing the fact that he was twitching under the hardened mask he had set on his features. “If we’re going to be here, we might as well have a decent cover.”

    “I…don’t think it would be wise to portray that we are a couple 3,” Ash answered carefully, attempting to remain calm, but feeling himself failing.

    “You think too much,” she retorted, her white locks brushing against his chest. “Try and live a little. You have a better excuse for two young adults of opposite genders to be living in the same apartment?”

    “Brother and sister?” Ash tried with false hope.

    “Not with what we go through on a daily basis,” Serena answered with a giggle. “I mean, in today alone, you threw me onto the bed for goodness sakes…being family is simply out of the question.”

    “You threw me into the bed, you’re stronger then you pretend to be,” Ash protested, attempting to remove her grasp on his hand, and finding he could not. “Anyway, we don’t need a cover. We just need to lay low during the mission.” She still did not release him, though he tried his best not to draw attention to it.

    “What’s our apartment look like honey?” she murmured, changing the subject.

    “Didn’t really get a good look at it,” Ash replied.

    “How many bedrooms?”

    “Don’t know.” He really hadn’t gotten a good look, he had just dumped her stuff onto the floor and gotten everything in, before rushing back to her. She’d get lost without him, so he returned. “But I don’t want you getting any ideas, got it 3?”

    “No promises Ashy,” Serena laughed, pulling him closer. She could sense his temperature increasing, and smiled. Her pet was rather jumpy when she was forward.

    Ash groaned inside, forcing himself to focus his attention elsewhere. She was…very close, and she knew it was slowly but surely making him lose his sense of self-control, he thought, staring steadily ahead in the street, directly avoiding her gaze. Calm yourself, he mentally ordered, forcefully controlling the increasing rate of his heartbeat. He slowed his breathing, losing control would only play into her hands, something he had no intention of doing.

    Serena frowned, as the hardened mask set down once more on Ash’s features. She felt the awkwardness leave him, and he did not remove his hand, but ignored her all the same. She glanced up at him, he was so tall compared to her, and tried to see what he was thinking. But Ash’s face said nothing, and he continued to guide her to the apartment they were staying in. He was so boring sometimes, she thought, gazing him over. He looked more like a movie star, he was simply too handsome. She snuggled closer to him, hoping to terrify him again.

    I wish he’d loosen up a little, she thought, wondering what a loose Ash would be like. Ever since he had been brought into the PKM by 0, the agent had been quite mysterious, especially after his wife made him leave. He still carried the scars from her, and now had to protect her. She almost hated the woman named May Birch for doing it to him, hurting him like that, but reminded herself that he was nothing but a plaything. She shivered, realizing how cold it was. The climate had changed, it would be winter soon. She hated winter, it got way too cold for her, and she couldn’t wear her favorite clothes, the ones that drove men mad with lust. The one she was wearing now was not built for the cold weather, and she shivered again.

    “Here.” Serena turned upwards, to see that Ash was raising his arm from her hands, and draped it over both her shoulders. She turned crimson, but Ash did not notice, pulling her closer to himself. “Warm yourself, I can see you are uncomfortable in the weather here. Maybe next time you will dress to suit the occasion.” He continued, and she did not speak. She snuggled closer, eager for warmth.

    “Thank you Ash,” she mumbled, as they headed towards the gym of the city, or the street. Opposite of that street was their apartment, everything already prepared for the two Rangers. It was hidden in the complex across the street, with perfect sighting to watch over May.

    “Just don’t get any ideas,” he replied dully, and walked her up towards the steps leading to their new home. He shifted his hand in his pockets, pulling out a set of jingling keys he had found in his belongings, the keys to the apartment complex and their home. Shifting the first golden key into the slot, he led Serena upstairs.

    ***

    Ash clicked open the door, admitting Serena to their home. He released his hold on her, it would be warm enough in the apartment. Shutting the door carefully, he locked them in, and passed through the rooms, double checking everything the PKM had provided for them. Serena’s luggage was huddled in a pile in the middle of the floor, but at least it was there. His own satchel and equipment were on a table in the dining room, he would retrieve them later.

    Ash’s eyes surveyed the small apartment, it barely housed one person, let alone Serena and the chaos that followed her. He moved past the narrow atrium to the living room, barely noticing the couch or the low table in front of it. He passed by the lavender couch and the black table, and didn’t even glance at the TV standing before them in the corner. He made for an empty room he had seen for an instant when he had dashed through, the one with the view he wanted.

    He opened the bare door, the room behind it small and square. Shutting it behind him, he made his way to the folding chair and table set that the PKM had installed for surveillance. Removing the dark leather jacket he wore, he sat down onto the chair, glancing out the small plane of glass before him. His eyes gazed out, a dark spark behind them, towards the gym that stood opposite the apartment.

    And he saw her, sleeping peacefully in her room. Ash couldn’t see May clearly, but he knew it was her form slumped in the bed, her old room. He couldn’t see Sarah anywhere, but he knew she was near. May’s maternal instincts would probably prohibit the child from much freedom that her mother could not supervise. He chuckled lightly, May was very overprotective of her child.

    Her child. Ash glanced at his morphers, detesting them once more. These are my shackles now, these are why she can’t be my child. Not now, not ever. Again, he wondered why he had been so willing to join the PKM, why he felt such a strong urging when he had been foolish, younger, eager for a true challenge. He was a damned fool.

    He heard the door open behind him, but did not turn. He knew enough that it was Serena, and that she would shut the door behind him. “Are we in place?” she asked tentatively, walking towards the window to observe May asleep. “Are you all right?”

    “I’m fine 3,” he replied dully, turning away from the window. “Tomorrow, when they go out, we’re going to bug the house, make sure we have everything set up right. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, I’ve done it before.” He turned to her, tilting his head downwards. “I am going to stay here tonight, and set up the stuff. You sleep, and don’t get any ideas.”

    Serena nodded, and walked out of the room, turning her head just as she closed the door to see his pained face, the unsealing scars open and exposed. They did not mark his face, or his muscular body. They marked his heart, she realized, making her way across the apartment to the only bedroom in the living space. He refused to show it, but she could sense it.

    What’s wrong with me? Ash was just a plaything for her, wasn’t he? She simply used him to vent out her suppressed need to torture, and to tease, Ash was the perfect vehicle for it because he never reacted the way most men would when harassed by a beautiful girl like her. She was the one man she couldn’t have, and she had been attracted to that, the enigmatic force present in Ash that halted all human instinct, all desire, all emotion. Why do I care?

    She thought about earlier, when she had hated May Birch for what she had done to him. How she had hurt Ash, and kept him away from his daughter. How could someone be so cruel to someone who was so harsh, yet so kind, so pure? So alone, she thought, she knew he was alone in the world. All he had was himself, and he had lost that to become a Ranger.

    Serena wandered into the bedroom, a double bed that she had arranged to have installed through her connections. She had been planning to taunt Ash with it, to torment him madly. One of her suitcases was full of underwear to mess with him, but she didn’t want to anymore. Keeping the door open, the White Ranger fell onto the bed, still clothed, and fell into a troubled sleep, not the funny ones with Ash, but a dark one with the Golden Ranger. His mask haunted her, slowly covering the handsome face that she wanted. Ash…

    The new Ranger remained in the room all night, refusing to sleep under any circumstances. He felt the bracelets, his chains, against his wrists as he watched her through the window, pulling out a pair of binoculars for better surveillance. Not once did his attention vary, anything outside of her safety was of no importance to him.

    Why would there be a second team of Rangers? he thought suddenly, maintaining his focus. And what would they want with May? That person said there were six, well, now there’s five. Against me and 3. He paused, he had taken himself into account of the number of Rangers. He didn’t know where the other Rangers were, and didn’t want to, but the fact that he had added himself in with Serena showed something to him.

    Can I be a Ranger? Ash asked, looking down on May’s sleeping form. Is that the only way to protect you?

    The night was silent as Ash gazed on.

    ***

    Ash…

    May’s eyes opened slowly, she had slept well that night. Better than the ones before, which had been clouded with continual nightmares of the dark man at the Festival. The night before, she had seen him again, only this time, someone was fighting him off, clad in golden darkness. It had been 0, the Golden Ranger, that had protected her. She smiled at the thought, the mystery man had been on her mind a lot lately. It had been a week, but if thinking about 0 was what it took to feel better, it couldn’t hurt.

    She yawned, glancing up at the clock by her bed stand. The green numbers stuck out at her, blaring 11:30 directly into her eyes. I overslept! May thought urgently, but strangely did not act on the impending need to get up. She simply continued to lie in bed, all the while thinking of two people. The strange Golden Ranger, whom she had not seen since leaving the Festival, and Ash, who had told her he would be back, but had still not checked up on him.

    “I wonder where he is…” she murmured into her pillow. “I wonder where they both are…” She remembered this bed, remembered the reassuring weight of her husband across from her. A pang crossed her, but she tried to push it away, a pit of sadness that she knew would never fill.

    “Mommy?” The door opened, followed by Sarah’s small form, already dressed in a violet shirt and a little pair of blue jeans. “Mommy, are you coming down for breakfast? Grandma wanted to know.”

    She nodded, raising herself from the mattress. “Sure Sarah,” May replied, rubbing her eyes. “Tell her I’ll be down in a minute.” Sarah nodded, and closed the door to allow her mother time to change. May stretched, rising from the bed. “Well, might as well go out today. I need more clothes.” She smiled, shopping always made her happy, as it did any woman.

    May lifted herself from the white mattress, raising her hands up. “Better get dressed,” she said, gazing down at the light gown she was wearing. Her eyes shifted, locating the closet that housed most of her clothes, and headed fro it, opening the doors to at least a dozen outfits, and twice the shoes. She glowed in front of them, it could take hours to determine what she would wear.

    “It’s good to be alive,” she relished, before diving into the closet.

    ***

    Across the street, exactly where he had been for several days, Ash Ketchum watched, not letting her out of his sight. He had miscalculated, there had not been time to install the bugs for the gym May was staying in. He heard a knock, but did not move.

    “Enter,” he muttered, and Serena entered the room, leaving the door open for him. She seemed concerned, but he wasn’t looking at her, so he couldn’t tell. “What’s up?” he asked, not changing his focus.

    “Ash…” Serena grabbed a pair of binoculars, and watched with him for a moment. “Are you…watching her change?” She grinned, she didn’t know Ash was a pervert.

    “Don’t misunderstand, it’s so she isn’t hurt.” He shifted his gaze, looking up at her with red, tired eyes. “I’m watching the door for any enemies. You never know when one‘s going to show up.”

    “Ash, are you even aware of how long you’ve been watching her?” Serena asked suddenly, putting the spectacles down.

    “No,” was his rely, and he reverted to watching May.

    “Five days.”

    “Really?”

    “Really. I think you should probably try sleeping, no one can work under the strain you’re making yourself work.” Her eyes were worried, but he could not see them, his eyes fixed on the object of his affection. “Ash, look at me,” she said, an ordering tone in her voice.

    He did not. She felt herself trembling, she could already see the signs. He’s becoming just like 0, even if he doesn’t realize it, she thought, looking down at him. Serena took a gulp, before bending down to grab Ash’s face, jerking him away from the window. Her deep emerald eyes gazed into the coal black orbs of his face, but she wasn’t scared.

    “I care about your well-being Ash,” she said, seeing his eyes widen in surprise. “Even if you don’t, you’ll never get her back, and it’s no way to destroy yourself.” Serena gripped his shoulders, and made him rise from the chair, he did not resist. She sensed most of his endurance had faded away several days back, only his stubborn will was watching his ex. No, I’m not going to take advantage of it, she swore, making him walk out of the room. Serena shut the door behind her and Ash, and marched the zombie-like Ranger towards the bathroom.

    “Go, and shower,” she commanded, opening the door for him. “Then, sleep. I can handle her for a few hours.” She heard a slight grunt from him, and shoved him into the room, closing the door behind him. She waited a moment, but soon heard the shower faucet start up, and felt steam begin to rise out of the door’s bottom opening.

    “Idiot,” she muttered, he needed to take better care of himself. Was he like this all the time? Serena put it out of her head, and started back for the lookout point. “He isn’t going to last this mission if he doesn’t at least try and live. I mean, if he does this again, I’m…” She stopped herself, picking up the binoculars from the table. What would I do? Serena asked herself, watching over as May changed, and went down for breakfast. She felt a twinge again, the same twinge she had felt when she had thought about hating May.

    She shook her head, feeling her heart. It was pounding so hard, at the thought of him so tired. What’s wrong with me? She took a look, and noticed the fact that May had much more clothes than she did. We’re going shopping, she decided, putting them down. There is no way I’m letting a target have more clothing then I do.

    She suddenly felt happy that Ash was capable of moving such large weights. Setting the goggles down, Serena made her way towards the bathroom, deciding that she had watched May’s clothing for long enough. “Ash!” she shouted, calling against the shut door. “We’re going to the mall later!!”

    She heard no reply, and assumed that he couldn’t hear her over the water inside. “Ash, we’re going to the mall later!” she shouted, with more volume. Again, Ash had nothing to say to that. “Ash, I’m coming in naked!” she shouted a third time, this time trying to get his attention. “Ash?”

    She felt nervous, what if the strain had been too much? Carefully, she reached out her hand, feeling the steam waft from the bathroom, before turning the knob. Vapors erupted from the room, scorching her with searing heat, but she nevertheless went in, overcome with fear for Ash’s health. “Ash?” she called over the steam, feeling her body start to perspire.

    And there he was, still in his clothes, slumped in the bathtub like he was sleeping. Searing hot water rushed against him, but he wasn’t noticing, or probably didn’t care. She could see the redness start to form across his body, his exposed neck receiving most of the blast. His head was laid back, all of his clothes soaked, snoring through the fog like a horn, dead asleep.

    “Ash!” she exclaimed, rushing over to the faucet in the shower and shutting it off, the searing heat stopping its unending flow over his body. “Are you all right?” It would teach him a lesson if he wasn’t.

    Ash groaned, opening his eyes. “Hey, who turned off the water?” he asked, his eyes flickering towards Serena. “3, what are you doing here? I’m not wearing anything.”

    “No, you still have your clothes on,” she grumbled, almost disappointed. “Do I have to baby-sit you or something? You could have been seriously injured by the heat.”

    He grinned lightly. “No problem for me, I don’t really feel a difference when it comes to temperature. Where’s May?”

    “Worry about yourself for a change,” Serena muttered, lowering a hand to lift him out of the bath. “Come on, let’s get ya cleaned up. We’re going to the mall later.”

    “Why?”

    “I need clothes,” she retorted, as his hulking frame emerged from the steam, most of the skin a deep crimson. “And you’re going to carry them.” He stumbled, still half-asleep, and she let him slide an arm around her shoulder, leading him carefully out. He needed sleep, so she started for the bedroom.

    “You barely wear anything to begin with,” he murmured. “Good idea, I don’t like you walking around half-naked all the time.”

    He said no more than that, and promptly fell onto the bed, dead asleep. He was snoring before he hit the mattress, Serena shook her head in disbelief. No one is this stupid when it comes to their own health. Then she remembered that for all Ash was, he was just an idiot. He wanted something he could not have, he wanted his family back.

    Foolish. But was he any different from her? She wanted him because he would not let her have him, wanted him badly, because he was a mystery, covered in a shroud that he would not remove. She sighed, what was wrong with her?

    ***

    It took five hours for Ash to regain consciousness, in which time Serena had found one of her clothing magazines and outlined everything she wanted, right down to the socks she would buy. She giggled, it would take Ash forever to pull all the clothes to the apartment. She glanced around, wondering if what she wanted would even fit in the apartment.

    A loud bang issued from the bedroom, signaling that the Golden Ranger had risen from his nap, one that should have lasted several days for a normal human. The door burst open, followed by a soaking wet Ash, who didn’t seem to notice how wet he was, and made for the fridge in the small, barely visible kitchen in the house.

    “Morning sunshine,” Serena joked, but Ash was in no mood to laugh. He grabbed the nearest piece of food he could find, which turned out the be a bento. Tearing open the container, he downed the food quickly and without pause, he had not eaten in several days. After half a minute, Serena heard the box being thrown into the trash, and Ash’s soaking footsteps soon entered the living room where she was lounging on the couch.

    “Having fun watching the target?” he asked, his eyes strangely lifeless. He glanced downwards, to the catalogue she was flipping through. “You said you could handle watching May.”

    “I did.” She tossed the magazine away, beckoning him to sit. He remained standing, arms crossed over his chest. “She’s gonna head out for the mall today, so I figured I could get some shopping in, with my own personal valet carrying everything.” She smiled, and then noticed he was not.

    “We’re going, but not to shop.” He turned back towards the surveillance room, and began walking. “I’m changing, then we’ll go.” He heard her whimper, almost like she was a crying dog, and turned back, his eyes opening wide.

    She had somehow snuck up directly behind him, puppy-dog eyes gazing directly at him. There were even some fake tears in her eyes, his piercing dark orbs looking directly into them. What’s wrong with her now? Ash wondered, she her hands clasped together against her breasts.

    “Please Ashy?” she begged, in a voice capable of warming even the coldest hearts. It did not work on Ash.

    “Fine,” he resigned, turning away from her again. “One outfit, and that’s it. Got it?”

    “Yay!” she replied happily, hugging him from behind, feeling his soaking skin without thinking.

    Ash did not stop her, but neither did he encourage her. He waited for her to release him, and made his way to the other room, where most of his belongings were still located. He shut the door to Serena’s face, his mask applied once more, and began to search for his spare set of clothes, shedding the shirt and pants.

    It took them an hour to get ready, simply because of Serena’s insistence on double-checking the things she wanted to get, and the fact that they needed to wait for May to leave before following her family. Ash grabbed a yellow shirt, he seemed to have a lot of those, and a pair of black jeans. His necklace jingled, and he felt the pang again.

    Stop it, he ordered himself, glancing out the window. He could see May and Sarah in the street outside the gym, with Brock and Max in tow. He assumed that Caroline and Norman were still inside, attending to the day by day operations of the building, and walked out of the room, completely refreshed but annoyed. He grasped the door’s handle, and saw once more his morphers.

    If it wasn’t for Pikachu being trapped in these, I would have removed them. The mouse was nothing, little more than a presence for Ash’s comfort. He missed the reassuring weight on his shoulder, the one that had stood by him through everything. Now he only had Serena’s voice to look after him, she seemed pretty eager with keeping him alive. He didn’t care.

    “Let’s get going,” he muttered, opening the door to her smiling face. “We don’t want to lose her.” She shook her head, and opened the door to admit them both out of the apartment. Ash grabbed the keys on the way out, locking the door behind him. “We’re installing the equipment tonight, we’ve waited long enough.” Again, Serena nodded, choosing not to question the dark man.

    “Just promise me you’ll take better care of yourself,” she whispered to him, her eyes wide with fear. Ash registered the emerald gaze, nodding.

    “I’ll take care of myself, I don’t want you to worry about me,” he replied, before brushing past her to get to the set of stairs that led to the ground floor. “I don’t want anyone worrying about me.”

    She watched him leave, head bobbing on the stairwell as he descended. Her heart quickened, but fell at the same time. He really is alone, she thought, wanting to give him the comfort he would never accept, the human bond he did not want. She wanted to take care of him, she liked having him around. He had rarely been around at the HQ, and the mission wasn’t going at all like she had fantasized about. He was much more distant now that she was living with him. I want to see him happy.

    “3!” Ash ordered, looking back up the stairs. “Let’s go!”

    She snapped out of her trance, and followed the Golden Ranger out of the complex, all the while maintaining distance. She could practically sense the dark aura around him, one of reluctance. “How are we getting there?” she asked, lifting her head to see his. “Do we have a car?”

    “No.” Ash lifted a hand, displaying the morpher. “But I compensate.” The strange lightning powers that seemed to have bonded to him allowed him speeds faster than most. He glanced her up and down, and was glad to see that she had chosen to wear a decent amount of clothing, forgoing the short shorts and tight shirt for leather black pants and a white sweater. He didn’t care, and started for the door.

    They exited the house quickly, making sure to keep out of sight as May’s car pulled away from the gym, keeping an eye out for anyone that knew Ash. They didn’t want any difficulty in protecting their target. Ash watched the car pull away, and took Serena’s hand, leading her into the sidewalk.

    “Now, when we do this,” he said, closing his eyes, “you will feel a slight jolt, followed by movement faster than any rollercoaster. Keep a tight grip, and I think you’ll be fine.” She nodded, keeping her grip on his fingers. They were so large, so gentle, but firm at the same time. She felt a slight tingle in his fingers, and glanced down to see that part of his shirt was waving, but there wasn’t any wind.

    “I trust you Ash,” she answered, before it happened. A large crack issued, and the world began to spin, blurring around them to a screeching halt as Ash erupted forward, traveling like a bolt of lightning after the car.

    I’m glad. She thought she heard his voice over the wind, but wasn’t sure. Clenching her eyes shut and her hand on Ash’s, the vortex spun around her.

    ***

    A giant crack issued in front of a massive building, at least three stories high. The platinum of the building’s paint gleamed in the sunlight, though the sun did little to affect the weather surrounding the mall, a swift chill echoing along its walls. At least inside it was warm, but for those with faraway parking spots, it left them in quite a predicament.

    For Ash, it meant finding a place to reappear without being spotted.

    Choosing the back end of the mall as the best place to emerge, a bolt of lightning cracked, followed by Ash and Serena standing quite calmly together, hand in hand. Ash was looking around, checking to make sure no one had noticed their entrance, even if they were in the abandoned area, a loading dock that wasn’t in service. Serena simply stood still, hair blown up like a balloon, independent from gravity.

    “The coast is clear, no one saw us,” he reported, turning back to see her stunned face. “I’ll take it you didn’t like the RSP? It’s pretty fast.”

    She turned her head very slowly towards him, her hair settling back into position. “We’re taking the bus home, got it?” she asked, her wide eyes menacing. “How you put up with lightning speed I don’t know, and I don’t want to.”

    “It might be because the RSP is designed for me only,” he thought, scratching his chin. “I don’t think it can take multiple people like that, we’ll need to do some tests…” His voice trailed off, he glanced down at her slowly turning crimson eyes. “Or not.”

    “Let’s just go,” she said, brushing her fluffy hair out of her eyes. “We’re taking the bus, I’m never doing that again.”

    “I’ll talk to HQ about the possibility of getting a motorcycle out here,” Ash said, following her from the loading area. He always did like a bike in comparison to a car, they were more fun. More heroic too. She didn’t answer, and felt her stomach. “You all right?”

    “I’m fine…I just…”

    “Ya gonna hurl?” Ash asked, backing away slightly from her. The last thing he needed was to be thrown up on.

    “I think so.” Covering her mouth, she bolted, rushing for the nearest trash can. Ash watched her leave, making sure she was all right, but didn’t hurry his pace. She was a Ranger, she could take care of herself. He was the unsure one that couldn’t. Again he looked at his morphers, he was getting sick of this uncertainty. He hated his Ranger powers, but he had no problem using super speed. He was a living paradox.

    “Could I be a Ranger?” That was a stupid question, but still he asked it aloud. He was a Ranger, confirmed upon him by the Council and 0, whose final act was to make his life hell. Am I a Ranger inside? He didn’t feel like one.

    “Pikachu?” he asked, lifting up the right morpher.

    Yes Ash?” it squeaked back, its voice quiet so none would hear aside from him.

    He took a deep breath. “Do you think I could be a Ranger, if it meant giving up everything?”

    Haven’t you done that already?” it asked, slightly confused. “How is anything now different from when you were a normal agent? All you have now that is different is a new suit. The PKM never banned you from having a relationship, you did that.” The com link fell dead, and the mouse retreated back into the silence of the morphers, leaving Ash to think.

    “I know…” he murmured gently, glancing over to where Serena seemed to have found a trash can, and was bending before it like a volcano, forcing bystanders to flee for their lives. He didn’t smile, but found it mildly amusing. After a minute, Serena’s head resurfaced, pale and frail. Maybe she won’t be in a mood to do a lot of shopping. He waited for her, and tucked his hands into his pockets.

    And then it happened.

    Ash clamped his ears, as something began that he could not control. He could suddenly hear everything within two hundred yards, crystal clear. He heard a child scream in the background, and clenched his eyes shut. He heard Serena shout in concern, and knew her footsteps were coming towards him. He beckoned her away, hearing something else.

    A truck was coming, screeching loudly as Serena leapt in front of it. He heard her scream, and glanced around, forcing his eyes open. All conscious thought was lost, there was no one there but himself, the driver, and Serena. He snapped his fingers, feeling the course of electricity burn through him, and a dark crack issued from his body.

    What is happening to me? he asked himself, hearing everything. Time slowed again as he blurred from the outside, and felt the lightning burst from within him. His eyes glowed, sparking again with the crackling bolts surging through him. He vanished into thin air, a bright light issuing from him, and headed straight into the street, ignoring Serena’s request to never use the power with her.

    Serena only turned in time to see the truck, screeching just as she burst into the street. The driver swerved, tilting the truck onto its side. Serena screamed, all thoughts of her morpher gone, and raised her hands up to protect herself, knowing it would be futile. Her life flashed before her eyes, she clenched them shut.

    She felt a jerk around her navel, before she was hurled from the truck’s path, grabbed by an unseen force, or form, and brought out of range, a sharp crackle bursting through her body. She shut her mouth against the jolt, and soon found herself landing hard onto a discarded mattress, her back hitting against the springs. A dark form looked at her only momentarily, before it turned, clamping his hands together, feeling the current rise inside him.

    The man roared, lightning bursting from him in agony, finding its way to the truck through the road, superheating the metal and rubber, melting and welding it to the ground, forcing it to an abrupt halt. Serena shielded her eyes from the bright light, unable to discern who it was, but knowing anyway that there was only one person with a RSP.

    The lightning cracked again, and the figure was gone, vanished into nothingness. The driver looked around, stunned that his truck had stopped, and rushed out of the cab, trying to see if the woman he had almost hit was all right.

    There was no one there, he was alone.

    ***

    “Are you…all right?”

    Ash realized that he was holding Serena in his arms, cradling her gently. They were somehow on the roof, even he didn’t know how they got there. He had simply kept running, getting away from the scene as fast as possible. The driver had not seen their faces, they were safe. What was strange was how Serena was reacting.

    She was holding him for dear life, head nestled into his chest. He doubted that she even knew what she was doing, she was strangely unprofessional for a Ranger. She hadn’t replied to him, so he allowed her to latch onto him for a moment longer, watching below as the people went about their lives, ignoring him. The chilly breeze had no effect on him, but he felt his temperature rise from being so close to Serena.

    “3, are you all right?” he asked one more time, adjusting her carefully in his grasp.

    “Huh?” She looked up, the jade eyes blazing in fear. “Oh, yes Ash, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”

    He shook his head. “No,” he answered, his dark eyes gazing down at her, “it was because I was unprepared for a side-effect from the RSP that this happened. What’s happening to me?”

    She smiled lightly, holding him tenderly. “The RSP system is bonding to your form, the DNA from your Spirit is changing your DNA. That’s why you can move like lightning.”

    “That’s not all I can do.” Her eyes widened, but he continued. “I just shot out lightning and melted a truck, and I can hear everything going on. Tell me, is that normal?” She shook her head, it truly wasn’t.

    “None of the people subjected to RSP testing have had that kind of advanced powers,” she answered him. “It is theorized that your bond with Pikachu is so strong that your RSP can go even further than anyone else. That’s one of the reasons 0 brought you to the PKM. He knew that you would be the best replacement for him.”

    “Do you think so?” he asked, turning his head down. “Forget the PKM, do you think I could be his replacement?”

    She didn’t hesitate. “If anything, what you just did, saving my life, shows that you are the person that 0 always wanted as a replacement. You are the Golden Ranger, even if you don’t want to be. I trust you Ash.”

    He looked up, staring at the sun in the sky. He had saved her, without even thinking about it. “As long as my skin doesn’t turn yellow,” he answered, setting her down onto the ground, “I’ll fight, until we find out who is hunting May, and crush them.”

    He could still hear everything, but it wasn’t the harsh buzz he had felt earlier. Now it was controlled, lessened though the effect had not gone away. “I think if I’m going to be shooting electric strikes at people, we should probably invest in some rubber gloves for me to wear,” he muttered, turning towards the entrance of the mall, Serena following. “I don’t want to jolt anyone.”

    “That would be a plus,” she agreed, nodding her head. Aw man, what’s gonna happen now? If I can’t touch him from fear of electrocution, how am I going to seduce him? But she pushed the thought from her head, walking quietly behind him, feeling a strange emotion flowing from her bosom. Her heart fluttered when she looked at him, even though his brain was unable to detect emotion, or feel it.

    Am I in love with him? she asked herself, opening the metal door away from him, not wanting the Golden Ranger to short-circuit the entire mall.
    _________________________________________
    And I'm done! Review if you can, but I'm not holding any candles for it at the moment. There will probably be one more chapter, then this fic shall go on hiatus until August, because that's when I'm getting back from Greece! PEACE OUT!
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

  23. #23
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    Oct 2005
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    Morph Seven- Definition


    “You sure this is going to work?”

    Ash looked uncertainly around, somewhat confused as to how Serena had talked him into this. He was standing across the street, utterly still, with concealed cameras and surveillance tech inside his shirt and pants. May’s family had not left the building alone since they had begun, so the Rangers were taking a more direct approach. Using Ash.

    “Positive,” Serena’s voice crackled into the earpiece she had made Ash wear to assist him. “I can’t get in, so it’s up to you. I know you can do it Ashy.”

    “If you say so 3,” he replied dully into the microphone, shutting it off for the time being. He was attempting to assess exactly how he was going to get into the gym, he wasn’t the gym leader’s favorite person. He even had a detailed letter of what Norman would do to him the next time he saw Ash, but now wasn’t the time to think of death threats, the Golden Ranger was more than capable of handling threats. It was Ash Ketchum that was in danger.

    He braced himself, dressed in his best leather jacket, the only nice attire he had to wear. Serena had said first impressions were the best, but this wasn’t his first impression, he’d blown that. It was the thought of protecting May that forced him down the stairs of the apartment, and across the street to the large building that housed the object of his attention, his target.

    He took a deep breath, and rang the doorbell, praying for all that was holy that May would answer the door, she would at least hear him out, the others would kill him. Well, Brock might not, but Max had a gun for such an occasion. Or so he led Ash to believe the last time the glasses-wearing uncle met him. He gulped slightly, the gloved hands clenched. Serena made him wear rubberized protection because he was now capable of exploding every light bulb in the apartment if unprepared for her advances.

    The knob turned in front of him, and the door slowly hinged open to reveal a pale, and ghostly version of Max Birch’s face, barely noticeable through the probable fear that he had been feeling for his sister. He wasn’t even looking at Ash clearly. “What do you want?” he asked, in a drone that put Ash’s monotone commands to shame.

    “I’m here to see May,” he replied carefully, was it possible that Max didn’t even recognize him? He had changed a little since the last time they had met. His face was harder, his hair longer, he even held himself differently. “Could you take me to her?”

    Max shook his head no. “She’s sleeping, and I’m not letting you near her, Ash,” he retorted, his eyes suddenly clearing. “Think you can come back here huh? Think again.”

    “Max…” Ash began, but the youth cut him off, glaring at him up and down.

    “Get the hell away from here, before I make you,” he threatened, raising a fist. Ash sighed, arranging his face to convey exactly what he had forgotten how to feel, pity.

    “Please let me see her Max,” he pleaded, matching his tone perfectly with the one Serena normally used on him. “If only for a moment, I just want to see she’s okay.” He widened his eyes, feigning perfectly what Serena normally tried. I need lessons on emotion, he decided, wondering if Max would buy it.

    “Get lost, prick,” he grumbled, slamming the door shut. Ash groaned, briefly considering smashing through the simple iron of the entry way. He heard Serena, and looked up, putting his hand to his ear.

    “What?”

    “Please tell me you didn’t just try and use the chick maneuver,” Serena sighed, Ash distinctly hearing laughter in the head phone. “Have you no soul at all?”

    “Doesn’t it work for you?” he asked, still standing in front of the door.

    “Yeah, but I’m a sweet girl, and you’re an idiot,” she retorted, chuckling to herself. “I’m gonna have to teach you how to act normal, aren’t I? Get back to the apartment, make sure they don’t see you.”

    “Roger,” she heard him reply, and set down the headphone connecting her to his earpiece. How much of an idiot was he, she wondered, to possibly think that would work? Serena brushed her hair out her eyes, wondering exactly how much the failed marriage had affected Ash’s ability to use common sense, when a sharp crack issued, and Ash stood behind her, arms crossed, and brow furrowed.

    “Perhaps you would have better chance then I,” he muttered, removing his jacket. It was getting too hot for him, even in the slowly descending temperature. “They won’t let me near her.”

    Serena looked him up and down, trying to think of something. “Well, if the family won’t let Ash Ketchum near May, maybe May will let 0 close to her. Suit up tonight, and plant the stuff in her house. That might work.” She scratched her chin, it seemed logical enough. “As long as you don’t get caught, we should be all right.”

    “Morph?” Ash glanced at the bracelets, his morphers, again. “I…don’t know. Maybe you should morph instead, you haven’t gone Ranger for longer than I have.” He really didn’t feel like morphing, even though he understood he was a Ranger, and would be one willingly, until May was safe. But he still disliked it, morphing reminded him too much of 0, and he hated that memory.

    “She knows your Ranger form,” Serena pointed out, scratching her head. “It wouldn’t be good for the enemy to know that I’m here as well. Keep your Rangers unknown, they already know about you, they don’t need to know about me as well.” She could see him twitch, and sighed. “Fine, if you really feel uncomfortable in morphing, you can use the stealth gear and get in there that way. How’s that sound?” She could hear the sigh of relief from him, and smirked.

    “All right 3,” he answered, heading for the bed. He had promised her he would take better care of himself, and he would hold his promise for that. “Wake me at midnight, I’ll do it then.” She nodded, and watched as the door closed, his form vanishing.

    “What do I have to do,” she wondered, taking a deep breath, “to make you call me Serena?” He always called her by her number, even in public. He never wanted to be addressed as 0, he hated the title. Frustrated, she walked over to the table in front of the TV, where there was a small red book she had been rifting through, namely one page in particular.

    She flipped through the L section of the dictionary, searching for the word she couldn’t seem to understand. She was pretty sure Ash didn’t get it either, but maybe it would help understand what he had been going through. She found the word, and looked through the definitions.

    Function: noun
    1 a (1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates> b : an assurance of love <give her my love>
    2 : warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>
    3 a : the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration <baseball was his first love> b (1) : a beloved person : DARLING -- often used as a term of endearment (2) British -- used as an informal term of address
    4 a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person's adoration of God
    5 : a god or personification of love
    6 : an amorous episode : LOVE AFFAIR
    7 : the sexual embrace : COPULATION
    8 : a score of zero (as in tennis)
    9 capitalized, Science : GOD
    - at love : holding one's opponent scoreless in tennis
    - in love : inspired by affection

    Love, she murmured inside, looking at the article. It didn’t make sense for her, but she started to circle certain definitions with her finger, not controlling her actions. Without thinking, she circled the first definition, then the second, and the third. Her finger hovered over the next one, she couldn’t bring herself to admit that what she wanted meant Ash giving up what he wanted. She felt something warm against her cheek, and realized that it was a tear.

    She circled the fourth.

    Inspired by affection. She circled that as well, before sinking her head down into her chest. The dictionary left her hands, and clattered to the floor. Serena hugged her legs for the tenth time, and wished it didn’t have to be this way.

    Why is love so hard? Why, now that she knew the truth, was she hurting so?

    ***

    Ash felt something strange, drifting half-awake and half-asleep. For one, he found himself unable to move, no matter how hard he tried to shake himself free of whatever was binding him still. He cocked his head up, slightly confused, and then it occurred to him that he was in the bed, and his arms and legs were bound with two-inch thick solid steel. He shifted, but nothing happened. He was trapped.

    “3?” he called out into the darkness, wondering if this was another one of her strange, and often annoying, games. A shadow was moving in the darkness of the room, and he strained against the bonds. “3? This isn’t funny!”

    “What’s it gonna take?” she asked, still remaining in the shadows.

    “What do you mean?”

    “What do I have to do to make you call me Serena?” she asked, revealing herself quite intentionally from the darkness around him. His eyes bulged, she was wearing nothing but a lithe robe that offered little protection from someone like Ash’s eyes. It was colored white, like most of her clothes, but he could see almost everything below the cotton.

    “Please put something else on 3,” he pleaded, preferring not to go through this exercise again. This was the fifth time that she had done this, and it was ALWAYS when he was sleeping. “I hate this game.”

    “Call me Serena then,” she answered lustfully, lowering herself to his clothed, thankfully, body.

    Ash instantly started to worry, he wasn’t wearing a jacket. His arms were bare, which meant… “3, don’t come closer,” he begged. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen if you touch my skin. I already broke everything in the house, I don’t want to hurt you too.” He looked over her eyes, and noticed they had a definite red in them. She had been in his beer.

    “You won’t,” she whispered, feeling his shirt. “I know you won’t.”

    She lifted the golden cloth, exposing his fine-tuned chest to her drunken gaze. She took it in, breathing in his scent. “3, please don’t,” Ash asked once more, feeling her hands growing closer and closer.

    “Shush,” she slurred, reaching for his soft flesh. “I know you won’t hurt me.”

    How am I supposed to do that? She hadn’t even bothered to tell him how to control his electric bolts, and Pikachu didn’t know either. He tried as hard as he could, sinking away from the lightning as much as humanly possible, thinking about anything but the situation and electricity. He tried so hard, but he didn’t want her to touch him, not in that way. Please don’t.

    He couldn’t stop her, and she clasped his skin, feeling his torso in her palm. She grinned, her eyes leering. “Told you,” she snickered, pushing her hand across his stomach. “You want me to touch you, don’t you?” She lowered her hand, quickly closing the gap between her fingers, and the beginning of Ash’s pants.

    “3 STOP!” Ash shouted, the lightning going off just as she touched the fabric, still holding part of his skin. Yellow light burst from his form, electrocuting her speedily, sending her flying from the bed. Her hair shot up as bolts of lightning shot through her system, Ash straining to get a look.

    The chains snapped, breaking as the superheat of the bolt melted their locks, the Golden Ranger springing from his position to where Serena was sitting, parts of her body shaking uncontrollably. “3, are you all right?” he asked, this time making sure he wasn’t touching her at all, and lifted her into the air. “3, answer me.” He ordered it, not asked it.

    She mumbled, showing that she was at least alive. Hoisting her up, Ash set her down onto the bed, checking her pulse to ensure she was all right. The dark man heaved, making sure his hands were still covered, unable to touch her. As long as he did not, she would be fine. “3, what is wrong with you?” he wondered aloud, feeling for the covers, and drawing them over her. She snuggled into them, and he left the room. “What is her problem, always doing this to me?” He brushed it out of his mind, he had work to do.

    He donned quickly the stealth gear that Serena had laid out for him, wondering about the lightning. If he continued like this, he would never be able to touch anyone without fear of shocking them, Serena or anyone else. He would never be able to touch May. He put the dark cloth over his form, making sure it masked him completely in the darkness.

    I can’t touch anyone, he thought, pulling on a mask with night-vision equipped. It slid over him easily, and he headed for the window, opening it carefully. The entire suit was shock proof, just like all of his clothes. He even had to rubberize the chain he wore his ring on, it was getting so bad. He was capable of shocking someone by touching the same metal they did. I can’t touch 3, or May, or even Sarah. He glanced out into the street, there was no one in the road to bother him.

    He lifted his grapple gun, pointing to the highest level of the gym, and released, the piercing point striking across the street into the dull steel of the building. He sighed, he would deal with his electric powers later. Making sure the equipment he needed to take was still in place, Ash leapt off the ledge, swinging over to the other side, striking against the hard surface with his boots.

    He began to climb.

    ***

    Ash quietly entered the gym, making sure not to utter a single sound. Closing the window behind him, he retrieved the grapple he had used to enter, it would be bad to leave it behind. The hallway was dark, but not a problem for the Ranger. The night-vision goggles gazed around the narrow walkway, doors on either side of him. Making sure to stick to the shadows, Ash began to move forward, keeping away from anything that made noise. He still remembered where it was, and made for the bedroom of his former beloved, passing through the darkness.

    He walked ahead, memories flowing back to him. Visits to the in-laws, Sarah laughing in her grandmother’s arms, in his arms. Had he known that he wouldn’t be able to touch May again, he would have put more into that last goodbye, but now wasn’t time for reminiscing. He had a job to do, he reminded himself, nearing and entering May’s room silently, making sure that the door did not squeak or creak, and shut it behind himself, not wanting to alert anyone to his presence.

    He looked at her only briefly, before tossing sticky cams to the walls, making sure to cover every angle of the room. The small controllers ground fast into the walls, camouflaging quickly to the exact color of the wall’s surface. After the four had been placed, he moved towards the door, trending softly so as not to make any noise.

    He knew he wasn’t supposed to, but something held him back. He stopped, and turned back to her, sleeping in front of him. Ash heaved, for everything he had become, nothing could stop the last emotion that was still attached to him. His love for her still burned fiercely, no matter how hard it hurt him. My last emotion, he thought, walking up to her bed, gazing at her perfect form.

    Even in the night vision goggles, she was beautiful. Her hair was strewn around, flopped into the bed. The covers were thrown about, and he could visibly see her body shivering. Her skin had goose bumps, yet he did not smile. The true Ash did not, the cover that the dark man held did. Still, he felt…happy, or some little form of it, to be near her. Her eyes were closed, her body was clothed by a small nightdress, but he knew what she looked like without the restraints. Her azure eyes, everything.

    If only they still had their loving gaze, he sighed inside. He lowered a hand, and touched the fabric of the comforter, the crimson sheets clashing against his dark, gloved arm. He lifted it, and covered May gently, careful not to disturb her.

    She moved, just as he withdrew the hand, jerking lightly in her sleep. He didn’t move, but made sure he stayed in the darkness. Her head moved, the eyes opening slightly. The sapphire pools blinked, looking through the darkness for the kind assistor. “Ash?” she asked, almost absent-mindedly, the Ranger was certain she was asleep.

    Ash hesitated only briefly before answering. “A protector,” he replied very softly, not wanting to arouse panic in her. She nodded, and reverted back into her sleeping position, her eyelids closing again.

    “0...” she murmured, before a dull snore emitted from her. Ash said nothing, but watched her for a moment longer, seeing the gentle rises and falls of her chest as she breathed. And still he felt the dull throb, this time more pained than before, when he had held her for the last time, and told her goodbye.

    I should have kissed her, he thought, tearing his eyes away from her towards the door. He glanced back only once, she had called him 0, leaving him with an unsettling feeling that he could not place. Maybe she does not care about me, and what she said was just the fling of the moment. Maybe she cares for 0, who is now me. But…I’m confused… He shook his head, he still had work to do.

    Silently, he prowled the corridors, flipping at specific points more cameras and microphones, making sure to cover the whole gym. It took a really long time, given the amount of ground he had to cover, but the Ranger was precise, making sure that at least one camera would be on May for the entire time they would be watching her. He ignored the time, though it took him all night, and he had to dodge Norman once as his former in-law headed for the bathroom.

    Norman, I’m sorry I couldn’t make your daughter happy, he thought, the door shutting behind the aging gym leader. I’m sorry I couldn’t be the man you wanted me to be.

    He side-stepped, making sure to clear the area, and continued the work, until there was only a single room remaining in the house. He made for it, though he knew what he would find when he entered it. He brushed the feeling aside, he would not let his emotions get in the way again. He reached for the knob, and entered the room of May’s daughter.

    Moonlight streamed through Sarah’s room, and he closed the door behind him, taking in the sight he had left behind. Toys were thrown onto the floor, dolls and cooking appliances on the soft carpet. He tiptoed across the surface, not moving a single thing. He stopped at the wall, setting a camera in place in her room. It was then that he jumped, as he heard a cry.

    “Who are you?” a deadly whisper asked, Ash knew it was from Sarah. He turned very slowly, raising his hands over his head, to see May’s daughter standing on top of her bed, and she had somehow gotten hold of a baseball bat. The throb returned, but Ash did not act on it.

    He waved his hands, showing that he meant no harm. She did not waver, and he was somewhat surprised at how much of the old May he saw in her. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he said calmly, using the harsh dialect 0 had once used, protecting his own identity. “Please put the bat down.”

    She grinned, the man was trying to trick her. “No,” she retorted stubbornly. “Not until you tell me what you’re doing here.” The insistency in her voice, it compelled him to answer. The child had learned well from her mother, Ash thought.

    “I am a dream,” he replied carefully, hoping the child’s age would allow the lie to work. “Just close your eyes, and I will be gone from your dream.”

    She laughed at him, lowering her hand to pinch the other, and wincing as she did so. “Nice try,” she chuckled, “but Momma raised me smarter than that. Who are you?”

    Ash almost grinned himself, she was smarter than he had hoped she was. “Ever hear of a PKM Ranger?” he asked, lowering his arms. If she wanted to stop him, she would have done so already. She wanted to talk beforehand. “You’re looking at one.”

    She shook her head. “You’re not a Ranger, they wear spandex suits and fly in the air. And they fight each other, they fight over Mommy. Why do you want Mommy?”

    “We don’t want to hurt your mom,” he reassured her. “We want to protect her, but there are others that want to hurt your mom. That’s why I’m here, trying to help her.”

    “Why aren’t you wearing the golden suit?” she asked. “I remember from the Festival, when Mommy got hurt. You’re the one who saved her, weren’t you? I know your voice.”

    She’s good. Aloud, he answered, “I did do that. I saved your mother when she needed help. Now I am trying to help you again. I…don’t like to wear my Ranger form, it pains me sometimes. That is why I came to you wearing this.”

    “What is your name?” Sarah asked, her dark eyes curious. The bat was still hanging in her hands, but not as dangerously as before. Ash relaxed, but kept one eye on the door in case of a visitor.

    “I don’t have one,” Ash answered, after much consideration. “Rangers only have numbers, but my number is 0, if you want something to call me by.”

    She seemed satisfied, and looked up onto the wall. He turned his head as well, and noticed some small pictures hanging on the wall, ones the child had obviously drawn. “0, can I see your face?” she asked. “I’d like to draw it, if I can. I like to draw.”

    Ash smiled. “I can see that.” And he could, the drawings were very good for a small child, he had no idea where talent like this had emerged, the Pokemon in the pictures seemed very realistic to him. He could see May’s Pokemon, with squiggly lines over the pictures. “Is that your mom and you?” he asked, pointing to one in the center, with a brown-haired woman holding a little girl.

    “Yep,” she replied happily, nodding her head.

    Ash stopped as he glanced over them. There was one in the corner, looking worn and torn, but still seemed to hold some importance in the collection. It was a shot of a dark man, exactly how he looked. “Who is that?” he asked, touching the drawing lightly.

    She shook her head. “I don’t know,” she admitted, scratching the back of her head. “He comes into my dreams sometimes, so I decided to draw him. He looks dark, but I think inside he has a good soul.” She smiled, looking at the man cloaked in darkness. “I think he saves Mommy when she’s in trouble.”

    So she does remember me, Ash thought. It looked so like him there could be no other explanation. The posture was exact, the hair fell onto and everywhere on his head, hiding the dark eyes that he knew were there somehow, watching with blazing intensity. In his hand was a golden ring, instead of on the chain, wound around his finger. He smiled, or at least, the picture was smiling.

    “You have his eyes,” Ash said.

    “No silly,” she replied, pointing even more to the picture. “He doesn’t have eyes. I’ve never seen them, but sometimes I think this is watching me.”

    Ash held up a micro camera, and placed it where the eyes would have been. “Well, now he has some. I’ll be watching you carefully, Sarah Birch. Take care.”

    Sarah nodded, blinking as she did so, but when she opened her eyes, the dark warrior was gone, the window shutting closed in the moonlit night. She smiled, and fell back asleep. Nightmares weren’t as bad as she thought. She curled back up, thumb securely tucked into her mouth.

    ***

    Ash was utterly silent, and chose to enter through the window, so as not to disturb Serena, who was probably still knocked out from the lightning strike. He closed the entrance, and removed his mask, hair coming freely apart, before falling into place in his ponytail. His bangs shot up, ignoring gravity again. The dull gaze returned as well, and he tossed the mask away.

    He sighed, before unzipping the stealth suit. The dark woven cloth came apart, and he took it off, changing rapidly into the rubberized clothes that Serena had ordered from PKM. The dark orbs glanced around in the shadowy apartment, checking for any enemies that might have gotten into the apartment. Finding none, the Golden Ranger started forward, hands covered in gloves. He could feel the fabric, but nothing else, his heart sinking again in his ribcage.

    “She remembers me…” he muttered, hair falling over his eyes. The picture was him, he was certain of that. Inside her childish mind, Sarah still carried some memory of her father. But I’m not her father anymore, I’m a stranger. He slunk his head, his eyes catching something on the floor. A discarded book, which was strange for him, he didn’t really have time to read.

    “What’s this?” he asked himself, reaching for the little red book, which seemed to be turned to a single page. His eyes widened, and he looked through it. There was a single entry that caught his eyes, because it was the only one that seemed to have gotten wet by something. He shook his head, it seemed impossible.

    Serena must have been looking up the word Love.

    It was the only one, simply because it was the one with the water stain. A single droplet had fallen onto the book’s page, where it had come from Ash had no idea. He read through the definitions, wondering what Serena was doing looking through them. She…is she in love? It didn’t seem possible, she was like him, she didn’t have the capacity to love. Only she still felt lust, he didn’t.

    Who could she be in love with? Ash thought, closing the book carefully. She didn’t know that many people outside of the PKM, like him. Maybe that’s why she attacked me, she must be going through a withdrawal of some kind, separated from the person she might care about. Maybe it’s 1.

    He suddenly shot up, this was great! If Serena was in love, that meant she might leave him alone if she got the other man. He clenched his fist, this might be the best news he had ever heard. Finally, he would be free from her torture. He stood up, the sun would be up in a few hours, and he wasn’t planning on sleeping.

    “Gotta set up the computer systems for the gym,” he whistled, heading for the surveillance room. “Then I think a healthy breakfast would be the best way for Serena to get over her hangover.” He almost grinned, but stopped short of it when his mouth muscles got mixed up. He still had a lot of remembering to do.

    “I feel better about this, even if I can’t touch anything,” he said, feeling the dull throb reduce in his chest. He wasn’t as gone as he thought.

    It took him only an hour to set up the system for watching May, it was just a matter of setting up a computer to track May around the room, along with a second screen if anyone entered the house, it was much more simple than watching futilely in the window. Easier on the eyes as well, with a built in alarm to warn them instead of them having to watch constantly. Life would be much easier.

    “Pikachu,” he said, raising the morphers into a small port near the terminal.

    Yes Ash?” the mouse replied.

    “I’m going to hook you up into the security port of the surveillance system. That way, even if I’m out of the house, we still have an uplink here to check on May. Sound good to you?”

    Anything to help, my friend,” Pikachu answered, and Ash could practically see the Pokemon’s face smiling at him.

    “Lock morphers,” he commanded the computer, raising both wrists into the ports. He felt restraints bind both in, and gritted his teeth. “Download.” The screen flashed golden, before Pikachu plunged into the computer, downloading the info into the morphers to keep in check with the target. The mouse saw everything in the house, heard everything in the house, all of it.

    Done,” it said, the morphers coming undone from the restraints. Ash rubbed the morphers, and the skin underneath. They shot out, the jagged lightning bolts across the dark surface, worn over his gloves for comfort and easy access. “I’m into the system.”

    “Good work Pikachu,” Ash finished, standing up from the console. “Come on, let’s try making some food for 3. I’ll bet she’s not going to feel good when she wakes up.”

    Good idea,” Pikachu pointed out, before going silent again. It had new jobs to do, namely watching May Birch. Ash dove for the kitchen, wondering if they had anything in the fridge outside of bento. He could survive on ramen and bento, but he doubted that Serena did. He opened the fridge to a surprise, he hadn’t really looked at it before, just grabbing the food needed to survive. He kept his beer in a private cooler. “I need to get a lock for that thing, so 3 can’t get back into it again,” he murmured, grabbing a few packages of what looked like fish or some kind of meat.

    “Well, at least I know how a stove works,” Ash said, shutting the door behind him. He looked around the small kitchen, it was rather dark. “Better get the lights or I’ll burn the house down.” He set the food down, and gently took off a black glove, exposing his hand to the air.

    “And let there be light,” he joked, snapping the fingers. Instantly, lightning jolted into the air, venting into the electrical units of the house, and the lights in the kitchen came on. It was funny how he was never jolted himself, but then again, all the shocks he had gotten growing up with Pikachu and traveling with the mouse, his body was a personal insulator. Maybe his powers only affected him in large doses, like when he had melted the truck with superheat.

    He put the glove on, and picked up the container he had selected. As he suspected it was a type of meat. Where Serena was planning on eating bacon Ash did not know, nor did he care. Still, it would be a shame to let it go to waste, he decided, picking up one of the pans he would need.

    ***

    Serena blinked, but even that hurt, as she rose from her sleep. She groaned, sunlight streaming through an open window to her left, covering herself even further in the blanket shrouding her form. Wait…what am I doing here? she asked silently, feeling underneath the blanket the small, barely visible robe. Why am I almost naked?

    “Uhhggg,” she groaned again, trying to find the strength to get up. A strange scent entered her nose, sweet and crispy. Was it…bacon? “Ash…” she murmured, rising from the bed, and feeling a powerful headache enter her mind, forcing her to grip her head with both palms. She took a deep breath, and it receded somewhat, so she hoisted herself up, and opened the door to the strangest thing she had ever seen.

    Ash was standing in the kitchen, mixing something, and the table before the TV was stacked with food. Bacon, eggs, and what looked like pancakes except for the shape. “Morning 3,” Ash called from the room, sending Serena into another torture session with her hangover. “Oh-sorry, forgot. This is why I keep it to one or two a day, any more is just bad for ya.”

    For a moment, she thought she caught him grinning, but assumed it was just the light bugging her. He walked over to her with some sort of disgusting-looking drink in his hands. “Here, drink up,” he whispered, setting it in her hands. “You’ll be all better in a second.”

    She glanced at the amber contents questionably, but decided anything was better than the aching throb in her head, and downed it in one gulp, coughing at the vile taste. For a second, nothing happened, then the headache cleared, and Serena returned to normal, though her eyes were still bloodshot.

    “Feel better,” he asked.

    She nodded. “Much, thanks. What’s all this stuff?” She pointed to the food, and Ash’s eyes lightened.

    “I thought a peace-offering might be a good idea, and I wanted to talk to you about something,” he replied, helping her upright, and gently leading her to the couch, handing her a plate in the process. “I set up all the stuff last night for May, we’re good to go.”

    She barely recognized what he had said, and instead started to fill her plate with everything in sight. Both ate for a while, not speaking. Serena relished the taste, Ash didn’t notice or care, as long as it filled him up. It wasn’t long before both had finished, the platters of food Ash had prepared were soon demolished by Serena’s appetite. Ash set his plate down earlier, he never ate more than what was needed for him. He watched Serena until she was finished, what he wanted to say could wait.

    When she was finally done, she set her plate down with a whistle. “That settles it Ash, you’re the cook from now on! You do this better than I can,” she murmured, settling her head back. “Man, that was gooooood!”

    “I’m glad you liked it 3,” he replied, resting his back against the sofa. “Actually, there was something I wanted to talk to you about. Do you remember anything about last night?” She shook her head, and he nodded. “Well, you know that game you like to play where you chain me to the bedposts? You did that, and got jolted by my lightning rod of a body. From now on, let’s try not to do that.”

    She nodded, feeling a slight tingle emerge on her face. Ash ignored it.

    “Another thing, I…I sort of understand a little of why you did it last night,” he answered, turning his head to look at the floor. “I saw the dictionary 3, and to be honest, it kind of caught me by surprise.”

    “Dictionary…” Serena’s memory blasted into realization, Ash was talking about the word she had left the book open. If possible, she grew even more scarlet in her cheeks, but Ash didn’t notice. “I…uh...well…”

    “I understand at least why you’ve been venting your lust at me,” he sighed, rubbing his eyes. “It’s okay to admit that you might be in love, but annoying me with your frustration is not the way to go.”

    She blinked. “Huh?”

    Ash raised a hand, and continued. “Let me finish. When we’re done with this mission, I don’t want you to have any regrets with me, so it might be a good idea not to be physical in any way.” He turned to her, and forced a half-smile onto his face. “If we could, you think we could just be friends? I’d like our being partners to be a good experience, and I’d like to help you with your love problem, since you came to help mine.”

    She blinked. “Huh?”

    “If you help me with this mission, I’ll help you with your love problems,” he answered, extending a hand. “I want to be your friend, and I want this mission to work for both of us. We have a long road ahead, and I want your help.”

    She almost laughed, he had completely missed any sign of her emotions, though he had gotten the love part right. He really doesn’t understand people at all, does he? Then she did laugh, rolling on the couch, unable to keep it within herself anymore. “Ash, you really do have a lot to learn about women,” she giggled, feeling tears coming to her eyes.

    “What do you mean?” he asked, slightly confused. “Why are you laughing?”

    She brushed a tear out of her eye, and glanced back up at his utterly oblivious face. “Never mind Ash, you’ll find out one day, when you’re ready.”

    His eyes widened in confusion, but they soon closed. Ash’s head fell back, and his body relaxed. He fell asleep on me? she thought, first impulse being to wake him and force the Ranger to listen to her. But…his face was so peaceful, Serena found she could not. “Sleep idiot,” she muttered, brushing her hair out of her face. “You did a good night’s work.”

    She stood up to clear the mess Ash left her to deal with. The White Ranger grabbed the plates, and stacked them onto the counter, Ash would clean them up later when he was awake. She put away the various things the man had used to make the breakfast, and shut the fridge. “Idiot,” she said, brushing off her hands, “making a helpless thing like me do manual labor.” She put her hands on her hips, a smile on her face.

    “At least he wants to be friends,” she sighed, walking over to the unconscious lug she called her partner. Ash was starting to sound like a wild animal in his sleep, the man did not know how to remain silent while dreaming. “That’s got to count for something.” Ash looked cute to her when he was asleep, no matter how loud he was. The dull eyes were locked away, and the true beauty of the face came out.

    She couldn’t resist, and bent her head forward. Don’t do this…a voice in her head whispered, but she brushed it out of her mind. Not even an explosion will wake him. His lips were so close, her body took over. She brushed them lightly with her own, his mouth opening.

    She didn’t hesitate, not that she could, and deepened the kiss. Their tongues matched, Serena’s eyes opening to see something golden on Ash’s chest gleaming at her, almost in warning. She broke the kiss, horrified with herself. “Oh man,” she moaned, rubbing her head. “I shouldn’t have done that, I shouldn’t have done that, I shouldn’t have…” She lifted her hand to her mouth, it was still tingling from the touch.

    “Ash…I’m sorry,” she whispered, staring at the ground. “I…can’t just be your friend. I can’t, when I know that’s all I can be to you.” She sank her head, and walked out of the room, heading for the computer that could watch May perfectly. “How can I just be your friend…when I’m in love with you…?”

    She felt a tear come to her face, and let it fall again onto the wooden floor.
    _____________________________
    And thus ends the arc of annoyance without action! I bet you're all tired of it! Next time, Ash and Serena deepen their investigation into the dark morphers used by the mystery Ranger! When another emerges, can they stop him? Will Ash morph? Will I stop asking questions? Of course not, so one more. What does Serena's Ranger form look like?

    And all the while, May and Sarah continue having mixed emotions when they spot Ash in public with Serena. Sarah struggles with whether she can trust the man named 0, and May is fighting her own inner battle of love!

    Why am I telling you all this? Because you have to wait until August, when the next chapter comes out! I'm going to Greece suckas, so review if ya can, and keep your eyes out! I'll be back!

    NEXT! Morph Eight- Disorder Coming in August!

    Like the sig? Made it myself....
    Last edited by Power Shot; 10th June 2006 at 12:54 AM.
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

  24. #24
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    Feb 2005
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    I've been reading this for a while, and I really like the plot. I don't think I've seen anything like this. I love it :]

    There's lots of emotion with the characters, and that's really important. Especially with Serena loving Ash. That little detail adds more suspense, for me at least.

    This story is definitely worth waiting until August for. Have fun in Greece!

  25. #25
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    Oct 2005
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    The Batmobile
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    Just felt like announcing that...

    I'M BACK SUCKAS! EXPECT A NEW CHAPTER SOON!
    Zepther is not a perfect city, filled with crime and evil. Through its dark alleys and narrows streets, a silent watcher protects the people, calling forth the darkness of metal to defend them. Cloaked in black, shrouded in the mysteries of his past, his cold heart is true as steel. His name is Chronos. He is the Dark Eye.
    The legacy begins...

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